Review: Toy Cars – Paint Brain

Toy Cars - Paint Brain

After putting out an EP a year for the past four years, Toy Cars are finally ready to release their debut full-length. Paint Brain, which more than doubles the band’s catalog, is the clear culmination of where they’ve been headed since the Red HandsEP. If you haven’t been paying attention, allow me to explain exactly where it is they’ve been headed. Paint Brain occupies the space between rock and roll bands like The Menzingers (yeah, I know) and The Gaslight Anthem, and overlaps with emo acts like The Hotelier or Oso Oso. It feels equally fresh and familiar.

Review: Champagne Colored Cars – Champagne Colored Cars

Champagne Colored Cars

When I listen to Champagne Colored Cars, I’m reminded of one of 2016’s biggest surprises for me, Tiny Moving Parts’ Celebrate. Both Celebrate and Champagne Colored Cars’ debut self-titled EP are mathy emo albums with more than just a little post-hardcore influence – but both manage to be so much damn fun. Now, to be sure, Champagne Colored Cars is significantly less technical than anything Tiny Moving Parts has ever released, and to me, that’s a bit of a bonus; it gets tiring sometimes when every band wants to be “American Football But Heavy.”

Triple Crown Records 20th Anniversary Show

Triple Crown Records has been putting out some of the scene’s most essential records for twenty years now, so it makes sense that their anniversary show ended up being one of the best shows I’ve seen this year. The four-band show had a mix of styles that spoke to the variance in sound the label has always had; a fan of almost any kind of music could’ve found a set to like. I ran through some of my favorites below.

Interview: Corey Coffman of Gleemer

Gleemer

Gleemer’s fourth full-length album, Anymore, comes out next month. It’s a big jump for the band, as it’s their first release on Other People Records – or, for that matter, any label. Last week I spoke with vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Corey Coffman about the jump to the label, the concept of Anymore, and the weird process of choosing its album cover.

Review: Mineral Girls – This Is the Last Time Every Time

Mineral Girls - This Is the Last Time Every Time

There’s very little solace to be found in Mineral GirlsThis Is the Last Time Every Time. The world the characters inhabit is an indifferent – if not outright cruel – one to be certain, but most of the anguish on display here comes from inside. “I’m not trying to get any better / I’m just trying to make it look like I am,” becomes something of a mantra for the record.

This Is the Last Time Every Time is an appropriate title for an album as concerned as this one is with trying to change. The title of the opener (from which comes the above lyric) is “Let’s Talk About Us,” after all. And the song is just as cathartic as it sounds. See, for all the intensity behind the lyrics, the band behind them matches it pound for pound. For the most part, they’ve ditched the fuzz from Cozy Body in favor of a rougher, more straightforward emo sound. “The Bruise on We” begins with a Mineral-style riff, building and building to a post-hardcore climax, complete with harsh shrieks. It’s the only moment like it on the album, but it feels totally necessary. Elsewhere, like the title track, the band introduces electronics into their sound.

Review: Prawn – Run

In 2003, The Appleseed Cast released Two Conversations, the followup to their critically acclaimed two-disc Low Level Owl project. Fans were disappointed. Two Conversations was decidedly more commercial than Low Level Owl; the ambiance was replaced with melody and, it seemed to fans, the band traded ambition for accessibility. It’s true that Two Conversations shifted away from the unrepentant post-rock sound of the Low Level Owl CDs, but it’s also true that it’s an impressive album in its own right, even if it isn’t what was expected out of The Appleseed Cast. Most have come around to that by now.

I foresee something similar happening with Prawn’s new album, Run. 2014’s Kingfisher was unanimously praised on release by fans and critics alike. The record’s blending of emo and punk with post-rock made for an engrossing listen – one you can sing along to as well as brood to. Like Two Conversations, Run is a far more straightforward album than its predecessor. It’s more Into It. Over It. than Moving Mountains, let’s say – especially when the punk influence shines through on songs like “Empty Hands” and “Snake Oil Salesman.” The latter of which is a highlight on the record; Tony Clark shouting, “I know what you’ve been selling,” is one of the most fun moments in the band’s whole discography.

Review: Captain, We’re Sinking – The King of No Man

Captain, We're Sinking

Captain, We’re Sinking’s The Future Is Cancelled was one of the most impressive punk albums in recent memory. It’s a tense listening experience, as songs burst and crash with little warning; vocalists Bobby Barnett and Leo Vergnetti jumped between near-inaudible whispers and throat-damaging howls at the drop of a dime, singing harrowing stories of depression, alcoholism, and suicide. It all felt spontaneous, necessary.

The King of No Man feels a bit more rehearsed. Where before the band had more jagged edges, they’ve smoothed them over. Instead of finding catharsis through ragged shouting as on The Future, No Man finds it in quieter moments, to varying effects. Opener “Trying Year” ushers this new era of Captain, We’re Sinking in appropriately, pumping the brakes every time one would think Barnett’s getting ready to let loose (although he or Vergnetti does sneak a pretty impressive guitar solo in there). “Hunting Trip” is a slowburn comparable to “A Bitter Divorce” with a less intense payoff, finding Barnett singing the song’s climactic final lines over a clean guitar line. It feels a bit toothless in the end, like there should’ve been a little more push to end out the song, and it sort of sputters out rather than exploding. Then there’s “Dance of Joy,” a bizarre, drum-led song that would never fit on The Future Is Cancelled. It’s weird to even think the same band wrote this song and “Shoddy Workmanship,” but it ends up being one of the album’s highlights, due in good part to Vergnetti’s powerful vocal performance.

Review: Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex

Cigarettes After Sex

I was starting to get nervous about Cigarettes After Sex. Their debut EP, I., had picked up some steam when it was released – in 2012. Sure, they’d released a couple singles here and there, but without any word of an album, or even an EP, I got a little bit disheartened. Cut to present day and Cigarettes After Sex are releasing their self-titled debut and it’s everything I could have wanted out of a follow-up to I. The album picks up up exactly where the EP left off, offering up ten tracks of melancholic, languid indie rock.

Secret Space – “Butterfly” (Video Premiere)

Secret Space recently announced The Window Room Part 2: Lost in a Dream, a reimagining of their debut The Window Room with a few extra surprises thrown in. Today we’re excited to premiere one of those surprises: the first song the band ever recorded, a cover of Weezer’s “Butterfly.” If you like their take, be on the lookout for The Window Room Part 2 when it drops for free on their BandCamp on March 17th.

Review: Jake Clarke/Spur – Split

Jake Clarke/Spur

Like Semisonic sang on their classic 1994 single “Closing Time,” “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Such is the case on both halves of Jake Clarke and Spur’s new split. Clarke was one of the vocalists of the grunge band Superheaven, and his half of the split sounds like the natural next step from his old band’s ‘90s-inspired rock. Spur, on the other hand, rose from the ashes of the emo band In Writing, and they play a blend of coarse punk and shoegaze.

Review: Sinai Vessel – Brokenlegged

Sinai Vessel

I remember the first time I heard Sinai Vessel. It was around four years ago and their sophomore EP profanity had just come out. I was immediately captivated the band’s raucous indie rock – sort of like a more upbeat and aggressive Pedro the Lion. Songs like “Cuckold” and “Flannery” carried the energy and raw emotion of songs by scene favorites like Taking Back Sunday or The Weakerthans. I knew the band had a phenomenal full-length in them, and I knew they going to blow up with its release. But that full-length didn’t come, and I found new bands who gave me similar feelings. I revisited profanity now and then, but mostly when I thought about Sinai Vessel it was to wonder what could’ve been. Then, all of a sudden, I didn’t have to wonder anymore – Sinai Vessel signed to Tiny Engines, one of my favorite active labels, and announced that long-awaited full-length.

Review: Dryjacket – For Posterity

Dryjacket

I’m sure there’s a joke to be made about Dryjacket’s debut album being titled For Posterity, given their throwback sound, but I’m neither clever nor unoriginal enough to make it. There would be truth to it though — from the pun song titles (“Spelling Era,” “Abe LinkedIn”), to the horns, to the dual vocals — everything about For Posterity feels familiar.

You can pull out hints of The Promise Ring and Piebald at every corner of the band’s pop-sensible emo, and the trumpet calls to mind American Football, of course. The band even pays tribute to their more eclectic, more technical forefathers on “Epi Pen Pals” and “Milo with an ‘H.’” This is all to say that, much like my sort of attempted joke, For Posterity isn’t all that original. It plays, generally, like a recap of the genre for anyone who might’ve missed it the first time around.