Island City Records
Release Date: May 5, 2017
San Cisco (originally known as King George) formed in Fremantle, Western Australia in 2009. The four-piece Indie Pop band embrace pretty much everything that is fun about the current Pop scene and then lend it some street cred by embracing off-kilter hooks and quirky production bits. Indie Pop can go wrong for so many reasons, but San Cisco avoid the pitfalls by letting the melody shine through each song on The Water.
While I enjoy this album, it’s the synth pop bits that really get my motor runnin’. The title track is by far my favorite track here. It’s darker than a lot of the other tracks and reminds me of a cross between Client and Gary Numan. “Waiting for the Weekend” has a similar vibe. They are both dark, creative, and poppy as heck. “Make Me Electrify” has a Duran Duran vibe that I really dig, from the electronic drum fills to the haunting and melodic choruses. The head boppin’ “Hey Did I Do You Wrong” is another excellent moment here that is laid back and breezy, but still has a catchy hook.
Overall I really dig most of this album. I’m not as crazy about the more guitar-driven parts of the album, but those that really dig early Arcade Fire, MGMT, and Foster the People will likely find that those are their favorite parts. No matter how you slice it though, The Water is a pretty fun listen that will definitely appeal to Indie Pop aficionados and Synth lovers (or fans of any of the aforementioned bands).
Reviewed by mark1340
A Perfect Disarray
Release Date: April 7, 2017
I love Cleveland, OH and Leav/E/arth (formed in 2011 as Visionaries) is a great example of the diversity this town has to offer. It is a hot bed for all kinds of Rock music, even radio-friendly stuff. This album is full of big, emotional, rockers that continue in the vein that Evanscence, and to some degree Paramore, began exploring years ago.
A Perfect Disarray kicks off with “Memory,” a song that establishes right off the bat that these guys (and girl) can rock. The verses are emotional and dynamic while the chorus comes in and just pounds away at your brain. The rhythm section’s work on this song is particularly hard to get out of your head. “The Other Side” (which also has a moving piano-led version that ends the album on a somber note) and “Coming Back” utilize a lot of the same elements but the band sound so damn good that they avoid sounding like a one-trick pony. “Too Far Gone” is the highlight here for me when all is said and done. It’s ambient, slow build is gorgeous and as the song evolves it sort of wraps itself around you. The guitars seamlessly transition from ethereal to aggressive throughout, while the vocals soar above it all.
Leav/E/arth do an excellent job here of staying focused. They know what they do well and they really embrace it. There aren’t any random attempts at a Metal tune or a straight up Pop tune, which keeps the album flowing and cohesive throughout. I can imagine that this band will evolve a lot but they have certainly introduced themselves by putting their best foot forward. A Perfect Disarray is definitely an album worth your attention.
Reviewed by mark1340
He is Legend
Release Date: 4/28/17
He is Legend is back with the followup to 2014’s Heavy Fruit. This time around, the boys have joined forces with Spinefarm Records and taken their trademark sound up a notch. Boasting the thickest production values they have had in quite some time, Few, is an album full of mudstomps, swamp wailing, and brilliant melodies. To my ears, this is a very dissimilar album to Heavy Fruit, which surprised me a lot.
Few comes equipped with more than a handful of crisp, clear sounding anthems, beginning with the very first track, “Air Raid.” This track is a Rock and Roll stomper with a chorus full of sludgy piss. It reminds me a bit of Soundgarden’s late career work with all of its vocal mood swinging and musical time changes. “Beaufort,” “Jordan,” and “The Garden,” are riff-laden beasts that sound contemporary, yet distinctly He Is Legend. They are brighter than usual, yet also aggressive and catchy as hell! “The Vampyre” is my favorite track here and, while it also embraces the catchiness of the other tracks I mentioned, it’s a bit more intricate musically and leans more towards the Stoner/Sludge side of the band’s last couple of albums (particularly Heavy Fruit). That said, it’s got a lot more energy than anything on either of those albums.
Meanwhile, the band experiment a bit with the loungey feel of “Fritz the Dog”’s main verses (which are delightfully balanced by the heavy choruses). I’m pretty sure this dog struggles mentally. “Eastern Locust” gives you a little of that acid trip style that is balanced out by a heavy stomp that explodes into a radio-friendly chorus. To be honest, this song sorta blows my mind. It’s brilliant in execution but I bet it looks stupid on paper!
