From Joseph Kyle at www.mundanesounds.com
Limekiln Records is quickly becoming one of those labels like Deep Elm or Lovitt that I'll check out every single release from, no matter what the genre. From the burly, Swedish-style metalcore of Life in Pictures to the heavy post-hardcore of Renee Heartfelt to the atmospheric, progressive Up Up Down Down Left Right B A Start, Limekiln have proven that they have the ability to spot good music in whatever form it happens to take. The latest gem to come across my desk by way of this label is the 101's Green Street, a heavy but porcelain-delicate blend of emo, pop and punk that brings to mind the power and subtlety of UK punk greats like Hooton 3 Car, Broccoli and Mega City Four.
If this music had've come out twenty-five years ago it probably would have been called "post-punk;" like bands such as the Smiths, the 101 seem informed by punk's viscerality and immediacy, but equally aware of what it takes to make an intrinsically great pop song. The second track, "Wolf," for instance, relies on a finger-picked melody that might have sounded lightweight in the hands of another band, but like Peter Buck or Johnny Marr, the 101 somehow make this delicate little dance at the bottom of the fretboard smack you in the face with the weight of a power chord.
I also just love the vocals on this record. As is the case a lot of UK bands (the 101 are from New York City, by the way), they're far lower in the mix than what you might expect if you listen mostly to US punk bands, which gives the melodies a great, understated quality that makes sure they don't blow their wad on the first listen. A number of songs (like "Wolf") also feature lush, layered background vocals that seem to swirl around and intermingle with one another in truly beautiful ways. Each part also has its own unique melody, and they're all so great you don't know which one to sing along with.
While there are a handful of moments on Green Street that are a little less powerful, on the whole this is quite a record. If you're into interesting, sophisticated but still instantly likable emo and pop this is a band who you should probably be following religiously.
From Daniel at www.dfbpunk.com
Limekiln Records has an amazing cast of characters in their offices I must imagine. I mean you have to be an absolute genius to find groups that they've found. The 101 will remind many people of Michael Stipe’s R.E.M. most especially because of the vocals. Their pop-rock sound is definitely indie in fashion but with hooks as freakin’ catchy as this, it’s only a matter of time before they conquer college radio and move on to Clear Channel’s territory. Steve Revitte recorded this and shows why artists as diverse as Liars and the Beastie Boys come to him for recording help.
From J-Sin at www.smother.net
Eric Richter has fronted some pretty awesome bands. His first group, Christie Front Drive, have become well-respected in the years since their quiet demise, and during their lifetime they were the inspiration for a young Jimmy Eat World (which might not mean much to you, dear readers, but work with me here). They broke up, and Richter went on to form Antartica, which rejected anything and everything ‘rock’ minded for a cold, distant electronica that owed a great deal to Aphex Twin, New Order and that whole ‘post-punk’ era of the early 1980s. His new project, The 101, continues the trend of being absolutely different than everything that came before it; having released a too-brief EP that hinted at good things to come, Green Street delivers on that record’s promise…and then some.
Suffice to say, this new style sounds a lot like REM. It sounds like REM a lot. That’s not a bad thing, though, because Richter and company are accomplished, talented musicians, and their rough jangle doesn’t sound derivative at all. Sure, songs like “Wife” and “Verve” might sound a little too much like vintage Michael Stipe, but if there’s anything positive to be said about that is that it’s good that people recognize the brilliance of early REM. The 101’s have a really good understanding of REM’s secret formula, and an even better concept of what makes a great-sounding song.
The only complaint, though, is the occasional tendency of the band to go for a ‘modern rock’ style. “Left On” sounds a little too much like REM-meets-EMO for my taste. “Never In” initially sounds like a rejected outtake from The OC and “Generals” blends the occasionally annoying modern-rock style that pops up here and there with Antartica’s cold, electronic heartbeat. Maybe that’s just the Christie Front Drive influence coming out, though. It’s only a minor quibble, though, because Green Street is a surprisingly good record. Give these guys a spin and you’ll be impressed with what you hear.