Review: As It Is – The Great Depression

As It Is are one of the treasures of new-wave pop punk. While they could have easily become just another New Found Glory clone, they have spent their career expanding their sound with each album, as though they are trying to find the essence of pop punk itself. The Great Depression, though, sounds like a true sequel to the band’s sophomore effort, Okay. Where that album used pop to show how the outside world sees someone suffering within themselves, The Great Depression relies on hard rock to show how someone suffering sees the outside world.

You can buy or stream The Great Depression on Apple Music.

The Great Depression is an aggressive album that doesn’t try to solve the issue of depression. Instead, it takes aim at society’s quiet acceptance while attempting to remove the romanticism of the idea in general (“I know this isn’t something you’re going to like to hear / Which is exactly why you need to hear this”). As It Is borrows liberally from the emo bands of the mid-2000’s, even going so far as to carry a very deliberate My Chemical Romance homage in their recent music videos.

Guitarist Benjamin Langford-Biss’s guitarwork utterly changes gears for this album. He delves much deeper into a new, harder sounds that significantly expands the band’s range (“The Reaper”, “The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation)”). Bassist Alistair Testo builds a steady background of rough pop that bounces the tracks along despite how hard the guitars get. However, drummer Patrick Foley may be the hidden MVP of the album. His walls of percussion are extravagantly diverse, as though he was working overtime to impress guest vocalist Aaron Gillespie (“The Reaper”).

Likewise, vocalist Patty Walters gives a career best performance. He is pitch perfect for a pop record, but it’s the hints of screaming that make the performance. It adds an edge and urgency that matches the harsh aesthetic.

The Great Depression is a concept album that follows a character who personifies depression as either God or death itself. Either way, this being represents a society that is impartial or unconcerned with the struggles of mental illness. It is an element that adds chaos to someone who just strives to find peace.

Some songs take on depression in general, such as, “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)”, as Walters sings, “I see a pain behind your eyes / I know you feel it everyday / It’s like a light that slowly dies / But it’s better not to say / It’s better not to say such things out loud”.

Other songs address this entity cursing the narrator’s life directly. During “The Reaper”, Walters sings, “I used to sing his praise / But now there’s no sweetness in his name / He’s been dying to show me to my grave”. “The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation)” bargains with the entity for a normal life. “I tell him there’s no chance, I’m not giving him my soul / It doesn’t feel it now but I know my heart is full / I’m not sure he’s right, but I’m not sure he’s wrong / I’m just desperate to belong”.

Closing track, “The End.” pleads for the outside world to understand without being playful. “Because I don’t need you to see this and I don’t want you to feel this / But I only have so much spark to offer in all of this darkness and I screamed for you until the day I gave up and lost my voice”.

The Great Depression is a leap of faith for As It Is. It is drastically different from their past work and addresses similar topics as their previous album from a whole new angle. It is arguably the band’s best work to date, and their most daring. As It Is could simply release pop record after pop record. Instead, they are proving themselves some of the most capable musicians of their generation.

4/5

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 just spilled a tray of tater tots. He is essentially a wobbly toddler that pays rent. Pro Tip: Cats don’t eat floor tots.

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Podcast: As It Is Talks About “The Great Depression”

For our latest podcast episode, we caught up with Patty Walters and Benjamin Langford-Biss of As It Is at Warped Tour to discuss their upcoming album, The Great Depression. During the conversation, the two share their approach to discussing mental health and depression and how the subjectivity of art prevents it from offering firm answers. Instead, As It Is aims to have a more honest and open dialogue about the challenges of mental health and much more. The band also talks about their new look and sound and how they approached the writing process for their third album. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What are your expectations for the new As It Is album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Raise Your Voice: Warped Tour 2018 Review and Photo Gallery

Walking through the crowded grounds of Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana, on a hot July day, it’s nearly impossible not to reflect on Warped Tours past. It was here, nine years ago, where I baked in the sun watching bands like Saosin, Underoath, and Chiodos while screaming along to every word. A year prior in Cincinnati, I stood on the main stage watching Norma Jean bring down the house before singing along to The Academy Is, Anberlin, and Cobra Starship.

Over the years, the Vans Warped Tour is where I met some amazing friends, discovered some of my favorite bands, and truly felt part of a community for one of the first times in my life. As the longest-running touring music festival in North America comes to a close, I’ve felt it necessary to remember those experiences while acknowledging that the experiences have others have not always been so pleasant. For a myriad of reasons, it is time for Warped Tour to end.

