sweetheart
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The best kept secret in music

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"Sweetheart: Art is Dead is Dead"

I have a flashback. We’re the end of the nineties. Years before, we wanted to change the world; we were freedom fighters, rebels. We wanted to fuck with the political system we lived in. But by the end of the last century, we realized that in order to change the world, we needed to change ourselves. And that’s where the emo part came in. Love, hate dreams and regrets were so hard to deal with that we didn’t even think about a change. The bad guys started to write fanzines back then. The good guys started emo bands. The good ánd crazy ones started screamo bands and totally freaked out on stage.

The four Sweetheart guys are amongst the good and crazy ones, playing screamo the way you know it from bands like Hot Cross or Off Minor, even Party Of Helicopters. Sweetheart formed sometime in 2003, when the four self proclaimed ‘art-nerd’ friends made the move to collaborate musically. This CDEP called “Art Is Dead Is Dead” collects the band’s out of print 7” (2 songs) and four previously unreleased tracks. The coolest part about this cd is the way it was recorded. The band sneaked into their university campus’ TV studio to record the songs, without permission. The four guys and the engineer holed up and hided from university staff for three days, with nothing to eat or drink but water from the building’s water fountains. Now if that wasn’t DIY and dedication! Needless to say this cd sounds a bit weird by times. Like a guitar that’s suddenly hard to hear and a voice that seems to disappear and stuff, but that only suits the sound of this band I guess and all in all it’s nothing to be too worried about cause the sound quality is definitely ‘ok’.

Basically this sounds like a quartet that’s driven by emotions. You can hear good drumming, 2 technically talented guitarists that appear to be dialoguing with each other, a bass and desperate screaming / singing about love, relationships and personal affairs. It has these agitated dissonant riffs that make me jump up and smack myself down to the floor in no time. By times this sounds way too simple to impress, two seconds later this sounds awesome and smart and makes my heart bloom of joy and sympathy for the luscious Sweetheart. At first listen this is a hard band to follow, some snoops later part of their songs sound catchier than Green Day’s newest hitsingle…

You got it: Sweetheart is a hard band to describe though they really don’t sound like anything new or special. For years now I thought screamo was passé with too many bands just posing, but Sweetheart kind of brought me back to the genre. I think that if you like Hot Cross, especially their first record, you’ll be into Sweetheart as well. But you’ll have to be open for it and shouldn’t skip this ep after the first time listening. It’s DIY arty you know, not really thrilling, but very dedicated, honest and sincere. Or at least it sounds like that…

“Art Is Dead Is Dead” comes in a layout that looks different than most other stuff which is nice, but nothing really extremely exciting. There’s video footage on it as well. That’s nothing really special either, except for the one on about their drummer playing drums on a live show while another guy replaces his bass pedal. That one’s funny. - Semtext Magazine


"Art is Dead is Dead"

Not bad at all. This CD EP contains the band's self-titled 7" plus four new tracks, and the style is basically a screamo/indie kind of thing, but rather than taking an overly frantic and caustic direction, the playing is in fact much tighter and more methodical. The riffs are both melodic and at times acerbic, jumping from layered dual guitar runs with biting distortion to interesting melodic chords and heavier rhythms or jangly clean guitars, while the vocals are somewhat plain and soft midrange singing that provides an interesting contrast to the music. "Oh – Snap/Martyr Monday" gets a little heavier and more intricate with its riffing, bringing in some fierce screaming vocals at points, and makes for my favorite track of the disc; while "Don't Flatter Yourself, I Just Write Songs" is shorter and brings in more melody, plus some spoken vocals for added variety. "This Song is About Arms" kicks up the volume and energy massively at times, with sick screams and some straight dual guitar harmonies that come as a surprise. Closer "I Truly Love You But I Cannot Sing…" has some chunkier picking patterns and more rhythmic intensity, remaining instrumental for its duration, which is odd as it's the longest piece – but it's also a true standout. The recording is really nice for this style and sounds consistent across the board, so I'd guess everything was recorded in the same session. The rhythm section sounds natural and packs a punch, the guitars are clear without sacrificing their dirty bite, and the vocals are expertly mixed – especially in "Fast Times at Right Now", where the vocals pan around and sink deep in against the instruments. It's not a polished sound of course, but it is a bit clearer and more rounded out than many. The layout is printed entirely on matte paper with simple high contrast imagery and tiny text, using few colors to keep things as minimal as possible. The arrangement is quite atypical, with the tracklist on the front cover and the lyrics on the back, etc., but everything definitely works. The lyrics are personal and whatnot, but for once I actually enjoy the bitter sarcasm they've got going on: "I truly love you but I cannot sing, and yes I could scream your name as loud as I've wanted, as loud as I should, but my band is far too small for anyone to hear it anyway." The CD-Rom portion of the disc contains several live performance videos shot at a few different shows. The footage is pretty consistent in audio/video quality, with slightly muffled sound and fuzzy images, but it's not so bad, I've certainly seen worse. It's funny, I'm usually not that into this style, but several bands of this nature have won me over in the last month or two. This is pretty damn good, and I'd like to hear a full-length from these guys for sure.
- Aversionline.com


"punkrocks.net"

Very few local bands ever impress me, and I’m skeptical about the ones that do because usually it’s a band that I have a connection to in some way. I was definitely skeptical about this band the first few times I heard them for that reason. Then I realized that, while I thought this disc was good, it didn’t blow me away; at least not the first time. I have a very set process in which I review an album. I’ll get it, usually in the mail, and then I’ll listen to it once skipping tracks just to see if it’s worthy of listening to all the way through (I didn’t mean that to sound pretentious, but I get a lot of albums that are just people using pro tools/garage band and distortion without any musical ability at all). Anyway, after I deem the album worthy of time then I will listen to it as many times as it takes until the words flood into my head. I think I listened to this album 10 times in a row last Saturday, and according to iTunes I have listened to it a total of 15 times, going on 16.

At first I had some problems with this album: the vocals seemed a little off, sometimes the guitar parts seemed overanalyzed, the intro riff sounded nu-metal as fuck, and it just seemed like too much thought had gone into it leaving this CD sounding overdone. Yes, there is such a thing as being a little too mathy. Then I listened to it again, and the strained vocals started to grow on me and fit a little more. The overly analytical guitar riffs seemed to blend into the spastic drumming a little better, the nu-metal riff ends after like 5 seconds, and all of the musical chaos going on started to just sound like well composed songs. The more and more I listened to it, the better this CD got until I was singing the melodies for days, which is a feat for an album I originally found to be less catchy than my grandma singing church hymns (That’s an overstatement, but originally I didn’t find it to be too catchy).

This album does an excellent job of breaking off with the cliché and getting down to old school intelligent screamo the way it’s meant to be played, with a lot of emotion. These guys aren’t breaking down and crying on stage, but I can definitely see them screaming bloody murder into a guitar pickup. The drumming is hard, varied and talent driven, no basic blast/punk rock beats here. The guitars and bass all become complimentary in the sense that they need each other. This band could not exist as a 3 piece. The lyrics are well thought, intelligent, intensely descriptive and relatable. Each track carries its own unique addition to the album. Such as in Don’t Flatter Yourself, I Just Write Songs when Bryan’s vocals remind me a lot of Bob Nanna from Braid. At least that’s the name that came to my mind first, I couldn’t place it with any certainty, so this part of the review may change. The greatest aspect of this record has to be the harsh screams. Each one sends a rush of adrenaline through my body, and I’ll admit that gives me goose bumps. Very few bands can pull that off, let alone a local band. I feel privileged to be from the same town as this great bunch of guys.

Overall, this disc may have what it takes to make it into my top 40 of 2004, whenever I post it. If I haven’t given you a sufficient idea of what this band sounds like, think Hot Cross with a few more spoken style vocals and you get a basic idea of what this band is bringing to the table. I hate using comparisons like that because I don’t want you to think that this band is a derivative rip-off. This band is full of talent and promise. I have seen some of the newer songs that aren’t on this record and they only show maturation, but in a sense of continuation. You can hear some of the new tracks on the video enhanced portion of this CD. Check these guys out, I never lie to you. Besides we all know how much I love gang vocal parts. ART IS DEAD! IS DEAD!
- brandon elliot


Discography

s/t 7" (self released)
"art is dead is dead" cd/ep (the perpetual motion machine records)
split cd/10" w/ take down your art (ever records/tin cans and twine records)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

sweetheart is a loud post-hardcore band from kent, ohio that formed in 2003. we play aggressive but challenging music and pride ourselves in our work ethic. in the past 2 years we have been on 4 tours, released 3 records and have our debut full length slated for release in winter 2005.