Pop rock band, PHNTMS, have returned with a new, vibrant single called “Heat of the Moment” that features The Chain Gang of 1974. The new song was produced by Courtney Ballard (Grayscale, Armor for Sleep) and is dripping with dark synths, paired with vocals by Kamtin Mohager (of The Chain Gang of 1974). What PHNTMS do best on this track is pay direct homage to 80’s electronica bands with a twist of modern flair in the guitar parts to keep things feeling fresh.
The song opens with syrupy-thick synths before breaking away into a great guitar riff by Adam Jessamine. The second verse of, “So when did love become so deceiving? / Something I can’t define / You’re playing tricks in my mind / Face it, we are simply just human / And this is not apathy / Just let me go and get high / Oh my my,” tackles the difficulties of navigating a one-sided relationship. The anthemic chorus is well-constructed, and if the song has any faults, it’s that it ends too soon. “Heat of the Moment” is sure to be stuck in your mind for days on end.
Nostalgia can have a funny way of bringing back a flood of memories, whether they be for good or bad. Story of the Year do a great job of honing in on the positive memories of their platinum-certified debut LP, Page Avenue, into a re-imagined version of this sound found on their sixth studio album called Tear Me To Pieces. From the similar cover art, to the references of a familiar time on the song “2005,” Story of the Year embrace their past while still looking towards the future. Tear Me To Pieces features a more polished version of themselves that they hinted at on Wolves, and probably wish they had the poise to create back in 2003. This album is a solid collection of songs that hit hard from front to back, and still leave the door wide open to where they could take their sound next. With themes ranging from self-doubt, anxiety, and meaningful relationships, Story of the Year’s return to the music scene couldn’t have come at a better time. Read More “Story of the Year – Tear Me To Pieces”
How exactly did AFI transition from being a band that hardcore and goth kids had in their back pocket to becoming such a pop culture worldwide phenomenon? The answer depends on who you ask. Having outgrown their indie label of Nitro Records given the monumental success of their fifth studio album, The Art of Drowning, AFI were simply destined for a wider audience on their major label debut called Sing the Sorrow. This record was produced by A-list veterans Jerry Finn (Blink-182) and Butch Vig (Nirvana), and they helped the band craft some of their strongest songs to date. Much to the surprise of many record executives, and to the delight of their Dreamworks Records label, AFI’s Sing the Sorrow would sell 96,000 copies in its first week and debut at number five on the Billboard 200. This record seemed to be an unstoppable giant that both the hardcore/goth kids could sing a long to with the same audience as newer fans who liked Blink-182 and other pop-punk bands. The lead single of “Girl’s Not Grey” was a perfect choice of introducing AFI to a wider audience, and it was filled with slick hooks, great guitar work, and Davey Havok’s trademark vocal howls. The great thing about AFI’s growing audience was that their concerts would be a combination of kids from all different backgrounds coming together with the same unified feeling towards this band’s music. This accomplishment didn’t happen overnight, and yet AFI’s trajectory had quickly launched into the stratosphere. Read More “AFI – Sing the Sorrow”
It’s really a treat to watch an artist blossom gracefully as they release new music that they believe in. Chase Tremaine has returned with his third full-length studio album, Accidental Days, that was produced by Brendan St. Gelais, and Tremaine really does a great job of capturing what I love most about guitar-driven pop songs. Tremaine has mapped out a comprehensive musical landscape that could very well be his best work yet, and it’s certainly my favorite of his to date. Through these ten songs that are filled with passion and purpose, Tremaine makes Accidental Days a labor of love, while wearing his influences of bands like Thrice, Mae and other prominent artists in the scene into a beautiful composition of music. Read More “Chase Tremaine – Accidental Days”
I’d like to introduce everyone to Booze Radly. This Philadelphia-based, five-piece emo/punk band is comprised of Alex Manescu (Guitar/Vocals), Dylan Molloy (keyboard/vocals), Vince Dejesus (Guitar), Youssef Moussa (Bass), and Peter Sovia (Drums). On their latest EP, entitled Lose, Badly, they take the best parts of “loser rock” and re-package it in a meaningful way that makes you ultimately root for their success. This band sounds like a mixture between Gob, Homegrown, and Weezer, all put into a blender to see what drink you’re ready to consume.
They kick things off with their lead single, “White Guy Emo,” that features some nice guest vocals from Gabby Relos to layer out their vocal attack. Manescu opens with, “First loves never really fade away / But how interesting is that for us to say / You know I’m tired and it’s a chore / But these songs keep coming cause all we are is bored,” as he captures that teenage, punk rock spirit in a nutshell. Other songs like the frenetic “Hydro Illogical” find Booze Radly experimenting with bratty vocals paired with a mosh pit-ready anthem, while “Crash and Burn” keeps the interest level high in this punk band’s attack. Read More “Booze Radly – Lose, Badly”
The eighth studio album from the animated band known as Gorillaz is a pretty thrilling return to form. While their previous effort known as Song Machine: Season One was bit of a bloated collection that hit as often as it missed, Cracker Island wears its influences proudly across multiple genres, and might be their most cohesive album to date. At ten tracks and a running time of under 38 minutes, you can put Cracker Island on when you need a reprieve from the noise of the outside world. The set was produced by Greg Kurstin (Beck, Foo Fighters) at his own studio in Los Angeles, California, and he does a great job in honing in on this band’s strengths. Mainly from the mind of permanent collaborator/lead singer, Damon Albarn, Gorillaz find a nice groove within these Latin-infused beats and crisp production to engulf the listener into a world of pure imagination.
