Falling In Reverse – Fashionably Late

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The new release from Falling In Reverse may be the best example of musical trolling that I have ever heard.

Ronnie Radke and friends return just in time for summer of 2013 with the most eclectic release so far this year. This is a release that is generating a lot of talk and is sure to generate a lot of hatred from the bands detractors. There is good reason why, the drama surrounding the band and its polarizing front man Ronnie Radke has always outweighed their actual musical contributions. Their first release ‘The Drug In Me Is You’ was a solid mixture of metal core and bubble gum pop and was quite enjoyable for what it was. Fashionably Late retains many of the same elements that worked on their first record, and throws bits and pieces of, well, everything else in the mix.

The term “hot mess” is used a lot and is wholly appropriate here. To me it has always carried the connotation that a slew of ingredients (or musical styles) were thrown together and somehow, beyond belief, actually work together. In what feels like a genuine and intentional approach to piss off just about everyone Falling In Reverse incorporate elements of pop, metal, rap and dub-step to create an eclectic mix of tracks. Listening to Fashionably Late is like walking down a hallway in a mental hospital, every track is a closed door and one is never quite sure what lurks behind it. The opening track ‘Champion’ starts out like a traditional metal core song, harsh singing, heavy drums and shredding guitars lead into a melodic, sing along chorus. Then, at two minutes in the track breaks down into an a capella rap verse complete with a back-beat and some electric violins. Just when you start wrapping your head around this, the breakdown hits and the song refrains back to its original metal roots. Then, to add juxtaposition the next track ‘Bad Girls Club’ is basically a pop punk track that would not be out of place on something from Blink 182 or Good Charlotte. Playful and fun it’s one of those songs that will find yourself singing a few hours later without realizing it.

Those two are a great representation of what to expect over the next 15 tracks (the deluxe release includes bonus material including a remix of the song Rolling Stone). Joining Radke this time around is returning guitarists Jacky Vincent and Derek Jones. Replacing departed members are drummer Ryan Seaman and bassist Ron Ficcaro. Vincent is an excellent musician, and one of the big things that I was lacking on this release was his solo work that was quite prevalent on the band’s first album. It may be the greater addition of electronic elements here that tones down, though the songs that are more on the rock/metal edge has the band sounding fantastic. The production is excellent, and the shifting musical styles gave my speakers and headphones an excellent workout.

This release is going to generate a lot of hate in the music community. Metal and hard rock fans are notorious for their hatred when a band or artists does anything to compromise so called “integrity”. Falling In Reverse succeeds here though. Yes, some tracks are a little off. Alone is basically a rap song with breakdowns thrown into the mix. Drifter is a country song, a pop infused one, but a country song nonetheless. Radke and friends did not set out to appease the masses here, and in the end they are most likely sitting back and laughing at all of the hate (and exposure) this is going to cause. If listeners  can let go of preconceived notions of the band and genre’s in general they will find a lot to enjoy here.

3.9/5

Track list:

1. Champion

2. Bad Girls Club

3. Rolling Stone

4. Fashionably Late

5. Alone

6. Born to Lead

7. It’s Over When It’s Over

8. Game Over

9. Self-Destruct Personality

10. Fuck the Rest

11. Keep Holding On

12. Drifter

13. Where Have You Been (Bonus)

14. Goddamn (Bonus)

15. Rolling Stone (Shy Kids Remix) (Bonus)

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You, Me, And Everyone We Know – I Wish More People Gave A Shit

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Back during my initial exposure to the upbeat, bi-polar music of Say Anything, I was also intrigued by a similar sounding band by the name of You, Me, And Everyone We Know. Sure, they sounded like a Say Anything worship band, but that didn’t make their music any less enjoyable. They’ve always managed to produce witty lyricism and undeniably catchy tunes, so when I saw the title of their latest EP I couldn‘t help but chuckle. After all, does anybody give a shit? The band had practically diminished with all the drama surrounding the members and their conflicts with vocalist Ben Liebsch, so the fact that he’s still making music under the YMAEWK name is an accomplishment in itself.

I Wish More People Gave A Shit is essentially a reflection on the existence of the band and Liebsch’s life experiences as he refers to his mind taking  a “decade long walk“. It doesn’t find him treading new ground, but instead contains exactly the kind of high-energy tunes fans have come to expect from the band. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as his performance is as spastic as ever and the lyrics retain the intelligence of their past efforts. The first 3 songs are among some of the best of the band’s career and they’re generously filled with gang vocals, bouncy guitars, and huge choruses. ‘Big Mistake’ is a definite sing-a-long track while ‘Better Men’ showcases some of Liebsch’s most accessible vocals to date. However it’s the reflective opening track  ’I’d Contribute More Dead’ which finds the band at their very best with Liebsch’s vocals jumping all over the place and at times sounding eerily similar to Max Bemis. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the final track, ‘The Winds Won’t Change’ which is Liebsch’s attempt at a stripped down number with just him and a ukulele. It’s not terrible, but unlike the previous tracks it may come across as more grating than enjoyable for some listeners.

At the end of the day, this is another solid outing from YMAEWK, but if Liebsch and his crew want people to truly start giving a shit, they’re going to have to do better than coming up with a 4-song EP once a year. In their defense, the songs are pretty damn good, but it’s just not enough material to keep listeners busy for very long. Either way, it continues to prove Liebsch’s talent as a musician and adds to the long list of enjoyable pop-punk releases of 2013.

3.7/5

Tracklist for I Wish More People Gave A Shit
I’d Contribute More Dead
The Big Mistake
Better Men
The Winds Won’t Change

Sleeping With Sirens – Feel

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When did Madonna start doing post-hardcore?

That was the first thought that came to mind when listening to Feel, the latest release from Orlando based Sleeping With Sirens. Their 3rd LP finds the band bringing even more high energy pop elements into their sound. The keyboards and breakdowns have taken a back seat to more radio friendly sensibilities. It begs the question though, will this help to bring in new fans or alienate their existing ones?

Starting out the title track ‘Feel’, the energy on this album is high level. Knowing the band from their previous work, I kept waiting for the breakdown, screaming or synth to kick in, I was shocked when none of the three really happened.  Vocalist Kellin Quinn and company are quick to showcase a different sound and in earnest, it is rather effective bubble gum radio pop-punk. Safe to say for fans of the band that the more “classic” elements return quickly on the second track into the release. ‘Here We Go’ is more in line with the usual Rise Records lot of recording artists and I expected the rest of the album to follow similar fashion. Again, I was surprised when the next song returned to the more 90’s pop oriented sound, again lacking any breakdowns or screaming (barring a little hash vocals towards the very end of the track) ‘Free Now’ culminates not with a clichéd breakdown, but a swelling vocal piece that suits the track quite well.

When the third track opened in similar fashion to ‘Feel’ and ‘Free Now’ I was thinking that this was going to be the direction for the band. Sadly, that theory was proven wrong halfway through the track. There are three total guest appearances on Feel and Bad Boy records artist MGK (Machine Gun Kelly) is up first, turning a halfway decent song into something much less so. Other appearances from Shayley Bourget (formerly Of Mice and Men), Fronz (ATTILA) and Matty Mullins (Memphis May Fire) are less offensive, but ultimately unnecessary. The core unit of the band does a great job throughout and throw some great riffs into the mix. The opening salvo of ‘The Best There Ever Was’ is a prime example and fans of the band will find this track to be the most in line with their older work. Kellin Quinn (vocals) continues to be the polarizing aspect and highlight of the band. His range is excellent and the production here is done well. Returning members Justin Hills (bass), Jesee Lawson (guitar), Jack Fowler (lead) and Gabe Barham (drums) are a cohesive unit and while the songs on the album may be polarizing one cannot take away from their skill and ability.

Feel is a record that seems to be written by a band in transition. The up and down nature can be jarring to the listener. The absolute highlights are the more radio oriented tracks (Feel, Sorry, Satellites) while the others feel almost like leftovers from a previous recording or song writing session. Stripping out those tracks, and releasing this as an EP would have been a bold move, but a smart one. Looking at the entire picture though the album firmly straddles the middle line. For every flash of excellence there is an equally annoying throwback to the past. Maybe it was to avoid alienating their existing fan base, but what could have been a great pop-punk release is instead a bit of a mess.

2.9/5

Tracklist:

1. Feel

2. Here We Go

3. Free Now

4. Along (featuring MGK)

5. I’ll Take You There (featuring Shayley Bourget)

6. The Best There Ever Was (featuring Fronz)

7. Low

8. Congratulations

9. Deja Vu

10. These Things I’ve Done

11. Sorry

12. Satellites

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

http://www.riserecords.com/

Misser – Distancing

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Just one short year after their debut full length Every Day I Tell Myself…, pop-punk duo Misser have returned with their most exciting batch of songs yet. It’s rare for a side project to outdo the bands that spawned them, but if Misser’s latest effort is a sign of things to come, they’re working on something spectacular. Featuring members of Transit and This Time Next Year, Misser’s new EP Distancing  proves they’re not going anywhere as they do anything but distance themselves from the listener. In fact, it marks an improvement over their debut in just about every way as they lay down some solid groundwork to build on.

To understand how much Misser have advanced musically since their last effort, one doesn’t need to look any further than the high-octane opener ‘Goddamn, Salad Days.’ It’s one of the most aggressive songs they’ve done, as Tim Landers (Transit) steps his game up and delivers some of his harshest vocals to date which match the hardcore vibe of Brad Wiseman. He sounds better on this release as well, with what seems like his most effortless performance as his voice is more energized than ever, but he doesn’t feel forced. However, ‘Burn Out’ is the track that’s destined to turn heads with its definite Brand New vibe and the flawless vocal trade-off of Landers and Wiseman. It’s not that they sounded awkward on their last effort, but they lacked the undeniable chemistry that that’s oozing through their new EP. Every song bleeds into the next with ease as both members complement each others vocals with a newfound confidence. Other songs like the fast-paced ‘Infrared’ are shorter in length, but no less effective as they are overflowing with sing-along choruses and emo-tinged guitar lines.

