With the unfortunate passing of our dear friend Brian Shields earlier this year, we were kind of heartbroken, kind of hesitant to go forward with columns that were truly his. However, abandoning them full stop would be a disservice to you, our readers. That said, we are reviving one of Mr. Shields’ great ideas in having artists tell us what they’re listening to.
Without further ado, we present to you a brand new addition in the column with vocalist/keyboardist/singer/songwriter Kyle Bishop from Seattle’s Numbers!
August Burns Red – Found In Far Away Places
August Burns Red puts out an album that shreds your face off just about every other year or so. This band has been so integrally influential on my songwriting and overall music career. Composure, from their album, Messengers, got me thinking about what even makes a breakdown an actually good breakdown. Since then, the band has taken their shape and form, but now with wonderfully added creative passages in almost every song; reminiscent of Between The Buried & Me.
With all of this being said, I’ve jammed their new album they recently dropped, Found In Far Away Places, and of course it is satisfying. An album from August Burns Red is an album I can rely on. Far Away Places is not their best or most groundbreaking work to date, but I still enjoy it. I especially enjoy all of the guest guitar and vocal appearances throughout. At this rate, the band will play in the same ranks and status as Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, and many other major players in the metal scene, and rightfully so. I’ll always be listening.
Forevermore – Telos
Telos is interesting. I was hesitant about putting it up here on my list because I feel a bit guilty for listening to this album as much as I have. Why? Well, because the opening track is suspiciously familiar. Monuments’ latest album, “The Amanuensis”, has a very similar introduction to their album. I notice tons of familiar riffs from bands like Periphery, Born Of Osiris, Memphis May Fire, Northlane in a few spots, and all of the metalcore and djent clichés thrown into the salad that is Forevermore’s album, Telos. I’m convicted because when I listen to Forevermore’s Telos, I am reminded how none of it really is very original or innovative. In fact, I’ve been able to predict just about all of it due to already hearing it before upon my first listen.
You might be asking, “Then why are you listening to this band that you don’t really like, Kyle?” That’s the thing: I do like it. Every song is pretty awesome. Sure, we’ve heard it all before: the “BLECHS”, 808 hits, polyrhythms, endless breakdowns, bouncy riffs, and all of that jargon we average metal dudes love so much. Forevermore (with an enthusiastic nod to their drummer) knows their audience, and they’re catering to them with an album that gives listeners some insight as to who they’re listening to, and what direction they’d like to go. I like the direction, and hope they can inject their own original flavor in this oversaturated genre they’ve lumped themselves into. Tl;dr – They’re unoriginal right now, but they’re also really good. So I’m keeping my ears tuned in.
Hiromi – Alive
My goodness. This album. I discovered Hiromi through a keyboard magazine I follow on Facebook. Watched a video of her tear apart a piano with passion that I can relate to. I decided to check out her latest album, Alive, and I am currently listening to it for about the fortieth time in the past three weeks or so. It’s an incredibly pieced together progressive jazz album with a mind-blowingly talented trio. There’s plenty of technical performance to keep my musical brain satisfied like a finely dined meal. Only this isn’t junk food music; it’s elegant. It’s supreme. I connect with each note individually from moment to moment.
Each song throughout can strike me with a melody, chord progression, or nuance that I can emotionally feel. It sure isn’t metal, and it isn’t heavy, but it’s passionate and beautiful which I am 100% okay with, and you should be too. It’s also very technical. I mean, it’s jazz. If you haven’t listened to my band, then you may find this album to be completely irrelevant; I promise its relevant, and I promise it’s great. The track, Spirit, has me literally saying “Mmm” like I had just taken a giant bite of a delicious, juicy, perfectly seasoned steak. The music is that good to me. Her track, “Firefly” legitimately makes me tear up. If you have the patience, give this album a listen. I promise you won’t regret it.
Jarrod Alonge – Beating A Dead Horse
I vaguely follow Jarrod Alonge, YouTube metalcore/pop-punk scene funny guy. He is funny, and he also can write clever, satirical lyrics. I don’t know the extent of which Jarrod wrote the music or sat behind the production of his successfully crowdfunded album. I also don’t know why Jarrod’s parents were cruel enough to spell “Jared” the way its currently spelled. I just know that Johnny Franck engineered and mixed Beating A Dead Horse, and the notorious Joey Sturgis mastered it. Also, Drewsif Stalin makes an appearance on two of the tracks, as well as the local homie / YouTube metal star, Jared Dines and several other guest appearances from several metal and pop punk bands.
