It is with great remorse that I report that, after a decade and a half dozen studio albums, frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala announced his departure from progressive rock band The Mars Volta.

Last night, 23 January, 2013 at 9:39pm EST, Cedric discussed the announcement via Twitter in a series of twenty successive tweets:

Among the matters discussed in the tweets are the hiatus that the Mars Volta announced late last year, Omar’s work in other projects, Cedric’s own work with his solo project, as well as an allusion to Omar’s less charismatic performance during the At The Drive-In reunion tour, shortly prior to which Omar’s mother passed away.

Less than ten hours earlier, UK music magazine NME posted a brief interview with Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, guitarist-songwriter of The Mars Volta and longtime partner of Cedric, to discuss his new band, Bosnian Rainbows. In the interview, Omar discussed working with Cedric and the current discontinuation thereof:

It’s been very strange being without Cedric. It’s one of those bittersweet moments, it’s great for both of us because he’s making this great solo record, which is more of an acoustic thing. I’m really excited to hear another side of him and to work on music without me. He’s composing all the music, playing all the instruments, literally doing everything himself, rather than just singing over the top of my songs.

As of this posting, Omar has not publicly responded to Cedric’s tweets.

 

|||Cedric’s Twitter|||Bosnian Rainbows on NME|||Bosnian Rainbows on SoundCloud|||

-A.

HHAAOD

Salvatore is no stranger to ITR?. He is an occasional contributor to our blog, plus his music has been featured here in the forms of Twincities and this self-titled solo project. We wrote up Days in Vice about 2 years ago, and to say he’s come a long way is a major understatement. He’s been an older brother to me since the age of 6, and I’ve had the pleasure to see his sound progress and mature. The first time I saw him play live was a cozy, little show in E.’s basement on my birthday; though the bastard never did play “Freebird”, his honest, humble style of playing will suck you in with every note.

I’m preparing you right now: you will cry. No matter who you are, how Über-masculine or unemotional you claim to be, his lyrics will move you. The reason for this is simple: we’ve all been in his shoes. Maybe not the same style or size, but we’ve all been on the bad end of break-ups. We’ve all felt used and forgotten. We’ve all been crushed by the weight of the world, so heavy that you lose the ability to pull yourself out of bed. He just expresses in words what we’re all afraid to. The songs range from sad to ultra-sad to sad-yet-inspirational, and to have all those shades of blue in one album and not make it uninteresting is a miracle on its own.

For 9 tracks, Salvatore Rex brings you down, brings you back up a little, and then throws you right back down. This emotional roller coaster covers love, loss, depression, war, and hope, and wraps it up in a neat, little audible package. My favorite track was “Hospital Song” because the horn in the background and the beautiful harmony  give it this haunting sound that gave me chills. You see through his eyes a story of someone giving so much to a person, literally doing everything possible for them, and then being replaced. Maybe I love it so much for personal reasons, but you can’t listen to this album without this track standing out.

“A Gravestone to My Love” was the other stand-out track, but not for the reason one might expect. In this song is the moment every listener of Salvatore Rex waits for: a glimmer of hope. While listening, you almost become one with him, and eventually you get to the point of giving up on life (probably about 10 minutes in). And in the midst of your wallowing and whatnot, you experience the writer finally put his foot down on the grief. The last line sums it up, “I said goodbye like I’m doing right now/This is the last song that I’ll ever write for you.” It comes as a surprise, but yet empowers you and makes you feel like you can move on from your own troubles.

Rating: I’ll be honest, Days in Vice wasn’t my favorite. It felt sort of manufactured, as if it was written for the album. Home Has An Always Open Door has almost the exact opposite feel. Each song is like a story being told casually from Sal to every listener (maybe over a beer or a grilled cheese). That style is also what sucks you into every song. Because you connect on such a personal level, you fall when he falls, you stumble when he stumbles, but you also rise when he rises. And that personable, humble feeling from his recording is exactly what you get from him in person. Even if he tours around the world, or gets picked up by big label, he’ll still play a set just for you, in his kitchen, in the middle of a blackout.  4.5/5 kegs for a fantastic album.

