Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Song Friday - September 27th

Another week, and more exciting music has found it's way to my ears! After having a blast at the Fall Out Boy/Panic! At The Disco/Twenty One Pilots concert (look for a review of the show later this weekend/week), I have still managed to find music that I very much enjoyed. So check out what's been playing on my iTunes this week, and look for exciting things next week! (It may or may not have to do with Justin Timberlake's new album...).

  1. A Light That Never Comes - Linkin Park & Steve Aoki
    I've been really busy lately, otherwise I would have said something about this song a lot sooner. New Linkin Park always gets me excited, and this song is no exception. Teaming up with Steve Aoki was a genius move to reveal their new remix album, Recharged, due out next month. This song is LP through and through; I know some people will complain about the "dubstep", (even though it really isn't), and how they want their old sound back, and I respect that. Comparing this song to their material from the days of Hybrid Theory and Meteora shows a drastic change, but at the same time, it doesn't. They're doing what they set out to do from the beginning, which is mix genres and test out new and exciting sounds. This song combines their latest album, Living Things, and the rising tide of EDM, and still showcases their "hybrid" sound. 5/5
  2. Paper Thin - Dangerkids
    I discovered this song through the internet, and have never been so pleasantly surprised by what I've discovered. When I talk about this group to friends, I describe their sound as a combination of We Came As Romans and early Linkin Park. They have a hardcore sound that is prevalent throughout the scene, but throw in rapping on the verses that not only pays homage to LP, but their rapper even sounds like Mike Shinoda in his early days. Their sound is killer, and the energy they bring is intense. Not only that, but their lyrics are fantastic as well; lines like "until you're broken, you don't know what you're made of" reveal a genius that isn't too common. If you like We Came As Romans, Linkin Park, or Conditions, then this band is definitely for you. 5/5
  3. Love Alone Is Worth The Fight - Switchfoot
    Switchfoot is always a band you can rely on to put out solid music, and this song is a testament to that. Working as a prelude to their new album, Fading West, "Love Alone Is Worth The Fight" is a more pop-oriented, polished sound that sounds a little different than previous work, but still has the spirit of Switchfoot. It's a catchy song, and it has some great lyrics. It also has a very large sound, thanks to some elements like strings and synths that give it a grandiose feel. If you're a fan of the band, or bands like Relient K, Lifehouse, or Anberlin, then you'll enjoy this song. 5/5
  4. TKO - Justin Timberlake
    After releasing "Take Back The Night", a throwback to big bands and soulful music, Justin Timberlake's latest single brings a more modern flare, with a sound similar to something off of FutureSex/LoveSounds. It incorporates his signature beat-boxing and bright synths, and of course his fantastic voice. This song overall isn't anything terribly groundbreaking, but it is JT through and through, and is definitely a solid track from his new album, due out Monday (my excitement level is very high. VERY HIGH). I also liked the lyrical direction, which I originally thought was going to be about how a girl was so amazing and wonderful that she just knocks him out, hence the title, "TKO". Instead, it is about how a girl beats him down by changing, and not being the girl who she used to be. I thought it was an interesting take, and a creative incorporation of boxing terms. Definitely looking forward to the rest of the new album (A LOT). 5/5
  5. Wu-Tang Forever - Drake
    Now, I know this is an odd addition to this week's collection, but it show's that I do listen to a variety of music. I don't always listen to his stuff, but I do think Drake does some good work. This song is off his latest album, Nothing Was The Same, and is one of the better songs. It's a more relaxed song in terms of tempo, but it has a dark and intense feel about it. Lyrically, is isn't the most appropriate, but it has some weight to it. Drake can be shallow, but he also gets into some more deep subjects and ideas. I recommend it if you like the darker vibe of rap. 5/5

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Other Side - Tonight Alive

The Other Side is a polished pop-punk record from Australian rockers Tonight Alive. I discovered them when they released their debut album, What Are You So Scared Of?, and very much enjoyed their style and sound, which varied generally towards the upbeat and somewhat happy end of pop-punk. With their latest release, however, they seemed to gravitate towards a darker sound; it's not so much gloomy as realistic. It seems that they've become more comfortable with delving deeper into their own struggles, and the result is a very intimate, vulnerable album.

