Flashback Friday (Episode 1)

Flashback Friday (Episode 1)

Hey all! After an extensive break, the blog posts are back. This week, I’m introducing a new segment called “Flashback Fridays.” This segment is where I tell stories about some of the best concerts that I have been to. This first one is going to be about the time where I saw my favorite band of all time: the mighty Green Day. It’s coming up on the three year anniversary of the concert, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was March 28th, 2013. This was the first official day of spring break my junior year of high school. It was also the first official tour date of Green Day’s “99 Revolutions” tour, and one of Billie Joe Armstrong’s first shows post-rehab after postponing the original trek for the band’s Uno, Dos, Tre tour. Needless to say, I was stoked to be going to the show, regardless of any member’s rehab trips. I took my best friend Tim with, because he is just as big of a Green Day fan as I am.

The venue was the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois (directly northwest of Chicago). Tim and I got to the venue around 4, and there was a huge line wrapped at least 1.5 times over the arena. The waiting in line was not that bad, but what was the worst was when the doors finally opened around 6:30. We bought GA tickets that gave us access to the floor (which was awesome), but getting them was a struggle. Not because of any wrongdoings of the venue staff, but the fact that there was at least ten thousand other people crowding around a table that had four venue employees handing out wristbands. Doesn’t sound like the safest thing in the world. As soon as I got my own wristband, one lady instructed me to “tell people to back up from the table because it’s about to fucking fall over.” Probably the worst part of the whole experience, but seeing the show on the floor was totally worth it.

So we get to the floor at a pretty decent time and we were at a pretty good distance from the stage. The opening act for the tour was Best Coast, and they were alright. I had heard of them before, but never sat down and listened to any of their records. They played ten songs that were on average 2-2.5 minutes almost in the same key for every song. Nothing against that band, because their style is indie-surf rock type music, but it wasn’t the greatest thing that I saw. Green Day, on the other hand, made up for any bullshit that went on beforehand. They took the stage, and started their set with the song “99 Revolutions” as if they haven’t taken a break at all. Every guy was in top form, and I was getting taken back to when I was 9 years old again getting American Idiot (my first ever album). I sang along to every song that I knew the words to — so all of them — without a care in the world that my voice was about to get sore as hell. They had the best light show that I had ever seen, too. The sketchiest part of the show was when I almost got pushed into a mosh pit during the song “Letterbomb,” even though every other song I was five feet away from a pit every other song.

The only mentions of Billie Joe’s rehab stint were during only two songs (“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Minority” to be exact), and to me it wasn’t cheesy at all, because I was just happy to be seeing my heroes performing live. Other cool banter included asking the crowd which older songs that they wanted to hear. Songs included “Disappearing Boy,” “2,000 Light Years Away,” “She,” and “Brain Stew.” The only transition that I thought was weird was going from “Brain Stew” to “St. Jimmy” because of the different tuning between those two songs. Other than that, the set was spotless. And I also enjoyed all of the new songs that they did throw in because there are some really killer songs and Uno, Dos, and Tre.

Getting out of the venue traffic was not as enjoyable as the concert, but the Taco Bell afterwards was. Honestly, I know this is going to be cliche of me to say this, but it really was the best concert that I have ever seen. The reason being is because it was awe-inspiring to see the band that got me into the music that I love today. So to them I say, thank you Green Day, for everything that you mean to me in my life. I cannot wait for the next time that I see you guys again! Oh, and thank you Tim for tagging along with me. It was definitely the best start to a spring break ever.

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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.

New In Review! (1/29)

This week’s “New In Review” is another killer review! I will be reviewing Promise Everything by Basement.

For those of you that don’t know, Basement is a band from Ipswich, England formed in 2009. Their previous releases include the EPs Songs About the Weather (2010), Further Sky (2014), and the albums I Wish I Could Stay Here (2011), and Colourmekindness (2012), all released on Run for Cover Records. Popular songs by them include “Covet,” “Pine,” “Fading,” “Whole,” “Earl Grey,” and “Every Single Word.” If I had to describe what they sound like, I’d say they sound like The Promise Ring (’90s emo band from Wisconsin, check them out too), with a heavy punk tinge to it.

I had known of Basement a little bit when everyone made a big deal about them going on hiatus around 2012. It was then that I decided to listen to the albums that they had already put out. I gotta say, I became a fan right after listening to those albums. They fueled my anxiousness a little more, and I was not disappointed.

The opening track, “Brother’s Keeper,” opens up the album right where Colourmekindness left off. The guitars go from loud and melodic to slow and softer within the first minute of the song. Needless to say, this is the track that says “We’re Basement, and we are back.” The second song “Hanging Around” has riffs that sound like they could’ve been Nirvana songs (a band that Basement is hugely influenced by). It is a perfectly crafted 3 minute alternative rock song, and from first listen, it is one of my favorites on this album. It’s also followed by the slower, but equally grungy song “Lose Your Grip.” The music on this track goes from layered and heavy, to at times spacious, especially in the second verse. Both of those songs are a one-two punch that they need to play live.

“Aquasun,” the third single from the album, showcases groove, which to me is not normally present in Basement’s music, but it works very well on this track. The guitar harmonics intro is one of the highlights on the album, as well as the bridge, which is so simple yet emotion pours out of the band’s soul fluidly. No, these were not puns because of the title…or is that just me (?)…nevermind. Anyway, the first half of the album ends with “Submission,” a loud, yet bouncy track with wonderful vocal harmonies over a KICK-ASS guitar riff. Definitely another favorite of mine, and this could very well be a big fan favorite in my opinion. If “Submission” ends the first half with a bang, “Oversized,” the second single, starts the second half with a smoke break. This is Basement’s “island chill” track: simple, relaxing, and gentle.

“Blinded Bye” could be noted as a Weezer Blue Album sound-alike song, but it is still another standout track on this record for sure. The vocal harmonies shine on this track as bright as Weezer’s do, but not as intricate and layered. “For You The Moon” continues the groove with one of the sickest choruses on the whole album! Lyrically, this song is a love song, beautifully created with the theme of asking for someone to love the main character back. Oh yeah, and this also has the greatest guitar noise interlude on the album too. The title track, and first single from the album, brings the bounce back up. The highlight on this track is the bass break/interlude because the tone that you hear is what every punk bassist always kills for. They have already played this live, and it is currently their most streamed song on Spotify. I can see why, because this song is amazing! The closing track, “Halo,” is another slower song, but it is hauntingly beautiful. And for being the shortest song on the album, it’s like one big teardrop that falls down and drowns people in their goosebumps and leaving them wanting more.

I will say this: it is a lot lighter than Colourmekindness. I mean that in all the best sense of that word. It’s more of a fun record than the last one, and a little brighter. If you are a fan of Basement, you will not hate this record. I promise you that…okay now that was an unintentional pun 🙂

Rating: 10/10
Standout tracks: Basically, the whole album.