The indie pop band Misterwives just released their sophomore full-length album Connect the Dots. It’s a technicolor shot of adrenaline to the music industry and quite simply one of the most fun listens of the year. Just before their explosive set at Firefly Music Festival, we got a chance to sit down with Misterwives’ Mandy Lee, Jesse Blum, Etienne Bowler, Marc Campbell and Will Hehir, to discuss a variety of topics. In our discussion, we touch upon how some politicians have a tendency to hide immoral action under party politics, why the music industry is a tough place to work, and just how many drummers is too many drummers in a band.
One of my favorite musical memories was a moment of serendipitous timing outside a record store in Florence, Italy. We found this store almost as an afterthought, popping our heads in at the end of a long day of traveling. But as we left the store, we saw a man busking across the street, singing “Sex On Fire” by Kings Of Leon at the top of his lungs. And I’ll never forget watching this man, singing the lyrics in both English and Italian, crooning “This man is on fire” to a person passing by on a bike. As I watched the assembled crowd start to sing along, again in a mix of languages, I was struck by how a deliberately audacious, silly slice of pop-rock bliss had transcended cultures and boundaries.
All this is to say that when I heard the saxophone on “Everybody Lost Somebody,” made to sound not dissimilar from the street busker I saw in Florence, I knew that Jack Antonoff has had experiences like that. Experiences that made you become not just a spectator in the world around you, but a participant, connected with others. And he realizes that so many of these moments and connections are made through our most universal of languages: music. In many ways, that is what Gone Now, the sophomore record of Jack Antonoff’s project Bleachers, seems to be about: living presently and openly engaging and trying to connect with the people around you.
It’s hard to overstate just how tumultuous the past decade of Paramore’s career has been. Since before the recording of Brand New Eyes the band has been regularly rocked by near career-ending shifts. While some bands are lucky enough to go through no lineup changes throughout their career, or when lineup changes do happen the splits are often amicable, Paramore has had no such luck. I don’t need to rehash any of the details of this unrest except to say this: While the turmoil would crush almost any other band, the members that have remained, or returned, to Paramore have fought through all adversity to arrive at After Laughter, the crowning achievement of their career so far.
At once a deeply wistful look back at the past decade-plus of the band’s history and a clear eyed assessment of the future, After Laughter is a record about the moments between total heartbreak and absolute elation. These in-between moments allow us to pick up the pieces broken during the former and come down from the euphoric high of the latter, and reassess what our purpose is here on this floating rock. These moments make up the vast totality of our time on Earth, but for some reason they don’t often feel as romantic.
Last week, we presented our “In The Spotlight” feature and highlighted some of the best under the radar and up-and-coming artists. This week, one of those artists, Sonnder, reached out to us about premiering their new music video for “Siren Calling.” The song is the lead single off their debut album Entanglement, which came out last year and is one of my favorite recent finds. The video was directed by Dan Levitt, who captures the song’s youthful exuberance and the joyousness of Sonnder’s live performance.
“The open road is still miles away. Ain’t nothing serious. We still have our fun. Oh, we had it once.” These words, from the second verse of Jimmy Eat World’s perpetually underrated song, “The World You Love,” sum up so much of why I have fallen head-over-heels in love with this band over the past five years of my life. Jimmy Eat World’s music is best represented by the open road late night drives that “The World You Love” calls to mind. The freedom to explore the best of what the world has to offer.
My life is currently in a state of transition. One change, in particular, looms larger than the others. One of my closest friends, and one of the catalysts for thrusting me headfirst into Jimmy Eat World super fandom, is moving 600 miles away at the end of the month. Someday, maybe soon, I will end up relocating as well. So that line, so symbolic of the open road optimism for the future, is also simultaneously so wistful about the places we’re leaving behind, and the fun we’re putting in the rear-view mirror.
It’s this tightrope act between pensive, longing reflection on the past and relentless optimism for the future that I pondered as I drove north on I-287 through the rain, with no clear destination in mind, and the dashboard clock winding towards midnight. And sound-tracking that late-night drive was Integrity Blues, the breathtaking ninth studio album from Jimmy Eat World.
As I stare down my mid-twenties, I see the rest of my life hurtling toward me at full speed like a freight train with the brake lines cut. I feel my experience is nothing short of ubiquitous among those of my age group. Each of us may be staring down different issues: a full-time job that is perhaps not an actual career, mounting student loan debt, relationship troubles, and more. That uncertainty seems to linger there, just under the surface, at all hours of the day. These are the mounting insecurities and anxieties and, let’s face it, sometimes depression, that come with a perceived lack of direction in life.
