Review: Weezer – Pacific Daydream

My first experience with Weezer came while playing Guitar Hero with a friend and watching them play “Say It Ain’t So”. As ridiculous as that sounds, their self-titled album remains my favorite release of theirs and I always turn up the volume when “The Sweater Song” comes through my headphones.

You can buy Pacific Daydream on iTunes.

My experience in this regard isn’t necessarily exclusive. Weezer has always been a great choice for a party playlist. This was true at the beginning of their hip, college kid demographic of yesteryear into the irony-driven college kid demographic of today. The lyrics in their latest venture, Pacific Daydream, are approachable and not too deep, but not worthless, either. As their career continues to unfold, Weezer seem to dwell in the past, always holding onto youth and fun, while avoiding feeling dated

Pacific Daydream was released on October 27, which is strange, because it would’ve landed best, without a doubt, as a summer album. That doesn’t take away from the quality of the album at all. I think it’s got their finest production and tightest sound, and, noticeably, their most enjoyable lyricism.

It’s no secret that times are tough. Shootings and natural disasters and all manner of terrible things tend to plague our day-to-day lives. Still, people are using music as an escape. I think Weezer’s Pacific Daydream provides that escape perfectly. Songs about relationships and day trips and simpler times are what we turn to when the news gets exhausting and depressing.

I know I’m more apt to turn on something upbeat when the world around me is at a low point. I think that the past holds a certain security, because we know what’s happened and how everything turned out, whether the outcome was positive or negative. Weezer seems to have tapped into that idea with the song “Beach Boys”, where Rivers Cuomo sings about how old, familiar music is sometimes the best choice.

Something I noticed from track to track is the similarity between certain older songs and the songs on this album. The references are simple and may not even have been done on purpose. “Weekend Girl” reminded me of The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” with the reference to meeting said-girl on Sunday and thinking about her on Monday and then through the remainder of “the weekday traffic”.

Similarly, “Sweet Mary” lyrically reminded me of The Beatles’ “Let It Be”. Right from the get-go, we have the lines, “When I am all on my own / One foot in the grave / My Sweet Mary comes / To help me find my way”. The most overt mentions of classic music are obviously the aforementioned track, “Beach Boys” and the lyric in the final track, “Any Friend of Diane’s”, which talks about a girl wearing a shirt featuring The Smiths.

On a broader level, Pacific Daydream seems to be the second in an unofficial series of albums featuring heavy mention of California. This album is their second to be released with Crush Management, so it’s possible that there was a push there for some thematic continuity. Whatever the case, it gives a perspective on where the members draw their influence, at least from a geographical standpoint.

I don’t really like choosing best or worst tracks. Instead, I prefer to take the album as a whole, trusting the artist’s final judgment on the pieces of their art they believe to be good enough to release publicly. Even without that personal guideline, I had difficult time with giving these 10 songs a definitive rating. The album is tightly knit and well put together and each song fits well where it was placed. Put plainly, Pacific Daydream is a perfect pop album, joining the ranks of some of the year’s best.

What I’m trying to get at here is that Weezer is the ultimate nostalgia band. With a new album hinted at for 2018, Weezer has made it clear that they aren’t keen on stopping. Over their 11 albums, they’ve remained consistently tied to the idea of never-ending youth, and they’ve invited us to revel in summer all year ‘round.

4.5/5

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.

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Review: Jeff Rosenstock – We Cool?

 

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Up until yesterday, I hadn’t heard of Jeff Rosenstock or any of his various projects, as heretical to the punk scene as that may be. For someone who has been a part of the scene for 20 years, he’d somehow completely escaped me the entire time despite dipping my toes in literally every band I’ve come across in the same amount of time.

His second solo LP, We Cool?, was a random album I decided to listen to yesterday, and since then, I have listened to just about everything else he has put out. We Cool? is a lesson in punk rock from someone who has watched the genre evolve from the brutal grunge of the 90’s to the melodic pop noise of today. It really says something about an artist’s talent when in less than a day, they’ve made themselves as important as Lagwagon’s Joey Cape to me.

