Mr. Big defies Gravity and sets expectations high for rock ‘n’ roll with new album

Eric Martin, Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey and newcomer, Matt Starr of supergroup Mr. Big (which formed in 1987) prove once again that they have no intention of slowing down as they release their new record titled Defying Gravity! The album was recorded in a live studio setting; meaning no overdubbing, presenting the intimate feel as though you’re experiencing them live. The guys managed to record the twelve featured songs in just six days! That’s crazy!

What can you expect from this 6-day fiasco? A masterpiece unlike any Mr. Big album before. The overall sound of Defying Gravity is the classic Mr. Big rock ‘n’ roll sound we all know and love paired with the down and dirty blues with a splash of R&B/soul. Add in some humor and references to the past thrown into the mix.

Now don’t freak out thinking that the guys have gone off the track. They haven’t. They are still the same Mr. Big we have known through the last 25 years. Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert are still shredding their guitars ’til their fingers bleed! Pat Torpey and Matt Starr are creating new recognizable rhythmic beats, and Mr. ‘Singer Dude’ Eric Martin pulling it all together with his killer vocals! 

Speaking of references to the past, a single titled “1992” that has been blowing up the internet, directly references Mr. Bigs hit single “To Be With You” which reached #1 on the Billboard Top 100! “1992” was written by Paul Gilbert who also wrote Mr. Big’s single, “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” which reached #3 on the Billboard Top 100. In addition, “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” was one of the first songs Paul Gilbert wrote that was featured on a Mr. Big album. Listening to “1992” brings me back in time, both hearing the lyrical references to “To Be With You” and the musical style of “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind.”

After listening to the whole album, one song that sticks out to me as a hit is “Nothing Bad (Bout Feeling Good).” It’s a groovy kind of sing-along with an easy chorus to remember. It has killer harmonies and guitar riffs. There is a distinct difference between the verse and chorus in the song which showcases Mr. Big’s musical knowledge and complexity. I still can not get over how much I love the guitar arrangements on this song! 

Now, of course, Mr. Big delivered a ballad for all the girls out there called “Forever And Back.” When I first listened to this song, all I wrote in my notes was BALLAD. What else could you expect from Mr. Ballad who sang his heart out on numerous heart-wrenching songs throughout the years? You can not tell me lyrics like “I’ve been a fool to my princess” or “Then would you say that you love me?” don’t pull at your heart string. “Forever And Back” really showcases Eric Martin’s amazing vocals and the guys’ harmonies. Mr. Big seals the deal ending with “I promise to love you forever, forever and back”.

A personal favorite of mine is the impressive, seven-minute long “Be Kind.” This song is that down and dirty blues meets R&B/soul referenced early in all of its glory. It also nicely showcases the talents of each member. You can’t go wrong with a minute long outro from these guys. “Is that too much to ask?”

All in all, Defying Gravity is a solid album leaving very little to be deserved by Mr. Big fans. The album is full of honest, distressful, sincere, and humorous lyrics along with memorable vocals, rhythmic beats, guitar and bass riffs. Defying Gravity will be hitting the shelves July 21st this year but you can also grab one of the limited 500 copy deluxe box editions or vinyl set to be released August 18th!

To pre-order the album, please visit any of the following: http://radi.al/DefyingGravity
• Frontiers: http://www.frontiers.shop
• Amazon: http://radi.al/DefyingGravityAmazon
• iTunes: http://radi.al/DefyingGravityiTunes
• Google Play: http://radi.al/DefyingGravityGooglePl

 

Review by Alex Dale. 

All Time Low graduate from pop punk to something… more with latest album, Last Young Renegade

Baltimore natives and pop-punk/emo kings have come a long way since the days of “Dear Maria…” The very same boys who once had little more under their belts than covers of Blink 182 and dreams of performing some day with their heroes (check that off the list) are celebrating their latest studio release, Last Young Renegade. 

All Time Low have been promoting their newest album with a special, unique touch of collectible ‘volume’ denim jackets/patches. Their theme has seamlessly transitioned from FUTURE HEARTS to I DON’T BELIEVE IN SAINTS with the simple upside-down turn of their previous logo. 

Last Young Renegade marks the band’s seventh studio album (ninth if you count their two earlier EPs) and their first release on their new label, Fueled By Ramen after having been with Hopeless Records for two bounce-back albums after a comically bad experience of going major label far too early. (Who remembers their stint with Interscope/DGC?)  All Time Low announced their departure from Hopeless Records with the first taste from Last Young Renegade back when they dropped “Dirty Laundry,” though they leave the Hopeless family on completely different terms than when they left Interscope — happily and with a lot of well wishes. It’s easy to see why “Dirty Laundry” became their front-running single, which served as the perfect blend to connect the new with the old. All Time Low are no strangers to the game. This slower tempo untraditional love ballad has everything you’d expect and love from an All Time Low hit: a strong beginning, an infectious chorus and somewhere just before the song ends, things pick up so lead singer, Alex Gaskarth, can belt the lyrics out in a pseudo-yelling falsetto (jokes aside, we really love this track). 

Although, if we could only use a single sentence to describe All Time Low’s latest album, it would be this: All Time Low have grown up… sort of… they seem to be in the Afterglow (see what we did there?). Last Young Renegade is the band’s second go-around with a major label, and dare we say, this time they’ve got things right? The album was produced by a dynamic duo in addition to the band: Nicholas Furlong (who has worked with a number of artists including Blink 182, Steve Aoki, 5 Seconds Of Summer, etc) and Blake Harnage… you remember him, right? Former member of Versaemerge turned producer/singer/songwriting genius. Alongside All Time Low, who have been on the scene for over ten years now, they’ve created something beautiful. The band may have put aside their scene-kid necessities (although guitarist Jack Barakat swapped out his infamous ‘skunk’ hair style from back in the day and has been rocking a red streak for some time now) and embarrassingly bad antics for videos (who remembers their choreographed dance in “Poppin’ Champagne” or Gaskarth’s side-swept bangs and lisp in “Coffee Shop Soundtrack?” Or the ironic, hilarious nature of so many of their videos: “Weightless,” “I Feel Like Dancing,” and even more recently, “Something’s Gotta Give.”) but, All Time Low have been on this path of ‘growing up’ for quite some time now, it just appears that they’ve finally reached wherever they were hoping to get to. 

