Features

The Podcast Worm: Halloween Unmasked

Halloween Unmasked is my kind of podcast. I’m three episodes in on it, and it feels like a new take on film podcasts. Usually, I’m listening to pop culture podcasts that are discussion-based (and mostly hosted by dudes). I listen to shows like Fatman On Batman (now branded Fatman Beyond), The Watch, and Channel 33, which has a lot of sub-shows within its feed. I listen to a lot of shows from The Ringer.

Interview: Matt Nathanson Is the Most Nostalgic Guy in the Room

When Matt Nathanson started writing his new record, he had a vision. He wanted it to be political. He wanted it to be uplifting. He wanted to inspire his listeners to see a brighter future.

The songs that came out of him had other plans.

Sings His Sad Heart, the follow-up to Nathanson’s 2015 LP Show Me Your Fangs, is personal instead of political, sad instead of uplifting, and lost in thoughts about the past instead of looking forward to the future. It is a complete contradiction of the album that Nathanson wanted to make. And yet, it’s also the most at home he’s sounded on a record since 2010’s breezy Modern Love.

Then again, Nathanson has always been an artist defined by his contradictions. He’s a riotously funny and jovial live performer who makes crushingly sad records. He’s a guy who exudes confidence and charisma onstage but admits he isn’t very confident as an artist. And he’s a songwriter who’d name the happiest song on his record “Sadness.”

When I spoke to Nathanson in August, I called him “the most nostalgic guy in the room.” It’s a role I often find myself playing: the guy who digs through TimeHop every day and sends pictures and “remember this?” messages to old friends, or the guy who spends entirely too much time thinking about people he lost touch with, wondering if they ever think of him too.

Elephant Jake – “Kjerstin” (Song Premiere)

Today we’re excited to bring you New York indie rock band Elephant Jake’s newest single “Kjerstin.” If you’re a fan of bands like Modern Baseball or Nervous Dater, you’ll want to check out this ear worm of a track. Guitarist/vocalist Sal Fratto had this today about the song:

The song’s about the melancholic feelings associated with a troubled relationship. Disagreements, distance, and dissension take a toll on both parties, and both must move forward with a positive mindset and aspirations for the future. I needed a two syllable name for the chorus, and thought of a woman I consider to be another mother to me, Kjerstin. She is the mother of my high school best friends, my mother’s best friend, and the amount of love that she spreads is incomparable. Thank you for everything that you do for me. I realized that the song expresses a sense of distaste and anger, but those are the opposite of what anyone can feel toward Kjerstin. I think that’s funny.

Check it out below.

Where’s the Hype?

A conversation in the Thrice album thread got me thinking this morning. Does hype around an album even matter anymore? In the past, the idea of a hyped release meant that a lot of people would be anticipating, talking about, and building “buzz” for the release. The thinking went that the more hype around a release, the better it’d sell, then there’d be more people out on tours, you’d get bigger and better tours, and then you’re on your way. The time between announcing an album and releasing it into the world seemed to, in theory, be built around coordinating and focusing this hype as you built toward release week and getting those first week sales. But here, in 2018, does this hype really mean anything and can we measure its success?

Over the past few months I can’t think of many rock bands that had more buzz, or “hype,” than the most recent Foxing release. All the right publications were talking about it. All the right “taste makers” liked it. Premieres on all the right websites. Features were written. Cool, unique, campaigns. Awesome podcasts. And it was all backed by, in my opinion, one of the best albums so far released this year. It came, it was released into the world, and it sold just fine in the first week. (Around 3,500 copies.) So, by quite a few of the metrics we’ve always used to define what a good album rollout looks like, this one had it all. It had the buzz. It had the “hype.” It had our forums anticipating the album from announcement all the way up to the day it was released into the world. The question I started asking myself this morning was centered on if this was actually effectively better than the Thrice album rollout — which seems to have die-hard fans upset because there isn’t enough to keep them interested. And, furthermore, how do we adequately measure “hype” and if it matters in the rock or alternative music world today?

Interview: Warped Tour (Video Interviews)

I went out and talked to a variety of people and bands at Warped Tour this year. I also had some fun with some of the artists and had them respond to YouTube comments and, for fun, sing some public domain songs as well. I’ve broken up all of these interviews for your viewing pleasure.

Regular Interviews

Bands Respond to YouTube Comments

Bands Sing Public Domain Songs

Interview: William Beckett and Frank Zummo (Video Interview)

I had the opportunity to interview a few people at Emo Nite Baltimore last Saturday.

First up is Frank Zummo, drummer of the legendary band Sum 41, and he talks about inspiring young people through the “Drum Tour,” meshing genres in his set at Emo Nite, and new music from Sum 41.

I also spoke with William Beckett, formerly of The Academy Is…, and he talks about his band’s legacy in emo, making new music, and crushing on The Cure.

Interview: Adam Turla of Murder By Death

Murder by Death

Writers, much like normal human beings, have a bucket lists. The difference is, our bucket lists contain people – personalities, creators, and yes, other writers that have inspired, comforted, and confounded us with their talents. Many of them will likely remain names on our lists until the day we type our last words, but occasionally, we’re lucky enough to spend a little time with the artists who have influenced us most.

Murder By Death, the Indiana-based kings and queen of gothic folk-rock, have been on my bucket list since I first discovered their catalog a decade ago. I was 14 then, a freshman in high school stealing his older brother’s CDs  based on album artwork alone, and the idea of an album telling stories about devils and deserts was already inconceivably cool to me; the fact that this same album featured guest vocals from both Gerard Way and Geoff Rickly only cemented its importance in my mind.

Now, nearly 20 years into their career, Murder By Death exist in the kind of vacuum that contains a dedicated fanbase and a fearlessness to tell any tale they can conjur. It was then my great pleasure to speak with frontman Adam Turla about his penchant for Western-influenced storytelling, the band’s songwriting process, and of course, Murder By Death’s eighth, glam-rock inspired space opera (of sorts), The Other Shore.

Mike Herrera of MxPx (Encore Episode 158)

MxPx

As some of you may know, I started AbsolutePunk.net over 15 years ago as an MxPx and Blink-182 fan-page. Those were the first two bands I truly loved. They shaped my entire music taste and starting that website changed my life. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for those bands and those albums. Listening to “Doing Time” as a teenager gave me hope. Discovering pop-punk music and the community around it made me feel like I belonged to something special. Small, right outside of the mainstream, but undeniably special. The music was unlike anything I was listening to at the time and hit me right when I needed it most.

Last week MxPx released their new, self-titled, album. It’s their first album since 2012. Today, I’m excited to debut a new episode of Encore featuring lead singer Mike Herrera. This episode is a joint episode with Mike’s podcast, “The Mike Herrera Podcast,” which I also recommend subscribing to and checking out. In this episode we go deep on the new album. We talk about the recording process, the inspiration behind the songs, and then I walk through each song with Mike and get his thoughts on different aspects. I share some thoughts too, but mostly I was trying to get at what made this album feel so fresh, and yet so wholly MxPx, here in 2018.

We also recorded the FaceTime conversation we had doing this podcast and the video is available on the MxPx YouTube channel. I look ridiculous and my cat walks into the office to have lunch a few minutes in, but we thought being able to see each other and read and react to facial expressions would bring a fun vibe to this episode. I think it worked. This is one of my favorite episodes of the podcast I’ve ever done.

Show notes are below, the band’s new album is available on all streaming platforms, and physical copies are available at MxPx.com right now.

July 22nd, 2003

This weekend marked the 15th anniversary of one of my favorite album release dates in my lifetime. On July 22nd, 2003 both Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue and Thrice’s The Artist in the Ambulance were released. I was home between my sophomore and junior year of college and both albums imprinted on me like few ever have. Driving around my hometown, seeing old friends, reigniting old flames, these two albums became a part of my summer. AbsolutePunk.net was just becoming something I thought I wanted to do with my life and much of what that website would become was created with these two albums as the soundtrack. I was still very much trying to figure out who I was as a person, and these albums felt like a foothold of hope on the future. Watching Yellowcard’s meteoric rise, a bunch of kids that felt almost like peers, gave me a boost of confidence during a time I needed to think things could get better. The world was changing, my world was changing.

