Summer Soundtracks: FM Static – What Are You Waiting For?

One of the best things about great summer albums is that you don’t really have to be able to explain why you love them. There’s just something about a perfect summer record that feels right. It’s kind of freeing, in a way.

You can buy or stream What Are You Waiting For? on Apple Music.

The first time I heard FM Static was at a party at the end of the spring semester of my sophomore year in college. Whoever was manning the stereo played their track “Definitely Maybe” and my ears were immediately alert. It makes sense – FM Static featured vocalist Trevor McNevan and drummer Steve Augustine of Thousand Foot Krutch, one of my favorite bands at the time. While certainly a departure from TFK’s signature nu metal sound, McNevan’s voice was unmistakable.

I picked up the band’s debut, What Are You Waiting For? shortly thereafter and memorized every word during the summer of 2004. It wasn’t hard – the album clocks in at around a half-hour with no track going over the three-minute mark. It’s the kind of syrupy pop punk bliss that seemed to dominate nearly every summer during that time of my life.

So what makes What Are You Waiting For? a summer soundtrack I keep returning to? I’m honestly not sure I have a great answer. Nostalgia certainly plays a role, as I have so many fond memories singing along to this record with friends. Musically? It’s fine. Lyrically, it’s full of lines like, “I saw what really happened all those time he went for water / When we were at the movie theatre watching Harry Potter” and “Feels like it’s teenage hunting season”. As cheesy as these lines are, I still sing them at the top of my lungs every time I spin the album.

What Are You Waiting For? came along at a time where I still allowed myself to have fun with the music I listened to. It wouldn’t be long before I entered a more pretentious phase of music fandom – one that scoffed at things that didn’t make you think hard enough or didn’t “push genre boundaries.”

If all of this is making FM Static’s debut seem underwhelming, well…that’s not entirely fair. It’s a perfectly crafted, half-hour pop punk album, which is exactly what McNevan and Augustine were attempting to accomplish. In hindsight, it’s clear that the side project served as a release for them before their return to the more serious nature of Thousand Foot Krutch. FM Static is silly, joyous and almost profound.

While the bulk of the material focuses on the innocence of romantic longing or those exciting first days of a new relationship, the heartbeat of the album is all about connections. Be it the desire to be intentional with our empathy on “Crazy Mary” or the distance that time creates in our friendships on “October”, FM Static has a surprising amount to say for such a light, nonchalant-feeling debut.

The duo would release three more FM Static albums over the course of the next decade, each one holding my attention a little less. All these years later, What Are You Waiting For? is the only one I regularly return to, always during the summertime. The moment that first drum hits on opener “Three Days Later”, I’m sucked back in time to a place filled with smiles, friends and the kinds of songs that you can sing along to with abandon.

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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10 Perfect Albums for Summer Road Trips

Believe it or not, there used to be a day when you didn’t have access to the entire library of recorded music when you got into your car. Long road trips with friends required preparation in the form of CD collections and discussions about which albums got first dibs in the stereo.

While it’s easier than ever to create endless playlists or simply jump tracks during long rides, there’s still something to be said for albums that can play front to back while you cruise down the highway and serve as the perfect soundtrack to life on the road. With summer in full swing, we’ve compiled a list of 10 albums to consider packing (or queueing up) before you take your next sun-drenched road trip with your friends.

Cartel – Chroma

Rule #1 for road trip albums: Every song has to be a banger. Even 14 years after its release, Chroma is fire from front to back and it’s incredibly easy to sing along to every song. Will Pugh’s voice was made for summer, and so was this album.

Key tracks: “Say Anything (Else)”, “If I Fail”

Underoath – They’re Only Chasing Safety

This is a quintessential summertime album for me and one that was the soundtrack to more road trips than I can count from 2004-06. While it’s a heavy album to be sure, there’s enough melody and pop elements crammed in courtesy of Aaron Gillespie and company that this album was made to be heard with the windows down.

Key tracks: “A Boy Brushed Red, Living in Black and White”, “Reinventing Your Exit”

P.O.S. – Never Better

P.O.S. stole the show at Warped Tour 2009 thanks to the catchiness of his breakthrough album, Never Better. An indie hip hop hidden gem, there’s tracks to nod your head to, wild out to, and rap along with your friends to. It’s a gold mine of catchy (and introspective) hits.

