Sunday, December 28, 2014
Artist: The Gaslight Anthem
"Mae" is a song that appears to be about the vocalist thinking back on an old love. Perhaps she was his first love but it was definitely someone he felt a strong connection to. He asks her to go out and maybe they can rekindle some of that flame which they once had. With his current life so hectic with work or just living with the pressures of being older, he's looking for some meaning or something to hold on to. Perhaps "Mae" is who is searching for. The Gaslight Anthem formed as a band back in 2006, hailing from New Jersey. The band was originally called This Charming Man but soon changed their name to The Gaslight Anthem once their line-up was set. In 2007, the band released it's first album, "Sink Or Swim". This album was well received among most punk rock avenues as well as getting some respect in mainstream publications such as Spin Magazine. 2008 saw the band first release the EP "Senor And The Queen", then their landmark album "The '59 Sound", which was released through SideOneDummy Records. With singles such as "The '59 Sound", "Old White Lincoln" and "Great Expectations", this was voted the #1 album of 2008 by eMusic. Of course, with the band being from New Jersey, and with Brian Fallon's songwriting and singing style, The Gaslight Anthem often draws comparisons to a young Bruce Springsteen. Fallon does not shy away from the fact the he is a big fan of Bruce and at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival, Springsteen joined The Gaslight Anthem on stage for a raucous rendition of "The '59 Sound". Fallon then returned the favor by joining Springsteen's set to sing along on "No Surrender". In 2010, the band released "American Slang". This album debuted at #16 on the Billboard 200 charts thanks in part to the hit singles "American Slang" and "Bring It On". In 2011, The Gaslight Anthem signed up with Mercury Records and in 2012, released it's fourth album "Handwritten". "Handwritten" was another solid album for the band featuring the singles "45" and "Here Comes My Man". That same year at the DeLuna Fest in Florida, Fallon had another treat when Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam joined them on stage to perform PJ's "State Of Love And Trust". In 2013 the band first released "Singles Collection" which featured the band's nine 7" singles in one package. They also released their very first DVD, "Live In London". 2014 saw the compilation "The B-Sides" released. This featured some, but not all, of The Gaslight Anthem's rare songs, acoustic songs and some live tracks as well. 2014 also saw the release of the band's most recent album, "Get Hurt". With singles like "Get Hurt", "Stay Vicious" and "Rollin' And Tumblin'", you can see the band was trying to alter their style a little bit, not necessarily in a good way. For me personally, I didn't think this stylistic change helped their sound. I think maybe they were trying to get away from the constant Springsteen comparisons but I think that sound is what made them a great band. I'm not saying the new album was terrible, I just didn't find it on par with their previous three releases. Currently, The Gaslight Anthem is in full support of "Get Hurt" doing the touring and promotion thing. The Gaslight Anthem is a band that makes me hopeful that rock and roll is not dead. Brian Fallon is a great songwriter and heartfelt singer and their songs, for the most part, are constructed beautifully. Though early on, they were lumped in the punk rock scene, I don't necessarily see them as a punk rock band. If you took many of the band's influences, bands like The Replacements, Bouncing Souls, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, The Clash, Social Distortion and The Rolling Stones, and mixed these band's styles in a pot, you'd probably churn out something that sounds like The Gaslight Anthem, a band I feel is one of the best out there right now.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Song: "Don't Mosh The Organ"
Artist: The Dopamines
"Don't Mosh The Organ" is a song that appears to be how some people are constantly telling you how you should live your life or offering advice as to which paths you should choose. Once you brush these people off and start making your own decisions and making your own mistakes to learn from, then you will find what path to choose. The irony is that once you've found yourself and your calling, it's these same people that supposedly knew it all that come crawling back to you asking how you did this or did that. So you just brush them off again. The Dopamines formed as a band back in 2006, hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio. The band was originally intended to be a side project for members of Black Tie Bombers and Ukraine Crane. After a short tour in 2007 opening for The Queers, the members decided to break up their original bands and put the primary focus on The Dopamines. In 2008, the band hooked up with It's Alive Records and had two releases, their debut full length album "The Dopamines" and a split 7" with Till Plains. A live performance by The Dopamines at the 2009 Insubordination Fest was recorded and released as a live cd/dvd. Many punk fanzines and critics were raving about The Dopamines live show and the passion and energy and overall fun the band seemed to be having while performing. 2009 also saw the band release the EP "Soap And Lampshades" as well as a split with The Copyrights. In 2010, The Dopamines signed with Paper + Plastick Records and released their second full length album "Expect The Worst". The band then earned the opening slot on a Less Than Jake tour to support the album. They also released a 7" split with Be My Doppelganger that year as well. 2011 saw the band release a split with fellow punks Dear Landlord. In 2012, The Dopamines returned to It's Alive Records and released "Vices". Currently, while there has not been any definitive news that the band has any new material ready for release, they have in fact tracked some demos back in 2013, possibly for a new album. In 2014, the band released a song on their Bandcamp page that was available for free download. The Dopamines bring a brand of high energy, melodic pop punk that has similarities with fellow punk bands such as Dear Landlord, The Flatliners, Four Year Strong and House Boat. They're pop punk, but now quite as clean as a Green Day but a little more gritty like Green Day's side project Pinhead Gunpowder. If you're a fan of high energy, melodic punk rock, then The Dopamines is a band you should give a listen to.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Song: "Jackie Robinson"
Album: "Invisible Stars"
"Jackie Robinson" is a song about the life of a particular black man who when he was young saw firsthand the segregation and hatred towards him. His Dad took him to see Jackie Robinson, perhaps the first sign of any type of progress for him for his race, not particularly in race relations however. He saw how mixed race relationships drew even more hatred as he fell for a white girl who was later found in a ditch because of their relationship. The song culminates with the election of a black President and the man dies knowing that America has changed so much. He dreamed of this day happening, but never thought it would. It's basically about racial progress in America. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it is better then when this man was growing up. Everclear formed as a band back in 1991. Following the break up of his previous band Colorfinger, Art Alexakis moved to Portland, Oregon and put an add out in a local magazine. Craig Montoya (bass) and Scott Cuthbert (drums) would answer the add and Everclear was born. Their first two releases "Nervous & Weird" EP and "World Of Noise" were both recorded in a friend's basement and you can hear the real, raw and garage-y feel to those recordings. In 1995, Everclear signed with Capitol Records and released "Sparkle And Fade". The album featured the singles "Heroin Girl", "Heartspark Dollarsign" and "Santa Monica", the single that really propelled the album to platinum status. In 1997, the band released "So Much For The Afterglow", featuring the singles "Everything To Everyone", "I Will Buy You A New Life" and "Father Of Mine", the latter which earned the band Billboard's Modern Rock Band Of The Year for 1998. 2000 saw the band release "Songs From An American Movie Vol. 1: Learning How To Smile". This album featured the band's most successful single, "Wonderful". "Songs From An American Movie Vol. 2: Good Time For A Bad Attitude" was released just four months later. This probably hurt the sales of this album because the promotion was still in motion for the first volume. The second release kind of got lost in the mix with the consumer public. In 2003, the band released "Slow Motion Daydream", featuring the singles "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom" and "The New York Times". At this point, Capitol was basically not promoting Everclear or the album. It only wound up selling just over 100,000 copies. To make matters worse, Montoya and Eklund both parted ways with the band. In 2004, Everclear finished out their contract with Capitol by releasing the greatest hits compilation, "Ten Years Gone: The Best Of Everclear 1994-2004". In 2006, Everclear signed with Eleven Seven Music and released "Welcome To The Drama Club" which featured the singles "Hater" and "Glorious". 2008 saw the band release the all cover album "The Vegas Years", oddly enough it was released through Capitol. 2009 saw the band release "In A Different Light", which featured re-recordings of previous Everclear hits, mostly in an acoustic, stripped down setting. The album featured two unreleased tracks, "Here Comes The Darkness" and "At The End Of The Day". In 2011, the band released "Return To Santa Monica", featuring re-recordings of old songs and some covers, and "Extended Versions", a live album. 2012 saw the band release their first new album in six years, "Invisible Stars". The first single released on this album was "Be Careful What You Ask For". After the release of this album Alexakis created the Summerland Tour. This tour was a 90's nostalgia tour featuring Everclear and such bands as Lit, Marcy Playground, Live, Filter, Sponge, Eve 6 and Soul Asylum to name a few. Currently, Alexakis told the audience at a 2014 Summerland Tour date that the band are in fact working on a new album to be released soon. Everclear is Art Alexakis' baby. He is the chief songwriter and lyricist. While they came out of the post-grunge era, their songs tend to veer more toward power pop. They have garage band, noisy moments (mostly on their first two albums) but generally their songs are very melodic and pop orientated. Alexakis' lyrics are simple, often storytelling in nature. But they tend to be personal or even when he writes about someone else's story, like "Jackie Robinson", he tends to make that very personal as well. His songs are very straightforward is what I'm trying to say. They are not hard to decipher like some other band's songs are. While the band's popularity has waned since 2000, they have definitely made an impact on the music scene and their style and sound is unmistakenly original.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Artist: Matt Skiba And The Sekrets
