Tag Archives: is this thing on?

REVIEW: CRASH OF RHINOS – KNOTS

Band – Crash Of Rhinos

Album – Knots

Label – Big Scary Monsters/Topshelf Records/To Lose La Track

The last review I wrote, which was for the new Jimmy Eat World record, was written whilst trying to cope with the sleepless nights our new baby daughter was putting us through. She’s 9 weeks old now and either she’s getting better at sleeping or we’re just getting used to the lack of rest, either way I think I can write this review with more of a clear mind. There have been several things I’ve wanted to write about recently, new bands/albums/gigs etc… And I will get to all of these eventually but this just had to come first, let me tell you for why.

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Crash Of Rhinos are a band who like to make you wait, its been an age since they released their brilliant debut ‘Distal’ and their live shows are few and far between. But like your Nan would always says, ‘good things come to those who wait’. In this instance that phrase could be substituted with ‘Amazingly fucking great things come to those who’ve been desperately waiting for the new Crash of Rhinos record!!!’.

How often is it that you build up anticipation for a new record by some band and it meets all expectations? Well, ‘Knots’ is one of those rare records that not only meet those expectations but also blow those expectations apart. This is a monster of a record, I knew from the first listen that I would have trouble putting in to words that effect that the record is having on me. And just to say that its incredible will do it an injustice. I said before when reviewing Crash Of Rhinos that they are the best emo band from the UK since Spy vs Spy, but on the basis of ‘Knots’ you could argue that Crash Of Rhinos are one of the best emo bands ever, regardless of geography. I know you can get carried away when you first fall in love with a record, that love can fade and you’ll look back in a few years and have a totally different opinion on it. But I wanna tell you about this record now, I don’t wanna give it time, and at the moment I’m getting the same feeling listening to it that I did when I first heard ‘Mare Vitalis’ by Appleseed Cast.

You can easily draw comparisons with Appleseed Cast, a band who to me are one of the best emo bands ever. Both Crash Of Rhinos and Appleseed Cast write beautifully crafted songs, full of intricate details and emotion that can last over 6 minutes whilst never out staying their welcome. Crash Of Rhinos are more than just a lazy comparison with another band though and comparing them to Appleseed Cast won’t really help me to convey to you what to expect with this record.

‘Knots’ is a complete album, that is to say that it requires and demands your attention from beginning to end. It’s not an album with just a couple of great songs and then twenty minutes of filler. It’s also complete in the way that Crash Of Rhinos have really come in to their own with this record. There are less obvious influences on show here and fewer styles being played with, ‘Knots’ is Crash Of Rhinos being themselves and standing head and shoulders above the crowd because of this.

The opening song ‘Luck Has A Name’ sets the standard amazingly high but they never stray to far from this, the quality runs through the whole of the record. And that’s quality of songs and quality in the musicianship on display too. Crash Of Rhinos are a band full of accomplished musicians, they all compliment each other so well, knowing what is needed for the song at any one particular moment. The guitar work is intricate and interesting, the rhythm section is genuinely solid and the many vocals are always heartfelt. Combine this with the song writing and the absorbing production and you have one hell of a record. I really can’t say enough good things about ‘Knots’, I’d usually pick out my favourite songs and talk about them but that is very hard to do when they are all standout songs. I knew how much of a banger ‘Opener’ was as it was the first song to be streamed from the album, ‘Sum of all parts’ should be applauded simply for the reason of how much it rocks and ‘Lean out’ is a song that leaves me absolutely spellbound, its jaw-droppingly good! I could have mentioned any of the songs though, there isn’t one that doesn’t fit in or lets the album down and although this is quite a long album, listening to it from beginning to end is the only option you have.

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I was driving along listening to ‘Knots’ and for some reason the idea that this album is the emo ‘OK Computer’ came in to my head. ‘Knots’ sounds nothing like ‘OK Computer’ but I think it is a game changer. The same way that Radiohead went from being a good band to a legendary band with that one record, I see Crash Of Rhinos doing no less. Hopefully they won’t now go on to make weirdy dance shit records (best Radiohead description, ever) instead just concentrating on making some of the best music I’ve heard in the last 10 years like they do here on ‘Knots’. That’s right, I said its some of the best music I’ve heard in the last 10 years, trust me it really is that good.

Crash of Rhinos will be supporting Braid on their UK tour, I’ll be seeing them play London on my birthday and literally cannot wait, don’t you miss out!!!

http://www.crashofrhinos.co.uk

Thanks for reading!! Stay in touch here, or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on Twitter @alex_itto

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REVIEW: JIMMY EAT WORLD – DAMAGE

Band – Jimmy Eat World

Album – Damage

Label – RCA

I’m back, wooooopp. I can see you’re elated about this news. If you don’t read my blog regularly then I should probably fill you in with the news that my wife and I had our fourth baby 6 weeks ago. Since then I’ve taken a bit of paternity leave from this blog, we’re slowly getting the hang of life as a family of 6 so I thought I’d grab a moment here and there and catch up on the things I’ve been meaning to write about for some time. What better way to start then by writing about a band who you could also describe as ‘back’.