Key tracks: “Let it Rattle”, “Savion Glover”

Boys Like Girls – Boys Like Girls

The self-titled debut from Boys Like Girls was peak scene pop punk, masterfully produced to appeal to just about anyone. Every song could serve as a single and it’s impossible to turn the volume down anytime Martin Johnson’s voice hits those high notes.

Key tracks: “The Great Escape”, “Heels Over Head”

Paramore – Riot!

Riot! is truly one of the greatest summer pop punk albums of all time, hitting all of the high notes that a road trip album requires. Hayley Williams comes into her own as a vocalist as the band writes their catchiest and most infectious songs of their young career.

Key tracks: “That’s What You Get”, “Crushcrushcrush”

Mayday Parade – A Lesson in Romantics

Bonus points for road trip soundtracks go to any bands that utilize two singers, allowing travel buddies to trade off on vocals. A Lesson in Romantics is a perfect blend of summer anthems and memorable harmonies from Derek Sanders and Jason Lancaster.

Key tracks: “Jersey”, “Jamie All Over”

A Day to Remember – Homesick

Homesick is the album that took A Day to Remember to another level and it’s also their most instantly arresting version of easy-core that allows for head banging sessions in the car or embarrassingly loud sing-a-longs for everyone on the trip.

Key tracks: “My Life for Hire”, “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About the End”

Gym Class Heroes – As Cruel as School Children

In 2006, Gym Class Heroes were on top of the world thanks to a collection of hit songs from As Cruel as School Children. Lead man Travie McCoy is able to drop a hot verse but also able to flex his songwriting abilities in unexpected, pop-centric ways. This album is just plain fun.

Key tracks: “Shoot Down the Stars”, “Clothes Off!”

Katy Perry – Teenage Dream

Sometimes after all the whining and screaming, you need to cleanse the palate with a tried-and-true pop record. Teenage Dream is hit after hit after hit, and they’re all fun to sing along to. If anyone on the car pretends they don’t know the words…well…they’re lying.

Key tracks: “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, “E.T.”

Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue

In all honesty, there may not be a better pop punk road trip record than Ocean Avenue, an album that bleeds summer from every corner. It’s catchy, nostalgic, energetic and delightful in pretty much every way. Plus, if you let the album repeat after it finishes, no one will complain.

Key tracks: “Breathing”, “Ocean Avenue”, all of them.

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.

5 Summer Tours to Look Forward to in 2019

Personally, my summer is defined by days at the park drinking Del’s Lemonade and sitting by the ocean. It also means festivals and tours start in full swing, and my paychecks get blown to the wind. Totally worth it. This list is in no way intended to be all reunions but I guess that’s what’s selling tickets this year. Here are a few tours that I’m excited about.

Sad Summer Festival

I gave up my chance to go to Sad Summer Fest in Worcester in favor of seeing Anberlin reunite, but I’m still just as excited about it as if I had tickets. With the end of Vans Warped Tour, all of us in the scene were simply floundering about thinking of what to do this summer. We all know we’re way too cool for Coachella and Lollapalooza, so where would we get our fest kick? Along came Sad Summer Festival to save the day. The Wonder Years, Mayday Parade and The Maine are among the headliners for this aptly named tour, and what’s more, the fest is choosing a nonprofit from each city to contribute to. There’s nothing not to love about Sad Summer Fest.

Buy tickets here

Vans Warped Tour

There might only be three cities and five dates for us to choose from, but there’s no doubt that this is one of the biggest events for the scene this year, maybe only barring Sad Summer Fest. We previously thought that 2018’s would be the last we heard from Vans Warped Tour, but this year is the 25th anniversary of the tour, so it’s only fitting that there should be one last hurrah. There’s a great lineup of folks like A Day to Remember and Sleeping with Sirens that’s sure to turn up the nostalgia.

Buy tickets here

Anberlin

Anberlin is back from the dead. They are currently in Australia for a few dates, but soon they’ll be back in the States. I’ll be rejoicing because their Boston show is July 5th and I have floor tickets. The last time I saw them was their Final Tour and my balcony tickets just didn’t cut it. Will the members of Anberlin get the recording bug? I’m not sure, but I know this tour is definitely a dream come true.

Buy tickets here

The Black Keys

The Black Keys have returned from their very long hiatus and have announced a tour with Modest Mouse. Their new album, Let’s Rock, releases on June 28th. The band is one of Ohio’s finest musical children and I’m so glad that they’ve come back with more music for us to enjoy. I’m hoping for a setlist made up of a lot of fan favorites, and hopefully this will be a fitting welcome back party.

Buy tickets here

Jonas Brothers

Another band that recently got back together is the Jonas Brothers. I know we’re not really into folks like the JoBros here at It’s All Dead [Says who? – ed.], but hey what the heck. I tried my hardest to get tickets but it was to no avail. No doubt it will be a killer show, and a great way to welcome summer and a regret of mine. Curse you, scalpers! Their new album, Happiness Begins, releases on June 7th.

Buy tickets here

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.

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.

A Decade of Summer Soundtracks

UPDATE: When I published this in 2015, I found it therapeutic to look back on the albums that pulled me through each summer. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with new albums each year that felt perfect for the season, and I couldn’t help but update the list. Check them all out or fast forward to 2015 and see what’s held my attention for the past four summer seasons!

Summer is here, which means it’s time to roll the windows down, turn up the stereo and blast your favorite songs. I get nostalgic every year thinking about the albums I played on repeat in years past as I rode around, hung out with my friends and enjoyed the sunshine. It never seems to fail – when I think back on each summer of my life, there is always one album that seems to be playing in the background.

Therefore, I’ve decided to compile a list of the albums that served as my summer soundtrack for each of the past ten years. While this list is far from an overview of the best albums of each year, it does reflect a collection of fun records that seem to be perfect for warm summer days. Take a look below and share your favorite summer records in the replies!

underoath-tocs2004: Underoath – They’re Only Chasing Safety

This is actually my all time favorite summertime album. I still remember the day I bought it and how I drove around for weeks without taking it out of my car’s CD player. There’s something about the combination of heavy and light here that gives you the best of both worlds as the guitars transition between poppy and blistering. Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie’s trade-off vocals are perfect for sing-alongs, and the stellar production value makes this an instant classic.

anberlin_blueprints2005: Anberlin – Never Take Friendship Personal

This breakout album from Anberlin is full of catchy hooks and fast-paced, emo-tinged rock. On Never Take Friendship Personal, Anberlin came into their own, displaying their songwriting prowess with killer tracks like “Paperthin Hymn” and “The Runaways”. If you can listen to Stephen Christian cry out, “I thought you said forever, over and over / This sleepless night becomes bitter oblivion” and not belt out the notes right along with him, you may need to get your pulse checked.

underoath_david_goldman2006: Underoath – Define the Great Line

Two years after their breakout, Underoath returned with the crushing, genre-shifting Define the Great Line. While this isn’t your typical summer album, it’s impossible to deny the sheer magnitude of the record. The masterful time-signature changes, the eerie electronic sounds, and Spencer Chamberlain’s electrifying roar changed the game. Though there’s far less melody here than was present on They’re Only Chasing Safety, it’s full of powerful, moving tracks, perfect for summer nights.

2007: Paramore – Riot!

Paramore went from emo darlings full of potential to a powerhouse rock outfit seemingly overnight when they released Riot! in the summer of 2007. A wonderful mixture of pop punk and emo rock make this a huge release, with soaring choruses courtesy of Hayley Williams. Whether you’re singing along to the slick chorus of “crushcrushcrush” or head banging along to the fiery “Misery Business”, Riot! is a record made for summer hangouts and road trips.

all_time_low_7152008: All Time Low – So Wrong, It’s Right

Although the album released in the fall of 2007, a deluxe reissue the following year helped propel So Wrong, It’s Right to new heights. To this day, it’s hard to find another pop punk release so full of energy and melody. After the opening guitars of “This is How We Do”, Alex Gaskarth pleads, “Show us off to all your friends” – and we did. By the end of 2008, it seemed like everyone in the world knew the lyrics to “Dear Maria, Count Me In”.

a-day-to-remember2009: A Day to Remember – Homesick

Another breakout album – noticing a trend here? A Day to Remember broke big with Homesick, an album that captured the band’s “easycore” sound better than any other. From crushing breakdowns capped off with cries to “disrespect your surroundings” to soaring, melodic choruses that even your mom would love, Homesick has a little something for everyone. Is it pop punk? Is it metalcore? Does it matter? Homesick is fun as hell.

