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Tours: Dustin Kensrue / Andy Hull

Dustin KensrueSinger-songwriter Dustin Kensrue has announced that he will he heading on tour with Manchester Orchestra‘s Andy Hull.  Kensrue last released his latest solo album, Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood, which dropped in 2016 via Vagrant Records.  

Tour dates are below.

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Tours: Rise Against / Deftones / Thrice

Rise Against, Deftones and Thrice tourOrange County, Calif., post-hardcore band Thrice announced they will be special guests on an upcoming tour headlined by Rise Against and Deftones. The North American summer tour will also feature Three Trapped Tigers and Frank Iero and the Patience in select locations. Order tickets here and check out the dates below.

Thrice continues to tour in support of their ninth album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, released May 2016 via Vagrant Records.

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Thrice Play ‘Black Honey’ For TBEITBN Sessions

ThriceOrange County, Calif., rockers Thrice has premiered a live session for the track Black Honey, a song off their new album titled To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, available now via Vagrant Records.

Tour dates are below.

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Tours: Thrice

ThriceThrice has announced that they will be heading on tour this Fall in support of their new album.  The album is titled Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere and was released back in May on Vagrant Records.  

Tour dates are below.

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Thrice – ‘Black Honey’

ThriceOrange County, Calif., rockers Thrice released a music video for Black Honey, a song off their new album titled To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere. Watch the video here.

To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere debuted on May 27, 2016 via Vagrant Records/BMG.

In support of their recent album, Thrice is currently on tour. Check out the dates below.

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Video: Thrice – Black Honey

ThriceThrice has premiered a new song from their upcoming new album.  The track is titled “Black Honey” and the disc is titled, Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, which is due out May 27, 2016 on Vagrant Records.  

Watch the music video below.  Pre-Orders are now available.

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Distin Kensrue – Wrecking Ball (Cover)

Dustin KensrueSinger-songwriter Dustin Kensrue has premiered a cover of Miley Cirus’ “Wrecking Ball.”  The song will appear on his upcoming album, Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood, which is due out March 18, 2016 via Vagrant Records.  

Stream the song below.  The disc will serve as a follow up to 2015’s Carry The Fire.  

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Video: Active Child – Midnight Swim & Darling

Active ChildLo-Fi indie outfit Active Child has premiered a new music video.  The video features the songs “Midnight Swim” & “Darling” from their newalbum Mercy, which wasset dropped on June 16, 2015 via Vagrant Records.  The band will be on tour in June with Low Roar.

Watch the video here.

 

Video: Active Child – 1999

LActive Childo-Fi indie outfit Active Child has premiered a a new music video.  The video features the song “1999” from their newalbum Mercy, which wasset dropped on June 16, 2015 via Vagrant Records.  The band will be on tour in June with Low Roar.

Watch the video below.

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Active Child Full Album Stream

Active ChildLo-Fi indie outfit Active Child has premiered a full stream of their upcoming album Mercy, which is set to drop on June 16, 2015 via Vagrant Records.  The band will be on tour in June with Low Roar.

Listen to the full disc here.

 

Active Child – Stranger

Active ChildLo-Fi indie outfit Active Child has premiered another single from their sophomore full length.  The album will be titled Mercy and is set to drop on June 16, 2015 via Vagrant Records.  The band will be on tour in June with Low Roar.

Check out the new tune here courtesy Stereogum.

 

Active Child – Never Far Away

Active ChildLo-Fi indie outfit Active Child has premiered another single from their sophomore full length.  The album will be titled Mercy and is set to drop on June 16, 2015 via Vagrant Records.  The band will be on tour in June with Low Roar.

Check out the new tune below.

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Dustin Kensrue Announces New Album; Debuts New Song

Dustin KensrueSinger, songwriter and guitarist Dustin Kensrue (Thrice) has announced details for his new album.  The disc is due out on April 21, 2015 on Staple Records/Vagrant Records and will follow his 2007 solo debut, Please Come Home.

Be sure to check out the brand new song, “Back to Back,” here courtesy Billboard.

Upcoming tour dates can be found below.

