A few more pieces of music that’ve made their way to me over the past two weeks that I wanted to feature. If you’d like to send anything for consideration there are a few ways to do so via my contact page.
No Tide – Daydream (EP) I’ve covered a few Take This To Heart Records releases on this site now, and I’ve said mainly good things about each of them. They’ve a knack for picking up extremely promising, young yet experienced artists and putting out their great music. Nebraska natives No Tide’s latest EP Daydream is set for release June 3rd and it offers five tracks and eleven minutes of indie-infused pop-punk packed with a charismatic energy and played with a sincere love for its content. The band play honest, heartfelt music and they’ve been described as a cross between The Story So Far and Saves The Day, which is fitting. The tracks that make up Daydream are short and memorable, pitting a youthful angst against adult musicianship, and despite being short the songs offer up a lot in terms of experimentation, and any fan of the genre will find plenty to enjoy. Daydream opens with shortest track Fire, which is a suitably low-key and packs in some solid lyrics, before Smoke Ring really kicks things off with dancing indie guitars and enthusiastic drumming as vocalist / guitarist Will Conner yells ‘I’m just another daydream / I’m nothing but a smoke ring / I’ll go where the wind takes me so be my wind inside my head / Be my sense of direction’ over clever instrumentation. It’s anthemic and following track Rose Tinted Glasses is just as good, if not better, serving up hook after hook alongside some heavier, weaving instrumentals. The drumming in the final minute is particularly good courtesy of Sean Murphy, although each member gives their all across the EP’s duration, and it shows in terms of quality. Only Alone 2 is similar to the two songs that precede it, upping the pace, whilst final track Where We Went Wrong (stream it here) is the EP’s best. It brings that familiar energy back and stretches it as the track fades to a drifting sprawl towards the end, finishing things on a mellow high after ten minutes or so of brilliant, slightly different pop-punk. Daydream is a stellar EP from four incredibly hardworking guys deserving of every bit of success they’ll likely receive as a result. Highly recommended. [8.5]
Select All Delete Save As – Ultra Cultura (Album) Following around three years after the band’s first record, Ultra Cultura is the second release from duo Terry Emm and Anthony Walker and it’s just as likely to confuse as it is to entertain, for a number of reasons. Select All Delete Save As conjure up interesting soundscapes that take influence from several styles and convey them well, and these backdrops are complemented on occasion by the great vocals of Rachael McVay, as is the case on the more explosive opening title track which coasts along, perking up as McVay soars. This opener is perhaps one of the more traditional features from the album, and from here it’s a varied bag that’s constantly creative and at times bizarre. Take second selection Human Error which is told from the perspective of a near suicidal robot, with the eventual suicide attempt ending on a trampoline after a few minutes of intertwining guitars and cruising drums. Normally you’d struggle to find a song as oddly engaging as this one, but Ultra Cultura manages to come close a few more times across its thirty minute length. Each track seems to differ from the one that precedes and follows it, with Archetypal Woman offering up a healthy amount of charged punk rock, whilst The Sun & His Sunglasses is a compelling stoner rap narrative that sounds like Mike Skinner reading a bedtime story. Ultra Cultura is a strange record, but that’s also where a lot of its charm comes from, and although it won’t be to everyone’s taste its impossible not to appreciate the creativity that bristles throughout. Its enticing blend of electronics, indie and DIY punk is commendable, and for a release that sounds jumbled there’s a cohesion to it that becomes more apparent with each listen. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but the mystery’s part of the appeal, making Ultra Cultura an enigma in the best way. 
