Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Risk - S/T

You know the situation...you hear about a band for the first time and you think they are awesome.  Then you delve into it to try and find out when they're playing.  Sadly you find out that they broke up already.  How did I miss Risk while they were a band?  What the hell kind of rock was I living under? 

Risk is from Brooklyn but play music totally uncharacteristic from everything else coming out of that area.  The music is screamy, chaotic, introspective and well executed. Think of Closure mixed with a little bit of The Exelar and you start to get a little bit of an idea. 

I'm really enjoying how Risk mixes late 90's style with some more modern song structure.  The dual contrasting screamers keep things interesting on the vocal front.  Each instrument seems to have a good handle on it's duties, but together a really nice and well rounded musical presentation. 

Listen to it here.

Rayleigh - S/T

From Edmonton, Canada, Rayleigh features some members of Mahria playing downtuned, heavy and chaotic music that sounds somewhat similar to bands like Dead in The Dirt and Furnace, but with a little extra melody (see the interlude about halfway through "Archauthoritarians" and the verse of "Drones") reminiscent of Orchid or One Eye God Prophecy.

The production is purposely dirty and raw, but still provides enough clarity so that you're not totally lost.  When things get chaotic you might find yourself experiencing a "wall of noise" moment.

The vocals have a mid range shout that has me thinking of bands like Capsule or Veloz at times. There's some interesting song writing here and the drum work pulls everything together, adding that extra emphasis where it needs to be.  All in all, a great batch of songs.

Have a listen here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Funeral Diner - Underdark Kickstarter Campaign

Long defunct Bay Area band Funeral Diner is running a kickstarter campaign to repress their record "The Underdark".  You can get information on the campaign here and have a listen to the record in it's entirety below:.

Hush - Untitled I

Hush are tuned so low that it sounds like their strings are going to flop right off of their guitars at any moment.  It's a crushing sound that sticks to the slow and heavy formula.  Perhaps picture bands like Rosetta or East of the Wall when formulating an idea of how Hush comes across.

The production works well in translating the downtuned guitars and powerful vocals.  I wish there was a little more attention to the drum sound, but overall it's nothing that takes away from the experience.

I picture Hush playing through full stacks, pummeling the audience with ridiculous noise levels and tone.  Hoping to catch this in a live setting one of these days.

Listen to it here.

Blood Red - See Something Say Something

Musically and vocally, there's some serious Ink and Dagger worship happening here, but I suppose it's refreshing since no one really attempts to step into this territory all that often. Thankfully there doesn't seem to be any vampire themed lyrics or aesthetic though.  Blood Red is from Pittsburgh and features members of Hounds of Hate, Pissed Jeans and Rambo.  I find myself enjoying Blood Red more than any of those bands though.

The music has a good amount of variety, changing things up from fast to slow quite often in a smooth, well executed fashion. The musicianship is creative and doesn't just stick to the bare bones generic hardcore routine.  Vocally you'll hear the familiar Ink and Dagger style shout that almost borders on comical at times.  

Listen to it here.

Ardvarck - High Hopes

Ardvarck is one of few bands (Nurture is the other that comes to mind) playing this more mid tempo, halfway subdued, style of 90's inspired emo.  It's pretty excellent if you have a liking for this style. 

Think a little more chaotic than Life at These Speeds, a less pretentious Stop It and maybe a little bit of Four Hundred Years, then you can start to get an idea of Ardvarck's sound. There are some heavier moments that interject here and there, but they are used sparingly.  Scream/shout vocals that carry some coherence to them fill up the top end, while the dense, chord heavy guitar work rains over some solid bass and drums.

The production has some rawness to it, though you can hear everything pretty well.  It's that perfect balance between bad quality and too polished.  Lyrics seem to focus mostly on personal matters in a more abstract way. 

Listen to it here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Polemarch - A Static Future

Polemarch are from Finland and sound a lot like early La Quiete and Raein material.  The jangly guitars and mid range bass drive the engine of these songs that take on characteristics of both melody and chaos.  

The screamed vocals on top have a totally incoherent, over the top, sound to them that makes the whole presentation sound that much more intense.  Though, these vocals can sometimes drop into a more subdued talk/shout to work some quick dynamics into the mix. 

Overall, if you're a fan of that early 2000's Italian screamo sound then this will definitely be right up your alley.  It's well done and I can't wait to hear more.

Have a listen here.

Go Deep - Counseling

I almost wrote Go Deep off because the name makes me think of the jock hardcore bands like Ten Yard Fight or Mouthpiece. When I found out they were playing here this week I suspended my judgement and checked it out. 

Go Deep do what they do very well.  It's hardcore and it's aggressive, but it doesn't carry any tough guy nonsense that often bothers me about this genre.  Similar to a band like Hell Mary, Go Deep have a nack for not following traditional song writing methods and employing some vocals that present themselves as honest in their straight forward approach. 

These 7 songs are impressive to me because they take a genre that's been done to death and add new life to it. It's almost as if the band has taken everything from older traditional hardcore like Youth of Today and infused it with modern hardcore in a way that shows the best of what each time period has to offer.

Have a listen here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nervous Mothers - Demo

Featuring former members of Millions of Them, Nervous Mothers are from Antwerp, Belguim.  They play an intense style of hardcore with tons of blast beats and fast changes.  It's has an extremely brutal presentation that holds nothing back and gets straight to the point. 

