Tag Archives: pop-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 First Impression Impresses on First EP

Beginning as a band as early as 2009, The First Impression didn’t get serious with their musical career until 2011. The Port Huron, Michigan, based pop-rock band recently released their first album, an EP by the name of Aimless Affection.

The EP kicks off with Memory of You, something that is reminiscent of the older pop-punk scene – think the likes of Senses Fail. The guitar is pleasantly making its presence known, backing soft vocals and drums. The vocals sound like something that would be heard around the Warped Tour 2004 or 2005 lineup. This song also happens to be Bieth’s favorite off the EP. “It defines us because the song is so full of energy and has that plausible alternative pop sound to it that you can’t all but help sing along and bop your head to the beat,” says lead singer and guitarist Tyler Bieth.

Killer Heart, their current single (available on iTunes right now), starts off slowly, but soon comes into its own when the chorus hits home. The sounds remind me of something of times past, which is particularly peculiar but the majority of this band is still in high school. “Being in high school while maintaining a band is a lot more hard work than most may think. We have to focus on our grades while at the same time focus on practicing and writing new music,” Bieth says.

The First Impression plans on making more extensive touring plans when they all complete their high school diplomas, but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying the shows now. “We can all agree that live shows are the best part about being in a band. The surprise and appreciation crowds have for us because of our talent is unsurpassable. It really boosts all of our confidence and drives us to look for more gigs to play at,” says Bieth. “Our favorite part about it is seeing all of the familiar faces of our friends and family that go so far out of their way to make it to all of our shows to give support and encouragement while we play”

Nothing to Say is undoubtedly my personal favorite song off the EP. The song as a whole reminds me of the pop punk genre that I’m so in love with, and between the great guitar work and the lyrics, it’s a home run. Bieth says that The All-American Rejects, Mayday Parade, The Maine, and Boys Like Girls are some of their biggest influences, and I can hear hints of a couple of those bands in this song in particular.

The band hopes to finish writing and record a new album this year. “We have already begun on the writing process and have about a good seven to eight song ideas and about five of them are fully or almost completely finished and ready to record and edit.” They’re also wrapped up in some Warped Tour excitement. “We’re in a competition to play at Warped Tour 2012 against 300 other bands in the area for the Detroit, Michigan venue. This would give us tremendous publicity if we could play here and all of our usual fan base have promised us that they would join us to come watch us play.” (If you’d like to see them play, head over here to vote!)

And what does the future hold for The First Impression? “We hope to get signed to a record label by the time everyone is out of high school so the label can better manage and promote our band to the public. All of us want nothing more in this life than to have a career making music. We don’t write music for the money or credit, but because we love it and it is our passion. Music is why we live and what we want to do for most of our lifetime.”

If you want to check these guys out, you can do so on their Facebook, Twitter, and official website. You can also check their Aimless Affection EP out on Spotify! I would recommend having a listen to Nothing to Say and going from there.

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Kyoto Drive: The Approach

When a young band has touring credits with the likes of The Morning Of, Rookie of the Year, Mae, The Starting Line, and Hit The Lights, you probably should take a breather out of life to check em out. Kyoto Drive hails from Birmingham UK when in 2009, they started out at full speed ahead touring and producing music. In January of this year, the band lost their original drummer, but they bounced back quickly. With a recent signing to I Am Mighty Records, the band has a bright year ahead of them with plenty of touring. For now, we’re just going to focus on their mini-album, The Approach.

The album kicks off with an instrumental Receive This Little Breath that has a seamless transition into its lead up, Holiday. A somber beginning to an album, with soft vocals and guitars that are lurking in the background, admiring the view. For a three year old band, Kyoto Drive have their pants firmly around their waists. The vocals are just hollow enough to reflect the shining light that are the guitars. The drums are supported by a strong, sensitive bass line and the song feels like a mellow evening watching the sun go down.

So Much Alive is probably my favorite track off the album. The first song they wrote for the record, this song keeps its pace and your attention. I couldn’t sit still through this one. The drums are lively and the guitar work in this is wonderful. The vocals aren’t really what I’d expect from a band that produces pop rock tunes. Adam Binder almost brings an indie vibe to the sound with the soft vocals.

