Autopilot reverses to find their influence


Autopilot is (left to right): Jose A. Fuenzalida, Colton Fehr, Marlon Harder and Jeremy Rigby.

Autopilot is (left to right): Jose A. Fuenzalida, Colton Fehr, Marlon Harder and Jeremy Rigby.

With a focus on experimental sound in their music, local indie band Autopilot has a strong showing on their second album Diamond Rough.

Displaying a mix of 90s alternative rock, pop music and a willingness to vary their sound, this album has a great appeal to more than prairie residents.

The band features Marlon Harder on guitar and vocals, Jose A. Fuenzalida on drums, Colton Fehr on bass and Jeremy Rigby on guitar. The songs have a strong feeling of 90’s alternative bands such as Sonic Youth, with a melancholy undertone and lyrics looking at loss, illness, and traveling on the road — all complimented by a cohesive sound that’s easy to listen to.

The album opener “Diamond Rough” gives the impression of a weathered band as the singer howls, “When we were young/Not a thought about what we were running from.”

The band may not bring something wildly different, but their sheer musical chemistry and tight composition make the first song leave you wanting more.

Harder’s vocals are akin to the rough stylings of Modest Mouse blended with the psychedelic nature of Led Zeppelin into a voice that is immediately entrancing and will have you hooked on his every word.

“Down and Out” is a perfect sample of Autopilot using all the tools at their disposal and coming together perfectly. It features an infectious hook and instrumentation where each member is feeding off of each others energy.

The two-part song, “A Song From A Hospital Hallway” delivers the bands clearest expression of innovation in the form of musical storytelling. There is loneliness attributed to the lyrics and the instrumentation seems to echo into an empty world. Those tracks represent the peak for the album already full of many great moments.

While most descriptors of the album talk up the band’s different use of sound — such as adding texture by using a bow on the guitar — it is done very subtly. A handful of moments do stand out, but otherwise it isn’t overly done.

The band manages to work these ideas throughout the album without being distracting, but at the same time one would expect such features to be more noticeable in the songs. The subtlety won’t take away from the experience and the small changes manage to push this band to the front of the pack.

From an experimental standpoint there isn’t much about this album that stands out. What pushes it to the top is the tightness of the production and confidence the band has in their music. Diamon Rough is an album from a band confident in their ability, with enough differentiations to create their own sound out of older musical influences.

The lyrics talk about times gone by and missed opportunities, the search for oneself and the desire to escape and struggle through bad situations. Not the happiest topics, but they are determined and strong and meaningful.

Diamond Rough is a good album, not outstanding, but it has solid music and lyrics and the band handles their songs with clear skill. Autopilot has presented a strong showing here, and as it has just been released this is a perfect time to get to know the artists.

Autopilot’s official CD release is Dec. 13, and will be celebrated at Amigos Cantina. Diamond Rough is also available online through iTunes, Bandcamp and CDbaby. Find the band online at

Photo: Supplied by Autopilot