Hearing Aide: Framing Hanley’s ‘The Sum of Who We Are’

It’s been nearly four years since Framing Hanley has released a new album. To place that into proper perspective, there have been some notable changes in the world since their 2010 release of A Promise to Burn: The world economy went to pot, Colorado residents can now smoke the pot, Hannah Montana turned to porn, and dubstep influenced Korn.

Photo Courtesy of New Ocean Media
Photo Courtesy of New Ocean Media

The hand of change touched the post-hardcore band out of Tennessee as well. Since peaking at No. 7 on Billboard’s Independent chart, they severed ties with record label Silent Majority, said goodbye to bassist Luke McDuffee, and exhausted earnings from touring and sales only to subsequently take on regular employment in order to support their families.

In 2012, band frontman Kenneth Nixon took to Kickstarter, an Internet funding platform, to ask fans to help raise money to support the making of their third album. The return for investors promised a variety of things, from a mention inside the album cover, to – for $5,000 – a private performance in your own backyard (so far, only one of fifteen potential backers have taken advantage of this to date.) With an initial goal of $40,000, the fundraising effort raised more than $60,000.

And, here we are.

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The Sum of Who We Are , comes out Tuesday, April 29th. It is quite literally the culmination of events endured by band members over the past few years, and as trite as it reads, it still underscores the fragility of success within the music industry. However, these events don’t seem to cloud their vision. Reading the band’s Kickstarter campaign page, and watching the accompanying video, Nixon comes across humbled.

“We are NOT trying to take advantage of our fans,” states Nixon on Kickstarter, “so please know that. We understand that there are people working multiple 40+ hour jobs a week to provide for their families, so we know that not everyone could offer any assistance to us…and that is completely okay!”

The album in itself is more than okay. Though, how odd it is to make mention of the first single, “Crooked Smiles” as it was released more than two years ago as a sneak peek. Nixon’s lyrical presentation starts off low, and slowly builds up with emotion before ultimately leading on to full-on screaming. It’s catchy, and not far-fetched from what fans have come to expect.

On the other hand, what was not expected was “Simple Life”, which incorporates elements of dubstep, with the introduction of a wobble bass at the very beginning. The distinct electronic sound of that genre continues throughout the track, but more as an accompanying instrument; a kin to having a philharmonic orchestra supporting a five-piece heavy metal band. In other words, it’s not a break from their hard rock sound; so, no, Framing Hanley is not dubstep. But, its incorporation into the track adds an ingenious wrinkle, showing this album was not sitting on the shelves collecting dust for four years.

Another fresh addition to The Sum of Who We Are is the featuring of Lindsey Stamey on the track, “Rollercoaster.” Stamey, who currently fronts The Few, out of Knoxville, not only compliments Nixon, she winds up being the lasting memory to the song, especially her delivery throughout the chorus.

It’s a fortunate tale that Framing Hanley is back to releasing music and getting back on tour. They are a talent worth the recognition they were receiving, and this newest album is certainly going to get them back on the right track. If perceptions made through their fundraising venture continue to remain true, then they’re certainly a group of guys worth supporting through thick and thin.