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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Augustines are one of those bands who produce honest to goodness blue collar rock of the highest order. They comprise guitarist Billy McCarthy, multi-instrumentalist Eric Sanderson and drummer Rob Allen and unsurprisingly hail from Brooklyn New York. Their music doesn't really need much analyzing. It is a big rock album full of songs that hint at artists like Springsteen and Bob Seger plus bands like the Hold Steady and Gaslight Anthem, but which is distinctive enough to stand defiantly in its own right. The songs are often meticulously constructed anthems infused with the conviction that rock music has a social and communal purpose beyond just entertainment. Thus while the album would not score highly on the scale of originality it makes up for this in terms of raw passion.

Check out the enormous chants and sheer potent force of the excellent "Cruel City" destined to storm festivals across Europe this summer. Granted "Weary Eyes" does have a Springsteenesque quality to it, but on the upside it is as good as anything on the below par "High Hopes". The albums longest track "Walkabout" is to the Augustines what "First Night" was to the Hold Steady. It is their big "hit it for six" ballad and an excellent standout track with a great vocal by McCarthy. Another song "This Ain't Me" as a slightly Pearl Jam quality to it but pays repeated listens, while to this reviewers ears the pounding rock of "Don't look Back" is the type of song that could take this band from the club to the stadium and well worth pressing the cursor on the download button.

The album has a couple of missteps not least two instrumentals comprising the very slight opener "Intro - I touch Imaginary Hands" and the more euphoric but far from essential "Highway 1 Interlude". Equally there is a certain predictability with a formula of songs start slow and escalating to thumping crescendo. Yet it is good to hear a full blooded rock album once more and the Augustines songs are well paced and understand the dynamics of catch and release. All in all there is much exhilaration to be found in this very solid set.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 February 2014
Moving away from their more Springsteenesque first album their second effort shows Augustines moving into potential stellar territory, with nods to early Killers and latter day Arcade Fire. What I like most about this record though are the songs. Sounds daft I appreciate, but there are some fine, tuneful, powerful and memorable proper songs with proper verses and choruses on here. If they get the chance and choose to appear at any festivals this year, this tracks on this album are just asking to be the singalong hits of the summer. My favourites? Cruel City and Don't You Look Back probably exemplify the album best but there isn't a duff track on here.
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VINE VOICEon 30 March 2014
Yeah, I know just 3 months in and that is a wild claim to make ..but it really is that good. Its an album that makes you feel uplifted and I really defy you not to like 'Now You Are Free' - one of the best tracks I've heard in years (and the only one ever to make a rhyme with the word 'phenomenal' ) Other tracks that get serious repeat are Cruel City and Kid You Are On Your Own with Weary Eyes being another particular favourite (with a line like 'is your daughter worth weary eyes' ). I've found that the album just seems to get better with playing. The voice is croaky and I think owes quite a bit to some of the songs of U2 (before they went mega..) and of course Bruce Springsteen but the feel of the songs are less bombastic and I really like that - I've read that the sing alongs at concerts are very emotional - so looking forward to that .. A superb album a million miles from chart fare - but 'Now You Are Free ' deserves wider radio play. I even went back to track down their first album and thats been a good move
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on 19 August 2014
Augustines were born upon the ashes of Brooklyn rock band Pela. After the death of vocalist Billy McCarthy’s brother, he and Eric Sanderson (bass, keyboards) founded We Are Augustines and released Rise Ye Sunken Ships in 2011. Rise dealt mostly with the loss of McCarthy’s brother and his mother’s schizophrenia which evidently made the record an autobiographical one. The New York band recently dropped the ‘We Are’ from their name and went back to being just Augustines (a name they couldn’t use before for legal reasons) and relocated to Seattle.

When their debut Rise Ye Sunken Ships came out two years ago I had just moved to a different country, started a new job and found a new love. I would listen to their album for hours on end on those long train rides home and went to several of their live shows in different countries. It was my soundtrack of 2012. Evidently, expectations for a follow-up were sky high. After hearing the record and hearing some of the new songs live, my expectations were more than met.

When I first listened to Cruel City, the first single to be released from the new record, it didn’t really stick. The world music influence put me off at first but what made me fall in love with the song after all was the bridge that is an Augustines moment par excellence as McCarthy bursts out vigorously “Hey, I miss your arms / I still reach for you in the dark / Hey, I miss your skin / I still reach for you in the dark.” Cruel City speaks of the alienation one can experience in a big city but also of capitalism and gentrification (Come on now cruel city / With money eyes).

The opening notes of their recent single Nothing To Lose But Your Head immediately reminded me of Headlong Into The Abyss, my favourite from their first record. The song carries an instant sense of longing as McCarthy sings “My mind feels like an empty parking lot / For the unloved and lonesome ones / They sit at a table in my head” before exploding into the powerful chorus. It’s a song that speaks about what Augustines are all about as a band, pursuing the dream like you’ve got nothing to lose. Now You Are Free shows off once more Augustines’ excellent songwriting capabilities as McCarthy sings “What am I running from / Myself and everyone“. The song also exhibits McCarthy’s vocal range as he quickly moves between a high voice and his typical husky voice.

