Sunday, February 23, 2014

Song Of The Week: 2/23/14

Song: "Joan"

Artist: Carpenter

Album: "Sea To Sky"

Year: 2010

"Joan" is a song that appears to be about watching someone you love fading away. I get the sense that the vocalist is watching this loved one in her final days. Whatever illness she has has completely taken over her so much so that she doesn't even recognize him anymore nor her surroundings. Anyone who has ever watched a family member, friend or significant other succumb to a disease and literally die right in front of you can appreciate the lyrics to this song. Carpenter formed as a band back in 2005, hailing from Vancouver, Canada. Carpenter formed out of the ashes of post-punk bands All State Champion, By A Thread and Daggermouth. Daniel Sioui, the vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Carpenter was actually inspired to create his new band after listening to John Cougar Mellancamp of all people! Carpenter tries to incorporate that rootsy feel to their brand of progressive/indie punk rock. In fact, some people label their music "farmcore". Their support of agriculture and farmers is something the band takes very seriously. So much so that even famed country artist Willie Nelson has contacted the band about being involved in his Farm Aid benefit concerts. Carpenter released their debut album "Law Of The Land" in 2008. The band steadily built their reputation across Canada as a solid live band. In 2010, Carpenter signed to Paper + Plastick Records and released their follow up album "Sea To Sky". This album featured the single "Mean Things". The partnership with Paper + Plastick allowed the band to generate some buzz not only in their native Canada, but in the United States and Europe. The band also began touring more frequently in those places as well. Currently, since 2012, the band has been working on new material. Band members have confirmed that they will likely have a new album out sometime in 2014. Carpenter is a really solid band with a ton of potential. They are still quite an underground band, but if you meshed bands like The Flatliners and The Gaslight Anthem and maybe sprinkled in a little folk punk as well, you'd get something that resembles Carpenter. "Sea To Sky" is a great listen from the first song to the last. I'd recommend this album to anyone.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Song Of The Week: 2/16/14

Song: "Living Saints"

Artist: Polar Bear Club

Album: "Chasing Hamburg"

Year: 2009

"Living Saints" is a song that appears to be about a relationship that is basically over. In her eyes, at least, he is nothing more than a mere acquaintence. For the vocalist, however, he is not quite ready to move on from this relationship. He is not ready to break the ties, however it appears the ties have been permanently severed. Polar Bear Club formed as a band back in 2005, hailing from upstate New York. The band's very first release was in that same year in the form of a five song demo. The songs on that demo caught the ears of Triple Attack Records who signed the band and distributed their 2006 EP, "The Redder, The Better". This EP stated generating some buzz for the band, especially, oddly enough, in Australia. In 2007, the band signed to Red Letter Records. 2008 saw the band release their debut full length album, "Sometimes Things Just Disappear". Polar Bear Club supported this album by touring with such acts as The Gaslight Anthem, A Wilhelm Scream and American Steel, gaining more and more of a following along the way. In 2009, the band signed with Bridge Nine Records. The Gaslight Anthem took Polar Bear Club along with them to tour Europe, which would mark the first time the band had played overseas. After that tour, the band released their second album, "Chasing Hamburg". "Living Saints" was the first single and video for that album. 2010 saw the band play the Hevy Music Festival in the U.K. and the band also performed at the 2011 Soundwave Festival in Australia. 2011 also saw the band release another album, "Clash Battle Guilt Pride". While supporting this latest album, the band played both the Leeds Festival and the Reading Festival in the U.K. in 2012. The band also released a live acoustic album in 2012 called "Live At The Montage". In 2013, Polar Bear Club once again performed at Australia's Soundwave Festival then came back to the States to record their next album. In November of 2013, the band released their fourth LP, "Death Chorus". Many fans of the band will notice that vocalist Jimmy Stadt sounds a bit different on this album. The vocals are very clean on "Death Chorus" whereas most of the band's previous albums featured raspy, not quite but almost "screamy" vocals. Stadt explained that over the course of making records and touring since 2005, he had lost some range in his vocal chords. He had them checked out medically, but couldn't find what the problem was. He insisted that this change was not a change in direction for the band or to go mainstream, but he declared that in order for the songs to sound their absolute best, he had to change his vocal style because he couldn't take the strain on his vocal chords anymore. Currently, Polar Bear Club is touring in support of "Death Chorus". The band members of this band came together under all kinds of influences ranging from Hot Water Music to Third Eye Blind and you can tell in their music. While considered a post-hardcore/punk band, they are not afraid to incorporate pop melodies in some of their songs. This is a band that I have just recently began getting into and the more I listen, the more I like! A very solid band that I can't wait to hear more from.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Song Of The Week: 2/9/14

