New Year’s Blurb

Posted in News on December 31, 2009 by jeffathearingaid

Hey readers! It’s pretty much the New Year so I thought I’d leave one as sort of a reflection on my year and hopefully the year in music, but honestly I don’t know of many albums that came out this year because generally I’m so caught up in what goes on locally and I discover bands long after I should. (I’m so qualified, right?)

But anyway, this year has been one of my best and worst. This Sunday was definitely a statement to that when I got into a car accident. It was easily the worst experience I’ve ever been through. I won’t get into the details but basically I collided with another car at an intersection. It was sort of complicated because I was turning left and the green arrow just went out, and frankly I can’t even remember hitting the other car. Everyone kept asking me if I lost consciousness but I said no. Looking back on it I think I did. I don’t remember the impact, I just remember waking up and seeing smoke billowing out of the dash and not being able to get out of the driver’s side door. No one was injured and I’m pretty much over it. Regardless, I’m still shaken up and pretty uptight in cars. I’m just glad to be alive and to be paying a boat load for insurance (hah).

I feel like this was a great year for donation based labels especially Community Records who had an extensive tour this Summer and brought along Fatter Than Albert, Stuck Lucky and A Billion Ernies. Open Hand Records released a lot of music from artists like Matt Wixson, This is a Stick Up, Paranoia Dance Party, and Best of the Worst. Also Quote Unquote re-released Three Cheers for Disappointment by The Arrogant Sons of Bitches. If it was actually from 2009 I’d say it was album of the year. One of the best ska albums, if you’re into the whole “disillusionment-punk” as I call it. Woodland Records also released some cool pop-punk and ska albums. Go check it out. Also if you’re into gypsy/roots music check out the stuff at Birthquake records. Great folk punk and gypsy wierdness from Wood Spider. granted their recordings are sometimes hard to listen to but it’s fun music.

Finally, go listen to some Elvis Costello, it’s great for the soul.

We’re going to be reviewing Atlas the Atom Smasher’s demos next week. here’s a link to download ’em.

Happy New Year all, I hope your 2009 was better than mine.

~Jeff

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Review: Do It With Malice

Posted in Reviews on December 22, 2009 by Ryan

Artist: Do It With Malice
Album: Symphonic Homicide

Download it here

Do It With Malice is a five piece band from Buffalo, New York with roots in ska, metal, punk, jazz and various other genres. Symphonic Homicide is the band’s debut full-length album. The band recently came back from a year-long hiatus and is now back in full swing writing and searching out shows.

Sound / Musicianship

Overall, Symphonic Homicide is well-constructed and unique listen. The band includes a variety of sounds in throughout the album: songs such as “Paranoid” and “Mark My Words” show a heavy amount of metal influence while “That’s What She Said” follows a punk / ska sound and “Blind” displays elements of jazz and straight up rock. The musicians in the group flow from one style to the next with very little effort and construct one of the most developed listens in today’s music scene.

The album features a large horn section (trumpet, trombone, and baritone, tenor, and alto saxophone all play at one point or another), though now the band only has a multi-talented wind player I believe. The use of the horns is of consistent quality but not overwhelming; often the horn lines back the choruses or bridges without stealing the attention from the crafty vocals. The main melodies are well-developed and show a significant amount of thought has gone into them. “Malicious Intent” starts the album and is purely instrumental and one of the clearest examples of how the horns work on different levels with various polyrhythms and harmonies. “Paranoid,” “Symphonic Homicide,” and “That Guy” feature exceptionally unique phrasing by the horns. Some creative use of horns on the album also include double tracking of the same saxophone, and the use of more horns than the band was physically able to play at one time.

The guitar work and the overall work done by the rhythm section is stellar. Although the band has two guitarists now, the album features a single guitarist creating guitar parts that incorporate elements of the rhythm and lead guitarist very well. Heavy riffing is shared in the same breath with clean, thoughtful chord progressions. A variety of rhythms are used for the clean guitar parts which is a plus because many ska bands resort to similar strumming patterns song after song. The drums are on spot and definitely set the base for the rest of the band while standing out at the proper times. The bass lines are exceptional and show a high level of talent on the instrument. Watch a video of this band to understand.

I don’t have much to say of the singing, but it also comes to an impressive level. Much of it is actually quite fast but done without the difficulty that most singers seem to have. The words flow very well and many of the songs have catchy lyrics throughout all the parts of the songs.

With all of these positive points, there are two distinct negative aspects that stood out when listening to this album. Although the guitar work is very well thought out, some of the tones that were chosen for the album are somewhat annoying and at times do not fit well in aspects of the song. At times, songs such as “Paranoid” and “Symphonic Homicide” create awkward transitions from heavy to clean. Also, there is a lead saxophone track that is on the album of which the tone can be annoying. It is obvious the tone was achieved on purpose, but to some it may come off as almost whiny.

