Archive for September, 2013

“Saves The Day” – Saves The Day

Posted in Album Reviews on September 26, 2013 by occupyairwaves

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I had the immense pleasure of seeing Saves The Day play a free show at TCNJ this past summer (I would have seen them play at Pouzzafest in Montreal too, but certain other “expenses” depleted my funds…). During the TCNJ show, frontman Chris Conley announced that the band had been hard at work in the studio recording their new album, which would be out sometime in late 2013. They then played a new track, “Ring Pop,” arguably the best song off the new album.

Imagine my surprise when out of the blue earlier in the week, my co-host Matt told me the album dropped three days ago. Clearly, I had not been following Saves The Day closely enough on the interwebs. Needless to say, I immediately hopped onto Spotify and listened to the new material. Since this particular band is one of my favorite current pop punk/indie rock acts, I knew my first impression would be biased, so I waited until my third listen-through to really let the album sink in.

It has become a standard that any band’s self-titled release needs to stand out among their other albums because, come on. It’s your band’s name right there on the record. Which is why it seems a little odd that Saves The Day decided to wait until their eighth studio album to release Saves The Day. Though as a whole, this record doesn’t quite match up with the band’s bigger albums like Daybreak and Stay What You Are, there are plenty of stand-out tracks and catchy hooks that put Saves The Day well above the bar of mediocrity. In addition, the band mixes multiple genres into the tracklist, which is definitely a first.

The standout tracks are definitely the ones that sound the most like classic Saves The Day. “In The In Between” and “Ring Pop” are my personal favorites, and it’s not hard to see why. The catchy choruses get stuck in your head the instant you hear them. Conley has finally perfected his “new” voice (circa In Reverie), and the subtle backing vocals and harmonies throughout the album very naturally complement Conley’s higher range.

As early as the opening riff on the album opener, “Remember,” it’s obvious this isn’t just another incredibly dark Saves The Day album, lyrically speaking. Practically every song has the word “love” in it, and some songs, like “Beyond All Of Time,” even venture into lame love ballad territory. On the bright side, it’s nice to not have to listen to songs about near-death experiences all the time. “Stand In The Stars” ends the album on an especially cheerful note. The tone of Conley and lead guitarist Arun Bali’s guitars remind me of the great indie group, Best Coast.

“Xenophobic Blind Left Hook” starts off with a spacey, Explosions In The Sky-esque opening. It demonstrates one of the many new directions the band’s sound is heading in, primarily due to the group’s ever-changing lineup. The lyrics also show that Conley’s lyrical style hasn’t changed a bit and is as clever as it’s ever been. Immediately following is “The Tide Of Our Times,” a two-and-a-half-minute epic-sounding jammer about the negative effects of large corporations and consumer media. Yet another new sound for the band.

All in all, Saves The Day’s self-titled album has a little bit of everything – some happy indie here, a little epic power rock there, and of course, that classic Saves The Day pop punk sound on a few tracks. This year hasn’t been too great for music when compared to other recent years, but Saves The Day is a 2013 album you won’t want to miss.

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: In The In Between, Ain’t No Kind Of Love, Xenophobic Blind Left Hook, Ring Pop

(P.S. For interested parties, Saves The Day is also headlining a show this Saturday night at the Starland Ballroom!)

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Top Ten Bands To Keep An Eye On

Posted in Everything Else on September 18, 2013 by occupyairwaves

2013 has certainly been an interesting year for music. We have picked out our top ten bands and artists that either have new material being released in the coming months, a sudden and overwhelmingly large fan base, or both. Be sure to keep an eye on these guys now, because we’re sure you’ll be hearing about them in the future.

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10. Balance And Composure

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Eastern Pennsylvania has bestowed upon us a plethora of wonderful acts in the past couple years, and Doylestown natives Balance And Composure are the cream of the crop. 2011 saw the release of their first LP, Separation, on No Sleep Records. A very fitting label, considering the album was full of songs about torment and angst. The album was one of the best of the year and fulfilled the promise shown within their EPs; however, they are far more than just a studio band. I have had the pleasure of seeing them several times at different venues, and I can say that they are a tremendous live band. Their shows contain so much energy that you can feel the earth quake beneath you (pun intended). With a new album recently released, and after getting off a tour with Circa Survive and playing New Jersey’s Skate And Surf Festival, I would definitely keep my eyes on this band, and more importantly, my ears.

