Thursday, September 22, 2016

Suggested Listening: Week of September 22nd

This week I'm gonna change it up a bit—I'm just gonna call out some albums instead of picking one for each genre. So here's some stuff I think you should check out this week.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Saves the Day: 1984 EP [2010] — EP Review

Chris Conley: Vocals, Guitar
Vocal Era: Daybreak
Arun Bali: Guitar
Rodrigo Palma: Bass
Spencer Peterson: Drums

1. 1984 – 3:08
2. Let it All Go [Acoustic] – 2:50
3. Driving in the Dark [Acoustic] – 3:09
4. Hold [Electric] – 2:38
5. Stay [Electric] – 3:37
Total Runtime: 15:22

1984 EP came out during a very strange time in Saves the Day's career. After the departure of longtime guitarist Dave Soloway after Under the Boards, as well as new drummer Durijah Lang and Glassjaw bandmate, bassist Manuel Carrero, Conley was left looking for a whole new band.

The Return of Tape Deck — New Rules

Hey everyone! I know I haven't done much in a while, and I'm going to start back up soon, but first I just wanted to lay down some new rules.
Album Reviews' Bonus Points section will now be called Modifiers, and some new modifiers will be added, such as Good/Bad Opener and Good/Bad Closer.
The body of the review will not always contain remarks on every song anymore, but each song will still be rated individually for the final tally like before.
Finally, until I get back on track, there won't be a set schedule. I'll just post a review when I finish it. I'll try not to do too many EPs or albums in a row, I'll try to mix it up a bit.
Well, that's all for now, see you in the next review!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Suggested Listening: Week of May 25th

This week I got back into some bands, ones I just happened to forget how awesome they were. Let's get into those.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Suggested Listening — Week of May 18th

So this is something new I'm gonna try, I hope I can make this work, 'cause I've been wanting to do something like this for a while.
So let me give you the general idea of Suggested Listening: like a suggested reading part of an article, every week I'm going to suggest a few albums or EPs (categorized by genres, which may get more specific, we'll see how it goes) that I've been listening to a lot lately, or (since I go through cycles of what I listen to) that I just really like. If I've already reviewed an album, I'll link it; if not, I may or may not get to it. Anyway, let's get to this week's picks.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Knuckle Puck: Copacetic [2015] — Album Review

Kevin Maida: Guitar
John Siorek: Drums
Joe Taylor: Lead Vocals
Nick Casasanto: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Ryan Rumchaks: Bass
Produced by Seth Henderson

1. Wall to Wall (Depreciation) – 2:18
2. Disdain – 2:44
3. Poison Pen Letter – 3:39
4. Swing – 3:43
5. Ponder – 2:10
6. Evergreen – 3:28
7. True Contrite – 4:55
8. Stationary – 2:05
9. In Your Crosshairs – 4:42
10. Pretense – 3:05
11. Untitled – 7:51
Total Runtime: 40:47

After a few EPs (that I'll get around to eventually), Knuckle Puck signed to Rise Records and released their début album, Copacetic in 2015. I'd definitely have to go ahead and say Copacetic is my favorite album released in 2015. Copacetic is an expertly crafted album, one of the new emo greats and one of the best débuts I've ever heard.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hit the Lights: Just to Get Through to You [2016] — EP Review

Nick Thompson: Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Omar Zehery: Lead Guitar
David Bermosk: Bass
Nate Van Damme: Drums
Kevin Mahoney: Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Produced by Hit the Lights

1. Blasphemy, Myself, & I – 2:56
2. Drop the Girl – 3:39
3. Fucked Up Kids – 2:57
4. Save Your Breath – 3:00
5. Summer Bones – 4:17
6. Lighthouse – 3:22
Total Runtime: 20:11

Last year, Hit the Lights released their fourth album, Summer Bones, and their third with Nick Thompson on vocal duties. While it wasn't bad, it left something to be desired. With ten songs and only lasting 26½ minutes, Summer Bones doesn't really feel finished. Not to mention the "feat. Colin Ross" on "Old Friend" is barely earned, but that's all a story for when I review Summer Bones.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Light Years: I'll See You When I See You [2015] — Album Review

Pat Kennedy: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Tommy Englert: Bass
Andrew Forest: Guitar
Kent Sliney: Drums
Produced by Will Yip

1. Are You Sure? – 3:26
2. Rearview – 2:48
3. Living in Hell – 3:07
4. Accidents – 3:52
5. The Summer She Broke My Heart – 3:18
6. Cracks on the Ceiling – 3:31
7. So Sorry – 3:47
8. Let You Down – 3:29
9. I Can't Relate – 3:04
10. Empty Rooms – 2:57
11. Lost Ground – 3:14
12. Funeral – 1:16
13. I Wish I Could – 4:23
Total Runtime: 42:12

