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Soundhoose Craniotomy
Soundhoose Craniotomy
Soundhoose Craniotomy

Dynamic Heavy Alt “Craniotomy”, Soundhoose’s Flaming Record

Soundhoose has released their latest album, Craniotomy, and it’s a fantastic recording in the alternative rock/pop punk space. The trio, consisting of Brandon Smith (vocals, guitar), Paul Burns (drums), and Jeremy Bauer (bass), formed in 2019 with a mission to promote and advocate for mental health. The album consists of 15 songs that span 46 minutes and has a late 90s and early 2000s alternative indie rock vibe.

The album kicks off with “Ghosted,” which starts with a memorable riff and guitars doubling. The song has a great groove and catchy verses and pre-chorus, with the bass doubling the vocal melody on the verses. “Runner” has a stunning energetic feel-good powerful intro riff, and the chorus is awesome, with the riff, vocals, and drums locking in to give a joyful chorus you can’t help but headbang to with happiness. “Phobia” is a stripped-down post-punk and alt-rock number, with the chorus containing a dense guitar sound while the bass creates a sense of mystery.

“Loner” starts with a beautiful synth riff followed by vocal refrains, and then comes in the guitar riff, which combines with the large sound that takes your breath away. Despite the serious nature of the lyrics, the musical vibe of the song is happy and energetic. “Deep End” is an alternative rock ballad that has all the great ingredients by Soundhoose, slow and light on the verse and heavy on the chorus, with great writing that expresses emotions and power together.

“Burns Effect” is a short two-minute instrumental transitional number that features retro electronic synth riff effects and percussion, which build up to a crazy synth riff, making it an addictive short number. “Enemy” is a good gritty hard rock number, with fiery vocals. “Addicted” has a wave of catapulting guitars forming another memorable riff, and the guitar licks on the verse are loved.

“Save Me” is an expressive rock number with heartfelt confessional lyrics. “I Don’t Mind It” is a great catchy song, catchy riffs, powerful drums, gritty emotional vocals. “The Call, Pt. 1 and 2” features calls forming a small narrative that has the song “Friendzone” at the center, which is a hook-driven stunning number. “Mood Swings” is an acoustic ballad that wraps up the album nicely.

The album’s themes are around mental health, relationships, and the dilemmas of personal bonds. The songwriting on this album is amazing, with the band displaying a perfect understanding of dynamics and song narrative flow. All the stunning elements by the band, catchy riffs, powerful drums, gritty emotional vocals, and solid drums and awesome riffs, make it the perfect ingredient for a great rock record. Overall, the album has a great raw sound, and I was swept away by the songwriting. Soundhoose has truly outdone themselves with this release, and I highly recommend giving it a listen. Craniotomy is an album that will have you coming back for more.

We get to speak to them about the record and their music.

  1. Your album Craniotomy tackles themes of mental health and relationships in a poignant and relatable way. How did you approach writing about these topics, and what message do you hope listeners take away from the album?
    We didn’t actually come up with the name of the album until about halfway through the album being completed. We didn’t originally intend on making a concept album, but it felt right because it wasn’t forced. We wrote about what we were feeling at the time and it was organic. We really just want fans and listeners to grasp the idea that we all go through similar emotions and situations, and that sharing your experiences can be therapeutic in a healthy way, and that you’re not alone. There’s always someone to talk to.
  2. The sound on Craniotomy is truly unique, with influences ranging from gritty punk-rock to mellow indie formulas. You seamlessly blend these elements together to create a sound that’s both fresh and nostalgic. Can you walk us through your creative process and how you achieved this signature sound in terms of gear and production?
    We have so many influences and all three of us really do love the same music. We don’t like our songs to all sound the same because that gets boring and repetitive. We want to surprise people and go out of our comfort zone. Many of the songs we write start by listening to a new song we just discovered, and we take pieces of that sound and blend it with what we know would make it more “us”. Every song is different and sometimes lyrics come first, sometimes it’s the instrumentals, but it usually all starts by listening to something we’ve never heard before and if it excites us, we try to build off it.
  3. The riffs on tracks like “Ghosted” and “Addicted” are undeniably catchy and memorable. Tell us about your songwriting process and how you come up with these infectious hooks that stick with listeners long after the songs are over?
    First off, thank you. Honestly both of those songs are an example of playing a drum groove over and over and over again, while playing a million different variations on the guitar. If it sounded like something that’s been done before, then we’ll change it. There were SEVERAL hours of testing these riffs out and if you could dance to them, then we knew we had something. If the melody gets stuck in your head, then that means you’re not thinking about anything depressing and your mind is in a healthier state, which is always our goal.
  4. “Loner” is a standout track on the album, with a serious lyrical theme but an upbeat and energetic musical vibe. It’s a testament to your skill as musicians and songwriters that you can balance these contrasting elements so well. How do you approach incorporating emotion and energy into your music?
    Our goal has always been to make music that makes people feel something. But if we can take darker subjects and make them danceable, then something that once seemed dark is now not as cumbersome. If you can dance to something that was once a sad situation, you may not associate that memory with pain or sadness anymore, but rather with something that makes you happy.
  5. “Burns Effect” is a brief but impactful instrumental track on the album. The retro electronic synth riff effect and percussion create a unique atmosphere that seamlessly transitions into the next track. Can you discuss how you decide on the flow and pacing of the album and how each track fits into the overall narrative?
    This one’s crazy, but actually very simple. We literally got together and said, “Paul needs his own moment in the show to shine, while also giving us time to tune, change, drink water, etc.” So we came up with something we thought he’d like and we legit tracked that song in one take. Brandon added the dialogue in the middle as a texture piece to transition well. Enemy is the only other song besides “Loner” with synths at the beginning, so it luckily worked out having Burns Effect go straight into Enemy. Burns Effect also seemed like the perfect segway from a “softer” cut song like Deep End, to arguably the “heaviest” song we have in Enemy.
  6. Tracks 11, 12, and 13 feature calls forming a small narrative with”Friendzone” at the center. This creative approach adds an extra layer of depth to the album’s storytelling. Can you elaborate on your decision to structure the album this way, and the story behind these tracks?
    We accumulated these voicemails to let everyone know that at this point throughout the journey of the album, we’ve grown enough to know that we’re better than how we’ve been treated. We know our self worth, we give 100% of ourselves in all of our relationships/friendships, and that we’re sick of being an “option”. It’s something a hell of a lot of people can relate to, and no one should feel like a “Plan B”. There’s a lot of toxic and manipulative relationships out there, and we’re sick of being caught in the middle of it, so we put it out for the world to see. It’s also three songs where after you listen to it, if you feel like you’ve done that to someone, or treated them that way, maybe now you won’t the next time.
  7. The album is a joy to listen to, but there are some tracks that really stand out, such as “Runner,” “Deep End,” and “Friendzone.” How did you come up with such stunners and have hook and catchy riffs and melodies at the center of your sound?
    Runner was one of the first songs we recorded and if we’re being honest, I (Brandon) have absolutely no idea. A lot of it is just trying to come up with melodies that make you feel a certain way. We wanted it to be motivational, happy, and danceable, and that riff was the one that made us feel that way. Deep End is the first “soft” song I’ve really ever written. I’m not very emotional but wanted to step out of my comfort zone and I still don’t feel entirely comfortable with it, but the feedback has been great and very supportive thus far. Friendzone is probably my favorite along with Paul. We’ve been put there so many times we’ve lost count. We know people can relate to it and we’ve all asked ourselves, “why am I not good enough for this person?”. It’s easy to sing and dance along to, so it’s definitely a fun one to play, especially when someone who’s “Friendzone”d you is in the crowd. And yes that’s happened a few times. The best part is when you see them staring at you singing along to it.

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Guitarist. I write on music and praxis.

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