Thursday, December 9, 2010

And that was when i knew our love would last : Cause' we could wait it out - the winter and the snow.

Its past time to start blogging again. But, given the circumstances of the past few days, I'm going to go insane if I don't do something. So I shall blog to get me through this next month/5 weeks.

The end of the year is coming up, and that means a few things:

1. Most relevant to the blog, the Top 10 list. There was no real contest this year. There were 12 albums that immediately stuck out to me and amazing. Two of them got quickly eliminated when I thought a bit deeper about it. The hardest was choosing some of the top albums, all of which were amazing. I still need to pick my top 10 songs, and then do a section about indie albums, live shows, and the preview for next year (already, there's a few albums shaping up to be amazing).

2. Christmas break. I don't get one, but, being a staff member of a college ministry, that means that all of my best friends are leaving for break. One leaves on Saturday and will be gone for probably around three weeks. The other left yesterday and will gone until 4.5 weeks. So yes, I'll go insane.

3. Working in crazy holiday conditions. Work is what I'm doing to pass the time. Especially now that its holiday season. But work only handles a bit of time. And then I have to fill up a lot of time with nothing to do. So again, I'll blog. The moral here? Expect more posts.

Anyways, on to music. The last post that I was supposed to do was on "The Fisherman's Song" by Mae, off of their (m)orning EP. However, times have changed. They released the mediocre (a)fternoon EP, and then the perfect (e)vening EP, which is the subject of this post.

(e)vening is the final EP in Mae's trilogy of EP's, recorded free of any record label (well, they created their own, Cell Records), but distributed through Tooth and Nail. Being the final piece of recording that Mae will possibly ever release, it needed to be amazing. It doesn't fail at this. Let's put it this way. The Everglow was my favorite Mae album. (m)orning was behind it, and Destination Beautiful behind that. Singularity was a mishap in my opinion. That changed with the FIRST listen of (e)vening. Let's dissect it, shall we?

A Quiet (e)vening kicks the album off, with a short, two minute piano interlude, meant to show that everything was coming to an end. (m)orning brought us in with signs of waking up, and opening the recording studio. (a)fternoon brought us to the airport. (e)vening has us laying the final piano layers down at night, hunched over a piano, in a comfy chair that squeaks. Its short, its simple. It sets the stage. Then the drums kick in.

"Bloom" hearkens back to The Everglow side of Mae. An odd time signature that's long enough to where it still flows fairly evenly, pianos topping off guitar riffs, and drums, all with a rockin' out feeling that still leaves you mellow. They even touch on their faith, before crying out at the climax "I swear this time I'll pour myself out for You 'til there's nothing left", after traversing a song about being lost and wondering around. "We found our faith, and then unwound it." "We lost our way, and walked around it." "But love will find a way to Bloom".

"I Just Needed You to Know" keeps the style of laid back rock going, though a bit more aggressive. This time, telling a story. I won't get into it too much, but I played this song for a friend who probably needed it. It helped at the time, before things went sour. It tells the story of a blossoming relationship between a guy and a girl who live apart. It opens with the man speeding down Highway 95, a NC/VA highway that Dave Elkins (singer, guitarist, and lyricist) traversed frequently during college. He used the time to write lyrics for songs that went on to be Mae songs. Meanwhile, the man's girlfriend is patiently waiting for his return, despite being excited inside. Things continue to go well for the couple, before finally they decide to get married, having survived the distance between them.

"My Favorite Dream" is rocking my world right now. Here, we drop down a level or two in intensity, favoring a more held back, guitar led song. Elkins sings of someone who, quite literally, he loves. The theme of distance again comes into play, as he laments over the fact that she captivates him, but frequently has to leave for unspecified amounts of time. Eventually questioning her existence, he comes to the conclusion of "All I really know is that your hold on me is way too strong to be just a part of my imagination." Its safe to say that I'll be jamming this album all December. May or may not be a good thing.

Next, we hit an oddity in Mae. We have three songs, back to back, that really run as one. Its a classical piano piece, piano only I might add, that totals 13:36 long. Music to my ears. Nothing much to analyze, unless I go into the "physics" of the songs. The major/minor chord progressions really get me, and the general technique and flavor of the song do as well. It you're in to amazingly played piano, you'll love it. I recommend that you give it a listen.

Next, we hit track 8, the last with lyrics. "Sleep Well" is the definition of "building". Starting simple, and building up intensity until the end. Lyrically, this song represents both the ending of (e)vening and the end of Mae as we know it, as everything calls us to "Sleep well". We build and we build, encouraging things to be put to rest, and to go to bed happy. Maximum intensity is reached, and we hit the calm before the storm. Then....

