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Mysteries – New Age Music Is Here

I am back with a review of something quite fundamentally different from what’s been featured in our music department lately! An obscure trio called Mysteries has appeared on my radar and I’m excited to present their upcoming debut New Age Music Is Here today.

As the name suggests, Mysteries have a deliberately enigmatic presence. I can’t work with real names, faces, personal backgrounds and concrete locations in this review, which seems to be part of a concept to let listeners focus on the music without drawing attention to the people making it. I recently read an interview with British indie rockers Alt-J, who apparently wanted to go that same route at the beginning of their career, but had a change of mind when their ever-growing concert audience started cluttering their Google results with unflattering cellphone pictures. So while I find the anonymous approach really refreshing, I feel it’s appropriate to cross my fingers that we will one day be able to put faces to Mysteries, as well.

For now, let’s ignore the mystery and move on to the music. New Age Music Is Here is a little out of my musical comfort zone and it took some serious getting used to the first time round, but boy, has it penetrated my brain since. With its spellbinding mix of industrial, electronic, ambient, post-punk and at times even trip-hop elements, it’s one of the more unique things to hit my eardrums as of late. It sounds like it might be inspired by the Blade Runner soundtrack, and the vocals have a Tears For Fears meets Future Islands vibe, which adds to the intense and dark nature of the album. All of this, coupled with sombre synthesizer keys galore, is a formula at a high risk of veering into cheesy territory (and not always in a charming 80s way), but these guys confidently lay it on thick and make it work with pure skill. They left nothing to chance, as this is an extremely clever, clean and calculated record.

Mysteries‘ carefully crafted ambient pop probably doesn’t hit the mark for everyone, but I encourage the curious sceptics to open up their minds and give it a spin, ’cause it really took me by surprise just how much I ended up loving it. They certainly venture out of the conventional indie box and take risks, and do it so well that I can’t help but tip my proverbial hat to them and spread the word!

New Age Music Is Here is out on the 28th of October on Felte. You can have a sneak listen on Bandcamp or Soundcloud, pay the band a visit on Facebook and pre-order the album on iTunes.

Wank For Peace – Fail Forward

Wank For Peace. If that concept was actually working, the recent celebrity nudes leak would probably have brought peace to the Middle East and, most of all: what a fucking amazing name to call your band! I won’t lie that the name of the French hardcore punks was the only reason that I checked out their new record Fail Forward, but in hindsight I have to say that I would have missed out…so good on them!

The second full length by the quintet is mostly past-paced, good-mood-inducing, melodic hardcore punk that simply managed to suck me in from my first listen-through. Quite frankly, the thirteen songs won’t win any awards for being the most technical, the most innovative or even the best written ones ever…however, they have something by far more important: genuineness and energy!

On the instrumental side, the dominant word is definitely speed; something that is present in both the guitar work and the drumming. The fact that the bass is clearly audible all throughout the thirty-four minutes is another plus in my book, since it provides that little extra touch with its groove.

In the vocal department, you are treated to heartfelt screams and the genre trademark gang shouts, so nothing groundbreaking here. On the other hand, I have to tip my hat to the singer, since he does an amazing job at actually making you feel the lyrics with his raw and powerful voice. Another interesting side-note: the song titles made me chuckle quite a few times. These guys don’t lack humor that’s for sure.

Wank For Peace have discovered the perfect formula of having an eye-catching name to get your attention and solid music to keep you interested, which is why I’m quite sure that they won’t disappear anytime soon. While I don’t expect them to headline any major music festivals, then again I’m pretty sure that’s not one of their priorities, I am convinced that they will manage to convince many more listeners out there of their talent. If you want to be one of those, be sure to go their Facebook page and listen to the record below!

Trash Monday CXXXVI

The name of the band explains the weird, but awesome, video clip. Remember, kids: drugs are bad, m’kay?

Marmozets – The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets

Let me ask you: do you like female-fronted pop punk bands à la Paramore but always felt like there’s that extra little spice that is missing? Seek no longer, because you have just found your perfect sound in Marmozets! The fairly young band from England has just released its debut full-length The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets on September 29th and let me tell you: it’s a pure blast!

The quintet, which is composed of three and two siblings, has been around for a bit more than half a decade but has only recently gained wide-spread attention when they signed to Roadrunner Records. Naturally, with this there is a certain hype attached to them now but this is one of those instances where I can completely acknowledge and confirm that they’re absolutely worth it.

The thirteen tracks all have a very pop-punkey feel to them with beautiful melodies and great hooks, but just when you think you know what’s coming next they will surprise you with a massive groove-laden part or a super heavy riff that will stomp you to the ground while still maintaining a certain “happy” vibe. Naturally, there are also a couple of slower songs but even those stand out with their intense atmosphere.

