The Hero Cycle
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The Hero Cycle

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The best kept secret in music


"The Hero Cycle set to release EP"

Vermont indie rock/pop outfit the hero cycle will release an EP with Australian digital music label Hidden Shoal Recordings on January 16th. Formed in 2005, the group includes guitarist Frank Smecker (ex-Drowningman, Escapist). According to the label, the hero cycle "create a joyously large, textured sound coupled with complex arrangements to produce a feel that is at once spontaneous and measured. The band possess that magic combination of sound and song, pooling all the ingredients of shoegaze rock and indie pop and distilling them into undeniably catchy and driving tunes." - Lambgoat

"The Hero Cycle & The Digital Label Age"

Perth, Western Australia
With the term "digital music label" becoming used as more of a household term in the music industry nowdays even the punter's awareness has been raised to sites such as iTunes. What the average joe has not been made aware of is the quality and talent that is being released on our very own shores by labels without the intent of world domination such as Hidden Shoal Recordings. This Perth based label is my new favourite thing for the fact that they simply showcase some of the most tasteful, original artists without waving the 'record label' hat around yelling "wooooohooo we are an indie record label and we are making money from our artists". Their site is clearly set out with a pure love for music in mind. Streaming links for you to try tracks before you buy are encased in a simple layout that allows artists such as Chris Mason, CSR and most importantly The Hero Cycle to impress you with what they do best.

Bands like The Hero Cycle don't come around that often. Infact a collective would be the most accurate term used to describe such a band. Seven members, a whole ensemble of instruments and varied style make for an intriguing sound that bounces from the light and melodic, to a darker, full bodied roar. These guys from Vermont have just released "Lakes and Ponds", an EP that demonstrates across the board how much talent they possess. From the saga of "You vs Them" to the effervescent pop rock of "Lovers Crime" I was left licking the scraps off my fingers, hungry for more. The way that THC play their music doesnt need to be brought to a screaching halt with a 'classification'. Just know that you will be able to hear the enjoyment the band members get out of playing their music. - Sandwich Club

"The Hero Cycle : "Lakes and Ponds" E.P."

Burlington, Vermont collective, The Hero Cycle, are a 14-legged outfit and recent signings to the ever-expanding (and impressive) Hidden Shoal roster. Musically, this collective mix contemporary influences with some of the best bands from the past 15-20 years. There's a touch of Arcade Fire, a dollop of Broken Social Scene, while some of the tracks are peppered with experimental guitar work, reminscent of Sonic Youth. However, with the "Lakes and Ponds Ep", The Hero Cycle have created an ambitious little release that should be able to stand proudly, shoulder to shoulder, with the current indie darlings.

"Breathing In" gets this, short but sweet, Ep underway and gives a perfect introduction to this band, encompassing all of the key elements of their sound. The swirling Sonic Youth style introduction is augmented by drumming that is paying homage to Steve Shelley, while the vocals recall Lee Ranaldo's familiar tones too. However, it is the band's energy that shines through the most here, with the monolithic wails of feedback resembling a huge storm accumulating on the horizon.

"Lovers Crime" is a more optimistic number and displays The Hero Cycle's love of the subtle minor chord. The Broken Social Scene comparisons are most apparent here, with syrupy female vocals taking the verse, while swapping with male singing for the chorus. This is all soundtracked with jagged guitars and fast-paced drums. Its upbeat nature and excellent delivery makes this a classic example of an indie-pop song.

While next track, "American Proxy" doesn't quite hit the heights of the opening two tracks. "A New Love For Lakes and Ponds" immediately intrigues with its Arcade Fire style introduction. The fuzzy organ sounds, along with a driving rythmn soon pushes this instrumental into a massive, over-blown indie-rock explosion.

"You Vs Them" wraps things up on "Lakes and Ponds" and has being picking up a fair bit of radio airplay. It is not hard to see why, with a chorus that easily bores its way into your head, while the guitar interplay is mesmerising. It all ends fittingly, with a detonation of shoegazer guitars, as that catchy chorus blends itself into the music.

The "Lakes and Ponds Ep" brings together many influences, past and present. The Hero Cycle, however, have a knack of bringing their own unqiue burst of energy to the table, proving they have a superb handle of euphoric indie-rock theatrics. Get it here. - Boring Machines

"The Hero Cycle"

As I've mentioned many times before, my resolution this year is to get more into the local music scene. So far, I've been excited about what I've heard from Fire the Cannons, The Jazz Guys, Neil Cleary and Kyle the Rider. That trend continued this past week when I saw a blurb in Seven Days about a brand spanking new Burlington band called The Hero Cycle. Casey's description of the band is spot on.
I know it's tough to judge a band from just three "unreleased" tunes but I'm certainly excited to hear more from them. So, add THC to a growing list of solid Burlington indie rock bands.
From what I've heard about Drowningman, THC is a completely different direction for Smecker. The Hero Cycle reminds me a lot of Broken Social Scene with it's broad varied textured sounds. In fact, since I downloaded their three songs from their myspace site (which Smecker says will be on the debut EP they are working on), I've been playing them constantly. SOme of my favorite stuff at the moment. The other thing I like about THC is that they list an art designer as a band member. Nice artsy collective touch.
- - False 45th

"The Hero Cycle"

The Hero Cycle

Do you like Broken Social Scene? If so, you'll like The Hero Cycle. They're a new seven piece band creating that multi-layered textured sound that BSS has become famous for. They haven't released any albums yet but have a few songs available for downloads on their myspace page.

