Check out our favorite albums and tracks released in January, including Bring Me The Horizon, American Football, Toro y Moi, and more!Read More
English alternative rockers You Me At Six have returned this year to follow up to 2014's upbeat Cavalier Youth. For 2017, they've promised Night People (tour details + more here) and have shared the first song from the record. The title track 'Night People' has a lot of swagger and promises some jamming.
The song is the opening track on the record, and, as any good opening track should, it brings the hype. It has this cool rock n' roll vibe to it. It kicks off with an effected vocal sample of the chorus, which confidently chants: "We are night people, roaming these streets / Night people, we get what we need." There's a big call-to-arms sound in the track too, the riff playing very upbeat and and the gang vocals in the background screaming their "woah"s. The drum beat carries pretty well too, though mildly understated among the rest of the song's elements.
While the song itself is good, it does raise the question of You Me At Six's future. Their sound has become the standard alternative rock/pop punk sound since Cavalier Youth, and 'Night People' doesn't sound much different. Lots of other bands in their same kind of "scene" area have shown evolution; the most prominent example is Bring Me The Horizon. Sempiternal brought about a compositional, unique, and mature change in the band. They veered away from the "scream and sound edgy" tone to something that had a lot of substance and meaning. You Me At Six is not at all the same band, but the key to any band is evolving. Their falling into this standard sound that will soon become bland. Their previous efforts show a lot of promise and talent; they have what they need, but they can't yet materialize their talent into something that has substance.
Night People won't be losing any of their big rock vibes, and may even be treading into some of their older sounds, too. But this band needs a change to vamp things back up. They can only get by with this upbeat rock sound for so long - they're going to start losing their purpose. They have the talent and the means of evolving, it's just getting to that point that they haven't quite gotten to yet. 'Night People' is a fun song, but fun music will only take you so far. Let's hope the album is a bit more unique.
Rating: 70 / 100
Post-hardcore lovers will be all over the new band on the street Bad Omens, but they've yet to find their own voice. Their eponymous debut is some standard post-hardcore work, and channels Bring Me The Horizon in more ways than it feasibly should.
There isn't too much to say about this record that you can't say about Bring Me The Horizon. Bad Omens is like a less fleshed out Sempiternal - the rock vibes are there; but the songwriting, not quite. Despite this, there is still a lot to enjoy on the record. It opens big with the epic 'Glass Houses', with its ethereal opening and huge anthemic choruses. 'The Worst In Me' follows in much the same suit, big riffs and choruses sounding something like twenty one pilots meets BMTH. The album's slow ballad 'Enough, Enough Now' has odd screaming on top of reverberating piano but builds to an epic, wallowing conclusion. 'Crawl' is another slow moving some, but less-so in a ballad manner. It's a piano track that showcases the impressive vocal register of Noah Sebastian that concludes with epic orchestras and gang vocals, the latter of which make 'Reprise (The Sound Of The End)', an atmospheric track with brilliant instrumentation a great song. It's not without jams, either. 'F E R A L' has a big riff and a harsh vocal line that'll have you headbanging in no time.
Now, we have to get into how similar this album is to Bring Me The Horizon. It's been said at least three times in this review already, but it's truly disappointing how this band doesn't have its own established voice yet. The atmosphere, the vocals, the instrumentation is just what every other post-hardcore album sounds like that has followed in this vein. It's not even Sempiternal and beyond BMTH they channel; 'Malice' is the early stages of the band, and the vocals are just horrendous. The only thing keeping this album from being great is the lack of voice this band has. We've heard it all before, right down to the same pointless message of 'Broken Youth'. In case it wasn't clear, that's the typical edgy track on the record. Listening to it just leaves you wanting something different. Not something that Bring Me The Horizon can do infinitely better.
By no means is Bad Omens a bad debut to start this band's career, but it falls into the trap of having influences. Do you want to sound similar to a band you look up to, or do you want to sound exactly the same? If the answer's the second option, perhaps a cover band may be the better route to take. Bad Omens has a lot of untapped potential, and hopefully as their next effort comes around the find their own stake in the post-hardcore world.
