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A life of A... listener:
The Maine - American Candy
06/29/15 at 07:21 AM by Explode
The Maine - American Candy
Release Date: March 31st, 2015
Record Label: Big Picnic

The year 2007 was a good time for fans of alternative pop music. That year was absolutely littered with bands who were writing catchy hooks left and right: Mayday Parade, Every Avenue, All Time Low, Forever the Sickest Kids, We The Kings, Farewell, The Cab... the list just goes on and on. The problem however was that this resulted in a homogeneous sludge of power chords and breakup lyrics that made it impossible for anyone to stand out. Well, there was also a five piece band from Tempe called The Maine that began making waves with their EP The Way We Talk in '07. Fast forward eight years and, unlike the majority of the bands above who have more or less disappeared completely, The Maine withstood the test of time, and with the same lineup to boot. They've grown and adapted their sound through the years and they're still alive and well, this time producing one of their most well-rounded releases to date with American Candy.

American Candy is accessible for any The Maine fan. Whether you've been with the band since Stay Up, Get Down or have joined more recently in the post-Black & White era, you'll find something that you like. The bubblegum on the album cover certainly primes you for the delectable offerings within, but the pop here isn't of the usual flavor; it favors the refined over the inflated. The album appeals just as much on a hot summer day as it does on a cool fall evening. American Candy comes in at an even pace with not much worth skipping on a full play-through.

Barn burning opener, "Miles Away" isn't the candy coated sensation you'd expect. It carries an air of highway-ready Americana with lyrics to match: "I didn't ever want to come down / from that West Coast rush and summer high / an easy, peaceful sense of time / I felt so alive." "Same Suit, Different Tie" sets itself apart as an early favorite; it's a great compliment to "Miles Away" before the album takes its first risk with "My Hair." The slow churning verses of "My Hair" mislead you into a straight up jam session of a chorus. Its slight diversity in sound helps helps the pacing and offers the front half some room to breathe.

"English Girls" is the clear victor on American Candy, hosting a distinct feeling of the 90s, and an absolutely killer chorus which details a sultry bar encounter in London. The song was cemented even further into my mind after seeing it performed live; if you have any hesitation on seeing The Maine this year, let me eliminate that right now. The new songs translate exceptionally well on the stage, and you can tell the band is having a blast.

The complete 180į in "24 Floors" comes next. It's easily one of the most lyrically intense songs that vocalist John O'Callaghan has ever written, detailing thoughts of ending his life three years ago: "Twenty four floors / up in some hotel room / feeling so low / thinking of jumping soon... if you were here with me / you'd say, 'you don't wanna die tonight / take one more breath to clear your mind...' "Iím glad Iím still here, and Iím still able to make music,Ē John mentions in an interview.Ļ ďHopefully that song is some sort of solace for people that are feeling down or alone.Ē

The record picks up afterward with one-two punch "Diet Soda Society" and "Am I Pretty." The latter combines the jam session vibes of "My Hair" with the infection of "English Girls" which results in one of the best songs of the back half. The album's explosive lynch pin, "American Candy," pulls out all the stops. The title track encompasses the ability that The Maine possesses to push their sound to the next level. The song rocks and the live rendition left my jaw wide open. Drummer Pat Kirch is at the height of his game as he and O'Callaghan start the track off before the whole band jumps in. "American Candy" is one of the greatest songs the band has ever written.

With the cavalcade of tracks so far on the album, it was nearly impossible to predict how the album would end. Enter astronomic sing-along, "Another Night on Mars." Since I'm an old school The Maine fan, I was instantly reminded of Can't Stop, Won't Stop's "We'll All Be..." "Another Night..." is a nice ending to a solid album, but it's not the ending I was hoping for. It pales in comparison to the pure strength of the title track, which would have been a better closer.

In the end, American Candy is a relatively safe release that may not pack enough punch to land a top spot your EOTY list. Still, there's plenty to enjoy. I'm really not sure what we'll see next from the band. They continue to take risks, like evolving their sound, or bringing along Real Friends and Knuckle Puck on their headlining tour, but that's what you need to do to stay alive these days. I'd love to see them put out an acoustic record, or a heavier rock record. They certainly have the bravery to push their sound to new dimensions.

If you're interested, I took some of the best photos of my career of the band a few months ago. Check them out here.

1. Krause, Katie. "The Maine Find Their Happy Place in 'American Candy' While Keeping It 'Emo' on Twitter" ET Online, April 10th, 2015 (link).

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What Apple Music Can Learn From Video Games
06/23/15 at 06:41 AM by Explode
2015 is a strange landscape for the world of music. Streaming services are the dominant topic of discussion and it's quite clear that they're here to stay, but music can learn a lot from the other entertainment industries, namely gaming.

