Most Anticipated of 2019: #8 Blink-182 Go Back to Move Forward

Blink-182 have been extraordinarily prolific since acquiring Matt Skiba on lead guitar. After an impressive first release in 2016 with the new lineup and a re-release double album in 2017, the band is due for a proper new record. Fortunately, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker have been teasing for the better part of a year that a new Blink-182 album is in the works.

On top of that, Hoppus has claimed that the new music sounds similar to their legendary album Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Although I doubt anything could be as seminal as that album at the time of its release, a return to the band’s roots is always welcome given the talents of all involved.

After proving that they were able to reinvent with California, a chance to reflect might be what is needed to propel Blink-182 to the next level of their already storied career.

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 could not be more excited for new music to tickle his ears in 2019.

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Review: Blink-182 – California [Deluxe Edition]

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When California released last year, it was easily one of the year’s highlights, as well as a landmark for Blink-182. With the recent release of California [Deluxe Edition], the band have put together a full disc of addition songs, more or less as an unofficial sequel to the album.

Consisting of B-sides to the original release and some new recordings, California [Deluxe Edition] was one of my most anticipated releases this year. After waiting so many years for music from Blink-182, the decision to release bonus content is a welcome surprise that marks one of the few re-releases of an album that is actually worth the (second) price of admission.

Under normal circumstances, a record’s re-release is a passing of the baton to a new record label that wants to cash in with a couple of extra songs, or something that makes it more of a collector’s item than essential listening. California [Deluxe Edition] is something else entirely. While the Deluxe Edition isn’t a true album, nor a sequel to California, nor does it even relate the the original album in almost any way, it gives insight into the process of the band’s re-invigoration.

The Deluxe Edition is far more experimental than Blink-182 allowed themselves to be on the initial release. The pop and punk rock edge are apparent in spades, but the rhythms and emphasis on softer melodies harkens to a style of song writing reminiscent of +44 and, to an extent, Boxcar Racer. The themes are darker and more brooding. If this second disc truly originated from a surplus of B-sides, then the evolution of the true California is incredible.

California isn’t a happy record, but it acknowledges the problems the band has faced over the last few years while having still having fun. While I don’t know which of the new batch of songs originally were unused B-sides and which are new recordings, I have a good guess.

There are a series of songs that sound less fleshed out, and are lyrically darker than their companions (“Don’t Mean Anything”, “The Last Train Home”). Lyrics such as “Adrift at sea with no one left to rescue / Tonic and a fifth of gin / She said goodbye and left again / These rooms are deafening without you”.

Other songs aren’t joyful by any means, but retain the edge of classic Blink-182 that tackle the same issues without losing the playful nature of the songs (“Parking Lot”, “Wildfire”). It’s this second batch that feel written by a band more comfortable writing together and know what they are aiming for.

“Parking Lot” especially captures the magic, making constant references to older punk bands and good times. It’s a classic Blink-182 song celebrating teenage angst and the love of music as Mark shouts, “I’ll meet my friends at the Target curb / I rolled my ankle, Matt just broke his wrist / I climbed through your window at 3 a.m. / We listened to The Smiths and the Violent Femmes / We both sang ‘Why can’t I get one kiss?’”.

The Deluxe Edition is fascinating in that it shows how Blink-182 toyed with their sound while writing their comeback album and how much the band was willing to experiment without the pestering of Tom DeLonge constantly pushing for something new. “Bottom of the Ocean” is a raging rock song that almost sounds like a Britney Spears cover. “6/8” is a demented take on what Blink-182 would sound like if they tried to be Brand New.

Oddly enough, one of the album’s highlights is an acoustic version of “Bored to Death”, recorded live with a crowd singing in the background. After being the first single back from the brink, this version is much more subdued, as it no longer needs the spectacle and flash to draw back their fans. Instead, the intimacy gives the song a deeper and darker take on the world, and highlights just how perfectly Mark and Matt’s voices meld together. And the moment when the audience begins clapping along is breathtaking.

The California [Deluxe Edition] is something rare. It isn’t a full album nor is it a collection of demos. It’s at once apparent why these songs didn’t make it to the final version, and fascinating that at least half led to the creation of California, while others were spurred on by the fact that the band enjoyed writing the album so much.

While it isn’t essential to enjoy California as a whole, it’s easy to see many of these songs becoming fan favorites. This was never meant to be a record that flows along. More importantly, it’s a look into the mentality of a band reacquainting itself with making music, determined to once again conquer the world.

3/5 (Just the Second Disc)

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 has been listening to California since last July. It will be nice to have something new to spin. These really are good songs.

Most Anticipated of 2017: #9 Blink-182 Return to California

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Your eyes did not deceive you. News of an album’s potential re-release just cracked our top 10. California was one of the most anticipated albums of the last decade, and for everything going against it, it exceeded my expectations in almost every way. It marked the long-awaited return of a band many had thought were lost for good.