Shellshock Lullaby – Shades Of Grey (EP) Shellshock Lullaby is the project of talented singer-songwriter Russ Nelson, and upcoming EP Shades Of Grey marks his third EP under the alias, and it’s a standard pop-punk release with a little extra. It’s also one that improves with each track, starting slightly average and ending on a high, discounting opener A Formal Introduction and closer Epilogue which are little more than filler, with the latter reminding me of the hidden track on Cute Is What We Aim For’s second record. The four tracks sandwiched in between do hark back to older pop-punk, including CIWWAF, and there’s a nostalgic feel to them that I haven’t quite been able to place. The first full track Shades Of Grey begins almost exactly how you’d expect, with punchy electric guitars giving way to a bouncing chorus which drops off to slightly repetitive guitars again and solid enough vocals. Nelson’s vocal style isn’t anything new but he uses it well, rising during the choruses to provide a few hooks, but at times he also sounds slightly uninspired, and there’s definitely some room for improvement. Despite the few drawbacks Shades Of Grey still has a lot to offer, and third track I’ve Walked That Road is much better, bringing in some chunkier instrumentation and a great chorus that pairs some intricate guitar work with climbing vocals. The Look In Your Eyes was my favourite track, and it’s guitars reminded me greatly of Casually Dressed… Funeral For A Friend, which is odd for a pop-punk record but worked surprisingly well, and there’s a technicality to the EP’s instrumentation that adds slightly more depth to Shades Of Grey, and this track definitely benefits, delivering a unique style of sorts. Lyrically the EP provides a similar sort of depth, and it’s pleasingly personal, as is the case on the acoustic The Way We Should Be, which is charming, albeit slightly clichéd as Nelson sings ‘I know I repeat myself too many times but finally it all came true/ And for once in my life I can see past tomorrow and I know I will be next to you.’ For a solo work Shades Of Grey is above average despite only a few standout tracks, and it’s one that grows on you a little more with each listen. Although it isn’t particularly ground-breaking, or entirely memorable it’s worth listening to, and is set for release May 1st. 
Whose Hearts Were His – Tongues Like Knives (Single) I haven’t featured much deathcore on this site (if any), and that’s mainly because I don’t listen to the genre anywhere near as much as I used to, and also because I struggle to write about it. There was a time when I’d listen to very little else but Between The Buried And Me, shortly after the release of Colors, but since then I’ve unknowingly distanced myself from the scene. Whose Hearts Were His, project of the multi-talented Gabe Fry, cite Between The Buried And Me as a likeness on their Facebook page, and tracks as good as Tongues Like Knives remind me why I listened to music of this nature in the first place. The Facebook page also describes Whose Hearts Were His’ music as ‘grit meets grace’ and this is a fair statement also, because there’s an underlying melody that contrasts the tracks brutal nature, and it should appeal to anyone who likes deathcore in general, and moreso to those who prefer a bit more depth, as crashing layers sit alongside sweeping guitars and guttural, roaring vocals that pack one hell of a punch. Tongues Like Knives is vicious, beginning so and remaining that way as Fry unleashes over crushing, technical instrumentation. Lyrically it’s nothing new, but provides some food for thought with the line ‘We are the product of sensations / We hear we feel we see and we reflect’. Taking into consideration the fact that everything you hear on Tongues Like Knives is the product of one man’s work it makes the track far more impressive, as Fry masters each aspect, and despite the mixing needing slightly more polish this is a track that leaves a listener wanting to hear more, which is quite the compliment coming from someone who’s gradually been hearing less. Tongues Like Knives is a solid introduction and taster of what’s to come, with Fry set to release the remainder of the record later in the year. [7.5]
Mathien – You’ve Made A Stone Outta Me (Single) I really, really liked this track, and just as I sat down to listen to it for the first time the clouds outside my window gave way to sun and this, along with the opening chord of You’ve Made A Stone Outta Me, immediately elicited a smile. There’s something incredible soothing about soulful music, and soulful music doesn’t come much better than this. You’ve Made A Stone Outta Me is a brilliant song which perhaps contrasts it’s pensive lyrical content, being written from the perspective of a man who’s jaded and tired, yet oddly optimistic. The song is a mix of each, and it put me at ease in a way that only music can. I found myself nodding along in time without even knowing it, as warm pianos swell alongside relaxing drums and intermittent piercing guitars, before a hook-filled chorus that you can’t help but get caught up in as it runs rings inside your head. The song stirred up images, and the track took me on a journey that I hadn’t anticipated myself being led on, and for that Mathien deserves a large amount of credit, because they’ve written a song full of life with a very cool, blissful feel to it. There’s a message here as well, told by subtle yet passionate vocals which perk up during the chorus, and a freestyle type second verse. I hadn’t heard of Mathien prior to their email, but I’ll definitely make an effort to soak in their discography whilst looking forward to Unique Man, which drops later this year and features You’ve Made A Stone Outta Me. You can download the track for free via Mathien’s Soundcloud page, and I couldn’t recommend it more.