THE MERCHANT’S TURNTABLE – Track 5: “Happy Pill”
Track 5 –“Happy Pill”
For the most part, last month’s new format worked well. The only change we’ll be making this time around is the placement of the album scores. Rather than appear in a separate section, you can find the 1-5 rating at the end of each band’s review. For those of you who do not know how to read that, 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest. This past month, little new was sent to me. As a result, a lot of the albums covered here aren’t brand new, but still very recent and previously uncovered by myself.
I listened to several new artists this month. Mister Wives was probably one of my favorites. Their new EP, mini bloom, blends mainstream pop and techno to create something feel-good and happy. These nine tracks –this is hardly an EP at that length –are smooth, memorable, and infectiously catchy. I’m glad to have stumbled upon this group. (5) // Another new find is Sweet Pill, who are releasing their debut EP, Miss This/TellMe, this month. Consisting of only two tracks, this is but a taste of the five-piece, but what a taste! Sugary but indie-grown in vibes, this fourth-wave emo pack is one to clearly keep an eye on. (4.5) // There were a few metal albums in my promo pool for October-November, Vatican being one that I actually listened to a couple times. They’re not doing anything new or exciting. They haven’t reinvented the wheel whatsoever. That being said, Sole Impulse works well in the background if you need a pick me up. (3) // Vamachara was another noisy group this month, but one that left more of a lasting impression than the previously mentioned artist. The instrumental work on Hereafter brings to mind strong basement vibes, like a band grinding and crashing along to whatever comes to mind. I don’t mean that to sound messy or uncoordinated, but there are numerous moments throughout the EP in which the band feels like they’re just riffing as a warm-up. Nevertheless, Hereafter has enough brutality and hometown feels to keep my attention. (3.5) // Criminal Instinct’s new album, Terrible Things, is quick in more ways than one. The only track to go beyond a minute and a half is “Acid Rain,” the closer. All in all, Terrible Things probably comes in just shy of twenty minutes, but it’s a solid surge of energy at least. I’m not a fan of the vocals – which are gruff and garbled –but the songs themselves inject well enough into your audio-fueled bloodstream. (3) // The Alchemy, a modern-rock group from Canterbury, have just put out their first full-length, and it’s quite mesmerizing at times. Their blend of electronica, saddled with Rhys Taylor’s vocals, kept me coming back for more, desperate to figure out why the band sounded so familiar. Then it hit me –they have the feel of Enter Shikari! Chemical Daydream gets your attention the first playthrough, but doesn’t really stick its claws into you until round two. Give it a few spins and decide for yourself! (4) // Though I thought I knew Cory Wells from a past act, I could not for the life of me figure it out by searching the web. There were mentions of metal bands including him, but no names provided. So, maybe I knew him prior to this solo debut and maybe I didn’t. As such, I’ll include him in this section of new finds. The Way We Are is poignant, emotional, and all-consuming. Cory’s voice is either smooth and dreamlike, or stressed and cracking. The accompanying acoustic work is wonderful and fitting of the punk-vibes that jump in and out of this record. Ultimately, The Way We Are goes down various paths, making it difficult to label. But one thing is for sure –it’s fucking good. (5) // Raised Fist remind me of Comeback Kid a bit. Their new release, Anthems, features quite a few hype tracks to get that moshpit turning, so if hardcore-influenced punk is your thing, look no further than this record. (3.5) //
Though there are not nearly as many this month, I’ve also had some familiar faces come back around. For one, I somehow forget to review Bayside two months in a row. The group –one I’ve listened to for fifteen years now – are back with Interrobang, their eighth original full-length, and Acoustic, Volume 2. Though Interrobang is solid and enjoyable throughout, it is admittedly not as striking as the band’s last few releases. Much of the record feels so familiar that I questioned some of the songs as being old when they weren’t. Nevertheless, tracks like “Tall” and “Medication” make up for any downfalls along the way (not that there’s anything necessarily wrong about this collection). But wait, we can’t forget to touch on Acoustic, Volume 2. I’m a sucker for acoustic renditions of songs, and the first set of these (from 2016) were favorites of mine for years to follow. This batch includes such reimagined hits as “Sick, Sick, Sick,” “Mary,” and “It Don’t Exist.” Even “Blame It On Bad Luck” makes a return with another recording. I’m not upset! (Interrobang – 4) (Acoustic, Volume 2 – 4.5) // It’s been a hot minute since I listened to The Menzingers, but Hello Exile has reminded me of their glory. From the start of this collection (with “America (You’re Freaking Me Out)”), The Menzingers strike chords instrumentally and culturally. There may be a couple of moments that slow down a bit much, but Hello Exile succeeds consistently throughout. (4) // Simple Creatures returned a couple of months ago with their second EP of the year, Everything Opposite. The opening track, “Special,” premiered in June, and although it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, the track did get plenty of airtime from me. The final track (and second single), “Thanks, I Hate It,” is terribly annoying, however. Luckily everything in between is golden. (4) // All Time Low are celebrating the tenth anniversary of Nothing Personal releasing a re-recording of the album (called It’s Still Nothing Personal). If you haven’t listened to the band in a while, you’re probably confused as to why the band would redo these songs at all. The thing is, Alex Gaskarth has taken a shine to electronic music in recent years (hence his alliance with Mark Hoppus in Simple Creatures). As a result, It’s Still Nothing Personal reflects some of the moody grooves he’s been promoting with his current work. Though isn’t as good as the original collection, this “reimagining” is still a fun, nostalgic ride. (3.5) //
THIS MONTH’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Head on over to The Merchant’s Turntable Playlist for this month’s playlist I’ve curated. It includes tracks from albums reviewed above, as well as some new singles from Grandson x Moby Rich, Falling in Reverse, Hollywood Undead, A Day to Remember, and more. I’ve even taken it a bit mainstream at times with Halsey and Kesha.You’ll find pop, metal, punk, hardcore, and more here.
Aiden Merchant is an independent author of horror, suspense, science fiction, and whatever else crawls out of his head. In 2019, he appeared in the writing community with the release of two story collections, Dead as Soon as Born and Kill for Them. In the months that surrounded those debuts, he also made several singles and website exclusives available, including “Out at Sea” and “Nummy Fingers.” He has been praised by readers and writers alike as having a diverse range in style and genre. Under his real name, Merchant has more than a decade of experience in music journalism, having regularly appeared in Alternative Press, Outburn Magazine, New Noise Magazine, and more. He is also a certified nursing assistant, husband, and father. In 2020, he looks to find a publisher and agent for the various projects he has in the pipeline.
Dead As Soon As Born
There is evil inside us all, and no one lives forever.
In this debut collection of short stories from Aiden Merchant, you will bear witness to murderers, monsters, and other horrors.