But looking ahead, there’s a sense of renewal on album opener “Waking Up Again.” It’s a comforting charm of a track, so hopeful and sweet that it just radiates in your bones and warms you from the inside out. Hearn’s vocals layer in melodious harmonies and the twinkling xylophone sounds like beginning of spring raindrops tapping your head and slowly soaking into the roots of your hair.
There are going to be obvious comparisons to Taylor Swift, especially where Hearn navigates the realms of pop and country so easily and Swift crossed over in a snap. There’s also the matter of indie influence, where Swift makes tour mates out of HAIM and Vance Joy and has a Polaroid as an album cover, but her production values don’t reflect that sound. However, Emily Hearn has a stronger voice and comparatively pared-down production—there’s synth and live instruments together, not the over-stimulating Max Martin stuff. “Can’t Help Myself” is unapologetically sugar sweet and effusive in its pop sensibilities. “Save Me” is adorable as a kicky throwback to 50’s girl group tracks. “Thank God You’re Holding Me” is destined to be a wedding dance favorite.
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.
Muse “Drones” Review
Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter
Anger and sorrow: two emotions inextricably linked, the yin and yang of loss. Emotions that can drive human beings to implosion or to greatness. In the not too distant past, judging by a number of tragedies and crises in the Slipknot camp, implosion seemed a likely outcome.
Then again, Slipknot have always seemed on the edge of implosion, and this is part of what makes their music—and live performances, especially—feel so dangerous, yet so intoxicatingly fun.
Anger and sorrow are also the driving forces behind .5: The Gray Chapter. Balancing these emotions within the context of a metal album, without sounding forced or contrived, is no easy task, but Slipknot pulls it off with aplomb here. Take “AOV,” for starters, which alternates between furious verses and choruses you just have to sing along with before it slams the brakes completely and sinks into a bittersweet bridge section tailor-made for late nights under black lights. Or “Killpop,” a dark and twisted pseudo-ballad reminiscent of something from Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, minor and major key melodies intertwining and tightening like piano wire until the song explodes into complete chaos.
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