It’s almost unfair to classify Misser as ‘pop-punk’ due to the various influences that are glittered throughout every song ranging from indie to hardcore, but they clearly have a pop-punk center. This center is only strengthened by the layers that surround it, and the improved vocals and instrumentation act as the glue that keeps it all intact. Apart from the music itself, the lyrics have also matured since their last venture. Lines like Nobody’s gonna save me now or Out of my godamn mind, all of the godamn time are simple, but effective and showcase the band’s ability to take somewhat pessimistic lyrics and turn them into a really good time. I can’t stress the impact good lyricism is able to have on the genre, and while Distancing doesn’t have the most meaningful lyrics I’ve heard all year, they’re above the majority of their peers and a welcome improvement over their last release, Every Day I Tell Myself…

In a year that’s already been exceptional for pop-punk fanatics, it might be a little too easy for one to overlook Misser’s Distancing, but they’d be missing out on one of the most honest, well-crafted releases of 2013. Forget the fact that it’s only an EP. There’s more worthwhile content packed into these five songs than most bands in the same playing field are able to fit into a full album. It doesn’t hurt that both members have already had experience in respectable bands, but there’s just something special that happens when they work together and thankfully their newest effort strengthens that statement as it builds a strong foundation for Misser to work with.

4.5/5

Tracklisting:

1. Goddamn, Salad Days
2. Infrared
3. Burn Out
4. Alone, Die.
5. Slow It Down // Write It Out

Falling In Reverse Release New Single

day_2__30_day_falling_in_reverse_challange_by_ronnieradke1512-d5bs9exEpitaph Records have posted a video for post-hardcore outfit Falling In Reverse’s new song “Fashionably Late” from their album of the same name. The video consists of the song as well as several images of the band. Their new album is due out June 18, but information surrounding a tour is still hazy as Ronnie Radke has allegedly fired every other member of the band. The video can be viewed using the link below.

Bad Rabbits- American Love

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One could probably count on one hand the number of albums that tickle your inner James Brown, your heart strings, and your loins with equal fervor but with American Love, Bad Rabbits have created one of those rare few. This album is funky beyond belief, dripping with sensuality, and is irresistibly charming. This unique brand of synth-drench R&B is like nothing you’ve heard this year and this virulent combination of panty-dropping vocals by Fredua Boakye mixed with the appropriately seductive instrumentals, in particular the synths which are used without restraint but very tastefully, will have you head bobbing and toe-tapping your way right to the replay button.

American Love tackles one of life’s most confounding mysteries, girls. Make no mistake this is a record to get down to, not to find any deep meanings in. Topics range from broken relationships, to dirty bitches and how to treat them, to being hopelessly in love and quite frankly, any other subject matter simply wouldn’t translate as effectively to this kind of music. The album opens with one helluva intro song, “We Can Roll”, which blasts off with a simple, but ultra-catchy hook, and the first of many stellar vocal performances by Boakye and keeps you moving right up until the end. It is Boakye that creates the sensual core contained in each of these songs and one can hear the confidence in his voice. The man sounds good and he knows it, and frequent pitch shifts and the large range he displays lets you know it too. The music is no mere background noise either. Even though the songs revolve around the vocals, the music radiates the exact same mood and flavor with funky bass lines and sharp synths contributing huge amounts of the feeling rife in this record.

As an album, American Love definitely succeeds in what it seemingly sets out to do, get jiggy wit it. Not cohesive in the slightest nor profound in anyway, this is the epitome of a fun album, the kind of music that gets stuck in your head as you try to focus on your work. The kind of music that gets you pimp walking down the sidewalk to a beat in your mind without realizing it. The hooks present are a plentiful bounty, with most songs sprouting from a damn catchy one. Simplistic? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.

American Love is not really a grower. The album has a definite theme and sticks with it for better or for worse so if you don’t like it, repeated listens will do little to sway your opinion. This stringent adherence to their niche is both the reason why Bad Rabbits will enjoy major success but is also the reason they very possibly can burn out just as fast as they rose. Hopefully, the band will continue to evolve their sound to avoid stagnation but with the sheer talent collected here, it’s really a question of which direction they choose to go rather than their ability to go down it. For now, American Love’s tantalizing  hooks will fulfill anyone’s deep seeded need to dance. You may be surprised to find your pants have taken themselves off during its playtime but it’s ok, you’re feeling good and if that’s not the point of music then what is?

4.1/5

Streaming:

http://www.boston.com/blogs/ae/music/boston-by-beat/2013/05/bad_rabbits_deliver_the_goods.html