It shows the most in Last Young Renegade where the band has given us four music videos before the album itself has dropped… and in none of them are the guys decked out in silly furry costumes and there are no strippers or pet monkeys. Color us proud. We knew this day would come, although we didn’t know it would come so soon. 

True to themselves, Last Young Renegade begins on a hard-hitting, high tempo title track. Although as “Last Young Renegade” builds you up, in the same ways their previous introducing songs have in the past (see: “Kicking & Screaming,” “The Reckless And The Brave,” “Do You Want Me (Dead?)” and even “Weightless”), the songs that follow this opening number are like a smooth ride down a very high rollercoaster. 

It isn’t until track number five, “Nice2KnoU” that the record picks up again. We aren’t exactly against this softer, more refined sounding version of All Time Low. After all, 2017 has proved to be the year of change (with the dramatic differences in other artists’ previous work to their newest releases — Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Paramore — are you catching that these artists are also on FBR? Hmm…) and we’re just thankful that All Time Low didn’t attempt to ‘experiment’ with an over-saturated sound filled with computer-driven synth beats. That’s not to say they haven’t flirted with synths paired with piano action (see “Drugs & Candy,” and the Tegan and Sara feature “Ground Control.”) but it doesn’t feel overdone or untrue to the band All Time Low is and always have been. Their embrace of these, in addition to modern R&B vibes (“Life Of The Party” and even “Dirty Laundry”) is what will keep All Time Low relevant in a scene where “pop punk” has become washed out and stagnant due to the millions of soundalikes who just want you to listen to their EP on dirty headphones while you’re begrudgingly waiting in that long line for Warped Tour. 

With “Nightmare” comes a vulnerable painted picture of a man as Gaskarth sings about telling himself he wouldn’t be scared and still facing nightmares. The track is a showcase for Gaskarth’s unique vocal range, his ability to go from a grainy/raspy sound to refine, crisp, clean. He has come a long way since The Party Scene and saying we’re proud is a definite understatement. 

Even though the album is missing that goofiness that became a staple for All Time Low in the past (and we’re sure, Barakat will still happily accept your sweaty bras on stage), the seriousness of their new sound is a breath of fresh air. Of course, if you were a fan of the loud, in your face chorus and riffs off of the band’s Dirty Work and Don’t Panic, you may find yourself a bit disappointed with All Time Low’s somewhere-in-the-middle transition from the old to the new, pop-driven trend that so many seem to be struggling with to escape. But for fans like myself who are also facing the trials and tribulations of having to grow up, the maturity and honesty in their latest album is something easy to accept as we all seem to be coming to that point of change and the mixed emotions that come hand-in-hand. Trust us — give the album a second chance, let it sit, come back to it. You’ll see that the same four guys are underneath these tracks, which may be the truest to themselves thus far. How can you hate the absolute gem that is the closing track, “Afterglow” which takes on an ‘80s jungle vibes, pairing Gaskarth’s tone with the bright talent of each musician in the band (we see you Rian Dawson and Zack Merrick, don’t think you were forgotten) in a track that you may have expected from the likes of Third Eye Blind meets fun. Trust us. It’s amazing, and if you allow this track to close out the album as intended, you too will be caught up in the Afterglow that All Time Low has created.  

Our favorite tracks: Afterglow, Nightmares, Ground Control, Dark Side Of Your Room, Dirty Laundry. 

Be sure to check out All Time Low’s official website for information on their album, pick up a copy or peep their tour dates for their US tour happening this year. 

Closing words about the album from frontman Alex Gaskarth himself: 

Last Young Renegade is a story of self-realization. A collection of songs written from the perspective of the other side of the mirror. In writing this record, I delved into all of the different versions of me that other people might have met over the years, through the ups and downs, in the public eye and behind closed doors.
I gave those other sides of me a persona, and a name, and The Last Young Renegade was born. It became a symbol for those characters and allowed me to comfortably write about some things that I’m not as comfortable talking about openly. This is a very personal record, our favorite that we’ve written. We hope you enjoy the album as much as we do. Thank you for being along for this journey with us.

https://www.facebook.com/alltimelow/videos/10154610115392592/

Incredibly Special ACLU benefit compilation: Music For Everyone curated by John Nolan

Non-profit Sub City has teamed up with Collective Confusion Records, Hopeless Records and John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday to give us something incredibly special: Music For Everyone. This American Civil Liberties Union benefiting compilation features artists such as Taking Back Sunday, Allison Weiss, Kevin Devine, Frank Iero, Dave House, Anthony Green (of Circa Survive/Saosin) and so much more in the 27 featured rare and/or unreleased tracks. 

For information and testimonials on the importance of why artists wanted to be involved, please check out the official website: www.musicforeveryone.us 

Why did John Nolan feel the need to recruit this amazingly diverse group of artist from every end of the spectrum? A quote taken directly from the website reads: “I also wanted to give artists an opportunity to express something about what’s gone on in this country over the past year and what’s coming in the next ones. I needed that for myself and wanted to connect with other people who needed it. And I wanted to take that need for self-expression and channel it into something bigger than all of us.”

Nolan also explains that in these next four years, there is so much potential for the rise of policies that will discriminate against persons of all sorts of backgrounds: people of color, the Muslim community, women, the LGBT community. It is important for us as a nation to come together and fight against this hatred that is terrifyingly becoming acceptable. The ACLU has a long history of fighting against unconstitutional and discriminatory policies, and what better way than to unite people in favor of support for this fight than with a community as passionate as musicians and music lovers alike. 

The songs featured on this compilation are just as strong as the message it is meant to stand for. The record starts off with a previously unreleased demo from Anti-Flag titled “Buried The Shame” that sets an obvious tone that is carried throughout the other indie, punk, rock, emo, alternative artists that follow. Although that’s not all this compilation has to offer: Music For Everyone really does stand up to its name with its offer of a very special hip-hop track featuring Taking Back Sunday on instrumental by Gift Of Gab titled “When Justice Comes,” as well as a folk/alt-country feature titled “I’m Paranoid” by Brett Newski. The pop genre is represented by “Break My Heart” by Miss Allison Weiss, this twangy powerful song standing out from the rest but sharing the same protesting, we-wont-stand-for-this theme. 

