Category Archives: editorial

Best of 2015

by Cherie

When it comes time to compile my favorite albums at the end of this year I always have a hard time. Even though I try my best there’s usually at least one or two albums that get missed – whether because I didn’t have time to listen to them during the course of the year or because I simply forget about them. I try my best to listen to new artists but I also tend to stick to a lot of the same ones, so there’s a lot of familiar names on my list: Frank Turner, Laura Marling, and Mumford and Sons just to name a few. There’s also some new names, though, like Willy Varley, George Ezra, and Halsey. Don’t be too surprised to see a lot of Xtra Mile bands on the list either. One side effect of repping the label is that you tend to listen to a lot of amazing music. And so, without further ado, here are my favorite albums from 2015.

Top Ten Albums


#1 Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony

Okay so technically The Balcony was released in 2014 but it wasn’t released in the United States until early 2015 when it was put out by one of my favorite record labels – Communion. If you haven’t heard of this band by now it’s time you stopped to give them a listen. The Balcony is only their debut album but it’s a surprisingly solid album for a freshmen release. The Welsh rock band have won the admiration of critics and fans alike, including Ewan McGreggor who became friends with the band after helping them shoot a video for their song “Hourglass”. The entire album is amazing and every time I listen to it I end up putting the whole thing on repeat.

Favorite Tracks: Hourglass, Tyrants, Cocoon, Kathleen


#2 Frank Turner – Positive Songs for Negative People

As the title suggests, Frank Turner’s sixth studio album, Positive Songs for Negative People contains a mix of optimism and pessimism. “Mittens” is typical Turner song where he laments about a past relationship that “I once wrote you love songs, you never fell in love.” The entire album is a classic example of Turner’s unflinching honesty. Each song rings true even when Turner is being critical of himself and his past relationships. If I had to pick one song that best represents the entire album it would have to be the first single from the album, “Get Better” which proudly proclaims “I’m trying to get better because I haven’t been my best….we can get better because we’re not dead yet.”

Favorite Tracks: Mittens, Josephine, Silent Key, Get Better


#3 Short Movie – Laura Marling

Some things only get better with age. That seems to be the case with young Laura Marling, who released her fifth studio album this year. Short Movie is the first album to feature Marling on an electric guitar, and the album features a completely new sound and a sense of confidence that is striking in someone so young. The album was released after Marling took a year off from music and traveled around the United States by herself. The experience seems to have left a mark on her for she returned with a fifth album that is more mature, more confident, and louder then any of her previous albums. The album is about a woman learning who she is and accepting herself for that person. “Little boy, I know you want something from me / yes I may be blind but I am free / don’t you try and take that away from me,” she warns on the last track, “Worship Me.” Watch out world. Laura Marling is back and this time she’s taking no prisoners.

Favorite Tracks: False Hope, Short Movie, Walk Alone, Gurdjieff’s Daughter


Wilder Mind – Mumford and Sons

I think the world as a whole was probably taken aback when the London based quartet announced a new album in 2015 but warned fans ahead of time that would not feature a banjo. Many people only associate the band with their distinctive banjo backed brand of folk that they’ve become famous for. The truth is, however, that the band was ready for a change for their next album and so this time they opted for a sound more grounded in rock than the folk they were previously known for. They may have swapped the banjo for the fiddle (played live by Noah and the Whale’s own Tom Hobden) but the heart and soul of the band remains the same. The faster tracks are probably the band’s strong point but each song on the album is a reminder that the band is back and stronger than ever.

Favorite Tracks: Ditmas, Tompkins Square Park, Just Smoke, Hot Gates


#4 Blurryface – Twenty One Pilots

Tyler Joseph and Joshua Dun have no concept of genre limiting boundaries. With every song they put out they push the boundary a little further, refusing to be pingeonholed into a traditional genre like pop, rock, or rap. Each song on the album is a different journey with it’s own flavor and sound of it’s own. Blurryface could be considered an anthem for today’s youths – for those who don’t quite fit in or for those who struggle with mental health. It’s an album for the misfits and for people who feel like they are growing up too fast. A lot of people can relate to the songs in some way or another and it’s refreshing to see a young band being open and honest and still be embraced full heartedly by their fans. Despite consisting of only two members the duo put on a fantastic live performance as well, and watching them live you can see their passion first hand.

Favorite Tracks: The Judge, Ride, Tear in My Heart, We Don’t Believe What’s On TV

Honorable mentions


Glitterbug – The Wombats

Favorite Tracks: This is Not a Party, Your Body is a Weapon, Give Me a Try, Greek Tragedy


Anthems for Doomed Youth – The Libertines

Favorite Tracks: Gunga Din, Fame and Fortune, The Heart of the Matter, You’re My Waterloo


Marks to Prove It – The Maccabees

Favorite Tracks: Spit it Out, Something Like Happiness, Marks to Prove It


Down on Deptford Broadway – Skinny Lister

Favorite Tracks: What Can I Say, Cathy, Trouble on Oxford Street, This is War


Wanted on Voyage – George Ezra

Favorite Tracks: Budapest, Casey O’, Can You Hear the Rain, Listen to the Rain


Postcards From Ursa Minor – Will Varley

Favorite Tracks: Talking Cat Blues, Seize the Night, Outside Over There


Badlands – Halsey

Favorite Tracks: New Americana, Colours, Castle, Ghost


Woman to Woman – Esme Patterson

Favorite Tracks: Never Chase a Man, Bluebird, The Glow


Froot – Marina and the Diamonds

Favorite Tracks: Blue, Happy, Savages, Better Than That


All Your Favorite Bands – Dawes

Favorite Tracks: All Your Favorite Bands, Things Happen, I Can’t Think About It Now


Whispers II – Passenger

Favorite Tracks: David, Fear of Fear, Nothing’s Changed


Rolling Up the Hill – Beans on Toast

Favorite Tracks: The Great American Novel, God is a Cartoonist, I’m Home When You Hold Me


Back on Top – The Front Bottoms

Favorite Tracks: Cough it Out, West Virginia, Help


To Us, The Beautiful – Franz Nicolay

Favorite Tracks: To Us, The Beautiful, Marfla Lights, Imperfect Rhyme


Graceland – San Cisco

Favorite Tracks: Run, Snow, Bitter Winter

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Celebrating 10 Years of American Idiot: Where It All Began For Me


It’s a unique pleasure to be able to pinpoint the exact moment when something truly special came into your life and forever changed the way you felt and understood the basic idea of a certain medium. When I was 15 years old, I wasn’t much of a music fan. I rarely listened to music as a hobby, and my understanding of rock music was whatever Now That’s What I Call Music CDs and mainstream radio tossed at me. In most instances, this meant bands such as Three Days Grace, Creed, 3 Doors Down, and Nickelback (with the occasional Blink-182 track that I still love and listen to). My feelings towards music were that of convenience and of necessity, not of passion; music was something nice for the background but not something I lived off of.

Then came 2004, and what has become my all-time favorite record was released by pop punk band Green Day. To backtrack, International Superhits (Green Day’s 2001 greatest hits album), was the first CD I ever owned, but I bought it mostly for “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and only glanced over the rest of the tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every song, from the infectious bass line on “Longview” to the acoustic strumming on “Macy’s Day Parade”, but as was typical for me at the time I enjoyed the songs without giving much thought to the music on a personal and emotional level. It was merely noise for the sake of noise, something that could fit into the background like a person you’ve never met walking beside you on the street.

Then American Idiot was dropped into my lap from the collective minds and talents of guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool. I saw it in stores everywhere and was instantly drawn to the bleeding heart/hand grenade logo on the cover and was hooked the first time I heard the song “American Idiot”. It was bold, in-your-face and unapologetic, and I wanted more; for the first time, I was inclined (and determined) to listen to an entire album based on a song rather than just listen to the singles or popular tracks. What I received was a lesson on music that I didn’t expect or know that I wanted, but one I sorely needed at the time.

The album was more imaginative than anything I had ever heard, something called a “rock opera” with characters, a narrative, rising and falling action, and a climax. It was like a novel in music form and I was in love. I became instantly infatuated with the suburban struggles of the jaded and bored “Jesus of Suburbia”, the story of his deserting his hometown in search of truth only to run into the mysterious “Whatsername” and his journey that led him back to Jingletown. I remember especially enjoying the repeated references that tied one song to the next, from the “7-11” he used to hang out at to the “letterbomb” Whatsername dropped on him to the “underbelly”, which was his gang of personal disciples. I found the idea of forming a collective story so much more interesting than just putting a record out with 10-14 seemingly random songs.

But more than just the story, it was the first album that implored me to notice the instrumentation and to take interest in the idea and style of writing lyrics and composing music. I was floored the first time I heard “Give Me Novacaine” and hearing how the soft lullaby of the acoustic guitar gave way for the imposing, raucous chorus that engulfed my senses. I dug the high-pitched shrill of “Nobody likes you/everyone left you/they’re all out without you/having fun” that preceded the crunchy guitar intro on “Letterbomb”. More than anything, I was amazed at the two 9-minute, 5-part epics (equipped with tempo changes and stylistic variety that made each song an impressive, unparalleled roller coaster of musical emotion). To be able to switch up a song so many times while not losing sight of the narrative and the importance of what the band was singing made those two of my best songs I’ve ever heard. American Idiot did for me what Dookie did to the grunge craze and what grunge did to the hair metal phase: it purged any remaining semblance of who I was as a music fan and created a completely new outlook on music.

The story of American Idiot is timeless at its heart; it remains tied to the idea of alienation, loneliness, anger, and longing, among so many more. The story of looking for a better life for yourself but ultimately being disappointed has been told time and time again, but at the moment when Green Day released it, it was a story that needed to be told in the way Green Day told it. For this reason (and simply because the band was bold enough to go against what was “easy” and challenge their fans and the music world) this album will remain special for a long time.

Without American Idiot, I would not have the same undying passion for music that I have. Maybe another album would have come along that would have had that effect on me, or maybe not. But for me, American Idiot was the beginning of it all, the same way Dookie was the beginning of punk for so many in the mid-90’s and influenced an entire crop of bands that I now love. Without American Idiot I would not be into my other favorite bands, like Bayside and The Wonder Years, because I wouldn’t care so deeply about music on a personal, lyrical, and emotional level and would not be able to connect with the music these types of bands make.

