Friday, August 24, 2012

VersaEmerge follow trends on new EP

VersaEmerge have always made great music. Their first EP had a post-hardcore sound before Sierra Kusterbeck took over as frontwoman. Once Kusterbeck was the singer their next releases sounded like Paramore and Evanescence wrote scores for movies, they were so original.
VersaEmerge have been hard at work on their second full length album for almost two years and earlier this month they released an EP entitled Another Atmosphere Preview, which features three songs from their upcoming album Another Atmosphere.
The three songs "No Consequences," "Bones" and "Domesticated" have rock oriented aspects but they are predominantly dance tracks. The band heavily use synthesisers on this album and few actual instruments. From the dubstep wobbles on the songs to the synthetic guitar solo on "Bones," this record is synthesized.
"No Consequences" contains a more rock sound with guitar chords and tons of attitude. The song is very different from the rest of the EP and is by far the best song. The song is about getting what you want and not caring what others think.
"Bones" is the next best song. The song also has dance-rock sound to it. "I want you to rest those bones over me," Kusterbeck sings seductively in the chorus. The song is far from as good as most of VersaEmerge's other songs but it's still a fun ride.
"Domesticated" is by far the worst song out of the three, mainly because the lyrics are cheesy as hell. The "piano" driven track is about not fitting into the mold and not being the girl that everybody wants Kusterbeck to be. It's clear in the song that Kusterbeck is not trying to fit the mold, yet why is her band following the dance music trend?
This dance music trend is ruining many good bands. VersaEmerge's new EP isn't bad in any sense, but it just doesn't stand up to their last album Fixed at Zero or their self-titled EP. Hopefully the rest of Another Atmosphere contains a more classic VersaEmerge sound. VersaEmerge are an example of a band who have tried to follow a trend and have lost what made them great in the first place.

The Gaslight Anthem redeem themselves with new album

Heartland punks The Gaslight Anthem recently released their fourth album Handwritten and after their last album, American Slang, Handwritten is a breath of fresh air. The band mixes folk, punk and heartland rock into their music
The songs on Slang weren't bad but when compared to their previous album, The '59 Sound. That album, especially the title track, was just phenomenal. The album didn't have a dull moment and it kept listeners wanting more. Then American Slang came out and it thought it was a better album than it really was. The record was bland and most of the songs tended to blend together.
Handwritten brings the band back to their strength. The songs are catchy and emotional and they pack a punk-rock punch.
The title track is the best song on the record. With a loud rock sound and addictive melody it's everything that The Gaslight Anthem do great. Each song is emotional and the band really know how to tug at the heartstrings of the listener. The lyrics of each song are relateable and singer Brian Fallon knows how to work his voice to make the listener truly feel what he is singing.
Other highlights include "Here Comes My Man," "Biloxi Parish" and the lead single "45." Each song on the album leaves the listener not wanting each song to end, yet wanting so badly to hear the next gem and delve deeper into Fallon's soul.
Handwritten is sure to keep The Gaslight Anthem's loyal fans happy, get them new ones and bring back disgruntled fans who were let down by American Slang. This album solidifies The Gaslight Anthem's place as one of the best bands punk bands out there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sister Sin, make same song over and over again

Old-school metal band Sister Sin released the first single from their much-pushed-back third album Now and Forever entitled "End of the Line." The song is a good song but they've done it before. Their debut album Switchblade Serenades had a little bit of variety. Most of the songs on that album were fast paced hard rocking songs but there were also songs like the title track which were midtempo and sexy.
Their second record True Sound of the Underground contained 11 of the same song. They really aren't about anything at all. Being bad ass and fighting the norm seem to be what most Sister Sin songs are about. The main thing that make this band so appealing is that they are so energetic and fun. Not to mention the fact that front woman Liv Jagrell is a beast at singing. She has such a great voice that she can work the same tired formula and make it interesting again.
"End of the Line" is a fun ride, but we've taken that ride before. The lyrics are even similar to their single "Sound of the Underground" off of their second record. While the album will probably be enjoyable if Sister Sin want to keep their fans they'd better switch things up if not for this album then for record number four.

