Pierce the Veil Explode on We Will Detonate Tour

A masked intruder enters the stage from behind a curtain, greeted by the screams of those in attendance at the Egyptian Room in downtown Indianapolis. As the anticipation builds, the masked man ignites a box labeled “TNT,” dropping the curtain and unleashing a wave of streamers and confetti as Pierce the Veil rip into rapid opener “Texas is Forever”.

It was just two years ago that the post-hardcore act from San Diego graced this very same stage as I pondered the extended wait for their fourth full-length album. That release came at long last in 2016 with Misadventures, an album that not only lived up to expectations, but deserved another full U.S. trek that has now arrived in the form of the “We Will Detonate!” tour.

Emarosa

But before we get ahead of ourselves, this tour is far more than a victory lap for Pierce the Veil, but also includes a band nearing the top of their game and another band that helped pave the way for the scene as we know it.

Since taking over as lead vocalist for Emarosa, Bradley Walden has been elevating the band’s sound to new heights. Last year’s 131 was a triumph, shedding the notion of what a post-hardcore band could accomplish by embracing pop sensibilities and handling its heartbreaking subject matter with sensitivity and honesty.

Before the opening notes of “Sure” can reach the back of the venue, Walden has jumped into the crowd, where he’ll spend a good portion of the band’s energetic set. Despite the somber tone of some of the band’s newer tracks, Walden and company ramp up the energy of the crowd through their performance. The crowd joins in on the vocal action during single “Helpless” and “Young Lonely”, assisting Walden, whose golden pipes require very little help in belting out every note.

Sum 41

Next up is Sum 41, whose 2016 album 13 Voices finds the band in a sort of resurgence. Although never truly absent from the scene, this collection of surprisingly aggressive material has seemingly breathed new life into the band, which shows during performances of “Fake My Own Death” and “Goddamn I’m Dead Again”.

Deryck Whibley has always been a joy to watch on stage, carrying himself like a true punk elder statesman. Transitioning from smirk to scowl, Whibley leads the crowd in sing-alongs as they rip through their set. Even though it’s a blast to hear new material, there’s still nothing quite like singing along to classics like “In Too Deep” and “Fat Lip”, which sound just as good as ever.

As Pierce the Veil explode into the evening’s final set, it’s easy to see why they remain one of the most electric bands in the genre. Per usual, their stage presence is on point with lead guitarist Tony Perry and bassist Jaime Preciado bounding across the stage amid flashes of light. Vocalist Vic Fuentes commands the crowd from behind the mic while his brother Mike powers the set forward from his drum kit, appropriately mounted atop a giant stack of dynamite.

Pierce the Veil

Something that feels slightly lost in the buzz surrounding Misadventures is the fact that the band recently passed the decade mark, with their debut album A Flair for the Dramatic turning 10 years old this year. Placed amidst hits from Misadventures and Collide with the Sky, the band take time to play classics like “Yeah Boy and Doll Face” and “Stay Away From My Friends”. These moments serve as reminders that Pierce the Veil have been on the rise for a while now, and these older songs are still just as fun to sing along to as they were when the band were sweating out club shows in the late aughts.

Pierce the Veil continue to set the standard for this scene, not only in terms of inventive post hardcore, but with their dedication to extraordinary live performances. I’ve seen songs like “Caraphernelia” and “King for a Day” played countless times at this point, but it’s still a blast to see the energy the band brings to the stage show after show. If we’re lucky, our next wait for new music and another grand tour to show it off won’t last four long years.

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.

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Top 10 Songs of 2016

best-songs-of-2016

Check out our Top 10 Albums of 2016 here.

Perhaps more than ever, our top 10 songs of the year ran a gamut of emotions: heartbreak, social outcry, bittersweet, hopeful. In a year as up and down as 2016, it only makes sense. These songs cover an array of subject matter, but each one showcases the brilliance of the artist involved.

