Review:: The Collective and The Individual | The Elephant In The Room

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The Collective & the Individual is the new full length album from The Elephant in the Room, a progressive rock/pop band from New Jersey. The 11 song album was produced by Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter. The band’s Facebook page, they list Rx Bandits and The Mars Volta as influences and it makes perfect sense. Even before seeing those bands listed I immediately made a connection to them. Each song is haunting melodic like The Mars Volta, progressive reggae rock like Rx Bandits, or a hybrid of the two. The final sound is extremely unique and works better than I could have ever imagined.

The opening track on the album, “Left in the Dark”, is an example of the aforementioned haunting melodies. The almost creepy sound when combined with the lyrics and the fantastic backing vocals makes for a great song. Songs like “Monster” and “Never Believe What You’re Told” are similar in style but different enough to where you don’t feel like they are extensions of the same track.

Then you’ve got songs like “Actions Speak Louder than Words”, “Makers Mark”, and “Sky People” which are more along the lines of the more reggae rock sound. Again though, you’re hit with some great and interesting lyrics, for example the phrase “human cybernetic mind control” is most certainly uttered in “Sky People”.

The best songs on the album are probably the ones that successfully meld the different sounds into one great sound of i’s own. Tracks like “Ghosts”, “What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You”, and “P-ts” are some of my favorites on the album and are clearly a well-executed amalgamation of the differing styles. You really do get the best of both worlds, somehow getting the darker tones with still a beat of driving reggae rock sound.

Kudos to both the band and producer for this album; they’ve put together an amazing sounding album that is clearly their own.  I could just be out of the loop, but I’ve not heard anything like this. They’ve done such a remarkable job of taking melodies and tones that can easily be combative with each other and turn them into an interesting fusion with creative and strong lyrics. This is most certainly an album that I’ll be recommending to people.

Release Date: October 29th, 2013
Rating: 4/5
Runtime: ≈41 minutes

Track List:
1. Left in the Dark
2. Monsters
3. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
4. Neither Here Nor There
5. Ghosts
6. P-ts
7. Sky People
8. Makers Mark
9. What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You
10. Never Believe What You’re Told
11. We Will Meet Again

The Elephant in the Room is:
Alfred Vitale – Vocals / Guitar
Joseph Savino Jr. – Guitar / Vocals
Greg Szaro – Drums
Jared Duncan – Bass


Written By: Mark Northern

Review:: The Introduction | Viv and the Revival

Chances are that you’ve head a song from Viv and the Revival, you just might not realize it. The one man band from Philadelphia has had its music played on the likes of NBC, ESPN, and MTV, in films and in commercials. This is a trend that is likely to continue with the release of the band’s full length album, The Introduction.

It’s impossible to describe what the band, or album for that matter, sounds like. Each song seems different from the next with styles varying from rock, to pop punk, and even hip hop. What does remain the same throughout the album, however, is Viv Peyrat’s clearly amazing song crafting ability.

A song like “Fire” is crafted to pop perfection.  Right from the start of the song you’re bulldozed by an infection melody and before you get a chance to recover you’ll find yourself steamrolled with a catchy hook.  Then you’ve got a song like “Criminals”, which is essentially the story of Jane, Johnny and their love.  A slower, smoother, and much deeper track all together.

If you told me that “Welcome to a Good Time” was a new song from a top hip hop artist, I wouldn’t doubt you in the slightest. This is a clearly hip hop inspired party song and it is unbelievably infectious.  The most balanced and maybe my favorite song on the album is “Rocket to Mars”. It takes a little bit of every other song on the album and melds it together into a fun, catchy, Andrew McMahon-esqe track.

One of the producers on The Introduction was Grammy-nominated Rick Friedrich, who has worked with the likes of Kanye West and Rihanna; it shows. Names like that may make you think that this is a straight pop album, which might turn some people off; it isn’t. I guarantee that there is something for everyone on this album and in my opinion there are far more hits than misses on the album.

