Review: The Regrettes – How Do You Love?

Music videos are dead. The last video that caught my attention enough to follow the band was OK Go’s “Here It Goes Again” (and every one since then). But when a video catches you correctly, it can spawn a lifelong love for the band. I still remember where I was when I saw the iPod commercial featuring The Fratellis’ “Flathead”. I thought those days were dead. But sometimes, magic strikes out of nowhere. Such is the case with The Regrettes.

You can buy or stream How Do You Love? on Apple Music.

Like The Fratellis, after seeing their video for the single, “I Dare You”, not only did I count down the days until the release of their sophomore album How Do You Love?, but the single that hooked me turned out to be one of my least favorite tracks when compared to the rest of the album. The Regrettes are a force to be reckoned with, and they’ve only just begun.

“I Dare You” is a great song that is paired with an infectiously creative music video. But it doesn’t convey the power behind the rest of the album. How Do You Love? is a tamed rock album that feels just as confident behind power chords as it does the quiet reflection on the chaos of relationships. On a weird level, How Do You Love? is an awkward concept album about the glorious feelings and dreadful lows of falling in love. The energy behind the music conveys the feelings enough to feel the pulse of budding romance. Just try not to feel butterflies while listening to the anxious energy of “California Friends”.

Guitarists Genessa Gariano and Lydia Night sway effortlessly as they blend raging garage punk, giddy pub rock and tender acoustics (“How Do You Love?”). They manage to harness a balance in songwriting that rests comfortably between the indie sound of Rilo Kiley and The Hives’ frantic need to kick down a wall, while still sounding unique from either. Bassist Brooke Dickson threatens to steal every song (“Here You Go”), and drummer Drew Thomsen keeps the songs playful and attentive (“Dress Up”).

Vocalist Lydia Night is at home maintaining a balance that is equal parts punk and quietly contemplative. She adjusts song from song to portray the high or low of falling in love, but never loses attention. “California Friends” explores the awkward touch and go of attraction and the electrifying feeling it gives, as she sings over fuzzed guitars, “Check out this band from California / I can make you a playlist of their songs / Won’t you come and hold me close now?”

“Coloring Book” finds that breathless sensation of being completely overtaken by someone else. An amped acoustic song, Night emotes against the silence as much as the music as she sings, “I can’t believe you’re sitting next to me / Just open up your eyes and tell me, what do you see? / Do you see somebody looking back at you / Or do you see somebody that’s in love with you?”

Meanwhile, the title song, “How Do You Love?” harnesses the pub rock aspect as Night laments not understanding what it takes to keep a relationship, despite the intense feelings that cropped up throughout the album (“It’s the little things I can’t understand / How they love, lie, pass it, and keep holding hands”).

The Regrettes are an impressive young band. How Do You Love? is an album that bases itself on the most basic of premises (a rock album about adolescent love) and still manages to hang with the best of bangers. It’s the type of album that makes you think rock can still be a mainstream hit. More importantly, it’s the type of album that friends bond over and draws people to music.

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 is petting the head of a toy Tyrannosaurus Rex instead of his cat. He regrets nothing.

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Review: Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

It wasn’t that long ago that I was commenting to someone on the possibility that Billie Eilish may truly mark the long-expected demise of “the album.” The Los Angeles-born teen became a viral pop sensation via individual tracks and experiences released to YouTube and has continued climbing in profile song-by-song, seemingly without record industry assistance.

You can buy or stream When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? on Apple Music.

Yet here we are in early 2019 with her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? released via Interscope Records. So maybe Eilish won’t hammer the final nail into antiquated music-consumption practices (yet), but she certainly stands to be the next in line to turn pop music on its head.

Right from the start, it’s clear that Eilish is pulling at the dark, dread-filled sounds she began exploring on some of her best 2018 tracks. Indeed, “Bad Guy” and “Xanny” follow in the footsteps of hits like “You Should See Me in a Crown” and “When the Party’s Over”, which fit right in on the front half of When We All Fall Asleep.

“All the Good Girls Go to Hell” feels like the culmination of Eilish’s brooding explorations and has already been added to my next Halloween party playlist. She truly excels when leaning into her youthful agnostic indifference and tying it to fuzzy, bass-heavy production. You can practically see her smirk as she delivers the lines, “Pearly Gates look more like a picket fence / Once you get inside ‘em / Got friends but can’t invite them”.

