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Singles Reviews- September

15 songs. 15 artists. 15 ways to avoid boredom.

1. Song: The Abrazo Lift

Band: The Cinderleaf

Genre: Emo Rock

Album:  N/a

Label: N/a

Website: www.purevolume.com/thecinderleaf

Bottom line: Excellently done. Get it now.


"The Abrazo Lift" bursts out of the starting gate with gruff yet palatable vocals. This is about the only time that the vocals are most important, because the production on this song is such that the focus is off vocals and on other instruments –especially drums and guitars. Due to this style, the band creates a groove very efficiently- even when it's just drums and bass, the song feels intense and urgent. The two guitars work together very well in the verses, and especially well during the bridge, where they have an unexpected call-and-response dialogue.  That dialogue leads into the climactic last chorus: two great guitar lines, double-tracked vocals, and flailing drums. Red Animal War would be proud to call this song their own. 


2. Song: Song Two and a Half

Band: Abbadon

Genre: Rock
Album: Abbadon EP

Label: N/a

Website: www.abbadonmusic.tk 

Bottom line: Unique rock sound that incorporates a sax.
Less is more is definitely not Abbadon's slogan. They throw a LOT of stuff into "Song Two and a Half", including an excellent blues guitar solo, funky basslines, saxophone interludes, mellow music, grungy guitar settings, and raspy vocals sound like a dull razor- you know the meaning is there, it's just clouded a bit by the dullness. All of that blends cohesively, somehow, to make a uniquely Abbadon experience. You won't hear this type of rock anywhere else- it's sort've like my own personal Dave Matthews Band. Abbadon is going places- you should go with them.

3. Song: Carnivaurs

Band: Big Brother

Genre: Art Rock
Album: Dreamnesia

Label: N/a

Website: www.purevolume.com/bigbrother

Bottom line: This is pure and unadultered pretentious-rock bliss.

This mish-mash of a song starts out with synth noises under a sample of a robotic voice chanting the three slogans of "The Party" from the novel 1984. If you're not aware, Big Brother is also from 1984, effectively making this song (this album?) a concept piece about the novel. The song is a mix between Radiohead's contorted rock on OK Computer, Billy Corgan's feeble, terrified whisper in "Eye" by the Smashing Pumpkins, and the crunching, thumping electro-static of Nine Inch Nails. Fuzzed-out guitars lay the base for pianos, synth noises, wispy vocals, and other instruments that cultivate an air of doom and gloom that will make you beg for more. This is inacessability at its finest- this is pretentions at their highest- this is art rock at its extremes. You will not be dissappointed if you like art at all- Big Brother is the torchbearer for the new-wave Art Rock.


4. Song: Grand Central Goodbye

Band: The Inheritance

Genre: Indie Pop
Album: The Inheritance Demo

Label: N/a

Website: www.theinheritancesite.tk/

Bottom line: One of the most innovative bands I've heard in a long time.

"Grand Central Goodbyes" reminds me of a band I once loved. Courage Riley was their name, and they played Indie Pop that stole your heart, wrung it out, and put it back. They broke up, and it made me very sad- but The Inheritance may be the ones to bring back the "Epic Indie Pop" genre. I absolutely adore the section of the song that features distorted guitar over a piano melody, and then wailing vocals on top of that. The innovative sax solo is a little long and repetitive, but it's very cool to try new stuff. The piano/harp breakdown (I bet that's the only time that's ever been said) didn't really fit the song, but it's the only flaw- the climactic ending to “Grand Central Goodbye” is just stunning. Everyone who likes mellow music should check out The Inheritance.


5. Song: Previews of the Hereafter

Band: One Last Thought

Genre: Melodic Hardcore
Album: N/a (sadly)

Label: N/a (sadly)

Website: www.onelastthought.com

Bottom line: This is the best new-school emo song I've ever heard.
No, you didn't read that wrong. One Last Thought's "Previews of the Hereafter" is the best new-school emo song I've ever heard. An immensely talented, riff-intensive bassist, two extremely talented sung vocalists (or possibly one brilliant vocalist who has a huge range), guitars that are creative not only when they intertwine in single-note battles, but also when they chug. These chord structures sound so new and exciting- I don't know if it's the setting they're put in, or whether the chords are actually really cool- either way, the song is an exhilarating trip through emo. The bass riffs are excellent- they make the song worth it on their own. If you like emo at all, "Previews of the Hereafter" will be the highlight of your day. Trust me.

