Posts Tagged ‘the plurals’

Decades release new music; Bermuda Snohawk 2012 compilation released

photo courtesy of Decades' Facebook page

Lansing, MI powerpop band Decades have released a couple new songs entitled “Grand Haven” and “Come In” on their Bandcamp. Check them out and download them for free.

Elsewhere, the 2012 edition of the annual Bermuda Snohawk compilation has been released by Bermuda Mohawk Productions and Good Time Gang Records. Featuring parodies of Carly Rae Jepsen (by none other than Foxy Rae Jepsen), the recent Paul McCartney and Nirvana collaboration “Cut Me Some Slack” entitled “Smells like Wonderful Christmastime List” along with a few traditional Christmas songs and a few covers, this compilation never disappoints. Check that out here.

Secret Identities: Lansing Covers Lansing

Lansingmusic.TV will soon be releasing its first compilation in tandem with our friends at Good Time Gang Records. It’s called Secret Identities: Lansing Covers Lansing. It features The Plurals, The Break Ups, Drinking Mercury, Fields of Industry, Cavalcade and more. I’m working on a release show for the CD. The CD’s Facebook page is here. Please stay up to date on the compilation via the website, Facebook and our Twitter page. Stay Tuned!

The Plurals/Frank and Earnest “Funemployment” Split 7″ Review

So, the Good Time Gang has finally entered the world of vinyl with a split 7″ featuring The Plurals and Frank and Earnest with two songs a piece. About damn time!

Here’s a review.

The bands alternate tracks here, starting with The Plurals’ “The Best Years of My Life Were in College”. The song features everything you can expect from The Plurals: throaty melodic singing, tight instrumentation, noisy guitars and thumping bass. Bassist/vocalist Nich Richard’s signature line here is “Who gives a fuck about tomorrow?/Who gives a fuck about today anyway”. The song just kind of feels average. Nothing special; a good song but given the band just put out a full length, it just has B SIDE written all over it and rightfully so. Not a good or bad thing. It just is.

The next track by The Plurals fronted by vocalist/guitarist Tommy McCord, “Summary of Your Life”,  has a lot more going on than the previous track. McCord’s vocals are pretty standard. Melodic yet screamy; tuneful yet oddly stoic. Backing vocals by drummer/vocalist Hattie Danby and bassist Richard are a nice layer and counter to McCord. The song features lots of guitar textures from lone guitar notes feeding back to scratchy, high end wails and sawing guitar chords. “I recognize I’m not the one” is the chorus line here.

Frank and Earnest’s side of the split features two of my most favorite live tracks to hear from them at shows, “Turning Pipe Dreams Into Pipe Realities” and “GTG Fest”. McCheese’s humbucker guitar lines slice through the more solid chords of Hassenger. The drums are tight and the bass pushes the song along nicely. I really like the dueling vocal between McCheese and Hassenger as well. Hassenger sings “I don’t want a life of fame and fortune/I just want a world without the torture of politics, overtime, the red and black on the bottom line/World with borders and boundaries out of sight”. Hassenger thinks it could be his “pipe dream” while McCheese counters in shouts, “Fuck your pipe dream/it will never be your pipe reality”. The mental story in the song is really intriguing. It gives you a sense of the second thoughts we all face in our daily lives and our directions in life.

The second track by Frank and Earnest, “GTG Fest”, is a short and fast song about the Good Time Gang festival, GTG Fest. One of my all time favorite lyrics is in this song. The line “forget about tomorrow/this is where I wanna be” describes how I feel when I go to a great show, hanging with lots of friends having the time of my life. It’s that feeling when you walk away from the show just absolutely blown away and you’re living in the moment. It’s that feeling when you know you’ll never forget what you just witnessed. As heavy as I’m describing that one lyric, the song is short and sweet, which is apt. It can’t be too long or it loses its power. The power chords and single note guitar lines crunch and chime along. During the chorus, drummer Ryan Horky kills the bass drum and smashes the cymbals. A great song that describes a moment in time that you’ll never forget.

Overall, The Plurals side is a good set of songs but given that they just put out a full length, the songs have B side written on them. Nothing bad about that, it’s just the way it is. Frank and Earnest’s side features some live favorites on tape. Great lyrics and awesome instrumentation although hearing and seeing the songs live makes them even more special. Go pick this up here.

Christmas in September: Johnny Unicorn at Mac’s Bar Review

Christmas definitely came early for those who saw Johnny Unicorn‘s set at Mac’s Bar on Friday September 3rd. Unicorn, who released Sweet Edith Manton this Summer, came to Mac’s Bar on his first national tour that started earlier this year. What the audience got were the gifts of a good time, funny moments and rocking music from Good Old Johnny Unicorn.

Accompanied only by his guitar and a programmed synth, his set started off with some improvisation, which is indicative of his progressive rock roots. He then went straight into the ballad, The River Grand. This showcased his incredible singing talent and catchy songwriting side. The melody itself as well as the knife-cuttingly high notes he hits help it stay in your head and keep you into the song. Johnny is also capable of melting faces with his rock music too. Science, a new song from Manton, was driven by his pulsating guitar lines and the build up, breakdown style of the verses. The end of  the song is where the heaviness kicks in and then, it’s over in a flash. Quick and rocking, a good combination.

Going from rocking to another ballad like White Man, Red Hand may seem like a momentum killer but with Johnny, he keeps the audience in the palm of his hand. Again, his singing ability is on display and that’s what is captivating about his performance. He can substitute a rocking guitar line with his voice yet still keep the same attention of the audience. The Johnny Unicorn experience continued with yet another style change into rap music with the song Bull Crap. As I was listening, it was hard to accurately pick out what he was saying; only small words and phrases leaked out. He ran circles around me with his faster-than-a-jack-rabbit wordplay and lyricism. He also demonstrated his incredible talent to get the audience involved in the songs by getting the crowd to chant along to the chorus of “Bull Crap!”. I knew before I had ever seen him play live that he was something special, but it was this song that confirmed it.

The next song, Riverman, brought everyone back to the 1980s (even if they weren’t alive then). Marching band-esque horn synths jammed along as Unicorn sings quirky lines like “put your lips inside me for your health”. Weird Al is a stated influence of Unicorn’s and this song shows that. Aware of the Bear takes another musical turn, this time into country music. As with his rapping and ballads, he excels at this style as well. Midway through the song he got the crowd to hold a multitude of notes (none of which I can name) and the crowd did surprisingly well.

After this musical lesson from Professor Unicorn, the set ended with a song certainly befitting the month of September, I Can’t Believe It’s Christmas. Regardless of the month, the song was a great cap to the show. His set included everything from rock, rap and country to the crowd chanting along and singing. This show was probably the best, most enjoyable and engrossing show I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t had the chance to see him play, do yourself a favor and go see him. You won’t regret it.

Visit his website, johnnyunicorn.com, for the remaining tour dates on this current tour. For more Johnny Unicorn music, visit http://johnnyunicorn.bandcamp.com/ for free downloads.

Setlist:

The River Grand
Science
White Man Red Hand
Bullcrap
Riverman
Aware of the Bear
A Letter from the Patriarchy
I Can’t Believe it’s Christmas

Review: The Plurals – “Whatevers Forever”

This record is like Superman. Yes, Superman. In the way he embodies everything ideal about America and its greatness, “Whatever’s Forever” embodies everything ideal and great about ’80s and ’90s Alternative Rock. Superman and Alternative Rock…I never thought those two things would be able to be compared. But they did and there’s nothing you can do about! Onto the review….

“Whatevers Forever” by The Plurals  is full of pastiches and indulgences into the many different styles of Alternative Rock that emerged during the ’80s and ’90s. The band name checks Alternative Rock trailblazers Nirvana, Husker Du and The Pixies (among other groups) as influences on their sound and it shows. This is not a bad thing, however, as although you and I may easily recognize these influences, the sound is given The Pluralization treatment (ha!) by mixing the talents of Nicholas Richard (bass/vocals), Tommy McCord (guitar/vocals) and Hattie Danby (drums/vocals) into something purely Plurals.

The opener, “Plurality”, is driven by Danby’s pounding drum rhythm and the undeniably catchy harmonies of Danby and McCord. The crunching, punchy guitars add an extra layer to the already in-your-face arrangement. McCord’s lead vocals are hoarse and loud and only get more raucous as the song progresses, ending with him screaming like a mad man. The song ends with McCord screaming the lines “I only wanna be true because I love you” over and over, almost sounding like he’d blow his voice out at any moment.

“Sleepy Girl”, the second stop on the journey, holds up the Pixies at the bank of Quiet-Loud and reaps the rewards of a great song (and no jail time). During the verses, Richard’s vocals are in the call-and-response style with a “yeah?” bring about an almost creepy feeling to the song’s sparse verse arrangement of drums and a clean guitar. As the chorus explodes, so does everything else. The guitars come out of their cages and the vocals are soaring high….then only to come floating back down again quietly, then get pushed back up again….you get the idea. It’s like a roller coaster of destruction and reconstruction but it’s actually a song and not a roller coaster.

