Tag Archives: punk

State Champs: The Finer Things

I was doing some browsing on Twitter today in search of some interesting bands to catch my eye. I’ve fallen into a comfortable nest of listening to rock bands of various sub-genres over the last few weeks, so I’m in a mood for something heavier. Luckily, I stumbled upon a lot of tweets about State Champs. I had never heard of this five-piece New York pop punk band, but I’m glad there’s some Twitter buzz going about them. The Finer Things is their debut CD on Pure Noise Records out officially on Tuesday (10/8).statechamps

Elevated kicks off the album in high fashion with the perfect marinade of pop punk and punk rock; the guitars are full of energy and the drums are bouncing on a trampoline in the background. The vocals are some of the best I’ve heard in a new-to-me pop punk band in a long time. I started listening to this album out of curiosity, not really out to write a blog post, but then thirty seconds into this first jam, I realized I had stopped everything I was doing and it had every ounce of my attention. I knew at that time I had to open up a blog post and write out a reaction to this one. This may go down in history – or at least in the best-albums-of-the-year history.

I love a song that’s slow in the beginning and then punches you in the face (Chiodos are pure royalty at this). Deadly Conversation gets in a good fist to your nose before you know it. The guitar work in this jam is mesmerizing. Unless something is really great or I’m specifically listening for it, I don’t pick out certain instruments to listen to in particular (sorry, I don’t play, I’m just here to listen and write) but the guitars in this song had my specific attention more than once for their dedication to the craft.

I can tell pretty instantly that Over The Line will be one of my favorite songs on the album. This song takes pop punk and spins it like a top. There’s a certain frantic, impatient nature to this song that I’m immediately drawn to. Every single instrument is played out almost like someone has pushed the fast-forward button, but the band remains in control and turns it around in their favor and works it the entire way through.

Mind Bottled begins so perfectly, giving vocals a couple of seconds alone before adding in drums and guitars slowly in layers. This song is almost like a roller coaster – it speeds up, slows down, goes for a loop, and sometimes stops you at full halt. It’s really close to perfect. Was it all worth it? I built the highest bridge only to burn it. Was it all worth it? All you love you gave when I returned it.

Easy Enough wraps up the album on cruise control. I feel like the majority of the song was taken down a few notches except for the guitar work during the verses, lending the song a certain imbalance in places that the rest of the instruments have to work to keep things level (hint: they succeed). This is a great note to take out the album on – I would’ve felt weird about the lineup had this song been in the middle of frantic songs. They also do me a great favor and end the album on one note instead of fading out. Thanks, guys. It’s the little things.

This will go down on my favorite albums of 2013 list for sure. I almost feel empty thinking I had no idea this band existed until today. Please do yourself a favor and take a listen to this album. This is what pop punk is all about.

 

Key Tracks
Prepare to Be Noticed (track 4)
Over the Line (track 5)
Mind Bottled (track 9)

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Crash! Radio: For You, From the Heart EP

I’m always such a sucker for great bands that are female-fronted, but if you hand me a pop-punk band that’s fronted by a female, I’m putty. Tonight we’re going to have a listen to For You, From the Heart, the brand new EP from Ontario pop-punk band Crash! Radio.

Be With You begins the EP like you’re hearing an old record player or television with some scrambling and tuning before the music kicks in with soft vocals and guitar strums. Instruments are slowly added over the vocals and the sparse guitar until the first verse jumps in front of you. The guitar work takes spotlight by a minute into the song, but then. Oh, but then the song really kicks in when the chorus hits you full in the face. The vocals and the lyrics are so on point that it’s hard to tear your attention away, even on repeat listen. The first chorus melts back into the next verse like soft butter and then floats, giving the song a new dimension after that first chorus. This band also knows how to work a drum kit into the song and inadvertently into your spine. Not only does it hold the song up, but it keeps you  nodding along, almost willing the song along with your mind. The band also doesn’t try for a pesky ending when it’s all said and done – the song just slowly disintegrates into the atmosphere with a guitar still buzzing and the sound of the drums echoing in your heart.