There were things to feel good about and music to be excited about during this final trek, yet the staggering lack of gender and racial diversity across the lineup served as a reminder of why it must come to a close. With any luck, whatever takes its place will provide a more balanced and honest view of the underground music scene in years to come.

For now, we take a look at a few of the bands on the 2018 Vans Warped Tour that made some noise and made the tour’s final run worth the price of admission. Take a look below and feel free to share some of your favorites from the lineup in the replies!

Mayday Parade

For a band that made a name for itself by following Warped Tour around the country in 2006, selling CDs to those standing in line, it’s appropriate that Mayday Parade take part in the festival’s final journey. The band has come a long way since those early days, having just released their sixth studio album, Sunnyland, earlier this summer. Per usual, Derek Sanders bounded across the main stage singing fan favorites like “Jamie All Over” and “Jersey”, making for the perfect summer sing-a-long session.

Check out our podcast interview with Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade!

Mayday Parade

As It Is

The band’s second stint on Warped Tour has brought a new sound and a new look. Making light of the obvious changes in between songs, vocalist Patty Walters introduces the band as “My Chemical Romance.” Even if As It Is haven’t quite hit the heights of the aforementioned emo legends, the early signs from upcoming album The Great Depression seem to be promising. From “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)” to “The Wounded World”, these new tracks sound even better live than on tape.

As It Is

Doll Skin

While watching Phoenix, Arizona, rockers Doll Skin tear through their set, I was reminded of watching letlive. just a few years prior. The band harness the same amount of energy and passion in their performance, with vocalist Sydney Dolezal even climbing into the crowd mid-song to unleash her powerful scream. For as exciting as the band’s set was, it was disappointing to find it on a side stage. This is the kind of band deserving of the biggest platform available.

Doll Skin

Real Friends

Real Friends feels like our best current example of what it’s like to watch a band grow up on Warped Tour. Having just released their third full-length album, Composure, the band’s main stage set was one of the highlights of the day. Dan Lambton’s energy, even this late into the grueling tour, provided a spark for the crowd as he lit into “Get By” to kick off the band’s set. Having put together the best album of their career, it will be exciting to see where they go next.

Real Friends

Issues

Tyler Carter has the kind of voice that you have to hear to believe. Even when taking on an early set on a hot day late in the tour, Carter still manages to croon his way through eight songs at full tilt. The band, now a four piece, is in the process of putting together their third album, this time minus Michael Bohn. Nevertheless, Carter handled both sides of the vocals beautifully throughout the band’s set, with help from Adrian Rebollo.

Issues

Waterparks

It feels like the stock for Houston pop punk powerhouse Waterparks just keeps rising. With the release of Entertainment earlier this year, the band has cemented their stay as one of the genre’s hottest acts and have ascended to Warped Tour’s main stage. Awsten Knight carries the band’s vocal duties and helps wake up the morning crowd with performances of “Blonde”, “Take Her to the Moon”, and more.

Waterparks

This Wild Life

While standing at the front of the stage to shoot This Wild Life’s gentle set, I couldn’t help but feel good for the security guards, finally relieved of flying bodies and crowd surfers for 30 minutes. The Long Beach duo’s quiet set is the perfect intermission for a day of loud noises, especially as their catalogue of songs continues to grow. The band performs tracks from their new album, Petaluma, while still finding time to throw in some oldies like “History” and “Concrete”.

This Wild Life

Frank Turner

Yes, THAT Frank Turner took the stage for a few Warped Tour dates this year. Each year on the tour, there are always a few surprises on the lineup that should be labeled required viewing. The English folk singer took to the main stage for an eight-song set that felt all too short, while still providing plenty of moments for sing-a-longs and even a few laughs. His closing performance of “Get Better” proved to be one of the highlights of the day.

Frank Turner

Senses Fail

One final run of Warped Tour just wouldn’t feel right without one of the screamo scene’s old guard in tow, and Senses Fail make for the perfect choice. Over 15 years in, vocalist Buddy Nielsen is still a sight to behold on stage, whether he’s playing old standards like “Bite to Break Skin” and “Calling All Cars” or even a few cover songs. The band’s latest release, If There is Light, It Will Find You, is one of the most underrated albums so far in 2018, and the band’s Warped set proves to be a reminder that Senses Fail still have plenty of life left.

