Category Archives: Rock

The Elephant in the Room: The Collective and The Individual

Remember a while ago when I made that post about supporting bands that you love and believe in? Tonight’s review is a direct result of that KickStarter that I supported – and proof that it counts for something!

Through a KickStarter program,cover The Elephant In The Room were successfully able to fund the manifestation of their debut album, produced by Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter. The result of a lot of hard work is an eleven-track disc that will leave you reeling when when you realize this is their debut CD.

The Collective and The Individual  begins with Left In The Dark, a song that instantly reminded me of The Mars Volta. The guitar work is so on point in this song, it will blow your mind.  Besides the beginning that left me with chill bumps, there’s a great breakdown with about a minute left in the song that deserves a cheer on its own.

Monsters follows this powerful first track with plenty of steam. The rhythm of this song reminds me of early AFI mixed with with The Mars Volta and that’s a mix I’ve never considered before this song. The vocals and the guitar heavily play off each other in this jam, each growing more and more frantic with energy until the chorus hits and breaks the spell.

Ghosts stands as my favorite song on the record. The guitar work has such a bouncy feel to it until the chorus comes down and then it’s time for everyone to jam together. I’ll walk through walls and I’ll talk to you in your sleep. I’ll keep you cold when the sun’s beating on your face. I’ll make you believe when I’m a ghost. The breakdown and subsequent group sing-along near the end practically makes me giddy. This is a jam you’re not going to be able to listen to on low volume. Trust me and go ahead and turn it up before it even comes on.

What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You is a close second for favorite song on the album. This one stays at a faster tempo the whole way through, differing from the songs directly encasing it and keeping things interesting. The bass guitar is the real spotlight of this song, coming on strong, keeping everything glued together and allowing itself some time to shine.

The beginning fifteen seconds of Never Believe What You’re Told is some of the best musical work I’ve heard from any album this year. Don’t get me wrong – the song itself is strong, but those first fifteen seconds. Unbelievable.

I’m particularly interested in the last track on the album. We Will Meet Again closes the album out in more than one way. It begins very slow, almost muted and hushed, almost like it’s hiding behind a curtain, with a barely-there pick up. The vocals are almost chant-like in nature which is almost thrown off balance by the obvious rock music tones in the background. Almost.

Self-professed progressive rock meets enjoyable pop, The Elephant in the Room comes out strong on their debut album. When I donated to their KickStarter campaign after a chance Tweet they sent me, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was so blown away with what they were producing before, I knew they deserved a chance to show what they really are made of. I eagerly awaited the KickStarter progress reports, and a few days ago when I received the album download link, I felt like Christmas had come early. This album truly is a great one, and one I will be listening to for a while. Do yourself a favor and take a peek.

Keep up with the band as they celebrate the release of the record and see what they’ll be up to in the months to come on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to hear this record (and believe me, you do) you can stream the album here and buy the album when it’s officially released tomorrow (October 29, 2013)! and stay tuned for an interview with the band.

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The 1975: The 1975

New release day is one of my favorite days of the week.  Is it just me, or are the albums you’re excited for all released on the same day – or at least in close vicinity to one another? Then you have a cluster of albums you can’t wait for and you can’t decide which one to listen to first. That was my morning on this Tuesday. I finally decided to have a go with The 1975’s debut album first and I was certainly not disappointed with my choice!

debutI told you guys on the last post that I was absolutely obsessed with a couple of songs from these dudes. One of my best friends sent me a track a few weeks ago and they’ve been on my constant rotate since. At that time, all Spotify was offering me was one EP – which, don’t get me wrong, was fantastic, but I needed so much more. Today, the alt rock  band from Manchester finally released their debut disc – with sixteen tracks!

The first song, The 1975, is a quiet lead-in – you’re interested, engaged, you’re in there. The band pulls you in and straps you to the roof of their vehicle right off in track 2 with The City, a song that I played on repeat from the EP. This jam is the perfect way to open up this album – it leans more to the indie rock side of the band and keeps things calm in case you still needed to get a feel for what you were listening to.

I still can’t get over what a good tune Chocolate is. If you haven’t listened to this song, please drop everything right now and get on board. It won’t get out of your head, but I swear it’ll be a fun ride.

