Tag Archives: Pop Punk

Versus You – Worn And Loved

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Versus You - Worn And Loved

I would say that one of the main factors, that make me listen to a record repeatedly, is how much I can identify with it on a personal level, since I find little to no sense in listening to music that gives me nothing in return for my time spent. Now, what you take from music is very subjective and can differ strongly from case to case: some might be into lyrics, others more into the feeling that the instrumentation gives them, and so forth. Well, today I have the pleasure of writing a piece about a record that manages to push just the right buttons on several levels: Versus You‘s fourth full-length called Worn And Loved, which is going to be released this Friday, March 15th. So let’s go!

In essence, this new record is a return to what worked really well on the predecessor, Moving On, and delivers top notch pop punk. Even though I would say that it’s less on the pop side this time around, it still maintains super catchy and each song has an instant recognizability to it. In the five years that have passed between records, the quartet has switched drummers and I feel like he brings a breath of fresh air behind the kit. While I had nothing to fault in the past, I find the drumming even more diverse and full of small surprises this time around. I also really want to make a Spinal Tap joke here…but nothing good comes to mind.

When it comes to the guitar work, I am always impressed by the prolific songwriting that can be found in Eric Rosenfeld’s songs, no matter which moniker he releases them under. While the complexity is never on a virtuoso level, the execution and songwriting definitely are, because I dare you not to whistle along to the main riff of at least half of the thirteen tracks on your first listen. Which brings me back to what I said at the beginning: music is, for the most part, subjective and I always welcome well-written and uplifting music with open arms.

Despite the mostly happy sounding instrumentation, W&L is not a happy go lucky album by any means…and that is exactly what makes it so good. The thirty-five minute musical journey deals with many feelings and situations that people experience growing up. It is a raw representation of the many struggles that teenagers and young adults, that are often not touched upon by society as a whole. Be it anxiety over never being able to satisfy expectations of our parents or our friends, being alienated by our peers, or vice versa.

All in all, Versus You return with what I would consider their best record to date, and I feel like Worn And Loved has the potential of helping a few people who might be going through a rough time, by telling them that it is OK to not be perfect, that it will become better. In that spirit, if you want to have a, what I expect to be, great night, be sure to come to den Atelier this Friday, where the band is inviting everyone to a release show, free-of-charge. For more information, you can head to the band’s Facebook page and in order to get pumped, listen to the track below.

Bare Dreams – Au Revoir

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Until five years ago I was not aware that Israel had much to offer musically aside from pop, but shortly after discovering Ferium, I was introduced to Shredhead, and from there on out my view shifted towards the Middle Eastern country. While not being in the same genre, I am delighted to review today’s band from the same country: Bare Dreams! The quartet plays pop punk and is about to release its debut EP Au Revoir this Friday, so let’s see what the guys have to offer!

I’m not going to lie: the quartet does not reinvent the wheel, in any shape or form, but does manage to deliver six fairly diverse songs that contain solid songwriting and heartfelt performances all throughout. Since I’m a strong advocate of the „if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it“ motto, I welcome this approach very much.

One stand-out feature to me are the vocals which, aside from being very easy on the ears with their fairly wide range, have a lovely accent. To me, certain types of accents add a lot of character and make the vocalist much more memorable, while others make me cringe very hard, but that is a different story for a different review.

My only minor critique concerns the tracklist: I feel like the first two tracks would have been better off in the middle of the record, since they are on the slower side of the band’s musical spectrum and don’t build enough momentum at the beginning of the EP. I believe that the track below would have been the perfect opener, but all in all it doesn’t deter from the listening enjoyment too much.

To sum things up, I was pleasantly surprised by Bare Dreams, and it’s proven to me that there is still a lot of about the Israeli music scene that I can discover in the future! If you feel like some new pop punk tunes, be sure to give Au Revoir a listen when it drops and until then visit the band on their Facebook page and give the song below a listen!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2q8w_WrgrU]

Hungover – Wilt

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the one thing I love the most about my reviewing hobby is being introduced to music that I, probably, wouldn’t find otherwise. Especially bands that might only have a solid fanbase in their country or city, but still harbor a ton of talent and potential. Today’s artist definitely falls into that category, because according to their Facebook-like-count Hungover are fairly small, yet their debut EP Wilt packs everything that big and famous bands have…and then some.

