Of Mice & Men Review

wpid-of_mice_and_men_album_cover-g85zkzncwr3g.jpgWhen band members leave to start their own bands, usually the result is something completely different than what the originating band was doing. This is why we usually see bands breaking up because of creative differences, and then multiple bands appear from the smoldering wreckage and become hit or miss groupings. Austin Carlisle (formerly of Attack Attack) decided to step out and start another band, going by the name Of Mice & Men, named after the novella. What is not surprising in the least is that Carlisle’s band is not that far off from what Attack Attack is. In fact, some may even venture to say the band takes what Attack Attack does and made it infinitely better. Sticking with the hardcore/screamo style, the debut self-titled album takes a very over-done scene genre and improves it ten-fold. Continue reading

Review: Onward To Olympas, “This World Is Not My Home”

It’s a new year, and with each new year comes an onslaught of new bands and new talent to be judged and reckoned with. Hardcore is definitely one of the styles that tends to be fought over by an uncountable number of bands, each trying to bring something new to the table. Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina comes the hardcore act Onward To Olympas, recently signed to Facedown Records and releasing their debut full-length, This World Is Not My Home. The title seems to say it all, as these guys are not ashamed of being called a Christian band, and finding themselves a deal with a predominantly Christian label such as Facedown. But is the record worth a listen as one of the first hard bands to debut in 2010?

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Best of 2009: Part 2, Albums of the Year

Rather than going through and commenting on my top 10, and because it was actually a good year for music overall, I decided to throw together a massive list of everything I thought was great this year. Here they are. If you want to hear more about them, let me know and I can probably tell you/write about it. Continue reading

Best Of The Year List: Part 1 – Best New Artists

Every year, I put out a top 10 list of best albums from that year. This year, I gave myself a bit more of a challenge by splitting that list into three parts: Best New Artists, Albums of the Year, and Songs of the Year. This first post (of 3) will give some brief descriptions of some of the best new artists I discovered this year. Some are very well known already, while some are virtually unheard of. Here we go:

9. The Boxer Rebellion, “Union”
– These guys popped up on iTunes pick of the week earlier this week and I downloaded their album to see what got them in that pool of talent. It turns out for a band just starting out, they have direct comparison to early Coldplay, with a more raw guitar sound. “Union” is actually their second full-length, but they are only now getting relatively noticed. While I wasn’t completely impressed with the record, it has some definite strong points and shows the band has potential.

8. The Swellers, “Ups And Downsizing”
– I heard about this band because of their inclusion to Paramore’s most recent tour, and they also are the newest signing to the Fueled By Ramen label. The guys are good friends with the members of Paramore, and for good reason, they’re equally as good musicians. Originating from Flint, Michigan, these guys have toured the country extensively already, and were introduced originally to touring audiences in 2005 on Warped Tour. Their technical second record, “Ups and Downsizing” showcases a harder punk rock sound, with accompanying vocals that fit the band very well. Look for these guys to do nothing but improve in the next few years.

7. The Dangerous Summer, “Reach For The Sun”
– Sometimes I simply download albums because the band decided on a really creative and interesting album cover. The Dangerous Summer was one of these, and this Maryland-based band impressed me just as much with their alternative rock sound. After getting signed to Hopeless Records, they released this album, “Reach For The Sun”. The best thing about these guys is that they write songs that can relate to their audience, with all the emotion and feelings that come with it. Songs like “Weathered” and “Settle Down” showcase an emotionally-driven vocalist and the music compliments it as best it can. Definitely keep an eye on these up and comers.

6. The Ascendicate, “To Die As Kings”
– New to Solidstate Records, The Ascendicate debuted earlier this year with “To Die As Kings”, which showcases a melodic hardcore sound that is hard to miss. Impressive vocals/screaming atop driving guitars and nearly biblical lyrical content, these guys are the epitome of a Christian hardcore band. Be sure to check them out, especially songs like “Fire That Kid”, and the guitar-infused onslaught of “Pride of the Brutish”.

5. Closure In Moscow, “First Temple”
– Experimentation in music can usually either be a huge success for a band or it can have devastating consequences. But when you come into the game with something new and unlike anything we’ve ever really heard before, it can bode well for that band or artist. Closure In Moscow from Australia has a certain distinct sound that can’t be really matched to anyone but a more progressive sound than that of The Mars Volta or Coheed & Cambria. “First Temple” showcases the band literally flying all over the place musically, and definitely isn’t an album to be missed. Songs like “Sweetheart” show vocalist Chris De Cinque stretching his range to nearly every octave. Don’t miss these guys.

