A bit short this week for releases but no shortage of good tunes... enjoy.
Mannequin Republic - Warm Globe (Maine)
An alternative rock / indie vibe runs through this with a sort of ramshackle 90's vibe and seems like its in danger of collapsing at any moment. This has a sort dual effect.. at times endearing and others more a marriage of convenience than anything. Not decidedly angular or mathy but thats fine I suppose just generally have issue when its claimed as such. (59%)
Not Enough - Stone *Instrumental* (Washington)
I get the feeling this is the effort of one individual but it is not explicitly stated. We have a few instrumental offerings that stand on the prog rock edge of metal core lite. The tracks are energetic and do well to convey and reference their predecessors. I cant shake the feeling that at times things get a bit too convoluted and detract from the songs. When things get slowed down and focused on i found myself being able to enjoy a bit more. (65%)
Junpei Iori // Kasi Split (Louisiana)
Split up between emo rock outfit Junpei Iori and the ambient post metal of Kasi.
I will say Kasi's half fair's a bit better on a couple fronts better adding interest and flavor to its respective genre and having some decently interesting riffs. As much as I do enjoy a solid anime reference I'm afraid the instrumental portion was.. passable? Riff's are don't try hard enough to stand out from the crowd and sadly the vocals end up pulling it down. Offkey vocals can work but these are unfortunately not endearing enough for a proper grade. (55%)
Ian Moore - Shitty Phone Demo (Spoiler they Suck) New Zealand
Here's a helpful tip for anyone deciding that their poorly written "Shoes and Socks Off" cribbing demands a proper release to the general public.
2. Don't announce it was recorded on your phone.. even if it was.
3. Calling your project more than terrible once in the actual album name never inspires confidence.
Haeva - The Force of Creation (Belgium)
Very solid sound and structured in an incredibly patient way without letting these feel like a drag through the woods as can often be the case. Sadly their really isn't a lot of new territory treading here but I'm not exactly sure thats the point. Never having been my favorite offshoot genre its hard for me to dig further into this (65%)
Extraneous Solutions - 4 X the Poison (New Hampshire)
I can appreciate the need for creative pushing but I've never been one to subscribe to the belief of setting time restraints on yourself in regards to timing. An album a month is impressive at face value but in execution it can in this case seem gimmicky. So if you like an album that is sort of all over the place (irritating keyboard jam outs, horrid distortion soaked guitars, intimate acoustic ballads with impossibly fake drums) then hey.. by all means. (41%)
Duke Mercury - Demo (UK)
Some groups I wish would play to their strengths more even if that means pulling back a bit on what might interest you more. Two Piece groups besides can be a tough call especially for the genre. I found myself far more impressed when these guys were less scream singing and keeping these on an even keel. Just sounded a bit more honest to me. The math portions lacked to me a certain emotional and physical punch that I am usually looking for. Its a short demo at three songs so I'm still very open to see what a proper release does for these guys. (58%)
Local Champion - Summer's Gone (Mexico)
Same straight forward guitars that you'd come to expect from an indie emo group in 2016.
Aurora Beam - Spare Parts (California)
Recycled Alt-Metal mixed with tired instrumental math...eh this just sounds a bit tired in general.. but so am I. (53%)
Contraluz - Demos 0.1 (Peru)
Largely instrumental post-rock math with a vision of sound. It doesn't take itself to seriously nor pack in too many knotted riffs. Instead we are treated to a nice two guitar attack that doesn't require effort to enjoy. Dancey riff's equally find footing among more ambient moments without seeming odd man out. Leveling some very real criticism.. this release is content to stay in safe territory treading old ground, and I suppose thats ok but some spice never hurts (69%)
Blacklight Chicago - Ellipsism (Australia)
I think the skill and heart are in the right place. I can see where this artist is coming from.. hell he spells it out pretty clearly that he was inspired by Plini's last album.. cool I can see that sure. For a first effort it has for the makings of something pretty cool albeit in the very same space as a lot of these contemplative prog-metal guitarists. Unfortunately a lot of the compositions get bogged a bit by over crowding or just simply trying to do too much. I'm spending a bit of time explaining because there are some genuinely solid moments, many of which happen when things are slowed down a bit and allowed to exist on their own. Guaranteed further releases should find him in a better place. (65%)
Mabachus - Ossia (Canada)
One track... but oh what a track! I do wish the guitar was pushed up in the mix.. everything just seems a bit silent which is certainly odd for a track that is pretty crushing and all over the place. Guttural growls, female crooning, proggy fast spoken vocals. Guitar and drums flying every which way on this prog metal alt math mash-up. I think one track makes not for an entire statement however.
Zoo Strategies - Languager (British Columbia)
The strongest Zoo Strategies release I've yet come across and thats a good thing for all of you beautiful peoples. Thats certainly not to say we had duds on our hands but that this album is just that good. It hits hard when it needs to ramping up knotted guitar work and balances it out with strong melodic bass lines and varied drums. These cats have always been masters of the false stops and starts, a tactic that many use and it sounds just awkward and awful. ZS use it to break up the compositions making transitions more seamless and ramping up explosive dives back in. It is not all together new territory sound wise and occasionally songs blend into one another but these are honestly nit picky gripes. Lauguager hits on such a high level that all fans of instrumental music will find something to love here (81%)
Exploder Than You - Lemon (UK)
These tracks are straight fire.. an all guns blazing affair.
Its a bit of shame to me because I feel like these cats haven't really gotten the due props they richly deserve. After listening to "Castle House" its pretty clear this should position them in the realm of math rock greats. Its a nuanced track in comparison to "Sesame Cake" that calls to mind classic group Johnny Foreigner in its boy/girl vocals, loud/soft transitions and catchy riff magic. Dynamically this is a different beast but does so in an easy to digest way, you almost forget that this is an intensely complex piece.. and that my friends is the true core of solid math rock and why this release is so damn good. A more mature take on their sound than last years Melon which I felt sort of didn't hit as hard as we have here. Riffs are dynamic and often pretty dang original in their sound adding in equal measures post-hardcore stabs and dizzy taps from both guitar and bass alike. A incredibly self assured statement in a landscape that is brim full of copy cat agents vying for you attention. This is the real deal, no doubt. (89%)
Zickey and The Condor - Zickey and The Condor (Colorado)
Sure this is sort of going outside my rules of searching only the "math rock" tag and venturing into "math" but hey.. it was a bit of a slow week for releases so as always I will try to bring you the best of the best. This is.. wonderful.. not wholly unique per say but often in the blue grass genre things can become old and worn. While that might be the idea behind the feel and flavor of such things, this group brings a true warmth and emotion to what I often write off. It has flavor and style while still holding true to its roots and found myself really enjoying some of the world music and jazz rhythms used. (82%)
Echoscape - Half Moon (Japan / NYC)
I feel.. like I've heard this cat before. There aren't many in the space doing similar folk math with such laser focus. Acoustic compositions I feel like always are aided better when the chord choices are inspired and try to change things up a bit and I really feel like this is done to an excellent degree giving this album as well a distinctly old and new school prog feel. The extra layer of drums also adds a needed driving force to these songs. Overall a very emotional outing without melodrama, keeping melodies light and memorable and rhythms interesting with just complexity. Rarely is this type of music given such reverence and care in composition. Everyone with a passing interest at all should give this at least two listens through. (88%)