Technically-speaking, it’s not their debut per se: it’s actually a remastered re-release, with three additional tracks, of an EP with the same name that was released two years ago, but the new mix gives the old songs a brand new shine that makes them seem completely fresh. The band’s sound is as pop punk as it can get, with all of its trademark aspects like mid-tempo verses and high-tempo choruses, but well-written and well-executed with enough recognizability to set it apart from many of the other bands in the genre.

While the instrumentation is solid is solid throughout the twenty-seven minutes, but nothing that has never been done before, the vocals stand out that much more, at least to me. I’m sure this comparison has been done ad nauseam, but I can’t go without bringing it up as well; sorry: if I hadn’t looked at the band members’ names beforehand, I could have sworn that Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy was the vocalist! This guy’s voice, especially his highs, and even the rhythm is so similar that it’s almost scary.

Lyrically, the eight tracks deal with the typical topics that can be found in this genre: separation, teen angst and lovesickness among others. But for some reason they hit me hard when I first heard them, which goes to show that even a topic that has been sung about a million times, can still have an effect if it’s packaged nicely.

There is one minor caveat that I can’t get my around though, and that is the fact that for some reason the vocals on the three new songs have a really weird mix, giving them an auto-tuned or pitch-shifted quality, which really put me off at first. After countless listens I’ve learned to ignore it most of the time, but especially in Exit – Stage Left there are parts that still occasionally make me cringe.

Aside from that one shortcoming, Wilt is an EP that I would recommend every pop punk lover or newcomer to the genre, because it has everything you are looking for to satisfy your musical thirst. You can head over to the band’s Facebook page and check out the video below to get an impression of their sound. And be sure to keep your eyes peeled on Friday when the quintet releases this baby to the public!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-RNHNu9VCc]

Six Time Champion – Expecting Honesty

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In the past I’ve mentioned that writing reviews has its perks, like getting releases early and being introduced to bands that you might never discover on your own, but it has also has a few downsides, one of which is the possible oversaturation of one specific genre. Sadly today’s review is one of these cases for me…and it breaks my heart in a way, since Six Time Champion have everything that is needed to create amazing pop punk, as they prove with their EP Expecting Honesty!

As mentioned above, the Brighton-based quintet delivers five energy-laden tracks that are spot-on when it comes to pop punk. Everything is here: driving drums that are the perfect backdrop for the melodic guitar parts as well as the happy-angsty, for lack of a better word, atmosphere that is ever-present in their sound. There is no doubt that these blokes are talented musicians with a well-developed sense of good songwriting but, for me personally, it’s just not enough…more on that in a bit.

Throughout the twenty-minutes the vocalist presents a wide range of styles, including clean vocals and screams, and complements the instruments perfectly. The same goes for the occasional gang shouts, which fit the parts they’re used in like a glove. Lyrically, it’s about the life on the road, broken hearts and various other typical topics, with quite a few catchy lines. No complaints there.

Now, you might ask yourself why Expecting Honesty doesn’t quite hit home for me and, even though it pisses me off to say this, the answer is easy: I’ve heard it all before. This does not mean that STC are a run-off-the-mill band, quite the contrary actually, but there were no major “a-ha!” moments for me and I’ve been presented with many other strong pop punk bands, from the UK mainly, this year. However, I strongly urge everyone reading this to check them out, since chances are that you will dig them a lot. I seriously wish I could say the same for me, as it is clear that the guys are really passionate about their music and they truly deserve every bit of support they can get! Head over to their Facebook page for more info, listen to the song below and keep your eyes peeled on December 1st, which is the official release date of the EP. Long story short and in accordance with the name of the EP: truly good stuff, but I’ve had one too many. Cheers to that!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq1FLu0qIyc]

Marmozets – The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets

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Let me ask you: do you like female-fronted pop punk bands à la Paramore but always felt like there’s that extra little spice that is missing? Seek no longer, because you have just found your perfect sound in Marmozets! The fairly young band from England has just released its debut full-length The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets on September 29th and let me tell you: it’s a pure blast!

The quintet, which is composed of three and two siblings, has been around for a bit more than half a decade but has only recently gained wide-spread attention when they signed to Roadrunner Records. Naturally, with this there is a certain hype attached to them now but this is one of those instances where I can completely acknowledge and confirm that they’re absolutely worth it.

