Category Archives: Album Reviews

Dead Swords – Enders

By Samuel Stevens

Release Date: March 8, 2019

Genre: Shoegaze, Ambient

Label: Human Blood Records

Dead Swords, the self described Doomgaze band based out of New Jersey have released their debut eleven track effort, Enders. The genre Doomgaze is a heavier form of the alternative rock sub-genre shoegaze. The band was formed in 2016 by the group’s two members Alex Rosamilia, the guitarist of The Gaslight Anthem, and Corey Perez of the bands Bottomfeeder and Let Me Run. Enders features an abundance of guest bassists, drummers, and vocalists throughout the album including Benny Horowitz, Alex’s band mate in The Gaslight Anthem on drums on the track, “Tonight.”

On the album’s two interludes, “Interlude 04” and “Interlude 05,” the poet Mischa Pearlman is featured. For those who may be wondering where “Interlude 01,” “Interlude 02,” and “Interlude 03” are, you can find them on the band’s previous two EPs, Skeletons and Broken Souls, as the band’s debut album is a continuation of what has already been written and released. Enders is also produced and mixed with the help of musician, Kevin Dye, of the fellow New Jersey band, Gates.

Enders focuses on Alex Rosamilia’s morbid fascination with death and everything surrounding the subject. The obviously grim lyrical theme is prominent throughout the entire album by not only touching on death, but also speaks of loss and what happens after you pass on. Despite the clear theme, the entire track list isn’t all gloom as the album does share a couple songs about love and hope. It’s no surprise with the albums lyrics and along with the band’s genre of shoegaze, that Enders makes for a very dark, emotionally driven album straight from the heart and soul of Rosamilia and Perez.

Do not let the albums average track length of seven minutes deter you from listening to Enders. The energy, emotion, and creativity pumped out by Alex, Corey, and their many musical guests leaves you with a strange euphoria through those eight-to-eleven minute tracks. What’s most notable is that feeling of the absence of time as you won’t even realize these tracks are so long.

Enders’ stand out tracks have to be “Fumetsu,” “Perception,” and “Ender.” “Tonight,” which is a little slower than the rest of the songs on the album’s track list, is also worth considering among the top standout tracks as it is easily one of the most emotional tracks on Enders. The topic of not fearing death is prominently found in the lines, “Do not fear the winding down / We all have been since the first round / A dimming light, a deafening sound; to become a simple earthen mound.”On the track “Perception,” Rosamilia questions his sense of purpose on earth; “Are we angel souls / Encapsulated in these bodies / Trying to go home?” The track, “Black” is about grieving and not being able to accept the death of a loved one. This seeps through in the lines, “I still won’t admit that you’re gone/ After all, after all that you’ve done.”

On Enders penultimate track, “Ender,” the constant overall theme of death hits a new height, when Rosamilia touches on it one last time. The song is about the last moments of thought before the end of ones life; “Before an eternity of white noise and black / Before an eternity of non-existence.”

“When I started Dead Swords, I really wanted to focus on letting the music be able to breathe,” Rosamilia says. “I have always been a fan of bands like Pink Floyd, My Bloody Valentine, or The Cure; bands that write songs that sprawl about over the course of seven-to-eight minutes. “Ender”, as well as the rest of the record, is my homage to those bands and those songs that take you for a 10-minute trip without you realizing how long you’ve sat there.”


Check out more from Dead Swords:

https://twitter.com/dead_swords

https://www.facebook.com/deadswordsnj

https://www.instagram.com/dead_swords/

The Rainy Day Apparel – Reset EP

By Samuel Stevens

Release Date: December 15, 2018

Genre: Folk, Alt. Rock

Label: Self-Released

The Rainy Day Apparel is the brainchild of Manitoba musician, Nathan Strange. Strange’s venture into writing and performing through this musical project started all the way back in 2002. Reset is the first collection of music released by The Rainy Day Apparel and these five songs were mixed by Jordan Wiberg in British Columbia. Wiberg has previously worked with Canadian artists Jon Bryant, Sykamore, Paul Brandt, and many others.

Reset came to fruition after Strange had a year long time issue with back pain. The eventual diagnoses was a herniation near his spine that fully pinched his sciatic nerve and eventually required surgery and months of recovery. During Strange’s time searching for a diagnosis, and well after the back surgery Strange needed, he put his focus into his music. This allowed Strange to put his heart and soul into The Rainy Day Apparel project and produced the songs that eventually became Reset.

The five song effort begins with the number “Matches.” The track touches on the burden of grief that comes from leaving or running away from someone or something and knowing you can’t return. His lyrics are saturated with this message, coming through most prominently in the lines “I was only hoping to fix what’s broken / I picked a wonderful time to run / You can’t run from your demons / But you can light a fire; and they’re no match for you.”

The theme of recovery can be heard in the words of the track “Thaw Me Out;” “Good things come to those who wait / It all seems a little too late / The glaring sun shows the damage done / It’s staying for the long run / Thaw me out.” The EP’s title track, “Reset,” follows the mindset of a bad day and wanting nothing more than to wake up in the sunshine of tomorrow. This comes through in the lines, “Start again; start again / I’m hoping for just one more day / As I wish today away.” The theme of love sends sparks from the track “Why Would I?” with the lines, “I think with my heart / I can’t get you off my mind / Why in the hell would I? / Why would I?”

During my first listen of Reset, the EP’s themes and the tone of the music, particularly the track “Thaw Me Out,” took me back to a time I was just released from the hospital in the spring of 2008. After a two week stay, which resulted in numerous tests and a failed medical procedure. The songs took me back to a cold spring morning on one of the many days I was recovering. With the warm sun peaking through the cracks of the window onto my bed, along with the fragrance of morning dew mixing with the thawing soil blowing through my cracked window adjacent to my bed.

By fusing his infectious melodies, vocal harmonies, genuine song writing, and his simple melodic guitar playing throughout the record, this EP stands out in its own right. Strange’s unique blend of country twang with a mix of folk and alt. rock adds to the greatness of the five song effort.

The stand out tracks off the EP have to be “Matches,” “Thaw Me Out,” and the EP’s title track, “Reset.” Listening to Reset, will leave you wanting more. Hopefully a full length album is in the cards for The Rainy Day Apparel to solve that desire listeners are sure to be left with.

Check out more from The Rainy Day Apparel:

https://www.facebook.com/rainydayapparel

https://www.instagram.com/trdamusic

https://soundcloud.com/therainydayapparel

Lainhart: Senora May

By Matt Harrison

Upon hearing Senora May’s debut album, Lainhart, a few things will be made clear. For one, there’s no hunk of cheese big enough to coax her into the Rat Race. What she wants instead is a life outside the cage where she can stretch her legs and let her soul wander. Senora touches on this and more in her romantic album about life.


Not to be missed are the songs “Elusive,” “By My Lonesome,” and “Lainhart.” Written for a loved one who finds freedom only in reverie, the title track is sung like a letter from home. The bouncing tune reminds Lainhart of being “back in these hills every night in your dreams/ Shovelin’ hog shit while ya sing.” This song is meant to bring someone home, if only for the few minutes it takes to listen to.

At the midway point is “California King,” a stand out track both aesthetically and lyrically. Senora tells the story of love’s radiance fading to the ashes of nothing as cold stares turn to cold shoulders and quiet goodnights give way to the sharp click of the lights going out. As the years have passed, what was once the pain of loss has receded into a deeper understanding of what was and what is meant to be. Her pain has become hindsight understanding as she sings “I can’t even tell ya how we got this far, nor can I navigate the sea without a single star/ But I am the sun and I need no Goddamn moon.” The song ends with the same lines that began it; “There’s an ocean between us, calm as the eye of a storm/ Words won’t break it and tears won’t even cause a ripple.”

If you can’t hear the warbling of those first notes at the outset of “Only Want You,” you’ll need to add volume accordingly. This is a song that one can lean into like a drug when the other half of their heart flies across the country. Senora howls along with the wail of coyotes and together they are a tangled harmony of lovesick desertion. “The coyotes outside are singin’ my song” she says of the lonesome hillside anthem, bringing listeners to the solitude of wherever it is Senora sings her heart out from.

Senora May glows throughout this album, coming across to listeners as sweet, loving, and not to be fucked with. She embodies her own beautifully distinct and poetic fashion of interpreting life through music. Despite her past struggles she has found true happiness which flows at an unfreezable depth. She doesn’t mind being left alone, either, and she’d probably rather you left, anyways.

Tyler Childers: Live on Red Barn Radio

By Matt Harrison

Live on Red Barn Radio l & ll isn’t the sort of country music album you’ll hear billowing from the open sunroof of a blue Honda Civic waiting outside a hot yoga studio. Instead, it’s a compilation of two live performances played on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo, all in perfect harmony with the one of a kind voice of Tyler Childers. An East Kentucky Man of Constant Sorrow, Childers voice harbours a distinct streak of pain and a generous splash of whiskey.

The songs on this album are the sum of hard times and hard truths. They each contain heartfelt and honest lyrics about loss, love, and the haunting mistress of strong drink. Tyler Childers writes and performs with the disturbing poeticism and power of Townes Van Zandt mixed with Kurt Cobain, offering listeners a raw, unashamed look into the core of himself and his miseries.

The standout track on this album is titled “Whitehouse Road.” The lines “Rotgut whiskey gonna ease my pain/ And all this runnin’s gonna keep me sane” flow into the chorus like a torch stream into the Lake of Fire. “We’ve been sniffin’ that cocaine/ Ain’t nothin’ better when the wind cuts cold,” Childers wails with a distant harmony sung by the Devil sat atop his shoulder. “Lord, it’s a mighty hard livin’/ But a damn good feelin’ to run these roads.” A chilling and honest ballad to the renegade life and that which Childers has found in the granulated embrace of the long white line.

Found at the end of the album, “Follow You to Virgie,” puts the breadth and complexity of Childers songwriting on full display in a piece dedicated to the memory of the “Mountain Beauty” he had once known. “Yeah, I reckon we were heathens/ But in her eyes we were saints” he sings, referring to the grandmother of a high school friend who had, in a sense, become a part of his own family. This song shares the moments spent “making sense of all these strings” with her as the sole audience member. “I can see her in the corner/ Singin’ along to all our crazy dreams” Childers sings, surely finding solace in those unshakeable memories.

This concert album rolls with the rhythm of a man on the run from himself. From “Deadman’s Curve” to “Whitehouse Road,” listeners are taken on a journey through Hell and most of the way back. Though this self proclaimed heathen leans on the Faith of his upbringing in his songwriting, this is by no means the sort of music to share around the fire at Bible Camp. These songs were written by a man with good reason to fear his God.

Taylor Janzen – Interpersonal

By Samuel Stevens

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Interpersonal, Taylor Janzen’s brand spanking new 4 track effort touches on subjects close to herself, such as mental illness, emotional abuse, and religion in her immensely open, yet signature form of confessional songwriting. Her music is most notably reminiscent of the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker but I can think of a few more artists that can be added to the list. Taylor also has a singing voice described by many to be similar to Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams.

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Interpersonal, out now!

Interpersonal opens with the first of four massive emotionally driven songs, “Stations”. “Stations,” which also happens to be the efforts lead single, is about emotional abuse. The tune features a very soft, simple, but melodic electric guitar, topped off with her distressing and defenseless tone of singing.

On one of two of the efforts only acoustic tracks, “The Waiting Room”, Taylor bears out her frustration of always sitting in waiting rooms and doctor’s offices. She’s pleading that she no longer wants to be within these enclosed spaces for various reasons while she’s seeking treatment for her mental health. “The Waiting Room” features beautiful demonstration of melodies upon her staple soft, simple, melodic solo guitar stylings.

The penultimate track, “Colourblind”, is yet another powerfully written tune by Taylor Janzen. On this song, Taylor is heard singing about the struggles of growing up and the relationship and stigma from the church regarding mental health. On stage at her album release she said briefly that “Colourblind” was the song she was most scared of putting out into the world for people to hear.

The last track on Interpersonal is the second acoustic tune, “Better Now”. Taylor on this particular song is heard urging her friends, family, and whomever else, that she is now better, but in denial that she actually isn’t. Yet another painstaking look into Taylor’s mental illness, Taylor bears it all out for the listeners again, as she has on all of, Interpersonal. Additionally at the album release show, Taylor jokingly stated that “Better Now” was written while cleaning urinals at her place of work and wanted to initially title the track something to do with such, but ultimately chose not to do so.

On the evening of August 10th, the same date as the release of Interpersonal, Taylor Janzen hosted an album release show at The Handsome Daughter, which is located in Winnipeg’s West Broadway neighbourhood. This show actually marked Taylor’s first headline show in Winnipeg, so what an awesome way to celebrate such a milestone by being able to perform all of Interpersonal in its entirety. Taylor was joined by guests Olivia Lunny and Cassidy Mann. Might I add the weather this day was a scorcher. So with very minimal, if any, air conditioning at all inside the venue resulted in a sweaty, humid environment for all in attendance. Despite the warmer temperatures and humidity within the crowded room at The Handsome Daughter, the music performed by all three talented ladies during the evening made it completely bearable to get a tad sweaty and enjoy an evening of good tunes.

Taylor’s set consisted of a couple of her older tunes off her now year old EP, Fear and Faith, that was released back in June 2017, her fan favorite song, “Dennis Quaid”, which she stated on stage was intentionally meant to be on Interpersonal, but things changed, as sometimes they do. Taylor performed the entire track list of Interpersonal out-of-order, not that it really matters what order they are performed in anyways. Taylor also performed a beautiful rendition of, while offering her unique voice to “Nineteen”, the 2008 single by Tegan and Sara, off their 2007 album, The Con. Taylor jokingly said she wanted to perform “Nineteen” because both it’s a good song and that she just recently turned nineteen herself.

I unquestionably have no qualms that Taylor Janzen will shortly be riding a wave a success from the release of Interpersonal. Rather it be recording even more new more music, performing in front of larger local or non-local crowds, or even full on touring. She just recently performed her first gig out her hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba in Los Angeles, California late last month so I can only imagine she wants to get out there and perform around the globe. Please make sure to stream Interpersonal now on your preferred streaming service, or by purchasing Interpersonal on iTunes.