Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Make Do and Mend - Part and Parcel

Pop punk-ish band Make Do and Mend from Hartford, CT have recently released a cool little acoustic EP featuring four old songs re-imagined acoustically, one completely new song, and one cover of an awesome Touche Amore song. It’s actually a pretty cool little album, overall. My only beef with it being that when performed in this style, and with vocalist James’s voice, these songs sound very much like some late 90s/early 2000s radio rock ballad type shit. If you can get over that, it’s a solid release.

The first song, “Unknowingly Strong,” and the last (untitled) song are the two that don’t really suffer much from this weird radio rock ballad feel, and they also both happen to be my favorite on this release. The first of those two is pretty much just awesome acoustic version of an already awesome song, whereas the second is an all new song, and has this really cool folk feel to it. These two songs alone make this a pretty worthwhile purchase, and the rest are just there to drive it home.

You can stream this EP for free over at Make Do and Mend’s bandcamp page, and I heavily recommend you do just that. It’s an enjoyable album and is practically flawless if it’s a style of music you’re into. It seriously sounds great and you should definitely check it out!


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Andrew James & The Steady Tiger- Red in Tooth and Claw

Andrew James & The Steady Tiger is this really talented bluegrass band from Cape Town, South Africa. The band is actually just a guitarist (Andrew James) and a drummer (James van Minnen), which is pretty cool. The music is extremely calming, fun to listen to, and really talented. I actually fell asleep listening to this record last night. Released on the 5th of August of this year.
They have an amazing roots sound with this great mix of instruments. It's calming, it's inspiring, and it's fun. Andrew James has a very talented and controlled voice that I adore, and his array of instruments is very impressive. It all gets tied together by van Minnen's fun and interesting percussion choices. I absolutely love the duo. This is the kind of music I want to paint to.
Songs worth bringing up are "Swansong," "Harder than My Bones," "Rushing," and "Under the Umbrella."
"Swansong" is a slow and brooding song with a great guitar intro. It's very Joe Bonamassa and I love it. The melody is intricate and weaves around itself in the best of ways. It leaves an amazing first impression and I'm immediately hooked.
"Harder than My Bones" shows off Andrew James' banjo skills and it's really a great song. The percussion really gives it a serious tone and a powerful beat. The back-up vocals rock. Great song.
"Rushing" is a sweet, slow song with a great vocal melody that I adore.
Lastly, "Under the Umbrella" has the best guitar melody ever.

Such a great album! love it.
You can download it for free, too!
Learn more about Andrew James & the Steady Tiger!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Scrap Kids- All That I Can't Be

I'm a bad reviewer, guys. We have this huge waiting list right now that we've been doing our very best to get through, but tonight, something happened. I was talking to my friend Tim McGowan when he sends me this link... And I freaked out. No, Idle and I both freaked out. This kid is amazing. Scrap Kids is Lawson from Pennsylvania. Acoustic ska. This is his third release, and it's been on Bandcamp since the 22nd. I don't know when it was/will be released. Sorry.

"Reminiscing," the intro really show's off Lawson's voice. It's got great lyrics too, but I love his voice. I was hooked straight from this song. "All That I Can't Be" has great guitar, amazing lyrics, and is just so great. It's extremely upbeat and catchy and sweet. I can't get enough of it. "Just Five More Minutes" has the best lyrics. Super catchy and just flat out FUN. "The Straw That Broke The Hater Camel's Back" wins the WTF title award, and proofs that he's a versatile musician. Oh, and weird. "Testament" is just a really, really sweet song. I honest to god want to cover every single one of these songs. I would play them all day. The solo in this one is great. All I have to say about his High Anxiety cover is holy fuck. Lastly, "Connor" is an amazing way to finish the EP.

Somehow, in the last week of 2011, this guy I've never heard of before has made his way into my favorite artists of 2011. Kudos, dude. Thanks.


Dead End Story- Dead End Story EP

I think this might be our first review of a Finnish band, everyone! This is Dead End Story from Oulu, Finland. They've been together since fall of 2010. They're awesome. This EP was released on July 19th of this year, and you can download it for free on their bandcamp! RIYL Hot Water Music, Leatherface
Dead End Story is a pretty straightforward punk band. It's very melodic and technical. The guitarist is extremely talented. So are the other musicians, clearly, but damn. That guitar makes me happy.
The EP is a single, but I can't wait to hear more from them.
"Workaholic" starts off with a strong guitar beat and then goes straight into a super awesome guitar intro. The vocals are awesome, and all the instruments work together really well.
"Yesterday's Burden" is a great song. My ska-o-meter is going crazy though. Oh Finnish melodic punk band, why are you playing ska riffs? Squee. How happy-making. Anyway, the song is really good. The little ska-fit ends and it goes into another badass punk song. No horns, in case you were wondering. 
This is a great single. Listen to it!


Lie Captive- The Hopeless North

Lie Captive is this badass punk group from Plattsburgh, NY. They got together in the summer of 2010, and have since released an EP and a full length, both on DTFH records. This was released in November of this year. RIYL Polar Bear Club, The Get Up Kids, The Draft.
So let me start off by saying I love this record. It's interesting, it's powerful, it's loud, and the songs are short. Badass.
The first track, "Whatever May Come From Here" is a really chill acoustic track that lies to you. It lies to you because it makes you think these boys are mellow. They aren't. (Musically, at least.)
"Judas Like The Last Time" is a great track with a nice guitar/bass balance and great vocals coming from Tyler Oliver and Chris Parmelee. The drum rhythm is interesting enough to make me pay attention to it, which I don't do very often. We're starting on a good foot, Lie Captive!
"Weight of Meager Pay" takes on one of the most socially-relevant topics on America today, and does it quite well. The lyrics are thoughtful, the music is catchy, and the beat rocks.
The music is very guitar driven and fast. It's a little technical without sounding over-the-top and the melody always has an interesting "play" to it. They play fast, but they get a nice variation on tempo to keep it fun.
"Lit Screen Commodity" is one of my favorite songs. It starts off slow and pretty, and then launches into this badass song that shows off the bass (<3) and has a great beat to it.
This is an awesome record. Check it out.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grand Hotel Paradox- Louder Than Lyrics

Do you guys remember Grand Hotel Paradox? You should. This is such a great band. It seems like just yesterday I was sticking their stickers all over the United States (Send in a picture if you ever see one, it was probably me.) and reviewing their last EP. In July, they released a new single that's badass. Check it out! RIYL punk rock.
The first track, "Wake Up Call" has really powerful lyrics and a super catchy bass line. It kind of makes you want to dance. Ants in your pants, yeah? Sorry, I'll stop with the rhyming. Politically charged, talented, and full of energy straight after a tour is the best combination for writing an album. Badass.
The next song, "Louder than Lyrics" is absolutely amazing. Holy shit. It's got a guitar line that sounds like pins and needles- in the best of ways. It gives an atmosphere of desperation and determination. The bass and drums are stronger than hell. I'm just going to tell you guys the lyrics now:
"the only bars that we're behind are 4/4 signature time 

and we are able to find the key much more easily 

we are just the commentators, we're not in the boxing ring 
we are just the war reporters, gotta keep our hands clean 

but dictators won't step down and economies won't shape up 
if you just sing 

actions speak louder than lyrics 

but dictators won't step down and economies won't shape up 
if you just sing"
Have I won you over yet? You should be nodding your head "yes" right about now.

Check it out!


Ridgemont - Colder Days

A long time has elapsed since the last moment in which I’ve had the pleasure of discovering a new band that hit all the right spots musically for me. Until today, that is.

Ridgemont play a gritty-as-fuck brand of pop punk that seriously strikes home for me. I obsess over bands like Dear Landlord, Dillinger Four, Mayflower, Pinhead Gunpowder, Arms Aloft, The Dopamines, and all the other usual suspects for this type of beer-chugging, vocal-chord-ruining, energetic and infectious pop punk shit. I love it.