Even if I go through a period of time where I don’t listen to American Idiot for a few weeks, or a few months, or even a year, not a day goes by where I don’t contemplate its profound impact on my life. I think about all the shows I’ve attended (including a few Green Day shows) and all the experiences that have made my life richer and more fulfilling, and I can trace it all back to September 21, 2004, when Green Day released American Idiot. For that, I am forever grateful.


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Frank Turner Discusses Opening For Mineral, Musical Influences, and Which Band He Would Love to See Live

by Vasilis

Many music fans have a hard time picturing their favorite musicians as music fans themselves. We tend to put these artists on a pedestal and imagine them as rock stars who are above the sort of idol worship that we often demonstrate. However, contrary to that belief, these musicians are no different than us; they love the art of music and grew up admiring a wide ranger of musicians who often became the foundation which helped inspire them to create their music. That feeling doesn’t just go away once a musician becomes popular or well-known. It’s this beautiful cycle that allows the music we connect with so deeply to be created, to continue to influence future musicians who create music that influences a whole new generation, and it’s a wonderful thing to watch. Frank Turner is a musicians who completely shatters the false belief of musicians as being above the fans. Frank conducts himself in a very honest and open manner with his audience; he is just a guy who makes music for a living, one who builds a strong connection with his fans through his lyrics and approachable personality.

Frank is also not one to shy away from the music that inspired him. At shows, he can often be heard covering anyone from Blink-182 to Bruce Springsteen (his “Thunder Road” cover is a staple at his New York City shows). Frank has also made it known that he is a huge fan of 90’s emo group Mineral, whom he described as one of his very “favourite, foundational bands”. When Mineral announced their reunion tour earlier this year, Frank did what any fan would do when presented with a rare opportunity to see such an influential, once-dead band: he bought tickets to their New York City performances and planned a trip without a moment’s hesitation. I was instantly fascinated by his own connection to the band and found it refreshing to see one of my favorite musicians speak so highly of one of his and demonstrate such unbridled passion for their work.

On top of flying out to New York City to catch some of their shows (their first full tour in 17 years), Frank also opened for the first of show. We reached out to Frank Turner via email to ask him about his experience opening up for Mineral last Thursday at St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Frank was kind enough to answer our questions and provide some insight into his experience, some of his other big influences, and which band he would love to see live if given the opportunity. You can check out a full review of the show on Noisey’s blog, as well as Frank’s first-hand experience of the show.

Lyrically Addicted: Thank you for talking the time to speak with us Frank. You called Mineral’s sophomore (and final) album EndSerenading “near-perfect” on Noisey’s blog. Was there any one particular song on that album (or by the band in general) that made you go “wow” on first listen or that really made you connect so strongly with their work?

Frank Turner: Yes, the song “&Serenading”. I remember being a little confused by the record at first (I was about 16), but when that song kicked in, with the chorus line about symphonies in seashells, I was pretty blown away. Once the ice cracked like that, I fell for the rest of the record very quickly.

LA: You had the unique opportunity of opening for a band that meant so much to you on their reunion tour. Can you briefly describe what the experience was like and why you decided to play a set of new songs.

Frank: It was a great experience, one for the obituary. I was pretty jet-lagged and had a nasty cold, so perhaps not on my best form, but I enjoyed the expeirence. I thought I’d play new stuff because I’m working on a new record right now and no one bought tickets to see me play, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try some new stuff out in a live setting.

LA: Was there any particular aspect of Mineral’s music (lyrics, guitar tones, etc.) that really influenced your current sound?

Frank: The whole way Chris [Simpson] sings and writes is a huge influence to me now – the way he uses his voice, both in the physical sense and int he literary sense. I still think that’s probably the biggest influence on me in that area. I also love the production on the second record, I think Mark Trombino’s drum sounds are pretty foundational.

LA: Are there any other bands from the mid-90’s emo era that influenced your music?

Frank: I listened to a bunch of that stuff – Jimmy Eat Wrold, The Promise Ring, Christie front Drive, and so on. Mineral were far and away my favorite of the bunch, but I still listened to a fair amount of Jimmy Eat World.

LA: If you could attend a hypothetical reunion tour for one “dead” band you never had the chance to see live, who would it be?

Frank: Nirvana, circa early 1993.

Thank you to Frank Turner for taking the time to answer our questions. You can catch Frank Turner on the road with Koo Koo Kangaroo in the UK starting Thursday, September 11 in Norwich. For a full list of Frank’s tour dates, go to Frank Turner is expected to release his upcoming sixth studio record in early 2015. Mineral continue their reunion tour, which ends in Austin Texas in November, before hitting the United Kingdom in early 2015. You can also check out a full review of Mineral’s Bowery Ballroom show in New York City on our blog.

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Motion City Soundtrack and Ma Jolie at The Music Hall of Williamsburg, 9-04-14



by Vasilis


 When you think of free shows in Brooklyn, you picture dingy bars with no-name locals bringing friends and family to watch them awkwardly and energetically rip through a short set in the hopes of building a big enough fan base to hop one day make it big. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, as these shows are often a lot of fun with the right bands. However, it’s rare to see a free show in one of Brooklyn’s premiere venues featuring one of the most well-recognized emo-punk bands of the past decade perform a near-perfect setlist.

