Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

Don’t Panic, All Time Low’s 5th studio installment, was released on October 9th, 2012 through the Hopeless Records label. Before I even begin to go into this I am just going to say that Don’t Panic is my 2nd favorite record of all time (right behind Simple Plan’s Still Not Gettin’ Any…)! This was a fantastic comeback for the boys from Balitmore! After they released Dirty Work, All Time Low was starting to follow the same path  as most pop/punk bands do as they near their 10 year anniversary, which is die. Honestly, looking back now, “Time Bomb” seemed to be the only song that I enjoy from that album. Fortunately for them, Don’t Panic is a hit! Debuting at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, Don’t Panic has allowed All Time Low to moisten the panties of 12 year old girls all over again.

I have been anticipating the release of Don’t Panic for a few months now and I drove an hour down to San Francisco to my nearest Amoeba Record store to grab my copy. I was so excited! I popped the CD into the car stereo and rolled my windows down as I sat in the infamous downtown San Fran traffic for nearly two hours. But I am happy to say that those were the most entertaining two hours of my life.

Don’t Panic starts off with a song called “The Reckless and the Brave”, the lead single for the album. Immediately I know that ATL will make this their new Intro song for touring purposes. This song kind of worried me though. I was preparing myself for what might have been 12 more unheard songs off Dirty Work. But as I started to listen more closely I was able to hear subtle similar guitar work to Nothing Personal. I did not really like this track off the bat, but kind of like Blink-182’s song “Up All Night”, it really grew on me.

“Backseat Serenade” is the second track on this pop/punk album. It features Cassadee Pope of former pop band Hey Monday! So I started to expect something of a duet. But nope! All I hear from her are simple harmonies which is quite unfortunate. Anyway, back to the song. Both verses are okay at best, but the chorus is probably one of the most powerful in the album! I can’t help but to sing along to “Backseat serenade, dizzy hurricane, oh god I’m sick of sleeping alone”. Very catchy and fun. Probably one of my favorites throughout!

The next song is titled, “If These Sheets Were The States” and this is undoubtedly my absolute favorite on this album for many reasons. The first reason is that it really reminds me of early All Time Low. Jack Barakat wrote a simple, but memorable guitar riff for the intro and I couldn’t wait to get home and learn it on guitar. I wanted to immediately cover this song with my old band. “If These Sheets Were The States” is not only musically fantastic but lyrically. It is about how far apart two individuals can feel from each other although they are sleeping together. I was also really stoked when I heard the bridge, Jack really knows how to work his guitar harmonies with Alex and they make it work.

“Somewhere In Neverland” was one of the three singles released to promote Don’t Panic and the fourth song in the album and quite frankly, I am not impressed. It sounds somewhat like a cheaply made demo song. The guitar tone has a little too much distortion and I don’t understand the meaning behind it at all. Alex Gaskarth has a reputation of writing songs about girls I really don’t think he even knows. I don’t know, it is an alright song but I just feel like it lacks heart.

Suddenly I hear this chunky guitar riff and a glimmer of hope ignites in my heart. “So Long Soldier” is the name of this classic punk rock song. Upbeat and fun, “So Long Soldier” reminds me that Alex, Jack, Zack, and Rian actually might have a pair of balls with held in those tight jeans. Although it is a short song, I really like it. It’s not what one might consider to be “typical All Time Low” but it definitely brings them back to the Blink-182 cover band days that I think we all miss.

“The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver”? Oh All Time Low, why you so punny? All jokes aside this song just seems to me like a filler track. Basic vocals and nothing out of the ordinary for any band from this genre. It seems kind of like a chill, dance song. Anyway, not much else to say about this one. I usually just skip it anyway.

This next song is one of my favorites. “To Live and Let Go” follows up that “ehh” song. I am not really sure why I like this one so much. I think it is just the passion I feel from Alex’s vocals that make this one so great. Rian Dawson’s drum work also stood out a lot in the duration of the song. The somewhat off bass drum notes really add a little more variety to this and keep it from being the basic 2, 4 drums we all know so well.

Co-written by Fall Out Boy’s own Patrick Stump, “Outlines”, was expected to be one of the major hits on Don’t Panic but I disagree. Before Don’t Panic was released I saw the album trailer on YouTube and this was one of the featured tracks and I was pretty stoked to hear it. But after listening to the entire thing, I just felt bored. Other than the chorus, nothing really shines or stands out to me. I think it had more potential, but its alright overall.

“Thanks To You” is something I would have expected to find on Dirty Work. Seems like another filler track from the get-go, but if you give it the light of day and wait about 15 seconds your opinion is likely to change. This song was a pleasant surprise and pulled me back in. All too much, when listening to a new album I hit the point where I really lose interest and start blanking out and I focus on everything BUT the songs. This song was placed in just the right spot to pull the audience back in.

Nearing the end of Don’t Panic I start to expect more filler tracks when “For Baltimore” comes on. This is one of my favorite All Time Low songs in general. This is a definite set list song for their future songs. Very catchy and poppy which I, for one, am I total sucker for. Every part of this song is perfect. I love every word to every transition to every guitar chord. I can’t wait to see the boys play this one live as I know I will stop moshing and sing alongside all them 12 year olds. I definitely recommend this song to anyone who wants to expand their iTunes library. I love this one!

“Paint You Wings” starts off with a really sick guitar intro. This song has what I like to call “meat”. It’s full of just everything I look for! I am in love with Alex’s vocal melody in the verse. Something about the minor descent really just makes my tummy all rumbly. Great song! Very fun to sing along to and play on guitar.

“So Long, and Thanks for All the Booze” is the final song in Don’t Panic. If you have stuck around this review long enough, you deserve a slice of pie. It isn’t the way I expected the album to end. Other than the “Gimme, gimme my motivation” the song is somewhat of a bore. Sure, it has a lot of pop/punk influence in it, but its not something I can see myself listening to over and over. However, I do feel like it might be a good song to stick in a Sonic game. I can just see that blue hedgehog running his ass down a hill collecting all them coins.

Overall, Don’t Panic is a fantastic album and comeback for the guys and I cannot wait to see them play live in a week! I love it and although it may feel like a lot of the same, Don’t Panic has potential to bring back some forgotten pop/punk fans. I give it a 9.5/10 and would recommend this to anyone and everyone!

Mayday Parade.  What more is there to say?  This All-American Pop/Punk band from Tallahassee, Florida is possibly one of the most under-rated bands ever.  Since their formation in 2005, Mayday has struggled to make it to the top and they are finally beginning to see the rewards of their hard work.

Mayday Parade has always been a master of emotion.  Through their powerful lyrics and intense vocal harmonies I really feel like I can connect with them because of the fact that although they have been through numerous tours, sold hundreds of thousands of records, and moistened the panties of tons of little girls, they still seem to act like a small local band.  I have friends who had gotten their hands on Mayday Parade’s first EP, Tales Told by Dead Friends, at the 2006 Vans Warped Tour because the band was just out there in the parking lot handing them out to get noticed.

Mayday Parade is most widely known for their piano ballad “Miserable At Best”.  This song is possibly one of my favorite love songs of this era of music.  “Derek (Sanders) and Jason (Lancaster) had a vocal chemistry unlike any other duo I’ve heard.  Derek sung his heartfelt melodies while Jason accompanied him with harmonies and a range unlike any other” says Only Regret The Summer vocalist Fabi Behnam.  But sadly after their first full-length album, A Lesson In Romantics, Lancaster left the band for personal reasons in order to form Go Radio.

In October of 2009, Mayday Parade released their second record entitled Anywhere But Here.  This is my favorite of the 3 albums because of 2 songs.  “Kids In Love” was the big hit from this album and really caught the attention of the Pop/Punk music scene.  But “Kids In Love” was not the reason I loved this record.  The acoustic tune “I Swear This Time I Mean It” is one of my favorite songs of all time and lead to the writing of my own band (Watching The Soundset)’s song “Not Another Girl”.  “I always feel inspired after listening to Mayday Parade” says Watching The Soundset guitarist Evan Murashko.

But the wait is now over! Mayday Parade’s self-titled record (Mayday Parade) is right up there with their previous releases and makes it hard to judge which album was the better.  The new album starts off with a song called “Oh Well, Oh Well” and I absolutely love it!  I have been known to drive around just listening to this song over and over and over again.  It’s truly an amazing piece of music both instrumentally and lyrically.  Other songs such as “When You See My Friends”, “Stay”, and “A Shot Across The Bow” all sound similar to the songs put out on the 2nd album, but are definitely a few of my favorites.  But I’m sure many of you, like myself, were hoping to see some new tricks on this album.  The song “Everything’s An Illusion” fulfills this void.  Derek Sanders sings this song with such emotion that you can’t help but connect with it.

