Album Review: Weezer- “Everything Will Be Alright In The End”


It’s been 20 years since Rivers Cuomo first sang about his sweater coming undone and his resemblance to Buddy Holly, and in that time he and his bandmates have gone through quite a fascinating and tumultuous ride. From Cuomo’s period of depression following the band’s critically panned but cult favorite sophomore release Pinkerton, to two other self-titled albums commonly referred to by their color that never quite lived up to the legendary “Blue Album,” to the suspected drug overdose-induced death of former bassist Mikey Welsh in 2011, Weezer have traveled a pretty unpredictable path full of various obstacles and detours. And it seems as though 20 years after releasing one of the most iconic albums of the 90’s, they’ve almost come full circle, proving that all their missteps and moments of bleakness have made them an even stronger band, capable of not only returning to their roots and reconnecting with the fans they may have alienated along the way, but also finding a refreshed sense of vulnerability and wit that makes this collection of 13 new songs more impactful and enjoyable than just about anything they’ve released since their mid-90’s heyday.

While it would be futile and rather unfair to try to compare the new album to Pinkerton or The Blue or Green Albums, Everything Will Be Alright In The End is full of the big rock anthems and fun, catchy power pop that made the band’s first three releases such fan favorites. The opening track, “Aint Got Nobody,” comes in with the same bold, poppy melodies, killer riffs and playful guitar solos that fans fell in love with years ago on tracks like “Say It Ain’t So,” “Why Bother,” and even “Hash Pipe.” The following track, “Back To The Shack,” is an insanely catchy, power pop anthem with a simple, repetitive chorus that reveals Cuomo’s witty insights into his tortured relationship with his fans and offers them a “sorry not sorry” sort of apology for the risks he and his band have taken throughout the last decade.

Weezer continue to explore their troubled relationship with fans in tracks such as “Eulogy For A Rock Band,” which takes the perspective of a disenfranchised fan base who are mourning the long lost glory days of their heroes (Goodbye heroes, you had a good run/Fifteen years of ruling the planet/But now your light’s fading), and the geeky humor of “The British Are Coming,” in which Cuomo plays the role of Paul Revere to his “punk ass redcoat” fans “telling him what to do and where to go.” This group of songs that examines stardom and fandom truly reaches its pinnacle with “I’ve Had It Up To Here,” which finds Cuomo venting to his fickle audience, “I tried to give my best to you/But you plugged up your ears/And now I just can’t take no more/I’ve had it up to here,” and channeling his inner Freddy Mercury with a gloriously dramatic bridge, singing, “Oh, if you think I need approval/From the faceless throng/That’s where you’re wrong.”

Cuomo’s relationship with listeners is not the only one he attempts to lyrically amend; he devotes another group of songs on to his Pentecostal minister father, who recently came back into his life after years of estrangement. With “Foolish Father,” Cuomo seems to absolve the sins of his father and free himself from resentment, as he sings, “Forgive your foolish father/He did the best that he could do,” and is backed by a triumphant chorus who close the song with a reassuring refrain that bears the album’s title, “Everything will be alright in the end.” Yet another group of songs explores his relationship with women, the strongest of these being “Go Away,” an especially poppy and gently rocking duet with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast and “Cleopatra,” an all out rock anthem in which he declares his freedom from a codependent relationship, while still wishing his lover the best.

Everything Will Be Alright In The End certainly does its best to make amends on many levels and to reunite an iconic, influential and still very relevant band with fans they may have abandoned along their somewhat strange, divisive journey through the 2000’s. It seems Cuomo & co. have finally put the many experimentations and disappointments of their career behind them in order to return to what they do best: delivering massive, catchy rock anthems laced with just the right amount of ironic humor and introspection that will take listeners right “Back To The Shack” with them.

