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Gates – Parallel Lives

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    My favorite moments in music are the ones that feel transcendent; the ones that seem to transport, envelop, and transform your circumstances as you sit down to experience them.

    These moments can come in many forms. For many people, an exceptionally crafted heavy moment, like a climactic bridge or a breakdown in a metal song, can bring that world-changing experience. For others, it may come in the form of a delicate and spacious quiet song which allows the listener to drift off into restfulness or meditate.

    One thing that drew me to the overlapping genres of post-rock, ambient, and post-hardcore music is that this sense of place, this tangible connection with the structure of a listening experience, and this focus on the audience’s interaction with the music, felt innately immersive to me. Listening to the songs by these artists, whether or not they were purely instrumental, allowed me to pour myself into the music, experience it fully, and it allowed the music to pour itself into me.

    Gates’ previous record Bloom and Breathe, a monumental achievement for a post-rock band’s debut album, was one of those records I let wash over me completely. It synthesized so many of the things I loved about the post-rock genre so beautifully — from the shimmering guitars to the emotional tax of a well-executed crescendo and the resulting pay-off. Songs like “Not My Blood” and “At Last The Loneliest of Them” became stellar selections for their live set, with their heavy, sweeping finales. But there was still something not quiet present yet. The band didn’t quite have the other side of their sound, the ethereal, ballady style, pinned down yet. Songs like “Marrow” suffered as a result, sounding less than necessary on the album’s back-half.

    With that said, the band’s sophomore full-length, Parallel Lives, came with a multitude of question marks. Could the band craft an album of ambient, largely quiet songs, that despite their tranquility have a vitality and a grandness to them? Could the rare moments where Gates lets loose on the album hit home as much as they do on songs like “Not My Blood?”

    There is no doubt in my mind: The band not only succeeds on all of the above, but in pretty much everything they attempt on Parallel Lives. They move beyond the reasons I adored Bloom and Breathe, and put together an album that works seamlessly in establishing an ambiance and a tone from the moment the first notes kick-in and maintaining that tone flawlessly until the moment the final notes ring out. It feels at once familiar and comforting, and yet, entirely unique within the genres Gates play in.

    There are moments here that certainly will be reminiscent of other scene favorites and standouts. The glitchy atmospherics and somber keyboards of “Forget” and “Color Worn” will remind many of Copeland’s 2014 standout Ixora. The general tone of the album and the laid-back nature of the song composition definitely recalls the magnum opus self-titled record of friends Moving Mountains. The guitar tones in the middle section of “Eyes” will be eerily familiar to fans of O’Brother and Caspian’s most recent works. But despite all of these connections to other albums, I never got the impression that Parallel Lives was trying to capture or recreate the magic of those exceptional records.

    Instead, it forges out in search of a place of its own in that echelon. Where “Marrow” failed due to its weak lyrics and unmemorable melody, “Fade” (the stunning piano ballad on Parallel Lives), succeeds due to its breathtaking melody. The track spans the entirety of vocalist Kevin Dye’s range and includes maybe his most vulnerable vocal performance. There is so much longing and wistful acquiescence in Dye’s voice, a resignment that is echoed in the lyrics: “The petals wilt away / the blue skies dull to gray / and I wish I hadn’t left our love to fade.”

    While some will take issue with Gates’ decision to wind things down a little bit on Parallel Lives, to take a step back from the standard crescendo-heavy song composition of the post-rock genre, I feel this decision allows the songs the necessary room to breathe. It gives the moments when things finally do open up extra significance. Moments like the end of “Shiver,” when a wobbling synth transfigures into a soaring, fluttering behemoth of an outro. Or when “Left Behind” builds and build for the entirety of its five-minute run-time to an ominous conclusion, and Dye sings: “Even in a perfect life, we still die” as the music seems to overpower him in a wall of sound.

    But the thing that defines Gates more than anything is finding the temporary bliss of hope even in the deepest moments of despair. Bloom and Breathe notably concludes with the lyrically uplifting “Again at the Beginning” and bleeds into the inspirational instrumental “Everything That Will Always Be.” Parallel Lives, while not as specifically structured to place the catharsis of the record at the conclusion, displays similar moments of this fleeting bliss. The aforementioned “Shiver” is a great example of this feat, with Dye’s admission of his desires giving way to an outro and the joyous celebration that comes with it.