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Jimmy Eat World have returned with a new studio album, ‘Damage’, the first since 2010 when they released the disappointing ‘Invented’. If you know me or follow me on twitter etc… You’ll know what a fan of Jimmy Eat World I am. I’ve seen them live countless times, my wife walked down the aisle at our wedding to ‘For me this is heaven’ and my double blue vinyl copy of ‘Clarity’ is the most treasured of all my records. Jimmy Eat World have been one of the most consistently reliable bands to come out of emo, where other bands were too hasty to dismiss that label and made bad records as a result of that Jimmy Eat World kept their head down and released album after album packed with songs of the highest quality. I’d been a fan of the band for over 10 years before they had released something I wasn’t really on board with, that’s an incredibly high hit rate. Something about ‘Invented’ didn’t connect with me even though I think there are good songs on there, it’s a record that I didn’t get on with at first and haven’t revisited much since. Of course this made me a little apprehensive about ‘Damage’. You can never take away the influence that Jimmy Eat World have had and the quality of their back catalogue but with their being so many amazing bands around now all demanding my attention I did wonder how a new Jimmy Eat World album would fit in. Turns out it is just what I needed.

I definitely believe that what’s happening in your life and how your mood is when you first start listening to a new record has an enormous influence over how you will perceive and like that record. There are, I’m sure, perfectly good records by bands that I’ve dismissed due to the fact I wasn’t in the mood. ‘Damage’ definitely came at the right place and the right time. It was never going to hit me like ‘Clarity’ did the first time I heard that, very few albums do, but there was something very comforting about hearing ‘Damage’ for the first time. Our daughter must’ve been just a couple of weeks old and we were starved of sleep when ‘Damage’ first went on my car stereo. People joke to you when you have a baby about the sleepless nights but it isn’t a joke, there’s nothing funny about it. Even though we’ve been through this before with the other kids its still no preparation for just how tired you’re gonna feel. I got in my car to drive to work and put ‘Damage’ on the CD player, it was after a particularly difficult night and I may have been in a pretty vulnerable state but it felt an old friend was giving me a well needed hug. I felt immediately cradled in their arms as they did what Jimmy Eat World always do. It felt like a crazy time, everything was a bit up in the air, our family routine was gone and needed replacing but there were Jimmy Eat World making great quality rock songs, just like you expect them to do. They became my constant, a signal that one day all was going to be ok again. They were standing in front of me with their hands on my shoulders giving me a comforting smile and a knowing look. I felt reassured and connected to the album immediately.

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Sometimes I dismiss a band or an album and I know I’m doing it because of the wrong reasons. I’ll raise the bar of expectancy too high or I’ll think about what it says about me to like something, or even have a preconceived notion of what cool is and if something didn’t fit the mould I’d toss it aside. With ‘Damage’ I’ve been able to listen to it with a clear mind, a clarity if you will. I didn’t put it on with a judgement already made up in my mind about it and because of that I’ve been able to enjoy the record a lot more than I normally would. Jimmy Eat World don’t sound like they did on ‘Static Prevails’ anymore, they’ll never make ‘Clarity’ again, I doubt they’ll ever make a record again that has an impact on me like ‘Futures’ did when I first heard it but that’s no reason to not love what they do now. They still write great songs, with great hooks and memorable melodies that will brighten up the most miserable of days.

There is so much to enjoy on this new record. The first song released, ‘I will steal you back’ is an obvious highlight but this is equalled in merit with the opening track ‘Appreciation’. ‘No, Never’ could be best described as the new ‘Authority Song’, a song so catchy I’ve caught my kids singing it still hours after hearing it in the car. There are other moments that also remind me of older songs, ‘ByeByelove’ feels similar in style to ‘The most beautiful things’ and ‘Lean’ and ‘How’d You Have Me’ could have featured anywhere on ‘Chase This light’ and ‘Bleed American’ respectively.

It’s a bit annoying to describe an album as a return to form, so I won’t, but ‘Damage’ can more be seen as a great reminder just why and how much you love Jimmy Eat World. Long may they continue to carry making music and making us all fall in love all over again.

Thanks so much for reading. Come say hi on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on Twitter @alex_itto

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REVIEW: REIZIGER – KODIAK STATION

Band – Reiziger

Album – Kodiak Station

Label – Birch & Broom

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A wise man who makes a podcast about emo recently stated that ‘No band ever splits up’ but bands reuniting and reforming has been quite divisive amongst fans. Some view it cynically as a money grabbing nostalgia trip whilst others are happy to relive their past with them or hadn’t seen them first time round so are overjoyed to get the chance to see them play. For me it really depends on who the band is, when I heard that Reiziger were back playing again and working on a new record I felt a surge of genuine excitement.

