The Noble Kind is a three-piece folk rock act out of Rochester, New York. The three musicians who play guitar, bass and drums had been playing for local charity events to raise money. Interest from listeners sparked the trio to form up a proper band and begin recording.
Their first EP is the five-song Treasure in a Field. It opens with the rippling and college radio friendly folk rocker “The Fall.” It’s a mellow and meandering rock song with a shimmery guitar riff that gets a hold of you and sets in and stays with you long after the track has ended. Next comes the slightly chunkier folk-rock ballad “Lights,” which again pits a warm and friendly guitar riff against punchy drums and lamenting cymbal crashes and a steady head bobbing bass riff.
The band takes it down one more notch on the solo acoustic folk ballad “Countless Days.” It’s the softest song on the record and provides a glimpse into the quiet despair of feelings that Treasure in a Field is built around. Next they kick it up to their highest level on the faster paced skiffle-rocker “Circles in my Head.”
It shows the band testing the limits of what the folk rock genre can do, which is dazzle the listener with a plethora of emotions in a very short period of time. They then close out Treasure in a Field with the rough “Hey Solomon (demo).” It’s a bit rough but and sounds as though it was recorded on an I-phone at an open mic night, but it works as a closer to the more fleshed out tracks that proceed it.
Overall Treasure in a Field is a well-wrought record full of ornately crafted folk tunes both up and down tempo-ed. For a first record it is significant in how well the trio work in tandem with one another, each bringing their piece to the whole. It’s safe to say that this record will be just the first of many treasures to come.
Become A Fan
Buried Deep Between Worlds is a solo artist who recently released Ethereal. He mentions that he has been playing guitar since my teenage years, and only recently picked up piano and electronic music synthesis. He also mentions that Ethereal is an homage to the more recent works of Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and also Alessandro Cortini’s solo work. The first artist that came to mind to me was Ben Lukas Boysen whom I think the artist should check out if he hasn’t.
All the pieces are minimal, moody and very pensive as if someone is lost in thought. I did notice the piano veered towards a simple style which was fine for these pieces but I have to admit I wanted some more movement on Ethereal to get an idea of what else he is capable of. I wanted to see if he could capture the dynamic emotional ride that a film has.
The album gets going with “The Spell Is Broken” which more or less is one single drone with fluctuations. It sounded like the beginning of an Ian William Craig song. On the title track you can hear some of the influence of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. In particular I was reminded of the mood the artists created on The Social Network.
There are some great beginnings to songs which sound as if they get cut short. “Apophenis’s Glare” is an ominous piece while “Synchronicity” is cerebral. “The Reverie Symphony” and “The Receiving End” are almost four-minute long pieces that are beautiful and haunting but don’t go very far from where they started. As the album progresses he continues what I would call vignettes that display his ability to create a mood all of which at this point are variations of a similar strain.
I myself studied composition in college and I have to say making music for film is another level of mastery. Composers such as Man Richter, Greg Haines and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson are some of the great composers that I think this artist should scrutinize and study. I think there is a lot of room for subtle nuance as well as movement in the pieces he presented. That being said this is a solid start and Ethereal contains basic but well executed sound design.
I wish him luck as a composer and encourage him to keep at it.
Joshua Ketchmark is an artist who recently released Under Plastic Stars. He plays into a nostalgic alt/country/pop vibe. I really enjoyed the vocals which reminded me of Jeff Tweedy. On that note the lyrics themselves weren't as poetic as Tweedy’s. Ketchmark prefers more straightforward language although he can throw in metaphors and occasionally a play on words.
A good majority of the album has a very similar feel. It’s warm and comforting yet melancholy that you look back upon like a dream. The album is in constant danger of being saccharine and melodramatic. In fact, I would have liked to have heard a couple more songs with some levity to make the emotional moments more powerful although he closes the album with a couple tunes that were fun.
For example, the way Wilco throws in “Heavy Metal Drummer” which is very nostalgic but fun and light. There really aren't many instances of that on Under Plastic Stars which is dripping with nostalgia that is heavily reflective and thought provoking.
