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Household/Infinite Me – Split

Somewhere between Thursday, Hopesfall, Strongarm, Shai Hulud, and the like, you find Household. The band has been shifting their sound slowly and that shift continues onto their new split with Infinite Me. Time Spent saw the band shift away from the melodic hardcore sound of their debut to a more post-hardcore/Thursday style sound. The band has always encompassed the hardcore/punk roots of emo, so it makes their further shift in sound for this split ep unsurprising. We’ll see if it’s just for this ep or if it’s a long term change in direction for the band. The 3 tracks that encompass the first half of the split, Distant Truth 1,2, & 3, play as one long song. Vocal issues for vocalist Josh Gilbert have transitioned the band away from screaming, but in my opinion his singing voice is even better than his screaming voice. You can hear the band’s raw hardcore roots in the music of Distant Truth Pt 1, which was never fully “hardcore” anyway. The band taps into that DC hardcore/punk vein that keeps on giving. When the music breaks and Gilbert sings “I found this out too late for love” you hear a glimpse of Underoath. The band hasn’t lost their edge. Although the progression of the song/3 tracks softens with each change. Pt 2 still chugs along but takes a more punk/emo turn. Pt 3 finds the band shifting into a groove inspired indie rock sound. And yet even in that vein, the riff still reminds me of the band’s hardcore roots. While vocals have shifted, musically Household taps into the same sound that has guided them since With Or Without.

Because of the sonic shifts, you almost don’t notice when Infinite Me’s side of the split kicks in. Sharing a home of state of Minnesota with Household, the emo/grunge act compliments Household perfectly on this split. I might even say their half of the split outshines Household. The quiet/loud component of Infinite Me’s music is some weird combination of Dinosaur Jr, Failure, and early Sunny Day Real Estate. It might be a tough combo to wrap your head around but sonically it makes sense when you hear the fuzzed out guitars of Rot With Me or the driving bass of Follow You. Infinite Me is the definition of emo but they clearly wear their other influences on their sleeve. The 3 songs on this split made me hit up the band’s Bandcamp page and download their back catalog. This is your new favorite band.

A new sound for an old favorite and a new band to fall in love with. This Household/Infinite Me split is perfect! 5 out of 5 Stars.

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House of Heroes – Colors

Many years ago I had a co-worker, who used to be a drug addict, explain that the first time you get high on cocaine is other worldly. It’s great. But every time after that first time is a letdown and you keep chasing and chasing that initial high, only to never get it again.

6 years ago House of Heroes released Suburba and I became an instant fan. I dove in to the band’s back catalog and have waited for each new release. But I still feel like I’ve been chasing the high I got from hearing Suburba for the time. (See, my crazy drug story had a point)

To use a tired cliché, Colors is a raucous rock & roll record. Yes, that’s lazy ass writing on my part. But it fits the record. And honestly, I’ve struggled to find words to adequately describe Colors. Because let’s be honest, it would be much easier to write a review of Colors if I wasn’t a fan of House of Heroes. But a personal connection and expectation colors (no pun intended) the way you view and listen to music. And when I try to step back and detach my personal expectations, I find a really great rock & roll record.

Which leads me to say, Colors does not feed my personal House of Heroes high. But it comes close. (What is it missing? A Song like God Save Us The Foolish Kings)

House of Heroes give us a big bombastic anthem to kick off Colors. Colors Run is a mid-tempo jam that feels both part ballad and part arena rock song. It’s a great “classic” rock type song. Rat is one of those punk infused songs that House of Heroes always seems to deliver with ease.

On a number of tracks is feels like House of Heroes was going for a huge sound. The riffs and drums on Pioneer, Feel, and Matador all hit on the same note and feel over compressed to create this enormous wall of sound. Even the bridges of God and Crash, relatively low-key songs, the wall of sound makes an appearance. House of Heroes pulls it off and scatters it throughout the record so it doesn’t feel like you’re being beaten over the head by a giant wall of guitars.

We Make Our Stars is a beautiful little ballad. In The End, Shots Fired, and Get Away are about as stripped down as I can ever remember hearing House of Heroes get. The band lulls you into thinking they’re closing he record on the lighter side before the four on the floor of Colors Die Out hit. Colors Die Out is another one of those classic rock anthems. They bookend the record nicely and if you ask me both the album’s opener and closer are the highlights of the record.

