I still seem to be getting a good amount of hits here but just so you know, we moved from this domain to SOUND AS LANGUAGE about two years ago. So, please do hit up the newer site to catch up on everything!
Like a tight pair of jeans, we are breaking this new site in….especially in that pesky crotch area. New posts will start next week. We will be working over the next few days to update and iron out all the kinks. Growing pains are happening but it’s all for the best. Stay tuned.
(Update: We are redirecting back to the WordPress URL while we work on the new site this weekend. Thanks for the patience.)
With Hatchet, Pike And Gun “The Greater Good” (Self-Released)
Can you feel the rhythm in your bones? That particular lyric from With Hatchet, Pike & Gun’s “The Truth About Love & Hate” speaks to the overall power of the band’s debut EP, The Greater Good. There is a bubbling up beneath the surface of With Hatchet, Pike & Gun’s music. The band is reminiscent of The Colour Revolt in many ways. Thematically and lyrically the two bands mirror each other. However, WP&G offer a more unpolished take on this forceful brand of rock. The opening refrain of opener “The Hands” sets the tone. Set up your idols/polish them off/get on your knees/idolotry is okay with me/just as long as I am making my money! Dark religious and societal themes give The Greater Good a heavy burden but one the band is able to carry. WHP&G are also able to dial it down for a few songs. “Maternal Instincts” echoes the somber grace and bitterness of some of the best David Bazan/Pedro The Lion material. Two other bands that come to mind are Shiner and perhaps a less mathy version of the great Roadside Monument. Needless to say, WHP&G keep good company. Album closers “Slither” and “We Disagree” combine both facets of the band’s musical prowess perfectly. These tracks showcase a remarkable progression and what this band is capable of when at their best. The Greater Good shines a light on the dirtiness of the world. It may not always be pretty but life rarely is.
RIYL: The Colour Revolt, Pedro The Lion, Roadside Monument
Lesson #1 when trying to gather hype for a band. Release as much stuff as you can before you release a debut full-length. Cause when you release that debut full-length you simply can not hide behind only 1 or 2 songs anymore. Lesson #2 sign to a big indie label like Merge, Matador or maybe even Sub Pop. Lesson #3 make sure you hire a high-profile indie producer for that debut-full length so he can mask all your deficiencies. Perhaps you can even find one who is already in a hip indie band like David Sitek from TV On The Radio. Lesson #4 let him produce the record but reject his final mix for the album. It creates intrigue and controversy. It is all about stirring the pot! Lesson #5 include those hit singles that got you where you are as bonus tracks on the album. I mean, they haven’t been heard enough already, right?
Perhaps I am being a bit too harsh with my assessment. The point is that I can definitely see why people might be hating on Foals. The ingredients are certainly present. But, as much as I wanted to dislike Foals’ debut full-length album, Antidotes, it just never happened. With every listen, the band won me over more and more. Foals do more with less than any band I can recall. The band has only two speeds yet, the tracking of the album is so on point that the listener hardly notices the band’s lack of tempo shifts. David Sitek should be commended as his organic production adds a great deal of depth to the band’s brand of jittery pop. The instrumental additions of horns and organ give ample weight to the band’s often monochromatic sounds. Foals are able to wrap their songs with a unique repetition that hypnotizes the listener. Before you know it, 14 songs and nearly an hour of music has gone by. No matter what style, tempo or angle Foals choose to attack from, they are successful more times than not. So, ignore the naysayers, Foals do indeed have the antidote for boring indie rock.
We are switching back to the old format until the new site is up. All you complainers can rejoice!
Until the new site is ready to go, it will be SLOW around SAL.
I apologize ahead of time if the site experiences any down time…it is bound to happen.
I have four contributors lined up…still looking for one or two more. Email me (email@example.com) if you are interested.
Along with Get Bent, these are some other pop-influenced punk rock bands that have me going lately. All of them have new stuff that was either just released or is about to be released. Check them out.
Red And Blue (members of Get Bent!)
Trever Keith “Melancholics Anonymous” (Self-Released)
For people who have followed Face To Face over the years, it sure is wonderful to hear the familiar vocals of Trever Keith once again. As the blitzkrieg of opening track “Cross Your Heart And Hope To Die” blasts from the stereo it feels like a warm embrace from a long lost friend. Melancholics Anonymous is Keith’s unfortunately titled solo debut. Thankfully, the album sheds the singer/songwriter tag, instead going for a full band approach the majority of the time.