The album starts with “We Were Everything” which from the title you could surmise is a heavy song about a breakup. This song in particular is somewhere between Goo Goo Dolls and Wilco at their most dramatic. I needed a break by the time I got to “Lucky at Leavin” because I was emotionally exhausted. “Sweet Surrender” is hopeful, dramatic and epic. It also sounded like an FM radio ready song. “17” is stripped back and a highlight. I believe that is the accordion in there that I appreciated. Ketchmark hits upon a more playful Americana vibe with “The Great Unknown” and “Losing Control.”
I wanted Ketchmark to take more chances on this album and experiment with other possibilities. The structure and aesthetics were predictable and familiar. That being said he is a great singer and knows how to write a song with hooks and appeal. A couple of more surprises along the way would have kept me more engaged and I was waiting for those moments that really defined Ketchmark as a singular artist with his own signature sound.
This is a very easy to appreciate album and in all honesty will probably make you shed a tear if you are going through a breakup.
Travis Brown (guitar), Christian Loebs (drums), Jeff Tatu (vocals) and Seth Telles (bass) are Anchor Detail. Enabler is their second release which showcases formidable rock tunes most of which veer towards a ’90s vibe to my ears.
It says on their Bandcamp site that Travis Brown handles the engineering and I think he did a great job in this department. There were some minor issues I had which come more down to taste than sloppy engineering. They open with “Rapture” which is a darker song that had an under current of ’90s grunge and a smidge of Black Sabbath. I have to admit I wasn't crazy about the vocal melody following during the guitar line during the verse and wanted a little more from the chorus as well which felt more like a bridge that was building.
I thought “Warmth” fared much better overall. I liked the way the vocals were treated with more reverb and I thought the delivery was better as well which caught my attention. The chorus which is dynamic and powerful felt memorable and I think Tatu did a great job on this song. In fact the whole song felt fluid and dynamic. Two thumbs up from me on “Warmth.”
One of the issues I had with the recording was the snare sound on “One Step Back” which needed sizzle and snap. The song felt straight out of the ’90s alternative scene with a tip of the hat to a number of bands that had prominence. I could say the same thing about “You Through Me” which was a little more catchy overall. They close with “Enabler” which is arguably the highlight. I especially liked the instrumental work and also give more kudos to Tatu for putting a lot of emotional depth into the vocals.
The band has the aesthetic down pat but I was on the fence about some of the melodies throughout the album which I think could have benefited from a little more complexity at times or just hooks that felt more like the focal point. Don’t get me wrong I liked most of these songs as well as the vocal delivery but I was looking for those memorable choruses and hooks that bands like Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana were able to pull off.
The other thing the band might want to think about is they have a sound that comes directly from a different time period. So much so that If you didn't know it you would say this was released in the mid ’90s. They might want to consider how they could give their music a 2.0 type of feel for 2018.
I grew up on this type of music and overall really enjoyed what they brought to the table. That being said I think their best work might still be ahead. In the meantime this is a band to start following if you are a fan of the genre. Recommended.
The Components is a two-piece garage-rock band from the New Jersey/New York City area comprised of Ronnie Sena (guitar) and Zoe Ekonomidis (drums). They recently released “continuum.” which is a pretty straightforward album that revolves around distorted guitar and heavy drums. They mention they have a 2000's garage rock vibe with more fuzz and riffs. I’d say their sound is a little more broad than that.
They open with “Parliaments and Witchcraft” which has the explosive intensity of ’80s arena rock. The band is tight and the production sounds great. “Mayday” felt a little more ’90s inspired with four chord style Nirvana type chord progressions during the verse however the hook still reminded me of an ’80s style type chorus.
The band spreads their wings out a bit with “Filthy” which is more complex and dynamic than the previous song. There is also a little less predictably as to where the song is headed and I wasn’t expecting the indignant vocals and prog rock style breakdowns.
The vocal melody follows the guitar during the verse on “Spirit’s Head” before showcasing some of the most uniquely explosive moments on the album. “Complacent / Complaisant” is a straightforward grunge song. The other standout was the closer “Glass Haüs.”
