Monday, April 2, 2012
An Electrifying, Eclectic Edifice of Ebullient EP's - Featuring The Enders, Hailmary, Mowgli, Engloria, and Cellarscape
I just dig this band. From the first rumbling of the post-punk flavored bass run that brings in "Role Model" The Enders have gone out and released another near-perfect slab of post-hardcore flavored punk. Big runs on that bass rolling over the driving drum beat. Then the guitars chug in, subtle at first, then gaining momentum with a mounting frenzy. Big chords crush out, followed by runs of a chiming guitar. All layering upon each other perfectly until the big chord riff finally crushes in and the song is in motion at full speed. Yep, that was just the intro, and a killer one at that. I think of some of my favorite songs by The Estranged (who'd make a killer touring companion) and I'm in my own little punk nirvana. I don't know what references to toss out. Black Flag? Probably. Government Issue? Perhaps. Dag Nasty or some other cross over band? Sure. The Estranged again? Ok, but you might not know them. So what's left?
What's left are 5 songs of pure charging punk. Touches of a metallic edge. A dark veil like some of the best post-punk bands of the '80's. A sneering attitude full of bile and spit. And songs that simply rock. "Roll Model" may be the best of the lot with it's catchy as hell riff, but that by no means dismisses the rest. "Martyr" stutters out of the starting gate with a stop start bass/drum confrontation, then the song gets pissed and anger flies out of the strings. Benny No Good does a good job with the vocals, clearing the sputum and disgust from his vocal chords with the right tonality of "fuck you" but still with enough of a true singing edge that you could play this for someone who wasn't a hardcore fan.
"Split Decision brings back that big bass intro that I love so much before the guitar jumps in and drives the song into my midbrain like a pneumatic drill. This is killer post-hardcore punk. Again, The Estranged rages to my mind, mainly because they're currently one of my favorite punk bands. Well, them and the Enders.
The Enders recently signed to Unrepentant Records. A full-length album is coming. I heard it's gonna be much more in the hardcore punk vein. But don't wait. Track down this EP and punk your brains out.
Damn if "Live it and Breathe" doesn't rock the start of this 5 cut EP by Perth's Hailmary with just about the best gunbarrel garage/grunge blast I've heard in ages. I mean, let's look at it honestly. If you're gonna listen to a 3-chord rock crusher what is it that you want to hear? Those chords ripped through with a sense of passion and urgency. Some serious hooks big enough to grab you by your spleen and yank you into the band's world. Volume and attitude cranked up way past the max and a chorus that just demands that you sing it to the world at the top of your lungs, thus insuring you become the town laughing stock at every red light you stop at. If you agree with this rudimentary assessment, then Hailmary may just be the band for you, because "Live it and Breathe" is one monster thrasher of heavy rock, garage-tainted guitar assault. A while back, Pope and I screeched the virtues of the band Mardo. Hailmary sits comfortably right by their side, or rather smash the stage comfortably by their side.
"Don't Believe Everything You Hear" follows next but that's not to say it's second rate. Riding a finger twisting bass run, "Follow" tears through it's message of gut-busting rock adventuring with the same abandon and even a touch more refinement in the chorus. Not to say the guys got soft, just wait til the chorus ends and that bass run forces it's way right back down your throat. Just killer rock. "You Ain't the Man" is another big-barreled blaster of beefed up bass-built badassedness. Three chords crush and smash and basically wreck havok on civilization. Slower cuts like "Bringing out the Best" and "Lottery of Life" round out the proceedings and are a necessary variation in tempo, but really, I want the adrenaline. I'm a junkie, and Hailmary has me hooked.
As the title suggests, Mowgli are a Southern Californian indy rock band with their eyes set firmly on the glorious days of San Francisco past. Mixing a Polyphonic Spree and Arcade Fire modern rock sensibility into their version of SF's Haight Ashbury summer of love, Mowgli unleash these three tracks of summertime bliss. And two of the three ain't bad. Opener "San Francisco" and follower "Slowly, Slowly" are buoyant, bouncy slices of feel-good sunshine pop with driving beats, big strummed guitars and singalong choruses. Normally, mention Polyphonic Spree or Arcade Fire in a review for me would be the death knell for a band, but Mowgli manage to avoid all the trappings of egomania and pretense and stick to what they do best, "do-do-do dit do-do-do" ditties. And best of all these two tracks rock tough enough to avoid becoming snooze fodder.
The third track "Carry Your Will" is a slower acoustic dirge that never really finds itself, discovers it's purpose or goes anywhere. A throwaway which fortunately does nothing to diminish the pop smarts of the previous cuts.
On their materials, Mowgli says that they have set out to win your heart and save the world with love, laughter, and hand claps. And really, is there anything wrong with that?
Available at "name your price" at http://themowglis.bandcamp.com/track/san-francisco
Engloria - Drive EP
Earnest alt-rockers, Engloria from Albany, NY produce radio-ready, perfect pop along the lines of fellow New Yorkers, The Goo Goo Dolls. Well, the gentler side of the Goo Goo's that is.
This 3-song EP has just about everything the band needs to introduce themselves to the world. Title track “Drive,” is an up-tempo rocker in the Gin Blossoms vein with some big ringing guitars and a chorus catchy enough to be scientifically classified as an earworm. No doubt, alt radio should be clamoring after this baby. “Out of Love,” keeps the earnestness running high with it's mid-tempo reflection on life's changes. More acoustic based, this cut is no less catchy or well written. The guitar driven melodic love ballad, “Made for You,” wraps things up with it's plaintive yearning.
All in all, it's pretty impressive stuff. The world always needs some radio-ready indy stuff from folks who can actually write a good tune, and Engloria neatly fit that bill. The biggest problem with this release is that the production is so low key, it actually sounds more like a demo, than a radio ready product. Which is actually kinda cool, in it's own right, but probably not what programmers are looking for. Also, with the repetitive use of words like "earnest" in this review, you may get the feeling that the boys might take themselves a tad to seriously and might benefit from adding a touch of lightness and humor to some of their songs. And never be afraid to rock out.
But this is only 3 songs, so I won't pass judgement. I'll just recognize these tunes for what they are. Neatly prepped slices of indy pop confection.
And finally, something to calm you down after all that rock. Cellarscape is the brainchild of Paul Terry who plies a quasi-Luka Bloom-esque alt-acoustic trade of near-soundtrack inspired pop. I reviewed his earlier work a while back, now he returns with A Theta/Delta Union which brings his haunting compositions to the light with fragile guitars and lush orchestration.
The beauty of Paul's work is the dynamic tension that he captures in the spaces between the crash of a guitar chord and his voice. In his best work there always seems to be a threat of violence, as if it could erupt at anytime. That tension keeps me on edge as I listen rather than sitting back, getting comfortable and falling asleep. His songs actually bristle with a vibrating energy. The whole experience can only be thought of as hypnotically majestic.
This cinematic presence is perfectly captured in opener "This is a Shelter" with it's crash and stab of acoustic guitar, haunting spaces and underlying threat. It's amazing how dark the song can sound with really not much more than an acoustic guitar, some piano notes, and some strings. "Snowglobe" reminds me of some of the acoustic work of prog-minded bands like Porcupine Tree or OSI. Mesmerizing stuff.
If you're in the mood for a different kind of tension, where mood brings the power, this may be for you. The whole EP can be streamed for free at www.vibedeck.com/cellarscape.