Fast drums, furious guitars and vocals that go from a desperate scream to a low growl makes this assault work really well.  There's only two songs here, but it's worth the listen for sure.  I can't wait to hear more.

Listen to it here.

Bonehouse - The Long Summer

First and foremost, when designing your bandcamp page do not use white text on a foam green background.  It makes your lyrics impossible to read. 

That said, Bonehouse has a definite 90's emo sound to them, moving to the side of the Ethel Messerve/Braid sound but perhaps with a little bit more of an aggressive approach at times (particularly in some of the distorted guitar tones).  It can be catchy and interesting; the kind of songs that seem to have a good deal of emotional dynamics to draw you in.

The band seems to utilize the group chanting device often. This is used to emphasize particular sections of lyrics, repeated anywhere from 4 to 6 times in a row.  Sometimes they create a very nice effect when the lead vocals sprinkle over the top of the chanting. Speaking of the lead vocals.  This is probably the most compelling part of the whole thing for me.  The vocals come across in a slightly off key, but "still trying to nail it" sort of way that seems to lend itself well to sound very honest and present. 

Listen to it here.

Holy - The Age of Collapse

Holy play an angry straight forward brand of dark hardcore similar to Dire Wolf and Cop Problem.  There's a ton of fast d-beat influenced drumming with screeching feedback guitars providing a raw feel. The pummeling bass tone doesn't hurt things either.  The vocals hit that perfect mid range between a generic shout and incorherent scream. 

It's nothing that's going to reinvent the musical wheel, but it's done extremely well and in a way that promotes creativity moreso than most bands playing this style. There's some extremely accomplished drumming here and it translates a wonderfully aggressive tone over the whole presentation.

The band comes from Milano, Italy, which makes me think I should pay more attention to the area and see if there anymore bands of this calibur coming out of there. Lyrics tend to be focused on atheism/rationalism and other accounts of free thinking. 

Listen to it here

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tellusian - Scania

It's sort of prog, sort of metal, sort of heavy...it's a whole lot all at once.  Tellusian are from Sweden and have no qualms with showing their musical aptitude.  For all the technicality the band never loses a nice flowing groove. 

Aside from the discordant and noodly guitar/bass work, the vocal and drum work were really the first thing to hit me.  There's some very impressive drumming happening here that incorporates double bass movements in a tasteful and creative way.

Vocally I'm hearing something that reminds me of Titan or Buried Inside, mostly for it's lower register growl and relentlessly brutal approach. At times you'll hear a clangy bass peak out for a short solo before the crushing guitars fill back in. For such accomplished musicians, they haven't forgotten how to work as a team and meld together nicely.

Listen to it here.

Buran - Demo '13

Buran follows the lead of bands like One Eye God Prophecy and perhaps the earlier, less sassy, Orchid material.  The songs are short and to the point providing little room for things to get very dynamic. 

What you do get is some all out assault of drums, guitars and screaming vocals.  They seem to use the old technique of coming to a full pause, allowing one guitar foster some high discordant notes, and then bringing everything back in with crushing lows once again.

Their longest song is the closer which tops out at 1:26 and provides the only melodic interlude you'll hear throughout these five tunes. 

Have a listen here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hell Mary - Drifter

Hell Mary return with four new songs that pick up where their last effort, "Forever on the Fence" left off. The band seems to experiment on this one with some unorthodox song structures and tones.  In the end it pays off. 

The guitar on this effort has a little more twangy nature to it, while the vocals take on a kind of distorted and slightly reverb affected approach.  The song writing is a little less traditional than their past work as well, making more room for instrumental moments, drastic pauses and slower, brooding vibes.

The songs are still short and hit very hard though.  I would still categorize Hell Mary as "hardcore for people who don't normally listen to hardcore", perhaps even more so now seeing their ability to step outside of their pre-constructed shell and successfully incorporate some risks.

Listen to it here.

Dead In The Dirt - The Blind Hole

This is the best record of 2013.  It is.  Don't bother trying to come up with something else.  Ok, Maybe I'm being too hasty.  There are tons of bands that try to do the heavier/d-beat influence style, but I would have to say this is the best effort of that particular style that I've heard thus far.

Dead In The Dirt have finely tuned their brand of relentless hardcore featuring tons of feedback, blast beats and down tuned goodness.  The song structures here are interesting and varied.  You're not getting just another run of the mill heavy band here.

The production quality is excellent and emphasizes their heavy sound perfectly.  The dual vocals are matched up perfectly over the music, one low and deep, the other desperate and harsh. The pummeling bass and drums provide an excellent structure for the noisy guitars.  It all fits together perfectly.  I couldn't ask for more.

Listen to it here

Friday, October 18, 2013

Calvacades / Coma Reglia / Heart On My Sleeve - split EP

I've been putting off writing a review for this because trying to tackle three bands at once is intimidating to me for some reason. Here we go, bare with me.

Cavalcades sort of reminds me of what would happened if you mixed some of the earnest song writing of Touche Amore with the more sad, depressing tone of a band like Pity Sex. The music is upbeat, jangly but still transfers a mood of melancholy and defeat. I like the risk taken here with the vocals, in which a scream is fashioned into a melodic howl. There's not much technicality to the musicianship here, but everything is solid and firing off at the speeds it should. 