Favorite Tracks: Glass Houses, The Worst In Me; Enough, Enough Now
Least Favorite Tracks: Malice, Broken Youth
Rating: 68 / 100
Last day of 2015, so let’s wrap it up with another Top 10 of the year: My top 10 songs of 2015. Another set of tough choices, but here they are. This is solely based off of my opinions - not looking at charts or popularity. Just the songs I enjoyed the most from the year! Be sure to check out my Top 10 Albums of 2015, too. Click on the song titles for my review of their respective albums!
10. Father John Misty - “Bored In The USA”
No one does satire better than Father John Misty. “Bored In The USA” off of this year’s I Love You, Honeybear offers the perspective of an ordinary citizen being bored with life. Throughout the piano ballad, Mr. Tillman offers many questions that get your head thinking. The song is clever enough to grab the laughs of any middle-aged individual (looking at you, Dad). Hell, the crowd laughing of a soap opera is even featured in the track! That’s gotta be indicative of something. There’s too much fantastic lyricism too comment on. “Bored In The USA” is the best satire of 2015.
9. Radiohead - “Spectre”
This song was only released a week ago, but it’s had enough of an impact to earn it a spot on my Top 10. Had it been given more time to grow on me, it would’ve definitely scored a higher spot. Before Sam Smith made it to the cinematic opening of Spectre this year with “Writings On The Wall”, Radiohead were approached to create the theme instead, offering “Spectre” on Christmas Day. Best Christmas gift, period. The song has the ominous vibe Radiohead so perfectly radiates in all of their music, and features their signature syncopation and a beautiful symphony backing Thom Yorke’s haunting voice. There’s so much in this song that it’s hard to single out any specific element. The symphony sends chills down my spine. The song is everything any fan would want of Radiohead. Hopefully the hype of their forthcoming album lives up to this huge track.
8. Kendrick Lamar - “The Blacker The Berry”
2015 was a big year for hip-hop. A lot of ground was broken. Perhaps the biggest contender in the rap race this year was Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. “The Blacker The Berry” is a demanding track, Kendrick going off with dirty verses and a giant beat accompanying the ominous instrumental. The subject of the song is politically charged all the while sliding in the message of internal struggle. “The Blacker The Berry” is the best hip-hop song of the year, and it deserves all the praise it should get.
Fall Out Boy came triumphantly into the new year with American Beauty/American Psycho, edging deeper into pop rock than they had before. “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel In NYC)” is the most cinematic song on the album, featuring Patrick Stump crying out his vocals. This is the best song on the “rock” half of the album, featuring some great (while still admittedly subtle) guitar work throughout. The harmonies towards the end of the song are what make this track so big, ending the album on such a haunting note. Andy Hurley’s drumming can’t be ignored - it’s fantastic on this song! “Twin Skeleton’s” is a giant song to end a great album.
“Afterglow” is the most subtle track on CHVRCHES’ new album, Every Open Eye. In the same way, it is the most beautiful. The song features Lauren Mayberry singing over an atmospheric array of synths. There’s not much to the song, it’s very stripped down. The song is the biggest highlight on the album for it’s simplistic beauty - everything in it is perfect, for what it does have going on. Definitely a song that’s hard to grasp at first, but is an amazing one to experience all the same.
Bring Me The Horizon continued their evolution that began with 2013′s Sempiternal with this year’s That’s The Spirit. While the new effort doesn’t match what Sempiternal began, the album is still undeniably great. With lots of fantastic songwriting, and the band distancing itself form it’s metalcore roots, the band is continuing to focus more on the words than the aggression. “Avalanche” is the peak of this album, where Oli Sykes opens up his heart to needing a cure for his pain. Perhaps a cliché subject (though important all the same), but the song gets across the emotions and message very well, and is definitely one of the best songs of the year.
