Camp Cope-How to Socialise & Make Friends

Camp Cope has positioned themselves as a hyper-political pop-punk band that will fight against sexism, gun rights, sexual abuse, and so much more, but the Australian trio is so much more than that.  While Camp Cope utilize their platform to speak about equality and representation, their best songs are deeply personal.  The band writes numbers that rage and songs that can let your entire world break around you, and How to Socialise & Make Friends really makes way for both of those worlds. Continue reading

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Brand New-Science Fiction

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If the rumors are true, this will be Brand New’s final album.  It’s not a sad last gasp for breath nor is it a number of recycled demos and singles that the band’s fans have heard a fair amount in recent years.  There’s nothing wrong with “Mene”, “I Am A Nightmare”, or the 3 Demos, Reworked EP, and it would have been fully acceptable to stick those songs on Science Fiction.  Still, Brand New revealed they had one final trick up their sleeves, and that results in the band’s perfect, catatonic, terrifying, heavy farewell album.

Science Fiction succeeds in every category beginning from its bizarre rollout: announcement of limited vinyl, website crash, strange packages, unexpected announcement and release two days later.  Brand New is to alternative rock, what Beyoncé is to pop, and a shock and surprise release is exactly what this album deserved.  Science Fiction needs to be appreciated in one sitting of hearing the album straight through.

There are more classic rock tropes on this album than before, from the extended songs, shredding solos, and excessive use of acoustic guitar.  Still, this album reaches new sonic experiments that Brand New haven’t touched yet.  It has tracks like “451” and “Desert” that show a major blues-influence, the former sounding like a Black Keys song.  They play with texture a lot, where a bunch of the album sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned estate.  It’s the best produced album in their discography, where even a song like “Desert,” which has the coldest lyrics still sounds incredibly warm.  Even in the albums most depressing moments, it still welcomes the listener into its depths.

Still, what has truly made Brand New most notable have always been their lyrics.  Jesse Lacey touches down on a number of old themes-religion, grief and depression, unlikable characters-as well as a few new ones, mainly the sci-fi that the title implies.  The closing track “Batter Up” hints at themes of extraterrestrial life, and the spoken interludes almost sound like they were nicked from Creepypastas, but they do set a certain chilling atmosphere throughout the album.  “Lit Me Up” opens the album with dark arpeggios in a chilling atmosphere, with Lacey’s haunting tone, but Lacey does manage to expand these into much bigger ideas.

Religion is still a major force in Lacey’s lyrics.  It’s evident from the beginning although it seems like he’s mostly turned his back on a bunch of his Christian faith.  On “Lit Me Up,” Lacey sings, “When I grow up, I want to be a heretic” to “It lit me up, and I burned from the inside out/Yeah, I burned like a witch in a Puritan town.”  “Desert” sees Lacey taking on a character that uses religious rhetoric to spew hateful views, and with a release coming not even a week after the violence in Charlottesville, it’s one of the most chilling takes on the album.  “Desert” and “137” are two of the more politically charged anthems of the album, with “137” leading to a chorus of:

Let’s all go play Nagasaki

We Can all get vaporized

Hold my hand, let’s turn to ash.

I’ll see you on the otherside.

“137” also contains allusions to Christian-faith.

Still, mental health is probably the biggest thing on Jesse Lacey’s mind throughout Science Fiction.  In the ultra-catchy “Can’t Get It Out,” the song’s final refrain goes

I’m just a manic depressive

Toting around my own crown.

I’ve got a positive message

Sometimes, I can’t get it out.

“Could Never Be Heaven” is actually a really sweet love song with mental illness as a theme, where Lacey sings about his love of his wife and family and how they help him cope with his depression.  “Out of Mana” seems to recount therapy sessions, beginning with “Write down all of your fears.”  Fittingly, the closing “Batter Up” is a somber take about the infinity of living with depression, and outer-space is a nice touch to illustrate it.

If this is Brand New’s last hurrah, it’s a damn-good one.  There is a part of me that really hopes that the title Science Fiction means they have one last trick up their sleeve, whether it’s one more album or a psyche-out retirement.  Still, I’ll take Science Fiction.  It’s a safe good-bye.

