Music Reviews February

Ryan Gronich, Music Critic and Puzzle Master

EMO PUNK: Heaven is a Place, This is a Place – Frank Iero & the Future Violents (January 15)

Frank Iero’s history as a guitarist is packed. He’s been in pop-punk (My Chemical Romance), hardcore punk (Leathermouth, Pencey Prep), and just plain emo rock (his numerous solo efforts). The Future Violents, as his new solo project is dubbed, seem to be a blend of his heavier influences; the only thing about the EP that could be considered gentle is their cover of REM’s “Losing My Religion.” Even then, Iero’s vocals are anguished and wailing, as he does best. The band’s members are thrown together from various post-punk-y outfits and they have great chemistry. Kayleigh Goldsworthy of The Mermaid’s higher but still weighty voice mixes excellently with Iero’s, and Thursday’s drummer Tucker Rule really holds the record together. I’m not usually one for slower, more moody rock, but Iero is so skilled that he can’t help but deliver every time. He’s able to put so much feeling into his voice and guitar work that it doesn’t even matter if you’re paying attention to his lyrics. The first track, “Violence,” is my favorite, in all its arpeggiating guitar riffs and yowling glory; I’ll always recommend Iero’s projects as “revenge music,” and this EP definitely continues that tradition.


INDIE/ALTERNATIVE: New Fragility – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (February 12)

The height of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s popularity came nearly sixteen years ago with the release of their self-titled album. CYHSY is still something of a staple for the kinds of people who like indie rock that sounds like carnival music, so I was expecting a similar essence on New Fragility (their sixth record where I was unaware they even had three). I was mistaken. New Fragility could be a totally different band’s work if not for Alec Ounsworth’s unmistakable high-pitched nasal vocals, which contrast with the record’s newfound piano and strings. Admittedly I haven’t been in the band’s loop for a while now, but it wouldn’t shock me at all to know this was the first album they went with a more slow orchestral production on; this isn’t an indie rock record with accents of concert instruments, it’s the inverse. The electronic hooks of the aughts are completely gone. When I find an album that does a 180 from the artist’s original style I’m tempted to respect that they’re branching out, but I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think this one was very interesting. The best track is, funnily enough, titled “CYHSY, 2005,” as if to tell me they knew how I’d feel and wanted to throw me a bone. However, by no means is New Fragility offensively bad– if you’re just more into piano/prog rock than I am, check it out.


TRAP: Tyron – slowthai (February 12)

I’m actually not familiar with slowthai’s previous work, so bear with my lack of notes about his evolution; that being said, I was pretty pleasantly surprised by this record. “MAZZA’”s melancholic flute instrumental and “i tried’”s sampled bass hook are the kind of thing I really want to see out of the trap genre as a whole. Creativity with the backing track is usually what gets the genre to appeal to me, and this record has no shortage of it. I really like what he did with splitting the album into halves. The first is much darker, where both his lyrics and beats sound quite angry, but the second slows down into a more introspective, cooled lyrical style with oldies piano serving as the sampling. I think Dominic Fike’s general vibe especially was a great choice for a feature on the second half, as was Deb Never, who accompanies a lovely acoustic guitar piece on “push” along with slowthai’s Northampton-accented musings on recovering from drug addiction. I think this record was clearly planned out very well. Tyron has something for the whole spectrum of people who are into trap– if you’re not sure where you fall, listen to it anyways.


I don’t just have to write blurbs about stuff I really liked lately– if you’ve got a request for me to talk about a new album you thought deserved it, shoot me an email at [email protected] and it’ll be a blast for both of us! Stay fresh, kids!