Archive for March, 2016

Leavin' La Vida Loca cover art

I kind of think that the music I listen to is, in general, not that varied. Most likely, I am listening to just another shitty pop-punk record that no-one cares about. However, I realised that the two records I have been listening to the most recently are quite obviously very different stylistically and musically, but also in tone. I can go from the sweet, care-free, youthful pop-punk harmonies of Jabber to the self-deprecating, self-analytical, mostly deadly serious (but still fun) indie rock (ish) of Antartigo Vespucci with barely a blink of an eye (ear). The latter do not sing about high-school crushes and waiting on a sweetheart, but painful, self-critical regret. Standout lyrics from the latest record include: “Is it all my fault or just most of it? My potential turns to worthlessness and you try to pull me out of it, but the weight just starts to suck you in”.

Antarctigo Vespucci are, if you didn’t know, Chris Farren from Fake Problems and Jeff Rosenstock from Bomb the Music Industry! and, well, Jeff Rosenstock. I hadn’t checked the band out properly until the release of their first full-length (following a couple of EPs). Of course, I’m late to the party, but I don’t mind when I know I will be staying at the party until 6am anyway. These two have really created something special here.  How to describe it? It is broadly ‘indie-rock’ I guess, but there are elements of all sorts going on: from folk to country to pop-punk.

I love how varied this record is and how quickly Antarctigo can shift it up a gear. After the laidback first couple of tracks (lets call them: mid-tempo, contemplative indie), they unleash the album highlight: “Save Me From Myself”. This is like Pinkerton reinvigorated for the lethargic millenials, with Jake Bugg on vocals. It’s fast-paced, intense and synth-y, with kooky, charming lyrics. It’s kind of out-of-place on the album, but you don’t care when it’s that good. This is pure ‘apathy and exhaustion’, nihilism and ‘fuck it’ plugged, but without the narcissistic tendencies of the Wavves ilk (to be fair, they have some good songs). There’s a keen sense of self-awareness here from AV that sets them apart from the usual ‘generation X/Y/whatever’ bollocks:

“I took the lid off the poppers,
And I inhaled until I could not see straight.
Fell on my back on the futon,
Oh I know this can’t be good for my brain”

To open the song with those lines is pretty fucking awesome. This is basically a song about a guy chilling and worrying while chilling, too. All he does is nothing. He wants to get out of the situation, but he can’t, no matter how hard he tries. There’s an unnerving honesty embedded in this song, which is great to hear (especially when it reaches such a melodically euphoric crescendo such as in this song):

“I’m obsessing again,
I’m turning into my friends,
Please don’t let them know.
Woah oh oh
I’m in the corner waiting,
Because I’m boring baby.
Please don’t let them know.”

And what follows such Weezer-inspired joy? Well, a number of things and AV endeavour to keep things interesting. “Losing my Mind” is country-rock at its finest, with the protagonist doing just what the title suggests and ‘sitting on the bed and staring’, wondering what his significant other is really thinking. Meanwhile, the other super-energetic track on Leavin’ La Vida Loca is “Hooray for Me”, a tongue-in cheek song about being alright, “as long as someone else” takes care of you. It links in with the previously mentioned apathy and lethargic attitude: “I’ve got a lot of big decisions that I am never going to make.” I love the way it builds to the chorus, and the release of energy that subsequently ensues. It kind reminds me of Alkaline Trio in that way (although it’s not dark or moody in any way) and there’s certainly a crunch-y pop-punk element to this hit.

The latter section of the album is slightly less ‘fun’ and more self-critical I guess. Partly, this album is about no being able to accept yourself, no matter what the present situation may be, with the past engulfing you. The key line which sums this up is “Bad memory, when I close my eyes it’s the only thing I see. Hold on to me like a parasite or an endless fever dream.” (“No Bad Memories”). While that song is a country rock ditty to make you dance, “Crashing Waves” is indie miserabilia through and through. Its tone is not seen elsewhere on the album and kind of reminds me of both Manic Street Preachers and the Hold Steady. Final track “I See Failure” reinvigorates things and picks up the tempo. This brings us back to the ol’ bad memories. It’s not just the weight of his memories which is dragging him down but the weight of himself. Lyrically, I think this is the most intelligent on the record and the chorus probably sums that up well:

“Or did I stay too long in your arms and the safety of your touch? Have I lost the will to fight these devils off? / Did I stay too long in your arms sheltered from the storm? Am I too detached from what you saved me from?”

Clearly, he is talking about his other half. She has ‘saved him’ (from himself?) but has she really saved him? Isn’t he still the same underneath? Don’t the old inadequacies remain? The implication here is that a significant other can perhaps paper over the cracks of our true selves. The protagonist here is now less equipped to fight off the devils than he was before. “I See Failure” is the perfect, self-analytical, anxiety-inducing way to end this record. Cathartic and similatenously melodically-pleasing, it sums up the whole feeling of Leavin’ La Vida Loca. I guess the question is, do you ever really leave la vida loca?