Senses Fail

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.

Review: As It Is – Okay.

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As It Is is a band that caught me out of absolutely nowhere – I loved their debut album an obscene amount. Their sophomore effort, Okay. is sure to be at least partially divisive – on my first listen, my first thought was “what an appropriate title.” However, after a couple of listens and delving deeper into the lyrics, there is a true sadness and battle with oneself that permeates through the indulgently poppy guitars that is genuinely great.

You can buy okay. on iTunes.

You can buy okay. on iTunes.

Okay. highlights the struggles of battling with yourself and the world around you, attempting to take it in stride even though things may seem progressively worse and there may not be a solution in the foreseeable future. Perhaps the most poignant lyric on the album in regards to this is on the title track, when vocalist Patty Walters whispers, “So keep your ‘It’ll get better’s’ and I’ll keep my ‘I’ll be just fine’s'”.

For a sophomore effort, Okay. sounds great. The rhythm guitar is hard and melodic, while the lead finds incredibly catchy hooks that lead into the song and carry it through each chorus. Drummer Patrick Foley truly captured my attention multiple times, finding the perfect balance between anarchic punk and somber (“Austen”). The album is seeping with melody.

Behind the pop though, lie some heavy subjects, namely the feeling of depression and making attempts to come to terms with it even though there isn’t a way out. Opening track “Pretty Little Distance” hides the thesis behind the glam pop, but where the message shines the brightest is a trilogy of songs that reference it directly, “Okay”, “No Way Out” and “Until I Return”. The songs are true pop punk gems that cultivate the sentiment of admitting there’s a problem (“A perfect stranger, she puts pen to paper, consoling in her sleep / And how foreign it felt when I opened my mouth / And heard the truth come out”) and the futile issue to overcome.

“No Way Out” is a rager of a song, circling the idea of feeling trapped in the same problem in your own head. However, it features a moment of what seems like true vulnerability, featuring Walters in the bridge speaking plainly about the depths of his problems before screaming in defiance and frustration.

Although “Until I Return” allows the idea of healing as Walters vibrantly sings behind a ravage guitar riff, “I promise I’ll fight but I can’t promise that I’ll be fine / You treated the damage that I let reside in my fragile mind / With stitches and bandage / You took the fault of my scars and you made it ours”, it precedes the haunting finale. After battling these demons, the album’s final song is “Still Remembering”, a song about saying goodbye to a lover so soon after the song of redemption and strength.

Amidst these demons are others, that are equally heartbreaking in their own way. “Hey Rachel” is a song to a younger sister, apologizing years after the fact for being a shitty brother, while “Austen” is a slow-burn of watching someone lay in their deathbed (“I know you’re tired, but please don’t sleep/ Cause I can’t bear to let you leave”). Don’t forget the crush of watching parents divorce on “Curtains Close”.

It’s unfortunate that a record that delves so deeply into these heavy issues has flaws that took me out of the experience. In what is either a compliment or a slam (depending on how you view it), this is what All Time Low’s Dirty Work should have sounded like. It mostly pertains to the first half, but it suffers some of the same problems as Dirty Work. The album is arguably overproduced and polished, eliminating some of the grit and energy that made me love the band.

Instead, it delves headfirst into pop sonically that treads a dangerous line of sometimes sounding generic. No matter how I go about it, I often times feel like I’ve heard these songs elsewhere. However, the sound and atmosphere of the record begins to diverge near the halfway point, when the band truly steps out of their comfort zone musically (“Soap”, “Austen”).

Although Okay. is unapologetically poppy and uplifting in sound, the lyrical content is true bummer (lol). What I appreciate about the album is that it doesn’t have any half-ass answers, just honest frustration and the horrors of life that help lead someone to these pits of despair… and then leaves the listener there.

The biggest issue with Okay. is that it begins sounding like any other pop punk record, as it takes some time to find the real meat of the album. While there are good concepts and ideas permeating, something just feels off throughout, leaving a record that is as addicting as it is bland. It’s not nearly enough to dissuade my love for the group, nor can I precisely place my finger on the issue, but I’m glad for the chance to hear it.

3.5/5

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 just realized that their name, As It Is, kind of symbolizes what it’s like to live with this shit. It just is… thinking too much into it? Definitely. Awake at 1 am on a work night because I downed too much coffee during the afternoon? You betcha.