6. Song: Three Dollar Keyboard

Band: Good With Guns

Genre: Indie Pop
Album: Winter EP

Label: Suckapunch Records

Website: www.suckapunchrecords.com

Bottom line: Strange, yet worth it.


Vocals can do strange things to music. "Three Dollar Keyboard" starts out like a sweet indie pop song, with a nice acoustic line augmented by a chirpy little synth line. Without warning –ok, maybe a little warning- dirty vocals reminiscent of abrasive punk bands Alkaline Trio and Calibretto take the song in a whole new direction. The song bounces along well, but it shines most in the chorus, where the backing harmony offsets the grating vocals to create a somewhat pleasant sound. The music itself doesn't lose any points- the acoustic-led pop song is instantly endearing- it's just that the vocals take some getting used to. In the end, I ended up thinking "Well....it <i>was</i> creative..."

7. Song: I Wanna Marry Conan O'Brien

Band: Nerd Riot

Genre: Power-Pop
Album: I Drew a Radio and Some Flowers EP

Label: N/a

Website: www.nerdriot.net

Bottom line: Quirky power-pop that will either grate your nerves or suck you in.
Female vocals, tin-can drums, snarky little guitar line, bliptastic bass- you've got "I Want to Marry Conan O'Brien". It's an nintendo-ized version of power-pop; and not the classy, upstanding Postal Service nintendo samples. This is the low-budget games that you played cause they were funny- not cause they were hard (think Boogerman, people).  This is not techno, but with a tweak here and there, it could end up as such. What this song is: a blast of fun which may be too much for some people, who will succumb to the pulsating undulations of the noise and bash their television set in hopes of stopping Conan O'Brien before he makes fansters out of every pop band in the universe, rendering the unhappy listener senseless. If you like happy music though, this will be right up your alley, and you'll gleefully repeat this musical anomaly.

8. Song: RUok

Band: Ten Seconds to Go

Genre: Punk
Album: Demo

Label: Diary Records

Website: www.tensecondstogo.com

Bottom line: Any punk fan is going to eat this up.


This song starts off with a mellow intro- which was the first sign that we may have a winner on our hands. Then again, it could be indicative of musical cliches as well. Either way, this song was going to be fun to review- one to trash or one to praise. It turns out being the one to praise, as after the intro ends, a long instrumental section is played, with some excellent guitar work, notable drum work, and overall good punk aesthetic. The vocals aren't bad, but they're not much to speak of. They carry melody just fine. Instead, the best part of this song is the guitars- they consistently do interesting things, unlike the vocals. It's quite a long punk song- and it's worth every second. Check this one out.

9. Song: Like an Enemy

Band: Reason One

Genre: Metal
Album: S/t

Label: N/a

Website: www.reasononemusic.com

Bottom line: Metal done like I expect metal to be done: Aggressive and loud.


This type of metal is the kind that I'm happy to listen to in my home, but not live. In my home, I can turn it down till my ears are at a safe distance. This is, in a word, aggressive. The guitars crunch, the bass thumps, and the vocals bark at an impressive volume. The only part about this that ISN'T aggressive is the drums- they sound tinny and fake in this recording. Now granted, this isn't death metal, but it's still plenty loud. On the negative side, the chorus is bland, and they do a good job of letting us hear the lyrics. Yes, that is negative, because I don't want to hear them. They’re not that great. At all. So, all things considered- it's a pretty good metal song, except for the chorus. 


10. Song: Don't Mind Waitin'

Band: The Zoo!

Genre: Indie Pop
Album: Gorilla

Label: N/a

Website: www.purevolume.com/thezoo

Bottom line: Fun, catchy, and talented.


Indie Pop is one of my favorite genres; when it's done well, it's more fun than a punk band, catchier than any acoustic songwriter, and as talented as any genre out there. The Zoo is a pretty good example of that. The acoustic-based vibe of this song intrigued me- the guitar/bass/drums combo was really tight and clean. The extra guitar on "Don't Mind Waitin" had a really cool solo- and I usually hate solos.  The vocals have an odd timbre, and it gives the song a very unique vibe. It's not a bad voice at all, as it even more quirkiness and fun to the band- and it makes the chorus catchy as all get-out. Thus, The ZOO! lives up to all the attributes of good indie-pop: fun, catchy, and talented.


11. Song: All Girls Lie

Band: A Healing Season

Genre: Emo.
Album: What It Really Feels Like EP

Label: N/a

Website: www.ahealingseason.cjb.net

Bottom line: Look Ma! No screaming!
Even though A Healing Season isn't the greatest emo act out there, they're blissfully refreshing, thanks to the fact that they don't scream. I listened to this song on edge, waiting for the ever-present, unneeded screams to appear. As I waited, I heard some pretty solid emo, a little bit like Further Seems Forever, but without some of the melodicism and veiled punch that FSF owns. This comparison was highest in their instrumental breakdown, which also happened to the crowning achievement of this song. I give it extra points for the 'tell-it-like-it-is' title, too. Check it out if you're an FSF fan, but if you don't like emo, don't bother. 

12. Song: My Disease

Band: Tomorrow We Surrender

Genre: Hardcore/Punk/Emo
Album: Demo EP

Label: N/a

Website: www.thistimeinsilence.com

Bottom line: Pretty good new-school emo that's worth the time.
Yeah- Tomorrow We Surrender is one of those bands that takes three common, distinct forms of hard music and throws them together. This is actually a better envisioning of that blueprint, as the screams have ferocity, the punk is not too poppy, and there are signs of the technical element that emo actually once stood for. The sung vocals are the Achilles Heel of this band, just as in most new-wave emo bands today. Thankfully, TWS has figured this out, and doesn't sing very much- which is excellent. The song retains power and clarity from the beginning to the end, so I highly enjoyed their sound, and would not mind hearing an entire album's worth of material from them- if I were in a rageful mood.


13. Song: On Your Way (To Unhappiness)

Band: Jim Gaven

Genre: Acoustic Emo
Album: N/a

Label: N/a

Website: www.jimgaven.com

Bottom line: If you like mellow emo, check it out.


Acoustic singer/songwriters can exist without being emo- see Joseph Arthur or Guilford- but most just don't try to break out of the mold. Jim Gaven is a resoundingly 'emo' singer/songwriter. Now, that's not to bash his songwriting- from beginning to end, "On Your Way (To Unhappiness)" is a pleasant listen. The vocals stand out a bit from the rest of the slow moving song with their roughness, but not so much that the two clash with each other. A great songwriting touch is the addition of female backup vocals, as their small contribution sounds very natural. The three-part vocals at the 3:30 mark are excellent- although they stick around for much too short a period. All in all, there's nothing to bash here- it's a solid song. It won't break any of Pedro the Lion's land-speed records, but it's a pretty good mellow emo song.  


14. Song: The Grass Isn't Getting Greener

Band: Never Forever

Genre: Indie Rock
Album: Demo

Label: N/a

Website: www.freewebs.com/never_forever

Bottom line: Pass this time, but file them under the

"Come back to it next album" tab.


Pure indie rock is tough to find- usually it's tainted with other genres. Never Forever is no exception- they have a lot of hardcore influences, but never enough to call it hardcore. The guitar style is wrong for hardcore and the vocals don't scream hard enough or loud enough. Even though the vocalist doesn't scream very much, the screams implemented are very effective. The melodic vocals aren't the greatest vocals ever sung, but they fit with the hollow, gap-filled sound that the instruments create for this song. The guitars feel right, but the drums here are overpowering and incorrect, creating an imbalance that sets the listener into a confused state. The vocals are the only thing that keep this song together, and they barely hang on in the chorus. The best part of the song is definitely the instrumental outro. Overall, there is much promise for this band, but they need to learn to mesh better.  

15. Song: Protect Yourself

Band: Out of Focus

Genre: Melodic Hardcore
Album: Turning Hearts Into Halos

Label: N/a

Website: www.owtovfocus.com

Bottom line: Pass this one.

If had to choose one genre that is dying, I would have to say hardcore. It's just getting way too hard for me to find good hardcore songs these days. "Protect Yourself" by Out of Focus is a pretty average hardcore song until the melodic section hits- where it promptly crashes and burns. The vocalist doesn't fit at all, and he's rhythmically off from the rest of the instruments in the sung sections. The screams are okay- they're impassioned, but the tone of them just isn't as strong or convincing as other melodic hardcore bands have captured (MewithoutYou or The Tokyo Smash, for example). That's pretty much all she wrote on this one- nothing too exciting here.

-Stephen Carradini