Yet for all of the ways Eilish displays her angst and wit in the way only a teenager can, she truly shows her depth as an artist when the music dies down a little. What’s amazing is that the themes she explores so deliciously to buzz and bass sound much more thoughtful and poignant when delivered quietly.

The back half of When We All Fall Asleep feels like someone is slowly turning down the volume before closing with “Goodbye”. Here, we see past the veneer as Eilish sings lines like, “The world’s a little blurry / Or maybe it’s my eyes” on “Ilomilo” or when she digs at depression and suicidal thoughts on “Listen Before I Go”, singing, “Tell me love is endless / Don’t be so pretentious / Leave me like you do”.

Last year, “When the Party’s Over” showed us a potential roadmap to these kinds of moments, and the album reaches its high water mark with “I Love You”, a quiet, acoustic duet with her brother Finneas. The tale of a complicated relationship, it’s a reminder of how real feelings can feel, no matter your age or experience. Eilish is creating art for a younger generation of music followers, but the core concepts here are timeless.

None of this is easy to do, and it speaks to the deep talent of a 17-year-old who got started writing songs in her bedroom, just like almost every great artist. Yes, there’s filler and missteps and the general type of experimentation that makes debut albums more mystery than definition. Nevertheless, Billie Eilish has cemented herself as a bonafide pop star, even she’d have you believe she has no interest in filling that role. That’s typically how the best kinds of stories begin.

4/5

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.

Review: Jon Fratelli – Bright Night Flowers

Jon Fratelli has been one of my favourite songwriters for over a decade. His sense of electric storytelling, bouncing guitars and sing-a-long choruses have made some of the best Brit pop of the 2000’s. Allegedly recorded several years ago, Bright Night Flowers, Jon’s second solo album, was delayed after the reunion of The Fratellis. Freshly re-recorded, Bright Night Flowers finds its footing in that as much as it’s a continuation of Jon’s knack for storytelling, it is the least like his signature sound out of anything released throughout his career.

You can buy or stream Bright Night Flowers on Apple Music.

Bright Night Flowers is a soft album. Inspired equally from southwestern country and indie piano ballads, the album is a series of slow-burners, heavy on orchestration and slow escalation. On first listen, Bright Night Flowers has a tough time differentiating songs from one another. Violins, twinkling piano keys and Jon’s crooning vocals can sound remarkably similar from track to track. However, Bright Night Flowers is arguably the first album since Jon’s side project, Codeine Velvet Club, that sounds like it is meant to be taken in as a full piece.

Bright Night Flowers is a minor concept album of seeing the follies of being in love from the eyes of someone who is heartbroken, wishing the world around him the best with a cynical tone, such as in the title track (“A thousand Juliets are driving every boy out of his mind / Crying in the rain wishing she was still the first of her kind”). However, reading far too much into it as is my wont, it could potentially be argued that the album follows a loose concept of a heartbroken man who falls in love with a prostitute (“Hold out your hand, take whatever you please / How can you love when you’re down on your knees? / Burn this disguise, wipe those blue eyes”. – “After a While”).

Though it lacks the rock heavy elements from most of Jon’s various projects, Bright Night Flowers still sounds like a Jon Fratelli album. The signature curl of his vocals reflect throughout each song, even if he isn’t stressing his voice for something new. And though this album is slower, it’s not completely foreign. “Crazy Lovers Song” sounds like an acoustic track left off of The Fratellis’ Here We Stand and “Dreams Don’t Remember Your Name” is reminiscent of the style of In Your Own Sweet Time.

Bright Night Flowers isn’t as much a different direction for Jon Fratelli as much as it is a soft building of an idea from track to track. Different listeners will find either jaded love songs with dreamy lyrics, or a disenchanted storyline to follow depending on how much time they’re willing to put into it. Equally relaxing as it is brutally cynic, it’s a welcome return to the mesmerizing storytelling Jon does so well, even if doesn’t incite you to dance.

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 HAS TOO MUCH TELEVISION!!! There is so much to watch, and not enough time to learn how to make wicker baskets.

Review: Matt and Kim – Almost Everyday

I’ve been on a huge indie pop streak this year. I loved MANIA by emo kings Fall Out Boy, but lately I keep returning to Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life by The Wombats and Always Ascending by Franz Ferdinand. My spring playlist consists of Bad Suns and Smallpools, but nowhere to be found was anything from the Brooklyn duo Matt and Kim. That may have been because they haven’t released any music since 2016 and simply fell off my radar. The real reason is that I’ve never listened to anything but their 2009 single “Daylight.” Sorry, Matt and Kim.

