The Countdown strive to create their own genre of “indie core” with their full length Social Caterpillar, an album that smashes indie themes and vocal styles with ‘in your face, I don’t care’ hardcore, and makes an interesting mix of the two.
“Nowhere is Safe” opens with engaging guitar chords punctuated by a slightly untuned note and accented with completely out of tune vocals. One can’t help but smile when hearing it though; they just sound right given the overall vibe of the album.
“Cry Yourself to Sleep” has a much more hardcore, headbang worthy introduction that opens later into a melodically pleasing riff that loses none of the initial intensity. The built up wall of noise halts abruptly, with just a few notes breaking the silence. As could be predicted, the song comes crashing back in, almost jolting you out of your skin. Continuing along this vein, “Broke and Alone” is the perfect ‘I’m so angry I’m in tears, screaming at the top of my lungs, punching everything around me’ song. The guitar solo in the middle is nice, reinforcing the overall direction of the song before the vocals break back in for more destruction.
I like the vocals in “Hedge Fund”, as they are more emotive and do a great job of displaying the vocalist’s strengths. It sounds sad and almost wistful, while the call and response techniques in the chorus are scattered and short, used just enough for the right emphasis. It leads into “Speed”, ironically the calmest song here.
“Survive the Week” moves the tone down a half step, and it produces a more eerie sound. The opening rhythm is enticing and reappears throughout the song, taking turns with the vocals. It’s a stunningly honest song, speaking to those who know the feeling described by the title. “Green Lights Turn to Red” changes the pace a bit by opening with a booming bass line, later accompanied by clashing cymbals and strong guitar chords. Another energetic song, this expands on the path lit by “Survive the Week”.
“Organ Music” opens with a slightly schizophrenic beat, settling into a pleasing collaboration between steady drums and the sounds of the organ. It’s a great, albeit fully instrumental, way to end out the album.
While it is impressive that the vocalist attempts to show a gritty range, at times the effect seems to reach a bit far and it takes away from the other elements of the song. There are many shining points here where I can hear his strong, warm voice, and I wish it continued longer. As far as energy goes, this can’t be beat; the use of slowing down followed by a quick jolt in pace was a winning technique. I would love to hear the evolution of this “indie core” sound to see what new heights they can take it to.
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