4.5 kegs

|||Download/Purchase|||Facebook|||

B.

New And So I Watch You From Afar Album Announced

Posted: January 9, 2013 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album

So I’m about a month late to receive the news, but I don’t care. I love these guys, so I’m posting it anyway.

On 17 December 2012, And So I Watch You From Afar announced on their Tumblr that they will be releasing their third album, to be titled All Hail Bright Futures, on 19 March 2013 on Sargent House.

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To give us a taste of what is to come, they posted a track from the album, “Like A Mouse,” on their Bandcamp as well as on their Tumblr and on Sargent House via SoundCloud. It’s a really fun track, pretty typical of ASIWYFA. I fully encourage you to check it out. I can’t wait to hear the rest.

|||Tumblr|||Bandcamp|||Sargent House|||SoundCloud|||

-A.

Gifts From Enola- A Healthy Fear (2012)

Posted: January 4, 2013 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album, Reviews
Tags: , ,

Ahealthyfear

I’ll start with the obvious stuff: this is not what I want as a Gifts From Enola album. A Healthy Fear doesn’t have the same vibe to it that I get from Loyal Eyes Betrayed the Mind or From Fathoms. This is definitely a progression from the sound they established on their self titled EP, which was more like the former two than anything this has to offer. I’m not saying A Healthy Fear is complete garbage, but anyone who’s listened to Animal Collective knows that albums can be good on their own, yet disappointing as compared to previous works.

All right, now that that’s over, it’s time for the fun. Gifts From Enola has always been one of my favorite post-rock bands. As a proud merch/album owner, I fully support the band in whatever direction they decide to take it. The direction they decided to take it in with A Healthy Fear was one that sounds like And So I Watch You From Afar (especially Gangs) with Rosette-esque vocals. Not that that’s constant throughout, but that’s the main sound I’m hearing. And for those saying, “Oh, there goes Ben hating on vocals in post-rock again”, “Dime & Suture” was my favorite track off their last album, so there. The beginning of “Robespierre” has that exact feeling and then brings the sound of “In The Company of Others” from their first record, and thus I’m in love until the vocals come in. There’s going to be a pattern with that, I promise you. The problem is that the vocals become the main focus of the song, the problem so many bands have. In “Dime & Suture”, the balance was perfect: they were in the background and acted like beautifully-worded instruments. And seriously, don’t even get me started on the beginning of “Cherry”. That’s sums up my argument.

The good: they’re just as heavy as ever. When they return to their original sound, they’re unstoppable, fusing atmospheric soundscapes with crunching riffs. In addition, the instrumentals in “Honne/Tatemae” took my breath away. I’m just happy their ability to play what they used to play hasn’t been lost, regardless of the singing. That and “Jade” had some good parts.

Rating: I just wasn’t feeling it. I love them, don’t get me wrong. I would pay insane amounts of money to see them live, but A Healthy Fear just wasn’t cutting it for me. I’m not going to give this a good rating just because everyone else loved it. The songs just seemed too unoriginal. 2/5 kegs.

2kegs

B.

Piglet to Release New? Music and Merch

Posted: January 4, 2013 by Is This Revolutionary? in News
Tags: , , ,

Okay, so the Mayans were wrong. Or we read their calendar wrong. Basically, someone screwed up. Either way, the world didn’t end on December 21st, so I hope you didn’t blow your savings on throwing the sweetest apocalypse party or on post-rapture pet care services.

While the whole “world not ending” thing may have been the best news the 21st brought some, there was another gem that brought joy to approximately three hundred people.

Chicago math rock trio Piglet announced on their Facebook page the day of our reckoning that they will be releasing a “new/old unreleased album” as well as their Lava Land EP on vinyl sometime this year. This announcement comes just a few days shy of the eighth anniversary of the initial release of Lava Land, which was released at the beginning of 2005.

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From the first time I heard “Bug Stomp,” I could never understand why these guys had such a seemingly small fan base. While they have a restricted catalog, there is no good reason for it to have not reached the ears of a much broader audience. They might be the most well-balanced math rock band I have ever heard, countering blistering intensity with gorgeous intricacy. I use the term “balance” cautiously; often, balance has the connotation of compromise. I cannot stress enough how much this is not the case here. At no point do they make any sacrifices for the sake of accessibility or showmanship, and the resulting product is one of exquisite form and function.

Anyway, no further information is currently available on the new/old album or the vinyl. More details will likely come to light once the Kickstarter goes up. As I am very excited for the upcoming release, any developments will be posted here.

|||Bandcamp|||Facebook|||

-A.

What in the world happened to ITR??: 2012 In Review

Posted: January 3, 2013 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album

Before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story. I started here as a freshman in college to help out my friend Ricky (E.) write this blog. I didn’t realize this, but he helped me more than I helped him. This became an outlet for me, allowing me to express my love for this genre of music while meeting new people. It became like a sort of business without any revenue, what we called “semi-serious” blogging. E. left us in August 2011 and it’s been hard to fill his shoes.

All right, so what really happened this year is a lot of behind-the-scenes personal stuff. Firstly, the failed ITR? Renovation that ended up costing a lot more than I had been told/imagined. I’m kind of keeping your money company in the bank with my own personal money until we have enough money to actually renovate. I promise, I haven’t spent a dime, and if anyone really, truly wants it back, I’m more than happy to return it and fix this myself. It’s just a bitch, it’s a labor of love, and I still really want to see this through.

Second, I’m one guy. Really the only permanent member of the ITR? staff, my tenure here has been plagued with inconsistency. I love the guy like my brother still, but Ricky’s posts weren’t of the same quality we like to put out here at ITR?. Joe left us in mid-2011, and may his soul rest in peace. So now our team consists of a sporadic Anthony, A & I. You’d think that’d be enough, but it isn’t. I promise you’ll see a lot more of me this year.

All right, so now for the good news, I’m going to get us back on track. Expect the new Gifts From Enola tomorrow.

Cheers,

B.

 

Strife – Witness a Rebirth (2012)

Posted: December 18, 2012 by Anthony in Album
Tags: , , , ,

Strife-witness-a-rebirth

Strife was and is a band that held a lot of meaning to a lot of people in the hardcore scene in the 1990’s, namely the straight edge community. As far as names in hardcore go, Strife are regarded as one of the big three of the 90’s Victory Records bands (along with Snapcase and Earth Crisis) and carried a straight edge ethic with them that really brought people together after Judge had the last of their run in the very early 90’s. One Truth and In This Defiance were two records that really left a mark on me when I was a teenager in a Long Island high school that was dubbed “The Pharmacy” for its accessibility to drugs. I could have just as easily fallen into a lifestyle of substance-hedonism with the rest of my peers, 11 years later after claiming straight edge, some are still addicted and congregating in small circles, or even dead. However, I feel that it was finding hardcore and straight edge at that stage of my life that may have helped me transition into a healthy adult – bands like One King Down, Bane, and to really drive the point home – Strife.

It didn’t bother me so much when I heard all of the news that Strife had broken edge by the time Angermeans (2001) came out after their brief hiatus. It would be a brief resurgence because the band broke up again shortly after they released that record. I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s shared opinion that Strife’s essence really wasn’t captured in Angermeans as much as their two previous full-lengths. Even after Strife was done for good, I still spun the hell out of those two records and they’ve held up surprisingly well, even for a band that no longer claimed the straight edge lifestyle as a collective unit. Every straight edge kid in the 90s is encapsulated in One Truth and In This Defiance as were the ghosts of Strife. Even after Angermeans, it would have been an honorable time to call it quits – but old passions have a funny way of festering inside of us, even if they aren’t relevant anymore.

Fast forward about an entire decade. After a string of confusing reunion shows and scattered tours, Strife announced that they were in the works of writing and recording a new full-length album. A good friend of mine recently told me that no band had let its fans down more except Metallica, and with a heavy heart I have to agree. I was 50/50 about the release of a new record and 100% debating what sort of relevancy Strife could have in 2012 – a band that was no longer straight edge, the central-focus of what their band meant and still means to so many people. Strife could very well have put out a truly innovative and fresh new album, but to make it work, they would need an urgency greater than their last records. However, aside from the music itself, everything leading up to its release left a sour taste in my mouth that a torrent of meteoric lemons couldn’t achieve on their own. From the corny “making of” documentary (though it is no secret that they had DVDs on Victory) to endorsements from a major guitar company, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow when I read the final title of the album and come to the assumption that this all seemed like an elaborate hardcore cash-in–Witness a Rebirth.

Let me just say that it isn’t the musicianship of this album that strikes me as offensive. This is probably the tightest and most-polished you’ll ever hear Strife, but in a way I feel that’s the problem. The album plays out like a weird caricature of 90’s hardcore, rather than being created by veterans of such a vibrant time period. The riffs seem uninspired, and perhaps trying a bit too hard to recreate the mood and atmosphere of In This Defiance. Imagine my bewilderment when I discovered that a track I was listening to was actually entitled “In This Defiance”. I listened to this record begging to hear some sort of raw urgency, from a band that truly used to stand above the others in terms of importance. However, Strife just does not seem relevant in 2012 and I can’t stress that enough. Hardcore for the sake of hardcore is an attitude that’s best left behind us, and it has nothing to do with puffed-out chests and preaching loyalty – hardcore needs room to grow.

Witness a Rebirth is an odd record to observe from a distance. In a sense, even though it’s a shameless throwback to the 90’s, it oddly seems more inspired by contemporary hardcore acts in its delivery. It’s almost as if this record is trying to emulate the trend-sound in today’s scene (dare I mention ‘hardstyle’?) Or did it have to do with the production end of this record? To me, these are all very important speculations and I write with such passion because Strife is a band that means a lot to me. This is by no means to knock bands from the 90’s getting back together and writing new records either. By the same token, I was extremely skeptical when Earth Crisis got back together but they managed to put out 2 comeback records that were both great and relevant in 2012. 108 and Starkweather are two more examples of bands that got back together and wrote some crushing and relevant records. The difference with all of the bands mentioned is that these efforts seemed natural. It felt organic, they picked up exactly where they left off, and all without being disingenuous or seeming like an obvious re-lighting of a dead, damp torch.

Let me break this sour news by giving credit where credit is due. A band’s music is their own personal property, and a band should by no means write a record for anyone else but themselves. Even if I’m dissatisfied with the content of the record, it’s certainly their right to write whatever they want. If this is truly what they wanted to come from writing a new record, then hats off to them in that respect. However, my last and final argument is that perhaps a new record from the members of Strife would have been more powerful had it not come from Strife. Some ghosts are better left laid to rest if there is nothing left to wring from it, and I strongly feel that’s what happened with this record, and with Strife.

The verdict: (Witness a) new coaster for my frosty glass of orange juice. If you’re looking for 90’s hardcore by 90’s hardcore personae that are still killing it live and on vinyl, pushing our scene forward without looking back, I’d suggest a few bands and records. Between Earth & Sky (current-members of Trial) put out a great record last year that didn’t look to Trial for inspiration. Narrows is another great band from the same area that features members of Botch and Unbroken who put out an awesome record. If you’re looking for contemporaries who play with the same urgency as their 90’s predecessors, I would urge you to keep an eye out for bands like Foundation, Axis, Deathbed, Hollow Earth, and Discourse–just to name a few. Otherwise, this record is a lifeless paper doll of all of the things that are stagnant, non-provoking, and regressive in hardcore. If you’re so inclined though, you can stream the entire album for free. Regardless of this review, it’s important that you make the call for yourself.

1/5 kegs

kegcapture

– Anthony John Czerwinski
anthonyjohnczerwinski@gmail.com