Our Favorite New Music of 2017

As another year winds down and our best-of-the-year lists hit the web, we’d be remiss to not acknowledge some of the great new music that came our way in 2017. There’s still nothing quite as exciting as discovering a new favorite band or watching as an up-and-coming artist comes into their own.

We stumbled across some of these artists in hazy venues, heard their tracks on compilations, or got a timely and welcome suggestion from a friend. Whatever the case, we’re excited to see what comes next from the artists below and hope you’ll join us on their respective bandwagons. Take a listen!

Emily Blue

I stumbled upon Emily Blue this fall while attending the Fountain Square Music Festival in Indianapolis and remained hooked for the rest of 2017. Blue’s knack for melody pairs well with her glitch pop arrangements and unique take on relationships and life. One listen to 2016’s “No Pain”, a song about gendered violence and rape culture, is chillingly on point and her recent dual-single “Blackberries // Rico Acid” expand into new, quirky pop territory. You can hear more from Emily Blue at her website– Kiel Hauck

Superet

Opening for DREAMCAR earlier this year was a band that I had never heard of before, and gave no thought to before they started playing. Within the span of 20 minutes, Superet had become one of the most interesting bands I have ever seen. After months of waiting, the Superet EP is finally out. Just as impressive as I remembered, Superet are a percussion-heavy rock outfit that is easily the best band you’ve never heard of. Frantic, experimental, and dance-ready, Superet bring the energy and aggression of The Fratellis (“Pay It Later”) and infuse it with the indie contemplation of Copeland (“Stockholm Syndrome”). While the EP swings wildly in sound, the confidence behind their songs shows they are ready to conquer the world. – Kyle Schultz

Wild Pink

I saw Wild Pink play in August with All Get Out and was really impressed with their talent. They’re from Brooklyn, New York, and they’ve got a pleasant, easy sound, utilizing dreamy effects that make me group them in (albeit loosely) with the lo-fi genre. Wild Pink released their first EP, Good Life in 2015, another EP, Four Songs, in October 2016, and their debut self-titled full-length album this past February. If you’re looking for a unique brand of introspective indie rock, check them out: Wild Pink currently record on Tiny Engines– Nadia Paiva

Eat Your Heart Out

My introduction to Newcastle, Australia’s Eat Your Heart Out came in the form of a cover song. Indeed, I replayed the emo pop act’s version of Ed Sheeran’s “The Shape of You” repeatedly in 2017, but there’s much more to love. Earlier this month, the band released a new EP, Mind Games, which expands on the band’s sound and harkens to a grungier era of pop punk. One listen to “Conscience” and you’ll be eager to fast forward to summer. Eat Your Heart Out currently reside on Fearless Records– Kiel Hauck

Overcoats

College in Connecticut drew two girls together: one from London and one from New York. They became friends and formed one of the most unique electronic duos to grace our ears in 2017. Their debut full-length album, YOUNG, was released on April 21, 2017. I first heard them perform when I heard their NPR Tiny Desk Concert and was immediately hooked by their harmonies and tactfully placed musical accompaniments. Overcoats currently record on Arts and Crafts– Nadia Paiva

Wand

What could be easily tossed aside as ‘psychedelic rock,’ Wand are a force of sound that falls somewhere between where grunge and garage rock meet Dark Side of the Moon. Fuzzed out guitars never relent, even as the songs turn and become more experimental. The shrouded vocals add a mystique and dreamlike quality that begs you to follow it through to the end. While Wand lacks the melodic elements that attract me to many bands, the sheer force of their sound more than makes up for it. The wall of guitars is ravaging, unforgiving and hypnotic. Mixed with on-point keyboards, Wand deliver a landscape of sound that is difficult to match. With four album releases since their inception in 2013, Wand have an absolute ambition that drives their sound. If you never considered mixing psychedelia and moshing before, you will now– Kyle Schultz

Posted by Kiel Hauck

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The Best Songs of 2017

You can view our list of The Best Albums of 2017 here.

In a year in which great albums were abundant, it goes without saying that great songs were aplenty. In just a matter of minutes, a great song can do a lot: It can take us somewhere blissful, it can make us think, it can change our perspective, it can help us forget. Our list of the Best Songs of 2017 have a little bit of everything.

Below, you’ll find songs from a variety of genres telling diverse stories. These tracks were anthems for overcoming, therapeutic outlets of emotion, ballads of love, and laments of the soul. No matter your druthers, we think you’ll find something to love. Take a look – and a listen.

