There's something you should probably know regarding Idle and the Bear and our policies when it comes to reviewing. We'll review pretty much anything you send us to review by your band(s). If a band puts themselves on the line of fire to be criticized, we'll give our honest opinions about the songs, and really all promotion is good promotion. My dad didn't even know who Ben Weasel was until he beat up some girls (asshole). Plus, one of the best things about reviewing is when we get feedback from the bands about how happy they are to be getting promoted by us and whatnot...and that's a cool feeling. /end self-involved rant
These Branches are a band from New Jersey which have been putting pretty much everything into getting their shit out there. They have a profile for almost every social networking site, and have made their own merch, and have worked to build their own amps and drumsets...so they pretty much exemplify DIY to the core. They've had a lot of trouble in releasing this full length., due to the shit that my band deals with all the time, lineup changes. Members quit, members join, members quit, members rejoin. It's very difficult. The only anchored member of the band is the songwriter/singer/guitarist Nick, whereas Bryan (drummer, backup vocals) will probably stand for being what will probably be the second column in holding the band together.
The album combines influences from a pretty broad range of artists and styles, while still fitting pretty tightly into a small nook of the punk genre. They get compared to Saves the Day, Against Me!, and Lifetime a lot, but upon listening to this record, I would more readily compare them to acts like Captain, We're Sinking and Latterman. The vocals are powerful and heart driven, coming from both singers, and the instrumentals do what they can to avoid coming off as simple. Why do something everyone else can do, and why write something your mom could write? That kind of feeling.
The opening song "Linen Lines" is a pretty good example of taking what could just be a simple, catchy song and fleshing out the guitar under it to add some interesting fills and leads. Everything sounds really vivid and I mean, it sounds like a fucking battle cry at times. This shit could be the background music for Gladiator 2: Revenge of the Dead Russel, or whatever they'll end up calling that once it's inevitably made (hopefully if this happens they don't stick with the last composer, because he didn't even change up the songs when he used the same exact compositions for Pirates of the Caribbean...slacker).
I think the next song I take particular interest to on the album is "Virgin Versions". You may notice that the two songs I mentioned both have alliterated titles, but that's not the purpose. The song is powerful, infectious, and the drums sound fucking great in it. I really like the guitar fills, which are simple but definitely add more fun to the song, and give the guitarist something more to do than just hit the chords and sing.
There's a lot to love with this album, and it never fails to excite you with each of the songs. The title track is awesome as fuck, and has some uppertier snotty punk vocals for you to dig on, and it reminds me a lot The Falcon, due to the definite vocal similarities to Brendan Kelly. "Skullhat Sings the Blues" sounds like fucking Latterman to the core, and has the first noteworthy basslines of the album. I really like this song a lot, and it might be my favorite on this release.
"Trillher"...you thrillher, you broughther.
Honestly, it's a good song too. "Antomyne" starts off with an acoustic intro, and kicks into a powerful as fuck punk song. NO REGRETS.
All the songs on this album are pretty good, from militant start to blues-twinged end. The album didn't like jump out at me and force me to become instantly addicted to it, which has happened with a couple releases this year, but it definitely took me by surprise. These guys really need to tour, because this is the kind of music that definitely needs spread around. I know so many people who would put this in their top 10 albums of the year list, and I'm definitely running straight to them with the link to their bandcamp page, which is also where you should be going. It's good shit, bro.