Copley Woods “Sightings” EP review

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Copley Woods / Sightings / January 2018
RIYL: Alexisonfire, Senses Fail, Appleseed Cast
“Plena est omnis circulus” – it’s Latin for “Everything comes full circle.” The music industry knows exactly what I’m talking about. Remember when video killed the radio star? How about when CDs killed vinyl records?
But these days, you’d be hard-pressed to find much in the way of music video stardom or a place where you can even buy a physical CD. Vinyl made its comeback and enacted revenge on the CD in the same way that Pandora and Spotify have pushed the music video to the side (at least in the traditional VH1/MTV sense). Full circle. Despite all that – and this is a bold declaration – there’s one thing that will never go out of style: the garage band. And no, Li’l Skrillex in the making, I’m not talking about the recording software.
Copley Woods are a young band from Philly making post-hardcore music fit for the floor of a hall show, a basement party or – you guessed it – a suburban garage. That’s the biggest compliment I can give a young band still proudly clinging to a genre that, arguably, hit its peak 10-15 years ago. Their debut EP, Sightings, sounds like it was recorded in one of the various venues listed above. It’s raw but tight. Demanding but not exhausting. Most of all, it’s a reminder of how much fun this all can be. Musically, there’s nothing mind-blowing here. In these five short songs (the whole record clocks in under 15 minutes), they establish a predictable formula of fast-and-loose balanced with melodic decrescendos, and they stick to it. This is showcased perfectly in the frenetic opener, “Mirage,” which wastes no time starting a pit in listeners’ ears. A few tracks later, they pull the opposite approach with nearly three minutes of Appleseed Cast-esque instrumentals before vocals finally kick in to close things out on “Emotion Engine.” An odd choice for the exact middle of an EP, but one that ultimately works because they keep it interesting. This is due largely to drummer Keenan Lyons, who showcases his undeniable dynamic ability behind the kit. The opposite of a frontman, he still manages to take charge and lead the band into battle not just here, but on the entire record.
I, like most kids who grew up in the early 2000’s scene(s), have become rather disconnected from modern bands whose roots are still deep within the grounds of the post-hardcore/screamo forest. The appeal nowadays is in the nostalgia, with records like Full Collapse and What it is to Burn (to name just a couple) still able to punch you in the gut while you manage to still sing along to every poetic word. Sightings is a whole different kind of nostalgia. It takes me back to noisy weekends in the basement where my high school band practiced. It takes me back to shows we put on in my parents’ garage over the summer when we tried to get one last song in before the cops showed up (#neighbors, am I right?). Hell, I did a double take when I first heard “Intruders” because the opening riff is so eerily similar to a song we wrote however many years ago. Despite being released just this year, this EP was a blast from the past. I’ve always said my favorite instrument in music is nostalgia – for that alone, these guys won me over. Thanks for keeping the scene alive and kicking.
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