"Voices" is a song that appears to be about someone suffering from schizophrenia. The person being described in the song is in such a bad mental state that they feel they are suffocating. Their own reality is a living hell and the outside world just can't comprehend or understand what they are dealing with. Those who are trying to offer help just can't get through. Matt Skiba got his start in the music world back in 1996, hailing from Chicago, Illinois. He is best known as the guitarist/vocalist for seminal punk band Alkaline Trio. The influential Alkaline Trio have released nine studio albums along with various splits and compilations over the last 18 plus years. Matt Skiba got his first taste of doing the solo thing in 2002 when he and 7 Seconds frontman Kevin Seconds released a split where both artists performed basically acoustic songs. In 2006, Skiba and F-Minus bassist Josiah Steinbrick formed the band Heavens and released the album "Patent Pending". This featured a more electronic sound incorporating drum machines and samples. 2010 saw Skiba release a solo album called "Demos". This was basically demo tracks that Skiba had on his personal computer. The tracks were songs that may or may not appear on future Alkaline Trio projects or future side projects. Either way, these were the songs in their infancy stage. 2012 was a busy year for Skiba on the side project front. First he formed a band called The Hell with Atom Willard, drummer for both The Offspring and Angels And Airwaves. This band would have two releases, 2012's "Sauve Les Requins" and 2013's "Southern Medicine". Also in 2012, Skiba formed a band featuring AFI bassist Hunter Burgan and My Chemical Romance drummer Jarrod Alexander. This band was called Matt Skiba and the Sekrets and they released one album called "Babylon", "Voices" being the lead single off of that album. Currently Skiba has confirmed that he is at work on a new solo album. He is also working with Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 on a children's punk album. Alkaline Trio last released an album in 2013 called "My Shame Is True". While Alkaline Trio is Skiba's main focus, he seems to make time for his various solo projects as well. The common thread in all of his music are his lyrics which tend to be personal and gravitate towards the darker things in life and relationships. No surprise that he is very much influenced by bands like The Cure, The Damned and Nirvana, all three bands offer up emotional, dark and personal lyrics in their songs. Like the Trio was heavily influenced by a band like The Misfits, younger bands such as My Chemical Romance were most likely influenced by Alkaline Trio. Matt Skiba's songwriting, solo and with Alkaline Trio, has left a permanent mark on the musical landscape.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Song: "Only Human"
Artist: 12 Stones
Album: "Beneath The Scars"
"Only Human" is a song that appears to be about picking somebody up who's down. There are many things in life that don't go exactly your way and life is full of struggle and adversity, but it is important that we stay strong and positive and try to move forward and not let the setbacks get you down. It also helps to have someone that is giving you positive reinforcement, trying to steer you in the right direction. We are all human. We all make mistakes. It's what you learn from them that makes you a better person. 12 Stones formed as a band back in 2000, hailing from Louisiana. The band would sign with Wind-up Records and in 2002, release their self-titled debut. Thanks to the singles "Broken", "The Way I Feel" and "Crash", this album debuted at #147 on the Billboard 200 charts. 12 Stones vocalist Paul McCoy was featured on the Evanescence award winning song "Bring Me To Life" and that gave the band the shot in the arm it needed. In 2004, the band released "Potter's Field" which debuted at #29 on the Billboard 200, making it 12 Stones highest charting album. "Potter's Field" featured the singles "Far Away", "Photograph" and "Shadows". 2007 saw the band release "Anthem For The Underdog" featuring the songs "Lie To Me", "Anthem For The Underdog", "Adrenaline" and "Broken Road". "Lie To Me" and "Anthem For The Underdog" both cracked the top 30 on the Mainstram Rock charts. In 2010, the band released the EP "The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday" which featured the single "We Are One". In 2012, 12 Stones relationship with Wind-up Records had come to an end and the band signed on with Executive Music Group to release their fourth full length studio album, "Beneath The Scars". This album featured the singles "Bulletproof" and "Worlds Collide". Currently, there is no news of 12 Stones working on a new album that I know of. While the band isn't hugely successful, they have sold over 2 million records worldwide which isn't too shabby at all. Their style is mainstream, radio rock much in the same vein as Three Days Grace, 3 Doors Down, Creed or Thousand Foot Krutch. At times they get heavy, but they tend to be more melodic. Sometimes they are referred to as a Christian rock band, but they don't refer to themselves as that. Though their beliefs are clearly Christian, they like to not be confined to one thing in their music. There has been some movement of band members in the band, but the constant has always been vocalist Paul McCoy who writes all the lyrics and arranges most of the music. Good band, not great.. just good.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Artist: Tim Barry
Album: "40 Miler"
Like so many of Tim Barry's songs, "Wezeltown" is about the lonely traveller and the places and people he meets along the way. Wezeltown Drive is located in the small town of Old Fort, North Carolina where the population exceeds just over 900 people. The town is known for it's beautiful, natural waterfalls and it's several festivals, including free music festivals plus several re-enactments of Revolutionary War engagements. It's the type of place that brings a smile to the lonely travellers face, a place of comfort, but he can't stay long. He's soon back on the road to continue his travels. Tim Barry is a folk punk solo artist from Richmond, Virginia. His musical roots date back to 1990, where he joined Richmond, Virginia hardcore punk band Avail. For 12 years as frontman of Avail, the band dropped six full length albums, two demo albums, four EP's and three live albums. Avail spent the early part of their career on Lookout! Records before going to Fat Wreck Chords for their last two releases. 2002's "Front Porch Stories" was the band's last official release and though they haven't performed together since 2008, they have never officially disbanded. In 1994/1995, Barry also played bass guitar for the short-lived punk folk band (Young) Pioneers. Perhaps this is where Barry caught the bug to perform acoustic, rootsy music. Barry began his solo career in 2004. Signing with Suburban Home Records, Barry's first solo release was "Laurel Street Demo 2005", released in 2006. This album would foreshadow where Barry wanted to go with his music, as shown with the acoustic "Idle Idylist". 2006 also saw Barry release "Rivanna Junction". This album featured the crowd favorite and sing-a-long "Avoiding Catatonic Surrender". Continuing with his acoustic folk punk style, Barry released "Manchester" in 2008, featuring the songs "This November" and "South Hill". 2010 saw the release of "28th & Stonewall", featuring crowd favorites like "Thing Of The Past" and "Walk 500 Miles". In 2012, Barry signed on with Chunksaah Records, the record company founded by the Bouncing Souls. His first release with Chunksaah was "40 Miler", featuring tracks like "Driver Pull", "40 Miler" and "Fine Foods Market". In 2014, "Raising Hell & Living Cheap: Live In Richmond" was released, a live album recorded in Barry's hometown. Currently, Barry's new album "Lost & Rootless" is set to be released on November 28, 2014. He also has already set up a string of west coast tour dates that will begin early in 2015. The new craze in the punk rock world has been for lead singers to record stripped down, acoustic, folksy type material. Whether it's Tim Barry, Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan, Lagwagon's Joey Cape or No Use For A Name's Tony Sly, more and more punk frontmen are getting into the acoustic thing. Some do it better than others, but to me, the two that stand out above the rest are Chuck Ragan and Tim Barry. Barry, in particular, has a way of songwriting that brings you to the places he's describing, introduces you to the people he meets along the way and really makes you feel like you're riding shotgun as he travels around the country to places that you probably don't know or maybe even never heard of. It's American roots music, along the lines of early country and folk, but with an edge that can only come from a punk rock performer.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Song: "Champion Beyond Blessing"
Album: "A Types"