You can buy Almost Everyday on Apple Music.

I don’t know what it is lately but all the albums being released seem to be about death and loss and how generally bad the world is to live in these days. While these things are all inevitable and true, Matt and Kim took the opportunity to lighten the mood with their latest album Almost Everyday. Okay, the songs are still sad but at least there’s some synth as a distraction. We’re all having a hard time with trying to find the silver lining in society, and Matt and Kim express it this way in the first single, “Forever”: “Don’t want to live forever / If things stay like this.” Big mood.

The album has a lot of 80s vibes and, if I can make a weird comparison, sounds like those jackets covered in random geometric shapes look. I know that’s vague and doesn’t make much sense, but it has a very cubic feel to me.

“Like I Used to Be” reminisces on how things were when Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino were young. They talk about broken down cars and partying late. He sings, “And yeah, the sails have set / But I’m not dead yet”. This theme continues in the next track, “I’d Rather”, which is one of my favorites. One of things that sets Matt and Kim apart is their recognizable use of piano, and it’s displayed best on this track.

My other favorite track is “Happy If You’re Happy”. I really like the lyricism and tone of it. I just think it’s adorable and can imagine it playing at my wedding. A lot of this album talks about being sure to live a life with aspects worth remembering. They talk a lot about being older and remembering things but they also have a lot of present memories that they talk about, too. They haven’t lost their sense of fun. It’s a nice reminder that growing up doesn’t have to mean growing up. Sure we’ll have bills and funerals and a lot of “adult” things to do, but we can also make memories that don’t involve the mundane. We can still have adventures.

Almost Everyday isn’t my favorite album. I don’t think it’s my style. I’m sure it will resonate with some people, but I don’t think this will be one I’ll play regularly. I think the synth is a little bit overdone for my taste. It sounds almost industrial at times, which is a cool effect, but it’s used too much and kind of makes up for the fact that it isn’t very lyrically exciting. All of the songs touch on the same themes and while that usually makes for a cohesive album, the way Matt and Kim went about it just makes it redundant. That being said, it’s still well produced and has some gems that may end up on a playlist.

3/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Julien Baker Releases Music Video for “Turn Out the Lights”

Just a mere two weeks away from her highly anticipated sophomore record Turn Out the Lights, Julien Baker has released a new music video for the album’s title track. “Turn Out the Lights” features a slow build toward its emotional, swirling ending, much like the album’s first single, “Appointments”.

Only 21 years old, Baker has quickly become masterful at emotive depictions of depression, loneliness and a search for hope. On her latest track, she searches for the courage to battle her demons alone, crying out, “When I turn out the lights / There’s no one left between myself and me”. Take a look at the video below:

All of the feels, right? You can preorder Turn Out the Lights at Matador Records’ online store. Are you excited for the new album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Superet: The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of

It’s something you hear for years, but it appears to be an inevitability: no matter how much you try, it’s just harder to get into newer bands when you get older. It’s something that has had a slow build-up in me for the last few years. There are a crazy amount of up-and-comers that have potential, but at 30 years old, it takes more than teenage angst to catch my attention.

Another inevitability is the feeling that the best albums you’ll ever hear are already behind you. There are some magical works of art that come out every year, but it has been half of a decade since something has shattered my world the way that The Fratellis’ Costello Music did when it forced me to park my car and finish a song because I couldn’t focus on anything else. Nothing has fueled my system with the energy of hearing Green Day’s American Idiot, or truly found my soul like The Wonder Years for so long.

But every now and then, you find something truly amazing.

A month ago, I attended the Chicago show for Dreamcar, the supergroup of AFI’s Davy Havok and the members of No Doubt filling out the rest of the band. It was truly a great show. But what I took away from it, arguably more than anything is that a month later, I am still reliving their opening band’s set, even though I literally only know one of their songs.

Superet is a band I had never heard of before that night. They took the stage as the only opening band, with two keyboards on either side of the stage, and fuzzy haired vocalist Matt Blitzer sporting a tight jacket. From the very start, they shattered my world.

The only way I know how to describe their sound, from memory, is that it was as if Jack White had penned his own version of Costello Music. The energy, the hypnotic percussion and the attitude paid off in ways that would seem hacky for a lesser band. It’s as if the indie rock of 2006 had been maturing like a fine wine, finally exploding with the craze of Hot Hot Heat and the temperament of Jon Fratelli.