Thanks to Converse Rubber Tracks, this scenario became a reality on Thursday, September 4. As part of the Converse Rubber Tracks Live Concert Series (which features bands that have recorded in their Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn), Minneapolis’ Motion City Soundtrack announced a free show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg with Philadelphia punks Ma Jolie. The show “sold out” instantly and created quite a stir, as the band has not played many shows in 2014 in preparation for their upcoming studio album (set for an early 2015 release).

Ma Jolie, the opener “hand-selected by the headlining act”, took the stage at 9pm to a warm reaction of fans mainly there to see the headliner.. With no prior knowledge of the band, I was pleasantly surprised with their enthusiasm and uninhibited energy. They played loud, fast punk songs that went above the typical 2-minute threshold but never quite overstayed their welcome or felt long-winded. The group chose to use their 30 minutes to throw as much music at the audience as they could, stopping only to express amazement and gratitude at the opportunity of opening a show for such an influential band. Their dynamic presence and unbridled energy made them the perfect opener for Motion City Soundtrack, a band whose live shows exhibit the same brand of zany, off-the-wall enthusiasm and electricity.


Ma Jolie Setlist:
Brace, Smile
A Song About Boats
They Go Up
A Mile of Rope
88 MPH
Kansas Slam

Motion City Soundtrack, who haven’t headlined a New York City show in almost two years, walked out at 10pm to a packed room. While opening with “My Favorite Accident”, a fan-favorite from their decade-old debut I Am the Movie, I was surprised and a little saddened to see the song receive a lukewarm reaction. The crowd was unusually reserved, singing along without much movement for such a lively song. The fans had a similar reaction to the poppier single “Broken Heart”, leading me to dread that the crowd merely came to take in a free show. However, once Commit This to Memory opener “Attractive Today” blasted through the speakers, the crowd erupted as the wave of stage divers and moshers took hold. The song proved to be the adrenaline shot that reinvigorated the crowd and helped the band settle in and open up.

From there, the band mixed it up with choice cuts from each of their five studio albums. What made their performances so enjoyable is that, even with so many popular singles to choose from, they always manage to throw in some deeper cuts to the audience’s surprise and pleasure. At this show, the band brought out the quick and punchy “The Red Dress” and the wacky and uncontrollably urgent “Capital H” (from their first album) along with the cathartic and in-your-face “When You’re Around” and the serene and beautiful “Last Night”, each of which brought about an appreciative response. The group even shocked themselves by performing “Throw Down”, one of their oldest songs, at the request of a front-row fan. Justin Pierre playfully mimed his inability to play the song but learned it with the help of guitarist Joshua Cain and played it at what he referred to as “75 percent capacity”. Fans didn’t seem to care, as they crashed and danced around the pit in pure bliss at the surprise of the night.


The setlist was heavy on the quintet’s first three albums and only sprinkled in the singles from their latter two releases My Dinosaur Life and GO. While many enjoy those albums, you’d be hard-pressed to find any complaints from the crowd. The band’s setlist was as good as anyone could have possibly hoped for going into the night. Of course, no Motion City Soundtrack performance would be complete without hit songs “The Future Freaks Me Out”, which inspired a frenzy of dancing and jumping, “Everything Is Alright” and the mellow, emotional “Hold Me Down”, which calmed down the crowd in a hushed sing-a-long to close off the 80-minute set.

The band’s Brooklyn set marked the first time I had the opportunity to see them perform live with new drummer Claudio Rivera (ex-Saves the Day), who replaced long-time drummer Tony Thaxton at the start of 2013. He fit in well with the band’s jovial, high-energy performance. His liveliness on stage was matched only by keyboardist Jesse Johnson, who is a ton of fun to watch as he parades around the stage in between his piano riffs and pleads with the crowd to give him everything they’ve got, which always seems to work. Throw in Justin Pierre’s adorably awkward presence and the group’s tireless enthusiasm and on-point instrumentation and you had a fun night all around.

Motion City Soundtrack Setlist:
My Favorite Accident
Broken Heart
Attractive Today
A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)
Perfect Teeth
True Romance
This Is For Real
Her Words Destroyed My Planet
The Red Dress
Capital H
When “You’re” Around
Last Night
Point of Extinction
Throw Down
The Future Freaks Me Out
Everything Is Alright (encore)
Hold Me Down (encore)


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Five Albums to Watch For in the Fall

by Vasilis

It’s a fact we all hate to address but must inevitably face: summer has come to an end. Although the east coast remains unseasonably warm for early September, Labor Day is behind us and the season of pumpkin-spiced drinks and fall attire is fast-approaching. With that comes one of the busiest times of the year in the music world, as bands prepare for new albums and big tours. Musicians seem to especially love October and November, as these months seem to attract some of the best shows and new music of the season. With so much to look forward to, there are five particular albums that I’m very excited to hear over the last four months of 2014.