15. Jake Bugg – “Southern Rain”

Jake Bugg is an extraordinary talent. Releasing almost an album a year since the start of his career, he has managed to tap into a multitude of genres while maintaining a distinct sound all his own. “Southern Rain” is a folksy ballad that manages to softly tell a story of grieving a fallen romance. However, the dreamlike soundscape and lyrics constantly remind that even in dark times, there is always something brighter just around the corner. For a song that sounds so light, it is dense with the sounds of mandolin, harmonica, keyboards, and the crisp tap of piano. Though Bugg’s lyrics stay melancholy, the music is so bright and hopeful that it promises relief. – Kyle Schultz

14. Harry Styles – “Woman”

“Woman” is one of the most enjoyable tracks on Harry Styles’ self-titled solo album. Regardless of the groovy sonic choice he made, the lyrics themselves follow a thematic trend in this year’s pop music of discussing a failed relationship. Styles’ vocal prowess shines all over the album but “Woman” is smoother than any other song. Reminiscent of psychedelic ‘70s rock, this track is easy on the ears and all around well-configured. It’s a lovely and promising example of what we can expect from post-One Direction Harry Styles. – Nadia Paiva

13. Dreamcar – “All of the Dead Girls”

DREAMCAR, the supergroup of AFI’s Davey Havok and the band from No Doubt, is a surreal project of pop and new wave rock. “All of the Dead Girls” is a true summer song dripping with beach-ready drumming and a bassline that slides beneath any 80’s montage of men playing volleyball. Havok’s sassy vocals describe the make-up clad “dead girls” that will “never blush” as he stalks the beach. For a singer known for delving into the darkest aspects of the psyche, Havok relishes in taking the haunted tangles of relationships into the sunlight for a stroll. Featuring a baritone sax and a cat’s howl, “All of the Dead Girls” is a truly unique song that never takes itself seriously from two bands that always are. – KS

12. Jay-Z – “The Story of O.J.”

Fans that waited with bated breath since the release of Beyoncé’s damning Lemonade would suffer little disappointment in Jay-Z’s 4:44. There’s a lot to parse through, but Jay makes each moment count, and such is the case with “The Story of O.J.” Jay uses clever samples and poignant lines to capture the struggle of blackness in a racist society, regardless of status, wealth or complexion. It’s an artful display of Jay-Z’s success viewed through the lens of a racist America and Jay’s own battle to push his wealth and progress into something even more lasting. It just might be the highlight of his surprising second act. – Kiel Hauck

11. Palisades – “Better Chemicals”

When Palisades left their electonicore leanings in the past for this year’s self-titled release, they didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater so much as they refined the best parts of their existing sound. On “Better Chemicals”, the band forgoes cheeky electronics and samples for tastefully placed programming that elevates the track to another level. Vocalist Louis Miceli Jr. uses the opportunity to showcase his transitional ability that explodes during a chorus of, “Need better chemicals, I know / Cause nothing helps anymore, oh no”. It’s a jarring movement into serious territory for the band and a perfectly crafted track that crackles with rock energy. – KH

10. The Early November – “In Currents (acoustic)”

As one of the first singles after the band’s reformation, “In Currents” was a nostalgic pop song that meshed minimalistic instrumentation before exploding in a torrent of sound in the chorus. It showcased almost every aspect of what made The Early November’s sound so iconic. The stripped-down version on Fifteen Years only features a bouncing guitar and a theremin-inspired synth line that turns the song into an inspirational ballad. The true star of the song, though, is Ace Enders. Enders pushes his voice as hard as he ever has, while maintaining an emotional weight that seems impossible. The result is an acoustic cover that not only surpasses the original, it deserves to be remembered among the top of The Early November’s achievements. – KS

9. PVRIS – “What’s Wrong”

“Don’t need a metaphor for you to know I’m miserable”. That crushing closing line during the chorus of “What’s Wrong” sets the stage for a sophomore follow-up from a band overwhelmed with responsibility and possibility. PVRIS harness the best of their synth-laced melodic pop rock as vocalist Lynn Gunn lays bare her fears in the face of the band’s rise to prominence. “When did I get so pitiful / Just a goddamn corpse in a centerfold”, she laments, vocalizing the struggle of a female lead in the midst of a misogynist scene. It is at once a monumental sonic step forward for a band full of potential and a dark look inside the mind of an artist in doubt. – KH

8. AFI –” So Beneath You”

While other AFI songs have mocked and questioned religion, “So Beneath You” is the most aggressive and militant. Punk rock at its purest, the song teases the band’s hardcore influence. Jade Puget can write some of the most mystifyingly beautiful guitar lines known to man, but sometimes he is at his best when strangling power chords as Davy Havok just shouts at the sky. Rather than mock the idea of religion, Havok instead issues a direct challenge as he croons, “I won’t kneel, I won’t bow / If you’re there God, strike me down, strike me down / You won’t”. Challenging standards and demanding more of their audience than most bands, “So Beneath You” exemplifies what makes AFI such a beloved band and manages to be one of the year’s best rock songs. – KS

7. Lorde – “Hard Feelings/Loveless”

Much of Lorde’s Melodrama is based on the toll fame takes on an artist, notably in their interpersonal relationships. One of the most poignant moments is found right at the end of the first portion of “Hard Feelings/Loveless”, in which she reminisces on a past relationship, stating “I’ll start letting go of little things / ‘Til I’m so far away from you / Far away from you”. What is so impressive about this song is how seamlessly she changes from the topic of her own relationship to the topic of relationships in general in our digital world, and how we don’t always place the value on them that they deserve. It’s relatable and one of the most memorable tracks on a beautiful album. – NP

