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The World As We Know It
First Impressions: Go Radio - Close The Distance
08/14/12 at 07:08 AM by Ryan Gardner
After having Close The Distance for a week, I can already say this is the record Jason Lancaster was born to write.

This time, Go Radio take a more pop-rock route than gritty pop-punk - and it's the perfect direction for them. The songs exhibit Lancaster's ability to manipulate melodies and choruses in order to truly pack a punch. To accomplish this, song structure allows each song to build and grow into a chorus, making Close The Distance the most dynamic collection of songs Lancaster has written. Each song being penned in a way that builds anticipation for the hook. This is exactly how pop-rock music should be done - take notes.

I don't want to give away too much until my official review, but just know that if you're a fan of Go Radio's previous material, this tops that again and again. Whereas Lucky Street was a perfect balance of gritty - tracks like "Kill The Beast" - and sentimental pop-rock tunes - I'm looking at "Hold On" - Close The Distance eliminates the gap between the two, closing the distance, and has Go Radio going right down the piano-pop-rock path. This is the road they've been destined to take for years, and it's one that will put a huge smile on your face track after track.

I wasn't sure if Go Radio could top Lucky Street with the perfect Fall record, but Close The Distance is the record they've always been supposed to make - it's catchy, melodic, and meticulous. Come September, this is the record that will get the guys the attention they've always deserved.

Go Radio's sophomore record, Close The Distance, drops September 18th via Fearless. Listen to "Go To Hell" and "Collide"

-Ryan Gardner
Tags: first impressions, go radio, close the distance, fearless records
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First Impressions: Yellowcard - Southern Air
07/09/12 at 07:43 AM by Ryan Gardner
Growing up with Ocean Avenue in constant rotation in my stereo, Yellowcard have always held a special place in my heart. Seeing them on their headlining tour and on Warped Tour reminded me of all these memories.

Well, Southern Air is the accumulation of every Yellowcard release into one powerhouse of a record - think Paper Walls on steroids. There's a level of confidence here that is unmatched by any of their previous material. The opening track is everything we love about YC openers - huge chorus, massive build up, hooks galore.

This record just has it. It's easily the most…powerful and energetic record they've ever done - and I'm saying that after only a week of listening. Never thought they'd top Paper Walls, but Southern Air just feels huge, and it very well may with more listens. There's no other way to describe it.

The guest appearances all add different elements to the record, but the main thing I'm noticing here is how much more powerful the entire band sounds. Mackin's violin defines many moments, while the guitars and drums really affect the melody and mood of the songs - it's a full band effort in the best way yet. And Key has more confidence and power in his voice than ever before, as noted by how varied his range is this time around.

The album has addictive pop-punk tunes with gritty guitars, violin solos, songs that are more "pop" than anything YC have done, and a heartbreaking ballad - it has it all.

Simply put, this record is special. It could easily top Paper Walls as my favorite YC record, given time and experiences that tie memories to it.

August 14th isn't too far away, and Southern Air will surely be the soundtrack to most of our summers.

Hear "Always Summer" here.
Tags: first impressions, yellowcard, southern air, hopeless records
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First Impressions: All-American Rejects, The - Kids in the Street
03/13/12 at 10:36 AM by Ryan Gardner
After only a couple listens thus far, I'm incredibly impressed with The All-American Rejects' upcoming record, Kids in the Street. It really demonstrates Tyson's skill as a pop-rock front-man more-so than any of their other releases. At this point, I'm calling it the best pop-rock album of the year thus far - and it will probably keep that title very well.

Look for my review near the release date, March 26th.
Tags: first impressions, all american rejects, kids in the street
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First Impressions: He Is We - Skip To The Good Part EP
12/13/11 at 05:06 PM by Ryan Gardner
About a month shy of this time last year, I wrote my first review as a staffer here for - yes, you guessed - He Is We's debut record, My Forever.

So, when I heard about and received Skip To The Good Part, their upcoming EP, I was incredibly excited to hear it, as I still spin My Forever often.

Sounding just like you'd expect tunes from the adorable Rachel Taylor to sound, the tracks on this EP pick up right where their debut left off. However, what really makes this stand out is the experimentation and greater reliance on piano, most noted on the stunning "Our July In The Rain."

I'll save the rest for my review next week, but fans are sure to love this.
Tags: first impressions, he is we
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First Impressions: Pianos Become The Teeth - The Lack Long After
10/13/11 at 09:24 PM by Ryan Gardner
First things first: it's been a fantastic year for the hardcore scene - or The Wave as referred to by fans.

