Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best of 2011

Well, we're at the end of the year, and that means it's time to figure out my end of the year list.  As with every year, figuring out my list (beyond the top 6) was quite difficult.  My mood is always changing with music.  One day I'll be all about instrumental albums, while the next day all I'll want to hear is metal.  But, at some point you just have to dig in and make the list as best you can.  Below is my list.  Let me know what you think.  Also, feel free to leave your EOTY list in the comments.

Best Albums:
Listed are my favorite albums of the year.  I have listed them in preferential order, according to my mood right now.  Some may flip around depending on the day, but I can say that those in the top-6 would always remain there.  Why top-6, you ask?  Well, they are the albums I have or would have rated a 90% or higher.  I have also added a link to those albums I have reviewed.

1) Thrice - Major/Minor

Honestly, I have loved Thrice ever since Vheissu.  With every new release, they consistently produced amazing material that definitely stuck with me over the years.  Major/Minor is the culmination of this long list of great albums.  Thrice managed to assimilate all of their experimentation and raw alternative rock into one incredible album.  Sadly, this is also their last album for a while, since the band has decided to go on hiatus.  Perhaps we'll hear from them again sometime in the future.  Key tracks: "Call It in the Air", "Words in the Water", "Listen Through Me".

2) Align in Time - Me & My Arrow

John Boles debut instrumental album is a definite pleasure for the ears.  I've basically had this album on repeat since I got it a few weeks ago.  There are so many catchy melodies and the diversity of the songs just kept me coming back for more.  Key tracks: "The Many Faces", "Men Without Chests", "Run Home".

3) Thursday - No Devolucion

Thursday definitely took a new direction, musically, in No Devolucion.  The outcome, however, is their best album they have ever recorded.  The usual traits of the old Thursday are, of course, still here, but this album is much, much more atmospheric.  I really respect them for taking a chance on such a new sound.  Having announced their hiatus just a day after Thrice's announcement, we lose yet another leader of the genre.  Key tracks: "No Answer", "Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart", "A Gun in the First Act".

4) Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Every time I listen to Bon Iver's self-titled album, I like it more and more.  There is something deeply beautiful and thoughtful in the music that keeps pulling at me to keep listening to the album on repeat.  The inclusion of a full band also helped me to enjoy this album far more than any of Justin Vernon's previous efforts.  Key tracks: "Perth", "Holocene", "Calgary".

5) O'Brother - Garden Window

O'Brother took me by surprise.  Really,  Garden Window took a bit of growing on me.  It's full of so many twists and turns, musically, that one can feel a little confused.  But, with every new listen, I began to understand what they were trying to convey.  In the end, this album grew to be one of my top-5 albums of the year.  We can only hope that these guys are ready to take up the reigns of bands lost (Thrice, Thursday), and become the future genre definers.  Key tracks: "Malum", "Cleanse Me", "Last Breath".

6) The Horrible Crowes - Elsie

To be honest, I didn't expect to like this album so much.  I definitely liked The Gaslight Anthem's latest album, as evidenced by my EOTY list from last year.  However, as this year progressed, I found myself growing away from that album.  Then, Elsie came along and totally blew me away.  The brilliant song writing and chillness in the music made this one of the top albums of the year.  Key tracks: "Ladykiller", "Black Betty and the Moon", "Blood Loss".

7) Incubus - If Not Now, When?
8) Moving Mountains - Waves
9) A Winged Victory for the Sullen - A Winged Victory for the Sullen
10) Transit - Listen & Forgive
11) Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
12) The Dangerous Summer - War Paint
13) This Love - At War
14) Evaline - Woven Material
15) Fink - Perfect Darkness
16) The Chemical Brothers - Hanna Soundtrack
17) Funeral For a Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon
18) August Burns Red - Leveler
19) Rise Against - Endgame
20) Sainthood Reps - Monoculture

Special Mention:
The Republic of Wolves - In the House of Dust

Although I absolutely love this album, I didn't feel it quite belonged in the "new album" list since In the House of Dust is primarily comprised of remastered, acoustic, live, and demo versions of songs from previous efforts.  So, I thought I'd just throw in a special mention.

Honorable Mentions (alphabetical):
All Get Out - The Season
Banquets - Top Button, Bottom Shelf
Collapse Under the Empire - Shoulders & Giants
Every Avenue - Bad Habits
Industries of the Blind - Chapter 1: Had We Known
New Found Glory - Radiosurgery
Polar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt Pride
Russian Circles - Empros
Saves the Day - Daybreak
Thievery Corporation - Culture of Fear

Songs On Repeat (alphabetical):
Always Only for Me - Moving Mountains
Asleep at the Wheel - Transit
Blood Loss - The Horrible Crowes
Car Chase (Arp Worship) - The Chemical Brothers
Culture of Fear - Thievery Corporation
A Gun in the First Act - Thursday
Holocene - Bon Iver
Hunted - Every Atlas
Internal Cannon - August Burns Red
Isadore - Incubus
Last Breath - O'Brother
Listen Through Me - Thrice
Motions - This Love
Promises (David Call remix) - Andain
Warm Shadow - Fink
Words in the Water (Polaris at Noon Remix) - Thrice

Best Movies:
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
X-Men: First Class
Super 8

Best TV:
I don't really watch much TV, but Dexter has always kept my interest.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Align in Time - Me & My Arrow

A couple weeks ago I posted about the discovery of a new post-rock, instrumental project from John Boles, called Align in Time (then named Me & My Arrow).  I had only heard one song from his album Me & My Arrow, but that one song immediately put this album high on my radar, although somewhat conservatively.  Why you might ask?  Well, I've found that many times post-rock groups will release a single that is easily accessible, but once you hear the rest of the album, it turns out that one single is the black sheep among the tracks.  Instead, the album will diverge to some ambient insanity filled with sounds that just cause my head to hurt.  So yes, I was a little reserved in my anticipation.

