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First Impressions: Ellington
09/09/10 at 05:13 AM by Chris Fallon
Jake from Ellington let me hear five rough mixes from the band's upcoming full-length and it's good stuff. Normally, this is the sort of pop music that isn't typically my forte -- but it's undeniably invigorating and vibrant.

Let me just say that with all this crap in regards to Runner Runner... take a lesson, guys. This is how you make exuberant pop music laced with synth and big guitars about girls and parties. Believe it or not, you can actually mention that shit and not sound like you're talking to 15 year old females.

If All Time Low and Hellogoodbye were super awesome, this would be their baby. All Time Low's knack for hooks, Copeland's vocals, Hellogoodbye's sound, Dashboard's maturity and maybe a touch of Cartel for good measure. That's what it all sounds like, if it were blenderized.

Yes, blenderized.

Much like Mercy Mercedes' record, it's a mammoth pop album drenched with melody -- no rough edges, no aggression (some mild 'tude here and there): just big hooks, barrels of fun and tight production. (Matt Malpass = genius) The keys really lift the record, and the harmonies are outstanding.

Just keep your ears peeled. If you like melodic pop-rock that emphasizes the pop in a good and meaningful way, with a real mature attitude that J-14 will probably gloss over.

Don't worry -- from what I've heard so far, no autotune overload or anything like that. I think people should dig this though -- not as soft or flighty as their last two EPs. Much poppier and zestier; it's like Chex Party Mix on tape!

Take some notes, bands. You know who you are.
Tags: first impressions, ellington, all time low, hellogoodbye, copeland, mercy mercedes
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Some First Impressions
06/03/10 at 10:43 PM by Chris Fallon
Too much good music coming my way lately. Off With Their Heads hasn't left my ears all day. It is precisely the sort of record I have needed over the past few days. Love the lyrics and melodies. If Face to Face's Trever Keith fronted a melodic hardcore band... this is what it would sound like.

I also have to hand it to Steel Train for becoming a new obsession, as well. Mark my words: it's 2010's Dog Problems. The sort of jubilant pop music that you don't need to feel guilty for enjoying. Definitely a classic blend of what has made good pop music so timeless.

House of Heroes has impressed me, too. It doesn't top their last album, but when it comes to making strong alternative pop-rock tracks, these dudes know what's up. Reminds me of Switchfoot, Jimmy Eat World and Acceptance. A bit uneven in spots, in terms of what kind of album it wants to be. Still, you won't get a majority of it out of your head. The last song is a tad too preachy for my sake, but I'm just going to go ahead and interpret the "constant in my life" being a song about Desmond Hume.

You know what band is as rad as popsicles? Authority Zero. I'm a pretty simple guy when it comes to the punk rock music I like, and this is something that is going to be a blast to play loud during summer. Cannot wait to cruise around Seattle with Stories of Survival on the stereo.

And if you need more reasons to enjoy old-school pop punk... give the Dopamines a listen. Hooks are so catchy, my ears need a condom.

Frankly, I have way too much music coming my way. My seven picks for the Absolute 100 (coming this August!) were incredibly tough to widdle down. Somehow I did it, and I keep finding music I want to include.

Don't let my cool bragging fool you. It's a tough life I lead.
Tags: first impressions, steel train, house of heroes, off with their heads, authority zero
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First Impressions: Banner Pilot - Collapser
08/18/09 at 04:27 AM by Chris Fallon
Imagine Dillinger Four getting together with the Ramones to play Kerplunk! with the production style of post-Goddammit Alkaline Trio.

Catchy melodies, definitely hearing classic influences all over this one. However, I really dig it. Fat Wreck scores again. "Write It Down" is my current favorite. Comes out September 1st. Check that shit.
Tags: first impressions, banner pilot
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First Impressions: This Time Next Year's "Road Maps and Heart Attacks"
08/14/09 at 02:46 AM by Chris Fallon
Reminds me of a faster Yellowcard mixed with Midtown, circa Save the World, Lose the Girl. Lots of highly-condensed energy in a short amount of time. Pleasantly surprising and easy to listen to. Should easily please melodic punkers and pop-punkers alike (much like Broadway Calls and The Swellers).

