The Torn ACLs
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The Torn ACLs

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
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The band name thankfully isn't where the charm ends with the Torn ACLs (even if it is a hilarious and creative one)—they're simply one of the most solid and unpretentious pop bands in the Pacific Northwest. The LP they released earlier this year, Make a Break, Make a Move, is overflowing with gems that, in some preferable alternate reality, are topping the charts right now, particularly opener "Two Four Six Eight" and "Can't Say No to Friday," the latter being a dangerously infectious ode to the week's most desirable day. Hopefully the Seattle band will forgive me for being selfish, but I wish they would move to Portland so I could see them more often. They play the closing night of the inaugural Goat's Head festival, named for a SE house music and arts collective. - Portland Mercury


It's only the second day of being trapped in by the weather, but I'm already starting to get a little stir-crazy. The snow sure is pretty but my Vitamin D storage is running low. I'm getting anxious and even though there's work to be done, I can't concentrate long enough to be productive. Should I go outside? Should I watch Jerry Springer? Is there anything new on Reddit? Nope. Oh look, my cat is being cute!

My brain is everywhere.

Enter the new album, Make a Break, Make a Move, by Seattle's own the Torn ACLs.

The Torn ACLs will bring a little warmth while the snow and ice continues to freeze you in. They sound Death Cab meets Tullycraft—gentle harmonies, soft rhythms, and some keyboards all wrapped up in a cute package filled with handclaps and love. The songs are soothing, and while they might be a little too perky for my tastes in other conditions, the songs sound really nice right now while I try to fight away the restlessness that comes with cabin fever.

You can stream the new record in its entirety at thetornacls.bandcamp.com. - The Stranger


I’ve got a hunch this band’s record collection is at odds with their haircuts. Here it is 2008 and these geezers are coming off like they’ve been listening to 10cc, Kurt-Vonnegut-pre-sellout-era Ambrosia and other very arranged and cerebral pop musics that weren’t as populist as, say, the Cars or Pink Floyd on one end or as geeks-only as maybe King Crimson on the other. The quick and dirty pigeonhole would be to say these guys sound like Death Cab For Cutie, but the truth is more like a description of their music would read like a description of Death Cab:

* A non-macho vocalist who actually sings without sounding like he was stage mothered in a minivan to daily voice lessons before his audition for the New Mickey Mouse Club on his thirteenth birthday

* Very thought-out swells and valleys built into tunes that feature more than guitar, bass and some dude with black fingernails complaining

* Drum beats that manage to be “interesting” without being lame

But it’s 2008 and if these guys have any brains – which they must, or they wouldn’t make music that sounds like this – they simply cannot look even a bit like the bands whose records I suspect they inherited from a disturbed loner uncle (same dude who turned them on to Magic the Gathering). That or at least they should wear hats to hide the haircuts. That is, if they have any brains.

I’ve been spinning this on repeat as I type, and so far I don’t hate it. This is, I think, a good sign, as I’m pretty picky when it comes to what I blast on the stereo and I lack the virtue of patience. Plus I type pretty slowly so there have been repeated repeats – even made it through the third track (repeatedly), which breaks the six-minute barrier (not quite “Hey Jude” or “Stairway,” but I didn’t leap up from the keyboard to take it off either). And interestingly, unlike many bands following this general musical path, these guys aren’t all cutesy, like say Ween or They Might Be Giants. So I’m happily surprised that they can pull off this exact trick without blinking or losing their balance. But my curiosity is killing me. I gotta see a picture. I wanna know how you dress when you make music like this. I wanna see the haircuts.

