Tag: Pop Punk

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:


(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

Midwest Monday — On A Tuesday (Episode 2)

Midwest Monday — On A Tuesday (Episode 2)

Yes I know, it’s not Monday, but I do want this segment to continue. And I promise, I will be more on time with these things. I will say this though: be on the look out for something cool music-wise coming from me! That’s all I will say on that note…anyway, Midwest Monday is back again with another new band that’ll knock your teeth out.

Charlie Siren is a four-piece pop-punk band from Minneapolis, MN. The band consists of Tane Graves (vocals/guitar), Aaron Reed (guitar), Dustin Reed (bass), and Paeton Gillette (drums). The band formed back in 2012, and have three official releases: This Is Home (2013), a split EP with Chicago band Et Tu Brute (2014), and most recently Mood Swings (2016) on Loud, Broke, and Dumb Records. If I had to compare them to other bands, I’d say they’re a love child coming from Knuckle Puck, Yellowcard, New Found Glory, and 2004 era of Senses Fail (minus the screamo parts). Their latest album was the first album that I heard from them, as I was recommended to them from a friend. I could not get over how well the album was produced! Each instrument can be clearly heard through any speaker, not to mention the songs are catchy as all hell. This band definitely gives a huge shot in the arm to current pop-punk bands that are starting out in the Midwest.

Not only are these guys amazing at music, they did something special with the release of Mood Swings: for the first month of the release, they donated 50% of their album sales “My Pit Bull Is Family,” a non-profit organization that focuses on ending Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). This is one of my favorite things not just about Midwest bands, but bands from every corner of the globe: supporting a charity that means a lot to them. It just goes to show that the band is passionate not only in their music, but causes that mean just as much to them. Some of my favorite songs by the band include “Twenty-Five,” “So Long,” “Indigent Mindset,” and “The Fabulist.”

If you want to listen/buy Charlie Siren’s music, follow these links below:
(music also on iTunes, Spotify, etc.)

Social media links:

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:


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”

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 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”