Tiny Moving Parts – Pleasant Living

TMP

 

Pleasant Living is certainly an interesting listen. With emo and post hardcore being the two main influences, it wouldn’t be difficult to expect subdued melodies and somewhat depressing lyrics. With so many  bands embracing the same “sad” Midwestern emo sound, there aren’t many ways to escape from the monotony. Admittedly, many bands embody the sound very well; it’s absolutely the reason why the emo revivalist movement has exploded in popularity, especially the past few years. Tiny Moving Parts have allowed themselves to stand out from their peers with just a few tweaks to the proven formula. Armed with a more energetic, pop punk approach and lyrics encroaching on endearingly hopeful territory, Pleasant Living is a breath of fresh air. From the Modest-Mouse aping guitars (this is a compliment, of course) in the beginning of “Movies” to the concluding yell of “There is so much more/Out there waiting” in the mostly subdued “Skinny Veins”, the album is proof that bands can still stand out from a glut of bands within the scene.

The continuity of the album is incredibly impressive, as it sounds natural without the tracks sounding too similar to distinguish from one another. The catchy qualities of the album are also at the forefront of Pleasant Living, providing plenty of vocal hooks (“Sundress”) and memorable angular guitar lines (“Always Focused”). The absolutely anthemic “Boxcar” is a foot-stomping and invigorating song from start to finish, transitioning from a low-key sound complete with hushed vocals to an energetic frenzy with ease several times in the two and a half minute runtime. It’s more than just a strength of the band, as they make those transitions quite a bit throughout the entirety of the album; it’s actually the biggest determining factor that allows them to stand out. “Entrances and Exits” display some of the best lyrics on the album, and also some of the most incisive lyrics about the topic of friendships in general. Tiny Moving Parts are able to make themselves seem human through their lyrics and music, which is the biggest compliment that a band can receive.

With all of the praise heaped onto this album, there is still some room for improvement. The lyrics range from incredibly insightful to full-on cheesiness at times, and while it fits with their aesthetic it does detract from an otherwise excellent release. Closer “Van Beers” add piano and horns to their sound, and they have never sounded more natural or energized because of it. It points to an even better progression for the next album, but Pleasant Living is a more than welcome placeholder while Tiny Moving Parts perfect their sound.

Rating: 4.2/5

Tracklist:

01. Sundress
02. Always Focused
03. Fourth of July
04. I Hope Things Go The Way I Hope
05. Whiskey Waters
06. Movies
07. The Better Days
08. Boxcar
09. Spring Fever
10. Entrances & Exits
11. Skinny Veins
12. Van Beers

The Copyrights – Report

Have you ever had a moment when listening to a record where you put your head in you hands and wonder, “How in the hell are these guys so talented? How is it possible to write an album that is so consistently catchy?” Well folks, wait no more, because if you like pop-punk in the vein of Screeching Weasel, The Lillingtons, and The Riptides then this album will do it for you.

Report, the newest effort from Illinois’ The Copyrights, is their most solid release to date. The boys pump out 14 songs where each one is equally as catchy and anthemic as the last. The album’s opening track “Slider” kicks the record off with a cool and low-key bass riff that then explodes into an unapologetically powerful intro that firmly plants the standard for the rest of the record.The melodies and hooks on this album are insane, drawing from what seems to be every instrument in their ensemble to contribute to the sing along choruses. Innovative and interesting bridges (see “Stuck in The Fall”) remind the listeners that this is a band that has over a decade of writing and touring under their belts and are only getting better. The sheer singability (see what I did there?) of this record alone makes it everything that this reviewer could want from a modern day pop-punk album.

The only gripe that I have with this album is the lyrics. The Copyrights have a knack for being able to cleverly say the same things on each of their records. For the most part, the standard pop-punk themes of struggling with money, relationships, and trying to have a good time through it all abound. The saving grace in this respect is that the lyrics are so catchy that it makes me want to claw my eyes out (in a good way). They didn’t try to reinvent the lyrical wheel on this release and that adds to its charm. They are what they are, and what they are is a pop-punk band that has honed their specific sound to the best version of themselves yet.

You can check out Report via Red Scare Industries.

Score: 5/5

1. Slider
2. Heart Of Glue
3. Telescope
4. Stuck In The Fall
5. This World Is Such A Drag
6. Keep The Change
7. Worlds On Fire
8. No Knocks
9. Fireworks
10. Wishbone
11. The New Frontier
12. Try So Hard
13. Basement
15. Away We Go

The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

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If you are anything like me, then you have been following The Gaslight Anthem’s career for a while now. You fell in love with their gritty yet whimsical sound in Sink or Swim and Senor and the Queen, then again with the 1950’s-esque heartfelt and innovative sound of The ’59 Sound. You were probably a little surprised by the almost London Calling ethos (not sound) of American Slang but thought, “This is still obviously the Gaslight Anthem, so I can get behind it.” Then when Handwritten came out, you probably thought “This is kind of boring but still good songwriting. Way more mainstream than their other releases, but whatever. They are still pretty close to the band I love.”

If all of this is true then 1: We should probably hang out (because we like, TOTALLY click, you know?) and 2: When the Gaslight Anthem’s newest release Get Hurt dropped last month you were probably a little bit…confused. Track one, entitled “Stay Vicious”, sounds like they are trying way too hard to sound like a worse Audioslave. Then they tried to remind everyone that they were still The Gaslight Anthem by going back to a light and melodic kind-of chorus. In its entirety, the song just sounds inorganic and forced, which makes me uncomfortable as a listener.