16 Odd Ends from 2016

Summing it all up.

 

Even though we’ve all been talking about how 2016 is the worst year ever, this year did see a lot of good coming out of it.  Don’t get me wrong, 2016 sucked, but it does seem like the arts flourished.  We got Stranger Things this year!  I’ve heard the new Star Wars is pretty good, and I don’t even like Star Wars.  I saw Brand New, The Front Bottoms, and Modern Baseball twice each!  Those aren’t bad things.  Since music is where my passion lies (and I’m not that original), I wanted to post BurgerADay’s official standings on Pitchfork’s normal and bizarre year end lists.

1.Best Lyric of 2016: The Front Bottoms-“Joanie”

            “I finally am what I am, a fucking bag of bags”


Although The Front Bottoms are stealing a page from Katy Perry’s book here, Needy When I’m Needy provided some of the most refreshing, fun songs of the year.  When Brian Sella sings that he’s just “a fucking bag of bags,” it’s absurdist but enticing.  It’s a line that you can’t help but to sing along to.  Unlike Perry, I’ve never “felt like a plastic bag/drifting through the wind,” but I’ve totally felt like “a fucking bag of bags.”

2.Best Rap Album of 2016: Kanye West-The Life of Pablo Continue reading

25 Christmas Songs for People Who Hate Christmas Songs

I don’t remember when I started to hate Christmas music, but if I had to guess, it probably started when I first heard the broken skis variation on “Dashing Through the Snow.”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Scrooge.  I adore the holiday, the Christmas specials, and everything it means, but I turn into a real Grinch, if you ask me to sing “Jingle Bells.”  Even though there’s nothing more that I’d love than to chuck the copies of Sounds of the Season: NBC Holiday Edition or  Michael Bublé’s Christmas from my parents’ CD collection, there are a handful of Christmas songs I like, albeit most of them humorous or less traditional tracks.  Therefore, I opted to find 25 Christmas songs that I actually enjoy.  Here are the definitive BurgerADay Christmas jams.

  1. The Mountain Goats-“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”


If you’re like me, you’re of the opinion that everything John Darnielle touches turns to gold, and the Mountain Goats could even make a Christmas song bearable.  I only like this song when the Mountain Goats are playing it. Continue reading

Monday Mixtape: 11/28 (The Weakerthans, My Chemical Romance, Chance the Rapper)

The Weakerthans-“My Favorite Chords”


Following an excellent cover by Aaron West, I’ve been listening to a lot of The Weakerthans lately. Since there is not a lot of new music out at this time of year, I’ve found myself listening to Left And Leaving a lot lately.

Kanye West-“Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1”


Yeezy is still in the hospital, but The Life of Pablo is sure to be on many Album-of-the-Year lists. Most of the tunes that have been played lately have been checking back on old songs for the year-end lists.

Joyce Manor-“Reversing Machine”


This cut from Cody sounds the most like an old Joyce Manor song, and it’s perfect foe late fall and early winter.

Modern Baseball-“Note To Self”


MoBo have been one of the hardest working bands of the year, while touring behind Holy Ghost. They’re about to close out the year at the inaugural Something in the Way fest, and “Note to Self” is one of the best most restrained tracks on Holy Ghost.

Chance the Rapper-“Same Drugs”


Coloring Book was one of the best mixtapes of the year. Where a lot of the music was celebratory gospel-rap, “Same Drugs” is the kind of soul ballad perfect for cuddling up with some tea or hot chocolate.

Brand New-“Degausser”


The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me just turned ten, and there have been a number of pieces about the importance of this album. One of the most memorable moments from seeing Brand New on their most recent US run was during “Degausser” as the stage was soaked in red lights.

Mitski-“Happy”


Mitski’s Puberty 2 is sure to appear on my year end list, and “Happy” has been a stand out since seeing her recent Webster Hall show.

My Chemical Romance-“Welcome to the Black Parade (Steve Aoki Remix)”


While a MCR reunion seems unlikely, Steve Aoki has kept the spirit of their breakthrough album alive by turning it into an absolute fucking banger.

