Gold & Thorns | With The Grain

 
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Family Average: 4.6/7

Well hello there all of you wonderful people. The Family is back with a new album with the help of some special guests.

In our family our house is rarely filled with just our small, modest family of seven. We usually have a few people hanging around, so it makes sense that as you read the opinions of our family members you also see other people hanging around in here. This week, the artwork is done by frequent-family-guest Serge "Dr. S" Ruccolo, and features a brand-spanking-new-guest, Megan O'Hora offering her words of wisdom. 

Gold and Thorns' EP, With The Grain falls under the "synthwave" category, a combination of both rock and techno. We know that some of the family loves techno, and some love rock and roll, so lets see if this album can bridge the gap!

Listen along on Spotify as you check out what we had to say:

 
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My first thought was that it sounded like you sunk a radio into the creepy cool parts of the ocean, and hit play on your favorite Indie pop station. The sound is both familiar and not to me...I feel like it's right on the edge of my usual music taste, yet with more pop than I'm used to.

All in all I could see it being great to float around to under some purple lights in Williamsburg, or on a run along the Hudson. Nothing to kick off your shoes about but a very nice exposure to something new for me!

4/7

 
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I feel like this is following in the footsteps of earlier Minimal Wave / Synthpop bands...? It even felt a bit Shoegaze-y at times, which I am always down for. The opening track, "Gray & Gold" immediately piqued my interest, and the title song "Gold & Thorns" served up some Human League vibes. The rest of the EP, however, felt kinda distorted and lost me a bit. I appreciated the mixed synths and drum machines, and thought the vocals followed the trebly melodies well, but found myself wanting it to be a bit ...clearer and varied.  That being said, repetition and distortion is sort of the name of the game in the whole synth world, so who am I to judge. Overall, it was a chill listen and I'd be keen to hear more from him.

5/7

 
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Papa Maldjian Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of this type of music so I may not be the best person to pass judgement, but here it goes.

With the Grain was lackluster and underwhelming at best. While its reminiscent of 80's music, its missing the purpose and dynamics that made many of those songs enjoyable.

The flow of the album seemed to lack purpose. All the tracks were just there, not bothering anybody and certainly not impressing anyone. They were afraid to go against the grain, just hanging around in background like music/noise. As such you could take it or leave it. I prefer to leave it

2/7

 
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The title track was almost too techno for my taste but then the vocals added the perfect quality to the song. They pulled me in and kept me interested and wanting to hear more.

The next couple of songs continue with that 80's feel, kind of like Simple Minds or a slower Cure song. The vocals on Cannonball were especially soothing, almost like Boy George back in the beginning, before he went crazy.  "Gold & Thorns" was my least favorite track. It never really got going and was sort of monotonous.

Overall, a very pleasant group of songs to listen to in my beach chair. I give it a:

5.5/7

 
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Here we go baby, back to the land of the tooting synths. Gosh I was starting to go through withdrawal. Ever since being introduced to acts like Glass Candy I always welcome synth-pop explorations with open arms. On the whole the EP plays well. Looking at it from start to finish, I would say it was better off sticking with the more tame kind of sound we get in the beginning. Towards the end stuff starts to get kind of cluttered and I really couldn’t handle it. The vocals, synths, and drums all sound good on their own, and are played with skill, so I don’t see the point in burying them in that much distortion. I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy this album because I really did.  A few parts that really struck my fancy were things like the weird “letdown” Radiohead reprise that popped up in the track “Cannonball”, the bass line in the same track, and how all the drums on the album felt they were used appropriately.

Keep on keepin' on my man. I’ll be looking forward to a full album.

5/7

 
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I’m really into the sound this band has going on. These tunes are perfect for chilling, day-dreaming or even a good drive out of the city. The soft vocals mixed with electronic/80s vibes, I dig. It makes for easy listening and feels elevating when you give into it– which is why I think it’s good for watching the sky. Overall, I’d say Gold & Thorns is music for dreaming – pop it on, lie on the floor, or in the grass if you’re lucky, and watch the sky to this. Clouds or stars – either will be great. "Cannonball" and "Drifting" are the juiciest in my opinion.

6/7

 
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This album has an 80’s synth vibe to it, like you’re floating in a static sea and the sunset’s made of neon blues, pinks, and purples and has a slight chromatic aberration. It’s a unique sound that’s got bits and pieces of different artists here and there, but combined in a pleasant way. It had that tech noise, but it wasn’t abrasive about it. The 80’s feel is the strongest in Drifting, but the next song “Cannonball” has a definite 2000-10’s style to it.

From the first bit of the opening song I expected it to be an instrumental album, so I was pleasantly surprised when the vocals came up. The softness of the faded and slightly echoed voices compliments the synth elements well. The only other synth stuff I’ve heard with vocals like this I think is Porter Robinson? But this album does it differently, taking an ethereal route rather than a robotic one. Kinda combining the organic with the industrial? I dunno it just works for me. Sometimes it can get a bit too processed, but not enough to detract too much from the quality. It’s engaging enough to listen to, but also passive enough to work as music you just put on in the background. Definitely curious to hear more.

5/7

 
Sean Maldjian