Archive for category Alternative/Punk Rock

Fall Out Boy: Save Rock And Roll Review

The review for Fall Out Boy’s return album is up on Diamond In the Rock now! Unless you lived underground and didn’t listen to music in high school, you must be curious as to how their comeback album is. Read here why Save Rock And Roll is worth your time!

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Paramore: Paramore Review

There were a lot of doubts about what Hayley Williams and company would sound like without the Farro brothers. But after all the drama, the answer to those questions are answered emphatically with ParamoreHere’s why the band’s latest album is their best work yet.

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Cartel: Collider Review Up Now!

Hey everyone, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to stop running this WordPress soon now that the website is up. But for the time being, I’ll be updating you all with new posts on here, Twitter and Facebook in addition to the website. But I wrote a review for Cartel’s new album Collider and it’s up on the website now, so click here to read the review!

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My Chemical Romance: The Black Parade Review

Breaking from their screamo past, My Chemical Romance breaches new territory with their groundbreaking third album, The Black Parade. Like Green Day’s American Idiot, The Black Parade is a rock opera mashup of the band’s edgier roots and the classic rock elements of the 1970s, sounding like a hybrid of Queen, David Bowie and MCR’s older screamo style. Its blazing guitar riffs and prominent drumming give each song this unique verve, while lead singer Gerard Way is superb throughout, conveying raw angst when the mood darkens and fervent emotion when the more introspective tone calls for it. Way’s charismatic flair and striking personality makes him the only singer capable of pulling this album off, and with an overarching premise of a cancer patient’s journey after death that sways from a tale of darkness and anger to reflection and redemption, The Black Parade truly impresses as a uniquely cohesive rock ‘n’ roll entry that still manages to present a wide amount of variety. While the unrefined screamo sound of Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge may be missed by some fans, My Chemical Romance’s incredible new album draws on the classic rock roots of the genre and still brings their own typical emo influences, easily establishing this entry as the band’s definitive sound.

Standout Tracks

Broad in its scope and execution, “Welcome To The Black Parade” embodies the spirit and plot of The Black Parade, emphatically delivering a grand tale that is a pure spectacle to behold as it unfolds. Switching from a melancholy and slow introduction of piano and buildup drumming from Bob Bryar, this standout track swells and busts the tempo wide open with exhilarating guitar hooks and frantic drums that gives it a lively and fun vibe. Ray Toro and Frank Iero’s upbeat guitar riffs match Way’s uniquely shrill vocals to make this complex rock anthem and all its tempo changes all the more enjoyable and memorable.

Serving as one of the album’s more emotional and introspective pieces, the bluesy rock ballad “I Don’t Love You” adds variety and depth to an already impressive lineup. Mikey Way’s groovy bass line adds to the bluesy rock feel, while Gerard Way dominates the proceedings with gloomily impassioned vocal fluctuations. The background vocals and guitar-chugging lend to the melancholy tone as well, making this ballad an enjoyable display of the band’s versatility.

Teenagers” is not as memorable as “Welcome To The Black Parade,” but it certainly is the most fun and functions well as the album’s feel-good, fist-pumping arena rock anthem. The quirky additions in the background add to the catchy chorus as resonating guitar riffs and splashy drums pave the way for Way to cry out, “They say that teenagers scare the living s**t out of me / They could care less as long as someone’ll bleed / So darken your clothes or strike a violent pose / Maybe they’ll leave you alone but not me.”

The Verdict

With aggressive delights like “Famous Last Words” and “The Sharpest Lives” to complement sentimental rockers like “Disenchanted” and “Cancer,” My Chemical Romance delivers their most cohesive and complete album yet. Harnessing the combined rock spirit of Queen, Bowie, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and The Smashing Pumpkins, My Chemical Romance has never sounded better than this classic rock ‘n’ roll sound. The screamo influences are still present, but don’t overpower this classic rock sound, making The Black Parade a simultaneously fresh and familiar experience. Fans of Green Day, The Used, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Escape The Fate, 30 Seconds To Mars, Rise Against, AFI, Queen and David Bowie should be right at home with this album, which soundly proves that sometimes breaking outside the mold is more than worth it in the rock genre.

