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Review Tue Jul 19 2011

Review: Make Do and Mend/Heartsounds @ Beat Kitchen

With regards to a wide and varied assortment of past experiences, there are few things that spell out "summer" more than being pressed against a thigh-high stage in a dark club, breathing in air that's almost too thick to pass through your lungs and screaming along to whatever band is assaulting that stage with sounds and sweat. Last night, Make Do and Mend played the first non-basement show in Chicago proper of their five-year career at the Beat Kitchen and things definitely felt summery.

Before the East Coast hardcore pros hit the stage though Heartsounds, hailing from the other side of the States, played what could have easily been a headlining set. Formed after the members of a now defunct San Francisco-area heavy metal act decided to return to the core roots of punk rock, Heartsounds has been quickly fostering a dedicated following since the release of their debut album Until We Surrender last year. The band's sound is punk rock done right. None of that oversimplified three-chord nonsense. Guitarists Ben Murrary and Laura Nichol can shred and, after watching their set last night, that statement applies to both the record and the stage. The quick-fingered licks on bass and a sweaty massacre of the drum kit that the other half of the band contributed would have kept things sweltering in the Beat Kitchen even without the 93-degree temperature outside.

The best part about Murrary and Nichol? They've got some serious pipes between them. If Murrary wouldn't have admitted near the end of Heartsounds' set that he was sick, I doubt most fans in the crowd would have caught on. The back-and-forth vocals sounded great, despite Nichol's struggles to be heard over the mix. Although the band's reaction to audience members' requests to turn her mic up implied that this is a consistent problem for the frontwoman.

In short, if there was anyone in attendance last night that hadn't heard of Heartsounds before, it's unlikely they'll forget about them anytime soon.

If My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would not have happened, then Make Do and Mend's 2010 release End Measured Mile would have been my favorite album of the year. Sure, mainstream rap is a far cry from New England hardcore so it may not even be relevant to compare these two albums. However, they both share two elements that lead them to rise to the top of my iTunes "Top Played" playlist: the ability to push their musical arrangements past the normal conventions of their respective genres and sheer, and often brutal, lyrical honesty.

MD&M's set last night harbored the same raw passion and intensity present on End Measured Mile. Frontman/guitarist James Carrol's gnarly growl penetrated the venue with lines like, "These are the days that are putting wrinkles on my face, and I've been forced to admit that the slightest weight could bury me." Carrol's verses are poetic and self-deploring without succumbing to dreaded emo-esque qualities. The powerhouse rhythm section and seriously catchy guitar work of Carrol's melodic counterpart Mike O'Toole give MD&M's music the same urgency and dynamic that Carrol's vocals dictate.

The band blasted through songs off End Measured Mile - their first full length - including "Oak Square," "Night's the Only Time of Day" and the opener "Transparent Seas" - an interesting choice considering the track's staggered tempo. Their decision to backtrack and pull two songs off their 2009 EP Bodies of Water gained the biggest rise from the crowd.

MD&M blew through their eight-song set barely taking a moment to catch their breaths. What the setlist lacked in length, it made up for in quality and enthusiasm, even despite the undeniably uncomfortable temperature in the venue by the end of the night. It's all in a night's work for these sincerely humble, extremely grateful rockers as described on End Measured Miles' closing track: "I spent my night sweating through my clothes,
and screaming 'til my throat ached like burning coals." Here's to hoping for many more hot summer shows.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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