I liked the power and emotion this band displayed. However I have to admit I wanted a little more from the hooks and melodies which is really why bands like The Strokes and Nirvana were so memorable. I think I just wanted one or two songs where I felt like I had to have this on repeat, That being said I think the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The album felt fluid, cohesive and was a pleasure to listen to because of the foundation these songs were built upon.
This band has a surplus of talent and by looking at their pics it seems as if they are young guys who are just getting started. I think this is an impressive start and encourage you to take a listen. Hopefully this is just the start.
Every week we mention a couple of artists that are worth your time to check out that were not featured in our weekly reviews.
Artist Album Rating
Helltown Everything Gone 3.4
John Fell Awakening 3.5
Susie Jones Hear It My Way 3.7
The Easy Get Out The Easy Get Out 3.4
Mae Bird Mae Bird 3.9
Wax Mistress A Ghost in the Garden 3.6
BIN Moocher 3.9
Chief Weapons is Nathan Bell (drums) and Bradley Bailey (guitar). The duo released a debut four-song EP entitled Dazzle. Although this is a debut the band aren’t novices. They have been playing in different bands for around fifteen years and that is evident with the jaw dropping technical skill they display within these four songs.
This is a two-piece band but sound like an army. Part of this is due to the fact that Bailey utilizes a looper which is an integral part to their sound. There are multiple guitar lines going on almost all the time and I was thinking about how much I wanted to see this live as I was listening.
Apparently the band has been described as "Rush playing Zelda's Soundtrack" and compared to acts such as Battles, The Mars Volta and Royal Blood. Out of those three Battles was the one that was the most evident. I would argue that Battles is more experimental overall and Chief Weapons utilizes more guitar bass sounds .
To me they sound like a math and prog rock souped up on steroids with a contemporary sound. It’s visceral, raw and awfully intense in a very good way. Up first is “RKO” which throws you a dizzying whirlwind of guitar and drums which isn't afraid to break things down only to have them amp back up again within seconds. The song binds elements of post-rock and reaches crescendo after crescendo. The band crushes but that's just the beginning.
They delve into classic prog rock deviating from 4/4 on “Thump.” The layers of sound play off each other. Bell’s metronome like drumming is crisp and nuanced and he throws in fills that a mediocre drummer will aspire to pull off. There is some kind of arpeggiated synth I believe on this song which works just fine adding to the kinetic energy.
By the time “Whip Machine” got going I had a feeling I wasn't going to be disappointed. They bring the creative and technical talent and even leave us with an ambient drone that seamlessly connect to the closing song “Mamil.” I think the heaviest and most dynamic song has to go to “Mamil.” They bring it.
What else can I say besides Chief Weapons are badass musicians and this debut is not to be missed. It goes without saying I hope these two are just getting started.
Become A Fan
The songwriter/producer John Hawkins from The Yancys has a long, rich history in the music scene with some acts many consider underground legends. Hawkins toured the east coast regularly from '94 -'97 playing with acts such as Archers of Loaf, Yo La Tengo, Cracker and Southern Culture on the Skids. Hawkins eventually moved to Asheville , North Carolina where he formed The Yancys. From what I understand The Yancy’s is more or less a solo project by Hawkins to showcase his songs and has a number of different musicians contributing to it.
That ’90’s indie rock vibe is evident on his release The End. If you are a fan of bands like Yo La Tengo and Archers of Loaf (I would thrown in Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement as well) ) you won’t have to make much of a leap to appreciate this album.
I was honestly a little startled when I pressed played to listen to the first song “Even Up.” The full band is rocking and it starts with a prominent lead guitar. The verse comes in and palm mute power chords and vocals come into the mix. It’s a fun, loose song very much in the spirit of raw indie rock where you hear people playing in a room.
