State Champs w/ Four Year Strong, Real Friends, Just Friends, and Bearings | Pure Noise Records Tour 2021 | Photos + Review

State Champs and co. Slay The Belasco on the Pure Noise Records Tour

Date: 10-6-21

Venue – The Belasco in Los Angeles, CA

I’ve taken in music like a sponge for as long as I could remember going to shows. Being so open-minded musically, I listen to everything from classical to death metal. However, as a photographer, I’ve photographed a ton more metal than I have other genres. Since shows have come back post lockdown, I really wanted to broaden my horizons and photograph and see bands that have always been on my bucket list. State Champs was one of those bands for me. They have always been on my radar with catchy, high energy, and derived from classic pop-punk. But when running a publication, I have to pick and choose my shows and have typically gone for the heavier metal tours over pop-punk as I know others on the team will cover it instead. With the announcement of the Pure Noise Records Tour, I knew this was finally my chance to see and photograph State Champs, but to once again see Four Year Strong, along with other bands I’ve wanted to see and photograph for years and years, like Real Friends, Just Friends, and Bearings. This showcase of bands from the Pure Noise Records lineup was excellent!

First up was Bearings from Ottawa, Canada. The quintet can be best described as the perfect blend between pop-punk and alternative. They opened up the set with “Better Off Yesterday,” which acts as somewhat of a title track off their newest album, “Hello, It’s You,” released in 2020 via Pure Noise Records. Off the bat, vocalist Dougie Cousins took command of that stage, belting out those words in tune with the major key. A staple element to any pop-punk band is that most songs are in major keys, which is a massive change-up compared to the metal I typically see and photograph. I’m all here for a change and branching out here. Guitarist Ryan Culligan acts as a backing vocalist, sometimes singing lead parts and adding harmonies that add the extra touch to the band’s songs. The second song in the set was “Aforementioned” from their 2018 release “Blue In The Dark.” This song definitely incorporates some of their indie and alternative influences, and drummer Mike McKerracher was pounding away at his drum kit with a big smile on his face throughout the whole song. Bassist Collin Hanes and guitarist Ryan Fits were grooving along during the third song, in particular, that being “Over Now,” which once again came from their 2020 release. The band just seems to really enjoy what they’re doing, and with the music they create, and you can’t help but vibe and headbang along with them. Bearings was incredibly endearing and had positively infectious energy throughout their six-song set. I cannot wait to see and photograph them again!

SETLIST

  1. Better Yesterday
  2. Aforementioned
  3. Over Now
  4. Dreams
  5. Eyes Closed
  6. Sway

Up next was Just Friends from Dublin, California. The band is best described as “funk rock,” but to me, they are honestly a melting pot of genres. They have a blend of funk-rock, alternative rock, pop-rap, ska, and a slight emo vibe that I LIVE for. They had some technical difficulties at the start of their set. Still, co-lead vocalist Brianda “Brand” Goyos Leon did a good job entertaining the crowd during the downtime. In fact, she was asking us if we had bought anything cool recently, and I held up my hand sanitizer holder, which is a unicorn cat whose horn lights up when a button is pushed. Well, Brand held it up to the crowd and yells “LOOK HOW COOL THIS IS!!” I started dying laughing, and it’s now kind of an inside joke between us, which I now have looped you all in on too! After the band fixed their technical difficulties, they started the set with their song “I Wanna Love You” from their 2018 album “Nothing But Love,” released in 2018 via Pure Noise Records. I love the vocal dynamics between Sam Kless and Brand throughout their set, with Sam providing the rapping and some singing and Brand providing her bluesy tones that really amp everything up. The next song was the band’s most popular single, “Supersonic.” This song gets the crowd dancing. You can see guitarists Brandon Downum and Matt Yankovich, along with bassist Kevin Prochnow, dancing to choreographed moves to the song while playing their instruments. It’s an absolute bop and a half of a song, so much so that I couldn’t help but stop shooting for a second and dance along with them. The band played a total of five songs, each truly showcasing their talent and range as a group. They were an absolute blast to see and photograph, and I would absolutely love the opportunity to do so again!