In my opinion Reiziger are one of the defining bands of the late 90’s/early 00’s, if I catch a glimpse of any of their album covers I’m instantly transported back to hanging out in a friend’s bedroom as a teenager in the 90’s discovering new music, reading fanzines and shouting ‘I MISS MY RECORDS!’, (little Reiziger joke there for you). I never got to see them play live and may not get to this time around but they have done the right thing and made a new record so I get to be a part of it again by sitting in my house with Reiziger on my headphones once more.

‘Kodiak Station’ is either an album, a mini album or a long EP, to be honest I’m not quite sure what category it falls under. Basically it has 7 tracks but one of those is a spoken introduction, so really it is 6 songs although it does have the feel of a proper full length record. It’s been at least a decade since the last Reiziger record so things are bound to change and one of the things that strikes you at the start of the first song ‘Yuma’ is the production of the record sounds a lot different. There is more of a polish to the sound whilst at the same time retaining the old Reiziger charm. It’s hard to define, maybe you could say that this is more of a grown up record with a mature sound but it is still Reiziger, they still sound like a 90’s band but one with todays production values. It’s not quite what I was expecting but don’t get me wrong, this is a brilliant record.

‘Yuma’ kicks the music off with distorted, discordant guitars at a slow, slacker indie pace with sweet vocals languidly drifting over the music. When the bass kicks in as the song veers in to the second section, I won’t say chorus but I suppose that’s what it is, you are on board and interested. The second track ‘Grizzly People’ then turns this on its head and takes you in a different direction altogether. I didn’t think I would ever write this but it really reminds me of fellow Belgian heroes Deus, I hope that is taken as the compliment that it is. It’s a big, catchy indie pop song which sounds more 90’s than anything else on the album, it has a feel good vibe but the lyrics counteract that by protesting the fact that it’s ‘All about the contacts’. ‘Transgressions’ then kind of continues in this vein although there is a looser feel to the song, it brings to mind the amazing Smart Went Crazy which is definitely a massive compliment. Reiziger return to more familiar ground with the second half of the record, things are a bit bleaker and less poppy. There is no drop in quality however, in fact I’d say my two favourite songs are kept for last both ‘Bended Trees’ and ‘Shy Reptile’ are beautiful songs that build up, each in their own way, to steal the record.

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At the end you’re left wanting more certainly but at the same time content with what you’re left with, this is a record that gets better and better on each listen. It’s also a record I can whole heartedly recommend to old Reiziger fans and those that never had the pleasure the first time round. Hopefully they will make the short trip over to the UK at some point so I can say thanks in person. Thanks for coming back Reiziger and thanks for making it so good.

You can download ‘Kodiak Station’ as well as their entire back catalogue from Reiziger’s Bandcamp page HERE

You can buy the CD in the UK from these two sites:
http://www.allagesrecords.com
http://www.wearereiziger.com

Thanks for reading, come say hi on Facebook; www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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INTERVIEW WITH FOOTBALL, ETC.

Just over a year ago a countdown on this very blog declared ‘Safety’ by Football, etc. to be the 79th best emo song of all, this is something that I now regret… Because it should be much higher!!! Football, etc. are one of my favourite bands from the last few years, these indiemo heroes have a new album recorded and a UK tour booked so I  thought this would be a great time to catch up with Lindsay, Mercy and Ed and fire some questions in their general direction.

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Is This Thing On? – Hey!! You’ve just recorded a brand new full length, how did it go? What stage of the process are you at now?

Lindsay – We recorded it 2 weeks ago, we tracked everything in 4 and a half days and it went really well, we had a great time. Currently it’s being mixed, we’re reviewing some mixes right now and it should be mastered and sent off probably in the next month or so.

ITTO? – So, you recorded it with Ed Rose who has recorded some legendary emo bands, how did that come about? Did you seek him out? And did he have much influence on how the record sounds?

Lindsay – Some time last year our friend, his name is Andrew Mcshan and he plays in an acoustic act called Emo Side Project, he tracked a song at his studio. He lives in Kansas, quite near it and so he posted about it. I looked up Ed Rose, I actually didn’t know who he was immediately, saw what he had done, was blown away then went to his blog page and saw that 2013 is the last year that he’ll be doing records so when it came around time for us to find a studio, when we were ready to record he immediately came to mind. We contacted him, he had the time available and we went for it.

ITTO? – Is there a reason he’s stopping recording bands?

Mercy – He seemed to be just looking for a more 9 to 5 type of a job; he really wants to sell the studio that he’s at currently. I think that he just wants to move on to a job that’s a little bit more stable, I suppose, then trying to record bands all the time.

