Year 6, Day 37: Bayside Thought They Looked Like Strong Hands

Year 6, Day 37: Bayside – Bayside

Track Listing

  1. Hello Shitty
  2. Devotion and Desire
  3. Tortures of the Damned
  4. They Looked Like Strong Hands
  5. Montauk
  6. Blame It on Bad Luck
  7. We’ll Be OK
  8. Existing in a Crisis (Evelyn)
  9. Don’t Call Me Peanut
  10. Half a Life
  11. Dear Tragedy

About the Album

Bayside is the self-titled second studio album from New York based pop punk band, Bayside. The album was released on August 23rd 2005 through Victory Records.

Thoughts on the Album

Down to the final few albums left for this year. I remember hearing Bayside‘s Devotion and Desire  on the EA Sports game MVP 06: NCAA BaseballEA Sports went with the Victory Records label to reflect the change from professional to collegiate baseball, thanks to a their loss of the third party publishing rights to Major League Baseball video games. Anyway, Devotion and Desire was one of my favorite songs off that soundtrack. One of the things about New York, where Bayside is from, is that it is an incredibly fertile ground for musical talent. Bayside sounds like they were assembled in either a secret government lab or factory somewhere with parts from other bands like Brand NewAlkaline Trio, and Taking Back Sunday.

The album opens with the short and quick, Hello Shitty. As the shortest song on the album, there is no need for more. It’s sharp, punchy, and to the point. This pace leads right into the lead single and the aforementioned, Devotion and DesireDevotion and Desire is the strongest track on the album, highlighted by excellent musicianship and instrumental work. Both the guitar and drum work on this song and throughout the album are excellent. The track, Tortures of the Damned features some of frontman Anthony Raneri‘s best and most eloquent lyricism.

If only I had an axe, I’d sever the ties I’ve made with this world

The track Don’t Call Me Peanut, is one of the band’s finest acoustic ballads. And while it’s more the band’s trademarked brand of fast-paced, in-your-face, riff-induced pop punk that skyrocketed them into the spotlight, it doesn’t take a whole lotta heart to appreciate the emotion found on Don’t Call Me Peanut. On the other side, Montauk wins the “best riffage” award, plus it features some of the best use of vocal distortion. Then there’s They Looked Like Strong Hands, a song that slows down the tempo and momentum a bit. It’s slower, less aggressive, but still brings the heat. It’s soaring 6/8 time chorus is where it succeeds. Blame It on Bad Luck starts off in a similar fashion, though with a marching snare drum beat. The slow beat gives way a bluesy verse and chorus that is rather upbeat.

Conclusion

Like most pop punk albums, there is a dip mid album and the first half is way stronger than the second. But Bayside‘s self-titled opus is an incredibly strong one. It’s also a rather refreshing take on the emo-punk/emo-pop genre where there’s no screaming just for the sake of screaming. Bayside, lyrically, is incredibly strong. It’s an album that shines like a diamond amidst a sea of landmines.

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Year 6, Day 34: Taking a Victory Lap with Propagandhi

Year 6, Day 34: Propagandhi – Victory Lap

Track Listing

  1. Victory Lap
  2. Comply/Resist
  3. Cop Just Out of Frame
  4. When All Your Fears Collide
  5. Letters to a Young Anus
  6. Lower Order (A Good Laugh)
  7. Failed Imagineer
  8. Call Before You Dig
  9. Nigredo
  10. In Flagrante Delicito
  11. Tartuffle
  12. Adventures in Zoochosis

About the Album

Victory Lap is the seventh studio album from Canadian punk band, Propagandhi. The album was released on September 29th 2017 through Epitaph Records.

Thoughts on the Album

I am pretty sure that with today’s album, we have reached peak Canadian for the duration of the project. Three (I think) Canadian bands in one calendar week. Propagandhi is today’s featured artist with their seventh studio effort, Victory Lap, which is their first album released in five years. Leave it to a bunch of Canadians to write and produce a set of incredibly socially and politically conscious songs. Here’s the thing with Victory Lap… it takes the melodic hardcore punk that Propagandhi is known for and somehow turns it into metal. Not sure what kind of sorcery they used to make it work, but it’s incredibly good. Punk at it’s most base and primal form is raw, powerful, and rebellious. With the addition of the metal elements (found with guitars, not on the periodic table), Victory Lap breathes life into a genre that’s been kicking around for the last four-plus decades or so.

