500 Word Review: Jeff Caudill “Voice/Wishing Well”

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For those who might not be familiar with Jeff Caudill, he is the frontman for the notable punk band, Gameface.  Singing for the band since the early 90s, and also being apart of the group, Your Favorite Trainwreck, since 2012, Caudill has established himself as an accomplished artist within the punk scene for decades.  However, it’s the recent release of two tracks as a solo artist that has caught my attention.  The tracks “Voice” and “Wishing Well”, which are Sense Field and Black Sabbath covers, have been recorded to fit the style of Caudill’s solo material with all proceeds earned from the two singles being donated to the family of Jon Bunch.

Photo by Todd Fixler

After listening to the 2 song project entirely, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the instrumental tracks embodying a soothing and well recorded sound.  The vocals from Caudill himself are very clear in quality and intertwine well with these superb instrumental tracks.  Starting with “Voice”, in Jeff Caudill’s version of the song, the track starts off very bland, but begins to steadily improve as Jeff fleshes out the track further and further. The use of multiple electric and acoustic guitar tracks, keyboard, bass, and percussion tracks, and even doubled tracked vocal sections that slowly emerge as the song progresses truly strengthens the song. In a similar way to how Sense Field originally recorded the track, Caudill starts off with only a handful of individual tracks and builds upon this base gradually as the song goes on.  Even though Caudill’s version is very similar to Sense Field’s original recording, I actually like Jeff’s version a little better, as it is able to embody the distinct power that the original track features without bombarding the listener with noise.  The use of varying acoustic instruments and better recorded vocals give it a more fuller sound that is not heard on the original version. Essentially, “Voice” is a song that starts off simplistic and gradually adds different parts brick by brick until you hear the true, full sounding composition.

“Wishing Well”, the Jeff Caudill version that is, starts off in a very similar way that “Voice” does.  An intricately strummed acoustic guitar matched with a vocal track, that I have mixed opinions about, are the only two instruments heard when we initially hear the first few measures of the song. “Wishing Well” also fits “Voice’s” structure of gradually adding parts, but instead of constantly adding more layers of instrumentation, “Wishing Well” adds a single piano track, a single percussion track, and only double tracks the vocals in sections where Jeff sees that it is necessary to fit the delivery of the specific lines sung. The rhythmic flow of the song itself and the calm, melodic guitar riffs give the song a dreamy sound that I really enjoy in “Wishing Well” that also reminds me of mid to late 90s Bush material. This is slightly different from “Voice”, which has more of an upbeat, sing-a-long structure that is also something I’m fond of.  When comparing Jeff’s version to the original Black Sabbath track, it’s clear that the two versions are polar opposites, as the Black Sabbath recording is more harsh and in your face, and at some points, even reminds me of Creedence Clearwater Revival, which is fairly odd considering this song was written by one of the first metal bands to exist.  There are some notable similarities, however, as the chorus in Jeff Caudill’s version matches the melodic, close to anthem sounding, structure heard in the original and each version features a powerful delivery of the meaningful lyrics that make up “Wishing Well”.

Even though I am really not a huge fan of the vocal melodies heard on these two songs, how Jeff uses the powerful lyricism in the original tracks to relate to his personal life is fantastic and helps explain why he chose to cover these two tracks.  The purpose behind this project is to pay tribute to Jeff’s late friend, Jon Bunch, who was the vocalist of Sense Field.  After his death last year, Jeff Caudill has put together these two songs, which lyrically are dedicated to him, in order to pay tribute to the singer and close friend while also donating the profits made to Bunch’s family.  Hearing the somber, sincere sadness in his voice mix with the powerful lyricism in both “Voice” and “Wishing Well” elevates this project to something truly memorable.  Lyrics like “And I want to hear it again that it’s going to be all right” and “Look in the water, tell me what do you see reflections of the love you give to me” truly resonate with the listener and help connect with the emotions Jeff is expressing in these two tracks.

Overall, while I was not a huge fan of the overall sound of the covers, their meaning and how they were recorded are truly phenomenal.  I give the project a 7.5/10 and highly suggest that you take 6 min out of you day to listen to and appreciate this release from Jeff Caudill.  The songs are attached below and check back in later this week for more reviews due out very soon!

