In Fear and Faith’s self-titled album is the first full-length to surface from the band since Imperial in summer of 2010. In between, In Fear and Faith released a symphony-based EP, Symphonies, utilizing a combination of woodwinds, brass, choir, and screaming, among other devices, to create a unique sound. In Fear and Faith is a return to the band’s true roots as metalcore, though it retains many of their distinctive elements they have picked up, as well as introducing new ones.
Like In Fear and Faith’s other albums, the lyrics of the self-titled album revolve around a single theme: mankind’s self-created apocalypse. The intro number opens with sounds of gunfire and helicopters, setting the mien of the entire album, which takes place after the world has been destroyed. The lyrics as a whole leave something to be desired, feeling a little weak in originality and employing several cliché phrases such as “I can’t last without the ones that left me/I regret the times I couldn’t see” in Last Man Stranded and “If I fall asleep, please don’t let me dream/I keep on wishing that I’ll forget those awful things I’ve seen” in Dream Catcher. However, there still are several standalone notable lines that will leave strong, positive impressions on the listener (“I’m just a sliver of the system that feeds on broken men;” “Now my lungs are filled with a creeping dose of bitter disgust for the world I used to trust”), although these pop up less often. The interesting personification of Earth in You Had Your Chance is also refreshing and a good attempt to separate the band’s lyrics from that of others in the metalcore genre.
Musically, In Fear and Faith is exceptional. Singer Scott Barnes displays an incredibly powerful voice that feels more confident than that in the songs of the band’s previous albums. Furthermore, while the band continues to encompass their unique blend of symphonic elements (seen in the ending of Self Fulfilling Prophecy as well as other tracks), other pieces experiment with electronic sounds in auto-tune and melody. The metal and screaming are not lacking in the album either; in fact, Look What You Made Me Do is one of In Fear and Faith’s heaviest tracks, and the breakdowns in some of the songs, such as A Creeping Dose and A Silent Drum, are satisfying. The album’s eighth track, Enigmatic, is actually entirely piano (played by the band’s keyboardist, Ramin Niroomand, an expert in the self-proclaimed “pianocore”) and symphony, its eerie tunes somewhat reminiscent and yet contrasting to the band’s original sound.
Since the release of this album, In Fear and Faith has been relatively silent regarding new work. So, if you’re looking for a relatively idiosyncratic band in an otherwise invariable genre, be sure to check this album out and listen to a few of their interesting tracks. It is, holistically, a symbol of their incredible talent and growth as a band.
Standout Tracks: “Look What You Made Me Do”, “A Creeping Dose”, “Self Fulfilling Prophecy”, “The Calm Before Reform”
2. The Calm Before Reform [ft. Dave Stephens of We Came As Romans]
3. A Silent Drum
4. Look What You Made Me Do
5. Soul Survivor
6. A Creeping Dose
7. It All Comes Out (On The Way Down)
9. Dream Catcher
10. You Had Your Chance
11. Last Man Stranded
12. Self Fulfilling Prophecy
Producer AF THE NAYSAYER teamed up with Myka Nyne of Freestyle Fellowship to produce Imagerial Denouement a tribute to Japanese producer Nujabes. The track combines a jazz base, looped drum machine samples, and harmonic tones, accompanied by Myka Nyne’s rap verses. Originally an instrumental, which you can stream below, produced before Nujabes death, the track has now been transformed into a pioneering musical eulogy. AF THE NAYSAYER stated, “The title is a play on words of his song Imaginary Folklore. This song was my tribute to Nujabes, because he has such a large influence on my work.” ReSERVED Records is offering the digital version (iTunes), and a 7″ limited-edition vinyl or a poster of the cover art by Wes Sumrall for a special price on their Bandcamp page.
holo pleasures is the sixth release by lo-fi pop project, elvis depressedly and marks the first time under this moniker that there has been a full band effort. The trio that contributed to the record includes Mat Cothran on vocals, drums, and guitar, Eric Jones on guitar and bass, and Delaney Mills playing all the keyboard parts. Like most of Cothran’s work, there is the familiar lo-fi analog comfort layered on top of warbling vocals to create unparalleled mellowness and melancholy.
The first track, okay, a pop number, encompasses Cothran’s simple yet poignant lyrical style including the lyrics, “I remember becoming winter, haunted by light, true love turned to sickness in my body, stayed up all night.” The album has the some of the same vibes as Coma Cinema, Cothran’s other outfit, however what sets them apart is the difference in the coherent aesthetic of the albums. The harmonies and hooks of this release contain a medley of droned keyboard, blown out guitar strumming, and muted percussion followed by refrains such as “If there’s a cool spot in heaven, I know you’ll get in” in weird honey and “Always real, always right, always alright” in pepsi/coke suicide. The six songs that run a total of twelve minutes are meant to be listened as one in order to gain the full experience of the record.
