Back in the day I used to often put on the Galaxie audio channels (now Stingray). One discovery that came from that in 2003 was Die Trying. The Sacramento, California rockers came out when nu-metal was still a force and had strong backing from fellow Northern Californians Papa Roach. But…they ended up being pretty fly-by-night.
I think there’s a perception that people who write about music should be 100% music-centric. I mean obviously knowledge is key and you don’t want to read something that’s completely ignorant, but – and maybe I’m totally wrong – I think there’s an expectation that can’t always be met. I read a lot of sites that never really admit to not knowing something, not listening to music 24/7, not being totally cutting edge…things like that and it’s like “are you really like that, or are you afraid of looking like a hack or something?”. I could be reading too much into it, but sometimes I wonder. This post is a reason for it.
Vinyl has come back strong over the last couple of years, and is (again) the new cool format for recorded music. There’s certainly valid reasoning as it’s really the purest way to record music, but I personally just don’t care all that much – I don’t even have a record player (!). Digital music does differ depending on format (wav, mp3, etc.) as some things are lost as files are compressed. For true production enthusiasts and purists, vinyl’s lossless format really does let you hear everything as it was intended. There are people that swear by vinyl now and can’t be bothered with anything else. I get it: I’m a music nerd too and I love hearing all the subtleties of it, but I’m also completely fine with tossing a CD on and don’t feel like I’m cheapening the experience.
Because vinyl is such a thing right now part of me feels like I gotta get on that, but I also feel like it’s all good. Think of it like going to a concert: it’s very rare that an artist sounds as good live as they do recorded, but does that make you dislike live music more? I doubt it. Live doesn’t have the production opportunities being in the studio does, but it’s still awesome (and frankly, the best way to listen). Listening to a good quality recording always beats the alternative, but I’m fine with hearing some brutal demo if need be because I can still get the gist of the song. As much as I like breaking sound down, I’m not really a super production nerd.
What do you think? Do you feel the same way, get what I mean, or are you appalled that a music blogger isn’t gung-ho to jump on the latest trend? For the record (ha), record players aren’t that expensive so if you’re thinking of getting one it won’t set you back too much. If not, maybe in a few years your old discman is gonna be in style again! (Probably not though.)
So why don’t we listen to some music that takes us on a journey beyond the songs? A geographical journey is pretty cool beans too right? Sure it is! Drum roll please…(*drum roll*)
She Pulled The Trigger – “Dying to Shine”
We start on the East Coast with Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s She Pulled The Trigger. “Dying to Shine” came out back in the fall and is about…well, as you can probably guess, having a breakthrough. It’s a power ballad with the added beef of the drums, which feature double bass pedal and other rapid-fire tom action that adds a nice sense of urgency. The band are working on their debut EP now, although whether this single is put on it remains to be seen.
We, The Victim – “Open Your Eyes”
To the Midwest we go for these St. Louis, Missouri metalcore..ers? (ists? Boy that’s a stumper, come to think of it). Their debut EP A Ghost I Want To Be came out in September and “Open Your Eyes” is the openyoureyesing track. The drums are the driving force behind it, with vocalist Jacob White switching back and forth between unclean and clean vocals about how love is the saviour. You can actually download the song for free off We, The Victim’s Bandcamp so go do that.
The Zolas – “Get Dark”
Finally we reach the West Coast and Vancouver for The Zolas’ latest. “Get Dark” is off the duo’s upcoming album Swooner, out March 4th. It’s different, and Swooner indeed is apparently more poppy than previous releases. (The song that introduced me to the band, “Invisible”, was actually featured on the first-ever “Track Listing”.) “Get Dark” is a light, nice indie pop jam with a falsetto chorus that features the awesome lines “down for getting dark, cause the dark gets me/all the other lovers make it so heavy”. These guys are interesting, so it’ll be nice to hear more once Swooner is out.
