Melochrome, Stay A Little Longer (Loose Thread)

Melochrome - Stay A Little Longer Melochrome
Stay A Little Longer
Loose Thread
By: Eric Greenwood

This is not good. It's not that I hate slow music either- it's just that this music lacks any recommendable qualities, and the fact that it's predominantly slow is merely a coincidence. "Seasonlong" has a pretty opening riff. I'll give it that. Strummed slowly, it sounds both hopeful and nostalgic; however, the riff ceases to soothe after about, oh, four solid minutes. The vocals are forgetfully bland and predictable (all hushed tones, deliberately strained). The fact that the song clocks in at 7:02 is another problem. The only saving grace is the baritone saxophone. When a saxophone part saves a song, that usually indicates a much, much bigger problem.

Ahh, "Summer Jens" sounds like My Bloody Valentine. Perhaps, a bit too much, but, still, it beats the hell out of the first song. Ooh. Can I retract that? Betty Boop just started singing and has ruined the song. The clumsy male/female vocal hand-off isn't helping either. Two strikes and we're only two songs in. Maybe this Nick Drake wannabe entitled "The Years Go By" will step in and smooth everything over. Quiet, airy atmospherics linger behind subtle acoustic chords. The male vocals quiver obnoxiously, but they're not too bad. Ooh, Betty Boop chimes again, and I have to throw in the towel. Jesus. Who's idea was it to let her sing?

Listening to Stay A Little Longer is one slap in the face after another. I can't imagine sitting through this at a club. I'd be passed out in a puddle of drool. "Holly" is by far the most offensive track yet. It sounds like a Saturday Night Live joke song making fun of clueless, out of touch folk hippies. I swear to God I just heard this line: "hearts are frozen when her head's all filled snowmen/and I'll be near her when her skin's all numb and tearless." You can't expect me to keep on listening after that? This is just making me mad. To make matters worse, it rambles on for six solid minutes. At least Betty Boop only has a back-up vocal role in this one.

I guess I'm a glutton for punishment: I'm still here. "Let's Work It Out" has passable music: jangly guitars and a fuzzy, feedback-driven chorus, which allows me to forgive the cheesy hand-claps. The vocals, of course, wreck everything, though. They just don't match the music. It's like somebody slipped these people ecstasy after they had been bingeing on heroin and My Bloody Valentine all weekend. Happily chirping "Let's just work it out" over dark music is just not done. "Aqueduct" is the best song so far. Guess why? Instrumental. I can't ever remember being so thankful for a mid-album instrumental.

After an all-too-brief reprieve Melochrome gets right back to sucking on "The Far Or The Near." An unremarkable, mid-tempo plodder with Betty Boop on vocals again. Synthesizers have never sounded so out of place. "Late Nights" is boredom personified. Slow core to the max with horns for good measure. While I do much prefer the male vocals to Betty Boop's, it's still not an easy listen. Double-tracked, trite phrases ("there are too many late nights") don't make for good choruses. Looking ahead I see the final track is called "Boyfriend." Please, God, don't let it be long. Phew, only four minutes and some change. Fuck it, I can't make it to the end. Needless to say, don't buy this album.

Cursive, Burst And Bloom (Saddle Creek)

Cursive - Burst And Bloom Cursive
Burst And Bloom
Saddle Creek
By: Eric Greenwood

Tim Kasher obviously takes himself way too seriously, but, wait, he's deconstructing himself in the first song. The title track of this EP is a disclaimer that eliminates any mystery between musician and fan. Kasher's tongue in cheek take on the self-proclaimed "marketing scheme" that is this EP swells with emotion, despite its sarcastic tone: "they've got a good fan base, they've got integrity/they've got a DC sound, Shudder To Think, Fugazi, and Chapel Hill around the early '90's- this is the latest from Saddle Creek."