I decided today that this band sounds like lace if it were crumbled up, melted down, and transformed into a sound. Talk! is the perfect explanation of that. Sometimes there are spaces that feel so airy and peaceful, like you’re drifting along a cloud, and then sometimes the chorus kicks in for denser parts that are the real meat of the sandwich. Sometimes there’s a scratchy feeling, but the overall composition is glorious.

Settle Down is one of my favorites on the album that really shows what this band is capable of reaching. There’s a fun, funky vibe to this song that monopolizes everything else going on in your life at the moment that this song is playing. If you don’t drop everything just to listen to this song, you’re lying. The lyrics are particularly captivating in this one: You’re losing your words, we’re speaking in bodies, avoiding me and talking about you. You’re losing your turn, I guess I’ll never learn, cause I stay another hour or two.

I was completely blown away by She Way Out. The guitar on this track gave me chills throughout and everything meshes together so well. If this song isn’t part of their live show, there’s a problem somewhere.

Pressure is rocking my world. This song almost feels like you’re hearing it from behind a curtain, but it’s so perfect with everything that’s going into the song and the lyrics are just minimalistic enough to not overpower the music or vice versa.

The album wraps up with Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You, an eerily soothing song with nothing but incredible vocals and a divine backing piano. This song is haunting in the most beautiful of ways. I know it’s me that’s supposed to love you, and when I’m home, you know I got you. Is there somebody who can watch you? Is there somebody who can love?

This album is wonderful. Hands down the best album I’ve listened to in a long time. And don’t forget, this is the band’s debut full length. I can’t wrap my mind around it. There is not a single song on this album that I want to skip over. The only down side to the album? I just found out the release from Target has five bonus tracks. Looks like I’ll be buying it a second time…

 

Key Tracks
Chocolate (track 4)
Settle Down (track 9)
Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You (track 16)

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New Politics: A Bad Girl in Harlem

Beyond hearing about them because I’m seeing Fall Out Boy on Saturday, I didn’t know New Politics existed. I know. I know! I often feel so behind on the music times these days it’s ridiculous. I listen to such random things and I go off on tangents with different musical genres, I miss fantastic bands like this one. Luckily, I know this band exists and I know they’re awesome. To make matters even better, they just released a new CD – A Bad Girl In Harlem. Thanks, guys – just in time for me to see you live! Let’s have a listen.badgirlinharlem

The album starts off with Tonight You’re Perfect, a real upbeat song with some great group vocals. This song is a fast paced electrical storm, winding you up, slowing you down, and throwing you for a loop once more. Tonight you’re perfect. I wanna fall in love with the stars in your eyes.

Swiftly following that is Harlem, a song that almost feels dated until you realize you’ve been thrown into the sound equivalent of a gravity defying dance machine. I can’t stop listening. I listened to this one on repeat, and literally, you can’t not dance when you hear this song. I really hope they play this on Saturday. This song has so much energy, it almost feels like the notes are bursting at the seams, begging to twirl into the universe.

Stuck On You slows the roll down a little with some quaint piano and interesting vocals. Keeping things at a crawl, a few more instruments jump in when it’s time for the chorus. This song reminds me of early Marianas Trench, and if you don’t know, that is a band that I adore with every fiber of my being.

Give Me Hope echoes my feelings of Harlem. I feel like this is a pop punk group that grew like crystals out of the 80s. There’s something in the background that I can’t quite put my finger on that reminds me of the delicious tunes from the 80s that I can never get enough of. Just when you’re confused enough, they pull a very Beastie Boys move with some rock-n-roll-rap vibes. I like what they’re putting down with this style.

Just Like Me starts out with some rad guitar work and dives right into some post apocalyptic punk jives. This song is by far the hardest on the album. It reminds me of some garage punk – lots of screaming, thrashing guitars, delirious drums. I like a band that can switch it up and take things on a different level.

The album rounds out with Fall Into These Arms and the band takes it back down to their normal pace. The keyboards particularly jump out at me on this track – I love when rock bands utilize the keyboards – really more should try it. Keyboards add depth to the music and New Politics really know how to work on them – integrating them with the drums to amplify what’s already there or as a separate entity all together.

