Review: Moose Blood – ‘Blush’

 

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Thinking back to 2014 and the release of Moose Blood’s debut album I remember it taking almost the exact same route as Julien Baker has this past year, except on a smaller level. Slowly, but surely, more and more people were talking about this band I’d never heard of. I eventually checked it out, but wasn’t amazed at first. Then even more people, whose music tastes I respected and knew were in line with my own, were gushing about them. Finally, I gave them another chance and this time it stuck until they became a staple of my listening habits. Expectations were, of course, high as their second album, Blush, approached.

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Review: Vinnie Caruana – ‘Survivor’s Guilt’

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Even if you do not recognize the name Vinnie Caruana, chances are that things would click into place as soon as you hear the voice behind it. Whether Caruana is acting as frontman for The Movielife, I Am The Avalanche, or the much heavier Peace’d Out, his unique vocal timbre shines through in much the same way as Bayside’s Anthony Raneri. Now putting a renewed emphasis on solo material, Caruana follows up 2013’s acoustic EP with Survivors Guilt – a full band, full-length debut out now on Equal Vision Records.

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Review: Sad Blood – “Legion of Gloom”

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London’s emos gone power poppers gone comedians, Sad Blood, have returned with their second EP, Legion of Gloom. This follow-up to last year’s Ultimate Worrier gives fans five new tracks of the same unique sound, more than doubling the size of the band’s discography.

Some bands scrape by on the rawness of the emotions they are channeling, without taking the time to develop their performances. This is obviously not the case for Sad Blood whose delivery amazingly smooth while creating mellow, but at the same time upbeat, tunes. Taking this sentiment and putting it to words it’s no wonder that these songs feature lyrics such as “We were infinite / we were everything and nothing / we were happy and sad / all at the same time.”

While Pet Symmetry is an obvious influence of the band and their brand of humor, there are definite comparisons to be drawn to other acts like Loner Chic and Moose Blood. This EP is full of catchy melodies that are sure to become earworms, but the songs should not be taken at face value. Paying closer attention to the lyricism adds another deeper level to the band, speaking more to the emo side of their inspiration. “Formerly Creative” dives into personal psyche – being “obsessed with depression,” “convincing myself everything is falling apart”. Similarly, “Ten More Years” wears its heart on its sleeve with the lines “Well I went home, I put some emo record on / but I cry myself to sleep / When I’m alone I thought of what I could say / and I curse myself for being so dumb”.

This band is rad and has an awesome, well-crafted sound. Legion of Gloom is great to put on whether you’re looking to just jam out or want to let your emotions play themselves out on their own. No matter how you experience their music, these soothing crooners are sure to tickle your fancy.

Sad Blood: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

Review: Patrick Craig – ‘True Story’

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From the very first track on True Story Patrick Craig shows off his astonishing talents as a songwriter. Heartfelt lines like “She says ‘Can you feel that? My fingers through your hair’ / I said ‘I feel the space you occupy when you’re not there’” set the stage and raise the bar for the rest of the album. Despite the fact that there was only one “proper” day in the studio for recording, a fact that comes through more in some songs than others, the musicianship shines through in the lyricism and delivery. In terms of genre, True Story varies from acoustic singer songwriter all the way to a more alternative punk sound. There is a definite influence from The Smiths and Morrissey, while more current comparisons fall squarely on the likes of Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties and Moose Blood.

Often throughout listening to this album I found myself imagining how it would translate to live performance. This is the type of music that lends itself to an intimate location such as a coffee shop, dimly lit bar, or up close and personal concert hall. The nuances of songs come out in these settings with discussion between songs and audience interaction often adding to the experience. No song on this album is easier to see coming alive in person than “Fighter.” The audience catching on and joining in on the repeated line, “You are so much stronger than this,” gaining intensity each time is something that would surely send chills down your spine. While these are great songs on their own and in the context of the album, they would surely become something even more special live.

As the title of the album suggests, all of these songs are deeply connected to their writer. The running theme is the idea of examining who you are in relation to your surroundings; how both of those things work together while constantly changing. Being able to peek behind the curtains a person is not a unique idea, especially in songwriting, but the fact that every person is different allows for each instance to be a new experience. Patrick Craig’s clear knack for storytelling and ability to suck listeners into his world makes True Story an immersive, emotional album while giving fans something to look forward too as he continues to grow as an artist.

Patrick Craig: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

Review: Weezer – ‘Weezer’ (The White Album)

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I have to start this review with the brutally honest truth: I have never listened to a Weezer album in full. Up until this fourth self-titled output, aka The White Album, my only experience with Weezer came through their singles. Much like the first time I saw Jaws in a Film Studies class my senior year of high school, everything fell into place upon the first listen through of this record. This time instead of pop cultures references I previously missed flying through my head, the term “Weezer-core” finally made sense. I never saw the connection between a song like “Island In the Sun” and the music of Rozwell Kid or Sorority Noise but now, with a more rounded view of the band’s song, I totally get it.

The naiveté that comes from never having experienced Weezer as a whole has its positives and negatives. While I surely have a smaller frame of reference, I also can’t fully grasp the disappointments of Hurley or Raditude. That being said, I found The White Album to be, overall, an enjoyable experience.

Weezer released this album at the right time – being able to listen to these songs for the first time on a sunny day with the car windows down adds an extra something special to the experience. The retro, power pop vibes are strong, especially in the opening track, “California Kids.” Sure, some of the subjects taken on in this record are somewhat cliché and overdone, but the band embraces that and shines through in their musical uniqueness. “Thank God for Girls” and “Do You Wanna Get High?” were the two lead singles, but the true standouts are elsewhere in the album. “King of the World,” begins with in a similar rhythm to “Beverley Hills” and brings in a fluid, melodic chorus. The retro feel is brought to the furthest degree in “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing”, which could easily have been a 60s pop hit and shows a strong Beach Boys influence.

My only gripe with the record is when the lyrics that simply don’t land. Being “as happy as a couple Hare Krishnas,” singing about girls with cannolis, and being hit on the hand “just for holding your chopsticks wrong” aren’t exactly ideas that resonate with your average audience. These quirks may be part of Weezer’s shtick, but can be a bit off-putting as well.

Judging from what we hear in these songs, Weezer is back. These are the kind of songs that come on the radio and offer a sweet relief to those who normally hate the world of pop. Heck, they may even elicit a positive response from those same people. If you’ve ever been into Weezer, even if only their singles, The White Album is definitely worth giving a shot.