Tag Archives: review

REVIEW: PLAYLOUNGE – PILOT

Band – Playlounge

Album – Pilot

Label – Dog Knights Productions

It’s around this time of year that I start to wonder what album will be the soundtrack of my summer. What album, for years to come, will always remind of awesome memories from these upcoming summer months. I know you shouldn’t force these things, overthinking everything is a bit of a habit and tends to take the edge off spontaneous moments but I can’t help it. Ever since the long hot summer of 1997 when my best friend got his first car and we spent the whole time driving around listening, pretty much exclusively, to 2 tapes he had in the car, ‘Everything Sux’ by the Descendents and ‘sublime’ by Sublime. Now, I haven’t listened to Sublime in forever but ‘Everything Sux’ still gets regular plays and always takes me back to being 17 and enjoying the freedom having a car brings with it. An early favourite for what will be my soundtrack of this summer has to be ‘Pilot’ by Playlounge and let me tell you why.

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The first time I listened to this album was in my car on a stupidly sunny day so from the word go I had a summery vibe going on. But the music itself is so upbeat and catchy that it would’ve given me that same vibe had it been cold and miserable that day. Playlounge are loud, their guitar sound is as distorted as it could possibly get yet their songs are full of melody and poppy happiness. Like the way Dinosaur Jr can manage to be unfeasibly loud without being classed as heavy. Their grunge heavy sound has a lot in common with Dinosaur Jr, it’s so great to hear a new band that you can say reminds of great grunge bands past without having to label them as ‘nu-grunge’ or lazy Nirvana rip offs. ‘Pilot’ starts with a blast and doesn’t back down one bit until all 10 songs have reached their completion.

‘I am a lion’ kicks the record of with thumping drums, you’re drawn in by the hazy, dream like vocals and when the guitar literally doubles in sound you’re completely sold on this Brighton 2 piece. They then follow this punch in the guts with a massive right hook, ‘Skulls’ is catchy, infectious and will make you happier than most songs you’ll hear this year. The rest of the record follows a familiar pattern which in now way gets stale or old, Playlounge play amazingly good, grungey noise pop and don’t feel the need to introduce gimmicks or other elements. And, hey, when they’ve got their sound absolutely nailed as good as this why the fuck should they??

I’m pretty convinced that I’ll have this record on constant repeat all summer long and far beyond that too. They seem to pretty much be constantly on tour so make sure you go and see Playlounge slay it live. I get to see them live this week and cannot wait to go all out crazy to their incredible noise!!!

You can buy the album HERE

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Thanks for reading. Come say hi: http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog.com, twitter @alex_itto or ittoblog@gmail.com

 

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REVIEW: COSMIC THOUGHTS – S/T

Band – Cosmic Thoughts

Album – S/T

Label – DLPR Records/Hot Salvation

Cosmic Thoughts have satisfied a need I’ve had for the last few months. I have been so blinkered on one musical genre that I’ve come close to burning out and with a few disappointing releases in the last couple of months I was searching for something different. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never stop writing about emo bands this is an emo blog after all, I just wanted to be blown away by something different to cleanse the palate as it were.

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Where I’m from in Kent, in the South East of England, there has always been, well for as long as I can remember, a strong tradition of very, very good local bands and right now seems to be no different. Boasting ex-members of local favourites November Coming Fire and Kid Pang, Cosmic Thoughts have built a solid live reputation around these parts, albeit with a different sound and direction to what came previously. And now they are backing this up with release of their self titled debut full length LP, An album worthy of a lot of time and attention.

Following up the ‘Live demo’ cassette released last year, Cosmic Thoughts have delivered something a lot grander in scope and sound with this record. Brilliantly recorded by the scariest man I’ve ever met on a boat on the Thames, Cosmic Thoughts have you hooked from the opening solid drum beat and thumping bass line of ‘Decayer’. It’s this combination that provide a really solid backbone to the record, the rhythm section is there as a constant throughout the record allowing the jangly guitars and synth room to breathe and play around. The vocals are low in the mix giving the record a psychedelic feel, they are used like an extra instrument rather than a focus or limelight stealer which is a nice touch.

