Tag: Alt-rock

Genre

Braidedveins Review

Braidedveins, Future/Forever Review

Braided Veins CoverThis was a late release in December 2013 from the Michigan five piece but it still easily made it into my best of the year list.  This is one of those bands whose press release reads, ‘made up of members of’… so this is an underground supergroup of sorts, mixing all their influences and sounds into one happy mashup that’s part punk, part garage, part alt-rock.

 

The record is laced with bags of energy and attitude – the kind of raw sounding, jagged riffage I love, and tunes you can rock out to, which makes it a pretty addictive package.  Opener Watch Carefully leads you in, with discordant guitar, thunderous bass and shouty but sung vocals, rather than full on screams, (think a grungier These Arms Are Snakes for a comparison of sorts).  The 7 track record has plenty of this discord but also impresses with little snatches of (dirty) melody – The Nature Cruise Of The Century! has another of those superb, sexy yet melodic bass lines and along with the off kilter vocals and riffs, you have a sound that makes you want to get up and move.

I recommend you track down a copy from Save Your Generation Records on 12″ Vinyl or digital, top stuff.

Records Of The Year – 2012

This year has seen releases from some big names (Billy Talent, Cancer Bats, Deftones, Every Time I Die et al) and also from some of my favourite artists (Cursive, Latitudes), but for me it has also been a year for discovering great new music so there was so much to choose from it became a really difficult task to pick favourites. In the end though, after much deliberation, I did actually manage to whittle it down to this top ten album list.

Albums
Cursive – I Am Gemini
A new Cursive record is always going to be a big release for me and this album really delivered – again (how do they keep doing it). It’s an ambitious concept record carried by nicely meaty riffage, spectacular tunes and some of the band’s most complex song constructions to date. Tim Kasher’s lyrics are fantastic as always and here he focuses again on preoccupations with spirituality and good & evil which have often been an undercurrent in his writing. Just brilliant.      

Everyone Everywhere – 2012
Everyone Everywhere’s second self-titled album is a grower, not as instant as their debut but, as I’ve discovered, with repeated listens you’ll find it delivers as much on melody and hooks as the former. read more

Annabel – Youth In Youth
Annabel deal in the kind of tunes that make your heart soar; uplifting sing-along melodies, gang vocals, intense and rich guitar sounds and marching drum beats that make you want to move. They walk the line somewhere between indie and emo, a kind of jangly, emotional rock base with some nicely anthemic song structures and the odd twiddly guitar part thrown in for good measure. read more

Goodtime Boys – What’s Left To Let Go
This isn’t just a straightforward, in your face scream fest, Goodtime Boys hook you in with strong lyrical content, layered and atmospheric slow burns and technical proficiency, giving you plenty past the initial rush to keep you coming back to the album. read more

Neon Piss – Neon Piss
This one came out of the blue –  a really interesting punk-rock record, injecting some great tunes into a scuzzy backing, pretty full on but has you singing along after only a couple of listens. This one got some great coverage from Maximum Rocknroll this year too which piqued my interest in the first place but it far outlived all my expectations when I got my hands on it – thoroughly addictive. Check out their bandcamp for more.  

Slices – Still Cruising
Read about this album in MRR too and really liked the sound of it. I spent a couple of weeks listening to the album stream on their label’s Bandcamp before thinking sod it and ordering the vinyl. It’s H/C with a Fucked Up type sound and oh so listenable.

Blacklisters – BLKLSTRS
Blacklisters are superbly nasty; jagged riffs and intense untamed vocals, all underlined by the most compulsively danceable, distorted and rumbling bass lines and heavy hitting drums, OK perhaps not danceable but twitchable at the very least, this is a record that commands your attention from the opening bars and relentlessly batters you but it’s never just a wall of noise there is such a lot more going on underneath that scuzzy, hard exterior. read more

Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Not sure if this really nedds too much of a write up as its Deftones but I think this one deserves a mention in the top ten list. In my opinion this album is more well rounded than their last – a good mix of heavy and dreamy and it feels, finally, that they’re getting their groove back. Since Che’s been out of action there’s been a kind of desperate melancholic tone to their records but this one feels more relaxed and organic than they have in a while.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
A new Godspeed record was something I didn’t actually think would happen but here it is and it’s superb. A really epic sound and some great little snatches of melody – powerful and emotive. A great return.  

Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory
Cleveland based Cloud Nothings new Wichita released album (produced by Steve Albini) is a tuneful ride of jangly noise and melody with beautifully raw vocals; moments of post-rock, post-punk along with surf, garage and indie amongst others all feature (if we must label) – whatever, when it’s this engaging, who cares what you call it, all you really need to know is that it’s charming and memorable and addictive. read more

Read more

New Reviews October 2012

It’s been a while (again) since I posted links to some of my recent reviews, so long in fact that this will have to be a shortened list I fear. Here are a selection of the reviews I’ve written for RoomThirteen.com during June through to October 2012, plenty more can be found through my profile page on the site.

Codex Leicester – A Mad Mans Lullaby EP
We’re really liking this record from Leicester based four piece Codex Leicester who take their moniker from one of Leonardo D Vinci’s notebooks. Their jagged and noisy indie-rock is similarly quite intriguing and varied, this new EP opens with Strong Like Bull which is short but sweet, a strong mix of heavy duty riffage and synth melodies with high pitch shouting.
read more

Flights – Eleven (single)
The lead track of the three, Eleven, is epic and atmospheric, full of tricksy rhythms and soaring sing along vocals. There’s a touch of post-hardcore to this one; boasting thunderous guitars and nicely melodic in all the right places, but it’s also full of texture and atmosphere.
read more

Speedy Ortiz – Sports EP
This sweetly melodic and angular EP from Northampton (MA, not UK) based Speedy Ortiz obviously calls on early 90s American rock for inspiration (the good stuff…Pavement et al) but never sounds drenched in nostalgia, which is a good thing as you crave more of them and not the past.
read more

Read more

In 2003 I Was Listening To…The Ugly Organ

I find it very difficult to write about my favourite records (or those that made a real impact on me at certain times of my life) as I’m so emotionally connected to them. I feel like I’m doing the record a disservice to write up my emotional responses in this way – I usually try and write objectively when I’m penning a serious review for RoomThirteen or the MMP but in this blog I’ve frequently thought, fuck it, why not get personal, why not tell the emotional journey, the reasons why this music is so important to me and continues to fuel me emotionally so I can make it through the low points in my life. So here I am again with the story of another of those pivotal records and whether its read or not it still feels good to get it out there.

Read more

New Reviews April & May 2012

Its been a while since I linked any of my reviews so here are a selection from the last couple of months:

Snowing – I Could Do Whatever
Snowing’s debut full length has frenetic upbeat energy bursting from every bar, it’s full of quirky riffs, distorted lo-fi textures and an intense vocal delivery layered over some great little catchy tunes. Admittedly there are a ton of American bands around at the moment peddling a similar sound but Snowing manage to bring everything together in just the right way to deliver a bouncy, scratchy, melodic album that gets under your skin (in a good way).
Read full review

Pelican – Ataraxia/Taraxis
Chicago four piece Pelican are described as anything from post-metal to post-instrumental but however you label them they always produce some inspiring atmospheric work and new instrumental four track EP Ataraxia/Taraxis plays to all their strengths perfectly, each track showcasing an aspect of the band’s impressive sound.
Read full review

Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living
This is a solid release for the band, one that’s full of memorable, grooveable tunes. It’s great to hear they still aren’t close to running out of ideas yet; here’s hoping there will be many more albums of this quality to come from them.
Read full review

Read more

In 2002 I Was Listening To…

It was a review in an issue of Uncut magazine which first turned me on to …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. The Austin alt-rockers released the album Source Tags & Codes early in 2002 and the album was everything the review promised it would be –  when the opening piano refrain of Invocation blasts into It Was There That I Saw You, all scuzzy guitars and intense drums, I knew that I was going to be putting it on repeat constantly.

I couldn’t remember being as excited by a record for ages and it sparked a revival for me after years of wandering in a musical wilderness. Having somehow lost track of the bands I’d loved and the friends I’d relied on to introduce me to them I didn’t really know where to start. On a whim I began picking up music mags again; it must have been a five or six year break since I’d stopped (I can’t even remember why now) and suddenly I realised there was a ton of stuff I’d been missing out on.

Coupled with a fresh desire to find new music, this record was the push I needed in the right direction to start discovering tunes that insipred me again. So there we are, I can’t talk about music and how obsessed I am with it now without mentioning this record.


