First Impressions

First Impression: Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises

Pale Waves

Debut albums are tricky. On the one hand, they’re the first real look most people will take at your band. Sure, you’ve released a bunch of singles, maybe even a few EPs, but the actual debut album still seems to end up being where you take all the momentum you’ve had, and make a push to build a fan base around your music. So far, Pale Waves have been doing everything right. They’ve released a variety of songs, they’ve been building some buzz, and they have locked down the style they’re going for. On the other hand, getting a debut album right means finding a collection of songs that can keep those early adopters happy (since they’ve probably overplayed a good portion of your record already) while also building around it a cohesive feeling. My first impressions of Pale Waves’, My Mind Makes Noises, is that they have a lot of really good songs, but I’m not sure they have a really good album.

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First Impression: Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed?

Alkaline Trio - Is This Thing Cursed?

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on August 29th, 2018. I’ve decided to make it free to all users of the website. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

I figured with the album coming out on Friday this was really the last time I had to try and get some early thoughts down on this album for everyone before you’ll be able to hear it. Hell, there’s always the chance this leaks while I’m typing this up. Then everyone can join in with me.

At a high-level, this album works for me more than any of their albums have since Crimson. I’ve liked the stuff that followed, but it never really captured that same magic as their earlier work. I would find myself listening to them for a few weeks (with the exception of This Addiction, which never really grabbed me), but after that, when I wanted an Alkaline Trio fix, I’d go back to Crimson or something before it. That’s just how it played out for me. I can’t predict with certainty that this is going to be an album I come back to in the future, but there’s something about it that hits me just right and gives me that feeling. There’s an energy here, a feeling of immediacy that they touched on with My Shame is True, but one that feels much more rolled into a “classic” Alkaline Trio-sounding album. This urgency to the songs is really resonating with me at the moment.

First Impression: Thrice – Palms

Thrice - Palms

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on July 19th, 2018. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

This new album from Thrice is a tricky one to pin down. I’ve spent the last week trying to figure out the best way to put into words what I think about it and, specifically, what it sounds like. I think going broadly I would describe the album has having a nice groove to it. A groove that reminds me most of Beggars, and one that doesn’t wholly eschew the rock sound they had on their last album, but instead leans into many aspects of that sound in new ways.

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First Impression: Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights

Julien Baker - Turn Out the Lights

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on October 20th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

It’s been too long since I’ve done one of these.

It’s been a while since there’s been a really hyped album coming out that felt right for something like this. But, this Julien Baker album seems just about perfect as we move into fall. Her last album, Sprained Ankle, is one of my favorite fall albums and it’s only a matter of time until this one cements itself in my cold weather rotation as well. In many ways it takes what the first album did and expands upon it in every way. It reminds me a little bit of how Manchester Orchestra took ILAVLAC and enhanced a variety of different aspects of that sound, and their songwriting, to take it up another level for METN. That’s the feeling I get from this album. It takes Julien’s songwriting to a new level, maintains the “it” factor that solidifies her as one of the most exciting and talented voices in music right now, and puts her in rarified air. It’s the kind of album I could see us talking about for years.

In a year that’s been filled with so many new albums, it’s hard to pick out the ones that I think will live a life longer than just this year. The ones that we will return to, talk about, and obsess over for years to come. What are the next classics? The next great albums? The ones all of us remember as the year it came out? I’ve heard a few this year that I think are in contention, albums that have knocked me on my ass, brought a huge smile to my face, and left me speechless … and then “Claws in Your Back” finished and I looked down at the hair standing straight up on my arm. Jesus. That’s new.

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First Impression: Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to the Surface

Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on June 9th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Why hello there.

Ever since the album showed up in my inbox, this has been probably the most requested “first listen” blog yet. I was waiting until the embargo ended to talk and write about this one in more detail, and with the announcement and single release today … I figured I might as well just kick this one out right now! The album is out in about a month and a half, so it’s not super early, and this will also allow me to come back to this thread in the next month and add new thoughts as I continue to listen and grow with this album.

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First Impression: The Movielife – Cities in Search of a Heart

The Movielife - Cities in Search of a Heart

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on May 29th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

I figure with so many albums I wanna write about, if I don’t start cranking these out, I’ll never get to everything in time. So, another night, another first listen thread! Celebrate!

