Friday, August 30, 2013

Five Song Friday - August 30th

Another week, and lots of music has found its way to my ears. Check out the tunes I've been rocking this week, and see what you like!

  1. Demons - Sleigh Bells
    I finally bought this album, Reign of Terror, and so have been blasting it in my car, as Sleigh Bells' music should be. This song in particular is on of my favorites so far, with its explosive sound and hard hitting nature. The use of an electric guitar was much more prominent of this album then on their first album, Treats. It gives it much more of an 80's feel, but at the same time completely strays from the 80's. It's modern, it's in your face, it's gritty, and it's awesome. It's one of the stand out from the album, and I highly recommend checking it out. 5/5
  2. Bezerk - Eminem
    He's back, and with a fury. Leaving Recovery behind, Emimen taps into the 80's with drum tracks and guitars that bring the Beastie Boys to mind. He's back to his early style of rapping, spitting out his words almost too fast to be comprehensible, yet showing his utter control and incredible talent for putting together rhymes. The chorus is the best part, with the drums pounding away and the crunching guitar reverberating in your ears. There is no doubt that his new album will be a hit, and this song makes me excited for the potential the record holds. 4/5
  3. Meant To Be - Parachute
    After reviewing this album earlier this week, (you can view the review here) I came to love many of the songs on Parachute's latest album, Overnight, but this song was easily one of the stand outs. It's upbeat nature, smooth guitar lines, and steady beat came together with Will Anderson's vocals, (which are usually the highlight of their songs) to create their well tightened pop-rock sound. 5/5
  4. Earth 2077 - M83
    I recently watched the move "Oblivion" this week, which is where this song is from, and it has to be one of my all time favorite soundtracks, as well as one of the best movies I've seen in a while. The soundtrack is similar to the "Tron Legacy" soundtrack in terms of the incorperation of electronic elements and a wide variety of sounds between songs. I could talk about the whole album, but decided to pick this song for this week. It starts off quiet, but quickly builds into something quite fantastic. What starts with some strings and horns quickly erupts into a moving, racing tune; for me, the image that comes to mind when I listen is watching the sun rise over majestic scenery. The electronic elements slowly fade in as the song continues, giving the piece a futuristic feel, which is probably my favorite part. If you enjoyed "Tron Legacy" and its soundtrack, then I highly recommend "Oblivion" and its soundtrack. 5/5
  5. Tell Me Now - We Came As Romans
    This was another song I discovered this week from reviewing We Came As Romans' new album, Tracing Back Roots, (which can be seen here). I think this song was a stand out, for me, because of its three dimensional sound, thanks to thunderous guitar lines and pounding, blistering drums that back David and Kyle's always fantastic vocals. This song was a lot like the material from their previous album, Understanding What We've Grown To Be, which had lots of songs with vast sounds. "Tell Me Know" has that heavy element WCAR does so well, but also creates contrast on the verses by bringing it down with Kyle's voice. I can easily see this being a crowd favorite. 5/5

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Overnight - Parachute

I discovered Parachute thanks to a high school friend telling me about their song, "Under Control", which at the time was the free song of the week on iTunes. Ever since, I've followed their career and releases with great interest. Their sophomore album, The Way It Was was leaps and bounds beyond their debut, Losing Sleep, with hits like "Kiss Me Slowly", "What I Know", and "Something To Believe In", among others. Leading up to the release of their latest music endeavor, Overnight, I watched the singles release, and was somewhat weary. They were definitely gravitating towards a more pop/electronic influenced sound, which was hardly a surprise and not a bad thing, but I had grown to love their acoustic-rock sound immensely. I began to warm up to it, however, when they released the last single until the album dropped, which was the song "Hurricane"; a song containing the heart and soul that made their previous records so relatable and enjoyable, yet featuring a more polished pop sound, full of synths and drum tracks and less guitars. They have always sung of love, and they it quite well, which is why I'm glad they continued to use it as their lyrical content. "Hurricane" is a more melancholy song, with Will Anderson singing sweetly of trying to forget a loved one whom was lost while the rest of the band backs his emotional vocals with a powerful and moving instrumental. The piano lines are my favorite instrumental parts, really embodying the emotion of the song and driving it home.

