Boston Calling Music Festival Review, May 2016

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Boston Calling Music Festival
May 27th, 28th, and 29th
City Hall Plaza; Boston, Massachusetts

Even before the first note was played, we went into Boston Calling last weekend knowing it would be the biggest one yet.

Early Friday morning, the heads of the festival revealed that this May would not only be 2016’s only edition, but also the final installment of Boston Calling to take place at City Hall Plaza. In an effort to expand the festival in both size and what it offers, this year was a bit of a trial run before making the big move in 2017. With the addition of a smaller stage tucked into the back, a handful of local music acts and comics performed throughout the day, lending a sample of what we can expect next time around – more stages, with more to see.

But, hey, that’s not for another year. Another long, long, what-are-we-going-to-do-with-no-festival-this-September year.

Let’s talk about this year, here’s what you missed; the Good, The Bad, and the Uhhh….

Continue reading Boston Calling Music Festival Review, May 2016

Review:: Damage With Care | Moving Units

Moving Units proved to be ahead of their time marrying dance music and punk since 2002; the vocals glorifying this unique union. Now with their fourth album Damage With Care out, the band has found a home with their catchy electronica-like tunes with guitars and drums turning rock shows into dance parties.

It’s a winning formula of indie vocals, EDM, and low-key rock melodies that’s found throughout their latest album that is sure to keep all types of fans coming back for more – whether it’s at Coachella or at an underground club. The album’s opener “Hyatt Girls” kicks off with explosive catchy tunes and the singe of indie-punk energy that is familiar with longtime fans. The song is the highlight that’s able to turn the craziest mosh pit into
the emo kid’s version of a dance party.

The energy mellows down through the rest of the tracks and is heavily influenced by indie-pop notes. The listener is carried into a journey of very similar songs that work together like a story.  Low key synth beats with the shrill thrums of guitar in “War on the Floor” and “Teacher” create consistent beats to keep any beach party going til’ dawn. “Fragile Magic” has a futuristic sound that’s a bit edgier contrary to the name while the album closes with “House of Dolls,” a more disco-like song not signaling the finality but asking for one more time and maybe for another replay.

Moving Units is all about the art of bringing some dance to the rock aspect.  Every song is only one piece of a very solid album begging to be played over and over again.  The melodies on Damage With Care are enough to get your feet moving and head shaking, but the eerie vocals bring an unexpected element that really brings together contrasted interests. It’s hard to pick just any song to single out that shines above the rest.

Release Date: April 8th, 2016
Run Time: ~33 minutes
Rating: 3.5/5

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Track listing:
1. Hyatt Girls
2. Opposite of Rhyming
3. Wishful Thinking
4. American Infantile
5. I Don’t Mind
6. Fragile Magic
7. Going Out
8. War on the Floor
9. Teacher
10. House of Dolls

Review:: Night Argent EP | Night Argent

It’s almost summer time, and out on my side of the earth (California), it’s creeping faster than normal. If I’m being honest, summer is my least favorite time of year. I’ve never been a fan of the heat, and I tend to gravitate more towards the crisp fall air and the sound of rain tapping on the windows. But at the same time, there’s something oddly comforting and exciting about this time of year. It’s easy to have a romanticized perception of summertime, but one of my favorite pastimes is just to drive. Even if it’s
just down the highway, having a small taste of escape while cruising around, windows down and music blasting, is always welcomed.  I’ve discovered some of my favorite bands and albums while driving, and that sense is always seemingly heightened during the summer months. Night Argent has become another one of those bands for me. Their self-titled EP is as infectious as it is creative, and it’s the perfect fit for those summer night drives.

Continue reading Review:: Night Argent EP | Night Argent

Show Review:: The Mindsweep Tour 4/17

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The Mindsweep Tour
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Ace of Spades; Sacramento, CA
Written by Bryce Hoffman

I’m going to level with you, Internet reader. Prior to this show, I had listened to a grand total of 3 Enter Shikari songs. I know, I know. Why am I the one writing a review on their live show? In some ways, sure, I’m the least qualified person to be writing this piece right now. I’m sure there are other attendees who would be much better suited for this task. I had heard the opening bands before (The White Noise and Hands Like Houses, which I’ll get to in a second), so I knew what they sounded like and there was a level of anticipation in that regard. Enter Shikari was a band I had certainly heard of, but just never really listened to. Until after this show. Look, when you can walk into a show having no idea what the headliner sounds like, and can leave that same show equal parts impressed, energized, and on your phone syncing their latest album on Apple Music so you can listen on the way home, then clearly this is a band worth paying attention to.
Continue reading Show Review:: The Mindsweep Tour 4/17

Review:: Scan The Blue | exmagician

There’s nothing to make you feel so powerless as complaining about the weather.

