Monday, August 25, 2014

Album Review: Unisonic - Light of Dawn

Album Score: B
Unisonic is a strange sort of reunion. Three of its five members are from Pink Cream 69, three have ties to Helloween, two have played in Krokus and Khymera, two more in Gamma Ray, and the last member in Asia and Gotthard. If that math doesn’t add up, it’s because these guys just seem to end up playing together no matter how many bands they join and leave. Still, singer Michael Kiske and guitarist Kai Hansen are head-and-shoulders above most anyone else in the German metal scene for their work in the aforementioned Helloween and Gamma Ray, and are likewise the focal point of Unisonic. Founded in 2009, the project released its eponymous debut in 2012 to generally positive – and often rave – reviews. Surprisingly, Unisonic’s bassist Dennis Ward emerged as its main songwriter, penning lyrics and/or music for the majority of the debut with occasional contributions from the rest of the band.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Album Review: Sorority Noise - Forgettable

Album Rating: A
When it comes to naming albums, Sorority Noise are either terrible at it, or geniuses with ironic statements. Forgettable is one of the most memorable albums of 2014 so far, and the new and upcoming band has made a large impression for their debut. Equal parts cathartic and sentimental, Forgettable treads the line between heart on sleeve and heart on the ground if you know what I'm saying.

Sorority Noise play a style of music that falls into the quirky alt-rock genre that is becoming hazy with categorization. It's a blend of garage rock, with poppy hooks laden with sing-a-long choruses. Vocals are doubled with group lines aching to be screamed among with. The self deprecating "Mediocre At Best" is covered with angst and tongue-in-cheek self-hatred, and you can't help but smile and sing along, even with lines like "Nobody likes me. That's what I tell myself." Backboned by guitar chords that echo Pinkerton-era Weezer, the song stands out as a perfect representation of what Sorority Noise is.

Pinkerton comparisons don't stop there. The main theme of a strong personal examination is also present, without ever becoming cheesy or sappy. The guitars and drums never try to outshine the lyrics, and act more as a thickening agent to the vocals, to create a very well mixed final product. Forgettable is emotional and raw, and at moments very tender and sentimental. The lyrics are honest and open, and while they get personal, it never feels forced for attention.

Melodies reign supreme on Forgettable. Songs will work themselves into your head for days, as choruses and verse will replay as you hum along. The half-pace of "Blond Hair, Black Lungs," the honest verses of "Still Shrill," and even the simple bass line that opens the album ("Rory Shield") all stick out as glue-like ear-wormers.

Forgettable builds and maintains a certain level of energy throughout but does go out on a bit of a whimper instead of a bang. While I always enjoy a quiet moment on albums, for a record as powerful as this, it seems like a waste to end with two slower songs. This is of course just a small complaint when the entire album is so great, and those two slower songs that close the album are still enjoyable.

Various bands come to mind, and can be cited as influence for Sorority Noise; the short song structure of Joyce Manor, the quirky lyrics and guitars of The Front Bottoms, even the straight-forward rock of older Tigers Jaw. But the difference is that Sorority Noise does all of these better, and never feels like a cheap knock-off. They are their own contained unit and while influences are present, they never outshine what the band is trying to be. In their debut album, the band has created an amazing voice for themselves and that itself is truly rare these days.


Track list:

1. Rory Shield
2. Mediocre At Best
3. Dirty Ickes
4. Nick Kwas Christmas Party
5. Queen Anne's Lace
6. Still Shrill
7. Blonde Hair, Black Lungs
8. Smooth Jazz
9. Smoke

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Album Review: Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown

Album Rating: A+
Caution: Belligerent, chaotic metalcore ahead. Every copy of Every Time I Die's new album From Parts Unknown should come stickered with that warning right on the front. After releasing Ex-Lives back in 2012 to rave reviews, the Buffalo five-piece is back with a bloodthirsty vengeance. Is it Every Time I Die's best record? Probably. Is it heavy? Oh, definitely. Do you need to hear it? Absolutely, right now.

Every Time I Die have been around for practically forever. Roughly 15 years in the making and seven albums deep, you would imagine the band's sound would soften or slow down into a commercial soup of drivel rock, but that's not the case here. Kurt Ballou of Converge was enlisted as the producer and the band went to work creating an album that rivals their gritty back catalog in every way. The result is a 30 minute onslaught of screeching chords, deep chugs, winding chord progressions and a sweeping sense of civil unrest. It's chunkier, faster, and meaner than Ex-Lives, so as Samuel L. Jackson once famously said, "Hold on to your butts."

Riffs drive back to the good ol' days of Gutter Phenomenon ( "Overstayer") and occasionally carry a song all the way without any kind of technical clout ("El Dorado)." At times, music blurs the heavy and the melodic with that all-important bluesy hardcore jangle ("Decaying With The Boys") and early 2000's metalcore with Hot Damn! breakdowns ("If There Is Room To Move, Things Move.") "Old Light" is a rough tumbleweed headbanger featuring the slick and warm voice of Brian Fallon from the Gaslight Anthem, and it's a good change of pace from the speedy, technical tunes ("All Structures Are Unstable,", "Thirst.")

Things get downright spooky with "Moor," the most different and weird song on the album. The haunting, chinking piano intro looms as Buckley's vocals wail like a lost soul. When the song kicks in, it will envelop your room in a mass of sludge so thick you'll be stuck for days.

One listen is all it takes to appreciate the fantastic musicianship that holds From Parts Unknown together. Guitarists Andy Williams and Jordan Buckley tap, slide and riff out a collage of parts into beautiful, tempo-shifting songs. Stephen Micciche puts the bass to good work, and Ballou's mixing makes sure every thump and bump is out there and audible. Most notable is drummer Ryan Leger's blitz on the kit. To put it bluntly, he's fast – the snares pop off like automatic gunfire, and the toms roll like thunderclaps. Double bass pedals almost heckle the guitars, sneering at them to keep up in the high BMPs. Despite their age, these guys still rock like like they're in their early 20's. The music, however, reads like a mature piece of assembled chaos.

Buckley's lyrics are still top-notch and some of the best in the genre. Direct and poetic with an urgent abrassiveness, he delivers line after line of memorable headpunchers like a new-age Shakespeare. "Idiot" cascades into a fiery ending as he cries, "All I want is for everyone to go to hell/it was the last place I was seen before I lost myself" before concluding "All I want is for everyone to come to hell/there we can be free and learn to love ourselves." It's a hypnotic delivery that should have fans clamoring for mic grabs at future shows.

