Frameworks - Loom (2013)

Frameworks is a post-hardcore/screamo band from Gainesville, FL., that has been creating quite the buzz over the past year or so. Having a breathtaking blend of aggression and ambience, they have a pretty wide range of directions they could go with their music. With each release, they progress immensely and continue to surprise listeners, gaining new fans every time. After recently signing to Topshelf Records, Frameworks announced the release of their debut LP, Loom. The record is set for an April 29 release and has generated some pretty high hopes from music blog sites and fans alike. Luckily for the Floridians, Loom is everything everyone hoped for – plus so much more.

The record begins with “Disquiet,” a short intro that almost sounds as if the band is loading in for a live studio session. It’s a cool introduction that sort of builds up this vibe that you’re about to hear a live performance. “Loom” shortly follows and things take off right away; with soaring guitars, aggressive drums and passionate vocals, the song instantly draws you in. “Mutual Collision” shows off a bit more of Frameworks’ ambient side. The song features some beautiful guitar work that fades the song out to an end. Track four, “True Wealth,” may just be one of the most ambitious songs this band has ever written. It’s incredible how massive this song sounds towards the halfway mark. Also, by this point in the record, I began to realize that Frameworks did not follow any rules or feel the need to match any expectations that may have been consciously pressured on the band by the success of their prior releases.

“Splinters” feels a bit grittier than rest of Loom. Although the track still has those ambient riffs that is signature to Frameworks, the song as a whole feels a lot more raw than the others. “Rosie” is a pretty dark twist in the vibe provided by Loom. The song also features a colossus of an ending. Next up is the very loud and in-your-face “Bright and New.” The song packs a huge punch, which eventually leads to an outro that almost has some classic-rock influenced riffs. “Affordance” contains a little bit of everything that Frameworks has to offer. The song is all over the place, but in the best way possible. It’s quite amazing how well this band can transition between aggression and ambience so seamlessly.

Track nine, “Familiar Haze,” is pure bliss; it’s a beautiful, aggressive post-hardcore ballad. The song has an ending with some riffs that one would expect some big-time, rock musicians to write. “Autonomy” is the shortest song on Loom (aside from the intro), but it’s just as memorable as the longest one. It’s also definitely one of the more straightforward, aggressive songs on the record. Closing this masterpiece of a debut LP is “Agreeable Thoughts,” which definitely feels like a closing song. The way the guitars, drums and vocals compliment each other is mind-boggling. It’s a very ambitious closing to a very ambitious record.

Loom is one of those records that, the more you listen to it, the more things you find to like about it. If you keep in mind that this is a debut full-length while you’re listening to it, you will come to realize just how talented this band is – and the ambition that drives this record is something that most bands lack. Frameworks didn’t follow a certain formula or play it safe; they made a record that is incomparable to any other in their genre/scene. Loom is dark, aggressive, mesmerizing and beautiful. If post-hardcore/screamo is your thing, then there is no reason you shouldn’t consider this a masterpiece. Loom is the most ambitious record in the scene since Pianos Become the Teeth’s The Lack Long After.

Links: Facebook - Bandcamp
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Punk Goes 90s: Vol. 2 (2014)

Before I start this review, I should tell you that I'm a huge fan of '90s alternative. Punk Goes 90s: Vol. 2 has some of my favourite '90s songs on it, but I'm only familiar with about half of the bands that are featured on it. I tried my best to hear these songs on their own – without biased opinions – but some of these songs meant a lot to me growing up. Maybe the younger kids will appreciate these covers more than I ever could.

The compilation opens with "My Own Worst Enemy" by Get Scared (originally by Lit). The original version of this song is way too fun for a bad cover of it to exist. Get Scared gives this cover its own sound while still sticking true to the original, though I wasn't a huge fan of the edgy lyric change to "every now and then, I kick the living fuck out of me." Up next is Memphis May Fire's cover of Interstate Love Song (originally by Stone Temple Pilots). I think Memphis May Fire is the wrong band to cover this song, as I think the fast-paced tempo destroys everything the original created. That being said, if you're into Memphis May Fire and you're not super familiar with the original version of the song, you'll probably like this cover.

Track three is Asking Alexandria's take on "Closer" (originally by Nine Inch Nails). I thought this cover was phenomenal until 2:08. Of course, it would be impossible for Asking Alexandria to get through a song without blowing my eardrums out with obnoxious screaming. Trent Reznor is a God amongst mere mortals, so I'll give Asking Alexandria an A for effort for trying to achieve that level – and it's not like the whole song was really bad. The Color Morale is up next with its version of "Everlong" (originally by Foo Fighters). I can't tell you how many times I have heard different covers of this song (if I love a song, I have to hear how well someone else can sing it). That being said, I think these guys nailed it and I was very impressed; it aligned perfectly with the emotions and magnitude of the original but had enough of its own personality to avoid being a complete rip-off.

