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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Review: Run River North – Creatures In Your Head

Run River North - Creatures In Your Head

The third studio album from Run River North is an eclectic mix of songs that range from the stylings of similar Alt Rock bands such as Foster The People, JR JR, and Glass Animals. This latest record, Creatures In Your Head, will be independently released tomorrow and features some of their most unique songs to date. The band is comprised of Alex Hwang, Daniel Chae, and Sally Kang, and their band chemistry is undeniable. This breezy set of 10 songs is filled with interesting compositions that are sure to stick in your mind for days to come.

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Review: Foo Fighters – Medicine At Midnight

Foo Fighters

On the 10th studio album from Foo Fighters, they clearly are having a blast. Their latest record is called Medicine At Midnight and is one of their most accessible albums to date. The nine song set clocks in 37 minutes and was produced by Greg Kurstin and the band as well. While the past few Foo Fighters records never had a long lasting impact with me, Medicine At Midnight is one of those “lightning in a bottle” type of moments that feels like something important right from the first listen. In recent interviews, Foo Fighters front-man Dave Grohl likened the direction of this album to David Bowie’s Let’s Dance record by stating, “It’s filled with anthemic, huge, sing-along rock songs. It’s almost like a dance record—not like a EDM, disco, modern dance record. It’s got groove, man.” It’s hard to not share the same optimism for the record after hearing these tracks that are filled with vibrant pop elements that are still fully enriched in Foo Fighters’ long history of making solid rock songs.

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Interview: Brian McTernan of Be Well

Be Well

Recently I had a chance to talk with Brian McTernan (producer, vocalist) of Be Well. McTernan has a storied past of producing legendary records from bands such as Thrice (Illusion of Safety, The Artist in the Ambulance), The Movielife (Forty Hour Train Back to Penn), and Senses Fail (Still Searching, Life is Not a Waiting Room). These are just a few of the many producer credits to McTernan’s name, and we discussed his process for producing bands as well the advice he would give to young producers looking to make their unique stamp on an album. Not to be lost in the shuffle, Brian McTernan also released a solid album from a project called Be Well this past summer, and he shared his favorite tracks from The Weight and The Cost, and what he’s most looking forward to once its safe to tour again.

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Review: Frank Iero and The Future Violents – Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place

Frank Iero and The Future Violents - Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place

Of all the band members in My Chemical Romance, Frank Iero has arguably been the busiest since the band originally disbanded. With three full-length solo records and a handful of EPs to his name, the latest version of Frank Iero’s project is called Frank Iero and the Future Violents. On Heaven is a Place, This is a Place he has constructed a series of songs emboldened in passion. On this EP, Frank Iero also enlisted some key band members (Evan Nestor <guitars>, Matt Armstrong <bass>, Kayleigh Goldsworthy <piano, organ, violin> and Thursday drummer Tucker Rule) to help with his vision for his music. The result is a collection of songs that sound as immediately gratifying as anything yet released in Iero’s solo career to date.

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Review: The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead

Taking a look back at the breakthrough record from The Decemberists called The King is Dead brings back a flood of memories about what was going on in the music scene at that time. It seemed as if indie rock and folk rock were merging forces to become the new “it” genre that music fans, and critics alike, couldn’t get enough of. Bands such as Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and The Decemberists were gaining momentum at just the right time. This album would be The Decemberists first album to chart at the top of the Billboard 200, and the opening single “Down By The Water” also experienced success on the Modern Rock chart as well. Prior to this album’s release, front-man Colin Meloy stated in an interview, “If there’s anything academic about this record, or me trying to force myself in a direction, it was realizing that the last three records were really influenced by the British folk revival […] this whole world that I was discovering, that I was poring over, learning inside-out. It was a wanting to get away from that. And looking back into more American traditions, reconnecting with more American music.” By getting more in-tune with these American traditions and stylistic choices on found on this album, The Decemberists were able to release their most successful and accessible record to date.

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Review: Chase Tremaine – Development and Compromise

Chase Tremaine

The sophomore album from Chase Tremaine called Development & Compromise is truly a labor of love, as much as it’s a thorough exploration in what it means to find your place in this crazy thing called life. The album was recorded over a ten-day span, and was produced, engineered, and mixed by Sean Power at the Hilson Studio. Whereas Tremaine’s debut (Unfall) took an introspective look at his search for finding his “true north,” this album expands upon these thematic elements with a more universal approach to investigating the human element of life with rich musical landscapes. While not as immediately gratifying as his debut record, Development & Compromise rewards the listener on repeat listens as you dive headfirst into everything Tremaine has set forth on this comprehensive album.

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