LPs: Jacob Peter’s “Wind Song”


Humble Bragger’s Jacob Peter released his solo debut, “Wind Song” about a week ago, and every time I listen to it, it just gets better. Honestly, I’m sure that if I were to write this review a month from now, I’d give it an even higher score. I mean, I have a lot to say about this LP, more than I can fit here, but I’ll give it a shot.

“Wind Song” is a Beatles-inspired, Wilco-approved, Fleet Foxes-coveted masterpiece. From the opening pop chords of “Stella” to the closing falsetto “oohs” of “Wind Song (Part 2),” Peter covers a vast distance, both musically, lyrically, and emotionally. In terms of texture and sonics, “Wind Song” is pretty straightforward, (save for the banjo’s utilization on the final two tracks) which certainly does no harm to the album. The clean chords and distant leads enhance the atmosphere quite beautifully, resulting in a pensive, reflective mood perfect for a night commute or a relaxing evening at home. And while those scenarios are great and cute for a reviewer to point out and everything, it doesn’t scratch the surface of what makes this album such a triumph.

So, in order to really talk about what makes this album great, we should address what defines greatness manifest in a recorded work. Generally, a true album will take on a common thread, be that in form of narrative, motif, or mere stream of consciousness. Though composed of separate and distinct songs, this thread will join these separate bodies as one. And Peter’s narrative is one that flows seamlessly and without interruption. What begins as a classic tale of unrequited love, loneliness, and general mopery blossoms into a revelatory epiphany of self acceptance and interpersonal connection. Which brings us to the most important element that sets masterworks apart from all other mundane 45 minute collections of recorded media: the ability to tap into the human psyche, to touch the listeners soul. Anyone can tell you that a listener should be able to relate to a song or an album’s topics of inspiration, (hence many artists discussing break-ups, loneliness, loss, etc.) but this is far different from connecting with the listener. Not a lot of artists are doing that these days, (there are a few, however) and let alone in a local music setting. This means that the artists that do connect stand miles above all others. And I can say with much certainty, that Jacob Peter stands among them. “Wind Song” is an instant Buffalo classic, delving deep into the yearns of the spirit, the need for each soul to truly become itself, to love, to dream, to exist, to “sing [its] wind song.”

This review is different from others in the sense that it is not a track-by-track guide to the album, and this is because this album is not meant to be taken in such a way. One “Wind Song” track cannot exist without its counterparts. “Wind Song,” in all its quirky, charming, passionate, artistic beauty may just be the Buffalo album of the year.


Recommended for fans of: Wilco, Fleet Foxes

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DEMOs: Parade Chic’s “One And Only Secret Dream”

parade chic
Psychologists say that every person begins to develop their own taste for music around age 12 or so. Generally, this is built on the preferences of our closest peers, most often opting to consume the easily-accessible passive listening experience of whatever hyperglycemic confection is being spewed from the top 40. However, occasionally we can far exceed the influence around us and rise above the consumerism brought to the music industry by the turn of the century and the internet to voraciously pursue all that we can get our ears on. Those of us that do usually take it as far as we can, squandering 50, 60, 70% of our paychecks at record stores, realizing that Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound appear on our search bar before Facebook and Gmail. And there comes a time when you realize that you’ve hit that point. The point where hundreds of CDs and LPs are beginning to take up all your shelf space; said albums are arranged in either alphabetical or chronological order, with key albums displayed in frames or turned into clocks; you find that you read about music as much as you listen to it; you can sit in your room with a Radiohead LP and listen to it start to finish without leaving or even checking your phone; chances are you’re a musician yourself and have spent exponentially more cash in hopes of being able to make something of, or dare you even say better than, the quality of the music in your collection; you’ve studied The Beatles and Neutral Milk Hotel as though they were Holy Scriptures, practiced your Morrissey-inflections, and learned all of Isaac Brock’s oddball guitar tactics. You’re an addict.

If this is sounding all too familiar, you’re in the perfect place to appreciate Parade Chic.

