Year 6, Day 9: Sarcasm, Self-Deprecation, and Hilarity with PUP

Year 6, Day 9: PUP – The Dream Is Over

Track List

  1. If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will
  2. DVP
  3. Doubts
  4. Sleep in the Heat
  5. The Coast
  6. Old Wounds
  7. My Life Is Over and I Couldn’t Be Happier
  8. Can’t Win
  9. Familiar Patterns
  10. Pine Point

About the Album

The Dream Is Over is the second studio album from Canadian punk rockers, PUP. The album was released on May 27 2016 through SideOneDummy Records and Royal Mountain Records.

Thoughts on the Album

It’s very rare that I find an album that I like where it’s two many features are chaos and unity. That’s what PUP does best. With their sophomore release, The Dream Is Over, the Canadian punk quartet offer up a satirical, realistic, humorous, and introspective take on their career and life. This album takes their self-titled debut and builds on it. Makes it angrier, more ferocious, and at certain points, downright hilarious. The album opens with If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will. It’s an airing of grievances as frontman Stefan Bobcock scoffs at quitting his dream as the rest of the members of the band are ready to kill each other. It’s one hell of a way to start off an album, with some rampant gang vocals shouted over the band members’ personal jabs at each other.

Lead single DVP highlights the growth of the guitar work with it’s speed and skill. The rapid guitars reach a breakneck pace as their struggle to keep up with Babcock’s powerful and furious vocals. Much like the album opener, DVP is chock full of humor and wit. It’s one of the album’s fiercest cuts. Do yourself a favor, and watch the official music video for this song. I don’t want to spoil it, but yeah. Can’t Win, the eighth track is instantly catchy. You will find yourself nodding your head along to it and shouting along it’s soaring chorus. Old Wounds puts the chaos on full display as it shows off it’s hardcore roots and influences. It’s like every member of the band is releasing some pent up aggression in Old Wounds.

It’s big hooks, melodic riffs, bouncing rhythm sections, and more that highlight this album. An album about rolling with the punches. Can’t Win embodies what The Dream Is Over is about. The situations that automatically beg you as an underdog and leaving you feeling destined to fail no matter what. But you’re encouraged to overcome those situations. By the time you reach Pine Point, it’s almost like you’ve become friends with the band, hearing their stories. Their testimonies. It closes the album on a tragic note, but however, points to the light on the horizon.

Conclusion

PUP spins an absolute gem of an album with The Dream Is Over. Spinning this record with an unmatched and unbridled positivity and making fun of the weights of the world seeming worked excellently for this band. It’s a punk album that’s rare: it has replay value. Coming in at exactly 30 minutes in length, The Dream Is Over is a ten song romp that’ll have you shouting along.

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Year 6, Day 8: It’s Pretty Cool To Be You, says the Descendents

Year 6, Day 8: Descendents – Cool To Be You

Track List

  1. Talking
  2. Nothing Without You
  3. She Don’t Care
  4. ‘Merican
  5. Dog and Pony Show
  6. Blast Off!
  7. Dreams
  8. Cool to Be You
  9. Maddie
  10. Mass Nerder
  11. One More Day
  12. Tack
  13. Anchor Grill
  14. Dry Spell

About the Album

Cool to Be You is the sixth studio album from California hardcore punk band, the Descendents. The album was recorded February and April of 2002 and released on March 23rd 2004 through Fat Wreck Chords. It is the band’s first album since 1996. The album peaked at number 143 on the Billboard 200 and number six on the Billboard Independent Albums chart.

Thoughts on the Album

In the first few days I featured some east coast hardcore. Now it’s time we hear from their compatriots on the west coast. The Descendents are a punk band that have been around since the 1980s… and depending on how you classify them there are either hardcore punk or pop-punk. But why let labels get in our way of enjoying an album. In 2004, the band released their sixth album, Cool to Be You, a fourteen song, 36 minute affair that’ll raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Cool to Be You the longevity and power that punk rock has… considering the Descendents have been around since 1977.

