Tag Archives: Polar bear club

Review: Make Do And Mend – Everything You Ever Loved

Band – Make Do And Mend

Album – Everything You Ever Loved

Label – Rise Records

When you’re a huge music fan and you keep discovering new music that is unbelievably amazing it’s hard not to get carried away with writing overly positive things about everything you find. It’s also a massive shock when something you’ve been looking forward to and keeping an eye out for turns out to be utterly disapointing.

Make Do and Mend caught my attention, like they did many others, with the 2010 album ‘End Measured Mile’. A really solid record that whilst not being album of the year showed a lot of promise for a band that could be capable of recording a classic. ‘Everything you ever loved’ is not the classic that I was hoping for, It’s not even a good record, a definite step down from their last effort.

The problem begins straight from the start. I don’t know if it’s and intentional effort on Make Do and Mend’s part to push for a wider audience or if it’s just them becoming the band they want to be but they’ve taken on a far more middle of the road rock sound. Think more Foo Fighters and less Hot Water Music, and if there is one thing the world doesn’t need is another Foo Fighters. The opening song, ‘Blur’, begins with some cheesy, mainstream grunge guitar work and the album finds it very hard to recover from this. Far too many effects and overproduction instantly take away the grittier edge they used to possess. It then all becomes a bit predictable and, sadly, dull.

Second track, ‘Dissassemble’, tries to swing it back but has too many cringeworthy moments (backing vocals) to be enjoyable. On, ‘St Anne’, they try a Jimmy Eat World style ballad which doesn’t come off. Jimmy Eat World pull these kind of songs off in their sleep but here it just sounds misguided. The rest of the album then blurs into a mush of uninspired riffs and instantly forgettable songs, it then kind of fades off in to the distance with a bit of a whimper. Not at all what I was expecting. I always try and look for a positive in everything I write about but I’m struggling here. There is not a single song on the album that I can claim to like.

Overall ‘Everything You Ever Loved’, is a big disappointment and a real shame. If you want a band who aimed for this kind of sound and really pulled it off then check out the latest Polar Bear Club record, but I’d stay away from this. Still, if you wanna give it a go then click HERE to go to the Rise Records page and check it out for yourself.

As always, cheers for reading xx

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The ‘Is this thing on?’ Top 100 EMO songs of all time. Part 2 (90-81)


Previously on the Top 100 EMO songs of all time………..

100 – Reggie and the full effect – Thanx for stayin

99 – Roadside Monument – Sunken anchor

98 – Boilermaker – Slow down

97 – Hundred reasons – If I could

96 – Jets to Brazil – Chinatown

95 – Coping – F For now

94 – Inside – Ray Brower

93 – Basement – Grayscale

92 – The Jazz June – Viva La speed metal

91 – Everyone Everywhere – I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere

To read more about each of those songs read the previous post here, and for some background as to why this list is happening read HERE

90 – Hunter Gatherer – Low Standards For High Fives

Who doesn’t love a good beard? These guys can grow them and how. ‘Low standards for high fives’ is the title track from the album of the same name released on everyones favourite German record label, Scene Police. Hunter Gatherer were from Athens, Georgia and played perfect Hot Water Music style emotional punk rock, with duelling vocals and plenty of intensity. Brilliant cover artwork too.

89 – Football, etc. – Safety

Songs don’t come much more gorgeous than ‘Safety’ by Football, etc. Starting off with a simple, swaying indie pop riff and moving into a more layered verse, the song then takes off as it builds into the chorus with plenty of overdrive and never looks back. Lindsay Minton beautifully singing “I’ll build a nest for you, I’ll build the best for you” in the chorus is indie emo at its very best.

88 – Race Car Riot – Raincheck

Some bands may need a whole back catalogue of albums and singles t0 leave a lasting impression, Houston band Race Car Riot managed to do that with just a handful of songs. Never releasing their own full length LP the bulk of Race Car Riot’s output is the 3 tracks put out by Deep Elm as a split EP with Appleseed Cast and Planes Mistaken For Stars, a couple of other tracks appeared on comp albums including the 1st Emo Diaries compilation. ‘Raincheck’ is the only song released with vocals on and is loud, dirty and poetic all at once. Would love to have heard more.

