It’s funny how life imitates art, huh? Initially inspired by the whirlwind year prior, The Front Bottoms’ latest work In Sickness & In Flames chronicles the ups and downs of Brian Sella and Mat Uychich’s lives – marriage, emergency surgeries, and property burning down (hence the In Flames part). But then 2020 went to shit and The Front Bottoms’ fifth album has undertaken a completely new meaning (lyrics like It’s like I’m wearin’ a mask/But you could still see my face are so unintentionally poignant and just kind of sufficiently sums up the ongoing tension of this year). Produced by Mike Sapone, In Sickness & In Flames is the duo’s most genuine and well-rounded release in their decade-plus long history, meshing prior influences with bolder ideas.Read More “The Front Bottoms – In Sickness & In Flames”
When asked about the pressure of writing the follow-up to her successful debut Stranger in the Alps, Phoebe Bridgers responded with an emphatic fuck no. “I made the whole record knowing that people were going to hear it. And I made the first record being like, “I wonder if I’m going to have to get a day job after this,” Bridgers explained in a recent UPROXX interview. “Mostly I just wanted it to be better than the first record, which I think it is.” With that clearheaded mindset, Bridgers’s new record Punisher accomplishes that and more – her lyricism has never been sharper while each track features richer and deeper song textures than ever before.
With Punisher, Bridgers’s worldview continues to expand even as the world around her (and us) falls apart. Love, death, and the impending apocalypse are consistently swirling around us, and Bridgers is fiercely captivated by every detail and how they exist within everyday banalities. Her interpretations and retelling of each one is wittier and sharper than ever. “Garden Song” begins with Bridgers daydreaming of living in her friend’s “house up on the hill,” but only after implying that the white supremacist neighbor has been murdered and buried in her new garden. There’s a contentment behind the wistful opener as she reveals that “the doctor put her hands over my liver/she told me my resentment’s getting smaller,” melancholically sighing, “No, I’m not afraid of hard work/I get everything I want/I have everything I wanted.”Read More “Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher”
“And he’ll stay with me for my whole life/found the sting buried in my side,” sings Kelley Bader on “Death Is Close,” a breezy Beatles-esque number dripping in melancholy as the I’m Glad It’s You singer/songwriter references 1 Corinthians 15:55. This somber moment appears halfway through the Southern California collective’s second full-length Every Sun, Every Moon, and yet it serves as the album’s basis. Every Sun, Every Moon details the tragic van accident that took the life of SoCal videographer Chris Avis. The record serves as a requiem for the band’s mentor as well as a cathartic medium for Bader to process his grief.Read More “I’m Glad It’s You – Every Sun, Every Moon”
Imagine ever doubting Code Orange.
Three years ago, the band kicked the mainstream in the teeth with their Roadrunner Records’ debut, Forever – serving the uninhabited a taste of the group’s relentless intensity. That record broke the band into the Billboard Top 200, numerous spots on big-name festivals, countless collaborations ranging from JPEGMAFIA to Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, and ultimately a Grammy nomination. But for those aware of the Pittsburgh quintet’s work ethic, you already knew the band wouldn’t ever rest on just those laurels – a zero chance possibility that their next record would resemble its predecessor. Forever only skimmed the surface of the Grammy-nominated band’s uncompromising vision, laying the foundation to deliver their fourth full-length album Underneath – Code Orange’s most brutal and visceral music yet. It’s exactly what band leader Jami Morgan proclaimed to Rolling Stone earlier this year: “At the end of the day, that’s what we are about: disruption. down. we. go.”
In just around four months, it’ll be ten years since Baroness released their breakthrough second album Blue. A critical darling through and through, the twelve-track album explored a sound beyond metal that few if any bands could match – then and now. Over the course of their sixteen-year career, Baroness have transcended multiple styles ranging from sludge to proggy psychedelics while maintaining the aggressive sincerity that’s attracted so many passionate fans. Never a band to rest on its laurels, the Savannah, Georgia quartet once again look to reinvent their sound and re-contextualize what a metal record can be with their boldest and most triumphant effort yet – Gold & Grey.
About halfway through Angel Du$t’s jovial third album Pretty Buff, vocalist Justice Tripp is marching to his own beat on the sunny “Bang My Drum” – literally. “I asked my baby girl to stay/She left and took my drum away/Got so many feelings now/I got no way to let it out” bellows Tripp over upbeat acoustic strums and a goddamn saxophone solo. It’s a stark contrast to the Baltimore band’s pummeling 2016 release Rock The Fuck On Forever, as the band (featuring members of hardcore champions Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile) trade in the aggression for some alt-leaning pop-rock reminiscent of seminal 90s bands such as The Lemonheads, R.E.M. and the Violent Femmes.
Three years ago, Oliver Kalb chronicled the drawn-out end of a friendship in vivid detail on his band Bellows’ very good third album, Fist & Palm. Its 11 tracks acting like snapshots into the gradual descent of the relationship. Shortly after that record released the 2016 election happened, and Kalb found himself demoralized by the state of things and perplexed by the constant judgment woven within today’s society. Out of that isolation grew the inspiration for Bellows’ stunning Topshelf debut, The Rose Gardener. The metaphor – a gardener tending to a single rosebush in the dead of winter – defies what most observers would deem futile and explores the thorns to see what might still be living on the other side. Kalb is channeling all that pain from the past few years into something a bit more constructive, resembling a glimmer of optimism amongst all the struggle.
As I sit here looking at a blank page, pondering about how I’m going to approach writing about The 1975’s gargantuan third album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, I turn to my dear friend procrastination and flick open Twitter on my iPhone. After a few minutes of scrolling through an endless timeline, disgusted and amused simultaneously, I had the belated (and probably way too obvious) realization that A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is an exploration of our codependency of the things – whether it’s drugs, sex, the internet – we use to temporarily numb the sting of loneliness.