Coma Regalia probably holds the record for the most split records ever done by any one band.  I'm not sure how they churn out material so quickly.  The frequency of their appearances doesn't seem to diminish the quality or intensity of their song writing though. The two songs offered here take you on a quite a journey, incorporating screamy chaos, melodic interludes and some extended instrumental pieces involving some nice piano work. The band seems to have developed the practice of making every song an epic foray, even when their run time is only two and a half minutes.

Heart On My Sleeve provide the side B of this release with two songs both clocking in over four minutes.  I've been familiar with their past material, but these two songs show some definite growth and development in the bands introspective style of song writing.  In some ways it reminds me of some of the mid 90's emo bands like Schema or Indian Summer.  Musically things stay pretty straight forward and focus more on the dynamics of soft to loud to communicate the dramatic effect.

Listen to it here.

Heathen Reign - S/T

From Philadelphia and featuring members of War Emblem, Heathen Reign have a sound reminiscent of the Louisville early 2000's bands like Coliseum and Lords.  I say this due to the rock and roll groove of some these guitar riffs, backed by a very rthym heavy song writing approach.

The vocals are powerful and up front, like they were custom made for this music. They are quite a perfect fit to emphasize the intensity.  The drumming and bass work is nothing flashy, but provides a sturdy foundation to back up the whole presentation. At times the guitar cuts out and you get a nice view of the dirty, distorted bass tone cruising upon some open drums. 

My only complaint here is that I do wish the drum sound was a bit more big and roomy sounding. Though, this is a very guitar-heavy mix so perhaps it would have clashed with the band's initial vision.  Regardless, good stuff here.

Listen to it here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Brooks Was Here - High Violence

Brooks Was Here, referencing the great 90's classic "The Shawshank Redemption with their name, play a very textured style of melodic hardcore where it seems that no one instrument is every playing the same thing at the same time.  Every player here is on their own journey, but it all mixes together extremely well. 

The scream/shout vocals are a perfect topping, providing a good amount of versatility and a good knowledge of when to hold back and let the music take over. There's even a display of melodic singing here used sparingly, but intelligently, to emphasize some of the melodic guitar parts.

I'm getting sort of a Moss Icon/Julia sort of vibe from the band at times, though it's mixed with something modern and relevant. 

Listen to it here.

Rainmaker - Alienation

Rainmaker is from Sweden and play a melodic hardcore sound that has a great emphasis on dramatic song engineering.  The band mixes up tempos and moods very well, using pauses and slight hesitations to their advantage to create a good deal of urgency.

Delay and reverb guitars shimmer with high notes while the bass growls in the background. Steady drums and desperate vocals round off the sound and the excellent production quality doesn't hurt either.  The band has a good sense of when to split up into moments like this and when to come together for a more driving sound.  Think Yage or Envy as a comparsion.  Definitely good stuff. 

Listen to it here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Chalmers, new band from Justin and Matt of We Were Skeletons

Justin and Matt of We Were Skeletons have a new band called Chalmers. It sort of picks up where WWS left off with some more of the DC inspired screamy stuff (think Hoover or Sleepy Time Trio). Very excited to hear some recordings.

Staring Problem - 3 Songs

Staring Problem play that moody indie rock that was really popular in the 80's among the Goth kids at your high school.  However, all those bad production tactics that were prevelent back then are absent here.  It's a much more raw, unfilted take on the style and it's pretty well done. 

There's a nice canvas here of echo-laden female vocals, clean guitar and understated drums with some low tone bass/organ backing it all up. It all creates a dreamy sort of sound, but still down to earth and accessible.  

Listen to it here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Kaoru Nagisa - Concessive

This is awesome.  There's just no other way for me to put it. Kaoru Nagisa is a chaotic hardcore band from Virginia that does a great job balancing an early 2000's screamo sound with something a bit more traditional and mid 90's sounding.  Maybe picture if Majority Rule, Orchid and Universal Order of Armegedon were all mixed together and spread across six songs. 

According to their bandcamp page, they have four people handling vocal duties, though it never sounds overbearing.  There's a good deal of dynamics as well with instrumentation that goes from extremely frantic but can switch to a more musical/melodic mood with a very seemless transition. 

I get to see this band twice this weekend.  I am very excited.

Listen to the whole thing here.

Big Bad Wolf - Demo 2013

Big Bad Wolf is a new project featuring ex/current members of Troublemaker, Altered Boys, Manalive and Damaged Goods.  It's fast hardcore done extremely well and without sounding too much like a copy of those before it. 

The screeching feedback of the guitar adds a nice dirty, raw vibe to the overall atmostphere.  Vocally this is extremely angry and comes across rather genuine.  Bass and drums are holding it down here providing a really strong foundation.  I'm getting a Carry On/Betrayed vibe here at times, but with the rawness and dirt of a band like Ass Factor 4 or Furnace.  Good stuff.

Have a listen here.

Youth Funeral - Symptom of Time

If I close my eyes while listening to Youth Funeral I can easily imagine standing around a VFW Hall in 2001 surrounded by a crowd of people with white belts and silly haircuts.  Luckily it's 2013 and Youth Funeral have taken the best parts of the screamo genre from that time to create something modern that does it's best to pay tribute to the bands from back then.