87 – Taking Back Sunday – Bike Scene

When Taking Back Sunday first emerged just over 10 years ago most of my music friends had gone off listening to emo and moved onto brighter things. So listening to bands that were so obviously, wore it on their sleeves, emo like Taking Back Sunday became a dirty secret, a guilty pleasure. I didn’t care though because a pleasure it was, debut album ‘Tell all your friends’ is now a classic, a high that the band would never reach again. ‘Bike scene’ displays all that was good with that album, brilliant heavy bits, amazing slow bits, multi layered vocals and the most emo of refrains; “I wanna hate you soooo bad, but I can’t stop this anymore then you can”.

86 – Leiah – Tiglio

European bands could do EMO so well, especially Scandinavian bands. Maybe the landscape of these countries would lend itself well to this type of music. And we were lucky enough to get plenty of them come and play our seaside town of Margate. Leiah are from Sweden and play heartfelt emo with indie pop sensibilities, ‘Tiglio’ is a wall of sound topped with almost over the top, Jeremy Enigk style vocals. Gorgeous.

85 – Brandtson – Still Life

Brandston’s first album’Letterbox’ was the band at their moodiest and best. Dark, grungey and emotional ‘Still life’ is six minutes of amazing rock music. I don’t think the band ever bettered their first record, but does that really matter because the record still holds up today and you can see its influence running through some of todays great bands.

84 -Polar Bear Club – Bottled Wind

Sometimes the lines are blurred as to what genre a band should fall into, especially considering there is a lot of overlapping. Polar Bear Club could be viewed as punk or post hardcore but on their latest album ‘Clash Battle Guilt Pride’ there is definately now an emo element to their sound. ‘Bottled Wind’ is proof of this, it rocks along with elements of Rival Schools or Far, both bands that boast amazing rock singers as frontmen just like Polar Bear Club do in Jimmy Stadt. Plus this is my wifes favourite record and she’d think less of me if I had excluded it.

83 – Starmarket – Losing Track

Another Deep Elm band, another Swedish band, what can I say? I’m a sucker for them. Starmarket play big, Braid style emotive rock’n’roll, ‘Losing Track’ is the 2nd song on this record which was originally an EP but then remastered and re-released by Deep Elm. When I was in the Babies Three we put a split cd single on year 3000 records with Starmarket so I obviously have a soft spot for them, and why not? They are rather good.

82 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Guitar and Video Games

‘Guitar and video games’ is taken from Sunny Day Real Estate’s 3rd album ‘How it feels to be something on’. This was the 1st of their records that I bought when it 1st came out and I remember how stupidly excited I was holding it in my hands in Select-a-disc in London. I think the album is completely underrated, in my eyes it’s a masterpiece. William Goldsmith’s sacking from Foo Fighters was a blessing, he had the last laugh because this album completely blows away anything the Foo’s subsequently put out. ‘Guitar and Video games’ begins like an old folk song, a swaying sea shanty of sorts, and then builds gradually into a beautifully dramatic ending. Perfect.

81 – Grade – Stolen Bikes Ride Faster

‘Screamo’ is sometimes considered more of a dirty word than ’emo’ itself, somehow undermining how good a band is just by mentioning the phrase in connection to them. Call them hardcore, emo hardcore, melodic hardcore, whatever. It doesn’t matter, Grade are an awesome band that know how to right a tune as much as they know how to kick arse, with a singer who can sing and scream without losing any passion or power. ‘Stolen bikes ride faster’ is from their classic album ‘Under the radar’ and is an example of how good they were at balancing all the different styles they had on offer.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think. The next part will be posted in the next couple of days. x

Update: read part 3 (80-71) HERE

If you use Spotify, click the link below to hear some of the songs

EMO 100

Watch the video below of Football, etc playing ‘Safety’ live

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The 10 best records of 2011 (according to me)

2011 has been a very weird year!

