Forgotten Gems 3

author DR date 21/10/11

Rockfreaks.net now has well over four-thousand reviews currently in its database, many of which are obscure releases you probably had no idea existed. A lot of these would be roughly 'average', fewer would be considered 'good', and less still would be considered 'great'. Chances are that, unless you have been following Rockfreaks.net religiously since its inception or you know how to use our search function, you'll have missed some of those great albums along the way - it's those albums that these Forgotten Gems articles are all about. Well, two of my choices aren't especially obscure, but they are gems, and they certainly seem forgotten to me. Read on to find out what I have elected as "Forgotten Gems".

Okay, so the last of these was over two years ago. We're gonna bring it back, though!

A Backward Glance On A Travel Road - A Backward Glance On A Travel Road

'We go to the top shelf with our words now', said comedian Louis C.K. in his most-recent stand-up special "Hilarious". Like pretty much everything else he talks about, he's completely right about this. We do go right to the top shelf with our words now. Words like 'amazing' and 'awesome' and 'brilliant' have so little meaning anymore that you actually have to use the word 'actually' if you're going to convince anybody about anything. I'm acknowledging this because if I didn't start this blurb like this, you might be a little less inclined to believe me when I tell you that the (as of yet) only release from Hypno5e side-project A Backward Glance On A Travel Road is brilliant. Everybody has that one album that, for them, is sheer artistic brilliance; this is mine. The layers of ambience, how they give the acoustic guitar so much character, the precisely-judged vocal samples, the unconventional expression of musicianship, those 'how did they make that sound' sounds; it's so ambitious and experimental that if they hadn't got it so right it'd be pretentious. But it doesn't come across as pretentious, instead it's music as art, constructed with care and intelligence that reaches parts of you that you didn't know music could. Throw all the superlatives at it you like because this is a masterpiece if I ever heard one. Nothing about it is simple, but it is simply brilliant.

Listen to "Regular Barbary":

From Autumn To Ashes - Holding A Wolf By The Ears

The Long Island music scene exploded circa 2000. It gave us the likes of Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Glassjaw, Bayside and The Movielife, and it also gave us From Autumn To Ashes - a band who, while they were hardly overlooked or unpopular in the scene, I feel their final output, "Holding A Wolf By The Ears", is definitely under-appreciated. If you had told me that the band who wrote the (melo)dramatic "The Fiction We Live" in 2003 would sign-off with a raw and aggressive screamo album, I would not have believed you. Yet, after their lead vocalist Benjamin Perri left, Francis Mark fully-committed himself to being the frontman and the result was surprisingly awesome. From the opening cries in "Deth Kult Social Club" he sounded like someone who had been waiting to scream his head off for years. Where a lot of bands usually associated with screamo and/or post-hardcore use every production trick available to make their screams sound deep and monstrous and their cleans soaring and angelic, Mark was happy to rely on what this genre is all about: passion. Granted, his cries weren't especially tuneful or refined - in fact, he sounded like a barking wolf - but they were raw and visceral and they conveyed an immense urgency that he balanced with his melodic clean vocals that lent themselves to a damn memorable chorus. By 2007 the scene was already dying, but "Holding A Wolf By The Ears" remains a valiant attempt at trying to resuscitate it.

Listen to "Deth Kult Social Club":

Moneen - The Red Tree

Do you know how many plays Moneen have on Last.fm? It's a little over two million. Two million of pretty much anything else would seem like a lot, but only that many plays for a band like Moneen isn't a lot; it's a fucking travesty. When I listen to "The Red Tree", a record that received widespread critical acclaim, I wonder how this could be the case? Despite how complex the instrumentation is or how intricate the guitar-lines are, their sound on "The Red Tree" was hardly an inaccessible one. This album married intelligent lyrics, complexity in the musicianship, and melody, even 'catchiness', in the vocals like few albums I've heard since. "The Day No One Needed To Know" is an epic, and the best part of the song is halfway through the third-minute, with the introspective vocals and gloriously uplifting lyrics. How can you listen to it and not sing along with "siiiing for loooove!!!!"? How can you not listen to "The Red Tree" and not feel something? How are Moneen so under-appreciated!?

Listen to "Don't Ever Tell Locke What He Can't Do"::

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