The Best Albums of 2017

You can view our list of The Best Songs of 2017 here.

Another year is in the books, and while it’s easy to dwell on the negatives of one of the strangest years in recent memory, 2017 was certainly not wanting for incredible music. In fact, 2017 produced so many great albums, it’s hard to show end-of-the-year love to all that deserve it. But we’re going to try anyway.

Our list of the best albums of 2017 touched on a variety of powerful and important topics, from social injustice to mental illness to the strength it takes to shift power imbalances and overcome abuse. The artists below not only thoughtfully tackled important themes, but did so in a way that made us move and forced us to find hope in the mist of brokenness. Without further ado, take a look at some of the best albums of the year.

 

15. New Found Glory – Makes Me Sick

When New Found Glory release an album, there is a certain expectation for how it should sound. When they release an album that manages to branch out enough to rank as one of their more unique releases, it is something to pay attention to. Makes Me Sick is a true summer album that delves into cavity inducing pop while maintaining mosh-ready guitars (“Call Me Anti-Social”). The synth that make its way into the album make each song instantly recognizable, especially as the band take stabs at the world around them (“Party on Apocalypse”), and rarely has the band sounded so inspired (“Barbed Wire”). Makes Me Sick is the reason that after 20 years, New Found Glory are still as important as they were when they helped found the modern pop punk scene. – Kyle Schultz

14. Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming

The spirit of Eisley moves onward on I’m Only Dreaming, even in the absence of DuPree sisters Stacy and Chauntelle. In their stead, Sherri DuPree-Bemis carries the vocal load across an array of tracks that harken to the ambiguity and innocence of Room Noises. At once melodically gorgeous and sonically curious, I’m Only Dreaming offers the dream-like soundscape that put Eisley on the map well over a decade ago. DuPree-Bemis floats above her cousin Garron’s shoegaze guitar licks that range from grungier affairs “Louder Than a Lion” to indie pop numbers that stand as some of the band’s best work to date “Always Wrong”. – Kiel Hauck

13. The Early November – Fifteen Years

It’s hard to imagine an acoustic ‘best of’ album being one of the best of the year, but Ace Enders has always defied expectation. Fifteen Years not only finds a way to hit all of the band’s best songs, but in many ways, it surpasses the originals. Enders has always impressed with his acoustic songs, but the stripped-down versions of some of their biggest hits allows his vocals to truly shine like they never have before. What were some of the band’s biggest rock songs (“Decorations”, “In Currents” “Boxing Timelines”) become emotional ballads. It’s apparent that The Early November have spent their career deserving more credit than anyone ever suspected. – KS

12. Palisades – Palisades

Call it a progression, but reinvention works just as well. Palisades’ self-titled release finds the New Jersey post-hardcore act shedding the electronicore leanings they embraced across their first two records. On Palisades, the band finds a new voice within grunge and nu metal elements that serve as the perfect playground for vocalist Louis Miceli Jr. to display his new, commanding delivery. With the absence of party gimmicks, the band is free to cover fresh thematic territory, adding a welcome dose of levity to match their new style. It’s the kind of 180 turn that opens a variety of doors for a band that has a chance to make a splash in the alt rock waters. – KH

11. Neck Deep – The Peace and the Panic

Neck Deep are an endlessly fascinating band. They have managed to harness the best aspects of pop punk and continuously remind us why the genre matters. The guitars are harsh but sway with rich melody that make easycore bands envious. Every song on The Peace and the Panic demands to be sung along to as the band tackles every topic from rebellion against the government (“Don’t Wait”), depression (“The Grand Delusion”), or telling a story of romance (“19 Seventy Sumthin’”). Neck Deep are a shining example of what makes pop punk such a brilliant genre, and they do it with a sound that marches forward as much as it honors the bands of yesteryear. – KS

10. PVRIS – All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell

Shedding any notion of a sophomore slump, PVRIS delivered with their anticipated follow up to White Noise. All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell zeros in on the best parts of the band’s debut and expands on both sonic and thematic levels. Making use of dark synthesizers and deep, grooving basslines, the trio build dread-infused soundscapes that allow Lynn Gunn to explore an array of fears and regrets. Whether she’s powering through anthems like “Heaven” or growling across the chorus of “No Mercy”, Gunn has become one of the most exciting voices in the scene, and PVRIS appears to have the legs to reach the next level. – KH