 

“Voice”:

“Wishing Well”:

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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”:

500 Word Review: Dwellings “Foreverest” – Single

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On November 25th, Modesto, California based post hardcore band, Dwellings, released the follow up to their debut single “Lemonade” with the release of their latest single, “Foreverest”.  For those of you who have been following the page you will know how excited I am to hear new material from this group.  Their debut single was nothing short of phenomenal, and based off that performance alone, I honestly believe that this group is the future of the post hardcore sub genre.  That being said, I was extremely excited to hear new material from this group because I’m still curious to see how their sound will develop throughout this debut EP.  This new single, “Foreverest”, definitely varies significantly from their debut release, “Lemonade”, however there are still consistent themes heard on both tracks that give listeners and fans of the group a sense of what this up and coming band will sound like!

As stated earlier, there are multiple clear differences that you can hear between the tracks “Lemonade” and “Foreverest”.  For starters, “Foreverest” is somehow even more melodic than the anthemic track, “Lemonade”.  To be clear, this is not a negative quality, but it is still a surprising feature, especially when considering how harmonious multiple sections and choruses were on “Lemonade”.  The guitar work is simply graceful and does a great job with complimenting the superb songwriting and vocal performance heard on “Foreverest”. However, the most significant and enjoyable difference between the two tracks is how the overall sound of the track ,”Foreverest”, is more unique to Dwellings.  As much as I love “Lemonade”, there were multiple instances where the track sounded a lot like previous Dance Gavin Dance releases.  “Foreverest”, on the other hand, sounds more unique to Dwellings and their specific style of songwriting, and in the process, shows off their own personal take on post hardcore.  The influences from DGD and other well known post hardcore bands can still be heard, but Dwellings’ personal and recognizable sound is without a doubt the most prominent aspect heard, and in return gives their fans a better idea to how their sound will develop and become even more unique with future releases.  “Foreverest” will probably be the most melodic and slowest song heard on the upcoming EP and it gives the project a good range from higher energy,  in your face songs to slower and even more emotional tracks.

However Dwellings, like most other major California based post hardcore acts, still show some examples of similarities to Dance Gavin Dance in this new track.  These similarities are not a bad thing, or show lack of creativity, but demonstrate how they are able to take this modern style of post hardcore and transform and mold it into their own unique sound.  The first similarity a listener familiar with DGD will hear when listening to “Foreverest” is that this song is heavily influenced by Dance Gavin Dance’s third full length studio album, “Happiness”.  “Lemonade” featured elements from both “Happiness” and “Acceptance Speech” (the fifth studio album by the Sacramento based band), but “Foreverest” appears to just draw influence from “Happiness” alone. This is not a surprise to me since they have already shown signs of writing in a similar style to “Happiness”, and Dwellings’ bassist, Anthony Pacheco, has even stated that this DGD record is his favorite to date.  That being said, it now seems obvious why “Happiness” and “Foreverest” might sound somewhat similar.  “Happiness” is one of, it not my absolute favorite, DGD record as well, so Dwellings’ use of mixing in elements from this legendary record is something that I definitely approve of.  These elements, which include everything from the sincere, emotion filled lyrics to to the slow, yet melodic song structure can be directly compared and sound similar to songs like “Happiness” off the album of the same name, but can also strengthen their own songwriting by combing their favorite moments from “Happiness” and their own personal songwriting sound.  However, it is important to note that all of Dwellings’ material has been recorded by Josh Benton, who used to play guitar for Dance Gavin Dance and now records some of their releases like “Tree City Sessions”, and has been mastered by Kris Crummett, who recorded most of DGD’s full length records and other releases by notable California based post hardcore groups.  Because of this, some of aspects of Dwellings’ material might be similar to DGD solely because their production process is almost identical to Dance Gavin Dance’s.  Regardless of where they take influence from, Dwellings is making some serious progress at becoming the next legendary post hardcore group.

In conclusion, this is another solid track from soon-to-be household name, post hardcore group, Dwellings.  My anticipation for this debut EP continues to grow with every single released and I simply cannot wait to see what they put out next.  I give their second single, “Foreverest”, and 8.9/10.  The release date for the EP, “Lavender Town”, hasn’t been posted yet by the band, but when it does the staff at Erik’s Album Reviews will be the first ones to share it with you!  Check out the review for their debut single, “Lemonade”, below and give the latest single, “Foreverest”, a listen and let us know what you think!

“Lemonade” Review:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/album-reivew-dwellings-lemonade-single/

“Foreverest”:

500 Word Review: “Nails/Full of Hell Split EP”

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Recently, grindcore and powerviolence legends, Nails and Full of Hell, released a split EP together.  The split EP is the first release since Nails’ “hiatus” and is also the follow up to their amazing full length record, “You Will Never Be One Of Us”, which was released earlier this year.  Ever since this split EP was announced I have been extremely excited to hear it, despite the fact that I had never heard of Full of Hell before.  I was also especially excited to review this project since I have never reviewed a split EP before or any project from either group!  The split EP itself features one song from Nails titled, “No Longer Under Your Control”, and two songs from Full of Hell titled, “Thy Radiant Garrote Exposed” and “Bez Bolu”.  However, even before hearing a single track from the split, I was almost certain that this would be one of the best EPs I listen to this year.

If you know anything about grindcore, especially the two artists featured on this split, then you will not be surprised to see how short this split EP is.  With a total playing time of just short of 4.5 minutes, the Nails/Full of Hell split EP is one of the shortest split EPs I have ever heard and will easily be the shortest release you hear all year.  And again, if you are familiar with grindcore, then you know that the short compositions are chaotic and intense to say the least.  However, this split between Nails and Full of Hell is far more than just chaotic, it is unrelenting, brutal grindcore and powerviolence from start to finish that perfectly fits the gorgeous EP artwork.  When listening to the sole Nails track on the split EP, “No Longer Under Your Control”, it is clear that the songwriting heard is very similar to their previous album, “You Will Never Be One Of Us”, with only a few exceptions that allow the split to differ from the 2016 full length release.  For example, “No Longer Under Your Control” is slightly less aggressive than “YWNBOOU” and is also more melodic with some riffing mixed in with heavy chugging sections, that happen to be a staple for “YWNBOOU”.  The vocals, lyrics, and solo heard on “No Longer Under Your Control”, however, are practically identical to what is heard on the 2016 full length release, which is actually a good thing.  The only negative aspect heard on this Nails track is the production quality.  The production quality is muddy, and by being slightly worse than what is heard on “YWNBOOU”, it fails to correctly exemplify the brutal, raw sound that makes Nails’ music great.  However, this production quality does not take away from the fact that this track is absolutely stellar!

As I mentioned earlier, I did not know anything about Full of Hell prior to this release.  After listening to the split 7 times through I am extremely glad Full of Hell was included in this split because I have really enjoyed their two tracks on the release, “Thy Radiant Garrote Exposed” and “Bez Bolu”.  Like Nails’ sole track, these two tracks are short, fast aggressive, and hard-hitting, addictive grindcore songs.  The sludgy, overall production and tone heard on the guitar and bass tracks accompanied by perfectly mixed vocals result in two phenomenal tracks by Full of Hell.  In fact, these songs are so well written and well recorded that I actually might like these songs more than the sole Nails track heard on this split!  I plan on checking out more of Full of Hell’s discography and if the rest of their material sounds like the songs on this split then I could definitely become a fan of them!

In conclusion, this a great split by Nails and Full of Hell.  In fact, this split EP gives Nails the potential to become the first band/artist to have both an EP and an album make it onto the EPs of the Year list and the Albums of the Year list on Erik’s Album Reviews in the same year.  The aggressive, chaotic sound heard throughout the release is near perfect grindcore that is brief yet masterful, and above all, unfathomably brutal that leaves the listener feeling like they got hit by a bus. I give the Nails/Full of Hell split EP a 9.0/10 and you need to give less than 5 minutes of your time to listen to and truly experience this remarkable split EP, regardless of your opinion on grindcore and this form of extreme music.  I’ve attached the soundcloud stream of the split EP, along with where to order the 7″ vinyl, below for anyone who wants to give it a listen and I’ve also posted the original post I wrote when Nails and Full of Hell first announced the release.  We’ll have a lot more reviews to post in the upcoming weeks so make sure to check back into the site to see what we review next!

