Review Roundup: As We Fight/The Psyke Project, Summer People, SWTHRT, and West of Here
Though the Ebola split makes for an entertaining listen, it doesn’t offer much more than that, as there are simply far more interesting hardcore and metalcore bands doing what these bands do, and better. The approach with both bands seems to be stripping the style to its essentials, and stay true to 90s hardcore and metalcore – the trouble is that bands like The Carrier and Trap Them already do this, but manage to make it interesting as well with more complex guitar work and song structures.
Each band shows tendencies of taking their sound a step further, but ultimately doesn’t stray far from simpler writings. They are at their best when pursuing a more melodic atmopshere, such as can be seen with “Shattered” from As We Fight, and refraining from the generic mosh or breakdown parts. The Psyke Project easily outshine their colleagues in this sense, as “This Road to Hell” and “Only I Remain” show the best instances of the latter point.
Perhaps, the redeeming factor for this record is the production, because it makes everything sound so massive and professional that it significantly contributes to making Ebola as entertaining as it is. While the slightly dirtier production suited the As We Fight side, which used a more classic Entombed buzzsaw tone, the producer’s work with The Psyke Project side was even better – the mesh of it being incredibly heavy while also very clean, really made for a nice finish on it . Thus, while this EP is quite average musically, the production adds a lot of spice to it, and the bands show definite potential for the future.
Summer People are a weird and wonky septet out of upstate New York, that play indie rock rooted in a number of different influences. They released their debut, Good Problems, last year, and came out with Teamwork just a few months ago. They may be no Portugal. The Man just yet, but it’s impressive that they’re able to produce such a fine record at that rate, and also make it very different from its predecessor.
While Good Problems saw the band go in a more folky post-rock direction, Teamwork is a much more difficult record to pin down in terms of its sound. Despite certain influences that stood out on their debut, Teamwork solidified the presence of a distinct core to Summer People’s sound, which is impressive for such a young band. There is a major art rock vibe throughout akin to contemporary colleagues The Dear Hunter, but with David Byrne-like vocals. Suffice to say, this is definitely one of the best indie rock records I’ve come across this year, and seeing as how this band already seems to have everything figured out with their sound, it will be interesting to see where they’ll go from here.
Firstly, if you’re this bad a singer you should probably find someone else to sing for your band. Second, is it really necessary for every band influenced by The Jesus and the Mary Chain to have a “Just Like Honey” ripoff? This could be accidental, but it can’t be that hard to avoid writing something that so closely resembles one of the greatest songs ever written.
Although this record is nothing special even once its redeeming qualities are considered, I will gladly elaborate. Some of it is decently written, but it’s essentially noise pop without the noise, so frankly it gets kind of boring. Psychocandy has some of the simplest guitar parts ever written, but its many layers, its tone, and other intricacies, are essentially what made it so unique. Thus, this record would be much better with a more complex approach to songwriting, and a different singer.
I would venture to say that a different singer would make them pleasant to listen to, even without any changes to the songwriting approach. This is a pretty nice-sounding record otherwise, especially for something that seems primarily produced and recorded by the band themselves.
While West of Here isn’t particularly intriguing, I have to give them credit for not sounding like some variation of Set Your Goals or a popular 90s pop-punk band. Not that this is incredibly positive, but there’s only so much of the latter that one can take without wanting to blow their brains out.
My greatest concern with this band is that the vocals don’t fit with the music at all, so most of the good songs are inevitably ruined by them. Still, Alexis Futoran has a great voice, so perhaps her capabilities as a vocalist might enable her to better mesh to the music in the future.”Witching Cloak” demonstrates this best, as she actually seems to use her vocal range to her advantage – it really has a haunting feel to it, but only makes one wish that the expression of such emotion was seen more throughout the album. The latter song also exemplifies the band’s finest display of songwriting, as it is completely devoid of the breakdowns and generic pop-punk parts seen throughout the rest of the album. West of Here clearly have a lot to work on, but they definitely have some potential.