Isles & Glaciers

The Hearts Of Lonely People EP

Written by: TL on 04/05/2010 18:53:02

When rumours hit the internet in 2008, of the existence and line-up of the band Isles And Glaciers, every certified scenester and his scenester slut entourage creamed their collective collection of panties in exhilaration. With Craig Owens (ex-Chiodos, ex-Cinematic Sunrise), Jonny Craig (ex-Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa) and Vic Fuentes (Pierce The Veil) all singing in the band; with Vic also shredding the guitar along with Nick Martin (ex-Cinematic Sunrise) and Brian Southall (ex-The Receiving End Of Sirens); and with Matt Goddard (Chiodos) on bass and Mike Fuentes (Pierce The Veil) on drums; you should either confess to a massive erection upon hearing of this band, or your scenester license is in need of revoking. Needless to say, expectations for this collaboration rose to towering heights with the haste of a speeding bullet, and now that it has been here for over a month, I finally have time to pass a verdict on whether or not the band's first output, "The Hearts Of Lonely People EP", lives up to the hype.

Of course it bloody doesn't. For a record to meet that kind of expectations, it would have to be more awesome than this picture. "The Hearts Of Lonely People EP" isn't that awesome, not by a long shot, rather I think it's a slightly unresolved hit and miss gesture, put together by a bunch of guys who can be excused for mostly having their attention elsewhere.

First of all, this is obviously a vocalist's band, with three of the most characteristic voices in American scene music joining up. Problem is that Jonny Craig, though even I am getting sick of praising him, is still by far and away the best singer of this trio, and boy does it show at times. Secondly, the production job here hints that indeed, it hasn't been polished as much as it would have been had this been a real band and a full length album. As such, the bass is not granted any favours in its futile struggle to provide any audible grounding to the sky-scraping three on three tag team battle for dominance, between three guitars and three of the most high pitched male singers around. The result is that when I&G are at their noisiest, for instance in first song "Hills Like White Elephants" where Southall's programmed samples contribute further to the mayhem, the symphony/cacophony of high pitched noises, screeching and scratching against each other, is almost too much to bear. Things occasionally work out better in the mellower parts, where each singer gets to shine in turn and Vic and Brian display most of the character we know from their own bands. But as soon as chorus sections arrive and each singer raises his voice, the band's instigator Owens' delivery all too soon starts to sound overly strained and annoying. Vic fares slightly better in my ears, having just a bit more charisma and versatility in his sharp croon, but both him and Owens sound like they're trying too hard, as soon as they are given as much room to shine as Jonny's seamless and voluminous performance.

Thankfully, there is enough talent in this mix to prevent a total train wreck, and if for no other reason, then the uniqueness of the three voices in play are still going to give you a fair reason to come back to this disc once in a while, after the infatuation has faded. After "Hills Like White Elephants" which is just too much overall, "Clush" sounds like a Pierce The Veil song to my relief with Owens and Jonny guesting in on a cool enough verse, only the beginning of the chorus suffers under Owens' mouse-like screeching. "Empty Sighs and Wine" however, is arguably the best song on offer, with Southall's TREOS sound echoing throughout the instrumental landscape and all three singers working out the best dynamic, mostly because Owens' parts stay within the range where he sounds best. As for "Viola Lion" and "Cemetary Weather", both are mellower tracks which have upsides of giving more room for the singers to create fair interplay, but also downsides of meandering off into experimentation and losing a bit of direction.

The remaining three tracks on "The Hearts Of Lonely People" are all instrumental interludes, which require little mention, except for the fact that they add to my overall impression of the record. That being it could've been so much better, if it hadn't been made in a rushed gap in each contributor's schedule. Actually, I don't even know if that's how it was made, but that's how it sounds. Firstly, it's clear as crystal that the making of good vocal dynamics take much more than just throwing two or three good singers in a room, and secondly, it's just as clear that establishing a band identity takes more playing together than a little jamming on holidays between US tours. These things are made so clear by "The Hearts Of Lonely People" being more of an experimental mess with its collaborators shining individually in different moments, than a worked-through, thought out effort from a band of players who've learned to combine their talents. It has potential, no doubt, but more attention must be afforded to Isles And Glaciers, unless they are content with true awesomeness being something they only occasionally and accidentally stumble upon.


Download: Empty Sighs And Wine, Clush,
For The Fans Of: Chiodos, Pierce The Veil, Emarosa

Release Date 09.03.2010
Equal Vision Records

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