alternative rock

The Dream: Album Review

When I was in the midst of previewing Coachella and almost ready to head out for the second leg of my Mexico adventure in February, alt-J dropped their fourth full length album The Dream. The band also recently embarked on a North American tour with Portugal. The Man in support of their latest with more dates planned for this year worldwide. The Dream is their first album in five years since 2017’s Relaxer. Overall, alt-j’s latest album maintains their unique indie rock style of sound that is prevalent throughout their first three records with a slightly more Americanized rock sound.

The album much like it’s title is very dreamy. It’s very chill and sometimes somber indie rock with minimal bops. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a long scenic drive in my opinion. “Hard Drive Gold” is the “Left Hand Free”, “Breezeblocks”, or “In Cold Blood” of The Dream. I feel like each alt-j album so far has one of those and “Hard Drive Gold”, the song about crypto, is that hit of their latest release. “U&Me”, “Get Better”, & “Happier When You’re Gone” are solid tracks reminiscent of that classic alt-J sound as well. The main difference from this album compared to their first three is that alt-j’s sound has steered from the Middle Eastern sounds found in their earlier music. It’s more rock heavy yet the vocals are still smooth and distinguishable as alt-J tracks.

I don’t think this is alt-J’s best work, but the album does have a good handful of quality tracks that will stick around on set lists in the future. I feel like any time a band slightly strays from their original sound this tends to happen. It’s worth listening to as an alt-J fan though and is probably worth adding to your music collection too. I added it to mine on vinyl yesterday and I’m stoked to listen to it on this rainy spring weekend. If you haven’t already, check it out on a chill day or when you need a good soundtrack for a long drive. It’s quality new alt-J ∆.

Raise Up to Your Ability

It’s rare that I write a specific post dedicated to a personal music experience outside of Coachella especially with the amount of music I see, but I recently had a worthy one. About two weeks ago I traveled to LA to see my favorite band, Foster the People. They played a 3 night run at the Wiltern. Aside from a gig in Mexico a few days prior, it was their first live performances since 2018 (understandably so given the live music shutdown for over a year). This stint wasn’t just regular shows though. It was a 10 year celebration of the release of their first album, Torches. The band played the entire album in order during their sets each night.

A year ago, when I stayed home most of the time and spent my days working out, looking forward to meals and the occasional visits with friends, and missing live music, I started thinking about the fact that Torches would be turning 10 in 2021. I thought to myself then that Foster the People would be the only band I would compromise my feelings about drive-in shows for (I thought they were dumb), if they played a 10 year Torches anniversary show in May (Torches came out in May 2011). I didn’t know what the status of regular shows would be at the time and I wasn’t trying to jump the gun either. Then in August, after almost 2 months of a close to normal return of live music, Foster the People announced their 3 night run of Torches anniversary shows in LA. I had no choice but to maintain that promise I made to myself last fall and go.

So on a chilly LA evening in late November, I ubered to the Wiltern from my hotel in Venice. I met friends in a line that wrapped around the block upon arrival. That was followed by another wait in an extensive merchandise line so I could buy the special poster for the anniversary shows. Thank god for drinks and my pals. We secured a spot relatively close to the stage, house right after I secured the commemorative poster.

Foster the People came on around 9 PM. I attended the Friday night show and for the first time in a very long time, I had not looked at the set lists from the previous two nights. Other than a spoiler of “Lamb’s Wool” I saw as I scrolled through Twitter two days before, I knew nothing about their sets. They opened with “Style”, a song released in 2019 on the Pick U UP EP and proceeded to play a mix of old songs and new songs, including one of their earliest songs “Chin Music For the Unsuspecting Hero”, before that all too familiar drum and synth intro of “Helena Beat” began.

By this point, I had not stopped dancing or singing along to every song. Thankfully one of my friends went on a bathroom run and grabbed us some waters. After “Helena Beat”, I knew what was coming, Foster the People’s most famous song “Pumped Up Kicks.” The cheers were loud when that bass line started. It’s the song that everyone knows, but given all the controversy, I tried to take it in as much as possible because I wasn’t sure if it would be the last time I hear it live. It felt amazing knowing I had one last time hearing the hit song live though in case they don’t play it anymore.

