Archive for the Everything Else Category

Setlist (Thursday, August 27th)

Posted in Everything Else on August 28, 2015 by occupyairwaves

* Special girl-group / female-fronted edition! *

Metric – “The Shade” – Pagans In Vegas (Out September 18th!)

Florence And The Machine – “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” – Lungs

Angel Olsen – “Hi-Five” – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Johanna Warren – “Black Moss” – Nūmūn

Eisley – “Marvelous Things” – Room Noises

Sea Of Bees – “Test Yourself” – Build A Boat To The Sun

Best Coast – “The Only Place” – The Only Place

Jeen – “No Fade” – Tourist

Courtney Barnett – “Depreston” – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

La Luz – “Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere” – Weirdo Shrine

Tacocat – “Bridge To Hawaii” – NVM

Flo Morrissey – “Pages Of Gold” – Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful

Julee Cruise – “Falling” – Floating Into The Night

Paramore – “Last Hope” – Paramore

Sleater-Kinney – “Jumpers” – The Woods

Waxahatchee – “Lips And Limbs” – Cerulean Salt

Melanie Martinez – “Soap” – Cry Baby

Boosegumps – “Art Of Losing” – 🙂

She And Him – “In The Sun” – Volume 2

The Mynabirds – “Believer” – Lovers Know

Kate Nash – “Merry Happy” – Made Of Bricks

Seapony – “Saw The Light” – A Vision

Speedy Ortiz – “Raising The Skate” – Foil Deer

Shelly Segal – “Strange Feeling” – Strange Feeling

Meg Mac – “Roll Up Your Sleeves” – Meg Mac

No Doubt – “Don’t Speak” – Tragic Kingdom

Hemming – “Some Of My Friends” – Hemming

Merriment – “Backwards” – Sway

Tegan And Sara – “You Wouldn’t Like Me” – So Jealous

Françoise Hardy – “Le Temps de l’Amour” – Moonrise Kingdom (Official Soundtrack)

The Hush Sound – “Wine Red” – Like Vines

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The 2015 Halftime Report

Posted in Everything Else on July 10, 2015 by occupyairwaves

Once again, we have reached the halfway point of another year. And once again, we have been exposed to several albums, released over the span of these past six months, which have continued to shape our ever-expanding musical interests. Personally, I have seen the continuing stagnation of pop music, with some valiant efforts that unfortunately fell short. On the other hand, hard rock and straight riffage have made a comeback in ’15, much to my excitement. Hopefully, there will be plenty more to follow in the remaining six months of this year. Without further ado, I present a list of the five albums I have most enjoyed so far (in no particular order), followed by a list of five albums I am most looking forward to, in order of release date. Enjoy!

-Joe MacPhee

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5 Favorite Releases of 2015 Thus Far:

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1) Drones – Muse

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Drones is indeed a return to form for Muse, eliciting much of the trio’s progressive/hard rock sound from 2003’s Absolution. It is a bittersweet symphony because on one hand, this is undoubtedly the band’s best sound. Badass riffs and shredding solos abound through twelve tracks of chaos. However, the brilliance of this album points to the fact that Muse’s previous album – 2012’s The 2nd Law – was a bit underwhelming. The band took several risks exploring dubstep and symphonic arrangements on this album, but it is the simple combination of guitar, bass, and drums on Drones that really elicits the musical genius of frontman/songwriter Matt Bellamy. Writing an entire concept album about drones and America’s military industrial complex was also a very relevant and impressive (albeit frightening) strategy.

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2) What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World –

The Decemberists

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Portland-based folk rockers The Decemberists decided for a change of pace in 2015 and opted for a terrific pop rock album. What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World is a bit of a traditional Decemberists release in that frontman Colin Meloy’s acoustic guitar is the central focus on many tracks, and that the vocal melodies and musical hooks are as catchy as ever. On top of this, however, is a clear focus on more pop elements, like a stronger emphasis on electric instruments and a brass section, and more melodies reminiscent of Sixties pop songs. The Decemberists took a bit of a gamble on upgrading their sound, and it definitely paid off. Of particular excellence on What A Terrible World is the record’s first single, “Make You Better.” The song is fantastic, and its music video features a hilarious guest appearance from Nick Offerman.

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3) Rose Mountain – Screaming Females

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The Screaming Females are New Brunswick locals who have been part of the Jersey scene since the mid-2000’s. Rose Mountain was the first album of theirs that I really gave a chance, especially since I had heard it was the album on which they debuted their new pop rock sound. “Wishing Well” and “Hopeless” are prime examples of this new, infectious transition. Meanwhile, “Ripe” and “Triumph,” among others, are hard rockers dripping with fuzz and gnarly hooks. Rose Mountain reaffirms the fact that frontwoman/guitarist Marissa Paternoster has been named one of the greatest guitarists of all time by Spin magazine. All in all a very solid release by some great Jersey locals.