6. Halsey – “Strangers”

Amidst a brave retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Halsey uses “Strangers” as an LGBTQ love song, dropping the pretense of well-worn pronouns. Here, she and Lauren Jauregui trade lines of longing atop richly-inspired 80s synthesizers. “She doesn’t kiss me on the mouth anymore / Cause it’s more intimate than she feels we should get”, Halsey opens, before Jauregui’s response of, “She doesn’t let me have control anymore / I must have crossed the line, I must have lost my mind”. It’s a delightfully sensual, deeply danceable track of star-crossed lovers and an example of Halsey’s feel for the pulse of modern pop. There aren’t many that do it better. – KH

5. Kesha – “Praying”

“I hope you’re somewhere praying / I hope your soul is changing”, Kesha belts at her abuser on one of the year’s most emotionally powerful tracks. It’s a stark pivot for the artist herself, but an even more powerful statement in a year in which our culture begins to fully realize the deep claws that sexual abuse holds in our society. As the song builds towards its crescendo, Kesha finds the strength to flip the power imbalance that held her hostage for so long: “Cause I can make it on my own / And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known / I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain / And when I’m finished, they won’t even know your name”. If chills don’t run up your spine, you must have held your head in the sand for the entirety of 2017. – KH

4. Liam Gallagher – “Wall of Glass”

For fans of Oasis, there will always be the eternal argument of which Gallagher brother is the favorite. While Noel has experimented with his sound on his own solo venture, Liam Gallagher’s first solo single is the best song Oasis never wrote. The rich layers in “Wall of Glass” are mesmerizing – the dance club beat, the bobbing bass line, the show-stealing harmonica, the ghostly back-up singers, and the sizzling guitar all hide beneath some of the best vocals Liam Gallagher has ever recorded. It’s a testament that the best sounds aren’t always found by pushing for something new, but by tilling what has already been laid as the foundation of expectation and kicking the shit out of it. “Wall of Glass” sounds like it aimed to be the best rock song of any year in the last two decades and pulls it off with style to spare. – KS

3. Paramore – “Fake Happy”

It’s no secret that Paramore drew inspiration from their experience with mental illness with the track “Fake Happy” from After Laughter. What sets it apart from other songs on the topic is its accessibility. Undoubtedly, many listeners will identify with the lyrical themes but also find enjoyment in the musical quality, most especially in the infectious bridge which puts a smile on even the most downtrodden of us. The music video (directed by the band’s own Zac Farro) shows that idea perfectly, and is the cherry on top of an already beautifully displayed picture of humanity. – NP

2. Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. begins with a chilling short story before audio from a Fox News broadcast admonishes the message of Kendrick’s 2015 Black Lives Matter anthem “Alright”. Before the clip can reach completion, Lamar bursts through the door with “DNA”’s opening lines of, “I’ve got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA”. Throughout the track, Kendrick flexes his varied vocal deliveries over a rattling bassline, juxtaposing earned braggadocio with self-deprecation as he inspects the inner workings of his soul. It’s the perfect opening to the year’s best record and an eardrum vibrating reminder that Kendrick’s talent surpasses his peers, both in execution and in content. – KH

1. Julien Baker – “Appointments”

It’s difficult to fully quantify the progression from Julien Baker’s debut to this year’s Turn Out the Lights, but if you were to point to a single track as an example, it would be “Appointments”. Atop a painfully lonesome guitar and piano, Baker lays out the private battle of depression and the strain it puts on relationships. Yet above all of the excruciating imagery is something more vital and more powerful – a will to overcome. When Baker lets loose with her belted vocals of, “Maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright / Oh, I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is” at the song’s conclusion, it’s a reminder that some small battles can be momentarily won – a perfectly humble message from one of music’s most exciting young voices. – KH

Honorable Mention:

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Cut to the Feeling”
Vince Staples – “Big Fish”
Taylor Swift – “…Ready for It?”
Acceptance – “Colliding by Design”
Haim – “Want You Back”

Posted by Kiel Hauck

The Best Albums of 2017

You can view our list of The Best Songs of 2017 here.

Another year is in the books, and while it’s easy to dwell on the negatives of one of the strangest years in recent memory, 2017 was certainly not wanting for incredible music. In fact, 2017 produced so many great albums, it’s hard to show end-of-the-year love to all that deserve it. But we’re going to try anyway.

Our list of the best albums of 2017 touched on a variety of powerful and important topics, from social injustice to mental illness to the strength it takes to shift power imbalances and overcome abuse. The artists below not only thoughtfully tackled important themes, but did so in a way that made us move and forced us to find hope in the mist of brokenness. Without further ado, take a look at some of the best albums of the year.

