By: Nick Manduley
Austin, Texas alternative pop artist Saint Loretto released his sophomore LP, Passage / S, on March 29th. Clocking in at 30 minutes, this album is on the shorter side, but if there’s anything Saint Loretto mastermind Evan Crowley has clearly figured out, it’s that less is more. The release kicks off with the brief yet catchy track “In Honor of Progress” which almost acts as a proverbial cover page. “Aisles” follows up with infectious synths, upbeat drums, and a guitar lick that’s sure to stay in your head. Crowley’s vocals meld wonderfully with the track; he has a sound and style that is reminiscent of acts such as The Killers and The 1975, but very much holds his own flavor. The track ends with a beaming guitar solo before charging into “Paris,” which is driven by a punchy bass guitar. As Crowley sings about spending “another weekend in paradise,” I can’t help but picture a place far away from my bedroom in the frigid, manic climate of New Jersey; preferably with warmer weather, great hispanic food, and reasonably priced mixed drinks.
Passage / S moves forward with “Control (Fool for You)” and “Closing Time (The Best of Times).” These tracks offer a bit more pop-rock tendencies, with the bass and drums clicking away together on “Control” and the driving force set by the guitars during the chorus of “Closing Time.” However, Crowley doesn’t skip on his flavor of synth-pop with these tracks. “Head Over Heels” features some amazing synth and keyboard work which paints the track with good vibes. “American Kids” is a powerhouse track that is pure party fuel, complete with a memorable guitar solo. The album begins to wind towards its end with “‘68,” a mid-tempo track with a lot of heart, and “Wide Awake (All This Time),” a slower jam befitting of a late night car ride with the windows rolled down. Passage / S ends with an acoustic guitar-driven, eponymous track, which is a chill and catchy conclusion to this release.
Passage / S, as well as Saint Loretto’s previous full length endeavor Depth / S, is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon.
By: Nick Manduley
With the progressive post-hardcore genre flowering into a vibrant online community over recent years, the interwebs have become flooded with wildly talented bands influenced by iconic progressive, math-rock, and alternative acts new and old; these acts include but are in no way limited to Yes, The Fall Of Troy, Thrice, Dance Gavin Dance, and so many more. Northern California experimental post-hardcore outfit Enso Anima put out a record in 2018 called Instability that not only draws on that type of influence, but also dips ventures into the realm of blues rock and the wide spectrum that is emo.
I’m not entirely sure what to call this release; it clocks in at a whopping 40 minutes, which one could argue is too long to constitute as an EP. At the same time, however, there are only 6 songs on the record. We could spend all day going back and forth about whether or not this release is an EP or LP, but it wouldn’t change the fact Instability is a must-have for anyone finding themselves getting into progressive post-hardcore.
Lead vocals are handled by drummer Nick Creary-Scher and rhythm guitarist Whitney Schuster. Together, their vocal performance helps to cultivate a melodic and, at times, aggressive atmosphere on Instability. From the haunting spoken word sections in tracks like “Cold in Atlantis” and “First Flight,” to the aggressive borderline-screaming and bone-chilling harmonies on the bluesy behemoth “Steam,” it’s clear that Enso Anima isn’t holding anything back in their latest release. Lead guitar and keyboards are provided by Shane Ward, who along with Schuster, paint each track with their musical prowess; if you’re somebody who appreciates quality guitar playing, you need this record. There is no shortage of spacey delay-laden tapping sections, screaming solos, or face-melting prog riffage on Instability. Tyler Francis is the bassist any band would be lucky to have in their lineup; his performance on tracks like “Cable Cars” and “Atlantis” are extremely tight and are in no way short on fills. It sounds like he truly feels his basslines rather than simply play them.
Though the band has yet to formally announce any new material, nor do they currently have any shows book for the end of 2019, I eagerly await to see what they have in store for us at the turn of the decade. Until then, Instability is available on all major streaming platforms. If you’d like to help support Enso Anima through their future musical endeavors, I highly recommend subscribing to the band on Patreon.
By: Nick Manduley
Hartford, Connecticut alt-rockers Bonsai Trees independently released their latest record Learn to Grow on May 3rd, 2019. In a bit under 40 minutes, the 3-piece from New England takes the listener on an emotional, rock-and-roll, hook-fueled journey leaving them anticipating what they’re going to do next; and if you’re a new listener, chances are this record will make you want to go back and listen to their previous releases.