Light Years aren't what first comes to mind when most people think of when they think of today's pop-punk scene. People would usually think of The Story So Far or State Champs or some other Pure Noise band (nothing against PN bands, they're great, just sayin') before they'd think of some other band, and then another... and then another... in an endless cycle, 'cause barely anyone knows about Light Years. Like another band I'll talk about very soon, Light Years are pretty much complete unknowns. But, that shouldn't be. Light Years are the perfect representation of the all-American third wave emo influenced pop-punk scene.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Thursday: No Devolución [2011] — Album Review

Geoff Rickly: Vocals
Steve Pedulla: Guitar
Tom Keeley: Guitar
Andrew Everding: Keyboards
Tim Payne: Bass
Tucker Rule: Drums
Produced by Dave Fridmann

1. Fast to the End – 3:21
2. No Answers – 4:53
3. A Darker Forest – 3:40
4. Sparks Against the Sun – 4:47
5. Open Quotes – 2:55
6. Past and Future Ruins – 4:15
7. Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart – 3:42
8. Empty Glass – 4:59
9. A Gun in the First Act – 5:02
10. Millimeter – 2:48
11. Turnpike Divides – 4:54
12. Stay True – 7:53
Total Runtime: 53:09

No Devolución is quite a departure from Thursday's previous two albums, 2009's Common Existence and 2006's A City by the Light Divided. In fact it's a different road then they normally drive on. No Devolución is a much more atmospheric experience than Thursday's pulled off before—most tracks find Rickly's voice drenched with reverb, and most of the other instruments have serious echo to them as well.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saves the Day: Under the Boards [2007] — Album Review

Chris Conley: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
    Vocal Era: Under the Boards
Dave Soloway: Lead Guitar
Manuel Carrero: Bass
Durijah Lang: Drums
Produced by Marc Hudson and Eric Stenman

1. Under the Boards – 3:16
2. Radio – 2:14
3. Can't Stay the Same – 2:49
4. Get Fucked Up – 3:04
5. When I'm Not There – 2:46
6. Lonely Nights – 3:06
7. Bye Bye Baby – 2:36
8. Stay – 3:25
9. Getaway – 2:46
10. Because You Are No Other – 1:59
11. Kaleidoscope – 3:18
12. Woe – 3:06
13. Turning Over in My Tomb – 3:27
Total Runtime: 37:50

If In Reverie alienated old fans and Sound the Alarm alienated the ones left after In Reverie, then Under the Boards probably alienated any new fans gained from In Reverie or Sound the Alarm. Under the Boards is a depressing record. It is a dark, melancholy look at life. As Conley says, StA was the anger and insanity, UtB is the loneliness and depression. Anyone who really liked where they were going with StA was sure to leave as soon as the three-album concept was announced 'cause it only got different from there.
Before the recording of UtB, new drummer Pete Parada left, after less than four years with the band; he was replaced by Carrero's Glassjaw bandmate Durijah Lang soon after. This is also Dave Soloway's final album with Saves the Day, but not his last with Conley (that being the Two Tongues supergroup's only record, Two Tongues, in 2009).
And isn't that just some badass artwork? I love extended shutter photography of night skies. It always comes out awesome.
On our opener, "Under the Boards", Soloway's guitar work is amazing as always. The lone guitar in the beginning with Conley's eerie vocals makes for a very aesthetic and tone-setting tune. Switching gears and reminiscent of earlier records such as Stay What You Are (man, I just keep losing points with old StD fans, don't I?), "Radio" showcases that Conley's still got the knack to write some killer choruses. Soloway's great guitar really helps carry the song.
I agree with Conley, "Can't Stay the Same" is probably the poppiest song Saves the Day has ever written (before 2013's Saves the Day, anyway). Not that that's a bad thing in any sense (take note Can't Slow Down-ers). This has the catchiest chorus on the entire record. The opening riff and everything are just perfect. Riding off "Can't Stay The Same", "Get Fucked Up" continues the poppy feel and the catchy choruses. The guitars sound great and Conley's voice doesn't sound like it's straining. "When I'm Not There" is alright. Nothing special.
"So many lonely nights I hoped you'd call/And that is all I can say in this song". I think that about sums up "Lonely Nights". And the piano is great. Saves the Day needs some more piano-based songs.
Next is "Bye Bye Baby"; lyrics are great, the guitars are great, and it's pretty poppy. Not bad; not bad at all. "Stay" is such an eerie tune. For the first time on an album, Soloway picks up the old acoustic and gives us another piece of art. Conley's lyrics are dark and grim, and this is where we officially switch to the second half of the album.
"Getaway" is exactly what it would sound like if Saves the Day wrote "Pain" instead of Jimmy Eat World. The "ka-chow"s are a little weird, but that's beside the point. And this is where I explain what I meant by the "second half" in the last paragraph. There are two sides to this album: the lighter side of the darkness (i.e. "Radio" and "Lonely Nights"), and being engulfed in darkness ("Kaleidoscope" through "Turning Over in My Tomb"). The lighter side includes the "I'm not alright, but I can deal with it" songs, but the second half is the "I can't deal with it anymore". Also, Lang's stellar drum prowess really shows itself on the second half, particularly in "Kaleidoscope".
"Because You Are No Other" is a short tune, though it's the poppiest tune on the second half. Also these lyrics are awesome: "I'm gonna tie you onto this post/You're gonna let go of all that you know/You'll never make it out alive and now you know".
"Kaleidoscope" was my favorite StD song for a while. The amazing sounding guitar, the masterful drumwork, the perfect lyrics; just awesome. Finally we get to this song. This was the first song Conley wrote after the In Reverie sessions and post-In Reverie depression writer's block. It's a really dark, melancholy song. It's the low point (emotionally) and the climax (again, emotionally) of the entire trilogy. The darkest hour before dawn (Daybreak). Finally, Under the Boards concludes with "Turning Over in My Tomb", which sounds like a rewritten version of "Under the Boards", perfectly wrapping up the entire album.
Under the Boards is a great album for fans of the emo genre who aren't into the more screamy things like Thrice or The Used but like some killer guitar riffs and drumlines, and a very good album from a stellar band.

