Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

August Burns Red Is in Your FACE!

March 30, 2007

Friday March 30th, 2007
August Burns Red / From a Second Story Window / See You Next Tuesday / Life in Your Way / Chasing Victory
The Championship, Lemoyne, PA

I must admit, August Burns Red shows are almost always annoying.  Not because of the music in the least, but because of the show’s attendees.  Now, you must understand that I don’t dislike all 14 to 17 year olds – just the ones that think it scores them cool points if they run their hand up and down the bassist’s leg when he comes to their side of the stage. Or boys that hold up signs saying ‘Show me your boobs!’  Newsflash: This isn’t Woodstock.  Or a strip club.  Not that they would actually know what the inside of a place like that looks like, being that they’re oh, I don’t know…UNDERAGE?!

Aside from the annoying minions, the bands that played were top notch, for the most part. This was the first date on the In Your Face Tour, and August Burns Red’s first ever headlining tour, so it had special significance for them.  However, the first two bands to play, Life In Your Way and Chasing Victory, were indistinguishable from each other, and no one I asked seemed to know who was playing.  Thus I can only say that they were both a form of generic hardcore/metal.  I had never heard of the next band to play, See You Next Tuesday and just assumed that they were another run-of-the-mill screamo band.  Man was I wrong, and gladly so.  They were an onslaught to the senses, from the first note to the last hit on the double bass, left ringing in my ears.  Their grindcore / metal sound was heavily influenced by bands such as Pig Destroyer and Job for a Cowboy and was a vicious musical attack.  Incidentally, they also put on a borderline violent performance, and I nearly met my maker on several occasions thanks in part to a wildly swinging bass and crazy kids somersaulting into the crowd.

From a Second Story Window did not disappoint, either.  I have had the pleasure of seeing them several times before, and they put on just as chaotic and brutal a set as ever.  Their vocalist’s antics and his inclination towards vaulting himself into the crowd are always a nice way to spice up one’s evening.  August Burns Red put on an epic performance as always, complete with a rather Rocky-esque musical entrance at the start of their set.  I cannot say enough about this metalcore band.  They never disappoint in any aspect of their performance, so if you get a chance to catch this tour (or any tour they are a part of, for that matter), I highly recommend you take said chance.  ABR’s new record [u]Messengers[/u] drops on June 19th, so don’t forget to pick up your copy! And to all you music pirates out there, this one will be worth spending $10 on, I promise.

– Allison Frank

thisloverstryst’gmail.com

TriclopsInterview

March 1, 2007

Recently I was given the opportunity to get into a little Q + A with Christian and Johnny from the San Francisco’s TRICLOPS!

I hope you all enjoy this highly entertaining piece of literature.

IC: So the new EP was just officially released on February 6th, 2007…I’ve read some really good reviews of the album and of course I personally had only good things to say about the album in January’s issue of Independent Clauses (not to mention it was 2nd favorite album I reviewed for IC in 2006!).

I know everyone hopes and aims for their music to be loved… but were you expecting such positive feedback on the album so early on?

Christian: First off, thanks for your support man. We are really excited that the initial wave of feedback has been super positive. It is also completely hilarious what people write about our music in their reviews. So, besides the benefit of having such a review is the hilarity of the writer-picked band-influences on your playing when you have never even heard some band they are comparing you to. Then you get to check out something new and dig in to it, or laugh hysterically at the lazy journalism effort.

_____________________________________________________________________

[IC]: From I can gather from the liner notes of your album it looks as though the album was recorded in one day. I found the album had a real sense of urgency to it. Did you feel that recording such detailed, spastic work in such a confined time frame helped the band’s sound? Or do you feel having a longer time in the studio would have allowed the band to further experiment?

