Greta Van Fleet – “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” Album Review

A time when rock stars wore their hair down to their shoulders, and music allowed you to escape into heavy guitar riffs and deeply poetic lyrics. That is what Greta Van Fleet encompasses in their new album “Anthem of the Peaceful Army.”

The band faces constant comparisons to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page causing a response of appraisal or in some cases backlash, and although there will always be critics out to say the worst, Greta’s first work was a radiant start to something beautiful. The band of brother’s first EP “From the Fires” caused a boom in the rock world landing them on lineups across the country from Coachella to Lollapalooza. They received approval from Elton John, Tom Hanks, and even Robert Plant. It is apparent when listening to the band that they are inspired by a dense vinyl collection from rock of other generations.

The album begins with the feverous song, “Age of Man;” its slow start entices listeners to embark on a 10 song journey. It is the first of many layers the band created on the album. The record quickly moves towards the hard rock sound they’re known for, as songs such as “The Cold Wind” and “Lover, Leaver” show their ability to successfully pull off complex guitar solos. To juxtapose these heavier moments, rock ballads such as “Anthem” and “You’re the One” bring a sense of peace and tranquility to the album by having acoustic guitars string the songs along. The record additionally finds a middle ground between these two styles; the songs “Watching Over” and “Brave New World” utilize some eerie guitar riffs which bridges the styles into something in between.

Unfortunately, the band still has some work to be done on creating a more personal and unique aspect to their music and lyrics; something bands like the Beatles, Nirvana, and Cage The Elephant have seemed to accomplish through drawing personal stories hidden beneath their epical lyricism. As it is their first full length album, in time there’s a strong possibility that they will be able to use their platform to discover their own unique sound and voice in the rock world.

Rock music of the 70’s was inspired by political and social strife. Currently, we are experiencing a similar social divide among us. Greta Van Fleet’s desire to bring back the themes and sounds of that time only makes sense. It is about time that a band takes the risk of continuing on a sound that got lost in the future generations. The band has the potential to excel, they now just have to prove to the world they are ready to take it.  

Written by: Kelly Kerrigan

Post Elvis – “Apocalypse Kid” Album Review

Post Elvis’ sophomore album, “Apocalypse Kid,” comes solely from the mind of Thomas Torres, and artistically, he’s bounding ahead towards musical greatness. Despite the album’s more experimental sound, especially when compared to his debut, Torres has crafted a riveting and cohesive listening experience for anyone who dares enter his musical wasteland.

In Post Elvis’ self-titled debut, Torres stated that people live in “an era of endless references, a dead pop cultural graveyard left for us to inspect.” Moving onto this latest project, it’s easy to see how heavily Torres leans into this idea, as he samples the familiar and the obscure to create something fresh and interesting. While Torres does utilize his well of pop culture references within his lyrics, the musical sound and style of “Apocalypse Kid” embraces the experimental. Songs such as “Delaware” begin with screeching alarms which transitions into a hip-hop beat, yet this doesn’t feel at odds with the droning, noise-rock of, “Wasteland Man.” Similarly, the 16-bit inspired “Max Pills” drops listeners straight into something that sounds as though it was remixed off an arcade machine just before it turns into a frantic dance song.

Sonically, this album sounds fantastic. Audiophiles may revel in the fact that Torres composed, recorded, mixed, and mastered this album himself; an impressive feat which is heightened when one notices the flairs added to this project. Hearing samples of swords, countdown timers, disconnected phonelines, and (dare I guess?) lasers(!) integrated into the tracks demonstrates Torres’ advancing skills as a producer. Even from the opening track “Live by the Bomb, Die by the Bomb,” and the album’s subsequent interludes, Torres works his magic layering, warping, and finally distorting sample after sample of speeches and soundbites. And fortunately, he doesn’t stop there, as he delivers complex songs which build and deconstruct themselves naturally, without ever overstaying their welcome. Even on slower songs such as “Know Equals Love,” the introduction entrances the listener in a dream-like state, as Torres builds the song up from a rough-sounding, drum pattern, to this almost upbeat-sounding movement whose notes all trail off like a question mark on an incomplete sentence.

Overall, “Apocalypse Kid” is a phenomenal next step for Post Elvis. However, for all intents and purposes, it needs to be noted that this is a bleak album. Tracks include Torres’ wailing, drawn-out, almost broken sounding instrumental recordings — even the “dance” track I mentioned earlier, “Max Pills,” has a frantic, almost anxiety inducing nervous energy pulsing throughout. Lyrically, the themes throughout this album are equally heavy, with dissociation, loneliness, and pain being the paths Torres prefers to lead listeners down. Should however, one believe themselves capable of stomaching the subject matter, then one will find an absolute gem of an album.