Hostage Calm – Die on Stage (September 16)

Unlike the other four bands who occupy this list, Hostage Calm are young and don’t sport the stature or name-recognition the others do. However, Hostage Calm earned the respect and attention of anyone who listened to their 2012 effort Please Remain Calm. The ambitious album read like a rallying cry for the disenfranchised and marginalized, pleading for patience and for self-preservation in a time of great crisis for so many. The band’s power-pop melodies infused with punk idealism inspired the imagination of a growing audience. Hostage Calm are returning in September with what promises to be an equally-ambitious follow-up for their fourth studio effort; lead single “Your Head/Your Heart” built on the progression they made on their last album with catchy hooks and toe-tapping melodies, while “A Thousand Miles Away From Here” drew more from their hardcore punk roots with fist-pumping urgency. Die on Stage should serve to further push the band forward and continue their steady growth.


New Found Glory – Resurrection (October 7)

If ever an album title spoke volumes about where the band was at this point in their careers, it would be this one. New Found Glory have toured relentlessly for the past few years in support of new albums and celebrating the anniversaries of their classic work. However, the group was faced with a sex scandal that forced them to kick out rhythm guitarist and primary lyricist Steve Klein last year. While many wondered if this would negatively affect the pop punk legends, the band chose to go forward without Steve and promised to stick together and rely on brotherhood and their fans to get through. Resurrection is the result, and the band has shown no signs of slowing down. Lead single “Selfless” is riff-heavy in the same vein as Catalyst and Not Without a Fight, as the opening lick draws heavily from their hardcore roots. It’s a welcome shift from the enjoyable but ultimately uninspired Radiosurgery, an album which felt like pandering to fans hoping for a pop punk sequel to Sticks and Stones. The new song is heavier than anything on the last album but latches on to the catchiness that has helped this band resonate with generations of fans, which should bode well for Resurrection.



Yellowcard – Lift a Sail (October 7)

It’s hard to believe 2014 marks Yellowcard’s fifth year back together after reforming from their “indefinite hiatus”; it’s even harder to believe that Lift a Sail marks the band’s ninth studio effort and third since returning (and their first with label Razor & Tie). The band has taken few breaks since 2010, choosing instead to tour non-stop and not keep their fans guessing as to what the future holds. Though both albums were well received (including the 2012 album Southern Air, which is one of the band’s best works to date), their newest effort will be the first that will not feature Longineu Parsons III (LP) on the drums. While the news hit fans hard, the band persevered on (with help from Anberlin drummer Nate Young). I’m intrigued as to what this album will sound like, as the band also promised it would have “less of a pop punk sound, more of a rock sound”. Lead single “One Bedroom” is bold and sincere and fits their description well, sounding like a sequel to their 2011 single “Hang You Up”. It’s hard to gauge exactly what the album will sound like from this song alone, but with the band promising a huge sound there’s a lot of potential for another solid addition to the Yellowcard discography.


Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End (October 7)

Let me first say that October 7 is shaping up to an incredible day for new music. With that said, the final album from that day to make the list is Weezer’s ninth studio album Everything Will Be Alright in the End, an album that could have made it on here based on its name alone. Since Pinkerton, many (including myself) have found much fault with a lot of the band’s work, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some good there. The band rebounded from what is undoubtedly their most embarrassing effort (Raditude, 2009) with a respectable and enjoyable album (Hurley, 2010). After releasing three records in three years, the band decided to hit the brakes and take their time releasing a follow, which brings with it the possibility of a more thought-out album. Lead single “Back to the Shack” is classic Weezer in all their nerd rock glory, and its riff-heavy opening is a welcome sound to what made Weezer so enjoyable. While it isn’t an instant Weezer classic, it does show that there’s plenty left in the well to draw from and has many excited about the prospects of their newest album.


Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways (November 7)

I am on board with anything that Dave Grohl is a part of. After proclaiming that Foo Fighters would be going on hiatus, a loud sigh of relief escaped the mouths of rock and roll fans everywhere when the band announced they would be releasing a new album in 2014. Sonic Highways will appeal heavily to anybody interested in the number “8”; the album marks the band’s eighth studio effort album, was recorded in eight different cities, includes eight tracks, and features eight different album covers with an infinity sign and a depiction of one of those eight cities. The album brings forth memories of the classic rock days when bands like Led Zeppelin used to release eight-song albums that lasted well over 40 minutes, which may hint at the possible sound and influence the band is going for with their latest effort. Following Wasting Light, one of the band’s most consistent records to date, expectations are high for Sonic Highways. The band will also be premiering an HBO series and lead single on October 17.

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Xtra Mile Releases 42 Track Compilation Album Featuring Both Signed and Unsigned Artists

by Cherie


The thing I love best about Xtra Mile is the sense of community.

The bands on the label not only are familiar with each other’s work, but they are often friends or at least fans of each other. They collaborate together, go on tour together, and promote each other’s work. It’s an inspiring thing to see. I’ve always been passionate about music and writing, but my favorite way to express the things I love is through collaboration. There’s something special about creating something with another person; there’s a bond that forms between them that strengthens whatever foundation they might have had before. I founded this blog with that sense of community and collaboration in mind, and I’m always excited (and sometimes in awe) of what comes out of it. A record label that is founded on the same principles is something that I am proud to support.

When it came to the latest XtraMile Recordings compilation, the record label did something a little different. The album contains a grand total of 42 tracks. Side A features tracks from XtraMile artists, and side B contains tracks from unsigned artists that were chosen by XtraMile artists (and one track that was chosen by the Street Team!).


