July 10, 2009

CD's Received Today

Here's what we got in the office today:

Suit of Lights-Bacteria
Shiloh-Children of the Interstate
Maggie Seligman-Rubato
Clara Berry-Wave
The Femurs-Ride Together EP
Josh Kennedy- Varnishing Day
Dave Daniels- Just Like Ghosts
If Your Hands Were Metal That Would Mean Something- The People In Sync
Alan Cohen Experience- Eat the Peace
A Hawk and a Hacksaw-Deliverance
Davis Coen-Magnolia Land
Robots of Fury- Reverse in Reverse
Greg Foresman-Kodiak
Audrey Ryan- I Know, I Know
Jahdan Blakkamoore- Buzzrock Warrior

Buildings Breeding: Sweet Velcro Hooks

Words by Robbie Hilson; Photo by Jocelyn McGregor

“We were on a bum trip that show because we had to go last,” says Buildings Breeding singer and guitarist Christapher Larsen, defending a better-than-he-thinks mid-summer gig in San Francisco. Apologies to Mr. Larsen for the mental eye-rolling, but his band will have to get used to waiting around. This is, after all, what headliners do.

Then again, patience doesn’t rank very high on the virtues scale when you’re a touring band on the brink, and so all things dear to the Sacramento natives – from classic three-minute pop songs to zinging on-stage one-liners courtesy of drummer and de facto joke teller Melanie Glover – cut straight to the point. “In our band, there’s not a lot of room to noodle around,” Larsen says. “It’s a nice idea to just stick to what you want to get across.”

True to form, Buildings Breeding’s latest release, In the Key of Calloused Fingers, mines short-‘n-sweet territory, zipping along on nimble melody-driven ditties that further the humble sounds of 1960s pop and bedroom listening. It’s all catchy, all concise – qualities one might expect from an outfit that counts the Beach Boys and early T-Rex among its many influences. “You don’t have to be this mega rock force,” Larsen says, confident in the subtle power of songs like “Pitter Patter” and “Leaving Out the Punch.”

Of course, there’s nothing at all subtle about “Beesting.” Grounded in cocktail lounge grooves, beehive hairdos, and a diffuse guitar line somehow escaped from Yo La Tengo’s I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, the track’s martini-sipping riff spars with a breezy, foottapping chorus in an epic struggle for cool supremacy. “Beesting” also highlights the group’s airy vocal delivery, a track-by-track tradeoff between the soft, higher pitch of Larsen and the whispered hush of Glover. During rare moments of striking union, as in the ethereal chorus of “History,” the two voices become one, forming a breathy guy-girl purr, conjoined at the hip in harmony. It’s a rare kind of connection, and one that plays out on stage.

While the tunes aren’t always tight in a live setting – “There’s a charm to being sloppy,” says Larsen – the relationships certainly are. “Most of the time people can just tell that we like to be around each other,” he adds, citing the big-family dynamic of Sonic Youth as both reference and inspiration.

Still, if we’re making noise band comparisons (the similarities are few), My Bloody Valentine hits closer to home, especially in light of Calloused Fingers' two-pronged melodies and unexpectedly sturdy electric tones. “Polish Barely Holds,” for instance, hums along on the same subdued crunch that drives MBV’s “Sometimes.” Clocking in at a transient 73 seconds, the song would make nothing more than an early-album interlude if not for lead guitarist Kevin Dockter’s swirling solo introducing the final refrain. This is the kind of quirk that makes Buildings Breeding a tiny thing to cherish. Sweetly inviting upon first listen, alluring with repeat play, their canon of fleeting pop treasures at once delivers hooks adorned in Velcro. Each sticks: the spunky, pseudo-surf groove propelling “Skyline,” the fragile inflections lifting the chorus of “Youth Is All That’s Left,” and Chris Vogel’s creeping bass line haunting the starry-eyed “Emmawood.”

Perhaps these charms are a product of a predictably lean, bang-it-out approach. “I’ve always been a firm believer that if you work a song to death, you’ll hear it in the recording,” says Vogel of in-studio efficiency. “If the song just happens to come out in one or two takes, you’re going to totally get the magic that happened in that moment.”

And the moment is what this band is all about. “We were kind of waiting for it to come to us before,” Larsen admits. “Right now we’re more inclined to seek it out.” Already they’ve scorched the CMJ charts with their debut, landed a song on MTV’s Human Giant, and most importantly, won over a tough local crowd. Says Larsen, “I think we realized the other night that we might have broken into the scene because we played last and there were just as many people as there were in the beginning.” No surprise here – as with everything else Buildings Breeding, it was all just a matter of time. 

Mr. Brown
Mr. Brown Poetry
Savannah, GA
Recorded at AWOL Inc. studio | Produced by Alex
Goose of The Big Up | Additional production by
Nick Stein and DJ Trademark | Recorded and
mixed by Kid Syc | Additional recording and
mixing by Nick Stein and DJ Valis

Mid-20s, smartmouthed, free-associative, and unabashedly candid, this Savannah MC has a lot of what it takes to be a good Southern rapper. His rigid, percussive flow, paired with a frictionless diction, gives the impression his eyes don’t stray far from his book of rhymes, though, which separates him some from the free-flowing Southern mindset. That is not to say that Brown is lacking soul, but that the soul takes flight less in his delivery and more in his words.

Lively verses like, “My hunger pains won’t go away, it seems like I’m getting sicker/That must be why I’m spittin bars like I’m throwin up Snickers,” contrast with “They made cement with my dreams/ They’re not gonna be laughin when I’m smashin it” for a broad emotional spectrum. In “Plan Your Escape,” Brown laments a lost love, and earlier on “Be Here a Minute,” he raps about his relationship with Hip-Hop personified, a veritable lyrical rite of passage for any stern-worded MC.

He chides other rappers for their “redundant rhymes and unjustified verses,” stepping dangerously close to the stereotypical underground sermonizer, but falls back on lighthearted, jocular banter, stating his mantra, “they say the key to balance is moderation,” on one of the album’s strongest tracks, “The Right Amount.”

Behind the verses lay clean beats, with production duties shared by DJ Trademark, Kid Syc and Alex Goose. Soulful vocal and horn samples flow over simple drum patterns and sampled bass lines to set a very rapper-accessible scene for the debuting artist. By album’s end, Brown is exhausted, admitting that “even though I’m here I already feel like I’m gone.” Enlightening, but distressful all the same for such a young MC.