We Cool? is a trip through the last twenty years of punk and pop punk. Each song feels instantly familiar in some way, shape or form: a guitar solo in “You, In Weird Cities” and the opening to “Novelty Sweater” would make Weezer envious. Ben Folds Five piano rock oozes out of “Nausea” before breaking out in a sweet horn section out of a slower Less Than Jake song. The songs aren’t rip offs of these bands, but Rosenstock wears his influences on his sleeve proudly.

The result is an album that goes above the label of “punk rock” and instead offers the best of what the genre can deliver in any form. Rosenstock provided most of the work on the instruments (at least what I can tell from the album’s site), and each instrument shines through when needed and allows the album to stay fresh as it tours from one style to the next. Chiptune melodies appear suddenly in some songs (“Polar Bear or Africa”), but feel essential at once, especially when paired with the bass lines and guitar.

The real star here is the guitar work. The crunch of the chords feels classical and aggressive, while the solos slide with such stylish pop that most modern bands seem almost childish in comparison. The way that songs transition from soft pop with country influences (“Beers Again Alone”) to unapologetic hard punk (“Hey Allison!”) ensures that at the end of each song, you’re transfixed on what the next one will be.

Rosenstock’s vocals strike me in weird ways. He obviously pushes himself from sweet croons to straining his voice to be purposely out of tune amidst snarling melodic shouting. He sounds authentic and unwilling to artificially tune his voice.

The record sounds mature. This is a man who has outgrown the troubled love life of younger bands and is finding life as an adult even more troubling then most punk bands have ever explored. Don’t get me wrong, these are definitely drinking songs and the standard fare of drug use and subtle emo garnishes are aplenty, but it goes so much deeper. “Polar Bears or Africa” actually tackles most young punk bands head on with a single lyric of, “The truth is it sucks being young and in love / When you’re old you’re just bummed that you’ll never be happy enough”.

The first line of the album on the aptly titled “Get Old Forever”, Rosenstock regrettably sings in a monotonous tone reminiscent of The Mountain Goats, “When your friends are buying starter homes / With their accomplishments / Drinking at a house show can feel childish and embarrassing / With people glaring / Because despite what the advertisements said / Malt liquor doesn’t make you young”.

The theme of maturity gone wrong is what carries the album. The rock scene is something beyond the ‘norm’ for most punk teens turned adults, and Rosenstock’s lyrics reflect it brutally honestly. During “You, In Weird Cities”, Jeff sings, “I don’t have to wake up, I don’t have to feed a kid / And it’s got to the point where I’m not sure if that’s something I wanted”.

For me, Jeff Rosenstock is a new obsession, for others this solo album is a another high standard. Perhaps the only downside to We Cool? is that all the genre progressions can make it feel disjointed at times, and perhaps a bit too long. But the few downsides are so outweighed by such sincere and intricate songwriting it doesn’t even matter. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Jeff Rosenstock, We Cool? is the jump off needed to showcase his talent on every level. For those of you who already know about him, keep doing what you do; you’re obviously better than the rest of us.

Please check out the Quote Unquote Record label and show some support or check out Sideone Dummy for the album’s release. It’s well worth your time.

4.5/5

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 somehow completely missed Jeff Rosenstock for last fifteen years. Boooo. Boo Kyle, booooo.

