Spanish Love Songs-Schmaltz

LA’s Spanish Love Songs have all the promise of a band that can have real staying power.  They have the hunger of a band that wants people to hear their songs and feelings, and they have the talent to back it up.  Their latest album Schmaltz brings the breakneck intensity of hardcore, but the emotionality and varied sounds of emo.  They take the heartland-americana punk sounds of bands like The Gaslight Anthem or The Menzingers and tie in the heavy pop-punk sounds reminiscent of Upsides-era Wonder Years.  Schmaltz sees a band in the formative stages of becoming an excellent act that will only get better. Continue reading

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Top 10 Albums of 2017

There’s never really a bad year for music.  There are always going to be great albums from popstars like Lorde or underground masterpieces like Mount Eerie’s new album.  When it comes to deciding a personal top ten, it becomes a mix of what releases seemed most significant and what I returned to the most.  Where there were excellent albums from Kendrick, Japandroids, and Kesha, these were the albums that defined my year.  Also, shoutout to Run the Jewels.  RTJ 3 would’ve made the list, but they leaked it Christmas Day 2016, so too bad.

 

  1.  The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die-Always Foreign

TWIABP continue to carry the torch they helped ignite in the emo revival.  Always Foreign sees the band inching forward where Harmlessness left off.  It’s the band’s most politically-minded release-to-date.  “Marine Tigers” and “Fuzz Minor” are scathing social commentaries delivered by an impassioned David F. Bello.  The band also doesn’t shy away from creating indie-rock with a sense of grandeur, as “Infinite Steve” and “Faker” see the band embracing post-rock the size of which the band hasn’t grown to before.  With the songs “The Future” and “Dillon and Her Son,” TWIABP don’t shy away from Blink-182 style pop-punk, making this the most diverse set of songs TWIABP have ever released.

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Captain, We’re Sinking-The King of No Man

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There are plenty of pop-punk bands.  Had I been maybe 10 years younger, I’d probably adore Knuckle Puck, Real Friends, or Neck Deep, but I’m a cynical 23 year old.  My pop-punk requires a little more substance.  Bands like The Menzingers, The Wonder Years, or Modern Baseball are all able to provide this to me.  There are unique aspects to the brands of pop-punk that each of these bands provide, where the first three all sort of blend together.  Maybe it’s just the Barnett connection to the Menzingers, but my better senses tell me that Captain, We’re Sinking’s The King of No Man really shouldn’t be a record that I love as much as I do. Continue reading

Coffee Date:Tigers Jaw-Spin (Reanimator-No More Coffee For Tigers Jaw)

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Coffee Date is a new column that features discussions of beverages stemming from leaves and beans.  Whether you brew your own or need a hip barista pouring it in front of you, we’ve got you covered for brands to try at home, coffee shops with some personality, and what you should try or avoid from your regular coffee chains. Today, we also cross over into a review of Tigers Jaw’s latest album, and the coffee that came with the presale.

Tigers Jaw’s decision to pair with Reanimator Coffee for the release of their fifth full-length isn’t anything new.  Modern Baseball and The Menzingers have also previously paired with Reanimator, but Tigers Jaw seems like the best pairing.  They’re the musical equivalent to a nice cup of coffee on a rainy day.  Spin sees the band at their most fully-realized, and Reanimator made a nice brew to compliment it. Continue reading

The Menzingers-After the Party

menzingers-after-the-party1It’s been about 9 months since I graduated from college.  It may sound cynical, but I already feel old.  I can’t run on four hours of sleep or drink excessively without an unbearable hangover, and I tend to spend a little extra money on quality products instead of just getting the cheapest version.  I’ve also grown an appreciation for a bunch of dad rock records that I hadn’t previously enjoyed.  There’s certainly a give and take to my old man feelings.  The Menzingers’ After the Party has been released at the perfect time now with the band’s new found maturity and nostalgia.

The Menzingers are part of a long tradition of punk bands that keep their heartland rock influence on their sleeves.  On the Impossible Past was a record that occupied a Venn Diagram space reserved for the likes of The Gaslight Anthem.  It is an essential modern pop-punk record that draws equally from the canons of Springsteen and Against Me!  Still, the band stepped more in a straightforward pop-punk direction for 2014’s Rented World, but on After the Party, the Scranton quartet show a revitalized interest in classic rock.