"Champion Beyond Blessing" is a song that appears to be about manipulation and deception. It tells of someone who preys on people using sympathy to ultimately get what they want. The vocalist seems to be the one who is finally gonna stand up to this person and take the side of all who became victims of this manipulative person. Hopesfall formed as a band back in 1998, hailing from North Carolina. They started off as a Christian hardcore band. In 1999, they released their first album, "The Frailty Of Words" on DTS Records. This album was heavily influenced by religion. In 2001, the band released the EP "No Wings To Speak Of". In 2002, Hopesfall hooked up with Trustkill Records and released "The Satellite Years". This would be the first album to feature Jay Forrest on vocals as founding vocalist Doug Venable left the band. It was also the first album where the band began de-emphasizing their religious influences on their music. 2004 saw the band do a major shift in sound, moving away from post-hardcore and becoming more alternative rock orientated. This can be seen with their album "A Types". Thanks to the lead single "Icarus", "A Types" was probably the band's most successful release as they began to get some radio recognition. For 2007's "Magnetic North", the band meshed their new alternative rock style with some of their old post hardcore sounds. Hopesfall barely toured in support of "Magnetic North" however. Inner turmoil and constant problems with their label Trustkill Records eventually caused the band to call it quits in 2008. In 2009, there were rumors out there that vocalist Jay Forrest was going to track vocals over some unfinished Hopesfall songs but that never came to fruition. In 2011, the band reunited with original vocalist Doug Venable to play two shows in their home state of North Carolina. Currently, there is no news on the Hopesfall front. After those two reunion shows in 2011, the band members parted ways, most likely closing the book on Hopesfall. The band could never keep a steady line-up nor could they stick with a signature sound. They always seemed to struggle to find their musical identity and bands like that often don't last. Throw in the tension with their record label, and it seemed that this was a band that was destined to fail.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Song: "Song For Mike"
Artist: The Real McKenzies
"Song For Mike" is a tongue in cheek ode to NOFX frontman Fat Mike. Fat Mike was the person who recognized The Real McKenzies as a band, signed them to his famous punk label Fat Wreck Chords and has been the band's longtime producer. "Song For Mike" is like a playful thank you for everything Fat Mike has done for the band. The song appears as a secret track on The Real McKenzies latest effort, "Westwinds". The Real McKenzies formed as a band back in 1992, hailing from British Columbia, Canada. The band was founded by vocalist Paul McKenzie and guitarist Mark Boland. Through the years, the band has featured over 100 different musicians, but McKenzie and Boland have always been the constants. In 1995, the band released their debut album, "Real McKenzies". This album would feature such Celtic favorites as "Scots Wha' Ha'e" and "Loch Lomond". In 1998, the band released "Clash Of The Tartans", featuring the single "Mainland" and a cover of the traditional song "Auld Lang Syne". 2001 saw the band release "Loch'd And Loaded" featuring such Scottish drinking anthems like "Whiskey Scotch Whiskey". In 2002, the band released their first live album, "Pissed Tae Th' Gills". This album was a tribute to Robbie Burns, a famous Scottish poet and lyricist from the 1700's. 2003 saw the release of "Oot & Aboot". This album featured the Robbie Burns penned "Ye Banks And Braes". In 2005, the band released their fifth studio album "10,000 Shots". This album would feature the songs "Pour Decisions", "Farewell To Nova Scotia" and the crowd favorite "Bugger Off". In 2008, the band dropped the album "Off The Leash". This album would feature two of the bands more popular songs, "Chip" and "Drink Some More". In 2010, The Real McKenzies released "Shine Not Burn", a live acoustic pub show which was recorded in Germany. 2012 saw the band released their latest effort, "Westwinds", featuring the singles "The Tempest" and "My Luck Is So Bad". Currently, The Real McKenzies announced they would be recording their next album in San Francisco in the Fall of 2014. This record would again be produced by Fat Mike and released on Fat Wreck Chords. While the Dropkick Murphys seem to be heralded as the face of Celtic punk music, The Real McKenzies were actually a band 4 years before the Murphys formed. Also, while the Murphys steer toward their Irish roots, The Real McKenzies aren't afraid of wearing their Scottish heritage on their sleeves. What both bands do have in common is their pride in their cultural roots and a pride in their local community. If you like your Celtic punk filled with pub anthems, traditional covers and sing-a-long, drink-a-long favorities, then The Real McKenzies are a band for you!
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Song: "Hurt No One"
Artist: The Used
"Hurt No One" appears to be a song about someone who is dealing with regret. While owning his own shortcomings and taking his share of the blame for his failed relationship, he's not quite sure he can overcome the guilt of what he has done. He did not mean to hurt anybody but what's done is done and he has to live with that. He must learn from his mistakes and get through his self hate. The Used formed as a band back in 2001, hailing from Utah. The band was formed by members Branden Steineckert, Quinn Allman and Jeph Howard. Bert McCracken was the last member to join the band as vocalist and lyricist. The Used self recorded "Demos From The Basement" and eventually signed with Reprise Records. John Feldmann, of the band Goldfinger, not only helped the band get signed but also produced their debut self titled album in 2002. This critically acclaimed album went gold thanks in part to the hit singles "A Box Full Of Sharp Objects", "The Taste Of Ink", "Buried Myself Alive" and "Blue And Yellow". In 2003, "Maybe Memories", a cd/dvd featuring live tracks and unreleased material, was released. 2004 saw the release of "In Love And Death", featuring the singles "I Caught Fire", "All That I've Got" and "Take It Away". This album was re-released in 2005 and featured a cover of Queen's "Under Pressure" with some help from the band My Chemical Romance. In 2006, Steineckert left the band to join Rancid. The Used then released a double live album titled "Berth". In 2007, the band released "Lies For The Liars". This album charted in the top 5 in more than 7 countries and featured the tracks "The Bird And The Worm", "Liar Liar (Burn In Hell)", "Pretty Handsome Awkward" and "Paralyzed". 2008 saw the release of "Shallow Believers", an EP that contained the band's b-sides. This EP charted #14 on Itunes Top 100 albums. In 2009, the band released "Artwork". The band wanted to return to the more aggressive style that was prominent on their debut album and the first single on the album, "Blood On My Hands", showed that. In 2011, the band left Reprise Records and formed their own label, Anger Music Group. Their first release on their own label was "Vulnerable". This album featured the songs "I Come Alive" and "Hands And Faces". In 2013, "Vulnerable" was re-released as "Vulnerable (II)". This release featured b-sides and bonus material. 2013 also saw the release of an EP titled "The Ocean Of The Sky". In 2014, "Imaginary Enemy", the band's sixth full length studio album, was released on their own label with a distribution deal through Hopeless Records. "Cry" and "Revolution" were the first two singles from their latest album. Currently, the band is promoting "Imaginary Enemy" through touring and appearances. The Used came out at a time when bands who were based in pop punk, melodic rock, emo and screamo began to rule the airwaves. The Used, along with contemporaries My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday seemed to be all the rage in the early to mid 2000's. Those bands continue to flourish because they are all good bands despite what genre is popular at the time so while other bands disappear into obscurity, The Used continues to push forward and remain relevant.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Song: "About An Apparition"
Album: "Make Your Move"
"About An Apparition" is a song that appears to be about someone who is a ghost, an apparition or perhaps, an angel that comes back to help someone who maybe has the right intentions, but is heading down the wrong path. Though this person ignores him, or probably can't see him, the apparition is persistent and is not going to turn his back on this person. Meriwether formed as a band back in 2003, hailing from Louisiana. In 2004, the band independently released an EP titled "Meriwether". 2005 saw the band sign with GVE Records and release their debut full length album, "Make Your Move". Meriwether would play more than 300 shows in one calendar year to promote this album. In 2006, the band signed with Suretone Records and re-released "Make Your Move" with added bonus tracks. In 2007, the band recorded a new album called "Sons Of Our Fathers" but due to a conflict with Suretone, the album was never released. The album is available for download on Meriwether's bandcamp page. In 2009, Meriwether, now free of their contract with Suretone, independently recorded and released their third album, "Plug In The Snakes". This album featured the single "If You Had Guts, I'd Hate 'Em". The last release from Meriwether came in 2011, an EP entitled "MWBS". Currently, only Andrew Reilley (vocalist, guitarist, founder and songwriter) is still with the band as all of the original members have left to do other things. Reilley has said he plans to continue on with Meriwether as well as do multiple other projects. Meriwether is a band that falls somewhere between pop/punk and alternative rock. The band never really crossed over and had much mainstream success but you can't say they weren't a hardworking band. They toured extensively after their releases, trying to promote themselves as best they could but sometimes the masses just don't gravitate to some things. I often talk about those bands that separate themselves and become the leaders of certain genres, while others kind of fall back in the pack and follow. Meriwether is one of the followers. Not bad music by any means, just nothing to get you overly excited about.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Song: "Youth Overrided" (acoustic)
