REVIEW: Overo / Asthenia – “Split”

2020 has been a disaster, and independent music is not immune. The live show ecosystem has fucking crashed. This split from Overo and Asthenia is a product of that. It was originally meant to be supported by a Japanese tour in November. That didn’t happen, and here we are.

I’ve talked about Overo before, and it’s absolutely no surprise that their songs are both fantastic. Their sound harkens back to the post-hardcore/screamo scene that was really hitting it’s stride in the 90s. They wouldn’t sound out of place in the Gravity Records stable of bands. Their sound flies effortlessly between quiet and loud. Delicate and intense. The guitars and vocals from Lindsay Minton and Brendan Stephens work so goddamn well in concert with each other. They have a great give and take, and that would be the star of any show. That said, I want to talk about the rhythm section of a minute. The low end on these songs absolutely propel things forward. All the credit in the world to Mercy Harper and John Baldwin. The former on bass, and the latter on drums.

“Haunted by Heat” is an example of how you can have a disjointed song flow together by sheer force of will. It’s a segmented song where the different parts are punctuated by a combined blast of guitar, bass, and drums. It’s a song about loss and coming to terms with the end of something. Engulfed in flames, left to pick up the pieces. It’s followed by a 47 second ripper called “Near the End.” The lyrics are simply “she told me that love is not enough.” It’s direct and to the point. Things end, no matter how hard you try.

Asthenia were definitely not on my radar prior to this release. I have to admit that I am largely ignorant to the punk and hardcore music coming out of Japan. But, goddamn, I need to pay attention. Their style of post-hardcore works perfectly on a record with Overo’s. They kick off their side with “人間たち” (Humans). Hiroshi Sasagawa told FLOOD that the song is “various punchlines thrown together, kind of like At the Drive-In style.” It’s followed by “幽霊たち” (Ghosts), which is about grinding routine. It’s about how you end up floating through your life without living at all. It jumps from calm guitar and soft vocals to heavy distortion and screams. The quiet/loud, slow/fast dynamic absolutely drives the point home. You can be lulled into false comfort easily, and you have to fight against it.

There is a level of angst that is almost universal. You can feel it in these songs. We’re all treading through almost insurmountable levels of bullshit. Music like this serves as a catharsis. We have to fight through it. We’re witnessing the end of a lot of old systems, but we can build something better. We fucking have to.

Overo
Asthenia
Count Your Lucky Stars (US)
Scully (US)
Middle-Man (US)
Forge (JP)
strictly no capital letters (UK)
Pundonor (ES)
LilacSky (NO)
Polar Summer (RU)

(This record is a joint release by eight labels. Choose your own adventure depending on where you are located. Asthenia is putting it out on their own Forge, but I don’t have a link. Check their website, I guess?)

REVIEW: The Blue Period – “And Suddenly The Days Draw Long Like Light​-​Years”

blueperiodThe Blue Period is a band that, in the most basic of terms, plays indie/emo music. They definitely have that classic Midwestern sound to them. There are definite Owen / American Football influences. There are also similarities to more contemporary bands, like Football Etc. or maybe a little Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate). They have a very comfortable and familiar sound. That said, they aren’t overpowered by those influences. They definitely stand on their own feet..

And Suddenly The Days Draw Long Like Light​-​Years is a solid EP that really covers all the bases one would like it to. The dual vocals of Celia Macdougall and Chris Moore are definitely one of the best strengths of the EP. They are both strong enough to carry a song by themselves, but are also able to reign things in for great interplay. When they’re splitting songs, neither overpowers the other. A lot of bands in this genre are built on one lead vocal, so this helps set them apart from other bands. The rest of the genre staples are pretty routinely touched upon. The production is a little grittier than most similar records, but that is really a strength as well.

The Blue Period is a young band. They have set a really great foundation down on And Suddenly The Days Draw Long Like Light​-​Years. The biggest problem they have is with how crowded this genre is. There used to be a time where a band from the UK playing this style would have a certain novelty to them. This isn’t really the case anymore. I don’t know much about their local scene in Nottingham, but I’m starting to feel like there might be more Midwest emo influenced bands in the UK than we have here in the actual Midwest.

