Album: Vote of No Confidence
Release: June 2, 2015
Our Take: “Buy It”
Vote of No Confidence is the first LP from Chicago emo revival four-piece, sewingneedle. The band’s mid-2015 record is one of those albums that will be surprising the first time you listen to it, which we recommend you should. The best thing going on is the pacing. It comes off as very intentional, and feels like the music version of a good movie. Nothing drags or gets repetitive, which is always a possible problem when the vocals have a distinct quality and style to them.
The album starts off with “The Difference,” which opens with a low-fi, thrumming but uptempo guitar track. The momentum and pace built up at the beginning of the song is more or less maintained throughout the song, and sort of just ends. “Two For The Road” is a much slower, grungy sounding track. The vocals are definitely more on display here, and while we do get some snippets in the first track, I felt like that they clashed with the overall sound of “The Difference” – this is not the case on the second track, where frontman Calvin Fredrickson’s low moan matches the slower pace and discordant guitar. The song ends on a well-built climax that leads nicely into “Always, Always, Always.” Unlike the transition between the first two tracks, this song picks up at a pretty logical end and features an even slower tempo and cleaner guitar. The track has a pretty gothy vibe to it, and sort of reminds of Bauhaus and other old proto-goth stuff. There’s a cool heavy pick up about halfway though that pounds on for a bit, then dissolves back into the clean guitar the song started with. The third track feels like an apt conclusion for the first portion of the LP, as it sort of feels like seeing someone live play a few similarly themed tracks in a row before continuing on with the set.
Fredrickson’s vocals continue to get a lot more varied on the following tracks, and I think it’s better for it. In context of the album as a whole, “Trauma Suits” is positioned well, and bring a blast of variety to the middle of the album. “Scotch Ale” is a pretty classically emo track, and I mean that in the best way. Again, sewingneedle continues to keep things interesting here. Only five tracks deep, and each one is fairly unique and stands out a lot. You get a distinct impression of the band experimenting with a few different sounds throughout, but it doesn’t end up sounding schizophrenic or like a jumble of tracks thrown into random order. It’s clearly thought out and the decision making is precise.
By the sixth track (“Vote of No Confidence”), something I’ve noticed about Frederickson’s vocals is they can at time be out of sync with the percussion. This lasts for like a few seconds at the start of this track, but then it stops being the case. Kind of weird, but not really damaging to the song itself as a whole. Another highlight that pops up in the middle of the record is the lyrics in “The Band is Playing for the Bands.” Like the prior track, they’re sort of funny and meta. This might be my favorite song on the album, and not because it briefly reminded me of middle school.
“Fit Like A Charm” comes in after this and again shows off sewingneedle’s ability to play a bunch of very different sounding tracks that meld together under common, underlying themes. Guided by almost Death Cab-y guitar and crashy percussion, this track certainly stands out. Extra points for having “That’s way she goes” as the chorus. It’s a poppy divergence from the other songs on the album, but still sounds like it belongs. This is another one to definitely check out. “Sunday Morning” is a return to the sound of the first third of the LP – a good, ole’ fashioned emo sort of lullaby.
Overall, sewingneedle does a great job creating a record that transitions well between ideas and themes, making it a pleasing release to listen through from start to finish rather than popping your head in for a song or two.