From the title alone, Loving on Empty works well to encapsulate Dan Godlin’s struggle to balance his once potential athletic career and his desire to write songs, Godlin’s days as a high school football captain never really fulfilling his creative drive. The dichotomy of aggressive and sensitive yanked at Godlin’s being; which pursuit did he love more? But the call to make music prevailed, and this rusty-haired kid from Boston took the sensitive route, culling the ups and downs of relationships and channeling them into his debut album.
Godlin doesn’t chronicle the struggle of his choice, one that comes during a tenuous time in a teen’s life—yet; he gets the boy-meets-girl-then-they-breakup stuff out of his system first. But it’s a valiant effort, easy to listen to and complete with relatable emotions. Loving on Empty is full of the coming-of-age woes and worries, from a nervous crush (“Did She Look?”), can’t live without you aches (“Elevate Me”), to life after love (“Are You Happy Now?”). Dan Godlin’s scrappy charm elevates his music above the dreary lilt of The Fray and One Republic, instead reminding us of the sunnier finger picking of The Goo Goo Dolls and early John Mayer.
The album’s strengths come when Godlin is at his most earnest. The opener “Did She Look” nails the coffeehouse crush jitters, Godlin’s heart in his throat when he repeats the hook over and over, letting the listener in on his internal butterflies (plus the ending is super adorable). “10,000 Words” uses clever backing vocals, muffled phone messages slamming a lover’s rehearsed call shtick. “Dance Baby” changes things up with infectious, funky instrumentals and an irresistible call to groove.
Loving on Empty closes with the title track, a proper denouement for the album about a relationship. Slow, building, and simple, “Loving on Empty” is a mature production, placing Godlin on the outside looking in, lyrically speaking, and is sure to be an anthem for the young and brokenhearted (what a killer episode closer it could be for a CW teen show!).
Dan Godlin hits the road this month on the Camplified tour, stopping in Massachusetts on July 18th at Camp Frank A. Day in East Brookfield. Listen to “Did She Look” and check out the “Dance Baby” video below!
Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP
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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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”
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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