Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Hourly Radio

August 1, 2007

thehourlyradio

Band: The Hourly Radio<br><br>Album Name: <u>History Will Never Hold Me</u><br><br>Best Element: Razor-sharp melodies <br><br>Genre: Pop/rock<br><br>Website: www.thehourlyradio.com<br><br>Label: Kirtland Records<br><br>Band E-mail: info@thehourlyradio.com

Aaron Closson, lead vocalist for pop/rock band The Hourly Radio, at times recalls an early Darren Hayes or Greg Gilbert of the Delays. Possessing a voice that can easily waver between the androgynous angelic to the gritty indie showman, his presence is the most immediate component of the band’s debut release, <u>History Will Never Hold Us.</u> Fueled by propulsive pop melodies that further ingratiate themselves with each listen, the songs almost always match the singer.
<u>History</u> begins with a bit of a red herring, the instrumental “Travelsigns.” From there on, though, the band aims straight for the pop jugular. Tracks like the bouncy “Crime Does Pay” and the radio sing-along “Not a Victim” are an example of what modern rock could sound like if all the Nickelbacks out there took a dose of Prozac. “Deaf Ears,” with its blistering vocal performance and insistent guitar is the album’s ultimate standout. When Closson attacks the chorus’ ruthless “your prayers fall on deaf ears tonight, my love,” it’s completely believable, even as he does so in his best angry pop star style. It’s the sound of Savage Garden gone indie, and it’s absolutely thrilling.
The record slows down a bit towards the end and the songs become harder to crack, hiding their radio hooks further beneath their sleeves. One exception is “Means To An End,” a gentle guitar strummer that manages to fit in perfectly with the glossy pop before it even as it mixes folk elements with sweeps of synthesizer. <u>History Will Never Hold Me</u> lacks nothing in commercial appeal and, with any luck, should find its way into the hearts of many pop fans eager for something with a bit more of a bite to it. B+
<br><br>Nick James<br><br>Jamesn65@gmail.com<br><br>

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W. W. Lowman-Plain Songs EP

Band Name: W. W. Lowman

Album Name: Plain Songs EP

Best Element: The interplay of instrumentation and vocals.

Genre: Indie/ambient/jazz.

Website: www.myspace.com/wwlowman

Label Name: ?who-hey? Recordings {digital release}, Arbouse Recordings {CD release}, Sun of Sons {Vinyl release}

Contact: press@who-hey.com

Please be advised: these songs are intoxicatingly mellow. Three parts indie, two parts ambient, one part lounge jazz, a splash of horns and bass tones reminiscent of Cake, and garnished with ephemeral vocals that serve more as instruments than as words, W.W. Lowman’s Plain Songs E.P. is a sonically seductive cocktail. While much of music today is pre-packaged to be consumed and pissed out within three weeks, Plain Songs begs you to drink slowly; I’m still sipping in this wonderful little album.

Don’t allow the title to deceive you: Plain Songs is anything but plain. The album’s first track, “Tea till Ten,” begins with a droning that develops into a soft yet driving guitar lead. It both welcomed me in and had me wondering what to expect: pop-punk; an experimental melody; crashing, tube-driven guitars. Wrong… I was completely off. Lowman next introduces flutes that rise and fall over the lead line before cutting to smooth rhythm guitars. Lowman’s voice enters next—his soft tones mimicking the rhythm guitar—before a joyful round of voices unravels in ba-da-da-daaa’s and ba-bop’s: simultaneously drawing me in and sending me out from the song. It has that feel of a child’s sing-along without being juvenile.

Complexity dominates the six-song E.P., and with just cause: Lowman spent three years developing its textured flow. Lowman’s interest in classical composition winds its way through a pop-music filter to produce a crafted yet catchy album. The fourth track on Plain Songs, “Batie,”—which Lowman has made available for free download on http://www.myspace.com/wwlowman—is the early lead for my favorite; although this album doesn’t lend itself to favorites, with each track being part of a greater whole. Unexpected drum fills tango with an introductory lead line that hums just out of their flittering reach. Midway through, a more prominent line—singed by tube-overdrive—stabs into the mix, vying for primacy, decaying into feedback, clipping and calling out until the two collide and fuse, pealing away into the distance like a lone car driving off after last call.

As I listened to Plain Songs—driving to work at 5:30 A.M., drunk on the movement within each song, captivated by the flow from one track to the next—I wondered how to categorize Lowman’s music. Was music created to be cordoned off into shelf-ready categories, or should it simply be… simply envelop you where you stand, drink, walk, cook a meal, jog, read, socialize, rest, or drive? Plain Songs accomplishes the latter without disintegrating into white noise.

