Breaking is the first album from the Brooklyn based band Cold Wrecks, well that’s not the whole truth. This is a new version of the band Eli Whitney & the Sound Machine, which leaned towards the Ska genre. In this new iteration the band has garnered comparisons to Modern Baseball, Weakerthans and Against Me!, but that is to simplify things a bit. This is not going to be a knock on the more or less repetitive world of modern American nondescript punk, but there is reason to have it in the back of your mind while talking about Cold Wrecks. For bands that classify themselves as punk rock today, or the even vaguer term emo, it is easy to fall into the trap that is the aforementioned style and doing so one runs a risk of sounding more like Sum 41, New Found Glory or a myriad of other forgettable bands. To truly stand out in the world of punk bands just might need to look elsewhere to find inspiration and that might just be what the Brooklynites have done.
Th opening salvo of Breaking is called Price and is truly promising, a musical nod to British post-punk like Smiths, Joy Division and more modern counterparts like The Courteneers. Unfortunately it ends there. Most of the album falls back into a punk sound. It is the same problem bands like Fightstar’s album Be Human where the best track by no means represents the other songs. It’s as if Cold Wrecks don’t quite know what they want to be. The tracks on the album are everywhere without a real cohesiveness and with a disjointed feel. One could argue that the need for a unified collection of tracks is unnecessary in the digital age, where listeners concentrate more on individual songs than the sum of its parts, but for new listeners consistency is key.
This said Cold Wrecks style of punk rock is by no means bland. There is heart here and a willingness to experiment with the form, especially when it comes to content and themes. It’s more than your run of the mill punk and deals more with heart ache and loneliness instead of high school angst or parties.
Cold Wrecks show that they are a band that have a bright future in front of them and if they continue to experiment they can go far.
– Andrew Tobias
Andrew Tobias is a music collector, musician and cultural scholar as well as the Guild’s resident music reviewer. His former girlfriends also describe him as perpetually broken.
“And despite, despite yourself, You’ll be the last good thorn on the rose.
And in time, in time you’ll see, You’ll make those fucking petals look like plastic shite you see in shops, Or graveyard bins. Where the pointless offers made to long dead lovers means nothing, To cold dead bones. You’ll be the last good thorn on the rose.”
- Give it up
- G’Wan So
- Marching in time
It was in 2013 that the Irish punk band Chewing on Tinfoil released their last album; Marrowbone Lane and to satiate the fans they have now released an E.P. called Moving the Goalposts. The E.P. contains five tracks with the bands typical mix of punk, ska and rock. For those of us who enjoyed the previous release this one will not disappoint. Chewing on Tinfoil quickly show, on the first track Charlene, that they master the fine blend that is legacy of Clash-brand punk rock, Frank Turner- style folky rock and American third wave ska.
Like the mix of musical styles that the quartet displays so is the E.P. similarly blended in lyrical content. The listener is thrown between love and social criticism all in cleverly worded phrases and delivered with right amount of sentiment, anger and joy that the songs require.
All in all Moving the Goalposts is a perfect example of what Chewing on Tinfoil can do when they are on the top of their game and should make fans excited about what might come next.
Moving the Goalposts is available to stream for free at https://chewingontinfoil.bandcamp.com/album/moving-the-goalposts or to download at your own price.
– Andrew Tobias
When it was announced that Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf were once again teaming up to make music my interest was naturally peaked. Bat Out of Hell, as well as their sophomore project Dead Ringer and the long awaited follow up Bat Out of Hell II are some of my favorite albums ever and I often times view them as two of the most complete works of rock ever constructed. Meat Loaf’s production outside this collaboration has not left any lasting impression on me apart from the odd tune here and there, 2003’s Couldn’t Have Said it Better has become a perennial top ten listen.
Going All the Way is the first single from the upcoming album Braver than We Are a project in development since 2013. The upcoming album will contain tracks written by Steinman, new and ones that have been previously recorded by other artists. For a Meat Loaf/Steinman trifecta fan this indeed sounds promising.
But if the lead off single Going All the Way is any indication most of us who fall into that particular fandom will be sorely disappointed. Meat has enlisted some old friends; Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito, who both performed on Paradise By the Dashboard Lights and they are unfortunately the saving grace. For gone is the bombastic grandness that captured the heartstrings of the teenagers of the nineties when I Could Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) would start playing at the high school dance, well at least in my neck of the woods. Instead we are quickly thrown into the song like a child thrown into a cold lake on the first day of summer, and a similar shock ensues. The strength of a Steinman tune is the intro, it sets the mood and tone more than most songs do. It’s the way he constructs it, like a piece of a musical number, the audience gets to feel what the performer is feeling and we are usually in step with Meat Loaf as he serenades the world. This experienced is completely lost and as a listener you are left confused and bewildered about how to feel.
Meat Loaf himself can give no comfort or guidance in the matter either. Whether it is his hectic touring schedule, his recent health scare or just plain old age, but his voice isn’t what it has been in the past. I once read in Time magazine that they very nearly, not quite, but nearly compared him to the old opera singer Jussi Bjorling and Steinman’s epic tunes would not be complete without his voice. When that voice has seemingly lost its potency, well then the entire illusion falls.
Last, but by no means least the compositions itself just doesn’t make it all the way. Steinman’s ability to write a great tune has already been discussed, but his lyrics have always been the heart of the affair. Part nostalgic throwback to a simpler time with outdoor movie theaters, the smell of motor oil, lost loves and reckless youths and part general rebellion, all melded into a baroque anthem. This is not it though. Going all the way is a jumbled mix of nonsensic words and the result is such a mess that one has to step back and say; huh? If this is one of Steinman’s older, rejected songs recycled, then it should have been left on the editing room floor, much like Prince’ later production should have been.
