Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All Review

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You’re Gonna Miss It All is the second full length release from Maryland rockers Modern Baseball, and this should already be considered as an album of the year contender. You’re Gonna Miss It All doesn’t stray far from the catchy, over emotional lyrics of Modern Baseball’s 2012 release Sports, yet there’s no denying the giant leap forward in musicianship and composition here.

The first two tracks on the album; Fine, Great and Broken Cash Machine are as sing-alongy (is that a thing?) as you’d expect from the band, driving guitars and toe tapping percussion, mixed in with lyrics that refuse to leave your head. Followed by Rock Bottom, a first person narrative of longing for love, is like an anthem for the socially awkward punks that devour every offering that Modern Baseball pitches their way.

Throughout the album, vocalists Brendan Lukens and Jacob Ewald deliver powerful, intelligent and witty lines over and over, provoking powerful feelings of love, loss, heartache And in the case of Notes, the 6th track, strong mental imagery of exactly the sort of emotions that everyone can relate to.

Tommy Bowers provides a small acoustic respite, although despite the mellow tempo the listener continues to ride the wave of emotion from the previous songs. The next two tracks  pick up the pace and Your Graduation provides a backdrop for powerful emotional distress in the form of a love lost; a song anyone could relate to. The final song, Pothole is another acoustic “ballad”, similar to I Think You Were In My Profile from Sports. A perfect finish to an album that sends you on an emotional journey of deep thought and self reflection.

Modern Baseball has delivered once again, an excellent album that pulls no punches and keeps you coming back for more. If you liked Sports you’ll love You’re Gonna Miss It All, certainly a more mature album musically, but yet keeps the lyrics as personal as always.

Modern Baseball will be on tour with The Wonder Years, FireworksReal Friends and Citizen this summer in North America.

Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All is available on Run For Cover Records.

http://runforcoverrecords.bandcamp.com/album/youre-gonna-miss-it-all

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Deer Leap – Here. Home. Review

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Here.  Home.  is the first full-length from Windham, New Hampshire’s Deer Leap, and boy is it a gooder. After a split with emo heavy hitters The World as a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, these rockers have produced an excellent 9 song album.

The record starts off with Here, a ethereal journey through the unique musical styling of the band. Mellow vocals and the ever present crash cymbal carry are characteristic of most tracks on this album, a perfect introduction to first time listeners.

Not Penny’s Boat is a beautiful instrumental track that leads into Walls Become The World All Around, another moving track reminiscent of something you’d hear from a band like Dads, albeit a tad heavier and faster. I can’t get over the lyrics on this album, every word feels mulled over and meticulously penned into the most soul crushing, heart pounding wave of emotion you could feel.

The next track, Home follows suit, containing lyrics like “And no one loves you, because you don’t love yourself”. The twinkly guitar work flows through this track in such a way that you can’t help but feel sucked in, feeling the same emotions that vocalist Keith Galvin is feeling himself. Did I mention the sadness?

The percussion work on the next song What Is Dead May Never Die is interesting and quirky, twisting and turning at every possible instant, just as you thought you could start tapping the beat out with your fingers. The song slows down as quickly as it started into a chilled out, soothing passage of self reflection, ending abruptly.

And Every One Of Us Better Than You, the 7th track on Here. Home. is  a fast paced song that is lead in by pounding toms and feedback laden vocals intertwined.  Quick and to the point, it is followed up by a transitional track (the third “instrumental” of the album) and moves into the final track, The White Lodge. This song is also an instrumental but delivers so much more than just instrumentation. Tempo changes, especially near the finale of the song drag you into the complexity that these three guys bring to the table.

Overall, Here. Home is a solid release from a great up and coming band in the post-whatever era. If you’re looking for an intense, emotional album to put on, sit back and contemplate to, this is for you. I can’t think of a band that better delivers the perfect mix of crushing instrumental work and clean, consistently powerful vocals. A great debut full length album, with hopefully many more to come!

Deer Leap – Here. Home. is now available on their BandCamp

http://deerleap.bandcamp.com/

Interview: Brendan Murphy of Counterparts

Before they leave on a European tour with Empires Fade and Climates, I was able to catch up with Brendan Murphy, vocalist of Canadian hardcore band Counterparts, and ask him a few questions about life on the road for a Canadian band.

