Review: P.O.S. – Never Better

P.O.S. - Never Better

Growing up in Minneapolis, Stefon Alexander latched onto bands like At The Drive-In, Refused, Kid Dynamite, and the hardcore scene. Combine this with his affinity for basement shows and after-class rhymes, and it’s no surprise to see how Pissed Off Stef, or P.O.S. for short, came to be. One of the founding members of Doomtree, P.O.S. has released two very loud and vocal albums on Rhymesayers, and his third album, Never Better, is no exception. Chunky bass lines, intense drumming, and bombastic beats pace the fifteen-track voyage into the mind of P.O.S. His rage, wit, and social criticisms flow freely throughout, and P.O.S. has, dare I say, never sounded better. 

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Review: Fall Out Boy – Folie à Deux

Fall Out Boy - Folie à Deux

Hey, did you hear? Fall Out Boy released an album with a funky French album title. What’s up with that? Their third major label release, Folie à Deux, harnesses the band’s darker, more experimental side musically without sacrificing one shred of the sing-along choruses that shot them to stardom. As fans scramble to Google to figure out what the title means, here’s the short version. Did Pete Wentz, Pat Stump, and the gang spend too much time imitating hipsters and thumbing through French dictionaries at Starbucks? Nah. Simply put, folie à deux is a “madness shared by two,” when two people develop the same delusional disorder due to a close relationship with the other. The more you know…

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Review: A Day to Remember – Old Record

A Day to Remember - Old Record

Jeremy McKinnon is a scrawny dude. He has a thick beard and, other than some gauged ears, looks like your normal pizza delivery dude or community college dropout. But, duh, looks can be deceiving. This guy is the definition of two-in-one. He handles both the nasally melodic vocals and I’ve-got-a-werewolf-in-my-throat growls for A Day to Remember. It’s like if Jekyll and Hyde was chased by tweens in neon instead of policemen in bell-shaped hats. However, it’s fairly safe to say these stupid people are onto something. Dummies can get lucky every now and then. Yes, sure, I’m fully aware all the “smart” music fans on this site hate (like totally despise!) ADTR. Hey! All you crabbypants need to cheer up and hitch a ride on xXshaantluverXx’s bandwagon. She beat you to it, and you better believe she’s going to rub it in your face.

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Review: Forgive Durden – Razia’s Shadow: A Musical

Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow: A Musical

It was only a matter of time before a band from the “scene” would have the ambition to write and record a musical. Quite frankly, I would have expected it to be done by a band like Say Anything or Angels & Airwaves (although that would have been horrible). Instead, it is the brainchild of Thomas Dutton, the sole remaining member of Forgive Durden, a band often overlooked on the Fueled By Ramen roster.

Dutton co-wrote Razia’s Shadow with his brother, Paul. He also organized and played most of the instrumentation on the album, with former Gatsby’s American Dream drummer Rudy Gajadhar hitting the skins. To bring Razia to life though, Dutton summoned the help of many top vocalists in the scene, including Max Bemis (Say Anything), Greta Salpeter (The Hush Sound), Aaron Weiss (mewithoutYou), and Chris Conley (Saves The Day). Each guest contributed a voice to a character in the musical. 

Produced by Casey Bates, Razia’s Shadow is a thirteen track journey that tells “the story of a world divided in two by the selfish actions of a powerful and egotistical, yet insecure angel. After generations of darkness, the world is eventually brought back together by the love and sacrifice of a couple brave enough to fulfill their destinies.” Bates’ production is pristine, and along with Weiss’ narration, helps the story move crisply and cleanly. The story is winding and intimate, ripe with themes of hope, corruption, deceit, and love. I won’t be getting into the depth of Razia’s storyline because that is up to you, the listener, to interpret. Rather, I’ll discuss whether or not Dutton successfully brought his image to life.

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Interview: Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy

Let’s start with the new record – what’s the vibe like in the Fall Out Boy camp based on the reactions to the new song, the buzz around the viral campaign and so forth? Does it feel as big as everyone’s hoping for?

I guess there’s a question these days of “Why put out records anymore?” you know, like, “Why even bother?” I wasn’t really interested–I don’t think any of us were really interested in getting rich and famous–and, by virtue of putting out a new record, we will probably get more rich and famous, you know? [laughs] Which is not something I want really. So like, why really [put out an album], right? It’s because you want to say something. You want to express yourself. You have art that you need to get out. So that was really my only purpose in making a record and I’m totally stoked on it the way it is now, for sure.

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Review: Senses Fail – Life is Not a Waiting Room

Senses Fail - Life is Not a Waiting Room

It’s amazing how one album can change the public’s perception of a band. Thanks to remarkable improvements Senses Fail made with their second album, Still Searching, many changed their opinions on the New Jersey quartet. The band had found a niche, and Life Is Not A Waiting Room progresses from the themes and vibes of its predecessor. 

Senses Fail does little tinkering with their successful formula, enlisting Searching producer Brian McTernan once again to mesh the twelve tracks into a seamless journey. Still present are Garrett Zablocki and Heath Saraceno’s sick guitar riffs, as well as Dan Trapp’s persistent work behind the skins. One new wrinkle is Hot Water Music’s Jason Black temporarily filling in for the departed Mike Glita on bass. But the glue to Senses Fail is still vocalist Buddy Nielsen. Once an easy target for his vocals and lyrics, Nielson has made incredible strides in both his writing and delivery, as the whiny screams from the debut album have been replaced by unforgiving barks and his lyrics have become his own form of self-medication of anxiety and depression.

