Category Archives: Album Review

REVIEW: The Adversary – ‘Chapter 3: Falling Is Flight’

the adversaryThroughout the five-track release, The Adversary channel 80’s style (see “Coming On”), utilizing modern technology. On tracks like, “Coming On,” the nostalgic vibes are strong, as well as fantastically catchy.

However, it’s “Aural Fixation,” with opening bass notes remind me of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and a very 80s sound, that is quite mesmerizing. It’s a very chilled track, which I can easily imagine in the opening credits of a film. Rhythmic, catchy, filled with plenty of other-worldly sounds to keep a listener entertained, especially once the haunting vocals eventually creep in, hypnotic in nature, and adding another layer to the song.

“Falling Is Flight” features systematic sounds, with a steady build. The husky tone of the vocals remind me of Muse’s Matthew Bellamy’s haunting drawl. The track acts as a beautiful reminder that holding on so tight to something is unhealthy, and sometimes, that plummeting fear of the fall is the only way to move on.

The last two tracks, “Can You Believe” and “When Doves Cry,” are very similar, to me. Both thrive on synth-driven, repetitive melodics and lyrics, which work in their favor. In all honesty, this collection of music is something you want to move to, not necessarily sit around listening to. So, listen to the music, get off your butt, and get dancing in your room, like humans were obviously built to do!

Chapter 3: Falling Is Flight is available NOW.

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REVIEW: Thieves & Lovers – ‘Seasons’

thieves and lovers seasonsIt would appear that Thieves & Lovers can do no wrong, as proven with their brand new four-track record, Seasons. The record kicks off with a guitar-driven, infectious, cinematic opening, “Sex & Cigarettes.” The track acts like the plea of a person who has given into their feelings, and is begging another to do the same. At the bridge, the guitar practically sings, showcasing a stunning instrumental quality that remains present throughout the record.

“See You Soon” follows as a 90s reminiscent, chilled-out song, filled with a poetic tone, accompanied by soft instrumentals. With a bittersweet goodbye, I would dare say the record is about the seasons of a relationship, or the seasons of growing up, and learning to cope with the unknown moments that will approach in life. “Waiting Game” follows a similar theme, describing the difficult work of soul-searching, and the angst of getting older, trying to figure out what you want. Again, stunning instrumentals are a prominent feature, with Brandon Stoner crooning, “It’s not the waiting, it’s the spaces in between.” He delivers the line with raw emotion, making it a truly believable performance.

However, it is the final track, “The Rain Season,” that is, hands down, my favorite song from Seasons. As a peaceful, final ode to the meaning of life and the sheer enormity of the world, the track is a resignation to the end as a whole, whether that’s the end of a relationship, the end of a life, etc. The rhythm of the track crafts this rare feeling of a live, acoustic show intimacy that wraps listeners up like a warm blanket on a bitter, cold day. And what more could you possibly ask for from a record?

Thieves & Lovers’ Seasons is out today! Click HERE to pick up a copy!

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REVIEW: The Way Away – ‘Something I Never Wanted’ EP

the way away EP.jpgThe Way Away kick off their new EP, Something I Never Wanted, the way any good pop-punk band should: with high energy, amazing guitars, and fast-paced vocals. “Second Chances” is the type of song that makes you want to mosh in your bedroom, pretending that you, too, are a rockstar. Matt Kabes vocals are perfection, delivering lyrics that hint at the title of the EP, talking about regrets, remorse, and not living up to expectations (essentially summing up your twenties). There are plenty of group vocals and power, which will keep listeners in the mix. However, it’s the Simple Plan-esque bridge that brings it home, when the instrumentals quiet down for just a breath, and the vocals get a moment to shine, before the song truly explodes. The track is a definite high note, and sets the standards for the rest of the EP quite high.

Almost like the band chose to forego a fade out, the EP quickly moves into “Alive,” which is everything the thirteen year old emo inside of me dreams about. Pop-punk isn’t dead? Neither is emo! With dark lyrics, but an overall hopeful tone, the track is a love song, and hints at a bit at being a little too dependent on someone for your happiness, but there’s something so damned catchy about it, it’s irresistible. “I spent years wishing I could be someone else, now all I want is to be by your side,” Kabes belts out…and you’ll find yourself belting along too. Guaranteed. In a similar breath, “Echoes” will transport listeners back to 2003 (perhaps even 2005). The song shows a bit of an edgier side of The Way Away, and I have to say, it’s a good look for them. Moody, bitter, and strong, “Echoes” is, hands down, a standout track on Something I Never Wanted. Perfect for AFI (and possibly Alkaline Trio) fans, the rhythm (courtesy of Jake Engler on bass and Wyatt Engl on drums) is fantasic. Heavy guitars really round it out, especially with moments of group vocals slipped in.

“Alone” is an ideal live-show tune. I can imagine lots of jumping, lots of lyric-shouting, and plenty of energy. Despite the emotional lyrics, there’s a raw quality to the track that seems to ignite as it carries along. However, it’s the fast-paced, summer anthem, and closer, “Six Feet Over,” that will leave listeners’ jaws slack. With a wonderfully catchy chorus, and breath-taking instrumental moments (check out Jeff Engler’s guitar solo!), The Way Away will mesmerize anyone within earshot. This is the song that will make you want, no, need, to see the band live.

Something I Never Wanted drops tonight. Pick up your copy at: https://thewayaway.bandcamp.com

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REVIEW: Michael Persall – ‘400’ EP

michael persallMichael Persall kicks off his latest EP, 400, with “The Move,” an upbeat tune that perfectly captures a sweet courtship, all the while showcasing some of Persall’s enviable vocal talents. The indie-pop/rock single is radio worthy, with perfect timing, a happy-go-lucky charm, and a fantasy appeal, as evident in the music video. Persall has a definite presence to him, reminiscent of a 60’s frontman, as evident throughout the EP.

“I’ll Wait” has an irresistible blues/pop style, coming across like a modern uptake on “You Can’t Hurry Love,” with a cinematic, stand-out quality. It’s a guy who was too busy chasing other people to see the one in front of him, but coming around, and making his move, no matter how late it is. I can only imagine how well this song went down at one of the 400+ shows Persall played in NYC this year, after which the EP was named.

However, it’s the heartfelt and heartbroken sounds featured on “Doesn’t Make It Right,” that stand out the most. The track is the bitterness after the break-up; the narrative of a person who has been hurt, betrayed by someone he loved, who he thought loved him. Persall delivers an incredible performance on the song, with a vintage quality that makes it sound as though it could be straight off of a vinyl from the 60s. It is, hands down, the best track on the EP.

Persall caps it all off with the catchy, upbeat dance anthem, “Fine With That,” perfectly book-ending 400. The track will make you want to dance around the room, and maybe press the repeat button on the EP.

400 is out NOW.

For more on Michael Persall, please click here.

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REVIEW: The Future Scares Me – ”Till It’s Dark Out’

The Future Scares MeDream-like and reminiscent of a child’s fable; that’s the best way to describe The Future Scares Me and their brand new EP, ‘Til It’s Dark Out, set to be released this December.

The EP starts off strongly with the notable lead single, “Slow Down,” and it’s colorful, lush sound manages to express the true sadness of getting older, and the things around you changing. The track is a perfect single, and an even better introduction, with a cinematic, entrancing momentum that pulls you in, and will keep you hooked for the entirety of the EP. In a time where everything we do is rushed, The Future Scares Me have crafted a song that is both excellently done, and also a perfect reminder that nothing lasts forever.

TFSM brings in a more electro-pop, synth-driven sound, courtesy of Eli Sundelson, on “Not So Far Away” and “Waiting For The Sun,” but it doesn’t detract from the soulful vocal stylings of Sonia Sundelson. Both tracks have an eerie element that maintains the dream-like quality, adding in ethereal harmonics. “Waiting For The Sun” has an almost dystopian/post-apocolyptic vibe, and solidifies that TFSM are excellent story-tellers, with bright, clear imagery. There is a definite contrast between the synth and drums (David Christian) and the melodics, which may or may not have been a purposeful decision, but it seems to act as a reminder that music is not entirely about analyzation and lining everything up; it’s about enjoyment.

‘Til It’s Dark Out finished off with “Play Dumb,” a quirky, more melodic tune, with a Peter Pan-esque narrative. As the song builds, it makes it more obvious that TFSM have a lot to say, and are nowhere near from done. There is a quality to their sound and a rawness to their talent that makes them stand out…and you should be paying attention.

‘Til It’s Dark Out will be out on December 8th, 2015. The duo will be performing at their EP release show at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn, NY, on 12/8/15, alongside Pajama Peoplealtopalo and oMoO.

For more on The Future Scares Me, click HERE.

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REVIEW: Paper Hearts – ‘Portrait’ EP

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Boston-based pop-punk band Paper Hearts may be fresh on the scene, but they’ve already branded themselves with their debut EP, Portrait. From beginning to end, the four-piece band will charm its way into your earbuds…and maybe your new favorites list. Each track has a quality to it that will make you want to go and see the band live, like, yesterday.

The EP kicks off with the Warped Tour-esque set worthy “I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This,” which will have you jumping up and down. It’s pop-punk at its finest, with catchy lyrics, mosh-worthy moments, and plenty of wonderful guitar, much like “Remember The Day.” Both tracks are high-energy, and you can practically see the circle pit forming now. Telling the story of a first encounter, the latter track has group vocals, plenty of chances for the crowds to get involved, and delivers a strong performance, including a “rap” of sorts, showing the band’s versatility. However, it is the amazing, almost Aerosmith quality guitar solo and the undertone of the bass that really gives the song an added oomph.

Paper Hearts deliver plenty of energy on Portraits, including one track so pop-punk, I almost feel the need to cover one eye with stick-straight hair and wear a studded belt backwards all over again. “A Part of My Past” talks about friends that are always there, a town our narrator has to get out of, and a love that’s on the brink of ending badly; it’s pop-punk heaven…But where’s the pizza? Jokes aside, the back-and-forth vocals between Tyler Hamilton (vox, guitar) and Jeff Gustus (lead guitar, vox), alongside the harmonics, that really round out the song, and show a hint of the experimentation that we see on the bass-heavy “Save Yourself.” The track is reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold almost, with a heavier, more haunting sound, showcasing the band’s almost chameleon transition into another facet of their sound. Hamilton also has a shining moment, where he showcases his wonderful ability to convey emotion with every line. He has a real talent for it, and it makes “Save Yourself” all the more notable. Ben Ayer (bass) and Isaac Hiller (drums) seem to have fine-tuned their team effort about bringing the rhythm to almost pulse-like quality; there really is something to be said for subtlety.

The EP’s two “softer” tracks, “Follow You” and “Stay,” are stunning, melodic, building additions to the collection. I could play those two on repeat all day. “Follow You” is filled with beautiful acoustics and a raw quality that adds to the quality of the EP. It really is a highlight of the release, with vocal harmonies, an amazing guitar solo that will leave your jaw a little slack, and an overall strong presence to it. The latter is a piano-driven song, with an almost magical quality to it, perfectly contrasting with the heavier sound of electric guitars. It’s the kind of song that would leave you breathless during a live performance, and acts as the ideal finisher for Portrait.

Overall, Paper Hearts have produced an incredible debut EP with Portrait. It showcases their talent, versatility, and is a great glimpse of what we can expect from them throughout their career. And so far? We see a breakout act in the making.

Portrait EP is out now! Click HERE to purchase a copy.

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REVIEW: Marianas Trench – ‘Astoria’

marianas trench astoria

Marianas Trench are finally back with a new album: AstoriaIt has been well-worth the wait, I assure you. There is nothing rushed or sloppy about this album, which drops on October 23rd. The album plays out like a coming-of-age film, much as the band aspires, especially considering its multitude of Goonies references, and the strong 80’s presence that adds to the enjoyment of every track.

Each transition track could have been a part of a film score, or even deemed as the overture in a larger-than-life stage show.

