Mood Music for Today

If you’re like me, today’s political and social climates may have made you feel angry, resigned, or wishing to rise above and become better. You’ve gone to protests. You tried to find truth and reason in the news as to why U.S. citizens have done what they have, and instead come back with more questions. You’ve looked inside and found that because these feelings are so new, you need to develop new ways to cope. Music can be a great help here. In discovering new music, we can find new perspectives on old thoughts or find inspiration and encouragement when we need it most. Through my friends and my own curiosity I’ve found these bands whose music does for me all of these things. I present to you Stay Wild, Wicked Bears, and Uvluv.

Stay Wild

Art by Stay Wild

Stay Wild is a hardcore/punk band with a strong, progressive message. Their most recent single, “Stay Pissed“, embodies the need to continue to fight for change in our world. The song reminds us why we fight, what makes us mad and why we are justified in this feeling. Stay Wild also actively promotes social causes, including advocating for a feminist viewpoint through their lyrics on other E.P.s, and offering charitable merchandise to give profits to the Rainbow Railroad to grant relief to LGBTQ+ people persecuted in Chechnya.

Wicked Bears

Photo by John Barkiple

Wicked Bears is maybe the most existential music I’ve heard. Lyrics from their songs present a sort of optimistic nihilism. Their song “2049” offers the view that, while in the large scale of things our problems are insignificant, they matter to us. It offers a nice solution to the chaos and seeming lack of reason or morality we see so blatantly today: nothing actually means anything, so we just have ourselves and what entertains us (like death metal).


Photo by Uvluv

Uvluv, a local progressive rock band with soulful elements, presents instrumentals that keep your attention in their variance while the lyrics offer encouragement and paths of thought for reflection and self-improvement. “Rise In Love“, for example, tells you that pain from heartbreak can be turned into ultimately finding yourself. The vocals are wonderful purely in how they sound and the comforting lyrics are a bonus. They recently released a new album, Afterglow, which capitalizes on their progressive sound, and focuses on the difficult emotions that come from the passing of a loved one. It’s a fantastic representation of emotional intelligence, shattering the notion that we should ever repress emotion.


Music can provide outlets for a wide range of emotions, and it’s good to keep a variety stocked in your listening libraries. Hopefully you find this new music as cathartic as I have. Enjoy!

PWR BTTM What Happened?

So, let’s talk about PWR BTTM and why what’s happened the last few weeks sucks. I realize that as cisgender male with no real connection to the LGBTQ community I’m apart from a lot of this business, but as a fan I can’t help but feel disappointed.The duo has come under serious allegation, with Ben Hopkins accused of “sexual assault and predatory advances on multiple occasions.”.With one witness claiming “I have personally seen Ben initiate inappropriate sexual contact with people despite several ‘no’s’ and without warning or consent,” Adding that they had also been told that Hopkins made “unwanted advances on minors despite knowing their age.

First off, no one should ever treat anyone that way, end of discussion. But to be a punk band whose work is heavily inspired by queer culture and openly advocates for queer rights and act like this within the LGBTQ community is not only immoral it’s also hypocritical. It’s the equivalent of Joe Strummer moonlighting as a union buster or if Rise Against owned a factory farm. Punk is the genre of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, to go back on your word is punk rock heresy, no one comes back from it and for PWR BTTM that’s a shame.

They’re an amazing band. From the first time I heard the punchy Low Fi hook of Ugly Cherries, a light snapped on in my brain. They somehow infused punk with a sense of musicality, opting to experiment on basic rhythms and chords instead of the over-saturated four chord Pop Punk that has ruled the stage for so long. Adding to that are their lyrics, which express wells of emotion through surprisingly casual language, take this excerpt from West Texas for example “You left New York for West Texas/To avoid all of your exes/How ironic but that is your thing.” Add to that their glam rock aesthetic which proudly defies gender norms that gives them the perfect edge and the wheels begin to turn about just how big this band could have been. Their songs are intoxicating, equal parts hypnotic melody, and escalating vocals creating exquisitely aggressive overtones. I was genuinely excited to hear what the duo would do with their new album Pageant.

So as a fan, what do you do now? Their music remains the same as it was before the allegations and there has yet to be any real proof behind the allegations leveled at Ben Hopkins. But something has been lost; the band was dropped by their label, management, and even opening acts. They’ve canceled their international tour and a lot of other tour dates, all of which were in support of Pageant which is now unavailable on services such as ITunes and Spotify. For better or worse, it seems like PWR BTTM is on their way out, at least for now. It’s sad to see a band that was heralded as the next big rock group, the light at the end of the ever-elongating tunnel that is this drought of rock music, leaving only a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. There are many dialogues to be had about PWR BTTM  going forward. Is it still morally acceptable to listen to their music? Was this the best way to handle allegations with little proof behind them? How do you separate the artist and their work? But for now, I think it’s OK to do a little grieving.

Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues

When it comes to alternative rock music, there are bands that are absolutely quintessential to the genre. These bands dominated the airwaves in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and helped pave the way on what alt rock should sound like. Even though lately many of them have not been as popular as they once were, there are a select few who prove they are not out of the game, like Jimmy Eat World.

Jimmy Eat World formed in 1993 in Mesa, Arizona. They had released two albums in the 90’s but didn’t see commercial success until the release of their 2001 album Bleed American. Many notable singles were bred from that album, from the title track to “Sweetness”, but nothing compared to “The Middle.” From there on out, Jimmy Eat World was one of the staple bands of the emo/pop punk scene. They stayed in the limelight for their next two albums Futures and Chase This Light, however, they started to drop off the music scene with Inverted and Damaged. After touring got done for Damaged, the band decided to take a year off for a much needed break.

Integrity Blues is a nice welcome back for Jimmy Eat World after their hiatus. They came back with new ideas and a new approach on how they would develop their songs. The whole theme of this album revolves around acceptance of life and the changes it brings with it. “Pretty Grids” and “Get Right” call upon all the rock lovers with their heavy guitar breakdowns and profound bass lines while “You With Me” and “It Matters” show their capability to embrace a softer side as singer Jim Adkins calmly serenades the listener.

“Sure and Certain” was the first song I heard that notified me that they were making a new album. I remember the first time I heard it I was extremely overjoyed. It was as if the band never took a break to begin with. The opening lively guitar strums combined with the anthem-like drum beats was enough to ensure me that Jimmy Eat World had returned.

While their past two albums were not highly successful, Integrity Blues reminds fans why they fell in love with Jimmy Eat World in the first place. It hits listeners with deep feelings of nostalgia. For me, the album transported me back to the days where I had Futures on repeat. The band was able to create an album that was consistent to how they sound without being repetitive. The long awaited album had finally come and it didn’t disappoint.



Joy Division : The Middle Man


From Warsaw, to Joy Division, to New Order, Joy Division acted as a “voice of the underdog” for many people in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Their ability to redefine themselves over and over is a tribute to their originality in song, lyrics, rhythm, and beat. They stumbled onto a sound that fit in perfectly with their era, but somehow stood out as one of the most influential bands of all time. They originally started as ‘Warsaw’, an English rock band in Manchester who formed after being ridiculously inspired at a Sex Pistols concert. In 1976, the band consisted of singer Ian Curtis, guitarist and keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bass player Peter Hook, and drummer Stephen Morris. Warsaw was a band name created by Sumner and Hook, referencing David Bowie’s song “Warszawa”, but they later changed their title to Joy Division to avoid being confused with a similarly titled band in the area. Their influences included legends like a Berlin-era Bowie, The Talking Heads, The Clash, The Velvet Underunknownpleasuresground and Iggy Pop.

Joy Division made music that people didn’t know they needed, not by emphasizing anger as most punk bands did, but by emphasizing mood and expression.Joy Division was the first band to bring the melancholy feel into the post-punk period. Inspired by punk energy, their music is full of loopy drum patterns, soothing guitar riffs, and odd bass rhythms, topped off by Ian Curtis and his liquid gold voice, acting as a combination of Jim Morrison, Joe Strummer and Lou Reed. Their undistinguished punk-infected rock was a quality that only could be appreciated as the songs got slower and continued on, making their live shows, where they played loudly and aggressively, some of the most attended events of the 1970s. Each show had it’s own heart and soul and no two shows were ever the same.

After Joy Division recorded their most famous album, Unknown Pleasures, their career soared. Their first-of-its-kind melancholy lyrics and punk musical vibe took the world by storm. In May of 1980, while on tour for their second studio recorded album, “Closer”, Ian Curtis, lead guitarist, committed suicide. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was performed in honor of Curtis, at the last Joy Division show.

After Curtis’ death, the remaining band members unanimously agreed that Joy Division should be figuratively put to rest in honor of Curtis himself. They continued with a different name, and brought new wave into the 80’s. New Order, which had a few new additions, became one of the most influential bands of the 80s for their combination of punk and electronic dance music. Their first single, “Ceremony” was performed in several Joy Division concerts, but officially was20150707060046new_order_movement_cover released through the new band. New Order continued into the 80s and 90s, gaining new fans as they released dance music that had depressing lyrics. They brought a new sound into a new era, and their aesthetic was to do whatever the hell they wanted. They didn’t give many interviews, encores, and released numerous nameless albums. New Order holds the best-selling 12-inch single of all time, for their song “Blue Monday”.

As a group of people who didn’t struggle to remain relevant, Joy Division lives on through New Order. Although each member of the band took turns experimenting with vocals, instruments, and new types of patterns in their music. Sumner eventually took over as lead vocal, but he refused to do interviews out of respect for Curtis. The band lyrics heavily are influenced by the death of their friend, and still insanely popular, “Low-life”, an album released in 1985, was just remastered and re-released in 2015.