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Category: Review

The Walk Home

The Walk Home is actually one man, Adam Pepitone. He plays an acoustic guitar and has named himself, but that’s where the comparisons to Chris Carrabba (aka Dashboard Confessional) end. TWH is a living testament that you can play an acoustic guitar and not sound like DC…and that you can do it well!

After a simple count-off, “Every Step to Evade” opens up as a mid-tempo rocker. The vocals here are very smooth and listenable. The background vocals are good, and the chorus is veritably anthemic. Also incorporated are a bass solo and a synthesizer. Despite being a five minute song, it never gets boring. A short ballad named “Making Sure You’re Fine” comes next. The vocal arrangement is delicate, but still conveys a sense of sadness and loss. An upbeat acoustic rocker (Stronger than Stars) comes next. It’s one of the few moments on this CD that he sounds reminescent of Dashboard Confessional, until he breaks away by using an extra electric guitar sporadically throughout the song.  It’s highly enjoyable. Some deft fingerpicking sets up “Best of Friends”. The vocals here are a bit more raw, and they feel differently than the rest. It’s an ok song, but it feels a bit out of place until the bridge and last chorus. The longest song on the album (Take In Every Detail) starts off with some slower playing and an epic feel in the vocals. A piano is introduced on this track, accentuating the mood. The only bad part about this is the outro vocals, which feels simplistic and unfitting to the rest of the song. The lyrics here are fantastic, especially on “Best of Friends” and “Every Step to Evade”.

This is a great acoustic emo/rock cd. It has it’s low points, but they are outweighed by the numerous high points. There’s not much to say about this….cause it’s self explanatory or I’ve already said it. You’ll like this if you like Dashboard Confessional, but also if you like mellow rock.  7 out of 10.

Glori-H – S/t

Read: www.mp3.com/glorih
Listen: www.mp3.com/glorih
Buy: www.cdbaby.com/glorih

I have the worst luck with bands….I always find the best ones after they break up. Glori-H is gone, but the music is not, thankfully…

“September Waltz” slams out of the starting gate with fuzzy, distorted riffs and dark rock slam. It never falls into any other genre, it’s just dark rock.  The vocals are rough, low, and powerful. They drive with a passion and emotion unmatched by any independent band I’ve heard. “Dissatisfied” sounds like the Counting Crows with dark rock flair inserted. It’s an extremely interesting track, as the vocals switch to a much more melodic, soft, and moving tone. Dark but clean strumming opens “Still Shaken”. Another darker piece, it churns with emotion. The lyrics here are amazing.  A return to dark rock and the graveling, reverbed, inviting vocals shows up in “Turn it On”. The chorus is amazing, with a great progression, nearly screamed vocals, and haunting words: “Soon….she’s all I have….when she turns it on again….you’re going to sacrifice.”

“Rhythm and Friction” is the best of both worlds, smacking of acoustic melodic creativity and the dark rock power that they possess. A pointed use of silence occurs for the second time on this album. “Goldenone” has an upbeat, Lifehouse feel to it, but overall dark feel of the album is maintained. A return to the style of “Dissatisfied” greets us on “Wire Frame”. It has a hollow feel that can be felt by the listener….not to be listened to by happy people.

“Refrain” is the best song on the album. It  starts out with only acoustic guitar and a nearly silent vocal line, then blasts you in the face with the closest to a scream as he gets and wild guitar in the style of “September Waltz”. It’s shocking, amazing, and genius. The awesome solo sounds like a cross between an Audioslave solo and a normal solo.

“Chair”, a true acoustic song, feels overshadowed, and doesn’t continue the feel of the album at all. It’s a good song in itself, but it doesn’t fit too well in the overall theme.

Amazing. I could not find a single problem with this album. I even looked for them. Passion, fury, emotion, creativity…if only the acoustic song were a bit better, it would’ve been a perfect album. Amazing. Get a copy. Now. 9.5 out of 10

Star Sutra

Read: www.mp3.com/starsutra
Listen: www.mp3.com/starsutra
Buy: http://www.soundclick.com/store/ShoppingCartInfo.cfm?ID=4844

At first look, Star Sutra might seem like a heavy band (they have a nuclear explosion as cover art), but they really have a brooding, mellowesque rock style vaguely comparable to Coldplay on an electric trip with bits of jazz tossed in. It’s very unique.

‘Archaeopteryx’ opens us up with a smooth riff and a high, breathy vocal style. It makes the song feel very different. The drummer is very apparent in this song, which is good. A highly jazz influenced riff sets up “Morning Prayer”. The lead riff is good, but it is meant to be a vocals-driven song, and the vocal line isn’t good enough to completely carry it. When the band fills out completely, a faster, moodier feel comes to this, and it is much better.

