Sky Orchid - Oculus (2017)

Written by Wendy Owen, posted by blog admin

This is a release impossible for pop rock or modern rock fans to dislike and has real commercial potential. The Traknyak brothers, Daniel and Gabriel, are responsible for all the instrumental and vocal performances on Oculus, Sky Orchid’s first release, and the songwriting maintain a level of excellence over the course of its ten songs difficult for even veteran acts to achieve. As songwriters, the brothers possess a classicist’s sense of structure and Sky Orchid’s songs are arranged in such a way they function almost as mini movies with great melodic strengths. Guitar is important to Oculus’ success and it’s no slight to call Sky Orchid a pop rock outfit in the making because they attack the style with imagination and passion. Nothing on Oculus is paint by numbers or cookie cutter, yet it has a rare cohesiveness in any album, let alone a debut.

The Traknyaks set the bar high with the opener “The River”. A surprising strength, perhaps, in their arsenal is lyrical content proving to mix the specific and general with the same tastefulness and impressionist impact imparted by the music. Gabriel Traknyak is a superb interpreter of the words and, like any great vocalist can, elevates them to performed poetry. “Sneakers” is one of the newer songs written for this release and noticeably different than the opener, but they share the same general tenor and the production consistency. Gabriel Traknyak has an appealing voice full of raw throated blues, but yet capable of immense sweetness. “In the Fire (Pt. 1)” elaborates on the expansive feel of “The River”, yet has more memorable melodic strengths than the first song. Daniel Traknyak’s drumming is on point and he hits hard without ever allowing the song to plod and Gabriel Traknyak’s singing gets under the skin of the tune without ever overshadowing the arrangement.

“Wildfire” goes in a much different direction than earlier songs with its acoustic sound and Gabriel Traknyak distinguishes himself with his playing alone. His vocal, however, is another stellar turn on an album full of them and he tailors his voice to the sensitivity the song requires. “Lex” is one of the album’s most balanced songs and the guitar melody sticks in listener’s memory even tighter than the other excellent work on Oculus. “Breathe Easy” is the oldest track included on Oculus and comes off as a fun, toying take on reggae that even references Bob Marley early on, but it has some surprising twists. Guitar takes over on the last part of the song and Gabriel Traknyak unleashes some wicked playing. One of the more intense turns on Oculus comes with the song “Yesterday” and the piano playing is especially effective at conveying the song’s brooding spirit. Sky Orchid’s Oculus’ ten songs are full of youthful energy, but there’s sophistication here beyond their years and it’s full of promise for the future.