LPs: Mooses’ “Tales From the Elephant’s Nest”

It all opens with hazy plucked-out chords, and Cahlstadt’s one-of-a-kind vocals. The sound of lazy exhaustion, like the end of a long, adventurous summer. As the drums build and DeMartino’s beautiful lead lines escalate, we’re roped into Mooses’ world. And it’s a strange, beautiful, colorful world. The track is an odd way to begin an album, as it feels more in media res than an overture or grand opening, but Mooses aren’t exactly the kind of band to employ cliche techniques. When the dust settles, we’re graced with the opening falsetto oohs and chorus-effected guitars of “Bette Davis,” the album’s most ..pop.. moment. Showcasing Cahlstadt’s inflected vocals, the song drives you along through the Mooses’ psych pop exhibit at breakneck speeds for about three minutes and drops off into an abyss. In rebirth and rebuild, we’re pulled out of the abyss and back onto the road and accelerate forward.

“Bette Davis” isn’t just a song, it’s a journey.

From there, Mooses pull every influence from the bag and deconstruct 3/4 psych jams and post-punk bursts of energy, vasolating between Pink Floyd and the Pixies in one song (“Blackwash”). The trippy, fuzz-blues, acid jam of “In Case They’re Wonderin'” prove Mooses’ affinity for oddball synths and massive leads. The song is so overdriven that every instrument meshes together in a perfect burst of color and light. It’s blistering. Just blistering. And they’re “doin’ fine.” After its massive outro chords, “Psilovoir” comes to calm and comfort, like a lullaby in the aftermath of a hurricane.

“Tales From the Elephant’s Nest” is more than just an album. It’s a manifesto. A how-to book. If you’re going to write a psych/alternative/indie album, just do this exactly. Somehow, they’ve given us everything we know about music and made it sound like nothing we’ve ever heard before. It’s almost perfect in composition, in execution, and in relevance. It’s in another world. This is the album all other Buffalo albums this year will be judged by.
-JJK

9.4

Recommended for fans of Tame Impala, Yuck, Flaming Lips

Buy the album:
https://mooses.bandcamp.com/album/tales-from-the-elephants-nest
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/MoosesBand/info

Catch them live:
Sept. 27- The EBC (Fredonia, NY)
Oct. 2- The Forvm (Buffalo, NY)

Single of the Week: Ellsworth’s “Lisa”

Following in the footsteps of Modern Baseball and The Hotelier, Ellsworth is resuscitating the genre that went so flat and lifeless in the last decade. With their raw energy and powerful tracks Ellsworth bring us back to the days of SDRE and American Football. Powerful drums, crunchy rhythms, searing leads, and Wheeler’s inflectious, infectious vocals on this debut single introduce what is and what will be Ellsworth. It’s raw and dirty, with enough energy to power Buffalo for a month. And it’s as strong as it is raw. Ellsworth have burst through the gate with “Lisa,” and it seems like there won’t be much to stop them.
-JJK

7.9

Recommended for fans of:
Modern Baseball, Brand New, Sunny Day Real Estate

Buy the single:
https://ellsworthmusic.bandcamp.com/track/lisa
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/EllsworthBand

Catch them live:
Sept. 27- Rock the Commons (Fredonia, NY)- *EP RELEASE*

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EPs: The Gentleman’s Quarrel’s “Sam”

I know it came out a while ago, but Renaissance hasn’t exactly been around very long (we’re on week 3 here), and no self-respecting review/blog could skip such an essential EP.

There’s something in the air when GQ performs. Some kind of ethereal energy that straightens every neck, fixates every eye, contracts every arrector pili, and stiffens every knee in the room. You won’t find kids staring at their cell phones or giving bad vibes when GQ has the floor. No one can look away. Maybe it’s Huntz’s wild-animal drumming, or Joe Bennett’s impossible basslines, or Killian’s angular, complex rhythm chords. The only thing that’s certain about the Quarrel is that they’re the tightest, most rhythmic indie rock trio to ever grace Buffalo. Technically speaking alone, there’s enough musicianship on this EP to tip Berklee upside down. But even before the musicianship, the composition is mind-boggling enough: tempo changes, odd-rhythms, and ear-tingling melodies all weave and warp and twist into one of the best EPs Buffalo has ever seen. With as much dance as its darkness, “Sam” walks the fine, fine line between the melancholy and the joyous. It’s like being miserable but rejoicing in the miracle that you have the capacity to feel such heavy emotion. Like Joy Division and Interpol before them, The Gentleman’s Quarrel effortlessly combine the tones of despair with the backbeats of celebration. “Sam” is an honoring of life, even the terrible things that happen in it. And we can all find ourselves in Sam.

