Sunday, February 25, 2007

sunday recs.

Going with my local favorites this week, seeing as I finally got to see them both again after a few months of nothing.


My Favorite Highway.
Jimmy Eat World meets the Fray meets All-American Rejects is the best way to describe the oh-so-wonderful MFH. Piano-based, with sweet pop hooks and Dave Cook's clear voice will make My Favorite Highway your new favorite band.
myspace.com/myfavoritehighway


Pictures In Pieces.
Driving guitars, pounding drums, and poppy choruses are what make Pictures In Pieces rock the house at every show they play. They have the most energetic set I've ever seen, and their new songs are shaping up to be pretty awesome. Check them out if you like Saves The Day, Name Taken, or Over It.
myspace.com/picturesinpieces

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I go ahead and smile.


Lily Allen - Alright, Still.


I realize I'm a little late on getting this album, but better late than never, right?

The beautiful Lily Allen hails from London, and her debut LP is a blend of sunny vocals and dancey R&B beats. She's like a pop Lady Sovereign, with the attitude dropped down a notch or two...barely.

Although Allen's voice is clear and bright, her lyrics are almost the opposite. Most of the songs are about trying to get guys to leave her alone. While most artists would come across as whiny, Allen makes it all fun, especially in songs like "Knock 'Em Out."

Just get out my face / just leave me alone / And no you can't have my number / "Why?" / Because I've lost my phone

It's glorious, as is "LDN." On first listen, the song sounds like a love poem to London. Listen closer:

Everything seems to look as it should / But I wonder what goes on behind doors / A fella looking dapper / but he's sitting with a slapper / Then I see it's a pimp and his crack whore

Also, all girls who are bitter towards the male gender should take the lead of "Not Big." ;)

Most of the album follows in this general vein. As the album progresses, the subject matter becomes darker and deeper in songs like "Littlest Things." I find most of these songs to be not quite as interesting as her more tongue-in-cheek ones.

Allen also does nothing to cover up her British accent, which is an added novelty. Adding to this is the very slick production, coming together to make a sweet pop creation. I'm not sure the album has too much staying power, but I'll be pulling it out during the summer months for sure.

Standout Tracks: Everything's Wonderful, Shame for You, Alfie

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I am the patron saint of lost causes.


Anberlin - Cities.


Well, the much-hyped third disc from Florida's Anberlin is finally here, so let's take a good listen.

Usually, if an album like this one were released, I'd call it their "mature" album. However, Anberlin has always been mature. Cities is just taking that sound to its fullest extent.

The album opens with an abstract instrumental piece. The swirling guitars and ambulance sirens set the tone for the CD as it rips into "Godspeed." I know "Godspeed" is a good song because I've been listening to it constantly since it was released on iTunes in December and it still electrifies me.

I enjoy the next track, "Adelaide," as it reminds me of "Stationary Stationery," but it feels a little out of place with the rest of the album being so much darker.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy Anberlin so much is that they can have such heavy guitars, yet still maintain pop hooks. This is clearly demonstrated in songs like "A Whisper And A Clamour," "Reclusion," and "Hello Alone," which manages to be one of the most haunting tracks on the album. There's also a nearly '80s twist on "There Is No Mathematics To Love And Loss," and we get to see the gentler side of the band on "The Unwinding Cable Car."

I find "Alexithymia" and "Inevitable" to be the weakest tracks. They are by no means bad songs, but they just aren't as powerful for me. Luckily, "Dismantle. Repair" quickly makes up for those deficiencies as I've discussed in previous posts here.

Finally, "*fin" may be the finest song Anberlin has ever written. It easily overshadows the rest of the album, especially when the choir comes in about halfway through the song. This track alone is worth purchasing the album for.

Overall, while the album takes a few missteps, they are very minor. Cities contains the most diverse and advanced material of Anberlin's career thus far. If I were to meet the band, I would tell them congratulations.

Standout Tracks: Godspeed, A Whisper And A Clamour, Dismantle.Repair, *fin

Monday, February 19, 2007

new TREOS material.

Video of two new songs from The Receiving End Of Sirens have surfaced from their show the other night when they played under the name The Red Eye Of Soromon. source.


"Until They Become Conscious"


"Hemi"

Personally, I think both these songs are pretty stellar, "Hemi" in particular. It's hard to hear the lyrics, but the arrangements seem up to par with anything from Between The Heart And The Synapse. See, we told you they'd be fine without Casey.

they lied when they said the good die young.

