Artist: La Dispute

Album: Rooms of the House

Year: 2013

As a long-time fan of La Dispute, it was no surprise to me that I would enjoy this (their most recent) album. This band was essentially the reason I got so involved with the music scene in my old hometown, Grand Rapids, MI. Having listened to them through all of my teen years, I would say that I have a distinct biased towards this band. Having said that, I will do my best to write an unbiased review. It’s incredible to me that I can go to a store here in the small town of Hutchinson, Kansas and find this album sitting on the shelves. This band that I basically grew up listening to in their early days, going to their shows at Skelletones, a little underground (literally) venue in Grand Rapids (when it still existed), It was in that basement that I began to feel the incredible power music could have on communities and how it can bring so many perfect strangers together so strongly - if not for just a few moments. How music can challenge, inform and connect. Following their progress, anticipating new releases like their ambitious and unique “Here, hear” series of albums, I feel like I’ve watched this band grow up from when it was a small, mostly composed, slightly spastic child to a now Mature, well orchestrated, fully composed adult. 

Rooms of the House’s songs all reference one another - telling a story - several stories, including many true stories - most of all dealing with the history of Michigan, even using some of them (like tornadoes) as metaphors for ‘storms’ in a relationship, etc.

The sound of this album is a little bit of a stray from La Dispute’s normal sound - a bit mature of a sound that feels more composed than some of their previous works. To me, there seems to be a lot less passion in the vocals of this album, and a lot more emphasis on the actual lyrics themselves, rather than the vocals conveying them, which works really well for this album, since it is telling so many stories.

After several listens to this album, I’ve found myself most listening to the songs “Hudsonville, MI 1956” and “35” (since they’re closely related to one another) as well as “Woman” and “Stay Happy There” are among some of my favorite tracks on this album.

Putting this album up against all their previous works puts me in a weird place when trying to rate this, but all in all, I think it’s a great addition to their already great discography, and while I don’t think it’s their best, most passionate, raw, album yet, I still think it’s great in it’s own right.

Somewhere I’m up past dawn till

Somewhere you live here still

Somewhere you’re already gone”

8/10

Artist: The Soil and the Sun

Album: Meridian

Year: 2014

I was first introduced to this band by my lovely girlfriend, Rachael,about a year ago. This is the first album of theirs that I’ve listened to all the way through.

The album starts off with an ambient instrumental that feels very deliberate and transitions well into the next song, “Are You?”

It was pretty immediately evident that the band’s lyrics were very spiritual - but not in the way that one might suspect. It’s obvious that a lot of time and consideration was put into the choosing the words they did - and those words evoke questions within ourselves, regarding our own faith. With lyrics like; “Were you in the fire? Did you pass me by? Will I always wonder why?” – Which might leave us wondering where God is - and what sort of impact God is having on our lives?

I noticed a theme of the album – which was spiritual “immortality”

The pace of the album increases with songs like “Push Push” and “Samyaza” which shows off their ability to blend hard-hitting percussion with dreamy strings and vocals, effectively evoking emotion.

The album crescendos with Samyaza and transitions into the slower paced “world we used to know and “Human/Machine” which contain unique vocals and powerful lyrics

“Oiketerion” and “The Physics of Immortality” (continuing the theme of “immortality” in the album) bring the album to a lull of a conclusion with passionate lyrics – dealing further with the spirituality of ‘death’.

“Then out in the void 

I came to realize 

This death was a lie 

A deception of mind 

So I cast it aside 

Forever alive”

7/10