I could honestly write for hours about why this EP is so undeniably wonderful, but it might just be better to let you find out for yourself. “Sam” will be your new best friend by the end of the day for sure.
-JJK

8.8

Recommended for fans of: Interpol, Two Door Cinema Club

Stream the EP:
The Gentleman’s Quarrel – Sam – EP
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/thegentsquarrel

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Single of the Week: Kill The Clock’s “Me Too”

Ever since I first saw Kill the Clock live at the YV2 Christmas show, they’ve been one of my favorite live bands in the area. From there, I saw them do an entire set of Beatles covers, don cowboy outfits, and play Strokes songs almost as well as the Strokes. Each of their songs have this inescapably lovable quality, like hearing all of your favorite music from high school all at once. And “Me Too” is no exception. From the intro staccato grooves to the massive power chords, “Me Too” is everything you loved about pop punk’s early days and everything you adored (pun very, very intended) about Brit pop’s late days. Morganti’s leads explode, and McCormick and Hoare’s back-and-forth put the band’s chemistry on display here. Despite forming just a year ago, Kill the Clock sounds like they’ve been playing together for years, and that’s largely due to Tutuska’s infallible drum prowess. If you can get past the muddy production, Kill The Clock might just suffice your need for an Oasis reunion.

Overall, the song excels in composition and musicianship, but you really have to see KTC live to know what it’s all about. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes for most local acts. But seriously, get to their shows. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
-JJK

7.2

Recommended for fans of: Oasis, The Strokes, Blink 182

Stream the song:
https://www.facebook.com/killtheclockbuffalony/app_2405167945?ref=page_internal
Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/killtheclockbuffalony/timeline
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LPs: CrashFuse’s “Between You, Me, and the Lamppost”

It’s a strange world we live in, isn’t it?

Well, the music industry is even stranger these days. Ever since indie went pop, the whole rhythm (pun very much intended) of it all has been disrupted, and I really can’t tell you if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I also can’t tell you if it’s because of Nirvana or streaming services, but that’s pretty far from the point. Regardless, we wouldn’t have CrashFuse without it.

Since the indie pop explosion, countless bands have been trying to cut the crossover hit that alternative radio stations (Does Buffalo have the only one that isn’t XM?) adore and facebook fans plaster across their timelines, and most of the bands that achieve this end up one-hit-wonders.

Enter CrashFuse. This album could easily spawn 11 of those hits (track 7 is an instrumental interlude that may even be one of the best tracks here). With angular rhythm guitars, powerful drum tracks, spacey leads, Hornberger’s melodramatic vocals, and a few little acoustic numbers, CrashFuse have all the ingredients for a big hit here.

Now, many will say (and I tend to agree) that filling an album with all singles that have such a long run-time (the album clocks in at 45+ minutes) can detract from the fluidity and cohesiveness of a work. But, we’re not in 1995 anymore, and CrashFuse understand that. They’re catering to the audience that surrounds them. Whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, people are going to love this album. It’s perfectly tailored and masterfully executed to sell a LOT of copies. If CrashFuse doesn’t break out by next year, I’ll give up writing.
-JJK

8.0

Recommended for fans of: Kings of Leon, Young the Giant, Foo Fighters

Buy the album:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/between-you-me-lamppost/id858791640

Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/CrashFuse

Key Track: “Sweet Routine”

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EPs: Improbable Cause (s/t)

After my first week of doing grad school and working nearly full time simultaneously, I’m exhausted. Totally burnt out. And I can’t be the only one. Honestly, I’m having trouble not falling asleep on my laptop writing this review. So this morning when I woke up to write, these songs finally really caught me.