As It Is Releases New Song “Pretty Little Distance”

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There’s still plenty of time before As It Is releases their sophomore album okay. on January 20, 2017. That hasn’t stopped the band from releasing two singles from the forthcoming record. The British pop punk act ups the ante once again with their latest song, “Pretty Little Distance”, which can be heard below:

For a band that raised more than a few eyebrows with their debut album Never Happy, Ever After just last year, As It Is sound like they’re ready to make the leap. On this latest track, the band seems to channel early Fall Out Boy with witty lyrics, spot on vocal melodies from Patty Walters, and even a nice little guitar solo for good measure.

There’s still three months until okay. releases on Fearless Records, but the expectations are certainly building. With another solid record, As It Is could very well be the new face of pop punk by next summer.

What are your thoughts on the two songs released thus far? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Podcast: The Best Music of 2015

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Just when you thought those end of the year breakdowns were over – Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz return for one final discussion on the best music of 2015. During the chat, the duo break down splendid albums and singles from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, The Wonder Years, The Weeknd. The Early November, Carly Rae Jepsen and much more! What are you waiting for? Listen in below!

Subscribe to our podcast here. Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Top 10 Songs of 2015

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Choosing the top 10 songs of any given year is difficult. Each track serves as a building block within its given album, proving to be a chapter in a larger story. While context certainly provides meaning, there’s a reason why certain songs and moments resonate with us more than others.

The tracks below are an eclectic list of songs that made us dance, think and even cry during the course of 2015. They represent excellence in artistry and story telling, and they also resonate with us in a way that will carry their relevancy well beyond this passing year. Take a look (and a listen) below and share your own favorite songs from 2015 in the replies!

10. Bring Me the Horizon – “Happy Song”

In this new post-grunge incarnation, Bring Me the Horizon truly channel their inner Nirvana on “Happy Song”. Complete with loud, thrashing guitars, Oli Sykes’ gravelly delivery and even a backing choir of cheerleaders, the track toes the line between a desperate cry for help and an anthemic call to rise above the undertow. Creepily uttering the lines, “I’ve had enough / There’s a voice in my head / Says I’m better off dead”, Sykes turns a violent corner just in time for the chorus, shouting, “If I sing along / A little fucking louder / To a happy song / I’ll be alright”. With the band forgoing crunchy breakdowns in favor of tasteful programming elements and rousing guitar riffs, this is a lonely, sad song meant to be sung en masse. – Kiel Hauck

9. As It Is – “Speak Soft”

“Speak Soft” seems like a fairly basic pop punk song, but it’s special to me. It’s the first song I heard from a band that truly impressed me this year. This is a song that captures the magic that originally lured me to the genre almost two decades ago. Patty Walters and Andy Westhead dual throughout the chorus, providing a fine balance between the clean vocals and deep, guttural defiance. The guitars are sharp, playing during the verses and bridges, but brutal during the chorus. “Speak Soft” sounds like it should have been there since the early days of New Found Glory. The instant memorability and hook of it capture what I love about this band. Other songs on their debut, Never Happy, Ever After are better written with deeper lyrics, but “Speak Soft” will always embody the spirit of pop punk and the energy needed to stand out in a sea of bands that more or less tend to sound similar. – Kyle Schultz

8. Fall Out Boy – “Fourth of July”

As impossible as it was to believe that Fall Out Boy still hadn’t written their biggest hits heading into 2015, American Beauty/American Psycho not only put the nail in the coffin of the band’s pop punk roots, it vaulted them to the Top 40 radio stratosphere. As impressive as “Centuries” and “Uma Thurman” are, the unsung hero of Fall Out Boy’s new arsenal is the explosive “Fourth of July”, an epic track that finds Patrick Stump reaching new vocal heights. Aided as always by the biting lyrics of Pete Wentz, Stump carries the bitter track, singing, “Wish I’d known how much you loved me / Wish I cared enough to know / I’m sorry every song’s about you”. By the time the track hits its volatile chorus, you’re wondering why this wasn’t in the background of every fireworks display across the country this summer. At the core, this is the caustic, lovelorn Fall Out Boy we’ve always loved, but on the outside, this new gleaming pop rock armor fits the band all too well. – KH

