Review: A Day To Remember – You’re Welcome

Part of the charm to A Day To Remember is knowing how much their sound shouldn’t work as well as it does. A conglomeration of hardcore, punk and mainstream pop, most of ADTR’s back catalog is something that feels like it has always kind of been looked at through a lens of a band having fun more than anything else. Although You’re Welcome doesn’t change this dynamic, this is the first album that doesn’t seem to hide the flaws of this amalgamation as well as past records. What remains is an album burdened by an undue weight placed upon it, but may very well be held in much higher esteem a year from now.

You can buy or stream You’re Welcome on Apple Music.

The biggest flaw of You’re Welcome is that fans were forced to wait almost a year and a half for its release after the initial announcement. Delays of a few months can sour fan expectations, but one that long can breed resentment. You’re Welcome is full of big swings for the band that shouldn’t sound as shocking as they sometimes do (“Bloodsucker”) when compared to ADTR’s discography. But with so long to soak in a slew of singles, You’re Welcome feels even less cohesive than it should.

You’re Welcome has a wide range of sound and influences, whether that be hardcore (“Last Chance to Dance (Bad Friend)”), radio pop (“Bloodsucker”) or pop rock (“Permanent”). The issue is that while a lot of these elements aren’t necessarily new for ADTR, they either don’t commit to them enough (“Only Money”) or commit too much (“F.Y.M.”) for them to resonate in any meaningful way.

Peppered throughout You’re Welcome, though, are some truly great songs. “Brick Wall” resonates with the crunching guitars and energy of classics like “The Downfall Of Us All”. Closing track “Everything We Need” is a gorgeous acoustic ballad brimming with the reflection of youth and the swagger of a country song. Meanwhile, “Viva La Mexico” is a rager, allegedly about a bachelor party in Mexico, that feels destined to infect many a playlist.

The hypnotic elegance of “Permanent” proves to be one of the best songs that band has released in some time. While not groundbreaking, it flawlessly intermingles an electronic sound around a harder edge that builds to a well-earned breakdown and may best encapsulate what the band had aimed for throughout the album.

If there is a theme to You’re Welcome, it falls on the mass resentment that people pass on to one another. This is highlighted best in lead single “Degenerates”, a glossy pop punk song with a cheerleader-like chorus (“Why do we tend to hurt one another? / Dividing up all the books by the covers / Like it ain’t hard enough simply being me”).

“Brick Wall” chants defiance at pessimism and includes what may arguably be one of the great circle pit lyrics of all time (“Saddle up, boys / We’re headed for the brick wall”). “Bloodsucker” highlights the negative influence the judgement of religion can play on a person (“I’ve only got a lifetime / So I’ll give no more to you”) while sounding like a swirl of the best of Fall Out Boy and the worst of Maroon 5.

But in the face of this, a song like “F.Y.M.” is bred from that same resentment the album is pushing back on. Although it feels like the laziest written song on the record, it is destined to stick in your head for longer than anticipated as vocalist Jeremy McKinnon sings, “Wait’ll I get some fuck you money”.

You’re Welcome is an album that may not be what fans had hoped for after such an extensive delay, but it earns its place more with each new listen. Removing the weight of prolonged expectation, it feels reminiscent of the disjointed lovability of What Separates Me From You. Fans of every form of ADTR will find something glamorous here, even if they have to look a little harder than they may have initially hoped.

I found a true appreciation of the album during penultimate track “Re-Entry”. The song encapsulate the best of the band while showing both, the frustration and the relief of recording this album and may be the catharsis they needed for when it was finally finished. Over ridiculously playful guitars and cartoonish group vocals during the chorus, there is a genuine drain, relief and joy and McKinnon sings, “I just wanna go home”.

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 stubbed his toe on the coffee table so hard he briefly thought his foot was amputated. Send him flowers. And a foot. Just a new foot, please.