Look for a full length to drop sometime next year, and his crew Union of Sacred Monsters’ upcoming collaborative EP out this year.
-Jake Schnaidt

Letters & Numbers
Cat’s Game

San Francisco, CA
Engineered by Bruce Foster

Cat’s Game is the first release for indie-folk aficionado Letters & Numbers of TrackRecords. Nicholas Haughton’s semi-acoustic project features songs ranging fromthrowback Americana to exquisitely produced lo-fi pop. What’s more impressive is that he played almost every single instrument on the record. Musically, the songs are reminiscent of early Bright Eyes; vocally, Haughton draws comparisons to Weakerthans frontman John Samson; and lyrically, he channels the straightforward yet complex styling of The Mountain Goats. From start to finish, the album is full of intense metaphors, while remaining brutally honest. Honesty is something Haughton seems to pride himself on. He puts his heart on his sleeve, as evident by the track “Buying my Blues.” In this song, he admits he’s trying to sell his music, but essentially what he’s selling is his honesty, passion, trust, lies, failures and shortcomings. The song seamlessly transitions to the next track, “Paradiso Et Canto,” which also serves as the standout track on the record. It’s a classic story song about a love interest, but the music seems to vividly paint a picture of the scenes being described.

Most acoustic records have their down tracks. Although Cat’s Game has its moments of less than stellar execution of the musical style Letters & Numbers decided to churn out, the majority of the record flows in a streamlined manner for Haughton to channel his idols. “Unbelievable Sound” seems like something that could have come off one of the departed Elliot Smith’s earlier records. Of the rest of the album’s tracks, “In Reverie” seems to be the song where Haughton’s playful personality shines. The simple acoustic lines erupt into a powerful explosion of both musical and lyrical intensity.

The final track on the record is an epic, titled “Phantasmagoria.” The song’s progression shows the potential genius at work in Haughton’s mind. Letters & Numbers is a fresh light illuminating the singer-songwriter scene today. This artist’s enormous potential rests with his complex lyrical structures, mixed with his burgeoning musical ability. When the final track ends, you’re left wanting more, and isn’t that what you want from a first offering? (Track Records)
-Albert Opraseuth

July 9, 2009

Shooting an Elephant - The Finest in Hip-Hop Beef

Relying on Fox News to deliver the freshest in new music is like trusting Dick Cheney to invade Iraq with the best interests of its people in mind. But if you're that musically bankrupt, and you happened to check out Mike Huckabee's Fox News show a few weeks back, you might have caught the most insulting knee to hip-hop's balls since the 1985 Chicago Bears' “Super Bowl Shuffle.”

Straight from the slums of Dartmouth College come the Young Cons, two khakis and blue-blazer wearing sycophants taking aim at the “obamatrons” whose “ideas are lightweight” and careers are “in checkmate.” Yes, “cons” as in “conservatives.” Their flow is backed up like septic and their knowledge comes out of a Dick and Jane version of Republican talking points. Most likely attempting to fast-track their way into punditry, I'm sure they're unaware of the repugnant irony in co-opting a street-born culture, regurgitating it to fit their ignorant philosophies, and flippantly slapping slang like “con” – which more realistically refers to the one in nine black men aged 20 to 34 who are locked up or the 32 percent of black men born in 2001 who will do time in prison at some point during their lives.

Enter the Ol' Dirty Needle chamber, a/k/a Chris Faraone, a/k/a Fara1, a/k/a Goldman Sack, staff writer at the Boston Phoenix alt-weekly and human hip-hop encyclopedia. Until this point, ODN's MC career consisted of inebriated late-night freestyle cyphers and a half-joking appearance at one of Bloody Bean boom-bap mogul Edu Leedz's rap battles. But this obamatron can write like Al Franken smoking Eazy-E's dust (he's currently penning his city-by-city underground hip-hop scene travel book, tentatively titled Notes from the Underground).

Once Needle heard the Young Cons' “Young Con Anthem,” he ditched the work in front of him and started scribing. Lines like “My conservative view is drill baby drill / you can say you hate me but I'm praying for you still” and “Superman that socialism / Waterboard that terrorism” couldn't go unanswered. He originally tried spitting over the “Nas Is Like” DJ Premier beat, but realized it and many other classic joints were far too fast for his skills. Going through his instrumental collection, he settled on Eminem's Dr. Dre-produced “Just Don't Give a Fuck” for his “Shooting An Elephant (a/k/a Fuck the Young Cons).”

“This isn't about stooping to their level,” says Needle. “This is about diving into the abyss beyond that. The right-wing Fox News demographic doesn't respond to facts and reality. Maybe a bit of hyperactive hyperbole will get them squirming.” While the Young Cons stay true to their name and keep it clean, Needle full-on unloads the clip with f-bombs, sperm shots and church-steeple shanks.

“And fuck your game of chess / I 'll put RZA to the test / And bring ruckus like Wu-Tang up in that double breast.”

Though his rhymes slay and his references are impeccable (check the shout-out to Nas' invincible Jay-Z diss, “Ether”), Needles readily admits his weakness in flow. But that's not the point. He had to do it. “I'm incredibly aware that any decent MC could have done this better, but no decent MC would subject themselves to such a task,” ODN says.

“Wack Ivy League phonies / Don't tangle with Faraone-y / Not a Clinton fan / But you sure as hell can blow me.”

Needle's video, directed by Matt Abramson, toys with liberal stereotypes and features him in front of Starbucks, tossing a bottle in a recycling bin, and bouncing on a trampoline (?). Staying true to hip-hop's roots, unlike the Young Cons disaster, it slings gunplay, train tracks and weed smoke.

“Don't retreat to Nantucket / Man, fuck it / I catch your oyster ass out there and just straight up fuckin' shuck it.”

If this is the beginning of the beef, Needle says he'd rather hear a diss track from Dick Cheney in response. “He's Suge Knight without the rap sheet,” he says.

-By Nate Leskovic

The High Strung
Ode to the Inverse of the Dude

Detroit, MI
Produced, recorded and mixed by David Newfield
at Stars and Suns

No band works harder or tours longer than Motor City’s High Strung. This isn’t a ham-handed usage either – they truly deserve the “hardest working artist” crown. The High Strung is a true work horse: touring no less than 300 days a year while artfully leaping forward on each album and oozing critical praise like upscale cuisine. Yet the band remains largely unrecognized (possibly because trio indie rock already had its day).