Quality / Originality

The overall quality of the album is high. The musicianship is clear and the thought that has gone into this album is apparent. None of the tracks appear to have any mistakes on them, and on a purely aural level, all the tracks are well mixed and thought has been placed into how many tracks are on the album. I find this album to be highly original among other bands in the ska, punk, and even metal scene. Most of the songs are catchy, though still creative, and each are worth listening to on the album. My only complaint of all the songs is that “Blind” is a rather generic compared to the rest of the album. It’s rather straightforward going back between verses and choruses with only a solo section to provide a break.

Overall Impression

Personally, this is one of my favorite albums of any local band put out anywhere, in any musical genre. I’ve listened to every song well over fifty times and still find each one to be interesting and worth my time. I am honestly surprised this band is not more well known because there is so much appeal to the band. I would recommend this album to anybody and nearly have only positive comments for it. Some of the tones take a getting used to, but once overcome, you will find yourself listening to a quality album

– Ryan

Yes to Carrots

Posted in wierd crap on December 21, 2009 by jeffathearingaid

Hi everyone who reads this here blag! These past two weeks have been the busiest ever at Hearing Aid! I’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone who checks this every once in a while and maybe everyone who (gasp!) actually follows my recommendations. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from friends and hope that we’ll be able to expand our audience a little bit. Tell your friends.

Anyone see Ryan’s post? Ryan made my day earlier this week when he asked to write for Hearing Aid. It’s nice to know that someone wants to be a part of this, and I’m not doing it for nothing. It would also be a waste if I didn’t share it with anyone either. Ryan has lots of great ideas and I think he’ll be a great addition to our writing “team”. (He also knows more about html than I do.)

Seb’s a metalhead, in case you haven’t noticed. Hopefully he can write more frequently and we could get some different tastes going on here too.

So up here there are some pretty exciting shows coming up! One being the Skacore Semiformal at the Wakefield Unitarian Church on Saturday Jan. 2nd. We’re gonna try to get some video up here of at least a couple bands. One being the Best of the Worst, who I plug more than I do this blog. Really excited about that. If you’re in the area hit it up! I’ll be the dude playing bass in Frankenvan! Don’t be a stranger, say hi!

Also, I just applied to college, again. and I have to do it again. I’ll be recording an arts supplement over my winter break so I can get into music college.  So I wont really have time for reviewin’ much of anything. Maybe I’ll get some sleep over the next week…that’s all I want for Christmas.

I made a Facebook page as well. Checkit. Become a fan?

So have a great whatever you you celebrate, and if you don’t celebrate anything, more power to you.

Thanks again,

~Jeff

…and now for something COMPLETLEY different.

Posted in Reviews with tags on December 16, 2009 by Sebatthehearingaid

Hi I’m Sebastian, fellow reviewer for Hearing Aid. I’ve been around for a little while but this is my first post. I am going to be focusing more on the Metal and Hardcore side of things here at the Hearing Aid. Not that I don’t share the same appreciation for ska and punk as Jeff and Dean.

Now lets get rolling shall we!

Album: Lullabies for the Dormant Mind

Artist: The Agonist

aaaagh...

Overall, this album is a vast improvement over The Agonist’s previous release, “Once Only Imagined”. Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz shows tremedous improvement in her voice, both in style and range. A huge surprise came in the form of her performance of “Swan Lake Op. 20 Act #2 -Tchaikovsky” done A Capella. No really. She recorded all the parts and the result is something so beautiful, that it redefined for me what you could do on an album. As before, Chris Adolph and Danny Marino’s guitar playing is quick, precise, and technical. Fitting well along with the almost theatrical quality of the album. All the songs and atmosphere take you to a big dark opera. Alissa switches seamlessly between a huge powerful operatic voice and growls that can make the best say “That’s a girl?” This is one of my favorite albums this year, and would recommended this to any fan of music. The only thing I don’t like is one of their guitars. I think it looks funny.

Here We Go

Posted in News on December 16, 2009 by Ryan

Hello everyone,

My name is Ryan Gallagher and Jeff has allowed me to become a reviewer for Hearing Aid Music, and I’m really psyched about this. Over the summer I had been thinking about starting such a thing as this but never got around to it, but now I have the chance to put my thoughts somewhere on the music that I listen to. For those of you who don’t know, I play in the band Silent Distortion as one of two guitar players so I know the local ska / punk music scene, along with some of the hardcore scene that we have around here in New Hampshire. I’m also in tune with all those Community Records and Open Hand Records bands so you’ll see reviews of them as well.

So I hope to add to this blog with my musical knowledge and input and tastes and help people have an enjoyable time reading these reviews. I have a couple other ideas for this blog as well that not even Jeff knows about.

Thanks! I’ll be posting soon.

Silent Distortion playing at Disasterfest

 

– Ryan

Review: Best of the Worst

Posted in Reviews on December 10, 2009 by jeffathearingaid

Album: Calling from the Grave

Artist: Best of the Worst

Download here: http://www.mediafire.com/?ykgngktg4jw

All of this will wash away!

Hooookay! I’ve been waiting for this EP since the summer!

Reviewing this was difficult, not because I wasn’t sure about how I felt about it, but I’ve just been unable to escape the urge to listen to Tomahawk Chop (Indie/Pop punk), and the mellower Iron and Wine (Folk). I’m going to try something different this review and go through each song individually. Here goes.