No instrument or talent felt wasted. Guitarist Isaac Tamburino jumped instantly from guitar to tambourine to keyboards and back within a single song. Every song was more impressive than the one before it, with one breakdown reminding me of a more frantic rock version of the second half of Motion City Soundtrack’s “Time Turned Fragile”.

It took a long time to realize just how obsessed I was with the band, mostly due to noticing just how often I was Googling their name for a release date of any music. Currently, there is only one single, “Pay It Later”. It was my least favorite of their songs, and my current play count for that song alone is nearing 60 after just a few weeks.

It’s a relief to find a band that reaffirms your love of music from time to time. Age can wear down enthusiasm, but it can never kill it. And I am enthused. I am hunting for any information about an EP, or an LP, or even another single.

I truly believe that a band that is, with one single, represented by the same press company as Green Day and Panic! At the Disco (literally the only information I could find other than a Facebook page), Superet is on the verge of becoming either one of the most talked about under-the-radar bands out there, or one of the biggest.

Check out the band’s new seizure-infused video for “Pay It Later” and get a free download of the song at their site. Just thought you should know.

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 is a creep. Really, what a no good person. Throw apples at his face if you can.

Review: Bleachers – Gone Now

There is a sharp juxtaposition between the title of Bleachers’ second full-length album Gone Now and its content. In fact, the lyrics across the album’s 12 tracks seem to long for things left behind – safety, familiarity, memories – before slowly drawing us back home.

When Jack Antonoff released Strange Desire under the name Bleachers in 2014, it felt full of promise as a potential side project with legs. The success of that debut and the subsequent dissolving of fun. has changed the narrative completely. During the past three years, Antonoff has become a household name thanks partly to his role as hit songwriter for the likes of Taylor Swift, Lorde and more.

You can buy Gone Now on iTunes.

This rapid turn of events helped elevate Gone Now to one of the year’s most anticipated releases. Did Antonoff deliver? Yes, but the reasons why are complicated. Gone Now further realizes the true pop potential of Bleachers, but the resulting collection of songs fire in such different directions that it’s hard to keep up.

Gone Now certainly takes its share of opportunities to relish in Antonoff’s own brand of synthpop, especially on early singles like “Don’t Take the Money” and “Hate That You Know Me”, but it refuses to follow a single thread. “Everybody Loves Somebody” features big drums and horns, sounding like it could have belonged to fun.’s follow up to Some Nights. Likewise, you can almost hear Nate Ruess’ voice atop the folksy banjo on “I’m Ready to Move On”, while the 80s-inspired powerpop banger “Let’s Get Married” sparkles with Hot A/C glee.

If it weren’t for Antonoff’s clever songwriting, Gone Now could easily have flown off the rails in any number of directions. Instead, consistent themes and lyrics are woven throughout each of the tracks to help provide focus, with frequent hellos and goodbyes to “upstairs neighbors” and “the kids downstairs”. It’s expert storytelling as Antonoff shakes away his pop stardom in an effort to find balance. “Hey, I know I was lost, but I miss those days” he tells us in one of many moments that acknowledge the lure of the past he wishes to leave behind.

It’s clear that Antonoff had every intention of weaving Gone Now in just this manner, even if it leaves some listeners troubled that he couldn’t just pick a sound and stick to it. Perhaps that’s part of the album’s brilliance in an age of streaming. Want to digest the story in one stream of thought? Want to cherry pick tracks to queue up as your mood dictates? The choice is yours, and you really can’t go wrong.

On Bleachers’ upcoming tour in support of the album, fans will have the opportunity to walk through Antonoff’s childhood bedroom, which is traveling along to provide a glimpse into the space that inspired a young Jack. It’s another purposefully sharp inverse image of his struggle, but it speaks to a greater truth. No matter where our lives take us, we can always find home along the way.

Antonoff’s skill and transparency give him the all-too-rare opportunity to be a likable pop star, even if he can’t seem to decide if that’s what he really wants. Either way, Gone Now will provide plenty to chew on and dance to as the summer passes through, no matter which direction you’re traveling.

4/5

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.

Review: Paramore – After Laughter

“Throw me into the fire / Throw me in, pull me out again”

With that repeated refrain during the bridge of “Told You So”, Hayley Williams sums up her experience in one of the most successful rock bands of the past decade. In case the bright lights and even brighter hair colors fooled you, being a part of Paramore is no walk in the park.

