Gates- “Not My Blood”

Gates are one of few bands that seamlessly blend indie rock, post-rock, and emo to create a unique and captivating sound that makes me feel as though I’m falling in love with music for the first time, all over again. The only other bands who evoke a similar feeling in me are the now defunct Moving Mountains; one of my all time favorites, The Appleseed Cast; and one of my more recently appointed favorites, From Indian Lakes.

Much like the trajectory of Moving Mountains’ catalog, it has been fascinating to watch Gates progress from the diamond in the rough sound of their debut EP The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home to the more finely tuned, intricate stylings and impressive production that made their follow up EP You Are All You Have Left To Fear so stunning. If the lead single, “Not My Blood” is any indication, I’m sure that their upcoming LP Bloom & Breathe will build upon its predecessor’s blueprint to produce an even more spectacularly detailed, cohesive sound. The guitar work calls to mind some of Explosions In The Sky’s most poignant moments, and Kevin Dye’s well-honed vocals have the same kind of almost crystalline, yet still slightly gritty beauty and strong emotional impact as Gregory Dunn of Moving Mountains.

Bands like Gates are a rare find, and their music certainly deserves and will command your full attention. Sit and listen to “Not My Blood” and be prepared for an especially moving experience that might alter the way you think about rock music in general, regardless of the somewhat meaningless genres and sub genres we can be so eager to impose on bands who don’t quite fit the mold.

Stream the song below and pre-order the album here.

Sir Sly cover Arcade Fire’s “Afterlife”

Sir Sly have been on my radar since they covered Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” earlier this year. Since then, they’ve released an excellent single, the title track from their upcoming album “You Haunt Me” (out 9/16 and now streaming in full on their website). They recently put out a cover of Arcade Fire’s “Afterlife,” and I have to say I enjoy it more than the original. The darkly ambient, moody electronic backdrop, coupled with Landon Jacobs’ sultry, wide-ranging, emotive vocals create a well-orchestrated, uniquely imagined cover that will entice listeners to seek out more music from this up-and-coming indie/electro-pop band.

Coheed And Cambria Cover Jimmy Eat World’s “A Praise Chorus”

Coheed and Cambria did a live cover of “A Praise Chorus” from Jimmy Eat World’s 2001 album Bleed American, reinventing the song as a slower, acoustic ballad that still manages to pack a pretty powerful punch. Although this cover is closer in sound to the softer tracks on Bleed American, such as “Cautioners,” Claudio Sanchez’s signature vocals add an exciting dramatic flair and a heightened sense of vulnerability and yearning to the more chilled out, gently paced instrumentation.

Light Years- “Temporary” EP

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What can I say about Light Years that I haven’t already said? Their incredibly thoughtful, mature songwriting skills and strong musicianship put a whole new spin on the often scorned, misunderstood genre known as “pop punk.” And with their new EP Temporary, the band further prove that they can deliver tightly crafted melodies and introspective lyrics that make them memorable and outstanding in a scene filled with younger, more run-of-the-mill bands.

If you grew up on bands like Blink-182 and are looking for more nuanced, but still anthemic, pop-punk-inspired music that will resonate more strongly with twenty-somethings as opposed to teens, look no further than Light Years.

You can stream Temporary via the link below, but be sure to purchase the actual album here and support this underrated and extremely talented band. Also, catch them on tour this fall with Turnover and Malfunction.

http://www.purevolume.com/news/PREMIERE-Stream-Light-Years-Temporary-EP

Saves The Day and Say Anything cover each other

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Saves The Day and Say Anything, who will embark on a tour in November to celebrate the respective 15th and 10th anniversaries of (arguably) their most popular albums, recorded two acoustic covers of each other’s songs. See the link below to stream Saves The Day covering “Belt” and Say Anything covering “You Vandal,” and also to view tour dates. The two bands will also be supported by Reggie and The Full Effect on tour.

http://savestheday.com/throughbeingcool2014

Flume- “Insane” ft. Moon Holiday (Sebastian Carter Edition)

“Insane” is one of my favorite tracks by Flume, and Seabstian Carter has put out some great remixes this year, so I was excited to see him release this one. It’s a subtle, but very skillfully produced remix; the general vibe is more along the lines of chill/downtempo house, and the tempo is slightly faster than the original. The gently pulsating beats manage to be both hypnotically enticing and a little relaxing at the same time.

