Reflecting On: MxPx – The Ever Passing Moment

The first MxPx release to catch my ear wasn’t a studio album. In the summer of 1999, the band released At the Show, a 21-track live album coming on the heels of an unprecedented run of solid gold pop punk – literally. Life in General firmly legitimized the band in 1996 before 1998’s Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo was certified gold, followed by Let it Happen, one of the greatest collections of B-sides the genre has seen. The skate punk kids from Bremerton had arrived.

You can buy or stream The Ever Passing Moment on Apple Music.

At the Show introduced me to the band and served as a primer on their greatest hits. Even now, when the studio version “Chick Magnet” comes on, I sing along with the vocals of Mike Herrera’s much looser and more playful live rendition. It’s probably no surprise then that 2000’s The Ever Passing Moment is my favorite MxPx album. It was the first one to release after I’d fallen head-over-heels in love with the band.

It is now 20 years old, which almost seems impossible.

You can have a lot of fun debates about which MxPx album is the best because there really aren’t any bad ones. And while I’ve always conceded that Life in General stands at the front of the pack, it’s never held the same place in my heart. The Ever Passing Moment finds the band at the top of their game with nothing to prove. Free from their divorce from Tooth & Nail Records, MxPx seemed to spread their wings on A&M – three years later, they would release their most commercial album to date with Before Everything & After.

Almost every one of the album’s 15 tracks clocks in at under 3 minutes, and each flexes the band’s most impressive muscle – fast-paced, left coast punk rawk. The Ever Passing Moment breezes by effortlessly, which is probably why I’ve played it so relentlessly over the years that I know every beat and turn like the back of my hand. Not to mention the litany of memorable moments that reside in MxPx lore, from the stomping chorus of “Responsibility” to Dave Grohl’s scream of “One, two, three, go!” at the start of “The Next Big Thing”.

Because the album is so solid from front to back, it takes the pressure off the singles to carry two decades’ worth of weight. I’ve always found unsung tracks like “Two Whole Years”, “Foolish”, “Answer in the Question”, and “Unsaid” to be just as fun, energetic, and memorable as anything in the band’s catalogue. And truly, that’s how you end up talking about an album 20 years later – it has to be an album worth talking about.

As the pop punk genre took off into the mainstream at the start of the new century, MxPx began their transition to a band of legacy. To date, the band has released five more full-length albums since The Ever Passing Moment, each worthy of celebration, even if they didn’t hold quite the same level of influence. No matter. A large majority of the onslaught of pop punk’s new wave could trace their lineage back to MxPx. 

If Life in General was the album that made a new generation of punks want to pick up a guitar, The Ever Passing Moment was the album that served as the definitive playbook for pop punk excellence.

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 pop culture outlets and was previously an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife, daughter, and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Reflecting On: Secret & Whisper – Teenage Fantasy

Secret & Whisper has long been one of my favorite underrated bands. You’ll probably remember in 2018 that I wrote a reflection on their first album, Great White Whale. My obsession with Secret & Whisper actually began when I was listening to the (original) Tooth and Nail podcast. 

You can buy or stream Teenage Fantasy on Apple Music.

Before there was the “Labeled” podcast, and really, before podcasts became a major media force, Tooth and Nail had a podcast that showcased new music they were releasing. They also had a series of video-casts called “Tooth and Nail TV,” which played new music videos from their artists. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the Secret & Whisper episode online, but like MySpace and Limewire, some things of music’s past are meant to be remembered fondly. 

The episode of the podcast talked about the album “Teenage Fantasy.” They went through the whole album after the release and interviewed a couple of the members. It’s also the only time I had heard Tooth and Nail push the band’s music. I often wonder what would have happened if the label had given the band the attention their music deserved.

The band eventually went on hiatus the year after “Teenage Fantasy” was released, citing difficulties balancing band and family, and, with no disrespect to what was obviously seems to be a right and noble choice by the band, there are times when I wonder if another reason they didn’t keep it up was just the label’s indifference to advertising. 

Teenage Fantasy (and of course, Great White Whale) is one of Tooth and Nail’s crown jewels, in my opinion. It is easily one of the label’s most imaginative and thought-provoking projects. I feel like Tooth and Nail used Secret & Whisper as their token soaring-lead-vocal-hardcore outfit to compete with the Saosin‘s of the day.

What made Secret & Whisper different was the obvious musical and vocal genius of the band, highlighted by subject matter ranging from Native American life (“Warrior”) to Judaism in the age of Nazis (“Bedroom Galaxy”) to aliens (“Star Blankets”). While other bands were still focusing on relationships and general pop punk fare, Secret & Whisper really made an effort to keep their art out of the box in what could have been a groundbreaking album for the label and the genre as a whole.

It’s hard to say whether Great White Whale or Teenage Fantasy is the better offering from the band. I feel like they found their groove with the latter album. Great White Whale has an obvious deficit in production value to Teenage Fantasy, and the writing, while perfect for the theme of that album, is overshadowed by the deeply personal lyricism of Teenage Fantasy. And it all comes back around to the idea of untapped potential. Who’s to say what would’ve come of a third project from the band?

What’s kept me listening to the album is that whenever I play it, I’m transported back to that time in 2010 when I first heard it. It’s consistently fresh for me, even 10 years later.

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.

Most Anticipated Music of 2020: Another Dose of Anchor & Braille

It’s been a very long time since we’ve heard anything new from Stephen Christian’s side project Anchor and Braille. The past three albums from the band are the other side of Stephen’s musical coin. In Anberlin we have the heavy-hitting rock, but with Anchor & Braille we have a softer, sultrier, synth-ier side. They’ve released three albums since 2009, and 2016’s Songs for the Late Night Drive Home has been a staple for me. I’ll admit I’m ready for something new.

We first got an inkling some things were moving around when Stephen posted on the Anchor & Braille Instagram for the first time since May of 2018. He then posted three consecutive photos with the distinctive Anchor & Braille use of the French language, as well as something that said “Frank Ocean” and a photo of the record deal. Stephen stated in his podcast, The Art Collective that he’d like to make another album with Aaron Marsh, which leads me to theorize a return to Tooth and Nail à la Copeland?

Whether it’s an EP, an album or a film, I’m excited to see Stephen Christian come back into the music world. Seeing Anberlin play live again was a dream come true and renewed my faith that we would hear new music from the guys again. Even though it might not be Anberlin-proper, and that may be something we never get, I’m so looking forward to new music from my all-time favorite side project.

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.

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.

Reflecting On: Emery – …In Shallow Seas We Sail

I still remember the first time I heard an Emery song. It was probably about 2012 or so, and it was while watching the video for their 2009 track “Butcher’s Mouth”. The video for the song was shot documentary style from (presumably) tour, and, no offense, isn’t really anything to write home about. I just watched it for the first time in a couple of years, and it’s pretty dated now, but I’m still so fond of it. I specifically have always remembered the end, where Toby says, “The key to this world is money. Girls only like material things, and guys only like girls. So, guys, buy stuff for girls, and then the girls will like you.”  There’s just so much personality in the video, and I actually think that’s one of the reasons I ended up liking the band so much.

You can buy or stream …In Shallow Seas We Sail on Apple Music.

So it’s been 10 years since the album …In Shallow Seas We Sail was released. The band has really expanded past music since then, and I’d argue they’re still one of the most successful post-hardcore bands today. They figured out how to grow with the times, and that’s really only been to their benefit. Between podcasts and record labels, the band has constantly used their musical talent over the years to positively further the scene they’re in.

We obviously know now, though, that it hasn’t always been that way. And I doubt it would be this way without this 2009 release. 2007’s I’m Only A Man was pretty experimental for the band in a negative sense. I don’t know how the band members feel about the album, but fans weren’t really into it. I wasn’t familiar with the band at this point, and maybe it’s for the better, because I kind of like I’m Only A Man. I think that In Shallow Seas We Sail is definitely a better album and I like it more, but I’ve never really gotten why folks don’t care for I’m Only A Man.  

I think what makes this such a memorable and important addition to the Emery discography is the same as every one of their other albums. With each release, the band raises the bar up one more time in some aspect, whether it be production or songwriting or vocals. With …In Shallow Seas We Sail, they revamped the entirety of what made them great in their first two albums. They brought maturity into this fourth project, maturity gained from the experience of releasing music, experience from being signed to a label, and experience gained from having a project that wasn’t totally loved by the listeners.

They are truly the definition of a band who does this more for themselves than for the fans. They are constantly interested in how they can be better, and that’s what’s made them last so long as a band, and what’s made me last so long as a listener.

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.

Podcast: The Best of Copeland

Recently, heralded indie rock act Copeland released their sixth full-length album, Blushing. On our latest podcast episode, Kiel Hauck is joined by Kyle Schultz and Nadia Paiva to discuss the band’s fantastic new record and the 16-year journey that brought them here. The trio also rank each Copeland album, break down their favorite songs from the band’s discography, and discuss the legacy of a band that has clearly carved out its own place in indie music history. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What is your favorite Copeland album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Copeland – Blushing

Click here to check out our new podcast breaking down Copeland’s discography

Anyone familiar with Copeland knows that the band loves to push boundaries. In terms of their lyricism and their production, they always aim above and beyond with each new project. Whether it’s for their own creative necessity or as a way to keep the fans coming after all these years, we can always count on them to impress us with each release. Their latest, Blushing, is no exception — but it is exceptional.

You can buy or stream Blushing on Apple Music.

Blushing begins with “Pope”, the first single the band released back in November. It’s a perfect opener and really sets the tone for how this album plays out. The spoken word in the middle is an important part of the album’s overall theme and eventually comes back around in the second-to-last track, “It Felt So Real”. As much as I don’t want to call this a concept album, it kind of is.

I loved Ixora. I know there were a lot of people who didn’t, but I liked the idea of an evolved Copeland. They were interested in branching out on that album in a way they weren’t before, and it was exciting. A lot of people are commenting on the videos Copeland posted for Blushing that it’s a whole album of songs that sound like “Lavender” from Ixora, and while I can definitely see where that comparison comes from, I don’t think it’s fair to write off the album based on that.

In Ixora, we had the girl standing “in the whitest dress,” clearly signifying either a marriage or a new relationship that hasn’t been touched by negativity yet. In Blushing, though, a lot of the honeymoon period we saw in Ixora is missing. There’s still plenty of love to go around, as seen in “Lay Here” and “On Your Worst Day”, but somewhere along the way, things have gone a little bit stale.

Gone are the days of Copeland singing about running through wildflowers. Vocalist Aaron Marsh’s character on Blushing is a tired man. He’s remembering the better times through dreams, which is where the spoken word comes in. She’s calling him out of that dream state and back to reality. In “Strange Flower”, he wonders if he’s enough for her. It’s all too relatable for a long-term relationship, and I think lyrically this might be some of the band’s tightest and most poignant work.

Copeland has a way of perfectly matching their music to the story they’re conveying. They said that with this album, they wanted to overdo everything they’ve done before. On their site, Marsh says, “…we wanted to emphasize each element of sound harder, like an exaggerated version of Copeland’s sound.”

With Blushing, that approach has succeeded, particularly with the use of string and jazz instruments. Neither of those are new for Copeland, but somehow they’ve made it feel fresh and never-before-heard. They were diligent with where they put compositional elements, they didn’t waste a note. Every sound serves its intended purpose well, and every moment of silence is placed exactly where it needs to be.

5/5

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.

Most Anticipated of 2019: #3 Copeland Put an Emphasis on the Experience

Blushing will be Copeland’s sixth studio album. It’s been almost four years since the release of their comeback album Ixora, and Blushing seems like it will be a worthy follow-up to what was a beautiful representation of where the band was in the six years they were quiet.

The band self-produced their upcoming release, and as we all know, Aaron Marsh’s production skills are top tier. They seem to have a big emphasis on the experience the listener will have with the album, rather than it just being a group of songs thrown together.

A piece on the band’s website explains what their aim with the album is and I couldn’t be more excited about the new direction. It, very appropriately, releases on Valentine’s Day.

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.

Review: Mae – Multisensory Aesthetic Experience

In my experience, when an artist decides to create something and title it after themselves, it’s their way of saying that the collection of songs we’re about to hear are quintessential to the artist’s perception of themselves or the art they create. For Mae’s new album Multisensory Aesthetic Experience, this is both a blessing and a curse.

You can buy or stream Multisensory Aesthetic Experience on Apple Music.

It’s been 12(!) years since Mae offered us Singularity, their third full-length album. Maybe it’s too honest of me to say, but, up until this latest album, I’d only ever listened to The Everglow in its entirety. Strangely enough though, I join the masses of fans who judge Mae by that album, and with new one, it was no different. Multisensory Aesthetic Experience didn’t quite live up to the standard set by The Everglow.

Musically, the album is breathtaking. It soars in unexpected places and is just subtle enough in others. It’s constantly interesting and keeps everyone guessing. The opener, “Kaleidoscope”, is stunning with its use of strings. The creative direction they took with the composition of the album is what makes me enjoy it so much. It’s what I imagine outer space sounds like. This is why it’s self-titled. Mae’s ability to take a sonic concept and fulfill it to its highest capacity is something to behold.