7. Empty Houses – “Far Away”

There’s no shortage of bands looking for a vintage sound, but only a few really try to replicate the spirit as well. Empty Houses’ “Far Away” manages to capture a distinct era of sound and rekindle it to meet today’s pop needs. The result is utterly beautiful. The melodies are simple, the production helps it sound as though it has been a part of our lives for decades. Singer Ali Shea belts out some of the most impressive vocal work this side of Adele, rich and soulful. The chorus of, “I had this comfort build up inside, it was a good place for me to hide / I’m hoping for a little longer ride / And I cried all night, thinking about it / I’m trying to convince myself / And I’m alright living without it” is nothing short of astonishingly wonderful. Dave Mackinder’s backing vocals and musicianship are a powerful subtlety that allows the vocals to truly shine while maintaining an instantly recognizable and memorable melody. – KS

6. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away With Me”

The opening track to Emotion serves as the perfect re-introduction to Carly Rae Jepsen, a true star no longer mired in one-hit-wonder language. “Run Away with Me” is the cherry atop a splendid ice cream sundae of a pop album, rich in throwback pop tones and complimented with a sultry saxophone, although it’s Jepsen herself that serves as the primary instrument. It’s an expertly crafted pop song that showcases Carly Rae the person and the artist in perfect duality. Not only does the track connect with the let’s get out of here desires of every young love, (“We never sleep, we never try, when you are with me”), its eager delivery feels earnest thanks to Jepsen’s on-tape flare. So. Many. Emotions. – KH

5. The Early November – “Better This Way”

The Early November have always walked a fine line between indie emo and ballistic prog rock. “Better This Way” personifies this struggle to great effect, with gentle verses and a raging, shouting chorus. The song takes its time before blooming with the harsh grit of guitarwork and crunching drums. Ace Enders’ vocals show significant maturity as he speaks softly throughout the verses before some intense shouting during the chorus. The song is moody, bristling with emotion and carries a crazy amount of energy for such a plodding tempo. The midsection scales itself back even further, as Enders whispers over the tease of guitar snaps like the tinkling of a spider’s web before launching back into the incredible chorus. “Better This Way” embodies the best of The Early November, especially the intellect and experimentation that has come to define this stage of their careers. – KS

4. The Weeknd – “The Hills”

In truth, we really shouldn’t enjoy “The Hills” as much as we do. A track laced with deceit, addiction and horror, “The Hills” worms its way into your skull with a dark, brash bassline, blood curdling screams, and a disturbingly infectious chorus from Abel Tesfaye. In the post-modern pop world of 2015, this is what passes as a love song, as The Weeknd laments “driving through the gated residential” in route to his sinfully secret mistress, having just “fucked two bitches” beforehand. Tesfaye is nothing if not frank. It’s no surprise that The Weeknd doesn’t pull punches here, using contagiously catchy pop melodies to lure us into his world, before reminding us that we’ve actually been there all along. “The hills have eyes / Who are you to judge?” – KH

3. Motion City Soundtrack – “I Can Feel You”

“I Can Feel You” is one of the highlights of Panic Stations. Pristine, lazy guitars layered over an up-tempo beat and Justin Pierre’s slacky vocals make this song feel like the inner-workings of his mind. Self-doubt slowly builds while the beat never ends its relentless push forward. As Pierre sings, “I’m starting to see / The problem with me / is everything”, you can feel the tension and panic build before the chorus offers a euphoric release. However, the most rewarding part of “I Can Feel You” is the second half. Following a dreamlike bridge, the song ramps into an explosion of sound and Pierre’s frantic, desperate vocals, pleading with someone else while fighting for his own sanity. It’s an amazing moment, and sounds like an indirect sequel to fan favorite song, “Time Turned Fragile”. – KS

2. Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

To Pimp a Butterfly is such a sprawling, oddly cohesive epic that it’s difficult to cherry pick. Without proper context, each individual track loses a touch of its bite. But if you had to choose one moment that encompasses the spirit of the record and serves as the necessary outcry against a painful backdrop of racism and police brutality, it would be Kendrick’s resounding refrain of, “We gon’ be alright!” “Alright” delves deep into Lamar’s psyche as he argues against voices that seek to pigeonhole and shame him, armed with a pen and his convictions: “I write ‘til I’m right with God”. A sporadic and powerful drum beat carries the track from start to breathtaking finish. Much more than just a chapter of the story, “Alright” is a rallying cry for a community in search of hope. – KH

