Quick Thoughts on The Summer Set’s Indefinite Hiatus

The first time I heard The Summer Set, I knew the scene had found its new crossover stars. Love Like This fit the syrupy pop punk mold that was fashionable at the time to a T. When their even poppier sophomore album, Everything’s Fine, reached my mailbox for review in just two years later, it seemed it was only a matter of time until their big breakout.

I thought the same thing in 2013 upon the release of Legendary, an album that raced full steam ahead into radio pop territory, but despite a huge push from Fearless Records and a litany of worthy singles, didn’t latch onto a larger crowd. By the time the band released Stories for Monday last year before going silent for several months, the outcome was clear.

It was sad to hear of The Summer Set’s indefinite hiatus yesterday afternoon, considering how much potential this band has held since its inception. To linger on missed chances feels inappropriate, seeing as the band made some truly great music that I still spin, but it’s hard to still wonder, “What if?”

The Summer Set hit their stride at an exciting time in my writing career. My first big gig to cover and shoot featured the band opening for Yellowcard and All Time Low on the Dirty Work Tour. Later that summer, I was excited to share my review of Everything’s Fine in anticipation of the band’s big breakout. I’ve followed them as a critic and a fan since their beginnings.

I don’t have the answers for why The Summer Set didn’t reach the heights that some expected, but I have no doubt in the individual members’ talents. Jess Bowen remains one of the best drummers in our scene. Brian Dales still has a perfect voice and I’m not counting out his solo endeavors as DALES. I’ll still hold out some hope for an eventual reunion, even if it’s just for one last round of summer anthems.

In the meantime, as another summer fades and gives way to fall, I’ll cue up some of those standouts from early in the band’s career when the sky seemed the limit.

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.

Photo Credit: Jesse DeFlorio

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Julien Baker Releases Music Video for “Turn Out the Lights”

Just a mere two weeks away from her highly anticipated sophomore record Turn Out the Lights, Julien Baker has released a new music video for the album’s title track. “Turn Out the Lights” features a slow build toward its emotional, swirling ending, much like the album’s first single, “Appointments”.

Only 21 years old, Baker has quickly become masterful at emotive depictions of depression, loneliness and a search for hope. On her latest track, she searches for the courage to battle her demons alone, crying out, “When I turn out the lights / There’s no one left between myself and me”. Take a look at the video below:

All of the feels, right? You can preorder Turn Out the Lights at Matador Records’ online store. Are you excited for the new album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Pierce the Veil Release “Today I Saw the Whole World EP”

Pierce the Veil have released a short EP featuring their latest single, “Today I Saw the Whole World” along with an acoustic rendition of the song. “Today I Saw the Whole World” was included on last year’s album Misadventures and is one of the heavier tracks the band have penned (and arguably the best song on the album).

Thus, it’s exciting to hear an acoustic version of the track, which features a delicate acoustic guitar and scaled back vocals from Vic Fuentes. Whereas the original version finds venom in Fuentes’ words, this new acoustic rendition displays a broken soul. Vic’s opening lines of, “Baby, pour over / Tell me are we concrete? / What would you do without my perfect company to your undressed spine?” feel desperate instead of determined.

The best acoustic tracks tend to dig into new emotions that full band versions can’t completely capture, and “Today I Saw the Whole World” certainly excels. Take a listen below:

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Podcast: The Best Music of Autumn

Another fall season is upon us, which means it’s time to break out the hoodies, crack open a few Oktoberfest beers, and enjoy some of our favorite autumn music. On our latest podcast episode, Kiel and Kyle chat about the favorite albums to spin when fall rolls around and why they’re so nostalgic for the season. They also discuss what makes for a great autumn album and share some of their favorite seasonal activities. Bands included in the conversation include: Mayday Parade, The Early November, Anberlin, AFI and more!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What is your favorite album to listen to in autumn? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Vinyl Spotlight: Paramore – After Laughter

Every so often, our resident vinyl lover, Kiel Hauck, takes the time to talk about a recent vinyl release and gives a breakdown about everything from packaging to sound quality. Here’s his latest installment.

I collect and play vinyl year round, but there’s something about the fall season that just makes records sound better. Thus, it’s no surprise that one of my favorite albums from this spring is quickly becoming an autumn staple on my turntable.