One of the strongest songs on the album, musically and lyrically, is Walkabout. It starts out a a solemn ballad with McCarthy singing in a high voice before it explodes into a a full blown rock anthem. It’s about not being stuck anymore and going out there to pursue ones dreams.

Augustines is a step up from Rise on many levels. With drummer Rob Allen now being a full band member (he toured the first record but wasn’t on it), the drums have become much more essential to the songwriting itself (Cruel City, Kid You’re On Your Own). Keyboards (played by Eric Sanderson) have also become an integral part (Now You Are Free, The Avenue) and the songs as a whole have become more varied through the use of progressive and transitional elements. Particularly Kid You’re On Your Own and Walkabout really build up in the course of their 4 to 5 minutes runtime.

The record is also really well structured as an album: it starts out slowly with the intro and then Cruel City and Nothing To Lose kick in. After that, they slow the pace down a little with the love song Weary Eyes just to speed it up again with Don’t You Look Back. Walkabout and Kid You’re On Your Own are true gems and they are thoroughly placed in the middle of the album before they slow things down once more with another ballad (This Ain’t Me) and the anthemic Now You Are Free. The record ends on a slower note with the piano driven The Avenue and Highway 1 Interlude. The final track, Hold Onto Anything, is another midtempo rock anthem in the likes of New Drink For The Old Drunk from their debut. It features McCarthy’s typical Yeahs, that are so fun to sing back at him during their gigs. Unfortunately, Ballad Of A Patient Man, which they always play live, is not on the album but you can get it as a b-side to Cruel City.

While Rise Ye Sunken Ships was a very personal album dealing mostly with the loss of Billy McCarthy’s brother, Augustines is a record that was written when the band was on the road for almost 2 years in a row. It deals with more general topics such as love and loss, loneliness, hope, and finding oneself. When asked, Billy McCarthy said that Rise was a record they really wrote for themselves while Augustines is a record they wrote for the fans (you can read more about that in our interview). With such a highly acclaimed debut as Augustines have released in 2011, it often happens that a sophomore release cannot live up to the expectations and falls flat. There’s the fine line one needs to walk between more of the same and musical development and Augustines managed to do just that. McCarthy stuck to the type of honest songwriting that made the first record so special and he and his bandmates crafted an album that is already a candidate for the album of the year shortlist.

indieisnotagenre.com
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on 19 February 2014
There's little more to be said other then the heading, huge, uplifting. Damn near perfect.

You're into any of Arcade Fire, The National, Frightened Rabbit, try Augustines, you'll love it & them.
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on 2 January 2015
All time fave band. Packed full of great songs. I'm only giving 4 stars because Rise Ye Sunken Ships was just impossible to live up to. Can't wait for their next album. Also, a brilliant band live. I've seen many, many of the biggest bands over the years and these guys are up there - really, no hype. Catch 'em before they get too big and end up a distant specks on stadium stages!
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on 7 February 2014
Seriously! Even better than their last. You might not think it on the first listen but after a few you should be hooked. So talented with such power and emotion, a truly great band.
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on 18 June 2014
Full of energy, completely unique - proper grown up indie-rock music - if you want a flavour of this album listen to Nothing To Lose But Your Head. If you don't love it straight away, you will after a couple more listens.
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on 30 March 2014
I must admit I wasn't a fan of Augustines in their previous guise 'We Are Augustines' No matter how I tried their first album just didn't do it for me. A couple of years down the line though and this self-titled sophomore LP was an entirely different proposition. The lead single Nothing to Lose But your Head sounds like Springsteen doing Editors and signals a move into a much more widescreen cinematic sound that echoes the stadium rock of U2 and White Lies. 'Augustines' seamlessly moves between these arms-in-the-air anthemic moments to more tender stripped back numbers (Weary Eyes; The Avenue), taking in some pretty powerful instrumental moves (Highway 1 Interlude) along the way.

An increasingly exciting band to keep an eye on. It you overlooked them the first time, watch out for them on the ascent now.
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on 28 November 2014
Simply magnificent from start to finish!
Rise Ye Sunken Ships was a masterpiece and this eponymous offering further proves the brilliance of this inexplicably overlooked band. Undoubtedly the best live act around, their magic translates well on record but their energy, warmth and sincerity on stage is a spectacle that every music lover should experience.
It's rare that an album bares soooo many repeated listens without losing any of its emotional impact but this is one such album. I simply cannot hear it often enough! As usual, McCarthy's lyrics are stunningly sublime and, musically, this album conveys the soaring emotions of grand Opera (seriously!).
I'm an English teacher and use lyrics from this album to teach poetic techniques - McCarthy, by this stage, has surpassed Dylan (I realise that's a big claim to make but I'll defend it to the death!)
Sometimes an album includes a song which is so incredibly impactful that it literally stops you in your tracks, this album has at least 5 songs like that, really.
For some, it will need repeated listens - I played it for a friend who liked it moderately at first but after a few listens, reported that she then couldn't get through the day without hearing it.
This review will sound like hyperbole to those who are unfamiliar with this band but just do yourself a favour and buy this - you will love it. I don't know how else to say it other than this album/this band is simply... important.
Thank you Augustines - you have enhanced my life.
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