When you look back a few years, it is not hard to see how hardcore and heavy music has changed in leaps rather than skips. You look at how style, both musically and aesthetically has changed and it is almost too much to comprehend when looking at things on a larger scale. Granted, bands like Earth Crisis and Strife have very little in common with bands of today like Atreyu and Eighteen Visions besides some general similarities, but at the same time, hardcore thrives with an undercurrent of independent bands that are making sure you can still do things the old fashioned way.
Breather Resist exist in that fertile music community of Louisville, Kentucky; where great bands such as Slint, Falling Forward, Endpoint and Elliot have all called home. Some having created some of the most passionate, diverse music around. Breather Resist themselves have a rich history for being a relatively new band. It is not every day that Jade Tree decides to release a stereotypically “heavy” release, but this band obviously sparked their interest; boasting members of The National Acrobat and Black Cross (not to mention the devastating music that they create).
This band just does everything right, from their look to their songs it how it all cohesively comes together in a manner that many bands only wish they could duplicate. With this full length, Breather Resist have created one of the best, if not the best, hardcore records to come out this year. Ugly, desperate and pulverizing, Charmer showcases that even songs that are loud and distorted can be pieced together to make songs rather than noise; which is what most would characterize this as. It hits hard, leaves a mark and would make bands like Deadguy even reconsider reforming to tour with this powerhouse. If you yearn for the days of bands booking their own tours and making enough money to get back out on the road, then listen to only one record this year: Charmer.
(Jade Tree Records)
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
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.