Home Valley Advocate Mixtape: Reviews of 3 new releases and where to catch the bands...

Mixtape: Reviews of 3 new releases and where to catch the bands play

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hero and the horror 43377319 scaled 1
hero and the horror 43377319 scaled 1

By Jennifer Levesque
For the Valley Advocate

Hero and the Horror, “Old Ghosts”

Western Mass’ Hero and the Horror recently released their first full length album, which was highly anticipated by the local music scene. The band had a handful of shows recently leading up to their release. One notable show was opening for popular metalcore band from Boston, Unearth, back in October at Race Street Live in Holyoke.

Hero and the Horror CD release show for their new album, “Old Ghosts.”

I attended their CD release show at the Tank in Agawam back in February. It was the first time in years I had seen a local venue packed so full and it was hard to maneuver through the crowd without spilling your drink. Shows like that are always perfect. You go to celebrate an album release, but it’s also like a reunion. I always tell people, I give out more hugs at a metal show than I do at a family reunion.

Supporting Hero and the Horror’s album release party was Dead Fiction, Casting Shadows, Oozie and Infinite Cruelty. Usually for a show with multiple acts, you tend to see some attendees trickle away before the end of the night, but not this show. It seemed everyone that attended stayed for the entirety of the show. A mosh pit even broke out during Dead Fiction and the person next to me shielded me. Chivalry is never dead at a metal show.

The album, “Old Ghosts,” was written during the pandemic and was an outlet for the band. “It’s a collection of songs that have helped us cope with all of our individual old ghosts,” the band said. The album is ripe with visceral emotions: bitterness, anger, and even independence and hope.

The fast-paced, heavily layered explosion of the first single, “On Fire,” teases the album’s electricity that follows through to the end. Hero and the Horror made a music video for the track that you can check out on YouTube.

“Strength of a God” is another single that also has a video to check out. It’s a slower, more mellow tune, even though it’s still very heavy. The melodic vocals weave throughout the song’s intensity.

My personal favorite on the album, “Breathe,” is melancholic and dark, yet strong and beautiful. The lyrics – like all on the album – read as therapeutic poetry: “One thing after another / It’ll never make sense / It never fucking makes sense / So just breathe, and choose / Your next step wisely / Just believe in yourself / And live.”

There’s a point in the track “Head in the Sand” at the 2:53 mark where there is this short but sweet primal-esque growl then this gnarly guitar solo jumps off of it. Then there’s “Empty-Handed,” which gave me Alice in Chains vibes; it’s moody, dark and catchy.

“Blind & Oblivious” immediately gets you nodding your head to the beat. It sounds to me like a revenge song: “It feels so good to break you down / It feels so good to wipe you out / You will never be the voice / Crawling your way right through my head / I’d rather shove myself / Into an early grave instead.”

You can listen to the album on all major streaming services and there are also a handful of shows coming up to check them out live (Hero and the Horror live shows don’t disappoint!). On June 1, they will be at Toads Place in New Haven, Connecticut, June 7 at Ralph’s Diner in Worcester, and July 27 at Sammy’s Patio in Revere.

Dan Strauss, “The Haze of Winter Flowers”

Brooklyn, New York musician Dan Strauss’ 7th studio album, “The Haze of Winters Flowers,” is a collection of indie folk rock songs that each tell their own story.

The opening track, “The Traveling Skyline,” begins with birds chirping, then you hear Strauss’ gentle voice dancing along with the keys of the piano in the background. The general mood is that of a light, comfy, safe space.

“The Golden Goose” was destined to be a great song just from the title. It follows the flow of the album. Delicate, light and fun. There’s a line in “Mosaic Gold” that I thought sounded so perfect. Maybe it’s because of the amount of words that start with the letter T, or the fact that toast and tea are a comfort food and drink. Either way, it’s poetically appealing: “traveling at night, only stopping for toast and tea.”

There are moments throughout the album where I’m reminded of The Flaming Lips.

The biographical “Me and My Life” narrates little stories throughout Strauss’ life: “When I was ten / They said John Lennon died and / That was when I think that I first cried and / Every now and then it makes me cry again.”

You can experience these indie folk rock stories live with Strauss’ residency at The Brewery at Four Star Farms in Northfield on June 21, August 24, October 19 and December 14.

Kim Gordon, “The Collective”

Remember when Kim Gordon was a fixture in Northampton? You’d see her strolling down Main Street, or bump into her at an art show, or look over to notice you were standing next to her at a show at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence? Well, those were my personal experiences anyways. I miss those chance encounters with one of music’s living legends.

Her latest release, a solo album called “The Collective,” recently came out, and while I was a little underwhelmed with most of the album (don’t hate me), there were a couple songs I just absolutely love.

The opening track and first single, “Bye Bye,” kicks off with these electronic beats that instantly make you want to turn the volume way up. Then comes Gordon’s soft, raspy voice with the lyrics. She’s basically reading a list of items – like items she needs to pack up before she goes on tour or somewhere. It’s weird, but it works: “Hoodie, tooth paste, brush, foundation, contact solution, mascara, lip mask, eye mask, earplugs, travel shampoo, conditioner…”

If the songs were a little heavier and she lost the auto tune on some tracks, I’d probably have a different opinion. But it doesn’t interfere with how talented I think Gordon is. Maybe I need to listen a few more times.

The closest stop on her tour is June 12 in Hudson, New York at the very beautiful Basilica Hudson. Fun fact: the venue is co-founded by Melissa Auf der Maur (most famous for being the bassist and backing vocalist in Hole.)

Source: ValleyAdvocate.com