Tag Archives: alternative rock

Maypine – Bend/Break

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Story time! Last year in December I flew to Brighton to see Hail The Sun open for Silverstein, and at that gig I got to witness today’s band play the opening slot. I got talking to them about a possible future release and, seven months later, here we are! Maypine are a fairly new band and their second release, Bend/Break, is just about to be released on Friday! Let’s dig in, shall we?

The quintet plays alternative rock, with a hint of post-hardcore for good measure, and manages to capture the essence and atmosphere of the genre quite well. While the drums are fairly straight-forward, they are in constant interplay with the bass, and provide a perfect backdrop for the two guitars to build the slightly melancholic, yet hopeful, feel of the Brits’ sound.

The singer delivers a solid performance with a respectable range, but at times I felt that the vocals lacked a bit more diversity. While I do believe that I heard female backing vocals every now and then, I found them to be a little too low, or buried, in the mix. The fact that the singer has quite a good ear for vocal melodies that complement the songs, makes up for most of that, though.

Despite not reinventing the wheel, the fourteen minutes feature well-written songs that are memorable enough to keep your ears glued to the speakers. So, by all means, give Bend/Break a listen over on the website of Pure Grain Audio, or check out their music video below to get a first impression. Last but not least, head on over to the band’s Facebook page and show them some love!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVyjJe07eQg]

Twin Planets – These Walls Hold Nothing But The Death Of All That We Hold Dear

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I know I seem like a broken a record this year, but I can’t stress enough how many “new” genres I’ve discovered for myself in these past three months. Today is yet another example, because usually I would have changed the channel if I heard this kind of music…but Twin Planets have managed to make alternative rock or, how I used to call it, radio-friendly rock, very relevant to my interests. Their new album with the super long name These Walls Hold Nothing But The Death Of All That We Hold Dear is going to be released on April 6th, and I’m happy to share my thoughts with you in advance!

While the music the Brits play is indeed very pop-orientated, there is one major thing that sets them apart from all the previous bands that I’ve heard in this genre: post-rock elements. The song structures are quite traditional and, dare I say, simple but the musicianship that is hidden within them is very intricate, and manages to make them more than just boring melodies that hold the eleven songs together.

Especially songs like Communicator and Empires succeeded in making me lose myself in the soundscape, due to their almost hypnotic build-up and the resulting aural explosion. While I genuinely love the instrumental side of the quartet’s sound, the vocals add another layer of melody and diversity to the forty minutes, making TWHNBTDOATWHD quite the ride.

My only minor gripe are the repetitive lyrics, especially when it comes to choruses, since they are often limited to about ten lines per song and often sung over and over. While that could be considered a plus for live performances, because they favor sing-alongs, I quite honestly tended to ignore the words during my listening sessions after the first time.

All in all, Twin Planets convinced me that alternative rock can be more than just background noise, and I sincerely hope to experience these guys live in the near future! If you want to find out if it’s to your liking, be sure to click on the video below and head over to their Facebook page! Enjoy!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhapSpI1ja0]

Sliver – Disobey Giants

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A few weeks ago I went to a local show and since I was there quite early, I got to witness the soundcheck of the opening band Sliver. Having never heard of them, I was severely impressed by the two half-songs they played and I figured that I had to feature them on here and after their gig I was one hundred percent sure about it. Sadly, they didn’t have a recent release which is why I’m going to write a few words about their 2012 record Disobey Giants!

The quartet, which is composed of people from France, Belgium and Luxembourg, plays a hard-hitting mix of alternative rock and hardcore which sounds unlike most of the stuff you hear these days. Especially the omnipresent usage of synthesizers and keyboards is something that makes them rather unique in my opinion. The traditional instruments don’t fall short either though, by delivering a driving performance all throughout the twelve tracks.

The main concept of the band, and this album, is of a very anti-political and anti-capitalistic nature and the lyrics make that quite clear. While it might be annoying to some, because they prefer ignoring the sad reality, it is exactly that strong message that makes these thirty-seven minutes so special. On top of that you have the amazing clean vocal work, with that lovely “Frenglish” accent, and the screams which are amplified by a megaphone that just make it a blast to listen to.

All in all, there is absolutely no excuse for not checking out Sliver, especially since the entire album can be downloaded for free on the band’s Bandcamp page. I, for one, am very excited for later this year or early 2015, when the guys are supposed to release new music. As a closing statement, I’ll say that if you get the chance to see them live, do so; you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to sure to listen to my favorite track Small Is Beautiful below to give you an idea!

