Waterparks-Double Dare Album Review

Three-piece pop rock band, Waterparks, formed in Houston, Texas in 2011. The young group are signed to Equal Vision Records and released their debut album, Double Dare on November 4 and another EP earlier in 2016. Additionally, they also have two EPs, which were released in 2012 and 2014. The signing to Equal Vision has helped them find and develop their sound and is greatly improved upon on Double Dare.

This record showed the band discovered the delicate balance between pop rock and a more pop sound created by the use of a variety of electronic effects. Some songs lean towards either side of this spectrum, but the record as a whole is balanced. It shows that Waterparks experimented with different elements and carefully crafted a product that shows them all off in their own unique ways. Nothing is overpowering or overwhelming, it’s a blend that the listener won’t be able to get enough of.

“Hawaii (Stay Awake):” This song serves as a nice introduction to the sound Waterparks is established with this record. It’s a good introduction to Awsten Knight’s vocals and the mix of pop rock with electronic effects they utilize in their songs on this album. The effects like the ones used in the background of the chorus. Knight’s voice is so easy to listen to and seems to put you in the trance that is Waterparks through the blended elements the boys incorporated.

“Gloom Boys:” This song, along with the whole album is fun to listen to, and the pre-chorus shows that off. Knight sings this part of the song quickly and creates a special effect that can’t be achieved with simply the electronic sounds. A glow/starry effect with the slight twinkle sound is created in the chorus and between that and the hard rock/Knight’s vocals, new layers are added. Like many other songs on Double Dare, the catchiness of the instrumentals does not cause the lyrics to suffer. Knight creates creative but fun lyrics, which isn’t easy to achieve, especially for their first album. An example of the lyrics is, “I brought a knife to a gun fight, I brought my words to a fist fight…”

Stupid for you: In the beginning, they mention colors like “natural blue,” which comes from one of their older songs, “I’m a Natural Blue.” The high pitched “hey” in the chorus is a wonderful addition that improves upon the chorus. Knight’s vocal talent is unique and the way he goes from soft vocals before he explodes into harder vocals at points of the chorus creates depth. Like all the rest of the songs on this record, this is a fun song that makes the listener want to get up and dance. Like “Gloom Boys,” there is still no lack of creative lyrics, especially the use of this metaphor: “You’re a symphony and I’m just a sour note.”

“Take her to the moon:” This track is the most pop song on the record, but is one of the best Parts of the chorus seem like they could be featured in an Owl City song, with the use of the starry electronic effects. These types of effects are used the most in this song but they are scattered throughout. A technique like this allows for more emphasis on them when paired with the instrumentals.  And Waterparks makes it work so perfectly. The verse and the pre-chorus are so different, with what seems like alternating vocals, but it’s still one vocalist. He sings back and forth with himself, as if he were singing a duet with someone else.

“Made in America:” Putting the most pop song next to a hard rock one in the track list creates such a great contrast. This is a fast-paced pop rock song that has more emphasis on the instrumentals, but still has those slight electronic effects. Like in the verse, they use an effect that is similar to a synth sound. The topic of this song reminds me of Green Day’s work, as Waterparks uses certain diction when describing American culture. “We’re made in America/We’re classic hysteria/We’re culture cashing, hazard smashing.”

“Powerless” and “21 Questions:” These are the two slow songs on this record and both feature acoustic sounds. “Powerless” has a more explosive chorus, with the introduction of drums and guitars, meanwhile “21 Questions” keeps the acoustic track for the majority of the time. “Powerless” has a story element to it, which Knight auditorily paints for the listener. “21 Questions” is a rawer sound, since it sounds like just the acoustic guitar and Knight’s voice. Those vocals sound the most different out of the whole album, not as magical like on the other tracks. Both songs show off his vocal talent in a different but special way.

“Little Violence:” This song sounds like the hardest hitting, because of Knight’s aggressive vocals. Although it has these hard-hitting guitars, drums, and even vocals, the band still makes the electronic effects work. Knight can transition from the vocals listeners are familiar with featured on the rest of the record to the aggressive ones in little time.

“Plum Island:” The intro doesn’t even sound like a Waterparks song, but it’s easy recognizable once the chorus hits. The way the guitar erupts after the chorus and leads back into the drums shines with the electronic effects that are added. They can be heard after the second chorus very clearly, it’s a dreamy synth sound. There’s different aspects of this song, that are separate but when put together they fit, even though it doesn’t seem like they would when they are apart. From the hard guitar/drum combo at parts, to pure electronics, to the mix of instrumentals and electronics, all work wonderfully.

