Album Review: Little Big League

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Artist: Little Big League

Album: These Are Good People

For people who like: Hop Along, Post Post, Kickball

Little Big League have been around for only a short while, but that didn’t affect the amount of hype built around this album. Many of the members come from other great bands of past and present (Titus Andronicus, Post Post, and Strand of Oaks), so the excitement was definitely justified to an extent. However, even after hearing so much about this band from friends and websites, it wasn’t until I first saw Little Big League last year at Big Snow Buffalo Lodge that it all came together. Even with the talented members, I couldn’t help but feel jaded about a band with only one 7” out, but when they got on stage, I was genuinely blown away. Little Big League’s debut album, These Are Good People, definitely lives up to it’s expectations.

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Lost and Found: Big Bear

Big Bear was a math-rock band from Boston, MA. This is probably one of the most under-the-radar bands I’ve ever found, and as good as they are I am genuinely shocked by it. Being a band from after the turn of the century, but before bandcamp, it was easy for Big Bear to get lost in all the chaos. Their limited discography and short-lived presence also may have played a large factor, releasing only one full length (Under The Beach) and one EP (See Out). Regardless, this band is great. They have intricate and repetitive instrumentation reminiscent of bands like Faraquet, but Big Bear takes those ideas a step further, in a more experimental direction. A must check out for sure!

*Buy Big Bear’s Discography Courtesy of Joyful Noise

Song Title: Empty Hands

Artist: Toasted Plastic

Album: June Highs

Toasted Plastic is a math-rock band from Ridgewood, NJ.

"Empty Hands," is definitely a major standout track on Toasted Plastic’s amazing debut, June Highs. It’s got all the best of the band’s common motifs of complex rhythmic sequences, a balance of emotional yelling with angelic, choir-like melodies, and, not to mention, an unrelenting momentum. This is probably the best I’ve seen vocalist//guitarist Sam Kendrick meld on all levels with other vocalist//drummer Cameron Konner. It’s like they finish each others sentences, oh wait, they do!

Towards the beginning of “Empty Hands,” each of Toasted Plastic’s vocalists have a interesting back and fourth that acts as a sort of discourse in the song. Konner seems to be the voice of Kendrick’s cynical subconscious in this moment, forcing negative thoughts of giving up and persistently sour feelings. Kendrick’s voice is a harkening back to the sounds of Ryan Grisham of Mock Orange and Rob Crowe’s work with Thingy as he tells of how maturing has helped him overcome the obstacles of his life. Although the song seems to be about something deeply personal, his words can truly resonate with anyone.

*Catch Toasted Plastic on tour this sumer!

*Purchase their album “June Highs” on cassette or CD when it is available!

8/10

Bandcamp

Album Review: Tawny Peaks / Brightside Split

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Artists: Tawny Peaks and Brightside

Album: Tawny Peaks / Brightside Split

For people who like: Olive Drab, Glocca Morra, Pity Sex

Although my love for each band has only recently been ignited, that does not at all take away from how I excited I am about the Tawny Peaks / Brightside Split. This is Brightside's first follow up from their great summer EP, Seconds Matter. Tawny Peaks are also following up a summer release, from their first and self-titled full-length, Tawny Peaks. With this split, each band shows a significant amount of growth, energy, and just how much a band can evolve over the course of a year.

Brightside starts off the split with the familiar kind of energy from their previous releases. Though that energy is still there, it’s channeled in quite a different way this time around. On “Some Magic Is Real,” Brightside goes with a much more poppy approach, with vocals echoing The Shins' James Mercer. Although there's a soft spot in my heart for the kind of punk edge that Brightside previously had (particularly on Good Enough), I really appreciate the more straight-forward pop direction the band is going in. This definitely makes Brightside a much more accessible band. The riffs on Brightside’s second track “Oldold/Newnew” are truly infectious, and I value the band’s ability to progress over time.

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Summer Lovin’: “Small Talk” from Run For Cover Records

Run For Cover Records recently started an interviewing series called Small Talk where they interview bands on their label. There’s some great interviews featuring members of Title Fight, Adventures, and Pity Sex. It’s a great series because rather than any other run-of-the-mill interview one can find online, this series is in-depth on a personal level. For example, the interview featured above with Pity Sex’s Britty Drake discusses how she got arrested and kicked out of high school when she was a teenager!


Although Run For Cover does sign//interview plenty of bands on their label that I don’t give a fuck about, the series has a lot of potential and is definitely worth checking out!

The Scoop - Fat History Month announce split 7” with My Dad

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(Fat History Month: image courtesy of explodinginsoundrecords.com)

Indie-rock duo Fat History Month recently announced a new single to be out on a split 7” with Chicago punk band, My Dad. Side A of the record will be the new single from Fat History Month titled, “Sad History Month, January 2012,” and Side B will be My Dad’s new single “Tom Waits For No Man.” This will be Fat History Month’s first new release since their incredible second LP, Bad History Month, which came out only a few months ago.

My Dad will be collaborating with Exploding In Sound Records for the first time, and they are the perfect band for this split. Both My Dad and Fat History Month seem to have a similar experimental approach when it comes to songwriting, packing their songs with emotional intensity and jam-filled instrumental breaks.

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1 Year of Sweet Nothings

Since May 11, it’s been about a year since Sweet Nothings came to fruition.  It’s been a blast, and although recently it’s been victim to my neglect, their will always be a place in my life for it. Working on Sweet Nothings this past year has made me realize a lot of things about myself. It’s helped improve my writing skills, meet a bunch of wonderful people, and allowed me to do things I have always wanted to do. I’ve had a great time sharing music with you this past year, and I hope you all enjoyed it too.

So here from Sweet Nothings I want to say thanks to anyone who has supported, contributed to, or enjoyed this blog. I will continue my endeavors for years to come and I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Sincerly,

Victor

Album Review: Circus Fires

Artist: Circus Fires

Album: All Living Things 

For people who like: Jimmy Eat World, Weakerthans, Brand New, and Weezer

It seems that people often will discuss an albums consistency and use that as a gauge if it is “good or bad.” Quite frankly, the true quality of an album comes from not only consistency as whole, but individual song quality. With Madison, Wisconsin’s Circus Fires debut, All Living Things, the display of quality attention to the entire release production wise, and the individual care to each track from a songwriting angle allows this album to show that Circus Fires may just have released one of the best albums of the year.

As far as All Living Things goes, the consistency is not compromised in any sort of way for monotony. Tracks such as “These Synapses Fire Blanks” and “Spent Bullets” provide of an outgoing pop-rock feel similar to Jimmy Eat World. However, tracks such as “A Bloody Ransom for a New Life” and “Neva” give of a more experimental and urgent vibe similar to bands such as Brand New and even later work from Thrice.

One track that should not be slept on at all is All Living Things third track, “A Gentleman’s Curse.” This song clearly shows how Circus Fires knows how not only be great musicians, but how to connect all of their skill together. “A Gentleman’s Curse” is contains aggressive elements, but is interlaced with parts that allow you to feel as if you have traveled into the inquisitive and mysterious situation discussed throughout the tracks lyrics.

The entire production of All Living Things allows the group, still slightly in their infancy, to experiment with various effects and placement of proper sound samples. With most bands on a rather early release, it seems that things like notch filter effects will just be used “because it sounds cool.” However, each alteration, be it on vocals, guitar or even drums, it is done with some sort of purpose and reasoning. Prime example of the use of these artistic adjustments can be heard in the tracks “Pull Oceans” and  “Earthbound.”

What seems to be the main selling point of this debut album is that it all feels natural. I don’t mean in a weird audiophile-analog kind of way either. Everything to the strings done by guitarist Nick Jones and bassist Tylor Sherman, just seem to lock in not only with guitarist and singer Eric Doucette’s lyrics, but with the properly laid out thick drum parts fulfilled by Paul Sirianni. 

So with influences and elements reminiscent of various turn of the century alternative bands, it seems that Circus Fires would come off with almost a frat-rock vibe, but at the end of they don’t. This is a band plays with nothing but honesty and sincerity and All Living Things is just about the perfect way to showcase such emotion. 

Everything from the songs structure to the aforementioned production aspects were placed down, the entire album just feels natural. A quality that still is around in plenty of current music, but unfortunately, I feel is not as frequent. So if you’re searching for a naturally consistent-yet diverse album, Circus Fires’ All Living Things may just be the exact album you’re searching for.

All Living Things is set to be out this spring with a three song preview out digitally, April 30th.

Standout tracks- “Shelter”, “A Gentleman’s Curse”, “Pull Oceans”, “A Blood Ransom for a New Life”

9/10


Album Review: Hell Mary

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Artist: Hell Mary

Album: Forever on the Fence

For people who like: Comeback Kid 

Hell Mary is a hardcore band from New Jersey, and Forever on the Fence is their debut EP. On this EP, Hell Mary is as angry and ruthless as their EP cover. Forever on the Fence is everything you would expect from a great hardcore EP and more. Complete with lyrics of personal grudges, dissonant instrumentation, and slow-burning breakdown tempos, Forever on the Fence is an amazing debut EP from Hell Mary.

Forever on the Fence, starts with the great track “The Crawl,” which is an ode to all those who think too highly of themselves. It’s the type of track that’s perfect to start with, almost seemingly addressing those who disagree with Hell Mary’s sentiments shouting “go crawl on home to your mother.” It is directly followed by “(We’re Just) White Noise,” which is as knowingly rebellious as a punk song should be. It is reminiscent to tracks like Minor Threat’s “Minor Threat,” having a similar youthful exuberance. Although the best track on this EP has got to be the title track, “Forever on the Fence.” It’s unfaltering ethos, and emotionally charged vocals give this song a believable, and relatable vibe. The vocalist’s passion and self-deprecative tendencies are so real, and as the song comes to a close with noisy distortion and thumping bass, the emotion becomes palpable. I also love how Forever on the Fence ends the EP with the 41-second “Done…Again.” The lyrics speak of being fed up with everything, fittingly closing the EP with “I’m done…again.”

All things considered, Forever on the Fence is a great EP, and paves the way for many great releases to come. Pick up Hell Mary’s 7” of Forever on the Fence courtesy of Bedside Manner Collective//Gruff Beard Records.

8/10

Favorite Track(s): Forever on the Fence

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hellmary.bandcamp.com/

Album Review: Polaroids

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Artist: Polaroids

Album: I Still Have Dreams

For people who like: Lifetime, Title Fight, Crime In Stereo

I Still Have Dreams is the debut album of New Jersey hardcore band, Polaroids. This LP will be a follow-up to their somewhat predictable first EP, Reference Tracks which was released back in August of 2012. For only a couple months later, Polaroids have really stepped up big time for the discipline that comes with making a full-length record. I Still Have Dreams is fast, but long enough to keep you satisfied, heavy, but appropriately melodic, and a welcome and innovative album to the genre of hardcore.

Polaroids rightfully sets the mood for the album with a sample of a sorrowful monologue from the character Brooks of the film Shawshank Redemption. It fits right in with Polaroids emotional approach on this record. This approach that Polaroids has taken really adds to their versatility as a band. With lyrics of abandonment, passionate vocals, and melodic melodies, this album could fit into a bunch of different molds. I could see wide range of fans from emo scenes to cheesey pop-punk kids being into this, though I wouldn’t classify Polaroids as a band of either of those genres.

The use of multiple vocalists on I Still Have Dreams is something that really keeps the album from monotony. Drummer Christopher Postlewaite’s angry and throaty vocals, and bassist Mike Quiray’s soft and harmonious singing, is impressively foiled by the often unorthodox vocal stylings of guitarist Thomas Fett. Fett seems to be a nice balance of both vocal styles, and even adds some strange, yet interesting, styles of his own.

What makes I Still Have Dreams stand out most of all, is Polaroids’ impressive instrumentation on the record. Unlike most hardcore these days which rely on simple four chord progressions, Polaroids innovates with smooth, even somewhat jazzy, guitar riffs laid over each track. However, the use of a variety of instruments is what really solidifies I Still Have Dreams as a truly memorable release. Polaroids utilizes piano, tambourine, shaker, melodica, and even upright bass on the album. This is highly unusual for a hardcore album, but it works so well. A prime example of this is on the track “Immigrant Song Pt. II”, where a piano sweep directly precedes a breakdown (fucking awesome). The piano then continues to back the heavy instrumentation, adding a soothing layer to the atmosphere of the song. Another great use is the melodica during the final moments of “Stubborn”, which is both appropriate and enticing. It gives the song the perfectly somber feeling, almost to the point of a “game over” kind of effect. It may seem like a gimmick, but Polaroids use of these instruments is completely necessary, and it is ultimately is what makes them, and this album, stand out among most.

All in all, Polaroids’ I Still Have Dreams is a highly original, and enjoyable hardcore LP. It is by far the most classically artistic punk record I’ve ever heard before. It takes hardcore in a direction that I didn’t even know it was missing. Many may try to imitate, but not anyone can pull off what Polaroid’s has done with their first full-length record. 

9/10

Favorite Tracks: Soul Mates, Immigrant Song Pt. II, Stubborn, Rain Castle

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polaroids.bandcamp.com

About

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Sweet Nothings is a music blog with a slight emphasis on college bands.

"I don't sugar coat anything" - Steven Moreno Sr.

Sweet Nothings is a sanctuary for...
-Track Reviews
-Album Reviews
-Performance Reviews
-Band Interviews

You can also find these special features on the site...
-THE SCOOP: A source for music news and east coast show listings.
-BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR...: Bands that are on their way to success.
-SUMMER LOVIN': Miscellaneous music//things you should check out.
-LOST & FOUND: Bands from yesteryear that were forgotten, but are amazing nevertheless.

STAFF:
VICTOR MASSARI - Founder
I write (nearly) all of the track and album reviews, and plan out everything on the site.

PATRICK MITCHELL - Chief Editor
Pat edits nearly all of the things that I write on the site. Without him, everything would sound highly unprofessional.

CARLY MORENO - Art Director
Every original image produced for Sweet Nothings has been created by Carly.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:
DAN MORO, THOMAS "TJ" STEVENSON, and JOE VIRGILLITO for helping out on the site when I needed it.

For any Questions//Comments//Suggestions//Concerns//HATE please E-mail sweetnothingsreviews@gmail.com


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