It’s always hard to pull 10 songs out of the context of a greater narrative and subjectively place them on a list. Nevertheless, we found ourselves reaching for the repeat button on the regular when these tunes graced our speakers. Take a look (and a listen) below to some of our favorite tracks from 2016.

10. Emarosa – “Helpless”

Smack-dab in the middle of the most smoldering and delicate album of Emarosa’s career lies “Helpless” – a bounding track chock full of energy and pop sensibility. On 131, a broken Bradley Walden fights for a lover with gentle pleas and fragile reflections before boiling over in this moment of heat. “If your body’s broken, love, your heart is helpless” he belts on the track’s chorus, using every inch his heralded range. Emarosa has made a career out of defying expectations and battling against the grain of vanilla song structures, but on “Helpless”, they dive headfirst into the most accessible song of their career – and the payoff is delightful. – Kiel Hauck

9. Honeyblood – “Ready for the Magic”

Although I just discovered Honeyblood within the last month, “Ready for the Magic” is a song that utterly captured my attention and hasn’t let go. It’s a perfect punk rock single – aggressive, loud and hypnotically catchy. For a garage punk song from a two-member act, it has more heart and energy than most bands with a fuller roster. A practice in simplicity, “Ready for the Magic” proves that punk rock doesn’t need to constantly redefine itself to be relevant; it just has to be good. – Kyle Schultz

8. Architects – “Gone with the Wind”

Less than three months after the release of All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, the scene received the terrible news of Tom Searle’s passing. As lead guitarist and songwriter for British metalcore giants Architects, Searle left us with one final masterpiece, which took on a completely new and powerful meaning in light of his three-year battle with cancer. “Gone with the Wind” is a powerhouse of a song, relenting ever so slightly for the brittle lines of, “A sickness with no remedy except the ones inside of me”. Not only is the track a lesson in mechanical metalcore perfection, it’s a heartbreaking gaze inside a terrible one-sided fight. “I remember when you said to me, ‘My friend, hope is a prison’”. – KH

7. Green Day – “Bang Bang”

“Bang Bang” is easily the best single Green Day has put out in over a decade, as well as the most aggressive. The entire song is a tip of the hat to the band’s style at the beginning of their careers. It’s also one of the most controversial in the genre, as it tackles the subject of being a mass shooter. A hybrid of classic punk and 20 years of writing the most aggressive rock known to man, “Bang Bang” managed to silence anyone who has complained about the band’s evolving sound over the last decade while still pushing the band to new extremes. – KS

6. The 1975 – “Somebody Else”

Once you dig past the shiny surface of self-deprecating satire and proverbial winks at the camera, I Like it When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It is truly an album filled with a deep sincerity. Perhaps no track on the album embodies Matt Healy’s candid struggle as well as “Somebody Else” – a syrupy, synth-driven slow jam straight out of the George Michael playbook. Not only does “Somebody Else” solidify The 1975 as the leaders of the pack in an age of throwback pop influence, it covers subject matter with which we’re all painfully familiar. Even so, Healy takes it one step further, digging deep into the bitterness of seeing your lover with another: “Get someone you love / Get someone you need / Fuck that, get money”. – KH

5. Blink-182 – “Los Angeles”

The most experimental song on California, “Los Angeles” is a bridge between Blink-182 and vocalist Matt Skiba’s other love, Alkaline Trio. Meshing the sounds of ska, R&B and alternative punk , “Los Angeles” is a distinct track that begins as an Alkaline song before exploding into one of the most Blink-182 sounding bridges ever written. It’s proof that Blink-182, though making a return to their original sound, are still pushing themselves sonically. The result is one of the most memorable songs of the band’s career. – KS

4. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People”