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4) Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett

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Typically in my lists, I like to include at least one artist or band I have never listened to before. This year, that honor goes to Courtney Barnett, an Aussie who has mastered the art of the slacker indie rock jam. She hit the scene in 2014 with the slow burner “Avant Gardener,” and then followed that single up with Sometimes I Sit And Think, a super-charged, better produced version of the same themes. Barnett is a pro at taking sets of aimless yet relatable, nearly stream-of-consciousness-type lyrics and packing them alongside subtle guitar work and steady rock beats, resulting in a very solid record. Fun Fact: She also produces all her own album artwork, as the cover art above demonstrates.

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5) Beneath The Skin – Of Monsters And Men

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Of Monsters And Men just barely made the mid-year cut with the June release of their follow-up to the wildly successful debut My Head Is An Animal and the even more popular single, “Little Talks.” This means I haven’t been able to dedicate as much listening time to Beneath The Skin as I have to the other albums on this list. Thankfully, that extra time wasn’t necessary since the Icelandic rockers’ sophomore album impressed me on my first listen. While it may initially sound like more of the same from Of Monsters And Men’s first record, Beneath The Skin is arguably more ambitious and experimental. “Empire” and “I Of The Storm” are two excellent examples of the band’s new direction. “Crystals” is the obvious first single, cashing in on the enormous success of My Head Is An Animal.

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5 Most Anticipated Releases for the Remainder of 2015:

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1) Party Adjacent – Dan Andriano In The Emergency Room

(Out July 17th)

yo

Alkaline Trio have always been consistent with their studio albums. They are definitely one of my top five favorite punk-flavored bands, finding the perfect balance between punk fury and pop rock melody. With how much I listen to the Trio, it is surprising I have never given either guitarist Matt Skiba’s side project (Matt Skiba And The Sekrets) or bassist Dan Andriano’s own band (Dan Andriano In The Emergency Room) a chance. Andriano’s second studio album, Party Adjacent, promises to be something special, according to the two singles that have been put out thus far. “Enemies” sounds like a modern take on Men At Work, and “Lost” would probably fit well on Alkaline Trio’s latest studio effort, My Shame Is True.

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2) Positive Songs For Negative People – Frank Turner

(Out August 7th)

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Frank Turner has been consistently putting out at least one album each year since 2011. In ’13, Frank released his previous studio album, Tape Deck Heart, which easily made my Top Ten Albums list that year. ’14 saw the release of The Third Three Years, the third in a series of compilation albums of B-sides, covers, and alternative/live versions of previously recorded songs. This year, Frank plans to put out Positive Songs For Negative People, which sounds right in line with the sound he has developed over these past several releases. The record’s single, “The Next Storm,” has the same positive attitude as Tape Deck Heart‘s first single, “Recovery.” The music video also features a great cameo from WWE wrestler CM Punk. Positive Songs is easily my most anticipated album for the remainder of 2015.

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3) No Closer To Heaven – The Wonder Years

(Out September 4th)

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Just a few months ago, the only Wonder Years album I had listened to from start to finish was 2013’s The Greatest Generation. My opinion of the band at first was that they were the generic brand of sad pop punk. However, after seeing them live, opening for Paramore at TCNJ this past spring, I really got into their onstage energy. I can now hear the same power course through the Pennsylvanian rockers’ discography. Typically, I try to avoid any new generic pop punk records in the style of New Found Glory or Man Overboard, but The Wonder Years’ upcoming album, No Closer To Heaven, will hopefully reshape this way of thinking. The album’s first single, “Cardinals,” has a very indie intro, which shows a glimmer of hope that this may be the first Wonder Years album to crack my end-of-year top ten list, so long as this same alternative musical style flows through the entirety of No Closer To Heaven.

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4) So There – Ben Folds

(Out September 11th)

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Ben Folds has always been known for his crazy collaborations, whether with English novelist Nick Hornby on 2010’s Lonely Avenue or with William Shatner, producing the Canadian actor’s 2004 cover of Pulp’s “Common People.” 2015 will be no exception as Mr. Folds teams up with the New York City instrumental outfit yMusic for So There: Eight songs’ worth of pop melodies combined with piano, cello, viola, violin, flute, piccolo, trumpet, French horn, and a noticeably minimal use of bass and drums. “Capable Of Anything” showcases this unusual, yet very successful mix of mainstream instrumentation. Folds himself has recently stated that So There is his favorite album he’s ever written, so I am preparing for a very visceral, enjoyable experience.