When news of California getting a re-release with bonus tracks broke last year, I looked forward to the idea of hearing a couple tracks that would have been lost in b-side purgatory but didn’t give it much thought beyond that. However, over the last couple of weeks Blink-182 have come out to say that while some b-sides are definitely in the mix, they’re also actively writing new material as well. It’s turned what would essentially be an almost forgettable re-release into something else entirely, offering one of last year’s best albums in a completely new light as a double-album.

California delivered on the promises the band made going into it. With their recent comments that the new songs for the deluxe edition being better than what was one the original release, there’s more than enough reason to be excited.

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 was introduced to pop punk by Blink-182. No matter what, new Blink-182 is always a much needed prospect.

Review: Blink-182 – California

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Blink-182 has long been an institution of music. The burden of reinventing themselves to reassure fans who have been through a decade of drama and disappointment is a heavy one. California is not a new Enema of the State, but it adds something that hasn’t seemed to be in their recordings for quite some time: they sound like they want to be there.

California is a fun record. There are no “First Date” or “The Rock Show” mega-anthems, and there shouldn’t be. What could have been a disaster of replacing a primary songwriter after 20 years, Matt Skiba is still getting his footing to live up to a band that, essentially, brought pop punk and skatepunk to the mainstream.

California is not a serious record, a notion we get straight out of the gate during “Cynical”. After a meaningful message of Mark Hoppus addressing everyone who questioned moving on without Tom, (“There’s a cynical feeling saying I should give up / You said everything you’ll ever say”), just as the guitars take off and a massive drum solo from Travis Barker rages, the music pauses ever so slightly for someone to make an irritated noise as though they just messed up the song during recording to start over.

That is what differentiates California from what Blink-182 had become – it’s not trying to be something it’s not. It’s simple, it’s loud and it will have you attempting to sing along on the first listen. Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba’s call and return vocals, and the trade off of verses is seamless. Barker’s drumming phenomenal. Per usual, Hoppus’ bass lines are crisp, deliberate and deep.

Skiba, taking the reigns for guitar, weaves himself into the worthy successor we’d have hoped for. The riffs are light and pop perfectly. He understands what Blink-182 sounds like and differentiates that style of songwriting so that, for the most part, it doesn’t sound like it was pulled from an Alkaline Trio record (the one exception arguably being “Los Angeles”). Some of the guitar riffs sound like they could have been written by Tom at any point (“The Only Thing That Matters”), which seems like more of a tip of respect than ripping off an idea.

As the second singer, Skiba is terrific. His vocals seem a bit higher and pronounced that they do with Alkaline Trio, and at certain pitches, he sounds like Tom. More often than not though, his deeper pitch blends eerily with Mark Hoppus and creates a rich harmony, occasionally accented by Skiba’s whimper between notes.

The trio experiments lightly on songs like “Los Angeles”, relying on Barker’s drumming and a shaky guitar to produce a song that has light R&B flavors and drops into a dark rock chorus. This is the one song that sounds like it could have been an Alkaline Trio song before exploding completely into a bridge that is pure Blink-182 under Hoppus’ vocals.

Some of the more somber notes and spacey synth (“Left Alone”) feel like an homage to Tom, and sound like something he would have written himself. “Bored to Death” already feels like a staple for the band, and if you haven’t heard it already, it has already lauded itself as the most successful single for the band since “Miss You”. The temperament between soft verses to a loud chorus and sweeping backing vocals is fantastic work of cooperation between each band member.

For the most part though, California is a collection of good-to-fantastic pop punk songs that fit perfectly in-sync with the rest of their discography. “Teenage Satellites” is a fast jam with a soaring chorus and is perhaps the song that best focuses solely on Matt Skiba. It’s fun, romantic and demands to be sung aloud. “Kings of the Weekend” charges in a slow build before throwing itself headlong into the chorus, celebrating punk rock music as the savior to boring nights.

“She’s Out of Her Mind” might be the most ‘classic’ song on the album, as it sounds like a spiritual successor to “The Rock Show” in its build up, punctuated chorus and raging guitar. Each element is perfectly written to stay stuck in your head for-fucking-ever.

On my first listen, there were a few songs that I thought could have been pruned or worked on a bit more to make the album flow a bit better, but after listening to it a few times, I’m happy for everything that is on it. Fans who enjoyed any part of Blink-182’s career will find something on here to satisfy them. Though I love the joke songs (“Built This Pool”, “Brohemian Rhapsody”), they don’t flow as well with the larger picture the way that “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” did.

If there is one critique of the album that I have, it is that Skiba and Hoppus sound identical at times. I took me several listens to be able to differentiate them from time to time from certain songs (“Bored to Death”, “Sober”) but it may just be me writing when I should be paying attention. Mark Hoppus has always been my favorite member of the Blink team, but the lack of high pitch vocals made me realize how much I missed Tom’s voice. When Skiba hits the higher notes, it makes it all the more pronounced. That said. I wish that Skiba got more solo songs with Hoppus taking backing vocals.