Compilations have been a huge thing for several years (how many ‘Now that’s what I call…’ volumes are we at?) — they’re a fantastic way to discover new artists, but why not give a listen to one that also supports an amazing cause? Of course, you can stream the compilation below, but we highly encourage you to purchase a copy to allow the proceeds to benefit the cause. 

Please visit the Music For Everyone’s official site to read up about this amazing, unique collection of songs. And be sure to check out the official ACLU website to get involved! 


https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/4H10o1lLRvwWLPYbMQcaN4

ACLU: MUSIC FOR EVERYONE TRACKLISTING:

1. Anti-Flag – Buried The Shame (DEMO) 01:47
2. Chris Farren – Always 01:58
3. Taking Back Sunday – Just A Man 03:36
4. Potty Mouth – Twisted 02:56
5. Travis Hayes – Honest Man (Live At Nu-Tone) 03:44
6. Gift Of Gab (ft. Taking Back Sunday) – When Justice Comes 02:37
7. Kevin Devine – Both Ways (Acoustic) 02:58
8. Dave Hause – Season’s Greetings From Ferguson 03:14
9. Allison Weiss – Break My Heart 02:41
10. Brett Newski – I’m Paranoid 02:43
11. Brendan Kelly And The Wandering Birds – Boardin’ USA 02:10
12. Anthony Green – Spanish Moss 03:30
13. James Dewees & John Nolan – Believe In Me 03:28
14. Frank Iero – Getting Into Heaven Can Be Hell 02:04
15. Modern Chemistry – The OverThinker 03:24
16. Baggage – Half Full 04:05
17. Secret Space – Point Of Change 02:57
18. Jared Hart – Heads Or Tails 04:02
19. Cameron Boucher – sinn 02:09
20. Dead Heavens – Straight Outta Blindness 03:36
21. The Republic Of Wolves – Birdless Cage 05:32
22. Answering Machine – City Of Glass 02:38
23. Cassino – Corvette 05:14
24. Rationale – Space Angela 02:58
25. Gravel Kings – American Skies 03:50
26. Sleep On It – Memorial Day 04:32
27. Lolo – The Day After Tomorrow 05:27

Harry Styles Takes New Direction in Solo Debut

The album leaves little left to be desired, the closing track “From The Dining Table,” starts off with a soft-spoken Styles, who again manages to make it sound as though he could be singing this while side-by-side in bed with you and you alone. The very much talked about lyrics paint a picture of a horny and lonely 23-year old, who has a wank before getting wasted and passing out. “I’ve never felt less cool,” he admits through personal lyrics, leaving us to believe this song is less for attention and complaints but more of a confession, right from the heart. The song puts an end to the album the same soft way you’d lay down a lover – on a note of promising possibilities for a sophomore release.

Throughout history, all good ‘boy bands’ had to come to an end to give us something even sweeter… solo careers. From The Beatles to *Nsync, former One Direction star Harry Styles has finally joined the likes of those whose initial claim to fame might have been in a group, but sought after finding their own unique sound. Seems to us, Styles had little problem finding his own niche while in the beautiful Caribbean. He isn’t the first artist to shed their former image (or sound) that once defined them… though Styles does join the ranks of those who have had such a dramatic and unpredictable change. Is it a success? We definitely think so. He has ventured far from the path set by those in the past (Justin Timberlake to Harry’s own former bandmate Zayn Malik are only some of the few who turned to embrace hip-hop and r&b in their solo careers) and instead has made one thing clear: he is setting out to be a rock star. And not just any rock star. One that can hold a match to those your mother and father grew up adoring… hell, maybe even one worthy of your grandfather’s praise, too!

Promotion leading up to Styles’ debut release may have seemed a little lackluster, without the fanfare you’d expect from such an already successful and established musician. It is as though Styles’ team knew an almost silent release would work out more in his favor, in presenting a new persona for the boyband refugee. The strategy proved itself a success, with nothing short of overwhelming in regards to how his solo music has been received by fans. His world tour – Harry Styles Live – sold out globally within minutes across the 32 cities he’ll be performing in. Just earlier this week, Styles performed on the Today morning show, looking awfully sharp in his pink suit (where he surprised the fans with One Direction’s own “Stockholm Syndrome” – a song that the band never had the chance to perform, a special treat for both fans and Styles alike) as he premiered another new track titled “Carolina,” a southern rock sounding love-song about trying to find the perfect way to tell a girl she’s all you think about. 

With the three pre-released tracks, one would assume Styles had plenty of inspiration from his belles for the album, which he recorded over the span of a year, including a stint of time where he seemingly dropped off the face of the planet after filming for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk but was actually soaking up the Caribbean sun in a luxurious Jamaican studio. Styles joked in a recent French Quotidien interview that the album as a whole is more about himself than any other particular person – lovers or not. This sentiment definitely fooled us – when you listen to the album, it’s impossible not to pick up the influences from any possible muse and past real-life relationships. With genius producer/writer Jeff Bhasker (who has worked in the past with Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and The Rolling Stones just to name a few) and collaborations including Bhasker associate, Tyler Johnson who was part of the team behind P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason” and fun.’s Some Nights as well as helping engineer songs for The All-American Rejects, Ed Sheeran and Miley Cyrus. Also included was Snow Patrol’s own Johnny McDaid, who had said Harry’s solo music would “surprise” everyone… we cannot think of a better way to sum up our initial listen. 

From the opening track titled, “Meet Me In the Hallway,” Styles’ self-titled solo debut begins with Styles’ counting down, giving an immediate intimate feel. If you chose to close your eyes, his vocals come in soft and almost haunting with a slight echo that makes it all too easy to envision you’re sitting in on a studio session as he performs his tunes versus simply listening to the .mp3 version. From the first track alone, you can tell Styles’ aim is to not be defined by the tracks he was once known for. “Meet Me In The Hallway” begins with chords sounding as though they’re plucked with loose strings, bass lines on a stand-up bass as Styles’ voice echoes in through the first verses until his strength is shown in the chorus. This vintage/folk sound only compliment Styles’ unique, hollowing vocals, showing his talents beyond today’s norm and certainly what any of his former bandmates have – or will – release. 