     -Matthew Koerner

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9. Alabama Shakes

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No arguments can be made that Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard doesn’t have the most unique voice in blues rock – or in rock music in general. After the release of their debut album, Boys & Girls, the Alabama Shakes have exploded into both the mainstream rock universe as well as the college radio circuit. The album earned the band three nominations at the 2013 Grammy Awards, and they also had a stellar performance on Saturday Night Live. Though there have been plenty of blues-rock bands and musicians as of late (primarily Jack White and The Black Keys), the Shakes definitely stand out, mostly due to Howard’s passionate vocals. She earned the nickname “Mouth from the South” for a reason. The Alabama Shakes have been up to a lot lately. They recently put out a live seven-inch under Jack White’s label, Third Man Records, while Howard also put out a solo seven-inch alongside White’s backup singer, Ruby Amanfu. Boys & Girls has been out for well over a year now, so it will be very exciting to hear new material from this (adjective) band.

-Joe MacPhee

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8. Allison Weiss

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Allison Weiss has recently been playing some pretty high profile gigs, including high energy solo shows opening up for Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace. Fresh on the heels of her new album, Say What You Mean, she is about to go on tour with The Front Bottoms in the UK. She has a very earnest voice full of emotion and great lyrics to match. I would definitely recommend being sure to catch Allison in concert for a reasonable price while you can, because she is certainly going places.

     -MK

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7. Motion City Soundtrack

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Any time there is a member change in a band, you can expect a lot of new music to be released within a short span of time. After the previous drummer of Motion City Soundtrack, Tony Thaxton, sadly left the band to pursue other interests, the group quickly called in Claudio Rivera, ex-drummer of Saves The Day. Prior to this recent change-up, Motion City put out their latest full-length, Go, in June of 2012. They then put out a seven-inch of two new songs as part of the band’s Making Moves project, as well as a unique cover of the song, “Wait So Long,” originally from Trampled By Turtles. You would think the creative juices would have stopped flowing after so much new music, but Motion City went above and beyond by debuting an even newer song with new drummer Claudio at this year’s Warped Tour. The song is called “Inside Out,” and a good buddy of ours was able to film the whole song, which can be found here: (Inside Out). With a new drummer and new songs already being performed, there’s a good chance we can expect a fresh album from MCS in the near future.

-JM

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6. Dead Sara

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We were fortunate enough to catch Muse on their most recent tour at the New Jersey stop. On the car ride to the Meadowlands, we were discussing Biffy Clyro, the opening act, and the only song of theirs we knew. We were also anticipating a bombastic light show from Muse complete with all the bells and whistles. Imagine our surprise when we arrived and saw only a drumset and a paltry set of amps that would look more at home in a high school auditorium. We were confused to say the least. Then Dead Sara took the stage, and by the end of their one-two song combo, they had the entire arena in the palm of their hand. They announced that they were filling in for Biffy Clyro that night, and by that point, Joe and I were completely alright with that. Mixing the heaviness of early Black Sabbath with the vocal stylings of Kurt Cobain (only female-fronted), and a presence that utilized the entire stage, Dead Sara blew us away. It’s a rare kind of feeling when you catch a band live, and they just own you by the end of their set, especially when you had never even heard of them before. Be sure to check out their debut self-titled album.

-MK

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5. River City Extension

5 RCEAfter only two studio albums and an EP, Toms River natives River City Extension have quickly become one of the best, and certainly most talented, local bands around. It could be argued that RCE is just another one of those folk bands that spawned from the folk rock craze brought about from bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. In reality, RCE and Mumford & Sons started out right around the same time, and River City brings way more to the genre than any other band in the folk scene. River City frontman Joe Michelini leads an all-star cast of musicians with an intense stage presence rarely seen from folk bands. The band demonstrated this performance at the first ever Jersey Shore Music Festival this summer, where Joe announced the band would be releasing their third album, titled Deliverance, next year. If their first two albums are any indication of what’s to come, River City Extension’s hard work in the studio this year could easily result in one of the best albums of 2014.

     -JM

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4. The Front Bottoms

4 Front Bottoms

Yet another impressive local band would be none other than the Front Bottoms. They hail from Bergen County, NJ, and after the release of their second full-length album, Talon of the Hawk, on Bar-None Records, the Front Bottoms have developed a pretty serious Jersey-based following. For just two suburban white kids with an acoustic guitar and a drumkit, it’s pretty astounding how far the band has gotten over only a few years playing shows. The Front Bottoms toured heavily after the release of their debut album, with only one additional musician playing both bass and synth. However, while recording their new album, the duo of Brian Sella (acoustic guitar) and Mathew Uychich (drums) replaced this additional musician with a new electric guitarist and bassist, altering the band’s sound severely. Luckily, this alteration only expanded the group’s sound, allowing for an incredible sophomoric release. The Front Bottoms’ fan base seems to grow exponentially with each gig, so try and get to an intimate show now while you still can before the Front Bottoms suddenly (and expectedly) blow up.