- Easy Street Records


It's very infrequent that something has had such a strong effect on me and yet I've found myself unable to come up with something clever to say about it. That's what's happened with this tiny little EP, Cedar By the Sea by The Torn ACLs. Suffice to say I like it. A LOT!
It opens with the sound of applause then very quickly jumps into a rhythmic percussive clap. This is a rather novel introduction to a series of four very tight pop songs, each one containing a whole menagerie of techniques and instruments. From layered classy Rhodes' pianos to glockenspiels, all the way around to the singing saw, they never let the novelty of an instrument get in the way of what the song is about.
I think that's what left me so speechless with this record. It was about something. On their website they say: "Thematically, the EP mines a series of wildly overwhelming situations for answers and ultimately comes up short, both through detached observation and the sympathetic portrayal of poor saps who just went too far."
It's so infrequent that you hear a concept album with such a subtle and nuanced concept. They open with "Reputation", a call and response conversation between a gangster and his debtor - with it's rather hilarious simple lyrics "The check is in the mail" and "I'm gonna break your legs". The album goes on to study the theme from less obvious angles without ever losing that sad feeling of human failure. The Torn ACLs sing about a failed utopia in "Brother Twelve" and in the more mysterious closer "Obsessively Compulsive" they lament the famous disorder with droning vocals (it's somewhere between Howard Hughes and a serial killer).
I feel no shame in saying that this record has, in four short songs, rekindled my faith in fresh, smart, pop music. I should note that this is the first time as a reviewer for this blog that I've given anything a full 10 out of 10. And it's definitely worthy.
Rating: 10 out of 10

- My Crazy Music Blog


If you’ve ever pondered what album you should put on to sing-a-long to while taking a shower, then The Torn ACLs’ Make A Break, Make A Move is the solution to your dilemma. Every song has a catchy beat, and lead singer’s William Cremin falsetto pop vocals make the whole album perfect for shaking and shimmying–in or out of the shower.

Make A Break, Make A Move starts out strong with “Two, Four, Six, Eight,” an anthem that makes the listener want to rally for something, whether it be for peace, justice, or for no more homework and longer curfews. The album has a faster pace compared to The Torn ACLs previous album, Sympathy For Criminals, although Make A Break, Make A Move does feature a fewer slower songs like “Election Night”, “25 MPH” and “Emergencies.” The latter provides a nice break of piano in a synth and guitar-riff laden album. The soft clinks of keys mixed with a crescendo of drums build up to a momentous half-way point of “Emergencies” and provide counterbalance to the album’s high paced tunes.

The album has its share of highlights include the previously mentioned opener “Two, Four, Six, Eight”, as well as ”Just Don’t Crash The Boss’s Car”, and “Bass Drum.” “Bass Drum,” with the keys, crashes, and the constant shaker in the background, is a highly delightful song even if it is about a bass drum and how it needs help and what it sees. While “Bass Drum” is the shortest song on the whole album, coming just over two minutes, it breaks up the solemn vibe after previous slow[er] songs, “Election Night” and “Emergencies.”

“Bass Drum” also provides a great segue into “Just Don’t Crash The Boss’s Car.” The song is a tad reminiscent of older Blink 182 with its constant guitar strumming, heavy drumbeats, and rambunctious lyrics akin to “What’s My Age Again?”: “What’s it like to be in charge?/ Just don’t crash the boss’s car” and “You don’t want to be this company’s Achilles heel.” Cremin’s vocal cadence on this particular song helps mimic the upbeat melody while also bringing a slight jazz lounge feel.

The album features a varietal mix of styles and tempos that balance slow, waltz, peppy, pop, rock, and even some punk rallying. Make A Break, Make A Move is an album for all moods even if its suited for accompaniment via shower. - SSGMusic


When you first think about it, a band called the Torn ACLs just sounds painful by nature. It invokes images of nasty football injuries and crutches and surgery due to twisted and torn ligaments. Not exactly a peachy mental trip. But then you have Seattle's Torn ACLs who make dreamy pop-rock ballads that take you in a totally different direction. Ever since I first heard this band via the Sound on the Sound's music blog, I've been impressed with their infectious single, "Reputation."

With all of its fuzzy, syncopated hand claps, mismatched vocals, and surf-rock guitar effects, "Reputation" is hard to not fall in love with. The band will be playing that song, plus a whole lot more tonight at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard. Tim and the Time Machines and Man Rockwell are also performing. The gig starts at 9 p.m, it's 21& up, and admission is $6. That's a very recession friendly price. And if you haven't heard the song before, check it out below. - Jonathan Cunningham


Upon pulling away the plastic sheath and unveiling what came to be the latest creation of two young lads by the name of Will Cremin and Miles Ranisavljevic, one couldn’t help but be struck by the moniker bestowed upon this band. Images of athletes on crutches and long stints on the DL were conjured up, leaving me to wonder exactly what it was I had gotten myself into.

But as I placed the disc in its cradle and pressed the button called ‘play’, I was immediately taken away by a smattering of applause which right before my very ears was being slowly manipulated into a driving, percussive rhythm. An attention-grabbing intro that left me thinking, “wow…that was cool.” So, like with any good piece of art, I had no choice but to shed my apprehension, reach out my hand, and go along for the ride.

