Tag: Alternative Rock

Midwest Monday (Episode 3)

Midwest Monday (Episode 3)

Hey all, it’s time for another Midwest Monday featuring Wisconsin’s own Treason This! The band consists of singer/songwriter Michael Ingle, guitarists Chris Merisalo and Jordan August, bassist Taylor Long, and drummer Zach Zander. This indie rock/pop-punk hybrid group formed around 2011 by Michael and Chris, with Michael writing most of the material. Jordan, Zach, and Taylor later joined around 2014 and 2015. The band has released three EPs to date: When Home’s A World Away (2013), Portraits (2013), and Always Perfect (2014). The first two EPs were rereleased as the Any Thoughts? Collection. If you like bands such as Say Anythig, Motion City Soundtrack, and Modern Baseball, then this incredible group is just right for you.

Some of my favorite things about this band are their relatable lyrics the deal with teen angst at it’s purest, the musicality of each individual member, and the fact that they are an amazing up-and-coming band from Wisconsin. This was the band that made me want to initially do a segment like this on the blog because these guys are so super talented. Oh, and it just got announced that not only do they have a new single out, “Joy,” but they are also a winner of the Ernie Ball “Battle Of the Bands” competition for this year’s Warped Tour, meaning that they will be playing the Milwaukee date (July 26th)!! Also, the song “Joy” will be featured on a new EP to be released very soon. I cannot recommend this band enough. My favorite songs include “Moviegoers Dilemma,” “Manic,” “I Hate You Please Die,” “Joy,” and “The Bus To Chicago Told It All.”

If you want to listen/buy Treason This’s music, follow these links below:

http://treasonthis.com/

http://www.youtube.com/Settochange
(music available on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.)

I also did an interview with Michael for my podcast earlier this year, which you can check out right here: https://soundcloud.com/musicinthebasementpodcast/music-in-the-basement-episode-seven-treason-this

Advertisements
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 🙂

New In Review! (4/1)

New In Review! (4/1)

This is no April Fool’s Day prank, New In Review this week is killer! This time, I review Weezer who are back at it again with the White Album (I’m so sorry for that). This is the bands 10th album and follow up to Everything Will Be Alright In the End, which was one of my favorite albums of 2014. When the two main singles got premiered from this album, there has been hype from everyone (more on those songs in a bit), and I was right on that hype train when the album officially got announced. Not much else left to say, so here we go!

The album kicks off with “California Kids,” a track that has a huge trace of the classic ’90s Weezer sound that everybody knows and loves. The chorus contrasts the verses beautifully with heavy drums and guitar with Rivers Cuomo singing “It’s gonna be alright.” And the riffs are so heavy, but so melodic, it’s weird to think that this song has a beachy vibe to it. However, knowing Weezer, it really is normal. The second track, “Wind In Our Sail,” is another stellar track featuring Beatle-esque pop piano at the forefront of a really great groove in the rhythm section of Pat and Scott. The bridge in this song is so beautiful that it could be its own song if there was different material written over it. Also, it shows that there are still some different tracks on the album, like the song that follows. That song being “Thank God For Girls,” which was the first single released from the album. I will admit, I thought it was alright when I first heard it. I even thought it was quite alright when I saw the band back in December (hugest singalong ever, by the way). The reason why? Because it was a little different than the songs on the last album. After listening to it over again on the actual album, I’ve come to really enjoy it, especially production wise. I don’t know if it because the radios I’ve heard it on sucked, but on the official album track, it sounds sonically WAY heavier with more bass and guitars pounding in our eardrums. The only critique I will give is that the ending on the radio edit is better because it actually goes into another chorus instead of just ending on “…..thank god”. Other than that, the song itself is awesome.

“(Girl We Got A) Good Thing,” despite the cheesy title, is actually another solid track. The tambourines make sound a little too much like Christmas, but the whole band actually sounds really killer. The composition itself is pretty simple yet powerful, and the guitar solo is a major highlight in the song, even if it isn’t that long. Very bounce, much wow (okay, enough with the dumb references, I promise). The song after that is “Do You Wanna Get High?” which is the second single that was released prior to the album. This song is definitely the one song on the album that sounds like it could’ve been on Pinkerton. That was back in 1996. 20 years ago. How old do you feel now? ‘Cuz I feel old…even if I was barely one year old, but enough of that. The music on this song is as trippy as the title makes it out to be. This is also one of the heaviest songs on the album as well, which makes it all the better! Track 6 continues the heavy with “King Of The World,” and while it is heavy, it is still a love song. This one was the third single released before the album dropped, and it is my favorite of the three main singles for sure. The riff is classic Weezer, and the band is no holds barred about it here. The three part harmonies also contain that classic vocal style that the band has crafted since the ’90s.

Track 7 is “Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori” is probably the stupidest song title on the album. That being said, the music itself, as well as most of the lyrics, are actually really cool. It is as bouncy as some songs from 2001’s Green Album, but also has a fresher sound than that of the older albums. The guitar solo is also pretty amazing on this song, as well. “L.A. Girlz,” song number 8, is the power ballad on the track. As far as power ballads go, which I don’t think a lot of people do right anymore, this one is one of Weezer’s best. It has the heaviness of Pinkerton combined with the emotional level of “Heart Songs” from 2008’s Red Album. And I actually like that album, so this song’s got my vote. Once again, insert tasty guitar solo here. The next song is “Jacked Up,” and if “Thank God For Girls” had a stepbrother, this would be it. Not saying that this song is a ripoff, because this song is actually pretty cool, it just sounds super similar. The chorus is actually really cool, as it showcases River’s extended vocal range throughout the majority of it. “Endless Bummer” concludes the album pretty well. It starts out as an acoustic jam, to going full band by the bridge. This is not something that Weezer does often, but on here it’s done right. Even if it was just strictly acoustic, it would still be a great song. Then again, it wouldn’t have a cool buildup like it already has. Or another killer guitar solo(s).

Overall, this album is a solid followup from the last one, which I didn’t think it was possible. But once again, the gents in Weezer proved all of us wrong. This album and the one before that is the best “one-two punch” the band has had in their career since Blue Album to Pinkerton, and I am not exaggerating when I say that. What I will say is this: if you are a fan of the band, GO BUY THIS ALBUM. Oh, and I hope you all survive the pranking today…I didn’t.*

Rating: 8.75/10

Standout tracks: “California Kids,” “Wind In Our Sail,” “(Girl We Got A) Good Thing,” “King Of The World,” “Do You Wanna Get High?”

*Here’s how I got pranked: my girlfriend actually told me today that she got this album in the mail today….she lied…and I got sad 😦

*Second update: I ordered it on my own, anyway 🙂

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.

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! (2/12)

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”

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.