Some Reviews

At one point, this blog was supposed to be strictly a record review site, but at one point, the EWA100 was supposed to be a three month project, so shit happens I guess.

After a couple of months doing the CD review thing, I got sick of doing the leg work that doing such a thing entails. Especially for a lot of music I really had no interest in anymore. I don't care how many records you get to review, unless you're some kind of optimistic robot, you will hate 80% of what you receive. It's not healthy to pursue such a thing. I find tons of shit to hate by happenstance, I shouldn't need to seek it out.

Anyway, record label Equal Vision has "stuck by me" for lack of a better term. At one point, long long ago, they were a very small fringe label and now they're blowing up where they have bands with music videos in heavy rotation and all that other happy horseshit. I may not like all of their bands, but they've never chewed me out or pressured me into giving their records a good review, and I've reviewed a lot of their records over the past few years.

My blog has almost completely abandoned it's indie rock/heavy music side, but EVR is nice enough to still send me CDs to review, so it's the least I can do. If you're only here for the rap talk, you may want to skip this post.

First up:

The Fall of Troy - Manipulator (Equal Vision. 2007)

I could tell by the cover art and the song titles that this was going to be screamo. I'm not sure if I reviewed their debut CD for Equal Vision, but all signs are poitning to no on that one. I don't fully hate screamo like a lot of old codgers, but there's a few bands who do it right (Blood Brothers, Fear Before the March of Flames) and a lot more that get it all wrong.
The Fall of Troy fall somewhere in between. These kids are young, but this is their second CD on a very big indie label, so I don't think this is a case where you can brush off mistakes for lack of experience. There's a lot of twists and turns here, which one would come to expect froma screamo band, but they're not all exciting twists and turns.
There's a lot of Mike Patton worship going on during the clean vocals, and then some par for the course screams during the money parts. The music, for the most part is pretty tolerable, but there's a few instances where the band doesn't bother to leave their influences on their sleeves, but instead, blatantly shoves them in your face. There's one song on here that sounds like a high school band covering Weezer, then another that sounds like Guns & Roses. Now I don't know how much of this is done tongue in cheek, since that kind of stuff comes up a lot with the screamo bands because they're all mostly skinny, sassy pretty kids who enjoy that whole snotty vibe of doing something for the sake of irony. Either way, I didn't find it all that enjoyable.
The real punch in the stomach is the production. They go for a really natural, almost analog sound here. I commend them for trying something a bit different production-wise, but it completely kills the heavy parts, which is the bread and butter of the modern day screamo band. It makes it very obvious that this band is only a three-piece, which is something I think you should try and hide on recording if you're in the business of playing any type of heavy music. It just seems like an idea that sounded good when they thought it up, but the final product suffers.
Like ribs from a Chinese food joint, if you do enough picking at the bone, you'll find some meat on here, but overall you'll feel ripped off for paying so much money for a few mouthfuls of delicious hot pork.



Circa Survive - On Letting Go (Equal Vision. 2007)

I reviewed Circa Survive's first record, but it's lost somewhere in internet limbo. I remember thinking the singer had an interesting voice, but I wasn't too into the music. This is basically more of the same.
While the musicianship is somewhat outstanding, there's nothing that really hooks me on this record. It's not very often you'll hear me asking for a standard verse/chorus/verse structure on this kind of music, but I think it's sorely needed here. Circa Survive play their version of indie rock shoegazer lullabye music. You can use positive buzzword terms to describe it like "lush tones" or "ethereal", but all it does is make me kind of sleepy. In a way, I respect them for bucking trends and staying away from any element of music that would throw them into the pop punk teeny bopper black hole, but instead, they are making Young Adult Contemporary music.Rock and Roll for kids who go to Choate.
Still, to completely contradict myself, if you were previously into this type of music, I'd recommend this CD. Like I said, the singers vocals are pretty amazing. He's like some peaceful effeminate alien with a voice as soothing as chamomile tea. I'm not going to front like I vividly remember their first CD, but at least this time around, the music gained my attention. I mean, they ARE really good musicians (it seems that way at least), they just happen to be playing a style of music I have no interest in.
There's very few parts on the disc that can be considered "uptempo". The last track, "Your Friends Are Gone" shows that they could pick it up if they want to and make a song you can at least nod your head a little to, but then the record is over. I guess all the kids who still write in paper diaries need music to sulk to, but I'm personally not having it.