Well, December 13th has finally come and gone, and I've had a chance to listen to Me & My Arrow about 30 times (yup, this is what I like to call a "repeater"). To say the least, this album has exceeded my every expectation.  After listening to Me & My Arrow for the first time, I immediately had that feeling of "yeah, he gets it".  This is the kind of music that easily draws you in, grabs hold of your emotions (and ears), and runs with them.

The brilliance of Me & My Arrow lies in the simple, yet beautifully layered structure of each song.  I should be clear that "simplicity" should NOT be taken as an analogy to "repetition".  Boles manages to craft multilayered guitar melodies that keep every minute of this album fresh and pleasing to the ears.  However, the music never becomes frustratingly crowded, as can happen in many post-rock albums.  Boles will also sometimes make a small change in the chording that ever so slightly modifies the feeling coming from the music.  It's during those subtle chord changes where I often thought to myself, "well, that was cool".

Every song holds an extremely catchy melody that should satisfy almost anyone who likes rock.  I could give a rundown of all the tracks, but instead I'll let you experience the beauty of this album for yourself.  I suppose that "The Many Faces", "Men Without Chests", and "Run Home" are standouts for me.  I particularly love the build-up and heavy hook of "Run Home".  But really, this album should be heard as a single entity (on repeat).

Definitely check Me & My Arrow out!  It is definitely in my top-6 (the "6" will make more sense when I post my end of the year list) for the year.

You can stream the entire album and buy it over on Bandcamp.

Good Old War Release New Single

Good Old War have released a new single, "Calling Me Names", from their new album Come Back As Rain, which drops on March 6th.  You can listen to the song as well as download it for free below.  Definitely a good tune.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Republic of Wolves Release In the House of Dust

Yesterday, The Republic of Wolves released a new CD/DVD combo album, In the House of Dust, via Simple Stereo.  This album consists of 33 tracks featuring remastered b-sides, demoes, live, acoustic, and new material.  There are some really fantastic versions of songs from previous albums.  Also, the new material is quite good, as expected from TROW.

In the House of Dust can be purchased and streamed in its entirety on the band's Bandcamp page.  This is definitely a must-have for anyone who is a fan of the band.  If you are unfamiliar with the band, I suggest having a listen to the rest of their catalog (which can also be streamed via Bandcamp).  Their music is the perfect combination of folk and alternative rock.  Varuna, in particular, was in my top-10 of the year last year.

Definitely check 'em out!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Check Out: Me & My Arrow and Future Ghosts

I've discovered a couple of bands that have peaked my interest.  As far as I know, they are both unsigned.

The first is Me & My Arrow, which is a one-man instrumental progressive rock project.  He will be releasing his first album on Dec. 13th, over on Bandcamp.  You can head over to to listen to a track from the album called "Men Without Chests".  This song is very good.  I am definitely looking forward to hearing the whole album.

The other band is Future Ghosts (love the name), who are an alternative rock band with pop elements.  You can watch their video for "Spotless" below, as well as, download two demos for free on Bandcamp.  "Spotless" is one hell of a catchy tune.  I'm not sure if/when these guys will be releasing an album, but the songs I've heard so far have me hoping that it will be soon.

August Burns Red Cover 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen'

August Burns Red have released a really awesome rendition of the Christmas tune 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen'.  I have to say, it is their best Christmas cover to date.  You can listen to the track below, as well as purchase it on iTunes and Amazon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Simple Thanksgiving Playlist

This week has been a sad one.  Both Thrice and Thursday, two amazing bands that have done so much for the music scene as well as my own musical endeavors, have called it quits (aka, gone on indefinite hiatus).  I wish them the best.  To celebrate all that they've done and give thanks to these musical greats, I have created a very simple playlist for this Thanksgiving holiday.

I've taken both artists' complete catalogs and thrown them into a playlist, and am listening to them on random.  If you enjoy these two band, I urge you to do the same.  If you've never listened to these two amazing bands, just search them out on iTunes and/or Amazon and get some albums!!

Rock on!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Collapse Under The Empire - Shoulders & Giants

Shoulders & Giants, in plainest terms, is a soundtrack without a movie.  Really, you could see any track off of this album accompanying a scene of some dramatic and/or action scene of a movie.  Instead, however, the listener is treated to a fusion of rock and electronica that, although may not perhaps push the threshold of the genre, is still one hell of an addicting and satisfying album.

Collapse Under The Empire (note the humorous acronym) consistes of the duo, Martin Grimm and Chris Burda, from Hamburg, Germany. Shoulders & Giants is their 3rd release since their formation in 2007 and is actually the first part of a two-part concept album.  The second part, Sacrifice & Isolation, will be released sometime next year.  I was immediately hooked by this album from the get-go. "Shoulders" slowly draws the listener in with some dark guitar riffs, eventually leading into a flowing guitar with a steady beat.  What follows are a conglomerate of songs full of excellently layered and catchy electro-rock.  Album standout, "There's No Sky", really leads the listener through a sweeping explosion of mellow melodies from the keys, while I also really enjoyed the driving intensity of "After the Thaw".  With all the intensity, however, I still felt a constant mellowness throughout.  It is clear that this album definitely has dark undertones, which appear most evident in "Disclosure".  However, I felt a sense of optimism still show through during the interplay between keys and guitar in other songs, like "A Riot of Emotion".

Since hearing this album, I have definitely been going back to listen to it more and more.  To be honest, I would love to see these guys actually compose a soundtrack for a movie in the future.  But, for now I will just keep listening to Shoulders & Giants, and I look forward to the second part next year.

Definitely check it out!

You can buy Shoulders & Giants on iTunes and Amazon.

Review: O'Brother - Garden Window

Dark, heavy, thoughtful, emotional, sweeping, beautiful, and edgy are among the many adjectives that could be used to describe the songs that comprise O'Brother's debut album, Garden Window.  There is a certain unpredictability in each song that captures the essence of Garden Window.  Life is unpredictable, and can be full of many twists and turns as we search for ourselves and our beliefs.  It is clear that past and present influences are an important inspiration for O'Brother's construction of Garden Window.  While maintaining a constant search for answers to their own theology, they also make no effort to hide the musical influences that helped shape this album.  To just name a few, the sounds of Radiohead, Tool, Blonde Redhead, the Deftones, and Converge resonate from Garden Window.  Co-producers, Andy Hull and Robert McDowell from Manchester Orchestra, also add some of their own signature sound to this album, most evident in "Sputnik", in which Hull has guest vocals.