Kasher delivers his vocals in a half-spoken/half-sung tone reminiscent of Ian Mackaye's mellower moments, perhaps, deliberately so, as Mackaye's band is obviously name-dropped. Kasher builds the tension masterfully even if the lyrics do make your mouth pucker at times. The clean guitar strums lightly behind propulsive drumming that quickens with anticipation at the charge of distortion to come. Kasher's intonation becomes angrier as the lyrics grow more personal and the guitars surge with him: "these words I'm driving into the ground/the same words I scream out over the crowd/ I'm just an airwave rolling around/I storm and crash with out a sound."

Cursive's dynamics are what keep it from sinking into the mush with all the other sensitive-minded punk bands. Kasher sounds like he means what he says; there's not a trace of contrivance in his emotional outbursts. "The Great Decay" works off angular riffs and hurried changes with Kasher's pained inflection leading the way. He's got a great scream when he lets loose. "Tall Tales, Telltales" pushes the punk envelope with its five-minute plus running time, but the band keeps things interesting with extreme tides that ebb and flow, culminating in a huge, guitar-charged chorus.

In addition to its killer title, "Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me?" flaunts the band's tricky guitar work and produces yet another equally catchy and potent chorus. Every song has a noisy climax, an emotional payoff that sucks you into the heart of the turmoil and makes your hair stand on end. "Fairy Tales Tell Tales" almost falls victim to its own technical complexity and overwrought sensibility, but Kasher once again comes through with the rocking goods. As long as you don't let the miserable lyrics distract you from the melody and the rock, you should be fine.

Hefner, We Love The City (Too Pure)

Hefner - We Love The City Hefner
We Love The City
Too Pure
By: Eric Greenwood

Somehow, over the course of three albums Hefner has managed to transform its awkward, bookish charm into a grating chore on the ears. We Love The City is both a heartfelt and cynical exploration of the band's love/hate relationship with giddy London, but despite Darren Hayman’s clever attempts to outdo himself lyrically, the album suffers from an overwhelming sense of calculated disaffection. At least Morrissey sounded miserable when he bellowed his melodic demons. Hayman is all too happy to recount the failings of his complicated lovelife, though, which raises the suspicion of disingenuousness.

Hayman’s lack of subtlety ends up getting the best of him, too, producing such embarrassing and bloated sentiments as “The Day That Thatcher Dies”, a snazzy, horn-infested pop ditty complete with a choir of children chanting: “ding dong the witch is dead/the wicked witch is dead.” Typical little man/Billy Bragg politics aside, this is cringeworthy stuff. Lassoing up the commoners is evidently Hayman's calling, but how hard is that? To make matters worse, Hayman possesses one of the most nasal-infected voices in all of British indie.

Hayman throws down almost all of his aces in the title track, which opens the album: “This is London, not Antarctica, so why don’t the tubes run all night/you are my girlfriend, not Molly Ringwald, so why don’t you stay here tonight…we love the city because it lets us down/we love the city, not the suburbs that surround.” Hayman’s voice is hard enough to cozy up to as it is without this kind of spastic delivery. He sounds like a neighing horse. Too bad too because with a catchier hook and a faster beat this could have easily been a classic with those lyrics.

Obviously, Hayman’s self-deprecating and ironic narrative is the star here, but it detracts from as much as it carries many songs. His constant limey nagging is shrill, and he revels in its crudeness without regret. The production is much improved, though. Hefner’s previously guitar-driven pop has expanded into a much fuller sound, where organs and horns and backing vocals play just as big a role as the strumming does. Unfortunately, the tempo has slowed down a bit too much, and the expansiveness makes for uneasy listening. Hefner’s never been afraid of ballads, but they were always couched in between peppy, Wedding Present-style rockers.

If Belle And Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch were to look into a funhouse mirror, he'd see Darren Hayman staring back and scream. Other influences are more directly accessible, however. The Velvet Underground and The Modern Lovers still make regular visits to Hayman’s turntable as evidenced by “Painting And Kissing” with its repetitive, fuzzy jangle and its uninhibited lyrical exploration. But just like the cute child actor that awkwardly coasts through his ugly early teens so to does Hefner on this junior year slump.

Saves The Day, Stay What You Are (Vagrant)

Saves The Day - Stay What You Are Saves The Day
Stay What You Are
Vagrant
By: Eric Greenwood

Congratulations, Saves The Day- you are going to be rich. It took five guys to create this ingratiating, starry-eyed mess. While clinging onto only the vaguest semblance of what can be construed as punk, Saves The Day serves up a batch of the most sickeningly sweet pop this side of The Promise Ring. With love them or hate them vocals (I hate them), Chris Conley sounds like a stopped-up, teenage Gomer Pyle, straining his way through some of the sappiest schlock that's ever been associated with punk rock.

If you can make it past the first forty-five seconds of "At Your Funeral" you may actually like this album. If I didn't have to review it, I would have thrown it out the window by the second word. Conley "sings" about an imaginary funeral for a friend, so that he can talk about holding hands "but it would be too painful to watch you die." You're at the funeral dumbass- she's already dead. "See You" is so perky and poppy that it'll make you long for a marathon of Faces Of Death films: "I don't think that I have got the stomach to stomach calling you today." Repeat ad nauseum. Ugh.

Check out these Seventeen Magazine lyrics written by grown men: "Her life was magazines and faithful TV screens/selling an empty dream of cars and calories" ("Cars & Calories"). Now imagine twenty tracks of that annoying voice harmonizing with itself in a chorus of "and it took bites out of her insides until she was just a hollow shell." I can see teenage girls welling up with tears right now. These guys are worse than sausage factory boy bands because they KNOW BETTER. Whatever gets the little girls to line up outside the van, eh guys?

The music on this album is of no consequence because you can't hear any of it over the forcibly catchy vocals. As each song passes, I am shocked and ashamed that five men all agreed that this was good. I can only hope they were held hostage by their producer and forced at gunpoint to suck through eleven songs. It's impossible to explain, otherwise. Who could utter this with a straight face: "and I'll sing out my song in case the birds want to sing along" ("Freakish")?

"Emo" doesn't even begin to describe how cloying and calculated this nauseatingly sentimental rubbish is. There's not a redeeming moment on Stay What You Are, but that won't stop it from being a huge hit- unless radio programmers are as revolted by Conley's nasally whine as I am. I just pray that they read the lyrics and promptly toss it in the trash. Here's another taste of Saves The Day's "poetry" for good measure: "To me you are the light from a light bulb that breaks sometimes/and the tender warmth inside is released into my life/and it smothers me in flames that lick and scorch my face/as the smoke reaches the sky, know I'll burn for you tonight."

If you have an ounce of pride or any respect for punk rock whatsoever, avoid this album. Don't even listen to a sample out of curiosity, thinking "it couldn't be that bad." Trust me, it is. If you don't heed this advice, then more bands will think that this is an acceptable way to use electric guitars.

——For Entertainment Purposes only——

DRAWER B READERS RESPOND:

(Before you send your complaints regarding this review please be sure to read how other STD fans have responded in order to minimize the duplication of sentiment. Much Appreciated. -The Editors)