I wish they had done the same with the lyrics. Whether it’s just weak lyrically or it’s personal, is up to each listener. The comments on YouTube are equally convincing for either side. It’s not quite what I’ve been used to from Mae, either from The Everglow or the other tracks I’ve heard throughout the years. There are tracks that I don’t feel this way about, like “5 Light Years”, which obviously plays to the space theme I mentioned before, or “Let It Die”, which sounds like the old Mae. “The Overview”, however, is a strange sort of spoken word that totally brings us back down and, for me at least, slows it down.

I’d have to say that “Simple Words” is probably my favorite track here, when it comes to the less experimental side of things. It sounds like an Everglow B-side, and I know that’s probably not a great reason to name a track your favorite, but that’s really my only reason. I’ve always loved the way Mae deals with the topic of young love and this is a wonderful embodiment of that.

This was a difficult album to write about because of how disjointed it seems to be. On one hand, we have what’s probably the finest example of what Mae is capable of as musicians and producers. On the other hand, their songwriting is rusty. My reasoning is that they figured that staying close to home lyrically while letting the music transport us would be the best bet to keep the album somewhat grounded. But it doesn’t really work, because we all know Mae is better than that. They’ve never been ones to shy away from loftier goals than what they’ve achieved in past releases. What I love so much about their old stuff is the whimsy they poured into each aspect, and that amount of effort isn’t quite present enough on what should be their defining album.

3.5/5

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.

Review: Emery – Eve

I’m obsessed with Emery. The harmonies, musicianship and lyricism have both spoken to me and impacted the rest of my musical taste in a way (almost) no other band has. I get excited whenever they even think about releasing something new. This stems from the time I saw the music video for “Butcher’s Mouth”. Something about that song (the video was just a means to an end, I guess) opened up a possibility to me about the span of music that was outside my adolescent bubble, and I’ve followed the band ever since, from albums to podcasts. I’ve never seen them live, which is really to say, hey, Emery, please come to Boston.

You can buy or stream Eve on Apple Music.

With 2015’s You Were Never Alone, my personal favorite album, the band embarked on a Kickstarter journey to self-fund the music they create. They broke up with Tooth & Nail Records and, with no offense to Brandon Ebel, started creating the best music of their career. This led to the release of last year’s Revival: Emery Classics Reimagined, and their latest, Eve.

Eve looks like a heck of a long album with 15 tracks, but it’s only 41 minutes long. Throughout the album, the band gets personal in a way they haven’t really done before. Generally, an Emery album consists of a bunch of songs about breakups, but (and I’m not sure whether this is a correlation) with the split from Tooth & Nail, the band’s last two albums constantly touch on new themes for Emery. There’s an entire set of Break It Down (Matt Carter’s podcast) episodes about You Were Never Alone. I won’t give you the details of them because it’s much more fulfilling to listen to them. The time and thought Emery puts into their art is really showcased in the episodes and really made me appreciate them more than I already had.

“Fear Yourself” might be the heaviest track here. Talking about sin and the hypocrisy in the church, Toby sings in the chorus: “Fear yourself is all I heard / Horror-struck from the Holy Word” and, “…outside those walls they mauled the witness / And we got back to business”. Very on-brand for the members to sing about; they deal with it in virtually every episode of their “Bad Christian” podcast. I mean, they wouldn’t have to deal with it so much if it weren’t so true and physically visible, but c’est la vie. These guys have become a voice of dissension in millennial church circles, but I happen to think it’s necessary.

“Safe” is a song that Devin and Matt wrote after both of their mothers passed away during the recording of Eve. It’s a lovely tribute, and the harmonies Emery is so known for really shine here.

A highlight of the album is the ridiculously titled, “People Always Ask Me If We’re Going to Cuss in an Emery Song”. Emery did not. I’m pretty sure this is a song to everyone who listens to their podcast (in which profanity is abundant) and, other than the question in the title, ask: “How can you guys talk like that and still be religious?” Emery’s reply is that they’re just words and they don’t matter.

Needless to say, I’m psyched with the new Emery album. I’ve got to take a little more time to dive into the lyrics and figure out where it fits into my Emery album ranking, but, so far, it’s pretty high up there. Kickstarter was made to release albums like this. The band has proven three times now that they’re capable of producing exquisite art, and Eve is another great example of that.

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.