A great two-guitar intro starts off the relatively basic ‘Skipping Records’, which features the best vocal line so far: haunting, enticing, and singable. This is a highlight.  “Honeymoon in Samsara” features a cool percussion effect and a happier (emphasis on -er) sound. The instruments are more straightforward than on the weaving, intersected “Morning Prayer”, but less than on “Skipping Records”, and it is in compromise that things work best.  ‘Dearest Pandora’ fingerpicks its way through most of the song and introduces the concept of slide guitar, producing a very empty, introspective feel. The vocals are some of the best on the album, continuing the mood perfectly, being uncharacteristically low. A wild breakdown is featured towards the end, before returning to the fingerpicking. It’s the best song on here.

An upbeat, catchy riff is accentuated by a counter riff to start off ‘Good Morning Afterglow’. It catches your ear like no other. A feel-good song with a twinge of sadness, this song could be on radio anywhere. This finale is undoubtedly the catchiest, and you will be repeating this one.

This whole CD feels like a story, with each song flowing into the next. In fact, if you repeat the CD, the last song feels like it flows into the first. It’s an amazing piece of art. It’s complex, it’s simple, it’s haunting, it’s beautiful, it’s sad, it’s happy, it’s downright moving. My only qualms are that the vocals on the first few tracks are raw and take away from the rest of the song. Solid 8 out of 10, and I’m sorry this band broke up.

Motion the Massacre — The Enigma of Human Suffering

Read: http://www.geocities.com/motionthemassacre/
Listen: www.mp3.com/motionthemassacre
Buy:  www.mp3.com/motionthemassacre

Motion the Massacre is (by their own accounts) an industrial act with world influences. It’s pretty much that, but one important note is the absence of vocals. They depend on instruments to say whatever they’re trying to say.

Motion the Massacre starts off “The Enigma of Human Suffering” with a piano/strings duet that’s pretty good. Not the most complicated or long thing ever, it’s a good opener.  A breakbeat and some odd droning instruments start “Feeding the Fear”. A heavily distorted guitar drives this slowly grinding track. With the same structure and instruments, this is boring by a minute and a half. “Shrine” features the same penchant for repetitiveness, which turns into monotony quickly. A good intro starts off “Ancestry”, a song that actually shows some interesting turns, but again, falls due to its own repetitiveness.

“From Within” finally features a thumping guitar like you know you wanted. It features some great breakbeats. A cymbal heavy, weighted piece called “Defacement” is also repetitive, but doesn’t get old as fast, making it the first enjoyable song.  “Silence” THANKFULLY reintroduces the piano/strings idea….finally. An empty sounding, would-be ballad (if there were vocals), it’s a definite high point.

“Art of the Masochist” has a definite melody, and it’s pretty good.  A seemingly machine gun sound pulls you into “Fetisha”, a better song than anything else so far, combining the strings and piano idea with the breakbeat/ethereal noise combo to make a much better song.  The title track, a beautiful piano/strings line, is last. When a keyboard pulses out a bassline, it’s even better, and when the two are placed together, it is best. The longest track, it deserves to be, because it’s the best one.

It feels like two bands here….a piano/strings band and an industrial, noisy band. The first would get a 6, the second a 2, because it’s just so repetitive. Together, they balance out a bit. Vocals would’ve helped the monotony a bit, because many repetitive bands have been saved by vocals. This just feels like combing a desert for jewels. 4.5 out of 10.

Fairmont EP

Fairmont is a highly prolific indie band out of NJ. They soon will boast 2 full lengths and 4 Eps…all in under two years. This a prerelease/EP for the newest full length. They feature lead acoustic guitar, backup clean electric guitar, bass and drums. It’s a very fresh sounding mix, as we see here…

“Sometimes I’m Bitter” efficiently displays their acoustic-led melodic indie rock style. The vocal style is indescribable, and on some songs it works, and others it doesn’t. This is one where it works. Female backup vocals are a great touch, as they really make the song what it is: a rocking, pop influenced, catchy song. Introducing a higher, raw, and less focused vocal style is “True Love Waits”. This is one of the tracks where the vocals don’t work. The breakdown introduces a melodic percussion instrument, and shines as the best feature of this song. They twist the cliché very well. “Knock Me Out” features the acoustic sound most out of all these songs. All around, this is the best sounding song on the album, as the breakdown is satisfying, and the electric guitar work throughout is impressive. The vocals here are fantastic, and the backup vocals accompany perfectly. Every good emo band needs one, and “The Last Time…” is Fairmont’s classic breakup song. Midway through, it features a short but cool electric solo before lapsing into the lead riff, an electric melody with an acoustic fingerpicking. The vocals are medium here…not bad, but not great either. The lyrics have a nice tribute to SemiSonic in them, probably accidental, but I noticed it.

Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable CD. Everything was great except the vocals. They were good, but they didn’t work in some places, which lowered the overall experience. Still, a spectacular indie rock CD. 7.5 out of 10.

Fairmont — Anomie

Best feature: Diversity, beauty, and originality all rolled into one.
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Reinforcement Records
Website: www.fairmontmusic.com

Fairmont is one ambitious indie rock band. They sport electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, and no bassist. Just to add to the challenge, their genre of choice is a highly stylized brand of indie rock, ala Elliot Smith and Joseph Arthur. With the odds stacked against them, it seems that Fairmont has given themselves an ultimatum: become indie rock gods along with Smith and Arthur, or fade off into oblivion.

I can, in good confidence, vouch for the former.

Anomie is basically divided into two sections: the first half a dose of high-strung rock, the second a brilliant session of low-key mellow songs. The first half of the album is solid, with their interesting, quirky rock taking the spotlight. The second half is where they really shine, as their mellow picking, tempo jumping, and strong command of melody and countermelody come to the focus.

Their rock is complex in various ways, from odd chord progressions to multiple vocal tracks to weaving guitar lines. It sounds cluttered, but they do a good job of pushing the most important elements to the front without diminishing the power of the backing elements. This makes it focused and extremely aurally pleasing.

The vocals here are another distinguishing feature. Equal parts pinched yelp, nasal whine, over-the-top vibrato, and slurry notes, it is the definition of unique. It takes a couple listens to get used to, but in the end, the vocals are irresistible. They are most unique when he’s convicted about what he’s singing, such as in “Sometimes I’m Bitter” or the emotionally charged “Burn the Churches”.

When he accompanies more mellow fare, his voice is lower and more pop-friendly, which makes for some truly beautiful songs (“Knock Me Out”, “2:37 a.m.”). In fact, “2:37 a.m.” is one of the most heart-wrenching songs I’ve heard in a long time, as the hopeless lyrics, the forlorn vocal delivery, and delicate arrangement work together in an eerie way.

There are many moments like that on this album, moments where you just stare in awe at nothing cause the sound is just so perfect. “The Last Time” has a stellar ending, “Artemis” has a riveting chorus, “Saved Me” has an excellent intro, the entire 48 seconds of “Hello Kitty” are fantastic, and the list of moments goes on and on.

This is an album that should be everywhere. It should be in every indie-rock fanatic’s player, and burned to every computer. This is an album that will have your head spinning. The members of Fairmont are on their way to becoming indie rock gods in the eyes of the public. I know they’re already immortalized in my mind.

Stereo Underground — S/t EP

Read: http://www.songramp.com/homepage.ez?Who=StereoUnderground
Listen: www.mp3.com/stereounderground
Buy: www.mp3.com/stereounderground

Stereo Underground’s self-titled EP starts off positively punky on “Don’t Take It So Hard”. By the introduction of a second guitar and percussion give it a classic rock feel. The full song is a fresh sounding mix of both. The vocals are a mid-range, not high, but not low either.

A good drum riff, some electronic sounds, and vocals with effects create an ethereal, spacey feel for “Autumn”. A midtempo song, the classic rock vibes can be felt here as well, but not as strong. “So in Lonely” showcases the same classic rock style as the first song, but with smoother vocals, instrumentation, and production. Pop sensibilities are evident, as this song has great ‘yeah yeah’ background vocals and a catchy chorus. It also features an interesting instrument that sounds like a distorted harmonica.

“I Won’t Cry” slows things down by featuring an acoustic guitar. The verses are repetitive, but the chorus is great, filled out with second guitar and background vocals.

The lyrics on the album are nothing special, drifting between cryptic emo-style writings (Autumn) and more down to earth writings (Don’t Take It So Hard), but they touch on topics we’ve all heard before. Also, some songs were repetitive, but those are my only qualms with this. A great collection of songs, combining classic rock, space rock, and emo to create something cooler. 7 out of 10.

Carrie Went Crazy

Carrie Went Crazy…. Is a long and rather odd name for a band. While they may not be long, they are rather odd….wonder what I mean?

Well, it starts off simple enough. “Punk Song” is astutely titled….it starts off on a “we’ve-heard-it-all- before” punk riff. The vocals are really low…it’s quite uncommon in punk, so it’s a bit shocking, and takes getting used to. The chorus is a chain of vocal noises (impossible to explain) which are SO fun to mimic. The rest of the song is pretty cut and paste, but the vocal noises rule. The second half of the solo is creative and cool.

The title song of the demo and band comes next, and so does a COMPLETE change in styles. They move off to a reggae influenced dreamo pop. It works so much better than their previous style. The vocals here fit easily with the confusing lyrics, which I assume about the movie Carrie, but I’m not sure. By the end, the aforementioned vocals are repetitive.

‘Tea Party’ puts up a little faster, more upbeat take on the style. The guitar work, while dreamy, is less legato and feels more accessible. The vocals fit oddly….bordering on misplaced, making it the worst track vocally. The breakdown (if you can call it that) is great, with the bassist taking off and speeding up the song. The final song is “Here I Am”, the most heavily reggae influenced track. The song features some seriously punk lyrics about not fitting into society. Sadly, the vocals start to feel monotonous by the third song. The guitar style is a combination of the 2nd and 3rd songs, legato but separated as well. The guitar solos here are very good, subdued to fit into the song but still shining in their own right. The drummer also shows some major chops here.

On the whole, they excel at their dreamo-pop song styles. Their punk song is hilarious (if lacking musically), and their guitar playing is exceptional. Unfortunately, their vocals are spastic, good here, but not there, etc, etc. They could definitely improve. A good debut, I will be looking for more and better things by them. 6.5 out of 10.

Estrela

Read: www.mp3.com/estrela
Listen: www.mp3.com/estrela
Buy: N/A (full album available at above address)

I feel like being blunt. Estrela is a band of many vocal styles. They have breathy, nearly whispered vocals, which are good for the most part, normal singing, which is grainy, nasal and bad, and screaming, which is pretty good. To open their demo, Estrela uses a dreamy, flowing playing style on “Blurred”. Fast vocals are breathed over the mid-tempo instruments until late in the song, when the other two vocal styles appear. This is easily the best song on the demo. A hooky, bright intro leads us into the harder song “Passive”, which features a good bass line and great solo. The vocals are terrible, probably the worst on the album here. “Rivers of When” starts out with a metal styled riff and screaming, but falls back into singing after a couple seconds. It showcases the guitar style of the first song, but with a harder edge. The background vocals have some promise here. Ending the demo is a song appropriately titled “Closure”. With a great guitar riff, and the best sung vocals on the album, this is a highlight. The bridge is really good as well, with guitar, bass, and drums showing off their chops.

Estrela as an instrumental band would rule. The guitar playing here is inventive and interesting, the bass lines are complicated, and the drums do a great job of complimenting both. On the downside, the vocals need some serious refining, but there is hope for them. Try again next time, as a pop bottle cap would say. 6 out of 10.

Standing On Zero

“Sending Signals” kicks off this CD. The song’s instrumentation creates a stomping, unfaltering drive of a mood. The high, mournful vocals contribute to the general mood of hopelessness by trying to soar above it, but not quite making it. The solo is simply amazing. “Impression is a Target” isn’t as hard as “Sending Signals”, and features a piano in the mix. The vocals, lower but still mournful and haunting, drive this very subdued track. The piano driven breakdown is one of the best moments on the CD. The depressing mood is broken a bit with “Hit The Sky”, a seemingly up-tempo rocker, until the vocals come in. Two well-harmonizing vocalists completely change the mood back to depression. The lyrics evoke this as well: “Hey…It’s alright. It’s ok. I’m going nowhere. Maybe I lied, maybe I’ll hit the sky…”. “Anomie” opens up with an acoustic melody, and all the vocal tricks have been removed for a softer feel, complete with ‘la la’ part. It’s well crafted, adding layers upon layers until the final climax. The hard-hitting depresso-rock of “Sending Signals” is back on “Killing Air”. It’s a catchy, powerful, and passionate song, unequaled by any other on the CD. The second chorus of this song is my favorite section of this song and CD. “Lately Satellite” is an actually uptempo, happy sounding song! On this stripped down guitar and voice ballad, they hook you by repeating the few lyrics to get you singing along. The vocals do well, but comparatively, it is the weakest track vocally.

Overall, this CD is amazingly constructed, using multiple styles of vocals, incorporating piano multiple times, and holding a tough musical mood (depression) throughout without falling into sameness. Even thought they feature vocals quite often, they never compromise their rock roots. The only problem is that when you put the focus on something, people will scrutinize it more. The vocals take some getting used to, and they are a bit off in the last song. Overall, a debut that doesn’t sound like a debut, but a CD from seasoned veterans. 8 out of 10.