Review: William Ryan Key – Thirteen

After the soaring choruses and melodic punk of nearly two decades in Yellowcard, it’s almost a shock to the system to hear William Ryan Key mellowed out. Some of the best Yellowcard songs were the often-overlooked acoustic ballads, and it can cause an undeserved sense of expectation when listening to Key’s new EP, Thirteen for the first time. Scaled back to its simplest form, Key’s work is dipped so far into a folk sound that it can be hard to recognize him. But the stories and pictures he paints are still some of the absolute best in music.

You can buy Thirteen on Apple Music.

Over the five songs on Thirteen, Key takes his time with simple melodies. “Old Friends” features a simple strum and spaced out notes that subtly pick up pace during the chorus. “Vultures” and “Form and Figure” are a bit faster paced, but still rely on a simple melody to carry the songs. Taking a note from Ace Enders, there is a synth line that haunts the background of several songs to give them an added sense of weight that emphasizes the guitar. It’s a soothing way to give the songs atmosphere and depth.

Additionally, Key’s vocals are scaled back significantly. Instead of pushing himself for a raging chorus, his voice is so quiet it can be almost monotonous. For someone who has such a wide range, songs like “Thirty Days” seem hampered because it sounds like he is trying too hard to hold himself back. It keeps the songs folky, but not without sounding at least partially forced.

However, the storytelling and themes are utterly incredible. “Old Friends” is a story about life on the road, and learning how to deal with your friends back home while dealing with the ambition of being in a rock band. “Went searching for the Hollywood sound and my old friends were cursing my name / I thought if I could burn out the sun, everyone would be with me in the shade / Wrong as I was, I wouldn’t change”.

“Form and Figure” deals with the aftermath of a failed relationship (“I stay in a sleepless state all the time / blurry lines / with the dawn about to light”). “Thirty Days” is a song that equally works as a love song and as a description of having found help after addiction. The somber tone of Key’s voice as he sings, “I’ve hung a heroes cape and worn a villain’s face / Is it my reflection on the wall? / Do I even look the same at all? / If you see me, I swear you won’t believe these years have worn on me” brims with both regret and hope in equal measure.

While it is a new direction for Key, Thirteen sounds like it has been written before. At 18-minutes long, these songs struggle to differentiate themselves from each other. After the flush and extravagant writing of Key’s vast body of work, Thirteen feels underdeveloped, even if that was the intention. However, it still points towards the next amazing step in his career.

3/5

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 frequently is criticized for his posture. Whip him with a wooden ruler upon sight, if you could be so kind.

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Ryan Key to Record New Music in 2018

Last year’s disbanding of legendary pop punk act Yellowcard wasn’t easy on anyone, but fortunately, it won’t be long before we hear the voice of Ryan Key again. The former Yellowcard vocalist will be hitting the road this spring with New Found Glory, Bayside and The Movielife.

According to a recent tweet from Key, he’ll be heading into the studio soon to record new songs that will be played on the tour, in addition to some classic Yellowcard tracks. Take a look at the tweet below:

You can currently purchase tickets on New Found Glory’s website. What do you expect from Ryan Key’s new music? Let us know your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Top 10 Songs of 2016

best-songs-of-2016

Check out our Top 10 Albums of 2016 here.

Perhaps more than ever, our top 10 songs of the year ran a gamut of emotions: heartbreak, social outcry, bittersweet, hopeful. In a year as up and down as 2016, it only makes sense. These songs cover an array of subject matter, but each one showcases the brilliance of the artist involved.

It’s always hard to pull 10 songs out of the context of a greater narrative and subjectively place them on a list. Nevertheless, we found ourselves reaching for the repeat button on the regular when these tunes graced our speakers. Take a look (and a listen) below to some of our favorite tracks from 2016.