Under the Boards: 8/10
Radio: 9/10
Can't Stay the Same: 10/10
Get Fucked Up: 9/10
When I'm Not There: 6/10
Lonely Nights: 7/10
Bye Bye Baby: 7/10
Stay: 7/10
Getaway: 7/10
Because You Are No Other: 8/10
Kaleidoscope: 9/10
Woe: 7/10
Turning Over in My Tomb: 8/10

Subtotal: 102/130
Bonus Points:
Guitar Intricacy: +2
Total: 104/130
Score: 8.0 Excellent

Genres: Emo, Pop-Punk

Last Review: Sound the Alarm by Saves the Day
Next Week's Review: No Devolución by Thursday
Next Saves the Day Review: Bug Sessions, Vol. 2

Friday, March 18, 2016

Saves the Day: Bug Sessions, Volume One [2006] — EP Review

Chris Conley: Vocals, Guitar
Vocal Era: Sound the Alarm
Dave Soloway: Guitar
Manuel Carrero: Bass
Pete Parada: Drums

1. Certain Tragedy – 2:42
2. In My Waking Life – 2:45
3. Freakish – 4:06
4. You Vandal – 2:21
5. Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off to Heaven – 3:23
6. My Sweet Fracture – 4:04
7. Jodie – 4:06
Total Runtime: 23:22

Okay, so this is an acoustic compilation released on tour after Sound the Alarm. I'm not going to go into detail about the lyrics and instrumentalism since I've already gone over it in my previous reviews.
Bug Sessions, Volume 1 is the first in a trilogy (strange, a trilogy during another trilogy) of acoustic EPs released on tour from 2006 to 2008. This is the only one which includes the full band and which was recorded in studio (that being the Electric Ladybug, at Conley's house). It's also probably the… worst. I don't know, the Sound the Alarm voice just doesn't go with many of the songs on this record.
I never thought I'd say that the Sound the Alarm voice would sound alright with a Stay What You Are song, but "Certain Tragedy" was probably the best choice. The guitars sound great acoustic. But it doesn't work with latter-half In Reverie songs like "In My Waking Life". Surprising to say, it works okay on "Freakish". This just sounds awesome with acoustic instruments.
Through Being Cool fans are gonna kill me for the rating I'm giving "You Vandal". But the panicky voice works well here. "Sell My Old Clothes" is probably the best sounding non-Sound the Alarm song to sing with the StA voice, and Soloway kicks ass on that acoustic. And the weirdo-"Can't Slow Down is Saves the Day's only good album" people already hate me but this is me signing my own death warrant. "Jodie" actually sounds pretty good.
It's decent, but unless you're a hardcore Saves the Day fan like I am, don't go trying to track a physical copy down; they're pretty damn hard to come by (I got lucky and found them on eBay all together.).

Certain Tragedy: 6/10
In My Waking Life: 4/10
Freakish: 6/10
You Vandal: 6/10
Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off to Heaven: 7/10
My Sweet Fracture: 5/10
Jodie: 6/10

Subtotal: 40/70
Bonus Points:
Total: 40/70
Score: 5.7 Painfully Average

Genres: Acoustic, Emo, Pop-Punk

Last EP Review: Summer's Kiss EP by Dashboard Confessional
Next EP Review: The Weight That You Buried by Knuckle Puck
Next Saves the Day Review: Under the Boards