9. Kesha – Rainbow

To use a most tired cliché, Rainbow is a roller coaster, driving us through the turbulent aftermath of abuse and the will and strength of a survivor. The album is varied and messy, but works beautifully as a therapeutic outlet of the highest order. From the fist-pumping fury of “Woman” to the tear-jerking pleas of “Praying”, Kesha provides a voice for the broken and a song for the redeemed. Amidst tears and laughter Kesha weaves the story of life on the other side and embraces the freedom in letting go. Rainbow is truly the brilliant comeback everyone was rooting for. – KH

8. Lorde – Melodrama

Lorde (Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor) risked becoming irrelevant by releasing her sophomore album three long years after her debut. “Melodrama”, however, is an absolute masterpiece and refuses to be ignored. This album meets even the highest of expectations that led up to Lorde’s second release. She used the past few years to grow vocally and artistically, and with help from another pop mastermind, Jack Antonoff, Lorde has (once again) completely changed the face of alt-pop. – Nadia Paiva

7. Lucky Boys Confusion – Stormchasers

Coming back from the dead, Lucky Boys Confusion have rarely sounded better. Stormchasers exceeds expectations for a band that hadn’t written a song together for a decade. Biting into the personal tragedies that have plagued the band for the last few years, LBC manage to make some of the most inspired rock songs of their career. “It’s After Midnight” picks up directly off of the sound of their last EP (released in 2006), while “Stormchaser” taps into the sounds of the band’s career to honor fallen band member, Joe Sell.  “Sun In My Eyes” looks towards a brighter future and “Good Luck”, celebrates the band’s past and tells the story of making it as a band. Lucky Boys Confusion is a continuous story of perseverance and honoring a fan base that refuses to quit. – KS

6. Glassjaw – Material Control

Fifteen years have passed since Long Island’s post-hardcore kings released an album, and yet, somehow, Material Control feels like the most Glassjaw record ever put to tape. Material Control is the visceral blend of aggression and melody that put the band on the map nearly two decades ago, yet sounds as fresh as any heavy record released in 2017. The dirty bassline on “Shira” will cause you to break a sweat while Daryl Palumbo’s vocal acrobatics on “Golgotha” will make your jaw drop. Material Control is the kind of relentless record that hard rock desperately needed, and a worthy successor to Worship and Tribute, even if the wait was far too long. – KH

5. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

With Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples remains one of the most coy (koi) rappers around (get it?) Across the album’s 12 tracks, Staples wrestles with the fame that has lifted him from his home and threatens to numb him of the pain and struggle that still plagues those around him. Doing it all atop beats that embrace club and house leanings, Staples invites his listeners to dance, even as the themes force you to stop and think. It’s a juxtaposition as profound as the rapper himself, and just another reason why Staples may be one of the most underappreciated artists of our time. – KH

4. AFI – The Blood Album

AFI (The Blood Album) was one of the first records released in 2017 and it is still among the year’s top contenders as the year comes to an end. The Blood Album picks up where the band left things on 2013’s Burials, and pushes forward to make the record one of the best they have ever released. Jade Puget’s dark guitar lines still manage to impress and blaze with the power that other bands require multiple musicians for. Having been the second of three albums that Davey Havok sang for within the span of a year (Blaqk Audio and DREAMCAR), the intensity of his voice is mesmerizing. AFI’s dark pop songs are a masterclass in musicianship. As an amalgamation of everything they have released over the course of a 20+ year career, AFI (The Blood Album) is worthy of being the band’s first self-titled effort, and standing among their best releases. – KS

3. Paramore – After Laughter

Paramore’s long-awaited return came with a release defining some of the most overarching topics plaguing young adults today: mental illness, hopelessness, loneliness, and the idea that we can find the light we’ve lost. Taking a sharp turn from their alternative roots and moving into an ‘80s synth direction, Paramore provided a dose of reality packaged in both fun and reflective ways. We’ve watched Hayley Williams and co. grow up and face some difficult times and, somehow, they’ve always portrayed it gracefully. “After Laughter” is no different. – NP

2. Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights

On Turn Out the Lights, Julien Baker does more than tug at our heartstrings, she dives deep into the crevices of depression without pulling punches. Whether accompanied by just her guitar or surrounded by organs and strings, Baker’s voice fluctuates from crackling despair to cries of strength, voicing a struggle familiar to many. What makes Baker’s songs so meaningful is her painful honesty – there is no sugarcoating – and when she searches for hope, she does so with every fiber of her being. At the end of the journey, her powerful final cry of ,“I wanted to stay”, is enough to shake any listener to the core. – KH

1. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

How do you follow up one of the most heralded and important hip hop releases in recent memory? Like this, apparently. Whereas To Pimp a Butterfly stretched outward into the systematic oppressions of our society, DAMN. worms its way into Kendrick Lamar’s psyche, revealing the inner workings of one of the most important artistic voices of our time. Oscillating between “Pride” and “Humble”, “Love” and “Lust”, “Fear” and “God”, Kendrick fights for truth and hope amidst brokenness.

From the rumbling bassline of “DNA” to the throwback samples and drums of “Duckworth”, Kendrick paints a canvas that opens new possibilities for his own rhyme schemes and vocal delivery. At once timeless and fresh, DAMN. is the new bench mark for modern hip hop. There is little room left for debate: Kendrick Lamar is the best rapper alive. – KH

Honorable Mention

Bleachers – Gone Now
Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Jay-Z – 4:44
Tigers Jaw – Spin
Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Palisades – Palisades

47_1_palisades_high

Whether you’re a national restaurant chain, a digital news outlet or an indie rock band, re-branding can be a gamble. Do you risk alienating your core consumer base in favor of a new identity? In the best-case scenario, these kinds of shifts can not only enlarge an entity’s platform while maintaining their original audience, but also provide an honest representation of the brand in its current form. Such appears to be the case with Palisades.

The New Jersey rock act spent their first two releases on Rise Records attempting to force fit their electronicore leanings into a rather insincere and cluttered package. By the time the unnecessarily-salacious Mind Games dropped in 2015, it was hard to view Palisades as anything other than a gimmicky party favor, even as the band showed signs of real talent.

You can but Palisades on iTunes.

You can but Palisades on iTunes.

After one listen, it’s no surprise that the band decided to self-title their latest release. Palisades is not only their best record, it’s a welcome left turn for a band once affixed on bad girls and party fouls. Along with a complete sonic overhaul, Palisades feels, dare we say, thematically genuine.

The EDM influences and siren-y synthesizers that were once the band’s calling card are now completely absent. Instead, Palisades pulses ahead as a straightforward rock record with traces of nu metal and post-hardcore sprinkled in. The production is slick and airtight with crunchy guitar tones and rattling drum patterns pushing the tracks forward without the needless, clunky breakdowns the band relied on in the past. The back-half of “Hard Feelings” even finds Xavier Adames busting out a quick guitar solo that melds nicely into the mix.

In keeping with the upgrades, vocalist Louis Miceli stands out as most improved. With former bass player and backing vocalist Brandon Reese out of the equation, Palisades now rely solely on Miceli to deliver – and that he does, channeling his inner Chester Bennington throughout the record. On Palisades, his voice transforms to a powerful roar, displacing his various tedious deliveries from past albums. Miceli still finds time to scream on this album, but those moments are far more reserved and natural.

With a much more credible sound firmly in place, the band have allowed themselves to expand their subject matter beyond the banal as well. Surprising opener “Aggression” tackles gun violence with Miceli belting a chorus of, “Can we disarm the loaded gun? / Can we survive what we’ve become? / The hate is slowly choking me / American aggression for free”. It’s a stark progression for a band that sprinkled gun cocking samples onto their previous album.

All of these improvements might merit little discussion if the songs weren’t all that good – but they are. They’re really, really good. “Better Chemicals” is a diverse rocker with a pounding chorus that gets stuck in your brain, while a new and improved version of last year’s “Fall” feels like the best evolution of the band, even tastefully implementing programming elements without ramming them down your throat. New bassist Brandon Elgar joins Miceli during the song’s re-worked bridge, resulting in an explosive moment that may top anything the band has ever done.

“Memories” grooves hard as a track that highlights Palisades’ newly discovered nu metal bent with a delightful verse-chorus transition. And speaking of hooks, “Hard Feelings” is a triumph. The decadent melody behind Miceli’s simple lines of, “I’ve got some hard feelings I’m working through / I’ve got some hard feelings I could put on you” blends perfectly with the grinding guitars that power this energetic track ahead.

You wouldn’t have trouble getting almost any song on Palisades stuck in your head, but this time around, you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Sure, a few of the tracks start to blend together upon repeated listens, and save for some scattered candid moments, Miceli’s lyrics still have room to grow, but overall, the album is a forceful step forward for a band that seemed to be flirting with irrelevancy.

If this self-titled venture is the definitive sound that the band has proclaimed it to be, Palisades very well could have found a niche that might propel the band to new heights. Whatever the case may be, the band is clearly coming into their own at just the right time, making this is one re-branding effort that was well worth the risk.

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.

Warped Tour 2015: Searching for Hope in a Wounded Scene

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

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

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

Palisades

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

Palisades

Palisades

This Wild Life

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

This Wild Life

This Wild Life

The Amity Affliction

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

The Amity Affliction

The Amity Affliction

PVRIS

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

PVRIS

PVRIS

The Wonder Years

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

The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years

Pierce the Veil

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

Pierce the Veil

Pierce the Veil

As It Is

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

As It Is

As It Is

blessthefall

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

blessthefall

blessthefall

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

10 Bands You Can’t Miss on Warped Tour 2015

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

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

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

as_it_isAs It Is

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

moose_bloodMoose Blood

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

PVRISPVRIS

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

this_wild_lifeThis Wild Life 

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

hands_like_housesHands Like Houses

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

the_amity_afflictionThe Amity Affliction

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

alive-like-meAlive Like Me

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

Emarosa1Emarosa

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

palisades_2015Palisades

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

Youth_In_Revolt_-_2014Youth in Revolt

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

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Review: Palisades – Mind Games

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The last thing you want to hear from me as we start off the New Year at It’s All Dead is another tired diatribe about the sad state of post-hardcore. You get it – I’m an old, jaded elitist who yearns for the days when bands like Glassjaw and At the Drive-In set fire to the genre and challenged listeners with emotive songs brimming with purpose and meaning.

“Those days are gone. Get over it,” you might say. You’re right.

Therefore, for at least today, I’ll approach the conversation with an open mind. Honestly, it would be totally unreasonable of me to take aim at Mind Games, the sophomore full-length from Palisades, a polarizing band that I kinda-sorta don’t mind all that much.

Their debut, Outcasts, was their proper introduction, initiating listeners with their own brand of self-labeled “electronic hardcore music.” You hear those words and have a good idea of what you’re getting. The band’s music is a re-tooled and upgraded version of Attack Attack! and early Breathe Carolina. It’s full of Drop D breakdowns that are backed with spastic synthesizers and it’s polished into a poppy sheen.

Where their debut had trouble finding a voice, bouncing from club bangers (“High & Low”) to metalcore stompers (“Your Disease”) to pop-punk-infused anthems (“Outcasts”), Mind Games blends it all into a swirling cocktail. Instead of choosing a side of the fence, Palisades have elected to knock it down, for better or for worse. Individual songs now feature flashy electronics, crushing breakdowns and soaring choruses all heard within the span of a minute.

If this sounds like something you’ve heard before, you wouldn’t be totally wrong. The difference is that Palisades seem to have the chops to pull it off better than most of their peers, even if it’s not quite distinctive enough to push them over the top. Mind Games isn’t going to change the game, but it at least gets them a seat at the ballpark.

The band was wise to utilize bassist Brandon Sidney’s vocals much more this time around, as his smooth delivery compliments the bitter bite of Louis Miceli. Palisades also earn brownie points for avoiding the predictable production of Cameron Mizell by electing to go with Erik Ron. Finally, they also deserve credit for owning who they are. It’s clear that the band could have ridden the “High & Low” train to synth-pop town and created a ghastly imitation of top 40’s worst. But they didn’t, choosing instead to hone in on their strengths, and they’re all the better for it.

Before the gushing gets out of hand, it’s worth noting that you’re not going to take much away from Mind Games in the form of substance. The album is about shrugging off the haters and hitting on girls. Don’t pay too much mind when Miceli delivers a chorus of “Thought you were crazy in love / But you were just crazy, oh, oh” on the album’s title track “ – just shake it off and keep nodding your head to the pulsing beat.

Similarly, “Bad Girls” is an atrocity of Ronnie Radke proportions. Does throwing chopped samples of “Got em all wet” into a song’s transitions get the ladies all hot and bothered these days? It makes the band hard to take serious when they try their hand at sincerity on the pleading “Come Over and Watch Netflix”, a dance track that isn’t all that endearing in the first place.

Palisades are at their best when they’re at their heaviest. “Whatever You Want it to Be” is a crushing display of syrupy modern metalcore as a guilty pleasure. The song features multiple gun cocking samples, a wild use of electronics, the blistering screams of Miceli, and a massive chorus. It’s fun as hell. “People Like Us” follows closely in its footsteps, featuring guest vocals from Garret Rapp of The Color Morale. “True Blood” is a fierce and catchy rocker – one that will have you head banging in no time.

If you’re a fan of modern metalcore, you’re going to blast this album with the windows down this summer, which is just what the band is going for. They don’t have the musical range of a band like Issues and haven’t yet showed the songwriting chops of a band like The Word Alive, which is to say that they’re not currently frontrunners to be the face of the genre or explore new ground. They’re a band that’s comfortable excelling at their own niche.

If you really wanted to, you could point the finger at Mind Games and accuse it of being everything that’s wrong with heavy music today. But maybe that approach isn’t really getting us anywhere. If you want to be challenged and excited by your metalcore, throw on some Architects or Bring Me the Horizon. If you want to nod your head and sing along in your car with your friends, give Mind Games a try. You might even crack a smile and have a good time. Even an old curmudgeon like me can get down with that.

3/5

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.

Palisades to Release “Mind Games” on January 13

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New Jersey post-hardcore outfit Palisades have announced the upcoming release of their second full-length album, Mind Games. The album is set to be released on January 13, 2015, on Rise Records. The band dropped their debut album, Outcasts, in early 2013 and have made a name for themselves with their blend of electronic hardcore. You can see the album artwork and track listing below:

palisades_cover_art

Track listing:

  1. Player Hater’s Ball feat. blackbear
  2. No Chaser
  3. Bad Girls
  4. Mind Games feat. Champs
  5. Whatever You Want It To Be
  6. Afraid
  7. People Like Us feat. Garret Rapp
  8. Like A Drug
  9. True Blood
  10. Come Over And Watch Netflix

Mind Games is currently available for preorder.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Thursday Spotlight: Palisades

palisades

We all look to music to help us work through various emotions. Sometimes head banging to a heavy track can be a therapeutic experience. Other times, dancing it out is a more appropriate response. For all of the times in between, where one particular sound or emotion doesn’t quite sum up the experience, there’s the music of a band such as Palisades.

The New Jersey post-hardcore act possesses just enough metalcore crunch to get your blood pumping, but isn’t afraid to drop an electronic dance beat when necessary. Starting in 2011, Palisades combines the best of both worlds, creating a powerful sound that is topped off with delightful pop melodies from lead vocalist Louis Miceli.

Palisades signed to Rise Records after stirring up some buzz on the web and released their first EP, I’m Not Dying Today. Last year, the band officially made their mark on the scene with their debut full length, Outcasts. The album is a flurry of metalcore mixed with dance beats and catchy choruses and features guest spots from the likes of Crown the Empire’s Andy Leo and Issues’ Tyler Carter.

The band is about to embark on the Ride or DIe Tour with Famous Last Words and Tear Your Heart Out, which lasts through February 15. The band will follow up the trek with some March tour dates in Canada.

Palisades also recently released a new music video for “High and Low”, which can be viewed below:

You can buy Outcasts on iTunes.

Posted by Kiel Hauck