The latest taste of new music from Beach Bunny comes in the form of an eclectic group of tunes called Blame Game. Their first full-length record, Honeymoon, found its way onto several “Best of 2020” lists, and it seemed as if the young four-piece indie rock band from Chicago, Illinois was steadily gaining confidence knowing that they would be releasing music with more eyes clearly focused on them. Beach Bunny were poised for this moment, as they released some of their most steadfast songs to date on this EP.Read More “Beach Bunny – Blame Game”
If the Pet Shop Boys’ vocalist Neil Tennant was the first music critic turned stupendously successful musician, Hannah Jocelyn aka Fell from the Tree should be the next in line. She is the editor at Singles Jukebox and has written for Pitchfork and Billboard, among others (I cannot say for sure whether her experience as a journalist influences her songwriting, but I would like to think it does). As an artist, her influences track from electropop, to hip hop, to post-punk; all wrestling for the same urgency.
“I thought I needed more time to sort it out, I guess I prayed too hard for the world to stop,” Jocelyn sings above a demanding bassline and beats bubbling with tension beneath her vocal on “Tread Water.” She is somewhat anxious, finally all her; on her fourth album, ENOUGH, the last album she will release under the Fell from the Tree moniker. Amid a global pandemic, personal issues are suddenly meaningless, right? But they cannot be so easily erased.Read More “Fell From the Tree – ENOUGH”
The latest EP from Cold Weather Kids was created in the midst of the on-going pandemic, so it seemed only appropriate to tag this latest collection of songs with the Quarantunes moniker. With a mix of styles in the same vein as Bayside, Pierce the Veil, and the pop sensibilities of AJR, the band have continued to explore the possibilities of their unique brand of pop-punk. The record was mixed by Nick Radovanovic (Stand Atlantic, Grandson) and mastered by Justin Perkins (Screaching Weasel), who both put stamp on these three songs that have some interesting moments to them.Read More “Cold Weather Kids – Quarantunes”
In this week’s newsletter, I share some thoughts about the end of The Mandalorian and the first half of Wonder Woman 1984, and there’s some discussion of the holiday and prepping to finalize my end of the year list before the end of next week. As usual, there’s a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.
If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.Read More “Liner Notes (December 26th, 2020)”
During the week of the release of the new Less Than Jake record, Silver Linings, I had the chance to sit down with J.R. to discuss everything that went into the recording process of the new album. The conversation also captured J.R.’s perspective on looking back on his band’s album anniversaries, what he misses most about touring and the venues he’s played at, as well what he draws inspiration from to continue his growth as an artist.Read More “J.R. of Less Than Jake”
Something For Kate should be held with the highest regard for what makes the city of Melbourne so great, alongside our coffee, world-class research facilities, and richly diverse communities. The trio was formed in Melbourne in 1994, with singer and lead guitarist, Paul Dempsey; drummer Clint Hyndman, and Julian Carroll on bass guitar. After the release of the band’s 1997 debut album, Elsewhere for 8 Minutes, Carroll left the band after recently getting married and relocating to rural Australia. He was then replaced by Toby Ralph, who wasn’t the best fit for Something For Kate. In 1998, Stephanie Ashworth joined the band after the disbandment of the short-lived indie rock band, Sandpit. Upon early recording sessions with the lineup of Dempsey, Hyndman, and Ashworth, Dempsey remarked, “We’ve just been lucky because we’ve got this really natural chemistry between the three of us… We’ve finally got the right combination of people and we’re collaborating the way a band should.”
To date, Something For Kate has released seven albums. The first album recorded with Ashworth on bass, Beautiful Sharks (1999) reached the top 10 of the ARIA Albums Chart; as did Echolalia (2001) and Leave Your Soul to Science (2012). The Official Fiction (2003) and Desert Lights (2006) sat pretty atop the ARIA Albums Chart. Their first album in eight years, The Modern Medieval; released last month, debuted at #4 on the Albums Chart. I chatted with Stephanie Ashworth on a surprisingly chilly day in Melbourne last week, and it’s a conversation I won’t soon forget.Read More “Stephanie Ashworth of Something For Kate”
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Taylor Swift’s folklore was one of 2020’s few saving graces. For myself and many other Taylor fans, the songs on that album were a salve to sooth some of the heartbreak and disappointment of this year. Even the discourse around the songs was a welcome distraction from all the bad things happening around us. That the album would never have come to exist, likely in any form, without the pandemic is one of the only positives in this remarkably net-negative hellscape we’ve been living in since March. So when Taylor announced that she’d be dropping a sequel album called evermore last Thursday, it felt a bit like lightning striking twice. The first album was a sepia-toned autumnal beauty shot through with the wistful strains of a dying summer—in 2020’s case, a lost summer. Released two weeks out from what could be the loneliest Christmas many people ever experience, evermore promised to be folklore’s wintry twin: a cold-weather soundtrack full of snow-strewn backdrops, frosty windows, and solitary reflections. Taylor positioned the album as her gift to everyone else for her 31st birthday, but it’s more like alternative Christmas music in a year when playing the usual celebratory Christmas tunes seems bizarre or even profane. Tis the damn season, folks, and Taylor Swift is here to get you through it.Read More “Taylor Swift – Evermore”
The world needs more bands like Foxy Shazam. With their unique blend of charisma and theatrics in their music, there isn’t a single uninteresting moment on their latest LP called Burn. The band has always had a flair for the theatrical and glam elements of the 70’s rock era, but they really go for their full-fledged modern take on that era of music with their latest album. With some songs teetering on the edge of Queen, to David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin all thrown into the mix, the band is more than capable of creating a record that pays direct homage to past artists, while still making the end result feel fresh for newer audiences. Their eccentric front-man Eric Nally took the majority of the songwriting and vocal duties on the album, but there is plenty of new elements to Foxy Shazam’s evolution as an artist. The album was recorded remotely with members of the band working in three different studios, yet the end product feels as cohesive as if the band were in the same room creating this music simultaneously.Read More “Foxy Shazam – Burn”
I’ll always contend that the most exciting part of consuming music is discovering something new – an artist or band or record that just completely enraptures you – like you found the world’s greatest secret and can’t wait to share it with anyone and everyone. That’s Respire – the Toronto sextet that’s turning heavy music on its head. The band’s new record, Black Line, is 41 minutes of pummeling drums, jazzy time signatures, and swelling horns. It’s exhilarating blackened screamo with the ethos of Broken Social Scene – Respire burns down the boundaries of what extreme music can be. Below, the band walks us through their impactful new record track-by-track.Read More “Respire – ‘Black Line’ Track-by-Track Break Down”
2020 really is the year of the female artist, isn’t it? From Taylor Swift releasing arguably releasing the most pandemic-appropriate album we could have ever hoped for, to Dua Lipa knocking us on our ass with some perfectly crafted dance-pop bliss, and Phoebe Bridgers earning several well-deserved Grammy nominations for her work, everything seemed to be shifting towards rightfully recognizing female artists for their contributions to music. Enter Miley Cyrus who has delivered a raucous collection of rock-tinged pop songs known as Plastic Hearts to close out the year. Usually albums released this late in the year fall under the radar, as every publication seems to want to rush out their year-end lists before December even sees the light of day. Plastic Hearts is definitely one of those breathtaking moments of recognizing great pop music from an artist beginning to realize her rock prowess at just the right time.
The record launches with the bratty, punk sneer of “WTF Do I Know” where Cyrus establishes herself firmly in the rock genre with a pulsating bass line and cranked up guitars. Cyrus explains her state of mind in the chorus as she sings confidently, “What the fuck do I know? I’m alone / Guess I couldn’t be somebody’s hero / You want an apology not from me / Had to leave you in your own misery / So tell me, baby, am I wrong that I moved on and I / And I don’t even miss you? / Thought that it’d be you until I die / But I let go, what the fuck do I know?” The track quickly fades away as we make our way into the title track where Cyrus sings over a tribal beat. She provides a little more insight on the change in gears of genres on the second verse as she sings, “Hello, I’ll tell you all the people I know / Sell you something that you already own / I can be whoever you want me to be / Love me now but not tomorrow / Fill me up but leave me hollow / Pull me in but don’t you get too close.” It’s almost as if Miley is telling her audience that she can be whatever persona that best suits her metamorphosis into a female rocker as long as we are there to accept her for who she is.Read More “Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts”
While some artists were keen to wait out the pandemic before releasing music, Billie Joe Armstrong took advantage of the extra time on his hands to release a series of covers that known as the No Fun Mondays compilation. He covered a wide breadth of artists from almost all genres, including The Bangles, The Clash, John Lennon, and Tommy James and the Shondells. Despite the branded name, these songs turned out to be quite the enjoyable listening experience as Billie Joe showcased his impressive knowledge of historical artists and made each rendition feel updated for new ears.
The set kicks off with the Tommy James and the Shondells’ classic, “I Think We’re Alone Now” that got most of its longevity from the 80’s cover by the artist known as Tiffany. The guitar-based cover song stays true to the basic arrangement of the original, and Billie Joe’s trademark vocal performance is still up to par. “War Stories” by The Starjets quickly follows the opener and keeps the momentum going for a perfect slab of melodic punk rock well within the repertoire of the Green Day front-man. Billie Joe does an impressive job of commanding the track while going into his higher register on the chorus and bridge as he delivers a worthwhile rendition.Read More “Billie Joe Armstrong – No Fun Mondays”
As I wrote about in October, this was a very weird year to be running an independent, online, business. I just wanted to take a few moments to be upfront about a couple of changes that I’m going to be making for the rest of this year. In the online ad world, the last part of the year is usually one of the best for online advertising. It tracks along with the holidays and consumer spending and advertisers wanting to convince shoppers to buy their gadgets and gizmos. Now, digital advertising has been a mess for virtually everyone this year, but there’s a small hope we can make up some of that lost revenue with a terrific final quarter. So, I’m going to let the company that handles all of our display ads run a few different advertisements on the website for the next month.
Honestly? They’re probably going to be annoying as hell. They’ve promised to keep everything frequency capped so that users only see one of the annoying ads one time per session, but there’s no nice way to spin the fact that these kinds of advertisements suck for the user experience. I know it, you know it, but it’s me throwing everything at the wall as we end the year in an attempt to salvage what, in many ways, has been a lost year. I want to be forthright about it, so everyone knows what is coming. And, to let you know you can remove all ads on the website by becoming a member. (These ads will only run for a few months, and we have a monthly option for just $3 a month. Remove all ads, get dark mode, live the good life.)
I don’t know what 2021 will hold, but I plan to continue to keep everyone updated as we journey into this uncharted territory together. I hope everyone is staying safe and doing well. The contributors and I have begun preparing for our end of the year feature, which we hope to run, like always, in early January.
It’s amazing how much a single year can throw a wrench into our plans. 2020 has made all of us re-focus our thoughts and priorities as we deal with a global pandemic that has forced us to make sacrifices along the way. Silverstein were poised and ready to tour on their recently released 10th studio album, A Beautiful Place to Drown when the world had other plans for the post-hardcore veterans. Having recently celebrated 20 years since their formation as band, Silverstein turned the unique situation into an opportunity to revisit some of their classic songs and deep cuts from past records for an album now known as REDUX II. The new recordings that made the cut for this record range from simple re-polishing of beloved songs that feel fresh for a new audience, to major enhancements to the song arrangement.Read More “Silverstein – REDUX II”
It feels great to have I Am The Avalanche back. With their first studio album in six years, DIVE wastes little time getting down to the business at hand with some incredibly well-crafted tunes. Lead single “Better Days” opens the record with a perfect build up to an ultra-melodic chorus. Lead vocalist Vinnie Caruana had this to say about opening the album with the track: “Not only is it the intro track to the record, but it is also the song the first the band wrote together since 2014’s Wolverines. It’s all about realizing too late how good you had it and raising a “drink to better days.” Oddly enough, it was written before the world went to hell in a handbasket earlier this year – making it an eerie prophecy.” Interestingly, many of these songs found on DIVE are the perfect soundtrack to the uncertainty of the days ahead of us while still remaining cautiously optimistic that things can improve.Read More “I Am The Avalanche – DIVE”
This past week, I was able to chat with Ryan Locke (lead vocalist) of Seaway to discuss everything that went into writing and recording their fantastic fourth album, Big Vibe. Ryan describes the band’s live performances, the artistic comparisons others have made to the sound the band went for on the new record, as well as their core influences.Read More “Ryan Locke of Seaway”