Double Dare is a work of art that hooks the listener from start to finish, and achieving an experience that cannot compare to many other releases. It creates another realm of starry and unique effects that listeners get to wander around in for 44 minutes. This album is an experience no one will want to miss out on.

Rating: 9.5/10

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Set It Off-Upside Down Album Review

Set It Off originated as a pop band then moved into the genre of pop rock for many of the records, specifically Horrible Kids and Cinematics. They then changed to be a bit more pop on Duality, while still holding their ground as a rock band. This is the sound that Set It Off is, except with their new album, Upside Down, things have changed. This album is very much on the pop side of the pop rock genre and there are mixed reviews. This is not the direction they should have went; after all they really shine in the rock sound.

“Something New:” It’s a nice introduction to the album, it sounds like it would belong on Duality. The drums on this track shine the most though, even though the other rock elements are toned down. Also, they added a trumpet to many songs on this record and it works well on this song specifically. It adds a new dynamic and expands their genre, similarity to Yellowcard because they have a violinist. The beginning of the album has a consistent theme of optimism and this song exemplifies this well.

“Uncontainable:” The most “rock” song on the record, which is extremely disappointing. It sounds the most like old Set It Off, but it’s sad that there are only two songs that really feel like them. The theme of this one is very similar to “Something New,” and is a perfect song to pump up anyone and get them off their feet.

“I’m taking the crown, I’m taking it now, we never look back we’re uncontainable.”

“Life Afraid:” Once the album hit this song, it was disappointing. This song started the major transition of the album to ‘pop.’ Listeners who are fans of this kind of sound will probably enjoy it, but it’s not the sound many fans of Set It Off’s older songs are like.

“Want:” This song is a step up from “Life Afraid” and the not so stand out title track, “Upside Down.” The drums are back to what Maxx Danziger does best, playing drums to a rock song. It’s unfortunate that for most of the songs the band had him play such simple pop genre sets. Vocalist, Cody Carson, sounds much better on this song. He sounds more emotional and the listener can understand that this song has some meaning to him. His vocal range is shown off too, specifically his range for high notes.

“Diamond Girl:” Another song that they added the trumpet into the chorus, but it does not work as well as it did it “Something New.” It would sound better if they had added a guitar instead, since the trumpet interrupts Carson’s vocals. Most of the lyrics on this album are also very simple and not the complex writing that Carson is capable of. This song is the most lyrical complex though. There are metaphors through the whole thing, which is refreshing for this record.

“You’re a one of a kind fixed in gold…You were a gem lost in the rough.”

“Admit It:” From this song and on, the themes get more intense and there is more emotional poured into the lyrics and even in Carson’s vocals. In many of their previous records, Carson constantly sang about someone he disliked, some can even say hated, and this is continued with this song and some after.

“Just admit you dug your own grave and now you’re buried.”

“Hypnotized:” As for the emotion in Carson’s voice, it is shown off the most in “Hypnotized.” At some points it sounds like he’s rapping and the listener can hear his anger, it’s so prominent that this is the most aggressive song. He clearly has some built up frustration with someone and that is clearly presented in this track.

“I heard you been lyin’ and tryin’ to shit on my name talkin’ behind my back.”

“Me W/O Us:” It was nice to hear the band choose to wrap up the album with an acoustic song, but it sounds too much like it belongs on the radio. The chorus specifically reminds me of a Justin Bieber song. It’s pretty and has a beautiful meaning, but more was to be expected from Set It Off.

Depending on what sound you prefer from Set It Off affects whether or not you’ll enjoy this record. It can be clearly stated that fans of the old rock side of them will not choose to purchase or even listen to this album. The song writing is mediocre, with the exception of some songs, the sound is too ‘pop’ and not enough rock and it sounds like it could be so much better. Especially since they have been working on it for so long.

Rating: 5/10

Music Recommendations-October 2016

I listen to a lot of music, this is nothing new. And I listen to a variety of rock/alternative artists so I figured that I would share with you all who I would recommend you listen to.

Catfish and the Bottlemen:

I have never been a huge fan of the indie/alternative side of rock music because I was never exposed to it. Then when I heard “Soundcheck” by them, I was hooked. I instantly looked up their debut, The Balcony, and after listening to it straight through I knew these guys were something special. After I listened to their newest record, The Ride, I wasn’t as big of a fan of it as I was with their debut, but it still has their flare to it. Songs like “Soundcheck” and “Oxygen” are some of my favorites.