SETLIST

  1. I Wanna Love You
  2. Supersonic
  3. Fever
  4. Stupid
  5. Sunflower

Real Friends from Tinley Park, Illinois, was up next. Coming fresh off their new EP “Torn In Two,” released in 2021 via Pure Noise Records, the band set out on this tour as their first tour post-lockdown. This new release for the band was a new chapter in a couple of ways. It was their first release under Pure Noise Records, as they were previously signed to Fearless Records before this. The EP was also their first release with vocalist Cody Muraro. The band opened their set with the song “Nervous Wreck” from this new EP, showcasing their new music right off the bat. Cody is incredibly high energy, constantly jumping, hyping up the crowd, and owning every inch of that stage. The band came prepared for this tour, with a simple yet effective lighting set up behind them, adding a lot of contrast between the darkness and light behind them. Guitarist Dave Knox provided his excellent backing vocals and high energy when not being the mic. The band then moved on to “Me First,” from their last release on Fearless Records released in 2018 titled “Composure.” You could just see how happy the members were to be playing again. Drummer Brian Blake was constantly smiling while playing those fast pop-punk beats. Bassist Kyle Fasel held down the rhythm section with Brian, strumming those deep bass tones that bring the band’s sound to the next level. The band then moved on to the song “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” which came from their 2014 album released via Fearless Records titled “Maybe This Place Is The Same, And We’re Just Changing.” This is where I really honed in on rhythm guitarist Eric Haines, who strummed his parts with precision and seemed ecstatic to be performing again. To finally see these guys after many years of listening to them brought me a ton of excitement. Their pop-punk meets emo sound makes their sound both current and new yet feels like an homage to the music that has come in the scene before their emergence. Their nine-song set did a beautiful job of showcasing songs from each release, including two off the new EP. I cannot wait to see and photograph them the next time they come out here. If this new EP shows a glimmer of what’s to come for the band, there’s no stopping this band!

SETLIST

  1. Nervous Wreck
  2. Me First
  3. I Don’t Love You Anymore
  4. Late Nights In My Car
  5. Storyteller
  6. I’ve Given Up On You
  7. Get By
  8. Mess
  9. From The Outside

Four Year Strong from Worcester, Massachusetts, was up next to the stage as direct support. As one of the pioneers of the easycore genre, Four Year Strong blends Pop Punk with elements of Post Hardcore. Think of it like pop-punk with breakdowns. These guys were by far the heaviest band on this lineup. I previously saw them at the Rockstar Disrupt Fest back in 2019, and they didn’t have much energy on stage that day I saw them. When I tell you these guys blew my expectations out of the water this time around would be an understatement. The band opened their set with the song “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die” from their 2007 album “Rise or Die Trying,” released via I Surrender Records. The band showcased their insane light show from the gate, something they did not have when performing at the outdoor music festival I last saw them at. The light show the band had with them was fast-paced, just like the band themselves are. Four Year Strong has a unique dynamic, with two co-lead vocalists who both play guitar for the band, Alan Day and Dan O’Connor. This dynamic of their vocals going back and forth add a lot of energy and superb dynamics to their music. The band then moved on to their second song being “Get Out Of My Head,” from their 2020 album “Brain Pain,” released via Pure Noise Records. Brain Pain is by far my favorite album by Four Year Strong, as it truly showcases the perfect blend of the band’s sound. Get Out Of My Head is a more pop-punk heavy song with lots of punchy energy. There’s a deep bass groove heard throughout the song, which is provided by bassist Joe Weiss. Joe is an energetic bassist, constantly moving about and engaging with the audience. They then moved on to their third song, “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now,” from their 2010 album “Enemy of the World,” released via Universal Motown Records. I honed in on drummer Jake Massucco during this song, and that dude RIPS it on drums. As I said, Four Year Strong’s vocals are incredibly fast-paced, and Jake really keeps up with those fast songs, laying out the foundation needed in this kind of music. I am beyond stoked to have seen Four Year Strong again and am stoked that they blew my expectations out of the water! They absolutely killed it throughout their entire nine-song set, and I cannot wait to see them again next time they come through Southern California!

SETLIST

  1. Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die
  2. Get Out Of My Head
  3. It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now
  4. Learn To Love The Lie
  5. We All Float Down Here
  6. Brain Pain
  7. Go Down In History
  8. Talking Myself In Circles
  9. Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)