Up next is “Brown Shirt” which is a little more poppy with a slight ’70s feel. The Who came to mind when I hear the anthemic chorus. As the album progresses there are a couple of songs that popped out to me. “Jets Like Taxis” had a jangly guitar feel to it but what really drew me in on this one were the vocals. There is some kind of subtle melancholy going on with his voice that made me think of Jeff Tweedy. “Yantra Lense” was another good one with great lead guitar while “Broken Glass Bed” contains drones of distortion. The nostalgic closer “Silver Ships” was a clear highlight with fantastic vocal melodies.
I was born in the very early ‘80s and grew up on this type of music when I was kid in the ‘90s. I started with bands like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins which led to less popular but equally as good acts such Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Sleater-Kinney and Dinosaur Jr. I’m glad I got a chance to listen to The End. I’ll be listening to this along with some of those older classic 90’s album that I haven't reached for in a couple of years.
Rachel Bachman is an artist/songwriter who recently released her third album I'm All I'ves. This is a very theatrical album with vocal performances that are exaggerated and hyperbolic as if you were listening to a play with a cast of characters. To say she is a dynamic vocalist is an understatement.
The songs are really well written and the album has a frivolous, whimsical tone to it. It can feel silly and I have to admit the intensity of the show tune-like songs was a bit much to take in at times. I did want a couple of more songs which were a little more straightforward and didn’t feel like a full on broadway production.
As I was listening all I could imagine was what she would look like actually look like while singing. I surmise her facial expression would mimic her dynamic vocal performance.
The album starts with a highlight entitled “The Most Boring People.” I especially enjoyed the guitar part and her vocals especially in the beginning which sound heartfelt and sincere. About a minute in the song gets a burst of energy.
Up next is “Particularly Particular” which also has its moments. The blaring harmonica sound is juxtaposed against her singing style in a unique way. “Josephine” is a stripped back song. I liked the vocals but I wish she just would have pulled back just a little more here. The album somewhat jarringly takes a turn for the silly with “Ukulele Song” which up to this point is the most theatrical sounding song. That being said “Belle Gunness” is just as theatrical and plays into musical tropes that plays have been utilizing for ages.
The next major deviation is “Lyft Driver” which has an ominous tone but has vocal parts which revolve around the title of the song. As the album progressed “Blue Blue Blue” and “Vourvoulos Veranda” which features singing in a more classic opera style were the standouts.
Bachman is really talented in a number of ways. On that note I don’t think you can argue this is a niche genre that utilizes a style you don’t hear very often unless you are seeking it out. Suffice it to say you will be inclined to appreciate this album if you enjoy the dynamics and range of a play.
When I saw the name Corpse Paint I had to take a guess of what type of music they were going to be playing. I knew it wasn’t going to Bob Dylan-esque folk and I had a feeling I wasn’t in for calypso either. In my heart I was thinking dark and gothic. I took a listen and was right about the dark and gothic but I have to admit I thought I was in store for something heavier on their album Nothing Here in the Dark.
Corpse Paint was founded by guitarist/vocalist/composer Craig Winston in October of 2017 which means they are just getting started. The rest of the band is comprised of Tyler Anderson (drums), Moira Murphy (keys) and Jay Breithaupt (bass). They get going with “Blood on Our Hands” which is a dark song but mostly due to the lyrics and vocal delivery. Winston sings, “I just can't hide all the evil that I've done / The demon I am with long and unclean claws / But I tried so hard for you, but red wouldn't wash away.” The song from what I surmise seems to be about a straight up murderous tale.
The theme of blood continues with “Show me a Sign.” This song is a lot less straightforward and evokes religious imagery and mythological lure. The drums are a significant part of the song as keys often sparkle against slightly distorted guitar.
There's more mention of blood on “The Devil You Never Name” but it has a clear narrative that deals with a romantic relationship. The same could be said about “The Ex-Patriot.” They close with “The Muse, the Mute” which is arguably the highlight. At the very least it felt like the most dynamic song.
I have to admit I think I wanted some harder, heavier and even scarier moments from the music considering the topics and the way the vocals were delivered. Some of the songs almost felt bright in comparison and I wanted a little more chaotic darkness in the spirit of bands like Sunn O))) or Prurient.
Overall, this is solid start. The songs are well written and they have a solid foundation right now. I’m looking forward to more.
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