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Blitzen Trapper Release Live In Portland As Free Download

Blitzen TrapperIndie Act Blitzen Trapper has announced that they will be giving away their first ever live album, Live In Portland, on BandCamp. The 17-track album was recorded over three shows at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR on November 29th and 30th of 2013 on the VII tour.  Frontman Eric Earley comments on this holiday gift to fans:

“As much as I love studio recording, the live show is where it’s at these days.  So much of what Blitzen Trapper means is contained in our live shows, in the energy we try to convey and the stories I’m telling.  This is our first release of any live material and it’s got everything I like about our live show, it’s intimate, it’s messy and it’s grounded in our interaction on stage, just these guys that grew up together playing songs and messing around on a stage.  This is for all the fans who’ve seen us and know that when we’re performing we’re trying to give as much as we possibly can.  So it’s also our gift to the fans, a free live thing for the Holidays.  Hope you all enjoy it as much as we did playing it.”

 Fans can download the album for free or pay what they wish here.  Blitzen Trapper will begin recording their eighth studio album in early 2015.

Reunion: From Autumn To Ashes

From Autumn To AshesLong Island post hardcore band From Autumn To Ashes have announced they are reuniting after a 6 year break. The band initially called it quits back in 2008 following the release of their Live At Looney Tunes (Vagrant Records) album. The band have announced two confirmed appearances at Amnesia Rockfest 2015 in June through a post on their facebook page (below)

“Here you go. a LITTLE bit early. We’ll be playing at Amnesia Rockfest this June in Montebello Canada. Us and Refused are the only two bands announced so far but we hear it’s a pretty stellar line up. We’ll play some more shows as well.”

 

Bombay Bicycle Club – Carry

Bombay Bicycle ClubLondon’s indie rockers Bombay Bicycle Club announced details regarding their upcoming album and released their first single titled Carry Me. Listen to the single here.

BBC’s new record is set to drop Feb. 4, 2013 via Vagrant Records.

This record will follow the band’s 2011 release A Different Kind of Fix.

AlunaGeorge – Best Be Believing

Vagrant RecordsAlunaGeorge has debuted a brand new music video.   The video features their new single “Best Be Believing.”  The track appears on the recently released debut album Body Music, available now on Vagrant Records.

Watch the video below.

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In Honor: A Compilation To Beat Cancer

Various Artists

In Honor: A Compilation To Beat Cancer

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

As a reviewer, it is sometimes hard to review compilations that are for charities. You can’t just say “this cd sucks” without looking like an ass because of what the CD is for. In Honor: A Compilation To Beat Cancer doubles this problem since all proceeds from it will be split equally between two cancer programs, The Syrentha Savio Endowment and The Sean McGrath Fund; not just 5% which most compilations do. Luckily though, this compilation doesn’t “suck”. It is quite good. Sure, throughout the forty-two tracks split evenly across two discs, there are a few stinkers; more then on most compilations. But then, they have some good tracks too. Here’s a slight rundown of the two discs, the good and the bad.

Disc one starts off with a introduction from Dicky Barrett, the lead singer of The Mighty Might Bosstones. He sets the mood of the album, explaining what its for and the different foundations the money will be going to. After the message of thanks, The Descendents jump in with One More Day, which was released on Cool To Be You earlier this year. It is a good song about death and loss, so fits the album very nicely. JawbreakerFace To Face, and The Bouncing Souls all supply good, energetic live songs; where as My Chemical Romance give a absolutely horrible live version of Headfirst For Halos. Other standout tracks on this disc come from bands like Emanuel, Melee, JamisonParker, and Straylight Run, the last of the two giving acoustic versions of their popular songs while Melee gives a piano version of The War. Of course, there are a few songs which you will skip. I constantly find myself skipping over Thursday, Dolour, and Saves The Day‘s tracks.

Disc two kicks off with Thrice playing their popular Stare At The Sun acoustically; but for me, the real kicker is track two, I Hate This Stupid Bike by The Foreign Exchange (Featuring Sean McGrath).Taking Back Sunday gives the compilation an acoustic performance of You’re So Last Summer which they performed on 103.9 The Edge in Phoenix last winter. It is a decent song, but not nearly as good as the original. The best song on the disc, and the compilation, would definitely have to be awarded to Motion City Soundtrack with their acoustic version of My Favorite AccidentFuneral For A Friend‘s live version of Red Is The New Black along with The Loved Ones‘ Jane are also good tracks on this disc. Big D And The Kids Table send the album away with Moment Without An End, which is a perfect way to end the album. A great ska songs that leaves you happy and excited repeating the catchy chorus of “I want a moment without an end, I want to spend some time with my best friend“. Sure, once again they have weak songs here by bands like Moments In Grace, Fear Before The March Of FlamesGatsby’s American Dream and Piebald; but you still can’t forget the point of the album. Sure, there are a few bad songs on here, and a few really bad ones; but you can’t bad mouth the motivation behind the album which was to help those in need.