Final Score: 9.3/10

Rank: 2nd (four total albums)

Track List

  1. The End.
  2. Dead!
  3. This Is How I Disappear
  4. The Sharpest Lives
  5. Welcome To The Black Parade
  6. I Don’t Love You
  7. House Of Wolves
  8. Cancer
  9. Mama
  10. Sleep
  11. Teenagers
  12. Disenchanted
  13. Famous Last Words
  14. Blood

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Taking Back Sunday: Taking Back Sunday Review

Following the band’s worst album yet, Taking Back Sunday’s music was in desperate need of a change. New Again wasn’t a bad album by any means, but it didn’t quite deliver the emo alternative rock fans had fallen in love with since the early days of Tell All Your Friends. Things looked bleak for awhile, until the band announced that bassist Shaun Cooper and lead guitarist John Nolan, members of Taking Back Sunday’s original lineup, were back on board for a new self-titled album. The hope was for a true return to the excellent rawness of that defining first album. Taking Back Sunday mostly lives up to that expectation, sounding like a true spiritual successor to the stellar original. However, there are a few duds along the way that bring the album down a bit as a whole. However, lead singer Adam Lazzara is as superb as ever, bringing his typical punk/emo drawl and attitude with him to support terrific drumming and buzzing guitar riffs, making the band’s fifth album a true delight at times. And in spite of a few flaws, Taking Back Sunday should have fans excited for the future for the first time since Tell All Your Friends.

Standout Tracks

Although this album is a spiritual successor to Tell All Your Friends, that doesn’t mean Taking Back Sunday has nothing new to offer, which is emphatically proven by the raging rocker “El Paso.” Easily one of the heaviest songs the band has ever written, Lazzara’s raspy and throaty vocals mesh well with Mark O’Connell’s booming drums and the soulful riffs of Nolan and Eddie Reyes. Cooper’s groovy bass hook is also noteworthy, adding a lighter and cooler touch to the song’s edgy nature. Capturing the untamable spirit of rock is no easy feat, but this heavy headbanger is nothing less than an alternative rock gem.

However, no song on Taking Back Sunday is superior to “Faith (When I Let You Down),” an extremely catchy and enjoyable tune that could easily fit in anywhere on Tell All Your Friends. Featuring gentler verses of keyboards, humming guitars, light drumming and Lazzara’s soft and electronically distorted vocals, this song kicks into overdrive for each urgent and sincere chorus filled with guitar-chugging, pounding drums and Lazzara’s clairvoyant singing. The use of 30 Seconds To Mars-esque background harmonizing vocals adds a nice touch to each bridge, but Lazzara’s passionate words during each chorus steal the show as he wails, “When I let you down, look past your doubt / Just please don’t loose your faith in me.”

With its relaxing guitar riffs and Lazzara’s soft vocals, “This Is All Now” also starts off on a more reserved groove, but the chorus once again steps up the tempo for another wonderful kind of chorus only Taking Back Sunday and Lazzara can deliver. This song not only shows TBS still has it, but also calls to mind all the endearing memories of happily rocking out to Tell All Your Friends with its eerily similar and ultimately pleasing sound.

The Verdict

There are a few misses on Taking Back Sunday, such as the uninteresting “You Got Me” or the downright annoying “Money (Let It Go),” but the majority of this new album calls to mind the good old days of Tell All Your Friends. The return of the original lineup promises more Taking Back Sunday goodness to come in the future too, so this first venture, though flawed, is a very good sign of things to come. With upbeat tracks like “Best Places To Be A Mom” and the sentimental ballad “Call Me In The Morning,” there’s a good deal of variety to be had, even if it all just feels like little more than a spiritual successor to the band’s debut. Still, if there was ever a Taking Back Sunday album to replicate, it’s Tell All Your Friends, which makes this new album a must-listen for fans at the very least. Fans of Brand New, The Starting Line, Straylight Run, Say Anything, Motion City Soundtrack, Senses Fail, New Found Glory, Jimmy Eat World, Fall Out Boy and The Wonder Years will be able to appreciate this new outing and should eagerly anticipate what’s to come in the future.