“Call It What You Want” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)” were next. I didn’t chug my water until after “Houdini”, which featured an appearance of blow up Torches album art creatures that flailed along as we rose up to our ability. When Mark and the boys (without Mark Pontius for the first time since his departure from the group in mid-October) finished “Warrant,” the applause and cheers lasted for at least a minute. I couldn’t even believe I had just heard one of my all time favorite albums played live front to back. It was a special feeling. I was sweaty and so ready for more.

The band played five more songs after that. It was another mix of new and old with live debuts of “Cadillac” and “Walk With a Big Stick” amongst “Ruby”, the cult favorite “Broken Jaw”, and Sacred Hearts Club hit “Sit Next to Me”, which featured the Sacred Hearts Club tour neon light dropping into the background. After a brief departure from the stage, Foster the People returned to encore with 3 more songs, “Under the Moon”, “Lotus Eater” sans cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones that they played during their last tour, and finally ended the night with Supermodel jam “Pseudologia Fantastica.”

When the house lights returned, it was 11 PM. Foster the People played a 2 hour long set, longer than any other night during their brief run at the Wiltern. It was the second time I heard them play that long. The other was the last time I had seen them, September 18th, 2017 at the Fillmore in Philly. That was the best concert I’ve ever been to. They played countless hits from every album released until that point. I was up against the bar watching every movement and action on stage. I even caught the set list. This was just as special in a different way.

It was an incredible night that reminded me about the importance of live music. Last year I spent so much time wondering when I would get to go to another show. I felt frustrated in losing so much of what I loved. My only consolation was to tell myself that we would be back soon enough. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this concert was one of the reasons I got through last year. It was my favorite band, playing my favorite album in one of my favorite places (California) and I felt beyond grateful to experience it.

Damned if I Write This, Damned if I Don’t

I’m sorry to say, but it’s been another long amount of time I’ve gone without writing a blog post. It was a busy a fall with not much time at home and not much time to focus on the blog, which is a huge shame on me. As a quick update, up until last week, I only had 6 full days at home over the last 6 weeks. I spent mid-late September and much of October working 3 different music festivals (Firefly, Austin City Limits, and EDC Las Vegas). Then, I spent Halloween weekend with my family out-of-state. At this point though, I’ve finally been back for a week straight and thought it was time to make a post.

During Lolla week back in late July, I finally made it to my first Lolla after show. I saw pop punk band All Time Low at the Bottom Lounge (shoutout to my friend Emily for making it possible). Since then, I got back in touch with All Time Low, a band whose handful of songs I listened to at the end of high school/beginning of college. I can’t say I really went all in to All Time Low in the past few months, but I definitely started listening to a few more of their songs than “Dear Maria Count Me In” and “Coffee Shop Soundtrack.”

All Time Low, from Towson, Maryland (Baltimore suburb), formed in 2003 while still in high school. The group got their name from the lyrics of New Found Glory’s song “Head on Collision” (“And it feels like I’m at an all time low.”). Plenty of bands have gone through lineup changes over the years but All Time Low has remained consistent since their very early days with Alex Gaskarth on guitar and lead vocals, Jack Barakat on guitar, Zack Merrick on bass and backing vocals, and Rian Dawson on drums. In their very early days, Chris Cortilello and TJ Ihle were part of the group, but left before the band made a name for themselves.

The group released their first two EPs in 2004 before their debut album The Party Scene was released in 2005. The band signed with Hopeless Records in 2006 and released the EP Put Up or Shut Up that summer after graduating from high school. After joining the Vans Warped Tour in the summer of 2007, they released their second studio album So Wrong, It’s Right. This album peaked at 62 on the Billboard Top 200 and 6 on the Alternative Albums chart. Ultimately it lead to their rise in the alternative music scene. Their third album Nothing Personal debuted in July 2009. It reached number 4 on the Billboard Top 200 in it’s first week. By 2009 they became a headlining act at Warped Tour and had also been headlining their own national and international tours.