There's a very dark and frantic mood to the whole EP, communicating a good deal of aggression and sadness.  I love the noisier aspects of this when the guitars are brimming with feedback, as if they're about to explode.  "Lush" sounds like it could fit right in on the last Tiny Hawks album, while other tracks are more at home in the Jerome's Dream neighborhood of things.

All in all, I enjoy this and would be interested to see how this band pulls it all off in a live setting.  Thank goodness they're from the Northeast.

Have a listen here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Aspergers / 1849 split 7

Aspergers are back with more of their chaotic early 2000's sound, though the band is pushing the envelope extra hard here on what they can do with the sound and genre. There's some great moments of using dynamics to translate some extra dramatic song engineering.  You'll also find some moments of intense driving melody that are executed very well.  There's less of the heavier chugging guitar than their previous material, but it's more than made up for. Incoherent screaming, high gain guitars, chaotic drums...it's all there and it works.  

1849's recording quality leaves a little something to be desired compared to the production on the Aspergers material, so it may take your ears a second to adjust.  1849 play a more straight forward take on the screamier hardcore genre, playing something a little bit more similar to mid 90's bands like Embassy or Schema and perhaps similar to modern bands like Nurture. It's a bit minimalist at times in it's presentation with a very stripped down sound. 

Have a listen here.

That's A Thing - S/T

There are times when That's A Thing has sort of that mix where punk/indie meets up with a 50's rock and roll sound.  Sort of like if the Ramones were an indie band with female vocals.

Other times the band is leaning more towards the experimental side of things and creating something different all together (the most obvious example being the 8 minute long "Siamese Twin" and 10+ minute long "Indifferent/Deaf").  I compliment them on covering so much ground while still maintaining something of a consistent sound throughout.

To make things even stranger they offer two tracks of songs played backwards which are aptly named "Noise Track 1" and "Noise Track 2". The record as a whole can be a quite a long ride and my main issue is that the total run time does make some of this appear to drag on.  There's really about three releases worth of material here. 

Take a listen here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Placeholder - Thought I Would Have Been Somebody By Now

Placeholder is from Pennsylvania and have a sound that reminds me of something that would happen if you crossed Jawbreaker with Texas is the Reason.  It's upbeat, it's melodic; but it's also rough and the edges, matured and rugged.  There's some exceptional songwriting here and the vocal delivery really emphasizes how smooth everything flows. 

There's not standout instrumentation here.The songs just come together nicely, complimenting each instrument and working to create a really nice canvas for the songs.  Too few bands are doing this style, and even fewer are doing as exceptionally well as this.   

Listen to it here.

Krill - Lucky Leaves

Krill plays what I can only describe as that brand of discordant, artsy, indie rock that was probably best defined by a band like the Flaming Lips, The Pixies or Built To Spill back in the 90's. I'm not the biggest fan of this particular delivery, though it has it's moments where the unconventional approach pays off in giving you an interesting approach to catchy melodies.

Dry bass tone, jangly guitar and reverb soaked vocals are the stars of the show here.  The drums remain understated for the most part, providing more of a backbone instead of anything too flashy. 

Listen to it here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Moxiebeat - EP

Moxiebeat is pretty incredible.  It's downtuned and heavy but with an underlying hint of melodic nature.  Even among their most chaotic moments there's an excellent melodic sensibility that runs in the background.

In terms of tempo and style Moxiebeat can really mix things up, going from a totally chaotic attack to a more subdued, melodic approach without any issues in the transition.  There's some excellent musicianship happening throughout all four songs, keeping even the most straight forward punk influenced parts interesting and unique. 

Listen to it here


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Speedy Ortiz - "Ka-Pro!" b/w "Hexxy"

If you picture what would happen if Laura Stevenson and Dinosaur Jr. were playing at the same time then Speedy Ortiz would probably look a lot like that.  I reference the Stevenson influence for the wonderful and strong melodies that are belted out by the female main vocal.  The Dinosaur reference comes from the overblown distorted madness that follows. 

This may sound strange, but take a listen to it before you judge.  Things actually pan out very well and the first track shows how this band can really pull off such a distinct sound without sounding like they are trying to make pieces fit where they don't. 

The second track keeps in the same vein, though, perhaps adding a little bit of a Sleater Kinney feel, in which the blown out distortion seems a little bit more on the leash.

Listen to it here.

Raised By Wolves - Born Blind

Raised By Wolves have a recording sound that makes me feel like this could have been recorded back in 1996.  I mean that as a good thing.  It's raw and honest, which personally I prefer this particular type of hardcore to not be too polished.

Raised By Wolves are a heavy hardcore band that seem to move back and forth between modern hardcore bands and some of the more classic 90's style.  "Quitting Time" is more of an onslaught of moshy, angry madness, whereas "Rescue" shows the bands more melodic sensibilities. 

I'm impressed by the delivery.  The vocals come off as honest with their throaty desperation and well placed cadence. All the right ingredients are there to make this a catchy couple of songs for fans of Have Heart, Snapcase, Insurrection, etc.

Listen to it here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gouge Away - Demo 2013

Gouge Away is from Washington DC and play an exciting, upbeat brand of punk/hardcore with a melodic tone to it.  The songs have a great 'get up and go' feel to them with a great urgency. Fans of the Ebullition/Kirsh sound will enjoy this and perhaps if you're into an angrier, heavier version of Swiz or Dag Nasty you'll be able to get down with this.

