Copley Woods - Sightings Review

26230217_237290806809636_2170539895609037940_n.jpg

On January 12, 2018, I ventured to the beloved DIY venue Boontunes on a rainy night in Boonton, New Jersey to see some local music.  While the weather was gloomy, it was a night that many from the scene gathered together for to support Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), a medical humanitarian organization. When the show commenced, a four-piece post-hardcore band named Copley Woods took the stage. Their performance was extremely hard-hitting and emotionally-driven, captivating the show-goers who showed up early and were lucky enough to catch them. I was taken by surprise when the vocalist, Jake, mentioned that this was their first show.

With a promising future ahead of them, Copley Woods are sure to win over listeners of emo and post-hardcore with their EP, Sightings.

Copley Woods started off the new year by dropping Sightings on Bandcamp New Year’s Day. Sightings is a fast-paced post-hardcore album influenced by early emo bands, while drawing parallels to newer post-hardcore bands (I personally heard some semblance of Touche Amore). With fervent, chaotic guitars and fervent vocal performances, this album is the epitome of post-hardcore that is true to the genre while offering a fresh new sound.  

Check out their tracklist below!

a1023391763_16.jpg

Sightings Tracklist:
1. Mirage  
2. Haunted   
3. Emotion Engine
4. Intruders    
5. Always There

 

 

 

 

The album begins with the chaotic wrecking ball that is “Mirage;” it immediately pumps you up from the moment you press play.

It’s rhythmically interesting, and flows well. The words sung in “Mirage” are a stark warning of our earth crumbling due to the effects of harsh climate change from global warming. As the track slows to a driving drum beat to make way for an ambient guitar lead, nicely sung vocals and the following track, “Haunted.” On track two, the chaos continues with even more visceral relentlessness. Notably, the production on the vocals is dirty and distorted, which I love - it adds to the song’s overall mood.  

Sightings’ halfway point is marked by a melancholy but soothing mostly-instrumental track aptly titled “Emotion Engine.” It showcases that Copley Woods is not just a one-trick pony, and is a nice intermission in the midst of discord and disarray.  While being the longest track, it progresses well and never drags.  The music crescendos towards the track’s climax, where the vocals return to deliver some feelsy lyrics.  

Track four “Intruders” is moody and dark, with slightly less noise, but just as powerful.  It tells the story of having an encounter with an alien, lyrically depicting a person who firmly believes “I know what I saw”. I especially loved the vocal production on “Intruders” and thought the stacked vocals were a great fit for the track. To me, the tone colors in this song are reminiscent of 90’s alt-rock, but mesh well within the context of Copley Wood’s sound.

The final song, “Always There”, feels like a nod towards 00’s hardcore and is a strong finale before the album concludes. With lyrics surrounding the haunting feeling of anxiety, it ties into the albums’ various contextual themes nicely, especially the visual theme of the album art- the suspicion that extraterrestrial beings are watching us. 

Copley Woods is sure to see much success with their EP, Sightings.  With a solid first offering in Sightings, anyone is sure to enjoy the attention to songwriting, lyrical content, song structure and dynamics. Copley Wood’s album showcases musicianship that surely proves they have the makings for longevity. Sightings is a must-listen, and if you regularly spin emo/post hardcore- music, it’s going to be hard to stop listening.  

As always, thanks for reading and check out Copley Woods' social media to never miss an update below!

Copley Woods: Facebook // Bandcamp

American Lions - Serf Rock Review

  Photo: Kelsey Hunter Ayres

Photo: Kelsey Hunter Ayres

New Brunswick sweethearts, American Lions, have been pretty consistently shredding their scene for the past few years. With an output of a release a year, the band is an impressive contender in the tri-state area, and their latest release, Serf Rock, is no exception to that standard!

The 14-track giant of an LP is disturbingly impressive and punctual in all aspects. With each track at a little over two minutes, Serf Rock is an easy listening while it may seem daunting at first glance. The album was Produced/Mixed/Mastered by Sam Pura (TSSF/Basement/Hundredth) at The Panda Studios, and resonates fondly from the places it stems from - basements, New Brunswick, and DIY culture.

The album debuted on February 2nd at a house show in the band's show house, Mount Moon. The sold out show was legendary, according to our sources (uh, the internet), and we're bummed we missed it. Good thing we can check out this bad boy on Bandcamp, though, (as well as other streaming platforms) and so should you!