That’s it…how about that EXPRESS COAST-TO-COAST ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ROAD TRIP? Maybe we’ll whip up another coast-to-coast edition of “Track Listing” and go elsewhere eventually. Music comes from various places don’tcha know!
Late last week Sum 41 officially made Frank Zummo their new drummer. They’re working on a new album, which is something they’ve done more…uh…spaciously, the past few years due to lineup changes (Dave “Brownsound” Baksh is back now, of course) and Deryck Whibley’s health issues. But before they blew up with “Fat Lip” from debut full-length All Killer, No Filler in 2001, “Makes No Difference” came out the year before.
Sum 41 online:
A few things come to mind when I think of Cincinnati, Ohio: chili, BILL FREAKIN’ CUNNINGHAM and Settle Your Scores. The pop-punk five-piece’s self-titled debut EP came out last January (we chatted with them a while after), and they’ve now followed that up with debut full-length The Wilderness. This is a band that flies the pop-punk/easycore banner with pride, and that’s truly cemented on this release.
The Wilderness begins with “Just Because You Shot Jesse James, Don’t Make You Jesse James”, a 54-second…breakdown, really. The only lyrics are “IT’S TIME TO MOVE” and later “RIGHT NOW” which…I guess is their way of saying the album is underway. The first proper track is “Poster Boys for Bad Luck”, which is one of three from the EP. I dig how the first and second verses are musically different, with the first being your standard pop-punk speedfest then the second having a breakdown feel. Single “Life: A Fate Worse Than Death” follows that, a number about being in a rut with lines like “’cause I swear this routine is gonna be the death of me”. It has a sick distorted bass interlude after the second chorus – the coolest musical part fo’ sho. “Behind the Scene/Nothing Without You” is also from the EP, an appreciative cheers to everyone who’s a positive part of the journey. Within the first breakdown there’s a great moment where it’s just the hi-hat ringing for a second. That’s not something often heard, and it’s a nice surprise. “Worst Intentions (You Had ‘Em)” is the final from-the-EP offering (the whole self-titled appears on this album). It’s one of the catchiest, starting with the chorus vocals/guitar before getting into things. Its subject matter is perhaps the album’s most venomous, although…the following “Cashing Your Reality Check” is heavier and pretty nasty itself. (It also name-drops the album title: “you’re on your own but you don’t know it yet/out here alone in the wilderness”.)
As we continue our journey into The Wilderness (see what I did?), the second half begins with “If Loose Lips Sink Ships, Then You’re The Titanic”. I have no idea what the guitar effect is, but it sounds like an old-school video game. It’s great, whatever it is. “Friend or Faux” is next, which has an almost false ending just over a minute in. It’s startling, but then after the all-out palm mute assault begins. That big ol’ pause actually comes back after a bridge with some nice riffing so…SYS so funny??? “Anti-Social Butterfly” makes use of call-and-response guitars in verse two, with crazy high-note riffing dueling with palm muting. If I may relate it to the hip cats at the malt shop, it’s perhaps the band’s version of “Here” by Alessia Cara (which is a great song in itself). Up next is “There’s No I In Family” which 1) YES THERE IS ACTUALLY and 2) is all about doin’ it together, with a big gang vocal of “AND WE PLAY TO WIN” to end the chorus. The bridge is the standout, with that previously mentioned distorted bass and pulsating drums. Penultimate track “Underachiever of the Year” is probably my top choice for another single. It’s catchy and relatable – not sure if it’s my favourite on the album (although it’s a candidate), but if you were introducing someone to the band it’s a gooder. Finally – and appropriately, considering the last song? – “How to Screw Up Your Future and Disappoint Your Loved Ones” ends the album. Pretty much the whole second half is breakdown-centric, with a long trail-out of “will I ever find my place in this world?/will I ever gather the strength to move on?” – a fitting ending for this album.