Propagandhi has always been a cut above the rest in the genre. Maybe it’s because they’re Canadian… I don’t know. Propagandhi is band that when they release an album, they have something to say. It’s giving a savage message that is delivered with such raging energy that this genre is sorely missing at the moment… especially given the global climate. Victory Lap comes at you with both intelligence and honesty. It’s thirty six and a half minutes of guitar riffs that thrash about like sea waves in a typhoon. While there really isn’t any diversion from what’s already been done and the differences here are minute, where it lacks in innovation, it makes up in incredible songwriting. It’s the blistering guitar riffs and breakneck speed of Comply/Resist and the melancholic breather of Nigredo.

What Victory Lap does best and strongest is that it has excellent and incredible control over a wide range of moods and emotions that the album an exceedingly engaging one from start to finish. The musicianship is amazing and dynamic ranging from the grooving gymnastics of the bass to the powerful and earthquaking drums to the blistering guitar riffs and fantastic solos. The instrumentals on this album offer up countless stellar and powerful moments that showcases the band at their peak, even after 31 years in the game. What this album does is offer up Propagandhi at their purest form, albeit with some tapping into some past elements. Comply/Resist is a sharp-edged, propulsive, and explosive tune that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. The same goes for When Your Fears Collide. Tracks like Letters to a Young Anus and Failed Imagineer offer up more hardcore punk rager moments and shows off just versatile and well-schooled this band is.

Conclusion

While Victory Lap is a slightly weighty album that leans on the bands more playful side which occasionally detracts from the lyrics. That’s really my only gripe about this album. It’s the best punk album from 2017, hands down. The vocals are delivered with a sense of unyielding conviction that are still hungry for more. An unyielding conviction that is set on melting your face. The music backing the vocals is damn near flawless and delivered with almost the same conviction and incredibly high standard. Half-Metallica, half-Black Flag (or Dead Kennedys, if you prefer), Propagandhi‘s Victory Lap is punk at it’s best and highest standards. And while Propagandhi might not be able to save the world by their lonesome selves, Victory Lap serves as their call to arm to join the fray and fight back. And yeah sure, it’s alright if you take some breaks to slam dance.

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Year 6, Day 31: Going Heavy on the Killer, Light on the Filler with Sum 41

Year 6, Day 31: Sum 41 – All Killer No Filler

Track Listing

  1. Introduction to Destruction
  2. Nothing on My Back
  3. Never Wake Up
  4. Fat Lip
  5. Rhythms
  6. Motivation
  7. In Too Deep
  8. Summer
  9. Handle This
  10. Crazy Amanda Bunkface
  11. All She’s Got
  12. Heart Attack
  13. Pain for Pleasure

About the Album

All Killer No Filler is the debut studio album from Canadian pop punk band, Sum 41. The album was recorded from September 2000 through March 2001 and released on May 8th 2001 through Island Records. The album peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard 200 and lead single Fat Lip peaked at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as well as number sixty six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Single In Too Deep peaked at number ten on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as well. The album is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

Pop punk is one of the few genres were it’s okay to not be revolutionary or progressive, which I can safely say that Sum 41 is not. Pop punk is genre where playing it safe works about 96.3% of the time. So what makes today’s album from Sum 41, All Killer No Filler so special? Outside of being uniquely Canadian, it’s another pop punk album that defined genre, band, and year. What makes All Killer No Filler special and a cut about the rest, is that Sum 41 created an album that has sound and competent songwriting and instrumental talent. That’s where it separates itself from the rest of the genre. This album represents a maturing band, albeit musically. There’s nothing wrong with playful or sophomoric humor in your songs.

The strong point of this album is that it is incredibly fun to listen to… and when combined with the instrumental performance on the album, makes it even stronger. Right off the bat, the guitar work is phenomenal. You can hear the influence that heavy metal had on this band, but it’s just strong enough to not over power their core style. However, Pain for Pleasure eschews this as an ode to glam metal. A welcome addition for those who might have been getting weary of their previous work.

All Killer No Filler does have things that are rather atypical for a pop punk album… mainly guitar solos and certain riffs. Most guitar solos are uncommon for pop punk and are not standard, factory-issued. In Too Deep has an excellent tapping solo. The solo and the opening riff of In Too Deep are unforgettable and instantly recognizable. This song is the cream of the crop when it comes to the guitar work on the album. What the album also does best if counteracting the weaker tracks with what are now considered to be pop punk classics (Fat LipIn Too Deep). Fat Lip, the lead single, was a massive hit that brought the band into the spotlight. A catchy introduction combined with pseudo-rapping verses that have unforgettable lyrics and an anthemic chorus, you have a classic seemingly genre defining song. This is the song that comes to mind when you think of pop punk.