“Astoria” kicks things off with a massive, cinematic introduction, and then the piano comes in, rounding out the already magical instrumentals. Josh Ramsay’s vocals come sweeping in beautifully, adding to the overall melodic tone. There’s a depth to this track that rings out like a banner to listeners, an anthem of sorts, and has an operatic feel as some points (one point actually reminds me of Queen). This song is revenge, lust, adolescence, and everything in between. For those of us that grew up on 80’s music still being played all the time, this track is perfection, going through multiple emotions, and finishing off with a sweet moment on the piano that feels like the red velvet curtain being lifted onto the most amazing stage show. 7 minutes isn’t long enough!

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REVIEW: Michael Jayson – ‘Running The Spectrum’ EP

michael jayson albumRunning The Spectrum kicks off with the catchy, piano-driven single, “Through Your Eyes.” The song is full of rich instrumentals with cinematic quality, and some stellar bass. With wonderful lyrics and an upbeat tone, this song is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, featuring an infectious optimism that provides a whisper of encouragement. Michael Jayson provides an ideal introduction to his sound. However, that’s not to say the singer/songwriter doesn’t show versatility, with tracks filled with more attitude, such as “Same As Me,” with an edgier undertone, almost reminiscent of a punk track. Then the folk presence comes out full gear. Instrumentally, it’s not got the same excitement or intricacy of its predecessor, but there is an honesty in the commentary of a modern relationship; knowing what’s too fast or too slow or how you’re “supposed” to feel, as well as just a plea to give a relationship a try. There’s something very late 90s-early 2000s about the track (think Tal Bachman).

“A Letter” features an entrancing guitar introduction; it’s a soft track with rhythm that comes in perfectly. The song is rich in quality, and the storytelling talents of Michael Jayson are more than evident on this track, with the idea of seeing how someone you once knew turning out how you’d imagined them, and feeling happy for them even if you’ll never see each other again. It could almost be the other side of the story on “Better Days.”  The former is pessimistic about a relationship that’s reached its end, but optimistic about leaving being for the best, developing an interesting contrast. “Better days are not coming ahead,” the song seems to say, like a plea not to waste time waiting for better days that may never come. It is a bold statement on the EP, but Michael Jayson takes it one step further…

Hands down one of the best tracks on Running The Spectrum, “What’s His Name” is edgier, bolder, and showcases an almost bitter side to Jayson, whose storytelling talents manage to get pushed the extra mile. Seemingly without trying, the song sets the scene both lyrically and instrumentally; I almost automatically picture a summer night with tension that you could cut with a knife. There is a sad theme of giving your all to someone who started out great, but is not backing away. “What’s his name” doesn’t really appear to be so much a question as a case of, “What’s his name walked out last night…” It’s almost like telling someone to forget the person, or saying that you’re living with a stranger.

“Second Thoughts” finishes Running The Spectrum off by coming back to the softness that seemed to start the album off, and, coincidentally, bringing the EP full circle. Again, the track features rich instrumentals; it’s a song about coming home, even if only in your mind. It is beautiful in its own right, and really makes the EP sound more like a success from start to finish.

As an introduction, I find Running The Spectrum to be a wonderful declarative statement of who Michael Jayson is as an artist. The more I listen, the more I find myself excited by the prospect of where he will end up on the spectrum himself (pun not intended).

For more on Michael Jayson or to pre-order Running The Spectrum, click HERE.

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REVIEW: DIVIDES – ‘Brokentooth’

Brokentooth Album Art

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce to you, THE NEXT BIG THING.

DIVIDES are poised for success with their new album, Brokentooth, a stunning display of instrumental versatility, vocal strength, and lyrical prowess. After just one listen, it’s hard not to be completely mesmerized.

“Holes In The Floor” kicks the album off with a perfect introduction, like tuning a radio to find a great, all-DIVIDES station, before booming to life with stellar vocals from CJ Marie (vox/keys), perfectly melding with solid instrumentals. The track effortlessly transitions into “Supersymmetry,” a ballad of sorts, featuring a bridge that showcases back and forth between CJ Marie and Joe Jackson (vox/bass). This is the first taste of the stunning harmonics, and the vocal chemistry between the two singers that make the album as infectious as it is.

