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Month: November 2006

Springhill-A Year from the Valley EP

springhillBand: Springhill

Album Name: A Year from the Valley EP

Best Element: Good vocal tone

Genre: Pop/folk


Label: n/a

Band E-mail:

Springhill is a lot of fun. They’re a pop/jam band in the vein of OAR, and while they’d be a lot of fun to roll the windows down to, there’s nothing that hasn’t been done before here.

That’s not to say that Springhill isn’t good at what they do- far from it. The vocalist has a fantastic tone that begs to be sung along to. The melodies which he writes are solid and thoroughly singable, and they’re accompanied by a pretty solid band. The bassist is pretty perky and interactive, contributing interesting parts to “Skipping Stars” and providing a very solid background to the rest of the tunes. The rest of the band falls into place behind or in front of the bassist- not bad at all, but not anything special.

The best track is “Just to Find You”, which couples an interesting rhythm pattern in the verses and a “more hooks than a tackle box” vocal line. “Cherry Red” is another candidate for the honor thanks to the tried-and-true songwriting, although its predictability also knocks it down a few notches.

Overall, this is a really fun release for driving around to, but it’s not one that demands repeated listens. I hope that they grow and ride their fabulous vocalist all the way to the big time.

-Stephen Carradini

The Alpine-On Feel Trips

thealpineBand: The Alpine

Album Name: On Feel Trips

Best Element: Consistently giddy singalongs

Genre: Power-pop


Label: Gun Records, Supersonic Records, Sony

Band E-mail:

The Alpine’s major label debut revels in the inherent giddy fun of power-pop. On Feel Trips is practically engineered to be sung along to, and whatever genre the band’s playing with on each individual track, they make sure to include at least one enormous hook. Fueling this drive is the interaction between the boy/girl vocals of Peter Boesen and Ida Strand.

Three songs in particular (“Mondays Always Look The Same”, “No I In Team” which appropriately name checks Supertramp and album-closer “Adrian”) are full-out, cast-of-hundreds, singalong anthems, the kind of which most modern music is sorely missing. In between are a number of surprises. While the band’s sound alternates between influences of glam, synth-pop and seventies AOR rock, it also manages to be rather fluid. Take “Crazy Glue,” for instance: an odd almost-country ballad that morphs suddenly into what sounds like a Broadway show tune. It’s a far cry from the disco funk of “Sham On” or the Kasabian-meets-Anastacia rock of “High Underground,” yet it completely works because it’s irresistibly catchy. Same deal for “Iceland” and “Trigger,” both of which wear their eighties influence on their sleeves.

On Feel Trips may not be incredibly deep lyrically, but who says that all music has to be? It would be easy to write the Alpine off as a guilty pleasure, a choice label for bands who make it their mission to write unabashed pop music, but the album’s too good, too consistent to be dismissed. A-

Key Tracks: Mondays Always Look The Same, No I In Team, Trigger

-Nick James

The Heathens-Big White House

theheathensBand: The Heathens
Album: Big White House
Best Element: Stretching boundaries
Genre: Alt-Country

Label: Post records


If there is one genre of music that people seem to be the most adverse to, it has to be country. For some reason everyone seems to have a qualm about listening to plucking banjos, crazy fiddles, and that general country sound. I admit that even I have trouble listening to it. Maybe it’s the subject matter associated with the stereotypical country song. Somehow I don’t think that singing about sitting in a truck drinking a six-pack with a dog because feelings were hurt by a loose woman sits well with the majority of the population. Whatever the reason is, country music artists have a need for original material that makes a song keep its country flavor without sounding so….country. In this sense, The Heathens definitely don’t disappoint.

Big White House, The Heathens’ debut album, is surprisingly good for a southern-influenced album. This isn’t to say that alt-country bands haven’t proven to be good in the past. Bands like My Morning Jacket and more prominently Wilco have incorporated southern sounds with modern ideas. By putting a more modern twist on classic southern sound, they give themselves a wider range of listeners. This is exactly what The Heathens were aiming at. Their first single, “Stickin Around,” is the most beautiful of all fifteen tracks, as the violin line is spectacular. After hearing “Lay Me Down” and “Sucker or a Lover,” you might be a little surprised. The beer, trucks, and dogs might have gotten left out, but sexual promiscuity definitely didn’t. It’s not too bad, and it can be forgiven because “Sucker or a Lover” does have a nice trumpet line. As some might notice, this fifteen song album is noticeably divided into two portions. “Family Valiums” marks the turning point from a more classical southern sound to more modern sound. “Sex in Silent Films” turns to a harder sound and is one of the best tracks. The intro and the guitar solos sound like something from The Black Keys, a commendable comparison.