The next song, “Medic” continues to fine tune the previously established quiet-loud idea heard so far. However, where other bands are continually beating this long-dead horse, it feels refreshing, mainly due to Danby’s lead vocals. The intro feels pulled from the playbook of Husker Du or Nirvana, being loud and heavy yet not necessarily in-your-face. You know that a quieter section is on the horizon.  Everything about the song is solid yet it doesn’t have the catchy qualities of the earlier songs.

Things take a turn down the wrong back road with “FTS (Idekwacs)”. McCord and Richard’s anguished screams swarm at you like killer bees and the instrumentation stings you some more with all the band’s gear taking on lives of their own with corrosive intensity. The only thing about the song that saves it from being a bees nest of noise are Danby’s backing vocals and those are even hard to spot among the chaos. Not my favorite song on the record but it’s short so that gives it some points on the board.

We get back on track with “All That You’ll Be”. Danby’s vocal talents are on display as she hits many different ranges and notes that had not previously been displayed. Her vocal talents help the song become a highlight on the record. Instrument-wise, acoustic guitars lead the way, with electric guitars producing feedback and chiming in here and there. The bass has mostly the same role, but it also provides melody and structure among the low-in-the-mix swathing guitars.

“Singalong” makes you do exactly that. With an instantly hummable intro, it sucks you in and you begin to sing along. Its done its job. Then as McCord sings over the guitar-producing melody, it pulls you in even further. Once the chorus hits, you know that you’ll be singing along no matter what. The bridge brings back the vocalized intro, then comes the guitar solo. Structure-wise, it’s pretty standard but it does its job to get you listening and humming along.

We almost get lost again with the song “Grumpy Willy” but we manage to stay on track somehow. Drawing heavily on the trademark melodic noise of Sonic Youth, the yelling of Hardcore Punk and the melody of Husker Du, the band delves into new sound territory on the record. McCord brings about a sense of normalcy with his short, quiet verse parts and light backing vocals. With about a minute to go, all hell breaks loose as McCord’s quiet verse is laid over top of Richard’s disturbed screams and not to mention the noisy, anything-goes guitar. The song, with all its chaos, ends not with a bang but with a slow, whimpering fade out.

With ‘Shy”, I feel like it’s the same road traveled as “All That You’ll Be” but with McCord taking over lead vocal duties instead of Danby. However, this doesn’t make the song any less great. In fact, it’s the best on the record. Something about it just gives me chills when I listen to it and I’m not sure why. As the pulsing acoustic guitar line keeps you drawn to the song, McCord calmly and serenely sings lines like “I smile the kind of smile distant cousins share at a funeral”. The song is very somber and almost empowering in its tone of grief. Yet, it isn’t a sad grief, more like “a new beginning”-feel to it. The song ends with feedback from an electric guitar. It is a subtle way to end such an emotional song.

“Sweet Shallow Malossy Our House Is Whatever” probably my least favorite song. The song travels through many different styles, from a stripped down intro and verses, to a slightly louder middle section then to a full-blown guitar freakout towards the middle and to the end. Many styles are covered in the space of seven minutes and they are all ones that have been covered better elsewhere on the record. From the quieter sections to the hell raising loud noise, it all seems duplicated. The song as a whole has its moments but each section feels separated and distinct.

Finally we’ve come back to Pluralsville with the end of the record in “Hanging Up”. Over a lone guitar, McCord recycles another vocal melody from “Medic”. He sings with Danby backing “And when you get all settled in, don’t count on me to still be waiting when you call, when you call”. Once this ends with a loud guitar chord blast, a new section begins with Richard yelling over an almost funky beat. This ends just as quickly and the record as a whole comes to a close.

Overall this record is something that any fan of Nirvana, The Pixies or lesser known bands like Husker Du and The Minutemen can get behind. Every style of Alternative Rock is covered here and done well. Even the songs that lack in some areas, excel in others. There is something that anyone can pick out and like. My personal favorite songs are “Plurality” and “Shy”. I like the record as a whole but, like everyone else, there are songs that stand out.

Visit The Plurals on Facebook and on myspace at myspace.com/thepluralsrock

The Plurals on Lansingmusic.tv: \”Squagel\”

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