Ear to the tracks

Ear to the tracks

Late blooming albums for your year end lists

 By: Justin Kreitzer

 

Well, 2013 is nearly over and as far as music goes it was an absolutely incredible year, with top notch releases from indie rock mainstays such as Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros, Daft Punk and Okkervil River taking most of the headlines. Before you start making your year end lists, however, I would like to submit a couple of under the radar releases that demand your attention.

Healing Power// Healing Power EP// Broken Circle Records//December 2013

 Cincinnati-based psychedelic dream-pop purveyors Healing Power sadly just held their farewell show Nov. 30 at the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Ky. For fans of the band’s infectiously danceable and soulful brand of indie/pop it was bittersweet because, as one last hurrah, the band has also just released a final self-titled EP – a one-sided 12” out now on Cincinnati’s own Broken Circle Records.Formerly known as the Pomegranates, the band changed its name to Healing Power prior to its amicable breakup to reflect a slight change in its musical style that leaned more toward a synth-driven dance/pop sound and with a sharper focus on its uplifting and positive lyrical message. The four songs on the band’s final EP reflect that change; opener “House Of My Mortal Father” is a rousing rave-up with a hip-shaking rhythm of rumbling drums and choppy guitars.  Following that is a revved-up surf/rock reimagining of “Surfing The Human Heart,” the outstanding ballad-esque closing track from Heaven, which is now outfitted with thumping drums and propulsive guitars. Another new song, the standout new single “Heartache,” is a love song with cozy acoustic guitar-strumming, some room-filling organ swells and a punchy drum beat accentuate the catchy, sing-a-long chorus. The much-too-short EP closes out with the epic, six-minute “Merry Okee” with its reverb-rich guitars and gossamer dream-pop melodies.

With its final release, Healing Power has left us with something to remember it by.

Save Ends//Warm Hearts, Cold Hands//Tiny Engines//November 2013

 The Boston-based five-piece Save Ends recently released their long-awaited debut album Warm Hearts, Cold Hands via Tiny Engines Records. Building upon the success of their two EPs released in 2010 and 2012, the band – led by the male/female vocal interplay of Brendan Cahill and Christine Atturio – creates instantly memorable and nostalgia-inducing melodies bolstered by surging, ’90s emo-tinged Midwest indie rock in the same vein as The Anniversary and Rilo Kiley. The new album was recorded by Jay Maas of Defeater, who has also produced for such bands as Title Fight and Transit.The album opens with “PunkORama 30,” which slowly builds into a euphoric and cathartic rush that continues into “We Are The Only Ones,” with its driving rhythm and dueling male/female vocals that drip with passion. Standout track “A Life They Wrote” is highlighted by a head-nodding half-time beat and Atturio’s bittersweet vocals. With clever lyrical references to Stephen King novels and Dungeons & Dragons, Save Ends makes emo for the nerd in all of us. Another standout track, “Song Of Susannah” is an anthem with chugging guitars and a punchy pop/punk intensity that is impossibly energetic and catchy.

With their very promising debut, Save Ends have proven themselves as a band to watch during this year’s resurgence of “emo.”

Matt Pryor//Wrist Slitter//Equal Vision/Rory Records//November 2013 

 Matt Pryor – a veteran of the polarizing “emo-era” of the late ’90s and early 2000s as the frontman of The Get Up Kids – returns with his excellent new solo album, Wrist Slitter, out now on Rory Records/Equal Vision. In recent years, he has played acoustic-based folk rock with The New Amsterdams and even made a children’s album with the Terrible Twos. Lately, he and fellow Get Up Kid James Dewees of Reggie and the Full Effect have been touring together and, prior to the release of Wrist Slitter, the duo released a collaborative self-titled EP on Rory Records. The three-song EP perfectly combines the anthemic pop sensibility of The Get Up Kids and the synth-driven heaviness of Reggie And The Full Effect. After Pryor’s quieter forays into folk, it’s fun to hear him let loose again.

On Wrist Slitter, he sounds renewed after nearly quitting music and working on a farm for a spell prior to writing the album and most of the songs. The opener, “The House Hears Everything” and the insanely catchy first single, “Kinda Go To Pieces” are propelled by the same youthful and passionate exuberance that made the Get Up Kids so powerful. Mirroring his highly praised “Nothing To Write Home” podcast series – where he interviews his musician friends – Bob Nanna (Braid, Hey Mercedes) and Chris Conley of Saves The Day both appear on the infectiously upbeat and pop-leaning “Before My Tongue Becomes A Sword” and Steve Soboslai of Punchline guests on the standout track “Words Get In The Way.” In showcasing his multi-dimensional songwriting chops, Pryor’s folk influence is represented on the 12-song album by the short, creaky banjo-led title track, with its multi-tracked vocals and aching, straight-from-the-diary lyrics and with the breezy folk of “Foolish Kids” with its laid back vibe and jangly guitars.

For a nostalgic trip down memory lane, be sure to pick up Wrist Slitter by Matt Pryor – it really isn’t as much of a downer as the album title might suggest.

Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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