Kevin Devine-‘Instigator’

v600_kd_instigator_1600            Kevin Devine is a phenomenal songwriter in the same way Billie Joe Armstrong is a great songwriter.  His songs can be very simple, but they’re all pretty catchy, and the lyrics and vocals are at the forefront.  He’s also most well-known for mixing both intensely personal lyrics with some political views peppered in.  Where Armstrong has gotten vague, Devine has become hyper specific, and Instigator is one of the best records of 2016.

Where songs about drinking alone, unrequited crushes and self-pity may have become old-hat, Devine’s latest is one of his best and most refreshing albums.  Instigator is mostly a record about making peace with the world you live in.  The title track and “Magic Magnet” romanticize both the good and bad in relationships.  Devine is both madly in love and wants to have arguments with you (when you need to).  The best part of these songs is the seeming glee that Devine presents them with.  The guitar tones are bright, and the tempo is up.  Both songs sound like driving down a Los Angeles highway in the summer time.  “No One Says You Have To” is about as mellow as the album gets, but the quick fingerpicking and soothing tone are equally as positive.  “Before You’re Here” is a beachy song about anticipating the birth of his daughter.

Even what appear to be Devine’s darkest personal moments have a positive twist on them.  In “Daydrunk,” Devine sings:

But daydrunk is what I used to be

No Jimmy Buffet song

No island imagery

Old men

Dying retirees

Bellies on the bar

Elbows up with me.

Despite the darker imagery depicting Devine’s alcohol and drug abuse, he sings it in a cheery, poppy little song.  The album closer, “I Was Alive Back Then,” reflects on some larger moments in his life-depression, Christmas mornings, marriage.  The song’s repeated chorus of “I was alive back then” makes it seem like Devine is beginning his midlife crisis at 36, but when he ends, he sings, “I was alive back then/Now, I am again,” singing about the birth of his daughter.  It’s the most somber, sobering moment of the album.

Following the first three upbeat numbers, Devine gives us “Freddie Gray Blues.”  It’s a haunting track that tackles not only the current issues of police brutality, but Devine addresses his own white-privilege from a very self-aware point of view.  He also offers this different point-of-view that leaves a lot of people conflicted:

When I’m talking these killer cop blues

I’m kinda talking my family to you

See, my dad was a cop

And his dad was a cop

And my uncles were cops

And my cousins were cops

I’m partly here because of cops

And I love all those cops

And I know not every cop

Is a racist, murdering cop

But this is bigger than the people I love

The system’s broken

Not breaking

It’s done

In a song like this, Devine mixes his two styles beautifully, and he’s penned a protest song as good as Bob Dylan’s “The Hurricane.”

“Both Ways” is a surf-punk jam that both satirizes and criticizes the United States.  The song is mainly calling out hypocrisy that mostly seems to be calling out right-wing conservatives.  One of Devine’s most clever lyrics is “You can’t weaponize Jesus/and be shocked when the heathens shoot back.”  At the same time, it seems Devine is praising the United States for being a nation that could allow both, or he could be understanding of where both sides come from.  He could also just be satirical.

This brings us to perhaps my favorite Kevin Devine song ever written.  “No History” is a song about the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.  The song crams a range of emotions into three and a half minutes.  The song begins sounding like a search party.  Devine recounts the day of the attacks, his own coping, and turning to his father to try to make sense of it all.  Devine sings as his father, “I know I see it/I thought it made sense.  I don’t anymore.”  The chorus erupts into a word salad of confusion where Devine sees a destroyed city, anger at Muslims, and a mourning nation.  Before the final chorus, Devine reflects on how far we’ve come from that day.  We’re still in a world where we’ve fought a war on terror that, at times, seems to have gone nowhere.  Still, he reflects on seeing his niece as an infant, and how life does go on.  “This is the future: severe and always happening.”  It’s a song that’s powerful, to say the least.  Devine’s politics may not be for everyone, but he certainly presents himself in an honest way that demands your attention.

