EP Review: Flicker Rate – Skylight

Flicker Rate Skylight
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17-year-old Spencer Bassett, a clearly talented guitarist and songwriter has released three EPs under the moniker Flicker Rate. Released in April 2018, Skylight EP is a non-stop showcase of clean jangly guitar work.

From the outset, my mind went to the musical DNA shared by bands like This Town Needs Guns and Long Island Sound. There is an almost jovial quality to the guitar parts as the melodies bounce along, in the same way that the pizzicato strings convey a similar emotion in Holiday for Strings by David Rose and his Orchestra (1942).

The musicianship is excellent with the production keeping the listeners focus where it should be. Elements fade in and out of focus thanks to the mix and that fills the void where one usually is expectant of vocals, but in this instance, the instrumentation does an excellent of carrying the songs. The songs, well paced, are over before the ideas become stale. In fact, the whole EP is over before you know it.

Well worth listening to if you like the instrumental math rock style or are in the mood for some light and cheery relaxation music.

Short and sweet.


Flicker Rate links:

Bandcamp: https://flickerrate.bandcamp.com/album/skylight-ep

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/flickerrate/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/flickerrate/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flickerratemusic/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnKvPbjUogHvNR6MHBkZAnA

This review was originally posted by Murray Stace at his site Relative Silence

Buried Treasure: Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime

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Drive Like Jehu is violence.  Their music more like a punch in the nose than orchestrated chords and rhythm. The guitars shriek and twist like exposed rebar after a post-apocalyptic nuclear rain.  The drums and bass repeatedly drive their gnarled fists into your chest with savage brutality.  The vocals slash and scream across all the bedlam like a feral animal with an unquenchable thirst for blood.

In the annals of post-hardcore Drive Like Jehu have an almost divine status.  They’ve managed to influence everything from Tacoma based metal band Botch to Modest Mouse.

Yank Crime was released in 1994.  It wasn’t soon after the records release that Drive Like Jehu broke up. This sudden departure and the member’s post-Jehu projects helped gain the band an almost cult like status.  What D.C. had started with the post-hardcore movement Drive Like Jehu perfected.  The post-hardcore sound of D.C. would eventually grow and gain influence during it’s pre-internet crawl across America.  One of these places was Jehu’s home city of San Diego where bands started adopting what would be called the “San Diego Sound”.

Nestled within all the chaos of every track on Yank Crime there is always a hint of calculation. With Yank Crime there is a Point A and Point B, but the band is going to make sure you reach the end of your violent journey with a bloodied nose and two black eyes.  Jarring and discordant guitar riffs crunch their ways back and forth like two pugilists in a ring. Mark Trombino’s drums sound off like a gunfight in an abandoned Southwestern ghost town.  The bass drives it all home with pulsing and thrashing noise keeping the rhythm from tottering over the edge into oblivion.

I ran into Drive Like Jehu on accident.  A guy working the counter (who would later play bass for alcohol infused rock band Planes Mistaken for Stars) at my local record store recommended them when I told him I was getting tired of The Get Up Kids.  I was instantly hooked and would soon go on a campaign to ravage any band of their ilk.  Unfortunately for me Drive Like Jehu had already been broken up for two years at the time, but this only aided in my appreciation for what the band did for a lot of music in the Midwest where I was from.

Drive Like Jehu reunited for some reunion shows from 2014 to 2016.  They’ve got on in age but haven’t lost a step.  They still fucking slay and haven’t lost any of the energy that made them such an important band.

The band only has two releases and usually I would wail at the injustice that such an important band has so little material.  That being said, both of their records are so indelibly important to so many bands you may listen to today that any more releases than the two they have would almost be too much.

Lost Between The Sound: An Interview With P.O.D’s Marcos Curiel

POD 2018 NZ Tour Poster
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Marcos Curiel has lots to be grateful for. He’s the founding guitarist of P.O.D (Payable On Death), the San Diego nu-metal crew formed in 1992 who boast three Grammy nominations and over 12 million record sales. He strikes me as modest, downplaying his achievements and humbly attributing any success he’s had to his fans and “the beauty of music”.

When I ask him about the longevity of his band, he deflects the focus away from the band and towards his fans.

We are very gracious and thankful for this and to fans that are so loyal. Whether in South America, Europe, here in the states or even Australia or New Zealand. People still come up see us doing our thing and we are still riding that wave until that wave stops.”

But he’s also quick to credit his band members and crew for P.O.D’s success as well.