Paramore’s After Laughter was a triumphant return for the band and a perfect pivot to syrupy synthpop. While quickly being lauded as one of 2017’s best albums upon its spring release, fans of the band had to wait to hear the record on vinyl as pre-orders weren’t available until mid-summer. However, just as with the four years between the band’s self-titled and After Laughter, the vinyl release was worth the wait.

Packaging and Presentation

Paramore helped soothe the wait for After Laughter vinyl by offering multiple variants for fans to choose from, including 1,000 records on teal marble, 2,000 on orange and white available only at Urban Outfitters, 4,000 on pink marble, and another 10,000 on black and white marble available at retail stores. Because of its consistency with the album art, I chose the pink variant and was pleasantly surprised by its brightness upon opening the record.

The gatefold packaging features animated artwork of the trio that matches the scattered shapes and colors of the album cover. However, there isn’t much to look at aside from an album art-themed sleeve to hold the record itself. After Laughter certainly stands out from the rest of the band’s catalogue in terms of artwork and matches the sound of the album, but this release could have included a bit more inside.

Sound and Quality

Album art aside, After Laughter is a pleasure to listen to on wax. I was reminded of Chvrches’ 2015 release Every Open Eye with its rich, layered synthesizers and deep bass lines. Both of these pressings are great examples of what can be accomplished on non-180 gram pressings. After Laughter sounds clean and crisp in this format.

I decided to first spin the record with several friends in attendance at our house, all of whom enjoyed the album and noted how smooth the band sounded. Only one track, the Aaron Weiss-led “No Friend”, garnered somewhat negative feedback. Already an odd fit on the album, Weiss’ vocals feel even more buried on this vinyl release, creating a disjointed feel before the album’s somber closing track, “Tell Me How”.

Still, it’s hard to complain about having one of the year’s best albums finally on vinyl. After Laughter is a beautiful, painful and complex listen and is best heard in full, making this a great format for the experience. If you’re interested in snagging a vinyl copy of your own, the black and white marble variant is still available through the band’s website.

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.

Podcast: Interview with Dissect’s Cole Cuchna

Now in its second season, Dissect has quickly become one of the most popular music podcasts in the country by offering a thoughtful, nuanced, track-by-track look at two classic hip hop albums. On our latest podcast, Kiel Hauck talked with its creator and host, Cole Cuchna, about his process for creating the show and his surprise at its rapid growth. Cuchna also shares some powerful thoughts on the importance of empathy, the legacy of Kanye West, and why hip hop is such a powerful art form. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here. If you haven’t listened to Dissect, you can check out this extremely compelling serialized music podcast here.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

(Lead photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Reflecting On: Chiodos – Bone Palace Ballet

By the fall of 2007, Chiodos had established themselves as one of the premiere post-hardcore bands on the planet. The band’s sophomore album, Bone Palace Ballet, fully harnessed the potential displayed on their debut and landed at #5 on the Billboard 200, transitioning the band from lively up-and-comers to a full-fledged headlining rock act.

Unfortunately for Chiodos, intervening years have hijacked the band’s narrative. Ensuing drama, inner turmoil, member turnover, news headlines, and the band’s own mystique have shadowed much of the music, namely the brilliance of Bone Palace Ballet. There’s an argument to made that it’s one of the most criminally underrated albums in scene history.

You can buy “Bone Palace Ballet” on iTunes.

Chiodos’ debut, All’s Well That Ends Well, was a firecracker of raw energy that put the band’s name on the tip of everyone’s tongue. For their follow-up, the band channeled that passion into a more controlled and polished body of work while expanding on their sound in exciting new ways. It’s still easy to hear the band’s signature chaos across ripping guitar riffs from Jason Hale and manic keyboard lines from Bradley Bell, but several new tricks provided a world of new possibilities.

Just under a year after My Chemical Romance dropped their smash rock opera The Black Parade, Chiodos followed suit with their own dramatic display, capitalizing on frontman Craig Owens’ theatrical performance. Bone Palace Ballet is chock full of rich, over-the-top melody and drama, highly inspired by poems from Charles Bukowski and others. On All’s Well, Owens made a name for himself with a wild, spastic delivery, and while his screams carry even more power on Ballet, his purposefully over-dramatic vocal inflections would become his calling card.

