Album: Oliver Under the Moon
Style: Indie Emo
Similar Bands: Brand New, At the Drive In, Modest Mouse, Jeremy Enigk, Cursive
One Word Review: Pianoy-Dreamo
Based Out Of: San Diego CA
Label: East West, Montalban Hotel
Oliver Under the Moon - Cover, Liner Notes
Oliver Under the Moon - Back, Liner Notes
Oliver Under the Moon - CD & CD TrayOliver Under the Moon (2006)
- Cupid 3:06
- Voicebox 2:54
- Beni Accident 3:21
- Age 4:37
- Fadawhite 3:30
- Papercut 3:50
- China Dolls 1:53
- Killjoy 3:30
- Oliver, Under the Moon 2:58
- Metronome 3:09
- The Pity Refrain 4:05
- Panic 7:26
Members & Other Bands:
Justin Shannon - Guitar, Vox
Alex Fulhouse Kuhse - Bass (Manowar, Midnight Eagle)
Conor Meads - Piano Vox (Chandeliers, Fear of Sleep)
Cory Stier - Drums (Ale Mania, Cults, Drug Wars, Hideout, Mrs Magician, Weatherbox, Boomsnake)
Ben Moore - Recording, Production, Mixing
Lev Mehl - Assistant Engineer
Gavin Lurssen - Mastering
Eric Bernstoff - Guitar & Amp Tech
Andy Harris - Manager of Talents
Andrew Ellis - Agent
Floyd Starkweather - A&R
Steve Sessa - Lawyer
Jake Wallace - Electronic Paper Boy
Robert Delaney - Tour Manager
Mel Kadel - Artwork
Unknown-ness: Never heard of this band. From their paper and pencl sketch design, i'd imagine this to be creative yet sparse smarty-pants indie, folksy rock. The pink clouds and horse playing the piano have a old-fashion hipster quality about them, so I assume the music will match. Thinking Neutral Milk Hotel or Decemberists, or some crap like that.
Album Review: Off the bat, let me put it out there that this style of emo: scream-o combined with sensitive vocals; is not my go to genre. It does not paint a musically interesting picture in my mind.
“Cupid” twinkles in with a Keane piano. Then heavy guitars come in from the ground and start the juxtaposition of angry and whiney emo and dreamy piano. The vocals start of plain enough, drawing out the accents a little like Billy Corgan. But in the bridge, the second scream-o vocalist adds his part to the mix. The chord progression is fun, but the dark-gothicness of the production masks the catchy parts without recognition.
“Voicebox” starts out quiet enough with the piano, and a surge of guitars and drums introduces itself only to revisit in the chorus. The whole experience is manufactured for a recreated conservatory inside a grand arena. I could see some inspiration taken from Faith No More, musically, with the guitars and energy pushed up against Roddy’s sympathetic keyboards. But the vocals are pop punk and emo combined, which kind of saps all the credibility from the band.
“Beni Accident” begins with a solid drum beat, but is washed clean of interest with the playground melody and dual growl-vocals paired together. The instrumental section has buzzing guitars under the heavy guitars, drums and piano sound pretty good when all mixed together, but the segment ends into a sappy vocal section.
“Age” features a siren-like usage of arena rock guitars, that create urgency in the tempo, but it goes on for too long without the slightest change. Once it does, the vocals soften it up with their delicate delivery. They do build in intensity into a scream-o chorus. But the emo segments are like release valves rather than full-on genre descriptions.
“Fadawhite” begins like a piano ballad. Sad, depressed and reflective, the song has a side to side tide of melody, and it builds in anger and borders on screams for the chorus, while the music generally sits idly by. This style and genre was not made for me. The song has a grand climactic ending that simply fades away.
“Papercut” is a slow moving, sad song with polite upbeat piano trying to break free from the wreckage. The song then transitions to a juvenile, bad Weezer-like snotty pop song in the bridge/chorus. The line “monsters, monsters” is a little embarrassing.
“China Dolls” brings in a waltzing melody of piano and rhythm guitar. The song holds on to the intro status for a long time, making the listener wonder if it will ever evolve past. And only at the very end, with crashing guitars, does it seem to evolve, but instead, it just ends.
“Killjoy” has a nice steady beat to it, and it’s even a bit angular and changing. But then the snotty light vocals begin, and the song loses its credibility and energy. But the chorus is quite powerful, and it is a good use of the angry emo vocals coupled with the guitars and forceful energy. The many sections to this song and interesting diversity of the musicianship give this a stand-out edge on the album.
“Oliver, Under the Moon” features a lot of aggressive, building energy froght from the get go with minor chords and a driving drum beat. The piano sounds out of tune, or like they are playing wrong notes, but as it repeats, it is clear the tactic is on purpose. This song is angry for no reason, and reminds me a little of Cursive, but not in a good way, unfortunately. The chorus is over-the-top for no worthy reason. The song does not even really build up to the chorus. The last 30 second, though, it finds a veru nice melodic change of pace to the melody, and ends in high, catchy, driving form.
“Metronome” brings a twinkling piano in again, played in a repetitive classical loop. The song is very show-tuney in its changing sections, and vocal to music pairing. Again, emo shouts are added in to break up the monotony, but still come off as mostly unnecessary. The racetrack drum beat propels the song forward along with the classical alarm-like piano. The dual vocals take turns shouting in different matching melodies, and come together to shout the title a few times.
“The Pity Refrain” again uses the waltz tempo, but this time with a crashing piano production. There is a nervous tension built by the guitars and toe tapping drum beat. Both vocalists take turns yelling their sections one after another, and the carnival-ish melody is brought back for a couple of measures, but quickly forgotten. Perhaps this is fun to see live, as I could imagine there is a lot of surburban aggression to get out at those basement house shows, and these guys seem to be an adequate spigot to let loose. The end of the song is a reprise of the elements that went into making up the first 3 minutes.
“Panic” ends the album is an epic seven and a half minute multi-part song. It begins with an introspective, fey and tedious sounding emo song with calm vocals. The bridge finds the bombastic guitars drums and pianos, and vocals scream to match. After some call and response yelling, the song levels out and maintains the aggressive dual vocals taking turns. The song resets 2.5 minutes in, and we’re back at the start. The boys in this band must really enjoy cursive, because with the dual vocals, I can hear elements of Kasher’s vocals in both of them as they try to recreate it. A piano solo absorbs the spotlight around the 4:30 mark, and it is used as a bold energy battery: creating and storing energy ready to be released as the song builds up again. The drums grow faster, louder, and tighter, and at 6:20, the Kasher-like vocals release the building pressure. The song rides out the melody in a slowing down wave, which gently fades out to end.
Stand Out Track: Killjoy
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