“Carolina” starts off bass heavy too, with a fun beat, clapping and chants that take us back to some of our most beloved classic rock hits. How can you not listen to this track and not envision a girl in bell bottom corduroys, dancing around to this on her 45? This song may be 50 years out of place, but we absolutely love it! There’s nothing lacking from this 3-minute hit: from the maraca shaker, the ‘oh yeah’s, the acoustics leading up to percussion, a symphony of beautiful strings shining through the second verse, the la-la-la’s… and is that a cowbell we hear? Definitely makes us want to scream and shout it out.

“Two Ghosts” is a soft and slow anti-love ballad, unlike the ballads you’re more familiar with. There is no animosity in the lyrics about two souls who have loved and lost. Instead, Harry relates the feeling as ghosts trying to remember the feel of a beating heart accompanied by a slide guitar that could be compared to something you’d expect from Ryan Adams. It is followed directly by the tender “Sweet Creature” which is still slow, but a much stronger ballad that seems as Styles’ own stab at something “Blackbird”-esque while dripping with love and affection, the song revolving around the notion that once you’ve fallen in love, home is wherever you two are together.

Things pick up with “Only Angel,” which gives the feel of a band closing out a rowdy show at some overly-packed bar. Styles’ vocals are heard a bit louder, with a bit more of a grunge-punch and the return of a cowbell! The album grows from an exhausted and exasperated-sounded Styles to symbols of naughty debauchery – “Only Angel,” “From The Dining Table,” and even “Kiwi” which lyrics seem sleazy in an almost amusingly-unconvincing nature. We can forgive the aforementioned because it is followed by a convincing alt-country troubadour “Ever Since New York,” which ranks as one of our top favorites from the entire album.

The album leaves little left to be desired, the closing track “From The Dining Table,” starts off with a soft-spoken Styles, who again manages to make it sound as though he could be singing this while side-by-side in bed with you and you alone. The very much talked about lyrics paint a picture of a horny and lonely 23-year old, who has a wank before getting wasted and passing out. “I’ve never felt less cool,” he admits through personal lyrics, leaving us to believe this song is less for attention and complaints but more of a confession, right from the heart. The song puts an end to the album the same soft way you’d lay down a lover – on a note of promising possibilities for a sophomore release.

The entire record sounds as though it came into this world a couple eras too late, but at the exact time we needed it. In a world with overly-saturated pop beats and music relied upon by Garageband noise, Styles’ self-titled debut is a breath of fresh air, resisting the norm of the current contemporary pop aesthetic. Instead of using samples music from decades ago, Harry seems to have gained inspiration from back when music was undoubtedly great. Making songs that can proudly be displayed alongside the rock and blues from a time close to being lost. With all the debates of Harry trying too hard to mimic icons and legends such as David Bowie, Prince, The Beatles and more… you’d be surprised to find the songs relating more closely to the works of Don Henley, specifically The Eagles, Wolfmother, Arctic Monkeys and even a little Elton John. There is no debating that these collections of songs are ones we’re certain anyone would be proud to hear they helped inspire in one way or another. This isn’t to say the album is flawless – as you’d expect with anyone’s solo debut, there are awkward moments (did we mention the unconvincing lines about one-night stands and masturbation?), and it is obvious Styles is an artist trying to find his footing… but these mishaps hardly distract from the ambitious and admirable debut. There are few bells and whistles, which would have no place beside Styles’ talents in his honest songwriting alongside the beautifully simplistic twang of his (mostly acoustic) guitars.

Whether you were a fan of One Direction or never heard a single one of their hits, whether you’re 15 or 50 – we’re willing to guarantee you’ll find a track or two you fall in love with on Styles’ debut solo album. There is just enough diversity in the 10 tracks to really have something to appeal to everyone, without losing a solid cohesion for the entirety of the record. You can hear traces of intimate singer/songwriter aspects known and loved from the 1960s and ‘70s and even hints of flamboyant dramatics (dare we say hair bands?) from the 1980s. The tracks aren’t what you’d expect (or are they exactly what you expected from Harry Styles himself?) after the music put out by the former boyband, though we’re happy to see and hear the musical freedom Harry has with both the sound and lyrics of his new endeavors. You’ll find hints and traces of love, loss, sex, drugs and of course rock ‘n’ roll. It’s an exploration of an artist out there trying to find himself and we cannot wait for what is still to come. 

Our favorite picks: “Ever Since New York,” “Sweet Creature” and “From The Dining Table.” 

After Laughter just may be Paramore’s biggest rebellion yet

After Laughter is an album with a message, in the simplest terms – when the going gets tough, the tough get going – to encourage us all to smile in times of absolute despair, the fight-back kicking and screaming sentiment being a reoccurring one for some time with Paramore.

Change may sometimes be hard to swallow – for fans of Paramore who have followed the band since their earliest days (as far back as 2005 when their debut, All We Know is Falling was released) up to their previous self-titled release in 2013… it is no surprise that with four years to experiment, Paramore’s sound has graduated and moved on to something unexpected. Fans of Riot!Brand New Eyes and even the previously mentioned Paramore may find themselves a bit disappointed when they’ve realized Paramore has shed their outer skin and has taken a step back from those ‘harder’ rock days. “Misery Business” is arguably the band’s best known, as a fast-paced, hard-hitting, head-banging anthem with a similar theme for the surrounding tracks on their 2007 album. The once emo and yet rebellious band has grown up, as most of us have these days (perfect pun placement: some of us have to grow up sometimes, and so, if I have to I’m gonna leave you behind). Although, for those who learned to love Paramore – which was considered a bit of a stretch from their original sound with its funky beats, playful guitar licks, pianos and synths (such with songs like “Fast In My Car,” “Ain’t It Fun” and “Anklebiters”) – the album was a shock after the departure of two founding members and a new shift in sound, despite the rock aspect the band was known for still there, somewhere faintly heard beneath the sound and rumble of the new experimental sound. It seems as though all caution has been thrown to the wind, making After Laughter a refreshing, brand new kind of Paramore, which in our opinion may be the most genuine and sincere collection of songs in terms of sound and lyrics… and yes, we’re counting the brutal, painful honesty that so many Brand New Eyes tracks revolved around. Some fans may be quick to label them as sell-outs, but we’re interpreting this pop-gold as something deeper. Could this change be Paramore’s biggest rebellion yet? We’re almost certain it is, and with that, we dare to say, After Laughter just may be the band’s biggest success thus far too.

