REVIEW: Lemuria – "The Distance Is So Big"

With the release of their third LP, Lemuria is in a weird position. They continue to grow creatively, but there always seems to be a push back from the fans. There was a sizable group of people who were disappointed by Pebble. Those people were missing out. The main complaint seemed to be that it didn’t sound like what they wanted. It would have been easy enough for them to remake Get Better. But it wouldn’t have been genuine.

That said, The Distance Is So Big is a great example of that genuineness. The record builds on the more mid-tempo, post-hardcore influenced sound the band started playing around with on Pebble. It is, however, a slightly happier sounding record. If Pebble was the blood and guts record, The Distance Is So Big is other side of it. It excels in that the lyrical content has gotten stronger.

This record is really a showcase of Alex Kerns’ growth as both a songwriter and musician. His vocals have gotten stronger, and his range has widened. While he still has his usual delivery in these songs, he has gotten away from the almost monotone delivery of the past. It is a great change. This is most noticable on “Clay Baby.” This isn’t to say that Sheena Ozzella doesn’t shine on this record. While only penning one song, the songs she sings lead on continue to be among the strongest. She goes between mellow and poppy at the drop of a hat. “Bluffing Statistics” being a great example of the former, “Scienceless” being a great example of the latter.

This is really a nice middle ground between Get Better and Pebble. The moments of indie pop absolutely shine. The mid-tempo, post-hardcore nails it. The 90s alternative influenced songs shine. This is in part to the spot on production of J. Robbins. The addition of Max Gregor on bass is also a key reason. He adds a great amount of depth to the record. While the previous bassists have been great, he seems to gel with the band.

More or less, this is the perfect record for Lemuria to put out. Even the people who were turned off by Pebble can get into this. The record is a great middle between the prior full lengths. In a just world, they would be the biggest band in the world.

Lemuria
BandCamp
Bridge Nine
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REVIEW: Candy Hearts – "The Best Ways To Disappear"

Candy Hearts, man. They are a band I have been following since their first record back in 2010, and I have been impressed by how their records just keep getting better. As such, their new EP is following that trend.

If there was a record that is going to make this band huge, The Best Ways To Disappear is it. It is the best they have ever sounded, they have the Bridge Nine promotional machine behind them (via Chad Gilbert’s Violently Happy imprint), and a batch of really great songs. This record is the logical extension of Everything’s Amazing And Nobody’s Happy. By that, I mean that they have further honed their songwriting. Like that record, these songs are quick shots of energy. The main difference being that this EP feels more focused and is helped by damn near perfect production.

There isn’t much else I can say about this band that I haven’t covered in the other two reviews I have done of their records. The songs sound punchy as usual. The best part is that they have finally come out of the shadow of their influences. While the record treads very common subjects, namely the classic indie/pop punk love songs, it does it in a fun way. Bad Idea, the album opener, sets a hell of a tone.

It is amazing how great production can make a record. New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert fucking nailed it. If his production on Nothing To Prove by H2O revitalized that band, it did a hell of a lot to finally have Candy Hearts sound as great as they should.

Everyone who is stoked on indie/pop punk should get this. It is a no brainer.

Candy Hearts
Violently Happy / Bridge Nine
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REVIEW: Lemuria – "Pebble"

Lemuria is one of those bands that has evolved with each release. Their first release in 2004, technically a self released demo, was more or less a pop punk record. It steered clear of the genre bullshit. It was not just reheated Ramones riffs. But, the energy was more that of pop punk. As time progressed, they started to play with their sound. Allowing songs to get a little longer, a little more complex, and a little more thought out. Especially lyrically. I mean, the lyrics and delivery on the song “Let’s Think About What Just Happened” (from the 2004 demo) are a little awkward.

Between then and now, the band put out some 7 inches and splits (notably they did a split with Kind Of Like Spitting. The split with them features the KOLS song that I named the blog after). They collected all their 7″ material and compilation tracks on a release called The First Collection in 2007. While being a compilation release, it has held up really well, and does not sound disjointed, save for maybe a track or two. For people like me, this was the first introduction to the band.

In 2008, they released Get Better. It was the debut full length, and was a a hell of a debut at that. This release kind of solidified what this band was capable of. Fast pop punk songs, mid tempo indie song, and great lyrics start to finish. In my opinion, there was no filler on that album. So, yeah, they set the bar pretty high for themselves.

So, in 2011, we now have Pebble. It is out on, oddly enough, hardcore stalwart label Bridge Nine. Which is kind of a weird pairing, given the style Lemuria plays vs. what B9 is known for. J Robbins did the productions, and I am a fan of his work. He has produced so many of my favourite bands, including Jawbreaker, Braid, and The Promise Ring. He did a great job. The tones are great. It sounds clean without sound over polished. So, that is great.

But, the record has some rough patches. It falls into, what I call, “I’m Henery The VIII, I Am syndrome.” Less Than Jake is guilty of this a lot as well. Basically the second verse is the same as the first. Not to shit on this type of thing, as it is pretty common, but it can get old pretty quickly. You have to make sure that the verse you are repeating is a hell of a verse. Not every song is guilty of this. The most notable offender is the song Pleaser. Which is about 90% made up of the lyric “I am hinting hard, I am a hard hinter. I am a pleaser, and I am hinting hard.” This song goes on for damn near four minutes. It is a great song, but I think it provides a good example.

The album opener, Gravity, is not what one would expect from a pop-punk/indie band. Very slow, very calm, sounding not unlike a song The xx would put out (sans the overused synth lines that The xx are so fond of). More or less, an ok song. But, not really indicative of the album’s tone. There is not really any fast songs, it is mostly a mid tempo affair, but it has all the catchy hooks one would expect.

Lyrically, this album just seems darker. I mean, Get Better had some less than cheerful lyrics (see Hawaiian T-Shirt or Lipstick). Pebble tops that. I mean, one of the most cheerful and poppy songs on is about sexual abuse. Seriously, check out the song Bloomer.

Sheena Ozzella sounds fantastic on the record. Her vocals sound better than ever. The same is true for Alex Kerns. They are very good at doing back and forth vocals. The vocals are mixed well, and stand out clearly over their guitar and drums, respectively. Looks like, on this release, the bass duties were filled by Kyle Paton. He has since left the band due to immigration troubles with Canada. As I mentioned previously, the bass sounds great on here. Check out the song Chautauqua County to see what I mean.

One issue I have about this record is that the songwriting does not have the split that Get Better (or even The First Collection) had. This record was very much the Alex Kerns show. Out of 11 songs, he wrote 10 of them. Lyrically, Sheena was only involved with the lyrics of the last song, The One. Which I think is one of the best songs on the album. I mean, yeah, the ratio usually falls in his favor. If you go to their site and look at the lyrics, he has more writing credit overall. But, I feel like this album was too reliant on him. I like him as a song writer, he has a demo album online of at If You Make It that was really good. I just wish Sheena had more songs on the album. I think this might have helped squelch the above mentioned Henery The VIII, I Am syndrome. Not a deal breaker by any means though. But, I really think I would have rather had a Sheena song instead of Yellowstone Lady. Just saying.

All in all, a good record. I think my expectations were really high for this, given how much I loved Get Better. This being out so early in the year, I am not sure how it will hold up against other releases this year. But, it has set the bar pretty high. If you like indie pop, do not sleep on this record. While you are at it, get their split with the Cheap Girls too.

Buy it from the band directly
Buy it Bridge Nine Records (where you can choose if you want CD, vinyl, digital, whatever).