Track Listing: Pop-Punk

Track Listing

There are people that think pop-punk is a phase.  That it’s music for youngins and you eventually grow out of it.  Well, tell that to the older people who still play it and the older fans who still eat it up.  Count me in as one of the latter, and if you read TPS enough I’m sure you’re also in either category.  So, grab a slice of pizza, put your Vans-clad feet up and let’s create the soundtrack ya (pop) punk!

We Are The Movies – “The Story So Far”

Let’s start with this solid band from Columbus, Ohio.  “The Story So Far” (The Story So Far?…“The Story So Far”???  HAHA MOAR POP-PUNK!) comes off their latest EP Get Busy Living…, which came out last month.  (We reviewed it!)  It’s a song about breaking free and carving your own path, with some awesome, driving bass pedal in the chorus.  We Are The Movies play Road To Warped in June, but they should totally be on the actual tour sooner than later.

Heroes Like Villains – “Red Ribbons” (Ft. Christian Fisher)

Why not stay with Columbus right?  Heroes Like Villains released their debut EP Amends in February, with this being the first single.  It starts off with clean guitar and chorus vocals before a full-out intro-type interlude.  Singer David Butler has softer vocals, but ones that do have the genre’s typical sound.  They also duel with Settle Your Scores‘ Christian Fisher in the bridge and outro.  (SYS is another Ohio pop-punk act, of course…MOAR POP-PUNK ZOMG!)  Heroes Like Villains are in the running to play the Ernie Ball Stage at the Warped Tour’s Cleveland date, so go give them a vote.

Right On, Kid – “Excuse Me If This Gets Loud”

More Colu-…kidding!  Albuquerque, New Mexico time!  On The Brighter Side of Things is the debut EP from Right On, Kid.  It came out last Friday, and this track is the opener.  It slows things down from the first two songs in this “Track Listing”, although it does have fast moments too.  Deliberate strumming drives this number about something unattainable.  Also, Jaseboards, so…skateboarding is POP-PUNK LIKE WHOA.  (It’s all working huh?  Also, ignore the fact that the player says “Blackridge Drive”.  It’ll play the song we talked about, although listen to the other one too obviously!)

Blink-182 – “Bored To Death”

Who the hell are these guys???  Blink-182 debuted their first single post-Tom Delonge yesterday, and it broke the rock section of the internet.  “Bored To Death” sounds like latter-day Blink, but with the noted influence of new guitarist Matt Skiba.  Travis Barker works the snare as he does, and gives the bass pedal a nice workout in the epic chorus.  Mark Hoppus takes the vocal lead but Skiba’s there too, and if you worried about a Delonge-less Blink you clearly don’t realize how kickass Matt Skiba is.  (He only fronts, you know, the best band in the world.)  Their new album California is out July 1st, the 182nd day of the year (as astutely predicted by Chorus.fm’s Jason Tate).

How great is all that?  It’s very hard to go wrong with pop-punk, so featuring it is always a delight.  I was also a total genre cliche not long ago, but who argues?  You can defend that.

Scenematography: Fancy Diamonds – “Rocknrollin”

Logo - Scenematography

 

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan four-piece Fancy Diamonds released their debut EP Sparkle Party in October, but just released the video for single “Rocknrollin” last week.  It may be late (TO THE PARTY????), but it’s a fun and quirky offering that makes it worth the wait.

“Rocknrollin” itself is, to quote the last paragraph, a fun and quirky offering (!).  The first verse and chorus are driven solely by vocals and…tambourine (ha), before the full band comes in for the rest.  The song has a definite surf/garage rock vibe, and really that’s the band in general.  That said, “Rocknrollin”‘s main riff actually comes from a keyboard.  There’s a lot going on, but it’s more subtle and complimentary than a wall of sound.

The video for “Rocknrollin” gets going with a marquee intro graphic, which does make sense as it presents as a mini-movie.  Frontman Dylan Evans then sings in front of a bunch of TVs as his fellow band members pop up around him.  After, the guys are outside smashing a stroller…which Evans then gets pushed around in.  Then they’re inside doing a performance, where they ultimately become skeletal figures…and there’s a bowl of glass (?) that’s being eaten like cereal and…it’s odd, and fits the song perfectly.

