Thursday, July 3, 2008

Outsiders who value the insiders

I just found this South Carolina-based music site called Sound as Language and lo and behold there are several reviews of Midwestern bands.

This Athens, Ohio band Russenorsk was the first review I read:
If I had to guess without looking, I would surely place Russenorsk from the NYC area. They have a hipness to their sound which is curiously reminiscent of many NYC bands. But, the band actually hails from Athens, Ohio. Perhaps that is why Russenorsk are able to distinguish themselves from the cesspool of NYC indie pop. Tim Race and Jack Martin met during their freshman year at Ohio University and In A Great Wave Of Horns is the result of that friendship. The band certainly has a familiar sound that could be traced to bands like Arcade Fire or say, an incredibly less annoying Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. In fact, Russenorsk often reminds me of the laid back sounds of the underrated Takka Takka as well. Regardless, Russenorsk are able to do more than an adequate job of lacing their songs with a noticeable personality all their own. The arrangements and the band’s use of Martin’s cello creates a diverse backdrop to the promising, distinct vocals of Race. Look for Russenorsk’s next record (which they are about to record) to truly separate the band from the crowded indie pop/folk pack.

Then I noticed they had Columbus, Ohio band Tin Armor on there as well:
As we impatiently wait for that new Smoking Popes album ( will it ever see the light of day?), it is comforting to know that Tin Armor have our back. I recently covered Tin Armor in the Band You Should Know category. Their 2007 album, A Better Place Than I Have Been was a brilliant starting point and this seven-inch keeps the band’s momentum going in the right direction. I am a sucker for bands in this mold and Tin Armor have the ingredients down to a tee. Clever, morose lyrics are twirled around melodic instrumentation and vocal harmonies so warm and cuddly you could lay with them for days. And frankly, that’s exactly what I did. With four songs clocking in at an all too brief ten minutes, this record begs to be flipped over and over again and again. The band brings to mind a wide range of artists/bands. From the jangle of Ted Leo (and his old band, Chisel) or the Dan Adriano-penned Alkaline Trio songs (or Adriano’s old emo/pop band, Tuesday), Tin Armor are riding a charming pop wave to perfection. Songs of doomed relationships never sounded so sweet.

I also saw they had a review of the (in my opinion, totally excellent CD) by Cincinnati's The Pomegranates new CD "Everything is Alive":
Pomegranates debut, the Two Eyes EP, was one of my favorites of 2007. The band’s first full-length, Everything Is Alive, is a bit of a different beast though. On Two Eyes, Pomegranates attacked their songs with a youthful exuberance. However, on Everything Is Alive the band has grown up in a relatively short time. Here, Pomegranates lay back and let the material come to them instead. The songs are, dare I say, more mature and well-rounded. They offer more structure than the band’s original frenzied approach towards indie pop. The band’s enthusiasm might be missed at first but Everything Is Alive proves Pomegranates have way more to offer than just a good time.
Everything Is Alive was recorded and mixed in the span of six days. The majority of the album was tracked live and those elements add a great deal of character as well as a bit of spontaneity to the recording. Everything Is Alive is an album completely comfortable in its own skin. In essence, the album title is brilliant. Whatever flaws and callouses the band possesses, it is what makes them unique and it breathes life into Everything Is Alive.
With two vocalists who offer distinctly different paths, Pomegranates walk the line masterfully on Everything Is Alive. It is what the band surrounds those vocals with that is so exhilarating though. Pomegranates’ arrangements are cunning to say the least. There is inherent melody in the band’s song but there is also a subtle ambiance that intrigues throughout. Lyrically, the band shows off an impressive depth and maturity. The songs range from gentle caresses to anthemic sparks of energy but always possess a brilliant intimacy.
Over the last few years, indie pop has become stale and overrun with countless bands and inconsequential hype. Essentially, the genre has lost its soul. Pomegranates are able to reinvigorate a lifeless body with the earnest, hopeful spirit that emanates from Everything Is Alive. The record is a true, joyful expression of life and all the sadness and beauty therein. Who knew indie rock had such a wild, beating heart left on the inside?


Here's another Cincinnati-based band they reviewed, in 500 Miles to Memphis:
500 Miles To Memphis hail from Cincinnati, OH. The band cleverly took it’s name from the distance between their hometown to Graceland in Memphis, TN. 500 Miles To Memphis has an interesting sound as they combine country with rock n’ roll. With ample fiddle and steel guitar the band adds an authentic element to their brand of punk n’ roll. Ryan Malott’s endearing tales of life, love, booze and everything in between is almost comforting. With a thoroughly rocking sound and Malott’s wry lyrical take, 500 Miles To Memphis are able to strike a nerve here. The only complaint is that the album clocks in at nearly 50 minutes. So, Sunshine In A Shot Glass does run a bit too long at times. Regardless, fans of rock n’ roll with more than a little twang should find much to sink their teeth into here.

2 comments:

will said...

And don't forget about Kent, Ohio's Annabel...probably my favorite Ohio band right now.

http://soundaslanguage.com/2008/04/11/best-new-music-annabel/

Christopher Animalhead said...

Thanks, Will! Great work on your site.
-Chris