Produced by David Newfield (Broken Social Scene, Los Campensinos), Ode to the Inverse… maintains the band’s early urgent guitar strides and trademark fidgety vocals, with Newfield waving his wand and adding complex flourishes and a litany of instrumental innovation. Busy acoustic guitar strums, lyrical bass (in the tradition of Broken Social Scene), elegant synths and kaleidoscopic rhythm injects the once-reductionist indie rock trio into monolithic ensemble.

With “Standing at the Door of Self-Discovery,” the album begins ironically with a choir singing, “Standing at the door of self-discovery/Where the air is cold/the feelings are old/but you reconsider them” – a foretelling indication that something completely strange and new is about to happen. From there, the album wanders into a series of songs that explore vocal diversity, textural rhythm, experimental hooks and walls of sound. Singer Josh Malerman’s characteristic tone leads the charge, with quirkiness in check and reflective charm: “Give me one second where I’m out of character/Give me one moment where I’m not the same” (“Out of Character”).

Ode to the Inverse… sparkles with buoyant optimism and makes for a grand escape from throwback garage punk. This is the ambitious paradigm shift The High Strung has been itching for. The album has complexity and multidimensional interest that’ll give the most dubious indie rock fan a revision to their 2009 top 10 list. (Park the Van Records)
-Christopher Petro

Haziq Ali
Business is Good

Atlanta, GA /Washington, DC

Haziq Ali is a dual-city MC who claims both Atlanta and Washington, DC as his stomping grounds. He was the recipient of the “Icon of the Underground” award in 2005 from the Atlanta Underground Awards and is on a quest to take ownership of the hip-hop crown. With his recent release, Business is Good, Haziq has crafted a sensational indie hip-hop album full of intelligent rhymes, quick quips, catchy hooks and a hint of pop sensibility.

The record opens with the titular track, “Buisness is Good,” where he boldly claims in the first line, “I had a dream about God and he looked just like me.” This valorous statement sets the tone for the rest of the record. All too often lyricists don’t have the intellect or wit to back up their claims; however, Haziq Ali has the tools by the truckload. The second track, “Godspeed,” is a mission statement of sorts for him. He sends his message out over a beat that evokes an image of the MC giving a speech to his followers about his journey and future.

Throughout the record the lyrics draw you into the songs, but the beats keep you locked onto the message. He’s one of those rare rhyme slingers who can take a song, listen to the beat, and craft his words to augment or take the mood in a contradictory direction. On “Mash Up,” the somewhat depressing and ominous beat is accentuated by a story that’s uplifting and inspiring. Songs like “On Point,” “There He Goes Again…,” “Freedom,” and “Used To Be Like” are the paramount tracks and examples of Haziq at his lyrical heights.

Although most of his material is deep and thoughtful, Haziq still falls into some of the traps and fallacies some relatively unknown rappers get into: spitting about some of the same cliché topics — girls, money, the quest for power and flaunting the spoils of “the game” — inasmuch as one wordsmith can without commercial success. However, the overwhelming majority of the record is a fresh surprise, with some sweet live instrument tracks peppered throughout. A minor note: Some of the production quality on the record is less than stellar; however, at times it serves its purpose of complementing his indie/ underground sound. This release should definitely take Haziq to the next level and overall it is solid as titanium steel. (Organized Rhyme LLC)
-Albert Opraseuth

Extra Golden
Thank You Very Quickly

Washington, D.C./Nairobi, Kenya 
Recorded in Washington, D.C. | Mixed by Jonathan Kreinik and Nikhil Ranade

Washington, D.C.-based fusionfunksters Extra Golden’s first studio release in two years is a joyous, boisterous celebration, the embodiment of a hippie who whirls around a little too fast at a festival and falls over himself in a giggling heap. Thank You Very Quickly displays the band’s signature blend of American and Kenyan musical styles. The album is punctuated by classic rock guitar breaks that prevent Extra Golden from veering into uncontrolled jam-band territory, and the clean, rich production work of Jonathan Kreinik and Nikhil Ranade adds polish to a sound that throbs with spontaneity. The band’s natural disposition to long-form exploration complements the album’s length: with only six tracks and clocking in at under 40 minutes, Extra Golden is free to take a long walk through its chosen themes.

Thank You Very Quickly marks a new chapter in the band’s songwriting. Time and again, this album’s songs begin in one direction, then rapidly pivot to a different feel. The second track, “Fantasies of the Orient,” exemplifies the pattern: safe, strummy guitars lull us into a false sense that we know where the song’s going, only to have drums fall in behind a driving vocal part. “Fantasies of the Orient” also displays Extra Golden’s increasingly sophisticated storytelling ability, and the track suggests that the band might have finally found a way to reconcile and marry disparate aspects of Western and African lyrical traditions. Take one part story-accessible-to-Western-audiences, add non-linear storytelling, sprinkle liberally with tried-and-true rock conventions, and place in oven pre-heated to 420 degrees for 35 minutes; pairs well with a fruity sauvignon blanc, serves eight.

It’s difficult to say where this album peaks – five of the six tracks are daring, imaginative, and just as fun to listen to the 10th time as the first. But the album’s least inspired effort is certainly its last, the eponymous “Thank You Very Quickly.” The song starts off with a Kenyan-inspired electric guitar part that seems to have all the energy needed for the album’s final 6:46, but a ponderous vocal line creates a weight the airy drums and happy-go-lucky guitar can’t bear; the result feels like something left on Dave Matthews’ cutting room floor.

Aside from the last song, however, Thank You Very Quickly is an uplifting, ecstatic romp, a romantic comedy starring Classic Rock and Kenyan Benga. “Pine Yore Yore” makes outstanding use of call-and-response structure, while freeing up the rhythm section to explore the song’s funk roots, and the spacey “Ukimwi” provides a welcome down-tempo change of pace. The album is imbued with a laid-back sense of ease and the chaotic bliss of an outdoor festival, and Extra Golden’s admixture of dense African polyrhythms and straight-ahead rock serves as a bridge for fans who might otherwise overlook a new genre. (Thrill Jockey)
-Dan Weber

July 8, 2009

French Miami, By Sunlight, Silian Rail |Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, CA | June 10, 2009

“Oh my…” This guy’s voice trails off. He shakes his head. He was standing in the front as well. He is inconsequential to the French Miami story, yet his sentiments are not – he is not the only one who feels this way. So take the following with a grain of salt – yes, it is written in hyperbole. But know, too, that people only talk gibberish when they’ve seen something they cannot put into words.