The Devil and God are Raging Inside Wallingford

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A ten-year anniversary tour seems like exactly the type of thing that Brand New would be against.  While the band has more or less played the same setlist for the past few years, playing The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me front to back on their current tour seems like something they’d probably skip.  While we still don’t have a new album, this tour was set to be a treat from the start as Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms were set as openers.  Brand New tours are always special affairs, but having two of the biggest pop-punk and emo bands today open the tour makes it all the more important.

The first thing I noticed about the Oakdale Theatre is that it appears to be a renovated barn or, at least, added to one.  The venue’s lobby is beautiful with four bars and merch located front and center as you walk in.  As we entered the venue, the line for merch was already huge.  Once in the actual theatre, it was impossible not to notice how good everything sounded.  The way that distortion carried in the high-ceilinged venue is ideal for listening.

Modern Baseball’s set leaned heavily on their recent Holy Ghost, but the crowd was most receptive to “Tears Over Beers” and “Your Graduation.”  The Philly-Quartet even treated us to the Sports single “The Weekend” dedicating it to “our friend from Property of Zack.”  While it’s more typical to see MoBo headlining these days, the band still seems humbled by the reaction they stir in crowds.  Brendan Lukens let the crowd sing the first chorus of “Your Graduation” simply letting out a “you all rock.”  While it would be easy for Modern Baseball to just play the hits, playing mostly Holy Ghost songs seemed right especially as Lukens started to get emotional during “Just Another Face.”  It’s not often an opening band elicits a “One More Song” chant from an audience, but Modern Baseball did it.  Anytime seeing them is a reminder to what a special little band they are.

The Front Bottoms’ stage setup was decorated with lamps, a couch, a small tv, a case of PBR, and two seemingly random people sitting on that couch.  While The Front Bottoms are now a pop-punk staple, their stage show was reminiscent of the type of college party you probably first heard The Front Bottoms at.  Even opening with “The Plan (Fuck Jobs)” served as a reminder that they’re a band for college parties.

The Front Bottoms’ music was incredibly catchy and fun, as always.  The band danced around stage with as much excitement playing tracks from their first album as the ones from Back On Top.  The band can still surprise by throwing in a funky breakdown into outro of “Swimming Pool” or telling jokey stories about growing your hair out.  Brian Sella’s lyrics are always front and center when they play.  Sella is incredible lyricist for writing the type of lines that don’t make any sense, but you can completely understand the emotion.  There’s certain lines that inevitably stick out that only Genius can dissect.  That line tonight was:

I can tell that he’s asking her yes or no questions

By the way she’s shaking her head

From left to right, then up and down

Then left to right again

during “Skeleton.”  The audience lit up the same way they had for “Your Graduation” during “Twin Size Mattress” at the end of the set, before Sella mentioned “We’re a band called The Front Bottoms.  Tell all your friends about us.”

Every time Brand New plays now, it is truly something special.  As the band have all but confirmed that their break up in 2018 is inevitable, fans flock to see the Long Island band wherever they play.  I drove an hour for this show.  I had friends from Long Island who traveled three.  I even spotted a Virginia license plate in the parking lot, which is odd since the band plays Fairfax near the end of the tour.  Once the band announced that they would play The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me in full, this tour became all the more interesting.  If Brand New is the Led Zeppelin of emo, then Devil and God is Zeppelin IV.  “Jesus” is one of the best known rock songs of the past fifteen years.  “Limousine” may be the best song Brand New has ever composed.  Devil and God if often cited as Brand New’s best album by fans, and seeing the album performed straight through is always an occasion to be cherished.  I should preface the rest of this by mentioning that this is the second time I’ve seen Brand New in four months, having caught them at Madison Square Garden with Modest Mouse.  The MSG gig was my first time seeing Brand New, and since the breakup is imminent, I’m now making up for lost time.

The switch from the somewhat silly and upbeat Modern Baseball and Front Bottoms to the deathly serious Brand New was truly strange.  While these bands all play the same genre of rock, the posture with which it is presented is starkly different.  Jesse Lacey is not a chatty frontman.  There aren’t any laughs to be had during a Brand New set, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  Brand New are nothing like any other pop-punk or emo band.  They’re a force to be reckoned with and as serious as a heart attack in an oft-mocked genre.  Their set in Wallingford only further reaffirmed this.

