To My Surprise To My Surprise

I am a huge fan of side projects. That is the forum where music fans get to hear what creations come from unlikely pairings or groupings. But it is also the place where musicians (or at least the adventurous ones) can step outside of their existing persona to explore new dimensions to their musical personality. Musicians that proudly wear unexpected influences on their sleeve are likely to create music that truly represents a snapshot of their lives as they see it in current times. Slipknot’s drummer M. Shawn Crahan is doing just that in To My Surprise. This trio, with remaining members being Brandon Darner (vocals and guitars) and Stevan Robinson (guitar), has managed to create a sound that is modernly retro. The lush boppy feel of "Blue” sounds like it would be perfect nestled between Joe Jackson and the Clash tracks on an ultimate mix. But yet "In the Mood” has a rougher, less defined edge. The samples, like the radio in "Turn it Back Around,” and the piano on "This Life” add subtle layers to the album that continue to unfold with each listen. (Roadrunner)