So that all happens.  Fancy Diamonds are touring in support of the EP May 5th-14th, with all dates in the Prairies.  As mentioned they have elements of surf and garage in their sound, and a notable pop sensibility that’s reminiscent of Joel Plaskett and even Said the Whale.  If you’re in Western Canada you can see them live next month, but regardless you can watch the Eyecatcher-produced video for “Rocknrollin” right now.

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Weekendcore: Further Seems Forever – “The Sound”

The Sound
“But for now, I’ll look (up) so longingly”.  Wait, wrong singer…and artist!

 

Further Seems Forever went through three singers in three albums before their initial breakup in 2006.  Chris Carrabba was on 2001 debut The Moon Is Down, Jason Gleason on 2003’s How To Start A Fire and the late Jon Bunch on 2004’s Hide Nothing.  Gleason is my fave of the three, and the only one who isn’t better known for a different act – Carrabba for Dashboard Confessional, Bunch for Sense Field.  The Pompano Beach, Florida five-piece became as known for the vocalist changes as anything else, but they also wrote many solid songs including “The Sound”.

“The Sound” was the single off How To Start A Fire.  Back when MTV2 was killin’ it with the rock videos I first heard it there.  It was actually the first Further Seems Forever song I heard, as I wasn’t long into my listenership of underground music and hadn’t caught up despite knowing of the band.  “The Sound” is a song of defined parts, with the verses having three distinct musical sections.  The chorus has very subtle off-time guitar work, and the bridge is kind of a hybrid of verse parts one and two.  All in all it’s a sweet-ass emo rocker, and perhaps my favourite song on How To Start A Fire (“Insincerity As An Artform” is pretty strong too).

Further Seems Forever did return with a 2012 release of Penny Black, featuring Chris Carrabba back on vocals.  Yada yada yada…thirteen years after releasing it they’re celebrating How To Start A Fire, having done a quick tour last month performing it in its entirety.  They’ll be doing three more summer shows for that (July 28th, 29th and 30th in Baltimore, Maryland; Boston and New York City respectively) as well as a Jon Bunch memorial in Philadelphia June 25th.  Oh, and Jason Gleason’s on the mic for all this…and maybe a new album????  That would be cool.  In the meantime, “The Sound” FTW.

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Relating Music To The Game: A Hockey Battle Of The Bands

SJ LA TSSF TGI
Multi-layered California civil war zomg.

So I’m sitting here watching Game 5 of the San Jose Sharks/Los Angeles Kings playoff series.  The Sharks are up 3-1 in the series, and as a Sharks fan I hope they wrap it up with a win tonight.  I got to thinking about musical connections to this game, and a couple I know of that are likely following just as much.

The Story So Far‘s video for “Heavy Gloom” features a (kickass old-school) Sharks t-shirt, their video for “Roam” features a beanie and the band had a recent tweet shouting out the playing of “Heavy Gloom” at the SAP Center during a game.  Bassist Kelen Capener is especially quite vocal about his fandom.  Sure they’re from Walnut Creek in Northern California, but still, good choice in NHL teams!

At the same time, I know Jonathan Vigil of The Ghost Inside is a diehard Kings fan.  His Twitter bio even says “Full time @LAKings fanatic”, and through everything he’s dealt with since the band’s fatal bus accident he got out to a game last month.  The band live in Los Angeles, so this is another home team situation.

I’m not sure what if any relationship exists between The Story So Far and The Ghost Inside, but perhaps they’ve engaged in some friendly trash talk since the playoffs started.  Either way, there’s vested interest.  As mentioned I’m on the TSSF side because I cheer for the Sharks, so sorry Johnny Boy and TGI.  Being that your team has won two Stanley Cups in the past four years I’m sure that rrreeeeeallllyyyy hurts huh?  Bah.

Wouldn’t It Be Great To Hear More Alternative At Karaoke Bars?

12v1jz
See, Bad Luck Brian gets it.

I haven’t done it in years, but I love karaoke.  Off the top of my head I’ve done “Closing Time” by Semisonic, “Clumsy” by Our Lady Peace, “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World, “Screaming Infidelities” by Dashboard Confessional and “In This Diary” by The Ataris (the latter two at a country bar…appropriate!).  Other songs have happened solo and as collabs (the most fun way to karaoke), but there’s usually a running theme in my choices: relatively unpopular.

Even when you do get playlists with a good chunk of alternative, people don’t usually pick them and when they’re done the audience is like “ummmm”.  The majority at any karaoke night are gonna pick stuff like Britney Spears, Guns N’ Roses, Adele (ALWAYS LIKE RIGHT OFF THE CD), “We’re Here for a Good Time (Not a Long Time)”, F’N “WAGON WHEEL”…and that’s okay.  That’s the popular, recognizable stuff for a reason and people can do what they want.  The song choices aren’t usually even bad, I just know I’d love more bars – and patrons – to have more alternative choices.  I guess if they rarely get picked the venues/CD makers might figure “what’s the point?”, and that’s understandable.  I wonder if certain songs are just considered harder to pull off, or the person actually wants a crowd pleaser and is less inclined to pick something obscure.

I guess theme nights are really the bread and butter of off-the-beaten-path karaoke.  Punk Rock Karaoke is awesome, and a few weeks ago I did hear a guy do…I think it was Motörhead, if I remember correctly (RIP Lemmy).  So yeah…sometimes the bar has a good amount of alternative to choose from but it’s not picked, or it doesn’t and you’re SOL anyway, but either way we’re lackin’ the alternative in the world of karaoke.  You can drink soda, why not sing “Soda”?

Album Review: The Scenic Sound – Like A Fire

Like A Fire

 

Toronto-based singer/songwriter Tim Stead has musical roots in power pop and punk.  As The Scenic Sound, he strips things down and sells out for melody and meaning.  (“Sells out” is not meant in the usual derogatory, is-it-still-2003? fashion it typically references in music.)  TSS released sophomore EP Like A Fire March 21st, and the Murray Daigle-produced six-song effort builds on 2014’s Standing Still with hints of pop, rock, soul and R&B.

Like A Fire opens with “A Heart To Call Home”, a ballad that features some lovely orchestral backing behind vocals about longing for love.  First single “You & I” is next, which changes gears by kicking up the tempo while stripping down the sound.  The acoustic does the musical talking in this one, and the subject matter celebrates a great romance – it really is a 180 from “A Heart To Call Home”.  The drums also don’t really get going until the second chorus to great effect.  Up next is “Warmer With You”, which has great guitar that puts long, possibly whammy bar-influenced notes to work.  The drums also make great use of simplicity with the verses interjecting lazy snare rolls.  The line “I don’t care how cold it is outside/I can see your breath curling up with mine” is awesome, and the EP’s title gets a mention during this song too.

Speaking of the EP’s title, the second half of Like A Fire first dishes out “Sleeping Lullaby”.  The chorus’ off-time snare hits remind me of “Companion (Lay Me Down)” by Wide Mouth Mason – good stuff.  “Sleeping Lullaby” is also the first real guitar distortion we get on the EP, which is also good stuff.  “Author Of My Hope” follows, and really works the bass piano notes (notably, I mean…it’s pretty piano-centric anyway) while bringing the orchestral touch back.  It’s 2:38 of YOU being behind you with analogies galore, but the weight of it makes its length surprising.  Finally, a piano-based version of “Sleeping Lullaby” ends the effort.  It largely honours the main version, but adds an element of evocativeness to also make it its own.

For Like A Fire, Tim Stead talked about wanting to create “something important, something that people feel like singing and believing”.  It’s lyrically upbeat, hopeful and passionate, and very pleasing musically.  You get the feeling of Dashboard Confessional, Evan Taylor Jones, The Fray and others coming together in an unabashed pop-driven (scenic) sound.  Stead has a keen sense for songwriting, and Like A Fire is a strong second release.  It’s out now via iTunes and beyond (where you can also listen to a brand new remix of “Warmer With You”).  Go get it.