Album Review: From Indian Lakes- “Absent Sounds”


It must have seemed like quite a daunting task to create a worthy follow up to their stunning 2012 album Able Bodies, but From Indian Lakes have managed to channel that album’s majestic beauty and nuanced artistry into an equally enthralling new body of work, while also pushing their creative boundaries to move their songwriting into exciting new realms of melodic and lyrical possibilities.

Absent Sounds finds the band expanding even further upon the masterful songwriting and musicianship that made Able Bodies such an impactful, artfully constructed album. The ten tracks on this new LP seamlessly weave together a wide range of dynamics, melodies and moods, creating a compelling listening experience in which new details and treasures are unearthed each time. The title seems somewhat misleading, as nothing at all appears to be “absent” from this collection of songs. Each sound, each lyric, each tiny, seemingly inconsequential detail is impeccably placed and well timed so that nothing feels lacking or lost.

The album moves along with a natural ebb and flow that gives it an almost prefect sense of balance, timing, and structure. Quieter songs transition quite gracefully into ones marked by more layered melodies and heavier sounds so that nothing at all feels choppy or out of sync. The gently hypnotic pulsations and sweetly pining vocals of the opening track, “Come In This Light,” give way to the darker marching beats and more complex structures of “Label This Love” and “Breathe, Desperately” in a way that feels fluid and logical. Amid the emotional, lyrical, and melodic intensities that make the album flourish, the band comes up for air in the form of some more simple melodies and quiet moments with songs like the poignant, acoustic based “Runner,” and the lush, sparkling pop sensibilities of “Am I Alive” and “Awful Things.” It’s moments like these that keep the album afloat and prevent it from drowning too deeply in its own darkness and dramatic intensity.

While it’s especially challenging to nominate the best tracks from such a strong, cohesive body of work, two standout singles, “Ghost” and “Sleeping Limbs” are arguably the pinnacles of the album. The former is a powerfully emotive confessional strengthened by the interplay between soaring, dramatic choruses and more gentle, subdued verses, artfully strung together with touches of jingle bells and keyboards. In some ways it recalls early-mid ‘00s Death Cab For Cutie. The latter begins as a chill, reflective, gently flowing track that soon becomes beautifully draped in layers of shimmering guitars tempered with just the right amount of dissonance and lyrical darkness. Both tracks accent elegantly decorated, gently driving melodies with majestically swelling crescendos that showcase lead singer Joey Vannucchi’s unparalleled vocal prowess.

From Indian Lakes are a shining example of a band who continue to refine their craft and develop their style in the most delightful of ways. I could list so many other reasons as to why Absent Sounds is one of the best albums of 2014, but you should probably just sit down, listen to it from start to finish, and let its treasure trove of sounds and surprises enfold you.

Sorority Noise- “Everyday” (Buddy Holly cover)


This Buddy Holly cover may start out in a rather innocuous, sleepy way, but just past the one minute mark, something magical happens. The band sets forth a joyously noisy burst of energy and unleashes a killer guitar solo that sets the song on fire. It culminates in a rousing, full band chorus of drunkenly happy voices that should definitely bring at least the hint of a smile to your face.

Sorority Noise will include this cover on their upcoming split with Radiator Hospital, which comes out on Sept. 30 via Soft Speak Records. All proceeds from the split will go to V-Day, an organization that works to end violence against women. You can pre-order the split here and stream the Buddy Holly cover via Absolute Punk.

From Indian Lakes- Runner

For the fourth single off their upcoming album Absent Sounds, From Indian Lakes have decided to show us their softer, more sparse, acoustic side. This new track, “Runner” recalls the best moments on the band’s 2011 Acoustic EP, sounding a bit like “The Bells,” but slightly more uptempo and sonically adventurous. While the band’s musical style is so malleable and fluid, with Joey Vannucchi’s voice adapting beautifully to just about any instrumental backdrop, their forays into more subtle acoustic territory find these guys at their most sublime. With “Runner,” we are treated not only to the sweeter, more gentle side of Vannucchi’s voice, but also to a chill, meandering electric guitar solo that brings the song to a wonderfully hypnotic finale.

