Graywhale Finds #1

If you’re a music lover in Salt Lake, you probably know a thing or two about Graywhale Entertainment. Located about a block or so from the University of Utah Campus, Graywhale is the perfect stop to find a favorite record, movie, cd, etc.

One of my favorite things to do is browse around Graywhale looking for vinyl records. There’s a bit of a treasure-hunt-thrill to flipping through records until you find one that’s special to you.

For this article, I thought I’d share some of my favorite albums (and some that I’d never heard before) found at Graywhale.

1 ) Science Fiction by Brand New

As a long time fan of the band, Brand New, the release of the album Science Fiction in August was a big deal. The album is beautiful from start to finish and it’s apparent how much time and effort was put into making Science Fiction. It’s eerie, poignant, and definitely an album worth listening to from start to finish.

 

 

2 ) The 1975 and i like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it  by The 1975

 

While The 1975 often gets labeled as stereotypical edgy-hipster music (which might actually hold some merit), these two albums are still extremely important to me. The band uses thoughtful lyricism, intricate instrumentals, and beautiful visuals to depict aspects of life, that may seem rather mundane at times, in a poetic and artistic way. Their self-titled album has a stronger rock influence and deals more with relationships and youth, whereas their second album i like it when you sleep… is more introspective and lyrically driven.

 

3 ) Make My Head Sing… by Jessica Lea Mayfield

They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I think it worked out for the best. While I was flipping through records I was drawn to the album cover for Make My Head Sing… by Jessica Lea Mayfield. The cover depicts a child’s drawing of a girl crying, silver glitter with tiny eyes, pink and red stripes, and a fluffy red frame. The whole image is rather dark and eerie, which is a pretty accurate description of the music itself. Songs like “Party Drugs” and “Oblivious” showcase the melancholic yet melodic tone of the album.

 

4 ) Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love by My Chemical Romance

Whether you’re a fan of My Chemical Romance or not, it’s safe to say that they definitely had a way of captivating an audience and building a loyal fanbase, myself included. The band formed in New Jersey shortly after the events of 9/11 inspired lead singer, Gerard Way, to start creating music. Their first album, I Brought You My Bullets…, is dramatically different from their more popular albums like The Black ParadeI Brought You My Bullets… is raw, genuine, and sad with the gritty sound of most DIY punk records. By comparison, their second studio album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, is a lot more refined, but still has the same emotion and feel. A mix of the album’s theatrics, personal sentiment, and amazing tracklist makes Three Cheers… one of my all-time favorite records.

5 ) The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen

If you saw Green Day’s tour at USANA Amphitheatre in August, then you probably also saw the indie-rock band, Catfish and the Bottlemen, as the openers. Not only are they awesome live, but their studio albums are equally special in the fact that they capture that “live” energy. The Ride is the band’s most recent album, coming out in 2016, and probably my favorite from their discography. It discusses love, relationships, life, youth, and growing up with a striking album cover that I think aptly conveys the tone of the record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface Tour 2017

Manchester Orchestra is one of those bands that construct each song in such a way that it hits you right in the feels. Much like the band Brand New, their entire aesthetic is one of a melancholy nature, and at times just plain emo. Considering they’ve toured with them several times – it makes sense.

They’ve understandably evolved from the throttling angst of their two earlier albums, I’m like a Virgin Losing Child (2007) and Mean Everything to Nothing (2009). These two albums rivaled every emo band at that time and rightfully staked out their position in the realm of emotionally driven music. Soaring tempos with heavy drums and guitars danced with the crashing emo lyrics that are still hymned along with heightened adoration to this day.

But, that’s not to take any attention away from their new album – A Black Mile To The Surface. This album is right on track in the band’s musical evolution. Most of the tracks aren’t throwing any punches, but instead creating a steady stream of controlled sound rippling around Andy Hull’s signature vocals and seemingly meaningful lyrics. Even though the album as whole lacks the angst of prior work, it fills in the gaps with a mature vibe and thoughtful lyrics that shine against exceptional instrumentals.

While I do enjoy the new album, it inevitably brought me back to those first albums that once provided such a superb emotional outlet in my life that I decided to buy a ticket to see their upcoming show at The Complex. And the performance was everything I could have wanted.

The earlier stuff was played with vigor, forging a brilliant energy amongst the crowd, which made me wish my favorite songs were more than a nostalgic obligation at this point. However, I am aware that it is not necessarily the best perspective to take when you love different eras of band’s work- It’s all good. And the art meant to evolve to better express different times and challenges of existence that people can relate to as their life progresses.

The concert started out in the dark venue with almost hymn-like chanting in a mellow hypnotic trance; The sound began to rise and everyone cheered just to have the tempo drop, which you knew the rocking-out commenced.  

The ambiance was the perfect contrast of dark shadows painted with burning orange and yellow floor spotlights and not one person in the finely tuned post alternative group missed a beat. The soaring guitars meshed together over escalating drums and keyboard, and the ebb and flow of the tempo had every note effortlessly blended together to create a climatic orchestra of sound.

