Recently Played: Sigur Rós, Between the Trees, and Oh, Sleeper

Music, music, MUSIC, I can’t get over it!!! So I’m gonna give you a little update on what’s been runnin’ through my stereo lately…yes, I said stereo…because playing real CDs in an actual stereo is legit. At least I think so…

First stop, Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust by Sigur Rós–thanks to Ryan Stubbs (guitarist of The Glorious Unseen) for a wonderful recommendation, and thanks to Best Buy for keeping stock of a good product (we shall likely be doing business again).

Dear goodness, is this a beautiful piece of artwork. The driving rhythms and enchanting vocals of “Gobbledigook” summons you to go dance through the woods, while the crooning, soft acoustic guitar and strings of “Góðan Daginn” will have you dreaming a misty morning walk through a meadow. “All Allright,” with a quiet piano, somber brass instruments, and soothing vocals is perfect for those moments meant for staring out the window. I’ve totally used a portion of this album to help me fall asleep. If you’re an ambient rock fan, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have this album in your arsenal.

The second album was a lucky find at The Neighborhood Thrift: a signed copy of Between the Trees’ The Story and the Song. The story is that I hadn’t ever paid much attention to Between The Trees, but I knew I at least liked the song “The Way She Feels,” so I decided to take the $1.99 gamble.

And oh…my…Fender…I fell in love with this CD. Which, of course, means I got my heart broken when I found out that the band had just ended this past winter. It’s just how it goes.

Well-orchestrated electric guitars, drums, bass, and keyboard work paired with Ryan Kirkland’s extraordinary vocals that absolutely burst with emotion create a sweet album of alternative-(dare I say emo?)-pop.  The melodies of “White Lines and Red Lights,” “The Way She Feels,” “Words,” and “Darlin'” have often been caught on my vocal chords.

On a completely different note, Oh, Sleeper has been ripping me up with their most recent album Son of the Morning. If you’ve seen some chick driving a little white car, headbanging to some insane metalcore blasting out the windows, going exactly the speed limit…well…I’m probably that chick.

Son of the Morning is a solid sophomore work. Interestingly, it’s kind of like a metal version of pop–despite Micah Kinard’s gut-wrenching vocals and the breakdowns of electric guitars and pounding double bass drum shouting for you to headbang, you’ll also find yourself singing along somehow.

Standout tracks include “Son of the Morning” and “The Finisher”–two very intense depictions of God’ showdown with Satan–the circle-pit-a-licious “World Without a Sun,” and the haunting and emotional “Reveries of Flight,” a Thrice-esque piece.

Three very different genres, three noteworthy albums–hopefully I was able to catch your interest in at least one of them.

Post-hardcore fans, you’ll just have to wait until later–I bought Emery’s new CD We Do What We Want at the concert, and since it’s a newer item, I’ll be posting a separate review on that nice little shiny circle. Kay? :)

We Do What We Want: Emery concert with Oh, Sleeper and Hawkboy

In the summer, Fresno is a hot place.

Last night, though, it was abnormally hot–an unusual pattern consisting of Hawkboy, Oh, Sleeper, and Emery blew in with a gust of summer winds and ended up completely melting all in its path.

Yeah, it was that awesome. If you don’t believe me, you should keep reading. And not pay attention to how bad the pictures look. It’s not my fault that I can’t keep people’s heads out of the shots, I’m just a short chick with a digital. Sorry. Anyways…

It isn’t often that I go to a show where I’m completely stoked to see every band playing. But the We Do What We Want Tour for me was a stacked lineup of bliss.

After two local bands opened, Corsair and Antidote for Anxiety, the two-piece band Hawkboy played. Cody Bonnette and Aaron Lunsford, members of former band As Cities Burn, brought on some stellar prog rock with a setlist including “Two Bit,” “Scoundrel,” and “Damnkneesya” from their new self-titled EP, stripped-down versions of “errand rum” and “pirate blues” from As Cities Burn’s Hell or High Water, and a Pedro the Lion cover.

According to Cody, Hawkboy will be writing some more songs after they finish their scheduled touring, and from the sound of their EP and performance, future raw music seems to be in store for them. I’m excited.

Metalcore act Oh, Sleeper followed, energy cranked up to extremely high levels of head banging. They are the reason there should be special massage places opened for people with post-concert neck trauma.

“Vices Like Vipers” (off of debut album When I Am God) began the setlist perfectly with its soft opening verse that built up to a barrage of Micah Kinard’s wrenching howls and gut-punching guitars of Shane Blay and James Erwin, sending the crowd into a frenzy that continued through performances of tracks off of  Son of the Morning, including “New Breed,” “Son of the Morning,” “In All Honesty,” and “World Without the Sun”–circle pit, anyone?–with “Reveries of Flight” and “The Finisher” saved for a powerful ending.

Cody Bonnette also popped in to add his vocals for “In All Honesty.”

Micah Kinard–Don’t let any of the promotion pictures fool you. This guy is a total sweetie.

Emery reigned supreme as the headliner. Fresh with new album We Do What We Want, this melodic rock/post-hardcore band had plenty to encourage the crowd to sing/headbang/dance/mosh/die from awesomeness.

Let’s see…Well, first they started with a pumped classic “So Cold I Could See My Breath” (off of The Question), then played let’s-dance-and-punch-each-other new song “Cheval Glass,” which was followed by “The Smile, The Face” via In Shallow Seas We Sail. Sounds good so far?

After rocking through “Scissors” and “The Butcher’s Mouth,” Emery toned it down with acoustic versions of The Weak’s End songs “Fractions” and “The Ponytail Parades,” along with a beautifully somber new track “I Never Got to See the West Coast.”

“The Curse of Perfect Days,” a song inspired by an actual nightmare of lead singer Tobey Morell, kicked the energy back into gear, with time left for “Listening to Freddy Mercury” and scream-in-your-face “Walls.” Still catching our breaths from the last song, the band delighted the crowd by returning onstage for an encore performance of “Studying Politics.”

Super raw.

Oh and we also got a picture with their merch guy, too, who’s actually Jake Ryan of Queen’s Club. He’s super rad and likes Qdoba.