So, is my love affair with Loaf/Steinman over? Only the release of Braver Than We Are in September can answer that question, but this single does not make it look promising and in saying that, this is not a fitting end for Meat Loaf or Jim Steinman.
Andrew Tobias is a songwriter, music collector and writer who generally believes that Two out of three ain’t bad.
Label: On the Fiddle
Best Track: Red Sky
When a band splits or a member departs it’s not surprising, maybe even expected or warranted, that a solo album is waiting in the wings. It might serve as an explanation to why the departure happened, as was the case with Peter Gabriel, it could also be a need to put out material that was supposed to be featured on the band’s next album, like Fish’s Vigil in the Wilderness of Mirrors. On the other hand; when an artist in a very much active band releases a solo effort it may seem a bit strange. A listener might wonder what the purpose for this could be, especially if the artist is the primary songwriter of the group as with Ian Anderson in Jethro Tull or Mike Scott, who basically is the only remaining member of The Waterboys.
The Levellers of the other hand is more of a songwriting collective and putting forth a solo album might be the only way for a member of such a band to showcase once individual style as an artist.
Moment is Chadwick’s second effort after his 2010 debut All the Pieces. That album was quite a deviation from The Levellers’ catalog with its closest kin being Truth & Lies and Hello Pig, but also not a very impressive showing from Chadwick. The tracks were similar in structure and composition as well as lyrically stunted and a as a concept rather dull. This doesn’t make for a very good base to jump off from for Moment.
This past Record Store Day Chadwick chose to release a single from the upcoming album, a seven inch version of Red Sky. When Satellite was dropped online in 2010 it seemed like it would set a good tone for the coming album, but alas it didn’t. Red Sky gives very much the same impression, but to the joy of the listeners Moment fulfills the promises the single makes.
All the Pieces was disjointed and at times confusing lyrically without a clear agenda to them Moment is the counterpart. One gets the feeling that Chadwick has put a bit more effort into his solo songwriting or at least decided what he is going to write about. Previously the songs have lacked personality and recognition, whereas Moment if filled with relatable topics and an honesty that strikes dead center at the heart.
Each track on the album has its own story, a tale within itself, about people. This is what makes these songs more approachable and interesting. One gets the feeling that it is all set in or around some dive bar where people come and go, but their stories remain, as if Chadwick has witnessed them first hand. All the Pieces felt as if it was set in a fairground or carnival with everything that entails, but only to a certain extent.
It is also nice that it doesn’t become a Levellers- esque album, but that he makes it his own with a more rootsy folk sound rather than the Clash -punk -folk that the band is known for.
Moment is as a whole a well done deviation for Chadwick and shows that he has the ability to put something out that is worth while without the rest of The Levellers. It works on many levels, as one unity or each song telling its own tale. Unfortunately this album probably won’t make mainstream play, though it should because Mark Chadwick has made a great album.
Best Track: Frequency
At a first listen the album Kairos by Sam Brookes can come across as quite dull, especially if one is listening to it halfheartedly through a streaming service. The way to get the full experience is to put it through your stereo or via earbuds. This is when the full scope of Brookes musical range and the depth of the production really becomes evident.
Without a record label behind him Brookes has chosen to release this album on his own through the support of his fans and this may well be his breakthrough into the main stream, he has already been highlighted in Uncut. There is also little doubt that he will find great success out there. He may very well be the next Ryan Adams or to a lesser extent a more successful Shawn Mullins.
Brookes’ music and lyrics are mature and heartfelt; it transports the listener to another place or plane. A dark and ambient wilderness where man and nature battle for control except man may never win since nature in this place is a reflection of the inner being of him. There is sense of storytelling, just not on a lyrical level, it’s the music and feeling one gets from the production that tells the tale.
The music is a blend of soft folk with a tinge of roots, it is quite obvious that Brookes is influenced by the darker side of both these genres and the blending turns it into something that is truly his own. It feels as if T-bone Burnett himself produced this album for the TV show True Detective, it would fit very well, slow moving, deep and filled with sorrow and broken people.
Before you decide to listen to Kairos, make sure you have the time to sit down, put the earbuds in and really listen. You will be glad you did.
Lazuli-Tant que l’herbe est grasse
Genre: Progressive World Music
Label: L’abeille rôde
Best Track: Tristes Moités
When one thinks of progressive rock France might not be the first country that comes to mind. World music might be more closely connected to the heirs of Charlemagne. That is not to say that progressive rock is an anomaly amongst the French, acts like Marillion, Gazpacho and Fish remain popular, the latter is even a guest vocalist on this album.
The strength when it comes to progressive rock is that the music itself is the main focus and this is where Lazuli really shines. They sing in French and yet, as this may seem as a downside when it comes to international appeal, the language lends itself well to the genre.
Lazuli takes the style of progressive rock and expertly blends it with the dimensions of world music, while also giving it a mystic and dark edge reminiscent of a darker version of Woodland. The band immerses itself in the mysticism of world music as the artwork of their album and images on the homepage would indicate, maybe giving a false idea of the band’s sound. The imagery gives an air of more advanced musicality than they actually possess.
Lazuli fit well into the growing pantheon of progressive rock and they take it in a different direction than many other bands. If one enjoys the introductory folksy tunes of Opeth’s Heritage or the lilting piano playing of Coheed and Cambria’s intros, then these french garçons are definitely a treat. The production is clean and the sound soothing, the lead vocalist’s voice is nicely in harmony with the music, the lyrics are a mystery to anyone not fluent in french, but those in the know claim that they are filled with wordplay and puns.
Lazuli takes the listener on an exciting and mystical journey, a world close to our own, the magic woods or the misty fields outside our window on a spring morning. They have taken the magic of nature and translated it inot music. It’s a wondrous and seductive journey that you might not want to leave.