Month: February 2016

My Podcast

My Podcast

Hey, everyone. So I have a fun fact for you: the name for this blog comes from the Podcast that I started a little under a year ago! It is up on SoundCloud, and I bring to you the first new episode in a long time. My guest this time around is Michael Ingle, the frontman of the Milwaukee indie/punk rock band Treason This. If you like what you hear from this podcast, there are six other episodes that are available for listening and free download (just in case you want to save it for yourself). My thanks to everyone who has supported me with whatever I do, whether it is the music I make, the podcast, or even this blog. So with no further delay, here is the the latest Music In the Basement podcast episode:

If you like what you here, the website for my podcast is soudcloud.com/musicinthebasementpodcast.

Thank you all!
-Eddie Ryan

New In Review! (2/19) Part II

New In Review! (2/19) Part II

Part II of this week’s New In Review is commencing…NOW! The album we are looking at is First Day Back, the second full length album by the band Somos. For those that do not know, the band formed in 2012, and they hail from Boston MA. The band has previously released two split EPs (one with Sorority Noise and one with Have Mercy), and the tremendous debut album Temple Of Plenty. I will admit (and I apologize in advance), the first song that I heard by them was “Dead Wrong” on the radio, and at first I thought it was a Rise Against song *hangs head in embarrassment*. Reason being is because I thought vocalist Michael Fiorentino sounded like Tim McIlrath. However, after listening to Temple Of Plenty over and over again, I would compare Somos to bands that sound more like You Blew It! and Head North. After reading early reviews of First Day Back, one of them said that it sounded different than then first album and unpredictable at times; thus, my curiosity was sparked even more. So let’s do this thing!

The intro track “Slow Walk To The Graveyard Shift” is an atmospheric prelude that sets the listener up for something slow and somber, but instead goes into the next song “Violent Decline.” Somewhat upbeat music is coated with somewhat sad lyrics. The drums sound AMAZING on this track, which is actually one thing I admire about the band in general. The vocals also do not sound similar to the vocals on Temple, but they sound great nonetheless. They sound a little more mature, if you will. Up next is “Thorn In The Side,” which is the second single from the album. The upbeat tempo continues on this track, but the guitars are not as distorted as you would want them to be. The chorus on this track is pretty killer, too. “Problem Child” has a chill vibe to it. It is a pretty relaxing song, considering the lyrical content is about…well, a problem child. The final chorus in this song, however, brings a brief bounciness to the mix.

“Reminded/Weighed Down” brings the album back up after having the last three songs sound very similar to one another. Again, the drums are sick on this track! The vocal melody in the chorus is also simple, but super catchy, which is something that I have a fondness for. Track six, “Days Here Are Long,” brings back the atmospheric vibe that was featured on “Graveyard Shift.” Unfortunately, this songs feels a little incomplete. Then again, considering it’s the middle song, it could be considered more of an interlude. “Room Full Of People” might be my favorite on this album. Mellow, melodic guitar lines, intricate drumbeats, a thumping bass line, and the smoothest vocals ever make this song a masterpiece. It is also the first song on this album that is more than 3 minutes. “You Won’t Stay,” threw me for a loop. Synths and reverberated vocals start off the song, and it pretty much stays that way for the entirety of its duration. If their goal was to make an album that was more of an ambient vibe, this is one of the tracks that achieves this goal.

Next up is “Alright, I’ll Wait,” which was the first single released from this album. This song has the BEST chorus on the whole album. The guitars are also the “heaviest” here, which makes this song even sweeter, and the contrast between verse and chorus way better. The guitar interlude is also very pretty. “Bitter Medicine” is the shortest “full” song on the album, but this one also feels like a little interlude. Not a giant fan of this song because of that, unfortunately. Not much else to say about it, either. “Lifted From The Current” closes out this short LP on somewhat of a high note. The song doesn’t have a set structure, but then again, some of the songs on here do not have one, either. Using that formula on this song, on the other hand, actually works. On the other hand, the outro kinda disappoints me because it doesn’t sound complete. It just sounds anticlimactic.

If Somos’ goal was to make an album that sounded completely different than their first album, they definitely achieved their dream. While the album itself is only 27 minutes, there are some highlights on this album. That being said, it does feel too short/incomplete at times, especially on the more “ambient” songs on here. For someone listening to this record for the first time, I would say that it would have to take some getting used to, especially if you’re like me and worship Temple Of Plenty (which is something I usually don’t do when it comes to new music by newer bands). Either way, I will support this band because the music that they do make is pretty amazing. However, if I were to suggest where to start with this band, it would not be this album.

Rating: 7.5/10
Standout tracks: “Alright, I’ll Wait,”  “Room Full Of People,” “Reminded/Weighed Down”

New In Review! (2/19) Part I

New In Review! (2/19) Part I

This week for “New In Review,” I will be reviewing not one, but TWO albums that came out this weekend! The first album is Life Lessons, the debut album by Made For Broadway. Formed in Johannesburg, South Africa around early 2014, the band has released two previous EPs: Chemistry (2014), and Solid Ground (2015). The first song I ever heard from them was “This Is War” from the Chemistry EP, and I was hooked by their catchy and simple brand of pop punk. If I could compare them to any band/artist, I would say that they are along the line of Motion City Soundtrack with hints of Neck Deep and Four Year Strong. Another one of my favorite songs by them is “Monsters” from the Solid Ground EP, as well. Check that out, too! Anyway, let’s get started shall we?

