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Jen Grygiel – Good Music for a Good Cause

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Back in April, Jen Grygiel penned a beautiful letter to her former high school, encouraging closeted students not to give up hope when they feel like they’re trapped and cannot speak up. Jen’s efforts continue with her EP Grygiel, this time with the help of New England’s music and comic vendor Newbury Comics.

The partnership between Grygiel and Newbury Comics supports the It Gets Better Project, with the chain’s 29 stores selling the charity EP. All proceeds from the album go to the cause, rallying behind LBGT youth and aiming to help kids feel comfortable with their sexuality amidst the pressures of peer bullying.

The indie-rock EP features four tracks that span the ups and downs of relationships—opening with “5:30 AM;” Jen captures the sickening early-morning gnaws and restlessness with a tick-tocking guitar, zoning in on break-up anxieties.

“Drive Me” speeds things up, as Jen sings the praises of a beautiful girl in a guitar driven, rock-soaked track that suggests the feel of the flurried spell of new love. “Reckless Woman” goes the other direction lyrically with more riotous rock sounds—a wild and flighty girl gets trashed as Grygiel insists “I never loved you”—the melody is tense and dark.

The EP closes with “Just Say Maybe,” a plea to the pretty girl to resuscitate the relationship that went south. Folk acoustics and pretty harmonies end this EP’s story on a bittersweet note, but the track is warm enough to insinuate better times to come.

Jen Grygiel opens the CMJ Showcase on October 21st. Help support the It Gets Better Project by picking up this beautiful EP. Grygiel can be purchased at Newbury Comics retail or online.

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Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP

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Transistor-on calls their goods “fuzzed out reverb music,” and in the spirit of post-rock, EP The Way Back Down is full of that melodious texture and sensation. Recorded at The Cottage with Damon Moon, The Way Back Down is a mere four tracks. But those songs make a satisfying sampling of a band with a big future ahead.

Atlanta duo Joey Piersante and Chris Armistead offer up a hazy fugue state that is the blueprint for this coming summer, showing that they can run with the best of the lo-fi crowd with their unique rhythms and finger-picking. The minimalist use of instruments that whip up the dream poppy wall of sound succeeds in taking the listener in a layered, chill journey.

Tracks like “Calling Out” and “Solar Flare” are so catchy (the former with its title refrain; the latter with its main guitar melody), that they etch onto your brain and trick you into thinking these are songs that have been around for maybe 20 years or so already.

Reviewers are throwing out comparisons—and they’ll continue to—of Transistor-on to Explosions in the Sky. The similarities are there for sure; both bands share a genre, after all. But saying only “they remind me of Explosions in the Sky” overlooks the fact that Transistor-on are stepping out in earnest on this EP, sounding comfortable in their skin without being jaded. Plus, having smoky vocals on the tracks adds to the spacey miasma and mystery that serves as the overarching feel of the record. The singing on “Empty Planet,” for example, highlights the track’s slow burn into its rocking guitar-driven crescendo.

Though the last piece on The Way Back Down is called “Exit,” by no means is that a harbinger of the band’s future. Transistor-on closes with a sure-footed tapestry of distortion and crisp rhythm, wrapping up a consistent and skillful release that definitely marks their arrival.

The Way Back Down is available to stream on SoundCloud or for purchase on iTunes. The gorgeous photo cover by Richard Casteel.

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Muse “Drones” Review

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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”

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Emily Hearn’s sonic journey on Hourglass shows that she is a woman coming into her own, figuring out the knots of past heartache, the bliss of newlywed life, and the passage of time.

Time acts as the overarching narrative on the record; Hourglass spans the two years following the Athens, GA native’s debut Red Balloon and 2013 EP Promises. “We fall in or out of love as time moves us,” she explains. “We learn life-changing lessons as time goes on. We figure out how to handle important relationships as time shapes us. We decide who we want to be and what we believe as time reveals our priorities. And ultimately, we grow older as time goes by.”

Hearn sings wistfully “Oh, to be young, and to have time” on the third track “Oak Tree,” longing for the naïve feeling that time would never move forward, or at least not so fast. She frets over seeing her parents age so quickly. The existential worries of a twenty-something come delivered in a package of a catchy, infectious chorus and clap-along-able melody.

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