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Posts Tagged ‘Alternative’

The Silent Years Makes Us Hold On As They Let Go

Posted by Scotio on July 9, 2009

***Updated***

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The term “Let Go” usually is used when facing troubling times. When things have gone to a point that you need to get away. You need to remove yourself from whatever it is that seems to have it’s hold on you. Rarely do you hear such a term used when association with something deemed good. But, Detroit’s The Silent Years have released an EP titled Let Go that has the phrase standing in a very positive light. Main member Josh Epstein calls it their musical piece that helps them move on. Move towards a forward direction in his band’s sonic career. I say that Josh is onto something here.

The lead single of the EP is “Madame Shocking.” It comes in as something that you might feel that Beirut(the musician) might have thought of originally. The opening music is best compared to that of music played at a town fair in the mid to late 1800s. Even Epstein’s vocal melody holds some sort of barring with that time frame. Though, the thing that doesn’t complete the suit of a hommage to the yester century are the lyrics. Filled with the expression of a man nearing the bottom of a bottle and revealing the bottom of himself. Then, in an almost comical fashion, the music does a rapid leap about 100 years. The Silent Years show a very keen sense in the Indie Pop genre, at this point. And, if you’re introduced to them with this song, by this point you get the feeling that these guys(and I use the term not for gender basis but for grouping) deserves a bit more of your time and attention. That, perhaps, you should begin to investigate how the rest of this 6 track plays out.

Taking Drugs At The Amusement Park” is a title that sounds like you walked in on the middle of a sentence. Not hearing the beginning, and lost for the ending. Luckily, this track doesn’t give you that feeling at all. The opening cut for Let Go welcomes all new listeners to the band with open arms and an upbeat smile. Ryan Clancy’s drum work is driven and gives the track an almost pivotal moment feeling. Fabian Halabou’s guitar work is creatively travel between the safe zone in Indie Pop and travels all the way outward towards Noise Rock/Shoegazing territory. A bold move, but it pays off by the truck load. Josh’s vocals coo and beckon you closer, then takes you to great soaring heights. The overly simple chorus of repeating “Da-da-dada”‘s cheats it’s way into getting into your head that much easier. With lyrics like “Sing us a song/ Only don’t sing too long/ You know I would get bored in a while” and “They got in my head and they’re painting my thoughts with the honest answers that offend me” it comes across as being told from the perspective of a twenty-something whom is facing the trueness of reality at an unsettling yet introspective rate.

Every track on this EP plays a valuable position in broadcasting how truly comfortable this band is with themselves. Call it a six staged attack, if you must. But, let it be known that the final stage “Claw Marks” is every bit a closing argument. It brings together everything in a very credits rolling manner. The most reclined of the six tracks, it also packs the most powerful punch. With repeative lyrics and merrily dreary music, there’s no denying the feeling of “it’s over, I’m letting go” that it holds. For almost the last 2 minutes, the track goes completely instrumental and picks up its pace. This is past the point of the climax, this is the part where all the pieces are reviewed and you can see the whole picture. If I’m making this EP seem cinematic, in it’s own charming way, it is. There is no flowing theme going on for it. It’s just fun and raw.

Let Go is for The Silent Years what Good News For People Who Love Bad News was for Modest Mouse. Or, even what Wincing The Night Away was for The Shins. Both of those bands house a similar sound to what The silent Years bring with this release. And, like the bands mentioned, this seems to be their “Hey, man . . . let’s nix intensive planning and just do it” album. If, and I hope they do, The Silent Years continue with this style, it could take them long and far in open relateability with listeners. After releasing 2 LPs, and, now, 2 EPs, The Silent Years have seem to find their proper stride. Now, where they walk from here is anyone’s guess and every one of their fans’ hope.

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***Note: Physical Copies available July 14th from SideCho Records. Click the Taking Drugs At The Amusement Park title for a free download of the song.

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Riley & Morello Sweep Streets With Their New Social Club

Posted by Scotio on June 17, 2009

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I’m going to start this off being honest. I haven’t heard of The Coup, or even Boots Riley for that matter, until I found out that Tom Morello(of Rage Against The Machine fame) was doing a new group. The fact that Morello, one of the greatest guitarists of our time, was going back to the electric guitar for recording was something to rejoice over. I mean, let’s face it, The Nightwatchman wasn’t something that “everyone” could get into. Then, after finding out that Boots Riley was a “conscious” and controversial rapper, I couldn’t help but be intrigued… and sensing a weird feeling of deja vu. Street Sweeper Social Club, with it’s self-titled debut album, holds more towards Rage Against The Machine than it does Morello’s other works.

“100 Little Curses” is a display of Boots Riley’s quirky tongue-in-cheek wordplay along with Morello’s amazing finger action(get your mind out of the gutter!). On the verses, Riley politely wishes various ill-mannered hopes towards materialistic, plastic surgery loving, designer label craving, television children raising, reality-tv watching, hostile corporate takeover initiating, cocaine snorting, MTV My Super Sweet 16 funding sheeple of today(and yes, he covers all of those things inside of the chorus of the song). To say that his sentiments aren’t humourous is to say that you have a stick lodged up your butt so far that tapping on the end of what is sticking out would cause it to hit against your heart and change its beating pattern. This young man is witty and gives something that the incredible Zack De La Rocha wouldn’t: Comedy with his message. Morello, handling Bass & Lead guitar work(on all songs for the LP), gives RATM fans something that they’ve been salivating for in quite a while: new material of the same vein. His Bass work is good though isn’t as accomplished as Tim Commerford’s, but he more than makes up for that with his sensational solo on the song. Going from a heavy funk sound to a riff that makes you want to check and see if he has some relation to Hendrix.

“Clap For The Killers” comes on like a villain’s theme song. The intro to it is a head-turning segment that demands attention and sparks interest for anyone with love for stringed instrument plucking. Riley rides the instrumental workings laid down by Morello & Stanton Moore effortlessly. His flow… uhh… flows like melted butter pouring over the music. Though Stanton is a good drummer, Brad Wilk is sorely missed here. The drum work sort of plays the bench for the track. You barely notice it behind Morello & Riley. Only when Morello is holding a note do you realize that there are actually drums on the song. Not necessarily a good look, but all the other workings allow forgiveness to take place. Though, to his credit, the drums are more prominent and noticeable at the beginning of the song. Anyone who only looks to lyrics at face-value would assume that Riley is taking a “Big Ups To Crooks” within his words. Where, on the first verse, he speaks up for those whom fights the system and are being labeled “wrong” for standing up for what’s right. Then, on the second verse, he speaks on the true criminals and killers whom run the system and attacks those of misfortune to keep them under control. Finally, on his third verse, he speaks to all the so-called self-proclaimed “gangstas” aka the fake-wannabes. He verbally reminds them of who they really are and that they’ll never achieve to become who they are pretending to be.

There are some moves that don’t quite go so fluidly with the newfound group. Like the track “Shock You Again”, which comes off like a missing song from Saul Williams before him and Trent Reznor became musically connected. Granted, I am a fan of Saul’s old work, it’s just that this track gets lost in that similarity. It doesn’t quite distinguish it’s own identity. And, that’s something that this new group needs to do to kill off any and all naysayers that may and will pop up against it. The preceding track, “Somewhere In The World It’s Midnight” falls prey to the same circumstance. This time, instead of Mr. Williams, it brings strong comparisons to the obvious(Rage Against The Machine, for those who aren’t keeping up). Morello’s work is just as lovely as it always is, even incorporating a more western/bluesy riff for the verse work which probably spawned from The Nightwatchman. Riley, on the other hand, sort of comes off like a less agressive de la Rocha. His southern drawl makes it so that his delivery isn’t as intense, but his vibe strikes the same chords that Zack struck with his lyrics. Again, it’s not a bad track, it just feels more like a new song that was originally tried out with the rest of RATM and then converted over to SSSC format.

They do use Riley’s southern influence in a very productive method with the track “Promenade.” In a tempo akin to how the “move-caller” for a Square Dance “sings” out what to do next, Riley belts out his politically conscious lyrics over Morello’s simple musical structure. The chorus shifts gears and becomes something closer to Disco-Punk/Dance-Punk in fashion. It’s moving and hip swaying. If the whole song was like this, they could sneak this in under the radar and attack the commercial market. Thankfully, they aren’t playing sneak attacks, here. On “Megablast” Street Sweeper Social Club takes no prisoners. It’s either move with it or get rolled over. The power of the track is undeniable. Riley fully shows to the listeners that he is a highly skilled emcee, first and foremost. Morello makes the guitar wail like Justin Hawkins(of The Darkness fame) while having the bass bring that extra rumble in your belly reminiscent of the Peter Gunn theme with way more bad-ass attached.

Sure, there are way too open comparisons against Street Sweeper Social Club and Rage Against The Machine. If you even want they both are a four word band name and have the same number of syllables, too. They are both politically fueled. They both have Tom Morello playing an integral part of the band. But, you shouldn’t discard nor praise SSSC off of those facts alone. It’s its own animal, with its own respect to be held for or against it. With that being said, even if there isn’t another RATM album to come into fruition, let us hope that another SSSC album comes down the pipeline. Music wasn’t the same when voices like these left the mainstream. Though all the players are seasoned, they are still rookies in terms of playing together as a cohesive unit. Even with that against them, they are still well enough equipped to take it all the way to the goal line on their first try.

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Gene Dante Let’s His Romance For The Stage Lead Him

Posted by Scotio on May 29, 2009

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So, recently, I moved. And, in the process, I wasn’t able to check out if any new music hit the mark of things that tickled my fancy, or even something that I should be reviewing. Well, once I finally had everything set up at my new spot, I looked to find that I had the album “The Romantic Lead” by Gene Dante & The Future Starlets waiting for me. To say the least, the album seemed promising due to their single.

That single is “A Madness To His Method”. It’s a track that somehow seems like what David Bowie would be like had he grew up in today’s age and had a strong love for Indie Pop music(see: Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, The Shins, et al). Mr. Dante possess strong confidence in his delivery, evoking a style and swagger(though I’m growing to detest that word) that has seemed to all but die out of music showmanship since the 70’s. And, just like Bowie of the 70’s, Gene blurs self-sexuality identification with this track(and more tracks to come).

It’s hard not to hear Gene Dante’s former theatrical work inside of his music. Songs tend to take on life as if there should be a full cast moving around in a very animated fashion. You know that the time he spent with the Rocky Horror Picture Show crew as well as the Beauty And The Beast cast has shaped his direction greatly for what he is trying to bring forth.

“Like A Satellite” stands out to me as the most commercially accessible song. There isn’t anything that would drive the censors wild, and all the tongue-in-cheek statements are tuned towards a more mild setting. For an average run-of-the-mill listener, this track would get tremendous replay value. But, they shouldn’t expect the entire album to move as this song does. If they do, they are in for a rude awakening.

Such would be the case with the track “C Star”. The C stands for another word for a rooster or the term for the male sexual appendage. And, just in case you thought that it was only metaphorically mention and not blatantly stated then you should strap yourself in for the shock value of the chorus: “Check out my cock/ Not super long/ but it pounds like a hammer…” Yes, kiddies, this track can not be played at any Church event unless you want to get hosed down by holy water. What’s the funny part of it all is that the song has a very strong Neil Diamond sensibility to it. Coming across like a track that you’d find a performer doing on the Vegas strip. With homage paying lines like “We like girls in Velvet Underground” you know Dante is speaking more for an Andy Warhol tribute than he is for Lou Reed.

One other interesting piece is the Dresden Dolls-esque, “Brian, My Darling.” If you don’t catch the reference in the mentioning of Dresden Dolls and the song title, then you’re not familiar with that band at all. Because, you missed the fact that one half of that group is the male member Brian Viglione. The dynamically brilliant cross-dressing drummer receives his first love letter written in musical form and offered for public release, here. Yes, this song is about Brian Viglione. No, Him & Dante aren’t a couple, but he is paying him a tremendous tribute with this track. It does ring hard as if it is Dresden Dolls + more band members. Not only is this a track for Mr. Viglione, but also a defense, sort of, on the band’s behalf & comforting word to them(Brian more specifically). Due to the fact that, though many people love the duo, a lot of others criticize them unnecessarily. So, now, not only has Brian been honored to have been a studio member of Nine Inch Nails and received his own fame’s claim with Dresden Dolls, now he has a track to play whenever he doubts himself. Shouldn’t we all be so lucky by something so special? The album closer “To A God Unknown” brings this whole show to a close. And, yes, folks, this album is every bit of a show as anything you can see on Broadway. This song is a track of heartbreak. One of a heartbroken person whom has become so shattered that they have to re-evaluate their relationship with God. We’ve all hit such points where we question not only ourselves, but our place in the universe . . . especially after a destructive end to something held high in our hearts. The brilliant addition of asking yourself(the listener/singer)  “Are you Pavlov’s dog?” showcases not only Gene’s intelligence, but also his application of said intelligence with such a small line/question.(Note: Those not known to what that means, I advise you to… Wikipedia that shat!)

The Future Starlets led by Gene Dante is a band with a promising future. This album does have it’s low points and it’s questionable moments. Like the track “Purity Of Intention” which plays out like a some strange mixture of the stage show Grease and a song from Eagles Of Death Metal. Also, the song “The Starlet Hits The Wall” starts off with such a 70’s funk influence, leading the listener into excited anticipation with what the band could do with the song. Only to find that it changes up; switching between a Dub-styled melody and a simple Rock N Roll harmony. Those songs aren’t fully BAD, but it would have felt better if they really went for it. They seem to have some interesting ideas that rested in the safe bet zone. Sometimes the way to get the best results is to let it all ride on red. Though they did instead decided to spread their bet around in hopes of a better cash out, they have somewhat achieved their goal. So, Gene Dante can rejoice in the fact that he will be taking the stage once more, and probably even more often than before. As the name of his backing band states, these people are all Future starlets in the making.

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Current Performance Dates Are As Followed:

06/09 Boston, MA @ Pridelights at BCA
07/17 Boston, MA @ Oliver’s
07/25 Boston, MA @ Provincetown Rocks! Festival

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The Spores Make Doom Popular

Posted by Scotio on March 2, 2009

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When you hear the words Doom & Pop put together for an album title, you don’t quite know exactly what to expect. The Spores released an album with just that name Doom Pop. It’s not something that you hear everyday. Your mind gets slightly confused at such a combination. Everything from Metal with Britney Spears lyrics to Timbaland music with Death Growls featured over top run through your mind. Yet, The Spores didn’t do any of that. What they did do was create an album that embodies everything(damn near literally) that folks of mainstream media loved in the mid to late 90’s. Every song, they seem to replicate the same magic of bands from “Generation NeXt.”

“Ghost Town” finds the LA-based threesome giving us some awesome Pop Alternative that has been missing from the scene since Garbage went AWOL. Molly McGuire voice goes into Shirley Manson mode even better than Ms. Manson did on Garbage’s last LP. Greg Biribauer’s guitar work on this song would make Butch Vig blush. Chris Penny’s drum work is spot on for Pop Rock of the last decade. It keeps your foot tapping and your head swaying. McGuire herself brings the bass on with such sass that it’s impossible to not imagine the woman wearing that “I own you” face. The cat & mouse game of two people wanting(or, just lusting) each other is told on this track. Never able to match each other, the two parties are forced to contradict one another. It’s a great track.

Completely switching gears, the band’s song “That’s My Name,” gives one of the best NIN emulations that I’ve ever heard. But, the thing is, it’s not a NIN cover. No, not at all. It’s a track owned completely by The Spores(no, Reznor doesn’t even know this song exist, folks). Yet, the attention to detail and the all out ballsy display of Alternative Industrial will have you scratching your head on this one. Not for being lost, but for feeling like you know it already. Familiarity, in this case, is a damned good thing. You’re instantly drawn in like you’re greeting an old friend that you enjoyed spending time with. McGuire, Biribauer & Penny go strong for this track. The breakdowns are top-notch. Molly doesn’t ever yell or scream on the song. Instead, she plays it smart like Free Dominguez of Kidneythieves. She keeps her voice strong and steady. Letting the lyrics & the music get the attention that they deserve(even though the first & second verses are exactly the same). Greg takes on the role of Robin Finck, and does a flooring performance. Penny seems to be the Dave Grohl from With Teeth sessions. To say that this song is my favorite track on this album would be an understatement. This is my favorite track not only from this LP, but my official track of the month. If this three piece decided to go completely industrial(which from this display shows that they could with great ease), this song could have done for them what Closer did for Nine Inch Nails. Yes, it’s that powerful. At least I feel so . . . “In My Head.”

“Secret Weapon” comes on with a deceptive electronic intro. The collusion of sounds that follows after takes you like a storm. This track sounds like something missing from the Spawn OST for the live action movie(the soundtrack was kickass, and you know it!). With electronic alterations lacing nearly every instrument involved in this recording, you don’t know where to classify this. Still, you know that if 90’s MTV got their hands on this, it would be in heavy rotation on their video line-up. This is best suited as a sort of poppier companion to Filter+The Crystal Method’s (Can’t You) Trip Like I Do. Yes, The Spores can trip . . . like you do.

To show that they aren’t all about explicit electronic usage, “Do The Void” comes in with a Jimmy Eat World(circa Clarity/Bleed American) vibe. It’s that Pop Alternative with Punk Influences that was formerly known as “Emo”(which was before it was redubbed in ’05, kiddies). Even the lyrics encompasses the same mentality of that era: “Never should have ever thought of nothing at all.” That displays the whole “ehhh . . . so what” attitude that started then and still lives on to this day.

When they move over to the sexual side of electronic, they unleash “Shadyglade.” They pull off something similar to old school Tricky/Massive Attack . . . or, to a less popular extent, Lamb with this song. Biribauer’s mini solo after the choruses has an intoxicating exotic flare that makes the song that much more memorable. The track is almost entirely electronic save for a very small number of elements. It’s as seductive as it is digital. “The Spinning Wheel” is the complete opposite of this. It’s the Yin to Shadyglade’s Yang. Pulling out the acoustic guitar, the song is equally as intimate, but on a completely different level. A tale of love for someone who is trying to let go of yester-longing, only to find out that it’s still haunting. This is for all the Jewel & Fiona Apple fans.

This album has everything anyone who loved watching MTV before running off to school would adore. This plays like a sensational mixtape of various styles and acts . . . yet, it’s all from one band. And, mainly the work of just Molly & Greg outside of drumming, at that. The comparisons of the other bands are FAR from anything to be given as disrespect to the bands or towards The Spores. Doom Pop, as it seems, isn’t anything new . . . but rather something cool that is lost today. What does hurt is the fact that the band has split . . . or is just on hiatus. Hopefully, they’ll work out their differences and continue to bring their awesomeness to the world. The album is heavily underappreciated for what it does, and what it could do. With just one slip of major play, McGuire & Biribauer could have(and still can) end up resurrectors to an era recently passed but so wrongly deceased.

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Dead Leaf Echo’s Fire Is Anything But Pale

Posted by Scotio on February 19, 2009

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It’s been a while. I seem to get bombarded by real life and not enough time to actually do what I want. What I want to do is write. So, I’m taking this time out to jot down some words that forms a review for a band I’ve been asked to take a gander at. Dead Leaf Echo is the name of the band, and the album I was offered to review was their EP Pale Fire. I can’t express how much of a joy it is to be able to review such delightful record from an obviously talent trio. So, right off top, I’d like to send thanks to LG(lead singer, guitarist) for giving the opportunity, and apologize for the lengthy delay that passed from the sending to the actual posted review. In all honesty, it was due to procrastination and, then, lengthy listening from surprised enjoyment.

With only six(6) tracks on this EP, it’s not exactly epic in length. But, what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in content. All the songs on this mini-album are sensational combinations of Post-Rock, Indie Rock & Shoegazing. Needless to say, I’m a well-rounded fan of the three(3) mentioned genres(or subgenres if you’re that much of a stickler). Almost every song here is atmospheric and sweeping. But, none moreso than the title track “Pale Fire.” Mixed by the unsung legend Ulrich Schnauss, the brooklyn band delivers something so true to the staple of shoegazing that you’re tempted to see if they are American relatives of the Shoegazing posterband My Bloody Valentine. It’s not only the best track, but also the lengthiest. Which, due to it’s captivating sound, works in its favor. LG croons on the track like he was Kevin Shield’s star pupil. But, there is no imitation or duplication involved in this performance. It’s such an inspiring display that if someone told you it was a tribute to the band, you’d be hard to contest it. What’s brilliant is that Liza(Keyboardist) sings background right along with LG. It adds to the sensation of the track. That, coupled with the air-like echoed effect on LG’s vocals, is just enough to do you in and take you under. The only one that could have done an equally impressive mixing job that Schnauss performed would be the remarkable Alan Moulder.

“Warm Body” is a great way to introduce the EP. It plays only for under two(2) minutes. But, it leads perfectly into “Thought Talk.” Now, this song stands out strongly. It’s not so much as shoegazing as it is stuck somewhere between New Wave & Dream Pop with just a soft hint of Psychedelia. But, wherever that actual location is, you’re right there with it like its sidekick while you listen. The drum work done on this is sex. The cadence that it keeps is damn near orgasmic. Easily, this should be a crowd favorite at live performances. The wicked part is for about fifty(50) seconds, the tempo kicks up and you can hear the band members lose themselves in their performance. When played in homes, it should come with a warning to not ignite your lighters for an encore . . . just press repeat/rewind.

Another strong nod to 80’s rock is “Reflex Motion.” It isn’t necessarily pop, and it isn’t completely gothic/gloomy. But, it’s equal parts of both. Back in a time when Robert Smith lead the goth army, this track would have caught the attention of every single soldier in said army. Outside of the not-so subtle The Cure comparison, there’s also a similar taste of Bauhaus resting inside the song. There isn’t tons of complexity in this track, but there is a large degree of effects pedal knobbing going on while the guitars are being strummed. Mike’s bass work for this track is flat-out awesome. It’s a simple and slow hypnotic groove that keeps you enveloped from the first second to the last. Being the final track on the record, I’m left to utter out “this is how you close a record! take heed people!” And, I meant every syllable said while in that room by my lonesome.

“Tears” and “Cry The Sea” seem to work hand in hand. Played back to back from one another, they go together like siblings. On “Cry The Sea,” LG sings like master of ceremony of your dying day. Interestingly enough, when the verse aren’t in play, the track is very much uptempo enough to have the audience swinging their raven-black hair. On “Tears,” they unleash another Loveless moment, but with easier to decipher lyrics. This time, Mic Controller LG sounds like a strange blend of Thom Yorke singing Shoegazing. Yeah, it works. Odd, I know, but it does. No, his voice isn’t something a dead ringer for Mr. Yorke, but his rhythm & harmony is similar to some work that you’ve heard from Radiohead.

This Brooklyn band is one for the books. They don’t disturb or diminish those whom have influenced their style. They live it. They breathe it. And, all they’re asking for is for you to take a few moments out of your life and take a ride with them. Me, personally, I greatly enjoyed the journey, and I can’t wait for their next release to hop back in that car. This three piece group(four if you include their live guitarist Ann B.) balance each other out better than most. Only two other three piece bands created after the new millenium offer such great chemistry: Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Autolux. And, like those other two, it wouldn’t be hard to find out that Dead Leaf Echo obtains a strong cult fan following in a few years. Hell, this record I’m reviewing is currently out of print for the second time, outside of a few copies left on two specific sites. So, that says something in terms of people enjoying their work(it is, however, easily available digitally). After spending a great deal of time listening to their work, I’m proud to say that they’ve obtain a new member of that cult. So, LG, if you’re reading this, I’d be more than pleased to get my fingers around a physical pressing of your releases. My collection looks incomplete without it. Fans of the aforementioned bands(or just fans of the Goth & Shoegazing movement of the 80’s), mark my words, you have some new Leuteniants to lead you through these troubled times.

P.S. They have a new album titled Truth set to be released April 4th.

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Anthony Green & Colin Frangicetto Reinvent Avalon

Posted by Scotio on February 13, 2009

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Anthony Green. Here’s a name that is well known in the Indie Alternative Rock circle. Being the lead singer/co-founder of Circa Survive, former/original lead singer of Saosin, Co-Lead singer for experimental band The Sound Of Animals Fighting and being featured on a growing number of tracks for various bands . . . it’s hard not to have heard of the guy. Last August, he released his first solo effort, with assistance from the band Good Old War, titled Avalon. It was an predominately acoustic collection of songs written from a span of teen years to right before recording. His Circa Survive Bandmate/Co-Founder Colin Frangicetto turned around and remixed tracks off of the album. No, not a few, but the entire album.

Colin breathes new life into the songs that Anthony birthed. All have new signs of electronic elements added to them; some obvious, some not so much. The new formed songs take off running with such spectacular sounding tweaks that it’s like it’s a whole new album. What’s astonishing about the remixes is that Colin played all the instruments. No, I’m not talking about created loops and turned them off and on. Instead, he played all the instumental pieces all the way through. Part by part. So, there’s no loops. It’s like a live band assembled to create that sound. That’s something to brag on by itself. There are some pieces that he kept in the tracks, though(either in their original spot, or rearranged them). But, there’s more to hold your head up about, Colin & Anthony.

There are several standout tracks for this remix album. The entire thing is wonderful, but some are just beyond. I’ll list them in random order. When “She Loves Me So” comes on, you realize that this isn’t the folksy album that you took an original liking towards. The electronic hums and bleeps fit perfectly with the heavy bass kick and simple snare tap underneath Anthony’s worried lyrics. The new backing track offers a subtle sway to the moment of the track, which is contradicted by the claps and slaps of the chorus. Yet, it works together like Yin Yangs. “Babygirl” has an brief electronic introduction that slightly resembles 80’s pop tracks. The guitar played is from the original song, yet it feels so new and refreshed with this new beat. It almost sounds like something that should be played at an island resort. It’s hard not to imagine an extra air of confidence that the new form offers to the confessing lyrics. For those that dedicated the original to their beloveds, they’ll be able to two step and bob for this new dedication.

“Slowing Down(A Long Time Coming)” is my personal favorite song on this release. The reverse tracked sound did me in the moment the song came on. The electronic “chirp’ just makes the song beautiful. For the verses, Colin distorted Anthony’s vocals, making him sound like he’s behind a screen of static or just singing in a really crappy quality mic. It, actually, gives the track that much more emotion. The song itself speaks on wanting to part not because you don’t love the person, but because you are afraid that they’ll fall away from you due to your disagreements. Though the lyrics for the first and second verses are nearly identical, they still speaks so loud and voluminous. Even the effects on the guitar at the beginning gives off such a lonely and isolated tone. I’ve listened to this track for a number of times that only iTunes can give away. Let’s just say, it’s top notch, in my book. My second favorite track(and the favorite of my misses) is “Miracle Sun.” This track is the audio embodiment reaching out to someone. To sit there and call someone/thing your Miracle Sun is a dynamically bold statement. The Synths added in, for some reason, gives it a dawning morning feel. The slight echoed/delayed effect added to the guitar on the chorus brings out more isolation from the moment. The line “Where do you go when it gets dark?/And is there room for me there?” is the boldest testament to wanting something brighter than your norm.

The song that Colin couldn’t wait to get his hands on was “Califone.” His remix is beautifully sad. Not in the “bad” sense of sad. With the track nestled comfortably between “Slowing Down” & “Miracle Sun,” it gives off the idea that a Tri-Fecta has occured in the middle of this album. The computerized digital bleeps that sound like they are running up and down an old Sci-Fi movie’s circuit board does strange wonders to the verses. During the verses the electric guitar sings a swan song, whereas, switching gears for the chorus, it moves into an anthemic instrument for a drifter. The album closer “Ripped Apart” is epic. There isn’t a lot inside of it, but the electronic bass drum, synthesized keyboard and ambience make it feel omnious. Then, the chorus kicks in, and you’re treated to some almost Lo-Fi Electronic Dance music. Then, it goes back to being as serious as the “Dumn Dumn” from Law & Order. It’s a two-sided coin, and you’ll want it to keep flipping.