1) After the release of two successful albums and a split with Exalt, where do you guys see yourselves in the next few years?

Hopefully a few years from now, we’re still able to play cool music that we stand behind. The fact that we’ve made it this far is nuts as it is.

2) How difficult is life on the road, especially long cross-Canada treks? Any advice for young touring bands?

I love it. I hate being at home. The drives are long, I miss my dog, but it’s worth it. When I’m on tour I’m not depressed all the time. I feel like my life has purpose. The only advise I have is to have fun. Take time to do cool stuff while you can. Go explore. Don’t be boring.

3) What is the craziest thing to happen to you guys on tour?

Hitting a deer. Worst day of my life. Let’s not talk about it.

4) Who were your favourite bands to tour with and why?

A Sight For Sewn Eyes, Structures, Hundredth, Stray From The Path. Basically just our friends. The mood on tour is just 100% positive when you’re with good friends. It’s the best feeling.

5) Are there any bands you guys would love to tour with but haven’t yet?

Converge. Please.

6) You guys are finally heading over to Europe to tour in the fall with Empires Fade and Climates. What does it feel like to know that you have fans on the other side of the world that love your music?

It’s the weirdest feeling in the world, in a good way. I’m still surprised people in our hometown even know who we are, let alone at Germany. It’s nuts.

 

Check out Counterparts on Facebook.

Farewell, Dead and Divine.

Dead and Divine, a 5-piece band from Burlington, Ontario played a show at the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg on August, and after 9 years, 5 albums and hundreds of shows, the group is calling it quits.

Their first EP Her Name Was Tragedy was released in 2004, but it wasn’t until 2008′s The Fanciful when the band’s popularity really took off. With a perfect mix of chaotic hardcore and perfectly melodic choruses, they rode their wave of success with two more albums, The Machines We Are and their latest, Antimacy. 

Dead and Divine to me have always been the perfect band.  Their songs evoke powerful emotions, ranging from anger and hate, to love and caring. The diversity of their song compositions and instrumental arrangements take you to another place, a welcome reprieve from the real world. But what really stands out to me to most is their live shows. Vocalist Matt Tobin is as engaging as any once he hits the stage, with a range that goes from deep growls and screams, to strong clean vocals and everything in between.

With a set that lasted about 1.5 hours, they played a multitude of songs spanning their 9 year discography, finishing off with a single song encore, after which the attendees were still clamoring for more. With fists in the air and arms swinging wildly, most of the concert-goers were screaming along Tobin in full voice as the rest of the band played along, held together ever so tightly by Kelly Bilan’s drumming. A longer set would have been nice, considering that this was their final stop in Winnipeg ever, but what can you do.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed (as always) with the concert I attended, even if it was with a heavy heart. In a world where the average band makes little to no revenue, it is understandable that after a while these guys would have had to call it quits, I just wish it wasn’t for another 10 years at least. As one of my favorite groups passes on, I’m sure that my already immense appreciation for their art will only continue grow.

Dads – American Radass (this is important) Review

Dads are a two piece emo band from New Brunswick, New Jersey. These guys, along with The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die are the heavy hitters of the American emo scene, and boy do they deliver with the release of American Radass

The album opens like would expect a twinkly emo album to start; slow and melodic with softly sung vocals overlapping the guitars on “If Your Song Title Has the Word “Beach” In It, I’m Not Listening To It”. Catchy from the begging, this track acts as a perfect welcome to the rest of the album. Get To The Beach, the second song on the album allows for the pace to pick up, all the while staying true to the genre with intermittent twinkly guitar passages. John Bradley’s percussion work is fantastic, a toe tapping adventure through only 1:47

Shit Twins, the longest song on the album with a running time of almost 7 minutes is very close to what I would consider an “emo anthem”. The powerful, moving, and memorable lyrics drive this track forward, very much discernible over top of Scott Scharinger‘s twangly guitars. This one would go perfect with a rainy day and a cup of tea. The next track, Grunt Work (The ’69 Sound) is quick and punky, and as soon as I heard it it took me back to when I was a little kid, sitting in the basement listening to  Hüsker Dü albums with my dad. That pounding snare and tambourine(?) had me pounding my pretend-drumstick fingers against my desk immediately.

