Review: Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP

Listening to Eminem when I was growing up was like eating forbidden fruit. Now that I look back on it, my mom was spot on for not allowing me to own The Marshall Mathers LP album. Instead, I listened to it with friends at summer camp back in the summer of 2000. Strangely enough, my love for rap and hip-hop would blossom from this particular, ridiculously controversial album. 

The Marshall Mathers LP is still revered as an iconic album. Eminem raps laps around any competition, and his expression of emotion (a lot of rage) is undeniably intoxicating. But, if you take a listen from start to finish, you’ll be reminded that much of what you’ll hear didn’t land well back in 2000, and is still cringe-worthy today, even if it most of it is just schtick.

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Review: The National – High Violet

The National - High Violet

When The National reemerged in 2010, they were primed to explode. It didn’t matter that they were coming up on their fifth album and had already passed the milestone that marked their first decade together as a band. They were, as people have often described their albums, a slow burn, or a grower, and by the time the new decade began, their fuse was ready to blow. 2007’s Boxer had changed the game for the Cincinnati fourpiece in more ways them one, turning them into prestige indie darlings, landing songs on the soundtracks of virtually every moody drama on television, and even earning them a small but memorable role in the campaign of a presidential hopeful named Barack Obama. By the time The National appeared on Jimmy Fallon in March of 2010 to officially kick off the rollout for High Violet, with a majestic performance of “Terrible Love,” it was clear they were ready to be rock stars.

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Review: Papa Roach – Infest

Papa Roach - Infest

“Cut my life into pieces / This is my last resort!” With those loaded words, Papa Roach immediately gained the attention of an army of misguided teens looking for their way in a confusing world. Infest was a massive record for a lot of reasons. In essence, it had a great lead single in “Last Resort,” fantastic marketing, perfect timing in the rap-rock scene, as well as ultra-talented musicians backing up what they wanted to accomplish in their sound. The music landscape in 2000 was littered with tons of rap-rock bands looking for their breakthrough in a crowded, and at times, confusing rock scene. What made Papa Roach stand out from the pack was their ability to grab their audience from the first listen and give them a feeling of belonging to something bigger than themselves. I’m sure many of us can remember the first time we heard the guitar riff of the lead single on the music video that seemed to be airing on MTV more often than not, and how it made us all feel something.

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Review: The Menzingers – Chamberlain Waits

Chamberlain Waits

The Menzingers released their second album, Chamberlain Waits a decade ago, and what a decade it’s been for them. It was an album that would build the foundation for a small town Pennsylvania-rooted band that would go on to consistently pack venues with fans all over the world.

Chamberlain Waits represents The Menzingers on the cusp of pulling off something truly special. While 2012’s On the Impossible Past is the staple Menzingers album (with After the Party in a close second place), Chamberlain Waits had all of the ingredients of what makes the Menzingers great; Relatable lyrics that set a scene in your head, catchy choruses that make you want to scream them at the top of your lungs and guitar riffs that will hook you in immediately.

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Review: Thrice – Vheissu

Thrice - Vheissu

I’ll be honest: I’m starting a fifteen-year retrospective of Thrice’s seminal masterpiece Vheissu in a way that may not make sense.

It’s been just under three years since the legacy of Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me gained a sizeable asterisk. Once firmly entrenched at number two on my list of all-time favorite albums, that record transited from being a piece of art that comforted me, grounded me, and helped me through some of the darkest eras in my cycles of depression to this huge question mark of unease and memory. It was an album that had fostered a community in my life—both online on the AbsolutePunk forums and with high school friends—at the same time that depression was stealing many senses of connection. It embodied a sound and possessed lyrics that explained how depression felt inside my chest and head.

In all the ways that losing Brand New hurts a myriad of people—from Jesse Lacey’s victims to the band’s fans—my internalized struggle emerged when I couldn’t turn to “Degausser,” “Sowing Season,” or “Not the Sun” to face certain emotions anymore. I won’t pretend I haven’t turned to those songs first out of a sense of musical muscle memory in the interim years, but they don’t carry the weight like they used to. In many ways, thanks to medication and a lot of personal growth, I don’t need them anymore, at least not as I did back then. But there will always be a part of me that wants an album to feel like a home in the storm when those emotions swarm.

Last month, at a concert venue in Atlanta, before a pandemic swept the globe and the year still felt full of promise, I realized that I already had that album—one that probably should’ve been the one I’d turned to all along. One that’s brought me comfort and catharsis through the chaos of social distancing, botched government responses, and hysteria.

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Review: Third Eye Blind – Blue

Third Eye Blind - Blue

Coming off the success of the multi-platinum, debut self-titled album, Third Eye Blind could have gone in several different directions. Would they crash and burn like many of their 90’s peers hitmakers that stormed onto the scene of the height of the music industry, or would they embrace the pressure and deliver a noteworthy record? Plenty has already been written about the drama and in-fighting that went on during the writing and production of their sophomore album, Blue. Yet, I’m going to focus on the music itself which by all points of merit is still pretty damn good even at 20 years of age. The album’s themes are filled with relatable concepts, ranging everywhere from teen pregnancy (“10 Days Late”), physical abuse (“Wounded”), to gushing feelings of love (“Deep Inside Of You”).

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Review: Saves the Day – Through Being Cool

From the opening notes of Saves The Day’s now-legendary emo album, Through Being Cool, Chris Conley confidently sings, “This isn’t the way we planned / I wasn’t supposed to forget your taste,” and it’s almost as if Conley and his band knew they might be on to something extraordinary here. The irony behind an album about leaving the cool kids to their cliques, while sitting a few out much like the cover art depicts, is humorous now because Saves the Day became emo legends on this record. Those same kids who wouldn’t give Conley and crew the time of day back in high school, are probably the ones now asking them for autographs after a show. This album was recently overlooked by Kerrang! magazine on the 25 greatest emo albums ever, much to my chagrin.

Looking back at the numerous bands influenced by this band and this album, in particular, one can not merely brush this record off as just another emo album. Instead with heart-on-my-sleeve lyrics about their hometown on songs such as “You Vandal,” where Conley sings, “I woke up to my cold sheets and the smell of New Jersey / When do I get to wake up to you?” there was no stopping this band’s ascent into greatness.

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Review: My Chemical Romance – Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge

The 15th anniversary of the My Chemical Romance classic has come and gone, but with the recent news of them reuniting, I just couldn’t wait five more years to write about Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. I vividly remember my first time hearing this record. I was a 21-year old, shopping at my local Hot Topic, browsing the listening station of the recent CD releases. The Three Cheers artwork grabbed my attention from the first look, and I knew I had to see what the band had come up with, having only seen them open up for The Used at the 9:30 Club about a year prior. The album was produced by one of all-time favorites, Howard Benson, and had it not been for my immediate trust in the producer; I may have waited to purchase this album until a few weeks later. What I was not expecting was just how professional, polished, and amazing the record was, as I became immediately transported into the world of MCR. From the opening notes of “Helena,” I knew this band had created something incredibly special, immediate, and gripping from the very first listen. It’s safe to say that this immediate purchase of the record was not one that I came to regret.

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Review: Incubus – Make Yourself

Inclubus - Make Yourself

Rewind for a minute back to 1999. Nu-metal looms large with bands such as Limp Bizkit and Korn dominating the airwaves and record sales. RollingStone magazine is saying for the millionth time that rock is dead, or at the very least, on life support. Little did that magazine realize, a small yet remarkable movement was taking place. Incubus had started to establish a good career for themselves on their sophomore studio effort S.C.I.E.N.C.E. , and were slowly but surely getting rock fans to turn their heads towards the Calabasas-based band. Enter the third studio album, Make Yourself that has just turned 20 years old. Produced by veteran hit-maker Scott Litt, Incubus made a conscious effort to leave the nu-metal bands they built a scene with scratching their heads in disbelief as the band would evolve their sound into an alternative rock powerhouse that would go on to sell over two million records in the United States alone. While Incubus had grabbed my attention on S.C.I.E.N.C.E., they became my new favorite band on Make Yourself.

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