Review: Hit The Lights – Summer Bones

 

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Summer Bones caught me completely off guard. I haven’t even heard a Hit The Lights song for the better part of a decade (“Three Oh Nine”, baby!) and didn’t know what I would be walking into. I can’t say that I expected a highly polished pummeling of heavy pop punk lessons on each high in the genre. Summer Bones has every element of what I want from a classic pop punk record,  impressive musicianship on the part of every member and high octane, memorable songs that guarantee to be blasting from my stereo for years to come. For those wanting a brutal jam, you’ve found it.

Let’s get this out of the way – the album is amazing. For what it lacks in length (just passes the twenty-five minute mark) is makes up for by cutting away all the filler and ripping through high energy punk rock with a fire the Ramones would be proud of. Each song sounds necessary and thoroughly written, despite a majority of the ten songs hovering around the ‘2:30’ mark by plus or minus a few seconds. Summer Bones is fast, brutal and created specifically to completely dominate summer festivals.

Guitarists Omar Zehery and Kevin Mahoney absolutely own the record. They’re overwhelmingly the dominant focus of the music and are just captivatingly brilliant. The guitars are memorable in a way that is hard to replicate in pop punk, considering that the music consists of blistering walls of power chords and easycore style breakdowns (“The Real”).

Bassist David Bermosk adds a much needed depth to the guitar that boosts the effect of layering to make them sound much thicker and possibly heavier than they really are (“Life On the Bottom”). The sound of the guitar wouldn’t exist without him. Nate Van Damme’s drumming is impeccable and brutal, reminding me stylistically of New Found Glory’s Cyrus Bolooki, which I hope is as good of a compliment as I mean it to be.

Nick Thompson’s vocals are killer. He presses his range and strength throughout the album multiple times, always to great results. It’s the type of singing that reminds me of hearing FOB’s Patrick Stump for the first time when you never realized his full range. Thompson impresses almost straight out of the gate (“Fucked Up Kids”). On top of it all, each song is easily ready to be memorized for proper sing-a-longs by a bouncing crowd.

Thematically, Summer Bones is brutal. It’s an angsty pop punk ‘bro-down’ ready to start a fight and reminisce about older times. Thompson belts out war cries like, “For every night I slept myself sick wondering what I did / This is goodbye, I hope you fucking choke on it” over crisp guitars (“No Filter”), or the honest musings of, “Every inadvertently fostering controversy / A trait of mine it seems, to laugh at all the darker sides of things / Never been one to miss out when contention comes around / I find myself at peace while those around me ask how I could be” from “Blasphemy, Myself and I”.

While the album has all of the thematic anthems of pop punk, that’s unfortunately all there really is. The lyrics do little to delve deeper than surface level, and can sometimes feel a bit forced for glamor points (“But we burn the brightest during the night shift / Hanging with New York’s finest / So when the bars close and everyone goes home, we don’t go” from “Fucked Up Kids”) or childish (“I’ll drop you like a ton of bricks”).

For me, Summer Bones is a classic record. It has everything that makes it memorable to my taste and will be put to good use throughout the summer for myself and anyone within several hundred feet of my speakers. The only problem I have with this record is that I feel like I’ve heard it all before. Parts of songs sound too similar to bands like New Found Glory (“Revolutions Executions”) or Four Year Strong (“The Real”). Thompson’s vocals sometimes delve to sound like other vocalists accidentally, like the twinge of Coheed’s Claudio Sanchez (“Life on the Bottom”). It feels like the best influences of other bands made their way into the songs every now and then, which will either distract listeners or delight them with the props given to influences.

Summer Bones is an album designed to dominate the season and deafen anyone nearby. For anyone wanting the energy, there’s little else to ask for. For people hoping for a deeper dive into the sound of the band’s previous release, Invicta, you may be disappointed. Hit The Lights blew me away. Maybe I’m just a sucker for heavy pop punk, or this crafts pop punk a little too closely to a ‘paint-by-number’ formula of inspiration, but this is an album I will remember for a very long time.

4.5/5

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 can’t believe he never gave Hit The Lights a chance. THE FOOL!