The record kicks off with "The Ocean", a prime example of this new edgier vibe. The lyrics and meaning, as I've discovered, are incredibly important to Jenna McDougall. The song is about her struggle with eczema, which is a skin condition that causes dryness, cracking, and blistering of the skin. The opening lyrics reveal her constant battle, as she sings "I feel heavy, I feel weighted, And I feel hungry, I feel wasted". It is a moving song, one that you can really feel the emotion and pain behind it. Luckily, Jenna overcame her struggles, and so this bitter song has a sweet ending. Another song that talks about the band enduring hardships is "Hell and Back", which is somewhat more upbeat, yet still retains that underlying darker tone. I really enjoy the drum intro, with the rim hits creating a different sort of vibe than the full on drumming found throughout.

Now, the edgier side is not only used to describe hardships the band has experienced; they get a little gritty and even mean in some songs. "Lonely Girl", which was one of the singles, talks about a friend Jenna had in high school who never accepted her help, and seemed to spiral down into her problems. Lines like "I won't be the one to keep you sane" and "looks like the table's turning, and now you're wishing me well like you miss me" reveal the harsh nature this song takes. And I know that might come off as me putting down the song; to the contrary, it's one of my favorites from the album, and a big reason as to why I ended up buying the record. The song isn't mean-spirited, but it has a "I told you so" nature to it, which I think some artists today are afraid of taking on. Another song that could fit in this category would be "Don't Wish", a song aimed towards a former flame who keeps trying to come back to her, but Jenna keeps rejecting him and telling him to not wish that the next girl is her. It's a relationship song, which isn't uncommon, but I think the approach taken lyrically was unusual in terms of subject matter like this. I also very much enjoy the instrumental, which has the more moody vibe, and also has a nicely placed guitar riff/solo in the bridge, which seems to be something uncommon in pop-punk (although I could be wrong about that).

But again, there are more subjects that the band covers lyrically than anger and the hardships of being in a band. "Bathwater", for example, somewhat follows in the same path as "The Ocean", with lines like "The weight comes back to my body, and I’m hopeless again" revealing a struggle with oneself and one's image, or possibly issues like depression and the like. The chorus of this song feels like a real, deep cry of pain and hopelessness, with Jenna crying for help as she sinks back into the water, back into the depths of her struggles. It's another one of my favorites from the record, as is "The Other Side", the title track that talks about a friendship/relationship that fell apart when distance separated the pair. It's one of my favorites because it's the only song on the record that I would describe as cute; it's a little more light hearted than the other songs, and it has a romantic/bittersweet sort of feeling to it. Even though the ending isn't a happily ever after type, the song as a whole still leaves you with a smile rather than a frown.

Speaking of a more happy vibe, one of the songs that falls into this category is "The Fire", a very pop-punk oriented track. It talks about reaching a goal, achieving something that they put hard work into, and coming out feeling almost invincible. Now, the material is great, but it is the vocal lines in the chorus that have me coming back to this song for listen after listen. Jenna's voice just soars up and down in an enchanting manner. It's hard to describe, so you'll have to forgive my lack of words, and just listen to truly give it justice. Not to mention, this song also has some pretty sweet bass guitar work, which always scores points with me.

As for the last song I'll mention, I thought it'd be appropriate to end with the last song on the album, "You Don't Owe Me Anything", which reminds me very much of their song "Amelia" from What Are You So Scared Of? in terms of the emotional feeling elicited and the general vibe of the song. Although the lyrical content between the songs is different, with "You Don't Owe Me Anything" being about losing a loved one, though I'm not quite sure if it is because of a break-up or a death, but either way, it is a more saddening song by far. Not the happiest way to end the album, but like I said earlier, this album had a more realistic tone to it, so the ending is appropriate.

Overall, I was very impressed with this album. It showed maturity on multiple levels, and had a solid collection of songs with ranging subjects and all backed by great instrumentals. If you're a fan of You Me At Six, Sleeping With Sirens, or We Are The In Crowd, then this album is for you. 4.5/5

Tracklist: (* songs are my recommendations to buy & download)

The Ocean - 3:01 (5/5)*
Don't Wish - 3:51 (4/5)
Lonely Girl - 3:11 (5/5)*
Hell And Back - 3:25 (5/5)
The Other Side - 3:40 (5/5)
The Fire - 2:47 (5/5)*
Complexities - 4:08 (5/5)
Come Home - 3:28 (4/5)
Bathwater - 3:13 (5/5)*
No Different - 2:38 (4/5)
Say Please - 3:14 (4/5)
You Don't Owe Me Anything - 3:20 (5/5)*

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Song Friday - September 20th

This week is going to be a bit different from previous weeks. Instead of talking about music I've found over the week (which I've found plenty, no surprise, so look forward to more next week), I'm going to talk about some of my favorites from Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, and Twenty One Pilots, since I'M SEEING THEM TONIGHT! I've very excited, as you can tell, so check out what some of my favorites are, and look out for a review of the show sometime next week!

