3rd Quarter Of 2016 In Music - Wrap-Up

Perhaps a bit overdue, but better late than never. Here's a summary of what we listened to in the third quarter of 2016 (July - September) and links to albums we've reviewed.

5-Star Albums (85 - 100)

4-Star Albums (65 - 84)

3-Star Albums (45 - 64)

2-Star Albums (25 - 44)

1-Star Albums (0 - 24)

  • None!

Throwback Reviews


Top Albums Of 2016 (so far)

  1. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
  2. AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
  3. Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor
  4. Deftones - Gore
  5. Dream Theater - The Astonishing
  6. Foxes - All I Need
  7. Sin Fang - Spaceland
  8. Daughter - Not To Disappear
  9. Gojira - Magma
  10. Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

Top Songs Of 2016 (so far)

  1. AURORA - 'Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) (Acoustic)'
  2. Radiohead - 'True Love Waits'
  3. Deftones - 'Hearts/Wires'
  4. Radiohead - 'Daydreaming' *
  5. Panic! At The Disco - 'Emperor's New Clothes'
  6. Foxes - 'Better Love'
  7. Lacey Sturm - 'Rot'
  8. AURORA - 'Through The Eyes Of A Child'
  9. Deftones - 'Phantom Bride'
  10. Thrice - 'Black Honey'

As always, thank you so much for reading our reviews and visiting our website! If you don't want to miss out on any reviews, check out our social media: we're on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr!

Sum 41 - 13 Voices

Sum 41 were a major part of the pop punk movement of the 2000s. Their edge was boosted by high energy riffs and thoughtful - or sometimes rebellious - lyrics. The band's fate was uncertain following 2013, but their comeback album is here in 2016: 13 Voices.

Perhaps taking time off was a good move, because Sum 41 sounds at the top of their game on the new record. The record feels fresh and new, not quite a reinvention but rather a personal rediscovery. Their purpose is clearer on 13 Voices. Their previous five albums made their statement, but not quite as concisely or effectively as this sixth effort.

You know things aren't quite the same right from the intro. Half of the first track 'A Murder Of Crows' is an epic buildup of electronics and strings, and epic orchestra soon backed by thick, brooding guitars before the meat of the song comes in with the same awesome demeanor, gritty vocals paired with sweet melodies to create an electric atmosphere. Just the mere inclusion of strings is enough to give the band some creative credit here. They return in the intro of 'Breaking The Chain', as well, but don't swell in a cinematic way like the former track. Instead, it's a calmer, more progressive build up from the pretty strings to big guitars.

Their pop punk revolution isn't to be ignored. With acts like Moose Blood on the rise (see our review of their album here), pop punk just may be on the brink of revival. Lead single 'Fake My Own Death' saw the band not being afraid to veer away from the signature sound of the genre. It's a standard song, granted, but its guitar work solidifies it as a solid song for pop punk. 'Goddamn I'm Dead Again' does it better, the clapping leading into thick riffs and pounding drums. The song borders punk and alternative metal in a sort of odd dance, the beat and drive obviously punk with a Green Day influence, but there are some killer, dark guitar solos on it that deviate from the standard.

13 Voices has some evil in it, too. Sometimes it works, and sometimes... well, it kind of sounds like My Chemical Romance. The title track '13 Voices' is essentially an MCR ripoff, right down to the vocal delivery. It's a bit sad considering the song had lots of potential, but just feels ripped out of The Black Parade's playbook. Closing track 'Twisted By Design' also has a My Chem vibe, but in a much more natural way that works in the world of Sum 41. The piano intro is followed by dramatic, empowering vocals as the song slowly builds into a driven, thoughtful ending to the record with fantastic melodies. A perfect ending to the record. 'There Will Be Blood' is another song with a brooding, industrial vibe to it, particularly in the slamming delivery of "We'll take the souls of the little ones / And that might be you" in the choruses.

Through the uncertainty, Sum 41 made it through with flying colors. 13 Voices is the start of something big: a new future for the band. A fresh and imaginative sound is here for the Canadian outfit, and they couldn't get off on a better footing with this comeback album. Here's to a new future.

Favorite Tracks: Twisted By Design, A Murder Of Crows, There Will Be Blood

Least Favorite Track: 13 Voices

Rating: 82 / 100

Various Artists - Rock Sound Presents: The Black Parade

The Black Parade defined not only an era, but a generation. It was part of everyone's soundtrack in the mid-2000s, whether it was the heartwrenching piano chords of 'Cancer' or the iconic piano intro of 'Welcome To The Black Parade'. It was revolutionary, powerful, and generally one hell of an album.