I had a listen to their self titled CD from 2010 when I first read that they were opening for my FOB date, but this CD blows any of my previous impressions out of the water. This CD is a definite lift to my spirits and I’m even more stoked for the show on Saturday. If you guys are reading, promise me you’ll play Harlem in Charlotte?

 

Key Tracks
Harlem (track 2)
Tonight You’re Perfect (track 1)
Just Like Me (track 9)

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Fall Out Boy: Save Rock and Roll

So many artists reemerging into the music scene lately!

Fall Out Boy holds a special place in my heart and my life. I listened to them during some interesting periods of life and no matter what you do, you can’t let go of those bands that went through so much with you. One night, I listened to FOB literally the entire night. It was the strangest experience – I kept waking up feeling like I was falling or spinning fobor just in a different world all together. The scene got weird – a lot of these tiny rock bands from meager beginnings were suddenly the super famous ones on the cover of teeny magazines. It was best that a lot of those collapsed. It was also best for Fall Out Boy to take a break, breathe, and reconsider what music meant to them. Seems like Save Rock And Roll is their answer.

The album opens with a strong song, yelling at you to put on your war paint! with the most intense of purposes. The Phoenix rocks like Fall Out Boy hasn’t done in ages. This song is the absolute best to scream at the top of your lungs. Whatever happened during the hiatus needs a big high five. This song kicks the boat and doesn’t quit.

If you haven’t heard My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) yet, then stop this madness and fix it. I listened to this song on repeat for longer than I’d like to admit when it dropped. I also have to give kudos to their team behind this whole back-to-the-music-scene business. There were rumors for such a long time – it felt like it was monthly – that FOB was back together. And every single time these stirrings were so adamantly denied. Without that, the dropping of this single wouldn’t have had the impact it did. They shocked people. The ones that said “oh, I knew it” didn’t know it – everyone heard the rumors, dufus, shut up. Dropping this with no prior talk – no video (looking at you JT), no nothing – was absolutely genius. Then they went and played a show that evening. Genius, I tell you. That’s how you go about marketing, kids.

Just One Yesterday delievers one of the things I love the most about Fall Out Boy. If you’ve heard a few FOB songs, I guarantee you can recall some sleazy-yet-hilariously-catchy lyrics. Thank god this album does not let you down. Anything you say can and will be held against you, so only say my name it will be held against you. Behind the lyrics, this song is one of my favorites on the album. It keeps it upbeat and funky. I want to teach you a lesson in the worst kind of way. This song also introduces the first of many guest vocals on the album in the form of Foxes.

The guest vocals come up again in The Mighty Fall – a song that strangely sounds like it could’ve been mixed by the like of Skrillex Lite with the dropping of the bass that happens repeatedly. I can really jam to this song. I also tip my proverbial hat off to the band for having Big Sean come and drop a rap verse in this song. I love hearing genres combined like this.

My favorite song on the record, hands down, is Miss Missing You. This song has the old gleam of sweet FOB with the revamped fire under their collective asses. It makes me nostalgic and excited for their future as a band. Sometimes before it gets better the darkness gets bigger, the person that you’d take the bullet for is behind the trigger. Oh, we’re fading fast. I miss missing you now and then. Listen closely and note the relationship the guitar and drums have during this song – kind of like they’re on a see-saw. I really can’t get enough of this jam.

Two more songs with guest vocals wrap up this power-trip of an album. Courtney Love joins the band on Rat A Tat. I’ve never been a huge fan of grunge and the like. I can respect the bands for what they do – but it’s just not my thing. I like a few Hole songs and have a couple albums on my iTunes, but Courtney Love isn’t my favorite musician. She adds an interesting element to this song, I’m just not sure it’s the right fit. During her vocals, the music speeds up like you’re on a bad acid trip and then levels back out when Patrick takes over again. It’s a bit unsettling. This is probably my least favorite song on the album. Whoops.

The album wraps up in the most spectacular of ways – with pianos and mister Can You Feel The Love Tonight himself. Elton John joins the band on the closing number and title track, Save Rock and Roll. This song has the feeling of an 80’s rock anthem – where you’d see some tight animal print pants, lots of big hair, pyro, and a ton of coordinating lights flashing all around. This song rules. When Elton John hits the highest point of this song with you are what you love, not who loves you. In a world full of the word yes, I’m here to scream NO I’d dare you not to stop whatever you were doing. I can rarely resist a fist punch to the air with the “no” at the end of that phrase – but maybe those are just my over-dramatics coming out again. Who knows.