Walk Away makes its entrance next with a softer greeting. Again, the vocals melt into the song that then is layered on top of by other instruments. This song is a powerhouse, point blank. The lyrics mildly remind me of Destiny’s Child’s song Say My Name. The story paints a picture of deceit and a chorus that’s bittersweet. Now I’m here, writing you this song in the hopes that you may sing along to these words that broke my heart and tore me apart, yeah you tore me apart. And I want you to know, I wouldn’t have let you go, I would have loved you so, but now we both end up alone. Lyrics that are relatable in some sense – even if not entirely – are so essential to music’s general being in our lives. Isn’t that what we all want – to be understood in the simplest human sense? Crash! Radio really hits that note with this song.

Happy Hellos Are Sorry Goodbyes wraps the EP up with a song title that I could just eat up. The song delivers on top of the amazing title, giving a great ending vibe. Its lyrics are more upbeat than its predecessor and it has more of a carefree, let your hair down and dance vibe. There’s also a great breakdown that really shows some bass lines which always impresses me considering the largest part of bands don’t really feature the bass as much as they should. The song slows down and then picks right back up like a rocket taking off and soars for the rest of the time.

Even though this EP is just three songs, those three songs really make an impact on you and leave you wanting more. That’s an important part of bands, wanting more. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on. The world needs more kick-ass pop-punk groups with female leads.

If you want to have a listen to this EP, head on over to their Bandcamp page. You can also catch up with Crash! Radio around the internet on Facebook and on Twitter by clicking these links.

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I Call Fives: I Call Fives

I feel like my life and my taste in music lately has been so scattered. Everything got derailed a few weeks ago and I’ve had a hard time getting back into the swing of real life. Sometimes you just need to go back to some solid pop-punk. I haven’t written about any great pop-punk bands lately and a certain band has been at the very top of my to-check-out list and I figure I may as well make that a reality. We’re going to have a listen to I Call Fives‘ self-titled disc tonight!

The album blasts out with Late Nights, a track that instantly connects me right into the genre – and then the band at large. This song really reminds me of New Found Glory if they were singing a track by Senses Fail. It’s got the right amount of rage and the right splash of annoyance to really bring it full circle for me. This is a promising start.

Obvious hits me with some lyrics that made me laugh out loud: I’d have to climb into a casket to get as low as you just went. Great pop-punk bands really bring out these zingers and it never fails to amuse or amaze me.

Two Sides of Every Story has to be one of my favorites on the albums. The vocals are strong in other songs, but really seem to be in command in this song. This is a very in-your-face track and I bet it’d be a blast to see live.

We Were Right Together and We Were Wrong Together is a short track, clocking in at one minute nad fifty-nine seconds, but is impactful in that short time. It’s hard to make amends when you turn your back on your friends. Also, can I get a moment of silence for the amazing title? Thank you.

The album wraps up with All You’ve Got Left. While it’s a bit slower than it’s predecessors, it’s a different side of the band that comes off successfully. The guitar work deserves a nod in this one because more than once it caught my attention by itself. The ending of this song, and subsequently the ending of the album, is so perfectly faded out with a repeating line that they couldn’t have had a better ending.

I’m glad I moved this band to the top of my to-listen-to list because this is a fine album. I needed some pop-punk to give me a swift kick in the ass and I would recommend this one with two thumbs up. It’s nothing but solid pop-punk fabric and it’s a raving good time. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

 

Key Tracks
Sleep Well (track 11)
Two Sides of Every Story (track 8)
Backup Plan (track 3)

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Forever Came Calling: Contender

I think I’ve previously written praise for the blog Fuck Yeah Pop-Punk. Hold on to your pants cause I’m going to do it again in this post. I keep up with them on Facebook more than anything now and not only do they keep  me updated on a lot of news about bands I care about, but they give me a great outlet for discovering new bands. This evening, they posted that they were listening to “one of the best records of the year so far” and they were only “three songs in.” I was curious about this album, so I immediately took notice. Forever Came Calling is currently streaming their debut album, Contender, which drops Tuesday, July 24.

The album starts off with Learning, a track I was initially weary about. It’s more focused on the musical dynamics than anything. The vocals are muted, but that was probably the point as an intro track. Don’t get me wrong – the instruments are completely on point, it was just a strange entry way to the band for me.

They launch right in to For the Wolves next, a track that solidified my interest in the album instantly. It’s head strong pop punk that really takes charge. Sometimes bands in the genre seem to skip along, not really owning either side of the scene, but Forever Came Calling dive face-first and make a point.

Ides is one of my favorite tracks on this album. It reminds me of a combination of Four Year Strong and Say Anything – the hostility combined perfectly with the melody. It’s really what I love about pop-punk. Shake that up with the lyrics, and you’ve hit it out of the park for me. I did my best to keep all of your fucking secrets in but now they’re bleeding out from every god damn open end.

I’ll Be Better I Promise takes things down after two power house songs back-to-back. The combined vocals in this song gave me chill bumps on first listen and the guitar work is exquisite. It’s nice sometimes to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

The title track is tied for my favorite. The lyrics are sweet to my ears and tumble right over the guitars that are the wheels that keep this track going. This song is two minutes and thirty-four seconds of pure pop-punk bliss.

The album wraps up with Dead Poets Honor, a perfect ending to an amazing album. I keep my head low but you mistook that for my eyes closed. And I can’t stand this place that we’re from, and I can’t stand these things that I’ve done. This is a relentless track to end on. If I could pick a track to hear live from this entire album, I’d choose this one. The entire vibe of this song is so hard. I can feel the amount of talent that this band put into this album through this one song.

This album is seriously the best new album I’ve heard in a long time. They’re streaming it over on the Pure Noise YouTube account so you’re probably going to want to head over there. I’m left wanting more after the album, but I’m also strangely satisfied. Forever Came Calling went from a band I had merely heard of to the band who has recorded the best new album I’ve heard in months in a matter of ten tracks. This album gets two thumbs up from me. You better check this out cause I’m positive that your life has a huge hole in it where this album should be.

Key Tracks
Ides (track 5)
Contender (track 9)
Dead Poets Honor (track 10)

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Close Only Counts: Do Bad Things

If you’re a fan of pop-punk and keep up with the genre pretty well or if you keep up with some of the bands I’ve written about, you’ve probably seen this album circling around Facebook pretty hard the past two days. Close Only Counts has dropped their new album, Do Bad Things, for free on their Facebook page. When a band is so eager to offer up their album for free, especially in a society where everyone whines about downloaded music, it’s something to take notice of. And how can you go wrong at least giving it a try?

After an intro from Bike Face, Close Only Counts kicks the album off with The New Guy, an unruly pop-punk jam that you’ll find it hard to resist nodding your head the whole way through. There are some fast vocals, some melodic sing-along-worthy choruses, and some grimy guitars to round out the song experience.

I think Knee Shark should probably be the theme song of anyone’s twenty-something years. This song talks of late nights at work, little sleep, and the feeling of nothing to show for it, which I’m sure is exactly how some of us feel at this age range. Two years and who knows where we’ll be? Twenty-four and he doesn’t get much sleep, doesn’t know where he’s been, he’ll never see this fucking place again.

She’s Lying, I’m Dying has the mix of two things I love most about pop-punk: some anger toward a love interest and clever lyrics that’ll cut right through the person the anger is directed at. You want a challenge? Well, how about you try to be yourself.

My favorite track on the album is definitely Jesse and My Whetstone. It’s an even more up-beat track than the rest of the album that’ll get you moving. The instruments sound tighter in this track – more in sync with each other and knowing it. The vocals are in charge and come through cleanly. Within thirty seconds, I had already turned my volume up a significant amount so I could enjoy this one loud and clear.

Swing for the Fences is a song that you’d want to throw on if you’d had a rough day and needed some encouragement in the form of thrashing drums and empowering lyrics. You’re gonna do great things, baby, who gives a shit what they all say now?

Close Only Counts wraps the album up with the title track, Do Bad Things. They end the album on such a high note – this song sounds the most polished and the most pulled together of anything on the album. The guitars slay your ear drums in the best possible way. This is the track that I’d peg as being the most fun to play and hear live. The cheering at the end of this track is pretty much how I feel after listening to this.

Ten tracks and twenty-eight minutes later and I’m thoroughly impressed. For a smaller band, this is such a solid pop-punk album and has many tracks that will be going into my regular rotation – I think this entire album might actually end up in the car for those boring mornings that need a wake-up. If you’re into the genre, do yourself a favor and head over to their Facebook or Twitter page and download this album. It’s free and I’m giving it two thumbs up. Really, what do you have to lose? Get to it!

