Thursday, April 11, 2019

Makes My Blood Dance release LP


Makes My Blood Dance are living up their promising handle and executing one of the sickest, slickest and most stylish metal tracks that you’re going to hear this quarter in their official debut single “Beaming Right Up.” Using a sonic vortex that originates from a sizzling bassline, “Beaming Right Up” sees its creators using every weapon in their war chest to overwhelm us with their staggering musicality, unrelenting rhythm and symphonically synchronized swagger. 

The drums are fiery and fierce, blanketing us in a discomforting rigidity that is only broken up by the feverish riffs adorning every verse. Lyrically, Makes My Blood Dance pull out all the stops to deliver unto us something that doesn’t draw too heavily from the well of their predecessors but nevertheless flanks its modern construction with a vintage familiarity tethering it to the metal gods of yore. “Beaming Right Up” is only their first single, but it boasts so many impressive facets that it would be hard for anyone to make the argument that these guys aren’t going to win over some hearts in this interesting period in rock n’ roll history. The production quality here is top of the line from every angle, highlighting all of the unconventional nuances in their depth of songcraft without focusing too much on one aspect of the band’s sound over another. There’s a lot to Makes My Blood Dance; their beats have a very club-oriented feel to them, the mix is varnished in an equalization that is more common in pop music, and their method of attack (when it comes to structuring a melodic vocal inside of a hurricane of vicious harmonies) is unlike anything that I’ve heard in the glam revival movement that has been concentrated around the Northeastern United States. Their hooks remind me a little of Diamond Nights, but their violent churn is straight out of the Queensr├┐che playbook. 

The progressive undertones here are something that could definitely be exploited in an album setting, but I think that it’s still too early to tell what Makes My Blood Dance are going to do with this template as the future unfolds. They’ve certainly got no shortage of options with a versatile sound like this, and that alone makes their brand a more than worthy follow for heavy metal disciples everywhere. If this is but a sampling of what we can expect out of Makes My Blood Dance in future recordings, then it’s safe to say that you can sign me up for more. 

There’s a moodiness in “Beaming Right Up” that just isn’t there in the bulk of material that I’ve heard out of their closest rivals in 2019, and to call it a fascinatingly experimental way to start off their career just wouldn’t be doing this work justice. I’m excited to see what my peers in journalism think about this band, but for my money, there simply isn’t another group making the magic in the studio that Makes My Blood Dance are, and that’s no small statement to make when considering how inspired the scene that spawned them has been lately. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Francine Honey To Be Continued (LP)

Francine Honey’s To Be Continued… will likely be considered a breakthrough moment in the Ontario singer/songwriter’s career. Her previous two albums are fine enough, even exceptional, but this third collection goes even further towards establishing Honey as a songwriter possessing an uniquely personal vision. “Snowflakes on My Eyelashes” serves as an excellent introduction to how she’s elevated her game; the lean poetics of the lyrical material is unquestionable. The song’s lead musical instrument is guitar, but it never takes a spotlit role – Honey, instead, opts to use the instrument in an ornamental way and the color it brings fills in the spaces left by the song’s percussion. Few songs are as patient as this; it never gets in any hurry and evolves at a luxurious pace, but it pays off in an impressive way.

“To Be Continued”, the album’s title song, might remind some of the first track in the way it develops. The same patient approach to arranging is presented, but the spartan array of instruments on this cut is centered on the melodic piano runs Honey drops into the song along the way. It’s a fascinating song in a lot of ways, but one that leapt out to me is how much detail is laden into a comparatively short tune without ever seeming too much. “Honey” is very different fare. Honey’s focus turns towards a more blues-oriented sound with this song, though there are strong country influences working here as well, and the slide guitar near the song’s end highlights the former’s contributions. Honey’s having a great deal of fun with this one and it’s an infectious experience for listeners.

The video released along with the single “Shacked-Up Sweetie” makes for an entertaining one two punch sure to garner To Be Continued… some much deserved attention. Her video for the song reminds me of the prime years for music videos; it plays up the song’s comedic potential without ever reducing the song to a novelty number, obviously benefits from being helmed by top notch video professionals, and presents Honey in the best possible light. The song, on its own, is fine as well – a familiarly rough and tumble country/blues rock number that doesn’t aim for the lowest common denominator but makes great hay from pouring old wine into new bottles. It’s obvious why Honey selected this song for such an important spot.

There’s a virtual duet fueling the track “Space” – Honey’s voice and the accompanying violin pair for a deeply moving exchange culminating with a chorus you won’t soon forget. Coming where it does, after “Shacked-Up Sweetie”, the song might be a sleeper gem on this release, but it easily ranks with the album’s best songs. “Open Road” is another more overtly commercial track, retro sounding all the same, but the personal touch it derives from the lyrics helps make it stand apart from songs cast in a similar mold. Acoustic guitar forms a lot of the bedrock sustaining “I Wish”, but the country sound of the song is inescapable and the piano lines running through the track provide a lightly played melodic lift.

Francine Honey’s To Be Continued… is an appropriate title. The latest chapter in Honey’s musical development has her reaching heights previously unavailable and signals she’s in this for the long haul; there isn’t a single hole marring this release, no filler at all, and the apparent care she took making sure each song strikes the right chord for listeners results in one of the most unified efforts in recent memory.

Joshua Beach