It’s All Dead Podcast Episode: 010 – The Best Music of 2014

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If you couldn’t find good music to listen to in 2014, you weren’t listening hard enough. On this episode of the official It’s All Dead Podcast, Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz break down the best albums, songs, tours and moments of 2014 and discuss the year in music. The conversation includes reflections on music from Architects, Anberlin, Yellowcard, Weezer, Taylor Swift and much more. Listen in!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/itsalldead/IAD_Podcast_010_mixdown.mp3|titles=It’s All Dead podcast episode: 010]

Subscribe to our podcast here.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Top 10 Albums of 2014

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

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

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

every_time_i_die10Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown

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

fireworks9Fireworks – Oh, Common Life

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

copeland8Copeland – Ixora

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

new_found_glory7New Found Glory – Resurrection

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

emarosa6Emarosa – Versus 

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

weezer5Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End

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

against_me4Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

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

yellowcard3Yellowcard – Lift a Sail

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

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

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

architects1Architects – Lost Forever // Lost Together

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

Honorable Mention:

PVRIS – White Noise

Merriment – Sway

I Can Make a Mess – Growing In

Anberlin – Lowborn

Taylor Swift – 1989

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

Review: I Can Make a Mess – Growing In

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Holy shit, did that just come out of nowhere.

I Can Make a Mess has only really garnered the attention it deserves over the last few years. Originally a side project a decade ago for soft acoustic songs that wouldn’t fit in with the discography of a still young The Early November, Ace Enders’ other brainchild has evolved into something of almost equal importance to his main band.

I Can Makes a Mess really came to true fruition with 2010’s The World We Know, an inspired collective of acoustic pieces that still remains arguable the finest release of Enders’ career. The few releases since then have seen him experiment beyond acoustic songs to more pop ventures and more use of electric guitar, but never reach quite as high as The World We Know.

Growing In, yesterday’s surprise release, is one of Enders’ best albums under any of his many names. It’s the equivalent of Dashboard Confessional’s A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar; the legacy of ‘acoustic only’ is tossed aside for electric pop. Each song is remarkably and distinctly Ace Enders at his best. It sounds like he genuinely had fun recording these songs and it shows through the energetically playful  lyrics and the thrashing pop.

According to Enders’ Facebook, each song was written in 3-4 minutes sessions of whatever came to his head first in regards to the music and lyrics. You can hear the voice memo from his phone of the initial recordings spread throughout the tracks.

The most surprising aspect is that some of the songs weren’t saved as inclusion for The Early November’s next release or as a continuation of Ace Enders and a Million Different People, as ICMAM usually doesn’t jump this far into the ‘indie pop punk’ pool. The lightheartedness of the music mixed with the playful and deeper lyrics though maintain the energy that ICMAM was originally built for. The guitars chug along crisply, faintly reminiscent of Weezer’s Blue Album and The Get Up Kids’ pop punk structure, but distinctly Enders’ own chord progression. The production that Enders is known for makes the songs sound more hand crafted than most music.

Growing In also tests Enders’ vocal chords to the limits. Not only does he run rampant across the scales over the course of the album, but he jumps from shouts to soft growls to nearly spoken word. The crackle of his voice adds to the effect that you can hear him testing himself. As the sixth ICMAM album, he has rarely sounded better.

Lyrically, Enders is more comfortable than ever. Topics of past ICMAM songs are still here; debt, money, love songs and overcoming the odds are still the mainstays, but are much easier to access and toy around with. “Get Normal” sees Enders crooning and shouting against backing vocals of himself over memories reflecting on how little he used to know when compared to “the height of the rising sun” as he sings, “I’ve crossed too many sun faded lines that divided my road / That’s what I believed but I don’t believe in all that / My life is crowded with the broken back roads, you don’t know”.

“I’m the Man (Sarcasm)” is an amazing grunge pop song with hints of surf rock that has Enders following a corporate shill somewhere on the verge of a midlife crisis who has never really grown up. “I never start a day without a coffee in my hand, thirty-two ounces, now tell me who’s the man,” is the opening line before eventually finding his way to the thought of “Pimping three screens like I know I’m the man / We’re staying late to get the job done, some kid got the promotion that I really wanted.. Cool.”

