Review:: The Lenses We See Life Through | Clay Cages


I’m a sucker for concept records.
The focus that goes into them, the sort of tunnel-vision
writing that it takes to continue with one constant story or theme, it’s always
such an interesting approach and it’s one that I and my oft-scattered thought
patterns commend. Though it’s not a new idea whatsoever, it’s one that always
stands out when it makes an appearance.

Nashville’s Clay Cages returned this year for their
sophomore EP The Lenses We See Life
a five-chapter representation of one’s progression throughout
stages of life.

“Permanence” begins with smooth, echoing guitars as drums
filter their way in. The music softly builds, gently guiding into the light
both lyrically and in tempo. The bridge leads in with “I wonder what these eyes
will see / Just breathe it in.” repeated a handful of times. Tempo following
along with lyrics is a strong way of supporting the album’s conceptual path,
with the aforementioned lines backed by an increased speed, or a
softly-whispered “Patience … Slow things down. Look up, look around,” later
bringing the backing music to a rumbling crawl. Something that I missed on my
first listen, this was a beautiful technique that came about from a closer
listen and that I’m glad I caught a second time through.

Where “Permanence” is patient, allowing itself to build and
grow, “Burning” is anxious and eager, diving in without testing the water. An
anti-love-song, the subject frantically runs through the situations and memories
of a relationship and breakup. The opening verse races in, with our character
seeing the object of his affection and their eyes lighting up his sky as he
shouts “I’m in love!” A sudden tempo shift, and “life moves slower now, days
look the same … growing dependant on dependency.”  
“Am I really alone again?”
“… Am I broken or bent?”
“… Was it all just a punishment?”

The final one hundred seconds or so (about half) of the song
is a nearly-endless stream of questions and fast, succinct sentences, showing
us the deterioration within the character’s head. Song times aren’t necessarily a telling piece of an album,
but it shouldn’t go without saying that this sharp, fast, second-guessing recap
of a fleeting fling is also the shortest track here.

In the span of twenty minutes (give or take a few pesky
seconds), Clay Cages craft a beautiful story of the travelling we all do
throughout our lives. We’re introduced to the world; we learn, we grow, we
plan, we question, love, battle, doubt, fear. Things come full-circle, loose
ends get tied, endings are started. The
Lenses We See Life Through
not only encompasses a life’s story, but helps
me form an opinion on this band that also reflects how we should approach each
day – eager to see what comes next.

Release Date: November 20, 2015 
Run Time: ~21 minutes
Rating: 4.25/5
For Fans Of: The Junior Varsity, Saosin, Boys Night Out

Track listing:
1. “Permanence”
2. “Stained Glass”
3. “Rust”
4. “Burning”
5. “Holidays and Strangers”

Written by Eric Riley

Review:: Sound/No Sound | The Company We Keep

There is a massive section in my heart dedicated to Boys Night Out. Trainwreck is one of the best albums that I’ve ever heard. Every second of that record bursts with story, emotion, and talent, resonating long after the album comes to a close.

Now, The Company We Keep, which features the multi-talented Brian Southall, one of the components of that masterpiece, has emerged with a full-length debut album, Sound / No Sound – a powerful collection of electronic pop/rock from a collaborative supergroup effort.

While the lyrics and melodies were written by Motion City Soundtrack’s Justin Pierre, the vocal execution by Haden Brightwell does them a great justice. (sidenote: a recent update from the band states that on their upcoming tour, while Brightwell is unavailable, ex-BNO keyboardist and vocalist Kara Dupuy will be filling in, touring with Southall for the first time since the band’s split).

Variation is a constant throughout Sound / No Sound. Whether it’s the instrumental intermission “The Guardian,” the quick, theatric “Exposed,” the electropop gem that is “Miles Away,” or anything else in between, the eleven songs here provide for eleven separate experiences.

Like I had mentioned earlier, Brightwell gives a stellar vocal performance on the record. But, when heard nearly on its own on the album’s finale “Closure,” backed by sleigh bells, looped guitar, and simple drumming, her voice soars as she carries the album to its close.

Sound / No Sound is not like other albums you’ll hear this year. The Company We Keep make strides towards an individualized sound while still capturing an accessible style. The record is a compilation of the diverse musical histories of its members, leading to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. (And if that sounded insulting, my mistake, because it really wasn’t supposed to.)

Release Date: October 29th, 2013
Rating: 3.50/5
Runtime: 38:27

1. Control
2. I Will Be What Haunts You Most
3.  Miles Away (Get Me Out Of Here)
4.  Shadowing
5.  Held Together
6.  The Guardian
7.  Rabbit Without A Hat
8.  Deserter
9.  Exposed
10. The Better Half Of Nothing
11. Closure

Haden Brightwell  – Vocals
Brian Southall – Guitar, bass, programming
Justin Pierre – Guitar
Branden Morgan – Drums

Written By: Eric Riley