  1. Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year - Fall Out Boy
    So I decided that for each band, I'm going to list a favorite old song, and a favorite new song. For Fall Out Boy, I had to include this song. It's not one of their bigger songs off From Under The Cork Tree, but it's one of my personal favorites. I especially love the build in the bridge, which also includes guest vocals by William Beckett, formerly of The Academy Is. The scream at the end that leads back into the final chorus is the icing on top of the cake. The song overall is a great representation of what the punk scene looked like close to 10 years now, and is still awesome to listen to nowadays. 5/5
  2. My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) - Fall Out Boy
    This is easily my favorite from the new album, and is just as intense and hard-hitting as Fall Out Boy's previous. It is one of the biggest hits from the new record, and it's obvious why. It's an anthem, it has energy, and it will definitely fill the stadium at the show tonight. I love the hip-hop influence, showing the way that FOB is choosing to incorporate other genres into their music now. 5/5
  3. I Write Sins Not Tragedies - Panic! At The Disco
    This was the very first song I heard by Panic!, and it is still one of my favorites. It captures the essence of who Panic! was when they first began, and I believe it is the sound they are returning to with their new record. The instrumentation of this song is killer, with the variety of strings creating a contrast to the more punk-alternative nature of the chorus. It's a fantastic song, and I cannot wait to hear it live again. 5/5
  4. This Is Gospel - Panic! At The Disco
    I'm excited to hear this song live, particularly because it embodies what Panic! has come to be. They have strayed towards the pop-electronic sound, but still incorporate the punk energy they began with. This is another song that will fill the arena, and will be met by many fans chanting back the lyrics. 5/5
  5. Holding On To You - Twenty One Pilots
    I did not know who these guys were until I found out they were opening for the show, and I am very glad I discovered them. They have an incredibly unique sound, combining rapping with alternative rock in a way that I haven't heard before. This song in particular not only represents that hybrid sound, but the lyrical genius that their vocalist provides. Lines like, "lean with it, rock with it, when we gonna stop with it? lyrics that mean nothing, we were gifted with thought". I absolutely love their message they put out with each song, and the energy on every track. They'll be a killer opening band for sure. 5/5

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Song Friday - September 13th

It's been another busy week of school, and there are new songs to talk about! I hope you enjoy the selections and my thoughts about each one. Also, look out for next week's addition; since I'm going to a Fall Out Boy/Panic! At The Disco/Twenty One Pilots concert (SO EXCITED), it might be themed towards that..

  1. Supercell - M83
    I know I keep going on about this soundtrack, but seriously; one of the best I've ever heard. The orchestration, the inclusion of electronic sounds, the drama and emotion the music holds alone is truly incredible. This song is no exception to that, and is only included in the deluxe version of the soundtrack on iTunes. It starts off very atcive, with lots of drums and electronic synths creating a big sound. This song in particular reminds me a lot of the soundtrack from Tron: Legacy, with the heavy electronic influence and the strings helping to create tension. This piece is very cinematic, with a lot of drama contained in the 4:19 that it lasts. I highly recommend this song, and the whole album, to people who liked Tron: Legacy's soundtrack. 5/5
  2. Edge Of Heaven - Breathe Carolina
    I discovered this song last week, but not soon enough to include in last week's Five Song Friday. I have put it on at least once each day; there's something about it that has an addicting nature to it. It's an electronic/dance heavy song, and manages to have both softer, pop moments, and wobble filled breakdowns. The chorus is the best part of the song, combining the dubstep-influence, David Schmitt's clean vocals, Kyle Even's roaring screams, and a pulsating drum track to create a fantastic sound. I am hooked on this song for now, and definitely recommend it. 5/5
  3. The Fire - Tonight Alive
    I've been listening to Tonight Alive and their latest album, The Other Side, a lot this week, and think it's a solid sophomore record. This is one of the songs that stuck out in particular as a polished pop-punk song. It has a catchy guitar line, driving drums, and even a noticeable bass line during parts of the chorus. The shining moment, however, is the chorus, and specifically, Jenna McDougall's vocals. The way her voice soars and climbs is enchanting and captivating, and I absolutely love it. It's truly remarkable, and the song show's the more edgy tone they went with over the coarse of the album. 5/5
  4. The Other Side - Tonight Alive
    The Other Side, the title song from Tonight Alive's new album, is a more mellowed out pop-punk piece that reminisces of a high school friendship/relationship. The song is cute, in my opinion, yet also melancholy, for it is looking back on how they had to park ways and separate. The backing track definitely helps contrast between the moments of intensity and soulfulness, but it's really the vocals for me that set it apart. Jenna has an incredible voice, and it helps lend emotionality to this song. The lyrics are fantastic as well, bringing to mind a time when things were more simple in life, and the worries and troubles of adulthood hadn't crashed in yet. Definitely a song to check out if you're a fan of We Are The In Crowd, VersaEmerge, and Sleeping With Sirens. 5/5
  5. Atlas - Coldplay
    When I saw that this was going to be the lead single for the soundtrack of Catching Fire, the latest Hunger Games movie, I was a bit skeptical, mainly because of the last soundtrack and it's lead single (which I later learned to like). This one, however, was much more different than I expected. I should have had a bit more faith, for Coldplay does some quality music, and this song is one of their best efforts I've ever heard. It starts off delicate, with a piano line that has some incredibly beautiful chord changes. Chris Martin, who has one of the best voices in the business, comes in very softly, complementing the emotionality of the piano line. It continues in this manner until suddenly, the drums kick in, as well as some synths, to create an epic and immense sound that very much fits the style of the Hunger Games. It definitely has me excited about the rest of the album, and the movie as well. 5/5