    It is one of those transcendent moments I discussed before — a moment where the joyousness and the primal instincts of music seem to speak to and overtake you. A moment where music seems to seep into your very pores and bring you out of a deep-seated emotional funk that the evening news, and the horrifying world outside your door, have put you in. A moment when music can change your entire world for the better, at least for as long as the record keeps spinning.

  2. Bartek T.

    D'oh! Prestigious

    Dude I've been seriously waiting for your review, cause I really love that record and was probably as hyped as I ever could, so I'm glad to finally read a word about it in here - great job! I actually agree with nearly everything you've said, and the comparisons are perfect, while also nailing the thing which is more important - that it makes a way of its own.
  3. OotyPa

    fall away

    Great review and fantastic record. I find I have a new favorite song every week. Last week was House & Home, and the week before that it was Habit. Thanks for writing this up!
  4. jorbjorb

    7 rings

    I keep coming back to House/Home
  5. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    Thanks! It took a while to get it up. I finished it last week but we were waiting for the right moment to post. Thanks for being patient!
    Bartek T. likes this.
  6. disambigujason

    Trusted Supporter

    Glad somebody reviewed this, more people need to hear it. very well done, both review and album.
  7. sophos34

    Prestigious Supporter

    thumbs up craig!!!!
    Craig Ismaili likes this.
  8. Great review! Such a phenomenal record.
  9. Blake Solomon

    Mr. Emeritus Prestigious

    this was such a good surprise for me. totally different and totally great, ESPECIALLY the closing track.
    austindavispdx likes this.
  10. sawhney[rusted]

    luv is blind

    Great review Craig! Everyone should heed your word and listen to this. I still stand by the statement that "Shiver" is the best alternative rock song of the year.
  11. congruence

    Got a light?

    Good review, been listening to this since the stream went up and it has only gotten better, definitely one of my favorites of the year. Songs sounded absolutely perfect live too, hoping for an opportunity to hear more songs from this live in the near future though, as they only played three new ones on the Thrice tour
  12. Mass_As_Shadows


    So the Boycott/disclaimer for Pure Noise Records is over with?
  13. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    It has always been personal choice if the writer wanted to include it on an review. I chose not to personally because I believe in my heart that Gates would be on a different label if their contract were not locked in. Also, it's been a year. If people don't know by now they probably never will, and if people do know, they have already long ago made up their mind about whether or not they will be supporting the individual bands on Pure Noise Records
    amorningofsleep likes this.
  14. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    I do not, however, know the status of that particular disclaimer going forward on the site.
  15. Mattww


    Awesome review Craig, it's definitely a step up from Bloom and breathe probably because it feels so different and kinda unique despite having obvious influences. Personally I loved you are all you have...I thought it was a really special EP but b&b was so disappointing. Parallel lives is seriously growing on me though
  16. Bartek T.

    D'oh! Prestigious

    Just to add something more to Craig's response, I've seen them officially backing criticism on the Front Porch situation, I believe they're not like it and would definitely pick a side if they had a possibility. I can't neglect every band with a Pure Noise contract - I'm just trying to give a closer look to everybody over there. They also did a split with Matt Pryor that donated to RAINN. I'd like to see that situation get clearer and clearer, so that people who don't deserve support wouldn't be supported, but at the same not to neglect bands that are simply bound around it with a contract.
    amorningofsleep likes this.
  17. TBok


    Just saw these guys open for Thrice in Toronto. Totally out-played La Dispute, and for the first time in memory, I was compelled to head to their merch table mid-set. Amazing.
    jorbjorb likes this.
  18. OotyPa

    fall away

    Have you ever listened to them before seeing them?
  19. TBok


    Never. I heard I think 3 tracks on Spotify that day.
  20. SPine


    Just listened to the album for the first time. Blew me away. I've always been a huge Moving Mountains fan so I really like gates sound. Any similar bands you all recommend?
  21. cwhit

    still emperor emo Prestigious

  22. Leftandleaving

    I will be okay. everything Supporter

    Cast before the break
    cwhit likes this.
  23. MexicanGuitars

    Chorus’ Expert on OTIP Track #8 Supporter

    This has worked its way into my top 10 this year. What a lovely record
  24. disambigujason

    Trusted Supporter

    its been a while since i've listened to it but i remember after a slow start it grew on me quite a bit; ill have to revisit before the end of the year
    OotyPa likes this.
  25. Bartek T.

    D'oh! Prestigious

    In my Top 10 for sure! :)) ...not sure how far on the list, but my lastfm presents as the second most frequently listened album this year, and yet it doesn't follow what I'm listening to in my car hehe.