Some Girls – All My Friends Are Going Death
It’s fast, it’s loud, the songs are short, and therefore the album is too. I’m not really on top of the hard/grindcore scene – I leave that to my brother Evan, who passed this record on to me – so the nuances escape me. I actually like it OK – I’m getting more and more into harder and more extreme music these days. It’s so impressive how bands like Some Girls can start and stop on a dime, shifting gears mid-song. The composition is equally impressive: It can’t be easy to cram a ton of ideas into songs that barely last a minute, but Some Girls do. There’s very little repetition. And the singer is Wes Eisold, now of electro-gloom rockers Cold Cave – he’s disowned the hardcore scene! The singing actually reminds me of Blood Brothers at points, but the vocals are way murkier and stand out less. I could definitely see myself listening to this in a pinch, when I have a hankerin’ for some hardcore.
(self released, 2006)
It’s all rockets from the get-go, like sweet engines. …Wait, I wrote that already.
I know The Thrives, I went to college with David Kemper and John Bolling. I wrote the short bio that used to grace their myspace page from which the “all rockets” line was taken (they’ve wisely updated it since this EP’s been out for a while now). And yep – they titled the EP after my brainstorm. No big deal. But it’s hard for me to separate the EP from the band’s live performances, which are always high-energy affairs. And that’s why I tend to struggle as my fondness for the live performances clouds my judgment a bit on the tracks. Overall the whole thing’s got a great feel – Kemper’s love for Superdrag and power pop in general are right at the surface, and the energy is palpable. “Fall Right Down” and “I’ll Be the One” are classic high-powered Thrives, barre chords and snaky bass and pounding rhythm. “Jewel” takes a bit to get going, but once it’s there it really works. The only song on here I don’t dig so much is “Reality” – I don’t like the chord progression, and while that’s personal choice, this one lacks that certain something. . . . It, however, is less than three minutes long, and the shortest song on here. Which is my other minor bone to pick – the songs are a bit too long. Kemper and Bolling’s love of jam bands comes through a bit too much – most songs are in the four to five-minute range. Brevity works for The Thrives: a high-energy, fast-paced, get in/get out strategy should be their forte. But the EP as a whole is very well done, and as the band’s recorded debut it shows great promise. See them live! They’re worth it.
(Filthy Little Angels, 2007)
This was a find. It’s a tiny little EP, just three songs long, but they’re all fantastic. The Black Kites’ male and female singers trade off vocals, each singing on all three songs. Think duets between Thurston Moore (when he hits his notes) and Tanya Donnelly and you’ve got it. The sound of the record itself is a great mix between Belly and Poster Children, and mix in a little Mean Red Spiders and there you go. “All Wrong” starts it off just right in that vein, and I’d throw it on any mixtape. “Glass Parade” has a great, soaring chorus, well composed, swirling guitar bursting the track at the seams. It doesn’t even feel long at over six minutes, with a chiming instrumental denoument bringing us down nicely. And closer “Sadie” typifies the indie ennui of the 1990s indie rock scenes the band emulates, beginning “I can’t focus the lens. / Do you love me? Depends.” Twenty/thirtysomething angst at its shruggy best. And honestly, any one of these songs would fit in great on a mix – I only wish this was a full-length album rather than an EP so the high would last longer.
I’m pretty much a U2 apologist, for a lot of stuff. Their 1980s output is great (Joshua Tree is my favorite), and I like most things from the 1990s. I know the band is, as they say, “bigger than life,” too famous for their own good perhaps, and they’re going to get a lot of shit regardless of their intentions or the quality of their music (which, honestly, has regressed in the past few years). They have a huge coffee table book, for crying out loud (and yes, I own it – it was like five bucks, what do you want?). So I can get behind Bono’s holier-than-thou forays into social and political action, but I can see why his general personality rubs some the wrong way. We could go on and on, but this is a “quick take,” and the subject has been beaten to death. This is the album with “Beautiful Day” – everybody knows that one, and it really is a great song. And even schmaltzy stuff like “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” “Walk On,” and “Wild Honey” works. It’s U2, right, they can get away with that, can’t they? They sell out arenas. It’s no big deal. I love the music for “Elevation” but the lyrics are idiotic – but not so much that I can’t ignore them. But from “Peace on Earth” to the end of the album – what a drag. It really is a slog to get through. It’s got the only two tracks over 5 minutes, one at 4:48, and the other just over 4. And they’re all boring. Snoozeville. Can you say “frontloaded album”? Skip the last few songs, and you’re good to go.
(Fueled By Ramen, 2005)
Like a female-fronted My Chemical Romance. Straight up mall punk. Which isn’t necessarily all bad. The songs are short enough, and the tempos fast enough that if this came up on shuffle I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Honestly, it’s fine. I’ve got nothing really good or bad to say about this. I probably won’t ever listen to it again. Oh, and their name sucks.