Butch Walker Week

Butch Walker

Once upon a time, I had a lot more time to write about music than I do now!

In 2013, about a year after I joined the staff at AbsolutePunk, I decided I’d take on a project called “Butch Walker Week.” The basic idea was that I’d go back and write about every Butch album, from the records with his former band Marvelous 3 up to his solo output, in the week leading up to his then-new EP Peachtree Battle. That project ended up running 11 reviews and about 16,000 words of text.

When Jason started reviving old AbsolutePunk content to post here on Chorus, I knew I wanted to resurrect this feature. Butch Walker has been one of the absolute constants in my musical evolution for the past 15 years. Getting to write about all his records back then was super fulfilling (and even earned some Twitter recognition from the man himself). Reading back through these reviews reminded me how much these albums meant to me (and how much they continue to mean to me now). So whether you’re familiar with Butch’s work or just thinking about listening to him for the first time, I hope you’ll give these old write-ups a look!

Read More “Butch Walker Week”

Back to 2014 (Re-Ranking the Best of Lists)

Back to ...

This week has us traveling back to 2014. Only one more week left after this, and we will be caught up with when Chorus launched in 2016. These last few weeks have an interesting feel to them, they’re far enough away where there’s a distance, but six years is still close enough where it doesn’t feel as much like the past as the previous dives.

Looking at AbsolutePunk’s 2014 list fills me with a wide range of emotions. The year itself, for music, is one that I’ll always hold dear. I loved that Noah Gundersen record. Taylor Swift released 1989 and was starting to cement herself as the artist of a generation. Bleachers released their debut. Copeland were back. Against Me! dropped an all-time classic. The Gaslight Anthem were polarizing. And a new group of bands were starting to make waves. From Joyce Manor, to PUP, to Modern Baseball, to The Hotelier cementing themselves as one of the ‘next great bands in our scene.’ And I’m also thinking back to 2014 and all the turmoil that was taking place not just in the scene but also in the AbsolutePunk offices. Drew Beringer had a fun little rant in the forums last week about being hired at the Spin office and the cluster fuck of mismanagement and organizational failures. This was, for lack of a more colorful phrase, the beginning of the end. I had an entire new version of the website designed, built, and coded, and I couldn’t get it launched. It was then that I gave up fighting the battles. I couldn’t even keep track of who was in charge anymore, or who was running what, so I went into “put the head down, do the work” mode. And the joy of something I had been doing since I was a teenager was sucked completely out of each day of work. I went through the motions and started daydreaming about what my next steps were going to be.

Read More “Back to 2014 (Re-Ranking the Best of Lists)”

Liner Notes (July 31st, 2020)

Sunflower

This week’s newsletter shares my favorite pop-punk album of the year so far. Gasp! Pop-punk in 2020? I also go through some thoughts on music and entertainment I enjoyed over the past week, and share a playlist and pizza toppings. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.

Read More “Liner Notes (July 31st, 2020)”

This article is available exclusively to supporting members of our website. Join now for as little as $3 per month and get access to exclusive content and a variety of other great perks (like removing all ads and unlocking a dark mode theme). Plus, you'll be helping an independent publisher. Learn more here.
(Current members can log in here.)

On Taylor Swift and the Myth of “Limited Space”

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift album cycles are starting to feel like Fall Out Boy lyrics circa 2005: Which came first, the music Taylor Swift record or the misery discourse? And I’m like, I just, I mean… this is exhausting, you know? 

This time around, Taylor did something very new (for her). In a move that honestly only really works for the highest rollers in entertainment, she surprise-unleashed a 16 track full length, titled folklore, on the unsuspecting internet at large. Response was massive, immediate, and polarizing. For a huge number of listeners, both in the private and critical spheres, this release has been lauded as one of her best yet. It credits indie heavyweights Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon on the track “exile,” and the record’s production has The National’s Aaron Dessner all over it. To the more casual Swift listener–or to be exact, the “I’ve heard her singles, and that’s it” listener–this venture into the world of “indie” is out of character and out of left field, and as a result… feathers have been ruffled. And as tends to be the case with these things, the resulting discourse has, yet again, overwhelmingly failed to validate its own complaints. As usual with Taylor, it does this by focusing on snippy critiques mired more in misogyny than in the actual issues at play here.

Read More “On Taylor Swift and the Myth of “Limited Space””

Back to 2013 (Re-Ranking the Best of Lists)

Back to ...

The early versions of these “back to” articles felt like I was looking at a distant past, a version of myself that was so far removed from who I am today, a version doing things I can only remember around the edges. More the shape of memory, less defined lines. This year we get to 2013, only a couple years from the end of this iteration of this project.1 I look at the staff’s 2013 best of list and the memories around these albums feel fresh in my mind. I remember the buzz around The National. I remember The Wonder Years destroying our web server with the most-streamed song premiere we ever did. To date, that song’s been streamed over a half a million times on Soundcloud. I remember the return of Fall Out Boy, the legal drama of A Day to Remember, the My Chemical Romance hiatus, and my utter obsession with this new band called The 1975.