For Silian Rail, it’s almost a shame that it played out this way, because for half an hour, the Bay Area duo’s dazzling post-rock put into a play a ’78 Van Halen vs. Sabbath scenario (albeit on a fraction of the scale): the talented, no-name undercard blows away the headliner with technical ecstasy. Robin Landy and Eric Kuhn simultaneously played more instruments than the limitations of four limbs usually allow. Landy crafted stuttering, bass-like guitar lines drenched in spacey atmosphere; Kuhn played everything else – tat-tat drums, synths, guitar, glockenspiel – and sometimes all at once. Unburdened by vocals, the guitar (the spitting image of Lennon’s B&W Rickenbacker) spoke volumes, periodically constructing heavy walls of sound via lose-yourself, blitzkrieg riffing.

These grandiose sonic textures flowed naturally into the following set, a free-floating mood jam by Seattleite quartet, By Sunlight. Compared to Silian Rail, this foursome offered more – more melody, more drone, more echo, more – um – members. Plus, they may or may not have performed one 40-minute song, an unbroken marathon-medley that would make Jethro Tull envious. Also of note, singer/guitarist Mike Sparks is a dead-ringer for Stephen Malkmus, so should this career flop (it won’t), he’s got a future fronting Pavement tributes.


But enough gratuitous foreplay. Let’s cut to the chase. The chase is French Miami, a three-pronged bolt of lighting made of blissful noise from the heavens. Propulsive blasts of angular guitar clatter, each electro flare-up sent another violent current rippling through the club’s floorboards. “Science Fiction” and “Multi Caliber Rifles” worked Rickshaw Stop into a hopped-up dance bender. Kids moved because they couldn’t help it – energy bomb goes off; frenzy ensues. With “SFO,” the San Francisco dynamo pumped disco full of Red Bull and 1,000 volts of diabolic synth discord. If these walls could talk, they’d be speechless. This is what it’s like to hear for the first time, and so I say to myself, “Hey, hearing frickin’ rocks.”

-Words and photos by Robbie Hilson


CD's Received Today

Here is what we got in the office today:

Hornet Leg- Ribbon of Fear
Rose Melberg- Homemade Ship
Why?- Eskimo Snow
All Left Out – We’re Alive
Hoosier Mountain Restoration Gospel
Tristan Da Cunha – Irrevolution
Talbot Tagora – Lessons in the woods or a City
Markmichael – More than Words
ZO2 – Casino Logic
Buckfast Superbee – Turn of the Radio Age
People РThe Clich̩
The Darlings
Benjamin R – The Other Side of Nowhere
Sugar Knives
Grand Archives – Keep in Mind Frankenstein
Sipo- Year of the White Rose
Estrella Cristina – This is Life
Hippie Cream – On the Moon
Kaleo Futuristico – The Future is Now
PJ Pacifico – Always & Everywhere
John O’Mara – Five Year Mission
The Cranes are Flying – Banging my Head EP
Wild Beasts-Two Dancers
The Empties-Self-titled
Nathaniel Sutton- Starlite
Pill Hill Radio- Self-titled
Shakyfoot- Down on the Rain
Prism/BMOP: Bolcom/Mackey- Concertos for Saxophone Quartet
Sean Walsh and the National Reserve- Homesick

Corndogorama Music Festival

 Features the song "Kill What You Can" by Thy Mighty Contract.

Corndogorama | East Atlanta, GA | June 27-28, 2009
Corndogorama 2009 was a lot of fun, a lot of sun, a little rain, some carnival games, a bunch of bands, some soccer fans, a ton of $4 PBR, even more vodka infused watermelon and lots and lots of corndogs.


Founded in 1996 by Dave Railey, Corndogorama began as an ingenious birthday party/band promotion opportunity combo. Since then, it’s grown into a full blown indie music festival in Atlanta. This was its first year as an exclusively outdoors event. In the past, it has been hosted by a handful of Atlanta bars. This year, Corndogorama took place right outside The Earl (which served as a haven for air conditioning and drinks-not-$4 PBR).

Me and Albert at the Performer Tent!

Although our tent was just out of viewing range of the stage, we could still hear the music perfectly, and our spot near the entrance, directly in front of the porto-potties, guaranteed prime people-watching seats. On Saturday, the first group to visit our tent was a girl in a red Marilyn Manson baby-T, her mother and her father.

Mother: “So these are free magazines? Honey, do you want a magazine?”

Girl: shakes head to indicate “no,” looks away

Father: “You sure? It’s about music. It’s a music magazine.”

Girl: rolls eyes and begins to wander away.

Father and Mother: shrug shoulders and walk away.

Despite this slow start, we soon completely ran out of mags. Albert (Opraseuth) had to go steal some from The Earl where, naturally, he was questioned as to why he was walking in, taking an entire stack of magazines, then immediately leaving.

Sunday was much like Saturday except that at 3 p.m., Albert and 40 percent of the other Corndogorama attendees vacated the premises in order to catch the U.S. vs. Brazil soccer game and get sloppy drunk at The Midway Pub. I, meanwhile, was content to hold down the tent, listen to Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun, and wait for Albert to get back, flushed and frustrated.

So, gettin’ the cons out of the way…

Con: $4 PBR!

PBR was a sponsor for Corndogorama, and I hear it’s quite the hip beer to drink these days … but $4 PBR! I guess PBR does support a lot of local music events, and I get the whole support those who support you thing. It’s cyclical. It makes sense. But $4 PBR! People enjoy PBR because it’s cheap. At least I do. Pabst’s whole marketing campaign for this Miller Brewing Company-made beer is founded on its low price and even more low-key marketing. At Corndogorama, however, it looked like the skies had rained down blue ribbons and PBR was four dollars. $4 PBR? Come on guys …

Pro within a con!: Word has it, part of PBR’s marketing plan includes sponsoring events for indie musicians who come to them and say, “Hey, we really like your beer. Wanna sponsor our thing?” In general, PBR’s underground marketing concept is respectable, straight forward, and not patronizing. I’d pick it over boobs and bros any day.

Con: At times there seemed to be more press than people just chillin. Most of my favorite bands played early in the day, before anyone got there! Before 3 p.m., 50 percent of the people at Corndogorama had snazzy cameras with which they took strategically-angled-to-make-the-crowd-seem-bigger pictures of the other 50 percent of people there. One popular strategy was to totally avoid the crowds and take extreme close-ups of the bands. It felt odd to see some of my favorite bands play in a contrived seeming setting. On the other hand, people that happen to be into photography often happen to be into indie music as well so it all could have been a coincidence.

