The Colourist - Lido
Super catchy girl/guy dual vocal pop-rock. They've opened for Yellowcard, Atlas Genius, Metric and The Naked and Famous.
HONORABLE MENTION Allison Weiss - Say What You Mean The Dangerous Summer - Golden Record Eisley - Currents Empire of the Sun - Ice on the Dune Haim - Days Are Gone
10) Balance & Composure - The Things We Think We're Missing
Big ups to B&C - they created an album so hard-hitting and punishing and good that Pitchfork had to pull its head out of the sand and "usher in" the #emorevival. This was my favorite record to put on after a bad day at work/life.
9) Arctic Monkeys - AM
There's just so much swagger on this album. It's the sound of four musicians looking at all these young upstarts and reminding them who takes pole position in the UK. Confident and crafty in one fell swoop.
8) Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends
Danger Mouse can do wrong, and he brought out the best in these guys. Earworm after earworm.
7) Saves The Day - Saves The Day
No longer working under the weight of the trilogy, Chris finally had a blank canvas to work from. So what did he do? He loves beyond all of time and stares down the moon and proposes with ring pops. The darkness has dissipated, and what's left is someone who sounds at peace. When I saw the band the week before the album came out, Chris announced they would not be playing any new songs to the predictable elation of the crowd. Little did we know the next time they were in town we'd actually request they play the new stuff. (P.S. The three-song closing stretch is the strongest I've heard since Reach For The Sun.)
6) Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time
I was sure Sky had peaked with "Everything Is Embarrassing", not because she wasn't talented, but because, c'mon, that's an all-time great song. I'm glad she didn't. As much as Andrew McMahon tried, this was the true album of the pop underground, fuzzy and dirty with hooks for days.
5) CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe
I remember wondering if the full length from this mega-yet-deservedly-hyped band would be able to live up to the standout stretch of singles, from "The Mother We Share" and "Lies" to "Gun". Instead, it overdelivered, introducing personal favorite "We Sink" and unexpected versatility with three songs helmed by Lauren Mayberry's male counterpart. One of the better front-to-back debuts in recent memory.
4) Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
"If I can't trust you/then dammit Hannah/there's no future/there's no answer" was hands down my favorite thing to sing/yell/scream along to in my car this year. Yes, this is their grown-up record that explores Life's Big Questions, but it's also lots of fun, from the rapid-fire delivery in "Worship You" to the vocal modulations in "Diane Young" to the reverse-OutKast/spiritual masterpiece "Ya Hey".
3) Fall Out Boy - Save Rock and Roll
It's easy to forget that just ten months ago this band was on hiatus. Then came POZ's prophecy and the band's official confirmation, and they were suddenly back with 2 Chainz, a killer single and a new album. And I can't express enough how good it was to have them back. In a scene that increasingly feels like it's on its deathbed, FOB rose from the ashes ("like a phoenix"?) of 10-year anniversary tours and vinyl reissues to give us something new, fresh and exciting. As many of the bands I grew up loving (and still love) gradually fade into irrelevance, it's nice to know there's still an emo/pop-punk band out there that can collaborate with Elton John (Courtney Love and Big Sean, not so much). New tongue-in-cheek/biting lyrics from Pete are always welcome, but the star of this album is Patrick. He is unleashed on this album, from the "I'm on fire!" shrieks to the arena-filling "La-de-da-da"s and "Oh, whoa, oh, oh, whoa"s. In the year of the #emorevival, FOB reminded us their vintage misery looks a little better on them.
2) The 1975 - The 1975
I haven't been this excited about a new band in a long time, and it's exciting to be along for the ride. I didn't I could love "Sex" any more than I already did (that's what she said), but the re-re-recorded version somehow raises the stakes of the angst-ridden song even more. I do sometimes wish the album ended after "Girls" (or even "Robbers"), but these guys have got a bright future ahead of them.
Tegan & Sara - Heartthrob
I've "known" these Canadian twins for the better part of a decade. When you know someone that long, it is increasingly rare they can still surprise you. Yet that's what this fantastic band did with Heartthrob, their seventh and best album. The application of pop gloss was not only career-invigorating (hello singing on stage with Taylor Swift), but delivered without compromise. Amid the arrival of shiny synths and drum machines, the duo's devastating lyrics remained - in fact, this has got to be the saddest T&S record yet (look no further than the pained cries of "go/please stay" in "Now I'm All Messed Up"). Now, can we get these girls on SNL already?