Artist: Cave In
Album: "Live Airwaves"
"Youth Overrided" is a song that appears to be about someone who is very old and possibly close to dying. He feels his life has passed him by much too soon and maybe, he didn't totally soak up his youth. At times, he still feels young at heart, but his memory is starting to fade as well as his existence on this Earth. The original version of "Youth Overrided" appeared on Cave In's 2003 album "Antenna". The version I chose for my song of the week is an acoustic version that appeared on Cave In's 2005 live compilation, "Live Airwaves". Cave In formed as a band back in 1995, hailing from Methuen, Massachusetts. The band was formed by vocalist Jay Frechette and guitarist Stephen Brodsky. The band released a demo and several split 7" recordings before hooking up with Hydra Head Records and releasing their self/titled 7" in 1997. Frechette would leave the band to focus his energies on his other band Ten Yard Fight. In 1998, "Beyond Hypothermia" was released which was basically a compilation of all the 7" recordings that Cave In recorded up to that point. 1998 also saw the band release their very first full length album "Until Your Heart Stops". This album was the first to feature Stephen Brodsky on lead vocals. Up to this point, Cave In was pretty much a metalcore band. With the 1999 release of "Creative Eclipses", this would begin the so called "space rock" period for the band. In 2000, the band released "Jupiter". This album continued on with a melodic, atmospheric sound. People began calling the band "emo-metal Radiohead", a description that the members of Cave In whole-heartedly disagreed with. 2002's "Tides Of Tomorrow" EP continued on the same path as their previous two releases. In 2003, Cave In signed with major label RCA Records and released "Antenna". This album saw the band shift gears once again to a more modern rock/mainstream rock sound. "Antenna" would be Cave In's only album to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching #169, thanks in part to the singles "Anchor" and "Inspire". The band earned a slot on the Lollapalooza tour that year, as well as an opening slot on the Foo Fighters European tour. In 2005, Cave In parted ways with RCA and returned to Hydra Head Records. They also returned to their metal roots with the release of "Perfect Pitch Black". In 2006, the band went on a short hiatus. Some three years later in 2009, Cave In returned with the EP "Planets Of Old". In 2010, Brodsky said that the band would be more selective about their touring schedule and that future Cave In releases may be more focused on a digital medium. In 2011, Cave In released "White Silence". This album saw the band delve more into metal with hints of hardcore. 2013 saw the band release the "Untitled" EP, which basically featured three demos of previously released songs. Currently, not much news on the Cave In front. Brodsky does have several side projects so maybe he has just not set aside any time to work on new material with Cave In. This band has went through so many stylistic changes that if you heard them today as compared to what they were playing in the early 2000's, you wouldn't even know it was the same band! Maybe that's what has hurt them on a mainstream success level but in the underground music scene, Cave In is well respected both musically and lyrically.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Song: "Blame It On Me"
Artist: Unwritten Law
Album: "Live And Lawless"
"Blame It On Me" is a song that appears to be about a relationship where the vocalist has been beaten down emotionally and mentally by his significant other. The verbal assaults, the chastising, the being locked out and let down has come to a head and he's finally ready to set her free and be done with this abusive relationship. This is a live version of the song taken from Unwritten Law's 2008 DVD "Live And Lawless". The original version of the song can be found on U.L.'s 2002 album "Elva". Unwritten Law formed as a band back in 1990, hailing from just outside San Diego, California. In 1992, the band released a cassette demo followed by a 7" vinyl release in 1993 called "Blurr". In 1994, Unwritten Law dropped their first full length album, "Blue Room", through Red Eye Records. This album featured songs like "CPK", "Shallow" and "Suzanne", which are still crowd favorites to this day. The band caught the ear of Epic Records who signed them to a deal. 1996 saw the band release "Oz Factor". This album featured the songs "Denied" and "Superman" and earned the band support slots on tours with Blink 182 and Pennywise. In 1997, the band signed with Interscope Records and in 1998 they released their self-titled album "Unwritten Law". This album featured the singles "Lonesome", "Cailin" and "Teenage Suicide" and earned them a slot on the Vans Warped Tour which took Unwritten Law across North America, Europe and Australia. 2002's "Elva" was the mainstream breakthrough for Unwritten Law. The band steered away from their poppy punk style and went more radio accessible rock and it paid off with their single and most popular song "Seein' Red". That single would reach #1 on the U.S. Modern Rock charts. In 2003, Unwritten Law signed with Lava Records and released "Music In High Places", a live acoustic compilation recorded in various places in Yellowstone National Park. 2005 saw the band release "Here's To The Mourning", featuring the singles "She Says" and "Save Me (Wake Up Call)", which would peak at #5 on the U.S. Modern Rock charts. In 2007, the band released a greatest hits compilation called "The Hit List", the lead single off of that was the newly recorded "Shoulda Known Better". In 2008, the band signed with Suburban Noize Records and released the live DVD, "Live And Lawless", which was recorded at the Key Club in Los Angeles, California. In 2011, Unwritten Law released their latest album "Swan", featuring the single "Starships And Apocalypse". In 2013, it was said the band was working on an acoustic album and that they would then begin work on a new studio album. Currently, 2014 is nearing an end and there is no news about either Unwritten Law's acoustic album or their new studio album. Perhaps they are still hard at work on them, I don't know. When bands like Blink 182 and Green Day started getting more and more popular it was not uncommon for major labels to seek out similar bands, trying to catch lightning in a bottle and that was the case with Unwritten Law. It wasn't until the band veered away from their pop punk roots and became more mainstream rock that they began to establish their musical identity. The height of their popularity came between 2002 and 2007 and they've been trying to reach that ever since. Unfortunately, they have had trouble maintaining a stable line-up, mostly due to the volatility of front man Scott Russo. "Elva" was the band's masterpiece while most of their other albums failed to live up to that though their "self-titled" is very solid as well.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Artist: Authority Zero
Album: "Less Rhythm, More Booze"
"Courage" is a song that appears to be about overcoming any adversity that comes your way. It's an uplifting song about someone that continues to be beaten down by life but continues to pick him or herself up and refuses to stand down to anyone or anything. This person defines courage. The original version of "Courage" appeared on Authority Zero's 2007 album "12:34". The version I chose for my song of the week is a live acoustic performance from the band's 2012 album "Less Rhythm, More Booze". Authority Zero formed as a band back in 1994, hailing from Mesa, Arizona. It took the band nearly eight years to finally settle on a line-up before they would release their debut album. Finally in 2002, the band signed on with Lava Records who released their first album, "A Passage In Time". This album featured the songs "One More Minute" and "Over Seasons". The success of the album earned Authority Zero support slots for bands such as No Use For A Name, The Starting Line, Sum 41, Everclear, Guttermouth and H2O. In 2004, the band's second album, "Andiamo" was released. This was a much more politically charged album as shown in songs like "Revolution", "A Thousand Years Of War" and the Wall Of Voodoo cover, "Mexican Radio". 2006 saw the band release the live acoustic compilation "Rhythm And Booze" through Suburban Noize Records. In 2007, Authority Zero released "12:34". As I said before, this album features the single and my song of the week, "Courage". In 2010, Authority Zero signed with Hardline Entertainment, a company co-owned by Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge, and released "Stories Of Survival". This album peaked at #5 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers Chart thanks in part to songs like "Big Bad World" and the anthemic "Get It Right". 2012 saw the second installment of a live acoustic compilation in the form of "Less Rhythm, More Booze". In 2013, Authority Zero dropped their latest album "The Tipping Point". This album features the singles "No Other Place", "Lift One Up" and "Today We Heard The News" which is said to be a tribute to the late Tony Sly of No Use For A Name. Currently, there has been no news of new material coming out from the Authority Zero camp, though they are active, just completing a European tour and having dates set up for a Fall U.S. tour. The band was heavily influenced by groups like Bad Religion, Pennywise and Sublime and you can definitely hear elements from those three bands in Authority Zero's music. They are parts skate punk, parts politically charged punk and parts reggae/ska punk. Authority Zero is big time in my opinion. Easily one of my favorite bands, Authority Zero can be edgy, can rock out or they can groove and they do all of the above the way it's supposed to be done.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Artist: Foxboro Hot Tubs
Album: "Stop Drop And Roll!!!"
"Alligator" is a song that appears to be about someone who aggravates, irritates and agitates the vocalist. The vocalist just wants the person to get away from him as he sees him as a shady character and someone he doesn't want to associate with. "Alligator" doesn't contain the best lyrics in the world but it is a cool Kinks style garage rocker. Foxboro Hot Tubs formed as a band back in 2007, hailing from the Bay Area in California. It has been said that the band formed after a few late night jams and a few too many bottles of wine. At first, the band tried to hide their identity, using fake names and what not. Of course, anyone who heard their music automatically started drawing Green Day comparisons and eventually, they were proven right as all of the members of Green Day are in the Foxboro Hot Tubs. Unlike other Green Day side projects Pinhead Gunpowder, who had a more gritty punk feel, and The Network, which was an ode to early 80's electro, new wave style pop, the Foxboro Hot Tubs had a stripped down garage rock feel. In 2008, the band dropped their first full length album, "Stop Drop And Roll!!!". The lead single "Mother Mary" reached #16 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The second single on the album was "The Pedestrian". In 2010, the band played a new song live called "Fuck Time". In 2012, "Fuck Time" saw the light of day on a record, but it was on Green Day's album "Dos!". "Dos!" would be the second of a trilogy of albums Green Day released in late 2012. In fact, it has been rumored that "Dos!" was originally supposed to be the second Foxboro Hot Tubs album. In 2013, the Foxboro Hot Tubs performed a secret show in Oakland. The performance featured several songs off of "Dos!" as well as the majority of "Stop Drop And Roll!!!". In 2014, the band performed at the SXSW Festival in Texas. Currently, the Foxboro Hot Tubs remain active, but it is important to remember that they are a side project and Green Day is the main focus of members Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool and Jason White. The band seems to pop up here and there during Green Day downtime. Besides playing the SXSW festival recently, there doesn't appear to be any new material coming out by the Foxboro Hot Tubs anytime soon.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Song: "Ink Soaked Pages"
Artist: Thought Riot
Album: "Sketches Of Undying Will"
"Ink Soaked Pages" is a song that appears to be about the beauty of undying will. There's something impactful about someone who has been through so much physically, emotionally and psychologically, yet, there's still a fire inside of them. A spark that's just looking to ignite. For a punk song, the lyrics are quite poetic. Thought Riot formed as a band back in 1997, hailing from California. The band was driven by progressive political thoughts that many of their lyrics expressed. They were highly influenced by the writings of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. After some line-up shuffling, the band recorded a demo in 1998 called "Our Six Best Takes". 2000 saw the band record yet another demo titled "Bright Dreams For A Dark World". By 2001, Thought Riot caught the ear of label A-F Records and in 2002 the label released Thought Riot's debut full length album, "Shattered Mirror Syndrome". Thought Riot began touring with bands you would consider their peers in punk rock such as Anti-Flag, Good Riddance, Pipedown and Strike Anywhere. In 2003 the band released the EP "The Dangerous Doctrine Of Empathy". Later in that year, the band released their second full length album, "Sketches Of Undying Will". Between 2004 and 2006, Thought Riot toured relentlessly, including an appearance on the Warped Tour. In 2007, the band confirmed on their MySpace page that they had several songs written but not recorded as well as having some songs recorded that were never released. Unfortunately, Thought Riot was basically disbanded by 2008. Currently, Thought Riot is no longer a band. They could never quite keep a stable line-up over the years and it just seemed like the band was going nowhere. They did have one song surface after their break-up called "Rock Is Not Revolution" but i'm not quite sure what year that came out, perhaps it was one of those finished songs that the band was referring to on their MySpace post. If you're a fan of politically charged punk like Anti-Flag, Pennywise, Good Riddance or Rise Against then perhaps you should give Thought Riot a go. Not a real groundbreaking band, but not bad either.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Song: "Closet Monsters"
Artist: Sink The Bismark
Album: "Sine Metu"
"Closet Monsters" is a song that appears to be about being stuck in a rut in life. The vocalist seems prone to making the same mistakes over and over again and there just doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. It seems he feels that time is running out for him to make the necessary changes to steer his life in the right direction. Sink The Bismark formed as a band back in 2008, hailing from St. Louis, Missouri. It took the band a few years to build up a following and eventually in 2011, they signed a deal with I Hate Punk Rock Records. The band's first release was an EP called "Without Fear". 2011 also saw the band release their debut full length album entitled "Sine Metu". The band remained very much an underground band and have been touring relentlessly, spreading their brand of melodic punk rock music. In 2013, the band performed an acoustic song called "Decades", no word yet if that will see an official release or not. In 2014, the band did state that they were working on new songs and for their fans to get ready for some new release information. There's not a whole lot of info out there about Sink The Bismark, but if you've heard their debut album "Sine Metu", it's a really solid effort. If you are a fan of bands such as The Gaslight Anthem, The Loved ones, Against Me!, The Menzingers, The Flatliners and Red City Radio then Sink The Bismark should be a band you should check out. Real solid melodic punk rock band.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Song: "Sick Boys"
Album: "Don't Forget Your Roots"
"Sick Boys" is a song that appears to be an ode to the rebel, the punk or the outsider. It glorifies being the bad boy, the guy you don't want to fuck with but the girls all want to get with. The song was originally performed by Orange County, California punk legends Social Distortion and released on their 1990 self-titled album. The version I chose is a cover of the song by hardcore punk stalwarts H2O. H2O formed as a band back in 1995, hailing from New York City. Lead vocalist Toby Morse was actually a roadie for Sick Of It All when he decided to form his own band. In 1996, the band released "H2O" and filmed a video for the song "Family Tree". 1997 saw the band release "Thicker Than Water". This album featured the song "Everready". H2O earned opening slots for bands like The Misfits, Pennywise, Sick Of It All and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. They also toured Japan for the very first time. In 1998, H2O played their first Warped Tour and in 1999, the band released "F.T.T.W.". This album featured the song "One Life One Chance" and the band played with the likes of NOFX, The Bouncing Souls and 7 Seconds. In 2000, the band recorded a punk version of Ice Cube's song "It Was A Good Day". 2001 saw H2O sign with major label MCA Records and release "Go". This album featured tracks like "Memory Lane" and "Role Model", perhaps the bands most popular song. In 2002, H2O released the "All We Want" EP which features three new tracks as well as two live songs. From 2004 to 2007, H2O mostly toured, playing in the U.S., Japan and performing for the first time in South America. In 2008, H2O signed with Bridge 9 Records and released "Nothing To Prove". This was their first album of original material in seven years! The album spawned two singles, "What Happened" and "Nothing To Prove". 2008 also saw the band release their very first DVD called "One Life One Chance". In 2011, H2O released an all covers album called "Don't Forget Your Roots". The band payed tribute to many of the bands that influenced them including Social Distortion, Sick Of It All, Rancid, The Clash, 7 Seconds, The Descendents and more. In 2013, it was announced that H2O expected to have a new album out but that year ended without a new release. Currently, the latest news on H2O was that they did in fact enter the recording studio in February of 2014 but as of now, there has been no news about when or if a new album will be released any time soon. The band tours relentlessly, sometimes it seems at the expense of getting in the studio and putting out new music. Unfortunately for underground bands like H2O, the money is on the road, not in the studio so that is perhaps why releases have been spread out over years. Whatever the deal, H2O is a staple in the New York City melodic hardcore punk scene.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Song: "Across The Universe"
Album: "Itunes Originals"
"Across The Universe" is, of course, a song that was made famous by legendary band The Beatles. It originally appeared on The Beatles classic 1970 album "Let It Be". For my song of the week, I chose Seether's cover version of the song which appeared on the 2008 "Itunes Originals" recording. This recording was exclusive to Itunes and featured interviews with the band, six tracks from their albums, as well as 7 newly recorded songs, one of them being "Across The Universe". The song itself, written by John Lennon, appears to be about the beauty of life, the realness of sorrow, the happiness in joy, the comfort of love and the impact of thought. Basically, it celebrates humanity and the vocalist is at a certain peace with himself, his feelings and his spirituality. Seether formed as a band back in 1999, hailing from South Africa. Originally they were called Saron Gas and they released one album, "Fragile", under that name in 2000. By 2002, the group officially became Seether and they released "Disclaimer". This album featured the singles "Fine Again", "Driven Under" and "Gasoline". In 2004, the band remixed and re-recorded some of the tracks on "Disclaimer" as well as adding eight new tracks and packaged it as "Disclaimer II". One of the newly recorded tracks was "Broken" which featured Amy Lee of Evanescence on vocals. That track would go on to be one of Seether's biggest hit songs. 2005 saw the band release "Karma And Effect". This album would peak at #8 on the Billboard 200 charts and be certified gold in the United States and Canada. The album featured the singles "The Gift", "Truth" and "Remedy", the latter being the band's very first #1 hit. In 2006 Seether recorded an acoustic performance at Grape Street in Philadelphia and packaged it as a cd/dvd called "One Cold Night". During that performance the band covered "Immortality" by Pearl Jam. 2007 saw the band release "Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces". This album sold 57,000 copies in it's first week of sales, reaching #9 on the Billboard 200 charts. Singles from the album included "Fake It" and "Rise Above This", a song that was written by guitarist/vocalist Shaun Morgan as a tribute to his brother who had recently committed suicide. In 2009, Seether released a cover version of cheesy 80's band Wham's "Careless Whisper". In 2011, the band released "Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray". This album was produced by legendary and long time Pearl Jam producer, Brendan O'Brien. Thanks in part to the lead single "Country Song", this album peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 charts, making it the highest charting album of Seether's career. In 2013, Seether released the compilation "Seether: 2002-2013". This album featured the band's greatest hits along with some demos and three new songs, one of which was a cover of Veruca Salt's "Seether", the song which the band is named for. 2014 saw the band release "Isolate And Medicate". The first single of their new album is "Words As Weapons". Currently, Seether is touring in support of "Isolate And Medicate". The band has been one of the more successful rock bands to come out. Their style is post-grunge, melodic, radio friendly rock much like many of the band's they've shared a stage with including Finger Eleven, Staind, Three Days Grace and 3 Doors Down. You can hear direct influences in their music to 90's grunge bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains but they have said that along with those bands, they are also inspired by bands like Nine Inch Nails and the Deftones. If you're a fan of straightforward, mainstream rock, then Seether should be a band that is at the top of your list.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Song: "E For Extinction"
Artist: Thousand Foot Krutch
Album: "Live At The Masquerade"
"E For Extinction" appears to be a song about possibly facing an "end of world" scenario. It's the vocalist's faith that makes him feel like he is ready for anything that comes his way. He will continue to fight to hold on to life, but if it is his time, he believes in his faith so much that he is not afraid to die. He knows that after life, there are greater things lying ahead of him under the guise of God. Originally, "E For Extinction" appeared on Thousand Foot Krutch's 2009 album "Welcome To The Masquerade". For my song of the week, I chose the live version taken from the band's 2011 album "Live At The Masquerade". Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Thousand Foot Krutch stepped on the scene in 1995. Originally called Oddball, a project by vocalist Trevor McNevan, an album called "Shutterbug" was self-released and would feature one side of rock tracks and one side of hip hop tracks. By 1997, McNevan decided to call his band Thousand Foot Krutch and in 1998, the band released "That's What People Do". This album featured the single "Rhyme Animal". At this point in TFK's career, they were very much a rap/metal influenced band much along the lines of P.O.D. or Rage Against The Machine, but far less aggressive as the latter band. In 2000, TFK released "Set It Off". Featuring the songs "Puppet", "Supafly" and "Set It Off", the band continued on with it's hip hop/metal style of music. In 2003, the band hooked up with Christian punk label Tooth & Nail and released "Phenomenon". This album marked the first departure in style for Thousand Foot Krutch as most of the music would be considered more nu metal, as shown on the first single "Rawkfist". The album sold over 200,000 units making it one of Tooth & Nail's best selling albums to date. In 2005, the band released "The Art Of Breaking". This album featured the singles "Absolute", "Breathe You In" and "Move", a song that reached #16 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart. 2007 saw the band release "The Flame In All Of Us". Featuring songs like "Falls Apart", "What Do We Know", "Favorite Disease" and "The Flame In All Of Us", TFK was definitely showing signs of becoming a more mainstream, modern rock band in the same vein of contemporaries Three Days Grace, Chevelle, 3 Doors Down or Breaking Benjamin. In 2009, the band released "Welcome To The Masquerade" which reached #35 on the Billboard 200 charts, thanks in part to the hit single "Fire It Up". 2011 saw the release of the band's very first live album, "Live At The Masquerade". This was a cd/dvd package of a show the band played at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Canada. In 2012, TFK released "The End Is Where We Begin". This album was released independently by the band as they had ended their longterm partnership with Tooth & Nail Records. The album would peak at number five on Itunes in the United States while reaching #1 in Canada. 2013 saw the band release a "best of" compilation called "Made In Canada: The 1998-2010 Collection". The package featured many of the band's previous hits along with two brand new tracks, "Searchlight" and "Complicate You". Currently, Thousand Foot Krutch is set to release their seventh full length studio album, "Oxygen:Inhale". The album has already spawned two singles, "Born This Way" and "Untraveled Road". Though Thousand Foot Krutch has gone through several line-up changes, as well as style changes, they remain a solid rock band. They're much bigger in their native Canada than they are here in the States, but if you like bands like Finger Eleven, Staind or even Our Lady Peace, one of TFK's bigger influences, then Thousand Foot Krutch could be a band you could be interested in, but, go in knowing that TFK is a band that is a Christian band and they are not shy about their beliefs or using Christianity as the basis of some of their songs.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
"Findaway" is a song that appears to be about someone who was imprisoned on drug charges and he's chomping at the bit to escape. Both his addictions and his negativity are just bringing him down and he wants out. The vocalist is just offering words of encouragement to the man. You'll find a way to get out of this situation just don't give in! Silverchair formed as a band back in 1992, hailing from Australia. The band members started when they were in school under the moniker Innocent Criminals and basically covered songs by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. In 1994 the band changed their name to Silverchair and won a national competition in Australia with their song "Tomorrow". Eventually the band signed with Murmur Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music, and in 1995, they released their debut album "Frogstomp". This album featured the singles "Israel's Son", "Pure Massacre" and "Tomorrow", a song which stayed at #1 on the Australian music charts for six weeks. The band members were just 15 years old at the time of the release of "Frogstomp", an album which went double platinum in the U.S. In 1997, the band released their sophmore effort, "Freak Show". featuring the singles "Freak", "Abuse Me", "Cemetery" and "The Door", "Freak Show" wound up selling over 1.5 million copies globally. In 1999, Silverchair's sound started to evolve. While their first two album were mainly grunge efforts, "Neon Ballroom" saw the band expand their sound, offering some softer ballads like "Ana's Song" and "Miss You Love" and the epic, heavily orchestrated "Emotion Sickness". There were still some heavier tracks on the album, like the lead single "Anthem For The Year 2000". Yet another album that hit #1 in Australia, it also charted well internationally, reaching as high as #2 in Canada. The band achieved a career highlight on January 21, 2000 by playing to over 250,000 people at the Rock In Rio festival. After their contract with Sony Music expired, the band hooked up with Atlantic Records and in 2002, they released "Diorama". With singles like "The Greatest View", "Without You" and "After All These Years", the sound and production took another turn for the band. This album was heavy on keyboards, piano, synthesizers and orchestration. At this point, the band's grunge roots were basically non-existent in their music. 2003 saw the band release "Live From Faraway Stables", a two cd/two dvd package that documented the band's "Across The Night" tour. After that tour was completed, the band took a two year hiatus, where the members focused on various side projects. 2007 saw the return of Silverchair with the release of "Young Modern". Songs like "Straight Lines", "Reflections Of A Sound" and "If You Keep Losing Sleep" showed the band further experimenting with their sound. This was not a "guitar heavy" album by any stretch. The songs were very "pop-y". Silverchair became the first artists in Australia to have five #1 albums and they set out on a tour with Powderfinger to promote their new album. This tour would be documented on the DVD, "Across The Great Divide". In 2009, the band began working on what would be their sixth album. Lead singer and guitarist, Daniel Johns, said that this album would only feature guitars on maybe four or five songs, even further experimenting with their sound. The band performed two new songs, "16" and "Machina Collecta", at May's Groovin The Moo Festival. In 2010, the band abruptly halted production on their new album for some reason. 2011 saw the band release a statement that they were in "indefinite hibernation". While the statement didn't say their was tensions within the band, it did offer that when it stopped being fun, that they would no longer continue to do it. In 2012, the band did say they planned to finish up the album that they had been working on and release it. Currently, there has been no news some two years later that this untitled album is going to be released anytime soon. While the band has broken up, there have been rumors that they may reunite for certain benefit shows and stuff like that but as for being a full time band again, that seems unlikely. Silverchair is a band that's hard to peg in a genre. Their first two albums were clearly of a band riding the coattails of the grunge movement, but beginning with their third album, their music became more and more sophisticated with each subsequent release. Perhaps their shifts in sound alienated some fans. I personally prefered their sound somewhere in the middle. "Neon Ballroom" was that perfect mesh of keeping some of their heavy side while showing some softer textures.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Song: "The New Thing"
Artist: Bouncing Souls
Album: "The Gold Record"
"The New Thing" appears to be a song where the vocalist is reflecting back to when his band was young and hungry. When everything was huge, their first show, their first recording, their first time being away from their home town. As he looks back at his career, he realizes that he and his band don't have to continually search for the "new thing". Their sound is their creation and it's something he is proud of and wants to keep creating. While they still dream and they still believe, they are totally content with what they have created and will continue to create. Staying true!! The Bouncing Souls formed as a band back in 1988, hailing from New Jersey. In their early years, they were very much a part of the underground scene, gaining a following in the college town communities. In 1994, the band released their debut album, "The Good, The Bad & The Argyle" on their very own label, Chunksaah Records. This album featured an ode to 80's new wave with covers of the songs "Candy" and "What Boys Like". In 1996, the band released "Maniacal Laughter". This album caught the attention of famous punk label Epitaph Records who promptly signed the Bouncing Souls and released their self-titled album in 1997. This album featured some classic Souls tracks such as "Cracked", "Kate Is Great" and "East Coast Fuck You". 1998 saw the band release "Hopeless Romantic". With songs such as "Ole" and "Hopeless Romantic", some say that this was the album where the Souls truly started to identify their sound. In 2001, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" was released, featuring the tracks "True Believers" and "Manthem". 2001 saw the band release the b-sides compilation "The Bad, The Worse And The Out Of Print" as well as a split with Anti-Flag. In 2003, the Bouncing Souls released their sixth album "Anchors Aweigh", featuring punk anthems like "Sing Along Forever" and "Kids And Heroes". The band also released their first DVD that year as well, titled "Do You Remember? 15 Years Of The Bouncing Souls". 2005 saw the band release their very first live album, the double disc "Live". "The Gold Record" was released in 2006 and featured the single "The Pizza Song" as well as a great cover of "Lean On Sheena", originally performed by the band Avoid One Thing. To celebrate the band's 20th anniversary, they began to release a series of four song EP's, sixteen tracks in all. 12 of these songs would be packaged in a full length cd in 2010 called "Ghosts On The Boardwalk". 2010 saw the band release their latest album, Comet. This album was the band's first since "Maniacal Laughter" that was not released through Epitaph Records, instead the band signed with Rise Records. "Comet" features the songs "Coin Toss Girl" and Ship In A Bottle". Currently, though there is no news of the Souls working on new material or releasing anything in the near future, they are a band who is very active, releasing new material almost every other year, so I'm sure it won't be long for some new activity on the Bouncing Souls front. If you are a fan of pop punk or skate punk, then you should appreciate the Bouncing Souls. There are a plethora of bands who say they've been heavily influenced by the Souls and their music. To name a few, Alkaline Trio, Against Me!, The Gaslight Anthem, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, even a hardcore band like fellow New Jersey natives Thursday have said that the Bouncing Souls were extremely important to their young career. Even now, the Souls have one foot in the underground scene and in punk circles, their respect runs deep.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Song: "Morning Sickness" (demo)
Artist: Taking Back Sunday
Album: "Taking Back Sunday" (Limited Edition)
"Morning Sickness" is a song that appears to be about a young couple who are trying to decide whether to have a baby or not. In fact, she is already pregnant for two months. They have concerns about their age and about their future plans and it is definitely weighing on them heavily whether or not abortion is a choice. You kinda get the sense that she is going in the direction of abortion and he is going in the direction of wanting to keep the baby. "Morning Sickness" is a demo that is featured on the Limited Edition version of Taking Back Sunday's 2011 self-titled album. Taking Back Sunday, from Long Island, New York, formed as a band back in 1999. The band was formed by Eddie Reyes, who was in such bands as Mind Over Matter and The Movielife. Reyes first asked Jesse Lacey to join the band as a vocalist/guitarist but Lacey soon departed to form the band Brand New. Adam Lazzara, who was initially brought in the band to be the bassist would shift over to vocal duties. The band's first recording with Lazzara on vocals was the song "Great Romances Of The 20th Century". In 2002, the band signed with Victory Records and released their debut album, "Tell All Your Friends". This album featured two of the band's biggest songs, "Cute Without The 'E' (Cut From The Team)" and "You're So Last Summer". In 2003, guitarist/vocalist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper left the band to form Straylight Run. Fred Mascherino (guitar/vocals) and Matt Rubano (bass) were brought in as replacements. 2004 saw the band release "Where You Want To Be". This album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 charts thanks in part to the singles "A Decade Under The Influence" and "This Photograph Is Proof (I Know You Know)". In 2006, Taking Back Sunday signed with major label, Warner Bros. Records, and released "Louder Now". Debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200 charts, "Louder Now" was the band's most successful album including the singles "Liar (It Takes One To Know One)", "Twenty-Twenty Surgery" and "Makedamnsure", perhaps the band's most popular song. The band also released "Louder Now: Part One" that year. This was a DVD documentary about the band. In 2007, to finish off the package, "Louder Now: Part Two" was released, a DVD featuring rare live footage, music videos as well as a bonus cd featuring some b-sides. Fred Mascherino left the band at this time. In 2009, the band released "New Again", featuring the songs "Sink Into Me" and "New Again". The band also released their very first live album, "Live From Bamboozle '09". 2010 saw original band members John Nolan (guitar/vocals) and Shaun Cooper (bass) rejoin the band replacing Matt Rubano and Matthew Fazzi. Taking Back Sunday then released the live acoustic album, "Live From Orensanz", the first album to feature the original "Tell All Your Friends" line-up. In 2011, "Taking Back Sunday" was released. This album reached #17 on the Billboard 200 charts and featured the singles "Faith (When I Let You Down)" and "This Is All Now". 2012 saw the band embark on the "TAYF10 Anniversary Tour". Finally, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the release of "Tell All Your Friends", the band released "TAYF10 (Acoustic)", a live acoustic performance of their debut album. Currently, the band released their sixth studio album, "Happiness Is", in 2014. This record was released through Hopeless Records and features the singles "Flicker, Fade" and "Stood A Chance". Proving that Taking Back Sunday is still a very relavent band, their new album debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200 charts. For some 15 years, Taking Back Sunday has been at the forefront of the pop/punk, melodic rock landscape. You could say that they have some emo in them as well but, whatever you want to call their brand of music, there are a whole lot of imitators, but Taking Back Sunday is the real deal.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Song: "Search And Destroy"
Album: "Live On I-5"
"Search And Destroy" is a cover song that was originally written and performed by Iggy Pop And The Stooges on their epic 1973 album "Raw Power". The song itself came to Iggy Pop from a Time Magazine cover which had the words "Search And Destroy" over a photo of military action in the Vietnam War. You get a sense the song is about the young American soldier who is a killing machine, a ticking timebomb, a walking path of destruction. But you also feel he is a tortured soul who is seeking help from someone, anyone. Though punk rock didn't come to life until 1977, you can hear it's direct influence in this Stooges classic. The version I chose here is from the band Soundgarden. It's a live version that was recorded back in 1996 but not released until 2011. Soundgarden formed as a band back in 1984, hailing from Seattle, Washington. The band featured Chris Cornell on drums and vocals, Hiro Yamamoto on bass and Kim Thayil on guitar. In 1985, Scott Sundquist joined the band on drums so that Cornell can focus on vocals, as well as rhythm guitar. 1986 saw the band appear on the "Deep Six" compilation which featured several underground Seattle bands. One of those bands was Skin Yard, whose drummer Matt Cameron would replace Sundquist on drums for Soundgarden. In 1987, Soundgarden joined legendary Seattle underground label Sub Pop and released the "Screaming Life" EP, which featured the songs "Hunted Down" and "Nothing To Say". In 1988, Sub Pop released the "Fopp" EP. That same year, Soundgarden signed on with SST Records and released their debut album "Ultramega OK". It's lead single, "Flower", helped Soundgarden get nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. The band also toured Europe for the very first time in support of their new album. In 1989, Soundgarden signed on with major label A&M Records and released "Louder Than Love". Thanks in part to the singles "Hunted Down" and "Loud Love", this album became the band's first to chart on the Billboard 200, peaking at #108. Hiro Yamamoto, unhappy with his role in the band, decided to leave Soundgarden at this time. Former Nirvana member Jason Everman filled in on bass for the rest of their tour but was let go from the band right after the tour was completed. Enter Ben Shepherd on bass. Shepherd ignited a new spark in the band, both with his playing and songwriting abilities. In 1991, the band released "Badmotorfinger". With singles like "Jesus Christ Pose", "Outshined" and "Rusty Cage" plus a spot on the 1992 Lollapalooza tour along with Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ministry, you could feel the music world begin to shift to this sound that was coming from Seattle. "Badmotorfinger", Pearl Jam's "Ten", Nirvana's "Nevermind" and Alice In Chains' "Dirt" would forever change the musical landscape. In 1994, Soundgarden reached their peak with the release of "Superunknown". This album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts and featured the singles "The Day I Tried To Live", "Spoonman", "My Wave", "Fell On Black Days" and probably their most popular song, "Black Hole Sun". This album won two Grammy Awards and has been certified five times platinum in the U.S. alone. In 1996, Soundgarden released "Down On The Upside". This album was really the band's first to feature the use of some acoustic guitars. While it had it's heavy moments, it was a little softer than the band's earlier material. This album featured the singles "Pretty Noose", "Burden In My Hand" and "Blow Up The Outside World". By 1997, internal tensions within the band caused Soundgarden to break up. They released a compilation called "A-Sides" to celebrate the band's history. The compilation featured the unreleased track "Bleed Together". From 1998 to 2009, all the members focused on their own musical efforts. Cornell released some solo albums and fronted the band Audioslave with members of Rage Against The Machine. Thayil worked with the likes of Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana). Shepherd was in Wellwater Conspiracy and he worked with Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) as well. Matt Cameron worked with Wellwater Conspiracy and became the new drummer of Pearl Jam also. In 2010, it was announced through their website that Soundgarden was getting back together after 13 years apart. On April 16, 2010, the band played their first live show since 1997 at the Showbox At The Market in Seattle, Washington. They also headlined Lollapalooza once again. The band would release the greatest hits compilation "Telephantasm: A Retrospective" which featured the unreleased track "Black Rain". In 2011, Soundgarden released their very first live album, "Live On I-5". In 2012, the band offered their song "Live To Rise" to the soundtrack of the movie "The Avengers". This would be the first newly recorded song by the band since their reformation in 2010. 2012 also saw the band release a brand new album, "King Animal". This album features the singles "Been Away Too Long", "By Crooked Steps", "Taree" and "Halfway There". In 2014, Matt Cameron announced he would not be touring with Soundgarden that year due to his prior commitments to Pearl Jam. Ironically, Matt Chamberlain, who briefly played with Pearl Jam in the early 90's, would fill in for Cameron on Soundgarden's South American tour. Currently, the news is all good on the Soundgarden front. Their new album "King Animal" shows that they are still very relevant in the music world and that their sound is one that has been missing from the music world for too long. While bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were obvious influences on Soundgarden's music, Soundgarden, in turn, has been a huge influence on any heavy band that came out after the 90's grunge explosion. This band, in deed, is legendary!