Hull and the backup vocals managed to croon each lyric in a way that appeared profound and soft to the ears. Pair this with the frequent guitar breaks in the stream of instrumental chaos, and you’ve got an amplified rollercoaster effect eliciting a wide range of emotions being emitted from the lush soundscape. The live performance reinstated their reputation to me as an immensely talented group of musicians and as I’d hoped, even inspired me to grow along with the progression of their music.

Album Review: Science Fiction by Brand New

As a long time fan of the rock/emo band, Brand New, I was more than ecstatic to find out about the release of their fifth (and most likely final) album, Science Fiction. Even though Brand New released a few singles before the official release of Science Fiction, it would be the band’s first new album in 8 years since Daisy, which was released in 2009.

As Brand New is known for, there was little marketing or press before Science Fiction’s release date, which definitely caught a lot of us off-guard when the album finally came out. But even with their minimalistic approach to marketing, they still managed to reach #1 on Top Album Sales for the week of September 9, 2017 on billboard.com

So, without further ado, here is my track-by-track review of some of my favorite songs from the poignant and solemn, Science Fiction.

1) Lit Me Up 

The song starts off with an eerie vintage recording of a therapy session where a woman retells a dream. It then fades into a minimal instrumental that beautifully highlight’s Jesse Lacey’s vocals and lyrics. Although many of the tracks on this album are vague in their meaning, “Lit Me Up” arguably has a theme of awakening.

To me, “Lit Me Up” tells the story of someone who has become numb to themselves and the world around them, until some sort of catalyst awakens them and reignites their passion for life, or presumably anything else they’ve become dull to.

“Lit Me Up” is a perfect entrance to the album; it sets the tone and beautifully leads into the next track.

2) Can’t Get It Out

“Can’t Get It Out” begins with crisp guitar strums and a more high-paced rhythm, but it’s certainly not more uplifting in terms of lyrical content. Ironically, that seems to be the message of the song.

There’s speculation that the song is about Lacey’s own musical history. Many of his songs aren’t considered to be happy or positive by listeners. And with the lyrics “I’ve got a positive message, sometimes I can’t get it out,” it seems that Lacey (or the song’s subject) struggles with an internal conflict of not being able to effectively communicate their true intentions or emotions.

3) Waste

Moody, heavy, and low can best describe the album’s third track, “Waste.” While it’s not my favorite song off the record, it definitely serves a purpose. It’s almost a paperweight or anchor in between the rock and roll style of “Can’t Get It Out,” and the light and dreamy aura of “Could Never Be Heaven.”

The lyrics are about self-destruction, being at your lowest point, and trying to piece yourself back together again. Lacey sings “And maybe one day, you’ll find your way, to climb on up out of your grave, with the bits of you you managed to save…”

4) Could Never Be Heaven

This might be one of my favorite songs from Science Fiction. It’s melodic, airy, and heavenly to listen to. However, there’s something compelling about Lacey’s voice and the warm harmonies in the song that grips the listener.

“Could Never Be Heaven” is also one of the more difficult songs to decode lyrically. While I’m not certain of what the song is about, there are strong motifs of death, heaven, water, religion, and love.

There’s also a strange vintage recording at the end of the song that discusses what it means to be truly authentic in your individuality, or if the act of trying to be an individual hinders that authenticity. It’s hard to say if this excerpt is connected to “Could Never Be Heaven,” but it sure does add an obscure and thought-provoking impact on the song.

5) Same Logic / Teeth

“Same Logic / Teeth” brings back the loud and emotional side that Brand New is typically known for. The song discusses self-destruction, guilt, self-loathing, and manipulation. Even though the topic’s dark, there’s something in the song that resonates with all of us to some extent.

6) 137

Instrumentally, “137” isn’t very exciting at the beginning. However, the sparse sounds emphasize the lyrics, which are the primary focus of the song. “137” seems to be a portrayal of nuclear war with the lyrics of the first chorus being: “Let’s all go play Nagasaki, we can all get vaporized, hold my hand let’s turn to ash, I’ll see you on the other side.”  

The song also ends with a loud cacophony of sounds which is presumably an audio metaphor for the chaos and distress of a nuclear disaster.

(137 is assumed to be a reference to the radioactive isotope Caesium-137)

 

7) Out of Mana

“Out of Mana” was the first song I heard from Science Fiction, and it definitely ties the most into the album’s title. The guitars on this track are immediately distorted and heavy. This, combined with the catchy chorus and unconventional lyrics had me replaying this song for days.

“Out of Mana” heavily references technology and video games in the lyrics and title. While this might just be the band having fun with obscure topics, I think there might be a deeper meaning that connects overcoming challenges digitally with overcoming challenges in real life. Either way, the song is still a thrill to listen to.

11) 451

3 second into “451” and you’ll surely be nodding your head and tapping your toes along with it. The song is rhythmic, up-beat, and intense. “451”, along with “Could Never Be Heaven” are most likely my top 2 favorites of the album. It’s a perfect song to play in the car with sunglasses on and the windows rolled down.

However, after scouring my mind and the internet, there doesn’t seem to be any clear answer to what the song means. The lyrics “A million suns won’t fill you up if you can’t see the wine flowing over your cup.” discusses being unsatisfied with more than enough, and the title “451” is assumed to be a reference to  Ray Bradbury’s novel Fareinheight 451.