It becomes apparent half-way through Melancholics Anonymous that the album owes a great deal to Face To Face’s most controversial release. The ill-received 1999 album, Ignorance Is Bliss, was the band’s attempt to move out of from under the melodic pop/punk constraints. The album was seen as a failure at the time by many fans. So much so that the band let the fans pick the songs for the next record which was sarcastically titled, Reactionary. Through the subsequent years though, Ignorance Is Bliss has won quite a few Face To Face fans over, including myself. And fans of that album and Face To Face in general should find a lot to love in finally hearing Keith again on Melancholics Anonymous.
If you study Face To Face’s excellent covers album, 2001’s Standards & Practices, you can really see where the band’s influences were birthed. On that album, the band covered artists as diverse as Jawbreaker and Fugazi to The Smiths and The Psychedelic Furs. On Melancholics Anonymous those influences become even more apparent. The hints of British pop are coated all over Keith’s solo debut. Perhaps the most telling cover of Standards & Practices is Sugar’s “Helpless.” Bob Mould who had previously fronted melodic punk band Hüsker Dü moved into more accessible waters with Sugar’s finely coated pop rock. Keith emulates that movement here as he settles into a successful groove of pop bombast mixed with brit-pop tenderness. It results in an album chock full of alt-rock nuggets.
Despite Face To Face’s recent reunion shows, Melancholics Anonymous prove that Trever Keith will be just fine when he finally decides to leave Face To Face completely in his past. Granted, if you never liked Face To Face then you might want to move on before you start. But, if you ever had a soft spot for the band then you should at least give Keith’s Melancholics Anonymous a try. It might just surprise you.
RIYL: Face To Face, Bob Mould, Samiam
Cross Your Heart And Hope To Die
LaGrecia “My Lightning” (new band from Jason Shevchuk of Kid Dynamite and None More Black)
Glass And Ashes “Seconds Before The Floor Drops Out”
13ghosts “The Lonely Death of Space Avenger”
The Tim Version “W.H.A.”
Ghost Buffalo “The Latest Wonder”
I Love Math “Josephine Street”
Jr. Juggernaut “Another Two Weeks”
An Horse “Company”
Mt. Wilson Repeater “All Night Every Day”
Oceans performing a new song called “Boy Detective” at the Canopy Club in Urbana, IL last month! Thanks to Jeffrey Kolar for the video. You can now download the band’s awesome 2007 demo from their myspace player. Go ahead…get your broceans on!
Plunder, Beg And Curse is a difficult album to latch onto. Whereas The Colour Revolt’s debut EP was an emotional roller coaster that showcased the band’s penchant for melodies and emotion soaked rhythms, Plunder, Beg And Curse, takes the road less traveled. I am not quite sure what happened with the band’s label deal. The band originally signed to a subsidiary of Interscope to re-release their EP but Plunder, Beg And Curse appears courtesy of blues gone indie rock label, Fat Possum. And frankly, after listening to Plunder, Beg And Curse, I can tell why a major label would want to stay far, far away. They have no clue how to sell or market a record like this (or any records nowadays…hehe).
Lyrically, The Colour Revolt have always been anything but light. That theme certainly continues on Plunder, Beg And Curse. The band is displaying some heavy lyrical imagery here. Religious and spiritual tones color the album’s canvas, almost to a fault. There are a few moments, like on the warm, atmospheric tracks “See It” and “Moses Of The South,” where the band chooses to come up for some much-needed air and brief levity. Much of the time though, Plunder, Beg And Curse is cold and suffers under its own weight. The band has a hard time adjusting the tempo and dynamics of their songs as well. Because of all this, Plunder, Beg And Curse struggles to make a lasting impression on the listener.
The Colour Revolt are a challenging band and anyone looking for a cheap thrill from a rock record should definitely look elsewhere. Plunder, Beg And Curse suffers from the band’s complete shunning of what made their debut EP such a breath of fresh air. On the other hand, you have to admire a band seemingly unwilling to compromise their art. It is abundantly clear that Colour Revolt know exactly what they want and they certainly give it a valiant effort on Plunder, Beg And Curse. Perhaps next time, they can meet the listener somewhere in the middle.
Naked and Red
– Music Review Archives have been updated through April…sorry I’ve been slack on that in the last couple of months. SAL is up over 500 reviews now. Holy crap!
– Tonight, I am writing reviews for the first time in quite a while. Life has been very hectic lately, personal and professional. I apologize…hopefully the lag time will be kept brief.