Mayday Parade really has a lot going for them and I see a bright future for the band.  I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to see them on the 2011 Noise Tour powered by Journey’s this Saturday at the House of Blues in Anaheim.  I am super excited to see one of my favorite bands play and I wish everyone has the opportunity to see this band in action!  I give Mayday Parade a rating of 9/10.  Great album, great band, great music!

Christofer Drew and the gang are back with their 3rd full length album, Time Travel!  Never Shout Never is a pop rock band from Joplin, Missouri (yes, the same place that the horrible tornadoes passed through this past year).  Fronted by lead singer/guitarist Christofer Drew Ingle, Never Shout Never has quickly arisen to become one of the most influential pop bands both nationally and internationally.

Although Time Travel is NSN’s 3rd full length album, one has to consider the numerous EP’s that they put forth before their first album, What Is Love?. These EP’s are the heart and soul of what Never Shout Never stands for.

If you have ever heard a Never Shout Never song, odds are you heard one from the countless EP’s (EP is a term for Extended Play: CDs that contain more than one single,and less than 8 tracks which are too short to qualify as albums).  For even I heard my first NSN song off of The Yippee EP.  Songs such as “BigCityDreams” and “Trouble” have shot this pretty boy pop band onto the iPods of everything tween.

But finally after returning to the studio after months of touring, Never Shout Never wrote and produced Time Travel.  Many fans have been disappointed by the “new NSN”.  Personally I distinguish Never Shout Never into 2 categories: The Pre-Album NSN and Post-EP NSN.  Most fans will probably favor the first category because of the fact that Christofer Drew was more genuine at the time.  I am not saying that he has changed, but I do believe that the music industry is slowly eating up this band.  Christofer himself constantly brings this up in interviews and you can see that it has torn him to pieces.  In Never Shout Never’s 2nd album, Harmony, they wrote a song called “Sellout” where they talk about the problems with big industry take overs within every aspect of our community.

I’ve always seen Christofer Drew Ingle and the rest of the guys in Never Shout Never as role models, so when I heard of their 3rd album release a few days ago I knew I had to get my hands on it.  Every album they appear to keep changing.  In What Is Love?, Never Shout Never really tried sticking to the acoustic roots they had implanted, but by the time they began recording Harmony, they seemed to venture off more towards a bluesy side.  I don’t necessarily favor any genre that NSN has crisscrossed into because, as a true fan should, I really appreciate the fact that they are exploring possibilities.  So when I began to listen to Time Travel I was not surprised they changed again.

After hearing it the first time, I was not really hooked.  But I gave the record a few more tries and (not to my surprise) ended up loving it.  I personally adore the song “Simplistic Trance-Like Getaway”.  I think it really incorporates NSN’s new sound with their old and brings together what the future for the band will be.  After hearing the song a few times I eventually noticed the evident influence of Owl City throughout, not only this song, but the entire record.

Time Travel is a decent album and I feel as if people would give it the opportunity to grow on them it could be really fantastic.  I would give this record a 7.5/10.  I’ve never given Never Shout Never a full 10 on any album or EP, but I don’t think that is their goal.  They don’t want to be perfect, but rather they want to share what they feel and love doing.

I understand this review is somewhat out of date because of the album’s release on March 1, 2011, but I feel like it is still a fairly new record and not enough people appreciate this band.

Go Radio is a pop/rock band from Tallahassee, Florida that was formed by the former vocalist/guitarist of Mayday Parade.  His name is Jason Lancaster.  His unnatural “lazy tongue” vocal technique quickly arms Go Radio with a unique set of traits that make this band stand out from the rest.

Go Radio is a band rose to fame for 2 main reasons.  The first being that they had one extremely popular song.  This song is called “Goodnight Moon.”  This song is not off of Lucky Street, but rather from Go Radio’s EP called Do Overs And Second Chances.  This beautiful ballad immediately reminds me of Secondhand Serenade’s “Fall For You”.  Not to mention the fact that the title alone makes this song special.  Anyone of any age should be able to recognize the title of the inspirational children’s book “Goodnight Moon”.  If you have trouble remembering it, the story is basically about a young boy wishing everything in his house and around him “Goodnight”.

The second reason for Go Radio’s rapid uprising is the fact that they rode somewhat along the coattails of Jason Lancaster’s previous band.  Many of the dedicated Mayday Parade fans followed along  both paths once Jason Lancaster left (or got the boot, nobody quite knows).  This helped the band a great deal especially when it came to touring constantly with Mayday.