1. The Wonder Years – “Cigarettes & Saints”

The Wonder Years have been known for their storytelling abilities for years, but “Cigarettes & Saints” is a beast different from anything else they’ve ever put out. In four minutes, the band manages to hit every high of their abilities and push their extremes while creating one of the stand out songs of the year. Starting as a slow strum of the guitar and lovetap of a snare drum, the song expands into a full-blown rock ballad that ends as genuine, defiant punk rock. It’s the slowest, quietest music the band has ever written, with a simple, mundane, perfect guitar line sliding throughout that builds it into a raging beast. Soupy’s storytelling dances about, hitting several areas and ideas that only build off of each other, starting as a eulogy that slowly takes a stab at religion and ends as an all-out attack on the pharmaceutical industry. Not making a full-on pop punk song as the highlight of their album was a risky move for a band known for being loud, but it only added to The Wonder Years’ insane writing abilities. – KS

Honorable Mention:

CHVRCHES – “Leave a Trace”

Drake – “10 Bands”

Mayday Parade – “Hollow”

Grimes – “REALiTi”

Nate Ruess ft. Beck – “What This Wold is Coming To”

Posted 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.

Warped Tour 2015: Searching for Hope in a Wounded Scene

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Make no mistake – the conversation around Warped Tour is no longer framed as a discussion about the summer’s best music. That ship has sailed, and time will tell if the problems that plague this scene find resolution and if an answer is found to rectify the steady stream of sexual misconduct that continues to rear its ugly head. Until those answers come, it’s hard to care about much else.

At the same time, It’s All Dead was created with a purpose of finding light in the dark, spotlighting the music that makes our hearts full and our minds contemplative. Amidst the frustration surrounding this summer’s tour, we want to take a moment to highlight some of the good things – bands playing with passion and speaking life in a wounded scene.

Below is a collection of bands that we feel encapsulate that idea. Take a look at a few of our favorites from the tour’s recent stop in Noblesville, Indiana.

Palisades

Palisades want you to move. The band’s unique blend of danceable electronics and crunchy hardcore riffs are the perfect pairing for hot summer days on Warped Tour. Vocalists Louis Miceli and Brandon Sidney combine cool melodies with spastic screams for a light/dark combination that adds an array of emotion to their tracks. Holding down the Kevin Says stage, Palisades appear to be gaining followers by the day.

Palisades

Palisades

This Wild Life

Just one year ago, acoustic duo This Wild Life were one of the biggest buzz bands on Warped Tour. This year, they’re holding down the main stage like scene veterans. Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso’s calm, unflappable presence on stage matches the peaceful journey through pain found on their debut, Clouded. The band even finds time to slip in a quick cover of blink-182’s “First Date” for good measure.

This Wild Life

This Wild Life

The Amity Affliction

The Amity Affliction’s last run on Warped Tour in 2013 found lead vocalist Joel Birch hospitalized and near the end of his rope. This year, the band appears re-energized, fresh off of the release of Let the Ocean Take Me. Birch roars with confidence while Ahren Stringer provides clean vocals that soothe against the band’s pounding sonic background. A substantial crowd sings along passionately as the band rocks the Monster Energy stage, emphasis on the “energy.”

The Amity Affliction

The Amity Affliction

PVRIS

Another buzz band turned breakout, PVRIS are riding high on White Noise, their smash debut album. Lynn Gunn has become a staple in this scene behind the microphone in less than a year, belting out powerful anthems like “My House”, while also being capable of crooning softly on more mellow numbers like “Holy”. When the band opens with “Fire” on the Unicorn stage, the crowd jumps to the beat, becoming a welcome backup choir for Gunn.

PVRIS

PVRIS

The Wonder Years

If you can’t wait for the upcoming release of No Closer to Heaven, you’re not alone. The Wonder Years have already claimed the pop punk crown, but they’re not taking their foot of the gas pedal. Dan Campbell is as lively as ever, singing his heart out to new single “Cardinals” as the crowd shouts along. It’s a fast-paced set, but every minute is filled with poppy guitar riffs, passionate vocals and pumping fists.

The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years

Pierce the Veil

It’s been three long years since Pierce the Veil released Collide with the Sky, an album that propelled the band to new heights. Now, the post-hardcore act is back on Warped Tour with a new song, “The Divine Zero”, and a massive set filled with powerful tracks like “Caraphernalia” and “Hell Above”. Vic Fuentes sounds as good as ever, and it’s hard not to get excited about the band’s forthcoming album, whenever it arrives.

