Friday, November 3, 2006
Terror / Wisdom in Chains / Strength for a Reason / Hostages
The Championship, Lemoyne, PA
At long last: a hardcore show. I’m still not quite sure exactly why I get so excited about these things. Maybe it’s the perpetual possibility of being carted off in an ambulance to get facial reconstructive surgery after being pulverized by an errant foot to the face. Or perhaps it’s the seemingly innumerable hardcore jerks that come out of the woodwork to yell things about brotherhood and getting drunk together: “YEAAAAAHHHHHH BROTHERS!’#!’# YEEEAAAHHHHH WE’RE WASTED!’#!.” Whatever the reason, they’re way more fun to photograph than any other type of music out there, guaranteed.
I’ll admit it, most hardcore sounds more or less the same. I mean, you have tough guy hardcore, or hardcore with more chugga chugga breakdowns, or super fast or super slow hardcore, but essentially, it’s the same. The first band to play, Hostages, did absolutely nothing for me at all. It wasn’t that they were lacking musically, they were just, well, incredibly boring and disconnected. They put on a lackluster performance with little to no audience participation or involvement at all. In fact, I don’t even think there was much band member participation either. After said boring performance, anything would have looked better to me; however, the next band exceeded my expectations.
Now, I always like to support the local music scene by adding bands from my area on myspace that friend request me, but I’ve never actually seen or listened to the majority of them, sadly. Strength for a Reason was one of these bands, so I was anxious to actually experience them, and I must say that I’m glad that I finally did. They far outshone the band preceding them – by a long shot. Without boxing them into a single category, they played a version of tough guy hardcore, showing off their musical prowess and energetic performance, with much more crowd participation than I had imagined for a relatively local band. They were also added to this show at the last minute (due partially to the fact that Set Your Goals backed out for some reason), so kudos to them for dropping everything to come play.
My roommate loves the next band to play; Wisdom in Chains. In fact, they were the only reason that she attended this show, so it’s safe to say that I was excited to see them. It’s also safe to say that I was not disappointed, and the only real blemish in her musical taste is liking New Found Glory. But I forgive her. Wisdom in Chains, despite missing one of their guitarists, managed to put on an exceptional performance. Like Terror, they too thrive on sing-a-longs gigantic group pile-ons fighting over the mic. Unlike most hardcore bands, they incorporated several intricate guitar solos into their music, and I was informed that it sounds much better with both guitarists present. Hey, I was pretty impressed with just one.
The final band, Terror, is probably one of the most noted and hyped bands on hardcore today. Their reputation precedes them and they lived up to it, in my opinion. I think I nearly died about 17 times, and if it wasn’t for my boyfriend (who also doubles as bodyguard at time, due to his linebacker like stature) I would have probably had a mic stand through my forehead and a couple broken arms. That’s right, a couple. The vocalist was very enthusiastic, to say the least, even breaking into a two step several times while onstage. His enthusiasm was catchy, as the show attendees became progressively more violent as their set went on. Musically, Terror is nothing special in the realm of hardcore, but because of the weight that they carry in the music industry (at least in the circles that I travel in) the sheer excitement and audience participation that they bring to their performances is enough to go see them. So if you enjoy things like semi-friendly violence, sing-a-longs, and slightly drunken debauchery, Terror will not disappoint.
Band: 5th Projekt
Best Element: Strong songwriting
Here at Independent Clauses, we do our best to review every release that comes in our door, and I’d say we do a good job. But sometimes stuff gets lost in the mail on the way to us, CDs get lost on the way out to reviewers, some reviewers quit with our music in tow, files get corrupted, links don’t work, and on and on. We don’t like it when it happens, but sometimes it does.
5th Projekt’s Circadian and its predecessor EP The Tales of Don Quixote are a prime example of the triumph of the forces that be over our desire to review something- because every single last problem that I mentioned in the previous list has happened to 5th Projekt’s music while in our care. It’s patently awful.