There’s a lot I like about Colors. It’s an enjoyable listen, when you’re just listening. When I got critical it seemed to not have the same punch as it did when I just put the record on in my car and drove around jamming to it. So take that for what you will. And even though it doesn’t fulfill this musical need I have from House of Heroes, it’s still a great record. 4.5 our 5 Stars.

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Field Mouse – Episodic

“What a way to say fuck off.”

It’s more than the first line of the first song on Field Mouse’s stellar new record, Episodic. It’s almost like a statement from the band. The Mirror might actually be quite disarming to longtime fans of the band and their shoegaze sound. The upbeat, hella catchy dance number is almost a challenge to the hipsters to try and not enjoy themselves. It’s also anthemic! It’s an easy line to attach yourself to and I imagine it will be shouted by audiences at the band’s upcoming shows. Aside from the opening line of the record, The Mirror is a fun song. It gets me dancing every time. Rachel Browne’s vocals remind me of Jenny Lewis and the Mirror sounds like what I always wished Rilo Kiley sounded like. It’s the perfect album opener.

And yes, Field Mouse puts their best foot forward with The Mirror. But they follow it up with step after step of great song after great song. I’ve seen people comment that the album still nods at their shoegaze past, but to my ears, Field Mouse has moved past that sound. The fuzzed out guitars punctuate the bands indie pop choruses. Take the track A Widow With A Terrible Secret. The verse is a jaunty light pop track until the guitars fully kick in on the chorus and the song explodes into a power pop ballad. Sure the guitars have an almost shoegaze airy quality to them but to label it as shoegaze almost robs the track of it’s power.

Half-life follows The Mirror. It’s got a great synth line on the verse that helps give the verse a club vibe before the band rips into the chorus. Power pop is the name of the game! The Order of Sings is a beautifully clean indie pop song.

Browne’s vocals soar through the dynamic and melodic changes on Beacon, becoming the star of the track. Beacon seamlessly transitions into Over and Out, which is all sorts of sugary pop goodness. On the surface, the song sounds simple, but put on a pair of headphones and you pick up small riffs flying in and out or a moment of feedback that highlights a moment in the song. Do You Believe Me Now is a fantastic, straight forward rock and roll song that has a chorus that reminds me of mid-90’s post grunge rock. Out Of Context closes the record with some Sonic Youth esque feedback as the track slowly unwinds and brings Episodic to an end.

There are no flaws on Episodic. From upbeat pop tunes to dark indie rock songs that give the band “street cred”, Field Mouse has crafted an album full of brilliant songs. Perfect start to finish and very easily jumped to the top of my Album of the Year list. 5 out of 5 Stars!

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Glacier Veins – Clear Your Head

Glacier Veins - Clear Your Head - cover
If you follow this site with any regularity you are aware that I have been obsessed with Glacier Veins for months now. The band’s two songs on Relationship Goals blew me away and I was stoked to hear that a new ep was quickly on it’s way.

The friendly emo-pop sound that drove the the band’s songs on Relationship Goals is still there but it is punctuated by emo’s punk roots on Clear Your Head. That was most punctuated by Different Faces, the song the band decided to premiere first from the album. Different Faces hits you with it’s blistering pace and Malia Endres’ aggressive vocal. But the verse gives way to a beautiful chorus before ripping back into another breakneck verse. The guitar solo is fantastic. The band self describes their music as “Portland Dream Punk” and I think that perfectly captures the sound on Different Faces.

The record kicks off with New Lungs, which feels very much like the natural progression from Relationship Goal. Still very much a poppy song but you can hear that the band’s confidence and ability has progressed forward. Northern has some incredible grooves and a strong arrangement. The band has an acoustic of the track on their Bandcamp page so you can compare and hear the growth. Empty Room is an almost haunting track and you’re just waiting for the song to explode into this next level and you kind of get that satisfaction you’re waiting for. The guitars swirl in this song in a way that reminds me of Eisley’s Deep Space. Endres’ take on a fantastic growl at parts of Swallowed that really take Glacier Veins from being a pretty emo-pop band to a serious punk rock heavyweight.

This ep fantastic and Glacier Veins is a band that I will continue to tell people about until they get some more recognition! Clear Your Head is a record worth your time. 5 out of 5 Stars.

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DANAE – Direction

Pop artist DANAE has finally unleahsed her debut ep, Direction into the world.

Direction os a musical and production feat of strength. If DANAE had major label back, the album’s first single, title track, and opening number, Direction, would easily be the number one song on most radio stations in America. It’s a super catchy song that makes you want to dance and grabs your attention immediately. Gold In the Dirt takes on a downtempo style vibe that fans of songs like David Guetta’s Titanium could easily gravitate to. Actualized is a beautiful ballad. Prove dabbles in some dubstep grooves like bringing back the dancehall vibes and infectious pop sensibilities.

But what sets Direction apart from DANAE’s peers is the lyrical depth in the songs. While Direction might be the debut for DANAE, front-woman Tiffany Thompson can’t escape the songwriting prowess that drew so many people to her music in the first place.

Not only is Direction a dancey power pop single, it’s also super anthemic on the level of Katie Perry’s Roar. The song is call to embrace and chase the dreams life throws at you. Gold in the Dirt is about working hard and seeing through the trails and the process to get to the reward. It’s an encouraging song about not giving up. Actualized isn’t just a love song. It’s about that moment when you realize the relationship is real and is going somewhere. Lyrically, Prove is the second part of Actualized. Now that you’ve realized you have something real, you stop trying so hard and are just yourself.

My complaint, which is always my complaint with great ep’s, is that the record is just too short and I want more. DANAE gives us an acoustic version of Direction, which offers a great insight into where a song starts and where it ends up. Direction is both catchy and deep. The songs will have you up dancing, but if you stop and give the lyrics a listen, you might be inspired. I’ve been a fan of Thompson’s work for a long time, and this new project is no different. 5 out of 5 Stars!

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Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

I was excited that Thrice had finally returned from hiatus and I was geeked out that a new album from the band was on the way. I figured it would be excellent. What I didn’t think was that I was about to hear what is possibly Thrice’s best record to date (or at least my favorite).

To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere feels like both a natural progression and rebirth for Thrice. As I listen back through the band’s discography, TBEITBN fits in nicely without conforming to a certain trend. It might be, start to finish, the most melodic and singable Thrice record. It’s also one of Dustin’s best lyrical outings in a while.

Hurricane is easily the “chillest” opener on Thrice record yet. There’s an intensity to it for sure, but it sets the tone that Thrice is headed in a different direction. The album’s opener will sweep you away, pun intended, with its beauty and melody. On their recent tour, the band opened their set with the track, and you can understand why. Hurricane is catchy and draws you in. It’s a song that has all the makings of a hit radio single, but so does most of the record.

What I love about TBEITBN is the way that the intensity can rise and fall but the album doesn’t feel like steady. Blood In the Sand kicks things up a notch for sure. The politically charged song goes after people who let fear overtake them and drive their decisions. It’s a stand against violence and silence. Both lyrically and the vocally, the song is intense. But the catchiness of the hook is what drives the point of the song home.

The Long Defeat feels like a classic Thrice track in the making. Great hook, a driving melody, Kensrue’s great wordplay with the lyrics. It ranks as one of Thrice’s most beautiful songs in my book. Black Honey fits in the same vein of Blood In The Sand. Politically driven lyrical content that gives the song a super intense vibe. Stay With Me Jumped into my top 5 favorite Thrice songs the minute I heard the track. Not only is the song beautiful and catchy but it’s equally as heartbreaking. The musical shift at the end of the bridge into the chorus at the end of the song only heightens that sense of dread and sadness.

Death From Above is another political track that takes on the use of drones. The odd time signature combined with the heaviness of the chorus creates a really dramatic feel. The way the bridge lightens in sound and mood creates a really introspective feeling for the listener.

Kensrue’s lyrics have always been great, but they feel like he’s taken a turn since the band went on hiatus and we the listeners are reaping the benefits of that shift. This is a record you want to listen to with the lyrics in front of you. But it’s also a record you can listen to and find catchy and enjoyable and be ignorant of all the lyrical content if you like. The lyrics aren’t a hinge point that makes the record great. I just thing it enhances the listening experience.

I’m glad Thrice is back. To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere is perfect. 5 out of 5 Stars.

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Valaska – Inchoate

My favorite part about this job is discovering and sharing new bands with people. So I was super to excited to get a stream of Chicago indie rock band Valaska’s new record Inchoate.

It took about 10 seconds for me to completely fall in love with Valaska’s and Inchoate’s opener, “Spring.”The joyful guitar riff that drives Spring feels like a summertime walk on the beach. Spring instantly takes me back to the early 2000’s indie rock scene, to bands like Trail of Dead, Grandaddy, Longwave, Death Cab For Cutie, and Interpol. Valaska doesn’t sound like any of those bands, but they remind me of that time in music that I loved so much. Spring is a fun, upbeat song that’s perfect for the summer season and road trip playlists.

The band instantly brings the energy down with the wonderful Hold Me Back. There’s an alt-country influence in the guitar riff that pays respect to a band like Wilco without completely immersing itself in the genre. Where Spring was the perfect road-trip playlist song, Hold Me Back is the ultimate late night drive jam. Vessel brings back more of the upbeat vibe but seems to fit comfortably as a bridge that makes the distance between the album’s first two tracks complete. Another outstanding guitar riff that tales me back to great indie records of the past.

On Violence the band starts to break out of their shell a little bit and Dave Valdez pushes his vocals further into something close to a yell as he hits the chorus of the song. Ghost has a great summertime/surfer vibe on the opening guitar riff. The theme that Inchoate keeps hitting is how perfect a record this is for summer. Human Condition is a song that would’ve fit comfortably on the Garden State soundtrack. It might as well be a Shins b-side.Minor reminds me of On A Wire era Get Up Kids.

It was love at first listen and that love didn’t wane over about a dozen listens. There’s a lot of nostalgia that Inchoate brings to mine, but it’s not even a specific band that comes to mind. Just a time and era when music was great. And that’s about as high a compliment that I can think to give a band. 5 out of 5 Stars.

You can give Valaska’s Inchoate a spin and purchase the record at https://valaska.bandcamp.com/album/in-cho-ate

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Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow

Daniel Weyandt from Zao said Nothing’s Tired of Tomorrow was excellent. So I had to check it out.

I wasn’t prepared for the shoegaze awesomeness that was about to explode from my turntable’s speakers as I hit play but immediately I was in love with Nothing.

When Fever Queen starts, I was blown away. It’s up there as one of the best opening tracks of all time. If we just want to talk shoegaze, It’s Slowdive’s Alison good. The pounding, building drums and verbed out guitars instantly hooked me. Comparing the track to Alison is a good place to start because listen to Fever Queen gave me the same sort of feelings that I had listening to Alison for the first time. That feeling that you’ve stumbled upon something timeless and a song/band that will be one of your favorites forever. The Dead Are Dumb continue the Slowdive vibes for me. I know, I know, no bands wants to just be compared to another band. But if you have to be compared to another record, Souvlaki is a pretty good company.

From there, Nothing breaks out into their own a little more. Vertigo Flowers has a surf rock/laid back California cool vibe. It’s still fuzzed out dream pop, but less “dreamy” if you will. ACB brings some heavy to the table. Not quite post-metal/sludge/doom metal but one of, if not the, heaviest tracks on the record. I love the opening riff. Sure, if super fuzzed out, but that’s what makes it great. Nineteen Ninety Heave brings back the super shoegaze/Slowdive feel. Which I have to say, I love!

And I get it. I keep beating this Tired of Tomorrow/Souvlaki comparison drum. But we’re talking about a genre define and generational record in Souvlaki. And Tired of Tomorrow rings just as true and genuine as Souvlaki. When I make the comparison what I’m trying to say is that I haven’t heard a shoegaze record as compelling or moving as Tired of Tomorrow since Souvlaki. It’s high praise!

And what I love even more is when the bands veers into their own thing. Curse of the Sun balances being a balls of wall radio rock track with a super melodic indie chorus. Eaten By Worms continues to showcase Nothing’s love of 90’s alternative rock.

There’s a lot of nostalgia happening when I put into words what I love about Tired of Tomorrow. But when I’m just listening to the record I get lost in how beautiful and compelling it is. Yes, I reflect on what it reminds me of, but I also recognize that Tired of Tomorrow is good enough to stand up on its own without having to reach back. I mean, the 90’s are back right? Tired of Tomorrow works on every level. 5 out of 5 Stars.

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Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost

There’s been a lot of hype around Holy Ghost. So I decided to give the record a spin. I mean, I live in Philadelphia now, so it only makes sense to keep up with the local scene.

I love that this is a true Side A/Side B record, with the first half of the record having been written by guitarist Jake Ewald and the second half by Brendan Lukens. And that information is good to have before diving into Holy Ghost. Because without it, the album seems disjointed and cohesive. But knowing that the album is literally spit in two gives it some perspective and makes the two sides more interesting.

The album’s opener/intro and title track, Holy Ghost, doesn’t really carry a lot of weight for me. I wish it was a little more fleshed out. As it stands, it really just serves as an intro into Wedding Singer and the actual start of the record. Wedding Singer I love! A stellar punk track that reminds me of Through Being Cool era Saves the Day. Most of Holy Ghost actually reminds me of that era of punk rock. Wedding Singer into Note To Self is my favorite moment on Holy Ghost. Note To Self is less fast paced punk and probably falls into the “emo” category, but it’s also the best hook on the record. Mass is a fun song in spirit but a smack of reality lyrically. Anyone who’s toured and been in love can relate to the lyrics of wanting to just be home and feeling like you’re missing out. Everyday is the mellowest track on the record and its emo perfection. The falsetto vocals at the ends of the first two verses is a nice touch. Hiding winds things down even more. It’s a slow progression to this point and the song goes from super chill to power ballad.

Side B of the record gets back to being super punk. Coding These To Lukens has a nice little mathy riff before the song kicks into high gear. Breathing In Stereo and What If are super pop punk tracks and remind me of Saves the Day more than any other tracks on the record. Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind has a pseudo 80’s new wave vibe thing going on. Just Another Face closes the album and it’s one of those moments where you feel like the band saved the best for last. It’s an excellent rock song and it kind of makes me wish the record had been more like this track.

Holy Ghost clocks in at 28 minutes, so it’s a quick listen. There are some great songs on Holy Ghost and some good songs. The only song that doesn’t ring a bell with me is the opening title track. But it did take me 6+ listens to really get in to Holy Ghost. I’m glad I kept going back to the record because there are some great tracks on Holy Ghost and knowing that there’s an A/B split helps gives the record some perspective. 4 out of 5 Stars.

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The Hotelier – Goodness

Sometimes all it takes is hearing a track that’s not even on the record to hook you. That’s what Goodness Pt 1 did for me. The promotional song that played on the trailer for Goodness was beautiful and haunting and when it had finished I hit play again and made sure I was getting a copy of Goodness.

Goodness is the best record I’ve heard in 2016 so far. The songs are catchy as hell and Christian Holden’s vocals emit passion and emotion that really makes the songs compelling. For anyone who thinks emo is still a dirty word, Goodness is the album that should shatter that stereotype. Great grooves, killer hooks, punk attitude, great lyrical imagery. Shall I go on?

Where Goodness Pt 1 was calming and moving, Goodness Pt 2 is raw and boisterous. The melody is the same for both songs, so Goodness Pt 2 instantly feels familiar, but where Holden’s vocals swooned over an acoustic guitar on Pt 1, they swell and yell over a blistering drum track for a good chunk of the song. When the song finally explodes open and we get the great guitar solo, I couldn’t help but smile. It’s a perfect rock song.

Piano Player starts as a jangly tune but slowly gives way to the effect as if we’re hearing the band playing in another room somewhere. It’s an interesting effect that allows us to hear an off-key piano riff come skipping briefly in and out over the track as if a ghost is playing in the background of this house where the band is. The effect only lasts for the first verse and we’re left with an absolutely beautiful track. It’s clear by the second track that The Hotelier isn’t interested in convention and giving listeners a simple verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge arrangement all the time. Two Deliverances seems to have a change in tone from the first two tracks on the records. It’s got a lot more attitude. It’s not mean, just has an attitude on the verse and the riff that gives that track this swagger. It’s like the spirit of Mick Jagger took over Holden for the verses.

Soft Animal is my favorite track on the record. It almost feels like a companion piece to Piano Player. What really gets me about this track are the vocals on the hook. The verbed out “choir” vocals that sing “Fawn doe, light snow” serve as a beautiful instrument that enhances Holden belting out the other chorus lines (which change with each pass of the chorus). I originally thought that vocal line was just a group singing O’s until I looked up the lyrics. The melody on the song is beautiful and the first time I heard the song I knew The Hotelier was going to be my new favorite band.

Goodness is a record with the potential to define the “emo revival” and be a generational album that people will reflect on for years to come. Yes, it’s that good! Like I said, Goodness is my favorite record of the year so far. 5 out of 5 Stars!

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