Secret Dream, though only a demo, proves to be spectacular first listen. And second listen. And third listen. And fourth. Et cetera, et cetera. Soaked in reverb and coated in melancholy, the demo wraps you into its world and pulls you along what may very well be of the few essential Buffalo Releases of this year, largely due to its nods to the past. Offers” opens with a collage of cymbals reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Reckoner,” before jolting into a Wilco-doing-a-Beatles-hit verse and chorus, resolving the same way it came in. As “Dilemmas” begins, ties are instantly made to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, until the warbly keyboard opens the sonic boundaries of the song. Low in the mix, clanging guitars and high frequency modulations can be excavated, demonstrating that a lot of this demo is about sleight of hand. While you were busy concentrating on the simple bop of the acoustic guitar chords and vocal melody, extra terrestrial synthesizers finally apprehended the mix, just in time for the album’s highlight: “The Birds.” The minor key descent of mood becomes sinister as muted mariachi brass infringes on the song’s bridge and drags it through stretches of time. All throughout the track, you can find tonal nods to The Smiths, Modest Mouse, and (more of a stretch) The Doors. The sequencing and psych-synths of “Ten Year’s Time” and “One And Only Secret Dream” further the band’s textural diversity, and prove just how much you can do with lo-fi.

Though they’ll tell you it’s only a demo, this little DIY release could make waves on its own before they even re-record and release the EP, and the sound quality plays a major role in the atmospheric feel of the demo. After all, some of the greatest records of all time were made this way.


Recommended for fans of: Any band listed above.

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Catch them live: Dec 21-The Forvm (With Yesterday Vs. Tomorrow and more)

Single of the Week: Stock Car Boys’ “Parking Lot Parade”

The Buffalo alternative scene is famous for not being famous, and there are a lot of reasons for that. But we don’t need to get into that right now.  However, recently, a common aesthetic has been circulating around the city: high voltage, Strokes-endearing, pop-sensible garage rock. From Made Violent, perhaps the largest example of this “movement,” to Mags, the new king of it, the sound has been sweeping across the scene rapidly this past year. Could this be what we can finally call the “Buffalo Sound?” If you’ve answered yes, give Stock Car Boys’ new single a listen, and appreciate the newest contender in the Garage Rock collective. If you’ve answered no, that same single will change your mind.

Hailing from Niagara Falls, Stock Car Boys debut single gives MV and Mags a run for their money. Opened with big-ol’ power chords and a singable guitar riff, the track unleashes halfway through the verse. Roscetti provides a powerful vocal track with enough inflection to make Billy Corgan seem static and a little less fuzz than his contemporaries, and the band behind him is every bit as powerful. They’ve found the perfect balance between raw and accessible, a perfect place for Alternative Radio. Most importantly, Stock Car Boys feel totally at home on this track; with just one single they seem to already know who they are and where they’re headed. And the result is one of the finest debut tracks I’ve heard this year.


Recommended for fans of: The Strokes, Made Violent, The Libertines

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On the Lookout: A Guide to Upcoming Releases

This week, in lieu of reviews on the present, we’ll be focused on both the past and the future. As of right now, this is just a short list of the many upcoming releases from some of the best Buffalo has to offer, and a little about the previous releases these artists have shared. They are in no particular order at all.

As more details are given on these releases and more releases are announced, this post will be updated.