Its been ten years since it was released. With its tenth anniversary just a month away, The Black Parade memorabilia is coming through. Next week, My Chemical Romance will be releasing a double LP: The Black Parade / Living With Ghosts, featuring the album on one side and demos from the era on another. This week comes in the form of a dedication album. Rock Sound has brought together a number of big artists to cover songs from The Black Parade. It's a cool project, but not everything is as good as it may seem...

1) One OK Rock - The End.: Starting off fresh is perhaps one of Japan's most well established rock bands, One OK Rock with the opening track, 'The End.' It's a pretty great cover as an opener, but also a bit misleading. The song has great little subtle differences hidden in between the more notable ones. The song's performance adds electronic elements in between the cleaner moments, the contrast between the soft and heavy moments becoming that much greater. What's misleading is how original and good the cover is: having it at the start makes you think some new interpretations of these classic songs are coming, not completely changing them yet adding something new... (92 / 100)

2) Escape The Fate - Dead!: ...sadly, that isn't the case, as seen in Escape The Fate's cover of 'Dead!' It's pretty much an except copy of the original, without much change to it. It has a great guitar solo, but that's as much credit as you can give it. The vocals don't quite give it the same punch, either. It feels like a standard cover band cover, and nothing else. (74 / 100)

3) Creeper - This Is How I Disappear: On the subject of vocals, Creeper's cover of 'This Is How I Disappear' has perhaps the least-fitting vocals on this entire record. It goes in with the nature of Creeper - the vocals are trying to sound creepy and condescending, and it simply doesn't work with the song. The instrumental is incredibly weak, as well. The vocals are half of the mix, and the instrumental is barely any louder than them, making it have little impact. (51 / 100)

4) State Champs - The Sharpest Lives: In the same scenario as Escape The Fate, this song stays even closer to the original than 'Dead!' did. The little guitar punches in the verses aren't as spidery as they were in the original, being fatter and bassier, an subtle but odd difference. the guitar solo is great, and they nailed the bassline underneath it. (70 / 100)

5) Crown The Empire - Welcome To The Black Parade: It's impossible to create a cover that truly does this song justice, but Crown The Empire didn't even try. It's almost painful to listen to this cover. It's completely uninspired, drained of emotion, and takes away all of the original charm of the song. They couldn't so much as try and take out the hammers of the piano hitting the strings as they play the intro. It's worse than a cover band. It really makes you appreciates the small things in the original song that may seem insignificant, but really made the track what it was. They didn't even do the guitar leads in the intro! It's nothing more than a badly rehearsed cover by a cover band you'd see in a bar setting. (35 / 100)

6) Moose Blood - I Don't Love You: Moose Blood amassed a pop punk following leading up to their release of their debut LP Blush - read our review of it here - and brought pop punk back in a new yet familiar light. 'I Don't Love You' meets all the criteria to be a banging pop punk song, and Moose Blood took it and made it just that. With Eddy Brewton's reckless abandon in his vocals, the vocals worry more about emotion than hitting the notes, giving the song a fresh new revival in sweet and warm colors. (88 / 100)

7) Palisades - House Of Wolves: Another song that's received a rebirth in a brand new light. Palisades brings a great blend of intensity and electronica, the verses quite and choruses explosive. The original had an off-kilter, funky composure to it, while Palisades brought a groovier rendition on this cover album. It sounds very modern - if The Black Parade was released in 2016, this is definitely what 'House Of Wolves' would've sounded like. The massive chants of "S-I-N-I-S-I-N" bring a huge conclusion to the song. It's one of the most original covers on the record, without a doubt. (94 / 100)

8) Twenty One Pilots - Cancer: There wasn't a better band to cover this song. No one else but Josh Dun could capture the somber and accepting tone that Gerard Way sang the song in better. The song's a melancholy build of piano and a light drum electronic beat, while Dun's vocals dance a tragic dance in a symphony of vocoders and reverberating words through a cavernous atmosphere. Some would argue that the cover abandons the original's premise and mood with the electronic elements, but its subtlety makes it just as powerful in a different light. It captures all of the beautiful of the original while still remaining catchy, especially in the amazing part after the chorus where samples of Dun singing "I will not kiss you, lips are chapped and faded, call my..." as they echo and float away. The ending reprises it, and the final piano chord resonates and fades away, as if its acceptance and resignation of the narrator. It's truly beautiful. (97 / 100)

