Now Hear This

Reviews of new albums by Guy Capecelatro III, Charles, and Heavy Pockets

Hope Is the Thing with Feathers by Guy Capecelatro III
Burst and Bloom Records

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers Guy Capecelatro III

What is there to say about an album that so clearly speaks for itself? Guy Capecelatro III’s latest recording, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” is more than a collection of music. It’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end — one filled with philosophical inquiries, gut-wrenching imagery, and a brave documentation of a journey through love’s most harrowing obstacle.

The story follows Capecelatro’s emotional journey after he learns of his wife Pam’s ovarian cancer diagnosis. Song by song, the singer-songwriter guides the listener along through his struggles, learning to live with his shock and sorrow while still being there for Pam. “Hope” features Capecelatro’s finest work, tearjerking from start to finish.

What’s fascinating and fantastic about the album is its musical diversity. Songs such as “I Called It First” and “You Were A Carousel” offer alternative rock twists. Other songs feature haunting piano and sorrowful slide guitar. “Christmas Lament” and “Frayed” convey the dense subject matter with somber tones and folk stylings that open the floodgates.

Then there’s the poetry. The most maddeningly beautiful qualities of Capecelatro’s music lie in his ability to break down the songs so that each piece is just as much a work of art as the whole puzzle. The words of these songs could stand on their own as poems and still carry tremendous weight. The words evoke an emotional breadth that few writers can achieve.

“I’m an atom bomb, you’re nearly gone / We’re rolling up en masse, singing victory songs / You’re fighting this war, lying on the floor / and I’ll understand if you can’t take anymore,” Capecelatro sings in “Two Fronts.”

Even the production of the album is inspiring. Busy with the turmoil of his wife’s treatments, Capecelatro found pockets of time to record song fragments with vocal and guitar parts. Multi-instrumentalist Chris Decato helped push the album forward, “playing ninety-five percent of the instruments and doing all the mixing and arranging,” according to the CD sleeve.

Utilizing the cut-up technique, Decato took the various pieces of Capecelatro’s recordings and created not just a coherent story, but one with an arc. From the moment the couple received Pam’s cancer diagnosis in “Hollow Reminders” to the final act of love in “Some Small Relief,” Decato builds a timeline for Capecelatro’s story. The narrative moves through the months, “sweating from the heat” in “Hospital Days” and chronicling the sickening pressure of the holiday season in “Christmas Lament.”

A notoriously prolific artist, Capecelatro has built a legacy on the Seacoast, and “Hope is the Thing with Feathers is his magnum opus. It would seem next to impossible for anyone else to document such a heartbreaking journey and come up with such a beautiful sonic companion through the darkest of times.

Learn more about the album here.

Charles/Heavy Pockets split by Charles and Heavy Pockets
Cat Dead Details Later

Charles Heavy Pockets split

Split releases are more true to the spirit of punk than any other style of album. The cost of recording is divided between two bands, you get a sample of what those bands are all about, and before you can bat an eye, the needle lifts off the record and you’re anxious to start it up again. In this case, Charles and Heavy Pockets seem like a perfect marriage for an album that’s less than 15 minutes long.

Charles — arguably the new poster boys of Seacoast emo since the Brave Little Abacus called it quits — starts the split with an explosion of sound. The recording includes the band’s best song to date, “300 Miles.” If most songs are like novels, these Charles songs are like short stories stitched together with their signature motif: music drenched in poignancy, rung out over the raw energy of their punk leanings.

The Dover quartet borrows from multiple facets of emo’s wide spectrum: the clean, math-driven guitar licks of American Football; the lofty power of the Get Up Kids; and, of course, the poetics of Jawbreaker. On “300,” guitarist Dante Guzzardi mumbles his melodies gently over the chugging of Ezra Cohen’s bass. On “Wheel,” In the spirit of The Promise Ring, guitarist Connor Sheridan pleads his musings to the calculated rhythm of drummer Cody Tresback.

On the flip side, Heavy Pockets uses the split to continue to evolve. Gone are the lo-fi thrashings of their debut album, “Bite Because You Like It.” Instead, the band welcomes more angst-driven pop rock with bouncy rhythms in the vein of Juliana Hatfield and Veruca Salt.

Guitarist and singer Shayla Riggs harnesses unprecedented power in her ability to consistently deliver her “fuck right off” message with the vocal sensitivities of twee pop. Where Charles contributes multiple ingredients to their emo stew, Heavy Pockets is all meat and potatoes. Bassist Zac Mayeux and drummer Nate Rubin fuse their sounds with Riggs’ strumming to create a solid force of pop-punk music that progresses from the first strike of the chord to the final note ringing into the hiss of the tape recorder.

The band rounds out the split EP with a surf-influenced pop cover of “Smothered In Hugs.” Though it doesn’t take much to produce a cleaner sound than Guided By Voices, there is some humor in the notion that a lo-fi band from New Hampshire can produce a “better” version of a song by one of the most critically acclaimed groups of all time.

Check out the album here.