The distinguishing characteristic here seems to be how the guitars are working.  One guitar seems to focus on raging out the standard three or four chords, while the other is always experimenting with a noisier, lead part.  It creates a nice, consistent mix that keeps the verse/chorus format interesting and fresh.

The recording has a nice, bright sound which seems to emphasize the urgency even more.  There's a tasteful flanger effect on the guitar that doesn't distract the listener, but actually seems to work well.  Trebly, sparkling bass tone holds up the back end adding more dimension to the overall sound.

Have a listen here.

Dads - Pretty Good

Dads are back with a new four song EP which shows the bands progression to more mature and introspective song writing.  With these four tracks Dads is all grown up, with haunting melodies and moody guitar effects.  Just for good measure you'll hear a smidge of their old upbeat style on "Can I Be Yr Deadbeat Boyfriend" which includes a straightforward verse/chorus format.

What I find very impressive on these songs is the great vocal range.  In this respect you can really see how far this band has come in locking down their vocal abilities.  There's definitely some Minus The Bear influence happening at times and it's pulled off pretty flawlessly. 

The production here is on point, creating a really nice, huge sound for this two piece band. This is something I'll be listening to all month.  

Have a listen here.

Gatherer - Caught Between a Rock and a Sad Place

Gatherer has the whole Pianos Become the Teeth/Touche Amore thing down to a science.  They pull it off well and if you're into that sort of style then you'll have another band to add to your library.  Though there are some aspects of their own making, like the melodic vocals at the end of "I Have Seen Mountains" or the beginning of "108" and various group vocal parts (see "Campfires").

The production is well balanced and highlights each aspect of the music well.  The lyrics seem mostly personal in nature, though, 90's hardcore fans will find it ironic that they have songs called "108" and "Death Bed" on the same release.

Listen to it here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Where Birds Meet To Die - I'm Alone in This

Where Birds Meet To Die are from Western Pennsylvania and remind me a bit some late 90's emo bands like I Hate Myself but also have a modern edge to them similar to Pianos Become The Teeth and Apart. 

The guitar work is simply beautiful.  Every note is shimmering with tone and precision.  For the most part these tunes stay a little more upbeat than you would expect, and that's where the band sets itself apart from the aforementioned influences. There's almost constantly a mid tempo feel happening which is extremely interesting done in this context with music that is usually more traditionally slower.

Vocally there is an over the top, passoinate scream that adds just the right amount of aggression and desperation on the top layer.  I find myself wanting the vocals a little lower in the mix, but they are acceptable as is. Definitely enjoying this!

Listen to it here

Locktender - Kafka

From the band's page:
"Five songs inspired by Franz Kafka’s lesser known, short proverbial works called “The Zürau Aphorisms.” While our songs focus on and borrow from only five of the aphorisms, there are 109 total that Kafka wrote while staying in Zürau over the winter of 1917-1918, published posthumously in 1931. The collection covers a vast range of topics and styles, is beautiful, contemplative, entertaining and insightful. The proverbs we have chosen attracted us particularly for their simplicity, beauty, openness to personal interpretation and in some ways, their obscurity."

Philosophercore?  Ok. Sure.  Locktender are back with a new record which further emphasizes their heaviness of their last release.  There's still a nice Buried Inside influence happening here, but perhaps with a little Majority Rule/Textbook Traitors/Caught in the Fall influence thrown into the mix.

The main vocal is a little bit too metal in it's delivery at times for me, but it doesn't spoil the feast..and after a while my ears adjusted, hearing it as part of the whole composition.  The vocalist seems to have a good sense of when to hang back and when to rage full throttle into the depths of these songs. There's a second vocalist doing some more melodic work that plays it's cards perfectly adding just enough extra contrast.

Each track is a bit of a journey, ranging in length from 4 to 11 minutes.  You'll hear a whirlwind of guitar saturation dynamically employed with clean delay soaked notes.  The drum and bass work here is solid, creating a heavy backbone.  The song writing here is top notch, using a good dose of dramatic buildups,chaos and interludes to build character. An epic masterpiece for sure.

Listen to it here

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Host Post New Song

Host is breaking up, unfortunatley. But this song and video has surfaced of a song from their last recording session. It's a testament to what a powerful band they were. I like to think of this as d-beat for people like me who normally hate d-beat. Host, we'll miss you.

Sed Non Satiata - Mappo

Sed Non Satiata has just released a brand new 8 song LP.  If you're familiar with the band then you've come to expect a sound that lands in the neighborhood with their homeland counterparts Amanda Woodward. 

Mid gain guitars, steady drums and vocals that have a nice range between strained screams to hovering melodic bellows are consistant throughout the record.  There's a moodiness to this music that sort of reminds me of Yage's "The Human Head is Too Strong for Itself" 10" that was released in the beginning of the 2000's.

The band brings things down a few notches on these songs pretty often, balancing the ultra quiet with some more intense melody to showcase some nice contrast. Delay soaked guitars work up the soundscape at moments like this (see "Sehnsucht" and "San Andrea") and some of these tunes are not too far from the neighborhood of instrumental post punk at times.