"Good (e)vening". A 3:56 instrumental jam, hearkening back again to the older style of Mae, with aggressive guitars, pianos, drums, ect. We get hints of "The Fisherman's Song" from the "(m)orning EP (as did a song off of (a)fternoon). Everything about Mae comes pouring back in as we close out the final song of the final EP and the final tour of Mae. Strings, guitar riffs, bass lines, drums, pianos, everything comes together in an extended climax to "Sleep Well". Mae wants to leave us with some of the best materials that they have written, and it definitely shows.

Laid back stuff has been key to me this year. Less hardcore and heavy rock albums are in the top 10 (though there were some amazing hardcore albums and shows), and more laid back alternative stuff is shining in. A lot of it came in the last part of the year, and maybe they, and the lyrical content are representative of the things I'm going through. I just hope they end positively.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Fisherman's Song

This is something I've been debating on doing. Mostly I've been talking about albums. However, occasionally I'll run across an album that, as a whole, isn't worth a post, but has a song that blows me away. In this case, I'll be talking about The Fisherman's Song, by Mae, off of their EP (M)orning. Its part of a three part project, with the other albums being (A)fternoon, and (E)vening (note that the first letters spell Mae). But first, I realize that it has been quite a while since I updated! Let's review the year so far. Hopefully sometime before Monday, I'll be writing about Mae.

Back in January, I posted a few albums that I thought were going to be great in 2010. Let's review real quick.

Onward to Olympas - This World is Not my Home

I pre-ordered this album back at Christmas, and sure enough, it arrived on time! For the most part, its a good album. Especially the title track and track 6, Sink or Swim. Top 10 of the year quality? Not quite. Solid debut? Definitely. I have high hopes for the next album.

Poema - Sing it Now

A definite improvement over the original EP. For the most part, its only a quality deal, as this album was professionally recorded. Highlights include the two new tracks, both of which are near flawless, and the remake of Echo Off the Sky. On the downside, Boys and Bugs wasn't on this. Borderline Top 10 album.

Sent By Ravens - Graceful Words

Sent by Ravens has the potential to BLOW UP. A solid debut album (aside from the remake of Trailer vs Tornado, which was terrible. Thankfully they do the old version live). New Fire is my newest SbR song. All of the things I loved about the old album are here to stay! I just wish the new live set still included The Best in Me. Possible Top 10 album.

Embracing Goodbye - Rock'n'Roll Ain't Dead

Delayed a lot, from February to, like, last week. Haven't picked it up yet. That being said, the three new tracks have been played live, and one, Shotguns and Silver Dollars, is out. And its epic. High hopes for this.

Owl City - Ocean Eyes Deluxe addition

Admittedly, I had acquired all of songs but two prior to this release. Two of them were on the iTunes version of the first album, and three were singles. Only Butterfly Wings and Rugs From Me to You were new, and both rock. However, if you only bought the original album, then you get 7 brand new tracks with this. Go do it. Not in the top 10 because I consider it an extension of Ocean Eyes, not a new album (but a new album is in the works!)

Living Sacrifice - The Infinite Order

Don't get me wrong. This album is straight up br00tal. I'm just not feeling it that much. Too much like 80's era metal/hardcore. Not bad by any means, but not my cup of tea. Not gonna be in the Top 10.

Toby Mac - Tonight

Haven't given this a listen. But Toby rarely disappoints.

Demon Hunter - The World is a Thorn

Haven't listened for some reason.... Seems good from what I've heard (which isn't much). Really liking the bit of electronic background percussion in Collapsing.

Sanctus Real - Pieces Of A Real Heart

Ugh. Terrible. Please, can we go back to early Sanctus? Fight the Tide and Face of Love were great.

Switchfoot - Vice Versus

Not out yet. May not be until 2011

The Rocket Summer - Angels and Men

Hit and miss. I feel like Bryce was forced to make more songs. 15 songs for an album is only good if you can get out quality songs. About 10 were amazing. The rest felt forced. Had he cut out some of the lower quality songs, this would have been great. Borderline Top 10.

Family Force 5 - No Title Yet

Pushed back to 2011.

In addition, some albums have come out that are great.

The Classic Crime - Vagabonds

I need this album. Solar Powered Life is amazing.

Fair - Disappearing World

Opening track is epic. Not done listening to the album

Our Last Night - We Will All Evolve

Freakin' epic!! Currently my favorite album this year.

Sky Sailing - An Airplane Carried Me to Bed

A concept album by Adam Young of Owl City. Straight up acoustic guitar and piano. Epic so far. Album drops in a month, and two tracks are out now. So good! Definite Top 10 possibilities.

Write This Down - Write This Down

This year's sleeper album. I picked it up on a whim. Its some kind of crazy blend of pop-punk, alt rock, and post hardcore. Sometimes all in the same song. Its all over the place, musically, but great.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our Vision For This World Will Not Die When We Are Dead

Oh hai! This post has been in the works for a while now, but deciding on only 10 albums and songs for an amazing year isn't easy. But, lo and behold, its done. Let us not waste time, and begin!!