Pianos Become The Teeth's upcoming The Lack Long After will be compared to Wildlife for many reasons - the overwhelming emotion, hard-to-stomach content, heartbreak, genre, etc. After first listen, it was hard to take in this one. Kyle Durfey sings/screams with so much emotion it's too much at times, even uncomfortable - in the best way possible, though. The lyrical content on this record is truly heartbreaking, as the tragedy of Durfey's father's death haunts every moment of the record.

This is the album that will change the game for PBTT completely. Fulfilling their place in The Wave this year, the guys have outdone themselves with The Lack Long After. What results is what may be the most intense, tragically emotional record of the year. It will leave you shaking after first listen.

November 1st isn't too far away, and I'm fully confident that fans will be absolutely floored with The Lack Long After. If you love records like Wildlife, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me, and Empty Days & Sleepless Nights so far this year, get ready.
Tags: pianos become the teeth, first impressions, topshelf records
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First Impressions: Cartel - In Stereo EP
09/19/11 at 08:36 PM by Ryan Gardner
Cartel's latest EP, In Stereo, is every bit worth the wait. As always, Will Pugh sounds absolutely great, and the songs are as catchy as ever.

I'm sure by now you've heard "Lesson in Love," but that's just a taste of what's in store with In Stereo. "American Dreams" is simply addictive, while the title track is one of the most "punk" tracks the guys have done.

I won't spoil too much until my review, but it's safe to say Cartel pick up right where they left off with the fantastic Cycles back in 2009.

In Stereo drops October 4th so be on the lookout for my review around then - be excited.
Tags: first impressions, cartel, in stereo
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First Impressions: Blessthefall - Awakening
08/18/11 at 02:32 PM by Ryan Gardner
Basically picking up right where Witness left off, Blessthefall are back with Awakening. Therefore, it's safe to say if you enjoyed the former record, this one will be right up your alley - it's heavier, more structured, and the vocal delivery is much stronger. I guess it's Witness Pt. 2 only cranked up and with better musicianship and instrumentation. Oh and it's heavy. The guitar play is also a huge standout this time around.

Not a lot to say yet, as I'll leave the gist of it for my review. However, this will definitely turn some heads for fans of the genre, as it cements the growth of the band in every aspect.

The record drops October 4th via Fearless Records so be on the watch for my review around that time.
Tags: first impressions, blessthefall, fearless records, awakening
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First Impressions: Oh, Sleeper - Children of Fire
08/16/11 at 03:58 PM by Ryan Gardner
Picking up right where they left off with the stunning Son of the Morning, Oh, Sleeper return with Children of Fire. Sticking to their signature sound and tactics, Oh, Sleeper prove that third time is the charm, as this record is easily their most dynamic album to date. They even experiment more this time around, incorporating interesting acoustic pieces.

I'll save the rest for my review, but it's safe to say that this is my favorite heavy release of the year thus far, proving that Oh, Sleeper are one of the best heavy acts in the scene today.

The album drops September 27th off of Solid State Records, so be on the lookout for my review around that time.
Tags: first impressions, oh, sleeper, oh sleeper, solid state records
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First Impressions: Jack's Mannequin - People and Things
08/08/11 at 12:37 PM by Ryan Gardner
The upcoming Jack's Mannequin record, People and Things, may be the most complete JM record yet. McMahon sounds stunning, as always, but it's the deep-rooted intricacy on tracks such as "Hostage" and "Casting Lines" (really the final few tracks in general) that really sets this record apart as something brilliant. It's intricate and emotional and will be perfect come fall this year, making the October release date more than ideal. Lyrically, McMahon is as open and honest - and of course optimistic - as always, and this will probably go down as his best work as a lyricist.

Picking up right where The Glass Passenger left off, People and Things is a true gem. I cannot wait for everyone else to hear this.

The record will be available everywhere October 4th via Sire Records / Warner Brother Records.
Tags: first impressions, jack's mannequin, people and things
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First Impressions: Never Shout Never - Time Travel
08/04/11 at 09:13 AM by Ryan Gardner
As a huge fan of last year's Harmony, I was very excited to see where Drew would progress with Time Travel. Rather than repeat the same old-fashioned pop song sound, he uses Time Travel to explore a new sound, not unlike that of I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business at times but more Queen-arena-rock style. As a result, this record is easily his best work to date, and will definitely turn some heads and gain him quite a lot of new fans, I'm sure.

His vocals are the main highlight, as they really couple well with the spacey instrumentation. Let's face it, the kid has got talent - we saw that with Harmony. It seems now Drew has just embraced his talent and taken it the next level. Clocking in at just 8 songs of 30 minutes total time, Time Travel is short and to the point, yet heavy with layered, atmospheric instrumentation that really accents Drew's vocal abilities.

I'll save the rest for my review, but be excited. This record drops September 20th off Warner Brothers Records, so look for my review around then.
Tags: first impressions, never shout never, time travel
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First Impressions: City of Ships - Minor World
07/07/11 at 10:00 PM by Ryan Gardner
For fans of Thrice, Therefore I Am, Thursday, and Moving Mountains, City of Ships will soon be among your new favorite bands. Their upcoming record, Minor World, is fueled with gut-wrenching emotion and passion and driven by bloodcurling screams and ambient musical composition. This is a record that is sure to turn heads; it's ambient and dark yet brooding and violent at the same time.

Simply put, Minor World is a raw piece of post-rock/hardcore music done at its best. It's a record eclipsed with various talents from the members, as each instrument shines and the vocal delivery encompasses the listener track after track.

This is a record that will get people talking. It takes the best of this scene and combines it into one fresh record.


The record drops July 19th, so be sure to check it out then.
Tags: first impressions, city of ships, minor world
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First Impressions: This Love - At War
07/07/11 at 01:12 PM by Ryan Gardner
I've been lucky enough to hear This Love's upcoming concept record, At War. As a huge fan of their EP last year, I was anxiously awaiting the band's debut full-length record.

Simply put, At War sounds nothing like a debut record. Vocally, Joe McFaddin sounds better than ever, but what fans will really notice here is how technical the guitar work and instrumentation has gotten this time around. It's safe to say this record will garner the band a myriad of new fans, as it may be the best straight up pop-rock record in recent memory. I'll save the rest for my review come August, but it's clear that This Love have put all their effort forth to win this war.

The record drops August 2nd; be sure to check back for my official review around that time. Be excited.
Tags: first impressions, this love, at war
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First Impressions: Bayonet
06/15/11 at 03:44 PM by Ryan Gardner
For fans of the heavy parts of Senses Fail, Bayonet will be the band for you come July. The EP is basically the heavy parts of SF only cranked up and much more chaotic. Buddy screams his lungs out throughout the five tracks. In my opinion, it destroys his work in Senses Fail, as the heavy parts of SF's songs are my favorite.

It's as heavy as it gets. Check back for my review around the release date (July 26th).
Tags: first impressions, bayonet, senses fail
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First Impressions: The Dangerous Summer - War Paint
06/08/11 at 09:43 PM by Ryan Gardner
Just gave The Dangerous Summer's highly anticipated sophomore record, War Paint, my first spin.

The record picks up right where 2009's fantastic Reach For The Sun left off. It's aggressive and painfully honest. AJ sounds better than ever, and the musicianship of the band may be the most noticeable growth from the the debut to this attempt.

As Jason said, no sophomore slump at all here. This was my most anticipated record of the summer - and probably the year - and the Dangerous Summer don't disappoint at all. Fans of Reach For The Sun will fall head over heels for this one, as it's the perfect follow up to RFTS.

Great job guys. Hopeless proves yet again to be the top label of the year.

July 19th will be a great day. Pre-order this.
Tags: first impressions, the dangerous summer, war paint, hopeless records
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First Impressions: Simple Plan - Get Your Heart On!
05/19/11 at 07:58 PM by Ryan Gardner
I grew up on No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls. That record, along with SOTY's Page Avenue, Good Charlotte's first two records, NFG's Catalyst, and Ocean Avenue are some of the most nostalgic records bringing me back to my younger music days and influences.

However, since then, Simple Plan have kind of let me down. While yes I did enjoy Still Not Gettin Any back in the day, I haven't listened to it in quite some time, and their latest self-titled record was a huge let down for me.

With that said, Get Your Heart On! is their proper return to their roots - their proper return to form. It's far and beyond the best, catchiest, most fun Simple Plan record yet, a great accomplishment after their last mediocre one. The record will be huge this summer, and in my opinion, it's better than ATL's Dirty Work. The ballads are better than ever, and most importantly, the pop-punk signature Simple Plan style sounds bigger than ever this time around, and Pierre kills it vocally.

Overall, it's just a fun record from start to finish, and it'll surely be a staple pop record this summer. Be excited and check out Joe's review shortly.
Tags: first impressions, simple plan
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