The singer delivers a breath-taking performance all throughout the forty-five minutes and her vocal range spans beautifully sung clean vocals equally well as screams and a handful of growls. There are also some soulful parts thrown in as well as some naughty-sounding bits, which completes the auditive spectrum perfectly. Beside the brilliant voice, the lyrics are also slightly atypical since they deal with darker topics, as one is used to in this genre, such as alcoholism and similar issues. Definitely a nice change.

To sum things up, what can I say other than: Marmozets are a band to look out for in the future. They have a strong drive, a diverse sound and the necessary skill to execute it all flawlessly. Be sure to check out the song below and visit their Facebook page to keep up with what’s happening around them.

LIGHTS – Little Machines

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start: I don’t like pop. Generally-speaking, the pop industry is filled with one-hit-wonders that perform songs they had no input in and desperately try to appeal to the masses…just not my cup of tea. There is, however, one exception that goes by the name of LIGHTS. The talented Canadian singer has just released her third full length called Little Machines and proves yet again that pop can be highly enjoyable, diverse and, for the most part, self-written.

Three years after her second record, during which she got married and became a proud mother, the young singer has further evolved her trademark synthesized sound and reduced the dubstep elements that were predominant on Siberia. The genuine-feeling drive and the dreamy vibe that, to me, made her music so agreeable in the past is still present and, frankly speaking, it feels good to have new material.

The eleven song record opens with the song Portal which achieves a feeling of full immersion due to its hypnotic rhythm and softly sung vocals. And after that you are greeted by mostly upbeat songs that will not let you off the hook until the album is over. I do have to admit that on the instrumental side there are less passages that will be imprinted in your memory from the get-go, as was the case on the predecessors. But then again, I believe that the aim was not to necessarily create “hit material” but rather an authentic listening experience.

Truth be told, my personal selling factor about LIGHTS‘ music has and will always be her brilliant voice. Despite the usage of slight vocal effects and minimal pitch correction, they sound real and heartfelt…and if you’ve ever checked out her acoustic material, you know that the girl can sing just as perfectly without any computer help. On her previous records, I was always able to identify with most of the lyrics in one way or another and this is still the case, even though it’s not as strong as in the past. However, I dare you to find lines as cleverly written as during these thirty-eight minutes on any other pop record.

There is not much more I can tell you other than: even if you’re not a big fan of pop, or actually have a strong aversion to it, Little Machines is worth checking out because it’s not your run off the mill pop record. Watch the video to get an idea of what her music is all about and head over to Facebook for more information. And, even though I’ve said it before: always give music a chance, even if it’s not your home turf, because you never know what can touch you.

Trash Monday CXXXV

If you believe the recent controversies surrounding this guy, “WDGAF” is far from the worst thing he has ever spawned. Still, it’s… unfortunate.

Motionless In White – Reincarnate

When I reviewed today’s band’s previous record I mentioned that many fans would probably be outraged by the new direction Motionless In White took…and I was absolutely right. The amount of bitching I read on the internet was mind-blowing, and two years later it multiplied when they announced that their third record, Reincarnate, was to be released on September 15th…to my great delight.

Especially when the guys released the first single, I knew that they had ignored all the bitching from their “fans” and took the route they wanted to, which was mainly sticking to their new-found sound: electronic-industrial-black-metal-core. Yeah, I totally just made that genre up, but it describes the band’s sound so well that I don’t even feel bad about it. The Pennsylvanians have even further incorporated the above-mentioned styles into one delicious mix of a one-of-a-kind sound.

All the elements I mentioned in my Infamous review are still ever-so-present on these thirteen songs: two different instrument “tunings”, occasional breakdowns, diverse riffs, complex drum patterns and almost no repetition whatsoever. Even though I just mentioned it a couple of sentences ago, I have to repeat that the fact that the quintet stuck to this, admittedly, weird mix of musical styles makes them stand out from the vast amount of bands that are trying to get somewhere.

Two years later, the vocal repertoire on Reincarnate is just as crazy as before, with the addition of even more vocal techniques and effects. The variety in the singing gives each song its distinctive feel and guarantees an all-around enjoyable listening experience. Fun little fact: I talked to the singer a couple of years back when they played here in Luxembourg, and I can honestly say that I’ve rarely met someone as self-critical as him. The guy’s a true perfectionist and it can absolutely be felt during these fifty-six minutes. On top of that, MIW have gotten help from four guest vocalists: Dani Filth of Cradle Of Filth, Maria Brink of In This Moment, Dessa Poljak of Silencio and Tim Skold!

