Moonlighting: The Get Up Kids

The Get Up Kids

By their nature, musicians are creative. Just because they find success doesn’t mean they don’t like to explore new genres or shake things up. Sometimes their new music doesn’t gel with their current band. Sometimes a band goes on a Ross and Rachel type of break, but the music has to keep flowing. Moonlighting is all about the side projects, the passion projects, the weird and wacky that branch out from the original act.

The Get Up Kids are your older brother’s emo. In their early years, the band members looked like they walked on stage immediately after bagging groceries or tutoring middle school kids. This was long before emo became associated with Hot Topic or bangs. Matt Pryor certainly has some growl to his vocals, but overall the band’s music is approachable, agreeable, heart-on-your-sleeve rock. This is music you wouldn’t be afraid to play in front of your mom. With a catalog featuring grainy distortion (“Coming Clean”), acoustic sing-alongs (“Campfire Kansas”), and new-wavey exploration (“Shatter Your Lungs”), it’s clear The Get Up Kids have never been worried about creating one type of music. The other projects from these members reflect that versatility.

Read More “Moonlighting: The Get Up Kids”

Review: Straylight Run – Un Mas Dos

Straylight Run - Un Mas Dos

Like Un Mas Dos, I’ll try to keep this review short and sweet. Last year Straylight Run released The Needles the Space, a great album that rewarded repeat listeners and struck a fine balance between lead vocalists John Nolan and Michelle DaRosa. In the time since, Straylight Run were dropped from Universal Records and DaRosa left the band to pursuer her solo career. Rather than allowing these losses to accumulate in a complete breakdown of the band, John Nolan, bassist Shaun Cooper, and drummer Will Noon decided to return to their roots. The e-release Un Mas Dos is a brief three song set that recalls the band’s first online release and shines a light through the haze and into their future.

Read More “Straylight Run – Un Mas Dos”

Review: Steel Train – For You My Dear

Steel Train - For You My Dear

Jack Antonoff (vocals/guitar) and Scott Irby-Ranniar (vocals) began what came to be known as Steel Train playing subways and alleyways in New York. A demo released in 2000 garnered considerable record label interest, and after signing to Drive-Thru Records, the two original members recruited Evan Winiker (bass) and Matthias Gruber (drums) to enter the studio. The newly formed quartet emerged with the band’s debut EP, the wondrous For You My Dear.

Read More “Steel Train – For You My Dear”

Review: Park – It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going

Park - It Won't Snow Where You're Going

When a band includes a disclaimer in their lyrics booklet explaining that musical themes of suicide should not be acted upon by the listener, they must really mean business. I hear the phrase “summer album” thrown around often in connection to upbeat and poppy albums. In contrast, Park’s It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going is the kind of album needed for warmth through the coldest of winters. Though there is little to nothing that can be described as cheerful in vocalist/guitarist Ladd Mitchell’s lyrics, there’s something encouraging in screaming ‘Let’s give up / Let’s give in’ during times of personal strife.

Though his lyrics are one of the main draws to Park, Mitchell’s vocals are nothing extraordinary. There’s something humbling about this, though. It makes him an everyman, someone whose troubles are easy to relate to. With that being said, at certain moments on the album his voice does shine brighter than usual. There’s an unmistakable build up on the track “Pomona for Empusa,” and for a few moments before the chorus Mitchell conveys his current frustration excellently with the single lyric, ‘Jesus Christ, what was I thinking?’ This short pause is made even better with limited accompaniment by guitarist Justin Valenti, who dwindles towards lower notes on the fretboard as a representation of Mitchell’s sinking state.

Read More “Park – It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going”

Review: Days Away – L.S.D.E.P.

Days Away - L.S.D.E.P.

Days Away’s self-released disc the L.S.D.E.P. is an out of print rarity today, but collection fanatics need not worry – every track of the EP is recreated on the band’s debut album Mapping an Invisible World. Still, it’s nice to take a look back at the promise held by the best songs of the EP.

The soothing sounds of “Stay the Same” are a wonderful start to the L.S.D.E.P. Even with the instrumentation at its heaviest, Keith Goodwin (guitar/vocals) keeps a lazy pace with his placid singing. “Stay the Same” also introduces the band’s simplistic yet poignant approach to lyrics, a fitting compliment to Goodwin’s vocal style.

Read More “Days Away – L.S.D.E.P.”

Review: Yellowcard – The Underdog EP

Yellowcard - Underdog EP

Before basking in the mainstream success that was Ocean Avenue, Yellowcard were just another bunch of underdogs plowing through releases and member changes. The Underdog EP, which features members Ryan Key (vocals/guitar), Warren Cooke (bass), Sean Mackin (violin), Ben Harper (guitar), and Longineu W. Parsons III (drums), will regrettably remain unexplored by more casual fans the band has picked up in recent years. But those who do take the time to dig through Yellowcard’s back catalog of music will be pleasantly surprised by The Underdog EP.

Read More “Yellowcard – The Underdog EP”

Review: Name Taken – The Silent Game

Name Taken - The Silent Game

The welcome voice of bassist/singer Chad Atkinson singing a cappella at the introduction of “The Safety of Routine” gives The Silent Game an undeniably powerful start. Atkinson’s vocals are so confident and adult that it’s hard to believe that he, along with the other members of Name Taken (drummer Bret Meisenbach and guitarists Ryan Edwards and Blake Means), were mere teenagers when they created the EP.

This trend of youthful maturity continues with “For Sunday” in which Edwards and Means shine. Ignoring the uninspired power chord conventions of their scene they chase each other across their respective fretboards forming tightly woven patterns to set the dark mood of lyrics such as ‘And God why do I blame them? / I’m begging you to forgive me.’ During the breakdown the guitar duo alternate riffs from the left speaker to the right culminating with a frenzied message from Chad made all the more urgent by the fast paced rhythm courtesy of Meisenbach. If Chad’s striking vocals in “The Safety of Routine” are the initial draw, the instrumentation on “For Sunday” is what leaves the listener begging for more.

Read More “Name Taken – The Silent Game”