Thursday, April 27th, 2006
The Black Dahlia Murder / From a Second Story Window / Dead to Fall / Ed Gein / Today I Wait
The Championship, Lemoyne, PA
I think my favorite part about this show quite possibly had absolutely nothing to do with any of the bands- or even their music, for that matter. Instead, I found myself highly amused by a certain 35 – 40 year old man with a gigantic beer belly touting a video camera. Said middle aged man stood out in the crowd, being that the majority of show-goers were between abnormally skinny15-25 year-olds with black band t-shirts. Oh, and did I mention that he stood in the front of the crowd making a rock hand with his non-camera holding hand and repeatedly yelled ‘SLAAAAAAAYERRR!’ as loud as he could? Alas, Slayer was not playing that night. Perhaps he was confused. Perhaps he was too drunk or stoned to know where he was. Perhaps he was Ozzy Osbourne’s old roadie, which would actually make him both of the aforementioned perhaps. Whatever the reason, he made my night.
But really, this is all about the music. The first band, Today I Wait, was a poor man’s version of every single other hardcore band out there. Not to say that they were bad, but I would give their performance three out of five yawns. There was nothing special about their vocals or their chugga chugga guitar lines and breakdowns. They also presented little to no audience involvement. Ed Gein, on the other hand, is a politically and socially motivated three-piece hardcore band that brings a fresh sound to the hardcore scene. They’re not necessarily straightedge, they’re not necessarily vegan or anything of the sort, nor are they overly and obscenely political. Instead, they manage to mix these things perfectly to create subtle and almost tongue-in-cheek political overtones. Despite all the members contributing to the vocals whilst playing their respective instruments, thus keeping them relatively sedentary the whole set, they managed to keep the crowd involved at all times and put on a great performance.
Dead to Fall’s claim to fame this evening was their light show, complete with multiple fog machines; just enough to make photographing them rather difficult. I don’t remember much of their performance other than brutal hardcore accompanied by corresponding strobe lighting and an overabundance of fog. I couldn’t tell you if they put on a good show or not, because frankly, I couldn’t see jack or shit except during the flashes of light, which were more than enough to induce an epileptic seizure.
To be honest, the reason I came to this show was to see From a Second Story Window, an amazing hardcore/metalcore band hailing from approximately the area I do. Without relying on pseudo-pyrotechnics or other gimmicks, they put on the best set of the evening, mixing old material with new from their upcoming CD [u]Delena[/u]. They brought an unrelenting onslaught of impressive guitarwork and amazing stage presence that left the crowd hungry for more.
The headliner, The Black Dahlia Murder, did not disappoint. Though I admittedly am not the biggest metal fan, they put on a great performance, despite playing in somewhat of a different style than the previous bands. Though lacking the breakdowns characteristic of the hardcore bands preceding them, they made up for it with their intricate guitar solos and intense performance. It is during this set that we revisit the SLAAAAAAYERRR man from the beginning of my review, and watch as he is absolutely pulverized by the somewhat overweight and shirtless vocalist of The Black Dahlia Murder; mid-scream, no less. There one second, flat on the floor the next. I guess he finally realized that Slayer was indeed not playing that night. And that was a much more painful realization for him than for me. All I realized was that I had just experienced an enjoyable evening full of metal and mayhem. ROCK.
If you haven’t noticed from my reviews or my column, I have a varied and somewhat odd taste in music. If you were to go through my iPod you’d see everything from spaz-core like Fear Before the March of Flames and the Blood Brothers to Thursday to singer-songwriter Dar Williams to Broadway soundtracks to musicals like Wicked and Rent and everything in between (except country and only a tiny bit of rap). But in that mix I do have my favorites, so each month I’m going to list my top 5 albums that I listened to in my free time. So here is month one:
1. A Types by Hopesfall
This was an album that was rejected by fans for its softer sound even before anyone really listened to it. Yes, it is softer than “Satellite Years” but the musicianship is amazing and the writing is some of the best I’ve heard. I love driving around to this album. My favorite tracks are “Breath from Coma” and “Champion Beyond Blessing.”
2. Light a Match for I Deserve to Burn by The Beautiful Mistake.
This album has been stuck in rotation for a few months now. The blend of ambient music and screaming vocals is one of my favorite sounds. “Circular Parade” has been my favorite track, but “Lancaster, PA” comes in a close second.
3. The Running EP by Beloved
This EP was released sometime in 2004 and I missed it. But now I have it and I love it. It was probably trashed as “emo-core”, but I don’t care- I like it. Maybe it is a guilty pleasure. “Kiss it Goodbye” is my favorite off this 6 track EP
4. Showdown at the Discotheque by The Moment
Read my review, then you’ll understand why this album is not going to go away.
5. War All the Time by Thursday
Yes, it was their worst release. And yes, they had better do a much better job on the upcoming album, but I’ve been in the mood for some political post-hardcore. “Asleep in the Chapel” has been a favorite track.
Check them out. They are all worthwhile records.
Band Name: The Moment
Album Name: Showdown at the Discotheque
Best Element: The addictive nature of the music
Genre: Ambient Post-Hardcore (yes I know that’s not a genre…yet)
Label Name: N/A
Band E-mail: elliot’themomentrock.com
This is my version of pop music. Please take that statement with a grain of salt, 90% of what I consider to be pop would scare your parents and make the MTV producers cry. But as long as you are a music lover you will agree with me on this one: Showdown at the Discotheque is an amazing album. It is easily the most innovative album I have heard in years. The combination of standard post-hardcore vocals and instrumentals with a techno keyboard is completely different. This band has not defined a genre, they have created one.
I usually try to avoid comparing bands I review to major label bands but without a comparison you really cannot understand this band (honestly, words cannot do this band justice; you really need to listen to them). The Moment sounds like a blender full of He is Legend, John-Nolan-era Taking Back Sunday, The Bravery, and that drugged-out techno DJ at your local club. Basically, it seems that four guys got together and decided they were tired of compromising on sounds, so they combined their favorite sounds.
I really enjoyed the way this album was split- “One Dollar Love Affair” represents this split. The song is a techno song through and through and after this the album relies more heavily on the techno sound while the first half is more rocked out. The split gives the album a change that keeps the listener interested. Overall this is an album that you can not miss this year. My prediction is that this album will be part of my top 5 of 2006. It really is that strong of an album.
Every movie’s got a soundtrack- and in many cases, the quality of the soundtrack dictates the strength of the moods in the movie (see Garden State or pretty much any horror movie for proof). If I were writing a movie, here are ten bands that I wouldn’t hesitate to put on the soundtrack.
- Ringer T – Ringer T’s alt-country/folk/pop would start out the movie. A humble, yet proud sound, they say a lot without many tricks. Solid, straightforward beautiful intro music.
- Avenue – Avenue’s instrumental rock is upbeat and playful- perfect for setting up the main character. Maybe the main character is riding a bike.
- Amateur Photography- Adventurous, pulsing, trip-hop influenced indie-rock that would be great for a montage scene that shows the adventure starting.
- Marc with a C- Rollicking, joyful pop that would serve great as the intro to a funny scene. Definitely playing on a radio in the background- perhaps in an open-topped car or something.
- Lo-Fi Audio- For spaces between scenes, leading in and out, there’s nothing better than the eerie, dark, cold sound of Lo-Fi Audio’s programmed creations.
- Project Nothing – A chase scene, definitely. Project Nothing’s manic breakbeat-centric techno creations are simply perfect to fit in a chase between the good guys and the bad guys.
- Immanu-el- Dreamy, wide-eyed, ethereal indie rock reminiscent of Sigur Ros but more personable, Immanu-el’s epic contribution would fit nicely in a scene where the main character discovers something deep and profound about life.
- Jettie- Heartbreaking, lush indie that feeds off sorrow. For the sad part of the movie where the guy and girl find out that there’s something that stops them from being together.
- Brandon Carter- Brandon Carter’s fragile voice, introspective moods, and minimalist approach translates beautifully into another introspective bit.
- The New Amsterdams- These guys cultivate a very specific mood with their songs- each has an air of finality that makes them perfect for ‘end of the movie’ songs. Like the one that plays when the optimistic ending rolls into the credits.
The Deftones headlined this year’s “RockStar Taste of Chaos Tour” on March 9 at The Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie with other acts such as Story of The Year, Thrice, Atreyu, As I Lay Dying, The Receiving Ends of Sirens, Greenley Estates, The Smash Up, Adair, Another Day Late, and Confession. The Taste of Chaos tour and The Deftones will now begin to move west and eventually end the tour in Canada during the month of April.
For more information and dates of this tour, visit: www.tasteofchaos.com.
Band Name: The Seldon Plan
Album Name: Making Circles
Best Element: Cohesive flow
Label Name: OTP Records (www.otprecords.com)
Band E-mail: info’theseldonplan.com
I really like it when a band that has the chops to rock out in a passionate way exercises restraint. It shows maturity on their part, usually produces tight, energetic songs, and makes those times in which they rock out that much more exciting. Throughout Making Circles, the Seldon Plan parades out their pulsing, pumping indie-pop side while hinting at the rock hidden within.
The album starts out on a high note with “A Rhyming Dictionary”. Building off the strength of an ear-catching lead guitar riff and some unique drumming patterns, the song blossoms into an enviable pop/rock song by the time the chorus rolls around. The title track follows, and as it is one of the most enjoyable tracks on the album, it serves to ensure that the tight drumming, quirky guitaring, and charming melodies weren’t a fluke on “A Rhyming Dictionary”.
The album mellows from the driving rhythms of the first few tracks, settling into a dreamy, comfortable groove that is retained for most of the album. “Love Again”, the best track on the album, is right in the center of the album. It starts off with a 1950’s TV or movie sample about boys and girls, then leads into a breezy, upbeat ditty about a girl who falls in love all the time. The final blow is delivered when the sample returns near the end of the song, proclaiming that girls who sleep with all the boys aren’t really popular. The song flows perfectly- an inspired bit of songwriting.
Flow is very important on this album- the album progressively gets softer until the final track “Chicago 2003” is reached. It starts off very soft, but a lot of the smooth dreaminess that characterized the other tracks is gone, replaced with a more potent feel. Instead of being jilted, as much of the album’s lyrical content mulls over, the lyricist has jilted his lover. “You thought I was the one,” he coos, before unleashing the band on a guitar-and-drums-heavy tirade that rocks harder than anything else on the album. This is where the band really shines- where the tension is finally released and the band just goes for it. It’s a great song, second only to “Love Again” as the best on the album. But it’s great because the rest of the album isn’t exactly like it- it’s what I’ve been waiting for the entire album.
The Seldon Plan knows how to write a strong album. Some of the individual songs along the way don’t really stick out when played out of context of the album, but when listened to as a whole, each song works beautifully. This record would be great on vinyl on a grayish day, hanging out with your girlfriend. It’s a great album- doesn’t push any borders or break any boundaries (if they did, this would be a fantastic album), but it’s a great album nonetheless. Highly recommended.
Band Name: Pretendo
Album Name: Pretendo
Best Element: Raw energy and talent
Genre: Alt. Indie rock
Label Name: Country Club Records
Band E-mail: info’pretendo.tv
At first glance, Pretendo is just another alternative band, but upon closer inspection, you discover that they are a pumped-up ball of energetic rock. With their up-beat tempos and staggered timing, Pretendo comes off sounding like an indie mix of Franz Ferdinand and the Ramones. Their songs are catchy and simple. They base the song structure off of a few easy chords and end up with a complex 4-minute chunk of awesome.
Pretendo’s self titled album blends some of today’s mainstream indie sounds with the raw energy and talent that spawned the genre in the first place. They have an original sound that is unique to indie rock, but still fits nicely in the general category of “indie music”. Pretendo is definitely not one of the new MTV-made bands. They are a band of people who really love what they do, and this really reflects in their music.
One of the most common things I encounter when listening to an album is that I find myself becoming bored with it towards the end. Even though Pretendo is an awesome band, I still got a little bored with the music after a while. It’s not a horrible thing, but personally, I like it when a band throws a curveball. Sometimes you need to hear something different, like an acoustic song, or something that dips into a different genre. Other than that, I found [u] Pretendo[/u] very well put together.
Overall, Pretendo is an awesome rockin’ band. If you get a chance, pick up their self-titled album. You will not be let down.
Band Name: Various
Album Name: On the Verge: Alberta’s Best Rock
Best Element: The realization that there are some non-sucky modern rock bands.
Genre: Modern Rock
Label Name: Cyclone Records
Band E-mail: info’cyclonerecords.ca
So I will admit it- when a good modern rock song comes on the radio, I listen to it. I know, I know- I just lost a whole lot of credibility in a lot of people’s eyes, but whatever. There are good songs in every genre- even the most bloated ones in the world (and that crown [i]would[/i] go to modern rock).
Yes, this is a modern rock comp. And I did approach it with caution- even saying the words “modern rock” in a group of music snobs will cause near-seizures- but I think that it is ignorance to dismiss an entire genre en masse. So I gave this album a fair shot, just like any other album we review. And I was surprised at the selection on this album.
Yes, there were a few bands that bore a gut-wrenching resemblance to Nickelback and co., but besides those few unpleasant entries (about a quarter of the album’s 20 tracks), there’s actually a lot of good songwriting on this album. Gunther’s “Wrecking Ball” is a completely instrumental piece with a lot of heavy guitar/harmonics interaction, and it was really quite impressive. They also experimented with dynamics throughout, which is unusual for a modern rock band. I wouldn’t mind hearing more of Gunther’s guitar heroics, just as I wouldn’t mind hearing more of Hollow House.
Hollow House’s contribution was definitely the heaviest of the bunch, bordering on Deftones-style distortion to propel their eerie highlight track “Seeing Through Sepia.”
Winter’s Longing offers up two very pleasing tracks, taking a more upbeat, punkish approach to their rock. Six Pack Jacket’s “Eldorado Kid” is an excellently executed blast of old-school surf punk, while both of Creature Republic’s offerings were ear-catching, if not exactly groundbreaking. The female vocals there redeemed them, as the vocalist managed to not sound like Amy Lee of Evanescence.
So it just goes to show that there is good in every genre- you just have to be a little more open-minded to get your head around it. Now I won’t be defending 3 Doors Down anytime soon, mind you- but I do like what Cyclone Records has done with On the Verge.
Band Name: Various
Album Name: A Peek From the Unknown
Best Element: “Candy Hearts” by Tragic Miracle.
Label Name: Olinger Records (formerly Oldhouse Records)
Many fledgling labels like to start out by releasing a compilation album. Some labels see it as a chance to state their mission statement, while others see it as an easier proposition than releasing an album or an EP from a specific band. [u]A Peek from the Unknown[/u] is Olinger Records’ debut release, and it seems that this compilation was set up with label mission statement in mind.
I’m not going to beat around the bush: this is a pop-punk comp. It’s got 20 bands, and nearly all of them would list pop-punk either first or second on a list of their genres. While that does make this album an extremely tiresome cover-to-cover listen (especially if you’re not a fan of high-pitched pop-punk vocals, which are in abundance here), there are some nuggets of goodness in the mix.
It would be a crime to not mention Tragic Miracle’s “Candy Hearts”, a blistering firecracker of a song that calls up comparisons to early Offspring work (always a good thing). The cool guitar work, sincerely unique lead vocals, and passionate group yells make this the hands-down best track on the comp.
Another highlight is the very not-pop-punk “Prince of Thieves” by J’espere. Featuring an excellent female vocalist over an indie-rock barn-burner, it barely fits on the comp. Also contributing some good tracks are Flashlight Arcade with the dreamy, indie-tinged “Last Call for Demerol”, the Awkward Romance with “All You Non-Conformists are Alike” (much improved since the last time I heard them), and 5 Stars for Failure’s half-hardcore, half-pop-punk “Death Won’t Take Me”.
If you’re a fan of pop-punk, this CD delivers a wide variety of acts for you to check out, and should compel you keep an eye on Olinger Records. If you’re not a fan, then there’s really not enough here to justify the purchase.
Band Name: Los
Album Name: Bad Intentions are Often Hidden Behind Beautiful Gestures
Best Element: The instrumentals
Label Name: Sweet Remedy Records (www.sweetremedyrecords.com)
Band E-mail: contact’los-band.com
This band has all the potential in the world. They understand the structure needed for a good post-hardcore song. They are incredible musicians and invoked the sounds of early Thrice in their song structures. They contain the same raw energy and controlled chaos as Thrice did at one time.
Their only fault besides a ridiculously long album title is their vocalist. While these are by no means the worst vocals I’ve heard, they do need work. The main problem is they don’t seem to fit the music. The screaming is not up to par, leaving some parts bare. More experience and practice will be the cure for this small problem, as the vocals are more of an inconvenience than a true problem for this band.
One of the reasons I like this album is because it is a heavy album. But my favorite song is actually a slower song titled “Isolation”. Starting out with a beautiful piano and guitar duet, the songs grows with the addition of a calm vocal part that features the best of vocalist Andreas Rödin. While I love the heavy stuff, this song really showcases the incredible talent of the band.
While it isn’t the strongest release of the year, [u]Bad Intentions…[/u] features a band that has the ability to revive a flat-line genre.
P.S Los is from Sweden. Just thought you might like to know that.
And yes, the album is in English.