The Front Bottoms-Going Grey

The Front Bottoms were at one time leading figures in the emo-revival.  A weird pop-punk band from New Jersey that let indie rock and folk influences bleed through.  They had lyrics that masked emotion through humor and wits.  Also, they were huge.  They could book their own festival at New York’s Webster Hall with their friends and favorite bands and sell it out.  They toured with emo-vets Brand New on numerous occasions and wrote one of the decades’ best songs about life on the roadBack On Top was a major creative leap for the band, adding much more electric instrumentation than before, and it paid off.  The best songs off Back On Top could square off with any number of songs from their self-titled album or Talon of Hawk.  Unfortunately, Going Grey shows them doing just that: greying into a mediocre band. Continue reading

Go Ahead and Walk Away: Modern Baseball-Union Transfer, 10/14/17

Even though Modern Baseball made a name for themselves with raw, uncomfortably honest, yet catchy pop-punk, they’ve always been goofy guys.  Watch any interview the quartet provides with each other, and they’re always messing around.  This screw-around attitude does not draw a line in their interviews.  They’ve never been shy about messing around onstage and cracking jokes.  Despite some dark times and no-bullshit relatable lyrics, it’s no surprise that the band’s penultimate “last show for the foreseeable future” show at Union Transfer on October 13 was not some gut-wrenching sobfest.  It was a night of strong emotional performances and a good handful of laughs to be had. Continue reading

The Wonder Years-Burst & Decay

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Acoustic albums and EPs are often a cheap attempt to cater to fans when there’s a significant amount of time between album releases.  Assuming its coming out next year, The Wonder Years’ forthcoming LP will mark the longest number of years in between two albums.  Their most recent release Burst & Decay could have been just a quick EP to knock off to make a quick buck and satiate fans with the type of stripped down performance that they’ve previously done in record stores and a few Christmas shows.  Still, The Wonder Years maintain that they’re a band dedicated to giving their all for everything they do, and Burst & Decay is the rare example of an essential acoustic release. Continue reading

Phoebe Bridgers-Stranger in the Alps

It would have been really simple to write off Phoebe Bridger’s debut album as a Julien Baker clone.  Both singer-songwriters write ambient folk rock with a large emotional weight placed on the lyrics.  Still, Bridgers’ voice is a refreshing one that really resonates within the pop-punk and emo community.  Even though she is a singer-songwriter through and through, her heart-on-her-sleeve and pop culture referencing lyrics certainly welcome her to a number of melancholy artists that have welcomed the likes of Julien Baker.  Whether it’s the sweetness of “Killer” or the sadness in “Smoke Signals,” Stranger in the Alps is probably the most exciting debut album to be released this year. Continue reading

The Killers-Wonderful Wonderful

“Run For Cover” could have been the song of the summer.  It’s upbeat, fun and has a great chorus.  In fact, a number of songs from The Killers’ new Wonderful Wonderful scream summer.  Whether it’s adrenaline-thrusting power-pop (see above) or the beachy, U2 doppelgangers (“Life to Come”), it baffles me why this album would be released on the first day of fall, but as fate would have it, the first weekend of fall were the dog-days of summer’s last gasp in New York.  It was a fluke, only Brandon Flowers could attain to maybe make some final gasps for this Killers album. Continue reading

Marc Maron-Too Real

            Only Marc Maron could get away with telling the same joke twice in a row.  It’s easy to be sick of Maron’s rote display of emotional honesty, because he’s been in comedy for decades, and he brings one of the best podcasts to listeners twice a week.  He’s been bringing listeners a manic energy regularly for years now, and Too Real is a perfect culmination of all the best aspects of Maron. Continue reading

IT (Dir. Andrés Muschietti)

I can’t support the notion that the supernatural entity known as It takes on the form of a clown because clowns are enticing to children. No child has unironically enjoyed the presence of a clown since the vaudevillian days of the 1930s. People have been afraid of clowns for years, even before Tim Curry decided to put on a red nose. If you were one of those people who saw Stephen King’s It (1990) as a kid and cite it as the source of your childhood nightmares, I highly recommend watching it again, now, as an adult. Upon second viewing, you might come to realize that not only is it not very frightening, but it’s also rather dated and not particularly good. In this era of remake after remake after remake, this is a rare example of an early 90s relic that was due for an upgrade. And that’s because the story and the concept is actually compelling- the 1990 version just didn’t do much apart from traumatize some now-twenty somethings and give Tim Curry ample scenery to chew on. And this project has been in the works since 2009- Cary Fukunaga, the original director, dropped out due to “creative differences”, the script was rewritten, most of the actors were re-cast a week before filming…after all of that chaos it’s hard to believe they were able to pull the project together without making it too much of a messy combination of Fukunaga’s vision and Muschietti’s. But they did it, and they did it well. And maybe the delay in production was a blessing in disguise because it has been exactly 27 years since the release of the original miniseries- accurately matching the timeline of It’s resurgence from the depths of the sewers to consume the flesh of the innocent. So that’s nice. Continue reading