I must say 2011 has been a great year for music so far. This EP is by far one of my favorite of the bunch! Dowsing, a Chicago based Emo/Indie Rock band, is currently in solid rotation in the old “Silver Bullet” (that’s my car). With the resurgence of Emo in full effect, this band brings a breath of fresh air to an otherwise cluttered and cloudy scene. Their debut release, “All I Could Find Was You” is filled with bouncy guitar parts, interesting drum beats, memorable keys, and catchy as hell melodies! It brings back fond memories of yester-year when I first fell in love with bands such as The Get Up Kids, Anniversary, and Hot Rod Circuit, which I can hear bits and pieces of in Dowsing’s songs. There is not one bad song on this release, in my opinion. There is something unique and enchanting throughout the bunch. From the twangy guitar runs in “Driving” to the racing keyboard part at the end of “And that’s Why You Always Leave A Note!” to the heart-felt vocals in “Joking/Laughing”, this EP runs the gauntlet in emotion driven rock. “Amateur Cartography” is definitely my favorite song out of all of them. Every time I listen to it, I feel like getting in my car and driving with no destination in mind. Makes me want to just forget about all my troubles and live in the moment. Plus, it has infectious melodies that would win anyone over. Grab a beer, download this EP, and kick back! If they are playing a show in your area, don’t miss it! You can check Dowsing out here: http://dowsing.bandcamp.com/
I was sent a link to the Pumps bandcamp awhile ago and finally got a chance to check it out. This 5 piece punk rock powerhouse from Brooklyn, NY is definitely a band to be on the lookout for. I must say, at first listen I wasn’t so sure if I liked the vocals, but after several more listens, they grew on me. I’m usually not into gruff vocals, but they pull it off. They aren’t too gruff and that’s why it appeals to me. They remind me of The Copyrights and a harder sounding Dopamines, which is a good thing in my opinion. The first song, “Pin in the Map” which happens to be the name of the EP as well, is a high-powered ditty with catchy vocal melodies and wonderful harmonies. I love gang vocal harmonies (that is the only way I can think to describe these) that periodically appear throughout the entire song. Off to a good start, boys. Next comes “City of the Damned”. Again, we are hit with racing guitar lines, solid drum beats, and strong vocals. I like the little breakdown in the middle, which gives it an interesting spin. Also, gotta love the “Coming to America” sound clip at the end of the song. Lol! “You vs. You” gives us some more of those wonderful gang vocal harmonies. There is even a Braid-like ‘HEY” thrown into the song. I love me some Braid so this song gets an A+. They end the EP with “Die Young”. Yet another catchy chorus that makes me want to join in and finger point til the cows come home! I think it is a solid song to end the Ep on. Overall, a great punk rock EP. Can’t wait to see what comes next, and hopefully I will get to see these guys live one day. If you would like to check out Pumps, you can listen to and download their Ep here: http://pumps.bandcamp.com/
I haven’t done a review in a while! i apologize to anyone who’s been asking for reviews. I’m going to try to catch up now that work isn’t so busy. First review back is for a fun-loving punk rock band called Sore Subjects! Hailing from Chicago, IL, this 3 piece is sure to get you up and moving. I’m usually not partial to Ramonescore bands, but they are doing it for me. The first song on their debut s/t 7″, “Gimme a Dee Dee” has just enough snottiness and punch to grab my attention. I love the back and forth vocals. For some reason I’m always a sucker for those. Also, the lyrical content is great! i want a Dee Dee! Next comes “Sore Head”. I really like the duel female and male vocals. Just a simple straight up punk song with a catchy melody. “Tall Boys” is my 2nd favorite song off the 7″. This would be the song that gets me up to the front screaming lyrics in the singer’s faces! Please come to New Jersey so I can make this a reality. We end on “Schlitze” which is the shortest song on the release. Not much to say about this song. It doesn’t stand out like the others, and is kind of just there. Not bad, but nothing special. All in all, I really enjoy this band. I bet they are super fun live. If you want to check them out, you can here: http://www.soresubjects.com/
i have been extremely busy for weeks, and looks like that isn’t going to come to an end soon. i will try to maybe update this blog with new reviews in the following weeks, but no guarantees, unfortunately. i’m really looking forward to when i have some time to review such bands as black wine, sore subjects, anderson council, dowsing, etc. maybe by august i’ll be able to get back to reviewing, but until then, you will just have to wait! haha
Billy Raygun/Lipstick Homicide Split LP
I know these are only teaser tracks from the upcoming split LP coming out June 15th on John Wilkes Booth Records / Bloated Kat Records, but I really wanted to review both bands, and well this is the most recent recordings so far. Billy Raygun is a pop punk band that hail from New Hampshire and give you a lot of bang for your buck! “The Selfish Shellfish (What Are We Gonna Do Now?)” is a fun and quick ditty that gets the heart pumping. The beginning of the song kind of reminds me of “Anthem for a New Amanda” by The Ergs! Don’t know if that is just pure coincidence or a bit of a tribute. Either way, I think it’s awesome. The vocals remind me of Saves the Day with the instrumentation of any top-notch pop punk band out there today. The guitar riffs and solid drumming, mixed with an enticing vocal melody are really enjoyable. I must say, I find their sound very refreshing and youthful. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the songs on the LP, boys!
Next up is Iowa’s Lipstick Homicide. I’ve checked out this band before, but this is the first time I’m actually giving them a proper listening to. “The Prom” is a very poppy, catchy song with high energy music, and sugary vocal melodies and harmonies. It is unbelievable how much this sounds like The Unlovables. I could imagine this song being played in some cheese-tastic teen movie (this is not a bad thing; I’m a sucker for those types of movies). I would love to see this band live. Come to the East Coast please!
You can check these songs out here: http://brnh.bandcamp.com/album/billy-raygun-lipstick-homicide-split
This is my first J Mascis solo record experience, and I must say it is a good one. If you are into the prettier, slower Dinosaur Jr. songs, then you will absolutely love this record. It’s a whole collection of acoustic jams that warm the heart, yet have a bit of melancholy thrown into the mix, which isn’t very surprising. Right from the start you get hit with some light and airy tunes such as “Listen to Me”, “Several Shades of Why”, and “Very Nervous Love”. I really love the guitar and violin melodies in “Several Shades of Why”. It really gives a very folky feel which I love. “Not Enough” may be my favorite song on the album. The harmonies are beautiful. There is something about Mascis’ voice that soothes my soul, and there is no exception here. The use of flute in “Make it Right” really makes me happy. There is not enough flute usage in songs today. Maybe I’m biased since I used to be a flautist, but there is nothing like the whimsical sound a flute can add to a song. I also enjoy the finger picking on this song. It just makes the mind wander to a magical place. “Where are You” has a great vocal melody and some more wonderful harmonies. It’s a feel good song. Finally, we come to the end of this musical journey. “Too Deep” uses minimal instrumentation. It’s just a one guitar playing a solid melody and Mascis’ vocals. Shortest song on the album, but very endearing. “Can I” is a very Dinosaur Jr.-esque song. In fact, when I first heard it, I thought it had been taken from a Dino Jr. album. The looming guitar parts and melancholy vocals are fit for any rainy day record listening session. I was curious about the last song, “What Happened”. I decided to look up the lyrics and of course, they are pretty depressing, but nicely written. I really enjoy Mascis’ songwriting, and appreciate what he has to offer to the musical world. If you want to check out what he’s been up to lately, please visit his website: http://jmascis.com
One of my favorite current bands in New Jersey today, Brick Mower brings me back to the days of trying to write high school term papers, while daydreaming of being in my very own alt rock indie band. This talented 3 piece kicks out the jams that will get your fists pumping, and have you drunkenly yelping along to their catchy tunes. I dive right into the first song on “Under the Sink,” and I must say it is not a favorite of mine. The chords are strange and I’m not too into it. This may be a song that I grow to love though. I am very fanatical about things sounding right, and well, it drives me insane when it doesn’t. There are some exceptions to the rule though, and eventually “Tuxedo Bitch” might be one of them. The second song, “Slow Too Fast” comes right in and is a heavy hitter. It is definitely a step up from the first song. Lots of loud, distorted guitars intertwined with a steady drum beat. I can pick up the Superchunk influence in this song, and I love the little bass solo. It’s a quick one, but really catchy. This may be my favorite song on the album. “Weaving”, “Voula’s Lament”, and “Instant Rectification” are all upbeat, straight forward rock songs that keep the record flowing as it moves along. “Voula’s Lament” stands out to me with the back and forth guitar and bass in the beginning, and continues to captivate me with a really catchy chorus and solid melody. I’m halfway through the record and it is starting to envelop me. “Garden Variety” has a strange melody and chugs right along. Makes me want to throw my arms up in the air, and dance around like a fool. In fact, I think I may have done this a couple of times the last time I saw this band. “Lungs Can’t Handle” keeps the record rolling. This hard-hitting rock song with repetitive, jolty lyrics makes me want to hit someone in the shoulder (no apologies, man!). The short instrumental bridge really adds something to the song. “Radiator” slows things down for a bit. Eric must have been channeling Sebadoh when writing this song. The fuzzed out bass is absolutely fantastic as it weaves in and out of the delicate guitar melody. Eric’s vocals remind me of a mix between Eric Gaffney and Lou Barlow, which contributes to the whole Sebadoh feeling the song emanates. The album comes to an end with such songs as “Looks Like What Gives”, “Cowboy in a Nutshell”, and “Sea to Function”. The longest song on the album, breaking the 4 minute mark is “Cowboy in a Nutshell”. I think this is a great song, but think it could have gotten the point across if it had been a bit shorter. The clever lyrics mixed with Eric’s gritty vocals really make the song interesting. The crazy instrumental ending is cool, but again, a bit drawn out and could have been shortened. Just the opinion of one song writer to another. We finally come to the last song on the album, which is one of my favorites live. The chorus is so infectious and I find it gets stuck in my head all the time. I’m not sure I would have ended the album with this song, but it’s super fun to bounce around a basement to. All in all, I think this is a pretty solid first album for Brick Mower. Kudos guys and gal! If you would like to check out the band, you can hear all their current releases here: http://brickmower.bandcamp.com. You can also purchase this album through the band or viking on campus records which I have listed a link under record label to your right.