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Review: Pearl Jam – Gigaton

We are currently living in uncertain times with fear, anxiety, and stress riding high, especially as many are self-quarantining to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Sometimes what you need to get you through is a calming force, and for many, temporary relief came in the release of Pearl Jam ‘s new album, Gigaton, their first new record in just over six years.

Gigaton arrived at a moment when people needed a break, and many Pearl Jam fans were fortunate to be rewarded with one of the best albums in the band’s deep discography. The new record is one that was a genuine collaborative effort, and it amplifies the sounds of a band still loving what they do as they head into their fourth decade creating albums.

The new record is loaded from front to back, in what is truly a balanced record. There are moments of peace, calmness and relaxation, with an equal amount of rockers that you’ll be air-guitaring along to.

Review: The Beautiful Mistake – You’re Not Broken. I Am

The Beautiful Mistake - You're Not Broken. I Am

Back onto the scene after a lengthy hiatus, The Beautiful Mistake have released their first new music since 2004 with You’re Not Broken. I Am. Produced by Beau Burchell (Saosin), this short collection of songs shows a lot of promise as the band looks to write the next chapter in their career. The band is comprised of band members Josh Hagquist, Shawn Grover, Josh Quesada, Steve Dunlap, and Jon Berndston, and they seem poised to re-cement themselves into the crowded post-hardcore scene. On this EP, the wide-range emotions felt in their music only speaks to the power of their sound and composure as artists.

Review: Joywave – Possession

Joywave

When Joywave set out to record their third studio album in their home studio in Rochester, New York, even they must have been surprised by how much the result of their work would be so relatable in the chaos of a never-ending pandemic. Produced by Joywave front-man, Daniel Armbruster, the band has created a spacey collection of tracks that breathe new life into a society that is struggling for its sense of direction. In some recent interviews regarding Possession, Armbruster mentioned that the album is an investigation of control, and added, “Our heads are spinning. Every day is crazier than the last. Every screen we walk by is shouting at us, demanding our undivided attention. Control over our own lives is constantly under siege.” This album couldn’t have come at a better time, as this quote sears through the noise of uncertainty going on in our lives at this very moment.

Review: Nap Eyes – Snapshot of a Beginner

Nap Eyes

Although Nap Eyes couldn’t have predicted the circumstances behind it, their fourth album, Snapshot of a Beginner is a comforting album for the social distancing era. Songwriter and vocalist, Nigel Chapman springs between anxiety-induced stalling of tasks (“Mystery Calling”) to “feeling bored and unquestionably boorish” for writing songs about himself on “Though I Wish I Could.” Snapshot of a Beginner takes both the snappy and slacker rock moments of Nap Eyes’ third album,  I’m Bad Now and encourages your grooviest dance moves to some pensive jams.

The Halifax, Nova Scotia outfit is Chapman, Seamus Dalton on drums and percussion, guitarist Brad Loughead and bassist Joshua Salter. Joining them are producers, James Elkington (Joan Shelley, Steve Gunn), and Jonathan Low (The National, Big Red Machine) to elevate the band’s slick sound with flourishes of additional piano, keyboards, organ, synthesizer, pedal steel guitar, and percussion. Nap Eyes, exceedingly open and clever, may leave you entranced — but, contrary to the name, their music certainly isn’t a slog.

Review: Code Orange – Underneath

Code Orange - Underneath

Imagine ever doubting Code Orange.

Three years ago, the band kicked the mainstream in the teeth with their Roadrunner Records’ debut, Forever – serving the uninhabited a taste of the group’s relentless intensity. That record broke the band into the Billboard Top 200, numerous spots on big-name festivals, countless collaborations ranging from JPEGMAFIA to Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, and ultimately a Grammy nomination. But for those aware of the Pittsburgh quintet’s work ethic, you already knew the band wouldn’t ever rest on just those laurels – a zero chance possibility that their next record would resemble its predecessor. Forever only skimmed the surface of the Grammy-nominated band’s uncompromising vision, laying the foundation to deliver their fourth full-length album Underneath – Code Orange’s most brutal and visceral music yet. It’s exactly what band leader Jami Morgan proclaimed to Rolling Stone earlier this year: “At the end of the day, that’s what we are about: disruption. down. we. go.”