The album is made up of 7 songs, most of which are past the 5 minute mark but none out stay their welcome. Each song is given time for its ideas to be explored and none of which is wasted. The repetitiveness of the drums get your feet tapping, the thick bass drills into your head and the guitars, synth and vocals open up your mind, it’s a sound that’s very hard to resist. Whether it’s the 80s feel of ‘Test Dream’, the punkier edge of ‘Saint Jude’ or the beautiful ending to ‘No Youth’, the results are all the same, this is a quality band that have made a quality album.

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Looking at their influences it’s hard for me with my limited knowledge of this genre to make accurate comparisons. I can see bits of Sonic Youth here or Joy Division there but most of all I see an indie band producing all the qualities that you’re looking for from an indie band. Something different, something exciting and something full of substance. Sit up and take note, Cosmic Thoughts are well deserving of all the plaudits that should be coming their way with the release of this brilliant record.

You can buy the record HERE

Thanks for reading, get in touch here, or ittoblog@gmail.com, or http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, or twitter @alex_itto

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REVIEW: SECRET SMOKER – TERMINAL ARCHITECTURE

Band – Secret Smoker

Album – Terminal Architecture

Label – Protaganist/Adagio830

I feel that, more often than not, I have to start blog posts on here with an apology. There has been so much going on recently, (nightmare house moves etc…), that I just haven’t had time to write anything. Thanks for being patient and thanks for sticking with me, I will do my best to get things posted quicker. Now, I am usually apologising for being a few weeks behind with album reviews but this takes the biscuit as I’m about a year behind telling you about this band. And I really am genuinely sorry that I haven’t told you about Secret Smoker already because they are fantastic.

Secret Smoker were brought to my attention at the end of last year after writing about Sed Non Satiata, I was told that as I had liked the last Sed Non Satiata record so much then I would love these guys and they weren’t wrong. There have been many bands that I have posted about in the last couple of years who are playing a style of music massively influenced by bands from the 90 but Secret Smoker have something different about them. Instead of seeing just an influence in their music, they sound like they are of this time. No bandwagon jumping or fad sounds here, instead a band making a genuinely brilliant emo record.

I remember being in Germany at the start of the century and being completely blown away by a band called Tupamaros, the intensity and energy they displayed made a massive impact on me. It’s probably no coincidence that the band I had been in at the time moved away from the more Get Up Kids sounding songs to a heavier, more intense sound. I get a similar feeling listening to Secret Smoker, it strikes me that this is how this music should be played.

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What makes Secret Smoker really stand out is their ability to move seamlessly from the fast paced, heavier songs to the more mid paced lighter songs without dropping any standards. You see this straight from the start of the record with the first 2 tracks, ‘Staircase’ and ‘Crushed by Air’, 2 perfect examples that Secret Smoker pack as much excitement and emotion into their songs regardless of the tempo. There isn’t a drop in quality throughout this record, 10 songs that excite, entertain and get you pumped for more. Putting a label on a band is always awkward, I’ve never used the word Skramz (until now) and I feel very self conscious if I describe a band as screamo, but it helps in a review so I’ll just say that Secret Smoker are a perfect example of this kind of band, emo done right if you will.

If you have been searching for something a bit different to listen to, something with the intensity of Human Hands and the energy of Plaids, something that takes you back a little further to Yaphet Kotto then you can’t go wrong with this record.  highly recommend it, its my favourite record of last year that I didn’t hear until this year, if that’s a thing.

Thanks for reading.

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REVIEW: THE HOTELIER – Home, Like Noplace Is There

Band – The Hotelier

Album – Home, Like Noplace Is There

Label – Tiny Engines

The Hotel Year are now The Hotelier, which still sounds the same if said in a broad, comedy, cockney accent. Not just that but they have a new album which I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks unable to decide exactly how I felt about it.