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5) Pagans In Vegas – Metric

(Out September 14th)

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I have been following Metric since the release of 2009’s Fantasies, and I have watched them go from primarily indie rock with a tint of electronic composition to relying more heavily on the synth and samples on 2012’s Synthetica. The Canadian outfit recently put out a cassette-only EP titled The Shade, after the lead single from their upcoming album, Pagans In Vegas. The four songs on this EP (three of which are featured on the track list of Pagans In Vegas) reveal how Metric have finally embraced a full electronica sound. While the beats and synth leads are quite an earful at first, eventually you start picking out the hooks and melodies buried in tracks like the aforementioned “The Shade” and the throbbing “Cascades.” Mid-September is a long time to wait for such an anticipated album, but Metric’s EP definitely helps tide listeners over, especially those who actually have a cassette player.

Joe’s Top Ten Releases of 2014

Posted in Everything Else on December 24, 2014 by occupyairwaves

10) The Dream Walker – Angels & Airwaves

TheDreamWalker

Every year, there’s always a battle for who can sneak their way onto the very end of my top 10 list. This year, Angels & Airwaves were able to beat out both the Foo Fighters and Gerard Way; the latter of the two had his album sitting on my list for a good portion of the year. Nevertheless, A&A frontman Tom DeLonge surprised me with The Dream Walker, an album with the same electronic/synth undertones as on the band’s previous albums, but with lyrics that discuss down-to-earth subjects other than space and extraterrestrials for a change. “The Disease” and “Anomaly” are two big emotional standouts about love and loss. Overall, it’s a great alt rock album all the way through, especially for a band that has really only survived on a few big hits.

Favorite Song: “Bullets In The Wind”

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9) Get Hurt – The Gaslight Anthem

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Get Hurt is a triumph because it demonstrates that New Brunswick locals the Gaslight Anthem haven’t let their recent shoot to stardom change their songwriting. Their newest release almost feels like a continuation of their previous album, Handwritten, with a bit more experimental freedom. “Stay Vicious” is the dirtiest the band has ever sounded, while “Break Your Heart” could be the most peaceful thing frontman Brian Fallon has written since “Blue Jeans And White T-Shirts.” The best tracks, however, are the ones that sound like classic Gaslight. “1,000 Years” and “Rollin’ And Tumblin'” are some key examples of this. Get Hurt shows how a band can experiment with an old sound just enough to keep it fresh without sounding like a completely different band. Solid effort.

Favorite Song: “1,000 Years”

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8) Turn Blue – The Black Keys

8 (DONE)

It doesn’t take long to discover all of the pain and anguish guitarist Dan Auerbach has gone through that he has channeled into the Black Keys’ new album, Turn Blue. Auerbach’s recent divorce is evident on tracks like “Weight Of Love” and “In Our Prime,” even in the track titles themselves. The duo’s foray into psychedelic rock, when mixed with this new, dark lyrical content, gives Turn Blue a very haunting feel, even though many of the tracks are incredibly catchy and single-worthy, just like on the band’s last album, El Camino. The majority of the record has this vibe, but the big standout is the album closer, “Gotta Get Away,” which ends things with a powerful vintage classic rock flourish. If you can look past the obvious Pink Floyd rip-off within the first few minutes of Turn Blue, you’ll discover a very well-crafted album from a band that can’t seem to stop churning out hits.

Favorite Song: “Gotta Get Away”

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7) Die On Stage – Hostage Calm

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Hostage Calm is one of those bands that has been balancing right at the edge of punk rock territory that I can’t seem to get into. This year, I decided to finally give them the shot that they deserve (which is very unfortunate considering they announced their breakup just a few months ago). Die On Stage is essentially a mash-up of east coast rock groups, both old and new. You can hear Bruce Springsteen in the twinkling intro of “Love Against!,” Ramones in the speed punk chorus of “Fallen Angel,” and Balance And Composure in the slow, brooding track, “Raised.” The list goes on, but frontman Chris Martin (not the Coldplay one) ties up all the loose ends with his distinctive vocals. Despite Hostage Calm’s slow demise – they still have some farewell shows lined up – Die On Stage is a very solid, very catchy punk rock record.

Favorite Song: “Love Against!”

