Written by: Blackie Skulless
I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t even realize that Mike Tramp had such a big catalog of solo albums until I stumbled upon his newest, Second Time Around. For those unaware, he was famous for fronting the Danish/American glam metal band White Lion in the ‘80s, before later forming Freak Of Nature, and eventually going solo. The focus has certainly shifted since then, regarding energy. Singers going solo like this can pretty much be hit or miss.
Different doesn’t mean bad, though. Second Time Around is very AOR driven, aiming itself towards songs that are more tame in nature and come from a singer/songwriter life perspective. A lot of this is built around summer-related themes, particularly the fun of highways and driving. Though that obviously leaves room for plenty of cheese, the lyrics have strength in poetic flow. This is usually what I would expect from older artists that once fronted bigger heavy metal acts.
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about a band or album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The fifth in our series of guest reviews is brought to us by the multi-talented Sarah Allen Reed of (I quote) "Ophelia Drowning, Coma Roulette, The Forest At Night, and way too many other things to keep track of!" Sarah's assorted projects can be found at her official site.
As ye will inevitably and quickly discover, this particular retrospective marks the Sleeping Village's first non-text article! Needless to say, we were very excited to see that Sarah's retrospective would address notions of personal musical impact in a new and novel fashion--namely, a gorgeous autobiographical comic. Today, Sarah discusses in visual form the influence of Our Love to Admire by indie-rock/post-punk heavyweights Interpol. Without further ado: please enjoy!
Written by: Ancient Hand
San Marcos’s This Will Destroy You should need no introduction at this point; the Texas post-rock group has seen plenty of success and experimentation in their now 16-year-old career. The group’s 2008 self-titled album is considered by many to be their magnum opus, and I am included in this group. That record is a beautiful blend of instrumentation that culminates into a moving and beautiful journey across an auditory version of the American Southwest. After 12 more years and plenty of other albums, we finally get the standalone release of Vespertine, the soundtrack to the high-class, two-Michelin star restaurant of the same name. The soundtrack has been available to those that have been in the restaurant for a few years now, but This Will Destroy You has finally released the soundtrack for the rest of us to enjoy.
Written by: Volt Thrower
As a kid the countless hours spent driving under starlit prairie highways in the 90’s, on the way to various campgrounds and theme parks, laid the foundation for desert rock being able to bring a wash of fuzz driven comfort later in life. There’s something incredibly soothing about being able to lose yourself in a locked in groove, essentially time traveling through the hundreds of km’s of nothingness. Heavy rockers Heavy Hands from Boston, take a stab at a classic style with some modern flair with their latest self-released offering “Through the Night.”
A rolling drum groove, with some fuzz drenched bass open things up on “Devil Nets”, sure to make Brant Bjork blush. Kicking things off with a nostalgic blast is a great hook, but they build upon that opening, with a really unique sound that the band feels out across the dozen fleeting minutes. The soulful delivery of the vocals on “Villain” really compliment the underlying bass and drum groove, but the guitar is the real scene setter for most of the album. Ranging from bluesy psychedelic washes, to straightforward riffage, to a near black metal tremolo picking style, giving it another layer with a sense of urgency and despair. Lyrical themes starting with, of course a desert highway cruise with your girl, to a poetic exploration of the plight of the never good-enough, ending in a mental “Breakdown.” Clean production wraps it all up into a nice, tight little package.
Here's one of those reviews that has sat, half-completed, for an embarrassingly long time. The catalyst for completion? A lyric analysis that CHNNLR posted over on Instagram for the second single released under this project moniker. As stated there, “In Dreams”--the track in question--focuses on the “forms and stages” of clinical depression or anxiety, and how they “can debilitate and take over someone’s mind and body.” Like the artist, I am not diagnosed with these demons, but the person I love most in this world has routinely lived in the midst of a “waking nightmare” (as he astutely puts it) due to machinations of the mind: chemical, situational, or otherwise. Depression and anxiety are legitimate diseases with legitimate implications, and, as CHNNLR states, treatment is a necessity: “Don’t ignore the signs, and don’t just think things will get better. Reach out, connect, check in.” And, given the current state of affairs out there: now more than ever.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!