Wednesday, March 19, 2014

(S)MARCH REVIEWS!

Lunch break posting.  How about maybe letting all this snow finally melt so I can return from sub-caveman style living?  Music shall help pave the way.




CAYETANA, “Hot Dad Calendar” 7”
Glad to hear that this upstart Philly crew is making moves quickly.  This is more of a teaser than anything really though.  It shows a much brighter production than the demo, even though it’s only two songs (one, which I believe will be on their full length, and the other a re-recording from their demo).  Both are great songs and maybe it’s a bit of a holdover until the LP drops, but I’ll take it for now.  Strongly in that vein of pop-punk who-cares-just-go-for-it recklessness combined with easy-going indie rock with great melodies and slightly awkward (yet really nice sounding) vocals.  Philly (by way of upstate NY mostly…  reppin’!) continues to dish out one killer band after another.  (Tiny Engines)

CREEPOID, s/t
A couple years ago I was blown away by “Horse Heaven”.  It just came out of left field and destroyed me.  Creepoid were this mysterious new band out of Philly that I watched on word of mouth.  Eerie, somber, psychedelic, melodious, and then monstrously loud and crazy when they felt like it.  This new self-titled LP continues that trend, but with further refinement and attention to the details.  The overall vibe of this new record is a little more consistent overall, whereas “Horse Heaven” jumped around frequently, one song to the next, on what type of mood they were going to drag you around by.  While that same gut-busting drugginess still pervades here it is done so with a smoother flow and the whole album feels like a big, weird trip full of excellent music.  So yeah, it’s good.  Also, I don’t do drugs, I just like to listen to a lot of bands that definitely do.  (No Idea)

DIRECT EFFECT, “Sunburn”
Thank you for the surprise.  When some PR dudes send you a band description that tosses around names like Pissed Jeans meets Fucked Up forgive me for being skeptical.  A band like that might be too awesome to actually exist.  Yet, somehow it does.  Hardly over-thought, but still brimming with melodious, catchy riffs that happen to be careening off the rails through rough-and-tumble playing and a singer so off his rocker one can’t help but feel like they’re about to get a beer bottle winged at their head just by putting the needle to the record for this one.  Like a garbage can full of bricks being thrown down a flight of stairs, and finding a catchy rhythm in it all this should probably be heard and experienced.  (Tiny Engines)

HELMS ALEE, “Sleepwalking Sailors”
Helms Alee have quite a catalog at this point to draw from.  Their first long player, “Night Terror”, set the stage with a brooding and sinister vibe and the most incredible guitar tones a heavy music fan could hope to hear.  “Weatherhead” got a little weirder, took a few more chances with a variety of song styles, yet maintained a fairly propulsive feel throughout.  And now they have their third full length out (finally!).  After a handful of listens it seems the most tame of the three, both in terms of heaviness and production.  They put the breaks on a bit with the massive tones (insert sad face), got more into the weird and sinew-y melodies, as well as the combined vocals of guitarist Ben Verellen, bassist Dana James, and drummer Hozoji Margullis all unifying at various times.  While I most certainly enjoy that side of Helms Alee, and they do it with an original sound, my reptile brain reacts most favorably when they are laying down two-ton riffs out of some of the most bad ass amps ever built.  You get that here and there, but it feels like the focus is on the melodies.  The production, while good, doesn’t quite do the heavy parts the justice they had been served in the past.  Perhaps it was intentional, perhaps not, I’m not sure.  It stands as a fine addition to Helms Alee’s growing catalog, a band that regardless of my preferences towards what they do, are one of the best and original bands out there today.  (Sargent House)


NOTHING, “Guilty Of Everything”
Apparently people are freaking the fuck out over this fairly new Philly group.  To date I believe they have released an EP before this and that’s it.  But this full length shows a lot of promise.  I’ve given it several listens attempting to pin down their sound and while it definitely leans heavy on the ethereal shoegaze style, complete with clean vocals that float in and out like sweet nothings in a lover’s ear, there are some great nods to 90’s alt-rock like Lush, Belly, and “Siamese Dream”-era Smashing Pumpkins.  A few songs begin to get a little same-y over the course of the record, but the ones that stand out (like lead single “Dig”) really stand out bright.  Lifts you up on a cloud of atmospheric guitar riffage, and then brings you down with walls of sound bigger and brighter than you can imagine.  (Relapse)