Top 10 Albums of 2009

10. Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings

If this album listing was based solely on technical skills, Dream Theater would win, hands down. Very few bands can pull off what they have done consistently: Write epic tracks (and by epic, I mean 10+ minutes) that seem fluid, and don't drag on and on forever. While only 6 tracks, it doesn't feel short. From the opening thunderstorms of "Nightmare to Remember" to the epic "The Count of Tuscany", nothing feels overdone. Unisons are abundant, and Jordan Ruddess continues his mastery of the Hakken Continuum.

Recommended tracks: Nightmare to Remember, The Count of Tuscany

9. August Burns Red - Constellations

August Burns Red is back with vengeance, and they've discovered guitar solos. Blistering metal, breakdowns, and intense double bass runs are abundant, including new epic guitar solos, all to create a brilliant new metal album. Tracks such as Indonesia, a track written about a missionary who died in a plane crash, explore new lyrical territory. My only issue with this album? The best track, Meddler, sounds kinda like Composure, from the previous album.

Recommended tracks: Meddler, Crusades

8. mewithoutYou - Its All Crazy!! Its All False!! Its All a Dream!! Its Alright.

I initially had mixed feelings about this album. mewithoutYou is known for dashing headlog through tracks, with frontman Aaron Weiss yelling, talking, and doing everything but singing as his fellow band members played. And yet, it worked. Somehow, despite recklessly running, everything felt in control and well thought out. But with this album, we are slowed down and given a more mellow, almost folk-y (read: almost) album that could easily be sung around a camp fire. And hey, songs about vegetables are cool.

Recommended tracks - Allah, Allah, Allah; Every Thought, a Thought of You

7. The Devil Wears Prada - With Roots Above, and Branches Below

The Devil Wears Prada is a take-no-prisoners style of metal, busting out of the door screaming, going track to track with seemingly no breathing room. Nothing has changed here. Its just better. Synth is everywhere, providing epic strings and even a few lead riffs. You can't help but scream along (assuming you're into that) as Mike screams out "I know a ghost" or sing along with Jeremy as he belts out "All of love can be traced to a Maker". And hey, let's not forget the oddly named tracks. And what's this? A piano song with no screaming? Oh snaps.

Recommended tracks - Assistant to the Regional Manager, Ben Has a Kid

6. We Came as Romans - To Plant a Seed

It feels weird putting two synthcore type bands next to each other, but hey, I don't make the music. I just listen. We Came as Romans begs for a new genre though. Not necessarily synthcore, but rather, Orchestralcore. Never before have a listened to a band use such string arrangements in a hardcore song. The growls and screams are brutal. The clean vocals are pristine. The strings are alive. The breakdowns are brutal. And some call it generic. Pfft, whatever. This is one of the most positive albums of the year. So let us restore each other. For an empty cup cannot fill another.

Recommended Tracks - To Plant a Seed, Intentions

5. The Glorious Unseen - The Hope That Lies in You

Wait, what? Who? I'm not gonna lie, until I saw these guys live, I had only given them a passing listen, and that was just to get a decent idea of what they would be like. I had heard of them, but never listened. HUGE mistake. The Hope That Lies in You is pure emotion in its most raw form. Ben Crist sings about the loss of his beloved life on "We Can Be Renewed" and even through the questioning of life, finds hope and strength in God. If someone wanted to know what emotion was, I'd be tempted to point them this way. Best worship album EVER (though Abel gives them a run for their money with their EP).

Recommended Tracks - The Hope That Lies in You, Falling Into You

4. Relient K - Forget and Not Slow Down

Relient K has consistently put out record after record of pop-punk goodness, and now we come to the 6th full length (although I would argue that last years "The Birds and the Bee-sides/The Nashville TennesseEP was not an EP/B-sides, but a full length). They've mellowed a bit, and they aren't as silly, but let's not forget: Matty-T just got his heart broken. Yep, folks, what we have here is a breakup album. We plow through as Matt reminiscences his past love and finds the strength to move on and be positive, rather than dwell on the past and be bitter with his former lover. As the chorus says, "I'd rather forget and not slow down, than gather regret for the things I can't change now." By the time "This is the End (If You Want It) rolls around, we feel as though we've experienced it all with him. The ups, the downs, and the end.

Recommended tracks - Forget and Not Slow Down, This is the End (If You Want It)

3. Emery - ....In Shallow Seas We Sail

I've technically already written about this album (but then again, I wrote about TDWP as well), but oh well. I mentioned that it was up for album of the year, but had to worry about Owl City's "Ocean Eyes". Well, it did. However, don't get me wrong. Emery is back with biting force. Bitter emotion, heartache, and betrayal, all how they were meant to be expressed. Emery exploits their dual frontmen to the max, giving a stark contrast between screams and cleans, back and forth, as they wrestle with their own inner emotions, before finally realizing, "Just hear me out. This was all my fault."

Recommended tracks - In Shallow Seas We Sail, Dear Death (Pt 1 and 2)

2. Owl City - Ocean Eyes

Wait, what? Anyone who knows me knows that I love Owl City more than any other band. And didn't I just say that Emery only had to look out for Owl City? Hm hm, sneaky sneak!! Anyways.

Owl City is, quite literally, happiness in musical form. From the kick off of "Cave In" we are treated to synth-y beats, a mix of live and more organic percussion, and layers about layers of intricately developed tracks. Everything from love to dental care is covered, and from track to track, we have direct hits. Adam explores his more faithful, God oriented side with "Meteor Shower" and "Tidal Wave" while exploring his fun side (Fireflies, Umbrella Beach) and romantic side (The Salt Water Room, Vanilla Twilight). European electronica influences are everywhere, especially in the percussion, and that makes me happy. Of course, so does Owl City.

Recommended tracks - Meteor Shower, On the Wing (haha, I didn't recommend Fireflies OR Vanilla Twilight, though they are both great.)

1. Deas Vail - Birds and Cages

Deas Vail is CRIMINALLY underrated, and that's a cold hard fact. Wes Baylock's vocals and falsettos are flawless, Laura's keys are haunting and ever present, and the rest of the instruments fill out what is the best album of the year. Haunting tracks are abound, as well as odd time signatures, tempo changes, and time signature changes (normally all reserved for more alt/progressive rock bands). Haunting pianos. Yes. I said it again. Honestly, it took one listen to leave me speechless. For an album that almost never saw the light of day, I was shocked. Goodness.

Recommended Tracks - Atlantis, Birds.

But wait, there's more!! My list of top songs of the year!! These won't get detailed posts, but you'll find some bands that didn't have albums in my top 10. Sometimes bands NAIL it with a track, but the rest of the album just can't compare. Not that the albums are bad. In fact, all songs not on a top 10 album were in the running for the top 10.

10. Life on Repeat - Southern Girls
9. August Burns Red - Meddler
8. Oh, Sleeper - The Finisher
7. The Glorious Unseen - We Can Be Renewed
6. We Came as Romans - Intentions
5. Mae - The Fisherman's Song
4. Relient K - This is the End (If You Want It)
3. Emery - In Shallow Seas We Sail
2. Owl City - Hot Air Balloon
1. Deas Vail - Atlantis

And let's not forget the special mentions!! These bands are either unsigned and deserve mention, or had a good chance at making the end of year list, but because of time restraints, simply weren't listened to.

The Forever Endeavor - Poppy electronica ala Owl City. Indie. Excellent.
Sent By Ravens - My favorite unsigned band signs to Tooth and Nail? Win.
Poema - Acoustic music is amazing. And I have a mini-crush on their pianist.
Doubting Benefit - Hmmmm, unsigned post-hardcore goodness with a dash of pop.
Life on Repeat - Oh Life on Repeat. If only your EP was more than 4 songs long.
Seabird - See, this is what you get for releasing an album at the end of December.
John Reuben - Ahem, see Seabird.
LIGHTS - Amazing album. Why did I not listen? I don't know.
Switchfoot - Hello Hurricane, as I understand, is amazing. I wouldn't know. Yet.
Between the Buried and Me - Since when has BTBAM let me down? Never. I let them down.
Abel - Sadly, I didn't listen to this until 2010. Rivals The Glorious Unseen.
Lorien - Deas Vail meets Far-Less meets Brand New. Sadly, 2010 again.

And finally! Albums that I'm looking forward to in 2010.

Onward to Olympas - This World is Not my Home. Out now. Runner for best of 2010
Poema - Early Spring, EP. Sing it Now. Front runner for top 10 of 2010.
Sent By Ravens - Spring, 2010, Full Length. Graceful Words. Front runner for top 10 of 2010.
Embracing Goodbye - February? Full length. Possible best of 2010.
Owl City Re-release - Out now. Deluxe addition. New songs!!
Living Sacrifice - Out now. Full length. Hm, metal goodness. The Infinite Order
Toby Mac - February 9. Full length. Tonight
Demon Hunter - Full length. March 9th. The World is a Thorn
Sanctus Real - Full length. March 9th. Pieces Of A Real Heart
Switchfoot - Vice Versus. Full Length
The Rocket Summer - February 23d. Full Length. Front runner for top 10 of 2010. Of
Angels and Men
Family Force 5 - 2010. Full Length.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You're Not the Last Thing That I've Loved and Lost

And let's finish this. I've got a lot more to write about. Specifically, the new Relient K and David Crowder*Band albums, and some future concerts. Either way, let's finish this up. No images this time, 'cause I'm sleepy, and images keep failing.

5. As Cities Burn - Come Now Sleep

Never before in the history of music has one band undergone such a stylistic change between albums. Showbread's change from "No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical"s Screamo to "Age of Reptiles" Synth Rock was a pretty big change, but I think that As Cities Burn's change was a little bit bigger. First, we had "Son, I Loved You at Your Darkest Time", featuring dual vocalist and brothers, altering between Screams and Clean vocals, shouting memorable lines such as "What is love without trust? At my big, would you bring your Isaac?". Now, suddenly, the opening track eases in. 7 minutes later, after hearing a man question the existence of God, we here a new person come in, pointing out that a man's pride has caused him to doubt God. That God has been there, but the man's pride has pushed him away. No screams, just ambient rock. From there, we transition into typical As Cities Burn riffs and progression(still unique to this day), as we hear about overcoming pride and stereotypes, the need for grace, and the incompetence of humans(but success through Christ). By the ending tracks, we're left agreeing with the singer. "If I make it to heaven, I may be as bloody as Hell". "I'm sure if you wanted to stop love, you could just untie your end and let it go. But my God, you don't. Yeah, I think I love your for it." When the last minutes of "Timothy" end, we're left wanting more. Sure, gone is the abrasive rock and the screaming, but the ambiance that has replaced it more than makes up for it. In the end, even with only one vocalist, this albums is amazing. "This is it, this is it. You're gonna sink for your sins, unless grace be the wind."

Tracks to check: Empire, Wrong Body, Our World is Gray, This is It.

They're not too bad live either.

4. Deas Vail - All the Houses Look the Same

Have you ever gone down into a neighborhood, looked at the homes, and realized, "Wow, all these houses look the same!". Yeah, I have. Putting that aside, AtHLtS is the debut, if you will, album by Deas Vail, an indie rock band from Arkansas. Wes, the vocalist, knows how to hit his falsettos, and when to use them. Trust me, its not easy to consistently switch from falsetto to normal and back, but he does it. Keys are abundant, both piano and synth, but never in a poppy way. Much of the music is atmospheric and dreamy. From the opening, with its simple chords, to the lightly floating pianos in "Shoreline", or the soaring vocals in every song. It doesn't matter. Its consistently good throughout. Honestly, I can't exactly go into detail about why I like this album so much. I just do. It has consistently received plays on the iPod, years later. The White Lights EP was just as good, and with "Birds and Cages" being released this month, I'm excited. The live show is spectacular, and if the new songs they've played mean anything, then "Birds and Cages" could surpass "All the Houses Look the Same".

Tracks to Check: Shoreline, Lover's Charm, Anything You Say, Life in These Little Boats.

3. Paulson - All at Once

Paulson was interesting in that I'd never actually heard of them until I went to go see As Cities Burn live with my buddy Justin. Coincidentally, my roommate at the time, Nathan, mentioned that he liked Paulson. They ended up being spectacular live, even though I only managed to listen to one song by the time the concert came around. Either way, I started listening to the CD, and immediately, I was hooked on "Calling On You". Hooked enough that I consistently listened to that track. It was only when I accidentally left the CD on that I next hear track 4, Window Frames. I randomly decided to play the first two tracks as well, and loved them, and so, I started listening to the first four. On repeat. Eventually, I managed to expand into the full album. Honestly, I liked the tracks enough to where I had trouble listening to the new tracks. Seriously. Paulson is, at its core, electronic pop. But, oddly enough, it doesn't sound like typical electro pop. Its not about sugary things, despite heavy synth use. Its a full band with pop-rock music, but with definite emo tendencies. Not "Slit your wrists with me because my girlfriend broke up with me at a Dashboard Confessional Show" emo, but rather, real emotion. Breaking up, moving on, insecurity, need, all of it, wrapped up in synths, guitars, bass, drums, and vocals that sound real. The words aren't necessarily sung, nor are they spoken like mewithoutYou, but rather, somewhere in between. It works. Its electronica rock with real emotion and doubt, not, "Everything is perfect". Although, um, I admit, I love that junk. Either way.

Tracks to listen to: Voids, Window Frames, Break Me In, What Are You?

2. Emery - In Shallow Seas We Sail

I've been a fan of Emery back since the days of "The Question", and "The Weak's End" was brilliant. Then came "I'm Only a Man" and "When Broken Heart's Prevail". Emery is basically a post-hardcore/screamo/punk band with two vocalists(three live) who trade off singing and playing bass, and even singing at the same time. The dual vocals really shine. I was convinced that nothing would be able to outdo gems such as "Walls" and "Ponytail Parades" from TWE or "So Cold I Could See My Breath" and "Listening to Freddy Mercury", from TQ, but then came In Shallow Seas We Sail. Cutthroat Collapse opens with the same intensity as "Walls", and dual vocals shine. This album is straight perfect throughout. Honestly, I'd write more, but I've already wrote a review of it. Go check it to see, and keep watchin' for the "Butcher's Mouth" video. BTdub, "In Shallow Seas We Sail" is both their best album, and best track.

Tracks to Listen to: Cutthroat Collapse, The Butcher's Mouth, In Shallow Seas We Sail, Dear Death pt 1 and 2.

1. Owl City - Maybe I'm Dreaming.

Somewhere in the world (aka, downtown), my friend Jefe just made that typical awkward noise that we both make. I won't go into it, but its made whenever I mention Owl City(and is usually followed up by "Strawberry Avalanche"!). Either way. I had a tough time choosing between this and "Ocean Eyes", but in the end, Maybe I'm Dreaming edged it out. Both have their charms, but in the end, MID wins. Check out my full review for why I love it so much.

Random side fact: My favorite Owl City track, "Hot Air Balloon", isn't on any album. Single only.

Tracks to check: Rainbow Veins, The Saltwater Room, Dear Vienna, West Coast Friendship.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

If There's Complications, Pull the Plug Out

Top 10 lists. Bless their souls. I swear, I see so many of them that are just thrown together. So before I made one(and trust me, I wanted to), I wanted to think about it. So, I've just been listening to music, and thinking about it.

25 albums later, I was, well, sorta ready. I suppose, it was more than 25 albums. But that's what I narrowed it down to. So I present to you, in no order other than alphabetical, my top 25 albums of all time:

Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal
As Cities Burn - Come Now Sleep
Beloved - Failure On
The Classic Crime - Albatross
Deas Vail - All The Houses Look the Same
Dead Poetic - New Medicines
Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism
The Devil Wears Prada - With Roots Above and Branches Below
Emery - In Shallow Seas We Sail
Falling Up - Captiva
Far-Less - A Toast to Bad Taste
Jon Reuben - The Boy Vs. The Cynic
Kids in the Way - Safe From the Losing Fight
Lights - Lights EP
Life in Your Way - Waking Giants
Mae - The Everglow
mewithoutYou - Brother, Sister
Owl City - Maybe I'm Dreaming
Paulson - All At Once
Relient K - Five Score and Seven Years Ago
The Rocket Summer - Do You Feels
Seabird - 'Til We See the Shore
Thousand Foot Krutch - Phenomenon
UnderOath - Lost in the Sound of Separation
The Wedding - Polarity

Then came the hard part? Which would be my top 10? In what order? Better yet, why? Well, let's get started.

10. Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism

So, this is an odd entry, considering that about a year ago, I hated Death Cab. Then Narrow Stairs came out, and I rather enjoyed the single "I Will Possess Your Heart". So I gave the album a chance, and loved it. From there, I got Transatlanticism and Plans, and was set. I still haven't heard the others, but man, Transatlanticism.... Simpler songs like the title track, more upbeat songs like "Title and Registration", downtempo songs like "Passenger Seat", and the simple acoustic track "A Lack of Color" are great.

Recommended Tracks: Transatlanticism, Passenger Seat

9. Dead Poetic: New Medicines

I'll admit, way back in high school, I had no idea what I was getting into with this album. I didn't really do music before that. I was used to the occasional pop/rock hit, and country music. I was recommended a bunch of albums, and honestly, I just picked one. This was the result. Popping it in, I was greeted with "Taste the Red Hands", and BAM. My first taste of truly aggressive music. But not that typical I'm-so-freakin'-ticked-off-at-everyone kinda angry, but rather, the why-are-you-going-down-this-path aggressive. The stop-being-so-lazy-and-make-a-difference aggressive. Whether it was Vanus Empty's screams to end shallow judging, or Bury The Difference's call for an end to mindless, groundless judgments, or even the call to end mindless action, and to move and do things whole hearted. I admit, I wasn't ready for someone to cut off the filter and say what needed to be said. It was the first time I started to listen to what bands were saying. And I liked it.

Recommended Tracks: Vanus Empty, Modern Morbid Prophecies

8. Falling Up: Captiva

Falling Up started on the whole "Rapcore" deal, but by the second album, they were transitioning. There was still rap vocals, but it was now over more atmospheric rock anthems. No more DJs, just atmospheric rapcore. And by Captiva, they had nearly abandoned the rap, and kept layering on the atmosphere. I don't joke when I say that this was the album that most made me want to start keyboarding. From the more upbeat Goodnight Gravity, the slower Arc to the Achilles, and the epic The Dark Side of Indoor Track Meets, I was hooked. The aforementioned track, Indoor Track Meets, is still a top track in my book. I still remember being amazed at the bridge, with that key shift that changed the entire mood of the song into this deep, dark feeling, matching the lyrics, before another key change into a much more hopeful mood for the end. I still need to learn that song....