Conclusion

All Killer No Filler is what comes to mind when you think of pop punk. With it’s atypical and nonstandard guitar riffs and solo, this album was one of the best of 2001. Fat Lip and In Too Deep both received massive airplay on the radio. Backed by infectious hooks and catchy melodic riffs, Sum 41 goes heavy on the killer and light on filler with All Killer No FillerIt’s an album that any casual fan of the pop punk genre can get into.

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Year 6, Day 30: Choosing My Friends Over You with New Found Glory

Year 6, Day 30: New Found Glory – Sticks and Stones

Track Listing

  1. Understatement
  2. My Friends Over You
  3. Sonny
  4. Something I Call Personality
  5. Head on Collision
  6. It’s Been a Summer
  7. Forget My Name
  8. Never Give Up
  9. The Great Houdini
  10. Singled Out
  11. Belated
  12. The Story So Far

About the Album

Sticks and Stones is the third studio album from New Found Glory. The album was recorded during the spring of 2002 and released on June 11th 2002 through MCA Records and Drive-Thru Records. The album peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 and is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America or RIAA. Lead single My Friends Over You peaked at number 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as Billboard’s Modern Rock Songs Chart (Now known as the Alternative Songs Chart).

Thoughts on the Album

Not all of the albums I own are legendary albums where they are well known by people who don’t even listen to the band or the genre. Such is the case with New Found Glory‘s Sticks and Stones. Unless you listen to pop punk, you’ll probably not recognize the band or the album, but you have heard at least one song from this album. And that’s perfect acceptable. That’s one of the reasons I started this project, to introduce people so music that may not have heard before. Anyway, I digress. Today’s album comes from the peak of pop-punk’s popularity in the early-to-mid 2000’s, it’s New Found Glory‘s Sticks and Stones.

Much in the same vein as say, Blink-182 or Simple Plan or even Sum-41New Found Glory‘s style of music is catchy/infectious songs with pop sensibilities but a harder edge. Sticks and Stones is an energetic, youthful, and catchy album that is full of radio friendly pop hooks, infectious harmonies, and catchy choruses. That is the formula for NFG‘s style. You hear it right off the bat with album opener, Understatement. So let’s go down the list here shall we… catchy, sing-a-long chorus? Check. Pop-laden hooks? Check. Energetic song? Oh yeah, check. One of the best songs on the album, Understatement brings the energy right off the bat in a way that’s not an… ( •_•) ( •_•)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■) understatement.

(Yeah, I’m sorry.)

Next comes the pièce de résistance of the album…. My Friends Over You. It has everything, and is arguably one of the top pop-punk and rock songs from the 2000’s. It’s a song that you can find on all those compilation albums (That’s What I Call… or whatever). A song about choosing your friends over your girl/boyfriend, it’s hook filled verses and infectious choruses will instantly grab hold of you and not let go. Now then looking for some emotion? Check out the tribute to lead singer Jordan Pundik‘s late grandfather, Sonny. It’s NFG at their most emotion and I would also say, vulnerable. Head on Collision, the second single from the album is in the same vein. Both songs have lyrics that one can easily connect to and relate to.

Quick hits: Singled Out is arguably the best song off this album. Yes, even better than My Friends Over You. Lyrically it is the best one from this album. It has the best chorus on the album and the bridge is pretty flipping awesome. The Story So Far is a decent/good closer. The song perfectly sums up the album. Containing everything that makes NFG, who they are. Pop-laden hooks, infectious choruses, and great verses. While not in the “Mariano Rivera” level of album closers, it ranks near the middle-top.

Conclusion

Looking for a lighthearted, possibly sophomoric, and heartfelt album? New Found Glory‘s Sticks and Stones is for you. It’s a pop punk album that is light on the filler tracks, which is hard to come by in the genre. While most of the songs do have a lifespan, which is one of the downsides to this album, it still has replay value. Definitely album that defined the mid-2000’s when it came to pop punk and helped cement the genre’s mainstay in music for the rest of the decade.

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Year 6, Day 28: It was The Meanest of Times

Year 6, Day 28: Dropkick Murphys – The Meanest of Times

Track List

  1. Famous for Nothing
  2. God Willing
  3. The State of Massachusetts
  4. Tomorrow’s Industry
  5. Echoes On “A.” Street
  6. Vices and Virtues
  7. Surrender
  8. (F)lannigan’s Ball
  9. I’ll Begin Again
  10. Fairmount Hill
  11. Loyal to No One
  12. Shattered
  13. Rude Awakenings
  14. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
  15. Never Forget

About the Album

The Meanest of Times is the sixth studio album from Boston punk rockers, the Dropkick Murphys. The album was recorded from April through July 2007 and released on September 18th, 2007 through Born & Bred Records. The album is the last to feature guitarist Marc Orrell who left the band following the tour in the support of the album. The album peaked at number 20 on the Billboard 200.

Thoughts on the Album

Top o’ thee morn, afternoon, or even’in lads and lassies! It’s Saint Patrick’s Day here in the United States of America and what better than to share some Irish American Celtic punk rock. I mean playing some Dropkick Murphys on St. Patrick’s Day in America is about as Irish and American as drinking yourself into oblivion as most people get. There’s the thing, The Meanest of Times isn’t even my favorite Dropkick Murphys album, that would be The Warriors Code. But hey, it’s whatever; The Meanest of Times is still a damn fine album if not a wee bit bulky. In an airing of my grievances, The Meanest of Times is basically The Warriors Code or Blackout part deux. But let’s be honest is too much of the same thing from the Dropkick Murphys a bad thing? Nope.

The Meanest of Times is however, the band’s most catchiest and upbeat record in their arsenal. This is because of their use of accelerated paces and uplifting vocals. In traditional DKM fashion, they waste zero time getting the motor running with album opener, Famous for Nothing. A track that slaps you in the face, pulls you in for big kiss, and keeps you wanting more. God Willing continues on this theme, with soaring melodies and an atmosphere of a drunken bar fight on St. Patrick’s Day. There are tracks like these found all over The Meanest of Times with Vices and Virtues being a prime example. It’s line of…

Whiskey, war, suicide, and guns

Is incredibly hard to let go off. These songs stick in your head, like a traditional Irish tune blasting at the pub on March 17th. However it wouldn’t be DKM without throwing some curveballs and boy do they not disappoint. The State of Massachusetts comes fully equipped with a mandolin riff and Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya is a fantastic cover of an old traditional Irish tune, Johnny Comes Marching Home.

What The Meanest of Times does best is , expand on the storytelling. Tracks like (F)lanigan’s Ball and Fairmount Hill are more prime examples of the growth of DKM‘s storytelling abilities. (F)lanigan’s Ball, another traditional Irish song, features guest vocals from Spider Stacy of The Pogues and Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners. Combined with Al Barr and Ken Casey the four vocalists all trade off on sections and parts, retelling the story of a drunken ball. The mandolin makes its return on Fairmount Hill, which is the closest thing to a ballad on this album. The follow up track might just be the band’s best and most innovative song… it’s Loyal to No One. The bagpipes and accordion have some of the best instrumental work to date. You know, just thinking about Loyal to No One on, lets say The Warriors Code, could have elevated that album to classic or legendary level.

Conclusion

No other band brings the passion and emotion of an entire city into their music, quite like the Dropkick Murphys can do. With tracks like Famous for Nothing and God Willing, I can feel raw emotion and passion that Boston has. Tracks like (F)lanigan’s Ball and Fairmount Hill, are takes on old traditional Irish folk tunes, and send reminders of the band’s, the city’s, and many listeners’ heritage as well. While the Celtic and Irish flavor is slightly less pronounced than on other DKM releases, that nevertheless doesn’t take away from the storytelling. While there are heartfelt moments found throughout the album, you can rest assured knowing that this is the Dropkick Murphys we are talking about here. There is enough raw emotions packed into the 45+ minutes of beer-slinging, riotous Celtic punk rock glory. The Meanest of Times is rousing album filled with tracks that’ll fit in nicely with the DKM arsenal of blue collar, gritty, beer soaked, (Celtic) punk rock anthems.

