Since The Life and Times formed, oh, roughly 1,825 days ago and began disarming audiences and critics with unbelievably loud yet relentlessly beautiful music, the main constant for the band has been how uncategorizable they’ve remained. Sure, they’re a “rock band”, but one that skirts the boundaries of this word in each song, tipping their collective cap to the giants that loom in each melody.
Yes, they’re still moody, spacey, sonically overwhelming, symphonic and always grandiose. But threading these traits together is the same obsessive attention to detail from singer Allen Epley, drummer Chris Metcalf and bassist Eric Abert that was the calling card of Suburban Hymns (DeSoto) and each subsequent release. The music made for their 2nd full length release Tragic Boogie (Arena Rock) reflects a process that’s even more detail-obsessed than earlier efforts.
Quoth Allen Epley (gtr/vocs/etc), “We wanted to make the kind of record that a big-name band with a lot of money might make, except we don’t have any money. But we said what the hell and decided to do it anyway by going in debt and built our own studio and recorded it in my basement”. The result is a record with layered intricacies that rewards repeated listenings. It’s also one that heavily scratches that rock itch, ahem, but doesn’t drown you in Gee Whiz Factor bullshit.
Josh Staples (of The Velvet Teen), Sara Sanger & Julia Lancer formed The New Trust in early 2003, first as a vehicle for a handful of short, upbeat & dark, punk-tinged-pop-songs penned by Staples, but over the years have evolved TNT into a true collaborative vision of the three. Darker, starker, and more quixotic than ever, The New Trust’s sixth album, “Upset The Tides” emerged from writing retreats to Lancer’s new home in Michigan, where the band would focus on completing a few songs at a time, perform them throughout the Midwest, and then return to Northern California to perform & record with friend and engineer, Jack Shirley (Comadre, Loma Prieta, Joyce Manor). The new album is reminiscent of the band’s beginnings – with ten songs in just around 30 minutes – but stylistically more lush and thoughtful, with recurring melodies and themes abound, surely reflecting the directions in which the group has grown in regards to both both their art and lives.
The title of Chicago quartet Pink Avalanche’s sophomore album “The Luminous Heart of Nowhere” might evoke a sense of an ethereal void, but its music is firmly rooted in midwestern underground rock. The band’s driving, bold melodic sound hearkens to that of myriad midwestern noisemakers like Rodan, Arcwelder and Naked Raygun. That’s not to suggest Pink Avalanche has any sort of retro vibe, but rather that their music clearly captures the essence of their surroundings.