Since 2009, the band has been continually touring and releasing albums every few years. The most notable of those was Future Hearts in 2014 which debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Top 200, their highest charting album thus far. The most recent album they released was Wake Up, Sunshine in 2020. Other albums released include Dirty Work (2011), Don’t Panic (2013), and Last Young Renegade (2017).

All Time Low’s music style is classified as pop punk, pop rock, emo pop, and alternative, which is pretty spot on. They’ve stayed true to their genre throughout their time in existence, but I always think of them and their music style as something else, “scene” music. In the late 2000’s the “scene” subculture became a thing for alternative music fans. It developed from emo music/emo subculture. Now over 10 years later, All Time Low is a staple at emo nights around the country, where emo and other alternative music from the scene days is played for hours as millennials re-embrace super tight skinny jeans and heavy eyeliner while belting out anthems from their youth. “Dear Maria Count Me In” is one of those hits, as well as other pop punk, emo, alternative songs from that early scene era.

Despite knowing All Time Low for years, and even seeing the 1975 with them at Coachella (I happened to stand next to them), I had never seen them perform live until July. If it wasn’t for my friend Hailey, I’m not sure I would have even pushed as hard to see them either, but I’m glad we did, even if we only saw the last 4 songs. Hailey reintroduced me All Time Low as well as the Maine around that time and I’ve gotten into a few more of their songs since then including “Monsters”, “Damned if I Do Ya, Damned if I Don’t”, “Clumsy”, and “Weightless”. I’ve also re-sparked my interest in songs by several other bands I used to listen to this year including Fall Out Boy, Green Day, and Motion City Soundtrack. It’s definitely been a year of second-comings for alternative music for me.

Speaking of this year, we’re only weeks away from 2022 and for the first time in 2 years, there’s going to be a Coachella lineup drop, which means band previews and polo field hype will be back soon enough! Until then, I challenge you to get into a new old song by a band you listened to years ago. You just might be surprised how it could hit different especially if you’re over getting old.

CHAMPION: Album Review

A few weeks ago Bishop Briggs released her sophomore album CHAMPION. Her debut came out about a year and a half ago and in that time Briggs has been touring while simultaneously working on new music. Bishop Briggs released the bonus track “Hold On” in 2018 as well as the single “Baby”. Neither made the cut for the new album. In the weeks leading up to the release, Briggs released several new songs featured on the album. One of those singles was the title track “CHAMPION” which has since reached the number 22 position on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

CHAMPION picks up right where Church of Scars left off. It’s filled with more soulful alternative/indie rock jams. It’s a great follow up, especially with sure hits like CHAMPION, the break up anthem “TATTOOED ON MY HEART”, and “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”. If anything I think this album differs only slightly stylistically due to the less predominant bass in the tracks. Even with that slight difference, the bass is still there, just a bit less than in Bishop Briggs’ debut.

This album is definitely worthy of a listen for alternative/indie music fans, especially those who love Bishop Briggs and her powerhouse vocals. Bishop Briggs has yet to announce any 2020 tour dates but is currently finishing up this year touring in Europe. I suspect she’ll be going strong into the new year with more shows and festivals after this new release late in 2019. Keep an eye out for her and her tunes in the new year because she’s bound to be on the 2020 concert/festival radar.

When You Say “Best Friends” Means Friends Forever

It started with a girl. Last weekend I went to a punk show in Philadelphia. Rancid, Pennywise, and Suicidal Tendencies are all on tour together with a few other bands and they played a well known Philly venue that we all still refer to as the Electric Factory. I was supposed to attend with my friend Ashley and her friend Kelsey, but when Ashley took an offer to sell merch for Rancid, that left me and Kelsey to attend together. I just met Kelsey earlier this month so going to Rancid together really gave us the chance to hang out and get to know each other. We started talking about music and eventually got into talking about Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. They were two of my favorite bands in high school and Kelsey’s all time favorite bands. Since my Rancid hang with Kelsey, I’ve listened to both bands a couple times and for nostalgia’s sake, started reminiscing about how wild it is for someone to love both bands so much given their history.

Again it started with a girl. Jesse Lacey of Brand New and John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday were childhood best friends. They both were part of the famed Long Island music scene in the early 2000’s. As rumor has it, at some point in their friendship there was a girl that got in the way. No one knows the exact story of what happened. From what I know, it was something along the lines of Jesse was with a girl that cheated on him with John. It incited a well-known emo music feud between both bands. Songs from both bands’ first albums pointed anger and hatred towards each other (Brand New’s “Seventy Times Seven” and Taking Back Sunday’s “There’s No “I” in Team”). There was even band merch that did the same (“Because mics are for singing not swinging”, a dig at TBS frontman Adam Lazzara’s mic swinging style and “Proudly Swinging Since 1999”). Yet, while listening to these bands in high school, I loved both of them. Sure, I favored Brand New over Taking Back Sunday, but I definitely loved both and listened to each during certain periods of high school. Most of my friends did too. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who has chosen one and hated the other? Do those people even exist?

That’s what got me thinking about it this week. It’s crazy that we loved both of these bands. The songs they wrote that took aim at each other had some incredibly violent lyrics. “And you can think of me when you forget your seatbelt and again when your head goes through the windshield!” or “Best friends means I pulled the trigger. Best friends means you get what you deserve!” I mean come on! These are intense words. They’re actually threats! But when you’re in high school in the mid-2000’s, you don’t think of it that way. You just love the music and you relate to the lyrics.

I will say though “Seventy Times Seven” was the fuel for a lot of my own teen angst towards friendships. In fact, I think both of these bands taught me about friendships through their songs. I realized the importance of calling someone a best friend and what that meant. Of course, actions speak louder than words, but…words can be powerful. You don’t want to waste words on lower cases and capitals. You want them to mean something. So in high school, I started using the term “best friend” sparingly because in my mind “best friends” meant friends forever. I learned that from Brand New. It’s still something I hold with me to this day. I actually took those words for granted recently and I needed to remind myself to not do that again after it happened so again I looked towards “Seventy Times Seven”. This is why it’s still relevant 15 years later.

Sadly though, in recent years, a lot of people began to have mixed feelings about Brand New. In late 2017, Jesse Lacey was accused of sexual misconduct and a lot of fans were upset by the allegations. Mostly, I think people realized that Jesse Lacey wasn’t who they thought he was. Before that happened, Brand New released one final album, Science Fiction, before calling it quits last year. Taking Back Sunday however is still touring. They’re embarking on a 20 year anniversary tour this fall. John Nolan is still part of the band even though he took a brief break from the group in the mid-2000’s to form Straylight Run. On the tour they’re playing their first album Tell All Your Friends in full. It’s definitely going to bring up a lot of feelings for fans and maybe even for the band. Who knows maybe we’ll find out exactly what happened between Brand New and Taking Back Sunday? Maybe not though. I will say I think the feud might have been blown up out of proportion and there’s evidence of that as well (cue the video of Jesse and John playing with Say Anything). It was still enough that we never got a Brand New/Taking Back Sunday tour. Despite everything surrounding both bands, I’m glad they gave us the music that they did. It was the soundtrack to my youth. Even if I no longer feel like a failure by design or a wishful thinker with the worst intentions, their music is still relevant to me at times and I still love connecting with people over it.

 

Coachella Band Preview: Mansionair

Hola! I’m back in Mexico this week, but still bringing you another Coachella band preview because we officially have 2 months to go. This week I’ve got a band for you that I first found out about during Coachella 2018! They’re due to release their debut album in 2 weeks, but they’ve been putting out jams for the past 5 years.

Mansionair was formed in 2014 in Australia when singer Jack Froggatt was invited to join producers Lachlan Bostock and Alex Nicholls on music they had been making. They released the song “Hold Me Down” in early 2014. It hit two million views in 2 months. The trio then signed to Glassnote Records and were asked to join CHVRCHES on tour.

In 2015 the band released the EP Pick Me Up which featured their hit single “Hold Me Down”, a remix of the song, and 2 other tracks. They were also asked to join alt-J and Florence and the Machine on tour. They released the single “Easier” in 2016 followed by the hit single “Astronaut – Something About Your Love” in 2017. The 2017 hit reached number 44 on the Billboard Rock Airplay chart. The band also collaborated with electronic artists Odesza on their song “Line of Sight” also featuring WYNNE, which peaked at number 23 on Billboard’s Alternative Chart and number 37 on its Dance/Electronic Songs chart. Last year Mansionair dropped 3 more singles which will all be on their debut album Shadowboxer along with their latest single “Shadows”.

Mansionair’s sound is a perfect blend of alternative/indie rock and electronic music. Although their sound is definitely different, their style is similar to fellow Australians and Coachella 2019 performers RÜFÜS DU SOL. Their music has a darker, sensual feel to it though. It’s such a vibe to be honest.

As I mentioned, I first heard of Mansionair during Coachella 2018. We constantly listened to Alt Nation on Sirius XM on our drives to and from site each day and Mansionair’s “Astronaut – Something About Your Love” was part of the rotation during that time. There were several other songs that were continuously played on that station last spring and will always remind me of Coachella in some way. Mansionair was a part of that. It’s pretty cool that Mansionair already has that Coachella association for me since they’re actually playing the festival this year.

Coachella 2019 marks Mansionair’s first Coachella appearance. With their first album being released March 1st, the group will be touring and undoubtedly playing some of the festival circuit in the U.S. this summer. They’re already booked for Firefly as well. Mansionair plays Sunday at Coachella. I doubt they’ll be playing one of the main stages unless it’s an early afternoon set time. My guess is that they play Gobi or Mojave. The timing is in question though. They could easily play at any time of the day. Since Mansionair doesn’t have a huge discography yet, listening to all their tunes should easily prep you to see them. I guarantee it’ll be worth it too as these guys seem to be rising in their respective music scene. Before heading to see them at Coachella you should check out:

  1. Astronaut – Something About Your Love
  2. Shadows
  3. Easier
  4. Speak Easy
  5. Hold Me Down
  6. Technicolour
  7. Falling
  8. Violet City
  9. Pick Me Up
  10. The rest of their debut album!

Coachella Band Preview: Weezer

January is quickly wrapping up and Coachella 2019 will be here before you know it. After spending 10 days in the humid air of Riviera Maya, Mexico, I’m counting down the days until my two (possibly three) week stretch in the dry Indio desert. I can’t wait to be there and I’m sure you’re feeling the same way. This week I decided to preview a well known alternative rock band playing the festival this year.

Weezer was formed around 1992 in Los Angeles, California. The band is comprised of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), and Scott Shriner (bass, backing vocals). The band signed a deal to Geffen Records in 1993 and released their debut self-titled album (Blue Album) the following year. The album, which has since gone on to go 3x platinum, features notable hits “Buddy Holly”, “Undone – The Sweater Song”, and “Say It Ain’t So”.

Weezer’s second album Pinkerton was released in 1996, but the album wasn’t received as well due to the darker and more abrasive sound compared to their first album. The album has since gone on to critical acclaim, but initially it was considered a flop. The band went on hiatus between 1997 and 2000, which created a 5 year gap in album releases. Weezer released their third album in 2001 (Green Album). The album had a more pop sound than their sophomore release and created hits like “Island in the Sun” and “Hash Pipe”.

Since 2001 Weezer has released 7 more albums, which have contained hits like “Beverly Hills”, “Pork and Beans”, and “Feels Like Summer”. Just last week Weezer released their 11th full-length album to date the self-titled Teal Album. Their most recent release is a cover album containing their 2018 hit cover of Toto’s “Africa” and others including Radiohead’s “Paranoid” and TLC’s “No Scrubs”. The band also has a new album due out March 1st, the self-titled Black Album, making Coachella a perfect stop for the band who will be touring to promote their latest work.

Weezer has always been an iconic alternative rock band since the early 90’s. They span generations of fans as well because those of us who discovered alt-rock at some point have heard of Weezer, know Weezer songs, and/or have become fans ourselves. I’m totally including myself in this mix too. I first heard of Weezer when I was in high school. “Island in the Sun” was one of the first songs I had to practice when I began taking drum lessons on a full kit. While I was in a band in high school, we used to jam at our band practices by playing “Say It Ain’t So”. Throughout the years, the band has maintained the same quality of alternative rock sound too, which is always impressive and aids in keeping their dedicated fan base.

Weezer will be playing their 3rd Coachella this year. The band first debuted at the festival in 2001. They also played in 2005. They’re now back for the 20th anniversary of the festival and their first appearance there in 14 years. It should be a fun, well-attended set given Weezer’s iconic status. They play Saturday and there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll either be playing the Main Stage or the Outdoor Stage. Weezer has a huge discography so here’s several of their hits that you should know before heading to their performance:

  1. Buddy Holly
  2. Undone – The Sweater Song
  3. Say It Ain’t So
  4. Island in the Sun
  5. Beverly Hills
  6. Hash Pipe
  7. Africa (Toto Cover)
  8. Feels Like Summer
  9. Thank God For Girls
  10. (If You’re Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To
  11. Pork and Beans
  12. Tired of Sex
  13. Back to the Shack
  14. King of the World
  15. My Name Is Jonas

(That’s What I Call A) Rally Cry: Album Review

During Weekend 1 of Coachella 2017, I worked the late shift. I was on from 4 p.m. until midnight, which meant I got to check out the festival earlier in the day. Most of you who attend festivals know that a lot of the hyped acts play later timeslots. With that in mind, there weren’t many bands I went to check out before my shift started each day. However, on Saturday afternoon I decided to check out Arkells set on the Outdoor Stage. I knew one of their songs at the time, “Leather Jacket”, from doing some browsing on Spotify. Since the set was in the middle of the afternoon when the desert heat is at its prime, there weren’t many people in attendance, especially in the guest viewing area. I was essentially front and center for the set. That afternoon Arkells played one of my favorite sets that I saw at Coachella last year. They had great energy. I enjoyed their music without knowing much of it. They even brought a random festival-goer onstage with them to play guitar during one of their songs. It was so cool! I’m surprised I didn’t write about them sooner.

On Friday Arkells released their fifth studio album Rally Cry so I figured it was appropriate to do an Arkells post along with an album review. Arkells is a Canadian alternative rock band from Hamilton, Ontario that formed in 2006. The band is named after a street in the Westdale neighborhood of Hamilton where they used to live and practice together. Max Kerman (lead vocals, guitar), Mike DeAngelis (vocals, guitar), Nick Dika (bass), Tim Oxford (drums), and Anthony Carone (vocals, keyboard, guitar) comprise the band. Kerman and DeAngelis met while in college at McMaster University and discovered their similar taste in music. The rest is history.

Arkells released their first album Jackson Square in October 2008. They received some media attention in 2010 when Kesha and rap singer Shad joined them on stage for a cover of Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” while performing at a small venue show after the 2010 Much Music Awards. In October 2011, they released their second album Michigan Left. That year the band also announced the departure of original member Dan Griffin (he was replaced by Carone). In the next few years the band continued to tour and received a few notable accolades, mostly in Canada. One of those was Group of the Year at the 2012 Juno Awards.

Their third record High Noon was released in August 2014. The album earned them Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year at the 2015 Juno Awards. They also released the self-produced EP Study Music. While on tour in spring 2016, they teased a new record. That record, Morning Report, was released in August 2016. It was their fourth full length. In 2017 along with playing Coachella on the festival circuit they also played Osheaga Festival and Sasquatch! Music Festival. Their song “Knocking at the Door” peaked at #1 on the Canadian alternative rock charts. It was also their first track to reach US Alternative Charts where it peaked at #39.

Now Arkells are back with Rally Cry. I’ve listened to a few songs from their other albums and I have to say from their first album to their most recent, their sound has remained consistent. It’s pure alternative rock. Kerman has such powerful and somewhat distinct vocals. I feel like their music and even the lead vocals are a similar sound to that of Cold War Kids. I’ve been listening to their single “Relentless” for a few weeks now. It’s a jam and currently on my workout playlist. “People’s Champ” is a protest anthem of U.S. President Donald Trump, which isn’t the first time the band has taken a political stance with their music. “Whistleblower”, “The Ballad of Hugo Chavez”, and “Knocking at the Door” have political meaning as well. Another track on the new record “Saturday Night” gives off a Bruce Springsteen-esque vibe. Overall though, every song has that same alt-rock sound that has gained the band recognition in Canada over the years.

If you’re already a fan of Arkells, you should be stoked about this album. I definitely think they’re an underrated band in the U.S. Their music is great and after seeing them at Coachella, I can attest that their live performances are great too. I might be seeing them play again in two weeks too! They’ll be joining St. Lucia on their current headlining tour and I have plans to check out one of the shows. They’ll also be headlining a Canada tour in February 2019. It’ll be one of their biggest headlining tours to date as they play arenas across the “True North Strong and Free.” I feel like they have the potential to make a name for themselves in the U.S. at some point soon as well too. Definitely check them out sooner rather than later by giving both their newest album and older albums a listen. All five of their albums certainly have “gas in the tank to go all night long” on whatever medium you’re listening on!

Church of Scars: Album Review

It’s been close to 2 months since I last posted, so let me update you on what’s been going on.

 I planned to post after I returned from Coachella, but honestly I had 2 1/2 weeks before I left to go to Las Vegas for EDC and I got busy. I worked. I traveled to NYC and Washington, D.C. Then, I prepped for one of the biggest music festivals in the country (EDC Las Vegas) and for being away for another week and a half.

EDC was a roller coaster. It’s a chaotic mess of a festival and nothing compared to the glory that is Coachella. Our ticketing team had great moments and terrible ones. I’ve never seen my best friend feel so stressed at times. On a personal level, I made things happen, had some amazing times, and a lot of laughs, but there were other moments that made me feel unwanted, unnecessary and useless. It truly was a roller coaster. After I returned, the aftermath of EDC spilled over and this blog got pushed to the back burner. 

I leave for another festival in 2 weeks, so again there’s gonna be more posting delays. I’m trying to catch up on what I missed posting since Coachella though, which are a lot of new album reviews. Sure the 2018 hype isn’t as high as it was last year for me when it comes to new music, but a lot that I like has been released in the past 2 months.

One of those is the debut album from Bishop Briggs, Church of Scars. Church of Scars was released on April 20th. I was still at Coachella. I didn’t even go out to buy it until 2 weeks after I returned. When I first discovered Bishop Briggs last year, I was excited to know that she hadn’t released a full length album yet. It felt like I could still be part of the anticipation for that. Plus, I knew after the music high of 2017, it was something I could look forward to this year. 

Three tracks from the debut album were also part of her self-titled EP, which was released in full in April 2017. Two other tracks “Dream” and “White Flag” were released in the build up to the album release date. Fans (me included) were already familiar with half of the album upon its release because of that. The other tracks follow suit to her dark, soulful, indie/alternative pop/rock style and provide you with more of what you already love from Bishop Briggs.

Out of the completely new songs, I really enjoy “Tempt My Trouble”. It’s a jam for sure. The other previously unreleased tracks are a little slower and a lot more soulful, but they’re still everything you’d hope for from her full length debut. 

Although Bishop Briggs played a number of festivals I worked at last year and I even saw part of her set at one of them without really knowing her music, I feel like I’ve never really seen her perform because I wasn’t paying attention to her before last fall. I’ll be working Electric Forest for the last 2 1/2 weeks of June and she’ll be performing both weekends. It’s safe to say that if there’s one performance I’d like to see at Forest, it’s hers. 

I highly recommend picking up her debut or at least listening to it. She’s an artist you don’t want to miss out on because her music is fantastic and she can kill it on vocals. If you’re a fan, I’m sure you already have or you’ve at least listened to it on Spotify. You still have time to hop on her fan train though because Bishop Briggs’ music career is just getting started.

