Album Reviews, Music

Review: Terrible Things – Terrible Things

Tracing the lineage of Terrible Things, you get a sense of the band’s pedigree, and in turn, get a better understanding of just what they sound like. Like an amalgamation of the members’ previous bands, it’s all a crosspollination of late-era Hot Rod Circuit with The Color Fred (and Where You Want To Be Taking Back Sunday). It is as expected from a band whose songwriting comes from Andy Jackson and Fred Mascherino. And for those who would enjoy the sound of Hot Rod Circuit through the The Color Fred, then Terrible Things is a record waiting for your approval.

It should however, not be dismissed as simply a by-product of the members’ musical history. Yes, the sounds of “Revolution” and “Lullaby” could have been culled from Reality’s Coming Through, and the rather pristine Midwestern vibes of “The Hills of Birmingham” could have been what Hot Rod Circuit wrote next, but there is a distinct aura of separation between the tracks here and the past. It’s a new record after all, and while its influences are shown clearly in its sleeve, there is much to like and differentiate on Terrible Things. Its scattered use of additional textures is certainly helpful- the occasional piano, the quiet strings and the subtle touches give the album a new found delicate layer.

Case in point with “Been Here Before”, sounding less post-hardcore and more straightforward rock, the song is a good indicator of the possibilities of Terrible Things expanding on pre-conceived sounds. They’ve upped the tempo in “Not Alone” with good results, and only in “Conspiracy”, where they sidetrack to kitschy piano swayed territory does it really misstep.

Percussion wise, there isn’t much outside out of the standard, but third member Josh Eppard, himself a multi-disciplined musician, gives the record a solid backbone. It is perhaps the strongest compliment you can pay Terrible Things at this point, that their debut is most definitely solid. Some great ideas, good production, and history make up for some serious promise. Like they sing in “Revolution”, quote apropos; “this is not a revolution / until we say it is.” (Universal Motown)

[xrr rating=2.5/5]

Terrible Things – Revolution (from the album Terrible Things)


Review: Hot Rod Circuit – The Underground is a Dying Breed

It would appear as if Hot Rod Circuit were relatively spent after the release of 2004’s Reality’s Coming Through. The band seemed to lose the momentum gained from their Vagrant debut Sorry About Tomorrow– which not only gleamed at the band’s potent emotional side, but tapped into their resourceful brand of quality rock songwriting- falling away into comparative obscurity before seeking a renewal of spirits on (recently rejuvenated) label Immortal. And it seems their brief time away from the spotlight has earned them a refreshment of sorts, as The Underground is a Dying Breed reaches the potential sought on their previous effort. It’s the band’s most accomplished release, and while it certainly doesn’t equate to the resonance of Sorry About Tomorrow, it at least punctuates the band’s steadfastness in writing songs with a bit of depth and variance.

Songs “US Royalty” and “Six-Eight” are probably the album’s strongest efforts. Both tunes are firmly entrenched in slow-building guitar riffs and strong melodic choruses that remind listeners of “Cool For One Night” and “Night They Blew Up the Moon.” Tracks like “Stateside” and “Spit You Out” have a certain bounce to them; not so much soaking in the emotional imbalance of say, older tunes like “Radiation Suit,” but certainly the kind of song that may find itself listed somewhere as a Hot Water Music b-side. The album’s mid-tempo pace will please listeners who enjoy songs that tend to work towards its rewards- like in “45’s;” a beautifully strewn, heartache-sounding stroll through indie rock’s most serene locations. The album’s sole misstep perhaps, is its lack of a singular killer tune. It boasts 11 quality tracks that could use the aide of one, dare to say, accessible moneymaker. The songs tend to land somewhere in-between “getting there” and “very much almost there” in terms of their sheer quality.

The Underground is a Drying Breed is the kind of maturity and sound refinement Hot Rod Circuit have been searching for these past years. They hinted at it on Sorry About Tomorrow, but got lost trying to find it on Reality’s Coming Through. With this, they seem to have finally found their comfort in songwriting, and it proves to be more than just an enjoyable listen- it’s a keeper. (Immortal)