Review: Yellowcard – The Underdog EP

Yellowcard - Underdog EP

Before basking in the mainstream success that was Ocean Avenue, Yellowcard were just another bunch of underdogs plowing through releases and member changes. The Underdog EP, which features members Ryan Key (vocals/guitar), Warren Cooke (bass), Sean Mackin (violin), Ben Harper (guitar), and Longineu W. Parsons III (drums), will regrettably remain unexplored by more casual fans the band has picked up in recent years. But those who do take the time to dig through Yellowcard’s back catalog of music will be pleasantly surprised by The Underdog EP.

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Review: Name Taken – The Silent Game

Name Taken - The Silent Game

The welcome voice of bassist/singer Chad Atkinson singing a cappella at the introduction of “The Safety of Routine” gives The Silent Game an undeniably powerful start. Atkinson’s vocals are so confident and adult that it’s hard to believe that he, along with the other members of Name Taken (drummer Bret Meisenbach and guitarists Ryan Edwards and Blake Means), were mere teenagers when they created the EP.

This trend of youthful maturity continues with “For Sunday” in which Edwards and Means shine. Ignoring the uninspired power chord conventions of their scene they chase each other across their respective fretboards forming tightly woven patterns to set the dark mood of lyrics such as ‘And God why do I blame them? / I’m begging you to forgive me.’ During the breakdown the guitar duo alternate riffs from the left speaker to the right culminating with a frenzied message from Chad made all the more urgent by the fast paced rhythm courtesy of Meisenbach. If Chad’s striking vocals in “The Safety of Routine” are the initial draw, the instrumentation on “For Sunday” is what leaves the listener begging for more.

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Review: Silverstein – Arrivals and Departures

Silverstein - Arrivals and Departures

To say I have a slight interest in Silverstein is somewhat of an understatement. It started with When Broken Is Easily Fixed. Back then, we saw a much more volatile band — perhaps verging more on screamo bands of the past like Heroin or Indian Summer rather than adhering to the number of other growing styles within the genre at the turn of the century. Despite this, there are some dead-set on railing these guys for various things simply because of their association with Victory. I’d love to sidestep into that crowd, but I can’t erase that feeling of “oh, this is something” I had when first hearing the song “November”. Come time for a third proper full-length, however, Silverstein are significantly more comfortable in the scene they’ve gradually become a staple within. Veering away from the seemingly no-limit hardcore the band grew up getting a feel for, they’ve instead implanted a sort of pop/post-hardcore venture within the confines of Arrivals and Departures

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Review: Boys Night Out – Boys Night Out

Boys Night Out - Boys Night Out

How do you follow up a concept album about a man losing his sanity and going on a killing rampage? Why, you write an album about drinking, suffering, and despair! At least that’s what Boys Night Out did with their third album on Ferret Records. The self-titled album follows up the band’s 2005 moderately successful concept album, Trainwreck, and it takes parts from that album and 2003’s Make Yourself Sick to piece together Boys Night Out. This album features the addition of guitarist Andy Lewis, the departure of Kara Dupuy, who played the synth and sang on Trainwreck, and the return of original drummer Ben Arseneau. What we find on these eleven Lou Giornado-produced tracks are intensity, catchiness, and repetition throughout. 

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Review: Paramore – Riot!

Paramore - Riot!

Oh, how I wanted to hate this album.

After the release of their debut, All We Know is Falling, I sat back and watched this band become the talk of our little website. I guess when you have a large enough group of pubescent boys together, any female immediately becomes a discussion topic. This phenomenon has led to countless threads discussing the lead singer of this band (a girl for those not in the know) and her dating habits, relative “hotness,” fashion sense, and just about any other topic not related to her band’s music. So when this album arrived in my mailbox, I was, to put it mildly, not in the mood to give it the time of day. So I did the rational thing: I ignored it. I hid it on my shelf and pretended it never arrived. Didn’t even open the CD case once. Mature? I know.

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Review: Straylight Run – The Needles The Space

Straylight Run - The Needles The Space

Straylight Run has always frustrated me. Ever since hearing those 6 self-released demos in 2003, I have been waiting and waiting for this band to awe me, to release a great record. But 2004’s self-titled release, which had a handful of great songs, was too produced and unfocused, while 2005’s EP “Prepare To Be Wrong” was a step in the right direction, but too short to have any lasting impact on me. But with their second full-length (and major label debut), Straylight Run have finally wowed me. 

The Needles The Space displays the new musical direction Straylight Run have gone in. Instead of drowning their songs with piano-heavy melodies seen on past releases, they experiment and dive into using different instruments to create a fuller, richer sound than ever before. Produced by the band and engineered by Bryan Russell and Mike Sapone, Straylight Run achieves the sound they’ve been aiming at throughout their career. While some fans may complain about the production (similar to how many complained about the brilliant production on Thursday’s last release), it is the sound the band wanted, and if the tracks were produced anymore than what they are, I believe it lose the luster and impact each track possesses. 

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Review: The Swellers – My Everest

The Swellers - My Everest

For many, the high temperatures and blaring rays of sunlight of the summer solstice mean a couple things: parties, water and pop-punk music. I know for me, many summers meant I would be riding around town, windows down, stereo turned all the way up, blasting blink-182 or New Found Glory. As long as it got the girls in the car with us or down to the bonfire, we didn’t care.

As seasons change and my age has taken me out of my carefree teenage years, I find summer lacking the same energy as it once did. While I still enjoy cranking up Enema of the State and Ocean Avenue on a crisp, clear sunny day, I find that my real energy comes from straight-up punk rock.

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Review: Cary Brothers – Who Are You

Cary Brothers - Who You Are

“Zach Braff-core.”

That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I think I may just coin that phrase.

The term is not only applicable because Cary Brothers (first name Cary, last name Brothers) has had tracks appear on famed Zach Braff projects such as the Garden State Soundtrack (“Blue Eyes”) and the Last Kiss Soundtrack (“Ride”), nor is it only applicable because my first introduction to the artist was via a karaoke scene in Scrubs (Season 4: Episode 4 – “My First Kill”). No, the term can be used to accurately describe the sound of the artists deemed worthy of its association. I think you know what I’m talking about — moody, emotional music — maybe a little too mainstream to be indie yet a little too indie to be mainstream. The kind of music that fits the soundtrack to a movie so perfectly because you can also picture it as the soundtrack to your life. It’s the music that plays in your head before that first kiss with a new crush, and the music that radiates in your ears as you walk home after they break your heart. It’s the kind of music you can tie to memories so vividly that repeated listens conjure the smells, the tastes, and the other sensory images of the best (and worst) days of your life.

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Review: Circa Survive – On Letting Go

Circa Survive - On Letting Go

There can be a great deal of expectations for a sophomore record – especially when a lot of people questioned if said record would ever even come to fruition. Luckily for fans, Circa Survive is indeed the “real deal” and not just some one-off creative sidebar for prolific frontman Anthony Green. So, riding the wave of success from the well-received Juturna, and an exhaustive tour schedule, the band is back with the hotly-anticipated On Letting Go to show just where they have been the past two years and what they have brought back with them.

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Interview: Paramore


It’s no secret that the members of Paramore have come under a scrutinizing eye. Be it their steadily mounting popularity or their front-girl with a solid and inspiring set of tubes, Hayley, Josh, Jeremy and Zac take it all on with a new album, titled Riot!, in tow. What happens if the album leaks? Who’s bothered by the over-concentration/near-objectification of Hayley and not on the music? What does Paramore blow up when they’re bored in the studio? Read on to find out. A big thanks goes out to Catharine McNelly at Atlantic for all her help, as well as Hayley and Josh for taking time to sit down with 

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Review: The Dear Hunter – Act II: The Meaning Of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading

The Dear Hunter – Act II: The Meaning Of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading

Concept albums offer up one hell of a tricky proposition. They are essentially the 7-10 split of music, where artists generally have to choose between having an album with artistic authenticity, or one that actually sounds good. Now, take that slippery slope and multiply it six-fold and you can have a hint of the battle Casey Crescenzo and company are facing with their now-unfurling multi-act epic – the story of The Dear Hunter.

For those of us who took the time to listen to, and appreciate, Act I: The Lake South, The River North EP, chances are you were taken a little off guard by just how damn solid the release was. Treated to thirty-nine meaty minutes of music-set storytelling, the listener is easily swept away into the parallel universe in which the work resides. And to be sure, most of us enjoyed every single second of it. While good for the EP itself, the fidelity of the release gave rise to some pretty inflated expectations for the then-upcoming LP. So, one main question still remains – how does it stack up? The answer is “brilliantly,” as Act IIshatters all existing expectations and blows even its EP and demo predecessors out of the water.

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Review: Cassino – Sounds of Salvation

Cassino - Sounds of Salvation

There were few band breakups in the modern music scene that jerked more tears than that of Northstar. When the Pollyanna-crafting artists hung it up in 2005, there was a collective sense of shock, disbelief, and overarching sadness left to be swallowed by the band’s many fans. Luckily enough, for Nick Torres and Tyler Odom, the breakup of Northstar was just the dissolution of a band they felt was no longer making a relevant style of music. The scene ended up losing the moniker as well as the group’s style of sardonic, thoughtful rock, but the gifts of Torres and Odom have lingered to give birth to Cassino, the duo’s new brainchild, which arrives with the most satisfying of results.

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