Tag Archives: Rock

The Heavy

Courtesy of MySpace

The Heavy MySpace

We live in a strange time. Whereas a performer once had to have actual talent in order to make a great album, the advent of Pro Tools and other computer programs of that nature have allowed even the worst of bands to sound surprisingly decent. Upon hearing what they perceive as a great new band, music fans must question whether it is the band’s skills or the technology that define the sound. Oftentimes, you can never aptly discern a band’s skills until you see the band live. Even then, however, it’s sometimes hard to know for sure.

Among the throngs of up-and-coming bands with songs and production as sterile and clean as a hospital room, The Heavy is a welcome shot in the arm.
Hailing from the small hamlet of Noid, England (a make-believe location as far as I know), The Heavy attack their listeners with a unique combination of soul, funk, rock, reggae and punk (sometimes within the same song). Founded by Kelvin Swaby (vocals) and Daniel “Dan T.” Taylor (guitar), their 2009 album The House That Dirt Built offers a raw and rollicking journey through the band’s unique sound. Sharp guitar riffs and Stax-era horns propel the dynamic single “How You Like Me Now.” With a voice drenched in rock-star confidence, Swaby coos “I’ve been a bad, bad man” with a lilt that suggests we should have no reason to think otherwise.
“Cause For Alarm,” meanwhile, has the band stripping down and strutting around their reggae skills with Swaby adopting the necessary cadences and reverb. “Oh No! Not You Again” screams with the urgency and fervor of a traditional blues song filtered through a punk mentality. Likewise, the soulful “That Kind of Man” and funky “Coleen” sounds like something straight out of a cool 1970s blaxploitation film.

Banishing polish in favor of grit, The Heavy more than proves their namesake. If such an unconventional band can teach us anything, it is this: if you want to make great music, you got to get a bit dirty sometimes.
—By Entertainment Editor Mark Rozeman




Annuals Myspace

In the summer of 2007, I was stuck in suburban Nashville, working a banal job answering phone calls and being verbally assaulted by real estate agents well into their mid-life crises. So when Bonnaroo came back again to Manchester, Tennessee for its annual festival of drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll right before my birthday, I was unfortunately left behind in the alternate world of sobriety, celibacy and office music (which is mostly “Fix You” by Coldplay, one of the great musical gag-inducers).

However, my good friends attended – much to my jealousy – and got a first glance at Annuals, a band whose live performance blew them all away. They even got to meet lead singer Adam Baker and keyboardist slash singer slash hottie Anna Spence, who signed their debut album, Be He Me, for me in honor of my birthday. Granted, Baker penned the phrase “Happy 20th birthday, Jeff!” on the record – inaccurate in both year count and the spelling of my name – but my friends loved their music so much they didn’t have the heart to tell them they were wrong.

The six-piece band’s work juxtaposes beautifully synchronized strings with bizarre electonica noise to create a sound that is both violently emotional and uniquely poppy. Vocalist Baker alternates between sweet harmonies and urgent screaming during songs, giving Annuals’ tunes the ability to suddenly alternate between tones of love and hate.

For instance, in their song “Sore” from their recent Wet Zoo EP, the band uses a continual, poetic verse, complete with melodic violins and quiet, controlled percussion to build the tune for nearly two minutes. Finally, Baker bursts into a bombastic and triumphant chorus. The song matches the tone of exhaustion in the verse, singing about the tiring nature of the every day, with a joyous chorus about love getting you through these sore times.

Their previous work on 2006’s Be He Me includes plenty of other brilliant tunes. On their “blog-phenomenon” hit “Brother”, which gained significant recognition from Pitchfork Media and Spin.com, the band is barely audible through the first half of the song. But once Baker gives the signal, his group explodes sonically and doesn’t stop until the final seconds. Annuals’ diametric use of volume, precision and tone creates some of the most exciting tunes around.

The Raleigh, NC indie-rock group is releasing their sophomore effort, Such Fun, on Oct. 7, and is coming to Atlanta this fall. Although Annuals may not be able to accurately spell or count years, they are still able to put out phenomenal shows and records that will leave your ears anything but “sore.”

by Asst. Entertainment Editor Geoff Schorkopf

The Bastard Suns

Courtesy of Unable Records

The Bastard Suns – “My Pint”
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There’s nothing too radical about punk music, reggae influence is pretty mainstream nowadays, and most people are at least vaguely familiar with the concept of Irish drinking music.

Combining these three genres, however – well, now you’re getting innovative.

This is exactly what Atlanta band the Bastard Suns aims to do. With their clashing guitar chords and harsh, devil-may-care lyrics, the group is undeniably punk. But every now and then, some new instrumentation will take over and suddenly, you’re listening to a punk group perform in Jamaica, or perhaps in a Dublin pub.

The head-bobbing “My Pint” is a perfect example. Although the lyrics (“It’s all right as long as I’ve got a pint!”) fit perfectly with Irish – or perhaps just college – drinking culture, the drum beats make certain parts of the song sound like Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols had a few too many and started jamming.

The Bastard Suns like to keep things fun. This becomes most evident on “Drop the Hammer.” Although the song has a darker sound to it and contains the lines, “This world is too full of pain and there are too many to blame/They kill for fame/Or they kill and they claim that they did it in God’s name,” it’s still an ode to partying and finding a fun way to escape the harshness of reality.
Don’t pick up the Bastard Suns’ latest album – Dropping Expectations, a collaboration with punky pals No Fuego – if you want something thought-provoking. But on the eve of spring break, who would want that anyway?

To read more about Bastard Suns, check out our extended profile of the band online at www.emorywheel.com.

— By Asst. Entertainment Editor Ani Vrabel

The Plastic Constellations


The Plastic Constellations, “Floated Down and Flew Around”

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If any of the guys from The Plastic Constellations invite themselves over to your place for a drink, do not oblige. The band cites “beer and gin” as its primary influences on its MySpace page, while the “Sounds Like” section reads as follows: “4 dudes drinking your beer and dancing in your living room while you try to sleep because you have to wake up early tomorrow for work or school.” After listening to the Constellations yet-to-be-released album, We Appreciate You — their debut Frenchkiss release drops April 15 — its clear these biographic tid-bits are, well, true. The band is constantly teetering on the edge of implosion, belligerence running rampant among the dueling guitars and vocals.

But much like a “good drunk,” the Constellations never completely lose it: We Appreciate You is riddled with anthemic choruses, making the prospect of them dancing in your living room much more feasible. “Stay That Way” begins with a howling introduction only to be juxtaposed by (relatively) quiet “la la las” midway through the song. And that’s just the first song: The remainder of We Appreciate You boasts winding nonsensical lyrics (noises) that you can’t help but singalong to.

The most brilliant aspect of the Constellations, however, is that their sound would translate beautifully to any stage with any number of onlookers — the band has enough angst and energy to fill whatever voids may be left over. You know, on second thought, invite these guys over to drink your alcohol next time they’re around — if you’re prepared to lose that precious $60 piece of framed art, you’ll have yourself one hell of a party, albeit a lot less beer.

— By Entertainment Editor Chris French