These City Limits
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These City Limits

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Pop music is evil. I don’t mean in the “destroying the industry” sense, but more in an infectious disease kind of way. Especially when the band is initially masked as something else. You’re lured in with clever and unique drumming and a darker chord progression than what you were expecting and now you’re captivated. However, the singer kicks in and, though good and intriguing, it’s the kind of vocals where you just think to yourself that he’s obviously trying to garner some mainstream attention. You’re hit with the chorus and there it is; the 4/4 drum beat and recognizable, yet forgettable riff and catchy vocal pattern. Then you black out and when you come to, you’re whistling the chorus as you walk out of your room, or car, or mom’s basement only to run back and press play again for the 18th time in the last hour (slightly over 3 minutes per song, the perfect pop length). You’re hooked (yes, that’s where the term comes from) and you couldn’t be happier about your slow demise into the realm of pop music.

Although the above scenario is what happened to me when I first heard These City Limits, I don’t mean to criticize their pop sensibilities. Their songs are anything, but forgettable and the vocals, though more accessible than most music I listen to, are definitely the most infectious part of the songs. Having been a privy to guitarist/vocalist Randy Vanderbilt’s musical output since the inception of his first band, Scarlet (back then they were called Blindfold Coalition and he was the drummer), I’ve been able to follow the growth of his musical genius through the years. These City Limits have a sound that is similar to The Dear Hunter, and though they have that prog rock kind of feel, they don’t really stray too far from the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song structure hinting at a Muse influence. Vanderbilt’s vocals are reminiscent of the aforementioned bands and when the choruses come in, the melodies sound like Finch’s later material. What sets These City Limits apart from those bands and other artists skirting the boundaries between pop and rock is that Randy hasn’t completely abandoned that dark Scarlet guitar tone. A few of TCL’s riffs would have fit right in with Cult Classic. Even the lyrics have similar apocalyptic themes. It leaves These City Limits’ music fresh without alienating the casual listener.

http://www.facebook.com/thesecitylimits
http://www.TheseCityLimits.com

Where They Started: From what I can tell, they’re a relatively new band with just one demo. Fellow Scarlet alumn, Andreas Magnussen, mixed and mastered the recordings.

Where You Should Start: It’s not quite the same, but I really like Scarlet and if you like These City Limits at all you should kind of move backwards through Scarlet’s catalog since their last record, This Was Always Meant To Fall Apart, did have the most singing on it. It’s all good to me, though.

Essential Song: Listen to the whole demo below. The first 2 songs are definitely my favorites. - Scrap & Scatter


The local Indianapolis band, These City Limits, have released this new EP and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it yet. This band brings a unique sound to the listener by giving them a hard rock/progressive sound with applying catchy choruses and dark yet melodic lyrics. Singer, Randy Vanderbilt, takes you on a rollercoaster ride lyrically and vocally. Vocally, he is very diverse, from singing beautifully in choruses to intensely screaming while still keeping his voice in melody with the music. I was very impressed on how he can take his voice to such a high octave without breaking form or feeling forced to do so just because he can. His lyrics for the most part are very clever and will keep you hanging on every word. I was very impressed with the lyrics ,”My imperfections are my favorite scars.” Guitar work on this release is very solid. Lead Jesse Curtis and rhythm Randy Vanderbilt complement each other very well and keep the music exciting. From melodic intros to aggressive choruses, they keep the music fresh and moving forward. The guitar work on tracks like “Failure” is simply amazing. I would like to hear more guitar solos from the band but the lack thereof does not affect the music at all on this release. Bassist Brian Nichols and drummer Adam Wilson lay down a strong foundation for the band to build on and coordinates with the guitars and vocals very naturally. The bass seems to be a bit lost within the guitar playing but the drums really stand out, giving the music a somewhat punk kick to it without being too overbearing. These guys are great songwriters and musicians; they give a creative approach to their song structures. This is a great release and I definitely recommend getting a copy. I’m very interested in hearing more from this band and look forward to seeing them live. SUPPORT YOUR ARTISTS! - The Network 317 / By: Ross Gonzalez


One of the perks (if not THE only perk) of reviewing albums is getting a free copy of a record before anyone else. In this case, Indiana’s These City Limits sent me their new EP before they even have a label to release it. It’s definitely a privilege, but I also felt a strange pressure just hoping that I would like it and not feel the need to say something negative. The good news for These City Limits is that my opinion of music isn’t shared by many. The bad news is that the self-induced pressure was relieved immediately.

The Modern Standard begins with a Muse-like piano intro that is met quickly with vocals that are very reminiscent of Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter. The song slowly builds with the addition of even more Muse influenced keyboards and then bursts open with buzzsaw guitars, hard hitting drums, and background screaming while maintaining the slow and eerie pace with which the song opened. Even though “Gather” is the only track on the EP that sounds like this, it definitely sets up the rest of the record as a prog-y pop rock release with some metal leanings.


“Empty Hands” accelerates things and gallops along as the fastest song on the record including a Dragonforce style power metal solo during the bridge. It is on this track that the pop formula of “verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus” is introduced and is a format that will be followed fairly closely on the EP from here on. This doesn’t mean that These City Limits are boring or unoriginal. They’re more like rebels stealthily infiltrating pop music. The next three songs are what I call the “meat” of the EP. They are the more pop paced songs with the catchy choruses. However, the title track is quite the contrary to anything pop with lyrics like “Blue eyes and blond hair were a false sign of purity. Nazi’s are reborn again and recruit through magazines.” The bridge, and over all theme, of the song do have a Marilyn Manson kind of vibe.

“A Different Shade of Red” seems to tackle guitarist/vocalist Randy Vanderbilt’s musical past. Randy was the guitarist (and, at the beginning, drummer) of the metalcore band Scarlet. He sings “I still bleed red, but its shade is turning bright.” The lyrics of the song seem to struggle between leaving the past behind, but at the same time attempting not to ignore or discredit it. The following song is my favorite of the “meat” of the EP even though I’m not a fan of the opening riff. Perhaps it’s the Campari of the track that just makes everything after taste that much more delicious. Definitely the catchiest of all the choruses as I found myself singing along to it even before I read the lyrics. The closing track has the same kind of uplifting feeling Axl Rose wanted Appetite… to end with on “Rocket Queen.” Wasn’t he from Indiana, too?

The Modern Standard was recorded by fellow Scarlet alumni, Andreas Magnusson, who handled a majority of Scarlet’s recordings, as well. Since Andreas is a drummer himself, the drums on the EP are noticeably crisp and tight, and just like some of his past recording work, the EP has the Magnusson stamp of an ever so slight hint of electronic static throughout. Quite frankly, the production is flawless.

Since I am more of a dark and dreary music fan, The Modern Standard kind of blew its load with me on the first track. However, this record is catchy, it’s well thought out and finely crafted with precision musicianship, and even the track order makes perfect sense. The Modern Standard makes it acceptable for metal fans to like pop music and for pop fans to experience the dark side.

Rating: 8.3/10 - Mezzic.com / By: Steven


Music is a daily way of life for me. When I have the time I surf around the ‘net from my home just outside of Syracuse and look for hidden gems. I find them all the time and came across this band on the Facebook page of author Rue Volley. The bass player, Brian, had posted something and was looking for a review and, seeing that is one of the many things that I do, I responded. I trust Rue and if she is someones friend, that’s good enough for me.

What happened next were some messages and email exchange, and from what I recall, was that after some initial looks and a listen, I wanted to hear and know more about an unsigned band out of Indianapolis that really just blew me away on my first listen. A lot of times it takes a few listens to warm up to a band, trust me, and even then you may still be breaking glass just to get away. Not this band.

These City Limits grabbed my ears in about half a minute. The first thing that came to mind immediately was 30 Seconds To Mars. They have a really full, melodic sound and vocals that take you on a trip along with the music. No three chords, screaming like you were hit below the belt sell-out with these guys. They know how to play, arrange, and add vocals that have depth and meaning. So, I wanted to know more and Brian was most ready to help me learn more.

Me-Are you guys signed? God damn man, what a talented band.

Brian-Wow, David, thanks! We are currently unsigned, and are looking for any help we can get, whether it's press reviews, getting our music in the right hands, etc.. We have probably 15 more songs other than that we could put out, we are just looking for a label to notice us.

Me-Who is playing the keys in there, I am reminded of 30 Seconds to Mars, who are your influences as a band?

Brian-Currently we are looking for one. We are using back tracks for some of the keyboard stuff live. I'd say some of our biggest influences are Muse, Deftones, and The Dear Hunter. But we listen to everything from Classic rock to death metal to reggae to punk.

Yes, it's true. Sometimes these things have conversations just like that! LOL! The band:

These City Limits

Randy Vanderbilt - Vocals/Guitar
Jesse Curtis - Guitar/Vocals
Brian Nichols - Bass
Adam Wilson - Drums

The guitars are driven, powerful, and melodic throughout with tastfully talented leads in all the right places. The drums add perfect blends of speed and power to enhance the highpoints of every inch of the music. The bass pounds out the backbone along with the drums, but adds in his own riffs perfectly. The vocals are rich, deep, and there are enough harmonies and backing vocals to put it all over the top and into "I need to turn this up now" mode.

Indeed, if the band has this as a first offering, the sky is just beginning to open up for them from what I have heard so far. You can check them out here. - Examiner.com / By: David Garlow


Discography

Self Titled Demo EP-5 tracks
Digitally Self Released Summer 2011 as Free Download
Recorded and mixed by Randy Vanderbilt at AWESOME!; Speedway, IN.
Song performed by These City Limits

The Modern Standard-8 tracks
Digitally and Physically Self Released June 2nd, 2012
Recorded and mixed by Andreas Magnusson at Planet Red; Richmond, VA.
Produced by Andreas Magnusson and These City Limits
Song performed by These City Limits

Radio Play Information:
Single 'Stars Align' has been in play on WRZX Indianapolis X-103's weekly Indy's X-Files show consecutive weeks since June 3rd, 2012.

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Bio

Made up of members from various musical backgrounds, These City Limits believes that musical boundaries are made to be blurred and genres to be melded. Although Rock/ Alternative best describes their sound, a pop and progressive following has been noted. Pulling fans from both of those seemingly different musical worlds is a very promising beginning.

Even though TCL was formed as recently as June 2011, they have over 45 years performance experience between the three members; Randy, Adam and Brian. From working with labels and management to booking their own shows and physically making their own merch, these individuals have come from different music paths which has helped to round and solidify the band.

Randy and Adam first met in 2004 through mutual musician friends, followed by working together on a few recording projects over the years. Brian, having previously toured with Randy during Spring '06, also shared the stage at shows throughout Indiana with Adam in '03. This made for a similar ground that allowed the group to turn out some initial songs quickly. Since then, the writing has not slowed down.

With a DIY approach TCL has managed to write and record over a dozen songs, release a free five-track EP, self-release their freshman EP The Modern Standard (8.3/10 mezzic.com), launch a radio campaign, rate in top 5 adds as an unsigned artist, and play over 20 shows. Looking to the future, a few more bodies will be added for writing and performance purposes. TCL intends to continue to build a team around themselves to succeed through managers and agents. "We are aware of the ever changing landscape that is the music industry. We are trying to find our place within that landscape through providing an experience at performances and creating connections."