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Independent Clauses Posts

Bleach Ain’t Cheap in Oklahoma

When: Aug. 18

Where: The Edge Building, Grace Fellowship Church, Tulsa, OK

Bleach always puts on a good show. That’s why I have no less than three Bleach shirts- they blow me away every time. This time was no exception. I missed the opener bands, and even the first one or two songs of Bleach’s set. Thankfully, that wasn’t a problem, as they played for over an hour.

The small yet dedicated crowd (how many innocent bystanders are you going to get in a Wednesday night show?) of about 100-150 was in full blast. The boys in Bleach responded by blasting through their usuals, such as “Get Up”, “December”, and “Knocked Out” with amazing energy and presence. I was one of the most active members of the audience, skanking, headbanging, dancing, jumping, and altogether just having a great time. Because of this, I only remember fragments of Bleach’s set- “Jaded Now”, “We are Tomorrow”, and the encore- but those things I did see were completely amazing.

“Jaded Now” is Bleach’s epic song- it builds from a simplistic, basic guitar line by adding in more and more elements until the climactic finale where Dave Baysinger screams out “I’m not scared!” to which the band unleashes a torrent of anguished sound that can only be described as outpour. It was absolutely stunning live, as Dave’s scream took on a whole new passion and the band seemed to feed off of it. That’s the definition of a good live band.

Their last ‘official’ song in the set was the ubiquitous “We Are Tomorrow”. I’ve seen them four times, and three out of the four times they’ve done this song. It’s one of the top crowd-rousing anthems I know of- and it made the crowd go nuts. A mosh started in here, and the security broke it up- but that’s how passionate everyone was. The song was electric, from start to finish. Dave Baysinger crowdsurfed. While singing.

But they couldn’t go away like that. No- they had to come back. The encore was three songs long, and worth every second. They played a song about Oklahoma (if I had lived here longer, I would probably know where it’s from), to which the crowd clapped along and even sang a bit. I thought it was a great kudos to Oklahoma that Bleach likes it here so much as to learn a song about us to play. Good job Oklahoman scene. The second song was “Baseline”- the crowd went berserk again. We didn’t know what they were going to do for the last Bleach song ever performed in Oklahoma, but we knew it had to be big.

So they went for the rarely played “Super Good Feeling”. This is quite possibly my favorite Bleach song, and I’ve never heard them play it live. I don’t think anyone else in the crowd had either- which made that last song special to me. Even better, all throughout the encore, Baysinger was taking phones from people in the audience, putting them right up next to the microphone, and singing into both at once- I think he did this for 4 or 5 cell-phones. How awesome is that?!?

Suffice to say, Bleach blew everyone away. I can’t believe Bleach is gone- it makes me genuinely depressed. But there are rumors that they’ll stick around as an album-only no-tour band….I hope those pull through right, and we can get some new Bleach music out of it. God Bless Bleach.

Anberlin – Blueprints for the Black Market

Anberlin just popped up. I know nothing about them. After listening to the CD through a couple times, I still know virtually nothing about them, cause they didn’t print their lyrics in the CD booklet. That is most definitely a pet peeve of mine.

The cd blasts out of the gate with “Readyfuels” (yes, it’s one word). Heavy but melodic guitars, driving percussion, and great vocals propel this dark track. Then, the gears shift drastically, and the punk melodicness of “Foreign Language” graces the ears. It’s a song by a guy who thinks girls are speaking a foreign language.

“Change The World”, the radio single, is actually an acceptable one, taking the hardness of track one and combining it with the catchiness of two to create a better track. This happens often in the world of indie rock. I call it conglomeration. The guitars are great in this track.

After opening with a heavy riff, “Cold War Transmissions” breaks away from it to deliver a more melodic-based track. Not nearly pop structured, but melodic. “Glass to the Arson” delivers an almost metal riff, while contrasting passionate, nearly screamed vocals and near whispers. One of the most interesting tracks on the album.

“The Undeveloped Story” contains a riff reminiscent of….Readyfuels. The vocals are reminiscent of…Readyfuels. It feels like a remix almost. A spacey sounding keyboard riff opens “Autobahn” which contributes to the whole “sing-along-in-your-car” feel. The only problem is that the chorus stinks. It totally doesn’t fit the song. “We Dreamt In Heist” smacks you in the face with vocals….not even showcasing the lead riff. It has a cool ‘ah’ part, but that’s about it in this song.

A toned down redux of “Cold War Transmissions” ensues, only the name “Love Song” is slapped on it. When the piano kicks in, it’s cool, But only then. “Cadence” feels like a redux of “We Dreamt in Heist”, making a bad song worse. It’s clearly a love song, judging by the chorus, making that two in a row. After a great intro, “Naïve Orleans” pulses back into their clichéd rock vibes. The song isn’t too close to anything, but it just feels overdone by this time in the CD.

In conclusion, the first 5 songs would have made an awesome EP. In tandem with the other 6, it feels long and unexciting, and diminishes the greatness of the first five tracks. It also relays no emotional message….it’s just blah. Less rough than Chevelle with elements of Jimmy Eat World thrown in. 5 out of 10

The Stellas – Music for Umbrellas

This cd is titled astutely. You can take this out on a rainy day, and have shelter from the elements (mood-wise). This girl-fronted punk band isn’t your average dime-a-dozen punk run-of-the-mill. They sport no bassist, but there are bass lines, don’t worry. Although males might have a problem with the pink-ness of this album, the gain cancels out the semi-embarassment.

The album starts off with a bang, producing the catchy, upbeat “Better Off” about a relationship gone wrong. The Stellas’ lyrics mostly deal with relationships, for better or worse. This chorus is such a sing-along that they even put some guys singing along in the background on the last chorus.