Garden Window really demands your attention right from the start.  I typically can work while listening to music in the background, but I was constantly distracted as I listened to this album.  There is definitely a lot to take in.  The tracks that really stand out are "Malum", "Easy Talk (Open Your Mouth)", "Cleanse Me", and "Last Breath".  The solid rocker, "Lay Down", will also most likely be a fan favorite.  "Malum" opens the album with a heavy intensity, the distortion almost at the edge of dissonance, only to immediately transition to clean vocals and guitars at the start of "Lo".  This really set the mood for the rest of the album and instantly grabbed my attention.  "Easy Talk", on the other hand, takes things down a notch with some absolutely beautiful layering.  "Cleanse Me" is one of the most harrowing tracks on the album. Starting with a heavy crescendo, the song suddenly turns to a clean ambience only to revert back to the distortion at the end.  Note also, that this song has a runtime of fourteen minutes.  To keep the listener captivated over such a long period is quite the feat in itself.  "Last Breath" ends the album with a beautiful polar opposite to the distortion that started the album.

O'Brother have really begun to make a name for themselves, having toured with the likes of Thrice, The Dear Hunter, and Manchester Orchestra.  Their debut album will only increase their rise above the multitude of rock bands.  With such a solid debut, it will be exciting to see what these guys will produce as they further refine their sound.

Definitely check it out!

You can purchase Garden Window on iTunes and Amazon.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Free Download of Remix of Thrice's "Words in the Water"

You can now download Polaris At Noon's remix of "Words in the Water" for free here! Now there's no reason not to get this awesome version of an amazing song!  You can still listen to the song in yesterday's post.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thrice's "Words in the Water" Remixed

Listen to a pretty sweet remix, by Polaris At Noon, of the song "Words in the Water" that comes from Thrice's latest release, Major/Minor.  By the way, Major/Minor is my current album of the year.  So, if you haven't heard it yet, you should definitely check it out!  Then buy it!

Get More: Thrice, MTV Shows

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Playlist of the Month - A Lesson in Trip-Hop

Fall is here, and that's when my musical tastes begin to transition to trip-hop sounds.  Back in the 90s, while all of my high school friends were busy adoring Kurt Cobain and other grunge groups, I was just starting to get into the trip-hop scene.  More specifically, I was getting into Massive Attack.  Later, I became a huge fan of the genre and fell in love with other trip-hop staples, such as Tricky, Zero 7, Portishead, DJ Shadow, UNKLE, Morcheeba, and other newer groups that have surfaced.  But, at it's core, trip-hop will always be dominated by Massive Attack.  These guys just keep pumping out amazing material.  If you've never heard of any of these groups, and don't know much about trip-hop, then you're missing out on some of the best music ever created.

I have put together a new playlist of songs that I tend to enjoy by these groups, as well as by some relatively unknown artists.  This list is definitely a good starter, but is by no means complete (I have an "ultimate trip-hop" mix that contains around 300 songs!).

Have a listen, and let me know what you think!

1) A Necessary End - Saltillo
2) Teardrop - Massive Attack
3) Lionheart - Emancipator
4) Aftermath - Tricky
5) Culture of Fear - Thievery Corporation
6) Destiny - Zero 7
7) Everywhen - Massive Attack
8) Black Steel - Tricky
9) Organ Donor (Extended Overhaul) - DJ Shadow
10) Pray for Rain - Massive Attack
11) Glory Box - Portishead
12) A Hair on the Head of John the Baptist - Saltillo
13) Lonely Soul - UNKLE
14) Kiara - Bonobo
15) Moog Island - Morcheeba
16) Paradise Circus - Massive Attack
17) Giving Up the Ghoast - DJ Shadow
18) Burn My Shadow - UNKLE
19) Black Sands - Bonobo
20) Incantations - Massive Attack
21) Every Day - Tricky
22) Six Days - DJ Shadow
23) Mandala - Thievery Corporation
24) Rabbit in Your Headlights - UNKLE
25) Roads - Portishead
26) Danny the Dog - Massive Attack

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: A Winged Victory for the Sullen - Self-Titled

Those of you who know me, know that I have somewhat eclectic tastes when it comes to music.  It may not be so apparent, given my top 10 of the year so far, but I do love it when I find an album that is completely different from what I'm used to.  That's why I'm so glad I checked out A Winged Victory for the Sullen.  I recently discovered them when they were featured over at  A Winged Victory for the Sullen consists of composers, Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O'Halloran, which began as an experiment to see if they could compose an album together.  Well, they succeeded, and the result is one of the most beautiful instrumental albums of the year.

The first track of the album, "We Played Some Open Chords", starts with what sounds like an orchestra warming up just before a performance.  This is immediately followed by the gentle strike of the piano as it leads us into the flowing, emotional body of this first piece.  Perhaps it's just the time of year, but this song invoked an image of a steady breeze swaying the branches of a tree as its leaves gently fall to the ground.  The following two tracks make up "Requiem for the Static King".  Again, these songs traverse a winding ambience. However, in "Part 1", the listener is led by a brilliant, melancholy melody of strings, while in "Part 2", we are left to explore the full embodiment of ambience followed by an intermittent piano that eventually steers our ears towards the end.  The piano then takes the forefront in "Minuet for a Cheap Piano".  Both "Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears" and "A Symphony of Pathetique" boast enchanting crescendos that build to a haunting ensemble of strings.  I particularly loved how "A Symphony of Pathetique" starts with rain-drops of piano chords accompanied by a tender background of strings that build to the song's climax at its middle, only to return to the gentle raps of the piano at the end.  The song is truly stunning, as some of the best chords flourish here.  The album then finishes off with "All Farewells Are Sudden", in which the listener is, again, shrouded by a dark ambience, but is then led to the end by piano.