Pro within a con! Electric Cycles might not have been the best band of the day, but their bassist definitely struck the most rockin’ poses. With at least five cameras within 10 feet of his feet, he lunged, snarled,and worked those heavily tatted legs his mother gave him. I’m almost 100 percent sure he was 100 percent serious. It was glorious.

Con: Saturday ended with Modern Skirts instead of a good band from Atlanta. Their “awkward indie-guy” dance moves seemed a little too rehearsed. Maybe I’m just biased because Jay Gully was wearing a UMiami T-shirt. I went to that school for two years. I transferred.

PROS! Basically the music, specifically…

Attractive Eighties Women: They were one of the first bands to play Corndogorama. They apologized to those who brought children before playing “Surfing or AIDS I’ll Take Surfing.” They were perfect for putting people in a “it’s one in the afternoon but fuck it it’s party time” mood.


Nomen Novum: These guys were legit. Two guys standing in front of laptops isn’t inherently entertaining, but their music more than made up for it. Plus, they had the cutest, most endearingly awkward dancer ever (but with a whatever-we-all-know-this-is-a-funny-dance smile) dancing around them.

Thy Mighty Contract: I went home for a quick lunch and nap. That turned into a two-hour nap. That turned into me missing Thy Mighty Contract. That turned into a sad face because I love Thy Mighty Contract and listen to their self-titled album like daily in my car. When I got back to Corndogorama, Albert asked, “Do you listen to Thy Mighty Contract because they just played a really great set then came over and talked to me?” Despite my sadness at missing out, this made me really excited because it validated my taste and confirmed that Thy Mighty Contract were indeed as good live as they are on their CD.

Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun: Sunday afternoon was getting a bit lackluster. Then Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun came with some fun and refreshing indie-electro (and not just the kind that 14 year old girls put on their MySpace or whatever the kids do these days). I even left my boyfriend in charge of the Performer tent so I could meander toward the stage and catch their show. It’s too bad most people missed out because they were getting shit-faced and watching soccer. I’m talking to you Albert (even though I guess I can understand the appeal of potentially watching something historic and enjoying air-conditioning).

Sunday closed much more to my liking than Saturday: Judi Chicago and Abby Go-Go both put on great shows (duh), and the day ended with Dead Confederate. It was a satisfying ending to great weekend of local music, but I think Corndogorama ran later than noise policy allows or something. Right after Dead Confederate finished their set, police armed with flashlights charged into the lot and chased everyone out to Flat Shoals. Of course this only made the end of Corndogorama even more satisfying because everyone knows that being chased down by the police is the most “rock n’ roll” way one can end a weekend.

-Words and Photos by Kristen Fox; video by Albert Opraseuth

Working Through the Hype: Passion Pit

Words by Jay D'Errico
Photos by Chrissy Piper

At the corner of Commonwealth and Harvard, just steps from the tracks that bring the T squealing into downtown Boston, is Allston’s Great Scott. It’s a tiny venue – a bar with a stage, really – and it attracts a decent following on Friday nights for its weekly dance party, The Pill. Tickets are usually cheap. The music: anything with a beat. On an uncharacteristically hot Friday this past May, however, whispers and online chatter had people lining up around the block, hours before the doors opened. Many never made it in to see the secret show; the line was still there when it all ended. The headliner? Passion Pit.

Imagine! Oracular Spectacular with V-necked tennis sweaters from an Ivy League school! Wow, the surreal sounds that could come out of that … it’d probably be a lot better than that Nietzsche-misquoting, Thriller-biting, Yellow Submarine on PCP and Joanna Newsom-sans-the-harp schlockfest video for “Kids” that those boys from Wesleyan are trying to shill on us a WHOLE YEAR after I got used to the fan made video on YouTube. It sounds like 2008, anyway.

Nobody’s really sure what causes music blogs with these kind of posts to circle the wagons around a new band of the moment, nor can anyone identify the tipping point when a backlash begins. One thing is certain though, the push and pull is always happening. At the time of this writing, it’s happening to Passion Pit, a band that formed in Boston with a Cinderella back story, a band that recently released their debut LP, Manners, to much fanfare. It’s this organic, burbling, pop monster that’s actually a bunch of sad-sack songs dressed up in dance music; an album that won’t have any problems on the house-party speakers, or peeking out the little window of your iPod Nano armband you wear on the treadmill. The remarkable thing about Passion Pit, aside from the accolades already showered upon the group, is how the band came to be.

Michael Angelakos remembers telling his parents, ever since he was in kindergarten, that hewanted to be a musician. It was something he’d been working on his whole life, and as a student of media arts at Emerson College in Boston, he’d create music to make his roommates dance. He was always falling behind in commitments to his girlfriend; things were either left undone or weeks late. Angelakos wrote her an apology/Valentine in the form of a collection of songs. They were beautifully lo-fi, earnestly poppy, and remarkably catchy. The songs were passed around Angelakos’ friends, and they soon made their way around Emerson.

After an impromptu, one-off solo performance of the material, Angelakos was approached by Ian Hultquist, who asked if he wanted to flesh the ideas out with a live band. Angelakos deferred at first, as it wasn’t something he was interested in. Then he came around to the idea and formed the band, very simply, because he didn’t have anything else going on. “I was more or less talked into it,” he says. “The whole band thing came about because I had nothing else to do.”

In addition to Hultquist, Angelakos surrounded himself with a group culled from the Berklee College of Music: Ayad al Adhamy, Jeff Apruzzese and Nate Donmoyer (an electronica producer under the name Shuttle); all self-proclaimed “guitar guys.” They began to translate the songs into a live show. Angelakos wasn’t interested in playing with a laptop, but he wanted to recreate it without guitars.

“We were interested in the idea of being guitarists who play keyboards,” he says. “Because we don’t have any training in that particular instrument, perhaps that allows us to play the instrument differently, naturally. So we use that to our advantage.”

Angelakos’ original collection of songs was subsequently released on Frenchkiss Records as the Chunk of Change EP in September 2008, and Frenchkiss up-streamed their contract with Passion Pit to major label Columbia Records in November of that same year. In shopping around for a label, Angelakos says, “[we] wanted one that would be less of a really good label, and one that’s more of a really good mentor.” He dispels the horror stories often associated with signing to a major, saying it couldn’t be any farther from the truth.

