Yellowcard – Yellowcard

As their 10th and final studio release, Yellowcard’s self-titled album is powerful and new yet still reminiscent of their original pop punk sound.

In June, the band announced that they would be breaking up after the last show on their world tour on December 18. While the news was disheartening to their loyal fan-base, the band stated in a note:  “We realized that this was the right time to step away and preserve the legacy and integrity of the band. It is with you, the fans in mind, that this decision was made.”

With many successful bands, deciding an appropriate time to retire is difficult, but after months of deliberation Yellowcard finally concluded that their era would soon be coming to a close.

“We went into this record knowing it would be the last” said the band. However, even with the end in sight, Yellowcard made sure to produce an album filled with invigorating rock hits like “Got Yours” and “What Appears.”

The opening track, “Rest in Peace,” begins with a rhythmic guitar intro and catchy violin riff that’s intrinsic to Yellowcard’s signature sound. With lyrics like “If this was the last time that we would ever speak, Could we forgive somehow, Could we let it rest in peace,” Resolution and Forgiveness are made apparent as strong themes throughout the song. Even though “Rest in Peace” is the opening track to Yellowcard’s final album, it doesn’t feel like it. The song is uplifting and hopeful in the sense that there’s peace to letting things go.

One of the other main hits from the album, “The Hurt is Gone,” succinctly wraps up some of the important ideas from the album. It discusses the inevitable changes a person goes through, and the hope within that change.

As a band that started in 1997, the members have grown significantly over time, and relay their own personal changes through their music. “The Hurt Is Gone” is so special because everyone at some point in their life can relate to the ideas of the song. Along with an important message, the song includes a melodic guitar introduction and a striking chorus with the lyrics “Change comes for you, even if you’re hiding out. So wake to this truth and maybe you’ll believe me now.”

The final song “Field & Fences” is the most singular track from the album because it’s so poignant and ends the album in such a beautiful way. The 7 minute song includes soft guitar melodies and layered harmonies that sound almost hymn-like. The chorus ties everything back to the beginning track, “Rest in Peace”, with the lyrics “Tennessee, when I finally lay down to sleep, then I’ll rest in your ground.”

While Yellowcard is comparatively more somber than the band’s previous releases, it’s a perfect mix of new music with their old sound.

Even though the band will retire after their December show, they will be playing in Salt Lake City as part of their Final World Tour at The Complex  on October 28th.

Bite Back: Not a Saint or a Savior

Chalk full of barrowing guitar tones and existential dread that plummet nose first into your ear canals, this EP from the San Diego based hardcore outfit Bite Back is a brutal encounter. Five blistering songs fill this EP with lyrics of having to cope with nihilism, depression, and anxiety complimented with pounding guitars and breakdowns reminiscent of the mental beatings such a mind deals with—it isn’t pretty.
The songs on this album are very grim—they cater to a very esoteric demographic with Austin Bolechowski’s straightforward vocal and lyrical delivery that paints the band for who they are. The EP opens with “Day By Day”—it starts with an intense buildup of guitars and drums over the closing monologue from the character Patrick Bateman from the film American Psycho. It all gives way to Josh Orellana’s high velocity drumming then the rest of the band jumps into the sea of despair with Bolechowski’s opening lyrics, “Always struggling day by day, can’t ever think of what to say, trying to keep my head held high, but I just count my failures every night.”
The EP continues on with hints of groove, thrash, and sludge metal built in on their hardcore foundation all while keeping on the themes of mental anguish. “Sinner” hurtles a plethora of riffs with alternating vocals that range from controlled yells to high pitched screams with hair-raising lyrics like “I’ve been thinking thoughts that’d make the devil want to kill himself!” “Stray Dog” (appropriate for the band’s name) delves into the isolation side of depression with reoccurring lyrics like “I’ll live on my own, I’ll die on my own, these motherfuckers couldn’t spend a god damn night all alone,” and “I’m a mutt with rotting teeth, decayed like my fathers’ before me!” but the most tumultuous lyrics are sung during the breakdown—“What the fuck do you know about pain? You never lost anything!”
The EP takes a two-and-a-half minute breather with “Lull”—a sluggish, more somber number with more melodious vocals that still doesn’t steer the album off course. After a brief pause it traverses into the closing track with Bolechowski bellowing its moniker “Numb!” “Numb” pummels to a close with a beatdown of everything in Bite Back’s musical arsenal with the final lyrics “No puedo ser fuerte, lo que me mata es mi mente!” (“I cannot be strong, what kills me is my mind!”)
Bite Back’s Not a Saint or a Savior is destructive and incredibly brutally honest—these boys don’t hesitate to wear their hearts on their sleeves. The lyrics sum up a lot of key themes with depression and anxiety and the music is the perfect match, stimulating feelings of a mind at war with itself.