ITTO? – Empire! Empire! Are recording now with him

Mercy – Yeah in a couple of weeks

Ed – Recording with Ed Rose was my first time in an actual, professional recording studio, so I was undoubtedly nervous. He was so easy to work with and everything went so smoothly, and that made the process enjoyable for all of us. At least personally, I never felt stressed or pushing too hard to get a certain sound or certain parts absolutely perfect, so that definitely left so much room to actually enjoy the recording. The enjoyment of making a record and just having fun with all aspects of the process is probably his biggest influence.

ITTO? – Cool. Did he have any stories about when he recorded bands like Appleseed Cast/The get up kids that were pretty funny?

Lindsay – I asked him about Appleseed Cast a little bit because, you know, one day we were in the mixing room I just for some reason said “Appleseed Cast Low Level Owl Volume 1 & 2, that’s like my favourite record ever!” and he kind of chuckled. I asked, you know, how did that go? What was the deal? The only thing I remember is that he said it was recorded in 18 days which I thought was pretty cool, it was a long album

ITTO? – What both volumes recorded in 18 days?

Lindsay – Yeah

ITTO? – Wow

Lindsay – Yeah, so, that was neat. And he had good things to say about projects that he’s done and he seemed to have fun.

Mercy – Yeah, but he had some crazy stories too one was of this band that I don’t remember the name of. But it was one of those bands that were on a more major label that was kind of put together, sort of not organically. None of them really knew how to play their instruments or anything but they go in and they sign up to record with him and it’s just a total mess, the label ends up dropping the project and in exchange the band they were so angry that they stole the whole of his dvd collection that was at the studio.

ITTO? – (laughing) you didn’t do that?

Mercy – No, there was nothing left!

ITTO? – It’s been nearly 3 years since you recorded your last full length. Did you approach this record differently? Do you write songs differently now?

Lindsay – Well as far as the studio goes we wanted it to be similar as in tracking everything live other than doing vocals and a couple of extra little guitar and bass things here and there, so that process was similar. And working with Ed Rose was great. As far as writing I guess the biggest difference now is that we have a new drummer. I guess the approach hasn’t necessarily changed.

Mercy – Yeah maybe not the approach to writing songs but I think that we’ve been writing songs a lot more quickly since we started up with Ed.

ITTO? – Do you write songs as a band? Do you come to practice with an idea for a song and then flesh it out or are they pretty much written by one person and everyone just adds their own parts?

Lindsay – All of the above, some of them start with something I have written, some of them start with something Mercy has and then there’s the songs that just happen on the spot.

ITTO? – And what bands have you been listening to a lot lately and did they have any influence on how the record sounds?

(Lindsay & Mercy both laugh)

Mercy – I think we’re both laughing here because we continue to just listen to like all of our same favourites, you know, from like the past 10 years or whatever. I think I’m still spending a lot of time listening to Fugazi and stuff like that, I don’t know.

Lindsay – (laughs) I got a new car so I’ve been listening to satellite radio so I will say my favourite station is ‘90s on 9’ hits from the 90s, gosh, especially in the past couple of months writing the record, finishing that I kind of go on like a music hibernation sometimes. So I haven’t been listening to much, I know that’s a terribly boring answer.

ITTO? – No, that’s cool. How long have you had the songs for this record? Have they been written over the last few years since the first record or have they been written pretty much in the months leading up to recording?

Lindsay – All in the last year, one of them we wrote sort of in the in-between time before we found Ed and the rest of them we wrote, a couple of them we had before, but most of them we wrote with him and we even finished one at the studio so they’re all in various levels of completion leading up to recording. But, for example, there are 2 songs we wrote like a week or 2 before we went into the studio and one that Mercy and Ed wrote 2 days before we went into the studio and I wrote my part there.

ITTO? – Do you write the lyrics in advance, do you have an idea of what you’re going to sing about or are they more last minute?

Lindsay – I have a couple of journals that have stuff on the ready and once we have a song written I’ll kind of flip through and say hey, this might fit and kinda tweak it from there. Most of it I have written already.

ITTO? – Will it be coming out on both Count Your Lucky Stars and Strictly No Capital Letters again?

Lindsay – Yes.

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ITTO? – Ed is the newest member of the band, how did him joining come about? Had you know him long? Has he had any influence on the sound of the band or what direction you’re going in?

Mercy – We came in to contact with him, just like our last 2 drummers by putting up an ad on Craigslist and I think that is again a testament to like where Houston is like maybe not so heavily concentrated with people who like this type of music where we’re unable to find a drummer. I think he has changed the dynamic, he comes from more of a punk rock background than the last 2 drummers and he also likes all this kind of emo revival stuff. So I think overall he puts a lot more energy in to a lot of the songs.

Lindsay – And writing with him has been a lot of fun. It’s interesting, when we found him on Craigslist he had seen us before. We had never met him per se but he had seen us and liked our band, I thought that was really cool and we ended up having some mutual friends in Houston. He lives about an hour away right now, but it’s neat how we had kind of crossed paths.

ITTO? – You guys played the Topshelf/CYLS records showcase at SXSW, how was that? It looked like a pretty awesome line up?