In terms of substance, the album is a bitter acid eating into fine machinery. It's like scratching into sheet metal with a screwdriver - expect no catharsis in this half-hour blast of maniacal metalcore. Crank the stereo, crack a beer and mosh around your room. No one's going to judge you, especially with such a masterpiece destroying your ear drums. From Parts Unknown is a blast, so listen loud and proud because a decibel is only a unit of measurement.

Be sure to catch Every Time I Die all summer long on the Vans Warped Tour.


1. The Great Secret
2. Pelican Of The Desert
3. Decayin' With The Boys
4. Overstayer
5. If There Is Room To Move, Things Move
6. Moor
7. Exometrium
8. Thirst
9. Old Light
10. All Structures Are Unstable
11. El Dorado
12. Idiot

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

American Football - American Football: Deluxe Edition

Album Rating: A+
The warm summer air on the back of your neck. The soothing and rhythmic chirping of crickets in sticky grass. These memories or calls can reach into the recesses of anyone's mind and drag forth aching nostalgia. Picturesque moments from your past, or present, with vivid colors play forth like movies in your mind, as you drown in the atmosphere around you. American Football's self-titled album brings this forward. The highly influential album from 1999, was the band's only full-length, and while in total they only ever released 12 songs, the group left a massive lasting impression on indie music. American Football is an album that can be played on repeat, throughout your life. There is not a single song that falls short of excellence, and no dull moment exists. The music is one of the unique and unrepeatable defying moments in modern indie rock, and has set an unreachable bar for bands to try to replicate.

The recent reunion of the band, has lead to a deluxe reissue of the classic album, complete with the original LP and a bonus disc of unreleased demos and live tracks. For this review, I will first start with the album itself, and then proceed to the bonus disc.

American Football opens with one of the most emotional and important songs for anyone who has ever enjoyed "emo" music. "Never Meant" does not only have the delicate lyric content that tugs at ones heartstrings, but it is supported by the jazz-influenced noodling guitar that has defined the genre since then. Coupled with drums that stand on their own besides anything else, you get a track that is a staple for any romantic's catalogue. The duel guitar work, by singer Mike Kinsella and guitarist Steve Holmes, is mesmerizing and hypnotic. Time signatures and tunings vary from song to song and while the entire album has a immensely concise tone, each individual track stands out on its own. Backed by the often underrated drumming of Steve Lamos, the band is still one of the most organic sounding units to record.

The intermittent trumpet that graces a handful of tracks, eases itself in and is never used as a crutch or a gimmick. These soft, small unexpected moments are intimate and calming, and even though the album never reaches any speeds past "moderate," the slower tracks are the most inviting and warm. "The Summer Ends" drips with the bittersweet happiness/sadness of August, where Kinsella's lyrics are brutally relatable. "Honestly?" begins with one of the greatest "bass" lines ever (bass is in quotes because most tracks of the album do not feature bass, but just guitars tuned down). The driving line builds with call and answer vocal lines that blend perfectly with the music, only to crash and explode into the extended outro, where Lamos' drums come forth and flourish.

Many times throughout the record ("But The Regrets Are Killing Me" for example) the guitar tones transcend into unexplored territory. Warm notes and intertwining riffs intersect and create beautiful monuments of sounds. All of this with Kinsella's simple, yet honest lyrics and vocals overlaid. There are an uncountable amount of moments like this on the album, and it is truly a modern masterpiece of music.

The bonus disc of the deluxe edition bring us long lost demo recordings and live tracks from the band. The subtle tape hiss present adds to the nostalgic tone of the music, and the unreleased demo songs sound perfectly encapsulated in the time period. The live track "The 7's" is a building, lengthly instrumental that would've been a great addition to the LP, but was cut due to time constraints. Many songs from the LP are found again here, as practice rehearsal demos from the production sessions. These rougher edits showcase what the songs would've sounded like live during the band's existence. The entirety of the extra disc is intriguing, and while it may not be listened to as much as the album, it deserves subsequent revisitations.

The only thing missing from the deluxe edition is the inclusion of the three tracks from their only other release, the also self-titled EP (although we do get a live version of "Five Silent Miles"). This is just a minor exclusion and for long time fans of the band won't be a bother at all. The live tracks and demo recordings are a treat and a long-awaited surprise to many, and round out a wonderful deluxe reissue of a modern classic album.


Track list:

1. Never Meant
2. The Summer Ends
3. Honestly?
4. For Sure
5. You Know I Should Be Leaving Soon
6. But The Regrets Are Killing Me
7. I'll See You When We Both Aren't So Emotional
8. Stay Home
9. The One with the Wurlitzer
10. Intro [Live at the Blind Pig, Champaign, IL, 1997]
11. Five Silent Miles [Live at the Blind Pig, Champaign, IL, 1997]
12. Untitled #1 (The One with the Trumpet) [Boombox Practice Session, 1998]
13. Untitled #2 [Boombox Practice Session, 1998]
14. Stay Home [Boombox Practice Session, 1999]
15. Untitled #3 [Boombox Practice Session, 1998]
16. Never Meant [4-Track Album Prep, 1999]
17. But The Regrets Are Killing Me [4-Track Album Prep, 1999]
18. I'll See You When We Both Aren't So Emotional [4-Track Album Prep, 1999]
19. The 7's [Live at the Blind Pig, Champaign, IL, 1997]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Live Review: Warm Digits and Parastatic, Cumberland Arms, Newcastle (09/05/2014)

Krautrock is, as everyone knows, the crop of 1970s Germany, yet in North East England it seems to have found an unlikely second home. Sporting a wealth of cult outfits, this mini-scene was granted a thrilling showcase on Friday night at Newcastle's Cumberland Arms, with two of the region's finest exponents delivering a terrific exhibit of the genre's enduring appeal as well as its remaining creative capacity.