Released on the very week of one of the most startling and terrifying presidential elections in memory, We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service not only served as the acclaimed return of one of hip hop’s legendary acts, it served as the perfect protest music for the moment. Highlighting the affair is “We the People”, which finds Q-Tip mocking the despicable notion that anyone classified as “other” doesn’t belong, beginning a chorus for the ages with, “All you black folks, you must go / All you Mexicans, you must go”. It’s an anthem of dissent in a moment that left so many speechless, while simultaneously serving as a beautiful hello and goodbye to a dynamic duo. R.I.P Phife. – KH

3. Brian Fallon – “A Wonderful Life”

The lead single from his solo album, Painkillers, “A Wonderful Life” is the essential thesis for an album tracing the edges of the American Dream. The song is immediately memorable, linking the distance between Gaslight Anthem’s rock sensibilities and Fallon’s solo acoustic direction. The drum’s never ending march, the uplifting guitar, Fallon’s hopeful lyrics and the gang “Oh oh oh oh” vocals never become tiring. Though Fallon’s past work would never be described as dark or depressing, “A Wonderful Life” makes a distinct mark as a song about dreams and hope while cherishing its own bright sound. – KS

2. Kanye West – “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1”

You could easily argue “Ultralight Beam” as the track from The Life of Pablo deserving of this spot on our list. A wave of gospel accompanied by the verse of the year, courtesy of Chance the Rapper, showcases Ye as the elevator of new voices. It’s the album’s following track, “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” that displays his more complicated and troubling side. Future’s intro of “If Young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you” immediately crashes into Kid Cudi’s opening chorus of “Beautiful morning, you’re the sun in my morning, babe”. The track is the ultimate display of West’s duality, morphing from a tasteless story about meaningless sex with a model into a fast-paced confessional booth just moments later. Before we can react, Kanye has already predestined our response: “Everybody gonna say something / I’d be worried if they said nothing”. – KH

1. Yellowcard – “Rest in Peace”

The last great Yellowcard single, “Rest in Peace” is perfect in construction. A straightforward rock song, the track was released alongside a statement that Yellowcard would be disbanding after the release of their self-titled album. Featuring a music video highlighting their career and inviting fans to see them off with one final tour, “Rest in Peace” will always be a symbol of the band’s love of what they accomplished and their loyal fans. With Sean Mackin’s violin leading the charge, Ryan Key’s sprawling vocals, and a swelling guitar solo, “Rest in Peace” tackles everything that made Yellowcard one of the best bands in rock while marking one of the most memorable send offs in music. – KS

Honorable Mention:

Halsey – “Colours”
Frank Ocean – “Pink + White”
Chance the Rapper – “No Problem”
Letlive. – “Good Mourning, America”
Future featuring The Weeknd – “Low Life”
Blink-182 – “Built This Pool”

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 2016: Make Some Noise

against-the-current-warped-splash

Warped Tour can be an oppressive affair. Sweltering heat, oversized crowds and a fair amount of uncomfortable controversy all make for a cruel mixture. Yet for all of the obstacles, Warped Tour still offers a platform for up and coming bands and a meeting ground for music fans of all kinds. Now in its 22nd year of existence, the country’s largest traveling music festival is a well-oiled machine.

Per usual, this year’s trek offers up a variety of acts, both new and old, that span across multiple genres. Some bands are using the tour as a chance to say “goodbye,” while others are just making an introduction.

After attending Warped Tour’s recent stop in Indianapolis, we decided to highlight a few of the bands that are shining bright this summer. Whether you’re a fan of pop punk, metalcore, post-hardcore or pop, there’s no shortage of sets you won’t want to miss on this year’s tour. Take a look below!

Mayday Parade

Mayday Parade has come a long way since their days following Warped Tour in a van in 2006, handing out CDs to bystanders in line. The Tallahassee, Florida, outfit is a full-scale rock behemoth that once again finds itself gracing the main stage. With the release of last year’s Black Lines, Mayday Parade has fully transitioned from pop punk heroes to an alt-rock powerhouse. Even with an impressive new collection of songs at their disposal, the band still finds time to play fan favorites like “Black Cat”, “Jersey” and “Jamie All Over”

Mayday Parade

Mayday Parade

Against the Current

After signing with Fueled by Ramen and releasing their smash debut album In Our Bones, pop rockers Against the Current look primed to take over the scene. With the confident Chrissy Constanza behind the mic, the band deliver loads of melody perfect for summer sing-alongs. With a solid debut under their belt and a fan base growing larger by the day, don’t be surprised if Against the Current find themselves on the main stage in the very near future.