Passion Pit began working on songs for their first full length at the end of 2008, and Angelakos began recording them in New York City with producer Chris Zane (Harlem Shakes, The Walkmen, Les Savy Fav). According to Angelakos, Zane was the perfect fit as a young, talented producer because he didn’t simply put his stamp on the music. He was into exploring the studio every bit as much as the band. “The bottom line, he realized his true love for pop, and so did we,” explains Angelakos. “So we basically got to be on the same page like a quarter or halfway through the recording, and that made everything so much more exciting.” 
Angelakos did most of the songwriting and performing on the new album, but left the percussion duties to his ace programmer and drummer, Nate Donmoyer, who spent quite a bit of time in the studio as well.

Manners was released May 19, and one thing that’s immediately apparent is the depth of sound on the record. While Chunk of Change reveled in thin ribbons of melody, Manners is an exercise in breadth. The combination of live and programmed drums (with a heavy dose of hand percussion) with actual synthesizers makes the album burst out of the speakers. The true coup de grace is Angelakos’ use of the children’s chorus of PS22 on Staten Island: he fired dozens of kids up with sodas and pizza, and had them belt out melodies on several tracks. Angelakos’ go-to synth is a Yamaha SK-30 (it shows up on everything), and he used a Minimoog Voyager for a bunch of lead lines, as well as a few Roland Junos to round out the mix. The sum of these analog polysynths is a much thicker and vibrant-sounding record.

Passion Pit seems to be doing everything right, and their story reads like one stroke of luck after another. To go from forming the band on a whim, to creating a record on a major label that does not make concessions is a wonderful thing, and they’re more than satisfied with their current situation – but Angelakos warns against the belief there’s a formula to follow for success.

“When you’re thinking about your sound,” he says with conviction, “and you’re thinking about your project and the way you’re being perceived as an artist, you can’t try, you can’t sound a certain way, you can’t work to look a certain way, because people can smell those who are genuine. Of all the projects I worked on or developed myself, this one came to be somewhat recognized because I just sat down and started making music and that’s what seemed to resonate with people. Because I wasn’t trying to be anything but myself. To me now, that’s most shocking thing that’s ever happened. I can try hard, and try to make and play all these different kinds of music, try to look cool, or try to do things that aren’t exactly fitting how I’m feeling at the time, and then the one project that actually gets recognized is the project that I put the least amount of work in because I really just did it from my heart.” These sentiments might read like the same hackneyed “just be yourself” you’ve heard ever since you were a kid, but Angelakos’ voice was both emphatic and sincere in his delivery.

In this age of home recording and laptop production, it’s easy to forget there’s a bigger sea to swim in – albeit with “this should be the lead single” and “brighten up the mix” decisions made by men looking for that Successor To Berry Gordy plaque to hang on the wall of the corner office. But big label recording studios can also be the historic world of Yamaha CS-80s, Royer ribbon mics, and oh my God those are the Coke Cans they used on Pet Sounds! mysticism. Some bands don’t realize until the confetti is being swept up that it’s been a while since they made a decision about their own music, but Passion Pit is not one of these casualties: they’ve made a record they’re proud of, with more resources than they had ever expected. They’ve been invited to a party bigger than they ever dreamed of, and they’re just happy to be there.

Listen to Passion Pit: myspace.com/passionpitjams

Born Like This.

New York, NY 
Produced by DOOM, J Dilla, Madlib and JakeOne | Mixed by Terence Cash and mastered by Morgan Garcia at Upstairs Studio in Atlanta

Show promoters may have a Superman/Lex Luthor relationship with Daniel Dumile. The masked MC has been known to start shows late, use imposters as stand-ins and have cronies that stiff doormen. Even so, DOOM is revered as a musical champion for balancing quality with quantity. Releasing music under innumerable aliases, and skipping labels like a nonchalant consumer, his discography runs like a fugitive who can’t shake the creating bug – with him producing and rhyming under names like King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn, Metal Fingers and MF DOOM and partnering with greats like Madlib or Danger Mouse.

Born Like This follows and expands upon trends DOOM has trademarked, while offering an unapologetic ascertainment of his villainous stature. He evades four cuts on the 17-track album to demonstrate instrumental prowess and boost his badness. “Cellz” is an odd spin to a title track featuring deceased poet Charles Bukowski reciting “We, Dinosauria” over an appropriately apocalyptic beat. In response to Bukowski’s desolate drone, “We are/Born like this/Into this/Into hospitals that are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die,” DOOM boasts being, “A bad Samaritan/Averaging above average men.”

In a comic book montage of DOOM’s world, he turns his razor-sharp wit away from its usual victim, himself, and aims at whoever crosses its path. Stacking punchlines like poker chips, superheroes are berated on the controversial “Batty Boyz,” while snitches and police are warned on “Absolutely,” which brilliantly converts a sample of Earth Wind and Fire’s “Brazilian Rhyme” into a siren-like loop. Cameos from countless MCs, as well as background vocals from the likes of Prince Paul alongside DOOM’s appropriation of J Dilla’s “Lightworks,” make Born Like This an invaluable installment to the chronicles of DOOM. All in a day’s work for a supervillain. (Lex Records)
-Ingrid Sibley

Aurora Ahora

Los Angeles, CA
Recorded by Scott Flammer at the RecRoom in Anaheim, CA | Mastered by Mark Chalecki | Produced by Scott Flammer

Survival in Los Angeles is predicated on harnessing relationships. The City precipitates artist communities like rain-forming puddles. Downtown/Union began as a bluesy duo project of drummer Jeff Hartline and singer/guitarist Bo Bory. Over some years the band evolved into an artful four-piece with help from L.A.’s best indie rock purists, the Henry Clay People (Andy and Joey Siara).

Their debut is rooted in the 1990s, circa hair-in-the-eyes college rock (Pavement and Guided By Voices) where bass/drums/guitar were source to limitless inspiration. Here, blistering fingers and rattling vocals mingle with driving guitars and Hartline’s splashy rhythm.

Aurora Ahora is a yearning, traditional indie rock record injected with soulful simplicity. It’s tactfully paced like a 1950s album, interlacing patient balladry with fundamental (verse/chorus) rock. Soaring melody and sturdy rhythm are the foundation, while singer Bo Bory’s naked and sloppy tone delivers like an easy verse. Bory’s literate lyrics are faintly veiled by the tangled instrumentation, which generates album depth (and overcomes occasional musical shortcomings). His lyrical style nods to a Replacements-era Paul Westerberg, particularly on anthemic highlights “Gypsy Carousel” and “Pretty Baby Aquanet,” where the hollering cadence arrives matter-of-factly without sounding punk-watered down.

