Monday, November 12, 2012

Album Review: Storm The Beaches - Hemisphere

Album Rating: B+
Through their short three-year career, Storm The Beaches have seemed to do everything they can do to be "new," and as a result haven't attracted a large amount of attention. They've released two EPs independently through Bandcamp, and now are part of a small record label (Apparition Records, responsible for three bands) that has handled the promotion and releasing of the group's debut full-length, Hemisphere. The producer for all three of the band's releases has had only one other major project as a producer for pop-rock band You, Me, And Everyone We Know. At the time of this writing, Storm The Beaches have fewer than 3500 likes on Facebook and their most popular YouTube video, which was not posted from the band's official channel, has around 3800 views, more than every video on the band's official channel combined. And yet, something seems to suggest that Storm The Beaches will be garnering some serious recognition for their first album. They've been covered on major sites like Alternative Press and AbsolutePunk leading up to the release, and their fan base has been growing exponentially as the release date of Hemisphere has approached

Most importantly, though, Hemisphere should help Storm The Beaches gain more fame because it's a damn good album. Storm The Beaches have gotten the attention they have because of their excellent pop-tinged rock, and this album is no exception. The most obvious comparison point for the band, at least superficially, is Silversun Pickups, thanks to lead singer Mark Mikina's high, somewhat female-sounding voice and skilled guitar playing. And, though the bands occupy slightly different genres, this comparison is accurate on a deeper level as well - much like the Pickups create radio-friendly alt-rock that's more intricate than one might expect, Hemisphere is at the same time accessible and complex. The power chords and straightforward beat patterns mesh well with interesting instrumentation, above-average lyrics, and drums that are more elaborate than they initially might sound. The 15 songs on the album are all similar enough to feel like a cohesive, if exhaustive, unit, yet they all differ just enough so that it doesn't feel like Storm The Beaches are rehashing the same outline too many times. "Rooftops," a re-recording from previous EP Gifts From Sea, is probably the most straightforward pop tune on the album, with its insanely catchy I-IV-I-IV chord pattern and a sing-along chorus, but a melancholy feel helps the song be interesting at the same time. "Something More" also goes deeper than average radio pop-rock, with complex drums and distorted guitars aiding in the instant accessibility and "fun" of the song yet creating a sound that's got a surprising amount of subtlety as well.

The only problem with Hemisphere is that it's a couple songs too long. Storm The Beaches pushed the release date of the album back about a month, no doubt in order to ensure that they wouldn't release an incomplete product. Unfortunately, the album can't quite hold the energy levels with which it begins for its full 67-minute run-time  possibly as a result of that extra month of preparation. And not every song was really necessary, either; a cut or two around the middle third of the release would have helped the band's work rise from solid to something even more. However, that's a minor complaint, and not one large enough to prevent the good on the album from shining through. If all goes right, Hemisphere should accomplish a lot for Storm The Beaches. They've shown that they can hold their own on their first full-length release, and they deserve more than the hype they've built up so far.


1. The Bittersweet
2. Good Advice
3. Someday Came Suddenly
4. Get Back Up
5. Full Circle
6. This Is How We Spend Our Time
7. Somewhere
8. The LymeLyfe
9. Auditory Hallucinations
10. Something More
11. Set Me Free
12. Rooftops
13. Palm Reader
14. Green And Blue
15. My Son

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