Three listens down of the new Neon Trees album and I'm ready to write up some premature evaluations. The band took a sound I already thoroughly enjoy -- that new waveish 80's pop-rock -- and shook it up. I will admit, I was worried when I heard "Everybody Talks," because it sounds like it could have been straight from the band's last release, Habits. I figured the band caught some success and were about to just release the same album again. Meh, I get it, I guess, but I was disappointed.
I was also wrong.
Instead of releasing Habits II -- we've got an album that's more musically creative and much more diverse. While it definitely still contains a heavy dose of what the band does best: writing catchy songs with dance-like beats for the lead singer to belt over -- they've also mixed things up a little bit (as you may have noticed from the song we posted today).
Early favorites are "Moving in the Dark," "Mad Love," the Michael Jackonesqe "Weekend," and "Trust."
All in all ... I've come away very impressed with the album. For years I've maintained that Rock Kills Kid were so before their time that it just pissed me off. In a lot of ways Neon Trees simply prove me right. I consider that a high compliment to both bands.
I've made it no secret that I've been a long fan of Eve 6. I think they do pop-rock really well. They make catchy songs, the lyrics are usually interesting, Max's vocals are unique and strong -- and for a sunny day, they're the kind of thing that I want to listen to. When I heard they were going to release a new album ... I was flat out excited. I've spent some time with the album now, and my thoughts are that it's a really strong pop-rock album. It takes the vein of Horrorscope, adds a little more tongue in cheek to the lyrics -- a little more synth -- and ends up having found a solid place in my regular rotation.
The lyrics can get a little cheesy at times ("Blood Brothers" chorus, for example) and the song "Lion's Den" is probably my least favorite -- but overall, it's a strong album, a blast to sing along to, and has more hooks than Peter Pan's nemesis. I find myself humming melodies throughout the day. It was playing in the background, and my wife was quoting lyrics back at me later on that night. I would be shocked if a fan of Horrorscope didn't like this album. Shocked.
Poppy, catchy, and a total 90's throwback at times to that sound. Maybe it takes the right haircut and v-neck shirt to make it in the pop-rock world these days. Maybe you have to be young enough to be fantasied about, look the part for the posters on the wall -- and pray that the tumblr crowd reblogs your every move. However, if pure pop-rock songwriting was all it took? These guys, this album, would be the next big thing all over again.
Sitting here listening to the new House of Heroes album. Man, it's one of those albums that hits me in the face with just how much I love music. I can just sit back and appreciate. The harmonies, the musical expansion, the obvious care and passion in each song ... it's a great album that really shows that you can write a catchy song without sacrificing anything. In that way - it reminds me of the reason I've always loved the Foo Fighters -- they make rock music without the compromise we see (or hear) from other bands. I really respect that. Great musicianship. Great care. Great vocals. Great harmonies.
Third listen through: could see me ranking this as the band's best album when it's all said and done.
It's no secret I like pop-music. Yet, whenever I am about to "review" or talk about something that is on the far end of the pop spectrum, I still feel the need to qualify my statements. I don't know why. Maybe it's that "punk" word sitting in my browser window. I've always had a weird relationship with pop-music. Most of the mainstream stuff I can't stand. I'm in a weird alternative-pop purgatory -- because every once in a while something so sugary will come along that I just eat it up (Mercy Mercedes and My Favorite Highway come to mind). The latest on this list is Marianas Trench. I think it's the pop arrangements. The vocals. The harmonies. It just works when I listen ... something clicks. It's basically as pop as you can get, reminiscent of Cartel's Chroma and later Fall Out Boy. However, they've done a fantastic job of making the album work together as a whole. All of the songs flow together.
The new album picks up where the last ended -- full of harmonies and over-dubed vocals. I'd say the album has more bouncy qualities than their last - but as a whole, I think it's a more cohesive effort - and the lyrics are better (for what they are). This one stuck out to me on first listen: Don't tell me to fight, to fight for you - after this long I shouldn't have to.
There is no denying this thing is mainstream catchy poppy ... but there's also no denying this kid can sing and write a pop tune like few can. If you've been reading my posts -- you know what I like, you know what I like when it comes to pop-rock ... so, if you've ever ended up on that end of things with me (even after all these years) ... check this one. It's the kind of album you put on for your more "mainstream" friends, and they'll ask you who it is by the second song.
I think I can whip out a bunch of first impressions all at once. Let's see how it goes:
Mutemath - Odd Soul
This album is a new Mutemath. I liked the old Mutemath. I also really like the new Mutemath. Just keep making music, I'll keep listening.
Man Overboard - Self-Titled
I like it. Don't love it. If Transit define what I am excited about from the "newer" bands in the genre, Man Overboard are what I've grown out of. I still like the sound, think they do it well, but it's not really all that exciting to me. I think that's really what it boils down to in how my musical tastes have changed over the years. I need more time to think about what that "it" factor really is ...
Chuck Ragan - Covering Ground
For people complaining that Dustin Kensrue hasn't released another solo album -- start listening to Chuck. New album rules. Great lyrics. Manly vocals. Folksy tunes.
Oh, and pick up the new Astronautalis album tomorrow. You'll love it.
This website was built because I like talking about music that hits me. About bands that reach me on a different level. There are hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of bands making music each year - but only a handful that move me. It's those occasions that the tunes hit my ears and I have an emotional reaction that I live for. It's the feeling I am hoping for each time I hit play on a new album. It's that pause between the button being pushed and the first notes where these hopes live. The idea that something is about to stir. That these are the notes I'll be listening to for months. The songs I'll relate to. The songs I'll sing along to when no one is watching. The songs that will forever be tied to memories and moments in time.
It's rare when reality matches expectations.
But when it does? Oh what a sight.
I just finished listening to the new Transit album for the first time. It reminds me of that feeling I got right after I first heard "Reach for the Sun" (by The Dangerous Summer), that feeling of "yeah, they get it" and "this is going to be the soundtrack to lives" and "thank God there are still bands making music like this; emotional, raw, and catchy - without being filled to the brim with party/dance/synth/autotune/beat/gimmick/neon/swoopedhair/whatever."
It's familiar while feeling new. Nostalgic while fresh.
If we've gotta put a genre on it (blah, people know how I hate that), then it's the best pop-rock-punk-ish album I've heard this year. Yep, went there. It's got, the "it" factor. And this is coming from someone who went in with virtually no expectations. And it took less than half a song for me to reach over and slide the volume up. By the chorus of the second song I was thinking about bands I listened to growing up, and how these guys could have opened for early Brand New, Midtown, Saves the Day, NFG and been right at home. By track 6 I was finding small lyrical gems I hadn't heard in this genre since Fall Out Boy. By track 10 I was realizing that this is one hell of a year in music. By track 12 I was clicking that little "repeat" button on the bottom of iTunes to make sure it played again and hoping the first listen feeling lasted. Hoping that this is one of those albums I let become part of my life. It's been a while since something in this genre struck that vein. I like talking about music that moves me. Some people like what I like, some people don't. Some people like when I'm excited about something, some people call it over-hype. Some people get me when I talk about being knocked on my ass by a song. Some people don't. But I know that out there, right now, there's someone waiting for these songs. There's someone that this album is going to change their life for, like the moment I first heard Blink 182 or MxPx. I honestly believe that. Someone will have broken up with a girl in late September, this album will somehow find their ears - and they'll be better for it. That's why I love music. That's why I love this kind of music. And that's why I write about it.
Album hits stores October 4th. Pre-order that sucker here.
Honestly the first impression I get of Radiosurgery (which I promise I will type "Radiosugary" a hundred times in the next few months) is that it reminds me of Self-Titled. I think that may be the production/mixing coming through -- but I hear it in the song writing a little bit as well. I think the single's the weak link and "Summer Fling, Don't Mean a Thing" the highlight (the hook is what pop-punk should be). At this point these guys are as close to a sure thing as I can think of in the genre. They are exactly what they are, they do it damn well, and that's all there is to it. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for this band, I've been listening to them for fricking years, and they're one of a handful of bands yonder that I still love to listen to -- and have massive amounts of respect for. With all the band drama these days, all the bands breaking up and changing members and throwing hissy fits ... these guys are a model to emulate.
"What did you say as I walked out the door, awooaooh, did you want me back?"