Personally, I got on the Mayday Parade/Go Radio bandwagon at a somewhat late start.  I had heard some of the Mayday hits such as “Jamie All Over” and “Miserable At Best” here and there but never took notice of these until this past year or so.  Then around spring of 2011 I heard Go Radio and it sounded awfully familiar.  I did a little research and soon enough found the connection.

I saw Go Radio for the first time at The Vans Warped Tour 2011 in Ventura, California and boy that was quite a treat.  Their set was at 8:00 on the Nintendo 3DS stage.  They would be one of the final performances of the night and I was very satisfied with the outcome.  At the time the only song I knew was “Goodnight Moon”, but after playing numerous songs from their new record, Lucky Street, I was immediately addicted and thus began my fanhood of Go Radio.

When I got home that night I bought this album and I got my money’s worth!  The fair balance of the ballads and full-band songs sits well with someone of my musical background.  I am a huge fan of songs that have dramatic intros with piano and soft vocals which then lead into a full-band chorus.

At its entirety, Lucky Street has a few songs that really stand out.  “Any Other Heart”, the second song off the album, is probably one of my favorites.  The minute this song filled my ears I knew it would be one of their big ones.  Other songs such as “Why I’m Home” and “House of Hallways” really struck me with this inspirational feeling.  On the other hand, this record was not one of perfection.  Throughout the album I had trouble distinguishing one song from another and found this to be a common attribute.  Although they seem to have set it up in a alternating ballad-uptempo-ballad lineup, I continue to have problems differentiating the songs.

After listening to Lucky Street a few times I feel as if it is a really brilliant start to a band with a lot of potential.  I really hope to hear more out of these guys.  I would have to give this album an 7.5/10.  Definitely a must-have record for any fans of Mayday Parade, The Maine, or Secondhand Serenade.

I realize that I am a horrible person because when I heard that the brand new Blink-182 album, Neighborhoods, had leaked I downloaded it.  I have been a fan of the punk trio for about 6 years now.  I own every single one of their records, from Buddha to their Greatest Hits, so their new album was definitely a must-have for such a dedicated fan as I.  Just because I torrented this album does not mean that I will not go out and buy it.  I have enough respect for these musicians to pay the dues for their hard work.

Before I begin the review of this album I would like to supply those “lesser fans” with a brief history of Blink-182.  In 1992, Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, and Scott Raynor focused on filling their dreams of starting a punk band.  After making 2 full length albums (Cheshire Cat and Dude Ranch), Raynor left the band to focus on school.  Around this time, young drum legend Travis Barker was playing in a ska band by the name of The Aquabats.  Hearing of his talents, Mark and Tom urged him to join Blink-182 and replace Scott Raynor as their drummer.  Accepting this life changing agreement, the power punk trio put out 3 more records together (Enema of the State, Take Off Your Pants & Jacket, and the self-titled album Blink-182).  Shortly after Blink-182’s 5th studio album and long lasting disputes, Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus announced that Blink-182 would be playing their last show together in late 2004.  Feeling as if split between his two best friends in a fight, Travis Barker accompanied both Hoppus and DeLonge in their separate bands.  Mark formed +44, while Tom formed Boxcar Racer (in which Travis played drums) and Angels & Airwaves.  Finally in the spring of 2009, Blink-182 announced that they had solved their problems and would be back touring again by that summer.  My first concert was at the Verizon Wireless Center in Irvine, CA where I got the opportunity to see Blink-182 along with other pop/punk favorites, Fall Out Boy and The All-American Rejects.  After this 2009 tour, Blink-182 set out to put forth a brand new album incorporating both Tom’s Angels & Airwaves and Mark’s very own +44.

I can honestly say that I was worried about the outcome of this new album as I was not a fan of Tom’s post-Blink musical goings.  I was hopeful that Mark (the pop/punk lover) would step forward and help them get back that old teenage rebellion sound they had before.  Neighborhoods starts out with a song called “Ghost on the Dance Floor”.  From the get go I hear the synthesizers and I am turned off.  Then the guitar riff came in and I began to dig it.  “Ghost on the Dance Floor”, “Natives”, and “Hearts All Gone” I would have to say are my top 3 favorite songs off this album.  The rest just seem….”okay”.  This is fairly disappointing for someone with such deep pop/punk roots as I.  I would like to go on record saying that Travis Barker (regardless of what I say about Blink-182) does an OUTSTANDING job throughout the entire record.  If it had not been for his god-like drum skill I would have trouble listening to this album, let alone a song, all the way through.

I would give Neighborhoods a 5/10 and that is being generous.  Lets just hope they find their “new sound” in which they are seeking soon.