altrocklife’s birthday music haul

Good afternoon altrocklifers! After taking a month out to focus on job hunting, I’m back with another blog update.  Last month I celebrated my 22nd birthday, and what better way to celebrate than to go and spend lots of money in Lush and HMV?  I decided against detailing all of the products I bought in Lush, as they were almost all items I’ve spoken about on this blog before, so instead I decided to go over all of the music I bought, and how I’m enjoying listening to the albums so far.

Young Guns – Ones and Zeros

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I reviewed this record back when it was released in 2015, and I wasn’t massively excited about it back then.  I think I was comparing it to their previous record, Bones, too much, which meant I wasn’t able to appreciate Ones And Zeros for what it is.  I’ve listened to this album in my car a few times, and I’ve really enjoyed driving along to it – it’s a solid record in its own right, and I’d recommend anybody who wasn’t sure about this album back in 2015 to give it another go.

The Amazons – The Amazons

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I couldn’t resist picking up The Amazons’ debut album: over the past few months their tracks Black Magic and Junk Food Forever have had regular appearances in my Spotify daily mix, as well as getting a decent amount of airplay on BBC Radio 1.  This record is a really solid debut album, and I’ve really enjoyed listening to it.

Lorde – Melodrama

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am basically in love with Lorde.  She’s got a beautiful voice, creates great electronic music, and comes across as a total babe in interviews.  I knew during my first listen of Green Light that Melodrama was going to be an incredible album, and I was right!

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

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I loved this album when I reviewed it in June, so I absolutely had to buy a hard copy so I could listen to it on my daily commute.  Hook, Line & Sinker has become one of my favourite tracks of the year so far.

Imagine Dragons – Evolve

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Imagine Dragons are like a gift that keeps on giving.  It’s been just over two years since they released their second full-length album Smoke + Mirrors, so for the band to put out another record so soon is no mean feat.  This album probably has the most electronic influences of their entire discography, but it’s still a solid album, and I really enjoyed my first listen.  I’m looking forward to hearing more of it over the coming weeks.

The Pretty Reckless – Who You Selling For

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I also enjoyed this album when I reviewed it last year, so I was excited to buy a physical copy and stick it in my car.

Lower Than Atlantis – Safe In Sound

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I wasn’t completely enamoured when this record was released earlier this year, but much like The Amazons, I’ve heard a number of tracks from this album on my Spotify daily mix, and slowly but surely Safe In Sound has grown on me.


What do you think of these albums?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: Hydrograd

Afternoon altrocklifers! I’m currently away enjoying myself at Bourne Free pride festival, but luckily for you I took some time out on Friday to review the latest record by five piece Iowa band Stone Sour.  Excitement for the band’s sixth studio album, Hydrograd, started to build back in April with the release of lead single, Fabuless.  You can watch the music video here:

The album itself opens with a cheeky “hello, you bastards” at the beginning of introductory instrumental track YSIF, which summarises Stone Sour’s alternative rock style in a two minute package.  Great riffs, churning bass and inventive drum fills form the meat of the track, with electronic samples, distorted backing vocals and gentle piano adding something a bit special.  Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Corey Taylor is front and centre throughout the record, and that makes sense: Stone Sour is very much his baby, the long-running side project to keep the Slipknot vocalist occupied.

I can understand why Stone Sour decided to release Song #3 as the second single for the album.  It’s easily one of the best – and most radio friendly – on the record, with fantastic lyrics, great drums, and a fantastic guitar solo wrapped up in a fairly punchy four minute package.

Speaking of Taylor, his vocals are just as strong as ever throughout this album.  He switches between melodic verses, occasional crooning, and jarring shouts with ease that betrays his experience.  Since the departure of Taylor’s Slipknot co-member Jim Root back in 2014, this is the first full length record with new lead guitarist Christian Martucci, and he fits into the line-up extremely well.

Hydrograd features fifteen tracks and clocks in at around an hour long, which more than makes up for the four year wait since the second half of House Of Gold & Bones Part Two was released.  Honestly, there are a couple of more generic tracks which could have been shaved off the track list without negatively effecting the album, such as Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I) and the country inspired St. Marie.