 

Thrice - Major/Minor

Thrice

Major/Minor

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Thrice’s career can be likened to that of a fine wine – the longer the group ages, the richer the outcome.  I was a latecomer to the group, consciously shelving them until their ambitious Alchemy Index series of EPs caught my ear (specifically organic folk leanings of IV: Earth).  Since then I’ve slowly been gaining an appreciation for the long running post-punk project, having modestly listened to Beggars, and most recently introducing their sixth formal full length, Major/Minor, into my listening habits.

Where Thrice once embraced the vibrant side of youthful pioneering, Major/Minor benefits from the quartet’s wisdom.  If the Alchemy Index hinted at an evolving sensitivity, Major/Minor feels collectively in tune with it.  Vocals and instrumental atmosphere sound as if they were sung from a weathered stage by the burdened mind of a remorseful drifter.  Acceptance, regret, and reconciliation flood the sonic soundscape with the powerful emotionalism implied in every word.

“I was always one of the good ones, keeping tabs on everyone else; sure that I was one of the chosen, but I was a child of hell” moans Dustin Kensrue in a moment of epiphany on “Blinded.”  Ending with the blunt realization “I never thought I could have been blinded, until I could no longer see,” our subject experiences remorse with helpless self-depreciation of past wrongs committed with willful intent.  Kensrue’s weighted delivery digs deep, communicating with a compunction typically reserved for grunge acts like Soundgarden.  The whole album feels like an uphill crawl, from introspective inquiries (“Treading Paper”) to the more encouraging moments like finding a light in a dark place (“Words In The Water”).  Imagery plays a crucial role in Kensrue’s song writing, and strong lyrics define many of Major/Minor’s high points.

Musically, Thrice remains consistent throughout, peaking and dropping between tracks with heavy reverberation and a suitably thick chord selection.  While the heaviest work resides across the first half, the back end includes those like “Anthology” and “Disarmed” which serve as a suitable lead out, and treat the “post” aspect of their genre well.

Thrice has finally settled on a sound I cannot only stomach, but thoroughly enjoy.  Major/Minor is the definition of a late-career resurgence.  If Thrice still means that decade old Artist In The Ambulancesound to you, then it’s time to revisit and revaluate.

Senses Fail - The Fire

Senses Fail

The Fire

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 2.5/5

 
 

 

 

Senses Fail have always been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since they released their debut EP in 2002 on ECA Records. Yes, I have one of those rare original copies – so I’ve been a fan for a while.

Yet, their output has always had their ups and downs. I’d love one album, thought their next was somewhat bland, loved the follow-up and then was disappointed again.  The distinction between their last two albums – Still Searching and Life Is Not A Waiting Room – was the most drastic. Still Searching was strong, energizing, impressive lyrically and a complete package. Hell, I think it even made it to my top ten list at the end of the year. Life Is Not A Waiting Room was pure shit – bland, forgettable and boring to the point that I can’t name you a single song from it.

I wanted The Fire to redeem them, to follow the trend and be an album that I loved. But it wasn’t. After the first few listens, all I felt was that Senses Fail had, once again, delivered a bland and generic album. It was heavier than most of their earlier stuff – that I couldn’t deny – but it was too polished, too clean and just oddly forgettable.

After a few more listens though, I realized that The Fire isn’t the same as Life Is Not A Waiting Room or Still Searching. Instead, The Fire is a grower. It’s a record that doesn’t jump at you but slowly grows. I still can’t get behind it as much as From The Depths of Dreams or Still Searching, but The Fire is growing on me as a complete album rather than individual tunes.

Sadly, very few tracks really stand out in the mix. There’s a few – Saint Anthony, Landslide and Nero for example – but they’re few and far between. Instead, The Fire works as a complete album. Playing through, building up intensity and momentum so that even though many tracks don’t really stand out per say, they work together in the package.

As mentioned before, it’s heavier than ever before. Former Hot Water Music bassist Jason Black has added some depth into the rhythm section and front man Buddy Nielsen has expanded his vocal reach. More so than ever before, Nielsen lets go and screams bloody murder. Yes, I like it more when he’s melodic but to deny his talents as a hardcore screamer would be impossible. In fact, the juxtaposition of screams and harmonious group chorus on Lifeboats makes the tune an album highlight. What starts off jarring and out of place soon grows and leads the song into one of the very few that can easily stand alone.

