Friday, 8 October 2021

One Step Closer


One Step Closer are a five-piece hardcore band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania that began in 2016. In the short span of time they've been around this band has evolved quite a bit. Beginning with a fairly rough, straight-forward hardcore demo, they gradually embraced more melodic elements through a series of EP's, all the while still maintaing the passion and desperation of any good hardcore band. This culminated in the release of their debut full-length, This Place You Know. Released in September of this year, these 10 tracks are absolutely crushing. They're pulling sounds from bands like Bane, Verse, or Have Heart and playing them under the influence of Sunny Day Real Estate, with some latter-era Title Fight thrown into the mix. A good comparison would be to the classic Turning Point (a band OSC fittingly cover), who moved in a similar trajectory, from traditional hardcore origins to emo and alternative influence, broadening their sound with dynamics, melody, and a wider emotional palette. That's not to say One Step Closer is just a hodge podge (can't believe I used that word) of sounds already heard, but that they're a well-crafted, extremely tight-knit group that's studied a litany of influence and blended them into something truly unique and hard-hitting, with incredible instrumentals and relatable lyrics to boot. This Place You Know was released by Run For Cover Records, and a description that came to mind when trying to explain this album was Run For Cover-core. If you're at all familiar with the label, this will make perfect sense to you, and should be incentive enough to check this out if you haven't already. This is a fantastic record from one of the best up-and-coming bands, so please do enjoy.

1. Speak Out
2. True And Fake
3. My Choice
4. Broken Ties
5. O.S.C.

1. Sunset
2. Solitary
3. The Division
4. Introspect
5. Moving Forward
6. Blossom

1. Portrayal
2. Lifetime
3. Viewpoint

1. The Reach
2. Dusk
3. Day Dream
4. From Me To You
5. Portrayal
6. Imagination of Being

1. Lead To Gray
2. Broken (Turning Point cover)

1. I Feel So
2. Lead To Gray
3. Leave Me Behind
4. Home For The Night
5. Pringle Street
6. Hereafter
7. Time Spent, Too Long
8. Autumn
9. Chrysanthemum
10. As The City Sleeps

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Mallard


Mallard were a six-piece emo band from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that were around from 2010 to 2013. They were formed by members of Footnotes, Corcovado, and Broski. They were one of the finest, though often underrated bands of the early emo revival era, putting out a slew of melancholic yet energetic songs, with three guitarists bringing layers of mathy, noodly goodness, and vocals meant to be shouted along to in a crowded room. Fans of bands like Street Smart Cyclist, Coping and Boy Problems will undoubtedly love this . I created a single discography compilation if you just want to grab everything, or individual releases if you'd like below. Enjoy.

1. 1st Jawn Sesh (Jonnie's Tosh
2. Chug Your Knowledge
3. Megan's Milky
4. Quack Attack
5. Jonnie Shots
6. Lade In Malaysia
7. Blast Rag
8. Kelsey Q vs. The Holland Tunnel
9. Ollie Over Marley
10. Wing Job
11. Closer To Camden
12. Everybody Knows About Brazzers
13. She's Taller Than Me
14. Abby, Of My Infinite Betrayal
15. Black Duck

1. 1st Jawn Sesh (Jonnie's Tosh)

1. Chug Your Knowledge
2. Megan's Milky
3. Quack Attack
4. Jonnie Shots

1. Lade In Malaysia
2. Blast Rag
3. Kelsey Q vs. The Holland Tunnel

1. Ollie Over Marley
2. Wing Job
3. Closer To Camden

1. Everybody Knows About Brazzers
2. She's Taller Than Me
3. Abby, Of My Infinite Betrayal
4. Black Duck

Tawny Peaks


Tawny Peaks were a five-piece emo/indie band from Montclair, New Jersey that were around from 2011 to 2015. This is yet another band I thought I had done years before, but somehow slipped through the cracks until now. Tawny Peaks put out two incredible full-lengths of clean, jangly math-inspired emo, with distinct and often harmonized vocals. Fans of bands like Joie De Vivre, Brave Bird, Dowsing and You Blew It! will fall in love with this, if you're not already familiar with it. As a quick anecdote, guitarist/producer Sam Skinner is also a member of Pinegrove. There's not much else to say other than these two albums have been sorely lacking from this blog, so please do enjoy.