Release Date: October 8th, 2013
Rating: 3.75/5
Runtime: 36 minutes

Track List:
1. I Want It
2. Criminals
3. Welcome to a Good Time
4. Nikki
5. Shook Up
6. Fire
7. Forever
8. Rocket to Mars
9. Taxi Man
10. Playing with Fire
11. Tonight We Live Like Kings

Written By: Mark Northern

Review:: Young Lore | Night Riots

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I’m always cautiously optimistic whenever I receive a new album to review. There are so many great bands and sounds that I’ve never had the opportunity to hear, but there is also some really bad stuff out there too. Really bad. I am happy to say that the new Young Lore EP by Night Riots is about as far away from bad as you could possibly get.

I must admit, I’m so much in my own little world that I had never heard of the band under their current name or their former name (PK). I may be late to the party, but they’ve definitely earned a new fan in me. This six song EP has more genuinely amazing songs than most full length albums can manage. More importantly, most of these songs could be a legitimate hit.

Songs like “Back to your Love”, “Remedy”, “Masks”, “Loyal Blood”, and the title track “Young Lore” could easily be added to any radio stations rotation without missing a beat. The amazing thing is that none of them seem formulaic or even sound that similar to the others. These songs have a great combination of strong lyrics, fun music, and catchy hooks, while still being certifiably rock and roll.

That’s not to take away from “Spiders” as it is an impressive song in its own right. It’s not nearly as poppy as the other songs, but it does a superb job of setting a darker tone; one that bleeds over into “Masks” a bit. What “Spiders” lacks in pop, it more than makes up for in pure awesomeness.

The best way I could describe this EP is to say it sounds like a love baby of The Killers and Two Door Cinema Club who grew up listening to The Cure and U2. It is a really great sound and it would definitely surprise me if this EP doesn’t get some serious buzz around it. What’ve I’ve heard from them as PK sounded like Brandon Flowers as part of a Drive-Thru Records band, which is still amazing but it isn’t quite what you’re going to get with Young Lore. While still incredibly catchy at times, this EP comes off as a bit more of a ‘grown up’ sound.

Do yourself a favor and check this album out immediately. I may never forgive myself for taking so long to hear them.

Release Date: July 30th, 2013
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Runtime: ≈22 minutes

Track List:
1. Back to your Love
2. Remedy
3. Spiders
4. Masks
5. Loyal Blood
6. Young Lore

Lineup:
Travis Hawley – Vocals
Nick Fotinakes – Guitar
Mikel Van Kranenburg – Bass
Matt DePauw – Guitar
Rico Rodriguez – Drums


Written By: Mark Northern

Review:: Nickels & Dimes | Machines Are People Too

Go ahead and put your dance pants on. Go on. I’ll wait.

Good? Good.

“Nickels & Dimes”, the new EP from Machines Are People Too is a fun and dancey good time. The moment “Get Up”, the first track, begins to play the infectious synth-pop sound of this albums injects itself into your veins. You’ll dance, I promise.

This EP reminded me a lot of The Killers, specifically the songs “Wait”“Do What You Love” and “Our Time” (an iTunes bonus track). Similarly visions of The Format/fun and Andrew McMahon came to mind on several of the tracksnotably “I’m Alright” and “Can’t Keep Running”. This isn’t a bad thing at all.

To nitpick on the EP for a brief moment, most of the songs sound very similar and the songs don’t offer much substance in the lyric department. That being said, that isn’t what a sound like this is about. If you want deep lyrics, listen to something else. If you want to have a good time, play this EP.

It is incredibly easy to imagine this in clubs or parties with people on the dance floor. Every song on this album is catchy and repetitive, a solid recipe for a Top 40 hit.

I enjoyed what this EP had to offer and can accept it for what it is. I don’t believe the artists were looking for anything more than fun synth-pop jams, and as far as I’m concerned it was well executed. Consider this album the summer blockbuster movie of your playlist; ultimately it is just a good time.

Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
Rating: 4/5
Runtime: 22:25


Tracklist:
1. Get Up
2. 
Wait
3. 
I’m Alright
4. Do What You Love
5. Can’t Keep Running
6. Our Time (iTunes Bonus Track)

Lineup:
Bryan Sylvester– Vocals
Cain Lassiter 
 Keys
Ivan Garcia – Drums
JJ Clark – Bass

Written By: Mark Northern