Tag Archives: screamo

The Is This Thing On? Top 10 albums of 2015

So… I wasn’t gonna do an album of the year list this year. Mainly because I have been completely neglecting this blog for the most part of the year and felt a bit odd logging back in to just post a list of records I like. Also, I seem to have gone through a slump with new music, preferring instead to listen to older stuff. In truth, the album I’ve listened to most this year is ‘Leaves Turn Inside You’ by Unwound, an album which I’ve fallen head over heels for. But that was released in 2001 so isn’t really eligible for consideration here.

However, I did start to think that I would regret not doing one. These lists are fun to look back on in future years and give a great indication of my way of thinking at the moment.

So here goes….

10. Blur – The Magic Whip


I’ve always had a big soft spot for Blur, even if in the mid 90s I wouldn’t admit it as to not ruin my devout grunger street cred. I was happy to hear that a new record was coming out but had little idea just how good it would be. The Magic Whip is fantastic, It’s Blur back to their ’13’ era best but still sounding relevant. Damon’s genius songwriting with Graham’s inventiveness have been sorely missed and it was great to have them back.

9. Carson Wells – Tread A Northern Path


I thought I was going off post hardcore before I heard this. But Carson Wells reaffirmed my belief that when done well post hardcore is the greatest musical genre of all time. Still bringing the energy and noise they always have, Carson Wells managed to fit in even more passion and heart to this record than before. Essential listening.

8. Title Fight – Hyperview

Some people didn’t seem to get on board with this record which is fair enough due to a sizeable shift in direction. But, to me, this album was an amazing achievement which highlights a great maturity within the band. Title Fight may be heading more towards shoegaze nowadays but the whole album is rooted in their hardcore sensibilities and shows the band to be the great songwriters they are. When they played in Canterbury with Cold World in the spring it was one of the most special nights of the year and a personal highlight.

7. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp


Another record that soundtracked the summer this year, effortlessly catchy and loveable lo-fi indie pop the like of which I’m a complete sucker for. This record made me chastise myself for being slow on the uptake with Waxahatchee as her previous record is just as good. Maybe I just have to accept the fact I’m usually late to the party with most things, but at least I get there.

6. Spraynard – Mable


I punched the air when I heard that Spraynard had reformed, and couldn’t stop smiling as I listened to ‘Mable’, their comeback record. Missing out on a record like this is is exactly why I was so gutted when they split up, it is the most perfect pop punk being made right now. So much energy, heart and hooks. Oh so many hooks!!

5. Hop Along – Painted Shut


This band can do no wrong, simple as that. To follow up an album as genius as ‘Get Disowned’ must be terrifying but Hop Along take it all in their stride. ‘Painted Shut’ is every bit as good as its predecessor, it sounds amazing and I could just listen to that voice all the day long.

4. Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us


What a revelation Beach Slang are, after two very promising EPs they finally delivered a full length record towards the end of this year and it is a rock triumph. Writing songs as big and as hook laden as Jimmy Eat World used to, if it was still the 90s Beach Slang would be playing the main stages of major music festivals. But it’s not, no good bands get to do that anymore, they’ll just have to make do to with being rock stars in my eyes. Hopefully they’ll settle for that and release many records of this quality.

3. Foxing – Dealer


I made the mistake of listening to ‘Dealer’ for the first time during my lunch break at work at the same time as being really in to reading ‘The Psycopath Test’ by Jon Ronson. Now when I listen to it I’m immediately inside Broadmoor but that’s my problem and I’ll learn to deal with it. You probably know how much I love Foxing’s first record, ‘The Albatross’, so you can probably guess just how excited I was to get my hands on this album. Having recently seen them live they had given themselves a lot to live up too. Foxing, thankfully, were up to the challenge. ‘Dealer’ is a really complete record, the kind that demands to be listened to the whole way through, from start to finish. That way you’ll always get the pay off of ‘Glass Coughs’ and ‘Eiffel’, two of the years most beautiful songs.

2. Shizune – Le Voyageur Imprudent


When you see the words ‘Italian screamo’ you know you’re in for a treat, and this record certainly is a treat. It starts with a bang and caries on being intensely brilliant until the very end. If you think you may be bored of this kinda thing then Shizune will reaffirm your faith, let me tell ya. Very highly recommended.

1. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

Indigo loves this record!!

 

This record and this band has really defined this year for me. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was that they were releasing a new record after 10 years on hiatus. Their last record, ‘The Woods’, is one of my favourite of all time, they left me sorely wanting more. And ‘No Cities To Love’ was worth the wait. They have said in interviews that they would only release something new if they were up to producing something of quality, this is definitely the case here. Again, it shows a shift in direction, this is a much more straight up rock record but still a sound that is unmistakably Sleater-Kinney. We have Sleater-Kinney on heavy rotation on our car stereo on family days out, the kids each have their favourite songs, Thurston loves ‘Price Tag’, Indigo is a big fan of ‘Oh!’ from ‘One Beat’ and so on. I can’t pick a favourite from this near perfect album. Here’s hoping there’s not another 10 year wait for their next one.


This has been fun, thanks for reading. Maybe see you more in 2016.

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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.

secret smoker

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.

Get in Touch: http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, ittoblog@gmail.com or alex_itto on twitter x

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Review: Suis La Lune – Riala

Band – Suis La Lune

Album – Riala

Label – Topshelf Records

Europe is a breeding ground for amazing emo bands of all varieties. Emo, screamo, indiemo, happymo and all the other many types that exist under that banner. Maybe it’s the landscape, the heritage or the weather or maybe it’s just a coincidence that over the last 15 years European bands have made some of the best emo music that exists. Suis La Lune from Sweden are continuing this long tradition with their latest long player, ‘Riala’.

The first experience I had of Suis La Lune was early last year when they played in Margate with Pianos Become The Teeth. I didn’t have any expectations as I was a bit blindsided by the fact PBTT were playing so locally to where I lived so hadn’t thought to look Suis La Lune up, but as soon as they started I instantly became a fan. I was entranced by them. They sounded incredible and had killer facial hair, what more could you want? So it was more than exciting to find out they would be bringing their new album out on the fantastic Topshelf Records, home to PBTT, and even more exciting to find that the album is everything I had hoped for.

‘Riala’ is 10 songs of gorgeous emotional hardcore. What sets Suis La Lune apart is how well they manage to blend the loud parts with the quiet, the hardcore with the indie sounds. Other bands manage to do this very successfully but there is something Suis La Lune do that is utterly different. I think that its just how delicate and intricate the guitar play is on the quiter moments, they then manage to bleed this through in to the heavier parts. The result is incredible and they never lose any intensity or power throughout the album.

The album begins with ‘Cornea’ and with it they throw you straight in to the sound of the whole record. It is heavy and exciting while also being soft and beautiful. The way that over the shouty/screamed vocals and hardcore drumming the guitar remains simple and delicate which elevates the sound. Their as indie a hardcore band could ever be, you hear this clearly on the second song, ‘Stop Motion’. Played by another band this could be a classic British Indie song but played by them it still has this intense hardcore undercurrent. It’s hard to explain exactly and I probably haven’t done it enough justice.

This is a record best played from beginning to end, It doesn’t have any ‘stand out songs’ or hit singles as such, it’s a work of art that demands your full attention to give it the justice it deserves. All the way through the album there are moments to savour and enjoy, there are also moments of dischord and discomfort. The vocals blend in to the sound as an extra instrument, delivered with emotion and desperation throughout. There are times when they come to the fore like on ‘All that meant something’, where the repeated refrain ‘You took it away from me’ is the closest the album comes to a sing-a-long moment.  The title track, ‘Riala’, serves nicley to break the album up a bit, It’s kind of like a majestical post rock lullaby and then the closing track, ‘One and all, every bit’, sends the album off in the most epically brilliant way.

‘Riala’ by Suis La Lune is a really great record, it has a classic emo/screamo/whatever sound but still comes across as refreshing and new. It’s available to download from Topshelf Records bandcamp HERE, they tour the UK in August and I can’t wait to see them at Hevy.

Hope you enjoy and cheers for reading x

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Review: The Saddest Landscape – After the lights

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’

After The Lights Cover Art

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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: La Dispute – Wildlife

Band – La Dispute

Album – Wildlife

Label – No Sleep Records

What is it that I don’t get about La Dispute?

I have friends that adore them, they’re creating a massive buzz, getting rave reviews and they’re best buds with some of my favourite bands. Yet, I don’t get it. I’ve really, really tried to like them, I really want to like them. I keep listening the new album ‘Wildlife’, and while it’s a massive step up from the last album, ‘Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair’, I still cannot call myself a fan.

The problem I have is definitely with the music because I really do like the vocals. They are La Disputes strongest point, the vocal style is a mix of Tupamaros and At the Drive-in with a good dose of heart and clever lyrics. The music sells it short, maybe it’s overshadowed by the vocals but even still nothing about it grabs you and demands your attention. Like I already said though the music has improved a lot from the last record but its still lacking. There’s nothing to get you excited or that you can lose yourself in about the music, no hook that will imbed itself in you and force you to return to the album time and time again.

La Dispute are a lot different from the other bands in their scene, they are experimenting with different sounds and different ways to present an album and for that they should definitely be applauded. ‘Wildlife’ is a concept album, a collection of short stories bookmarked by four songs. A lot of thought and care has gone into the lyrics and the story they convey, this is clearly most important for the band, the lyrics come first before the music. There are times on the album where things come together and it does work. ‘King Park’is a highlight, it’s moving and the music is matched to the haunting lyrical story which combines to give a taste of what a good band they could be. But these moments are few and far between and in an album which is 14 songs long,do get drowned out.

‘Wildlife’ is not a bad album. If you liked any of La Dispute’s previous output then you will certainly enjoy this. They are getting better and I know I will be finding myself in the minority here but, for whatever reason, I don’t get it. Let me know your opinion on this one.
Cheers x

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Review: Pianos Become The Teeth – The Lack Long After

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.

Thanks xx

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