OLD IRON, “Cordyceps”
Has Isis-Neurosis metal been out of fashion long enough for it to return to a level of class again?  I mean, all those other bands ripping this style have moved on to shoegaze, or stoner rock, or black metal folkgaze, or whatever the shit is getting played out currently, right?  Leave it to these Seattle dudes to not really give a damn about trends and just do what they’re into.  So yeah, they lay down some massively heavy glacier-like movements deep in tone, thick in riff, and introspective in melody and song length.  Fellow Seattle brothers in things metallic Heiress actually come to mind when hearing the more melodic sections Old Iron offers up and I’m very OK with that…  and I’m sure they are too.  I’ll admit to not being huge into bands of this style (mostly because the wave of bands that over did it several years ago sort of ruined my appreciation for it), but this mostly keeps my attention all the way through and has some memorable parts as well.  And that’s pretty good for a band that writes 9 minute long songs.  (self-released)


SECRET CUTTER, s/t
Calling this record ‘heavy’ sort of does it a dis-service.  I mean, a dump truck full of landmines is ‘heavy’.  This record needs some new word that implies heaviness beyond what I just mentioned.  Also, if I’m not mistaken, this band is simply a vocalist, drummer, and guitarist who plays through two bands worth of guitar and bass cabs.  So yeah…  it’s something beyond heavy.  There are plenty of bent and twisty riffs to go around.  There are also sharp musical daggers being thrown recklessly at limbs, crushing drums doing a tap dance on your skull with brick-lined soles, and lots of down-tuned sludge pouring out of the speakers like some failed skyscraper collapsing in slow motion.  And for some reason when I see the record cover I am reminded of Ministry or Skinny Puppy.  There’s no logic behind it.  It just looks like it could be from some 90’s industrial band.  Don’t be fooled.  This is whatever-new-word-I-have-that’s-heavier-than-heavy.  (self-released)


TESLA’S REVENGE demo
Taking a gander at this band they seriously look like the nicest band around…  like they spend their days reading to senior citizens and carrying their groceries for them just for fun.  And musically, it’s a pleasant sound too.  There’s certainly more than enough bands out there doing pop-punk and playing the ‘we’re nice kids’ card, when in fact, it comes off as more of an advertisement for an energy drink of some kind.  So, that being said (all conspiracy-like at that) I’d like to think Tesla’s revenge are the real deal in terms of nice people playing good music.  The first song is upbeat, genuinely rocking, and rooted in a sort of current pop-punk vibe with alternating male and female vocals.  The second song has a real Bridge and Tunnel vibe to it, not to mention a little more depth overall.  Strangely enough, these songs are not on their band page, but they ought to be.  Promising.  (self-released)


TYPEWRITER, “No One Clears Out a Room Like...”
The first time I tried listening to this CD I put it in my computer and it got about a minute in before it froze and wouldn’t eject for another two hours.  So, first things first, don’t put dumb stickers on your CD that cover the entire disc (many would argue ‘don’t make CDs’, but hey, one thing at a time).  After rectifying that mess I got down to brass tacks and put this fucker on repeat.  Typewriter go through a number of styles on this 8-track demo and they’re all good.  Some of this gets all mod rock in the vein of The Jam and (if you want to get all 90’s) Chisel.  But then they throw in some synths that overall have an 80’s feel to them, which definitely adds well to the songs.  Another song gets a real fuzzy reverb feel to it and I’m reminded strongly of The Men, circa “Leave Home”-era.  Then it switches over to an older Superchunk feel.  Fans of consistency might not be too into the band switching it up like this, and I get that.  But I’m a big fan of every style they’re throwing at me so I’m OK with it.  Maybe they’re finding their sound, maybe they just like to do whatever suits them at the time.  All I know is this is good and deserves to be heard by many.  (self-released)

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