Mercy – That was a fun time, it was really great to be able to see a lot of the, you know, a lot of the bands on CYLS really are our friends and we see them every time we go on tour and we see them we then come through so it was a great chance for all of us to be in one spot, we had a really good time.

ITTO? – Rumour has it that Chris Simpson of Mineral was there, did you see him at all?

Lindsay – Yeah, he was there. He did a surprise acoustic set, we played with him last year, he played with Zookeeper. And actually our band Tin Kitchen, our band before this, booked a show for Zookeeper in New Brunswick in like 2006 maybe or 2007. So we’ve crossed paths with him a few times which is pretty cool.

ITTO? – Awesome. You are coming back to the UK this summer to tour again and that will be your 3rd time in 2 years, what is it you like about the UK and what keeps bringing you back to come and play for us?

Lindsay – I don’t know, I really like it over there. The shows, I don’t wanna say they’re more fun, but in a way it’s like, I don’t know, people seem really in to us and in to the shows that we play and it’s a different vibe. And after the first time, of course being in a new place and being just in awe of everything, everything’s a little more fun and a little more interesting and making those friendships and wanting to do it all again, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to just do it.

Mercy – I would just add that a lot of the bands over there are bands that I really like and so that’s really fun and exciting to play. You know, it’s different from the US because we’re covering a smaller territory, you can have dates with a band like Human Hands like a couple of days in a row even though you’re not officially touring together and that’s fun too.

ITTO? – Like you say it’s a smaller territory but do you still find a difference between playing a show down south as opposed to playing in Scotland or the Midlands etc..?

Lindsay – That I did not really think about although I will say different places have their different personalities.

Mercy – Yeah, for sure.

Lindsay – Brighton was fun, like really energetic fun. Swansea…

Mercy – Is amazing!

Lindsay – Surprisingly amazing. It really seems that they have a really cool thing developing right now and there’s this venue that looks like it used to be a restaurant and we’ve played there twice and we’re playing there again. It’s just a really cool spot; I’m excited about what’s going on there

ITTO? – Excellent. When you play ‘Safety’ and everyone sings along with the guitar melody at the beginning, is that something that only happens here or does that happen every time you play?

Mercy – I don’t think that’s ever happened when we play in the US.

Lindsay – Maybe after people saw the videos from ‘About Time’. That was a UK thing, it started in Manchester.

Mercy – Yeah, we were totally caught off guard by it but it definitely caught on.

ITTO? – The so called ‘emo’ scene is really vibrant and exciting at the moment, is that true of where you are in Texas or do you have to tour to feel a part of it.

Lindsay – I think right now there are some bands in Houston that are…

Mercy – Going for that sound or whatever…

Lindsay – yeah, that are in a nutshell a part of it but not necessarily leaving town and connecting but they’re definitely a product of it, newer bands. But it takes travelling to somewhere like Chicago or a lot of different places where like you’re ‘in’ it.  I wouldn’t say in Houston it’s a cohesive scene but its happening.

Mercy – I think it’s in the early stages right now, whereas like in other places like where we moved from, New Brunswick in New Jersey, it was already going by 2007/2008. I think here it’s just sort of beginning to develop and I’m not really sure exactly why that is but…

ITTO? – Yeah, where I live, in Margate, we had a massive scene at the end of the 90’s that my band was a part of but we don’t seem to have that now but there’s so much in other areas of the UK. It’s weird that in some places it’s really caught on and come back but now I feel I have to go online/write my blog to feel a part of it, rather than just having it locally like we used to.

Lindsay – I really think it pops up in bubbles, I mean if you think of it that somebody starts a band, they play with their friends bands and then it creates this thing. I feel like these bubbles pop up and they move and then they settle down again, you know, there are towns like you said in Margate that used to have something but just right now nothing is really happening. Yeah, I definitely think in the US it’s like that.

ITTO? – Yeah. And with ‘emo’, historically bands hate being labelled as ‘emo’ bands but that doesn’t seem to be such a problem anymore, bands seem to accept it. Do you have any objections to being called an emo band? Or does it not bother you at all?

Lindsay – It doesn’t bother me, I still feel like we are slightly, I don’t know, different.

Mercy – Yeah, I see what you mean. So, like, I don’t mind our band being called that but sometimes I don’t want anybody to be misled in to thinking it’s going to sound more like something else or whatever and I’m not talking about the Hot Topic thing, I’m talking about feeling like we’re exactly like the poster child of this whole emo revival thing. I mean, we don’t always adhere to the model.

Lindsay – And certainly if some layperson asks me what kind of music my band plays I would not say emo first because then I’d have to like give some sort of history behind that, I usually just say ‘Indie rock’. But I also feel like we’re a punk rock band at the core through just the way we do things.

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ITTO? – And finally. If you could’ve been in any band from the 90’s who would it be and why?