It is possible that some might feel a sense of sameness throughout the album.  This is, in part, due to the slow and steady ambience created in the background of each song.  One would imagine this was done on purpose to connect all of the songs.  Wiltzie and O'Halloran manage, however, to include such varying melodies, chord changes, and crescendos to keep each piece fresh and interesting.  Really, A Winged Victory for the Sullen have created an absolutely beautiful piece of modern classical work in a year otherwise dominated by pop-punk, pop-rock releases.  The emotion and imagery that this album invokes has kept me coming back for more and more listens to see what else I might find hidden away in the music. 

If you are a fan of ambient, instrumental music, or are just looking for something different, I strongly recommend you don't overlook this album.  It is definitely worth a listen.

You can purchase A Winged Victory for the Sullen on iTunes and Amazon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Transit - Listen & Forgive

October 4th marked the release of a slew of new pop-punk and pop-rock albums.  I counted about seven albums that I was definitely interested in checking out.  Well, the day has come and gone and I've finally gotten around to listening to all of my anticipated albums for that day.  One album in particular stood above all the rest, which was Transit's new full-length, Listen & Forgive.

Listen & Forgive is Transit's best album yet, and is one of the best releases of the year.  I was pleasantly surprised by their new direction, musically.  Instead of sticking with the norm and pumping out another pop-punk album, they infused much more emotion, slowing the pace a bit.  Really, this album is absolutely fantastic musically.  For example, "Asleep at the Wheel" boasts some really solid guitar work from Tim Landers combined with some perfectly timed drum play that slowly builds to the brilliantly layered chorus.  "Cutting Corners", on the other hand, emits a fast-paced energy reminiscent of earlier Transit albums.  The closing track (and perhaps best track on the album), "The Answer Comes in Time", is the perfect fusion of the old Transit combined with the new, which really left a lasting impression on me.

Lyrically, Listen & Forgive is all about dealing with the heartache and anger of a break-up.  Those looking for a more positive album may be somewhat turned off by this, but the lyrics really didn't feel so imposing that I had to stop listening out of sheer sadness.  Rather, I just wanted to keep listening to the album over and over again.  The best lyrics reside in "All Your Heart", which also features Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy.  Boynton really vents his anger as he exclaims, "You made me into a monster / So I made you into art / And I gave it to the world / To rip and tear apart".  Of course, Boynton's lyrics and voice are extremely consistent throughout the album, which could impart a sense of sameness among the songs.  However, I never felt I was listening to the same song over and over.  This is in part due to the solid guitar work from Landers, who also adds an extra level to each song with some impressive back-up vocals.

Like I said before, Listen & Forgive is one of the best releases of the year.  Transit broke from the normal fast-paced pop-punk sound to create a truly emotional and captivating album.  If you had money for only one album that was released on October 4th, Listen & Forgive is the one to get.  Definitely check it out!

You can buy Listen & Forgive on iTunes and Amazon, but note that both online versions of the album do not include "The Answer Comes in Time".

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Review: You Me At Six - Sinners Never Sleep

After their second album, the Surrey-based English band You Me At Six almost reached the point of complete implosion.  Luckily for us listeners, they did not.  But, even better, the drama and tough times that surrounded the band inspired the subject-matter of their newest album, Sinners Never Sleep, which marks the band's shift from a typical pop-punk sound to that which is much more mature.

Really, this album caught be by complete surprise.  I've enjoyed You Me At Six's previous albums, Take Off Your Colours and Hold Me Down, but they never stood out among many of the other good pop-punk albums.  However, I was immediately drawn in by Sinners Never Sleep.  The transition to a mature rock sound and the deeper lyrics really made this album feel fresh and enjoyable.  But, don't be worried, elements from their previous albums are also still retained throughout the album.

Sinners Never Sleep features some of the most aggressive songs ever written by You Me At Six.  For example, Josh Franceschi lets loose all of his past anger towards his band mates (and vice versa) in "Bite My Tongue", which also features Oli Sykes, the frontman of Bring Me the Horizon, adding some biting screams to an already hard and heavy song.  "Time is Money", featuring Parkway Drive's Winston McCall, is probably the most hardcore song this band has ever written.  However, rest assured, there are plenty of catchy tunes that feel a bit more like the old You Me At Six.  Album opener, "Loverboy", has all the catchy anthemic melodies that one would expect from You Me At Six.  "Jaws on the Floor" and "Reckless" also have some of the most catchy choruses on the album.

On the brink of implosion, You Me At Six were able to turn things around and survive, and with this survival, they managed to write the best album of their careers.  Those who only liked them for their pop-punk elements may be a bit disappointed by this album, but I found myself really liking the songs which showed their new direction much, much more.  Definitely check 'em out!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: New Found Glory - Radiosurgery

New Found Glory are set to release their seventh full-length album, Radiosurgery, on October 4th among a wave of other pop-punk and pop-rock albums coming out that day.  If you're a fan of New Found Glory, you will (most likely) enjoy Radiosurgery.  If you are not a fan of NFG, you will not like this album.  That's the simple bottom line.  Everything we've come to expect from NFG is here: fast-paced pop-punk rock, catchy choruses, combo hardcore guitar lines from Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein that immediately punch you in the face, big hooks, and lyrics about friends and girl problems.  Sure, NFG haven't re-invented the wheel or progressed their sound in this album (which may disappoint fans hoping for the return of another Coming Home), but these are the guys who set the standard for pop-punk to begin with.  And, Radiosurgery definitely doesn't disappoint.

There are so many fantastic choruses on the album, starting with "Drill It in My Brain" followed by one of the best songs on the album, "I'm Not the One".  This song starts with Jordan Pundik's familiar nasal vocals over a rapid guitar, which blasts into the chorus with an edginess that will immediately make you want to roll your windows down and turn up the volume.  The listener is then treated to more pop-punk gems like "Ready, Aim, Fire!" and "Summer Fling, Don't Mean a Thing", which features Ian Grushka on the bass.  As I said before, Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein combine for their usual guitar crunching that keeps every song fresh and exciting.  Also, as expected, the production on this album is solid throughout the album.