1. For the Record
Formed by members of Kill the Clock, Wild Card, HolKampany, and Dollar Diplomacy, this Buffalo supergroup is currently at work on their debut EP. You can listen to their demos here and check out their other/previous bands below:
 Kill the Clock, Wild Card, HolKampany, Dollar Diplomacy
2. Sweet Apollo
Details are still TBA, but Sweet Apollo plan to release a few more tracks. Will we get another EP? An album? Either way, the Renaissance favorites are sure to deliver. Check out the review of their brilliant Great Deluge EP here, and listen for yourself here to understand why we need these new tracks.
3. The Gentleman’s Quarrel
The Gentleman’s Quarrel are at work on their next release, due summer 2015. Joe Bennett assures, “It will be GQ at its best!” Check out the review of their debut, Sam, here, and listen for yourself here.
4. Yesterday Vs. Tomorrow
YV2 is currently writing what will be “everything that Aurora Borealis wasn’t.” LP2 is due for fall 2015. A secret winter project has been hypothesized, but no detail is available. Check out Aurora Borealis here.
5. Contender/Sacklunch
Nathan Gambino informs, “We’re writing stuff now, and hitting the studio soon! Hopefully this fall!” Enough said. Check out Renaissance’s favorite punk release here.
6. No Vacancy
No Vacancy are currently writing their follow-up to this year’s self-tiled EP. Read the review here.
7. Stock Car Boys
The Gypsy Queen EP coming soon. Each of the songs will first be released as singles. Check out the debut single here, and read the review here.

Keep checking back frequently to know what to look for and when to look for it.

Single of the Week: The Lime Line’s “What’s Left?”

It’s an odd story, The Lime Line. One single. Their only release. And then they just vanished. It’s really the stuff legends are made of. Sort of like that mystery singer from earlier this year (they found him by the way)…. So…. that’s what this review is wholly dedicated to. Forming an urban legend around what was The Lime Line.

Well, maybe I’ll just tell the truth instead….

Now the legend has it that Whitecar, Benstead, Kim, Andrews, and Will were once travelers from a distant world not unlike our own. In that world, pop punk was actually creative, and inspiring, and emo had a more positive connotation in society. Looking down at Earth, these travelers decided that it needed to experience the same joys that they had back home. After much debate and many terrible, violent, ungodly ideas, they concluded that the only effective way to do this would be to give us just one song. One 5-minute manual of how to make pop punk sound interesting and enjoyable. And then they just…disappeared… I assume they went back to their home without saying hello or goodbye. Maybe they visited a new world to do the same. Can we ever know? Now, some say that the drummer of Ellsworth bears an eerie, striking similarity to Lime Line vocalist Benstead (I don’t see it), and supposedly the drummer from 3 Hour Power Shower has modeled his image after Tyler Will as some sort of channeling of his abilities. Regardless, their influence remains, and we have this otherworldy doctrine. If all goes as planned, future pop punk acts will take heed of The Lime Line’s advice.


Get the single, that’s all you can do:


EPs: Letterbox (s/t)

Yesterday Vs. Tomorrow was playing at the Tralf the other day with some pretty great bands, and I noticed Andrew Douglas writing on some pieces of cardboard. At a closer look, it turned out he was hand-printing a stack of EPs to give out at the show. Now, I’m a sucker for all things DIY so of course, I offered to buy one, but he refused and gave it to me for free. I listened to it the next day and was instantly captivated by the disco-drums and catchy synths of “Dizzy,” and imagined what it’d be like to wave a lighter with a thousand people if Letterbox ever played “Back to You” at a big festival. But what imprressed me the most was “Waiting On Nothing.” Smart, catchy, summery, it’s just wonderful. Between the mandolin soloing and the glock harmonies, Letterbox sculpted a perfect ear-pleasing summer pop song. It’s the kind of soundtrack you hear in the movies where everyone’s laughing and having fun, or driving across the countryside without a care in the world. It takes you places. And that’s the goal.
As a whole, the EP is intelligent and emotive, with enough pop sensibility to spawn three radio hits. I’m pretty convinced that almost anyone can enjoy their music; with it’s hooks and stick-to-your-brain melodies, it’s calculated, smooth, and seamless. Overall, it’s really just a damn-solid EP, and probably the tightest pop release out of Buffalo this year. I promise you’ll have every song stuck in your head for a week. And you’ll be quite alright with it.


Recommended for fans of: The Goo Goo Dolls, Butch Walker

Stream the EP:

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Catch them live:
Nov. 14- Pierce Arrow w/ Carter Hulsey
Nov. 23- Alternative Buffalo 107.7’s Localized


EPs: Ellsworth (s/t)

Two weeks ago, Ellsworth shared with us their roaring emo-revivalist thriller, “Lisa,” and last week they showed us that Ellsworth has a little bit more up their sleeve than power pop.