[C]: Well, we knew we had to bash this one out, first ’cause it’s only
4 songs, and second we had to pay for it out of our pocket. So we went in with a killer engineer (Phil Manley from Golden and Trans Am) and an amazing live room and banged it out. It was 2 days for tracking and mixing, which was a little tight because when you get in the studio, things change, ideas shift and new ones pop up every 2 seconds, and you have to come down off your cloud and realize the clock’s ticking.
So if there is an urgency to it, it is in the fact that we really wanted to record as soon as we could to get this music into people’s hands as fast as possible because we are all super excited about making original music together, and we that knew people would be into it.

The next record, the full length, will be much more involved because we will be taking much longer in the studio to record/mix it. And we will also have the time, as you mentioned, to experiment with our sounds and create a more dynamic and textured record, while retaining our natural intensity.

[Johnny]: We’ll have a bunch of time to layer more bullshit noise on top of it, basically.

______________________________________________________________________

[IC]: It’s been said that you ‘keep rock music uncomfortable for yourselves and others.’
-Is this a conscious effort? Or is it more so just a conglomerate of all your personal influences that caused the end product to come out something which is drastically challenging to the average listener, yet so damn appealing to a fan who loves when music is pushed to progressive extremes?

[C]: We’re all older than these white belt disco rock cocaine kids, and we do not relate to any of the music that is being pushed on the former alterna-crowd, now marketed with Hot Topic hair dye and eye shadow, blush piggy. We devolve away from generic punk/rock chord changes and cheesy gang melodies in an unconscious effort to make music resembling our influences which are rooted in a different time period. We strive for the uneasiness of say David Yow pulling his butt crack wide open and diving into the crowd, or the Melvins’ uncompromising attitude towards what the entire world thinks versus some big pockets major label cocksuckers who have the look and skinny, skinny abs who’ll play the 5am slot on Coachella cause their label said they’d drop ‘em if they didn’t.
______________________________________________________________________

[IC]: I hear a million and one influences in your music so I am dying to ask, in your youth what CDs shaped the way you write music today?

[C]: My pop had a decent record collection: he was into The Doors, Queen, Jefferson Airplane. I think it was a blessing that I wasn’t into the Beatles when I was young, instead discovered Zeppelin which my Dad didn’t see coming and got totally obsessed with them. Then he took me to see Rush for my first concert and the drum set did a 360 and I pooped my high waters.

[J]: I am straight out of the late thrash, grunge and acid punk era. I was a total teenage dirtbag. The Butthole Surfers were my Grateful Dead, Blatz were my chaos-punk Gilman Street heroes in the early 90s, and Hickey flipped my gourd out in the late 90s and made me realize that amazing new things CAN be done in the post-Nirvana era. I get inspired as all hell when I see a new band come out and completely destroy me. It doesn’t happen often. Most recently it was the Marked Men.
______________________________________________________________________

[IC]: What CDs are you currently listening to?

[C]: David Peel and the Lower East Side “Have a Marijuana”
Big Youth “Screaming Target”
Mozart “Requiem”
Allman Brothers “Eat a Peach”

[J]: Hickey “Various States of Disrepair”
Warsaw “1977-1978″
Dinosaur Jr. “Fossils”
Scratch Acid “Greatest Gift”
Marked Men “Fix My Brain”
Sleater-Kinney “The Woods”
______________________________________________________________________

[IC]: I’m gonna ask what is quickly becoming a standard question for musicians… Where you’ve been around the music scene for many years, what is your take on a MP3’s and the growing digital age of technology?

[C]: It’s cool, with the growth of technology comes the fact that people are just gonna have to adapt and deal with it all. I mean just try to think back a couple years to the pre-myspace world. Then go back to the pre-email correspondence routine, and you’ll realize that we are spoiled little bitches right now. You can hear anything you want for free on MySpace, and you can get in touch with any band you need to in a flash. It’s great, BUT like everything else it comes with its issues and hesitations. It is, to an extent, taking the work ethic out of priority for a lot of bands, because now instead of touring to spread your music, people just sit on the computer and accumulate “friends” which a lot of people in the biz take for consumers. Suddenly bands become obsessed with their MySpace status and miss out on the tradition of being a rock band in the world and working your ass off and benefiting from it.

