I have a playlist on my iPod that I've been overplaying for the last week or so. I call it my 'MVP' mix. Why?
M - The Mile After
V - Valencia
P - Promise of Redemption
And these three bands have put out some of the best albums I've heard this year, in the pop-punk genre at least.
The Mile After has a raw sound with a great attention to detail. Their harmonies and breakdowns are incredible for such a rookie band. Not every song is amazing, but more than half on their album Armada are incredible. "Piano Song", "The Only One", "So Damn Easy", "That's The Way It Should Be" and "Money Is Not A Thing" are all great songs that range from unique poppy gems to power ballads to epic marathons. I'll review this album soon enough, but I thought I'd recommend it now so people can start to hear about this band.
Valencia went from being somewhat of an afterthought to maybe one of my favorite bands and definitely one of my top-10 albums this year. Not only do the lyrics have more meaning and substance than any other pop-punk album I've heard this year, but the songs are solid, well-crafted, catchy, and have the 'in-your-face' quality missing from the genre lately. I don't understand why a band can't sing pretty while rocking? Why does it have to be all about auto-tune and synth lately? Valencia brings back crunching guitars, driving drums, and a singer that has a solid voice without singing through his nose. "All At Once" is maybe my favorite song I've hear all year, "The Good Life" is the perfect summer sing-a-long, "Where Did You Go?" makes me smile and want to cry at the same time (smile for the upbeat song, cry for the emotional lyrics), and "I Can't See Myself" is a sick jam. Valencia's We All Need a Reason to Believe IS the reason to believe in pop-punk again. And I say this knowing that it has been said by many people already... but it really does live up to the hype.
Promise of Redemption released their album When The Flowers Bloom months ago, but I finally checked it out to see the contrast with Valencia. Shane really pours his soul into this album. The title track "When the Flowers Bloom" is heart-wrenching and powerful, "Remember the First Day", the alternate and original version of Valencia's "Where Did You Go?" is beautiful and touching, and "How Fast" is the song that defines me. The album is chalk full of ballads about Shane's girlfriend who passed away, which really powers the emotion behind the record. While the album is not completely perfect, it has more than enough to be worthwhile. If anything, the pure emotion behind the songs makes this album worth having.