8 incredible tracks you need in your life – September 2016

September has been a massive month for album releases, with albums by Twin Atlantic, A Day To Remember, Young Guns, Of Mice & Men and Against Me! already out, and records by Slaves and Yellowcard are due out tomorrow.  Has the market for singles been just as good?  Today I take a look back at the best singles of September.

Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes – Lullaby

This fantastic track was accompanied by news of the band’s next album, due out next January.  Lullaby is a great indicator for things to come.

Kings Of Leon – Waste A Moment

The Tennessee rock band are back with another lighthearted track, with indie and country influences similar in tone to their previous album, Mechanical Bull.  

Taking Back Sunday – Death Wolf

Following a slow-burning introduction with cute synthy elements which are replicated throughout the track, punk-rockers Taking Back Sunday have released a fab new song from their recent album, Tidal Wave.

Sum 41 – God Save Us All (Death To POP)

Sum 41 have well and truly stuck their middle finger up in the direction of mainstream popular music with this track and music video.  Whilst I don’t think pop music is the great evil it’s sometimes portrayed as by alternative bands, you can’t deny that this single is a banger.

Green Day – Still Breathing

The latest track from the upcoming Green Day album Revolution Radio is here, and it’s a slower, more reflective track with an explosive high-impact chorus.  I reckon this track will be the 21 Guns of the new record.

Twenty One Pilots – Cancer (Cover of My Chemical Romance)

Rock Sound recently released a covers album celebrating 10 years since the release of My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. I honestly thought most of the covers were terrible, but Twenty One Pilots took an iconic, much loved track and made it 100 per cent their own.

Slaves ft. Mike D. – Consume Or Be Consumed

The latest Slaves single is everything I hoped it would be: loud unapologetic punk with brilliant tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a chorus which will be very easy to headbang along to.  The feature by Mike D. fits perfectly within the track.

Memphis May Fire ft. Jacoby Shaddix – This Light I Hold

Papa Roach’s vocalist Jacoby makes a brilliant addition to Memphis May Fire’s usual brand of religious-themed metalcore. His and Matty’s vocals work extremely well together, and whilst I wasn’t hugely excited for new Memphis May Fire music before, I am now.

What do you think of these tracks? Are there any singles I missed off this list? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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News: Every Time I Die release new album, feature Brendon Urie in video

The New York metalcore band, Every Time I die, returned with a new full length record, titled Low Teens on Friday.  To celebrate, the band also released the music video for It Remembers, featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco fame.  You can watch the video here:

The video and track share some pretty heavy symbolism about escaping the stresses and troubles of the real world and attempting to find oblivion, but if you don’t care about that kinda thing the track is great and stands up by itself.

If you like the sound of that track, or are a long term fan of the band, Every Time I Die are coming across the pond in December to put on a string of live performances across the UK.  If you fancy treating yourself to an early Christmas present, check out the dates below:

  • 8/12 – Chinnerys, Southend
  • 9/12 – Owl Sanctuary, Norwich
  • 10/12 – Brooklyn Bowl, London
  • 11/12 – The Haunt, Brighton
  • 12/12 – Globe, Cardiff
  • 14/12 – The Venue, Derby
  • 15/12 – Vintage Bar, Doncaster
  • 16/12 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
  • 17/12 – Gorilla, Manchester
  • 18/12 – King Tut’s, Glasgow
  • 19/12 – Riverside, Newcastle
  • 20/12 – Parish, Huddersfield

What do you think of the latest Every Time I Die Album? Are you planning on seeing them on tour? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Things you only know if you have alternative piercings

Since December 2014, I have officially been a person with alternative piercings.  I personally define ‘alternative piercings’ as any body piercing which isn’t located in the earlobe.  I consider myself to have three alternative piercings: my tragus and helix on my left ear, and my left nostril.  I also have each earlobe pierced twice, and I have further plans for more alternative piercings, such as a microdermal on my chest, my other nostril and septum, and potentially more cartilage piercings on my right ear.

Now, before I get into this post, I’d like to make the disclaimer that my experiences as a person with alternative piercings are fairly mild compared to some people with more body modifications.  However, I thought I’d write about my experiences navigating the world as a person with alternative piercings, and how I interact with people who don’t have them.

1 – The pain you feel when you snag your piercing on your hair/clothes/bed sheets/towel

I still snag my nose piercing all the time when I’m washing my face, or I catch my helix piercing when I pull a t-shirt over my head.  No matter how long you’ve had a piercing, and whether it’s fully healed or not, it will still take you by surprise and you’ll end up snagging it on something.  I’ve had my tragus pierced for nearly two years and I still catch it on my towel when I dry my hair.

2 – Is my piercing infected, or does it have hypertrophic scarring? Or a keloid?  Or an irritation bump?????

There are all sorts of things that could potentially go wrong with a piercing.  If you irritate it, as mentioned in the first point, you could end up with an irritation bump.  These are harmless and will reduce in size and eventually disappear when the irritation stops, for example I finally stop knocking my nose when I’m applying face scrub.  There are other possibilities, however: you could have a hypertrophic scar, which is essentially a build up of collagen.  These aren’t really harmful, but if they’re large enough and close to your piercing the size of it may push on your piercing and cause it to migrate.  Alternatively, you could have a keloid, another type of scar tissue, which is more of an issue.  If all of these have been ruled out it’s possible that you may have an infected piercing, which is a risk when trying to heal an open wound.  If you think that might be the case, speak to your piercer and ask for their advice, or if you think it looks serious book an appointment with your GP.

3 – How do you cope with all the risks that come with piercings, as mentioned in point two?

Sometimes, it feels like the effort of trying to heal your piercing isn’t worth the hassle. I’ve had what I believe is an irritation bump on the back of my helix piercing for months, and it’s become infected a couple of times. However, I love how my helix looks, and I reckon that I’ve already come this far, so I ought to keep up the hard work and eventually I’ll have a fully healed piercing that I can love for the rest of my life.  In my eyes, it’d be a waste of time if I just took my piercing out and gave up now.

4 – How much did it hurt? How much did it bleed?

I personally hate being asked how much my piercings hurt, because people seem to forget that every person has a different pain threshold.  I’m an absolute wimp, so I’m worried that I’d scare people from getting piercings that they really want because my pain rating out of ten seems high to them.  I’ve discussed pain levels with people who have the same piercings as me and we all have different perceptions of how much they hurt.

5 – How long did your piercing take to heal?  Is there any way I can speed up the process?

I’m not gonna beat around the bush here: some piercings are absolute buggers to heal.  And once again, the time it takes varies from person to person.  My immune system isn’t particularly fantastic, so my healing times are probably longer than most peoples’.  I’ve had my helix pierced for a year and a half and it still hasn’t fully healed.  On the other hand, my tragus was fully healed within a few months, when others suggest it can take 12 to 18 months.  You absolutely cannot predict how quickly your piercings will heal, as other influences, such as illness or poor nutrition, could slow down your immune system.  Plus, there is no way to rush the healing process.  You have to remember that your piercing jewellery is a foreign body that your immune system will want to fight and reject, so healing the piercing is a tricky process.

6 – You should twist your jewellery twice a day to speed up the healing process!

This is the old way that piercers recommended you heal your piercings, but nowadays this process is frowned upon.  This is because it’s been discovered that twisting your jewellery only damages and tears the cells in the fistula (the hole of the piercing), which actually delays the healing process.

7 – You should use contact lens solution to heal your piercings!

This is a common misconception, because most piercers recommend using saline solution (a.k.a. salt water) to heal your piercings, and contact lens solution is very close to being pure saline. However, if you read the ingredients contact lens solution often contains other elements which could irritate your piercing and prolong the healing process.

8 – You look better natural, without any piercings.

Too bad, I like them.

Do you have alternative piercings?  Are there any other points that I’ve missed off of this list? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: Echoes

It’s only been about a year since the release of Ones And Zeros, but Young Guns are already back with a new record, released last Friday.  The band have said that they wanted to make up for a long period with no releases by putting out two records in quick succession, but I’m not sure if this has worked out for them.  In my review of Ones And Zeros I said that I didn’t think the record would top their second album, Bones, for me, and I still stand by that.  I’m interested to see if Echoes will succeed where their previous album failed.

The album starts with lead single Bulletproof, a track which features electronic elements as well as proper guitars, and a fantastic chorus which reminds us of how impressive vocalist Gustav’s voice really is.  You can see the music video for the track here:

This is followed by title track Echoes, which demonstrates that the increased electronic elements from Ones And Zeros are still part of Young Guns’ sound.  There are more beefy guitar riffs in this track, however, which hark back to their earlier days and heavier sound of the past.  Said heavier guitars are found throughout the record, including during Careful What You Wish For and Mad World.  These heavier tracks interspersed with electronic intros and effects helps each song to stand out from the rest, and the overall effect is pretty special.

The pace of the record slowed down slightly with Awakening, a more relaxed track with one of Young Guns’ trademark soaring choruses, and Living In A Dream Is So Easy, a wistful and emotionally charged number.  The intro to Buried quickly returns the record to its previous high energy.

I’ll be honest and say that I went into this record with fairly low expectations.  I was disappointed by last year’s release, so I became a little worried that the band were creating music in a style outside of my preferred genres.  After giving Echoes a good listen, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that Ones And Zeros was an experimental prototype in the lead-up to their latest album.

I really enjoyed Echoes, and I think that the band have balanced alternative rock guitars and drums with electronic elements to create a sound that really works.  In truth, I found it difficult to write up my little ‘highlights’ section because I really enjoyed most of the tracks, and they all had features I found interesting or unique, so it was harder to pick out favourites.  Does this album top Bones, though?  To be honest, Bones became a very important album to me during a difficult time in my life, so it will always mean more to me than anything else Young Guns put out.  I do think that Echoes is musically on a par with their second album, and it’s fantastic in its own right, but the meaning I’ve given to Bones probably means it will always top any other music they put out.  #sorrynotsorry

So to conclude, if you were disappointed by Ones And Zeros the same as I was, I suggest that you give Young Guns another try and listen to Echoes.  I’m certain that you wouldn’t regret it.

Highlights: Bulletproof, Careful What You Wish For, Paranoid, Buried, Afterglow

Review: Cold World

Following Of Mice & Men’s previous album, Restoring Force, propelled them firmly into stardom, the Californian five-piece have returned with their latest effort.  Promotion for Cold World begun with the release of lead single, Pain, easily the heaviest song they’d released since The Flood era.  This raised expectations amongst fans hoping for the band to step away from more electronic influences and return to their hardcore roots.  You can watch the slightly freaky music video for Pain below:

Pain was followed by two more tracks, Real and Contagious, which were similar in style and tone to Feels Like Forever, with more clean vocals and less aggressive guitars and drumming.  Real included clean vocals from Austin Carlile, which is a new direction for the vocalist, and one I’m not sure I’m a fan of.  His voice sounds a little nasal in places, which I don’t really enjoy, so maybe he should leave the clean vocals to Aaron Pauley in future.  This mixture of singles led me to believe that Of Mice & Men plan to head further from their hardcore roots, but let’s see how I feel by the end of my first listen, eh?

Cold World opened with the slow atmospheric track Game Of War, which I personally felt dragged on for maybe a minute too long, as it didn’t get me excited to begin listening to the record.  However the pace soon picks up with the 8-bit sounding intro to second track The Lie, followed by the emotional single Real, the chorus of which packs a solid punch.

There are some points within Cold World, such as the intro and outro of Contagious and the filler track , which have electronic influences that remind me a little of Linkin Park’s earlier albums.  Others, such as the chugging verses of Like A Ghost, remind me of Slipknot’s latest record, and to me The Hunger shares similarities with Stone Sour’s sound.  To me, the band’s homages to their inspirations and favourite artists are apparent.

Lead single Pain sits in the middle of the album, and for me marks its high point.  I can understand why Of Mice & Men chose this track as their lead single, as it’s definitely my favourite on the album – and the heaviest.  Lyrically the album varies: some tracks are pretty emotional and poignant, others, such as Relentless, have pretty cheesy and overdone sentiments.

I had very high expectations for Cold World, considering how much I loved the band’s previous record Restoring Force, and my first impressions are that I don’t think Of Mice & Men have managed to better their previous effort. Sure, there are some fantastic tracks on this latest record, but there are also a significant number which could have easily slotted into the Restoring Force tracklist.  I’m a bit disappointed by the lack of growth in the band, but this doesn’t mean I love the Orange County boys any less, and I’m hoping to see them live in November where I’d enjoy hearing some of their new tracks performed live.

Highlights: Like A Ghost, Pain, The Hunger, Transfigured

Review: Bad Vibrations (Deluxe)

It’s official: after a month’s additional delay, A Day To Remember are back with their sixth full length record.  Promotion for Bad Vibrations begun with the ultra aggressive Paranoia, which let us know that the anthemic crowd-pleasers and more radio friendly tracks of Common Courtesy were being left behind.  As soon as I heard this track, I knew I was going to love the record: I still get goosebumps at the breakdown and I’ve listened to the song hundreds of times!  You can see the music video for their lead single here:

This single was followed by the album’s opening track, Bad Vibrations, which made it obvious that A Day To Remember took inspiration from their earlier hardcore roots on this latest record.  Immediately the album’s tone is set as aggressive, punchy, and reflective of the band’s struggles: the reflective tone is most obvious during Naivety, a strong punk-rock offering in which vocalist Jeremy McKinnon sings about how his outlook on life has changed as he’s grown older.  I think it’s important to note that the band haven’t taken a step backwards with this record – their post-hardcore roots are given a 2016 makeover, with polished production and additional electronic elements to add an extra punch.

Unlike Common Courtesy, A Day To Remember haven’t included many quieter emotional ballads or acoustic tracks in Bad Vibrations.  Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of emotion packed into their latest record, but the overall tone falls more towards the anger/frustration end of the spectrum, rather than dealing with sadness, grief or heartbreak.  A few tracks, such as Justified, allude to being a quieter track, but the introduction and bridges are soon swallowed up by powerful chugging guitars and harsh vocals.  The only true ballad on the record is Forgive And Forget, which features gorgeous strings that add to the orchestral feel of the booming, echoey drums.

Bad Vibrations contains a number of changes of pace and tempo across the record, and even within tracks, to prevent the album from melding into one solid mass.  We Got This is an inspirational pop-punk number akin to All I Want or Right Back At It Again, slap bang in the middle of the record to change the tone and keep things fresh.  As well as We Got This, I can see Turn Off The Radio becoming a fan favourite.

I can conclude this review very simply: I absolutely love this record.  A Day To Remember have outdone themselves, and I think it will be very hard to top Bad Vibrations on my list of favourite releases of 2016.  I definitely don’t aim to be a rabid fangirl, and I listened to this record with my ever critical ear, but I honestly didn’t hear anything worth critiquing…unless you were hoping for a lot of friendly poppier tracks, in which case, you’ll be disappointed.  A Day To Remember are a band in their prime, and this record makes me wonder what additional musical masterpieces they’ll be capable of in future.

Highlights: Bad Vibrations, Paranoia, Exposed, Reassemble, Negative Space

News: Deaf Havana announce new album release date

English alt rockers Deaf Havana have announced the release date for their next album in a less than conventional way.  All These Countless Nights is set to be released on the 27th of January next year, following the release of new single Sing earlier this month.  You can watch the video for that track here:

The band’s announcement was made whilst they played the above single during their set at Reading Festival last weekend.  During the performance, an artist spray painted the album title and release date onto the band’s stage backdrop.  If you’re in the UK and want to watch their full performance, you can check it out on the BBC iPlayer here.

Rather than pulling a Beyoncé and dropping a new album with no lead-up, announcement or publicity, or announcing a record the old fashioned way, I appreciate that Deaf Havana have shaken things up and done things a little differently.  Their new track sounds a little different too: the chorus is big and punchy, and it sounds like they’re stepping away from their slightly poppier sounding previous record.

Did you enjoy Deaf Havana’s Reading Festival track? Are you looking forward to their next album? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.