Imagine you pick up your mobile device and start listening to your favorite song from your favorite band's new album. You fall in love with it. Your $9.99 per month subscription already gave you early access to the album and the ability to listen offline. As you're browsing through Apple Music, you see that the deluxe version of the album is available for $2.99. You check and see what this version includes:
  • 3 bonus tracks
  • 2 acoustic tracks

These tracks were already on the app and available to preview, but they were grayed out, making the album look incomplete. Once you make the purchase, a notification pops up that says, "Achievement Unlocked: Novice Collector." You get an additional $1 toward a future Apple Music purchase! You use that dollar to purchase the musician's package for the same album which costs maybe $1.99. This comes with:
  • Song stems (ability to isolate drums/vocals, etc.)
  • Guitar/bass/drum tabs for the entire album

Okay, so let's say money is a little tight this month and you want to save that $5. You turn on ad mode and elect to listen to ads every few songs. You select the frequency (every 5, 10, 15 songs). For every hour you listen to ad mode music, you earn $.25, $.15, or $.10 as an Apple Music credit. You're also making money for the artists you're listening to, by electing to turn ads on. Within a few days, you've racked up enough credit to make the purchase.

Advertising runs the world and it isn't going away. Consumers need to acknowledge the fact that if you don't succumb to some level of marketing, your favorite bands won't be able to get by. We can't complain about that 30 second ad before our YouTube content. The content creator can't survive without it.

You get a notification one day that your favorite band is doing a live stream concert next week. Apple Music adds the event to your calendar and sends you a reminder by playing a few seconds of your most played track from that band. The live stream is free for the first few songs, but if you want the full set, it costs a $1. Luckily for you, since you've been so supportive with your ad listening, you're allowed in for free. During the performance, you can chat with the band and even throw them a tip if you're feeling generous. This all happens within Apple Music. Bands should stream band practices, tour diaries, backstage at concerts, on stage at concerts, living room sessions, getting the car washed, going to the grocery store. Build a non-musical relationship with your fans.

That big road trip is now approaching. All four of your friends also have Apple Music so once you get in the car you all enter Apple Road Trip. Each of you gets to add songs to the queue which then plays via CarPlay. You can favorite songs that your friends are playing. If another car using Apple Road Trip passes you (or if you're in a convoy), you get the option to chat with them or combine queues. If your friend doesn't have an Apple Music subscription, they can still partake by downloading the app and adding songs to the queue.

As you travel from town to town, Apple Music alerts you, based on your music tastes, of the bands that are playing that night. You decide to check out a new band and Apple Music automatically creates a playlist based on that band's previous sets. You RSVP within the app and make a post asking where to park since you're in a new city. The other concertgoers are able to respond with some helpful advice. The app then makes suggestions on where to go out to eat after the show.

You get to the show and are already familiar with the songs thanks to the setlist playlist. At the concert, there's a table set up with a QR code. You scan it and get a $5 credit in Apple Music for attending that live show. During the show, the band announces that one of their final songs gets to be a fan pick. You open up Apple Music (GPS knows you're at the show) and you have five songs to choose from. The band manager alerts the band of the winner during the encore break and they come out and play the song you chose (thanks for @alkalinexandy for the inspiration on this one). On the way home, the profile for that artist you just saw is full of pictures, videos, and Tweets from that show so you can relive your experience on the way home.

As you continue to utilize the app and download/unlock content, you continue earning achievements. Once you hit achievement milestones, you unlock additional features within the app like custom skins or alternative artwork. If you listen to 100 hours of music, you get an achievement. If you use Apple Music on 3 different IP addresses, or a different country, or on an airplane, you get an achievement. You're earning and accomplishing as you listen.

We're not even talking about a streaming service anymore. This is a musical ecosystem. This is what Apple Music should become. There's little reason to purchase albums anymore, and the reasons are dwindling. Apple Music has made that clear.

A console game sells for $60. A movie DVD costs $20. Look at the credits and budget for these projects. Any movie theater only usually has 10-15 movies playing at one time, but this music industry is much different. The amount of artists out there is mind boggling. People like hundreds of bands, so they can't afford to throw $10 at each one. That's the beauty of the $10 subscription. You pay that amount for all of the bands. We just need music content at attractive price points. $1-3 is perfect. I'd argue that fans of a band that would never have made the $10 purchase for an album would more likely pay $1-3 dollars for downloadable content. But we have to shy away from that $.99 for an MP3 price model. It just doesn't make sense anymore. An album by itself doesn't have the immersive factor of a game or movie, so the artist needs to provide more. Stems and tabs utilize content that already exists, so why isn't every artist selling these?

Struggling bands need capital. Why not use Apple Music to crowdfund up and coming acts? Hey, Game of War is sponsoring a battle of the bands. If you listen to a song from 4-5 bands (and a short Game of War plug), and then take a short survey voting for your favorite band, then you can get achievement points, and Game of War gets their ad time which funds the winning band.

The video game industry has reinvented itself time and time again. Look at just the difference between the Xbox and Xbox 360. They're adapting and constantly finding new ways to support themselves, the developers, and the community. What is music doing in 2015? Bands are still trekking across the country for ten years in sweaty vans just to get by, while YouTubers are replacing incomes without even leaving their living rooms.
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Imagine Dragons - Smoke + Mirrors
06/10/15 at 03:12 PM by Explode
Imagine Dragons - Smoke + Mirrors
Release Date: February 17th, 2015
Record Label: Kidinakorner/Interscope

When I reviewed Imagine Dragons' Continued Silence three years ago, I knew that I had found something rare. That EP continues to be one of the best that I've ever heard. Seriously, it had "Radioactive," "On Top of The World," "It's Time," and "Demons." The EP, combined with full length debut, Night Visions, has catapulted the band into the stratosphere. With two Grammy nominations, one Grammy win, and five wins at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, the band has achieved a success that most bands only dream of. They have an impressive collection of RIAA platinum and multi-platinum certifications, but most notable is that single "Radioactive" has been certified nine times. Oh, and it's sold more digital copies than any other rock song... in history!

Unfortunately, Night Visions was just Continued Silence with some added fluff; it had an initial luster that fell off soon after. Not that this mattered much because Imagine Dragons had plenty of momentum left. Smoke + Mirrors, however, is a brand new batch of songs and a whole different story. The dust has settled and it's time to look at the band in a whole new light.

It's clear that no song on this album even comes close to any of the band's previous successes. I mean, starter singles "Shots" and "I Bet My Life" are decent but they lack the infection of "It's Time" or "Radioactive." Those songs made me feel something when I first heard them. That feeling is fleeting this time around.

A handful of these songs sound primed and ready for the big screen. This isn't surprising in the least given the band's appearances on countless movie soundtracks over the past couple of years. The raucous "Gold" would be well suited if there was ever a remake of 1964's Goldfinger. The problem is that what works for a soundtrack doesn't necessarily work for an album. The movie magic continues as you grab your machine gun and suit up for "I'm So Sorry" which is straight from an action trailer featuring The Rock or Jason Statham piloting aircraft through explosions. The track features a pretty ill-fitting bridge; they should have just ended it at around 2:20 and set it as the opening track. Finally, gear up and prepare yourself for a journey to a barren wasteland full of seduction, espionage, and murder as you uncover "Friction." Given it's unique "Egyptian" sound, "Friction," is one of the more enjoyable tracks present; it shows that the band can stretch their sound to new dynamics and still produce listenable results.

The cinematic sheds itself for the most part for the dull "Polaroid" which at first sounds like something Tent D would sing at Camp Greenlake (if you don't get the reference, you'll have to fill in the holes for yourself). It's sonically different from most of the album but it's clarity is overshadowed by laziness. "It Comes Back To You" is actually the most reminiscent of Imagine Dragons' earlier work and hosts a simple yet delightful chorus: "It comes back to you, it comes back to you. All the things that you had lost will find their way to you."

As the album meanders through its back half, I can't help but make connections to some other bands, bands that Imagine Dragons should learn from. Enter Coldplay's unearthed Parachutes b-side, "Dream." Not possessing the magic of the London foursome, it joins "Polaroid" as completely forgettable. One Republic's "Trouble" comes next. It starts with a rousing melody and strumming acoustic guitar but then doesn't go anywhere. Instead, it's chorus sounds like a pre-chorus leaving you with a vapid feeling. It's a One Republic song without any of the fun. "Summer," which will be drilled into your eardrums soon enough by alternative radio, has a slight Hozier feel to it. It's not terrible by any means, but the album is suffering so much at this point that it's tough to enjoy anything. Lastly, "Hopeless Opus" comes along. The beginning riff is nearly identical to Mat Kearney's "Let It Rain." Unfortunately, the song lacks the structure or likability of a Kearney song. I'd argue that Just Kids is a better album in every which way.

If you're still listening to the album at this point, than you're either really brave, or need someone to send help quickly because you're being held against your will. Closer "The Fall" hosts an uplifting closing minute and a half but it's too little too late. It's not enough to cover the lackluster hodgepodge of tracks that preceded it.

Combined with an underwhelming live performance, Imagine Dragons has left me disappointed. They went from my one of my favorite bands of 2012 to nearly forgettable in 2015. They'll continue to garner some success, but it won't last unless LP3 blows us away. Here's hoping that they can regain my trust in the future.

Tracklisting1. Shots
2. Gold
3. Smoke and Mirrors
4. I'm So Sorry
5. I Bet My Life
6. Polaroid
7. Friction
8. It Comes Back to You
9. Dream
10. Trouble
11. Summer
12. Hopeless Opus
13. The Fall
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01/24/15 at 09:01 AM by Explode
I want to set up an exclusive on the website:

Please use the Slack channel #exclusives for all exclusive communication. Mention @thomas.nassiff (or whoever we want) with any questions.

An exclusive is a piece of content that AP premieres for the first time. There are three types of exclusives:
  • Song premieres
  • Album / EP premieres
  • Music video premieres

An exclusive can also be accompanied by tour or album announcements, but we require listenable content for any exclusive.

When planning an exclusive, please add it to the AP calendar. We try not to host any more than three pieces of content a day.

Collect the Content

After reaching out and securing an exclusive, find out how the content will be displayed. Often, the band will provide their own content on their own social media site and will send you the link. AP does have the ability to upload content to our own SoundCloud page and YouTube channel.

