Smile Politely

B-Sides: February 2014

Enta / Anodes — Split

This split album between Enta and Anodes showcases two of the foremost bands in the Midwestern post-hardcore scene while highlighting their distinctly different sounds. The album begins with two songs by Enta, “’78” and “Words Full Of Mouth.” Both songs build, decay and occasionally explode, but Enta manages to keep the energy moving despite the many and sudden shifts in tone. “Words Full Of Mouth,” is tense throughout, but it has enough melodic atmosphere to keep things evolving and interesting. The band’s sound is punctuated by the interplay between dual vocalists Nick Brannock and Daniel Lee, who trade off shouts and screams that vary from shaky emotionalism to more assured aggressiveness. 

Where Enta is subdued, Anodes assaults. The vocals are abrasive, the riffs relentless, and the melodic atmosphere found in Enta’s tracks is traded for a more singular, grimy sound. While the St. Louis-based group excels at this type of heaviness, some of its best work occurs when it pushes itself to lighter moments. The verse of “the same traps,” for instance, uses the shouted poeticism of bands like mewithoutYou or La Dispute that allows vocalists AJ Hofstetter and Sean Survant to display their more vulnerable side. Midway through “fall and rise,” the band dips into a groove that suggests they’re capable of more melodic exploration. Still, the group succeeds at crafting a unique style of heavy music. 

As a cohesive work, the split is a great example of the ambitious nature of bands in the local/nearby DIY scenes. — Will Hagle

Jay Moses — The Generous 

The sing-song cadence that opens Jay Moses’ project The Generous merely hints at the unique ways in which the artist approaches his beats. His declaration that he “can’t help but think that I might actually be better than like 98% of these rappers” is drawn out over a lengthy ten second span before the following lines suddenly switch to a more rapid pace. Jay Moses’ flow varies itself several times more throughout the two minute introduction, demonstrating the artist’s evolution from his early days as well as his willingness to expand into new territories. 

Though The Generous was recorded quickly and released in 2012 in limited supply, it recently resurfaced on the rapper’s bandcamp page as a free download. The project includes several features from members of TheGr8Thinkaz, the collective of which Jay Moses is unquestionably the premier MC. Although Jay Moses maintains top billing, group members like SKY hold their own alongside more established local MCs like Twick G. Female MC Klevah also wins the award for best entrance on the track “Growth [Plain & Simple],” in which she cuts in abruptly to both steal and close out the show. As she says herself, “thank god for first impressions.” 

The beats throughout The Generous come from talented, Gr8Thinkaz-affiliated producers Rokmore, Sky Shaw and Eric Surreal. All utilize a glitchy, airy style that’s both consistent with the times and an enhancement to Jay Moses’ style. 

Lyrically, Jay Moses shows room for improvement. Still, any rapper that makes a reference to Harry Potter character Seamus Finnigan while also finding the time to say “bitch I’m swaggin” deserves respect. Also, any rapper from the C-U that doesn’t make a Champaign-champagne pun doesn’t deserve access to a mic. Jay Moses not only delivers, but he rounds out the hometown love with the line “out in Champaign to find Net worth, that’s D Will.”

While Jay Moses and the rest of TheGr8Thinkaz are at work on a full-length, this string of five tracks is more than enough to keep fans occupied. — Will Hagle

Øde Vinter — End ov the Solar Era

Champaign’s black metal two-piece Ode Vinter released End ov the Solar Era back in December; it’s their first full-length. They’ve definitely got the chops to make End an entertaining listen: the songs chug along on guitarist Torvus Mortuus’ super-fuzzed out sludgy riffs with plenty of tempo-switching and breakdowns to keep things interesting. The album really shines in the places where drummer Sortis Abortis unleashes his fury and propels the songs into the darkly sublime. They stay firmly in the sludgy end of things and don’t get too speedy, and aren’t concerned about showing off their virtuosity so much as they are creating an apocalyptic landscape of dark carnage, which they evoke quite well. They did throw in a song about raping and killing a hooker, which is not cool in my book, but other than that, End ov the Solar Era is a solid piece of brutality to put in your ears. — David Kierski

II is the latest release from Chambana sludge slingers Orator, a three-cut EP that follows up their October release, I. Much like the first, II brings the heavy – pounding drums, grinding metal guitar, vocals laid down after gargling just a bit of gravel. The riffs are simple and hard but retain a hint of the melodic, and the production is fairly clean without taking anything away from the acidic, sandpaper-scathed tone. The dark moodiness and relentless grind of the songs is tempered at points through a couple of short interruptions, but even so, each song plods towards its conclusion without hesitation. The three tracks are only a small dose, but enough to get a sense of the band’s style and give sludge metal fans plenty of reason to catch these guys live. — Jason Brown

Rebecca Rego & The Trainmen — Tolono

When I conjure up an idea of what modern Americana is in my mind, what I hear is something very close to what Rebecca Rego and the Trainmen have created with Tolono. Rego paints pictures of life in the Midwest, specifically our Midwest: descriptions of driving back-and-forth on I-57, the fields that pass by, closing down a small bar. The delivery of that imagery is noteworthy as well, as Rego’s voice gives hints of familiar songstresses (Gillian Welch, Neko Case) while always retaining its own gently nasal uniqueness.

Musically, the album is sparse, in the best sense, but not lacking in impressive instrumentation. From the omnipresent acoustic guitar to the mandolin, slide guitar, harmonica, violin: it has all the hallmarks of what Americana should be. Though Tolono is an idealistic kind of modern Americana, it avoids being generic or cliche. It’s the kind of album that rewards multiple listenings, and though I’ve already spent some time with it, I look forward to hearing more of it in the future. — Chris Davies

And here I thought the name Woodie was referencing the wood-panel station wagons. The vast amount of penises on their album art suggests otherwise. At any rate, as a debut, Terminally Chill is an impressive introductory statement. There’s exploration, but also enough here to establish a sound. It’s really exciting to hear this direction these boys took: Three quarters of Panel Van — yesteryear’s most promising mathpunk kiddos — have now started making sludgy post-punk with Hank.’s Teddy Lerch on drums. There’s no lack of melody and angst in this collection of songs. There’s some melancholy, some nausea. They sometimes call to mind Connecticut doomgazers Have A Nice Life, which is no small compliment. I am very excited to see what comes of this band, and I look forward to a full-length someday. — 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 [email protected]. 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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