The-Devil-Wears-Prada-zombie2010: The Devil Wears Prada – Zombie EP

Since I just wrote a full length feature reflecting on this release, I’ll stay brief. The Zombie EP caught everyone off guard at the time of its release and inadvertently became career defining. The furious guitar work on these five songs is unbelievable and the piercing howls and shrieks of Mike Hranica are the sounds of your nightmares. Even still, it’s hard not to turn the volume up during this horror-filled romp.

the_wonder_years2011: The Wonder Years – Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing

The Wonder Years seem to get better with every release, but Suburbia made us all take notice. So far, it’s the definitive pop punk release of this new decade. A walk through a year in the life of lead singer Dan Campbell finds the band lamenting, celebrating and looking for answers – it’s a coming of age story that almost anyone can relate to. To top it off, Suburbia is so full of life through its twists and turns, it’s the perfect soundtrack for self-reflection on lonely summer nights.

pierce-the-veil-credit-adam-elmakias-650-4302012: Pierce the Veil – Collide with the Sky

While Collide with the Sky wasn’t Pierce the Veil’s breakout record, it certainly propelled them to a whole new level. Vic Fuentes’ duet with Kellin Quinn on “King for a Day” became Warped Tour’s song of the summer, as the two sing and scream their way through this furious track. The band is more technical than ever on this release, creating fast-paced post-hardcore numbers like “Hell Above” and calmer, brokenhearted tracks like “I’m Low on Gas and You Need a Jacket”. From front to back, Collide with the Sky is a summer smash.

letlive2013: letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful

Another unexpected album on the list, The Blackest Beautiful just narrowly edged out The Greatest Generation thanks to Jason Butler’s impassioned vocal performance. This isn’t a lighthearted release, but it does keep you on your toes. We generally don’t want our summer albums to make us think too hard, but The Blackest Beautiful commands your attention, even as its sonic background tickles your ears. The band’s wild stint on the 2013 Vans Warped Tour only added to the excitement surrounding the release.

issues2014: Issues – Issues

How can you not love Tyler Carter? The man can sing and write one heck of a hook. Issues is a melting pot of sounds, full of breakdowns, poppy choruses, wild electronics, record scratches and sincere moments. When Carter and Michael Bohn trade off during “Mad at Myself”, it’s mildly reminiscent of the Underoath’s breakthrough a decade prior. It’s easy to imagine the members blasting They’re Only Chasing Safety during the summer of ’04, only to write their own summer anthem 10 years later.

2015: Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion

An album that caught me completely off guard, won me over, and became my favorite album of the decade (so far). Emotion sonically captures the nostalgic sounds that soundtracked the summers of my youth, but it’s also an album about feeling – something that just seems easier to do in the summertime. It’s clear that Jepsen has a knack for crafting the perfect pop song, and Emotion is front-to-back pop bliss. Tracks like “Run Away with Me” and “Boy Problems” are the perfect tunes to dance away those hot summer nights.

2016: Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Part of the reason The Life of Pablo owned my summer in 2016, aside from my obvious affinity for his music, was that there was just so much to digest. An album that just kept growing in size (eventually capping off at 20 tracks), Pablo held my interest for months, capping off with an enrapturing live performance at the end of the summer. Nevertheless, for all of the conversation that surrounded this album, beats like those found on “Famous” and “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” made this the kind of summer hip hop record that was inescapable.

2017: Halsey – hopeless fountain kingdom

While fans are still somewhat divided on Halsey’s sophomore effort, there’s no denying that it got played more than anything else during my summer of 2017. Halsey leans into some deep 80s influences on tracks that feel custom built for the season. “Eyes Closed” and “Strangers” are two underrated tracks that sound splendid with the windows down, even as “Bad at Love” become the kind of summer smash that ensured Halsey would be sticking around for a while.

2018: Pusha T – Daytona

I love this album. I love the way it reminds me of the hip hop albums that I would play throughout my summers in high school. I love how it feels fresh and new, even though it’s creator has been around for nearly two decades. I love how it captures the type of sample-based production that makes hip hop endlessly compelling. I love how Pusha T just owns his persona, his voice, his place in the genre. Daytona is the kind of perfect summer rap record that I didn’t even know was still possible to pull off.

2019: ???

Summer 2019 is rapidly heading toward the finish line. It’s probably still too early to claim a victor, but early front runners include Carly Rae Jepsen (Dedicated) and Lil Nas X (7). But I can’t out the new Chance the Rapper record or even a sneak attack from the likes of Halsey or Dua Lipa. Whatever the case, there’s been plenty to enjoy.

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.