For me, the second day with a new album is the most telling. The super anticipation from the first listens has warn off, the excitement doesn't cloud my judgement, and the album fits more into my daily routine. IE: What's it like when I'm coding the website and the tunes are playing over the speakers. Soooo, with that ... I've got some thoughts on the new Jack's Mannequin album:
It's a great cross of his last two albums. It's got the pop feeling of his first release, but has the deeper/thicker sound of TGP. It really is a combination of the two. I don't think the first single is a great way to describe the entire album, but the song does fit well into the sequencing. I think "Release Me" (the first song) sets the scene for the album perfectly. Andrew sure does love using girl's names in songs ... and this album is no different, hahah. At this point, with all the music he's got under his belt: you pretty much know how Andrew is going to write, what he's going to sound like. This one's got a little more guitar, a little more mature sound to his voice (it sounds deeper than TGP), and Andrew's patented outlook on life.
I'm sure I'll have more thoughts in the near future ... but going into the second day I had the songs stuck in my head and couldn't wait to listen to the album again. That's a good sign. This is the kind of pop music I just love to listen to. It's got a timeless quality to it.
I've been holding off posting this because what I first got was a stream of the album ... it was at 128kbps, and Thrice just deserve more than that. You can't get the intricacies that I know this band puts a lot of thought into with a stream. I gave the album 3 full listens and knew I needed to wait until the physical copy showed up to really be able to put my thoughts together. Now that the full quality has hit my ears - I'm more prepared to talk about this beast of a record.
It's really a great mix of Beggars and Vhessiu in my opinion. It kind of walks that line delicately - even brilliantly at times ("Treading Paper" and "Anthology" are early favorites). Only tune that's taking some getting used to for me is "Blur" - it just didn't hit me on first listen; kind of like "At The Last" from Beggars. In the end, I am not sure where it's going to fit on my end of the year list ... top 10? Top 5? Pretty certain it'll be up there, they always have a way of around spin 20 really connecting with me on multiple levels. I think the lyrics on this are going to have that impact as I give it more time. That's one of my favorite things about this band ... besides being ridiculously consistent, it's the multiple listens that evoke the best emotions from the songs. It's what you discover around your 10th listen forward that makes this band special to me.
The beauty of posting my thoughts about music in my blog is that you know I'm a fanboy. Hahah. I don't have to put a score on stuff and have people whine about it. I'm bias as hell. Opinionated as none-other. That's just me. The Horrible Crowes album. What can I say? I had the privilage of getting to hear it early and my jaw is still on the floor. Everything I could have hoped for. It's got an atmosphere. It's got soul. It's got Brian's lyrics. I'm going to be hard pressed to find something that resonates with me more than this album this year. It's the kind of album that makes you realize why you love music. At least that's what it does for me ... it makes me realize why I love music. The way something can hit you, so perfectly, with the right words ... the right melody. I think Brian just always finds that way to connect with me .. it's not about being musically perfect, or the next big thing, or following any trend -- it's about writing an honest song, and how the listener connects to it.
Full recommendation. Full fanboy love. Fully impressed.
Bon Iver, Astronautalis, Horrible Crowes ... and we still have Saves the Day and Thrice (and others) coming out this year? Are you kidding me!?
This has been my favorite year for music in a long time. And I still haven't even heard the new Thrice or Horrible Crowes or fun. yet. Wow. Anyway, to add to the "holy shit how do I make a top 5 at the end of the year" list: the new Astronautalis album, "This is Our Science" is bloody brilliant. I am in awe. Lyrically as good as anything I've heard this year. The kind of album that after I listened all I could think of was that I'm glad people like Andy are making music.
Absolutely engulfed in the new Bon Iver album. Didn't expect to fall for it in this way, this quickly. But I did and love it. Very ethereal, dynamic, and absolutely beautiful. So, while today I work on some new artist profile stuff, this will be playing through my headphones. I definitely recommend checking it out. It's different - but give it a try. Different can be very good.
I'll post some screen shots of the artist profile stuff in a little banana.
Edit 10 minutes later: Weird, I was eating a banana when I typed this and my brain used that word instead of "bit." I need to finish my coffee before blogging apparently.
Some bands and albums are just made for the night time. I've always found DCFC to be that kind of band. Their new album is no exception. It's a little more experimental compared to their more straight forward songs of the past. Come the fall, or maybe just every night when it gets dark .... this will be dominating my speakers. I think it solidifies the band's place as one of the staples of my music collection.
Woaaaaaah, yep - good call Drew: I love it. I think this will be my favorite Thursday album since Full Collapse. Took me to "Open Quotes" to seriously start having that "instant classic" thought creep in.