See, I’m from the Midwest. Illinois to be specific. There is a lot of history here for this kind of music. I remember a time when a million bands in the Chicago area played this kind of stuff. And I remember how difficult it was to find the good stuff. There are a lot of these kinds of bands in the UK now, and they are going to have a similar problem. The Blue Period have the potential to break away from the pack of indie/emo bands, they just need to get a bit more adventurous. It will be wonderful to see what they do next.

The Blue Period
Bandcamp
Ruined Smile Records
Good Post Day Records
Wolf Town DIY
Eat A Book
strictly no capital letters

REVIEW: Football, etc. / Plaids – "Split"

I always get excited about split records. It’s basically a perfect format. Even if it’s just a quick split 7″. Since we are long past the days of the cheap-o compilation cds/records, these remain one of the best ways to find new bands that you might otherwise not be exposed to. This is the case for me here. I’m a big fan of Football, etc. I’ve not heard Plaids before now. I knew what to expect from the former, but had no idea  how I’d feel about the latter. This record is great.

Football, etc., who have a few splits under their collective belt already, came strong out of the gate. “Down The Field” is a great song. People who already know this band know what to expect. It’s a great calm, melodic indie/emo song. Lindsay Minton’s vocals sound stronger than ever. One of my issues with their full lengths was how her voice tended to get lost in the mix. They stand out perfectly. The same can be said for the music in general. Basically, everything here is stepped up. The song is strong, but it never loses the frailty of the prior full length.

Plaids was totally new to me. Hailing from Nottingham (UK), they also have a good number of splits going. This is a fucking punk rock band. They play around with sort of mathy, post-hardcore. That said, they manage to stay accessible. I don’t mean that in a weird way. These aren’t pop songs. Plaids’ two songs on here (“Eleven” and “Twelve”) are both dynamic and driving. They are aggressive. It’s a bit of a shock coming off the Football, etc. song. Not knowing this band, I was expecting another calm, Midwest emo-ish song. Two quick punk rock songs was a great surprise. This is a band to watch, man.

There is so much to love here. I can keep talking about it, but fuck that. Just go get it.

Football, etc.
Plaids
BandCamp (Football, etc.) (Plaids)
Buy It (CYLS) (sncl)
Count Your Lucky Stars (US)
strictly no capital letters (UK)

REVIEW: Joie De Vivre – "We’re All Better Than This"

Just in time for Chicago fall and winter, Joie De Vivre have a new record. After breaking up for a brief span of time, they are back with a fantastic record. We’re All Better Than This doesn’t stray too far from what the band has done previously. Nothing on this record would sound too out of place on their prior releases, but it isn’t just the same old thing either.

The style this band plays is certainly rich in history. When people discuss this band there is always a comparison to legendary bands of yore. Invariably someone will name drop Mineral, American Football, and Colossal. These are all fair references, but that has to be tiresome. There is the occasional guitar twinkle, trumpet flourishes, and a nice mix if Midwest emo and indie rock. If that sounds like your thing, fuck reading this and go get the record.

There is something about this record that just appeals to me. It is filled to the brim with the angst and bitterness of being in your mid to late twenties. That weird place where you know you could have done things differently, possibly better, but shit just didn’t pan out. It can be a depressing thing to think about, but it is how it goes. Especially when everyone else you know has gone to college and are seemingly stoked on everything. Songs like “I Guess Not” and “That Dude Leads A Depressing Life” convey this kind of idea quite well. The former being more positive, the latter being a touch more cynical.

Another running theme on this record is the backwards looking regret. “Robert Muldoon” touches on that topic quite well:

“I used to drive across the entire state just to see you every weekend,
and I rolled the windows down because I was afraid of falling asleep.
I regret everything about that year
I regret everything about that year.”

I honestly can’t thing of a record that better describes and explains the weird weltschmerz that comes with being in your mid-twenties. I don’t know, man.

I honestly can’t get enough of this record. As much as I enjoy The North End and Summer Months, I think We’re All Better Than This might be their best record yet. This is a great example of an emo record that rises beyond the genre. If you don’t get this, you’re totally missing out. Everyone talks about summer albums, well this is the fall record of the year.

Joie De Vivre
Count Your Lucky Stars
strictly no capital letters
Stream It (BandCamp)
Buy It (CYLS) (sncl)

NOTE: These guys are playing with Kind Of Like Spitting in Chicago next week. So bummed about having to miss that.