31/08/2012

I tweeted once something along the lines of ‘I believe the world would be a better place (possibly world peace worthy) if every band sounded like The Early November’, and still to this day, I somewhat stand by that statement. Their sound previously was one of teenage hope and lust, fear and excitement for the future, uniting and prevailing with an intense and ever-popular live show; they helped solidify a sound and generation. Init.

Excited was an understatement when news of a new album was in the pipeline, supplemented by a teaser video including interviews, and demos, which left us has been twenty-somethings bursting. July, eight months later, finally saw the release of In Currents to a flourish of praise and see the band pick up exactly where they left off, but with a more matured, relaxed rock sound than before, having now experimented with different tones, ideas and attempting something new, rather than an attempt of a follow-up to trump The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path, which truly was a stand alone epic (story-wise – let’s not get ahead of ourselves) masterpiece.

With that, it was easy to see the progression and development the members had made over the past six years through different (and fantastic: I recommend checking out ‘The Best Happiness Money Can Buy’ by I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business, ‘Reaction’ by Ace Enders and a Million Different People, and ‘Run’ by Jeff Kummer) side projects and time apart. The Early November grew up, and found a way of expressing that perfectly, which in turn was reflected back onto their fans in just such a way to suit. The stand out track, musically at least, for me, was ‘Guilt and Swell’. It seemed to blend both the old and the new in perfect harmony, crashing between the two. It’s emo-tinged bridge grabbed my attention: at first, the lyrics struck a chord with myself, in annoyance; I deciphered them as “If you wake up, will we break up?”, which I imagined a sleeping beauty-esque  woman laying undecided with guilt (ironic), dyed hair, with a couple of daddy issues… It frustrated me that they couldn’t stray from such ideals that clearly no longer plagued the well-versed men and felt that it even ruined the song; “Oh, I knew it was too good to be true”! Alas! Persistence prevailed, and as I listened again and again, and with the help of Google, the words were misconstrued; they actually read “If you wake up, will we become, you're wasted by design?”, and faith was restored once more. Simply put anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to In Currents, and I would highly recommend it if you wish to reminisce your youth, with a new modern touch. This time you can enjoy Ace and his crew with a beer (legally).

With the summer coming to an end, I figured it’d be nice to lightly discuss what (musically) has kept me busy throughout. What records have made me hit the repeat button, what’s been added to my iPhone and what hidden gems I have discovered along the way amidst the God awful weather…

-

I’m under the impression that I’m the only person in and around Peterborough to adore Pollution People. I just love their unique spin on violence and mathcore, their howling vocals and cleverly mocking song titles, their apocalyptical post-hardcore thrash guitars and gnawing bass. They are chaos, and they are cool.

It was last year that they decided to mix everything up; being an avid fan from the release of their first EP (Noise, Noise and More Noise), I was able to loosely follow the developments as they unfolded. Their debut album didn’t see them attain as much success as I believe they deserved, albeit still they were able to tour throughout America continuously, nothing seemed to change; groundhog day, essentially. It was from this, the (now) quartet changed their name from Duck Duck Goose to Pollution People in hope of a fresh start (the name derives from the album Off Yourself, came the song ‘Pollution People’). After a one-track demo, Future Trash was released in 2011, and I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of the record mid-June to help gloom up my summer to continue my obsession.

Future Trash seems to be earthier than anything Duck Duck Goose produced – holding ties with crust punk, contemporary heavy hardcore, and old-basement skramz style emerging post-hardcore. A less polished sound emits from the speakers, but to a good and almost-crazy effect; two-steps forward (that’s a pun), one step back. The style resembles the gnarly birth-child of an early Converge record and The Power & the Glory (a short lasting Deathwish band).