Overall, if you consider yourself a fan of Stone Sour, then I think you’ll be pleased with their latest musical offering.  Is Hydrograd as ambitious as their two part concept albums?  Maybe not. But the fact remains that this album is a solid alternative rock offering, full of strong single-worthy tracks accompanied by a number of more chilled ballads.  So whilst their latest record doesn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of House Of Gold & Bones Part 1 & 2, it’s still a great offering in its own right.  I mean, let’s be real, is Corey Taylor capable of producing anything other than fantastic?  I think not.

Highlights: Knievel Has Landed, Song #3, The Witness Trees, Thank God It’s Over, Mercy, Somebody Stole My Eyes

9 incredible tracks you need in your life – June 2017

Happy Sunday altrocklifers! Unfortunately this series had to take a break in May, but now I’m back to bring you a round-up of the best singles released throughout this month.  Strap in – this month is a good one!

Foo Fighters – Run

Foo Fighters kicked off this month in an incredible fashion, with a brand new track and awesome video directed by the main man Dave Grohl himself.  This track is a return to the band’s heavier roots following their last album, Sonic Highways, which had a much more varied sound.

Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo

Wolf Alice are back! This grungy and frankly explosive track is their first release since their debut album, My Love Is Cool, was released in 2015.  It’s a massive song and I can’t wait to hear more!

PVRIS – What’s Wrong

The hype for PVRIS’s upcoming album All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell just keeps building following the release of this brilliant latest single.

Hands Like Houses – Drift

Hands Like Houses recently moved from Rise Records over to Hopeless Records, and what better way for them to celebrate than release a new single?

The Devil Wears Prada – Worldwide

The Devil Wears Prada dropped the latest single from their last full length record, Transit Blues, and it sounds great.

Good Charlotte ft. Kellin Quinn – Keep Swingin’

Taken from their latest album Youth Authority, Good Charlotte released the video for this anthemic track which gives a solid middle finger to the band’s haters.

Trash Boat – Tring Quarry

If you want brand-spanking new British pop punk, then Trash Boat are the band for you.  Here’s their latest single, taken from their album Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through.

With Confidence – Archers

I’m a fan of With Confidence, having featured them in this series before, so I was pretty happy to see the video for this track hit my YouTube subscription box!

Make Them Suffer – Fireworks

Make Them Suffer are an Australian five-piece band, and if you’re a fan of altrocklife you’ll probably know that I’m a big fan of bands which combine male and female vocals.  Even during this track, the dreamy female backing vocals provided by Booka Nile contrast brilliantly with male vocalist Sean Harmanis, so from first listen Fireworks was a winner for me.


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

Celebrate #Pride2017 with the ultimate altrocklife pride playlist

The month of June is celebrated as LGBTQ+ Pride month across the world.  Its goal is to celebrate the progress being made towards equality for all LGBTQ+ people, as well as highlight the many systematic barriers left to tackle before full equality can be achieved.  The point of pride is to raise awareness of local and national issues affecting the local community, and demonstrate the LGBTQ+ community’s spirit of togetherness and cooperation.  It’s also a great opportunity to have a good ol’ knees up.

I’m lucky enough to be attending Bourne Free at the end of the month, and in preparation for the celebrations I’ve put together a playlist of my favourite pride related songs.  Some of these tracks will be by LGBTQ+ artists, some will be classic gay anthems, and some will simply be fantastic party tracks I’ve heard during my many nights at gay bars and clubs.

Some of these tracks bring back some fantastic memories for me.  Work Bitch reminds me of Bournemouth University’s Student Pride in 2016, when the Performing Arts society performed a fantastic dance routine to the track.  It takes me right back to my student days!  Woman’s World harks back to one of my best friends and ex-housemate Jason, who loves Cher with a passion.

Cool For The Summer is all I heard when I was out clubbing and at house parties when the track was released in 2015, and one of my favourite gay bars in Bournemouth is named after the classic ABBA track, Does Your Mother Know.  Plus, All The Things She Said is a classic gay anthem, as is I’m Coming Out and Proud Mary. I’m looking forward to getting this playlist on the go at Bourne Free this year.


What do you think of this playlist? Did I miss any essential tracks? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: How Did We Get So Dark?

Today I’m extremely excited to review How Did We Get So Dark?, the second full length album by Brighton rock duo Royal Blood.  This band burst onto the scene in late 2014 with the release of their eponymous first album, and their latest record is its highly anticipated follow-up.  The band released its first single, Lights Out, back in April, and you can watch the brilliant music video here:

Now on to the record.  The album opens with the title track, a strong opener with undulating bass throughout the verses and grungy riffs adding depth to the chorus.  It features a great outro, with fantastic drum fills and staccato backing vocals repeating the album name over and over again, which adds a creepy vibe to the song.

Then follows the lead single, Lights Out, arguably one of Royal Blood’s best tracks yet, with a catchy chorus easy to sing – or shout – along to, and a fantastic bass solo.  Next is the album’s second single, I Only Lie When I Love You, a grungy track positively dripping with swagger and attitude.  The lyrics discuss relationships and break-ups, which are a consistent lyrical theme throughout the record.  But then, isn’t love and loss present regularly in everyone’s lives?  Vocalist Mike Kerr’s voice remains as strong as ever, switching between sounding soft and emotive and louder, on the verge of shouting, with ease.  Plus, the drumming throughout the record, provided by Ben Thatcher, is masterful.

Hook, Line & Sinker is this album’s Ten Tonne Skeleton: it’s hands down the best song on the record, with fantastic catchy lyrics and imaginative instrumentals unmatched by anything else the band have put out.  It was pretty difficult for me to list my highlights of this 10-song album, because the entire record is fantastic, but Hook, Line & Sinker is truly on another level.

To me, How Did We Get So Dark? is reminiscent of Biffy Clyro’s work: the drums layered with additional percussion and higher pitched backing vocals draw parallels to their Opposites and Ellipsis albums.  Plus, the bass towards the end of Lights Out has a distinct Black Chandelier vibe.

Recently Royal Blood explained to NME that they took inspiration from David Bowie to create this album, but to me it seems clear that their influences are many and varied.  This band have been compared to Queens Of The Stone Age and Muse amongst others, and their latest album sounds like they’re trying to live up to those massive comparisons.

Overall, this record is dark and moody, and a fantastic follow-up to their first album.  My only criticism is that, at 35 minutes long, there isn’t nearly enough of How Did We Get So Dark? to keep me occupied until Royal Blood release their next album.  This band are a fantastic example of home-grown UK talent, and I’ll be following their future success very closely.

Highlights: I Only Lie When I Love You, She’s Creeping, Look Like You Know, Hook, Line & Sinker

10 great bands to see live in winter 2017

If you’ve been following alternative music news as closely as I have, you’ll know that there are some awesome bands set to play UK tours towards the end of this year.  Today I thought I’d run through some of these upcoming live dates, whether I’m planning on attending one of the gigs or just wish I could.

New Found Glory – September/October 2017, dates here

Pop punk legends New Found Glory, who are celebrating the band’s 20th year, will be visiting our shores in September/October of this year.  Their latest record was released in April, so it will be exciting for fans to hear some of those newer tracks live alongside older classics.

Metallica – October 2017, dates here

Metal giants Metallica will be returning to UK shores this October, but alas, the general sale for all of their dates have already sold out.  Bad luck to everyone who missed out!

Enter Shikari – November 2017, dates here

I already covered the news of Enter Shikari’s upcoming UK tour last month, but I had to include them in this round-up because their line-up is absolutely fantastic.  Lower Than Atlantis put on a great show, and Astroid Boys are an innovative up-and-coming band, so I’m certain this tour will be one to remember.  I’ve already seen Enter Shikari live four times, and their performances are always incredible, so I’d love to make it five in November at the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena.

Royal Blood – November 2017, dates here

Royal Blood will be performing their first ever headline arena dates this year, and I can’t wait to see them fill the huge venues with their awesome sound.  The band recently announced At The Drive In and Black Honey as their support acts, so I’m certain these dates will not disappoint.

Alice Cooper – November 2017, dates here

Rock ‘n’ roll giant Alice Cooper will be bringing his incredible live performances and stage shows back to the UK in November of this year.  If you attend one of his gigs, it’s certain to be a night you won’t forget in a hurry.

PVRIS, November 2017, dates here

PVRIS are set to release their upcoming second album, All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell in August, and a few months later they’ll be celebrating its release with a short run of UK dates.

Good Charlotte – November/December 2017, dates here

Good Charlotte’s latest album, Youth Authority, got a decent write-up here on altrocklife, so it would be awesome to see the band perform some of their new tracks live.  Plus, let’s be real, this band are pop punk legends, and it would be a nostalgia-filled trip to the past to see Good Charlotte perform live.

The Kooks – November/December 2017, dates here

Pop rock legends The Kooks are doing a Best Of tour at the end of this year, and it would be awesome to see them live.  Most people I know grew up listening to The Kooks, so I’m sure it would be fantastic to see them perform their greatest hits.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – December 2017, dates here

Everyone who’s seen The Rattlesnakes live know that this group put on an incredible show, and I’m extremely lucky to have already bought my ticket to see them in Nottingham on December 6th.  It’ll be my first time seeing The Rattlesnakes, and long term readers of altrocklife will know how long I’ve been waiting to see this band.  If you’ve got the opportunity to see them live, you’ll regret it if you don’t take it.

Marilyn Manson – December 2017, dates here

Marilyn Manson is one of the most infamous musicians on the scene, with a solid fanbase built over the past 20+ years.  You’d have to be pretty lucky to catch him during this short string of UK dates.


Have you got tickets for any of these tours?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: Hear It Calls

Hi altrocklifers! Today I’ll be reviewing the latest EP by up-and-coming Texas band, The Naked Tungs.  The four piece band put out the five track EP, Hear It Calls, yesterday, following the release of their single Valium And Vodka earlier this month.  The band have a fun, garage rock sound, and I’m excited to introduce this band to my readers.

The Naked Tungs Hear It Calls EP cover

The EP begins with opening track Someone Else, setting things off with a catchy and upbeat guitar solo, which repeats throughout the song.  Female vocalist Sarah R. provides the vocals for this track, and whilst her voice might not be technically perfect, her attitude comes across really well.  The last 30 seconds or so of the track is made up of an awesome instrumental, notable for its interesting drum fills.  Lyrically the track talks about how people can change under the influence of drugs, and this theme of partying, drugs and alcohol carries on throughout the rest of the EP.

Next up is the EP’s title track, Hear It Calls, this time sung by male vocalist Hersh C.  The higher pitched guitars and more focus on cymbals, as well as the slight echoing effect on Hersh’s voice, gives the song a more indie feel compared to others on the EP.  This is a really fun track which adds to the party vibe mentioned in the lyrics running throughout.

My favourite track on Hear It Calls is definitely Valium And Vodka, and I can understand exactly why the band decided to release it as a single.  The track is a great summation of The Naked Tungs’ sound as a whole: Sarah’s vocals are at their strongest here, and the instrumentals feature a strong bass line, interesting plucked guitar features, and inventive drumming.

The EP’s penumtilate track is All Of This, possibly the most grungy track on the EP, which suits its low-fi production perfectly.  Hear It Calls is then rounded off by Its Alright, the longest track on the EP at over six minutes long, which really lets the band stretch their creative muscles and just jam.

You can listen to Hear It Calls on the band’s Bandcamp page, or alternatively stream it on Spotify – just pop The Naked Tungs into your search bar.  If you’re a fan of Band Of Skulls of Wolf Alice, I reckon The Naked Tungs are a band you definitely need to get into.

Review: After Laughter

Paramore are currently a three piece band from Tennessee, having shifted genres and reshuffled line-ups many times since their formation in 2004.  Friday marked the release of their fifth full length studio album, After Laughter.  Their current reincarnation is that of a cutesy pop-rock three piece with 80s vibes, demonstrated by the album’s lead single, Hard Times.  You can see the video here:

Hard Times is the opening track for the record, and it definitely sets the tone for what is to come.  Gone are the days of Paramore’s emo classics like crushcrushcrush, or their more acoustic, stripped back numbers such as Misguided Ghosts.  This track is chock full of fun pop elements, such as gang vocals, fun synths and the wacky “and I gotta get to rock bottom” garnishing each chorus.

Williams’ songwriting has continued to grow over the years, and at some points is in direct contrast to the light-hearted pop sounding instrumentals.  Williams seems content to lay out her feelings of anxiety, frustration and pessimism with more nuance and grace than ever before.  Whilst the instrumentals on After Laughter often sound sweet, the actual lyrical content sometimes leaves a sour aftertaste, and I really appreciate the band’s complexity.  One of the best examples of this is Fake Happy, with its cheerful sounding veneer and “ba-da ba-da ba ba” backing vocals sugar coating feelings of sadness and the pressure to maintain appearances.  Another is the incredible Idle Worship, where Williams purposely distorts the sound of her voice to illustrate her confusion and frustration with being put on a pedestal.

This album has also allowed Williams to change things up with her vocals.  Williams has an incredible vocal talent, and previous albums really stretched to demonstrate that – think back to All I Wanted from Brand New Eyes, for one example.  Nowadays she no longer has to prove her vocal prowess, and to me it sounds like Williams has taken a small step back.  She’s the front woman of Paramore, that’s not up for discussion, but After Laughter seems to focus a little more on their musical experimentation than vocals.  To me this is best demonstrated in tracks such as Rose-Colored Boy and the slower paced Forgiveness.

The sound of After Laughter reminds me a lot of Walk The Moon’s second record, Talking Is Hard, in terms of its vaguely 80s vibe and fun, summery upbeat themes running throughout.  This is absolutely a compliment, as both albums confidently combine pop elements with more mature and complex songwriting.  I’m looking forward to getting hold of a hard copy of After Laughter so I can put it in my car and listen whilst driving down the motorway, windows down: this is the perfect record for those long drives.

Some Paramore fans seemed to express surprise and the band’s new pop sound, but in my mind, After Laughter was the next logical step for the band.  Brand New Eyes took the band further away from their emo origins with a number of more chilled, acoustic tracks, and their self titled fourth record was the album that garnered them the most commercial and critical success.  As the band have grown older and wiser, it’s obvious to me that they would shed their angsty teen attitude to songwriting and cultivate a more mature sound.  The songwriting in After Laughter is miles away from the petty and venomous “once a whore you’re nothing more, I’m sorry that’ll never change” from Misery Business.

Overall, I honestly think After Laughter is a strong competitor for one of the best pop records 2017.  Fans of Paramore’s self titled album will definitely enjoy their latest LP, and although fans of their first two records may feel that the band have lost their way, I for one think that they’ve found it.  Williams, Farro and York seem to be creating the music they really want to make, and if that’s the case, then I am 100 per cent behind it.

 Highlights: Hard Times, Fake Happy, Grudges, Idle Worship

9 incredible tracks you need in your life – April 2017

Hi altrocklifers, and welcome to my first update on a Wednesday, thanks to my new schedule.  Now you’ll have even less time to wait in between updates: lucky you!  It’s nearly the end of the month, so you all know what that means – today I’ll be looking back through April and sharing the best new tracks released this month.

Tonight Alive – World Away

Tonight Alive’s previous record, Limitless, had a more pop-rock feel to their first two albums.  To me it sounds like World Away is a return to the band’s more punk-pop/alternative rock roots, and that’s definitely no bad thing.

Paramore – Hard Times

This track is probably the most pop-inspired track ever put out by Paramore, and the electronic influences and music video have a serious 80s vibe.  This is a very upbeat and summery track, and whilst some Paramore fans are against the new sound, I really like it!  I’m excited to hear the rest of their upcoming record, After Laughter.

Obey The Brave – On Our Own

Sometimes you just really need some new metalcore tracks in your life, and Obey The Brave’s latest offering really scratched that itch.

Royal Blood – Lights Out

For the past year or so, I’ve been wondering when Brighton duo Royal Blood would return with new music for their eager fans.  Thankfully the band returned earlier this month with the first single from their upcoming second album, How Did We Get So Dark?, and it’s a real banger.

Have Mercy – Good Christian Man

I reviewed Have Mercy’s latest record, Make The Best Of It, on Sunday, and this track was one of my highlights from the album.  You can read the full review here.

New Found Glory – Party On Apocalypse 

New Found Glory are one of those bands who have stuck to the same sound for years, and their consistency makes them one of the best pop-punk bands around.

Of Mice & Men – Unbreakable

Unbreakable is the first track released by Of Mice & Men since previous lead vocalist Austin Carlile had to leave the band due to ongoing health issues.  When it was announced that the band would be continuing as a four piece, fans were concerned as to whether vocalist and bass player Aaron Pauley would step up and sing both clean and harsh vocals on their new tracks.  This track answers that question with a definite yes: Pauley is more than capable of filling Carlile’s shoes, and I can’t wait to hear more from the group.

Papa Roach – American Dreams

This latest track from Papa Roach sounds like the band are harking back to their earlier days, especially throughout the verses.  I can always appreciate a band who takes elements of their old sound and bring them up to date, so I can’t wait to hear their upcoming record, Crooked Teeth.

Blondie – Long Time

My Mum is a massive fan of Blondie, so I’ve been listening to the classic voice of Debbie Harry since I was a kid.  Long Time proves that the band have still got what it takes to put out great sounding tracks.


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

Review: Make The Best Of It

Afternoon altrocklifers!  Today I’ll be reviewing the latest album by Maryland band Have Mercy.  Formed in 2011, the band now only has one official member – vocalist and guitarist Brian Swindle – following the departure of its other members last year.  I’m excited to hear how their third full length album, Make The Best Of It, will sound in comparison to their earlier records, put together when the band was still a five-piece.  It was the video for Have Mercy’s 2013 track, Let’s Talk About Your Hair, that got me interested in this band, so I was excited to hear Coexist, the first single released from the album released on Friday.  You can see the music video for the track here:

I can absolutely understand why Coexist was chosen to be the lead single for the album: it manages to wrap up the Have Mercy sound into one concise, three minute track.  Muted verses are contrasted by a rough-around the edges, almost shouted chorus, and the combination of rumbling drums and simple yet effective riffs gives the song a real stadium filling vibe.

On to the record: Make The Best Of It begins with Smoke And Lace, a high tempo track full of undulating bass, crashing drums, and a catchy chorus.  It’s full of energy, and to me the perfect album opening track.  This album is anything but predictable, shifting from almost pop-punk offerings such as Begging For Bones, to the melodic and gentle guitars of Ghost.

Something I’ve always enjoyed about Have Mercy is vocalist Swindle’s vocal technique: in their earlier releases his voice sounded much more gravelly and rough around the edges, and there was definitely more uncontrolled emotion and aggression.  Now, however, his vocals are much more focused and precise, and it’s obvious that he’s developed his technique over the years.  There’s still plenty of emotion, but these emotions are put across in a more refined way.

An example of this is the dark and angry Reaper, where Swindle fantasises about the death of his ex’s new boyfriend.  The pre-chorus riffs fading to simple feedback when Swindle first sings “I cut the brakes on his Camaro” gives the track a creepy atmosphere, emphasising that threat.  Good Christian Man is easily my highlight of the album: it’s an extremely melancholy song both instrumentally and lyrically, and his struggle to reconcile his beliefs as a Christian shows Swindle at his most vulnerable.

Plus, I’m not sure how they do it, but Have Mercy has a way of creating incredible atmosphere with their tracks.  Whether it’s the layered guitars or cymbal heavy drums which create almost a white-noise effect, the Have Mercy listening experience stands out from other similar bands.  Signed to Hopeless Records, the so-called emo revival, and recent influx of new alternative/indie/rock bands that this band is part of, can seem crowded.  However, I think Have Mercy  stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Considering the band’s radical upheaval last year, the title of Make The Best Of It could very well be an indicator of how Swindle felt about the album: these circumstances are less than ideal, but let’s try to work with what I’ve got.  The results?  An album which exemplifies growth as a musician, and achieving above and beyond personal expectations.  If you weren’t sold on Have Mercy as a band before, now is the time to listen up and pay attention.

Highlights: Coexist, Begging For Bones, Reaper, Good Christian Man