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Bayside – Sirens and Condolences

On Sirens and Condolences, Bayside lacks any unique elements that can be called their own and show very little song variety

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Hi friends! Today we will learn how to make a derivative emo rock band. Yes, I know your CD case is probably packed with derivative emo bands already, but find a place in your heart for one more. They’re easy to make! First, take the gloomy imagery and masochistic lyricism of Alkaline Trio, then add the melodic vocals of Midtown and stir in the metallic riffs of Thrice. Simmer on stove-top for fifteen minutes and chill overnight. In the morning, revel in the glories of music that can be described completely with characteristics of better, more established bands.

The band we just created is Bayside, one of Victory’s latest signings and yet another buzz band from Long Island. On Sirens and Condolences, Bayside lacks any unique elements that can be called their own (unless you count the uncanny resemblance to Alkaline Trio) and show very little song variety. While the album starts to pick up towards the end, the last three tracks are unable to compensate for seven tracks of tedium.

Highlights are few and far between, but each of guitarist Jack’s solos outshines all other aspects of the music and manages to resuscitate the songs, at least temporarily. Singer Anthony’s vocals are generic, and while the dark, self-loathing lyrics are above average in these trying times of “wahhh my girlfriend dumped me na na na” songs, the melodies and vocals are ineffective. Songs like “Phone Call From Poland” and “Masterpiece” just don’t grab the listener; the album as a whole is neither catchy nor exciting and the debut fails both as a product and an artistic collective.

In fact, Sirens and Condolences is pretty close to terrible, spiraling into the underworld of the mediocre and uninspired. Decent efforts like “Poison In My Veins” and “If You’re Bored” may find their way onto a worthy mix or compilation, but most of the album leaves lasting impressions of being rushed fillers. Bayside, who started up during the winter of 2000, are still a young band with potential and if they are able to find a niche and style of their own, they could achieve some level of success. The talent is obviously there, but the majority of the work here is unmemorable at best. To make matters worse, some of these songs gave me the overwhelming urge to take a cheese shredder to my ears.

(Victory Records)

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Hatchie – Keepsake

Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars

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Hatchie Keepsake

Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.

There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.

However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.

The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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