1. With Steps
2. Collect Calling
3. More Proof
4. March Sadness
5. The Tree Song
6. Molehill
7. Ambiguity
8. Bring Back The Mountain

1. Go Ask Arthur
2. Wasting Space
3. Righting The Writ
4. Bending Time
5. Caught Fingers Crossed
6. A Broken Spoke
7. In Silver River
8. Portrait Of Pushkin
9. Confessor's Kingdom

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Men As Trees

Men As Trees were a four-piece screamo/post-rock band from Auburn Hills, Michigan that were around from 2003 to 2009. When hearing that genre blend, certain greats immediately come to mind such as Envy, City of Caterpillar, and Funeral Diner. Though lesser known, Men As Trees mastered that sound, crafting gorgeous, extensive ambient moments of genuine serenity before exploding in a chaotic onslaught that brought these songs to new emotional levels. With a good portion of their released songs stretching past the 10-minute mark, Men As Trees are one of few bands capable of maintaining a sense of entrancement through a song's multiple movements. Their output is relatively small, but definitely worth a listen. The band reconvened a few years after their dissolution to form Locktender. They are another incredible band that has put out a steady amount of material in the past few years, and are also worth your attention. Enjoy.

1. Trespass And The Wood Of The Suicides I
2. Trillium
3. Trespass And The Wood Of The Suicides II
4. Et Tu Brute (St. Yves Down The Hatch)
5. Treebark, Cricket And Stone: Attornies At Law
6. An Epic Novel by Space & Co.
7. 400 Wisemen Bearing Rifts In Time

1. Treebark, Cricket and Stone: Attornies at Law
2. An Epic Novel by Space and Co.
3. 400 Wisemen Bearing Rifts in Time

1. Come Outside And Warm Yourself By The Wolf's Sun
2. Driving North On Withered Winds

1. Sometimes, We All Fight the Tide
2. Would They Were Now, I Was Then
3. Scenes From a Voyage
4. Autumn

1. Germinal
2. Good Luck To You
3. Late Words Of A Reasoning Man
4. If There Was Any Wisdom Left They Would Send It Back Up The Mountain
5. Dead On The Bank
6. Swa Cwæð Eardstapa

1. Single State Of Man - Health & History
2. Men As Trees - Wreckage

1. Le Pré Où Je Suis Mort - L'Avenir Nous Appartiendra
2. Dolcim - Claire, Advertising, 31
3. Men As Trees - Discovery
4. Dying In Motion - In Meiner Welt
5. Dying In Motion - Fürchtet Unsere Sanftmut
6. Dying In Motion - Komet

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Plunger

Plunger were a four-piece emo/hardcore band from Crofton, Maryland that were active from 1993 to 1996. Starting out, they took influence from the hardcore sound of bands like Swiz that had originated in DC a few years prior to their own formation. This is mostly evident on their debut demo release, which is a straight-up melodic hardcore album, with only a few hints of what their sound was evolve into. Their debut 7" is feedback-laden, discordant outing, with some of the most devastating vocals of the band's career. It's the perfect culmination of their early sound, with "Aspire To Be" being a good hint of where they were going next.

Following the EP, they released a few splits and a bonafide classic LP. They take the origins of their energetic, chaotic sound and push it into something darker and heavier. They began experimenting with a sound similar to what fellow Maryland band Moss Icon had done just before them. They incorporated harrowing bass lines, clean arpeggiated guitars, and trembling, mostly spoken vocals, with poetic lyricism. They would alternate between this quiet, meandering sound and build into massive crescendos of melancholic distorted chords and desperate screams, bringing the hardcore influence back to the forefront. Their self-titled full-length in particular is highly recommended, as its 7 tracks make for an incredibly emotional listen, which each song offering something new. "H.S." in particular is fantastic, and is definitely one of the most underrated songs in the grand scheme of 90's emo.

They put out a handful of releases in their initial time together, and an all-encompassing discography boxset a few years ago. The discography was released by Vermin Scum (who also put out albums by Maryland legends Moss Icon and The Hated). The first disc contains all their previously released material (EP, LP, and split tracks), the second disc contains the demo, as well as compilation and unreleased tracks. The third disc contains live songs and a few self-recorded demo tracks. Thankfully this band's incredible output was finally made available in one high-quality release, as the music they made is far too powerful to be lost to time. Enjoy.