Despite The Menzingers taking a step toward their roots, it isn’t always an obvious regression.   The Springsteen-isms aren’t always prevalent, and takes such as “Lookers” or “Thick as Thieves” seem to look more towards different flavors of rock.  “Thieves” feels more like heartland rock, but the intro screams AC/DC.  “Lookers” looks back to the likes of the Four Seasons and Elvis complete with it’s “Sha-La-La-La” chorus.  Vocalist, Greg Barnett even referenced Meat Loaf when describing the title track.   Still, for those that are dying to hear some heartland rock, “Your Wild Years” and “Tellin’ Lies” both capture the essence of Springsteen or The Gaslight Anthem. Barnett even adopts a bit of a country twang in his voice in bluesier numbers like “The Bars” and “Black Mass.”  Still, there’s plenty of straightforward punk, if A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology was more your speed.  “Bad Catholics” and “Charlie’s Army” are ripping punk tunes with similar themes.  Even the songs that sound more like classic rock, like “Midwestern States” or “Lookers,” have the same pedal-to-the-metal, American muscle car pacing as earlier Menzingers tunes.
Above all, After the Party is a record about coming to terms with growing up.  This is perhaps best illustrated in “Midwestern States,” which illustrates a young couple through financial problems and dreams of escapism.  Even as things get bad, and they’re asking friends for a place to stay (“I hope this isn’t a burden/Thanks for having us over”), there is some hope during the chorus as Barnett sings “You said LA’s only two days if we drive straight.”  Even the opening chorus of “Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over,” is sung with such gusto and enthusiasm that it sounds more like a celebration rather than a death sentence.  The closing track echoes the same sort of sentiment with a chorus of “Only a fool would think that living could be easy,” where Barnett sounds pleased with the final line “The life I’ve painted, I’ve sold for a quick twenty.”
Both positive and negative nostalgia run throughout the album.  There’s always a fondness for the past perhaps best described during “Lookers:”  “I was such a looker in the old days.”  Songs like “Bad Catholics” recall the sweetness of being a problematic kid: drunk driving and skipping mass, and the feeling of seeing your old fling from the church picnic years later: you realize that you really miss those stupid, old times.  Even “Charlie’s Army” sounds like he’s triumphantly recalling a past sexual romp over beers with some new friends.  “Your Wild Years” is probably the closes the Menzingers have come to writing a true love song, and Barnett thinks back to driving home after shows and family vacations with his girlfriend, but there’s still a tinge of guilt:
You’re the kind of girl that deserves the world
I’m just the kind of guy that promises the world
So I fix a drink nice and strong in the kitchen
Something quick that’ll cure my conscience
Creep back to bed and I kiss your forehead
Maybe everything is fine and it’s all in my head
Even a song like “The Bars” is framed like the kind of bar song to throw your arm around a buddy singing about the old times even though it’s a much sadder song.
The sad nostalgia certainly ought to be familiar for any Menzingers fan: booze soaked heartbreak and regret.  “The Bars” shows this well with lines like
No good’ll come from stumbling home with the sun.
I used to care.
Now I stare into the sunken eyes and strangers’ faces.
I fall asleep in the strangest places.
What the hell am I doing?
Where have my friends gone?
Even though the Menzingers are still “Drinking like they do in novels,” it now comes with a bit more pain than before.  The pain peeks its head into the bangers like “Tellin’ Lies” or “Bad Catholics,” but After the Party is never depressing for long.  You’re going to get old, and you’ll wish for simpler times.  Living might not be easy, but you just gotta enjoy the ride.

Monday Mixtape: Halloween (The Misfits, Marilyn Manson, Run the Jewels)

The Misfits-“Teenagers from Mars”


Today’s Monday Mixtape lands on All Hallow’s Eve, thus we’ll be giving you a number of Halloween songs to begin with.  What’s a better Halloween band than The Misfits?  While just about any Misfits song could have worked, “Teenagers from Mars” feels like a cheap B-Movie, in the best way.  Crappy horror films are what Halloween is made of, and this is one of The Misfits’ best songs.

Real Friends-“Mess”


I was lucky enough to catch Real Friends on their current tour with The Wonder Years.  “Mess” is one of the best songs on The Home Inside My Head, and it has a pretty great Halloween-themed video.

 

Helloween-“Halloween”


Is there anything more Halloween than a German, power-metal outfit called Helloween playing a song called “Halloween”

 

Marilyn Manson-“Man That You Fear”


Marilyn Manson is still one of the kings of Halloween, and this Antichrist Superstar number is an eerie ballad, perfect for a sad Halloween.

Avenged Sevenfold-“Bat Country”


A7X just released a surprise album, but their early work remain to be metalcore staples.  “Bat Country” is just most fitting for Halloween. Continue reading