The aforementioned lyrics become cliché and overwrought on the next song, “When He Says He Loves Me”. The vocals are also bland during the verses, leaving them nothing to stand on. The chorus has a male and female backup voice, which sounds very cool, as the male voice is an interesting style. The bridge is a killer keyboard riff which you will find yourself humming incessantly.  Together they make this song one of the most fun songs on the album.

‘I Am Wrong’ passes without much ado, which leads into the best sounding track on the album: “Girlfriend”. Their radio single, it features a nifty percussion riff, played on two drumsticks. The guitar line, if not creative, sounds fresh with the keyboards added in. A hummed bridge adds to the character of the song. We continue though ‘Fluff My Aura” which spotlights backup vocals (if backups are the most important, are they still backup?), and “The Bulletproof Anthem” which starts off well but drags way too long.

Next is a cover of The Cars classic “You’re Just What I Needed” which lacks the punch of the original but it still worth a listen. Another short song is tacked on the end, presumably another cover, called “Da Da Da”. “I-40”, the most introspective lyrically, introduces an absorbing bass line, before stating “My hypocritical side…is my downfall.” The CD ends on a green day-ish note, with an acoustic song. Actually it’s an every punk band idea now….but it WAS a green day idea.

Overall, there is much room for improvement, such as development of all the little-used talent in the band (male vocals, great bass playing, lyrical content), and overall refining of material. A good debut, worth the cash. 7 out of 10

As Advertised — Soundtrack To Life EP

Some bands take a while to get used to, but you enjoy them more with every listen. As Advertised is different. They hook you instantly, sucking you into their charm and diversity, and still get better each time you listen. This CD, a mere 27:34, has more styles than some bands can pull off in an entire career.

The five-piece kicks off with a short intro, which leads into “Heidi”, a medium-tempo punk song. It’s a great opener, leaving you wanting more of this canned adrenaline, while adequately displaying everything AsAd (as the nickname goes) is: tactful, fresh lyrics; clear, emotive vocals, and talent from every member of the band.

They promptly toss a curve, and fade into “The First Time”. With an acoustic guitar and minimal percussion, this song has an almost folk vibe, written as a birthday present for a girlfriend. It moves along well, being pretty without being boring. Those who were waiting for more punk are treated to “I Know, I Know”, a pop punker which begs to be danced to. A keyboard carries the lead riff for “Homecoming”, an electric version of an acoustic ballad off their debut CD “Let’s Just Be Friends”. It is catchy beyond all reason, and features a great bass line as well.

The last printed track (August) ensues, and it’s a slow, immersing, sounds-so-sad-but-is-just-as-beautiful double acoustic emo masterpiece. The hidden track is very humorous, and I’ll let you discover it for yourself. Overall, the frontman, JD Campbell, shines lyrically and vocally, which is a rare thing in the world of punk. Like it has been said, you can teach yourself to play better, but you can’t change your voice.

A jewel in any CD collection, this is worth two or three times the price it goes for. Check them out immediately, you won’t be disappointed. 9 out of 10

Mourning September — 3-song pre-release

Mourning September may or may not be a reference to that infamous day. It really doesn’t matter though, because the music speaks for itself. This three song-prerelease is an excellent taste of what’s to come.

A drum solo is the lead-in to “Running”, a melodic rock song which asks a question no one wants to answer: “What are you running….running from? What is it you escape?” The bridge is by far the most interesting part of the song, after the lyrics. The lead riff from ‘Goodbye’ almost sounds punk until the whole band fills in, pounding out a driving force to accompany the pain-filled vocals. Lyrics could be absent and the point would still be made, as the intonation is expertly done. The breakdown is terrific, a characteristic of MS.

‘Every Dream’ showcases the drummer’s technical ability, and the most haunting vocals on this short EP surface during the chorus. The characteristic breakdown isn’t the best, but a fantastic outro appears, redeeming it.

My qualms with this are length and variation. The three songs all have a mid-tempo vocal style that, while interesting, I would like to see them differ from. Overall, it leaves me wanting so much more. Then again, that’s the point. Well crafted, I’ll be expecting great things from them. 7-10

All Against Adam — S/t EP

This album starts out with sounds of a thunderstorm rolling in. Some people don’t like thunderstorms, most are just ok with them, and some love them. That twelve-second intro sets a good analogy towards the entire album. I’m just ok with thunderstorms and All Against Adam.

The first riff introduces “She Needs Me” with a clichéd guitar run with placed drop-ins of bass and drums. The high, warbling, we’ve-heard-this-all-before vocals jump in, and we find that they like to go for soaring vocal lines (lead and backup) for their not-so-deep lyrics. They are mostly about relationships, but without a poetic tact that sets some bands apart. “Girl In Green” shows some promise, not in instrumentation (which isn’t cliched this time but still not completely original), but in vocals, with a catchy melody and effective backup vocals. The line “Girl In Green” is always sung a cappela , creating a fresh, darker feel. ‘Sensitivity’ gives us a moody, ethereal intro that had me waiting for the problems to start, and I was surprised to find that they didn’t. This is my favorite song on the album, as it held my interest with its moody, restrained groove. After a return to pop-punk cliché’s in “Lost Cause”, they impart on us “One Last Chance”. A heavy, dark punk tune, it including a foray into screamed backup vocals, which were unexpected, but done with taste. The melody on this is my least favorite, as it sounds strained, too high and a tad off-beat at times. The lyrics are worthy of a song of this nature, and probably the best on the album.

I sense there is creativity to be mined in this band. They just need to have someone tell them what’s been done before and what hasn’t. Their darker music intrigues me more than their opposite end of the spectrum, because (I know this by being in a band) it is hard to write original pop-punk. The well is empty, the mine explored. There is promise for AAA, but right now the product is rough. 5 out of 10