 

Key Tracks
Jesse and My Whetstone (track 8)
She’s Lying, I’m Dying (track 5)
Do Bad Things (track 10)

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Man Overboard: Man Overboard

When a band has tours that are entitled Pop Punk’s Not Dead and Pop Punk the Vote, it’s going to get noticed (especially by yours truly). Tonight’s band comes highly recommended by many people whose musical opinions I trust. I forgot I had this album sitting around until I was looking up some stuff about last night’s review of The Story So Far. Turns out these two bands just wrapped up a tour together. Who wouldda thunk it? We’re going to have a listen to Man Overboard’s self-titled disk.

The first track, Rare, is something that shows you out of the gate that this is a different band. There is so much movement and so many shifts in the music and tempo that I can respect as a public school flutist. These transgressions make you slightly uncomfortable to the point that you pay attention to what you’re listening to.

Voted Most Likely is my kind of song. Man Overboard’s vocals are pretty unique – they’re not as whiny as some other pop-punk bands that I’m a fan of. They sound more normal, and at times quiet, than many bands in their genre. Again, making you take notice. This track has a great chorus with a story line about awkward adolescent relationships that I’m sure some of us can relate to.

Building on the previous songs, Not the First comes along and blows me out of the water. The lyrics are strong, strangely hopeful, and every word has a purpose. There’s so much constant change musically in this song that my attention was held the entire duration.

Though it may be one of the slower tempoed songs on the album, Picture Perfect is one of the strongest tracks. The vocals are strong and don’t sound like they’re playing hide-and-seek with the guitars. The band keeps it fresh by slowing this song down a little, with just a tad of pick up during the choruses.

The album wraps up with the perfect outro in the form of Atlas. The guitars and drums in the background make this a song that actually feels like an ender. The lyrics go along with the rest of the album and make me think maybe Man Overboard have been writing about my awkward existence on this album. I just don’t feel like a grownup yet, either.

If you’re looking for some good pop-punk to fill your time voids with, make your way over to Man Overboard. Clearly they’re supporters of the genre, and they have every right to be supporting/promoting it since they’re kicking out such good jams in the neighborhood.

 

Key Tracks
Picture Perfect (track 10)
Dead End Dreams (track 4)
Not the First (track 7)

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So Many Ways: So Many Ways EP

I’m really attempting to not completely overthrow the blog with all the new pop-punk I’ve acquired recently. I said this wouldn’t be a blog dedicated to a certain genre and I intend to stick to that. Since I’m writing this a little late tonight, I’m going to roll with a shorter EP in the form of the “pop punk thrash” genre. I’m not sure what that exactly means either, but it’s what So Many Ways classifies themselves as on their Facebook. We’re going to dig into their self-titled EP tonight!

The album starts off in the right way, proving the “thrash” added on to the end of pop-punk is very worthy and self explanatory once you hear a few beats. The volume of this band is off the charts as they rip into Take It To The Limit, an instrumental opener, and then the following I’ve Made A Huge Mistake.

When I first heard the band, I took a listen to Sleep Mask, and even on this run-through of their album, it’s my favorite. The thrash side isn’t as prevalent, but all of the instrumentation glory that you would expect from a punk band is there. The lyrics remind me of some clever ones from bands like Four Year Strong. You’re a disease and I can’t get over it. I am moved to turning the volume up on this track. It’s a must hear.

Murf’s Life Hints kicks things back up into high gear and the band dives headfirst back into the heavy metal lava pit. The mix of pop punk and metal from this band is a really interesting combination. It may sound strange to the passerby, but once you really get into this EP, you’ll find that it makes perfect sense to the members of this band. They have all the science figured out and they’ll make you a believer.

The guitar work absolutely means business on 37 Chambers. This song so perfectly blends the pop punk with the thrash/metal side of this band. Most of the song is done with the metal side of things, but the sickly sweet pop punk side comes out during the choruses, making for an interesting juxtaposition within one four minute and eight second song.

The EP wraps up with Dirtfoot, a song that kicks in with some group vocals. You wrote the book on disappointment, satisfied with a life so tormented. Group vocals are always interesting, but especially when they’re angsty group vocals.

This is a really solid EP from a band who doesn’t sound exactly like any other band that you’re going to hear these days. This band blends two genres of music who always seem to be slightly off track with each other, but So Many Ways definitely makes it work. Not only are there great things happening musically, but the lyrics on this album are something to pay attention to. This is a band I would certainly recommend and a band I look forward to hearing more from. You should probably go listen to Sleep Mask now, I’m just sayin.

 

Key Tracks:
Sleep Mask (track 3)
Dirtfoot (track 7)
37 Chambers (track 6)

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