Pierce the Veil

Pierce the Veil

As It Is

As It Is are making the most of their first run on Warped Tour. The British pop punk group made their mark earlier this year with their debut album Never Happy, Ever After. Their songs are full of melody and spunk and lead vocalist Patty Walters is chaotic on the stage as he sings his heart out. Walters may be a blur, but he’s still able to hit the notes with ease. After starting their set with “Speak Soft”, the band never takes their foot off of the gas pedal.

As It Is

As It Is

blessthefall

Metalcore vets blessthefall are Warped Tour pros at this point. Holding down the final set of the day on the Shark Stage, a large turnout sticks around to watch Beau Bokan and company rage through a collection of songs. New track “Up in Flames” sounds like the band at their best, combining crushing breakdowns with melodic passages that mesh with ease. Eric Lambert shreds through each song as Bokan runs from side to side, belting out his notes. It’s hard not to appreciate the work ethic of this band, especially when they show no signs of slowing down.

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blessthefall

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 Bands You Can’t Miss on Warped Tour 2015

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The weather is warm, the sun is shining and school is out. You know what that means – it’s almost time for Vans Warped Tour. The longest running music festival in America returns once again and this year’s lineup is ready to hit the road. We already expressed why our excitement for the tour continues, but we figure it’s time to share a few bands to watch out for.

As usual, the festival is full of scene stars such as Pierce the Veil, The Wonder Years, blessthefall and Motion City Soundtrack. However, each summer presents the opportunity for new bands to break out and make their mark. Below are 10 bands to look for. Some are new, some have already begun their rise to stardom, but all are worth of your attention.

Be sure to share some of your favorite bands on this year’s tour in the replies!

as_it_isAs It Is

Pop punk newcomers As It Is hail from Brighton, England, and have burst onto the scene with their debut album, Never Happy, Ever After. The record is full of poppy jams and melodic choruses, courtesy of lead vocalist Patty Walters. With an energetic stage presence and ton of sing-alongs, it won’t be long before As It Is find their way to the main stage.

moose_bloodMoose Blood

Another act from across the pond, Moose Blood have quickly made a name for themselves with a throwback punk/emo hybrid that’s as catchy as anything you’ll hear this summer. Their debut, I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time, is a danceable affair full of fight. Their first appearance on Warped Tour is sure to be an enjoyable one.

PVRISPVRIS

Rise Records act PVRIS made their Warped debut last year, but are ready to take over after the release of their debut, White Noise. Vocalist Lynn Gunn is brings the house down over synth beats and dancy breakdowns. PVRIS have a knack for combining rock and electronic sounds into ear-pleasing tracks that sound radio ready.

this_wild_lifeThis Wild Life 

Hailing from Long Beach, California, This Wild Life made a name for themselves on last summer’s tour with heartfelt, acoustic tracks that anyone can relate to. The duo’s debut, Clouded, is a poignant affair full of delicate melodies. You have to hear Kevin Jordan’s vocal performance to believe it. There won’t be much moshing their set, but there will be plenty of back-up singers in the crowd.

hands_like_housesHands Like Houses

Australian rockers Hands Like Houses made their Warped debut back in 2013 after the release of Unimagine. With a new album on the horizon, the band makes their return with a new track titled “I Am”. Hands Like Houses put on one of the best live performances you’ll see, thanks in part to the stratospheric vocals of Trenton Woodley.

the_amity_afflictionThe Amity Affliction

Another Australian band, The Amity Affliction brought the house down with last year’s Let the Ocean Take Me. Now, the band makes their return to the Warped Scene with a ton of new tracks that are just as crushingly heavy in sound as they are in content. Be prepared to move – you can’t watch The Amity Affliction sitting still.

alive-like-meAlive Like Me

Rise Records newcomers Alive Like Me hit the ground running last year with their debut, Only Forever. Blending alt rock with a dash of post-hardcore, Alive Like Me are led by vocalist Jairus Kersey, whose vocals emulate scene stars like Kellin Quinn and Vic Fuentes.

Emarosa1Emarosa

Post-hardcore stars Emarosa make their first Warped appearance since 2010 this summer, this time with a new singer in Bradley Walden. Last year’s album, Versus, may have been the comeback record of the year. The band sounds better than ever and Walden can bring the house down with his dynamic range and bravado.

palisades_2015Palisades

The electronic hardcore act from New Jersey is ready for their close up. Palisades combine pulsing synthesizers with crunchy breakdowns as vocalist Lou Miceli sings and screams his way through each furious song. Their latest release, Mind Games, is full of accessible tracks that seem custom made for Warped Tour, including the incredibly catchy “Bad Girls”.

