Review Roundup: Boris Smile, Cloud Mouth, KTHRSIS, Nothing Amazing Happens Here and Spring Offensive
Bands like Boris Smile make me realize something (which is furthered by the review below this one) – I am more likely to side with the band that creates pissed-off music, instead of the one that has cheerful vocal melodies and clap alongs (“Into Town”). I can appreciate everything that Boris Smile bring to the table on My Love – and objectively speaking, this twenty-three (!) track record is solid in all aspects.
And yet, it just doesn’t do anything for me. It doesn’t make me feel anything. I can hear the music, I can tell what and where the band is coming from emotionally, but beyond that there is nothing.
“He’s a robot.”
That said, the composition of the record – as a whole – is phenomenal. Each track plays almost like an individual scene in a film – semi-interludes like “Council of the Brains” really give this impression. On that note, I could really see Boris Smile writing the score for a future hipster-indie comedy.
The statement made by “Waves”, That Ghost…‘s opening track, is an obvious one – Cloud Mouth is a heavy and raw post-hardcore/screamo hybrid. With all the staples in tact, this is a record that still manages to surprise; whether it is because it is heavier than anything I have heard from Count Your Lucky Stars Records, or because the band doesn’t let the distortion get in the way of wearing their hearts on their sleeves.
While “Waves”‘s successor (“Take Me Out Into the Cold”) lacks some of the punch of the intro, “Shark Week” comes back with dissonant and bass-driven riffing that is emotionally and rhythmically effective – some really off-kilter stuff going on here. “The Dream is Dead” and closer “Down Init” pound away with floor tom-focused drum patterns and thick bass, the latter climaxing with a fairly chaotic sequence.
That Ghost is Always With Me is a definite surprise. I never expected something this heavy to be released through CYLS – and I’m definitely not mad about it. This is a great release with a lot to give to old-school screamo and hardcore fans.
Even though For West Haven starts with a sample of Usher‘s “DJ Got Us Fallin in Love”, KTHRSIS has created a mash-up record that is for the nostalgic 20-somethings that just have to hear NSYNC and Biggie Smalls together – seriously (“ByeByeBiggie”, a track that also prominently features Paramore, with Ghostface Killah, Missy Elliott – a frequent contributor – and Ludacris making appearances). Not to mention that the chorus Bad Religion‘s “21st Century (Digital Boy)” ends up overtop of the previously mentioned Usher sample. KTHRSIS also gets props for using (personal favourite) Third Eye Blind‘s “Semi-Charmed Life”, even if the mash-up with Lil’ Mama doesn’t hit as hard as you would think.
It is easy to write-off the mash-up “genre” as a whole, but For West Haven is actually different. KTHRSIS takes some chances (Vampire Weekend follows up that NSYNC/Biggie mash-up that is mentioned above, while Chiodos and Deftones appear as well later on), and is often – but not always – awarded. Yes, like Girl Talk, plenty of expected (semi) current tracks make their way onto the record (some are the same, but that is hard to avoid), but KTHRSIS thinks outside of the box, which is enough to make For West Haven worthy of your attention.
I imagine that if Nothing Amazing Happens Here didn’t sound like they were coming through a tin can a mile away, that there would be some cool stuff happening on the semi-sarcastically (I hope) titled Highly Conceptual Performance Art.
From what I can make out, both the band and album titles are accurate in their own right; sometimes NAHH is underwhelming (“Moody” and “Burroughs” are feeble attempts at post-something), and sometimes they form interesting rhythms and vocal patterns (“Winter Was Freezing” and “Paleo” are a bit poppier, and achieve more as a result).
This is an odd release. On one hand, if you want to crank your headphones way up, you will catch some worthwhile musicianship here and there. On the other, a record sounding this bad is difficult to take seriously. Here’s hoping whatever NAHH brings to the table next will be a bit more bearable, so we can really see what they have to offer.
Fans of Death Cab for Cutie, take note: Spring Offensive are from England and are going to be right up your alley.
If you aren’t familiar with Death Cab, they are somewhere in between post-rock (as demonstrated by their musicianship) and indie rock (as demonstrated by their vocals). These sentiments can be used to described Spring Offensive. To be fair, Pull Us Apart is more aggressive than Codes and Keys (which is apparent mostly on the vocally-driven “Every Coin”).
The post-rock influenced side is shown on “Everything Other than This”, a track that features some familiar guitar leads and structure. With that, vocals set Spring Offensive apart – not just from instrumental post-rock – but from most other indie rock bands of similar build, reaching into ’80s New Wave at times. That said, they get a bit tiresome at times. It would be nice to let the music breathe a little bit.
Pull Us Apart is a solid effort that will draw interest from fans of Death Cab. Other than that, its mix of post-rock and indie is hit or miss and, ultimately, quite forgettable.