Unfortunately, my own lousy timekeeping saw to it that I missed opening drone merchant Charles Dexter Ward, however I did show up on time to catch the group who initiated the night's proceedings - the ever-excellent Parastatic. Optimised by their customary strobe and shimmering sea of reverb, the trio's eclectic marriage of robo rhythms and drawn-out celestialism essentially melds the sonic imprint of Jason Pierce with more familiar kraut reference points (Nue! Can, etc) to powerful and often mesmerising effect. With new single 'Oscillations' (preceding their second LP, due later this year) among the highlights, the coming months promise much for an outfit whose next hometown appearance can't come soon enough.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Album Review: Frameworks - Loom

Album Rating: A-
For me, Small Victories was hardly representative of its humble moniker.  In 11 crushing minutes, Gainesville, Florida's Frameworks handily made a name for themselves, seamlessly flowing from one "wave"-approved genre to the next, without so much as a three-second pause between songs.  Topshelf, expectedly, picked up on such compositional expertise, and with their assistance, LP1 was given the time, care and nourishment it deserved to bloom into the appealingly unconventional beast that Loom is today.  For a band that's already showcased so many different sides of themselves, there sure seem to be a lot more to uncover.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Album Review: The Menzingers - Rented World

Album Rating: A-
The Menzingers are a band that has paid their dues. The Scranton, PA natives have been playing music for almost a decade, and have built themselves up from playing YMCA's in suburban Pennsylvania to full-fledged world-wide tours. It comes as no surprise then that their fourth full-length album, Rented World, is as mature and focused as they are. Following up 2012's highly acclaimed On The Impossible Past, must have been a heavy weight to bare, but The Menzingers have succeeded in creating an album that transitions easily from their past work, while also injecting a different tone and style.

Rented World can be said to be the best Weezer album since Pinkerton. From the basic artwork featuring only the title and the band members, to the actual music itself, Rented World has a distinct early Weezer vibe. Guitars are distorted heavily enough, but never too much, and melodies are catchy. The distinct "sing-a-long" mentality is present from the opening track, and single, "I Don't Want To Be An Asshole Anymore." It has a powerful chorus that's backed up by gang-vocal "whoas." The song kicks the album with a burst of energy and leads it forward through 12 tracks ranging from early 90's poppy punk ("The Talk") to the Bob Dylan-esque closer "When You Died."

The band equals out each fast, more punk sounding track with a slower more melodic one. Tracks like "Transient Love" and "Where Your Heartache Exists" bring the tempos down slightly and give room to breathe for both the listener and the band. These slower moments only help accentuate the louder more powerful moments such as the opening riff to "In Remission" or the pre-verse section of "Sentimental Physics." Both tracks showcase heavy power-chord riffs that are infused with copious amounts of distortion.

Where The Menzingers are really finding their sound is in their choruses, with each song have memorable hooks and catchy lyrics. Quickly scanning over the track list, you are able to recall each and every song's chorus with ease, and it only makes you want to listen to the album one more time. The band's last record, On The Impossible Past, was their breakthrough, and Rented World may fall a tiny bit short of the heights reached by its predecessor, but it is only because it is a slightly different direction for the group. Rented World seems like The Menzingers have become very comfortable with who they are and what music they make, and as their fourth album, it feels more like a new beginning for the group.


Track list:

1. I Don't Want To Be An Asshole Anymore
2. Bad Things
3. Rodent
4. Where Your Heartache Exists
5. My Friend Kyle
6. Transient Love
7. The Talk
8. Nothing Feels Good Anymore
9. Hearts Unknown
10. In Remission
11. Sentimental Physics
12. When You Died

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Album Review: Woods - With Light and With Love

Album Rating: B+
Woods have always been on the precipice of perfect moderation, and their seventh album in nine years is no exception. Their prolific churning has cumulated into some of the most forthright Indie Folk released in years. Applying the Goldilocks formula, With Light and With Love finds the balance between the rustic without being played, introspective without being over-indulgent and fondly familiar without the innocuous resin that laces most seasoned folk acts by this stage in their career, conditioned facial hair included.

Off the the back of 2012’s stretched and brittle Bend Beyond, Woods have varnished themselves off to a gleaming example of progressive Indie, retaining their coiled psych influences and creative instrumental breakdowns in lieu of some recycled melodies and themes. Frontman Jeremy Earl further embraces his infatuation with mortality and fleeting sentiment performed with an unsupposing resonance, teeming with existential wordplay.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Actually buying things

Everyone knows music is free nowadays. I had a look at wikipedia and it pointed me toward a survey done in 2012 in which 29% of respondents admitted to downloading music from peer-to-peer networks. If we factor in the fact most of the others are lying and a lot of them probably don't care for music at all, then do a bit of faux maths, everyone and their mum has a account. You don't even have to go behind the back of the law any more in order to satiate your music fix thanks to Youtube, Soundcloud and Spotify. Hell, as a writer on Muzik Dizcovery I struggle to listen to promos faster than they arrive.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Album Review: Animals as Leaders - The Joy of Motion

Album Rating: A-
Whether it's because of the real drums, Misha Mansoors' widely regarded return to the drawing and mixing board, or simply the group's newfound preference for exploration over critical reverence, there's no denying it—The Joy of Motion sounds mind-bogglingly huge.  It's explosive, yet composed; volcanic, yet regulated.  The showy instrumentation on Weightless, while certainly far more apparently impressive than much of what comprises the 2014 record, was ultimately hindered both by its excesses and an additional unintrusive mix.  The Joy of Motion, contrastingly, is easily the progressive band's most "normal" release to date, very much content existing within the musical confines of the djenty present, but it's additionally, without question, Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes' most successful effort thus far.  If this is what the present sounds like, why do we ever try to break free in the first place?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Album Review: Save Face - I Won't Let This Take My Life

Album Rating: A-
I Won't Let This Take My Life combines brisk and intensified hardcore with memorable, hooky pop-punk from the great Garden State. The raw energy and fervor found on this record is undeniable - further blurring the lines between brutal new-age hardcore and jovial pop-punk. If you dig bands such as Counterparts and New Found Glory, Save Face might just be the new band you are looking for.

Album Review: Former Monarchs - The Cost of Living

Album Rating: B
The Irish math rock sonic touchstones have steadily garnered more and more visibility in recent years, with bands like And So I Watch You From Afar and Enemies both having assembled impressive world audiences from their expert paradisaical soundscapes.  There must be something in the water, as the Atlantic island has conjured enough aural palm trees to construct a second Disney World, and given their locale, one would be quick to assume that another batch of the locals, Former Monarchs, are additionally contributing to the cause. Though tropical math may be preeminent, the Cork band's debut full-length, The Cost of Living, seems more wont to construct the actual present, in all of its crooked glory, than pack up its bags and head for the beach.