The Hero Cycle will be playing at Sin-e in NYC this Friday night. They are coming on at 8pm which will leave you with enough time to get over to Maxwells for that Serena Mannesh show at 10pm. Their current tour will take them down the east coast and through the midwest (including Indianapolis, Jim).
- - Extrawhack!

"New Band Alert!"

Anyway, there's another new group that I want to tell you about. Burlington's The Hero Cycle is something of an indie-rock big band, with seven members contributing to their multilayered sound. THC (how's that for an abbreviation?) features three guitarists, two keyboardists, a drummer and a bassist. Yet somehow the music never sounds cluttered.
Led by guitarist/vocalist Frank Smecker, the group combines shoegazer haze with yearning vocals and intricate arrangements. It's a bit of a departure for Smecker, who once skinned 'em alive as a member of on-again, off-again metalcore giants Drowningman.
-7 Days VT Weekly Paper - Seven Days

"The Hero Cycle"

The most exciting release I've heard in a long while is the debut EP by Burlington, Vermont's The Hero Cycle. I cannot say enough good things about their sound. They feel like an amalgamation of all of my favourite bands: Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, Built To Spill, Stars, etc. The music is energetic, enthusiastic, encouraging, and full of life. The first track, 'Breathing In', is explosive and contagious. You will feel compelled to hit repeat as soon as it's done, but I suggest you suppress that urge for now because the next song 'Lover's Crime' is just as infectious. The final track, 'You Vs Them' is completely epic in proportion. Masterpiece. The whole EP goes by way too fast and I really hope that these guys will be around for a long long time, because if they continue to improve upon each release, they will definitely develop into one of my favourite bands ever.

Since I've started this goofy little blog thing a few months ago, I've been introduced to a lot of good music and I've heard quite a bit of bad music also. I'm actually not too hard to please, but to hear something by someone new that really excites me these days, well, it doesn't happen as often as I would like it to. Please take the time to check out The Hero Cycle. With the right promotion they are going to be the next big thing and you'll definitely want to jump on this one nice and early. - itsnoththebandihateitstheirfans

"The Hero Cycle"

I love trolling myspace. I don't think there's a single thing outside of listening to music and trolling other blogs for music that I like doing more. Sooo many bands just waiting to be discovered there. Its quite a nice time for music fans, with so much available out there. It has its downfalls, though. Hours and hours of listening to songs that just don't do anything for you. But then along comes a band like Hero Cycle. And magically those hours all seem well-spent again. Hailing from Burlington, Vermont, Hero Cycle have a sound that's a little bit shoegaze, a little bit rock, and just a smidge of indiepop (but a whole lot of fun). It makes for quite a great sound when mixed together. They only have an EP out at the moment, but every song from it is worth two albums worth from half the bands I've listened to today. Here's a couple tracks to hear what I'm talking about, and if you can check out two more on their myspace right now, how cool is that? - Snow-Globe Universe

"Spotlight: The Hero Cycle"

The Hero Cycle is a small-town band with big aspirations - especially if one considers Burlington, Vermont a small town and believes that recognition, airplay and other perks are a lot to ask for in the independent music realm, particularly for a young band. Yet, The Hero Cycle has perhaps achieved more and propelled their imaginative blend of music further than many of their contemporaries purely through their ambitious, driven mindset. Singer and guitarist Frank Smecker explains: "A lot of bands get comfortable with being a great act in Burlington ... and then they don't push on any further. It really is about how much you care about your music, how much you want to do it and how much work you put behind it. You set a goal and you work towards it." Having recently released their first EP, Lakes and Ponds, through Australia-based Hidden Shoal Records, The Hero Cycle have, in drummer John Gorman's opinion, realized "it's time to spread our wings."

Along with Smecker and Gorman, The Hero Cycle's core members are Mike Prall (guitars and percussion), Tom Kelly (synth and vocals), and Charlie Gerry (bass). The group formed out of a need to explore their own creativity. "Initially, [Frank] wanted to go in a different direction than with what he was doing at the time, which was more aggressive music," explains Kelly. "We all listened to a lot of indie rock, and we all wanted to start something together." Hence The Hero Cycle became an outlet for a new kind of sound. All the band's members feel very positively about their music, a triumph in itself considering the band has been together just over a year. "We are relatively still young," Smecker explains, "and I feel like we are all pretty impressed with how far we've gone." His reasoning? Smecker puts it simply: "Everyone is involved" in the band.

With full input comes profound respect, which all members exude. "With our [separate] parts and with our performance," Gorman says, "there's certain freedom with each member to [go] in certain directions while maintaining the basic structure of the song ... It's focused." He remarks that each member keeps "individual freedom in each part." One would think this multifaceted approach would make for a disorganized cacophony. Yet somehow, The Hero Cycle gathers the elements together to create moody indie rock songs that possess both a poppy and electronic edge, such as on "Lover's Crime". At times, fuzzier vocals almost echo across the keyboards and distorted guitar - especially on "Breathing In." And then, perhaps as a reflection of the band's many contributors, The Hero Cycle changes it up and presents a rockier, bouncy sound with a jarring guitar riff on "American Proxy."

Clearly, pinning down a signature sound can be difficult. Smecker attributes the music's depth and intricacy to a certain level of concealment. "[We're] adding layers to [the music] so the average listener won't really pick up on the fact that it's literally three different interchanging keys," he describes. "There's so much going on within those little progressions."

While The Hero Cycle produces a phenomenal array sounds, there are obvious similarities between this band and Broken Social Scene. In fact, The Hero Cycle describe themselves as "Broken Social Scene meets Built to Spill" on their MySpace page. Yet both Smecker and Gorman are very quick to point out that their intentions are not to mimic influences. "We do have our own unique sound," Smecker states, "[and] as much as there are similarities to Broken Social Scene, it's only an influential similarity." For all their talk of inspiration and musical depth, The Hero Cycle seem to be very audience-oriented as well. Gorman explains, "[We aim] for joyous expression of our music, but it shouldn't be too deep, on some level, to grasp at a show."

The Hero Cycle has fully embraced digital distribution techniques, as evidenced by their significant success on the internet. "We are just as popular on Last.FM as we are in our hometown, which is kind of a cool thing," Prall says. "Now our home community is not only Burlington, it's online." Smecker emphasizes, though, that they still understand the importance of connecting with their global fans. "We've gone out of our way to email and thank them, and that just increases a personal relationship," he explains.

These nice guys from Burlington are currently heard from Toronto to Germany, yet they succeed in maintaining an honest focus in their music.

"Being in a band, it's a tough job to do," Smecker explains, but "It's what [we] love to do." In fact, he aptly concludes, "We all have a common enjoyment of what we do." - Northeast Performer

"Lakes & Ponds - pleasantly impressive debut EP from The Hero Cycle"

The liner notes seem to say it all: “Bravely written and delicately recorded by The Hero Cycle.” Bravely written indeed; this gang of seven doesn’t just hint at obvious influences like Built to Spill and Broken Social Scene, but beats what makes those bands great to a pulp and mashes it together into a sound that’s just as nostalgic as it is punchy and innovative. And as for delicately recorded, the production here is certainly astounding, allowing every song to flesh out while remaining crisp and focused, keeping every track sounding polished without sounding unctuous.

The guitars are at the forefront here, as The Hero Cycle’s three guitarists make economical use of only twenty-five minutes to layer upon layer every stray riff and hook they can find; try and imagine Built to Spill’s Perfect From Now On compressed to about half its size to get an idea of the sound of Lakes & Ponds. The first half of “American Proxy” is a minor stumble, as The Hero Cycle briefly veer dangerously close to Hold Steady territory, but Lakes & Ponds otherwise offers a collection of undeniably catchy songs about as urgent and energetic as they are melodic and melancholy. If anything, The Hero Cycle’s only fault here is that they clearly have far too many ideas to jam into a mere five-track EP; expect to hear an even more developed full-length LP coming from this bunch in the near future. - Avoid Peril


Lakes and Ponds EP -Hidden Shoal Recordings/Self Release 2007


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Hero Cycle started in the Green Mountains of Vermont in 2005, combining the varied talents of drummer John Gorman, synthist Tom Kelly, and guitarists Mike Prall and Frank Smecker (ex-Drowningman and ex-Escapist). Soon after, the band quickly grew, including fellow Burlington residents Charlie Gerry (ex-Virga) on bass, and third guitarist Adam Fuller (The Year's Best). Other contributing musicians include Hannah Wall (Magogs) on keyboards and Shawn Flanagan (Fire the Cannons and ex-Starlight Conspiracy) on bass. Thus, The Hero Cycle's unique sound has been shaped by the eclectic mix of energy brought forth by each individual member.

The band's sound remains solid, despite the unique influences of the many members, and hopes to continue a successful trend of interesting and powerful performances as well as recordings. Bringing years of musical experience to the table, the project acts as a creative haven for everyone involved. The music demands attention. For members tired of touring with uninspiring bands, The Hero Cycle's collective approach provides an attractive freedom. For solo artists, the band's tight arrangements represent the orchestration of symphonic sounds. Overall, The Hero Cycle shares their musical tastes and influences of the 80's to current day and emotional attachments to vice and pleasure with a hopeful ever evolving crowd of music-lovers.