Charmer – Ivy Review

Charmer, 2020

The newest wave of emo bands has taken the music scene by storm. Greats like Tiger’s Jaw, Pity Sex, and Tiny Moving Parts make being sad as relatable as possible through this outlet. While some efforts may come off cheesy, others, like Charmer, are able to evoke emotion with a perturbed vibe exuded through each and every song. Does their sophomore album, Ivy, hold up to this high standard?

Ivy kicks off with “Slumber”, establishing its somber vibe through the band’s upbeat instrumentation that’s given weight from its minor key. The pre-chorus, as well as other parts of the song, feature mathy progressions, reminiscent of genre staples American Football. “Dead Plants” has a memorable guitar hook throughout the verses that earns a melody in its outro.

Next is “Doom” with a quicker pace and multiple tapping sections to die for. “Wolf Fang Fist” has the most tongue-in-cheek lyrics yet, with “I don’t really wanna die, so why do I think about it all the time?” The most aggressive, higher-octaved vocals come into play in “Windbreaker” before the most intricate bridge on Ivy thus far.

The most reminiscent track yet, “December” laments a broken relationship over the most complex guitar runs on the album. “Wither” follows, and the highlight of this track is its mangled descent and leadup to the single, “VCR 666,” which received a fantastic music video displaying the fraught, detached mood of the band.

On “Track & Field,” the vocalist asks, “Did I impress you? I love everything you do.” “Sunshine Magazine” is the definitive slow song on Ivy, perfect to space out to; brass in the outro cements the traditional emo composition. The closing song is “Chandelier”, and finishes things up with a long, focused bridge.

Charmer utilizes all of the best pieces of the bands they’re inspired from to sculpt their own noteworthy sound. Ivy is as good of a follow-up as you could ask for from the young band and indicates a bright future ahead of them. Listen to Ivy when it releases Friday, April 3rd!

Future Static – Fatalist EP Review

When I go to check out upcoming releases from post-hardcore bands, I give them a try through a quick skim of their recent singles to determine how invested I am in their work. Upon finding Future Static, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen for their “Dead End” video. With such a massive, tight sound, I thought I had missed out on a well-established, big-time band, but, upon further investigation, Future Static is still in their infancy. I am excited to bring you a review of their new EP Fatalist due out April 3rd!

Fatalist begins with “Growth,” which comes off as an interlude-y track. Typically, this would occur as a segue somewhere in the middle of an album as a tonal shift, but beginning a release with it is an interesting move as there is nothing to precede it. Thankfully, it transitions into the next track perfectly.

“Choke” is the first of two singles on Fatalist. Layering two guitar riffs and letting drummer Jackson Trudel flaunt theer stuff makes the instrumentation just as compelling as vocalist Bri Marsh’s performance. Switching up the verses and incorporating a bridge makes for a breezy listen.

“Dead End,” the track that reeled me in to Future Static, is next. Hearing Bri have the range to go into lower registers as well as deliver fast-paced and aggressive attacks is refreshing and a pleasure to hear. The bridge-into-breakdown is bar none with the rest of the genre in both execution and composition. The unclean vocals in the outro are goosebump-inducing.

The fastest song yet comes with “Never Miss” at a breakneck pace. The vitriolic lyricism matches the heaviness of the instruments. Whispers before the screams bring out the emotional connection of the vocals; it is evident that these words come from experience from their composer.

A 1-minute track follows, in “Adaptive Manipulator,” sticking to unclean vocals and even utilizing blast beats. Short-but-sweet, this is reminiscent of A Day to Remember’s brief “You Already Know What You Are” off Homesick; I’m sure Future Static would make ADTR proud.

Last but not least, title track “The Fatalist” helms sentimentality with a more mellowed, evocative delivery. The crunchy bass, which gets the spotlight more than once on Fatalist, makes itself known in the second verse. Vocalist Bri’s chops are most visible in this song’s chorus, where she takes notes up-and-down with ease.

I’m quite surprised to see such masterful post-hardcore from a relatively-unknown source. Future Static has what it takes to make an impact in the scene, and are deserving of a big break with the Fatalist EP. This band comes highly-recommended, and is worth a listen come April 3rd!

Chief State – ‘Tough Love’ Album Review

Chief State, 2020

We defended Pop Punk throughout the 2010s, and, thanks to that, the genre still pumps out new acts to rev up our energy and angst. One such example is Vancouver’s Chief State, who have dropped singles and a short EP since 2016. The time has come to materialize a longer release, through their new album Tough Love set to release this Friday, March 27th!

Tough Love‘s opener is “Try Hard,” broadcasting a beefy guitar tone and punchy kick drum waves. A drum roll into the second verse kicks the pace into high gear, reminiscent of earlier Real Friends riffs. The track closes after a catchy hook as it blends into single “Deciduous.”

This song exemplifies the pop punk staple of accentuated, staccato-d notes for an in-your-face feel. The chorus hearkens: “I am deciduous, dying with the changing of seasons” to convey continuous growth throughout the years. “Reprise” starts strong and, while it doesn’t borrow from earlier songs as the title of the track may suggest, it encompasses Chief State’s decidedly-strong handle on pop-punk.

The next piece, “Something Good For Once,” has a sentimental vibe, quite like recent Story So Far. I really dig the pre- and post-chorus riff, adding something blistering within the particularly slow-metered song. “Biding Time”s chorus lyrics stick out: “You’re biding time through your early twenties, wish you’d find some time for me.” I’m on the other side of my twenties, but that sticks out as an intensely nostalgic period of time, so this is an instant-classic lyric.

A considerably-slower-to-start track, “Choke,” serves as the moment of Tough Love where the listener can hone in on the emotions Chief State has to give. The lyrical content reinforces positivity even through heartbreak. The last song is “Peace of Mind,” and seals the deal on a memorable pop punk experience, even featuring a shout at the end (something I would have liked more of on this album.)

My introduction to Chief State is very positive. Their grip on posi-pop-punk is obvious, and Tough Love is chock full of high-quality moments. The band could stand to experiment some more to create a more definitive sound from the crowd, but is more than suitable to stand with the biggest names in the genre. At a brief 22 minutes, this latest taste of pop punk comes recommended from me; check out Tough Love, out March 27th!