Neon Hitch shines on new single

Neon Hitch is one of the next generation of quirky pop stars who blend dance, pop, hip hop and rock into one weird blend of pop music. Her single "Bad Dog" was arguably the most overlooked song of 2011. Hitch has been featured on "Follow Me Down" by 3OH!3 and the mega hit "Ass Back Home" by Gym Class heroes. She also wrote "Blah Blah Blah" with Ke$ha and songs for Friday Night Boys and Sky Ferreira.
Hitch plans to release her debut album Beg, Borrow and Steal this year and this past week she released her new single "Gold" which features Tyga. "Gold" is a dance-pop number that is so upbeat and catchy that it'll be stuck in heads for days. The song, co-written by Bruno Mars, is about how her lover "shines like gold" and while the lyrics are cheesy, it's cute. She seems truly enamoured with her lover and with her beautiful, distinctive voice the listener can truly tell that she means every word she says.
The only drawback of the song is the rap by Tyga. It just doesn't seem to go with the rest of the song. If she released this song with somebody more well known then maybe the rap would be helpful but Tyga is no Kanye West or Nicki Minaj so his verse could just be erased.
The song is proof that Hitch has what it takes to make a hit and if she makes more songs like this than she's sure to get huge.

New Pierce The Veil album kicks ass

Pierce The Veil have always been known for their more experimental sound. The post-hardcore sound of their early albums has always had an experimental rock undertone. Their last two albums had some phenomenal songs on them but the records fell short as a whole because they weren't filled with amazing songs. On their third album Collide with the Sky, Pierce The Veil completely improve their sound. The band have mixed in a bit more of a metalcore influence on the record.
While the album is hardly a straight up metalcore record, certain songs such as the lead single and one of the band's best songs on the album, if not ever "King For A Day" which features Sleeping With Sirens frontman Kellin Quinn. The song features loads of unclean vocals by both frontman Vic Fuentes and Quinn. Both of the singers also contribute clean vocals to the song.
Another album highlight is "Hell Above." The song is a fast paced rocker that gets the album off to a good start after the haunting intro "May These Noises Startle You In Your Sleep Tonight." The song features Fuentes screaming muffled before erupting into a breakdown before transitioning into "Hell Above." The entire album flows together to form a string of 12 great songs as opposed to being broken up by filler tracks like their first two albums.
Other highlights include "Props & Mayhem" and "Hold On Till May," which features Lindsey Stamey from Oh No Fiasco and "The First Punch" which is the most metal sounding song on the record. Fuentes goes frantically between singing and screaming on the tracks with such ease that the listener barely hears his breath.
Pierce The Veil have etched themselves a place in the post-hardcore scene as an experimental, emotional band with this album. This band are sure to only get better as their career goes along.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Taylor Swift outdoes herself on new single

Taylor Swift has two kinds of songs; the cheesy love song ("Love Story," Enchanted") to the cheesy breakup song ("Picture To Burn," "Forever & Always") and her latest song is her one of her best songs ever. After two albums that were half amazing songs and half annoying songs, Swift released her third and greatest album Sparks Fly. That album was truly amazing and it also exposed Swift to other kinds of music. She incorporated pop and rock elements into her music, they were always there but she put them to the forefront on that record.
This week Swift released the first single off of her fourth album, Red. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is far from the usual country that Swift usually releases. The song, about an ex trying to get back with her is straight up pop, sounding more like Avril Lavigne than any of her previous work. She wrote the song with pop master Max Martin.
The song is a midtempo, acoustic guitar filled song with a catchy chorus that will be sure to be the breakup anthem of the year. The lyrics are don't come off as bitter or angry, but they show her confidence. She shows her ex no malice but she just can't give him a second shot. "I'm really gonna miss you picking fights. And me, falling for it screaming that I'm right. And you, would hide away and find your piece of mind, with some Indie record that's so much cooler than mine," Swift sings in the second chorus.
While Swift always makes cheesy, immature lyrics, the honesty with which she sings them is just too cute and that is what makes her so likeable. Not to mention that when you're upset at your boyfriend or girlfriend, you go to cheesy songs. Her songs are easily relateable and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is no different. This song will do big things for Swift and it's a sign that Red may just be her best record yet.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ronnie Radke got arrested.