If Plain Songs is just the beginning for W.W. Lowman, we are all in for a treat. The E.P. is solid across the board, and definitely worth picking up, though I’m most looking forward to a full-length from him. Bank on it: a W.W. Lowman full-length will be worth every penny.

-Tim Avery

the_kitchen_sinks@yahoo.com

Andeline Keeps Emo Fans Guessing

Andeline Keeps Emo Fans Guessing

Emo. A genre for depressing, overly emotional kids obsessed with love, death, and any combination of the two, right?

Not to hear Andeline tell the story.

“We discovered our favorite pastime on our recent tour. We tie a gallon of milk to yarn, then toss the gallon of milk out the window,” guitarist Ryan Ainsworth says with a devilish grin. “It’s hilarious to watch the thin film of milk going down the highway. We’ve done the same thing with entire six-packs of coke- and caught it all on tape.” The rest of the band explodes into laughter and the conversation moves quickly on. Not a very depressing bunch of guys, these 5 men of Andeline. But Andeline’s story deviates even more from the emo pattern.

“We really don’t have songs about love or girls very much,” drummer Jason McManus says. “The songs are a lot about social issues that we feel strongly about, like corporate greed, and questions of faith and religion.”

If you’re not paying attention to Andeline by now, you need to get with the program. Formed a little over a year ago, Andeline is making a mark on the emo world not only with fun-loving antics and lyrical social commentary, but with a completely DIY work ethic, diverse musical ideas, and down-to-earth personalities. In short, everything that your average emo band is, Andeline isn’t.

Take Andeline’s strictly do-it-yourself stance to music. The tasks of website creation, merch creation, show booking, album designing and even album recording are all done by the members of Andeline in some way, shape or form. The most impressive of these is the fact that their recently released debut EP Transponder Down was completely self-recorded- if one didn’t know it, the quality of the recording could easily convince the listener that the album is the product of a professional studio. From barn-burning opener “We Are Not Pretending” to the tragic hollowness of “Amongst Thieves and Widows” to the mood-shifting closer “We’re Running from Sunset”, the guitars are crisp, the drums are intense, and the vocals burn with an enviable clarity. There’s not a song on the album that doesn’t ooze passion, and with the absence of trend-following screaming, it’s all the easier to believe Andeline when they claim “The glory of self-destruction is all that we’ve known!”

The passion is easily noticeable, as Andeline is not afraid to switch genres within songs, to crescendo and decrescendo the mood, to speed up and slow down. “Marching to the Beat of a Broken Drum” starts off with a pensive guitar line and soft drum roll before switching to an all-out emo attack for the verses. As soon as the listener has adjusted to the emo verse, they switch to a straight-up rock chorus, then segue into a post-hardcore drum/guitar lick, only to end up in a mournful chorale with ghostly vocals and forlorn single-note guitar picking. Finally, they finish up with some more charging guitars- and all of that was only one song, and only 4:47.

The genres they incorporate into their music are a product of their diverse musical tastes- Andeline listens to “everything in the rock genre,” according to Ainsworth. After a pause, he adds, “We listen to music that isn’t quite normal.”

As if to punctuate that statement, bassist Blake Evans chimes in, “I listened to some Bob Marley before we came up- it was pretty cool.”

Amongst other names mentioned: Gatsby’s American Dream, Queensryche, Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Letter Kills (whom they played one of their most memorable shows in support of), Boys Night Out, as well as the overall genres of jazz and classical.

With all these influences bouncing around in their minds, it’s incredible that the band can even write a cohesive song, much less seven of them, in the span of just a year. It’s a testament to the strong musicianship that these men bring to the table. Another testament to their musicianship is the fact that they can actually pull off their songs live- not just in the studio. Their show is intense, as the stage presence of vocalist Zeb Gautreaux is infectious. Although the rest of the band is rather static, their musical presence makes up for their lack of movement, as the sounds captured on tape translate excellently to the stage.

This is especially true of their harder songs, like the post-hardcore epic “They Don’t Bleed”. The most intense song they play, it’s also one that they feel most strongly about.

“It’s about white-collar greed- capitalism run amuck. We’re especially involved in it because we have a great fear that America’s greed is eventually going to harm the world we live in,” McManus notes with a sudden serious turn. “It’s not like we’re totally out to make a difference, but we write about what we feel like.”

Ainsworth compliments his thoughts.

“I think the way that we write- with kind of vagueness- helps out with to have people be open with this stuff, so they know that we’re not preaching at them and whatnot. That’s definitely something I would not want to be a part of,” Ainsworth says.

