Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The National Rifle Aims at Creativity

October 16, 2009

What do Twilight and a band called The National Rifle have in common? Would you be even more confused if you found out the answer is 100 Monkeys?  Before you start getting frightened with the image of vampires, rifles, and a hoard of wild monkeys, you should know that 100 Monkeys is the band of Twilight star Jackson Rathbone.  The National Rifle is the up-and-coming band who opened up for them on their Twilight Lexicon Tour.  Undoubtedly, The National Rifle is grateful for the exposure to hundreds of vampire-obsessed tweens.  Fortunately for the band, their unique sound could probably stand alone even without the association of this pop culture phenomenon.

The inventive sounds of both The National Rifle and 100 Monkeys make it clear why the two bands would complement each other well for a tour.  It seems likely that the artsy, sometimes “emo” kids that dig vampires would enjoy the unusual conglomeration of instruments and melodies that make up The National Rifle’s signature sound.  Similar to bands like RX Bandits, this Philadelphia-based band combines punk rock with clever jazz and indie influences.

Man Full of Trouble is the National Rifle’s third release since 2006.  This 5-track EP, released in fall 2009, showcases an incredibly distinctive sound that grows stronger with each track.  The rough yet rhythmic vocals accentuated by the poppy female back-up tracks create a colorful experience for your senses.

The first track, “It’s Just Whiskey Momma,” seems to be the weakest on the EP.  It is by no means a bad song, but it does not fully represent the more mature sound in the songs that follow.  In many ways the first track gives a misleading garage punk feel, despite the fact that the other songs include more indie or jazz-influenced rock appeal.  The influence of so many genres on one EP is what separates this band from the hundred of others in the indie/punk world.

One of the most enjoyable aspects on Man Full of Trouble is the inclusion of both the sax and flute.  Perhaps the best songs are “I Think I Have a Tumor” and “Bad News from the District.”  There is a pleasant retro throwback feel to these tunes that would suit a big city club scene well.  “I Think I Have a Tumor” has a fantastic break down and sax solo that you would not normally expect from a “punk rock band.”

The lyrics are nothing short of blunt and seem to reflect the stereotype of life through a punk rock lens.  In the song “Big Units,” the lyrics state, “Everybody fights, then drinks at night/Gotta fall in love, to just get by/Give up again stay home in bed/ We’ll just get old, and that’s the end.”  This seems pretty fitting for the struggling life of many Americans today.

For an up-and-coming band that’s still not signed, it seems that The National Rifle is gaining the success and recognition that will lead to a successful future.  Word on the street is that they would love to be included on the soundtrack for third film in the Twilight Saga, Eclipse.   But then again, who wouldn’t ?

Bravo for Victor!

October 14, 2009

Victor Bravo upholds the myth that all you need to make rock is a couple guys, some instruments, and a garage.  Forget all of the computerized and technological enhancements of today’s commercially successful music.  With obvious influence from bands such as Nirvana and Hüsker Dü, Victor Bravo’s latest album, Hammer Meets Fire, doesn’t disappoint.

Since 2006, the Brooklyn-based band has been pleasing the ears of punk and garage rock fans alike.  The addictive, angst-filled tunes of Hammer Meets Fire fulfill everything that the New York club scene has become infamous for.  This album embodies the anthem of punk, obvious from various track title such as: “Scary Mary,” “God Bless the USA,” and “Motherfucker.”  The vintage vocals combined with quality musicianship make the band worthy of getting out of the garage and into your ears.  Favorite tunes include “Into Debt,” and the first single off the record, “Jagged Cross.”

The listener won’t be able to help but imagine a room full of sweaty bodies hurling themselves around in rhythm to the songs.  The simple yet hilariously angry lyrics will make you crack up or reversely, give you the urge to punch a hole in the wall. Either way, the record is a fun listen.

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

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