Lyrically, it appears that they’ve taken a step back as not many lines are really that memorable. It could be due to the fact that very few songs stick out which makes the lyrics unremarkable as well. This, once again, is disappointing because I’ve always enjoyed Nielsen’s lyrics despite their overly depressing content; there’s just no clever turn of phrase here that I want to repeat.

The Fire is a middle of the road Senses Fail album – not their best but not their worst. It has definitely grown on me but still feels as if it’s lacking something. It’s still a little too safe and too polished, but maybe a few more listens and it’ll sink in some more.

Senses Fail -Still Searching

Senses Fail

Still Searching

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

I loved Senses Fail‘s debut EP, Into The Depths Of Dreams. It was on constant repeat, and it’s one I still play often; but sadly, their sophomore released failed to live up to my expectations. Sure, Let It Enfold You had a fair few great songs (Lady In A Blue Dress and The Irony of Dying On Your Birthdayare two amazing songs that I love to hear) but overall, the CD wasn’t that entertaining – and one could say it was moderately forgettable. Still, the prospect of a new album excited me and I don’t know what it is, but Still Searching has arrived and has blown it’s predecessor out of the water. Because for whatever reason it may be, Senses Fail are back and ready to show the world what they’ve been hiding all this time.

Now, the obvious statement here is if you don’t like Senses Fail, then you should stop reading right away. This album won’t change your mind, but if you’re even remotely interested in the band, then this album will make you a fan. They’ve taken everything that was good on their two previous releases and improved on them, pushing them forward and make the album reach new heights that Let If Enfold You fell short of. Guitar solos, insane melodies and Buddy Nielson’s signature Jersey-accented vocal delivery are layered throughout the album. Chorus that pull the listener in, absorbing them and making them chant along, Still Searching has every quality that a memorable and long-lasting album needs. The songs pull the listener in, exciting them, energizing them and basically forcing them to hold your fist in the air and chant along.

There isn’t a single song that slows or hinders the flow of the album, nor one that is skipable. The songs all work together, each with a certain part that makes them stand out in the crowd. The album progresses nicely too, and as you pass the halfway point of the album you get thrown full force into a blistering climax that caps the album off perfectly and just sends Still Searching that much more forward. There’s the haunting lyrics of All The Best Cowboys, the soothing melodies of Lost And Found and even a very impressive instrumental, Negative Space, which leads into the slow-moving closer, The Priest & The Matador, reminding you instantly of the new My Chemical Romance single, Welcome To The Black Parade.

Every single aspect of this album lived up to my expectations. It’s energizing, memorable and so much fun to listen to and sing along with. If there were ever any doubts that Senses Fail were here to stay, once listen to Still Searching and you’ll be convinced that the band will have a long and illustrious career.

Senses Fail -Life Is Not A Waiting Room

Senses Fail

Life Is Not A Waiting Room

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 2.5/5

 
 

 

 

After releasing their best CD to date last year, Senses Fail had a lot to live up to. They went through some lineup changes and came back with the follow up to Still Searching – Life is Not A Waiting Room. Sadly, it does not live up to its predecessor and instead feels more like the uneven Let It Enfold You.

Still sticking to the same formula as they always do, Life Is Not A Waiting Room is a pop-punk record with some metal and emo edges; and musically, they stay as competent as ever. Slightly polished with some slick production, the record follows the same vein as all their prior releases but seems to have taken a step back compared to Still Searching. There isn’t as much diversity on the record and nowhere do they go above and beyond what is expected by them – something which they previously did on tracks like To All The Crowded Rooms, Even The best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues and The Priest and the Matador. Here they seem to go the safe route, with the necessary “heavy” song – Lungs Like Gallows – that has a double bass kick, heavy breakdowns, and Buddy Nielsen’s screaming instead of singing – mixed with the more melodic tracks like Family Tradition and the faster pop-punk leaning Garden State. There’s the occasional guitar flourish (see Wolves At The Door), but not enough to really grab you.

But what really drags the record down is the vocals. Buddy Nielsen has always been an impressive singer in an unique way. His signature Jersey-accented delivery was unique to him and while some critics found it irritating, the unique delivery and slight quiver in his vocal is what made it so endearing. On Life Is Not A Waiting Room, Nielsen has lost that edge on most of the songs as his vocals seem to fall flat in the mix, unable to really stand out and grab you. This was the biggest selling point of their prior releases, the attraction of the vocals which forced you to sing along and stuck the lyrics in his head. Now the lyrics generally go by unnoticed as they aren’t delivered in the same striking manner as they once were.