“Deciduous” is a magnificent pop song torn from the pages of early 2000’s emo and contains perhaps the most personal lyrics Enders has ever penned, “I really wish that money went as far as love does, cuz then I’d be on my way / I really wish that love went as far as money does, cuz then I’d be okay / I’m a thirty-something musician having a problem of never ending wishing / But I hope one day my kids think I’m cool, didn’t sell the farm to be the mule / I’m a fool with no clue paying dues after dues after dues”.

Growing In is a near perfect blend of old school emo and pop while manifesting the skills Enders has acquired over the years. It pushes the boundaries of what previous I Can Make a Mess albums were and threatens at times to become more of a sequel to Ace Enders and A Million Different People than anything else, but it’s also a testament that ICMAM is meant to be versatile and whatever Ace Enders decides it will be. It’s one of the few albums that make me proud to be a fan when I hear it. I am honestly a bit biased when it comes to Ace Enders’ music, but this is without a doubt one of the best releases of the year.

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 once dropped a Popsicle in front of Ace Enders and didn’t know what to do. Ace watched me cover it awkwardly with my foot instead of grabbing a towel like an adult and then gain the ability to only say weird, awkward things to him whenever I’ve seen him at tours years later. I suck on every level mankind has managed to unearth.

Generational Punk: Riot Fest 2014 – Day 3

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The third day of Riot Fest is always a tiring one. By the time the diehards enter the grounds, they’re still somewhat recovering from at least a dozen hours jumping and wandering from the previous two days. The offerings for a festival’s finale were tempting: a swarm of legendary bands on almost every stage culminating in a three headed beast of a finale: The Cure, Bring Me the Horizon and Weezer playing at the same time throughout the grounds.

The entire day was marked by gripping choices between generations of music; on one stage is Naked Raygun with Motion City Soundtrack at the other end of the park at the same time. Social Distortion played at the same time as New Found Glory. There was more to see than one could make time for, with generations of punk bands dueling for fans. The bands that I grew up loving played next to the bands older siblings listened to in the 90’s, next to the bands my parents loved.

Motion City Soundtrack pulled out a stellar performance studded with the well known singles, “Everything is Alright” and “Her Words Destroyed My Planet”, as well as a new single from their upcoming album titled “Anything At All”. If it is any indication, their sixth studio album looks like it may be a rocker more in line with My Dinosaur Life.

Social Distortion tore through the soulful punk that only they can produce for songs like “Machine Gun Blues” and “Through These Eyes”. Mike Ness’s deep croon lulled the audience in sing-a-long while the guitars blasted away.

The smaller stages saw I Am The Avalanche draw in the faithful fans that Vinnie Caruana is known for during his hard set, but the real surprise was a few hours later when Modern Baseball took the same stage. As a rising star in the pop punk community, they drew in the biggest crowd the small Revolt Stage (tucked between the larger Rock and Riot Stages and next to the food carts) had seen the entire weekend and would be considered an almost sold out audience for a club. Fans filled the lawn to sing along.

My personal high point was seeing New Found Glory for the first time since the departure of guitarist Steve Klein. Bassist Ian Grushka officially takes MVP for not only fulfilling his duties as bassist, but also covering Klein’s guitar riffs, officially making the band’s sound weightier and deeper than ever before. Guitarist Chad Gilbert essentially has free reign of the guitar section and makes sure that the band’s signature pop aesthetic is louder than ever. For as much as they have gone through in the last year (Gilbert described it on stage as “the rock bottom”) they’re a band completely reborn with a new energy and inspired vigor.

The festival ended with three generations of bands helming the headline duties on different stages. The Cure took up one of the biggest stages with a massive audience of mostly the older attendees. The few songs I heard sounded epic and tormented, the way any good Cure song should. At the other end was Bring Me The Horizon, blasting an explosive hardcore set for the younger audience to cap off the festival’s newer bands.