Call me crazy, but I think The Heathens’ album is a little on the long side. Other than that I have no problems with this alt-country work. No nausea, no vomiting. Big White House has a little something for everyone: a little blues, a little rock, and a lot of country. It is albums like this that contribute to the changing face of traditional genres and stretch comfort zones for everyone’s benefit.

-Mark Pranger

This Holiday Life-Friction

thisholidaylifeBand Name: This Holiday Life

Album: Friction

Best Element: Poetic lyrics, intricate melodies, vocal harmony

Genre: Melodic Rock


Label: Dare to Dream Records

Band Email:

Within the thousands of bands across the United States, there are few who really know what they are and what sound they are going for. This Holiday Life is resoundingly one of those few.

Friction, the southern California rock band’s second release, defines This Holiday Life as a band of message, substance, and melody. From Scott Anderson’s captivating vocals and lyrical poetry to Joseph Freeman’s melodious guitar work and Bobby Anderson’s subtle bass, all tied in by Mark Nagel’s rhythm, Friction is fourteen tracks of fulfilling bliss.

The album bounces into rhythm with the catchy “Don’t Stand Up.” The memorable lyrics, excellent vocal harmony, and atmospheric/peaceful guitars set the mood not only in “Don’t Stand Up,” but also the rest of the CD.

Vocal harmony and bass melodies carry the album to “Digital.” Singing about long nights and low lights, Anderson takes the listener away. The pure melody of songs like “Digital” on this album are natural captivators and hold the listener hostage from the first note to the last chord.

“Motions” paints the picture of a night on the sea, swaying to the rhythm of the ocean through its lyrics, while other notable tracks on the album are “Lost Without Love” and “Aeroplanes.” However, each track literally entails a journey in and of itself.

If there was anything to criticize about Friction, it is the fact that many of the songs contain the same formulaic structure in terms of sound. Every song has strong emphasis on vocal melodies, both lead and harmonic, with the guitars, bass, and sometimes a piano all exchanging musical melody in the background. In this respect, listening to the album from the first song to the last song can become tiresome depending on the listener’s mood.

Individually, however, each song comes off as powerful and enticing. Anderson’s vocals are unflawed, Freeman’s beautifully crafted leads run over each rhythmic chord, B. Anderson fills the void with melodic bass lines, and Nagel holds the melody together with gentle beats, dramatic builds, and timely fills.

This Holiday Life knows who they are and what they are doing. If you’re a fan of Switchfoot, indie rock, or feeling peace in an unstable world, pick up Friction as soon as you can. It’s the nirvana you’ve been seeking.

-Erik Williams

Weird, Weirder, Weirdest

Weird, Weirder, Weirdest
Not a very funny month of Weird, Weirder, Weirdest, but still a unique one.
Those thousands of unsigned musicians struggling against a brutal tide to get themselves heard in this incredibly challenging industry need despair no more: has arrived to provide much-needed support.
This website is devoted to marketing and promoting Indie music through free and discounted services and offers, and a new interactive community for both bands and their fans that includes blogs, forums, educational and promotional opportunities.
Online music communities: not weird. Online music communities that offer to make you a card-carrying member of their organization: a little weird. I’ll be first in line for a credit card with Sonic Youth on it, though….

New signing You Say Party! We Say Die! is currently gracing the cover of Exclaim! Magazine ( in Western Canada this month, congrats to them and whoo-who! They will be out on Exclaim! Tour supporting “Lose All Time,” the band’s spectacular sophomore album…
I’m not sure that death threats are the best way to engender fan loyalty. I could be wrong, though. Coming next month: “You say read! We say defenestration! (formerly known as Independent Clauses).”
Click here to sign the Save the Internet Radio Petition:
As you may be aware the US Copyright Office Copyright Review Board announced a decision late last week that released a ruling on performance royalty fees that are based exclusively on the number of people tuned into an Internet radio station with no consideration given to what, if any, revenue is generated by the broadcaster. This decision has the very real potential to force the closure of a wide realm of online webcasting sources that have significantly impacted the growth and development of independent roots music across all genres. To lose this avenue of promotion and support for roots based music could be potentially devastating with respect not only to its financial impact on the industry, but to its cultural survival.
While not very funny, this is the weirdest thing that came across the bar this month. This isn’t just “weirdest” – this is real, this is creepy, and this is not cool. Sign the petition and do your part to save internet radio.