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There are 9 songs that make up ‘Home, like noplace is there’, The Hotelier’s sophomore record and something about it leaps straight out at you. Although, I think I’ve been holding back on letting myself really enjoy this record and I’ve been racking my brain as for the reason why. Annoyingly, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s my age. I can see that that is a really dumb thing to say but let me explain. The Hotelier don’t hold anything back lyrically or musically, they are really open to the point that it makes me slightly uncomfortable. Take the first song, ‘An introduction to the album’, for example. The way it builds and the emotion it shells out could be something off that would normally put me off but there is some kind of charm about that kept drawing me back. I put it on in the car on my way to work one day and a thought hit me, if I was 18 I would bloody love this band. Now this is nothing to do with being old or too mature etc… But when I was 18 I was a lot more open to music when I listened to it, now it seems I carry a lot of baggage when I hear something now that I close off. I feel more jaded, I can spot influences a lot more now and I let this get in the way of enjoying something.

Sure you can see influences dotted throughout this record, a bit of Saves The Day here or Piebald there, but it should be judged more on the quality of the songs rather than the originality of the sound. And the Hotelier pack plenty of quality in to their songwriting. Songs that come under the banner of ‘ANTHEM!!’ Come frequently through the record. The album veers in to a darker place but The Hotelier seem just at home with Touché Amoré style scream-a-longs as they do with their Jimmy Eat World style sing-a-longs.

The are a couple of spots where they don’t quite hit the mark, ‘Housebroken’ Is a bit of a dull point but by in large, if you let yourself, you’ll find this a really enjoyable listen. In the great scheme of things The Hotelier aren’t gonna steal my heart like, say, The Promise Ring but they will remain fondly thought of like, say, Hot Rod Circuit. Hopefully that analogy will make some kind of sense to you. Definitely worth checking out the record. Cheers.

You can download/stream the album HERE.
And the last time I checked Monkey Boy records had some vinyl copies available HERE

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Twitter @alex_itto
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REVIEW: SOMOS – TEMPLE OF PLENTY

Band – Somos

Album – Temple of plenty

Label – Tiny Engines

Everyday on my twitter feed for the last few weeks someone has been raving about the debut album by Somos. Most of my friends on twitter and a lot of the people I follow share very similar tastes in music to me. We fall out, every so often, when someone in jest bad mouths Fugazi and I have to point out how wrong they are, even in jest, but apart from that we have a lot of the same opinions on music. So, when I see them all in unison raving about a band then I know I need to get my arse in gear and see what all the fuss about. The problem with this album by Somos is that, after a good few listens, I’m still trying to understand what all the fuss is about.

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Somos play big, arena sized, emo rock with a polished sound and, considering this is their first record, an assured confidence. Sometimes with this kind of band I can go either way. Obviously, as is well documented by this blog, I am obsessed with emo bands but this, more commercial or easily accessible type of band can either leave me excited or just numb. Like with Taking Back Sunday and Brand New, people have told me a lot that I can’t like one and not the other. As it turns out, as time has passed then I’m not really that fond of either band, but I use to really like Taking Back Sunday but felt completely indifferent to Brand New. I don’t know why exactly and I feel a bit like that with Somos. They don’t do anything wrong exactly and I certainly don’t hate the record but I just am not feeling any connection and, after just a few songs on the album, I’m left bored.

One thing I can point at as being quite enjoyable is the clean guitar sound. It’s crisp, big and almost sounds like the Police in the odd place here and there. There is a retro feel to it but it’s drowned out by the stock distortion sound on the heavier parts where the songs tend to lose my interest. The vocals too are a bit of a put off, too much on the same level and not enough engaging energy or distinct tone to separate Somos from other bands of this ilk.

Ultimately this is an album I really wanted to like but it just didn’t end up clicking with me. With all the love being expressed for these guys then I know they’ve got nothing to worry about and I hope they make their label millions because those guys deserve it. Check it out and let me know what you think.

You can download/stream the album HERE

As always, thanks for reading. Get in touch here, on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog on twitter @alex_itto or email ittoblog@gmail.com.

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REVIEW: ACID FAST – RABID MOON

Band – Acid Fast

Album – Rabid Moon

Label – Protagonist/Adagio 830

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I have a very good friend who also writes a blog about music, when he comes round my house I tend to bore him to death by showing him whatever new records I’ve recently acquired or downloaded. Our tastes have grown apart over the last few years and most of what I say falls on deaf ears but when I showed him the album sleeve for ‘Rabid Moon’ by Acid Fast he was completely fascinated and more than intrigued. I know where he’s coming from, my first encounter with Acid Fast was seeing this album artwork and my first thought was that I must listen to this ASAP. I had no idea, really, what to expect but those dogs look so ferocious that it was drawing me in. I put the record on and was completely sold on the band from the off.