Weezer though, was another animal altogether. Anyone claiming that Weezer has lost their popularity can go screw; this was by far the biggest and most excited crowd of the festival. The area surrounding the stage packed full of people to the point of crushing. The thin lines of people moving through the crowd were regularly pushed to a dead halt against audience members refusing to budge for fear of losing their spot. Stepping into the outside rim of the crowd, it took me a solid ten minutes just to get out. People climbed into trees and lay down atop the chain link grating of batting cages to see the stage.

Weezer appeared to a shattering thunder of cheers. With the promise of playing The Blue Album front to back, they knew how to properly tease an audience by working their way back in time. Their first song was “Back To The Shack”, the lead single to their upcoming album followed by the famous songs to nearly every album (“Pork and Beans” for Red, “Perfect Situation” for Make Believe, “El Scorcho” for Pinkerton) before a brief hiatus when they took the stage for Blue.

“My Names Is Jonas” started a frenzy that never subdued until the finale of “Only In Dreams”. Thousands of voices shouted every lyric to each song in perfect time to Rivers himself. Weezer’s newer albums may not land them the hypnotic cultish fan base of Blue, but by the amount of people singing “Back To The Shack”, they haven’t lost anything.

Riot Fest has proven itself more and more as the ultimate destination for the punk rock faithful of any age. There were literally just as many mohawks on the kids as there were on the graying men who saw the genre on the rise. While seeing the best of the modern era of punk on stage is as exciting as it should be, the thrill of seeing a band that has been in the game for decades command an audience is intoxicating.

Though Riot Fest tours in a limited fashion across North America, it is quickly becoming the best festival in Chicago. For those unwilling to let rock fade away, Riot Fest keeps the spirit alive more than any other festival can, and the wait until next year’s all the more worth while.

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 spent nearly twenty-two collective hours at Riot Fest 2014. Please make paper mache effigies of him and feed them ham.

Review: The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

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The Gaslight Anthem have always felt a little out of place in the scene that they find themselves in. They’re a little too influenced by Americana and just a tad too little punk to really fit nicely where you want them to compared with their peers. But that difference is what guarantees their talent; each and every record is very much worthy of your attention.

Get Hurt is another example of their ever growing talent at song writing. Instead of infusing their music with energy just to stay on par with past records, Get Hurt steps down and paces itself to ensure that you’re paying attention.

With exception to the first track, Get Hurt sounds like a Gaslight album. It sounds like an electric folk record, with just a taste of punk. This is at once the heaviest and softest album of the band’s career. The mixture of sounds can be unsettling at first. The guitars are savagely fuzzy and rough, in the same vein as Weezer’s Maladroit, and not nearly as neat and trim as anything from American Slang or The ’59 Sound. But the hard guitars are cut to size with soft tracks held together with the soft thump of the pedal drum and soft strumming every few songs.

While breaking the energy isn’t anything new for The Gaslight Anthem, the focus has never been this heavy on it. Often times, it sounds like a loving mixture of Brand New’s more somber moments and The Get Up Kids circa On a Wire, held tight with Brian Fallon’s scratchy vocals. While the off and on bouts of energy can seem neurotic at times, the switches keep the songs from sounding too similar and gives each its own chance to ignite at any second.

The greatest asset to the sound of Get Hurt is drummer Benny Horowitz’ steady beat throughout the album. He never seems to go crazy at any point, instead maintaining the restraint that is key to the style of the record. Even as the guitars lose their energy, the drums stay strong, dampening just enough to set the pace.

Alex Levine’s bass lines ride the beat wonderfully, playfully bouncing throughout the album. Alex Rosamilia and Brian Fallon’s guitar work are the biggest differences in sound, as they are constantly shifting from the deep crackle of distorted power chords to the jangling pop of acoustic folk. The way that they test and toy with genres is endearing.

Title track “Get Hurt” is as soft as a song can be as it opens with almost a minute of just soft drumming and the guilded bounce of the bass propping Fallon’s voice before breaking out into a chorus equal parts subdued Brand New and Jimmy Eat World. “Helter Skelter” finds a more traditional sounding Gaslight song in the loud rock and hypnotizing guitar notes overpowering chords and bass lines as Fallon shouts back. “Selected Poems” starts off quiet against the click of Horowitz’s drum sticks before breaking into a frenzied chorus reminiscent of Weezer (especially the addicting guitar solo).