The next 3 tracks are all very similar, exactly what you’d expect to be hearing after the first 6. Not saying that it is a bad thing, but a little bit more diversity in the song writing may pique more listeners interest. The final song Heavy to the Touch (think about tonight, forget about tomorrow) combines the best of all these two musicians have to offer. The intro is slow but powerful, leading into wailing vocals and crashing cymbals. A pseudo-psychedelic outro leads the listener away from what I consider to be an absolutely amazing album.

American Radass (this is important) is a wonderful listening experience for anyone who enjoys quality music. Contrary to most releases I review, this album is easy on the ears, but in by no means does that make it any less amazing. True 21st century emo revolves around powerful lyrics and catchy musicianship, two facets that Dads have mastered on this release. I absolutely recommend this album to anyone looking for a fun adventure through a relatively non-mainstream genre.

Dads – American Radass (this is important) is available now on their BandCamp

http://dadsnj.bandcamp.com/

Why Frankie Palmeri is an Awful Person.

Prepare yourself.

I have recently come across the news that Frankie Palmeri of the shit-metal band Emmure has taken down his own personal clothing line, “Cold Soul”. This clothing store featured white t-shirts with big letters and pictures on them, just as you’d expect from a talent less hack. But these aren’t any pictures and words, no sir. Pictured below is an example of one of these shirts.

In case you were wondering, the image of that shirt is of the Columbine Massacre, something that Palmeri is making light of.

He’s turning the Columbine Massacre into a joke. 

Are you kidding me, Frankie Palmeri? He’s quoted as saying

“I used Cold Soul merchandise as a way to circumvent those feelings and turn it into something people can stand behind.”

Something people can stand behind? Oh yeah, that makes sense. You’re wanting people to stand behind you and your racist, pathologically insane feelings? Considering everything that Palmeri and Emmure have done for the music industry (and by that I mean force their awful attempt at music down the throats of unaware listeners), this doesn’t surprise me at all. His “band” combines the skillful artistry of 1 & 0 guitar tabs and the idea that every song should compel the listener to beat down the person beside them, a black mark on the budding metal industry. For those who are unaware, the majority of Emmure listeners could be compared to those of ICP. Idiotic drones who want nothing more than to hear over the top, extreme lyrics barked from the mouth of this clown in question.

Don’t get me wrong, many contemporary metal lyrical themes include death, killing and the macabre, but I have finally become fed up with how Palmeri portrays himself as some sort of “metal martyr” to the rest of the industry. He claims to love how everyone hates him, and that their hate drives him and his “musical” endeavors forward. And I’m sick of it. The fact that he is exploiting his mindless fan base by advertising a tragedy such as the Columbine Massacre as something to be worn as a shirt should be a punishable offence. These kids feed off every moronic syllable that escapes from this sorry excuse for a man’s mouth, and that is worrying. People can go to jail for propagating their ideals, just as Palmeri had done with his clothing. Just because he claims that they are nothing more than symbol doesn’t make this any more real.

Frankie Palmeri, take a minute to realize what you are doing. You’re opening a gateway for thousands of misguided fans to consider this act of hate no more than “a way to express your feelings.” Your actions are a direct result of your stupidity, something that you are passing on to others through merchandise and song writing. The world of music would be a better place without your band’s drivel filling up the airwaves.

Even though you wont: give your head a shake, man up, and admit that what you did was wrong.

You can read Palmeri’s statement here: http://www.metalinsider.net/updates/emmures-frankie-releases-statement-regarding-his-merch-store

Climates – What Means The Most Review

Climates are a Melodic Hardcore group from the Wrexham, Wales. Their newest EP, What Means The Most was released for free download on August 6th 2012.

This 6 track EP (which includes an Introduction and an Interlude) is a fast, heavy hitting ride through contemporary hardcore in the same vein as Counterparts or The Ghost Inside, and if you’re a fan of either of those bands, you won’t be disappointed with this offering.

The first “real” track on the album, What Means The Most,  is extremely catchy, featuring everything you’d expect from a hardcore album; gang vocals, blindingly fast drum fills, and pounding riffs. As always, the lyrics are insightful and powerful, and the next track Chance and Courage continues in the same mold. This song pounds away at your eardrums until about half way through, until an ethereal “Wait for me..” is sung out over and over, acting as a gateway to the second half of the song, which again drives forward at incredible pace, and ends with a sense of loss and longing.