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

  Artwork: Tyler Way

Artwork: Tyler Way

Serf Rock Tracklist:
1. Rainy Day
2. Ruby Red
3. One Two Plus Five
4. Black Spot
5. Super Glued
6. Serf Rock
7. Easy
8. Can't Wait 
9. Angry Little Man
10. Oh No
11. No Wine
12. Sophia Bleeds
13. Millions N' More
14. So Glad You're Mine

This album is a solid addition to American Lions' current discography, and marks growth for the typically indie rock/punk rock fusion. Serf Rock doesn't ever take itself too seriously, and while previous American Lions releases reminded me of other NB greats like Semiotics or Asbury Park pals Halogens, Serf Rock took a hard swing outside of their norm - and it's working. 

The brash instrumental style, while poised, is also heavy hitting and emotional. The debut LP gave the band an opportunity to slow things down, to achieve a different sound than before. In this way, I'm excited about American Lions. While they remain the same with tracks like "Ruby Red," they also move forward in tracks like "One Two Plus Five." In a world where basements can sound the same in whichever city you're watching and listening in, it has become a bands task to find out a way around that.

For me this album seamlessly streamlined itself. Each track picks up where the last left off, making Serf Rock a super easy listen. I really enjoyed the essence of different genres that the group picks up in different instances, whether that be instrumentally or vocally. Hints of pop punk, indie pop, DIY emo and punk rock would all be genres I'd be willing to use for this banger of an album. Tracks really separate themselves from the rest of the album, and American Lions seemingly feel very thoughtful in their engineering of an album's tracklist. 

Overall, this shit is tight as fuck and you should check it out. This group of dudes have worked their butts off to get where they are, and if you're in DIY you know how much work that is. Serf Rock is a debut album worth your time, get emotionally attached to it, make your Mom listen to it, eat dinner while listening to it, whatever it is, just check it out.

You can thank us later.

As always, check out American Lions on social media, they're constantly hosting and playing shows, so if you can get to one you should consider that too. Thanks for reading, and support these good New Brunswick pals!

American Lions: Instagram // Facebook

Something Like A Monument - Silhouettes Review

0009483604_10.jpg

Psychedelic soul is something we can get behind, and Something Like A Monument are doing it just the way we like it.

The Philadelphia foursome is a force to be reckoned with thanks to their latest release, Silhouettes. The five track EP is their first output since 2014, and while it's been a long time coming, those years having given S.L.A.M. something to brag about - an EP that not only shows off their mind numbingly incredible talent, but also proves that some things do get better with age. Two years, three recording studios, and ten tracks later, Silhouettes is the first of two five-track EPs the band has planned for the next year, and gosh darn it, we are excited. 

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

a2621953164_10.jpg

Silhouette Tracklist:
1. Crimson Smoke
2. Tree of Doubt
3. B.L.T.B.  
4. Hours Believe
5. The Fawn

 

 

 

 

I have been complaining for a little while now that often bands who tout such a heavy and vintage genre like 'psychedelic' often have a habit of falling into a space that can feel overused or tired. Something Like A Monument have avoided this by incorporating the fundamentals of soul and psychedelic in their instrumental rhythm and melody, while their lyricism and vocal performance often hinges on a more new age indie rock - and this feels exciting in Silhouettes.

Just imagine Brendon Urie sang for Queens of the Stone Age and you've got S.L.A.M.

Opening track "Crimson Smoke" persuades the listener into the EP with the familiar vibration, the echoing voice of singer Jamie Shemanski. The twanging guitar, distorted and fuzzy from Jeff Lucci, while the constant nature of the bass, thanks to Don Custer, keeps time. The heaviness of the drums feels like the perfect amount of edge fueled by Josh Aptner. This track is only the gateway into the spiraling trip that Silhouettes makes.

"Tree Of Doubt" hits a bit heavier, flexing on "Crimson Smoke" with a vigor and prowess that pushes the EP forward. This track is one of my favorites, the culmination of sound makes the listening experience plain old enjoyable. I want to drive along a tree lined road in warm weather, windows down to this song. Six minute long giant, "B.L.T.B." is a great transitionary track, bringing it back down from the high before, while it pushes the listener vocally with a more rock & roll vibe, it fits in nicely on the EP.

"Hours Believe" and "The Fawn" close the EP out, and I don't want to say I feel a little disappointed by them, but I do. As two closing tracks, the EP felt front heavy listening wise. While these tracks excel in technique and S.L.A.M.'s typical bravado, they just feel a bit underwhelming in comparison to the tracks before them. I wonder if this could be resolved by a better EP tracklist setup, or if the EP is too long for it's own good. Obviously Silhouettes comes from a pair of EP releases, so I guess I'd be interested in hearing the follow-up EP to see if it exhibits the same problem or if this is simply just a calculative error in listing.

