August 8, 2013

Today's Hotness: Edelweiss, Chestnut Road, The Weaks

Edelweiss -- Honduras (detail)

>> Honestly, we were worried about these guys. We turned on to Edelweiss in 2011 and wrote about them here; the band caught our attention not only because the five-piece was making well-articulated, modern post-punk, but also because they were slugging it out in a Northeastern Pennsylvania town we'd been through now and again back in the day. They were also startlingly young (with an average age, at the time, of 16). Sure, Edelweiss' sound was markedly influenced by first-iteration Bloc Party, but it was, well, well-articulated. But just as Bloc Party did after Silent Alarm, Edelweiss after its 2011 EP Pre-Columbians seemed poised to focus on more dance-oriented music (we made this judgment based on some YouTube videos or something; memory fails...). And this concerned us, because, well, we like guitar-pop. So it is with much relief that we can report that Edelweiss is back with a new -- and still guitar-oriented -- EP that is even more compelling than Pre-Columbians. The new collection is titled Honduras, and it features four fresh-feeling dance-punk jams that speak to the quintet's increased focus, experimentalism and confidence as a songwriting unit. The obvious centerpiece of the set is "Withering Heights," a version of which was previously released on a Japan-only self-titled LP Edelweiss released via the Bullion label in 2012. The song alternates loping and lightning-fast guitar licks laid over airy synths and a consistent, gauzy barrage of hi-hat and crash cymbal. It is perhaps the most conventional track on the EP, and the EP's most exciting tune isn't even listed. Indeed, Honduras includes a hidden track attached to the tail of closer "Midas;" the acoustic ballad suggests Edelweiss is open to even broader influences (such as classic English folk) that point to more exciting possibilities. We're loathe to emphasize again the relative youth of the guys in Edelweiss, because it should not matter (as we said two years ago), but the band clearly has both a lot of potential and a lot of time to do something with it. We'll be listening. Stream all of Honduras via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> When we last left Toulouse, France-based Chestnut Road, the punk-pop notables had populated the flip of a recent split with Varsity Drag with some cracking numbers including a cover of Lemonheads' "Falling." We wrote about that split here in January, and we saw some Facebook photos recently suggesting that a supply of the record has finally made its way to the States. In the meantime, Chestnut Road has kept busy putting together yet another split single due out Aug. 26, this one with Birmingham, England-based post-hardcore outfit New Alaska. One of Chestnut Road's contributions to that new split, a pummelling rocker called "Trust," pleasantly echoes the energy and emotion and big friggin' guitars of '90s feel-bad geniuses Jawbreaker and Garden Variety (particularly this one). In addition to "Trust," Chestnut Road's side includes the number "Shell;" New Alaska's side contains the cuts "Caustic," "White Walls" and "Black Bones." The split is being sold in a limited edition of 300 vinyl 7" discs. The songs are being pressed into translucent red media, and these will be available in one of four different-colored sleeves (black, blue, green, red). Brassneck Records will issue the disc exclusively in a green sleeve, while Speedowax Records will use a blue sleeve. It's anybody's guess what a red or black sleeve means or who might be selling them (could it be...), but just go ahead and pre-order the thing from Brassneck right here, why don't you? Then stream "Trust" -- which is not a 7 Seconds or The Cure cover, we should point out -- via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> While you were sitting around watching "Sharknado" off your DVR again, Evan Bernard and his shape-shifting The Weaks project turned out more melodic indie gold in the form of the 85-second gem "Hey Karma." For this digital single the Philadelphia-based concern finds Mr. Bernard abetted by Chris Baglivo (guitar, vocals), Nick Fanelli (drums), Tim Jordan (bass) and Cat Park (vocals). The number perpetuates a power-pop bounce beneath neatly harmonized vocals, and leaves just enough room after a bridge and in the final 10 seconds for a second concise (but rocking) guitar solo that takes the song right into a proverbial brick wall. As admirable as the song is for its brevity, it is what IS here that makes the song so easy to listen to over and over (in that way, as well as with the flowing melodies and upbeat vibe, the tune reminds us a lot of Philly's Radiator Hospital). Indeed, The Weaks get an impressive amount of stuff done in the short space of time, and we're eager for the next installment the long-running project will offer (whatever it is). Most recently, The Weaks appeared on Clicky Clicky's Lilys tribute compilation And I Forgot A Long Time Ago How You Feel, which you can stream and download and whatever right here. Stream or download "Hey Karma" via the Bandcamp embed below.

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