WSTR-Red, Green and In Between Album Review

Catchy guitar riffs, pop punk vocals, and tunes that make the listener want to bop to the beat constantly is what sums up WSTR’s debut record, Red, Green or In Between. Many of the tracks can be described as typical pop punk tracks, although WSTR pulls it off in a fun-loving manner, for the most part. There are parts on this record where certain instruments overpower other aspects on the track, which doesn’t completely destroy the song but makes it less enjoyable to listen to. One of the best aspects that this record has is the guitar; in every song they manage to make the guitar riffs, particularly the opening ones, extremely catchy.

This pop punk four piece formed in Liverpool, UK and consists of Sammy Clifford, vocals, Kieren Alder, guitar, Danny Swift, guitar, and Alex Tobijanski, bass. Their debut was released on Jan. 20 through No Sleep Records.

Red, Green or In Between kicks off with the high intensity track, “Featherweight.” It opens up with a catchy guitar riff, similarly to most of the songs on this record. One of the biggest things that WSTR did right was their guitarwork. This track did its job of introducing the album and the style that it will follow.

With most of the songs on this record, the ratio between the vocals and instrumentals are pretty good, especially because pop punk is known for a style where the instrumentals overpower occasionally. However, with some songs, the instrumentals overpower the vocals more so than they should. This happens with “Hightail” and especially “Footprints.” In “Footprints,” it’s the drums that don’t mix well because during the first verse the cymbals overpower the vocals way too much. Luckily, this doesn’t persist through the song and doesn’t take away completely from the track, but it is distracting. The acoustic version is much better.

“Lonely Smiles” is the song that shows of Clifford’s vocals the best. His voice especially during the bridge is enjoyable to listen to. The way he sounds at this point in the song isn’t going to be for everyone, but personally it sounds unique. His voice is dynamic and fluctuates in registers based on the part in the song, like the chorus and bridge.

The most stand out tracks include “Eastbound & Down,” “The Last Ride,” and “Punchline” because of how their instrumentals sound. “Eastbound & Down” sounds like it would be a slower song (at least compared to the majority of the album) then breaks out into a fast tempo track with unique guitar that sounds different from typical pop punk riffs.

“The Last Ride” has a similar intro to “Eastbound & Down” but still remains as unique. WSTR utilized overlaid vocals in the bridge, which makes it a more dynamic and stand out track.

“Punchline” starts out sounding like an acoustic song, but leads into powerful guitars and drums. The guitar at points overpowers the vocals but that is fixed as it hits the chorus, where the vocals shine. The fact that it has acoustic elements makes it the best track to complete the record.

Pop punk fans will enjoy this record because it’s a very pure pop punk album, with changes in certain songs to diversify it a bit. However, some of the songs can sound too similar and the mixing of the instrumentals and vocals can sometimes be distracting. WSTR did a good job with their debut for the genre, but should create songs more variety on their next record.

Rating: 6/10

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As It Is-Okay Album Review

UK Pop-Rockers, As It Is released their sophomore album on Jan. 20 and it takes everything they created with their debut with the addition of deeper lyrics, catchier instrumentals and more. Their debut, Never Happy Ever After created a sound that was fresh to the genre but at the same time something fans of pop rock would find difficult not to enjoy. Their second record, Okay, takes all this and improves upon it. Just by one listen it can be heard that As It Is took their time to create the best lyrics and instrumentals possible.

The album follows a theme of catchy, upbeat songs with somber lyrics. Without paying attention to the lyrics, a listener could assume the album follows happy themes, but that isn’t the case. There are deep topics that vocalist, Patty Walters, clearly had personal inspirations for. These inspirations make this album sound rawer and with more emotion than the previous.

The band formed in 2012 in Brighton, England and is made up of lead vocalist, Patty Walters, Benjamin Langford-Biss, guitar and vocals, Patrick Foley, drums, Andy Westhead, guitar, and Ali Testo, bass.

Okay begins with “Pretty Little Distance,” which instrumentally sounds like the As It Is fans know and love but with lyrics that create a whole new listening experience. It’s an upbeat and catchy pop punk song, instrumentally, with lyrics that describe what the album as a whole is about. It’s about how life throws twists and turns all the time and that bad things are always bound to happen. The lyrics, “Ain’t life swell from a pretty little distance?” implies that the way we live our lives there will always be tragedy and heartbreak.

“Until I Return” is a track that follows a similar formula as “Pretty Little Distance” does, because of how the lyrics are written. “I promise I’ll fight but I can’t promise I’ll be fine;” they explain that it’s okay not to be okay, which is another huge theme found across this record. These lyrics also explain the theme behind all the personal stories Walters is telling through each song. The fact that this track is towards the end shows contrast between the beginning with “Pretty Little Distance” and this one.

All the tracks on this record have some sort of personal experience that is written about, but there are two that stand out the most in what they are about. “Hey Rachel” and “Austen” are those two songs. “Hey Rachel” is written about Walters’ sister and how he could have been a better brother during a difficult time in her life. Meanwhile, “Austen” is a song written about Biss’s grandfather being hospitalized and his experience seeing him in that state.

Walters experimented with more topics on Okay such as relationships and being trapped within his own mind. “Patchwork Love” and “Still Remembering” discuss the topic of love, more specifically the end aspects of a relationship. In “Patchwork Love” Walters writes about a past relationship and how even though they aren’t together anymore he won’t forget or regret it and he asks her to do the same. “I won’t forget you, I won’t regret…All I ask, my one request/Don’t forget me, don’t regret me.”

