Sunday, January 27, 2008

Perishers, The - Victorious

The Perishers - Victorious
Label - Nettwerk
Release Date - September 4, 2007

When I hear a new album, I always find myself envisioning the ideal time and place to be listening to that album. The albums I find to be the most beautiful and delicate feel like they would sound best when walking through a snow-covered forest at sunrise.

The Perishers' Victorious definitely sounds like that. The quartet, who hail from Umea, Sweden, create songs that are the aural equivalent of hand-blown glass. Ola Klüft's voice glides over light guitars and sweeping melodies with just the slightest hint of backing vocals to give the songs the depth they need.

The album opens gently with "Midnight Skies," a meandering tune where Klüft lets his voice waver along the scales until the band chimes in full force, turning the song into a track that will delight fans of the Once soundtrack. "Never Bloom Again" has a very precise melody that invites listeners to close their eyes and feel it in full force. The Perishers' lyrics are all about failed relationships and the unanswered questions that come with those situations. They're the kind of lyrics that people say they wish they didn't know how to relate to. Even on the upbeat tracks like "Carefree," these lyrics are prevalent.

tonight the ocean's at my feet / the stars glitter just like diamonds /
I'm here to drown my fears / so I can wake up empty and be carefree

"My Own" has the slightest hint of alt-country in it, making the song reminiscent of The Thrills. Klüft's voice sounds a bit odd when placed over these guitar tones, but the song maintains the mood of the previous tracks. The album's title track is one of the more melodically upbeat songs, and is at once successful and unsuccessful. The storylike verses are contain some of the best lyrics on the album, but when it comes to the sweeping hook in the chorus, Klüft does not seize the melody - instead he ends up sounding a little bored. He does much better when he sticks with quieter, more detailed songs.

"Come Out Of The Shade" features a programmed clapping beat that works surprisingly well when coupled with the piano that the band uses extensively. It's the only track on the album that uses this kind of programming, and I think the band should try pushing themselves in this direction a little further.

"Is It Over Now?" is a track that absolutely screams Morrissey - from the lyrics about a nonexistent relationship, to Klüft's vocal stylings, to the relatively minimal instrumentation. The track is barely two minutes long but is a perfect interlude-like break toward the end of the album. The final song, "Get Well Soon," has a big piano and beautiful vocal harmonization. Although the track doesn't really seem to go anywhere, it still ties up all the album's threads nicely.

Victorious may not be a perfect masterpiece, but The Perishers are well on their way to creating that. For now, we can soak in the beauty that they have managed to create thus far.

Track Listing
01. Midnight Skies
02. Never Bloom Again *
03. Carefree
04. My Own
05. Victorious
06. Come Out Of The Shade *
07. Best Friends
08. Almost Pretty
09. Is It Over Now? *
10. To Start Anew
11. 8 AM Departure
12. Get Well Soon

* - standout tracks

For Fans Of: The New Frontiers, Snow Patrol, Bell X1

Listen At: Web Site | MySpace

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Astrea - Departure

Astrea - Departure
Label - X Off Records
Release Date - July 12, 2007

"Post-hardcore" is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, and it doesn't seem to mean much anymore. In my mind, the word conjures images of a handful of stellar bands and tons of middle of the road scenester bands. Astrea falls into the latter category.

Their music isn't bad, per se, it's just not anything mindblowing. Driving drums and whining guitars fill the speakers, and singer Brendon Pires is doing his best impression of Saosin's Cove Reber. The five song EP seems to all run together, and it's difficult to recall which hooks belong to which songs. The lyrics are generically about broken hearts and fate, doing their best to sound profound and forward looking.

The band's bio has the band claiming that they've "developed an original style." However, I'd be more inclined to agree with them later in the bio with the statement that they make their music "as broad as possible," thus making them sound just like everyone else.

Track Listing
01. Over Your Head
02. Between The Tides
03. Hourglass
04. Love Is War
05. Shadows

For Fans Of: A Heartwell Ending, Therefore I Am, a less intelligent Circa Survive

Listen At: MySpace | PureVolume

Kings To You - Antidote, The

Kings To You - The Antidote
Label - Unsigned
Release Date - March 20, 2007

I didn't think that the lines between early pop-punk and modern mainstream radio intersected. Apparently, I had just never heard of SoCal's Kings To You. This band manages to mash together the sounds of the time with the "punk" mattered more than the "pop" with what you can hear if you switch on your local alternative rock station.

The Antidote's opening track, "Fight Night" opens slowly but the chorus soon rushes forward into the story of an estranged girlfriend. Cliche as this may sound, the lyrics are intensely personal and the addition of thrashing guitars and drums add to the painful emotions. Singer David Arthur has a strong voice capable or conveying such ideas in a believable way - you know he knows what he's talking about. The band powers through to "The Rise," which sounds much like the early work of So They Say. The song has a raucous chorus that pulls the song forward.

The album's fifth track, "Show Yourself," is an instrumental track. While technically sound, it's not particularly interesting and seems to slow down the album's momentum rather than add any new layers to it. However, the drums kick back in immediately with "Strike Back," a song that does exactly what its title says. It's got a huge singalong chorus about running away and never looking back. That seems to be the mantra for this band - grab your chance to get away while you can to make your way in life. "Strike Back" also features a brief guitar solo; this would be a great choice for a single.

"Take The Fall" is an acoustic based track that showcases the softer side of the band, and in particular Arthur's vocal capabilities. This slow-burning ballad hints at a future possibility of mainstream radioplay for Kings To You. The band then pummels through another couple of rock songs before coming to the album's second ballad, "The Arrow Or The Hero," where Arthur attempts a falsetto. It works fairly well, but I wish he had chosen his regular range, seeing as the lyrics to this song are so good:

the apple fell far from the tree and the arrow was shaky in hand / the target and my expectation struck me down instead / I won't be reminded of the damages you've done / so if I don't stand for something good in this world / set me sail and let me drift out to sea

Unfortunately, the song ends rather abruptly, and what could potentially be a tearjerking track simply feels unfinished. The album's closer, "Misconception," has a nice melody and again showcases the band's talent when it comes to lyrics. It's slightly more low-key than most of the rockers on the the disc, and winds the album down quite nicely. With a little polishing and a little more decisiveness in the direction they would like to take, Kings To You have the potential to be a massive rock band.

Track Listing
01. Fight Night
02. The Rise *
03. Don't Blink
04. Gone Blank
05. Show Yourself
06. Strike Back *
07. Take The Fall
08. Closer
09. Cut It Down
10. The Arrow Or The Hero
11. Second Opinion
12. Misconception *

* - standout tracks

For Fans Of: Lovehatehero, So They Say, A Thorn For Every Heart

Web Site | MySpace | PureVolume