Archive for Hearing Aid music

Review: Bramble

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on April 6, 2010 by jeffathearingaid

Artist: Bramble

Album: H.A.G.S. (Had a Great Summer)

Quickreviewquickreviewquickreview!

I stumbled on this folk band a couple weeks ago on a myspace band hunt and quickly became accustomed with their wholesome, folksy sound. they sing of trains and nature and love. Swimming in rivers and watching the seasons change.  It’s very positive, relaxing music. Here is a quick review of their recent EP, HAGS.

One of the things that makes Bramble so appealing is just their simple, down to earth feel. They have pretty standard, but wide-ranging, instrumentation for a folk band with an accordion, acoustic guitar, banjo, tambourine and mandolin all worked into the recording. Nothing is too spectacular in the instrumental area, but it doesn’t need to be. For Bramble it’s all about the songs. These songs are expertly crafted. The bouncy opening track is just begging to be played on a sunny morning on the way to a state park or the beach or something. Each song gives off a certain feel. In “Trains X” we explore a fleeting relationship that lasts for but a few days, until the lovers must part ways. The accordion really takes the lead in theis song and carries the fun rhythms.

“Colors” is the stand-out track on this EP. It captures the feeling of longing and loneliness that comes with fall, turning into winter, but it also manages to stay in style with the rest of the album, which is very warm. The song opens with harmonies and a folksy hook that I can’t get out of my head, and plunges into the mid-tempo song about changing seasons. The lyrics in “Colors” overshadow all the other songs, finding symbolism in autumn and the turning of the leaves. “Kicking through these piles of leaves up to your ankles got me thinking/ What a thing it is to find such joy in something else’s sorrow/ What a life to live to see such yesterdays and await tomorrow/I see the difference in the context, something dies and something’s born.”

The background singing is less than glorious, but the lead singer is a joy to listen to. He has a clear, earthy voice that really makes these songs work.

This a tight, soulful band. Their songs are optimistic and joyful. I instantly get into a great mood when I hear the opening song, “Fruit of the Moon”. Bottom line is it’s fun, poetic folk music that’s strangely beautiful.

You can find Bramble by clicking here or going to their myspace.

~Jeff

Review: Bomb the Music Industry!

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on March 9, 2010 by jeffathearingaid

Artist: Bomb the Music Industry!

Album: Adults!

Download it for FREE HERE.

Excited by nothing!

Rosenstock fans rejoice! New release from BtMI! I’ll be completely honest and say that I’m not a huge fan of BtMI’s earlier recordings! They have a few good, even great songs but I really wasn’t a fan of their recordings. There was too much clutter, more often than not you couldn’t hear the vocals or the guitar was scratchy or there was just something that detracted from the recording.

On a completely different note I really enjoyed this new EP! The only real reason why I downloaded it was because it was new and free, but that’s not why I think that you should download it. It’s just a really well made album and nothing is really grating and all the tracks meld together nicely. It isn’t as frantic as earlier releases. It’s much more organized.

Jeff Rosenstock is still writing great songs. This EP is filled with catchy horn lines, epic chord progressions (I’m looking at you “Sanawon”), and the usual bouts of self-loathing that come with the Rosenstock territory. Out of all the songs, “All Ages Shows” and “The First Time I met Sanawon” are what kept me listening to this album. “All Ages” has this pretty air about it. It isn’t gritty punk or upbeat ska. It just has this great waltz feel to it that builds to a cathartic chorus (featuring Laura Stevenson’s voice!).  “Sanawon” is one of my favorite third wave songs right now. It’s just plain FUN.

So all in all I feel like BtMI! is in a great place right now. I’m looking forward to more stuff like this. You probably won’t like this if you’re hung up on the earlier albums but seriously give it a chance. It’s a little more mellow and better thought out. Oh yeah, did I mention Laura Stevenson sings in “All Ages Shows”? That’s enough for me.

4 Rosenscreams out of 5.

~Jeff

Review: Atlas The Atom Smasher

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on January 27, 2010 by Ryan

Artist: Atlas The Atom Smasher
Album: Doubletree Demos

Download it here

Atlas The Atom Smasher is a progressive punk / skacore band based out of Massachusetts. Doubletree Demos is a set of demos recently recorded by the band and released free to the public. The band hopes to record a full length album in the near future.

For this review, Ryan and I (Jeff) will be doing back to back takes on each of the songs individually.

“Josh Tracy Vs. The Rebel Alliance”

Ryan: This is a pretty standard introduction to the album, nothing too special about it. It starts everything off with a Star Wars sample which is pretty neat and then goes on to about thirty seconds of thrash. It’s heavy and would be enjoyable live but there’s not much else to say about it.

Jeff: Epic opener in my opinion. A dissonant rant introduced after a Star Wars sample. Loud, fast, epic. Not much of a song really.

“Yankee Ingenuity”

Ryan: Probably one of my favorite songs of the set. The transition from the sudden stop at the end of the first song works well into transitioning to the subtle bass intro of this song. Structurally, the verses are pretty straightforward but the guitar behind it is interesting and catchy, while the lyrics take a interesting stab at one being a good person means. The chorus is very catchy as well and is supported by a very tight trombone line. As the song progresses through the bridge, intricate trombone and saxophone parts come together to create unique melodies and to help build to the end of the song. This one constantly stays in my head.

Jeff: A very differently structured song with no clear chorus or verse, but rather two parts that mesh into one another at the middle of the song. Trombone parts are really well written and (DISCLAIMER) yes it’s hard to hear them because IT’S A DEMO. Not all the songs are very well recorded and they aren’t meant to be. That said the songwriting and overall style is brought to the forefront. The solid horn lines really add flavor and the hits that bridge the two parts of the song together do well to create tention and release it in the final part of the song. A very well crafted song.

“American Youth”

Ryan: The verses and bridge of this song begin to stray away from the dark feel that has already been established in earlier songs. Again, straightforward verses but full of thoughtful lyrics. The chorus is catchy as hell with gang vocals echoing over the entire thing. The song is pretty simple but definitely a good listen, building up to a calm ending. Parts of this song seem over developed, such as random piano in one part, and gang vocals rather than a single vocal over the chorus. However, it’s still a decent song.

Jeff: A great song in my opinion. The chorus is catchy and you can never tell if they are in a major or minor key which creates an uncertain feel. Of course singing about Katrina victims and bigoted CEO’s helps with that too. The ska bridge turns into a musical odyssey leading back to the chorus riff. The rambling chords remind me of Fatter Than Albert. Ends with a really great trombone line that you heard in the chorus hopefully. Ignore the synth line after the first chorus. Why is it there? Aaron Hibbert knows.

“Too Tall”

Ryan: Probably the slowest and most laid back on the album. That’s not a bad thing, but of all the songs it appeals to me the least. The song plays with interesting feels and time signatures and flows very well, but the overall sound is too eerie and almost, in some ways, too “whiny” for me. I don’t have much to say about it, but you’ll probably either love or hate this track.

Jeff: The first time I listened to this song I really didn’t like it. Awkward time signatures, dissonant lines and a really strange chord substitution in the chorus. Then I heard them do it live and everything meshed pretty well. It’s hard to listen to though. Love/hate relationship with this song.

“The Snowmiser Suite, Part II: Heatmiser”

Ryan: The fast gripping verses, heavy breakdowns, melodic lines by the saxophones and overall tightness of this song really appeal to me. The song rips through with hard hitting lyrics and harsh guitar parts. It switches from hardcore punk to just plain hardcore / metal and the transitions are done very well. The song also includes an interlude designed to go to the next song which is also put together well. The feel of an interlude is achieved, but the guitar solo that goes over it feels generic at points. But the traditional blues solo feel might be on purpose. I’ve been informed a Part I to this suite will be written eventually.

Jeff: Brutal melodic hardcore-thru-megaphone punk. Excellent lyrics here too. Not much to say other than it’s the second part of the “Snowmiser Suite”. Motifs include screaming “WE’LL BE OK!!”. I heard part one the other day. Pretty awesome.

“The Snowmiser Suite, Part III: Mother Nature”

This is my favorite song on the album and my go to song to make me feel better for the past couple months. It’s dark, it has its negative feel, but it also has a sense of optimism to it. It’s a linear song, no repetition to verses or chorues but it all works well and everything, between guitar parts and memorable saxophone lines, stays in your head and works to create a somewhat sad, but optimistic feel. A high energy finale comes right before the outro, yelling “We’ll be ok,” and I only wish this part had been developed to go on longer. The end of the song slows down in a similar way to “American Youth” and fades out to a calm ending.

Jeff: This song is one of the best songs on the album. Steps right off with a solo guitar playing the verse progression. This is one of the more positive songs they’ve written and it really shines. Hopes for the apocalypse and raining fire is some of the imagery conjured from the depths of Mister Hibbert’s soul. But those are only the consequences if we do not learn to put aside our differences and learn to cherish our time on earth and to cherish the time with each other. That’s what I got out of it at least. Of course the choral-style  vocals while singing “We’ll be ok, we’ll be alright” makes the song’s scale feel large. I don’t know any other way to express that but it’s a larger than life song. A great closer for the Snowmiser Suite.

“Soundtrack”

Ryan: This is my second favorite song on the album. From the start, the band plays with different time signatures and feels. The vocals come in packed with a punch, tackling opinions on religion. A heavy guitar part lines the verses as well which adds to the almost urgency of the song. The song continues, rising at points, slowing down but never that much until after the second chorus. After a short interlude, a dramatic bridge comes in with passionate vocals backed by tight drumming and just a solid chord progression. It all works up to build back down, but then crescendos to a final outro. The song hits every high and low it can in five minutes and wraps the album up very well.

Jeff: This is my favorite track on the album. Every time I listen to it I get emotional. It’s five minutes of soul wrenching poetry dealing with atheism and confronting yourself and the need for salvation when you know it won’t come. The build from the guitar plucking to “Stars fall” is simply amazing and the part that follows is very well  done. All the tension built up from the whole album is released finally ending with “Take me down, take me home” in the style of “We’ll be ok”. I’m not a huge fan of the fade to acoustic thing but it rounds off the song nicely.

Final Thoughts

Ryan: This is a very satisfying demo. Yes, it’s a demo, the quality could be improved, not everything is totally clear, some edges are rough, but that’s all fine. Although it is a demo, the energy and passion of the band seem to be expressed very clearly still. All the parts of the songs work together to bring together dark tones and high optimism; deep despair and a search for a higher understanding. The lyrics tackle topics of morality and to me that adds to the depth of the album. What is being said is backed by the music and there’s a point to it. I highly suggest listening to this set of demos. I hope there’s more to come in the near future.

Jeff: This is definitely a band to watch and see live. They don’t play out often but keep your eyes peeled. Overall these demos were really impressive. These guys have great song-writing skill. The thing is they don’t really fit in with either the hardcore or ska genres. I would call them melodic hardcore but it’s different from most bands like that. They are by no means generic and  will surprise with dissonance and with beautiful melodies. It’s not really fun music  but it’s got artistic merit and emotional merit. Can’t wait for new songs and more shows.

We’ll be ok.

~Jeff/Ryan

First Review!

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on October 5, 2009 by jeffathearingaid

So my first few reviews will be my favorite albums and I’ll work my way into stuff that’s requested or things that I want to review!

Review 1- Fatter than Albert: The Last Minute

FTA took my baby away!

As my first review, this one will most likely set the precedents to all the other ones that will follow or maybe it will be the horrible failure that I eventually delete because of my shame. And don’t feel like I’m only going to review ska albums because that’s not all that I listen to. And yes I do like this band. A lot.

When I first downloaded The Last Minute off Communityrecords.org, (please go it’s a wonderful place) I sort of expected something along the lines of Erin’s Runaway Imagination. Great third wave ska with a hint of hardcore and jazz. I was really surprised when I heard a more progressive sounding ska with rambling chord progressions that lead into a verse (I’m talking to you 27’s) and a lot of instrumental odysseys. (fourth wave?) The first listen through the 30 minute album warranted a lot of skepticism, but now I’m sold. This album is the concept album that ska needs right now and it brings a lot to the table.
There is no doubt that FTA is writing some very complex and progressive music. They are mixing old school ska and punk with almost jazzy progressions to make a sort of new genre within ska. The two vocals work very well together. Though at the end of 27’s Part 1 the back ups are a little off, but that can be forgiven due to the odyssey the band just took us on. My only complaint is with Panda King. For one, I really think the original part at the beginning should come back in the end instead of the I-V progression that closes the song. Also a friend pointed out that the sax at the beginning is flat and it kind of ruined the recording for me. But if it wasn’t pointed out to me I wouldn’t have noticed. Also it’s a really freaking amazing song.
In short, I love what FTA is doing for ska with this album and for those of you who wish ska wouldn’t change, there will always be Keasbey Nights and The Toasters

~Jeff