Review: Four Year Strong – Brain Pain

Four Year Strong

One of the things that gets lost on us as we deal with all of this self-quarantining, self-isolating, and social distancing is how easy it is to forget about taking of ourselves and our mental health. Brain Pain is a catchy, immediate, and socially relevant record as Four Year Strong take a look at what it means to be lost in our thoughts. With song titles ranging from “Crazy Pills” to “Talking Myself in Circles” and “Get Out of My Head,” FYS take it all in stride as they investigate the inner workings of our brains and what makes us all unique and human. On its surface, Brain Pain couldn’t have come at a better time for all of us as we re-learn ways to communicate with each other without that physical connection, and it surely doesn’t hurt that these songs are some of the best work from the band in quite some time.

Review: Soccer Mommy – Color Theory

One of the first things that stood out to me as I sat down to listen to Sophie Allison’s (Soccer Mommy) latest record,  Color Theory, was how much her songwriting and confidence had grown in such a short period. Typically after releasing a successful debut album, songwriters can get a little shell-shocked by their success and fall into the dreaded sophomore slump that swallows up so many great artists. Luckily for us, that is not the case on the fantastic second record from Soccer Mommy. Filled with lush musical landscapes, futuristic artwork, and packaging, as well as some of her best songs to date, everything clicks perfectly into place on Color Theory.

Interview: Elle Winter

Elle Winter

This past week, I was able to have a phone conversation with Elle Winter before she released her new EP called Yeah, No. In this interview we discussed what went into the recording sessions, the meaning behind the album title, and artists she looks to for inspiration. Yeah, No is available everywhere music is sold.

Review: Snarls – Burst

Debut albums are always a ton of fun to review as they come with so much hope, promise, and youthful exuberance as the artists try to put their unique stamp on the music scene. Snarls’ debut LP Burst comes sparkling onto the indie rock music scene with vibrant guitars, shimmering harmonies, and a plethora of hooks to balance out their band. Snarls are a four-piece band from Columbus, OH, and are led by Chlo White (vocals, guitar) who wastes little time getting down to business on this excellent record. Rounding out the band are Riley Hall (bass, vocals), Mick Martinez (guitar), and Max Martinez (drums). Snarls seem to fit well with other emo/indie bands such as Snail Mail, Haim, and Soccer Mommy, but they have plenty of musical chops to stand out and be memorable on their own.

Interview: Paul Marc Rousseau of Silverstein

Silverstein

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to have a great conversation with the lead guitarist of Silverstein, Paul Marc Rousseau. In this interview we chatted a lot about everything that went into making their new album A Beautiful Place to Drown, the collaborative efforts present on the record, the detailed writing process for these sessions, and we even discussed lead vocalist Shane Told’s consistent vocal improvements. A Beautiful Place to Drown is available everywhere music is sold this Friday, March 6th.

Review: COIN – Dreamland

Having knocked the rust off and avoided the dreaded sophomore slump that so many bands seem to struggle with, COIN have returned with their third album called Dreamland. A reasonably straight-forward record that likely won’t dissuade longtime fans of the band from staying true to the group, but also one that doesn’t stray too far from what the band has already tried so they may have a difficult time gaining a wider audience. There are a few nuances and improvements to COIN’s sound that make it hard to fault them for continuing with a successful formula, such as dream-pop elements filled with lush synths and breezy guitars. As much as I enjoy listening to this band and this record, it feels like it lacks some of the energy and urgency that made their second record How Will You Know If You Never Try so endearing. The familiar sounds and stylistic choices feel welcoming at first. Still, by the time you get to the conclusion of the record, you’re left with a feeling of a small missed opportunity to take advantage of the momentum gained from their breakthrough second album.

Review: Green Day – Father Of All…

Green Day - Father

When I last sat down to write about a Billie Joe Armstrong project, I put my thoughts down on a band called The Longshot. What I wasn’t expecting from the new Green Day album, called Father of All Motherfuckers, is for that aforementioned side project to surpass the quality of the much more established brand. But alas, on Green Day’s 13th studio album, they have taken a few steps backward as they try and regain their footing. At first, it was tough for me to put my finger on where it went wrong on this record, but after re-listening to the album a few more times since its release date, it just isn’t as strong as I have come to expect from the pop-punk giants. Produced by Butch Walker, Chris Dugan, and Green Day, the album should have been a momentous creative igniter for the band to re-solidify themselves right before their most prominent touring stint in recent memory (the Hella Mega Tour with Weezer and Fall Out Boy). But instead, the final mixes of this record feel like they are missing a key ingredient in what made the band such a fun time in the first place.