They exude their past endeavours expertly, and eerily beautifully, in the final track ‘Amputee’: “Got my teeth cut up how sweet, I’m experienced audio amputee. Got my lungs dried up how sweet, I’m experienced audio amputee”. Accompanying this was a freaky, indie, arty style music video (their only one to date; amusing as it is…), derailing from the chaotic tendencies they are well-known for; to shock and surprise (content of the video alone!) new listeners for the truth and realness of the band. I’ll repeat myself once more: They are chaos, and they are cool.

-

Brighton’s Gnarwolves have firmly kept my spirit in good order with the release of their debut EP Cru this summer, with their fast-paced, cheeky, up-beat, underground anthem like qualities. My mind almost scream “Ahh yes!”, as my teeth begin to show, bearing a grin whilst my insides cry out for beer and barbecued meat as I listen to this explosion; similar to a mash-up of Lifetime, American Football and the early Basement days, Cru is a quick burst of summer fun; songs to reflect summer mornings, summer afternoons and summer nights. Nice one, lads.

-

One of my favourite artists is Keaton Henson, so it’s only natural that when the clock strikes midnight and I’m home alone, I put on a Keaton record and solemnly contemplate life in order to gain understanding, or whatever I’m supposed to do at that time. Henson released The Lucky this summer, and whilst I do not find The Lucky as profound and penetrating as Dear…, largely for the reason it seems to be a continuation; highlighting little development within Keaton’s inner-self and struggle, presented musically (obviously) on his heartache and woe, I still find it an impeccably beautiful listen, concise to its message that you’re probably going to get your heart broken sooner or later and end up dying alone. Never mind, aye.

The Lucky too is vastly different from Metaphors, which showcased more up-beat and had a more musical backing – released only a year before. I truely love listening to the lump in Henson’s throat as he spits out his anger in ‘To Your Health’, as if he is finally coming to terms with reality and facing it head on, becoming aggressive, and purging himself of his demons. Again, the simple stylistics of an isolated, eerie electric guitar ringing in the distance works wonders at creating an atmospherically chilling four-track record that won’t be easily forgotten.

-

I’ve often neglected Architects over the past few years, following the release of Hollow Crown in 2009, and a mediocre live performance at a local venue in January for its release, I felt they changed a little too much too quick, and it became a lacklustre affair for me to enjoy Architects. Not to discredit them, the album itself was truly a great step, naturally propelling them to mainstream success, and the more developed sound worked wonders, along with the addition of Carter’s well-toned singing voice, but the technical ability (and possible djent influence) became hidden under the layers of commercial aspiration. Musically, yes, it was fantastic, but to me it simply strayed from the original Architects ideals – even if Carter’s lyrics were considerably more thought-out and better executed. This year, guitarist Tom Searle even confronted their journey’s twist: “We're not a band that should be on daytime radio and even when we got that stuff, it felt a bit uncomfortable. I think we were out of our comfort zone and the shoe didn't fit”.

Nonetheless, ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ hit me like a speed train; I was absolutely floored with the heavy tones, crushing riffs and menacing breakdown. Same-old shamefully disappoint lyrics music video aside (Searle stated it was to “capture the madness that is America, be it good or bad”), I was hooked on the song and left with appreciation for the band once more. It appears as if (I hope anyway), with the world now at their feet, they are attempting to return to their roots, stronger and far more experienced. Searle stated “I wanted to go back to being heavier and I think we've got our balls back”. A month or two passed, and the socio-political based record, Daybreaker, was released.

Whilst I am yet to deluge personally into the depths of the full lyrical content, I am aware of their existence and aims (I say aims as I am unsure how well they achieve the messages they wish to get across – critics, in the majority, do seem to be in the favour of this), tossing between the wars of politics and religion, distancing from personal issues. Carter stated: “It was the first time we'd written a song about something that was relevant socially and not just based on what I had directly experience through life or something else. It was bigger-picture, and when we released it that song got people talking about something broader”.