Lindsay – Well I would say Rainer Maria is the obvious answer as it’s my favourite band. I think through playing music I’ve really come to appreciate how much they do as a 3 piece band. It’s just cool to think about the things that they do and how that might influence me or inspire me. Also another would be Sonic Youth because it’d be really fun to, first of all, play loud in humongous places but also to do all that crazy shit with the guitars all day would be…

Mercy – Really fun!

Ed – My love for Metallica makes me want to say them, but I think I’d love to have been in No Use for A Name. I remember listening to them in ’97 in junior high and, although not really realizing what “punk rock” was, completely loving them. Melodic punk rock has always been one of my favourites. It broke my heart to hear of Tony Sly’s death this past year – we were actually on tour when it happened, and I made it a point to dedicate our set to him that night

ITTO – Football, etc. Thank you so much!!

Links:

http://footballetc.bandcamp.com/

http://footballetc.wordpress.com/

Thanks so much for reading. Get in touch here, on twitter @alex_itto or Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog/

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Review: Brave Bird – Maybe You, No One Else Worth It

Band – Brave Bird

Album – Maybe you, no one else worth it

Label – Count Your Lucky Stars

Don’t you hate it when lazy blog writers write about records in January/February and proclaim them to already be the ‘album of the year’? Usually results in the same person saying this about a number of records only to go on and exclude from their end of year list. It’s annoying and, like I said, lazy. So, anyway, this brings me on to the new album by Brave Bird which could well end up being the best album you’ll hear all year, Hey!! I never said I wasn’t a lazy blog writer.

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Around Christmas time last year a lot of buzz started gathering for this record after a site had been streaming a preview of the record. My small group of Twitter friends were saying some amazing things about and they have taste you can trust (most of the time). I decided to wait until I was able to get a copy of the album myself to properly give this the time it deserves, by the time I did I was desperate to hear it. And I’m glad I did wait because one of the great things about this record is that it is still getting better with each listen. I’m not saying that I didn’t like it to begin with, i really did. But it was one the 4th or 5th listen that i really fell in love with this album. I was driving alone in my car with the album on and track 4, ‘Tired Enough’, came on and something just clicked, I put the song on straight again after it finished and that was me sold.

Like other albums of this genre from the last couple of years there is definitely a classic emo feel of the late 90’s/early 00’s to ‘Maybe you, no one else worth it’. But this is mixed in with a ton of youthful energy and invention and there are more hooks to be found than horsemeat in your ready meals. If you can imagine Jimmy Eat World putting out an album of Glocca Morra covers, or maybe vice-versa then you come close to knowing what to expect from this record. This is also a longer record than a lot of others released recently with most songs pushing the 4 minute mark, they never out stay their welcome though. The songs have plenty of breathing space, they’re perfectly paced and filled with gorgeous melodies and really interesting guitar work.

As for standout songs on ‘Maybe you, no one else worth it’, Brave Bird spoil you for choice. As already mentioned, ‘Tired Enough’ just about steals it but has strong competition from the lovely ‘Thick Skin (should I give in)’ and the near perfect ‘The worst things happen to me’. The latter being so catchy at the end that when I’ve had the album on in the car taking my kids places, I hear them singing it still later throughout the day. I’m sure Brave Bird will take it as a massive compliment that they are up there with ‘Gangnam Style’ for songs that get stuck in my kids heads.

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Needless to say ‘Maybe you, no one else worth it’ is an incredible record. If bands keep putting out albums like this than this wave of emo will no longer be thought of as a revival and instead as the definitive emo time with everything that came before in the 90’s just serving as a prequel to now. Brave Bird need to come to the UK so we can stand in a basement somewhere singing their songs back at them with our fingers pointing in the air, and they need to come soon!!!

Thanks for reading xx

Click HERE for the Count Your Lucky Stars store

Or click on these for Brave Bird’s Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter/Bandcamp

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Newsletter #1

This is the first Is this thing on? newsletter, I will be posting these every so often to roundup what I’ve been meaning to post about and haven’t got round to yet. I always have far too many ideas of what I want to write about but never seem to have enough time to make these a reality so I thought a Newsletter every so often would be a nice way of keeping up. Each one will have a bit of a theme to it and this one is no exception. The theme this time is: Bands who have sent me music. I know it’s not the catchiest title but, hey, what you gonna do??

Every so often people will get in touch with this blog via facebook/twitter/email etc with music they’d like me to listen to. Sometimes said music will be described as ‘Christian Technical Metal’ which as an atheist emo blog writer I tend to ignore. But sometimes I’ll get sent something by a band that is really good, too good to ignore so I thought I better get on and share some of these with you.

