Hard as it may be to believe, Void Ripper is in fact Animal Flag’s fifth full-length album, and a more-than-worthy followup to 2016’s LP. While the project has always been the brainchild of Matt Politoski, this is the first album featuring the current lineup of Zach Weeks, Sai Boddupalli and Alex Pickert. This time around, the group have crafted an explosive and comprehensive group of songs that Politoski described to Modern Vinyl as a three part process of “order, disorder, and re-order.”
As you might imagine, “disorder” implies a certain chaotic and loud element when applied to a band’s music. In the case of Animal Flag, that’s nothing new. Anyone that has seen this band live can attest to their absolute mastery of dynamics, and while that mastery is hard to capture on record: Void Ripper comes damn close. The production, courtesy of bassist Zach Weeks, is about as raw as it gets, with pounding drums often threatening to drown out other instrumentation.
For the better part of the 2010’s, it’s been a apparent that Pianos Become the Teeth are a special band. Their particular blend of lyricism, coupled with their ebb-and-flow instrumental intensity has earned them a place in the hearts of emo and hardcore fans alike. In 2009, the band’s first full-length Old Pride introduced Pianos as students of 90’s screamo, quickly followed by 2011’s The Lack Long After, which was masterclass in Melodic Hardcore. Their previous full-length, 2014’s Keep You traded in the strained yelps and anger for a more reserved sound. The post-rock influences that had been peppered throughout the band’s catalog were on full display, with the melodic, sung vocals taking center stage for the first time. A change in sound like this was considered a huge risk in “the scene” at this time, and it payed off fantastically. So now in 2018, we’ve been gifted with another LP from the Baltimore, MD band, one where they double down on the things that made Keep You their greatest record, and continue to experiment within the new sonic landscape they’ve carved out for themselves.
There are certain albums that represent milestones in people’s musical development. Ones that trigger a rush of nostalgia more powerful than just the simple recollection of a memory. There are a couple that I can think of off the top of my head that bring me back to a time and a place, but none more powerfully than Motion City Soundtrack’s 2007 LP, Even if it Kills Me. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of the band before this. I was just starting to develop my own taste in music. I wasn’t quite over my Metallica phase and not quite ready to throw myself headfirst into any of the scenes I eventually would in High School. I was in sixth grade, I had yet to get my first guitar, and the two bands dominating my SanDisk MP3 player were Green Day and Fall Out Boy.
Based on those two bands alone, you can assume that my music listening was still largely radio-based. It was before my friends and I would regularly swap CD’s and the idea of being able to share playlists with each other over the internet was too far in the future to even be a thought. It really was a surprise to stumble upon a band I had never heard about, making music I fell head-over-heels for.
Holy Pinto are gearing up to release a very special double A-side single, King/Very Adult, and in preparation I spoke with guitarist/vocalist Aymen Saleh about the band’s creative process and plans for the future.
Connecticut’s A Will Away describes their sound as “80’s pop rock on Acid.” As far as their hooks go: that’s a pretty apt description. Their instrumentation owes more to the emo revival and 90’s grunge than the shiny, synthesized pop of Genesis and A-Ha, but their ability to craft vocal melodies that leave lyrics permanently stuck in your head is indeed a product of the 80’s.
Aj LaGambina ranks his top albums from 2016.
In 2006, Brand New were a band known mostly for their work as one of the Long Island based pop-punk bands that managed to make it to a national stage. They were winding down from the success of their 2003 sophomore record Deja Entendu, an album that saw the band eschew the pop-punk tag in favor of more complex and dynamic songwriting, in addition to exploring more introspective themes than their contemporaries.
The sonic shift experienced between those first two records was nothing, however, when compared to the shift between the second and third. Complications arose in January of 2006 when nine demos leaked. This leak stalled the band’s creative process, further delaying their third LP. Though the band was vocal in their disappointment about these songs making it to the internet, it may have been for the best. And then, on November 21st, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me was unleashed onto the world. I think it’s fair to say that most of the people who have listened to the record have found themselves greatly affected by it. Why is that? I can only really answer by explaining my experience.
Sometimes waiting pays off.
It’s now the last quarter of 2016, and we finally have the sophomore effort from All Get Out, Nobody Likes a Quitter. The band’s last full length, The Season, was released all the way back in September of 2011. Now widely considered something of a cult classic, that record was followed up four years later with the Movement EP, an effort meant to reflect the pace and energy of the band’s live show. Now almost a year later, we have All Get Out’s second full length, and it was worth every (im)patient day we waited for it.
In a year full of good music, it can be difficult to decide which records deserve your attention most. It seems as though every week has at least two releases worth dedicating precious listening time to. At that rate it can quickly become an overwhelming task to simply keep up. That’s why I find it necessary to tell you that if there is one must listen record this year: it’s the latest offering from Touché Amoré, titled Stage Four.