Band Name: Guilford
Album Name: Weak
Best element: Standout track “First in a Series”.
Genre: Slow, plodding rock.
Label name: Maiden Voyage Records
Band e-mail: Guilford@guilfordmusic.com
Guilford’s first album was a wonder to behold. Band leader Greg Olson set out to make an album that was composed completely and entirely by him. That album was entitled Wrought, and it was full of lush, deep acoustic songs that overflowed with life, passion, and mournful earnestness.
Unfortunately, Weak does not continue the trend. Greg Olson has now succumbed to that horror that all acoustic music lovers fear- the full band. And we fear it for the very reasons that this album stinks: the full band dilutes the artistic vision of the band leader, muddies the arrangements, and makes the band rely less on what the original album was about and more on the band.
Guilford definitely does accomplish the goal of setting a mood, but the mood is a morose, somber, near-death experience sort of mood. The music, which now features slow, relatively simple electric guitar dirges instead of the rolling, powerful acoustic guitar I’m used to from Guilford, just doesn’t have the spark of vitality that Wrought had. The music plods along, never breaking the mood, but never putting forth a track that can even rival the worst ones on Wrought. The closest that Guilford comes to the former brilliance is the acoustic/vocals only “First in a Series”. The world-weary vocals I so love from Guilford shine out strong, and the guitars are given free reign to work their magic.
Some critics bash a good album simply because it’s a deviation from the established style- but this isn’t even a good album if it were to stand alone. It feels messy and unfocused, due to the fact that the guitars aren’t that interesting, and they don’t propel the sound towards any meaningful conclusion. In fact, Guilford gets dangerously close to a cliché post-rock sound with these strange, diluted songs- see “When Blackness” for an example.
This album is not one I can recommend. I was so disappointed in this album that I can’t begin to express it. I still listen to the magnificence that is Wrought, and I hope that Guilford’s third outing is a return to glory. There is hope for that- it looks to me like Weak is a little bit of a concept album….but don’t pin me down on that. It just appears that way due to the sameness of the music, I guess.
Album: Demo songs
Best Element: Beautiful vocals, ethereal instrumentation.
Website: Soon to be www.jaymiemusic.com
The band Jaymie is mainly vocalist/pianist/songwriter Jaymie Profico, with contributing artists Kelly McCartney (producer/guitar/bass/electronic effects) and Simon Addamson (drums). With hauntingly beautiful vocals and a style comparable to Tori Amos and Norah Jones (with a unique twist of ambiance, much in the vein of Portishead), Jaymie’s music is well worth a listen. She is incredibly talented in her ability to create equally stunning song lyrics. Her music is exceptionally soothing, while being thought-provoking at the same time.
Her CD will be available sometime in the Summer of 2005, but you can check out Jaymie’s music at http:///www.myspace.com/jaymiemuse, http://www.purevolume.com/jaymie, or www.jaymiemusic.com . Be sure to listen to “Wild Horses” – it is breathtaking.
Genre: Alternative Rock
Best Element: Uniform style without having three sound-alike songs.
It is very hard to classify Murdervan’s sound. At times, they sound very much like an old-school punk band, while at other times, they sound like an almost psychedelic alternative rock band.
That’s not to say that Murdervan doesn’t have a unique sound. The pervasive sound is dark and brooding, with sometimes angry vocals. They are skilled at taking this overall style of music and mixing it up, making for three listenable tracks. For example, “Everyone Else”, the first track on this three song demo, sounds very trippy, while the last track, “Like a King”, has a more driving, quick, punk-ish feel to it. The middle track, “Losing Blood”, is a combination of both of these.
Thus, each of the songs on this three song demo has a different sound, giving a pretty decent idea of what Murdervan’s overall sound would be on a full length release.
Top of 2005 Lists!
I’m a list person- I make them all the time, for anything. That’s why I like these end of the year lists so much- I get to write lists and read lists and it’s just so joyous and happy for me.
