After the emotional toll 2016’s Stage Four took out of Jeremy Bolm, Lament feels like the Touché Amoré vocalist finally coming up from under the weight of that record for some much needed air. “Stage Four was a mandatory record for my well-being,” explains Bolm. “I wasn’t as focused on doing everything perfect as I was doing it to feel better.” Lament is the band putting in the best work of their decade-plus career – if there’s been one constant about Touché Amoré, it’s that the Los Angeles-based band has always given a shit. From the art direction to the visuals to the actual music, nothing about this band is ever half-assed, so it makes total sense why the quintet would seek out “The Godfather of Nu-Metal” Ross Robinson (a man who’s had his hands on little-known records like Korn’s self-titled album, Iowa, Relationship of Command, Worship & Tribute – just to name a few of the records that completely changed aggressive music) to produce the band’s fifth album. Robinson pushed Touché to their absolute best, resulting in some of the most challenging yet rewarding, genre-pushing music of 2020. “I can comfortably say I’m proud of this album more than any other in our discography,” says Bolm. Below, we discussed working with Robinson, how the Andy Hull collaboration came about, and the genesis behind the best Touché Amoré songs ever.Read More “Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amoré”
Heading back to reflect on 2003 is going to be a difficult one.
It’s arguably one of the most critical years in my musical journey, but that comes with some scars. This week we continue the trek by exploring the end of my sophomore year of college, that summer, and into the start of my junior year. AbsolutePunk has shed its fan-page skin and become a website for all the music I want to talk about, and it’s starting to see traffic on levels I never expected. I’m running it from my dorm room; I’m getting so much mail I get banned from the college post office, in class I’m sketching new ideas for what I want to do next with the website, between classes I’m updating it from the computer lab with news.
Things are getting a little wild.
And then, in the span of these next couple of years, the scene explodes like a thunderclap.
It’s difficult to properly put this year in context because the albums coming out feel like rapid fire on reflection. There’s so many. And so many of them that had a massive influence on the music scene, and me personally, that it’s virtually impossible to talk about all of them. Albums like Thursday’s War All The Time and Further Seems Forever’s How to Start a Fire could be deconstructed in entire articles. I could tell stories about how I was convinced Matchbook Romance was about to blow up and late-night AIM chats with the band about signing to Epitaph and coming up with their new band name. This is the year of AFI’s Sing the Sorrow and The Ataris’ one dance in the spotlight with So Long, Astoria. It’s the year of Rufio’s inexplicably recorded vocals and MCMLXXV. And it’s the year of Ben Gibbard flexing with Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism and The Postal Service’s Give Up. I mean, get the fuck out of here with that Ben!
I could write treatises about all of those albums and more. They all had an outsized impact on my life, who I became, and the kind of music I enjoy. But to really deconstruct my musical taste and the music scene’s trajectory as a whole, I need to focus on a specific five.Read More “My Nostalgia – 2003”
I never thought I’d be excited that it’s raining.
This week’s newsletter has some thoughts on music and entertainment I enjoyed this week, some thoughts on iOS 14, and a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed. 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 (September 18th, 2020)”
Today we’re excited to be premiering the new video from Broken Glowsticks for their song “Dancing on My Own.” Broken Glowsticks is the new side project from AJ Perdomo of The Dangerous Summer. The song is available on all streaming platforms and up at Molly Water Music for purchase.
AJ had this to say about the new project:
Read More “Broken Glowsticks – “Dancing On My Own” (Video Premiere)”
This is the new track from my side project Broken Glowsticks, this will be an outlet I use quite frequently in parallel to The Dangerous Summer in order to exercise my songwriting muscles. I spend a lot of hours working on songs that I worry may never see the light of day unless I create a new outlet for them. I want to have fun in this space; I think the second single will shock people a lot more, but this is my nice introduction into the world I am creating. Produced by Will Beasley, drums by Aaron Gillespie, and music video by Nick Marfing of Altamira Films. Leaving Hopeless and starting Molly Water Music really opened up my creative side, and maybe I am crazy, but I want a place for me and my friends to release whatever we feel. I think the quicker I can get my words into the listeners’ ears; we will be that much closer to something that is real.
