Thursday, June 28, 2012

Album Review: The Dopamines - Vices

This review has also been published on DyingScene.

“Something is different here.”

That’s the first thought that entered my head when I put on Vices, the third full length by Cincinnati’s Dopamines, for the first time. It’s a fairly accurate assessment of the album without actually committing to any real description of what it sounds like. But in a nutshell, describing Vices as “different” when compared to the band’s previous output is as good a way as any to describe it.

Vices finds the Dopamines in a tough position. Their last full length album, 2010’s Expect the Worst, was incredibly well received by the punk community at large, being full of alcohol-soaked tunes that were raw and jaded for the punks, and melodic enough for the pop punk kids to also get behind it. So how exactly does a band release a follow up to one of the strongest punk albums of the century so far?*

They just record another album and hope for the best**.

The production value on Vices is the most crisp that the band has sounded, almost to the point where the album is kind of like a slicker version of their self titled debut. While Expect the Worst also had a nice audio quality to it, the sound on Vices is refined and the energy, while still present, is more contained. There are some weirder chord progressions and time signatures than ever before, particularly on the album opener, “You’re So Vain Part II” (seriously, the song shifts gears about four or five times in its 90 second playtime) and the title track. Then there’s “Don’t Mosh the Organ” which does this odd thing where it begins to fade out but then fades back in mere seconds later, the purpose of which is a mystery. House Boat does the same thing on their song “21st Century Breakroom” so maybe they’re just trying to start a new fad for pop punk bands to follow.

Other than the changes in production and slight mixing up of song composition, Vices is straight up Dopamines. Throughout the album’s ten tracks, the band continues to tackle the lyrical subjects of failure, getting drunk, broken homes, drug dependency, and not succeeding (also known as "failing")- all themes that so many jaded punks can relate to in this day and age of dead-end jobs after years of promises of a brighter future. The choruses are still huge, the instrumentation is still solid, and the songs are still over before the three minute mark.

Heads Up, Dusters!” is a re-recording of the same song from Portrait Parle, last year’s split EP with Dear Landlord, and while it does little to change the actual composition, the new recording fits the flow of the album better than the original version would have. “Paid in Full” is a classic Dopamines anthem, proclaiming “At least we can say, say that we tried, and it got us nowhere” during the chorus. “Kitchen Cleaners” and “10 Stories” showcase the band’s ability to combine big hooks with a driving guitar and bass attack, and cram it all into a neat package.  

Vices has so many elements of a Lookout release that it would have no problem fitting in right at home between Kerplunk and Our Bodies OurSelves. On the surface it seems like a drastically different album for the Dopamines to have recorded, but once you dig deep down you’ll find that not much has changed at all. Whereas Expect the Worst seized listeners upon first listen and subdued them into loving it with its raw intensity, Vices takes a gentler approach, allowing for its listeners to gradually accept it after the third or fourth listen. However, once Vices has you in its grips though, you won’t want it to ever let go.

*This should go without saying, but this statement does not reflect the opinion of every individual involved in the punk scene. It is merely a generalization based on the large amount of positive feedback  for “Expect the Worst”.
**I realize that ‘hoping for the best’ is the exact opposite of what the Dopamines do. Just go with it.

PS The whole album is streaming on the Alternative Press website. You can check it out here. I'm not sure how long the stream will be up though, so go listen to it asap!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Album Review: House Boat - 21st Century Breakroom

This review has also been published on DyingScene.

House Boat is a pop punk supergroup that features current and former members of the Steinways, the Ergs!, Off With Their Heads, Short Attention, Dirt Bike Annie, Dear Landlord, Psyched to Die, Barrakuda McMurder, and at least a few dozen other bands. And that’s only with four members! You probably knew that already, but if you’ve somehow missed out on House Boat in the last few years then it’s important to know where these guys are coming from.

21st Century Breakroom is, to point out the extremely obvious, a nod to Green Day and their 2009 album 21st Century Breakdown. In another nod to Green Day, the album’s title track is a multi-part song that runs for 9 minutes and 25 seconds. However, while the title and composition of the track are reminiscent of Green Day’s latter-day works, the actual music on 21st Century Breakroom owes a great deal more to Green Day’s early material, particularly 1992’s Kerplunk.  Although it might just be easier to say that it sounds like House Boat.

