Clark is constantly touting itself as an environment full of diversity. When we hear this, usually we only hear it as a cultural or racial term, but truth be told, there is a whole other level to this university’s diversity: music. Three Clark groups have put their musicianship to the test and released EPs for consumption, and they couldn’t be farther apart from each other.
Band: The Great Whiskey Rebellion
Nick Checchio – Guitar
Emma Hyatt – Drums
Amy Levine – Fiddle, Vocals
Geo Poor – Bass, Vocals
Genre: Funky Celtic Old-Time Jazzy Knee-Slappin’ Rock
Album: On the Whiskey Trail
Where to get it: Groove Shark
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to mix Celtic electric fiddle, pounding tribal drums, Middle Eastern guitar riffs, and ad a lot of rocking attitude, look no further. And if you’ve ever seen them play live, you know just what to expect from On the Whiskey Trail. The Great W hiskey Rebellion is about to knock your socks off.
The opening track, “Elzic’s Farewell” is short, sweet, and to the point, giving you a perfect instrumental introduction to the foursome’s powerful combo of styles and talent.
“Greasy Coat” is classic Whiskey sound. They’ve got some twang and some traditional aspects with blues-inspired lyrics about ladies, love, and vices, but as a band, they never get their feet too wet into one genre, making them a good mixture for fans of various styles. “Stay All Night/Policeman” is another one that’s a little more country-like, harkening to the bar scene with a chorus of backing vocals cheering on the whiskey soaked lyrics.
Songs like the instrumental “Cooley’s Reel” and “O’Rourke’s Sandwich” lean more to their Celtic mood, but travel out to some up-tempo, rock progressions, too. The band definitely keeps you on your toes. At times it’s all too easy to image the fiddle as shredding electric guitar riffs.
The trail then takes you to some more exotic places, incorporating Flamenco and Middle Eastern guitar as the tom-toms drive the beat home. “March of the Plowing Elephants” is probably my personal favorite on the EP. The Great Whiskey Rebellion does an excellent job of fully incorporating the versatility of their instruments and playing delving into many different styles while doing so.
The band finishes on a good note, making me wish there was another track.
My only real negative comment about On the Whiskey Trail is that like with any other studio recording, it’s impossible to fully capture the true essence of the band. It’s difficult to do a band real justice by cramming them into a box with no audience, and after seeing The Great Whiskey Rebellion various times in person, the prerecorded material left we wanting to see the powerful dynamics I heard. This only speaks to the band’s awesome stage presence, though. That being said, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of On the Whiskey Trail to tide you over between shows because this band is a must see, no matter your taste in music.
Band: The Reverend Robot
Genre: Alternative Hip Hop
Album: Sermons Vol. 1: Infinite Capacity
Where to get it: Reverb Nation
This one’s a little different. Not a band, but a primarily one-man thing, and I’ve also never heard any of this EP live, so take that for what it’s worth. Upon pressing play, the first word that comes to mind to describe the sound is dense. Lyrics pack a lot of meaning into each of the tracks, and I found myself stopping intermittently just to give my brain a chance to metabolize it all.
In the first blip of the intro. track, “Creating Something Out of Nothing” (with a beat from “Building Steam With A Grain of Salt” by DJ Shadow) comes some great lines: “Turn that Lady Gaga off before you drift off to bed/ Instead why don’t you spend some time with all the voices in your head.” Though a bit cliché in its testament to let listeners in and open up through the EP, Reverend Robot’s tracks to follow narrate a lot of very personal events.
The Revered Robot raises some interesting issues in his song. In “Canvas” with an original beat taken from a Chinese-inspired remix of a Gorillaz song, racial ignorance and white pride are addressed. While some tracks are heavy in subject matter, you’ll also find songs strictly the opposite.
With all the styles sampled on Infinite Capacity, this alternative hip hop EP has a pretty good chance at appealing to listeners. “Baptism (By Fire)” has some electronica/dance sounds and autotune. “Hold the Line” turns up the distortion and sounds a little more like rock.
Infinite Capacity sounds like an experiment in its early stages. It’s a little jumbled in places and gets a little messy. Personally, lyrics that boast about the artist’s prowess (found here, as common in a lot of rap music) just seem unnecessary to me. If you’re good, you don’t need to keep telling people; they’ll just know. That is just my opinion though, and I’m sure plenty of folks will enjoy giving this digital download a listen. Even if hip hop isn’t your usual fallback, you’ll probably enjoy at least a couple of the sampled beats. Reverend Robot has a good mixture of interesting sounds and mixes.
Band: Britney’s Spear
Tom Hamill- Guitar
Alan Grunberg- Guitar
Zach Schnitzer- Drums
Keegan Allen- Bass
Album: We Fight Entropy
Where to get it: Britney\’s Spear . com
12 songs. 42.3 minutes of some fast-paced, pretty tightly wound grinding punk music. I’ll admit that I was a bit reluctant to review Britney’s Spear’s new digital release. After seeing the band live on campus a while ago I didn’t think the band had much to offer. Frankly they were sloppy, but I suppose that’s to be expected from a new band.
Contrary to my initial impression, We Fight Entropy sounds a lot more together than I remember the band sounding. Whether that’s due to the changes in live versus studio recording or them having practiced a bit more, I’m not sure, but something is working.
I’m also admittedly not a huge fan of the power chord-driven, sometimes monotonous drive of most punk music. Sure I’ve got some Dead Kennedys, some L7, and some Distillers on my playlist, but it usually takes something not so compartmentalized to pique my interest.
The album’s opening track, “Sweaty and Petty” at times reinforces my slight negativity towards punk music. It does get a little repetitive at times, but it’s an excellent kick-off to the album. It builds quickly, doesn’t fill you up on lyrics, letting you save room for Tom Hamill’s guitar fills which I believe often serve to set the band apart from being like other punk bands.
The second track, “Burning Billboards” is pretty straightforward. The vocals are your stereotypical shouted, angst-filled punk vocals, but the band pays careful attention to not let the tempo get too out of control. They reel it in and switch things up a lot throughout their songs. Britney’s Spear has dynamics, unlike most punk music that finds a rut and gets stuck in it. They morph and build, and it works. “Old Wolves’ Tale” is a good example. “Lounging” is also a more eclectic arrangement.
That being said, I wasn’t a fan of some of the tracks simply because I felt like they had no defining characteristics. I think it’s very important that each song in an album’s lineup has its own persona and niche between the other tracks. We Fight Entropy sometimes left me hanging.
“Dream Big”? The vocals were a little distracting. Not one of the better tracks, in my opinion. The same goes for “Back To The Neighborhood.”
Lyrically, Britney’s Spear is pretty great. Some of the songs are a tad melodramatic, but overall I found it to be a nice release and clever at times. There’s just something intrinsically adolescent about punk, and We Fight Entropy with its jeering tones and anti-authority anthems hits this nail on the head.
The consensus: even though I’m not a big fan of punk music, I’m leaving some of these tracks on my iTunes list (something I honestly didn’t expect myself to do). I was pleasantly surprised with We Fight Entropy, and I’d encourage you both as someone who plays music personally and someone who loves expanding their musical horizons to give their EP a download.