California is a welcome return to form for a band that has seemed lost for a years. Without the infighting and drama, this is easily the best work Blink-182 have put out in over a decade. It’s cohesive, memorable in an instant, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a reminder of how damn much I’ve missed  Blink-182 at the highlight of their career. It is the reason why the band has refused to give up, but why we as fans have clamored for more releases for years. California is the sound of a band rediscovering itself, and the promise of what the future holds for a group that most believed were trapped in the past.

To new beginnings.

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 got into pop punk because of Blink-182. He has spun Enema of the State more times than he’s told his mother he loves her.

Managing Expectations for Blink-182

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The pandemonium surrounding last week’s blink-182 news should come as no surprise. Ever since the band’s reunion announcement at the 2009 Grammys, the collective pop punk masses have awaited the moment when the band would recapture the exhilaration of their heyday. The expectations are, and always will be, unfair, but that fact has done little to stop any of us from dreaming.

To be sure, the band’s new single, “Bored to Death”, sounds like everything fans wanted from blink-182 in the first place. From the song’s opening chords to its moody, atmospheric conclusion, the track is deeply familiar while still sounding fresh and relevant. It’s an exciting time to be a blink-182 fan, but only time will tell if the payoff is everything we want it to be.

You can pre-order California here.

You can pre-order California here.

I recently revisited my very positive 2011 review of Neighborhoods, the band’s first post-hiatus release and one that carried just as many high expectations. In hindsight, I disagree with almost everything I wrote – Neighborhoods is easily the blink-182 release that I listen to the least and the one that sounds the least familiar when I give it a spin. I’ve often wondered whether album reviews should be written at least a year after the release, but I also find myself pondering the impact of nostalgic excitement that accompanies these kinds of events. Speaking strictly in terms of wistfulness and rose-colored sentimentality, blink-182 has no peer.

Not only did the band end up headlining the pop punk revolution, their ascent perfectly aligned with a generation of kids wearily dreading the next step toward adulthood. In hindsight, it’s odd that such repetitive chord progressions and obnoxiously juvenile lyrics would stand the test of time, but there’s something strangely profound in that simplicity. All these years later, there’s still meaning to be found in a line like, “I guess this is growing up”.

Given the continued turmoil that has plagued blink for over a decade, the band members have had their own experiences with the pains of maturity. It’s odd then that the most promising facet of the band’s upcoming album, California, lies in the most unexpected of places. Just over a year after a fallout with guitarist Tom Delonge left fans wondering if there was any hope remaining for blink-182, the resounding feeling is that Tom’s replacement, Matt Skiba, is the best thing that could have happened to the band. There’s finally a new energy – and it appears to be a positive one for the first time in over a decade. The lingering discomfort surrounding Neighborhoods has largely vanished, opening the door for a world of new possibilities.

Regardless, it’s fairly safe to say that we’re all aware that California won’t impact our lives in the same way Enema of the State or Dude Ranch did, but a suitable summer soundtrack would delightfully suffice. We’ll play these songs on our commute to work instead of in the hallway by our locker during lunch break. With any luck, several songs will make us chuckle and smile, serving as a welcome reprieve from the icy disposition of Neighborhoods. Whatever we get, we’ll savor it in the moment, and that will be enough.

I guess my point is, I know well enough to approach this album with restraint and caution, dispelling any excitement with levelheaded truths from past experiences. But I know myself too well. In the weeks leading up to July 1, anticipation will take hold and my expectations will rise. I may even write a glowing review that I’ll regret years later. That’s part of the experience. Our nostalgia-driven view of blink-182 requires us to live in the moment, no matter the outcome. And that we shall do.

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.

Blink-182 Announce New Album “California”

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Woah.

What started as a leaked song earlier this afternoon has erupted into a deluge of huge announcements from blink-182. Where to begin? First, the band has released a new single titled “Bored to Death”, which can be heard below. In addition, blink-182 will be releasing their new album California on July 1 and embarking on a massive summer tour featuring the likes of A Day to Remember, All Time Low and The All-American Rejects. Got all that? Let’s break it down…

Stream “Bored to Death”:

California track listing:

1. Cynical
2. Bored To Death
3. She’s Out Of Her Mind
4. Los Angeles
5. Sober
6. Built This Pool
7. No Future
8. Home Is Such A Lonely Place
9. Kings of the Weekend
10. Teenage Satellites
11. Left Alone
12. Rabbit Hole
13. San Diego
14. The Only Thing That Matters
15. California
16. Brohemian Rhapsody

Tour dates:

tour

Phew! Share your thoughts (and excitement) in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck