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Hearts Like Lions - These Hands

9
Released:December 2, 2014
Tracklisting:

1. Wake Up
2. Stranger
3. Trust Me
4. Man Of Dust
5. I'm Not Running Away From This
6. These Hands

For Fans Of: Circa Survive, As Cities Burn, From Indian Lakes, Mutemath

Indie rock band Hearts Like Lions hasn't wasted any time releasing their new EP “These Hands.” Having just been signed to Tooth & Nail Records late last month, the California trio made up of Stephen Ramos (vocals / guitar), Luke Schoepf (bass), and Nick Sturz (drums) has certainly hit the ground running. Complete with intricate guitar work, expressive vocals, and contemplative lyrics, “These Hands” maintains an overall positive outlook despite addressing serious issues such as the human condition, faith, and growing older.

The song “Stranger” instantly stands out as a favorite. Possibly the catchiest track on the entire EP, “Stranger” is sure to get you singing along -- but don’t let it’s upbeat nature fool you. The band explained via Facebook last month that the song is meant to address the “pain and discomfort we experience as we begin to change as individuals” and grow up. It is this transition period of self discovery that lead singer Stephen Ramos expresses in the chorus, “I’ll run away from this place where I’m not such a stranger in my own skin, to a place I can call home because it feels like I’m stuck on the outside staring in.” About two minutes into the song, the rest of the instruments are abruptly stripped away and we are left with a simple palm muted guitar riff. As the song builds back up again, Ramos’ desperately declares “I just want you to notice, I just want to be myself.”

Out of all of the tracks included on “These Hands” the song “Man of Dust” truly showcases the talent and versatility of these young musicians. Nick Sturz opens the song with a strong but simple drum piece layered behind slightly distorted guitars, but 20 seconds in the song breaks into a beautiful finger picked guitar piece, complete with lightly crashing cymbals and vocals comparable to Tyler Joseph’s acoustic work with Twenty One Pilots (ie: House of Gold). Light and heavy elements are juxtaposed throughout the song through seamless tempo changes, the selective use of distortion, and vocals that range from delicate to determined. Thematically, the song focuses on issues of faith and spiritual guidance as Ramos cries out for God to strengthen him with the lines “born a man of dust, help me grow in you.”

In just six songs, “These Hands” offers an eloquent and heartfelt commentary on the human condition and common struggles that we all face throughout our lives. Overall, the EP has both a haunting and comforting effect on the listener, who is sure to be left pondering some of life’s greatest mysteries as the final song fades out. With such a strong debut release on Tooth & Nail Records, it will be both exciting and interesting to see what the future has in store for Hearts Like Lions.

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