Friday, September 6, 2013

Five Song Friday - September 6th

Another week, and while it's been busy with school starting for me and moving into my new place, I've had plenty of time to find new music, (especially since my birthday was this week and I got a iTunes gift card, so lots of music was purchased). Check out what songs I've been listening to this week, and see what you like!

  1. Holy Grail (feat. Justin Timberlake) - Jay-Z
    The music video for this song was released last week, and after watching it, I decided to buy the song. Musically, it's not very revolutionary, but I like the message the lyrics display (or at least what I could gather from them). Both Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z speak about the pitfalls and downsides to fame, each in their own manner. Justin sings almost as if to a lover that robs him and mistreats him, while Jay-Z brings up many examples of celebrities who were drastically effected by fame and the package that comes with it, such as MC Hammer, Mike Tyson, and even Kurt Cobain, incorporating part of the chorus of one of Nirvana's most famous tunes, "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Once I really began to listen to the lyrical content of this song, I had a much better appreciation for it. It really is a well done song, and you can't go wrong with some Justin Timberlake, who has an extensive guest spot on the song. 5/5
  2. Born To Lose - Sleigh Bells
    Following in suit with the rest of Sleigh Bell's material, "Born To Lose" is heavy on roaring guitars and earth-shattering beats. The vocals add to the large nature of the song, overlapping and echoing throughout the song. This song continues the momentum of the opening track, "True Shred Guitar", and provides ample amounts of energy and sound. It fills the headphones and speakers, and makes you want to rock out where ever you are. Definitely worth taking the time to check out and listen. 5/5
  3. Disappear - Parachute
    Out of all the songs on Parachute's latest musical adventure, Overnight, this song just might be my favorite. It's incredibly beautiful, to put it simply. The lightly strummed guitar, the percussive piano, and Will Anderson's voice come together to create one of the most stunning songs I've heard in a while. Words really do not do it justice. Just listen to it, and let the song speak for itself. There's a link here, or if you have Spotify, check it out on there. 5/5
  4. Fade Away - We Came As Romans
    Fade Away is a track that showcases We Came As Romans songwriting and lyrical abilities, along with the first introduction of David Stephens on "clean vocals". The song takes you on a ride, from the driving intro that unfolds into the verse, which is where David reveals his ability to sing and carries on into the vocals, where Kyle takes over and sings of a hopeful and empowering message. If you want to know more of my thoughts on the song, check out my full review of the album here. 5/5
  5. Starwaves - M83
    Expect to see more songs from Oblivion's soundtrack as the weeks go on and I have more time to dissect it; it's a truly remarkable score. "Starwaves" is one of the more popular pieces from the soundtrack, and for good reason. It contains such huge sounds, but also fantastic contrast. The majority of the track is more low key, containing little to no percussion, and mainly synths and strings. About two and a half minutes in, however, the song unfolds into this epic, sweeping piece, filled with some steady and forceful drums, fantastic horn lines, and incredibly huge synths. It all comes together to form a masterpiece, and I cannot wait to find more songs to talk about each week from this marvelous album. 5/5