There is a stylistic and cultural difference between east coast and west coast hardcore. But that debate is for a whole nother time and place. Cool to Be You shows off the growth of the west coast scene since the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. It’s album that takes on the world with a sense of humor, because let’s be honest here, what teenager is really all that concerned with rebellions and politics? I mean, sure, yeah, songs about CIA-sponsored coup d’etats, economic, political unfairness, and social injustice are pretty cool. But sometimes you need some songs about girls, food, and doing absolutely dumb (and occasionally dangerous) things with your friends.

However, this album isn’t all about fun and games and sophomoric humor. It does have a mature side to it; an adult side that has grown up. One More Day tackles the topic of how to deal with the loss of an estranged loved one. Showing off the band’s energy, but in a more tone down way. It’s also the slowest track on the album at 3 minutes and 33 seconds. There’s the lyrically fantastic ‘Merican, the blisteringly paced track about both the positive and negative aspects of American history. Celebrating everything great about our country from Otis Redding, Duke Ellington, and Walt Whitman to damning the negative: slavery, Joe McCarthy, the Vietnam War. The Descendents go about without a preachy tone like most political punk songs do. American pride and American shame all in one blistering minute 51 second track.

For those that have listened to the Descendents before, their trademarked sophomoric/childish humor and self-deprecation is there. Mass Nerder, discusses being ostracized and outcast in school. Dog and Pony Show makes light of singles bars. And what sophomoric humor would be complete without a track about farts… that’s what Blast Off! is.

One of the more notable things about this band, is how much, musically speaking, they haven’t changed since 1982. 1982 was them release Milo Goes To CollegeCool to Be You has a lot of unorthodox melodies which are buoyed by incredibly tight rhythm sections and some “fancy”  guitar work. The production work is sharp and crisp. Not one instrument is more dominant than the other; each instrument is clear.

Conclusion

Jokes about farts, singles bars, and nerds aside, Cool to Be You is an excellent “pop-hardcore” album. It takes the west coast hardcore and fuses it with modern pop-punk and creates an easily accessible album that anyone can enjoy. The album is dripping in the most enduring traits of the Descendents: their realism and positivism. What the Descendents did with Cool to Be You was produced an outstanding melodic punk record with a welcome addition of maturity (but not too much maturity, looking at you Blast Off!) and some memorable and solid songs.

Tracks to Listen to: Talking, ‘Merican, Mass Nerder, Blast Off!

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Year 6, Day 7: Accepting that change is good (it’s good, it’s good) with Paramore

Year 6, Day 7: Paramore – After Laughter

Track List

  1. Hard Times
  2. Rose-Colored Boy
  3. Told You So
  4. Forgiveness
  5. Fake Happy
  6. 26
  7. Pool
  8. Grudges
  9. Caught In The Middle
  10. Idle Worship
  11. No Friend
  12. Tell Me How

About the Album

After Laughter is the fifth studio album from Nashville, Tennessee based rock band, Paramore. The album was recorded from June 2016 through November 2016 and released on May 12th 2017 through Fueled by Ramen. The album debuted at number six on the Billbaord 200 as well as debuted in the top 10 of several other countries as well.

Thoughts on the Album

You know, I don’t what it is with Paramore and me. Maybe it’s Hayley Williams‘ pretty much soul piercing voice. Maybe it’s Taylor York‘s steady and consistent guitar work. Maybe it’s the infectious anthems like Pressure, Ignorance, Brick by Boring Brick, crushcrushcrush, That’s What You Get, Misery Business, Still Into You, Ain’t it Fun, and now a new addition to that growing list: Hard TimesHard Times is a single off of Paramore‘s fifth studio album, After Laughter. It’s an album I was not expecting, though I should have seen it coming. Three albums of pure pop-punk/emo-punk, one album of synth friendly alternative rock, and now… an album of 1980’s new wave/synthpop/power-pop?

Yeah, definitely wasn’t expecting that. Nope.

However, regardless of whether I like it our not, change is good.