whoever reviewed the saves the day album is totally ignorant and doesnt know what good music is. saves the day isnt punk its emo, and its some of the BEST music there is… reading your article made me physically angry because you remind me of those people who only listen to what mtv and carson daly tells them is cool. or for that matter just someone is ignorant and doesnt believe that differences are to be valued. id like to give the reviewer a big fuck off.
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you stupid faggot. Never talk about saves the day, or for that matter, ANY band, EVER again. Your apparent obsession with the actual lyrics to the song(s) makes me sick. Listen to the music fuckface, it’s good. The lyrics can be good and they can be not so good, how much does that have to do with the guitar playing? It flows together nicely, and in my opinion is very catchy. If you weren’t such a blind fuck to the fact that music is more than lyrics, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this now. Take your over-analytic, arrogant, convoluted ass to some empty parking lot and shoot yourself in the face. please.
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Your ‘Saves the Day – Stay What You Are’ review is unintelligible. I find it apalling that you would insult such an album. Chris Conley’s musical genius obviously far surpasses your mental capacity. Opinions I understand. But this is not an opinion – you are not even bothering to take into consideration the quality of the music. Rather, you are developing an opinion before listening.
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LOL…after reading that pathetic excuse to thrash Saves the Day, I just can’t stop laughing. Why even take the time out of your “precious” day to put a band down like that. Plus it’s QUITE obvious that your homophobic, sorry, I’d rather be gay. You should kick that Eric whatever his name is out on the god damn street……..actually keep him, he’s fun to laugh at. Anyway, if you don’t like an album, why don’t you simply put that, instead of racking your little brain for the most horrible things you could say about them. I pray to god that your under 15.
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OK…no! I don’t know what the hell you listen to but… oh GOD you have no idea what a good emo album should sound like, do you? i am, of course, refering to your “review” on saves the day. granted, it’s not as good as ‘through being cool’ (and don’t even THINK of saying that one sucked ‘cause if you do, I and about a million others are going to come to your house and RAPE YOU… don’t get excited) but is has a lot of good tracks, great vocals and good poetry. ugh. i’m gonna stop now.
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in my eyes any person who likes Bjork should never review a Saves the Day or Get Up Kids cd. get your head out of your ass and stop giving reviews for music you dont listen too. obviously any person who doesnt like a type of music will give a bad review for a band of that genre. for instance i think any Bjork cd blows, but thats only becuase i dont like that trippy electronic bullshit.
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ya know that feeling you get in your gut when you hear some really good music…. when notes go together so amazingly? I got that feeling when I first pressed play on the new saves the day cd. I liked the cd alot, I thought it was very well written. just because it strayed away from the punk origin of the band doesn’t mean you can’t give it a chance…
there are 3-4 songs that aren’t all that great… but I think the rest of the songs make up for them.

weren’t his lyrics always sappy?

I don’t care what kind of music it is…. if the notes work well…. and sound amazing… I tend to enjoy listening to it….

meh.
later.
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whoever reviewed saves the day – stay what you are…. is an ignorant moron.

that’s about it.
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I read Eric Greenwood’s review of Stay What You Are, and I found him to be a blithering fool. I have one question for you. Why did you write the review in the first place? Obviously, you don’t like Saves The Day, so why are you wasting your time reviewing the damn CD in the first place? Obviously it’s because of the fact that you are jealous that they have a band and are having fun and actually living life, while you sit on your ass in front of a computer and write reviews all day long. It sickens me when people like you write reviews about bands that you obviously aren’t into to begin with, and then say they suck. Obviously you understand the fact that people like different things, so the only reason you wrote the review, that I can understand, is that you are jealous of the fact that they are kick ass musicians. So go get a life.
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I think you are a deaf freak for saying that stuff about Saves the Day. Saves the Day is a heck of a lot better than all that other stuff out there, I think that you are probably the worst critic I have ever known.
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hey you know what? you don’t know crap about one of the best bands that has ever lived…you are too caught up in what is “punk” that you fell into the poster board crap that wants everyone to think of punk as one form of music that sounds exaclty the same….now you can make fun of words that you don’t understand or you can keep your idiotic opinions to yourself…this is the first time i’ve been to this site and already i think its crappy…and for your info. they have other cd’s that are less “pop sounding” as you so imbosilically put it. so go talk to a real kid whose really punk and ask them what punk means. they’ll tell you it means whatever. its how you feel and how you express it with a few simple insturments and a voice…and hey i don’t see you singing and making any money asshole…and besides they probably will get rich kroq already played them…so shut up…more people like this band then they like you.
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this site is so crappy! its made up of a bunch of whiners dissing everything! no wonder no one comes here! you guys suck major ass!
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Fuckface,
First of all every single review on your site sucks shit man. Your shitty little site is the worst thing I have ever seen. It is blatently clear that you have too much time on your hands. Get a life and listen to some good music. You claim Saves The Day isnt punk/emo but you dont have any good punk/emo bands reviewed on your s(h)ite. All you need is a stern ass raping and you should be on your way. I think maybe if you start farting blood it’ll get rid of the excess blood in your brain that is clogging up your judgement. So go back to your Bjork, Bauhaus, John Tesh and Duran Duran cd collection an throw them straight into the garbage with the rest of your shitty self and start over… but this time with good taste and merit, Get the cock out of your trap before you open it up again and let out such meaningless garble. Loser. Once again get a life.