 

15. New Found Glory – Makes Me Sick

When New Found Glory release an album, there is a certain expectation for how it should sound. When they release an album that manages to branch out enough to rank as one of their more unique releases, it is something to pay attention to. Makes Me Sick is a true summer album that delves into cavity inducing pop while maintaining mosh-ready guitars (“Call Me Anti-Social”). The synth that make its way into the album make each song instantly recognizable, especially as the band take stabs at the world around them (“Party on Apocalypse”), and rarely has the band sounded so inspired (“Barbed Wire”). Makes Me Sick is the reason that after 20 years, New Found Glory are still as important as they were when they helped found the modern pop punk scene. – Kyle Schultz

14. Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming

The spirit of Eisley moves onward on I’m Only Dreaming, even in the absence of DuPree sisters Stacy and Chauntelle. In their stead, Sherri DuPree-Bemis carries the vocal load across an array of tracks that harken to the ambiguity and innocence of Room Noises. At once melodically gorgeous and sonically curious, I’m Only Dreaming offers the dream-like soundscape that put Eisley on the map well over a decade ago. DuPree-Bemis floats above her cousin Garron’s shoegaze guitar licks that range from grungier affairs “Louder Than a Lion” to indie pop numbers that stand as some of the band’s best work to date “Always Wrong”. – Kiel Hauck

13. The Early November – Fifteen Years

It’s hard to imagine an acoustic ‘best of’ album being one of the best of the year, but Ace Enders has always defied expectation. Fifteen Years not only finds a way to hit all of the band’s best songs, but in many ways, it surpasses the originals. Enders has always impressed with his acoustic songs, but the stripped-down versions of some of their biggest hits allows his vocals to truly shine like they never have before. What were some of the band’s biggest rock songs (“Decorations”, “In Currents” “Boxing Timelines”) become emotional ballads. It’s apparent that The Early November have spent their career deserving more credit than anyone ever suspected. – KS

12. Palisades – Palisades

Call it a progression, but reinvention works just as well. Palisades’ self-titled release finds the New Jersey post-hardcore act shedding the electronicore leanings they embraced across their first two records. On Palisades, the band finds a new voice within grunge and nu metal elements that serve as the perfect playground for vocalist Louis Miceli Jr. to display his new, commanding delivery. With the absence of party gimmicks, the band is free to cover fresh thematic territory, adding a welcome dose of levity to match their new style. It’s the kind of 180 turn that opens a variety of doors for a band that has a chance to make a splash in the alt rock waters. – KH

11. Neck Deep – The Peace and the Panic

Neck Deep are an endlessly fascinating band. They have managed to harness the best aspects of pop punk and continuously remind us why the genre matters. The guitars are harsh but sway with rich melody that make easycore bands envious. Every song on The Peace and the Panic demands to be sung along to as the band tackles every topic from rebellion against the government (“Don’t Wait”), depression (“The Grand Delusion”), or telling a story of romance (“19 Seventy Sumthin’”). Neck Deep are a shining example of what makes pop punk such a brilliant genre, and they do it with a sound that marches forward as much as it honors the bands of yesteryear. – KS

10. PVRIS – All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell

Shedding any notion of a sophomore slump, PVRIS delivered with their anticipated follow up to White Noise. All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell zeros in on the best parts of the band’s debut and expands on both sonic and thematic levels. Making use of dark synthesizers and deep, grooving basslines, the trio build dread-infused soundscapes that allow Lynn Gunn to explore an array of fears and regrets. Whether she’s powering through anthems like “Heaven” or growling across the chorus of “No Mercy”, Gunn has become one of the most exciting voices in the scene, and PVRIS appears to have the legs to reach the next level. – KH

9. Kesha – Rainbow

To use a most tired cliché, Rainbow is a roller coaster, driving us through the turbulent aftermath of abuse and the will and strength of a survivor. The album is varied and messy, but works beautifully as a therapeutic outlet of the highest order. From the fist-pumping fury of “Woman” to the tear-jerking pleas of “Praying”, Kesha provides a voice for the broken and a song for the redeemed. Amidst tears and laughter Kesha weaves the story of life on the other side and embraces the freedom in letting go. Rainbow is truly the brilliant comeback everyone was rooting for. – KH

8. Lorde – Melodrama

Lorde (Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor) risked becoming irrelevant by releasing her sophomore album three long years after her debut. “Melodrama”, however, is an absolute masterpiece and refuses to be ignored. This album meets even the highest of expectations that led up to Lorde’s second release. She used the past few years to grow vocally and artistically, and with help from another pop mastermind, Jack Antonoff, Lorde has (once again) completely changed the face of alt-pop. – Nadia Paiva

7. Lucky Boys Confusion – Stormchasers

Coming back from the dead, Lucky Boys Confusion have rarely sounded better. Stormchasers exceeds expectations for a band that hadn’t written a song together for a decade. Biting into the personal tragedies that have plagued the band for the last few years, LBC manage to make some of the most inspired rock songs of their career. “It’s After Midnight” picks up directly off of the sound of their last EP (released in 2006), while “Stormchaser” taps into the sounds of the band’s career to honor fallen band member, Joe Sell.  “Sun In My Eyes” looks towards a brighter future and “Good Luck”, celebrates the band’s past and tells the story of making it as a band. Lucky Boys Confusion is a continuous story of perseverance and honoring a fan base that refuses to quit. – KS