Top Ten… Records of the Year (so far)

So far this year for me hasn’t been one for big name albums, but that hasn’t stopped it being a great year for music. With so many cracking records released it’s been difficult to whittle it down to these 10, (and with three months to go there may be others that take over). It’s always hard to remember what actually came out in the year and some that I wanted to include like Recitation by Envy and Everyone Everywhere’s self titled record came out last year. There are also some records I’ve wanted to hear (Touche Amore, Mastodon) and haven’t, yet, and some I was fully expecting to be on this list but haven’t met my expectations (City And Colour). Generally, if it’s on this list it’s not because it’s technically brilliant but because it’s affected me in an emotional way and has become a constant companion.   (All extracts taken from RoomThirteen.com except Fucked Up).

 

*shelsPlains Of The Purple Buffalo

It’s been four years in the making for *shels sophomore full length, has it been worth the wait? The answer has to be a resounding yes.
The record, although very cohesive feels less rigidly structured than the tracks on debut Sea Of The Dying Dhow where the ‘start slow and build to a huge climax’ was the most common structure. The odd sprinkling of chunky, ear burstingly heavy guitar remains of course but this new record seems to be more playful, still just as intense but in more subtle ways; it’s very dreamy, cinematic in scope and has moments of real fragility. One mention should be Mehdi Safa’s vocals which feel more relaxed here; he uses his huge, often impressive range to the full and it’s slotted into the mix perfectly.
The album drops some really sublime moments; Plains Of The Purple Buffalo Part 2 is one such track and with some great brass, uplifting vocal lines and intense layers you can really lose yourself; the murmuring, muffled background hum of Waking after the intensity of The Spirit Horse is like a warm summer breeze; the crashing wall of sound on incredible closer Leaving The Plains is huge and expansive. The list goes on with too many moments to mention. This is a brilliant sophomore record and a more than worthy successor to “Sea…” , fans can breathe a sigh of relief, the wait is over.

 

Fucked UpDavid Comes To Life

Any worries that this new Fucked Up record wouldn’t live up to the expectations of The Chemistry Of Common Life were blown away in the first few minutes. This proved to be a more than worty successor; full of even more melodic and sing along tracks but still packing some heavy duty, punchy moments it’s like the Fucked Up sound has been condensed and bottled. 

 

EsmerineLa Lechuza

It has been six years since the release of Esmerine’s last album and on this record, percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and cellist Beckie Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion) are joined by harpist Sarah Page and percussionist Andrew Barr.
This really is a beautiful album; the cello and harp bring a melancholic atmosphere and the sensitive percussion along with dreamy vocals on some tracks add to the gentle fairy tale-like mood. Last Waltz is very evocative, making you imagine cinematic moments that haven’t been written yet. As does the sublime yet playful Trampolin and Snow Day For Lhasa tugs at you so fiercely it may induce, at the very least, shivers, if not tears.
A beautiful and understated record, but one that is full of emotionally powerful tracks. Like a poem of sound, not a note is out of place, some moments use just one or two instruments but it’s enough to fill the room. When the full arsenal is used, opener A Dog River for example, where horns, violin and full percussion join in the result is an intense and densely layered experience.

 

Cloud MouthThat Ghost Is Always With Me

With dense guitar distortion, screams, intense drums and a core of melody woven throughout, Cloud Mouth have an EP that really works its claws into you and won’t let go. Guitars lead the charge, high up in the mix so you can hear every melodic riff and distorted strum, vocals gruffly scream in the background, half drowned in those warm waves of noise, this approach works so well for the Cloud Mouth sound, because as you half strain to catch those vocals you pick up so much more going on.
Underneath all the fuzz these tunes have such a catchy base, take opener Waves which has a dark, nasty bass and eerie little electro noises, but at the same time the guitar delivers the tuneful riffs and cleverly paced drums pound out rhythms you can move to, it’s an addictive combination and gets you bobbing your head immediately.
The EP brings to mind some of the heavier Dischord bands at times; there is a raw reckless energy here that draws emotional shivers. .

 

MonumentGoes Canoeing

I listened to this album about 6 or 7 times before putting finger to keyboard, not because I had to, but because I enjoyed the record so much I kept getting distracted by listening to it too much to write the review.
Finally I type, listening to said record, which at its core is old school emo meets Discord; however, the raw, emotive and oh so melodic is backed by jagged guitars, odd time signatures and complex progressions. The tunes just grab you by the heart and drag you in to a distorted, fuzz-laden sing along world of goosebumps and screamed-raw throats and punched fists; it’s just gloriously euphoric from start to finish.

 

OctavesGreener Pastures

Octaves hardcore sound effortlessly mixes the jagged dissonance of math-core guitars with killer melodies and emotionally raw screams for a beautifully angry record. Immediately bringing to mind the manic math-core of Dillinger Escape Plan and the melodic weight of (You Come Before You era) Poison The Well, Greener Pastures is a passionate call to angsty arms backed by technically skilled off kilter, jagged guitars and a host of interesting riffs.
The Baltimore mob are a talented lot and they’ve pulled together a record that should be a sure fire winner with hardcore fans Greener Pastures is aggressive with inventive guitar work, subtle, fractured melodies and powerful vocals, it has a combination of nasty and interesting that keeps it fresh and they make the whole thing seem so easy.

 

 Laughing In The Face OfThe Lubrication Of Social Anxiety

A fantastic slab of skate punk from Laughing in the Face Of, formed 8 years ago they are only just releasing their debut full length record, but obviously all that time and experience spent touring has been time well spent because the record sounds assured and comfortable. The Lubrication Of Social Anxiety keeps up a swift pace throughout, solid, chunky riffs and great melodies impress. It’s a heady mix of urgent drums and hard guitars with the chugging punctuated by some nice off kilter twiddling; the addition of gang vocals and strong input from the front man ensure the vocal lines are memorable, not quite catchy but getting there.
If you haven’t checked out this band, do it now. Good British skate punk is in the few and far between category these days and Laughing In The Face Of get it all right on this record.

 

Efrim Manuel MenuckPlays High Gospel

On new album, co-founder of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion member (amongst other things) Efrim Manuel Menuck uses his years of experience and knowledge to create an emotive and very personal affair; distorted guitar, echoes, ambient noises and some very lovely melodies create a wash of soundscapes with a dreamy quality to compliment some very personal lyrics; death and birth among them.
Album opener, the quirkily titled Our Lady Of Parc Extension And Her Munificent Sorrows has a psychedelic feel with wavering distortion on the layered vocals and guitar and squidgy little noises in the background; it meanders expansively, beautifully.  A 12 Pt. Program For Keep On Keeping On begins with what sounds like cricket noises, a gentle ambient outdoor sound , this track however, despite it’s unassuming start, quickly develops into a mesh of intense beats and slightly unnerving electro noises and vocal samples.
Plays High Gospel is an inspiring record, at times almost painfully beautiful and packed with raw emotion, it soars and meanders but also has plenty of melodic moments to reign you back in.

 

AnnabelHere We Are Tomorrow

The Ohio four piece have drawn comparisons to Surfer Blood, Superchunk, and Nada Surf, all of which are very fitting reference points; Annabel’s Here We Are Tomorrow 7″ is gloriously, sweetly catchy, drawing on the best aspects of power-pop, jagged alt-rock and old school emo. Opener, The Forgetting Of Names And Faces (available to hear on their myspace) is a case in point; a deliciously immediate melody, layers of distorted noise fizz away warmly in the background and the vocal line is memorable and begs to be repeated.
The tunes on this release brim with breezy melodies, layer on the scuzzy guitar and delight with off kilter riffs resulting in five songs you crave to hear over an over, (undoubtedly singing along at the top of your voice) and they make you feel glad to be alive. An absolute delight.

 

Hhymn In The Depths

Hhymn’s debut full length album delivers on the promise of the two fantastic, previously released singles Land Of Souls and These HandsIn The Depths is a joyous record but also has moments of haunting beauty, often full of blissful, soaring melodies, sometimes melancholic but always sweetly so and backed by emotive vocals with a huge range and diversity of style able to turn themselves to any mood.
Nottingham five piece Hymn bring a distinctly British slant to alt-folk with a stark emotional core at the heart of the record, but musically their ability to turn from gentle dreaminess to swirling and infectious tunes in the blink of an eye means they call to mind acts from Bon Iver to Arcade Fire; with trumpet, organ and glockenspiel added to the solid guitar, bass and drums they are able to create some beautiful layers of sound that make you melt.
As well as the two brilliant singles, In The Depths has a host of other stand out moments; the wonderfully dreamy Wolves which brings to mind Radiohead at their most thoughtful with slow trumpet adding an inspired sweetener; Girl Of Mind is melodic and catchy with danceable beats and a hint of the theatrical and album closer On My Mind is a belting end to the record, bringing together memorable riffs, sing along vocal lines and soaring trumpet to leave you on a high and longing to listen again.