10 Years returned this year with a follow-up to 2012′s Minus The Machine, with this year’s From Birth To Burial. The self-titled track of the album is one of the best songs of the year, 10 Years bringing everything they’ve got into one track. The ominous piano buildup explodes into a bustling track with a huge riff and loud playing. Perhaps what really sells this song to me is Jesse Hasek’s rapping before the first pre-chorus, which reminds me a lot of Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. Regardless, this song is huge in its own way, and all the ways 10 Years have built themselves up to be.
Muse promised a sequel to the fan-beloved track, “Citizen Erased” would make it onto Drones. That song ended up being the progressive rock anthem, “The Globalist”, the story of the rise and fall of a dictator. Beginning with whistling akin to Ennio Morricone’s “L’Arena” and a huge symphony, the drama of the tracks begins early. Matt Bellamy continues with his reverb-filled slide guitar as the verse kicks in with the rest of the band. Perhaps one of the moments in music from this entire year is the heavy part of this song, the giant riff (taken from a previous jam known as the “Helsinki Jam”) in the bridge of the song is as metal as Muse have ever gotten, with a countdown to the firing of a nuclear missile and the marching of an army helping make this part so loud. The bridge concludes with a Spanish-influenced solo before concluding with one final piano ballad - a send-off of sorts. Sure, the track has it’s faults - perhaps it would’ve been better as three separate songs instead of one, as to better the flow, but it is undeniably a huge track that deserves a place on this list.
Arcane Roots returned to the scene this year in a big way. Coming off of their first full debut album, Blood & Chemistry, the trio had a big weight on their back to follow it up. With this year’s Heaven & Earth EP, the band smashed all expectations. Introducing it in July with “If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves”, fans knew to expect something absolutely huge. “Slow Dance” comes from this very EP, and is everything you’d want from the trio and more. From a buildup opening that blows into a massive breakdown and chorus, this song will have you on your feet in no time. Excellent guitar work and vocals by Andrew Groves add to the sheer massiveness of this track. If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out.
It’s probably unfair of me to include Muse on this list twice, but it’s warranted for me. But this year, Drones was huge. Muse at the top of their game (perhaps not lyrically, but definitely from a jam standpoint) with their back-to-basics approach. “The Handler” is a combination of everything Muse is made of. With the huge arena-filling opening riff to the wah-filled bridge harkening back to the band’s old b-side, “In Your World”. Bellamy’s fantastic vocals and lyrical play (”trance formation”? Hmm) contribute to making this song the most massive song of the year, if the demanding riff and incredible bass work didn’t already win you over. The song is an absolute beast live, too.
- Justin Bieber - “Love Yourself”: a track that you couldn’t have expected from Bieber before this year, but is definitely a standout from 2015.
- Halsey - “Castle”: the song that kicked off the rebellion that is BADLANDS, and the most demanding track on the album.
- Years & Years - “Foundation”: the darkest track the trio has to offer, and the one that’ll be trapped in your head for weeks.
Thanks everyone for a great year. It’s been an adventure for me, and I’m sure it has been for many others. If it wasn’t the greatest year, hold on. Everything will find it’s right place. Here’s to 2016, it’s gonna be a big one.
2015 is coming to a close, and it’s time to whip out the top ranking albums (in my opinion) from the year. It’s been a long one... but there have been some absolute gems of albums released this year. Without further adieu, here’s my top 10 albums of 2015.
Click the links for my in-depth review of the album!
10. Aurora - Running With The Wolves
Kicking off the Top 10 of 2015 is an artist who is set of dominating the pop of 2015. Aurora hails from Norway, and has already been dominating B-lists for radio stations upon the release of her debut EP, Running With The Wolves. The short EP features four beautiful pop songs, which all will leave a lasting mark on the listener. Aurora can be noted for her enchanting instrumentals (see: “Runaway”) and pure voice. Every song is beautifully written, especially “Running With The Wolves” and “Little Boy In The Grass”. Aurora will march into 2016 and absolutely dominate it, if the quality of her music is any indication of her future success. Fingers crossed - who knows what the radio will be attracted to...
This hardcore punk outfit from California made a huge mark on 2015. Loma Prieta took a “happier” approach on their relentless punk this year with Self Portrait, the powerful successor to 2012′s I.V. The album is punk at its core, but is different from the zeitgeist of punk in many ways. “Satellite”, the closing track, for example, is everything a punk rock song should be, but it is undeniably happy in tone. The band with this album almost becomes a heavy The World Is A Beautiful Place, most evidently with the song “Never Remember”, though “Merciless” can be passed as a punk version of Deftones’ “Change (In The House Of Flies)”. The album shows a clear progression of the band’s sound, but still stays true to who they are. It delivers some of the heaviest jams of the year, too. That’s always a plus!
Halsey had the most triumphant debut of the year. BADLANDS captures the rebellious of Nirvana, the pop appeal of Fall Out Boy and Justin Bieber, and the brooding instrumentals of Sia and Imagine Dragons. With all of these coming together, it’s hard to go wrong. Admittedly, since it’s initial release the album has lost some of its initial hype, but I’ll be damned if “Castle” doesn’t give me chills. Halsey, rather than a follower of the past, seems to be a leader. A leader of the same rebellion Nirvana led back in the day - she’s the voice for the lost ones of this generation. “New Americana” is the modern day equivalent of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (though the latter will always be the most relevant). Lyrically, there are much stronger songs than “New Americana” - “Castle”, “Colors”, and “Gasoline” are all fantastically written. “Castle” and “Control” have the biggest and best instrumentals on the entire album. Halsey’s crafted a new rebellious wave of pop that has set a precedent that is sure to set off a huge new generation of artists looking for a voice.
Debut albums were huge this year. Years & Years burst seemingly out of nowhere in 2014 with their huge dance tracks “Kings” and “Take Shelter”, both of which can be found on Communion. The album showcases more than just the dance jingles the band executes so well - a darker and more intimate sound to the band can be found in the breathtaking opening track “Foundation” (which sounds like Radiohead meets Diplo) and the acoustic version of “Ready For You”. The band’s trademark electronic dance bangers are still the vocal point of the album, with new tracks “Worship” and “Border” giving the perfect vibes for the club and for love. Olly Alexander’s vocals shine throughout the entire album, his melodies full of emotion, brought higher by the soaring electronics. Years & Years have one of the most memorable debuts of the year under the belts - may this carry them further in the future. It can only go up from here.
If you wanted big rock jams this year, you needed to listen to 10 Years’ newest release. The album is the band taking the atmosphere of Minus The Machine and adding a heavier touch to it. The album opens up with the title track, which is one of the biggest songs of the year, where Jesse Hasek draws from Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda for a quick rap verse. “Triggers & Tripwires” and “Crimson Kiss” showcase the band’s heavier side, while “Luna” and “The River” shine the spotlight on the band’s songwriting ability. The closing duo, “Miscellanea” and “Moisture Residue” are a fantastic way to end this massive album. The lead single of the album “Miscellanea” sees Hasek reaching really high for some notes and a piano bridge that is the vocal point of the heart-wrenching “Moisture Residue”. The song brought some of the band’s biggest jams, and definitely some of the biggest headbangers of 2015.
Being that Thirty Seconds To Mars is my all-time favorite band, I truly enjoyed a lot of this album. Bring Me The Horizon has continued their evolution of sound that began with Sempiternal with this year’s That’s The Spirit, which took the band even further from their post-hardcore roots. This album is more alternative rock than it is hardcore, though Oli Sykes’ vocals are just as powerful as ever. His screaming and singing are the best part of the album, and what carries it so far. “Doomed” and “Follow You” show his ability to write fantastic songs, while “Avalanche” and “Throne” (the latter of which truly play to the influence Linkin Park has had on them) are the big jams. “Drown” is as close to Thirty Seconds To Mars as the band has gotten, though “Happy Song” and “Oh No” use the crowd vocal elements as critically as Thirty Seconds uses them. This is a band who has evolved into something different and more powerful than ever before. This is the powerful evolution of Bring Me The Horizon, that will only continue to spiral upwards into something more incredible.