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6) Hebrews – Say Anything

6 (DONE)

When Say Anything frontman Max Bemis mentioned his new album wouldn’t have a single guitar track on it, I was right there with the rest of the fans, thinking that this record couldn’t possibly be any good. Then, when the album’s first single, “Six Six Six,” was released, I began to realize Max’s ambitious little project might not actually crash and burn. With the release of Hebrews, Say Anything has demonstrated that you can still have catchy and powerful songs, even without something as crucial as a guitar track. In standard fashion, Bemis has again recruited an army of guest vocalist for Hebrews, including Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull, Blink-182/Angels & Airwaves’ Tom DeLonge, and Saves The Day’s Chris Conley. But as always, it’s Max’s devilishly clever and relatable lyrics that really take the cake. Whether he’s singing about being a father, being persecuted for religious beliefs, or being tormented by bloodthirsty fans, Mr. Bemis makes Hebrews a wildly entertaining ride from start to finish.

Favorite Song: “Nibble Nibble”

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5) Dirty Rice – Mad Caddies

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Last summer, I attended the Canadian punk rock festival known as Pouzzafest for the second time. While there, I was able to catch a magnificent set by the Mad Caddies, an awesome ska punk group from California. Dirty Rice is the band’s first full-length album in seven years, but they haven’t lost their touch, even in all that time. A lot of the tracks on the record have reggae undertones (“Little Town,” “Shot In The Dark,” etc.), but you wouldn’t know that listening to only one or two songs, like the New Orleans swing of “Brand New Scar,” or the ’80s throwback sound of “Back To The Bed.” Dirty Rice is one of those albums that must be listened to in its entirety in order to fully appreciate the body of work as a whole. I’m very glad I caught the Mad Caddies’ set that night in Montreal. Both the set and Dirty Rice have solidified the Caddies as my favorite ska band, hands down.

Favorite Song: “Brand New Scar”

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4) Cope – Manchester Orchestra

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This year, the award for most boring album cover art is a tie between this album and Gaslight’s Get Hurt. Despite its simplistic cover art, Cope is definitely a return to form for Atlanta, GA rockers Manchester Orchestra. They disappointed most of their fans with the experimental indie rock of their last album, Simple Math, but they came back guns blazing with Cope. The beginning and end of the record are completely doused in over-the-top distortion, while the core tracks in the middle are filled with a combination of this crunch and catchy hooks and harmonies. Cope has eleven tracks, coming in at a grand total of roughly 38 minutes – shorter than any other Manchester Orchestra album – but it packs just as much of a punch. Definitely a must-listen for any fan of raw, uncompromising rock.

Favorite Song: “Every Stone”

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3) Lazaretto – Jack White

3 (DONE)

Jack White is at it again. Lazaretto has many of the same features as White’s solo debut, Blunderbuss, but with a few added bonuses. For example, the singer/guitarist makes his influences more evident this time around, like his love for folk and country on tracks like “Temporary Ground” and “Want And Able.” He also writes catchier, straighter rock tunes in some respects (“Just One Drink”), while staying just as weird as always on the other hand (“That Black Bat Licorice”). And while the music on Lazaretto is excellent, the physical record itself is a treasure to behold. Just be sure to check out the instructional video if you plan on buying Lazaretto on vinyl. Jack White is one of those musicians who always keeps his fans on their toes, and his latest record is no exception.

Favorite Song: “That Black Bat Licorice”

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2) Rose [EP] – The Front Bottoms

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Technically, the Front Bottoms’ new EP, Rose, doesn’t belong on this list since it’s not a full-length album and since it’s a collection of songs that the band has already recorded. However, this EP is simply too good to pass up, and it is the sole reason this list is a list of “releases” instead of “albums.” Rose takes several of the Front Bottoms’ hits from the days when guitarist Brian Sella and drummer Mathew Uychich would record the songs themselves, and it gives these old songs a much more updated, better quality sound, similar to the Front Bottoms’ latest LP, Talon Of The Hawk. “Twelve Feet Deep” and “Flying Model Rockets” remain two of the best songs the Front Bottoms have ever written, and even their less well-known songs (a.k.a. the other tracks on this EP) are undeniably catchy. Rose was a huge success for yet another Jersey band whose popularity has recently skyrocketed. And if Rose is indeed the first in a series of “grandmother EPs” as online sources claim, then I can’t wait to hear what other deep cuts the Front Bottoms plan to unearth in the coming months.

Favorite Song: “Twelve Feet Deep”

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1) Rented World – The Menzingers

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Although the Menzingers are not Jersey locals, they are joining the Front Bottoms and the Gaslight Anthem in the group of punk rock bands on this list who are finally getting the recognition they deserve. The Menzingers were able to get a head start on their critical acclaim when they released On The Impossible Past back in 2012, which earned them “Album of the Year” for both absolutepunk.net and punknews.org. Now in 2014, Rented World solidifies the Menzingers as the best punk band of the 2010s. Guitarists Greg Barnett and Tom May both continue to write the same type of infectious, raucous hits that made the band successful in the first place, even though Greg’s songs were the ones that caught on with fans more. “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” and “In Remission” both showcase the band’s unwillingness to change a formula that has been proven to work for so many years. Seeing every single fan at a Menzingers show singing along to every single word of every single song demonstrates both Tom and Greg’s talent as songwriters. Rented World wins best release of 2014 by a long shot.