“I think a lot of it comes from our upbringing – having the same sort of background – basically coming from nothing. And just aspiring to want to play music for people and just doing it, acting out on it and building a following. We were independent before we signed to a major label and kept saying that there was an audience there for what we were doing. It encouraged us to continue to do it and encourages us to keep doing it today even though we are 25, 26 years deep. 

“We are definitely a second family on the road. We were basically teenagers when we started jamming together. Now we are full on grown men with kids and families of our own. P.O.D is our second family, you know what I mean? We’re probably together more as a band then we are with our own family sometimes. You know, we travel the world together. We are in an airplane, we’re in a bus… we are always travelling together as a band and with our crew”

Curiel is also a fan of New Zealand, having come several times in the past decade. Last time they co-headlined with NZ act Rapture Ruckus. Before that they’ve toured with Disturbed and played Edgefest. He begins the interview just gushing about our country.

“Given the opportunity, if I had to leave the states and go somewhere else to live and I always say New Zealand. . . Maybe I could even retire there.”

In recent years P.O.D have tried new directions, putting out an acoustic record (SoCal Sessions, 2014), and a concept album (The Awakening, 2015). I ask if the latest single, “Soundboy Killa” will be part of any upcoming album and Curiel admits that he isn’t sure at this stage.

“Well that is kind of a transitional single kind of thing  We put that kind of to let our fanbase know that hey we’re working on new music, we’re still here – you know what I mean? I don’t even know if that’s going to make the record. Some people are like ‘That should go on the record!’, and we’re like ‘well… you never know…’ We’ll figure it out.

“Actually, we just signed a new deal with Mascot Labels. And they’ve taken us on, and hopefully releasing the new album in the summertime here in the States. We’re currently writing and working on pre-production which started in November. We were in the studio last week and we’re working through December, but we’re taking time off for holidays and we’re going to jump back in in January and head on tour here in the States. And jump back in and hopefully record that record in March and drop it in the summer.

“It’s been pretty cool, because we usually get one producer to do the whole record and on this album we’re working with different producers and different production crews. We’re working with HEAVY – they’ve done stuff with Sublime, The Dirty Heads. .. Just a bunch of different artists. And we’re working with Cameron Webb – he’s produced NOFX, Pennywise, Motorhead… He’s actually the producer of Soundboy Killer.

“We’re just trying different things, man. We’re at a stage in our career that we don’t really have to go out and say ‘hey, look at us, we’re a band.’ You know who we are and you either like us or you don’t. We have freedom to be able to experiment and do what we want, how we want to do it. Which, quite frankly, is pretty awesome.”

One interesting fact about P.O.D that draws attention is that they collaborated with the then-unknown Katy Perry for their song “Goodbye For Now” back in 2005. This remains a seemingly hot piece of trivia, despite the fact that the band have also collaborated with many other artists from acts like In This Moment, Suicidal Tendencies and Bad Brains.

Curiel wasn’t part of the band during that period, so never actually met her. He tells me what he knows about the collaboration though.

“They were working with Glen Ballard for Testify and she was one of his protegés – so to speak – that he was trying to get up and get out there in the scene. She was always hanging around the studio and wanted to go on a track. The guys became friends with her and she actually performed on the song on The Jay Leno Show, I believe. That’s how that all came to be. She will occasionally tweets about the band, tweet out how much she loves ‘Alive’ and certain songs. That’s pretty cool.”

POD are known as a Christian band, which earns them flack from both atheists and churches. In my experience, non-believers are often quick to condemn anyone of faith. And many conservative churches dismiss POD because of the company they choose to keep, playing along the likes of Marylin Manson and at metal festivals such as Ozzfest.

Marcos virtually scoffs when I ask him about this.  “Do you know what’s crazy about that? I call it scenester stuff,” he explains, “I know vegans who are in hardcore bands, and I’m like, so what… you’re only gong to play with hardcore vegan bands? No, they’re playing with all different types of bands – you know what I’m saying?

I understand, I explain, my friends in Declaration AD used to get similar criticism. People would question their motives, asking things like “Why would a band of Christians choose to play alongside death metal bands? This strikes a chord with Curiel. He proceeds to explain that he tries to write music for all walks of life, not just Christians.

Christian people maybe want to hold themselves to be the poster children, but that’s not what we’re called to do. We want to write music that inspires everybody. And so we took an approach that we’ll play most of the shows, because we want to play for everybody.