Similarly to Let It Enfold You, every couple tracks you get a song that stands out. More often than not, these songs are the few were Buddy’s vocals are higher in the mix. They are also the songs that use sing-along choruses and back-up vocals; an element which seems to be missing now that Mike Glita has left the band.

Songs like Family Tradition, Hair Of The Dog, Ali For Cody, and Map The Streets stand out; but a record where half the songs seem flat and over-produced isn’t strong enough to keep me coming back for more. I’ll just stick with Still Searching for the time being.

 

Senses Fail - Let It Enfold you

Senses Fail

Let It Enfold You

Drive-Thru Records / Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Ever since Senses Fail broke out onto the scene with their intense EP From The Depths Of Dreams, I’ve been waiting to see what they could do with a full length. After years of waiting, and another while added on to that wait due to label problems, they’re back with their debut album Let It Enfold You. With all the anticipation and high standards set by the EP, this somewhat feel short of my expectations on what I thought I could expect from Senses Fail.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the album. I gave it a good rating, I listen to it quite often. But you have to understand, I absolutely love the EP. Freefall Without A Parachute was on repeat on my playlist for a long while, and seeing them live was a pleasure. I had thought that a band I enjoyed so much could have grown musically within this gap of nothing new, but this doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s a good band playing good music, but it’s good music I’ve heard many times before done by other good bands. I don’t want to use the word ‘generic’ in here, but I’m tempted. I guess it’s a lesson in expectations; never set them high when you have no control over the process. There’s no way I could have said ‘hey Senses Fail, this sounds alot like what’s already happening in the scene. Maybe you should try something new.’ Instead, I have to sit back and wait for an album thats mediocre at best.

Catchy songs, interesting lyrics, but nothing new. It’s good for what it is, it’s grand entertainment and a good way to spend 44 minutes. But it’s nothing that we’re going to be talking about in the future when our children ask us about the music of our day. It’s not pushing the boundaries, it’s not discovering new area of the genre. It’s screamo at it’s normality, and simply put I’m getting tired of hearing the same songs played by different bands.

Saves The Day - Under The Boards

Saves The Day

Under The Boards

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Saves the Day have been a band that I’ve been meaning to listen to. This is the first time I have heard anything by Saves the Day, but I have to admit that their new album, Under the Boards, sounds like a series of bipolar cycles.

The title track of the album sets up the concept of the album to the listener. With suicidal and tragic lyrics set to a natural minor key and an epic climax, “Under the Boards” is unfortunately followed by its antithesis “Radio.” “Radio” comes off as an antidepressant road trip with lyrics such as, “Once in a while, making you smile by singing with the radio.” The rest of the album continues on this infectious high, only to stumble into “When I’m Not There”, a breakup song. But just like any manic-depressive cycle, “Lonely Nights,” the sugary get back together song, follows “When I’m Not There,” raising the album to euphoric heights until the end when the listener is reminded of the Under the Boards theme.

Striking musical similarities occur during on this album as well. “Get Fucked Up” sounds like Jordan Pundik’s (New Found Glory) voice over the melody of The All-American Rejects‘ “Move Along,” especially during the line “Every time I think about you.” “Turning Over in My Tomb” is also relatively similar to At the Drive-In’s “Non-Zero Possibility.” Both songs have the same structure and tone, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and believe it is a genuine coincidence.

Despite these downfalls, Under the Boards has some points of merit. “Stay,” the only acoustic song on the album, experiments with a ¾ time signature and stands out from the rest of the songs. “Woe,” the best song on Under the Boards, is charged with enough emotional intensity that makes me want to jump in front of a moving train with lead singer Chris Conley.

Under the Boards isn’t by any means a bad album, but it also will not stand the test of time. Individually, all of the songs on Under the Boards are great, but collectively they lack the coherency of an album. Even though I felt like I’ve heard a few of the tracks before, it wasn’t enough to think that Saves the Day sequenced another existing song. If you are interested in acquiring Under the Boards, I recommend buying it used.

New Amsterdams - Story Like A Scar

New Amsterdams

Story Like A Scar

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Everyone, whether you know it or not, owns something to Matt Pryor. As the mastermind behind the highly influential and now defunct Get Up Kids, he spawned countless impersonators in the indie rock scene – but even that wasn’t enough for Pryor. Despite his busy schedule, Pryor still went out and created his Kansas city side project, The New Amsterdams to much praise and an incredibly enthusiastic welcome. And it’s because of that that you feel slightly disappointed by Story Like A Scar. It’s not that Story Like A Scar is a bad album, because it’s not, but after releasing four solid full lengths, you can’t help but feel that this could have been so much better than it actually is.

On their last CD, Worse For The WearThe New Amsterdams gave their ever growing fan base a indie rock masterpiece with songs like Hover Near Fame and From California; but here, they seem to have taken a completely different root – going for a much more prominent “roots rock” album with lap steel, banjo, harmonica, stand-up bass and even the brushed drums. While the album kicks off pretty strongly with The Death Of Us, it soon starts to falter as the songs seem to be more laid back than before and there isn’t that certain hook which really captivated the listeners on their previous efforts. Sadly, this is most evident in Pryor’s vocals. His emotion seems to be gone completely, especially on the five and a half minute Your Ghost which is placed horribly half way through the album and really disrupts the flow of the album. Luckily, he picks up the pace a bit with the following two songs, Intelligent Design and Calendar Days (which are the two standout tracks of the album).

Really, the album is just so much more mellow than it’s predecessor and lacks that raw emotion which made Worse For The Wear so enjoyable. if this was done by any other band, Story Like A Scar would be looked at in an entirely different light, but since it’s a New Amsterdams record, you can’t help but feel a little cheated – after all, some of the free demos on their site sound better than the tracks on the full length.

Murder By Death - Good Morning, Magpie

Murder By Death

Good Morning, Magpie

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Murder By Death are one of those bands I’ve always enjoyed but never fully submerged myself with.  Over the course of a few years, I’ve seen them several times in Edmonton and they’ve always been impressive – although playing in the world’s biggest mall doesn’t necessarily match the vibe of their gloomy, dingy, bar-rock sound. Yet, I’ve only really heard In Bocca Al Lupo and the odd single here and there – so like I said, I’ve always enjoyed them but never fully emerged myself within their music.

That was until their fifth album, Good Morning, Magpie.

I’ve had the eleven track album on repeat almost non stop for several weeks now, promoting it to friends, praising it and even convincing my dad to give it a spin. Why? Well, Good Morning, Magpie is phenomenal.

Going into the deep woods of Appalachia for two whole weeks with just “a tent, a fishing pole, a guitar and a lot of paper,” vocalist and guitarist Adam Turla came out of his two week adventure with most of the record written – and that simplistic, stripped down to essentials sensation is felt in every song on the album.  The album is dark and gloomy, built on down and out themes, but embedded within it is a sense of optimism, hope and recovery.

Turla’s low Johnny Cash-like baritone vocals are unmatched in today’s scene and bring back visions of gloomy bar bands from the sixties. The entire album lives in a lower registry than most of the acts coming out today which not only delivers a much needed breath of fresh air but proves that a band can create a lasting album without moulding themselves to the ever changing whims of the music industry. When Turla isn’t stealing the show, cellist Sarah Balliet shines through, creating a soaring rhythm section and sometimes (see Foxglove, an easy highlight of the album) becomes the complete vocal point of the track.

Whether they’re romanticising about their favourite drinks – like the thirty second opener Kentucky Bourbon and the rousing drinking anthem As Long As There Is Whiskey In The World – or interchanging the topics of shaving and murder with the Sweeny Todd influenced You Don’t Miss Twice (When You’re Shavin’ With A Knife)Murder By Death remain true to themselves, their fans and their sound.  No other album in recent memory creates such a textured and well developed album that is able to establish a dark and foreboding mood like Good Morning, Magpie; and it’s safe to say that this will not be the last you hear of the album.

Moneen - Red Tree

Moneen

The Red Tree

Smallman Records, Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

In an effort to cut the length of my reviews, i’ll start out by saying I love this album and I love MoneenMoneen are one of Canada’s most underrated bands involved in the “punk scene” and their latest album “The Red Tree” is sure to tide over a new wave of fans. With emotionally charged vocals complimented by experimental epic-like journeys through the high’s and low’s of each note, people might not fully be able to appreciate Moneen from a first listen. For me that’s one of the major draws to The Red Tree, its none of the “radio friendly, throw on some make-up, lollipop punk” that a lot of labels are putting out today. The album on all fronts is filled with a lot of depth.

I have a hard enough time to find the right words to describe how good this CD really is let alone to attempt to describe Moneen‘s sound. Its crazy and all over the place yet soft and beautiful, fast and slow, happy and sad, loud and aggressive, delicate and passionate and simply put absolutely amazing. “Don’t Ever Tell Locke What He Can’t Do” and songs like “Bleed And Blister (version 3)” will have you putting your best mosh on while singing along loudly within your first couple of listens. However the real depth of the album lies in songs like “The Day No One Needed To Know” and “There Are A Million Reasons…” that are so powerful they will move you to tears. The Red Tree is a perfect blend of songs that will intrigue you instantly, and beautiful, graceful songs that will keep you coming back for more giving you a chance to slowly grasp the fullness found within each riff, groove and lyric. Lyrically you would be hard pressed to find a shallow line as Kenny writes a lot of “Life, Tragedy and Disaster” about real life experiences, and not just about his own personal experience but that of others. “Nothing’s O.K. We’ve been lied to. We’re so frail, You can pray, Scream out his name. While they all keep sinking away“, is a perfect example of the intensity of the meaningful lyrics that need to be heard to capture the passion behind the voice. Musically Moneen often branch out from your standard power chord riff into something a bit more experimental trying to discover new sounds and new ways to portray the sound they want you to hear. It all flows and intertwines together with a perfect mixture of everything with never too much or too little of anything.

In every aspect The Red Tree is stunning. If you are slightly enticed by any of Moneen‘s previous songs, then you owe it to yourself too purchase this masterpiece.

Moneen - Saying Something You Have Already Said Before: A Quiet Side Of Moneen

moneen

Saying Something You Have Already Said Before: A Quiet Side Of Moneen

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Generally an acoustic version of a song is as self explanatory as that – an acoustic version of a previously released song. However trying to define a Moneen “acoustic” track for someone who hasn’t heard one is as hard as explaining how a Nintendo Wii works to people who haven’t tried it. Instead of doing the usual and stripping down a song to a rawer acoustic and vocal performance, Moneen took 4 of their already epic-like, powerful emotionally charged songs from “The Red Tree” and pushed them to a new level. While the word “acoustic” can be found on the back of the album cover in brackets at the end of each song title, it’s really deceiving as each song is so much more than just a toned down acoustic performance.

A more fitting word for “acoustic” would have been “reinterpretation”. Each song has been transformed with slight tweaks, changes and a complete reworking of its musical structure to create a more passionately moving experience for the listener. Its as if a breath of fresh air has tenderly brought forth new life in these songs that are able to stand on their own even though they are “reinterpretations” of original songs. While re-recorded with some acoustic guitars, these songs are revitalized by the use of string arrangements complimented with beautiful piano work and more unique sounds and effects that can only be expressed as powerful noise. Singer Kenny Bridges vocals delicately soar above with intensity, keeping up with the profound feeling captivated in music that often makes the reworking better than the original. Along with new touches of piano and string arrangements to “Red Tree” favourites like, “There Are A Million Reasons...” and “This Is All Bigger Than Me“, is a previously unreleased b-side, “Prepare Yourself… The Worst Is Yet To Come“. This track on it’s own is a good song, but when it’s compared to the rest of the EP it doesn’t quite capture that same magic distancing itself on an astounding EP.

On the other side of the disc is the DVD portion of the package, a short but sweet segment of Moneen live at the Toronto Opera House. I believe it’s the first 4 songs of their set which gives fans a glimpse of their talent in their live performance and close to flawless live offerings of each song. Having seen Moneenlive a few times before I did notice the DVD was missing an important aspect of a real Moneen show – energy. Whether this is due to the camera work and angles used or a less all around energetic performance, it was slightly disappointing that even though it sounds amazing the energy didn’t translate as well to personally seeing them live.

The other small gripe I have is the overall presentation of both the DVD and the actual album, which have been given minimal effort with little thought put into them. Outside of the 4 live songs there is no extra content or features and its a shame that an EP this beautiful is packaged with such a bare covering. There’s no booklet, insert or any other artwork aside from the cover, leaving a digipack with 3 of its 4 sides solid black with a few notes written on top. It’s disappointing more time wasn’t put into making this album come to life with an encompassing presentation because this is a special EP that every fan needs to have.

Moneen - Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?

Moneen

Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?

Smallman Records / Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Canadian outfit .Moneen. deliver with their first Vagrant Records release, Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now. This, to me, is what music should be. Pure, powerful, unpredictable, and honest. With many other artists you can tell their influences just by listening to a song, but with .Moneen. it’s a whole different story. This is uncomparable to anything I’ve ever heard before, and truely more than music. This is art.

The album kicks off with the title track which doesn’t disapoint. Rapid strums and off-timed beats make this a memorable song, which really makes you wonder about ‘true’ happiness. Keep going through the album and the rock don’t stop! My personal favourite is the second song, Start Angry, End Mad which starts out with a piano intro, leading into a nonstop assault for the senses. To me the song talks about how totally blinded people can get by anger, and how they may say/do things they don’t really mean, and how they should really think about what has happened before doing something you’ll regret.

These guys don’t believe in the simple one-two beat, power chord, simple crap that many, many bands are putting out these days. With each song you hear something different, you dig deeper into what is truly .Moneen.. The whole album really diserves a good listen before anyone can really decide what they think. Personally I think this is a love/hate band, there is no fence sitting here. To me it seems to really enjoy and appreciate these songs you really have to be a fan of music itself, and have a knowledge of what it takes to write a song. If there were a song writing guideline laying around somewhere, .Moneen. would find it, rip it up and burn the remains. This is truly great music, a great band.

Pick up this album, give it a try. And if you have a chance I highly reccomend the live show. Kenny, Peter, Erik and ‘Hippy’ put on a wicked act that is hard to follow, and the ammount of tours these guys get to play on makes it easy for you to catch them play multiple times a year.

Rogue Wave Announce New Full Length; Stream New Song

Vagrant RecordsRogue Wave has announced that they will be releasing their fifth studio album, Nightingale Floors. The disc is due out June 4, 2013 via Vagrant Records. This release follows the band’s 2010 album Permalight.

The band has also debuted a brand new song titled “College” which can be heard below.

Read More…

Matt Pryor - Confidence Man

Matt Pryor

Confidence Man

Vagrant Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Matt Pryor has had a prolific music career in the underground community. First came his breakout act: The Get Up Kids; a band that personified the emo/indie uprising of the turn of the century. I’m not talking about the jet black,swooping hair, polished emo of today, but the real stuff akin to The Impossibles, Saves The Day and Jawbreaker. He then went on to his first “solo” group, The New Amsterdams, which was essentially him with a backing band. After that he went under another alter-ego, The Terrible Twos and released a kids record originally written for his child. Now Pryor is stepping out of the shadows of a moniker and going for a full fledge solo career and Confidence Man is the starting point of that career.

On the record Pryor seems to have once again found his stride. With The New Amsterdams there was always something missing. Yes, there were some sparkling gems in there, Hover Near Fame and From California still receive countless plays on my ipod; but for the most part the records felt somewhat forced and lacked a flow which made them difficult to play all the way through. Confidence Man sees Pryorpicking up where Hover Near Fame left off and building on it. The songs are still soothing, powerful, emotional and catchy but also have a stronger sense of unity threaded throughout them as Confidence Manis built on songs that work by themselves but sound better combined.

He has taken the route that more and more old punks are taking these days: the route of folk; and at it’s heart, Confidence Man is a folk album. It’s fifteen songs of carefully plucked melodies on an acoustic guitar with Pryor carefully crooning overtop. He has a poppier delivery than the likes of Chuck Ragan and Tom Barry but isn’t as polished or whiny as City & Colour or Bright Eyes either. Throughout the record Pryor continually spices things up with the inclusion of additional instruments to round off the sound. A Totally New Year has a energetic vibe in it, pushed forward by constant clapping and a full band pop-instrumentation. Loralai, the lead single, has the most intricate guitar melody of the record and stands out with layered vocals and feels like a mixture between Clapton‘s Layla and Green Day‘s Good Riddance. On Still, There’s A Light, he brings in a banjo to pluck a few chords while he breaks out an harmonica on the title track.

Each song is bringing with, pardon the pun, confidence. The lyrics are heartfelt love songs that are sincere in their honesty and never hit you over the head with it. Even when he does on the three minute ballad, I Wouldn’t Change A Thing, it’s done with such conviction that you just fall in love with the song anyway. Some lyrics are tinged with sense of quirkiness like “I don’t want you to know/that I don’t want you to go/because you’ve got my only set of keys” and others are a call to arms (“We all have a dark side that is ours and ours alone / crawl out of that dark hole and scream damn / damn it all”) and together they combine for a record that is diverse and relatable.

After more than a decade of fronting different bands, Pryor has moved onto the solo route; and while some will always yearn for the Get Up Kids days of old, they’ll be hard pressed to write off Confidence Man as a good start to what will surely be a good career.