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Tag: Deep Elm Records

Quick Hits: Dorena

Dorena‘s About Everything and More is the type of post-rock I love. Clean, single-note melodies traipse about hopefully on top of a yearning rhythm section, building to the big payoff. The best moments of early Appleseed Cast (“Fishing the Sky”) and Unwed Sailor’s whole discography play with the ebb and flow of hopeful post-rock, and Dorena is taking their place next to Moonlit Sailor as my favorite up-and-coming post-rock bands. It’s no wonder that they’re both on Deep Elm Records; when those guys decide to do a genre, they do it up right.

Dorena lets loose from the first song: “The Morning Bus” sets a groove with a bass line, augments with distant atmospheric synths, introduces an intricate-but-casual-in-intensity drum beat, drops in crunchy but not overblown guitars, sprinkles some clean guitar melodies on top, then garnishes with some wordless ohs. They build it up to the payoff, where the melody comes via synth AND guitar in over the top of a crushingly distorted rhythm guitar while the drums spazz out (but without losing the overall sense of wonder). It’s a veritable blueprint of a great post-rock song. They’ve either done their homework or been born to play the genre. Either way, the listener wins.

If you like optimistic, building post-rock, get your hands on Dorena’s About Everything and More. You will not regret it.

Caterpillar Tracks and Arms Exploding rock out on a rare split 7-inch

CaterpillarTracksArmsExplodingPhratry Records‘ release of split 7″ albums is a show of faith in the importance of rock and roll. Seven-inchers are pretty much most inefficient mode of releasing music there is: two songs on two sides of vinyl.  The rare band and label that still puts money into pressing 7″ believes not only in the particular band being pressed, but in the importance that a single song can have. Is releasing one song by two bands each important? Most say no. Phratry Records says, “Eff yeah!”

So, for the next three days, we’ll be featuring the three latest Phratry records releases, which are all 7″ vinyl. This first one is a Caterpillar Tracks/Arms Exploding split, with the A side being CT’s “It’s a W.I.N. for the Home Team” and the B side being Arms Exploding’s “Of Luxury & Branding.”

Caterpillar Tracks’ post-punk offering here is cemented by a pounding, staccato rhythm that becomes a head-bobbing groove after the ears get accustomed to it (and there’s plenty of time to normalize it, as the rhythm forms the basis for the entire song). The guitars squiggle, squirm and leap over it, making dissonant melodies and odd rhythms over the insistent thrum from the rhythm section. The vocals are a clear, undistorted yell; there’s no rasp, nor is there any hysteria in the screaming. The vocalist is passionate, but he doesn’t portray it by getting crazy. This song is relatively short, unfortunately, but it makes a big impression. I loved “It’s a W.I.N. for the Home Team,” as it reminded me of what Deep Elm Records’ Red Animal War and what Brand New could have been like if they had they taken a slightly harder route out of Deja Entendu.

Arms Exploding’s track is much less contained than Caterpillar Tracks’ tune. The thrashing punk of “Of Luxury & Branding” features cymbal-heavy drum work, shrieking guitars, wild yelling, full-out screaming, slashing rhythms, and lots of distortion. Where Caterpillar Tracks’ sound was contained and insistent, Arms Exploding is wild, frenetic and barely controlled. Arms Exploding seems the type of band that would end their sets with blood on the floor and equipment broken.

There is some restraint leveled in “Of Luxury & Branding,” as a stripped-back groove section gives a momentary respite from chaos. The song also ends on a loop of a off-kilter piano line, which was an unexpected move from such a wild and frantic piece. But the majority of this track is old-school punk rock: abrasive, unusual, unexpected, and challenging to the status quo.

Both of these tracks were worth the vinyl. My personal aesthetic draws me to Caterpillar Tracks over Arms Exploding, but the quality of both tracks ensures that there kids out there saying the same thing about Arms Exploding. Whether you get the seven-inch or download it digitally (lame), you should invest some cash in this release. It’s not just two great songs; it’s show of solidarity with Phratry Records’ statement that red vinyl is worth it.

Deep Elm Records – The Emo Diaries: Taking Back What’s Ours

the-emo-diaries-album-art1Deep Elm Records – The Emo Diaries: Taking Back What’s Ours

Deep Elm Records (http://www.deepelm.com)

Compilation of unreleased Indie, Emo and Punk songs.

If you don’t know what Deep Elm Records is, and you are looking at this magazine, you probably need to brush up on your musical history. Through their compilation series, The Emo Diaries, they have acted as a launch pad for now well-known bands such as Jimmy Eat World, The Appleseed Cast, The Movielife, and Further Seems Forever (You know, that Cris Carrabba band before Dashboard). Yet in 2004, Deep Elm decided to stop contributing to a genre already polluted with bands that care more about the look than the music.

Fast forward to now, and Deep Elm is reclaiming the emotional throne with their latest diary entry, “Taking Back What’s Ours.” And you know what, it’s not that bad. Sure you have your screamo bands on the CD, and that is bad, but you also have some really talented artists putting out quality songs that aren’t about how they want to die because they are bored (or boring).

Some of them are fast passed and kind of poppy, such as “Tiger Meets Lion” by This Drama. The song has this catchy guitar riff that just makes you want to get up and do an odd dance. Other songs, like Andy Tanner & His Grand Piano’s song, “The Ghostman,” start of slower and then build as the emotional intensity grows. The Anniversary comes to mind, but I’m not sure why. And then some songs are just slow and beautiful with an a real indie feel, such as The Decoration’s “Progress, Not Perfection.”

Overall, the CD is worth taking a run through in order to pick and choose which up-and-comers are worth checking out and which ones are worth ignoring. With something for everybody, Deep Elm Records is taking steps, even is the horrible scremo bands make is a small one, towards taking back what has been there’s long before black was the new pink. Or maybe I’m just a Dallas kid who’s partial to a record label who names itself after my music district. Who knows?

-C.J. Macklin

cj@independentclauses.com