Hostage Calm- “Your Head/Your Heart”

Hostage Calm have gone through quite an interesting evolution over the course of their first three albums, transitioning from a straight up melodic hardcore/punk band into one with more of a penchant for power pop. If this new single, “Your Head/Your Heart” is any indication, their upcoming album, “Die On Stage” should solidify their status as a strong power pop band.

Given that the track sounds a bit like a Beatlesque/Elvis Costello-style punk hybrid song, it’s especially appropriate that the band chose to pay tribute to the Fab Four with the video. Stream it below and check out the artwork and tracklist from “Die On Stage” below, courtesy of A.V. Club. The album will be released via Run For Cover Records on September 16.

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Die On Stage

1. When You Know
2. A Thousand Miles Away From Here
3. Love Against!
4. Someone Else
5. Fallen Angel
6. Your Head / Your Heart
7. Raised
8. 12/31
9. Darling You
10. Past Ideas Of The Future

Saint Pepsi “Unhappy” (American Football Remix)

This is one of the more intriguing and unique remixes I’ve heard in a while. It takes American Football’s “The Summer Ends,” puts it on speed, distorts the vocals, and ties it all together with a bright, wistful, trappy beat that lends an oddly blissful, otherworldly feeling to the forlorn tale of departure and endings that colors the original song.

It’s interesting that Saint Pepsi chose to call his remix “Unhappy” because, while American Football’s lyrics and delivery were definitely meant to convey a certain sadness, this remix puts me on the complete opposite end of the emotional spectrum. And that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s a bold move to completely flip a song in this way, but Saint Pepsi pulls it off pretty powerfully, and I think the members of American Football would agree.

Taking the “guilt” out of “guilty pleasures”

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What do All Time Low, Yellowcard, Ke$ha, Chingy, and Taylor Swift all have in common? Before you start formulating a bunch of judgy, sarcarstic answers, I’ll just go ahead and say that they’re all artists I’ve typically considered to be “guilty pleasures,” a term I’ve recently begun to deconstruct and reevaluate. What leads us to define a band or an artist as a “guilty pleasure,” and why do we attach a sense of guilt to music that we sincerely enjoy? As someone with an especially eclectic taste in music, I’ve come to accept that my preferences encompass everything from emo, post-hardcore, and indie-folk, to hip hop one hit wonders and even a few irresistibly catchy pop songs that eventually climb their way into the iTunes top 10. And while I wouldn’t have included Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz” on my “Top 10 Albums of 2013” list, I don’t feel guilty about having enjoyed listening to the entire album multiple times when it came out last fall.

We all have songs in our iTunes or Spotify libraries that we feel slightly embarrassed about, just as we all own music that we consider a little more “cutting edge,” which gives us a certain “indie cred” or makes us feel as though we have more refined tastes. This same description could also be applied to our Netflix queues or our bookshelves; most of us enjoy supplementing our typical cinematic and literary diets with at least a few rom-coms and beach books. Our tastes and desires are often unpredictable; a song will catch our ear or a movie or book will appeal to our senses “just because,” and it’s a bit ludicrous that we feel the need to justify our reasons for liking it and attach so much meaning to something that gives us a certain pleasure.

I certainly have different reasons for liking bands such as The Smiths or From Indian Lakes as compared to bands like All Time Low or New Found Glory. The former are bands I appreciate for their strong musicianship, unique songwriting and lyrical depth, whereas the latter are bands that feel fun and carefree to listen to and usually find their way onto my running or road trip playlists. It wouldn’t feel fair for me to say that From Indian Lakes are a “better” or “more talented” band than All Time Low; they’re just different bands who appeal to different audiences and sensibilities. I’ll admit that the more nuanced, intricately constructed songs that From Indian Lakes write tend to appeal more to my general tastes and senses, but I’ll also admit that All Time Low’s tightly crafted melodies and soaring choruses are total ear candy to me, and I admire the way in which they’re able to deliver such consistently strong, catchy pop punk songs.

I derive a great deal pleasure from listening to pop punk bands and pop singers, and even though I have friends and colleagues who give me shit for listening to them, I don’t attach any guilt or shame to these pleasures. I probably listen to “poppy” bands and artists just as much as I listen to artists in the “indie rock/emo/post hardcore” vein, and I don’t see one grouping of artists as “less than” the other. Rather, I feel like both groups complement each other and lend a nice sense of balance to my listening habits. I mean, I gotta have a little Miley alongside my Morrissey…

Maybe we should consider replacing the term “guilty pleasure” with “just for fun.” It still provides an accurate description of bands and artists who you might not take too seriously or whose lyrics don’t necessarily make you pause and reflect, but it sounds way more positive and accepting. If we reframe our language in this way, it might free us up from feeling that silly sort of guilt and embarrassment that sometimes comes with admitting to your friends that you’re kind of a huge Britney fan (even though you mostly listen to indie rock…) We all have a wide array of preferences and things that appeal to our senses, and sometimes they have no real rhyme or reason. So let’s embrace them all, whether we think they serve to enhance our intellectual prowess or whether they’re “just for fun.”

“The Summer So Far”

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Here’s a little sampling of some of the best music that’s been released within the past couple of months (all the best stuff that’s actually available to stream on spotify, to be exact). It spans several different genres and it’s a little over an hour long.

Highlights include a new track by Odesza; a song from former Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly’s new project, No Devotion; a Weezer cover by You Blew It!; an acoustic song by Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years from his new side project, Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties; and the best song of the summer so far (in my opinion) “Sleeping Limbs” by From Indian Lakes.

Pentimento- Acoustic Sessions

Pentimento are an extremely underrated band who don’t quite seem to “fit in” to either the current pop punk or “emo ” scene, and given my affinity for bands who defy genres, it makes sense that I’ve really grown to love them. Their typically gritty, but still rather poppy and anthemic sound has always made me think of bands like Taking Back Sunday and Brand New. Their songs also resonate especially well as acoustic versions, and frontman Jeramiah Pauly’s vocals sound so sweet and earnest in this particular session.

They just recorded three acoustic songs for The Garden Statement during their current co-headlining tour with Have Mercy and Gates, which you can listen to below.

If you like them, check out the acoustic cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” that Jeramiah recorded this spring.

Mansions On The Moon- “Don’t Tell”

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I’ve been a huge fan of Mansions On The Moon since they released their debut EP, “Lightyears” in 2012, and I’m really excited that they’re finally about to release their first full length album. “Don’t Tell,” the album’s lead single, is the exactly kind of dreamy dance-pop that will win over fans of more popular indiepop acts such as Passion Pit, Phoenix, and Empire Of The Sun. It’s laden with fun, infectious beats and hooks that give the song a lighthearted, summery feel. But it’s the band’s slick production and spirited, harmonic vocals that set this song apart from the sea of forgettable indiepop that’s floating around out there.

The song is available as a free download through the band’s website, http://mansionsonthemoon.com, and you can get the album a week before its release date of 10/22 by pre-ordering it through Pledge Music.

Chet Faker & GoldLink- “On You”

Chet Faker and GoldLink teamed up as part of a recording series by Yours Truly and Adidas called #songsfromscratch. As the name implies, the series pairs two artists, who collaborate on and record a new track from scratch.

“On You,” the end result of this particular collaboration, is an interesting hybrid of soulful electronica and hip hop that seamlessly blends Faker’s falsetto with GoldLink’s freestyle flows.

Stream it below.