In Fear and Faith- Self Titled

In Fear and FaithI had the privilege of getting to check out In Fear and Faith this past summer, and after the show was more than pleased to hear they had a new album coming out in the fall. Fast forward to the present, and here we are with the new self-titled album in hand, and after listening to it, I can say it was worth the wait.

IFAF deliver a solid record full of catchy hooks and choruses on nearly every song. No filler material here. The keys are more than impressive all throughout the record. On more than a couple of tracks, you could swear that there’s a whole orchestra playing behind the band. The guitars aren’t really insane and over the top, which fit the whole mood of the album perfectly. They are there, you can hear them and they sound great, but they play so well with everything else going on that it doesn’t take away from anything.

And while all this is amazing, it’s the vocals of Scott Barnes that make the album what it is. His clean vocals are nearly always sung in his trademark high pitch vocal, but it’s not so over the top that it’s annoying. He knows what he needs to do with his voice and does it very well. His screams aren’t nearly as good as his singing, but he plays the whole give and take brilliantly with his sound. Great job in that department.

If there were a complaint to make about anything, it would be the length of the piano track “Enigmatic”. Not that it’s a bad song or anything. It’s honestly really nice to hear, I think I just wanted more of what the band was throwing out before this track was put in. If this is the only complaint I can make, it’s not really that bad then!

Overall a solid release by a really underrated band. I don’t think it’s the band as much as the genre. With the whole post-hardcore thing, everyone tends to be lumped together and sound the same. What IFAF did was throw in a lot of keys and the whole orchestra sound to kind of take it over the top, which I think only helps define their sound more. You’ll listen the fourth or fifth time and still hear something that you hadn’t heard before. A really fun record if you like the post-hardcore sound.

Raindance- New Blood

Raindance - New BloodSometimes your music needs a brutal punch in the face. That is where New England-based Raindance enters. Their newest release, New Blood, set for release on October 30 on Animal Style Records, is a spastic kick in the balls. Coming in at a tad over 20 minutes, the six songs Raindance bring us are somewhat similar of something you’d hear from Norma Jean, and a lot of what you would hear from the likes of Converge or Every Time I Die. Crazy fast hardcore mixed with a crunchy hard rock sound make New Blood a somewhat infectious album; you may not be into it the first time around, but by the third time, the attitude that vocalist Sean O’ Brien spews around is hard not to enjoy. New Blood isn’t reinventing anything, but that’s not what it’s about. Raindance deliver a solid record, and anytime a band does something that is true to themselves, you have to give them respect. Raindance does just that. Solid overall record. Matt White

Hidden Hospitals- EP 002

Hidden Hospitals - EP002Hidden Hospitals might be one of the smartest bands in alternative rock at the moment. Don’t believe me? Front man David Raymond said this to Krisp Magazine about the band’s new EP, titled EP 002: “After absorbing the experience of our first EP (001) we discovered all of these new sounds that I feel are unique to us as a group. In other words, they wouldn’t have surfaced had we not been exposed to each other.EP 002 is parallel to this exploration, discovery, and mindful application.”

Now do you believe me?

EP 002, which comes out on October 30, is really, really good. While it’s not altogether fair to label the band as some type of progressive/alternative band, that’s about the closest thing you will find to describe HH. Some elements of pop, electronica and a little bit of a harder sound are found all throughout EP 002, but nothing takes over to the point that you’d classify them as a certain type of band. You could name anyone from Thursday, Mutemath, Minus The Bear, etc. to give yourself a little bit of an idea of the type of sound HH has.

EP 002 brings a lot to the table musically. At times you have your shoe gazer type of sound, then the very next verse or song will be all guitar driven rock. The next minute you will want to sway your hands back and forth. The first three songs, “Featherweight”, “The Absence Of Emotion”, and “Picture Perfect” are the more hard type of songs, while the last two tracks, “Monsters” and “Lullaby”, are lower, more melodic and experimental in sound. I really like “Monsters”, a softer sound that just grows on you.

Hidden Hospitals is a great band that you’ve never heard of. It’s great and downright amazing when a band seemingly has it all together so soon (HH have only been playing as a band for a little more than a year), and by that I mean you can tell by listening that these guys know the sound they want, and they know what they have to do to accomplish that. One of rock’s best kept secrets right now. Enjoy.

Stiff Donut – Once You Go Chocolate You Never Go Back

Stiff Donut - Once You Go Chocolate You Never Go Back CD cover

Music/comedy albums are always tough to review. Do you review the comedy? The music? Both? Sometimes (most times, really) an album comes along and makes it all a lot easier by not doing either that well. So for that, let me thank Stiff Donut for Once You Go Chocolate You Never Go Back.

Things start off with “its hard to take the pope seriously”, a song that – ironically – begs to be taken seriously…I think. There’s a point there, trying to be made, but this really isn’t the forum, is it? Frank discussions of poverty and disease and the exploitation of the third world don’t really work when accompanied by a Casio on a CD with a picture of a chocolate donut that looks like poop on the cover. The same is true of “fucking retarded” and “criminals in blue”, which is actually one of the better tracks on the album if for no other reason than that it’s slightly less juvenile.

“be extra gentle when you go muff diving”, on the other hand, works. It’s silly and goofy, but the lyrics as well as some random power metal backing vocals make it fun – that’s what this whole disc needs more of. “fake id” and “everyone can be replaced” are similarly entertaining, but others like “a wooly mammoths asshole” and “circumcision sandwich” take even that to new extremes and become noise quickly.

The cover art should pretty much clue you in, but you never know where you’re going to find the next Bloodhound Gang. Not here. The cheesey 8-bit-sounding keyboards set the tone nicely to begin, infusing just the right amount of playfulness. Unfortunately, the vocals then squash that with eight tracks of droning monotone, making the whole thing sound like a rambling answering machine message. I, for one, went and won’t be going back.


Once You Go Chocolate You Never Go Back

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 1.5 stars

Marilyn Manson – Born Villain

Marilyn Manson - Born Villian CD cover

With so much polish and slick production, Born Villain, the newest disc from Marilyn Manson, loses some of its edge. Since Holy Wood Marilyn and his ever-changing lineup of misfits have fallen into a groove of conservative tunes, as if afraid to take chances anymore. Who would have ever thought that would be said about this band?

Though there isn’t much fat to these songs, there does seem to be a high level of filler. For every good groove or catchy turn of phrase there is lackluster build-up or unimaginative transition. The whole album seems to be stuck at one tempo, and the songs follow the same cookie-cutter formulas. There are a few brief moments that stick out from the minutia, but nothing as creative as the dullest moments from Mechanical Animals, Manson’s gutsiest album.

“Overneath The Path Of Misery” starts with similar drums to “Cake and Sodomy”, but by the time the song builds up the tension all Marilyn can do is muster an awkward hook, which sounds suited more for a Jane’s Addiction song than a Manson tune.

“The Gardener” is a spoken word piece a la Jim Morrison or Henry Rollins, until a cool David Bowie-esque key part chimes in over a disco beat leading to a heavy chorus. The song feels stuck in the middle of art and hesitation.

The anti-love/love song “Pistol-Whipped” is one of the poppier songs in the collection, but is evened out by the dark-themed lyrics and creepy intro that sounds like a pitch-shifted gun being cocked.

Johnny Depp shows up as a guest musician on a very straight-forward cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”, the closing song on the disc. Being one of the few people on this earth who has seen both Carly Simon and Marilyn Manson live, I enjoyed this cover, but at this point, Manson has covered so many songs that they are all blending together. Maybe they can skip the cover next go around and focus more on their originals because “Breaking the Same Old Ground” is way too prophetic.


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