If you’ve watched the news for more than 10 seconds at any given point during the last 12 months then you will be of the opinion that the world is ruined. What we need in these times is something to distract our worried minds, after all ignorance is indeed bliss. So, luckily, it’s been a very good year music wise. There have been so many amazing bands making amazing music that I’ve fallen behind and am still playing catch up.

This is a list of the 10 records released this year that have meant the most to me.

10 – Basement – I Wish I Could Stay Here

My favourite British band of this year and one of the only bands I actually got to see live in 2011, Basement, represent all that is good about underground music. Working towards a hardcore DIY ethic, making honest music and getting out, playing live with no hidden agenda. They released their debut full length ‘I wish I could stay here’ during the summer on Run For Cover records and it’s 10 tracks of brilliant, heartfelt post hardcore.

Click HERE to go to their site

9 – Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Polar Bear Club brought a maturity to their sound and songwriting on this peach of an album. Still keeping the rawness of their previous output, ‘Clash Battle Guilt Pride’ saw the band come into their own. Instantly likeable, heart on their sleeve punk rock. And Jimmy Stadt has just about one of the best voices in rock and roll right now.

Click HERE to go their myspace page

8 – Touché Amoré – Parting the sea between brightness and me

‘Parting the sea….’ is 13 tracks of superb hardcore compacted in to 22 minutes. There is no messing about here, they had a job to do and they got that job done. Intense, precise, raw and powerful. A very good friend of mine, Paul (who also blogs HERE), recently stated that “Hardcore needs more hooks”. I do completely agree with that but you can definately find hooks, melody and more on this brilliant record. Touché Amoré do a brilliant job of mixing the quiet with the loud while at no point losing any of their power. 22 minutes of joy!!

Click HERE to go to their website

7 – Wavelets – Athaletics

I keep returning to this album time and time again. It’s deliciously warm charm has dug it’s claws deep into me. The songs are intricately complex and uplifting in equal measure. Embracing the indie emo sound from the late 90’s and with a perfectly lo-fi production this record sets itself apart from the over produced, copycat bands that claim to be from the same scene. And with song titles like ‘We’re really jazzed about the gig’ and ‘Bad scene, Jawbreakers fault’, how could you resist? Also has my favourite cover artwork of this year too.

Click HERE to go to their bandcamp page

6 – I am the avalanche – Avalanche United

Not many bands could leave SIX years between releasing their first and second albums and get away with it. IATA have pulled it off though, and with good reason. ‘Avalanche United’ is everything a good pop punk album should be, loud, in you face and catchy as hell. I was surprised how good an album this was, I didn’t think it would better the first album which has been on the stereo in our house consistently over the last 6 years, but that it did. They certainly deserve the adulation they receive just maybe don’t leave us hanging so long next time, huh??

Click HERE to go to their myspace

5 – Defeater – Empty Days & Sleepless nights

Defeater are setting the bar for modern hardcore bands. Environmentally conscious and socially aware, they are trying something different and succeeding. ‘Empty days & Sleepless nights’ continues with their narrative concept that begun with their debut album ‘Travels’. They back this up with brutally brilliant and infectious hardcore/post hardcore/screamo or whatever it is that describes them best. Fucking awesome is probably the best description I can give.

4 – Title Fight -Shed

Title Fight have been touring the UK recently and I am completely gutted that i’ve missed out. Their debut album, ‘Shed’, is a lesson in how fresh, honest and amazing pop punk can sound. Produced by the legend that is Walter Schreifels (Rival Schools, Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits), this is 12 punchy tracks delivered at pace with brilliantly delivered, almost screamed vocals. Watching them on youtube, they seem to stir up a stagediving frenzy every time they play live, so here’s hoping that they return to these shores sooner rather than later.

