Friday, June 28, 2013

Five Song Friday - June 28th

This week has been a big week in terms of new music for me. I ended up buying a lot of songs, and have been spending a lot of time checking them all out. So here's some of my favorites from this week. Also, this has to be one of my most diverse weeks.

  1. You Like You Love - The Relay Company
    I believe I discovered these guys through Twitter, and I have been in love ever since. They aren't very well known, (which is a shame, because they have talent), but they make superb music time after time. Their latest single, this song, is available for FREE here, so go listen and download and be happy. This song is absolutely heartwarming; it's cute. It's incredible simple, consisting of just vocals and guitar, but these guys shine acoustically. I saw them perform live and acoustic, and it was almost better than the original songs. They are awesome guys as well. But anyways, the song. It's a romantic song, a perfect summer night song for lovers laying and talking under the stars. It's simply about a boy and a girl in love, but I never get tired of that story. It has a lot of lines that'll make you smile, so just go listen already. 5/5
  2. Byebyelove - Jimmy Eat World
    Jimmy Eat World. Need I say more? The band is back with another album, titled Damage, which I finally got around to listening to and buying immediately after. It's an extremely well done album with many stand outs, this song in particular being one. It combines both their more edgy side and their mellow-acoustic nature. The contrast (I know, here we go again with that contrast stuff) is spectacular, from a quiet verse of muted guitar, low drums, and vocals to gritty electric guitars and crashing drums. It has a melancholy tone to it, but all the best songs are the sad songs. The whole album is great, but if you're only going to download one song, make it this one. They do not fail to disappoint. 5/5 
  3. Four Simple Words - Frank Turner
    Frank Turner is a fantastic musician. I continue to be drawn in and addicted to his songs. He writes lyrics that both provoke and relax. His music can go from calming and laid back to upbeat and fist pumping. This song happens to follow along with the latter, although the intro would lull you into a false sense of calm. The switch happens like a snap, and makes you want to get up and jump around and just go crazy. It's an absolute blast of a song, but also has some interesting lyrics in the verses, where he talks about the current music scene, and how he wants a revival of bands to rule the airways. Just go listen. It's simply awesome. 5/5
  4. Send It Up - Kanye West
    Now, before any judgement is made, I will say that I think Kanye has some fantastic beats and sounds. He always incorporates ideas that aren't really prevalent in the scene, and innovates a lot. With that being said, I still think he has the biggest ego in the world, and that comes out a lot in his lyrics. But overall, this is my favorite song from his new album. It uses some of the coolest synths I've heard in a rap song in a while, and I love the edgy nature the song gives off. Kanye may think he's all that, but truthfully, he does have some talent. 5/5
  5. Alive In The Lights - Memphis May Fire
    I have been listening to these guys more and more, and this was another song I discovered that is fantastic. They have furious guitars and drums, with brutal screams and soaring vocals over them. It never fails to impress. I particularly like this song, because of the lyrical ideas. From what I can tell, this song is about how the members of the band love what they do, and are sending a message to someone who wanted them to change and do something else with their lives. I really like the way they presented it; not in a disrespectful manner, but instead just laying out how they feel. It's a great song. Go get it. 5/5

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five Song Friday - June 21st

A new week, and new music. Check out the tunes I've been listening to this week, and see if you enjoy them!