2015 was a big year for Fall Out Boy. An album full of huge anthems that would stay popular throughout the entire year, very big performances at some of the biggest events in music, collaborations with Demi Lovato (for a version of “Irresistible”) and a variety of hip-hop artists (for the remix album, Make America Psycho Again)... you name it, Fall Out Boy probably did it. This album brought back some of the punk/alternative rock anthems Fall Out Boy are known for, while being tossed up with many pop and electronic elements. The band even brought out some tributes throughout the album, sampling Mötley Crüe in the title track, Suzanne Vega (who even sang her own melody for her song, “Tom’s Diner”, for their use!) in “Centuries”, and even The Munsters theme song in “Uma Thurman”. The singles of the album, while all memorable in their own right, the tracks on the second half of the album are were the band truly shines. “Novocaine” brings out some impressive vocals by Patrick Stump, and the driving beat of the song paired with the distorted vocal line and rolling guitars pair for an immense song. “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel In NYC)” takes a cinematic approach, one of the only songs that shined both on the album and the remix album (that Joey Bada$$ verse!). The harmonies at the end of the song end the album on such a high note, leaving the fans wanting more. Fall Out Boy brought out all of the biggest anthems of the year in 2015.
CHVRCHES burst onto the synthpop scene back in 2013 with their groundbreaking The Bones Of What You Believe and have finally followed up this year with the anthemic Every Open Eye. The trio took everything that shined with their previous effort and combined it with a brighter sound to craft the best electronic and pop album of the year. Singles like “Never Ending Circles” and “Clearest Blue” established CHVRCHES ability to dominate the charts and brought the album the attention it deserves. The band, while admittedly not doing much to separate this album from their debut, did experiment a bit with some songs. “High Enough To Carry You Over” (and bonus track “Follow You”) features Martin Doherty on lead vocals for the first time, while “Bury It” shows a thicker side to CHVRCHES’ electronic ventures, with a thick bass guitar track in the background. Lauren Mayberry’s fantastic vocals and harmonies throughout the album are another shining example of what makes the album so beautiful; the incredible “Afterglow” that concluded the album might just be the most beautiful songs of the year. CHVRCHES took electronic and pop music to a whole new expectation, earning them the third spot in the Top 10 of the year.
From the English underground rock scene burst Arcane Roots, who in 2013 released their massive debut album, Blood & Chemistry. After fairly extensive touring around their mother country, as well as some other European stints supporting the likes of Muse and Biffy Clyro, the band finally returned to the studio this year to record the follow up. Instead of offering a full record this time, new music came in the form of a new, intense EP that stands as a pristine example for future brit-rockers to follow. The album kicks off with the huge banger, “If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves” that features vocalist Andrew Grover singing, tortured on top of atmospheric piano chords. The song sums up the album fairly well - strong soft moments, an anthemic chorus, huge breakdowns, and a massive explosion of an ending with all of the songs elements conjoining into one cohesive wall of noise. Another single from the album, “Slow Dance” brings back some of the urgency of their previous efforts and the beginning track, where tracks like “When Did The Taste Leave Your Mouth” and “Leaving” bring that intense radio-rock that could dominate any airwaves and will get the crowds jumping to the beat. The closing track, “Vows & Ceremonies” is a call to love, running away to live your life. It brings back some of the lighter rock from tracks like “Hell & High Water” from their previous album. Arcane Roots have truly crafted a masterpiece of an EP with their signature sound that will continue to dominate Brit Rock for ages to come.
Muse have always found ways to keep their sound fresh and exciting, whether it be the indie/alternative sounds from their debut Showbiz to the heavy, fast-paced apocalypse rock of Absolution, to the electronic anthems found in The 2nd Law. Drones saw Muse exploring the concept of drone warfare, following a protagonist becoming a mindless killer and then escaping the clutches of their oppressors, all the while taking their sound back to the basics. The track is filled with huge rock tracks like “Reapers” and “The Handler”, big jams like “Psycho” and “Defector”, and even the good pop jingles Muse are well known for hitting out: “Dead Inside” and “Revolt”. “The Globalist” is a ten-minute, progressive epic about the fall of a dictator, the successor to an older Muse gem, “Citizen Erased”. The song modulates out of the beautiful end of the main narrative, “Aftermath”, and segues into the final a cappella track that the album draws its name from, a prayer to all of the nameless souls lost in war.