The cover art of Paramore’s 2005 debut album, All We Know is Falling, depicted the (first) painful departure of bassist Jeremy Davis and reckoned with broken trust. In the decade plus that followed, amidst a meteoric rise from Warped Tour side stages to amphitheaters and top 40 radio, loss, drama and pain has plagued the band, and their music has done little to spare us the details.

You can buy After Laughter on iTunes.

Even the Grammy-award winning “Ain’t it Fun” from 2013’s self-titled album was seething with resentment while draped in “Cruel Summer” sonic attire. The band’s evolution from pop punk to pop has been a gradual one, but Williams’ open-book policy regarding inner-band strife has been ever-present.

Thus, the simmering gloom that pervades Paramore’s fifth full-length album is no surprise, given another falling out, but neither is the band’s new 80s synthpop sound. Still, After Laughter may be the band’s greatest success, which should tell you a lot about how much better they are than just about any band to come from this scene.

After Laughter is heavily inspired by [insert your favorite 80s new wave band here] and follows in the recent footsteps of [insert your favorite indie synthpop band here]. But just as Paramore rode pop punk coattails to grand success with an album like the platinum-selling Riot!, Williams’ authenticity, candidness and ability to enrapture with her delivery make Paramore so much more interesting than whatever else you’re listening to.

If the band’s first single, “Hard Times”, didn’t grab you, just wait three minutes until “Rose Colored Boy” breaks through with Zac Farro’s drum machine, Taylor York’s effect pedal-heavy guitar, and Williams’ chant of “Low key, no pressure, just hang with me and my weather”. A tortured look into the necessity of depression in the face of pain becomes a soon-to-be summer anthem.

After Laughter is filled to the brim with tongue-in-cheek saccharine hooks and bubbling synthesizers while it digs deeper and deeper at old wounds. “Forgiveness” tackles the inability to forget: “And I don’t pick up when you call / Cause your voice is a gun, every word a bullet hole”. “Pool” ditches Williams’ past attempts at love ballads by dwelling on the dark: “But why get used to something new? / Cause no one breaks my heart like you”. Even the calm, acoustic “26” questions Williams’ past notions of hope in the face of adversity: “Survival will not be the hardest part / It’s keeping all your hopes alive / When all the rest of you has died”.

Yet for all of the aforementioned doom and gloom, perhaps the darkest theme explored on After Laughter is Paramore’s most self-referential yet. For a band that has watched their fan base balloon over the past decade, Williams is quick to dismiss her role as role model. Instead, she uses songs like “Idle Worship” to reveal her own lack of direction: “If I was you, I’d run from me or rip me open / You’ll see you’re not the only one who’s hopeless”.

“No Friend” employs mewithoutYou frontman Aaron Weiss to deliver another cruel message on behalf of the band, shouting, “I’m no savior of yours, and you’re no friend of mine”. It’s the harshest truth for any young fan to accept about their hero, and it’s what sets Paramore so far beyond their peers.

No matter the circumstances, Williams always left a door or window open for something new and better to appear, even if the light began to fade as the years passed. Songs like “Part II” and “Last Hope” on the self-titled album felt like flickering candles in the wind, gripping tightly to a final source of hope. You’ll be hard pressed to find any such notion on After Laughter, and I think we’re better for it.

As someone who suffers with chronic depression, I know what it’s like to fake a smile or conjure up a confident remark just to give peace and assurance to those around me. After Laughter is a reminder that sometimes those of us who struggle need to sit in our pain for however long it takes, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

As a fan of Paramore, I’m enthralled by the honesty and ironic delivery of what may be the best album of the band’s career. As a human, I can only hope that their next album, if we’re lucky enough to get one, finds Williams in a better place. But believe me, I get it. No rush, no pressure.

“Really all I’ve got is just to stay pissed off, if it’s alright by you”

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.

Copeland: Cracking Nostalgia in Chicago

copeland-splash

The Double Door is one of those classic music venues in Chicago that almost seems like a stereotype – tucked beneath a train line, it could appear to be a graffiti riddled wall easy to overlook. Inside, it shows its age with darks walls, dim lights and the vinyl-gleamed stucco that old buildings brandish like tattoos. This place was made for music, and even though its location seems pushed to the side, everyone in the city knows and respects its reputation.