  1. Eyes Closed - 3OH!3
    I have been listening to this song constantly since 3OH!3 dropped their latest album, Omens, this week. This song is huge, it's intense, and it's classic 3OH!3. It has some great bass, and gritty synths and I just cannot get enough of it. It's addictive. I also like the vocals and the effects they put on them; it fits the vibe of the song well. It really is a fantastic song; it's my favorite off the album by far. Go buy it! 5/5
  2. Ode To Sleep - Twenty One Pilots
    I've been listening to these guys more and more since I found out they're opening for the Fall Out Boy/Panic! At The Disco show I'm seeing in September. I really enjoy their music, both the lyrics and the instrumentals. They have a unique sound, tending to combine things you wouldn't normally expect and incorporating ideas that aren't heard often. This song in particular switches back and forth from a darker, more electronically led A-section to an upbeat, alternative rock B-section. The contrast is remarkable, and surprised me greatly the first time I listened. These guys have some great potential, and I am excited to see what they do in the future. 5/5
  3. Run - The Maine
    This is another song from The Maine's new album, Forever Halloween, that I love. It's one of the more upbeat tracks on the CD, and it has fun vibe to it, despite some of the darker lyrics. It's always interesting to note how artists can talk about something that should be sad or depressing, but if they put it over happy tunes and upbeat rock, then it becomes a party song or a radio hit. This song would fall in that category  but that doesn't make it a bad song by any means. It is a rock song through and through, with some distorted guitars and driving drums leading the song as John's vocals soar over the track. Definitely worth checking out. 5/5
  4. Starting Over (feat. Ben Bridwell) - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
    I have been listening to this song nonstop since I discovered it. I've had it for a few months now, but I never really gave it a listen until recently. It is emotional, and extremely powerful and revealing. Macklemore delves into his relapse into drinking, and how he's not perfect; he's a real human being, just like the rest of us. He has his flaws, and his vices, but he will get up and try again. He'll start over, as the song says and is titled. It's a raw song; Macklemore doesn't try to sugar coat it or make excuses, and I have so much respect for him because of that. He has an amazing career ahead of him, and I cannot wait to see how much farther he goes. 5/5
  5. Peggy Sang The Blues - Frank Turner
    This song has a good time feel to it, as do most of Frank Turner's songs. It's great for summer nights, with it's laid back attitude and simple instrumentation. He uses normal instruments and creates great vibes with even better lyrics. My favorite line has to be from the chorus, "no one gets remembered for the things they didn't do", which is incredibly true, and a good motto to adopt. If you like British things, than Frank Turner is your man. 5/5

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Omens - 3OH!3

This album is long overdue.

Originally set for a release in December of 2012, Omens was pushed back until June, for reasons unknown. The singles leading up to the album showed promise, from dark party wobble-infused "Do or Die" to alternative-pop anthem "Youngblood". Needless to say, I was anticipating the albums release greatly. When the album was released, I found it on iTunes, hit the download button, plugged in my headphones, and proceeded to sit and listen my way through the Deluxe edition of 3OH!3's latest record.

Something I had noticed was that, before purchasing the album, I listened to the demos on iTunes and despite how many times I've been wrong, I made judgements of songs based on those previews. On my first listen through, I noticed certain songs, that I had originally labeled as not that great, were actually quite good, to my surprise. Some examples of this are songs like "Black Hole" and "Make It Easy". "Black Hole" is an interesting take on singing about a girl who draws you in, layered with big and gritty synths and various sounds that bring to mind 80's aliens movies, while "Make It Easy" is a pop anthem through and through, more lighter in tone and sound, and ready to make a crowd jump up and down with it's upbeat nature and bright synths. Another track that is like this is "You're Gonna Love This", which brings to mind LMFAO with the heavy dance influence of high synth lines and pulsing beats.

Even though there is a tendency for the songs to lean towards having a dance influence, (thankfully) not all of the songs are bright and clean sounding. Songs like "Do or Die", "Hungover", and "Eyes Closed" give off darker and grittier tones than some of the other songs on the record. All three of these songs include wobbles of some sort (I would say dubstep, but some people are picky and get offended by that, so I'll refrain). Some people would say that this means that 3OH!3 is selling out and going mainstream by just following trends, but it's not like the guys in the group have ever tried to be indie or hipster; they make songs for the radio and that follow the current trends. I like that they embrace the current popular sounds, but they still make it sound like 3OH!3. "Hungover" is somewhat pop sounding, but I think it has a heavier tone due to the drums in the verses and the Skrillex sounding chorus of pulsing and wobbles and dancey stuff (I know, I'm very sophisticated sounding). "Eyes Open", which is possibly my favorite song off the album, is the heaviest and grittiest song on the record. It has fantastic contrasts, from the almost empty chorus into the breakdown/verse sections, which sounds huge and dark. I love their choice of synths, and the slight effects they put on their vocals. It is reminiscent of the days of Want, especially since they yell most of the raps, which is what they used to do. It sounds hard, and is extremely refreshing next to all the pop anthems. Also, I was impressed, as always, with their intro song, titled "Omens". They have a knack for making solid intros for their albums, and this one was no exception, with a great use of strings to help the big sound.