Lyrically, Fallon sounds similar to past Gaslight albums; a healthy mix of storytelling, regret and lost love. That not a dig by any means. As a lyricist, Fallon is able to tap into a manner of storytelling that feels authentic and classic without coming off as generic or boring. One of the best examples is in “1,000 Years”, as Fallon sings, “’Don’t look back,’ I heard a voice. In velvet I couldn’t see. The pictures were black and white, and the details were in between. I heard about a woman once who did everything ever asked of her. She died last week and her last words were, ‘It wasn’t worth it’”.

There are few happy endings to these songs if any, but that should be expected with an album titled Get Hurt. But instead of a depressed theme, the album abounds in the maturity and understanding of pain that accompanies growing up. Though the record is steeped in regret, it’s not bitter, such as during “Red Violins” when he sings, “Twenty pounds of curses came to visit me tonight. Salt for all the cuts, blankets for the cold, prayers to keep the devil far away from those I love. And there were red violins playing in my dreams. One for me, and two for me, and one at Jesus’ feet. And one I only reach to for sympathy”.

Get Hurt is in many ways a concept album exploring pain and regret, and in others the reconciliation and understanding of it. Though I can’t truthfully say that any of the songs have become my new all-time favorites from the band, there are significant staples to their discography that will be necessary for live shows. Regardless, Get Hurt is a powerful record of sublime skill.

4/5

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 yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

Review: Bayside – Cult

bayside

“I’m short on time but here’s my intention / To raise my voice and get your attention / And make a sound that makes me proud.” – “Time Has Come”

Bayside has been an underdog staple to the punk scene for over a decade. They’ve overcome more obstacles than most bands ever encounter, but have always pulled away from it all the stronger. Their sixth album, Cult is a powerhouse of punk that favors their trademark dark melodies and incredibly powerful lyrics.

While Cult doesn’t attempt to trace any new territory for the band, it’s a love letter to anyone who has stood by them throughout their career by showing them at their best. It’s explosive, surprisingly poppy, and delivers some of the best lyricism to come from Anthony Raneri.

The guitars chug away in the harsh tones that give the band’s dark melodic style that they’re known for. Small guitar solos fill the album, as the lead guitar meshes perfectly atop of the rough chords during the choruses (“You’re No Match”) or directly in your face (“Time Has Come”). Although the direct guitar solos tend to be in almost every song, they never feel out of place or unnecessary. Stylistically, it resembled the sound of Killing Time more than any of their other records, but that isn’t a bad thing at all.

Anthony Raneri’s vocals retain their signature pitch, which sounds like a slightly more refined version of Rivers Cuomo from Weezer. He teases the listener with hints of growls and occasionally nears the extremely high pitches from fan favourite “Devotion and Desire”. His voice tends to be hypnotic as it bounces in an odd near-monotonous flow that keeps you attached.

Naturally, the lyrics tend to be darker than most punk bands of the genre. In “Stuttering”, Raneri addresses the issue head on, as he sings “Cuz I’m the voice of the depressed / And that’s what everyone expects / Give the people what they want and it hangs over your head”. While a majority of the songs seem to be depressive and almost aggressively vengeful (“Pigsty”), there’s a playfulness to it that doesn’t bring the listener down.

While there is a consistent style for each song, the writing is near perfect. There aren’t any songs that drag the album down or feel like they could be filler. Personally, I’ve thought that Bayside’s past releases (aside from Killing Time) were a bit scattered, in that they had several amazing songs surrounded by hit or miss rock songs.

Cult manages to find every element that made Bayside’s best songs work and is arguably their best album to date. You owe it to yourself to listen to one of the best records by one of the hardest working bands on the scene.

4/5

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 yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.