Against the Current

Against the Current

Yellowcard

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Sure, it’s devastating to consider Yellowcard’s upcoming disbandment following the release of their self-titled album in September, but at least fans are getting another chance to hear their favorite songs. This summer on Warped, Yellowcard reaches back, playing a variety of fan favorites, including four tracks from their smash album Ocean Avenue. Warped Tour won’t be the same without Yellowcard, but we’re thankful that we get to say goodbye.

Yellowcard

Yellowcard

The Word Alive

Even though Phoenix metalcore act The Word Alive are still a relatively young band, they’re now Warped veterans, spending their fourth summer on the tour. With Dark Matter, the band has evolved from their beginnings, offering a taste of experimental rock and even nu metal sounds. Their setlist is a wild ride, especially with Tyler “Telle” Smith on the mic, working the crowd into a frenzy.

The Word Alive

The Word Alive

Secrets

San Diego’s Secrets have had their fair share of re-birth, now enlisting their third vocalist in Wade Walters to handle screaming duties. Multiple changes behind the mic have done little to slow the band down, though, with last year’s Everything That Got Us Here being the band’s strongest work to date. Walters and clean vocalist and guitarist Richard Rogers are now one of the scene’s best one-two punches, providing fans with plenty of reason to jump around in the pit.

Secrets

Secrets

Sleeping with Sirens

Sleeping with Sirens have not only climbed the Warped ladder through the years, they’ve also covered a lot of sonic ground that has kept the band fresh in the eyes and ears of their fans. Last year’s Madness finds the band experimenting with pop elements in addition to ragers like “We Like it Loud” and “Kick Me”, which elicit excitement from the Warped Tour crowd.

Sleeping with Sirens

Sleeping with Sirens

Emarosa

Moments after the rest of Emarosa takes the stage for their set at Warped, vocalist Bradley Walden shoots into the crowd, performing “Miracle” from inside the pit. It’s the kind of energy that makes this summer tour such a blast for fans, especially when you consider the heart and soul poured into the band’s latest release, 131. Walden and company have taken their game to a whole new level, which is saying a lot for one of the most captivating bands in the post-hardcore scene.

Emarosa

Emarosa

Real Friends

Considering the clamor surrounding their debut, it’s still incredible to see how much Real Friends has upped the ante with their new release, The Home Inside My Head. The band continues to come into their own, now gracing the main stage for this summer’s Warped Tour. Dan Lambton bounds about the stage wailing with passion while the rest of the band drives their set forward, much to the crowd’s delight. Sometimes singing the saddest songs can still be a joyous affair.

Real Friends

Real Friends

I See Stars

It’s possible that Treehouse is the most criminally underrated album of 2016. The latest from electronicore act I See Stars finds Devin Oliver handling full vocal duty for the first time, and his stage presence at Warped is something to behold. The band still brings the house down with hits like “Murder Mitten” and “Filth Friends Unite”, but showcase newfound potential with new tracks like “Mobbin’ Out”. On their third full trek on the summer tour, I See Stars are sounding better than ever.

I See Stars

I See Stars

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.

Emarosa Release Music Video for “But You Won’t Love a Ghost”

Emarosa1

Post-hardcore vets Emarosa have released a new music video for the song “But You Won’t Love a Ghost”. The black and white video was directed Graham Fielder and captures the dark feel of the song. The track is the latest single from 2014’s stellar Versus. Check out the video below:

What’s your favorite song from Versus? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

10 Bands You Can’t Miss on Warped Tour 2015

warped_tour_2015

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.

