Song of the Day: Repine

“How’s it stand? What are we? Let that sand flush my cheeks…”

Smooth. So smooth. Smooth as golden drops of sad sunlight peering through the window shade. Smooth as driving through the morning fog, making ghosts among a redwood forest. You can barely see the tops of the trees, they’re shrouded so. Moments like these when you feel the weight of life, yet the airiness of each breath.

You’ll find “Repine” on track five of Pianos Become the Teeth’s new album Keep You, released on October 28th. This Baltimore band is a member of “The Wave,” a group of new generation post-hardcore artists with brother bands such as Touché Amoré and La Dispute. Keep You maintains the raw emotional heaviness from Pianos’ previous work, but steps up the caliber of melodic rock influence, and lead singer Kyle Durfey has mellowed out some of the rough edges of his vocals. The effect is enchanting.

Wear me out,
like a sister haunting absence,
like a sister who’s finally had it,
like a room left open just for being kept,
like some lonely facet,
like the promise of a place and knowing you’re neither here nor there,
wear me out…

“Repine,” like many of Pianos Become the Teeth’s ballads, gives you the sense that though nothing is fixed, there’s some relief in the realization. The mist drips into dew on the ferns by the side of the road; you notice these things and for some reason, you can sleep now.

You can check out the song by clicking the picture of the album cover above.

Reign of Terror: Sleigh Bells review

A pair clad in shredded jeans and retro sunglasses, toting electric guitars, stacks of amps and pedals, and plenty of attitude step onstage. Brace your ears.

Ever since Sleigh Bells’ 2010 debut Treats, the pop-hardcore collaborative team Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller have taken the indie sect by storm. Almost literally. Their amp-exploding, eardrum-bursting sound is bar sonically overwhelming, but after the initial shock, the energy seems to catch feverishly. Coachella Fest bestowed Sleigh Bells a rather substantial slot in the 2011 lineup, and hype for the duo’s future has been well generated to say the least.

February 21, their sophomore album Reign of Terror dropped with the delivery of an ethereal sledgehammer, combining the grunge of metal guitars, the dance rhythms of hip-hop beats, and the dreaminess of 80’s pop. The album intros with a live recording of a crowd-pumping “True Shred Guitar,” as if to hearken to their previous success and taunt listeners to get ready for more. Enter in first single “Born to Lose,” a gut-puncher with staccato guitar riffs backed by haunting vocals. The sass fires up even more with “Crush” as it stomps in with clap-lead beats, Krauss shouting an addictive refrain, “Make you or break you!”

From there on, the album finds itself leaving some of the fist-pumping sassiness and weaving in and out of slower, more methodical jams. At some points, with “You Lost Me” and “Never Say Die,” the slower pace causes the tracks to flounder a bit in their thick sound structure of repeated lines and riffs that lack significant contrast in tones. However, other tracks successfully use the unhurried rates, including “End of the Line” and “Road to Hell,” which channel Cyndi Lauper-esque vibes due to Krauss’ crooning, airy vocals outlined by calculated guitar wails and gunshot drums.

And “Leader of the Pack,” kicked off with a rifle shot, is certainly just as shred-worthy. The methodical pace allows the track to get grungy with heavy layers of distorted effects and grinding guitars, and Krauss’ vocals match the tone as she sings about the death of a loved one: “You know it’s over / Don’t you know / he’s never coming back.”

The direction towards somber lyrics reflects the dark experiences of death in Miller’s family, and this seems to account for the differences in tone between Treats and Reign of Terror. Even so, the lyrics are simplistic if not ambiguous in meaning. Though Krauss can chalk up the melancholy with repetitive lines, “No one loves you / up above / no one hears you / no one sees you” from “End of the Line,” the overall intensity of Sleigh Bells’ sound safely refrains from angsty weepiness, and these tough issues are presented in a this-is-how-life-goes sort of way.

And in response, second single “Comeback Kid” drums up the adrenaline with the anthem of a survivor, energized with infectious guitar chugga-chuggas contrasting sugary vocals. The hardcore peak of the album, “Demons” follows with howling effects before it attacks the listener with feisty chants and raw, crunching guitars to headbang to.

The concluding song, “D.O.A.,” spotlights Krauss’ vocals by providing a downplayed backdrop of distorted guitars and effects. The overall affect is as haunting as the last lines: “Wipe the blood from your nose / how come nobody knows / how the chorus should go / remember who you are.”

Though perhaps not as explosive as Sleigh Bells’ debut, Reign of Terror sure offers plenty of material to blow your speakers out to. Their unique sonic assault with its blend of heavy and light, rough and soft, all shot out with a sassy stare, will keep the indie fans following with ecstatic awe.

Featured Artist: PieceMakers

First thing I have to say:

I’m proud of my young fellow friends and acquaintances for pursuing their creative dreams during rough and uncertain times in this economy.

The dream killers of this world will tell you to study your brains out to get smart so some Ivy League college will accept you because hey that’s the only school that will prepare me to get a job right, then sell your soul to studying a field you could care less about but hey it’ll get me a job right, and then plunge further into debt to get a Master’s degree because hey I’m not good enough to get  a job yet and now I’ll for sure get one once I graduate right. And GOD FORBID you sign up for some artsy-fartsy major like Music, English, or Studio Art.

The people that bow to this social pressure I pity, for I am seeing people I know and love working hard to attain their true dreams, not looking down on themselves because they are young and creative, but setting an example for the world in their artistic passions.

And so today, as I was checking Facebook, I saw a post of a music video called “I Hope to Remember”…and, well, I watched it. Backed by soft guitar strums, the singer croons with somber emotion about a broken relationship as he contemplates pure love, while the video montages a couple struggling through a breakup. The work of both the music and video was rather beautiful, with harmonious tones in sound contemplated by the soft lighting and cool color scheme of the visuals. And the story portrayed struck me with honesty–I related, I blinked away a tear or two in my eyes–and I may or may not have listened to it again…and again…

But the best part: the music was created by my friend’s newly formed indie/acoustic rock band PieceMakers. The video work and acting was done by some guys from my high school youth group, who are presently in the hardcore band Kady! Danger.

Be inspired.

The Devil Wears Prada Dead Throne album stream

My hardcore headbanging persona is grinning stupidly right now; The Devil Wears Prada is now streaming the entire Dead Throne album (which is due to release this September 13th). 

I’m four songs in so far, having listened to “Dead Throne,” “Untidaled,” “Mammoth,” and “Vengeance.” And so far, it sounds like a blast of brilliant metalcore to me, which is why the aforementioned headbanging persona is hardcore dancing in my head right now. Check it out right here…right now. Tell me whatchya think.

The Devil Wears Peanut Butter Chocolate M&M Cookies

The Devil Wears Prada = a headbang-’til-you-die metalcore band from Dayton, Ohio.

Peanut butter and dark chocolate = the most raw-rocking food marriage ever.

Oatmeal = so hardcore.

I happened to combine all three of these. With a small addition of sugar and flour. And now I think I’m about to go into a peanut butter-chocolate-Cookie Monster vocals-induced coma.

I’m not joking! These cookies are as face-melting as TDWP’s “Danger: Wildman”!!!! You don’t get it…

I go through these stages where I just NEED peanut butter and chocolate. And when this craving combines with a cookie craving, too…well, there was no way I could make it through this weekend without baking some cookies, I DON’T CARE THAT THE DORM KITCHEN IS CLOSED DOWN, I’LL TAKE MY COOKIE BUSINESS OVER TO THE NERD’S DORM KITCHEN INSTEAD!

Right. So, me and this great girl I know that lives across the hall gathered all of our supplies and before long had made the most intense batch of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies EVER…

Reason #1. We both love The Devil Wears Prada and other music old church ladies don’t understand–and when two such people bake together, of course the product comes out hardcore.

#2. The cookies came out moist and chewy and thick, the way hardcore cookies should be.

#3. In addition to adding peanut butter (the good, natural kind you have to mix and actually refrigerate) and Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips, these cookies contain also contain Peanut Butter M&Ms. Yes.

And, #4. These cookies are…healthy. Please don’t cry.
Now, when I say “healthy,” I mean in the sense that these cookies contain low amounts of sugar, use no butter, and contain whole grains and healthy sources of protein and fat. The proof is in the pudding, or the cookie rather, just look at this recipe, my dear:

Blend well in large bowl, as if creaming butter and sugar:
1 cup natural unsalted peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

Add in and beat well:
2 eggs
2-1/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt

Mix in well:
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda (add first so soda can react with yogurt)
1/2 tsp. salt (adjust if p&b is salty)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Stir in:
2 1/2 cups of oatmeal

Finally, add:
1 cup dark chocolate pieces or chips
1  cup Peanut Butter M&Ms

Bake at 350 degrees, about 10 minutes. Do NOT over-bake, or these cookies will come out dry, as if all the peanut butter was sucked out of them. Err on the side of being not quite done, because they will cook a little after they are taken out of the oven.

I recommend eating them warm with a glass of cold milk…while listening to “Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over.”