I’m into the computer world just interacting on its own and rock music fans getting back into being at the concert. Guess we better have an extensive T-shirt line by then.

[J]: The whole internet celebrity thing doesn’t really work or matter, though, unless you back it up with some seriously good records and touring. Nobody will remember who Lady Sovereign was 10 minutes from now.

I’ll tell you what, though – All that stuff makes it a hell of a lot easier to book a tour. I used to have to just use the phone, and most punk rockers didn’t have cell phones or working answering machines.

______________________________________________________________________

[IC]: So I see you are planning a mini-tour through Arizona, Texas, Nevada and your home state of California. What can spectators expect to see from
TRICLOPS if they are lucky enough to witness one of your live shows?

[C]: All your favorite novels, and the emotions you’ve felt through them, coupled with the first time you fell of your bike in front of all your friends, mix that with a tequila flanked by the feeling you had when you wore the concert T-shirt to school the next day feeling badass and then the football team captain said you were a queer in front of his girlfriend, but she smiled at you and thought you could teach her something. That summer you took acid and went to the beach, swam out into the phosphorescent moonlight light waves, which turned out to be a swimming rattle snake, and you thought you walked on water but really you pissed yourself. That’s like a TRICLOPS! live show.

[J]: 4 mean old assholes on stage, high on whatever’s available, beating the living shit out of themselves, their instruments, the audience, and any furniture in sight.

_____________________________________________________________________

[IC]: I’ve also read you are planning a full length album for Fall 2007. It may be a bit early to ask but have you already begun writing new material? And if so what, if anything, can fans expect?

[J]: Expectorate the best.
[C]: The new record is being recorded as we write, and anyone who likes our EP will be excited to learn that there’s 40 minutes of music on it. It’s the best music
I’ve ever written with the best musicians I’ve ever played with and it will be like a complicated odyssey, or like if a rock opera was a dude and he really just wanted to do drugs and have sex, instead of sit there all day in that same pose with that apple that never rots. That’s what it will sound like because there’s a reason that dude got that rock opera gig in the first place and it wasn’t the size that mattered.

______________________________________________________________________

[IC]: Though many of you stem from different bands from around the San
Francisco scene (BOTTLES AND SKULLS, VICTIM’S FAMILY, FLESHIES, LOWER
FORTY-EIGHT) your music gives the impression that you all really have a great chemistry within the current band. With a mini-tour planned, an EP out and a full-length coming later this year… Do you feel TRICLOPS! has become a full-time commitment for all of you?

[C]: YES!!
[J]: I don’t do anything half-assed.
_____________________________________________________________________

I should also mention Triclops! are playing the GSL showcase at SXSW in
March 2007, along with touring partners 400 Blows and Qui (with vocalist
David Yow of Jesus Lizard).

And if you haven’t yet please pick up their album through [url=http://www.sickroomrecords.com]their label’s
website[/url]- it may just be the most entertaining $7.00 you’ve ever spent.

-Josh Hogan
josh@orchidscurse.com

European Idol, Sort of…

European Idol, Sort of…

Every spring something astonishingly peculiar happens across Europe. It’s called the Eurovision Song Contest and, yes, it still exists. In a world of too-cool indie bands and ghetto poets, Eurovision has remained remarkably the same since its inception in the fifties. Like the Olympics for songwriting, it offers nothing but the campiest, most over-the-top performances of the year as representatives from all over Europe vie for the coveted Eurovision title. I watched the contest for the first time when I was over in England last spring and was amazed that it was still watched and loved by so many in this cynical age.

But, enough about Eurovision… what I really want to spotlight this month is Melodifestivalen, the annual competition Sweden puts on to select its competitor/representative for Eurovision. Yes… this is serious business in Scandinavia, and these qualifying rounds are huge in Sweden. With good reason, too.

