Glittery emo quintet Simmer have returned with their debut album entitled Paper Prisms. Simmer previously impressed us with their 2015 EP Yellow Streak; a beautiful and delicate yet sharp and biting rock record that showcased an extremely accomplished sound for such a young band. Personal anticipation was high for this record, so do Simmer deliver the goods when they move onto their first long-player?
Sort of. This is clearly the same band that wowed us last year, but there’s something about Paper Prisms that feels like a band trying to spread their ideas too thin. The setup is identical to Yellow Streak; we get beautiful, sweeping guitar melodies complimented with sombre, lilting vocals and it’s all accompanied with a punchy performance on the drums. The one/two opener of Faze and Control is a perfect beginning to the record and it showcases all these elements beautifully.
However, what becomes apparent very early on is just how much time is spent on overindulgent moments of guitar feedback. Every song seems to start with a big wailing burst of feedback and in the case of some songs like Antwerp, they even linger to a limp conclusion using even more feedback. Simmer are clearly trying to create atmosphere on Paper Prisms and the guitar feedback is never abrasive or obnoxious in anyway, it just feels like it takes away from the immediacy of the song-writing. Songs like Calendar don’t kick in until half the track’s run time has gone by and it’s a bit annoying that so much time is spent holding a guitar to an amp.
It’s also a shame that the vocals often get lost in the mix. The vocals on Paper Prisms are often treated more like an instrument and they’ve been hidden away in the composition to the point that you can’t really make out what’s being said. It’s not the biggest problem because thankfully the gorgeous melodies are still audible; it just would have been nicer to have heard the vocals front and centre.
Simmer’s Paper Prisms is by no means a bad record by any stretch of the imagination. This is still a wonderfully light and dreamy emo record and as a debut album it certainly sets the band up with a great foundation to build on. Sadly it’s let down by a lot unnecessarily drawn-out moments of guitar feedback that have a tendency to kill the pacing. It Simmer can tighten up their song-writing and think of ways to meld the extra texture into the songs themselves, then their next release should be something really special.
Simmer’s Paper Prisms is out now and available to buy from Dog Knights Productions.
Grieving are a very new band with a single EP under their belt. Their twangy, angular emo is reminiscent of bands like American Football and Joyce Manor. After a nervous start they quickly prove that they’re a very accomplished and tight act, and their drummer was supposedly pretty ill throughout so huge respect to that guy for absolutely nailing it. On the whole, the band looks like they’re having a blast and seem very humbled to be playing to this audience. Grieving are definitely a band you’re going to want to keep on your radar because if this performance is any indication, they will be going onto bigger and better things very quickly.
If you aren’t aware, So-Crates are a new band featuring members of Hold Your Horse Is and Reuben and that’s a bloody exciting combination on its own. The band deal in an unpredictably, mathy post-punk which is nothing short of exciting when performed live. Their music twists and turns on a dime with aggressive drum-work, angular guitar melodies, chunky bass grooves and some surprisingly dreamy guitar leads. While it’s still early days for So-Crates, you can see that past experiences have allowed these guys to burst out the gates with some truly accomplished music and make it all look easy.
Grunge-punk duo Cassels are something really special. Sounding like a mix of God Damn and Eugene Quell, the two lads on stage make the sort of music that song-writers twice their age would be proud of. The word is clearly out on Cassels because they fill The Old Blue Last, and on a Monday night no less. The duo has a massive sound considering their limitations and they put on a friendly and engaging performance that sees everyone in the room hanging onto every note. Cassels love that quiet/loud dynamic and it was strangely weird to hear a crowd at The Old Blue Last be so quiet when the music became more introspective. Cassels are genuinely fascinating to watch and are definitely a band you’ll want to see as soon as possible because they won’t be playing venues this small for very long.
Simmer make a wonderful, clattery, emo racket in the vein of early Smashing Pumpkins and Feeder. Their 2nd EP Yellow Streak has a youthful bolt of energy running through it and it’s loaded with glittery melodies that are filtered through some lovely, crunchy distortion.
For an EP this wild and noisy, Simmer have a rather unnerving knack for making their music very approachable. This is helped with the dream-like, drawl of the vocal melodies which are easy on the ears. Some might say they’re a bit pedestrian and inoffensive but I feel like their understated nature allows the listener to focus more heavily on the instrumentation.
Simmer’s instrumentation and song-writing is the real highlight of Yellow Streak. The riffs have some additional reverberation which creates these fantastic images of massive, open plains and beautiful landscapes. There’s a summery and somewhat reflective vibe to the band’s music and it brings forth some wonderfully nostalgic feelings. It’s not often that a band’s music affects me in such a way but listening to Yellow Streak (especially the opening 3 tracks of Douse, Head Trip and Laying Odds) put me in such a positive mind-set.
When the EP comes to a close with its title track, the band’s music changes stylistically for the first time on the record; there’s a very sombre atmosphere on show. Simmer have structured this EP in such a masterful way that when it reaches its final moments it actually feels like the band are saying goodbye.
Simmer’s Yellow Streak is a rare gem of a record. The EP is full of soaring melodies and satisfying riffs that are punctuated with a beautifully reflective vocal performance. Even though this is only the band’s second EP, it feels like they’ve already mastered their craft and Yellow Streak might be a defining moment in their career.
Simmer’s Yellow Streak is out now through Dog Knights Productions. You can buy it on either translucent green or yellow 7″ by clicking here.
Oh Captive make the sort of chart-bothering, pop punk/emo combo that has been so popular with bands like Youmeatsix, Young Guns and Kids in Glass Houses and that’s fine if you like that sort of thing but the band are doing so little to prove their worth in this scene that their Two Mirrors EP could have been made by anyone.
The most irritating thing about this EP is that Oh Captive have managed to write a series of songs that don’t spark any emotion. The vocals are delivered in that tepid mid-range that so many young bands favour and it’s completely lacking in dynamics. The guitars feel like they’ve been belt-sanded smooth and they are completely devoid of any bite. Because of this I couldn’t pin-point a single riff I liked because they all drifted by like a ghost farting.
What really annoys me is that there’s clearly a competent band playing this music. The songs are well written, the choruses aren’t offensive to listen to and occasionally it sounds like they actually care about their music. The opening riff of the EP’s title track is a real stomper and I can envisage a crowd of kids losing their minds when it kicks off.
Unfortunately it isn’t too long until you’re reminded what’s wrong with this band; it’s all too safe. The vocals are capable at best but they won’t spark any meaningful connection between the listener and the band. The same goes for the music. This is heavy guitar music with none of the heavy and it’s bewildering to me that I didn’t have the urge to nod my head along to a single track. That’s a serious failing for any band making rock music.
How do you get excited about a band that are painfully mediocre? There is simply nothing original about Oh Captive and Two Mirrors drifts by without a single memorable moment. There’s nothing wrong with the music and it’s quite competently put together but there isn’t a riff or melody that hasn’t been ripped from another band. Two Mirrors is an EP so bland that getting angry about it would be a waste of time.
Oh Captive’s Two Mirrors is out now through all major digital outlets.