We Were Promised Jetpacks Album Review

With the release of We Were Promised Jetpacks’ album In the Pit of the Stomach, fans get another taste of how “mad guitar skills” (as some people might say) take a band to a completely different level.

The follow-up to These Four Walls is all guitar and a whole lot of noise. Not bad noise. Just a lot of it.
Lead vocalist Adam Thompson brings a lot to the table and it shows when you listen to tracks like “Act on Impulse”. Of course, he may not have the best voice in the business, but his raspy and raw vocals continue to bring that “oomph” to the album.

In the Pit of the Stomach focuses quite heavily on guitar to make it work, and as much as it is good, there is something I feel is lacking from the album. It could be that there wasn’t a song that stood out from all the others. Or, it could be that the album as a whole didn’t wow me. It seems to be that with so much focus on the using instruments as the driving force behind the album, there wasn’t enough attention paid to lyrics or the actual production of the song to set one track from another.

Many tracks are similar to each other so the excitement I was looking for didn’t come through. Nonetheless, WWPJ plays their music well and they know how to use their strengths to keep their fans happy. With tracks like “Pear Tree” and “Boy in the Backseat” I can say you won’t be very disappointed.

In the Pit of the Stomach is a solid effort but I know there is so much more up the band’s sleeves that none of us have heard yet.

Chelse Wolfe – Apokalypsis review

Chelsea Wolfe sheds light on an “eerie” type of musical genre with her new album Apokalypsis – and just in time for the Halloween season.

On the album cover, Wolfe’s whited-out eyes and jet black hair don’t foreshadow bunnies and rainbows. The image she portrays may scream “Grim Reaper” but the contents of her album are forces to be reckoned with. No pun intended if you’re listening to “Primal/Carnal” – a twenty second track featuring monster noises (I couldn’t pinpoint the animal). The album, in its entirety, isn’t exactly what the introductory track promises to be. Au contraire, once you move past this track, you’ll find that the tracks are calmer, “looser”, which is why I would best describe Apokalypsis, as gothic/eerie 1970’s vintage music.

“Mer”, the first full-length track, has a beautiful melody to it and Wolfe’s voice compliments it beautifully. However, “Track (Tall Bodies)” is a personal favorite in that it exhibits Wolfe’s raw talents, as she hauntingly sings the lyrics “We could be two straight lines/In a crooked world”.

“The Wasteland”, evokes the 1970’s vintage gothic I had mentioned earlier. Funny enough, what I actually find admirable of Wolfe, is her ability to title the track so that it best depicts the mood and atmosphere of the song. You can’t not expect that “Demons” will be a very fast-paced, chaotic song; and you can very well predict that “To the Forest, Towards the Sea” will be an ambient-like song that illustrates the forest and sea through musical instruments.

Apokalypsis reveals a menacing, doom-like atmosphere, however underneath the dark and somber layers Wolfe so carefully piled on, there is much depth and intensity you can’t easily find in music today. Sure the first track sounds like a horrible beast is about to come out of your speakers, but Wolfe’s musical talents are worth paying attention to.

Leeland – The Great Awakening album review

Leeland brings heart back to music with their new EP ‘The Great Awakening’.

Marking their fourth album to date, the three-time Grammy nominated band infuse a sense of beauty and empowerment into their music (even if their EP is only three songs long).

Following their 2009 album ‘Love is On the Move’, lead singer Leeland Mooring alongside brother Jack Mooring and for the first time, sister Shelly as well as drummer Mike Smith, create tracks with purpose.

Now, for a music aficionado that does not normally dabble into “worship music”, I found this album quite beautiful. You can’t help but be inspired. The first track, “The Great Awakening” shines with lovely harmonies. Right off the bat, the “angelic” atmosphere is set and I found myself singing along after a couple listens.

The vocals are simple and less “showy” rather, and the melodies of each track stand out. A song with a powerful meaning and just as powerful melody is undoubtedly “While We Sing”. You will have this song on repeat – if not for its lyrics, for its musical setup (for lack of a better word).

Simplicity is key for Leeland, and all musical aspects of the tracks complement each other.

What I found to be admirable is the idea that they don’t center around one instrument for their album. In one song, you have a powerful piano ballad, and for the second, you have a soft-guitar playing. The result? One track isn’t necessarily better than the other, they are just different from each other, and you take with it, different meaning and different experiences. Interesting how one song has that much effect on a person.

You don’t have to be a believer to love Leeland’s music, you just have to be open-minded.

Jonny Lives – Revolution For Free album review

Johnny Lives spark their own revolution amidst fun and catchy tracks off their latest effort, Revolution for Free. The band’s sophomore full-length album fuses pop/rock elements well with interesting and captivating lyrics. Frontman Johnny Dubowsky’s talents definitely prove the album is a worthwhile listen.

“You make me cold, and you make me hot, forget about the kiss in the parking lot” (featured in “Parking Lot”) – definitely not a bad opener for the album and surely a catalyst for curiosity. Not to mention “Don’t Throw It Away” and “Makes the Difference” really show promise and are excellent proof of what the band is capable of doing.

Though, the track that pushed them into must-listen territory is undoubtedly “We Will Not Die Quietly”. Not only does it scream revolution, it screams empowerment and beauty. The word “survive” chanted repeatedly leads you onto their personal journey of struggle and pain. This can also apply to two other tracks that should not be ignored. “Revolution for Free” brings lyrics like “Did you ever think you would have a voice, that your lesson would be learned” to your ears. And, oddly, “350 times” introduces a track quite anthem-like, but nonetheless fun to listen to. The more you listen to it the more you feel their lyrics, especially towards the end when the harmonies increase and the double vocals chime in – chanting “350 times” in the background while you hear the lead vocals sing through the song. You can’t help but be immersed in the words and ultimately you believe in their fight.

The New York-based band Jonny Lives incorporate all musical elements quite well, and even though they try to make a statement, you don’t feel like you are being hit over the head with political agendas. If anything, the album is more a sing-a-long than a preaching.

CANT – Dreams Come True album review

Chris Taylor CAN make music a beautiful thing with his self-produced Dreams Come True record.

Under the moniker, CANT, Taylor crafts his talents well with a record that promises stylish synths and low bass sounds enough to fill your ear waves for a month. Without Grizzly Bear by his side, and with a new label to establish, one would think it could be quite hard to stay afloat in such an increasingly competitive music market.

Though, Taylor makes CANT look like it’s been around for years. Most of this can be credited to the production of the album alone. The sound induces a low-key atmosphere though don’t be fooled as it’s a lot more complicated than it seems.

“Too Late Too Far” is a bit more upbeat than the other tracks, but it’s really interesting to listen to—with the random “forest” sounds in the background. There are numerous types of melodies that are blended well on this track alone. Though, I think one of CANT’s best tracks is “Believe” – because with lyrics like “Things I haven’t told you, you won’t believe” there is no doubt you will be hooked to listen more.
In fact there is something about his voice—could be the raspy yet edgy tone he has or it could be the fact that it is quite unique from others.

Overall, his tracks do take on the “slow-motion” aspect but I feel it works well and Taylor knows how to play around with that style very well. Take, “She Found a Way Out” – you almost think it’s too slow, but it works because you are able to feel the lyrics, feel his pain (yes this may sound corny but walk with me here). It also helps that halfway through the song it suddenly changes and surprises you with a hard hitting low beat that progressively becomes faster, and not to mention his voice becomes almost an octave lower.

With the exception of “Dreams Come True” which just sounds like static from your TV, the record justifies the cover—a tiny explosion or an electrifying moment that haunts you just a bit and leaves you wanting to know more.

The Art of Noise – (Who’s Afraid Of) the Art of Noise review

The Art of Noise releases their first full length album, Who’s Afraid of the Art of Noise, and the title seems to be a perfect fit for who they are.

The Art of Noise, a clever and quite fitting name, introduces a twist on the idea of noise. Funny enough, noise doesn’t always have optimism attached to its name. In fact, I don’t know many instances where noise was “a good thing”. Though the group, a teamwork effort by Trevor Horn and Anne Dudley, proves noise has so much more than what we think—layers upon layers of different and unusual yet interesting sounds and tones.

Take the first track, “A Time for Fear” and by the first 3 seconds you’ll begin to realize it’s not noise that they’re necessarily talking about. Beats of every kind and nature fill your ears and take you on a bumpy ride seeing as the song is a blunt political protest. Though, not all tracks have political agendas. If you choose “Backbeat” you’ll be taken on a completely different and almost obscure adventure.

The Art of Noise also doesn’t limit itself to one beat or one sound, or one melody—which is perfect for the group and their entire “being” as noise can be an embodiment of so many sounds. And the best part of it all is the fact that they juxtapose heavy, somber tones with quirky and upbeat vibes. The best example of this is found in “Beat Box”.

What seems to be the most popular among fans, are tracks “Close (To the Edit)” and “Moments in Love”; two very different songs but quite “ear-catching” nonetheless. The latter, a ten-minute track features electronica at its best.

Of course, the album as a whole is quite random and at first listen, odd and peculiar. However, it fits well with who the group is and what music they set out to play. After all, noise can be anything and their version of it should not be overlooked.

Memoryhouse – The Years EP review

Memoryhouse brings a little déjà vu with The Years E.P. yet they still manage to wow us.

With an EP that is only four tracks long, there is still a little confusion regarding the originality of material. Not to fear, the Ontario–based group has in fact re-recorded three tracks from the old EP: “Sleep Patterns”, “Lately (Deuxième)”, and “To The Lighthouse”.

