Smile Politely

B-Sides: January 2015

Acker — Sea Songs

Acker’s full-length album Sea Songs is more than simply an expansion on their EP1. You can hear the band’s conscious, steady development from a fledgling post rock-leaning band into a powerful noise force. It takes some serious balls (metaphorical balls, of course. I’m a feminist here.) to do this without a singer, however the vocal tone of the cello enables Acker to make emo music without the words. Not only is the music wrought with emotion, but it’s also just plain epic. Having seen their incredibly dynamic live performance and heard the songs before they were recorded onto this LP (valiantly Kickstarter funded and getting the vinyl treatment on Heirship Records, I might add), it’s impossible not to visualize cellist Dan Walton fanatically hacking away or guitarist Michael Kramer jumping up and down or “bass” guitarist Constantin Roman just shredding, not to mention Jeremy Marsan’s anchoring drums, the meat of every song. Four equal parts; one explosive whole. —Maddie Rehayem

Cody & The Gateway Drugs — Songs for the New Depression

Songs for the New Depression carries the protest song torch into the 21st Century with a nine-song LP that explores the many ways the global economic crisis has upset people’s everyday lives. “Gonna Get Myself a Big One” details the materialism and consumerism driving the American dream, while “Kingdom Come” is an apocalyptic take on the current state of events and “Pretty Damn Fine” presents a resilient attitude in the face of economic and personal loss.

Cody & the Gateway Drugs cover a range of subjects but all under the blanket theme of the “new depression,” a term economists may hesitate to use, but one that certainly applies to the events in the first part of the century. The lyrics exude a folk feel reminiscent of Woody Guthrie’s and Bob Dylan’s eras, but they’re countered by a slightly more up-tempo, pop feel. Golden-stringed guitar and a strong drum beat structure most songs, with elements like banjo, bongo, and harmonica rounding out that main sound. Jenny Carpenter’s soft harmonies balance Cody Sokolski’s gritty lead vocals, magnifying the humanity at the core of the entire project. — Amanda Wicks


Klevah — GOLDEN

Klevah is a fighter—a fighter of convention. Packed with twists, turns, and unpredictable shifts, Klevah’s latest release rings true to the rapper’s unapologetic and innovative identity as an artist. GOLDEN steers far away from cliché hooks and musical tropes; the record defines itself through other ear-catching features, the most notable being Klevah’s diverse lyrical content. As her producer Eric Surreal says on “Bastards”, Klevah “brought the fire—you gotta listen to the lyricism on the track. The girl is rapping in circles around you…if you’re not listening, you will get lost because it’s like a maze.” And it’s true, Klevah’s flow is unlike any other, dancing around you and leaving you hungry for another listen.

Other notable pieces of an impressive puzzle include the collaborative efforts of other local artists. Local singer Cii La’Cole (Phalonna Stewart) makes track 11, “The Otha Side”, an irresistible piece of music. Eric Surreal’s production of this track, from the throwback vocal effects to the atmospheric, dream-like beat, are a perfect mix of old and new hip-hop. You will not want to miss this record with all of its many layers. GOLDEN is one of the most innovative new additions to the local hip-hop scene. —Emily Otnes


Street Justice — Split with Old Sport

Street Justice may have since moved away from our twin cities, but listening to their side of the split with Old Sport…these riffs and skramz reek of Urbana. The songs have some of what we do best: deep, dark tones, intricate riffs, yearning melodies, crushing heaviness…at times there are serene washes of distortion that allow you to lose yourself—while other moments are truly confrontational. From the hilariously-titled “Less Emotion, More Emoticons,” Vocalist/guitarist Johnny Lusardi yawps, “I am no longer here.” It is a poignant sentiment that is both true and untrue. The phrase is then qualified—”I’m just a shadow of nothing.” Not substantial, but present. Perhaps we took Street Justice for granted while they were here? With this shit that rips so hard, it seems like they could be ambassadors of the gnarlier parts of our heritage. FFO: Thursday, American Football, Deftones, Hank., basement shows, banging your head, etc. —Isaac Arms


B-Sides is a monthly article designated for local albums released that might get overlooked for feature articles, but are definitely worth discussing. If you’re interested in your band’s record being featured on B-Sides, let us know at Note: Because some albums featured in B-Sides are released at the end of the previous month, we sometimes bump them to the next month.

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