Ridgemont from Allston, MA fit into the above list rather perfectly, with their new 12” ‘Colder Days’ being an excellent example for this. (I’d also like to accentuate the fact that they’re from Massachusetts, because long time readers of Idle and the Bear are probably quite used to the fact that I have some weird sort of musical hard-on for MA at this point. I don’t know what it is about that state, but for past couple years they’ve done nothing but release excellent pop punk band after excellent pop punk band. Seriously, it’s great.) These guys gave us 14 awesome pop punk jams to take over our musical enjoyment for the remaining weeks of the 2011 calendar. I’m not saying you’re going to just quit listening to them once the “clock” strikes 2012, because you’re not likely to let go of them at all.

The music on this ‘Colder Days’ album is absolutely perfect. There’s the right amount of interesting/impressive guitar leads mixed in with an abundance of beyond catchy, throaty vocal melodies. If you’re a fan of the pop punk genre, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be a fan of this record. And if you’re not a fan of this record, I’m not entirely sure that I’m a fan of you. I don’t know...maybe that’s a bit harsh. But honestly, I feel like I’d be hard pressed to find a soul in the scene who would turn up their nose and scoff at this awesome band. That’s just impossible!

Get your hands on ‘Colder Days’ by Ridgemont from Kiss of Death Records! You can even just get your digital hands on a digital copy for free! What beats that?


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Adaje/Shark Bait Split 7"

This is quite possibly the most interesting release I've listened to in a long time. Adaje, a strange mix of progressive and the 90s, paired up with Shark Bait, who are kind of like 90s emo, but not. Shark Bait is from Lafayette, LA and Adaje is from Memphis. Released in September.

Let's start with Adaje. The first track, "Caveman" shows extreme musicianship. I liked that a lot. It's an extremely intriguing song with lots of dynamic and talent. Not too big of a fan of the vocals, but there are barely any vocals, so it was okay. The bass, guitar, and drums were all extremely pleasant to listen to, though.
The second, "Cavemen Not Cometh" has a really catchy melody for the intro.
They're good at what they do, I will grant them this. I'm just unskilled in discussing what they do.
I really, really enjoyed Shark Bait's half. Maybe it's because I have a weakness for Cursive, I dunno. "High Horse" is unbelievably catchy. The bass line of the little interlude is great.
"Something Old, Something New" is also a really great song. They have a really amiable sound that you can get really into.

If you're looking for new music with a new sound, look no further, people. I can honestly say that I haven't heard anyone that sounds quite like these guys, and that's hard to do.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Declaration - Searching For the Answers

There are two very important things that the band Declaration (Pee Records) have taught me today:

  1. Hardcore punk bands from Melbourne consist of members that appear as if they belong in a third wave ska band.
  2. Hardcore punk bands from Melbourne have the potential to be fucking awesome, and Declaration are a perfect example of living up to, and then exceeding that potential.
‘Searching For the Answers’ is the debut 7” from Declaration and it’s filled to the brim with melodic hardcore punk excellence. Environmentalists, look no further for your alternative source of energy! Just find a way to extract the pure musical chaos presented by Melbourne hardcore group Declaration and I think we’d probably be all set to power everything on the planet for another hundred years or so...and I think that’s really plenty of time to finish whatever the hell we’re on this planet to be working on.

While Declaration’s musical influences may be easily discerned simply by listening to this 7” (Champion, Black Flag, Casey Jones, Municipal Waste, etc.), the listener definitely won’t find themselves mistaking them for any other band. Declaration takes the meat and potatoes of the genre and adds their own flavor to it. And the result is pretty fucking tasty, really. So, do yourself a favor and get your hands on this record, because you’re only hurting yourself by putting it off any longer.


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Greenland is Melting - Where Were We

Greenland Is Melting are this folk punk band from one of the few folk punk capitals of the United States, which of course would have to be Gainesville, Florida (home of The Fest). Upon checking them out though, I’d be hard pressed to immediately think, “Gainesville” just by hearing them. They’re more bluegrassy than Steve Martin’s band...hell, they’re more bluegrassy than my entire state...and I live in the Bluegrass State.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to anything quite like Greenland Is Melting. Their music is blatantly bluegrass/folk with vocals that very much complement the style. The lyrics are very much in the typical style of folk punk, which is to say it’s very folk, but with a bit more edge to it. This isn’t your grandma’s folk band...unless your grandma is a badass with great taste in music.