Let’s get one thing clear: the Paramore of the mid-2000’s is dead. They are not the hand banging, pop-punk rocks anymore. They don’t [physically] exist anymore, though their spirit lives on throughout this album. Anyway, After Laughter was the most logical progression from their self-titled LP. However where their self-titled album fumbled about trying to find an identity, After Laughter shows a form of steadfast resolve. The album is tight and consistent throughout. The album really shines in the places where it embraces the change. What I mean by that is, the more crazy, quirky, and strange the band gets, the more creativity that flows. Lead single, Hard Times is an example of this. Hard Times has an eclectic mix of guitar and percussion. While it’s a song that may turn off the passive listener, if you listen to in the context of the entire album, it fits. Just as flamboyant as Hard Times is Rose Colored Boy, accentuated by a high pitched background chorus shouts of “low-key, no pressure, just hang with me and my weather!”

What’s amazing with this album is just how comfortable the band is with this new sound. One of the strengths (and oddities) of this album is how the dynamic between the music and lyrics often clashes. There are, however, a few times where the lyrics match the music and boy, does it make for an excellent listening experience. For example, the acoustic ballad 26 has a beautiful string arrangement that centers around a guitar motif. You can really see the reflection the drama and moodiness off the instruments and lyrics. Another example of this is the absolutely stunning closer, Tell Me How, with it’s gorgeous piano work. You can even find this on the more bubbly and fizzier tracks on the album. Pool, highlights this with it’s beautiful vocal harmonies of the uplifting chorus clashes with the consistency of the synths.

Catharsis.

The album’s core, synthpop, is it’s strength and main asset. Just listen to how the band throws around fun quirks and sounds all throughout the album. Caught In The Middle throws in some funky chords to combine with a solid thumping bass line.

Conclusion

After listening to After Laughter, I could generally tell that Paramore was happy with where they were sound and music wise. The album’s production is incredibly solid, and there is no sacrifice of quality at the expensive of trying to appease every fan, like with their self-titled LP. The finished product is vibrant and colorful and each instrument as a color to the hue. Yes, this album has a heavy 80’s nostalgia influence about it, but there is nothing cliched about it. Everything sounds natural. Paramore‘s version of 80’s nostalgia is distinctly them and so After Laughter. It’s not a strong return to form, as it’s a total reinvention of their form, but Paramore knocks it out of the park with an excellent introduction to their new form.

Songs to Listen to: Hard Times, Rose Colored Boy, Told You So, Fake Happy, Tell Me How

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Year 6, Day 6: How To Have Fun and Enjoy Music with Prof. Chamberlain Waits

Year 6, Day 6: The Menzingers – Chamberlain Waits

Track List

  1. Who’s Your Partner?
  2. I Was Born
  3. Home Outgrown
  4. Deep Sleep
  5. Time Tables
  6. Male Call
  7. Tasker-Morris Station
  8. So It Goes
  9. No We Didn’t
  10. Rivalries
  11. Come Here Often?
  12. Chamberlain Waits

About the Album

Chamberlain Waits is the second studio album from Scranton Pennsylvania based punk band, The Menzingers. The album was recorded in January 2010 and released on April 13th 2010 through Red Scare Industries (often times referred to as Red Scare Records).

Thoughts on the Album

What, or should I say who was the first band you trusted? One of the first bands I ever trusted was the Foo Fighters. So what does that have to do with today’s album? Well developing trust in a band is huge and an incredibly joyful moment in your life. You know that, for you, there are some bands that will produce songs and albums that the moment you listen to it, you’ll undoubtedly fall in love with it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the vocal style, the energy the band gives/brings, or maybe even the consistency… you know which bands that can do no wrong in your eyes (or ears for that matter). This is why I’m always wary of new songs/albums/bands I listen to. However with Chamberlain Waits, the Scranton, Pennsylvania native punk rockers, The Menzingers eschewed this. As soon as I heard Who’s Your Partner? I wanted more and needed to dive into this album. And sure enough The Menzingers created an easily accessible piece of punk rock beauty that has undoubtedly earned my trust.

