Review: The Offspring – Let the Bad Times Roll

The Offspring - Let the Bad Times Roll

For years now, it seems like a new The Offspring album has been promised like a new Avatar movie. There were rumblings of a new record being recorded as early as 2013, but nothing came to fruition despite the band hyping up their progress. In this time, they left the record label they’ve been a part of since 1996, Columbia Records, and also parted ways with long-time bass player Greg K. After the delays, band drama, national chaos and a global pandemic, the band finally dropped their first new album after nine years, the appropriately titled Let the Bad Times Roll.

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Review: Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

People like to say that the Foo Fighters are a band with plenty of great hits, but not great albums. To say Foo Fighters don’t put together excellent records is not a fair knock. 

I could write an entire thesis defending Foo Fighters albums, but for now I’ll just say their first three albums – Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape and There is Nothing Left to Lose – are classics, jam packed with hits and underrated B-Sides. I can also admit at the same time, there are circumstances where the hits over albums idea rings true. “All My Life” is far superior than the rest of the songs on 2002’s One by One. “The Best of You” was miles ahead of the pack when stacked up against the other tracks on 2005’s In Your Honor. Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace had three strong singles with “The Pretender”, “Long Road to Ruin”, and “Let it Die”, but the rest of the record was just okay. 

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Review: Alkaline Trio – From Here to Infirmary

Alkaline Trio

Pop punk was taking the world by storm in 2001. Blink-182, Green Day and The Offspring were some of the biggest punk bands around, while groups like New Found Glory and Good Charlotte started to make a name for themselves in 2000. It was no coincidence that Alkaline Trio, a three piece punk band from Chicago, decided to lean into a poppier sound on their third LP, From Here to Infirmary. Some viewed this record as a “sell out”, but it quickly became clear this type of punk was the type of music they were meant to be playing.

While another band with dual singers was gearing up to release Take Off Your Pants and Jacket 20 years ago (Ironically, 20 years later Skiba is now a member of Blink-182), Alkaline Trio – consisting of singer/guitarist Matt Skiba, singer/bassist Dan Andriano and drummer Mike Felumlee (who left the band in 2001 and was replaced by current drummer Derek Grant – dropped what still remains their most complete record as a band. 

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Brett Bodner’s Top Albums of 2020

Best of 2020

Good riddance 2020. We’re finally saying good-bye to one of the worst years on record and are hoping for a much better 2021. While 2020 was a turd wrapped in burnt hair, it did give us some fantastic music for our ears and souls to enjoy over these many months spent social distancing. Phoebe Bridgers’ blessed us with Punisher, her highly anticipated follow-up to Stranger in the Alps, and a few EPs to help end the year right. This was also the year Taylor Swift’s music won me over for the first time in my life thanks to her two impressive albums folklore and evermore. We also got a killer Spanish Love Songs album to start the year, Touche Amore somehow found a way to follow up Stage Four with their epic new record Lament, a long awaited new full length from The Front Bottoms and a powerful debut solo album from Hayley Williams. I could go on-and-on with all the new music I enjoyed this year, but it’s best I let the records on my list below speak for themselves.

This was my first year writing for Chorus and it’s been such an honor writing alongside everyone on the website. Through contributors here, I discovered artists I probably wouldn’t have given a chance or found on my own, but I’m glad I did. The result of all these discoveries is what’s probably my most diverse end-of-year album list yet. I never thought I’d have pop records from Taylor Swift or Dua Lipa on my list, but here we are. I’m excited for the new music to come in 2021 and to continue to write about it here at Chorus.fm.

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Review: A Day to Remember – What Separates Me From You

What Separates Me From You

There aren’t many bands out there like A Day to Remember. They’re a group that can hit you with crunching guitars, thunderous drums, and earth-shattering screams while also having the capability to make fast pop-punk songs and gentle acoustic ballads. This sounds like a combination that shouldn’t work, yet they’ve found a way to pull it off time and time again.

ADTR’s fourth album, What Separates Me From You, further proved that A Day to Remember will never fit into a certain mold. They’re going to make the kind of music they want to make, whether that’s fun pop-punk or metalcore. Each A Day to Remember album is a grab bag of genres, but here the band (consisting Jeremy McKinnon – singer, Neil Westfall – rhythm guitarist, Joshua Woodard – bass, Alex Shelnutt – drums and Kevin Skaff – lead guitarist) started to explore their poppier side like they never have before.  