Recommended Songs: “Cocoon,” “Hourglass,” “26,” “Soundcheck” and “Oxygen.”

This Wild Life:

I discovered this acoustic duo last year and loved their debut record, Clouded. Now, their second album, Low Tides, was released last month and I finally got around to listening to it. And I am so glad that I did. This record is the perfect mix of pure acoustic to some “harder” songs with some great quality lyrics. Kevin’s inspiration for this record is clear in some songs but harder to pick out in others. That’s what makes it so great, it’s simple but complex at the same time. This is a must listen record for 2016.

Recommended Songs: “Hit the Reset,” “Brick Wall,” “Pull Me Out” and “Red Room.”

Forever Ends Here:

This is one of the bands I recommended in my Up and Coming Artists post in August and I still stand by that. I have loved this not as known band especially for their EP’s and I say the same for their debut record, Imagine This. It strays away slightly from their harder rock sound in their EP, From Where I’d Rather Be, and uses some synth effects and such but it still sounds really good. All the songs are catchy and give you another reason to listen to these guys.

Recommended Songs: “Chapters,” “Search the Night,” “Fell From the Stars” and “Send Me Crazy”

“Okay”-As It Is:

This is the newest single by UK band, As It Is, which I just wrote a post about. Just listen to the song, it’s great.

Neck Deep:

Ever since the release of Life’s Not Out To Get You, I have been obsessed with this band. I’ve been listening to them since they released this record and went back to listen to their older stuff and enjoy it just as much as their newest record. They are one of the best pop punk bands I have ever heard and are dominating the genre right now. I’m looking forward to their newest music because I know it will be amazing.

Recommended Songs: “Lime St.,” “Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors,” “December,” “Damsel in Distress” and “Candour.”

As It Is – “Okay” review

For those who follow the UK pop punk band, As It Is on social media then you know how slightly active the band was until four days ago. They announced their new album, Okay to be released on Jan. 20, 2017 and streamed their lead single, “Okay.”

They began their ‘teasing’ by posting a series of pictures on Instagram that formed this picture when they were put together:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon after, they released lyrics to their lead single, “Okay,” ‘I don’t think that I’m okay.” Along with that, they posted a variety of pictures that look like they were taken in the 1950s with the reoccurring logo that said, ‘Happy Co.’

Finally, on Sept. 22 they announced their album and single and “Okay” was streamed through their label, Fearless Records.

As for the song, I am enjoying their sound that their second album will take on. It’s still true to the sound from Never Happy, but with a new twist that I can’t seem to identify. Whatever it is, I’m liking it.

Vocalist, Patty Walter’s voice sounds as if it is improving as they continue and grow as a band. I already loved how it sounds in their previous songs, but I am enjoying it even more in this song. My only slight problem is the lyrics are not as complex as their previous songs, they are more simplified. That was a bit of a disappointment since I am used to their unique writing style and lyricism. So, I hope that continues on the other songs from this record.

Needless to say, I am a huge fan of this band and this single. I, along with other fans, have been long awaiting new material from them and this makes me excited for the rest of the record.

Rating: 8/10

 

Concert Experience: Warped Tour 2016

Now that school is starting back up, it’s the official end to summer. The weather is still warm, (it’s going to be 90 degrees at my school this week), but it doesn’t have that summer feel when we’re sitting at desks copying notes, writing essays and much more. I want to reflect on one of my favorite parts of summer, Warped Tour. There’s nothing like an all day music festival, despite the oppressive heat, sweat rolling down from everywhere and the fact that everything is expensive, there’s nothing much better than being able to see a plethora of bands all in one day. It really is the ultimate concert experience.

This was the second year that I’ve been to Warped and although last year was incredible, this year surpassed it. I got to see all the bands I came in wanting to see, which was an accomplishment in itself. Plus, I met four different bands, which was probably the best part. Here’s a breakdown of who I saw:

With Confidence:

If you’re a fan of pop punk then you probably know who these boys are. They are one of my favorite bands that I saw this year and are so good live. I was a bit nervous about how they were going to sound but I have to say I was blown away. Everything about their performance was great, they had so much energy even with playing on the smallest stage. Afterwards, I met them and they are the sweetest and really genuine guys. They are going to hit it big time, I have a feeling. If you haven’t heard of them, listen to their newest record, Better Weather, I adore it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Champs:

If you read my first ever entry on my blog then you know how much I love State Champs. They are one of my favorite bands and I love everything they’ve ever released. So when I found out they were going to be on Warped Tour, that was it. I would have went just for them if I had to. Their live show lived up to every expectation I had and then surpassed them. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing they were, so I’ll put a link of their live set underneath. After their set, I wanted to go find their signing but since there were other bands I wanted to see, I didn’t go. Later in the day, one of my friends wanted to get one of their shirts so I just went with her even though I already bought one. To my surprise, the vocalists, Derek DiScanio, was standing at their tent with hardly any people around so I got a picture with him.

Live Set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B88s68yQzJY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROAM:

I featured this band in my Up and Coming bands for August and seeing them live reaffirmed that decision. They had some of the most energy out of all the bands I saw at Warped. They sound similar live as they do on their record, and like the record they are a bit difficult to understand at times because of their thick English accents. But these boys know how to jam and work the stage. After their set I also met them and they were so appreciative of everyone who came. They are definitely worth checking out, so I would take a listen to their newest record, Backbone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayday Parade:

This band is one of the first that got me into the rock/alternative scene and being able to see them live was one of the best part of my day. I’ve been listening to their music for at least three years now and they caused me to keep looking up new bands and discovering the music I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for them. I don’t think I even have to say how great they were live, just listen to them if you’re not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those were the main bands I went to see, I also saw:

  • Issues
  • Sum 41
  • Emarosa
  • Set It Off
  • Tonight Alive
  • Real Friends
  • The Color Morale

 

Discover: Up and Coming Artists to Watch – August

I decided I wanted to switch things up from simply reviews and make some more diverse content. I enjoyed reading a post like this by Evening Coffee about upcoming bands to look out for and I listen to a decent amount of smaller bands so I figured I would give them the spotlight that they deserve.

Broadside:

This is a band that has been getting a bit of attention lately, they are on the Warped Tour lineup this year, playing the Full Sail University stage. The release of their debut album, Old Bones, seems to be giving the band the popularity they have earned. The record is great all the way through, from track 1: “A Place to Lay Your Head” to the title and final track: “Old Bones.” They are an upcoming pop punk band that everyone who claims they defend the genre needs to check out.

https://i1.wp.com/images.victoryrecords.com/300/broadside.jpg Source: victoryrecords

Label: Victory Records

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/broadsideva/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Broadsideva

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BroadsideVEVO/videos or through Victory Records: https://www.youtube.com/user/VictorVTV

ROAM:

This band is another that is on Warped Tour this year so they have a following, similar to Broadside. They are known as good friends with another U.K band, As It Is and another high energy, pop punk band. They have released three EP’s since 2012 and have no released their debut album, Backbone. This album has some great stand out tracks like “Hopeless Case,” “Deadweight” and “Leaving Notice,” along with many others. The band stands out with fast tempo songs but still is able to slow things down for acoustic song, “Tracks.” Definitely give them a listen, whether pop punk’s your thing or not.

Source: facebook

Label: Hopeless Records

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roamuk/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ROAMse

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3LsLtvejFXfP3sLT-5_O5w or through Hopeless: https://www.youtube.com/user/HopelessRecords

Forever Ends Here:

Now these boys are not on a label, unlike the previous bands, but that does not mean they have less talent by any means. They are a pop rock, Australian band and are no strangers to touring around their home country. In fact, they are joining Simple Plan in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne this September. They put out an EP, From Where I’d Rather Be, along with a good amount of singles and a couple covers. In addition, they announced their debut album, Imagine This, which comes out August 19. Some songs I recommend listening to are “Send Me Crazy,” “Oceans Away” and “Search the Night” to get a feel for what there newest album will sound like.

Source: facebook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/foreverendshere/home

Twitter: https://twitter.com/foreverendshere

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwKamd0jjoSzgRilG6TBdjw

A Story Told:

Turns out when you are searching for rock covers of songs, you find some pretty amazing bands. I found these guys from cover they did of “What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber and it was that cover that made me listen to their originals, which are just as great. They’ve released two EPs, Fall Back and What Got Me Here in the First Place, and most recently their debut album, Keep Watch. They are more in the Alternative Rock genre, but do not let that scare you off if you are a fan of something completely different. All their releases have such catchy tracks, including “The Hardest Part” and “Whatever it Takes” from What Got Me Here… and “Where You Wanted to Be,” “All of You” and “Cold Blooded” from Keep Watch. There’s so much great music to be heard by this band and I am hoping they take off because they have the ability to be a band everyone in the scene knows about.

