A Day To Remember – You’re Welcome Album Review

It’s album review time!! This week I’m digging into the seventh record from Pop-Punk/Metalcore schizos A Day To Remember.

Having followed this band’s music for close to a decade and a half, discussing it comes so naturally that I barely needed any notes in front of me for the shoot. Needless to say, those are my favorite videos to make! And ADTR took their material in some surprising new directions for this one, so there was a lot to get into.

Check out the full review here:

September 2016 Album Round Up!

Since I was three years old – to put that in context, since BEFORE the world witnessed Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio bang on the Titanic and her subsequent refusal to share a rather spacious floating door, choosing instead to let him die – this was the first non-Summer month that I have not spent in a classroom. That’s almost 20 years of steady structure tossed out the fucking window. It’s almost surreal, but in the immortal words of Blink-182, “I guess this is growing up.” And growing up meant that in September 2016 I was busier than I have ever been, working and interning for absurd hours, scrambling to find time for quality, in-depth listens of all of these new records, and trying to somehow squeeze out a social life and some gym hours. The whole listening-to-new-music thing worked out reasonably well, although the true release mayhem came RIGHT on September 30th, so I’m still catching my breath. But I’ve got a bunch of great stuff to recommend! Enjoy my ramblings, and hope you’re all looking forward to October as much as I am – it’s gonna be fucking STACKED!

Bad Vibrations – A Day To Remember

This Metalcore/Pop-Punk band’s last effort – 2013’s Common Courtesy – is one of my favorite albums ever. So I didn’t expect Bad Vibrations to meet that high water mark. In the end, I’m walking away feeling positive yet slightly underwhelmed. The first half of this LP is packed with some of ADTR’s best material to date, like “Bullfight”, “Naviety” (showcasing their poppier side), and the title track (showcasing their more aggressive side), but there are a few duds and filler tracks in the latter half (“Turn Off the Radio”, “Forgive and Forget”, “We Got This”) weighing it down. Here is a full review. RECOMMENDED

Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight – Travis Scott

I was a bit late to the Travis Scott party, so the peculiarly titled Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight is the first time I’m experiencing his new music alongside the rest of the world. Scott’s hugely hyped sophomore full-length is not perfect, but it’s PACKED with bangers, and it’s been my go-to party album for the entire month. Particular highlights include “Coordinate”, “Goosebumps”, “Pick Up the Phone”, and “Through the Late Night”, the latter of which is the best thing Kid Cudi has been involved with in over half a decade. Between Birds and Young Thug’s Jeffery project last month, Hip-Hop is incredibly turnt right now. RECOMMENDED

Winter’s Gate – Insomnium 

I haven’t disliked a single album from these Finnish Melodeath masters, but “Winter’s Gate” is special. It’s a conceptual behemoth that meets the highest of Melodic Death Metal standards without ever getting ahead of itself. Along with Be’Lakor’s excellent Vessels LP this past June, Winter’s Gate proves that this style of Metal is as vital as it ever has been. You might see this one again when the time comes for “Best Albums of 2016” discussions. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Natural Causes – Skylar Grey

For her second album as Skylar Grey, the “Love the Way You Lie” songstress took a bold leap from the cookie cutter Pop of 2013’s Don’t Look Down into something much more spacey and ethereal. I was psyched about the transition and wanted more than anything to be blown away by the whole record, but in reality, I fell in love with a handful of tracks and could take or leave the rest. Here is a full review. RECOMMENDED

Yellowcard – Yellowcard

Even though they’re one of my all-time favorites, Yellowcard’s swansong left me indifferent. There are some flashes of the Yellowcard that I grew up loving, but the track list suffers from what I call “ballad syndrome” – of 11 songs, 5 or 6 of them venture into ballad territory. That’s not ok for a Pop-Punk album, or any album for that matter. These slow cuts aren’t terrible, but it makes for a strange and uneven listen. Rather than going out with a bang or a whimper, Yellowcard went out with a polite wave goodbye. Here is a full review. NOT RECOMMENDED

The Atrocity Exhibition – Danny Brown

On his fourth project, Danny Brown is once again an utterly singular Hip-Hop artist, from his unmistakable delivery, to his slightly avant-garde production, to his eccentric, drug-riddled storytelling. Don’t be fooled by his abrasive persona though; the guy can rap his ass off. Just check the gritty “Lost” or the star-studded “Really Doe”, the latter of which finds Brown holding his own with heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt. On second thought, scratch that “Really Doe” analysis, ‘cause “heavyweight” now describes Danny Brown too – he’s not only at the top of HIS game, he’s one of the most compelling rappers on the planet right now.