Their next song “1,000 Years” is kind of a bridge between “Stay Vicious” and the more classic Gaslight sound. The lyrics are a little more personal, and the over all sound is a little less comically abrasive. The feel of the song is more reminiscent of The Hold Steady as opposed to a weird Sound Garden yielding a more organic feel that makes a little bit more sense when looking at Gaslights larger body of work. Then, out of the mist and confusion comes the albums title track, Get Hurt. Track three sets the tone for the rest of the album both sonically and lyrically. The bulk of the lyrics are the musings of a sensitive man dealing with love, loss, starting over and deciding where to go from here. Instrumentally speaking, the rest of the album fits nicely in a category with the other slow and mid tempo songs in the Gaslight catalogue. Granted, the album is lacking its songs similar to “We Came to Dance”, “The 59 Sound”, “American Slang” and “Handwritten”, but singles don’t define a band. The personality is between the hits, and Get Hurt has a ton of personality.

I realize saying this will put me in the minority of reviewers but overall, I really like this album. Yes it is different and yes I HATE the opening track, but after track one every song has its place within the album and makes sense aesthetically speaking. In an interview with Noisey, lyricist and front man Brian Fallon admitted that critics probably wouldn’t like Get Hurt at all but the fans will grow to love it and accept the album as a practical next step in the progression of the band. This seems to ring true, but I think that it’s a little of an overstatement. Anyone who appreciates The Gaslight Anthem’s more bluesy songs and lyrics will like this album from the get go. I would be surprised if the long time fans were not at least accepting of the album, providing they went into it with an open mind.

Get Hurt is a personal favorite of mine overtaking both American Slang and Handwritten in songwriting, both sonically and lyrically. After the initial speed bump of the opening track, it becomes one of the better put together albums they have released in recent memory. To the skeptical die-hard fans I say this: Just give it a chance, kids. You may be surprised.

Track List:

1. “Stay Vicious” 3:33
2. “1,000 Years” 3:38
3. “Get Hurt” 3:43
4. “Stray Paper” 2:48
5. “Helter Skeleton” 3:13
6. “Underneath the Ground” 4:05
7. “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” 2:50
8. “Red Violins” 3:20
9. “Selected Poems” 2:53
10. “Ain’t That a Shame” 3:02
11. “Break Your Heart” 4:20
12. “Dark Places” 3:44

Score: 4.25/5

The Best Artists You’ve Never Heard Of

The strength of unknown music continues to grow exponentially; more and more bands have access to better recording equipment, and with little to no outside influence bands are getting very experimental in all genres. With that being said, there is a downside to this as well. As the pool of bands gets bigger, it becomes harder to stand out. Here are five artists that have managed to stand out from the rest, whether it be through progressing through strange sonic territory or just plain improving on formulas already existent.

1. Fearless Leader

Fearless Leader Album Art

 

I feel like I’ve been shouting about these guys from the rooftops for quite some time, because they are just so damn fun. Jazzy, spastic drums, impassioned screaming, and angular guitars are the key ingredients for this Seattle band, but it isn’t quite what makes this band so unique. They toe the line between a fun listen and serious one as they aren’t afraid to eschew technicality for atmosphere when the song’s progression calls for it. Fearless Leader will be going places once a full-length comes to be, make no mistake about that.

Genre: Math Rock

 

Bandcamp: http://fearlessleader.bandcamp.com/

 

2. MC Abyss

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David Armacost, going by the moniker of MC Abyss, has released some seriously spacey hip-hop. By juxtaposing smooth beats with crushing synths and other effects, Abyss has effectively given us some strong hip-hop to jam in the final frontier. His EP  Off World is meant to go along with a serial graphic novel that Armacost is working on, but the release itself tells an original story and leaves one to wonder what sonic boundaries he will be able to break on a full-length.

Genre: Hip-Hop

 

Soundcloud: 

 

3. Oxford Drama

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Oxford Drama show how beautiful and ethereal pop music can be, and are a perfect example of why I haven’t given up on the genre as a whole. Low-key electronics mesh organically with sultry female vocals to create songs that seemingly float by inoffensively, until you find yourself singing the lyrics to yourself hours later. This is music that ebbs and flows like a live organism, and certainly deserves to be heard by the masses.

Genre: Electronic/Pop

 

Bandcamp: http://oxforddrama.bandcamp.com/

 

4. lovechild

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This band is just perfect; pissed off hardcore punk songs that aren’t afraid to be mid-tempo even with short lengths. The vocals are sneering and the lyrics are somehow satirical and impassioned at the same time. In-your-face feedback and spastic drums greet you from the beginning and never let up in the less than fifteen minutes of material present. The replay value for these guys is incredible, and they are sure to make a name for themselves if they stick around.

Genre: Hardcore Punk

 

Bandcamp: http://whoislovechild.bandcamp.com/

 

5. Three Thrones

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Three Thrones rules. They riff, riff, and then they riff some fucking more. This instrumental threesome have created music that is simultaneously heavy and fun. The psychedelic passages pave the way for a rollicking good time, and these guys straight up sound like Mastodon on acid with an identity of their own. I can only imagine what their live show is like, but these guys deserve all the support that they can get.

Genre: Sludge/Doom/Psychedelic

Bandcamp: http://threethrones.bandcamp.com/