But they were insistent on sending us a hard copy version of their release Circadian. Upon receiving the disc, I saw why.
I’ve never been more impressed with an independent CD’s art and packaging- not just because the packaging is unique and beautiful, but because it actually complements the music. The CD comes in a metal case, which underscores the sleek, slick feel the songs have. The art on the cover is ambigram of the title Circadian, which means that you can read the title from two directions- either ‘right side up’, or ‘upside down’, although those really don’t mean much when you have a circular CD case (as they do).
That’s just the outside of the art. I could go into greater detail on the booklet, but you want to know about music.
Circadian’s music lives up to its art in spades. With earlier releases we noted the coldness of the tunes that came from bad use of excess space between the parts. On Circadian, the use of separation in their artsy space-rock/indie rock has been corrected- instead of a detriment, the amount of space is now a positive aspect that sets them apart from the rest of forlorn indie-rockers out there. Tunes such as “Distraktid” are amazing because of their complete control over the mood of a room, despite having barely any interlocking or overlapping parts.
But 5th Projekt isn’t all reverbed guitars and humming bass space-rock- they draw upon significant other influences to create wholly unique band. Tara Rice’s sultry vocals would be right at home in a singer/songwriter showcase at a piano bar, but she leads her ample, mysterious tone to art-rock instead. The drums throughout portray a very interesting tribal motif. Crashing guitars appear in “Spiders”, 60’s folk vibes invade the guitars of “Skepticosm”, and the beginning of “One to Throw Away” has profound influences from epic movie soundtracks.
All these influences combine to make 5th Projekt’s unique sound- a simple yet profoundly moving sound that is fluid, epic, haunting and memorable. If Portishead cleaned up their act a bit, they might sound like 5th Projekt….maybe. But 5th Projekt is truly in a class of their own, fusing genres on top of genres to make a sound that is easily listenable but instantly recognizable. Circadian is an extremely exciting offering on all fronts.
Band: Addison Park
Best Element: Great harmonies, catchy riffs
Genre: Pop punk
Pop punk is a genre that has been played to its core. Hundreds of bands have emerged from garages in the suburbs of America to make a sound that slightly tweaks or maybe even improves on the methods of the Fall Out Boys and the New Found Glories of the world. So what’s so different about Addison Park, a group of guys from ‘burbs of Chicago, and their early 2006 release Seven?
What really stands out on a couple of tracks that set the band apart from most other bands in their genre are Danny Casady’s ‘80s-tastic but still very intriguing keyboard parts. It is especially prevalent on the almost-too-catchy track “Apperception.”
Okay, so maybe the boys have some cliché lyrics (“One / You could hate me / Two / You could love me / On the count of three I could give you my reasons to die”). The majority of their lyrics follow the same pattern, with lots of tears and hearts and love and hate and pain. That is definitely the Park’s weak point.
However, where the band lacks in original lyrical themes, they make up threefold with their riffs. When Glenn Eck’s guitar isn’t rocking out to its fullest potential, songs like “While You Sleep,” “This Time Last February,” and “Amor Vincit Omnia” have more chill, but still very intricately done, guitar parts. Brian Weber’s vocals in each song are also something to be envied by other suburbanites that try for a career in punk music.
The album may only have seven songs, but it’s actually quite innovative for its genre. With a sound that’s very crisp, it’s hard to believe that these guys aren’t on a major label.
Band Name: Andy Werth
Album Name: Back to the Sun EP
Best Element: Fun, poppy sing-a-long music
Genre: Indie Pop/Rock
Label Name: N/A
Band E-mail: email@example.com
Andy Werth’s Back to the Sun is a short but sweet EP, showcasing three catchy and poppy songs in a Ben Folds meets Vegas show music style. It’s got a tremendous sing-a-long, feel-good quality.
The musicianship on this EP is really quite good. The vocals are very smooth, and a wide variety of instruments are used. Guitars, piano, drums, strings, horns- it’s got it all and it is all very well done. The EP is also really well produced and sounds very crisp and clear.