“Bright Idea” and “Hearts Fall from Aeroplanes” show the most potential, featuring ebbing guitar melody in the vein of Power, Corruption and Lies-era New Order. These tracks also feature less vocal assertion, which gives the instrumentation a tight-knit, seemingly organic feel. The verse/ chorus framework offers traditional simplicity and is where the band hits its stride.

Aurora Ahora is a sparkling and sunny California debut with lots of ideas, signaling a promising up-and-comer moving into further inspired and ambitious territory. (self-released)
-Christopher Petro

July 7, 2009

The Hammerheads | The Knitting Factory | Los Angeles, CA | July 2, 2009

Welcome to the Second Revivalist Church of Rock’n’Roll. Tonight’s sermon will be given by none other than The Hammerheads, whose souls have been purged clean in the fires of eternal damnation and have come back to spread the irresistible message of the four saints, John, Paul, George and Mick. Please put your hands and Stratocasters together for the one, the only…

OK, when the Hammerheads hit the stage it wasn’t quite like that. The Hammerheads weren’t playing at a church, but as the final band of the night in KROQ and Tecate’s Battle for Los Angeles, a multi-round battle of the bands for local talent at Hollywood’s Knitting Factory. In their 40-minute set, they belted out a frantically infectious mix of rock’n’roll flavors and punk tempos, with tunes like “Girl (Not Yet a Woman),” “Dirty Girl,” “Wooden Leg” and “Spoonful.”

But they may as well have been our preachers for the night – the Hammerheads are, in the truest sense of the word, a rock’n’roll revival band, reaching back to both the Rolling Stones and the black church in music, attitude and presentation. During show closer “Woman,” singer-guitarist Anton Yelchin and singer-bassist Dave Glowacki convulsed like madmen on the floor, possessed by the raw energy of the music. Between songs, Glowacki and Yelchin’s MC5-style banter quickly degenerated (or elevated, depending on your perspective) into call-and-response gibberish, working each other and the audience into a feverish frenzy. Like the best of congregations, the audience proved receptive to the Hammerhead’s message – even the obviously out-of-place hardcore fans indulged in some good-old-fashioned rock dancing.

In the style of their idols, the Hammerheads struck a balance between all-out energy and detached cool, with drummer Ryan Dean and slick lead guitarist Darian Campbell prodding the band relentlessly forward, even at the set’s more sedate moments. But at all times, The Hammerheads remained in control, grooving together nicely and hitting cues on time – even if it meant popping up from the floor.

And, wouldn’t you know, there were some believers in the house: The Hammerheads won the evening’s battle, moving them to the finals on July 30.

-By Dean Schaffer


The Emotron, Math the Band, Twin Thunder, Tasty Beverage | WonderRoot | Atlanta, GA | June 22, 2009

My distinguished colleague, Mr. Albert Opraseuth has a band called Tasty Beverage. He had never mentioned said band to me, so I was ridiculously excited to see them live. Also, since he’d never mentioned said band to me, I was worried they’d suck. But they totally didn’t, which was a relief because now I can confidently say that they played a great opening set. Tasty Beverage was for the most part instrumental and atmospheric but not in an indulgent sort of way. I definitely would have liked to hear them play longer. Next would have been Die Benny, but in a twist of fate that leads me to suspect that we’re all living in a tragically bad episode of Scrubs, the guitar player for Die Benny injured his hand in a car accident. NOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooo! Yes.

Luckily, Twin Thunder was able to fill in, and people were willing to mill around WonderRoot and drink beer as adjustments were made. Die Benny were even able to put their tragedy behind them and come out to the show.

Anyway, after Tasty Beverage was Twin Thunder, the heroes who saved the day on short notice. They were friendly, funny, played well and everything turned out OK. If you want to know more about Twin Thunder, Albert did a review of their CD, Twin Thunder and the Mad Lionists, in our May issue. 

Kevin and Justine of Math the Band hung out and were super friendly and unassuming before they played, but once they started playing, they never stopped jumping. Never. It was like watching a couple of fitness gurus, except they totally own fitness gurus at their own fitness game by somehow playing bouncy synth-pop while still doing a routine that could be sold as “Thrash Aerobics Volume 3 PARTY PARTY PARTY!“ Oh, and they also cover Andrew W.K. songs. They’re the complete party package. 

After The Emotron played, Die Benny drummer Jeff Claxton said, “I think I’ve seen the Emotron play like 90 times and I think I’ve seen him light his dick on fire like 90 times.”
Indeed, this stunt was the culmination of a masterfully choreographed, all-American striptease, but what The Emotron offered to us that night was much more than just his flaming genitals in a mesh thong leotard. As John Wayne Gacy once said of GG Allin, “The human is just another animal who is able to speak out freely, to express himself clearly. Make no mistake about it, behind what he does is a brain."

The Emotron is really fucking witty. Plus he seems cuter and less psychotic then GG. If GG Allin is modern, The Emotron is postmodern (this may be contrived and a sign that I’ve taken too many lit classes and spent too many late nights watching documentaries on Pitchfork). Basically, I highly recommend The Emotron’s MySpace

-Words by Kristen Fox; photos by Nick Leng; video by Albert Opraseuth
Brian Ledford
The Truth and Love

Seattle, WA
Produced, engineered and mixed by Matt Brown | Mastered by JJ Golden at Golden Mastering | Recorded Oct. 2008 to Feb. 2009 at The Brewery Recording Company in Seattle | Mixed Feb. 2009 at Avast! Studios in Seattle

“Marooned” opens up an album by Brian Ledford, a powerful portrait of Americana roots rock that paints a story of finding the meaning of life, through travel and time.

The Truth and Love is a feel-good album that blends the grainy, soulful, raw passionate vocals of Ledford, strong storytelling, and a powerful backing group complete with horns.

Ledford fills his songs with passion, lacing each melody with his intricate, subtle phrasing. The title track begins to reveal Ledford’s deep emotional palette, as the songs begin to spell pain and longing. You can certainly sense it in his vocal delivery as he sings, “If that’s the price of love, then please, take it back, cause the truth ain’t worth it anymore.”

“Stones on the Bottom of the Sea” brings the listener to the inner core of Ledford, as the song delivers the goods: great vocals, a great story and a great atmosphere.

This song, perhaps one of the album’s best, truly brings you to the scene, as if Ledford is saving you from the ocean’s wake. Here you’ll find riveting percussion, complete with utterly beautiful cymbals splashing, like the splashing of waves, crashing along the shore. In this song, as throughout the album, you’ll hear the punch and fury of distorted guitars and rolling, droning bass lines. “Please! Someone rescue me from the bottom of the sea,” sings a sad and lonely Ledford.