Finally, State Champs from Albany, New York, hit the state to absolutely slay the house down! State Champs have been on a steady rise in popularity within the pop-punk and alternative music scenes, starting with their EP “Overslept,” released in 2012 via Pure Noise Records. The band prepared a lengthy sixteen-song set for their headlining set on tour, showcasing songs from each release, starting with “Secrets” from their 2015 album “Around The World And Back.” The band came out the gate with insanely high energy. Vocalist Derek DiScanio had the crowd practically eating out of the palm of his hand the second he came on stage, with crowd surfers galore coming over the barricade throughout my time photographing the set. Like Four Year Strong and Real Friends, the band brought an extensive amount of lighting equipment that made the set feel larger than life and bright as all hell. Guitarist Tyler Szalkowski jumped onto the platform at the start of the set, amping the crowd up. Between the first song, “Secrets,” and the second song, “Crystal Ball,” a fan threw their underwear onto the stage, which landed right in front of bassist Ryan Scott Graham. With a visibly shocked face, Ryan picked up the underwear and put them on his’ mic stand as they proceeded to play “Crystal Ball” from the band’s 2018 album “Living Proof.” This song had bright blue and pink backlighting, which shined bright and vibrant. This is where I saw touring guitarist and backing vocalist Cameron Hurley, who absolutely kills it on stage with the band and meshes right in with their easy-going energy and vibe. The band then went into the song “Frozen,” coming from “Living Proof.” Drummer Evan Ambrosio seemed to be right on par with the rest of the drummers we’ve seen tonight, joyful with lots of smiles and absolutely DOMINATING that stage with his’ beats. The band’s incredibly high energy was evident, and they absolutely did not disappoint. The crowd was heavily engaged, and the band had the most crowdsurfers for any band thus far in the night. During “Frozen,” so many crowd surfers were coming over the barricade that we photographers got kicked out of the photo pit half a song early. I was a bit disappointed, but I got all the shots I needed and got to be up close and personal with a band I’ve wanted to see and photograph for many years at this point. The rest of the set consisted of songs from the band’s releases, a couple of covers, and lots of CO2 cannons shooting out confetti. It was a wild set that I am grateful I was able to witness and capture!

SETLIST

  1. Secrets
  2. Crystal Ball
  3. Frozen
  4. Outta My Head
  5. Mine Is Gold
  6. Easy Enough
  7. Stitches (Shawn Mendes Cover
  8. Chicago Is So Two Years Ago (Fall Out Boy Cover)
  9. Criminal
  10. Just Sound
  11. Remedy
  12. Slow Burn
  13. Losing Myself
  14. Elevated

ENCORE

15. All You Are Is History

16. Dead And Gone

The Pure Noise Records Tour 2021 was an absolute blast. Filled with years of nostalgia and bucket list bands I’ve wanted to see and photograph for quite some time, this made for an exciting evening. Make sure to catch the tour on the east coast during the last few dates if you are nearby!

State Champs | Four Year Strong | Real Friends | Just Friends | Bearings

Photos + Review courtesy of Jamie Kaufman | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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8/16/21 | Beartooth | The Below Tour | Photos + Review

Beartooth Dominates Anaheim With A Sold Out Show on The Below Tour

Venue: House of Blues Anaheim in Anaheim, CA on 8/16/21

As music fans, we all have bands that we want to see. But then something seems to always come up. Whether it be scheduling issues or another show overlapping, that’s always been my issue when it’s come to seeing or photographing Beartooth. I’ve been listening to their music since their debut in 2013, but this show was my first time actually seeing or photographing them. To say it was amazing would be an understatement, and I was so glad to finally see and photograph Wage War and Dragged Under as well. California hasn’t been getting as many big tours since we reopened live venues post-pandemic. So to have a show of this caliber come through was absolutely amazing.

First up on tour was Dragged Under from Seattle, Washington. I’d best describe Dragged Under’s sound as being that perfect blend of metalcore and hardcore punk. Their sound is right up the same vein as bands like Stick To Your Guns, Beartooth, and Stray From The Path, which are all among some of my favorite bands of all time. The band started off their set with the songs “Instability” and “The Real You”, which really showcased vocalist Anthony Cappocchi’s vocal prowess and control over the stage and crowd. Bassist Hans Hessburg was an animal on stage, headbanging and jumping around the stage like crazy. The band then went on to play their newest single, “Brainwash Broadcast”, which has received critical acclaim and has garnered a lot of views, streams, and radio play on SiriusXM Octane. Ryan “Fluff” Bruce shines on this song with his’ leads and hooks, which translate well live as well. Sean Rosario on rhythm guitar adds that dynamic sound that pushes the band over the edge. Kalan Anderson is the final piece to the puzzle, slamming the hell out of those drums and keeps the beat on time. The band played 7 songs, 6 of which came from their debut album “The World Is In Your Way”. I was thoroughly impressed with their set overall, and I’m glad they could play a good number of songs as the opener. I cannot wait to see these guys shine on a stage again soon!

SETLIST

  1. Instability
  2. The Real You
  3. Brainwash Broadcast
  4. Chelsea
  5. The Hardest Drug
  6. Just Like Me
  7. Hypocondria

Up next was Wage War from Ocala, Florida. Wage War has been a band that has always been on my bucket list and has always been on my radar, but I never got the chance to see. For my first time seeing them, I was blown away. The first thing you will notice about Wage War is how much of a presence lead vocalist Briton Bond has on stage. He absolutely commands that stage and screams the hell out of those words. The band played a great mix of songs, 3 of which came from their 2019 album “Pressure”, 3 from their 2017 album “Deadweight”, 2 from their 2015 album “Blueprints”, their newest single “High Horse”, and an unreleased track “Teeth”, presumably coming from their upcoming fourth album. One of my favorite things about Wage War’s sound is the clean vocals provided by Cody Quistad, who also plays rhythm guitar in the band. Those melodic choruses on songs like “Who I Am”, “Low”, and “Alive” are what really hooked me on Wage War, and I was so happy to hear these songs live. Lead guitarist Seth Blake really adds some unique hooks to the band’s sound. I consistently find myself humming some of those down-tuned guitar hooks from their songs in my head, and they sounded even better live! Adding to those lower tones, Chris Gaylord hits deep with those groovy bass tones that keep those heads banging. Finalizing their lineup is Stephen Kluesener, who adds some dynamic beats and rhythm that really grounds the band. I’m so stoked I was finally able to see Wage War, and I cannot wait to see and photograph them again soon!

SETLIST

  1. Stitch
  2. Who I Am
  3. Prison
  4. High Horse
  5. Alive
  6. The River
  7. Don’t Let Me Fade Away
  8. Teeth
  9. Gravity
  10. Low

Finally, Beartooth came to the stage from Columbus, Ohio. Beartooth has a sound that has always been unique. They’re riff-heavy metalcore with more of a hardcore punk style edge mixed in. But what sets them apart from many bands are their melodic choruses and hooks that really drive home with audiences. For their fourth record entitled “Below”, the band set out to really go back to their roots, with an aggressive yet diverse showing of music. Beartooth opened the show with the first track off the album, titled “Below”. This aggressive start to the album and set truly set the stage for the show they were about to put on. As vocalist Caleb Shomo ran out stage and screamed out those opening lines of the song, it was chaos from then on. The band brought an extensive lighting setup and LED light panel behind them, which lit up lyrics to songs and showed dynamic visuals for each song. Caleb really honed in on his’ musicianship on this record, taking elements from each of the three previous records while also trying out some new styles as well. Bassist Oshie Bichar was on fire, constantly moving about on stage and helping with the sing-along sections. Guitarists Zach Huston and Will Deely shredded on their parts and added a lot to the band’s sound. Connor Dennis is a superb drummer and was incredibly energetic throughout the entire set. The band played a whopping 17-song set: 8 from 2021’s “Below”, 4 from 2014’s “Aggressive”, 3 from 2018’s “Disease”, and 2 from 2016’s “Aggressive”. With a wide array of songs from both the new album and the rest of the discography, Beartooth made sure to make this headlining set something new fans and old would love. I am so glad I could finally see and photograph them, and I cannot wait to do so again soon.

SETLIST:

  1. Below
  2. Devastation
  3. Hated
  4. Sick of Me
  5. Fed Up
  6. Dominate
  7. The Lines
  8. Beaten In Lips
  9. Body Bag
  10. Hell of It
  11. Skin
  12. You Never Know
  13. Bad Listener
  14. Disease
  15. In Between

ENCORE

16. The Past Is Dead

17. The Last Riff

All in all, The Below tour was an absolute dream come true. Beartooth has been a huge bucket list band for me to see for quite some time, so seeing and photographing them was a dream come true. A massive shoutout to the fantastic crew and the other bands Wage War and Dragged Under, who absolutely DESTROYED that stage! Thank you for bringing this tour to California and for presenting us with live music once again!

Beartooth | Wage War | Dragged Under

Photos + Review By: Jamie Kaufman | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Frank Iero & The Future Violents “Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place”

Over the course of the past few years, Frank Iero has released quite a lot of solo material under a variety of different monikers and projects. The most recent of those is The Future Violents, and to follow up the project’s 2019 debut LP “Barriers,” Iero has returned with a brand new EP for this project, titled “Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place.”

The EP kicks off with “Violence,” which opens with a memorable guitar riff before more instrumentals come in to finish out the intro. The first verse begins on a softer note, the darker guitars make the song feel a bit eerier, and the charismatic vocals get to take the reigns leading up to the song’s harder-hitting chorus where the other instruments return. “Sewerwolf” brings dynamic vocal performances in the verses, which are accompanied by the bass and drums leading up to the choruses, which are a lot more aggressive both vocally and instrumentally and easily some of the highlights of this track.

The second half of this release begins with a cover of R.E.M.’s smash hit “Losing My Religion,” and this cover has a much more simplistic beginning led by softer vocals and a ukulele at first. The added vocal harmonies are a nice touch, and the drums help drive the rhythm to make the song much more upbeat when the second first comes in. This song fits Frank’s voice very well, and I feel like it’s one of the stronger tracks on this EP. Another highlight of the EP is its closing track, fittingly titled “Record Ender.” The bass opens the song with a simple riff before more guitars and the drums kick in, and the more laid-back verses consist of softer vocals and instrumentals that build the song up to its much bigger choruses. The added piano was a very nice touch, and the bridge later on contains one of the best vocal performances on the whole EP.