Warpaint – Heads Up

With many great women in rock and roll, it’s no surprise that Warpaint has gained attention for their dream pop aesthetic and wispy vocals. The Los Angeles quartet formed on Valentine’s Day in 2004. The bandmates have a long history with each other as lead woman Emily Kokal and guitarist Theresa Wayman have been friends since childhood. They were later joined by sisters Jenny Lee Lindberg and Shannyn Sossamon, though Sossamon would leave soon and be replaced by Stella Mozgawa, and would write and perform songs that would later comprise their first EP.

In 2007, Warpaint debuted their EP Exquisite Corpse which rose up to the Number 1 spot on the Los Angeles Amoeba Records local artist chart. Critics praised the album and were curious to hear what else the band had in store. The band listened and released The Fool three years after their EP came out. Once again the critics gave their album fantastic reviews. Word of Warpaint started circulating and they captured the hearts of many fans with their harmonious choruses and Lindberg’s artistically melancholy bass lines. Following suite, their second album Warpaint garnered rave reviews. Now, two years after their phenomenal self-titled album, they have delivered their wonderfully dynamic third album Heads Up.

The band excited many fans with the news that they were making a new album. The first single released is ironically titled “New Song”. It describes the joys of a new relationship when the person of interest is constantly in your head. While it is not the most lyrically intricate song, it is catchy enough to remain in your head for a couple of hours. This song has many characteristics of a “mainstream song” with its repetitive lyrics and poppy beats. It is a strange venture from the band’s previous songs that entranced people with their psychedelic nature.

“Whiteout” is the opening track and second single of the album. Kokal really delivers with intense, passionate vocals. The amount of layers Warpaint manages to put on every song absolutely blows me away. For this track, every instrument playing blends so magnificently together bringing about a song that is a mixture of indie pop with hints of R&B.

Heads Up is a great listen when you want to relax. It’s a calming album filled with the mystic idiosyncrasies that the listener has come to expect of Warpaint. However, they have seemed to have expanded their sound with faster paced songs and rhythms. In a way, this album reminds me a bit of music from the 90s with reverberating guitar notes and hypnotic melodies. This album steps away from the dark mood Warpaint usually has, but never strays too far from what has made the band a cult favorite.

Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

The acoustic picks of classic songs from Jack White and his bands The White Stripes and The Raconteurs are featured on the new album, Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016, released earlier this month. The twenty-six tracks featured on the two-disc album take us through moments of their recording history; beginning with the 1998 “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” song that was written on the porch of Jack’s parent’s home.

Jack and Meg White are the singers, songwriters and musicians in The White Stripes, a rock band formed in Detroit, Michigan. The new acoustic album has a song from their 2000 album De Stijl called “I’m Bound to Pack It Up” that showcases an awesome command of the electric violin. “We Are Going to Be Friends” from the 2001 White Blood Cells album is a sweet song about a schoolyard friendship with a catchy picking pattern. Some songs from their 2003 album Elephant were included in the new album as well as a song Jack White created later that year called “Never Far Away” for the movie Cold Mountain.

Songs from the 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan are in the album including “As Ugly As I Seem” in which Meg White plays hand drums. “Love Is The Truth” is a lesser known song that was created for a Coca-Cola commercial in 2006 and has made its way into the album along with songs from the 2007 Icky Thump album like “Honey, We Can’t Afford to Look This Cheap” inspired by the prominent music scene in Nashville, TN where Jack was living at the time. “Carolina Drama” and “Top Yourself” from The Raconteurs album Consolers of the Lonely have their own acoustic and bluegrass interpretations too.

In 2012 Jack White’s song “Love Interruption” featuring Ruby Amanfu appeared on the GRAMMY nominated album Blunderbuss, Jack’s debut solo album. That track and a number of others from that album were added in, like “On and on and on” whose lyrics are not present until nearly a minute into the song and the title track which got its name from a 17th century European firearm. “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” is also on the album, as is “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep” featuring Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three band. “Machine Gun Silhouette” is in the mix too but it came from the album Love Interruption and was apparently composed by emails Jack received from his visual art collaborator whom he’s never met.

White’s 2014 album Lazaretto contributed a few songs to the new album including “Want and Able”, “Entitlement” and “Just One Drink”. “City Lights” is the previously unreleased track that was actually written and recorded 10 years prior during the Get Behind Me Satan recording sessions. It was finished in 2016 and was included as part of this acoustic set. It has all come back full circle in Acoustic Recordings which is exemplary of the rock and blues roots that Jack White has possessed since the beginning whether on his own projects or in his other endeavors. There’s no denying Jack White is a true artist through and through.

Ivouries – EP

Ivouries is the solo project of singer and multi-instrumentalist Jaxon Garrick. A Sandy native, Garrick has dreamed of being a musician since he was 12 years old. Music plays such a big role in his life he practically considers it a religious feeling. “Music is something that is so much a part of me that I guess I use it cathartically almost,” he said.

With the release of his new EP, Garrick is setting himself apart from other artists by infusing mellow vocals with hypnotic experimental beats. He mainly plays the guitar, but is not afraid to pick up another instrument as long as it can contribute to what he’s working on. Lately, Garrick has been captivated by synthesizers. “The possibilities and sounds you can create with analog and digital synthesizers are endless and I wish they were more appreciated!” During the writing process of his EP, Garrick’s life was changing and he found solace in his music. He said he found inspiration in Bon Iver and the way he isolated himself to make a record.

The EP starts off with the song “I Just Want It”, which chronicles the complicated relationship between two people. He sounds frustrated with the relationship he is in and doesn’t know what to do. The song sounds almost dreamlike through the verses when he ponders the actions of the other person.

Another track that deserves recognition is “Regret It”.  It almost transports you back to the 80s with heavy synths that play throughout the song. Garrick revisits his themes of relationships and heartbreak as he sings about the heavy burden of a breakup. Towards the end of the song, he truly shows off his guitar skills by playing an impressive solo.

Listening to the EP, a song that really stood out to me is “Run Rill” because of the softer, acoustic rhythm it has that differs from the rest of the tracks. The soft ballad tells the story of two people wanting to get away from everything and starting over.  It was refreshing to hear this track because of how stripped down it sounded compared to his other songs.

Ivouries definitely has a unique blend of sound mixing together hip-hop, indie rock, and electronic. It’s no surprise considering Garrick names artists like Lorde, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Grimes as his influences to name a few. “I really respect artists who have somewhat of an anxiety to always be thinking about how they can reinvent themselves. Never really settling or zoning in on one sound.”

To check out more of Ivories, visit https://soundcloud.com/ivouries.

Jocelyn and Chris Arndt: Edges

If you’re like me you like music with soulful and gritty vocals backed by classic rock-inspired guitar and a thumping drum beat. This is just some of what you’ll get when you listen to the New York based rock-duo that are Jocelyn and Chris Arndt. With so many shows under their belt from The Hard Rock in Pittsburgh and Myrtle Beach, Rockwood Music Hall in New York, to The Viper Room in Hollywood these siblings are no strangers to the live stage.

At first listen their new album Edges has a contagiously fervent passion and bluesy-rock feel. The first song off the record is called “Shame” and it really demonstrates their raw energy. I love it for its relatable subject matter too as is exemplified in these lyrics:

“I used to think you understood,
We used to think alike
But now you’ve traded
sweet for bitter, guts for glitter,
Safe instead of right

And was she worth it?
How happy are you now?
Do you think about the night you lost me,
And do you wonder how?”

This is the perfect breakup song, the type of song you blast in your car and sing along to when you’re moving on from someone who did you wrong. There’s also something badass about a strong female lead.

“Ooh, I lost your number,
Ooh, you lost my trust,
I see the ashes in your eyes,
You turned our love to dust

But now I’ve got a story,
Now I’ve got a song
And music makes you
miss me more with every chord
You’ll know you’ve done me wrong”

Another song I enjoyed is called “Cinderella” because it is such a realist way of seeing love; It’s not a thing that just happens one night when we lose our glass slipper. Her empowering attitude is apparent when she sings, “So I’m checking myself out of fantasy / I gotta fight for what’s ahead of me.”

While “we can’t all be Cinderella”, I guess it’s true what they say, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince.

The latest single is “Where’s the Rain” and the band is now on tour in various cities across the country this month including DC, Nashville and Las Vegas. Hopefully we’ll get to see them live in Salt Lake City if they decide to take a detour! Fingers crossed.

Operator – Telegram

 

After a few catchy singles and a long delay of gratification, Telegram has finally debuted their record. Operator is charged with phasers in a Brian Eno inspired fashion. With such a long delay on this release, anticipation has built up and there has been a lot to be expected. The two singles, “Rule Number One” and “Follow”, also the two opening tracks, were released in 2013 and immediately got blogs talking about them. However, upon the album’s release, it now is a bit underwhelming. Telegram was praised for taking their time with the record – not quickly releasing material, but rather, taking their time to work it out – but now it might be the case that they waited too long. Going through the tracks they appear to be a little too thought out and maybe the sound engineers put too big of a spin on them. This is most recognized when you compare the single to the studio release of “Aeons.” As a single in 2015, it was a blare of sound that had a captivating, fast and exciting energy, but on the album it takes a step back and becomes more stylistic. Pauses on the track become more methodical and the added reverb on the vocals is considerably noticeable.

However, that stands as a single aspect on the record. “Rule Number One” flares with distortion and moves with the threatening notion of a mosh pit. It’s a great opening track that invites you into the record to sit down and experience punk music like never before. “Follow” follows with just as much excitement pushing the record with a chorus that is as catchy as it is powerful; “Today, today. There’s no time to delay.” From there the record unfortunately doesn’t get much more inviting. Again, it’s unique and interesting, but the following tracks have a hard time keeping up with the two openers. “Aeons” as we know has been slowed and dumbed down, and tracks like “Under The Night Time” can’t overcome the singles’ high peak. It isn’t until “Taffy Come Home” that your ears start to perk up again. It blasts high-energy choruses but with a more melodramatic mood. It’s fun and exciting but there is something in this song that is a little less ferocious than the others. Maybe it has something to do with the embodiment of the avant-garde style of rock brought to us by Roxy Music. It doesn’t attack as much as other tracks on the record and mainly relies on its uniquely spread song structure to do its work.

The last particularly noticeable track is “Regatta.” Having also been an early single, it’s a quick energy song that helped to build the records hype. It’s in this song where Telegram blends their early avant-garde influences and punk swagger so well. It’s quirky yet memorable and revives your faith in the record where other less inviting tracks had let it down. The record comes to an end with “Folly,” which encompasses the Eno/punk fusion, however, feels a bit empty. It’s not an abrupt end – the record is 50 minutes long – but rather, again, a bit underwhelming. It has a lot of vigor but you can’t help the feeling that there was another edge the band could have jumped over. There is a lot of genre fusion on the record and it seems like the band could have discovered something more; they could have dived deeper into their exploration and come back up with something more fulfilling. With that, Operator is everything you could have expected, but possibly, not everything you could have hoped for.

Review: Talia Keys “Fool’s Gold”

Talia Keys’ Fool’s Gold album is soulful collection to be reckoned with. With songs she has developed and created over the past 8 years, each has unique tone, while seamlessly working together. In other words, none of her songs sound the same. Keys’ powerhouse of a voice has the range from grind and grit to the soft and soothing, which can be heard of in each of the songs. The convictions of emotions are heard right off the first track Help Me, and a softer tone is heard in Intergalactic Crime Scene. Politics combines jazz and rock, and to close out Fight With Love uses everything from trumpets and sax, to classic guitars and bass. Her lyrics express her opinions clearly with a variety of topics and issues. She is now pursuing a solo career, and with that she is able to connect more through her music. Openly bisexual, she uses her talent and artistry to make a name for herself and a figure for the LGBT community. In the song Help Me, she describes discrimination in its forms of sexuality, gender, and even race.  No Justice No Peace also equally shows her fighting activist spirit. From the lyrics, to the recordings which are basically live, everything you hear Keys’ soulful magic. Some of her lyrics can be explicit, however they add to the expressive emotion. Keys’ entire album is raw. Fool’s Gold is a progressive, soul-rock album and worth a listen.