Yet it would have been possible for all of this to fall flat if not for the swirl of unexpected sounds underneath. Blended into the mix were full orchestral arrangements that somehow made sense alongside crashing guitars and drums. A string section carries the first 30 seconds of “Life is a Perception of Your Own Reality” before Owens crashes through the door with, “I’d like to take this time to detach my jaw”. A myriad of horns blast along with the chorus of “Lexington. (Joey Pea-Pot with a Monkeyface)”.

Think on this: Chiodos juxtaposed ragtime pop with their own personal brand of convulsive post-hardcore and the resulting product was a smashing success. How many bands since have attempted to blend in these kinds of theatrics and come anywhere close to something as powerful as “Is it Progression if a Cannibal Uses a Fork?” The chances taken on Bone Palace Ballet allowed the band to explore new territory without it ever feeling like a jump of the proverbial shark.

Credit producer Casey Bates with helping the band find balance. At times on Ballet, it feels as if even one more additional instrument could bring a whole song crashing down. Still, for all of the fully-loaded tracks on the album, Chiodos still finds time to deliver some of their softest (“A Letter from Janelle”, “Intensity in Ten Cities”) and heaviest (“Teeth the Size of Piano Keys”, “The Undertaker’s Thirst for Revenge is Unquenchable”) songs. By the time Owens croons, “All the world’s a stage / I existed because I dreamed and, well, I dream no more” near the albums somber conclusion, it feels as though you’ve experienced every sound and mood a heavy rock album could hope to offer.

With Chiodos now decidedly disbanded, it feels like the conversation around the band focuses on squandered potential. I’d argue otherwise. Certainly, fans of the band would love to have gotten another album or two before they said farewell, but the quality of the output across their four albums is certainly undeniable. In fact, I’d hear an argument for any of the four releases as Chiodos’ best.

At the end of the day, though, Bone Palace Ballet stands as a beacon of the best parts of Chiodos – chaotic, melodramatic, fantastical. It’s still a spectacle to behold 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.

Podcast: The Evolving Local Music Scene with Nuvo’s Kat Coplen

On the latest episode of our podcast, Kiel Hauck is joined by Nuvo Magazine editor Kat Coplen to discuss the blossoming local music and festival scene in Indianapolis. Coplen also shares insight into how the city can improve in attracting outside bands and artists and why the voice of an alt weekly like Nuvo is vital in helping local artists and endeavors thrive. Coplen also discusses some of her favorite albums and music so far in 2017. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here and follow Kat on Twitter here.

How are you seeing the local music scene in your city evolve? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

The Redemptive Colors of Kesha’s “Rainbow”

The first time I heard a Kesha song, I was with my kid sister. I remember laughing together at the whimsically dark yet silly lyrics, “Maybe I need some rehab—or maybe just need some sleep…”

This was back in the day when my sister and I would dance in front of our shared bathroom mirror to whatever DJ iPod played. Meticulously, we pinned and curled our hair as we danced. Delicately, we’d paint our faces with CoverGirl and Maybelline colors of cultural uniformity. And this we thought would make us stand out—beautiful.

You can buy Rainbow on iTunes.

Over the last several years, I’ve dealt with guilt over the example I helped set for my sister. How was I defining what it meant to be a woman? To have self worth? Seven years later, as I become reacquainted with Kesha through her new album Rainbow, I can’t help but revisit these standards that I had so wrong.

To set the scene appropriately, my knowledge of Kesha back in 2010 came only through the kitschy yet fun, often spoken verses shared on pop radio. I never dug fully into her artistic repertoire. Nor did I have knowledge beyond passing comments of the more recent hell she went through with infamous producer Dr. Luke. Until about a month ago.

My husband encouraged me to listen to Kesha’s single, “Praying”. To say this song demanded my attention is an understatement. The melodic power I was hearing begged me to sing the words I did not yet know, and yet the emotion behind the lyrics gripped my vocal chords to pained silence. From that moment, I could not help but get to know Rainbow and the history that made it.

Kesha’s long awaited reintroduction into pop culture is an opus of anthems for the outcasts—the repressed—the weirdoes. With every track, she celebrates individuality and tells the haters where they can stick it—in the most mature way possible. Tis a sonic spectrum as varied in color and mood as the refracted light of the album’s namesake.

Starting with “Bastards”, you almost feel like you’re sitting by the campfire with the carefree artist and her guitar as she encourages you to chuckle over how crappy life can be. You sing along and embrace that you can overcome it. Then, after an almost Beatles-esque, syllable-sing-along of a bridge, you jump to the poppy “Let Em Talk” to the country funk “Woman” to the synthesized “Hymn” to the power ballad “Praying”… If that’s not enough variety for you, just wait for that Johnny Cash sound of “Hunt You Down” or the Dolly Parton cameo of “Old Flames” or the silly guitar waltz behind “Godzilla”.

Photo Credit: Olivia Bee

Despite all this acoustic variety, Kesha’s themes are nothing but strong and consistent, and they speak of a newfound strength and consistency she wants to share. First off, it is damn good to be a woman, and we ladies do not have to have a man to feel strong. “Woman” was reportedly born from Kesha’s outraged response to Trump’s pre-presidency abomination of a comment about the fairer sex. The lyric content celebrates a woman’s financial independence, almost rebuking man’s involvement, spouting, “I don’t need a man to be holding me too tight”. Interspersed throughout the song are clips of laughter tracks, hinting just what Kesha thinks of men who think otherwise. Add to that her adopting parts of male anatomy as her own in “Let Em Talk” and taking on a female version of the traditional outlaw country song with “Hunt You Down”, and it’s obvious that Kesha has no qualms promoting women’s equality.

While frustration and anger are present in these lyrical undertones, Rainbow also paints Kesha as working hard to process past resentments in the healthiest way she knows how. From the Dr. Luke news alone, we have a small picture of the hell she’s been living. In “Praying”, Kesha lays it all bare without speaking a word of what actually happened. The song echoes with her justified anger, but instead of exposing “all the truth [she] could tell”, she dynamically closes the door on all that hate. She leaves the offender to find his own peace with the only one who can actually grant it. In “Learn to Let Go”, the track that immediately follows, we see Kesha transcend the victim mindset, taking her own advice that “Life ain’t always fair, but hell is living in resentment / Choose redemption; your happy ending’s up to you”.

When feminism is married to the awful things that can happen to a woman—whether in our world or in the tracks of an album—a woman cannot help but battle for and eventually celebrate her own self worth. On this third theme, Kesha most certainly delivers. And she invites all those who feel marginalized to the party. With the opening sing-along “Bastards”, Kesha strikes a chord with anyone who has felt “underestimated [their] entire life”, and reminds them not to let the jerks who give us that message win. “Hymn” lifts up the outcasts and the oppressed, singing praise to their perfection amidst life’s mess. Then, the album’s title track encircles the realization that “what’s left of [Kesha’s] heart’s still made of gold” and extends the invitation to anyone who needs the same self-realization to “come and paint the world with [her] tonight”.

All this weight, and yet Kesha is still able to embrace the silly side of her that had my sister and me bouncing around in front of the mirror seven years ago. (If you need proof of this, just take a listen to “Godzilla” and think on its impish genius.) Listening today, I wish my sis and I had been painting ourselves then with Kesha’s Rainbow palette. I wish we had realized earlier the promise that we are beautiful women—even, if not especially, in the messed up moments. But hey. There’s still time to paint the world a different color.

by Jennifer Hauck

jennifer_hauck Jennifer Hauck lives with her highly musically-inclined hubby in Indianapolis, Indiana. She loves puppies, coffee, Indian food, the stage and the lost art of snail mail. While she’s never been a formal music critic, she has studied and respects the power of the pen and still reaches for it occasionally.

Taylor Swift Drops New Song “Look What You Made Me Do”

It’s here! Last night, Taylor Swift dropped the first single from her new album, Reputation. The new song, titled “Look What You Made Me Do”, is a dark dance-pop track that takes aim at her enemies, in particular, Kanye West and Katy Perry. Co-written with Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, “Look What You Made Me Do” gives us a glimpse into what could be a much darker affair when her album drops on November 10. Take a listen to the new song below:

You can preorder Reputation through a variety of outlets.

What do you think of the new song? Are you hoping for more of the same on Reputation? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck