Category Archives: musical roundup

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

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#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

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#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

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#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

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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

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#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

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Glitterbug – The Wombats

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

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Anthems for Doomed Youth – The Libertines

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

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Marks to Prove It – The Maccabees

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

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Down on Deptford Broadway – Skinny Lister

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

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Wanted on Voyage – George Ezra

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

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Postcards From Ursa Minor – Will Varley

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

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Badlands – Halsey

Favorite Tracks: New Americana, Colours, Castle, Ghost

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Woman to Woman – Esme Patterson

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

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Froot – Marina and the Diamonds

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

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All Your Favorite Bands – Dawes

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

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Whispers II – Passenger

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

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Rolling Up the Hill – Beans on Toast

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

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Back on Top – The Front Bottoms

Favorite Tracks: Cough it Out, West Virginia, Help

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To Us, The Beautiful – Franz Nicolay

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

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Graceland – San Cisco

Favorite Tracks: Run, Snow, Bitter Winter

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July Roundup

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Before the Waves – Magic Man

Magic Man are a synth rock driven band hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. With the release of their first EP, You Are Here, they immediately made a splash in the local music scene. The success of that has lead to tours with Walk the Moon and Panic at the Disco, as well as appearances at many music festivals. They released their first full length album, Before The Waves, in July 2014 and while it is a solid album overall. I personally found it to be something of a disappointment. Many of the songs fail to stand out from the rest of the album, and several of the ones that do (“Paris”, “Texas” and “Waves”) were songs that the band had already released on the You Are Here EP. With that said, they put on an enthusiastic dance driven live performance, and their songs are sure to get you tapping your toes, if not dancing along completely. They are definitely a band to watch in the future. I’d probably recommend You Are Here before I’d recommend this album, though – reviewed by Cherie

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The Black Market – Rise Against

If you’re listening to Rise Against in 2014, you probably know what to expect. The melodic hardcore giants have made a living out of being social awareness and political outspokenness executed with fist-pumping melodies and shouted lyrics. So it’s unexpected to hear frontman Tim McIlrath acknowledge The Black Market, the band’s seventh album, will be more introspective, examining their place in society instead of focusing on the outside. In lead single “I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore”, the band addresses feeling trapped in a terrible situation from which escape seems impossible. “The Eco-Terrorist In Me” is a blast from the past, a song plucked right out of the 1990’s punk underground with punishing drums, lightning-quick guitars and Tim’s trademark screams that question, “When it all comes down, will you say you did everything you could/when it all comes down, can you say that you never gave up?” The song examines what he could have done to fix problems, rather than waiting around for someone else. Musically, there isn’t a lot of new stuff here; there are thunderous drums and Joe Principe’s swift, precise bass lines (one of the band’s strongest elements). Tim’s voice shows a little wear and tear but still delivers a packed punch. The Black Market hits the mark following the weak, overly idealistic Endgame, which felt stale and out of place in the group’s strong discography. Their latest effort is nothing new but instead a welcome return to a working formula – reviewed by Vasilis

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Chroma – Eugene McGuinness

It’s a shame when you can’t latch onto an album. They’re many factors that come into play when that happens, the key one being the artists past work, and this definitely seems to be the case with British singer/songwriter Eugene McGuinness. It’s not that his latest album, Chroma, is a bad piece of work, it’s just that it lacks the sheen polish that signified McGuinness as a true stand out. Some would argue that that sounds like a backhanded thing to say but what made Eugene McGuinness’s last album, Invitation To The Voyage, standout was that he literally turned style INTO substance. His character elevated those songs into being sexy juggernauts that are drenched with subtleties. Chroma has moments of genius (“She Paints Houses” and “The Crueler Kind” are both signifiers of McGuinnesses wit and charm being indeed intact) but at the end of the day it feels more of a whimper than a night out on the town. When you listen to it you definitely get the sense that it’s all deliberate but sadly it still feels as though something is missing rather then it being new ground explored – reviewed by Ken