In closing, what can I say? Is Reincarnate a record that will please everyone? Sadly, no…it’s just too much “all over the place” for some. But for those that actually dive into the music and keep an open mind, I can honestly promise that they will have a pure blast. I, for one, did! Head on over to the band’s Facebook page and give the video below a spin to get an idea!

Fights And Fires/Idle Class – Split 7inch

A couple of weeks ago I went to an all-day skate punk show here in Luxembourg and out of the many bands playing, there was one act that stood out to me: the German formation Idle Class. Me being me I couldn’t help but chat them up and ask if they had anything coming up in the release department, which is when I learned that they were about to release a split EP with the English hardcore punkers of Fights And Fires. Even though I’m not a huge fan of split releases, I simply couldn’t pass up on the occasion, so let’s give the Split 7inch a shot, shall we?

I’ll start the review of the four tracks, two per band, in reverse order with Idle Class since they were the ones that drew me here in the first place. The quintet plays a kind of punk rock with a more dreamy and technical approach, while still maintaining the lightheartedness that is typical in the genre. Both songs are mostly fast-paced but regularly jump into mid-tempo parts that give you a little time to catch your breath, which is exactly what makes their approach so interesting: there is never a moment where you’re out of the song, yet it doesn’t get repetitive at any point in time. The dual vocals are also a nice little touch that gives their music an additional layer of depth and actually resembles melodic hardcore in some passages.

Moving on to Fights And Fires. What can I say? The five blokes have not lost their trademark sound and deliver hard punches, wrapped in a good mood boxing glove. Too metaphorical? Yeah, thought so: F&F simply knows how to make the crowds dance with their incessantly hard-hitting hardcore punk, while still making their listeners feel happy inside due to their melodic goodness. Even though I have to admit that the vocals do take a few minutes to get used to, or at least that was the case for me, I can honestly say that I can’t imagine the songs without the singer’s wacky screams.

As I mentioned above, I don’t really like split EPs, and the reason is usually the same as it is with this one: they always leave me craving for more. However, these fourteen minutes will whet your appetite enough for the, as far as I know, planned full length records of both bands…so be sure to give them a shot! You can find more information on the Facebook pages of Fights And Fires and Idle Class! And below you can listen to a song of each band, before the official release on October 10th!

Trash Monday CXXXIV

The song might be a modern classic…but the video just makes no sense whatsoever. Even Slash himself has no clue what it’s about.

Hail The Sun – Wake

Holy shit! I don’t know what kind of drugs most post-hardcore bands took this year, but they seem to work wonders. So far almost every single release of bigger bands has been a pure blast and I’ve discovered so many new quality bands that it’s hard for me to catch a break…and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Today’s record of choice is the new release of Hail The Sun, called Wake which saw the light of day on September 23rd!

I first stumbled upon HTS on the very first day of the year, when I listened to Sianvar, a superband composed of members of bands that are signed to Blue Swan Records. Both bands share the same singer and therefore some similarities in their sound. However, the three other members of the California-based quartet are such proficient musicians with a fascinating range of ideas that both bands could not be any more different in their approach.

The twelve songs are a perfect mixture of calm, melancholic goodness and balls to the walls insanity, often borrowing elements, such as ultra-complex guitar parts and drum patterns, from mathcore. Their songwriting in general is rivaled by few, but their feel for going over the top is so phenomenal that Wake could well be a stand-alone instrumental record and still hold a high rank in the top ten of the genre. Seldom has a band managed to make transitions from neck-breaking mosh to totally idyllic parts in such a genuine way.

But, luckily, the musicians are fronted by an extremely diverse and talented singer who, seemingly effortlessly, covers every range of singing techniques that are common in post-hardcore. His, quite high-pitched, clean vocals are flawless and are always employed in the right moments during the fifty-two minutes, whereas his screams are energetic and I’m convinced that if they fail to animate you, there is something seriously wrong with your ears and you should consult an otologist. Extra kudos for the guy since he’s also responsible for the drumming, a feat that is quite remarkable to perform live. An extra touch are the screams by the guitarist on the song Cosmic Narcissism, which I would have loved to hear more often…but then again, their rarity makes them extra delicious to my ears.

As if all of the above was not enough to make it a super strong contender in my album of the year category, the lyrics are captivating and intelligently written with way more than a few memorable lines. There is simply no downside I can find to Wake, and I strongly urge you to click on the Bandcamp below, listen to the entire record and ideally buy it because these dudes deserve every cent that you throw at them. You can find out more about them on their Facebook page and keep your eyes peeled for the next possibly big release from their label mates Stolas, another band that is part of the above-mentioned superband.