Greenland’s new album ‘Where Were We’ is a perfect example of just how good folk music can be. Each song is infinitely catchy and relatable, and you can’t go wrong with some banjo and upright bass when they’re performed so damn expertly. My favorite song on the release is either every single song, or “The Dead Are Watching”; it’s honestly too close to call. You’ll have to make the final decision on that yourself, dudes.

‘Where We Were’ is currently up for sale on Paper + Plastick for not very much money at all, making it the perfect purchase in this hectic holiday season. Slip that shit in somebody’s stocking or exchange it as a secret Santa present, and people will most certainly fall in love with you. It’s 13 tracks of pure bluegrass/folk-punk amazingness and you’re only doing yourself a serious disservice by not getting your hands on it immediately. You can also download Greenland’s older material from their band website, and that’s always an awesome bonus. It’s all worth it!


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Story So Far- Under Soil and Dirt

Honestly, it's hard NOT to like The Story So Far. With their super-catchy melodies, strong harmonies, heartfelt vocals, and powerful lyrics, I can guarantee you'll find yourself bouncing along with this band with me. To be honest, you probably already are. This album was released in this past summer on Pure Noise records. RIYL Fireworks, The Wonder Years, Transit, or Saves the Day.
I listened to this album twice, and then immediately sent Idle a text. "The Story So Far might be my new favorite pop punk band."
I honestly mean that. I rant over bands all the time, but I never say anything that extreme, right?
The combination of perfect lyrics and catchy melodies is just perfect.
"Roam" has this awesome rhythm and the vocal pattern is genius. Parker Cannon does  some of the best harmonies I've heard in quite a while. "High Regard" follows the same pattern- the lyrics blow me away. It's like if Soupy Campbell and Justin Pierre had a lyrical baby, and it turned into this group. 
The music is study, steady, and powerful. The vocals are heartfelt and powerful. The themes of the songs are powerful.Getting my drift so far?The guitar is always interesting, the bass is innovating, the drummer is badass, etc. etc. etc. 
"Mt Diablo" is interesting- the tempo and dynamic changes keep you listening without zoning out. It's feel good music. There's even a little bit of a breakdown towards the end, but it's so minor and it fit so well that I didn't even mind!
Instead of having instruments take turns being the "power sound" like a lot of bands do, The Story So Far really seems to work together. Everyone plays their equal part and it sounds great.
This CD is going to be in my car for a long, long time. End of story.

If you haven't yet, check them out!


Rejectioneers - 25 EP

Honestly, the only issue we have when it comes to reviewing indie records would have to be the fact that we’re completely brain dead when it comes to any sort of background with that scene. We’re ska kids and pop punk dorks. Seriously, that sums us up pretty well. But, we do know a good album when we hear one, regardless of genre, and this band Rejectioneers not long ago put out an excellent fucking EP called ’25’.

Rejectioneers sounds like the result of taking They Might Be Giants, Foo Fighters, Ben Folds, and Jimmy Eat World and just mashing them all together into this perfect concoction of indie rock gold. That’s probably the neatest way to put it, too. (I mean neat as in organized...not like the way Beaver Cleaver would say it). ’25’ happens to be Rejectioneers’s debut release...which for some reason just makes it all that better to me. I already just considered it to be an excellent album, but now that I know it’s the first official demonstration of what this band has to offer, I’m just all that more into it.

The few songs on ’25' are catchy, thought-out and complex where necessary while being simple where it counts. Your ears aren’t doing homework here! They’re taking a vacation! A much needed one, too, because the latter half of this year has definitely been lacking in excellence. Well, here’s your fucking excellence!

Do yourself the favor of all favors by downloading Rejectioneers’s ’25’ EP for free over at their bandcamp page. You’re missing out if you don’t, and nobody likes to be missing out. Except for creepy, weird people. And our readers are neither creepy or weird...despite the fact that we are...


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Monday, December 5, 2011

Nightlights- So It Goes

Nightlights is such a great band. From the second I heard their 2009 demo, I was in love. Alex, Jake, Matt, and Joe are all really talented guys and they make great sound together. They're from Daytona Beach in Florida, and this album was released on Eulogy in July. RIYL Latterman, Menzingers, Iron Chic, or Red City Radio
Nightlights is one of those rare bands that fits into two of the best categories: "interestingly different" and "comfortably the same." I'm gonna be honest- it doesn't have a new sound. In fact, it's very similar to most other modern punk bands. HOWEVER. It's got something different to it to make you want to listen to it. Maybe it's Matt's voice, or the organization of their rhythms. I don't know what it is, but I like it.
"When You Grow Up Your Heart Dies" sounds like the name of a poem you wrote in freshman year, but it's not. It's a lot more talented than that. Slow melody with mostly rhythm instrumentals going on. 
"Truffle Shuffle" is one of the better songs on the album. I really like the lyrics and the vocals on it. The guitar-bass ratio is also a pretty cool sound.
"Obviously You're Not A Golfer" is a great song. It's got a pretty nice intro and a calm melody to it. It's (as always) addictive as hell.
"That John Denver is Full of Shit!" is my favorite track. It's a kickass song with a great rhythm and the lyrics are great.
"Good Morning Mr. Breakfast" has the best song title on the entire album, and that's hard to do with these guys. The titles are all amusing. Oh, and the outro to this song is badass.
"There's Something New In Nothing" is super pretty. 

The rest of the album continues being pretty good. I wouldn't say it's the best I've heard lately, but it definitely impressed me and held up their reputation in my mind. Listen to it!


Speaker For the Dead - I Hope You Have Fun While You Sleep

This seriously has be the greatest album released this year. I'm serious. I've used serious multiple times now! That's how seriously serious I am. Okay, I'm done being annoying now. Well, I'm done being intentionally annoying, at least. Speaker For the Dead is what Greg McKillop from Worchester, MA calls his solo project (or is it a collective in this case, due to the additional members on some release?).  Greg has a whole bunch of music up on the SFTD bandcamp page, and it's all pretty awesome... but it's kind of logical that I should focus on the most recent release 'I Hope You Have Fun While You Sleep'...so here we are:

Pretty much immediately after starting up the first song "Journal" on this short release, you'll be stoked on your choice to have done so. It's a very emo-punk styled instrumental track reminiscent of bands like Shinobu and Laura Stevenson and the Cans. Actually, this EP sounds so much like some of the music you'd find on Quote Unquote Records' website that I'm quite surprised it's not. This song functions as the perfect lead in to "St. Peter", which is probably one of the best folk influenced songs I've ever heard. The accompaniment of trumpet and tuba (delightfully performed by Larry Wilson) on parts of this record is a beautiful touch, as it goes so well with Greg's beautiful vocals. These songs bear a stylistic resemblance to bands like Defiance Ohio, The Taxpayers, and RVIVR, and I'm liking every second of it.

"Pile of Dirt" is a not only a great point in my argument for synthesizer being a gift from above, but also an amazing fucking song. Also, Greg and his friends once again remind me of Shinobu at this point. It also reminds me heavily of the 'Your Favorite Weapon' album by that Brand New band. Hmm...

Do your punk rocker duty and head over to Speaker For the Dead's bandcamp page and stream or download this album. It's fantastic. I mean it. There's nothing more I can say about the album that you won't immediately understand by checking it out for yourself. That's what's awesome about bandcamp and other music streaming websites! Everyone likes to try shit before they buy it.


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Wild- A Collection

The Wild is awesome. I think we all know that. You've heard us geek out about them before here and you're about to hear it again. Easily the best folk punk in Atlanta (I don't know if there is any other folk punk in Atlanta, to be honest) and it shows. This record is exactly what the name says- a collection of different works. It contains songs from live recordings, splits, and EPs. I wish more bands would do this, because it makes listening to the harder to find and scattered out music much easier. This came out in July of this year. RIYL The Weakerthans, Ghost Mice, Defiance Ohio, and Billy Bragg

Tracks 1-4 are off of their split with Pedals on our Pirate Ships. "Mudlines" is a great song with awesome lyrics (as per the usual) and a super catchy melody. It has great contrasts and I love the harmonies.
Tracks 5 and 6 are from their split with Run, Forever. "To Be Content" has a great drum and bass intro. It's a really great song, and it's a little quieter than the usual with them. 
7 through 11 are all from the self titled EP. "We Will Drive Those Warlords Out" has always been a favorite of theirs for me. The harmonia melody is so pretty and the lyrics are some of my favorite ever. It's such a great song. I'm ashamed to say how many hours I've spent playing this song on guitar. 
12, 13, and 14 were all recorded for various things.
"Everything We Need" was for If You Make It, and it's great. I love Diana's voice, and you can hear it 
more clear than usual on this stripped-down track. It's a pretty cute song.

I'm so glad that this CD exists. It gives you a nice taste of them if you haven't heard of them, and it's like a bonus to the older fans.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Prevenge/Dig It Up Split 7"

I love split records. I love listening to the new songs, the experiments, the covers, and the co-work. Lots of times, I discover bands solely because they did a split with a band I already like. This right here is a split record from Prevenge and Dig It Up out of Montreal. The two bands are extremely close, and released this album together on Pavones Records in the summer of 2011. Prevenge are a heavier version of pop punk, and Dig It Up are a mix of grunge and hardcore punk.
I absolutely LOVE Prevenge. So great. The first track, "Berry'd Alive" not only made me giggle, but impressed me. Super catchy, nice guitar riff at the beginning, and great vocals. It's got a vintage pop punk feel, which is pretty cool. It's a really fast, bouncy song with a very sing-along-able vocal melody.
"Wicked Mess" is a little softer of a song, but not any less awesome. It has a more prominent bass line, and it's an interesting song. Love it.
To be honest, I didn't like Dig It Up at first. It wasn't that they were bad, the sound was just strange to me. But I've listened to the record 3 times now, and I have to admit... they've grown on me. A lot.
I still wouldn't say it's my favorite, but I do plan on listening to them more.
It's very fast and rough sounding with lots of extensive guitar work. "Move My Way" is my favorite one. It's fast and I like the drums a lot. The melody, once you pick it up, is really addictive and cool-sounding.
"Cops On Horses" has a funny name and the ending is also funny. The song is once again, really fast and powerful. I would love to see these guys live, because I bet the crowd just goes insane. 

Overall, really enjoyed it.

There were only 500 of these made, so I advise you JUMP ON IT! I already took one of the white ones though, sorry. That leaves 99 left for everyone else to fight over... But some of those are probably gone too. I have faith in you! Buy it! It's five dollars.


The Mighty Fine- In Revival

The Mighty Fine are this badass punk band from San Luis Obispo. They combine almost all the punk subgenres on this album at one point or another, and it sounds great. It's a pretty awesome sound and I fell in love right away. This is their sophomore release, and their first with Solidarity Records. It came out in August. RIYL Menzingers, Against Me!, or Hot Water Music.

This is a very melodic record with impressive harmonies and riffs. It's just flat out interesting. Brook Thompson has THAT voice. You know what I mean, that guy that you always wanted to sing for your punk band but was too into grunge/hip hop/metal/whatever in high school so he never joined your band. Except in this reality, he does like punk rock. And he's damned good at it. He also plays guitar. Mikey Castillo (bass) makes some impressive harmonies with it, and I like him best. Just because I like bassists.
To tie it all together, Chris Scott is a great drummer. It always takes a good drummer to really tie together music and give it the right sound. 
The first track, "Revive" is really, really catchy. It pretty much sets a tone for the rest of the album.
Some of my favorite songs are "To Indiana," "Flow," "Paper Trails," and "Catching Up To Tired."
"To Indiana" has this really addictive intro, it's a little pop-punk, and it's so great. The song is a mix of tempos and sounds. It's a goddamn ballad. It almost made Indiana suck less in my mind. almost.
"Heroes On TV" has the best lyrics on the entire album- not to mention the melody rocks. It's a little repetitive, but the beats are great. I fullheartedly approve.
This album is awesome, seriously. Perfect mix of hard and soft, lots of musicianship, and most importantly, it will stay in your head for fucking WEEKS.
"Ambassadors" is a perfect example of how dynamic they are. It's slower, but they rock that, too. It has much more of the roots influence showing through.

I advise you look into these boys.