The thirteen tracks all have a very pop-punkey feel to them with beautiful melodies and great hooks, but just when you think you know what’s coming next they will surprise you with a massive groove-laden part or a super heavy riff that will stomp you to the ground while still maintaining a certain “happy” vibe. Naturally, there are also a couple of slower songs but even those stand out with their intense atmosphere.

The singer delivers a breath-taking performance all throughout the forty-five minutes and her vocal range spans beautifully sung clean vocals equally well as screams and a handful of growls. There are also some soulful parts thrown in as well as some naughty-sounding bits, which completes the auditive spectrum perfectly. Beside the brilliant voice, the lyrics are also slightly atypical since they deal with darker topics, as one is used to in this genre, such as alcoholism and similar issues. Definitely a nice change.

To sum things up, what can I say other than: Marmozets are a band to look out for in the future. They have a strong drive, a diverse sound and the necessary skill to execute it all flawlessly. Be sure to check out the song below and visit their Facebook page to keep up with what’s happening around them.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afX5kz9hfHI]

Homebound – Coming Of Age

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Before I start today’s review, I have to admit that the main reason why I agreed to write about Homebound‘s EP Coming Of Age was the cover. I mean, a skyscraper-sized warthog can only mean greatness, right? Turns out my intuition didn’t betray me, because the music itself is quite worth listening to as well!

First of all, the English quintet plays pop punk, in many ways comparable to Fall Out Boy, but yet interlaced with several “punkier” elements, which puts a nice spin on the old formula. Even though the instrumental front is held rather simple, the songs manage to convince on the whole line since they’re really easy to get into. Always a plus in this genre, despite the lack of any major surprise throughout the eighteen minutes.

The vocals are mostly clean-sung, apart from some minor screams, and complement the drums and guitars perfectly. The thing that I liked most about the singing is that there’s a wholly separate melody to it, thus providing another layer of variation to the six songs.

While this rather short review doesn’t quite do this EP justice, I feel like there’s not much more I can tell you, since it’s definitely worth giving a spin if you’re into pop punk, and that any additional words would be a waste of time. So what are you waiting for? Listen to the song below and head to the band’s Facebook page!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx904qLQtA0]

Battleghost – Transient

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Let’s face it: pop punk has been around for years and while there are a lot of bands in the genre, not a lot have what it takes to stand out from the mass. Today, I’m going to write a bit about Battleghost and their most recent EP Transient.

The quartet plays a rather classic formula of the genre, without any breakdowns or super heavy parts, which is interesting since that alone gives them a certain specialness because it strays a bit from the more modern, heavier, take on pop punk. This doesn’t mean that it’s soft music though: the guys keep up a nice tempo throughout the five songs and therefore boredom isn’t an issue.

On a technical level, it’s solid but if you go in expecting crazy solos, extremely insane guitar riffs or super intricate drum parts, you’re definitely looking in the wrong direction. However, the guys from Richmond, Virginia pulled off putting together a catchy sixteen minute experience…which is all that counts in the end, in my humble opinion.

The vocals are, as mentioned before, clean-sung all throughout with a few screams in the mix. It’s not the kind of voice that you’ve never ever heard before but it rounds off the ensemble rather satisfyingly.

All in all, Battleghost did in no way whatsoever reinvent the wheel of pop punk, but their newest EP definitely has a raison d’être and it’s not a waste of time to give it a shot, which you can do by heading over to the band’s Bandcamp page! Furthermore, you can visit their Facebook page or simply check out their video below! Have fun!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPZ7Kyb3ZkA]

Everybody Looks Famous – Earth

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a sucker for pop punk with female vocals. No matter how good or bad the band is, I feel like I have to check them out and give them a chance. In the case of the UK-based Everybody Looks Famous that was actually a smart decision! They are about to release their new EP called Earth next week and they managed to bring something quite solid to the table.

The four tracks on the new endeavor of the quintet all have that really dreamy melodic feel to them, which is rather nicely achieved by frequent use of synthesizers accompanying the “classic” instruments. The latter are, I would imagine, deliberately held rather basic, but effective in the sense that they don’t take you away from the zone the music puts you in.

The vocals are mostly done by the female lead singer, but sometimes underlaid by the two, male, guitarists who serve as background vocalists, thus creating a fitting contrast and adding variety to their sound. There is nothing negative whatsoever I can say about the vocal performance in general, since it’s a flawless job…but I do have to say that the timbre of the singer is nothing I’ve never heard, so I wasn’t exactly awestruck.

The only real critique I have about these, mostly, mid-tempo fifteen minutes is that I would have wished for a slightly different mixing/mastering: in some passages the individual instruments are a bit too low in the mix, and in other cases the vocals are. But it’s just a minor gripe, that I can easily forgive since the overall experience is enjoyable enough!

In closing, I’ll say that while ELF are not breaking new ground, they are obviously passionate musicians that deserve to be heard by more people. So give Earth a listen on the 16th when it comes out and visit the band’s Facebook page for more information about their progress!

Angel At My Table – Light

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They took their sweet time, because a bit more than four years have elapsed since the release of their debut EP, but the wait is finally over: Angel At My Table are releasing their first full length, called Light, this Saturday! But rest assured that the wait was well worth it, since the Luxembourgish quintet manages to convince on, almost, every level!

Back in 2010 when AAMT first started, they were often compared to Paramore, which was in a way a compliment but was also connected to a certain skepticism toward their longevity. With their second EP, that doubt was lifted a bit but with the eleven tracks on their first album, they have definitely proven that they are not just-another-pop-punk band. To people who followed their evolution, like me, this has become apparent over the course of the last few months since the female-fronted band has toured extensively in many countries across the world…and Light will cement that success even further.

The evolution in the instrumental department is quite remarkable: the guitars are more technical, the drums and bass lock in together perfectly and deliver a driving performance. Everything just sounds so much more mature and thought through that it’s hard to believe that the band’s first footsteps were but four years ago. A fact that can be observed in the new version of City Romance, off the eponymous debut EP, which is brought back in a rejuvenated state.

The vocals during these thirty-five minutes are on the usual high level but I feel like the front woman is surer than ever of her skills and manages to deliver a truly compelling performance. Lyrically, it also feels by far more grown-up, especially on songs like the opener Broken, where, if I interpret it correctly, she brings across a really inspirational message to many women out there.

The production is top notch and allows the songs to unfold perfectly in your ear canal, and remain stuck there for a while. My absolute favorite example for that is the song Gravity, which is, in my personal opinion, the best song the guys and gal have come up with so far. My only minor gripe is the song order, since the ending feels a bit anti-climatic, but I can in all honestly not deduct any points for that.

To sum things up, I must say that I’m more than impressed by what Angel At My Table have concocted and I can only recommend every fan of the genre to check out Light! I am convinced that this is but the beginning of a long and promising journey and if you want to be part of it you should move your behind to den Atelier this Saturday, May 17th, where the band will hold their release show! For more information, you can visit their Facebook page and be sure to watch the video below!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDEFm7kO4jE]

Midday Committee – Girls In Open C

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Today I’m writing about a record that impressed me because of a simple fact, that I will get into at the end of this review. Midday Committee‘s second EP Girls In Open C was released this Monday and is a nice little seven, including the intro, track venture into the pop punk genre.

The quartet from Portsmouth has a great feeling for writing catchy songs with easy-to-remember structures, while managing to avoid sounding generic, or too poppy rather. The melodic guitars coupled with the driving drum beats form a really enjoyable ensemble that just manages to convince.

The punk side of their genre doesn’t come too short either, even though you will be searching in vain for unclean vocals, breakdowns or anything of the sort. On the contrary, the twenty-five minutes don’t suffer from that in any way whatsoever and it would actually be quite unfitting if there were any of those elements in the mix.

The vocalist does a fabulous job and I haven’t noticed a single weak moment in his performance on the EP. Furthermore, there is a beautiful duet with Christina Rotondo of the band Searching Alaska in the last song, Just Me And You, that is definitely my highlight of the record. Lyrically, the EP is, as you might have guessed from its title, mostly about relationships…so nothing too surprising there, but at least it’s not super cheesy.

As a closing statement, I’m going to say that Midday Committee‘s selling point for me was that they managed to come up with what I had wanted from the last Fall Out Boy, who are obviously big inspirations to them, record. It might be slightly high praise but the blokes do deserve it, since they don’t lack talent! For more information, be sure to visit their Facebook and be sure to check out the entire EP below!