There couldn’t be a better location for Copeland’s Now/Then tour. A band who has never particularly been directly in the spotlight, they have caught the attention of the highest aspects of the scene, be that vocalist Aaron Marsh’s recommendation plastered on the cover of arena-rockers Paramore’s debut album or gathering powerhouse talents like Ace Enders and Kenny Vasoli to open for their (first) farewell tour.

The Now/Then tour is an ethereal experience that might focus on the “best of,” but it encompasses every aspect of what makes them such a unique brand. Their writing is nearly orchestral in arrangement, which lends to the fact that they’re one of the few musical acts that might actually sound more polished live than recorded. With a tour structured on working backwards through their discography, Copeland have shown not particularly their growth as a band, but how well-crafted their music has been since Beneath the Medicine Tree came out 13 years ago.

rae-cassidyWith the floor filled with talkative hipsters finding the happy medium between a light buzz and shouting conversation, opener Rae Cassidy took the stage. Armed with three violinists and a ukulele, Cassidy set right in, lightly plucking against the swell of violins. Her voice, bright and powerful, seemed to silence the crowd instantly, with a round of shushing sweeping the back of the room.

A mix of pop and indie R&B, her music was a perfect hybrid of someone who seemed influenced by Copeland’s softness, but embraced multiple genres to flesh itself out, unafraid to let the violins and gentle pauses lead the song. Though the music was soft, her voice was beautiful.

Standing center stage like a princess in a summer dress, she sang with command. I couldn’t help but think of a female Kenny Choi from Wolftron (and Daphne Loves Derby) with country and folk influence imbued with the purpose of Lorde. I was left wondering not only how I had never heard of her before, but also how long it would be before she became a household name.

copeland-3While finishing her last song, Copeland took the stage, becoming her backing band while perfectly transitioning from her setlist to theirs. Their first song, “Not So Tough Found Out” (featuring Rae Cassidy!) suddenly became “Chin Up” as Rae left the stage, only to crop back up throughout the night to provide backing vocals. Her violinists remained on the side, adding to almost every song they played.

Split into two distinct playlists, their first set contained music exclusively from You Are My Sunshine and Ixora, including the version of “Ordinary” off of the companion Ixora: Twin album. It was a perfect ploy to lure back the drop-off fans, who listen to nothing but the “classic” albums. It’s easy to say that a band “doesn’t sound like they used to,” but watching them work backwards, it became obvious that Copeland has known their trajectory all along. It was fascinating to hear the crowd singing along louder with each song as they became more familiar with the material.

After an intermission, they returned to play from their better-known albums, In Motion and Eat, Sleep, Repeat. As expected, this set was much more energetic. Not only because the crowd as a whole knew the words to every song, but because it included the few pop songs with Aaron Marsh on guitar, including “No One Really Wins”. Paired against and after their new material, there was a distinct awareness of just how talented the band was in their younger years compared to their peers. Their first albums didn’t sound like a band finding itself, with singles that sound out of place compared to their current material. “You Have My Attention” stood out as it closed the set with Marsh hitting the perfect high note against the rapidly swelling guitars.

copeland-2After stepping away for just a second, Copeland reappeared for their encore: a full six song set from Beneath the Medicine Tree, arguably their most famed record. Featuring “Take Care”, “When Paula Sparks”, “Coffee” and ending on the bittersweet “California”, the band melted the room into an intoxicating atmosphere of nostalgia and profound romance.

Now/Then is a simple, but effective concept that manages to blur the line between a greatest hits tour and a timeline of artistry that shows the complexity and craft of a band unlike anything else in their genre. They may be tucked away from the obvious, but they were built for this all along.

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 now seen Copeland three times, twice awkwardly opening for punk bands, but holding their own. Aaron Marsh once hit the high note in “You Have My Attention” for what felt like a solid minute. He is for sure over exaggerating the recollection, but the crowd lost its mind cheering Marsh on as he tried to hold it as long as possible. Good times. Better than yours.

 

Review: The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

The-1975-2015-press

To experience I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It is to somehow concede that The 1975, the self-titled debut album from Brit rock’s hottest band, is substandard or amiss. This is, of course, not true, but everything about The 1975 in the year 2016 seems to want you to feel that way. Or do they?

On looks alone, it’s easy to view I Like it When You Sleep as the band’s big crossover moment. What was once dreary and shrouded in black in white is now buzzing with bright, fluorescent pink light. What once appeared aloof is now standing center stage awash in spotlight. For a band that in the not-too-distant past bristled at notions of boy bandom and pop celebrity, it’s hard not to view this as one giant wink at the camera.

