I'll start off by saying I love the Felix Culpa and their style of "hard indie rock." I've been going to their shows for years and they are my favorite local band by far, and in my top five bands in general. Local or not, they rule and have a special place in my heart. With that said, I did my best to give them an impartial review.
I had begun to think I should have simply bought the new EP/DVD at the release show instead of pre-ordering for the extra goodies, but then I was saved when I found it in my mailbox two days ago. I immediately brought it back to my room and put the EP in. Along with the actual EP/DVD, anyone that pre-ordered recieved a small poster, stickers, and a password to a "secret" website with a few interesting downloads. Mostly they are just remixes, but their first EP is also available on there.
The EP itself weighs in at four previously unreleased songs. I had been lucky enough to hear them performed live, but I wasn't prepared for the beauty flowing through my headphones. From the first noises of static and palm-muting of "Quit" I was hooked. Marky's voice sounds as great as ever, backed by Joel's expert skills on the set and Tristan pounding away on the bass with occasional backup vocals and throat-ripping screams. After "Quit," we move seamlessly into "Good Business Moves," a song about imitation and conformity in the music industry, with lines like "The suits wear guitars, and supposed punks pose in front of their new cars, writing songs in their spare time." Near the end of the song we get a small taste of screaming from both Marky and Tristan.
It's still hard to believe that this music is coming from a three-piece, even after seeing them live.
"Commitment," in my opinion, is the high point of the EP. It's an amazing song about commitment (obviously) and relationships. Marky's style of dissonant chords and riffs topped with perfect harmonics make this song shine musically. Lines like "no one ever tells you that you lose your best friend when you make her your wife" and "my dear friend, if it's really love you've found then hold it high and love it more even when it lets you down" also stick out in my mind. The song closes out with Tristan yelling backup vocals of...
When it's good it's good and when it's bad it's still better than every single thought you had before you were together. When it's good it's good and when it's bad it's still better than every single night you spent before you ever met her...and flows into "Pain Is Weakness Leaving the Body" with more light riffs, riding on waves of delay. After the long intro, "Painā?¦" becomes the most aggressive song on the album. Marky and Tristan get to scream a bit more before the song drops back down to the original riff and ends.
The excitement is just beginning as I put the DVD in. On the DVD, in addition to the full show, they have a music video, an interview with the band and making of the EP, a teaser movie for their full-length, Commitment, some random photos, and home movies / tour footage. The home movie part is over an hour of footage with quite a bit of extra live footage from various shows. Other than the live footage, it is just basic touring randomness and "you had to be there" jokes that can get a little old, but they do a good job of spreading out the live stuff to keep it interesting. Some notables are a song from the last Twostepsback show and their full Cornerstone set. My only gripes are that I wish they had added more footage from local venues in Rockford (their hometown) and Beloit (their birthplace). The only acknowledgement is a single picture of them playing at The Pit in Rockford.
As for the full set at Knights of Columbus in Arlington Heights, I wish I had made the trip for that show. Haphazard Films did a great job of filming this set. Full sets can be a tedious thing to make a video of, because they can become boring after a couple songs from the same angles, but they do an amazing job of changing it up and synching everything with the music. Parts of this would make a better music video than the actual music video on the DVD. With rapid-fire changes along with the drums and some nicely placed split screen action, none of the filming appears repetitive. They also don't use the crowd as a crutch for breaking up sections. In fact, the crowd makes only a few appearances, and even then, it's usually just a quick pan or shot of someone rocking out.
In my collection, this is already my favorite musical DVD and the EP has already seen constant play from my stereo. Haphazard did a great job on the DVD, better than any of the DVDs I have from bands with much more money. Did I mention the art is also great, courtesy of Midwest Love, Marky's company? I even managed to spot myself in the DVD. If you haven't checked these guys out, you need to. If you have, then you should have this album.