The Intersphere – Relations In The Unseen

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Barely two years after their last album, The Intersphere is releasing a new one: Relations In The Unseen. One might think that such a short period of time might not be enough to evolve musically, but one couldn’t be more wrong! But let me elaborate that in the next few paragraphs.

While the German quartet sticks to their traditional sound, which is an interesting mix of alternative rock with some progressive elements, they have added some more facets to it thus resulting in a compelling experience. The majority of the twelve songs starts off with a predominantly dreamy atmosphere, progressing into a slightly more upbeat pattern and at some point, usually unexpectedly, exploding into a heavily groovy part. This formula is not always executed quite in the same order, but it’s definitely a recurring theme.

The aforementioned new pieces in the mix, are various exotic electronic instruments such as various moogs and an omnichord; please don’t feel bad if you need to look that up. They provide some of the songs with a previously unknown depth and variation, which is exactly what was one of the weaker points on the predecessor. The other instruments have also received a little overhaul and sound fresher than ever, and pretty much every musician has his own time to shine at one point or another. My personal highlight being the bass-work on the song Joker, which has this really driving riff that I just can’t playing on repeat.

The vocals have not changed much, but that is good…since they were already extremely strong in the past. However, the singer tried and succeeded in adding screams to his repertoire on the song The Ghost Of A Chance, which features the hands-down heaviest instrumental part on the entire album. One interesting factoid: the album clocks in at forty-six minutes…the same as the previous endeavor.

All in all, The Intersphere have succeeded in improving their music without losing their known and appreciated style, which I’m truly glad about. The album will be out this Friday, March 7th, so be sure to check it out if you like what you can hear below and also head to the band’s Facebook page for additional information. Last but not least, if you get a chance to catch the four guys play live…do so, since they are very energetic performers!

Kitshickers – Horror Vacui

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There’s probably no better way to celebrate a 15th band anniversary than with the release of a new album, in this case: Kitshickers‘ new longplayer Horror Vacui featuring 20 new tracks with lots of guest appearances and cryptic song titles. I remember the first time I heard this band was more than 10 years ago, when we still had this weird TV channel called Tango TV and when the Food For Your Senses festival took place in a humid, tiny basement somewhere in Luxembourg. At that time, this 4 piece collective playing chaotic alternative rock had nothing to do with the band we know nowadays.

Horror Vacui, 6th long player of the band, is something in between post rock and sludge, floating among melancholic depressive moods reminding of Mono up to hymnical highlights as if Isis would perform Pink Floyd‘s A Saucerful Of Secrets. Maybe a risky comparison, but you’ll get the idea after listening to the first five instrumental tracks, with Scarred‘s Yogi slamming on the guitar on nfr.

The first vocal appearance happens on the 6th track Lokavibhâga.1, featuring Cosmogon‘s Fabrice Mennuni, who’s got a short but striking commitment. I’d wished for a more aggressive vocal performance, as I know what this bloke is able to do with his growls, but that would not have fit into the concept, I guess.

Speaking of aggressiveness, the songs happen to build up into a multi-layered experience without outbursting into an explosion ergo a big wall of sound, which makes the listening experience even more challenging. The songwriting is diversified and too complex to be considered as boring or generic; plenty of work has been put into these tracks; the only thing that makes me sceptical is the suppressed aggressiveness. Don’t get me wrong but it isn’t until sunya where something really “big” happens in collaboration with Raph from The Majestic Unicorns From Hell, a song that’s got every ingredient of what Kitshickers‘ songwriting is all about; which is this blend between psychedelic world-weariness and simple outrage in one. Or maybe I’m just too stuck on their old album So That’s The Miracle Of Life, one of my personal highlights back in 2006.

Luckily enough, 273K could be described as a highlight for me. It’s sludgy and heavy, straight to the point; and I believe this song could be quite monumental when performed live on stage in combination with the following track buz&jég. I sense something epic on both tracks.

All in all, I have to say that Horror Vacui is NOT a bad album, it just takes its time to unfold its message / beauty. It’s nothing that impresses a distracted listener like me on first pass, but I’m pretty sure that this album can have a different effect once you see Kitshickers perform it live; which will actually happen this Saturday for their release party at the KuFa in Esch. So be there and make up your own opinion about the new album!

Pink Frost – Sundowning

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The sun goes down and Mr. Shoegaze meets Mr. Grunge who both decide to do a jolly pub tour until the early morning.

Ruins sounds like a collaboration between The Smashing Pumpkins and Torche with its grungy guitar and amiable but in the same time sneaky rhythm that knocks you out of your socks when you don’t expect it.

