Fiona Stephens

The Plot In You – Dispose

Dispose, the fourth studio album from The Plot In You is due for release tomorrow (16th February), and will be the first album to be released since the Ohions signed to Fearless Records.

There is a slow introduction into the album with first track Rigged, which is very minimalistic. Drum effects make up a large portion of the track, with guitar and other sound effects being used to round out the sound rather than detract from the overall simplicity of the track. It sounds very different to other metalcore material out there, which is a welcome and refreshing change for the genre. This slow theme is echoed again later in the album in I Always Wanted To Leave and The Sound. The stripped back simplicity of Rigged is echoed again in the first half of the final track, Disposable Fix.

Included in Dispose is latest single Not Just Breathing, which according to vocalist Landon Tewers, is about breaking off from a toxic relationship in your life. The subject matter spreads throughout the album, and is something a lot of fans will probably have experience with.

“Not Just Breathing is about cutting ties with someone who is dead weight in your life and dragging you down, always hoping for the best for that person but coming to terms with the fact that you need to move on with your life in a separate direction from them.”

Influences from other metalcore artists are at play within Dispose, for example One Last Time sounds similar to some material by The Amity Affliction, not only in the overall sound but also in the lyrical content. The title of the track is self explanatory, perfectly capturing that feeling of “one last time” with an ex partner.

Feel Nothing was the first single The Plot In You released via Fearless Records last summer. This track sounds more like mainstream metalcore singles from groups like While She Sleeps and Crown The EmpireDispose was actually produced by the Drew Fulk, who has previously produced Crown The Empire.

Later in the album there is a shift in genre slightly, starting with The One You Loved. This track sounds more like old school alternative bands like Taking Back Sunday and Angels And Airwaves. The track is catchy and still retains the The Plot In You sound. The track explores things that go wrong near the end of relationships, asking ‘what happened to the one I love?’ and ‘is there someone else?’ 

The first track that uses clean guitars is the penultimate track, The Sound. It’s clear to the listener that this track represents the very end of the toxic relationship, the lyrics claiming ‘I can’t take the sound’. Tewer’s voice sounds raw and cracked, clearly showing a lot of emotion. There is a surprise instrumental section of backing vocals interwoven with a saxophone.

The second half of the album is much more varied in terms of genre and emotion, and is much more enjoyable to listen to. Paid In Full is a particularly angry song that would get a crowd pumped in a live gig, and The Sound would be a track for fans to light their torches to. The final third of Disposable Fix, which is really where the song gets going, would also be a crowd pleaser and probably also an encore song.

 

Bearings Release New Video For ‘Letters Home’

Also preparing for their tour with Less Than Jake and Four Year Strong, Canadian pop-punk group Bearings have released a new video for their single Letters Home.

I think everyone has a special place in their heart for that childhood home they grew up in and the memories it holds. I still think about it all the time.” – Vocalist Doug Cousins to Alternative Press

Bearings latest EP is titled Nothing Here Is Permanent and is out now.

 

Four Year Strong Release Video For ‘Nice To Know’

Gearing up for their North American tour with Less Than JakeFour Year Strong have dropped a new video for latest track Nice To Know.

“Making this video was a lot of fun. From the very first phone call we had with director Cory Santilli we knew we were in good hands. We wanted the video to be weird and uncomfortable, to paint the song a different color than you might have pictured when you first heard it. Cory gave us this idea and we loved it. Being on the shoot and dressing up in weird costumes has always been an FYS favorite (and least favorite) pastime.” – Alan Day, guitarist

You can catch the group at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival on the following dates:

Saturday 26th May – Leeds City Centre
Sunday 27th May – Hatfield Park
Monday 28th May – NEC Birmingham

Shanghai Blues Release New Single ‘Falls’

The first release from the East London group Shanghai Blues in 2018 is Falls, which is available now on all good digital retailers.

In addition to the new single, Shanghai Blues have announced a few live dates with pop rockers Y.O.U.N.G

04/03/18 – Camden Assembly – London *
05/03/18 – Deaf Institute – Manchester *
11/04/18 – Hoxton SBK – London
27/05/18 – City Sound Project – Canterbury

* w/ Y.O.U.N.G

The Spook School – Could It Be Different?

Could It Be Different? is the third album from Glasgwegian indie group The Spook School, and is due for release on 26th January via Alcopop! Records. Opening with the catchy new single Still Alive, the album promises to be a cheerful hit.

“‘Still Alive’ is about no longer being in an abusive relationship. My tendency was to blame myself for not seeing the signs or leaving sooner which wasn’t helpful or fair, so I wrote this song to try and force myself out of that mind-set. In a way it’s a pretty angry song, with that anger being directed at people that carry out abusive behaviours towards others. I think there’s a kind of pride in it as well though, recognition that you had the strength to get through a shitty situation and to do what you needed to do, and that you don’t need to feel shame.” – Vocalist Nye Todd

The chorus in particular, with the repetitive lyrics of ‘Fuck you I’m still alive’ will draw listeners in, regardless of the deeper meaning behind the words.

Following Still Alive is Best Of Intentions, another upbeat cheerful track with a catchy riff. The listener is reminded heavily of cheerful rock bands such as Buzzcocks. Directly contrasting with Best Of Intentions is the following track, Less Than Perfect, which is the first track with female vocalist and bassist Anna Cory leading the main vocals. The guitars use different effects and sound more modern and distinct in the mix than some of the analogue sounding overdrive effects on the first two tracks, which of course are deliberately used for this effect.

The first slower track comes in at the halfway point of the album, and is titled Bad Year. Despite the negative sounding title, the track is written in a major key, and reverts back to the cheerful overdrive effects used in Best Of IntentionsBad Year leads into Alright quite nicely, although both songs are a little bland. However the listener is soon startled with the energetic introduction of I Only Dance When I Want To, which has a similar feel to it as Still Alive. This song is again led by Cory, and has a Letters To Cleo feel to it.

Body is a track that will strike a familiar chord with a lot of listeners who suffer with body image issues, and is a particularly therepeutic song for vocalist Todd, who is transgender. This will be partially the reason that The Spook School appeal to a large portion of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as their hopeful and upbeat music.

The final track, High School, is another slow track, sending the listener back to their own school days, perfectly capturing the feeling of nostalgia and ‘what if’. However the track never really builds up to anything, the vocals fading out and the instruments being brought into the mix more prominently before the final fade out, which is a disappointing ending to an album that inspires hopeful feelings in the listener.

Throughout Could It Be Different? the two vocalists always find a good balance without overpowering each other. Where one takes the lead in a song, the other provides a solid backing line of harmonies that add a nice touch to the songs without detracting from the main focus. Each track is relatively short (under four minutes, some even under three minutes) and contain clear sections. Every track would have a place an American high school film set in the 90s such as 10 Things I Hate About You.

Crimson Star – Bay View [EP]

Birmingham based Crimson Star have been working hard this past summer and will be dropping their latest EP, Bay View, in January 2018.

The first track, The Pragmatist, immediately catches the listener’s attention with a catchy riff similar to Royal Blood, before backing off to a stripped back verse. The group sound much bigger than just three members, taking influences from other trios such as Muse, making full use of effects without going overboard.

They are described as similar to Queens Of The Stone Age, but they mix more indie and hard rock influences into their music. La Prom is very stripped back, more so than the verses of The Pragmatist, making full use of reverb effects to build space and suspense in the mix, particularly in the guitar solo. The vocalist’s style is reminiscent of Dave Grohl which is particularly noticable in La Prom.

Back to the Royal Blood influences in Once, this is one of the weaker tracks in terms of creativity. The guitar part is just a chord progression apart from the main riff, which only uses a few notes and bends, however it is great to see effects used really well on the bass, which a lot of bands don’t take full advantage of.

The opening riff for Euthanise Me immediately reminds the listener of Muse, particularly of some of the work from the latest album. The verse is again stripped back to drums, bass and vocals in a very indie style, and the chorus slips back into Foo Fighters style, similar to the other tracks on the EP. However the track does not need to be 5 minutes long.

Saving the best track for last, Gimme Some is clearly the most unique and creative track on Bay View, both in terms of musicality and lyrical content. The main riff differs to the chorus riff, however the solo is disappointing and short.

Considering that Crimson Star have been around since 2012, and have had plenty of time to hone and develop their sound, it is a little disappointing to hear them sound very similar to other acts in the alternative genre.

As December Falls – Live At Rescue Rooms

Nottingham legends As December Falls have recently released their first live album, recorded in their 450 capacity home town venue, which is their biggest headline show to date. The move of releasing a live album before a debut recorded album is an unusual one, however As December Falls frequently sell out venues and have performed all over the UK.

Opening to a cheering crowd with Everything You Say, the listener immediately notices the presence of vocal effects through the introduction. However in the recording, each instrument is balanced well within the mix, which is a difficult feat when capturing a live show, however at points there is very little mid range between the lead guitar line and the bass. There is rhythm guitar present, it’s just very quiet compared to the other instruments. However this appears to be sorted by the time Let Go crops up, and isn’t noticeable at all to the average listener.

Cross My Heart is immediately more upbeat than the previous track, however it doesn’t grab the listener’s attention when compared to Everything You Say. Here it becomes apparent that the actual lyrics are difficult to distinguish, however vocalist Bethany Curtis’ voice carries well across the live venue and is never out of tune. During this track the group interact with the audience, and the listener begins to miss having a visual image of the performance. However it is probably too premature in As December Fall‘s career for a DVD of a live performance.

As December Falls have cleverly grouped their tracks together, opening with their more upbeat tracks, before performing an edgier track in the middle of the album, starting with Keep Dreaming. The crowd are still pumped from the preceeding few tracks, and it audibly shows in the performance from the band. After Keep Dreaming is Royals, another upbeat track but quite toned down in tempo and genre when compared to the first few songs.

The first track using broken chords comes in during the latter part of the album. Thing I (Don’t) Want still makes use of the major key and fairly quick tempo, however the deceptive part is the arpeggiated theme, tricking the listener into thinking it will be a slower song.

It’s clear which songs are fan favourites, as notably Don’t Say A Word provides the best crowd reaction. Clearly the ambience of the venue has been mixed down so the band can actually be heard, and turned back up when appropriate. Other crowd pleasers are More To You and Capture.

The performance and the recording aren’t perfect – there are mic screeches present in places, for example. However these flaws provide a human experience for the listener, and it’s easy for them to imagine the actual performance. As December Falls provide a very real live album, and their decision to release a live album ahead of recording their debut studio album shows their confidence in their own performance. Additionally, they are not backed by a record label or management, making the fact that they’ve managed to record a live album of a sold out headline show even more incredible.

Small Pond Big Fish – Wicked Young, Wicked Old [EP]

London based Small Pond Big Fish immediately make an impression upon the listener in the very first track of their EP Wicked Young, Wicked Old. The EP opens with Parallels, which includes a catchy riff and draw the listener in before the vocals even hit. The lead vocalist’s powerful voice and the relateable lyrical content, particularly in the bridge (What has become of me?). The instrumental parts to the track include some well placed but brief drum breakdowns, however the guitar solo in this particular track is disappointingly average.

Hold On introduces a more pop punk feel, similar to the likes of A Day To Remember, however the vocals are much softer and the song sounds much cheerier than most pop punk content. Parts of this track sound disjointed as each section is different, and the only part of the song that flows for the entire four minutes are the vocals, which hold everything together.

Down The Rabbit Hole begins much the same way as Hold On, however each instrument has its own place in this track and can be clearly heard. At around the two minute mark a time change comes in for a few bars, which breaks up the song but isn’t really necessary. After a great opening track, the following two are very underwhelming.

Stranger Than is a slow track in 3/4 time, fully utilising the bass as an instrument that is capable of playing more than just root notes. The drums have their own short fills to introduce the next section of the track and make the use of pauses not to go too crazy, building the song up even more. The guitars aren’t too loud, fitting the genre of the song nicely.

The final track is Lungs, which uses reverb and delay in the introduction to build up space before the main riff hits. The verse returns to this theme again, using broken chords over strummed chords. The chorus sounds more cheerful than the verse or the instrumental parts suggest, piquing the listener’s curiosity.

Although each track is different, there are some overriding themes. The chorus vocals in each track are multitracked with harmonies from the lead singer, however to pull this off live either the band will have to perform backing vocals or effects will have to be used. The final two tracks flow better and appear to be better written and rehearsed than the first three. The middle two poorer tracks bring the whole tone of the EP down a little but overall, Wicked Young, Wicked Old shows that Small Pond Big Fish are capable of writing and performing in different styles and time signatures, it’s just a case of choosing where to use them.