Breaking News: A Lot Like Birds Release Music Video For New Single “The Sound of Us”

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Shortly after releasing the first single for their upcoming album, “DIVISI”, A Lot Like Birds have another new single and music video to further build anticipation for the fourth full length studio album by the Sacramento based post hardcore band.  This latest single, titled “The Sound of Us”, showcases a better understanding of how diverse this album will be in composition while also giving ALLB fans a general idea of this new sound and song structure that A Lot Like Birds will encompass for years to come.

In my opinion, this track significantly resembles A Lot Like Birds’ older sound through certain aspects heard throughout “The Sound of Us”.  For starters, the sporadic and complex song structure is very similar to what is heard on “DIVISI’s” predecessor, “No Place”.  Even the use of various odd time signatures and artfully crafted instrumental performances easily sound like tracks heard on ALLB’s last two full length releases.  What differs “The Sound of Us” from these two records, however, is the absence of aggressive, even quirky sections that used to be prominent features in A Lot Like Birds tracks.  I for one think this is a reflection of positive improvement in songwriting, as the substitute of melodic, harsh vocal excluding influences replaces this hardcore/metalcore inspired aggressiveness that was both odd and, in my opinion, the sole aspect of ALLB’s material that held them back for the last few years.  Even though diehard fans might disagree with me and claim that this aggressive song structure is what brought ALLB to prominence, I believe this new sound heard in “For Shelley (Unheard)” and “The Sound of Us” is one that better fits the band itself and will have even more successful results than their sophomore and third full length albums.

Even though I still enjoy “For Shelley (Unheard)” a little more than “The Sound of Us”, due to it’s passionate and well thought out lyricism and overall anthemic structure that the song exemplifies, “The Sound of Us” is still a fantastic song.  Coming out of the gates with a fast paced tempo and technical yet melodic composition, “The Sound of Us” instantly grabs your attention and keeps you dialed in from start to finish.  This is also the first track released off “DIVISI” that features sections where Matt Coate is singing on his own.  This contrast and back-and-forth tag-team like approach to vocal tracking is something I instantly love and think will become one of the most memorable parts of “DIVISI”.  However, even though these two songs have been phenomenal singles, I still believe that “Trace the Lines” will completely steal the show once it is finally released!

The music video for “The Sound of Us” is attached below.  One thing I have noticed so far is that the “DIVISI” music videos appear to be well thought out and directed masterfully, with each one full of symbolism, fantastic actors, and even visual features that help enhance their respective tracks greatly.  I’m not sure how many music videos are left to be released for “DIVISI”, but if they follow this pattern step up by “For Shelley (Unheard)” and “The Sound of Us” then there’s no reason why they won’t be phenomenal.  Personally, I would love to see a video album to go alongside “DIVISI”, however the budget needed to accomplish this would be insanely high and is pretty much not feasible.  Regardless, this album is destined to be one of the best releases of 2017, even if you’re still reluctant to admit this, and A Lot Like Birds will benefit from this evolved sound more so than if they continued on the same path as “Conversation Piece” or “No Place”.  Essentially, A Lot Like Birds was very successful and accomplished before Kurt Travis joined and they adopted the more aggressive sound, and they will continue to find success without either one of these features.  Let us know what you think of “The Sound of Us” and stay tuned for more updates about A Lot Like Birds and their upcoming album, “DIVISI”.

 

“The Sound of Us”:

Breaking News: A Lot Like Birds Release First Single of Upcoming Fourth Full Length Album “DIVISI”

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After four long years of waiting A Lot Like Birds have finally released new material.  On March 22nd, ALLB released the first single off the upcoming album called, “For Shelley (Unheard)”.  Their upcoming album, titled “DIVISI”, will be released on May 5th on Equal Vision Records and will be their fourth full length album and the follow up to the successful release, 2013’s “No Place”.

For those who might not follow the band that frequently, you might have missed the significance behind this upcoming record.  This will be the first ALLB record without Kurt Travis since 2009’s “Plan B” and will feature Cory Lockwood as the main vocalist with bassist Matt Coate adding some additional vocal performances.  Apparently, in the time between “No Place” and “DIVISI” Kurt Travis and the rest of ALLB had creative differences in how they would approach future releases under the moniker, A Lot Like Birds, and because of this, Kurt Travis ended up departing the band and the rest of the group pursued a less hardcore-influenced sound with Cory expanding on his vocal performance by switching from harsh vocals to “clean singing” vocals that required vocal lessons.  As a result, the first song as a product of this new direction has been released as “For Shelley (Unheard)”.

The success of this record for ALLB is crucial.  Not only is leaving behind one of the most prominent members of their band be a huge transition for fans, but abandoning their old influences to pursue a new, evolved sound is also be a risky path to pursue.  A Lot Like Birds have to present the best material they possible can as one unit to successfully pull this off, or else they could face the possibility of losing almost all of their fan base.  Luckily, this transition has created some of the best and most memorable material I’ve heard from them in their existence.  Personally, I am not a huge A Lot Like Birds fan, but I can definitely appreciate their material and influence in the post hardcore scene.  Not to mention that their debut full length, “Plan B”, is a catchy, experimental album that is highly underrated.  However, “Conversation Piece” and “No Place”, while they are good, don’t really have any memorable moments and I personally found it hard to really enjoy the releases, which could explain why the group has had such a hard time in growing in significance compared to other notable experimental post-hardcore groups like Dance Gavin Dance, Stolas, Hail the Sun, or even Slaves.  A Lot Like Birds truly needed a song like “For Shelley (Unheard)” to boost them back into significance and keep their status as one of the notable modern post-hardcore acts.

