Rockets and Blue Lights
A Smashed City with Flames and Music in the Air


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
July 7th, 2007 | 23 replies | 11,577 views


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Remember when Cursive was good?

I've never reviewed an album for a band that qualifies for the tag of "midwest indie." As a start, let's just discard the whole "post-emo indie rock" tag as completely bogus. I understand that people started getting confused in the mid-90s because a lot of bands were influenced by legit emo, but come on guys, we shouldn't be giving fourfa.com that much cred. Now Rockets and Blue Lights are a fairly recent addition to the whole midwest indie thing. They eat a lot off the plates of bands like Braid, Mineral, and Christie Front Drive. They have completely clean-tone guitar, modal resolutions of the bass, midtempo drumming, and fairly touching, melodic singing/screaming/shouting vocals. All of their songs put the "honesty" of Saddle Creek Records bands to shame and their catchiness places them to be rivals with even the most prominent and popular acts to bite off the midwest style in one way or another (Sunny Day Real Estate, Jimmy Eat World, etc.).

However, I'm most fixated on how Rockets and Blue Lights diverges from these other bands. Whereas the other bands seem to be writing "songs," as in pieces of music that follow the typical verse-chorus-verse structure of the first generation of rock music, Rockets and Blue Lights vary the presentation a little bit to great success. When writing highly personal music that relies greatly on the lyrical content or delivery, there aren't many vocal appearances on A Smashed City with Flames and Music in the Air. Rockets and Blue Lights favor longer instrumental interludes, that admittedly are very lyrical in their own soaring melodicisms, and only throw in vocals at certain important moments. The vocals are also mixed down and feel like background additions rather than in-your-face, heart-on-the-sleeve paroxysms like those of similar bands. The focus on instrumentals is really refreshing. The instrumental work itself is fairly ingenious as well. The interplay between the two guitar is tremendous, and in fact may be the best outside of that on Cursive's Domestica. They create unisons at some moments and awesome contrasts at other moments, all to great success. The guitars will continuously play off of one another to create grooves and melodies that seem to wrap around themselves like a snake eating its own tail. The bass also contributes to this awesome sense of groove but creating countersubject to match the strong content of the guitar. The bass is especially fitting when throwing in little harmonics that can bring a smoothness to the often jutting midwest sound. The drumming isn't spectacular but does a great job of locking in the different feels that emerge from the interplay between the stringed instruments. All-in-all, it's guitar driven but all of the other instruments hold their weight as well.

The end result of these long instrumental, guitar-centric passages is a refreshing look at the midwest style that typically puts a premium on upstaging vocals and heartbreaking storytelling. Rockets and Blue Lights succeed at translating the "a picture is worth a thousand words" adage from visual arts to aural arts. The way the melodies of the guitars sing on this album contains as much if not more emotion and power than the vocals of a band like Braid or Cursive. A good album if only an EP. This band has since broken up but this EP is a perfect example of the midwest style done right.



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user ratings (12)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Concubine
July 7th 2007



333 Comments


dfel, i want this

Two-Headed Boy
July 7th 2007



4527 Comments


This sounds really great. Nice work, and I'm actually sincere about looking into this.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 7th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh how convenient: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=PO330WLN

The Jungler
July 7th 2007



4827 Comments


I'll definitley give this a download. Domestica rules, and I've been meaning to check out Braid for a while now.

edit: is this the album art?
http://www.nokarma.com/nokarma/lp/rdr001.gifThis Message Edited On 07.07.07

Concubine
July 7th 2007



333 Comments


thanks =D

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 7th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I mean it may be the album art. I'll up it anyways. Anybody see what the release date was?

GleamInRanks
July 7th 2007



298 Comments


Sounds great. Thanks for the link.

cbmartinez
July 8th 2007



2525 Comments


This band is terribly overrated. The tracks I have the recording is poor, and the band is just messy and bad. I never dug the whole midwest scene though, anyway. Definitely nowhere near Cursive man, even if I did like them.This Message Edited On 07.08.07

cbmartinez
July 8th 2007



2525 Comments


Actually, after reading the descriptions, I'm thinking the track I have might be from before this album. It started off with this really dark bass chord riff and then kinda went into this clean tone, moaning vocals, palm mutes, melodic thing. The descriptions you give in the review makes this album seem like it's worth giving the band a second shot.

pixiesfanyo
July 8th 2007



1222 Comments


Just so you know. This band sounds nothing at all any bit like Cursive. They're like a some what mash up of CoC and Cap'n Jazz. They have the dynamic sense of CoC but also that lovable youthful energy Cap'n Jazz possesses.

iamrockzorz
July 8th 2007



1029 Comments


I've seen you be pretty harsh on some music, giving stuff that you really like nothing above a 3. I don't really see this deserving of an excellent rating at all, especially from you as your standards seem to be much higher than so many people on this forum. Its good nonetheless.

pixiesfanyo
July 8th 2007



1222 Comments


he has got that emo fever.

Fort23
July 8th 2007



2474 Comments


o yeaa

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 9th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The beginning of "The Martyr" on guitar = what I like about Rockets and Blue Lights.

iamrockzorz
July 9th 2007



1029 Comments


Theres not a song on here called "the Martyr"

The vocals on this cd are so unbelievably indistinguishable..gross

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 9th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's the point man. You obviously don't have Cursive's Domestica and that needs to be rememdied immediately.

cbmartinez
July 9th 2007



2525 Comments


Wow, Iamrockzorz is an idiot.

Cadaveric
July 9th 2007



152 Comments


thanks for the upload! this is some good stuff. dfelon do you listen to any american football? they're different than this, but they're similar in that they have really varied song structures

iamrockzorz
July 9th 2007



1029 Comments


i only have the ugly organ :-(

still hate the vocals on this cd.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 9th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

iamrockzors, get Domestica as soon as you can. It's absolutely crucial.

Cadaveric, ya I know American Football. They're pretty good but I've never freaked out about any one of their songs.



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