Filled with cheeky indie rock tendencies, biting riffage, and the occasional emotive ballad-esque tune, Learn to Grow has a dynamic that any alternative rock fiend will feel a sense of familiarity with. Vocalist and guitarist James MacPherson has a singing voice that at times evokes the same feeling in my gut that I felt when I first heard The Killers’ Hot Fuss or Taking Back Sunday’s 2011 self-titled record. His performance on the opening track “Don’t” left me without a doubt in my mind that this was going to be an album I needed to review. The hook-filled, harmony-heavy song starts off with an infectious beat from drummer Nick Sokol and is guaranteed to get people dancing.
As the song ends with the chorus still reverberating in the listener’s head, the album pushes into the vicious tune “Vice Grips.” The track explodes with a mean riff, showing off some of the superb guitar work featured on this record, not to mention that wailing solo. “Shotgun” is similar in the sense that it’s also riff-centric; these songs are rather reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys’ work on their earlier releases Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and Favourite Worst Nightmare. But these tracks do not speak for the whole record; songs like “I Love an Artist,” “Dark Parking Lot,” and “We Talked” showcase a more pop-influenced side of the band’s flavor of indie rock. They add to the dynamic of the record; it’s a sign of quality songwriting when an album has songs with a diverse range of style and sound, but still sounds like the same band playing throughout.
The album offers a darker, more somber tone with the track “Away From Me.” The pain conveyed on the track can be sensed by the listener as lyrics about gasping for air and one’s skull hitting the bathroom sink give way to an explosive full band chorus ladened with the lyrical hook, “would you get away from me?”
As the album draws to a close with the mid-tempo banger “Rose,” the listener is left with a sense of satisfaction, as if they’ve just closed the back cover on a really good book. Learn to Grow is currently available on all major streaming platforms as well as Bandcamp. The band will be embarking on a 12-day tour on November 12th, kicking off in New Haven, Connecticut at Cafe 9, and concluding on the 24th at Muchmore’s in Brooklyn, New York. The tour will make stops as far north as Toronto and as far south as Birmingham. Tickets can be purchased via the band’s website.
Bonsai Trees November Tour Dates
11/13 Malta, NY @ Wired Coffee
11/14 Buffalo, NY @ Sugar City
11/15 Toronto, Ont CN @ Indie Week: Cherry Cola
11/16 Muncie, IN @ Be Here Now
11/19 Birmingham, AL @ The Nick Rocks
11/21 Chapel Hill, NC @ The Cave
11/22 Richmond, VA @ Garden Grove Brewing
11/23 Washington, DC @ Velvet Lounge
11/24 Brooklyn, NY @ Muchmore’s
By: Nick Manduley
Pennsylvania math-rockers Good Game’s latest release, Good Luck Have Fun, is a soundscape of inventive musicianship, melodic vocals, and haunting harmonies. The three-track EP starts promptly with the explosive track “Supercollider? I Just Met Her.” The listener is immediately bombarded by beastly clean-toned guitar riffage, chase by vocalist Addy Harris belting out unapologetic lines about the “heteronormative sleep-paralysis induced American Dream.” The track then gives away to a cacophony of guitar tapping as the drums begin to break and Harris paints the mix with her soaring harmonies.
Good Luck pushes forward with the track “Rat City” which starts with some fun syncopated clapping as Harris and guitarist Brock Benzel sing the oh-so-catchy chorus. The track then bursts into a full band arrangement. There is absolutely something to be said about the musicianship here; these songs are as busy as they are executed with deadly precision and feeling. Guitarists Nate Sherman and Brock Benzel demonstrate their musical prowess quite effectively; bassist Chance Wells and drummer Dan Getty hold down an absolutely air-tight rhythm section.
The EP ends with the mid-tempo jam “First Snow.” This track is easily a go-to for a breezy autumn afternoon spent on your porch wearing your favorite hoodie, sipping on your hot beverage of choice. As the winter months creep over the horizon, I’ll definitely want to have this song in my Apple Music queue when my roommate and I are making the first snowman of the season. While the track remains consistent in tempo, the band changes the dynamic at several points, varying in levels of volume and intensity, while also giving way to calmer, more atmospheric sections.
Good Luck Have Fun dropped in March of 2018 and the band has not teased much new music, outside of a playthrough video of some new material which was posted to the band’s Facebook page last November. I eagerly wait to see what Good Game has in store for the world next. In the meantime, Good Luck Have Fun is available on all major streaming platforms and is available for free download on the Good Game bandcamp page. Fans who download the EP get these three tracks as well as instrumental versions for anyone who wants to learn these amazing pieces. The band has a tab book available for purchase on their bandcamp site, which contains tablature for every song off Good Luck Have Fun and their July 2017 release Don’t Blow It.