We are all searching for someone who is trying to find that same meaning. It’s no surprise then, that the music we love often reflects back these same uncertainties, the same occasional short-lived self-loathing, and the probing existentialism of everyday life. And no record this year has struck that particular nerve for me in quite the way that Microwave’s Much Love has.
Bayside have steadily become one of the preeminent forces in alternative music by simply being themselves throughout their entire career. The band has a unique sense of self which displays itself every time they release new music. The band’s seventh full-length record, Vacancy, just dropped last week, and to celebrate, they hit the road with some incredible bands supporting them: The Menzingers and Sorority Noise. I’ll have more on that tour a little later this week, but for now, enjoy my conversation with Anthony Raneri and Nick Ghanbarian about managing fan expectations, what they feel their responsibility is as a band with a platform, and how you continue to write the most honest music of your career seven albums deep.
Last week, I was able to sit down and chat on the phone with one of my favorite songwriters, Aaron Gillespie. You may know him from his work as the drummer/singer for Underoath, or as the singer/songwriter behind The Almost, but Aaron has also just released his stellar debut full-length solo album Out of the Badlands. It came out on August 20th, and I think it showcases everything I love about Aaron’s writing style. We sat down to discuss the record in depth, as well as Underoath’s recent reunion, and many more topics.
Late last week, I had a chance to sit down for an extensive phone conversation with the wonderful Sam Means. Back in January, Sam released his debut full-length solo record Ten Songs, a record I have connected with a lot during these long, hot summer days in the Northeast. We discuss that record pretty thoroughly before delving into a number of other topics, including why Dog Problems has remained relevant even ten years later and why he feels a The Format reunion is “inevitable,” even if it’s not imminent.
My favorite moments in music are the ones that feel transcendent; the ones that seem to transport, envelop, and transform your circumstances as you sit down to experience them.
These moments can come in many forms. For many people, an exceptionally crafted heavy moment, like a climactic bridge or a breakdown in a metal song, can bring that world-changing experience. For others, it may come in the form of a delicate and spacious quiet song which allows the listener to drift off into restfulness or meditate.
One thing that drew me to the overlapping genres of post-rock, ambient, and post-hardcore music is that this sense of place, this tangible connection with the structure of a listening experience, and this focus on the audience’s interaction with the music, felt innately immersive to me. Listening to the songs by these artists, whether or not they were purely instrumental, allowed me to pour myself into the music, experience it fully, and it allowed the music to pour itself into me.
In case you haven’t heard, it’s been an interesting week for Brand New. The band just kicked off their Canadian headlining tour as the start of a packed schedule of summer concerts. And in typical Brand New fashion, the start of that tour was overshadowed by their cryptic messaging of t-shirts and stage banter and upside down flower crosses. I’m glad I was given two years notice that Brand New were hanging it up, because it’s going to take me at least that long to prepare my tear ducts for that final tour. Because they’ve been on our minds this week, I decided I should probably devote one of our ultimate setlist playlists to the band.
A few weekends ago, I was able to attend Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to being held in one of the best cities I have visited on the East Coast thus far, Shaky Knees also had the added benefit of putting on the most killer festival lineup this side of Riot Fest. With fantastic sets across all of the days and stages from the earliest Sunday doldrums (more on that later) to the main stage headlining acts. Below you’ll find my 10 favorite things from the festival along with some photos I took over the weekend.
A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to attend the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a high-energy weekend filled with great bands (both up-and-coming and established). One of the best bands I saw was Polyenso, who played an early Saturday set on the Buford Highway stage. Afterward, I got to sit down for a bit and chat with the band about their new record The Pure In The Plastic, what they’re anticipating most from their upcoming tour with PVRIS, and how their songs change in a live setting.
A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to attend Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. While there, I got a chance to catch The Front Bottoms on Friday afternoon. Their set was one of the best I saw all weekend, and after, we got a chance to sit down and chat with them about a variety of topics (including a possible The Front Bottoms craft beer).
Surely by now you have heard the good word: almost two years ago, Anthony Green rejoined Saosin, the band he fronted back in the early to mid-2000s, for a series of long-awaited headlining dates. It was unknown at the time whether the band would ever reconvene for a proper full-length with Green on vocals. But sure enough, here we are in 2016, and Saosin has just released Along The Shadow, their first full-length in seven years. The titular shadow could well refer to the dark specter of expectation that looms over this comeback album.