Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Seven's dance-rock fits in with the best of the genre

January 18, 2010

I’ve had a spate of number bands recently. I reviewed TiLT 360 the other day, I recently reviewed Black Heart Procession’s Six, and now I’ve got a double dose in reviewing The Fifth by Seven. I’m not really sure what causes people to name their band a number, but it seems to have no effect whatsoever on their music, as all of these bands are great at what they do.

Seven’s dark, danceable rock would have been lumped in with Killers, the Bravery and Interpol, had they erupted around the turn of the century. If Hot Fuss-era Killers had added a female singer and swung more toward the “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” side of than the “All These Things That I’ve Done” side, they would have become Seven.  The rattling high-hat, synths,  upbeat tempos and epic melodies are all there.

Vocalist Annette Gil has a low voice for a girl, and it fits the sound perfectly. Her voice draws power from the low, gritty guitars that comprise most of the backdrop of this album. It draws contrast and tension from the high synths that often juxtapose with the guitars. That give and take is what forms the basis of almost all Seven songs. And, from top to bottom, that’s a great thing.

From the stomping anthem “Dance Dance Dance” to the mid-tempo “Blackburn” to the punked-out “Sickleave,” Seven blazes through thirteen songs without ever letting the energy drop. There are guitar-driven tracks like rocker “Peace and Lovin,” so-much-synth-it-might-be-the-eighties tracks like “No Ambition” and even unexplainable tracks like “Elements,” which starts off like a spaghetti western and ends up being an oddball pop song.

This album is a must-hear for people who love synth-driven rock with a dance bent and anthemic tendencies. There’s a lot of that going around these days, but Seven’s carved out a niche and written songs that stick, even in a genre full of excellent songwriters. I

TiLT 360 does aggressive modern rock right

January 17, 2010

I hate Nickelback. But I don’t hate them because of their music. They have every right to be watered-down grunge or roughed-up pop (whichever you prefer). It’s that they legitimately think they are hardcore. It’s obvious to anyone who’s actually heard a rock band that Nickelback is not hardcore, but Nickelback takes themselves as seriously as Live, and they aren’t writing songs anywhere near as good as “Lightning Crashes” to back it up. The depressing thing is that millions of people buy it (literally and metaphorically). They, obviously, have never heard a real rock band, and especially not TiLT 360 or their album Day 11.

Annoying capitalization aside, TiLT 360 is everything that is good and right about modern rock. I’ve been reviewing a lot of modern rock recently (I swear I’m not going to the dark side), but this needs to be the last one so that I can go out on a high note. TiLT 360 plays heavy, dark rock and roll with great melodies, interesting rhythms, and varied vocals. There’s screaming, singing and growling on this album, and each is done with taste and talent. The guitars play in skull-crushing mode just as often as they do in a more pop-oriented mellow style (usually in verses). The drummer knows how to thrash without going overboard. Even the bassist contributes, intertwining his bass lines with the guitarwork in the quiet sections. It’ll never be confused for a Bush album (the band lets its metal roots shine through), but I would say it’s worthy to be considered in the same category as Chevelle and RED in  “good modern rock and roll.”

Highlights include the bass-heavy riff-metal of “Point Blank,” the thoroughly aggressive “It Grows,” and the moody tension of standout track “Last String.” The only real lowlight is a poor vocal performance on the title track and opener “Day 11.” If that’s dropped out of the mix, this ten-song album is a pretty stout modern rock offering. If you’re a fan of radio-style modern rock but want something a little heavier to go with it, you should definitely check out Day 11 by TiLT 360.

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

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