Have a listen here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crash Of Rhinos - Knots

Similar to some recent bands like Atlas and Resorvior, Crash of Rhinos is doing a melodic, rocking sound that doesn't skimp on creativity and bold musicianship.  For the most part it's upbeat (with some small breaks, ie "Everything Is"), but has a dynamic quality to it that keeps things interesting. Some of it actually brings up similarities to like Benton Falls or Ethel Messerve at times. 

There are two lead vocalists that tend to switch off between songs.  The gruffer, dirtier vocals carry a Small Brown Bike/Hot Water Music sort of vibe, while the cleaner vocal work is more reminiscent of some of the 90's work of bands like Garden Variety or Farside.

The production lends itself well to a large, roomy sound.  There's great pronunciation of all the instrumentation, and really shows how each pieces works off of the whole composition. The songs are pretty lengthy, so you may get overwhelmed.  Take it slow. 

Listen to the whole thing here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Atlas - With Love, Evelyn McHale

I recently saw Atlas play at a small VFW hall for the first time.  Perhaps it was the intimacy of the venue or the way that each band member seemed to fully embrace the power of each note, but this band was really something. The recording is good, don't get me wrong, but this group is definitely a live experience.

Atlas will give you something in the late 90's rock neighborhood, at times reminding me of At The Drive In, Walleye and sometimes Texas Is the Reason.  The instrumentation is creative and the presentation shows a good deal of thought and consideration. 

The gang vocals used on some of these songs is extremely well done and placed in a way where they're not overused or sound forced.  It's a nice touch and adds a bit more intensity to some of the compositions.  A good job all around here.

Have a listen here.

Lesser Life - The Light Will Never Touch You Again

For a while I was playing drums in a band called Less Life.  When I heard about Lesser Life I figured this a band that has upped the anty on hopelessness.  It's good stuff, even with the uber depressing band name.

This band calls themselves "North Carolina Blackened Grind".  There is a lot of speed picking, double bass and chugging guitars happening here.  The vocals layout over top and vary between a high pitched shriek to a low growl. 

The songs are fast and relentless, assaulting you over and over with no sign of slowing down.  Lyrics seem to be largely focused on animosity towards organized religion.

You won't see me complaining, this is good stuff.

Listen to it here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

For Want Of - Smoke

For Want Of returns with these long awaited eight songs that are collected together under the title "Smoke". The band seems to pick up where they left off, expanding on their own brand of chaotic masterpiece. 

What I really love about For Want Of is their ability to intelligently blend a good dose of chaos with aspects of a very "matter of fact" vocal style. You can find yourself catching on to some of the words without consulting the lyric sheet; though this doesn't compromise the extreme song structure or rapid pace of the delivery. The musicianship here is spot on.  The guitars and drums work extremely well together.  The 'pull of note' guitar style is littered through out the record, while hyper active drums compliment each note.

Just about every song stays below the two minute mark, but I feel fully satisfied in the contents of each package. The band subtly pulls off a good use of dynamics by ringing out chords or  slowing down the drums, all at some nice key moments.  On some songs there is a bit of a buried melodic vocal that, for the most part, sounds like a held out bellow of the chord being played.  I think the songs could have stood without this extra vocal, though it's not really taking away from the experience persay. The standout tracks here for me are "Golden Cages" and "Mentors", though, the whole record is a well oil machine.

For Want Of will be heading out on tour this summer and I am very excited to see these songs pulled off in a live setting.

Two of the songs are posted here.

Reptilian Shape Shifters / Light Theives split 7"

A split 7" between two noisier, interesting bands from the West Coast.  I stumbled upon this after hearing that Reptilian Shape Shifters are making their way out east this summer. 

RSS has an interesting two piece sound of guitar and drums sprinkled with some versatile vocal work.  With spurts of mathy, technical work interlaced with more drawn out large chords, the band seems to keep things moving and interesting.  They never get too caught up in the math, keeping a nice attention to the groove of the songs.  It's great stuff that I would be interested to see pulled off in a live setting.

Light Thieves are much slower and atmospheric, drawing into more of a post rock, space age sound.  There's tons of delay pedals and reverb happening here to communicate that big room sound.  The vocals have a very watery drawn out feel to them that adds to the whole effect. 

Have a listen here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Oracle Bones - Demo

From Toronto, Oracle Bones consists of members of I Spoke and Titan.  The sound here is very reminiscent of the earlier I Spoke material, however this more refined and executed with much more precision. I'm picking up some early 2000's influences like bands such as To Dream of Autumn or Joshua Fit For Battle as well.

Song lengths stay in the 2 minute range as the band seems to aim to pack in a concise and hard hitting plan with both of these songs.

The production is quite nice and translates well.  The guitar sound is large and powerful, taking up a good deal of the forefront.  Screaming, yet somewhat coherent vocals fill in the gaps while the reverbed drums whale away. All in all, a good little presentation of songs with a solid flow.

Have a listen here.

Calculator - This Will Come to Pass

Picture Touche Amore with some more complicated musicianship, an even vocal mix and some extra chaos; then you'll start to get an idea of Calculator's sound. There are some elements that come off as accessible and easy, but Calculator can change gears pretty quickly, delivering something all together foreign and interesting.