I really want it to be spring. It seemed like it would be a few times already, when the temperature and the sun have collaborated together to make a March day lovely, once or twice. And then, to my utter dismay, we’re back to the bite of winter.

It’s not that I don’t like winter. Winter can be great. And I realize that hoping for an early spring feels like hoping for global warming, which much smarter people than I say will doom us all. But in this early April, I am just so ready to sit on my porch, and ride my bike, and look up at the expanse of blue without having to wear a jacket, because for the past few days, I’ve been listening to exmagician’s excellent debut album, Scan The Blue, and dammit I just want to be outside all the time.

Continue reading Review:: Scan The Blue | exmagician

Show Review: Taking Back Tuesday 4/19

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Emo Night LA: Taking Back Tuesday
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Hell, The Masquerade; Atlanta, GA

After a year of watching friends on the West Coast attend Emo Night, I was beyond excited to see Taking Back Tuesday finally head south to Atlanta on April 19. Bringing together a few hundred 20-somethings, the night was filled with the songs that made us cry and feel things as teens. Despite the night getting off to a shaky start – I never want to hear “club goin’ up on a Tuesday” ever again – it was Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” that got the party started. Which, for anyone who knows me, is the perfect way to
start a party.

As the Emo Night crew spun hits by Hawthorne Heights, Say Anything, and other hitmakers from the mid-2000s, scattered expletives and raised drinks could be heard and seen as former scene kids recognized the songs of their youth. The invitation to take the stage was taken advantage of as several people made themselves stage regulars to lead singalongs while reaching out to grab hands and going all out to perform to old favorites, like “Seventy Times Seven,” “The Black Parade,” and more. I took advantage of this myself on multiple occasions, fulfilling a dream of mine to sing “Misery Business” on
stage (with a handful of strangers, no biggie) and turning up to Panic! At the
Disco’s breakout, “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies.” Here’s a picture to prove it – taken by Ryan Purcell.

Other highlights of the night included a pit starting on stage to “Fat Lip,” a dancer popping and tutting all night, and a rousing singalong to MCR featuring a dude dressed in his best bulletproof vest.

A few internet celebs were in attendance, such as Aaron Chewning and Sara Hopkins, but it was Cartel’s drummer and Atlanta native Kevin Sanders’ presence that got the crowd hyped as “Honestly” rang through the speakers.

Though Emo Night boasts merch with slogans like “Sad as Fuck” or “ride or cry,” I left in higher spirits than I came. Even though the music still gets to me and makes me emotional from time to time, there’s nothing like being in a room full of people who feel the same way as you, singing the songs that said what you needed to hear as a teenager. For just a moment, everyone was back in high school and thoughts about bills, work, and school were tossed aside to dust off lyrics memorized back in the days of straightened hair and studded belts.

Needless to say, Taking Back Tuesday’s first night in Atlanta was one to remember. Hands down.

Review:: Cardinal | Pinegrove

It’s not very nice for me to write about a band that people have barely heard of, that is just now releasing their first album with a proper record label, by talking about how lonely their sound is. I’m sure that the Montclair, NJ natives that make up Pinegrove would love to have many more fans and be making much more money, and to my ears, they surely deserve to.

But the best thing about Cardinal, Pinegrove’s short-but-sweet 8-song album, is the feeling that you might be listening to it alone, because the emotion it delivers is hand-wrapped in your own special package. The lyrics are conversational, direct in their words if not always their intentions. Singer Evan Stephen Hall has a nice voice, but he
never seems completely sure if he’s singing, letting an ache trespass into the musicality, along with a slight drawl that seems somewhat at odds with the band’s New Jersey roots.

The band’s sound feels that way as well, with a slight twang that betrays a deep American-ness, without being placed in any specific part of the country. There’s an almost country-ish sound in their music, differentiating their indie-rock with a little wistfulness. Though the band is relentlessly electric in their instrumentation, letting guitars crunch and drums smack while the bass thuds along, the structure of the songs can make them seem so very sparse, almost acoustic.

On no song is this feeling of sparseness used to better effect than on the second track, “Cadmium,” starting out with just a few weak ringing notes on the guitar and Hall’s voice, letting that ache do the work for a whole band, before coming together as the band that complements the sound of that wistful voice. Restraint is used to the best effect in the instrumentation—even when the sound becomes full enough to fill a room by the chorus, it never feels anything less than intimate, and no sound feels extraneous.