In a scene that's felt increasingly stale, they were a breath of fresh air, especially Tym's unique vocals...and then they broke up. A real shame - "kill all my friends" should have been the new "tell all your friends."
9) Shiny Toy Guns - III
Four (long) years later, they're finally back and haven't missed a step. Having Carah back brings energy and intimacy to their sound.
8) Now, Now - Threads
So young and so much heartbreak. Cacie's lines have a way of just devastating you: "I am what you want when you don't want anything else." A future fall/winter mainstay for sure.
7) The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten
Third in their canon for me, but it's always enjoyable to go for a ride with these guys. For all the radio mentions on the record, it's a shame this didn't get more airplay on there.
6) The Killers - Battle Born
Big & bombastic. Brandon's voice has especially improved both live and on the record.
5) fun. - Some Nights
I'm the rare breed who didn't get anything out of the first album, but loved every part of this. In an age when pop artists have their music/lyrics spoon-fed to them, it was really refreshing that a band of deserving musicians broke through the Top 40 slog (and dominated it).
4) Further Seems Forever - Penny Black
Chris may not "get lonely anymore," but he's still making great music a decade later.
3) Metric - Synthetica
So consistently great, yet so consistently overlooked. They make me "believe in the power of songs, believe in the power of girls."
2) Anberlin - Vital
Will the people clamoring for a proper Cities follow-up please shut up now? This record delivered on every front - a full-on aggressive aural assault. (My favorite album art of the year as well).
1) Japandroids - Celebration Rock
It's a timeless record that could have been released anytime in the past 20 years, yet it feels especially meaningful today at a time when rock is on the rocks (writing, like this band, is not my strong suit). This album aimed for the rafters and completely blew through them. Oh yeah, all right.
Foxy Shazam - The Church of Rock and Roll River City Extension - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger Howler - America Give Up
Eisley - Deep Space
Expansive yet intimate. Can't wait for LP4.
lady danville - Operating
Think a poppier Good Old War. Highly recommended (cred establishment: they've opened for Jack's Mannequin and Ben Folds).
Terrible Things - Pre-Transmission
Fred's output post-TBS has seemed to go under the radar, but he is doing some of his best work with this band.
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe"
Inescapable. No surprise the guy from Marianas Trench co-wrote it either - dude can lay down a hook.
Foxy Shazam - "I Like It"
Freddie Mercury for the modern age. My jaw metaphorically hit the floor when I heard this chorus.
fun. - "Some Nights"
Queen for the modern age.
The Gaslight Anthem - "45"
A bruiser that never lets up.
Good Old War - "Amazing Eyes"
Howler - "This One's Different"
Caught these guys at SXSW on a whim, and I'm glad I did. Classic, throwback sound.
Japandroids - "The House That Heaven Built"
The first time I heard it, I knew it would become one of my favorite songs of all-time.
The Sun and The Sea - "Can't Keep Breaking Your Heart"
Boy band title aside, listening to this song gives me 3 1/2 minutes where it seems like The Graduate never left.
Tegan & Sara - "Closer"
Pretty awesome the best single they've ever released comes on their seventh album.
Yellowcard - "Always Summer" Southern Air didn't grab me like WYTTSY, but man what a powerhouse single this is.
2013 Most Anticipated
Tegan & Sara
I just watched Back and Forth, the excellent documentary chronicling Foo Fighters' career. In this day and age of short attention spans and excessive multi-tasking, I think a good barometer of how truly captivating something is (at least for me) is how often I'm checking Twitter/emails/text messages/etc. Watching sports, DVDs, and even my favorite TV shows, I absentmindedly check my phone throughout. Needless to say, watching this documentary, the thought never even crossed my mind.
It's very well done, exploring the band's emergence post-Nirvana to the early band drama to selling out Wembley Stadium. As the documentary progresses and takes you through each album, you realize just how many greatsongs these guys have written. Their catalog is so deep, and even as a casual fan, I knew nearly every song played. (Most great bands have that knack for writing songs so good that on first listen, they're so instantly classic it's as if they were already implanted somewhere in your brain).