To upload to SoundCloud, collect your band name, content title, album art and content in a zip file and please contact:

You can upload to YouTube yourself:

Go to our YouTube Channel -- use the "ABSOLUTExclusive" account that has the avatar set to the AP.net heart, not the one associated with the email address (it's empty and unused). (Login: absolutexclusive / Password: apwhore05). Be sure to not make the video public until the date of the premiere.

Set Up the AP Profile

An exclusive requires that an AP Profile be created for the band.

If you have questions about the AP.net profiles, how they work or should be set up, you can ask the following people for help:

Prepare Your News Post / Exclusive

It's best to prepare your news post ahead of time. Make sure your titles are in the following format:
  • Exclusive: The Menzingers Song Premiere
  • Exclusive: The Menzingers Album/EP Premiere
  • Exclusive: The Menzingers Music Video Premiere

The actual name of the content would come in the news post itself. Here's an example of what this can look like:


Title: Exclusive: Northbound EP Premiere

Thread Topic: Exclusives

Northbound started in 2012 as the solo project of Jonathon Fraser of hardcore act Sleep Patterns. You may remember when we streamed their album Death Of A Slug back in April. We are streaming their new EP, Trigger Relief, which can be heard in the replies. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mat Kerekes of Citizen, who also plays drums on "Piano Hands" and guitar/guest vocals on "Nice Boy."

Tags: absolutexclusive, music, northbound, citizen, exclusive


Ryan gives you a brief history of the band and he also plugs a previous piece of content which is a good practice. Take note that he bolded and linked the band Citizen to their tag page, because the context helps sell the exclusive. He didn't do the same for Sleep Patterns because the context really doesn't call for a link. That band may be short lived and not have much on their tag page. That's a personal judgement call that you can make.

If you show your passion and knowledge for what you're premiering, you'll receive a better response. Don't be afraid to mention similar sounding bands (recommended if you like), just be sure to bold and link if applicable.

Be sure to include the applicable tags and to make the news post "sticky" so that it stays at the top of the news.

You should then post the actual content as a first reply in the thread.

Promoting Exclusives

Please check our social media guidelines before making any posts on social media.

We'd much rather use social media to promote site exclusives than news, so be sure to post about your exclusive on the AP Facebook page and mention the band.

A general Tweet will be generated soon after you post the news posting, but a more detailed Tweet should be created a bit later. Please contact the following with what you want to say in the Tweet:

Also, be sure to email your band contact to let them know the exclusive is up. Mention that if the band wants to share the exclusive on their social media, that'd be great!
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User Review Guide
11/20/14 at 07:38 AM by Explode
User Review Guide
Last edited by Anthony Sorendino on 6/9/15

Any user on the site can submit an album review. Before doing so, however, you want to make sure you avoid some of the common pitfalls in album reviews.

The Age-Old Question: Band Names - Singular or Plural?

Should you treat band names as plural or singular nouns?

The simple answer to this is that there is no hard and fast rule. Choose what you prefer, but be consistent. Singular (Brand New) and plural (The Menzingers) band names can be confusing, but you should treat them both the same.

Here on the site we have a preference for treating band names as plural nouns and, subsequently, using plural verbs and pronouns. An easy way to remember this is to say "the members of" in your head before you let a band name take an action:

(the members of) The Menzingers are going on tour. They will be stopping in twenty cities.
(the members of) Brand New are releasing a new album next week. They will be doing a record release show.

(the members of) The Menzingers have released a new album.
(the members of) Brand New have scheduled meet and greets for their new tour.

(the members of) The Menzingers aren't releasing a new album this year.
(the members of) Brand New aren't going on tour until next year.

Using plural verbs also prevents the need to use the awkward pronoun "it" over "they."

Most Common Mistakes

The majority of reviews that are sent back are due to the following issues. Take a look at the following paragraph:

The Menzingers released their album, Rented World, last month. The guitar work in "Transient Love," "In Remission," and "Sentimental Love" is impressive. The lyrics of "In Remission" are the most notable: "If everyone needs a crutch, then I need a wheelchair."

Album Titles
Rented World, last month.

Make sure every album title you mention is in italics. If you're making the album title possessive, the apostrophe and "s" aren't italicized.

Song Titles
The guitar work in "Transient Love," "In Remission," and "Sentimental Love" is impressive.

Make sure you put every song title in quotes and put any punctuation on the inside of the quotations.

Quoting Lyrics
The lyrics of "In Remission" are the most notable: "If everyone needs a crutch, then I need a wheelchair."

I used a colon in my lyrics sentence because the part of the sentence before the colon is a complete sentence. You'd use a comma for something like this: During the song, "In Remission," singer Greg Barnett sings, "If everyone needs a crutch, then I need a wheelchair."

Punctuation and Quotation Marks

The two above examples both include the use of punctuation and quotation marks. Always include punctuation within your quotation marks.

The only reason to ever use single quotation marks is when you have a quote within a quote.

