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Author: Emily Craner

Victorian Halls: Scream at Me and Never, Ever Stop.

There isn’t a moment to rest while listening to Victorian Halls’ sophomore EP, entitled, well, the Victorian Halls EP. At least that is what one might think while listening to the first track thrown at us like a dagger, called “Desperate Storyline.” It delights with plunking piano and the addicting squeal of lead singer Sean Lenart.

Things only get ten times better with the onslaught of “I’m Gonna Eat Your Brains and Gain Your Knowledge.” As if the title of the song alone isn’t enough to make one adore it, it explodes very angrily in the face of the listener. Immediately. The beauty of Victorian Halls is that the band is completely and utterly unique to me. They are their own sound. Sure, I find tiny little inspirations from random things I have heard over the timeline of my life in their music, but it’s a stabbing, pissed, passionate little genre of its own.

Victorian Halls is comparable only to a shark feeding frenzy taking place, but Victorian Halls EP seems to offer a bit more musicality than their last release. I love the piano. It’s upbeat. It’s forceful. A highlight on Victorian Halls EP is the sweet synth that enters in about minute two of “It’s Not Fad, It’s Etiquette.” They’d be wise to pepper in more synth on future tracks, I think.

“Neon Skies Light My Nerves Up” is a bit more rockin; the intro is heavy. This is what is so great about Victorian Halls! They are so innovative with each new song. Nothing is the same, yet it is so cohesive it’s like art. “Neon Skies” is an amazing dance track. I hear traces of synth, and drummer Mike Tomala hitting a speedy high hat on the upbeat, Lenart’s trademark screech—it makes for pure genius.

Even if the style of Victorian Halls isn’t what you’re used to—learn to love it. There is a lot to be discovered while listening to both Victorian Halls EP and their first album, Springteen. They’re unique and radical. A band like this, that truly does their own thing, is remarkable in the highest degree.

Prepare for Take-off with Bears in the Yukon

You May Die In The Desert started out as a guitar and bass duo from Seattle before morphing into what they are today—a three-piece instrumental group. Bears in the Yukon is a purely instrumental album, consisting of seven tracks. I automatically assume that boredom will ensue when it comes to purely instrumental albums, but this day I was in luck. You may Die In The Desert (YMDITD) has immense technical skill. One of the first bands I thought of in comparison was the technical, instrumental aspect of Between the Buried and Me.

The sound could be described as ambient, atmospheric, spacey; the type of music that would be playing if you were to suddenly take flight. Seriously–if I was so lucky as to have a spaceship come into my possession, this is what I would be pumping through the speakers. It’s the kind of music that inspires the listener to get off their butt and embark on some sort of creative enterprise of their own; I love that in music.

It’s refreshing that the sound of the guitar is played with and changed up—there isn’t just a barrage of distortion or acoustic, which is extremely important in an instrumental album. The tracks all are very cohesive, but I found “The Writer’s Audience is Always Fiction” to be the most enchanting. Amidst flashbacks to songs by Modest Mouse and The Postal Service, I found myself immensely enjoying this track. Its tempo is set by what sounds like a digital high hat drum beat—it stands out from the rest. There are definite elements of jazz infused throughout, not only in this song but in the entire album.

They obviously know what they are doing; the technicality of the layering of sounds, the implications of the drum beats, the airy reverb and delay of the guitars; it all makes for a very intelligent, mystic-feeling musical sojourn through the eardrums.

YMDITD possesses enough skill to keep the listener alert yet relaxed throughout their songs. They go to prove that words aren’t needed where music can suffice and thrive on its own.

Linda Lovelace for President, and Marc with a C as speech writer!

Marc with a C writes some amazing lyrics. All of the songs on this CD, with the exception of three written by Chris Zabriskie, were penned by the well-versed Marc Sirdoreus. Although the music left me feeling flat, the lyrics excited me. I would hungrily sit down to read any ranting by Sirdoreus or any book of poetry he may decide to write.

My problem with the music is it is so cliché. I’ve heard these chords before, on every grassy expanse of land on every college campus in the United States of America. The first thing I noticed was perhaps a David Bowie/Beatles/Bob Dylan/Something more recent influence in the music. It is your average acoustic guitar, sometimes accompanied by a little percussion here and there, but not often. The songs are poppy and light; however, they are enjoyable, no doubt. But something is just not there in the music and in his voice. It’s been done. There are slight variations from song to song, but not enough to make me gasp and say “WOW!” In order to really draw a listener in with this type of acoustic guitar, Sirdoreus’ voice needs more girth or something that would make it unique to balance out the averageness of each song.

But keep in mind that not all is lost with this album. “All My Drug Use Is Accidental” pleased me. It really drove home my feeling that this album is worth listening to purely for the lyrical value. “Born Vintage” was notable too, for its music as well as lyrics. A sampling of why I love the lyrics on this album: “You’re not right and we’re not wrong,” as well as “What’s the point of being punk if punk means I belong?” The song “Jessica, I Heard You Like The Who” forced me to fall in love with it. The lyrics are appealing because they touch on familiar subjects, and even thoughts I have had, which I thought no one would ever dare to think.

As is the case with almost every song on Linda Lovelace for President, the album itself starts out strong, and then seems to lose passion and inspiration by the end, musically. The harmonies present in a lot of the tracks are the same in every song; nice, but repetitive. The music is one-dimensional, but the feeling I get from listening to his words, the sense of his wit and the humor that comes across in the lyrics really stand out.

You know what, Marc with a C? Regardless of how I feel about the college campus guitar, I’m putting you on my iPod. Because I enjoyed what you have to say just enough to play Linda Lovelace for President next time I am road tripping to wherever.

A spazzy, delightful trip down Victorian Halls

Spastic. Screech. Lunacy. Lovely?

I decided the best way to kick off a review of Victorian Halls’ unique CD would be to write the first four descriptive words that popped into my head concerning the sounds of the first track, entitled “Pop, Pop, Pop.” Honestly, I cann ot think of a more fitting song title. Those four seem to cover it pretty well.

I initially picked this CD to listen to because it had the most fanciful art on the cover: blue buildings, pink smoke, a pill taking flight into the brown sky via its angel wings. The art translates to the music in the most delightful way possible. This is not another case of the listener being intrigued by the album art, and then miserably disappointed by the content of the CD – which i’m sure has happened to more music fans than just me. No, the music on the album Springteen is arousingly funky. It is perkier than a high school cheerleader on crack. Although the hyperactivity starts out strong on Springteen, it doesn’t fade. This is a cohesive album to the very end, but NEVER boring.

The second track, “Persecution of Bellissima Morte,” comes across as though it was written in anger. Singers Sean Lenart and Carlos Luna scream at the listener with utmost screechy passion. I use the term screechy in the most loving way possible, I might add. The vocals are jarring, constantly jabbing at your eardrums. But it is a strange kind of pain – the kind you want more of. Victorian Halls knows they aren’t a band your mother would love, as Lenart can be quoted as saying. But they are one you will love. I loved them, especially after they pleased my ears with the intricate, creepy, militant “Go! Razorbacks! Go!” “Greed” is a hidden jem, too, changing it up with fuller vocals. The last track gives you a peek into their acoustic sound. Amazing through and through.
To sum it up, Springteen is spazzy and mezmerizing. The drums are straightforward, the guitar is punky, the bass is speedy, and the piano strikes beautifully throughout the songs. This band is so worth a listen that I can’t stress it enough. I spend so much time wishing for something edgy, unique, and totally different than what I have ever heard before to come along. Victorian Halls totally fulfilled that wish.