What is a politically-charged punk rock band to do as the world crumbles around them? Fight back. Anti-Flag have made their most immediate record in quite some time on 20/20 Vision, one directly has the POTUS in mind with of all of the fist-pumping anthems to be found here. On their 12th studio album, the band has little left to prove, yet they continue to deliver some of the most consistently excellent punk rock found in music.
Opening up with the current single “Hate Conquers All,” one that intersperses Trump-dialogue about protesters, Anti-Flag waste little time getting down to the business at hand. With lyrics such as, “Hate conquers all / In the ashes of the fall / With our backs against the wall / Watch the empire fall / Watch the nation dissolve,” the band makes it crystal clear of the urgency of the political situation going on in DC. The song feels like a call to arms for people to wake the fuck up on all of the terror taking place in our very own country.
After what seemed like a more extended than usual three-year hiatus, Bombay Bicycle Club have made their triumphant return with their fifth studio album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong. Many of the band members dabbled in solo projects during this hiatus, but the band seem as refreshed and re-focused as ever on their latest offering. In a recent statement, the group confirmed this newfound enthusiasm by saying, “More than anything it just felt great to be in the same room playing again. It made us realize what a good thing we have and has given us renewed energy and enthusiasm for the future.” Longtime fans of the band have plenty of reason to be equally excited for the latest chapter in their discography, as the record encapsulates everything the band does well, while still including plenty of new surprises along the way.
2019 was a year that gave us outstanding debut records, tremendous follow-ups from several established bands, as well as some surprise albums that I never would have thought to make my list at the beginning of the year. My list and listening taste are as eclectic as it’s ever been and I’m perfectly happy with that. Here are 30 albums I felt are worthy of your attention and ears delight.
This past week I had the chance to chat with Aaron Gillespie of The Almost. During our conversation, the topics ranged from discussing his new album, Fear Caller, the lessons he’s learned growing up with his bandmates in Underoath, and gaining some perspective on what makes him such a brilliant musician and songwriter.
On their eighth studio album, Coldplay have made a record that embraces the past while still keeping most of its heart in the present. The double album entitled Everyday Life is broken into two chapters, in “Sunrise” and “Sunset,” and paints a picture of a band with plenty of tricks still up their sleeves. Every detail of this album seems carefully crafted, right down to the artwork mirrored on both the top and bottom. Chris Martin and his bandmates could have made a record in the same vein of their last effort, A Head Full of Dreams, but that’s simply not in Coldplay’s DNA to be complacent with what they have done before. Instead, we are left with 16 songs that sound simultaneously immediate, current, and creative.
On the new album from the South Jersey/Philadelphia band Out of Service, they do a great job of encapsulating the feelings of living with depression, getting help, and coming to terms with living with a mental illness. The wide range of emotions that a person can go through when they realize they aren’t “feeling right” can be both shocking and heartbreaking at the same time, and Out of Service realizes this is a process. In fact, as a person like me who struggles with depression from time to time, Burden spoke to me more than I thought it would from the very first listen.
This past week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jade of Oso Oso, before he played a supporting set at the Fillmore Silver Spring near Washington, DC. In this interview, I asked Jade about how much he follows what others say about his music, the recording process he went through during the Basking in the Glow sessions, and how he continues to find inspiration as an artist. Throughout our chat, I got a glimpse into what makes Jade such a talented songwriter, and found our conversation to be a hell of a lot of fun too.
Allen Stone has a lot to be thankful for as he celebrates the release of his new album, Building Balance: he was recently married, had his first child, and is still finding the time to deliver some more soulful tunes for his faithful fanbase. For those unfamiliar with the artist, he is an incredibly gifted vocalist and songwriter who cut his teeth to classic soul artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight. Stone has a lot going for him on this latest effort, as he finds a way to embrace the past artists who inspired him to sing as well as look forward in his career as he maps out his next move creatively.
For those unfamiliar of the band Mappe Of, you are in for a musical journey not easily found on a sophomore effort. On The Isle of Ailynn, singer/songwriter Tom Meikle is as captivating as anyone in the indie music scene right from the first notes of the record. Kicking off the set with the musical landscape of “Estuary,” it’s clear that Meikle is not afraid to take some calculated risks with his music. From falsetto vocals, to carefully plucked guitars, Mappe Of has a lot going for it on their second record.
Coming off the success of the multi-platinum, debut self-titled album, Third Eye Blind could have gone in several different directions. Would they crash and burn like many of their 90’s peers hitmakers that stormed onto the scene of the height of the music industry, or would they embrace the pressure and deliver a noteworthy record? Plenty has already been written about the drama and in-fighting that went on during the writing and production of their sophomore album, Blue. Yet, I’m going to focus on the music itself which by all points of merit is still pretty damn good even at 20 years of age. The album’s themes are filled with relatable concepts, ranging everywhere from teen pregnancy (“10 Days Late”), physical abuse (“Wounded”), to gushing feelings of love (“Deep Inside Of You”).
When Ra Ra Riot announced a headlining tour with several major cities and markets on their itinerary, I knew I had to reach out to set up an interview during their local stop to my market, in Washington, DC. I had always enjoyed the stylistics changes that the band had done from album to album, and the growth in lead singer Wes Miles could be heard easily when comparing their original sound, to what came out on their latest record Superbloom. The band graciously granted me an interview with bassist, Mat Santos, to discuss what went into the recording of the latest album as well as some insight on: the band’s formation, Wes’s vocal regimen, and the band’s plans for the future. The interview was conducted in the “green room” backstage at the 9:30 Club in DC, and I truly enjoyed the conversation that Mat and I had that evening.
On the new album from the pop-punk band, Rational Anthem, called It’s Only Permanent they fully embrace their shiny personalities and have created a collection of songs that are a hell of a lot of fun. Led by the sister/brother duo of Noelle and Pete Stolp, Rational Anthem initially reminded me of some early Fenix Tx records with a mix of the pop sensibilities of Allister. Their longtime friend, Christoper Hembrough, rounds out the band, and Rational Anthem has a lot going in their favor on their latest effort.
From the opening notes of Saves The Day’s now-legendary emo album, Through Being Cool, Chris Conley confidently sings, “This isn’t the way we planned / I wasn’t supposed to forget your taste,” and it’s almost as if Conley and his band knew they might be on to something extraordinary here. The irony behind an album about leaving the cool kids to their cliques, while sitting a few out much like the cover art depicts, is humorous now because Saves the Day became emo legends on this record. Those same kids who wouldn’t give Conley and crew the time of day back in high school, are probably the ones now asking them for autographs after a show. This album was recently overlooked by Kerrang! magazine on the 25 greatest emo albums ever, much to my chagrin.
Looking back at the numerous bands influenced by this band and this album, in particular, one can not merely brush this record off as just another emo album. Instead with heart-on-my-sleeve lyrics about their hometown on songs such as “You Vandal,” where Conley sings, “I woke up to my cold sheets and the smell of New Jersey / When do I get to wake up to you?” there was no stopping this band’s ascent into greatness.
Today I’m happy to share the latest single from Holy Pinto, called “Malady.” This track comes from the latest trio of singles under the Holy Trinity record, and this track in particular reminds me of Interpol-inspired rock. The last song, called Acquaintances, Friends, Love Ends” was released in October, but the current single can be streamed below and it’s their best yet.
If you like what you hear, be sure to buy the Holy Trinity Singles Club.
The 15th anniversary of the My Chemical Romance classic has come and gone, but with the recent news of them reuniting, I just couldn’t wait five more years to write about Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. I vividly remember my first time hearing this record. I was a 21-year old, shopping at my local Hot Topic, browsing the listening station of the recent CD releases. The Three Cheers artwork grabbed my attention from the first look, and I knew I had to see what the band had come up with, having only seen them open up for The Used at the 9:30 Club about a year prior. The album was produced by one of all-time favorites, Howard Benson, and had it not been for my immediate trust in the producer; I may have waited to purchase this album until a few weeks later. What I was not expecting was just how professional, polished, and amazing the record was, as I became immediately transported into the world of MCR. From the opening notes of “Helena,” I knew this band had created something incredibly special, immediate, and gripping from the very first listen. It’s safe to say that this immediate purchase of the record was not one that I came to regret.
Rewind for a minute back to 1999. Nu-metal looms large with bands such as Limp Bizkit and Korn dominating the airwaves and record sales. RollingStone magazine is saying for the millionth time that rock is dead, or at the very least, on life support. Little did that magazine realize, a small yet remarkable movement was taking place. Incubus had started to establish a good career for themselves on their sophomore studio effort S.C.I.E.N.C.E. , and were slowly but surely getting rock fans to turn their heads towards the Calabasas-based band. Enter the third studio album, Make Yourself that has just turned 20 years old. Produced by veteran hit-maker Scott Litt, Incubus made a conscious effort to leave the nu-metal bands they built a scene with scratching their heads in disbelief as the band would evolve their sound into an alternative rock powerhouse that would go on to sell over two million records in the United States alone. While Incubus had grabbed my attention on S.C.I.E.N.C.E., they became my new favorite band on Make Yourself.
Today I’m pleased to premiere the new music video from Linen Closet called “Warning Sign.” This Austin-based band is known for their unique brand of shimmering indie-rock with great melodic moments. If you like what you hear, be sure check out their self-titled album.
The mystery, indecisiveness, and possible controversy surrounding Third Eye Blind’s sixth studio album only added to the allure and likability of Screamer. In many interviews, front-man Stephan Jenkins went as far as to say that there would never be a sixth studio album from Third Eye Blind, which came as a big shock to those who have been following the band during this decade. Coming off multiple successful tours with their name at the top of the bill, Third Eye Blind has done plenty to remove themselves from the pack of 90’s bands who could only dream of Jenkins and his bandmates’ sustained success. Dopamine, their last proper full-length was released in 2015, and they followed that record up with an equally charming collection of cover songs affectionately titled Thanks For Everything. With such an ominous EP title, one could only think Jenkins was living up to his word about hanging up the studio production output from the Third Eye Blind moniker. Luckily for us, Jenkins and 3EB’s long-time drummer Brad Hargreaves, guitarists Kryz Reid and Colin Creev, and bassist Alex LeCavilier collectively came together to deliver Screamer.
When I first got word of Mark Hoppus and Alex Gaskarth joining forces for a band that would become Simple Creatures, my reaction was that they would be able to play off of each other’s strengths as songwriters and musicians brilliantly. Little did I know that this side project of sorts would morph into one of my favorite electronica-driven new bands to come out of this decade. Twelve songs later into their debut in 2019, and we are left with a much better picture of who Simple Creatures are. Whereas Strange Love was an introduction to the band and what they were capable of, Everything Opposite finds Mark and Alex at their most confident, accomplished, and strongest.
Today I’m pleased to share the new single from Pelafina called “Blue and Gold.” This four-piece emo rock band from Chicago is poised for big things this year as their sound is reminiscent of bands such as Moneen and The Graduate. You can pre-save this single on Spotify and stream it below.