Youth_In_Revolt_-_2014Youth in Revolt

Youth in Revolt have only just begun to make their mark on the scene with their debut EP Love is a Liar’s Game. The band is full of energy and adds a fresh sound to the metalcore scene. Singer True Arahill is a performer at heart and appears ready to shine on the Warped stage.

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.

Review: As It Is – Never Happy, Ever After

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Five months in, and it feels like 2015 is the official year of the classic pop punk revival. There have been nothing less than a swarm of albums that sound like they were torn straight out of 2002. The debut album from As It Is is no exception, and the world is better for it.

First off, it’s important to admit up front that I grew up on the pop punk sound of the early 2000s and am a complete sucker for any band that does it well. It’s hard to ignore that bias, even when a band might not quite deserve the amount of praise I sometimes give.

It’s hard to find much in the way of innovation on Never Happy, Ever After. If anything, it adds the effect of double vocalists (ala Taking Back Sunday) and strained shouts over snappy riffs circa early New Found Glory. The benefit of that, though, is that Never Happy sounds timeless. I could have just as easily have been pumping my fist to Never Happy, Ever After as I did to The Starting Line’s Say It Like You Mean It.

Smooth energy and grind house guitar riffs dominate the album, creating an effective love letter to the forefathers of modern pop punk. For anyone getting into the scene now, it’s easy to imagine As It Is being just as important 0f a band as New Found Glory was to my generation. The music hypnotically balances itself between poppy mosh-ready riffs and glossy sweet strings over raging drums and bass. If there is one thing to complain about, the vocals sound like there might have been too much production or auto tune used. It’s obvious Patty Walters is a good singer, but a little more raw energy would have served him better.

It’s becoming rarer and rarer to find a band that immediately knows who they are when they release their first album. It’s obvious after a single listen that As It Is are not only well versed in the most important bands to pop punk, they’re determined to recapture the magic of a Sticks and Stones. If anything makes the album feel modern, it’s the fact that the band shifts the lyrical focus away from high school romances to a more introspective place that eat away at you slowly, such as “Drowning Deep In Doubt”, when Walters sings, “If the only place I belong is an afterlife that I just can’t believe in / At least I’ll know I was born so not everyone lives and dies on their own”.

This band is a collective of good songwriters. There’s more to their music than a three minute guitar slamming. There is nothing quite as invigorating as listening to “My Oceans Were Lakes” and hearing the drumming slowly take center stage after two and a half minutes of acoustic guitars so soft they could be have been a lullaby. The energy that builds is awe inspiring.

There are a lot of soft spots on Never Happy, but there’s a power behind the pop that puts most bands in the genre in their place. “Concrete”, the chorus to “Turn Back To Me”, “Can’t Save Myself” and “Dial Tones” are some of the best songs in the scene since The Wonder Years stepped into the spotlight.

There are a lot of good lines in every song, and it’s just a matter of picking your favorites depending on your mood. “Turn Back To Me” has Patty Walters and Andy Westhead alternating the verse, “I can only take so much before I spill my guts / But I’m terrified of letting you see what I’m thinking / But you left before I could and if I could too, I would / Cause my mind’s a frightening and lonely place I can’t escape at night”. “Speak Soft” includes the lines, “Can I give you an answer? / The beauty and the cancer / You’re an open shining, self-relying / And I’m a fucking born disaster.”

There’s a good chance that As It Is will disappoint you depending on your preference in musical styles. There’s a good chance that I’m looking too much into them, which is a fair assessment. What I see is a band that recognizes that pop punk has more to offer than people are willing to give it.

As It Is somehow combine over a decade’s worth of pop punk and emo styles into a single disc and make it sound organic enough that it could have been album of the year at any point during the last 15 years. That’s an easy thing to say, but I’ve listened to Never Happy over a dozen times in the last 48 hours and I don’t intend to stop now. The only bad thing I can think to say about Never Happy, Ever After is that I have to wait at least a year or two just to see what As It Is comes up with to top it.

5/5

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 plans to attend Warped Tour just to see this band. I truly love Never Happy, Ever After and I’m proud to give it the score I did. If you disagree, kindly go piss right off. 😀