Last week’s article in this series felt like a turning point. 2001 was the year I left home, went off to college, experienced 9/11, and turned AbsolutePunk into a website about more than just two bands. And now, looking at 2002, the years start to blend into a period that’s less defined by where I was in school. Previously, each year correlated well with each grade of school, but now in college, things are more mixed. 2002 is roughly sophomore year of college, but there are parts of it anchored to the surrounding grades as well. This leads to my memory being slightly blurred when trying to pull what exactly happened when together; however, one thing is crystal clear. 2002 is a year when pop-punk and our scene absolutely exploded1 in popularity.
It’s 2002. I’m 19. I’m now in my second year in sunny southern California, and I am playing a part in all its stereotypes. Bleached blonde tips, puka shells, hoop earrings, Atticus, Rip Curl, and Macbeth clothing pouring off me like surfer wannabe syrup. I’ve been indoctrinated into the slang. I now know it’s “soda” and not “pop.” The previous summer back home was one of the most interesting in my life. Everyone coming back from their first year of college and meeting up, almost itching to show off the changes. The shy kids who are now the life of the party. The previously unpopular groups are bursting with confidence after a year away from the chains of high school labels. The roles and friendships rekindled. And everyone wants to share their drinking/smoking weed stories. Everyone has become a mini-mixologist in their first year away and is dying to tell you about it. It’s glorious; it’s hilarious; it’s summer.
And now, as I start the new school year, I feel like I’m settling into college life. My college roommate and I install an air conditioning unit in our dorm room that is so old it looks like it’s part of the building. While everyone else gets in trouble for their new, modern units, we go unnoticed and spend the year with the only air-conditioned room in the entire hall. I also discover that the cable TV that runs through the dorm (that we’re supposed to pay for) is simply a box in the ceiling that you can just plug right in if you have the right cables and adapters. So we do. And we now have free cable. It’s a year of immaturity, hijinks, and tales that we re-tell time and time again while laughing at the absurdity of our youth. I honestly can’t believe some of the stuff we got away with. And around us, there’s a pop-punk utopia blossoming. Not that far away, Drive-Thru Records is pumping out the height of their catalog (teamed with MCA Records). [deep breath] The Starting Line release their debut album, Midtown release Living Well is the Best Revenge, New Found Glory release Sticks & Stones, Home Grown release Kings of Pop, Allister releases Last Stop, Suburbia, Something Corporate drops Leaving Through the Window, Finch releases What it is to Burn, and The Early November release their EPs. [exhale]
And that’s just the stuff related to that label.Read More “My Nostalgia – 2002”
I’ve been writing this newsletter every week, missing none, since at least July of 2018. Today when I sat down to write, I found myself staring at a blinking cursor and trying to find the motivation to make my fingers make words on the black screen. I did my best. 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 (September 11th, 2020)”
The cliché goes that the music you listen to in your most formative years is the music that will stay with you forever. And, while the past couple of weeks have touched on some of the most important years of my life, nothing comes close to 2001 in terms of “formative.”
