Review Roundup: Elux Lucis, Football, etc., I Call Fives/Rust Belt Lights, Owen Pye, and Wage Slave
Elux Lucis – Thoughts on Thoughts of Thoughts
Like a lot of recent bands (Pianos Become the Teeth come to mind), one can’t really call Elux Lucis screamo, but the influence is quite obvious and essentially what makes them interesting. I will admit that even listening to Thoughts on Thoughts of Thoughts was a bit off-putting at first, as they have dirtier recordings than some of the dirtiest recordings I’ve heard, and they’re incredibly sloppy even though they’re playing quite simple music. I guess it’s just enough that they have something, as with young bands like this one mostly expects to see promise. Even though there are many active bands enthusiastic about the aesthetic, it’s always good to see young bands like this trying to keep the spirit of hardcore alive. Even when the bands aren’t quite as good as others at what they do, one almost feels inclined to like them because of this, as it gives the music a sort of human element – especially, for someone involved in something similar in their own city.
Perhaps, it’s also lucky that I’m a sucker for screamo, and that this band has a distinctive screamo edge to their sound – think La Quiete, but a lot more raw and closer to the style’s hardcore roots. Thoughts on Thoughts of Thoughts mostly suggests promise for the future of this band, but all things considered, also gives a solid first impression.
I’m sure the comparison has been made countless times by now, so I’ll start off by saying that Football, etc. really doesn’t sound all that much like American Football. Especially, as a huge fan of the latter, I think the comparison ends at the name; the instrumentation slightly so, but I’d be more inclined to compare them to Rainer Maria and mathier instrumentalists like Pele.
The band has had several minor releases up to now (such as the Away Game/XXL EP, which was reviewed by Hearwax’s Nick Gergesha) that all showed promise, and their full-length The Draft seems to offer more of the same. While previous releases like the aforementioned EP, First Down, and their split with Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) were too short to be repetitive, their 10-track full-length is like listening to all of those in one sitting, and definitely gets a bit tiring. They write good music, but The Draft really lacks in pacing – one of the greatest aspects of any kind of indie or “underground” music is variation, so seeing more of it on this record would have definitely made it more interesting. If we want repetition we can just turn on the radio.
The moment I got this split for review, I knew I Call Fives sounded familiar – lo and behold, I reviewed their album Bad Advice on Hearwax not too long ago. Back then I criticized how average they are, and that statement stands, because absolutely nothing about this band’s sound has changed. Not that this is bad, necessarily, but that and how vaguely I recall reviewing their previous record just shows how forgettable they are.
Frankly, Rust Belt Lights didn’t make a very memorable contribution either, but since I haven’t reviewed any of their albums before, I’ll give a more detailed response. “With No Hesitation” and “Haters Get Hated” are vocally comparable to the gruff style of bands like Latterman and The Dopamines, but the instrumentation is more in the style of typical mainstream pop punk. It seems that the mainstream strand of the subgenre hasn’t changed much since the dominance of bands like New Found Glory, Blink 182, and Brand New, because there are still just a few big names in the scene, and a bunch of other bands that emulate their style. I feel that this is the case with this split, and that while pop-punk like this is good fun, it just doesn’t have much to offer otherwise.
It’s always nice to see albums like The Truth About Man that rely less on the catchy hooks and choruses of typical rock song structures, but still make something interesting of a more laid back record. Especially considering that Owen Pye‘s debut If That’s Cool With You depended more on such vices, it is apparent that he has greatly improved in his craft. “I Must Exist” shows that there is considerable progression in the maturation of his sound, when compared to older songs like “California” and “A Song For a Girl” – not only in terms of subject matter, but in writing songs that sound more polished. I’m reminded of bands like R.E.M. and Counting Crows when listening to this record, but it also compares to modern acts like Bon Iver in its atmospheric feel.
In terms of the record sounding more polished, however, the production could definitely do with improvement. It has a very flat quality to it overall, and better production would give much more of a drive to Owen Pye’s music. The album could also do with improvement in pacing, as “Aches and Pains” seems an underwhelming closer compared to how other tracks might have fared. Overall, The Truth About Man is a solid record and definitely one of the most interesting I’ve heard, so far this year. There is still considerable room for improvement, but I like where he seems headed.
It really pains me to see good musicians playing average music, as is the case with Wage Slave‘s self-titled EP. They’re reminiscent of The Red Chord in their vocal style and grindy-deathcore riffing, but they’re just inferior writers. “Chambered” ends the EP and they shift more to the grind side of their sound, which shows one of the only things they do well on the record – as short as it is, the songs are long enough for them to have some variation from song to song , and thus show different aspects of their sound. Perhaps they would fare better on a full-length release because of this, but they’d really have to step it with writing more interesting and engaging hooks, riffs, melodies, sections…hell, just about anything.