Tag: Indie Rock

Midwest Monday (Episode 3)

Midwest Monday (Episode 3)

Hey all, it’s time for another Midwest Monday featuring Wisconsin’s own Treason This! The band consists of singer/songwriter Michael Ingle, guitarists Chris Merisalo and Jordan August, bassist Taylor Long, and drummer Zach Zander. This indie rock/pop-punk hybrid group formed around 2011 by Michael and Chris, with Michael writing most of the material. Jordan, Zach, and Taylor later joined around 2014 and 2015. The band has released three EPs to date: When Home’s A World Away (2013), Portraits (2013), and Always Perfect (2014). The first two EPs were rereleased as the Any Thoughts? Collection. If you like bands such as Say Anythig, Motion City Soundtrack, and Modern Baseball, then this incredible group is just right for you.

Some of my favorite things about this band are their relatable lyrics the deal with teen angst at it’s purest, the musicality of each individual member, and the fact that they are an amazing up-and-coming band from Wisconsin. This was the band that made me want to initially do a segment like this on the blog because these guys are so super talented. Oh, and it just got announced that not only do they have a new single out, “Joy,” but they are also a winner of the Ernie Ball “Battle Of the Bands” competition for this year’s Warped Tour, meaning that they will be playing the Milwaukee date (July 26th)!! Also, the song “Joy” will be featured on a new EP to be released very soon. I cannot recommend this band enough. My favorite songs include “Moviegoers Dilemma,” “Manic,” “I Hate You Please Die,” “Joy,” and “The Bus To Chicago Told It All.”

If you want to listen/buy Treason This’s music, follow these links below:

http://treasonthis.com/

http://www.youtube.com/Settochange
(music available on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.)

I also did an interview with Michael for my podcast earlier this year, which you can check out right here: https://soundcloud.com/musicinthebasementpodcast/music-in-the-basement-episode-seven-treason-this

New In Review! (Week of 5/13)

New In Review! (Week of 5/13)

Hey everyone! It’s been awhile since New In Review has come around (I’ve been busy with finals/finishing up my sophomore year of college, oy), but I guarantee this one is worth the wait. The reason? Modern Baseball. Another reason? They’ve officially released Holy Ghost! It is the much anticipated follow-up to their last studio album You’re Gonna Miss It All (2014, my personal favorite MoBo release). Here’s a couple of fun facts before we get into the review:
1. As you all know, I usually do album reviews on first listen. This is the first album I listened to before I sat down to write this post. I just couldn’t help myself because I was really stoked on this album!
2. I’m really glad that they did not put any songs from the EP that they released last year (simply known as The Perfect Cast EP, which is also really good, so check it out, too). Sometimes you’ll see artists/bands make EPs that have songs that end up on the album, which makes it more like a sampler more than an EP. Thankfully, this was not the case for the Philadelphia indie punkers.
3. Since I’ve listened to this album already, I’ll give you guys some cool info: the album is technically split up into two parts. “How is this possible?” you may ask. It’s split right down the middle with the first half being songs written by Jake Ewald (co-lead vocals/guitar), and the second half being written by Brendan Lukens (co-lead vocals/guitar). I thought this was an interesting strategy because past releases have been split up pretty equally, this was a straight ahead approach that turned out to be really cool. That being said, I’ve typically preferred Bredan’s voice over Jake’s, but again, that’s just personal preference.

Now that that’s out of my system, on with the review! The intro track/title track is a beautiful little ditty with powerful lyrics and a simple, yet effective melody. Apparently, after watching the documentary that they made revolving around this album, the song is based on Jake’s grandfather and what he meant to him and his family as a stable force. When you think about it that way, it just makes the song more emotional. It makes you wonder what it would be like if it was longer! That song flows into track number 2, “Wedding Singer,” which is the third single that has been released. Of all the songs on “Side Jake,” this one is one of my favorite songs that he has sung lead on since “Broken Cash Machine,” on the last album. You can also notice one key thing about this one: it sets up the style of production of the entire record — solid, but not as polished as YGMIA. Killer bassline in the verses, as well. The next song is “Note To Self.” Speaking of bass, the lines in this song are amazing! It’s a little slower than the previous song, but the chorus is catchy as hell. Other than that, there’s not really much else too special about this song. Just the typical MoBo sound, but a little more refined in some parts. By the way, Jake gets a little screamy on this song near the end, and it’s SUPER killer!

“Mass” is the next track, which actually could be short for “Massachusetts.” This is probably my favorite track, as far as musicality goes. Poppy, but definitely feels very indie/punk/emo/whatever you wanna call it. Only caveat I find is that it needs to be longer! Next up is the first single released, “Everyday.” At first listen, I wasn’t too crazy over it, especially in the first verses; even though, Jake’s approach with falsetto vocals at times is cool. However, I will admit, this song does have a groove once you get into it. Again, killer bass licks are present in this song. It does, unfortunately, end on an abrupt note. Oh well. Jake’s half of the album concludes with the song “Hiding,” which is actually somewhat epic, to say the least. Starting off softly and acoustic, points of distortion creep up when you least expect it <hint, drums, hint>. It definitely sounds the most different on this side of the album, but it really does work. It is Jake’s sendoff to his side to give way to Brendan’s side. In terms of overall songwriting, this one is my favorite on “Side Jake.”

“Side Brendan” starts with the somewhat namesake song “Coding These To Lukens.” In a short description, it starts off interestingly, but by the second half, Brendan comes out of his angry shell and rocks hard! “Breathing In Stereo” follows, and the rocking doesn’t stop at all on this song. This is probably the heaviest song on the album, and the guitars are at their most distorted and punk sounding. Even though there’s a sudden slowing down near the end, the emotion is still there, and the song picks back up for the last 10 seconds. Track 9 is “Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind.” Honestly, also at first listen, I couldn’t really get into the beat. It sounded a little, dare I say, U2-ish. Which isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just a little too left field for my MoBo taste. Now I know, that there is probably a deeper meaning behind the song, which is fine because it’s a pretty chill song, it’s just not my favorite.

“What If…” is the penultimate song on the album, starting off as a continuation of “Apple Cider.” Honestly, the song sounds like fragments of “Apple Cider,” but making it sound better. I do predict that when they play “Apple Cider” live, no doubt that “What If…” will be played in succession, as if it was one track. The concluding song on the album, “Just Another Face,” packs a big mid-tempo, alt-rock punch. Like “Hiding” on “Side Jake,” it is the other most epic sounding song on the record. It punches you right in the gut, but in a different way than “Hiding.” It feels more of a heavier punch, which is for sure a great thing in my book. It is also probably the most emotional sounding song lyrically of the Brendan songs.

Honestly, props to the guys in MoBo for writing a solid follow up to a record that actually got me more into the band. There are a few flaws though. First, the album is now officially the shortest of their catalog, which is great in some respects, but in this case, it brings me to the next flaw; some of the songs sound way too short and abrupt <hint, “Everyday,” hint>. Even though there are some killer songs on this album, there are tunes that feel like, not really duds, but what I like to call “songs that could have been.” I will say this though, if you have been a fan since either the beginning til about 2014, you will really like this album. Hmm, now that I think about it, if you replace some of the songs on Holy Ghost with songs from The Perfect Cast EP, it would make for one hell of an album. Again, oh well. No matter what, my love for this band will not die. Keep it up!

Rating: 8/10

Standout tracks: “Breathing In Stereo,” “Hiding,” “Just Another Face,” “Wedding Singer,” “Mass”

New In Review! (2/19) Part II

New In Review! (2/19) Part II

Part II of this week’s New In Review is commencing…NOW! The album we are looking at is First Day Back, the second full length album by the band Somos. For those that do not know, the band formed in 2012, and they hail from Boston MA. The band has previously released two split EPs (one with Sorority Noise and one with Have Mercy), and the tremendous debut album Temple Of Plenty. I will admit (and I apologize in advance), the first song that I heard by them was “Dead Wrong” on the radio, and at first I thought it was a Rise Against song *hangs head in embarrassment*. Reason being is because I thought vocalist Michael Fiorentino sounded like Tim McIlrath. However, after listening to Temple Of Plenty over and over again, I would compare Somos to bands that sound more like You Blew It! and Head North. After reading early reviews of First Day Back, one of them said that it sounded different than then first album and unpredictable at times; thus, my curiosity was sparked even more. So let’s do this thing!

The intro track “Slow Walk To The Graveyard Shift” is an atmospheric prelude that sets the listener up for something slow and somber, but instead goes into the next song “Violent Decline.” Somewhat upbeat music is coated with somewhat sad lyrics. The drums sound AMAZING on this track, which is actually one thing I admire about the band in general. The vocals also do not sound similar to the vocals on Temple, but they sound great nonetheless. They sound a little more mature, if you will. Up next is “Thorn In The Side,” which is the second single from the album. The upbeat tempo continues on this track, but the guitars are not as distorted as you would want them to be. The chorus on this track is pretty killer, too. “Problem Child” has a chill vibe to it. It is a pretty relaxing song, considering the lyrical content is about…well, a problem child. The final chorus in this song, however, brings a brief bounciness to the mix.

“Reminded/Weighed Down” brings the album back up after having the last three songs sound very similar to one another. Again, the drums are sick on this track! The vocal melody in the chorus is also simple, but super catchy, which is something that I have a fondness for. Track six, “Days Here Are Long,” brings back the atmospheric vibe that was featured on “Graveyard Shift.” Unfortunately, this songs feels a little incomplete. Then again, considering it’s the middle song, it could be considered more of an interlude. “Room Full Of People” might be my favorite on this album. Mellow, melodic guitar lines, intricate drumbeats, a thumping bass line, and the smoothest vocals ever make this song a masterpiece. It is also the first song on this album that is more than 3 minutes. “You Won’t Stay,” threw me for a loop. Synths and reverberated vocals start off the song, and it pretty much stays that way for the entirety of its duration. If their goal was to make an album that was more of an ambient vibe, this is one of the tracks that achieves this goal.

Next up is “Alright, I’ll Wait,” which was the first single released from this album. This song has the BEST chorus on the whole album. The guitars are also the “heaviest” here, which makes this song even sweeter, and the contrast between verse and chorus way better. The guitar interlude is also very pretty. “Bitter Medicine” is the shortest “full” song on the album, but this one also feels like a little interlude. Not a giant fan of this song because of that, unfortunately. Not much else to say about it, either. “Lifted From The Current” closes out this short LP on somewhat of a high note. The song doesn’t have a set structure, but then again, some of the songs on here do not have one, either. Using that formula on this song, on the other hand, actually works. On the other hand, the outro kinda disappoints me because it doesn’t sound complete. It just sounds anticlimactic.

If Somos’ goal was to make an album that sounded completely different than their first album, they definitely achieved their dream. While the album itself is only 27 minutes, there are some highlights on this album. That being said, it does feel too short/incomplete at times, especially on the more “ambient” songs on here. For someone listening to this record for the first time, I would say that it would have to take some getting used to, especially if you’re like me and worship Temple Of Plenty (which is something I usually don’t do when it comes to new music by newer bands). Either way, I will support this band because the music that they do make is pretty amazing. However, if I were to suggest where to start with this band, it would not be this album.

Rating: 7.5/10
Standout tracks: “Alright, I’ll Wait,”  “Room Full Of People,” “Reminded/Weighed Down”