15 years later that summer remains one of the best of my life. The friendships made, the hearts broken, the speakers blown out, it all feels like a moment frozen in time. An idealized summer that probably wasn’t nearly what I’ve made up in my mind all these years later. But I hold it dear nonetheless. And when I put on Ocean Avenue, and hear “Back Home,” I’m transported back 15 years ago when that song meant everything to me. A rallying call for what my life was and a romanticized version for what I wanted it to be. And that feeling of home intersplices with the intensity of Thrice’s The Artist in the Ambulance, an album I used as an outlet for my anger at the world, at the war, at myself and all the chaos that felt just beyond the borders of my hometown. Two sides of me dueling it out through two albums released on the same day, during the same summer.

So, here’s to you July 22nd, 2003. I’ll always remember you fondly.

The Republic of Wolves – “Colored Out” (Video Premiere)

The Republic of Wolves recently filmed a video for an acoustic/alternate version of “Colored Out.” Today, we’re happy to bring it to you. The song comes from the band’s recent album, Shrine, which recently made it onto our top albums of 2018 (so far) list.

The band has been working on some new acoustic/alternative versions of other songs from the album that may see a release in the future, and, if you haven’t checked out their new album yet — you should.

Interview: Sherri DuPree-Bemis of Eisley

Eisley

I had the opportunity to interview Sherri DuPree-Bemis from the band Eisley.  We chatted about how she has developed as an artist, her family life on the road, and took a deeper dive into their upcoming acoustic record, I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past, available everywhere on July 20th via Equal Vision Records.

Underrated 2000’s Pop-Punk Playlist

For many of us in our mid-to-early 30’s, the 2000’s were the heyday of pop-punk music. It felt like new and exciting bands were coming out all the time and the internet was just starting to become the place to discover and talk about this genre. The other day I tossed out a question on Twitter to see what bands people considered the most underrated from those early years.

The responses were great.

I pulled out the ones I saw the most often and created a playlist containing, roughly in order of how often I saw the band mentioned, songs from most of the artists.1 You can find that on Apple Music and Spotify.

If you’ve never heard some of these bands before or just want to drive down nostalgia boulevard, there’s a whole lot of early 2000’s pop-punk goodness here. I’m surprised how much of it actually holds up and I’m not surprised how many of these songs I knew every single word to. I aimed for a combination of the popular songs from the bands but defaulted to my personal favorites in a few places.


  1. Then I repeat some of the artists because I wanted to include more than one song from some of the bands, but didn’t want to double up and ruin the flow. I tried to keep everything in the 1999-2005 range, and keep it in the “underrated” category, as much as possible. Let it be on the record that Blink-182 had one vote.

The Top Albums of 2018 (So Far)

I think I say this every year but fuck it – the music 2018 has blessed us with in its first six months has been extraordinary. With all the insane shit happening around us and to us in this day and age, it feels like music is the only sane thing we have. So below we have our top 20 favorite releases of the year thus far. If you can’t find something to love on this list then you just aren’t trying hard enough – this is an eclectic list that encompasses multiple genres and styles. I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings to our ears.

Note: You can share your own list in our music forum.

Interview: Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer is about to release their third-full length album, Waiting. I caught up with the band — bassist Josh Robbins, guitarist Neil Mauney, and drummer Scott Wishart – to talk about how things changed writing this album, which is out June 29th via 6131 Records, and available for purchase through their webstore.

Interview: Pat DeFrancisci of Tru

I recently had the chance to chat with frontman and guitarist Pat DeFrancisci from a band called Tru, located in New Jersey. The group has recently released an EP called Growing Pains that reminded me a lot of a mix between Weezer’s instrumentation and Stone Temple Pilots’ vocal-approach. In this interview, Pat discusses their approach to songwriting, their key influences, and the story behind the creation of the EP.

Interview: Bonnaroo Festival Video Interviews

Bonnaroo

The 2018 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival did not let weather or controversy damper its spirit. In every great show, a little rain must fall and a little angst must reign. Sunday’s festivities were delayed but not hampered after heavy rains pummeled middle Tennessee all morning. Eminem’s pyrotechnics that sounded like gunshots drew concern. (I personally was quite close, at the main rails, and ducked the first time the sonic blast happened–but not during the other two.) Some critics argued that main acts Eminem, Muse, and The Killers were not enough to pull in fans; another dig since the show was bought by Live Nation, but attendees seemed to disagree. Next year’s festival is slated for June 13-16, 2018 (purposely the weekend after the Country Music Awards).

You’ll find video interviews with a bunch of artists that played the festival below.