It's difficult to determine where this album stands among NFG's extensive library.  I've always been partial to Sticks & Stones and Self-Titled.  The really cool thing is that most fans rate each album differently, showing a large variation in "fan favorites", which just shows the influence and sustainability of NFG.  If you want some rockin' pop-punk to listen to as you fly along the highway, windows down, then I recommend you pick this album up.  If you're a fan of NFG, then you probably already have the album pre-ordered anyway.  So, all I'll say is enjoy!

You can buy Radiosurgery on iTunes and Amazon.

Free Download of Thrice's "Words in the Water"

Thrice have offered up a free download of "Words in the Water", which comes from their latest album Major/Minor.  It's one of the best songs on the album, and you can download it below.  You should should definitely snag it if you haven't purchased Major/Minor yet.  Actually, if you don't yet have the album, you should get on that.  It's an incredible piece of work.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Download New Russian Circles Track

Instrumental rockers, Russian Circles, have released a new track, entitled "Mladek", which been heard and downloaded here.  This track is the first single from their fourth full-length album, Empros, which drops on October 24th.  Definitely some awesome dramatic progressive rock in this track. I'm looking forward to hearing the whole album!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Stream New Panic! At the Disco Track

Below you can stream a new Panic! At the Disco song entitled "Mercenary", which will be on the upcoming soundtrack to the video game Batman: Arkham City.  Interestingly, this could be the "best video game soundtrack ever".  Not that it has much to go up against...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stream New Transit Song

Transit have released a new track entitled "Cutting Corners" for your streaming pleasure.  I have added the stream to this post as well as the For Your Ears section.  This song comes from Listen & Forgive, their new album that drops on October 3rd (in the UK) 4th (everywhere else).
Transit 'Cutting Corners' by Littlest Group

Download The MIDI Version of August Burn Red's "Internal Cannon"

Metal rockers, August Burns Red, have released the MIDI version of "Internal Cannon", the (in my opinion) best song from their latest album, Leveler, on their Facebook page.  You can both listen to and download the track.  Definitely check it out.  It's pretty entertaining.

Stream New Songs From New Found Glory: Part 3

KROQ radio has released the third and final stream of tracks from New Found Glory's new album, Radiosurgery, that drops on October 4th.  Today's track is entitled "Dumped" and can be heard here.  You can also listen to "I'm Not the One" and "Anthem for the Unwanted" here and here, respectively.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stream New Songs From New Found Glory: Part 2

KROQ radio is releasing streams of 3 tracks from New Found Glory's new album Radiosurgery that drops on October 4th.  I posted a link to the stream of "Anthem for the Unwanted" here.  Today's track is "I'm Not the One", which can be streamed here.

fun. Stream New Single

fun. have released their new single, "We Are Young", featuring Janelle Monae, that will be on their full-length album that comes out early next year.  Find the stream of the single below.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hear A New Transit Song have an exclusive stream of a new Transit song, entitled "All Your Heart".  This song, which also features Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy, will be on Transit's new album, Listen & Forgive, which drops on October 4th.  Definitely some good stuff here.

I'm loving all the new streaming songs this week!

Stream New Songs From New Found Glory: Part 1

New Found Glory have released a new song, "Anthem for the Unwanted", which can be heard here.  This song comes from Radiosurgery, their upcoming album that drops on October 4th.  I really, really enjoyed this song.  Definitely looking forward to hearing the whole album.

Stream New States song "Can't Explain"

I have embedded below the full stream of a new song from States, entitled "Can't Explain".  This song comes from their upcoming album, Room to Run, that drops on October 18th.  Have a listen!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Thrice - Major/Minor

Full album stream here.

Let me be up front and frank.  Major/Minor is incredible.  Thrice have managed to assimilate all of the strengths of their previous efforts in order to create an album that truly resonates.  It is the post-hardcore rock of Vheissu and experimental rock of The Alchemy Index combined with the rawness of Beggars.  I particularly felt a certain sense of "real" in this album.  Nothing is overproduced.  There are no gimmicks.  This is just a simple, but solid rock album.  Even Dustin Kensrue's voice sounds like he was just recording live, which is amazing in itself.  Really, Major/Minor, is the natural next step in the progression of Thrice.  I feel confident (99%) that this album will be my album of the year once January hits.

Major/Minor is definitely not nearly as heavy as Vheissu, which might disappoint those who were hoping they would return to that sound.  But damn, does this album groove.  Teppei Teranishi's brilliantly crafted guitar-riffs combined with Eddie Breckenridge's syncopated bass line and Riley Breckenridge's most impressive drum-work to date really drive each and every song, complimenting Kensrue's moody lyrics.  And, rest assured, the dark, bleak undertones of their previous efforts and themes of a corrupt society are still prominent in Major/Minor.

The album starts off with a solid one-two punch in the form of "Yellow Belly" and "Promises".  There's no sweeping introduction here.  "Yellow Belly" blasts off right at the get-go.  The album slowly transitions from hard-rockers to a more chill and relaxed sound as the listener progresses through each track.  The dark rocker, "Call It in the Air", will most likely become a fan favorite (it's definitely my favorite) as it is one of the catchiest songs on the album.  I found myself singing along with Kensrue as he howls "call it in the air...".  This is followed by "Treading Paper", which starts with Kensrue singing of despair over minimalistic guitars, but builds to an amazing melodic power-house.  "Words in the Water" and "Listen Through Me" definitely pull a more chill vibe, almost as if they belong with the songs that comprise The Alchemy Index: Water EP.  The album is finally brought to a sweeping close, with the dark and emotional "Disarmed".

Now click repeat, and listen again. At least, that's what I did.

Major/Minor is one of the best releases of the year.  If not, the best.  It improves on the grooves and rawness of Beggars, and is a natural fit in the progression of the band's sound.   I may even be so bold as to say that this album is the best effort by Thrice to date.  I urge everyone to check this album out!  Definitely have a listen and let me know what you think.

You can purchase Major/Minor on iTunes and Amazon.

Review: All Get Out - The Season

Full album stream here.

Tomorrow marks the debut full-length release from All Get Out.  A release long-coming since they started touring in 2007.  In this time, All Get Out have managed to produce 40 minutes of an extremely tight and enjoyable album, entitled The Season.

It is clear that The Season will inevitably be compared to Manchester Orchestra over and over again.  The similarity between the voices of vocalist (and guitarist) Nathan Hussey and Manchester Orchestra frontman, Andy Hull, is sometimes uncanny, especially on the more folk-like songs  like "Let Me Go" and "Come and Gone".  However, I didn't find these similarities distracting at all.  All Get Out manage to inject their own unique hooks and melodies to keep them from becoming a Manchester Orchestra clone.

Really, the music sweeps from folk-type music to big-time rockers like "Lucky Bastard", while other songs, like "Subject to Change", channel the poppier side of the band.  All Get Out, however, clearly put a lot of effort in the order of the tracks on The Season.  Every song seemed to flow very well into the next.  I found myself completely drawn into this album during one of the more unique songs, "Girl, Gun".  This song showcases the more aggressive side of the band as Hussey let's it all out, but then suddenly retracts to steady strings which eventually lead the listener to the title track of the album.  In "Let Me Go", we are further treated to Hussey's fabulous vocals as he bellows "Let me go..." at the end of the song.

All Get Out definitely don't hold back in this album.  And, in the end, they have given us a complete package with many memorable tracks, with endless replayability.  Check 'em out and let me know what you think!

You can buy The Season on iTunes and Amazon.

This Week's Full Album Streams

There are a few full album streams that should be checked out this week:

All Get Out - The Season (poppy version of Manchester Orchestra)
Brighter Than A Thousand Suns - Survival Machines (scream-core)
Thrice - Major/Minor (solid rock -- probably will be my album of the year)

Foo Fighters Serenade Westboro Baptist Picketers

I've always loved the Foo Fighters.  But, this just shows how great they can be.  Watch this video here or below, which shows the Foo Fighters serenading the Westboro Baptist Church members who were picketing their concert later that night.  It's always great to see the tables turned on these outrageously idiotic people.

Gotta love the Foo.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: Polar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Full album stream is here.

Interestingly, I have always liked the melodic-punk band, Polar Bear Club, but for some reason I never really listened to them much.  This, however, is about to change with their latest -- and their best album to date -- Clash Battle Guilt Pride.  This album has all the style and lyricism that I felt was missing from previous efforts.

"Pawner", one of my favorite tracks on Clash Battle Guilt Pride, starts the album off down-tempo, but slowly builds in aggression as Jimmy Stadt's gravelly voice sounds over the pop-punk melodies.  Even better is how this song perfectly leads into the next song full of gang-vocals and big hooks, "Killin' It".  This album also has some really catchy gems such as "Bottled Wind" and "Religion on the Radio", while you'll also find rock anthems such as "Screams in Caves" that one would expect from Polar Bear Club.

The guitar-work from Chris Browne and Nate Morris are great as usual, but honestly, Stadt's vocals are the best they've ever been.  Further, the lyrics felt so genuine and honest as Stadt shares the struggles in his life.  The best example of this is the dark, heart-wrenching closer (and best song on the album) "3-4 Tango".  This song is an excellent closer to a very enjoyable album.

I'm not sure why I passed over the previous albums by this Rochester, NY quintet, but Clash Battle Guilt Pride is one of the most genuine albums of the year, and a great addition to my library of great melodic-punk albums.  Definitely have a listen, and let me know what you think.

You can buy Clash Battle Guilt Pride on iTunes and Amazon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stream New Coheed and Cambria Song has a stream of a new Coheed and Cambria song called "Deranged" that will be on the soundtrack to the upcoming video game Batman: Arkham City.  Yeah, it's kind of funny that video games are now getting soundtracks.  Listen to the song below.  The quality isn't the best, but good enough.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Plethora of Full Album Streams

There are a slew of full album streams this week that you should definitely check out!

Astronautalis - This Is Our Science (indie, hip-hop)
Bush - The Sea of Memories (modern-rock, post-grunge)
The Devil Wears Prada - Dead Throne (metalcore)
Kevin Devine - Between the Concrete (indie, singer-songwriter, acoustic)
Polar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt Pride (pop-punk)
Saves the Day - Daybreak (pop-punk, pop-rock)
Thrice - Major/Minor (rock -- new track every weekday until album drops)

Review: Bush - The Sea of Memories

Stream the album here.

To state the obvious, it's been a really long time (about 10 years) since we've heard anything from Bush.  This 90s post-grunge band has undergone changes in that time, with the loss of original guitarist, Nigel Pulsford, and bassist, Dave Parsons -- leaving Gavin Rossdale and drummer Robin Goodridge as the only original members.  This change is also reflected in The Sea of Memories.  Gone are the experimental elecronica, post-grunge, alternative rock sounds.  Instead, a more modern-rock style is presented in The Sea of Memories.

The first-half of the album presents some pretty strong material.  I particularly enjoyed "The Mirror of the Signs" and "The Sound of Winter".  The former is a solid hard-rocker, which also showcases Goodridge's solid drumming.  "All Night Doctors" also presents some of the best vocal-work from Rossdale in years.  I found that my interest began to falter in the latter-half of the album.  Songs like "Red Light" seemed much more poppy and generic.  The only saving grace is Rossdale's signature voice crooning over the pop melodies.  The album did end on a high note, with the flowing and emotional "Be Still My Love".

I will say that I liked The Sea of Memories.  The album, however, lacks the staying power of previous Bush albums.  I especially miss the experimental side of the band.  Those unfamiliar with the band, however, may see this as an improvement since this album is much less polar than previous efforts.

Definitely have a listen and let me know what you think!

The Sea of Memories can be purchased on iTunes and Amazon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stream New Thrice Song Every Day

Thrice will be streaming a new song every day until the release of their new album, Major/Minor, on September 20th.  You can go here to listen.  I have also embedded the player in this post as well as in the For Your Ears section of my blog.  Keep checking back every day to hear a new song from this amazing album!

Thrice - Major/Minor (Preview) by Vagrant Records

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: The Horrible Crowes - Elsie

Listen to the full album over at

It seems that whenever someone talks about Brian Fallon (frontman of The Gaslight Anthem), one immediately thinks of Bruce Springsteen.  Admittedly, I don't listen to Springsteen that often, so I really can't make those comparisons.  But, I don't think that that deters me from thoroughly enjoying the debut album Elsie from Fallon's side project with Ian Perkins, The Horrible Crowes.

Let me preface this review by saying that it's the albums that grow on me that unexpectedly become my favorite albums of the year.  Having said that, it took me quite a few listens before I began to appreciate everything this album offers.  Now, I feel that Elsie is better than any album from The Gaslight Anthem.  The songs on Elsie are much more chill and soulful, quite a contrast from the modern rock qualities of recent The Gaslight Anthem albums, while Fallon's poetic lyrics, signature voice, and brilliant songwriting take the forefront.  This is probably where the album truly shines.  Some of the best music and lyrics come from the more winding tracks like "Cherry Blossoms" and "Blood Loss".  I really loved "Ladykiller", the lyrics and music really resonated with me.  Where this album is at its strongest, however, is during the track "Black Betty & the Moon".  This masterpiece has to be one of the best songs ever written, with Perkins' impressive guitar-work really showing.  This album, however, isn't all chill.  In songs like "Go Tell Everybody" and "Mary Ann", Fallon's vocals are more aggressive as he croons over the faster-paced melodies.

Elsie proves that Fallon has what it takes to be one of the best songwriters of our time.  With some really solid releases with The Gaslight Anthem, and now with Elsie, his "opus", he has succeeded entirely. I look forward to hearing more from him as his career progresses.

Definitely check out The Horrible Crowes' new album Elsie.  It is worth every listen.

You can purchase the album on Amazon and iTunes.  Note, that the iTunes version includes a bonus track,  "Joey".  iTunes also has "Go Tell Everybody" available for free as the Single of the Week.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Horrible Crowes - Elsie Full Album Stream

You can now listen to The Horrible Crowes' new album Elsie in its entirety over at Rolling Stone.  The Horrible Crowes is a side project of The Gaslight Anthem frontman, Brian Fallon.  The folks over at also have a really good review of this fantastic album, which can be read here.  Have a listen and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Banquets - Top Button, Bottom Shelf

Listen to the album over at Punknews.

I first heard about Banquets over at Absolute Punk a while back when they released an exclusive track from their debut album.  I was immediately impressed, and ever since that point I have been very interested in hearing the entire album.  Well, this week that wait was over.

I decided that I would listen to Top Button, Bottom Shelf while at work to develop some initial thoughts on the album.  After my first listen, I definitely felt it was catchy and fun, but I still wasn't set on my feeling toward the album.  However, before I knew it, it was the end of the day and I had been listening to the album on repeat the whole time.  At no point was I sick of it.  That's definitely a good thing.

Top Button, Bottom Shelf is packed with energy reminiscent of Rise Against's The Sufferer and the Witness combined with the edgier side of The Gaslight Anthem.  Everything about this album is catchy and anthemic, but don't expect any ballads here.  The opener, "377", playfully pulls the listener in before the onslaught of punk rock throughout the album.  Interestingly, no song really stands out among the rest.  Initially, this might make one think that the songs are relatively similar.  I can say that after a few listens (or listening for 8 hours straight, for example),  I really began to appreciate all the tight melodies and intricacies of each song.  My favorite song off the album is probably "Sometimes a Wolf".  If I owned a car, I would definitely be blasting that with the windows down all summer.

Banquets' Top Button, Bottom Shelf is a definite catchy and energetic album with all the fun one would expect from a solid punk rock album.  Definitely check it out!

You can purchase Top Button, Bottom Shelf on iTunes and Amazon.

Thrice's Major/Minor Pre-Order and Preview

You can now pre-order Thrice's upcoming album entitled Major/Minor over at iTunes here, which includes the extra exclusive acoustic tracks of "Yellow Belly" and "Promises".  Further, I have posted a 2-part album preview below.  Just from the snippets of each song, I feel a sort of resonance with the album, musically.  I have a feeling that come September 20th, I may have a new contender for my album of the year!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Playlist of the Week

You Me At Six debut "Loverboy"

Below you can listen to a new song from You Me At Six entitled "Loverboy".  This song comes from their upcoming album Sinners Never Sleep that drops on October 3rd.

New Jack's Mannequin Tunes!

You can now listen to two tracks from People and Things, the upcoming album from Jack's Mannequin that drops on October 4th.  You can listen to "Amy, I" and "My Racing Thoughts" below.  I have also posted "My Racing Thoughts" in For Your Ears.  These guys always produce fantastic pop-rock music, and these two songs are no exception.  They are already raving about this album over at Absolute Punk.  I can't wait to hear the whole thing.

"Amy, I"

My Racing Thoughts - People and Things by jacksmannequin

Take Cover Debut Full Length

If you're in need of another pop-rock band to blast on a sunny day as you drive, windows down, wherever it is you need to go, then look no further than Take Cover's debut full length, The Dreamer & the Realist, that dropped on July 12th.  This album has it all, foot-tapping rockers, heavy hooks, and full gang vocals.  I found myself really enjoying it.

You can listen to a couple songs from the album over at their Myspace page.  I've also posted a YouTube video of another song from the album, "When This Is Over" below.  The album can be purchased at iTunes and Amazon.

