The Felix Culpa – “Sever Your Roots”

              

When “Sever Your Roots” was first released in 2010 it seemed like a swan song for The Felix Culap. Five years after their debut album, “Commitment,” was released on Common Cloud records, the guys had failed to find a new label, weren’t playing many shows and each member seemed to be settling into life outside of the music industry. But instead of just riding off into the sunset, the guys put out another album. Without any label support, “Sever Your Roots” was released in an oversized, card-stock folio by the band and distributed via hand addressed media mail packages.

Even with the intriguing back-story and the almost six year wait between full –length releases it was the music itself that caught the ears of music lovers. Building on the sound they established during “Commitment,” the midwestern quartet put out over an hour of a flowing post-hardcore that breaks every rule in the book, transcends the idea of genre and acts as a major step forward for the band from their days as a trio.

Dustin Currier joined the band in 2007 to supplement Marky Hladish’s guitar work as wells as to add keyboards, trumpets and “random sounds.” The addition of Currier is distinguishing factor between The Culpa’s first and second full-length effort. The second guitar adds a layer of depth to the recording that was missing from “Commitment” and allows the complexity of the lyrics and vocal work to be matched in complexity by the instrumental work.

Like their earlier work, many of the tracks on “Sever Your Roots” clock in well four minutes, with three tracks over seven minutes and two more over six. But the trick that The Felix Culpa has mastered is preventing a seven-minute track from feeling like a seven-minute track. The long songs are not forced, but flow from theme to theme gracefully. It never feels like a track should be split into two pieces, or that The Culpas were trying to create an epic.

Beyond the improved audio quality and the maturity that comes with time, rejection and families, “Sever Your Roots” is a major step forward for The Felix Culpa. “Commitment” was and remains a great album, but it had cracks. “Sever Your Roots” fills this cracks and builds on the excellent foundation that was built by “Commitment.” From improved song structure to better understanding of how long a songs needs to be, “Commitment features a band that understands both their limitations and their strengths.

Luckily I wasn’t the only person enamored with “Sever Your Roots.” Southern California label No Sleep Records swooped in and offered the band an offer they couldn’t refuse; an opportunity to re-release the album in early 2011 with three new tracks and a new home on one of the fastest growing indie labels. With the support of No Sleep, The Culpas has jumped back into touring and have revived what many believed was a slowly flat-lining band.

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About scottclandis

Scott Landis is a tablet magazine developer and strategist currently writing about the industry from Eugene, Oregon. He was the Editor-in-Chief for OR Magazine, the first iPad exclusive magazine produced by students using Adobe's InDesign 5.5 and the Digital Publishing Suite. He was previously the Senior Editor and staff writer for online music magazine Independent Clauses from 2004 to 2008. He has also been published as a photographer by multiple magazines and newspapers,
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