10. Emarosa – “Helpless”

Smack-dab in the middle of the most smoldering and delicate album of Emarosa’s career lies “Helpless” – a bounding track chock full of energy and pop sensibility. On 131, a broken Bradley Walden fights for a lover with gentle pleas and fragile reflections before boiling over in this moment of heat. “If your body’s broken, love, your heart is helpless” he belts on the track’s chorus, using every inch his heralded range. Emarosa has made a career out of defying expectations and battling against the grain of vanilla song structures, but on “Helpless”, they dive headfirst into the most accessible song of their career – and the payoff is delightful. – Kiel Hauck

9. Honeyblood – “Ready for the Magic”

Although I just discovered Honeyblood within the last month, “Ready for the Magic” is a song that utterly captured my attention and hasn’t let go. It’s a perfect punk rock single – aggressive, loud and hypnotically catchy. For a garage punk song from a two-member act, it has more heart and energy than most bands with a fuller roster. A practice in simplicity, “Ready for the Magic” proves that punk rock doesn’t need to constantly redefine itself to be relevant; it just has to be good. – Kyle Schultz

8. Architects – “Gone with the Wind”

Less than three months after the release of All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, the scene received the terrible news of Tom Searle’s passing. As lead guitarist and songwriter for British metalcore giants Architects, Searle left us with one final masterpiece, which took on a completely new and powerful meaning in light of his three-year battle with cancer. “Gone with the Wind” is a powerhouse of a song, relenting ever so slightly for the brittle lines of, “A sickness with no remedy except the ones inside of me”. Not only is the track a lesson in mechanical metalcore perfection, it’s a heartbreaking gaze inside a terrible one-sided fight. “I remember when you said to me, ‘My friend, hope is a prison’”. – KH

7. Green Day – “Bang Bang”

“Bang Bang” is easily the best single Green Day has put out in over a decade, as well as the most aggressive. The entire song is a tip of the hat to the band’s style at the beginning of their careers. It’s also one of the most controversial in the genre, as it tackles the subject of being a mass shooter. A hybrid of classic punk and 20 years of writing the most aggressive rock known to man, “Bang Bang” managed to silence anyone who has complained about the band’s evolving sound over the last decade while still pushing the band to new extremes. – KS

6. The 1975 – “Somebody Else”

Once you dig past the shiny surface of self-deprecating satire and proverbial winks at the camera, I Like it When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It is truly an album filled with a deep sincerity. Perhaps no track on the album embodies Matt Healy’s candid struggle as well as “Somebody Else” – a syrupy, synth-driven slow jam straight out of the George Michael playbook. Not only does “Somebody Else” solidify The 1975 as the leaders of the pack in an age of throwback pop influence, it covers subject matter with which we’re all painfully familiar. Even so, Healy takes it one step further, digging deep into the bitterness of seeing your lover with another: “Get someone you love / Get someone you need / Fuck that, get money”. – KH

5. Blink-182 – “Los Angeles”

The most experimental song on California, “Los Angeles” is a bridge between Blink-182 and vocalist Matt Skiba’s other love, Alkaline Trio. Meshing the sounds of ska, R&B and alternative punk , “Los Angeles” is a distinct track that begins as an Alkaline song before exploding into one of the most Blink-182 sounding bridges ever written. It’s proof that Blink-182, though making a return to their original sound, are still pushing themselves sonically. The result is one of the most memorable songs of the band’s career. – KS

4. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People”

Released on the very week of one of the most startling and terrifying presidential elections in memory, We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service not only served as the acclaimed return of one of hip hop’s legendary acts, it served as the perfect protest music for the moment. Highlighting the affair is “We the People”, which finds Q-Tip mocking the despicable notion that anyone classified as “other” doesn’t belong, beginning a chorus for the ages with, “All you black folks, you must go / All you Mexicans, you must go”. It’s an anthem of dissent in a moment that left so many speechless, while simultaneously serving as a beautiful hello and goodbye to a dynamic duo. R.I.P Phife. – KH

3. Brian Fallon – “A Wonderful Life”

The lead single from his solo album, Painkillers, “A Wonderful Life” is the essential thesis for an album tracing the edges of the American Dream. The song is immediately memorable, linking the distance between Gaslight Anthem’s rock sensibilities and Fallon’s solo acoustic direction. The drum’s never ending march, the uplifting guitar, Fallon’s hopeful lyrics and the gang “Oh oh oh oh” vocals never become tiring. Though Fallon’s past work would never be described as dark or depressing, “A Wonderful Life” makes a distinct mark as a song about dreams and hope while cherishing its own bright sound. – KS

2. Kanye West – “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1”

You could easily argue “Ultralight Beam” as the track from The Life of Pablo deserving of this spot on our list. A wave of gospel accompanied by the verse of the year, courtesy of Chance the Rapper, showcases Ye as the elevator of new voices. It’s the album’s following track, “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” that displays his more complicated and troubling side. Future’s intro of “If Young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you” immediately crashes into Kid Cudi’s opening chorus of “Beautiful morning, you’re the sun in my morning, babe”. The track is the ultimate display of West’s duality, morphing from a tasteless story about meaningless sex with a model into a fast-paced confessional booth just moments later. Before we can react, Kanye has already predestined our response: “Everybody gonna say something / I’d be worried if they said nothing”. – KH

1. Yellowcard – “Rest in Peace”

The last great Yellowcard single, “Rest in Peace” is perfect in construction. A straightforward rock song, the track was released alongside a statement that Yellowcard would be disbanding after the release of their self-titled album. Featuring a music video highlighting their career and inviting fans to see them off with one final tour, “Rest in Peace” will always be a symbol of the band’s love of what they accomplished and their loyal fans. With Sean Mackin’s violin leading the charge, Ryan Key’s sprawling vocals, and a swelling guitar solo, “Rest in Peace” tackles everything that made Yellowcard one of the best bands in rock while marking one of the most memorable send offs in music. – KS

Honorable Mention:

Halsey – “Colours”
Frank Ocean – “Pink + White”
Chance the Rapper – “No Problem”
Letlive. – “Good Mourning, America”
Future featuring The Weeknd – “Low Life”
Blink-182 – “Built This Pool”

Posted 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.

Podcast: The Best of Yellowcard

yellowcard-2016

As the pop punk world mourns the the loss of Yellowcard, Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz take a look back at the band’s incredible career. The two discuss the Yellowcard’s recent self-titled release and break down the band’s extensive back catalogue, discussing their favorite albums and songs. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What is your favorite Yellowcard album? Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Yellowcard -Yellowcard

yellowcard-2016

Saying goodbye is never an easy task, but knowing that the end is coming makes the blow a bit softer. Such is the case with Yellowcard, the final album by one of the penultimate bands of pop punk. Yellowcard have ended their career with an album that feels like an accumulation of everything they have done up to this point. If there was a way to go out in style, Yellowcard seized the opportunity and ran with it.

You can pre-order Yellowcard on iTunes.

You can pre-order Yellowcard on iTunes.

It’s hard to describe Yellowcard, as each song sounds reminiscent of each album in the band’s career up to this point, finding a sublime balance between Southern Air and Lift a Sail. The songs are poppier, but have the edge of an alternative record. It’s clearly in the vein of the band’s most recent work with hints to earlier material, but each song is uniquely Yellowcard.

“Rest in Peace” is as distinct a Yellowcard song as “Ocean Avenue” ever was, with a bouncing guitar riff and whimsical violin taking the spotlight. Whereas “Got Yours” is much more of a faster song in the vein of more recent All Time Low albums. Being their final album, the band also tackles slower songs, such as “Leave a Light On”, a piano ballad tingling with a haunting guitar line. After 15 years, Yellowcard is an experience that keeps you guessing until the very end where past albums stayed on key and theme.

“What Appears” is a harder riffing rock song that sounds like it should have been on Lift a Sail and features a furious violin melody throughout. “The Hurt is Gone” keeps the drumming at a solid pace while the guitars bounce from short, simple strums and the bass keeps the song full. “Fields & Fences” might be the most fitting finale to a band’s career I’ve ever heard. At seven minutes long, it houses the single softest moment’s of Yellowcard’s career, bursts into a stupendous electric bridge, and fades on the wind of Mackin’s violin.

The biggest detriments to the album are a distinct lack of Sean Mackin’s violin taking center stage with exception to the “Rest in Peace” and “A Place We Set Afire”. Instead, Mackin finds a sweet spot in the rhythm section, allowing the guitarwork of Ryan Mendez and Ryan Key to take the spotlight. Although the drumming for Yellowcard is wonderful, it lacks the flair that Longineu Parsons III brought to past albums. Josh Portman’s bass provides a loving melody to the songwork and boosts the framework of the songs throughout.

Fittingly, the theme of the album is saying goodbye. Each song finds a new way to give the message without sounding contrite or repetitive. Lead track “Rest in Peace” is an overall eulogy to the band and reflects on ending after finding their second wind as Key sings, “It was the best that you could be for me / I think we were lucky just to stay alive / Even when you had only fire to breathe / I know you were only trying to make it right / Change everything I’ve ever known / Try once again to let you go”.

“Fields & Fences” sounds like a eulogy of the band making a such a strong comeback after their hiatus and finding understanding in the scheme of things under the brush of eclectic guitar. “I got used to being the star of the show / But I’ve seen the lights come and go / I heard a song playing brought by the wind / I got myself lost and I found you again”.

“A Place We Set Afire” perhaps contains the most direct thesis for why Yellowcard are calling it quits after so long, as Key sings, “We don’t have to say goodbye / But we can’t get lost in time / I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine / Maybe in another life”.

Yellowcard sounds like an ending. It’s a cap to a band that gave their all with each release and every show. Anyone who enjoyed Yellowcard at any point in their vast career will find a song to love, and anyone who enjoyed the band’s entire discography will love the album. It’s not their best or most cohesive work, but it’s not meant to be. Yellowcard is the sum of everything up to this point, collecting the best bits and experimenting with others.

I always tend to assume that the last song on an album is the last I will hear from a band, and in this instance, it’s a correct assumption. “Fields & Fences” ends on an honest note that sums up the parts of Yellowcard as a band before a 90 second violin solo with a simple sentiment: “I don’t have much to give to you / But I know I love the way you make me feel like I’m at home / And I am not alone”.

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 rediscovered Yellowcard after their hiatus. Godspeed, you lovely California kids.

 

Warped Tour 2016: Make Some Noise

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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.

Yellowcard Says Goodbye

yellowcard-2016

In a way, it’s fitting that Yellowcard would announce their farewell on the first week of summer – forever a band that epitomized the joy and wonder of the season. With the release of a self-titled album on September 30, followed by one last tour, Yellowcard will sail away into the night, leaving a large hole in the heart of the pop punk scene.

You can pre-order Yellowcard on iTunes.

You can pre-order Yellowcard on iTunes.

Like so many of Yellowcard’s followers, I was introduced to the band in 2003 when a friend purchased Ocean Avenue for me; a gift I’ll forever be thankful for. That album, an aching reminder of a past left behind, carried me through the early years of my college experience as I left home and started a new life. But it didn’t stop there – for over a decade, the band has offered a soundtrack to my own personal journey.

That’s what makes this goodbye so hard to swallow. Since their career took off, Yellowcard hasn’t released a “bad” album (we can argue about Lights and Sounds another time). In fact, each one spoke to a unique stage of life. Paper Walls dealt with friendships fractured by time, When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes pondered the confusion of youth from afar, Southern Air stressed the importance of finding home, and Lift a Sail told a story of hope amidst pain. It stands to reason that the upcoming Yellowcard will serve as a fitting bookend.

Aside from their overall proficiency, Yellowcard also served as a unifying voice within the pop punk scene – a band so unique and so driven that it pushed everyone around them to greater heights. The band’s first hiatus in 2008 felt like a gut punch, leaving a mark that never quite left until the band’s celebrated return in 2011. Sean Mackin’s violin intro to “For You, and Your Denial”, the first single upon the band’s reappearance, felt like the freshest breath of air imaginable and reignited a scene that was ready to explode again.

So here we are, with one last summer to soak it all in. Yellowcard will spend the season on the Vans Warped Tour, giving us all one last dose of pop punk sunshine before the official farewell commences. Yet even as we sing along under the oppressive heat in parking lots, open fields and amphitheaters across the country this summer, we’ll know that although the band may leave, the music stays. This won’t be the last time that Ocean Avenue graces my car speakers during a road trip or serves as the soundtrack to a late summer night with best friends. Not by a long shot.

Read the band’s farewell and pre-order Yellowcard here.

Farewell Tour Dates:

Oct. 6 San Antonio, TX The Aztec Theater
Oct. 7 Austin, TX Scoot Inn
Oct. 8 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill
Oct. 9 Houston, TX House of Blues
Oct. 11 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theater
Oct. 12 Tempe, AZ The Marquee Theatre
Oct. 14 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl
Oct. 15 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
Oct. 16 San Diego, CA House of Blues
Oct. 18 Los Angeles, CA The NOVO
Oct. 19 Ventura, CA Majestic Ventura Theater
Oct. 21 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst
Oct. 22 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
Oct. 23 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
Oct. 25 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
Oct. 26 Seattle, WA The Showbox
Oct. 28 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
Oct. 29 Denver, CO Summit Music Hall
Oct. 31 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights
Nov. 2 Milwaukee, WI The Rave
Nov. 3 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Nov. 4 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Nov. 5 Detroit, MI The Fillmore Detroit
Nov. 7 Boston, MA House of Blues
Nov. 9 New York, NY PlayStation Theater
Nov. 11 Huntington, NY The Paramount
Nov. 12 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
Nov. 13 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
Nov. 15 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
Nov. 17 Charlotte, NC The Fillmore Charlotte
Nov. 18 Jacksonville, FL Mavericks at The Landing
Nov. 19 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade – Heaven Stage
Nov. 20 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Revolution Live
Nov. 22 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues

by Kiel Hauck

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

10 Classic Music Videos Turning 10 in 2016

underoath-writing-on-the-walls1

Though some may say the art of the music video died with the demise of MTV, we know better. Just take a look at some of the view stats on your favorite videos on YouTube – the art form is alive and well, and with the continued success of online streaming, is still serving as an introduction to some of our favorite bands.

It’s funny how the visuals from a great music video can stick with you years after the fact, popping into your head each time the song comes on. Just as we did last year, we wanted to take a look back at some of our favorite music videos that came out a decade ago. We remember the videos below playing seemingly on the hour on Fuse and waiting 30 minutes to watch a pixelated stream of the videos online. Ten years have passed, but the nostalgia of these clips lives on…

Underoath – “Writing on the Walls”

Directed by Swedish film company Popcore, “Writing on the Walls” immediately became an MTV2 staple and helped launch the band’s powerful Define the Great Line into the stratosphere. The video is a wild murder mystery set in a life-size doll house and would eventually be nominated for a Grammy award. Spencer Chamberlain’s literal in-your-face screams during the song’s crushing conclusion will still send chills down your spine.

Taking Back Sunday – “MakeDamnSure”

Speaking of songs that launched band’s to crossover stardom, “MakeDamnSure” served as Taking Back Sunday’s massive breakthrough, thanks in part to this incredible video. Trapped in a wind tunnel, the band sings atop artistic glimpses of tragic scenes turned beautiful with plenty of Adam Lazzara mic swings thrown in for good measure.

Cute is What We Aim For – “The Curse of Curves”

“The Curse of Curves” serves as a poignant reminder of what could have been. Cute is What We Aim For appeared destined to follow in the shoes of Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco with their emo-drenched debut single, coupled with this video of a dishonest dinner party. Though the band may have not achieved the breakthrough everyone expected, lead singer Shaant Hacikyan’s haircut lives on in infamy.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – “Face Down”

Another breakout single, “Face Down” introduced the world to The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. “Face Down” tells the story of an abusive relationship and the battle to walk away. We’re still not totally sure how they got all of that furniture to fly through the air. Ah, the magic of cinema…

Gym Class Heroes – “Cupid’s Chokehold”

Another year, another Fueled By Ramen breakout. Gym Class Heroes made waves on the radio and television alike with “Cupid’s Chokehold”, featuring Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump. The video is as amusing as it is visually pleasing, telling the story of Travie McCoy’s search for that perfect girl, which turns out to be…Katy Perry. Too bad things didn’t work out.

Saosin – “Voices”

Would Saosin lose their edge with their debut full length and a new lead singer? Not after hearing the opening riffs of “Voices”. The song’s chaos is matched with inter-relationship and family fights and struggles, but there is peace to be found. As the song comes to its powerful close, the parties involved all make a decision to fight for peace.

Boys Like Girls – “The Great Escape”

Try to watch this video and not time travel back to 2006. The video for Boys Like Girls’ breakout single finds the story of the band on tour juxtaposed with some dedicated fans’ road trip to witness the performance. It’s the perfect summer anthem and the video captures the mood with brilliance.

Yellowcard – “Rough Landing, Holly”

There’s a good chance that “Rough Landing, Holly” is the most underappreciated pop punk video of all time. A spiritual successor to “Ocean Avenue”, director Marc Webb shows Ryan Key on the run. From what, we’re not sure, but in this universe, windows open into manholes and people can climb out of sinks. Pretty weird. And cool.

Cobra Starship – “Bring It (Snakes on a Plane)”

What a way for Gabe Saporta to make his first splash into the pop rock world. “Bring It” was attached to the end of the movie from which it was inspired, offering a laugh to movie-goers who stayed past the credits. For all of the silliness to be found in this song and video, it’s still exciting to see Saporta, Travie McCoy, William Beckett and Maja Ivarsson share the screen together.

Evanescence – “Call Me When You’re Sober”

After a prolonged absence following their breakthrough debut album, Fallen, Evanescence returned with the explosive “Call Me When You’re Sober”. It’s an over the top arena rock number highlighted by this video, featuring Amy Lee acting as a scorned Red Riding Hood, complete with wolves and levitational powers. Stay out of her way.

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.

Pop Punk Legends Yellowcard and New Found Glory Rock Concord Music Hall

NFG_YC

A New Found Glory show can only be measured in one way: how drenched in sweat you are when it’s over. If you’re dry, you never cared for their music in the first place.

There’s an energy in the air the entire show, no matter who goes on before, or even after. It’s one of the reasons that their legacy and career has endured the rise, fall and rebirth of pop punk. It’s something that seems to emit from the bands that grew from the early 2000’s, and one that only another band from that era can replicate.

Yellowcard is one of those bands, and one of the most engaging. After almost two decades, the kids who grew up on these bands have refused to give up on them; a full house at the Concord Music Hall in Chicago consisted of everyone between the ages of 18 and 35 ready to open a circle pit.  As Yellowcard’s Ryan Key himself said, “If we had done this same tour in 2003, it would have been magical. But it’s 2015, and you’re still here.”

It was the first time Yellowcard and New Found Glory have toured North America together in their careers. If the first of their two night stay in Chicago was any indication, fans have been waiting a long time for this team up. Before opening band Tigers Jaw even took the stage, the room was packed. The sleek interior of the theater spaced people out nicely while filling the center, the entire eclipsing balcony full of onlookers. When Tigers Jaw finally emerged, they had a nearly full house.

Tigers Jaw mesmerized the room, jamming to a somber indie sounding version of pop punk. Dual vocalists, Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh trading and sharing vocals held firm against the popping guitar and hypnotic keyboard. Being unfamiliar with the band, I had no idea what any of their songs were or which album they could have come from. But they were wonderful. Their music took me back to a simplified style of songwriting that still managed to hit every correct note that hooked you in and refused to let go. I could understand why they had been around so long as a band, and why so many people had arrived early to see them.

Though they never hit the high mark of energy or noise of the rest of the night, their relaxed and steady stage presence paved their own path. The biggest mistake bands that tour with behemoths like Yellowcard or NFG can make is to sound like a pale imitation of either one, which is a trap that Tigers Jaw never fell into.

Yellowcard

Yellowcard

Yellowcard took the middle spot, demolishing the room upon entry. Guitars blazing and violin ripping, they tore immediately into the early catalog from Ocean Avenue with songs “Way Away” and “Breathing”. Every major single was hit, from “Lights and Sounds” to “Always Summer” and yet another riotous performance of “Ocean Avenue” enveloped the crowd, encouraging violinist Sean Mackin to do a back flip mid-song early on. One of the highlights of their set included vocalist Ryan Key alone on stage playing the keyboard for a softer, intimate version of fan favorite “Empty Apartment”.

The biggest detriment to Yellowcard is their range in discography. Each album has its favorites, and no concert will ever be able to cover everything fans want to hear. Aside from the hits, the band focused on two albums specifically; Ocean Avenue and Lift a Sail. “Crash the Gates” and “Lift a Sail” sound much better and harder in person than they ever could on an album, and it breathes new life into a record that sounds unlike anything else the band has put out.

While the band themselves put on an amazing performance, of note is current drummer Tucker Rue, formerly of Thursday. Longineu W. Parsons III is a brilliant drummer (my personal favorite), and filling his shoes is no small feat. Obviously a veteran, Rue managed to engage and make missing Parsons not hurt quite as bad.

New Found Glory

New Found Glory

New Found Glory headlined the evening, opening with a scorching rendition of “Resurrection”. From there, it didn’t matter what they played; each song might as well have been their big hit. Fan favorite “Hit or Miss” jolted the crowd early (rather than be a closing song) and spurred multiple circle and mosh pits. “All Downhill From Here”, “Selfless” and “Vicious Love” with a guest appearance by Brianna from Tigers Jaw were a few of the highlights, but the energy never so much as wavered throughout the set.

The only thing that paused the band from jumping across the stage at any time was when they pointed to a fan in the front row named Brad and not only invited him on stage, but asked him to pick a song that wasn’t on their set list and sing it was Jordan. He chose “Second to Last” from the band’s self-titled album, prompting the crowd to chant “Brad! Brad! Brad!” and guitarist Chad Gilbert to momentarily throw quick glances at the rest of the band to make sure they all remembered how to play it before rampaging through the song as though it were their big single.