Tonight I’ll be doing a little live blog for the new album from The Movielife. There was a time, maybe right around my freshman year of college, where I would have called The Movielife my favorite band. It was when pop-punk was getting pretty popular, but these guys played a little more aggressive style and seemed to sit under the radar … (before signing to Drive-Thru) … and I loved their name and music and that carried some cachet at 18. A band that was awesome that no one else really knew. That was catnip to me around that time period. So while everyone else had discovered NFG, I was proudly wearing my Movielife shirts around campus and thinking I was the absolute coolest.

I think those albums hold up pretty well too. Some of it’s a little dated, but I can go back to them and still sing along to those chant-y choruses and fast guitar riffs. Melody and pop-punk-hardcore …. there’s just something about that sound I’ve always loved.

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First Impression: Bleachers – Gone Now

Bleachers - Gone Now

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on May 28th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

I hope everyone is having a nice Memorial weekend, or at the very least is staying cool and relaxing just a little bit. It’s been a pretty nice one here so far — quite hot. I’m currently downing a big glass of water. I got a bit of work done and spent a lot of today being super lazy and reading Batman comics and napping. Can’t complain much about that kinda day.

So, as the sun starts to sort of set over here, I thought this would be the perfect time to do a first listen live blog for the new album from Bleachers. I’ve been looking forward to this from the moment I first heard this album, because it just feels like the kinda album that we’re all going to be talking about for a good part of the year and we’re going to be deconstructing and coming back to for years to come. It’s quite good and it definitely lived up to my lofty expectations. It’s a pop album with heart, smarts, and panache.

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First Impression: All Time Low – Last Young Renegade

All Time Low - Last Young Renegade

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on May 19th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Oh yes, it is that time again … first listen time.

Tonight I’m excited to share a live-blog-first-listen thread all about the new All Time Low album.

My history with All Time Low is interesting. I remember seeing a lot of hype for the band around The Party Scene era and giving the songs a listen, I thought it was pretty run of the mill stuff, nothing really stood out to me. Then they released PUOSP and I was like, eh, ok, this is better, there’s some stuff here that I like, but as a whole, nothing really grabbing me. That was a three or so year long period of seeing the band, thinking they had potential, but nothing stood out to me as a “hit.”

And then the band sent me some demos for SWIR.

I heard “Dear Maria.”

I remember thinking, “yep, that’s the one.”

As a whole that was the first album I thought really nailed a pop-punk vibe and they had multiple tracks on that album I really, really liked. “Six Feet,” “Remembering Sunday,” “Stay Awake” … I felt like I finally got the band, even if I wasn’t really feeling the albums. That continued with Nothing Personal, an album where I really enjoyed a variety of songs, even more than the previous album, and this was the first time where I felt the band had put together a full album of songs. Something I felt like I would come back to time and time again and be able to listen to front and back.

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First Impression: New Found Glory – Makes Me Sick

NFG - Makes Me Sick

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on April 24th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Wooooo, time for a little first listen blogging time. Been way too long since I’ve done one of these, and I’m really excited to do a live-blog-first-listen tonight for the new New Found Glory album. Before getting started, a few things:

  1. I think this is my favorite NFG album since, at least, Coming Home, and I think I actually will end up having it ranked pretty high in their discography within a few years. It is surprisingly fun, energetic, a fun spin on their well known style, and incredibly enjoyable. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I have, and I’ve been playing it … a lot over the past few weeks.
  2. NFG were at one point a band I called my “favorite” (I think I talked about this on a past podcast episode about favorite bands), I wanted to BE this band. Haha. They had the style, the look, and the sound that I wanted to emulate so badly. I kinda moved away from them over the years, but when I go back and play their albums now (at least the early ones), they are so caked in nostalgia for me I can’t help but love them.
  3. I haven’t really liked their last few albums that much to be honest. They’ve been fine, but they felt so predictable to me that I never found myself coming back to them at all. I’d listen for a week or so, and then if I ever wanted an NFG fix, I’d go back to the ST and S&S instead. I really do think this is the first album from them in a while that will shake up that trend for me.
  4. I love the production on this one. I think the band mixing it up with new ears and a new voice in the studio was exactly what they needed. I think Sprinkle knocked this out of the park.
  5. I’ve talked on past podcasts about bands getting in a rut, and how I wish more would try new things that work within their sound … this album is exactly what I wanted to see from this band … it really is exactly that.
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First Impression: Fall Out Boy – Young and Menace

Fall Out Boy - Mania

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on April 21st, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

I’ve done zero “single song” first listen threads, but if I was going to do one … I feel like Fall Out Boy are the band I should do it for. They’re about as big a band as we have from the music scene and they’ve got a pretty good following here still, so it just makes sense. Gotta give the people what they want!

I watched some basketball, and then got some work finished, so I’ve got a few minutes before I call it a night and go watch some Spider-Man cartoons and have a beer in bed. Not a bad Friday night.

Ok. So, few thoughts:

  1. I’ve played the song about 6-8 times already, I’m gonna play it a couple right now and write up some thoughts on it. Once the first time through, then pause and write a little, and then some closing thoughts. So it won’t be a super long thread, but it should be fun.
  2. As always I reserve the right to change my mind later, this isn’t a review, it’s just me kinda talking aloud as I listen to music and think about things and share thoughts and how it sounds.
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First Impression: The Menzingers – After the Party

The Menzingers

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on January 9th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Finally!

I’m been embargoed on this sucker for what feels like forever and been aching to talk about it. And, with the last few weeks being a big move to get Chorus set up to work better with a version system (cleaning up my Git workflow and deployment) and working on a new Supporter Page (streamlining and creating a much better page for those that don’t wanna be a forum member to sign up), I’ve been itching to talk about music again. Always a needed distraction from some of the horrors going on basically everywhere else these days.

So, things are crossed off the ‘ol todolist and I’m ready to dive into what is sure to be a favorite of 2017.

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First Impression: Acceptance – Colliding by Design

Acceptance - Colliding by Design

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on December 19th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

This is an album I really never thought we would be getting. A new Acceptance album basically a decade after the last one. I’ve spent quite a while listening to this one now, maybe 6 or 8 full listens (and I’ve had some of the songs unfinished for quite a while and had played them many, many times), so I’ll try and offer a little of that context with the first listen as well. I really do think that this album is best listened to three or four times before having too many thoughts on it. I think this for a few reasons:

  1. I think that following up a loved album 10 years later is going to be impossible. Expectations on the band and what the listener thinks the music should be or sound like take some time to shake off and really listen to what the album itself is.
  2. It’s a different vibe of an album as a whole. It’s … slower? more melodic … more Coldplay, Young the Giant, Tears for Fears, Mutemath at times, some early JEW sort of stuff going on. It’s a very layered album that is thick, lush, and has a sound that sounds, to me, like the band had made three albums during the last 10 years and this is the progression that comes out at the end. Basically, there’s a big leap from what Phantoms was to this. It’s not Phantoms part 2.
  3. The songs find their own footing with more listens. They separate themselves and you can appreciate the small details and what the band was going for and how they really did put a lot of thought and intentionality into this album.
  4. I liked a lot of these songs on first listen, loved a couple, but it really did take me listening to the album as a whole multiple times for me to really sink into this release and discover how much I really do love it.
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First Impression: Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues

Jimmy Eat World - Integrity Blues

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on September 6th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

It’s here.

It’s time.

I’m going to do a first listen thread for the upcoming Jimmy Eat World album, Integrity Blues. A couple of thoughts going in: I usually try and listen to an album three times or so before doing a first listen thread, so I kind of have an idea of what I wanna talk about on each song. But because it’s JEW, and because a lot of people have been waiting for this one, and because they’re my favorite band, I’m going to do this having only listened to the album once all the way through.

I’m clearly very bias with this band, they’re basically my favorite band ever, so you should know that as well going in … like, there’s no objective way I can listen to these guys, so I’m not going to even try.

My first over-arching impressions is that this album is very Futures-esque in a lot of ways. Layers, dark, big huge pop-rock. But it includes some Invented and CTL themes as well. I think that by and large this is what I love best from the band, and I think recording with JMJ was a fantastic choice. That big huge sound just works so well with this band and on these songs they really sound big, polished, and it’s almost a complete 180 from Damage in how it sounds.

As always, I reserve the right to change my mind at another time, and this isn’t really a “review” as much as it is me going through and listening to an album and just writing down my thoughts on it while it plays.

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First Impression: Relient K – Air for Free

Relient K - Air for Free

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on July 13th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

I’ve been listening to Relient K since I was going through my christian music phase in early, early high-school. It was the period of my life when I was doing the whole Young Life thing. That is all a story for another time, but, through it I did discover some music that I’ve enjoyed ever since. MxPx. Slick Shoes. Dogwood. Value Pac. These are bands I’ve been listening to for a looooong time now .. and Relient K were one of the bands that drew me in almost immediately. The pop hooks. The fun, tongue in cheek lyrics, and their ear for harmony. The band’s changed some over the years, they’ve moved more toward the secular crowd, they saw some mainstream popularity for a little while, and overall they’ve always been a band I’ve kept an eye on. I think Matt T has one of the best ears for pop music out there and is arguably one of the better songwriters in our little scene. He’s that good. I have even found a way to like some parts of Collapsable Lung a little after a few years, although, that’s easily my least favorite from the band.

The new album is Air for Free. It’ll be streaming on Pandora this Friday. It’s 16 tracks long. So, it’s a beast of an album. But my first impression is that they went for it. Matt H described it to me as: “the opposite of our attempt at radio (Collapsible Lung) and we just tried to be ourselves and have fun with it” — and I think in a lot of ways that’s a great way to describe it. It’s fun. It’s different in the right ways.

Ok, so here we go …

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First Impression: Butch Walker – Stay Gold

Butch Walker - Stay Gold

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on June 18th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Hey, only basically a day late on this! But, here I am! Today was a day of trying to catch up on a lot of work and then I like to spend a day every few weeks trying to do something I dedicated to learning and education — so today was also spent going through my to watch queue and only watching the educational videos I have saved up (I use the “add to Plex” bookmarklet to save videos and things like that to my Plex library to then watch on the TV, it’s a great little tool that I definitely recommend). Overall, not a bad day at all.

Tonight I’m going to do some blogging/writing about the new album from Butch Walker. The album is called Stay Gold, and it will be out on August 26th.

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First Impression: Good Charlotte – Youth Authority

Good Charlotte - Youth Authority

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on May 12th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Hahah, ok, yeah, maybe not what people would expect me to do a first listen for, but the album showed up, and after I did a listen of The Living End’s Shift while queuing up news for tomorrow morning, I threw this on kind of as an after thought for fun, not really expecting much.

Um.

I like it. Like, it’s kinda really fun and good pop-rock music. Like, it’s kinda the best album the band’s written since Young and the Hopeless. Like, maybe it’s the two beers, but whatever, I’m gonna do another listen and write some thoughts about this one. News is queued up, to-do list for the day is done, and it’s too late to do any actual “work” for the rest of the evening.

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First Impression: Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

Thrice - To Be Everywhere

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on May 5th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Ok, this is totally not really a “first listen,” this is more like an eleventh or so listen, but I have been having a lot of fun doing these the past few nights, and after getting the podcast done and up, and a bunch of news queued up for tomorrow morning, I found myself with about an hour to do things before I am going to call it a night. I could, maybe should, work on some features on the forum, but I decided that a Thrice live blog is what gets my time tonight.

Beer for the night: Full Sail “Pilsner”

The regular rules still apply: These are my first thoughts, totally fully of spoilers, mostly just a live blog of what I’m thinking, I can change my mind at any time, and feel free to ask questions!

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First Impression: Saosin – Along the Shadow

Saosin - Along the Shadow

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on May 3rd, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Let’s take a listen to the new Saosin album. Same thing goes as before — spoilers abound, I reserve the right to change my opinion as time goes on. I’ve got multiple beers sitting in front of me, and I’m hitting play and just going to type out my thoughts as I listen.

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First Impression: PUP – The Dream is Over

PUP - The Dream is Over

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on April 30th, 2016. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

Ok, so it’s about 9pm on a Saturday, I’m mostly done with my tasks for the weekend, and I’m going to crack a beer and dive into this new PUP album for the first time. I thought it may be fun to write some thoughts down and kind of “live blog” the first listen. Maybe this won’t work very well, but I kinda wanna try it and see what shakes out. If it’s successful, and you all like it, I’ll try and do it again in the future for other albums.

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First Impression: Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues

About one minute into the lead track, front-woman Laura Jane Grace snarls, “you want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress, you want them to see you like they see every other girl, they just see a faggot, they’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick” … and the gauntlet is thrown down. What Against Me!’s new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, offers is a mixture of attitude and bravado that pulls together an emotion, weight, and gravitas that I’ve felt missing from music for a while. The lyrics contain something actually worth saying and while the sing-a-long choruses may get stuck in your head, there’s an underlying message that expels itself in a way unique to music — one that travels from head to heart and leads to rumination long after the guitars and drums dissipate.