9) Ghost Town - Mama: 'Mama' was always a weird song. Ghost Town made their cover of the song weird, but a bit too weird. It's a cool cover, but it tries too hard to create the mood of the original by adding a bunch of different elements. The creepy keyboard part in the verses is cool, albeit overused. It's encouraged for a band to not stick too close to the original, yet Ghost Town sounds like they had to deliberately try to make something like they did. It explodes just like the original does at the end and has the same vibe, for what its worth. It's a good cover, just... a bit too much. (75 / 100)

10) New Years Day - Sleep: Female vocals! It's great to hear someone of the opposite sex tackling the classics on the album, especially when she brings a badass rendition of 'Sleep'. New Years Day's Ashley Costello sings and screams powerful atop soaring and heavy choruses, truly bringing out the best of alternative metal, resulting in a massive, melodic, and epic cover. The guitar solo combined with her screams are just excellent as they kick into one last explosion to end the track. An awesome cover, no doubt. (96 / 100)

11) Against The Current - Teenagers: Against The Current brings in more female vocals into the mix, their groovy and fun alternative rock vibes to record. Their debut album In Our Bones proved that they have the anthemic pop rock vibe nailed (read our review of it here). The intro starts dramatically before Chrissy Costanza's vocals kick in in time with the bass synth. The choruses are just as anthemic as the original's, big drums and sweet guitars not powering the song but acting as support for Costanza's warm vocals. The guitar solo is nailed, leading into a powerful final chorus complete with big gang vocals to emulate the rebellious composure of the song and a bright guitar lead. No one could've fit better into this song than her. (94 / 100)

12) Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! - Sleep: This cover of 'Sleep' just sounds like an overproduced version of the original. There's really nothing special about it that MCR's version doesn't do better. Just a standard cover. It's good, but doesn't provide anything new. (74 / 100)

13) Asking Alexandria - Famous Last Words: It would just so happen that my two favorite songs on the original album happen to be the worst on this cover album. Perhaps it just goes to show how My Chemical Romance absolutely nailed what they were working to accomplish. If you read our review of Asking Alexandria's album The Black, you'd know that I was already unimpressed in them. If you haven't read it yet - click here to check it out. They completely tossed out the energy of the original song, making it feel like you're listening to a weak rendition by a cover band. Where's the punch of the final chorus? Why is it shortened? Why is the instrumental so undynamic? It's overproduced, uninspired, and just plain weak as a cover to end the album. It's a sad listen. (38 / 100)

Rock Sound's compilation is hit or miss, really, though the sentiment is sweet. My Chemical Romance truly created something amazing, and to see all these different bands come together to say thank you to the music and bring this dedication to them. It's humbling, even as a fan, to see these artists perform these songs that are close to so many people's hearts. You can't recreate what The Black Parade made, but you can always pay respect to it.

Favorite Tracks: Cancer, Sleep, Teenagers, House Of Wolves

Least Favorite Tracks: Welcome To The Black Parade, Famous Last Words

Rating: 73 / 100

Moose Blood - Blush

High school is or was the time of our lives. The music of the mid-2000s really defined the teenage scene - no one can forget the infectious pop punk / alternative rock anthems from that era; Fall Out Boy's 'Dance, Dance' and 'Sugar, We're Going Down', We The Kings' 'Check Yes Juliet', and Paramore's 'Misery Business' were only some of the big gems from that time, and even today they define us in that time of our lives.

Some may say pop punk is dead. Moose Blood challenges that statement. Their sound is a combination of today's punk scene and that mid-2000s rock. They're a fresh new blend of two beloved genres, but at the same time, it's just what you expect - and want.

As refreshing a return to this style may be, it's not exactly groundbreaking. It's certainly nostalgic, but by no means anything new. 'Pastel' starts the album and brings the memories flooding back, but once you get past that it's really just an average track. 'Honey' is slightly better, being that relatable love song about a match made in heaven. Much of the album, specifically 'Knuckles' has the sound of Biffy Clyro if they played pop punk. The middle section in a bit boring with how familiar everything sounds...

The problem with this album is that it's something we've heard before. It's nothing new, just a nostalgia trip. It's not a bad album, per se, but once you get past the fact it's a throwback to an important part of your life, it loses its flair. And that's if that era of music was important to you. If you're just listening to a pop punk record, it does get boring towards the center. The last taste or interest is in 'Shimmer', which is a very personal track with a fantastic ending. But other than that, it's a pretty dull, "heard it all before" album.

Moose Blood brings a new hope to this style of pop punk, though. Their sound may not be anything new, but its a gateway for others to follow suit. The doors of pop punk are opening again, and Moose Blood were the ones who dared to push through them. Is a new wave of pop punk coming? The dead has just been brought back alive.

Favorite Tracks: Shimmer, Honey

Least Favorite Track: Cheek

Rating: 70 / 100