DB

Check it out here: https://antarctigovespucci.bandcamp.com/album/leavin-la-vida-loca

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Well... Just Jabber cover art

It’s a great honor for me to review such a great band as Jabber. For those not familiar with them, they are a female fronted band from the Bay Area. I’m not sure if the band name has anything to do with GG.Allin’s band the Jabbers, but in spite of it being his poppiest band, Jabber is probably the antithesis of anything GG ever did. Jabber is sugary, sweet, and incredibly catchy! The band is fronted by Danny from the Pillowfights! and Kris from Dead Ringer. I don’t know much about Dead Ringer, but I’ve always loved the Pillowfights and I’ve always considered Danny one of the greatest voices of modern Pop Punk(and I’m not only saying that because she wrote me a birthday song once). Together their voices are a perfect blend and a breath of fresh and sweet air in a genre that is mostly dominated by beardy dudes singing their tragic songs with the same gruff voice. Jabber also takes the genre back to the roots, without actually sounding like they are trying to be retro, Jabber is Jabber! They released the amazing “Too Many Babes” EP on Bloated Kat Records in 2012, a record that demonstrated their knack for songwriting and the songs were on my phone for over three years, and will probably be in my head forever. It contained great songs such as “Maybe Next Year” and “Talk to You”. They’ve also done some splits with Science Police and the Mixtapes.

I remember listening to “Well…Just Jabber” when it first came out and before reviewing it I hadn’t listened to it after that, which is a shame. So I reviewing it has given me a reason to listen a lot to it, not that I would need a reason. The EP opens with the dose of Pop Punk sweetness called “Nineteen”, a nihilistic unrequited love song that proposes: “I think we should get together, don’t care about forever at all”, while the second track, “Anymore”, seems to be a continuing of it. Where “Nineteen” includes the line “I know I’m not the one your heart beats for”, “Anymore” has “I don’t wanna tell you’re one my heart beats for”. “Anymore” reminds me a bit of Bad Cop Bad Cop, which of course is a good thing! And even if the song is upbeat and catchy the lyrics are quite sad. Just look at these lyrics “You left me weary, my outlook dreary, but now you’re gone/ So everything can get rad, stop feeling so sad and stop writing you these songs”. Well I’m all for things getting rad and that she stops feeling sad, just as long as she keeps on writing these songs, who knows if this dude in the song appreciates them, but I’m sure Jabber fans do! “Only You” is the longest song on the EP, and the only song clocking over two minutes and I hear some Lipstick Homicide influences here. The last song is the Mean Girls themed “Grool”, and it could easily fit on “Too Many Babes”. My favorite song on the EP, however, the third song; “Suzy”, a song that apparently is about a dog. It was the song first that hooked me on the EP and it still does. It reminds me a bit of Blondie’s “Denis”, it’s a super catchy song that fits perfectly with Jabber’s bubblegum image and so does the Josie and the Pussycats inspired artwork.

After listening to EP, I’m just wanting more. It’s a really strong EP, but I guess it’s not as great as “Too Many Babes”, but then again what is nowadays? I really want to listen to “Suzy” now, what a song!

RH

Check it out here: https://jabberpop.bandcamp.com/album/well-just-jabber

Review: Loop Line- Wakes (EP)

Posted: March 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

Wakes cover art

For some reason when I see this EP cover I think I’m about to listen to The Killers or Bloc Party, but I’m not, this is Loop Line. I know nothing about them, except that they are an alternative rock duo based in Minneapolis, where Paul (one of the duo’s members lives, Luke lives in Phoenix, and they’ve recorded the EP over mail, and that’s all I need to know).  I didn’t really know what to expect from this Ep, but I always like listening to new shit! The first song is probably the best song, it’s called “Nothing About You” and it’s a Power Pop song and it almost sounds like Weezer. The singing reminds me of Intruder Blue of Masked Intruder. I really like the song, the melody is great! The harmonies are nice and the instrumentation is sweet. The second song “Grin” at first sounds like Blink-182 on piano, but goes away from that path pretty quick. “Grin” is a chill song, with a smooth bass line. The harmonies and sound is reminiscent of the Beach Boys as well as later era Zombies, I even hear some Pixies influences.

“Parts Unknown” also has those ol’ Beach Boys harmonies and I would describe it as psychedelic indie rock. There’s a title trop in the song: “We’ll find ourselves in parts unknown”, which sounds somewhat poetic. The vocals in “Parts Unknown” are a bit like Rivers from Weezer, but the singer also reminds me a bit of Christian from the Tattle Tales. The last song, “Dusty Keys” is a great closer, and it’s also a psychedelic indie song, but it sounds way different from “Parts Unknown”, it’s chill like “Grin” and it’s more of a ballad, it sort of reminds me of the Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience. “Wakes” is a pretty good EP and it’s very diverse. Even as a promoter of diversity, I would maybe say it’s too diverse to the point that it seems inconsistent. Despite that, I will probably listen to it a lot in the future, so I definitely enjoy it!

