Podcast: Interview with Kevin Klein of Valleyheart


Friday marks the release of Heal My Head, the new album from Massachusetts alt rock trio Valleyheart. Vocalist and guitarist Kevin Klein joined us on the show to chat with our own Nadia Alves about the band’s sonic progression on this new record and what inspired them to explore new territory. Klein also shares about his songwriting process and how exploring past trauma allowed himself and the band to tap into new and powerful stories that serve as the heartbeat of Heal My Head. Take a listen, and then go snag the album on Friday!

Pre-order Heal My Head here.

Subscribe to our Podcast on Apple or Spotify

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Reflecting On: The Killers – Hot Fuss

It wasn’t until after I saw The Killers that I realized how much I enjoyed their music. They played in Boston for their farewell tour and I literally hopped in the car with my friends when someone couldn’t make the show. It’s still the best spontaneous thing I’ve done. After the show, I embarked on a Killers journey, which I started to chronicle on Twitter, but then stopped bothering everyone with it, as one does. I listened to each album in chronological order – one album a day – to find out my favorite album. And, no pun intended, 2004’s Hot Fuss came out on top.

You can buy or stream Hot Fuss on Apple Music.

It’s hard to believe that one of alternative’s most important albums could be 15 years old, but here we are. The Killers were a band way ahead of their time in 2004, cranking out songs that were both radio friendly and edgy enough for those youths looking for the next big thing. “Mr. Brightside” continues to dominate charts 15 years later, and that’s a real accomplishment. As of May, it was #93 in the Top 100 on the UK singles charts.

The album tells a heck of a story about a high school kid trying to make it work. “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” is (supposedly, but I wholeheartedly accept this conspiracy) the third in what’s known as the Murder Trilogy, in which Jenny has been murdered. The trilogy starts with “Leave the Bourbon On the Shelf”, which can be found in their 2007 B-sides album Sawdust, and continues with the Hot Fuss track “Midnight Show”. The other theory about the album is that the main character, personified by Brandon, is actually gay, and the motive for Jenny’s murder is the fact that the unnamed boy is secretly in love with Jenny’s boyfriend. They’re both plausible if you listen to the album, but I’ve always had a penchant for conspiracy theories, in music and otherwise.

So, why the heck are we all still listening to Hot Fuss? I’d venture to say that it’s both a mix of nostalgia and the fact that the album is truly timeless. I’m not trying to bash anyone, but Panic! At the Disco’s first album sounds very much like the year it was released in – 2005. The early 2000s were obsessed with creating something new and exciting, but I feel like The Killers were able to do it more efficiently. They created a musical experience that perfectly encapsulates growing up in a small town and feeling trapped. And yeah, of course we associate Hot Fuss with the year it came out, because for many listeners, it was a justification of the niche genre they had fallen in love with. It truly brought the alt scene to the mainstream.

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.

Artist to Watch: Wallows

Unlike my husband, it took me a solid year to get in line with the vibes Wallows has been putting out. He immediately jumped on board with their late 80’s/early 90’s-inspired rock and roll, but for some reason, I didn’t follow suit right away. They’ve since become a staple band for me, and their newest full length, Nothing Happens, has completely chained me to the Wallows train for good.

You can buy or stream Nothing Happens on Apple Music.

The band has been together since 2011, but one of the guys has since become famous for starring in Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” – which is something I really didn’t want to mention because we’re about the MUSIC here at It’s All Dead. However, one can’t deny the uptick in Spotify plays once the show was released. Just so we’re clear, I’m of the belief that fame from other avenues doesn’t matter if your music is good. I’m just salty because I can’t get tickets to their Boston show and want someone (Netflix) to blame.

Their music IS good and I wish their rise in popularity wasn’t so closely tied with TV but here we are. Nothing Happens, is energetic, like their other singles and EPs, touching on interpersonal relationships and waxing nostalgic about the days of their youth. With the album, though, I feel like they really took the opportunity of having our attention for 11 whole songs to build some rapport in the maturity field.

Thematically the album touches on things like adolescence (“Treacherous Doctor”), and how touchy a new relationship is (“Are You Bored Yet”). It’s relatable and bouncy in just the right ways. If you’re in your early 20s, like the guys in Wallows, this album is definitely for you. It’s a picture of how we navigate our ever changing world, and how we really don’t navigate it that well sometimes. Either way, I know it will be at the top of many summer playlists this year.

Photo credit: Alexis Gross

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.

Review: AWOLNATION – Here Come the Runts

If you’re anything like me, your interest in AWOLNATION stopped at their hit song “Sail”, never really delving any deeper into their discography. I have searched for years to try and find a better way of organizing what I should be listening to, but I haven’t found the perfect system yet, so things fall through the cracks. That’s what happened between AWOLNATION and I – no hard feelings – just an overwhelming sense of having to listen to anything and everything. I’m happy to say that this is something that will no longer happen. AWOLNATION and I are fast friends because of their latest album, Here Come the Runts.

You can buy Here Come the Runts on iTunes.

I’m always skeptical of listening to a band’s newest album without doing a bit of research, (aka listening to the rest of their discography), but I didn’t have to worry about that with this album. It’s somehow simultaneously what to expect from Aaron Bruno and a complete surprise. It’s jumbled, it’s loud and it works. The first (and title) track is raucous and chaotic, yet doesn’t set the tone for the album. It goes all over the place and is as interesting as it is entertaining.

My favorite song from the album is without a doubt the lead single, “Passion”. Look for it on my summer playlist, folks. It’s got a great energy and it stands out, reaching out to old fans who may have put AWOLNATION on the back burner, as if to say, “Hey guys, we’ve still got it!” It also draws new people (me) in and displays just how talented this band is.

Lead vocalist Aaron Bruno is the only original member left in the band. They’ve had a rocky couple of years in this regard, losing members left and right for all manner of reasons. To me, this should signal the end of a band’s golden era, but it doesn’t seem to mean that for Bruno. This is the band’s best release out of their three albums.

The song “Sail” from Megalithic Symphony is seven years old at this point, and I think it was time for something fresh. I hadn’t really heard too much about their second album, Run. I knew it existed but the buzz around it died so quickly I felt like I never got a chance to focus on it. With Here Come the Runts, Aaron Bruno gives a collection of songs that refuse to be ignored. They stand perfectly fine on their own, but come together in a dynamic way when listened in full.

That being said, the one double-edged sword with this album is its length. I’m sure I’ll confuse everyone when I say that while each song is necessary, each song isn’t totally necessary. Maybe it’s just me falling into our culture’s trend of short attention spans, but 14 tracks feels a bit lengthy on this album. (Personally, I think 11 to 12 would have been the sweet spot.) So, yes, it takes a while to get through, but it’s a rewarding experience once you do. Make sense?

To say that this is a great album is an understatement. In my opinion, AWOLNATION has returned with an offering that hopefully only compounds their success. This has definitely come into my rotation for a while, and I think this could be a great start to a new, unique part of AWOLNATION’s career.


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.

Thursday Spotlight: Eat Your Heart Out

You know that feeling you get when you hear a band with a fresh sound that sounds both completely new and familiar? That’s the feeling that Newcastle, Australia five-piece Eat Your Heart out provide. After signing with Fearless Records earlier this year, the band released their brand new EP Carried Away.

The up-and-coming alt-rock act combines crisp, melodic pop sounds with grungy guitars, courtesy of Andrew Anderson and Will Moore, and a powerful rhythm section featuring Dom Cant on bass and Jake Cronin on drums. Vocalist Caitlin Henry pushes things over the top with her emotive delivery – think All We Know is Falling-era Paramore combined with the edgier side of Armor for Sleep.

In addition to Carried Away, the band recently showcased their knack for melody by covering Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” for the latest Punk Goes Pop compilation. If those opening guitars don’t grab your attention, just wait until Henry tears into the track’s chorus.

If you like what you hear, you can buy the Carried Away EP on iTunes as we await a full-length debut album announcement from the band. Stay up to date by following the Eat Your Heart Out on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Third Eye Blind Stand the Test of Time

In the summer of 1997, I purchased an album with my own money. As a kid who was about to enter his 8th grade year, this was a big deal, considering that my income consisted of earnings from mowing lawns. In those days, I was lucky to have the nearly $20 required to purchase a compact disc from Sam Goody.

I purchased Third Eye Blind’s debut self-titled album because, like everyone else that summer, I heard “Semi-Charmed Life” endlessly on the radio and fell in love with a song filled with content far beyond my understanding. I loved the melody. I loved Stephan Jenkins’ offhand delivery. And most importantly, I loved that my mom wasn’t really into it.