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Weekendcore: Four Year Strong – “Bada Bing! Wit’ A Pipe!”

Bada Bing

Earlier I was thinkin’ about just how Boston-centric these few days are personally and otherwise.  Friday’s post featured the city’s Bellwire, as we did “Scenematography” for their new single “JAKL”.  My Toronto Blue Jays are in Boston playing the Red Sox (and losing, bah) and the weekend is bookended by Boston Marathon stuff, with Monday being the marathon itself and Friday being the third anniversary of the bombing.  All that said, why not let “Weekendcore” add to the theme?

Four Year Strong are from Worcester, Massachusetts – part of Greater Boston.  “Bada Bing! Wit A Pipe!” comes off Rise or Die Trying, which came out in 2007.  For me the pre-chorus is the standout, with its rapid-fire quiet-loud vocals building awesomely into the intro chorus.  It’s an apparent commentary on the scene, and overall is just the light-hearted pop-punk with a little something extra that Four Year Strong do (now without keyboardist Josh Lyford, of course).

Speaking of what Four Year Strong do, you can hear it on the entire Warped Tour this summer.  Warm up for that – oh, and while we’re Boston-centric the local date is July 13th in Mansfield, MA – with “Bada Bing! Wit A Pipe!”, and allow me to give mad props to the appearance of a San Jose Sharks jersey in the video (the parent team of the old AHL affiliate Worcester Sharks…RIP).  See I’m a Sharks fan, and I’m actually watching them play the Los Angeles Kings as I write this and…sorry, MUSIC:

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Scenematography: Bellwire – “JAKL”

Logo - Scenematography

 

Boston’s Bellwire describe themselves as “powerpop with spaz and jangle”, but latest single “JAKL” almost doesn’t conjure up any of that.  It follows “Time Out” as an offering from their new EP Dog Thoughts, which comes out May 24th.

“JAKL” is a slow chillaxer that’s meant to be enjoyed while sitting with a nice cup of something soothing.  A clean guitar gently strums and picks throughout, and takes the lead (LEAD GUITAR WHAT) as every instrument takes it pretty easy.  Guest vocals from Natalie Kovalcik blend nicely with Tyler Burdwood’s in the latter half, which in fact feature the great lyrics “those are the prettiest tan lines/running across your spine/and I can’t make up my mind how to tell you”.  Those lyrics are courtesy of guest writer Sam Rheaume (who paints and makes prints too), so good job Sam.

As for the video itself, there’s not much to it but it’s enjoyable.  The Alyssa Alarcon-directed effort features Burdwood in the shower in his boxers (!?), and periodically cuts to the band playing outside the house and Kovalcik reading a comic book on the toilet.  Eventually Burdwood has company in the shower, where an orgy happens things otherwise go on as normal.

Dog Thoughts might be the last release for Bellwire, as frontman Tyler Burdwood has relocated across the country.  They are planning shows starting next month in support of it, but the hiatus is about to be a thing it looks like.  So…”JAKL” and Dog Thoughts can ring your bell as we head down to the wire with this band.  (:D…Hey I actually scrapped two other punny things to go with that line, so don’t bar-*murdered*)

Oh d’uh, the video!:

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Absolute Punk Becomes Chorus.fm: Reflecting On A Powerhouse And Self-Stuff


Absolute Punk Now

 
For this entire century, one of the most popular and influential alternative music sites was Absolute Punk.  Founder Jason Tate first put his love of Blink-182 and MxPx on the internet before the site was launched in 2000.  It went from covering punk and related genres to several other genres, pop culture and beyond.  Tate has long said that if he could change the site’s name he would, and sure enough that and a full-out rebrand/format tweak happened the other week.  He explained it in a lengthy and excellent post, and with that Absolute Punk ceased to exist.