Now, besides the bright anthems and darker wobbles (I like using that word in this review), there wasn't really any slower, more mellow songs, which I was hoping for. The closest we get is "Back To Life", which is a sad song about the party being dead and bringing it back (it sounds stupid, but the song is great, I promise) and "I've Become", one of the bonus tracks and a surprisingly well done self-reflective song. Both have explosive chorus' driven by big synths, but the verses are where the feeling and realism come out, especially in "I've Become", which sounds bitter and a bit disparing. It is easily one of my favorites off the album though, because it feels much more like a work of art than some of the tracks. Granted, I like the album and enjoy most of the songs, but there are some that just didn't work for me. Songs like "Two Girlfriends", "Live For The Weekend", "Go F*** Yourself", and bonus track "New Girl" just didn't rub me the right way, for various reasons. "Two Girlfriends" has a poor choice in lyrical content, and the instrumental doesn't impress me or catch my attention. "Live For The Weekend" seems like an immature song about (surprise) partying, drinking, and girls that could have been written by high schoolers. "Go F*** Yourself" sounds like an attempt to rip off Cee Lo Green's "F*** You", and also seems immature. "New Girl" is boring lyrically, and sounds like it was pulled out of the 80's.

Now, that may sound harsh, but it is just my thoughts. You can take them or leave them. Overall, however, I enjoyed most of the songs on the album, and even though it wasn't their best, it was another solid effort from the boys of 3OH!3. 3.5/5

Omens - 1:37 (5/5)
Eyes Closed - 4:40 (5/5)
You're Gonna Love This - 3:32 (4/5)
Black Hole - 3:28 (4/5)
Make It Easy - 3:58 (4/5)
Youngblood - 3:24 (5/5)
Live For The Weekend - 3:53 (3/5)
Back To Life - 3:46 (5/5)
Hungover - 4:07 (5/5)
Two Girlfriends - 2:56 (3/5)
Do or Die - 3:59 (5/5)
Slow Motion (Bonus Track) - 3:47 (4/5)
Go F*** Yourself (Bonus Track) - 3:06 (3/5)
New Girl (Bonus Track) - 3:22 (3/5)
I've Become (Bonus Track) - 3:12 (5/5)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five Song Friday - June 14th

The weeks keep rolling by and I just keep on finding more and more music to listen to constantly. Check out this week's picks and see what you like!