Review: New Found Glory – Resurrection

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During Chicago’s Riot Fest, Chad Gilbert took the mic midway through their set to address the frenzied crowd in the brief pause between moshing and jumping. He talked briefly about how the last year has been the worst they’ve ever been through and described it as hitting their absolute “rock bottom” as a group. It’s true; it’s been a rough year to love New Found Glory.

The departure of founding member Steve Klein from the band came as a shock, but not as much as the news of the charges against him and the brewing talk by fans on forums about the rest of the band. Without the second guitar, their sound wouldn’t be as full and the shadow looming over the neigh untouchable group disappeared slowly with the enormous gap that they put between themselves and Klein.

Resurrection isn’t just another NFG album, nor just a punk sounding title. It’s a full rebirth for a band that found themselves as low as they’d ever been, and that’s coming just a few years after writing an album (Not Without A Fight) dealing with the divorces the various members had gone through. Resurrection is true to its name; it’s a full rebirth for New Found Glory with a renewed sense of urgency and anger. The guitar is heavier, the bass is louder and the lyrics are absolutely brutal.

The songs aren’t exclusively about girls like they used to be, but this is New Found Glory at their finest, delivering the best album since Sticks and Stones. The pop is lighter, the punk is harsher and, despite the similar easycore grind, each song remains memorable. It’s the type of punk that the band has been attempting to achieve ever since the Tip of the Iceberg EP and true to the legacy that allowed them to make a near perfect Ramones Cover EP (Mania). Even with the addition of more breakdowns, it sounds like authentic New Found Glory.

The most noticeable thing about Resurrection is that it’s incredibly harsher and stronger than any of their past releases, opting for punk songs with pop elements bleeding from the vocals as opposed to the instruments themselves. Gilbert, as the sole guitarist now, grinds out ferocious power chords in hypnotically catchy rhythms complete with scratches and the metallic vibrations of the strings. Ian Grushka’s bass is a rapid assault that traces the scales. The bass is much more noticeable than on past records with an authority and weight that gives a massive energy to the songs. As usual, Cyrus Bolooki’s drumming is top notch and the standard to which the rest of the pop punk genre adheres to.

Vocalist Jordan Pundik scales the range of his voice throughout the songs and delivers one incredibly chorus after the other. The most noticeable difference is that the lyrics are much more aggressive. The album starts with lead single “Selfless” in similar vein as fan favorite “Understatement” in that it’s a rapid assault anthem of self worth and the hope for strength.

With the absence of Klein as the lyricist, it almost sounds like the band took inspiration for the more personalized lyrics of new bands like The Wonder Years. It also sets the tone for the record with the daring proclamation during the bridge of, “No I’m not gonna settle anymore, no I’m not gonna hold my tongue / If you haven’t made enemies then you never stood for anything”.

Perhaps the most startling song on the record is “The Worst Person”. It is either a direct attack on Klein to clear their view on the entire situation involving him or someone in a very similar situation who did the band wrong. The song is fueled with the rage most likely responsible for the passion and fire that makes Resurrection so intriguing and powerful while maintaining a classic structure that almost sounds like it was torn from the track list of their Self-Titled.

The track also contains the most inflammatory lyrics of the band’s career as Jordan shouts, “You hid your life away, you didn’t want them to know you were hooking up with girls in Boston / You might be the worst person I’ve ever met, I’ve ever known / You keep doing all that shit you regret, end up alone”. It is single-handedly the most aggressive and personal lyrics the band has ever written.

The entire record is a challenge and an anthem of fighting back from the brink. “One More Round” rings with a raging chorus of “One more round, kick me when I’m down, but I already won when my name rolled off your tongue” against the crunch of the guitar.

Resurrection is a comeback album that no one knew was needed. Ironically enough, the worst thing to ever happen to the band may have been just the inspiration needed to knock them to the next. Their sound hadn’t evolved terribly much over the last fifteen years, but finally sounds mature and aggressively relevant. There’s no need to focus so much on love and girls when there is so much more that needs to be tackled.

4.5/5

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 might be slightly biased because NFG was the first band he discovered fifteen years ago. But that doesn’t matter because no one reads this lil’ bit anyway. Bwa hahahahaha!