– A site redesign is just around the corner (hopefully). I’m talking to a few people as I certainly don’t want to have anything to do with it.
– Contributors are a go. Should be later this month that I get that going. I have one lined up, one in mind and am open to a couple more. If you are interested send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Think that is it for now.
Pyramids mesmerized quite a few with their last album, 2006’s Following The Tracks, Forcing Motion Through Phases. Their second full-length, Through The Hourglass, showcases a slightly different approach for the band. The album comes off as more straight-forward than the Following The Tracks. I guess that is relative though as Pyramids can hardly be described as your traditional hardcore/screamo band.
The band mixes instrumental passages into the framework of their songs quite masterfully. It recalls the genre-defying style of a band like Envy most of all. For better or worse, much of Through The Hourglass follows the blueprint of Following The Tracks. The feeling of embarking on a journey envelopes the listener during both albums. But, while it might make for a seamless listening transition from one album to the next, Through The Hourglass is difficult to approach because of those same similarities. Simply put, Through The Hourglass struggles to find the same unique footing that Following The Tracks was able to latch onto quite easily.
The final three songs of Through The Hourglass are able to touch a nerve. With piano, feedback and jagged screaming, “The Phoenix” is the band’s most ambitious and experimental song yet. The eight minute “Two Eternities” rises and falls so man different times it is nearly impossible to keep track. Album closer “Time With An Ending” closes out the album in a flurry of chaos and screams. The album’s ending serves as its most powerful statement.
It’s a curse to release such a tremendous debut. Through The Hourglass is compelling but simply falls short of the expectations that Following The Tracks created. I can imagine if this was my first introduction to the band that I would be giving it much higher praise though. Still, as far as emotionally draining albums go, Pyramids seem to have the market cornered.
Get Bent “2008 Demo” (Self-Released)
I guess I should pay more attention to stuff I get in the mail. Get Bent sat on my desk for at least a week without a single glance or listen. That is until I turned the demo over and saw that it was recorded by Latterman‘s Phil Douglas. So, I quickly popped the CD into my computer and voila, instant awesomeness! Owing a debt to Douglas’ former band, Get Bent pound out five songs of anthemic pop/punk rock. Melodic, gruff and oozing with sincerity, Get Bent exercise a more rustic take on pop/punk. “City” brings to mind the authentic quality that a band like The Gaslight Anthem have. As is the case with most of Douglas’ recordings, he stays out of the way and lets the band shine through with their own style. Get Bent may not have hit a home run on their demo, but they got a double off the top of the wall. And sometimes, that’s all it takes to win the game (sorry, it’s baseball season, I couldn’t help myself).
(You can order this demo for just $2 in the U.S. Hit the band’s myspace up.)
RIYL: Latterman, The Gaslight Anthem, Yo Man Go!
In the interest of full disclosure, I am excited to announce that I will now be working with Beartrap PR. Beartrap was started a few years ago by my buddy Chuck Daley who I worked with at Deep Elm Records. I have watched it grow tremendously and am honored to become a part of that growth. Chuck has worked with some amazing bands and I have covered many of them at SAL over the last few years. Here is Beartrap’s endearing little mission statement:
Beartrap is a DIY promotion and publicity company that’s focused on establishing a strong community with the people who are dedicated to making (or supporting) music for the sake of music.
I am not sure what all of this will mean for SAL. By no means are we dead though. Things might be a little sluggish at times but hopefully I will still be updating the site on a daily basis for the most part. However, this week might be a bit slow as I make the transition.
While it might raise some ethical questions, I assure you SAL will NOT become a Beartrap promotional site. Obviously, as of right now, I will not be reviewing any more Beartrap bands from here on out.
You know where to find me if you have any questions.
The dub of the appropriately titled album opener “Holy Dub” opens up Blake/e/e/e’s Border Radio. While it is not necessarily a harbinger of things to come, it does speak to the wide open frontiers that lay ahead of the listener. Border Radio reminds me of a band like Califone and their unique brand of songwriting. Both Califone and Blake/e/e/e are centered around folk but extensively explore the experimental side of the genre. Both groups hail from Chicago as well.
