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The Bell & the Hammer

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Album Review

The second album by suburban New York quintet This Day and Age comes across as post-rock's answer to Coldplay and Keane. This is not the insult it might appear to be at first blush, because The Bell and the Hammer does something surprisingly few albums in this style are able to achieve: these songs fuse atmosphere and style with substantial pop song hooks in a way that diminishes neither side. Kelly Sciandra's fluid piano is at the heart of the band's sound on most of the album, but guitarists Mike Carroll and Jeffrey Martin support the keyboard parts with varied guitar lines that alternate between driving rhythm parts, melodic leads, and the judicious use of moody near-ambient drones used as counterpoint for Sciandra's strong melodic sense. So far, that sounds suspiciously close to the Autumns or any number of other low-key post-rock acts, but the difference is that This Day and Age have a better than average knack for writing compelling choruses, catchy hooks and strong vocal lines, which Martin delivers with considerably more confidence than the usual weedy indie-boy simper that so many similar bands feature. As a result, "Sara, Poor Sara" and "Walking Contradictions" are genuinely great pop songs that happen to have complex, atmospheric arrangements. Fans of Pablo Honey-era Radiohead will love this.

Biography

Formed: 2001 in Tonawanda, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Finding the middle ground between the experimental atmospherics of post-rock outfits like Sigur Rós or Godspeed You Black Emperor! and the crisply produced, melodic pop of Coldplay and Keane, Buffalo, NY, quintet This Day and Age blend atmosphere and style with substantial pop song hooks in a way that enhances both elements of their sound. Formed in the Buffalo suburb of Tonawanda in 2001, the lineup features singer and guitarist Jeffrey Martin, guitarist Mike Carroll, keyboardist Kelly Sciandra,...
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The Bell & the Hammer, This Day & Age
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