Cold Mailman have members of The Spectacle and Beyond the Fences, both of which have made appearances on this blog. “great”, you’re thinking, “another hard-hitting punk rock mammoth from Norway!” but you’re wrong. Cold Mailman are more easily compared to Kråkesølv and IHAB, also posted on this blog, and also from Bodø, Norway. unlike those two bands Cold Mailman have English lyrics, and so you may find them more easy to relate to if you’re not Norwegian. another band that you may or may not know, that are actually a fairly good comparison, are Lukestar – another band who Cold Mailman members used to play in. but before this name-dropping extravaganza gets entirely out of hand, let’s return to Cold Mailman themselves. playing guitar-rooted indie pop in 2011 (well, this album is from 2010, but OK) is a dangerous affair. in the ’80s and ’90s you were trying your best not to sound like every one else of your contemporaries, but nowadays you have to be wary of not only your contemporaries, but also the legacy of twee, shoegaze and straight up indie pop has built over the years. so Cold Mailman are a brave band. and, thankfully, they’re not only a brave band, but also a very good band. a brave Norwegian band who have figured out how to not sound exactly like The Smiths or Club 8 or [insert all other English '80s indie pop bands and all Swedish '90s twee bands here]. let me just go ahead and boldly declare right away: this album is FUCKING AMAZING. the opening track sets the standard. a dreamy and droning masterpiece that culminates in the almost pathetically self-loathing “beyond the sea / somebody’s laughing at the dice I rolled”, before spending a minute just soaring out of the ocean and into the sky, away, out of sight, out of mind before the next track, the stark contrast “Pull Yourself Together and Fall in Love With Me”, a track that is so different from the former, that it’s almost scary that these pieces fit so ingeniously together. still dreamy, still somewhat pathetic lyrics, but an upbeat pop song, with a much richer sound. and this is the main formula employed by Cold Mailman throughout this album. melodic and twinkly guitars, soft centred bass, upbeat but subdued drums, mesmerising and relaxed (male) vocals – sometimes vocal harmonies – sometimes female and male vocal harmonies. Cold Mailman are soft and relaxed at all times. even when nervously faltering into a noisy crash, like on “Fatal Conversation”. Relax is generally classifiable as twee (or just call it indie pop if you are one of those who hates the “twee” name with a fiery passion), but sometimes it makes an expanded journey to other soundscapes; e.g. oldies pop (“Salva Me”), droning (“What Now, Muhammed?”) and bluesy rock (“Back in Your Bed”). and though never quite recovering from how perfect the first two tracks really are, Relax is a truly inspiring album nonetheless, packed with high quality songs, performed with a believable dedication and love. soft and relaxed, but often overwhelmingly gorgeous. check this out.
archive for June, 2011
while recognising the greatness of Kråkesølv’s magnificent début Trådnøsting, there were certain drawbacks to it. the flatness of the mixing being the biggest one, and the prettiness being the second. but I understand now that my expectations were probably quite off. and I’m proven further wrong in my expectations for them to deliver as a jangly emo mess. with Bomtur Til Jorda (which translates to “Wasted Journey to Earth”, or something like that), Kråkesølv takes another step away from anything punk, and firmly plants their feet in the realm of radio-friendly and poppy indie rock. while I can’t pretend my musical leanings aren’t towards the messier side of things, I can still appreciate what Kråkesølv are doing here. the lyrical style Kråkesølv have always relied on is still dominant; part poetic, part stumbling over their feet in Norwegian. musically it’s fairly crisp and on point radio pop, with some minor hints at something more noisy, best illustrated on the riveting “Nordavind Mot Kalde Kinn” (“Northern Wind Against Cold Cheeks”), a track released prior to the album itself. apropos, I find it somewhat unfortunate that they released that very track prior to the album, due to it being a lot rawer than either of the other tracks, fuelling my ill-placed expectations, resulting in a somewhat disappointed first listen. thankfully, the songs grew. a lot. when I came to accept this album for what it was – a clear departure from their punk leanings, and a giant step towards radio pop – I found enjoyment in it. but it’s probably not coincidental that the songs that stand out in my opinion are the rawer and the more experimental ones, like the before-mentioned “Nordavind Mot Kalde Kinn”, as well as “Mannekeng” (“Male Model”) and “(Uten Tittel)” (“(Untitled)”). actually, this album is near perfect from the sweeping noisy mess at the end of “Romskipet Revideres” (“Revising the Space Ship”) through the absolutely gorgeous instrumental genius at the end of “(Uten Tittel)” (i.e. from the end of track 4 up to and including track 7). before and after this there are some great songs, no doubt about it, but that part of the album is infinitely superior and would be a brilliant effort on its own. sometimes me and my misled expectations kind of wish it were.
Norwegian screamo champions Dominic are back! and they’re marching forth in their easily recognisable style. anthem-y compositions carried by melodic guitars, and frantic cymbals-reliant drumming with a loud snare, with shouted and screamed vocals that somehow manages to come off as both passionate and catchy (as opposed to just contrived and annoying). Dominic have it all figured out. this is a two song 7″, and so there isn’t a whole lot more to write for a Dominic superfan like me. they do what they’re supposed to do – blow me the fuck away with epic instrumental parts that kamikaze into shouting and desperation clothed by a heavy fucking mess. don’t get me wrong though, it’s not *that* heavy or messy. in fact, I’ve seen a lot of reviewers reacting negatively to Dominic being too “soft” to be this or that [fairly average but for some reason insanely popular on the Internet] band. well, I doubt Dominic tries being either of those bands. nor do I think Dominic are trying to be tough guy hardcore and have crush chugga-chugga breakdowns. this is purposefully melodic and pretty music. Dominic play bleak and misanthropic, but gorgeous music. check this out as soon as you can! buy it from http://apocaplexy.blogspot.com/2011/05/preorder-dominic-st-7-lentic-waters-st.html if you can.
everyone’s favourite screamo band Fight Fair are BACK. and just like we’ve gotten used to, Fight Fair are doing something completely new, once again pushing the boundaries of screamo – if not the boundaries of music itself. their first effort was a magnificent pop screamo EP. then came a glorious pop hardcore EP. and then the by all means revolutionary pop surf masterpiece California Kicks. on Broken, Fight Fair take the best of all of these releases and fucking destroy everything, in a part Mineral, part Descendents and part Punch record that will definitely stand the test of time. from the good-natured guitar solos of screamo king Evan to the anthem vocals by screamo queen Alex, this is just perfection. one thing that is extremely obvious is the honesty in the lyrics, and the heartbreaking delivery. combine this sense of realness with the awesomeness of the sensational-as-always melodies, and you have something extremely engaging and passionate. add sludge breakdowns and some power pop violence (or blast pop), and you have the most important EP of the year. maybe even since September’s self titled EP from 1995. that’s right, this might be the best EP since 1995. Fight Fair puts the creamo back in screamo! GET THIS!!!