This is really a must have for Circa Survive fans. Not only for the fact that it’s two members of the band that ended up “collaborating” on this, but it’s the two founding members of the band. Plus, the friggin’ thing is actually really good. It makes you wonder what would come about if the two decide that, after the next Circa album, they wanted to pair up and do a lo-fi electronic album together. I, for one, would totally welcome the idea after hearing this experiment. This remix is as much of Colin’s as it is Anthony’s. That’s why Anthony put a Plus sign(see: “+”) instead of “Remixed by” on the actual album. The original album was pretty nifty. The remix is a collectible. No, literally. There are only going to be 1000 of them(and, yes, I have one) issued along with the Vinyl pressing of the original album. My only boggle with the physical CD was that it didn’t come in a “dressed” case. A simple white sleeve with Mr. Green & Mr. Frangicetto’s John Hancocks on it, and the number out of 1000 that I own. That kind of left me feeling sad, as when the package showed up, I deleted my download that you get when you buy the album. Sadly, that included the art files from the download(If anyone out there has all the individual art/production credit files, I’d feel most obliged if you could toss them my way). I implore you all to support this. You’ll want to own it legitimately. Not to mention that Anthony & the Circa boys are pretty stand-up guys. They totally release material to help support some causes that are close to their hearts. Why not back up someone like that?

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The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Are Alone On This Road

Posted by Scotio on February 12, 2009

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The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is a quartet from Florida that some of you little keen to the music scene kids might have heard about. Their major label debut, Don’t You Fake It, caused quite the headturning situation in the alternative music radio world. They weren’t too emo, but they weren’t too serious, either. It was the perfect balance of fun and abstract youth. They’ve recently released their second album with Virgin Records entitled Lonely Road. Sadly, I’ve never felt such a fitting title to an album.

Lonely Road seems, for some reason, to alienate out the fans of the band whom enjoyed their indepedent release and the strength behind the major label debut. It, instead, fights to dance carelessly across the overly thick line of commercialism. The band seemed like they weren’t entirely sure on what they wanted to accomplish with this effort. On one song, they sound like a Canal Street(see “cheap”) version of Guns N Roses from the early 90’s. Then, they release several songs where they blend in perfectly with the hordes of indistinguishable mainstream alternative acts that has their songs played on Top 40 radio.

If their ultimate goal was to come up with an album that completely dumbed down the work they did on their previous releases, and shoot for the cash registers . . . oh, I’m sorry, I meant iTunes check out area, then they hit a bullseye dead smack center. Fans expecting something more entertaining than their first major offering, or even something of equal caliber, will be very disappointed. Hell, you’re tempted to wonder what they were thinking on the song “Believe.” It combines a pitiful attempt at combining DooWop with “Contemporary Rock.” I guess they were trying to cocktail up a new version of the “Power Ballad.” If this song was a drink, you’d be waking up with Shrek’s relative in your bed wondering how will it be possible to kill yourself without waking them up and saving your life. Even the title track for this album comes across as an unnecessary attempt. The group seems to take a cue from the more famous of “Regular Rock” bands and adds in a Choir to sing out how lonely that road is that they are treading. Yet again, they find themselves releasing something that is best classified as a Wannabe Track. This time, it’s Bon Jovi(today’s version . . . yeah, I know) that they try to emulate only to result in an imitation.

Now, of course it’s not all bad. There are some saving grace songs, such as “Represent” and “Pleads & Postcards.” On these tracks, they give you glimmers of hope of giving you what lured you in the first time around. But, obviously, it’s not enough to buoy this Titanic album. Hopefully, for these four boys, there won’t be any string section strumming out their last moments. Everyone stumbles from time to time, and let’s just have faith that these guys will get it together enough to pull back in the fans that they’ve managed to give cause towards questioning them. Yes, hope for that instead of feeling that the mainstream monster has it’s talons in them, and they’ll only become more of the band that leaves you tirelessly defending their first releases while being pummeled with the fact that their later albums should only be played at a Pre-Teen’s Birthday Party.

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The New Regime Coups In A Destined Direction

Posted by Scotio on December 7, 2008

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So, Nine Inch Nails has a new drummer coming up. And, it’s a guy that’s under 21 years old. Interesting considering the shoes that the kid will have to fill from those that came before him. Ilan Rubin is his name. And, more interesting is the fact that he has a solo record. Did I mention that the guy has also been playing the drumming role for lostprophets since their drumming position was left open? Already possessing a very impressive record all before he’s even legally allowed to drink in the USA, young mister Rubin seems to be a force to look out for. This review is on his solo album titled Coup. His “band” name is The New Regime. I use the quotation marks around the word band because he seems to have taken a number out of his new boss’s page in recording the record: performed all the instruments himself. Though there are tons of kids coming out of the woodworks with their “bedroom band” ideas, this isn’t one of them. It’s as polished as the bands he’s already played in. Coup brings about a likeness to other already established acts in its execution. Me being a super huge fan of Captain M.T. Reznor, I feel obligated to apply a “hawk’s eye” view for the works of the people that play in the live incarnations of Nine Inch Nails. I wouldn’t be a good and true fan if I did not do such.

“Take Control” is a very impressive song. So impressive was it that I found myself telling myself “I enjoy this new People In Planes track.” I had to respond to myself with “But this isn’t People In Planes.” Now, some might assume that when I reminded myself of that, I would be giving a negative mark to The New Regime. No, such did not take place. Actually, it was the contrary. I find People In Planes to be one of the most imaginative and creatively on cue bands that have graced my ears. Yes, that means ever. So, for Ilan to perform such a task all by his lonesome really speaks volumes. And, those volumes echo vibrantly. The drumming on the track is probably the most impressive drumming I’ve heard from such a young person since Travis Barker started letting his inhibitions go or when Dave Grohl grabbed the time keeping reigns for Nirvana. It not only keeps the pace for the song, but it, for me, showcases that the young sir should be able to bring as close to a Josh Freese element to NIN that can only be topped by Josh himself. Rubin’s attacks are on point and extremely percise. If this is him at 19(age when recorded the song), I eagerly await him breaking the 30 mark in age and where he’ll be musically. His guitar work is excellent, as well. Beautiful layering his work overtop of itself to make it sound like a sonic cloud for the chorus. During the verse section, the guitar runs with in a simple two hit manner that shows minimized genius. Surprisingly, the kid has some pretty good singing chops on him. Not many people who plays in the background section would be as willing as he to belt out vocals like he does for the chorus. The song shows massive maturity in such a young individual.

“This War Time” fully displays his California roots. I have to admit, I’m not too keen on this track. Not for the fact that it lacks, but for the fact that when compared to the first half of the album, it just seems so Pop Rockish. If I had to compare it to another band, it would have to be the current form of Incubus. And, just like that band today, Ilan is much better than this song. It’s a good song for a good band, but he’s not good. He’s great. Still, this type of song does well for people his age(and moreso his home state). I just wish that he could have used this for a soundtrack single or something else. Possibly a B-Side or something. “The Credit “We” Deserve” is of that same vein. It’s nice in it’s attempt, but why shoot for nice when you have the ability to give out awesome? Instead of Incubus, this sounds more like something from Rooney. If the show The O.C. were still active, I could seriously see the producers throw this song in the midst of an episode and on their seasonal soundtrack release.

“Order Restored” is perhaps the first song that caught my full attention. With it’s Workstation Organ pushing out something that the Phantom of the Opera would be playing if he was trapped under Guitar Center as it’s opening tune, I couldn’t help but be taken in with it’s sinister vibe. Instead of allowing the song to become cliche, he builds on top of the opening and go in a more artsy progressive alternative direction. I really can’t hold against him the fact that his voice is similar to Gareth Jones. Yet, I will say that with that being said, it does add another comparable note to People In Planes. And, again, I have to tip my hat at the young man instead of ridicule him for the almost parallel sound.

I do have another mild vexation. That comes in the form of the tracks “Time Erase” and “Haunt My Mind.” With the former, the track is Nightmare Before Christmas-ly beautiful. Though, I would have preferred him singing in a less airy tone of voice. Something with more heaviness would have completely set the proper mood for the tune. His piano work is as brilliant as some stuff that Danny Elfman would create for a Tim Burton movie. That isn’t my irritant with the songs. Actually, allow me to state such before I begin talking about “Haunt My Mind.” See, the bother deals with their actual placement on the album. Positioned at the middle of the album, I feel it forces them to lose their power that they could possess if they were in fact placed as the last two tracks on the record. “Haunt My Mind” follows up brilliantly where “Time Erase” leaves off in the dark melody since. The song enters in with complete digital sounds. Ilan, singing of his loneliness to a lost one, could make even the most melancholy of emos blush with envy. After singing the line “I count the days until I can have my freedom back,” an erupting cadence of snare attacks takes place before the full force of the additional instruments detonate in the listener(s) ears. The song is, EASILY, the most powerful of all ten tracks. With such a performance piece, it’s hard to live up to the new heights that it reached. Sadly, all the tracks after that does not. Because of that, it would have been best to place these coupled songs at the end of the album rather than the middle. Though they do showcase the end of one “side” of this release, the other “side” just seems to not be able to top what has come before it. Such a thing forces the listener to have to pause or stop the album, clear the palette, and then play the last half of the album with a clean slate. Not a good thing for an album.

Coup also has a eerily similar cover as Have A Nice Life‘s Deathconsciousness. Yes, the covers are of the same Jacques-Louis David’s painting(The Death Of Marat, to be percise). But, where Have A Nice Life have zoomed in on the image, The New Regime chose to show the entire painting(albeit with a few modifications). This similarity, though, is more than likely merely coincidental(due to the fact that Have A Nice Life are an pretty seriously independent band). In terms of the similarities in sound with the other bands, I doubt that is less coincidental and more influential. I don’t believe that Ilan is imitating them, rather taking the aspect that he enjoys from them and tries to incorporate those aspects into his own sound. With this being his first release, he shows more promise than a little bit. His multi-instrumental skills revival those of Dave Grohl(whom, I might add, also did some work with NIN). He is a talented young man through and through. The New Regime should be a name/band/project that should, rather needs, to continue forth to display the growth that Rubin will achieve throughout the years. Coup, if nothing else, is a testament that Ilan can indeed hold his own with the best of them. It also shows that Trent Reznor has just acquired a more Alternative Art Rock young version of himself.

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Ki:Theory Snaps Hearts Like Brittle Branches

Posted by Scotio on September 28, 2008

As most know, I’m a fan of many different genres of music. I can’t call any particular genre my favorite, because each one holds a special point and placement in how I view music in an overall fashion. One thing I do always love is experimentation. Experimental music is usually music that falls into the realm as uneasy to classify in one category. Ki:Theory’s music is just that(Pronounced “Key” like in Kilo). His debut EP Brittle Branches isn’t all over the place, but it houses a wide array of various genre sounds to the point where you can’t quite call it anyone one thing(Note: Ki:Theory was originally a Post-Grunge band who released a self-titled LP. The band disbanded, but lives on through one member whom dramatically changed the sound to what it is now).