Listen to New Song from Four Year Strong

Below you can listen to a new song entitled "Stuck in the Middle" from Four Year Strong off of their new album, In Some Way, Shape or Form, that drops on October 11th.  All I have to say is "wow".  This song is so much better than anything on the previous album. They've definitely got me interested.

Have a listen and let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just a Couple of Cool Videos

New Thrice Tunes!

Below you can listen to (and read the lyrics) for a new Thrice song titled "Promises".  You can also watch them perform another song "Blur" over at  Both songs come from their new album, Major/Minor, that will drop on September 20th.  "Promises" is really rockin' and has some solid lyrics.   Having now heard a few songs from the album, September 20th can't come sooner.

What do y'all think?

Thrice - Promises [Lyric Video] from Vagrant Records on Vimeo.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Middle Class Rut are "Busy Bein' Born"

Below you can watch the video for Middle Class Rut's latest single "Busy Bein' Born" from their recent album, No Name No Color that was released last October.  I've noticed this duo, made up by Sean Stockham and Zach Lopez, has gained recent popularity.  "Busy Bein' Born" was featured in the Transformers 3 soundtrack (although dissappointingly it was not on the iTunes version), and the band has toured with Linkin Park as well as participated in the Vans Warped Tour.

I enjoyed this song.  My first listen, I immediately was reminded of bands like Stabbing Westward.  The video is quite dark -- a graphic portrayal of a young boy who is kidnapped and forced to fight other boys.  The video adds very interesting imagery to the lyrics of the song.  I haven't actually listened to the full album, but from what I've heard so far, these guys sound quite good.

Watch the video and let me know what you think!

Middle Class Rut - "Busy Bein' Born" (Unrated Cut)

You can buy No Name No Color on iTunes and Amazon.

Psychic Babble Full Album Stream

You can now listen to My Brother's Ears/My Sister's Eyes, the fantastic new album from Psychic Babble (Colin Frangicetto of Circa Survive) that drops tomorrow over at  Have a listen and let me know what you think of it!

The album will be available for purchase from iTunes and tomorrow.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Download "New Fast Automatic" From Anberlin

You can download a b-side from one of Anberlin's early albums, Never Take Friendship Personal, called "New Fast Automatic" for free here.  The story behind it can be read over at Absolute Punk.  I love everything these guys pump out.

Hear Sainthood Reps - Monoculture

Sainthood Reps are prepared to release their debut full length album, Monoculture, via Tooth & Nail Records on August 9th.  You can now listen to the full album here.  This album will be particularly enjoyable for anyone who is a fan of bands like Brand New and Balance & Composure, and is a definite throw-back to early grunge rock.  After a few more listens, I will most likely have a full review posted.  Until then, have a listen and enjoy.

Banquets have "The Best Night of the Night"

Check out a new track, "The Best Night of the Night", from the Jersey City rockers, Banquets, streaming over at Alter The Press.  Great song.  Now that we've heard four songs from these guys, I'm really excited for their new album that drops on August 22nd.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Listen to Sins

Photo by Joshua Haller

Joey Milligan of Anberlin has started a new side project, Sins. You can listen to two new songs, "Keep Quiet" and "Here & Gone", on his facebook page.  The soon-to-be-released album was written, performed, produced, engineered, and mixed by Joey.

Listen to Every Avenue - Bad Habits

For some more pop punk awesomeness, you can listen to Every Avenue's new album, Bad Habits, in it's entirety over at AOL "Full CD Listening Party".  I wasn't a big fan of their earlier work, but this album is a huge step up.  Yes, the typical lyrics about heartache and cheesy love are still here, but the music is great and very solid.  Definitely check it out.  I'm definitely loving all the great pop punk music that's being released.  My ears are happy!

You can also buy Bad Habits on iTunes and

New Found Glory Release "Radiosurgery"

New Found Glory have released the first single "Radiosurgery" from their upcoming album with the same title that will come out on October 4th.  You can download it on iTunes and  You can also listen to a full stream below.  This band never disappoints.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Download 4 Song EP From Psychic Babble

You can download a FREE EP from Psychic Babble (Colin Frangicetto from Circa Survive), entitled My Own Stupid Mouth .  It includes the three songs previously released as well as a B-side, called "A Ride To The Country".  This is good to wet your appetite for My Brother's Ears/My Sister's Eyes that drops on August 16th.

Review: This Love - At War

Hear the full album here.

To start, At War is a solid debut pop-rock album from This Love.  Really, it's hard to believe this a debut full-length album.  It feels more like something from seasoned veterans.  Everything in this album, from the production to the political speeches, seems very well thought out and put together.

What really makes this album so much more, however, is the genuine optimism that emerges as Joe McFadden sings about the struggles of everyday life.  Being an optimistic person, myself, this album really resonated with me.  The core concept of At War is further structured around several carefully placed speeches from presidents, past and present, throughout the album.

The album starts with John F. Kennedy's American University Speech on June 10, 1963 in which he reflects on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, and leads into "Free", the first actual song on the album.  The uplifting lyrics about achieving independence and excellent instrumentation make "Free" a solid opener.  In "Shoot Out", McFadden lays out the persistent struggle that we endure throughout our lives, while "We Are the Brave" is a call to help and protect each other.

Another speech from JFK leads into "Motions", the best song on the album.  The chording in this song is fantastic, while the guitar solo at the song's midpoint sent chills down my spine.  And, the lyrics and vocal delivery really hit home.  "The Thief" is another hard-hitter that shines as it pounds solid rock music into the listener's ears.

This Love slow things down a bit with "Fly Away" and "Alive", letting McFadden's vocals shine.  The last track, "We All Know Well" is the home-run on the album.  It starts with President Obama's address to the nation after the death of bin Laden accompanied by the soft strum of a guitar.  McFaddin's vocals eventually emerge over Obama's words ending the album with a message of hope that the war is finally over.

This Love have put together a fantastic album.  Definitely go check this one out, but make sure to listen to it in it's entirety since it should be heard as a complete package.

You can buy At War on iTunes and on August 2nd.

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