It’s 2001. I’m 18. At the beginning of the year I’m completing my senior year of high school. At this age, I’m well aware it’s always been expected of me to go to college; that’s just what you do after high school. But it was never a huge draw or goal for me. School felt like such a waste of time. I felt like I was on the frontlines of technology, the internet, and all I wanted to do was spend hours online exploring and learning about computers and programming while listening to pop-punk music and eating Red Vines. The idea of four more years of sitting in class felt positively soul-sucking, but there was no way in hell I wanted to stay and live at home with my parents either. I wanted out. And I wanted to go to sunny California, somewhere the polar opposite of the rain-soaked Oregon I had known my entire life. Somewhere I associated with all these punk bands in my CD collection. So I applied only to colleges in California and one of the Oregon schools as a back-up. The University of Redlands offered me the most money. The campus was gorgeous, it was in southern California, and that was good enough for me. I knew I would be leaving my childhood friends behind, they’d scatter to other schools across the country, and I’d be leaving my girlfriend.1 But I needed to get out. Desperately.Read More “My Nostalgia – 2001”
There was an ill-fated attempt at long distance, but that was a horribly stupid idea.↩
First impressions of the new Acceptance album, more impressions of the new Slick Shoes album, and all sorts of heaping praise for Ted Lasso. All that, and more, in this week’s newsletter. Plus, as always, a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. 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 (September 4th, 2020)”
As I’ve been spending some time bringing back some of the old AbsolutePunk reviews, interviews, and diving into my musical history via the “My Nostalgia” and “Back to…” series, I’ve been compiling pieces of the AP.net history together with things I’ve had in folders on my hard drive over the years. I’ve been able to piece together screenshots of various quality from quite a few of the years, and figured putting them online with commentary about what I remember from each “design” would be a fun way to preserve some of that history. Unfortunately so much of the early years is lost to time. I never even thought to keep archives.Read More “AbsolutePunk.net Throughout the Years”
In hindsight, the year 2000 is the last year I lived without an overarching feeling of cynicism toward the world. The year 2000 is also where my musical collection exploded to multiple giant binders of CDs filled with youth-defining pop-punk albums. And the year 2000 is when I first registered the AbsolutePunk.net domain name.
It’s the year 2000. We just survived the hype of Y2K and all the fears of computers crashing and arguments about if the millennium starts now or next year. I’m 17. I’m a junior in high school and obsessed with Blink-182 and MxPx. Blink-182 had released Enema of the State the previous year and would drop their monster single, “All the Small Things,” in January. Their popularity and fame would skyrocket as a result. My online life had just begun; I’m playing around with a hilariously ugly website that I have called “Absolute Punk,” and spending most of my evenings on AIM talking with friends and making new ones to share music with. And this is where I start to see my musical tastes coalesce around a few new themes.
First, because of MxPx, I’m getting really into various bands on Tooth & Nail and adjacent labels — the so-called “Christian bands.” This includes Slick Shoes with Wake Up Screaming, Craig’s Brother’s Homecoming, and a new online friend really into this music telling me about this album from a band called Relient K that, in their words, “are like if Blink-182 didn’t sing about dicks and cuss and had way more harmonies.” I ended up finding the album in a Christian bookstore and was immediately annoyed at it coming in this weird nonstandard plastic case that didn’t fit on my shelves. However, I was hooked moments later as the music blared from my car as I sped down the highway playing it through one of those CD to cassette audio adapters. Many of my musical memories from this era are tied to that car, that hilarious CD player jammed between the seats, and colossal CD binders shoved underneath them. From picking up my two friends on the way to school each morning, to making lunch dashes, to cruising around the town after school, or on weekends, trying to find any excuse for us not to go home quite yet. Homecomings, a prom, basement video game marathons of Perfect Dark with friends, and all kinds of teenage “firsts.” It’s all soundtracked in my head by the albums of this era. These memories all go hand-in-hand with the albums I was drawn to at the time. I wanted something bouncy, loud, fast, and fun. Something with some energy. Probably something talking about teenage life and heartbreak. And 2000 delivered music of that variety, in spades.Read More “My Nostalgia – 2000”
This week’s newsletter looks at my two favorite albums this week: Ruston Kelly and PVRIS, and shares some early thoughts on the new Slick Shoes album. There’s also commentary on other music I like this week and the entertainment I consumed. Plus, as always, a playlist of ten songs I liked and all that jazz. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.
Goalkeeper are a pop-punk band out of Philadelphia signed to Lost Music Collective. They’ll be releasing their new EP, Life in Slow Motion, on September 25th. The album produced by Kevin Mahoney of Hit The Lights/Joywave, engineered by Will Pugh of Cartel, and mixed & mastered by Seb Barlow. Like pop-punk? You’re probably gonna like this.Read More “Goalkeeper – “Just Say it” (Video Premiere)”
1999 was the year we all got enemas.
If 1998 was the year I first felt the pull to music and the idea that a band and a sound could be my very own, 1999 was the year I saw what happened when that feeling went mainstream. In 1999 Blink-182 released Enema of the State and blew the fuck up. Over the years, people have asked me why I think this album, and this band, had the impact they did on so many people and why they were the ones to help bring this sound into the mainstream. I don’t really have the answer to that question, but what I do know is my story and why the band resonated with me in the way it did. I can only extrapolate outward from the reasons I ended up with posters of the band all over my wall and more Hurley t-shirts than any one child should own.
It’s 1999. I’m on the precipice of turning 16. The previous year was one of the most formidable for my young music tastes. I discovered punk and pop-punk music for the first time and began diving into anything that sounded remotely in that genre. I have my first real girlfriend. I have my first real “heartbreak.” Both are textbook examples of young stupidity and arrogant jealousy. Neither are helped by listening to music that reinforces the idea that girls are there to break my heart, and I’m the one that’s been wronged in all situations if my emotions have been hurt.1 Blink-182 and specifically Enema of the State played into this disaffected suburban youth mentality perfectly. It was a band and album that rebelled just enough and showcased what I wanted to believe I could be: a cool guy that just likes to goof around and have fun with my friends. Some girls try too hard; I’m just out there acting immature and weird for the laughs; where’s my dog? It’s a combination of music (catchy, fast, pop but with just enough of an edge to be cool), aesthetic (clothes, attitude, southern California vibe), and mentality (fuck it let’s just dick around, adults be damned), that was utterly addicting to a sixteen-year-old in suburban Oregon. And I ate it all up. I still remember begging my mom to pick the album up for me on release day so it would be there when I got off the bus. She did. I don’t think that CD left my CD player for months after. It was everything I wanted. And it went beyond the music; I wanted to be Blink-182. When I turned on my TV, I saw Backstreet Boys, NSync, and 98 Degrees dominating TRL. And I looked at the Boy Bands and thought, “I don’t look like them, I don’t act like them, is this who I am supposed to be?” and then I saw these three dudes running around naked with spiked hair and baggy t-shirts and skater shoes and it was the first time I had a model for something different. This was all pre-internet, pre-being able to find others to look up to or model your style or life around. I had MTV, some magazines, and now this new window into a world I didn’t know existed. This southern California skate/surfer vibe was like unlocking a part of my brain that said, “there are others out there that are going through similar shit, they made it through, they’re having fun, you can too.” So right as I’m seeing this world start to open up in front of me in the form of these bands, I also go to my first concert.Read More “My Nostalgia – 1999”
A few days ago I was able to have a conversation with Ali of Fear No Empire, and we chatted about why he decided to form a new, politically-charged rock band after so many years with pop-punk band Zebrahead. Fear No Empire is Ali Tabatabaee – Vocals (Zebrahead,) Ben Ozz – Bass (Zebrahead,) Dan Palmer – Guitar (Zebrahead, Death By Stereo,) and Mike Cambra – Drums (The Adolescents, Death by Stereo and Common War). Their new single, “Revolt” captures their punk rock spirit with some hip-hop elements thrown into the mix. During my conversation with Ali, we discussed the formation of this new band, what makes Fear No Empire unique, and the recording process of their new self-titled EP that will be released this October.Read More “Ali Tabatabaee of Fear No Empire”
Lots of good music out this week. This week’s newsletter shares my thoughts on music and entertainment I enjoyed this week and has a playlist of ten songs worth checking out. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.