After arguably the album’s two most accessible tracks, “New Millenium’s Lack Of Self Explanation” and “The Great Rescue Episode,” the band sets off on a great exploration. Touching on another Chicago musician, “Narrow Zone” sounds like some of Tim Kinsella’s more off-the-wall material. The abrasive “Time Machine” is what I would describe as a misstep. But even a misstep brings out the charm of Blake/e/e/e. At every point of Border Radio, the band shows a willingness to use their entire sonic space. “The Thing’s Hollow” sees Marcella Riccardi taking over on vocals for the first time. Recalling the grace and power of PJ Harvey, the song rumbles below the surface before coming to an appropriate end. “Holy Yes To The Sunny Days” majestically recalls Sub Pop’s Holopaw with its banjo and understated beauty. The 10 minute “Dub-Human-Ism” is next and it is almost hypnotic in its other-worldly approach. Album closer “Saint Lawrence Tears” sees Riccardi making another vocal appearance. Once again, it is a highlight as her voice floats over a lone banjo. The song is a powerful statement that leads the album to a timely finish. The production of Settlefish guitarist Bruno Germano should be noted as he always allows the band’s unmistakable personality to breathe through.
In essence, Border Radio is a telling album title. Blake/e/e/e take the listener on a vivid and diverse musical journey. The band walks the tightrope of being eclectic but hardly ever to the detriment of their songs. Through fields of indie, folk and psychedelic rock, Blake/e/e/e delve into the heart and soul of experimental songcraft. Afterall, this is not radio, it’s Border Radio.
RIYL: Holopaw, Sparklehorse, Califone
New Millenium’s Lack Of Self Explanation
The Great Rescue Episode
You know, the pop/punk gods can be a cruel bunch at times. But they make it up to me every now and then. Lemuria are certainly one of those godsends. The Buffalo, NY band finally graces us with a proper full-length release and it is a charming listen. Perhaps not as immediate as the songs from the band’s split with Kind Of Like Spitting, Get Better is a bit of grower.
The dynamic between co-vocalists Sheena Ozzella (guitar) and Alex Kerns (drums) is still the most compelling part of Lemuria. Granted, Ozzella is carrying the majority of the vocal load here but Kern’s contributions add a great deal of weight and tension to the band’s compositions. There is a subtleness expressed throughout Get Better. Lemuria’s songs are indeed melodic but never seem to be looking for a cheap hook. For the most part, the tempos are slower throughout Get Better as well. The arrangements show off a weathered maturity and tend to be looking outside the framework of the narrow pop/punk field.
Now, I love well played pop/punk, especially the female-fronted kind. However, the bands that excite me the most in the genre are the ones that are willing to move beyond all the normal constrictions. Lemuria answer the bell with Get Better and prove they a much more than just another pop/punk band. Taking the road less trampled upon, Lemuria make a compelling case for an even brighter future.
New Brookland Tavern!
$5 Over 21/$7 Under 21
Various Artists “Keep Singing!” (Exotic Fever)
A Benefit Compilation For Compassion Over Killing
Now here is a compilation actually worthy of your time and attention. As a vegetarian myself, Keep Singing! touches a personal chord for me. All the artists here are passionate about veganism, vegetarianism and animal rights. It certainly shows as Keep Singing! is a remarkable example of the power of music. There are truly some amazing bands here. Sinaloa, Life At These Speeds and Des_Ark are favorites of mine and their songs do not disappoint. Besides those three, highlights come from one of Exotic Fever’s newest signings, Now Sleepyhead, with their atmospheric track “Pandemic.” The lyrically bold “You Are Not Collateral Damage” is a classic slice of melodic hardcore from Strike Anywhere. The Vonneguts “Tonight’s A Sadist” is an intriguing post-punk romp. Off Minor‘s “Abattoir” is a quick, powerful burst of energy. Boston’s Junius ends the compilation on perhaps the most compelling note as they encompass a majestic post-rock sound. Other artists included are: Gina Young, Attrition, In First Person, Sean McArdle, Wrong Day to Quit, Kathy Cashel and Ampere. Also, as an added bonus, each band/artist contributes a vegetarian/vegan recipe which can be downloaded from the enhanced CD. Sinaloa’s Vegan Mac And Cheese looks pretty delicious! As was stated, all the profits from Keep Singing! will go directly to Compassion Over Killing. Keep Singing! is one of those rare compilations that finds a perfect balance between amazing music and a great cause. Well done.
Posted in Mp3, Music, Music Reviews | Tags: Ampere, Attrition, Compassion Over Killing, Des_Ark, Gina Young, In First Person, Junius, Kathy Cashel, Life At These Speeds, Music Reviews, Now Sleepyhead, Off Minor, Sean McArdle, Sinaloa, Sound As Language, Strike Anywhere, The Vonneguts, Wrong Day To Quit
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