Top 10 Albums of 2014

best_of_2014

Look, we don’t like this any more than you do. These end-of-the-year lists are tedious, obnoxious, self-indulgent…

Aw, who are we kidding – we love it! Even though it’s technically impossible to subjectively rank this year’s best albums, we took our best stab at it. This year was chock full of fantastic releases, many of which won’t be mentioned here because there simply isn’t enough room (or time) to spotlight all of them.

Nevertheless, senior editor Kyle Schultz and I put our heads together and came up with 10 worthy suitors to be a part of our second-annual Top 10 Albums of the Year list. Take a gander, then let us know what your favorite records of the year were in the replies!

every_time_i_die10Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown

From Keith Buckley’s repeated opening shrieks of, “Blow your fucking brains out!” on “The Great Secret” to his final desperate cries of, “All I want is for everyone to go to hell / It’s the last place I was seen before I lost myself” during the final crushing breakdown on “Idiot”, From Parts Unknown is unforgiving and unrelenting. Who knew a band 16 years into its career could craft what may be their most punishing and challenging album? With From Parts Unknown, Every Time I Die don’t just want to carve their name into the stone temple of metalcore lore, they want to burn the whole damn thing to the ground. – Kiel Hauck

fireworks9Fireworks – Oh, Common Life

Oh, Common Life is the type of album that reminds you of an intimate conversation with a close friend. Fireworks’ distinct pop punk style is softened to allow for more melody while vocalist David Mackinder sings a hypnotic tale of maturation that comes with the bigger life changes during your twenties and the isolation that the world can impose on you.  While it starts off very poppy, the album slowly branches and touches on styles of playing that Fireworks have never tackled before as the lyrics grow more somber and accepting of life (“The Hotbed of Life”). It’s hard to say that Oh, Common Life was what fans of the band were expecting, but it’s what they deserved. – Kyle Schultz

copeland8Copeland – Ixora

Parting was sweet sorrow for fans of indie rock act Copeland, who closed up shop in 2010. Their surprising return is more than a mere nostalgia trip, it’s a return to rare form with their new album Ixora. The band is more playful than ever, sending listeners into a dream-like trance throughout the album’s 10 tracks that include haunting electronics, prancing pianos, and even a saxophone solo. Frontman Aaron Marsh is still on top of his game, adding to his vocal repertoire during the silky-smooth chorus of “Like a Lie”. From front to back, Ixora finds Copeland better than ever – here’s hoping there’s more where this came from. – KH

new_found_glory7New Found Glory – Resurrection

Resurrection is the first New Found Glory album in several years to sound like a classic. The new four-piece rebuild their sound to be more succinct and brutal, mixing their signature pop with much heavier guitars and a thundering bass. Each member pushes their musicianship to their limits with lyricism and themes that are significantly angrier than past work. While the songs are undeniably catchy and easy to sing along to (“Selfless”), they can make the listener uncomfortable (“The Worst Person”), which may have been the point given how much the band went through in the last year. As a longtime listener of the band though, it’s easy to see how much passion and energy went into creating a record that would rise above the trials that hit them all at once. – KS

emarosa6Emarosa – Versus 

The loss of lead vocalist Jonny Craig appeared to spell disaster for Emarosa after the band released their stellar self-titled record in 2010. Not so fast. Emarosa roared back in 2014 with Bradley Walden at the mic, releasing the best album of the band’s career. Versus is rife with conflict, but it’s a struggle that produces something beautiful. When Walden flips the script just over a minute into opening track “People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play”, it feels like the sort of sonic shift that not only changes the course of the band’s trajectory, but one that slams the door shut on the past. – KH