Much has been written about The 1975’s leader Matty Healy decision to spend six weeks in a rehab facility in Barbados to fight his addiction to heroin – a stint that helped Healy reflect not only on his life, but the lives he was affecting. His decision to get clean came shortly after the band started writing A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, so unsurprising a lot of the lyrical content is derived from the recovering addict’s time spent in therapy.
I hate voicemail. I hate leaving it. I hate receiving it. I always expect the worst and/or I think I sound like a total goober on the other end. Basically, it’s the one technology that gives me the most anxiety. So it’s fitting that the latest from Antarctigo Vespucci, Love in the Time of E-Mail, would begin with a song called “Voicemail,” kicking off a record that encompasses all the anxiety-ridden excitement and nervousness that comes with exploring personal relationships in a digital world.
It’s the second full-length release from the dynamic duo of Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock (the first on Polyvinyl Records). As the frontmen of two beloved underground punk bands – Fake Problems and Bomb The Music Industry! respectively – the two musicians’ profiles have risen considerably over the past few years due to incredible solo albums and headline-stealing performances. So despite having a little more buzz surrounding this release than their 2015 debut Leavin’ La Vida Loca, Antarctigo Vespucci decided to keep doing what they do best – dissecting the pop songs that defined its genre and integrating those moments into 3-minute bursts of intoxicating rock songs. The album offers a terrific mix of Rosenstock’s fuzzy punk energy and Farren’s honey-sweet melodies, resulting in the band’s best release in their 100-year career.
After the release and touring of 2015’s revelationary Pale Horses, mewithoutYou needed to find some space before the apocalypse turned inwards. Vocalist Aaron Weiss relocated to Idaho with his family, a makeshift home studio rig and MIDI keyboard while the rest of his bandmates (including his brother Mike) remained in Philadelphia workshopping new ideas with producer Will Yip. There’s that one saying, you know, that distance makes the heart grow fonder? Well for the genre-defying quintet, distance also made the creativity flow more freely than every before, while some inner-band tensions and relationship strife served as the impetus to untapped creativity and fueled the [Untitled] recording sessions with Yip, yielding 19 new songs (spanning one EP and one LP, both sharing the same name) that showcase the duality within mewithoutYou’s dazzling soundscape.
On the propulsive opener “Fever Dreams,” Emma Ruth Rundle breathlessly declares, “Fear, a feeling, is it real?/So nostalgic too, it just puts the dark on you,” immediately setting the tone on her fourth solo album, On Dark Horses, before the guitars can even come thundering through. Following up the wounded vulnerability on 2016’s Marked For Death, On Dark Horses features a restless Rundle picking up the pieces and moving forward all while creating her most visceral and personal piece of art yet.
While Marked For Death was written in isolation in the desert, Rundle collaborated with Jaye Jayle’s Evan Patterson and Todd Cook and Woven Hand’s Dylan Nadon to help flesh out her new record, giving On Dark Horses a relentless dynamic between Rundle’s intoxicating vocals and the ominous yet electrifying guitar work. The blackened folk of “Control” begins with a slow smoldering of sound before being engulfed by jolted guitar riffs, while the bluesy “Dead Set Eyes” emerges with hazy, dueling guitar interplay that Rundle’s vocals cut through like a knife.
Conor Murphy is not fucking around – the end of the world is coming soon or at least it feels like it is every single day. Murphy carries a sense of impending dread throughout his band Foxing’s spectacular third album, Nearer My God – as if all of this could collapse at any minute. So if you’re gonna square up with the apocalypse then Foxing figured they might as well throw their best punch and create a stone cold classic. And, almost out of necessity, Nearer My God is exactly that.
Yes, it’s been six years since Birds In Row unleashed their devastating Deathwish debut You, Me, & the Violence. Listeners were given a taste of what the band was up to with 2016’s frenzied EP, Personal War, which only left us salivating for more. But in an industry currently dominated by quantity over quality, it’s refreshing that the French trio (operating as single entity under a veil of anonymity just as before), took their time in releasing We Already Lost The World, one of the most punishing hardcore records in recent memory.
After a storm comes the calm. Yes, the violent winds and heavy rains of a ghastly disaster will disrupt the life surrounding it, but the calm always follows and prevails. Deafheaven’s fourth full-length album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, is that reprieve following the pulverizing storm of 2015’s New Bermuda. Unforgiving in its scope, New Bermuda was a devastating album that encapsulated all of the darkness surrounding the band after breaking through with 2013’s Sunbather. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love sets out to find the humanity within that devastation. So then maybe it’s not incredibly surprising that OCHL opener “You Without End” begins not only with striking grand piano flourishes but also with actress Nadia Kury sober reading of a short story about Oakland. In fact, George Clarke’s simmering vocals don’t enter until three minutes in, taking a backseat to Kerry McCoy’s arena-ready Queen-sized soaring guitar riffs. It’s a proper reintroduction to Deafheaven in 2018, a band that’s wiser, kinder, and more grateful than ever.
“Be kind to the bees, be kind to the bugs, be conscious of others, be careful with drugs,” recommends Culture Abuse’s vocalist David Kelling on “Bee Kind To The Bugs” before offering up this important reminder: “Be kind to yourself, even though it gets hard, don’t let the distractions stack up to the stars.” It’s that kind of mindset that flows throughout the band’s second full-length (and first on Epitaph) Bay Dream. While the band’s 2016 debut, Peach, garnered a passionate fan base, the actual events surrounding the recording were less than ideal for the band. But the continuous touring on Peach opened Kelling’s mind to how cathartic and positive and that he would be loved just by being himself.