Author Archives: Jon Hammer

Haze – The American Scene Album Review by Jonathan Hammer

Though I respect all music, it’s sometimes difficult for me to branch out of screaming vocals and heavily distorted guitars – as a metal head, indie pop-rock music that all sounds the same usually just doesn’t do anything for me.

Then there’s The American Scene.

The American Scene’s latest work, Haze, comes out September 9 via Pure Noise Records, but an advanced promo copy has gotten me sucked into some relaxing indie that has memorable hooks and a simple-but-fun sounding song construction.

The album opens with its title track and sets the mood well: crunch guitars that have the clarity of a gorgeous clean tone, upbeat drums that follow pop rhythms but aren’t generic, bass lines that create an infrastructure of low end to make sure the mix isn’t too thin, and catchy vocals with just enough reverb and delay to make them stand out, all allow for The American Scene’s work to hold its own against other acts in the genre.

Darker, mellow songs like “Nails of Love” aren’t too common on the album, but offer a good break from the more upbeat songs that abound. As “Nails of Love” ends and transitions into “4th and Broadway”, an upbeat piece with more guitar presence, listeners can understand that the band has a whimsical play of dynamics with their instruments, as well as a writing process that leads to diverse works.

The album is also filled with lyrics that college students can relate to, such as the extremely catchy chorus of “Nails Of Love”, which is guaranteed to remind you of at least one person you’ve met before: “She doesn’t want to be in love/Doesn’t think it’s any fun/All her friends are getting high on the weekends/He doesn’t dance unless he’s drinking/But he’s been breaking it down”

With no song clocking in at over 4 minutes, and most of the 10 songs on the album being less than 3 and a half minutes, Haze offers listeners music that can stay on repeat because of how short and catchy each song is. Whether you’re looking for something to go for a run to, trying to find new study music, or simply just want to listen to a new band, watch out for Haze in the near future; The American Scene made a mark on my music listening habits, and I’m sure it will for you, too.

 

“Royal Blue”, the band’s single for the album, can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JQDKVHIxdY

You Ought To Know: Twenty-One Pilots

Vessel still has potential to grow popularity into 2014

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Album: Vessel

Released: January 8, 2013

Label: Fueled By Raman

By: Stephanie Griffin

It seems every time I have a new favorite artist, nobody knows who it is. I can say this about Twenty-One Pilots.  The musical duo from Ohio is Tyler Joseph on vocals and piano and Josh Dun on drums. They are not new to the music scene, but they can thank the Fueled by Ramen label for signing them to help get their big break. Their first album, Regional At Best (2011) introduced indie fans to the new artists, who grew popular while headlining shows and tours. But, Vessel, released January 8 of this year, is starting to give Twenty-One Pilots the exposure they deserve.
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CAPITAL CITIES- ONE OF THE BEST NEW ARTISTS OF 2013

 

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Artist: Capital Cities

Album: In A Tidal Wave of Mystery

Release Date: June 4, 2013

By: Stephanie Griffin

It took me seeing them live this past weekend to realize how awesome this band is. Capital Cities, whose top hit “Safe and Sound” is played on various radio stations, is definitely a new band to highlight before this year is over. Their debut album called In A Tidal Wave of Mystery, was released in the beginning of summer. The first single off the album, “Safe and Sound” became a top Summer favorite. Capital Cities is growing even more popular as they currently tour Fitz and the Tantrums this Fall. As a whole, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery is the ideal party album. What makes Capital Cities so unique is how they are able to bring an eighties pop feel in their songs, with the use of brass instruments and synthesizers. This combination just works, and every track brings its own little taste to their indie style.

Capital Cities is an indie electronic band out of Los Angeles. It first started as Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, who began as jingle writers. Once the band was formed in 2010, they released some independent EP’s with their first single, “Safe and Sound” actually being one of their first recorded tracks. The newest members include bassist Manny Quintero, trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, guitarist Nick Merwin, and drummer Channing Holmes.

The album kicks off with their first single, “Safe and Sound.” Listening to the lyrics, the song can be interpreted for many different types of relationships: romantic, friendships, or even family. It’s a song about promising to be there for each other. As the lyrics say, “I could lift you up, I could show you what you wanna see and take you where you wanna be.”

Next on the album is “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast.” The song sounds happy though its lyrics are pretty sad. The song goes, “I want it all and nothing less, I want it all, I want the best for you, I’m telling you the truth.” Even though the lyrics portray some type of frustration with a relationship, the synthesizer in the background just makes you want to dance.

The third track is by far one of the best and hopefully a future single for Capital Cities. On tour, they open with “Kangaroo Court,” another fun dancing song. It’s one of those songs where the lyrics don’t make sense, but in this case- who cares. This song is best for its instrumental sound, like the amazing part with the trumpet before the bridge.

The party album continues with more electronic catchy songs. “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo” is one of those songs with a one-line chorus that can easily get stuck in your head. “Farrah Fawcett Hair” is another dance song that features hip-hop artist, Andre 3000, where again, the lyrics don’t really make sense but it’s a cool song to listen to. Then you hear tracks like “Chartreuse” and “Origami” that sound for a second as if they are songs to open for a video game. But what Capital Cities does best is take this electronic pop sound and give it a little funk with the use of piano and brass instruments. Whatever they use, each song has its own feel so you get a little bit of everything: dance, pop, electronic, rock, indie.

Towards the end of the album, it seems like this dance party is coming to an end. Songs like “Lazy Lies” and “Tell Me How To Live” are rather slow and different from the beginning of the album. The lyrics are also kind of depressing. As the lyrics of “Lazy Lies” say, “Sick and tired, and you wanna see a change
But you don’t wanna change for me.” You are basically going to hear certain songs on the album where the lyrics may not make sense. But songs like “Lazy Lies” actually tell a story. This variety works though and can show us Capital Cities can do more than just upbeat dance songs. Though they weren’t my favorite songs on the album, the change in tone is something good to have. You don’t want every song sounding the same.

It is clear though Capital Cities does a good job with getting songs stuck in your head. You will be looking forward to the last two tracks on this album because they are catchy, cute, and fun. “Love Away” is almost the perfect song to end a romantic comedy with. In this case, it’s the best way to end In A Tidal Wave of Mysterybecause it is simple and cute. Anyone who listens to bands like the Fitz and the Tantrums, Miniature Tigers, Imagine Dragons, or Grouplove will definitely enjoy Capital Cities. Indie music nowadays is expanding to more subgenres like electronic, pop, dance, funk, and more. Capital Cities has a little bit of everything to offer on In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. They can continue their music career safely and soundly, as they become one of the best new artists this year.