Reviews

TDP Review: Emmure’s Eternal Enemies Tour

87-elg

Emmure and The Acacia Strain have had a feud that has lasted a few years now. Not too long ago, the hatred between the bands’ frontmen, Frankie Palmeri (Emmure) and Vince Bennett (The Acacia Strain) resulted in a physical fight between the two. After their scuffle, they decided to put their differences behind them and stop being childish. Now, in 2014, they are shocking everyone by announcing the Eternal Enemiestour together (named so for Emmure’s new album). I attended the kickoff show of the tour at the Worcester Palladium and was very pleased with the overall experience. The venue opened the doors to the side stage at 4:00 p.m. to let local bands play, but I’ll skip to the popular bands who are doing every show of the tour.

To start off the permanent lineup of the tour, rap-metal band Sylar from Queens, New York hit the stage and did an excellent job at opening the night with high energy and catchy breakdowns, rapping, screaming, and turntable scratching. The lead singer had an energy to him that really made it obvious he cares about what he does. The backup clean vocalist, however, did not really shine too well with his screechy, untrained vocals. After Sylar, metalcore/hardcore band Kublai Khan hit the stage with a high string energy that made the crowd explode with great feedback. People were jumping around, moshing, and crowdsurfing. For a somewhat uninteresting band with not much variety in their sound, they really know how to get a crowd to go wild. After Kublai Khan, Fit for a King took the stage with a very solid performance. Not being familiar with them, I didn’t really engage in their set as I did with the other bands, but needless to say, they still put on a great show.

Finally, it was time for the first headliner, The Acacia Strain, to start. As we waited, the people around me all told me to watch my back, as people “lose their minds” to The Acacia Strain, and being their home show (they’re Massachusetts natives), people were going to “go nuts” even more. The moment the band started started, a mosh pit the size of the entire floor broke out, and didn’t stop until they walked off stage. Having a love for moshing, I always participate in the pit, but for the first time ever, the pit was far too violent to join. While The Acacia Strain blessed the audience with their low-tuned, breakdown-filled, brutal music, I watched as people left the pit covered in blood, sweat, and black eyes. Frontman Vince Bennett’s growled vocals shook the room the entire set with its low pitch, hatefully wonderful sound, while the guitarists, bassist, and drummer completed the absolutely brutal ensemble.

After The Acacia Strain, it was time for the main headliner, Emmure to start. The moment they entered the stage with their controversial new track, which is too offensive to name in this review, the room resonated with their breakdowns, screams, and offensive lyrics. Their blend of deathcore with nu-metal and hip hop influence made it a truly fun set. Although they receive a lot of negativity for their offensive lyrics and lack of complexity in their music, they really know how to set an audience off and receive high energy feedback from a crowd. Their set covered classics from their early albums, all the way to songs off their newest release, Eternal Enemies. The vast collection of songs they played caused an energy that lasted from beginning to end. The tired, sore, and ear-ringing, hour long drive home on the mass pike was definitely worth the great night of moshing, crowdsurfing, and going wild.

TDP Review: Modern Baseball ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’

MODERN BASEBALLAs an avid listener of all things rock, I was pleasantly surprised by the Philadelphia-based band Modern Baseball. Part pop-punk, part indie rock, part emo, Modern Baseball is one of those bands that you fall in love with but you’re not quite sure why – in the best way possible.  Their music seems to grab you and never let you go. The vocals and instrumental work are not groundbreaking, yet their music is catchy as all get out, and that is what makes it stand out. Best described as ‘raw’ with in-your-face lyrics, Modern Baseball’s work is sure to bring out the full range of  teenage emotions. With variations from acoustic jams to indie-punk ballads, Modern Baseball have an undoubted talent.

On their sophomore LP, You’re Gonna Miss It All, which was released this past October by Run for Cover Records, the band delivers. While leaning toward a more emo-influenced sound, the band expresses their folk influences with ample acoustic work on the record, highlighting their musical diversity. In addition to the impressively diverse nature of the album, Modern Baseball have managed to make this effort undeniably relatable with with their lyrical content. The songs express an ‘angsty teen’ vibe, focusing on emotional topics like reminiscence, coping with changes, and relationship struggles. Through use of charged and sometimes profane language, the band’s lyrics authentically express the raw emotions of many young Americans – ranging from passive sadness to aggressive frustration.

The album kicks off with the track, “Fine, Great” – a song that opens with the tone-setting lyrics “I hate worrying about the future… ‘Cause all my. . .problems are based around the past.” The song’s initial melancholy acoustic style, which itself is nostalgic, reflects its lyrical focus on the past . As the mix progresses, the bass pops in, and the layering sounds rise. “Fine, Great”  ends with the expression of a realization that everything is transient – even friendships and other budding relationships. The lyrics capture the anxiety of changing times, abandonment from friends, and the general lousiness that comes with embarking on a journey into the ‘real-world,’ an undeniably relatable topic for high school students.

Perhaps the strongest track on the album is “Your Graduation,”  a song that is up to par with some of the best pop-punk anthems out there. Primarily dominated by lead singer Brendan Lukens, who sings about a life-long crush, “Your Graduation” is another emotional take on relationships. The immediately dynamic track takes an energetic turn for the better as drummer Sean Huber cuts in with his vocals about thirty seconds into the song. With a vocal deliverance that is worthy of an entire separate musical endeavor, Huber’s gritty and powerful barking melodies provide a satisfying sound that parallels the frustration described in the lyrics. During this section led by Huber, one cannot help but to jam out to his drum beats and grooving rhythms with some headbanging or tapping along to the jarring feel of the banging drums. The frenetic pacing and energetic nature of this song alone makes it the gem of this album.

From their nod to hard rock with “Charlie Black,” to their sentimental song “Pothole,” Modern Baseball have created a diverse record that proves to be their best work. The track “Pothole” serves as a great conclusion to the album. I am not an extreme fan of acoustic music, but this track is the strongest in terms of lyrics. “Whether you like that or not”, is what ends this track, and expresses acceptance of oneself. This song shows a sense of maturity which contrasts their other tracks, and ultimately allows for a sense of closure. While the album acts as a reflection on something lost, the song “Pothole” is the first impression of moving on.

With an album as catchy, emotionally relatable, and just plain fun as You’re Gonna Miss It All, they have proven themselves to be valued contributors to the contemporary music scene. Modern Baseball could very well be the best band you’ve never heard of.

Modern Baseball performing an acoustic version of “Pothole”(not indicative of their other tracks):

Credit: Property of Zack

TDP Review: Spirit Kid ‘Is Happening’

avatars-000063119425-lyv08j-t500x500Boston-based indie power pop band Spirit Kid recently released a second album, Is Happening, and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. With this long New England winter finally coming to a close, the beachy, dreamy sounds of Is Happening remind listeners that summer is around the corner; and the promise of summer, encapsulated in this record, makes everything better.

The band is really a project of singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emeen Zarookian who is backed on stage by various members of other Boston outfits, including Bent Shapes and Babydriver. In the studio, however, Zarookian IS Spirit Kid.

Heavily influenced by ’60s British bands and psychedelic sounds, Is Happening captures a certain energetic and soulful nostalgia. The opening song, “Everything is Old,” bears an instrumental resemblance to the Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud” and echoes The Animals’ “I’m Crying.” The sound may be familiar, but that doesn’t mean the song – or the album, for that matter – lacks originality. Zarookian, clearly a skilled musician and impressive talent, combines the familiar with the new, making the album contemporary and relevant.

Is Happening shifts between moments of high energy on songs like “Slow it Down” and “Making Excuses,” to mellower songs, like “Is This Heaven.” The majority of the album, however, falls somewhere in between, which seems to be the best place for Zarookian. Although Is Happening is consistently strong, there are a few standouts. “Playing Cupid,” which Spirit Kid released in time for Valentine’s Day, is much more bluesy 50′s crooner than hazy 60′s psychedelic. The great mix of sounds – from swelling to discordant to jazzy – works well paired with Zarookian’s sharp voice. Another striking song on the album is the closing track, “You Know She Would,” which also highlights Zarookian’s vocal talent and his ability to move fluidly from one style and sound to another. There is a bit of intentional jarring in this one, but it works. The whole album works.

As the weather is shifting and the sun is shining, Spirit Kid is happening. Tune in.

TDP Review: Lake Street Dive’s ‘Bad Self Portraits’

For fans of Alabama Shakes, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Joy Kills Sorrow

6867620_origLake Street Dive – a rootsy, jazzy, indie quartet – is a band whose star is most definitely on the rise. Fronted by the powerful vocals of Rachael Price, the group has buoyed past ‘buzz band’ and moved on to becoming one of Amazon’s bestsellers. Their self-titled 2010 release, followed by a 2011 live album, recorded in Cambridge’s own Lizard Lounge, certainly raised some interest. However, it was their rendition of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” which they released on YouTube in 2012 to promote their covers EP Fun Machine, that got over 1.5 million hits and started the band’s ascension. The song showcases their early jazzy sound, highlighting the talent of upright bassist Bridget Kearney, Mike Olson’s trumpet skills, and the soft but driving percussion of Mike Calabrese. The beautiful harmonizing and clear charisma evident in this video prompted some serious attention.

The new album, Bad Self Portraits, which was released in February, certainly has them making the rounds. Recently you’ve been able to catch them on The Colbert Report, Letterman, and even in Carnegie Hall. They were a hit at T-Bone Burnett’s Inside Llewyn Davis tribute concert, and are rapidly increasing their fan base. Their sound, which definitely looks to some of the softness in music of the past, also embraces a very contemporary rawness. The mix works. Price’s surging vocals, that are a little bit Bonnie Raitt rasp and a little bit Sarah Vaughan smooth, capture straight heartbreak, aching desire, and personal progression. These topics are tried and true, but their coverage of the subject matter is fresh. And although the vocals will stop you in your tracks, Price does not overshadow the explosion of talent present in her band-mates. This band is unified, energized, and powerful. Bad Self Portraits is certainly a testament to that.

From the doo-wop sound of “Stop Your Crying, ” and the sweeping vocals in “Rental Love” to the more frenetic, rocking sound of “Rabid Animal,” Bad Self Portraits is a diverse album that will certainly get you moving. The band’s first wholly original release, Bad Self Portraits is a strong addition to their growing catalogue – dynamic, commanding, and memorable. Lake Street Dive may have started as a country side –project of some New England Conservatory students, but it has developed into something so much bigger and so much better. Listen. You’ll dig it, Devils.

Lake Street Dive is playing a sold-out show at Royale Boston this weekend, but you’ll be able to catch them when they come back around this summer.

Bad Self Portraits – Overall Rating 4/5

 PAST REVIEWS:

February, 2014

Issues (Self Titled)

January, 2014

Glen Hansard – Drive All Night

December, 2013

Yonas – The Transition

November, 2013

Lady Gaga – Art Pop

Chris Thile – Bach Sonatas and Partitas

Jon Hopkins – Immunity

Super Soul Bros. – Live at San Pedro Square

Balance and Composure – The Things We Think We’re Missing

The Jezabels – The End

Andrew Belle – Black Bear

King Krule –  6 Feet Beneath the Moon

October, 2013

Moving Mountains (Self Titled)

Valerie June – Pushin’ Against a Stone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: