Tag «pop punk»

EP Review: Home Movies – “Hell”

Home Movies (formerly Stanley and the Search) are a Los Angeles pop punk band, similar to the current wave of bands like The Story So Far and State Champs. Their new record, Hell, is something that, in motive, should be appreciated. You can tell simply by the instrumentation that they are definitely trying to do something new with their sound, which is great because they’re in a genre that’s watered down and oversaturated with hundreds of cookie cutter bands. However, they don’t quite succeed to break the mold as much as they would hope.

Hell begins with its title track, a heavy, melodic post-hardcore tune that maintains a lot of energy while keeping a slower pace. That’s to be appreciated, although it gets kind of boring after a while, and the second song isn’t much different. “Faith and Folly” is similar in that it’s dark and heavy, and appears to be a rip on a person who uses religion as a way to inauthentically alleviate themselves of responsibility while putting the blame for negative situations onto other people. “How can you wear that cross on your skin/Is it belief that keeps you counting your sins?” The song isn’t bad, it just sounds so much like the first one that they run together a little too much. The EP’s middle track, “The Will of Fire,” is a change of pace and while for it starts as energetic and entertaining, it ends as essentially any other melodic hardcore song written by a pop punk band. “The Winds,” Hell’s acoustic piece, is a good precursor to the final track and while it sounds pretty generic at first listen, pulls a good change of pace for the whole of the release. While the lyrics could stand to be a bit less accusatory or allegorical across the release, they don’t hurt this track too much. “The Winds” was placed as a good introduction to the last track of the EP, “Fickle,” which is without a doubt the best song on Hell. It’s a super energetic, balls to the wall kind of melodic punk rock track that closes the release down slowly, leaving you wanting more. And that’s honestly how I feel.

Home Movies are not a bad band. They are incredibly tight as musicians and they’re not bad at forming songs. A lot of their music is very technical but in a way that’s sort of hidden in the song, so rather than focusing on it too much the listener is forced to just keep their mind on the song as a whole. That can be a good or a bad thing, as sometimes the technicalities are needed to make a song more gripping. But frankly, my problem with Home Movies, at least on this release, is they’re just not interesting enough. They could experiment with more instrumentally, and I’m not talking about how technical they are but how different parts of the song can be differentiated from each other. And they could probably put a little more effort into the lyrical and vocal aspects of their songs. I don’t want to overthink it, but as things stand now, I don’t feel like I have much reason to listen to them in place of their contemporaries.

While the release didn’t keep me on my toes much, this band is incredibly talented and I’ll be one of the first to listen to their next release when it comes out. This one didn’t really do it for me, but they’ll most likely get there soon.

3.5 / 5 – Listen below. (more…)

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SKiTTiSH iTZ (pop-punk) stream new EP, “Start The Game”

Boise self-described “cake punk” band SKiTTiSH iTZ just released their new EP “Start The Game,” and you can stream it in its entirety below.

They sorta remind me of a more skate-punkish Alkaline Trio with small doses of ska thrown in.

SKiTTiSH iTZ released their last album “Had A Food Baby” in February of 2013.

(more…)

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Album Review: The Hotelier – “It Never Goes Out” (Reissue)

Massachusetts’s The Hotelier made quite the splash in our scene with the release of their 2014 album, Home, Like No Place is There. It’s been a long time since a band has seemingly come out of nowhere and written an album that resonates with so many people across the board of punk, emo, and indie music. There’s a history to the band a lot of people don’t know however: Before the release of HLNPIT, they spelled their name like you would think they would (“The Hotel Year”) and released a fantastic debut album called It Never Goes Out, earning for themselves a cult following and setting the stage for word-of-mouth and online shares which helped to make HLNPIT such a success, which I’m sure surprised the band’s fans as much as them. Tiny Engines recently announced the physical re-release of It Never Goes Out, marking the first time the record has ever been released in any sort of physical format.

It Never Goes Out has a lot of the same elements as HLNPIT – you can definitely tell that the same band wrote them both. Conversely, not every song is quite as much of a tearjerker. The opening track, “Our Lives Would Make A Sad, Boring Movie,” is an upbeat, pedal-to-the-floor pop punk song that perfectly shows the listener who the band is and what they’re about. Similar to that is the song “Holiday,” an idealistic, explosive punk rock tune that clocks in barely over a minute, and a definite highlight of the record. There are still many extremely personal songs too, albeit most of them not quite as heavy as what the band went on to make. Possibly the most powerful on this release is “An Ode To The Nite Ratz Club”, which recalls an experience in which an old friend of the song’s narrator shared some personal struggles with him, leaving a permanent imprint in the narrator’s life. The album ends with the tongue-in-cheek-ishly named “Title Track”, which is a great mix between the more idealistic, upbeat tracks on the album and the heavy, personal stuff that The Hotelier does so well.

