Artist Of The Week - Anchor & Braille

It's been about three years since we've gotten an album from Anchor & Braille, the indie side project of Anberlin's Stephen Christian, but this week, on July 31st, the band's sophomore album will be released. The Quiet Life is a collection of haunting melodies and catchy percussion, certainly a maturation of sound since 2009's Felt. The Quiet Life is available now in stores and online through Tooth & Nail Records.


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Artist: Pioneer
Album: Pioneer
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Label: Slospeak Records

Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana the band formally known as News from Verona, but now known as Pioneer has come out with their debut album on Slospeak Records, fittingly enough the album is self-titled. This album is a combination of soft-rock, and pop-rock goodness. Pioneer raw, energetic, passionate, and refreshing.

Musically the band is a combination of pop-rock and what I would call Relient K rock. I have no other way to describe it but it's that kind of soft laid-back but incredibly energetic and passionate music. You can tell the band has poured everything they have into this album and from the first actual song "Lights" it's perfectly clear the band decided they were going to make a positive, and highly energetic album. The energy doesn't let up throughout the album, it's constant pop-rock toe taping goodness from beginning to end. There's a cool little guitar riff running throughout the song "Treason" which I completely dig, and it proves this guys know how to play their instruments and they're not one of those manufactured pop-rock bands. There's also some slower acoustic driven parts to this album, one example the incredibly moving and touching closing track "King in Rags" that song ends the album on such a high note, you're left wanting more. There's a very good introduction track, which I usually hate, called "Clarity" which is a very cool start to the album. The band is more-or-less divided between the high energy pop-rock and the more serious tracks by an instrumental track called "Mantua", I don't really see the purpose of the track, other than to virtually serve as an intermission to the two sections of the album.

Josh Randolph's voice reminds me of the original lead singer of The Wedding, which is good because the voice compliments the music pretty well. Josh does make some rookie mistakes which the pop-rock staple "whoas" here and there, but they honestly aren't noticed too much because of the lyrics he is singing. The album is about reaching past complacency in our relationship with Christ and our everyday sins and reaching out for something more in this life. This message is clearly stated in the song "Reach" where Josh sings "We were made to be failures from the start/That doesn't mean we don't reach for something more than we are."
There's nothing really special about Josh's voice, nothing that when you hear him sing you'll say "Oh that's Pioneer" but with the style of music the band is playing he doesn't need to have that super original standout voice. His voice is strong, and carries well in the high-tempo songs, and excels in the slower songs. He does possess a good range, and an overall good voice.

Overall: Pioneer is a young pop-rock band, there is room for improvement, but at the same time there are a lot of things that the band does right. The album is very solid, and does have some staying power. There are songs on this album, that I listen to on a daily basis, maybe not the whole album but how bands do that these days anyways. The band definitely shows a maturity in the music, their vocals (especially the slower songs), and their lyrics which I find refreshing and an overall good thing for the pop-rock genre. The band doesn't fall into too many of the pop-rock pigeonholes and have made a statement that the genre can be mature, and actually mean something and stand for something. I think the band and their label are a good fit for each other, and with Slospeak's interest in developing and growing their artist this album could just be a stepping stone to something even better in the future, only time will tell.

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Tracks: "Treason", "King in Rags", "Catharsis", and Long Way Home"

Reviewed by: Michael Small

1. Clarity
2. Lights
3. Treason
4. Dreams
5. Whatever it Takes
6. Mantua
7. Reaching
8. Long Way Home
9. Better Days
10. Catharsis
11. Coming of Age
12. King in Rags

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