Melodifestivalen was brought to my attention this year because my favorite band in the world, The Ark, entered and immediately celebrated and subverted the competition. Hopefully they’ll get the chance to do so all the way to Eurovision. But even with my limited understanding of the Swedish language, the show itself has been incredibly fun to watch so far. Like American Idol if it celebrated songs instead of singers, Melodifestivalen is addictive, allowing viewers to vote for the best songs and send competitors to the final round in early March (The Ark’s already made it that far, in case you’re wondering). Sure, the music is pure pop camp, but it’s performed with such relish that it’s impossible to resist.

Watch the competition live every Saturday at 8 PM (Swedish time)!

– Nick James

The Vision of a Dying World-What You Are To Be You Now Become

visionofadyingworldThe Vision of a Dying WorldWhat You Are To Be You Now Become

Well-written and catchy folk with a very unique personality.

Self-released

Upon reading the name The Vision of a Dying World, you might imagine something in the vein of those dreaded names Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco. Yet upon listening, your fears would be proven completely and utterly false. The sound is along the lines of the more recent work from Piebald, but more folk-oriented.

The four-man folk band from San Diego delivers terrific, sometimes bizarre, lyrics and a deft knowledge of the many instruments used on their eight-song album, What You Are to Be You Now Become.

With the slightly-off vocal harmonies that kick-start the album in “Wishing Well,” one immediately has a sense that the album is not of the usual folk fare. The song sets a tone for the rest of the album, presenting a catchy, albeit brief, chorus and instrumentation that gives it a happy feeling.

This sound is fairly typical throughout the album, with a couple exceptions. With “Smack My Face,” the band produces a darker tone. There is uneasiness behind the twanging banjo and melodic accordion of the song that is just hard to describe.

In sharp contrast exists “The Beaver King,” which is, quite possibly, the most bizarre song ever written. The song itself is catchy and bright, almost bordering on the pop side of things. It has the largest set of lyrics of any song in the album, but behind the light beat, banjo and electric guitar that fleshes out the song, the lyrics are purely strange. More or less, the voice behind the song states that he hates beavers and that someday he will become “The Beaver King” and put them through “An American beaver Holocaust.” It’s strange, but comical in its happy attitude.

When listening carefully to the lyrics throughout the album, you can hear some of the more morbid lyrics sprinkled in various places. It’s not until one finishes listening to the album that it is far more remorseful than happy, speaking often of death. Yet amongst it all, the band pushes forth a sense of contentment behind the ideas of impending doom.

What You Are to Be You Now Become isn’t for everyone. If you enjoy folk or well-written lyrics, I suggest you give it a listen. If you prefer something a little more standard, steer clear. I thoroughly enjoy this album and will continue listening to it for years to come.

-Nate Williams

nathanmw@ou.edu

Urban Legends-Of Old Lost Days

urbanlegendsUrban LegendsOf Old Lost Days

Toe-tapping rhythms propel this pop/acoustic/indie mix.

Label Name: No Karma Music Group

As both an artist and songwriter, Hutch Harris has striven to fulfill a goal all of his fellow musicians share: to craft the perfect song. Each artist is different, of course, but for Hutch Harris pop was the way to go. For nearly a decade now he has been fighting the good fight to create the ultimate pop song. His latest effort Of Old Lost Days covers his trials and tribulations in working towards this goal from 1997-2002. And while Harris, under the pseudonym Urban Legends, doesn’t quite perfect the art of pop, he does manage to sculpt several worthy tunes along the way.

The album kicks off with “Soak and Drown,” a tune whose immediately catchy beat sets the listener up for what to expect the rest of the album. With a solid bass line, hooking guitar and toe-tapping rhythm, this tune comes off as one of the album’s better tracks.