I’m going to be quite honest with you: there is nothing special about Chamberlain Waits. No grandiose intros, no blazing, face-melting guitar solos, nothing pretentious or reoccurring. It’s basic and straightforward punk rock in 12 easily accessible songs. Where as some albums grow on you, this album is a stickler. It sticks and stays with you. Your first listen of this album is the same as your last. And maybe that is what makes this album special. I mean, it’s album that doesn’t try to wow you with clever track placement or witty names. It’s just, “here it is, take it or leave it”. Nothing flashy, just pure and simple punk rock.

Album opener, Who’s Your Partner? doesn’t even bother with the long-winded intros or the high elaborate solos. It just right down to business with simple, driving guitar riffs. It’s an overall solid song where the age old mantra of “less is more” works perfectly. Frontman and lead guitarist Tom May channels his inner Billy Bragg with the vocals. It’s throaty and guttural and powerful. Who’s Your Partner just lets energy flow and allows the drums and power chords to fire the open salvos right into I Was BornI Was Born highlights one of the The Menzingers strongest traits: just how easy it is for anyone to enjoy their unique brand of youthful punk.

This band and album is catchy and I don’t mean like “oh hey this song is catchy”. It’s well past the category of “be wary” and into the category of “you’ll need a vaccine”, that’s how catchy they are. The Menzingers have a unique ability to write catchy, soaring, and beautiful choruses. But unlike most bands that drive these types of beautifully catchy choruses into the dirt, The Menzingers make sure to have the right amount and balance. Take for example So It GoesSo It Goes has an incredibly catchy chorus that plays twice, but it leaves you feeling like it could have been played just one more time. I think it’s one of those, teaser things to make you come back to again for more. One of my favorite songs on the album happens to be Tasker-Morris Station. It’s 2 minutes of pure east coast punk. Fast paced and gritty. The drum work powers the track and leaves you nodding along once the guitars kick in.

Conclusion

Sometimes, no, all of the time, less is more. Chamberlain Waits follows this mantra right to a “T”. It also follows the “K.I.S.S.” method. Keeping it simple, stupid. I said earlier in this post that there’s nothing special about Chamberlain Waits. That’s true, but it’s also not true. While there’s nothing special about this album, that’s what makes it special. It’s an excellent diversion from the grandiose introductions of songs, the three minute solos, and screaming vocal bridges. It’s a straightforward album that’ll have you singing along to it upon first strum of guitar. Chamberlain Waits by The Menzingers is a work of art that should stand up decades, fi not centuries from now. Though my understanding of art is probably a lot different than most.

Punk rock is dead, but no one told The Menzingers.

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Year 6, Day 5: “Up We Go” with LIGHTS’ “Little Machines”

Year 6, Day 5: Lights – Little Machines

Track List

  1. Portal
  2. Running With The Boys
  3. Up We Go
  4. Same Sea
  5. Speeding
  6. Muscle Memory
  7. Oil and Water
  8. Slow Down
  9. Meteorites
  10. How We Do It
  11. Don’t Go Home Without Me

About the Album

Little Machinesis the third studio album from Lights, a Canadian electropop singer-songwriter. The album was released on September 23rd 2013 through Warner Brothers Records. The album peaked at number 34 on the Billboard 200.

Thoughts on the Album

I am a big fan of contrast when it comes to listening to music. I like contrast in my music. When fast-paced, in-your-face, heavy punk rock songs get equalized my more mellow and chilled out synthpop it creates excellent contrast. That’s why I love Lights‘ Little Machines. It goes perfectly with the rest of my music library. the album has this lightweight and chilled out lyrical poetry vibe to it. The lyrics are really strong throughout the album. Little Machines highlights a process of maturity, refinement, cohesiveness, and overall better musicianship from the Canadian songstress.