Ellsowrth’s debut EP touches on all of the tricks of 90s alt rock, but brings a more intelligent angle to the whole thing. Sort of the IDM” to 21st century emo rock. With well-versed lines like, “so at least now i can try to achieve all of the things you said that I couldn’t do and wish that we were dancing in our own pas de deux,” Ellsworth prove they’re a little ahead of the rest of the scene. Their songs are honest and transparent, and aren’t afraid to sink into desperation or hopelessness, and what’s better is that they’re not afraid to let you in on it. Lines like “Father didn’t ignore me” speak to a now-grown-up generation with good upbringings that somehow were still left dissatisfied. Maybe that means it’s just in our blood. Tackling themes of loneliness and discontent aren’t easily done on break up albums, but some how they pull it off. However, what truly sets Ellsworth apart is their genre bending ambodexterity. From “Lisa,” Wheeler and co. tap on post-punk monotone, Weezer-sparked alt rock, and end with a bang on one final punk rollercoaster of a track. She Fell’s up and down matches its heavy lyrical content perfectly. Through all of it, Ellsworth skips through these genres with ease and coherence, a talent that many bands are still working on. It all fits together perfectly.

The best is still yet to come from Ellsworth, and if their debut EP tells us anything, it’s a sign that Buffalo emo is changing. Ellsworth is a breath of fresh air in a genre that has become so stale. Whatever they tell you, this is a revival. And Ellsworth is a new leader of it.


Recommended for fans of: Modern Baseball, Weezer (Pinkerton-era), Brand New

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Key Track: Mutuality


Single of the Week: Mags’ “Basement”

Former Malones’ bassist Elliott Douglas has launched a raucous, garage-pop solo outfit under the moniker, Mags. And it’s absolutely great. Buffalo has a fine, recent history of putting out raw, Strokes-inspired indie pop, and Mags is here to further the collective.

“Basement” is as straightforward as it gets. Musically, lyrically, and stylistically, Douglas gets right to the point. Over the 2/4 hopping chorus, he belts “I know you can do better than me,” while the fuzzed guitars ring out punk rock chords. There are no questions, no ambiguity of what Mags is about: raw, pure rock ‘n’ roll. As the Rolling Stones put it, “I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.” And it’s that same simplicity that echoes through Mags’ “Basement.” This energetic, punk-meets-indie is sure to stick in your head and find its way into half of your playlists.


Recommended for fans of: The Strokes, Made Violent, Parquet Courts

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Catch them live:
Oct 16 (tba)

EPs: No Vacancy (s/t)

Don’t be fooled by their age, this is a serious alternative pop/rock force that is slowly turning heads and garnering attention across WNY. Honestly, these guys are really, really, really good.

Now, I don’t need to say it, but I will. Judging from mere photographs, a lot of people may write the band off as a bunch of high school kids making loud music in their garage. They look like a million bands around the country doing the same thing (ever see that Weezer cover?). But before you make your auditorium talent show one off assumptions, actually listen  to this EP. Bask in the sunny, bass-driven “Chasing Reason,” dance to the instrumental, high-energy “Funk Song,” or wave your lighter to “Broken.” It’s all so great; however, the strongest track here, “Drown,” gives the greatest implications of not only what No Vacancy are doing, but where they’re going. The song’s obvious Cobain-influences are compelling. Living proof that Nirvana still affects kids the way they did back in the 90s. The ominous oohs and gradual buildup explode with Sosnowski’s massive riffing, crafting an alt pop instant classic. And Tuck croons and dives, with a monotoned hush, resembling a  laid-back Rivers Cuomo. His vocals are incredibly strong, and the rest of the bandmates’ are every bit as strong. This band has an incredible amount of potential, and if this EP says anything, it’s that their next release will be brilliant.

Recommended for fans of: Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Weezer

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Catch them live:
Oct. 7-Waiting Room (Studio)

no vac