Band – State Faults
Album – Desolate Peaks
Label – Tiny Engines
I imagine, anyone that writes reviews of music will have a different process by which they work by. Because this blog is quite specific to the type of music it covers, a lot of the music I get to review is something I’m very excited to listen to. Therefore, I like to give each new release about a week of listening and appreciation before I commit pen to paper, not that pens or paper are used in the creation of these blog posts but you get my drift. Sometimes though I need a little bit longer. In the case of State Faults debut record, ‘Desolate Peaks’, I received this just over a month ago and only now do I feel ready to write this.
State Faults hail from Santa Rosa, California, ‘Desolate Peaks’ is their debut full length album following on from their 2010 EP ‘Head in the clouds’ and is being released on the consistent and fantastic label, Tiny Engines. A fair amount of buzz for this band had been noticed by myself on various social media platforms, so it was with eager anticipation that I first played the record. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The record opens with ‘Sleepwalker’ and with it the sound of birdsong, quickly accompanied by a sweet guitar melody lulling you in to it’s warm sound. The, almost choir-like, backing vocals that follow build atmosphere with help from some huge sounding drums. Just when you start to wonder where State Faults are going with this, the piercing screamed vocals slice through like a bolt from the blue and with this you see a showcase of what State Faults will offer on the next 11 tracks. Juxtaposing often tender melody with the heaviness of the sound and extreme desperation of the main vocal. State Faults pack a lot of power into their music, raw energy and emotion which really engage the listener. You do, kind of, feel exhausted together with the band by the end of the 11 songs.
It’s hard to put a label on a band, especially when the use of a term like ‘screamo’ or ’emotional hardcore’ can be frowned upon and off putting to some. State Faults are certainly one of a few bands who are bringing a credibilty back to the term. Playing this type of music as it should be played, where the songs are equally compelling at their quietest as they are at their heaviest, like Funeral Diner did or Pianos Become The Teeth do. ‘Hallways’ is a good example of this, it’s full of hooks and melody backed up by their intense power. Other standout songs include the superb ‘Arrowhead’, ‘Wayfarer’ which starts off as a hardcore blast and finishes in a minimal post rock way and the last song ‘Skeletons’ which is a perfectly emotional end to what is a really great record.
It has taken me this long to write this review because, sometimes, when I review an album and move on to the next one to write about it can fell like i’m letting that album go. It may sound dumb, but I didn’t want to let ‘Desolate Peaks’ go and I still don’t. I’m sure this album will stay with me for a long time, It is definitely one of my favourite records of the year so far.
You can download/stream ‘Desolate Peaks’ at the Tiny Engines bandcamp page, click HERE to go there. I urge you to do so.
State Faults were also kind enough to answer some questions the Is This Thing On? had for them to give some background to the band and the record. Enjoy:
Is this thing on?: Desolate Peaks is coming out on tiny engines, how did working with those guys come about?
Band – The Saddest Landscape
Album – After the lights
Label – Topshelf records
Sometimes, listening to the the type of music I listen to can send me one of two ways. It’ll either make me launch myself around the room, throwing all sorts of crazy shapes whilst pointing my fingers in a insane manner. Or, it will leave me cuddled up on the floor questioning existence itself. Some would mock, some would query why, all would laugh. Predominantly, it will have the first effect. It’s the genius of this emotional brand of punk rock, a song that is lyrically desperate and musically traumatising can have an uplifting and positive affect on you.
It’s hard to say which way The Saddest Landscape will send me, it could go either way but will take a few listens to get there. They are back with their new 7-track album released on everyone’s favourite label, Topshelf records. Again, it’s a solid and well crafted record as you would expect from this band. But they make you work for it. By that I mean, like their other records, It’s not instantly easily accessible. Without taking anything away from the band, the music that The Saddest Landscape make is not as instantly likeable as bands such as Pianos Become The Teeth or Touché Amoré. With those bands you get swept away on the first listen and get immediate gratification. The Saddest Landscape don’t give it to you on a plate, they make you work for it. But work and you will be rewarded, greatly so.
The Saddest Landscape play modern emotional hardcore. Its a scene/genre that has been re-awakened and set alight in recent years. These are exciting times and The Saddest Landscape can rightly stake their place amongst the bands taking credit for this. ‘After the lights’ builds on the consistency of the last album ‘You will not survive’, it doesn’t take giant strides forwards in evolving their sound into something new, but then it doesn’t have to. It is nice to know what you’re going to get with some bands, not every record has to be a game changer.
‘After the lights’ is dark, emotionally open and unsettling. Musically, the use of dynamics is put to great use. The gentle opening soft guitar play on the first song ‘In love with the sound’ quickly blasts into a wall of sound and from there on the use of quiet/loud is used consistently well. Most notably on ‘When everything seemed to matter’, when a cello is weaved into the mix, softening the guitars and making it all the more intense when the full band kicks back in. The further in to the record as well the more melody plays a part, as if the band are starting to trust you and open up to you the more you stick with them.
It may have taken me 4 or 5 good listens to really be sold on ‘After the lights’ but I am so glad I kept with it. I am now desperate they see The Saddest Landscape play live as I think most of these songs will be taken to the next level in that environment, and I can have a fair guess as to which way I’d react. If you are a fan of intense angry and emotional punk rock full of driving riffs then this is definitely for you.
Click here to go to the Topshelf Records bandcamp page where you can stream/buy the record.
Cheers for reading xx
Below is the video for the opening track ‘In love with the sound’
This very night (tuesday the 21st of february) the Brit Awards 2012 will take place in London. Of all the award shows in what is now known as award season, this is the one that grates the most.
I have a strange attraction towards awards shows in general. They’re tedious, predictable and most of all downright bland yet I almost always insist we watch most of the ones that are televised, everything from the Golden Globes to the British Soap Awards (I really love Coronation Street, big whoop, wanna fight about it?). Maybe it’s because I want to sneer and spit venom at the people in attendance or maybe it’s because I dream that one day I will be one of the people in attendance. I trained for 3 years at Drama school to be an actor, which never really panned out but thats not to say it never will and if it ever does happen I want to be well prepared. So watching the Baftas or Oscars, and even the red carpet coverage that preceeds them, can be counted as some low level research into what may happen some day (yeah right!!). But I cannot stand the Brit awards.
Everything about the Brit awards is fucking horrible. There is a distinct lack of atmosphere, even though they pack out an arena and include what is supposedly the worlds hottest acts the whole evening limps along like I used to pre-surgery. Probably because the amount of people who attend and actually want to watch the show account for about a tenth of the audience. The rest is taken up by those who actually work in the industry and why would they care about what is happening or who is playing? That cuts into time they could better spend by being arseholes, which apparently is their favourite pastime.
Another of the biggest annoyances comes from the fact that you’re supposed to believe that the Brits are in some way dangerous and super controversial. Like something unbelievably rock’n’roll will happen and it’s a shock that this time bomb will be broadcast live to the nation on ITV. This is based on the fact that Jarvis Cocker once made pretend fart motions on stage during Michael Jackson’s ‘I’m Jesus’ routine, and someone from Chumbawamba threw a bucket of water over John Prescott. Woah now, these bad boys are out of control. Truth is, nothing even vaguely interesting happens and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Just look at the nominees as evidence of this. If they were a colour it would be something so bland that it makes beige look exciting. Why should such blandness be so celebrated? I don’t know which category to get more excited about first, Could Elbow possibly be considered better than Coldplay to take home best British group? Or will Ed Sheeran beat off stiff competition from James Morrisson to take home the gong for British Male Solo Artist in a category which should be re-titled ‘Biggest rape of an acoustic guitar’.
I could go on but I think it would be better if I could come up with a suggestion of how to make the awards infinitely better. Here is one possible solution: Make it my sole responsibilty to choose the winner of British Album of the Year. This, after all, is the ‘Big One’. The one they save for last and the whole awards show builds up to. By letting me choose then would at least make me want to watch the damn thing, so thats it decided and I have made my decision.
The winner of British album of the year goes to…………. BASTIONS for ‘Hospital corners’
After focussing on BASTIONS and their entourage jumping up in celebration, the camera would then pan over to BASEMENT who look a bit disappointed having been pipped to the award. The camera would then sweep back over the still warm corpses of Adele, Florence and all her machines and Coldplay who had mentioned tasting something funny in their champagne but had thought nothing better of it, and back to BASTIONS who are now thanking their p.a’s, stylists and fluffers. Or maybe not!!
BASTIONS would have to win though. Although I only got the album in the last few weeks, which explains why they weren’t included in my top 10 albums of 2011, the record has immediately become a firm favourite. I saw them play in Margate late last year and they were everything I want from a hardcore band. They were loud and powerful yet self effacing and awkward. No macho posturing or arrogance to put your neck out of joint, just good, honest hardcore with hooks a plenty. The album carries this forward. Interesting and exciting, with a pure vocal delivery, Jamie Burne’s amazing voice is backed up by a band who want to push things forward. Nothing is overdone, the guitar sound is big but at the same time raw and loose. Never reliant on reverting to customary tricks each song takes surprise twists here and there to make the album essential listening. Music not just to get up and jump around like a maniac to but also to sit, listen and appreciate the work and skill on display.
The abum is full of stand out tracks, like the epic closer ‘Dark Father’ and the immense ‘Warmth of the world’. Below is the video for track 2 on the record, ‘Visitant’. Maybe spend two hour watching this over and over tonight instead of the Brits, or the Shits as they should be called (yeah, good one!!). Or just spend the evening stuffing your face with pancakes, either way thanks for reading.
Cheers Guys xx
Trash Talk are a hardcore band from Sacremento, California and it goes without saying that Trash Talk have a reputation. The NME have labelled them ‘The worlds most dangerous band’, their crazy antics mean they have been barred from playing venues all over the world and those that do host them have been known to put up ‘You break it, you pay for it’ signs all round the place. But now you can add ‘makers of unbelievably brilliant music videos’ to that reputation too.
Seeing them play live is definitely exciting. Not knowing whats going to happen, not knowing what the band will do or how bat shit the crowd are going to go adds a real atmosphere to whatever venue they’re playing in. When we saw them play in Folkestone at the Quarterhouse a couple of years ago they looked fucked. Someone said they had just got off a flight from Japan but that didn’t affect how awesome they were that night. Nothing really ‘dangerous’ happened although that didn’t stop vocalist Lee Spielman finishing the show with blood pouring down his face. The highlight for me was when guitar player Garrett Stevenson jumped down to where my friend Paul was in the front row, looked him in the eye and without saying a word took the can of lager that Paul was holding and proceeded to take a massive swig and then hand the can back all the while without loosing eye contact. Paul stood there in wonder, totally bemused as to what had just happened.
Towards the end of last year, Trash Talk released their best effort to date. ‘Awake’ is a 5 track ep packed with power, violence, power violence and more power. It sounds huge and some of the songs venture into 2 minutes which is epic territory for the band.
The second track from the ep ‘Slander’ has been made into a music video to celebrate the launch of their own signature deck from Creature Skateboards, and was animated and directed by Jim Dirschberger. It tells the story of how a Trash Talk show would be if you were to take some seriously toxic mushrooms before going in.
In short the video is brilliant. In time, i’m sure, it will become the ‘Sledgehammer’ for the hardcore scene. Watch it!!!!!
Band – Pianos become the teeth
Album – The lack long after
Label – Topshelf Records
If you have read my recent post about how much I love Pianos Become The Teeth then you probably already know how excited I am to finally have the new record. Sometimes it’s a bad idea to let yourself get carried away with anticipation and expectation, but not when it’s Pianos become the teeth. You know they won’t let you down. And they certainly haven’t.