Overall, this is easily one of He is Legend’s best works. It feels a little less-themed than their other albums and I wonder if that isn’t what freed up their sound a bit. The band cover a lot of musical ground here, so much so that I’m surprised mainstream radio hasn’t given some love to a few of the tracks. If you enjoy bands like Wilson, Maylene & the Sons of Disaster, 16, and early between the Buried & Me then you should check out Few. You won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed by mark1340
A Little Less Put Together
Animal Style Records
Release Date: March 24, 2017
Arizona’s Sundressed is comprised of songwriter/vocalist Trever Hedges, drummer Garret Tretta, guitarists Forest Walldorf and Justin Leal, and bassist Justin Portillo. Apparently, the band was formed as an outlet and support for Hedges as he fought the battle to stay sober. The real story here is that these fine lads debut, A Little Less Put Together, is gonna make a damn fine mark on the Pop scene.
“Of Course” opens the album on a pretty low-key, yet enjoyable note. It’s an even-keeled little ditty that will make you instantly bob your head along and is topped off by a big, catchy chorus that makes you want to sing along. Another great moment here is “A Frankford Night” which starts out with an almost bluesy sway and builds into a classic-sounding Pop gem. The latter half of the songs features some nice vocal harmonies as well. Meanwhile, “Until We’ve Got Nothing” musically feels like a happy-go-lucky Emo song that features lyrics that make you feel like Hedges has opened his journal just for you. The best part, for me, is that Hedges can get his points across without ever sounding whiny or preachy about whatever it is he has to say at that moment.
Normally, this would be more up Rob1340’s alley than mine, but I stole it out from under him because I can’t stop listening. These are some talented dudes. Sundressed have a knack for offering catchy Pop tunes that make you feel hopeful and positive and satisfied, all the whole backing it up with solid musicianship. This album makes me feel a lot like I did the first time I heard Weezer, The Rocket Summer, and All-American Rejects.
Reviewed by mark1340
Life of Agony
A Place Where There’s No More Pain
Release Date: April 28, 2017
For the unfamiliar, Life of Agony is one of NYC’s premiere bands. Maybe their record sales don’t reflect that, but I dare you (the triple dog kind) to find any musician in heavy music that wouldn’t acknowledge their importance and their brilliance. Although the bulk of their work came in the nineties, the band has been on again/off again throughout the new millennium and their latest meet-up has given us A Place Where There’s No More Pain, the loooong-awaited follow up to Broken Valley.
“Meet My Maker” kicks of the album in classic LOA style. That NYC city bounce that Joey Z. is so good at (invented even?), immediately rises to the forefront as Caputo’s voice slithers around it. The same rings true for the title track as the band gets a little heavier. The rhythm section pushes the song along as Caputo’s voice soars over the top of it all before the hardcore leaning bridge leads you to the explosive chorus that you are salivating for! The title track, in my opinion, is the “Weeds”/ “How It Would Be”/”River Runs Red”/ “Love to Let You Down” of the album. It’s that standout track that you will ALWAYS come back to.
The driving “Bag of Bones” is another highlight here, offering a bit more of a straight up Rock bent and some of Caputo’s best vocal work to date. It’s a bit bluesy and very, very emotional. “Song For the Abused” is another standout track. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite tracks, but it manages to set itself apart with some more commercial sounding guitar work and some layered vocals that give it a slightly different feel from the rest of the album. The near-ambient “Little Spots of You” takes the album out on an odd note, featuring piano and Caputo’s canned sounding, almost spoken word vocals. It’s very similar to some of Caputo’s solo work and, while I don’t dislike it, it feels very out of place here.
I must admit that this one took a minute to grow on me. Truth is, I had gotten used to the rockier sound of Broken Valley over the years. A Place Where There’s No More Pain is sort of a mix of Broken Valley and Ugly and the more I listen the more enjoyable it gets. As with any LOA album, this just isn’t the kind of music that you can relegate to the background. It commands your attention and Mina Caputo’s emotional and honest lyrics need some time to sink in.
Reviewed by mark1340