REVIEW: Perennial – “Early Sounds For Night Owls”

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Perennial really could have played it safe. They have a pedigree, being made up of members of Lion Cub and Aeroplane, 1929. It would have been easy to stick within the basic indie/indie pop framework. It probably would have sounded really good too. Perennial, to their credit, decided to forgo that. They decided to experiment with their sound. And it seems that they are all the better for it. Early Sounds For Night Owls is a record full of energy and aggression. It’s rough around the edges, and doesn’t hesitate to show teeth. Perennial would probably best be described as a punk rooted post-hardcore band. And Early Sounds For Night Owls has all things you would want from that genre.

The band wastes no time in showing what they have to offer. “La Fugue Pour Béton brut” sets a great tone. It comes in with high energy. It also has a very solid groove to it. It’s melodic, but not poppy. That is a phrase that came to mind a few times while listening to this EP. “Massachusetts Scenic Byways” is a definitely a rager, but never devolves into discordant, hardcore barking.

One of my favorite things on this EP is the transition from “Circle/Pivot/Circle” to “Early Sounds For Night Owls.” The former is a short, melodic interlude. Definitely a more delicate sound than is present on the rest of the record. It really feels like an extended intro to the latter than anything else. It helps build to a great payoff when “Early Sounds For Night Owls” breaks through.

There isn’t a whole lot more to say about this record. It’s a great combination of punk rock melody and driving post-hardcore. If that appeals to you, this is a total no brainer.

Perennial
Bandcamp / Buy It

 

REVIEW: Gadget and the Cloud – “October 31st”

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Cork, Ireland’s Kelly Doherty makes some pretty great music under the name Gadget and the Cloud. October 31st is a hell of an EP, and is definitely worth checking out. It is a great instrumental electronic/ambient type sound. Strong influences from post-rock and electronic indie.

Things fluctuate between delicate and ambient and noisy and jarring. Everything has it’s own flavor. “Grove,” clocking in at just under three minutes, sets the tone perfectly. It is very chill, and almost droney. It transitions perfectly into “Flake,” which has a larger sound to it. It’s more cinematic, I suppose.

“Trace” serves as an interesting transition. It has a similar energy to the aforementioned songs, but has a darker sound to it overall. It works to ease into the darker sounding “October 30th” and “October 31st.” The former is very quiet, with a static sound throughout. It has an almost foreboding sound to it. “October 31st” kicks that up even higher.

Gadget and the Cloud is a very interesting project overall. There are bits and pieces of stuff like Boards Of Canada, Ricky Eat Acid, and Coma Cinema. Doherty never leans too heavily on any particular influence, and has a definite voice of her own. I can’t wait to hear more

Gadget and the Cloud (Soundcloud)
Bandcamp

PS: This is on Bandcamp, but more recent songs are already up on Soundcloud.

REVIEWS: Sad Blood – “Ultimate Worrier”

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Sad Blood has an EP called Ultimate Worrier. Like, come on. Of course I’m going to like this record. It is a solid emo EP, and the title is a pro wrestling pun. It is one of the most solid example of things that are 100% in my wheelhouse. This is a short EP, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. So I’m going to use this time to talk about some other stuff, while I talk about the record. Is that cool? Ok.

I’ve spent the better part of the last three or four years listening to every goddamn emo record that was sent to me. Everything from bands who use PR companies to bands who self released one thing and never did anything again. There is a level of burn out that comes from that. Not because the bands were bad, but because so many of them were really fucking good. That whole thing has died down a little. Most of the bands I’m hearing now play some version of alternative rock that was popular in the mid-1990s. My palate is cleansed, and I’m excited to hear emo records again.

Sad Blood is a perfect example of the kind of stuff I love. They’re an emo band, but with really strong pop influence. Their sound fit in very well with bands like Dowsing, Free Throw, and The Promise Ring. The three songs on Ultimate Worrier have a lot of life and energy behind them. It’s just great from front to back. I hate to pick a standout song, especially on EPs, but “Party, Animal” is a fucking jam. It’s a record that has exactly what you want.

Will Sad Blood be another one of those one-and-done bands that flooded my inbox a few years ago? I hope not. I’d like to hear a lot more from them, because Ultimate Worrier is a hell of an introduction.

Sad Blood
Bandcamp / Buy It

REVIEW: Milkshakes – “Dog Years”

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I’m a sucker for poppy, hooky music. Driving punk rock songs that also have those qualities are a total no brainer. I’m super into that shit. But, honestly, who isn’t? Well, I guess there are some dorks who probably aren’t. Whatever.