Favorite Song: “Where Your Heartache Exists”

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Well, that’s all folks! Occupy The Airwaves is taking a well-deserved break this holiday season, but be sure to catch our show when we make our triumphant return in early 2015! Happy Holidays!

          -Joe

The 2014 Halftime Report

Posted in Everything Else on July 1, 2014 by occupyairwaves

Seeing as how we have passed the halfway mark of 2014, I thought now would be as good a time as any to take a step back and analyze the state of the year’s music, both how it has been thus far and how things might turn out in the second half. What follows is a list containing my five favorite releases of the first half of 2014 and another list containing the five albums/EPs due out sometime in the second half of the year that I am most looking forward to. Enjoy!

-Joe MacPhee

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5 Favorite Releases of 2014 Thus Far:

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1) Rose EP – The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms constitute about 80% of the reason why I had to change my list to top “releases” rather than the usual top “albums” (for the other 20%, look towards the end of this post). Rose is a collection of six old Front Bottoms tracks re-recorded in honor of drummer Mathew Uychich’s grandmother. These songs all have that very simple, yet deeply personal songwriting style of the Front Bottoms’ early years, but with an updated quality that matches the band’s hugely successful 2013 album, Talon Of The HawkRose‘s purpose is twofold: pleasing longtime fans who knew these tracks when they were first recorded in basements, while also pleasing newer fans of the band who would have never guessed these songs were actually written six or seven years ago. By appealing to two very large groups which compose an enormous Front Bottoms fanbase, Rose has found its way to the top of my list of favorite releases thus far.

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2) Dirty Rice – Mad Caddies

If you had asked me about a month and a half ago who the Mad Caddies were, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. After seeing them at Pouzzafest in Montreal this summer, I can now tell you that they are currently one of the greatest ska bands around, and certainly my favorite. It’s a bold statement, I know, but giving Dirty Rice (the band’s first full-length album in over seven years) a listen through helps support my argument. The record – as well as the entire Mad Caddies discography – blends together a whole wave of influences ranging from punk rock and reggae to hardcore, swing, and even jazz. The fact that Dirty Rice is as diverse as it is is what makes it so fun and easy to listen to, even for a guy who has a pretty narrow selection of ska bands he actually enjoys.

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3) Rented World – The Menzingers

The Menzingers are one of those bands who will always put out consistently solid records, and Rented World is no exception. Chamberlain Waits may still be my personal favorite Menzingers album, but I believe On The Impossible Past was what really put them on the radar. Rented World could be seen as completing the trifecta of successful Menzingers records. I certainly see it that way. Songs like “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” and “In Remission” demonstrate how the band has retained their hard-rocking essence and continue to write songs that are instantly infectious. Having two very talented songwriters certainly helps too. Like I said before, the Menzingers have been on a roll since 2010, and Rented World has kept that streak alive and well.

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4) Lazaretto – Jack White

When Jack White released his debut solo album, Blunderbuss, in 2012, I had a feeling it would be the start of a long and fruitful series of solo albums. Naturally, nothing has made this more clear than Jack’s 2014 follow-up, Lazaretto. It takes you on a wild ride of twists and turns through folk, blues, country, and White’s trademark alien-sounding rock and roll fuzz. You never know where it’s going to take you next until you get to the final bars of the album’s soft, solemn closer, “Want And Able.” And those of you who have seen Jack demo his Ultra LP version of the record know another reason why Lazaretto makes the cut. Wicked!

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5) Hebrews – Say Anything

I’m sure fans of Say Anything have heard by now: the band’s latest studio album, Hebrews, does not contain a single guitar track. However, it is still a serious piece of pop punk goodness. Tracks like “Judas Decapitation” and “My Greatest Fear Is Splendid” are reminiscent of old Say Anything hits, while “Six Six Six” and “Hebrews” help demonstrate how strings and synth have been woven into frontman Max Bemis’s old songwriting style to create something very ambitious. The new concepts Max writes about now (coming to terms with being a father, religion, disgruntled fans, etc.) are still as emotionally gripping as various subjects on his earlier albums. After the mixed reviews of Say Anything’s previous record Anarchy, My Dear, which was pretty hit-or-miss, Hebrews is definitely a breath of fresh air.

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5 Most Anticipated Releases for the Remainder of 2014:

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1) LP 8 (Sonic Highways) – Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl has certainly been up to a lot these days, even after he announced the Foo Fighters would be going on hiatus after releasing their hard-rocking, hugely popular last album, Wasting Light. Since then, the frontman has directed a fantastic music documentary, he was inducted into – and performed at – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame via his last band, Nirvana (you may have heard of them), and he has announced that he will be directing a new HBO series called “Sonic Highways.” The show is an eight-part mini-series in which Grohl will visit a different legendary recording studio in each episode. The Foo Fighters will record a new song at each studio, and the resulting collection of recordings will be released as the band’s eighth studio album. If that doesn’t sound like a rock and roll masterpiece, I don’t know what does.

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2) LP 6 (Untitled) – Motion City Soundtrack

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Motion City Soundtrack frontman Justin Pierre has been posting a lot of pictures and videos on the band’s various social media sites showing the process of recording the band’s upcoming sixth studio album. Although the album has no official release date yet, the picture above was posted to the band website with a caption declaring that recording for LP 6 had officially wrapped. MCS recently acquired ex-Saves The Day drummer Claudio Rivera, which has moderately changed their overall sound. Their latest single, “Inside Out,” is the first recorded song with this fresh lineup change, and if it’s included on the new record, then it’s an exciting indication of good things to come.

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3) Get Hurt – The Gaslight Anthem

Handwritten, The Gaslight Anthem’s fourth studio album, was an enormous success as expected, and it launched the band into sudden New Jersey stardom (they’re headlining the PNC Bank Arts Center for goodness’ sake!). What will be even more interesting is where the band plans to go from here. Their next studio release, titled Get Hurt,  is slated for release on August 19th and will surely be an album to remember. The band announced on their website a few days ago, “Get ready for some things you’ve never heard this band do!!!!!” As an accompaniment, a recent YouTube teaser showcased some audio of Gaslight that was heavier than anything I have ever heard them play. They put out a complete song on YouTube shortly thereafter, called “Rollin’ And Tumblin’,” which was a bit closer to classic Gaslight. Nevertheless, I expect Get Hurt could be a big game-changer for these New Brunswick natives.

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4) Remember When EP – Allison Weiss

Allison Weiss is another artist that I haven’t heard of until recently, since my co-host Matt introduced me to her music after he saw her in concert. Her debut album, Say What You Mean, is raw emotion and pure punk rock, which are some of my favorite things when it comes to songwriting. I instantly got hooked on the album, which is why I’m more than excited for Weiss’s upcoming EP, Remember When. It’s due out on July 22nd, and a song has already debuted on YouTube (“Giving Up”). It’s more of the same, but with a slight ’80s throwback feel, which is very cool. Allison Weiss has yet to write a bad song, which means Remember When has some serious potential.

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5) Everything Will Be Alright In The End – Weezer

OK, say it now. This might not be so good. The only reason that may be the case is because Weezer’s last studio album, Hurley, is probably the band’s second weakest album, just ahead of 2009’s Raditude. However, sometimes it’s good to root for the underdogs. Plus, if you read between the lines, there are actually a lot of details to indicate Everything Will Be Alright In The End might be a pretty surprising record. First of all, Ric Ocasek is the album’s producer, and he also produced both the Blue Album and the Green Album, two of Weezer’s greatest records to date. Second, Weezer has been posting a lot of “mysterious” clips on YouTube, and the most recent few contain snippets of audio from the new album. If what is featured there is any hint of what to expect from the rest of Everything Will Be Alright, then it could turn out to be a pretty great release.

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These are just my personal favorites and predictions for 2014, and I would love to hear your input! What do you think will be the best release of this year?

My Year In Concerts (2013)

Posted in Everything Else on December 30, 2013 by occupyairwaves

So a friend of mine did this a while back, and I thought I would do the same, as part of my end-of-the-year lists. It was a fun little reminder making this list, bringing back memories of all the awesome shows I’ve been to this year, and the friends I got to share some killer times with… So without further ado, here’s my year in concerts!

-Joe

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1) Tegan And Sara @ The Beacon Theater – February 20th w/ openers Diana

2) Muse @ The IZOD Center – April 19th w/ openers Dead Sara

3) Pouzzafest @ Downtown Montreal, Canada – May 17th, 18th, and 19th:

Featured Bands: Big D And The Kids Table, MU330, Crime In Stereo, Lemuria, Creepshow, The World Is A Beautiful Place…, Audio/Rocketry, and Transit

4) The Jersey Shore Music Festival @ First Energy Park in Lakewood NJ – July 20th:

Featured Bands: The Front Bottoms, River City Extension, and The Hush Sound

5) Alkaline Trio & New Found Glory @ Starland Ballroom – November 8th w/ openers H2O

6) Paramore @ Madison Square Garden – November 13th w/ openers Hellogoodbye & Metric

7) The Front Bottoms @ Bowery Ballroom – December 27th w/ openers The Bynars & HMFO (Hall and Motherfucking Oates, cover band)

Joe’s Top Ten Albums of 2013

Posted in Everything Else on December 30, 2013 by occupyairwaves

10) Say What You Mean – Allison Weiss

ImageEver heard of Allison Weiss? Yeah, me neither. That is, until my roommate/co-host Matt saw her open for Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace and then introduced me to Weiss’s new album, Say What You Mean. Running just short of 35 minutes, this album is a quick burst of all you can ask for, if you’re a fan of indie/folk rock. The best way to describe it is essentially the Front Bottoms with a female vocalist, a bit more of a punk feel, and some synth and strings thrown in for fun. The harmonies Weiss slips into her choruses make the overall album way more catchy than it already is, which is pretty damn catchy. This isn’t Allison Weiss’s first album, and if all of her material is this good, she deserves to be way bigger.

Favorite Song: “Don’t Go”

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9) Paramore – Paramore

ImageYeah, I know, I know, I hated this album when it first came out, like most Paramore fans. First of all, their initial single, “Now,” was a huge turn-off. Then the band decided to start their album with “Fast In My Car,” which is honestly just a goofy song. But if you can look past the handful bad songs and get used to Paramore’s new sound, then their self-titled album really takes off. Songs like “Last Hope” and “Still Into You” are some of the catchiest of the band’s career, and the fun ukulele interludes echo She And Him, but with Hayley Williams’s own unique twist. Everyone thought Paramore would never be able to recover after the loss of the Farro Brothers (Josh and Zac), but this album did the trick. It even landed them their first show at Madison Square Garden. If this list had a “most improved” category, Paramore would definitely be number one. However, Paramore’s self-titled album deserves its spot on this list because it is very catchy rock music, plain and simple.

Favorite Song: “Ain’t It Fun”

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8) In Blue – The Static Jacks

ImageThere is always at least one album by a local artist that makes my top ten list, and this year, it is none other than the Static Jacks. These Westfield, New Jersey natives are actually good acquaintances of my friend’s roommate, which means I could meet them before they blow up (which will almost certainly happen). In Blue is mostly grunge rock, in a way that blends Weezer with Smashing Pumpkins. The Static Jacks definitely get this year’s award for best use of fuzz pedals. The vocals are also occasionally reminiscent of the National’s Matt Berninger. The shining gem of In Blue is the song “Wallflowers” (I would highly recommend that any nineties kid should check out this song’s music video, trust me…). “We’re Alright,” although not as high-intensity as the rest of the album, makes for a nice little interlude. The rest of the album flows very well right into the last track, “Greensleeves,” which ties the album up very nicely. Like I said before, definitely one of the best albums from a local group this year.

Favorite Song: “Wallflowers”

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7) Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

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I am aware that I usually only put rock albums on a list of this caliber, but Daft Punk is certainly an exception. No one could have seen this album coming – a sudden shift from EDM to throwback funk and disco jams. And people who know me well know that I’m a sucker for funk. Featuring an all-star cast of special guests – Julian Casablancas of the Strokes,  Pharrell Williams, Giorgio Moroder, Paul Williams, and Chic frontman Nile Rodgers – this album finds the perfect blend of old school funk/disco with the classic Daft Punk sound. Plus, Random Access Memories features arguably the biggest song of the year – the undeniably catchy “Get Lucky.” I never used to be a fan of older Daft Punk records, but this sudden shift in the group’s sound made me an instant fan. There are a couple of 9+ minute tracks which can be a bit much, but the grooves are so pleasing that you won’t realize how much time has gone by. Worth a listen, especially if you’ve never heard a Daft Punk album before.

Favorite Song: “Instant Crush”

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6) Saves The Day – Saves The Day

ImagePrinceton, NJ rockers Saves The Day have been continuing their streak with Saves The Day, their eighth studio album since forming in 1997. Hardcore fans will know the majority of Saves The Day lyrics are focused around car crashes, self-mutilation, and the like, but the band’s 2011 release, Daybreak, marked the first use of positive lyrics from frontman Chris Conley. This album transitioned perfectly into 2013’s self-titled album, which is easily the happiest album the band has put out. Just listen to the album’s last track, “Stand In The Stars.” It’s pure sugary indie pop. Even if this isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of songs on this album that sound like old school Saves The Day (see “Ring Pop,” “In The In Between,” “Lucky Number,” etc.). Saves The Day fans will love this album, and people who haven’t heard of Saves The Day will love this album too. Definitely a victory for rock n’ roll in 2013.

Favorite Song: “Ring Pop”

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5) My Shame Is True – Alkaline Trio

ImageThe only comeback that was able to trump Paramore’s recovery with their self-titled album was Alkaline Trio’s 2013 release, My Shame Is True. Fans of old Alkaline Trio know that their previous releases – 2010’s This Addiction and 2011’s Damnesia, where they cover their own songs acoustically – were tremendous disappointments. Alkaline Trio went back to their punk rock roots on My Shame Is True, and that was the best idea they’ve ever had. This album is packed with infectious punk rock, and the brutally relatable lyrics are fueled by frontman Matt Skiba’s recent breakup. My Shame Is True also features a killer special guest – Tim McIlrath of Rise Against – who duets with Trio’s bassist, Dan Andriano, on the hard-rocking “I, Pessimist.” Alkaline Trio have been through a ton of ups and downs since their first studio album back in ’98, but My Shame Is True demonstrates that the band is still going strong. Rock on, guys.

Favorite Song: “The Torture Doctor”

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4) Heartthrob – Tegan And Sara

ImageIt is very surprising that TWO of the albums featured here are electronic/disco hybrids rather than the standard rock albums that always crowd my lists, but Canadian duo Tegan And Sara’s new album, Heartthrob, was just too good to pass up. Just as Daft Punk made the random switch from EDM to funk, twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin decided to scrap the folk rock sound from their previous studio albums and go straight for throwback ’80s new wave and synthpop. Luckily for me, I grew up listening to my dad’s favorite ’80s artists – The Cars, Duran Duran, and Eddie Money to name a few – so I was well-prepared for the ’80s throwback sound. Another great thing about Heartthrob is that the songs are just as catchy as the duo’s earlier hits, if not more so. The album’s opening track, “Closer,” even made its way to Top 40 radio stations across the country. If you’re a fan of old Tegan And Sara, I would surely say embrace the change and give their new album a chance.

Favorite Song: “Closer”

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3) Tape Deck Heart – Frank Turner

ImagePunk Rock Album of the Year goes straight to Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls and their new album, Tape Deck Heart. This is the fifth studio album from the English singer-songwriter, and many of the songs were written after the collapse of a long-term relationship. So like Alkaline Trio’s new album, Turner’s lyrics are dripping with anger and remorse, giving the songs a very raw feeling. Though these songs compose much of Tape Deck Heart, there are still some tracks – like the stand-out single, “Recovery” – that take the opposite approach and talk positively about the recovery from such a tragic loss. You can hear Turner’s punk rock roots in this album, and every song has been stuck in my head at some point since it came out. This is some of the best stuff Frank Turner has put out since going solo.

Favorite Song: “Recovery”

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2) Talon Of The Hawk – The Front Bottoms

ImageI have been following the Front Bottoms very closely ever since hearing their self-titled album, which came out back in 2011. It was the first studio album they put out on a major label, and you can tell how much better the recording quality is from their self-released material. Back in May of 2013, the band put out their second album from the label, called Talon Of The Hawk. The recording quality is even more impressive, and I can safely say that the band’s sound has expanded in completely new ways. The first track that anyone heard from this album was “Twin Size Mattress,” and any fan of the Front Bottoms can tell you it was a whole new style of music for the band. While these new songs are a welcome addition to the album’s tracklist, there are plenty of tunes on here that any fan of the band’s old material will fall in love with too. The Front Bottoms are another local band from Jersey, but this album has surely propelled them to a whole new level of popularity. Gotta root for the underdogs.

Favorite Song: “Twin Size Mattress”

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1) AM – Arctic Monkeys

ImageAnd the winner of 2013 Album Of The Year goes to the Arctic Monkeys and their beautifully crafted, incredibly seductive fifth studio album, AM. With the release of AM in September, it marked the fifth consecutive studio album the band has released to go straight to number one in the UK charts. Arctic Monkeys struck gold with their first two studio albums, but they began to tail off with their next record, Humbug. When they released album number four, Suck It And See, in 2011, you could plainly hear a change in the band’s sound. AM perfects this new sound, combining the best of Black Sabbath and Dr. Dre in tracks like “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” Every song on AM is so incredibly smooth, and honestly, I think it’s the best sound the band has ever had. If you’re stumbling into a dusty, sweaty dive one night for a drink, expect to hear this album playing because that is the ideal setting to spin this record. I have been obsessed with this record since it’s release, and it is hands down my favorite album of 2013.

Favorite Song: “Do I Wanna Know?”

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 Well that’s my list! Feel free to share your own lists and compare! Happy holidays, and I’ll see you all in the new year!

          -Joe

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