I first came across Ki:Theory while looking over the musical discography of UNKLE(or traditional typeset as U.N.K.L.E.). I noticed a remix from the act, and was curious to take a peek at it. I ventured towards the myspace of the act, and was pleasantly surprised at the remix to the point that I was curious of the original music that was featured there. Sadly, the first song I heard on there was “Holiday Heart.”  Now, don’t get me mistaken, I’m not saying sadly because the song sucked. Quite the contrary, it was so good that I played the song three times on the myspace player. Which, in itself, is a great feat. From the keyboard intro that sounded like it should belong to some little kid, I was hooked. Then, the distorted vocals kicked in. At that point, I was addicted. By the time the chorus kicked in, I was salivating from my new addiction. From the childish electric organ sound on the keyboard, to the sporatic handclaps, to the constant rapid strumming of the guitar . . . I can do this all day, people. The song is just marvelous. Perhaps the most soul stirring moment of the song is when the chorus of voices come in. Seemingly composed of one woman’s vocals recorded multiple times to give it a child-like quality. The drum track is as funky as drums that would be featured on the legendary rap group The Roots. It’s hard not to get bothered after hearing this song. Bothered that more people haven’t even heard of this guy. But, with his remixes of Queens Of The Stone Age, the aforementioned UNKLE, Sasha, and his new remix of Ladytron floating around, I’m sure the buzz of him should be growing more and more each day.

The opening song of the EP “Kiss With Fists,” is a very appropriate way of opening up an album. The song starts off rather simple and delightful, even though the lyrics of the song are on the lonely side of the tracks. Housing a Hip-Hop drum pattern, the song has a great vibe to it musically. The addition of the musicbox sound, with the rumblings of a bass guitar, make for a magical moment with the song. By the time the song gets to the part where Ki repeats the line “I just thought you should know,” you should be too far in to even want out. Something that I found pleasantly interesting is that some music tracks from this song are featured on his personal website on the little mechanical bird, allowing you to play around with starting and stopping the drums, music box, and synth portions of the song.

On the song “Lately,” you’re treated to a beautiful confession that Ki gives to his woman. You almost have to be thankful for brilliant musicians being trapped in some type of emotional turmoil and their knack for releasing/relieving their stress through music. In one form or another, the entire EP deals with love. The good, the bad, and the loneliness that results from it. Being that the EP is only six (6) songs long that play at a total time of 4 seconds shy of 26 minutes, you aren’t treated to much length in this release. That, honestly, would be my only complaint with this music. Right when you get into it, it’s over. But, it’s a great showcase of what he can and will do whenever he finally decides to release a full length album. I, for one, will be one of the first people to get the album upon it’s release.

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Girugämesh Unleashes Holy Gilga!

Posted by Scotio on July 5, 2008

I’m a fan of music from all over the world. Anyone that has come here before knows this. Doesn’t matter where it is, or what language it’s in. If it’s good and it falls my reach, it’s being listened to. Period. Having said that, again, I’d like to state something. For the most part, I really enjoy Visual Kei bands. If you don’t know what Visual Kei is, then I advise you to hop on the highly debated website Wikipedia and take a gander at it. Now, I said for the most part. Because, some of those bands go too far and sound far too pop with their music. So, let’s say I like the Dark Visual Kei bands, including Former V-K artists Dir en Grey And D’espairsRay(whom changed their name from DéspairsRay). I’ve recently gotten into the V-K band, Girugämesh. They are, for lack of a better term, Japanese musical monsters.

This four piece make-up drenched, costume riddled outfit attacks with just as much fierceness as many of the top lining Alternative/Metal acts around the globe. Having released 2 EPs as well as 2 LPs, the album I’d like to speak upon is their most recently released: The self-titled album, Girugämesh. The band always had a knack for aggression as well as a thirst for the theatrics. On the S/T, they crank up their creativity and experimentation, a notch. The Intro of the album comes on like something taken from the American band Slipknot. With the tribal drums and bone rattling distorted guitar that flips and starts riffing like it was gas powered by Turntable juice a la Tom Morello.

The song “Patchwork” kicks in, immediately after, without a stride being lost. Giru pulls out the keyboard as well as electronic effects to showcase their more Industrial Metal side. Satoshi has never sounded more alive than he does on this first full song on the album. He goes from singing in a normal daring tone, then becomes a man possessed once the chorus kicks in, with the tension building during the bridge better verses and chorus. Speaking of Slipknot, Girgu even has a song named after one of their biggest hits “Vermillion.” Don’t worry, it isn’t a cover. It’s their own composition. The song, though, seems more for a shining like for Nii than it does any other member. His guitar work on the track is bar none fantastic.

“Barikedo” comes on with a single power chord, followed by a looped heavily electronically distorted simple constant riff. The cycle repeats, but what is added is a digital static run through the back left to right front channel. When the fully kicks in, for the pre-chorus, you can see that these boys are not here to play. They are fully about their business, and you’re going to either pay the admission price or become their roadkill. Yes, it’s just that serious. The verses are easy to get into, and sound like they are sung by a man afraid of what he’s about to do to you(Bruce Banner, anyone?). That is the perfect balance from the chorus.

Other great tracks include “Shining,” “Crazy-Flag,” and the dynamic “Dance Rock Night.” A few tracks seem a bit more commercial than the rest of the album. Those are Guitar Hero ready “Rocker’s” and the MTV Japan set(Is that even a channel?) song “Domino.” While neither are actually BAD songs, they both seem more aimed towards selling units and eases off of the aggression some. The former not so much, but you can definitely hear that, at least in Japan, that track will be released for download on the Guitar Hero or Rock Band series. The latter, again, isn’t a bad song. But, it does sound like a glorified version of an Anime theme song. That can go either way for you, depending on how you enjoy Anime music. I would throw the album closer “Koware Teiku Sekai” into that mix. But, the overly dramatic scream done a little past halfway into the song, plus the length of the track ruins it for being a top commercial contender.

So, if you’re a J-Metal/J-Rock fan, then you need to really take a gander at these guys. I know that I’m definitely glad that I did. If you have an issue about not understanding the language of the music that you’re listening to, then you’re not only good at staying away from this type of music, but also putting yourself in a very small peg musically. Take a chance, guitar lovers. You might have found the make-up wearers of your dreams.

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