Massachusetts queer-core punks Dump Him released their newest full-length production Dykes To Watch Out For on August 30th via Get Better Records & Musical Fanzine Records. Though the ten-song record clocks in at a rather brief 23 minutes, do not be fooled; Dykes is like a punch to the face from Regina George- awesome!
The record explodes right out of the gate with a wall of guitar feedback before charging into ‘Puritan’; a fast, melodic, firecracker of a song that merges the catchiness of indie pop punk with the raw, visceral sound of 2010’s DIY rock music. Following ‘Puritan’ is the album’s title track, which can only be described as a DIY punk magnum opus. ‘Dykes To Watch Out For’ is an infectious track with a chorus that will have listeners humming for a week after they hear it. The track opens with a nasty drum fill courtesy of drummer Larz Brogan before a wall of guitar explodes into the mix; by the time the first chorus is out, it’s clear that this song is an instant classic. The track goes out with a face-melting guitar solo courtesy of the band’s producer Zach Weeks.
The record pushes on with memorable guitar riffs, explosive drumming, and a healthy dose of the basement punk vibes we all know and love. Tracks like ‘Trash’ and ‘Dreams, Live 1997’ feature some particularly tasty licks from lead guitarist Mattie Hamer; bassist Otto Klammer takes a mean, fuzz-laden solo on ‘Dreams’ and is easily one of my personal favorite moments on the record. While vocals on the record are primarily delivered by guitarist Jac Walsh, each band member takes a singing part at some point on the release. Each member sang whatever lyrics they wrote, which makes for a very inclusive dynamic when listening to this record. It shows that Dump Him is not simply a band, but also a team; a family.
The band is currently touring the continental United States in support of Dykes. The tour kicked off September 3rd in Philadelphia, and will make stops in the midwest, the pacific northwest, and California before heading home to New England where the band will play a homecoming show on September 27th in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dykes To Watch Out For is available now on all major streaming platforms, so do yourself a favor this week and stream it. The album is also available on bandcamp for the “name-your-price” option, so listeners are encouraged to donate to the band while they complete the remaining dates of their album release tour. The remaining dates are listed below. Information regarding venues can be acquired through messaging the band’s facebook page.
9/9 Seattle, WA @ Vera Project
9/10 Portland, OR @ Black Water
9/11 Olympia, WA @ New Moon
9/12 Tacoma, WA @ 607
9/13 Corvallis, WA @ Mudville Stadium
9/14 Oakland, CA @ Hawk And Pony
9/15 San Francisco, CA @ The Knockout (21+)
9/16 Fresno, CA @ Friends Know
9/17 Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon
9/19 Denver, CO @ The Horse House
9/20 Wichita, KS @ DIYMCA
9/22 Cincinnati, OH @ XTUD1O
9/23 Pittsburgh, PA @ Glove World
9/24 Brooklyn, NY @ Rubald
9/27 Cambridge, MA @ The Democracy Center
“Overall, I was impressed with how well Sepassi’s and Alvis’s abilities translated in a full-length setting. Their balance of heavy, clean, and electronic elements works effectively, especially when set as the backdrop to a clever narrative about the human experience.”
Click here to read the full review of Silver Relics’ Generic. on Music Existence.
By now you’ve heard about Return For Refund‘s newest release, the Lift You Up EP. After seeing the band live at their tour stop in Guelph, Canadian Beats took sometime to listen through the whole album, and write a comprehensive review! The blog commented on the band’s unique approach to recording the album live-off-the-floor, saying the resulting album is “ambitious and emotionally gripping with a supercharged hit of adrenaline!”. Canadian Beats also acknowledged how each track brings something new to the album, citing “Don’t You Say” as the most rock anthem-worthy, “Lift You Up” as most 90’s grunge reminiscent, and “My Gun” as their favorite music moment of the album. Read the article here to get their full analysis of the album!
The Fountainhead Focus recently took some time to check out our own HereComeHere‘s newest release, Chernobyl. “After starting with a much more pop-punk sound,” the blog commented, “the group (with a small lineup change) started to create something different – a more melodic, complex and even slightly darker sound.” The full article takes you track-by-track through the album, carefully studying each song. When discussing the album’s fifth track, “Sugarr”, the blog acknowledged a crucial factor about the bands progression. “Their songs have important lyrics,” noted Fountainhead, “lyrics that will stick in your head.” These lyrics, along with honing in on their sound, is what really sets this album apart from the band’s previous work. To get more analysis of the album, read the full review here!