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cd review: as tall as lions: you can’t take it with you
21 September, 2009, 12:27 PM
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Reviewed on Thursday, August 27, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on
Triple Crown Recordings
4 Stars

Making a record isn’t supposed to be easy, but listening to As Tall As Lions’ You Can’t Take it With You, with its dreamy sound, you might be surprised to find out that the album nearly ruined the New York-based quartet. This third album was two years in the pipeline as the follow-up to their self-titled 2006 album. From all the drama and dire days of changing producers midstream, the friends since high school travailed at the brink of combustion to bring out the heart and heat of this project.

Dan Nigro, singer/pianist/guitarist, croons, You had me going for a minute there… I’ll fight your demons when they start to show on spritely “Circles.” Title track “You Can’t Take it With You” evokes a sense of time-slowing down on an album premised on the individual’s detachment from other human contact. Actually, there’s not a lot of extraneous effects on the album, as if their instruments were more than enough. “Sleepyhead” is a whisper song, which holds the lyrics, Nigro’s voice, and the tender instrumentation in an effervescent balance interrupted only by the sound of the heart monitor [spoiler alert].

“There was a black cloud over this album the entire time,” says guitarist Saen Fitzgerald. But with its lush layers and shoegaze indie sound, You Can’t Take it With You forecasts clear skies for the guys.


cd review: bad veins: s/t
21 September, 2009, 12:18 PM
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Reviewed on Monday, August 31, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on
4 Stars

It’s not hard to fall for Benjamin Davis and Sebastien Schultz of Bad Veins. The Cincinnati duo went from making music in an attic to performing incredible live sets, which garnered an ever growing word-of-mouth following. Dangerbird picked them up, and the band assembled a self-titled debut record so exemplary that the label produced it without any alterations. No small feat.

What began as an earnest solo project morphed into a duo when Schultz came onboard as drummer extraordinaire. Davis commands a penchant for personal narratives and his gorgeous, emotive singing style is rapturous.

Early in the morning when my mind’s so faraway, I begin to ask questions,” Davis begins “The Lie.” It’s melancholic and vulnerable, like most of their tracks, but it’s the delivery that saves the work from landing in wasteland that is garage-band punk or… emo. “This Ending” picks up steam with one of the band’s strongest sing-a-long choruses. For a farewell, “Go Home” conjures synths, drums, piano, fuzzy guitars and elegant harmonizing until their 1973 Pioneer reel-to-reel tape player runs out of tape, literally.

Whether it be the deliciously eerie pump organ on “Afraid” or their unexpected use of horns and strings, Bad Veins beguiles listeners into believing that a large collective of musicians achieves their sound. Nah, it’s two just dudes putting Cincinnati back on the map.

cd review: anthem in: the cloudbusting ep
21 September, 2009, 12:14 PM
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Reviewed on Thursday, July 23, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on
3.5 Stars

Anthem In stands poised to break out as one of Brooklyn’s hottest indie rock acts. In a relatively short time since its 2006 formation, Anthem In returns with the irresistibly catchy The Cloudbusting EP. Allen Orr’s lyrics manage to be gentle yet steer clear of sentimentality, and the band’s instrumentation doesn’t overpower. This delicate balance joins spellbinding pop music with dance-friendly hooks, somewhat similarly to Death Cab for Cutie and Rogue Wave. Though Orr doesn’t sound jaded by love or the record industry, his lyrics have an elusive quality and the album begs and pleads for “something pretty” on “Leanings.” And Cloudbusting delivers just that. Lush sounds morph into feedback and a steady bass line on “The Boy is on My Side and hand claps serve as a backdrop on the sanguine “Universal.”

Cloudbusting is a glowing example of a band hitting its stride and sounds like a band completely confident with the material and the manner in which they play. The effect draws listeners in for repeated plays.

College radio fueled their self-titled debut album’s rise up the CMJ charts and into the hearts of indie rock lovers. Their formation seems serendipitous, and together they soaringly cover Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting in what is a precursor of more enchantments on the horizon.