New Found Glory remains one of the few bands that have not only retained their fanbase the entirety of their career, they have also kept their core sound intact while making each release sound new and intimidating among a new generation of musicians inspired by and evolving off of NFG. Every song they play, regardless of which record, sounds just as important as any song that could have made them a radio phenomenon. The audience jumped as though they had seen the band a dozen times before, and would see them again a dozen more. One man held his young daughter up on his shoulders in the back for her to see, and although she couldn’t have been more than five years old, NFG was already shaping her to be a new generation raised on their music.

Pop punk is a scene meant to push its way into your life, and immediately leave to some degree. Whether that means that you outgrow the sound, or the bands you love dissolve after an album or two, its rare to see a group stay together for a 10-year reunion tour, much less two bands together and better than ever after almost 20. Yellowcard and New Found Glory have carved their way into legendary status within music. Both have evolved with a generation of music that they helped shape and mold, and remain at the forefront.

I only managed to see the first of a two night headlining gig in Chicago, allegedly with different songs played each night for New Found Glory. But the fact that these bands can manage two nights worth of shows for fanatic listeners means something. Thankfully, it seems like they’re here to stay.

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 New Found Glory was his first major band. Long live NFG!

Vinyl Spotlight: Yellowcard – A Perfect Sky

yellowcard_vinyl

Every so often, our resident vinyl lover, Kiel Hauck, takes the time to talk about a recent vinyl release and gives a breakdown about everything from packaging to sound quality. Here’s his latest installment.

As we continue our discussion of Record Store Day 2015, we turn our attention toward another highly sought after release: Yellowcard – A Perfect Sky. This 10-inch record features three unreleased/acoustic mixes from their 2014 album Lift a Sail. The pressing by Razor & Tie is limited to 1,000 copies.

It’s no secret that we were huge fans of Lift a Sail, making this pressing quite an exciting release. Adding to the intrigue was the lack of background information on the unreleased songs. Yellowcard very rarely fails to deliver, so it stood to reason that A Perfect Sky would meet our expectations. How did it measure up? Let’s take a look.

Packaging and Presentation

Judging from the pre-released image of the cover, A Perfect Sky looked quite pleasing to the eye. Sure enough, the artwork is striking, featuring deep purple, blue and green colors that echo the pastels featured on Lift a Sail’s artwork. The cover is simple and beautiful, featuring the band’s logo in the center, in front of what appears to be a cloudy, night sky.

The packaging here is quite simple, featuring an inner sleeve with lyrics on one side and a concert photo of singer Ryan Key with an acoustic guitar on the other. There’s really not much here, which is understandable considering that the release features only three songs. The record itself is pressed on 10-inch black vinyl, which feels odd with only one track on the B-side. More on that in a moment. All in all, the packaging is minimal, but the colors make it attractive.

Sound and Quality

This is where things get interesting. Featured on the release are two Neal Avron mixes of “MSK” and “California” from Lift a Sail and an acoustic Daytrotter session of “One Bedroom”. Put simply, the two Avron mixes are fantastic, but “One Bedroom” leaves a lot to be desired. “MSK” is given new life with a beautiful string arrangement backed by deep bass and gorgeous keys. The song was already outstanding in its original form, but this remix takes the song to a whole new level.

Likewise, “California” places delicate strings on top of the original keys, adding depth to the track. It could be argued that both of these songs sound better than the originals. The fact that both tracks are emotional, tug-at-your-heartstring numbers is only amplified by these new mixes. Many props are due to Avron, who never ceases to amaze when it comes to his Yellowcard production duties.

On the other side of the coin, this new version of “One Bedroom” is pretty bland. Part of the song’s original charm was its production value and swirling guitar solo, which are both stripped away in this version. It also begs the question of why an acoustic version of “Lift a Sail” or “Make Me So” wasn’t included on the B-side to fill out the record. In truth, it may have been better to leave “One Bedroom” off the release completely in favor of a simple 7-inch with “MSK” and “California”.

Nevertheless, A Perfect Sky is still a charming release that brings new life to a couple of the best tracks on Lift a Sail. There’s a chance that a few copies of the record may still be available, so drop by your local record store and have a look.

a_perfect_sky

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.