Read More “Back to 2013 (Re-Ranking the Best of Lists)”

  1. I have an idea of what I am going to do once we get to 2015.

Liner Notes (July 24th, 2020)

Phone

This week has thoughts on Taylor Swift, Neon Trees, bad violin playing in movies, and much more. Plus, there’s a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.

Read More “Liner Notes (July 24th, 2020)”

This article is available exclusively to supporting members of our website. Join now for as little as $3 per month and get access to exclusive content and a variety of other great perks (like removing all ads and unlocking a dark mode theme). Plus, you'll be helping an independent publisher. Learn more here.
(Current members can log in here.)

ZIMINY – “Summer Nights” (Video Premiere)

Ziminy

Today I’m pleased to premiere the new lyric video from ZIMINY, the electro-synth project from former AWOLNATION bassist Dave Amezuca. This song, “Summer Nights” has a vibe fully entrenched in the 60’s-80’s noteworthy artists such as Elton John, The Doors, Chicago and David Bowie, but with a more modern twist.

Amezuca has drawn inspiration from other modern artists such as Cage the Elephant, Tame Impala, as well as his old stomping grounds in AWOLNATION. Amezuca had this to say about his current project’s direction:

It’s strange it’s taken 10 years of playing music professionally to sit in the chair that sort of started it all for me. I would consider the direction of the sound direction-less, or no genre, as I have so many influences that will inspire a different shade of a song. To start things off, I wanted to introduce something that feels old and new at the same time. There’s a clear 80’s formula found in ‘Summer Nights,’ however I hope the take away is that of a fresh perspective. I was inspired by Stranger Things. You feel like you’ve been transported to the 80’s, but at the same time you also know it’s 2020. It’s just works, and you love it. That was my approach with ‘Summer Nights.’ However the Love Language LP covers many different textures, feelings and attitudes. My inspirations are varied so I wanted to bring them all together in one place. I’m very eager to share this music with the world 

If you like this song as much as I do, you can pre-save the track on Spotify. ZIMINY’s debut LP, Love Language will be available everywhere music is sold on August 21st.

Read More “ZIMINY – “Summer Nights” (Video Premiere)”

Back to 2012 (Re-Ranking the Best of Lists)

Back to ...

2012, only eight years ago, but it feels so much further away. It was the year the world was supposed to end, and yet the current state of things feels far more apocalyptic than almost anything from 2012.

Looking at the AbsolutePunk list from this year throws me in two different directions. First, it’s a year with a lot of really great rock albums. From The Menzingers, The Gaslight Anthem, Japandroids, Every Time I Die, and many others. And second, it’s the year of Fun.’s Some Nights. For whatever reason, I forgot that all of this was happening at the same time. In my head, I never associated The Gaslight Anthem’s Handwritten happening while Fun. was blowing up across the country. It’s weird how time can play tricks on your brain like that.

At a high level, this staff complied list feels pretty representative of where the music scene was in 2012 and where we, as a publication, were starting to try and branch out a little more with our musical tastes. You see Taylor Swift’s Red on this list, an album that would do very well in our best of the decade list. And you also will find Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar making appearances.1 And then it’s also a year where a lot of heavier music and scene staples were putting out releases. Every Time I Die released Ex Lives, Code Orange Kids released Love is Love / Return to Dust, and Yellowcard put out Southern Air next to Anberlin’s Vital. Whereas last week had me coming to the realization that a lot of the albums in 2011 were great albums that often ended up becoming my least favorite of the bands’ respective catalog, looking at my list from this year is virtually the opposite. This is the year of albums that would, in time, make a run as being my favorite release from some of the bands that feature. It’s my favorite Japandroids record, I think I’ve come to conclude it’s my favorite Yellowcard record, it’s my favorite Every Time I Die record, it’s my favorite All-American Rejects record, and mewithoutYou, Now, Now, Stars, and The Menzingers all make a case as well. I don’t think it’s my favorite The Gaslight Anthem record, but there are times where I think it’s the best Gaslight Anthem record. When I think about the run The Gaslight Anthem had, and include Brian’s work with The Horrible Crowes, it feels like everything was leading to that record. And along with with Fun.’s Some Nights, it is probably what I most associate the year with in my head.

Read More “Back to 2012 (Re-Ranking the Best of Lists)”

  1. And it was the year of that one Mackelmore album everyone kind of liked for a while.

Interview: Tom Mullen

Tom Mullen

This past week, I was able to have an enlightening conversation with Tom Mullen (of the Washed Up Emo podcast) ahead of him releasing the next Anthology of Emo book. In this interview, Tom and I chatted about what the word “emo” means to him today, the process he goes through for preparing for an interview or podcast, and vivid memories Tom has of experiencing emo culture. As much as I know about emo and punk music, Tom Mullen puts my knowledge to shame with his expansive understanding and first-hand experience of the scene, and I learned a great deal from just a short conversation with him.

The first volume of Anthology of Emo was wildly successful and it sold out its initial run of physical copies. Volume Two features exclusive interviews from his Washed Up Emo podcasts with artists such as Jim Adkins from Jimmy Eat World and Chris Conley from Saves the Day, among many others. Both Volume One (reprinted) and Volume Two are available for pre-order here.

Read More “Tom Mullen”

Drew Beringer’s AbsolutePunk.net Reviews

AbsolutePunk.net

Hey remember AbsolutePunk.net? Once upon a time I used to write a lot of reviews. Hard to believe, I know. Jokes aside, Twitter and Jason’s “Re-Ranking The Decades” series dialed up the nostalgic side of me. I wanted to see if I still had some of the reviews I’d written over the past decade or so. Turns out, my iCloud Drive has a lot. Now I won’t be re-publishing every thing I’ve ever written (some of these documents deserve to stay buried in the depths of my hard drive), but I wanted to share the reviews that brought about a ton of lively discussion and debate on the records that defined that site and a lot of our musical interests. Cool? Cool. Now to see if I can bring back scene points….

UPDATE • Jul 22, 2020

Three new (old) reviews re-added:

I’ll update this post as I continue to bring back some of these reviews from the graveyard. Enjoy!

Encore: Best of 2005 (Re-Ranking) (#162)

Encore Logo

I’ve decided to try something a little different and see how it works. I recorded an audio version of my “Back to 2005” article from a few weeks back and have pushed it out to the Encore podcast feed. I’ve heard from quite a few people that they’d like to see the featured articles (and even the weekly newsletter) in an audio form.1 So, I’m going to start playing around with a few new ideas and see what happens. With the current pandemic and quarantine rules, I’ve got the time.

Comments are, of course, welcome. And if this is something you’d like me to be able to do on a consistent basis, please consider becoming a supporting member of the website.

Read More “Encore: Best of 2005 (Re-Ranking) (#162)”

  1. The written word just doesn’t travel as far these days.

Liner Notes (July 17th, 2020)

Beach

On Fridays we write newsletters. This week I share things I found interesting and some thoughts on music and entertainment. There’s also a playlist of ten songs you should check out and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.

Read More “Liner Notes (July 17th, 2020)”

This article is available exclusively to supporting members of our website. Join now for as little as $3 per month and get access to exclusive content and a variety of other great perks (like removing all ads and unlocking a dark mode theme). Plus, you'll be helping an independent publisher. Learn more here.
(Current members can log in here.)

Back to 2011 (Re-Ranking the Best of Lists)

Back to ...

I used to think about the idea of ‘re-living’ a year. The mental game of knowing what you know now, and seeing what differences you could make in your life with various changes and the superpower of hindsight. After 2020, I don’t think about that much anymore; there are years that should be burned and the ground they’re buried within salted and forgotten. 2011 is a year like that for me; a year I’d spend years getting over.

As I look over the AbsolutePunk staff list from 2011, I’m reminded most of all these little dramatic moments this year inspired. Blink-182 finally released their reunion album, Neighborhoods, and it was instantly polarizing. Was it a great return? Was it garbage? Did the band desperately need an outside producer? Should they be forced to all be in a room writing together? It was virtually instant drama, swift speculation, and all of the excess noise seemed to hum louder than any real discussion of the music itself. And that wouldn’t be the only polarizing release this year. Thrice released Major/Minor, the only album of theirs I don’t unequivocally love, and would soon after take a hiatus. Thursday released No Devolución, a record many thought was a departure from their core sound (but one I’ve long championed as their best work), and then would also take a hiatus. Manchester Orchestra would release Simple Math, and to this day, I can’t tell you what the consensus around that album is. Is it loved? Hated? I feel like I’ve read every single take about that album and still don’t know how it’s thought of within the Manchester Orchestra fanbase. Patrick Stump went solo with Soul Punk, and arguments of selling out and comparisons to Fall Out Boy were inevitable. And then there were The Dangerous Summer at peak Drama Summer. They were one of the buzziest, most talked about, and most adored within our community bands. But those assholes just couldn’t seem to get out of their own way. War Paint is an undeniable album, but I look at my list from 2011, and I have it all the way down at number twenty-eight. I just couldn’t divorce the antics from the music and was so sick of their shit.

Read More “Back to 2011 (Re-Ranking the Best of Lists)”