After the Interlude which is an instrumental track, Heavy Minds comes blaring through your speakers, and it is exactly that, heavy. Right off the bat this song hits you hard, vocals screamed at the very top of the lungs, all the while staying true to the melodic hardcore trend of changed tempos and spoken word lyrics. The final track Letting Go sounds very similar to something you’d hear from a band like Touché Amoré, which builds up slowly into a screaming of “Try to best person that I can be”, which is almost too cliche, but it fits perfectly with this outro song. This song is dripping with emotion, every word deliberate and expressive, with constant tempo changes and clean vocals ringing in the background, a perfect ending to a solid album.

For a free release, this album doesn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a catchy, emotional adventure through melodic hardcore, these 4 guys are the ones to do it. A relatively small fish in the giant pond of contemporary hardcore bands, it’s tough to break through with something special and unique. By no means is this a revolutionary album, but it is still a solid listen, and with the announcement of a European tour opening for Counterparts in the fall, I am looking forward to see which direction this band takes.

Climates – What Means The Most is available now through their BandCamp.

http://climateshc.bandcamp.com/album/what-means-the-most


In The Silence – A Fair Dream Gone Mad Review

In The Silence is a progressive metal band hailing from California. I stumbled upon this album by chance, simply by browsing the wonderful world of YouTube, and boy am I glad I did. Imagine an absolutely perfect fusion of Opeth and Katatonia, throw in some Gojira-esque percussion and there you have the sound of this American quartet. Still interested? Of course you are.

The opening track to this album hits you hard, and doesn’t stop. Ever Closer contains an interesting mix of crushing riffs and playful bass work with vocalist Josh Burke’s smooth and haunting Åkerfeldtian voice drawing you deeper into the song. The second track, 17 Shades is in itself a wonder for the ears. I was blown away by how clean and tight this song was, the instrumentation remains fluid and compelling, all the while allowing for guitar solos to mingle their way through the entire 6:07.

A personal favourite of mine is the 4th song on the album, Beneath These Falling Leaves. It begins with an acoustic guitar and is soon joined by Burke’s somber words. The percussion section jumps in about 1:30 in, and is joined by what seems to be a violin. Still, this song is reminiscent of a new fallen leaf being carried along by a cold, harsh autumn breeze, slow and deliberate until 5 minutes in, where you’re hit with what is surely a Slash-worship solo. Blindingly fast and playful, the solo is carried along by Nik Panagopoulos’ ever present double bass kicks, and continues until the completion of the song.

The album continues along the typical progressive (may I say doom?) metal path, each song painting a somewhat grey mental image, your thoughts filled with questions without answers. The final track, Your Reward, is a definite a reward for all the Prog-Metal fans out there. Without a doubt this song is the band’s most experimental, with constant tempo changes, all the while being carried by the heavy chugging riffs of Burke  and guitarist Nathan Higgins. Finishing with a hammering of cymbals and deliberate decrescendos, this track was a perfect way to end the album.

To me, this album delivers everything you could want in a progressive metal offering. Beautiful vocal work both harsh and clean, guitars that are both pounding but delicate, and absolutely mind blowing percussion work. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much at first glance, but after some deliberate listening, I was hooked. I would without a doubt recommend this album to anyone who’s looking for the balance between heavy and melodic, something many bands try – and fail – to accomplish. Keep an eye out for these guys, I expect big things in the future!

In The Silence – A Fair Dream Gone Mad is available now through their Bandcamp.

http://inthesilence.bandcamp.com/album/a-fair-dream-gone-mad


The Hobbit Trilogy & Why it Matters

With Monday came some huge news that had been speculated for some time. Director Peter Jackson has converted The Hobbit, Tolkien’s classic precursor to The Lord of The Rings series, from a two-part movie to a trilogy, following in the same footsteps as the LoTR movie franchise. This news has come (as with most things) with a mixed bag of opinions, and I’d like to share mine.

YES. YES YES YES YES YES!

