Courage Pills
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Courage Pills

West Chester, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

West Chester, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Rock

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West Chester, Pennsylvania natives The Courage Pills have the right idea. Formed just two years ago, they already haunt the clubs and venues of Philadelphia with a sound that is steeped in punk rock energy and a pop-hook driven musicality that’s bound to make the most cynical critic look up and take notice. The Courage Pills are no slouches as musicians either, with lead guitarist Michael Schramm featured in the March 2007 issue of Guitar Player magazine. Despite the recent loss of their original drummer, The Courage Pills continue to weave great pop/post-punk tunes in the same vein as Graham Parker’s former backup band, The Figgs. The Courage Pills sent along a seven-song demo entitled The Courage Pills. Let’s take a look.

The Courage Pills open with Way Down, an Americana flavored tune with an underlying punk sensitivity. The song is incredibly catchy with a bit of a garage sound to it (as if it were a live recording, which it may be). Open Our Eyes is a live recording, and is another incredibly catchy creature. The Courage Pills ride a big guitar sound and an almost Jim Morrison style vocal here to a bit of pop/punk nirvana. The melody will not escape you, recurring in your brain until you want to stomp on it. It’s infectious and a lot of fun. Cut Back The Lawn heads for Americana territory again with a surprisingly smooth sound offset by electronic voice box supporting organic vocals. The arrangement here is wonderfully smooth and high brow and shows The Courage Pills broadening their range of sound.

Cemetery Song has a manic, almost new-wave sound to it. This is perhaps the song with the greatest commercial potential on the demo; although the vocal/guitar mix is very muddy and should be clarified (vocals and guitar are at the exact same level, meaning the vocals become lost at times). Cemetery Song carries the same sense of pop hook wonderment mixed with the frenetic punk energy that underlies much of what The Courage Pills play, and is thoroughly infectious. Dumptruck is a little more driven, sounding a bit like early Figgs material. Swan Song is a glorious romp with big guitars and an almost Pearl Jam style pomposity. For alt-rock fans, Rabbiteater is the song you come to the Courage Pills for. Easily their most complex composition from the material here, Rabbiteater shows a band jumping to the next level artistically. This particular recording is rough, but shows the distinct potential of the band as a future entity.

The Courage Pills are a young band at a crossroads. The first real personnel change is just behind them, and they show the restless tendencies of a band just starting to take wings and find its true voice. It’s generally within the next year that they’ll either explode into the band they’ll become or implode into a mass of good intentions and lost potential. If I were a betting man I’d pick the former. The Courage Pills mix pop and punk in a style reminiscent of Ben Folds, and there is a real hunger for great Rock N Roll out there right now. The Courage Pills could be part of the answer.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5) - Wildy's World


West Chester, Pennsylvania’s The Courage Pills garnered critical praise from us for their 2008 self-titled debut EP last year, and have been haunting clubs on the Philadelphia scene for a good three years now. Not ones to rest on their laurels, the band returned in late 2009 with their sophomore album, Ancient Headache. With a Post-Punk pastiche that has both singer-songwriter and Pop veins running through it, Ancient Headache finds the Courage Pills stepping forward into a brave new world and developing their sound.

Ancient Headache opens with Swan Song, a rough-around-the-scenes acoustic/electric alt-Rocker that is surprisingly catchy. Swan Song is a great opener. Memory is a bit off the beaten track but is built around a wonderful hook in the chorus. The song is catchy enough to stay with you and novel enough to real get in your brain and haunt you for days. The Courage Pills kick over a healthy dose of Post-Punk rock on Cemetary Song; another surprisingly catchy tune that might make you want to dance just a little bit. Open Our Eyes finds the Courage Pills hitting a bit of Pop/Rock gold. The chorus is infectious, the song danceable and the musicianship is top-notch.

Courage Pills get a bit darker and less accessible on Broke and Dumptruck. The energy level of the band remains high, but the distinctive Pop sense that runs through the first four songs on Ancient Headache takes a breather mid-album, returning on the wonderfully earthy Way Down. This is the sort of song where you just close your eyes and surrender yourself to the gentle swaying rhythm. The melody is brilliant even if the lyrics might be a bit disturbing for some at times. Ancient Headache closes out with the dark and moody Get Out And Play, a mildly catchy yet disaffected tune that seems like it would be a hoot done live. There's a lot of room for instrumental mischief in this tune, some of which is realized on the album, but the jam possibilities are endless on-stage.

Ancient Headache is intriguing; the Courage Pills takes risks and move forward from their 2008 self-titled EP. Most of the material on Ancient Headache ranges from interesting to compelling, and a real Pop sensibility wends its way through the album. There are a couple of rough spots, but it all works out in the end. - Wildy's World


I used to wish that there were bands for adults like those silly kids' songwriters who sang songs about being as tall as trees and having friends so that you could hold hands. If I was a flower growing wild and free, all I'd want is you to be my sweet honeybee... You know, those goofy rhymsters who sing like Sharon, Lois, and Bram? Half of the Courage Pills' repertoire is my wish come-to-life, you can listen to “Way Down” or watch a live version they did at The Note back in April, and it feels like an adult version of The Elephant Show.

Simplistic lyrics and melody describe the majority of their stuff, but then one of the lead dude singers starts yelling and there's a rockin guitar solo (GNR/Aerosmith-esque, a bit) to keep you on your toes and remind you they are not R-rated Barry Louis Polisars; they are alt-rockers from West Chester. And when that happens, that's when Courage Pills get their Buffalo Tom on and happy sing-along time is over. They start rocking tunes about being grown ups and having crappy jobs and boring lives, paying bills, losing women, and so on. Track titles like “Broke,” “Memory,” “Cut Back the Lawn” and “Get Out and Play” almost qualify Courage Pills as the raddest-sounding nouveau-dad rock of 2009. Haha, dad rock. Makes me think of disgruntled homeowners in pop-collar Lacoste polos rocking out to Slayer. Even the name, Courage Pills. Courage pills for what? Matrimony? Monogamy? Child-rearing?

The reason for the season(al) show is the release of their new album, Ancient Headache, out on the 19th. (Ancient headache? That's another term for migraine. Okay, maybe they are dad rock, i.e., the 21st century equivalent of Stone Temple Pilots. Like Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder is the ultimate dad rocker. I can see these guys playing live shows with tots in baby Bjorns around their necks. Whatevs, that's awesome. Just no jumping around.) Courage Pills join the ranks of other gritty-sounding Philly-area bands that keep making the live music scene in these parts a bumpin' good time. The album's tracks will make for a groovin' live show, I am sure of it. I dare you not to bounce around. Preferably without baby in baby Bjorn around your neck. Those little heads and ears are fragile, you know! - Bits and Watts


www.dammagazine.com - DAM Magazine (Brooklyn)


Discography

Our music has been on two compilation CDs arranged by Milkboy Recording and L-Cast Records and was recently chosen to be on the Millennium Music Conference's 14th Annual compilation CD. Our first full-length album, Ancient Headache, was released on December 19, 2009.

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Bio

The Courage Pills are an alternative rock band from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Their primary song writing focus is a guitar-driven, keyboard-laden, pop attack that is raucous and loud, yet elegantly structured. Think of an angrier Lemonheads or Eels. Their repertoire consists of a dark, powerful mixture of melody and urgency complemented with major chords and ear-pleasing harmonies. Throughout all the Courage Pills’ music the same idea is constant: the artistic display of erratic emotions.

The Courage Pills' lead guitarist, Michael Schramm, was featured in the March 2007 issue of Guitar Player magazine for his original song, "Dakota."