Crooked Shadows: Album Review

Way back when I started this blog, I wrote about my love for Dashboard Confessional. They changed my life in high school and got me into good music (click here for a more detailed description). They were my favorite band back then. For the past 9 years though, they’ve been M.I.A. as far as new music goes. Honestly, if you were to tell me a year ago that I’d buy a new Dashboard album, I wouldn’t have believed you because the style of music Dashboard plays doesn’t match my current interests. Plus their music reminds me of a specific time in my life that I’ve grown past. I still appreciate them for that time though. I’ve just moved on.

A little over a year and a half ago, I worked a Dashboard Confessional show. They were on the Taste of Chaos Tour with Taking Back Sunday, Saosin (with Anthony Green), and The Early November. It was an honor to work and one of my greatest full circle moments to date. I had the opportunity to stay for the show after I finished work and I, of course, took advantage it. I left early to watch the Stanley Cup Final (my team, the Penguins, were on the verge of winning the Cup) but stayed for about 5-6 Dashboard songs. However, I doubt I would have attended if I wasn’t working. That’s the best example I can give you of my recent feelings towards Dashboard Confessional. Three months ago that changed slightly.

Dashboard Confessional released their first single from their new album Crooked Shadows in November (the album was released on Friday). I saw it as a new music release on Spotify and decided to listen because I was curious. The single, “We Fight”, was pretty good. It was better than I expected. I wouldn’t say I was hooked, but I was happy their new song was something I would listen to. I felt the exact same way upon hearing Brand New’s “I Am a Nightmare” in June 2016 and The Movielife’s “Mercy is Asleep at the Wheel” over the summer. At that time, I also saw that Dashboard announced a new show date in my hometown in late January. I thought to myself that I’d definitely go to the show as long as I had nothing else going on. I even tried to see if a few friends were interested, but I delayed getting tickets in case something came up.

I ended up being able to go and took my mom to the show. She was always a fan of Dashboard when I listened to them in high school so I thought she’d appreciate seeing them at least once. The show was fantastic. I loved it, especially lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Carrabba’s stage presence. It definitely evolved over the years. It was fun to stay for the whole thing this time around and sing all my favorite songs again with a few new ones in between. Speaking of new songs, a week before the show they released another single, “Heart Beat Here.” This time upon listening, I was hooked. The song was a perfect blend of something I would listen to now mixed with that classic Dashboard Confessional sound (essentially Chris Carrabba’s voice). At that point, I thought to myself, “I might actually have to get this new album.” On Friday, I did.

Crooked Shadows, Dashboard Confessional’s seventh full length album, was released on Friday. The album is relatively short compared to the others. It’s only 9 songs long. Within those 9 songs though is the complete re-birth of a 2000’s emo band to a 2018 indie/alternative rock band. This album is far from emo. It’s purely indie rock mixed with indie folk, electronic, and alternative rock. It’s such a great blend of my current interests with classic Dashboard that I fell in love with it in a matter of hours. If you want anything reminiscent of old Dashboard, I’d recommend listening to the songs “Open My Eyes” featuring violinist Lindsey Stirling or “Just What to Say” featuring Chrissy Costanza. “Heart Beat Here” has an old Dashboard feel as well. At the Dashboard show I attended two weeks ago, Chris said the song is a continuation of “Hands Down.” I don’t know if I’d agree as far as the sound goes, but it’s definitely a great song. That track along with the other first five are absolute jams. My favorites are “About Us” and “Belong” (with Cash Cash) which I had on repeat Friday afternoon. “We Fight” is included in that bunch as well. I currently have the album in my car and I’m sure I’ll be listening to it on repeat for the next week or more.

This is the second time in less than a year that I’ve fallen in love all over again with one of my favorites (the first was Foster the People over the summer). Although I think this time, I’ve just fallen in love with new Dashboard so it’s kind of like falling love all over again. I would recommend their new album to anyone at this point, but especially to those whose music interests have grown and changed, much like mine have. Dashboard Confessional is back in the best way possible.