Busy week, sorry for the lack of updates! Thanks to RMJ for making me post here again! Here are your Sunday recommendations (even though it's technically Monday now):


RedRedBlue.
These are the new songs from Nic Newsham of Gatsbys American Dream. A lot more pop than GAD, and a little dancier. Either way, I really enjoy Newsham's voice. I'm really interested to see where he goes with this. Also, all three of the demos on myspace are downloadable.
myspace.com/redredbluemusic


Envy On The Coast.
These guys are going to be on the upcoming AP tour with Circa Survive and As Tall As Lions. Big hooks and bigger guitars. Check them out if you like Forgive Durden, Minutes Too Far, or Everdae.
myspace.com/envyonthecoast


Anberlin.
Their new album Cities drops on Tuesday, but it's also now streaming on their myspace page. Full of their most intense songs yet, this album is pretty stunning. Expect a full review soon.
myspace.com/anberlin

Sunday, February 11, 2007

she tries too much.

Sunday Recommendations.


The Morning Light.
New demo up on their myspace. It's sweet. You should listen.
For fans of: JamisonParker, Jimmy Eat World, Sherwood
myspace.com/themorninglight


Blue Moonshine.
No, this is not a joke. They're a bluegrass group from Roanoke, and they play my college all the time. We love them.
For fans of: Old Crow Medicine Show, John Hartford, Alison Krauss & Union Station
bluemoonshineband.com

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

if you know what I mean


Driving East - Digital EP.


For me, Driving East have two things going for them:

1. They are from my hometown.

2. They play incredibly catchy pop-punk.

As one of The Militia Group's newest signings, they've got some of the most infectious songs you've ever heard. Barrett Mullins' voice often reminds me of early Fall Out Boy, but they're already writing the hooks that FOB are only just starting to write.

On top of all that, their live show is always a good time. I've been able to watch their crowds slowly grow over time, and see more and more people singing back at them. They always close with "Backseat," which is by far the fan favorite. But who doesn't love a song about a blowjob in the car?

If you're a fan of bands like Cartel, Fall Out Boy, or Hit The Lights, you should definitely be checking out their new four song EP on iTunes. I promise you won't be disappointed.

new video!

Here is Relient K's new video for their single "Must Have Done Something Right." I love it, but it would be really really hard for Relient K to disappoint me.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

before you gave in.


Dustin Kensrue - Please Come Home.


Dustin Kensrue is the frontman for post-hardcore band Thrice. So when I first heard the songs from this alt-country album, it was a little bit of a shock. However, looking back at some old acoustic versions of Thrice songs, I realize I shouldn't be that surprised.

Kensrue really has great natural talent for this kind of music. It's like Ryan Adams meets Neil Young. Kensrue can pretty much blow away all of the current alt-country competition (excluding Wilco, of course).

The album has a very distinct mood to it: you can feel Kensrue's longing for change and his loneliness. At the same time however, the songs make you feel safe; like you are home. Also, if I'm correct in assuming that some of these songs are about his wife, she is a very lucky woman.

Kensrue can flip easily between the foot-tapping rhythms of songs like "I Knew You Before" to the languidity of "Consider The Ravens," and pull off both with equal dexterity.

Every track on this short album (it's just under thirty minutes long) is stellar in every aspect: lyrics, musicianship, production...it's all there. This album is sure to be in my stereo for a long time to come.

Standout Tracks: I Knew You Before, Please Come Home, Blood & Wine

welcome, it's here.


Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High.


Yes, the album leaked two weeks ago, but today is the day it hits stores and takes the world by storm. Here's my extended thoughts on the album.

There was a discussion on absolutepunk awhile back where people pretty much unanimously agreed that Bleed American was the catchiest album ever. Well, Infinity On High is definitely giving Jimmy Eat World a run for their money.

Kicking off with an intro from Jay-Z as promised, “Thriller” then proceeds into a metal breakdown that’s pretty fucking sweet, but also easily the hardest music on the record. The rest of the songs are pop creations, and we dive straight into the hooks with "The Take Over, The Break's Over," sure to be another crowd-pleaser in the FOB catalog.

"This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race" is actually a little out of place compared to the rest of the tracks - it's by far the funkiest and most danceable.

I do feel like "I'm Like A Lawyer...," "Golden," and "The (After) Life Of The Party" are the weakest tracks, and might have been better off as b-sides. I do have to give them credit for trying something radically different with "Golden" though. Fall Out Boy has never written a piano ballad before, and while this one falls a little short of being effective, it's a good effort.

"Hum Hallelujah" makes great use of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in a choral arrangement; one of the highlights of the album.

"Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" sounds almost like it could have come from a '90s era boy-band CD, but that's exactly what makes it so much fun, kind of like the album as a whole.

The most interesting track is "You're Crashing, But You're No Wave." It combines My Chemical Romance style instruments with Panic! At The Disco style lyrics and displays a storytelling side of Fall Out Boy that is not usually seen with Wentz's normal disjointed stream-of-consciousness lyrics. It's a huge step up for Fall Out Boy, and I'd love to see them take that kind of song further.

