16 November 2005


6: Paramore, Maxeen, Relient K

It's been a while since I've posted here, I know, but I intend to make it a more regular habit now that I have more free time.

For today I've got three selections to discuss: Paramore's album "All We Know is Falling", Maxeen's self-titled, and Relient K's new EP, "Apathetic".

First off, Paramore. Anyone who knows my taste in music knows that female lead singers tend to be a major strike against a band for me. Paramore is one of the rare exceptions to the rule, joining Eisley and Straylight Run in the ranks of bands that make good use of a female singer.

I discovered Paramore at the Punk Video Guys' MySpace site, where they have a truly fantastic video. I've always been a whore for acoustic lo-fi, and this video delivers a raw energy from the singer that raises the hairs on my neck. I recommend Punk Video Guys in general; there's a good deal of excellent material on that site.

From there, the search went to iTunes, where I got their entire album. The album is immediately listenable and exhibits a soulful innocence that draws you in hard.

It's possible that my interest in Paramore is partly a reaction to the flood of Fall Out Boy sound-alikes, (see Panic! At the Disco, The Academy Is...) but that's not to say that a lot of bands that sound like Fall Out Boy is a bad thing, necessarily. Fall Out Boy sounds good, and one can hardly blame The Academy Is... for sounding so much like a band they developed practically alongside.

Up next, we have Maxeen. Maxeen is one of those bands that your favorite band listens to, one of those bands whose stickers you see everywhere, and yet also one of those bands of which there don't seem to be any actual fans. I was curious, so I took a listen on iTunes, and it's a love affair.

The sound that Maxeen cultivates has been described as "the Police on metamphetamines", and that's appropriate at times. The hyperactive punk sound is mostly pure here, moving only occasionally into the realm of hardcore and occasionally emo. The overall feel of the album, though, is that wake-you-up-in-the-morning unapologetic sound that I've missed in recent years.

If you've got some spare change lying around, check out Maxeen's self-titled album. I guarantee you'll need less coffee in the morning.

Relient K is a band that's been through a lot of change lately. With the release of their latest full-length, "Mmhmm," they've captured a much larger and more diverse audience than they've ever enjoyed before. Finally exploring a little of their hardcore side with songs like "Which to Bury, Us or the Hatchet," there's a Relient K revealed under all that old softness that has enormous potential.

With their latest EP, they've moved just a little back towards their roots, with more repeated power chords and sugary harmonies. It's good to hear an edge remaining at times through songs like "The Truth" and "Apathetic Way to Be". The formulaic Christian-rock style sticks a little bit here, but doesn't control the quality of the new tracks too much. Fans of the old Relient K should find a lot to like in "In Like a Lion (Always Winter)" with it's sweet harmonies and heartfelt melody.

Where the album really shines, though, is in the acoustic re-recordings of songs from Mmhmm. They really show their musical ability on these, ripping through songs that I would have thought appropriate only for electric guitars with acoustic poise. Their acoustic treatment of "Which to Bury..." is a perfect companion to the plugged-in version.

In other news, the Gratitude/The Spill Canvas concert I was planning to attend in Indianapolis Nov. 20th has been cancelled. What this means is that I'll have to catch The Spill Canvas somewhere on the West Coast if I want to see them again anytime before next fall.

29 July 2005


5: Houston Calls, Defining Moment, Mourning Maxwell

Once again bolstered by absolutepunk.com, Houston Calls is some really great alternative with strong melodies over energetic if simple guitar work.

Check out Houston Calls on purevolume.com and download two tracks for free.

While I was attending Warped Tour, the guys from Defining Moment were kind enough to provide me with their demo at reduced cost. Looking back, I would have paid a lot more for these six songs. They have dominated every playlist I make, and I can't wait for more from Defining Moment.

Definitely check these guys out. Unfortunately, they're currently only offering three streamable tracks through purevolume, but it's worth the trip.

Also while attending Warped Tour, I was reminded of a band I had listened to but had forgotten about of late. Mourning Maxwell was also kind enough to provide not one, but two demos for us, and they have been getting a pretty heavy rotation on my playlist. I especially like the acoustic cuts included with one of the two EPs.

Check out Mourning Maxwell on purevolume, where you can get 3 songs for free.

15 July 2005


4: My Dream Rewrite, Bob Dylan (sort of)

One of my friends has a somewhat nebulous sort of music project centered around himself called My Dream Rewrite, and it's definitely worth following. The power of the lyrics, to me, is incredible. That feeling may be slightly enhanced by the fact that I know, at least vaguely, what a lot of them are about, but I think it'll transfer.

He's got a few recordings bouncing around various places, two on purevolume, and a new song available through his blog, here. I love the new song. A lot. I've had it about as long as I've been listening to it, which is to say 15 minutes, and it is amazing.

In what may be the greatest single event in music history, nay, history itself, the Drive-Thru Records bands are doing a tribute album to Bob Dylan. Many of the tracks are available to preview free now, and when this album comes out I will be first in line for it, make no mistake.