Include the Album Art

The album art can actually be any size (the site will re-size it), but make sure it's square.

Rate the Album

Use the rating system on the right side of the submission page. If you're not a big fan of rating, just choose the number that best matches your review, and make every option that number.

Other Common Mistakes

Capitalization in Band Names and Album Titles

Is it The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place or The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place?

What about Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness vs. Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness?

Ultimately, it comes down to style choice. Formally, you should capitalize the first word, the last word, and all principal or main words (verbs, nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives) and all words longer than three letters. Recently, however, some sites have been capitalizing every word in the title.

Do what feels natural to you, but be consistent.

Apostrophe Errors With Years

Write years like this: 2000s, 1980s, '70s, '90s.

Saying 2000's or 80's implies either an "is" contraction or a possessive: 2000's hurricane.

Song Genres

Don't capitalize genres like: emo, pop, or rock.

How To Be a Strong Writer / Helpful Tips

Here are some other helpful tips to help you write a perfect album review!

Your Ultimate Goal

Your ultimate goal as an album reviewer is to get your message across in the least amount of words possible. If there is a sentence that doesn't help you achieve that goal, remove it.

Use Paragraphs

Use a short paragraph structure. It'll make your review more digestible.

Talk About What Resonates With You

You don't always have to cover everything. It's alright to never mention certain songs. Talk about what you like/dislike about the album the most. Songs that you don't have strong positive or negative feelings about aren't always interesting to talk about. If you find yourself struggling to write about an album, take a couple of days off. If you return and are still struggling, what results may not make for a captivating review.

Most importantly, if the album as a whole doesn't register with you, either positively or negatively, it'll most likely make for a boring review. It's much easier to write when you have strong feelings.

Semicolons Are Your Friend and People Don't Use Them Anymore

Semicolons are the best way to make your paragraphs seem less choppy; they are the perfect way to combine two closely related sentences. Just remember that they don't replace commas; both sentences on the side of a semicolon have to be complete sentences. Think of the semicolon as a soft period.

Use Evernote or an Email Client / Always Keep a Copy

If you draft your album review in a word processor, a lot of times some weird formatting carries over to the web. I'd recommend writing in a web based app or in Gmail. That way, you can work on your review anywhere, and it's automatically backed up. Don't send us your only copy!

Find an Editor / Preview Your Review / Read Over It

Ask a friend to read over your review! Adding a second pair of eyes is a great way to pick up things that you missed. Be sure to use the preview button to make sure your formatting looks alright. Read it again before submitting!

Use Ctrl-F (Cmd-F) to Hunt for Common Mistakes

It's good to search for incorrect uses of "its" and "it's" and "then" and "than." Doing a quick find can clean up your review in seconds.


People vs. Entities (Grammar Girl)

Colon Usage (Grammar Girl)

Collective Nouns (Grammar Girl)

Are Names of Sports Teams and Bands Singular, or Plural? (Daily Writing Tips)

Capitalizing Titles (Grammar Girl)
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Against Me!, Jimmy Eat World and The Gaslight Anthem (Philly)
09/25/14 at 06:53 PM by Explode
Against Me!
Jimmy Eat World
The Gaslight Anthem

The Skyline Stage at the Mann Center, Philadelphia
September 12th, 2014

See all of the photos here.

A 73 degree September night: partly cloudy, a nice 8mph breeze, 49% humidity, and three first time bands for me. The Skyline Stage at the Mann Center sits comfortably atop a hill in West Fairmount Park with a beautiful view of the Philly skyline. You couldn't ask for a better night.

I was finishing up my Farm Truck Asian style tacos when I noticed I only had five minutes until seven. I looked across at the EMT tent; one of the guys was doing a routine inventory check. The ambulance sat dormant behind him. I scarfed down the remaining taco and headed toward the crowd. As I metered the stage, I could see Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace backstage. There was still sunlight pouring from behind me, a perfect spotlight.

Against Me!

Music: Against Me! is a relatively new band for me. I had spend the recent weeks familiarizing myself with their most popular live songs, so I had a pretty good handle on their set. It was certainly a performance driven set; there were almost no breaks for talking/commentary between songs. I've seen this once before in Explosions in the Sky. It's a rarer, but much purer form of performance. They played my favorites off of Transgender Dysphoria Blues including "FuckMyLife666" and "True Trans Soul Rebel."

Photo: The sunset allowed me to use a more forgiving ISO speed. I felt more confident and relaxed compared to my recent shows, a good sign that I'm starting to get used to this. I chose to use aperture priority mode over manual mode, and focused most of my shots on Laura. I'm a firm believer against the "frontman/woman syndrome" that you see in a lot of bands, but I'm also a believer in the fact that you need to take a lot of shots of your subject. I took about two hundred or so shots, and headed back to meet up with some friends.