If you want more Post Elvis, you can look at him here…
 
Or hear his music on bandcamp at https://postelvis.bandcamp.com/

Back from the Dead: Citizen’s ‘As You Please’

Citizen has been an ever-evolving band since the release of their 2013 album, “Youth.” The dark themes paired with heavy instrumentation and lyricism made it a fan favorite. Songs such as “Sleep” and “The Summer” set the tone early for a band still craving experimentation.

In their second album, “Everybody is Going to Heaven,” Citizen took an even heavier approach. Mat Kerkes’s vocals were much more morbid with heavy bass instrumentation. The album was almost haunting. “As You Please,” however, is the perfect mixture of the pop punk and post-grunge sound Citizen has been dabbling in.

The album opens up with their lead single “Jet” which has to be one of the best songs on the track list. Fuzz-toned guitars manned by Ryland Oehlers and Nick Hamm steadily start the song off as the drums and bass create the full sound. The shoegaze-esque instrumentation is accompanied by Mat Kerkes’ well-developed voice. He shows off his pipes and even a falsetto in the chorus, proving he has matured as a vocalist. Tracks like “In the Middle of it All,” “World” and “Flowerchild” also show off his vocal talent.

Many fans love the nostalgic sound of “Youth,” but those who say it’s better than their most recent release are completely wrong. Here’s why. “As You Please” is a post-grunge effort with heavy yet atmospheric instruments that are crisp and well-defined. For example, “Fever Days” starts with ethereal plucking that was previously unheard in Citizen’s discography. A heavy bass-driven riff then cuts off the entrancing guitar as it subtly rings throughout the song. It fills up the empty sound accompanied only by sustained guitar notes and drums. Kerkes’ aggressive vocals is the last, satisfying touch to this perfect Citizen song.

“World” is another passionate song that is well written both musically and lyrically. With its bright guitars, crisp drums, rich bass and ambient backing vocals, the song is finalized with some of my favorite thought-provoking lyrics. In the post-chorus, Kerkes sings “Split me open/Let the air out/I’m your old friend,” with so much gut wrenching grit and emotion that I can’t help but shed a few tears. His songwriting is some of the most profound and eloquent out there and, for once, it forces me to pay attention to the words, not just the instruments.

“Fever Days” and “World” are definitely favorites for their unique musicality – which was missing from the band’s previous albums. I appreciate bands that aren’t afraid to experiment in different genres, but still maintain their established sound, like Citizen. “As You Please” shows fans that change is necessary. In a scene that tends to always sound the same, this album is step forward in musical experimentation and progress.

Favorites: “Jet,” “In the Middle of it All,” “Fever Days” and “World”

Least Favorites: “I Forgive No One” and “You are a Star”

Featured Image by Chloe Muro.

It’s All It’s Cracked Up To Be

After releasing their first self-titled EP in 2006, Fleet Foxes quickly swept the indie folk scene. It wasn’t until 2008 when they released their second EP “Sun Giant” did the band start to make a greater impact in the indie music world.

After their 2011 release “Helplessness Blues,” the band’s then drummer and now superstar extraordinaire Josh Tillman a.k.a. Father John Misty decided to leave. Fleet Foxes then went into hibernation not too soon after.

Fronted by Robin Pecknold, who sings and plays guitar, along with now permanent members, Skyler Skjelset (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Casey Wescott (keyboards), Christian Wargo (bass guitar) and Morgan Henderson (upright bass, woodwinds, violin, percussion), Fleet Foxes have risen out of their hiatus with a new piece of artistry titled “Crack-Up.”

This album works to be something separate from prior releases, but still holds true to the band’s indie folk roots. With tracks like “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” the wave of instrumentation washes over with a driving piano and bass lines that carry Pecknold’s voice and remind listeners what Fleet Foxes are all about. The song is like the ebb and flow of waves on a shore. Moments of nothing but an acoustic guitar and whisper-like vocals cut to the same driving guitars and percussion.

Other notable tracks include “Fool’s Errand,” an eerily upbeat rhythm that crescendos into a love song driven by Robin’s drawn-out lyrics. Although past albums were as genuine and raw, this album’s lyrics stand out as even more emotionally charged. When the hard hitting music subsides and it’s just Pecknold’s voice, this album has something more intimate.

If you’re already a fan of Fleet Foxes, dive right in to this album and don’t look back. If you’re looking for an album to sink your teeth into and want to find your new favorite band please be sure to give Fleets Foxes’ newest effort “Crack-Up” a wholehearted listen.

Featured Image: https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/03/fleet-foxes-detail-new-album-crack-up-share-sprawling-third-of-mayodaigahara-listen/