Mat Cothran and his band members are always constantly progressing and a new release is never far away, or from any of the groups in the scene such as Julia Brown, R.L. Kelly, and Pussy Wizard. The casette form of this release is currently sold out, but you can still pick up the 7″ vinyl in either blood red or swamp green from Birdtapes, or give it a listen over at the Bandcamp page.
Standout Tracks: “okay”, “weird honey”, “pepsi/coke suicide”
“never quit, there’s always a reason to try.”
2. pepsi/coke suicide
3. inside you
5. weird honey
6. thinning out
Released: January 16, 2012
I am surprised by the absence of publicity for Ambassadors and their most recent record Litost. In 2006, the band started to get going, when unfortunately their keyboardist Casey Harris ended up in the hospital, needing a kidney transplant to survive. During that time, the members separated temporarily and Sam Harris went on to write much of what is now Litost.
This release appeals to indie rock fans as it provides both calm tunes such as Litost, and head nodding tracks like Unconsolable. The standout feature from this album is the raw emotion implemented in the songs, as I have always been a fan of vocalists who mean the words that are being sung. Once word spreads about this album, people will acknowledge this underrated band, and help propel them to the recognition they deserve.
Standout Tracks: “Falls”,“Unconsolable”,“Lay Me Down”
5. (O Death)
6. Lay Me Down
7. Caged Animals
fun. was formed in February 2008 after Nate Ruess’s former band The Format split. Fun. was formed when Ruess brought in Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff from Anathallo and Steel Train, and they released their first album, Aim and Ignite, in August 25, 2009. This album took off in the alternative music scene getting recognition as a progressive and amazingly written pop album. The next year, fun. set off on their first North American tour with the band Jack’s Mannequin.
Two years later and the song “We Are Young” started changing this band’s life. On March 7, 2012, Fun’s single “We Are Young” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and their sophomore album, Some Nights, took off from there and they have been continuously touring since.
Andrew McMahon opened the show with a mix of classic Something Corporate songs along with his soulful Jack’s Mannequin tunes. Though not many people in the crowd seemed to know many of McMahon’s songs due to the fact that he was added to the tour after it was sold out, he seemed to capture the attention of many prospective fans. As McMahon’s first solo tour the few fans in the crowd were greatly anticipating what was to come about, and I must say, as a fan myself, I was thoroughly impressed. With everything from “Dark Blue” to “I Woke Up In A Car” we were able to hear Andrew McMahon’s journey over the last 10 years. It was simply amazing to be able to see McMahon perform live for the first time as a solo artist and be able to see his growth all in one performance.
Next, it was fun’s turn to play to the full house at The Orpheum. They opened with “Out On the Town”, a bonus track from Some Nights and you could feel the excitement of the crowd completely radiate throughout the room. Dedicated fans of fun. screamed the lyrics along with Ruess and as the set progressed, you could feel the amazement and astonishment of the crowd grow as more and more well known songs were performed. “Some Nights” and “We Are Young” got screaming whoops and a rowdy singalong from every head in that crowd, while the lyrics to songs such as “Barlights” and “The Gambler” flowed out of devoted fans alike.
Fun. put on a show that was thoroughly impassioned and impressive to new and old fans alike. Their like show all in all proved why this band has taken off so well in the last year. Everything from Ruess’s extraordinary stage presence to Jack Antoff’s staggering guitar solos to Andrew Dost playing everything from piano to stealing Ruess’s famous gold microphone, it was a show to remember. And the Boston Celtics jerseys weren’t a bad touch either.
Released: March 30, 2012
Forming in late 2010, Castlecomer finally unveiled their debut release on March 30th, 2012 and did not disappoint. Armed with their high-energy shows, combined with their flawless five part harmonies, Castlecomer are one of the most exciting indie bands that Australia has to offer.
Castlecomer began their journey as a band by posting videos of both original songs and covers on YouTube including Mumford and Son’s The Cave, and Passion Pit’s Take A Walk. These fantastic videos led to fans around wondering, and near begging them to release an album.
On March 30th Castlecomer finally released their six song EP entitled, Danny’s Den. Tracks include songs that are found on their YouTube channel, as well as songs that have not been heard before. The EP is not what was first expected, as on YouTube all of the songs were played acoustically with a strong focus on the harmonies, however on the album there is a lot more use of electric guitars and drums, but this does not take away from their harmonic melodies. Even though it was different to what I was accustomed to, it was still successful, selling 1,200 hard copies, and 1000 digital copies. These five boys from Sydney are starting to make a name for themselves.
Fans, much like me, are eagerly waiting the next EP to be released, as they have only posted more covers such as Coldplay’s Till Kingdom Come and The Lumineers‘ Ho Hey. But they haven’t released any new material, so no one knows what to expect. Luckily there shouldn’t be a long wait as they have already finished the recording for the second EP, and it is due for release sometime in early 2013. If you enjoy indie folk bands with spot on harmonies, Castlecomer is a band to look out for. Check out their Facebook and YouTube pages!
After his sensational debut album Every Kingdom, Ben Howard’s newest release The Burgh Island EP has not disappointed. Though fans have come accustomed to the smooth, acoustic, folk songs experienced in the album, The Burgh Island EP demonstrates a darker side to his songs, highlighted by the use of the electric guitar rather than his usual acoustic self. Yet the gritty, and albeit, gloomy sounds does not take away from the emotion and soul that is put into the lyrics and songs themselves. The songs were all inspired by his memories from surfing the beaches of Burgh Island, which leads to question, why create a darker tone for the songs?
Though fans and listeners would agree that the sound of this EP is completely different, it does not mean it’s a bad change. The opening track “Esmerelda” begins with eerie sounds, which grow more powerful as the song progresses through the beats, perfectly complemented by the rasp in his voice. The second track “Oats In The Water” on the other hand uses the electric guitar differently by creating a more bluesy electric sound, thus producing a more calming and memorable vocal melody. My personal favorite track of this album is the final one appropriately titled “Burgh Island”. This track most resembles the style of songs portrayed in the album Every Kingdom. Much like Ben Howard’s popular track, “Black Flies” it’s a mostly calm song throughout, but has a powerful punch in the middle and near the end. Though it is not as catchy, it will definitely be a favorite to those fans of Every Kingdom.
This album also excites me as it demonstrates that Ben Howard doesn’t have just one style, but illustrates that he has a variety of styles, leaving fans wondering, what will he do next? For those following Ben Howard, he will be touring in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, for a week beginning February 11th with another of my personal favorite bands Mumford and Sons.
Standout Tracks: “Esmerelda” “Burgh Island”
2. Oats in the Water
3. To Be Alone
4. Burgh Island (feat. Monica Heldel)
Released: February 19, 2013
Label: Captured Tracks
Beach Fossils sophomore record Clash The Truth is set to be released on February 19, 2013. Following their self titled release in 2010, Beach Fossils became well known for their catchy Jingle Jangle styled guitar riffs in songs like “Sometimes” as well as their electrifying stage presence. After several members moved on to side projects, Dustin Payseur began writing Clash The Truth “determined to capture the urgency, human flow and spontaneity of the live performance.” This goal for the record has shown to be a trouble for many bedroom recording styled bands. Many lo-fi bands have spectacular albums, but the dreamy and somber melodies don’t always translate to a live show. Yet with this presence of urgency, Clash The Truth doesn’t lack in energy throughout every track. The excitement in the tracks give off a punk rock experience with a shoe-gaze styling.
The progression of Beach Fossils sound in Clash The Truth is near perfect, they translated the lo-fi bedroom recording style to a well tuned studio project. I initially had some fear that their highly praised vibes would lose their originality, yet the album beautifully captures Dustin’s vision. Clash The Truth is much more instrumentally complex than the records before; with each track standing out more individually, yet still creating one complete record. This is most prevalent in songs like “Sleep Apnea” that bring in a more acoustic presence whereas “Caustic Cross” has more energy and power in the guitar. Another great addition to the album is the development of the drums. The drums are much more established in the album, “the drums were recorded live in a room with Dustin on bass to give the album a driving and energetic force.” In previous records the drums have a presence but appeared to be very simple, I never found myself mesmerized by the beat.
While this album is one of my favorites, and well deserving of a listen, there are some weaker points to the album. Oddly enough, I felt the title track along with the previously released track “Shallow” didn’t live up to the rest of the album. When Shallow was first released a year ago, it wasn’t as enchanting as songs like “What A Pleasure”. It generated no anticipation or excitement for the rest of the album. The title track is a nice melody that eases into the rapid pace of the album, yet I felt a lack of connection with the song. It has a catchy aspect to it, yet that wasn’t a highlight for me.
Following the release of Clash The Truth, Beach Fossils will begin touring through the US and Canada. All of the tour dates can be found on their Facebook Page. The song “Careless” is available for free Stream or Download below.
Standout Tracks: “Sleep Apnea”, “Crashed Out”, “Generational Synthetic”
1. Clash the Truth
2. Generational Synthetic
3. Sleep Apnea
5. Modern Holiday
6. Taking Off
8. Burn You Down
10. In Vertigo [ft. Kazu Makino]
12. Caustic Cross
14. Crashed Out