Song: "The Torch"

Artist: Dropkick Murphys

Album: "Live On St. Patrick's Day From Boston, MA"

Year: 2002

"The Torch" is a song the appears to be about a bitter old man who has done hard labor his entire life and is now facing his last years on this Earth. He is broken down physically from all his years of hard work and he really hasn't shown his family much in the way of affection. In fact, the only thing he has handed down to his son is his bitterness and his occupation, yet, his loved ones still pray for him in his dying days even though all they receive back from him is scorn. The Dropkick Murphys formed as a band back in 1996, hailing from Quincy, Massachusetts, just south of Boston. The band received their first big break when fellow Bostonians, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones selected them as openers on their 1997 tour. After releasing several EP's, The Dropkick's were signed by Hellcat Records, a sub-label of Epitaph Records owned by Tim Armstrong of Rancid. In 1998, the band released their debut full length, "Do Or Die". Shortly after the release of this album, lead singer Mike McColgan left the band to become a Boston firefighter. In 1999, the band recruited Al Barr, formerly of The Bruisers, to share vocal duties with bassist Ken Casey. Barr's first vocal appearance with the Dropkick's was "The Gang's All Here", which featured the single "10 Years Of Service". This album is the beginnings of where the "Dropkick" sound started to really develop, hardcore/street punk meshed with Irish punk. In 2000, the band released the compilation, "The Singles Collection: Vol. 1". This comp featured b-sides, EP tracks and rarities that the band had put out up to that date. 2001 saw the band release their third album, "Sing Loud, Sing Proud!". By this time, the band was expanding, now featuring bagpipes, mandolins, keyboards, etc. This album is also where the original version of "The Torch", my song of the week, is found. 2002 saw the band release their very first live album, "Live On St. Patrick's Day From Boston, MA". This show was recorded at the now defunct Avalon Ballroom in Boston. In 2003, the Dropkick's released "Blackout". This album featured the singles "Walk Away", "Fields Of Athenry" and the crowd favorite "The Dirty Glass". In 2004, the Dropkick Murphys provided the rally cry for the would-be world champion Boston Red Sox with their single "Tessie". In 2005, the compilation "The Singles Collection: Vol. 2" was released, again this comp featured rarities, live songs and b-sides just like the first volume. 2005 saw the band drop "The Warrior's Code". This album reached #49 on the charts and featured the singles "Sunshine Highway" and "The Warrior's Code", a song dedicated to legendary Lowell, MA boxer Mickey Ward. This album also featured the anthem "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" whose lyrics are taken from a Woody Guthrie poem and was featured prominently in the Martin Scorcese movie "The Departed". The song is now a Boston anthem and is played heavily as a rallying cry at most Boston sporting events. In 2007, the band formed their own label, Born & Bred Records and released their next album on that label. "The Meanest Of Times" debuted at #20 on the charts and it's lead single, The State Of Massachusetts" was ranked 83rd in Rolling Stone's Top 100 songs of 2007. In 2010, the Dropkick's released their second live album, "Live On Landsdowne, Boston, MA". The show was recorded at the House Of Blues in Boston and the cd/dvd reached #25 on the charts. The success continued for the band in 2011 as their album, "Going Out In Style", debuted at #6, the highest charting album of the Dropkick Murphys career so far. This album featured the singles "Going Out In Style", "Memorial Day" and "Sunday Hardcore Matinee". A bonus edition cd/dvd was released shortly after featuring the band's live headlining set at historical Fenway Park. In 2013, the band released their 8th album, "Signed And Sealed In Blood". This album featured the singles "Rose Tattoo", "The Season's Upon Us" and "The Boys Are Back". The Dropkick's played their largest headlining show to date after this release at Boston's TD Garden. After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the Dropkick's released an EP through Itunes called "Rose Tattoo: For Boston Charity EP". This 3 song EP features acoustic renditions of their songs as well as guest vocals by Bruce Springsteen. All the proceeds of that EP go directly to the victims of that horrible attack. Currenty, the Dropkick's are preparing for their annual St. Patrick's Day shows in Boston. They are a very active band and when you think Celtic punk, the Dropkick's are very much at the forefront of that genre. They are not shy about representing the working class and the blue collar folks and they take major pride in their Irish roots and their Boston neighborhoods.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Song Of The Week: 2/2/14

Song: "Lost Along The Way"

Artist: Staind

Album: "The Illusion Of Progress"

Year: 2008

"Lost Along The Way" is a song that appears to be about pausing to appreciate the moment. Sometimes it seems that times goes by and you fail to appreciate the relationship you have and the love you both share for each other. Sometimes these feelings get lost with time and it's good to take a moment and relive the spark that made the relationship what it was at the beginning. It's a realization to not take your relationship with the person you love for granted. Staind formed as a band back in 1994, hailing from Massachusetts. After spending their early years as a cover band, they finally self-released their debut album, "Tormented", in 1996. After securing an opening slot on a tour with Limp Bizkit, Fred Durst agreed to co-produce their 2nd album, "Dysfunction", which was released through Flip Records in 1999. These two albums featured Staind at their darkest and heaviest. Singles such as "Just Go", "Mudshovel" and "Home" helped "Dysfunction" reach #74 on the Billboard 200 charts. The band landed a spot on the Family Values tour supporting acts such as Limp Bizkit and The Crystal Method. In 2001, Staind dropped "Break The Cycle". Spawning five hit singles, "It's Been Awhile", "Outside", "Fade", "For You" and "Epiphany", this album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and sold 716,000 copies in the first week of sales. "Break The Cycle" would ultimately become Staind's highest selling album, selling more the 7 million units world wide. 2003's "14 Shades Of Gray" would also debut at #1. With singles like "Price To Play", "So Far Away", "How About You" and "Zoe Jane", you could see Staind becoming a much more radio friendly band. The hard edges of "Tormented" and "Dysfunction" and even some of the dark material featured on "Break The Cycle" were beginning to fade away in favor of radio friendly power ballads. 2005's "Chapter V" would continue this trend as well. This album would be certified platinum eventually, thanks in part to singles such as "Right Here", "Falling" and "Everything Changes". The band would also embark on their first tour of Australia to support "Chapter V". In 2006, Staind released a greatest hit compilation called "The Singles: 1996-2006". The album featured three bonus live acoustic cover songs, Tool's "Sober", Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" and Alice In Chains' "Nutshell". 2008 saw the band release "The Illusion Of Progress". This album featured the singles "Believe" and "All I Want", the 13th top 20 hit on the rock charts for Staind. It would be three years until Staind released their next album, "Staind". "Staind" was released in 2011 and was really a throwback to the "Dysfunction"/"Tormented" era of the band. The band was intent on making a heavy record and they very much succeeded as you can tell by their lead single "Not Again". In 2012, the band members of Staind decided to go on a short hiatus from writing, recording and touring together. Vocalist Aaron Lewis used this time to re-focus on his emerging folk/country solo career. Currently, the band has confirmed it will get back together to co-headline the Welcome To Rockville Festival in April as well as the Rock On The Range Festival in May. No word yet on if the band has been working on new material and their has been no news of future release dates but the fact they are playing some shows indicates that new material will probably be on the way. Staind plays a form of rock that could be considered heavy, melodic arena rock, perhaps post-grunge. At their beginnings, they were very heavy and dark with hints of metal. By their 4th album, they were a radio friendly rock band along the lines of a Creed or a 3 Doors Down. It was good to see them get back to their roots with their last self-titled album. Hopefully, they continue with that trend in the future.