Bradley Zorgdrager of Canadian music magazine Exclaim! published an unfavourable review of the albums sound however. Stating that although the tracks are "catchy and occasionally compelling, they're essentially identical and formulaic, as the atmospheric build-ups and soaring riffs make way for boring breakdowns. The metal-influenced parts sound forced to appease fans disappointed with their last release, which results in Daybreaker sounding more like a business move than a work of art", which to an extent, is a statement I can agree with, but I still respect such a decision, and found myself enjoying the record thoroughly.

Oscillating between the two styles of Hollow Crown and Nightmares, Daybreaker was a smash in my books; embellishing a post-hardcore vibe, but with the harshness increased which worked better than most to create their most well-rounded release to date; musically and content based.

-

“Aright it's Childish, baby, Mr. Talk-About-His-Dick-Again; nerdy ass black kid, whatever man, I'm sick of him”: After an absolutely blindingly brilliant untitled collaboration with Beck realised via. his website (later to be named ‘Silk Pillow’), Childish Gambino hit top form with a free download of his brand new mixtape, Royalty. Now with the finical backing and an army of well-known contributors and producers, Donald Glover is quickly becoming one of the most dominate names in all of American modern day culture, let alone hip-hop, let alone television; America!

Lyrically, Gambino doesn’t change his stripes; talking about himself, his women, his money and his haters, yet somehow makes it all new and refreshing, packing his songs full of witty lines and clever metaphors spread over an array of fast, heavy beats, slow and mellow numbers, electronic buzzes and old R&B sounds: a true smörgåsbord!

Tina Fey’s musical debut features on the final track of Royalty, ‘Real Estate’, and umm… It’s a bit of a letdown. She’s incredibly talented, and awfully smart, so I was surprised to listen to a simple, lifeless, unimaginative, uninspired and vanilla (ha!) verse, consisting of only a few bars, poorly read (I can see what she was trying to do, convey her character into music, but it didn’t work, and shouldn’t be transgressed into music; keep it for the screen, Tina!) and lyrically really weak, which became embarrassing and sadly, not funny. It, for me, did tarnish the song, as the build-up to her piece at the end was elongated to the point where listeners already were tuning out and ready to hit the next button on iTunes. It is for this reason also, it becomes hard to see Glover as a straight-up rapper; yet again merging his two personalities. It was a disappointing end to such a promising, and enjoyable, record.

One of my firm favourites from the mixtape has to be the cool, calm and bass heavy ‘Make It Go Right’ featuring the very talented (whom I knew of nothing about before this) Kilo Kish. The best thing about this song, as shallow as it is, is her voice. It’s so easy to close your eyes, melt into the sound, and pretend that Natalie Portman is rapping to you, about you, lusting after you – their voices are so similar!

Royalty, along with Camp, are moreish records that have definitely kept up a positive vibe throughout my summer.

-

I’ve also been listening to the latest Verse and mewithoutYou releases, but I can’t be bothered to write about them.

-

The very late addition to my iTunes was the Hellacious battery in the form of While She Sleeps’ debut album, This is the Six; a band I have raved about since the start of this column, for good reason, and an album I have much anticipated since the news of its arrival several months back. In quick succession, the band released several hammering videos, songs of all different styles with slick riffs, killer gang vocals and head-crushing grooves, which is exactly what the remaining songs off the album delivered also; including the outro track (‘Reunite’), which is a lovely completion to their journey so far, respectful and unrushed.

'Seven Hills’ was a grower for me, I found it hard to get into, but on further listening, it has become insanely infectious; ‘Be(lie)ve’ has a catchy n’ killer chorus – showcasing caged in brute force; and ‘This is the Six’ peaks at the top, it smashes you in face, and takes your teeth as trophy keepsakes. I simply cannot stop playing it. Safe to say, This is the Six did not disappoint and it will remain firmly on my iPhone for some time to help wake me up in the morning, pick up my spirits during the day and ultimately (as This is Hell put it) head bang my life away.

No comments:

Post a comment