Hero of many a pathetic teenage girl and Falling In Reverse frontman has been arrested on charges of domestic battery. His girlfriend told police that he allegedly beat her. The warrant for his arrest was issued on May 1, 2012 but because of his band's run on the Vans Warped Tour, Radke wasn't arrested until August 6, the day after Warped Tour ended.
Radke was the original lead vocalist for Escape The Fate but when he got convicted for his role in the death of a fan. His band then replaced him with Craig Mabbitt who was in blessthefall at the time while he was in prison and then he started Falling In Reverse. The band sing a lame mix of pop-punk, hardcore and hard rock, yet they've managed to gain a huge amount of popularity with their debut album The Drug In Me Is You. The record is full of annoying sing songy tunes about being betrayed by his former bandmates.
While the band aren't untalented and some of their songs do have good moments, they just try to hard. They have one song, "Goodbye Graceful" that is simply amazing. It's the heaviest song on which Ronnie employs his harsh vocals during most of the song while he sings the chorus. If Falling In Reverse made more songs like this, they wouldn't suck.
The only reason people like this band is because of the hype surrounding Radke and his legal woes of the past. If he wasn't "that guy who used to be in Escape The Fate who killed somebody and wrote Falling In Reverse's album in prison," half the people who "love" him and his band wouldn't care. They're nothing special.
But this isn't meant to be a rant on how much the band aren't good, it's an opinion piece of Radke and other musicians who face hard times. While some musicians with talent ruin their careers by overdosing and dying (Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston) or being bat shit crazy (Courtney Love), many musicians can get past the embarrassment.
Chris Brown was promising young R&B singer with a good voice when he turned himself in after the beating of his girlfriend at the time Rihanna. While many viewed Brown's career as over he has had several hit singles since then and despite public feuds with P!nk and Miranda Lambert regarding his domestic battery charges Rihanna collaborated with him on the remix to her single "Birthday Cake" and his song "Turn Up The Music." While he has lost the love and respect of many fans, he still has a successful music career.
Another, older example is R&B singer R. Kelly. In 2002 a video tape of Kelly urinating on and having sex with an allegedly underage girl surfaced on the internet. The singer was charged with child pornography, soliciting a minor for child pornography and sex with a minor. Despite the fact that charges were dropped and he was found not guilty for the rest this was still a damaging thing for Kelly. Yet the next year Kelly released an album that featured one of his biggest hits ever "Ignition (Remix)." Despite not having that many more hits after Kelly continues to release albums to moderate success.
Radke can save his career if he comes across as a victim which I'm sure is the direction he'll take. Radke and his overrated band have lots of fans who probably feel terrible for their underdog and they'll probably blame his girlfriend and make her a martyr amongst terrible scene kids across the nation. But my question is, is that okay?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Marina and the Diamonds release career defining album