Source: facebook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/astorytoldband/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AStoryToldBand

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/astorytoldband/feed

“What Do You Mean?” Cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U01kmJkiGF0

7 Minutes in Heaven:

This Alternative Rock trio from Chicago, Illinois have a unique sound that is shown through there three EPs, Get in the Van!, The Statement and Side Effects. The first one was created by 1/3 of the band, Timmy Rasmussen, but then met the other two members and they created the two latter records. Although they do not have their debut album yet, I am patiently hoping they will announce one soon since I am craving new music from them. They are familiar with touring out of van, since the band has been doing that since 2014, and are willing to work hard and make a name for themselves in the genre. I cannot even recommend any songs because I absolutely love them all and no matter what one you listen to you cannot go wrong.

Source: facebook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/7MIHband/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/7MIHband

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/7MIHband/featured

 

Chasing Morgan:

Out of all the bands I mentioned, Chasing Morgan are probably one of the least popular but they definitely are a hidden gem. Their pop punk sound is drawn from popular bands today but still their own (and even if you are not a fan of pop punk, you should still give them and the other pop punk bands a try, you might your new favorite band!) They have a variety of EPs so far, the newest one being Remember When, which is my favorite but they do have some stand out songs from their older EPs. “Harco,” “Runaway Letter” and “Pick Up the Phone” are my personal favorites.

Source: facebook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chasingmorgan/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chasingmorgan

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ChasingmorganTV/featured

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this new feature I’ll be doing every once in a while! I enjoy discovering new artists and I am sure that other people do as well and this is a fun way of sharing them.

All Time Low-Put Up or Shut Up review

In order to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the EP that helped them “Break out,” with the help of Hopeless Records, I revisited this iconic work of All Time Low art and explain why this EP is considered timeless. Put Up or Shut Up consists of seven fun and meaningful songs to show where one of the most popular bands in the pop rock scene began.

Some EP’s that I have listened to do not flow or have songs that seem like they all fit together. This does make sense since the point of an EP is to show of what the band can do without worrying about how cohesive the work is. However, this one surprised me because the songs do sound like they fit together, which in itself shows off the talent these boys  has.

Although there are not any themes that stood out to me, “The Girl’s a Straight Up Hustler” and “The Party Scene” both have references to a girl staying forever 17. “I’ll be waiting miles and miles away, leaving you forever 17,” from “The Girl’s…” and “Stay 17, the party scene has got the best of me and you,” from “The Party Scene.”

“Coffee Shop Soundtrack” is of course the lead single and first track on this EP and this song shows how timeless, not only this record is, but All Time Low as a whole. Even though the sound of this song is different than songs from their newest release, Future Hearts, listeners can still hear how the sound they have in Put Up or Shut Up still resonates in their records, 10 years later. It is a wonderful thing to be able to go back to older releases from bands and appreciate it as much as the newer ones.

“The Girl’s a Straight Up Hustler:” this song is a special one to All Time Low fans because the band calls their fans, “Hustlers.” It’s a term that really brings the band to closer to them. Musically, the bridge is my favorite part of this song, it’s so unique and allows listeners to prominently hear Jack Barakat’s, lead guitar and backup vocalist and Zack Merrick’s, bass guitar and backup vocalist, vocals alongside Alex Gaskarth’s, lead vocalist.

“Jasey Rae” has fast paced verses with a slower, drawn out chorus. Instead of keeping the consistent pacing, All Time Low switched things up to have Gaskarth singing more extended notes on certain parts while Barakat and Merrick continue the up tempo notes. Lyrically, this song is full of some of the best on the EP. For example the line, “I’ve never told a lie and that makes me a liar,” is one that stands out to me.

“Lullabies” is the most diverse song because it has so many different elements to it; there are acoustic parts, a slower chorus, a faster tempo before the second chorus and even a slight scream by Gaskarth. This song is the main one that shows off all the band’s talents and abilities instead of sticking to the same formula for each track. Lyrically there are great lines from the opening, “Make it a sweet goodbye, it could be for the last time and it’s not alright” to part of the chorus, “Sing me to sleep, I’ll see you in my dreams.” The “Sing me to sleep” line flows well with the name of the song, I enjoy how they made that work together.

This EP is so special to the fans and band alike because it is a demonstration of how far the band has come while staying true to the sound they believe is All Time Low. This band is breaking out, kicking and screaming and all the tracks on Put Up or Shut Up still stand out and hold the test of time. If you are an All Time Low fan and have not listened to this EP, I would recommend it. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a band’s newer releases, but there is something special about returning to the old favorites.

Stay Connected:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/alltimelow/?fref=ts

Twitter:

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ALLtimeLOW

You can also find them on Hopeless Records:

https://www.youtube.com/user/HopelessRecords