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

Light Years- “Hindsight” (acoustic) and “Aliens Exist” (Blink-182 cover)

Light Years frontman Pat Kennedy recorded a mini acoustic session for Zero Platoon, performing a cover of Blink-182’s “Aliens Exist” as well as “Hindsight,” my personal favorite song from their debut LP, I Won’t Hold This Against You. The video for “Hindsight” also features an interview with Pat that touches upon the band’s backstory, the challenges that go along with being a touring musician, and the important influence of his father and of other bands like Blink-182, Saves The Day, and The Get Up Kids on his career as a musician.

Light Years will release a new EP, Temporary, via Animal Style Records on September 9th that can be pre-ordered here.

Major League- “Pillow Talk”

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I’m a huge fan of producer Will Yip (The Wonder Years, Light Years, Balance and Composure), so I became really excited when I heard that he would be working with Major League on their new album There’s Nothing Wrong With Me.  “Pillow Talk,” the album’s first single, showcases the band in an entirely different light compared to their 2012 debut LP “Hard Feelings.”  With guitarist Brian Joyce now taking charge of vocals, the band’s sound is refreshing and better than ever.  If this song is any indication, they’ve transformed from a fun, promising, but still pretty standard pop punk group into a more mature, introspective band whose thoughtful, nuanced, and passionate style will continue to evolve in ways that could breathe new life into a genre that needs it.  

If you love some of the other bands who have worked with Will Yip, most notably Light Years, who recently toured with Major League, then There’s Nothing Wrong With Me should definitely be on your radar.  It comes out November 4 on No Sleep Records. You can pre-order it here and stream “Pillow Talk” via Absolute Punk.

Light Years- “Temporary”

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Light Years just released the title track from their upcoming EP, “Temporary” (out 9/9 on Animal Style Records), and it showcases the band doing what they do best: pouring their hearts and their impressive craftsmanship into tightly constructed, thoughtfully written, and extremely catchy pop punk songs.  While other bands in the genre may get more attention and bigger fan bases, Light Years show a level of maturity and depth in their musicianship that makes them stand out in a scene that’s saturated with forgettable, younger pop punk bands.

I can’t help but hear hints of “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket”-era Blink 182 when I listen to “Temporary,” and that’s a high compliment coming from a longtime fan of that band and album.  Stream the new song via Absolute Punk, and pre-order the EP here.

If I Die, I Wanna Die In The Suburbs: Pop Punk, Suburban Angst and Quarter Life Crises

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The suburbs are a breeding ground for angst and disillusionment, and no other genre of music has captured these feelings or mythologized the suburbs in quite the same way that pop punk has. Given that this style of music has typically been most popular among teens and early twenty-somethings and that the bands themselves often begin as suburban teens, this thematic trend makes perfect sense. From pioneers of the genre like The Descendents to current day pop punk bands like The Wonder Years and Light Years, lyrical themes of alienation, disenchantment and even nostalgia surrounding the suburbs continue to abound. Though I’ve gone through various musical phases in my mostly suburban life, I always seem to cycle back to pop punk in some form or other. It has been a staple in my musical diet from my early teen years all the way through recent quarter-life crises, and it has been inextricably tied to alternating feelings of disenchantment and nostalgia that have surrounded my suburban existence.

My early experiences with pop punk began when I discovered the more “old school” bands that I grew up on and fell in love with in middle school like The Descendents, Blink-182, MxPx, Green Day, and early Saves The Day. I came across these bands at a time when, like most young adolescents, I felt disenfranchised by my hometown and by being somewhat of a misfit in a high achieving, upper-middle class-dominated educational environment. School sucked, kids could be pretty mean, friends were fickle, and times were generally tough. So pop punk bands (as well as 90’s rock greats like Weezer, Nirvana, and the Foo Fighters) provided a much needed refuge from the uncertain and unwelcoming terrain that I was forced to navigate at school.

I grew up in a slightly more working class neighborhood of a very affluent Boston suburb, and the D.I.Y. ethic and sense of camaraderie that characterized the kids in my little enclave went hand in hand with the themes and sentiments commonly expressed in the various sub genres of punk rock. So it was natural that some of my neighborhood friends and I would come to embrace this kind of music in our middle and high school years. In some ways, punk rock, pop punk, and later on, emo, numbed the pain that accompanied my life as a confused, underachieving outcast lost in a sea of privileged overachievers. While they were most likely listening to radio friendly hip hop and mainstream acts like the Dave Matthews Band, I was holed up in my room listening to punk rock records supplemented by a healthy dose of Morrissey.

Fast forward several years, and I’m back in the same suburban town, living with my parents temporarily while I sort out this latest quarter-life crisis and return to grad school. A whole new breed of pop punk bands have emerged and the genre has seen quite a rebirth since my middle school days. While I’m a little pickier about my pop punk than I used to be, bands like The Wonder Years and Light Years have occupied an important niche in my eclectic listening habits. And while my high school escapist habits of occasionally raiding the liquor cabinet, sneaking a cigarette, or smoking pot in the alley behind the coffee shop where I used to work have been replaced mostly by distance running, I feel like I’m still running from my suburban roots, running to escape the town I was born and raised in, running toward an uncertain but still promising and alluring future of living somewhere that feels more like home and finding my life’s purpose after taking all these fascinating detours. As I ran through the streets of my hometown today, three pop punk songs stood out on my playlist, each evoking a quarter life crisis-fueled sense of either angst, disillusionment, or nostalgia as the lyrics came blasting through my headphones:

1.) The Wonder Years- “We Could Die Like This”

Memories flood back like photographs
All bright and out of focus, all drab with muted colors…

Operator, take me home
I don’t know where else to go
I wanna die in the suburbs
A heart attack shoveling snow all alone
If I die, I wanna die in the suburbs

2.) Light Years- “Parking Lots”

Before my past comes crawling back through my front door
I’ll spend the rest of my days and nights
Just hoping for something more

Do you ever miss
the parking lots
we hung out
in the town that we grew up
Not being held responsible
for all of the shit
we used to do

3.) The Swellers- “Parkview”

It’s been four years
And I still don’t know what I’m doing here
My friends settled down
And all I do when I’m home is sleep in

Until then you can watch me shoveling snow
Clearing a path so I’m not walked on anymore
I guess tomorrow it could melt
But I’m not sure
Maybe I’m paralyzed
Haven’t stood up for myself in a long time

I’m not used to the soundtrack of my neighborhood at all…

While each of these songs offers a unique reflection on the suburbs, they all capture a sense of aimlessness and angst that often accompanies suburban life. Each lyricist wrestles with his twenty something suburban existential crisis in his own way. Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years seems to romanticize the suburbs of his youth while simultaneously envisioning his own tragic demise that will someday take place right there. Pat Kennedy of Light Years evokes a more carefree time in his youth as a nostalgic escape from the harsher realities and disappointments that come with adulthood. And Nick Diener of The Swellers describes a situation marked by lethargy and confusion, sleeping in as he remains frozen in the same place, but clearing a path perhaps to make his way toward something better.

As I run past the landscaping trucks parked in front of neatly manicured lawns, schools I once attended that are now being demolished or converted, and once modest ranch homes that are being torn down to make way for huge McMansions, I’m overwhelmed by the sounds of these constant suburban embellishments, and the lyrics “I’m not used to the soundtrack of my neighborhood at all” feel especially relevant. In many ways the place where I grew up has changed dramatically since the 90’s/’00s, as one would expect, but now that I’m living back at home all these years later, I’m experiencing some of the same apathy and angst that I felt in high school. Maybe these “grown up” pop punk bands I’m listening to now will provide me with a little comfort or a brief escape as I run, flooding me with childhood memories and nostalgia for the places I used to hang out. Maybe a year from now the six miles I typically log through these streets as The Swellers stream through my headphones will be just another fond memory, and I will have cleared a path to find a place that fits me better. I’m almost certain it won’t be the suburbs, but I’m pretty sure wherever life takes me, you’ll find me shoveling snow. Let’s just hope that won’t be how I die…

Turnover- “Disintegration”

Turnover went through a pretty remarkable transition between their 2011 self-titled EP and their full length follow-up, Magnolia, which was one of my favorite albums of 2013. So it will be interesting to hear what other shifts in sound and style this band has in store for us with their upcoming EP, Blue Dream, which comes out on August 26.

The EP’s first single, “Disintegration,” begins with a simple, minimalist kind of sound, stripped down to gentle guitar arpeggios and subdued vocals that enhance the song’s especially reflective, introspective lyrics. Then, a little beyond the halfway mark, the emotional floodgates open as the chill guitars and somber vocal style abruptly give way to a beautifully noisy, turbulent crescendo that pretty much leaves me speechless every time I listen to it.

If you’re a fan of Balance and Composure or Brand New (especially their 2006 magnum opus The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me), you’ll most likely love “Disintegration.” Stream it below, courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan, pre-order their EP here, and fall in love with this extremely talented, ever-evolving, genre defying band.

The band will also be touring with Light Years and Malfunction this fall. Tour dates are listed below.

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2014/07/turnover_releas.html

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Turnover — 2014 Tour Dates

SEP 17 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Shaka’s w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 18 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 19 – Long Island, NY @ Amityville Music Hall w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 20 – Howell, NJ @ Gamechanger World w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 21 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 23 – Holyoke, MA @ The Waterfront Tavern w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 24 – Poughkeepsie, NY @ Pizza Shop w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 25 – New York, NY @ The Studio at Webster Hall w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 26 – Ottawa, ON @ Pressed w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 27 – Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck Bar w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 28 – Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 30 – Cincinatti, OH @ Legends w/ Light Years, Malfunction
OCT 01 – Lansing, MI @ Macs Bar w/ Light Years, Malfunction
OCT 02 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen w/ Light Years, Malfunction
OCT 03 – Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s 20 Lanes w/ Light Years, Malfunction

Light Years- “Fall Apart”

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Light Years released one of my favorite albums of 2013 (“I Won’t Hold This Against You), and I feel like they’re a band who will positively and powerfully influence the current status and perception of “pop punk,” especially with their performance on the Acoustic Basement stage of this year’s Warped Tour and a new EP on the horizon.

Their new song, “Fall Apart,” is everything one could hope for in terms of a fun, anthemic, but still very thoughtful and emotionally charged summer rock song. The band has managed to strike a rare, hard to achieve balance in order to create a more mature, pensive brand of pop punk music that still maintains the catchy, youthful sound that typically characterizes the genre.

If you’re a fan of bands like The Wonder Years, Taking Back Sunday, and Blink-182, you’ll love Light Years and their new song. You can stream it here, via Alt Press, and pre-order their upcoming EP, “Temporary,” from Animal Style Records, and also purchase their “Acoustics” EP for just $1 from Paper + Plastick