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/

 

 

 

FACT – Witness

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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

City and Colour- The Hurry and the Harm

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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

 

 

 

SINGLE REVIEW: David Nail-“Kiss You Tonight”

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Similar to a young Blake Shelton, consistent radio success has been hard to come by for David Nail. In the 7 singles he’s released to country radio since 2008, his success has been a roller coaster ride. His singles have peaked on the charts at 47–7–20–1–38–1, never able to garner real consistency on the airwaves. He’s looking to turn that around with his latest single “Kiss You Tonight”, the sophomore single from his brand-new album I’m A Fire, riding the waves of his chart-topper “Whatever She’s Got”.

“Kiss You Tonight” isn’t like many of the songs on country radio right now. Typically going into spring/summer, the singles being released are more of a fast-paced party type sound. “Kiss You Tonight” has more of a laid-back contemporary sound to it, which could potentially help it’s cause on the charts. The song was co-written by former American Idol champion David Cook, with established country songwriters Jay Knowles (who’s had success with George Strait/Alan Jackson/Rodney Atkins), and Trent Summar (who’s had success with Gary Allan/Billy Currington/Kip Moore). The song finds David Nail wishing to find redemption in the lost girl of his dreams, nothing unfamiliar for country music.

David Nail’s amazing & infectious vocals, combined with the familiar message in the lyrics, should help this single find the consistent success he’s been longing for on country radio. “Kiss You Tonight” garners an A rating from me, and it’s hard to imagine this song not finding the success it deserves.

For more on David Nail:

@davidnail

http://www.davidnail.com

Or you can find him out on the road, currently as the opening act for Darius Rucker & Eli Young Band on the True Believers Tour

Artists to Watch: Nomads

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Nomads are a hardcore-punk band from Los Angeles California, featuring ex members of Furious Styles, ACxDC and Sleepwalkers. They produce a raw and abrasive type of crust inspired d-beat/hardcore-punk that will make you want to kick the living shit out of something. The fast angry street punk sound infused with breakneck guitar solos, keeps the music interesting throughout their as of yet small discography. Lyrically, the band deals with experiences brought on by former drug abuse as well as distrust and blatant hatred for the L.A. police force. The equation this band has written yields a sum, which emits an aura of danger to it that had me hooked from the very beginning.

The ferocity of this bands sound should probably come as no surprise, considering that Nomads is the union of powerviolence and New York style hardcore. This equation is not entirely unique in the hardcore punk and metal scenes as of late, but Nomads has found a way to derive a sound from it all their own. You can check out their upcoming self released and self titled EP via the link at the bottom of the article as well as streams of their split 7” with Treacherous Kin and their demo.

http://www.cvltnation.com/nomads/

http://melotovrecords.bigcartel.com/product/mltvr018-nomads-treacherouskin-violent-fucking-world-split-7

http://nomadspunk.bandcamp.com/

DEAD INSIDE-Millions Dead EP

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First off, let me be clear about Millions Dead; this is not for the faint of heart. If you enjoy some melody with your aggression, you should probably pop your Emery album back in your car stereo. If the gore on the delightfully malevolent cover (akin to Aborted or General Surgery) is any initial indication, Dead Inside want to give you as violent of a soundtrack as possible, as punishing beatdowns are aplenty here. Incredibly, the guitar is tuned to Drop E, which only makes the affair heavier and more intense. Vocalist Daniel performs admirably on this EP, not only showing a strong range but also giving the listener some incredibly sick and misanthropic lyrics. Truth be told, if Millions Dead seems over-the-top, then you probably aren’t getting the right idea; Dead Inside have intentionally crafted some of the most enjoyable deathcore that I have heard in quite some time, and it is intentionally visceral. The horrific imagery in the lyrics, the slowed down breakdowns, and the beneath-the-depths-of-hell vocals are to create an image of total and complete despondency.

The production on this is truly incredible, especially for a band that is still making a name for itself. The crunch of the guitar and the crashing cymbals echo cleanly while still giving the appropriate amount of grit. Standout track “Severing the Filthy Head From Neck” exemplifies this the best; as the crushingly heavy track hits hard, everything drops out for one of the only respites of melody on Millions Dead. Guitarist Jack Boaden plays a haunting and ominous guitar line as the ending beatdown leaves the listeners bloodied to a pulp and begging for more. As Dead Inside continue to build their sound, one can hope the more moments like this happen on future recordings, as the unique intricacies of Dead Inside’s music reveal themselves with multiple listens. The beginning syncopated drumbeat in “Deicide” is immediately engaging and invigorating, and the line, “If there is a god, he will have to beg for my forgiveness!” is deliciously irreverent. The inclusion of some small movie sound-bytes recall some nostalgic loves of mine (old Through the Eyes of the Dead and Killwhitneydead, anyone?), but also doesn’t detract from the music present on the EP.

Though it is firmly entrenched in the beatdown genre, Millions Dead is impressively heavy and monolithic. There is not much crossover appeal for fans of other extreme metal, who potentially could find the slower, heavier passages arduous. However, there is no doubt that these songs will translate very well in a live setting, and the production quality just propels the release even further. There are a few missteps here and there (“For Every Infant A Body Bag” was unfortunately everything you’ve ever expected out of an intro track, despite the promising name), but overall there is stunning consistency and not a bad track to be found. If you find beatdown music to be your bag, there is not much out there that will be as fun of a listen as this release. Well, what are you waiting for? Grab Millions Dead and “swing like your girlfriend’s pregnant!”.

Rating: 3.8/5

Purchase and stream Millions Dead here.