4. I See Stars, “3-D”
– Mixing hardcore and electronica, I See Stars’ debut “3-D” proves to be an album that has been a standard nuance in current music. We can all see that electronica is making a huge comeback, with the addition of auto-tune and effects, but this band seems to do it a bit better than most. Huge breakdowns in songs like “Project Wakeup” and “The Common Hours” which are mixed with some serious screaming, running right over top a pop/punk influence, make for quite the enjoyable listening experience. Some think cheesy, some thing genius. Whatever you think, these guys are selling out shows on a regular basis. Don’t miss it.

3. And Then There Were None, “Who Speaks For Planet Earth?”
– While this is the band’s first full length album under a label, ATTWN have been around a while, but under a different style. What started out as a ferocious hardcore band with surging breakdowns has now become a quickly popular techno/rock band that showcases some of the best dance tracks ever seen in Christian music. Songs like “John Orr The Arsonist”, “Reinventing Robert Cohn” and others proves the band has staying power in their new-found home of electronica.

2. We Came As Romans, “To Plant A Seed”
– We Came As Romans is one of the newest bands on Equal Vision Records, and are another Michigan based hardcore outfit. Mixing some effects and electronic features into their hard-hitting breakdowns and screaming, the band also has some fantastic lyrics, making this one of my favorite bands this year. Brutal, yet unique in a genre that is constantly overdone, We Came As Romans has a lot going for them. “To Plant A Seed” is going to be quite a hard debut to overcome.

1. Paper Route, “Absence”
– I reviewed these guys earlier this year, and I’m still spinning their debut record, “Absence”. Electronica is back in, as I’ve said, and this is one of the bands that is pulling it off well. If you haven’t heard of them yet, get on the wagon. They’re likely going to be the next best thing, if 2009 wasn’t their year. Another plus, if you follow them on Twitter they constantly put up free downloads of remixes of their tracks done by other producers and artists. Three have been released already. Go get em.

Look soon for part 2 of my year end list, where I’ll run down the daunting task of my top 10 records of the year.

Review: Switchfoot, “Hello Hurricane”

switchfoot, hello hurricaneWhile I may be biased with this review, I understand that every band has flaws. There are no bands out there, anywhere, that will make a record that is without error or without songs that certain fans aren’t going to enjoy. That said, I jump into my most anticipated record of the year: Hello Hurricane.

Hello Hurricane is the band’s first release free of any record label, debuting off of their own imprint Lowercase People Records. Overall it is their seventh album, and the band has come out and said they’re planning on releasing a total of four records in the next coming years, starting with Hello Hurricane. Typically, Switchfoot gears towards materialism and becoming something bigger than yourself, but this record is different on so many levels. Hello Hurricane is a journey of pure love, emotion, and heartache for more in this life. Many people wondered that maybe the band would break up due to the immense success of lead singer Jon Foreman’s foray into a solo act and the start of Fiction Family, his side project with Nickelcreek’s Sean Watkins. But on this new album, new light shines onto a band that has been through it all, and has come out victorious. Continue reading

Review: Muse, “The Resistance”

Muse, The ResistanceMuse is one of those bands that pretty much anyone who’s heard of them, is a fan. Yeah, I’ve met plenty of people who don’t really get into the whole brit-rock/electro scene, but let’s face it: When you go on a world tour with only four full length albums under your belt by yourself and you sell out (90,000 tickets) the 8th largest stadium in the world, some people are obviously listening. Muse hasn’t blown up too much in the United States until only recently, with partial credit going to their contributions to both current Twilight movie soundtracks. Continue reading

Review: David Crowder Band, “Church Music”

DCB, Church MusicWorship music is a touchy subject with me, usually because so many bands and artists tend to take the name of “worship” and throw it on what they do, while many others within the CCM industry perform the cheesy, bland music that we hear on the Christian radio stations on a daily basis. Every once in a while, though, one or two bands actually come out with music that impresses me, especially in the worship genre. David Crowder Band have constantly been a driving force in Christian worship music, pushing the envelope with every album they put out. Continue reading