Settle Your Scores’ Twitter bio used to say “Pop-Punk With Balls”, which simply worked. They dish out what you’d expect, but easycore it up with copious breakdowns and unclean vocals. The real wildcard for me has always been the double bass pedal, which really beefs the drums up. Gang vocals are also a staple, and The Wilderness is a kickass listen from start to finish. It’s out now, so go take it easy (get it?) and enjoy.
Settle Your Scores online:
Worthing, England indie rockers Imbium released part one of their three-part EP series back in the fall. Considering we reviewedPart 1: The Radioactive Club, it would make a lot of sense to review the new Part 2: Lonely Planets too right? As my girlfriend would say, “obviiiii”.
Like The Radioactive Club and upcoming Part 3: The Shock Theory, Part 2: Lonely Planets has four songs. It starts off with “Beserka”, which is the first single. It’s an upbeat jam with a lot of subtle-yet-great guitar work, and sweet harmonies in the chorus. “If Gandhi Was A Rockstar” comes next, a song that’s actually a year-and-a-half old but finally gets on a proper release. The verses make great work of really high guitar notes, and call-and-response vocals of “just don’t care!” with lines like “gonna fuck you up” add to a furious tribute that Mahatma himself would probably widen his adorable smile at.
And just like that, it’s the second half of the EP. Things tone down a bit in it, starting with “Love You & Leave You”. Featuring guest vocals from fellow West Sussex…er? (ian? Ite?) Christelle Lamb, there’s an added prettiness as she and frontman Matt Charbonneau duet and in-unison sing during it. The cowbell in the first verse rules too, and I wish it would’ve been in verse two as well. The interlude is nicely chill, providing an easy listening (easy listening?) moment before things pick back up…and then tone down again with a piano-only ending (!). Finally, “To The Stars And Back” ends the EP. Written by friend-of-the-band Jonny Walker, it slows things down even more in a five-minute number that is drums-free for the first 1:30 or so. Being an epic power ballad that closes a release (and the fact that it actually has a very similar guitar sound), the song reminds me of Matthew Good Band’s“Change of Season”. If you know my tastes, you know that’s a big compliment.
All in all, Part 2: Lonely Planets isn’t quite as raucous as Part 1: The Radioactive Club, but perhaps that’s part of the story. It’s another solid listen from a very interesting band, regardless. I was told getting the EP online is taking more time than expected, but once it’s ready I will let you know. (It’s currently available physically though.) If you’re unable to get the EP in person, dream on this review for now and wonder how Part 3: The Shock Theory will end the trilogy.
On Friday I posted the CBGB shirt I was wearing on the TPS Instagram. One of the likes it got was from a New Jersey band called 96. That stuck out to me because 96 happens to be my favourite number. Combining that with the fact they’re a total fit for TPS, I figured we should further get to know them.
96 are from Essex County, which is in the Northeast part of the Garden State and has its largest city in Newark. They play full-out, in-your-face hardcore punk that’s covered on three EPs (2011’s The Blizzard and D.O.T.D. Dogs of the Day, and this year’s Future Trippin’) and 2013 full-length Caught in the Grips. Caught in the Grips was especially praised for its true hardcore vision that honours the 90s sound, and the full catalogue is really a ferocious thing. On the newly released Future Trippin’, the guitar sound immediately made me think of Marshall amps. Were they used? Who knows, but I wouldn’t be surprised (and considering that’s the first time a specific amp brand has come to mind for me, maybe that’s something – or I’m an idiot!). There’s a video for “Rose Jam” too.
The Scenic Sound are a Toronto-based pop act led by singer/songwriter Tim Stead. Their 2014 debut EP Standing Still produced melodic, catchy and pretty songs that toned things down from Stead’s previous pop rock band The Ocean Buried. However, one song brought bigger guitar in, and kicked up the tempo to make the EP’s biggest rocker: “Every Day That’s In Between”. It sings about getting to the point where love can blossom, with a keyboard providing the main riffs that contrast beautifully with the distorted guitar. The drums dominate the chorus, and get that distant, echo effect in the first part of each verse.
The Scenic Sound are set to release debut full-length Like A Fire in March, and with their latest bio describing them as a blend of “Soul, Pop, Indie, Rock and R&B” it’ll be interesting to hear what it sounds like (more eclectic, it would seem). In the meantime, grab your special someone and listen to this little banger of a love song.
The Scenic Sound online:
TPS’ first proper non-regular feature article covered Vagrant Records, and how it’s morphed into a hipstery indie rock label from its early heyday in emo/punk (with indie rock then too). When I first got into underground music Vagrant was almost single-handedly the reason, and this reminiscing was something I wanted to write about from the start.
Baseball’s my favourite sport, so picking a few alternative songs that would make for sick walk-up music was a must. To my knowledge none selected are in use (and we checked!), but they’d be sweet.
The title alone makes this one a favourite (huh? Huh?), but it was also the first great TPS rant. Ben G. of (ex? Their Facebook page is down) London, Ontario duo Niiko Soul & Ben G. e-mailed me to vent about being dismissed for basically not being folk. The colourful bitterness made me laugh, and there was definitely some truth in what he was saying.
New Found Glory are a summer staple to so many, so I figured we should analyze their release dates and Warped Tour appearances. It was so deemed that yeah, New Found Glory can totally be the “Official Band of Summer”.
I like this post because it displays one more-unique aspect of TPS: the lack of a language barrier. I mean the blog is written in English, but listening to and talking about music in French, German, etc. is awesome and worth it. Some people are too lyrically focused to enjoy foreign language music, but if you’re not get cultured and enjoy yo.
It’s what you think it is. TPS is never above just being stupid, and this is a fun example of various artists getting their name X-rated. I laughed a lot writing it, and hopefully you did reading it.
The preceding are just a few examples of posts that I think are not only just good, but represent TPS decently. You’ll always get to read about topical things, whether it’s simply “Liner Notes” or an expanded feature post. Reviews, interviews, playlists (“Track Listing”) and more are also part of the deal. Some things have evolved on the blog over two years (stylistic format, certain opinions), hopefully for the better. That said I’ve thought about going back and rewriting posts to better match today’s TPS, but at the same time I like how leaving them alone shows its evolution. Growth is good, and seeing it first-hand is fine too.
I’ve said this a couple of times over the past few weeks, but I really appreciate you reading, and all the submissions that come in daily. If you haven’t already you can also hook up with TPS for consensual adult relations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and e-mail anytime at tpsceneblog at gmail dot com. Thanks for celebrating this anniversary with me – you da real MVP.
Once upon a time there was a band from Champaign, Illinois called Braid, who were considered one of the forefront emo bands of the nineties. After releasing the seminal Frame & Canvas in 1998, they broke up the year after before reuniting in 2010. Post and pre-Braid (the redux), members Bob Nanna (vocals/guitar), Todd Bell (bass) and Damon Atkinson (drums) formed Hey Mercedes. (So yes, if you’re keeping score it went Braid-Hey Mercedes-Braid.)
Hey Mercedes played indie rock that was more straightforward and poppier than Braid. Starting out with their 2000 self-titled EP, their discography went Everynight Fire Works (2001 debut full-length), The Weekend EP (2002), Loses Control (2003) and the Unorchestrated EP (2005). Some of my favourite songs are the self-titled’s “Bells”, Everynight Fire Works’ “Eleven To Your Seven” and Loses Control’s “Playing Your Song” (which features people named Kevin and Karen, and at the time I was actually seeing a Karen. Whoa.). They also did an awesome cover of When In Rome’s “The Promise”, which is a hidden track on The Weekend.
Besides the Braid members, Hey Mercedes at first featured Mark Dawursk on guitar before he left and was replaced by Michael Shumaker. They were part of Vagrant Records during the label’s emo/punk heyday, and one of the first indie rock bands I got into. Most people are happy Braid are back, but Hey Mercedes were no slouches. (Yeah it was basically the same guys, but shaaaadduuuup.) Give ’em a listen.