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

The Spook School-Could It Be Different?

There aren’t many artists that can recapture the catchy, emotional energy that bands like Modern Baseball and Diet Cig have been able to in the past few years.  Glasgow’s The Spook School fully encompass all the best qualities of both those bands on their latest album Could It Be Different?  They balance between sincere feelings and snarky adolescent wit within a bright pop-punk frame that borrows from classics as much as it does from emo revivalists.  It’s an overwhelmingly good album in a genre that has more and more felt exhausted of its creativity. Continue reading

awakebutstillinbed-what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way other people see you

            About three minutes into awakebutstillinbed’s debut album, lead vocalist Shannon Taylor sounds like she’s about to breakdown.  Her voice cracks as she screams, and it’s not pretty.  She doesn’t have the sort of aesthetic screams that blend in with a song cleanly.  She sounds like she’s ugly crying screaming along to the radio.  Awakebutstillinbed channel Taylor’s songs into the type of palatable indie emo that’s probably too intense for the Sorority Noise crowd, and that’s probably for the better.  She doesn’t dress her sadness in longwinded metaphors or interesting instrumentals.  It’s bare. Continue reading

The Front Bottoms-Terminal 5, NY-11/25/17

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Pop-punk isn’t really the type of scene that bands really grow into large acts in; emo is much more unlikely.  Still, against all odds, The Front Bottoms have reared their heads out of a niche corner in an underground scene and become full-fledged rockstars.  Seeing them headline Terminal 5, the largest venue the band has ever headlined, it was hard not to get teary-eyed with pride. Continue reading

Jetty Bones-Old Women

I hate to make the easy comparison, but this sounds like early Paramore in the best possible way.  The band’s sole consistent member and frontwoman Kelc Galluzzo commands a stage and has a voice that rivals Hayley Williams’.  While 2017 has been a great year for female-fronted bands, most tend to lean towards a punkier or more emo sound, and Jetty Bones are unafraid to embrace a sense of mid-2000’s pop-punk.  The pop embrace is in full effect on the band’s second EP, Old Women. Continue reading

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

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.

Old Menaces: How To Abandon Your Fanbase, While Still Making Millions

 

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The date is October 4, 2009: Blink-182 has recently reunited.  They’re finishing up a massive tour with Fall Out Boy opening for them at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  Before FOB launch into their signature closer, “Saturday,” Pete Wentz declares, “This is the death of the emo haircut,” before handing his bass to a stagehand.  Mark Hoppus enters the stage.  Wentz sits down, and Hoppus shaves his head.  Wentz jumps up at his cue, and screams his parts in “Saturday” like he always does.  You could say this is the moment that everything went wrong.  You could say Blink-182’s original breakup was the moment it all went wrong.  You could also say Green Day’s American Idiot was, or even Dookie, or New Found Glory releasing “It’s Not Your Fault,” but for the sake of argument, Mark Hoppus shaving Pete Wentz’s black locks was the moment that ruined it all. Continue reading

Bowling for Cigs: Bowling for Soup at the Gramercy Theater//Diet Cig at Baby’s All Right: (New York/Brooklyn, NY) 4/7/17

bowlingforsoup      “I don’t go to Brooklyn,” Casey mutters anytime I propose a show in the King’s County borough.  “We should see a show soon,” is a phrase Casey says to me about every two weeks.  When scrolling through events on Facebook, I saw both Bowling for Soup at the Gramercy Theatre and Diet Cig at Baby’s All Right on a Friday.  Casey initially agreed to Bowling for Soup, and when I proposed catching Diet Cig’s late show for their record release of Swear I’m Good at This, she was down to do both in a night.  We managed to hit both shows and it was a hell of a shit show. Continue reading

Diet Cig-Swear I’m Good at This

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I want to tell you about my friend Josh.  Josh is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet.  He can brighten anyone’s day by simply entering the room.  Josh is hilarious and can take his energy level from 0-100 in seconds.  I feel like most people who know Josh just tend to latch onto the chaotic energy he brings, but Josh can also be one of the kindest, most caring people when he needs to be.  That being said, he can bounce back from those serious moments in a heartbeat.  It’s for this reason that Diet Cig reminds me of Josh. Continue reading