This is music for exhausted people. Young even belts it in the first 15 seconds. Underneath the summery pop-jams, stories of despair, weariness, and hope drive the songs from chorus to chorus. This all comes to life at “Crash,” the climax of it all. It’s as if Young is trying to reach out and touch her audience on the shoulder and say, “Hey. It’s okay, we get it and everything will be alright.”

Though it’s a pretty straightforward acoustic pop/rock EP, “Improbable Cause” is full of surprises. The rap-bridge of “Find the Line,” the noise-rock-inspired guitar solo of “Girl With the Jet Black Hair,” or Hannon’s Dave Matthews-esque backing vocals keep everything interesting here, each piece building to the whole theme of it all. This is an extremely well-written album, and I’m sure Improbable Cause will find its way to your final cookouts and last-ditch bonfires as summer begins to close. Winter may be on its way, but you can ride out every last minute of summer with these sunny acoustic jams.
-JJK

7.4

Recommended for fans of: Dave Matthews Band, Of Monsters and Men

Buy the EP:
https://improbable-cause.bandcamp.com/releases

Follow the Band:
https://www.facebook.com/ImprobablyCauseMusic

Key Track: “Crash”

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Single of the Week: The Noble Company’s “Attic Band Blues”

I almost feel like I don’t really need to write anything. I mean, the title really says it all. So thanks for writing the review for me, Noble Company.

The Noble Company’s “Attic Band Blues” is a 3.5 minute rush of adrenaline from start to finish. Strokes-inspired garage blues guitars and fluid drum fills pulsate through the attic-band production, while McGowan howls line after line with ferocity and urgency. You can’t help but picture Jim Morrison convulsing on stage or Ian Curtis “dancing to the radio” when McGowan starts opening up here. And then it’s over.

This is one of the shorter reviews I’ve done here, but what else can you really say? This is an ultra-solid attic band blues track. No tricks, no gimmicks, just three and a half minutes of blistering blues rock. And maybe that’s all we really need.
-JJK

7.6

Recommended for fans of: The Doors, Joy Division, The White Stripes

Download the song:

Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Noble-Company/362148359185

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About the Editor

I received a message a few days ago from a new Renaissance fan asking to know a little bit more about the review and myself (this was before the Aim and first reviews were published) and offering advice. After our conversation, I’ve decided to let you all know a little bit more about myself, because you’re probably thinking, “Who is this guy and why should we care what he has to say?” or, “Does he even know anything about music or writing? Probably not, so I don’t really have any interest in this anymore.”

I can’t stress to you enough how much I loathe talking about myself; I always feel like I’m bragging or acting deluded or ignorant.

So there you go, that’s all you need to know.

……………………………..

Okay, honestly, I’m going to tell you.

I’ll start with the music, because that’s what we’re all here for. Now, I don’t have any pictures of myself on the blog, (that would be kind of weird, I think) but if I did, you might recognize me as the frontman/primary vocalist/rhythm guitarist/mandolin player/synth player of the indie rock band Yesterday Vs. Tomorrow. Since this blog is not about my band and I’m not here for self-promotion, I’ll sort of leave off there and let you check out our latest album, “Aurora Borealis,” for yourself. I tell you this to say that I, like a lot of you, am in the trenches right now, trying to carve out a piece of this city with my/our name on it, and I get it. I’m not just some 40 year old eating cheetos and listening to Creed’s Greatest Hits at my desk on top of a stack of old video games writing about a bunch of people I’ve never seen before and don’t really care too much for. Chances are we’ve actually met before.

As for the music I listen to, I’m really all over the place (and I don’t mean that in the same way that people who listen to Taylor Swift AND Katy Perry mean it). Indie rock/Alternative is my home, but I’m not afraid to praise a Rap album or dabble in the corporate world of popular music at times. Anyway, I guess a way to make this description a bit easier, I’ll give you my thoughts on last year’s best albums and what I believe are the 10 best and most important albums of the last 50 years or so.