Stream it below, and if you like what you hear, it’s available as a free download via a link on the Soundcloud page.

Jaymes Young- “Come Back For Me”

Jaymes Young is a master of the brooding, sultry, slow burning brand of electronic indiepop that has grown in popularity with the rise of artists such as Mikky Ekko and Ellie Goulding. His latest song, “Come Back For Me,” off his upcoming EP, Habits of My Heart is decidedly darker and more downtempo than the title track, but just as catchy and intriguing. His seductive croon is backed by a chill, steadily driving set of simple beats that entice the listener with a haunting echo. Young is definitely an artist to watch as the rest of 2014 plays out. I’m hoping he will finally give us a full album in 2015.

Ace Enders previews new song, “Undecided”

Ace Enders released another video of a new song from his “voice memo sessions” called “Undecided,” and based on this and his previously released song from these sessions, I think Ace’s next album might be his strongest body of work to date. I’m not sure whether these sessions will lead to another “I Can Make A Mess” album or whether he’ll record them under the “Ace Enders and A Million Little Pieces” moniker. I would guess the latter, as this song in particular is pretty similar in sound to some of the songs on his 2009 AMLP album When I Hit The Ground. If you loved The Early November’s most recent album In Currents, you’ll most likely love this.

Read what Ace Enders had to say about these sessions and stream “Undecided” below.

a few months back i was mixing a record for another band. while each track was bouncing down (roughly 3-4 minuets each) i wrote 8 songs in that time, playing and singing the first thing that came into my mind. i recorded each as a voice memo in that moment and then built the song around that. so no metronome and very little edits. just a cracky voice memo that you can hear all over the album. thankfully trevor from el.de.te was there the whole time to document it.. here is a small piece of it!!”

Ryan Adams (Self-Titled) album review

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One never knows quite what to expect from a new Ryan Adams album. He has definitely thrown his fair share of curveballs throughout his prolific career, from 2003’s all-out rock album, the aptly titled Rock N Roll, to a trilogy of three very different albums all released within months of each other in 2005, and most recently, a more acoustic-based return to form with 2011’s Ashes And Fire. Adams’ new self-titled LP picks up where Ashes and Fire left off, and builds on his newfound sense of clarity and cohesion, drawing upon elements of the sounds and styles he so beautifully crafted on several of his previous albums.

While the album’s overarching style is most similar to the early-mid 2000’s portion of his catalog- one can definitely hear pieces of Demolition, Love Is Hell, and Cold Roses in much of the composition and delivery- it seems more to be the product of an artist who, with his refreshed perspective in the wake of some transformative life experiences, has taken the best elements of his varied body of work and built upon them quite skillfully and impressively. Several of the songs, most notably “Trouble” and “Gimme Something Good”, rock out with all the glory of the best moments on Demolition and Rock N Roll, while others like “Am I Safe?” and “Stay With Me” recall the lush, sprawling qualities that made Cold Roses such a standout album. One can also hear hints of his seminal solo debut Heartbreaker in what is perhaps the album’s strongest track, “My Wrecking Ball.” And it seems that Adams has laced this somewhat retrospective journey through the strongest phases of his multifaceted catalog with a common unifying thread of the same poppy-yet-melancholic quality that made Love Is Hell such a standout body of work. But rather than simply being a forced attempt to recapture his glory days, this collection of songs conveys a more refined, carefully honed version of the genre-bending genius that has finally emerged after weathering a long storm of substance abuse, health problems, and other personal demons.

What’s especially impressive about this latest album that has been missing from his work for quite some time is a true sense of cohesion and flow from beginning to end. Instead of being patched together unevenly with parts that don’t quite fit within the whole, this piece of art has been thoughtfully sketched out and detailed to create harmony, complements, and beautiful contrasts among its many elements. Now that Adams has stepped back from the insanely prolific, drug-fueled writing and recording habits he came to be known for a decade ago, he has truly hit his stride and is now able to create albums that feel fully formed, intelligently designed, and altogether both fascinating and pleasant to listen to.

Desert Island Albums

Here are the first couple of entries in Jukebox Breakdown’s first collective project. It asks music aficionados to list their five essential “desert island albums,” explain why they chose each album, and/or speak about its personal significance and the impact it has had on their lives.

If this project sparks your interest and you’d like to participate/submit a list, feel free to send it to michaelbmann@gmail.com.

Michael Mann

It’s always hard to choose just 5 albums that you would take with you if you somehow managed to become stranded on that proverbial desert island, especially when you’re a huge music geek like me. So I thought long and hard about these selections, making lists and crossing things out until I finally came up with a near perfect mix of albums that have made a lasting impression on me over the years and are varied enough to ensure that I’d never be bored or overwhelmed by just one musical style or set of emotions while essentially listening to them on repeat.

1.) Saves The Day- Stay What You Are

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Saves The Day are my all time favorite band, and this 2001 release is arguably my favorite album of theirs. I was going to go with 2006’s Sound The Alarm, but its overarchingly dark, bleak themes and wrenchingly personal, intense lyrics might drive me to drown myself in the ocean, were I to actually listen to this on the island several times a week. So I went with something just a little more lighthearted. Stay What You Are is my quintessential “high school anthem” type of album, but it’s one that has stood the test of time and resonated with me into adulthood. Its songs alternately make me want to cry into my pillow, write teenage poetry in my journal, go for a drive with the windows down and sunroof open while singing along at the top of my lungs, jump around and do handstands in my kitchen, and sprint that extra quarter mile just when I thought I had nothing left to give. All in all, it’s a fantastic 33 minute voyage through an entire spectrum of sounds and emotions that never ceases to amaze me and most certainly never gets old.

2.) Moving Mountains- Waves

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With this sophomore album, Moving Mountains evolved beyond their decidedly post-rock foundations to create a more driving, vocally-focused sound that incorporates the sweeping, majestic post-hardcore stylings of bands like Thrice and The Appleseed Cast. Waves is a dynamic, emotionally searing album that always cuts me to the core with its downcast, heart wrenching anthems, impressively affective vocals, and flawless instrumentation. Give it just one listen and you’ll realize that the title could not be more appropriate or fitting; experiencing the album in full is much like riding a series of waves, some are calming and gentle, others have a stronger impact, suddenly cascading in an intense, almost violent rush. Be sure to seek out the deluxe version of the album, which, with its beautifully stripped down alternate versions of “Furnace Woods” and “Tired Tiger,” provides an even more sublime, poignant closing chapter to this breathtaking work of art.

3.) The Early November- The Mother, The Mechanic, and The Path

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This triple LP concept album was a huge stylistic leap for The Early November, as it saw the band incorporating elements of different genres, such as folk, alt-country, and 90’s style pop-rock into their signature energetic, poppy emo rock style. They managed to pull off this more nuanced, varied sound, while also ambitiously mapping out a well crafted lyrical journey of a boy at odds with his domineering father, who runs away from home, but despite his best intentions to transcend his family, ends up repeating the same mistakes his father made when he has a child of his own. It’s a pretty ambitious project for a young band, and while it may not have been a huge commercial success and led to the band taking a long hiatus the following year, it’s a record that I can always depend upon to satiate my oftentimes odd, eclectic musical appetite.

While I prefer to listen to the album in full (but admittedly rarely make it to the third LP, The Path. I find its intriguing, but perhaps overambitious mix of spoken word dialogue and short songs to be somewhat jarring), I’ll sometimes put on The Mother (LP 2) when I’m in the mood for mostly acoustic based folk/rock that’s in turns introspective, meandering, and sprawling. Or I’ll just rock out to the tightly constructed mix of emo rock and power pop that drives the first LP, The Mechanic, when I’m in a more upbeat mood. The first two LPs have been my soundtrack to many road trips and lazy Sundays, and I’m sure that their compelling stories, catchy melodies, and the range of emotion and honesty contained in frontman Ace Enders’ voice would keep me satisfied and happy on a desert island.

4.) Thursday- War All The Time

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I don’t think I will ever come across another band as powerful, visceral, or as influential in my life as Thursday. I found them at a pivotal time in my late teens as they rose to popularity through word of mouth and message boards, and while their seminal debut LP, Full Collapse is often hailed as their best work and considered a favorite by many fans, it’s their sophomore release, War All The Time, that has stood the test of time for me in a more poignant way. The instrumentation is carefully crafted and refined, but messy and explosive at the same time, and the songwriting is deeply rooted in darkness and tragedy, born not just from personal experiences, but from a collective consciousness and political landscape that had been crying out in anguish at the time of the album’s 2003 release. Each song encapsulates emotions, ideas, and images that span a spectrum of darkness, running from cynical and scathing to despondent and desolate, with a glimmer of hope that you’ll hear if you listen intently enough. War All The Time is an album that’s best experienced alone in a dark room or during a late night drive. So open up your senses, turn up the volume, and be prepared to feel many things as you listen from start to finish.

5.) Owen- (Self-Titled)

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Owen is an artist who more people need to know about. The songs he writes are sincere, expressive, conversational glimpses into his easily relatable inner landscape and his experiences with love, loss, and personal growth. While he has certainly matured quite a bit as a musician and as a lyricist over the years, I’ve always loved his self-titled debut album the best. It’s a simple, but lushly orchestrated, acoustic experience unlike anything else I’ve heard. The dreamlike beauty contained within its nine songs is unparalleled, and it has remained in heavy rotation since I borrowed and burned the CD from an older neighborhood friend who exposed me to many a new band during my teenage years. Owen is one of my go-to albums for soothing, late night listening, and it has been a constant companion, following me from place to place through the last several years of my life, from late nights spent writing poems or last minute papers in high school to jobs I’ve had at cafes and bookstores, and most recently, to the yoga classes I teach, where he is usually on the soundtrack. The accessibility and mass appeal of the album have always pleasantly surprised me; I got frequent questions about the music I was playing when this album served as the background music in the cafes and bookstores where I worked, and my yoga students of all ages will comment on how they love the playlist when it’s Owen-themed. Also, my mom, who hardly ever enjoyed, much less tolerated, the music I played around the house throughout my teenage years and beyond, kind of liked this album, which is really saying something. Owen is an album so full of deep, personal connections and memories for me; it will always occupy a prominent place on my record shelf, and its songs will follow me well into my later adult years.

Linda Spolidoro

If you have ever been to a Spolidoro family gathering and stayed past midnight, then you know that inevitably the question will be raised “If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 albums would you choose?”

I have participated in this well-worn experience with my brothers and sisters dozens of times over the years and yet everyone still loves to pick, choose, replace, refine, and defend their albums. Scoffing at and arguing about other people’s selections is permitted.

While my choices have changed over the years (with some perennial favorites), my current list of albums are as follows:

1. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds- Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus
2. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds- Let Love In
3. Nina Simone- The Blues
4. The Beatles- The White Album
5. Elliot Smith- Figure 8 or Either/Or (I know I have to decide)

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The number 5 spot is always the hardest and is the album most in danger of being replaced…this is usually the time my brother suggests we come up with an ‘honorable mention” category, because it is almost unbearable to think about the possibility of never hearing all the great music that is out there ever again. I come from a family of musicians and music lovers so this is serious business!

Nick Cave is my musical, lyrical, satirical, linguistic, and writing hero and if you haven’t heard him, I would suggest you start with ‘Henry’s Dream” or “Tender Prey”. He can be a bit of an acquired taste and I find that it is the literary sorts with a penchant for melancholia who seem to like him.

As for Nina Simone, she has a voice and a soul that reaches directly into my chest. Listening to Nina is like a fearless punch to the heart.

You could lose your Spolidoro membership card if you were to omit a Beatles album from your list as it is pretty much mandatory in the Spolidoro family, and which Beatles album to chose is almost it’s own category. My brother Kevin can play a number of Beatles albums in their entirety, first chord to last, on his guitar and has done so on many occasions while the rest of us sing along. Any outsider that has been lucky enough (or unlucky enough, as the case may be), to be present during one of these marathon sing-alongs will attest to the serious nature that loving The Beatles is to our family. It is just a given.

My dear, sweet, depressive, Elliot Smith finds himself in the revolving number 5 spot, previously held by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, Nellie McKay, Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake…and so many other honorable mentions. He is in danger of falling off the list the next time I find myself at a family party, late at night, glass of wine in hand and a guitar at the ready when the inevitable happens…

What would be your 5?