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Song: "Version 2.0"
Artist: Staring Back
"Version 2.0" is a song that appears to be about the vocalist wanting to make a better version of himself. He wants to be motivated by creativity, not fearful that what he creates won't live up to expectations. He wants to stand up for himself and man up to confrontation, not shy away from it and be content to be in the same place all the time, the safe place. He basically doesn't want to be afraid to grow, to evolve. Staring Back formed as a band back in 1997, hailing from Goleta, California. There's not a whole lot of information out there about this underground pop/punk band but here's what I do know. In 1999, Staring Back self-produced their first EP, "The Mean Streets Of Goleta". This EP caught the ears of Lobster Records who worked out a deal with the band to distribute the album. In 2000, Lobster Records would release Staring Back's debut full length album, "Many Will Play". After a few line-up changes, mostly due to guys going back to school (the guys formed the band in high school, at this point some guys decided to go to college as the band was really making hardly any money), Staring Back released "On" in 2002. It was at this point that the band secured a spot on one of the small stages on the Warped Tour that year. The band filmed a video for the song "Version 2.0" off of "On", my song of the week! Currently, Staring Back doesn't appear to be making a comeback anytime soon. Since 2004, the band has been inactive and they did announce their break up on their PureVolume page. Their style was that of a pop/punk band, mainly in the same vein as bands such as Yellowcard, Riddlin' Kids and No Motiv. The band never quite crossed over as a band like Yellowcard did, nor did they have at least one credible hit as the Riddlin' Kids did. They just were another band in the pack that kind of got swallowed up. Some band members have found homes in other bands, most notably Yellowcard and Bayside. Other than that, the book is closed on Staring Back.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Song: "Seems We're OK"
Artist: Chuck Ragan
Album: "Covering Ground"
"Seems We're OK" is a song that appears to be about reflecting back on a life with someone that has been filled with pain, heartaches and regrets. I get a sense, however, that it is not a negative song, more like it is telling how no matter how bad those times were and the pain that they have been through, they are still here today, in the present. Now they can reflect on what they've been through and perhaps appreciate more where they are today. Chuck Ragan has been active in the music industry since 1993. Hailing from Gainesville, Florida, Ragan is probably best known as the frontman and guitarist for the band Hot Water Music. Hot Water Music has been active since 1993 and to date have released seven full length albums, three compilations, two live albums and more than twenty EP's and splits. Their most recent release was 2012's "Exister". Ragan got his first taste of the acoustic/folk buzz back in 1998 when he, Chris Wollard (also of Hot Water Music) and Samantha Jones released a series of EP's under the moniker Rumbleseat. All of these EP's and 7" recordings would be compiled into a cd called "Rumbleseat Is Dead" which was released in 2005. 2005 also proved to be a year of change for Ragan as Hot Water Music decided to go on a little hiatus from recording or touring. It was during this hiatus that Ragan really buckled down and focused on his solo career. In 2006, Ragan began releasing a series of singles, one per month which became known as "the 7-inch club". No Idea Records would eventually release all these singles in a compilation entitled "The Blueprint Sessions". Ragan also self-released a live album called "Live At The Troubadour that year as well. 2007 saw Ragan strike a deal with Side One Dummy Records and release his debut full length album "Feast Or Famine". That year he also released yet another live album called "Los Feliz". In 2008, Ragan released an album with Austin Lucas called "Bristle Ridge". Ragan's second studio album, "Gold Country", was released in 2009. That very same year saw Ragan appear on a split EP with Anderson Family Bluegrass as well as another live album called "Live From Rock Island: The Daytrotter Sessions". In 2010, Ragan appeared on yet another split release with Darren Gibson. 2011 saw Ragan release "Covering Ground". This album featured the single "Meet You In The Middle" which is a duet with The Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon. Ragan would appear on a four way split that year as well featuring himself, Sam Russo, Jimmy Islip and Helen Chambers. 2012 was a year that the focus and dedication was put back on Hot Water Music as the band released "Exister" and toured in support of that album. Ragan would get back to his solo thing by 2014, however, with the release of "Till Midnight". His fourth studio album would feature the singles "Something May Catch Fire", "Non Typical" and "You And I Alone". Currently, Ragan is doing several shows supporting "Till Midnight". Though I'm not sure if Chuck Ragan is the first punk rock vocalist to trade in his electric guitar for an acoustic and begin writing folksy, roots type songs, I'd argue he just does it the best. His raspy, powerful voice just lends itself to this new folk/punk genre that has seemingly been the new thing to do for punk vocalists lately. He is also the brain behind "The Revival Tours" which have been going on since 2008. Along with Ragan, some other notable artists that have appeared on these tours over the years have been Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!), Dave Hause (The Loved Ones), Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem), Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio), Kevin Seconds (7 Seconds) and Tim Barry (Avail) to name a few. The shows are like being at a campfire as several of the artists get on stage together during each other's sets making it a cool, sing-a-long type atmosphere. Whether with Hot Water Music or as a solo artist, Chuck Ragan is well respected in the punk rock world.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Song: "3/4 Tango"
Artist: Polar Bear Club
Album: "Clash Battle Guilt Pride"
"3/4 Tango" is a song that appears to be about wondering whether you made the right decisions in your life. Are you looking back on life and finding more and more that it's not what you thought it would be, or wanted it to be? The vocalist definitely harbors some regrets while reflecting on these things. At the same time, however, he or she does not appreciate others who try to tell them how to live their life or those who make comments on their situation. Those people that do that, to take advantage of someone else's problems, are the one's who need to look at themselves in the mirror instead of criticizing someone else's actions or inactions. Polar Bear Club formed as a band back in 2005, hailing from upstate New York. After recording a five song demo, the band caught the attention of Triple Attack Records who signed the band in 2006 and released the EP "The Redder, The Better". A buzz was being created by this demo and EP and in 2007, Polar Bear Club signed with Red Leader Records and released their debut full length album, "Sometimes Things Just Disappear". This album earned the band supporting slots on tours with The Gaslight Anthem, American Steel and A Wilhelm Scream to name a few. In 2009, Bridge Nine Records signed Polar Bear Club and released their second album, "Chasing Hamburg". This album featured the single "Living Saints". In 2010, Polar Bear Club earned a slot on the Hevy Music Festival in the United Kingdom. 2011 saw the band perform for the first time in Australia where they earned a slot on the famous Soundwave Festival. In 2011, the band also released their third full length album, "Clash Battle Guilt Pride". This album featured songs such as "My Best Days", "Killin' It" and "Screams In Caves". 2012 saw the band play both the Leeds and Reading Festivals in England. The band also released their very first live album, "Live At The Montage". This album was a live acoustic performance that was recorded for release. In 2013, the band released their latest album, "Death Chorus". This album featured the songs "WLWYCD", "Blood Balloon" and "Upstate Mosquito". Fans of the band may notice that on this album vocalist Jimmy Stadt's vocals are less raspy and more clear. Due to straining his voice on the road over the years, Stadt was forced to sing cleaner in order to hit certain notes and more importantly, to save his vocal chords. Currently, Polar Bear Club finished up 2013 on tour supporting "Death Chorus". There has been no talk as of the past couple of months that the band is working on new material or not. The band is pretty active though, so I suspect it won't be long to hear some new Polar Bear Club music in the near future. For fans of bands like The Gaslight Anthem, Lifetime, Hot Water Music, The Flatliners and The Menzingers, Polar Bear Club is a punk band with lots of similarties to those bands I've mentioned. Really solid band. I do wish Stadt's voice can get back to what it was before "Death Chorus" though. Only time will tell.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Song: "I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together"
Artist: The Horrible Crowes
"I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together" is a song that appears to be about two people who's past relationships were nothing but failures, but it's those failures that became their common connection with each other. The scars that they both had from the past prove to be their common ground. It is what makes them perfect for each other. The Horrible Crowes formed as a band in 2011, hailing from New Jersey. The band was formed by Brian Fallon and his guitar tech Ian Perkins. Fallon, of course, is better known as the singer, songwriter and rhythm guitar player for the New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem, for which he has been playing and releasing music since 2005. But, where The Gaslight Anthem is kind of like Bruce Springsteen with a punk edge to it, The Horrible Crowes is more like Tom Waits. The band itself got it's name from the poem "Twa Corbies" or "two crows". The poem is a reflection of the darker side of life and that is what Fallon was trying to touch upon when forming The Horrible Crowes. He in fact called the songs on the album "hymns for lonely people". On June 21, 2001, the band previewed their first song, "Black Betty And The Moon" on their YouTube channel. About a month later on July 13, 2001, The Horrible Crowes released "Behold The Hurricane" as their very first single. On September 6, 2001, the band released their debut album "Elsie". Along with "Behold The Hurricane", the album also featured the single "Ladykiller". After doing some small scale touring, the band released the live CD/DVD, "Live At The Troubadour" in 2013. This live album featured a stripped down, soulful version of pop star Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream". Currently, The Horrible Crowes have been put on the backburner somewhat. Brian Fallon's baby was and will always be The Gaslight Anthem and that's where his main focus will always lie. They are due for a new album to be released by the end of summer/early fall of 2014 and i'm sure there will be a major tour to support that new album. Fallon also formed a folk band called Molly And The Zombies. Fallon did say that their is definitely a future for The Horrible Crowes however, and that band will definitely see the light of day at some point in the future. If you're a fan of The Gaslight Anthem and Tom Waits then The Horrible Crowes is the band for you. Their music and lyrics can be very dark, but all in all, a great side project from Mr. Fallon.