  1. Whole Lotta You - A Rocket To The Moon
    Seeing these guys in concert was a blast; they put on a great show. This song in particular was one of my favorites from their set, with the upbeat nature and groovin' happiness. It's insanely catchy, and gets stuck in my head constantly. I love the different elements incorperated, from the acoustic guitar to the pipe organ, and how they create a southern, relaxing vibe. I also really enjoy the end, when it fades to just vocals, and the energy backs off, making for some nice contrast in the end. If you like The Maine, Boys Like Girls, or Go Radio, than this song is for you. 5/5
  2. Deadly Weapon - This Century
    When I went to the show that these guys played, I didn't imagine I'd be able to meet their lead singer, Joel, and get an autographed CD & poster. When I got home and every since the concert, I've been playing their album over and over, and loving every second of it. This song caught my interest, and I can't get it out of my head. It has an almost melancholy sound to it, created by combining electronic piano lines with a gritty guitar line and soaring vocals on the chorus. The overall vibe of the song just hooked me, and there really aren't words to explain why. This happens to me fairly often, and I get addicted to songs for a while. I recommend this to fans of Maroon 5, The Cab, or The Ready Set. 5/5
  3. These Four Words - The Maine
    The Maine played this song when I had the privilage of seeing them live last week, and after hearing it live I knew I loved it. The emotion and meaning behind the words is 100% real, which makes you appreciate the song more. It's a mellow song for The Maine, but I think it's a fantastic contrast to the rock and alternative sounds created on the rest of their latest album, Forever Halloween. The simplicity of the piano and the vocals bring to mind a dark bar, with some guy playing the piano in the corner and a man drowning himself in alcohol, singing the words for no one to really hear. Go buy it! 5/5
  4. Bright Lights - 30 Seconds To Mars
    30 Seconds To Mars' new album, Love Lust Faith + Dreams, hasn't been out for a month yet, and I keep coming back to it again and again. This song specifically has stuck out for it's 80's feel and huge sound. The synths, both in the background and out front, the pulsing drums, the echoing clean guitar, and the hushed vocals that erupt into shouts on the chorus all come together to create one of my favorite songs by the band, and possibly one of my favorites ever. It's not a fist pumping, jumping up and down tune, but it truly is beautiful. It is hopefully; not even in the lyrics, but just in the sound of the song itself. The boys of this group did not disappoint me with this album, and with this song, and I am very grateful for them doing what they do. 5/5
  5. Tracing Back Roots - We Came As Romans
    I'll be honest, after listening to the preview for this song on iTunes, I almost didn't buy it. It just didn't attract my attention. However, I found the music video for it from the band, and gave it another shot. Well, I was wrong to judge the song by what little part I had heard. The first 2 minutes or so are fairly heavy, reminiscent of the sound of their first full album, To Plant A Seed, and consists of just screaming as far as vocals go. The first half isn't bad, by any means; it's actually really well done. The real star of the song is when the clean vocalist, Kyle, comes in and takes over. The whole song slows down from roaring guitars and pounding drums to clean guitar riffs and building synths. And the lyrics, the lyrics are so fantastic. They make me happy every time I listen, and I really can't tell you why. Kyle sings about, (I think, this is my guess) the effect the band has had on the people who listen, and how the band will always live in the hearts of its fans, who they have helped through struggles again and again. That's what music is about. Reaching out to the broken and weary, and giving them something to hold onto. 5/5

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Maine/A Rocket To The Moon/This Century/Brighten - The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco 6/8/13

After a transportation delay and making our way through several blocks of San Francisco, my friend Ted and I found ourselves outside The Great American Music Hall, in line to pick up our tickets and go inside for a great show. Once we arrived, we realized that as two 19 year old guys, we were not the norm in terms of attendees for the show. We actually felt old, which was not what I expected. The majority was young teenage girls who were very vocal throughout the coarse of the show. Not to say that that's bad, but it wasn't quite what I expected. Anyways, when we got inside, we were pleasantly surprised by a number of things. The size of the crowd was fairly small, smaller than I anticipated, and the atmosphere of the venue was fantastic. It was an older place, with architecture and decorations like that of The Warfield, another great venue in the City by The Bay. The other surprising element was the food; both Ted and myself were famished, and we discovered their decently sized menu, ordered, and were immensely impressed by the quality.

Enough about that though. Let's get to the main point (see what I did there?).

The show.

It kicked off with Brighten, a 3-piece Pop-Rock band out of Chico, California. They had some good music, but came off as a little awkward in-between songs. They also didn't seem quite on top of things, but that was slightly understandable since they said that this was their first tour in two years, and they were still getting used to things. They did perform well, however, with a short set of 5 songs, mixing some from their latest release, Peace and Quiet, to songs they wrote in 2009 and earlier. It was an enjoyable opening group.

The next band to hit the stage was This Century, another Pop-Rock band, but out of Phoenix, Arizona. The minute they got up, the band knew exactly what to do and was a very tight knit group. They were comfortable with each other and in sync, and got the crowd going quickly. They opened with a crowd favorite, "Hopeful Romantic", and moved through a very upbeat and energetic set. I enjoyed all the songs they played, seeing that they were one of the bands I came to see, and sang along to all the words I knew. Two things I noted that were cool about their time on stage is that they had their keyboardist, Alex Silverman, played all the bass guitar parts on the keyboard, creating a cool blend of real instruments and electronic elements. Also, the bass rumbled the place, so that's always a plus. The other thing I noticed was the mic stand that their lead singer, Joel Kanitz, used on stage. It was clear and lit up on the inside, and changed colors to match the current lighting set up for the main stage. It was awesome to say the least, and definitely looked like a lightsaber from time to time. One of my favorite parts of seeing This Century live was how they added little tweaks and such to their songs. They kept them all mostly the same, but added some extended instrumentals or added crowd vocal parts to keep things fresh. It made the experience unique, and more memorable in my opinion. One of the best parts of the night, however, was when I headed downstairs after their set to check out their merchandise. I bought a hard copy of their new album, Biography of Heartbreak, (which you can find my review of here), and not only got a free poster thrown in, but was able to get both signed by their lead singer, Joel. He was really cool and down to earth, and shook my hand and took a picture with me. I really love meeting the artists I love and telling them that they're doing a fantastic job. It was easily a highlight of the night.

A Rocket To The Moon was the third band of the night, coming out and getting started loud and energetic. The energy of their set was the most notable part, because they kept it up and constant. You could tell that they were experienced, and just having a good time on stage. They kept more towards alternative-rock side, but definitely had some pop here and there. The entire time with them felt a little bittersweet, however, because they mentioned that this tour would be their last tour ever; the band was finished after. And while it's understandable that sometimes you have to move on from bands, it is sad to see a band in it's prime end things. They put on a killer last hurrah, though, and the crowd loved them, shouting the words back almost louder than the band. One of the highlights was when they were transitioning out of one of their hits, "Baby Blue Eyes", and they managed to fit a short cover of Taylor Swift's "22" in on the end. It was ironic because in interviews past, A Rocket To The Moon has called themselves the male Taylor Swift. Overall, the boys put on a great show, and it was a fine last effort.

Now, the best part of the night; The Maine. I've been listening to these boys since I was in 8th grade, so for about 5 years now I've been rocking out to their tunes. I have loved them from then until now, through their sound change and maturing and all. I even got to see them in 2009 when they were touring with Boys Like Girls and Cobra Starship, which was a killer show as well. I have used their songs for breakups, for good times, and for all the things in-between  So to say I was excited for them to come on stage was an understatement. Their entire set was stellar, from the song choice to the energy to the love for the fans. They played hits from all through their catalogue, with a lot of my favorites by them. They let the fans sing a lot of parts, which I thought was cool and a really neat way to include the audience. The best part of their set was most definitely when their lead singer, John O'Callaghan, decided that it'd be a good idea to climb up from the stage and serenade the people on the balcony. Being up on the balcony, I rapidly made my way to where he was to take pictures (and fangirl just a tiny bit). It was one of the coolest things I've seen a band do, and the crowd absolutely loved it. Later on in the show, John also climbed down onto the floor and sang surrounded by dozens of love-struck fan girls. But besides his antics, the show really was well done. The only complaint I had was not about the band itself, but the sound crew, who had to stop in-between a few songs and fix a few things. They also never had John's vocals up nearly enough, which made it hard to hear him sometimes over the crowd and instruments. Aside from those issues, however, the band was fantastic. They got the crowd going, they got into the music, they jumped, they just had fun with it. And they were very thankful to the fans, even acknowledging that without the fans, they wouldn't be able to do what they do. It was cool to hear a band acknowledge that, because it is the truth. I also liked how John took a moment near the end to get serious and tell the kids to make the most out of their lives. Besides his overuse of "the f-word", it was a really great way to end the show.

This show was one of the best shows I've ever been to, and a complete steal at $25 a ticket. The bands were great, the venue was great, and it all came together for a fantastic time.

Here's the setlists for each band. (Note, I may have messed up some of the songs, and I missed one of Brighten's songs, so my apologies. If you went and have corrections, let me know!) Also, any song with a * next to it indicates I've linked it to the video I took at the concert.

I'll Be There
Little Locket

This Century:
Hopeful Romantic
Tip Toe
To Love and Back
Everywhere Everything
Bleach Blonde
Slow Dance Night
Sound Of Fire

A Rocket To The Moon:
Call It Home
Wild & Free
Whole Lotta You*
Baby Blue Eyes/22 Cover
If I'm Gonna Fall In Love
Give A Damn
Nothing At All
Like We Used To
Mr Right

The Maine:
Love & Drugs
Inside Of You
We All Roll Along
Into Your Arms
Right Girl
Some Days
Kennedy Curse
My Heroine
These Four Words*
Whoever She Is
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Count Em 1, 2, 3
Like We Did (Windows Down)
We'll All Be

Friday, June 7, 2013

Five Song Friday - June 7th

Friday is here! And that means it's time for another installment of my Five Song Friday series. This week is somewhat of a takeover by The Maine, since they dropped their new album, Forever Hallowen, and since I will be seeing them in concert tomorrow! Expect a review of the concert with links to pictures and videos sometime next week. Check out the tunes I've been rocking, and see if you like them!

  1. Future - Paramore
    This album has been out for close to two months now, and I am still in love with it. This song especially has been one of my favorites, for it's unlike anything Paramore has done before. It's fairly long, for one, but contains some fantastic contrast. The difference between the first 3 minutes and the rest of the song is astounding, and it keeps me coming back for listen after listen. I know this would be an epic song to hear performed live, just because of the energy and huge sound they accomplished. If you like Anberlin, There For Tomorrow, or Tonight Alive, then you'll love this track. 5/5                                                                                                                                     
  2. The Boys of Summer - Don Henley
    Now this song is the odd one out of the group this week, but I have been listening to it constantly. I was on a bit of an 80's kick last weekend, and this song was one that really caught my attention. It's super catchy, 100% 80's sounding, and a great summer song, (I know, who would have thought?). It makes you bob your head along, and puts a smile on your face, which is always a great thing for a song to do. I'm sure this song might bring back some memories for you readers who grew up in this era, so enjoy reminiscing  and if you haven't heard it before, then go listen! 5/5
  3. In My Remains - Linkin Park
    I have been playing this song and the rest of it's album, Living Things, since it's release almost a year ago. The whole album is absolutely fantastic, but this song in particular is one of my favorites. It has the essence of Linkin Park's sound, and is full of great rock guitars and driving drums. The vocals, however, is the best part; especially during the bridge, where Mike Shinoda leads the build up by chanting "Like an army, falling, one by one by one". Despite what some people say about the band, I think they have put out some killer CD's throughout the years, and this may be their best one yet. Check it out! 5/5
  4. Blood Red - The Maine
    This song starts in a somewhat creepy manner, which shouldn't be terribly surprising since the album name is Forever Halloween. Once the instruments kick in, then it becomes a dark, almost off-putting rock tune. The chorus brightens up slightly, but overall the song strays towards a more gritty feel. I really enjoy it though, because it's not dark in the sense of being depressing, but almost feeling real and mature. That was an overlying theme through the album, which I think was helped by the band only using real instruments to record the album. The chorus is my favorite part, with the change in feel and increase in intensity. A solid track from their new record. 5/5
  5. Kennedy Curse - The Maine
    Another darker song from the new album, "Kennedy Curse" begins with a guitar line and John O'Callaghan's voice, setting the mood as more melancholy than "Blood Red". Where the emotion really comes out though, is in the chorus, where O'Callaghan yells out for someone to come take his heart and tear it apart. This is the song of a heartbroken man, which is something that they've always written songs about. However, this is a much more mature look and sound for a heartbreak song, and that is what I really love about it. 5/5