The recording scenes with Butch Vig and the session with Krist on bass are fly-on-the-wall moments where you're just grateful cameras were present, capturing the undeniable electricity between these music heavyweights. It's so great to see the hunger in Dave and the guys seven albums in - there is no phoning it in, when it would be so easy with their established name.
It's just a fascinating film, a real behind-the-scenes look at one of rock's remaining giants. Just one thing to fix - I really need to see them live.
I just saw Anberlin live for the first time. I'm assuming my college paid them pretty handsomely because they took a break from recording their album across the country to come play. They put on such a good show and have such a deep catalog. They have so many great shout-back moments in their songs (e.g. 'speak!' in "The Resistance"/'scatter the ashes!' in "Godspeed/etc.) that make for great crowd interaction. Stephen stopped "Pray Tell" halfway through to call out this redhead kid who was flipping them off during the set and told him redheads have no soul and that he had no friends. Oh, college shows.
We Owe This to Ourselves
Change the World (Lost Ones)
Never Take Friendship Personal
Art of War
Feel Good Drag
Unwinding Cable Car (encore)
I went to my first SXSW this year. The worst part: walking what felt like a half-marathon every day. The best part: seeing all these shows for free! (I paid $0 to see all the bands below).
Tuesday was pretty slow, so I went to the Topshelf Records showcase. I didn’t know how to feel when the free food advertised was pickle slices. Anyways, I finally got my first chance to hear A Great Big Pile of Leaves live after reading a lot about them here. They were very sharp – their drummer was especially talented (he doubled as MANSIONS’ drummer later as well) and their bassist provides some great harmonies. My only criticism would be that the singer could stand to develop some charisma/stage presence. Young Statues was next, and I have to say I was disappointed. Having never listened to them but having heard a bit of hype on here, they were pretty forgettable pop-rock.
I caught various bands throughout the rest of the night, although the bar showing Live Freaky Die Freaky on repeat made it difficult to concentrate (it's essentially claymation porn). Finally, it was time for the reason I came – MANSIONS. Dig Up The Dead had some of my favorite heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics of last year, and it was fun to finally put a face to the band (they have a chick on bass, who provided some nice harmonies that gave the songs a new layer). He played a new song, which I liked until the last minute or so – I was talking with the keyboardist’s roommate in line earlier, who said their new demos reminded him of a more shoegazy Devil and God, so color me excited. I ended catching them twice during the week, and Chris really delivers the songs more angstily than on the record. hellogoodbye closed out the night with a setlist of mostly songs off Would It Kill You? Forrest took off his shirt before the last song, ordering everyone to get naked as well, before ending with “Here (In Your Arms)”, at which point the room erupted. They must be a pretty popular band in the gay community because there were multiple guys with their shirts off giving each other a rub down. Who knew?
My day started seeing Youth Lagoon. Their ability to replicate the sound of their songs from The Year of Hibernation was impressive and the singer was really strong live. Next up was Shiny Toy Guns, one of my most anticipated bands in coming to SXSW. The details about their third album have been sparse, despite having released a single (“The Sun”) over a year ago. It was also my first time seeing them with Carah on female vocals, and the difference from the previous time I saw them with the Pussycat Dolls reject was remarkable. Carah, besides being loads more attractive, prowled the stage with an intimidating presence and tore through the songs with a hungry ferocity. They played three new songs – “Somewhere to Hide” and “Speaking Japanese” with Carah on vocals, the latter of which was super synthy and my favorite, and “Mercy” with Chad. It was a rare instance where I was more stoked to hear new songs than old material. Afterwards, I caught some of fun.’s outdoor acoustic set, which was packed. It’s amazing how one song can change a band, and when they played “We Are Young”, I couldn’t help but notice a 50ish mom singing along and embarrassing her teenage son. Their set definitely drew a diverse crowd, with dads in collared shirts in front of me. I personally prefer The Format + Steel Train > fun., but Nate sounded great and it’s nice to see that huge voice find a bigger audience.
