Monthly Archives: March 2014

“Long Live the Queen” – Frank Turner

This weeks Music Monday pick was inspired by Vasilis who pointed out that Frank Turner’s Love Ire & Song was released on this date six years ago. Frank’s music has always held a special place in my heart because his songs might be unflinchingly raw and honest at times, but there’s always a thread of hope that runs through his work. Frank’s never made it a secret that he writes from experience, and that reality means it’s easy to connect to his songs on a much more personal level. He’s also one of my favorite storytellers, and this song is a perfect example of all the reasons why I love him.

The video, directed by the talented Ben Morse, isn’t half bad either.

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March 31, 2014 · 8:02 pm

First Impressions: Koji

By Cherie

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For this weeks First Impressions I was given the artist Koji. I’ve heard his name mentioned before, and I knew he did the Acoustic Basement tour but that’s about all I knew about him. Vas told me he chose this artist for me because of his voice, and he warned me that I would probably be surprised by his sound. He was right, as usual.

The first song I listened to was “Giants Sleeping.” The version I listened to first was a live version because, to quote Vasilis, “his voice sounds fucking beautiful in it.” And I have to admit that Vasilis is right. The recorded version is good as well, but there’s something about the live version that is much more compelling. Its stripped down and much more intimate with just Koji and a guitar. My first thought when listening to is it that it would be the the perfect road trip song. The sleeping giants that Koji refers to in the song are the Appalachian mountains, a mountain chain that runs through his home state of Pennsylvania but also passes through the state I live in (New Hampshire). I was struck by how vivid his description of the mountains are, even though he doesn’t use that many words. There’s a stretch of land that runs through the mountains near where I live, called the Kancamagus Highway. Its a winding, twisting mountain road, and though it can be quite terrifying at times with a sheer drop on one side and looming mountains on the other, I’ve always been drawn to it. I’ve traveled it in every single season, and experienced it in just about every kind of weather. Koji describes it exactly when he sings “ghosts haunt, hang and hover like the morning mist / the sun burns it off, the giants rise / then I know that I am alive.” Perhaps its just my familiarity with the mountains, but I felt a sense of connectedness to the song, and those words in particular.

The second song, “Chasing a Ghost” is a lot more upbeat in tempo than the first. Just like the first song though, the thing I was drawn to right from the start were the lyrics. Koji has a way of painting pictures by using just the bare minimum number of words that is fascinating. My favorite line from this song was “summertime sticking to the skin on my ribs.” Its such a short line, and yet it somehow managed to paint a vivid picture in my mind. I’m instantly transported to hot New England summers when the humidity sinks into your very core and feels like its become a part of you.

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I can easily see myself looking up more of Koji’s work in the future. This blog is called Lyrically Addicted for a reason, and there’s something that draws me to Koji’s simple but poignant lyrics. I’d love to see him do an acoustic show, his voice is lovely and draws a listener in all on its own. In fact, after listening to those two songs I looked up future tour dates and was disappointed to see that he’s not coming anywhere me any time soon. But you can bet the next time he swings around I’ll be there.

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March Sadness Playlist

by Vasilis

March is a good month to be sad: We lose an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings (though we do gain an hour of daylight), the weather is still wintery, and it’s a never-ending 31-day month with no holidays to give us time off. So in honor of March Sadness (full disclosure: this is not an original idea) I put together a playlist of some classic emo bands.

Emo has been going through what many are calling a “revival” over the past couple years; bands like Into It. Over It., Tigers Jaw, Balance & Composure, Dads, Modern Baseball, The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, and many more have led the “emo revival” charge. Those who love emo claim the genre never died. Regardless, the takeaway is that emo (past and present) has provided us with some honest, heartfelt music to scream at the top of our lungs and get us through the sad times.

This playlist is split into two, starting off with the revival and progressing to the classics like The Get Up Kids, Braid, Jimmy Eat World, American Football, Texas is the Reason. Enjoy the sadness everyone!

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Fireworks – “Oh, Common Life” Review

by Vasilis

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Pop punk often suffers from oversaturation. For every band like The Wonder Years that pushes the boundaries, there are ten more that lack imagination and are little more than carbon copies of their predecessors. The genre’s prolonged prosperity relies on the bands that are willing to go against the grain and experiment with the style while remaining true to its core values. Alternately, the trendier bands that stick like glue to one sound to pander to the lowest common denominator often get discarded after the audience becomes bored with their shtick, thus affecting the overall longevity of the scene. For pop punk to excel, more bands need to be willing to test themselves and the audience to create music that can allow the genre to grow.

Enter Michigan-based Fireworks; the band is pop punk by association but has never used the genre as a crutch. If you start from the beginning of their discography, you might find little to distinguish them from other pop punk bands; they wrote fast and aggressive distortion-driven songs that featured catchy, nasally vocals that waxed poetic about friendship, hometown, growing pains. However, with the release of their critically acclaimed sophomore album Gospel, the band began to distance themselves from the pop punk crop; they added heavier use of the keyboard and cleaner guitars while exploring pop-inspired melodies. The music was mostly uplifting and hopeful, but remained unbelievably infectious and relatable.

If Gospel represented a happier side of pop punk, then Oh, Common Life, the band’s third full-length album, presents a much gloomier outlook, rife with melancholy, nostalgia, and introspection. The album comes on the heels of a brief hiatus that gave the band time to breathe and examine their lives. The lyrics incorporate dark and haunting imagery while the music further delves into the deep end of the pop-tinged spectrum. The album holds nothing back, drawing from the most honest crevices of common, everyday life. Opener “Glowing Crosses” sets the listener up for the roller coaster ride that’s before them, charging ahead with a churning bass line and a pounding guitar riff that leads to a fist-pumping chorus featuring Dave Mackinder’s soaring vocals as he belts, “you know I’m barely hanging on/I’m burning on your front lawn/like a burning cross, cross cross”. The use of the church-like organ in the bridge sets this song apart from your standard rough-around-the-edges pop punk song. Keyboardist Adam Mercer shines in his ever-expanding role, sprinkling twinkly harmonic piano riffs at the perfect times to add a bright layer to even the darkest songs.

After stalling on the goofy guitar riff on “Bed Sores” and the unremarkable “The Back Window’s Down”, the album’s only real missteps, the music picks up steam and never lets up as the band offers some of their finest work to date. Tymm Rengers’ explosive drumming opens the doors on “Flies on Tape”, a toe-tapping, hand-clapping anthem that showcases Dave’s continued vocal progression; his harmonies invoke images of Patrick Stump as he reaches some of the highest notes he’s ever hit. Guitarist Chris Mojan and Brett Jones compose some of the band’s most memorable guitar riffs to date, from the slick and dancey “Woods” to the slow and methodical “One More Dizzy Creature With Love”. “The Sound of Young America” is a song befitting its name, presenting a catchy, adrenaline-charged riff leading to a spirited and youthful chorus that is a lot of fun to listen to. “Run Brother Run” is one of the finest songs in the band’s catalog, a slow and somber track that builds off the polished guitar and piano and draws the listener in with its intimate look into Dave’s inner turmoil.

The band consistently orchestrates uplifting music even when tackling the saddest moments. Death seeps through every pore of the album, specifically pertaining to Dave losing his father while he toured with The Wonder Years in 2011. “Play God Only Knows At My Funeral” sees Dave coping with his ghosts as he laments, “I’m half the man/my father says I should be/and I can feel/I can feel him over me.” The crisp riff and ear-pleasing melodies put a huge smile on your face even as Dave sings, “Maybe I need to go out tonight/and get stabbed to death to feel alive/yeah I used to try”. “The Only Thing That Haunts This House Is Me” opens with another blaring guitar riff that sways gracefully into a hook-heavy chorus that addresses the affect the death had on his life. Closer “The Hotbed Of Life” is a bouncy sing-a-long that delves deeper into Dave’s ghosts. He croons, “I used to hang grocery bags up and down, up and down my arms/to impress my mom, now I use them to carry boxes/out of my dead dad’s house/so I started writing songs about this girl/but now that girl is somebody’s wife” The images of ghosts, graves, and death are weaved throughout but are handled with great care and attention.