Brand New played two songs that were absent from the show at The Garden, Deja Entendu’s “I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light” and the new “I am a Nightmare.”  Unfortunately, none of the Daisy standards such as “At the Bottom” or “Gasoline” were played.  Ending the first set with “Play Crack the Sky” was a nice touch adding the lyric “For two more years now” before Vin Accardi entered the stage to sing harmonies.  Some more popular songs were missing, but everything played was eaten up by the crowd before a short break.

The first three songs on The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me are staples of Brand New’s setlist.  While it was great to hear the 1-2-3 punch of “Sowing Season,” “Millstone” and “Jesus,” it sent chills through the audience as red lasers soaked the stage, and Lacey uttered, “Degausser, baby.”  When the band really explodes on songs like “Limousine” or “Not the Sun,” it’s hard to not think you’re watching a metal band.  Accardi and Lacey can both shred, and the dual drummers certainly brings a heavy backbone to the rhythm section.

As the set drew to the end, an acoustic guitar was brought out for “Handcuffs,” which suits the end of the album but not the end of a show.  Ending with “Untitled” was a wise move, since it let the band jam on the main riff to “Jesus” as Accardi sat stage right.  Lacey thanked the audience for the past ten and fifteen years before exiting, and the “2000-2018” epigraph adorned the stage.

While the number of Brand New shows is finite, nights like this in Wallingford are celebratory.  There seems to be promise of a new Brand New album, but since they’re unpredictable, we may never see a fifth LP.  Regardless of where the band goes, everyone will remember this night in Connecticut.

Monday Mixtape 10/17: (Bob Dylan, Aimee Mann, Kevin Devine, Black Kids!)

Paul McCartney feat. Rihanna-“FourFiveSeconds”

This weekend saw the wrap up of the Desert Trip festival in Indio, California.  McCartney was probably one of the biggest draws when the festival was announced, but he brought out a special guest who is definitely more suited for Coachella.

 

Aimee Mann-“Can’t You Tell”

The 30 Days, 30 Songs campaign has been a recurring story here at BurgerADay for the past week.  Aimee Mann’s song is easily one of the best songs to come out of it.  It’s a driving number that takes on a much sadder point-of-view that almost forces the listener to emphasize with the Republican Presidential Candidate

 

The Who-“Baba O’Riley”

Another “Oldchella” act.  While The Beatles and Rolling Stones are essentials for any music fan, I always preferred Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon growing up.  It’s hard to find a song as timeless as “Baba O’Riley.”  That synthesizer riff is one of the most iconic in history.

Kevin Devine-“Freddie Gray Blues”

 

As the release of Kevin Devine’s Instigator draws closer, we’ve been treated to the album stream.  Devine did release this track right after the murder of Freddie Gray, and it’s just as haunting.  Devine both acknowledges his white privilege and relationships with cops, and it’s chilling.

Moose Blood-“Honey”

The UK pop-punk outfit has just embarked on a US tour opening for The Wonder Years.  Where their first album had more emo-influence, Blush is sugary sweet pop-punk, and the lead single is probably the best song from the album.  The band is sure to be exciting. 

Modern Baseball-“Phone Tag”

Another tour-opener.  Modern Baseball has just kicked off a tour with Brand New and The Front Bottoms.  While their setlist mostly features takes from the excellent Holy Ghost, I’ve been revisiting their B-sides.  This reworking of “It’s Cold Out Here” is a nice change of pace, and the altered lyrics at the end are much better than the original.

Brand New-“Not the Sun”

Brand New has been playing Devil and God front to back on their current tour, forcing me to revisit the album.  While the most popular tracks never fail to entertain, I’m pleasantly reminded how great songs like “Welcome to Bangkok” or “Not the Sun” are.

Bob Dylan-“Desolation Row”

The biggest music news story this week has been about the Nobel Prize winner.  Dylan’s poetry is perhaps best summed up in this song, and here’s a video from this weekend’s Desert Trip.

Black Kids-“Obligatory Drugs”

Black Kids are back with this fun-as-hell track.  “Obligatory Drugs” is a dancey, indie-rock song with an undeniable hook.  I’m definitely in.