After reading Andy's review about how good The Xcerts were, I figured it would be a disservice not to check them out. I wasn't disappointed - they play edgy, intense pop and are clearly worthy of opening for Brand New. Later that night, my attempt to see River City Extension was thwarted by my lack of wristband/badge (they were really the only band who I wanted to see who I didn’t get to, so I can’t complain). The Dangerous Summer were my backup plan, and they didn’t disappoint. I always enjoy their concerts because both times I’ve seen them it has been a small but passionate crowd – seeing people moved by AJ’s lyrics never gets old for me. They played a War Paint-only set, and might have played something older but were DJ’ed off the stage by the bar music to the boos of the fans.
My night closed with Motion City Soundtrack, and it ended up being one of my favorite sets the whole week. They played in a small tent outside, and being ten feet from the band gave it an intimate feeling, which South By does really well, especially with bigger bands like MCS where you’re used to a spacious venue. Jesse especially came alive in the setting, challenging us to sing louder and just being an awesome pump-up guy in general. The crowd was a bit lackluster at the start, but then a random crowdsurfer led to the eruption of a mosh pit. It was pretty hot in there, and Justin had to wipe his fogged glasses multiple times. Because it was outdoor, people were smoking, including two guys on the front row. At the end of a song, Justin asked for their cigarettes and the pack and threw them away, saying you shouldn’t smoke to the cheers of the crowd. They closed with “The Future Freaks Me Out” and as he sang “we waste away the days with nicotine and television samples” he humorously shook his finger at them. The set was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, and Justin describing the new album as “really good” has me excited for the future.
The day began at The Warner Sound showcase with Lost in the Trees, whose first song I really dug but whose subsequent songs didn’t live up to that high standard. After, I checked out Girls, who sounded good, especially with their three black backup singers adding an extra wrinkle. Next was Cults, whose debut last year I adored. The frontwoman has great pipes, and her passion as she sings really brings the songs to life. I then ended up catching the last half of Neon Trees’ set – I dug one of the new songs they played, the other not so much. Tyler’s mohawk is no more, and it was weird seeing him with hair. I very much enjoyed his high leg kicks.
In the evening, I headed to this gorgeous outdoor venue overlooking the Austin skyline to see The Shins. I tried my first alligator, on a stick no less (verdict: tastes fishy) while catching the end of M. Ward’s set. The Shins was definitely the biggest show I saw all week – there had to be at least 5,000 people watching. Admittedly, I’m not the hugest fan, but I dug “Simple Song” and “Caring Is Creepy”. Back in the city, I caught some of Jonquil’s set. I’d never heard of them, but there a Two Door-ish sound to them and I will definitely be checking out more of their stuff. Next up was Twin Atlantic, whose debut I loved and follow-up not so much. They only played one song off Vivarium, with the rest off Free, and it further cemented my disappointment in that record. Foxy Shazam closed out the night – unfortunately, I couldn’t get in, but the venue they played at had huge windowless windows so you could stand and watch in from the street. I had heard Foxy was insane live, but even with that in mind they still were crazier than I’d anticipated. Whether it was what he said before starting songs (“If Foxy Shazam were to be an animal in a zoo, we would be one that would bite your head off!”), how he ended the set (“Sometimes I wish I had a mirror on stage so I could see myself sing” whereupon he dropped the mic and exited), or lighting a whole pack of cigarettes and smoking them, they definitely put on a show.
My last day started off with Say Anything in the parking lot of a local record shop. It was noon, which is early by South By standards, so the crowd was a little dead, but it was great to see them tear through some new songs and close with “Spidersong”. Max was not only bearded but had noticeable holes below his armpits in his shirt – anarchy!
I then stumbled upon Howler, who sounded very Strokes-y and who I will definitely be checking out. Next up was Walk The Moon, who were very cohesive – the fact that all band members sing harmonies was especially impressive. Unfortunately, most of their stuff is pretty forgettable, or maybe just in comparison to “Anna Sun”, their closer. It should definitely blow up and really rocks live – I’ve included a live version because listening to the recorded version doesn’t really do it justice. Penguin Prison followed them, and they were super catchy but a little lacking in substance (reminded me of Hockey in that way). The last band I saw was Tribes, who reminded me of a British Dashboard.
I tried to get into the absolutepunk show, but the line was blocks long and it didn’t work out. Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience to see so many of the bands I love and find more who I will fall in love with.
