All Get Out – No Bouquet

The word “underrated“ is being thrown around way too much these days, but I feel like with All Get Out, using it is actually justified. The two-piece have been around for quite a while, yet they are still one of the lesser known bands in their genre. Maybe their most recent album “No Bouquet” can change that.

Starting out with “Rose”, a haunting, suspenseful atmosphere is created. The expectations are high; something dark and deep is about to wash over you in a wave of sensory overstimulation. Obscure lyrics delivered with vulnerable vocals fade seamlessly into piercing guitars and desperate screams. Conveying raw emotion is something All Get Out have mastered right at the start of their career and over time have been able to elaborate. Their ability to alternate between dynamics, going from whispering to yelling, from hurt and subdued to angry and brave without it sounding forced is admirable.

Being their most intricately crafted record so far, every song possesses an element or a characteristic that first draws you in -like that epic riff in “Value” or the chorus in “First Contact” that’s practically begging to be screamed along to-, only for you to discover something new with every listen. However, in most songs, the simplicity of the initial concept still shines through and you are able to distinguish the idea with which the song started out and what the band envisioned it to be.

Contrary to prior releases, “No Bouquet” is not tied together as closely by repeating melodies and lyrics, but rather by using figures of speech that are related to the album title throughout the lyrics. In addition to that, the concept of volatility is ever present in these ten songs. Finally, the last track “Trip” refers back to “Rose” once again, as vocalist Nathan Hussey blankly states “someone else is in my place” after disclosing that “suddenly [he] see[s] why [he’d] be easy to replace”. This definitely does not ring true for All Get Out as a band, since I have yet to find another band they could be compared to without changing several parameters.

 

Faultless Rating: ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔

Song recommendation(s): Value, However Long, Archives First Contact, Self-Repair

 

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Counterparts – Private Room

Has it really been a year already since the release of “You’re Not You Anymore”?

To me, it still feels like yesterday, but Counterparts know better than to let their fans wait for new music for too long. Their jokingly self-deprecating approach to the “Private Room” EP reveal indicates that nothing much has changed in their mindset.

The three songs are b-sides from both “Tragedy Will Find Us” and “You’re Not You Anymore”, but frankly, they don’t sound or feel like b-sides. Where TWFU and YNYA were pensive, an attempt at coping, comfort and coming to terms for both the writer and the listener, Private Room is more urgently aiming to resolve the issues. Tied to the previous full-lengths -among other aspects- by means of parallels in the lyrics (like in “Monument” / “Bouquet” from YNYA), it becomes obvious that the band put a lot of thought into this release.

When singer Brendan Murphy warned that they would not be slowing down, the ensuing expectations were those of a somewhat stagnant path for now, but this is a notable progression from prior works that feels like a whole new era.

Faultless Rating: ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔

Warm Thoughts – I Went Swimming Alone

To me, Warm Thoughts (formerly Dad Punchers) has always been about getting the best out of the hand you’re dealt. The most recent record is no exception to that. Tied to past works by two songs (“Intangible” and “Your Haircut Man”) that have been previously released, “I Went Swimming Alone” is a collection of approaches to the problems of a twenty-something.

Elliot Babin, whose main job is being a drummer in Touché Amoré, started his solo project in 2012. Since then, it has come a long way. Warm Thoughts continues to provide us with angsty, driven “bummer punk”, but the sound on “I Went Swimming Alone” is a lot more polished, the songs are catchier. Almost all of them deal with different situations where you want what you don’t, or can’t, have. Most of them also include oddly specific anecdotes, but are very relatable nonetheless, since the key concepts are universal ones, such as the fear of being alone (see “Airport”) or being forgotten (see “Waiting For Me”), or – as in “Your Haircut Man”- the uncomfortable situation of “accidentally falling in love with your roommate” (for further relatability, replace with ‘anyone you shouldn’t be falling for’).

The entire record is permeated by a somewhat nostalgic feeling, the state of being unhappy, but at peace with it. It pretty much feels like you’re stuck in one of the frequently referenced daydreams. The creation of this atmosphere is something I can’t quite get behind, since it’s such a peculiar mood that is evoked over and over in every single song, but I am 100% here for it.

Faultless Rating: ✔✔✔✔✔

Song recommendation(s): Airport, Romance Novelist, Waiting For Me, Intangible

Casey – Where I Go When I Am Sleeping

Ever since the release of their debut album “Love Is Not Enough”, fans of Welsh band Casey have been anxiously awaiting the follow-up, and wondering how it would be able to do its predecessor justice. Would it be a lot quieter? Louder? Disappointing? You can’t create the same thing twice, after all.

“Making Weight” serves as a slow introduction, not building up sonically, but leaving the listener with a sense of suspense as to what will follow nonetheless. With lyrics reflecting on life with multiple illnesses, you get a taste of what’s to come. Guitar-driven and rhythmic, “Wavering” digs deeper into the heavy contents you should have braced yourself for by now. This album, in contrast to Casey’s first one, moves from interpersonal problems to intrapersonal ones. Centered around singer and lyricist Tom Weaver’s health issues, you learn some things that most people would be afraid to even say out loud, let alone share with thousands, potentially millions, of people.

As a contrast to the somewhat familiar sound of the first few songs, “Flowers By The Bed” and “Needlework” dip into new harmonies and explore the biggest fear of most hardcore aficionados: all-clean vocals throughout the entire song. But they will be relieved to find that the absence of yelling does not equal to the absence of desperation and sincerity. It rather connects to the fact that all components that contribute to Casey’s work are equally important, which is proven by the three instrumentals that somewhat serve to separate songs. They create an atmosphere for Tom’s words to swim in and let you catch a breath, but the soft, slow nature simultaneously evokes the feeling of floating in a dark body of water.