Marina Diamandis, more commonly known by her stage name Marina and the Diamonds, released her second album Electra Heart last month and after her stellar debut album, The Family Jewels was released a few years back. Diamandis is at her best on this album and while her debut could be a little tedious, this album only has a few songs that don't live up.
The album opens with the best song of Diamandis' career as well as one of the best songs of this year "Bubblegum Bitch." The song is an uptempo dance-rock song and it introduces the concept of the album, following the life of Electra Heart. "Dear diary, I met a boy. He made my dull heart light up with joy. Dear diary, we fell apart. Welcome to the life of Electra Heart," Marina sings at the end of the second verse. "Bubblegum Bitch" is so successful because it exemplifies what the character Electra Heart is about. The right mix of sexuality, frustration and pure sadness.
Diamandis shines on other uptempo songs like "Sex Yeah" and the singles "Radioactive," "Primadonna" and "How To Be A Heartbreaker."
In addition to the faster songs, Diamandis shines on the ballads. "Lies" features dubstep inspired piano-filled beats and lyrics about knowing a lover is done with you but would rather lie to keep you happy instead of breaking her heart with the truth. Diamandis clearly knows that her lover has moved on emotionally but she'd rather him lie to her. The song is one of the best on the album.
Another ballad that shines is "Teen Idle." The song which is about the youth of today and calls to mind some of Lana Del Rey's best moments. "I wanna stay inside all day. I want the world to go away. I want blood, guts, and chocolate cake," Diamandis sings in the pre-chorus. This song is what Diamandis does best. Her lyrics can sometimes contain a sarcastic punch that recalls Lily Allen or early Katy Perry.
The only songs on the album that are not on the same level as the rest of the album are "Hypocrites," Valley of the Dolls" and "Fear and Loathing." These three ballads lack any interesting qualities. They aren't bad, they just seem to be filler.
All in all Marina and the Diamonds shines on this album and she is clearly on her way to big things. Electra Heart is sure to have fans of her satisfied and new fans will be flocking to this album. There's no sophomore slump here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Veronica's release addictive, yet not that great single

The Veronicas, third album Life on Mars has been in production for around four or five years and the band cited influences ranging from electroclash queen Peaches to indie rock band The Subways yet last week when The Veronicas released their first single "Lolita" which sounds like Ke$ha and Ellie Goulding made a club anthem about seducing a lover. The song is catchy and addictive but it's hardly worth the wait since The Veronicas last pop masterpiece Hook Me Up was released in 2007. That album contained club songs with rock influences and was actually original. Their first record was a straight up pop-rock album and that was great as well. Sadly this song just doesn't hold up as well next to their other songs. One of the things that is so appealing about The Veronicas is their emotion in their songs, this song is simply void of true feeling.
The lyrics are also cheesy. "I'm your Lolita, la femme nikita. When we're together, you'll love me forever," the sisters sing over a house inspired beat. The only redeeming part of the song is the music, it gets stuck in your head. The house breakdowns seem inspired by Nicki Minaj's latest club jams.
While the song is a disappointing it's still a fun song that has fans excited for Life on Mars. Hopefully on album the group will get back to what they know best, fun dance-rock that is packed full of emotion.

The Word Alive release cohesive album

There are a plethora of metalcore bands that use quirky synthesizers and good cop/bad cop vocals to make decent albums. The Word Alive released their second full length record last month and the album is a step up from their earlier material. Life Cycles is a much more cohesive album than their first record, Deceiver. That album had a more experimental side to it and while Life Cycles does tread the experimental waters, this album is much more about punching the listener in the ears. 
The best part of any The Word Alive song is vocalist Tyler "Telle" Smith. He sings the choruses with such emotion that it's hard to not have your heartstrings tugged on. On songs like "For Your Health" and the album closer, "Astral Plane" that Smith is truly at his best. He sings with such sadness on the latter that it's hard to listen to, yet beautiful so you can't stop. It calls to mind the balladry of The Used on their laster albums. 
Of course the band also know how to rock, "Wishmaster" is sure to get even the cool kids sitting in the back of the crowd into full mosh mode. "Bar Fight" is possibly the heaviest song on the record and a headbanger. The verses barely let up and then Smith's clean vocals on the chorus provide temporary shelter before the storm sets back in and Smith's brutal screams are pelting on your head, not giving you a break from the assault.
The best song on the record is the first song "Dragon Spell." The piano tinkles that play throughout the track add a creepy tone to the song. "Show no mercy," Smith screams during the first verse, setting the tone for the rest of the album that Smith and co. will not be letting up for the next thirteen songs.
All in all, Life Cycles is sure to gain The Word Alive new fans as well as cement their current fans at the band's side.