All I know is this album is fantastic. It’s been so long since a new Fall Out Boy song haunted my mind, and now these 11 songs won’t leave. And I know the band has gotten a lot of commentary from the title of the album – but really, where would you be in your life without some delusions of grandeur?

Is rock and roll in trouble? Yeah, a lot of trouble. Is Fall Out Boy going to single handedly save a genre? No, but it’s still fun to have them back. Can’t wait to see these guys live for the first time ever in June. Well done, boys.

 

Key Tracks
Miss Missing You (track 7)
Save Rock and Roll (track 11)
The Phoenix (track 1)

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Anberlin: Vital

Anberlin became one of my favorite bands the second I heard them. I don’t think it even took me a full song to fall head over heels for them. I saw them in concert with Taking Back Sunday a couple years ago and they were one of the liveliest, most crowd-engaging bands I’ve seen to date. They’re divine. I felt horrid when I realized they had a new album out and I hadn’t gotten a chance to hear it. I wanted to write about it on the blog, so I’ve been putting off listening to it for a while so I could go through honest first run through reactions. Now, it is time for Vital.Anberlin-Vital-400

The album opens with the toe-tapper Self-Starter. There are normal Anberlin-esque progressions happening musically, but what Stephen is doing vocally is something on my palette that I’m not used to from this band. The vocals feel a bit more muted in this song and the chorus is exquisitely fast (think BBC’s Sherlock singing the chorus).

I’m mesmerized by Other Side. The vocals are so stated and shy while the drums and guitars come down on you like a ton of bricks. Love me, why don’t you love me? Know me, why don’t you know me?  There’s such a beautiful juxtaposition between instruments and vocals in this song that left me with chill bumps.

Vocals are back in full swing and rocking you to sleep in Innocent. This song is striking in so many ways. The music is soothing and intricate. The lyrics tell a sad story that pulls a longing for childhood out of your core. We are all born the innocent, we were born to run carefree. You will live on in the hearts of men, constantly. We were all born the innocent  I will hold on til the end – there will never be an end.

Orpheum feels like you’re racing. There’s some brilliant piano additions here that keep up with the swift melody through speeding up and slowing down, adding another dimension to the song and creating a swirling in your ears. This song is Anberlin in their element.

The band wraps up the album with God, Drugs & Sex. This one is like you took a song from this album and leaned it back in a reclining chair. This song is very mellow, moving along slowly and steadily. The addition of soft female vocals in the background adds to the ambiance of the tune. It’s an interesting way to wrap up an album. We started off slow, with vocals that almost sounded like they were behind a veil – until we moved through to clear vocals with more upbeat tempos. By the time we got to Modern Age (the track directly before God, Drugs & Sex), we had reached the heaviest point to the album. After all that, God, Drugs & Sex almost feels like being lifted up into the clouds on a roller coaster.

If I were being real honest, which I’m trying to do, Vital isn’t the album I expected from Anberlin. I’m much more used to them from the likes of Cities (2007). It’s not going to go down in my books as my favorite album from the band, but it’s an interesting transgression for them and I’d be interested in seeing how they translated this album to a live show.

Key Tracks
Orpheum (track 9)
Modern Age (track 10)
Little Tyrants (track 2)

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Terrible Things: Pre-Transmission EP

I have loved Taking Back Sunday since middle school. If you know the band, you know members have come and gone – under all kinds of circumstances. That’s fine, whatever, it’s their ordeal. When someone leaves the band and starts another project, it’s almost a surefire bet that I’m going to listen. Enter Terrible Things. When I found out this was a new band with Fred Mascherino, I knew it would be golden. Mix in Andy Jackson of Hot Rod Circuit and Josh Eppard from Coheed and Cambria, and this was an instant play for me.

Their self-titled debut album is fantastic and remains a staple in my car. We’re going to have a listen to the recently released Pre-Transmission EP.terr

The EP comes in with the at-first-electronic History that quickly melts into pleasant rock notes with repeating Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it‘s. This song sets a softer tone than their full length debut, which is pretty strictly rock and roll.