But not all songs are about serious issues. “We’re Running from Sunset” is a purely fictional story about a coke dealer escaping across the country, running from the law. “The Moment” is about (gasp) a girl. But maybe not, counters Ainsworth: “That’s a lie- all our songs are about Quiktrip Taquitos.”

The band’s collective love for Quiktrip Taquitos actually surfaces more than once in the course of the interview- along with the references to community. Their guitar tech Justin Andrekes dropped in on the interview, and they also told me of both their merch guy and their curiously monikered videographer The Bishop.

“There’s probably 12 people in this band,” McManus claims.

“Actually, Andeline isn’t a band- it’s our own community,” inserts Ainsworth. “Yeah, we’re building a cult,” jokes vocalist Gautreaux.

No matter what they’re doing, the good humor of Andeline comes forth. Whether making fun of themselves (Guitarist Sammy Mitchell “falls over all the time”, Gautreaux’s main job in the band is to provide the ‘boyish good looks’), remembering people they’ve met (the cigar-toting guitarist of Rose Hill Drive, the woman with more facial hair than them), or recounting hilarious stories (The “green monster”, the fact that the band formed in a hot tub), Andeline is having a great time doing what they do.

After all, Ryan notes, “We’re all the same type of person- we’re like Siamese cousins separated at birth.”

Here’s to the good-humored emo kid.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

Apple of Discord-Revenge & Regret EP

appleofdiscordBand: Apple of Discord

Album: Revenge & Regret EP

Best element: Unique indie-flavored songs with a twist

Genre: Indie

Website: appleofdiscord.com

Label: Azteca Records (www.aztecarecords.com)

Band E-mail: appleofdisaster@aztecarecords.com

It is refreshing to hear a new indie band that is not afraid to rock. I must say, I really enjoy listening to Apple of Discord’s music. Apple of Discord is one of those bands that you can listen to with anyone: they appeal to the indie crowd, the grunge crowd, and the rock crowd. Yes, all of the sub-breeds of music lovers can appreciate Apple of Discord.

At first, the band comes off sounding a bit pretentious and underground-ish, but after listening to the entire album, you start to appreciate the new sound they are trying to produce. As with any thing new, there will always be some trial and error. The bass parts are good and heavy. The guitar parts are mellow, but then become a bit heavier mid-song. There is never a point during the album where I thought any one instrument was overdone. Personally, I think the drum parts could have been a little more technical, but they work in the songs as they are.

Sometimes when experimenting with a new sound, or idea, it is hard to give everything its own “original” characteristics. When I listened to Revenge & Regret, each song started out pretty much the same as the previous song. I’m sure that Apple of Discord’s next album will be just as original, but will have a better understanding of how to produce this new sound of rock music.

I feel that Apple of Discord is doing something special for indie music all over by incorporating different styles in their music. I think the new sound will soon catch on, as their music is catchy and different. All I have to say now is check them out.

-Zack Albrecht

Flathead245@aol.com

Century-Century

centuryBand Name: Century

Album Name: Century

Best Element: The brutality of the music

Genre: Metalcore

Website: www.faithandfailure.com

Label Name: N/A

Band E-mail: band@faithandfailure.com

*Note*: When I got this album Century was unsigned. Two days ago, on August 18,

2005, they were signed to Tribunal records, the launching pad for bands such as

Atreyu, From Autumn to Ashes, He is Legend and many others.

Some albums just can’t live up to expectations. You will never hear that about

Century’s self-titled EP. This six-song EP is a brutal trip through Carson Slovak’s mind. Slovak, Century’s founder and sole member in the creation of this project, created Century after leaving his former band Armsbendback (R.I.P, Trustkill). He really decided to step away from the sound he had created with Armsbendback, creating a completely new image for himself.

For those not familiar with Armsbendback, they were a melodic hardcore band who, sounded like 4 very talented guys who all wanted to play something different. Century sounds like the band that Slovak wanted to play in.

The album opens with the track “The Fate of Arbogast”, a track that really reminds me of Poison the Well’s You Come Before You (Atlantic Records). There are the truly brutal parts that are beautifully coupled with melodic lines and scream/chants that leave the lyrics just out of the reach of complete comprehension. The EP then moves on to the more brutal metal like “Decagram” and “Maneater”. With hints of spaz-core within the guitar parts and metal-like vocals these two songs are most likely my favorites on the album.

After the brutality of the first three songs, I went into track four, “Andy

Warhol”, expecting much of the same. What I found was that Slovak had covered a David Bowie song. This showed me the true diversity of Slovak’s musical

abilities. Not only did he play every instrument and do all the vocals on this

EP, but he also showed that he could play and perform a song that wasn’t metal. A lot of people will see this song as the one low point of the album- but I see it as a wonderful demonstration of the true ability and diversity of musical tastes that Slovak possesses.