Split EP Announcement:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/breaking-news-nails-will-release-a-split-7-with-full-of-hell-this-december/

Split EP on Vinyl:

Nails / Full Of Hell "Split"

Full Split EP Stream:

Breaking News: Deadmau5 Releases New Album “W:/2016ALBUM/” And His Single “Ghosts N Stuff” Goes Platinum

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Yesterday, electronic music titan, Deadmau5, released his latest album, “W:/2016ALBUM/”, through his own label, mau5trap.  The 2016 record is Deadmau5′ latest full length album and release since 2014’s, “while (1<2)”.  The album was released with hardly any promotion, and practically had a surprise release, but so far Deadmau5 fans have welcomed the new release with positive feedback and reviews!  Personally, I’ve only heard a track or two off “W:/2016ALBUM/”, but what I have heard is extremely promising and leads me to believe this latest Deadmau5 project could be his best release in years!  The release features a different sound from Deadmau5 that includes a significant amount of experimentation, different from his previous releases, while also showcasing the classic synth sounds and recognizable beats that make Deadmau5′ material iconic and timeless.

In other Deadmau5 news, Deadmau5′ most successful single, “Ghost N Stuff”, recently went platinum according to RIAA.  The single, which features vocals from Rob Swire and is featured on the highly praised album, “For Lack of a Better Name”, is one of the most well known Deadmau5 tracks.  The best part of this news story, however, is that according to RIAA “Ghosts N Stuff” went platinum  on Halloween this year.  Out of all the days in the year for a track titled “Ghosts N Stuff” to go platinum, Halloween has to be the best day for the track to do so.  Regardless of the well fitting date to go platinum, “Ghosts N Stuff” is still a fantastic electronic song and the fact that it is now certified platinum is a huge accomplishment!  Congrats to Deadmau5 for the remarkable feat and hopefully more singles of his reach this notable level of success!

Even though I am crazy behind on album reviews, I definitely plan on completing the review for “W:/2016ALBUM/” in the near future.  For the meantime check out the stream of the album below and let us know what you think of the latest Deadmau5 record.  Be sure to check back in for more reviews and music content and let us know if there are any records that you want us to review in the last few weeks of 2016!

Vinyl and Cassette News: Burial’s “YOUNG DEATH / NIGHTMARKET” Accidently Gets Released Early On Vinyl

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In case you missed it, Burial, the legendary English electronic producer and recording artist, recently released his latest project “YOUNG DEATH / NIGHTMARKET (HDB100).  The short EP, which was officially released only a few days ago, features an experimental ambient sound accompanied with reverb filled synths and multiple, altered samples that give the project an overall sound unique to Burial himself.  This new EP is very fascinating and is both relaxing and compelling, causing the listener to feel at ease yet never lose interest or focus on the material.

The release itself is stellar, and I will most likely follow up this post with an official review of the project, but the most prominent news to come from this release actually isn’t about the material, but how it was distributed.  Days before the EP was supposed to have a surprise release, it suddenly surfaced on Discogs.  Stunned, Burial fans quickly reacted to this update and wondered if this was a legitimate, new release from Burial and where they could get themselves a copy of this record.  It was soon realized that the Discogs update was made in response to a Toronto record shop, called Sonic Boom Records, accidentally selling the release early on Black Friday.  Sonic Boom Records, who received the new 12″ records by mail, assumed the new release was a Black Friday secret listing and because of this 5 copies were accidentally sold to Toronto customers.  This project, which was eventually officially released on Burial’s official Bandcamp page on November 28th, is the first solo project of 2016 by the British artist.  Once the vinyl EP was officially released it quickly sold out on Burial’s site and has since been selling extremely fast at local record shops in both North America and Europe.  There are still numerous places that have a copy left to purchase, including the 53 individual listings on Discogs selling the 12″ for as little as $8.57, however this record will definitely sell out completely eventually.

If you are an electronic music fan you need to listen to this release.  In my opinion, this will most likely be one of the best EPs you hear all year.  If you are unfamiliar with Burial this is a very good place to start, however his discography is extremely immense and filled with great material, so checking out any release from the South London based artist is highly recommended.  The link to purchase the 12” vinyl record from Discogs is attached below along with the full EP stream.  Give it a listen, check out the other electronic reviews and music content posted on this site, and be sure to visit often for more electronic, vinyl, and cassette news!

https://www.discogs.com/Burial-Young-Death-Nightmarket/release/9412422