At that point it had already been about 10 years since the band released Focus, so the band was long gone and there were no talks of a reunion to my knowledge.
Suddenly, and seemingly out of the blue, they make a comeback and release Traced In Air. As a longtime fan, surely I jumped at this chance in a heartbeat, right?
To be honest I'm not sure. It may be because of the hype and being afraid of being let down, maybe because of all the other, new, music I was listening to or maybe all that time had dulled my sense of hype to the point that I didn't care that much.
No matter what the reason, I finally ended up listening to it and absolutely loving it.
The relevance of this is that several of my favorite bands released music last year that I actually didn't really listen to that much.
These are their stories.
The Norwegian Agent Fresco is now a title that two bands are vying for, 22 and Leprous as of their last album. Both bands have probably been going for longer than Fresco but I'm from Iceland so I'm biased towards making them the namesake for this nice groovy, poppy yet mathy style of music.
If you're not familiar, 22 released an album called Flux back in 2010, wowing several members of the mathcore forum The Apparatus, as well as plenty of people around the world. The only reason I bring The Apparatus up is because I loved that place and it's actually where I found 22, in a post from App founder Keith Carlson about catchy, mathy bands. This thread laid the foundation for a surprising portion of my music taste for coming years with Down I Go, Look What I Did and more bands being featured.
*fun fact, Keith also created the artwork for one of 22's EPs*
22's music is, as I previously mentioned, incredibly catchy, but also extraordinarily well crafted from all different aspects you could possibly think of, from instrumentation and vocals to the actual arrangements and production. Why I haven't bought and binged their latest album is a mystery to me, seeing as I was addicted enough to their early material that I backed their IndieGogo for the Flux re-release almost instantaneously.
I guess I've got to do, what I've got to do-do. (obscure lyric reference is obscure)
A Lot Like Birds are one of those bands. One of those bands where I literally heard about 20-30 seconds of their music and knew I needed to buy everything they'd ever made.
No Place is one of my all-time favorite albums, one filled with many moments I count among the most emotional ones I've ever heard in music and one I never seem to get enough of. The year it came out I listened to it around 100 times in the span of a month-and-a-half and I once wrote a whole post (a very long one) on my band's FB page which was broken up with quotes exclusively from the band.
When ex-Dance Gavin Dance, current Royal Coda and Pushover vocalist Kurt Travis left the band I was worried about the band's future. Not to the point that I thought they couldn't do it, after all the band still had it's main songwriter and lyricist, but rather because one of the most engaging part of the band's sound is that of the interchanging vocals between Kurt and Cory.
On Divisi Cory takes full vocal duties, clean singing mostly replacing the emotional screams we've known and loved since he was in the underrated Discovery of a Lifelong Error back in the day. From what I've heard he does a great job (although I definitely heard bits I wished he'd scream on) but I haven't actually given it a full spin. I will this year, I promise, and I'll be sure to provide an update on my thoughts at that point.
I discovered Blood Command's Funeral Beach through Metal Sucks before they got too obsessed with Lucas Mann's half-speed escapades (unrelated point, I've seen Lucas play RoS stuff in person, the dude can absolutely shred that shit!). They simply referred to it as post-hardcore with female vocals if I remember correctly and despite that sparse description I was on a massive PHC binge (much better than the unrelated PHP binge) so I ate it up.
The album was absolutely addictive! Catchy, aggressive and varied; everything I wanted it to be and I still jam it regularly to this day.
Despite being an annoying fanboy and spamming them for a while, asking when new material came out (pretty sure I wrote about it back in 2014 and promptly got a response from the band) I think I've only heard one song from this album but I definitely plan to remedy this soon.
Blue Swan records, run by Will Swan of Dance Gavin Dance fame, have a tendency to sign bands that all sound somewhat similar but also all sound somehow amazing in their own right. This includes Secret Band, Sianvar, Stolas, Adventurer and, the topic of this portion, Eidola.
Eidola have often been compared to one of the two bands with the honor of being referred to by me as "the best band in the world", The Dear Hunter, and as much as I love Eidola I can't quite hear it. Both have roots in post-hardcore in one way or another but they take their individual routes through the territory of prog rock in completely different ways, in my honest opinion.
What both have in common, however, is great instrumentation, goosebump-inducing vocals and catchy-yet-inventive songwriting.
Degeneraterra, Eidola's last full length album, has been in heavy rotation since I properly got into it, fittingly about 2 months into the year after it came out. It was one of the albums I wished I would have featured on my top 10 list so perhaps history will repeat itself with To Speak, To Listen.
Stay tuned for another episode of "Overlooked, Overhyped?" coming soon to a blog near you*!
*as long as you stay near this one