Acid Fast are satisfying a need for a type of music I hadn’t realised I was hungry for. A lot of what I had been listening to recently was angry, moody and introspective but this was loud, upbeat and outgoing. But Acid Fast are a rock’n’roll band and this is a rock’n’roll record. Big thumping indie punk anthems with excellent duel vocals and more hooks than a cloakroom. Everything is loud, overly distorted and, as I said, big! Especially the melodies that capture your attention on each of the killer tracks and keep your interest right to the end. Acid Fast come from Oakland, CA and feature ex members of the band Big Kids which is a big reminder to me to go back and listen to Big Kids more.

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Maybe there are plenty of bands playing this Superchunk-esque, grand, indie punk sound but not many that I’ve encountered. Perhaps Joanna Gruesome but that’s all I can think of. Maybe I should lift my head up, turn of the depressing stuff more often if this is the kind of result I can expect. I doubt many bands will make an album this instantly excellent this year mind.

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Oh and my friend who I mentioned at the start who was intrigued by the artwork, just checked with him and he still hasn’t listened to it!?!?? But you’re not reading his blog so pay no attention and trust me when I say you need to buy this record!!!!!

You can buy the record from Protaganist HERE

Again, thanks for reading. Get in touch: Facebook – www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, twitter @alex_itto or email ittoblog@gmail.com

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REVIEW: SPORT – BON VOYAGE

Band – Sport

Album – Bon Voyage

Label – Good Post Day Records (UK)

Bandcamp – http://sport.bandcamp.com/album/bon-voyage

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Wow! 2014 has really hit the ground running. There is a huge amount of amazing records being released and previewed on an almost daily basis, I feel like I’m swamped already. If you’ve read this blog a lot before then you’ll know I don’t get to sleep much and we’re being made to move house at the moment so free time to write is very limited. But, so we don’t fall behind, I’m gonna try and write as much as I can about as much as I can in short, sweet bursts so hopefully nothing will get forgotten about. And where better to start than with the incredibly exciting new full length from Sport!?!

Ok, if you want some advice of how to get me on side with your bands album then you can pick up some very helpful tips from ‘Bon Voyage’ by Sport. In my eyes, these guys from Lyon, France are doing everything right. They play 90s emo, now I know that is beginning to be something that is putting people off so instead maybe I should say, they’re playing emo the way it’s meant to be played. With immense amounts of energy, heart and a great deal of skill.

They have packed so many hooks and melody into these 11 songs it’s unreal and what makes it better is that it is at no point samey. Sport are not one trick ponies, they deliver an album which takes influence from the entire emo spectrum. ‘Charles Lindberg’, one of the highlights of the album, takes it’s lead from Spraynard, the are echoes of Crash Of Rhinos type post hardcore on ‘Ulrike Maier’ and aspects of Braid, Algernon and Hot Water Music through the rest of the record. But, saying that, ‘Bon Voyage’ is not just a record where you can see a range of influences on display, that takes away the credit that Sport duly deserve for creating a completely brilliant album.

A sign that I know that this is a good record is when I’m playing it full blast in the car, every so often a bit will come up, it’s not always the same bit each time, and I’ll just sit back and think ‘Damn, this is a good record!!’. That may seem like an obvious sign but I thought it was well worth mentioning. I also have an annoying habit where I sing along, loudly, without knowing any of the words. It’s so catchy but the lyrics are quite hard to make out, even so, I don’t see this as a valid reason to not be singing along. This may get on your nerves when I’m doing it at their upcoming UK tour but that’ll be your problem for you to deal with.

This is the first, of hopefully many, truly incredible record of 2014. And one more tip on getting me on side with your band, include a sample, like Sport do on ‘Jacques Mayol’ from the film Fargo. It’s guaranteed to make me love your band forever, like I will Sport!!!! (You’ll probably notice a pretty sweet Stand By Me sample at the beginning too, which is cool, but it’s no Fargo)

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