That’s right, in spite of its Jesus of Suburbia-esque playtime, 21st Century Breakroom actually sounds like a bunch of House Boat songs written in such a manner that they naturally flow together as one piece of art. Stylistically the band hasn’t changed much, the music is played fast, and guitarist / vocalist Grath Madden’s lyrics continue to reflect his sense of self deprecation and average-Joe living (some gems include “I just want to get high and watch basketball games all night” and “My idea of fun is reading comic books and crying while I masturbate”). At one point around the four minute mark there’s even a blatant callback to the Steinways classic "((Holy Shit) I Can't Believe I Still Don't Have) A Girlfriend".

While Grath is the most prominent vocalist in the band, the other guys in the band still get their turn at the mic. Drummer Mikey Erg gets in his verse during the hardcore segment about 5 and a half minutes into the track, while guitarist Zack Gontard is limited to harmonies and background vocals, and bassist Ace, who has gotten his fair share of spotlight on previous House Boat tracks, is seemingly absent in the vocal department (unless that’s also him screaming during the hardcore part, but it doesn’t really sound much like him).

Just after 8 minutes (and some change), the track begins to embark on its questionable fading out. Not only does choosing to fade out a song into oblivion bear the mark of laziness, but the song also begins to fade away while there’s still a full minute left. It’s a move that’s very unlike House Boat, as well as all of the bands that each member has been a part of, so what’s the deal with opting to use it now? To psyche out the listener, of course, as the song slowly creeps back to life after less than ten seconds of silence (only to then end not long afterward).

The second track on 21st Century Breakroom is a much shorter song. At 31 seconds, Suburban Grit is House Boat’s shortest song (just beating out the 32 second Every Day from the band’s debut, The Delaware Octopus) and it plays like one of Grath’s songs with Short Attention. Or one could say that it also sounds like a song by the Steinways. Or you know, it just sounds like House Boat. 

21st Century Breakroom is nothing like House Boat has done before, and yet everything about it is classic House Boat. Let’s just leave it at that.

RIYL: The Steinways, The Ergs!, Short Attention, Green Day (circa 1992)

Stream/buy it on bandcamp!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Album Review: Mixtapes - Even on the Worst Nights

This review was originally published on DyingScene.

Since forming in 2010, Cincinnati, Ohio’s Mixtapes have released two mini-LPs, six EPs (including a split with Direct Hit!), two singles and have made several compilation appearances. That’s not too shabby for a band that didn’t even have a full line up until after they started recording music. Two years and approximately fifty songs later, the band has put their songwriting abilities to the test by finally recording a proper full length album – a daunting task considering they’ve never recorded anything that exceeded twenty minutes in length.
Yet, daunting as it may be, the band does not come up short. The songs themselves aren’t too different from what the world has come to expect from Mixtapes: light-hearted melodies, duel vocals provided by guitarists Ryan Rockwell and Maura Weaver, sarcastic lyrics poking fun at various targets in pop culture, less sarcastic lyrics about self discovery, song lengths averaging one to two minutes, and song titles that usually aren’t sung anywhere in the song’s lyrics. Even on the Worst Nights offers all of these things, and then some.

It’s important to note that while Even on the Worst Nights sounds exactly like what everyone thought that it would sound like, it is still an incredibly fun album. From the fifty-four second opener “Seven Mile” and the recycled lyrics used in “Anyways” to the nonsensical chants of “da na na na na na na nana” in “Just When You Thought It Was Over” and the acoustic-to-full band instrumentation of “You & I”, the album is filled to the brim with everything that made people fall in love with the band in the first place, haters not included. True-to-form, the band targets other musicians in their lyrics (“I’ll Give You a Hint, Yes” shows the band is unafraid to tackle Grammy winners by singing “You keep on listening to that Bon Iver record/I don’t get it- but maybe that’s the point”) but they are also always sure to keep their collective tongues firmly pressed against their collective cheeks (“I’m living vicariously through these lyrics from assholes who never even got it anyway” from “Anyways”). Essentially, they haven’t changed a thing except applying their techniques to write a collection of sixteen songs rather than the usual four or five.

One of my favorite things about Mixtapes is that there usually isn’t a clear distinction between “Maura” songs and “Ryan” songs like most bands with two singers will do. Sure- sometimes Maura sings more verses in a song, or Ryan’s vocals might take over the chorus in another song, but overall the two share the spot of lead singer evenly throughout the album’s runtime. The two vocalists are just as in tune with each other as ever, playing with the dynamics presented by having a vocalist who can sing sweetly and another vocalist who sounds a little bit like Fat Mike. And let’s not let the presence of bassist Michael Remley and drummer Boone Haley go unnoticed: the band’s songs have had a more fleshed out and complete feel to them since the addition of a stable rhythm section. And now that their lineup has been solidified for awhile, the band has found their groove in writing songs together, allowing for more tightly written songs that are inclusive of everyone in the band, rather than sounding like each song was originally written for an acoustic guitar and then had the other pieces built around it.