Either way, this EP has been on my mind for weeks. Let's get it on your mind, too. Check out Something Like A Monument via their social media links down below to never miss an update, and tune in for their next release hopefully sometime soon.

As always, thanks for reading!

S.L.A.M: Twitter // Instagram // Facebook

My Home is the Sea - Self Titled Review

March has begun, and we're finally catching up. Today on our radar is Philadelphia's own My Home is the Sea, a bedroom pop duo that exists in the sub-reality of your consciousness - and goddamnit we're in love. The dreamy duo consists of Marc Neibauer and Natalie Wimberg, the masterminds behind the June release of their self-titled EP.

The five track EP is a stellar beginning for the group, and I can't stop listening. While the release is nearly a year old, I was most impressed by the variety of electronic techniques and sounds the group used to create it. These techniques really hold up the EP on a higher standard and make it feel flexible in it's fluctuation in ideology and sound.

Check out the tracklist below!

a1766188158_10.jpg

Self Titled Tracklist:
1. Chase Something
2. Do As You're Told
3. No One's Daughter
4. Fuse  
5. Passenger

 

 

 

 

Of course, an EP like this takes more than just two characters to create brilliance, and luckily for Wimberg and Neibauer they had some help thanks to Chiemena Ukazim (guitar, solos "Fuse" and "Passenger"), and Robert Rouse (drums "Fuse" and "Passenger"). Of course, the two are incredibly impressive on their own, with a multitude of vocal performance and instrumental backing between them, you're sure to be impressed by this Self Titled EP.

Our favorite track off of My Home is the Sea is "No One's Daughter" because it really capitalizes on the sound that My Home is the Sea seems to be going for. A healthy dose between anthemic and ethereal - bedroom pop vs. pop rock. However, it is interesting to note that the EP does slowly dissolve from one being into another from first track to last, with "No One's Daughter" the middle of the sound sandwich. Tracks 1 & 2 are defined more in areas of shoegaze, bedroom pop. while 4 & 5 descend into that more anthemic rock pop we mentioned earlier. 

Either way, for a debut EP this is pretty stellar work. I mean, we're impressed. And sure, we sometimes are easily impressed, but this stuff is good so maybe you should check it out and hear it for yourselves! That's the only real way to gauge, so do that, we've got it streaming below for you!

As always, thanks for reading and definitely check out My Home is the Sea and pray they put something new out soon (we sure are). Until then, keep up with them via their social media down below!

My Home is the Sea: Facebook

Holy Smoke! - Pipe Dream Review

0010990106_10.jpg

Out of Philadelphia, PA Holy Smoke! comes roaring in like a bat out of hell. The five piece is a gritty, smooth rolling stoner rock & roll group that's sure to awake the bad ass in all of us.

We're taking it back in time a little, and forgive us, we're just a tiny bit behind on the times - but August 7th, 2017, Holy Smoke! released their debut EP, Pipe Dream. The five track EP is an easy going, pretty standard debut for the band that showcases some of their core values: weed, rock & roll, and saving the world. Comprised of members David McNally (vocals), P. Michael Forte (bass), Aaron Morgan (drums), Brian Schmidt (guitar), and Justin Ulrich (guitar) you're sure to be slammed with lots of grunge-esque sounds.

Check out the tracklist below to keep up!

a2612361976_10.jpg

Pipe Dream Tracklist:
1. Rinse & Repeat
2. Blue Dreams
3. Missing the Mark  
4. Golden Retriever
5. Asch Backwards

 

 

 

 

Pipe Dream is a pretty standard little EP. It isn't going to have any surprises as it relates to other genre based releases. As a debut EP, it showcases the band's sound in a meaningful way, one that allows for improvement but also feels solid in performance on all levels. None of the tracks particularly stood out to myself as I listened, as the EP works best as one solid play-through, I did wonder on some occasions what could make Holy Smoke! stand out better?

Instrumentally, the EP flip flops between a grittier grunge rock sound and stoner rock. Lyrically, this doesn't always match up as in some spots the record feels more rock & roll lyrically and emotionally. There are some really great moments in tracks that highlight that blues-y rock sound, a thick, strumming bass line and shredding guitar. 

The tracks hang around the 4-5 minute mark and really let you sink into the groove that Holy Smoke! want you to hang out in, and that was something I could really appreciate. Moving forward, I wonder how Holy Smoke! will use Pipe Dream as a jumping off point and place for reflection as a band. There are a lot of places they could go, and I know the city of Philadelphia would be ready for any of those places, so I'm excited to see which they decide on.

As always, thanks for reading, and check out Holy Smoke! on their social media to never miss an update of what they've got going on!

Holy Smoke!Facebook

Skyeline - Something About Your Basement Review

27337169_366173300526848_7006147220058689827_n.jpg

Skyeline, the indie-alternative band from Ocean City, New Jersey, is a band I am really excited about. Their debut record, Something About Your Basement, which came out this past December, is a fantastic ambient, pop-rock album filled with lush soundscapes, alluring vocals, and clever songwriting that will envelop you entirely throughout its 51-minute run time. Comprised of lead singer, Brittany Byrne, guitarist Brandon Cruz, and bassist, Jack Rose, the power trio combines a sense of experienced professionalism with a laidback DIY feel to give them a sound, and more importantly a feeling, that is all their own.

Having formed in 2015, Skyline is inspired by the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, The Deftones, and The 1975. Interestingly enough, rather than sounding like any of these icons, Skyeline seems to have dissected these artists’ music, taken out the bits and chunks that suit their musicianship, and intuitively put them back together in a refreshingly original way. Something About Your Basement sees the band explore the alternative genre and push the boundaries of it into an almost psychedelic, jam band-esque territory, yet still retain a pop-rock songwriting style at its core. With no track on this album being less than 4 minutes, and the longest one lasting over 8 minutes, Something About Your Basement may seem like a daunting investment of time to some people, but listeners who dive head first into it will be treated to a truly impressive record.

Skyeline - Something About Your Basement.jpg

Something About Your Basement Review:
1. Out There
2. Without Me
3. Three Years
4. Everything
5. Someone New
6. Caught Up
7. Stay the Same 
8. Prom Song
9.
Colors

 

 

Something About Your Basement kicks off with the perfect intro track in “Out There”. From the very first note on guitar you can immediately tell the amount of passion and care that went into making this project; it simply sounds fantastic. Speaking of guitar, Cruz’s guitar work throughout the entire record is one of the highlights of the album. While he may not shred hardcore like some players, his ability to find beautifully mellow tones to compliment not only Byrne’s vocals, but also Skyeline’s dreamy sound is an achievement that cannot be understated.

Brittany Byrne, the lead singer of Skyeline is arguably the biggest draw of the band. Although it seems (at least on the recordings) that she tries to let the music take a front seat rather than her vocals, there’s no denying the instant charm and appeal of the tone of her voice. With all of her subtle inflections and the rich, yet vulnerable quality of her voice, it’s hard not to compare Byrne’s voice voice to that of Hayley Williams of Paramore. Unfortunately, Something About Your Basement has her voice buried within the songs just a tad too much, and uses it too infrequently for it to stand out in the spotlight it deserves.

Just like losing Bryne’s vocals in the mix of these songs, I found myself losing a lot of the drums as well. I was craving a punchier, and heavier drum sound to better discern the great drum work, that will probably go unnoticed, especially in the longer, more sonic songs. Additionally, some of these songs are just too long. One song in particular, “Someone New” repeats the same vocal line and chord progression over and over again for 8 minutes with very subtle variation. It’s my least favorite track on the album, and easily could have been half the time and achieved the same effect it was going for.

Something About Your Basement by Skyline, was actually recorded in a basement, but you’d be hard pressed to know that based off the quality of this record. Skyeline has created a truly special, albeit flawed, debut album. It’s a sonic journey stacked with luxuriant tones and sounds, and alluring vocals that proves that this band is on the path to greatness. That path may be a little too long during this particular outing, but it’s still an incredibly joyous time that makes me even more excited about what lies down the road.

Check out there social media to keep up with their latest news, otherwise thanks for reading!

Skyeline: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Official Site // YouTube
 

Elephant Fire - Natural Heart Review

   Photographer:  Melissa Lucciola

Photographer: Melissa Lucciola

To write an album is an undertaking, anyone will tell you this. Different bands have different processes to make albums happen - and Elephant Fire had their own, unique way of creating their most recent release, too.

Natural Heart is the September release from New Jersey band Elephant Fire. A rebirth since their last release back in 2014, a total of three years in between the two. The new album is a self proclaimed result of "a six month pilgrimage into the hearts of North America's national parks for this album. Guitar slung on my shoulder, the way of the coined “Natural Heart Tour" provided resonant rebirth in the desert vortices of red rock mountains, the great joys of the giant sequoia’s, and trillions of stars of the Milky Way galaxy fireside on the Rio Grande," says singer, Adam Wall.