Straddling a line between modern and mid 90's, the sound here has a little something that I think will most likely have some mass appeal. The strained scream keeps the vocals coherent, anchoring the sometimes frantic guitar work in.  These guys have some chops on their instruments and know how to work it all in without sounding too showy. 

All in all, a nice presentation., listen to it here.  

Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview with Eric Scobie of Great Reversals

I first met Eric Scobie in about 2001 or so when my old band would play Grand Rapids, Michigan on our tours.  Eric was a friendly face who was always supportive and wanted to engage in some good conversation.  He would bring food to shows for touring bands and never ask for any type of reimbursement.  All in all, he was a great guy.  I reconnected with Eric a few years ago and was pleased to find out he was now playing drums for Great Reversals  He's also been keeping busy being a dad, a teacher, and putting on shows in the Detroit metro area. 

OPFM: You play drums for a band called Great Reversals.  Your record, "To The Ends of The Earth" is pretty incredible.  It seemed like, even though you're the drummer, that you had a big hand in the lyric writing process.  Can you talk about that process a little bit?

ERIC: I've always been interested in writing, whether it's for school, for a zine, lyrics, whatever so I've been able to try my hand at it a bit over the years. Aaron & I did a band a long time ago where we basically split writing lyrics although it worked somewhat differently for "To the Ends..." than it did for our previous band. Basically when we started Great Rev I knew I wanted to have a release that served as an outlet for all my emotions that stemmed from raising Elijah (my oldest son who is deaf and has a bunch of other developmental delays), so after we did our demo which Aaron wrote all the lyrics for, I literally took a day off work and went to the library one day and wrote 7 or 8 sets of lyrics. I'd had titles for all of them floating around in my head for several years so it was super cathartic to finally sit down and flesh them out, knowing that they were going to be used for our next project. Once I had them on paper, I sent them to the guys, and there was sort of an editing process that went on....some of the stuff was too personal and raw, too "close" to my experience. But anyway, we picked a few of them and then Aaron took them and re-worked things. My writing (especially with those songs) is more raw and to the point, whereas Aaron has developed a much deeper poetic sense to his style. So he added a lot of the visual imagery to the lyrics and really enriched the emotions I was trying to evoke. I should mention that Aaron and I have been best friends since we were little kids so he knew exactly what I was going for and he obviously knows the challenges my wife and I have experienced with Lij. So while the subject matter was mine, the final product was truly a collaborative effort.

OPFM: When I listen to the record it seems like the music really fits the lyrics.  It's amazing that you wrote the lyrics before the music to me since they seems so well placed.  Do you feel that the songs musically lived up to the standard of how important those lyrics are to you?

ERIC: We were definitely VERY conscious of the mood for each song as we were writing. We actually wrote the last song “In Hiding” first and when Steve brought that song to practice and we started working on it I was absolutely blown away by how perfectly it captured the feeling of those lyrics. That song is really for me the centerpiece of the record where all the emotion crescendos….the first time we played it live I was a sobbing mess. Thankfully it was in a basement with like 15 people and I don’t think anybody filmed it, haha. Same thing with “Open Wounds”; we knew that we wanted that song to come raging out of the gates and Alex did a great job putting that one together. So in short, I am completely happy with how those songs compliment the lyrics and vice versa.

It’s funny because right now we are working on the next batch of songs and this time we’ve been working on the music without having the concept/lyrical direction nailed down so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. We had an idea but as we were fleshing out the songs we decided to scrap it. So we have the music 95% set, but now Aaron has to get busy writing.

OPFM: You told me back in March that you've been putting on shows about once a month. Can you tell me how that is going?  Is this something you see yourself doing long term? Does the stress of putting shows pay off?

ERIC: I can truly say I consider it to be a labor of love. The shows are going good as far as I'm concerned, I've been booking again since the summer of 2010 and since then I've done somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen shows. Turnouts are usually in the 30-60 range. So not too huge, but certainly enough to make sure bands get gas money and sell a few records.

I can definitely see myself doing it into the foreseeable future, as long as there are bands I want to see that are willing to play, why stop.

In terms of the stress, I certainly still get the day of jitters and there are always last minute details to take care of, but we've got a good little system going. The other guys in Great Rev help me run the shows....Aaron usually cooks vegan food for everyone (donations highly encouraged), Steve brings his p.a. and runs the sound, and for the last few shows Sam has drawn up the flyers. Without those guys all pitching in it would be much more stressful. Honestly for me the main thing I stress about is the financial end, but I generally prefer to work with smaller scale d.i.y. bands so even that isn't generally much of an issue. I have worked with bands that have had guarantees on a couple of occasions, but I felt they were reasonable so I went for it because they were bands I really wanted to see. The space is certainly big enough where I could try to bring in package tours and whatnot if I wanted to, but honestly I don't want to deal with booking agents and all that and for the most part the bands I am most interested in don't partake in those kinds of tours in he first place. So I kind of feel like I've found my little niche here in Metro Detroit and I'm really thankful to still be able to do it.

OPFM: You're a dad, husband, teacher, show promoter and drummer. What piece of advice would you give to folks who are getting older but want to remain an active part of the hardcore scene?