Swaying into the appropriately named title track, the album’s mood seeps of vibes from not only the 60s/70s, but 90s alternative as well. Though the music is catchy, the vocals sound on the adolescent side and take away from the song. “My Only Defense Left” is simple but also catchy. Harris’ formerly childlike nasal tones spin over the music this time in a poppy tune that echoes of what teen Weezer must have sounded like.

The record skips along to the “The World is Strange,” arguably the best track on the disc. Right from the get-go Harris has your toes tapping, your fingers snapping and your hands just begging to clap. A melodic keyboard lead pulls in the listener while a clean guitar and bass fill up the rest of the space. Though there is nothing incredible about the lyrics of this tune, the atmosphere it generates earns kudos from me.

A smooth but lyrically corny “Electric Heat” leads the album into a filler section. Though some of the tracks in the middle of the CD appear interesting, the lo-fi and/or live circumstances of their recording ruin their message.

“Party for as Long as You Can” takes the listener to a happy place and immediately puts a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart. Harmony, a good vibe and catchy lyrics that bring to mind the drifting attitude of the 50s/60s generation make this song another stepping stone in Harris’ quest for pop perfection.

The album carries on over several decent tracks, including “The West Coast” and “We Partied Here Enough” before finishing with the short-lived “The Future, The Sea.”

Needless to say, Harris’ goal falls short. Though Of Old Lost Days holds in it several catchy tunes, much of the feeling is lost in bad recordings and poor arrangements. However, trying to craft the ultimate pop song after the insanity that was the 1980s and 1990s alternative scene is a massive undertaking, so Harris can’t really be held accountable for failing.

If you’re looking for a few tunes to tap your toes to, get lost in and don’t mind an old school recording here or there, Urban Legends’ Of Old Lost Days is the way to go.

-Erik Williams

Endlesscreed@charter.net

We’ll Come Back…If We Can…

We’ll Come Back…If We Can…

Heavy Heavy Low Low, Fear Before the March of Flames, Murder By Death and Thursday

Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA February 3rd 2007

I love Heavy Heavy Low Low. All the guys are awesome, they’re very chill and they put on a great show. The show they put on at Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA, on February was no exception. The guys walked on stage and immediately began ripping the faces off the crowd. At one point, a guitarist began licking a metal pole while pressing his guitar against the pole to get feedback. Then both lead singer Robbie and guitarist Danny dove into the crowd while continuing to play. (This immediately sent Chameleon Club security into a panic. When one band member jumps in the crowd they pull him out, but which one do they get out first when two jump in?) As the set ended, I honestly was worried that I had seen the best set of the night. Then Fear Before the March of Flames took the stage

While they weren’t playing the usual brand of spaz-core, Fear Before broke out some new material that featured the more melodic side of lead singer Dave Marion. The focus on the new material of their 2006 release The Always Open Mouth threw a few kids for a loop, because they were expecting the spaz-core, circle pit, “I want a bloody face” show that the band’s sophomore release Art Damage created. After about a song and a half, the crowd warmed up to Dave and the rest of the band. About half way through the set, the band broke out with two tracks from Art Damage, and subsequently a number of kids were dragged out of the venue for attempting to create a circle pit. But the show went on and as the final song was revving up, Dave climbed onto a ledge on the wall and sang the entire last song from the wall…until doing a front flip off the ledge for his second venture into the crowd for the night (we’re pretty sure Chameleon won’t be inviting them back anytime soon).

The next band up, Murder by Death, looked the odd man out of a line-up filled with spaz-core and post-hardcore. Their most recent album In Bocca Al Lupo was a step toward folk and a step away from the ambient post-hardcore of their earlier albums. Most of the crowd was expecting to go check out merch and have a drink while Murder by Death played, but from the first note, the entire crowd was riveted to the stage. Instead of promoting their newest stuff, Murder by Death went at the crowd with the best of the best, pulling songs from every record they released. This included crowd favorite “Killbot 2000.” Even mellow songs from their 2006 release were rocked up through jaw-dropping solos by cellist and keyboardist Sarah Balliet and guitarist/vocalist Adam Turla. The band walked off the stage to wild applause from a crowd that had expected nothing from this spectacular band.