Album Review: Ratking - So It Goes

Album Rating: B+
Hip-Hop is a perpetually escalating competition, a survival of the fittest civil war that has been pitting MCs against each other since the 70s. And as with all skirmishes, territories must be claimed. The current landscape is a binary divide between the LA and New York rappers and has been as far back as I can remember. Although lately, with the surge of alternative Hip-Hop seeping into a younger demographic as a result of the Odd Future epidemic or Black Hippy monopoly, New York has been sandbagged by flashflood sensations and collective infusions.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Best Of The Year 2014: First Quarter Update

One of our favorite articles to do every year is our quarterly lists. For all you new readers out there, every three months each of our writers posts a list of their five favorite releases of that year as of that moment. This could include albums that aren't even out yet; any album that we have heard that is released in 2014 is eligible. On this edition of our quarterly updates, The Hotelier, Cloud Nothings, St. Vincent, Sun Kil Moon, The War On Drugs, Real Estate, and You Blew It! all appear on multiple lists, highlighting the diversity of our writers. We hope you discover something you wouldn't ever expect. All lists are below, and will be linked to any coverage we have done on the albums.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Album Review: The Great Old Ones – Tekeli-li

Album Score: A
Few bands get it absolutely right the first time – within the realm of black metal, Emperor, Celtic Frost, Ulver, and maybe Agalloch come to mind. So when The Great Old Ones turned in a solid debut in Al Azif, prospects were good that the band’s next effort could be a breakthrough. Sure, there was the usual Weakling-worship and some songs stood out more than others, but Al Azif had some exciting qualities to it, mostly revolving around the album’s sinister vibe and saturation with all things H.P. Lovecraft. It’s only been two years since then, but The Great Old Ones is already back for round two, and this time the band has taken everything that made its debut a good album and amplified them to make Tekeli-li an all-around superb one.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Album Review: Manchester Orchestra - Cope

Album Rating: A-
In a modern age of music where every band and album is relentlessly categorized into genre and sub-genre, it is disappointing to look at the state of straight up rock. Rock music is almost nonexistent in popular music currently, and indie has taken over from alternative. On Manchester Orchestra's fourth LP, Cope, the band plays with full force and delivers a captivating rock album; something that has been lacking greatly from current music.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Album Review: Thou - Heathen

Album Score: B+
Of all the extreme metal beasts wandering the musical underworld, black metal and doom metal are among the most fearsome and strange. From the darkest depths of the human psyche these creatures arose, boring their way towards the light from frostbitten forests and sweltering swamps. The latter gave us early doom mavens Exhorder and Eyehategod, but somewhere down the line Louisiana birthed some truly terrifying monsters like Thou. A quintet specializing in music designed to break souls, Thou has tempered its blackened doom for nine years through three albums and a menagerie of EPs and splits. At the core of Thou’s ideology is a distaste for societal constructs; an abhorrence of the artificial paradigms ruling our world. Heathen, then, is both a logical continuation – and the boldest chapter yet – of that treatise on humanity’s true face.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Album Review: Liars - Mess

Album Rating: A-
If anyone can tell what Liars are going to do next, you must be psychic or an extraordinary guesser. Throughout the experimental band's 14 years of existence, they have put out seven albums, with each one taking an extreme left turn from the last. A new Liars LP is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you might get. And while the classic rock themes of Forrest Gump are not found on any Liars album yet, the possibility is as equal as any other genre. Starting as a dance-punk band in 2000, Liars have released a new record consistently every two years. Transversing through witchcraft inspired rhythms (They Were Wrong, So We Drowned),  jarring garage rock (Liars), and organically produced electronics (WIXIW), Liars has evolved as a group at a steady rate that gives each new album a new and exciting feel, yet can still be called a "Liars album." On their seventh LP, Mess, Liars is expanding on the electronic feel of WIXIW, but have turned the intensity knob past its breaking point.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Album Review: Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams

Album Rating: B
Visuality is strikingly important in music; it seems as if the ability to implant an idea or a feeling through sound alone is greatly under-appreciated. Not only is it a testament to the expansive intricacies of the human brain but also a factor that distinguishes the most creative and proficiently arranged music from the lifeless and yawn inspiring. On their fifth release, Canadian dream-weavers and experimental folk duo of Taylor Kirk and Simon Trottier traverse environments and atmospheres unexplored before, painting situations both menacing and sincere using all the colours in the cerebral palette.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Album Review: Gamma Ray - Empire of the Undead

Album Score: B-
Considering it was originally a side project, Gamma Ray has showed some remarkable staying power at the core of Europe’s power metal scene. It’s been almost twenty years since Gamma Ray released two of the genre’s defining albums in Land of the Free and Somewhere Out in Space, but the quartet is still alive and well in its fourth decade. The fact that fans were disappointed with 1999’s Powerplant – an album with no less than four classic songs, including the band’s opener and encore ever since – says a lot about how much respect the band has in the metal sphere. Lately, however, singer/guitarist Kai Hansen seems content to rest on his laurels, as the band’s last two albums have played things about as safely as possible. It’s been a full four years since To the Metal! raised concerns over whether Gamma Ray had anything left in the tank, between the album’s inconsistency and borderline plagiarism, so Empire of the Undead has some questions to answer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Album Review: Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight

Album Rating: B
If you would have told me in 2001 that one of the masterminds behind the ceaselessly gritty Hot Water Music would release something like Till Midnight, a record so soaked in soul, roots and antique shop dust, sometime during the second prime of his career, I would have laughed right in your face and gone on to gloat in my self-assured victory to the tune of "Remedy."  But here we are, over a decade later, and Chuck Ragan is again proving himself to be one of the most successful bilingual artists around, equally fluent in both Americana and punk rock, and still as gruff as ever. Till Midnight  is a powerfully intimate affair, like being welcomed into Ragan's home with open arms to sit on the living room floor and watch him play. You can almost feel the hardwoods shake beneath you as the aged boots stomp in rhythm, all to the long lost pulse of rock n' roll.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Album Review: The Year Fifteen - As A World Entire

Album Review: A
Stemming from the mind of Billy Duprey, keyboardist for The Republic of Wolves, an alternative indie band based out of Long Island, The Year Fifteen is his wonderful solo project that showcases the talents of an exceptional musician. His debut, As A World Entire, is nothing short of riveting. It's concise, the production is wonderful, and it will put you in a state of trance as each song gently passes through you, like the ebb and flow of an emotionally heavy ocean tide. There is a certain aesthetic that lingers long into the melodies like an undeniable yearning that can make the wintriest of hearts succumb to a warm Sunday in summer. This record challenges conventional pop music by serving it up with spoonfuls of raw, passionate sentiments not utilized by most underground contemporary artists.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

MuzikDizcovery Exclusive: The Year Fifteen - "Out Of Sync"

The Republic of Wolves may have just released their latest record No Matter How Narrow late last year, but keyboardist Billy Duprey wasn't content to just sit around. The debut record of his solo project The Year Fifteen has actually been in the works for nearly three years now, as second As A World Entire track "Objectivity" was originally released in November, 2011. As A World Entire now has a release date of March 23rd, and the whole record is a perfect extension of No Matter How Narrow' s move into a lighter mood, pushing it even more towards a poppy sound. Today, we're very excited to be premiering the song right at the middle of the record, "Out Of Sync." The song's verses wouldn't be too out of place on a Manchester Orchestra song if they decided to go poppier, softer and add more keys, while the chorus is repetitive, but extremely catchy. The bridge is the perfect climax to the song, as the rest of the members of The Republic of Wolves join to alternate vocals, becoming a beautiful use of guest vocals. The release of As A World Entire is fast approaching, so be sure to follow The Year Fifteen on Facebook for more news regarding the record.