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Elysium – Bear’s Den

I’ve always loved that this band can pack such an emotional punch despite just consisting of three members. Once again the band delivers a powerful collection of songs, most notably the title track “Elysium.” “Elysium” is a song about growing up and losing our innocence. It’s about love and family and wanting to protect the people we love. As we grow up and get older it’s easy to become jaded when things don’t turn out the way we had expected. The narrator of the song has some advice for their brother, “don’t let bitterness become you / your only hopes are within you / just hold out against the night / and guard your hope with your life.” Like all Bear’s Den tracks the song builds in intensity and it’s easy to close your eyes and lose yourself in them music. The EP also contains three live tracks, all of which have been previously released by the band. The live harmonies will blow you away, they sound even better live than they do in the studio recordings if that’s possible. And it’s touching to hear the crowd take over the chorus on the song “Isaac”. The band is set to release their debut album this fall and I can’t think of another release that I am looking forward to more – reviewed by Cherie

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Never Hungover Again –Joyce Manor

When listening to Joyce Manor, I’m reminded of the scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World where Scott Pilgrim’s roommate Wallace, upon listening to a band’s 2-second song at the Battle of the Bands, loudly heckles, “It’s not a race!” Joyce Manor have made a habit of writing short albums full of short songs, many of which don’t even reach the 2-minute mark. Yet somehow, the band is able to pack quite an emotional punch in each mini-adventure and leave the listener fulfilled while craving more (a difficult sweet spot to hit for bands with the repertoire Joyce Manor has).Never Hungover Again, the band’s third studio album, clocks in at an even 19 minutes and only 10 songs, but each one is memorable and the band’s best work to date. The album is cathartic in all the right ways and fun in all the right places, jumping back and forth lyrically and musically between poignant, hard-hitting emo and jubilant, upbeat pop punk with unabashed enthusiasm and passion. From the thick bass line on “Falling In Love Again” to the swift crunchy guitars on “Victoria”, the album is energetic and showcases stronger, clearer vocals from Barry Johnson. At under 20 minutes, Never Hungover Again is perfect for when you want a quick and fun album to listen to – reviewed by Vasilis

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Strange Desire –Bleachers

Bleacher’s, the new project from Jack Antonoff, has Antonoff combining various musical styles into a new hybrid sound. Fans of Antonoff’s previous band will be thrilled to hear hints of Steel Train in tracks such as “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster”, There’s also an element of fun to the songs as well – the album has more synth and electronic beats than Antonoff’s previous work. But the thread that runs through the album and connects it firmly back to his previous work is the lyrical content. He might have sold millions of records with his Grammy Award winning band fun, but at heart Antonoff is still the same person who wrote “Bullet” and “Behavior.” The themes are still the same even if the melody has changed. It’s a fascinating new sound from Antonoff and it simply confirms his status as one of the best musicians of his generation, both lyrically and instrumentally – reviewed by Cherie

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We Don’t Have Each Other – Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties

We Don’t Have Each Other, the debut album from Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties (the moniker of The Wonder Years vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell) is a conventional story told in a somewhat unconventional way. Dan has frequently written about sadness, self-discovery, and growing pains, but through the lens of his own experiences. On this album, he creates Aaron West, a fictional character who feels very real. Aaron takes us through the worst year of his life, as he is experiencing with a painful divorce. The album allows Dan to explore a more Americana folk sound (with influences ranging from Frank Turner to The Mountain Goats) and lets his creativity run wild. From the introspective “The Thunderbird Inn” to the heart-wrenching “Divorce and the American South”, Dan’s lyrical abilities flourish and the music, aided with the help of Ace Enders’ stellar production and some brilliant instrumentation from drummer Mike Kennedy and the horns section, creates a memorable experience that will fit in with his other work and nicely compliment his already impressive catalog of well thought-out albums – reviewed by Vasilis

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June Roundup

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48: 13 – Kasabian (reviewed by Ken)

It’s certainly not the album that we expected it to be, but that doesn’t for a second mean that Kasabian’s latest release, 48:13, is far from enjoyable. An over-hyped album? Yes, though that’s nothing new for the Leicester rockers. Tracks such as “Stevie and Treat” do feel familiar but still extensively clever in their own unique way. The weirdest moments come from “Bumblebee”, the heaviest song the band has ever produced. Whenever it’s about to go into the chorus you can almost feel the adrenaline surging through singer Tom Meighan, causing him to go into the bombastic chorus as though he literally jumped into it. Tracks such as “Treat and Exploded” are nestled in the middle of the album and do a fantastic job of showcasing the bands extensive range of hip-hop, electronica, and vibrancy. What makes 48:13 stand out above past Kasabian works is that you can tell that the band are fully aware this is an album that won’t win them any new fans but it’s still an album where they can celebrate who they are, and boy is 48:13 the prime example of a celebration.

