Review Rundown: Kill Hannah, Calvin Harris, Blessthefall, the Summer Set, Banco de Gaia

This Review Rundown will features looks at the latest releases from Kill Hannah, Calvin Harris, Blessthefall, the Summer Set and Banco De Gaia as well as briefs takes on new releases from Death on Two Wheels and Kristeenyoung.

Kill Hannah – Wake Up the Sleepers (Original Signal Records): Even if Wake Up the Sleepers isn’t as strong as the bands previous works, it is a step deeper down the rabbit hole as they continue to embrace this whole nu-romanticism thing they have going for them. There aren’t many in the industry that can do the things that frontman Mat Devine can do. His vocal emotionality and ability to be heartbreaking in one breath and effervescent in the next is almost unparalleled in today’s scene. Wake Up the Sleepers will soothe even the most spurned, and will awaken the most daring dance floors. So yeah, it definitely works on a number of levels. Wake Up the Sleepers is a record that is altogether endearing and heartfelt (“Living in Misery,” “Promise Me”), full of track that can subtly pulsate (“Why I Have My Grandmas Sad Eyes”) and bounce with a full menu of glitz and glam (“New York City Speed,” “Strobe Lights,” “Tokyo (Dance in the Dust)”). The guitars on “Strobe Lights” are the best the band has ever committed to wax, just another example that this band is ready to ascend to the next level. (
Grade: A
Go Download: “Why I Have My Grandmas Sad Eyes”

Who Gives a Tweet? (Your review in 140 characters or less) – Kristeenyoung – Music for Strippers, Hookers and the Odd On-Looker: Awful title. Sounds a bit like a chaotic modern Sioux and the Banshees. Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump guests on “That’s What It Takes Dear.” (
Grade: C
Go Download: “That’s What It Takes, Dear”

Calvin Harris – Ready for the Weekend (Fly Eye/Columbia/Sony): Calvin Harris is one of the most progressive DJ’s in the world today, one not afraid to try new things and new sounds – a trait he flaunts on his latest record, Ready for the Weekend. He seems to always have one ear to the ground, always thinking in the forward direction. Calvin Harris is a trend setter, plain and simple. He leaves virtually no stone unturned in his quest for sonic diversity, or maybe sonic individuality serves as a more apt description. Normally you don’t know what you are going to get with a Calvin Harris record, which is an underlying facet of his charm, but with Ready for the Weekend, you do – what you are getting is a great dance record that is a snowflake – there isn’t another like it. Harris explores sounds from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, combining elements of disco, funk, pop, electronica and drum/bass, just to name a few. (
Grade: B
Go Download: “Ready for the Weekend”

Who Gives a Tweet? (Your review in 140 characters or less) – Death on Two Wheels – Separation of Church and Fate (The Ghost Umbrella): Classic rocks not dead. Go ask Death on Two Wheels. Their debut, Separation of Church and Fate is full of classic grooves & worthy vocals. (
Grade: C
Go Download: “Sweet Love”

Blessthefall – Witness (Fearless Records): Blessthefall have always been a band that has had the potential to be huge. Dating back to the days when vocalist journeyman Tyler ‘Telle’ Smith fronted, these guys have sounded like budding stars. Well, with their latest, Witness, these boys have fully lived up to, if not far surpassed, their potential. Never before has Blessthefall sounded so massive or so layered. Witness is easily the most impressive bunch of melodic metalcore the band has put their name behind. It impresses immediately upon the initial thunderclaps of the opening track “2.0,” and continues to hammer home the fact that these guys have only gotten better with track after track of blazing guitar windmills and dexterous vocals, delivering along the way as they balance stunning punishment like title track “Witness” that surprisingly calls to mind As I Lay Dying with outings that air on the melodic side of things (“Hey Baby, Here’s That Song You Wanted”). With how good His Last Walk was, and with Witness only stronger yet, it’s hard to fathom just how good this bands next record will be. (
Grade: A
Go Download: “2.0”  

The Summer Set – Love Like This (Razor & Tie): This record is surprisingly not shallow, all be it’s not the most profound record you’ll ever hear, but it isn’t immediately dismissible and instantly vapid like most of this bands ilk and their scene brethren. The Summer Set has dropped some of the year’s best powerpop with this disc, and it would be a damn shame if it went overlooked. Love Like This is a record that is almost impossible to ignore, thanks to a combination of some of the better pure hooks in the game today and the records ability to be brazenly boastful. You don’t have to invest much into this record – you can just pop it in and go, which is just part of its appeal. Sure, the scene theatrics are there (synth, electronics, etc.) but since they aren’t used in abundance, they actually succeed in adding to the overall product. This record can balance reflective and powerful tracks like “Can You Find Me?” and “Where Are You Now” (featuring Meg & Dia’s Dia Frampton) with sunny, jocular scene entries like tracks “Girls Freak Me Out” and “This is How We Live,” with seamless transitions, just another trait proving the strength of this disc. (
Grade: A
Go Download: “Can You Find Me?”

Banco de Gaia – Memories Dreams Reflections: The trippy and synth laden 23-minute cover of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” should tell you all you need to know about Banco De Gaia’s massively extroverted two disc affair, Memories Dreams Reflections. Incredibly thorough covers of Hawkwind’s “Spirit of the Age” and King Crimson’s “Starless” flank De Gaia’s take on the Floyd classic, but the madness doesn’t end there. Disc two picks up where one left off, trotting out one mind altering session after another, tracks full of ambient noises and atmospheric touches with grooves all their own. There is no song that doesn’t break the five minute barrier as most average around seven. De Gaia definitely has succeeded in creating an alternate universe on this record, even if you don’t really know where you are or what track you’re on at any given point. By the time the second disc rolls around, everything is pretty much a blur. (
Grade: C
Go Download: “Soufie (Now That’s What I Call 2009)”