Album Review - The War On Drugs - Lost In A Dream

Album Rating: A-
Americana is a phenomena I’ve always wanted to be a part of; a boiling pot of genre and style it screams liberty, justice and freedom, which I can say as a born and bred Englishmen, the overcast London lifestyle pales in comparison. And that’s what Lost In A Dream cumulates to, it’s music rooted in States culture projecting a sensory experience which will be homely to some and a inciting venture for many this side of the pond. As this Philadelphia four piece’s third album without the contribution of War on Drugs alum and dimensional wanderer Kurt Vile, I can’t help but feel this has sharpened their sound as well as their peripheries, like opening a window and letting the stale haze of the previous night drift out — Lost In A Dream is a record rich in fresh outlooks, taking one’s head out of the sand and basking in the warm glow of resolve.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Album Review: Owls - Two

Album Rating: B+
Sitting down with a new Tim Kinsella related album is like ordering a new item at Taco Bell; you have a general idea of what it's going to be like, and you are already a fan, but the mixture of the ingredients may not always yield perfect results. On the first new Owls record in 13 years, Tim Kinsella leads his ex-Cap'n Jazz band throughout 10 twisting tracks, in a winding journey towards who-knows-where. Two may not be the exact sequel to Owls that fans might have expected, but it is a welcome addition to the ever-growing Kinsella catalogue.

Live Review: Interpol, Riverside, Newcastle (16/03/2014)

For some unbeknown reason the NME's annual Awards Tour has chosen to omit Newcastle from its 2014 trail, but that didn't prevent this year's headliners from paying North East fans a visit. Members of Sunday night's long sold-out crowd may, in fact, argue they got the better deal, with this special Riverside warm-up providing a sense of occasion that'll no doubt be absent from the New Yorker's trawl of the nation's O2 Academies. Their first show of any kind since November 2011, this coup had the dual significance of kicking off Think Tank's stint at the venue, following previous residencies in both Hoults Yard and Times Square. It made sense then that there was also local favourites on show in the shape of Warm Digits, who cranked up the atmosphere nicely with a typically propulsive half-hour display of krautrock goodness.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Album Review: Withered Hand - New Gods

Album Rating: B+
Given that the creation of music takes both time and application, it figures that the LPs bearing the longest lapses are often those which prove the most divergent. This clearly is of little issue to most receptive listeners, but there are occasional discs, such as Dan Willson's second as Withered Hand, which are so removed as to require adjustment. Surfacing back in 2009, Good News, the Edinburgh native's full-length bow was a true underground gem, attaining cult status through its combination of lo-fi gravitas and emotional rawness covering rejection, sexual frustration and even spirituality. Five years on, however, and the lustrous strum ushering in 'Horseshoe' affirms its follow-up to be a markedly different proposition.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Live Review: CHVRCHES, O2 Academy, Newcastle (07/03/2014)

Housing as it does some of the finest pop songs in recent memory, CHVRCHES' LP The Bones of What You Believe was one I had no problem falling for, even if I held it to be a somewhat hit-and-miss affair. That, however, is a stance I've had to revise after witnessing their belated Newcastle debut; an all too brief hour of soaring hooks and bulging electronics which served not only to confirm the album's strength but also to vindicate every last ounce of hyperbole to which the Glaswegians have been subjected. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Interview With County Drop

Garnering a name in the New Brunswick, NJ underground circuit is not an easy mission to accomplish. There are a number of superb bands all fighting for a chance to get their music heard by the tons of kids dedicated to the scene. I was lucky enough to have a word with County Drop, an up and coming band that takes a unique approach to the whole emo/punk blend. With the recent release of their third record, The Origin of Skeletons, we talk about life in the New Brunswick scene, the awesomeness of couscous, and the band's plan for the future. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Album Review: Wild Beasts - Present Tense

Album Rating: A-
Much of the run-up to Wild Beasts' fourth LP has centered around lead track 'Wanderlust,' and in particular Hayden Thorpe's provocative query "in your mother tongue / what's the verb to suck?" A thinly veiled swipe at musicians who decline to sing in their own accents, it's especially apt coming from a man whose flamboyant delivery epitomises his group's teeter between the sublime and the ridiculous - although it must be said that balance is tipping further towards the former with every album Kendel's finest release. Indeed, whereas literate defiance and unbridled eccentricity were once the order of the day, the quartet's craft now settles into a groove of slow burn and deep subtlety; an approach very nearly perfected on 2011's sensational Smother, and now pushed to even greater extremes on this colourful follow-up.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Live Review: Into It. Over It., The World Is A Beautiful Place, Local 506 (2/15/14)

Photo by: Jordan Ambrose
After being released early from work on Wednesday thanks to the approaching winter storm, and then finding myself completely snowed in until the weekend, a bouncy emo show was just what I needed Saturday night, even if half of the roads were still blanketed with ice.  When I first arrived at the Local 506, ten minutes after the doors had opened, I was expecting about half of the floor to be completely empty for my taking, blissfully unaware of this tour's relevance.  Really, I had no idea these bands were as popular as they are (though, as I would later learn, much of the crowd wasn't there for the headliner at all), and found myself confined to the short corridor next to the bar for the majority of the opening set.  Who would have thought that having feelings these days would be so popular?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Live Review: Loscil and Dextro, Mining Institute, Newcastle (22/02/2014)

I wasn't overly familiar with Canadian ambient artist Loscil - nor indeed Scottish support Dextro - prior to entering Newcastle's Mining Institute, but in seeking a way to spend my Saturday night, their appearance turned into a fine whim. Housed in the magnificent building's dimly lit auditorium, this gig was as much about your eyes as it was your ears, with audience members offered the choice of appreciating the technical mastery before them, soaking up the prominent and provocative visual accompaniments or simply drifting off, allowing themselves to be swathed in a sea of sonic wonderment.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Album Review: Xiu Xiu - Angel Guts: Red Classroom

Album Rating: B-
Violent, graphic, and unsettling; these are words that come to mind when the final track ends on Xiu Xiu's latest album, Angel Guts: Red Classroom. The band's new material, out now on Polyvinyl Records, focuses on a recent relocation to a dangerous, gang-ridden section of Los Angeles. Frontman Jamie Stewart has always been one for the dramatic and unrestrained, but on Angel Guts, he traverses into a whole new territory from where he used to roam.