Kicking things off with the title track, a trippy, synth-driven song clouded in mystery about the world you’re about to embark unto, Gorillaz capture the spirit of their early, bulletproof work into a solid re-introduction. The opening lyrics of, “On Cracker Island, it was born / To the collective of the dawn / They were planting seeds at night / To grow a made-up paradise / Where the truth was auto-tuned (Forever cult) / And its sadness I consumed (Forever cult) / Into my formats every day (Forever cult),” are paired with complex beats in the background to keep things interesting from the get-go. “Oil” features a nice cameo by Stevie Nicks, and has a great, pulsating bass line to set the stage for Albarn’s vocal croon. It’s a very 80’s, new wave type of song that takes me back to the days of the Walkman and bright clothing choices. Nicks’ contribution is small, but necessary, as she adds just the right type of mystique to the song. Read More “Gorillaz – Cracker Island”
Like many people who grew up in the height of the Drive-Thru Records era, discovering new up and coming bands was a bit of a tricky science. For me personally, I found many new artists through punk rock CD compilations, surfing the web on AbsolutePunk, getting to a concert early to check out the openers, or by skimming through the pages of Alternative Press. So how did a band like The Movielife make it so easy to enjoy their music? The Movielife were a punk rock band in spirit, but their ability to mix in hardcore elements and make their concerts an experience made me a lifelong fan. Early songs like “Hand Grenade” and “Walking On Glass” were my first introduction to the band, and it made me backtrack through their earlier catalog to grab as much music as I could get my hands on.
The third full-length studio album from The Movielife felt like a momentous opportunity for them to stand out from the pack of Drive-Thru bands that began dominating the greater part of the decade. Forty Hour Train Back To Penn was recorded at Salad Days Studio with veteran producer Brian McTernan, and his fingerprints are all over this punk classic. The band released two singles from the set, “Jamestown” and “Face or Kneecaps,” however during the promotional cycle of the record, The Movielife decided to call it quits. This kind of derailed the intentions of Drive-Thru Records doing a bigger push for the LP, but the legacy that this band left behind is still felt today. The majority of the songs written on this record were by lead vocalist Vinnie Caruana and guitarist Brandon Reilly, and they would end up being the last ones standing when The Movielife released Cities in Search of a Heart 14 years later. Forty Hour Train Back To Penn tackles many situations head-on like fractured relationships, traveling on the road, and growing up, while still having an emotional element to each track to showcase the band’s collective growth as people and musicians. Read More “The Movielife – Forty Hour Train Back To Penn”
What do you do when the world around you gets a little strange? Paramore seem to embrace the weird on This Is Why, their quirky sixth studio album that largely relies on post-punk chord progressions, Bloc Party influences worn proudly on their sleeves, all mixed in a blender on the highest speed to see what concoction comes out in the end. In the interviews leading up to the release of this record, the band seemed to be getting more comfortable in their collective skin. They mentioned that the songs they were crafting for the follow up to After Laughter were more “guitar-driven” and the band found themselves “listening to a lot of older music” that inspired them to make a career in music in the first place. Whereas After Laughter was originally seen as fairly dramatic departure from the punk-tinged sound the band had cut their teeth to early on, the same could easily be said about this next dramatic leap of faith on This Is Why. Paramore has always been a band that has challenged the artistic norms of what is expected of them, and have grown accustomed to their audience wanting a certain “version” of themselves. In what may be their most polarizing record to date, Paramore continue to push the envelope of creativity in dramatic ways, and find their band going through yet another reinvention. The metamorphosis of this trio may just be complete. Read More “Paramore – This Is Why”
There’s something amazing that happens when a group of musicians come together, with a like-minded approach to their sound, and deliver music that sounds completely different than anything else currently out there. Babyfang are here with their debut EP, called In The Face Of, that re-captures youthful exuberance paired with lyrics brimming with substance about making real change in this world. The band is Théo Mode (guitarist), Canteen Killa (drummer) and 13th Law (bassist), with all of the members being instrumentalists, producers, singers, and songwriters. Packed with talent, the band falls somewhere between the unpredictability of The Mars Volta, the pop-sensibilities of Radiohead, and the rock and roll spirit of The Rolling Stones. In the band’s own words, “The music is a response to / an expression of all that we’ve felt in the face of everything that has been / is happening right now; a lot of rage and joy and hope and sadness and gratefulness of just being able to make this music at all.” Babyfang might just be the most important band to storm onto the scene in years. Read More “Babyfang – In The Face Of”