The album starts out with the first single “Royalty.” Already, the song sets the stage for the production of the album: heavy guitars, audible bass, and amazing drum quality. The song also showcases singer Justin James’ higher vocal range, and it is pretty amazing. Bouncy, but punk: just the way they like it. “True Love,” the second track, picks up the pace. It is an overall perfect song: sick chorus, great verses, and killer guitar riffs. This song definitely keeps their sound in tact, but compared to their previous EPs, it shows a tremendous amount of growth and maturity in their songwriting. This song NEEDS to be played live! The next song, “Mayday Tonight,” continues the catchiness that the album has to offer. The lyrical content is about having a “plane crash epiphany” about the addictions that the storyteller has. Definitely another killer track, and another song that needs to be played live. One of the best guitar riffs on the album, too!

“Together (Parallel Universe)” resembles huge comparisons to Commit This To Memory-era Motion City Soundtrack and blink-182 a-la Enema Of The State. Not that this is a bad thing, of course. This is a vocal highlight on the album, thanks to amazing melodies that will get stuck in your head in an instant. The next two songs, “Solid Ground” and “Hit The Road,” were already featured on the Solid Ground EP, but theses re-recorded versions outdo the original recordings all day long. For one, the drum intro to “Solid Ground” is much more heavy hitting, making the sound more “easycore” than the previous songs on the album. The re-recorded version of “Hit The Road” also has better production quality, and it has more of an audible bass line along with more prominent guitars. Having the addition of breaking glass in the bridge is another added bonus that made go “Holy shit!” (Turns out, it’s okay to curse on here). This song was one my other favorite song on the EP, and is probably another live staple in their set. That being said, it won’t be going away any time soon! Both songs are amazing in their own right, but making them better for this album just makes it sweeter.

The second half of the album starts out with “Say I Do.” This is another bouncy track about the fantasy of marriage that the main character wants, but doesn’t want at the same time because both him and the woman he refers to are completely different. This song has a bass interlude that it simple, but super killer thanks to the tone. This also has one of the greatest choruses on the whole album. The next song, “Bittersweet,” is one hell of a heavy hitter on this album. Chugging guitars are present throughout, and once again, the chorus of this song is one of the best on the record. Then again, the same could be said for the verses and the bridge, too. This is also another song that showcases the Justin’s low to high range beautifully. Gang vocals also included. Speaking of which, “Bottles,” the next song, not only has great riffs, but waaaaaayyyy amazing vocal melodies and lyrics. That, and a “brutal” breakdown (for lack of a better term). Heavy AF \m/\ \m/

“Move” tops the “heaviest songs on the album” list. Screaming is featured more in this song than any other, and the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals are at their best on this track. Not much else to say except this: Dammit, this NEEDS TO BE PLAYED LIVE!!! Track 10 “Dawning” continues the one-two-punch with amazing guitar riffs/melodies, killer vocals, and a driving bass line. If the band can pull this song off live, I will be impressed. Man, I keep getting at a loss for words during certain points on this album. Is that bad? I don’t think so! The album closer, “I Won’t Apologize,” in my opinion, is a wild card. The lyrics talk about wanting to dance with a girl, which is definitely different than most of the subject matter on the album. The chorus is actually fantastic, but the song as a whole is…interesting. Not bagging on it for being different, but as an album closer, my answer is: meh. If it was placed differently in the track listing, then it’d be a different story. Speaking of interesting, the reason why the last track is six minutes long is because there is a *spoiler alert* hidden (comedic) track! No name is given, but I will call this song “Meow.” You will see why once you listen to it.

In conclusion, I see nothing a very bright future for this South African band. This album makes me want to eat pizza on my longboard in the summer time. As a message to Made For Broadway: I know that you guys have toured the US before, but question: have you guys ever came to the Midwest? If not, please come to Wisconsin ASAP! Keep up the rocking, gentlemen!

Rating: 9/10
Standout tracks: “Move,” “Dawning,” “Hit The Road,” “Say I Do,” “True Love,” “Bittersweet”

New In Review! (2/12)

It’s that time of week again—-it’s another New In Review! This week, the album is What We’re Missing,  by a band called Grayscale. The Pennsylvania emo/alternative rock band formed in late 2011 and have previously released three EPs: Leaving (2013), Libra Sessions (2014), and Change (2015). This is their first full-length album and second release on Anchor Eighty Four Records. The band’s I would compare them to would be Brand New, The Starting Line, and Transit. I got into this band around the time Change came out, so I’m still a little new to the game that is Grayscale, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t eager for this new album! So here it goes:

The album starts out with “Tense,” a slow, but equally strong song that sets the mood for the album you are about to here. The song is about hoping someone will feel the same pain that they caused the storyteller. It pours out emotion to no end, no holds barred. The next song and the first single from the album, “Palette,” is a bouncy and poppy track that follows almost the same lyrical theme that “Tense” had to offer. “Midwest” is the third song in the collection, and it’s highlight is the acoustic guitar strumming that is partially hidden throughout the heavy guitars. The theme is different on this song; it could be said that the song is about wanting a relationship to work and doing anything to make it so. Definitely a favorite of mine.