Setlist:Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
New Wave
Walking Is Still Honest
Unconditional Love
Clichť Guevara
Don't Lose Touch
Transgender Dysphoria Blues
I Was a Teenage Anarchist
Thrash Unreal
White Crosses
True Trans Soul Rebel

Jimmy Eat World

Music: As I was standing in the pit for JEW, I stared at the backdrop displaying their name and found myself smiling to myself. Personally, I jumped on the Jimmy wagon full-time when Chase This Light came out in 2007, but I quickly became a super-fan; I've been overdosing on their discography ever since. They're legends, and the fact that they're line-up has been unchanged since the early 90s furthers that fact.

Tom Linton must have been sick, because who I assume was their guitar tech played the entire set. They started off with "A Praise Chorus" before rolling into a personal favorite, "Big Casino." I couldn't help but scream the words as I snapped away.

They played all of the favorites, minus "Pain" which was alright in my book. As a Chase fan, it would have been great to hear "Always Be" or "Dizzy" but I'll take "Let It Happen," which they completely killed. Hearing the "Ha, ha, ha..." during the post-chorus was surreal.

After "Futures," Jim mentioned that they saw Mineral play last night and that he was full of teary eyed nostalgia. He then reflected on how how they've played First Unitarian and the TLA in Philly (two smaller venues, especially First Unitarian, which is the basement of a church) and that Futures is turning ten this year. Not surprisingly, "23" was next.

After "I Will Steal You Back" was "Bleed American." The juxtaposition created a huge surge of energy for the latter. The nostalgic factor was certainly at play and continued right into the closing pair: "Sweetness" and "The Middle."

Photo: To my dismay, fog started pouring out into the stage right before they started playing. At this time, the sun was long gone as well. Fog always makes it harder to get a good focus, and noticed that many shots weren't usable.

Setlist:A Praise Chorus
Big Casino
My Best Theory
Get It Faster
Lucky Denver Mint
Let It Happen
I Will Steal You Back
Bleed American
The Middle

The Gaslight Anthem

Music: Personally, I was beyond excited for TGA. I was a little anxious, though because the group I was with wasn't overly familiar with them. Thankfully, I didn't notice a big exodus after JEW finished up. I'm sure our proximity to Jersey played a part.

When I was waiting for TGA to come on, I didn't think twice about the Against Me! cover on the bass drum. When the band came out, Brian mentioned that Benny had an emergency (a real one, not a joke one) and had to run home. The last thing they wanted to do was cancel the set. He announced that Atom Willard was going to fill in, and to bear with them. "Atom isn't exactly a fan of our music", he said. "We'll do our best."

Atom started the set off by launching right into "Stay Vicious" and following up with "Wooderson," the latter of which I discovered was a popular live song and had to familiarize myself with earlier (what an awesome song).

Brian seemed impressed with Atom after that, looking at the band members and saying, "Not bad." He mentioned how nice of a night it was and that they had never been in a venue like this before. I found myself listening to Atom as the songs rolled by. I wasn't sure how much of what he was doing was rehearsed or just pure improvisation. It seemed like a mix of both.

After "Get Hurt" which had a huge response from the crowd, it was Brian's time to reminisce. He said how they'd started out playing house shows. When they landed their first show at the Trocadero, they were asked to do a second show. He didn't think they could pull it off, but they filled both nights.

After that, they dove into "Howl" which had a great crowd reaction. After the song winded down, Brian looked to Alex Rosamilla and said "Why not play a song that we haven't practiced in two years? We're down a man, so what could go wrong? We wrote this song in a van in Florida in 3.2 seconds. Alex was like 'Check this out' and we just went with it." The howling riffs of "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" followed soon after. The carefree attitude was present during their entire set. It was truly something unique, a time to relax and try some new things.

One of my most anticipated, "American Slang" came afterward. Brian sang the choruses in a lower pitch, but it still sounded great.

"Great Expectations" came next. The lights switched to a red and white pattern, which fit the giant Get Hurt album art hanging up. After that, Brian mentioned that these songs are fast, and that they play them a bit slower. He also said "we've got a bunch more." He wasn't joking; there were still ten songs to go.

The first act ended with the cover of "The House of the Rising Sun." After that, Atom was relieved of his duties, and they brought out stools to play the rest of the set in an acoustic fashion.

As they were bringing out the acoustic guitars and stools, Brian revealed that Atom had been learning all of these songs since noon. To a casual listener like myself, you couldn't even tell the difference.

They dove right into the acoustic set with a mix of new songs, bonus tracks, and B-sides. I believe some of these songs had never been played like this before; it was a unique experience to say the least. The energy of the crowd, however, certainly died down a bit.

Before playing "The Navesink Banks," Brian said how they hadn't played this one like this since their first record came out.

For a hardcore TGA fan, I'm sure, it was heaven. During "High Lonesome," my group decided to leave. I was looking forward to hearing some more off of Handwritten, namely the title track and my all time favorite TGA song, "Keepsake" and was relieved to see that they hadn't played those after I left.

Photo: About halfway through the second song, I decided to grab my monopod and try something different. I didn't have my shutter remote, but I was still able to add to me height and capture a different angle. I'll definitely be doing this some more in the future.

Setlist:Stay Vicious
Rollin' And Tumblin'
The '59 Sound
Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?
Get Hurt
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
American Slang
Great Expectations
Stray Paper
The House of the Rising Sun (Ashley & Foster cover)
Dark Places (acoustic)
Have Mercy (acoustic)
The Navesink Banks (acoustic)
She Loves You (acoustic)
Break Your Heart (acoustic)
High Lonesome (acoustic)
Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts (acoustic)
1930 (acoustic)

*First 12 tracks with Atom Willard on drums

See all of the photos here.
Tags: Against Me!, Jimmy Eat World, The Gaslight Anthem, photo
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Thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge
08/24/14 at 04:50 AM by Explode
The ice bucket challenge has been one of the most impactful social media phenomena of our generation. And the beauty is that it wasnít started by a marketing team or executive. It goes to show the true power and potential of social media and networking online; a power that didnít exist ten years ago. For those who think those who dump ice water on their heads and donít donate are foolish and donít make an impact, think again. Completing the challenge and not donating is more valuable than not completing the challenge in the first place. Itís the same thing as donating to ďawareness.Ē You donít need money to spread awareness.

A guilty feeling has been created for those who donít donate. People are now only donating because others are making them feel guilty. Stop thinking that only money can make a difference. That isnít what this is about.

Itís the challenge itself that has spread like wildfire; the challenge itself is the reason for the media coverage, the reason that this has become so big. Word of mouth is a tremendously powerful tool.

The ice bucket challenge will be studied by social media and business moguls for years to come. This will be attempted again and again, almost to the point of receiving chain emails/IMs. Those who have donated have made a difference, but there are hundreds of charities that deserve the publicís attention. Donate to the charity that you care about, the charity that supports something that has affected your life.
Tags: ice bucket challenge, ALS
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The Unknown Bands of Warped Tour, a Solution
05/08/14 at 11:43 AM by Explode
The Unknown Bands of Warped Tour, a Solution

I really hate the fact that I don't know many of the bands on this year's Warped Tour. Firstly, It's not the tour's fault; not at all. It's their job to give exposure to lesser known bands. In 2007, I was seeing another band while Paramore, a band that I had never heard of at the time, was playing on another stage. I wish I would have known to check them out. Warped should be more about discovery, and less about seeing your favorite band for the fifth time.

In my opinion, Warped needs to create a showcase. For 90 minutes (in the morning), everyone would flock to one stage (Camden's dual stages would work perfectly to account for set up time) to see bands play 2 songs. They get once chance to showcase, and if the crowd likes them, maybe they're awarded a longer set later in the day on one of the smaller stages. Maybe these are local bands from the area who just come to a few stops, or maybe they're on for the whole tour. If they're on for the full tour, then the smaller bands can rotate. One day they'll play the showcase with a chance at a longer set, and other days they'll be guaranteed a longer set and another band can take the showcase spot.

Maybe it won't work because if you're a big fan of one of the smaller bands, you might not get to see them for more than 2 songs. On the other hand, they'll be playing to the entire audience on that stop. They'll build a following and you can see them when they come to town for a show.

Ultimately, I think something needs to be done to combat the entire "Who is this band? Eh, I'll pass" mindset.

Anyway, a few more bands were just announced, and you can read a little bit about them below. Give them a listen:

Wind in Sails
Newport, Rhode Island

Warped Dates: 7-6 to 7-13

Immediately I get a strong City and Colour vibe from Evan Pharmakis. You might know him from post-hardcore band, Vanna, but he's been setting out on his own for Wind In Sails since 2012. Evan's music is available in two flavors. If you prefer a more stripped down sound, check out October 2013 release, Dark Nights over on Bandcamp. I recommend "Heart to Focus" which you can stream above. If you want check out a more full-band sound, check out Brighter Days on Spotify. I'd recommend "Set Adrift" off of that release.

RIYLAnberlin, City and Colour, Anthony Green

Face the King
New York, New York

Warped Dates: 7-12 to 7-19

For some reason, I was expecting this to be a heavier band. I turned my speakers down before I started playing 2011 release Face the King. Then I heard the delay on the guitars and turned my speakers back up. New York rockers, Face the King definitely don't deliver the type of music you might expect on the tour. You won't find any screaming or pop-punk melodies here. I really enjoyed "All the Pretty Things Between" and "You, Me & Sound" (which you can stream above) off of The Sound EP.

RIYL30 Seconds to Mars, Kings of Leon, Young Guns

Me Like Bees
Joplin, Missouri

Warped Dates: 7-20 to 7-31

I was surprised to see some push back on this band based on the band name alone. Believe it or not, I hear a little bit of The Format in their sound mixed with a lot of Modest Mouse. Luke Sheafer's voice has an uncanny resemblance to Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock at times. Listen to "Pneumonia" and you'll see what I mean. The sound they present on 2013 full length debut The Ides is actually quite impressive. I'll definitely be taking some more time with this album. Check out "Comet and the Snail" and I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised.