Milkshakes is a band that has actually been around for a few years now. Dog Years is their second EP, and third release overall (per their Bandcamp anyway). It is a quick four song, with a 13 minute runtime. It is a quick exercise in great indie/punk rock music. Superchunk and Osker influences are abound, with maybe a touch of The Get Up Kids and Knapsack too.

The songs have a way of working their way into your head. There are great vocal hooks, on “8:15” and “Cave In” especially. Dog Years is a fun listen, but certainly treads on well worn ground. It’s got a whole bunch of promise though. Milkshakes is a band that is maybe still trying to find their voice. They have the potential to be something pretty great once they do.

Milkshakes
Bandcamp / Buy It

REVIEW: Kill The Intellectuals – “All This Time I Was Writing An Album And I Thought I Was Just Living My Life”

ktiwritingI’ve written about Kill The Intellectuals before. Twice, actually. I’ve gone on about the prolific nature of Angela-Grace Foster as a songwriter. I’ve rambled on about genre tags and other music classification bullshit. I don’t really need to say too much more along those lines.

The thing that strikes me most about Kill The Intellectuals is that it’s an ongoing project made by someone who is basically still a kid. I know that sounds shitty and dismissive, but I don’t mean it that way. It’s actually one of Foster’s biggest strengths. They haven’t fallen into the trappings that older musicians have. The songs don’t have some jaded subtext. The lyrics are honest in a way that most musicians aren’t. It’s rare to find anyone who is so open in their songwriting. And it’s even rarer to find a musician with such a defined voice at such a young age.

Anyway, let’s talk about the record. All This Time I Was Writing An Album And I Thought I Was Just Living My Life fits very well in the overall oeuvre that is Kill The Intellectuals. Mixing the straight forward folk with the spoken word and experimental sounds, it is a really great representation of what they’ve been doing up to this point. It’s still a lo-fi, bedroom recording type record. It’s the little touches though. The overdubbed vocals on “Vacant Rooms” make for a really great sounding harmony. “Love Is The New Ibuprofen And I Am Hooked” is bookended with backmasking and spoken word. The two “Love vs Anxiety” songs show how a strong voice can carry otherwise simple and straightforward folk songs.

My opinion on Kill The Intellectuals is pretty simple. I’m always excited to hear something new things, and I hope to keep hearing more for a long time to come.

Kill The Intellectuals
Bandcamp

REVIEW: Forever Losing Sleep – “I Lost Myself Again”

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It’s hard to not group bands in a generational kind of way. Forever Losing Sleep is a band that you could easily put a throwback, nostalgia tag on. That might be the curse of playing this kind of emo music. Everyone wants to drop a 1990s reference. It’s accurate to a point, but it’s not fair. I Lost Myself Again is filled with things that could be perceived as callbacks to that era of the genre, but there is more to it than that.

Forever Losing Sleep is a band that understands what makes music engaging. I Lost Myself Again is built on the shifting quiet/loud dynamic. “Esprit D’ Escalier” starts the record on a very mellow, calm note. It mostly stays that way until the last minute, where it just sounds huge. It then drones out, but it’s buzzing fade out serves as the intro to “Twitch.” Everything really jumps off on the third song though. “Trophied” is a beast of a song, and it adds a great bit of heaviness and aggression that carries on throughout the rest of the record. In fact, the shifts in sound works brilliantly. Forever Losing Sleep are an indie/emo band with a great sense of melody, but what makes them stand out is that they allow themselves to just fucking go. Things can jump from calm to aggressive, and back again, at the drop of a hat. “Havre De Grace” is a perfect example.

This is a genre record, and it will appeal to genre fans. Forever Losing Sleep have made a very engaging emo/indie record. The tinges of screamo and post-hardcore only add to it’s power. There’s a lot of skill and promise in these songs. This is a band to keep an eye on, folks.

Forever Losing Sleep
Bandcamp
Buy It

REVIEW: Bong Mountain – “You’re Doin’ Great!”

bongmountain

I find it really interesting to see how regional influences affect musical genres. This is especially in genres that have very established sounds and tropes. Pop punk, even more than emo, is one of the best examples. Every region has it’s own flavor, and bands tend to wear that influence on their sleeves. In that regard, Bong Mountain is Midwestern as fuck.

You’re Doin’ Great! is an EP that embodies the gritty and gruff pop punk that this region is known for. It’s got jagged edges to it, but it maintains a strong sense of melody. It reminds me a lot of bands like Signals Midwest, without some of the emo influence. Maybe some Mixtapes in there too?

All in all, this is a great introduction to this band. The onus is now on Bong Mountain to differentiate themselves from the crowd of bands playing this style. They definitely seem to be up to the task. If you’re into this kind of gruff pop punk, this will most certainly be a band you should watch out for.

Bong Mountain
Bandcamp