washington

It's 2019 and Pen Palindrome still makes rainy day loops and pleasingly sad songs with a guitar

Pen Palindrome sets the stage for catharsis with a series of soothing, subtly sad loops on Live @ Third Rail's opening track, “Pavement". Taking her time, Palindrome's airy vocals creep in with the words, “I can feel you. In my childhood home I still feel you.” After some skillful wandering, Palindrome dives deeper into her sound on the quintessentially indie track “Anna I'm Sorry”. Painting simple strokes on the bittersweet canvas that she has created, Palindrome sings “Anna I'm sorry, we couldn't work it out,” and the result is convincing. The rest of the release is a series of similar, successful tracks, closed out by a nice III chord feature on “Song for Mozart”.

The word indie has changed quite a bit over the years, but applying the description to this release seems appropriate. There is real music being made here, a great achievement.

Standout tracks: Anna I'm Sorry, Song for Mozart

-Mike Dranove

Satisfying “melodic punk rock” from American Television

Sporting the “melodic punk rock” tag on Bandcamp, six year old American Television provides a satisfying mix of punk and sentimentality on their latest release, Death Defier. A mere two tracks, the release's size reflects the character of the band's songs, simple, to the point, and effective. There is emotion in the music, something that is always welcome as many amateur groups are only willing to grapple with emotions superficially. The hooks are nice, the lyrics are relatable, and the chord changes are twinged with a hint of emotion. In short, there is honesty and a decent amount of work put into the music, can't ask for much more.

-Mike Dranove

Outstanding soul release from Alecia Renece

Alecia Renece's Matter EP is simply superb. Renece has a tremendous voice, commitment to poetic lyricism, songwriting versatility, a sweet, sweet penchant for harmonizing with herself, and, to top it all off, professional quality mixing and mastering on her tracks.

The voice is probably what makes this release so satisfying. The voice is good. Like, really good. Renece moves seamlessly through notes, mostly hitting them spot on, giving them love and attention. And really, the voice says it all about what's going with the release in general; it's saying, very simply, Alecia Renece's “The Artist” LLC is not the real estate equivalent of some dirty groundfloor unit with paper thin walls in a building built before they discovered lead was bad; rather it's a woven vinyl floored penthouse with marble countertops right next to that Italian place I went to on Valentine's day at Waterfront.

And let's talk about the poetry here, can we talk about the poetry? There are some great lines, like, “Premium cut, you're favorite slice, I break myself to pieces baby baby so that you can have whatever you like.” And the diversity of songwriting styles, Renece brings the energy up on the eminently pleasing track, “You're Welcome,” and brings it back down to feature those sweet vocal harmonies on “Longest End”. That's all to say nothing of the opening track itself. Seriously folks, clench your bowels before listening, it's that good.

This reviewer wasn't hot on every track, but overall a great release, plain and simple.

Notable tracks: "Why you gotta go", "You're Welcome", "Longest End".  

-Mike Dranove

Beers in your face on Cal Rifkin's "Sleeper Hold"

The Replacements, $3 malt liquor, summer vacation, Cal Rifkin's music conjurs sounds and memories, a commendable accomplishment. All the ingredients for success are there and are intuitively executed. The driving, lo-fi rock sound, the sentimental lyrics, the secretly sick guitar solo, oh the fond memories that I'm sure it would evoke in me if I had any fond memories of high school and college parties. Rifkin has the basics down, and the result is music made with passion; music that can satisfy the short-attention spans of the inebriated; music that can engage you while also secretly helping you to achieve catharsis. To this I say well done sir!

-Mike Dranove

No Beyond by Bound is legit post-rock

I didn't know it was possible to make good music with even more reverb than Mogwai, but Bound does it, quite well I might add. Nuthin like a good ol fashioned post-rock buildup into climax to make an impact on your overloaded senses.  As Ronald Reagan once said, “One thing 'bout music when it hits you feel no pain.” And you gotta appreciate the thought and effort they are putting into the tracks; this is some primo sound design, expense not spared here. Seriously, I listened with headphones and I was basking in the tone quality. Even if you don't love post-rock, check this out.

Stand out tracks: Current, Hold

-Mike Dranove

 

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