At the very least, Beating A Dead Horse is a massively successful collaborative effort. The album is great. Each track is worth a good laugh, and is especially relevant to those of us who regularly listen to the types of bands the satirecore album mocks. On top of the humor, the tracks themselves sound as legitimate as real releases that they’re mocking, and many of the tracks are catchy. Pretty much all of the Sunrise Skater Kids songs are stuck in my head quite often. I truly wouldn’t mind a satire album from each of Jarrod’s imagined bands considering I know each one will be executed professionally and hilariously.
Jake Bowen – Isometric
Mr. Bowen, one of three guitarists of Periphery produced and self-released this awesome album, Isometric. The album consists of generally chill beats and distant calm guitar lines sailing through the atmosphere. The whole album has a sense of lightness that is very refreshing to listen to, especially when I need a break from listening to pounding drums and overall loud and noisy music.
The album itself doesn’t evoke much emotion in me, but it evokes thought, and has a consistency to it that I believe is a direct extension of Jake Bowen’s mind. He clearly has intellect, and enjoys a level of simplicity; which makes me appreciate the guy even more considering his insane talent to shred the guitar. To me, it takes guts to write music that is on a seemingly lesser level of energy than what one is capable of creating, and Jake does it confidently. Macbook grooves for days.
Paul Wardingham – The Human Affliction
Paul Wardingham dropped his newest album, The Human Affliction, and it is a jammer. Paul needs to write for a sick, arcade-style video game soundtrack. The dude knows how to write very memorable themes with a fantastic use of key signatures and modes, along with incredibly written guitar work. Paul has the ear that I like to convince myself I share, where he just knows what melody needs to go over each progression. When I listen to each theme from each track I think, “Yep. That’s the melody that belongs there. Thanks, Paul.”
Thanks, Paul. You got this, man. Keep shredding. Don’t fall into the djent hole. If any listeners haven’t listened or watched Paul play guitar, you should check him out online. Google him, and you will be satisfied.
Phinehas – Till The End
I played a show with these dudes back in 2008 with my old band, Hexxus. We played Club Impact back when it still existed in Tacoma, WA. Phinehas brought the house down, and showed us how to be a metal band. If you look at the appearance of the members of Phinehas, you will realize they take metal very seriously; full beards, awesome mustaches, windmills, breakdowns, and butt-rock guitar solos. There’s some noteworthy moments throughout every track, and the Pantera-influence is strong with this band. Check them out if you like your face melted.
The Lion In Winter – Sleep Well, Avidya
These are some local Washington dudes that I’ve shared the stage with in their prior bands. They formed a group after the novel, The Lion In Winter, and wrote and produced an overlooked EP. There’s tons of early 2000s thrash influences in this. I didn’t grow up listening to that genre back in the day, but TLIW pulls it off really well with their sound. I was very surprised to hear a local band this good. They still aren’t as recognized as I would expect them to be given the evident talent in the songwriting and performance.
If you like The Used, The Fall Of Troy, Dear Hunter, or any of those types of bands, you’ll dig The Lion In Winter. They fit right into that ear pocket, and give it a fresh new taste with their own unique blend of genre mashing; progressive/thrash. I’ll be jamming this album for a while.
The Ongoing Concept – Handmade
Not that this album list was written in any particular order for any particular reason; I’m happy The Ongoing Concept’s “Handmade” is my closing album blurb. I met these guys at the smallest show ever out in Anacortes, WA in an old church building. There couldn’t have been more than ten actual guests, and the rest of the attendance were band members standing around watching. TGO were insane. They didn’t give one crap about there being only a few people watching and listening, and they acted like a bunch of zoo animals while actually playing their songs. My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw Kyle (the other Kyle that also screams and plays piano in a metal band) jump off of the PA speaker for no reason other than to be a crazy frontman. I decided to keep my eyes on this band at that moment.
The band itself not only does everything themselves (i.e. their own music videos, album production, photography, artwork, etc.), for this album they made their own instruments.
Yes. Their own instruments. Out of a tree they chopped down and milled, they made their own drum kit and guitars. Not only did they record with these handmade items, they recorded a killer album with them. If you give it a listen, they pick up where Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster and The Chariot left off, and produced their own soulful, creative, fresh-from-Idaho flair with amazing attitude and energy. The passion is evident and captured. The mix, while DIY’d, sounds fantastic. I’ll be rocking this album for a while in my playlist regularly for the years to come.
Thanks for the spot, Heavy Blog! Happy to share what I’ve been listening to lately.
Numbers released a new single not too long ago, “The Winds At Bay,” a track withheld from the release of Three. You can snag it for free via Bandcamp!
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If you’re not familiar with Numbers already, check out last year’s release, Three! If you’re not convinced by Mr. Bishop’s excellent taste in music above, please check out our review for the band’s 2014 release right here and listen to it below via Bandcamp.