2013 (no particular order)
The National’s “Trouble Will Find Me”
Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City”
Kanye West’s “Yeezus”
Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor”
The Flaming Lips’ “The Terror”

All Time (in mostly-particular order)
1.Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. OK Computer
3. Revolver
4. Nevermind
5. The Velvet Underground & Nico
6. Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness
7. Kid A
8. Slanted and Enchanted
9. Selected Ambient Works 85-92
10. Run DMC (eponymous)
11. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
12. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Now, you don’t need to agree with me; that’s not the point here. The point is that whether or not you like these albums, they shaped much of what artists are creating today (obviously you could go back to cavemen hitting rocks together, but we’re talking about modern music here). And really, the only reason I gave you those lists was to sort of give you a background of where I’ll be coming from with a lot of these posts and to point out that these artists are all vastly different from one another. As an aside, I condone arguing here, because it means people are communicating. If you don’t think my review of a band is accurate and openly comment your disagreement, that’s GREAT, because it means that people are having conversations and forming opinions and ideals.

After sounding like the syllabus from a generic 100 level college course, I’ll move on to my history with writing and close this out.

This part’s a bit anticlimactic, but before I’m a musician, I’m an academic at heart. I’m studying at Daemen College to become a PA, (the medical field is a sort of  far from music, I’ll admit) but in some of my introductory courses over the last three years, I’ve discovered a bit of a gift for writing. I’ve coached 100-300 level composition courses and got mostly all A’s in them myself and have had a love for words and the way they work together since high school. Please don’t forget that the only reason I’m telling you any of this is to demonstrate a little bit of credibility, that’s all.

Wow, that was difficult. But I hope it helps. If you don’t really care, even better. Thanks Katie.
-JJK

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Single of the Week: Digital Afterlife’s “Legacy of Lies/ In a Way”

Dichotomy (n): a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities (Merriam Webster).

Digital Afterlife has been astounding fans across Buffalo with their post-goth/industrial electronica since 2011. 2013’s “Binary Consciousness” demonstrated to us that the Burt brothers could recreate Trent Reznor’s years of work with new life and breath, but a band can only get so far with another’s sound.

This is exactly the reason why these two singles aren’t just good music–These singles are important.

Legacy of Lies and In a Way signify the purest form of growth. Like Revolver and The Bends, these single have began to carve out a new sound, a new atmosphere, a new vibe. Shaking off a bit of the doom and darkness of Binary Consciousness, the brothers decided that they’d rather make you dance than scare your children, and the result is breathtaking.

Perhaps their most stunning element is the dichotomy between these singles. The fiery eruptions of Legacy of Lies are cooled by the icy, desolate vibes of In a Way. The pyrotechnic drums of Legacy are softened by the glassy synths of In a Way, and the solitary croons of the latter are sharpened by the yelps and moans of the former. These songs fuse together so perfectly, so unexpectedly, one can only imagine what’s to come. The Burts will have us all on the edge of our seats waiting, impatiently, for the next release.
JJK

8.1

Recommended for fans of: Nine Inch Nails, Aphex Twin, Jon Hopkins

Download the singles:
https://www.facebook.com/DigitalAfterlife/app_2405167945

Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/DigitalAfterlife

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EPs: Sweet Apollo’s “The Great Deluge”

0:00 Piano keys softly fall like rain drops into your lap.
0:19 Those few rain drops become a shower.
1:11 Thunder and light cascade down.
1:21 Let the downpour begin.
2:11 FLASHFLOOD WARNING
3:12 Those few raindrops have submerged everything around us, but we’re not too worried about it. As a matter of fact, we’re gonna swim in the floods and have ourselves an unforgettable time.

And that’s just the first four minutes of Sweet Apollo’s new EP.

For the remaining duration of the titanic four-song collection, LaShomb et al take you by the hand and guide you through deep waters, European homes, nuclear winters, even the highest of the heavens. Sweet Apollo haven’t just played songs here, they’ve carefully and meticulously crafted a work of art that soars high above the clouds and dives to the deepest trenches. In just under 16 minutes, the Buffalo champions have managed to build an entire lifetime of soundtrack here. Whether you’re a fan of the indie pop game or not, these classically charged, radio approved, compositionally brilliant songs will find their way into your temporal lobe and never leave. This is music you can live to.
-JJK

8.7

Recommended for fans of: U2, Coldplay, The Killers

Buy the EP:
https://sweetapollo.bandcamp.com/

Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/SweetApollo

Key Track: “Paris Basement”

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