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Review Round-Up: 9/15

By Bryan Menegus & Katie Webb

The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die/ Deer Leap - split

I've never heard of Deer Leap, and the only time I listened to TWIBP (as they abbreviate it on the record) was in a basement in New Haven, CT. I have no recollection of them being quite this lethargic or post-rock-y. Both groups mash emo and post-rock sensibilities in the way their contemporaries, Castevet, have been doing, albeit lacking some of Castevet's grit and force. TWIBP are unique and have their moments of genius, like on ‘Everything Will Be Okay'; Deer Leap area a bit unfocussed and derivative. Not an essential release, but TWIBP's side of this split is decent.

RIYL: Castevet, Algernon Cadwallader, Cucumbers

Grade: B-

 

Polar Bear Club- Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Although they always hovered around the bro-ish side of hardcore punk, Polar Bear Club knew their limits in a way that made 2009's Chasing Hamburg feel like it should have been a guilty pleasure, but inexplicably wasn't. However, on Clash Battle Guilt Pride the boys from Rochester have softened a bit and added more melody. Experimentation is natural as a band marinades in its own juices, but PBC are sounding more and more like buttrock. This record drops the ball in a big, unforgivable way. Times like these make me want a ctrl+z for bands.

RIYL: Hot Water Music, Have Heart, Meaningless Sex

Grade: C-

 

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Triple threat singer, songwriter, multi instrument player Annie Clark a.k.a. St. Vincent has just released her third album.  At the sweet age of twenty eight Clark is not new to the music industry, and her voice resonates with the maturity and depth of a veteran in the business.  The first thing that strikes listeners in her music is the indie pop style and the techno beats.  It would be easy to dismiss her music as low key club music, but the lyrics hidden underneath the in your face if not slightly obnoxious beats are witty and clever.  At times the sound is a bit grating, like in the song Cruel at parts the song sounds so over produced it is like the track is melting and dying.  However, the real lyrical substance begins to emerge in the song Cheerleader, ironically, when she sings, "I've told whole lies with a half smile."  If you can get past the overbearing techno pop, the lyrics have some decent artistic quality to them and her sweet voice is pleasantly buried in there somewhere too. 

RIYL: Oh Land, Fine Frenzy

Grade: C-

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost

The sophomore slump is a killer, but Girls sleekly surpasses this fatality with their new album "Father, Son, Holy Ghost."  The band has a sound like Elvis Costello and a Beach Boys feel with an indie rock twist.  The band calls San Francisco, California home, but do not assume all their songs are about hanging out on the beach and summer love.  There lyrics are heavily populated by forlorn love loss like the song Alex, "If somebody somewhere dies well who cares?  Well I don't.  Alex has black hair well who cares?  Well I do."  Listening to the song Alex, as well as other songs on the album, is like listening to someone read straight from there journal .  The feelings emoted are tender, bleak, youthful, and pained.  None of the songs feel generic, and even when playing with trite themes such as loss that have been done again and again Girls songs tap into something real and honest.  Not all the songs are light and sappy.  Looking for something darker or grittier?  The songs Vomit and Die have the black "get f**cked up… go to hell," sentiment you are looking for.  Regardless of how your ex is kicking your ass, or if you just want to listen to some cool use of the whammy bar or slick strumming during lengthy guitar solos this band deserves a listen. 

RIYL: Pavement, Elvis Costello

Grade: A-   

 

Wild Flag - Self Titled

Wild Flag is an all girl rock band with an eighties feel.  With her high pitched, edgy, quavering vibrato Carrie Brownstein sounds like the love child of Pat Benatar and Joan Jett.  The vocals are erratic and pronounced in choppy speech.  "We dance till we're dying we dance to free ourselves from the room," are the lyrics to the song Romance a proclamation of not being able to live without music.  Boom is another one of their songs that captivates attention.  The lyrics, "If you want a pretty picture better look away," are raw, emotional, and tough.  The style is best described as beautifully chaotic.  Despite being an all girl group, this band is not all frills and certainly not influenced by pop princess type music.  The guitar is hypnotic and the percussion paired with occasional keyboard, hand clapping, and tambourine will easily get stuck in your head, in a good way.  The band has the feeling of a garage band just starting out, and playing purely for the love of music.  An upbeat rhythm, semi psychedelic feel, and powerful lyrics are just a view of the reasons you will want to check out this new band.      

RIYL: Pat Benatar, Sleater-Kenny

Grade: B- 

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