Rick's Mailbox Volume XIX: Smells Like Your Mom

Posted 09/02/2010 08:23AM by Rick Gebhardt as Rick's Discoveries
09/02/2010 08:23AM

Being an editor here at Decoy, I get a fair amount of mail from bands, labels, PR companies, and other random sources. Most of the mail comes in the form of packages containing CDs for bands that want reviews, coverage, or just a mention somewhere in some publication to get their name out. It would be impossible for us to review every album submitted to us, and I think many bands know that, but I sometimes feel guilty letting things slip through the cracks, especially since people no doubt went out of their way to send something my way for consideration by Decoy. In the spirit of trying to get the word out there for artists who might otherwise not get much coverage elsewhere, let’s dig into my mailbox and see what interesting submissions have come through lately.

Head DownHow It All Breaks Down

I’d not heard of Head Down before this album, but it turns out they’ve had 3 full lengths before this one, which explains why they sound like they know what they’re doing, despite what they’re doing being nothing new. Head Down play a rock oriented form of pop-punk that reminds me a lot of mid-career MxPx or a rockier Sugarcult. Sometimes I even get a few inklings of Pennywise if they listened to more classic rock in their youth. All in all, despite the short length (there’s only 8 songs on the album), this is a quality pop-punk release that fans of the genre will eat up. (artist website)


Bernays PropagandaMy Personal Holiday

Bernays Propaganda are the first band to appear in my mailbox article series twice! They appeared back in the very first mailbox article. They’re back once again and are continuing to evolve their dance-punk sound, focusing heavily on the dancing rhythms. There’s a hint of post-punk here and there, but the majority of the time the band are putting on a swanky display of hip-shaking dance-punk. They’ve also expanded their languages on this album to two. Some tracks are sung in English while others are in Macedonian. There also appears to be less of a focus on a political message (from the English tracks and liner info) and more on just the music, which actually plays out well for them since they feel much more mature and confident on this album. (artist website)


The Ill Funk EnsembleCatching Wreck

They’re a little bit funky, a little bit R&B, a little bit hip-hop, a little bit pop, and a little rock, but they’re not quite a complete synthesis of these pieces. The real problem with the album is that it is simply all over the map. Of all the various genres mentioned above, the band does a song in each instead of trying to pull them together into a unique sound. This leads to the album feeling like a mixtape that someone put together. You get a track of each different approach and, on their own, the individual songs aren’t too bad, but the album itself is so scattershot it is hard to recommend. (artist website)


The Last FelonyToo Many Humans

Deathcore, as I have stated in a number of reviews and articles, is a genre that has run its course. There are 10 or more horrible knock-off bands for every respectable one in the genre. Despite this, The Last Felony dove into the genre and came out the other side relatively unscathed. I was surprised to hear a deathcore album that focused a lot more on the death metal and less on the ‘core. Yes, there are still breakdowns on this album, but they’re not the simple “chug chug chug” crap we’ve all heard a million times. The occasional breakdown (the band also shows restraint on how often they turn to breakdowns) is made unique as the band tries to vary how they use, adding in some grooves and old-school metal tones. Because the band tries branching out, they actually rise above the conventions of the genre to create a solid album in Too Many Humans. (artist website)


The ProblemsPowder Blue Bone

The Problems play a very down-home form of country-tinged rock n roll. I think the appropriate term for it is “Americana”. What sets The Problems apart from other Americana artists is that for the majority of the songs, they have a very strong classic rock base and vibe, but bits of country are thrown into parts of the songs. You might get a banjo solo in the middle of a rockin’ tune or some harmonica spicing up a track. There’s also a twangy country swagger to be found on some of the mellower tracks. Through it all, the band feels very at home with their mashed up sound and they obviously appreciate the myriad of rock, pop, and country influences that can be heard throughout Powder Blue Bone. (artist website)


Crunk WitchThe Legends of Manicorn

Electronic emo anyone? That’s probably the best way to describe Crunk Witch and their combination of modern emo styled vocals layered over the top of a thick electronic foundation. Big, thumping beats and synths galore bring to mind a version of Enter Shikari that lacked guitars. Nearly this entire album is electronically oriented (outside of the vocals) and it works for some of the faster, darker tracks, but when Crunk Witch delve into a poppier territory things start to unravel and get a little too cheesy. (artist website)


The Cold OpenBehind the Mattress

Well, here’s another pop-rock coaster to toss on the pile. The Cold Open are an extremely basic pop-rock band that create simplistic songs with underwhelming hooks and boring choruses. On top of this, the production makes them sound like a local bar band who slapped together a collection of songs to play between covers. Lastly, the vocals are very weak with little to no real dynamics. The Cold Open have a lot of work to do if they want to get some solid exposure beyond their local scene. (artist website)


Le Coup Du ParapluiePhilosophie, Bien-etre & Crimes Passionnels

Le Coup Du Parapluie hail from Belgium and bring to the table a potent mix of experimental indie-rock, post-rock, and progressive rock. There are crazy progressions that sound similar to something Omar Rodriguez-Lopez would put out when focusing on his more rock-oriented moments. Then there are drawn out slow burns that mix And So I Watch You From Afar and Battles to create soundscapes that sound larger than life, especially coming from a three-piece band. This is some seriously great stuff that mixes together a lot of what is great in today’s post-whatever genres. (artist website)


MoleskinVoluntary Inventory

The production bug hits again! Moleskin’s Voluntary Inventory has two downsides—pacing and production. The production leaves a lot of the instruments feeling thin while the songs feel like they could have been sequenced slightly differently for a smother album. With that said, Moleskin do have a nice blend of classic, psychedelic, and rock revival influences going on. They don’t shy away from a good groove and they’re not stingy with guitar solos. Being a true rock record, there’s also a couple of ballads tossed in for good measure. All things considered, there’s more good than bad on this record and it is worth a couple of listens at the least. (artist website)


CoriolisThe Endless Funeral

As I looked at the band picture on the inside of the album, I cringed a little bit. The lead singer had a chains microphone stand, was wearing 1980s era goth wear, and he was wearing tons of makeup (some of it appearing to be painted on tears). This could be bad… real bad. However, the album itself wasn’t too bad. If you’re a fan of industrial metal such as Celldweller, Klank, Eisbrecher, or Megaherz then The Endless Funeral will tread familiar territory. There isn’t quite as much polish as the latter two bands mentioned and not quite as much aggression as the first two bands, but there’s a decent synthesis of industrial guitars, bouncy synths, and gothic vocals. Sometimes there are elements that don’t fit together quite perfectly, but for the most part this is a solid industrial metal with some EBM and Neue Deutsche Harte influences. (artist website)


Rick Gebhardt
Age: 34

This batch sees a swing back towards quality. There are a couple of real gems in here, such as Le Coup du Parapluie, Head Down, and The Last Felony, and not nearly as many outright horrible albums as the past couple of batches.


Zach Roth
Age: 27
Fishers, Indiana

I've only listened to Bernays so far, but that album art for The Last Felony is fucking incredible. It looks like it should be a boss in Castlevania.

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