“Still Remembering” is a bit different because it isn’t as clearly defined as “Patchwork Love” but the lyrics discuss a lot about endings. “When you left, not without warnings or regrets/Nothing would fill this hole in my chest/Bid your farewell…So my love, goodbye.” These lyrics make it the perfect way to end the record combined with the fact that it’s the most acoustic song. Instrumentally and lyrically, the album is being wrapped up with this track.

The topic of being mentally stuck was another idea that Walters struggled with because it made its way into some songs as well. “No Way Out” and “Soap” are two tracks that exemplify it perfectly. The lyrics in “No Way Out” explain this topic clearer than “Soap’s” but both still get the idea across in their own unique ways. In “No Way Out,” Walters experiments with some screaming vocals that work well with the song because it makes the lyrics stand out as more meaningful to him. “I shut my eyes, but my world’s still burning/I can’t escape, I feel it killing me/No way out.”

“Soap” is a bit different, not only in the fact that the lyrics are more cryptic than straightforward but because instrumentally, it is the most unique. The verses have a unique style in the way the vocals interact with the instrumentals. The vocals are mixed with a slight screaming to pair with the raw emotion created through Walters’ lyrics. “This will only take a lifetime/To bury me as deep as troubled is your mind/I’m sinking deeper into your head/I’m the lie you live in, every thought you dread.”

Every track on this record is wonderful and Okay is an album that doesn’t disappoint in any way. The instrumentals follow a pop punk sound, but have twists that make certain songs stand out and lyrics that are meaningful and personal in all of the best ways. This record is more than just a listening experience; it is an experience that makes the listener really think while still enjoying the upbeat pop punk tunes.

Rating: 9.5/10

You can stream the record here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpZL8cbLq4o&list=PLsBWlr67U5NsBbWZyypkhNmXzuJycASJr

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

With Confidence-Better Weather reivew

If you’re a fan of pop punk and have not heard of Aussie pop-rocker’s, With Confidence you need to look them up right now. Well, maybe you can spare some time to read this review of their debut album, Better Weather, first. They created their own unique sound during a time where pop punk is thriving and they created music that stands out and holds its own with bands like State Champs and Neck Deep.

The album contains multiple allusions to weather through many of their lyrics with alludes to the title, Better Weather. Like in song “We’ll Be Okay:” “I could be fire, I could be rain,” “Long Night:” “Oh how it’s raining” and in “Higher:” I’ll be the sun.” It was a fun idea to put those kind of lyrics in their songs to create a more cohesive album.

Better Weather is full of true catchy, simple pop punk tunes like “Voldemort,” “Keeper,” “We’ll Be Okay,” and “Higher.”

“Voldemort” is the perfect choice for the song to introduce their music and allow listeners to understand their sound. “Keeper” is similar to “Voldemort” because it is not complex lyrically or instrumentally but that is not bad at all.

Delving deeper, however; the album seems to increase in complexity as the album continues, which is something I can appreciate. Songs like “Archers” and “Gravity” hold ideas like not following the status quo and keeping away from normality. These kind of songs describe the band since this is their debut and they are being introduced to their career and what they have been working so hard towards. When the album hits song six, the ideas of the songs change to that of heartbreak. “Keys,” “Long Night,” “Dinner Bell” and “Waterfall” follow this theme.

“Archers” is my favorite song, it highlights choosing your own path and following your passions rather than doing what makes the most money or what everyone else wants you to do. The band knows what it is like to follow a path where no one seems to believe in you or in what you’re doing. This is a theme that sticks with me since I have been told that my career path gets you no where. Lyrics like, “We wanted more than a normal structure so live it up for the ones who told us to lead a live that we never wanted,” portray this song perfectly.

“Gravity” takes this further by vocalist, Jayden Seeley explaining that instead of following what his father did and was successful with, he wanted to forge his own path for himself. “Could’ve been a tradesman, I’d work a 6 till 3, follow my father’s footsteps,” are lyrics that vividly shows what he has most likely been told to do his whole life.

Then the songs change gears to the theme of heartbreak, another concept that many people at my age can relate to at least one point in their lives. “Long Night” is the perfect song on Better Weather that describes exactly how heartbreak feels. The song is beautiful, the piano is lovely and the previous song, “Keys ” is a successful transition into this one. The lyrics, “but now it’s just me and I lie awake and I toss and I turn and I see your face when I wake from a dream it won’t go away,” describes what it’s like to have someone on your mind and not being able to shake those memories, not even to fall asleep. It’s a real song that hits home.

“Waterfall” is the most unique song on this record, I can’t describe what makes it that way but I know it’s a special song .The lyrics are incredibly vivid and as someone who really enjoys that kind of thing, I appreciate it greatly. However, the coolest part of the song is the ending. It ends with an automated voice saying , “You may now hang up to send your message…” and then the click of a phone turning off. Since “Waterfall” is the last song, the band is trying to get across that the whole album is representative of the thing they want to say to someone but cannot. That’s such a powerful way to end this record and it shows With Confidence’s talent in creatively as well.

Better Weather is formatted surprisingly well for the band’s debut and it shows off that the boys have a lot of special music and talent to be offered to those who want to listen to it. This song is not only a perfect record for the summer, but any season and any weather.

Stay Connected:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/withconfidence

Twitter: https://twitter.com/withconfidence_

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jaaaayden

You can also find them on Hopeless Records: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCToUNe4i9j_SlKGFl8MrQHg