The album starts off with a pretty hardcore tribute to the Flaming Tsu– I mean all those bands that are breaking up soon. Needless to say it’s a strong opener and the gang vocals at the end set a forceful tone for the rest of the EP. “Why Don’t You Have a Seat?” combines pop punk, ska, and hardcore into sort of a jumble. I really don’t know if I like it. It feels like there are a million different parts. Like a frankensong. Regardless it’s fun to listen to and it has some really awesome horn parts and the male and female harmonies (that made Quarter Life Crisis really enjoyable) are plentiful.

The next song, “Back of our Mind”, is really a triumph of ska. I can’t help but dance in my seat when I hear the opening trombone part. Did I mention I love trombones? Lyrics are great too (lyrics and explanations of each of the songs is on a PDF in the extracted file). It’s all about the younger generations are living in a world with the constant reminder of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also, gotta love the breakdown at the end.

I really like “Beaten to the Punch”. It’s progressive, has weird time signatures, cool chords and an overall interesting concept. Read the lyrics for an idea of what they were thinking when writing it. ‘Nuff said.

“Another Round”: I like their mini songs. I wish they would expand on them a little more. Nevertheless I feel like it provides a good interlude between the two “halves” (not exactly) of the album.

“Crashing” is just a plain old party song when you get down to it. The only thing that I thought was “wrong” was that the intro feels too major. I guess it fits the song. I bet it’s more fun live than on the album. I love the outtro. We Are the Union anyone?

I have a lot to say about “Wash Away”. It’s tied for my favorite song with “Back of Our Mind”. It starts out with a really cool hardcore riff over the harsh lead vocals. It’s a fast paced redemption song that I think embodies some key elements of Best of the Worst’ philosophy. The ending guitar part right after the breakdown is the climax of the song in my opinion. This is the transcendence talked about in the song and the feeling builds to finally let down at the outtro. Not only is this song very relatable, it’s a great closer to the album that wraps everything up in the nice 20 minute package that it is.

Overall, this is a great second album from the Best of the Worst. Not only do are they making some great pop punk/hardcore, they’re also bending the genres and introducing new elements to them and making new music, which is what I love. They manage to write some really great horn parts without resorting to cliché. I think the key word is interesting. It’s fun to listen to and it’s obvious they haven’t lost anything in the time between QLC and CftG. So support your local musicians by not paying anything for this album (donations welcome). The only one regretting this download is my headphones. They need a break.

~Jeff

Let’s take a Walk…

Posted in News on December 7, 2009 by jeffathearingaid

So I’ve been meaning to post something about the show on Friday in Rockport because I feel like I need an outlet for this sort of thing.

So first off I’d like to thank everyone that came out to Rockport and made the night memorable. Especially the guy who also went to the NYSO concert, it was great when he gave me a dirty look (haha!). But what really made it memorable was Silent Distortion’s set. I can’t remember the first time I saw them, but they have always been the ones with the most energy. Every set is a draining experience. Every set is a catharsis. At Anchors Up one time a while ago, Kyle (lead singer and trumpet player) jumped off stage and grabbed my shirt and screamed the last chorus of “It’s No Use” into my face. Awesomeness.

But this show was different. About halfway through their set their drummer, Greg, told everyone to either shut up, or get out. Somehow they succeeded in shutting everybody up and he did one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen anyone do. He told us the story about how when he played at that venue last in July, he walked to the center of the adjacent baseball field and made the resolution to kill himself. There were some girls sitting on a pool table to my right who were saying stuff like “way too much info” and “Why is he telling us this?” I honestly almost told them too get the fuck out. When someone puts their soul on display, one, there’s obviously a point, and two they just demonstrated why he wanted to kill himself in the first place! My interpretation was that he said that we don’t take the time to understand people or ideas and he referenced the materialism in the whole punk scene ( he wasn’t rambling it’s just my poor memory). But he eventually said that it was the song that they were about to play that made him not commit suicide. It was his love of music and those dedicated to it (not just those that play in a band, but those who understand it) that made him call it off.

I honestly can’t express how much what he said meant to me, because right now I can’t think about anything that makes more sense than music. And I guess that’s why I wanted to do this blog because all I ever feel like doing is listening to, talking about, and playing music. I don’t know what I’d do with myself without it.  And I can’t deny that I haven’t though of driving into a guardrail myself. I guess music is all of our saviors (or our hindrances) It’s not something just to keep me occupied, it’s how I get myself into tangible form. If I was good at painting, I’d paint my brain out onto the canvas. But right now music is my outlet and these bimonthly therapy sessions that we call shows, have turned out to be the best things for me, especially because of Greg’s speech.

So I hope I haven’t said too much in lieu of Greg to repeat exactly what we said, but I feel like I got a half-decent picture of how memorable that show was.

I hate to add to this post but The Best of the Worst just released a new album, that you should totally check out at Open Hand Records It should be right on the homepage. review coming soon.

Thanks for your time,

~Jeff