Frank Iero once again showcases his virtuosity as a musician and performer with “Heaven Is A Place, This Is A Place,” an emotive, passion-filled and overall solid EP release from him and The Future Violents.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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The Word Alive’s “Searching For Glory” Virtual Show Review.

Since the pandemic began, The Word Alive has put on quite a few virtual shows. I attended one a few months ago where they performed their album “Deceiver” in its entirety in honor of its ten-year anniversary, and the night before Halloween, I attended their “Searching For Glory” virtual concert.

The band opened their set with their standalone single, “Misery,” followed by its counterpart, “Numb Love (Misery II),” a song from their most recent album, “MONOMANIA,” which dropped earlier this year. “Numb Love (Misery II)” was one of quite a few songs that were performed live for the first time during this virtual show. Most of the songs that were performed for the first time were from “Violent Noise” (“War Evermore,” “I Don’t Mind,” and “Stare At The Sun”), but the band also performed another song off of “MONOMANIA” for the first time – “I’m Sorry You’re Sorry Now.” The setlist also consisted of a lot of songs that haven’t appeared in the setlist in a while, such as “Red Clouds,” “Entirety,” “Play The Victim,” and (one of my favorite songs of theirs) “Face To Face.” Towards the end of the set, they played one of their more popular tracks, “Why Am I Like This?,” as well as the track that this show was named after – “Searching For Glory.”

The Word Alive’s live shows have gotten better and better each time I’ve seen them, and overall, the Searching For Glory livestream contained yet another fantastic set from them.

A dollar from every ticket or ticket bundle purchased was donated to Save Our Stages. For more information on the organization and how you can support local music venues in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.saveourstages.org.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Movements’ sophomore album No Good Left To Give Review

Photos by Anthony Purcella

Over the past few years, Movements have quickly become a household name in the pop-punk, emo, and alternative scene, especially after the release of their 2017 debut LP, “Feel Something.” Three years later, the Southern California-based quartet has returned with their highly-anticipated sophomore album, titled “No Good Left To Give.”

The album begins with “In My Blood,” which instantly brings darker composition in its intro, driven by bass and guitars before the harder-hitting drums kick in. The vocals are a lot softer at first, but gradually get louder during the pre-chorus and chorus, leading up to the bridge, where catchy instrumentals accompany a powerful and emotional vocal performance before the song fades out, starting off this record on a very strong note.

The three tracks that follow are the three singles that came out prior to the record’s release date, and they all show how the band has evolved their sound and how they’re experimenting with other elements on this record. “Skin To Skin,” the second of these three singles to be released,” is the most experimental of the trio, and is a perfect example of this, as it starts out with softer vocals before a bigger and harder-hitting chorus where those vocals and the instrumentals shine, while also adding extra instruments into the mix, joining forces with more catchy instrumentals to help drive a rhythm that makes the listener want to dance along to the track. The lead single “Don’t Give Up Your Ghost” also starts out with piano and softer instrumentals before leading up to a more upbeat chorus containing a memorable hook that’s been stuck in my head since the song was first released this past summer. The fourth track on here is the third and final single, “Tunnel Vision,” starting off with a darker intro before the energetic drums stand out during the first verse and pre-chorus as they build the song up to its huge chorus, which showcases so much emotion in both the vocal and instrumental performances. The same amount of emotion is also shown through the harsher vocals found in the second chorus, bridge, and ending later on in the track, and I think that this track overall was a great choice for a single because it shows how the band‘s sound has evolved over the last few years.

“Garden Eyes” quickly brings plenty of energy in its intro, leading up to its chorus, which is one of the catchiest choruses offered on this entire record. Speaking of catchy composition, “Santiago Peak” includes plenty of that, from the simple guitar and bass riffs that open the track to the melodies in the verses and hard-hitting chorus, where both the vocals and instrumentals really stand out. The track prior to it, “Living Apology,” also contains catchy melodies that get even better during the pre-choruses, and similarly to “Tunnel Vision,” the bridge also contains some shouted vocals that are reminiscent of some of Movements’ older material. “Moonlight Lines,” which appears closer to the end of the record, is undoubtedly the most energetic one on here, with the guitars, bass, and drums driving that faster-paced rhythm in preparation for another huge chorus that delivers catchy composition through passionate performances, and the spoken word sections in the second verse and at the end remind me of a lot of the band’s early work.

