In an age when major bands’ albums are distributed on BitTorrent within hours of their release, actually buying a record can seem recklessly, even ludicrously, spendthrift. Unfortunately for you (but very fortunate indeed for Jarrod Bramson, Emily Madden and Sasha Landis), Solvents’ new album, Forgive Yr. Blood, won’t be on BitTorrent. You’re actually going to have to buy a copy, personally folded and stamped by frontman Bramson, and you’re going to be glad you did.
Reading the reviews for Exit Calm’s eponymous debut, it seems that the scene that celebrates itself is at it again. Phrases like “best since,” “of the decade,” and “of the century so far” are being hurled about with reckless abandon. I, for one, am not buying it. Granted I did have to listen to some of the songs on this album a few times to fully appreciate them, but that is only because I fell asleep twice trying to listen to it.
It isn’t that it’s bad. You’ve Got It All Wrong and Hearts and Minds are both exceedingly well-crafted tracks that stay with you long after the record has stopped spinning, with craftsmanship being the key word. The technical talent of these four Yorkshire lads (Nicky Smith, Rob Marshall, Simon Lindley, and Scott Pemberton, augmented here by mix-master Ulrich Schnauss) is unquestionable—it just isn’t quite enough. In moments of social-critical engagement, like the two songs mentioned above, Exit Calm is at its best. When the subject matter turns inward however, the band’s eyes drift back down to the stage and the lyrics fade into the background. This isn’t to say that the other tracks are clichéd, merely that they are lyrically undistinguished.
Mean Creek is Boston’s best band, and you don’t need to take my word for it—the readers of the Boston Phoenix agree. With two acclaimed albums under their belt and a reputation for riveting live performances, the title is certainly well-earned. Having just released a new 7″, The Comedian [a worthy follow-up to the cthonic intensity and lofty melancholia of their last offering, The Sky (or the Underground)], Mean Creek is preparing to play shows next month in New York, New England, and Pennsylvania. Before hitting the road, frontman Chris Keene was kind enough to field a few questions on the meaning of it all.