History melts right into Confession, a 57 second beautiful, intriguing number that throws the album into what I’d expect from Terrible Things. Innocent starts right off with some great drums and guitar riffs. This song mildly reminds me of something Beatles-esque if you put those tunes in a shaker with modern rock and strained out variety shows and Warped tour. This number has a really great breakdown that puts a gleam on the drums.

Last Look keeps things slower, and for good reason. The lyrics take a somber tone as they tell of a loved one that’s been lost – to death or to unconsciousness. The transgressions in this song are beautiful – going from slow and somber to electrically charged and loud and back again within a few seconds. This number wraps up with a heartbeat monitor, footsteps, murmurs of conversation and then a flat line.

This EP reads as a whole instead of five separate songs. Hospital finishes the album, continuing right on from Last Look. This song feels like confusion and sounds like what the smell of a hospital waiting room would sound like if you could hear it. There’s no guarantee and no clear solution. Just as soon as the confusion reaches the highest point, the song fluxes into some acoustic guitar notes and then blanks out.

While emotionally charged, this five song EP is packed with impressive music turns. It’s not quite what I expected after their 2010 debut, but it makes me excited for the direction the trio is going. If you haven’t heard this band and are a fan of any of the bands these members have been in, I highly recommend checking out this EP and their 2010 full length. You won’t regret it.

Key Tracks
Last Look (track 4)
Innocent (track 3)

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Mumford and Sons: Babel

There’s such a beautiful crop of albums that have recently been released or are upcoming! I always get so excited about these things. One of the albums I’ve been most excited about since the release date was announced was Babel, the new album from folk rockers Mumford and Sons. You may recall that I had the great honor of seeing them in August, which did nothing but make me even more antsy for this album after they played about four tracks from it that night. It’s nice to sit down and have the album at my disposal, though. I can concentrate more on the songs themselves that way. The album officially drops in the US on Tuesday, but we’re going to have a listen to right now.

The album opens merrily with the title track, Babel. The boys don’t beat around the bush with this – they jump feet first right into this record with this upbeat number. This really sets the scene for the rest of the album. I dare you not to tap your foot to this one – it’s nearly impossible.

I Will Wait is the first single from the album which I have already listened to more times than we’ll discuss here. I don’t know if it’s the ingenious nature of the song, the comfort of the banjos, or the memories this song elicits, but this song feels like home. It’s so peaceful. I can just close my eyes and I feel lighter. It was amazing seeing this one live. Maybe that’s why it feels so great – when they performed this song at the Bristol Stopover, I closed my eyes in the cool night air, hands up all around me and two of my best friends on either side. It was a magical moment and this song is incredible.

Lover of the Light was another I had the pleasure of seeing live. This song has a different feel to it from what I’m used to with the band, and I love the staggered notes before the chorus that bring a different depth to the tune. I also feel like Marcus’ vocals are taken to another level on this track. They’re so strong here and feel so smooth that it’s hard not to appreciate what you’re hearing.

Hopeless Wanderer is one of the strongest tracks on the album and happens to be my personal favorite. Beginning in the slow, melancholy realm that this band is known for, this song rocks you to sleep in its arms until it drops you all at once. Instruments I probably can’t even name come in and kick you in the face with such intensity that I got chills all over my being. The fast nature of the track is almost unnerving if you’re used to the band, but it again proves that this band can really accomplish anything.

Ending the album is the gorgeous Not With Haste, beginning quietly with some melodic acoustic guitar that mingles with Marcus’ gritty vocals. This song feels more like the last album, which is curious because it’s the song that (technically, without bonus tracks) wraps up the new album. It is nice, though, to be brought back down to earth after this album carried you through the stars. I need to mention briefly that the banjo work on this song is superb – Winston always rocks it out, but he’s given more of a secular platform in this one.

This band is one of the most talented bands in the game right now. Seeing them live, seeing how many instruments each of the play and how effortlessly they play them is really something else. Their records are a breath of fresh air and this one really knocked it out of the park for me. This is something people are going to be talking about for a long time. I suggest you hop on board.

And don’t forget to tune in to their Saturday Night Live performance(s) tonight at 11:29 p.m. ET on NBC!

Key Tracks
Hopeless Wanderer (track 9)
I Will Wait (track 3)
Broken Crown (track 10)

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