Of the three songs, “I Caught a Greyhound to New York” stands out as the best. It’s a fun, catchy little number about taking, as the title indicates, a Greyhound bus to New York to catch a change of scenery. What made this song stand out was a cool little syncopated part right in the middle which is very interesting and diverse.
All in all, this was a fun CD to listen to – as mentioned before, short and sweet but a great way to showcase Andy Werth and his accompanying musicians’ talents.
Album Name: Blank Faced Clocks
Best Element: Rawness of the music
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Pig Zen’s Pace
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Taylor is the mastermind behind Blag’ard, which is essentially a one-piece band. However, on Blank Faced Clocks he is assisted by the drumming skills and backing vocals of Bill Buckley. The album was recorded in North Carolina and put out by Joe’s own label, Pig Zen’s Pace.
The rawness is ever-present throughout the 5-song EP, yet it doesn’t hamper the quality or the opinion of the album. In fact, it may even be asset, setting Blag’ard apart from the pack of singer/songwriters. The beginning track “Monk” is a well spliced, spacey piece which gives ample time to reflect on the ambient sounds. The second track “Losty” is a more straight-forward rock song, showing that he can cut to the chase and just rock out. The middle piece is a great number entitled “Peaches in Cream” showing a stranger, more off-key side to the tunes, driving hard to the point that variation is a key factor on this album. “Friends Like You” is a great song, likely my favorite on the album. It showcases some nice guitar work with what is my favorite vocal line on the album when he begs the question, “With friends like you/ who needs strangers?” The final song, “Jenny G,” is a nice closing to the album, though pegging love-lost stereo-types.
All in all, I was pleased with this album but not blown away. The potential of Joe Taylor is undeniable: the combination of his skillful guitar playing, song writing and unique vocal work are all strong assets. Hopefully Blank Faced Clocks will have enough momentum to fuel his musical passion into the horizon.
Band Name: Books About UFOs
Album Name: Let the Bridges Ignite
Best Element: The consistence of the instrumental quality
Label Name: Sickboy Records
Band E-mail: email@example.com
Maybe you’ve noticed that I very rarely give anything a straight-ahead label like “punk.” I will usually call a band “punk with a splash of hardcore” or “mellow post-hardcore rock,” but a single word genre definition is a rarity in my reviews. That being said, I want to see these guys live. The album is good, but it’s your standard punk album. It has a lot of energy but you can tell that all the energy isn’t there- something always gets lost in the recording process. But overall the album is good.
I don’t listen to much punk, mainly because it generally all sounds the same. But unlike the average punk album Let the Bridges Ignite varies its sound. The first thing I noticed was that each song ends before the next begins. When it’s used right, connecting songs through similar chord progressions can be cool, but it’s being over used in punk (mainly because a lot of bands don’t know enough chords). The guys of Books About UFOs know how to change up the chords and tweak their sound to give it something intangible. This intangible takes the album from average to good. But please remember, I don’t like listening to punk albums, so my statement of “it’s good” would be “wow this is the best thing since sliced bread” from any other reviewer.
The album never falters. From the opening instrumental track to the final chord, the instrumentals and vocals never lose their edge.
This is a good album. I really can’t say much more. Their album is consistent and fun to listen to. The review you will want to read will be the review of their live show (guys please come east!) because that is where punk thrives.
Band Name: The Comeback Tour
Album Name: Apologizing the Broadcast
Best Element: Excellence in both writing and musicianship
Genre: Energetic Indie Rock
Label Name: Reunion Aesthetic
Band E-mail: Kevin@thecomebacktour.com
The Comeback Tour’s sound is a wonderful throwback to old indie rock and emo bands, recalling crunchy vocals and sensitive themes. Quite honestly, listening to Apologizing the Broadcast was an exercise in nostalgia and enthusiasm for the band’s skills in musicianship and songwriting.
