This project got their start just a few years ago from the remains of another Projekt band known as Tearwave. The band is formed by the talented members of founder Doug White (guitars, songwriting), Emma Willis (vocals, lyrics), Jon Nemi (guitars), Val Hill (bass) and Dennis Caswell (drums). Together they form an excellent style that's a mix of shoegaze, ethereal and indie rock, with emphasis on the grinding guitars and driving rhythms while Emma's soft vocals soften the harsh edges providing an excellent balance to the music.
After just a short history in the career of this band, they're well on their way to becoming a well-known and solid staple within their mix of genres. They kicked it off in style with their self-titled debut album with excellent new classics. Many people may be familiar with this band from their introduction on Projekt's sampler Under The Weight of Light released in early 2010. The track "Currents" is an excellent introduction to their driving, lush, guitar-laiden sound that was an instant classic and favorite from the time I first heard it. Late 2011 brought about the excellent self-released sophomore album building on what they started just a little over a year before. With the great start in these two albums we hope for many more for years to come.
Journeys to the End - Review
Out of pity for the poor fans that have been waiting for something new and great from this band, we're finally presented with this five-track EP. It was great to hear about these fresh new tracks, some of which fans have heard long before this release if you've been following the band on Facebook or other social media networks. With the release of their track "Mountain View" the band presented us with a video to enjoy that's worth checking out if you haven't seen it already.
The band continues to build on their style of fast-paced, guitar-driven ethereal shoegaze with Emma's siren-like vocals staying strong amidst the moving beats and myriad of guitars. "Mountain View" kicks it off with the soaring guitars creating an excellent atmosphere backing the dreamy vocals. The emotional intensity emanates from the music not just from the vocals and lyrics, but also from the captivating instruments that seem to bring on a life of their own. The somber moods give way to something a bit more upbeat with "Transience" and the vocals singing out the catchy phrase "I still feel happy when it rains..." as the soaring guitars ring out seemingly echoing across hills and valleys for miles. Coming to a close we drift into the heartbreakingly-beautiful piece "How to Cope 'When You're Alone'". The vocals on this piece are clear and beautiful, almost heavenly as they move along the crisp pace of the driving percussion and grinding, driving guitars.
"Interventionist" keeps the pace and intensity up as the album moves along with Emma's spell-binding vocals floating along over the driving range of various grinding, soaring, equally captivating guitars and bass. The finale to this EP is the appropriately named track "Complete", starting off with somber, moody, heart-breaking guitars as a short intro before the rhythm and intensity kicks back in as we're driven along on the waves of somber sounds to the end of the album. Bringing it to a close, we have here another great work from these talented artists.
A Petal Among Bricks - Review
Without too long of a wait, we have the sophomore album from this group of shoegaze rockers. This album is self-released by the band and comes packaged in a simple jewel case and insert without much more than a track list and list of band members. I suppose this doesn't make too much of a difference in today's age of digital music downloads, but for those of us that enjoy the physical thing, it's a very simple package. The disc comes with eleven powerful tracks much like the previous album.
After an excellent debut, it's hard to know where a band will go next, it's hard to follow their debut with the variety and power in that album, but I think the band does a good job here building on their solid base of distorted layer upon layer of guitar-driven shoegazer music with a definite indie rock edge. "SixFourOneZero" kicks it off and with this piece we're immediately sucked in by Emma's sweet vocals and pounding drums while at first some simple minimalistic guitar and bass move things along, in between each verse and across the chorus the driving, layered, shimmering guitars kick in for a powerful highlight. The album progresses along in this way across one captivating piece after another leaving the listener breathless and enthralled in the midst of it all.
The album is fairly homogenous, so it's hard to pick out any definite favorites that really stand out. Each piece contributes something to the overall grace and beauty to the album. Pieces like "Wishful Thinking" really pour on the emotion with Emma's innocent, pleading vocals over the top of the various layers of grinding and soaring guitar. Later "Life in a New Light" brings on the driving indie rock style with a moving beat and the various cascading guitars, forming a wall of captivating sound, punctuated and accented by crashing percussion and the incredible guitar-work, creating a veritable symphony of guitar-driven sound. This break-neck speed and intensity carries on across several pieces like "Heart" with the slightly overbearing cymbals crashing. We get a nice little respite with "Control" featuring a lot more prominent bass guitar and drums, creating a bit more of a darker, somewhat gothic style. The album moves along in similar fashion and comes to a close much like their previous album with an instrumental finale named "Opus 7". This powerful piece adds the final exclamation point to the album and brings it to a close nicely.
Overall another excellent work from this band, they've focused a little more on the rock sound and I definitely missed not having a single down-tempo ethereal piece, but I don't pretend to dictate to the band how to create their music, but with this style it's always nice to have something along those lines. It's definitely worth picking up and enjoying.
Makaras Pen - Review
This debut album is a great start for this band and is a true gem. It comes packaged in probably one of the last jewel cases we'll see from Projekt Records. It comes with some pictures and lyrics and eleven powerful, yet dreamy tracks.
It kicks off with my immediate favorite piece from this band "Currents". This track shows this band at their best and is a pattern for the entire album. It takes a full blend of everyone's talents and contributions. The guitars go from soft and simple, to driving, lush and distorted to almost symphonic in nature. The percussion moves things along nicely from piece to piece and also helps to add some nice variety. The bass is solid and is a definite driver for most music in these related genres. And to cap it all off we have Emma's lush, angelic vocals that really hold me spellbound throughout the album. Like related bands such as Cranes, Mira and Cocteau Twins, the angelic vocals are an excellent offset to the driving guitars, creating a beautiful masterpiece.
For the most part each piece is fairly upbeat, which in some ways is a disappointment with the beauty of this music, a few more ethereal pieces would be so nice for the ethereal music lover in me. Luckily there is one excellent downtempo piece "Spent With You" that is superb in it's, soft, dreamy way. Other pieces come close and really follow that shoegazer pattern of soft and sweet at first to a driving and powerful climax, making each piece unique and powerful in their own way. It's hard to single out other favorites, the album is packed with great tracks, from the sweet, but powerful piece "Promises", "New Beginnings" or the finale instrumental piece appropriately named "Opus 6". Overall it's a great powerful album and I highly recommend it for any fan of these related genres.
Label: Projekt Records