Following The Color Morale is Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! with "All Star" (originally by Smash Mouth). Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! is about as goofy as Smash Mouth was, so this cover makes complete sense and it's fun. I would probably shamelessly lose my mind to this song the same way I did before a French pop punk band covered it. Mayday Parade, one of six bands on Fearless Records that is featured on this compilation, covered "Comedown" (originally by Bush). I love the original and I love Mayday Parade. Derek Sanders' vocals are so wrong but so right at the same time. Mayday Parade made this song its own, and I respect that, but the cover is incomparable to the original; however, I think I like it more than I care to admit. Motionless in White's cover of "Du Hast" (originally by Rammstien) is next. I'm not a big Remmstien fan nor am I a big Motionless in White fan, and I really couldn't get behind anything about this song.

Yellowcard, covering "Today" (originally by The Smashing Pumpkins), supplies us with the strongest song on Punk Goes 90s: Vol. 2. "Today" is my favourite Smashing Pumpkins song of all time and Yellowcard was one of my favourite bands growing up, but I would have never thought to put the two together. Everything about this cover is right and is executed perfectly, though. Yellowcard is an older band with older members, so I think that plays a large part in the cover; the members understand how much this song meant to some people – and you can hear that in it. Track nine is Hands Like Houses with "Torn" (originally by Natalie Imbruglia). Thirteen-year-old me would be all about this, but 23-year-old me is just okay with it. It has a different sound, but it's still weirdly similar to the original; it's basically a guy's take on being torn and all out of faith.

The Ghost Inside follows Hands Like Houses with "Southtown" (originally by P.O.D.). If I would have heard this cover last month, this would be an entirely different story, but I've been all about P.O.D. lately; it took me ten years to understand that band, but I get it now. I'm not really the biggest The Ghost Inside fan, but I was anxious to hear what the guys were going to do for "Southtown." Put this song out there on its own and it would probably stand its ground. It isn't bad, but it's not P.O.D., and I think it would have been fun to see The Ghost Inside mix its style up a little bit for this cover. Up next is Falling In Reverse and "Gangsta's Paradise" (originally by Coolio). This white boy finally got the chance to rap a Coolio song somewhere other than his friend's basement. This isn't half as good as Throwdown's cover of "Baby Got Back," but I'll give credit where credit is due, as this will get stuck in my head soon enough.

Closing out Punk Goes 90s: Vol. 2 is Ice Nine Kills' take on "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" (originally by Green Day). "Good Riddance" is one of the most overplayed songs on the entire continent; naturally, I rolled my eyes when I saw it was being covered on this compilation. Of course, it was the last song on the album, too. Ice Nine Kills was running a big risk by covering a song that evokes such reactions, but the band pulled it off. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed listening to "Good Riddance" for the first time since I heard the song when I was 12 years old. Ice Nine Kills' cover took a sickeningly overplayed song and re-vamped it.

If you're into cover songs and if you're a fan of alternative from a few decades ago, you'll enjoy Punk Goes 90s: Vol. 2 – or you'll at least find something on it to laugh about. I enjoyed listening to some of it and I know a younger version of myself is out there playing this on repeat.

Links: iTunes
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Culture Killer - Denial EP (2014)

Culture Killer is a new powerviolence/grind band out of Daytona Beach, FL. The band features member of Silence, Playing for Keeps and a few other well-known local bands. This is easily the heaviest music that any of these guys have ever created, and it could very well be a huge part of the Florida hardcore scene soon.

Denial starts off with a track called "White Plague," which opens with some blast beats then immediately explodes with vocalists Hunter Young and Adam Madsen trading off vocal parts. A little over halfway through the song, there's a break of just drumming and bass, and it truly adds a very Code Orange Kids vibe to this track. This song is easily one of the heaviest things I've heard come out of Florida in a very long time.

Track two is titled "The Overbearing," which starts off with a very slow – and extremely dark and heavy – guitar riff. About 40 seconds in, there's a break of nothing but guitar and a slow drum build up until the vocals come in and add a very angry element to this track. This track leads out with an awesome guitar solo in the background.

Track number three, the title track of Denial, is by far my favourite. It's the fastest, heaviest, darkest thing I've heard in a while. I have a feeling this track was heavily influenced by Nails, Full of Hell and bands of that sort. It starts off with some drums and some slight riffage; then, out of nowhere, a deep "OH" sets things off and it's a non-stop ride of blast beats and heaviness from there. The breakdown in this song is also extremely impressive; it's very slow and very heavy, and it's a great way to close out the barely two-minute song.

The fourth and final track, titled "Nothing," is the longest track, sitting at a hefty four minutes and 33 seconds. This track is a non-stop ride from beginning to end with a very slow break in the middle that transitions into an extremely heavy breakdown that made me want to get out of my chair and punch holes through all of my walls. The track ends with some cymbals being drawn out and a very slow guitar riff that fades into silence.

The Denial EP is a great start for Culture Killer; it's an intense ride of drums, guitar, dual vocal parts and stupidly heavy breakdowns that would make anyone lose their mind. This band could easily be a huge part of this scene in a matter of no time. Don't sleep on this band because, if you do, you will regret that decision immensely.

Links: Facebook
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Gallery: Pentimento/Bellwether (4/5/14)

Pentimento, fresh off a small run with Less Than Jake, made a stop at Gamechanger World in Howell, NJ., on April 5. This was the band's first headliner ever in New Jersey – and it was a show that Pentimento fans from the area had been hyping up for weeks. A solid amount of locals played, bringing a wide variety of music (from alternative to emo) to open up the night.

Bellwether acted as direct support to Pentimento and brought its light pop punk sound from Long Island. Lead singer Desmond Zantua brought not only his best dance moves to the stage but also his favourite fashionable jacket. All the controversy and accusations surrounding the band lately were forgotten about and Bellwether blasted through an impressive set. My first time hearing or seeing Bellwether was definitely a good one, and I look forward to keeping tabs on this band in the future.

Pentimento finished off the night by opening the last set with "Unless" then playing through 10 or so songs that covered all of the band's releases. The raw energy Pentimento brings is something that few bands can duplicate. The members are the kings of "Woahhhhh"s, as bassist Vinny Caito and drummer Mike Hansen compliment lead singer Jeramiah Pauly's vocal parts perfectly. Not to mention, Mike is one of the best drummers I've seen live; I don't recall hearing a single bad hit throughout the whole set – as he expertly blasted through quick and tricky fills. The crowd sent the energy right back at the band with a generous amount of finger pointing and sing-a-longs. Although there wasn't enough people to stage dive in the wide venue, everyone who was in attendance was having a great time – whether they knew the songs or not. Pentimento is definitely a band I'd suggest seeing live even if you're not familiar with the material; the energy and interaction brought to each show is something anyone can enjoy.

Check out some pictures below from the sets that Bellwether and Pentimento put on.



Links: Pentimento - Bellwether - Dieter Unrath Photography
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Firestarter - Forget the Past EP (2014)

A few months after forming in late 2012, Albany's Firestarter released its debut EP, New Beginnings. Later in 2013, the four-piece pop punk band released an EP featuring acoustic renditions of songs from New Beginnings, followed by a four-track split with Old Again. We covered two of those releases on MGR and we had a feeling that this band had a chance to be something special after getting another release or two under their belts. Now, with the release of Firestarter's third EP just over a month away, it's time to dig into Forget the Past.

Firestarter wastes no time setting the tone with the upbeat title track. "Forget the Past" is a great song that demonstrates the band's overall sound; fast-paced drumming drives the song in the verses and really makes you want to stage dive, while the chorus is slower and the catchiness of the vocals and instruments is accentuated. "Who You Used to Be" is an even catchier track that makes use of some very solid guitar parts and features a massive bridge that highlights vocalist/guitarist Matthew LaPerche's vocal abilities.

"If You Ain't First, You're Last" starts off similar to "Forget the Past," but the extremely up-tempo drumming remains a consistent part of this song from the first second until the end. "If You Ain't First, You're Last" also features an impressive solo that continues on into the outro. Up next is "Tiny Bandages." The instrumental aspect of the song is very catchy and the vocals work exceptionally well, especially near the end of the song.

"Woodlawn" slows things down and is reminiscent of Real Friends' "I've Given Up On You." This is, by far, the slowest song on the EP – and one that sees the members of Firestarter step a bit out of their comfort zone; it's very different for the band, but it still sounds great. "Lost & Found" is definitely the catchiest track – as well as my personal favourite – on Forget the Past. The chorus is one that is sure to get drilled into your head after just one playthrough of the song. "Lost & Found" brings the release to a close on a high note with a lengthy gang vocal segment that has a very end-of-the-record feel to it.

Now that Firestarter has been together for about a year and a half and has released three EPs and a split, I think it's safe to assume the band's next release will be a full length. If that's the case, I'm hoping that at least one song that is similar to "Woodlawn" makes the cut; it really shows that the band has the ability to slow things down and experiment a little bit. Firestarter has slightly improved with each release, and I'm excited (and hoping) to finally hear a full length from these guys.

Links: Facebook
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