REVIEW ROUND-UP: Brutus, All Ears Avow, Jetski

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Unison Life

The thing that’s become most noteworthy about Brutus with their continued exposure is that you really need to be in the right mood to get the most from them. They aren’t a band for whom a passive listen does that much good, because there’s so much there in their succinct blend of sounds worth exploring, the majority of which comes from a deep dive in. That’s just as true of Unison Life, in which Brutus are now three for three when it comes to owning their unique space in alternative music.

Once again, they’re immaculately thoughtful when it comes to how this is pieced together. The fluidity and eschewing of rigid boundaries has always served Brutus well, now especially as they dive deeper into post-rock, post-hardcore and even textures of blackgaze on Dust and Desert Ruin. The grand sound they carve out rushes and envelops, but doesn’t lose sight of just how much detail ultimately elevates it. It’s where Brutus’ setup of not having a singular standout contributor pays the greatest dividends; Stefanie Mannaerts could fit that role, especially with the legroom her drumming is given, but the decision to have her ragged vocal pickup further into the mix seems deliberate, as it meshes and bleeds into the powerful, cleaner guitars and bass on Victoria or Storm.

The onus of building a body of work rather than a collection of songs is clear; for as highfalutin as that statement can feel, it’s the most appropriate course of action for Brutus to take for the sort of band they are. Explicit hooks aren’t something that really suits them, and they’ve embraced that while still hitting dramatic swells that always sound colossal. What’s more, when anchored in the ‘unison life’ concept of escapism, it brings forth the options for Brutus to temper themselves with more barren, lucid sounds; the opener Miles Away is a perfect case of that, as Mannaerts’ voice echoes among the cavernous mix, gradually being chipped at by inclement guitars, and finally smashed through by the pounding drums of Brave.

The crucial part, however, is that nothing ever feels lost or tossed aside on Unison Life. It’s one of the great things about Brutus—their ability to constantly grow and metamorphose around everything they have, rather than limiting themselves in any way. If the aphorism of ‘unbridled creativity’ is overused (and it is), Brutus are the holders to whom no other phrase could be more sufficient; it’s not like that’s not a known fact already, but Unison Life is just a timely reiteration if needed. Brutus are great as always, so dive right back in.

For fans of: Rolo Tomassi, Deafheaven, Birds In Row

‘Unison Life’ by Brutus is released on 21st October on Hassle Records.

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All Ears Avow

Feel The Push

It feels like it’s been forever since All Ears Avow released new music, which has only been exacerbated by the fact that they’re still nowhere near as big as they should be. They’re the sort of band who could easily sidestep trends for how undeniable they are, bearing an ear for melody that would make Paramore jealous, and coupling that with pound-for-pound density and groove of Don Broco at their best. In other words, they’re a pop-rock band engineered for tremendous success; it’s been true from the beginning and remains that way now.

There’s not a hint of rust or fatigue on Feel The Push to speak of, as All Ears Avow launch right back into business with aplomb. If anything, the reinvigoration they show really leaves a mark in terms of an already slick, punchy focus that’s only more so now. It’s the rhythm section that holds its own superbly in hammering out the bass rolls and drum hits of Hero or Be That Nothing; on the other hand, Asleep At The Wheel irons itself out as a colossal arena-rock hit, zeroing in on All Ears Avow’s metric of power that’s astoundingly consistent as always.

They remain pleasantly free of any watering-down too, a factor that’s always given then significantly more zeal than plenty of their peers, and continues bringing out a meatier sound when the title track allows its guitar to really roar. Claire Sutton similarly has the impressive vocal fortitude to match, throwing out these enormous hooks as if it’s the simplest thing in the world. It’s all suitably framed around the never-ending global turbulence that’s disappointingly become just part of life, not exactly incisive in its commentary but doing enough with broad, powerful blows to more than make up for it. They’re triumphant in pop-rock to a degree that most just can’t attain; that’s always been true and it’s not shifted by even an iota.

If you really want a criticism, Body Move Interlude is a bit of a perfunctory space-filler (this is being called an EP but there’s nine tracks on it already), but for everything else in All Ears Avow’s favour, that’s nothing. They’re as efficient as pop-rock bands come, with borderline perfect balance in their sound and production, and a knack for churning out constant turbo-bangers like it’s no one’s business, with this perhaps being their most decisive example yet. Can we just make them enormous already? There’s literally no downside to it.

For fans of: Don Broco, Paramore, Deaf Havana

‘Feel The Push’ by All Ears Avow is released on 21st October.

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For The Family

Just like Beauty School a few weeks back, Jetski come bearing what’s starting to feel like a much-delayed—but ultimately welcome—assuaging of the 2010s’ trope of the ‘local pop-punk band’. To be fair, said trope really doesn’t have any steam anymore, but at least for bands like this who can nominally fit in that box, the output is far preferable. The more direct comparisons to Beauty School aren’t unfounded either; Jetski fit roughly the same profile, in pop-punk open to the more earthen tones and intricacies of emo, and thus feeling much more lived-in.

At least, within just three tracks, that’s the impression that For The Family gives. Not exactly a comprehensive listen, to be sure, but there’s enough here for Jetski’s bright spots to punch through sharply anyway. Joey And Zoe is its succinct standout, the most obviously catchy and poppy track on the EP that brings its skipping guitar licks and sweet yet organic tones to the fore, in what’s easily Jetski’s warmest, sharpest moment. In turn, Jack’s Song and Curbside are more deliberate slow-burns, where the fizz has calmed down but Jetski’s propensity for a great crescendo is put on full display, especially in the latter.

They’re just good songs, really, and show the multiple sides of Jetski’s oeuvre as well as such a brief listen can. They don’t feel like a band who’ve compartmentalised themselves too early within their scene; unlike a lot of bands of their stature so blatantly stitched together from their influences, Jetski present as one who aren’t bound to the hometown circuit. Sure, the songwriting has that general feel for now (even if it’s far from the most egregious example), but the precociousness implies a lot more to come. Keep an eye out, and don’t be surprised to see Jetski speeding along sooner rather than later.

For fans of: Beauty School, ROAM, Coast To Coast

‘For The Family’ by Jetski is released on 21st October.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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