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Artist of the Month
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March 2015
Blood Sound
"Nightclub
"
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Blood Sound’s post-punk tracks are informed by an audible nostalgia for the dance floors and goth clubs of the latter ‘80s. Their latest LP Nightclub is a hybrid of dark wave and dream pop. Marrying synth-drenched harmonies with emotively vibrant lyricism, the subtle romantics of the band’s debut full-length fit seamlessly with the buzzing percussive backbeats of earlier cuts by Cold Cave (circa Love Comes Close) or The Cure’s “Primary” stripped bare to its core.
 
“TV Synth 1” sets the tone for Nightclub’s narrative with a brief yet textured prelude to “I Don’t Want.” Relatable like an antithesis of The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” Blood Sound’s “I Don’t Want” personifies the complexities of yearning, desire, and loneliness. As frontman Chris Jordan croons “I don’t want the city’s lights to go down/I don’t want to find home,” guitar riffs magnify the weight of his words without casting them melodramatic. The track is a fitting anthem for the passing of youth, failed love, and transition.
 
The buzzing start of “L.A. Punk” explores that thin line between authenticity and commoditization, the song’s instrumentation paying homage in its own way to the early underground and its subsequent subcultures. As if channeling a sedated rendition of Peter Murphy’s tone and diction, “L.A. Punk” is as memorable as it is brooding. “Acid Summer” gives an inward glimpse at the intimate nature of grief, mortality, and memory. When Jordan sings, “The 1980s died that day,” the listener feels it in their gut. It’s undeniable. The connection between what is experienced and how that experience is remembered is amplified by the track’s thumping tempo.
 
“Empty” plays out like the perfect soundtrack to an inevitable breakup, coupling affection with exhaustion, with the synth framing the heart-wrenching truth of lines like “I was too in love to say/that your story was a bore/Now I gave up on bad dreams and endings/beginnings and beginnings.” It offers a viable catharsis for jilted lovers with a penchant for fuzzed-out refrains.
 
“TV Synth 2” precedes the lyrically minimal yet heavy “Embrace” which serves as Nightclub’s melodic memento mori. “Almost” is subdued yet gripping, slowing the momentum of the record in advanced of “TV Synth 3,” which unfolds like a VHS fever dream. “Fake Blood” is evocative, with reverb and a pulsating backbeat that swells as the song progresses. Arguably the darkest track on the album, Jordan’s diction is hypnotic, “Kill your dreams and wait for/the fake blood to pour out.”
 
Ending with the well-placed “Catacombs,” Nightclub’s final track encapsulates the thrill of beginnings and the way one remembers them. Set to a beat reminiscent of Joy Division’s quintessential single “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Catacombs,” much like the songs that precede it, is reason alone to return to Nightclub. - Dianca London Potts

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Album Review: Get Disowned - Hop Along

Album Review: Get Disowned - Hop Along

A simple interwoven electric guitar riff accents rough, acoustic guitar strums, and then singer/songwriter Frances Quinlan’s wispy, lilting vocals enter the equation like a glimpse of sunlight parting the clouds of an overcast sky. Thus, begins Hop Along’s latest full-length album Get Disowned.
 
Opener “Some Grace,” a subtle bare-boned introduction, shares a bit of the fragility and vulnerability that can be found in Quinlan’s lyrics. The song morphs into faint electronic bleeps dissolving into a serene calm. However, the pending storm arises with the following track and the album’s lead single “Tibetan Pop Stars,” which cuts through the tranquility with boisterously dirty power chords and rolling thunder drumbeats. Once again, the vocals seem to play peacemaker, a calming force among the turmoil. That is, until the chorus takes flight, then falls to earth with the repeated lines “nobody deserves you the way that I do,” which gradually rises from the ashes of a broken heart. “No Good Al Joad” is paced by steady downhill bursts of acoustic guitar that is pierced by the interloping hammer of a pickaxe electric guitar. Quinlan’s vocals strain in an effect that expresses the emotive tug and pull of the narrative. This all comes to a head after a brief percussive interlude, which captures the ear signaling for audience participation. She reveals, “You are my favorite, because you are a long shot. You are my enemy, because you forgot.” This is just before pulling back into a corner to protect herself as she gathers the strength to share a bit of philosophical wisdom and universal truth: “Everybody is a little hard to love sometimes.”
 
With the precise production work of Algernon Cadwallader’s Joe Reinhart, Get Disowned is a balance between agitated artillery-style rock with intimate, late night confessional vocals that dig their nails into your skin while simultaneously whispering sweet nothings into your ear. Despite the constant presence of distinctly tenacious guitar thrashes, Quinlan’s lyrical message remains a priority. It is often aided by the fact that the vocals are directed at the listener. In this manner, Hop Along invites us into an emotionally turbulent household leaving no curtains drawn or door locked.
 
You can purchase Get Disowned via Hot Green Records. Hop Along will also be celebrating its release tomorrow night at The First Unitarian with Bandname, Little Big League and Mary Lattimore. - Michael Colavita

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