The final two tracks of the album, “The Last Neighborhood in America” and

Ellipsis”, go back to the PTW-like vocal style and use a lot of dialog within them. I’ve always been a sucker for dialog within a song and to see it used to connect songs was the final piece to the puzzle of this EP. “The Last Neighborhood in America” leads the final charge with a good bit of dialog that fades directly into “Ellipsis”, a brutal and fitting end to this EP.

This band will go far. Slovak has assembled a cast of characters to fill in on their respective instruments for live shows and in the studio. He has truly created a

quality and exciting EP to listen to. It was only fitting to end this EP with an ‘…’.

-Scott Landis

redbassist66@comcast.net

Corporate Red-Did You Get the Memo?

-no art

Band Name: Corporate Red

Album Name: Did You Get the Memo?

Best Element: Does there have to be one?

Genre: Poppy punk rock

Website: www.corporatered.com

Label Name: Self-released

Band E-mail: N/A

The now-defunct band Corporate Red has taken an already over-popularized sound and beaten it into the ground. It is the same overused, mundane three-chord pop-punk with simplistic lyrics and poor production quality already overdone by every pop punk band who has come before them. They are the poor man’s Blink 182, perhaps deviating only slightly from the poppy sound by throwing in some screamy vocals, such as the breakdown in the song “Settle the Score”.

Their five song CD, Did You Get the Memo? sounds like the same song over and over again. If it weren’t for the pauses between the songs, it would be impossible to tell where each one starts and ends. They’ll occasionally try and mix things up a bit by throwing in a song that begins a little slower, such as “End of the Line”, but it, too, falls right back into that formulaic pop-punk sound that was tired a decade ago.

Speculation leads this reviewer to believe that their defunct status, as evidenced on the band’s website, is a result of their lack of ability to come up with something truly different and creative.

-Andrea Caruso

(starryblueskye24@aol.com)

Daniel G. Harmann-The Lake Effect

danielgharmannBand Name: Daniel G. Harmann

Album Name: The Lake Effect

Best Element: Ethereal, mesmerizing mood.

Genre: Mellow Indie-rock

Website: www.hellotower.com

Label Name: Post436 Records (www.post436records.com)

Band E-mail: allrockalert@yahoo.com

The album starts off earnestly enough. There are light, ethereal keyboards that lift the song off the ground and let it float in mid air for the listener to breathe in. Then you listen some more and its no use, you’re sucked in. It’s slow, mesmerizing, thoughtful, sad, and hopeful. It’s the voice of one man who is pained but in the midst of his anguish can feel brave enough to stand up against it. It’s a beautiful thing, really. In the cracks of the songs, Daniel’s fragile voice yelps and yearns for hope, love, and acceptance. At first, one might be reminded of Owen, but there is more rock and less folk in this offering. At some points, I even hear a little Third Eye Blind or anything that was being played on the radio in the mid 90’s. Again, it’s a beautiful thing.

Somewhere in the rainy streets of Seattle, Daniel wrote this album and would probably watch the weather go from rainy to sunny and back again. In the time of rain there was almost a hope that the sun would come out. When the sun was shining, there was always a threat of the sky to break open drench the city. This theme is highly apparent in The Lake Effect. Daniel knows that life can be hard and full of rainy days but he still believes in the sunshine. This theme is perhaps the underlying nature of our human existence. We are all doomed to suffer in one way another, but we go on before we have hope. It’s brilliantly fundamental.

-VicA

jsonmusic@hotmail.com

Denison Marrs-Self-Titled

denison-marrsBand Name: Denison Marrs

Album Name: Self-Titled

Best Element: Cohesive overall sound

Genre: Christian Indie Rock

Website: http://www.dennisonmarrs.net

Label Name: Floodgate Records (http://www.floodgaterecords.com)

Band E-mail: marrstians@aol.com

On this sophomore, self-titled CD, released in October 2004, Orlando legends Denison Marrs have evidenced their talent and experience in a very listenable fashion. While slightly edgier than their previous releases, their style remains tight, their sound is crisp and fresh, and they retain their former, more emotional style while incorporating a more modernized indie-rock quality.

No two tracks are the same on this CD. Different styles of music are integrated, ranging from alternative rock to the more emotional style popularized by Jimmy Eat World. The vocals are intense, smooth and evocative. On the instrumental side, the sound of each instrument just melds together. The combination of the smooth intensity of the vocals and the cohesive instrumentation creates a beautiful and ethereal quality that is pleasing to the ear.

In spite of the variances in sound, the CD does feel a bit stale at times. Perhaps a more up-tempo track thrown in the mix would keep the listener’s attention from waning. This is not to say that it’s hard to get from track one to track ten, because each one is quite listenable, but the CD as a whole is very even and mid-tempo and needs something to wake the listeners from their trance.

-Andrea Caruso

(starryblueskye24@aol.com)

Forever Changed-The Need to Feel Alive

foreverchangedBand: Forever Changed

Album: The Need to Feel Alive

Best element: Vocals

Genre: Christian nu-wave emo

Website: www.foreverchanged.net

Label: Floodgate Records (www.floodgaterecords.com)

Band e-mail: nick@demus3entertainment.com

This band has the potential to put out some amazing music. Sadly, this album does not show everything that the band can do musically: there is an intense focus on the vocals throughout the album, leaving the feeling that the guitars and bass are static supporting characters. While I listened to this album I got the feeling that Dan Cole (Vocals, Guitar, Keys) felt that projecting his specific idea of what each song means to him is more important than allowing the vocals and instruments to blend. I also get the feeling that all of the instrumental parts were written around pre-written lyrics, a style of song writing that leaves songs with holes.

As I said in the notes, Forever Changed is a Christian band and is proud of that fact. Every song represents some struggle that Christianity has solved or revelations that the religion has caused. I’m not going to comment on this fact, because it is not my place, but it is important for everyone to be aware that this isn’t a Christian band that can be listened to while ignoring the message of the songs like you can with Norma Jean or Dead Poetic (Solid State Records).

Forever Changed reminds me a lot of Matchbook Romance in their style. The songs all contain driving yet simple guitar parts with small holes at the transitions between parts. The songs all have similar structures, both vocally and instrumentally. The strongest song on the album is “Romance in Denial”.

This is one of those albums you hear and you forget about- it doesn’t contain that song that sticks out. It’s good but not great. I would expect them to be on Tooth and Nail Records very soon, as they are the band that Tooth and Nail is always looking for. FC has the ability to be great, but they just need to branch out.

-Scott Landis

redbassist66@comcast.net

Minutes Too Far-Let It Roll EP

minutestoofarBand Name: Minutes Too Far

Album Name: Let It RollEP

Best Element: Songwriting Maturity

Genre: Power-pop/pop-punk mix

Website: www.minutestoofar.com

Label Name: Medic Records (www.medicrecords.com)

Band E-mail: loper@minutestoofar.com

Minutes too far’s new EP Let It Roll is the sound of a pop-punk band becoming a power-pop band. This, naturally, is going to devolve into a discussion of pop-punk vs. power-pop, so I’m going to get it out of the way early.

Pop-punk is fast, upbeat, major-keyed, simplistic, 3 to 4 chord songs that revel in romance, teenagerdom, and the fact that it’s cool to play music. Power-pop is fast or slow music that’s distinguished by thoughtful, complex songwriting, more mature song topics, and instrumentation that deviates from the confines of pop-punk drumming, conformist strum patterns, and simple bass lines. It’s the difference between Dookie by Green Day and Welcome Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne. Pop-punk is elementary school- power-pop is college. Where Minutes Too Far is right now is High School.

Minutes Too Far used to be a straight pop-punk band, but with the songwriting they employ on Let It Roll, they’ve made it clear that they’re looking past the simplicity of the past and setting their sights on real songwriting. Sure, there’s the occasional punk verse or chorus, but this EP is much more dominated by touches like the dirty guitar solo on “Gimme a Reason”, the sudden mood shift in “Seems Like”, the inclusion of “….probably not”, which is a moody, non-song connecting track between “Gimme a Reason” and “Seems Like”. The undeniable proof of maturity is the mid-tempo, keys-heavy closer “So Far Away”- while not exactly Relient K in scope, it’s a large shift away from straight pop-punk. The vocals throughout go more for resonance and tone than speed and jokey tricks- especially evident on “So Far Away”. If “So Far Away” feels a little bit like a radio ballad, that’s cause it ends up being just that- but it’s a sure sign of improvement.

That’s not to say they don’t bring the rock any more- “Something You Really Oughta Know” is the bridge between punk and pop. You’ll want to dance, but you’ll be caught off guard in sections- wondering “Where did that cool thing come from?” And that’s the way good music should be- pleasing, but not predictable. There’s a lot of good in Minutes Too Far’s future- and if you don’t like this release, I’d challenge you to get their next one. I’ll bet you it’s even more improved.

-Stephen Carradini

Independentclauses@hotmail.com

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