RH

Check it out here: http://looplinemusic.bandcamp.com/

SHIP THIEVES "No Anchor" (CHRIS WOLLARD & THE)

Ship Thieves? Where have I heard that name before? Oh, yes! Formerly known as Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves, this “side project” of the Hot Water Music guitarist/vocalist was last heard from in 2013, on a 7” single. Back again with a full LP (the first since 2012’s “Canyons”) and a more egalitarian band name, they’ve dropped the sedate Americana sound for one that’s much more rockin’. No longer a “solo” project, this Ship Thieves is now a full-time band. The full sound of multiple guitars, Wollard’s deep raspy voice, and the gang-style anthemic vocals are the sort of thing more familiar to Hot Water Music fans and a perfect fit for the No Idea sound. One of the things that strikes me about this album is that it starts out strongly…and keeps getting stronger. “Middle Man” opens the album with cool guitar lines, Wollard’s gruffness, and some great sing-along parts. The title track is next, cranking up the intensity a notch, but things really take off with “Born Into This,” a high energy track with which I can imagine being at the front of the crowd, all sweaty, PBR tall boy in hand, fist pumping, pushing forward to sing along. “Long Way Down” has an awesome old school feel to it, simple repetitive guitar lines, and cool backing vocals. “Something Is Missing” is even more powerful, cranking things up even higher in intensity, adding some beautiful yet edgy melodic lines in the guitars. “MBJOK” is next, maintaining the high energy levels and guitar interplay. You get the idea – this is a great record. And, though it’s not a Hot Water Music record, given that there hasn’t been any new-recorded output from that band since 2012, for many people this will be the next best thing. To my own ears, there’s no “next best” here – it qualifies for the “best” category.

-Paul Silver

Geometers cover art

This Brooklyn-based band is one you may not have heard of – I know I hadn’t before listening. But now I can’t wait to hear more. Midwest label Jetsam-Flotsam has a gem on its hands in this post-punk trio. Recording, mixing, and producing duties were all performed by none other than J Robbins, and it’s easy to see why he was attracted to this project. The band definitely has a DC post-punk sort of sound that’s, dare I say it, very Jawbox-like. The melodic lines, angular approach, and vocal harmonies all remind me pretty strongly of that band, one of my favorites from the nineties. Maybe the instrumentation here isn’t quite as full, and the lines jangle with a bit more of a modern indie flair. But I hear the same sort of urgency in the vocals in even in the instruments. “On My Own” begins the quartet of tracks with an off kilter bas line, then the guitars come in to add some embellishments before smoothly taking up the lead. Then the vocals come in, dueling with each other in unorthodox rhythms, and then joining in harmony. The last quarter of the song explodes with intensity, completely changing the tone, then settling back at the end, which seamlessly leads into “Title Fight.” This second track builds on the sound of the first, adding more of an edge in places, with a more intense urgency to the sound. “Arp” is a short, quiet instrumental that feels out of place. Slow and atmospheric, building to a creepy ending, it doesn’t seem to flow with the other three tracks. “Sidearm,” however, closes the EP with a huge bang! More aggressively played and sung, this track hits hard, and is my favorite of the EP. Rumor has it that a full-length is in the works, and I can’t wait to hear it.

-Paul Silver

http://geometers.bandcamp.com/releases

Resister cover art

Skate punk is alive and well in Perth, Australia! Imagine taking Fat Wreck Chords style skate punk, adding in a heavy dose of Masked Intruder style pop punk, and blending it with Epitaph punk rock, heavy on the Bad Religion. That’s the sort of sound you get with The Decline. The songs are fast, they’re crunchy, they’re super melodic and catchy, and they’re everything you expect from this kind of music. The multi-part harmonies are great, too, appearing often in many of the songs. “I Don’t Believe” leans a little more heavily toward the Bad Religion side of things, while still remaining quite poppy. “The Blurst of Times” also reminds me a bit more of the Epitaph sound, but those harmonized vocals – so great! It’s like a punk barbershop quartet! “You Call This a Holiday” is an awesome track – it starts out as a nice, quiet indie-pop track, with jangly guitar and subdued vocals. Just when you start to relax and swoon to this crooner, at about the two-thirds mark, everything explodes in a fury of drums, and guitars, pounding crunchy bass, and those harmonized vocals – it’s a full song’s worth of excitement in under a minute! “Wrecking Ball” has a fun intro, sung a cappella, also in barbershop quarter style. I particularly love the great melody of “You’re Not The Waitress,” which has more creativity than the typical punk song. The quality of this album is very consistent, the technical ability top notch, and the singing is spot on throughout the album. And, even at fifteen songs, the album doesn’t seem too long – maybe because the tracks average around two minutes or so a piece. I used to love this style of music back in the day, but I moved on, as music evolved and changed. These days, many of the bands that play skate punk don’t do much for me anymore, but I truly enjoyed this album.

-Paul Silver

Check it out: http://peerecords.bandcamp.com/album/resister