If you are at all into the somewhat relevant pop punk and emo scenes, you are bound to have heard of the record label Run for Cover Records, which is home to bands such as Tigers Jaw, Modern Baseball, Citizen, and Basement,  just to name a few.  One of the label’s more recent signings was the band Cloakroom, a trio of factory workers from Indiana.

Cloakroom is one of those bands that is pretty hard to place into a single genre.  The way I heard it best described was slowcore, which seems incredibly fitting. The band is an amazing combination of alt rock, post hardcore, grunge, emo, and shoegaze that when combined, makes for an incredibly punchy, warm sounding record.  With countless bands trying to embrace this sound and seeming to come up short each in their own way (i.e. Title Fight, Pianos Become the Teeth, Whirr, Pity Sex, Nothing, etc.), Cloakroom really nailed it on latest effort, Further Out.

What really makes Further Out as interesting as it is is the warm mixing and mastering on the record. While the songwriting and instrumentation was on point on the group’s Infinity EP in 2013, the mix seemed sort of empty, and left a lot to be desired in that category.  On first listen of Further Out, I was taken aback by how full and massive it sounded.  It almost seemed to be a perfect example of how a band in this genre should sound.  The tones produced by the guitars and bass on this record, especially on “Asymmetrical” and “Starchild Skull,” are some my favorites I have heard on a record of any genre.

At first, the vocals are a little off putting, but they really end up growing on you. They seemed a little overdone and melodramatic sounding, but after a few listens, you really start to appreciate what they add to the songs. The vocals seem to gently float over the lush, sometimes hard hitting, heavy, and punchy instrumentals, and can add an incredible element to the tracks.  Vocals are something that can make, or in most cases, break the feel of a record in this genre. On first listen, Doyle Martin’s delivery seemed a little similar to many other shoegaze bands and, at first, even drew a small comparison to deeper version of Thom Yorke’s voice on certain tracks. The more I listened, the more I grew out of this idea and grew to enjoy the unique delivery of the despair fueled lyrics.

The most memorable moments on Further Out revolve around the instrumentals.  One of the strongest tracks on the record, “Mesmer,” is a three minute fully instrumental featuring a simple repeated arpeggio on the electric guitar that eventually bleeds into background noise, along with some acoustic and electric guitar, bass, and some very light, spacey drums . This song is a beautiful break from the sometimes incredibly heavy backing instrumentals. Immediately following the calm composition of “Mesmer,” you’re thrown right back into the pounding drums on the intro to what might be considers this album’s single, “Starchild Skull.” The contrasting clean and dark, grimy tones featured throughout this track make it an incredibly catchy, interesting listen.

In a music scene in which shoegaze is considered “boring” by many, Cloakroom manages to master melodies and rhythms and to push the sound while mixing so many genres into one of the best records I have heard so far this year.  While this band is fairly under appreciated at the moment, they will hopefully get the large scale recognition that they deserve in the coming months.  There are very few things that I can complain about on this record.  This record might not be for everyone, as the slowcore-shoegaze sound that the band brings still may seem boring and uninteresting to many listeners.  Regardless, I strongly urge you to at least give the record a shot.

Check out the music video for “Starchild Skull” below,  in which the band journeys deep into forests and caves to record the track.

Grade: A-