“Borderline” provides even more depth and atmosphere to Ledford’s overall sound. It further penetrates the listener with whirling Hammond organs and slide guitars – easily giving the song shimmer and shine. An album detailing happiness, sorrow, fear and conquering fear, The Truth and Love is a perfect concept piece, building character sketches of people traveling far distances to finally sense of glimpse of something special. You’ll hear it in “The Plan (Is Revealed).”

Not all will be able to travel, write, play songs and experience what Ledford has, yet his music will be with us as close as our headsets. And his music can transport us there. (Sound Squared Records)
-Shawn M. Haney
That Thing That You Want to Put a Finger to is Because

Boston, MA
Recorded at The Milkhouse in Allston, MA, and The Moontower in Cambridge, MA | Produced and engineered by Shane O’Connor | Mixed by Shane O’Connor at Starlab Studio in Somerville, MA | Mastered by Lance Riley

To call Blackbutton a dynamic duo would be both a slight to the word “dynamic” and to the group’s unofficial third member: the distortion pedal. Stripped down – nay, stripped naked – electro-blues, That Thing… comes off both more concise and more coherent than its words-out-of-a-hat title would suggest. For this, one can credit the potency of an unadulterated formula. Guitar plus drums. Plug in.

It’s a simple proposition, one that goes where many a Jack White has gone before – to the scuzz-filled backwaters of the Mississippi Delta. And that’s a long, circuitous trek for these Boston boys, especially considering that guitarist Jordan Tavenner spent four years playing these tunes acoustically sans drummer/force of nature Anshul Jain. The transition from coffeehouse crooner to barnstorming guitar hero seems an unnatural one, granted, but these 10 tunes take to their newly wired digs like hot sauce to grits.

Fiery leadoff “Babygirl” only whets the appetite. Crawling above a typical note-bending blues line, the song’s angst soaked meditations build from low grumble to tortured bark, slowly stoking the monster of a riff clawing for release. Sure enough, at the 2:18 mark, all hell breaks loose – turn the speakers to the front yard and watch the grass wilt.

Given the album’s grunge-ian lyrical shortcomings, it stands to reason that the best passages occur when that overheated guitar lays waste to everything in its path, vocals included. Enter slide workout “Rose’s Roses” and “The Physical and Functioning Integrity,” the latter a knock-down, drag-out, back-alley beating that adapts Wolfmother’s “Joker and the Thief” into a primitive six-string gauntlet. Just pummeled skins and cranked-up riffing, this track, like its makers, proves a pure thing of long ago – not so much a reinvention of the wheel as the wheel itself. (self-released)
-Robbie Hilson

July 6, 2009

Alexis Babini
Breaking It In

Fairfield, CT
Produced by Ed Valauskas | Recorded and
engineered by Rafi Sofer at Q Division Studios

Upon first listen, Breaking It In sounds like a nice enough, well-produced and polished EP from a talented young songwriter. But by the second time around, an underlying subtle complexity seeps into the listener and deceives with its seeming effortlessness. Think of James Taylor, or Peter Gabriel on “Solsbury Hill.” The successful marriage of melody and lyrics is what makes an audience listen to the importance of a song, and not to its constructs. This can never be underestimated when it comes to affecting music.

Such is what we find on Alexis Babini’s debut EP
Breaking It In. Powerful, gripping melodies and simple, yet evocative lyrics are pervasive. Babini also avoids a major pitfall for many songwriters: the dreaded second verse. This is evident on “Caroline,” where he lulls, “In your room my disguise falls to the floor/This man becomes a boy/A sense of innocence comes back/And it somehow brings me joy.” Combine this honesty with a tenor that whispers at one moment and soars the very next, and we find an artist who really owns his craft.

One item of potential criticism lies in the fact that all songs on
Breaking It In are romantically based. And while there is nothing wrong with an album of love-based tunes, diverse lyrical themes are essential to making an audience want to listen to you always, as opposed to just when “in the mood” (Jack Johnson is a great example). By the same token, though, so many artists press their whole careers trying to write just one great love song. On Breaking It In we have six. Not bad at all. (self-released)
-Michael Oliveri


Atlanta, GA
Recorded at Fidelitorium Recording in Kernersville,
NC | Additional recording at The Rockporium
in Kennesaw, GA , and Good Times, Great
Oldies Studios in Atlanta, GA | Produced by
Outformation and Eli Akins | Additional
production by Dr. Scotty Wibanks | Engineered
by Eli Akins and Morgan Kraft | Mixed by Eli
Akins/Home Team Productions

Outformation’s newest release, Fastburn, is nearly 42 minutes of soft, yet soulful, alt-country/rock ‘n’ roll. The Atlanta-based band’s follow up to their 2007 release, Traveler’s Rest, beautifully showcases not only their musical ability, but also their growth as lyricists and as a band in general. The record is tight and the sound quality vastly surpasses their previous offering.

The South is definitely deep in the soul of the band, as evident in their opening track, “One More Time.” The second track, which also serves as the standout for the entire record, is a laidback number that contains sweet melodic sweeps that accentuate the tired sultry vocals. This track makes you want to drive to a Waffle House on a sunny day with your windows down and the volume turned up. Sure the drive is longer than the song, but that’s why the rewind button was invented. The instrumental track “Eleventeen” is a great jam; the band starts off at a steady tempo and doesn’t build, but turns into crunchy guitar solos that you can rock to. The title track, “Fastburn,” opens as a quiet instrumental, but quickly begins to build and when the song peaks at the halfway point, it explodes in vocals and tempo.

Many of the songs on the record are open for the band to jam on in a live setting. However, although the group is talented and the record is solid, it always seems to sound like something you’ve heard before. There are countless bands with this same style and sound. The band is definitely talented, but because of the style of music they churned out they fall short in comparison to more established acts. At times during the record the band misses the mark to fully capture your attention. Songs like “No Doubt” and “On Your Mind” sound like they were built on a few melodies and never seem to reach your expectations.

Despite the record’s shortcomings, it’s still fun to listen to. Even if they’re rehashing a somewhat formulaic sound, they do it well. Some songs are really fantastic and could be listened to over and over again, but some songs are easily forgettable. Outformation will be out on tour this summer and if you can catch them, do it. Fastburn is a solid second offering and will warrant attention throughout the rock and jam scene. (self-released)

-Albert Opraseuth