Weekly Roundup: February 9, 2018

Brian Fallon - Sleepwalkers

RIYL: The Gaslight Anthem, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Hause

Brian Fallon just has a short cut straight to my heartstrings. There's not much that he as recorded that hasnt resonated with me in some profound way. Even Gaslight Anthem's last effort, Get Hurt, which was (i believe unfairly) not over-loved by critics and fans, ranks among my favorites of the band's iconic releases. His solo career thus far has not deviated much from The Gaslight Anthem's blue-collar rock n roll flair, though sanding off the rough edges in favor of the soul-sweet smoothness of The Horrible Crowes project with Ian Perkins. Sleepwalkers reads just like al the rest of these ultimately, however, and in that way speaks straight to my heart. Fallon has more of an edge than his hero Springsteen, and wears his clear worship of African American music proudly on his sleeve--peppering name drops throughout his records, this time the soul legend Etta James gets an entire song dedicated to her thats one of the record's best songs.

Shakey Graves - The Sleep EP

RIYL: The Bones of JR Jones, Houndmouth, Portugal the Man

There's always been a foot-stomping quality to Shakey Graves' twangy ballads. And Then the War came provides some of the best pop-leaning neo-americana one could ever ask for and the man absolutely shreds live. But it seems as if he has been largely dormant since his last release, only repackaging and rereleasing old releases until this new "EP." The Sleep EP gets off to an awkard start in this way--after desperately wanting new music from Shakey Graves, and being titled an EP, you only get two songs--this is a 7-inch or a single that is mislabeled. The songs themselves, while still retaining to a large degree Graves' qualities, lose much of that foot-stomping folky quality that rang out so prominently on ATTWC in favor of a more poppy approach thats not all that dissimilar from Portugal The Man's old stuff. "Kids these Days' especially suffers from this weakness. The Sleep EP--over produced, under-folked, with lackluster art and a two-song list for an EP is a sad disappointment. After four years of waiting, this wasn't the best thing to go with if there is more music waiting to be released. But when that finally is, you can guarantee I will still give it a shot, though my expectations have been tempered.

Blacklisted - Dry Shaving B/W Please Go Away

RIYL: Fucked Up, Modern Life is War, Culture Abuse

With every release, hardcore titans Blacklisted sound more and more like Fucked Up. This isn't a critique, however, merely an observation as the Canadian hardcore-n-roll pioneers are perhaps one of the most vital bands of the last ten years with their constant drives for experimentation and expanding the boundaries of punk and hardcore. This single from Blacklisted, however, sounds like it could have literally fallen out of one of Fucked Up's recording sessions, with vocal and guitar tones so strikingly similar that it will make you double take. On the other hand, Blacklisted never release the same thing twice and no matter what their discography speaks for itself with one bonafide classic in the mix. This single just provides more from an already truly great band.

Scream Hello - This Island Earth

RIYL: Restorations, Small Brown Bike, Hostage Calm

It's kind of impossible to fathom Everything is Always Still Happening came out ten years ago. That record was whip-smart pop-tinged punk rock with soaring choruses and instrumentals that far outdid the contemporary competition. It was one of my favorite records that year, providing a deliberately curious approach to pop punk that Hostage Calm would follow in a couple years later. This Island Earth picks up seemingly right where the band left off wit nary a beat skipped. The soaring quality to their sound remains largely intact, thought the production and mix aren't quite as clean as EIASH. I'm not sure the Ep grabs enough to recapture the magic of their first two releases or the hype, but to welcome Scream Hello back to active duty is only a good thing.

Harms Way - Posthuman

RIYL: Code Orange, Downpresser, Xibalba

Harms Way have always felt somewhat like the neanderthalic bullies of hardcore, though this is in large part due to not only their br00tal beatdown-heavy sound, but to their frontman's incredible physique. Their approach to even the typically lowbrow beatdown hardcore sound, however has been nothing if not thoughtful and with intention--the band always seemingly striving to create almost a machine-like sound that sounds like a factory running at full-bore. Deep growls mix with hard, metallic clanking and bowel-shaking grumbles of blastbeats. Where Rust, though satisfying in its sheer heaviness, was still a challenge to get through largely to lack of diversity, Posthuman manages to not only vary their sound a bit (while still maintaining appropriate heaviness), but also eases off that br00tal pedal just a bit to make their sound a bit more relateable and accessible. Don't get me wrong--this band will always be one that you're scared for your life seeing live, but maybe, just maybe, Posthuman shows some hope for your survival in the pit


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