There is no better way to describe this album than its title - it is electronic, it is rock, it is gospel, it is whatever you would classify "Sail". Aaron Bruno's solo project is ambitious, diverse, and anything but safe.
9) Meg & Dia - Cocoon
It was an interesting year to be a Meg & Dia fan. They quietly released Cocoon, and as their recording process came to light (they took DIY to the extreme after they ran out of money and recorded in their parents' kitchen - you can even hear the dishwasher in the background on one track) it was clear the writing was on the wall for this band. In the age we live in now, I was bracing to lose another of my favorite bands. Then, Dia tried out for The Voice, nearly won, and seemingly gave new life to this criminally underrated band. Here, Here and Here is their opus for me, but Cocoon is a very close second.
8) Moving Mountains - Waves
My go-to heavy record of the year (yeah, yeah it's not that heavy - I'm kind of a pansy). Nearly every song has some transcendent moment that I can't wait to get to once I start listening. One of the best sets I saw at Warped Tour - naturally there were about twenty people watching while Attack Attack! played to hordes of mongols.
7) Marianas Trench - Ever After
I miss living in Canada for reasons like this - I did not find out about this band until this year, something that surely wouldn't have happened had I still been living there (where they sell out arenas). After boldly naming their last album Masterpiece Theatre and then somehow living up to that, I was eagerly looking forward to Ever After. The thing with this band is every album feels like a journey because it contains some of the most diverse, genre-bending pop-rock I've heard. This also felt like a journey because it's 54 minutes long, but it's the fastest hour I spend whenever I listen to it.
6) The Lonely Forest - Arrows
Who would've thought Chris Walla's proteges would outperform their master's own album this year? I love the songwriting on this, from the self-reflexivity of "Turn Off This Song and Go Outside" to the echoes of solitude on "Coyote" to the restrained screams that dominate the latter half of the album.
5) Augustana - Augustana
After this band played my college, I saw they were much more than a one-hit wonder as I'd assumed they were with "Boston". This album is what Bob Dylan would sound like with a pop band behind him.
4) Saves The Day - Daybreak
This was the year I finally connected with this scene stalwart as I spent much of this year driving with this Saves The Day record on and singing 'til my voice was gone. Chris Conley & Co. boldly started the record with an 11 minute song that never loses its energy. There are very few bands who could execute something like that, and it's just one of many reasons why STD sits atop the movement they helped pioneer. Best of the trilogy.
3) Yellowcard - When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
As someone who has struggled to connect with the new wave of pop-punk, Yellowcard's return to the scene could not have come at a better time for me. But to come back with an album this good was unexpected - from the unreal bridge in the opener to the signature violin in "For You and Your Denial" to Ryan Key's heartbreaking lyrics in "Sing For Me". In a year when we lost so many great bands, Yellowcard's return added some sweet to that bitter. Bonus points for the beautiful acoustic recording of the album.
2) Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
Andy Hull said this album would be more than a step up - it would be an entire staircase. Unlike Tom Delonge, he managed to back up his bold claim with one of the most personal, raw records of the year. This is an album that I cannot wait to hear unhinged and unleashed live.
1) Eisley - The Valley
I love it when a band makes their best record later on in their career. Although they're only three albums in, The Valley is by far Eisley's best work to date. It feels very strange to find such pleasure in these girls' pain, but I love the clash between their angelic voices and the dark themes of this record.
EPs DownDownDown - Say Hello to C'est La Vie EP
The best indie-pop I've heard this year. Check them out.
The Narrative - Kickstarter EP
Everything they do is gold, and it might be blasphemy, but I prefer their version of "Karma Police" to the original.
Cartel - In Stereo EP
Such a diverse EP. "Conduit" is one of the best songs they've ever written.
Songs (in no particular order) Foo Fighters, "Walk"
They're rock's poster boys and it is refreshing that they're deserevedly there - how awesome is it that 20 years in they can still make relevant rock?
blink-182, "After Midnight"
This song perfectly exemplifies what I love about Blink - Travis' signature drums with Mark and Tom alternating vocals. Good to have them back.
The Naked & Famous, "Young Blood"
I liked this song the second I heard that amazing synth line. My most played track on last.fm this year.