Reading that post got me thinking about why I started TPS and where I want it to go.  One of this blog’s biggest inspirations was Absolute Punk.  Before TPS came about I actually considered starting a similar music site with news, a forum and all that.  I quickly decided that was not gonna happen, and yada yada yada BLOG LYFE.  Absolute Punk was the first site in this scene I started to read, so it’s wild (although not really surprising) that it’s evolved into something new.  We all need to evaluate sometimes, just like I did in December in fact.

There are things about TPS that I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned because…just never really needed to?  Origin stuff and changes that perhaps you noticed, but were – probably, I’m too lazy to look – never highlighted.  So, why don’t we talk about some of that now?  The AP change got me all nostalgic and business-y, what can I say.

A couple of names were considered before I settled on The Perfect Scene.  Truthfully the only one I remember is Alternative Planet, which I didn’t go with because there were already two APs in Alternative Press and of course Absolute Punk.  The Perfect Scene came from the Mercy Mercedes song of the same name, where the chorus goes “all in all it’s the perfect scene/and there’s not anywhere that I would rather be”.  I thought that really fit the idea of the blog, as the old quasi-slogan “alternative music blog covering what we want, the way we want” went.  I also liked the name because we’d never deal with an Absolute Punk situation: it doesn’t pigeonhole, and has staying power through any evolution.  It can be a pain from an SEO standpoint, but I knew that would be the case – I liked it enough!

TPS has generally done exactly what I wanted it to over its two years and change, but one thing that’s changed is the use of the word “scene”.  In this world that usually means punk/hardcore/indie rock and the like, so I’ve recently tried to avoid it (aside from earlier in this post HAHA SHADDAP) because I don’t want any reader to go “why the hell am I reading about shoegaze on a punk blog???” or whatever.  TPS’ scene is “Perfect” because we just talk about good rock-related music and the surrounding culture, in our own style.  It’s a fun, inclusive world up in here.

You might have also noticed that the TPS YouTube page is gone.  It didn’t have much and hardly ever updated, so I didn’t think it was worth having right now.  I’m no fan of leaving things existing just to rot, and I’m not sure audio-only interviews (the page’s bread and butter) are the best thing to drive it.  You can still hook up with TPS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with each page having exclusive content.  Totes do it if you haven’t already.

It’s wild that a blog I started for fun has attracted readers and music people from all over the world.  It combines my love of music and writing, and I really appreciate that you and others take the time to check it out.  I know the amount of content doesn’t rival many sites, but the reality is 1) the format isn’t straight music news and 2) I don’t have time, to be honest.  Like the vast majority of indie bloggers, this isn’t how I make a living.  Would I love to have a SpinMedia type pick TPS up so I could afford to do more?  Hell yeah, but we can’t all get the previous Absolute Punk treatment (Jason Tate recently bought the site back from SpinMedia).  It could happen, but regardless I’ll always and forever aim for quality over quantity – a mentality that Tate mentions in the Chorus.fm welcome post too.

So yeah…AP’s change to Chorus.fm and Jason Tate’s reflections and ideas just got me thinking business too.  Read that site, and keep reading this site!  Besides on social media, you can get in touch anytime about anything via tpsceneblog at gmail dot com.  You can even suggest things if you want…evolution right!?

Weekendcore: State Champs – “Elevated”

Elevated
“Oh this one gettin’ written ’bout again huh?”

This is the final weekend of the NHL’s regular season.  The Dallas Stars are in the playoffs, and could end up winning their division and topping the Western Conference standings with a win tonight.  They also happen to be the favourite team of State Champs frontman Derek DiScanio, so let’s combine his fandom and some topical action to create this edition of “Weekendcore”!

“Elevated” is off the band’s 2013 debut full-length The Finer Things, one of the most well-regarded pop-punk albums of the decade.  Starting off with feedback before launching into a jump-worthy intro, the song ultimately speeds up into an extra-large pizza of pop-punkiness.  There’s great lead guitar work in the second verse especially, and it’s all done over lyrics about rising above a messy situation.

State Champs don’t hit the road again until May (they’re doing the full Warped run too), so I’m assuming DiScanio is going to be in front of a TV somewhere tonight seeing Stars (lol?).  Let’s throw it back in the meantime to the song that put the band on the map.

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