Pinegrove are starting to have a moment, moving out of Montclair to tour the country, and getting applause from critics with much more impressive resumes than mine. I imagine that people will soon start having heard of them. It makes you wonder at the power of intimacy, whether the band that sounds so great for their loneliness and their individuality can keep it up when playing to the largest of rooms.

It’s this feeling of restraint that makes any such worry absurd. Their music is beautiful in its solitude no matter how many instruments are playing. Pinegrove is able to be direct and close, imminent and personal, no matter how big their audience may become. Rather than sounding like a band you have to seek out, they sound like a band that’s singing specifically to you.

Release Date: February 12, 2016
Rating: 4/5
Run Time: ~30 minutes

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Track Listing:
1. Old Friends
2. Cadmium
3. Then Again
4. Aphasia
5. Visiting
6. Waveform
7. Size Of The Moon
8. New Friends

Written by Jon Hecht

Review:: Portrait | Cardiknox

Before I get started, I’ll say two quick things.
One – I have made no effort to ever hide my love for Forgive Durden’s Razia’s Shadow. It’s easily in my Top Five. And there will surely be a few mentions of it in the coming
paragraphs. Two – man, it’s great to have Thomas Dutton making music again. Here’s why:

On the debut album from glam-pop duo Cardiknox, made up of Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton, of the now-defunct aforementioned Forgive Durden, the pair packs California sun and New York City ambition into a dozen tracks, each one as infectious as the last.

Continue reading Review:: Portrait | Cardiknox

Review:: Outgrown Things | Movements

I’ve always liked how Fearless Records handle their new signees. Where major labels will sometimes sign bands to deals off of the strength of a single, the independent Fearless has been known to have their rookies release EPs before delving into full-length territory. I don’t know why I like it so much, but I do. Maybe it’s because I don’t see it very much (though, if other labels are doing it too, I apparently don’t notice) or maybe
it’s because it’s a way of testing the water, who knows.

One thing that I do know is that, more often than not, these previews are a look at some of the best up-and-coming bands out there. This time around, with Orange County
four-piece Movements, we could be getting our first taste at something special.

The short EP quickly gets things moving, with a sharp guitar intro to “Kept” turning the ignition. Vocalist Patrick Miranda’s voice is a seamless mix of clean and gritty, with heavy screams woven in and out between softer vocals. With the open, storytelling penmanship and vocals that are at times more spoken-word than singing, Movements are sure to draw up comparisons to La Dispute or mewithoutYou.

Midway through, Outgrown Things hits its highest mark. Each member gives a highlight performance – Cressey’s basswork rumbles heavily along beneath Miranda’s strongest lyricism on the release, which is saying something for a release with better-than-average songwriting throughout. I don’t often pull individual lines out from songs to discuss, but with the combination of the words and their deliveries, a few struck me like lightning:
“I guess I’ve always slept better in an empty bed.”
“Hang me in the closet with the rest of your outgrown things”
“A thousand miles and I still feel you like the thorn in my side / Running from my problems never worked, but I’m still lengthening my stride.”

On “Vacant Home,” Miranda sings a line that encapsulates the release as a whole. Looped in the background, he pleads “this vulnerability has left my struggling.” But it’s that vulnerability and that struggle that makes Outgrown Things such a success. The doubt and the questioning and all of those negative, introspective emotions carry weight during every second here. Whether it’s the worry that vision is always better in hindsight, or trying to force shattered pieces to fit together, the openness here is the real strength.

I can’t say for sure what or when we’ll be hearing from Movements next, but with what they’ve delivered on Outgrown Things, I’m confident that it won’t disappoint. We’re
pretty early into 2016, but we may have just been introduced to one of the
year’s best new bands.

Release Date: March 11th, 2016
Rating: 3.85/5
Run Time: ~20 minutes
Check Out: “Worst Wishes,” “Nineteen,” “Hatchet”

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Track listing:
1. “Kept”
2. “Nineteen”
3. “Worst Wishes”
4. “Hatchet”
5. “Vacant Home”
6. “Losing Fight”

Review:: Dissonants | Hands Like Houses

There is an atmospheric sound coming from Hands Like Houses’ new album Dissonants. This full-length album is self-assured, loud, and confident; it is everything to love about music.

The dynamics of Thrice, the moody vibes from Deftones, and the heart-on-sleeve ambition from Thursday have influenced this Australian group. From schoolmates to an international rock band, Hands Like Houses have been hard-hitting stages all over the world. They have played Warped Tour twice and have toured with Pierce the Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, A Day to Remember, and The Amity Affliction, to name a few.

Continue reading Review:: Dissonants | Hands Like Houses