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Review: Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall

Machine Gun Kelly - Tickets to My Downfall

I have to be honest with you. I’m not that familiar with Machine Gun Kelly’s music. Prior to this album, all I knew about the 30-year-old rapper a.k.a. Colson Baker, was that he once had a beef with Eminem, he played Tommy Lee in the Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” and had a song called “I Think I’m Okay” he made with Yungblud and Travis Barker. When I heard Barker was working with Machine Gun Kelly on a pop-punk project, I raised my eyebrow like The Rock and assumed it was probably something I wouldn’t listen to. Then I heard “Bloody Valentine.”

“Bloody Valentine” has been stuck in my head, in my head, since the first moment I heard it in May. I’ve long been a fan of pop-punk, and this song was right up my alley, taking me back to a time when the genre was at its highest of highs in the early 2000s. “Bloody Valentine” left me wanting more, and suddenly MGK’s new album, Tickets To My Downfall, was one of my most anticipated albums for the fall. When it finally arrived on Sept. 25 after being delayed in the spring thanks to COVID, it completely exceeded my expectations and left me feeling like I was 12 again, when I would listen to Good Charlotte’s The Young and the Hopeless and Blink-182’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket on repeat.

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Review: The Menzingers – From Exile

The Menzingers - From Exile

We’ve been having a horrible time… in 2020. COVID-19 has forced us to keep our distance from one another and has caused unimaginable pain to millions around the world. Millions are out of work. Bands can’t play concerts and tour around the world like they usually do, forcing them to find new ways to get in front of their fans. The Menzingers came into 2020 with plans to tour their new album, Hello Exile, which was released last October. Instead, they canceled all future tour dates when everything shut down in March.

The Menzingers decided to flex their creative muscles and make the most of their time away from each other in quarantine. Between mid-March and June, the band re-recorded Hello Exile while they were all in different locations. Their goal was to create something like the acoustic demos that appeared on the excellent On The Possible Past, but instead they decided to add to the depths of the songs and not just strip them back.  

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Review: New Found Glory – New Found Glory

New Found Glory - New Found Glory

There is just nothing better than early 2000s pop punk. Sure, I’m biased having grown up during this time, but the success of bands in this genre speaks for themselves. Blink-182, Sum 41, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, The Starting Line, Good Charlotte, and New Found Glory, were all over MTV and their albums were flying off the shelves of Sam Goody and FYE stores. New Found Glory helped push this pop punk boom to new heights when they released their self-titled album, New Found Glory in 2000.

After making waves with their debut album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, New Found Glory signed with Drive-Thru Records. This move would forever change both the band and the record label. On their first LP for Drive-Thru, New Found Glory would successfully blend their love of pop music, punk and hardcore into a record that was raw, yet showed signs they stumbled onto something special.

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Review: Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns

Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns

In 2010, Linkin Park was one of the biggest bands in the world. They had put out two iconic albums with 2000’s Hybrid Theory and 2003’s Meteora, quickly turning heads for their unique sound, successfully fusing metal and rap together. Instead of getting painted into a corner as a nu-metal band, Linkin Park wanted to show they were so much more. They started to tinker with their sound, and the result was 2007’s Minutes to Midnight. Despite the album producing hits like “What I’ve Done” and “Bleed It Out,” the record received mixed reviews. Most of the songs were slower (aside from “Given Up” and “No More Sorrow”), there were guitar solos, string arrangements, Mike Shinoda sang more than he rapped, and Chester Bennington sang more than he screamed. Longtime fans of the band weren’t sure how to react. While they easily could’ve abandoned this experiment, they doubled-down on this new sound on A Thousand Suns, and the result was something special.

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Review: State Champs – Unplugged

State Champs - Unplugged

The sign of a great band is one that sounds fantastic once all the bells and whistles are stripped away. State Champs has shown off this quality before with The Acoustic Things and they’ve done it again with their new EP, Unplugged. With each of their first three albums, State Champs have emerged as one of the best pop punk bands around today, if not the best. Unplugged proves that they’re not only an excellent pop punk band, but they’re just an excellent band, period. 

The EP consists of four new songs and two reimagined Living Proof tracks. Unplugged kicks off with the beautiful “A Thousand Hearts,” which is this EP’s “If I’m Lucky.” The opener is a sweet love song where singer Derek DiScanio sings about finally finding the person he wants to give his heart to. It’s basically the song version of the saying “you have to crack a few eggs before you make an omelet.” The band delivers on each note throughout the track with a steady drum beat, piano and acoustic guitars. However, it’s Saxl Rose that steals the show with a killer saxophone solo at the 3:04 mark. The instrument fits in well throughout the song and it helps kick the EP off on a high note. (P.S. if you haven’t heard of Saxl Rose before, do yourself a favor and head over to YouTube and check out his pop punk covers. I recommend his covers of A Day To Remember’s “If It Means A Lot to You” and Blink-182’s “Always.”)

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Review: Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare

Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare

The death of a loved one is a nightmare come to life. It’s something that can completely devastate you, leaving you feeling empty and forever changing life as you know it. While there is that overwhelming sadness, sometimes loss causes those left behind to do something special in their own lives. They find the strength to push forward and honor those who are no longer here. 

For Avenged Sevenfold, they suffered a tragedy on December 28, 2009 when their drummer, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan,  died at the age of 28 from an accidental opioid overdose. The Rev had become widely known as one of the best drummers in the metal scene, and his death stunned the world. Avenged Sevenfold had become a household name at this point, thanks to the success of their albums City of Evil and the self-titled Avenged Sevenfold. They were becoming one of the biggest rock bands in the world and just as they were in the process of making a new album, Avenged Sevenfold lost one of their brothers.

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Brett Bodner’s Top Albums of 2020 (So Far)

Best of 2020 (So Far)

While it feels like seven years have passed since New Year’s Day 2020, we’re actually only halfway through the year somehow. As the world around us feels like it has never been more chaotic, we’ve been lucky enough to have been blessed with some great music to help all of us get through the days. We’ve had incredible and epic albums from artists like Spanish Love Songs, Phoebe Bridgers, Hayley Williams and Jeff Rosenstock. Their music has got me through many days in quarantine and they’ve filled me with hope instead of feeling down about what’s going on outside. 

Hopefully the second half of the year is filled with the albums that have been pushed back or have yet to have announced release dates (Looking at you, A Day To Remember, Foo Fighters and Weezer). Even if they aren’t, the first half of the year has given us all plenty of fuel to power through the next five months. 

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Review: New Found Glory – Forever + Ever x Infinity

There’s nothing like pop-punk in the summer. When the sun is shining, and the air is warm, it’s the perfect time of year to drive around with your windows down, blasting some New Found Glory. During a normal summer, a new New Found Glory album could become the soundtrack of a season spent with friends, going on vacation, tailgating for concerts, and family BBQs. Summer 2020 is going to be a much different summer than we’re used to. Fortunately for long time fans of New Found Glory, you have a new album for you to  lose yourself in for 48 minutes.

New Found Glory is back with Forever + Ever x Infinity, their tenth studio album. It’s a record that finds the band going back to their roots of punk, hardcore and post-hardcore instead of continuing to explore the lighter pop elements that frequented 2017’s Makes Me Sick. If this sounds familiar, it’s basically the same thing that happened when they elected to ditch the mellow and softer sounds of 2006’s Coming Home to return to rock/punk with 2009’s Not Without A Fight. If you were a fan of Makes Me Sick and were hoping to see the band continue down this road, you might be disappointed with this release. However, if you’re a fan of NFG albums like Catalyst and Resurrection, you’ll walk away pretty happy with what you hear.

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Review: Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica

Modest Mouse - Moon & Antarctica

To paraphrase the timeless Forrest Gump, Modest Mouse albums are like a box of chocolates; you never know what kinds of songs you’re gonna get. 

You could have a beautiful song with an epic ending like “Talkin’ Shit About a Pretty Sunset,” a wild, weird 11-minute jam like “Trucker’s Atlas,” or a chaotic song like “Breakthrough” that makes you want to shout like singer Isaac Brock and bounce around the room.

All of these traits are on display on Modest Mouse’s 2000 album The Moon & Antarctica, their first on a major label. Despite the jump to a bigger label with Epic Records, Modest Mouse only continued to grow into one of the greatest bands in indie rock. While some bands might drastically change their sound when they make the jump, Modest Mouse instead put together one of the greatest works in their career. They created an album where you don’t have to skip a single song, making each track feel like they’re all connected and are as important as the next one up the track listing.

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Review: Jeff Rosenstock – No Dream

Jeff Rosenstock - No Dream

Like the Beyoncé of the punk rock scene, Jeff Rosenstock has a knack for dropping surprise albums that go on to be instant classics. Rosenstock has done it yet again with, NO DREAM, a record loaded from front to back that might just be his best release to date. 

Rosenstock has never held back when diving into contemporary issues. WORRY summed up the anxious feelings leading up to the 2016 Presidential election, POST arrived on New Year’s Day of 2018 after a long first year of Donald Trump in office and now NO DREAM has dropped in the midst of a pandemic, mass public demonstrations against systemic racism, and political unrest before election day.

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