1. Bag of Bones – Deep Thought

bag of bones

John Molfetas is a musician from Long Island/Purchase, NY, who performs under the name Bag Of Bones. He got in touch with at the end of last year, as is always the case it took me a little while to getting round to listening to this record but as soon as I did I knew I had to share it with you. Deep Thought is 10 songs of really thoughtful, slow-paced and atmospheric emo. There are shades of Appleseed Cast here, mixed in with bits of Joan Of Arc and plenty else in between. Using samples and an array of varying musical instruments, Deep Thought feels like a really collaborative album with John Molfetas being the creative through line. It is a beautiful collection of songs which you can currently download free from his bandcamp page.

http://bagofbones.bandcamp.com/

2. Squeamish – Hammerhead

squeamish

Squeamish are a band it’s very easy to like for two main reasons; Firstly they play big, twiddly, poppy emo with a huge Braid-like sound and secondly they’re from Ohio, which is just shorthand for saying their awesome. It seems every band I’ve been falling in love with recently have been from Ohio. ‘Hammerhead’ is a five song EP and it’s available as a free download from their bandcamp page, it’s upbeat, infectious and brilliant. The kind of thing you’d wanna throw on at a party if you wanted everyone to get a bit crazy. YES!

http://squeamish.bandcamp.com/

3. Month – Bath Salts

month

Month come from Cleveland, which obviously makes them another great Ohio band. If this carries on the Rock’n’roll hall of fame, situated in their great city, could open a dedicated emo wing and fill it with bands from this state. ‘Bath Salts’ is a short two song EP, which matters not as both songs are great and show 2 different side to their sound. Track 1, ‘Vernal’, is a driving rock song in the vein of Daylight. Track 2, ‘Thermal’, is more of a 90’s inspired, downbeat, fiddly emo number. Again, you can download these songs for free from Bandcamp. Sweet.

http://month.bandcamp.com/

4.Placeholder – Thought I Would Have Been Somebody By Now

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If you know me well then you’ll know my two main loves, music wise, are grunge and emo. When bands started to mix these two genres it was like the best Christmas ever, Placeholder are one of these bands and they do it bloody well. This EP is four songs, it’s available for free and it’s loud and catchy as hell. Trying to think of a good description and the best I’ve come up with is like a grungier early Planes Mistaken For Stars, I hope that will do.

http://placeholderpa.bandcamp.com/

Nobody, Ever – Everyone Stood By The Side Of The Road

nobody ever

Now, I did get sent this to listen to but that’s because I know these guys so I’m kind of cheating to include them here but SO WHAT?!? They’re great so they deserve the extra mention. I recently reviewed them for Tight to the nail which you can read HERE. In short I described them as a chunky Dowsing which I think they were happy with. Again, IT’S FREE, WOOP!!!

http://nobodyever.bandcamp.com/

Hope you’ve found something here to enjoy. To any of the other bands that have sent me stuff, sorry if I’ve not included you on here but I will be doing this again so all is not lost. And to any other bands, keep sending stuff over you lovely people.

Thanks for reading.

Facebook – http://www.facebook.co./isthisthingonblog

Twitter – @alex_itto

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The Is this thing on? Top 10 Records of 2012

What a year 2012 has turned out to be. So much so that this list has proved to be near impossible to write, choosing the 10 best records of the year and then listing them in order of bestest has given me a headache. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good headache and I ain’t complaining. Last year I posted a top 10 and so I thought i would continue with this. My best friend paul who writes the Wallernotweller blog made the sensible choice of listing 15 records but I’m not that wise. So, 10 it is. Meaning that some bloody good records have ended up missing out on this list. Bands like Suis La Lune, Converge, Joyce Manor, The Cribs, Sport, Ape Up! and Dads have all produced some quality work and have only missed out on my top 10 by the slightest of margins. Annabel too, whose album ‘Youth in youth’ is packed with greatness and if it had come out earlier in the year it might have taken one of the top ten places. These are all very worthy but they can’t all be winners so on with the list..

10. You Blew It! – Grow Up Dude

you blew it

This is an album that just keeps on growing on me, I like it more every time I listen. The records perfectly understated production mixed with the heart and melody of the music make it hard not to love this album. The fact that bands are making music like this is the reason why I write this blog, if someone asks you if there really is a 90’s emo revival happening at the moment then play them ‘Grow up dude’ and they will have their answer. I’m sure I saw someone mention on something or other that You Blew It! might be coming to the UK in 2013, this needs to happen. In the meantime I’ll just make do with falling in love with this album some more.

9.  State Faults – Desolate Peaks

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My first listen to ‘Desolate Peaks’ was my first experience of State Faults and by heck it was a good one. I love it when you put something on completely without assumptions and end up being blown away. The record is powerful yet touching. It perfectly fills the void left by Pianos Become the Teeth not releasing an album this year. But of course State Faults are a lot more than just a lazy comparison and they are by far the heaviest, screamiest band on my list this year. Earlier in the year they were kind enough to answer some of my questions, click HERE to have a read.

8. Dowsing – It’s still pretty terrible

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This is a record that is full of charm and beautiful indie pop songs that warm the soul. I said in my review of this album a few months ago and I stick by it, this is the record The Get Up Kids were trying to make with ‘On a wire’ and failed. Dowsing however hit it spot on. Now I know for a fact that they are planning to tour the UK next year, this is one not to miss. These songs in a packed venue with a whole crowd singing along to every word is something I definitely wanna be a part of!!!

7. Basement – Colourmeinkindness

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This is a record that appeals to the teenager in me, the spotty kid in the early 90’s with long greasy hair who was proud to called a ‘grunger’ by every chav in Thanet. There are so many grunge influences on this record that it’s hard to keep up, Basement mix in their straight up melodic hardcore and what you have is an album that’s screaming out to breakthrough. If it does it’ll be too late though as Basement are no more which is more than a damn shame. Great record!

6. Glocca Morra – Just Married

glocca morra

Glocca Morra are quite possibly my favourite band that I discovered this year. ‘just Married’ got a hefty few plays again and again this summer and listening to it now immediately reminds of that time. This is a perfect summer album because it’s just so much damn fun. If I was in to having house party’s and was wanting to get things happening then i would reach for this record, it would pretty much guarantee everyone a good time. Not only did Glocca Morra give us ‘Just Married’ this year, they followed it up with the equally amazing ‘An obscure moon lighting an obscure world’ EP. I hope they keep this momentum up and maybe next year they can claim my entire top ten!

It has come time to take a short break from this countdown and take a minute to remember the bands that we have lost this year. I mean, what awards show would be complete without a memorial montage and this Top 10 is no exception. So watch the video below and join me in some quiet reflection as we remember those that are gone.

5. Crash Of Rhinos – Distal

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Now, I know what you’re thinking, technically this record didn’t come out this year. It was first released in April of 2011 but it was re-released this year by Big Scary Monsters and this record is too good to be left out on a technicality. Plus who are you to say I can’t have them in my top 10, you’re not my mum! (mum if you’re reading this put the laptop down and back away, they’re in and that’s final). Crash of rhinos are almost too good, beautifully brilliant songs that last forever yet never outstay their welcome. With incredible vocals that seem to come from every member of the band and more bass players than bands that only have one bass player in them. They are touring in January with Raein which has ‘tour of the year’ written all over it already!!!

4. Prawn – Ships

ships

Shortly before getting this EP I went to see Prawn play live in Folkestone, the show was beset with technical problems so much so that they ended up only being able to play 4 songs. At the time I wasn’t bothered because I’d had a great night and Prawn were still fantastic. But after getting ‘Ships’ a few weeks later I was gutted that they couldn’t play all night. The songs that make up ‘Ships’ are so incredible that hearing them live would surely constitute one of the best gigs you’re likely to ever attend. Perfect emo like a poppier Appleseed Cast, love it!!

3. Title Fight – Floral Green

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Title Fight keep going from strength to strength and ‘Floral Green’ is their best record to date. Only a year after releasing their first studio album ‘Shed’ they released a record that was not only brilliant but also showed they had made great leaps forward in terms of sound and maturity. The dreamy, shoegaze magic of ‘Head in the ceiling fan’ showed a new side to Title Fight and ‘Secret Society’ proved that Title Fight can write catchy, instantly likeable grunge songs as well as anyone. Another essential record.

2. Dikembe – Broad Shoulders

broad shoulders

Dikembe are one of the best bands you’re ever likely to hear, following up the massive potential shown on last years ep ‘Chicago Bowls’ with a near perfect record of beautiful, mid paced emo. My heart melts at the first sound of Steven Gray’s voice and the guitar sound they have only heightens this sensation. I can see this album/band coming to define this current wave of emo tagged music, in a few years we’ll be looking back at it with the same fondness that we look back at, for example, ’30 degrees everywhere’ by the Promise Ring it’s that good. In any normal year it would easily win my album of the year top spot and they were only very narrowly beaten this year by…….

1. Joie De Vivre – We’re all better than this

jdv

This years first prize just has to go to Joie De Vivre with ‘We’re all better than this’ an album which I’ve very rarely not been listening to since it came out in the summer. Having split up it is unfathomable that this record could never have been made and I am so grateful that they gave it another shot. Seeing them play this summer in Brighton is one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, a brilliantly uplifting experience. Which is like what you get every time your hear ‘We’re all better than this’. An album that both boasts the best use of trumpets all year and the amazingly lovely backing vocals from Lindsay Minton (Football, etc) cannot fail to impress. A beautiful, beautiful record, well done, FIRST PRIZE!!!

Well, there you go. 2013 is already shaping up to be another incredible year that is promising new albums from Tigers Jaw, Football etc, Daylight, The Reptilian, Appleseed Cast, Jimmy Eat World and many more. I literally cannot wait. In the meantime thanks for reading and have yourself a very merry christmas xx

I’ve made an Is this thing on? best of 2012 playlist on Spotify if that’s your kind of thing, click the link below x

Is This thing on? best of 2012

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