Breathe is the most up beat of songs on the album and it keeps you on your toes. Rightfully so, considering the topic (can you guess? I only know because of its description). Regardless of the topic of conversation, this song is pop rock at its finest – and again, almost a shock coming from a band with only three years behind it.

Chapters has a wonderful opening that feels as powerful as the song ends up being. Binder’s vocals are incredibly crisp in this number, feeling much like a Jimmy Eat World song in more ways than one.

Ending the album a little differently, the band busts out You Never Knew, complete with an intro on piano. I love hearing bands change things up while still feeling like the same band – it’s a refresher. This is a slower jam, almost bringing it around in a circle to the beginning of the album. Progression wise and musically, it’s beautiful.

This is a solid mini-album from a band I intend to keep a watchful eye on. If you want to check out the band (which I personally recommend you do), you can find them around the internet on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr. And I won’t lie – some of these songs already have more than one play count on my iTunes.

 

Key Tracks
You Never Knew (track 7)
So Much Alive (track 3)
Chapters (track 6)

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Marianas Trench: Ever After

How many bands have you heard that move you to become emotional after one song? I was on the search for some new bands last night after doing some intense Pandora’ing over the last week and came across a band I thought I might like based on a description. I listened to one track on Spotify and before the song was over, I was almost in tears and I had chill bumps. I made myself stop after one song and I was looking forward to listening to the entire album all day at work today.

The band that’s made such an impact on me so suddenly? Marianas Trench, a Canadian band that I had never even heard of before last night. We’re going to have a listen to Ever After, and I’m going to say at the beginning of this that you need to just go listen to it right now.

The album kicks off with the song that I allowed myself to listen to before reviewing the entire album, Ever After. The song is six minutes and twenty-four seconds, which made me weary at first, but after two minutes in, I knew I was in safe hands. The music is incredible and seems to change constantly, keeping you on your toes – speeding up, slowing down, growing louder, getting softer. The vocals layer over one another in brilliant patterns and the lyrics keep your brain and your ears engaged.

Haven’t Had Enough steps in next with stronger vocals and more consistency in the music. This song was the first track the band released from the album and it reached number one on iTunes Canada Top of the Charts. I can definitely see why – this album makes you just want to jump on a trampoline in space and let go of everything else.

With vocals that sound clean enough to be in a boy band, Truth or Dare had me turning up the volume several different times just so I could hear more and more.

Fallout is the second single that has been released from the album. It starts off hard and fast punching with strong drums and then mellows out after a minute with a little electronic influence thrown in.

B Team is one of the strongest tracks on the album. This one has more attitude behind it. Also, have I mentioned how great this band’s lyrics are? I should probably mention it again. You know, you know you love the way I linger and you keep me wrapped right round your finger. But you say, you say just wait a little longer and in time I could be the right one.

The album wraps up with No Place Like Home. There is little more to begin this track than the vocal harmonization of the four members and it sounds amazing together. Slowly, what sounds like an organ slips in to the mix and more instruments add on one by one, creating a burst in music, volume, and experience. This is a strong track to end up with the slow build up – it’s almost like the entire eleven songs were leading up to this.

Another reason I wouldn’t allow myself another track last night was because of what I had read about the album. It was meant to be listened to seamlessly without pause between tracks and that’s always been something that has fascinated me – not to mention it’s a cohesive story about a toy land which really comes out in the first and last tracks.

Looking back, I’m glad I waited to experience it as a full unit. Are there amazing individual tracks? Absolutely. But should your first time be with the entire album? Yeah, for sure. This is an album I would tell you to just go and buy. Don’t question anything – just go and buy this. They have an mp3 download of the album you can buy on their website. This is worth it. It is legitimately the best album I’ve heard in a long time.

 

Key Tracks:
Ever After (track 1)
Truth or Dare (track 4)
No Place Like Home (track 12)

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The Maine: Pioneer

When my favorite bands announce their tour lineups, I have to promptly check out who they’re touring with if I don’t know the band. This fall, that happened when Taking Back Sunday announced a tour with The Maine (which I didn’t get to see because they didn’t come back to Charlotte, NC). Somehow, I had not discovered the wonder that was The Maine before this tour came about, but after this was announced, I became obsessed with the album Black & White. Today, the band released their third full-length album, Pioneer. And this, my friends, is the album of the day.

The first track off this brand spankin new album is a slow jam called Identify that showcases the band’s strengths musically. Vocally, it could be better for an opener, but it’s enough to make a person continue listening.

My Heroine starts off a bit nitty-gritty. The vocals are intriguing and the lyrics are enough to make my ears perk up. I can’t help but be reminded of a song (and album) by From First To Last of times past – but only in name,  not at all in sound.

I’m Sorry is a somber song with a twist of some really fine tuned guitar playing. O’Callaghan’s vocals croak out phrases that I’m sure we cal all relate to – ones about being only human, or about how hard it is to say you’re sorry. What’s better than something you can truly relate to? It makes the connection so much stronger.

My toes were tapping before I was ten seconds into Don’t Give Up On “Us” which is always a good sign of things to come. By the time the chorus hit, the involuntary movement from my body parts had only increased. Favorite.

Thinking of You is such a different tune than some of the rest of the album. It’s rather up beat and more dancey than some of the other thirteen tracks, but this one has such a care free attitude and would make you smile on any rainy day.

The vocals in Like We Did [Windows Down] almost remind me of The Boss in a scruffy kind of way. This song explodes into an amazing chorus that I would absolutely sing at the top of my lungs when I was home alone.

The album wraps up on a positive note with a song that is both slowed down and upbeat in the chorus. Waiting for My Sun to Shine is a great way to wrap up a really good album.

If you’ve never listened to them, The Maine has such a unique sound in a musical world where everyone sounds so similar that it’s robotic and frightening. I can’t decide if it’s in the way they intertwine the instruments or if it comes from John O’Callaghan’s lead vocals. Some bands I can at least come up with a couple of other bands who I would place on the same level, but that isn’t the case with this band. Go listen to this.

Key Tracks:
Don’t Give Up On “Us” (track 6)
When I’m At Home (track 8)
Like We Did [Windows Down] (track 11)

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Hanson: Shout It Out

The last contact I had with Hanson was during the MMM…Bop! days when my cousin had the youngest (Taylor?) plastered on her wall and was determined to marry him. Clearly, a lot has changed since that age and Shout It Out by Hanson, and the band reflects their maturity on this disc.

I was never a huge fan of the band. I enjoyed what I heard, but besides being at my cousin’s house, I never extensively listened to them. I was too busy listening to Michael Jackson to really care. I never minded them, I just wasn’t very into them. It seems as if the three brothers have matured in many positive ways. They’re all easier on the eyes and tracks like Kiss Me When You Come Home seem far less annoying than what they’re most well-known for.

I imagine these three are still melting the hearts of people worldwide, especially with songs like Give A Little. The tune is up beat with horns flanking in the background and some sassy lyrics thrown in. Actually, Hanson makes use of horns and pianos in many of these songs, and it’s a nice addition behind the vocals that are oh-so perfect for a boyband. (Is it just me or do the vocals almost sound like the Spill Canvas?)

I don’t remember if the boys did their own instrument playing when they were popular back in the day (I’m thinking they did), but their skills come through on this album. What was once annoying preteen boyband pop has now turned into well-rounded pop music that has a really nice sound quality to all of it. Their diversity of instruments and the tampering with different sounds together is particularly interesting, especially in songs like And I Waited. If you had told me a few years ago that this band would put out such a nice sounding record, I probably would have side-eyed you.

I’m especially impressed with the slower songs that are undeniably beautiful all the way around. Use Me Up is mostly vocals and piano and is wonderfully crafted.

All in all, this album is much more than I expected when I first opened it. And it’s something that I will more than likely listen to again.
Key tracks:
Kiss Me When You Come Home (track 3)
And I Waited (track 7)
Voice In The Chorus (track 11)

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