weezer5Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Say what you will about Weezer, there’s no denying that when they feel like it, they can put out a masterpiece of an album. The aptly titled Everything Will Be Alright In the End is the band’s answer to years of criticism regarding their constantly evolving sound. The new album sounds like a lovechild between Blue, Green, and Maladroit, blending the respective sounds of fuzzed guitars, catchy pop songs and thrashing rock. Rivers Cuomo tagged the album as a ‘classic’ in the press leading up to its release, and he couldn’t have been more correct. It’s the first release from the band that doesn’t necessarily break new ground for their sound, but it recaptures the magic that made the band an international mainstay. – KS

against_me4Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Gender confusion and transgender identity are topics that have been at the front of people’s minds this year, which makes it all the more appropriate that Transgender Dysphoria Blues arrived just a couple weeks into the New Year. Not only is it Against Me!’s best rock album, it’s one of the most daring in that it follows the story of a transgender prostitute that mimics Tom Gabel’s transformation into Laura Jane Grace. The album is a tight series of fist-pumping songs that are just as heartbreaking as they are catchy. In the opening title track, Grace sings, “Your tells are so obvious / Shoulders too broad for a girl / Helps you remember where you come from / You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress / You want them to see you like they see any other girl / They just see a faggot”. The album is a powerful and ferociously angry statement about transgender issues in this country, as well as the struggle for people dealing with them. – KS

yellowcard3Yellowcard – Lift a Sail

Born from a tragic skiing accident that left vocalist/guitarist Ryan Key’s fiancé paralyzed from the waist down, Lift a Sail is a painful song of triumph. The band drops what was left of their pop punk roots and forges ahead with powerful, anthemic rock tracks and explosive piano ballads. Violinist Sean Mackin has never sounded better, adding texture and layers to the songs that don’t overpower, but instead compliment the entirety of the band’s new sound. Lift a Sail is encouraging as it is aching, as determined as it is vulnerable. Just when you thought it couldn’t be done, Yellowcard has topped themselves once again. – KH

aaron_west2Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties – We Don’t Have Each Other

Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties is more than just another side project. It’s one of the few concept albums to not only have a tangible story, but a character that garners genuine sympathy. The acoustic songs mix enough new elements to sound unique, and enough of The Wonder Years’ brash style to show the versatility of their music. Dan Campbell weaves a vibrantly real, dark and heartbreaking story that never feels cliché or forced. As Aaron cracks more and more with each song, Campbell’s vocals are pushed to their limit as he jumps from soft whispers, to screams, and then singing the words of a conversation, sounding as though he’s on the brink of tears. The range of themes and universal fears crammed into the album are absolutely awe-inspiring. It’s easily one of the most emotional pieces I’ve heard in years and is unlike most anything else out there. There is little doubt that he is on a level of lyricism his peers can only hope to achieve. – KS

architects1Architects – Lost Forever // Lost Together

How did a modern metalcore album land our number one spot for 2014? By rattling the well-worn conventions of the genre and spitting at the notion that the music is beyond redemption. Lost Forever // Lost Together is the best album Architects have crafted, surpassing even 2009’s mammoth of a record, Hollow Crown. Vocalist Sam Carter is full of fire from the outset, roaring across tracks of technical guitar riffs and skull-rattling breakdowns. The album is angry, sure, but you can hear the band searching for something more – something deeper. Lost Forever // Lost Together is a metalcore album that makes you think, challenges the scene’s apathy, and forges a new path for any heavy band that dare follow. When Carter bellows, “You said we’ll never make a difference / Maybe this battle is to fight indifference” on “Naysayer”, you feel the sentiment pouring from every fiber of his being. – KH

Honorable Mention:

PVRIS – White Noise

Merriment – Sway

I Can Make a Mess – Growing In

Anberlin – Lowborn

Taylor Swift – 1989

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.

Emarosa release music video for “I’ll Just Wait”

Emarosa1

Fresh off of the release of their new album, Versus, Emarosa have released a music video for the track “I’ll Just Wait”. Versus is the band’s third full length album and first since 2010’s Emarosa. If you haven’t heard it yet, check out our review, then go buy the album on iTunes.