After Laughter is the band’s first release with original drummer Zac Farro since his departure from the band in late 2010. If this doesn’t excite you in the least bit… we’re sorry. There have always been accusations surrounding Paramore (the painful ‘break-up letter’ written by guitarist Josh Farro upon his departure, the legal battle that came when bassist Jeremy Davis left in 2016) that once painted the group as ‘Hayley Williams and some other lesser-important dudes’ though After Laughter proves and puts to shame the naysayers. The incredible talent surrounding the percussion alone on this album would never have been possible without Farro’s return alongside guitarist/instrumentalist Taylor York (although we’re sure Hayley and a number of other friends outstretched a helping hand). Paramore has followed in a direction many artists have flirted with towards the beloved and playful ‘80s pop. Though, so few artists have pulled off the resurrected sound as well as Paramore has in their newest release.

Despite the obvious lack of that in-your-face rockstar energy, there is a new energy bubbling from After Laughter that draws in the listener from the album’s first track and single, “Hard Times.” Frontwoman Hayley William’s voice has always been incomparably strong. Her voice can be pushed to the limit, hitting high notes most others can only squeak out and back down to the baritones, bass, and contralto without losing any of its clarity and strength. After Laughter will take you through a journey – we can only imagine some of the band’s influences towards the lyrics in a few of the tracks, with yet again another publicized lineup change – while most songs sound upbeat and happy, the darker lyrics (see the chorus in “Rose-Colored Boy,” “Idle Worship,” and “Forgiveness”) tease with a reoccurring theme of wanting to stay sad if you want to, ignoring the pressure of a happier lifestyle, growing up and ultimately deciding for yourself the person you want to be.

Another obvious change is the aesthetic shift leaning towards the ‘80s pop and the popular new wave electronica that can be heard in nearly each track, fitting in place with pieces and memories of a younger, adored version of Paramore. Even the bright colors have returned – who remembers back to the early Riot!days whenParamore played Warped Tour in matching red pants? We’re talking 10 years ago.  As previously mentioned, After Laughter is not the first time Paramore have dipped their toes in a new current. “Ain’t It Fun” was the perfect blend between the ‘original’ Paramore in their recognizable identity while floating towards a new direction in sound. How exactly do you follow up the Grammy-awarded track? Paramore seems to know exactly how. The self-titled album seems to have been a bridge between the old and new, though the sugary-sweet hooks and bouncy, playful synths can’t fool us into believing all of Paramore’s worries are behind them. At a glance and superficial, inattentive listen, the album seems all sunshine, rainbows, and puppy dogs. Though there is an unmistakable seriousness to the lyrics in the album, although we’re almost certain it is meant to be brushed off a shoulder and forgiven if the real message blows over your head due to being swept up in just how much fun the album is to sing and dance along to. There is almost a sense of inspirational emotional release in Williams’ bold and honest frustrations, the futile optimism, anxiety and all-around unforgiving angst yet defiantly happy theme that has been such a success for Paramore throughout the years. It is an album with a message, in the simplest terms – when the going gets tough, the tough get going – to encourage us all to smile in times of absolute despair, the fight-back kicking and screaming sentiment being a reoccurring one for some time with Paramore.

Since the release, the band has taken to social media to express that with After Laughter comes a sense of pride they have yet to reach as a band. We can only imagine the conversations leading up to the return of original drummer Zac Farro and relocating the dynamic that made you so desperate to be a band in the first place. Track-by-track from the very beginning “Hard Times” is an immediate attention-grabber with its retro tropical club vibes and it’s paired neon/pastel colored music video with doodles and overlays that take us back to the “Saved By The Bell” opening credits. Whether you interpret Williams’ chant as “And I got to get to rock bottom” or the argued “Not gonna get to rock bottom” — the message stays the same in proving that even through hard times, somehow against all odds, you’ll still survive. 

“Rose-Colored Boy” is our personal favorite off the album. Why? From the opening cheerleader-like chants in the beginning to the infectious chorus with lyrics “Just let me cry a little bit longer / I ain’t gon’ smile if I don’t want to / Hey man, we all can’t be like you / I wish we were all rose-colored too…” we dare you to not get this upbeat hit stuck in your head. Our guess? When Paramore’s self-titled was released, Williams eventually admitted the heartfelt “Hate To See Your Heart Break” was written for none other than guitarist Taylor York – if we had to give our expert opinion, we’d place a bet on Hayley admitting in the future that this track is also about the optimistic Taylor York who has always been seen shedding light on even the darkest Paramore days. 

“Told You So” was released as the band’s second single before the album was fully released — featuring a music video with the trio in matching red getups and a car ride full of “what the heck is going on?” moments. The song itself begins with the hard-hitting lyrics “For all I know / The best is over and the worst is yet to come” which tip-toes to the previously mentioned hardships Paramore has publicly faced with the change in band members over the years. The song then leds into a repeated chant-like “Throw me into the fire / Throw me in, pull me out again” which we hope was an intentional reference to a phoenix-esque new beginning, meaning even if Paramore are burned and thrown into a fire, they’ll be pulled out whole and anew and better than ever before as shown with After Laughter

It’s hard to speculate who exactly “Forgiveness” could be about even with the loss in band members. The song itself is a bit softer than the previous on the record, and while the song talks about being unable to forgive someone just yet, there is a heartbreaking lyrics that begins the second verse, “There’s still a thread that runs from your body to mine / you can’t break what you don’t see, an invisible line” giving a love-song type feel to this emotional track that leaves it haunting and resonates even after you’ve gone on and listened to the rest of the album. 