Amidst these more upbeat and more energetic tracks, the band takes some time to slow things down for a bit. “12 Weeks” adds some acoustic guitar and cleaner electric guitars, and the softer vocals in the verses match those perfectly. The vocals get a lot louder in the chorus, and the bridge has a catchy guitar solo and harmonies that really emphasize the overall vocal performance in that section. Softer instrumentals drive the slower rhythm of “Seneca” before it becomes more hard-hitting, and more instrumentals kick in before the second verse, leading up to the bridge, where another emotional vocal performance resides. Second to last is the album’s title track, “No Good Left To Give,” and the minute-and-a-half-long interlude is driven by a catchy piano part before the drums kick in, and while those drums contrast from the piano, softer vocals, and the subtle and simplistic lead guitar that gets added in later on, they all fit together very well. “Love Took The Last Of It” concludes this album, instantly bringing hard-hitting instrumentals and catchy melodies. The vocals are a bit louder during the verses, especially in comparison to some of the earlier tracks, and the instrumentals do a great job at building up to the song’s chorus, which reminds me a bit of the choruses on a couple of the tracks from “Feel Something” – particularly “Daylily” and “Suffer Through.” This is another one of the catchiest tracks on the record and makes a fantastic closing track.

Just like on previous releases, there’s a bit of a variety regarding the lyrical content and the topics discussed in the lyrics throughout this record. There are a few tracks centered around love & relationships, from infatuation and seduction (“Skin To Skin”) to heartbreak and regret (“In My Blood,” “Seneca,” “Love Took The Last Of It”). Mental health is a topic that this band has previously incorporated into a lot of their lyrics, and they continue that conversation on this album as well, with songs sparking discussions about things such as suicide (“Don’t Give Up Your Ghost”) and depression (“Tunnel Vision”).

From the candid and creative lyrics to the compelling performances, “No Good Left To Give” is a stellar sophomore effort from Movements.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Wake Up Sunshine by All Time Low Review

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All Time Low have been around for quite some time, having released two EPs, two live DVDs, a handful of standalone singles and seven studio albums within the first fourteen years of their career, and their sound has evolved a lot over the years. Fast forward to 2020, and the Baltimore-based quartet are back with their eighth LP, titled “Wake Up, Sunshine.”

While “Last Young Renegade” noticeably leaned in a bit of a different direction, as the band experimented with a lot of pop and alternative elements, there are plenty of moments on “Wake Up, Sunshine” that show them returning to their pop rock and pop punk roots, some of which are found in a few of the singles that the band put out leading up to the album’s release. “Getaway Green” is easily the best example of this, with plenty of energy and extremely catchy guitar riffs reminiscent of those on past releases like “So Wrong, It’s Right” or “Nothing Personal.”

A handful of the songs on here combine that nostalgic pop punk sound with some of their more pop rock influences, and the remaining singles are really good examples of this. The fantastic lead single and opening track “Some Kind Of Disaster: brings a softer intro before upbeat verses and a massive chorus come in, “Sleeping In” brings a very energetic chorus, and “Melancholy Kaleidoscope” brings a ton of energy throughout, adding in some acoustic guitar to help drive its chorus. “Trouble Is” leans way more to the pop rock side, and sounds a little similar to newer work from Blink-182 and Simple Creatures, the project that All Time Low front man Alex Gaskarth has with Blink’s very own front-man, Mark Hoppus. Rian Dawson’s drumming really shines on this track, and the chorus offers up some pretty good melodies. There are also two tracks on here that were seemingly meant to be a bigger track together called “Seasons.” “January Gloom” is the first of these two tracks, bringing some slightly darker composition through some memorable guitar riffs and melodies throughout. “Summer Daze” is the second of those two, and the title is very fitting, given the happier and brighter tone that the song has musically, and it’s yet another perfect example of how well All Time Low have blended their pop rock and pop punk influences on this album.

The band also did quite a bit of experimentation on this record, with songs that show them trying something a little bit different. “Wake Up, Sunshine” (which I personally believe would have been a great choice for the opening track) delivers some slightly darker melodies and instrumentals during the verses and pre-choruses, leading up to a happy, carefree chorus. “Clumsy” is one of quite a few on here that allows Alex’s vocals to shine with some more slightly darker melodies in the beginning, leading up to one of the biggest and best choruses on the whole album. “Monsters” is also on the darker side, which I think fits the song very well. Blackbear is featured on the track, and while that collaboration was a bit unexpected, his vocal style and the guest feature overall compliments the song perfectly. The other feature found on this album is on the upbeat “Favorite Place,” which features The Band CAMINO. The guitars are a bit more reminiscent of CAMINO’s signature indie/alternative sound and gives the song that sort of vibe (for the most part), but the song does a great job at mixing that sound with the blend of pop rock and pop punk that All Time Low have created throughout this record.