Some of the bands chose bands that they were fans of themselves. Others kept it in the family (literally). Beans on Toast picked Little Rob and the Mob because Robyn is a gifted young songwriter and musician – and she also happens to be his niece. Still others picked bands that had collaborated with in the past. You can read the article on how each of the unsigned tracks was chose over on the XtraMile website.

But regardless of how each track was chosen, there’s one trend that winds through each of the write ups from various artists. Excitement. Pride. Passion.

I already love the tracks that were chosen to feature on Side A from established artists, and I look forward to exploring Side B and discovering new bands. The album is just $8.99 – which averages about to be less than $.25 a song. With a deal like that you have no excuse not to buy a copy.

Xtra Mile High Club: Vol 5: Smokin’ is available now through Xtra Mile or through iTunes.

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Forest Hills Stadium Works Out 2013 Kinks For Brand New/Modest Mouse Show

By Vasilis       

When Mumford & Sons played the first show in over 20 years at the legendary Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens NY (the venue previously hosted the U.S. Open tennis tournament until 1978), it was understandable that the venue would had some problems. While the band’s performance was top notch, some of the bigger issues, including the unbearably long wait time to exit the venue and people with a ticket being refused entry, were so bad that it made the local and national news. With a number of hot-ticketed events scheduled for the summer of 2014 (including The Replacements and a Lil Wayne/Drake co-headlining show), all eyes returned to Forest Hills to see how the venue’s staff would handle these complaints in order to create a better experience this time around.


When Brand New, one of my all-time favorite bands, was announced to perform a co-headliner with indie rock giants Modest Mouse, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the show that would be taking place less than 15 minutes from my home. The show eventually sold out, bringing up questions about whether the venue had once again oversold the show and about how this would affect the overall experience and the ease of getting in and out. Luckily, after arriving at the venue early in order to ensure less problems, there was a considerably higher number of police and event staff in the surrounding streets (already more reassuring than the previous year). Additionally, parking was far easier to find in the surrounding area than had seemed possible after reading the pre-show announcements and lines to enter were shorter. And probably the greatest change the arena made was sectioning off seats so as not to create an “every man/woman for themselves” scenario of procuring a seat or standing room spot in GA. GA tickets were sold and guaranteed to the ticket holder, as were individual seats, and benches were added in place of sitting on the hard, uncomfortable concrete (although I was lucky enough to get a standing room spot on the floor, I was happy for that change for all the people sitting down, as those concrete seats were not comfortable at all.)

            Brand New promptly took the stage at the unusually-early time of 6:30 under a partly cloudy but still bright sky. Frontman and local Long Island fan-favorite Jesse Lacey greeted the sold-out crowd of over 15,000 quickly with “Hello New York” before diving into the aggressive “Sink” off their latest EP Daisy. As Brand New has become accustomed to doing, they sectioned their setlist off by album, beginning with Daisy before moving into Deja Entendu and Your Favorite Weapon and ending with a heavy dose off The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. The band, which have been known at times to not sound their best in larger venues or outdoor arenas were on-point in front of their hometown crowd, who received them warmly from the get-go. Even tracks off Daisy, which has received a lukewarm-at-best reception from critics and fans, got the crowd moving, as a mosh pit opened up during the slow 6-minute epic ”You Stole”.


The usually secretive band opened up to the crowd moreso than they usually do, as Jesse proclaimed, “I get used to telling people that it feels good to feel like you’re at home, but it feels even better to feel at home when you are home, so thank you so much.” Brand New, who have picked up their touring far more this year, seemed to be fully enjoying their 90 minute set and relishing in the crowd’s enthusiasm. The middle of the set inspired raucous participation from the adoring audience, especially on the band’s most beloved songs “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” and “Seventy Times Seven”, which got the crowd singing along to the song’s famous bridge. While Jesse’s vocals at times appeared strained, he didn’t let that stop him from unleashing his full range of emotions on the audience. Musically, the band was connecting on all levels even in the scorching summer heat. The band closed their set with the emotionally-draining “Degausser” and “You Won’t Know”, resulting in 10 minutes of cathartic chaos. The only downside was the band being forced to cut “Soco Amaretto Lime”, which appeared on printed versions of the setlist.


Headliner Modest Mouse took the stage half hour later as the sun finally finished setting and gave way to darkness. While small sections of the crowd emptied out after Brand New, a majority of the audience stuck around for the Washington band. Though I have never been a big Modest Mouse fan, I was impressed by their energy and their stage presence. Having only listened to a few songs (which I could not identify with), I found their live sound much more enjoyable than their recorded music and found Isaac Brock to be very funny and forthcoming with his adoring crowd. The group went nuts and warmly received the band, who even broke their reputation for skipping their most famous song and played “Float On” in the encore.



            Overall, the venue fixed many of the biggest problems from their lone 2013 concert and gave the crowd of over 15,000 tri-state area folks a memorable experience. While ATM and food lines remained long, the entry and exit was far easier and security and personnel were far more helpful this time around. With only three concerts held at Forest Hills Stadium in over 20 years, the venue could have done far worse, and with three more shows planned through September, things look to be improving rapidly. Fans heading to Forest Hills for any of those shows should be ready for a fun time.



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Derek Archambault: New EP for Hip Replacement

Most music/band Kickstarters are bullshit – Eisley shouldn’t be asking their fans to fund their tour outside of ticket sales and merch, and no one should be giving Amanda Palmer that much money in any scenario. Lucky for me, Derek Archambault is using PledgeMusic for a good cause. Derek had an injury a few years ago and that injury has resulted in osteonecrosis of the hip. For those of you about to search on Wikipedia, let me save you from seeing what is probably not that great of a picture – basically, Derek’s hip could break very easily with too much stress. This is made worse by his insurance deciding not to cover his surgery. This means Derek’s not too mobile and needs a cane to get around in his early 30’s. That sucks.

The past two summers I was out on the Vans Warped Tour. Defeater, one of two bands Derek is in, was out for three weeks of the tour, in roughly 5 different vehicles due to shit luck and nearly that many tents, because nature is kind of a dick sometimes. I’d watch Derek give his all on stage for half an hour, and then another half an hour when he’d perform acoustic as his side project, Alcoa. Jumping around on stage for half an hour is tough. Jumping around on stage for half an hour and then needing your cane more than ever to get around is tougher. No one wants to see their friends suffer.

Derek is running a PledgeMusic campaign that ends in a week. No matter what option you choose on the page, you get the five song “Thank You” EP, with a re-done Defeater song (a Tumblr anthem), and covers of Blacklisted (Philly hardcore dudes), Make Do And Mend (local youths), Elder Brother (The Story So Far + some ding-dong that lives on the Cape), and I Am The Avalanche (Vinnie from The Movielife (some of you will know this band, some will not.)).

Derek needs a new hip. You could use some new music. Or a t-shirt (with an exclusive colorway for this campaign). Or a handwritten postcard. Or an excuse to not dump ice water on yourself. Or in addition to ice water. I’m not going to shut up until my friend has a new hip, and I ain’t no forgiver/forgetter.

Sean R McColgan

If you are able to contribute please head over to Derek’s pledge music page to donate as well as to read a personal letter from Derek himself. There are only seven days left in the project and every single donation helps. Let’s help Derek continue to do what he loves. Thank you – Cherie

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Album Review // Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – “We Don’t Have Each Other”

by Vasilis



On what is probably my tenth listen to We Don’t Have Each Other in the weeks since it was first streamed by Hopeless Records, I couldn’t help but feel immense sympathy for Aaron West unlike any I have felt for even some of my closest friends. Having lost his father, a child, and experiencing a bitter divorce, Aaron is having a year that would cripple most of us, but he has turned to singing about his sorrows to ease his pain; it’s enough to make the listener want to give him a hug. More incredible still is the fact that Aaron West is a fictional character, a figment of The Wonder Years vocalist/songwriter Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s very vivid imagination.

Dan embarked on a unique project for his debut solo record. Known for his very personal lyrics and emotionally-charged vocals, the pop punk frontman and fan favorite decided on an Americana-influenced, folk-punk record focusing on the worst year in the life of the fictitious Aaron West. Though an acoustic-heavy solo record is certainly not unheard of in the punk community, We Don’t Have Each Other feels fresh, a triumphant look into the struggles and emotions in the world of a completely imagined character as real as the songs he has sung about his own life. Using the project to expand on his lyrical repertoire, Dan’s research into the character (much like how a novelist would dive into the world of his fictional subjects) pays dividends and helps the listener experience a deep, personal connection to Aaron.

Opening with the soft hum of a finger-picked acoustic guitar, Aaron wastes no time getting to the heart of his sorrow: the divorce from his wife Diane. The song flows flawlessly from the dreams of their Brooklyn apartment to the realizing that his wife’s sister is telling him Diane is leaving. The subtle details, like finding his wife’s hairpins around the apartment to the emptiness of the bed (“I can’t stand my bed without you”) are striking and show the lengths Dan went to make this world as concrete as possible. The details compliment the narrative throughout the album, from the grapefruit color they painted their child’s walls in “Grapefruit” to watching Buffalo Bills games with his late father in “You Ain’t No Saint” to the homeless man comforting him in “The Thunderbird Inn”, every step of the journey is elucidated.


Musically, the album explores several styles. The band consists of eight total members according to Dan, including a full horn section, bass, guitar, and drums. Produced by The Early November’s Ace Enders, his keen ear is on full display; he helps Dan craft each song to reach its full potential with precise placement of every instrument, from banjos to horns to harmonica. Dan showcases an impeccable knack for capturing Aaron’s mood with the varying styles on each song while keeping the sound cohesive as it follows the story. The middle of this album especially shines. “Running Scared” is upbeat and celebratory, finding Aaron on the run from his problems to the comforting warmth of the south. The chorus features a soaring hook with an indie rock flare on top of pounding drums. “Divorce and the American South” returns to a mellow acoustic vibe, with Dan addressing his inability to find happiness in the south to an ex-wife who isn’t listening. “The Thunderbird Inn” combines the soft with the loud, opening with acoustic strumming that builds to a raucous chorus with Aaron lamenting “Didn’t know that I looked that pathetic.”

As is typical with Dan’s work, he saves the best for last with the hopeful closer “Carolina Coast”. The song is poetic and heart-wrenching, but laying deep in the crevices of his misery is a glimmer of hope found on the horizon of the Carolina coast that he is now staring out on. Aaron’s long trip to the south to find comfort and escape his sadness is unsuccessful, as he is still swallowed by his sorrow. The bluesy backing guitar riff beautifully compliments the acoustic guitar, and the harmonica gives the song a campfire feel to it. Aaron closes the album out with the realization that “I’m not coming home tonight without/Diane by my side, no.” In a strange yet appropriate choice, the album ends with an acoustic cover of “Going to Georgia” by The Mountain Goats. The song was not written for the album but fits eerily well into the overall themes of travelling south and returning home to a loved one.

There is no telling what the future holds for Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties. This could be a single record or could become a biography of an imagined person that comes to life. Whatever Dan decides to do, the listener can be sure he will put his full effort into it. While he has made it clear The Wonder Years remain his top priority, an outlet like this can only serve to bring out the best in his writing and inspire him even further. We Don’t Have Each Other is both a great record to hold fans over but also an album that stands strongly on its own, crafted with beautiful guitar work, excellent production from Ace Enders, and the lyrical excellence we’ve come to expect from Dan Campbell. I just hope Aaron West finds the peace he’s looking for.




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The Best from the First Half of 2014

by Vasilis

It seems like just yesterday that we were ringing in the New Year, and yet the calendar has already found July. With the year already half-over, it’s that time to look back at some of the best the music world has had to offer us, and there sure has been a lot of great albums. There are still a number of promising albums anticipated for the months between July and December, but it’s going to be tough to live up to the incredible first half of music we had in 2014.

As always, this list is completely subjective, so you may not like the albums I’ve picked and may not even know who they are. Additionally, there are plenty of great albums that were released outside of the genres I normally listen to, but this list will be fairly contained within my personal favorite genres and artists. Still, I stand by every one of these pieces of music being important and worth your time and attention. So without further delay, I bring you my 10 favorite albums from 2014 (so far).

10) Tigers Jaw – Charmer


The band’s newest full-length was originally supposed to be their last after their supposed break-up last year, but the indie-emo favorites are not done yet. After such a solid and complete work, that’s good news.

09) Manchester Orchestra – COPE


            Open the windows up and crank the volume up to eleven on COPE, Manchester Orchestra’s awaited follow-up to Simple Math. Focusing primarily on guitar, this album features some great lyrics and aggressive songs from “Top Notch” straight through the closer, Cope.

08) Say Anything – Hebrews

say anything

            A rock album with no guitars may not sound enticing to many, but the always-inventive Max Bemis makes it work on the unapologetic, insanely brass Hebrews. Max invites his friends and fellow musicians to sing along on this album, which takes risks and features some of the band’s most aggressive and inventive work, as is evident on songs like “Hebrews” and “Kall Me Kubrick”.

07) You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing

you blew it

            You Blew It! put together one of the best emo albums of the year so far by enlisting the help of Evan Weiss (The Progress, Into It. Over It., Their/They’re/There, Pet Symmetry) as producer. It does wonders, as the sound and vocals are noticeably is crisper and less muddled than on their debut. Songs like “Award of the Year Award” and “Better to Best” are catchy and fun while remaining emotionally heavy and relatable.

06) Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All

modern baseball

You’re Gonna Miss It All is the fun, care-free college-aged emo you grew up with. The band waxes poetic about iPhones and Instagram accounts but still find time to get serious when necessary and think about the future. It’s an entertaining album about growing up from a young band that still has a lot of growing up to do.

05) Fireworks – Oh, Common Life


Fireworks remain one of the most creative and talented bands in the pop punk scene which is often oversaturated with mediocrity and bands mimicking one another. Oh, Common Lifeis the latest addition to a solid discography and builds on their best album Gospel. Dealing primarily with the death of vocalist Dave Mackinder’s father, the album is a dark look at everyday life built with solid instrumentation and heartfelt lyrics.

04) Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues


Transgender Dysphoria Blueswill not go down as the best album of the year, but it certainly will go down as one of the most important. It’s open and honest in a way we’ve never seen about being transgender, a topic so few know about. Laura Jane Grace’s personal experiences throughout her life build a solid foundation, and the music and lyrics are urgent and in-your face. This album shows the band still has a lot left in the tank and serves as one of the best of their career.

03) I Am the Avalanche – Wolverines


It was great to only have to wait two and a half year for a new I Am the Avalanche album as opposed to the six-year wait for their sophomore album. Wolverineshas a sharp bite to it, as Vinnie Caruana’s screams are as harsh as ever. The album focuses on what the band does best: blue color punk/hardcore with relatable lyrics and that classic New York style to it. Songs like “177” and “Anna Lee” are some of the best in the band’s catalog.

02) Bayside – CULT


“Bayside is a Cult” has been the rallying cry for as long as the band has had their well-established fanbase. On CULT, the band’s sixth studio album, the group draws influences from their whole catalog to create a complete work with a little bit of everything that makes Bayside great. Just another solid release for the boys from Queens, New York.


01)  The Menzingers – Rented World 


            The task of following up an album as impressive and acclaimed as On the Impossible Task is no easy feat, but Philadelphia punk band The Menzingers succeed in proving they’re up to the task with Rented World. Though not as memorable, it improves upon the sound they crafted on the last release and continues their knack for punchy tunes and relatable songwriting. “In Remission” and “Rodent” are two of the best songs I’ve heard so far this year.

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