Little Machines shows off the growth and improvements in Lights‘ songwriting and her prowess for writing anthemic and heartfelt pop songs. One of the good things about maturity in music is that most artists learn that less is more. With this album, Lights proves this as truth. Most of the songs are instantly hummable with just the right balance and accord of synth, guitar, bass, and drums. It marks a departure from the more frenetic and heavy layered Siberia. One of the things I absolutely love about Lights is her vocal range and ability. It’s absolutely powerful and stunning.

Her voice is the main point of interest on lead single, Up We Go. It’s powerful, and along with the drum beat, it drives the song. It’s infectious like the flu… you catch it and instantly be singing and dancing along to it. You can also hear some retrowave with cuts like Running With The Boys and Muscle Memory having been influenced by the 80’s new wave. Running With The Boys will make any older listener reminisce about The Cure or any other 80’s pop rock that implemented live guitar. When this song starts to play, you can tell the energy being derived from it. Whereas other artists come off as contrite, cliched, and cheesy, you can feel the absolute vigor that Lights has flowing from her and makes it sound completely natural.

The album’s opener, Portal, highlights a musical growth for Lights as well as a happy middle ground between her two previous albums. Portal is a gem on the album and showcases the Canadian songstress’ gorgeous vocals with atmosphere. Even with lead single Up We Go, Lights seems to find a nice middle ground in a niche that’s not quite Paramore‘s dance rock and Elle Goulding‘s electropop.

Conclusion

This was my first Lights album I ever bought. I did it on recommendation from a Canadian girl that I had class with at Temple University. It’s very rare that I ever listen to someone’s recommendations on music, but this time I am. Whenever I’m feeling down, I pull up Little Machines on Spotify and instantly feel better. Lights managed to create something pretty damn special… a pop album without fast-paced heavy distortion electric guitars… THAT I ACTUALLY LIKE. Lights also effectively manages to blend and balance new and old, light and heavy into a single cohesive and excellent effort. The album does have it’s flaws and drawbacks, like most do. Not every song is memorable, but they aren’t bad. However, the songs that do stand out, really do stand out… like a preening peacock. I guess it’s only Up We Go from here.

Tracks to Listen toPortal, Running With the Boys, Up We Go, and Don’t Go Home Without Me

 

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The Broad Street Playlist Weekly Recap for 2/14-2/18/2018

Welcome to The Broad Street Playlist’s “Weekly Recap” for the week of February 14th 2018. Here we will recap everything you might have missed during the week and include a special Spotify playlist that contains four/five songs from each of the albums featured this week.

Batting first is…

Wednesday, February 14th 2018

To start off Year 6 of the project we discussed Canadian alternative rockers, Arkells‘ third studio album, High Noon. With High Noon, the Arkells took their trademark sound and added some more gloss to it. Bigger production, bigger sound, catchier choruses. The works. Taking the black-and-blue-eyed soul and rock and roll from Jackson Square and the more pop-rock influenced Michigan Left combining the two to create an excellent album. So make a wish at 11:11, grab your Leather Jacket, and take a listen. Click here to read more about the Arkells‘ High Noon!

Thursday, February 15th 2018

On the second day, we revisited our days as scene/emo kids back in high school with My Chemical Romance‘s The Black Parade! MCR created a rock opera that so creative, it leaves the listener leaving more. Compared to many in the category of “rock opera” or “concept album”, The Black Parade is the complete package: cohesive, epic, and spectacular. It experiments just enough and doesn’t try to do too much. Click here to read more about My Chemical Romance‘s The Black Parade!

Friday, February 16th 2018

The third day has us raising our firsts and demanding change with Rise Against‘s Appeal to Reason. While a slight departure from traditional Rise Against with more mid-tempo songs, Appeal to Reason still has that typical grit, snarl, and ferocity that many have come to expect from the Chicago based punk band. It’s album that’ll appeal to both fans of old and new fans. Click here to read more about Rise Against‘s Appeal to Reason!

Saturday, February 17th 2018

The fourth/final album of the first week, calms us down and chills us out. With The Chain Gang of 1974‘s Daydream Forever we traded in (for the most part) our heavy distortion on guitar and driving drum lines for some 1980’s retro, chilled out synth lines and beats. It’s a synth-pop gem that will perfect contrast with your more harder and faster albums in your music library. Click here to read more about The Chain Gang of 1974‘s Daydream Forever!

Spotify Playlist Recap

Year 6, Day 4: Daydreaming Forever with Chain Gang of 1974

 Year 6, Day 4: The Chain Gang of 1974 – Daydream Forever

Track List

  1. Ordinary Fools
  2. You
  3. Sleepwalking
  4. Lola Suzanne
  5. Miko
  6. Godless Girl
  7. Witch
  8. Moksha
  9. Mouth
  10. Death Metal Punk
  11. Plum

About the Album

Daydream Forever is the third studio album from American Indie-Electronica musician Kamtin Mohager‘s project, The Chain Gang of 1974. The album was recorded from October 8th 2012 to February 4th 2013, and released on February 4th 2014 through Warner Brothers Records. The promotional single, Sleepwalking, was featured in the Rockstar video Game Grand Theft Auto V.

Thoughts on the Album

Let’s slow down the pace a wee bit for the fourth album. Let’s calm down and chill out to some good vibes and some 1980’s nostalgia. The Chain Gang of 1974, known for their trademark 1980’s style of “indietronica” bring more of the same with their third studio album, Daydream Forever. Except this time, it’s on a much grander and more ambitious scale. With bigger and beefed-up hooks and production, Daydream Forever rarely disappoints. Upon first listen one can hear the influence of modern contemporaries such as M83Foster the People, and Phoenix, had during the recording process. Of course, one glance at the liner notes and we can see that the producers of this album are Tony Hoffer and Isom Innis, the both of which’s combined résumé include this artists. But one can also hear the influence that 1980’s new wave and pop artists such as Duran DuranSimple MindsEcho & The Bunnymen, and OMD had.

One thing is clear right from the get go with the opener, Ordinary Fools straight through to the closer, Plum: the heavy synthetic tones of the 1980’s play a heavy influence. However, Mohager isn’t constrained just to this one style and sound. Mohager has the keen ability to turn these classic tunes into something energetic and new. There is contrast between the dark tone of the lyrics and the upbeat sounds of the songs. But it’s a mixture of slow and quick beats that reels you in and keeps you coming back for more. One would remiss to think that this combination of mixing beats and contrasting sound with lyrical undertone would be a recipe for disaster, but in this case, it’s not. The album is magnificently crafted with both eerie and thought-provoking lyrics. I can only describe the album both lively and eerie.

Album opener, Ordinary Fools, has an innate ability to grab hold of you from whatever you were thinking at the moment and place you right, smack-dab in the middle of the band’s most intrusive sounds and thoughts. Contrast that with Sleepwalking, and it’s eclectic mix of 80’s retro wave/grooves and the emotion from your favorite love songs of yore (or present). Death Metal Punk just grabs your attention and makes a smile appear on your face with one of the catchiest choruses on the album. While most of the other songs seemingly blend together, upon a second and third listen, you can really pick up on the anxiousness that just takes the songs to a whole nother deeper level. If you were a fan of the band prior to this album, songs Miko and Ordinary Fools will stick with you for their more raw and experimental sounds.

However, the true gem from this album is Sleepwalking. With laser beam synths and disco guitars, Sleepwalking instantly grabs your attention and never lets go. An instant synth-pop classic that is incredibly well written. It has sharp and smooth production that should stick out to any listener. It’s a song that once it’s melodies find their way into your ears, they are not leaving.

Conclusion

Daydream Forever is an excellent indie-electronica album. Generally, I stick to mostly fast paced, distortion heavy punk, hard rock, or alternative rock. But when I first heard Sleepwalking I needed to hear more… and I’m glad I did. I’m all about contrast when it comes to music; specifically speaking of contrast in genres, styles, and sound. While Kamtin Mohager stuck close to the arena of synth pop/electro for Daydream Foreveryou can hear many different styles of the genre rather than just one specific style of synth pop/electro. Definitely a good album that has easy danceability and replayablity.

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