“Say Something,” which is also on the Change EP, is a song about the future. One of the poppier songs on the album, it is a cry for answers about what will happen next in the main character’s life with his current flame. This track has one of the coolest breakdowns on the album with a simple, but very effective guitar “solo.” The next track is also from the previous EP: a re-worked version of  the”Change.” While there are little to no differences between the two versions of “Say Something,” “Change” is completely reborn. The original version of the song is very much more rock oriented. In contrast, the vocals are not as screamy, but the emotion is a little stronger here. The new take on here also has more instrumentation, which add more layers of color to the song (acoustic guitar, bells, tambourine, etc). I actually do not prefer one version over the other because each version sounds like a somewhat different song, which is what makes it special, especially on this new album. The next song “Catholic,” which is also the second single, is one of the heaviest songs on the album. What lack of screaming there is on the new version of “Change,” “Catholic” makes up for it, but there are also bells on this track, too. “Strange” you say? I say “Nay!”

Anyway, the last third of the album begins with “Bloom.” The riffs on this song are stuff that I wish I wrote. If there is one track on here that showcases the perfect balance of heavy but very melodic, this is the song. Seriously. It’s that good. That being said, the song “Irish Curtains,” is more than likely the darkest and emotionally haunting song on the album. The song is about suicide prevention, and it gave me goosebumps on the first listen; especially in the last chorus of the song where the music gets heavier, and the singer screams the words “Suicide won’t fix any of this, put down the knife and wash your hands.” If this song ever gets performed live, there will be tears, guaranteed. The album closer “August Love” ends the album on more of a poppy note, presenting the up-beatness (is that even a word?) that was present on songs like “Midwest.” It’s another bouncy track, and is definitely a singing highlight on the album.

If none of you have heard of Grayscale before reading this review, I say drop everything (unless it’s really that important), and listen to this album. You may have to be in the right mood or mind-frame, if anything, but it is still a solid record nonetheless.

Rating: 9/10
Standout tracks: “Midwest,” “Change,” “Catholic,” “Bloom,” “Irish Curtains”

VINYL TIME (Episode 2)

It’s been a while since the first segment of Vinyl Time has been posted, so I figured this week, I’ll do another one! This week, I showcase this gorgeous, colorful LP from Neck Deep.

For those that don’t know (you probably should), Neck Deep is a pop-punk band from Wrexham, North Wales. The band is comprised of Ben Barlow (vocals), Fil-Thorpe Evans (bass), Matt West (guitar), Dani Washington (drums), and newcomer Sam Bowden (guitar; he replaced Lloyd Roberts). The band has released two EPs (Rain In July and A History of Bad Decisions) and two albums (Wishful Thinking and Life’s Not Out to Get You) since forming in 2012. I got turned on to them thanks to the band Knuckle Puck, who released a split with them in 2013. Their main influences include blink-182, New Found Glory, and Sum 41, and it really shows through their crushing (sometimes tender) music and emotional lyrics.

The album Wishful Thinking was the first Neck Deep album that I’ve ever heard, and I was hooked ever since I first heard songs like “Crushing Grief (No Remedy),” “Zoltar Speaks” (which might be my favorite on the album), and “Mileage.” This album has 12 songs in 34 minutes, and just like the rest of their discography, it is perfection. Produced by the band and Seb Barlow (Ben’s brother), it is sonically reminiscent to NFG and A Day to Remember bringing some nostalgia to the mix, but each song proves that the band is fresh as f*** (can I curse on here? I can’t remember). The drums, bass, and guitar tones on this album are some of the best that I have heard from a pop-punk band in the last five or six years. As soon as I saw this in the record shop that I frequent, I knew I was going to buy this album; even though I own all of their stuff on CD, still…VINYL.

Anyway, my favorite feature of this not only the beautiful splatter of yellow, green, and red, but also the fortuneteller’s face in the middle of the freaking record! It just makes the album feel more special with every listen, and I’m sure I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to this album for sure. I will admit though, I was a little bummed to find out that there was no inside gatefold, but there is a giant lyric sheet/credits list, which is also pretty cool. Speaking of the fortuneteller, is his name actually Zoltar? Might be a stupid question, but still not too sure.

If I had to tell someone which Neck Deep release to start with, I would say either this album or Life’s Not Out to Get You which is the newest one. Nothing bad against the EPs, but I do think that both studio albums are better starting points for someone who hasn’t listened to the band before. Side-note: my favorite song by these guys is probably “Gold Steps,” which is on the new album, because it’s so motivational. But I will talk about that a different time. Either way, please do yourself a favor, and pick up this album and listen to it from beginning to end. You will thank me later.