According to their website, Apologizing the Broadcast seeks to tell a story of “two brothers who desperately try to save their city from a catastrophic flood.” Through carefully painted musical imagery and poetic songwriting, the story is both intricately and marvelously communicated. The story is intelligent and epic, conjuring up your imagination to visualize the situations that arise as the story progresses.
Aside from the story, though, the music itself is unique and, as mentioned before, pays excellent homage to the roots from which they have grown. The Comeback Tour’s Apologizing the Broadcast will definitely find its place in my regular CD rotation.
It’s a pretty simple, really- you send us your name, mailing address, and shirt size, and we’ll send you some music. The first two people who get their name and mailing address to me will also get a shirt. If you want a specific type of music, you can specify genre. Otherwise, you’ll just get whatever we pick up. We may send you one, maybe a couple CDs- who knows. It’s just another way that Independent Clauses works for you. So e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and get your free stuff.
Yeah, But What Happens Next?
Independent Clauses raves a lot of bands- it’s just the way we are. But I bet you’re wondering if any of these bands actually do anything after we rave them up. Well, we wonder as well. Here’s an update on some bands we covered and how they’re doing.
Page France got heavily blogged after the release of Hello, Dear Wind and can now be talked about in hip indie circles. Their prolific output only helps out their indie cred- I sense a Death Cab story.
Revolutions on Canvas, published by the tiny Ad Astra publishers when we reviewed it, is now printed by Warner books and is available everywhere.
The Futurists are on tour with the Working Title all up and down the coast.
Street to Nowhere has been on the bill with The Format, The Cold War Kids, and the Futureheads.
ReedKD got featured on this is Indie Rock, Vol. 2, put out by Deep Elm.
Courage Riley went on to form Astralwerks artist Baumer.
The Detholz! were featured in the documentary Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? along with Pedro the Lion and other great bands.
Great Glass Elevator have been put in print a great deal, from Alt Press to the LA Times.
Fairmont is still cranking out albums, and they still send them all to us for review.
Many bands have inked deals with small labels or started their own, lots of bands are sticking it to the man by not breaking up, and all are still as awesome as we said they were when we reviewed them. So there’s some proof- some of our finds do make it into the bigger world of accepted independent music. You can now all sleep with more security, I hope.
Band Name: Various
Album Name: Inderma Records: Volume 1
Best Element: Original, interesting bands
Label Name: Inderma Records
Band E-mail: email@example.com
In the spirit of Russkaja, Morricone Youth, Iver, and Blue Ink Rebellion, here’s another bizarre and awesome new thing from Independent Clauses: Inderma Records. Yes, it’s an entire record label this time. Inderma Records specializes in improvisational music- music that hasn’t been made before it is performed/recorded and probably won’t ever be played in that way again. It is spontaneous songwriting that tests the chemistries of musicians to the maximum. It’s kind’ve like jazz, only without a commonly accepted point of reference. The collective state of mind of the group is the point of reference for a song.
These bands range from the rather complex, multi-person antics of Alchemy is Fire to the ambient, fuzzy Theanti to the dissonant and clangy duo Lamps to the extremely quirky, lo-fi pop of Cody Pike. Each have a say on this comp, whether it be Alchemy is Fire’s 15-minute long improv freak-out “Intergalactic Antics”, or Lamps’ two six-minute contributions, or Theanti’s shorter, glitchy ambient pieces.
Although this album is extremely interesting and exciting to me as a lover of new and interesting music, the point of improv isn’t to sit around and listen to it in your house. Improv is a live experience and as such, these recordings merely serve as impetus to go see the bands live. Cody Pike and Theanti have higher replay value, but bands like Alchemy is Fire and Lamps have little replay value. This is not to say they aren’t brilliant bands- it’s just that recordings are not the preferred method of hearing them. But sometimes there is no other way.
I’m thrilled that Inderma Records exists to help out bands like these. I think everyone deserves a fair shake, and the good people up at Inderma are making it easier for bands to do what they love. Everyone should hear this album, just to see what is happening- and since Inderma is a non-profit organization that makes all its albums available on their website, you can. Go there. It might inspire you.