Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good
Heavy music in general is notorious for it's redundancy. Philadelphia's Towers somehow has figured out a way to imbue the genre of metalcore with a new take. Their latest release 'Full Circle' has established the band as both an inventive and interesting force. Previous releases were far more clear in their influence, but Towers has layered their approach with a variety of techniques (i.e. ring modulators) and somehow managed to make the most complete musical statement of the year. 'Full Circle' is aggressive, melodic, technical, and brash. The record as a whole seems to have been designed with the vinyl format in mind as the first half of it favors a far more progressively hard sound while the ending of the album embraces a much more melodic and accessible approach.
'Let Them Eat Cake' starts off 'Full Circle' with a slur of guitar effects and an almost subdued sound. This clearly changes one minute into the track when the band transitions into a heavy section that could be described with numerous post-suffix references. To be blatant when Towers enters the heavy portions of this album they definitely sound like they came out of the 1990s. Bands just aren't playing such atonal, heavy music. '235 Ways To Suck Seed' shows how the band also is able to incorporate their effect based sound as a transition into the heavier portions of their music. The tones found on this album are surprisingly refreshing and in my mind I have never heard a band in the realm of aggressive music use sonic texture in such a unique way. Groups like Isis may spring to mind but Towers isn't necessarily playing slow, extended pieces. The entirety of this album is twenty four minutes and the amount of ground covered in that time is very impressive. Tracks like 'Beta' and 'Hope' show that Towers is willing to step out into the more melodic realms of "hardcore" and that really strengthens the finale of 'Full Circle'. Steve Roche's intimate production also really adds to Towers overall sound on this record giving it a raw yet layered sound.
2009 has already established itself as a year where the most interesting records have been those that embrace a variety of sounds. If anything the closing of this decade has helped fully verbalize some of the more childish and earlier attempts at fusing heavy music with a supposed sophistication. 'Jane Doe' still holds the crown of the most accomplished "heavy" record of the decade, but Towers has clearly made themselves an original yet easily listenable piece of work with 'Full Circle'. Perhaps it's lack of traditional dynamics doesn't allow for it to be heralded as the perfection that is 'Jane Doe', but 'Full Circle' should be reconigized for how easily it tosses through such aggressive sounding music without come off as passe. It is a record that helps expand the vocabulary of aggressive music and for someone to do that in 2009 is in itself an impressive task. The fact that 'Full Circle' also is such a listenable document is what clearly puts it ahead of anything released in '09 so far and most likely what will give it the title of record of the year.
- Jared W. Dillon,

Jesus fucking christ. You know, I got home from a rainy day of riding around and delivering things I don't care about to people I don't care about, and I thought that - rain-soaked and salty - this would be a good time to listen to this record. Lighten the mood it did not - in all it's ambiance and beauty, this record really is an extremely pointed little pill to swallow. As in, it doesn't allow you to forget that it's there, working its way through you with a trail of blood behind it. In between the oppressive, downtuned frenzy, you're treated to instrumental parts that sit on the fence dividing unsettling & calming. Should I call this post-screamo? Should I call it literate mathmosh? Nah, I'll opt to call it neither, and compare them to no one. This is truly in a league of its own.
-Stephen Pierce, Give Me Back

Towers' first album was a lo-fi monsterpiece of cathartic, cleansing hardcore, affiliated to the screamo fraternity but employing much more of a driving punk spirit. They've scrubbed up a bit nicer for the follow-up, dropping some of the harshness and employing more in the way of dynamics, but don't mistake this for "maturing", because there's still plenty of weird, atonal riffs, submerged screams and slamming rhythms.
-Kunal Nandi,

The Bad
Do you have any idea how many artists have released an album titled Full Circle? Lord of the ring include Boyz II Men, Xzibit, Pennywise, Drowning Pool, Waylon Jennings, Randy Travis and Dan Fogelberg - and rumor has it that Creed's comeback album will make use of the name as well. There, take that bit of knowledge to your next cocktail party.
So what makes Towers worthy of such a well-worn and symbolic title? After recording enough singles and splits to weigh down a pack mule, the Philly noisecore band finally got around to releasing a second full-length. For what it's worth, the band must really not care about their lyrics - or not want you to care about them - because aside from being impossible to understand in song, they're impossible to read in the CD booklet, where they're typed in small orange letters on top of what looks like one of those magic eye paintings.
But after listening to Full Circle, words aren't necessary to get the gist of what's going on here. Towers are the kinds of dudes who wished Melt-Banana would play their prom. Combustible arrangements (or lack thereof) make use of heavy-duty pummeling, screams, shrieks and a few swaths of digital rave-farts. Though unremarkable, the music is laden with mental anguish and a raging boner for the apocalypse. This particular full circle is clearly being used for target practice.

-Jeanne Fury, Decibel Magazine

The Ugly
jeanne black copy by you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Touring Brazil

Jah only knows how long ago, we decided we wanted to tour Europe. We sent an email to our friend Lars asking how to go about doing so. Not so long afterwards, Lars put out our record and booked us a European tour. Plane tickets were bought, high fives were had, partying ensued. Easy.

Last year, our friend Diego of the band Rogue State presented us with the idea of touring South America. Beers were cracked and high fives were had.

We soon learned the headache of traveling to Brazil. In order for an American to visit Brazil, he or she must obtain a travel visa in addition to their passport (America forces any non citizen to do the same). It's possible to send your passport away to some middle man and have this done for you but we said fuck it. We went for the old fashioned way.

The nearest Brazilian consulate to Philadelphia is in Manhattan. Sucks. Thursday found myself on a bus retardedly early to get our passports stamped...

They don't make this shit easy. Applications for tourist visas can only be placed between 10 AM and noon on weekdays. Bring your passport, one 2 inch by 2 inch photo, your dumb filled out visa application, a US postal money order for $130 (cash, checks, or credit would just be too easy), and your flight itinerary. They can be picked up the following day between 2:30 PM and 4:00 PM. No joke. Two bus rides to beat NYC.

Visas are had. High fives are in order. Towers, Rogue State, and Dogs of Ire on tour in South America from August 6th to the 22nd. Some info can be found at the linked myspaces. Exact venues, dates, and cities to follow shortly(?).