“But as far as being caught in the middle – we don’t look at it like that. We are a band of faith. Definitely we have our personal beliefs. We try to write music that connects with multiple cultures and different types of people.

“I think that’s the beautiful thing about being an artist. There’s people who are gonna understand your art, and some that won’t. The thing is, we’ve never really tried to become, at an early age we were a little more – so to speak – old in the faith. We never knew there was metal, or punk rock or any kind of scene that was a Christian scene. The band that we referred to as a major influence was U2. We’ve always look at them as inspiration. They had Christian roots and have written songs that are very conscient of humanity, or being positive in general, and we’re taken that approach – obviously playing a different style of music.

“And when we went to Singapore we found ourselves playing in front of Muslims. And they were singing ‘Alive’! And we were like ‘What the heck!’, we were tripping out at it. But at the same time, that’s the beautiful thing about music – it’s universal.

“What we get our inspiration and a lot of our confidence. First of all, it comes from that Chrstian faith, but we don’t go out and say ‘Hey, we’re this and that’s who we are.’ We’re just a rock band, man, that wants to inspire . We have our struggles and try to write songs about those struggles and we try to encourage all walks of life.

“The Beastie Boys, towards the end of their career they all about Free Tibet, and Jay was a Buddist, and they were playing with everybody, from Pearl Jam to Jane’s Addiction.

“You know how it is. Music should be universal. People have certain beliefs that drive their music, and that just happens to be ours.”

POD

I feel that the way he concludes the interview is incredibly indicative of his character: positive and humble.

“We’re excited to get down there. We love your country and everything about the culture – the energy – and we cant wait to get down there and perform. Bring some Southern California vibes down there!”


P.O.D Australia/ NZ Tour Dates

Saturday 14 April          Auckland The Studio

Sunday 15 April            Wellington San Fran

Buy tickets for New Zealand: https://metropolistouring.com/pod-nz/

Tuesday 17 April          Melbourne 170 Russell

Wednesday 18 April     Adelaide The Gov

Friday 20 April              Sydney Factory Theatre

Saturday 21 April         Brisbane Eatons Hill Hotel

Sunday 22 April           Gold Coast Coolangatta Hotel

Buy tickets for Australia: https://metropolistouring.com/pod/

P.O.D links:

Website: http://www.payableondeath.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/POD/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/POD

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/POD/

Buried Treasure: The Nerines – Owls

The Nerines Candle Claps
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Buried Treasure is a semi-regular feature that explores some hidden musical gems – the rare and forgotten B-sides, covers, hidden tracks, live versions and alternative takes that deserve some recognition.

I don’t remember how I first heard of The Nerines. They were from Palmy, and fit within a punk/indie scene. I saw them once playing an opening slot for Title Fight and it was super fun.

They got overshadowed when one of their members, Benny Tipene, entered on of those singing shows. Idol or X Factor or something like that… I was a fan of Benny’s and loved his folky solo work. He had a few lo-fi demo EPs up on bandcamp and they were great. He came to Wellington once to play at Mighty, Mighty, but I missed it because I had work that night. That was pre-fame days.

He ended up in the finals of the singing show, and although he didn’t win, the boosted profile did wonders for his music career. That’s the way it is in New Zealand – once you’ve been on television you’re bonafide celebrity until the wind changes. One of the pop anthems he wrote soundtracked Coca-Cola’s ad campaign that summer. I don’t begrudge him for his success, but I wish I had been able to see him play a small folk show before he blew up.

Anyway, back to The Nerines. They’re great. This song, “Owls” is my fave, due largely to the fun singalong outro.

It’s a fun tune. Strong bass lines that really stand out, bouncy drums, jangly guitars – these guys know how to play! A stop/start pre-chorus makes the chorus sound full of life and energy by comparison. And then it all cuts out.

Cue palm-muted strumming. The chant starts: “Everything looks shit in the sewer”. Talk about articulate! It just builds up and up and up – throbbing bass, then drums, than layered vocals, and soon enough the whole world is having a party. It’s so fun and you can’t help but shout along about how everything is shit but there’s no way you can actually mean it because you’re just caught up in the moment and life is so fun and this song is great and oh my, I’m out of breath, but what a ride!

 


The Nerines links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheNerines/

Bandcamp: https://thenerines.bandcamp.com/

 

Joseph James

Album Review: Man Mountain – Infinity Mirror

Man Mountain Infinity Mirror cover
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Last year I spent two weeks on the road with Ranges, touring across America with them as they promoted their latest record, climaxing with the inaugural dunk!USA festival in Vermont. They teamed up with a few other acts along the way, playing multiple dates with: Tides of Man, Vexes, This Patch of Sky and Man Mountain.