After hearing "Hurricane", I became much more excited for the album. When it released, and since then, I've been listening to it a lot on Spotify, and finding more and more things I enjoy about with every listen. Even though their singles reflected a more pop-oriented sound, their original acoustic-rock sound is definitely present on the album. Songs like "Waiting For That Call", for example, is an upbeat song filled with driving drums, rocking guitars, and even some of the new synth sounds. This song is the type that makes you want to dance around in your room with your friends, or go cruising around town on a bright summer day. It's definitely a fun song, which is something Parachute does well. Other songs from the album that follow in this upbeat vein are songs like "Can't Help", "Meant to Be", and "Didn't See It Coming". "Can't Help" reveals their influences, paying tribute to the the early sound of Maroon 5 with lots of piano, low key guitar, and a sharp drum beat leading the song. The vocals are really where the song shines, with Anderson slipping in and out of his fantastic falsetto and belting out all the lyrics wonderfully. "Meant To Be" opens the album with a groovin' guitar and a solid beat that expands into the driving, polished pop chorus, which easily makes the song one of my favorites from the record. It's the kind of song that makes you smile when you hear it; it's infectious with its warm nature. I'm a sucker for love songs, which is another reason that I really enjoy this song. "Didn't See It Coming" has a different sound than Parachute's norm; on the verses, Anderson begins each one by simply speaking instead of singing. It's not a rap in any sense, just spoken word. It's unusual for them, but it works really well with this song. It creates contrast, which you all know that I very much enjoy, between the sharpness of the verses with the speaking, and the more flowing nature of the chorus with the singing vocals. It's another favorite from the album, for me personally.

Now, as much as I like Parachute when they're upbeat, I also love their ability to slow things down and get very intimate. Songs like "Disappear" capture their full talent, in my opinion. It's an absolutely gorgeous song, with a simple piano line and acoustic guitar strumming accompanying Anderson as he sings in softer tones, hushed tones. This song is a stand out for the album, a divergence from the synths and drums and electric guitars. "Disappear" is the only song that brings the level of energy down so much, but they still are able to create an intimate sound with more instruments. Songs like "The Only One", which is a drum heavy song that is still able to come of as sorrowful, thanks to the vocals and the rest of the instrumental. Another song that follows in this vein is "The Other Side", in which the band slows things down and strips down the layers of instruments to a simple guitar and drums that steadily drive the song on. Both of these songs are able to turn down the high energy level found in the rest of the album and continue Parachute's beautiful ability to be intimate.

Now, there's two more tracks I want to mention (and incidentally, the only two tracks left on the album). One is "Overnight", the title track of the record, is an upbeat, yet regretful song of being unable to move on from a love lost. This is why I wanted to mention it, for the subject of getting over someone is used often, but I think "Overnight" does a good job at being fresh with something very common. This is another drum driven song as, with fast paced drums crashing and leading the song on despite the mournful lyrics. The other song that I want to mention is the album closer, "Higher", which is another example of where Parachute deviated from their normal sound. It shines during the chorus, which takes on a heavier sound thanks to the crashing, breakdown like drums. I know that it's not exactly what you'd normally associate with a hardcore breakdown, but for a band like Parachute, it has the feel of a breakdown. The song gets even better thanks the the bridge, which introduces gang vocals, another favorite of mine, and continues into the chorus, creating a huge sound that fills the room and an epic way for the album to end.

Despite my first impressions, (which are usually wrong), I came to very much enjoy this album. It's a natural progression in Parachute's sound, and a solid and well done album from an incredibly talented group. 4.5/5

Meant To Be - 3:25 (5/5)
Can't Help - 3:24 (4/5)
Drive You Home - 3:50 (4/5)
Hurricane - 4:11 (5/5)
Overnight - 4:13 (5/5)
Didn't See It Coming - 3:33 (5/5)
The Other Side - 3:48 (4/5)
Waiting For That Call - 3:16 (4/5)
The Only One - 3:56 (4/5)
Disappear - 4:05 (5/5)
Higher - 3:33 (5/5)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tracing Back Roots - We Came As Romans

We Came As Romans was one of the first bands in the hardcore scene that I began listening to, and I loved their sound and style from the moment I heard them. Their vocal interplay, their breakdowns, and their infusion of electronic sounds had me hooked. I very much enjoyed their last album, Understanding What We've Grown To Be, and was excited when I heard about their latest record, Tracing Back Roots. I got the lead single, also named "Tracing Back Roots", when it released a couple months ago. On first listen, I wasn't as impressed, but once I hit the outro, the entire song became immensely better. The first part of the song consists of David Stephens screaming over the instrumental, which is constantly switching between a fast pace and a breakdown style. By itself, it's well done and sounds good, but it's the outro that really makes the song come to life. Kyle Pavone, the group's "clean" vocalist, comes in as the rest of the track fades out, and his lyrics and vocals help to turn the rest of the song into an uplifting anthem. It's one of my favorite moments of the album, and something that We Came As Romans seems to have gotten down quite well.

But as far the album as a whole, I enjoyed a few things specifically. One, the introduction of David Stephens on "clean" vocals, which I liked greatly and thought it served to further their diverse vocal sound. A prime example of this is on the track "Fade Away", which is one of my personal favorites from the album. His new vocals retain a gritty feel, but allow the song to stray away from the typical hardcore sound and fit more into the rock vein. This song also follows the anthem formula WCAR has perfected, with lyrics like "I won't fade away, like the ones before, I won't let you down". They never fail to inspire with their songs, taking a generalized genre and proving the critics wrong. Another song along these lines is "Never Let Me Go", which alternates between quieter verses and driving chorus where Kyle and David alternate crying out for someone to never let them go. It's a very heartfelt song, but also has a bite to it. The second thing I enjoyed about the album is how, for the most part, the songs tended to stick to a more typical song structure, meaning it goes from a verse to a chorus, verse to chorus, bridge to chorus. I'm all for being different and going outside the lines, but it also helps for being able to follow along and focus into the song when it has a noticeable pattern.

A stand out track from the album was the more mellow "I Survive", an electronic-beat led song that features heavy veteran Aaron Gillespie. His addition to the track not only make it an awesome song, but show how far WCAR have come in the last few years; the fact that they have a seasoned singer on one of their songs reveals their rise in the scene. The song itself is another anthem, inspiring visions of a crowd with fists raised and screaming back "I survive!".

Now, nothing can be perfect. There were a few things with the album that weren't bad, but that I had slight problems with. One was the depth of the sound; something I enjoyed immensely about their last album was the huge sound they created. The songs had a 3 dimensional sound to them, whereas on Tracing Back Roots, most of the songs feel more 2 dimensional. That's not a bad thing, and not saying that the songs were bad in any sense, but just a preference I had about the sound. The other thing that I noticed was that the songs weren't as heavy as their previous material. They definitely had plenty of screaming, breakdowns, and blistering drums backing roaring guitars, but it also strayed more towards a rock sound as well. That does not mean they had no heavy songs though; "Present, Future And Past" is a fantastic example of this, and is also one of my favorites from the album. I can see this being a crowd favorite, with lots of headbanging and jumping around. David leads the first part of the song, screaming his lungs out over furious guitars and pounding drums, which sounds fantastic. My favorite part is the bridge/outro, where Kyle kicks in on vocals to lead the song from a brief mellow section into something truly epic. The song ends how it started, with David howling over the intense instrumental. Another of the heavier tracks was the final song, "Through The Darkest Dark, and Brightest Bright", which has all the great makings of a WCAR song.

All in all, a very solid album from a group that is set to leave their mark on the world. This album shows their ability to continue to mature as a band, and the potential they contain. Looking forward to more from these fine gents! 4/5

Tracing Back Roots - 3:40 (5/5)
Fade Away - 3:46 (5/5)
I Survive - 4:09 (5/5)
Ghosts - 3:28 (4/5)
Present, Future, and Past - 3:28 (5/5)
Never Let Me Go - 3:38 (5/5)
Hope - 4:09 (5/5)
Tell Me Now - 3:16 (5/5)
A Moment - 3:50 (4/5)
I Am Free - 3:33(4/5)
Through the Darkest Dark and Brightest Bright - 3:45 (4/5)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five Song Friday - August 23rd

To start of this post, I'd like to apologize for not posting last week. It was a really busy time for me, with my family moving, and I didn't get the chance to write up a Five Song Friday. So, to make it up to you readers, I have decided to do a special Five Song Friday, which will actually consist of 10 songs. I know, so exciting. But really, I wanted to make up for last week, and figured this would be a good way to. Plus, I easily have 10 songs I can talk about, so it works for me.

  1. Bloody Poetry - Grieves
    Grieves is an artist I've been listening to lately, and I continue to find this I love about his work. His lyrics, his flow, his choice for instrumentals; they're all fantastic. He has a definite jazz influence, especially evident on this track, with the trumpet solo interludes, the brushed drums backing them, and the jazzy piano continually going in the background. He doesn't rap about stupid things either, his lyrics are smart, clever, and well delivered. He knows what he's doing, and his confidence comes off very well. I also like that he can sing as well, which is not a trait common among today's rappers. He is doing his own thing, and I very much respect him for it. 5/5
  2. Hopeless Wanderer - Mumford & Sons
    Now, I have to admit that I hadn't really heard this song until Mumford & Sons released the video for it, which is absolutely fantastic; I highly recommend watching it (there's a link here). It has the soul of their sound, with the soft piano intro leading into the explosive guitar, bringing in the rest of the band to make a great song. I personally love the vocals the most; I think Marcus Mumford's voice is one of the best currently out there. He has a rasp, yet can sing so smoothly. All in all, a great track. I highly recommend it. 5/5 
  3. PTL - Relient K
    When I first heard some of the songs off of Relient K's latest album, Collapsible Lung, I was sceptical about the gravitation towards a more pop sound. However, once I heard this song, I was immediately in love. It retains the alternative feel that Relient K mastered, yet seamlessly incorperates the new pop sound they're trying out. I especially love the guitar on the verses; something about the way the strings are being hit is so satisfying. I also love the contrast between the verses and the chorus, with the steady drum and muted guitar backing the verses, and the synth coming in along with a more roaring guitar on the chorus. If you're skeptical about the album like I was, then check out this track and see what you think after. 
  4. Lonely Girl - Tonight Alive
    Tonight Alive gets lots of Paramore comparisons, which I object to because that's just stupid. The fact that they have a female lead singer does not make them Paramore. If one listens to the music, you'll notice that Tonight Alive falls more into the punk-pop vein, whereas Paramore is an alternative-rock band with pop influences. Anyways, the song; it's the second single from TA's upcoming album, The Other Side, and based off of the sound from both songs, I'm fairly excited about the direction it appears to be taking. I'm sure there will be more light-hearted songs, but I think TA is at their best when they get gritty and grimy with their music. "Lonely Girl" is on the darker side, with some grungy guitars and driving drums. I particularly enjoy the brief moment after the bridge, where the song is going back into the chorus, and they change up the instrumental to where the guitars hit fast and the drums switch up. I don't know exactly how to describe why I like it so much, but it almost has swagger to it. It's a very cool moment, and I enjoy it, along with the rest of the song. I look forward to the rest of the album! 5/5
  5. Harlem - New Politics
    I discovered this indie-alternative jam thanks to an awesome radio station in San Diego. I've heard some of their previous work, but this song was infectious, and had me hooked. Lyrically, I have no clue what he's singing about, but I very much like the vibe of the song, and it's upbeat nature. Music doesn't always need to be so serious; as much as I like meaningful songs, it's good to let loose and have some fun. This song is short, it's flashy, and great for a drive around town with friends as you sing at the top of your lungs. Definitely a great buy. 4/5
  6. Legacy - Memphis May Fire
    I've been buying this album, Challenger, slowly and song by song, but every one is fantastic. They each tell a different story, and this track has one of my favorite messages. It's uplifting, and done flawlessly. The whole song speaks of believing in yourself and how important it is, despite all the opposition that will come along. However, the moment where the song comes across as incredibly powerful is when it all fades out, and the bridge slowly comes in. The lyrics alone are inspirational, but when screamed out and backed by an increasingly epic-sounding instrumental, it gives you chills. Matty Mullins is currently one of my favorite frontman, for his talent and versatility, which I think is showcased greatly on this song. Go check it out. 5/5
  7. Sweater Weather - The Neighbourhood
    I've known about this song for a while, but I finally bought it this past week, and I don't regret it at all; it's a great song. I love the laid back nature, Jesse Rutherford's vocals, and the gloomy, yet upbeat sound the song inspires. I know that probably sounds weird, but if you listen to the song, it'll make sense. I love the contrast between the hard-hitting drum beat and the flowing guitar lines and synths; it creates different textures that play with each other throughout the song. As usual, the bridge is one of my favorite parts, where the style of the song switches up and an acoustic guitar line takes lead of the song and leads into an alternative chorus. All in all, a great song. 5/5
  8. Crew Cuts (feat. Xperience) [Jake One Remix] - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
    I'm definitely a Macklemore fan by now, and continue to find songs that I absolutely love, like "Crew Cuts". It's a homage to all things 80's, and both of the rapper's experience growing up during that time. The beat and instrumental is not typical for Macklemore, which is why I think I like it. It's a slower tempo, and not so high energy. I really enjoy Xperience's part; he has some talent, and I intend to check out more of his stuff. Macklemore has an immense amount of talent and creativity, and I can't wait to see what he does in the future. 5/5
  9. This Is Gospel - Panic! At The Disco
    I've incredibly pumped for this album. Panic! is back, and back with a bang. Their new album, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, drops in October, but they've already released 2 singles, both of which reveal the direction and sound of the album. I have heard some interesting comments in terms of insperation for the album, which included artists such as A$AP Rocky. Not what I'd normally expect, but Panic! has never been the most normal of bands. Now, the song itself is fantastic. The intro, with the overlaying vocals, and the heartbeat drum, unfolds into a huge sound, filled with electric guitars and banging beats. The vocals and lyrics are my favorite part of the song. Brendon Urie, the lead vocalist, has a very unique voice, and one that I love listening to. His range is killer, sinking low into the depths and soaring high into the clouds. If the song is an indication of what's to come for the rest of the album, then it's going to be a huge hit. 5/5
  10. Tornado (Kill The Noise Remix)  [feat. Polina] - Steve Aoki & Tiesto
    I found this song last night after doing some research into Steve Aoki and his music. Linkin Park and him are collaborating on a song soon, and being the Linkin Park fan that I am, I wanted to see what Steve Aoki's work was like prior to hearing the full new song. This was his top selling song, and I can see why. It's some great electronic music, containing dubstep elements, but not being completely overpowered by them. The vocals by Polina are a great touch; female vocals always work very well over dance/electronic. The song contains all the elements you'd expect from an electronic song, such as build ups and drops, but it doesn't come across as boring or typical. I'm excited to hear what Steve Aoki and Linkin Park have cooked up; it's sure to be a great collaboration. 4/5

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Five Song Friday - August 9th

So, today's (yesterday, sorry I'm late!) FSF is going to be a little different. In honor of my mom's birthday, I've asked her for a list of 5 of her favorite songs. I'm going to review/discuss them like normal, and you guys get to see what kind of musical taste my mom has. Happy Birthday mom!

  1. Points of Authority - Linkin Park
    This song is one of my childhood favorites, and one of my mom's favorites as well. She even went as far as to say she thinks it is "the song of the year of forever". It really is a fantastic song, with the crunching guitar over hip-hop influenced drum beat, all while Mike and Chester go back and forth with their rapping and singing interplay. That was one of the things that always stood out to me about the band, and something I continue to love to this day. I've listened to this song since it released; that's 13 years of knowing this song, and this entire album, for that matter. It will always be one of my favorites, and my mom's as well, for she was the one who introduced me to it. 5/5
  2. Almost Over - Limp Bizkit
    Results May Very is one of the defining albums of my childhood, and my mom and I are in agreement that it is one of the best albums we know. This song in particular is one of the more meaningful songs on the album, something that I think Limp Bizkit actually does very well. It chronicles Fred Durst's journey growing up, and the struggles and events that made him the man he is today. Not to mention that the song itself is catchy. The album was released during the height of the days of Nu-metal, a genre I grew up on and will always have a special place for. The traces are evident all over this song, and that's one of the many reasons I love it. 5/5
  3. Panama - Van Halen
    You can't go wrong with some classic VH. This song is a perfect driving song, rocking out with the windows down and the volume up. It's a classic 80's song, with Eddie's fantastic guitar work, and the rest of the band pumping out the tunes to make this piece of rock. David's vocals were prime, back when he could make his voice soar. If you like music, period, this song is an essential. 5/5
  4. Sexyback - Justin Timberlake
    Yes, my mom loves JT, and I do too. You can't deny his catchiness, and his aptitude for making quality music. This song gets you going; dancing is required while listening. And even though this song is 7 years old (wow), it still rocks like it came out yesterday. The pulsing beat, the simple synth, and JT's voice, floating all over the place. One of his best works. 5/5
  5. Manifesto - The City Harmonic
    Now, this song is a departure from the previous tunes, but a great song nonetheless. It is a Christian group, but they manage to give it a more edgy twist than the music you hear on the radio. Not only is it more edgy, it also has more talent and hardwork put in then a lot of the radio music. The band is great, their rock sound fueled by gritty guitars and banging drums. 5/5

Friday, August 2, 2013

Five Song Friday - August 2nd

It's been a busy and crazy week, but I've still had plenty of time to listen to new music. Check out my choices and see if you like them!

  1. Sins Of My Youth - Neon Trees
    I know this song is not really new, but I just recently discovered it while going through my Dad's music, and love the whole album. This song in particular was a stand out, with it's catchy chorus and grooving instrumental. It makes you want to nod your head along and just have fun. Rock N' Roll is what I would use to describe this tune; it may lean more towards the alternative side, but I believe it has the essence of a rock song, especially in the chorus. The hook, the vocals, the crashing drums, the bass jamming along, it all comes together to make a fantastic song. 5/5
  2. Dammit - Blink-182
    Blink-182 has been, and always will be one of my favorites. I also rediscovered this song when digging through my Dad's CDs. This song has classic Blink written all over it. It's punk at its core, from the grungy guitar to Travis pounding on the drums. I loved this one when I was younger, and I love it just as much now. Even though it is upbeat and catchy, the lyrical material always came off to me as more serious than the music let on. It seems carefree, yet talks about how growing up is not nearly as fun as it's made out to be, which I am finding to be more and more true every day. All seriousness aside though, go listen to it. 5/5
  3. Set The Fire - UTKF
    I discovered this great punk band on the great and wonderful Tumblr, and I am quite glad for it. I snagged this song and a few others from the album for free, which I am always grateful for, and have been listening to this song the most. I've been getting into more punk lately, and I really like the energy behind it. The drums are always pushing, the guitars are always gritty, and the vocals add to the not-so-polished punk sound. This band has some potential, for sure, so I recommend checking them out for yourself. 4/5
  4. Voice of Truth - Casting Crowns
    I bought this song this week because I'm helping perform it at my church this week, and thought I should get to know it better. I discovered I like this song more than I thought, for it's message and its composition. I've heard it previously, but never enough to really hear what it was talking about, and now I'm glad I've had the chance. It is a really powerful message, about how in the rush and craze of life, we can get caught up listening to the wrong voices, that put us down and tell us to give up. We really need to listen to God, and his voice that guides us. 5/5
  5. Hurricane - Parachute
    Parachute is a fantastic band. They have an incredible amount of talent, creativity, and a spark that fuels some great music. They have an album, titled Overnight, releasing August 13th. "Hurricane" is the second single from the album, and by far my favorite. It is sincere, it's heartfelt, and it's Parachute at its core. Some people will complain that it is too pop-sounding, and that they used too many electronic instruments, but I think that this sound change is a natural progression of their sound. It's not like they are using these pop elements to cover for a lack of talent; go watch any of their acoustic videos, and see the talent that is overflowing.