The-1975-I-like-it-when-you-sleep

You can buy I Like It When You Sleep on iTunes.

All of the pieces are in place for what’s building toward an epic rock and roll fairy tale: an enigmatic frontman, sharply self-aware promotion, persistent interest from the press, and a rapidly growing fanbase that’s nearing a fever pitch. Yet for all of the pomp and circumstance swirling about this reintroduction, the music itself sounds shockingly like The 1975. So what the hell is going on?

This isn’t necessarily the metamorphosis you’ve been led to believe it is – it’s just a better, much more satisfying view of the details. You already know that humming synthesizers have replaced a few guitars on I Like It When You Sleep, but the dirty little secret is that the band’s fantastic sense of melody and pop tendencies were actually there all along. I Like It When You Sleep simply capitalizes on those strengths in delightful ways.

Go back and listen to songs like “Settle Down”, “Robbers” and “Girls” from the band’s debut to find the building blocks for “Love Me”, “She’s American” and “The Sound”. Gone is the greyed-out rock façade and in is a band basking in the glow of 80s pop pleasure. The influence runs deep on this record, but The 1975 have managed to turn a trend into something all their own.

I Like It When You Sleep is far more akin to popping ecstasy to fight off the demons than it is to chewing bubblegum. Vocalist Matthew Healy has fully transformed from detached frontman to starkly self-aware singer who appears to be fighting off his own caricature. “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me / A sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe”, he slurs out on soon-to-be-smash single “The Sound”.

On this venture, Healy has exchanged many of the lovelorn barbs from the band’s debut with razor sharp commentary on fame and success. “Caught up in fashion, Karcrashian panache / And a bag of bash for passion”, he seethes on the ironically titled “Love Me”. Yet there’s still plenty of room here for self-reflection – on the jazzy “If I Believe You”, the atheistic Healy finds himself questioning: “I’m broken and bleeding / And begging for help / And I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself”.

With its constant tonal shifts, I Like It When You Sleep plays much like a cry for help, aided by the album’s constantly evolving soundscape. Here, the band’s music is just as manic as Healy’s own thoughts, refusing to be trapped or pigeonholed. Included are the obvious crossover singles we were promised, but the album’s best moments come in unexpected packages. “Somebody Else” is the sultry, yearning track we’re accustomed to from the band, but this time it’s dressed to the nines in slick synthesizers and rich programmed drums, harkening “Careless Whisper” darkness, only much more distressing . “Get someone you love? / Get someone you need? / Fuck that, get money”, Healy tells himself.

“A Change of Heart” finds the band treading in similarly gentle waters, but this track is less smooth and more defined by odd and blippy electronics, with Healy reflecting on an old flame. It’s here that the singer’s bite returns for a moment, as he sings, “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine / Now you just look like anyone”, mirroring his more delicate side from “Robbers” on the band’s debut: “She had a face straight out a magazine…” It’s the same inverse image of Healy’s take on his own mental health found on 2013’s “Heart Out” and here on “The Sound”.

It’s probably cliché to call I Like It When You Sleep a rollercoaster ride, but the psychological twists and turns are sure to delight many pop fans in search of substance, even if the 74-minute run time leaves some listeners feeling ill. The constant callbacks to The 1975 serve not only as a polite nod to original fans, but also make clear how much the band has grown in terms of songwriting ability in three short years. The depth of Healy’s wicked back and forth struggle, coupled with the new sonic territory simply makes for a superior album in every way.

The 1975 have weathered their fair share of criticism in the time leading up to this release. For anyone who still believes that selling out is a thing or that exchanging guitar riffs for dance beats is an unforgivable sin, I Like It When You Sleep will be just the fodder they need to continue their tirade. There’s a lot to love here for those ready to embrace the band as they are, but there’s plenty to hate if you’re so inclined.

When Kurt Cobain penned “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the national anthem of rebellion for Gen Xers, he was, in his own words, “trying to write the ultimate pop song.” He succeeded. That unmistakable guitar riff may have incited a collective revolt among the youth, but only by channeling the Pixies. In an unlikely twist, the bright lights, melodic musings and unmistakable smirk of The 1975 on I Like It When You Sleep is just about the most rock and roll thing the band could have done.

4/5

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.