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Forever For Now – LP (reviewed by Cherie)

When you hear the list of musicians that Laura Pergolizzi has written songs for – a list that includes pop superstars such as Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, and Cher – you might expect her personal style to conform to the confines of pop music. While it’s true that her music is catchy, it’s much more dynamic and explorative than most of her contemporaries and can’t be pinned down quite so easily. Forever For Now is LPs third studio album, and it’s bold and uplifting and unlike anything else that’s been released so far this year. It’s a breath of fresh air in an industry that sees so many bands conform to the expected aesthetic, afraid to break from the mold if it means losing fans or revenue. LP manages to create a sound that is uniquely her own with her whistling melodies and catchy ukulele driven tracks. Soaring vocals that are slightly imperfect further add charm to the album. LP makes the kind of music that empowers you and makes you want to stand on the edge of a cliff and scream along to the lyrics. Many of the tracks, most notable “Night Like This” and “Into the Wild”, will have you stomping and humming along before you even know the words. Releasing this record in June was a brilliant plan because it’s the perfect summer album.

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Hebrews – Say Anything (reviewed by Vasilis)

Nobody could ever accuse Say Anything singer/songwriter Max Bemis of holding anything back in his songs, but on Hebrews, he is even more candid and scathing than usual. The band’s sixth studio LP is their most passionate and creative work in some time, foregoing the use of any guitar and instead recording strictly with drums, strings, keys, and synth in its place. Not every decision Max makes on the album works, but the risks and unapologetic bravado help the album succeed. The album is strange, from the hushed lullaby-style of opener “John MacClane” to the epic “Kall Me Kubrick” (equipped with a bridge that involves Max shouting the world “swastika”), the album will leave a lasting impression on you, one way or the other. Featuring sixteen guest vocal spots from beloved singers ranging from Blink-182 to Los Campensinos!, this album has something for everyone. Check out our full review of Hebrews here.

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The Hunting Party – Linkin Park (reviewed by Cherie)

I wanted to like this album, I really did. Linkin Park has been one of my favorite bands since I first started listening to music. They’ve done a lot of groundbreaking things in their day and I feel like I’ve grown up with them. But they started to lose me a couple of years ago when A Thousand Suns first came out and that trend of being disappointed with each new album has continued with The Hunting Party. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent enough album. But the band has lot its edge. They sound like they’ve lost their anger and their intensity –the very things that they made a name for themselves with. The new music is polished but emotionless. Even a slew of guest vocalists can’t save this album from mediocrity. If I’d never heard Hybrid Theory or Reanimation or Minutes to Midnight maybe I’d like this album. But it’s uncreative and uninspiring when compared to their early work. Fans who like the bands newer stuff will probably like The Hunting Party, but old fans will likely find it to be a letdown.

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Rose (EP) -Front Bottoms (reviewed by Vasilis)

I will never complain about new music from The Front Bottoms. Coming in the form of a six-song EP, Rose (named after drummer Matt Uychich’s grandmother) is the latest installment from the undeniably fun indie-folk-punk New Jersey band. The album finds them further expanding upon their infectious, dancy acoustic guitar heavy indie sound that they have thrived with in their self-titled debut and on Talon of the Hawk. The band opens the EP with a reworked and rerecorded version of “Flying Model Rockets” (originally on My Grandma vs. Pneumonia) and it’s immediately improved thanks to improved vocals and production which help the instrumentation sound clearer. The EP captures the band at their catchiest (“Be Nice to Me”), sincere (“Twelve Feet Deep”) and funny (“Awkward Conversation”). The lyrics hold nothing back and let you into Brian Sella’s life with no filter on the most awkward and embarrassing moments. The band continues to grow at a rapid pace and, with music like this, there’s no reason to think they’re done.

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Whispers – Passenger (reviewed by Cherie)

Some might say that Michael David Rosenburg has hopped on the Mumford & Sons’ coattails and joined the folk revival so any success he gains stems from that. But the only similarity between the two bands is that they have both been lumped under the same vague umbrella of indie folk. Passenger is acoustic based folk music, but the songs are anything but simple. Each song on Whispers has a distinct sound. “Golden Leaves” has a very melancholic feel that is accentuated by accompanying strings. The track “Thunder” enforces its harsh sound with heavy drums and horns to give it a tropical vibe. The album is very reflective in tone, and Rosenburg pulls no punches. The album reflects on love and relationships without idealizing them. “You know those love songs break your heart,” he sings on one track. It would be easy at first to dismiss this album as nothing special, but if you listen closely it’s expertly crafted. Each song tells its own story and has its own sound but it all feeds into the overall story. Rosenburg isn’t an absent narrator in this story though, he is very much present. In the track “27” he laments all the things that he has done and all the time he’s wasted. That song also offers us the best glimpse at his character as well when he sings: “Only thing I know, the only thing I get told / I gotta sell out if I wanna get sold / don’t want the devil taking my soul / I write songs that come from the heart / I don’t give a fuck if they get into the chart or not.”

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April 2014 Roundup

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Apache Relay – The Apache Relay (reviewed by Cherie)

Not content to be written off as “just another Mumford inspired band”, indie folk/rock band The Apache Relay have managed to completely reinvent their sound for their second, self-titled, album. From the first track of the album, Katie Queen of Tennessee it’s clear that this album has a much different sound then their largely folk inspired debut album, American Nomad. The band plays around with various melodies, layering them to create a lush sound that will draw the listener in completely. The songs are fuller, more mature, and the band seems to have solidified a sound that is uniquely their own. Its a clear evolution in sound for the band, both lyrically and melodically. Fans of the bands older work will be delighted to find that the band retains, at its core, the same heart and soul of American Nomad. The track “Don’t Leave Me Now” in particular sounds like it could have almost been lifted off the bands first album, but it has found a home on the second album instead and helps to serve as a bridge between the two albums. This is a must listen for anyone who is interested in indie rock music, especially for fans of nu-folk.

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Cope – Manchester Orchestra (reviewed by Vasilis)

Manchester Orchestra announcing that their fourth studio album COPE would be released on April 1st seemed like a cruel “April Fool’s” joke. Luckily, this was no act of deception and the group finally released their long-awaited album. While it doesn’t quite surpass the band’s first two albums, it is a significant improvement over Simple Math which, while enjoyable in its own right, is regarded by many as the band’s weakest full-length effort. The band cranks up the volume to 11 on COPE, as the album ditches a lot of the slower, glossier indie-influenced tracks in favor of straight-forward, Southern-friend hard rocking tunes. The band follows a similar formula throughout of hushed verses carried by Andy Hull’s classic crooning vocals before building up to head-banging choruses with the distortion turned all the way up and the guitars blaring. Manchester Orchestra debuted “Top Ocean” and “Cope”, two of the album’s best tracks, on their short headliner in November to the delight of fans, and the tunes fit right in with their impressive live set and instantly won the crowds over. While the first half of the album is certainly great, if not slightly monotonous at times, the second half of the album is where the band really shines and includes some of their best work to date, including the brilliant “Indentions” and the raucous closer “Cope”. COPE is a welcome addition to the Manchester Orchestra catalog and a must-listen for anyone who enjoys music with driving, forceful guitars. – Vasilis

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Imaginary Enemy – The Used (reviewed by Kevin)

Imaginary Enemy is The Used’s sixth album and clocks in at about 54 minutes. It comes across as a blatant political album on some songs such as “Revolution,” “El-Oh-Vee-Ee,” (you guessed it, the spelling of LOVE…), “A Song to Stifle Imperial Progression”, and “Force Without Violence” (Don’t even begin to get me started on the punk-rap that ends this song…)” but that passion seems to fizzle quickly on the later tracks. Regarding the political lyrics, little is left to the imagination: “Drill a hole and fuck the ground and spend the cash and print some more,” “You’ve got your black gold. You’ve got your pipeline. Capitalism. But we’ve got love.” I get it. You have love, and love concurs all, and “yay for love.” That’s great and all, but it’s been done before. The message portrayed in the lyrics is black and white where as the real situation is gray. I think the most prominent problem with the album is that it doesn’t seem to follow through on one particular aspect. It does everything in mediocrity, but nothing has truly succeeded. Some of the songs are legitimately catchy, but the lyrics don’t inspire or cause any sort of true feeling for the listener. The political statement comes across in many of the songs, but is done in an ignorant and unconvincing fashion (and completely left out in some songs). Overall, the album is a mildly interesting listen for fans of the band; it is about what you would expect from a political album from The Used. However, for everyone else, it’s an easily passable and forgettable album.

ImageRented World – The Menzingers (reviewed by Vasilis)

I said all I could say about the new Menzingers album Rented World in my review. The album is a punk tour-de-force that builds off the band’s stellar album On the Impossible Past. I hesitate to call their latest album a “grower” because the term often carries the negative connotation of not being good and requiring time to sink in. However, this album does get significantly better with every listen, which does constitute it as a “grower”. The production as well as the band’s songwriting continues to improve on every album. The vocals sound crisper and the music more refined but still raw and emotional. Songs like “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”, “In Remission”, and “Rodent” are just two of the tracks that are sure to become fan favorites and staples in the band’s setlists for years to come. Rented World is another album that proves that The Menzingers should be talked about as one of the active best punk bands.

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September Musical Roundup

by Cherie, blog founder

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Frank Turner

What can I say. Frank Turner is flawless. I’ve had his latest album, Tape Deck Heart, on repeat for a while now and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easily my favorite album of his to date. If you like alternative, indie-folk/rock music, then give Frank a listen. Seriously, he has a song for every mood. His catalog is immense (5 LPs, 4 Eps, and 3 Compilation albums), and he is a fantastic story teller.

Arctic Monkeys

I’m only six years too late, I know, but I only recently started listening to British rock band the Arctic Monkeys. Their latest album, AM, has very few weak tracks on it; nearly every song is a potential single. It’s darker then some of their previous work, but there’s something empowering about it as well. The other album I’m really into right now is their first, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. It’s straight up rock and it’s apologetically British. From their very first album the Monkeys have never tried to change who they are and where they come from, and you have to respect them for it.

Vampire Weekend

With the release of their latest album, Modern Vampires of the City, I found myself also revisiting their older work as well. It’s a toss up between which album is my favorite, MVOTC or Contra, but the whole trilogy is awesome. Vampire Weekend truly are in a category of their own, and I look forward to what they do next. I could listen to Ezra’s vocals for days. In fact I may have done just that.

Ben Marwood

Although Ben is one of my newer musical discoveries, he’s actually been around for a while. He’s signed to the same label as Frank Turner, and in fact toured with him in the US last summer. If you ask Ben what kind of music he makes, he’ll probably describe it as “angry folk for enthusiastic people.” It might be angry folk music but it certainly is catchy. If you are reading this and you haven’t given him a listen, his music is available for free to stream on spotify. There’s no excuse to not give him a listen.

Ben Howard

Ben Howard also makes indie folk music, but he’s considerably less angry then Frank Turner or Ben Marwood. His album, Every Kingdom, is a masterpiece. It’s dark at times and uplifting at others. I read somewhere once that a lot of the guitar tracks on the album were recorded live and that any mistakes and imperfections were left in the final cut. I really like that idea: embracing imperfections instead of trying to gloss them over. Each track on the album takes the listener through an emotional journey of its own. If you’re looking for something uplifting check out “Keep Your Head Up” or “Old Pine.” If you’re looking for something a little darker try “Burgh Island” or “Black Flies.”

Bear’s Den

I already wrote up a short article on the band after seeing them play in New York, and have been listening to them ever since. They’ve only got one EP for sale in the US so far (Agape), though a second one is available elsewhere and a third is due to be released soon. For just a three piece band (drums, guitar, and banjo being the primary instruments) the band manages to produce a full sound and packs an emotional punch. My favorite track, “Pompeii” is a track off of their self-titled EP and you can easily find it on youtube. There also is a live version from the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover shows they played this summer that you can watch here.

Laura Marling

I don’t think I can say this enough. Laura’s latest album is flawless. Truly a musical masterpiece. You can read my previous post on the album here. Sometimes I forget that Marling is the same age as me, which makes all that she’s accomplished in her short career that much more impressive. From what I hear through the grapevine, Marling is continuing to debut new song after new song on the road, so it seems like we won’t be hearing the last of her anytime soon.

Marina and the Diamonds

Mariana is my go-to music when I want something fun to blast at full volume when I’m stuck in traffic driving home from work. Sure I might get some weird looks from other drivers when I’m dancing in my seat to “Primadonna” or “Oh No!” but I regret nothing. If you haven’t listened to Marina her first album, The Family Jewels, is in my opinion, her best work yet; though I do love Electra Heart as well. She’s got a fantastic range, and her music is definitely unique. 

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