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 the ‘alternative’ category
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.
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!!!
who’s ready for some more fun? yessss. the amazing lead guitar is still catchy as all hell. the vocal harmonies are as sing-a-long-inviting as always; maybe even a little more than on the EP? this is Audio Recording Club’s full length album. it is in many ways a one up on the EP. it does much of the same, but it does it even better. painfully direct lyrics are almost spat out by equally painfully direct vocals over astonishingly catchy and well-carried out lively compositions that know exactly when to break it down, when to pick it up a notch, and when to blast out super cool guitar solos. it’s sort of comparable to Taking Back Sunday at times as well. this 48:48 minutes and 11 track long album has been referred to as “glorious” on multiple occasions. even by people not in the band. that’s got to count for something? GET THIS! two of the songs from the EP were rerecorded for this album. this is – unlike the EP – actually possible to buy. from http://hylapark.bigcartel.com/product/audio-recording-club-in-the-end-we-are-all-light for just $1 plus shipping!
I’m probably supposed to compare this to something equally unknown and underground, but to hell with that. I would like to compare it to My Chemical Romance’s first album – sans the obsession with death and other goth-y themes. the riffs are catchy, creative and exciting. the vocals harmonies are just perfect. the compositions themselves are clever and memorable, and carried perfectly by the sharp drums and discrete bass guitar. the vocal harmonies as well as the voice are somewhat reminiscent of Aiden without the screaming. I think it’s not really “in” to like Aiden or My Chemical Romance, but whatever. they are two really popular bands that are comparable to this in some ways. I could go on searching for which random early 2000s alternative band with a cult status amongst its twenty listeners that sounds like this… but eh… no. my point is, if you hate My Chemical Romance and/or Aiden (for whatever reason), you should still give this a go. because while it is comparable to said bands, it doesn’t sound exactly like them. not at all. but the awesome, ultra-catchy and gutsy guitar solos, and overall perfection of the lead guitar can be compared to My Chemical Romance – and the easily memorable vocal harmonies are comparable to the pop-greatness that Aiden are. Audio Recording Club are in no way a mascara-wearing, death-obsessed MTV goth-y pop band though. this is far more no frills independent alternative rock with some teeny weeny emo leanings. this is a 100% fun rock album. the second half of “Vampire Song” is probably the *definition* of fun. to conclude: you need to hear this. super catchy and forever memorable. by the way, this is straight out of PA, and features members of Street Smart Cyclist, which can be downloaded a bit further down. and – you can’t buy it. it was an extremely small run of CD-Rs that was never put out “properly”.
out of New Haven, Connecticut stems Deadlights. they are a highly melodic punk rock band with lots of gang vocals and ultra catchy hooks. I feel comfortable comparing them to Four Minute Mile, Dream to Make Believe, I Brought You My Bullets – You Brought Me Your Love, In the End – We Are All Light, Through Being Cool, and most obviously, the absolutely fantastic Tell All Your Friends. so Deadlights find themselves in very good company right there. The Noisy Shore is far more punk rock sounding than most of those albums, but it has many of the same qualities. in fact, The Noisy Shore can easily relate to the sing-a-long friendliness of the lyrics, and the unforgettable and perfect delivery of them that appears on Tell All Your Friends. it also have some of the awesome guitar solos of I’ve Brought You My Bullets… – and so on. this record is simply marvellous. a fucking thrasher from start to finish, full of energy. this is something memorable. get this!