‘The lack long after’ is one of the most powerful records I have ever heard. Emotionally, lyrically and musically. It manages to tear you apart as well as blow you away. The album is predominantly about the pain that vocalist Kyle Durfey has gone through/is going through since the death of his father. He is so open and honest about what has happened, the pain is on clear display throughout the lyrics but you can also hear it in his voice, he screams like a wounded animal with his voice cracking at times through the sheer passion that he’s emitting. There are heartbreaking moments where Kyle is trying to accept something that he doesn’t want to, when he sings “And i guess thats life” on ‘Good times’ or “I guess thats fine” on ‘I’ll get by’ you hear the voice of a broken man trying to put on a brave face for the sake of others. I first listened to album all the way through on my own in a dark room with headphones on and by the end I was in bits. Like their last record ‘Old Pride’, ‘The lack long after’ is just 8 tracks long but it’s completely justified, if it was any longer it would have to come with a health warning. The band have poured their heart and soul into this and have created something both stunning and brilliant.
Pianos become the teeth have made a more focussed album this time, ‘Old Pride’ had a chaotic beauty about it but here they have more of a structure to the songs. They have learned to refine the songs as to convey exactly what they want to. The music is still incredibly loud, heavy and brutal but also quiet, beautiful and passionate. The first song, ‘I’ll be damned’ is far catchier than other songs they’ve written in the past. And the subtle, post rock edge that ‘Old Pride’ had is explored in more depth on this record, ‘Liquid Courage’ for example, builds slowly and atmospherically whilst still never loosing any of the passion and power that the rest of the album has. I’ve always thought PBTT have a filmic quality to their sound and they still do, the songs can create movies in your mind the same way music by a band like Sigur Ros can.
‘The Lack Long After’ is certainly one of the best albums of this year. It’s a defining moment in a genre that is having somewhat of a renaissance at the moment. An album that will definately still be being talked about in 10 or 20 years time. I really cannot recommend it highly enough. Pianos become the teeth are probably the best band on the planet right now, and they have made a record which definately backs that up. Mind blowing, exhausting and downright brilliant.
You can currently download the album from itunes in the UK or order it straight from their brilliant label, Topshelf Records.
20th september 2011.
Autumn is here! Thank goodness. Being an emo boy I usually look forward to autumn each year, autumn being the most emo of all the seasons, but this year I have been anticipating it more than usual. Summer has been awful. I have been suffering with back problems since last november and in June it went completely, a massive prolapse. And with that came hospital visits, mri scans, spinal surgery, no work and a lot of sitting at home feeling sorry for myself (and for my wife, who’s had to pretty much do everything). Some summer that turned out to be. But enough with the moping, it’s getting me nowhere, and right now seems to be a super exciting time for music. So, basically, this is what i’m gonna write about. And i may as well start now.
Well, to start with a short note of what’s getting me excited music wise at the moment. It seems like all the bands that i’ve recently fallen in love with have new music on the horizon. Transit, Pianos become the teeth and Four Year Strong all have albums on the way. As do I am the avalanche and there is a new Polar bear club longplayer i’ve yet to get my hands on. New albums also from some of pop punks biggest hitters Blink 182 and New Found Glory if that floats your boat. It’s 20 years since Nirvana changed my life forever and turned me in to the grunger that i’ve never really recovered from, you can’t help but have noticed that Nevermind is being re-released in various guises. Pearl Jam are also celebrating the 20 year mark with the release of a new documentary PJ20, and perhaps most exciting is the film that really captured the early 90’s at its most exciting and hillarious is finally being released on DVD. 1991,the year punk broke follows sonic youth on a 2 week summer european tour of festivals and club shows, Thurston Moore is often ‘wet your pants’ funny and you also have amazing footage of Nirvana a few weeks before the release of Nevermind which is just priceless. Also includes live performances from Dinosaur JR and Babes In Toyland, sweet.
So, over the next few weeks, i’m stuck inside. No going to local shows for me, so i will be missing any bands playing Margate, Folkestone or Canterbury. Hopefully not gonna miss out too much. So i will just report on any new music i listen to, but will look to recover soon so i can report from whats happening in the local scene as well.
Thanks for reading, Alex
Below is whats currently rocking on the stereo! x