I stood backstage at an amphitheater stage during Warped Tour a couple years ago when this band started playing, and I thought to myself, “Who the French kisses is this? Killin’ it like dayum.” Turns out that was Hands Like Houses so, when I heard that their new album was coming out this year, my body was overcome with goosebumps and phantom boners.
I was complaining the other day to the mirror on the wall, among other things, about how there aren’t nearly as many solid rock bands as there used to be, and then… came Dissonants. Rise Records struck gold with this one. Within moments of hitting play, “I Am” brings back the rock flavor (or flavour if you’re into kings and calling cookies “biscuits”) with a driving riff line reminiscent of “Morning View”-era Incubus, maybe? So, you know it’s good! The verse kicks in with a delay-effected clean guitar line and basically builds until the end of the song. Delicious. Side-note: something about Trenton Woodley’s voice during the chorus reminds me of Atreyu, which if you’re not familiar with Atreyu, you’re doing life wrong.
Along with the best aspects of radio rock from the 2000s, there’s also a solid amount of modern bounce and synth-y sound design (e.g. pads, heavy guitar reverb, synth plucks). For example, the intro and musical theme of “Colourblind” – again with the funny spelling – gets reinvented several times over the course of the song, the bounce emanating most from the drum performance. There’s the initial dose, then cut-time bounce, and lastly the more breakdown-y version with very tastefully sprinkled yelly vocals on top, with just the right amount of distortion. Speaking of bounce and groove, the following track “New Romantics” has an overdriven bass line-oriented verse, which paired with the drums, makes for possibly one of my fave moments on the album.
Lastly, another one of my favorite aspects of this album are the electronic samples/production. They add vibes that range from ethereal to a particular epic… not strings, action hero epic, but maybe just “big,” if that makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t, but it’s definitely beautiful (specifically referring to “Degrees of Separation”). With all of these aforementioned qualities, this album is in contention for album of the year… even though it’s only going to be late February upon its arrival.
01. I Am
04. New Romantics
06. Division Symbols
09. Motion Sickness
10. Degrees of Separation
11. Grey Havens
Run Time: 46:12
Release Date: February 26, 2016
Check out the song “New Romantics” here.