Final Score: 7/10

Rank: 4th (five total albums)

Track List

  1. El Paso
  2. Faith (When I Let You Down)
  3. Best Places To Be A Mom
  4. Sad Savior
  5. Who Are You Anyway?
  6. Money (Let It Go)
  7. This Is All Now
  8. It Doesn’t Feel A Thing Like Falling
  9. Since You’re Gone
  10. You Got Me
  11. Call Me In The Morning

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Green Day: ¡Dos! Review

When Green Day first announced a trilogy of upcoming albums, there was definite reason to worry about how good they would actually be; did the band actually have that much quality material to release? Or was this just a chance to rake in as much money as possible on B-sides and half-baked tracks? Whereas ¡Uno! proved the band was still recording punk gems worthy of recognition by old and new fans alike, ¡Dos! leans more toward the latter, serving up a few enjoyable songs in the midst of quite a few duds. This album is also hurt by the limited amount of time between each release: while ¡Dos! isn’t necessarily a bad album, it feels stale and uninteresting when ¡Uno! came out just a month ago. A new dose of Green Day like this might have gone over better had the fans been forced to wait a little longer, but there’s nothing new or fresh enough here to make ¡Dos! feel like anything less than the deluxe version of ¡Uno!. Green Day continues to experiment with their musical balance between the melodies and intricacies of 21st Century Breakdown and their punk roots, but the results are largely mixed and don’t do as much to raise one’s anticipation for ¡Tre! as they should.

Standout Tracks

The constant guitar-chugging of Jason White, Mike Dirnt’s twangy bass hook and wonderfully rhythmic drumming of  Tre Cool on “Stop When The Red Lights Flash” proves that Green Day still knows what it takes to make a good song, despite some of the album’s other tracks falling off a bit. The background vocals a sense of fun to each rocking chorus and bridge, while Billy Joe Armstrong delivers the type of glorious punk vocals fans have come to expect from the band. The lyrics leave a bit to be desired, but the upbeat rhythms and impressive composition make it an excellent addition to the album.

Dirnt’s groovy bass hooks usually play a prominent role in Green Day’s songs, but they rarely turn a song into a light and catchy tune like they do on “Stray Heart.” Despite the fact that this still isn’t Green Day’s A-game, the straightforward, sing-along nature of each chorus combined with easygoing riffs and a few solos thrown in makes it an entertaining and mindless listen, which might sound like criticism, but is actually praiseworthy in this song’s simple appeal.

Written after Amy Winehouse’s passing, “Amy” is a mellow acoustic track, melancholy in its lyrics but pleasantly soothing in its composition. Armstrong’s vocals aren’t anything special and the tempo feels a little too fast for a track of this type, but the sad and beautiful words ring true regardless for a memorable end to the album.

The Verdict

Musical eclecticism is a trait worthy of praise within the rock genre, but Green Day’s ¡Dos! pushed the limit a bit, feeling more jumbled than anything. From the Oasis-like vocals on “Wild One” to the guitar riff of “Makeout Party” that sounds strikingly similar to “East Jesus Nowhere,” it feels like the band is just making music for the sake of making music at times. And that’s before mentioning the appalling “Nightlife,” made even worse by Lady Cobra’s rapped verses. You read that right, rapped. However, there are some stellar tracks worthy of praise, such as the Wolfmother-reminiscent “Lady Cobra” and “Lazy Bones” which has some of the most enjoyable guitar riffs of the whole album and background vocals that show just how good Green Day is at crafting lighter and agreeable rockers that take the listener back to the happy days of punk rock goodness in the 90s. With a garage rock sound, fans of Foxboro Hottubs, Sum 41, Franz Ferdinand, Pinhead Gunpowder, My Chemical Romance and Oasis should be right at home. ¡Dos! won’t quite appeal to all fans the way ¡Uno! did, but it’s still a decent listen and certainly isn’t bad enough to discourage Green Day from devouring ¡Tre! a month from now.

Final Score: 7/10

Rank: 6th (eleven total albums)

Track List

  1. See You Tonight
  2. F*** Time
  3. Stop When The Red Lights Flash
  4. Lazy Bones
  5. Wild One
  6. Makeout Party
  7. Stray Heart
  8. Ashley
  9. Baby Eyes
  10. Lady Cobra
  11. Nightlife
  12. Wow! That’s Loud
  13. Amy

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A Change Of Pace: An Offer You Can’t Refuse Review

The raw screamo energy unleashed through the whine of electric guitars, the pounding of drums and unrefined melody of the vocals on A Change Of Pace’s sensational debut album makes it a hard-hitting and memorable entry worthy of fans’ attention. And where An Offer You Can’t Refuse falls short in its lack of polish or artistic maturity, the rocking verses, catchy choruses and intelligent songwriting say anything but, especially considering the album was written while several members of the band were still in high school. From its explosive and dark leadoff “Loose Lips Sink Ships” to its upbeat and pop punk-sounding closer, An Offer You Can’t Refuse established A Change Of Pace as a band with musical eclecticism and a bright future on the horizon.

Standout Tracks

Following the killer opener, “Death Do Us Part” offers another heavy song, but this time with a much catchier chorus and less screaming as the album’s best song. Lead singer Torry Jasper’s  aesthetically pleasing vocals fluctuate well between pitches and are phenomenal when set to an infectious backdrop of surging, resonating electric guitar riffs from Adam Rogers and Dan Parker, a deep and groovy bass hook from Johnny Abdullah and a rhythmic drum beat from Jonathan Kelly. And while the subject matter of this song’s lyrics isn’t quite sophisticated, the memorable imagery of each enjoyably raucous chorus is undeniable: “I stole your heart, ripped it out and smashed it on this floor / You have no need for such a useless thing, broken forever more.”

Providing the heaviest song of the album, “Know One Knows” puts the pedal to the metal and doesn’t let up with constant guitar-chugging, booming drums and Jasper’s alternation between throaty screams and distorted background clean vocals. The chorus lets Jasper cut loose even more with anguished wails and screams, but is just catchy enough to keep more casual listeners tuned in. But despite its likable chorus, “Know One Knows” gives an engaging and dramatic look at A Change Of Pace’s post-hardcore side that is sure to please more hardcore fans.

While most of their songs feature a flurry of activity for the verses and catchy choruses, “A Farewell To Friendship” shows A Change Of Pace’s musical versatility with an acoustic ballad that Jasper owns with vocals that are composed when they need to be and strained when his emotion can no longer be contained. The acoustic guitar sets the mood but the addition of string instruments gives it a more sophisticated and refined sound and make it a nice change in tempo for the album.

The Verdict

An Offer You Can’t Refuse has its flaws, but in spite of a few novice moments, A Change Of Pace impresses with a truly absorbing debut. Jasper’s balance between harsh screams and high-pitched singing is extraordinary to behold, even if his vocals are a little rough around the edges at times. And while scaling guitar riffs and fervent drum rhythms are present throughout, the style changes from post-hardcore to pop punk to alternative rock and emo, often within the same song, making the album an incredibly eclectic and all-encompassing experience. Fans of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Hawthorne Heights, Hit The Lights, Sugarcult, Amber Pacific, The Starting Line, Holiday Parade and Just Surrender should find something to enjoy here, but A Change Of Pace’s appeal extends beyond the boundaries of one single genre. Monitoring this band’s musical progression could be well worth it if they continue to mature and craft new and entertaining music in the future.

Final Score: 7/10

Rank: 2nd (two total albums)

Track List

  1. Loose Lips Sink Ships
  2. Death Do Us Part
  3. Every Second
  4. Asleep At The Wheel
  5. December
  6. Know One Knows
  7. Home Is Where The Heart Is
  8. A Farewell To Friendship
  9. Chippie
  10. Goodbye For Now
  11. Queen Of Hearts

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