Wednesday 29 October 2014


GenresPunk / Rock / Emo / Screamo / Hardcore / Garage / Indie / Ambient
Related artistsLife In Vacuum and New Wings.
CountryKitchener/Waterloo, Ontario CANADA
Years Active2013-present
Song: "Gospel"
Album: "Demo"
Year: 2014
Label(s): Zegema Beach Records / Skeletal Lightning
This post's artist is from the October 2014 Mix. This is track #2.
You can download the October Mix#10 right here or get the new November Mix#11 here.
For fans of: September, Bright Calm Blue, D'Amore, Funeral Diner, Gospel, Desaparecidos...Who Calls So Loud, Eyes Of Verotika, Bright Eyes, Indian Summer, Honeywell, Youth Novel, Life In Vacuum, Godspeed, You! Black Emperor and Coma Regalia aka PROPER SCREAMO.

Let me just get it out there - CONGRATULATIONS are one of the most exciting bands in music today. I may be a giant, slobbering octopus, but I don't exaggerate. Wait...of course I do, but not about this, for this young Canadian band is phenomenal.

I remember sitting at my computer one day and coming across Skeletal Lightning's posting of Life In Vacuum's '5' album for free download - my other favourite band. As a listener who generally likes to download stuff and put it on repeat on my mp3 player, downloading audio by new bands is huge, as I have way too many links. Anyways, after a few listens I was absolutely hooked. Fast forward another week or two and I come across a posting on a facebook community saying something along the lines of, "screamo from Kitchener/Waterloo with members of Life In Vacuum" and a live video. I used to live there and everyone knows I love the screamo, so I checked it out. I swear to science I had a massive erection by the time the first chorus of "Aren't You Frightened Skinny, Scary Skeleton?" (check the video I'm talking about here) washed over me. I was told the band was done and cried myself to sleep. I regained my senses and messaged the guy who posted the video asking if they had any recorded output tracked before disbanding, to which Tony (vocals/guitar) responded explaining that they never disbanded, they were just lazy. Now I talk to the band weekly and Zegema Beach Records is releasing their debut, 5-song cassette EP along with the almighty Skeletal Lightning in the US. Zegema Beach Records will also release the CONGRATULAIONS & The Rabbit Theory split 7" in early 2015. Life is very, very good.

From what I have gathered, Tony basically enrolled Ross, Sasha (from Life In Vacuum) and Justin (from New Wings) in order to create a 90s emo/screamo sound - and boy did they hit the mark. So, I will go through EP track by track and then touch on the The Rabbit Theory split 7" as only two (well, now three if you hit up the Zegema Beach Records bandcamp page here) songs are currently available to rock out to.

"Aren't You Frightened Skinny, Scary Skeleton?" is, without question, the CONGRATULATIONS theme song. This track does absolutely everything right. It starts with a dreamy, lulling intro with twinkly guitars and some spoken/lightly sung vocals before dropping the listener into the deep end at 0:48. The chorus for this song is stunning, which boasts some serious emotional screaming by both vocalists and pushes the song to the aggressive edge while still maintaining semblance of the more accessible parts of the band's sound. The verses have an almost 80s vibe like The Cure mixed with bands like Funeral Diner or September and revolve primarily around the journey of Justin's spacey guitar and are the ultimate lead-ins to the phenomenal chorus.

"Stars and Lights" is an interesting listen, and manages to successfully grab on to the poppier, melodic side that the band tapped in "Aren't You Frightened Skinny, Scary Skeleton?" and really run with it. The first half is like it's from a boppy late 90s emo record and at the halfway point CONGRATULATIONS kick it into their genre dissolving gear and mix pop, rock, garage, post-hardcore and screamo into a single second of music. This song and the next were mediocre for me at first, but upon repeat listens and watching them live, (as well as remembering that not all music has to make me get physically excited, aka screamo) I have come to deeply appreciate this accessible and melodic side of the band.

"This Summer" follows a similar path, as it also injects a substantial amount of slower and softer riffs, progressions, vocals and overall feel to the song. 30 seconds in, you might think you are listening to a melodic hardcore band from the late 90s or early 2000s that could have made it on to the radio. The song veers into screamy territory now and again, reminding us that this is not a "poppy" band, per se, but they certainly perfect the middle ground. I'd be surprised if you don't find yourself singing along or at least humming Sasha's vocals by the end of the track, as they are not only repetitious in nature, but also kick major ass. This sounds like a summer song and is therefore very accurately titled.

"Your Halo Glistens" deviates from the band's regular sound and focuses all of its efforts on sounding soft, ambient and hazy. Whether the similarities to Bright Eyes (especially the vocal croon/warble thing) are intentional or not is irrelevant because the song really pulls you in with a cozy web of melody turned one volume level higher during the chorus.

"Gospel" is my baby. Good goddamn, this shit is my #1 jam for 2014 for shizzle. The song is titled "Gospel" because I was always dubbing the song as sounding like the band Gospel, and this very apt comparison should get some saliva dribbling down the side of your mouth because that band was unreal. The song boasts back forth screamers as well as ridiculously amazing, wailing notes from lead guitarist Justin (who also slays in New Wings) that truly carry the song during the verses which is layered perfectly over the cacophonous screaming. The song dips in and out of chaotic bliss and plodding, semi-improv jams and is a fucking killer way to end the band's debut.

As some fans may have come across, CONGRATULATIONS will be doing a split 7" with the Swiss band The Rabbit Theory early next year which will be released on Zegema Beach Records. The EP will boast one 6-minute track by each band. Below is a live video of the track that will appear on the split. Imagine Fugazi smoking some weed and creating a long, driving, bass-driven and moody track that culminates with an aural explosion and lots o' screaming. I have linked up a live video of the track that will be featured on the split below.

If you need any additional swaying, I'm insanely busy with a new baby and a new job, but I'm still making the time to try and make a music video for the band in the wee hours of the morning - that's how emotionally invested I am in these fellas. CONGRATULATIONS forever...and they haven't even released their demo yet.

Yours truly,

The Prince of Normandy


Order the demo cassette here from ZBR (includes alternate cover version) and here from Skeletal Lightning.
There are also t-shirts for sale here.
Zegema Beach Records put up 3 songs on bandcamp to coincide with the post so head over here to check out the new single "Stars and Lights" along with the already released "Aren't You Frightened Skinny, Scary Skeleton?" and "Gospel".

On November 26th, 2014 CONGRATULATIONS will be hold a cassette release show at The Doors Pub in Hamilton with special guests NOUS ÉTIONS and TERRY GREEN. I hope to see you there! Check the facebook event page here.


Show links:

March 25th, 2014 w/The Caution Children, Foxmoulder and New Wings (when I first met the band)

May 25th, 2014 w/Itto, Life In Vacuum, Fossil and Sketchbooks (the first ZBR show)

June 20th, 2014 w/Life In Vacuum, Quiet Lakes and Dinosaur Sex Change

August 20th, 2014 w/The Reptilian, Two Knights, Total Bummer and Wimp City



2014 - Congratulations cassetteEP (stream 3 songs here and order here)

2015 - The Rabbit Theory split 7"


(2014) CONGRATULATIONS - "Gospel" (from 'Demo')

(2014) CONGRATULATIONS - "Aren't You Frightened Skinny, Scary Skeleton" (from 'Demo')

(2014) CONGRATULATIONS - "Stars and Lights" (from 'Demo') live video

(2014) CONGRATULATIONS - "untitled" (from 'The Rabbit Theory' split) live video


CONGRATULATIONS additional links


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