The latest EP from Zebrahead comes at an important crossroads in their history. II is the second release from the band since adding the new vocalist/guitarist Adrian Estrella, and finds Zebrahead tinkering with their sound in order to discover what works best for them for the foreseeable future. Their last record, entitled III, was a thrilling reinvention of their dynamic sound that left the realm of possibilities wide open for where this artist could travel to next. Much like a storm coming out to sea at the wrong time, this ship occasionally steers off course, when they could’ve simplified the process of crafting these songs. The band covers a little bit of new ground by adding more metal riffs in one song, and attempts a ska/punk track on the EP that goes a bunch of directions, but never in a straight path. Read More “Zebrahead – II”
For those unfamiliar with the artist known as BANNERS, it is the solo project of the talented, and award-winning singer-songwriter, Michael Nelson. On his latest EP, entitled I Wish I Was Flawless, I’m Not, BANNERS firmly cement their status as a big name to watch in the pop realm. With a platinum single already to his name in “Someone To You,” Nelson’s songs transcend musical boundaries and makes the listener connect with him on a spiritual level. BANNERS would be perfect for fans of The Fray, Coldplay, and Dean Lewis, and this artist has made me a believer in his crisp pop production found on this record. Read More “BANNERS – I Wish I Was Flawless, I’m Not”
What do you get when you mix cabaret with polka, paired with a sliver of Danny Elfman-esque mystique to it? The answer can be found on Carnival Dust, the latest EP from the indie band known as Dust Bowl Faeries. The band is comprised of Ryder Cooley (accordion, singing saw, lead vocals), Jon B. Woodin (guitar, vocals), Rubi LaRue (lapsteel, vocals), Liz LoGiudice (bass, vocals) and Andrew Stein(percussion), and their willingness to push the envelope on what is possible in the folk genre is commendable. Dust Bowl Faeries seem very comfortable in their own quirky skin and proudly invite you to their show. Read More “Dust Bowl Faeries – Carnival Dust”
There are moments in our lives where we make a conscious effort to change the way we do things. Maybe it’s a change of careers, a lifestyle change of some sort, or an unforeseen change that’s completely out of our hands. New Found Glory are aware of all of these factors going into their latest album, Make The Most Of It, and they do their best to make the best out of a horrible situation. Guitarist Chad Gilbert’s cancer diagnosis influenced the majority of the songs on this album, but the overall message of hope and leaving behind a musical legacy are also prevalent here. Gilbert admitted, “I didn’t want this to be the ‘cancer record’ originally. But when we went on tour and people started hearing the story and connecting to it, I gave up on trying to control the narrative. Not all bands are dealt these cards, but we were. Let’s take these songs and help the disease get awareness and raise money for a cause that’s working on education and research for my rare cancer.” Make The Most Of It features several new songs, seven to be exact, with some reimagined acoustic versions added to end of the record to round things out. The reimagined songs came from their live set at Liberty Hall in Franklin, Tennessee, which came as a surprise to fans and myself alike. This seemed like a golden moment for NFG to give their fans acoustic studio versions of some of their favorite songs of all time, but instead it ends up as a missed opportunity.
New Found Glory has never shied away from their sensitive side, whether it comes from a pop-punk power ballad or reimagining their singles with an acoustic version. This side of them worked best on Coming Home, but the band has showed moments of promise throughout their tenure. New Found Glory have been called many things over their musical career, but “survivors” and “pop-punk legends” seem most appropriate now. Read More “New Found Glory – Make The Most Of It”
For those unfamiliar with Frightful Places, the emo band comes from the mind of Kevin Tiernan (Mighty Tortuga, Moving Brooklyn), and the self-titled EP tackles the theme of facing your fears head on. The set of songs was produced by Chris Teti, and it shows an artist growing gracefully in his thematic approach to songwriting. The EP was crafted during the pandemic and it showcases a reflection of an artist learning to take his direct influences and create something worthy of his own name.
The EP kicks off with the textured guitars of “Old Frame” that sets the stage nicely for the rest of the record. Tiernan sings over haunting guitars, “And now, a year/ A crooked frame hangs above the stairs / Windows open / ‘Cause I keep coming back / Like a ghost at the edge of the bed,” and its evident that he’s willing to face his fears with an open mind. The title track continues down the exploratory path with more picturesque instrumental parts that allow for Tiernan to hone in on the more atmospheric sections of the song. It’s eerily reminiscent of the vibe American Football went for on their latest LP, and hits its mark just as well. Read More “Frightful Places – Frightful Places”
The world can be a scary place. Wars have been going on since the beginning of time, and with the speed of the internet bringing information to our fingertips in seconds, it has become nearly impossible to block out all of the negativity in our lives. As a parent of three beautiful children, I have tried my best to shelter them from anything that could cause them any type of harm. With politicians in some states complicating matters by trying to re-write, or re-frame historical events in the way they see fit, it seems like a sense of urgency has been created to keep these people in check. Anti-Flag have returned at the perfect time with their 13th studio album, with the aptly titled Lies They Tell Our Children. The music that comes through the speakers sounds as passionate as these punk rockers have ever been, and seven out of the eleven songs found on the LP feature an outside collaborator. These contributions by their friends in other bands never seem out of place, and instead bring more voices into the “fight of our lives.” Read More “Anti-Flag – Lies They Tell Our Children”