(http://www.theboroughs.net) The Boroughs – Self-titled
Brand new old-school punk.
The power trio out of Astoria, NY, that makes up The Boroughs shows off their diplomas from The Ramones’ Rock’n’Roll High School with their self-titled release.
From the classic punk rock hooks of “Hangin’ Out” to the more modern feel of tracks like “M.R.I” and the folk balladry of “Spine,” the band oozes with the essence of old school punk bands like The Ramones and The Stooges while bringing their own distinct sound to the mix, creating a wonderful mix of old and new. The mix of influences that comes out in the album could lead one to say that the band has musical ADD, yet somehow it feels like one cohesive whole. The Boroughs explode out of the starting gate at the beginning of the album and bring it down to a reserved lethargy with the folk ballads “Spine,” “Pussin’ Out” and “Say What You Want” that cut a drastically different sound than the rest of the album. For a punk album, The Boroughs’ self-titled album is unusually emotional and not in a bad way.
Credit must be given to the exceptional abilities of guitarist/vocalist Ryan Dwork, who has managed to fill every song on the album with catchy hooks, both in the instrumentation and vocally. His guitar work and vocals are equally impressive as his songwriting. It’s not to say that bassist Justin Farrell or drummer Grady Feldgus don’t hold their own, but Dwork is definitely the star of the show. This album simply grabs hold of you and refuses to let you go.
Definitely check out the tracks “Hangin’ Out,” “She’s Gotta Go,” “M.R.I,” “On My Own,” and “Spine,” if you can. The album is available on CDBaby.com and I highly recommend checking it out because this band has enormous potential, without a doubt.
– Nate Williams
Jerusalem – Self-titled
Impressive solo rock project full of many demonstrations of ability.
Jerusalem’s self-titled album is one of the more refreshing albums to come out in a while. The band is one 20-year-old, Michael S. Judge, who has done everything to produce the album in a matter of nine days and $0. This quick turnaround is probably one of the more impressive musical feats on an album full of them. All of the songs sound pretty hi-fi and well produced, and all of the parts can be heard very clearly. While usually not that unusual for an album, for a single 20-year-old this is unbelievable.
Many of the songs have arrangements that really show Michael Judge’s chops on all of his instruments. While this format means a heck of a lot of soloing and could put off those who don’t see solos as their cup of tea, the way it is all done is pretty tasteful. All of the songs are originals except for the cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” which is arranged nicely. “Sea Creatures” is by far the best original track, in which the guitar and keyboards weave in and out of each other, creating a flowing melody before the singing begins.
The only complaints that can be given are that sometimes Judge’s voice can sound a little bit forced, and occasionally the songs eschew the perfect length and become long-winded. But all of the nitpicking aside, this album is an incredible achievement and shows good-old rock musicianship and songwriting.
Band Name: Denison Marrs
Album Name: Self-Titled
Best Element: Cohesive overall sound
Genre: Christian Indie Rock
Label Name: Floodgate Records (http://www.floodgaterecords.com)
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Band Name: Shake Some Action
Album Title: Self-Titled
Best Element: Songwriting skills
Label Name: Satellite 451 Records
Band Email: email@example.com
Although recently dubbed as the worst town ever for American Idol tryouts, Seattle still has a claim to fame when it comes to the evolution of music. Not only did Seattle drive the nail home in arena rock’s coffin, but it was also home to the grunge movement that swung the hammer. Now, however, from the ashes of the self-destructive grunge lifestyle comes Shake Some Action, the brain-child of the musically gifted James Hall.
Hall knows what he can do and how to do it well. That much is obvious after one listen through of his band’s self-titled album. Featuring twelve tracks of music completely composed by Hall (though several of his live musicians contribute to tracks on the disk), Shake Some Action is a fun, light, pop-filled album built specifically to generate positive vibes.
“Sound of Your Mind” dictates the rest of the CD with its happy-go-lucky, Beatle-esque feel. Vocal harmony, tight rhythms, and well communicated emotion are all themes that repeat through the album. “Complicated” stirs up 80’s pop with a tinge of the Beach Boys as Hall belts out a simple, yet beautifully crafted mix of easy-going vocals and a high melodic lead guitar. Hall’s vocals turn husky as he drops a tear of romance on his listeners in the mellower “Orange Peel.” Ever mixing it up, Hall lets a tint of blues seep into the pot via “Damaged,” a heavier toe-tapping rocker complete with scaling vocal harmonies and a guitar solo.
A loud crash signals the start of the hip beat that comprises the backbone of “Without You,” one of the best tunes Hall offers. The songwriter’s instrumental control shines in “You’ve Got it Made” when he drops out the high vocals to allow for an epic instrumental middle that brings to mind images of driving down an endless road in a state of pure bliss.
The last tune on the disk kicks off with a shout of “1,2,3,4!” Hall and co. then rock out for the next two and half minutes, including a tinge of early 90s alternative, a blazing guitar solo and the ever-solid vocal harmonies in each singalong chorus.
As stated before, Hall knows who he is and what he is capable of. It’s no surprise that with that in mind, he also knows how to write twelve songs incapable of flaw. If there is anything wrong with this CD, it may be that it’s too happy.
Easy-going vocals, chill instrumentals, and an overall feeling of peace make this album a must-own. Regardless of what style of music you like, this album will put you in nirvana. Hall’s own words in his last song say, “It’s what you want me to do.” Well, taking the words from his mouth, buy this album. It’s what I want YOU to do.
Album Name: Self-titled
Best Element: Unique vocals
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When the first lyrics of School’s opener “Red Lights and Blue Eyes” cue up, it couldn’t be more perfect: “And now you see, there are no other men like me.” It’s definitely a truism, because although School plays indie-pop with dance rock inflections like many in today’s scene, they throw in a major twist: Matthew Teardrop’s vocals.
To say that Matthew Teardrop’s vocals are reminiscent of those that characterized the eighties new-wave movement (warbly, faux-operatic baritones with a lot of vibrato) would be like saying that Alpha Centauri is vaguely reminiscent of the sun. It’s not that they’re close to each other- it’s that they’re basically the same thing in different places.
After the initial shock of hearing what sounds like Robert Smith singing over a Death Cab song, I started to realize that this oddity actually wasn’t that bad- the pop sensibilities weren’t diminished any by the odd choice of vocals, and on slightly deranged, Joy Division-esque songs such as “Under the Radar”, the choice of darker vocals actually improves the quality of the song.
But if I attached all my attention to the vocals I’d be doing a disservice to this album. The songwriting and musicianship here is great- the guitarist and keyboardist work well together to create swirling, involving moods for the vocals to play around in. The drums are one low point of School’s sound- the beats are a little bit too simple. In abusing the closed high-hat sound, a lot of the drum work sounds the same, which is sad.
The repetition of the drum-lines and the growing annoyance that I feel against the vocal stylings work to make the best songs on this album all packed toward the front- the delicate, lyrically brilliant “Red Lights and Blue Eyes”, the pulsing “Man and Woman”, and the relentlessly catchy “School”. The darker “Under the Radar” does fall in the second half, but for the most part, the more enjoyable half is the first one.
School’s self-titled effort is an admirable one- they establish a sound and take some liberties within that sound. I’d like to hear them with some more exciting drumbeats and better production- I think they would be snapped up as the indie darlings they should be. Definitely an impressive album, and a great starting point for a band.