3 – Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Flies

If I ever feel down in the dumps and it happens, this year has been hard at times, I know that if I reach for this record a smile on my face won’t be long in coming. There is something in the sound and the way that they play that brings me much pleasure, they manage to out Cap’n Jazz as the kings of Cap’n Jazz style emo pop. Not that they sound the same as other bands, they manage to bring originality and joy to the scene. Perfect indie fare that also brings to mind Built to Spill and Pavement in places. Especially at the end of the first track, ‘Springing Leaks’, when it tails off into the most gorgeous guitar solo that evokes summer like no other band could.

Click HERE to go and listen at bandcamp

2 – Transit – Listen & Forgive

Transit win the 2011 award for “Album I’ve most embarrassed myself by singing along very loudly in my car to!!!”. It’s not a very prestigious title but it’s definitely an amazing record. How could you put it on and not sing along? It’s hit after hit of Pop punk goodness but with a healthy 90’s emo leaning. The Get Up Kids must’ve listened to this record and wished they could still make them as good.
They were also on the tour with Title Fight in the UK recently and by all accounts were completely amazing, so that’s more reason for me to damn my stupid back to hell. I’ll just have to console myself with another hearty singalong.

1 – Pianos become the teeth – The Lack Long After

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, and if you have can I just take this opportunity to say “wow, thanks and you have my pity x”, then it will come as no surprise that I have chosen ‘The lack long after’ as the best record of 2011. Pianos Become The Teeth are my current favourite band in the world and this album, to me, is an instant classic. Genuinely affecting and at times exhausting to listen to, this album stands head and shoulders above the rest this year. It is dark and heavy but also beautiful, Kyle Durfey has a voice full of pain and anguish that manages to be both powerful and fragile, sometimes even in the same song. Essential music that I can whole heartedly reccomend to anyone.

So, have I got it right? What do you think are the best records of 2011? What am I missing? Let me know.
Cheers xx

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Review: Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Band: Polar Bear Club

Album: Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Label: Bridge nine

Something strikes you as soon as you hear the first few seconds of the first song ‘Pawner’. There is always a little apprehension when you read that a band has made a change in direction. I always fear that that means they’ve gone soft, they’ve lost their edge on pursuit of a more mature sound. Deep down, I don’t really want every album a band makes to sound the same as their last one but when I first put on a new cd a part of me would just feel a bit happier if it did. It’s safe and change is scary, although in the long run a band needs to change. They need to progress, and thats what hits you as soon as you put ‘Clash Battle Guilt Pride’ on. Polar Bear Club have progressed, and how. ‘Pawner’ starts with just a guitar and vocal but it sounds huge. Jimmy Stadt is singing with an assured confidence, the kind of voice you’d usually associate with Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World) or Jonah Matranga (Far), and by the end of the song his voice is soaring. ‘Pawner’ builds up beautifully, an opening statement of intent for the rest of the album, emotionally open and powerful. And it’s from here that the album takes off and never looks back. The next 2 tracks ‘Killin it’ and ‘Screams in Caves’ move the band back to more familiar territory, but still with a step up from their previous album ‘chasing hamburg’. The songs sound more fully formed on this record, a band comfortable with what they want to achieve and now with the skills to convey this. There are times on the record where the Gaslight Anthem spring to mind, not that I’m giving that as a comparison but in a way that this is what I’ve wanted to hear every time I’ve put a ‘Gaslight’ record on. I’ve always liked the rawness of their vocals but musically the Gaslight Anthem leave me wanting more, the sound is to weak but that’s not the case here. Polar Bear Club now seem fully formed, a band trailblazing the emo-core scene. Jimmy Stadt’s vocals are a revelation, a timeless punk voice packed with real power and emotion. Themes of loneliness and fear are dotted throughout the album and also on the cover artwork which is juxtaposed nicely with the strength and spirit of the music. PBC have definitely found their voice. The album finishes as beautifully as it begins with ‘3/4 tango’ An end that leaves you wanting more. I’m very excited to see where the band go from here, this is a record which will deem them worthy of a bigger audience, but for now I’m content to have this album on repeat for the foreseeable future.

Perfect for: screaming along to on the drive home from work.

www.bridge9.com www.myspace.com/polarbearclub


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