I’ll forgive you if you weren’t familiar with Man Mountain before now. It is hard to maintain a presence with only four recorded songs out (The 2013 EP, To Call Each Thing By Its Right Name, and 2015 single “To Be Made As New’). I have a feeling that this début album, Infinity Mirror (Spartan Records) will change this, and earn Man Mountain deserved awareness within the scene.

Man Mountain David in Columbus

As I mentioned, I’ve spent a bit of time with the band. Man Mountain shared a four dates with Ranges on tour, and we all hung out over dunk!festival weekend, so I came to befriend them all. I remember standing outside a venue one night after the show, and Bryan shared with me about how Lowercase Noises influenced him to start playing ambient guitar music, which led to him joining the band. It’s a big effort because he needs to travel a long way to attend band practice, but is totally worth it because his friends in the band are awesome. And he totally has a point – they’re all genuine, down-to-earth guys who all share a love for the film Face/Off. Plus Mike has one of the greatest beards I’ve ever laid eyes on – who wouldn’t want to be in a band with a man that facially talented?

And their music is great too. Their playing casts a hypnotic spell. There are certainly a few videos floating around of me dancing along to the music, caught up in the immense magnitude of it all. It’s a shame that Man Mountain didn’t actually play dunk!fest, but they are more deserving of a slot on that festival than many of the bands who did play.

I love the DIY ethos that many American bands work by, the way that they create things for themselves. When Man Mountain played they would use flood lamps with foot switches to give visual oomph to the climactic passages of their music. It’s such a simple idea, and about as budget as it comes when you think of dynamic lighting rigs, but it packed such a punch. I can’t listen to their music without visualising that searing yellow beam.

Man Mountain Columbus

Something that stands out for me on this release is how well recorded it is. Mike Kalajian (Circa Survive, Prawn, Moving Mountains) mastered the album, and did an excellent job. By the sound of it, the recording process was somewhat experimental too, with the guys really taking their time to nail the sound. Things sound clear, crisp and articulate. I wish I had a copy of their vinyl record to hear the album in its full glory, but tell you what, it still sounds darn good just through middle-of-the-road headphones.

Jacob Goins just kills it on the drums. I already share a bond with him over our mutual love for Into It. Over It., but after hearing his playing on this record my opinion of him has skyrocketed. He showcases so much finesse and technical ability with taste. He’s not a hard-hitter, nor does he demand your attention, but he plays damn well, albeit subtly. The open/close hi-hat in lead single “Memory Trace” makes me think of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” – hard to pull off so precisely. And the excellent polyrhythmic intro of “Elysian” could just as easily lead into a Karnivool song.

Unlike your traditional model of lead guitar playing intricate melodies and rhythm guitar just filling in the rest with chord progressions, Mike and Bryan take turns playing dominantly. Like alternating sine waves, the two almost volley off each other. One will swell up as the other retreats, just for the opposite to happen soon after.

This music doesn’t attract many hyperboles. It’s middle of the spectrum – not especially fast, heavy, calm… But it is good. Nothing extreme – just done really well. Delicate and dynamic, with plenty to pay attention to.

Man Mountain’s music is reflective of the personalities within the band. At first unassuming and pleasant, and once you dig deeper you find quality gold inside. Understated, remarkable, and brilliantly crafted and recorded, Man Mountain’s début album Infinity Mirror is worth paying attention to. Listen with headphones on for the full immersive experience.

Man Mountain Mike in Ypsilanti

Infinity Mirror releases March 16th on Spartan Records. The 300 vinyl pressings have already sold out, but the record is still available on CD or digital download.

Man Mountain have also remastered their two previous releases, available for “Name Your Own Price” via Spartan Records or their Bandcamp page.

Man Mountain are

Mike Reaume – Guitar
Bryan Cowles – Guitar
David Reaume – Bass
Jacob Goins – Drums

Man Mountain Ypsilanti

Man Mountain links:

Spartan Records pre-order: http://spartanrecords.limitedrun.com/products/609477-man-mountain-infinity-mirror

Bandcamp: https://manmountain.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ManMountainMusic

Twitter: https:// twitter.com/ManMountainBand

Instagram: http://instagram.com/man_mountain

Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/manmountainband

 

Review by Joseph James.

Photos taken by Joseph in Ypsilanti and Columbus in September 2017