Creatures Watching Over the Dead – Charred Walls of the Damned

 Richard Christy, Steve DiGiorgio, Jason Suecof, and Tim “Ripper” Owens fire up their Metal supergroup again for album number three. This is BY FAR my favorite record of theirs. Hearing Ripper’s soaring, melodic vocals over some legitimately heavy riffs is particularly refreshing – I don’t know about you, but I get tired of the same throat-gurgling screams over everything. I love to hear a singer with old school PIPES, and the ex-Judas Priest frontman really brings it here. The melodies don’t stop at Ripper either – the track “Lies” is sent off with an ultra poppy riff and a sugary guitar solo that sounds like a Pop-Punk band got parachuted into a Metal anthem. Elsewhere, shit can get crushingly heavy (“The Soulless”), technically dazzling (Jason Suecof’s harmonized lead in “Tear Me Down”), and even thoughtful (“My Eyes”).The songs aren’t ALWAYS there, but the mastery these veterans exhibit over the genre is a true joy to listen to. RECOMMENDED

The Altar – Banks

Banks sophomore LP is a noticeable improvement over Goddess, her super hyped but slightly underwhelming debut. Plodding moments like “To the Hilt” and “Poltergeist” hurt the track list in its latter stages, but I’ll be damned if there’s aren’t some bonafide Alt-Pop smashes on here. “Gemini Feed” has proven to be a wise choice for a single, and “Trainwreck” continues in a similar vein. “This Is Not About Us” veers more toward the Electro-Pop route, while “Fuck With Myself” contains explicit Hip-Hop nods – the latter a display of swaggering attitude previously absent in Banks’ music. She’s definitely headed in the right direction; in the future, I’d love to see her further explore the edgier side that she began to tap into with The Altar. RECOMMENDED

The Divine Feminine – Mac Miller

Mac Miller’s best album to date is vulnerable, sensual, and loosely conceptual, dealing almost exclusively with love, sex, relationships, and women. Never an MC who could quite carry a full-length on his own, Mac leans on his talented guests with the perfect amount of weight, whether it’s Anderson .Paak on the fun and upbeat “Dang!”, Ty Dolla $ign on the DJ Dahi-produced “Cinderella” (the LP’s best song by far), Kendrick Lamar on the closer “God Is Fair Sexy Nasty”, or his boo thang Ariana Grande on “My Favorite Part”. I am beyond impressed with Mac’s wholehearted commitment to exploring, developing and delivering something totally different from the rest of his catalogue. Love it or hate it, you’re unlikely to hear another Hip-Hop record quite like this one in 2016. RECOMMENDED

Sorceress – Opeth

It’s a crying shame that I haven’t had the time to give this album the full review treatment, but October’s going to be the busiest fucking month of the year and I don’t want to fall behind. It’s only been out for a week, but here are my two cents: if I want Still Life or Blackwater Park Opeth, I can continue to wear out those fucking records to death. I ENCOURAGE stylistic change, as long as the music is up to par. And Sorceress is easily the best of Opeth’s 2010s output – that dramatic, fan-dividing shift in Mikael’s vocal delivery finally feels at home amongst these proggy yet catchy tunes. At the time of the initial transition on 2011’s Heritage, it felt like career suicide, but Sorceress justifies the creative decisions Opeth have made these past few years. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Schmilco – Wilco

Wilco’s tenth album is delivered with the same modest indie spirit that I’ve associated with them since I first heard AM as a 14-year-old. Schmilco is laid back, chill as fuck, and most importantly, it’s folky without those big cheesy pop hooks vacuuming the life out of it (looking at you, Mumford & Sons, how’s it going?). It didn’t knock my world off its axis or anything, but it’s exactly what I anticipated. Can’t be mad at that. RECOMMENDED

 

June 3rd Singles: DJ Khaled, A Day to Remember, and More

The first Friday of June bombarded us with a dizzying amount of new music, particularly singles! Below I’ve written up five of them:

For Free (feat. Drake) – DJ Khaled

“Another one” indeed, Mr. Khaled. DJ Khaled and Drizzy’s ode to bedroom prowess caught me – and, well, the rest of the world – completely by surprise. Drake is a little over a month past his enormous Views campaign, yet he drops a one-off single that’s better than his entire album! While I do miss the Toronto MC putting effort into the technical side of his rhymes, I love the Kendrick reference in the opening verse, and just the overall snarling cockiness of the whole track. It’s rightfully simplistic and fun – you can practically feel the summer breeze oozing out of the speakers. That being said, among others questionable lyrics, one line I particularly can’t let slide is “you’re the only one who can fit it all in her mouth”. To me this nonsense yanks away the playful aspect of the theme and turns it into run-of-the-mill graphic Hip-Hop. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just really unnecessary. It’s been a long time since the chauvinist, controlling messages of Drake’s music resonated with me, but at least “For Free” is a genuine banger.

Bad Vibrations – A Day To Remember

So here we stand with the second leak from A Day To Remember’s sixth album Bad Vibrations, due out August 19th. This new single – the title cut and album opener – will be directly preceding first single “Paranoia” in the track list, which I discussed here. “Bad Vibrations”, however, leans way further toward Metal than “Paranoia – it’s less urgent and more forceful. Oddly enough, the pre-chorus of this track – with its hammering double bass and harsh vocal – jumped out at me as catchier than the angsty chorus (which I did warm up to after a few listens). Clearly tailored toward the live environment, the breakdown here (“toxic!”) is extreme predictable, with dissonant chords and stabbing syncopated rhythms, but stylistically, ADTR are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario, so it’s difficult to fault them for it. When the breakdowns go away, the kids start whining. When the breakdowns show up, they’re “played out”. But I digress. “Bad Vibrations” is nothing special or extraordinary, but ADTR are 2 for 2 with me! August 19th needs to hurry up!

Whatever, Wherever – Band of Horses

I’m so psyched to have Band of Horses back! Tomorrow the indie rockers will release their fifth album, “Why Are You Ok?”, and this single “Whatever, Wherever” indicates we might be in for more in the vein of Infinite Arms, in the best way possible. The clean guitar tone is gorgeous, the falsetto backing vocals in the chorus are addictive, and the drums add a gentle backbone. It’s another Band of Horses song tailor made for night drives full of those larger-than-life moments – the ones where you gaze up at the sky and come to terms with your insignificance.

Maybe IDK – Jon Bellion

Jon Bellion has built quite a buzz in both Hip-Hop and Pop through several mixtapes, his association with Logic and Visionary Music Group, and yes, that Zedd song “Beautiful Now”. Hip-Hop really is a twisted system when you need to put out years of free music just to earn the right to release your debut album. Which is a right Bellion has apparently earned, as his debut The Human Condition is set to drop tomorrow. Unfortunately “Maybe IDK”, the LP’s fourth single, is generic as hell. It could be One Republic. It could be Phillip Phillips. Who really knows, because it’s that hard to tell. And FOH with that clapping nonsense! Clapping sections RARELY come off as anything but impossibly corny. When are people going to get that through their heads?? Anyway, despite my distaste for this track, I’ll hold out for the album.

Is Anybody Out There?  – Machine Head

From out in left field we have the first music from Bay Area titans Machine Head in over a year and a half. Making headlines for the lyrical references to Phil Anselmo’s “white power” incident, “Is Anybody Out There?” is a decent single from a band capable of more. The dramatic intro, featuring piano and a lead guitar lick in the vein of “Judas Rising”, is a check in the “positive” column. As is frontman Robb Flynn’s impassioned vocal delivery, which compensates enormously for the somewhat bland chorus lyrics. He’s remarkably convincing, and feels like he’s pouring his heart into every syllable. But my major gripe is the cringeworthy pseudo-rapping in the verses, calling to mind the nightmare that was Machine Head’s Nu Metal ventures on The Burning Red. When Flynn utters “Let me tell you something” like a Hip-Hop ad lib before the first verse, I cringe every time. But otherwise, the thrashing riffs, assaulting drums, and gruff vocals are all there.

A Day To Remember’s “Paranoia” Single

Nearly two and a half years after Common Courtesy, and an impossibly ugly cage match with Victory Records over contract discrepancies, the world finally has new music from A Day To Remember – yeah, a whopping 3 minutes and 22 seconds, but still. It’s a single called “Paranoia”, which, while it has been made clear it doesn’t necessarily mark the beginning of an album cycle ramp-up, is exciting enough on its own.

2013’s Common Courtesy was, in this narcissist’s opinion, far away ADTR’s best record to date. Their fifth LP found the Ocala, FL quintet simultaneously mastering Pop-Punk and Metalcore – the Pop-Punk moments were livelier and the Metalcore moments were devastating (particularly on “Violence”…my God). So I guess after publicly squaring off with Victory over Common Courtesy, ADTR Records is still a thing. And the band has my wholehearted support. The way the industry is structured in 2016, with only a few independent labels for aggressive music still standing that haven’t been conglomerated, the more DIY shit you can pull off successfully, the better. But on to this new single “Paranoia”.

The tune kicks off with a bit of a volley between a dissonant guitar lick and markedly punk-y explosions of rhythm. It terms of power, adrenaline, and attitude, it wastes no time. Nor does it waste time arriving at the ultra-catchy chorus, which stitches together the frantic verses that surround it.

And like every ADTR studio effort from For Those Who Have Heart onward, “Paranoia” is a meticulously produced tidal wave of sound. The Thrash-informed breakdown is the particular highlight, with the chunky guitars, drums, and bass working in tandem in the mix rather than stepping on each other’s toes. While calling this tune “groundbreaking” in the ADTR world might get you laughed out of the room, it’s a powerful “we’re back” statement – nay, exclamation – that has me drooling at the thought of Common Courtesy’s follow-up.