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Review: Hey Monday – Hold on Tight

Hey Monday - Hold on Tight

As far as “front females” go, I’d have to say that Hayley Williams of Paramore would be up there with my favorites. She has a great voice regardless of what people may think about her in general. What I don’t like about Williams however, is nothing that has to do with her personally, but the endless amount of comparisons to her whenever someone listens to a female fronted band. “OMG Paramore 2.0” and “Paramore rip-off1!!1” are amongst the comments I’ve witnessed regarding a pop band with a female vocalist. Part of me even thinks there could be a death metal band but as long as there was a girl singer, Paramore comparisons would be made.

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Review: House of Heroes – The End is Not the End

House of Heroes - The End is Not the End

These are troubled times we face in the world today. The turbulent stage we as not only a nation, but a world are currently helplessly cascading through is not easy. Lies fill the airwaves, trust for your government cannot be formed, truth is slowly dwindling away. What can we do, as citizens, to diminish our fears? What can we do to press on and keep hope alive?

We can press play.

That’s right – we can find a proper soundtrack that fits into our woeful and dire needs of something strong, something fearless, something honest … and House of Heroes just might be that answer we all need. The basic pop-music structure/formula is fading faster than the Yankees’ payroll – and giving off about the same results: expecting something big, yet getting nothing in return. House of Heroes aims to change this notion with their (technically) fourth proper full-length release, The End is Not the End. Heck, it’s right there in the album title: the end is not the end. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it? The resurrection of one’s true and eternal belief in all that is, will be and ever was … in popular music. And life in general too, I guess.

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Review: Plain White T’s – Big Bad World

Plain White T's - Big Bad World

Big Bad BandBig Bad AlbumGreek: The Soundtrack. There are numerous names we could all choose to plaster on Plain White T’s fourth full-length release, Big Bad World — however, the most apparent one would be “awful”. In the seemingly endless ocean of pop bands looking for high water, this Chicago quintet desperately wants to be the next Fall Out Boy (just ask clothing outlet Aeropostale), yet they come across as the group of wannabe kids who chase the bus long after it’s taken off down the road.

Praying they can bank off last year’s chart-topping success of “Hey There Delilah,” the band continues their steep decline by writing some of the cheesiest, most gimmicky songs even Kidz Bop wouldn’t consider covering — it’s simply not worth paying for the publishing rights. Is the band aware of their awkward transition from average – but tolerable – pop-rock to bubblegum pop? One can’t be too sure, but with song titles like “Natural Disaster” (an awkward song about a groupie) and “Serious Mistake,” it seems like the joke is on the listener … right?

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Review: Straylight Run – Un Mas Dos

Straylight Run - Un Mas Dos

Like Un Mas Dos, I’ll try to keep this review short and sweet. Last year Straylight Run released The Needles the Space, a great album that rewarded repeat listeners and struck a fine balance between lead vocalists John Nolan and Michelle DaRosa. In the time since, Straylight Run were dropped from Universal Records and DaRosa left the band to pursuer her solo career. Rather than allowing these losses to accumulate in a complete breakdown of the band, John Nolan, bassist Shaun Cooper, and drummer Will Noon decided to return to their roots. The e-release Un Mas Dos is a brief three song set that recalls the band’s first online release and shines a light through the haze and into their future.

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Review: Bayside – Shudder

Bayside - Shudder

The fine balance between utter disdain and hopelessness with relentless apathy is essentially what makes Long Island’s Bayside such an unclassifiable rock band. Their combination of depressing emo-centric lyricism and moody exteriors have made them one of the most easy-to-relate-to bands on the Victory roster (after all, how many of us can truly relate to the “bludgeoning” riffs and double-bass drum kicks of metalcore’s elite, hmm?). Take the dark melodic contours of Alkaline Trio, throw in the hazy optimism of Smoking Popes and add a dash of sincere melancholy (with some wicked wit for good measure), and you’ve got your basic Bayside sound.

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Review: Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger

When I read or hear about cancer survivors, they’ll sometimes describe how experiencing and overcoming cancer gave them a new sense of appreciation for life and how they carry on from day to day. After listening to The Glass Passenger, you can sense Jack’s Mannequin brain trust Andrew McMahon has developed an even deeper appreciation, as each track is lively and spirited. 

McMahon’s battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia has been well documented, so I won’t get into the details, but we’ve seen the photos and heard the stories: McMahon wasn’t going to let this thing beat him, and you can hear vibrant energy and beautiful compositions throughout The Glass Passenger, an album bursting with diversity. 

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Review: Gym Class Heroes – The Quilt

Gym Class Heroes - The Quilt

When Gym Class Heroes released 2006’s As Cruel As School Children, it wasn’t perceived immediately as being a big hit. The band had their core fan base, but the focus was more on labelmates Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, and The Academy Is…. Then the band released a remix cut of “Cupid’s Chokehold,” which was originally featured on 2005’s Papercut Chronicles. That song turned everything around for the band, as Travis McCoy and company crashed the mainstream. 

GCH look to continue that same line of success while progressing as a band with the release of The Quilt, but what we hear throughout the album is that that line is hard to toe, as the band falls off every now and then. 

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