Catholic Werewolves - You're Gonna Miss Everything Cool And Die Angry

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Catholic Werewolves’ debut album begins with a collage of humanity. Within 30-seconds, clips of news reports, interviews, movies, and game shows all flash through the listener’s speakers, each punctuated by a short buzz of static. It’s like we’re listening in on an old TV controlled by an impatient person who’s channel surfing until they find something that captivates them properly. No sound bite lingers for more than a few seconds, but the result is something that feels both familiar and relevant: all the pop culture in the world isn’t enough when you don’t know what you’re searching for. 

34-seconds into the opening track, two cymbal taps signal the entrance of the trio who make their way into the frame like a band taking the stage at a house show. Soon the drums, guitar, and bass all whir up to speed, synching up and making way for a bombastic shouted vocal harmony. After a fiery verse, blistering guitar solo, and cathartic group chant, the song ends mid-thought and throws you directly into the remainder of the album. 

I first wrote about Catholic Werewolves back in December when this album was fresh off the presses. At the time, I held them up as an exemplary midwest band that embodied immaculate songwriting, tenacious spirit, and the DIY aesthetic. After spending even more time with their record, I’m happy to confirm that every one of these beliefs is true. 

Clocking in at a mere 15-minutes, You're Gonna Miss Everything Cool And Die Angry is one of the most compact, exciting, and well-thought-out records I’ve heard in recent months. The melodies are catchy, the choruses are sharp, and the instrumentals are tight. The Jeff Rosenstock and Joyce Manor influence is evident from the outset, but it’s also clear that Catholic Werewolves are putting their own spin on it.

Songs never wear on because they don’t have time to. Within the space of minutes, the band can deploy a concept, set the scene with minimal effort, and then bowl you over with everything that they just put into place. It’s economical songwriting that respects the listener’s time but also shows incredible talent and creativity. 

With every song hovering around the two-minute mark, the band spends the release exploring different sonic pallets in a free-wheeling and uncomplicated way. “Instrument of Torture” is a thrashy punk pit-starter. “Title on Screen” is a bouncy and clever song that breaks out into a rapid-fire final verse. “Tom Hanks” is a guitar-led song that somehow manages to be poppy while also hosting the most hardcore screamed vocals on the entire album. “Tuxedo T-Shirt” is a two-minute acoustic pit-stop centered around an infectious melody backed up by strings, piano, and harmonized vocals. “Emotional Sharingan” bears a hard-charging drumline with crashing cymbals and one of the record’s most catchy hooks. “Where Do You Think We Are?” uses a line from Scrubs to springboard into a narrative-driven brush with mortality that evokes the best parts of You, Me, and Everyone We Know. Finally, album-closer “Adult” is a biting, vicious, and hilarious takedown of complacency that sends the album off on punchy a high note.

It’s hard for me to think of a better pop-punk record than this in recent years. I know I’m a sucker for short albums, but the sheer amount of ideas that Catholic Werewolves manages to pack into such a short amount of time is absolutely astounding. Every song is varied, catchy, and speaks to a different concern. The lyrics are razor-sharp, and the production is immaculate. Most importantly, the songs never overstay their welcome and always leave you wanting more. 

One of the reasons the Emo scene feels so exciting right now is because it’s very economical. Bands are releasing more EPs, splits, and singles because those are more affordable. It leads to a genre that feels ever-shifting and constantly-growing where bands can release updates on their lives in short bursts rather than long, bloated stream-chasing records. It leads to a more supportive scene that feels more intimate and interconnected than ever before. 

On this record Catholic Werewolves didn’t half-ass a collection of songs; they honed these tracks down to their bare components and bundled them up in a compact package that’s simultaneously quick to consume and artistically-satiating. It’s an inspiring, accessible, and creative force, and that’s the type of art we need right now. 

December 2018: Album Review Roundup

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It’s our final roundup of the year, and it’s been an eventful month both in music and in life. This December I flew across the country, enjoyed the holidays with my family, and reconnected with all of my old friends back home. As far as this blog goes, I’ve been writing a ton in order to get our various end of the year lists and awards up before the year actually ended. Meanwhile, as with most other industries, new music seemed to slow down to a trickle in December for the most part. Even though there were less new releases this month, there was no shortage of quality projects worth enjoying through the final weeks of 2018.


Vulfpeck - Hill Climber

On May 26th of 2016, I saw Vulfpeck in concert, and it was one of the best shows I’ve been to in my entire life. I’ve been to rowdier concerts, louder concerts, and maybe even more “technically” impressive concerts, but there was a magic in the air that night as the ever-shifting funk group laid down a two-hour-long set of greatest hits and unforgettable spur-of-the-moment improvisations. While I respect the band’s hustle (one project a year from 2011 onward is nothing to sneeze at) even the most hardcore of Vulfpeck fans will admit that the band has gotten away from their instrumental roots. While the group’s “vocal” tracks have become some of their biggest hits, I was ecstatic to find out not a word is spoken on the back half of Hill Climber. There are still some catchy and funky cuts on Side A, but nothing quite beats the deep groove of the songs like “Soft Parade” or the fourth installment of “It Gets Funkier.” Despite my personal feelings on the group’s non-instrumental work, Hill Climber is yet another entry in an almost-flawless discography.

 

Field Medic - little place

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Field Medic has been one of my biggest loves of 2018. From discovering Songs From The Sunroom at the very beginning of the year to saving his hat from mosh pit peril at a Remo Drive show, my year has been marked by the musical presence of Kevin Patrick Sullivan. I showered Field Medic with multiple awards in this year’s Diamond Platters, but right when I thought our year together was over he surprise-released little place in the twilight hours of 2018. Short and poetic as ever, little place features six songs, all one-minute a piece. The mini-ep is like a sketchbook put to music, and as invasive as that may sound, it feels more like a peek inside your own head than that of our narrator. Personable, charming, and poetic, there’s no better way to kill six minutes than a little listen to little place

 

Bay Faction - Florida Guilt

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Back in 2014 Bay Faction uploaded a four-track demo of their songs to reddit and a man named Jake Sulzer liked them so much he decided to start a record label just to help them release their first full-length. That label was Counter Intuitive Records which is now home to the likes of Mom Jeans, Prince Daddy & The Hyena, and more. While the band put out their self-titled emo debut on Counter Intuitive, they’re now self-released their long-awaited follow-up Florida Guilt, and the record is a bold and emotional step in a new direction. Moving away from the overwrought sentiments of their debut, the band now finds themselves placing a greater focus on catchy melodies, bouncy hooks, and memorable moments within the songs. There’s cleaner production, but the minds behind the words are still the same. Exploring a similar territory of youthful emotion and over-action, Florida Guilt is an unexpected but beautiful pivot.

 

21 Savage - i am > i was

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While I would never have expected it back in 2016, 21 Savage seems like he’s on a warpath to become one of the rap game’s biggest stars. Between high profile collaborations, chart-topping singles, and a hearty helping of meme-worthy moments, 21 seems to have been making all the right moves recently. On top of all this, he’s spent the last two years honing his craft and becoming both a personable and proficient rapper while racking up hits along the way. i am > i was is the latest in 21’s string of increasingly-quality releases, the album boasts soulful beats, opulent flexes, and a star-studded feature list. While some spots lack substance,  i am > i was is just excellent trap music, and sometimes you don’t need much more than that. 

 

Clear Hearts Fanzine - Season 1, Episodes 1-6

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Clear Hearts Fanzine is a collaborative project headed up by Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years and Ace Enders of The Early November Men. Bonded by their love of the mid-2000’s hit TV show Friday Night Lights, Season 1, Episodes 1-6 is a concept album centering around the occupants of Dillon, Texas and their day-to-day lives. While the two have collaborated before on Aaron West and a tearful Bruce Springsteen cover, this project represents the first full release the duo has teamed up to craft from the ground up. Preceded by an in-depth interview with the two artists, their passion for the show is deep, their creation is earnest, and their fandom is endless. 

 

Bruce Springsteen - Springsteen on Broadway

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In a move that harkens back to one of the greatest live albums of all time, Springsteen on Broadway is the audio version of Springsteen’s Broadway residency which spanned from 2017 to 2018. The format is simple; The Boss himself is on stage alone with nothing more than a guitar and mic. As he runs through some of the greatest hits of his five-decade-long career each song is accompanied by an introduction in which Springsteen details the backstory that led to its inception. Pulling largely from his 2016 autobiography, the tales are earnest, confessional, inspirational, and intimate. There’s a reason why Springsteen is our country’s greatest classic rock act, and we should all be honored to have him tell the story of our lives. 

 

Catholic Werewolves - You're Gonna Miss Everything Cool And Die Angry

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I’ve fallen back in love with emo this year, and bands like Catholic Werewolves are the reason why. Sure, moving to the midwest lends itself well to frigid, inward thoughts, but I’ve felt a real sense of pride uncovering the bustling underground scene of a new city. In the case of You're Gonna Miss Everything Cool And Die Angry I found Catholic Werewolves through Stars Hollow who I found through Jail Socks who I found though Absinthe Father. The point is, there are dozens of bands like this in every city who are making incredible music that’s worth yelling out in someone’s sweaty living room. Yes, this record rips, but it’s also symbolic of the hungry acts in your local scene and the brilliance lying in wait for those willing to look. 

 

Quick Hits

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This month we also heard new singles from Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Toro Y Moi, La Dispute, Illuminati Hotties, Pedro The Lion, Fucked Up, CZARFACE, Phoebe Bridgers, Deerhunter, Xiu Xiu, Copeland, Broken Bells, Anna von Hausswolff, Ice Cube, Ezra Koenig, Danny Worsnop, Joshua Homme, Saba, Max Bloom, American Football, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Jay Som, Matt Berninger, Growlers, Saba, Amine, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Cane Hill, Cigarettes After Sex, Kelso, Swae Lee, 6Lack, The Voidz, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Post Malone, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Mac Demarco, The Raconteurs, and Noname.