Oh, Common Life comes at a time when pop punk has been going through a stagnant period. The band shatters all conventions associated with the genre, which is all the more impressive since they have now done this twice. The music is brave and relatable, logically building off the foundation laid down on Gospel. The album refuses to sugarcoat anything, but then again neither does life; death and misery happen and the only way to deal with it is to address it head-on. Dave’s pure honesty and candidness provide the fuel that drives the brilliantly catchy music and soaring melodies the band continues to provide. In the end, Oh, Common Life is a welcome addition to a genre that sorely needs innovation.

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“Knives” – The Box Tiger

Today’s Music Monday song comes from up and coming Toronto based rock band, The Box Tiger. Lead singer Sonia Sturino gives a powerful performance and reminds us that yes, girls can rock too.

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First Impressions – Bayside

By Ryan, contributing writer

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I’ve heard the name Bayside kicked around before, and I’ve never looked into them too much. But, with the advent of this new column, I’m finally getting a chance to check them out. The only thing I really know going into this is that they’re a rock band. That’s it. And, that they have cool album covers.

Regardless, I’ve been texted my instructions. I’m going to listen to “Devotion and Desire” off of their self-titled album, “Sick, Sick, Sick” from their album Killing Time, and “Landing Feet First” from The Walking Wounded. The Walking Wounded also happens to be Vas’s favorite album and the track “Landing Feet First” is Cherie’s favorite song by Bayside. You can probably surmise that she was the one who chose the tracks for this segment of First Impressions.

First off, we have “Devotion and Desire”. I like their sound right off the bat. The guitar work is great and the little lead-in reminds me of harmonic metal guitar work but not as complex or screechy. The guitar work afterward is fairly straightforward, but works well. The music is something I would listen to regularly. However, and this is a major point, I’m not a fan of the vocals. I’ve always had a particular aversion to certain vocal qualities that crop up in various genres of music. For instance, I love metal, but I don’t like black metal vocals. The pig squealing and ultra-deep and guttural vocals are just ridiculous. But, anyway, back to Bayside. I’ve always had an aversion to the pop-punk/new-emo vocals. His voice doesn’t always cut into the whiny quality that I’m not a fan of, but when it does, it puts me off. It doesn’t make me hate the track at all, though. It’s just one of my pet peeves. I’m a fan of what I’ve heard so far; so, let’s see what the next track brings.

“Sick, Sick, Sick” (from Killing Time) is another instrumentally sound track that I dig. This track is still energetic, but not as fast-paced as “Devotion and Desire”. As with almost all other music known to man, this track is about being heartbroken and feeling (you guessed it) … sick. Although these kinds of lyrics are common throughout music, I think that it is again the vocals that make me not feel attached to the song. I don’t feel any power or rage behind his voice. It’s all just sort of present. It doesn’t grab me by the heartstrings and drag up memories of exes and mistakes.

Finally, we have “Landing Feet First” from The Walking Wounded. I think I’ve actually heard this song before (most likely on a roadtrip with Cherie). This is what this man’s voice was made for. This is the most appropriate track for his vocal style. It’s almost Weezer-like in a way, a much more gentle presentation with a mellow rock instrumental. I’m a big fan of this track.

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All in all, I liked my introduction to Bayside. I’m going to listen to more of their music for a more rounded opinion, but I’m probably just going to pick and choose the mellower tracks for a specific playlist so I’m not skipping through entire albums to find them. The takeaway from this is that I’m very picky with vocals and that you shouldn’t let that stop you from checking out Bayside yourself.

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Quote of the Day

Sometimes I wish you were here, weather permitting
Right thoughts, right words, right action

“Right Action” – Franz Ferdinand

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March 21, 2014 · 5:58 pm