Past Xiu Xiu albums have covered some very sensitive topics, ranging from abortion, molestation, suicide, to simple heartbreak. Where Angel Guts steps itself up, is in that every song goes into violent, almost gruesome nature. Descriptions of gang murder, rape, and sex are abundant throughout the albums 13 tracks, and never allow one to fully be at ease while listening.

The band's style has changed over the years, as have their members; all revolving around Stewart as the brainchild of the project. While past efforts have been laced with tingling electronics and strumming guitars over blippy drums, Angel Guts focuses its entirety around old-school synthesizers. No guitars are to be found on the entire record. This somewhat large change in stylization goes on the hurt the album, and eventually ends up becoming a tad bit droning. Xiu Xiu's electronics have always been stimulating but some tracks on Angel Guts start and remain purely monotone. Stewart's vocalizations have also been toned down. His howling and yelling is found more here to be whispers and eerie toneless phrasing. On some tracks, it fits, but on others it makes you beg for something with more dynamic.

The first single, "Stupid In The Dark," could have easily fit on 2011's Always, but is by far the most accessible track on Angel Guts and that's saying something for a band that is not very accessible. Songs such as "Black Dick," and "Cinthya's Unisex" do standout as the better of the bunch, and it's because they have the previously aforementioned dynamics that are lacking from most of the tracks. The pleading "no no no no no no no no," on "Cinthya's Unisex" is haunting and disturbing and is fitting for a Xiu Xiu song, and could've lead the band into more experimental territory, but it seems like they restrained themselves on most tracks.

Sensitive subject matter may be at fault for a less than substantial Xiu Xiu album, but Jamie Stewart will always be progressing and expressing himself. Maybe sometimes it's just different than others.


Track list:

1. Angel Guts:
2. Archie Fades
3. Stupid In The Dark
4. Lawerence Liquors
4. Black Dick
5. New Life Immigration
6. El Naco
7. Adult Friends
8. The Silver Platter
9. Bitter Melon
10. A Knife In The Sun
11. Cinthya's Unisex
12. Botanica  de Los Angeles
13. :Red Classroom

Friday, February 21, 2014

Album Review: St. Vincent - St. Vincent

Album Rating: A
When an artist embarks on a run like Annie Clark's at present, their momentum can almost seem harder to halt than it is to maintain, at least to those of us on the outside. On those grounds, the fact the 31-year-old Oklahoman's fourth LP is such a resounding knockout triumph actually doesn't come as that big a surprise, but that shouldn't for one moment undermine the exuberance and mastery housed within its 40-minutes - nor that it's her finest work to date, and that by a considerable margin.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Interview: Andi Deris of Helloween

Andi Deris is the vocalist for Helloween, an influential power metal band from Germany. He sang with Pink Cream 69 until he joined Helloween in 1993; he has since released thirteen albums with the group, including four gold-certified records. He recently recorded a solo album with his solo band The Bad Bankers entitled Million-Dollar Haircuts on Ten-Cent Heads. I spoke with him about a number of topics such as where the name The Bad Bankers came from, how he chooses what to play live and his favorite songs, his dream collaborations, getting thrown in jail, having his bus ransacked, and some memorable moments from Helloween’s recent world tour.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Album Review: The Lawrence Arms - Metropole

Album Rating: B+
Ah, Brenden Kelly and friends, we meet again. Of course, The Lawrence Arms are hardly just a one-man endeavor, with Chris McCaughan and Neil Hennessey always bringing something interesting to the table. But Kelly’s daily intellectual dick joke musings, oddly perceptive interview questions and general tendency to not overemphasize his self-perceived, debatably esoteric art (flicker much?) has always been the most memorable and equally approachable in my book. Now, seven years after the return-to-form Oh! Calcutta!, our favorite drunken Chicago litterateurs have surfaced once again, this time around returning to an even older form with Metropole (recalling one of the greatest punk stories ever told), and though it’s a short sonic moment, there’s a lot worth retelling.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Album Review: Counterparts - The Difference Between Hell And Home

Album Rating: A
The Difference Between Hell and Home, the latest effort from Canadian hardcore outfit, Counterparts, combines a unique cocktail of masterful syncopation, brutal breakdowns, memorable leads, and powerful lyrics. It is a concise album that does not overstay its welcome, consisting of eleven tracks and clocking in at thirty-seven minutes.

Jukebox: The Silver Palms - "Superstar"

Recent sonic trends have pushed radio rock towards experimental, atmospheric haziness, but as Camden, Georgia band The Silver Palms proves, there's something to be said for the unabashedly bright, lighthearted tunes that populated airwaves in the days of old. Debut single "Superstar" doesn't use a lot of building blocks, starting off with a catchy guitar riff and Dalton Drury's plaintive, matter-of-fact vocal before galloping into a chorus that soars on the strength of a hook built for shouting together--a bit punch-drunk but completely sincere--and a galvanizing drum beat. Old tricks have been polished for modern times, with a slightly sinister bent to the jangly production, guitar riffs layered here and sinking into oblivion there, but the band is smart to keep things simple and sweet.

You can find The Silver Palms on tour; catch its debut single on Canvasclub on March 10.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Album Review: Bibio - The Green

Album Rating: B-
Bibio has always seemed to just do what he wants, which for him means exploring the boundaries of the “folktronica” (eesh) style he's attributed with. It isn't uncommon to hear him pair chirpy, tv-friendly songs and more experimental electronic pieces as if it's a transition everyone is comfortable with, but he's managed to make it work by just being so god damn charming. Think of it as music for smartphone-era hippies.

Album Review: A.M. Overcast - Pellow

Album Rating: B+
Imagine if Rivers Cuomo and the rest of Weezer decided to actually take lessons on how to better play their instruments. You know what, I'll do you one better - imagine if their teachers were the members of This Town Needs Guns! Luckily for you (and for me), this happened, well, sort of...