“Fake Happy” is the anthem our generation was waiting for. The track begins with a washed-out sounding Hayley Williams and an acoustic, slow, toe-tapping washroom recording that sounds similar to the interludes included in the band’s prior release. The song is just as you’d imagine, about making everyone believe you’re as happy as you seem even though you’re just pretending. The playful lyrics include a line we can all relate to: “And if I go out tonight, dress up my fears / You think I’ll look alright with these mascara tears?” which gives a nod back to Paramore’s emo days but in all reality, they hit the nail on the head with this one and everyone’s facade of being blissfully happy. 

“26” may be the softest track on the record, but the meaning is anything but. The emotional lyrics repeat the lines “Hold onto hope if you got it / Don’t let it go for nobody / They say that dreaming is free / I wouldn’t care what it costs me” – it is a perfectly placed track amidst all the higher-tempo bubbly numbers, though the uniqueness shines through, reminding us of the unforgettable tracks on previous released, “Last Hope” and “When It Rains.” 

It wouldn’t quite be a Paramore album without a skillfully written love song in disguise. “Pool” plays the part with ease, the entire song embodying that feeling of being underwater and just seconds away from drowning… the overwhelmingness that comes hand-in-hand with falling in love… and despite feeling like you might die, if you survive, you willingly dive back in. “I’m underwater with no air in my lungs / My eyes are open, I’m done giving up / You are the wave I could never tame / If I survive, I’ll dive back in.” 

“Grudges” appears to follow in the footsteps of earlier angst tracks such as “Playing God” or “Brick By Boring Brick” with a happier ending as Hayley sings the questions of if her faults are being recounted and who in the party has changed. The final verse begins “And if you wanna call me up or come over / Come on we’ll laugh til we cry / Like we did when we were kids” does this hint we’ll see original lead guitarist Josh Farro return alongside brother and band mates? Possibly. Or it could be about any number of fall-outs the band has faced, including Zac’s own return. 

“Caught In The Middle” is a slower tempo, yet just as enthusiastic number that mimics the theme of day dreaming and facing reality and being stuck in some place between. The hook “No I don’t need no help / I can sabotage me by myself / Don’t need no one else / I can sabotage me by myself” is guaranteed fun as it begs to be screamed along to… and I’m sure fans will agree that we can’t wait for the chance once Paramore hits the road. 

“Idle Worship” has already been catching a lot of praise from Paramore fans who were quick to check this number off as their favorite. Hayley’s voice comes off rushed and playful as she sings “Don’t hold your breath, I never said I’d save you, honey” and urges the listenter to put their faith in something more. This track is dripping with remnants from Brand New Eyes as the lyrics point out flaws and inevitable falls from pedestals in such a personal way, it’s hard not to fall in love even with such pushing-away lyrics.

“No Friend” continues the theme of hating to let someone down. The song itself begins with several minutes of a repeated riff with spoken words from Aaron Weiss that are begged to be read as we struggle to hear him over the hypnotic instrumental. What can be heard clearly? “I’m no savior of yours / You’re no friend of mine.” The track almost seems unfitting with the rest of the album, but we’re hoping the energetic speech gets used as a new intro/outro on tour. 

“Tell Me How” closes out the album with a piano and a raw, less-touched up version of Hayley’s chilling vocals. The song picks up pace with the chorus “Tell me how to feel about you now / Oh, let me know / Do I suffocate or let go?” It is the perfect end to an album with such a powerful message of new beginnings, the end of friendships, forgiveness and rekindling relationships. The final words are a spoken verse in a washed-out far-away echo where Hayley says “You don’t have to tell me / I can still believe” – leaving hope for us all. 

Overall, we may have been surprised with Paramore’s change in sound, but it was a pleasant one. We’ve given the album several listen-throughs and with each, we find more details to love. Is it safe to say we give it a 10/10? What about you guys? Love it or hate it? Let us know. 

The Maine’s latest Lovely Little Lonely is just that and more!

Which is why there is no surprise that their sixth studio release, the highly anticipated Lovely Little Lonely, is already becoming a fan-favorite as they make room on their shelves for the beloved new record. The band are currently on a world tour, where they made a stop in San Francisco at The Great American Music Hall on the release day of their record. Today, the album turns just a week old, and if you haven’t already, you can stream the album below and check out our review (we’ll try to keep it brief) of this amazing release. 

After celebrating their 10 Year Anniversary of being a band, it is no surprise that The Maine would know exactly how to hype up an album. Back in 2015 the band released their American Candy album, which launched an unforgettable era for the band’s 8123 cult-equivalent fans/family. They powered through 2015 promoting the album, giving back to the fans with a Free-For-All tour in which they played smaller venues in not-so-commonly played cities throughout the United States entirely for free! If you’re not already familiar with The Maine, this kind of kindness isn’t a rarity, these guys are the real deal. 

Which is why there is no surprise that their sixth studio release, the highly anticipated Lovely Little Lonely, is already becoming a fan-favorite as they make room on their shelves for the beloved new record. The band are currently on a world tour, where they made a stop in San Francisco at The Great American Music Hall on the release day of their record. Today, the album turns just a week old, and if you haven’t already, you can stream the album below and check out our review (we’ll try to keep it brief) of this amazing release. 

Also, be sure if you like what you hear, to purchase the album from whatever source you prefer. Itunes, Amazon, physical copies and more can be obtained on their official site! 

 

LOVELY LITTLE LONELY 

01. Don’t Come Down

The album begins with an upbeat track in The Maine’s typical fashion (American Candy began with the fade-in twang of a guitar on their opening track “Miles Away,” a concept that seems pretty prevalent as you look back with opening numbers to previous releases through the years – “Take What You Can Carry,” “Don’t Stop Now” etc). 

The first words you hear is a “here’s to now…and nothing else” six words we feel are the perfect opener for any new chapter in a band’s life. the track goes on to a chorus that repeats the lines “in this moment I could die with you,” it’s a track about not being able to be reached when you’re in an euphoric high. For a band that embraces the ‘emo’ it’s almost comical how positive and optimistic the band’s underlying messages are (in a good way, we promise!) 

It’s almost impossible not to tap your feet and dance around to this track which gives us serious Third Eye Blind (we’re thinking “Never Let You Go”) vibes. 

02. Bad Behavior

The album effortlessly bleeds into this track, the first released single from the album. This was the first taste fans got of The Maine’s new music and what can we say that hasn’t been said about this hard-hitting number? 

A song about falling in love with one of those bad girls… the lyrics are almost as fun as the guitar riffs you can hear underneath O’Callaghan’s underrated vocals. This is another party track and we can fully understand why the band chose this as their first single. It embodies the fun, carefree nature the band has given since day one. “I think I know you’re bad for me,” the lyrics repeat, but there’s no hint of stopping anyway. 

03. Lovely 

Things slow down just a tad as music notes twinkle into this filler track, which may only be 30 seconds long, but it’s almost sacrilegious to listen to the album on shuffle and not listen to the beautiful talent and thought that went into compiling this album as this track fuses together Bad Behavior and the next…

04. Black Butterflies & Deja Vu 

Here’s another track that was released before the album itself, and the positive feedback was in full force, like a tsunami washing over the fandom. It’s difficult for us to pick a sole favorite from the album, but we can easily say this one is up there. 

An almost exasperated-sounding O’Callaghan begins the song with “what would you say if you could say everything you needed to, to the one you needed to.” The high energy song is unlike other’s in the sense that as the chorus hits, the music dies down to just O’Callaghan, a piano and soft guitar, really solidifying his vocals before picking back up with the upbeat full percussion, bass and guitar riffs. 

At about 2 minutes in to the song, there’s a guitar solo that has just the right amount of twang, the track having almost an under-the-sea kind of vibe… Less The Little Mermaid and more of a nod to their album art, which shows hands reaching under water, like when the music overwhelms and surrounds you. It’s hard to explain, but do yourself a favor and play the track. You’ll understand. At 2:30, drummer Pat Kirch builds back up the energy to close the track out with John O’Callaghan practically screaming the lyrics – the song being an ode to all of us who have struggled to find the right words when talking to the right girl (or boy, but we couldn’t resist the plug for their former song). 

05. Taxi

Maybe it’s the fact that they use the adjective ‘punch-drunk’ but our first take on this track was something The Summer Set may have recorded (who could forget their Punch Drunk track) – but as this song unfolds, it is inarguably and undeniably The Maine, one-hundred percent.

“In the backseat, when you asked me, ‘is the sadness everlasting?’ I pulled you closer, looked at you and said, ‘Love, I think it is.’ 

These are the kinds of lyrics you expect from a self-labeled ‘emo’ band, but the song itself isn’t sad at all. This track crept it’s way into our hearts. The acoustic guitar and powerful instruments pair beautifully with the message behind the lyrics… that there will be sadness, but you don’t have to face it alone. 

06. Do You Remember? (Other Half of 23) 

Is it just us who envisions a time in the not-so-distant past of men in bell bottoms and platform shoes just sort of sashaying down the sidewalk while this track plays? Yeah? It is? Okay, we can accept that.

There’s something vintage sounding about this track but in the best way. Another fun track that probably doesn’t have the most positive story behind the lyrics (we’re getting that kind of ‘hey do you remember when we said forever? because you’ve changed) but yet, it’s disguised by the upbeat, high energy, all-around bubbly vibe the song emits. Which, in our opinion, is the best kind of ‘fuck you’ song; the kind that the listener wouldn’t even register unless they really listened.

07. Little

Here’s another one of those ‘quick filler’ tracks that would make the album a bit less powerful because these 70 seconds perfectly merge together the track before and after. Unlike “Lovely,” this track has O’Callaghan murmuring words…can anyone make out what he’s saying?

08. The Sound Of Reverie

Have we given our claim to a favorite track yet? No? Can we put a tick mark next to this one, too? This song also gives us those Third Eye Blind feels (maybe it’s safe to plug that to the album in it’s entirety, which we hope comes off as big of a compliment as we mean it). This song is a bit more clear in meaning, with lyrics such as “don’t blink, because you will and when you open up your eyes again you may not recognize a friend” which is a sentiment too many of us are familiar with. The song also claims to how we may not be seventeen anymore but that doesn’t mean we’re too old to enjoy life… “we’re still young, so…” the song repeats. 

We take it as our own little anthem that people change, situations change and if you blink, you may not recognize yourself or those you once called a friend… so enjoy the moment! Don’t take everything too seriously, not to where it’s preventing you from enjoying life in the moment. We may not be seventeen, but we won’t be young forever! Enjoy it while it lasts.

09. Lost In Nostalgia 

Who else really loves the repeated do’s in this track? Coming in at just over a minute and a half, this is a simple track. Do you get lost in nostalgia? We all do at some point. It’s not too late, the song promises. Just as mentioned in the previous sentiment: it’s not too late. 

10. I Only Wanna Talk To You

Another track which quickly became a fan favorite – how could it not? This song was also featured in the band’s exclusive acoustic compilation of a few of the songs, but acoustic or not, this love-song is the perfect wind down to the album. The song itself is a little slower than the rest, but don’t let that fool you. It doesn’t at all distract from the impact the song has. Dare we compare the opening riffs to an Oasis vibe? 

“The only thing I’m really sure of… I’m unsure of most everything…” this is one of those tracks which can effortlessly paint a picture as you listen to it. We’re getting two lovers in a packed up car, driving probably somewhere in the middle of an Arizona dessert to get out of a forsaken town, to better and bigger dreams, together. The repeated chorus lyrics “I only wanna talk to you” – it’s another sentiment of a place we’ve all been. It works both ways, when you’re feeling so low, or so high, that only the most special person in your life can understand it. 

At about 3:30 as the song prepares for the end, you can hear back up vocals from Kennedy Brock paired with O’Callaghan that vibe the impression of a desperate, “I need you” vibe. When you really only want to talk to that person in your life who can make it all better. It’s a simple enough song, but trust us, you’ll want to listen to this on repeat because of how powerful the track is. 

11. Lonely

This wraps up the three tracks pulled from the album’s title. Though this one is unlike it’s two predecessors, in that the song is more than just a minute of soft noise. It still bleeds in from the track before, each of the songs effortlessly coming together to create the album. 

Though as the piano plays, O’Callaghan begins singing, “I remember feeling weightless in the deeper end and drowning in the fear again…” remember when we pointed out the album art? This song perfectly brings together the band’s vision of the album. The lyrics of this song go on to repeat the very powerful, hopeful message, ‘but then it all turned around…’ even as the song fades out to what sounds like waves crashing on the shore. It’s a message to fans who need it the most: even when you feel like you’re drowning, that the “lovely little loneliness” is weighing you down, there’s a way out. And things will get better. 

12. How Do You Feel?

“Dearly depressed and broken hearted…” the song begins. An anthem to all fellow ‘emos.’ This final track to the album is another top favorite of ours, as this upbeat track features lyrics which repeat the vibe from the album. “Are you free? Or are you in sorrow?” The questions come before a chorus which tells fans, “You are alive, but are you living?” — it’s a song daring us all to live a little bit more. With lines such as “whatever it is, make sure that it’s real,” it’s hard not to take this song as a challenge to do something and make sure you’re making the most of your life.

This song is begging to be felt and as these final seconds of the album play out, we can only reflect on what a perfect ending track this is to the entire feel of the album. These twelve songs are perfectly compiled to take you through a journey, reminding you there is life out there for you to live! 

Lovely Little Lonely leaves little to be desired, because the album gives you everything you could have expect and wanted from The Maine. We’re beyond excited for this new chapter in the band’s life as we congratulate them for their previous 10 years and hope for 10 more happy, successful years as a band.

What else can we say? To label this album as ‘perfection’ seems a bit anti-climatic, but no other words come close to just what a great release this is. 

 

FAVORITE TRACKS: Again, it would be a bit cheesy to say ‘all of them’ but put a check mark next to “How Do You Feel?,” “Taxi,” “The Sound of Reverie,” and really the nine remaining tracks too. Fuck it. All of them. 

 

FOR MORE INFO ON THE MAINE:

https://www.themaineband.com/ 

http://instagram.com/themaineband

https://twitter.com/themaine

I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love

The Ready Set release their fourth full-length album titled, I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love. Alongside the release of the songs themselves are a visual album featured on YouTube where you can watch and listen to the album in it’s entirety. Allow Jordan Witzigreuter to take you on a bubbly, amiable adventure, track-by-track. 

In just one week, The Ready Set will be embarking on their North American spring tour, Waking Up 2016, with EMBLEM3. If this line-up isn’t already on your radar, you’ll want to mark your calendar so you don’t miss out. The tour kicks off in Minneapolis on May 12th for the first of the twenty-four scheduled shows. Tickets and more information can be found here

If you haven’t already picked up a copy of The Ready Set’s latest album titled, I Will Be Nothing Without Your Love, you have no excuse. This is the fourth full-length album from The Ready Set, whose first EP, titled Syntax and Bright Lights, was released in 2007. Nearly ten years later and this electro-pop act presents us with the album we’ve all unknowingly been waiting for. 

The twelve track album can be picked up on iTunes or ordered directly on the band’s official site. Though, by far the coolest aspect is the visual full-length streaming you can catch via Hopeless Records’ YouTube channel, posted here or you can watch below.

Allow lead singer, Jordan Witzigreuter to take you on a bubbly, amiable adventure, track-by-track. It begins with a video for opening track, “Disappearing Act” which features Witzigreuter in a pure white, minimalist room contrasting his colorful hair and co-stars, doused in the brightest hues. As we progress on, each video is full of color, paired perfectly with the carefully crafted beats that venture away from the emo pop The Ready Set was once known for and embraces a more positive sound. Electronics play alongside the minimal guitar and drums in arrangements that hit hard. Many fans compare his music to songs from the ‘80s as well as The 1975 but Witzigreuter is in a league of his own. 

The majority of the tracks are high-hitting, catchy, feel good songs. It is impossible to not consider a hidden theme to the album, especially while watching Witzigreuter’s carefree dancing mirrored throughout the videos, usually behind a fox mask like the one featured on the album’s artwork. When asked about the meaning behind the album title, Witzigreuter states, “To me it is a powerful statement in a sort of sad way. The album itself is a little less uplifting than some of my previous stuff, and maybe a bit more introspective.” This can be seen across tracks such as “Disappearing Act,” “Concrete,” and “No Love” which features vocals from Ansley Newman. 

Witzigreuter ends his statement with the powerful sentence:

“The title represents the realization that it’s never better to close yourself off and try to go through life alone. Everybody needs somebody.”

It’s definitely something to keep in mind while we explore the full length album, which ends on a high note of a beautiful piano ballad titled, “See You.” The video itself seems like the perfect end to a near-perfect album. In the same way the opening act is white, bright and full of color, this ending track seems to convey a type of curtains closing appeal. 

The video is dark; a single spotlight shining behind Jordan whose hair has been stripped of all color we see in the first video. Lyrics such as ‘Cause we don’t just flicker and fade / With love, nobody’s gone forever / I’ll see you when you get there’ resonate deep, tugging on the heartstrings of every listener. This inspiring and beautiful track is pure poetry. The lyrics perfectly convey Witzigreuter’s explanation of everybody needing somebody, giving the hope that no one person is alone. The album ends with the words, ‘I’ll see you when you get there’ a powerful and positive message despite claims that this album is a little less uplifting than The Ready Set’s previous work. 

The Waking Up 2016 will hit both coasts, making their stop in the Bay Area next month (June 14th at The Fillmore to be exact) and closing out with a two-night feature in Los Angeles on June 17th and 18th. If you were a fan of The Ready Set during their platinum-selling era of ‘Love Like Woe’ or hit off of The Bad & The Better, ‘Give Me Your Hand (Best Song Ever)’ you will not be disappointed in where the band has taken it’s sound with their new record. 

Tickets and full details to catch The Ready Set on tour are listed here.