Before going any further I want to inform you, the reader, a little about my bias toward Thursday. I’ve been listening to Thursday since 2001. They are the reason I got into underground music and their first full length Full Collapse still amazes me every time I listen to it. Until the show at Chameleon Club, I had only been presented with one opportunity to see them (which fell through due to an ugly fight with an ex…never mind you don’t care). The key is that I was very excited about this show and I was terrified that I would be disappointed.

I was far from disappointed. Thursday put on the most intense performance I have ever seen and moved the crowd in a way I have never seen before.

After opening with “At this Velocity” from their latest release A City by the Light Divided, Thursday jumped into a set that mixed old and new, which gave both new and old fans something to get excited about. Honestly, the Thursday set remains a bit of a blur. Lead singer Geoff Rickly put on an intense show that appeared to act almost as a religious experience for some of the crowd. The band played every “single” they’ve released including “At This Velocity,” “Cross Out the Eyes,” “For the Workforce Drowning” and crowd favorite “Jet Black New.” The lasting impact from the show was the band’s final song “Autumn Leaves Revisited.” The song is long and mellow and the use of it as the final song is in deep contrast from the usual ending for most bands, but for Thursday, the use of a mellow ending fit almost too well.

I’ve been waiting to see Thursday for almost 6 years and they did not disappoint, but neither did any of the other bands on the tour.

-Scott Landis

rebassist66@comcast.net

Fresh Sound

Fresh Sound

The modern music era is in dire need of a fresh, new sound. The radio/MTV scene offers little hope of this. It seems it is up to the world of independent music to come up with the antidote. Might it be that a sweet little band from the musical gold mine of New York City will offer this sound?

The City of New York is filled to the brim with musical talent. Some of the most influential and downright genius musicians of all time, like Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and Billy Joel, got their start there. The Redbirds are the next great talent from this area.

With their unique indie-pop sound, The Redbirds are gaining a following around the northeastern United States. The band consists of three members: guitarist and frontman Michael Collins, drummer Josh Fullam, and bassist Brett Hauze. They play gigs everywhere from Rochester to Connecticut to New Jersey. They recently released Snapshot, their first album, and are currently hard at work on a second.

Their sound offers vocal harmonies and voice doubling we have all come to enjoy from the likes of America and The Beatles. The Redbirds’ instrumentals combine indie and pop in a collage of sound that is completely original. The rhythms of Hauze and Fullam combined with Collins’ vocal/6-string skills almost guarantee that it won’t be long until we hear songs like “A Heart Like Mine” and “Sideways” on the radio. Until then, their songs are available on iTunes. Snapshot can be found on Cdbaby.

***

Since the release of Snapshot, Brett Hauze was forced by personal reasons to leave the band. He still remains a close friend of Collins and Fullam. This creates a void at the bass position, one that is soon to be filled. According to Fullam, the addition of a keyboard player is also in the works.

-Stephen C. O’Riley

Theanti-Live From Irving Theatre EP

theantiTheantiLive From Irving Theatre EP

Experimental rock with strong guitar work.

Inderma Records

I’m not going to lie; this review was a little hard to write. This is probably because I can’t place the music next to anything I’m familiar with, but that isn’t a bad thing. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what other bands Theanti sounds like, which is more than a lot of other bands have to say.

The strongest feature on this internet-only EP is the guitar work; technically it is very interesting, though it is loaded with a chorus effect. At times this might not do anything for their cause. Adversely, the use of this chorus on the guitar allows them to sound very progressive. Rhythmically, the music is strong; the drummer never misses a beat and the drums sound full. For me the lowest point of the EP was the vocals; throughout the whole EP they seem forced and at times frantic.