Recommended Tracks: How They Made Cameras, The Dark Side of Indoor Track Meets

7. Relient K: Five Score and Seven Years Ago

Ah, good 'ole faithful Relient K. I think my initial draw to them was that they were one of the few bands that not only became quite popular(even signing to a major label and STAYING on the major label), but kept their faith a priority. Yes, any doubt that I had that they would water it down was erased by favorite Relient K track yet, Deathbed. From silly songs to serious songs, aggressive to passive, it was all there, balanced, and ready to go. From "Fallen Man" to "Faking My Own Suicide", Relient K demonstrated that they weren't going anywhere fast. Then, of course, there's one of my favorite love songs ever, "Must Have Done Something Right". And to epically end with the 11 minute epic of layer upon layer of track after track, all without sounding crowded, and use it to tell the ultimate story of failure and redemption, and, well, its just not easy to do. And they did it.

Recommended Tracks: Must Have Done Something Right, Deathbed

6. Beloved: Failure On

Well, let's throw a little aggression back in the mix, shall we? Beloved was a post-hardcore band from my neck of the woods. I was highly recommended them, but with the slew of new music that was coming out at the time, I only had enough time to give it a quick spin, and not to really listen to it. Big mistakes. I passed it over as "decent", but nothing special. Hah! Hah! Yeah, right. Finally, I randomly listed to it again, and this time, LISTENED to it, and was blown away. Suddenly, the stand out track, "Death to Traitors" was equal to so many other tracks. "Defect From Decay" followed soon after, "Inner Pattern" and "Aimless Endeavor", and the hopeful, yet aggressive closer, "Insult to Injury" Despite being 6 years old, being around for much longer than I've been into music, I still play that record, and still love it just as much. "But rest assured, we will fight for you".

Recommended tracks: Defect From Decay, Insult to Injury

And with that, we've completed the first half! Now, let's continue!

At a later date.... Its bed time....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Could Fall Between These Lines if You Would Work With Me

So, I forgot my login stuffs. Hence why there has been no update. Now there is!

So, rather than reviewing CDs, I'm gonna review a few shows I've been in. Let's get started!

Deas Vail/Abel @ The Lampstand

This, was a pleasant show, if I do say so myself. I went for one purpose only, and that was to see Deas Vail.

The show opened up with a local band, Peter's Shadow. They put on a decent show, I guess. The music was okay, but there was absolutely no energy from the band, which was odd. The music was pretty energetic. They, with the exception of the singer, were stiff. Lame. Oddly enough, the singer was sick.... Either way, I'd give them another chance, but I really can't recommend seeing them live. The music was okay though.

Music: 7
Live Show: 3

The Forever Endeavor was next up. I was a bit cautious though. The lead shinger was wearing purple girl pants.... I was a bit scared, but then, they hauled four keyboards(2 M-Audio MIDI-Controllers, 1 Yamaha Digital Piano, and 1 Korg MicroKorg Synth), and I was interested. The set was basically rather happy electronica music with a few guitar parts, and overall, I was rather impressed, aside from the intense use of auto-tune. The energy was matched by the lead singer, who would often move around and even dance a bit on stage, and even convinced some others to dance too.

Music: 8(Sorry, too much auto-tune)
Live Show: 8

Keegan was 3rd, and I had no idea what to expect. What we got was only four songs, but four intense, epic, atmospheric, WIN. There were very few vocals, but dag, the guitarist could sing. The other guitarist, the lead guitarist, was able to both tap-play his electric and play left handed piano chords AT THE SAME Time. Not only were they skilled, they were awesome. They didn't move much, but they just exerted an unmatched energy that night. They were into, but were calm at the calm parts. Dang near perfect.

Music: 9
Live Show: 9

Next up was Abel, one of the 2 headliners. They were a rather "As Cities Burn"-esque band, with some crazy good lyrics, and nice, personal stuff in between songs. Had I know the lyrics, I would have sung along, no doubt. Catchy, post-rock stuff. I admittedly wanted them to continue playing. Still, it ended with the lead singer singing "I'm not like Christ at all" as he prayerfully expressed his desire to improve.

Music: 9
Live Show: 9

Deas Vail was the last, and most anticipated for me. I'd seen them randomly before, and definitely loved them, and wanted to see what they'd do headlining. They played a couple old songs (Shoreline, Rewind, Undercover), and two new songs, before ending with a very passionate, very intense version of "Follow Sound", ending with the Bassist literally playing in the crowd. We eventually convinced them to come back and play one last song, and the set ended with "White Lights". They were honestly surprised that we wanted an encore, but it was well deserved. Totally awesome show.

Music: 10
Live Show: 10.

I'll write up a couple more reviews. Still gotta do the Relient K/Owl City/Rookie of the Year/Deas Vail show and the Embracing Goodbye show.

Until then, music updates. I finally got a gig bag for my Keyboard, and will be playing in the Praise band on the first CCF. I also ordered some new Instrument Cables(neon green for the win!) and some cable ties, and will be ordering my new Keyboard in about a week. Awesome! I think I'll name it Ashley.... Maybe Kori or Sylvia. Either way, its a 61 Key Korg X50 with Dual Polyphonic Arpaegiators. Um, heck yes? Yes, heck yes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Careless Lies Behind Those Brown Eyes That You Swore Were True More Times Than I Can Count

Its officially been a while... like, almost a month. Maybe even a month. Wow. Anyways, I needed to write. To put it simply, the new Emery album is too amazing to NOT talk about. Sure, they strayed off the path a little bit with "I'm Only A Man"(and don't get me wrong, I loved that album), but then they released "While Broken Hearts Prevail...", and I got excited. Now here it is: Possibly the best Emery album yet. "...In Shallow Seas We Sail". Go ahead, throw the two album titles together. "While Broken Hearts Prevail, In Shallow Seas We Sail".

The album opens with a kick to the face. "Cutthroat Collapse" starts off in the vein of "Walls" from their first album, and immediately, all doubt disappears. "Time runs out". Screams, and even a few lowers screams, blast through the speakers, and then suddenly, calm. Toby and Devin trade off vocal duties, sometimes even singing different parts at the same time, culminating with the chaotic-yet-calm chorus consisting of Toby singing, and Devin singing, albiet slight delayed. The cycle of calm and chaos continues, culminating in the bridge, and then ending with another kick.

"Curbside Goodbye" too opens harshly, but a little less harsh, before calming down a lot. Light vocals on the verses, and soaring dual-vox chorus make this song really stand out. "Inside Our Skin" is a bit different for an Emery song. For one, they make direct spiritual references in the song. While the members are all Christian(check out some of their side projects for proof of that), they try not to be overtly spiritual in hopes of being able to reach more people through conversation. That ends here as they scream "If God is good, then what are we? There is no plant without a seed. When morning comes, will we believe all that was lost can be retrieved? You say you’re good, then let me see. A faith is dead without the deed. How can we fail if we believe? Let’s be who we were meant to be."

"Churches and Serial Killers" starts up next, opening with drums and keyboard strings before the guitars and vocals kicking in, and a rather favorite lyric of mine, "There is a part of me that always sees the easy way out. If it doesn't hurt, then not another word". It also has some really nice clean vocals with underlying screams. The dual vocals seem to be really prevalent on this album, and I gotta say, its a welcome addition. Then we get to "Butcher's Mouth" and "In Shallow Seas We Sail", probably two of my favorite tracks on the record. "Butcher's Mouth" throws down some heavy drums and lyrics that remind of, well, facebook.... "I've got a way of figuring out what you said, but I want to hear it from the butcher's mouth". Another high point: The intense parts. Emery has always know when the time for intensity has come. In this case, its at the bridge, as they scream about someone who is taking advantage of people's kindness. "Throw yourself a pity party! Pull on each and every heartstring! We've brought you here, we've brought here, and no one will come to your defense".

Then we come to the title track. It starts out as a typical Emery track, with keys, dual vocals, slightly crunchy guitars, and intensity changes. Then it gets to the bridge, and I officially get blown away. Toby and guest vocalist/producer Aaron Sprinkle sing together in the typical vocal style of Emery, but something about Aaron's voice just makes it, I dunno, great. Kinda poetic. "I fell apart when I fell for you".

We blaze through the next couple tracks, with "The Poor and the Prevalent" with more dualing screams/cleans, followed by "The Smile, the Face", 1 of 2 tracks from the previous EP, followed by "A Sin to Hold on To" which speaks of casting off lust and being a light to others, and another great track, "Piggy Bank Lies". We then move to the other recycled EP track, "Edge of the World". And then, the closer. And in mu opinion, Emery has a great track record for closers.

I present to you, "Dear Death Part 1" and "Dear Death Part 2", a single track that is for some reason split into two. It starts off with a nice acoustic riff with some piano in the background, and Toby's vocals singing softly along, before giving us a nice little surprise: Spanish singing! Sure, it ain't much, but he closes the short Part 1 with the echoing "Esta noche sera mia", or "This night will be mine" over slow strings and keys. Part 2 then kicks in with a rock vibe, but feeling a bit different than their other straight rock songs. I dunno, it just does. Maybe its the alteration of the crunchy guitars and the less crunchy guitars. Either way, more dual vocals, and more amazingness. And then, we end. And I flip it back to the beginning.

Seriously, this may be Emery's best album yet. Yes, it may even beat out "The Weak's End". "....In Shallows Seas We Sail" takes the best of Weak's End and the best of "The Question" and adds a bit of progression. Its officially up for the best album of 2009 so far. Sure, its gonna have a big competitor in the form of Owl City's "Ocean Eyes"(which the first two tracks released are seeming amazing", and Relient K can always pull out some new stunts, so we'll see. Either way. This is an album to listen to.

And just for reference: Here's the best albums of the year so far.

1. Emery - In Shallow Seas We Sail
2. The Devil Wears Prada - With Roots Above and Branches Below
3. As Cities Burn - Hell or High Water
4. mewithoutYou - Its All Crazy! Its All False! Its All A Dream! Its Alright.
5. And Then There Were None - Who Speaks For Plant Earth?