Month: May 2016

New In Review! (5/27)

New In Review! (5/27)

Oh yeah, this week’s New In Review is gonna be a good one: Real Friends have released their sophomore album The Home Inside My Head, and I am BEYOND stoked!! This album is the followup to their acclaimed debut full-length Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing. I also want to take some time first to say thank you to whoever reads my reviews/other blog posts. It really means a lot to me, and it’s been really fun with all of the pretty great albums that have been released this year so far. Which reminds me…let’s get this one started, shall we? The album opens with the heavy-hitter, “Stay In One Place.”Right away, the sound of the album’s production sets up how the rest of the album will sound: amazing! There’s an interesting incorporation of backup vocals in the chorus, which is not something the Illinois Sad Boys are known for. That being said, it’s working so far. And so far, this track is a surefire standout song. Great melodies, poetic lyrics, everything you want in Real Friends. Song number 2 is “Empty Picture Frames,” and it’s a bouncy little number. This is the song where the album’s title (and I guess the album artwork, as well) comes from. This song is definitely a vocal highlight on the album because there are a lot of different techniques/recording effects that are focused on in the song. The bridge is also groovy as hell! Definitely another powerful song that solidifies a one-two punch for the first two songs on this record. “Keep Lying To Me” is up next. This track feels like it could’ve been on the EP Put Yourself Back Together, but in reality, it trumps most of that EP anyway. Heavy guitars dominate the track, and the chorus has now become one of my favorites already!

Track 4 is “Scared To Be Alone,” which was the second single that was released prior to the album. I listened to this song a lot back when it was first released, and it is probably my favorite of the singles that were released; which is saying something, because all of the singles are amazing (but we’ll get to the rest of them shortly). Every single aspect of this song is perfection. From the vocal melodies, to the bit of punk in the drums, to the heavy guitars once again. It’s truly stunning, and that’s the only word that best captures the emotion that the song projects. Things begin to slow down with “Mokena,” song number five, and single number 4. Probably the saddest song the band has written since “I’ve Given Up On You” (on Put Yourself Back Together). It also has some of the most powerful/emotionally provoking lyrics the band has to offer. If they play this song live, tears will be shed. Song 6, and single number 3 “Mess,” picks the energy back up with a lively tune about who the narrator was throughout the last year, while claiming that he’s still a “Lost Boy” (reference to the song of the same name). This song actually could’ve been on the last album as a bonus track. The reason why I say bonus track is because it wouldn’t fully fit on that album. On this album, with this collection of songs, it does have a home.

The second half starts off with “Isolating Everything.” The song starts, and kicks you right in the gut, and it just doesn’t stop. The riffs in this song are crushing, and I do love the progressiveness (for lack of a better term) in the verses to show that it’s not just straight ahead 4/4. The only soft section in the song is in the bridge, and even that hits you in the gut. But then….it finishes! Leaving you wanting more!! “Well, I’m Sorry,” is up next, and this track is unapologetic in the best sense of the words. Hints of pop-punk cover the verses, whereas the choruses are half-timed to perfection. Mmmmmm, tasty (sorry about that). Another cool feature about this song: a sort of “guitar solo,” if you will. You’ll see why I put that in quotations when you listen to the song. Seriously, you should really listen to it. You’ll like it. I promise. Anyway, the next song is “Basement Stairs,” and it continues to pack that emotional gut punch, singing about getting over a breakup and thinking of the good times that were had. There is no “soft” moment in this song either, which is beautiful in its own right. It’s truly amazing that the excitement still hasn’t left me!!

“Door Without A Key” is track number ten. This track has one of the best choruses on the album. Bar none. The song as a whole is really flawless, but that melody, though. Makes me kick myself a little bit that I didn’t write it first! Same with the bridge, too, now that I listen to it. Dammit! Oh well. Song 11 is “Eastwick,” the only acoustic song on the album. That’s another thing about the band that I appreciate is that they put out powerful acoustic jams that are just as powerful as the electric jams (maybe even more powerful, at times). So add this to the pile of insanely great acoustic songs that the band has. This song also feels really short, even though it is 3 minutes. But I’m not even complaining about that. The album closer is “Colder Quicker.” This was the first song released as a song from the album, and the fact that it actually comes last on the album makes me very happy. This song, and “Scared To Be Alone,” really whetted my appetite for the album, and now that I’m listening to it as a closer, it’s just…I’m at a loss for words. I’m just gonna fucking cut it off right here and say this: GO BUY THIS ALBUM. You will not regret it at all!!

Rating: 10/10

Standout tracks: The whole album is amazing 🙂

Midwest Monday (Episode 1)

Midwest Monday (Episode 1)

So I’m gonna try something new here: I’ve been getting more and more into really, really cool Midwest/local bands that have been popping up over the last few years. That being said, this segment is going to be short blurbs of kind words about—you guessed it. Anyway, this first post is all about a band that’s doing really well in the genre of easycore.

They’re called Settle Your Scores from Cincinnati, Ohio. The five-piece group consists of vocalist Christian Fisher, guitarists Ricky Uhlenbrock and Patrick Bryant, bassist Jeffery Borer, and drummer Caleb Smith. This band is for fans of easycore bands like A Day To Remember & Four Year Strong, as well as pop-punk bands like ROAM and Seaway. Now I am normally not a fan of easycore, but this band was a really good find. They put their debut album The Wilderness back in January this year, and it is smokin’! The guitars have a very metallic sound similar to ADTR/FYS, even the vocals have a Jeremy McKinnon feel to it, but the cool thing is that it sounds very much SYS. That’s not an easy (no pun intended) thing to say when it comes to a genre of music such as easycore, but it really does work. The lyrics that easycore bands are very cliche, topics include girls, revenge, more girls, getting out of their hometown, and more girls. As much as those topics are present in SYS’s songs, they make it their own, and are pure, kickass tunes.

Not only are the songs amazing, but so are the song titles. They’re about as long as 2005 emo pop titles, but they’re extremely entertaining. My personal favorite song title is “How to Screw Up Your Future and Disappoint Your Love Ones.” Another personal favorite song of mine is “Cashing In Your Reality Check.” It has distinct ADTR sounding verses with a type of chorus that New Found Glory would be proud of. And the breakdown? Siiiiiick. But enough of my words, here’s the link to they’re album stream on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLISzAbhMLwM7dvClR162i-14lKN8eLIvv

I highly recommend this group because they’re really talented musicians that come from a scene where songs can sound the same, but this group definitely takes it to the max and shows the world that their genre isn’t dead/cliche. If you can, catch them on the “Guardians of Easycore Tour” opening up for Abandoned By Bears and For The Win. Dates are still up until June 12th, with the tour ending in San Diego, CA at the legendary SOMA. To get their album, The Widerness, here’s their Bandcamp link: https://settleyourscores.bandcamp.com/album/the-wilderness
(music also available on iTunes & Spotify)

Social media links:

https://twitter.com/syspoppunk
https://www.youtube.com/user/settleyourscores

New In Review! (Week of 5/13)

New In Review! (Week of 5/13)

Hey everyone! It’s been awhile since New In Review has come around (I’ve been busy with finals/finishing up my sophomore year of college, oy), but I guarantee this one is worth the wait. The reason? Modern Baseball. Another reason? They’ve officially released Holy Ghost! It is the much anticipated follow-up to their last studio album You’re Gonna Miss It All (2014, my personal favorite MoBo release). Here’s a couple of fun facts before we get into the review:
1. As you all know, I usually do album reviews on first listen. This is the first album I listened to before I sat down to write this post. I just couldn’t help myself because I was really stoked on this album!
2. I’m really glad that they did not put any songs from the EP that they released last year (simply known as The Perfect Cast EP, which is also really good, so check it out, too). Sometimes you’ll see artists/bands make EPs that have songs that end up on the album, which makes it more like a sampler more than an EP. Thankfully, this was not the case for the Philadelphia indie punkers.
3. Since I’ve listened to this album already, I’ll give you guys some cool info: the album is technically split up into two parts. “How is this possible?” you may ask. It’s split right down the middle with the first half being songs written by Jake Ewald (co-lead vocals/guitar), and the second half being written by Brendan Lukens (co-lead vocals/guitar). I thought this was an interesting strategy because past releases have been split up pretty equally, this was a straight ahead approach that turned out to be really cool. That being said, I’ve typically preferred Bredan’s voice over Jake’s, but again, that’s just personal preference.

Now that that’s out of my system, on with the review! The intro track/title track is a beautiful little ditty with powerful lyrics and a simple, yet effective melody. Apparently, after watching the documentary that they made revolving around this album, the song is based on Jake’s grandfather and what he meant to him and his family as a stable force. When you think about it that way, it just makes the song more emotional. It makes you wonder what it would be like if it was longer! That song flows into track number 2, “Wedding Singer,” which is the third single that has been released. Of all the songs on “Side Jake,” this one is one of my favorite songs that he has sung lead on since “Broken Cash Machine,” on the last album. You can also notice one key thing about this one: it sets up the style of production of the entire record — solid, but not as polished as YGMIA. Killer bassline in the verses, as well. The next song is “Note To Self.” Speaking of bass, the lines in this song are amazing! It’s a little slower than the previous song, but the chorus is catchy as hell. Other than that, there’s not really much else too special about this song. Just the typical MoBo sound, but a little more refined in some parts. By the way, Jake gets a little screamy on this song near the end, and it’s SUPER killer!

“Mass” is the next track, which actually could be short for “Massachusetts.” This is probably my favorite track, as far as musicality goes. Poppy, but definitely feels very indie/punk/emo/whatever you wanna call it. Only caveat I find is that it needs to be longer! Next up is the first single released, “Everyday.” At first listen, I wasn’t too crazy over it, especially in the first verses; even though, Jake’s approach with falsetto vocals at times is cool. However, I will admit, this song does have a groove once you get into it. Again, killer bass licks are present in this song. It does, unfortunately, end on an abrupt note. Oh well. Jake’s half of the album concludes with the song “Hiding,” which is actually somewhat epic, to say the least. Starting off softly and acoustic, points of distortion creep up when you least expect it <hint, drums, hint>. It definitely sounds the most different on this side of the album, but it really does work. It is Jake’s sendoff to his side to give way to Brendan’s side. In terms of overall songwriting, this one is my favorite on “Side Jake.”

“Side Brendan” starts with the somewhat namesake song “Coding These To Lukens.” In a short description, it starts off interestingly, but by the second half, Brendan comes out of his angry shell and rocks hard! “Breathing In Stereo” follows, and the rocking doesn’t stop at all on this song. This is probably the heaviest song on the album, and the guitars are at their most distorted and punk sounding. Even though there’s a sudden slowing down near the end, the emotion is still there, and the song picks back up for the last 10 seconds. Track 9 is “Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind.” Honestly, also at first listen, I couldn’t really get into the beat. It sounded a little, dare I say, U2-ish. Which isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just a little too left field for my MoBo taste. Now I know, that there is probably a deeper meaning behind the song, which is fine because it’s a pretty chill song, it’s just not my favorite.

“What If…” is the penultimate song on the album, starting off as a continuation of “Apple Cider.” Honestly, the song sounds like fragments of “Apple Cider,” but making it sound better. I do predict that when they play “Apple Cider” live, no doubt that “What If…” will be played in succession, as if it was one track. The concluding song on the album, “Just Another Face,” packs a big mid-tempo, alt-rock punch. Like “Hiding” on “Side Jake,” it is the other most epic sounding song on the record. It punches you right in the gut, but in a different way than “Hiding.” It feels more of a heavier punch, which is for sure a great thing in my book. It is also probably the most emotional sounding song lyrically of the Brendan songs.

Honestly, props to the guys in MoBo for writing a solid follow up to a record that actually got me more into the band. There are a few flaws though. First, the album is now officially the shortest of their catalog, which is great in some respects, but in this case, it brings me to the next flaw; some of the songs sound way too short and abrupt <hint, “Everyday,” hint>. Even though there are some killer songs on this album, there are tunes that feel like, not really duds, but what I like to call “songs that could have been.” I will say this though, if you have been a fan since either the beginning til about 2014, you will really like this album. Hmm, now that I think about it, if you replace some of the songs on Holy Ghost with songs from The Perfect Cast EP, it would make for one hell of an album. Again, oh well. No matter what, my love for this band will not die. Keep it up!

Rating: 8/10

Standout tracks: “Breathing In Stereo,” “Hiding,” “Just Another Face,” “Wedding Singer,” “Mass”