“For Shelley (Unheard)” is the most heart-wrenching, yet beautiful song you will hear all year.  An eerie rhythm guitar plays a few heavily distorted chords before a prominent, high pitched lead guitar pierces into the track crying with one of the catchy, bittersweet melodies that you will hear throughout the song.  From the moment Cory begins singing it is clear that his work on his vocal performance has produced great results and his new role in ALLB is nothing short of perfect.  If you read the description of the song you will see a tear-jerking, heartfelt letter from Cory himself explaining the meaning of the track and how his mom was the most important figure in his life and why he has dedicated this song to the superhuman mother that she was to him.  Knowing this background, you can literally hear the pain in Cory’s voice and stellar lyricism, and it’s shocking to say the least that Cory himself was still able to hit these high notes perfectly despite the fact that powerful emotions and memories were engulfing him during this point in his life.  The song structure goes between a verse that without fail builds up to the chorus every time it is heard.  The only thing I wish this song had was an anthemic section after the calm bridge.  I personally believe an emotion driven anthemic part would only intensify the raw emotion and musicianship heard from every member on this track, resulting in a practically flawless first single.  However, even without this, “For Shelley (Unheard)” is the single that A Lot Like Birds desperately needed in order to make “DIVISI” as important as it should be.

“DIVISI” will be a pivotal moment for ALLB.  Sure they will lose a lot of fans (as you can tell from the comment section on any other their recent videos, including the music video for “For Shelley (Unheard)”) due to the fact that their sound has drastically evolved to something a little closer to guitarist Michael Franzino’s project, alone., and they will also lose fans due to the fact that Kurt Travis is no longer apart of ALLB, but they will also gain a new era of fans as they go forward with this evolution of A Lot Like Birds.  The success and history of this Sacramento based group will be analyzed in two sections: before “DIVISI” and after “DIVISI”, with the post-“DIVISI” era, in my opinion, becoming the far more successful and influential era that puts ALLB into the spotlight in their respective scene.  The new sound exemplified so far will clearly fit them well, whether their older fans agree or not, and I guarantee this monumental transition will bring positive change for ALLB for years to come.

“For Shelley (Unheard)” is already an instant classic for A Lot Like Birds, but there is one song I absolutely cannot wait to hear.  The teaser below, which feature Cory recording the vocals for a pre-chorus and chorus of a song on “DIVISI” is addicting to say the least.  His powerful delivery, which becomes a borderline yell before the instrumental parts fade in, is captivating to say the least and makes me dying to hear the rest of this track.  As of right now I have no idea what the title of this song is, or if it will also be a single, but I can guarantee that it will be one of the greatest songs off of “DIVISI” and will be the Track of the Day Tuesday for sure!

In a little over a month, the most pivotal moment of ALLB’s career, the release of “DIVISI” on May 5th, 2017, will occur and their footprint in the post hardcore scene will not be the same.  In my opinion this new album will be A Lot Like Birds’ “Downtown Battle Mountain”, their “Saosin”, even their “On Letting Go”, and if you sleep on this record you will seriously be missing out.  Myself and the staff here at Erik’s Album Reviews will keep you posted with updates as we get closer to the release date, so stay tuned for more news about ALLB!  Also, check out the first single, “For Shelley (Unheard)”, below and while you’re on the site, see what other albums we’ve reviewed and what news stories you need to hear as well!

 

“For Shelley (Unheard)”:

The Thursday Ten: 12/29/16

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Even though we are a little late with posting this, here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”!  This segment has been very rewarding to write this year and we’re glad to see that our viewers enjoyed reading these installments as much as we did with writing them!  This post is actually the last “The Thursday Ten” for all of 2016.  It’s amazing to see how many albums we gave ratings to this year and the staff here at Erik’s Album Reviews can’t wait to see what albums will make it onto “The Thursday Ten” next year!  Once again thank you for support and we will be back with more installments to “The Thursday Ten” next year!

  1. Deftones – Gore: 6/10
  2. Shokran – Exodus: 8/10
  3. Abbath – Abbath: 7/10
  4. Phantogram – Three: 6/10
  5. Zao – The Well-Intentioned Virus: 9/10
  6. Solange – A Seat At The Table: 8/10
  7. Norma Jean – Polar Similar: 8/10
  8. Emarosa – 131: 9/10
  9. Angelmaker/A Night In Texas – Split EP: 8/10
  10. Hodgy – Fireplace – TheNotTheOtherSide: 8/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/the-thursday-ten-111516/

Breaking News: New Nine Inch Nails EP Out This Friday

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This Friday, iconic industrial rock titans, Nine Inch Nails, will be releasing a brand new EP.  The upcoming EP, titled “Not the Actual Events”, will be released on their website (http://www.nin.com) on December 23rd and is the group’s first release since 2014.  The new material will also be the first project to feature the group’s newest member, Atticus Ross.  The duo of Ross and Reznor have worked on numerous successful scores in recent years, like “Gone Girl”, “Before the Flood”, and “Juno” to name a few, so their collaboration on new NIN materials will be very interesting to hear!

Unfortunately a single for the upcoming project has yet to be released.  With the project recently being announced, it is very unlikely we will hear any previews before the EP’s release date Friday.  However, a review of the project will definitely be posted once the EP is out!  Visit the site regularly to see more updates about the new Nine Inch Nails EP along with all other music news and content!

The Thursday Ten: 11/15/16

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For those who visit Erik’s Album Reviews regularly, you will know that the staff has been very busy for the last two weeks.  Because of this we unfortunately missed the last two “The Thursday Ten” segments.  However, last week we announced that in order to make up for this lack of album ratings, we will give 20 album ratings for this week’s installment rather than the usual 10!  This week’s post features various releases over multiple genres covering everything from Black Metal to EDM.  Even though twice as many releases are feature in this installment, the rules to “The Thursday Ten” haven’t changed, and of course, we encourage you to check out every album listed on any of the major music streaming platforms.  Let us know what you think of the ratings, which albums you want us to rate next, and don’t forget to check out the previous installment to “The Thursday Ten”.  Here is this week’s post:

  1. Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom EP: 8/10
  2. The Acacia Strain, Thy Art Is Murder, and Fit For An Autopsy – The Depression Sessions: 9/10
  3. Power Trip/Integrity Split EP: 7/10
  4. Dan Mason – Summer Love: 7/10
  5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool: 7/10
  6. Aborted – Termination Redux EP: 8/10
  7. Lamb of God – The Duke EP: 7/10
  8. Jason Richardson – I: 8/10
  9. bl00dwave – Distance: 8/10
  10. Defeater – Abandoned: 8/10

 

  1. Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine: 8/10
  2. Blink-182 – California: 8/10
  3. Balance and Composure – Light We Made: 8/10
  4. Moose Blood – Blush: 8/10
  5. Wakrat – Wakrat: 4/10
  6. Tesseract – Polaris: 7/10
  7. A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations: 6/10
  8. Adventure Club – Red // Blue: 5/10
  9. PZA – AMERICAN RITUALS: 9/10
  10. Vaerbitt – Tid: 9/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/the-thursday-ten-112416/

Classic Album Review: MASTODON Crack The Skye

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Of all the albums in Mastodon’s vibrant discography, “Crack the Skye” is the most distinctive. Its distinction isn’t due to a higher level of quality or a lack thereof, but its departure from Mastodon’s original identity. The unreserved sludge held in common by their first three records makes a precious few appearances in “Crack the Skye”. Interestingly enough, the occasional bellow and plundering guitar riff seem even more powerful among the often churning album. The grumbling bass guitar in “Ghost of Karelia” and the familiar screams of the album’s title track, are no exception to that. Instrumentally, Mastodon has demonstrated their instrumental prowess once again, delivering precise riffs, solos, and drum fills that outclass the efforts of other sludge metal bands. Nevertheless, “Crack the Skye” is best described as progressive metal with a healthy dose of space rock; certainly not sludge metal. The mash up of genres grants the record an immersive atmospheric quality which is deliberately broken to lend a commanding air to their guitar solos and vocals. For the first time, singing has taken center stage over Mastodon’s signature guttural shouts. Their harmonies can be glorious, but are sometimes awkward such as in the pre-chorus of “Oblivion”. Despite their relative inexperience with singing, it still manages to add to the record’s synergy. Each song flows seamlessly into the next.

“Crack the Skye “continues on with the bands tradition of following a concept. However, never have they undertaken one so personal. Make no mistake, the album may be chalk full of topics like astral projection and the legendary Rasputin, but its true inspiration was the early death of a bandmate’s sister. Unfortunately, the concept is a bit too fleshed out and outlandish. The band may have overdone it in this aspect. Apart from this, there is little to complain about. The album starts off strong and ends even stronger: in a thirteen-minute epic. There is hardly a low point besides a couple of transitions featuring over repetition, something that could be mistaken for laziness. Given the emotional investment in the album it is more likely a thorough attempt to stick to the albums unique tone, which the band does very well. They put their fan base at risk with this album by changing their sound, but musically it is a success.

Often when a metal band lightens up their musical palate, it is seen as an attempt to reach a larger audience or “sell out”, despite what they may claim. It is not uncommon for the quality of writing to decline too. The reasons for Mastodon’s decision to move away from their roots in “Crack the Skye” is unclear. The personal investment they have in the record, and its overall quality suggest that it could be their earnest attempt at something a little different. It’s not uncommon for artists to experiment with their ideas occasionally. However, looking at Mastodon post-“Crack the Skye”, it seems certain that the album was intended to test the world’s reception of a new sound before they committed to what might be called hard rock.

Score: 8.5/10

Album Review by Zach Norton, November 2016