Destructive grunge vocals and bass lines take you right back to the 90s from time to time, but it’s hard to define Pink Frost’s sound in just a few words, due to a certain love of experimentation which unhappily gives an impression of unnecessarily erring on a straight line.

The Difference then makes a difference (*bu-dum-ksh*) by turning down the volume and the noise. This unfortunately sounds like a boring version of some melancholic Foo Fighters summer hit. Just let the fury out guys, you don’t need this stuff! The listeners will be glad that the next song resumes with screeching guitars and dirty, non-pop sound. This doesn’t mean that more sensible tunes don’t work on this album, which is proven by Maybe It’s You, the secret star of Sunddowning.

Occupy within then suggests the intro of a punk song before changing into a rambling oriental psych-song. Blue Light, the last song, again strikes a calmer note, giving a warm and chilling feeling to your ears and letting the album slowly float towards the dawn of a new day.

Personally spoken, Sundowning should have more courage and let unfold itself and the power of shoegaze, but this certainly is something for fans of good-mood-grunge or alternative rock, shoegaze à la Torche (but more moderate), and maybe for lovers of California X.

The Intersphere – Hold On, Liberty!

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When I discovered The Intersphere for the first time at this year’s Food For Your Senses Festival, I described their sound as a mixture between softer and harder post-core elements with Muse-ish riffs and clean Fall-Out-Boy-ish vocals. An impression that is confirmed throughout their 2012 release Hold on, Liberty!, combined with a solid touch of pop-rock.

The album, however, takes its time to warm-up and you may get lost a little between Coldplay keyboards and Finnish-like rock vocals; negative appearances that are deceitful until Sleeping God and Hold On, Liberty reveal the true dynamics of this long player. It’s not the presence of any kind of innovation but the playfulness and the catchy post-core grooves that may make you appreciate the German quartet’s work. I know I am using the word “catchy” way to often to describe sounds, but again I can’t prevent myself from doing it.

Still, outbursts like in Capitali just happen too rarely for my taste, but hey, music reviews will never be objective. Unleashing the dogs called drummer and bassist turns out to be a very good idea – this is the essence that creates the groove and makes their live shows so enjoyable.

The girlish, romantic, melodic refrains shouldn’t evoke too much macho behavior, I know, this is not a metal release, but those guys don’t deserve to be characterized too early as a soft-rock band. The album sound, in my eyes, doesn’t do enough justice to their powerful live sound though, although it definitely is a grower. It nevertheless is worth a buy if you like to cool down a bit the violence that the most post-core bands dash out of their amps.

This may not be a continuously compelling album, but a release with many great sounding melodic and rocking parts to discover!

Recommendations: Sleeping God, Hold On, Liberty, Parallel Lines
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZmFLQi2MwM]

Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine

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2004. Two men. One on bass guitar. One on drums. Result: pure insanity. In case you don’t own this album yet then it’s about time! A legal drug you can purchase in every record shop that has the guts to sell this. Or the internet, source of information, stupidity and craziness.

Turn It Out, threatening sounds, and before you realize it You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine has you in the headlock and will throw you through the whole room for the next 35 minutes. And you know what? You like it! You want it to happen! You don’t want it to stop! Inhuman bass guitar violation, aggressive lyrics, no pause, Romantic Rights, “I DON’T NEED YOU, I WANT YOU”, obey! No pause, Going Steady, your head bangs despite the headlock, torture, that bass, pure pleasure, that chorus!

The energy that Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger are able to produce, being just two guys, is just enormous. This is like the danceable kick-ass rock music that makes you sweat and dance in a small cave, undergoing more sweaty and stinky bodily contact than you’ve ever had in your life, and you wouldn’t think of any better place to be, not at all! The album is already in its middle part but your mouth is still wide open. Death From Above 1979 are no computer band, they aren’t clean, and thank god for that. They feel pure and honest when they come around to vandalize your home. Always brutal, full of pressure and sexy.

It sometimes feels like someone paired the filthy Motörhead sound with sexy rock’n’roll à la Eagles of Death Metal. Bass ravishment at its best, you hear it, you feel pity for it, but you certainly don’t want it to be released, au contraire. In case you’ve enjoyed Little Girl as some kind of breathing spell, Cold War will bring you back to reality before the title song knocks you out of your boots. Forget about them. This monster will be in bed right next to you when you wake up, smoking your underpants during Sexy Results, which sounds like pure rock disco. You will beg for the next round.

If there won’t be any more doping substances in this world, then this will be the new stuff!

Recommendations: Tracks 1 to 11.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4siXlLOSW0]