We hear the pairing of CJ Marie and Defeat The Low’s Chris James on “Echoes Fade,” eliciting a nostalgic vibe reminiscent of early 2000’s rock hits, when the female-male vocal face-off was more of a guarantee than a surprise. There’s a raw, almost tangible emotion that DIVIDES seem to illustrate with such ease throughout Brokentooth; a rare gift in today’s scene. In fact, a highlight on the album has to be “Sails and Anchor,” where the band’s storytelling chops are on display, as well as their softer, more poetic side, breathing life into the idea of needing someone to ground us before we race away. The track is easily one of the strongest performances on the album, with true desperation heard in every note, although it has some competition with the heart wrenching, homesick emotion displayed on “Alpenglow.” The former is a short, but poignant track, with lines like, “And here there’s no snow, no star on the mountain to guide me, me home…,” and is an honest performance, if I’ve ever heard one.

However, DIVIDES shows no hesitance in also showing off their theatrics, on tracks such as “Siren,” which may start off slower, but brings the energy back full-force, becoming more hardcore in sound, and exploring a darker facet to the band’s personality in an aggressive, bold, and memorable way. The breakdowns are intense, and the lyrics are bitter, but so precise, it’s powerful (much like “Splay,” and “Brokentooth”), and Corey Rainey on drums adds an extra dimension to the festival-worthy sound.

The final two tracks, “Vines & Thorns” and “We Are Fragments,” seem to beautifully come together to form a steady climax and resolve to the album. “Vines & Thorns” brings Brokentooth to a moment of suspense as it fades out, leading into the synth-driven introduction of “We Are Fragments” without missing a beat. The guitar, courtesy of Bryan Calhoon and Paul Anderson, is fantastically done, and brings the album to an end that makes it feel as though it could be played on a loop and still flow perfectly.

With a strong, original sound, other band will face a struggle in attempting to beat DIVIDES’ Brokentooth for quality.

Brokentooth comes out on August 11th!

For more on DIVIDES, please click HERE. To purchase CDs or buy concert tickets, click HERE.

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REVIEW: Treason This – ‘Always Perfect’ EP

treason this

If you’re looking for a near-perfect EP to add to your playlist this summer, Always Perfect, the latest from Treason This, may very well be it. with stunning acoustics that pay homage to the band’s acoustic duo origins, (“Suede (88.87)”) the release is an excellent of example of what an EP should be. “A Farewell Not One-Sided” is a quick song that kicks off the EP with an indie-esque acoustic introduction, well thought lyrics, and an energetic pick-up. The more I listen to lyrics like, “…repeating it back again to pass the test already conquered by all the kid in me that I had left,” the more I believe this to be an excellent narrative on growing up.

The bitter moments of the EP perfectly summarize the struggles of relationships, but do so with such energy, that they manage to make me happier, as opposed to sitting in my room, wishing ice-cream had zero calories. “I Hate You Please Die” -features strong, powerful, and playful vocals. “Moviegoers Dilemma” features fantastic instrumentals, bitter lyrics, movie references, fast-paced lyrics that make it impossible to resist. On these two tracks, the wit and snarky tone is done with originality, and acts as a wonderful reflection of what it means to get older and struggle in relationships. However, that’s not to say Treason This shies away from a more emotional, heart-wrenching side. “Knife of The Month” is an open letter disguised as an interlude and showcases just how well the band tells a story and can leave you completely entranced.

Out of all of the songs on the EP, “The Dangers In Shades and Lines,” is probably the best. It’s moody in tone, with a poetic lyrical approach, perfectly encompassing desperation, the struggle of growing up, and dealing with life. As the song picks up, lines like,  “It’s hard to keep a grip on something that’s kicking you for trying to stand,” seem to have more weight, shouldering an evident rawness, seen on the more melancholy tracks like “A Disgrace To The Dead,” which acts almost as a sequel/continuation to “Suede,” cutting straight to the bone, with a live-feel. As the track picks up, I can almost feel the amplifiers shake, and the crowd watch in awe, especially once the guitar solo comes in, bringing the song to a whole new level. Again, I’m absolutely floored by the strength behind the vocals and the pure cohesive sound. The band has an incredible, solid dynamic that is evident in every track. Five out of five for Always Perfect.

“Always Perfect” will be available on June 30th!  You can pre-order it today – http://treasonthis.com/album/always-p…

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