The first half of the EP is much stronger, which could be due to the fact that most of the songs sound very similar. The guitar work is centered on having a very technical sound, but begins to drag on a little towards the end despite the EP only being fifteen minutes long. The introduction track is instrumental and probably the most somber. It has the ability to grab the listener if it is their first listen and keeps them wondering what could come next. The next track, “We Are Ruins,” picks up the pace a little and has some jagged guitar work with a firm beat. After that, Theanti gets a little more ambient with the track “Reflections of Time Travel.” Another track, “The Cancer Generation,” is a little lost on me. I feel like the vocals and guitar work aren’t as strong as the rest of the EP’s, and this is where the record starts to lack. From this point on, I feel as if I’ve already heard the rest of these songs because I listened to the first few. However, Theanti define their style with repetitive sound.

Overall, the music is dissonant and jarring. This leaves it to sound very distancing, which some people tend to like. I wouldn’t put this release on to let it fall into background noise, because it would most certainly take charge of the atmosphere.

– Travis Johansen

tjj5649@rit.edu

The Agency-Turn EP

theagencyThe AgencyTurn EP

Rock/indie/pop that is just awesome. Period.

Perch Records

In 1999, a little band from south Florida shook the very foundation of the indie rock scene. After releasing one full-length release (1997’s Rock to the Apocalypse) and cultivating a humble following, The Agency released their second full length CD Engines, which was a force to be reckoned with. Engines was a killer album with remarkable musicianship, impeccable song writing and a lineup featuring future all-stars such as Mike Marsh and Chris Carrabba, both now of Dashboard Confessional fame.

But other reviews are playing up The Agency’s relationship to Dashboard Confessional on a grander scale so I will leave it at that. The Agency deserves recognition on its own merit.

Much to the chagrin of the band’s modest but loyal following, The Agency disbanded in 2001, citing family issues and poor tours. The members continued to play music in various incarnations, with Marsh joining Dashboard Confessional and forming Seville. Dashboard Confessional catapulted into stardom, and Seville disbanded in 2003.

In 2003, The Agency got together for a reunion show, and realized that the chemistry was still there – by the end of 2004, The Agency began recording Turn. The recording process took quite some time, mainly due to Marsh’s commitments with Dashboard Confessional, but on February 9, 2007, the EP was released. The Agency was alive again, and the album whose sample tracks I had been salivating over on the band’s MySpace page were now mine to listen to anywhere, anytime.

With over seven years and the influence of interim musical endeavors between the two releases, it was to be expected that Turn would reflect an evolution or maturation – a concept that can be both frightening and enthralling for fans. There is a certain evolution of their sound, though it falls on the enthralling side of the equation.

Taken as a stand-alone release, Turn is an impeccable album. The same astounding musicianship is still present. The combination of Marsh’s soothing vocals, Chris Drueke’s powerful yet emotive voice, driving guitar riffs and catchy choruses just further carves The Agency’s niche further in stone with Turn. The production quality is as crisp and clean as ever.

And then there is the songwriting –which The Agency usually hits out of the park. With lines such as “I’ve got this picture of you/I think you have a faded copy too/If a smile tells a story/I must have really disappointed you” (from “Pictures”), you can almost see through the eyes of the songwriter. There are even still the remnants of that powerful sound that was definitive of The Agency. The opening track on the album, “Walking Disaster,” is very reminiscent of this powerful sound, as is “I’m Innocent.” Make no mistake about it; a transition has been made. The sound is more sophisticated and smooth, such as on “Mary Mourn,” and at times encompasses a country style, especially on “Better Than Yesterday.”

When compared to Engines, though, the album overall is a little more difficult to get into. Don’t get me wrong – I loved it at first listen, but it would be difficult – if not damn near impossible – to recapture the pure magic that was the Engines album. However, when compared to other albums in the same genre, Turn will win hands down, every time.

-Andrea Caruso

Sunshine131@gmail.com

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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