Marianas Trench, "Haven't Had Enough"
The catchiest song of this year IMO.
Lady Gaga, "Yoü And I"
Her album was a huge disappointment, but this song may be her best yet.
The rare song that reaches for the rafters and actually gets there.
The Airborne Toxic Event, "Changing"
The best song ever inspired by a voicemail.
Foster The People, "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)"
The catchiest song on a record fully of catchiness. Love this music video too.
Patrick Stump, "This City"
This album was a little too over-produced for me, but it all came together on this song.
Gym Class Heroes feat. Adam Levine - "Stereo Hearts"
One of the few songs I could tolerate (and even liked) on the radio.
RIP The Graduate, Valencia, and The Academy Is... You are missed more than you know.
As The Graduate play their farewell shows over the next few days, I'm filled with bittersweet emotions.
In today's music industry, it really was remarkable that these guys were able to land on another label. Most bands never get a first shot, let alone a second chance, but The Graduate did, and I'm forever thankful to Razor & Tie for it (lackluster marketing of Only Every Time and all). Without that record, I don't grow up with The Graduate. Anhedonia's aggressive sound was what I needed to hear in my first year of college and OET spoke to me as a soon-to-be graduate (no pun intended) fastly approaching the unknown, scary world out there. Music has a way of being just as important of a companion in your formative years as your friends and family.
The Graduate were on a very, very short list of bands I had to see live no matter what the cost, distance, etc. I was ready to drive 4 hours to go see them on their last tour until they had to cancel the day of because Corey got sick. They would have been just second support, but somehow, 4 hours of driving for 30 minutes of The Graduate made perfect sense to me. A few months later, they announced the hiatus and I thanked my lucky stars I at least got to see them once.
How I'll miss their unique sound. Expansive and atmospheric, The Graduate's songs offered bountiful amounts of room to immerse yourself and get lost in the music - the chill-inducing gang vocals at the end of "Pull Me In", the countless layers in "All At Once", the intensity of "Bet It All". But I'll probably miss Corey Warning's lyrics even more. So often he captured the moments of solitude we all feel - "so here's to being alone, to anyone on their own, if anyone's listening, well think of me when I'm gone, it's not gonna hurt for long" and "I can't remember feeling less alone, then you call me yours". Knowing there will be no more lyrics from him is one of the hardest things to take from this.
What could have been - life is made up of so many moments that can significantly alter the future. In The Graduate's case, it seemed like they got more bad breaks than good luck - how many times did that van of theirs break down? Most of all, you can't help but wonder what would've happened if Icon MES never went under - the band was gaining heavy steam before it was suddenly extinguished. They were playing Lollapalloza, Warped Tour, and opened for Nine Inch Nails (!) in Germany. Their career seemed to be skyrocketing only to come to a screeching halt.
The Graduate's departure is not a case of a band we never got to see realize their potential - they went far further than that. No, what is sad is knowing we won't get the chance to witness the heights they surely would have ascended to on future releases. I am deeply saddened we will never see another record from them, but at the same time it is difficult to complain because the little we were given was so golden.
There were few musicians I've come across who took their craft so seriously/passionately, and it's further evidence that the model is broken when even hard work can't translate to survival in this industry.
What is so peculiar about music is that most popular forms of art/entertainment are shared experiences (movies, TV shows, etc.). Music is that too (I mean, that's why we have concerts and mixtapes for girlfriends) but for me at least, it's so much more personal than any of those can ever aspire to be. I can read a book, but the character is fictional; I can watch a movie, but the actor is portraying someone - music is true expression from the artists who are brave enough to share it with us.
So that personal connection is what I will keep with me. And no matter what happens, nothing can ever take that away.
"I've got a good thing going tonight, I just can't stand to see you go"
Somehow I had never been to Warped Tour before today, but we all have to start somewhere.
No one I came to see was playing for a while, so I began the day with Go Radio. Nobody is a huger pop-rock fan than me, but I just can't get into these guys. Enjoyed "Goodnight Moon" though.
Having heard good things about Bad Rabbits, I decided to check them out and wasn't disappointed. They play infectious grooves, somewhat in the ilk of Gym Class Heroes, although with falsettos instead of rapping. Travie McCoy (or is he Travis now that he's back w/ GCH?) made an appearance (as you can see below) and actually sings on the record, which they sold for a dollar. When the song was over, Travie went to the back of the stage and smoked up. Rock 'n' roll, brother. Highlight of the set was their "Thriller" breakdown and leading us all in the dubstep - my whiteness really came through while attempting to do it, so I'm glad no one caught it on film.
Travie/Travis with the lead singer/black hipster of Bad Rabbits
At another stage, I caught the end of The Wonder Years' set - another band I cannot get into for the life of me (please don't stone me). They closed with "Washington Square Park" with a noticeably smaller crowd than Go Radio.
The Menzingers showed off some nice old-school punk until it was time for The Narrative. My love for this band is unconditional and I am constantly baffled how they remain unsigned. Suzie and Jesse's vocals play off each other so well - in my opinion, they are the best male-female combo today. They stuck to playing songs from their latest self-titled, and as I was watching them I realized they were not as out of place on this tour as I originally thought - "Empty Space" and "You Will Be Mine" actually rock pretty hard. The crowd was a little thin at the start, with basically me and a pregnant fan (!) singing along, but they attracted more people with each song. If you were on the fence whether to listen to these guys, I want to let you know they are Soupy-approved - he watched their set from the back of the stage.
Their short set let me see the end of Against Me!'s set, and I was stoked they closed with "Teenage Anarchist". They definitely had the silliest circle pit I saw all day. The heat must do something to people.
Automatic Loveletter drew a mostly female crowd and was my background music as I ate lunch - she was enjoyable but nothing I will be pursuing further.
Next up was Moving Mountains, who just bring a no-BS attitude to playing music that is very refreshing. I was asked after the first song by a girl with blue and yellow hair if this was Blood on the Dancefloor - I don't think there's a larger chasm in quality music than between those two. I was really blown away by their set - they played a lot off Waves, the highlight being "The Cascade".
Their guitarist looks very much like a taller Elijah Wood (on the far right).
5:00 was a good time for music, but a bad time for me - I had to choose between Every Avenue (love the new album), Set Your Goals (ditto), and Gym Class Heroes (love the new single). I ended up watching the first few songs of GCH but couldn't take Travie's Yankee jersey (go Blue Jays!) so I headed over to see SYG. I discovered them through the AP Tour a few years back, and their live show makes them a must-see every time. I don't know what it is, but they are very good at making you feel valued and part of a community at their shows. The biggest reaction went to "Gala Bleeds" and admittedly the new songs they played ("Exit Summer" and "Certainly") fell a bit flat in the crowd - they really should have played "Start The Reactor" or "Happy New Year".
I lost my voice and recuperated while watching Terrible Things' set. I am a huge Fred fan, and he was so down-to-earth and humble (when he asked if he could play a The Color Fred song, he was noticeably appreciative of the response, which was actually louder than any Terrible Things song). He makes it hard to believe he was the bad guy in his TBS years as outlined their oral history. "Lullaby" and "The Arsonist's Wife" were great.
I can now die in peace knowing that I've seen Relient K live. They had quite a sizable crowd, and the whole band was into it, contrary to other reviews I've been reading. I was surprised to hear them play a b-side ("The Lining Is Silver") but it got a good crowd reaction, and closing with "Be My Escape" was just plain nasty.
The Dangerous Summer closed the day with a small but passionate crowd. As the guys came out, I was surprised by how loud everyone was, but it's really telling of how much this band means to people. AJ's lyrics are some of the best to sing along to, and I got chills as we all belted the last verse to "Never Feel Alone" to close the night.
Cody back-sweating like a rock star (please don't cyber attack me)
Walking around all day, I couldn't help notice the huge crowds for bands that I...don't care for (read: disgrace music as an art form). Pretty much every set I went to I was able to get front row, and it made me realize how celebrated bands on this site don't have quite the fanfare offline. As this site gets its overhaul, I can only hope its influence spreads even further so these bands can get the following they truly deserve.
I love the different ways there are to discover music, whether it's a band being hyped on here, Pandora, or even the radio (amazingly, this is how I heard of Anberlin for the first time). Recently, I discovered AWOLNATION, who performed on Mark Hoppus' show (this has actually been one of my most reliable sources for new music - all because of Mark I now know The Airborne Toxic Event and Mumford & Sons to name a few).