Writing about this record would not be complete without mentioning the elaborately crafted lyrics. As the record progresses, they evolve from a reluctant attitude and dwelling on misery to a hesitant inclination towards accepting the love you’re offered. Incorporating some clever wordplay, the last two songs lyrically allude to “Love Is Not Enough” and thereby tie the two albums together.

“Where I Go When I Am Sleeping” is concluded by a spoken-word paragraph about the past that will leave you in tears – well, if you have made it through this album without shedding a single tear, I don’t know whether it means you’re strong or cold-hearted.

Faultless Rating: ✔✔✔✔✔

Song recommendation(s): Wavering, Needlework, Morphine, The Funeral

Sorority Noise – Alone

‘Fragile’ is the first word that comes to mind when listening to “Week 51″ off of Sorority Noise’s lates 7”, “Alone”. ‘Dreamlike’ is another, caused mostly by the powerful orchestration. It’s the kind of song that would be playing during a timelapse in a movie when one character is lying on their bed, staring at the ceiling or sitting in a chair, staring out the window, while they’re stuck in some kind of paralysis, unable to continue with their lives as planned for some terrible reason. 

“Fermata”, the second song, evokes some entirely different feelings. With lyrics that appear simple at first, yet have a deeper meaning to them and are slightly morbid, to be honest, it is as much of a musical counterpart to the first song as one could expect on a B-side to Sorority Noise’s latest full length record “You’re Not As _____ As You Think”. 

“Alone” possesses the power of transporting the listener to the point when these songs were born. It is a place to revisit when you need to be grounded and clear your mind. A perfect fit for the blank left in “You’re Not As _____ As You Think”, “Alone” leaves you not alone, but lighter than you felt before. When the last note faded, so did everything I was feeling up until that point; a strangely cathartic experience.
Faultless Rating: ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 

Citizen – As You Please

With their third full-length album, Citizen are laughing loudly into the faces of those who thought the quintet had nothing left to explore after releasing two records that instantly became essentials for every emo aficionado’s collection. In a world that incessantly creates new genres, “As You Please” proves that, even though Citizen might have already found their place, that does by no means imply that they’ve run out of ideas.

The opener, “Jet”, acts as a reminder to show us where Citizen are coming from and it already offers a glimpse of where they plan to take us in the next fifty minutes, too – spoiler alert: there are lots of experiments coming at you. Be it “In The Middle Of It All”, which starts with choir-like high-pitched vocals before launching into more familiar, somber tones, or “World”, which presents the band at their most melodic, almost drifting into pop-punk. “Discrete Routine”, a slow, piano-driven song in which, at first listen, nothing -except for Mat Kerekes’ vocals- suggests that this could be a Citizen song, even takes on a Brand New level of increasing tempo, volume and complexity. The dark, accusing lyrics suggest that these songs weren’t just written out of personal interest either.

Even those tracks with a simpler structure, like “Medicine” or “Control”, become special by the ever-present passion that acts as a fundament for every Citizen song. I’ve wracked my brain trying to find a negative thing to say about this record, but I have to disappoint you here. There are so many ideas squeezed into these twelve songs that you’ll discover something new with every listen. Despite, or maybe even due to, the tentative steps toward different elements, “As You Please” is as them as it gets… plus, there’s an extraordinary amount of catchy moments, hooks, lyrics.

Faultless Rating: ✔✔✔✔✔

Song recommendation(s): Control, Discrete Routine, I Forgive No One

Neck Deep – The Peace And The Panic

You could tell by the songs that had been released in advance that Neck Deep’s third full length album would be quieter, yet still very characteristic of the band. The result is a solid pop-punk album, this time with an emphasis on the “pop” part, rather than the “punk” part, as it used to be.

“The Peace And The Panic” – two polar opposites that don’t just reoccur in the title track “Motion Sickness”, but are in fact a fitting summary of the album. With a variation of dynamics spreading throughout eleven tracks, Neck Deep effectively demonstrate their versatility. Equally diverse in tempo and topics, it is particularly the teamwork on the lyrics within the band that proves successful, so that the subjects are sometimes of global (“Happy Judgement Day”) and other times of personal (“19 Seventy Sumthin’”, “Wish You Were Here”) importance. The former should, especially at a point like this, be much more present in music, so it is great to see one more band speak up. Architects’ Sam Carter’s contribution on “Don’t Wait” is an excellent example of a concise statement that could be capable of waking up those who otherwise wouldn’t care.

Nonetheless, you can’t deny that it’s not always easy to be original. Some songs, like “Motion Sickness”, “Where Do We Go…” and “Heavy Lies” pass you by, while others linger in your head for days after listening, be it for the lyrical contents or the riffs. Ironically, there’s something about “The Grand Delusion” that makes it sound a little off. Maybe that was intentional and I just didn’t see it, but, either way, hitting the lowest point at track number three and then just going up again is far from being the worst balance. Several songs have the potential of becoming a real tear-jerker, yet surprisingly, my personal highlight is the seemingly inconspicuous, but catchy and very Green-Day-esque “Critical Mistake”.

 

Faultless Rating: ✔✔✔

Song recommendation(s): Critical Mistake, Don’t Wait, Happy Judgement Day