This is the bands second release on Epitaph. This album shows a band that has matured greatly from their debut. You can put this album on repeat, listen for days, never have the need to skip a track and never once get bored with the album.
The first album with the new line up, Illuminaudio, sets a new bar for the band. The album flows with the normal progression Chiodos makes from album to album, as from All’s Well That Ends Well to Bone Palace Ballet, but also feels as if the band has reached a higher music making caliber. With the loss of their well known frontman, Chiodos starts of strong with this album.
This is the Silverstein’s first release since leaving Victory Records and signing to Hopeless Records. It is just an EP and has 5 tracks;3 songs reminiscent of previous Silverstein albums, one being acoustic and another is a Nine Inch Nails cover. The track “Sacrifice” is very similar to tracks off of their previous album A Shipwreck in the Sand. It is a good preview of what Silverstein’s 1st full length on Hopeless Records and 5th full length album ever will sound like.
Any Circa Survive fan who picked up this album when it first dropped was so excited for the comfort of what is usual Circa Survive but also intrigued by the progression the band has made from their first album Juturna to On Letting Go to Blue Sky Noise. This album is full of amazing tracks, none needing to be skipped over.
Dan Sartain’s latest release is a certified rock and roll classic. Sartain fuses the best elements of punk, 60s garage rock, blues, rockabilly and whatever else pleases him into catchy, right-to-the-point rock songs that have attitude to spare. There is no filler on Dan Sartain Lives, every song is exceptional. This is a rare album that’s not overproduced, not cheap, not fake that still has wide appeal.
Future Islands have evolved considerably since they emerged from the ashes of Art Lord and the Self Portraits. The band has moved from North Carolina to Baltimore, and every album they’ve released has broached new territory while still remaining rooted in the trademark Future Islands sound. Though In Evening Air is synth-heavy and contains an electronic drum kit and crooning vocals, it is not simply a new wave or post-punk revival album: it’s a great collection of dark, honest rock songs that uses the best elements from those genres to its advantage.
Every Screaming Females album tops the last one. Castle Talk is full of Marissa Poternaster’s virtuoso guitar playing, distinct vocals and oddball song structures. While not as fast and hard as Power Move, Castle Talk is still a high-energy rock album that’s not afraid of being too loud or aggressive. This three piece band from New Jersey has a sound so gigantic that most other bands with five or six members could not match or replicate it. Screaming Females prove that distorted guitars guitars, heavy bass and pummeling drums are still relevant and important in the 21st century.
Devo helped to pioneer both American punk rock and new wave. Their new release, Something For Everybody, does just what the title implies. It’s full of Devo’s trademark quirky humor, mesmerizing synths and nerd-empowering lyrics. Not every song is thrilling, but every song is a Devo song at the very least. The album’s most successful songs easily compare to anything in the holy Devo canon, and that is a high bar to reach. Don’t call it a comeback: Devo’s been here for years.
Choke Up’s self titled EP is the best straight-up punk release of the year. These boys from Boston combine the ferocity and unpredictability of 90s screamo with the no-frills aggression of 80s hardcore and top it off with post-hardcore’s sense of melody and earnest approach to songwriting. The five songs on the EP are all fast and frenzied, but the band leaves itself room to experiment. Choke Up plays mean and hard, but eclipses other punk bands because of their creativity and willingness to write memorable and catchy songs. A must-listen for fans of hard-edged music.
An Americana gem that’s on par with their previous release Ode To Sunshine. The album spans slow-paced tear jerkers, sarcastic political jabs (“911”), and pounding roots rock. Matt Vasquez sings with raw scorching swagger that is reigned in or unleashed to fit. Album highlights include “White Table”, “Bushwick Blues”, “Vivian” (a song written about the deaths of Vasquez’s grandparents), “Golden State” and…ah heck, they’re all great.
Last year Matthew Houck released “To Willie”, an album of Houck covering Willie Nelson. Pre-Wille, the Phosphorescent sound likened itself to a backwoods gospel choir. Post-Willie, we get more twang and a bigger less secluded sound on Here’s To Taking It Easy. This is neither good or bad, just different. Although, there is still that primitive arrangement on songs like “Hej, Me I’m Light”. Tracks like “The Mermaid Parade”, “Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama”, and “I Don’t Care If There’s Cursing” float on clear as day guitar solos, hammering piano chords, and the occasional horn fill. Other key tracks include “We’ll Be Here Soon” and “Los Angeles.”
John McCauley’s band stays the same gravelly, down-trodden course on their third major release. But being a fan of both of those albums, Black Dirt Sessions is a welcome addition. Over the bow of a stand-up bass and his own wandering guitar melody, McCauley sings a self-deprecating plea on “Twenty Miles”: “I deserve every stone that’s thrown out at me/And I think of your smile, I’m in love with your teeth”. Where “Twenty Miles” wanders, “Mange” marches. McCauley admits to himself a harsh truth: “So I’ve gotta look at the sky and imagine I’ve found my place” before the song accelerates into a piano/guitar/drum/bass flurry. Other album standouts include “Goodbye, Dear Friend” and “Piece By Piece and Frame By Frame.”
A Graceland for the 21st century, these Columbia grads have crafted a pop classic. On this record, the sound of western guitars and keyboards is paired with eastern percussion, all highlighted by string arrangements. The result is staunch afro-pop that is fresh and inviting. If you don’t smile while listening to this record, check your pulse. Album standouts are “Horchata”, “White Sky”, “Cousins”, “I Think Ur A Contra”, and “Giving Up the Gun.”
The second major release from this Brooklyn-based trio, Odd Blood is eighties dream pop for the new decade. Synthesizers and spaced-out guitars fly over echoing drums. Album highlights include “Madder Red”, “Ambling Alp”, “Children”, and “O.N.E.”