In contrast, a couple of the songs on here show a softer side of the band’s sound, similar to the overall sound of their previous album, “Last Young Renegade.” Interlude “Pretty Venom” is probably the most simplistic track on the album, but it works really well as an interlude and its placement on the track-list seems fitting, and closing track “Basement Noise” (one of my favorites) brings a solid vocal performance in the chorus and lyrics that reflect on the band’s humble beginnings. “Safe” is driven by subtle instrumentation in the softer verses before a huge anthemic chorus comes in, and the same can be said about “Glitter & Crimson,” which is primarily led by softer percussion and acoustic guitar as it leads up to a much harder hitting bridge with one of the strongest vocal performances this record has to offer.

“Wake Up, Sunshine” shows bits and pieces of All Time Low’s history as a band, combining the various elements of pop, rock, alternative and everything in between that they’ve incorporated into their sound over the years. Overall, this is a refreshing pop rock record, yet another fantastic one from All Time Low, and easily one of my favorite albums from this year so far.

Listen to the song here

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Trivium – What the Dead Men Say review

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Trivium – What the Dead Men Say review

When Trivium released The Sin and the Sentence back in 2017, it caught many in the metal community by surprise. Through the six years before that album’s release, Trivium had seen their fair share of inconsistencies and challenges, from drummer swaps to damaged vocal cords and stylistic changes in-betweenThis led to albums with some undeniable concert staples (ie. “In Waves”, “Strife”, “Until the World Goes Cold”), but none of these records could hold a candle to either Shogun or Ascendancy from the decade prior in terms of cohesion or overall quality. Sin and the Sentence changed all of that. It came across as a more confident and inspired record, due in no small part to the band’s inclusion of new powerhouse drummer Alex Bent, as well as singer/guitarist Matt Heafy’s revitalized harsh vocals (which had unfortunately been completely absent on 2015’s Silence in the Snow). The record was a shot of adrenaline for a band that had been quite frankly wandering in circles trying to find a foothold again in the modern metal world, and it won them back long-time fans who had written them off for dead.

Sin and the Sentence reset the clock for Trivium, and for listeners going into 2020’s What the Dead Men Say, it could almost be justified to have suspicions and fears of this potentially being a sophomore slump. The band arguably had more to prove going into this record than ever in their whole career. Success was crucial and not guaranteed, as that rebirth from three years before could have easily been a fluke, nothing more than an exciting yet short-lived footnote in their history. Yet while Sin and the Sentence was a culmination of all the things that made Trivium so appealing through the years before, What the Dead Men Say ends up being the leaner, more captivating record.

Over the course of nine songs, it is not only apparent how much tighter the band has become in the last three years, but also how much more attention to detail there was in making sure that no filler was present. The intro “IX” leads into the anthemic powerhouse title track, itself invoking feelings of classic Metallica opener “Battery” through a melodic death metal lens. This track’s sense of building tension appears frequently through the album on highlights such as “Sickness Unto You” and “Catastrophist”, the latter which delivers one of the best vocal performances of singer Matt Heafy’s entire career. His overall presence on this record shows a continued rebuilding of his voice that started as far back as 2015’s Silence and the Snow. His extra controlled grit and distortion is a fantastic touch to lyrics that are without a doubt improved over past records, never becoming as overly verbose as those on Shogun, nor as boringly blunt as those found on In Waves.

There are also plenty nods to the best parts of the band’s mid-2000s heyday in “Amongst the Shadows and the Stones” and “The Defiant”, and the years of experience behind them make these songs sound far more thought-out and mature in their rage and energy. All of the instrumentals are locked in with lightning precision, and while the guitar work of Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu in Trivium has always been a strong point even when the band was not in top form, the true source of What the Dead Men Say’s power is from the rhythm section of bassist Paolo Gregoletto and drummer Alex Bent. These songs wouldn’t have the same weight and impact if it wasn’t for Gregoletto and Bent’s massive synergy together, ranging from the drop-tuned groove of “Bleed Into Me” to the furious power thrash closer of “The Ones We Leave Behind”. As stated before, Trivium has always been a technically gifted band, but here it is beyond just pure guitar hero shredding and bombast, it’s now further developed into an experience where all 4 members lock into every moment with intent and integrity.

What the Dead Men Say is exactly the album Trivium needed to make in 2020. Off the heels of Sin and the Sentence, they recognized all the past wrongs they made right on that record and took that approach even further, without any uncertain sidesteps or shakeups that have plagued them on and off over the years. It is an uncompromising take on modern mainstream metal, and easily their strongest release to date, reflecting a band that finally feels comfortable with each other and their collective vision. “Gods walk amongst all without fear,” indeed.