Now I really dug AWOLNATION's first song they played, and went to the Internet to scour for some more tunes. To their credit, they had their whole album up on their website for streaming. With the entire thing in front of me, I was able to find out I liked more than just their single and yesterday I bought their album.
I probably wouldn't have done that if I hadn't had full exposure to their band. He Is We & The Dangerous Summer are two other examples of bands that come to mind who have all or most of their catalog out there and as a result I have bought both their records.
While Spotify solves the limited available music problem momentarily, when it stops being free people will not have that total access. I don't know if I plan on getting the $5 option with them or Rdio or not getting it at all, but I hope more bands know that the more music you make available does more good than harm.
PS. Everyone should take a listen to AWOLNATION's album, Megalithic Symphony. They've made it easy for you. Very high up on my AOTY list right now.
My uncle and aunt wanted to set me up with my cousin's roommate so at my cousin's wedding they purposely sat us next to each other. When we got around to the hobbies question, I told her I like music, and when she asked which genre, I said alternative rock. Her response: "So bands like Vertical Horizon?"
I could tell it wasn't going to work out from there.
(But seriously, Vertical Horizon?! Has she not listened to music since 1999???)
I need to start a band, solely for the purpose of showcasing the awesome names I've come up with.
5-piece outfit (I'd be the quiet, unassuming bassist)
Already have titles for two albums → 6th album - The Sixth Sense//final album - The Last Airbender
Our debut would be a critical darling, then each follow-up record would be progressively worse, until our last album hit rock bottom and even our biggest fans/apologists would have to stop pretending we're still good
The Royal Divorce
3-piece outfit specializing in...what else? Breakup/love songs. (I'd be the primary songwriter, but my lack of experience in relationships would lead our guitarist to take over)
Opportune time to start given the recent wedding
We'd have a slew of catchy, royal-themed singles:
"I've Fallen For Pippa Middleton"
"Prince Harry, I'll Be Your Ginny" (a love song about another commoner hoping to become a royal. Add in the crossover with the Harry Potter crowd and you've got yourself a chart-topper)
"William, Are You The Richest Bill?" (a comparison of William's wealth with Bill Gates')
Our catalog would explode if William & Kate ever did call it quits due to gazillions of Google searches that would lead to our music
When people aren’t into music, it deeply saddens me. Some of my deepest connections are with songs that speak to me in a way that nothing else can.
Most recently, I’ve been smitten by Eminem’s “Not Afraid”. Not only is he bearing his soul in this song, but it’s some of the most uplifting and redemptive lyrics I’ve ever heard. But it’s his delivery that sells these lyrics - he even acknowledges in the beginning of the song that
you can try read my lyrics off of this paper before i lay them
but you won’t take the sting out of these words before i say them
The words to this song are inspiring, but coming out Em’s mouth they become powerful. The last two bridges in this song are ridiculous - they close out each verse with such a bang. First:
but it’s time to exercise these demons
these motherfuckers are doing jumping jacks now
Not only is that the most clever word play I’ve heard, the image of little demons on Eminem’s shoulders doing jumping jacks is hilarious. And yet at the same time, you can hear that vindictiveness behind his voice that lets you know he in a sense really did have devils on his shoulder, and overcoming them is a huge victory. I’ve never battled alcoholism or any addiction, but when I hear those Eminem recite those words, I can’t help but feel invincible - that anything is conquerable. I love that feeling that comes from that. Second:
'cause the way I feel
I’m strong enough to go to the club or the corner pub
and lift the whole liquor cabinet up
‘cause I’m raising the bar
I shoot for the moon
but i’m too busy gazing at stars
I feel amazing and I’m not afraid
What is amazing about these lyrics is that Eminem channels the hope and euphoria that comes from becoming sober/clean into me, a listener who has never had to deal with those problems - but I have experienced that desire to commit to change and have a fresh new outlook on life. This what I love about music - Eminem wrote this as a way to document the victory over his past problems and let his fans know that he is back and better than ever, but to each listener it can mean a different thing that can mean just as much, if not more, as the song means to the artist.