today is a day to remember forever. today is the release date of Fight Fair’s full full-length album, California Kicks. and what a kick it is! with Settle the Score, Fight Fair almost completely ditched their pop skram sound in favour of a pop hardcore sound, but left room for other experiments. one of those experiments was the surf-pop monster hit “Pop Rocks”. the band decided that this was the song that was the most fun to play, and decided that this was what they wanted to do on their full-length. Ramones mixed with The Beach Boys is the way the band describes their surfcore sound, and that description isn’t all that far off. but like with Settle the Score, the band allows themselves to experiment a lot on the record. they try the lot. punk rock-tinged power pop like Undertones and The Jam, dancefloor hip-pop that’s somewhere between The Ting Tings and Black Eyed Peas, and pure ’90s melodic punk rock and alternative between Lifetime and The All-American Rejects’ early stuff. but the very core of their sound is the insanely catchy mind blowing surfcore sound, with lyrics about romance, being young, OOP vinyl, surfing and hanging at the beach. let me assure you, Fight Fair are very much successful in reintroducing what they call “the best of the beach”. namely, “the playfulness, the parties, the people and, most of all, the pop-laced singalongs”. Fight Fair are to surf rock what The Young Hasselhoffs are to doo-wop. California Kicks brings back a near forgotten era, and illuminates it like never before. Fight Fair are surfcore’s beacon, lighthouse and flagship. serving as an ode to Californian summers, and the careless playfulness of ’50s and ’60s surf rock. if you like newer Weezer albums, you’ll love Fight Fair. if you like surf rock, you’ll love Fight Fair. if you like fun, you’ll LOVE Fight Fair! get this! now! and get ready to P-P-P-PARTY!!! buy it from http://www.myspace.com/fightfair – along with some frisbees, beach balls and other must-have Fight Fair memorabilia. whether they are making fun or having fun isn’t remotely interesting. what is interesting is the 100% quality of this amazing album. GET IT! Fight Fair’s first EP was the epitome of pop skram. their second was the epitome of pop hardcore. this is the epitome of LIFE. Fight Fair for LIFE.
in the name of fun, here is some more Fight Fair! they are back to settle the score with their follow up, in which only two of the members featured on xFashionx appears. that may be one part of the explanation as to why they sounds like a completely different band on Settle the Score. the fact that they’ve changed so much might obviously lead to the loss of some fans, as well as the gaining of some fans. what this essentially means is that if you disliked the first record, you might still love this – giving you *no* excuse to not download this. even if you absolutely hated their first record, you still need to download this. no excuses. anyway, despite all the differences (which I’ll get back to), there are a few similarities that I might as well get out of the way at once. they are still catchy, poppy and totally awesome. the track “San Diego” appears in a re-recorded format. there are still ’90s punk rock influences galore. and that’s about it. now for the differences – this release marks an obvious change of sound. one could say that they go from the epitome of pop skram to the epitome of pop hardcore. bands like Set Your Goals and Four Year Strong might be mentioned, but Fight Fair are far superior. with lyrics «we just wanna have some fun/we’re still young and on the run/we just gotta have some fun/everyone», they are definitely not clouding their message with pseudo-poetic mumbo jumbo, but instead favouring the direct approach. with vocals that have been through many a vocoder/pitch altering software, punk rock guitars that play the most perfect melodies, and heavy as shit drums – Fight Fair are a loud, intense and fun affair. varying between the fast breakdown-heavy pop hardcore sound, a more “ordinary” ’90s punk rock sound, a skramzy sound, and the ultra-catchy and refined surf pop sound. «don’t bother with the other boys/I’m better than them», pleads vocalist Alex Bigman in the heartfelt emotional distress masterpiece “Pop Rocks”. now I’m pleading you, don’t bother with the other bands, this one’s better than them. get this at once! Fight Fair for the win!
one of the key ingredients for good music is in my opinion feedback from guitars. and plenty of it. based on the simple scientifically proven parallel between awesomeness and guitar feedback, we can safely state that Eagulls are a really awesome band. sounding like a mix between The Cortlandt Homes, Dinosaur Jr. and American Steel, Eagulls and their fifteen minute début is a very pleasant distinctly English affair. fuzzy and catchy guitars, soft and melodic bass, clever and tight drumming and quite great punk rock vocals. what’s not to like? you need to hear this band. you can visit their MySpace http://www.myspace.com/eagulls to get cassettes and more info etc.