You can watch the video below:

The band will be heading out on tour this fall with Yellowcard and Memphis May Fire.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Emarosa – Versus

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In truth, most of us never thought this record would happen. It’s been four long years since Lexington, Kentucky, post hardcore act Emarosa released their triumphant self-titled record, and final with enigmatic frontman Jonny Craig. That parting of ways seemed like a death wish for the band, but what has risen from the ashes rivals that of anything the band has ever released.

So perhaps it’s appropriate that this new album is titled Versus. However, this sort of terminology leads one down a rabbit hole of comparisons. Craig versus newly recruited vocalist Bradley Walden. The band’s old sound versus their new one. Emarosa versus Versus.

These are all worthwhile debates to be had, but they overshadow one glaring fact. Versus is a damn good record in its own right.

On first listen, you won’t find yourself too shocked. The brooding bass lines, chaotic time changes and soulful, vocal runs that we’ve come to expect are all present. But with each exposure to these tracks, you’ll find something more – namely a band that has truly mastered its craft and sound more than almost any other in the scene.

Versus is rife with conflict, from its lyrical wrestlings to its frantic sonic tug of war. Just over one minute into opening track “People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play”, Whalden cuts himself off in mid note as the music dies down before a crashing transition highlighted by Whalden wailing, “We’re burning bridges down to the fire below”. Whether this moment is a ferocious statement of the band’s new direction or a nod to the smoldering past behind them seems irrelevant. Its purpose is to set off a fierce and unpredictable journey – and that it does.

Truthfully, almost every track on Versus is a step forward for the band. “American Déjà Vu” features one of Emarosa’s best choruses, driven by pristine drumming from Lukas Koszewski, who had quietly become one of the best drummers in the scene before his exit from the band shortly before the album’s release.

“I’ll Just Wait” treads a new, poppier ground for the band while lead single “Mad” captures the uneasy, unpredictable feel of classic Emarosa and features stellar guitar work from ER White and Jonas Ladekjaer.

The band hits a new high water mark with “Say Hello to the Bad Guy”, an eerie track that grows slowly, requiring patience and intent listening to capture the full sound. Whalden transitions effortlessly between a delicate falsetto and soulful croons atop the music, seeming to carve the melody almost on the fly. The song reaches its crescendo when Whalden belts out the chill-inducing line, “You can have me but I’m broken in two”.

No matter what sound the band chases, they capture it and leave it stamped with their signature. This sort of unpredictable, unstable songwriting takes a true talent to keep you on the edge of your seat instead of walking away. Versus is emotionally and sonically abrasive in a way that keeps you waiting and hoping for a resolution.

Those resolutions are few and far between for Whalden, who breaks away from standard breakup songwriting, turning his frustration toward matters of faith, doubt and regret. There’s a relational element here, but he’s digging at much deeper nerves. When he sings, “When it’s all said and done, on the run is not where I want to be” on “Same Tight Rope”, you feel the weight of each moment on the album staring him down.

In the end, Versus stands as Emarosa’s best work – a powerful album that spotlights a band with more musical chops than most of their peers. The band has always gone against the grain, never quite fitting in with the scene around them and defiantly treading their own path. If Versus marks a new era and resurgence for the band, it’s been kicked off with a bang. If Versus proves to be a swan song, Emarosa certainly didn’t go down without a fight.

4.5/5

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.

Emarosa release new song titled “Mad”

emarosa

It’s been a long wait, but Lexington, Ky., post-hardcore act Emarosa is back. The band has released “Mad”, the first single from their upcoming album titled Versus. The song is the band’s first released music since their 2010 self-titled album and their first with new lead vocalist, former Squid the Whale frontman Bradley Walden. Check out “Mad” below:


Versus
does not currently have an official release date, but will be dropping later this year on Rise Records. What are your thoughts on the new track? Does it measure up to the band’s past work? Let us know your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck