Rapid Fire Reviews – 5/4

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

Jacob Stewart – and all the daughters of song are brought low

Possessing a bit of spirit in the likes of Tom Waits and beaming with heavy symbolism, Oregon’s Jacob Stewart soft acoustic songs are more than meets the eyes. The vocals are the biggest instrument found throughout the five song EP, riding melancholic melodies with croons full of heart and winding through emotional lyrics — often discussing ghosts and their presence on the singer’s life. “Golden Bowl” details out the passing of a loved one from a heartbreak. The voice is crystal clear, even allowing Stewart’s airy presence to question what death really is and what will happen to him. This is just one of the pensive and thoughtful songs that ring through and all of the daughters of song are brought low. For fans of plucked acoustic guitars and contemplative tunes with soothing vocals, don’t miss this record. Listening to “The Man in the Woods Behind My House parts 1&2” and watching the wind blow the trees around relaxes me, maybe there are ghosts out there, who knows.

Score: 6.5/10

Ramonda Hammer – Whatever That Means

Blistering with catchy vocals with power pop songwriting, Whatever That Means is an LP bound to be on heavy repeat for fans of rock music. Rather eclectic in delivery, L.A.’s Ramonda Hammer breathe vivid life into their music that brings about a record that is just fun to throw on and let it play out. It will wrap its arms around you as you are lost in thought with lead single “Goddamn Idiot” — sidebar, the video is ridiculously fun. Whatever That Means is an album that doesn’t beg to fit in anywhere, just spinning out whatever songs Ramonda Hammer wanted to write and wrote it to keep themselves preoccupied from all the noise surrounding them. “Conflicted” is a slow burner that works through various builds before letting vocalist Devin Davis loose and powerfully come crashing down, “and I’m addicted to falling out of line and I’m vindictive and masochistic and I won’t fix it, not because I’m fine.” It’s a bitter assault on the ears but it’s passionate and morose, something I think Ramonda Hammer combine well here. “Out Of Style” closes the record with dynamic shifts that take any post-rock band on with their fiery approach, tackling Davis’ inner conflicted contempt to come to a conclusion that chaos is beautiful and everyone else is wrong. I love the brutal honesty.

Score: 7.5/10

Perennial – Early Sounds For Night Owls

Let’s count it out. Topshelf Records has had plenty of bands blow through their roster and see the light of success in the music industry, but Perennial are the supergroup of the O.G. group of bands from the first days of Topshelf. Early Sounds For Night Owls rips through any eardrum with crunchy, gnashing guitars and urgent vocals screaming overtop the buzzing instruments. The entire EP is very in your face and when in full gear, Perennial is relentless. The synths that are brought along to change the dynamic of songs, like kicking off the record with “La Fugue Pour Béton brut.” Each track offers it’s own artful way to make the ears turn what they hear into sensual feelings, like the overall screech of  “Massachusetts Scenic Byways” or the shy and collected “Circle/Pivot/Circle.” Early Sounds For Night Owls is one damned good laceration. 

Score: 8.5/10

Cold Summer – Fight To Survive

Cold Summer channel post-hardcore vibes with alternative rock structured songs, it is almost a bit too polished. The sound is fantastic and the mixing is beautiful, I just want more Fight To Survive is a solid album with the band’s sound making the EP possess a large amount of clarity. “Waiting”‘s heavier moments showcase a band fighting through their music with discordant parts that are terrific with their punchy bursts. “Bear Eats Wold” is a perfect opener that combines the unique elements of beauty and thrashing aggression that make up the genre. The chorus is one giant hook that syncopates between the winding drums beautifully and transition back into the choppy and bending guitar riffs of the verse. Regardless of how polished the songs are, their method and pop friendly appeal allow them to market to multiple audiences, nodding their heads to the band’s slower tempo’d mass of songs. The middle of “Car Crash (In Progress)” is a breakdown calling to memory the early 2000s and it brings you back into those days with ease. It’s fun to hear a band correctly identify with this style of old and magnify it to six tracks.

Score: 7/10