Drones is a challenge to modern warfare, and it should be approached. Can we really stand back and let attacks happen from behind a computer screen? Can we continue to mindlessly destroy entire cities with the click of a button? Muse brought upon this message with powerful music backing it, earning them, in my opinion, the best album of 2015.
- Adele - 25
- Bea Miller - Not An Apology
- Björk - Vulnicura
- Coldplay - A Head Full Of Dreams
- Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
- Grimes - Art Angels
- Halestorm - Into The Wild Life
- Joey Bada$$ - B4.DA.$$
- milo - so the flies don’t come
- MUTEMATH - Vitals
- Purity Ring - Another Eternity
That’s a wrap for this year... another Top 10 list and a wrapup of the fourth quarter is still to come. Thanks for sticking with me throughout the year, and may 2016 be a great year for music.
Just as I did for the first and second quarters of 2015, here’s my personal wrap-up for the new music I’ve listened to from July through September, as well as my Top 10 of 2015 as it currently stands. Also, what I’m looking forward to in the fourth and final quarter! Getting ready for the Best Of 2015 lists soon! Thinking of a URL change, too...
This quarter was admittedly slow compared to the previous two. Not many releases stuck out to me, but there were definitely some great albums! Click on the links for some of the albums below for my in-depth reviews of them!
Releases I’ve Listened To In The 3rd Quarter:
- Alessandro Cortini - Risvelgio: 6/10
- Bea Miller - Not An Apology: 7/10
- Bring Me The Horizon - That’s The Spirit: 8/10
- Carly Rae Jepsen - E•MO•TION: 7/10
- Cattle Decapitation - The Anthropocene Extinction: 7/10
- Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss: 8.5/10
- The Chemical Brothers - Born In The Echoes: 6/10
- CHVRCHES - Every Open Eye: 8.5/10
- Corpo-Mente - Corpo-Mente: 8/10
- Dead Letter Circus - Aesthesis: 6/10
- Disclosure - Caracal: 6.5/10
- Drake & Future - What A Time To Be Alive: 4/10
- Foals - What Went Down: 7.5/10
- Flux Pavilion - Tesla: 3/10
- The Front Bottoms - Back On Top: 5.5/10
- Future - DS2: 6/10
- Halsey - BADLANDS: 9/10
- Kwabs - Love + War: 5/10
- Lianne La Havas - Blood: 6.5/10
- Metric - Pagans In Vegas: 5.5/10
- milo - if the flies don’t come: 7/10
- Myrkur - M: 7/10
- Phedora - The House Of Ink: 7/10
- Prides - The Way Back Up: 6.5/10
- Run The Jewels - Meow The Jewels: 6.5/10
- Saint Asonia - Saint Asonia: 6.5/10
- TesseracT - Polaris: 7/10
- The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Harmlessness: 6/10
- Years & Years - Communion: 8.5/10
Top 10 Albums of 2015:
- Muse - Drones
- Halsey - BADLANDS
- 10 Years - From Birth To Burial
- Fall Out Boy - American Beauty / American Psycho
- Halestorm - Into The Wild Life
- Purity Ring - Another Eternity
- CHVRCHES - Every Open Eye
- Zedd - True Colors
- Years & Years - Communion
- Bring Me The Horizon - That’s The Spirit
Upcoming Releases I’m Looking Forward To in the 4th Quarter (in order of hype):
- Arcane Roots - Heaven & Earth
- Stone Temple Pilots?
- City and Colour - If I Should Go Before You
- Puscifer - Money Shots
- Trivium - Silence In The Snow
- Loma Prieta - Self Portrait
- Coheed & Cambria - The Color Before The Sun