ERIC: I think the biggest thing for me is trying to find balance. Great Rev practices once a week, we try to play a show a month, I try to book a show a month. I find that if I go beyond that it just stresses me out way too much and throws thing out of wack. I am a husband and a father first and foremost; hardcore is a huge part of my life but ultimately it has to take a backseat to everything else. So basically touring is out of the question for me, and a lot of times I have to say sorry to shows we get offered or to bands who ask me if I can help them out. It sucks sometimes, but I have a good sense of what my limits are. We have gone out of town to record and we’ve done a couple weekends, but that stuff has to be planned out waaaaay in advance. I get to do less these days than I did ten or fifteen years ago, but I think it means more to me now, I really find that I appreciate it in a deeper way.

OPFM: Does the band understand and support your decisions when it comes to touring and shows? Are any compromises made like having a fill-in drummer or anything like that?

ERIC: Oh yeah the dudes are all super supportive and understanding. They did a 4 day weekend down to Tennessee and back a couple years ago and our friend Matt filled in for me for 3 of the shows. The last show of the run was in Toledo so I drove down and played that one. I’ve always told them I don’t want to hold them back in any way so if opportunities to tour come along and I can’t pull it off they can definitely get a fill-in. But the band is pretty much designed to be fairly part-time. Steve plays in Tharsis They, as well as Hollow Earth who up until recently have been touring like crazy, Alex has a pretty solid job that he can’t get away from very much and has recently started a second band, Sam plays bass in another band called Boneshaker, Aaron is married and has a daughter, so we’re all busy guys. I think for us it’s more important to continue to plays shows and write when we can rather than try to pull off a bunch of touring and then get burnt out.

OPFM: To close up the interview could you talk about the new 7" that you're going to put out with How Soon is Now?

ERIC: First of all we’re super stoked to be working with Chris! We got burned by a label on the last record so to have somebody as solid as him behind us is really awesome. It’s going to be 3 new ones and they are definitely the heaviest songs we have ever written. We feel like they bring some new elements to the table for us which is cool and exciting. I think most bands want to stay anchored in their major influences and at the same time expand or add wrinkles to their sound as they grow together. That’s something I feel we’ve been able to do as a band and the new songs continue that.

Lyrically when we started writing the plan was for the songs to revolve around Aaron’s transition into fatherhood, but as we’ve gotten into the project there was a sense that maybe we didn’t want another “dad-core” (for lack of a better term) record again so we’re going to be shifting gears. Aaron tends towards the philosophical; grappling with issues of ethics, religion, and meaning so I would imagine that’s where he will go lyrically.

We are however taking pieces of the aforementioned lyrics and using them for a new song that we start recording tomorrow! It’s going to come out on a split 7” with another Michigan band that we’ve become really good friends with these last couple years.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Patsy O'Hara - ....Sings the Bourgeois Blues

Ok, skip the first track..unless you want to hear 2:32 of drawn out noise that seems sort of nonsensically placed. 

Now that you've skipped the first track you can hear a d-beat, rock and roll influenced hardcore band blaring forward with a nice dark, yet melodic sense that seems solid and hard hitting. The instrument tone here is bright; you hear the clanky bass provided a bit of a percussive component to the background. About two minutes into the first track the band shows that they aren't a one trick pony.  The musical stop/start drum and bass line fills in nicely over the melodically strummed guitar chords.  

The band continues to rage on in the same demeanor for the duration of the album, showing a nice versatility in their musicianship. "Ardnaxela" has a great melodic introduction that crawls into a nice palm muted stomp.  It's catchy and it works for me on many levels.  As things move on I get the impression of what would happen if you took older Baroness material and mixed it with some mid paced d-beat.  "Ocean to Ocean" kind of reminds of a successful version of what Modern Life is War meant to do when they tried to write "Midnight in America".

"No Witness But The Moon" sort of comes out of nowhere and almost takes on the characteristics of some sort of Irish campfire instrumental. Its a perfect lead in to "12/12" which has a slow, powerful waltz outlining the songs verse/chorus structure. 

I hope to find out more about this band and seek out their side of the upcoming split with Centuries.

Listen to it here.

Nomads - Surveying The Western Reserve

Nomads is an instrumental post rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. They have all the ingredients that most bands of this genre offer up; clean guitars with a touch of reverb and delay, understated bass, nice roomy drums that know when to get technical but also know when to play it safe.

I like listening to music like this before bed.  It relaxes me and helps me sleep deeper.  The band is playing here on Saturday and my interest is peaked, as bands like this can either be extremely exciting or a total snooze fest in a live setting. 

If you're a fan of instrumental post rock like Gates, Explosions in The Sky, This Will Destroy You, etc.. then Nomads would make a nice addition to your library. 

Listen to it here.

Cheap Art - Descocialized

Cheap Art is from Atlanta Georgia and you can define them as a band that crafts shorts songs that are full of smooth transitions, angry screams, overdriven guitars and fast paced drumming.  Power violence?  I guess you could call it that too. 

There seems to be a trade off of lead vocals between distinct male and female screams.  It provides a nice versatility.  In addition to their blazing fast blast beat frenzies, Cheap Art can dose out a nice breakdown every now and then.  They also have a tendencies to throw in smaller discordant bridges that employ some more experimental guitar work. 

The production is extremely raw and fuzzy which adds a certain aesthetic to the presentation. Perhaps without the under-production this may have lost some of it's authenticity of time and place. In most cases I would be upset, but here it seems to fit well.

Listen to it here.