     -JM

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3. The Gaslight Anthem

3 The Gaslight Anthem

At the dawn of last summer, the Gaslight Anthem held a music video shoot for their soon-to-be-released single, “45.” They announced that anybody who showed up to the Stone Pony could be in it. Here was the catch: we didn’t know the song, nor was this opportunity a secret by any means. The Gaslight Anthem had just signed to Mercury Records, and after having put out three critically acclaimed albums, they had developed a sizable fan base. We stood for eight hours in a line that wrapped around the building and were some of the lucky ones who managed to be in the clip for what became the song of the year. Seldom do bands maintain a passion for what they’re doing by a fourth record. The Gaslight Anthem defies this by gaining momentum with each release. Their latest offering, Handwritten, was another rockin’ album filled with some of the band’s strongest songs. This band will surely conquer the world, and we suggest you catch on now.

     -MK

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2. The Black Keys

2 Black Keys

Brothers, released in 2010, was the Black Keys’ commercial breakthrough. It earned the band three Grammy awards and two certified gold singles, and the album itself went platinum in the US in April of 2012. El Camino, released in December of 2011, followed up nicely with a win for Best Rock Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards. It peaked at number two on the Billboard 200, the highest charting position the group has achieved in the US thus far. With two astoundingly successful records released just over a year and a half apart, hopes are very, very high for the Black Keys to release their killer eighth studio album to create the perfect blues rock trifecta. Too often have the Keys received flak for ripping off the White Stripes ‘ two-piece blues rock setup. Little do these critics know that they are insulting one of the biggest – if not, THE biggest – rock n’ roll bands in music today. With expectations absurdly high, the pressure’s on for the Black Keys to whip up what could be their definitive rock album. But you know what they say: third time’s a charm. And with Brothers and El Camino as wildly successful as they are, there is no doubt the Keys will deliver.

     -JM

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1. Against Me!

1 Against Me!

Against Me! is a band that is dear to me for many reasons. The songs resonate with me on all topics and levels with songs that probe my political thoughts along with love songs from different perspectives and an amalgamation of the two. The singer’s voice and lyrics carry a plethora of memories to the forefront of my mind when I spin them. From high school basement parties to early adulthood, their songs have been a soundtrack. I recently took a train ride to Manhattan to watch the band’s frontwoman, Laura Jane Grace, play an extremely personal set consisting of rarities, classics, and at least seven new songs that were all amazing. So having heard the new material from this band, coupled with the fact that NOFX’s Fat Mike played the bass on the new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, I can state that this is not going to be a record to miss.

     -MK

Setlist (Saturday, September 14th)

Posted in Setlists on September 15, 2013 by occupyairwaves

Alkaline Trio – “Help Me” – Agony & Irony

Caribou – “Sun” – Swim

Muse – “Starlight” – Black Holes & Revelations

Tiny Teeth – “Adventures” – Blood In The Soup Demotape

Emperors – “Be Ready When I Say Go” – Stay Frosty

Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

Wood Shampoo – “Top Of The World” – Crack, Crack Heart Attack

Cheap Trick – “On Top Of The World” – Heaven Tonight

The Front Bottoms – “Tattooed Tears” – Talon Of The Hawk

Clams Casino – “I’m God” – Instrumental Mixtape 2

Superchunk – “Overflows” – I Hate Music

The Stranglers – “Lowlands” – Giants

Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell” – Rebel Yell

Setlist (Saturday, August 31st)

Posted in Setlists on September 1, 2013 by occupyairwaves

Dead Sara – “Weatherman” – Dead Sara

Emperors – “Be Ready When I Say Go” – Stay Frosty

The Front Bottoms – “The Feud” – Talon Of The Hawk

Daft Punk – “Da Funk” – Homework

Portugal. The Man – “Modern Jesus” – Evil Friends

Minus The Bear – “Double Vision Quest” – Planet Of Ice

Matt & Kim – “Block After Block” – Sidewalks

Camera Obscura – “Do It Again” – Desire Lines

Feudalism – “Babylon University Of Agriculture And Mining” – Form/Function

Lemuria – “Brilliant Dancer” – The Distance Is So Big

Superchunk – “FOH” – I Hate Music

Modest Mouse – “Interstate 8” – Building Nothing Out Of Something

Brand New – “(Fork And Knife)” – (Fork And Knife) – Single