This is possibly the best news that a Tolkien fanboy (read: nerd, geek, dweeb) could ask for. The Hobbit is a timeless novel, packed to the absolute brim with boatloads of fantasy wonder and excitement, and Jackson has set himself up for what could be an absolutely marvelous cinematic adventure – and here’s why:

1)Why Not?
I can see why some fans would be opposed to the extension of this film series. “3 movies means longer wait times!” “Greedy producers!” were many of the complaints I came across. The former of these is what I believe to be less true. The trilogy doesn’t mean that Jackson is pushing back the releases, it means that he has so much high quality footage that needs to be shown, more than two films can do justice for. The latter complaint is a little bit more reasonable in my eyes. Of course a trilogy would translate into bigger box office numbers, but this was to be expected with a production such as this. Tell me that you are making a difference boycotting the movies and taking your hard earned $13 away from the overall pool that these films will bring in. Give me a break.

2) The Story!
If you haven’t read The Hobbit, get off your phone or computer or tablet or whatever other device you have in your hands and run, run as fast as you possibly down to the library or bookstore of your choosing. A timeless classic tale, it follows the story of Bilbo Baggins and his epic adventure, an adventure that leads up to The Lord of the Rings series. The Hobbit trilogy will undoubtedly produce a wonder for the eyes and ears, with the intricacies of Tolkien’s masterful storytelling shining through. The trek through Mirkwood itself warrants it’s own film, and I for one cannot wait for the visuals that will accompany the defense of Dale.

3) You Have No Choice
You simply have no choice. If you’re reading this you most likely have December 14th marked down on your calendar as a religious holiday (I’ve already booked it off work). You’re going to pay to see all three films, and you’re going to enjoy every millisecond of them. All three of these films will go down as some of the best fantasy work of all time, and will pave the way for hearts and minds, young an old, to explore their inner Baggins. As with any franchise there will be critics, but I suspect those diminishing words will be drowned out by the praise that Peter Jackson and his team will receive.

So go, let the anticipation build. Just don’t be late for Second Breakfast.

Korpiklaani – Manala Review

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Manala is Finnish Folk Metal band Korpiklaani’s 8th studio album, released in both Finnish and in English under the Napalm Records label. This sextet has been a leader in the folk metal scene, and have shown no signs of slowing down after this release.

Vocalist Jonne Järvelä was quoted as saying that he wasn’t pleased with the direction the band had taken after 2011′s Ukon Wacka, stating that he wanted the band to take a more serious approach to song writing. Their previous work, which include songs titled “Vodka”, “Wooden Pints”, “Tequila” and “Bring us pints of Beer” are undoubtedly their most famous, and yet Manala features no such alcohol induced titles.

Like it’s predecessors, Manala opens with a foot tapping and head nodding title track. Kunnia” is most definitely what most Korpiklaani fans have come to expect from these skilled Finnish musicians. The duo of Juho Kauppinen and Tuomas Rounakari, on the accordion and fiddle respectively, carry this song throughout 3:25 of what is sure to be a future crowd favourite.

The album stays just as fast paced as you’d expect through 5 tracks, with Petoeläimen Kuola” providing almost an homage to the thrash metallers of old, from which Kalle Savijärvi, Jarkko Aaltonen and Järvelä surely draw a major influence. I for one am quite looking forward to the whiplash induced bangover that this song will produce.

“Synkkä”, the 6th track on the record, takes a turn for the serene and melodic, a song which sounds like it could be a Finnish lullaby. The winding acoustic guitar in the foreground, and fiddle swaying in the background create an auditory atmosphere in which you could get lost for hours, if not for Matti Johanssonpounding drum intro for the next track, Ievan PolkkaAnd let me tell you, this isn’t your grandmother’s polka. A whimsical journey, again featuring a prominent accordion and fiddle which dance around Järvelä’s rough growls.

After a quick interlude, which is literally the sound of a Husky-Sledge, I find myself at more lackluster point in this release. The songs seem to fold into one and other, with no real standouts. Fast paced? Yes. Folky? Yes. Metal? Certainly. However I found, as with many albums, that there’s no point in the tail end of this album where I want to re-play the song. Sure I will listen to this album again and again, but it certainly doesn’t do anything more for me than be another solid release from this band.

If it’s fun, fast paced Finnish Folk Metal that you’re looking for, then you’ve found the right album, and the right band. But if you’re looking for timeless, “on repeat for hours” songs, you’ll be disappointed. Have a listen for yourself, but don’t make me say “I Told You So”

Korpiklaani – Manala is available 2012-08-03 on Nuclear Blast Records.