Music Submissions 7: Lobby Boxer / Blind Mice / Daggers / Manian & The Monumentals / If This Is A Man

Lobby BoxerBlind Mice - ComedownDaggers - It's Not JazzManian & The Monumentals - Crime

Here are five more albums or EPs I received this week and wanted to write about. I finally got my act together enough to learn how to embed Bandcamp players so hopefully that makes it easier to listen to the music sent in, and sorry I’ve been using hyperlinks for the past year – my bad. If you haven’t been put off by my lack of know-how and would like to send anything for consideration there’s a few ways to do so through my contact page.

Lobby Boxer – S/T (EP) Lobby Boxer is the second EP from the American trio of the same name, and their self-titled EP features five tracks and twenty-five minutes of well constructed and well executed music falling somewhere between You Blew It! and Circa Survive. The Circa Survive element comes from the higher vocals of frontman Zach Fendelman and the ‘emo’ aspect of the band’s music comes from the technical and adventurous instrumentation he contributes to alongside drummer Max Sandza and bassist Andrew Gurney. The group dynamic that the three shares is evident on Cap’n Grown, and the songs that make up Lobby Boxer sound accomplished as a result of this dynamic, rising and falling elegantly to match the intended tone. Highlight The Truman Show begins with ninety seconds of clever instrumentation before Fendelman comes in with the line ‘You’re afraid / I get it‘ as the sounds around him climb and crash to match, keeping the technical element and upping the ante slightly, with the song eventually reaching a stunning crescendo around the mid-point only to drop off again as Fendelman grows more reflective, singing ‘I’m sorry I lost myself / I’m sorry I’m not much help / I apologise’ in a way that suggests he wholly means it. Lobby Boxer know how to write a great song and express themselves through it, and their EP is as rich in hooks as it is in heart, and each track shimmers with an honest intensity from each member – who’ve clearly given their all. At times the production lets the it all down slightly, with songs not always sounding as large as their potential, but there’s very little else to fault here. Third entry Headrush is every bit as dizzying as its title suggests, roaring along and occasionally relenting, whilst closer Fragile Girl is much more poignant, matching its title as well as the third track. It serves as an open letter of sorts expressing guilt, love and regret, and it ends the EP on an emotional high as cries of ‘I wasn’t there’ ring out. Lobby Boxer is brilliant, and with every track passing four minutes there’s a lot on offer. It’s currently ‘name your price’ on Bandcamp and it’s well worth a listen, as is the bands 2013 EP Teddy, which is also available to stream / download. [9]
FFO: The Fall Of Troy, Circa Survive, Anberlin

Blind Mice – Comedown (EP) A good amount of the songs on Comedown are about growing tired and getting some rest, but this is music that won’t send you to sleep.  After forming in 2013 the EP marks the band’s debut release, and it’s been out for a few months now and also seems fairly overlooked. That’s a shame, because Comedown is very good, borrowing from older bands like Weezer, and even name-dropping a few of them as anthemic opener Laugh Yourself Sick features the line ‘REM playing on the jukebox / that’s me in the corner / that’s me in the spotlight’ before a rousing chorus along the lines of Against Me!’s recent Black Me Out, inspiring the same sort of fist in the air comradery. Comedown isn’t necessarily a particularly adventurous release, often relying on simple song structures, but this is also where the bands biggest strength also comes into play. Blind Mice know how to write a song, and it’s a quality they’ve mastered on their debut EP. Second track Spectator is fairly gentle, cruising during the verses before picking up during a hook-filled chorus which is sublimely executed, and as a whole the seven tracks that make up Comedown are fairly straightforward, and you’ve likely heard similar songs numerous times, but that doesn’t neutralise the charm that the EP carries. Step On My Neck bounces along, and it’s one of the more aggressive tracks the EP features, whilst Shame is another well penned, angsty rock song which will go down extremely well in a live setting, sounding slightly reminiscent of Green Day. Comedown finishes with Joke, which was my favourite track, ending the EP on a more melodic and subdued note. The song still carries that same spirit but it’s honed and channelled, bringing in drifting guitar melodies alongside relaxed drums and crooning vocals, again perking up as Ross Nunes’ vocals climb. Comedown is 22 minutes of solid rock from a band who sound very confident considering their limited discography, and you can stream it through Bandcamp below. [8]
FFO: Jimmy Eat World, Traditions, Captain We’re Sinking

Daggers – It’s Not Jazz, It’s Blues (Album) I’ve covered a few Belgian hardcore bands over the last few months (Old Ivy, Depths) and Daggers once again show that the countries scene is thriving. It’s Not Jazz, It’s Blues is neither jazz nor blues (although it does take elements of both) but instead it’s a charged and electric hardcore record that does things ever so slightly differently. It’s a dark and churning mass which shows glimpses of light through brief instrumental reprisals and the use of the untraditional instrument. Daggers play an interesting take on hardcore which is still gritty and heavy but has a substantial amount of depth to it. Take opener Apex, which begins with gentle accordions before erupting into black, sludgy noise. Think Fucked Up’s Son The Father with buckets of added aggression. Harsh, guttural vocals sit atop crushing instrumentation in trademark hardcore fashion, and with songs often falling shy of two minutes It’s Not Jazz, It’s Blue offers up short slabs of swirling, snarling sound. The longer Evermore is absolutely savage once it starts biting, and the even longer, expansive Sovereign is much more technical and encompassing, slowly pushing outwards, allowing for a more experimental and brooding approach, throwing in some spoken word segments for good measure. Taken as a whole It’s Not Jazz, It’s Blues is quite the experience, sucking you in and holding you there, forcing your head under pitch black waters and drowning you in bleak ambience and bludgeoning rhythm sections, and it’s far more enjoyable than that perhaps makes it sound. [8]
FFO: Weekend Nachos, Capsize, early Gallows

Manian & The Monumentals – The Crime And The Season (EP) The debut EP from Manian & The Monumentals is one which sounds much more self-assured than a debut perhaps should. The brainchild of vocalist Manian Van Hacker, Manian & The Monumentals are a Pennsylvania based indie-rock band who draw influence from a few genres and put them to good use. Van Hacker’s distinctive vocals help set his band’s music apart, and his delivery is powerful and grandiose, suitably cinematic yet also quite smoky and seductive. It’s a very strange comparison to make, but if you’ve watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S through as often as I have you might be reminded of Chandler’s Dad and his drag act in the episode where Chandler invites him to the wedding. Perhaps Chris Cornell would be a better comparison, but I promise that neither is a criticism. Van Hacker’s vocals are always impressive and sit well over The Monumentals’ backing, which is just as impressive, bringing in guitar solos on Bipolar Rendezvous and providing jaunty, smart stylings on following track Sleep Creeping Danger, which coasts along, almost as a ballroom number. You can picture people moving to The Crime And The Season, and there’s a clear appeal to it that’s probably slightly lost on someone like myself who wouldn’t normally listen to a release as slick as this one. Towering opener Stay With Me Tonight is a firm highlight, packing in a truly huge chorus and some cruising verses over claps and perking guitars. Closer Long Way Home doesn’t differ too much, but again it delivers, featuring some fitting backing vocals as Van Hacker croons over the finish line. It might not be to everyone’s taste, and it’s an EP I probably won’t return to often, but that’s down more to my personal preference than the EP’s quality, which is of a generally high standard. Fans of polished, stadium sized indie will likely find plenty to love on The Crime And The Season and should look forward to future offerings, with the band well on the right track here. [7]
FFO: Editors, Cold War Kids, Dog Is Dead, early The Maccabees

If This Is A Man – Vemod (Album) If This Is A Man is the solo-project of Jon White, and his second record Vemod showcases a highly commendable DIY attitude through nine tracks of drifting atmospherics and haunting, faded vocals. Vemod is an incredibly delicate piece of music, rich with textured ambience, and it’s a record aimed to lull as tranquil tones and dense yet subtle soundscapes coast from start to finish. This is a record to fall asleep listening to, or one to listen to after a long day, taking the weight off using music. Chances are you won’t be moving your feet to If This Is A Man, and it’s likely that once you’re down you’ll stay down, floating in and out of Vemod. Space age vocals often accompany calming acoustic guitars and relaxed drums, and it all comes together in a sobering and soft blend of noise which is easy to soak in. Opener Start Again is absorbing as it unfurls, and Snow conjures up a wintery feel which is nowhere near as cold, whilst Cinematic Ending again matches its name, stirring up vivid plateaus as White’s vocals dance in and out of clarity. With a few songs passing the four-minute mark occasionally Vemod allows itself to drift too much, and that’d be my main criticism of the release. At times it stretches too far, with songs not always featuring enough to really fill their length. Granted, that is sort of the point of Vemod – it’s meant to gently unravel and take a listener on a journey, but sometimes it holds them for too long if that makes sense. That being said, if you’re looking a record to relax to you’ll find very few that cater to that need as well as Vemod does. [6]
FFO: Sigur Ros, Bon Iver, City & Colour, Lie-ins and lazy afternoons

 

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