REVIEW: Lake Michigan / Hopelesstown – “Split”

lakemichiganhopelesstownSinger/songwriter is a term that has really strange connotations to it. You can kind of blame the 1970s for that. In the US, for example, it’s a term that kind of reminds people of all that schmaltzy bullshit that came out after the folk scene died out. What it really means is embodied by both Lake Michigan (Chris Marks) and Hopelesstown (Will Canning). Simply, music written and performed by the songwriter. Lake Michigan and Hopelesstown are both acoustic solo projects. They both feature a strong influence from indie folk music. They execute is a little differently though. Those differences make for an engaging split.

Lake Michigan is, comparatively, more simple and somber. Being built mostly around lightly strummed acoustic guitar and hushed vocals. His three songs on the split are very calms, reflective, and personal in nature. In short, his music embodies a lot of what the whole bedroom music culture is all about.

Hopelesstown is similar, but with a bit of a different spin. The instrumentation, while still simple guitar at heart, has a more ambient and distorted sound to it. He adds a bit more fuzz to his three songs. There is a bit more vibrancy to these songs than the Lake MIchigan songs. A little more pop, as it were.

Both Lake Michigan and Hopelesstown have a lot of heart. Both show that a lot can be done with a little. Both document how great minimalism can sounds. And, ultimately, both show that very personal music can connect to anyone.

Lake Michigan (Band Camp)
Hopelesstown (Band Camp)
Ruined Smile Records
Lacklustre Records

REVIEW: Svalbard / Pariso – “Split”

SvalbardParisoI love when a record has a gimmick. Svalbard and Pariso definitely have a great one going on this split release. It’s not some cheesy bullshit either. It’s that, aside from their individual songs, they recorded two songs together. Those collaborations bookend this record in a really interesting way. There are two bands with pretty different styles of playing. Hearing them mix those styles together is an interesting thing that, on paper, shouldn’t work as well as it did. But, we’ll get to that later.

Pariso is a band that leans pretty heavily on metal and hardcore. They have interesting guitar lines that play more to the former, but the heart and passion of the latter. They stay fairly true to hardcore, but aren’t afraid to totally own their metal influence. This is especially evident on “Helios, The Demise.” While tearing through as a hardcore song, they build up to a really great lead about a minute into the song. In general, Pariso plays a dissonant style of hardcore and metal. It avoids being crossover bullshit, it sure as fuck isn’t metalcore. It is delivered with anger. The vocals are guttural and growling. They are cathartic and deliberate. The four songs they have on here don’t mess around.

Svalbard, on the other hand, is a much different beast. While sharing certain things in common, they are, generally, a much faster and melodic band. They are making music that feels more rooted in punk and post-hardcore. Where Pariso went for it right out of the gates, Svalbard allows more room for the songs to grow. “Allure” is the embodiment of this. It is a song that has a 5:15 run time. It starts off quietly, with clean guitar, light drums, and vocals low in the mix. It explodes come the two minute mark. It’s that divergence in style that helps them stand out. The three songs they have on this split are really the ones I was more initially drawn to.

But, like I said earlier, my favorite part of this split would be the two songs the bands recorded together. These are two solid songs, not some jam session bullshit. The opener is a song called “Floating Anchors,” the closer is called “Faceless.” The former is more of the style of Pariso. It is more blunt and deliberate. The tempo doesn’t get too fast, and the music doesn’t get too melodic. The latter has more of a Svalbard feel, but definitely feels like more of an amalgamation. It opens with the speed of Svalbard, with the immediate zeal of Pariso. It also feature more metal inspired leads, and a hardcore breakdown. Both songs mix the sensibilities of both bands together in a very encompassing way. The next best example of this would have been that My Fictions/The Saddest Landscape collaboration on the split those bands put out last year.

Overall, this is a split that could have just been another split. It could have been a co-release of seven songs and nothing else. Those two collaborations put it over the top. It’s a hell of a record.

Holy Ground (US)
Tangled Talk (UK)
Swarm Of Nails (FR)
Through Love (DE)
Smithsfoodgroup (NL)

REVIEW: Anodes / Enta – “Split”

anodesentaThe constant splintering of music into genres is awful. It makes sense in some cases. There is quite a large difference between certain things. But, the genres get subgenres, then the subgenres get subgenres, and so on. It creates this weird environment where two things that don’t necessarily sound the same get called the same thing. This split is an example of that. Enta and Anodes are both “screamo” bands (or whatever). The ways they approach it are different.

Enta are more on the melodic and bright side of things. The guitars absolutely shine, and feature a healthy amount of reverb. The vocals have a bit more of the gruff, post-hardcore delivery. The drums are crisp and drive things home. Overall, it’s a bit more atmospheric in some regards. There is a bit of a post-rock influence to some parts. The juxtaposition between the bright music and the darker, intense lyrics is what makes the whole thing work.