I'm beginning to think the classic style of pop-punk -- the kind we all know and love -- is either coming back around of going through a real hot streak.
Tags: first impressions, this time next year, road maps and heart attacks, equal vision
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First Impressions: The Swellers' "Ups and Downsizing"
08/12/09 at 06:24 PM by Chris Fallon
Like My Everest on hyperspeed, The Swellers have basically tightened their sound and matured as vocalists & songwriters for their Fueled by Ramen debut. At nearly 40 minutes, you've got some songs that will bring in swarms of new fans ("Fire Away," "Sleeper"), anthems ("Feet First"), some old-school-feelin' pop-punk jams ("Do You Feel Better Yet," "Welcome Back Riders"), speedy skate-punk ("2009," "The Iron") and even a song that approaches six minutes in length! My favorite of the demos I heard early this year, "Sleeper," is even better than I remember, and if "Fire Away" doesn't get them some exposure, it will surely be a crime.

All in all, this album sounds fantastic (more bands need to hire Mark Michalik) and if you enjoyed My Everest... this one will not disappoint.

September 29th... get stoked!
Tags: first impressions, the swellers, ups and downsizing, fueled by ramen
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First Impressions: Farewell
08/01/09 at 02:35 AM by Chris Fallon
For as much as I love me some straightforward pop-punk like Broadway Calls or The Swellers, God help me, I just can't deny a good hook when I hear one.

For instance, I would personally score Nothing Personal around a 75% or so: fluffy, empty-headed, but still full of pleasant melodies ("Break Your Little Heart" and "Sick Little Games" are big-time guilty pleasures).

For my money, Broadway Calls recorded the best pop-punk album of the year. Set Your Goals is another choice favorite; New Found Glory recorded a fun record, and if the demos reveal anything, The Swellers will be up there with a hell of a follow-up to My Everest.

But come September 1st, one of the bigger surprises for me is Farewell's Run It Up the Flagpole. I received this album a few weeks back, and after a few occasional spins, it hit me how good this record is. As a follow-up to Isn't This Supposed to Be Fun, it kicks that record's ass. Sure, there's no "Zelda," but it has plenty of boisterous tunes that deliver a spoonful of sugar without the gut rot.

It's very heavy on the pop element of the pop-punk formula, but it doesn't come across as cliche or cookie-cutter in the way we've seen with so many scene bands. The lyrics are quite fun, the hooks come fast and it's just a carefree dose of pop-punk that actually sticks its nose up at the current trends.

All 11 tracks are just out of this world catchy, and while I won't call this the best pop-punk disc of 2009, it's up there. Been listening to it a lot between Thrice (oddly enough), so I'm earning a nice dose of seriousness and summer fun.
Tags: first impressions, farewell, pop punk, run it up the flagpole
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Some Thoughts on Upcoming Releases
07/18/09 at 02:42 PM by Chris Fallon
Had the chance to indulge in many advances lately (although a couple have leaked and a few more I have reviews for this Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, which are not mentioned here), so I figured I'd jot down my initial feelings on these albums. In case you're wondering. I hope I can score some more sweet advances down the road soon. I'm not Jason Tate or Drew Beringer or even a Julia Conny... but I am striving to be! Maybe if I wear something revealing, labels/bands will fork them over to me... not because of my professionalism, but because of my sex appeal. I am very superficial, FYI.

We Shot the Moon - A Silver Lining: Lush piano rock that's a little bit orchestral and heavy on melody. The perfect kind of music for the fall season, this will likely be a big sleeper hit for pop music fans. Won't be available until this fall, but anyone who digs piano-based rock or anything Jonathan Jones has done... you'll love this to pieces. Dare I say it's better than Fear and Love? I just might.

The Used - Artwork: Like going from super-intelligent humans to monkeys who get excited every time they see their hand move, The Used have gone from being one of the top bands to a sludgy Aiden-like dinosaur of uncreative & dull cock rock. Maybe dumping Feldmann for Squire was a mistake, because the only worthwhile song off this travesty is the first single. Rummaging through the other tracks is simply a waste of time.