You reek
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Who is this Eric Greenwood moron that wrote the Saves The Day review. He is truly a fucking idiot. The man simply has no taste or respect for music. Saves The Day is one of the best bands out there..they held up the Vagrant tour and held it up strong. The band has come a long way… the earlier STD stuff is incredible..I admit they may have stepped down a bit.. but it is for the better..and they deserve the success the will get or making such a perfect album.
So big fuck you goes out to Eric. jeah Lates.
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Eric Responds:
“i guess i hit a nerve with that one.”

Pinehurst Kids, Bleed It Dry (Barbaric)

Pinehurst Kids - Bleed It Dry Pinehurst Kids
Bleed It Dry
Barbaric
By: Eric Greenwood

Pinehurst Kids express teen angst and common sentimentality in far less obnoxious ways than peers and emo darlings, the Get Up Kids, despite the similarly poppy punk formula. Songwriter Joe Davis has a lightly strained voice when he punches it, and he writes poignant guitar hooks to match such vocal earnestness. Davis' shamelessly personal lyrical style is delivered in such tightly wound couplets that it's easy to ignore the mushy content, particularly when the music explodes, as it often does in its safe and tuneful way.

For their third album the Pinehurst Kids have sharpened all the dull edges that dogged previous releases: the music is tighter, catchier, and much more potent. Fans of pogo-in-place-pop-punk like Superchunk will be particularly pleased with the results. It's such harmless music you will be hard-pressed not to bob your head or at least tap your feet, even if you are cringing at the open-faced emotional display. The band straddles the line of cheese when the beats per minute slow down ("No Show"), but that's practically a given, as few bands ever master the art of the slow burner.

The Pinehurst Kids have yet to blow up the way many critics predicted after the band's debut, Minnesota Hotel, but being since labeled underdogs has evidently fuelled Davis' determination to prove them all wrong (or right depending on how you look at it). Bleed It Dry does its job in terms of showcasing the Pinehurst Kids' strengths at their best. "Spinning Out" alternates between an infectious guitar jangle and a vaporous chorus that never loses its rocking core. "Deconstruct" bolts out of the gate at top speed, but Davis' melodic ear manages to weave another instantly hummable chorus out of hammering riffs.

Energetic pop punk is as common as an argyle sweater on a Weezer fan, but pop punk that is melodic, succinct, catchy, and aggressive is noteworthy. Bleed It Dry is not an emotionally arresting or groundbreaking album, and it certainly won't be in your top ten of the year. However, the Pinehurst Kids come through on the promising signs of its first two albums. The future looks bright if Davis doesn't talk himself out of it.

Swell, Everybody Wants To Know (Beggars Banquet)

Swell - Everybody Wants To Know Swell
Everybody Wants To Know
Beggars Banquet
By: Eric Greenwood

I seriously doubt that anyone still cares, but Swell has never been a band that paid much attention to the masses. As underrated and under-appreciated as Swell has been over the past decade, I continue to be amazed every few years or so when some label actually releases another Swell record to an undeserving and indifferent public. Well, Swell is not even really a band anymore, as its revolving cast of characters has pretty much whittled its way down to just singer/songwriter David Freel, whose weary, lovelorn voice toils through yet another batch of bleary-eyed psychedelia.

Freel wears the badge of neglect proudly on Everybody Wants To Know. Almost every song putters along at the same sinister pace but without the immediate tunefulness of previous releases. Freel's still as cynical as ever, but his melodies seem to have blurred. The lo-fi acoustic backdrop you've come to expect joins fuzzed-out guitars, synthesizers and piano, odd syncopation, and even dub low end, but none of it seems to gel properly the first few listens. Freel's dark, obtuse lyrics don't have the same punch without the snappy hooks that infested classic Swell albums like 41 and Too Many Days Without Thinking.

"This Story" kicks off with some ubiquitous post-rock chugging and Freel's instantly recognizable/lazy drawl. One thing about Swell you should know: never listen to it when there's daylight outside. This is music made for the wee hours of the night, hopped up on caffeine, deprived of days of sleep, and on the verge of hallucination. With that in mind a song like "Someday Always Comes" makes much more sense. The repetitive acoustic plucking underpins a distant build-up in tension with distorted guitars, ghostly keyboards and, of course, Freel's lackadaisical whine. Such passive aggressive tension would just dissipate with the heat if listened to in the middle of a hot summer day.

Everybody Wants To Know could have used better editing, as several songs ramble on past the five-minute mark when three and a half minutes would have easily sufficed. Perhaps, the lack of bandmate input left Freel less objective about himself, causing songs like "Velvet Sun" to suffer from bloated indulgence (despite its eerie allure). But then "East N West" comes along and not only paints a randomly sublime word picture ("kinda slowly formed a path for it/stopped to goddamn rest, you were laughing/and only fools would wait but who's asking?/'cause surely he's a train that's worth catching") but also picks up the pace to a moderately rocking sway.

The breezy title track defies the rest of the album's sardonic temperament with a sense of resignation that permeates every one of Freel's words: "time gathers all/gonna stay my way, finally gone…" There's just not enough breadth here to distinguish the tracks from one another. There's no question that songs like "Call Me" and "Try Me" are haunting, compelling, and catchy, but when held up to Swell's own standards they don't move forward. It's fine for Freel to be content in his discontentment, but he could at least try to invent new ways to express it.

Apart from the artier and sleeker production techniques, Swell's sixth album shows no real evolution in terms of songwriting or sound. However, every listen opens up new doors (even if it takes way too long to find them). Is it worth it? Of course, it is still Swell after all. A sideways step from Swell is better than 90% of the trash that will likely cross your path. So, if you've never had the pleasure of a Swell album this is as good a place to start as any.

Bonny Billy, More Revery (Temporary Residence)

Bonny Billy - More Revery Bonny Billy
More Revery
Temporary Residence
By: Eric Greenwood

When a lauded songwriter puts out a collection of covers it usually indicates a bad case of writer's block, but since this EP follows hot on the heels of the long-awaited full-length, Ease Down The Road, Will Oldham proves that he's merely paying homage as opposed just to buying time. These six songs spring from random points in the musical spectrum, ranging from obscure reggae to schmaltzy country to underground modern rock and several layers in between. However, Oldham tweaks each song to suit his own off-kilter brand of inbred woe.

Oldham's take on John Phillips' "Someone's Sleeping", for example, brightens this brief and forgettable ode with twinkling piano and wounded yet hopeful vocals. The full band adds texture to the sparse music but tends to swallow Oldham's wavering croon. That problem is exacerbated on his interpretation of PJ Harvey's "Sweeter Than Anything", although, it is oddly charming to hear Oldham squeak as he stretches to hit the high notes. He knows he can't match Harvey's glazed over intensity note for note, so he makes it vulnerable and heart-rending instead.

Oldham's tortured rendition of Bill Withers' "Same Love That Made Me Laugh" is eerily affecting in its brief ascent into dirty blues-drenched guitars and warm organs, climaxing with Oldham's patented off-key wail. The Renderer's "A Dream Of The Sea" shakes the dirt off Oldham's and his cohorts' boots with a surprisingly jaunty gait. A cascade of echoing guitars just barely saves it from mediocrity, though. With nary a trace of irony Oldham covers Tim McGraw's "Just To See You Smile", a sappy, ingratiating love song from country's commercial line, and he sounds like he means every cheesy word.

Don't be fooled into thinking that Will Oldham's choices of songs here will clue you into the mystery of his manifold psyche. They are just random enough to be perfectly calculated, preventing such projections. A covers album (or EP) is probably more indulgent than it is reverent, especially from a man whose original material evokes such pure and primal emotions. This is an enjoyable listen however inessential to Oldham's indomitable canon.