Review: David Cook – The Looking Glass

David Cook - The Looking Glass

On the latest EP from the former Season Seven American Idol winner, David Cook takes bold new steps in re-imagining the way he approaches his songwriting and music. The Looking Glass EP has a certain swagger to it from an artist who feels like he’s getting his footing back, honing in on his strengths as a songwriter, and yet discovering new ways to tell his story. This is the first release of new music since 2018’s Chromance EP, and David Cook sounds as re-invigorated as he’s ever been. When I first heard the lead single, “Reds Turn Blue,” I wrote about this exciting new direction is his music, and I’m glad to say David Cook continues to cover new ground on this latest collection of heartfelt songs.

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Review: Waxflower – We Might Be Alright

On the debut EP from Waxflower called We Might Be Alright, they strike a nice mix of paying direct homage to emo heavyweights like Jimmy Eat World, Saves the Day, and The Maine while bringing their own unique package of vibrant guitar hooks and soaring melodies. What the band does well on this record is to re-package tried and true pop elements into refreshing new guitar-driven songs that are structured around the band’s strengths. While the music doesn’t stray too far away from their direct influences, there is plenty of ear candy to enjoy on this debut.

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Review: Thursday – Full Collapse

Thursday - Full Collapse

It seems like just yesterday I was discovering this “new band” my college roommate told me about called Thursday. The first song he played for me was “Understanding in a Car Crash,” and I was immediately drawn into the world of the post-hardcore/emo blend of magic that Thursday were able to accomplish on their sophomore record, Full Collapse. This album seemed destined to be huge, and had so many things going for it upon its release. For starters, the album was released during the so-called “golden age” of emo, with so many legendary bands releasing music during this time period. Secondly, Thursday were graced with a talented, energetic, and captivating front-man in the form of Geoff Rickly, who is now seen as a bona fide legend in our scene. Lastly, Thursday were brilliant at creating larger than life guitar hooks courtesy of their dual-attack by Tom Keeley and Steve Padulla. Rounding out the band were the ultra-talented bass player Tim Payne, and drummer Tucker Rule who were all up to the task of stepping up to the plate to create this legendary album. Full Collapse is a raw, visceral, post-punk blend of hardcore elements packaged for the masses, while still remaining endearing enough for longtime fans of Thursday to reminisce on discovering this band they had in their back pocket. This album would launch Thursday directly into the mainstream of emo bands on the tips of every tongue mentioning an influential band during this time period, and not to mention record executives falling over themselves to sign them to a major label. As much as has been written about the labels associated with Thursday, its more important to look at how the music from this album has stood the test of time.

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Review: Wild Truth – Drift

I’d like to introduce you to your next music obsession: Wild Truth. With well-crafted hooks, vibrant guitars, and the vocal styling reminiscent of other pop-rock bands like Fall Out Boy, Walk the Moon, and The Maine; this band has a little bit of everything to capture that “lightning in a bottle” feeling of discovering an artist ready to break out in a big way. The Richmond, Virginia-based band formed in 2017 and consists of Will Beasley (bass/guitar), Clayton Sargent (drums) and Nick Gargiulo (vocals/guitar). The Drift EP is definitely one of those records that grabs you from the first listen.

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Interview: Brett Detar of The Juliana Theory

Juliana Theory

This week I was excited to connect with Brett Detar (vocalist) of The Juliana Theory to discuss what went into making their expansive re-imagining of past songs called A Dream Away, out everywhere today. In this interview I asked Brett about the longevity of the band and its legacy, what stood out from the recording process of these songs that made the album, as well as the band’s relationship with their new label Equal Vision Records.

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Review: The Juliana Theory – A Dream Away

The Juliana Theory - A Dream Away

On the first taste of new music from The Juliana Theory in over 15 years, the band was ready to step back into the spotlight with a collection of re-imagined songs from previous records known today as A Dream Away. The project was inspired by their 2019 acoustic tour where they stripped back several of their classic songs in the style of a MTV Unplugged atmosphere. This process of thinking about the unique layers to these tracks inspired this album, and reinvigorated their fan-base by remembering why they fell in love with this band in the first place. The Juliana Theory leave no stone unturned in their exploration as they expand upon the realm of possibilities for what these songs were, and what they can be.

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Review: Dashboard Confessional – The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most

Dashboard Confessional - The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most

Who would’ve thought the lyric from “Saints and Sailors” of, “Wandering this house, like I’ve never wanted out / And this is about as social as I get now” would take on new meaning during these strange times? But alas, we’ve come to the 20 year anniversary of the breakthrough emo classic record by Chris Carrabba, better known for his affectionately titled project Dashboard Confessional. Flashing back to this time period brings back a flood of memories of bands just waiting to explode onto the mainstream. What gets lost among the shuffle of the bad haircuts, skinny jeans, and ultra-tight t-shirts is the fact that the music coming out of this time period has stayed the test of time. Dashboard Confessional was not the loudest band out there, not the flashiest, but damn if Chris Carrabba couldn’t write a hook that would stay in your mind for days on end. The mostly acoustic guitar-based project was a tough sell initially since most touring bands didn’t know how to properly market a solo singer-songwriter in this scene. However, Chris consistently won over crowds night after night and it was clear that Dashboard Confessional was immediately going to be the marquee band that others would have to open for.

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Review: Middle Kids – Today We’re The Greatest

Middle Kids - Today We're The Greatest

You would be hard pressed to find a harder-working band out there than Middle Kids. The band, comprised of vocalist/guitarist Hannah Joy, bassist/producer Tim Fitz, and drummer Harry Day shine throughout this collection of songs that find them at their most confident. Today We’re The Greatest feels more like a badge of honor or a playful mantra for the band to acknowledge that they are at the top of their game, and are still having a blast dedicating their talents to their craft. Coming off of a stellar debut in Lost Friends, and an EP of New Songs For Old Problems to tide their fans over in the meantime, Middle Kids had a lot of momentum breaking in just the right way for their proper sophomore follow-up record. These 12 songs are deeply authentic, personal, and only further showcase the courage the band has in stepping into the role of a breakthrough artist.

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Review: Record Heat – 1

Record Heat - 1

The Brooklyn-based indie pop band, Record Heat (formerly Spirit Animal), are back with a new EP called 1. For those unfamiliar with the group, they are right in the same vein as bands like AWOLNATION, Portugal. The Man, and Glass Animals. This collection of three new songs expands upon the thematic elements introduced on their full-length debut (2018’s Born Yesterday) and offers a playful take on their genre-bending songs that are otherwise hard to define. The band is poised and ready for taking the next steps in their evolution towards making a mark on the music scene.

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Interview: Cameron Walker of Twin XL

Twin XL

This past week I was able to chat with Cameron Walker (vocalist/guitarist) of the alternative rock band Twin XL. We discussed how he and the band has stayed active during the pandemic, their process for writing songs lately, and what he and his bandmates’ are most looking forward to once he’s able to tour again. Twin XL has steadily been releasing new music this year, and they look forward to what the future holds for them.

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Review: Electric Century – Electric Century

Electric Century - Electric Century

With the first taste of new music from Mikey Way’s synth-tinged project Electric Century in five years, Way clearly had lofty expectations for what this band was capable of creating. The band, comprised also of Sleep Station vocalist David Debiak, released their debut For the Night to Control in 2016 and started to build momentum through word of mouth. While the band never toured on their debut material, Way tinkered with the idea of creating visuals behind the music and story. This self-titled effort is also released in conjunction with a comic book of the same name that provides lush visuals and a tale of a character named Johnny Ashford who gets in trouble with driving drunk. The character then begins seeing a hypnotherapist who recommends he go to his “happy place” of the Atlantic City boardwalk, where he stumbles upon a casino named Electric Century. The accompanying album of the same name dabbles into some of the same thematic elements presented in the comic, and makes for a great “guide” to understand the material. This record, much like its predecessor, relies on electronica-styled production to welcome everyone back into the world of Electric Century.

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Yo Kinky – ‘Self-Titled’ EP Track-by-Track Breakdown

Yo Kinky

Recently I was able to get a hold of a brand new pop-duo called Yo Kinky to provide a track-by-track breakdown on their self-titled EP. Yo Kinky is a Queens, New York, post-pop duo that layers seductive patter lyrics over shimmering angular guitars and drum machines. Following the premiere of their first single on the Tower Records site in November and positive coverage from several outlets, Yo Kinky is already forging a name for themselves among the disillusioned and hopeful.

Tom Unish and Laura Wight met at the start of 2020, bonded over shared musical interests, and immediately started working together on songs. Over the course of the pandemic, they recorded and produced their self-titled debut EP out today. These songs touch upon themes such as truth, adaptability, love, and anticipation as Wight’s bright vocals are delivered with a conversational precision calling to mind acts like X, Sleaford Mods, and Blondie. I’d recommend checking out this artist if you’re a fan of similar acts such as Metric and Le Tigre.

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Review: Ethan Gold – Alexandria and Me / In New York

Ethan Gold - Alexandria and Me / In New York

The latest single from singer/songwriter and composer Ethan Gold explores the unique vibes that two cities brought out in him. The Los Angeles-based musician made his solo debut in 2011 with Songs from a Toxic Apartment, and Gold has also brought his unique approach to songwriting in film scores such as 2019’s Don’t Let Go. Gold’s next solo album is entitled Earth City 1: The Longing and will be released everywhere music is sold on May 14th of this year. The stark contrast between the two singles only speaks to the ability of Gold to convey a wide range of emotions in his music.

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Review: O.A.R. – Risen

O.A.R. - Risen

O.A.R. (short for Of a Revolution) has always been an important breakthrough band in my hometown of Montgomery County, Maryland. The band formed in 1996 in Rockville, MD with the original members of lead vocalist/guitarist Marc Roberge, drummer Chris Culos, guitarist Richard On, and bassist Benj Gershman. After the modest success of their first two albums (The Wanderer, and Soul’s Aflame), which was built off of a strong word-of-mouth and relentless touring, the band set to record their first major stamp on the music world with Risen produced by John Alagia (Dave Matthews, John Mayer). Much to the band’s surprise, and label’s delight, the record debuted at #11 on the Billboard “Internet Sales” and #66 of Billboard’s “New Artists” Charts respectively. It was becoming clearer that the “local band” was poised for big things, as this record would open the door for multiple major label offers. O.A.R. have recorded eight studio albums to date and still continue to play to large crowds all across the world due to their energetic live shows and armed with a discography of well-known songs. Risen features three re-recorded songs from their sophomore effort, Soul’s Aflame and one from their debut, The Wanderer. This set of songs are still widely used in their live sets, and feature some of their longtime fans’ favorite tracks.

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Review: Left Field Messiah – In Praise of Bombast

The debut album from Left Field Messiah is a glorious throwback to the 70’s psychedelic era of music, and the band are on the right track for making a bold opening statement. LFM is comprised of Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat), Jeremy Ruzumna (Fitz & The Tantrums) and Erik Janson (formerly of Wildling), and In Praise of Bombast blends each of their unique musical backgrounds into an interesting sound that is difficult to pin down to one genre. We recently premiered their last single for “Fuzz Machine,” that features some mind-bending visuals that provide the background to the soundtrack of their eclectic music that never follows the traditional norms of what rock music is supposed to be. In fact, Left Field Messiah are comfortable with stretching the imagination of their listeners as they take every opportunity to paint with vivid colors in their first major artistic statement.

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