Clearly an innovative, different process than most bands we've listened to. And what better way to inspire art than nature? We aren't sure. Either way, we've got the track list below so check that out before we delve into the belly of the beast that is Natural Heart.

a0734284655_16.jpg

Natural Heart Tracklist:
1. Natural Heart
2.
Come With Me
3.
Lover's In The Bike Lane
4.
Burn Me Up
5.
It's Alright
6.  It's Rising
7. Karmic Siege 06:45

 

 

 

The 7-track LP is a psychedelic pop renaissance that came together with the help of Elephant Fire's four members. Adam Wall (Singer/Songwriter/Guitar/Synth/Percussion), Steve Wall (Guitar/Vocals/Synth/Misc. Instr.), Zac Colwell (Bass/Vocals), and Dave Heilman (Drums). In comparison to their 2014 EP, there are slight but important difference that Elephant Fire bring to the table in Natural Heart, and that's something to be excited about.

While they maintain their groovy, fun flare for psychedelic, indie instrumental sound, the band upgrades in technicality and emotional moments. Natural Heart is grown up Elephant Fire that is to be expected from a later release, and we're diggin' it. Normally we'd pull apart each track, but Natural Heart is pretty streamlined. Each track feels familiar and solid, nothing really stuck out to me which makes this album a nice background listen.

I do wonder what Elephant Fire's goal is. While the background information is interesting and helps make the listen more meaningful, I wanted more emotion in Natural Heart. I feel like a nearly 4 year difference between releases could've meant a growth - and while it's clear the technical aspect of this album feels better, more well done and fuller, it isn't satisfying the part of me that wants to connect to it. 

At it's base, Natural Heart is a good vibe. It's easy to listen to, has good intentions and is well versed instrumentally. I like Elephant Fire and what they're doing - and if making feel good music is where they're at, then I'm right there with them listening to this album while I sweat out whiskey at the gym. Definitely check out this album, and take a peek at their social media to never miss an update!

Elephant Fire: Facebook

Georgey V - Trying Review

A true Philadelphia DIY machine is Georgey V, and everything they've ever put out has, and probably always will, be amazing. Their latest release, Trying, made it's debut on November 9th, 2017 and is special in more ways than one. The lo-fi rock & roll 12-track album, in true DIY nature, was recorded in Georgey's West Philly home on their Boss BR-600 Digital 8 Track.

Impressive right?

Even more impressive is the range Trying has, considering Georgey V tracked all parts of every song, with the exceptions of a few tracks including drums on "The Story Of A Madman" and "Try Again," which were performed by Zeth Marra. The violin on "Nowhere Boy" was performed by Jason Loux. In mixing and mastering, Georgey V got some help from Tim Jordan & Paul Marchesani.

That's all for logistics, we've got the tracklist below!

 Artwork: Sean Clark

Artwork: Sean Clark

Trying Tracklist:
1. Friends
2. Changes
3. Modern Day Love Song
4. The Story Of A Madman
5. Ghostly Grove
6. Boi
7. Sweet Symphony // ???
8. Nowhere Boy
9. Something About The Way
10. Try Again
11. Goodbye
12. Toi


This album is not for the faint of heart in length.

A truly dedicated listener is required here to really appreciate what Trying is...well, trying to do. Existing in a world that it creates, Trying ebbs & flows through the highs & lows of instrumental tracks, story-telling, and general mischief. The album never takes itself too seriously, while it can take on some more somber traits, it seemingly always picks itself back up.

Our favorite track off the album is definitely "Modern Day Love Song" because out of all the tracks it is it's own entity. It brings a great amount of life to Trying, which sometimes can feel listless as it passes itself by. The back and forth lyricism encompasses what the album might be trying to do in other tracks - and is just plain fun, heck. This song feels like that moment in movies where they're spinning around in a field of flowers, laughing, smiling, and the camera keeps switching perspectives between the two.

Gosh, what a good song.

Other stand out tracks, we wont spend too much time one but you should definitely check out, are "Sweet Symphony // ???," "Nowhere Boy," and "Goodbye." Overall, Trying is telling us a story that Georgey V wanted us to hear. Whatever that story is, well, we want to hear it from now on. Check out this album as soon as possible, and check out Georgey V on social media down below to never miss an update.

As always, thanks for reading, and we'll see you soon.

Georgey V: Facebook