Check out Listen to Bob Dylan at purevolume and I think you'll see what I mean. There are those who say that the very idea is sacrilege, but I think it's a fantastic way to bring the brilliance of Bob Dylan - lyrically and musically - to a new audience. Favorites for me include Jason Mraz's rendition of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and Something Corporate's take on "Just Like a Woman," but there's so much good here it's hard to pick any one song.

13 July 2005


3: Coheed and Cambria, Jack's Mannequin, The Shins/Iron and Wine

Coheed and Cambria is one of the best bands on the planet. Many people would disagree with me on that, but in my opinion the level of creative genius, musicality, and sheer rockingness of CoCa makes them a band not to be missed.

Their new album is due out in late September, and I am ridiculously excited. The first single is available now. Download it here, or visit the band's website (which contains the song) here.

Lately AbsolutePunk has been paying a lot of attention to Jack's Mannequin, so I had to give it a shot. I am, in a word, impressed. Featuring the lead singer from Something Corporate with a similar sound, this stuff is amazing.

Check out Jack's Mannequin at their site (with two amazing streamable tracks), and check this out as well... I'd discuss it, but it's better left where it is.

I hate to admit it, but I don't really like The Shins that much. My life was, sadly, unchanged by Natalie Portman's music in Garden State. I do, however, love Iron and Wine. It reminds me of someone for reasons that are exceedingly random, but I think you'll like the music without that particular incentive.

So, when it comes to The Shins (okay) plus Iron and Wine (wonderful), I'm game... and it pays. Together they've created a new version of "New Slang" (a good song to begin with) that is sublime. Check it out on iTunes (sorry, not currently free.)

07 July 2005


2: The Early November, Minus the Bear, Jeff Klein

For the relationship-related verse, few have done it better than The Early November. Now, with their latest Acoustic EP, they've taken a great sound and boiled it down to seven really beautiful songs. Since their last album their vocals seem to have improved, but are still rough around the edges enough to remain powerfully immediate.

No free downloads on this one, I'm afraid, but if you've got iTunes check out The Acoustic EP by The Early November.

One of the more independently-minded bands you'll find nowadays, Minus the Bear is great music in an unfamiliar package. With a strong, unusually deep-voiced lead singer and occasionally rough-edged guitar work, their sound is a welcome change from the prevailing sweetness of the age.

Check out Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!! and Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked for free or stream music from their multimedia site with (evil) RealPlayer.

For a smoother sound, check out Jeff Klein. With a voice foreshadowed by the cigarette and drink on his album cover, his songs are melodic and melancholy, with strong rhythms that carry you along with the sound of his voice.

Again, no free stuff on this one, but check out Jeff Klein's new album, The Hustler, on iTunes.

05 July 2005


1: Anberlin, Say Hi to Your Mom, The Wedding Present

Earlier this summer Anberlin released their latest album, Never Take Friendship Personal. Following their first release, Blueprints for the Black Market, this album makes it clear that Anberlin has the power to become and remain a force in the scene. Their guitar work is simple and powerful, their melodies are good, and their lyrics are great to sing along with.

Check out the title track from their new album, along with 5 other freely available songs, right here. Pay special attention to "Never Take Friendship Personal", "A Day Late", "Time and Confusion", and "Ready Fuels"

A band I've touched on before that is absolutely worth a look is Say Hi to Your Mom. Listen to them now before they're incredibly popular. With spacey lyrics about topics like breaking up with a girlfriend because she beat your video game high score or meeting someone at a laundromat, Say Hi to Your Mom is fantastic for any mood.

You want to hear "Let's Talk About Spaceships", "Blizzard", and "Dimensions and Verticals", available free. If you've got $0.99, check out "Pop Music of the Future" on iTunes.

Last for the day, but not least, we have The Wedding Present. I don't know where these old farts came from on their latest album, "Take Fountain", but they have some of the best guitar lines I've ever heard, coupled with ballad-ey vocals.

No free music of theirs that I've seen, but if you've got a copy of iTunes, check out "Always the Quiet One" and "I'm From Further North Than You." If you don't find yourself singing this stuff in the shower I'll... umm... be surprised.

How's the format? Suggestions are welcome, hit the comment box. Please tell me what you liked, what you hated, which songs hit you the hardest... I do this for you; make it as good as you can.


And so the Music Blog Begins...

Let's hope no one gets arrested... as far as I know, everything I plan to do with this blog is entirely legal. Let's hope I know what I'm talking about.

First things first.

This is to be a blog dedicated to music. I plan to use it as an excuse to bounce around the internet looking for and listening to good music for hours on end. If you don't like my music, tough. Leave a comment and I'll consider your suggestion. If you still don't like it, try somewhere else.

To properly make use of this blog, you will need iTunes. I know a lot of you are probably averse to iTunes for whatever reason, and it's up to you. But, I recommend it. Highly. It allows you to preview 30-second clips of songs prior to purchase, a feature which I find invaluable to the hunt for new music.

Before I begin, thank you to all the bands out there who make the music. Thank you to sites like PureVolume. I'll think of more thank yous later.

And so it begins...

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