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Calling Apollo – Vessels Review

14 Feb

calling apollo vessels

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Forming just over a year ago, though not becoming fully formed until earlier this year, Calling Apollo are a five piece progressive rock band based around South Wales. Mind you, that’s progressive rock in very much the modern sense of the term, and their sound encapsulates a little more than that in itself anyway. As stated the five piece became a fully formed five earlier this year, and have just released the debut EP they’ve been working toward since then.

Though currently unsigned, and very much a rarity on the live circuit at the moment, it’s clear from the five tracks on display here that the band have been very much focussing on honing their craft first and foremost. Something that becomes pretty much abundantly clear with the first track Youth in Motion as it slowly builds from a subtly swirling atmosphere and sampled speech seemingly lost under water or on the airwaves, then instantaneously starts proper.

It’s at this point you’re introduced to the band’s impressive technical abilities, and also vocalist Christian James Neale’s distinctive, well, vocals – obviously. Something that may divide some listeners as it lies in close proximity to the singings style of Cedric Bixler-Zavala of Mars Volta/At The Drive-In, or even Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria, but less operatic and with a little bit of Johnny Whitney from Jaguar Love/The Blood Brothers.

However, regardless of your feelings towards Neale’s vocal style, you cannot deny his ability with melody. Something that can be heard in clear evidence on the EPs fourth track Wasted Life, a track in which he offers possibly his best vocal performance of the EP that’s actually pretty impassioned. Though, the track also a good display of the tight unit playing behind him as they sail between an almost Tool like groove into soaring and emotive atmospherics seamlessly.

The band describe their sound as a combination melodic structures, ambience, and aggression, and it’s hard not to agree on this EP, as all bases are covered; the ambience and atmospherics of serene interlude Green; the melancholic but melodically uplifting blend of alt rock, post rock and post-hardcore that is Ghost of Everything; the screamo hints that Poison The Feed boasts between frenetic riffs, tension, and just plain silly technical abilities alongside a little taste of classic progressive rock through its arrangements.

As debut EPs go, this is surprisingly well crafted, it isn’t wholly polished, as it’s still a little rough around the edges but then it was recorded in guitarist Kevin Williams’ bedroom. Regardless, it’s a really enjoyable EP. Think a little bit if Mars Volta had maintained a little more of At The Drive-In’s spirit as opposed to extensive psychedelic wig outs with a Latino flavour, but also add into the mix the kind of ambience and experimentation of The Sounds of Animals Fighting, but real catchy when it needs to be.

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Boys Like Girls – Crazy World Album Review

13 Apr


Boys Like Girls are a Pop/Punk/Alternative/Rock band from the United States and have had two albums (Boys Like Girls & Love Drunk) released prior to this one on review today. Crazy World was released on the 11th December 2012 and sees the band take a slight detour away from their usual pop/punk routine. The album features definite country influences which I think enhance the album as a whole, and makes them stand out from the sea of American pop/rock bands. It also allows them to appeal to a large audience, which is always good.

Boys Like Girls took a break from working together after their second album released in 2010 and parted ways with their bassist Bryan Donahue in 2011. They hired his replacement Morgan Dorr in 2012 and then proceeded to release the first single ‘Be Your Everything’ on 14th August 2012.

So, onto the tracks…

We begin with ‘The First Time’ which provides a good start to the album. It provides familiarity with their older style of music for previous fans, and is good enough to draw you in if you haven’t heard of them before. An excellent start it would seem. ‘Life Of The Party’ is perhaps the catchiest song on the album. Easy to learn lyrics, a great beat and an upbeat happy vibe surround the second track. All round a fantastic track which is one of my favourites from this release. I particularly like one of the final phrases being, “You smell that? It smells like Boys Like Girls is back!” I didn’t know they had a particular scent… Next up is the title track ‘Crazy World’. So far this is the closest glimpse of the country/pop vibe seeping into their sound. I think it enhances it overall as it is a much gentler, more down to earth sound compared to their two previous albums. The lead single ‘Be Your Everything’ is by and large a love song. It’s poignant and feels like it has been written from the heart. Great lead single and should have achieved higher than 43 on the US Pop chart. ‘Stuck In The Middle’ keeps the calm and peaceful mood for another heartfelt song. Slightly more up tempo than Be Your Everything, but is still a warming song.

‘Cheated’ flips the mood away from the previous two tracks and raises the tempo once more. More pop/rock returning here but again the vocals keep a slight country twang compared to their previous pop/punk style. ‘Shoot’ has the most relevance to a country audience as it seamlessly adds their own pop/rock twist to the genre. I like what they’ve done and the merging of pop and country works well. It’s definitely more pop than country, but only just. ‘Leaving California’ takes us back to the more relaxed slow songs of earlier. Not much else new to add as its tempo increases slightly towards the end but still keeps the sombre tone.

‘Take Me Home’ brings back the pop for another rocky hit. A very marketable sound as it has a broad appeal to many ears. Good all round song, and another favourite of mine. ‘Red Cup Hands Up Long Brown Hair’ brings back the party vibe heard earlier in the album for an upbeat ending to the release. Incredibly catchy chorus which will go down well live and I can see this becoming a fan favourite for the tour. It also reintroduces a country element along with a more rocky style. Finally we have ‘Hey You’. This is, in my view, the best song on the album. Why, you may ask? It combines both downbeat and upbeat melodies perfectly and has relatable lyrics which will appeal to everyone. ‘Hey You’ has a purely musical outro which provides an excellent crescendo to an all-round brilliant album.

Overall this album shows great progression for the band and sounds well produced and well thought out. From me this album gets a well deserved 5/5. A definite must buy if you like the US pop/rock scene.

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