6. Glassjaw – Material Control

Fifteen years have passed since Long Island’s post-hardcore kings released an album, and yet, somehow, Material Control feels like the most Glassjaw record ever put to tape. Material Control is the visceral blend of aggression and melody that put the band on the map nearly two decades ago, yet sounds as fresh as any heavy record released in 2017. The dirty bassline on “Shira” will cause you to break a sweat while Daryl Palumbo’s vocal acrobatics on “Golgotha” will make your jaw drop. Material Control is the kind of relentless record that hard rock desperately needed, and a worthy successor to Worship and Tribute, even if the wait was far too long. – KH

5. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

With Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples remains one of the most coy (koi) rappers around (get it?) Across the album’s 12 tracks, Staples wrestles with the fame that has lifted him from his home and threatens to numb him of the pain and struggle that still plagues those around him. Doing it all atop beats that embrace club and house leanings, Staples invites his listeners to dance, even as the themes force you to stop and think. It’s a juxtaposition as profound as the rapper himself, and just another reason why Staples may be one of the most underappreciated artists of our time. – KH

4. AFI – The Blood Album

AFI (The Blood Album) was one of the first records released in 2017 and it is still among the year’s top contenders as the year comes to an end. The Blood Album picks up where the band left things on 2013’s Burials, and pushes forward to make the record one of the best they have ever released. Jade Puget’s dark guitar lines still manage to impress and blaze with the power that other bands require multiple musicians for. Having been the second of three albums that Davey Havok sang for within the span of a year (Blaqk Audio and DREAMCAR), the intensity of his voice is mesmerizing. AFI’s dark pop songs are a masterclass in musicianship. As an amalgamation of everything they have released over the course of a 20+ year career, AFI (The Blood Album) is worthy of being the band’s first self-titled effort, and standing among their best releases. – KS

3. Paramore – After Laughter

Paramore’s long-awaited return came with a release defining some of the most overarching topics plaguing young adults today: mental illness, hopelessness, loneliness, and the idea that we can find the light we’ve lost. Taking a sharp turn from their alternative roots and moving into an ‘80s synth direction, Paramore provided a dose of reality packaged in both fun and reflective ways. We’ve watched Hayley Williams and co. grow up and face some difficult times and, somehow, they’ve always portrayed it gracefully. “After Laughter” is no different. – NP

2. Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights

On Turn Out the Lights, Julien Baker does more than tug at our heartstrings, she dives deep into the crevices of depression without pulling punches. Whether accompanied by just her guitar or surrounded by organs and strings, Baker’s voice fluctuates from crackling despair to cries of strength, voicing a struggle familiar to many. What makes Baker’s songs so meaningful is her painful honesty – there is no sugarcoating – and when she searches for hope, she does so with every fiber of her being. At the end of the journey, her powerful final cry of ,“I wanted to stay”, is enough to shake any listener to the core. – KH

1. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

How do you follow up one of the most heralded and important hip hop releases in recent memory? Like this, apparently. Whereas To Pimp a Butterfly stretched outward into the systematic oppressions of our society, DAMN. worms its way into Kendrick Lamar’s psyche, revealing the inner workings of one of the most important artistic voices of our time. Oscillating between “Pride” and “Humble”, “Love” and “Lust”, “Fear” and “God”, Kendrick fights for truth and hope amidst brokenness.

From the rumbling bassline of “DNA” to the throwback samples and drums of “Duckworth”, Kendrick paints a canvas that opens new possibilities for his own rhyme schemes and vocal delivery. At once timeless and fresh, DAMN. is the new bench mark for modern hip hop. There is little room left for debate: Kendrick Lamar is the best rapper alive. – KH

Honorable Mention

Bleachers – Gone Now
Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Jay-Z – 4:44
Tigers Jaw – Spin
Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Podcast: Interview with Emery’s Matt Carter

Somehow, in between hosting multiple successful podcasts and fulfilling his duties as co-founder of an independent media company, Matt Carter still finds time to play guitar for Emery. Matt joined Kiel Hauck on our latest podcast to discuss what goes into the making of one of this year’s hit new podcasts – “Labeled: The Stories, Rumors, & Legends of Tooth & Nail Records”. He also shares how Emery re-imagined some of their favorite songs for their recent release, Revival, gives his take on recent news regarding sexual misconduct in the scene, and much more. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What are some of your current favorite podcasts? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Warped Tour Announces its Final Cross-Country Run in 2018

Vans Warped Tour, a summer staple for the scene, is preparing for its final cross-country trek in 2018. According to Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, “I have been a very lucky person to have traveled across the country and sometimes around the world as one of the founders and producers of the Vans Warped Tour, and today with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that the last full cross-country run will take place in 2018.”

Warped Tour has served as a springboard for bands into the spotlight throughout the years and provided a common ground for alternative music and culture, although recent years have revealed deep issues related to sexual harassment and abuse amongst certain bands on the tour. We’ll share more details as they come, but in the meantime, you can view 2018 dates here and read the full statement from Lyman below.