As a broke post-grad working a dead end job that uses absolutely zero of the skills I picked up in school, it’s hard to pick the album highlights when every song is so easy to relate to and sing along with. In addition to some of the previously mentioned tracks, “I’m Wearing the Device (Bridge, Water)” stands out as an anthem for anyone undergoing any sort of identity confusion, while the bored youth may prefer the energetic apathy found in the 1-2 punch of “Something Better” and “Hey Ma PT. 2”. The mid-tempo “Russian House DJ” finds the band experimenting with two sets of lyrics a la Taking Back Sunday, with one set taking the foreground while the second is layered in the back, and the acoustic “Golden Sometimes” harkens back to the good old days of 2010 keeping the instrumentation to a minimum while the lyrics tell a sad tale. In terms of composition, “Golden Sometimes” could almost be a sequel to “And If We Both Fail?” off Maps, being one of those rare sequels where the cast is all new and the plot is only somewhat related to the first but it still manages to pull off being highly enjoyable. Album closer “Mt. Hope” clocks in at 4 minutes, becoming the longest song in the band’s catalog while simultaneously being one of the best songs they’ve ever written.

“Even on the Worst Nights” even features guest appearances by Grath Madden (House Boat, ex-Steinways) on the previously mentioned “Anyways” and Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell (The Wonder Years) on the aforementioned closer “Mt. Hope”. The transition that each guest takes into their verses is seamless, with each sticking to their strengths (Grath’s self deprecation and Soupy’s determination for a better world) while not disturbing the flow of their respective songs. The influence of both bands is also apparent on Mixtapes, from the incredibly House Boat-esque guitar riffing on “Just When You Thought It Was Over” to the gang vocals on “Basement Manners” that sound like they could’ve been ripped straight from The Upsides. Even on the Worst Nights takes the best of the two different realms of pop punk, the snotty Ramones-core and the friend-oriented ‘easycore’, and throws it all together in one convenient package. By creating this album, Mixtapes have closed the gap between the branches of pop punk ever so slightly, and much more successfully than previous attempts from other bands.

On the surface Even on the Worst Nights has nothing particularly ground breaking about it. It sounds like everything that the band has put out in the past year. In fact, they could have just put together a compilation of their EP tracks and called it a debut full length like other bands do, instead of going into the studio and recording sixteen new songs for an album, as well as an undetermined amount of b-sides for future singles and compilation appearances. And yet, in spite of all of that, Even on the Worst Nights is one of the best pop punk albums of the year. Hyperbole much? Hardly. If you’ve listened to the album, you’d agree.

RIYL: House Boat, The Wonder Years, Direct Hit!, modern pop punk in general

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Album Review: Best Practices - The EP LP

This review was originally published on DyingScene.

Best Practices are a garage punk band from Providence, RI. Among their ranks are members of Weak Teeth and former members of Light the Fuse and Run, and Wow, Owls!. Their songs are short and fast. Their nine song debut album, the somewhat confusingly titled “The EP LP,” clocks in at 12 minutes. It’s that kind of album.

I have to admit that I’m unfamiliar with the bands that the members of Best Practices came from, but while I can’t make any accurate statements about how the music compares I can say that The EP LP is damn good. The closest comparison that I can come up with is the new Joyce Manor album, “Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired.” They’ve got a few things in common: there are nine tracks, you can listen to the entire album several times in an hour, shouted vocals and there’s lots of distortion and feedback throughout.

And yet, whereas Joyce Manor has a heavy indie influence running throughout their songs, Best Practices takes a hardcore approach to their brand of garage punk. Shouted vocals are generally a staple of garage bands, but there’s a raw sense of energy found in vocalist Jeff Byers’ vocal delivery that owes more to Keith Morris than Roger Daltrey.

I must have listened to the EP LP at least three or four times while writing this. I know that doesn’t reflect well for my typing skills, but the problem is that every time I start it over, I have to stop writing to play air instruments along with a song or two. Is that kind of embarrassing to admit? A tad, but I think it also speaks volumes about the EP LP. Whether the album’s title reflects that it was originally intended to be released as several EPs or if it reflects the LP’s short playtime is unclear, but what is clear is that Best Practices plays it loud, fast, and hard. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Album Review: Dogjaw - Pilot

This review was originally published on DyingScene.