Nightmare of You - Infomaniac: Despite the fact this already leaked awhile ago, it's not officially coming out for a few more weeks. I am still a huge fan of this band's self-titled debut, so while this one fails to stack up to it, I still like it a great deal. It does have some boring moments and it's darker in many places, but since it is so different... I guess that's why I enjoy it. Been getting mixed reviews from people, and I can't say it will be a Top 25-er, but every so often, it will be a nice alternative to the jauntier spirit of the debut.

fun. - Aim and Ignite: Yes, this is one more confirmation that Nate Ruess (The Format) is a phenomenal creator of pop music. In 2006, Dog Problems was not only my favorite album to be released, but also one of my favorite pop records in the last ten years. Aim and Ignite is no different, combining everything we miss about the Format with everything we love about Steel Train. Perfect summer music, and easily one of the better pop releases in years.

Farewell - Run it Up the Flagpole: That old-school '90's pop-punk sound has not died just yet, I promise you. Despite people claiming All Time Low are the ones doing it... well, frankly, that isn't true. Farewell obliterate their debut with this album (dropping Sept. 1st), and really make up for all the Warped Tour "pop-punk" that's been cluttering the record store shelves for the past couple years. This isn't an album I was expecting to enjoy this much, but for any pop-punk enthusiast, you might be surprised by this one.

Chuck Ragan - Gold Country: Eric's review hit the nail on the head, as this album is an exceptional piece of honest folk music from a very well-respected musician. It doesn't top Feast or Famine, but this album really knocks it out of the park. Top singer-songwriter record of the year for me. I'm waiting for Ragan to make this generation's Nebraska. I know he has it in him.

Broadway Calls - Good Views, Bad News: As previously mentioned, this is going to be the go-to pop-punk/punk rock record to go to. Hey, I love me some Set Your Goals and all, but while that album gathers loads of praise, this sneaky devil will slowly pull people in through word of mouth (hopefully I can be the main spout). Tons of energy, lots of moxie, and plenty of thoroughly enjoyable fun, Broadway Calls is my band to keep an eye out for this year.

Other releases I am stoked for, but have yet to grab an advance of are: Third Eye Blind, Relient K, Mute Math, Thrice, The Swellers, Strike Anywhere, Brand New, AFI, Moneen, Pearl Jam, Muse and Every Time I Die.

Also, expect me to talk about Broadway Calls and The Swellers a lot. I plan on promoting the hell out of these bands, because they deserve it. There are a few others bands I want people to latch onto as well, but those two are my main focuses because, well, I love their music and what they do.
Tags: upcoming releases, review, first impressions
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First Impressions: Broadway Calls
06/18/09 at 04:02 AM by Chris Fallon
Spent a good deal of time today with the upcoming Broadway Calls release, Good Views, Bad News. It doesn't come out until August 18th, but for those of you who (like me) loved the self-titled record, their split with Teenage Bottlerocket and the first EP... this is a worthy adversary that might be one of the big sleeper releases of 2009. More polished with a bigger budget in control, but it doesn't keep this album from shining.

Lots of good energy, big hooks and an electricity that flows into your entire system. I didn't expect this to top the self-titled disc, but it might be able to. Really solid from start to finish, and doesn't overstay its welcome (only 34 minutes long).

In a summer full of pop-punk records bound to grab a majority of interest (Set Your Goals, All Time Low), it's good to have that alternative go-to record not too many people are expecting. What a bright little ray of sunshine to have in your summer music collection.

SideOneDummy did a good thing in signing these Oregonians. I might even say that SideOneDummy is the best label at the moment. Look what their bands keep putting out! Quality shit, man! Anti-Flag, Fake Problems, Broadway Calls, The Gaslight Anthem -- they are every punk rock fan's Drive-Thru Records circa 2001 at this present time. Plus, the band is also signed to Adeline Records, co-owned by Billie Joe Armstrong. Not too shabby.

Let's just hope SideOneDummy can keep it up without any backwalking shenanigans. Yeesh.
Tags: first impressions, broadway calls, sideonedummy
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First Impressions: Anti-Flag's "The People or the Gun"
04/21/09 at 01:58 AM by Chris Fallon
Like many fans, I was severely let down by last year's The Bright Lights of America. It felt as if the major label machine had finally stolen the wheels from Anti-Flag's well-oiled big rig. Uninspired, forgettable and very by-the-numbers, The Bright Lights of America just left the band as a shell of its old self.

Thankfully, 2009 brought a heaping of new horizons, because the band ditched RCA and signed with SideOneDummy, a label who has been working wonders with The Gaslight Anthem & Fake Problems, just to name a few. I will admit Anti-Flag has had their hits and misses in the past, and I've certainly enjoyed their rawer punk past and their new-millennium more-polished aggression. For Blood and Empire was a triumphant punk rock album for the major label circuit, and their new album, People or the Gun, is a blistering, angry, rip-roaring 30 minutes of a band successfully re-discovering the reasons for why they create music for the masses.

It's a combination of old and new, really. "We Are the One" reminds me of A New Kind of Army and "This is the First Night" is an acoustic-based alt-country inspired number (For Blood and Empire had a few songs like this). The first half is definitely stronger than the latter half, as it's far more pissed off (lots of cussing on this album), but it's not really the tone so much as it's the words. "On Independence Day" and "The Old Guard" are anthems for the lower/middle-class, and "When All the Lights Go Out" is a combo (kinda slow, kinda fast & melodic).

"You Are Fired (Take This Job and, Ah, Fuck It)" is probably the angriest song the band's ever written. It's a tirade against major labels, making it seem as if the last record was one they were tied down to, without much room to breathe. 23-seconds in, and Justin Sane has gone apeshit on his resentment for the industry. To be honest, the only song that doesn't impress me is "There is No War Without Warriors (How Do You Sleep?)" -- just lacks comprehension, kinda boring and never picks up speed.

Anyway, this isn't intended to be a review, just first thoughts. I really like the album -- For Blood and Empire and Underground Network are my favorites, and this one is more along the lines of For Blood and Terror State -- still quite polished, but obviously a labor of love (the band produced it themselves). This album should definitely reel the "lost fans" back in.
Tags: first impressions, anti-flag, anti flag, people or the gun, sideonedummy
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First Impressions: Sycamore Meadows
09/25/08 at 12:27 AM by Chris Fallon
After two listens, Butch Walker's upcoming release Sycamore Meadows hasn't hit me in a way I've been expecting -- however, I'm one of the biggest supporters of Butch's work you will find this side of anamericangod.

My expectations have been high for this one. Next to Less Than Jake, this has been the release I've wanted all year. For the fans of Butch, let me break it down how my first thoughts are.

1. It's much mellower than past albums. It doesn't have very many raucous moments (the Mardi Gras themed "Ponce De Leon Ave." is about it, really) and is certainly a songwriter's album first and foremost - that only brings the disappointment that Butch's exceptional guitar work is pushed behind. That's okay though, as his voice/words make up for it ("Summer Scarves").

2. Intimacy. It's an incredibly insightful and personal record - the songs reflect that, specifically on "ATL", perhaps one of the his best songs ever.

3. For those who enjoy Bruce Springsteen's early work, and some of Jackson Browne's stuff ... this will speak to you in ways you never imagined. Butch's lyrical work is not as witty as it is simply personal (key word there), like on "Going Back/Going Home," an instant favorite of mine. The bridge, when Butch starts reciting his life story in a country-western-style verses, is to die for.

While it might not be Letters yet ... it's got potential. Lots of it. Longtime Butch fans will "get" it at first - but it might take a few listens for others, only because it's a cohesive piece of work.

Expect a review in the near future, when my words can express a bit more volume than here. Again, these are only initial thoughts ... but I figured I would at least say something to those who are intrigued.
Tags: first impressions, butch walker, sycamore meadows
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First Impressions: The Gaslight Anthem
06/24/08 at 04:32 PM by Chris Fallon
If Bruce Springsteen were more of a punk and Brandon Flowers (The Killers) had stuck to his promise about Sam's Town, we would have the sound The Gaslight Anthem present on The '59 Sound, a bluesy punk record that is an ode to the classic Americana era.

Sink Or Swim wasn't your generic punk output, so it's fresh to see this new album is doing the same and straying from a sound not many punk bands offer. So far, the album has really impressed me and seems to have very few weak spots. Album of the year material? Quite possibly. You never know.

Brian Fallon (yeah, that's right), the band's vocalist, has a vocal pitch somewhere along the lines of Greg Attonito (Bouncing Souls) and a softer-toned Brandon Flowers (The Killers). The production really reminds me of Born To Run, with reverberations that seem like they bounce off arena-sized walls of sound.

Truly an accomplishment for this band and once it gets closer to the release date (doesn't even come out until August 19th), I will post a review.
Tags: the gaslight anthem, first impressions, the 59 sound
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Last Updated: 09/09/10 (194,369 Views)
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