Anodes, on the other hand, dwell in a much different place. They come a little more from the Circle Takes The Square / Pg.99 side of the genre. They’re heavier and darker. The instrumentation is a little more angular. There are melodic interludes in the songs, but the band is driving and forceful overall.

It’s the two different approaches that make the split work. Each band’s pair of songs work well in the grand scheme of things. In general, this is a great documentation of one genre can be when filtered through two different sensibilities. You can’t go wrong with that.

Skeletal Lightning
Buy It

YEAR END! – Top Twenty EPs / Splits Of 2013


  • Nobody, Ever – “This Wall Is Dedicated To Liam And His Mates”
  • All Dogs – “All Dogs”
  • The Island Of Misfit Toys – “Furiouser & Furiouser”
  • Adobe Homes / Innards – “Split”
  • These Branches – “Beliefs”
  • Best Practices – Sore Subjects
  • Late Night Beers – “Waking”
  • Lemuria – “Brilliant Dancer”
  • Dads – “Pretty Good”
  • Football, etc / Plaids – “Split”
  • Perfect Future – “Irrational, Malleable, Inevitable”
  • Sunday Guts – “Leave It Go”
  • Graves. – “We Could Stand Here, SIlent And Still”
  • Tyler Daniel Bean – “Everything You Do Scares Me”
  • Young Turks – “Where I Rise”
  • Self Defense Family – “You Are Beneath Her”
  • Abi Reimold / Infinity Crush – “Wish It Stopped (split)”
  • Iron Chic – “Spooky Action”
  • Dikembe / Pet Symmetry – “Split”
  • Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) / Malegoat – “Split”

REVIEW: Adobe Homes / Innards – "Split"

Adobe Homes and Innards are both great examples of this whole “emo revival” thing that people keep talking about. Falling in with the more aggressive/screamy side of things, both bands are very adept at creating very cathartic music.

Adobe Homes hits really hard on the A-side with “You’re More Like A Sunflower Than A Rose.” This song exists in a nice middle ground between melodic and hardcore. I guess it plays to the post-hardcore side of things more than it does straight up riffing hardcore. At three and a half minutes, it plays just long enough to be enjoyable. This kind of music, especially given the lyrical content, can start to get a little self indulgent if it carries on for too long. Adobe Homes hits it square on the head.

On the flipside, Innards rip through 2 songs at just under two minutes combined. “College House” and “Construction” hit more on the straight up hardcore side. At 50 seconds and 56 seconds respectively, these songs are there and gone in a flash. While the short runtime leaves a little to be desired, that is just kind of how this bands rolls. The songs both stay melodic, but never lose their aggression. The songs are short and fast, but never quite hit the thrashy Assfactor Four / Ampere level of things. In short, they are solid enough, and hit just right.

This is pretty solid split. At just five and a half minutes, it is a little on the short side. That’s not really a problem though. It is a solid five and half minutes of loud, cathartic emotional hardcore. Hardcore, emo, you can call it whatever you want (just not skramz, because that word is dumb). It is really worth checking out.

Adobe Homes
Flannel Gurl Records
Buy It

YEAR END! – Best Seven Inches Of The Year

These are the Top ten 7″ releases of the year.

1) Lemuria – Varoom Allure (Bridge Nine


2) State Lines – Self Titled (Tiny Engine


3) Snowing – Pump Fake / Scherbatsky (Square Of Opposition)

4) Restorations – A/B (Tiny Engines)


5) Dowsing / Parker – Split (Count Your Lucky Stars)


REVIEW: Arrows & Empire! Empire! split & Rika / Empire! Empire! split


Three songs of picture perfect emo music.

From Brisbane, Australia, Arrows open this split up. I had never heard this band before, and I was quite pleased with what I heard.  Their song on here, “All Passwords Are Brisbane,” is certainly a great introduction to me. Musically, they have more than a little in common with Empire! Empire!. It is a bit of a no brainer to say that if you dig one, you really should dig the other.

The two Empire! Empire! songs on here, “Turbo Stasis” and “We Did Not Need To Open It To Know It Was There,” are further examples of how great this band is. These two songs would fit excellently in any part of their discography.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
Count Your Lucky Stars
Hobbledehoy Records
Stream It (BandCamp)
Buy It (CYLS) (Hobbledehoy)


Everything I said about Empire! Empire! above is basically true on this split as well. “We Were Not Small Or Great But Grown” kicks off the split with the introspective songwriting one would expect from this band. “It’s A Fate We Can’t Escape. Someday We Will Pass Away” is a very moving song about seeing someone close to you die. Honestly it is one of their best. It is also the first song by these guys to get close to the five minute mark in quite a few releases.

Rika’s one song on here is similarly fantastic. Calm, twinkly emo with great vocals (both lead and backing). The backing vocals don’t fuck around on here. “Skutner” is a great song that rises and falls in all the right places. This band is from Vienna, Austria. Check out their other stuff, it is great.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
Count Your Lucky Stars
Goddamn Records
Stream It (BandCamp)
Buy It (CYLS) (Goddamn)

Sorry I combined these to one post.