1. No More Entails
2. Excess
3. Sound For Sore Eyes
4. Track
5. Perspective
6. Frame
7. Ideals
8. Vice
9. Lacking

1. Aspire To Be
2. Selfish Space
3. Indeterminate
4. Network
5. Patriot

1. Plunger - At The Ground
2. Plunger - Reticence
3. William Martyr Seventeen - Four Years Long

1. Plunger - Your Word
2. Plunger - Pull It Down
3. Blank - Program
4. Blank - Turning Point

1. Swallowtale
2. H.S.
3. Handed
4. Swallowed By Plains
5. Walking To Dawn
6. Inlé
7. Second Of June

Disc 1
1. Aspire To Be
2. Selfish Space
3. Indeterminate
4. Network
5. Patriot
6. At The Ground
7. Retience
8. Pull It Down
9. Your Word
10. Swallowtale
11. H.S.
12. Handed
13. Enfolded By Plains
14. Walking To Dawn
15. Inté
16. Second Of June

Disc 2
1. No More Entails
2. Excess
3. Sound For Sore Eyes
4. Track
5. Perspective
6. Frame
7. Ideals
8. Vice
9. Lacking
10. Common Maintenance
11. Frame
12. Simplicity Of This
13. Processional

Disc 3
1. Simplicity of This (W.M.U.C., 4/28/94) [Live]
2. Network (W.M.U.C., 4/28/94) [Live]
3. Indeterminate (W.M.U.C., 4/28/94) [Live]
4. Aspire to Be (W.M.U.C., 4/28/94) [Live]
5. Frame (W.M.U.C., 4/28/94) [Live]
6. At the Ground (W.M.U.C., 4/28/94) [Live]
7. Untitled (Home Recording 1994)
8. Pull It Down (Home Recording 1995)
9. Routine / Pattern (The Rat, Towson, Maryland 1/28/94) [Live]
10. Patriot (The Rat, Towson, Maryland 1/28/94) [Live]
11. At the Ground (Baldwin Hall, Millersville, Maryland 5/5/95) [Live]
12. Swallowtale (Baldwin Hall, Millersville, Maryland 5/5/95) [Live]
13. Handed (Baldwin Hall, Millersville, Maryland 5/5/95) [Live]
14. Processional (Baldwin Hall, Millersville, Maryland 5/5/95) [Live]
15. Aspire to Be (Baldwin Hall, Millersville, Maryland 5/5/95) [Live]
16. Pull It Down (Baldwin Hall, Millersville, Maryland 5/5/95) [Live]
17. Your Word (Baldwin Hall, Millersville, Maryland 5/5/95) [Live]
18. Enfolded by Plains (Baldwin Hall, Millersville, Maryland 5/5/95) [Live]

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Far Apart


Far Apart were a four-piece emo/indie band from Luleå, Sweden that began in 1995 and broke up in 1999. They released one EP, a split and a demo (which I unfortunately am missing). Sonically, they will appeal to fans of bands like Texas Is The Reason and The Promise Ring, with a bright guitars, an energetic rhythm section, and infectiously melodic vocals. There's not much else to say really, like their discography I'll keep this short and sweet. Enjoy.

1. Hazel
2. Dartmouth
3. Overdriver

1. The John Doe Band - A-Song
2. The John Doe Band - At The Kerb
3. Far Apart - Competitive Excuse

Weak Ties

Weak Ties are a four-piece hardcore band from Bielefeld, Germany that began in 2016. Following a few releases of solid powerviolence, they put out their 2nd LP earlier this year, Find A Way, This is what really caught my attention, as its a very unique-sounding record. The fast-paced powerviolence influence is still present, but with a heavy dose of old school hardcore punk, like something straight out of the early 80's. It's the gap between Infest and The Adolescents, essentially. The production and guitar tone is absolutely incredible on this. It's crisp, raw, organic, and really just needs to be heard to be appreciated. The band brings a new, unique kind of energy to their sound, and makes for one hell of a fun listen. Highly recommended stuff, and Find A Way is definitely one of the coolest hardcore albums you're going to hear this year. Enjoy.

1. Rain Fade
2. Concerned Citizen
3. Constrained
4. I Won't
5. Your Fuss
6. Running On Knives
7. Hands Down Favorite
8. Catatonic
9. Nothing Will Ever Be Enough
10. Out Of Patience
11. Mutism

1. Hārda Ut
2. Deadlock
3. The Sough
4. Illusion of Control
5. Breaking The Burdens
6. Prologue
7. Sorry, Not Today
8. Misguided
9. Diffusion Of The Antithesis
10. Left Alone
11. Nightmarish Era
12. Sinking

1. The Gentle Art Of Chokin' - IV
2. The Gentle Art Of Chokin' - V
3. The Gentle Art Of Chokin' - III
4. The Gentle Art Of Chokin' - I
5. Weak Ties - Nothing More
6. Weak Ties - Deaf

1. Weak Ties - Exploding Head Syndrome
2. Weak Ties - Dead End
3. Weak Ties - Black Waves
4. Noll Koll - Ni som brann
5. Noll Koll - Getränken
6. Noll Koll - Pengar
7. Noll Koll - Påväg ingenstans
8. Noll Koll - Värt det
9. Noll Koll - Skitliv

1. Find A Way
2. Veil
3. Rage Is Not A Quiet Thing
4. E.
5. Blurred
6. Sorry Not Today Pt. II
7. I
8. With Every Step
9. The Company I Need
10. Loomed
11. Thinking To Stay Awake
12. Contrived
13. Toothless
14. II
15. Moving To Stay Awake
16. Never Catch A Break

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Svalbard


Svalbard are a four-piece post-hardcore/post-metal band from Bristol, England that began in 2011. Right from the get-go, I'll admit that I have slept on this band for far, far too long. They are a name I've seen pop up for ages, and for no good reason always put off checking them out. That has most definitely changed recently, and it's been a disservice to myself that I did not listen to this band sooner, as they check all the boxes of what I'm looking for in a sound-bending hardcore/metal band. I actually started with When I Die, Will I Get Better? as I recall seeing a ton of praise for that record last year, and absolutely fell in love with it. From there I went back to their first few EP's, and while they are vastly different from where the band would end up, are still incredibly solid efforts with a sound that is absolutely up my alley. Now in hindsight the many years of recommendations for this band make sense, as they encompass all things I love about extreme music. The honest, brutal aggression, the catharsis, the technical capabilities, the chemistry of a band to meld a vast array of sounds into a singular, tight unit, Svalbard does it all and does it well. From their hardcore/post-rock origins to their current (I guess you could call it "post-metal") sound, this band has not missed a beat in developing new, creative ways to play amongst each other while producing anthems and epics for us to experience.

I've said it before, but I hate making direct comparisons of one band to another (though I do it a lot), so don't take it necessarily as x sounds like y, rather; fans of y may also like x, if you know what I mean. Having said that, fans of Deafheaven, Oathbreaker, and Converge need to pay attention here, as this could easily be one of the most talented and definite hardcore acts to emerge out of recent years. I apologize profusely for putting this off for so long, and enjoy.

1. So Much For Meritocracy
2. The Damage Done
3. Anything Goes, Nothing Stays

1. Melting Hands
2. Never Look Back
3. Pick Up The Pieces
4. Leave It

1. Flightless Birds
2. For What It's Worth

1. Let It Die - War In The Head (7 Seconds cover)
2. Pariso - Straight Hypocrisy Images (Witch Cult/Weekend Nachos cover)
3. Svalbard - This Is The End (Victims cover)
4. Mine - Everybody Hates Me (Tear It Up cover)

1. Pariso + Svalbard - Floating Anchors
2. Pariso - Howl of The Forest
3. Pariso - Underground Notes
4. Pariso - Helios, The Demise
5. Pariso - Delirium
6. Svalbard - Ripped Apart
7. Svalbard - Grayscale
8. Svalbard - Allure
9. Svalbard + Pariso - Faceless

1. Perspective
2. Disparity
3. The Vanishing Point
4. Expect Equal Respect
5. Unrequited
6. The Damage Done
7. Unnatural Light
8. Lily

1. Ripped Apart
2. Grayscale
3. Allure
4. Floating Anchors
5. Faceless
6. This Is The End
7. Flightless Birds
8. For What It's Worth
9. Melting Hands
10. Never Look Back
11. Pick Up The Pieces
12. Leave It
13. So Much For Meritocracy
14. The Damage Done
15. Anything Goes Nothing Stays

1. The Tidal Sleep - Are You OK?
2. Svalbard - Open The Cages

1. Unpaid Intern
2. Revenge Porn
3. Feminazi
4. Pro-Life
5. For The Sake Of The Breed
6. How Do We Stop It
7. Try Not To Die Until You're Dead
8. Iorek

1. Open Wound
2. Click Bait
3. Throw Your Heart Away
4. Listen To Someone
5. Silent Restraint
6. What Was She Wearing?
7. The Currency Of Beauty
8. Pearlescent