Let’s clear some things up before getting to the review. There appear to be at least two bands named Dogjaw. This review is about the three piece punk band called Dogjaw from West Virginia, whose debut album is on Solidarity Recordings. They should not be confused with the Dogjaw from Washington, who have just released an album on Rumbletowne Records. If you ask me, I think it’s kind of funny that two bands with the same name would release new albums so close to each other. Perhaps the two bands should get together and see if either wants to spell their name differently, or just outright change it. Or maybe they’re cool with co-existing peacefully. Anyway, now that it’s been cleared up, on to the review!

If the West Virginian Dogjaw’s Facebook page is to be believed, their influences include Dead to Me and Cobra Skulls. If the music on their debut album, Pilot, is any indication, then their Facebook page should be believed. Blending a love for the post-2000 Fat Wreck sound with a crooning vocal style, Dogjaw has constructed a solid, and rather enjoyable, album for anyone who is a fan of melodic punk rock.

As I alluded to earlier, Dogjaw sounds like Dead to Me musically. Specifically they have a sound that’s a cross between the straight forward punk of Cuban Ballerina and the melodic diversity of African Elephants. This is by no means a bad thing, but it’s hard to listen to this album without thinking of Dead to Me. They don’t always sound like Dead to Me. “Insulting the Chieftain” sounds like it could have been ripped from the Cobra Skulls discography, while other tracks like “Pecan Sandies” and “Tidal Fight” hint at Dillinger Four or Banner Pilot as influences. And sometimes they also sound like Dead to Me, did I mention that yet?

Perhaps the thing that makes Dogjaw stand out as more than a mere Dead to Me ripoff is the chilling vocals provided by frontman Jim Price. Rather than having a gruff shout like so many punk bands these days, Price’s vocals have a soft, almost haunting, quality to them. While this crooning style is usually reserved for horror punk and psychobilly bands (or the Smoking Popes), Price’s voice never sounds out of place with the music, helping Dogjaw establish their own identity to set them apart from other bands.

Pilot is a solid freshman effort from Dogjaw, setting a strong foundation for the band to build upon. At times it does sound a little bit too much like some of their influences, but it also has signs that the band is already refining a sound to call their own. If Pilot is any indication, with a little tweaking Dogjaw has what it takes to become a force of their own within the punk scene.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Album Review: Beside Myself - Here's to You

This review was originally published on DyingScene.

Beside Myself play a melodic brand of punk rock comparable to popular (relatively) punk acts like Jawbreaker, Dead to Me, and the electric side of Brian Moss’ countless projects. Here’s to You, the new album by Beside Myself, is filled with catchy anthems and sing-along choruses which should be appealing to any jaded punk rocker. For anyone who would prefer spending a night out on the porch with PBR and a pack of smokes rather than going to a show, this might be the album for you.

The best thing about Here’s to You is that it wastes absolutely no time for the listener. Its eight songs clock in at just shy of twenty one minutes and the band makes excellent use of that time. Take Time, the opening track on Here’s to You, kicks things off on a strong note with a melody that would be right at home on 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. From there the band continues with their sometimes shouted, sometimes sung dual vocal approach with similarly infectious tunes such as Part Two or the very Dead to Me-esque Overboard (or at least prior to the solo it sounds very much like Dead to Me).

Beside Myself doesn’t even waste time when it comes to the hidden track- just seconds after Overboard fades out, the band kicks in to a fairly faithful rendition of the Jam’s That’s Entertainment. While played with more distortion, the cover doesn’t do much to change the original, but it is a nice treat to those who are worried when first seeing that the final track is listed at six minutes long.

The instrumentation and song writing on the album is strong throughout. Although Here’s to You may only be Beside Myself’s debut studio recording, just by listening to the songs it’s clear that this trio is made up of seasoned veterans of the punk scene. The band runs a tight ship, and even though Here’s to You doesn’t bring anything special or new to the proverbial table, it’s still full of fun tunes. If you’ve been patiently waiting for the forgetters’ debut album and feel like you’re losing hope, Beside Myself will help to tide you over.

Album Review: Session 606 - Rebirth

About a month ago Session 606 released their (or rather, his, but more on that later) debut studio EP, Rebirth.  From what I've been told, Rebirth is the first half of what was initially going to be Session 606's debut album, although due to recording costs and whatnot (damn you, economy!) the album was split into two parts with the second EP, Hiatus, coming out in the near future. The EP is only available on bandcamp, with profits going directly into the recording sessions for the Hiatus EP.

So just what is Session 606? Session 606 is the project of Anthony Masington. I'm hesitant to say that it's definitively a "solo project", but Masington is the brains and brawn of Session 606 having composed all the music and having recorded a majority of the music as well (everything except for the drums and percussion on this EP was performed by him). And what does this kind-of-solo-project-but-not-really sound like? A little proggy, but at the same time a little electronic. The Session 606 bandcamp page is tagged as "electro-prog", "electrocore", and "progtronica"- this isn't exactly my genre of expertise but after listening to Rebirth several times I feel confident in saying that those are accurate tags. I don't listen to a whole lot of new prog, but Masington's vocals fit in nicely with bands such as 3 and Coheed and Cambria. His voice is calm but chilling at the same time, helping give a haunting effect to the music. Sometimes the vocals remind me a bit of Anthony Green as well, but again this isn't the stuff I usually listen to so I might be alone in hearing that.

It should be noted that before starting Session 606, Masington was the frontman for The Flatline Symphony (another new prog group that may or may not have been unfairly lumped in with the post-hardcore crowd), as well as a member of Mours (rock project helmed by Coheed and Cambria drummer, Josh Eppard) and the live guitarist for Weerd Science (Josh Eppard's hip hop alter ego). So if the "electro-prog" and "electro-core" tags didn't already intrigue you, hopefully now you're interested.

As I mentioned earlier, Rebirth is available only on bandcamp. There might be a physical edition sometime in the future (released in full alongside Hiatus), but I suggest that you to get into it now. You'll get six great tunes, the gratification of knowing that you'll be directly helping toward the release of the next batch of songs, and you'll have the personal satisfaction that you discovered Session 606 well before that poser in your math class (who thinks that "Ramones" is a brand name) said that Session 606 was their favorite band.

For your convenience, I've embedded the Rebirth player below, but if you'd rather check out the Session 606 Bandcamp page by all means go and do that. From there, you'll also be able to check out the Anorexica EP (it's available for a free download), so maybe you should just go do that.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Album Review: No Such Noise! - Life Goes On

This review was originally published on DyingScene.

No Such Noise! is a band that appears to think that it’s still 1998. The New Jersey six piece’s newest EP, Life Goes On, takes its musical cues from exactly where you’d think they do, winding up with a five song EP that melds ska and pop punk to create something that sounds an awful lot like Less Than Jake, if Less Than Jake was inspired less by the Descendents and ALL, and more by All Time Low and Fall Out Boy.

Musically, these guys have nailed the pop punk and ska combination: the fast palm-muted verses transition smoothly into the quick upstrokes, and the trumpets and sax go back and forth between slowly coming into the mix before the chorus to exploding during the instrumental breaks in songs. It’s absolutely perfect for those who still hold albums like Losing Streak or Turn the Radio Off in high regard.

Lyrically the band members find themselves in an interesting position. Their pop punk roots have them naturally turn to sour songs about failing to attract romance, although their 90’s ska influences are telling them to make the songs self-deprecating while also throwing in a humorous edge. This is evident in a song like the terribly titled “Slutz” which is about a girl that the protagonist wants, but she sleeps around instead of being monogamous, but then it’s revealed that even if she did live the sexual lifestyle that he wants her to, there’s still the huge problem of her being a racist anyway (because it’s okay to be sexist when the person in question is a bigot). On a lighter note, the band also tackles topics of growing up and moving forward blindly into the future on tracks like “Cold Side” and “West Chester”. Arguably these are the stronger songs on Life Goes On, showing a maturity while also not relying on the tired “broken hearted stalker who can’t accept a break up” trope that pop punk bands use so much these days.

Throughout the EP’s five songs, No Such Noise! attempts to have it all by combining their love for upstrokes and brass with a passion for sugary hooks and power chords. It works on some levels, particularly when the band isn’t singing about stalking girls or judging them for their life choices (judging someone for being racist is okay though). With a little bit of work these guys, alongside fellow pop punk/ska aficionados, We Are the Union, are helping bring ska back from the dead for a whole new generation.

In all seriousness though, for a band that is hugely inspired by the third wave ska bands of the 1990’s, No Such Noise! is lacking in the songs about beer department. Let’s work on that, boys.

Album Review: Jump Ship Quick - Where Thieves Cannot Tread

If you've ever thought that the world needed a Christian Right equivalent to Pennywise, look no further than Jump Ship Quick. Their album, Where Thieves Cannot Tread, will be right up your alley.

Everyone else, keep on moving. Nothing to see here.

For a more fleshed out review (recycling some of these jokes), read the DyingScene review here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

100 Songs: Descendents - "Cheer"

Artist: Descendents
Title: Cheer
Album: Enjoy!

I’ve been aware of this song’s existence for as long as I’ve been listening to the Descendents but it was something that I never really paid close attention to until my final semester of school. I was always (and still am) one of those Descendents fans that prefers Milo Goes to College or I Don’t Want to Grow Up, and coupled with the fact that half the tracks on Enjoy! are fart tracks or bogus metal songs, I just never listened to the album that it comes from very much.

Then came my last month of school. I was feeling pretty depressed. I had spent the last four years living with the same friends and it was coming to an end. Not just our living together, but the actual room was being destroyed, too. In fact, the entire Residence Hall that had been my home for the majority of college was being torn down and rebuilt into something “better” (I’ve gone back to visit- it’s impressive but it’s just not the same). I had also just broken up with my girlfriend, my jobs had all come to an end (no more giving tours, hosting radio shows, or signing in late night visitors), and I had no direction on what to do post-college (apathetic white boy problems… I’m aware of this. Don’t worry though [spoiler alert], my degree has come in handy and I’m doing quite well as a minimum wage dishwasher). I knew it wasn’t the end of my life or anything, but I had grown accustomed to living in New Paltz and the idea of moving back to Brooklyn didn’t sit well with me at all.

Anywho, while I was busy drowning in my own self pity, and a bottle of Evan Williams, I had listened every single track off of Expect the Worst by the Dopamines at least forty times. It was around my forty-first play that I decided it was time to look for something a little different- a song to cheer me up.

As you may have guessed, “Cheer” was that song. I put it on solely based on the title. The song itself is still a pretty sad song, but I still hear it as an optimistic song in the long run. The way I hear it, the protagonist is upset about the dissolution of one relationship but he hasn’t completely given up on life- he just needs someone to help cheer him up and get him out of his funk. That’s all he needed. That’s all I needed.

And I found it. In this song, yes, but also in the people around me. I guess the song just helped me to open my eyes and realized I didn’t have to mope around all the time. I had my friends (particularly one friend who was also leaving New Paltz so her schedule was just as clear as mine), and I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I’d see the town. It resonated with me so much that even a few months after leaving school I was still listening to the song so much that I named not one, but two blogs after the lyrics (and its since grown to a facebook page, usernames on several other sites and even re-naming my twitter). I don’t know if it’s my favorite song of all time, but it’s certainly one of the most meaningful songs in my entire music library.


100 Songs (the introduction)

About two weeks ago I decided to start doing a series on 100 songs that have had an impact on my life. Or at the very least songs that are incredibly meaningful to me. I think that's the same thing. It's 2am and I'm tired, leave me alone.

Anyway, I'll be posting them here and on my tumblr page. I'm mostly doing it as a way to get me back into writing for fun- but also because hopefully when I'm done I'll have a nice collection of short essays and writings that I can try to turn it into a book of some sort. Hey, you never know.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Album Review: Mixtapes - Somewhere in Trinsic

So about a month ago (probably more, as my perception of time is pretty off these days) Mixtapes released a teaser EP for their debut full length, Even on the Worst Nights. While the band has released an impressive amount of music in the last two years, they've yet to release a "proper" full length album which is why Even on the Worst Nights is going to be such a big deal. (or so I assume).

Anyway, this teaser EP, Somewhere in Trinsic, is a three song release featuring the title track for the upcoming album and two B-sides. All three songs follow the progression that the band has been making over the last year, and all three sound great. Ever since the release of Hope Is for People they've really begun to refine their sound, and Somewhere in Trinsic shows a lot of progression since then (a whole year ago and then some). The leads are cleaner than they've ever been, as well as more prevalent, and the EP still shows that there's no clear distinction between "Maura" songs and "Ryan" songs and they're all really just Mixtapes songs (for the most part anyhow).

I would say that this EP has gotten me pumped for the release of Even on the Worst Nights, but I've already heard the album (it's also great) so using the future tense would be incorrect. But for fans who haven't heard the full album yet, this EP is definitely an excellent way to get you ready for the album.

Speaking of getting ready for the album, here's another b-side that the band has released. It's called "To My Friends (I Stand By You)". It's a new direction for them, but I think it works. Hopefully an album full of songs like this isn't too far off in the future.