Hopefully it is the same for you.
After entering this contest, you’re entered to win Ammi’s Laodicea, Before Braille’s Balance and Timing, Over It’s Timing is Everything, Guilford’s Weak, and Tarantula Dinner Party’s Have a Seat. This isn’t an ‘or’ moment. This is an ‘and’ moment. You get all 5. And all you have to do is e-mail IndependentClauses’hotmail.com with your name, address, and what article/review you liked most out of this month’s stash. How can you pass up 5 free albums?? You know you want it.
Don’t forget any of those three: name, address, and which article you liked most.
Band: Eyes of the Betrayer
Best element: The length and complexity of the songs.
Genre: Hardcore/ Spaz-core
Label: Recorse Records (www.recorserecords.com)
Band E-mail: info’monstermerchandise.com
Six-minute hardcore songs and continuous music. What more do I need to say?
Recovery is brutal. With in-your-face screaming, doubled guitar parts, and a drummer who lives on his crash cymbals and his snare drum, this is undoubtedly the best hardcore album I have heard, period. These guys play balls-out hardcore. And it’s great.
Recovery is a five track EP that lasts 28 minutes- which is long for any EP and for a hardcore album it’s unheard of. Though it is long, the album doesn’t get boring. There are minute-long breakdowns in each song that keep you on your toes. Every time you think the song is over, and the music starts to fade the guitar jumps back in with a new riff and the song continues. This album has more energy than anything I have heard.
My first thought when I heard the album was “Atreyu?” But as I listened I realized that Eyes of the Betrayer has so much more to offer than Atreyu. EotB is as refined in Recovery as Atreyu is in The Curse, and Recovery has none of the hollowness that I have found irritating about The Curse. EotB leaves no question of what genre they are, unlike Atreyu. While Atreyu sings half of each song, EotB sings for a total of 1:30 on the whole album. They are very comfortable with being a hardcore band, which is something I am glad to hear.
This is not an album for those who kind-of like hardcore. You have to love it. Recovery is 28 minutes of brutal “kick you in your face and laugh about it” hardcore. Listen to it.
Band: Dishwater Psychics
Album: The Signal Will Fade
Best element: Being meaningful and mellow.
Label: Friendly Psychics Music (www.friendlypsychicsmusic.com)
Band E-mail: info’friendlypsychicsmusic.com
I really need to stop doing these at the last minute. I just spent 45 minutes listening to Eyes of the Betrayer and now I’m listing to the mellow, sad Dishwater Psychics.
Dishwater Psychics sounds like the band you heard at the soon-to-be-broke acoustic venue last week. They are very mellow, very sad, and yet, very talented. Switching between keyboard and electric guitar, Dan Miller changes the sound each time he plays. Songs like “Step One” and “Warning Patterns”, done entirely on acoustic guitar, really highlight the talents of the band. The one rough spot in the band is the drummer, who seems to be unsure if he is playing correctly or not.
Dishwater Psychics is mellow and nice but nothing to jump up and down about. [u]The Signal Will Fade[/u] was released in 2001, leading me to believe we won’t see anything else from Dishwater Psychics.
Band Name: Before Braille
Album Name: Balance and Timing
Best element: New Sound, Old band.
Label name: Sunset Alliance/Bad News Bear Records (www.sunsetalliance.net, www.badnewsbearrecords.com)
Band e-mail: info’beforebraille.com
Before Braille is ridiculously prolific. They’re constantly releasing LPs, EPs, MPs (it stands for mid-play; not short enough to be EP, not long enough to be LP), splits, and other assorted tracks- so much so that I can’t even keep their discography straight in my mind any more. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining- because whatever Before Braille is on to, it’s not fading. Their sound continually shifts, yet they always turn out quality work.
Balance and Timing contains 4 original songs (although “Merry Christmas, I’m Cheating” has two tracks dedicated to it- a rock one and an acoustic one) and two ‘bonus tracks’ from an LP that either hasn’t been released yet or has slipped through my fingers (Tired of Not Being Away From Here). These four original songs are a departure from the reckless emo charge they so fearlessly embodied with the Cattle Punching on a Jackrabbit MP, as they pick up acoustic guitars and relay an overbearing sense of remorse instead of the slashing, crunching riffs of that previous release.
It works on all cylinders, from the moody acoustic slush of “Limb from Limb” to the delicate arrangement of “Help is on the Way Now” to the hollow versions of “Merry Christmas, I’m Cheating”. It’s hard to tell which version is more haunting- the heartless, robotic tick of the electric version, or the hopeless, grasping-at-straws feel of the acoustic version. It feels like Brand New on downers with more credibility. The vocals, so thrashing and sneering on their emo epics of the past, create melody beautifully on these simple, tired tracks, resulting in some brilliant songs. I wish they would make more music like this, as it’s simply stunning.
The two ‘bonus tracks’ are standard Before Braille emo repertoire (much to the happiness of this reviewer). They know how to pack the emotion into a song, through manipulation of tempo, vocal tricks, and guitar antics- and it’s great to see that they’re not abandoning their excellent home base for their expanding repertoire. To their credit, the two songs do sound much more mature than the sometime misguided anger on Cattle Punching…. The second vocalist on “Camera Disdain” sticks out especially, as he infuses passion into the song through his vocal contributions.
Overall, you need to know about Before Braille. While this is a great offering by them, it’s not too indicative of their style, and if you’ve never heard of them, I’d go for Cattle Punching… instead. But, if you’ve heard Before Braille, you need to grab this EP. It’s just amazing to see what the Braille boys can do with some time in the studio and some extra song ideas.
Band Name: Ammi
Album Name: Laodicea
Best element:Indie rock with Passion galore.
Genre: Indie Rock
First the Felix Culpa, now Ammi. I don’t know what’s in the water up there by Common Cloud Records, but it’s causing people to churn out some ridiculously good indie music. Both of the aforementioned bands have not only had disarmingly good albums, they’ve disarmingly good debut albums. Once I can take for a fluke, but two? That’s pretty crazy.
In contrast to The Felix Culpa’s wild emo landscapes, Ammi takes a solid stab at indie rock with their EP Laodicea. The album is an indie-rock purist’s dream- traveling through all schools of indie rock without ever grabbing influence from any other style of music. There are slow, melancholy dirges (“Born”, which has a surprisingly snappy drum beat for a slow song); there are straight-up rock tracks like the invigorating “Faux”; there are dreamy interludes (“Greetings, Etc”, “Easy Listening”); and finally, there are epic, climactic barnburners (“The Nature of Apathy”, “So Close”).
The barnburners are, of course, the stand-outs here. “The Nature of Apathy” opens with a unique, sparse, dissonant guitar line that explodes into a clanging, punchy section, which drops back to the dissonant guitars, augmented by a tinny bell kit. Then, right when it seems that slow is the way to go, they break out into a wiry technical section with interweaving drum and guitar rhythms. That section cuts, and the singer (who sings excellently) breaks out into screams, which are done perfectly. He doesn’t overscream, or fake-scream; these perfectly-timed, well-placed screams do nothing but enhance the song, which then fades away after a few seconds of intense passion.
And while not all of their songs are that complex, they’re all immaculately planned and performed. The vocals (which I alluded to earlier) are well done throughout, as they are unique without being inaccessible. After hearing this album, I’m pretty sure I could pick out the Ammi vocalist in any song he sings.
Overall, Ammi’s got the indie-rock thing down. They play with passion, with creativity, and with genuinely exciting material. It also helps that the production is immaculate (who IS that guy turning the knobs on this?), and the art is beautiful (A member of Ammi did that too). Ammi is the next big indie-rock darling, if they can get promoted right. They’re just too good to pass up on.