Patrick Stump’s vocals are the best they’ve ever been. That kid can do ridiculous things with his voice. He’s got a bit of a different tone than he did on From Under The Cork Tree, and while sometimes it’s hard to tell whether that’s a result of vocal lessons or post production, I like it.

As for Pete Wentz’s lyrics, he clearly writes his best when he’s bitter about something, and he’s had nothing to be truly bitter about this past year. Basically, the lyrics are pretty straightforward and rather uncreative in my opinion, but the melodies that Stump has put them to almost make up for it. At the same time, it all feels a little tongue-in-cheek to me. Also, there aren’t nearly as many heavy-handed sexual innuendos as there were on Cork Tree, and that is a good thing.

The way I see it, Take This To Your Grave is the kind of album you listen to while speeding down the highway. From Under The Cork Tree is the kind of album you listen to while lying in a hammock. And Infinity On High is the kind of album you listen to while dancing around in your underwear. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Standout Tracks: Hum Hallelujah, Thnks Fr Th Mmrs, You're Crashing But You're No Wave

when it all comes crashing

The Academy Is... - We've Got A Big Mess On Our Hands.

This is the second song to be released from the upcoming Santi, and supposedly the first single.

I like it better than "LAX To O'Hare," but not by much. The verses are reminiscent of songs like "Classifieds," but other than that it looks like they tried to go for a bigger sound and fell short. The hook is pretty catchy, but I think they tried to put too many things into this song, and let Butch Walker do a little too much on the production end.

A big big mess is right. Santi is looking like it's going to turn out to be a big big disappointment.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

we're all souls just trying to connect.

Portugal. The Man and Damiera at the Rock & Roll Hotel.

As Tall As Lions and The Second Sunrise at Mount Saint Mary’s College.

Well, we missed the opening band, Tera Melos, because we got lost and ended up in Anacostia, also known as the sketchiest place on earth, for those not familiar with the DC area. However, we did eventually find H Street NE and managed to get a parking space right in front of the venue too.

If you haven’t been to the Rock & Roll Hotel yet, you should. It’s this tiny little shoebox of a room, but it’s pretty sweet.

Damiera was pretty much just bad. I don’t know any of their songs, but they all sounded the same anyways.

Portugal. The Man, however, was very good. They had this crazy lights show with floodlights flashing on and off, and making their shadows look like they were dancing even when they weren’t. R&R’s acoustics aren’t the best in the world, but P.TM still rocked out. Mostly I just wanted to hear “Chicago,” and they played that second so I was happy.

Adam and I peaced out before The Fall Of Troy started so we could make it up to Maryland to meet Chelsea and the Amandas at the ATAL show.

Chelsea was friends with the opening band, The Second Sunrise. I was actually pretty impressed with their show – they’re kind of pop-punkish and had a very energetic show. And by energetic, I mean spastic. They were fun to watch and sounded pretty decent too.

And of course, As Tall As Lions is always good. Their set list was something like:

Ghosts Of York
Song For Luna
Milk And Honey
A Break, A Pause
Be Here Now
Stab City
Deep Sleeper
Kickin’ Myself
Maybe I’m Just Tired
Love Love Love (Love Love)
96 Heartbeats

I just love to watch these guys play. They clearly enjoy what they are doing. Plus, Julio and Rob make the most entertaining faces. There was one song toward the end where Rob got up from the keyboard and started pounding on the drum kit, and Brian started pounding the keyboard. I also love Rob’s trumpet solo during “Stab City.” There were a lot of times when it was hard to hear Dan's vocals, but it was okay. The extended jam parts of the songs they do more than make up for it.

Basically, ATAL is one of those bands that always restores my faith in music. Hearing songs like "Stab City" or "Love Love Love (Love Love)" live remind me why I love to spend ridiculous amounts of time and money on shows. I really hope more people start listening to this band. Hopefully the fact that they’re on the AP Tour with Circa Survive will find them some new fans. They really deserve it.

Friday, February 2, 2007

a bright white light from nowhere.

The Academy Is... - LAX To O'Hare

The new Academy song is now streaming on their absolutepunk profile.

Alright. So TAI is pretty much one of my favorite bands. I'm really expecting a lot out of them with this new release, especially after they kicked Tom Conrad out of the band and replaced him with some random Australian. They're really going to have to work hard to get my respect back, and this song isn't quite working.

At first, the song sounds promising. That is, promising until William Beckett starts singing. I don't know what he's doing differently, but I don't like it. His voice grates on my ears so much that it's hard for me to listen to the song all the way through.

It also sounds like they've let their labelmates Cobra Starship influence them heavily - while the whole track isn't straight up dance rock, the chorus definitely is.

I do have good things to say about the lyrics, however. Bill (or did Mike Carden write this one?) has definitely stepped it up - the lyrics are a little more complex than anything that appears on their EP or LP.

I just hope this track is not representative of the entirety of Santi.