Stream the song below and order Absent sounds here before its 10/7 release date.

Young Statues- Run The River Dry


This new single from Young Statues’ upcoming album The Flatlands Are Your Friend will lure you in with its enchantingly dark, driving beat and hazy washes of reverberating guitars and synths. The slightly downcast but altogether compelling vocals cut through the emotionally dense landscape of the song with a refreshing, but subtle sharpness.

The album will be released on 10/21 via Run For Cover Records, and you can pre-order it here. Fans of The American Scene, Mansions, Seahaven, and even Arcade Fire will definitely want to check it out.

You can stream “Run The River Dry” here via Stereogum.

From Indian Lakes- “Breathe, Desperately”

Some songs are so beautifully and intricately constructed that it becomes especially difficult to try to capture their essence and power in words. Such is the case with many songs by From Indian Lakes, who are admittedly one of my favorite bands to emerge from this current decade. Their latest song, “Breathe, Desperately,” the third single from their upcoming album Absent Sounds, is a stunning hybrid of sounds and emotions, and it moves along with an almost majestic turbulence. The bursts and rushes of rhythm that accent the song with a heightened sense of urgency and drama are the perfect vehicle to carry Joey Vanucchi’s triumphantly emotive vocals through this mesmerizing sonic landscape.

So without further ado, listen, repeat, and then pre-order Absent Sounds here. The album comes out 10/7 and a fall tour to support Relient K will follow soon after.

“Something To Write Home About” still hits “Close to Home” after 15 years


As soon as the churning cavalcade of guitars and synths that so grandiosely kicks “Holiday” right into full gear hit my headphones, I knew what I wanted for Christmas that year: a Moog synthesizer. Sadly, that wish went unfulfilled, as did my dream of becoming a synth player in a super cool band and getting signed to Vagrant Records. But for a brief moment, when I was finally able to acquire a used synth on eBay a few years later, I turned some random knobs, hit some keys, and could almost hear Matt Pryor encouraging me along as I used my rudimentary knowledge of the piano to clumsily play some of the synthesized notes on my favorite tracks from an album that had made a tremendous impact on me during my teenage years.

Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids has definitely stood the test of time in terms of albums from emo’s “second wave” in the late 90’s, and it’s one of few albums from that era and scene that I still listen to with any sort of regularity (The others that come to mind right away are Through Being Cool by Saves The Day and If It Weren’t For Venetian Blinds… by Piebald). Bookended by the punchy, promising, but still rough-around-the-edges Four Minute Mile and the sadly misunderstood foray into alt-country and more contemplative musical realms that was On A Wire, STWHA remains the band’s most cohesive, impactful album to date both lyrically and sonically. Longtime fans who came of age during the height of the scene when that album reigned supreme still reference it with a certain reverence and fondness usually saved for albums that reach a Pinkerton-level legendary status. I was lucky enough to see Matt Pryor perform an intimate acoustic set to about 40 people this past spring, and it was the songs he played from STWHA that instantly changed the energy in the room and united fans ranging in age from early-twenties to maybe mid-thirties in an unspoken bond for a few spellbinding minutes. His solo acoustic versions of “Valentine,” “Out Of Reach,” “I’m A Loner Dottie, A Rebel,” and “I’ll Catch You” sounded just as fresh, passionate, and genuine as they did on the record nearly fifteen years earlier, and he sent them out to this intimate gathering of fans like love letters sealed with a sense of true appreciation for following and supporting the band so faithfully throughout the years.

From the onslaught of swirling guitar and synth-driven sounds that propel the listener headfirst into “Holiday” and powerfully mark the album’s opening with an angsty call to action, all the way to the much softer and more tender closing lines of the final track, “I’ll Catch You,” this album definitely keeps you on your toes. It’s full of shifts and surprises; the ballads and downtempo songs that immediately follow more turbulent, energetic tracks still kind of catch me off guard in a good way, and even the quieter songs that seem like they’ll remain subdued and gentle until the end (“Long Goodnight,” “I’ll Catch You”) take an unexpectedly glorious turn and crescendo with a sudden swell of emotion and noise. As a teenager schooled mostly in punk and post-grunge bands, I was able to develop an appreciation for those quieter, more poignant moments along with the easily accessible, uptempo tracks that were more in my musical comfort zone at that time. In many ways the album became a gateway for maturation and for exciting new musical discoveries that have led me to where I am now. It provided a direct pipeline to other Vagrant bands like The Anniversary and Reggie and The Full Effect, and from there, I was well equipped to navigate this nebulous new territory known as “emo” and would quickly fall head over heels in love with not only the explosive melodies and confessional lyrics that defined it as a musical genre, but the vintage t-shirts, Chuck Taylors, and Rivers Cuomo style glasses that became its accoutrements.

Like pretty much every 90’s kid who owned the album and listened to music that could be labeled as “emo,” I spent countless hours in my room poring over the self-conscious, angst ridden lyrics to songs like “Action & Action” and “Red Letter Day,” which were tinged with a bitterness and dejection that validated my adolescent woes like none other. But petulance and self-pity aside, it was always just plain fun to rock out to the album’s especially driving, tightly crafted, poppy moments. I’d rarely make it through the entire disc without hitting repeat at least once on both “Ten Minutes” and “I’m A Loner, Dottie, A Rebel,” both of which were songs that almost inspired me to actually start taking drum lessons. Those two songs in particular kickstarted my then tenuous sense of appreciation for catchy rock music that I don’t think I had felt since listening to Weezer’s “Blue Album” as a much younger kid. Aside from Weezer and Blink-182, not to mention the onslaught of teen pop stars and boy bands that had become hugely popular in the late 90’s, I don’t think I had ever heard anything quite as infectiously “poppy” as some of my favorite tracks on STWHA. As someone who had always been more drawn to the dark, downcast corners of music, art, and literature (I was also a huge Smiths fan at the time and remain so to this day), it was a rare occurrence for me to become completely captivated by melodies and vocals as spirited and punchy as those in the aforementioned tracks. This newfound love of pop-infused rock and punk led me down a long path of bands and artists I still listen to regularly, from Saves The Day to The Swellers, and after many years of intrepid traveling, I still see no visible end in sight.

Fifteen years later, I can’t help but still hear the influence of the style that The Get Up Kids perfected on STWHA in several of my more recently appointed favorite albums. When I heard The Greatest Generation by The Wonder Years for the first time last year, the lyricism, musicianship and vocals were so strongly evocative of The Get Up Kids circa ’99-‘02 that I described them to a good friend as “The equivalent to The Get Up Kids for kids today.” The album’s influence spans far and wide, from third wave emo bands like The Early November and the synth heavy Motion City Soundtrack that rose up right in its wake, to modern pop punk bands like Driver Friendly and Light Years, and also to the increasingly popular so-called “emo revival” bands like You Blew It! who harken back to that signature late 90’s sound.

So while my halfhearted dreams of becoming a drummer or keyboardist in a Vagrant-era emo band went completely unfulfilled, Something To Write Home About had a powerful, lasting impact on me nonetheless. These twelve songs that Matt Pryor and his bandmates crafted fifteen years ago with such heart-on-sleeve genuineness and passion have also had a long lasting impact on countless kids and young adults who were finding their voice and discovering their purpose right around the same time that I was. Some have kept that inspiration and passion alive by going on to write music that draws from a similar well, and some like me have simply developed a deep, continued appreciation and reverence for music of many genres that can all be traced back to the spark ignited by the awe-inspiring fusion of bright, swelling chords, synth drenched hooks, and thoughtful, relatable lyrics that make Something To Write Home About truly live up to its title.

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.