RIYLDear and the Headlights, The Format, Modest Mouse, Steel Train

I, the Breather
Baltimore, Maryland

Warped Dates: 6-13 to 8-3

I'm really not the guy to talk about a hardcore band, but if you're into the heavier genres, give Baltimore's I, the Breather a listen. They were signed to Sumerian on 2010 and have two full lengths with a third slated for July. They'll be on the tour with label mates Born of Osiris and DayShell.

RIYLblessthefall, Asking Alexandria

Captain Capa
Bad Frankenhausen, Germany

Warped Dates: 6-13 to 8-3

Captain Capa is an electronic band from, get this, a town called Bad Frankenhausen, in Germany. Check out "Berlin Fainting" in the video above which is from 2011's Save My Life. I tried looking up some interviews, but they're all in German. If you're interested, go check out 2013's Foxes. I'd recommend "Ghosts" and "24."

RIYLIt's German electronica! Just give them a listen!

Strangers You Know
Los Angeles, California

Warped Dates: 6/20, 6/22, 6/25

LA group Strangers You Know was a little hard to find (they used to be called Reprise), but I was finally able to track down "Smoke and Mirrors" which you can stream above. It's quite catchy, and attracted me instantly. Check out "Be It" and "More Than We Have" off of First World Answers.

RIYLDear and the Headlights, Alt-J, Young Statues, A Great Big Pile of Leaves

So there's a quick run through! Even if you don't stop by and see these bands perform this summer, you'll never have to say "I've never heard of that band" ever again :)
Tags: Warped Tour, Wind in Sails, Face the King, Me Like Bees, I the Breather, Captain Capa
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Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter - Initial Thoughts
01/21/14 at 07:45 AM by Explode
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter

"Crystallized" stimulates my pop craving in all of the right ways. I can see it dominating the alternative airwaves similar to the recent campaigns by Imagine Dragons' "It's Time" or Bastille's "Pompeii." I just pray that they don't overplay it. I think those two are seen as more "mainstream" for whatever reason, so we should be in the clear.

Five tracks in, and I'm praying that the album won't be top-heavy. "Anagram" does it's job perfectly in that pole position. Here comes "Daydreamer" following up the title track. I'm putting a lot of pressure on this one, but I can take an average track to wind-down from the front line-up. Alright, it wasn't bad.

It sounds like "Firelight" is the real wind-down, which makes sense because it cuts the album in half. If they can pack the second half with as much power as the first, than I'd be very surprised. In itself, not an amazing track off the first listen, but it was enjoyable. Now "Camera" comes in, still pretty slow. Possibly going to pick up? It has to. You can't have two slow tracks in a row! You just can't! This track will go insane in a few seconds.... (1:00). Alright, things are interesting now, but still pretty chill (1:57). If anything, this is a build up track to "In My Home." "Camera" is sounding like something you'd open a show with before going crazy... or maybe just a chill song with a cool light show going on.

Here we go! "In My Home" is starting off wonderfully (:17). I can feel a great chorus coming. Was that a chorus, or a second verse?

I'm hoping there's a favorite hiding in the back section somewhere. There has to be something absolutely huge back there.
Tags: young the giant
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EOTY 2014
01/15/14 at 06:21 AM by Explode
Yep, starting early this year.

Late Discoveries


Volcano Choir

Hudson & Troop

EOTY 2014

Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter

We Were Promised Jetpacks - TBA

Walk the Moon - TBA

Taking Back Sunday - Happiness Is

Inventions - TBA

XO - Heart

Nick Mulvey - First Mind May 12th

Foster the People

Motion City Soundtrack

Say Anything

Manchester Orchestra - Cope


The Menzingers - TBA


Matthew Mayfield

Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield 3-25-14

Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos

Snow Patrol

Greg Laswell


The Fray





The Colourist
Tags: eoty 2014
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How Spotify is ruining my life
07/17/12 at 09:39 AM by Explode
So since I found Spotify about a year ago, I've been so overwhelmed with new music. I remember the days of saying "Damn, I need new music." Well those days are long gone now. Long gone.

Even if I find a new album that I sort of like, I don't really consider it "listened to" until I give it maybe five full listens. That's really when you can think back and start to form an opinion. There are albums that take months or even a year to fully hit me. Driver Friendly's "Chase the White Whale" is a perfect example. At first, I only liked the first half of the album, up to "Remember When..." but now this album is one of my favorites of all time. I find myself rediscovering bands/albums that I've had on my iPod for five years.

I'm trying to give all of this music a fair chance and avoid "once-overs." In my current rotation are: Man Overboard, Fireworks, Pinsky, Walk the Moon, Eagle Scout, Owen, and Sucre. These are all bands that I discovered over the past few months and I've been able to enjoy their music because of Spotify.

Now that Spotify radio came out, my list of bands to check out keep growing... It will never end, and that is why Spotify is ruining my life.

Btw... if you haven't listened to Imagine Dragons yet, do yourself a favor and check out their Continued Silence EP. Their upcoming album is the AOTY for 2012 that no one saw coming. Check out my review here.
Tags: Spotify, Driver F, Driver Friendly, Chase the White Whale, Imagine Dragons
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