“I have been a very lucky person to have traveled across the country and sometimes around the world as one of the founders and producers of the Vans Warped Tour. Today, with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that next year will be the final, full cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour. I sit here reflecting on the tour’s incredible history, what the final run means for our community, and look forward to what’s to come as we commemorate the tour’s historic 25th anniversary in 2019.

In 1995, I had already worked many years in the music business, including spending four summers on the Lollapalooza tour, and I thought, ‘for one summer I would like go out and put on my own show’ mixing music and action sports. With the support of so many people, I have now spent the last 23 summers bringing that show to a city near you. We have brought that show to over 11 million people around the world and watched that same world change while doing so.

I have been proud to work with so many artists who have grown to be some of the largest stars in the world. Countless bands have played in hot parking lots and through summer storms for you at some point.

Bands like Quicksand, Sublime, L7, No Use for A Name and No Doubt jumped on in the very first year.

Touring many summers with my friends and peers like – Pennywise, Social Distortion, NOFX, Bad Religion, The Descendents, Less Than Jake, Dropkick Murphy’s, The Bouncing Souls, Rancid, Flogging Molly, Anti-Flag and The Offspring are just some of my fondest memories. More include, having Blink-182 travel on my bus in 1997 when the world opened up to them and made them the superstars they are today.

The Vans Warped Tour was the platform to witness the rise of pop punk with Sum 41, Simple Plan, MXPX, New Found Glory and Good Charlotte.

The birth of Emo – with bands like Thrice, Thursday, The Used, Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line, Motion City Soundtrack and Jimmy Eat World.

Fast-forward to the summer in 2005 when TRL and Warped Tour helped launch the careers of Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Avenged Sevenfold.

I witnessed Warped alumni like The Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, No Doubt and even Kid Rock play the Super Bowl. I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing Green Day play the Rose Bowl.

More recently, I’ve watched bands start out on a small stage and work their way up to the main stages by meeting as many fans as possible and continuing to hone their craft while on the tour. Bands like Paramore, A Day To Remember, Sleeping With Sirens, Pierce The Veil, Echosmith, Motionless in White, Black Veil Brides, Every Time I Die, Neck Deep, Beartooth and so many more.

What has always made me proud was when I read that Warped was the most diverse show of the summer where you could find Eminem and Ice-T on the same stages as Sevendust, Pennywise, and 7 Seconds.

I am so grateful to have worked with more than 1,700 bands over the last 23 summers. I wish I could thank every band that has played the tour.

The Vans Warped Tour has become the community I had always hoped for. We have worked with over 90 non-profits each summer shining a light on new and growing groups giving our community the resources they need to connect with people who can help them, but also encourages our community to help each other. To Write Love on Her Arms, Music Saves Lives, Feed The Children Now, Keep a Breast, Hope For The Day, Canvas Foundation, Living The Dream and A Voice for the Innocent have built their organizations from the Warped Tour parking lots across the country. This even inspired me to start my own foundation Unite the United.

The work we do each summer on “give back days” has become part of our DNA. My brain is etched with the image of the church ladies after Katrina serving beans and rice to The Casualties with their upright mohawks, finding a common ground where no one was judging anyone. Then finding out the only working business in the county seemed to be the moonshine still and the locals showing up with a crate to share with the crew later that evening.

The long hot days that ended around a BBQ with food, drink and more music are some of the best times. Enjoying the days off, taking people jet boating, house boating, river rafting and sometimes even skydiving. I witnessed lifelong friendships being made, sparks of romance that led to ‘Warped weddings,’ and unfortunately now, more notices of passings where a proper good bye was not able to be said.

I want to thank my supportive family who has been through the highs and lows, Darryl Eaton at CAA, Steve Van Doren and Vans, Kate, Julie, Allison and Steph. My hard ass working crew who puts that show up and down each day, the sponsors which without them this tour would not happen, the bands and their crews, the promoters who took a risk on us at the beginning and continue to be supportive.

It will be bittersweet each morning when I see the sun rise and then watch it set knowing that this will be the last time I get to witness it from that exact spot.

Though the tour and the world have changed since ’95, the same feeling of having the ‘best summer ever’ will live on through the bands, the production teams, and the fans that come through at every stop.

The enduring spirit of the Vans Warped Tour remains as bright as ever, continuing to inspire creativity and ambition in new and exciting ways as we prepare for a 25th anniversary celebration in 2019.

I truly look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during this final cross country run, and getting to thank you for your support on this wild adventure. Until then, take care and be safe.” – Kevin Lyman (Founder of the Vans Warped Tour)

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Making Sense of Last Week’s Jesse Lacey News

Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years wrote a line in the song “Hoodie Weather” that says, “Growing up means watching my heroes turn human in front of me”.

Never did that line ring truer for me than this past weekend when I heard about Jesse Lacey’s complete and utter abuse of his influence.

It’s one thing to make a mistake as large as soliciting sexual activity from a minor, but it’s another thing to make that mistake and not own up to it publicly. As a person who has completely changed the face of alternative music, Jesse should have taken the initiative to speak clearly about his past in his recent statement.

Keeping up appearances is no longer an excuse these days. Jesse Lacey changed people’s lives when he committed acts of both misconduct and, quite frankly, pedophilia. As a female who has experienced only the lowest forms of sexual harassment, I can only imagine what these women are going through as they re-hash emotions and pain that Lacey has caused.

Lacey’s statement on the matter only turns me away from him even more. He focused only on his part of the story, seemingly vying for pity from readers. He made little mention of anything that could be taken as concrete evidence and convict him further.

So, where do we go from here? As both fans and musicians, I think the biggest thing we can do is give complete and utter support to the victims of these emotional and physical attacks. As difficult as it can be to let go of artists whose music has helped us through the darkest times in our lives, we need to be cognizant of how those same artists have been the cause of dark times in others’ lives.

Just yesterday, the band Knuckle Puck had the band With Confidence removed from their upcoming tour. The guitarist for With Confidence, Luke Rockets, has been accused of being sexually involved with a minor and has been released from the band. Later in the day, Kyle Pavone of We Came as Romans was accused of physically assaulting a woman at a music festival.

This is just the beginning. As we begin to realize the frequency and severity of these types of happenings in the entertainment world and beyond, it’s time to stand up for the victims and demand change.

Unfortunately, single voices are rarely a catalyst for change. It’s time we unite our voices against this type of behavior. I charge those in the scene who have large, influential voices to stand up to these people who seem to think that, because their names are in the largest font on a tour poster, they are exempt from taking responsibility for the mistakes they make and the lives they affect.

People may make mistakes. But for Jesse Lacey and other band members in his same situation, it’s time to face the music. It’s time to take responsibility and be proactive in taking care of the problem. It’s time for this lack of self-control to end and simple human decency to take precedent in our music scene.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Podcast: Building an Online Music Community with Jason Tate of Chorus.fm

On our latest podcast, Jason Tate joins Kiel Hauck to share what he’s learned in the year since moving AbsolutePunk.net to Chorus.fm and why the move made so much sense. Jason shares insight on how he built a built a successful online music community, how online dialogue can continue to improve, and the changes he’s seen over the past two decades. Jason also discusses some of the best music of 2017 and his approach to creating end of the year lists. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What are some of your favorite online music communities and what makes them special? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Podcast: The Art of Music Criticism with PopMatters’ Evan Sawdey

On our latest episode of It’s All Dead, Kiel Hauck is joined by PopMatters Interviews Editor Evan Sawdey to discuss the art of the album review and the role of pop music in 2017’s social conversations. Evan also shares stories of some of his best (and worst) interviews at PopMatters, how the site has retained its cultural relevance and impactful voice through the years, and tells us about his podcast, The Chartographers. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What do you look for in an album review? What matters most? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Reflecting On: Kanye West – Graduation

Graduation could easily be considered the weakest of Kanye West’s seven solo albums. That should tell you something about the music of Kanye West. When I want to sit and solemnly reflect on what it means to be a creative human being while wrestling with inner demons, I listen to Kanye’s masterpiece: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. When I have a house party and want to turn the vibe to 11, I throw on Graduation. That should also tell you something about the music of Kanye West.

Graduation is an album meant to be heard en masse, blasted through arena speakers. This is not Kanye’s strong suit. Nevertheless, Graduation is the best example we have of what an arena rap album would sound like, and the unlikely guiding light that provided inspiration for a new generation of hip hop artists.

The most common narrative attached to Graduation is that it hammered the final nail into the gangsta rap coffin. This is true. I, like you, purchased Graduation instead of 50 Cent’s Curtis on September 11, 2007, putting an end to the final gasps of a subgenre that had served a great purpose. In truth, gangsta rap had already received its notice by the time The College Dropout hit shelves in 2004, but because of the faux 50/Kanye beef, Graduation will always be remembered in this way.

But for true fans of Kanye West, this new album was more than just a cultural statement – it was a complete transition from the soul-inspired, backpack rap that permeated his first two records. Graduation is a frenzied party thrown by its creator in celebration of the fame and attention rightly garnered by those first two albums. Graduation is a true pop album, and as such, it includes the best and worst parts of the genre.

When Graduation is at its best, it allows us to roll down the windows, turn up the volume, and lose ourselves in indulgence and excitement (“Stronger”, “Good Life”). When Graduation is at its most thoughtful, it finds Ye digging at shortcomings that would spill into the heavy subject matter of 808s & Heartbreak and Fantasy (“Can’t Tell Me Nothing”). At its worst, Graduation devolves into reckless, nonsensical revelry and braggadocio (“Barry Bonds”, “Drunk and Hot Girls”).

With the hindsight of four more groundbreaking solo albums and a lifetime’s worth of controversy and public scrutiny, Graduation appears in a much different light than it did a decade ago. It’s a collection of songs by a man desperate for attention and adoration. It is also a collection of songs by a genius who began to show early signs of an unparalleled ability to tap into the in-the-moment cultural zeitgeist. Graduation was the perfect sound for 2007 – something that is somehow even more obvious when reflecting on it today.

As a pop album, Graduation excels in terms of electrifying production. As a Kanye West album, it finds ways to poke through the strobe lights and inflict us with conundrums. On the opening lines of the bass and synth-heavy “Flashing Lights”, Ye raps, “She don’t believe in shooting stars / But she believe in shoes and cars”. This is a clever nod to an old country song by Don Williams and a hilarious callback to West’s breakthrough smash “Gold Digger”. It is also an indictment on Kanye’s sometimes-fickle fan base.

Throughout Graduation, West creates these moments of sublime juxtaposition, forcing us to involuntarily dance as he wryly drops knowledge. When he turns trivial, well, who cares when the beats are hot? If an album like Fantasy is a lesson in picking up the pieces and evaluating one’s life journey, Graduation is the killer party full of dumb or embarrassing moments that still taught us a thing or two. Moreover, many of the album’s most frivolous themes take on a new light when dissected through the lens of Yeezus.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m glad we have Graduation, with its Daft Punk production, goofy artwork, T-Pain autotune, silly rhymes, and fleeting moments of brilliance. I’m happy because it’s a time capsule that marks a shift in our understanding of hip hop in the mainstream conversation. I’m happy because it continued an unlikely sonic progression in Ye’s career that persists to this day. But I’m mostly happy because it’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to, even 10 years later.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

10 Halloween Songs to Bump in the Night

The-Devil-Wears-Prada-zombie

October is in full swing, and soon, we’ll all be clad in our favorite costumes, celebrating the spookiest of holidays. To get you ready for your next Halloween bash, we’ve put together a monstrous list of the most terrifying pop punk and post-hardcore songs to ever walk the earth.

Throughout the years, several bands from the scene have taken the opportunity to tell chilling tales set to the sounds of squealing guitars and drum fills. We think it all makes for the perfect brew – a frightening soundtrack of Halloween terror. So go ahead and listen, if you dare. These songs are so good, it’s scary.

Showbread – “Dead By Dawn”

What better way to indulge in Halloween revelry than with a screamo portrayal of “Evil Dead 2?” Showbread, forever a band with a flair for the dramatic (and a love of horror movies), unleashes a terrifying tale of the Book of the Dead and the subsequent mayhem that ensues.

Sleeping with Sirens – “Dead Walker Texas Ranger”

Sleeping with Sirens made their entry into the post-hardcore Halloween canon with a song inspired by “The Walking Dead.” Here, the band advises us to run for our lives and “Watch as your greatest fears return to life.” Look out! They’re right behind you!

The Devil Wears Prada – “Outnumbered”

Speaking of the undead, The Devil Wears Prada have something to say with their five-song Zombie EP. On “Outnumbered”, the band depict a fallen world overrun with the living dead, backlit by brutal breakdowns. If the frightening tale won’t crush you, the music will.

Panic! at the Disco – “This is Halloween”

Want something a touch more light-hearted? Brendan Urie and co. are here with a rendition from everyone’s favorite Tim Burton tale. Panic! capture the mischief and magic of Jack Skellington on this frightfully fun track.

He Is Legend – “Attack of the Dungeon Witch”

Another band with a knack for scary stories, He Is Legend tell the tale of a violently vile antagonist that appears to cast a spell of charm. “I drank with the dungeon witch / Left my ring on her night stand / I woke with the dungeon witch / Now she’s got the upper hand”.

My Chemical Romance – “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”

For a band that made a living off of dark stories of revenge and death, it’s hard to pick just one song by My Chemical Romance that fits the Halloween mold. Before he shouted Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge or marched along with The Black Parade, Gerard Way sang of the allure of bloodsucking monsters.

The Maine – “Forever Halloween”

With Forever Halloween, The Maine took a lighter approach to the spooky holiday season. On the album’s title track, we’re told that the bumps in the night are nothing to be afraid of: “And darling, don’t you start to scream / It doesn’t mean anything / It’s just make believe”.

AFI – “Halloween”

The Misfits were certainly a band custom made for Halloween and AFI beautifully encapsulates that spirit on their cover of “Halloween”. Another band that knows their way around the darkness, AFI rip through this track for their All Hallow’s EP as Davey Havok sounds like a man on fire.

Fall Out Boy – “What’s This?”

You could argue “What’s This?” as more of a Christmas song, but its inclusion as a vital piece of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” soundtrack makes it eligible for this list. Plus, who could resist the sounds of Patrick Stump crooning, “Instead of screams, I swear / I can hear music in the air”.

Showbread – “George Romero Will Be at Our Wedding”

Our list wouldn’t be complete without one more song from Showbread as they pay homage to horror genius George Romero. Here, Josh Dies sings from the perspective of a man-turned zombie in search of his love. “If true love lasts forever, then love doesn’t die / It just becomes the living dead”. How romantic!

BONUS! Kanye West – “Monster”

What’s scarier than “Sasquatch, Godzilla, King Kong, Loch Ness”? How about a dark track in which ‘Ye, Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj all embrace their inner monster? In fact, if Nicki’s blood-curdling shriek at the end of her manic verse doesn’t send chills down your spine, you may want to literally check your pulse.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.