Review: Katie Gately – Loom

Katie Gately - Loom

Loom isn’t the album experimental musician and producer Katie Gately intended to make. At the time of her mother’s diagnosis of a rare destructive cancer, she was close to finishing an entirely different album. However, she quickly recognized that she “didn’t have the bandwidth to make that record anymore.” So, she returned to her Brooklyn family home and completely recreated the album around the 10-and-a-half-minute saga that deals with substance abuse, “Bracer,” which was her mother’s favorite track. Where her 2016 debut album, Color exhibited a frenzied and fierce listen, Loom reveals equally frantic textures and retains her debut’s display of melodic pop sensibilities. Although, this time around, her voice is front and center, atop harsh sound design.

Gately’s mother passed away in 2018. To convey the enormity of such a loss, she’s added real earthquake recordings and samples of further wreckage, such as peacocks screaming, wolves howling, pill bottles rattling, a machine gun going off, the take-off of a fighter jet airplane, a coffin shutting, and heavily processed audio from her parent’s wedding. The swiftness of her mother’s diagnosis and passing held an impending weight over Gately, and so Loom captures the bizarre nature of imminent doom, but also with some iridescent colors.

Review: John Moreland – LP5

On John Moreland ‘s fifth solo record, aptly titled LP5, he takes an exploratory dive into working with an outside producer for the first time in his solo career. His producer selection in Matt Pence (Jason Isbell, The Breeders) fits like a glove as the production and songwriting elements that were already a strong suit of Moreland’s repertoire really shine on the album. Moreland recently said in an interview regarding his producer choice that, “I wouldn’t say that he pushed me into trying anything that I didn’t already want to do, but I think I came in with a lot of ideas that I found interesting but didn’t know how to execute. Matt was great at expanding on those things.” This American singer-songwriter from Tulsa, Oklahoma, has never been a stranger to writing great roots rock songs that feel as genuine and as warm as the singer’s personality. LP5 is by no means a departure from his already great sound, he expands upon it with more textured musical elements to give these songs a little more life.

Most Anticipated of 2020

most-anticipated-2020

Last month we shared our favorite albums of 2019, and now that 2020 is upon us, it’s time to look at what we’re anticipating throughout the year. What records do we think we’re going to fall in love with over the next few months? What albums can we just not wait to hear? A bunch of contributors have written up blurbs about the albums and artists we’re most excited about, and we’d love to hear what’s on your most anticipated list as well.

Review: Dustbowl Revival – Is It You, Is It Me

When I last chatted with co-lead vocalist and band founder Zach Lupetin regarding Dustbowl Revival’s latest record, Is It You, Is It Me, you could hear the excitement in his voice in the new direction the band was taking on this album. Lupetin’s enthusiasm and confidence is warranted, as Dustbowl Revival have created a record that marks the next adventurous step in their evolution as artists. Produced by Sam Kassirer (Lake Street Dive, Josh Ritter) Is It You, Is It Me is a sonic expansion on what Dustbowl Revival are capable of making when they set no limitations on themselves, and ignore any preconceived notions on what their band is expected to sound like. The band sounds re-focused, refreshed, and ready to conquer new audiences on this brilliant new album.

Review: Chase Tremaine – Unfall

Chase Tremaine - Unfall

On Chase Tremaine’s debut solo album,Unfall, the Dallas-born singer-songwriter shines all over the record in an album almost entirely written and performed by Tremaine himself. The strengths found onUnfall are natural to notice right from the first listen: brilliant harmonies, intricate and layered guitars, as well as precise beats and pop hooks. Tremaine’s time spent playing in several Nashville-based bands is apparent, as he showcases a full breadth of styles and genre-blending on his debut LP. Over the 10-song, 46-minute record, Tremaine confidently takes the listener on an ear candy journey filled with a professional sounding album that was produced by Zach Lardy. Tremaine never loses focus on this record and delivers a strong introduction to his solo career.

Interview: Caroline of Your Smith

Your Smith

This past month, I was able to sit down with Caroline Smith (of Your Smith) and talk about everything that went into her great new EP, Wild Wild Woman. In this interview we chatted about the lessons she learned from touring with road veterans K. Flay and X Ambassadors, how she typically composes her material, and key artists she has listened to over the years that have been essential in her development as an artist. Caroline is currently wrapping up the final dates of her US headlining tour.

Interview: Zach Lupetin of Dustbowl Revival

Dustbowl Revival

Recently, I was able to sit down with Zach Lupetin (vocals, guitar) of Dustbowl Revival to discuss the band’s seventh studio album, Is It You, Is It Me, available everywhere this Friday, January 31st. We chatted about the band’s upcoming headlining tour in support of the new record, the stylistic changes that went into the new album, and artists that he admires in today’s music scene. I feel that the band grew a ton on this latest album, and I’d recommend Dustbowl Revival for fans of Lake Street Dive, Galactic, and other American-roots rock bands.