SAINTE – smile, and wave: A Catchy Debut

Dear Reader,

First a disclaimer, I won’t lie this kind of music isn’t exactly my style. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed this EP at all. Hell their debut single “Technicolor” has been putting a smile on my cynical mouth since it was first released about a year ago. All I am saying is that I’m not exactly up to date with pop music so my ability to compare to other acts is limited.

Anyway, smile, and wave is the debut EP from pop group SAINTE, featuring former members of the pop punk band We Are the In Crowd. It features seven tracks including the singles “Technicolor” and “With Or Without Me”.

It’s pretty obvious from the get go that this project is mainly focused on vocalist Tay Jardine. Not only was she the only band member to feature in two of the three music videos SAINTE has released, but production-wise her voice always overpowers the instruments, which in my opinion is fine for this genre. When I’m in the mood to listen to this kind of music I’m more focused on singing along than anything else. That’s not to say the instrumentation is necessarily bad. It might not be technically amazing when compared to a prog or math rock album but it’s always fitting and appropriate for what SAINTE is trying to do.

For the most part smile, and wave is infectiously catchy. “Technicolor” and “With Or Without Me” haven’t left my head since they were both released as singles and are certainly the two stand out tracks from this EP. The only track I flat out dislike is “Lighthouse”. To me this feels like the cliche slow ’emotional’ song an artist tacks on. To me it just gets in the way of the poppy pacing the rest of the EP has. I also feel the chorus of “Feels So Wrong” lacks drive, which somewhat sucks the energy out of the song.

Although the lyrics can be a bit cliche at times, they’re certainly a lot of fun. They’re simple enough to sing along to and the themes are relatable, but without feeling to contrived. My favourite line would easily be the puntastic pre-chorus in Technicolor (I’m counting one of the reasons, to adore you, three words on my lips, for you always).

The one EP I’d probably compare smile, and wave to is We Are the In Crowd’s Guaranteed to Disagree, which I feel is superior due to the use of second vocalist Jordan Ecks, who truly adds an interesting dynamic to songs such as “Carry Me Home” and “Both Side of the Story”. Guaranteed to Disagree also keeps a more consistent pace and doesn’t really slow down, which is effective for the fun pop-rock vibe it has.

Overall I enjoy smile, and wave. I respect for some people it might be what the movie Wonder Woman was to me, but frankly I’m too busy singing along to it to really care.

Regards

Your Writer

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The First Half of 2017

Dear Reader,

Having started this blog around April, I’ve not been able to post reviews of everything I’ve seen, heard or played this year. I intend this post to fill a few of those holes and act as an index for reviews I have done. Be aware I haven’t seen, heard or played anywhere near everything that’s come out.

Film and TV:

The Great Wall:

Matt Damon, William Dafoe, some actor from Game of Thrones and a bunch of Chinese actors collected a paycheck whilst running in front of a green screen. This movie was honestly so bad I bought Arrival to remind myself movies can be good.

Logan:

So far this would be my favorite movie of the year. This is what every comic book movie should aspire to be. Logan separated itself from the long running X-Men franchise with extreme violence and a bleak world. Hugh Jackman was great as always as the titular character, and so was Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Dafne Keen as Laura. My only complaints are that the villains were fairly bland and that the second act drags a bit.

Trainspotting 2:

Probably the only other movie I’ve seen this year that I can strongly recommend. To me this movie had bit more of a structure compared to the first movie. I also think Danny Boyle’s directing was rather creative at times with how he acquired certain shots. I will however recommend you watch this one with subtitles, as the Scottish accents are pretty thick.

Iron Fist:

I’ve been following the Marvel Defenders series ever since I got Netflix last year, and Iron Fist is easily the weakest series so far. The protagonist Danny Rand (Finn Jones) was bland and boring, and any of the dialog written around his company feels like it was written by a teenager who’s just discovered communism. The fights were nowhere near as good as Daredevil but unlike the other two series, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage, I didn’t really care for the characters either.

Cut the bullshit Netflix, what we need is a series focused on the The Punisher played by Jon Berthnal.

Ghost In The Shell (2017):

This might come as a surprise but I somewhat enjoyed this movie. It’s nowhere near as good as the anime and it falls apart at the third act, but I liked the direction they were going with it storywise before said third act. The action was pretty good even if it borrowed heavily from the source material, and I enjoyed some of the cinematography and the soundtrack. Scarlett Johansson was pretty good as The Major and I felt it was actually rather appropriate she wasn’t Asian considering everything that happens in the movie. I’d give it a cautious recommendation if you’re into cyberpunk things.

John Wick: Chapter 2:

Every time I think about this movie, I think about how much better it could have been. I honestly felt there was a lot to build upon from the first movie, but I found this sequel to be repetitive, blunt, and tiresome. Once Wick came back to New York, the movie changed tone to an extreme that absolutely confused me. I’m no longer interested in anything to do with John Wick and I probably won’t seek out the third movie. That being said Keanu Reeves as Wick does a good job with all the rooty tooty bad guy shooty stuff so just watch the action scenes on Youtube instead of seeing the full movie.

Wonder Woman (2017):

DC made a bland Marvel movie and apparently everyone loved it. I however found this movie to be a chore to watch. This is the same basic fantasy/sci-fi adventure movie Hollywood have been spitting out since fucking Star Wars. The music was terrible, the villains were laughable, the twist at the end was lazy and barely set up and I couldn’t wait for the movie to end.

Gaming:

Ghost Recon: Wildlands:

Well done Ubisoft, you remade Farcry 3 again.

Day of Infamy:

An enjoyable CO-OP WWII tactical shooter. Gunfire is loud, and combat is brutal. The community may be small but it’s friendly and relaxed. I’d highly recommend this game if you’re into tactical shooters.

Prey (2017):

This will probably be my favourite game of the year. Prey forces the player to think their situation through and come up with creative solutions with the tools provided. The enemy design is interesting and each enemy is unique in weaknesses and abilities.

Music:

BackWordz – Veracity

I was initially concerned when I heard BackWordz’s debut album was going to be 18 tracks long, but for the most part I feel they pulled it off. This is a hard hitting nu-metal album that explores many political issues from the view point of Anarcho-Capitalism. I still don’t like the track “Statism” as I find the lyrics very cheesy and I felt “So To Speak” added absolutely nothing to the album. I’m also pretty disappointed the song “Grindstone” didn’t make it onto the album as I feel that’s BackWordz’s best track.

At The Drive In – in•ter a•li•a

I was pretty pumped for this album since it was announced. At the Drive In is the band that got me into the post hardcore genre and I’d say Relationship of Command is one of my all time favorite albums. in•ter a•li•a might not be what fans were expecting, nor is it on the same level as Relationship of Command or In/Casino/Out, but it’s still a wild rock ‘n’ roll ride from start to finish and I certainly enjoyed it.

Body Thief – Speak In Hibernation

Although this album came out in 2015, the band just dropped a music video for one of the tracks that features on this album. Body Thief manage to blend the emotionally driven spoken word style of La Dispute with the funk-post hardcore styling of Dance Gavin Dance to create something truly unique.

Regards

Your Writer

Icarus the Owl

Dear Reader,

Combining catchy pop with technical math rock, Icarus the Owl have a sound that truly is their own, something that is rare these days. Basically that means you can sing along like it’s any other pop song yet still act like a pretentious asshole who listens to music purely for the talent involved at the same time.

I’d say both their albums Love Always Leviathan and their self-titled album are easily two of my favorite albums of all time and I’d struggle to pick my favorite between the two of them. Both albums demonstrate Icarus the Owl’s dynamic, energetic and whimsical music perfectly.

I do also enjoy their other albums, The Spotless Mind and Pilot Waves, however I’d argue both aren’t quite on the same level as the other two albums. In the case of The Spotless Mind, it very much feels like a first album where a band is still finding itself, and for Pilot Waves, I’d say it feels more restrained than their previous work. That being said I’d still highly recommend both of those albums.

Earlier this year Icarus the Owl released a cover of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles”. No plans for a new album have been announced yet but hopefully we’ll hear from them soon.

Regards

Your Writer

RIP letlive.

Dear Reader,

Today the band letlive. have decided to call it quits. I’ve been a pretty big fan of them since 2014 around the release of their album The Blackest Beautiful. The first single from that album “Banshee (Ghost Fame)” absolutely blew me away and I think I had it on repeat for the next few days. Once I finally got the album, I was obsessed.

Of course if one is to talk about letlive., the one thing that needs to be mentioned is their live performance. I’ve had the privilege to see them twice and both performances were fantastic. I feel the biggest shame is not that letlive. won’t be making music, but that they won’t be performing any more shows.

As for their albums, I’d say Fake History is my favorite, only slightly edging out The Blackest Beautiful. I admit I haven’t given If I’m the Devil… as much of a chance as I should have, but I doubt it’ll be able to overcome the nostalgia I have for their earlier releases.

I’ll leave you with their final message to their fans below.

Regards

Your Writer

Crooks (AKA Why I Start My Posts with ‘Dear Reader’)

Dear Reader,

One may wonder why I bother with posting those two words. It’s quite simple really. It’s inspired by the song “Dear Reader” by Crooks.

Obviously that would indicate that I am a fan of Crooks, and I most certainly am. I was first introduced to this band on Youtube, deciding to check out some new music. After listening through their single “A Few Peaceful Days” I knew I’d found something special.

Crooks manage to balance a sense of emotion with energetic music which never gets in the way of the former. I find a lot of ‘Emo’ bands to be a bit slow and dreary for my personal tastes, but Crooks manages to bring a great dynamic to there music.

Their debut album Are We All the Same Distance Apart is one of my favorites from 2015 and probably up there with my all time favorites. This album made one bold change in their music regarding vocals. Instead of using harsh vocals, frontman Josh (could not find his last name for the life of me) decided to harness his voice to it’s fullest potential. The result is honestly fantastic and manages to still feel emotional.

The other thing that stands out on this album is the incredible drumming. Some of the more energetic songs such as “Above Me”, “A Few Peaceful Days” and “Dear Reader” are the highlights in this regard.

There’s been no news on a follow up album, but I hope it comes soon.  The band have released a song recently titled “.NEVAREHT” but that’s about it. Crooks are an amazing band with a bright future despite their gloomy music.

Regards

Your Writer