Archive for January, 2016

Views cover art

Well, now I know that there’s more to Germany, musically, than oompah bands. There’s at least one band there carrying the pop punk torch, albeit in a slightly emo-ish manner. This is a pretty strong release, with songs full of melodic crunch and gruff sing-along vocals. Think Hot Water Music or Against Me, and you’re in the right vein. But the band seems to have a bit of a split personality, with some of the tracks being these awesome, grandiose, melodic hard-hitting emotional punk songs, and others being more “traditional” pop-punk, with fun and bounciness. Prime tracks of the first category include the opener, which is also the title track, “Views,” “Here And There,” and especially “Burden,” with such a huge sound that could fill a stadium, yet still feels as intimate and personal as a private show in a tiny club. Another is the closer, “Hold Me,” which also has a huge sound, with intricate guitar work, big choruses, and a driving beat. As far as tracks in the latter category that stand out, there’s “Basement,” a track that’s so Ramones-like that they even throw in some “gabba gabbas.” “Fairytale” has a great sound that would be at home on a Fat Wreck Chords release, with its fast, melodic punk sound. And “I Don’t Like You” is a fast hella fun track, super melodic and fist-pump ready. And then there are tracks like “Swallow,” which walk the line between these two distinct styles. I really like this album, and have already been telling many of my American friends about this band.

Paul Silver

Listen here: https://thelamplighters.bandcamp.com/

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Spit at the Sun cover art

There are three ways a band can go, through its career. It can either keep getting better and better with time, putting out better and better records, it can start out with a bang and whither away, becoming a shadow if its former self, or it can just sort of stay the same. New Jersey’s Banquets is calling it quits, and they’ve taken that third path. “Spit At The Sun” is their swan song. It’s a solid record, full of melodic alternative rock that borders on melodic punk. And it’s very even in quality. That means there are no stinkers, but it also means no significant standouts. It’s pretty much the same as their previous releases over their short career. If I had to pick a few favorites, they would be “Forecaster,” which opens the album, especially the great jangly bridge right around the middle of the song; the pair, “Piled High” and “Backwash,” which flow into one another, and have great melodies and cool hooks; and “I’ve Got A Scheme,” the album’s closer, for it’s soaring quality. But these are just little points that I’m grasping for in order to choose favorites. The fact is they’re all good, just not great. The album will certainly satisfy fans, and it fits in quite well in the band’s output, as well as the genre. But it would have been cooler if they were going out on a higher note.

Paul Silver

Listen here: https://blacknumbers.bandcamp.com/album/spit-at-the-sun

Water Lane cover art

Hailing from West Yorkshire in the UK, Above Them play a style of music that’s part grunge, part indie rock, and part melodic punk. Blending these, you get something that’s guitar-driven, not quite as heavy as grunge, full of melodic sensibility and emotional urgency. The songs are generally mid-tempo, which is fine, but I wish there was a little more variety here, and a little more energetic power. But I hear plenty of current SoCal pop punk influence from this UK band. Some of the songs do stand out, though, like “We’re All Going Down,” which reminds me of one of my current favorite bands, Western Settings, though with less gruff vocals. It’s got a powerful emo-ish melodic punk sound, which I really love. “Old Roots” moves seamlessly through pretty pop-punk sounding music, through Americana-tinged sounds (from a UK band?) and through old-school emo, for a track that’s pretty cool. “Broken Bones” has elements that remind me of LA’s Gentlemen Prefer Blood, another good band. And the short, quiet opener, “Theories of Planned Behavior,” is quite pretty, with vocals laid bare over a single simple guitar. The bulk of the songs, though, while good, don’t quite grab me so much. I think part of the issue is that the songs try to stay “in the middle,” that is, not too hard, not too poppy, not too emo, so they don’t get labeled a certain way. The result, for some of these songs, is that they end up sounding just a bit “middle-of-the-road.”

Paul Silver

Check it out here: http://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/water-lane