Stemming from the mind of Alexander Litinsky, comes his latest album, Pellow, from his project known as A.M. Overcast. If there was ever a happy medium between pop, punk, and math-rock, I believe Litinsky has created it. It's an intricate, catchy album with a constant ebb and flow of twinkly guitar and flailing drum rolls. While it may appear to be busy at times, Pellow is an engaging listen, perfect for a tranquil drive along the shoreline.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Album Review: Soreption - Engineering the Void

Album Score: B+
Death metal is a genre that presents a conundrum of sorts for new artists. In order to be considered a player, a band has to fulfill certain expectations: precise musicianship, guttural vocals, challenging tempos, complex and ever-changing riffs, incessant double-kick drumming, guitar-centric structures, and so forth. The problem with such standards is that they also portend a certain amount of conformity, and therefore a band must also find a way to stand out without violating these essential characteristics of death metal. Soreption is a rising group that finds itself on the fence between these paradigms – perhaps perfectly so, as Engineering the Void sticks to its tech death guns while striving for a voice of its own. Such is the luxury afforded to a group as fundamentally sound as this Swedish quartet as they balance impressive chops with intrepid songwriting on their sophomore effort.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Album Review: Cynic - Kindly Bent to Free Us

Album Score: C
Cynic is a band that defies explanation. If Kindly Bent to Free Us is your first impression of the group, then you’ll be in for a shock upon looking into this progressive juggernaut’s back catalogue. Paul Masvidal, Sean Malone, and Sean Reinert comprise Cynic’s core, and while they’ve left an indelible mark on extreme metal over the last quarter-century, Cynic has lately become a total enigma. Sure, the upbeat swing of “The Lion’s Roar” bears little face-value resemblance to cuts from the band’s classic 1993 album Focus, but in a weird way it seems like we should have seen this coming all along. Gone are the shredded leads and the death growls, and in their place have risen ethereal atmospheres and intricately layered compositions. Then again, is the intro of “Kindly Bent to Free Us” really so far from that of “I’m But a Wave To”? Regardless, it seems like it’s time to let go of our notions on what Cynic was and start appreciating what it is, and has always been – a group of musicians willing to try anything and everything so long as it has an intrepid soul and thoughtful arrangement.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Concert Review: Amon Amarth, Enslaved, and Skeletonwitch

Amon Amarth is heavy metal’s version of life imitating art: twenty-two years in, the beardy Swedes are laying waste to music venues more vociferously than ever and solidifying their place in the pantheon of heavy metal. Last year’s uncompromising Deceiver of the Gods opened at #19 in the US charts, the highest death metal album by a band not based on a cartoon, and yet many fans argue that Amon Amarth isn’t even the most important band on its current tour. They have a point, too, because when a concert boasts a one-two punch of Amon Amarth and a black metal titan like Enslaved, it’s bound to be one hell of a night. At the House of Blues in Boston, the pillaging was in full force as native opener Skeletonwitch knocked down the gates on a stupendous evening of Odin worship, heraldry, and fist-pumping metal anthems.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Miniview: Dave Hause - Devour

Album Rating: B+
The origin story of Apostle Paul in the Bible is both inspiring and terrifying: only after he was blinded by God on the way to Damascus did he come to see the light. Gritty gospel-rock musician Dave Hause's Devour, both a reflection on Hause's life and a searing sermon on American society, centers itself on that truth. Opener "Damascus" (note the title) carries itself on scratchy guitar textures and clicking hi-hats while Hause delivers poetic hints of an impending apocalypse, stockpiling "bullets and Vitamin C" while scales grow over his eyes. A bleak start, but the track builds to a raging crescendo, an assertion of agency if not a victory rally. From there, Hause wastes no time driving a stake into the heart of the American Dream, tearing apart our whitewashed history on "The Great Depression" and exploring the seeming hopelessness of modern times on "We Could Be Kings," both crowdpleasers that'll no doubt compel disillusioned dreamers to sing along. The best preachers, however, are storytellers, and Hause is wise to color his observations with compelling character portraits--a young worker deployed on "We Could Be Kings," two lovers caught in a cycle of addiction and destruction on "Same Disease," a man stuck between his upbringing and his future on "Father's Son," each sketched in with an eye unforgiving but sympathetic regardless. Devour may not pull any punches, but it refuses to give in to cynicism, either: its hope is difficult, well-deserved, and never saccharine. Nowhere is this attitude better reflected than on "Benediction," where Hause runs down a list of questions prodding at the soul of the modern American before reaching a simple conclusion: "It's love, my friend, in the end."

You can stream the album here.

Miniview: The Republic of Wolves - No Matter How Narrow

Album Rating: A-
In the process of recording its second album No Matter How Narrow, Long Island outfit The Republic of Wolves had to switch between three different spaces over four months just to get everything finished: the resulting release is as eclectic as one would expect. Even within songs, the four members switch adeptly between nimble, catchy rhythm sections, melodies brimming with measured angst and anger, delicate moments of serenity and titanic breakdowns. There's pop-punk gold buried in these twisted ruins, though: the most resonant moments on No Matter How Narrow are often when The Republic of Wolves weaves all of its layers into a tapestry of balanced chaos, demonstrating control by losing it. Standout "Spare Key" opens on a math-rocky guitar melody, looped over and over, before drums, keys and vocal harmonies enter the dialogue one by one--instead of rehashing the same material, the band constantly runs new permutations of old motifs: one chorus where the drums are churning as everything over it vies for space, another where everything but the acoustic guitar has died down and the band's gentle, emotive lead vocals have room to shine. The best cuts here feel as if the band is continuously reinterpreting its experience, even in the midst of writing it, and No Matter How Narrow abounds with new insights.

You can stream the album below:

Friday, January 31, 2014

Artist Spotlight: The Twilight Sad

With three LPs in the bank and another well on its way, The Twilight Sad appear to have reached something of a crossroads in their ardent, noisy career. True, such conclusions are regularly leapt to with fresh music imminent, however, if the Kilsyth outfit's recent activities are anything to go by it seems they too sense a change in the wind. Given they're neither going through the motions nor hitting a notable anniversary, the decision to revisit debut Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters for a series of live dates was a curious exercise in nostalgia, but now that they're granting the same record a deluxe Record Store Day reissue it suggests a group bidding farewell to those elementary days. Indeed, having fulfilled childhood dreams by selling out Glasgow's Barrowlands Ballroom in 2012, the trio can justifiably purport to have "made it" as a band, but that didn't prevent them from accepting another prestigious live offer last October, this time in the markedly offbeat setting of Paisley Abbey.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Album Review: Ulver/Sunn O))) - Terrestrials

Album Score: B
“Like some lost pilgrim stretching before the sun…” - Rygg

Kristoffer Rygg has certainly made his musical pilgrimages, from black metal allegedly recorded in a forest to haunting ambient-electronic opuses. It comes as little surprise, then, that his lifelong project – the enigmatic entity known as Ulver – would wander into the path of another avant-garde behemoth in Sunn O))). Both bands have basically done as they pleased since their inceptions, and though the latter duo has perhaps alienated as many as it has enthralled, rumors of a collaboration between such creative forces seized the attention of experimental music fans everywhere. Born of early-morning improvisations at Ulver’s studio in August 2008 and painstakingly honed in the years since, Terrestrials is the sort of album that dreams are made of – particularly the kind from which you wake up hyperventilating in a cold sweat.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Album Review: County Drop - The Origin of Skeletons

Album Rating: A
Hailing from the heart of the New Brunswick, NJ basement scene, County Drop proves that sincerity is the best policy. Released in late August of last year, The Origin of Skeletons is a raw mess of emotions smoothed over with unusual song structures, intricate drum patterns, and hooky choruses. It’s a heartfelt record that fuses the likes of emo, indie, and punk.

Artist Spotlight: Amends

It is very rare at this point in my life that a band will honestly impress me beyond a certain level on first listen. Most new bands often need a sort of "warming up period," to both hone their skills and entice new listeners. On my first listen of Rochester's Amends first EP, Here, There and Nowhere Else, they completely shattered my preconceived notion of a young band needing this early period. Amends is a post-hardcore band, that is surprisingly melodic yet has ferocious tenacity. Reminiscent of Pianos Become The Teeth, Amends differs in blending aspects of alternative rock with post-hardcore. Songs are emotional and worm their melodies into your head, while still being heavy and
powerful. The band plays with the skills of long-term veterans and have already defined their unique style of post-hardcore.

Keep your eyes open for Amends, who are now working on new music. Their debut EP is now available on CD on Hockomock records, and cassette on Fear Not Records.

Download or stream their EP 
Preorder their EP on cassette here (limited to 55 copies)
Purchase their EP on cd here

Monday, January 27, 2014

Album Review: Alaskan - Erosion, Despair, Loss

Album Score: A-
The mountain stands before me: glaciers wracked with black crevasses extend for miles before windswept ridges jut upwards at jagged angles. Something inside tells me to go back.“A sacrifice!” scream the violins, shrill strings that rise and writhe like harbingers of doom.The storm descends; I forge ever onwards. My footsteps ring against the frozen earth, faster and faster, into the mouth of the sky. An avalanche – the drums, thundering; resonant and sharp, an unstoppable force to carry me to the foot of the behemoth. I pass the point of no return; the falling snow is a deafening blanket. I look around and find nothing familiar but the sound of my own voice as it is carries down the slopes to disappear into some godforsaken chasm. “Beg for forgiveness!” the mountain demands, its voice harsh, merciless.Why undertake this journey? Why here, of all places, when I could be in sunny fields or sandy shores?

Jukebox: VARNA - "My Heart"

As the origin story of Los Angeles rock trio VARNA suggests, life can be random; the members met while installing a fan in the vocalist's house. On the band's single "My Heart," however, the chemistry is undeniable. If the concept is a bit middle-of-the-road, the dynamic execution blows temptations of cynicism away. The verse-chorus structure is intact, but the band shifts things up right when you're settled in--a new rhythm here, a melodic tangent there. Drummer Rob Shin shifts from mellow, layered rhythms to ferocious, in-your-face ones; guitarist Rossen Pinkas riffs and shreds for his life; and vocalist Tiana Woods delivers anger and sorrow with a fiery elegance. It's a strong statement of intent and a good reminder that sometimes the best things in life come from sincerity and talent.

Album Review: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

Album Rating: A
A band with a name like Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra can only sound this way. Ethereal, spiritual, and at times thematic, the Canadian experimental group swells and succeeds once again on their seventh studio album. Being as a bit of a lesser known side project to the critically acclaimed Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion differ in one key aspect. They feature vocals from band leader Efrim Menuck. Also focusing on a more string and orchestral feel than GYBE, Thee Silver Mt. Zion are completely different entity that deserves all the praise and respect of Godspeed You! On Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything, the band produces another full-length, emotional roller coaster of sound and energy. The record is everything that one would want from the band, and may be their strongest effort yet.

Fuck Off Get Free... can easily be considered a fully representative picture of Thee Silver Mt. Zion as a whole. Throughout its six tracks, the record takes you on a journey along a spiraling and mesmerizing path, through mountains of experimental punk to depths of gloomy minimalistic slow core. The band kicks off the disc with the roaring, distorted string section taking the helm, leading the title track on its way. Here the band displays their unique version of experimental punk rock, featuring orchestral strings, combined with driving drums and discordant guitars. Menuck's vocals are  pleading as usual, treading the line between singing and howling closely, but always on the brink of emotional dismay. Thee Silver Mt. Zion's lyrics are known for being closely tied to politics and worldly issues, and there is no difference here. Songs discuss their native Canada, and even expand into general human code.

At only six songs in length, Fuck Off Get Free contains a few drawn out tracks to fulfill its LP status. The aforementioned title track is only the first one, and "Austerity Blues" follows immediately, also  being the longest song on the album. While it may not be any new territory for the band, it's a track that can be welcomed easily into their catalogue. "Take Away These Early Grave Blues" comes crashing in next, with it's powerful and driving energy, making it very reminiscent of "I Built Myself a Metal Bird," from 2010's Kollaps Tradixionales. During these pseudo-punk tracks Thee Silver Mt. Zion define themselves and truly separate any comparison that says they are "just" a side-project of Godspeed You!

"Little Ones Run" delivers some breathing room next, letting the listener's ears relax over light piano and haunting vocals, and it serves as a prelude to the epic and heartbreakingly emotional "What We Loved Was Not Enough." Previously released as two tracks on an EP in 2012, the song sees new life here in a sort of remastered, rerecorded version that exceeds the original significantly. Building upon itself over its 11 minute timeframe, the song reaches an emotional boiling point where it overflows with beautiful sounds and longing vocals. Being such a highpoint on the album, it overshadows the gloomy closer, "Rains Thru The Roof at Thee Grand Ballroom (For Capital Steez)," which plays more like an outro than anything.

Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything can easily be seen as a definitive experience of Thee Silver Mt. Zion. It contains every aspect that defines the unique group, and finds the band at some of their highest highs. As swiftly as it came, the album has the opposite in staying power. The LP is one that will stick around in my mind for some time, and is hopefully just the beginning of an exciting 2014.

Track list:

1. Fuck Off Get Free (For The Island of Montreal)
2. Austerity Blues
3. Take Away These Early Grave Blues
4. Little Ones Run
5. What We Loved Was Not Enough
6. Rains Thru The Roof at Thee Grand Ballroom (For Capital Steez)