(Side note: (F)lanigan’s Ball is the DKM cover/version of Lanigan’s Ball; while Fairmount Hill is the Boston influenced version of Spancil Hill; Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya is the cover of Johnny Comes Marching Home)

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Year 6, Day 13: Going DECEMBERUNDERGROUND with AFI

Year 6, Day 13: AFI – DECEMBERUNDERGROUND

Track List

  1. Prelude 12/21
  2. Kill Caustic
  3. Miss Murder
  4. Summer Shudder
  5. The Interview
  6. Love Like Winter
  7. Affliction
  8. The Missing Frame
  9. Kiss and Control
  10. The Killing Lights
  11. 37mm
  12. Endlessly, She Said

About the Album

Decemberunderground (stylized as DECEMBERUNDERGROUND) is the seventh studio album from American rock band, AFI. The album was released on June 6th, 2006 though Interscope Records. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The album has been certified both Gold and Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Thoughts on the Album

I stand by this statement: everyone has a scene kid within them that is yearning to be freed and unleashed on the earth. That kid who listens to nothing but heavy metal? Yup. That girl you know who swears by country music? Yup, them too. That one person you know who only listens to hardcore rap? You bet your sweet ass they have a scene kid within them. The top-40 pop princess that sits at your lunch table/across from you at work or school? Oh yeah.

You. Me. Them. Everybody.

That said, if I would’ve had the taste I had in music that I do now, I would’ve told my 2006, junior in high school self, to let the scene kid free. Today’s album falls firmly in that realm of the scene. AFI has been blurring the lines between alternative rock, hardcore punk, and pop punk for almost two decades now. 2006’s DECEMBERUNDERGROUND (you read that right, no spaces there) is arguably the most accessible punk album ever made to date? How can I say that? It debuted at number one and is certified platinum. DECEMBERUNDERGROUND is maintains a hardcore edge while being 100% radio friendly for the most part.

DECEMBERUNDERGROUND follows up on the incredibly successful Sing the Sorrow and builds on it with more cleverness and power. There’s more intricate arrangements, better sound effects and production, as well as an overall incredible sonic landscape. It’s definitely an album that while listening you’ll be transported into the dead of winter despite the album being released during the summer. AFI continues to polish their brand of west coast hardcore punk into something that almost every fan of the band, both old and new, as well as new listeners can pick up and enjoy. That said, while the you can hear their transition from previous releases, there are still tracks on this album that bring that hardcore punch many expect.

This album opens with the soft and gloomy, Prelude 12/21, which sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album. It opens rather soft and dainty before the pounding drums enter, building a rising crescendo as it prepares the listener for what is to come. The vocal work on this track from frontman Davey Havok is incredibly on point and is the focus of the track, along with the drum work. This prelude (sorry), leads right into Kill Caustic, arguably the heaviest and loudest track on the album as it channels the band’s hardcore punk roots. Going from something so rhythmic as Prelude 12/21 to something loud, heavy, and in-your-face as Kill Caustic is jarring and unexpected. But then again, nothing is expected anymore except Brandon Manning getting more playing time over Travis Sanheim on the Philadelphia Flyers and the Spanish Inquisition. Kill Caustic just gets right down to business with a frantic, frenzied, and frenetic verse. The catchy chorus makes me think it was pulled right off a pop-punk album of the same decade.

But let’s talk about Miss Murder. She’s a beaut, ain’t she? Gorgeous. But don’t get too close, or, you know. Jokes aside, Miss Murder is an incredibly infectious track. Featured in pretty much EVERY music rhythm video game of the mid-to-late 2000’s, Miss Murder has pretty much everything that previous hit Girl’s Not Grey has and more. Infectious chorus? Check. Gorgeous backing gang vocals? Check. A drum and rhythm section that paces the song? Check. A chorus that you can chant along to? Oh yeah, check. An excellent song, not unlike any AFI song previously released.

Let’s talk about two more tracks before we close this one out. My favorite track from this album has to be Summer Shudder, a more electronic rock punk track (if that’s even possible). A heavily melodic track that focuses less on the guitar (sans an incredibly pre-verse) and more on the drums, bass, and synth. A mid-tempo rocker that features some incredible hooks. Love Like Winter, is a track that builds up before it explodes with an infectious and hook laden pop-punk(esque) chorus. A phenomenal track that focuses again, less about the guitars and more on the synth and rhythm section.

Conclusion

2006 was, I think a pretty good year for albums. AFI‘s DECEMBERUNDERGROUND was one of them. The production is slick and smooth. The songwriting is incredible. The one pretty decent sized downside is that some of the tracks do sound like filler tracks. If you took hardcore punk, goth/emo, and modern alternative electronic elements and mashed them together into one, this is what the product would be. However, one of the key things here is, is that it still maintains AFI‘s sound and style. Many bands fail at transitioning to different styles and sounds, but AFI didn’t with DECEMBERUNDERGROUND. In fact, the succeeded. DECEMBERUNDERGROUND is one of the best albums of the mid-00’s. Let your inner scene kid free and let them roam.

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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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