As for the new and unheard recordings, “Modern, Normal” and “Quiet America”, fans will delight in percussion and piano arrangements. The lead vocals, Denise Nouvion and the clever arrangements from Evan Abeele lend a vital hand in distinguishing this album from their last one and foreshadow what is to come in the following year when they release their full length album.

All of the tracks that have been altered still stay true to their basic melodies. Though what does change is the addition of certain instruments—and we can notice it mostly sounds like the addition of string-like instruments. What also stays and shines through is the feeling of absolute comfort we get when we listen to Memoryhouse. It’s as if they understand what is needed to mellow us out and make us forget about the woes of our day.

“To the Lighthouse”, a track noticeably modified, is a standout. The beginning brings us into a realm of calmness and serenity. Soft guitar and soft vocals help us fall for the track the more we listen to it.

It cannot go without saying, that for a new EP there is a little disappointment as to what was actually recorded for this album alone. It’s hard to fall head over heels for tracks that we already heard. However, these tracks are what led the band to its newfound popularity and praise when they released them on The Years. So as much as we can say it’s just not good enough, we just have to listen to their tracks and fall back in love all over again.

Emm Gryner – Northern Gospel review

Emm Gryner definitely brings a new flavour to the Indie music scene with Northern Gospel.

If there is any indication that this album is worthy of a listen, or two (or heck, should be on repeat on your Ipod) is the opening number “Ciao Monday”. And the album continues—continues with ballads, light-hearted numbers and pleasantly surprising, deep lyrics.

Gryner stays true to her piano-ballad roots instead of choosing a whole new direction for this album—which for many fans I’m sure is refreshing because sometimes we just want to hear what we first fell in love with. Songs like “North” and “Home” are great examples of “Gryner” tracks. However, songs that are a little out of her norm like “A Little War” take the artist to a whole new level.

With a sweet voice and touching lyrics, the album feels very complete. And the best part of Gryner’s music is that it’s very subtle. I don’t feel like I’m listening to a big production but just a very cool, feel-good album. Funny enough, I even felt a rush of Canadian pride as some of her tracks reference “the nifty North”.

William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs review

William Elliott Whitmore dignifies his seventh full-length ablum, Field Songs.

This 33 year-old is an old soul. With deep vocals taking a lead role, Whitmore proves a love of folk music can be revived; along with the banjo. It is actually quite admirable to listen to Whitmore’s music because you feel like you are directly playing a part in history.

Field Songs has a certain “aura” to it. Maybe it’s the old-fashioned tone that gets you feeling as if you have to like it just because it’s part of our parent’s generation. Maybe, it’s that particular refinement and distinction you don’t often hear. Whatever the case, when Whitmore sings, he demands attention. His grace shines through and you can’t help but feel with this album that 50 years ago, you could easily be hearing this on a radio—a rarity that most people enjoyed.

No stranger to protests and freedom of speech, Whitmore’s music sounds as if it were needed to be played for a cause.

In fact, in many of the tracks off the album, especially “Don’t Need It”, Whitmore puts hard labour on a pedestal. And, why shouldn’t he? The worst thing, according to him, is to lean on a crutch—or eventually become lazy. Sounds interesting doesn’t it? We are part of a time where we feel completely and utterly useless without our technology.

“We’re just here for a little while” (from “Everything Gets Gone”) hits you and leaves you wondering about life and death—a topic that can have your mind reeling for days.

With a banjo, soulful vocals and hard-hitting lyrics, Whitmore takes you back to the basics. Though, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no deep and meaningful life lessons. With each song, this gifted artist sings about his pain and his joy—and you believe him.

Braid – Closer to Closed review

Braid attempts a comeback with their new EP, Closer to Closed

The Illinois-based emo troupe (as they are known) who have worked hard for most of their career, introduces their 4-song EP—though fans aren’t too pleased. The group may have risked their fate with their title alone.

Because of their history, with breaking up and regrouping for a short while, four songs seemed like an appropriate number to record what they needed to without seeming like they were committed to being together as a band.

Singer and guitarists Bob Nanna and Chris Broach try to rekindle what they could of their songwriting chemistry, though it doesn’t seem like they did a good enough job to wow listeners.

Interesting enough, in “Do Over”, the lyrics stand out, singing: “It could never be this good again/ You know it’s true/”I want a do over, do over, do over”. It sounds as if the group is talking about more than just their romantic lives; hopes of having a do over in their music career are probably quite high.

Unfortunately, with only four songs, it’s hard to say anything. Where Braid was known for their catchy music and different and unusual melodies, they haven’t been able to salvage their reputation with Closer to Closed. In an attempt to stay current, they tried venturing into unfamiliar territory, though it wasn’t enough for them to stick out.

Dueling guitar parts? New and edgy emo music? Not there anymore. Maybe the group just didn’t have it in them this time, or they simply didn’t want to taint the image that their fans had of them from the past.