There’s a lot of great things to be said about It Never Goes Out. While not the first release most people have heard from the band at this point in time, it was a great introduction to them before the release of HLNPIT. While technically the same band, it may be fair to say that The Hotel Year was a lot more Piebald, and after the name (er… spelling) change, they became a lot more like the Weakerthans. Most bands, especially in pop punk and emo, have that period of time where they’re young and they want to play as loudly as possible (angst, man). As they mature as songwriters, get older, and life hands out an exceptional new list of struggles, they take everything they’ve mastered on previous releases and craft it into something new and different. It’s not a bad thing, and it served this band really well. Both records are fantastic.

Really the only negative thing I have to say is that at points, the album is just too repetitive. I could say this about the newer record too, however. This band seems to take the same few chords they use in a song and beat them into the ground until they just can’t do it anymore. Which, weirdly, they do really well. But it’s still a bit too much sometimes.

While my biases as a fan are definitely showing through, I’m also going to recommend that everyone who’s a fan of the band’s newer album, as well as mid-2000’s pop punk go pick up this re-release in a physical format. It’s a fantastic record and it’s good to finally see it get more recognition.

4.5 / 5

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Album Review: Transit – “Joyride”

Boston, Massachusetts’ Transit really started making an impact on the scene in the late 2000’s. They broke through to a lot of people with their third official release, 2009’s Stay Home EP, which was reminiscent of melodic hardcore bands like Lifetime and Small Brown Bike. 2010’s full-length Keep This To Yourself (on Run For Cover) placed them in front of newer audiences and they soon signed to Rise Records, on which they released 2011’s Listen and Forgive, which, with its cleaner guitars and twinkly-ness, was much more like American Football than Tell All Your Friends. While people loved the album, a transition as extreme as this left fans wondering what the next one would sound like. That said, 2013’s Young New England was the band’s delve into poppier music, although the record still contained a heavy emo-influence, primarily in the guitar work (like all Transit records do). The album, however, was a bittersweet sound to a lot of fans, old and new.

That leads us to 2014’s Joyride, out now on Rise Records. Shortly before the album’s release, Transit announced the leaving of long-time guitarist Tim Landers, who had played on every release prior (Landers himself shared on social media that all of his parts would be likely removed from Joyride’s final mixes). That said, how did Joyride hold up?

Well, the problem with Joyride really lies in the fact that it’s a Transit album. Being one of the more creative bands in the newer pop punk and emo “revival” scenes, this was without a doubt their least interesting album to date. It feels like they lost most of their punk and emo influences without Landers there. Really, when you get down to it, this isn’t a punk or emo album at all – it’s a pop rock album by a barely recognizable band.

That’s not to say that Transit should just stick to their old stuff to appease their fans by any means. But what was always appreciable about Transit was the progress they made creatively in every release. Even with Young New England, which was many people’s least favorite, you could tell the band was doing what they wanted and were pushing their own boundaries as artists. And that was respectable. However this album makes them look lazy. Going back to the loss of a guitarist as well, the two separate guitar parts that strangely pieced together the band’s sound in the past are missing, as each part couldn’t survive without the other (try listening to KTTY in one ear at a time and you’ll see what I mean).

Now, even after all of the negative sentiments I just expressed about it, this is not necessarily a bad album by itself. It’s extremely catchy, and admittedly frontman Joe Boynton’s lyrics are still relatably sad and/or dark. Sometimes I question the authenticity of the lyrics due to this being the third or fourth album with what seems to be the same lyrical themes, but overall it seems that while the rest of the band have gotten lame-er, Boynton’s started putting way more thought into lyrical imagery and how his words fit into a song musically, rather than making them feel forced. There’s some great songs that stick out too, the first four in particular (“Sweet Resistance” will be on repeat for the next week, guaranteed), as well as “Fine By Me” (which is truly for anyone who’s looked back at their past and wished the present was a little more like the ol’ days) and “Too Little Too Late.”

For Joyride, I give the guys in Transit a generous 3 out of 5 stars. If it wasn’t for it being a Transit album, it might have been a 3.5, but I legitimately think they can do way better and that this record lacks a lot of creativity. Progression is good – degression, not so much.

3/5 Stars

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