Rating: 9.5/10

Review courtesy of Brent McCann

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5 Seconds Of Summer’s “CALM” album review

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5 Seconds Of Summer are a band that I’ve been an avid fan of for several years. I’ve been listening to them for a large majority of their career as a band, and since I first got into their music way back in 2013, I’ve seen the evolution of their sound, from their more pop punk-tinged self-titled debut LP (as well as its follow up “Sounds Good Feels Good), to the much more pop leaning and chart-topping third album “Youngblood.” The band have experimented with new influences and started to refine their sound even more with each release, and “CALM” sees them continuing to do so.

“CALM” seems to draw a bit of influence from those poppier elements on “Youngblood,” especially with its more upbeat tracks. A lot of the singles, as well as another track towards the end of the album, expanded upon those influences and combined them with the newer influences and overall sound on “CALM.” Lead single “No Shame” brings intriguing melodies that are as catchy as the riffs that lead the intro and verses, before a bigger chorus where Calum and Ashton’s instrumental performances really shine, as well as Luke’s impressive vocal range. “Old Me” is very memorable musically, and lyrically, it’s a more reflective track that discusses growing up and the lessons you learn along the way as you get older and move forward in life. The irresistible choruses of “Easier” and “Wildflower” really embrace the poppier influences in the band’s sound, and the well-written “Not In The Same Way” instantly became a fan favorite with its extremely catchy composition from start to finish.

The band showed early on that they were experimenting with some darker composition through the captivating single “Teeth” that dropped last year, which really allows Calum to show off his talent as a bassist and is easily the most rock influenced song found on the record overall. The experimentation continues in a couple of other songs on the record, such as the opener “Red Desert,” which begins with a chorus of beautiful vocal harmonies from everyone in the band (and those harmonies return in the chorus), and “Thin White Lies,” with some softer percussion and really catchy riffs and melodies throughout.

The band also incorporated a lot of softer moments on this record, including the acoustically driven closer “High,” with some additional vocal harmonies that help emphasize the vocal performances even more, “Lover Of Mine,” which adds some piano in addition to the acoustic guitar, and “Best Years” and “Lonely Heart,” both of which are on the softer side for the most part before leading up to huge, explosive and anthemic choruses that make the songs even more memorable than they already are.  

5 Seconds Of Summer have created another fantastic record that not only shows further experimentation within their sound and more of what the band is capable of musically, but also shows them refining and honing in on their signature sound even more throughout twelve really solid tracks.

Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Dirty Honey w/ The Amazons | Rolling 7’s Tour | Photos + Review

Almost a year ago, Los Angeles based rock band Dirty Honey released their self-titled debut EP. The band have recently been on a headlining tour across North America in support of this release, bringing along fellow rockers The Amazons with them, and I attended the Denver, Colorado show.
Opening up the night was British rock band The Amazons. Their forty-five minute set consisted of eight songs, and each half of the set included songs from each of the two records in the band’s catalogue – “Black Magic,” “In My Mind” (my personal favorite song of theirs), “Junk Food Forever” and “Stay With Me” from their 2017 self-titled debut LP, and “25,” “Doubt It” “Mother,” and set opener “Fuzzy Tree” from last year’s album “Future Dust.” The band has a lot of charisma and a brilliant stage presence that really showed throughout their entire set.

Dirty Honey came on stage not long after for their headlining set. The band played their
self-titled EP in full (“When I’m Gone,” “Rolling 7’s,” “Heartbreaker,” “Down The Road,” “Scars,” and “Break You”), as well as their 2018 debut single “Fire Away.” In addition to playing all of the songs that they’ve released so far, they also added in two new songs, and played some impressive instrumental solos throughout the set, which allowed each instrumentalist in the band to show off their individual skills and talents. Similarly to The Amazons, Dirty Honey also had a really good stage presence, and did a really good job at engaging the ecstatic crowd.

Both bands on the Rolling 7’s Tour put on captivating and entertaining performances and
overall, it was an enjoyable night of rock and roll music.

Photos + Review courtesy of Megan Langley | Instagram

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Morgan Keller’s “Still Talk To You” OUT NOW! | Review

COVER ART still talk

Morgan Keller is a singer songwriter from New York City, gifting us with pop-sensible tunes alongside gritty and raw vocals. Which, in my opinion work well for Morgan, after my first listen the beat and a few lines were already stuck in my head. After a few more listens I caught myself already singing along. In “Still Talk to You” OUT NOW on all streaming platforms, she teaches us that although it is hard to get out of a toxic relationship. it IS possible. A lyric that stands out would be, “ I know I deserve better than you, I should have known better, trust someone, trust issues”, which tells us at first you may be blinded other things in a relationship, and most times it takes time to realize what’s best for you. A clever choice to release this today, on Valentine’s Day. A new self-love anthem, after all Valentine’s Day is about ALL kinds of love, not just couples.

You can listen to the song here | Facebook | Website

Review by Cristine Trimarco | Instagram |Facebook 

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