Let’s just say, I’m glad I did.

The EP/story begins with the track, “Reputation”, and it seems the hopelessly gambling addicted subject of this tune has finally reached the end of his troubled rope. His bookie has arrived to collect, and despite repeated attempts at stalling, the game is finally up. The call-and-response vocals drive this track, along with the stop-start drumming and a frenetic bass-line. The cheery glockenspiel notes ringing throughout masterfully taunt our subject, leading him to think things might, just might, be okay. Unfortunately, the antagonist here has a reputation to uphold.

Track two hits and……is that a Theremin I hear?? No, upon further research I discover its a saw being skillfully manipulated by Ranisavljevic to produce an atmosphere nothing less than, well, spooky. And when Cremin leans into the mic to implore, “if the nervousness doesn’t get you, I just don’t know what will”, many emotions arise, chief amongst them, paranoia.

The EP’s centerpiece, “Brother Twelve”, makes a statement right out of the gate with a pounding bass drum and a vocal narrative describing the history of a religious cult formed in the 1920’s in Washington state. It’s the detailed storytelling here that draws the listener in and the ‘loud-quiet-loud’ musical accompaniment that digs its claws in and keeps you put. “Obsessively, Compulsively” closes out the set, continuing right along with excellent song structure and just the right amount of something unexpected. Just when you’ve been lulled into a state of repose by an engaging Hammond line, a wall of jagged distortion reminds you that although the record has ended, the story has not.

The idea of a concept album is traditionally something only attempted on the sprawling canvas of a full-length LP. But in the case of ‘Cedar-By-the-Sea’, these boys have taken the phrase ‘less is more’ to heart. In doing so, they’ve created a piece of music that much like an addictive short story, is hard to put down. - Jon Peck


The Torn ACLs aren't a Tom Brady tribute band, they are just four musicians that have put together a four-track CD that features their smooth pianos and guitars & drums that all mesh together quite well. Another one of Seattle's numerous flying-under-the-radar bands, The Torn ACLs music features everything from wistful sounds to dynamic mood shifts, and there's no truth to the rumor the band's music has such an edge it burned down their house/studio on New Years Eve 2007; let's just assume the band, comprised of founding members William Cremin(vocals, guitar, keys) and Miles Ranisavljevic(bass, keys, saw...saw?), along with Chalia Bakker(drums) and Emily Westman(keys, vocals, gutar) needed a change of digs and handled it with a great deal of pyrotechnics. Seventeen minutes of music may seem like just a teaser, but the quality of the music is evident and we can only hope the band adds to it. I'll share my favorite track from the CD with you, the rest can be had over at their website (hover over the dots). Great stuff! - Chris


Discography

Cedar-by-the-sea (EP)
2008

Sympathy For Criminals (EP)
2010

Make A Break, Make A Move (LP)
2012

Real Risks (EP)
2012

Something About The Sky (single)
2013

Industry (single)
2013

Feeling With Feeling (single)
2013

Photos

Bio

The winter may still be with us, but with the help of Seattle's indie pop explosion, The Torn ACLs, things are about to heat up quickly. With four albums already under their belt, the group has decided to take a different approach when it comes to releasing new material. The Torn ACLs will be releasing a series of digital singles throughout the year, starting with the propulsive and synthy track, “Something
About the Sky.”

Each piece is unique from the next, without a defining thread drawn between them, though there are some similarities that make the collection cohesive. The upcoming singles continue in the band's spirit of polished, energetic pop, which they have been crafting over the years. With a knack for stellar hooks, each song is built up with buoyant arrangements, stacked with bright and crisp melodic ideas,
over an insistent and aerobic rhythm section. Ample proficiency and a danceable punch help create the band's intriguing sound, recalling indie pop phenoms such as Ra Ra Riot, with a scrappy energy evoking Born Ruffians, and the compositional quirks of Islands.

The Torn ACLs are William Cremin (guitar/vocals), Miles Ranisavljevic (bass), Jason Tabert (drums), and Tim McClanahan (multi-instrumentalist). Quickly becoming a hometown and KEXP favorite, the band is often called upon to open for both national and international acts. Headed to SXSW this year, the group makes their way down south, with tour dates in tow. This is only the beginning of their journey this year.