Two decades later, Third Eye Blind is still one of my favorite records, even though my innocence has worn away and I rarely find myself enchanted with the carefree “doo doo doos” of life. In the time since the summer before 8th grade, songs like “Losing a Whole Year” and “Narcolepsy” have come to hold actual, painful meaning.

Needless to say, the feelings are complicated when the lights go up and Jenkins croons, “Losing a whole year” just before the guitars spill out of the monitors at White River State Park in Indianapolis.

Silversun Pickups

Jenkins and drummer Brad Hargreaves are the only remaining members from those early days of the band, as the past 20 years have brought their share of turmoil. Regardless, it’s hard not to be impressed with Third Eye Blind’s resilience and relevance, especially when considering the fate of so many of their peers. The Summer Gods Tour is a celebration the band’s debut, but also feels like a victory lap for Jenkins.

Silversun Pickups are along for the ride this summer, serving as a shining example of where indie rock has exceled in the wake of the 90s. In fact, you could argue the success of bands like Silversun Pickups as offering a platform for Third Eye Blind’s revival in the latter part of the last decade. Their set offers the perfect bridge to the night’s main act.

Summer Gods is a reference from the song “Weightless” from last year’s We Are Drugs EP and opens the set with Third Eye Blind occupying a stage at the back of the actual stage. It’s a Jenkins move, to be sure, but on this night, photographers are invited to spend the entire set in the pit, dispelling any fear of getting a good shot. By the time the band’s six-song intro is finished, Jenkins stands alone at the front of the stage. We watch with our cameras down as he gives a slightly hyperbolic but heartfelt speech about the impact of his debut.

Third Eye Blind

Until you witness these songs in this setting, it’s easy to forget the magnitude of this album. Every damn song is a hit, but not in a mindless sense. Many of us can remember the real conversations we had about the meaning of “Jumper” and how it impacted the way we treated those around us. We shouted along to “Graduate”, eager to move on to a new stage of life. “Motorcycle Drive By” became a bleeding-heart anthem for first breakups in the pre-Chris Carrabba days.

Each song pulsing into the summer night is another reminder of just how good this album is. It’s also a reminder of how hard it is to craft timeless music. The late 90s were littered with pop songs that sounded hollow in the years that followed. Jenkins, with his Gen-X indifference, drug references, and knack for flipping the light on dark subject matter in unexpected ways, has shrugged away the harsh reality of time, against nearly all odds.

In 1997, I didn’t expect to be listening to Third Eye Blind 20 years later. My foresight rarely expanded beyond the upcoming weekend. Nevertheless, it’s always nice when you can look back at a moment of your youth and be proud of your judgment, even if it was mostly superficial – 8th grade Kiel spent his $20 well.

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.

Hands Like Houses Sign to Hopeless Records, Release New Song

Yesterday, Australian rock act Hands Like Houses announced their signing to Hopeless Records with the release of a new song titled “Drift”. The announcement comes just over a year after their last release on Rise Records, Dissonants, a stellar album that would become one of the most unsung of 2016.

“Drift” sounds like the logical progression from that album, full of energy and fantastic vocal work from Trenton Woodley. There’s no word on a new album just yet, but you can watch a lyric video for “Drift” below and catch the band on this summer’s Vans Warped Tour.

What do you think of the new track? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

The Beautiful Evolution of The Fratellis

the_fratellisSeeing as how the Chicago Blackhawks just won their third Stanley Cup in the last six years, “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis is going to be played religiously across the city like a wind storm. And for good reason.

Aside from arguably being the best and most recognizable song in the band’s catalog, it’s a reminder that Scottish indie rock magicians The Fratellis have the ability to utterly dominate with their music, captivating a city as one unit in the opening chant to “Chelsea” at every goal. With a new album, Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied announced just weeks ago, it’s a good time to remind you why this is something to be excited about.

The Fratellis are a weird bag, as they don’t fit in any scene. The best description is that of being a mixture between the high energy and funk of Franz Ferdinand and the engaging experimental subtleties of Brand New. A fan of any genre of music will find something that they love within just a few songs of any album; The raw, explosive energy of any song from Costello Music, the acoustic ballads (complete with mandolin on at least one occasion), the unabashed love letter to rock from Here We Stand, or the intricate tongue-in-cheek storytelling lyrics that follow characters from song to song across most albums. Every song is unique and oozing enough Brit pop to make Noel Gallagher vomit in the garden.

What sets The Fratellis apart is something that few bands can truly accomplish but most envy: evolution. Their first album, Costello Music made such a name for them with loud, unseemly intricate guitar rock, highly memorable choruses and riffs designed specifically to make rooms of people in pubs sing along word for word. The problem is that most people simply stopped following them afterwards, thinking that nothing could top it. Instead of simply making the same record twice, their sound has continuously evolved towards a bluesified version of their iconic energy, grabbing different ideas from every corner around them.

Jon Fratelli’s side project, Codeine Velvet Club, took the rampaging guitars and melody of Costello Music and added jazz elements and a horn section, along with the seductively feminine, smokey ‘fifties’ vocals of Lou Hickey, while his solo material focused on lower production and the thundering rampage of two drummers. When The Fratellis reunited soon afterward, their followup album, We Need Medicine incorporated these ideas back into the three man unit and pushed them even further.

Their reunion record wasn’t so much a reformulation of their past material like so many other bands, but instead was an accumulation of everything that had come before it. The band has never cut corners when it comes to evolving as artists, despite making their name with a specific sound.

Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied has only one song out so far, and it is vastly different, yet again, from anything that has come before it. “Me and The Devil”, the first single from the new album, is driven by piano, heavy drums, subtle bass and even subtler guitar. Even compared to the band’s previous endeavors, it’s out there.

Jon’s vocals are mellowed, smooth, and surrealistically channeling Death Cab For Cutie. It’s nothing that you’d expect from them, but it romances you into a serenity while listening. While there’s no definitive idea of what the album will sound like, it’s exciting to know that it won’t be a repeat of anything they’ve done so far.

The Fratellis are a band that literally everyone should be paying attention to. Sooner or later, one of their songs will be perfectly suited just for you. Each album is an evolution in a continuing story of music so genuine, it’s hard to tell if anyone else out there is trying to keep up with them.

Tonight, and even tomorrow, let “Chelsea Dagger” play on repeat for hours on end. But if you take your finger off of the ‘repeat’ button for even one song, you’ll be glad you did.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and fell in love with the Blackhawks partially because “Chelsea Dagger” was their theme song. He’s followed The Fratellis since 2006 and obsesses over every line of every album, year after year like a zilch.

Review: Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/ American Psycho


If one thing has characterized Fall Out Boy’s return from their hiatus two years ago, it has been ‘going big.’ Save Rock & Roll was a bold step for a band that came back out of nowhere to appease a legion of fans expecting pop punk emo songs. Despite the complete upending of their signature sound, the style and glamor that made FOB famous was still there in the finesse.

American Beauty/ American Psycho takes every ingredient of Save Rock & Roll and amplifies them to the utmost degree. What results is an album that is either the band’s greatest achievement or the most abrasive listen for their fans.

Let’s get this out of the way: If you want Take This To Your Grave-era FOB, you will hate AB/AP. This isn’t for you. Fall Out Boy have crafted a pop album so epic, Maroon 5 should feel ashamed. There is a depth to the songs that seems impossible. The percussion and beats are hard and made to fill a dance floor. Spread over them is a sea of swarming guitars and synth, and some of the best bass Pete Wentz has put out there.

What’s amazing about AB/AP is that it’s such an eclectic mixture of styles. The entire album is at once cohesive and intensely diverse. Each song sounds ready to either fill a stadium or a dance floor, but the styles vary from song to song. “Irresistible” is a polished pop song with an over the top glam chorus, “Uma Thurman” is a surf rock inspired grinder and “Jet Pack Blues” is a somber ballad-esque jam. For as diverse as the album can be, it doesn’t sound as slapped together as parts of Save Rock & Roll, instead it shows the artistic foresight and planning of an album like Infinity on High.

FOB haven’t completely abandoned rock for pop. “Novocaine” is a grunge inspired song reminiscent of a blend of “Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet” and “From Now On We Are Enemies”. The guitar riffs are brutal but carry the soulfulness of early Fall Out Boy, followed by an insanely catchy but impossible to sing along to chorus (due to Patrick Stump’s high vocals).

“Favorite Record” is one of the least polished songs on the album, stripped of most of the production for parts of the song. It’s a light rock song carried with guitar riffs and a bouncing bass line that sounds like it was ripped out of the From Under The Cork Tree sessions and patched up with modern pop tones and rerecorded drums.

The only song that hit me wrong was the title track “American Beauty/ American Psycho”. On an album filled with variant styles, this song is unto itself something completely different. The abrasive beat and leveled bass lines can make the song a hard listen. I hated this song, I really did. After the first few listens though, it won me over and is now something I can’t resist wanting to dance to. Fucking Fall Out Boy…

Another thing that sets this album apart is the use of sampling other songs. For more detail on this, please see Alt Press. It’s an element that I noticed briefly, I don’t feel comfortable talking at length about it simply because I am unfamiliar with most of the sampled music and more than likely missed a majority of it.

Let’s talk Patrick Stump for a moment. He’s been the face of the band for over a decade now with a vocal range unlike anyone else in the scene (now the field). He shines so brightly on AB/AP that I can’t imagine how he’ll ever top this performance. Despite always being one of the best singers I could name, he still manages to utterly impress with how daring he is to explore the full extent of his vocal range. It’s hard for me not to say that he’s the shining star on the album.

The only downside to American Beauty/American Psycho is perhaps the lyricism. While they’re still expertly written and among Pete Wentz’s best, they still cover topics that we already know and expect from FOB. Wentz still pens expansive lines of self grandiosity brimming with sexual undertones, but they’re just done better. It’s not a bad thing, but it almost feels expected and standard fare at this point.

An example would be “The Kids Aren’t Alright” as Stump sings, “I’m not passive, but aggressive / Take note, it’s not impressive / Empty your sadness like you’re dumping your purse on my bedroom floor”. But there are glimpses of old school FOB shining through in the lyrics, as in the same song Stump sings, “I still feel that rush in my veins / It twists my head just a bit too thin / All those people in those old photographs I’ve seen are dead”.

“Novocaine” adds some truly punk inspiration to the pop sensibilities as it fights back against love songs in spectacular fashion with lines like “If you knew, knew what the bluebirds sing at you / You would never sing along / Cast them out ‘cause this is our culture”.

American Beauty/ American Psycho is an unimaginable mixture of what made us love Fall Out Boy years ago blended with electric modern style. In an era where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be a musician, FOB are storming ahead with such a confidence, it’s hard to ask for a return to their pop punk roots. American Beauty/American Psycho is one of the most punk rock messages in pop; they took the genre by storm, and better than the biggest pop acts. The worst part about this album is knowing how long the wait will be until the next one.


by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and refused to listen to FOB until sometime in 2007 because his ex-girlfriend was obsessed with “Dance Dance” and he is petty. He was part of the crowd crushing rush to the front of the stage to see them at Riot Fest 2013. YAY!

Most Anticipated of 2015: #3 Noel Gallagher’s Return to Guitar Rock


Noel Gallagher is a rock god. He’s penned some of the best songs in Brit pop, much less rock itself. His first solo album after the breakup of Oasis, the self titled Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was a near masterpiece that backed the fact that he is a master musician. However, it felt under appreciated in the U.S. despite sitting near the top of the charts in Britain.

Noel’s solo career initially took a step away from the guitar rock of his days in Oasis, as the writing focused on acoustic based songs with heavy bass and percussion. He introduced new elements such as violin and trumpet as staples to the songs that made the record sound more akin to a soundtrack than anything. Regardless, it was an album that seemed like every song should’ve been a massive single.

Almost three and a half years later, Gallagher’s second solo album is ready to strike in March. From the few songs released so far, the appropriately titled Chasing Yesterday looks like the writing will shift back to an Oasis-styled rock album. The few singles out so far bask in an energy that all classic songs seems to have, something that felt almost completely absent from High Flying Birds in retrospect.

Lead single “In the Heat of the Moment” is a grungy pop song backed with prominent percussion and bells that makes it feel as at home in an arena concert as it would a dance club. B-side “Do the Damage” is a straight up rock song, which is something that his first album almost completely lacked. It comes complete with a jamming saxophone, as is standard for Brit pop.

If Chasing Yesterday can keep the momentum going, it may be a massive album that recaptures Noel’s passion for songwriting and be on par with his writing from the nineties, which many consider his prime. Though an Oasis reunion still seems utterly impossible, Chasing Yesterday may be more than anyone could’ve hoped for.

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has been obsessed with the Gallagher brothers and Oasis since he was a wee youngin’. He saw Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds play to a half full room in Indianapolis, but the crowd there deafened the room with how loud they sang back. Yay!