Sometimes when you’re done screaming your heart out, you need to take a rest from the aggressive sounds, and that’s only fair, because when the cathartic effect is done, you often have nothing left in you to be mad about. While indie singers are not prone to have hardcore projects, it’s not unusual to see members of hardcore/crust bands slowing down their musical adventures with more intimate projects. Some of them are going onto acoustic adventures by themselves, while others just tend to experiment with more ambient/post-rock sounds.
It would be impossible to list them all, so I’ve chosen six projects of hardcore-related musicians (mostly singers) who decided to slow down their sound. They are all worth listening to, and so are their original bands.
Banner photo: Bruno Fléchard
1. Throw Me off the Bridge
Let’s start with the multi-instrumentalist and incredibly talented man who is Quentin Sauvé. He is part of numerous bands from the French Hardcore scene, such as The Brutal Deceivers, Calvaiire, Hourvari and of course As We Draw (his main band in which he is the lead singer). So when he’s not screaming or delivering aggressive riffs for those bands, he takes his acoustic guitar and creates amazing ballads. With models like Dustin Kensrue (Thrice) or Dallas Green (Alexisonfire), it’s no surprise that he is successful in this range. He recently released his second album, called Blindfolded Traveler, available on Throatruiner Records – be sure to check that out, it’s not your average academic/generic solo project. When you listen to songs like “None of This” or “Someday,” you can really feel the passion he puts in all his musical projects. His first LP, Everlasting Folks, didn’t reach me as much as Blindfolded Traveler, but you should also take a look at it.
2. This Is Me
Do I really need to introduce Birds in Row? The French power trio made a great entrance to the international scene with their critically acclaimed LP You Me and the Violence on Deathwish Inc. Before guitarist/singer Bart could do featuring appearances on the albums of ’68 or Bastions, he briefly released an EP of ‘kind of’ acoustic songs under the name of This Is Me. While the project is not necessarily over, no new songs were released since 2011, the date when the EP This (song) is (for) me was released. If you liked “Last Last Chance” or the “Outro” song from the Cottbus EP by Birds in Row, you should really check out This Is Me. There is something about his voice that makes it sound awesome, because it’s not a clean voice, nor a purely screaming voice, it’s right there in the middle and it feels like no one else. For me, it’s a no brainer; you need to listen to it.
This one is not quite a band, and it’s not a solo project like the first two, but it doesn’t matter, does it? Plume is the singer of the crust band Direwolves, but he also have a great clear voice that he uses in this folk trio called Mohawk. They put out some peaceful and original compositions, combining acoustic guitars, thin voices and violins, last year they released their debut self-titled album, and it is definitely worth checking out.
4. Kurt Travis
I hesitated a lot on whether or not I should put this one here, because Kurt Travis is not per se a hardcore singer, but he was and still is in bands where he sang beside some screaming guys (Jon Mess in Dance Gavin Dance and Cory Lockwood in A Lot Like Birds) in the progressive post-hardcore branch. Anyway, he is an extremely talented guy who decided in 2012 to create his own solo acoustic project under his own name. I don’t know if all he has done is worth listening to for everybody, but his first EP Wha Happen? is very different from every other band like this. There is a taste of dream pop in his sound, something very sweet and reassuring; this is the perfect summer record, when you are watching the sunset, it just makes you feel good. Listen to Wha Happen? in absolute priority, and then give his other EP and full-length a try if you liked it.
This band is the reason why this article talked about “slowing it down” and not directly “acoustic projects”, because I couldn’t not talk about Alcest when it comes to this kind of subject. Neige (which means snow in French) was a guitarist for the famous/infamous black metal band Peste Noire, which has a very specific kind of sound (and still do to this day) that could almost be characterised as “medieval black metal.” Neige decided to part ways with them and became a singer/guitarist for other projects, like the German avant-garde band Lantlôs or the atmospheric black band Amesoeurs. I decided to talk about Alcest because it’s his most personal project, and the only one still alive to this day (Lantlôs still exists, but without him). The sound of Alcest is very difficult to explain, because it’s really an experience above all else – you need to be in the right state of mind to appreciate its full potential. The singing is very calm and the atmosphere merges elements of post-rock/metal and shoegaze, and as a result, you have a perfectly unique band that you could either love or hate, but that you should absolutely listen to.
You might have heard of them lately because Derek Archambault from Defeater needed help from his fans to afford a hip replacement, and in exchange we will have a new EP called Thank You by Alcoa. Although we’ve already seen Archambault at ease with the acoustic material on the Sleepless Nights EP of Defeater (attached to the Empty Days album), this is a whole project entirely dedicated to more easy listening songs. Support the guy, he’s great.