Review : Living With Lions - Holy Shit
AbsolutepunkI suppose there are some people who crave stability (accountants, social studies teachers) – people who just want to know what every day will bring. We typically think of these people as being older, established, etc. And that’s fine for them, but is there not validity to a life spent randomly? It may not be the best lifestyle when it comes to raising a family or becoming a millionaire (unless you are Richard Branson). But there is a certain fun in the uneasiness. There is definitely adventure – and I think that’s what makes for the best, most meaningful pop-punk albums. Since most of the bands are young-ish, their's are tales of surprise and uncertainty. And I don’t mean surprise in that, whoa, he’s in outer space sort of way. I mean surprise in that, whoa, I didn’t see my life going this way at this point.
Holy Shit is absolutely a tale told in flux. And new vocalist Stu Ross (though not the main lyrical force behind the album) is quite the narrator. His gruff vocals begin the album’s inward-leaning themes of, “What next?!” with the lines, “I’m broken again / Shattered by consequence!” And yeah, Einstein, if you weren’t prepared for some youthful morose, then there’s something wrong with you and not Living With Lions. But a bunch of two-minute songs about broken hearts and shattered bottles wouldn’t justify that score over there you no doubt have already eyeballed. What makes Holy Shit different (hey, different enough) is the way Ross and the boys try to reconcile some of the "hardships" of youth. It’s not all problem, but there is clearly a search for solution and growth throughout some of Holy Shit's more meaningful songs (“Honesty, Honestly”, catchy-as-hell “Maple Drive is Still Alive” and bombastic closer “When We Were Young”).
But you know what? Screw all that. I could spend this time pretending this isn’t just a pop-punk album, but it definitely is. But I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that my vision may be clouded by how dead on this crap is with my life right now. And blah blah blah review – fine. Discredit me however you like, call me a person who may have given up on what a “review” is actually supposed to mean. But isn’t it just this, “I have made a connection with Holy Shit and here’s why.”? Isn’t that all any of this ever is? I have no idea what I will be doing tomorrow or three months down the road. I don’t even know what state I’ll be living in. I don’t say this for pity, but it’s just nice to know that, even in a vastly different world, there are people out there who feel like I do. Someone told me a quote the other day that made me think of this album, and it was, “Maybe we’re all doomed, but maybe we aren’t.” And I think that’s kind of Holy Shit’s message. Like on the alt-rock-ish “Wake Up,” when Ross screams, “I’m running / I’m running / But I can’t get out of here,” or when he breaks it all down on the Daggermouth-esque “Matthew’s Anthem,” with the line, “I’ll follow my misdirections,” we are reminded that life is basically, well, I have no idea. So good, fine, I won’t call this some sort of opus or landmark (though I belive this is by far the band’s most cohesive album). I will simply say, if you are a young person who is unsure or drifting by in any way, give Holy Shit a chance. Scream along. Feel better. Live your life the way you find most wonderful....full text
ReviewrinserepeatThough there has been a resurgence in the punk-rock and pop-punk scenes over the past few years, Canadian punk-rockers Living with Lions have been sliding under the radar with their brand of melody-driven, yet emotional punk rock despite the release of two solid albums in Dude Manor and Make Your Mark. A few years removed from the latter, the quintet returns with a tweaked lineup and a fine tuned collection of emotional, yet catchy punk that showcases matured songwriting and improved musicianship from start to finish. Holy Shit undoubtedly lives up to its title by cementing Living with Lions’ name in the list of current pop-punk buzzmakers.
It would be tough to call this the genre’s album of the year with so many good bands on the list yet to release their respective masterpieces (i.e. Fireworks, The Swellers and The Wonder Years), but Living with Lions give us plenty to love about everything they’ve tightened and tweaked since their last album. Hopeful melodies are woven through opener “Pieces”, as the band punches through catchy-as-fuck melodies and heartfelt vocals. ‘I’m falling apart from you’ rings from the upbeat, yet crunchy choruses as we get hooked into the guitar-driven assault Holy Shit serves front and center. “Regret Song” keeps the uptempo feel of the album going with solid drumming and carefully placed power-chords, a feel replaced with a slower, yet powerful bridge that is anchored by the slightly gruff vocals and buzzing guitars. “Matthew’s Anthem” gives us a mid-tempo jam with strong backbeats and bright flourishes instrumentally, leading us with powerful vocal lines into a melody-laden chorus. There seems to be a much better balance of these things on tracks such as this than opposed to the band’s earlier work. Maturity is a tough word to swallow with a title like Holy Shit, but these guys have certainly grown up as writers and created a new foundation that they’ll hopefully build on for years to come.
Not everything on this album clocks in at breakneck speeds. Or at least not at first. “In Your Light” gives us a vibrant, slower beginning to brood over until the drum blitz pushes us to the brink in terms of tempo. The back and forth of speeds further accentuates the contrast and proves just how far these guys have come in perfecting their sound. “Maple Drive is Still Alive” also fronts with a wall of guitars before breaking into an unrelenting punk rock number. ‘I told you some day, I thought we would recover’ new LWL vocalist Stuart Ross belts over slow, yet hard-hitting melodies in the chorus. It gets a bit formulaic after awhile, but it doesn’t sound bad at all....full text
BringonmixedreviewsI was formally introduced to the Vancouver pop-punk band Living With Lions when they released their freshman full-length, “Make Your Mark,” in 2008 through Adeline Records. My enjoyment of the record centered around the band’s uncommon melodic riffs and energetic punk. Since its release however, the band split ties with lead vocalist Matt Postal and bassist Shayne Lundberg, subbing in Stuart Ross (Misery Signals, Lowtalker) and Bill Crook (A Textbook Tragedy) respectively. The change doesn’t seem to have put a stop to the bands fun-loving and cheeky attitudes though, as we see with their sophomore album, bashfully titled “Holy Shit.“
The first thing you will notice about “Holy Shit,” besides the hilarious poo-implanted biblical album and inlay art, is the similarities in Stuart’s and Matt’s vocals. Both prefer to belt out rough shouts for their verses and then harmonize a softer singing voice for their catchy choruses. Stuart shouting, “This is a heart-felt fuck you!” to start “In Your Light,” and the surely-drunken diatribe of “Just shut the fuck up, you’re just a kid” from “When We Were Young” solidifies the comparison — as Living With Lions has aways had that “take-no-shit” attitude and style of writing — even with someone new contributing and Stuart’s vocals being a tad more rustic. With the usual addition of Chase’s backing vocals to the mix, the new vocal scheme has created a much more melody-conscience effort. Which is the next noticeable attribute. Where “Make Your Mark” focused on making complex, charged-up, punk, “Holy Shit” has (for the most part) chosen the more poppy, melodic route, which you can hear in the bands first single/video “Honesty, Honestly” — a song that has sugar-sweet layer guitar riffs and bumping basslines that seemingly mixes Four Year Strong and Transit.
Songs like “Maple Drive Is Still Alive” and “Mathew’s Anthem“ get the mainstream punk treatment, leading to faster paced tracks, busy with percussion, but it also makes the effort feel more radio friendly than its album counterparts by leaning too heavily on connect-the-dot riffs. Other than a few nit-picks though, the different direction Living With Lions has chosen makes for a charming cohesion of melodic and poppy punk. Some purists might see it as a double edged sword, sacrificing a garish genuine exterior that punk is known for — in exchange for a few more catchy tracks — but “Holy Shit” keeps its punk roots visible while rounding a few jagged edges. An addictive bunch of energetic punk songs at the very least, and a new horizon for Living With Lions’ fans to enjoy, at its very best. [Staff]...full text
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