FACT – Witness

FACT

As someone who’s constantly critiquing music, it becomes quite tiresome having to lump every damn band into a specific genre category; let alone their various sub-genres. I mean does it really matter whether it’s rock-n-roll, doom metal or even dream pop? Essentially, only one thing should really matter. Is it enjoyable to listen to?

I introduce you to exhibit A, a Japanese band by the name of FACT that mixes too many musical influences to count on one hand. And yes, their music often makes for a good time behind your headphones. To say they are an interesting band would be a bit of an understatement. Describing their music, however, is even more perplexing. The band’s hefty array of influences ranging from pop-punk to metal allow them to stand out from the pack. They’ve also been known to wear traditional Japanese masks to conceal their identity, but in recent years they’ve all shown their faces. I’ll admit when I stumbled across the band while surfing the net I was sold almost instantly. Something just drew me to them; whether it was the slick artwork of their album or their band name all in caps, I’m not entirely sure.

Although inconsistent, FACT’s newest effort “Witness” is a pretty damn fun and varied listening experience. Hardcore influences are around lurking around every corner with electronic flourishes thrown in sporadically. The first two tracks ‘New Element’ and ‘Drag’ start things off with a bang as they mix pop influenced vocals with some unexpectedly intimidating screams. Other songs like the title track are just plain catchy as hell, and definitely give off a Sum 41 vibe with their sky-high energy levels and similar vocal melodies. Unfortunately there are some real duds as well such as ‘Ape’ which houses the most annoying chorus on the album and ‘2-1′ just comes across as unnecessary with its overdone electronics and random screaming. Thankfully most of these weaker moments are easily overlooked when you hear a song as catchy as ‘Miles Away’ or as aggressive as ‘Devil’s Work’.

There’s really not much else to say about “Witness.” It’s just one of those amusing albums you jam at work to help pass the time. It’s not without its flaws, but the majority of the tracks will have you either banging your head or simply forgetting how tedious life can be; even if it’s just for a moment.

SCORE: 3.25/5

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City and Colour- The Hurry and the Harm

City-and-Colour-The-Hurry-and-The-Harm

Singer/songwriter Dallas Green has built quite the following for himself, and rightfully so. His blend of stratosphere-shattering vocals with heart-rending lyricism has the ability to resonate with a wide variety of fans, from listeners of folk music to modern pop lovers. After third release Little Hell brought more exposure to the band in the form of single “Northern Wind”, they continued on in the same commercial-friendly vein with The Hurry and the Harm.

There is markedly more atmosphere in this album, as evidenced immediately in album opener “The Hurry and the Harm”. The ever present acoustic guitar starts off the song after a bit of built-up distortion, but the beautiful steel guitar in the background sets off Green’s crooning and ethereal vocals even more so than that of past albums. The crystal-clear production continues throughout the entirety of The Hurry and the Harm, and the first four songs breeze by beautifully without any missteps at all. “Of Space and Time” mixes a lush soundscape with hand-wringing self doubt in the lyrics and a triumphantly jangling guitar line, while “The Lonely Life” boasts the most beautiful and ear-catching chorus of the album. Unfortunately, the album slows down dramatically after that. “Paradise” relies heavily on Green’s sincere vocals to succeed, but is ultimately nothing new compared to the back discography of this already-accomplished act. This is truly the album’s crux, as most of the album seems to be a retread of earlier work. The going-through-the-motions ethos is the antithesis of the passion that was present on past albums and marks The Hurry and the Harm as merely enjoyable, nothing more.

It’s a bit head-scratching to think that just a few years ago Green was lyrically at the top of his story-telling game with gem after gem; most tracks seem to contain tired, overused clichés. “Commentators” adopts an unnaturally (for this band, at least) peppy tone that flows awkwardly from the overpowering chorus to yawn-inducing verses. “Thirst” sounds like City and Colour trying to recreate “The Fragile Bird” from their last full-length; while it’s an incredible song in its own right, it feels like a cheap imitation. When “Ladies and Gentlemen” washes over the listener with warm atmosphere and beautiful melodies, it’s too late to name this the band’s best release to date, but not too late to say that this still contains some of the band’s best songs. It unfortunately feels like some of these were left over from Little Hell, and considering the incredible leap from second LP Bring Me Your Love to Little Hell, it was fair to expect a little more progression from this full-length release. As it stands, Dallas Green and company have created some of their best songs and continue to stand out as one of the more distinguishable alternative pop/folk acts.

1. “The Hurry and the Harm” 4:23
2. “Harder Than Stone” 4:26
3. “Of Space and Time” 3:33
4. “The Lonely Life” 4:34
5. “Paradise” 3:38
6. “Commentators” 3:35
7. “Thirst” 3:26
8. “Two Coins” 5:32
9. “Take Care” 3:38
10. “Ladies and Gentlemen” 4:05
11. “The Golden State” 5:18
12. “Death’s Song” 4:43

Score: 4/5