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.

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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

Review: Same Sun Same Moon

Little Hurricane are a rock and blues duo from San Diego, California, formed back in 2010.  Over the years the band have released three records, including an album of cover songs, and Friday marked the release of their fourth album, Same Sun Same Moon.  The first single from the album, OTL, was released last month, and you can watch the video here:

Now, on to the album.  Same Sun Same Moon begins with the title track, which is a bassy, upbeat start to the record with cutesy, optimistic lyrics.  This leads into Bad Business, a more bluesy number with a grungy, guitar led chorus.

This record is anything but predictable.  Tracks shift between high tempo, riff heavy sounds and more indie, acoustic vibes, keeping the listener guessing as to where the record will take you next.  There are also occasional touches of brass, ukulele and piano which demonstrate that Little Hurricane are willing to experiment a little with their music, and don’t let themselves be restricted by the ‘blues’ label.

I’m a big fan of frontman Anthony Catalano’s vocals throughout this record.  His voice can be clear and crisp, or rough around the edges, depending on the tone of the track, and I really like that versatility.  Plus, the occasional female vocals from drummer Celeste Spina add a pleasant, soft contrast to Catalano’s deeper voice.  Plus, it helps to illustrate the evolution of their relationship –  since forming the band, the two have fallen in love and married, as discussed in OTL.

I also like the combination of drummer Spina’s indie/bluesy playing with programmed electronic beats.  This combination helps to add a more pop-sounding vibe to some tracks, like the bridge and chorus of Isn’t It Great, as well as a more grungy sound to tracks like March Of The Living.

This was my first listen to Little Hurricane, and I’m a little sad that I’ve been missing out on their music all these years.  It almost defies belief that such a well-rounded, mature sound can come from just a two-piece.  If you’re a fan of groups like Band Of Skulls or Foals, you definitely need to get this indie/blues duo on your playlist, stat.  Same Sun Same Moon is a great all-round record, with compelling lyrics and an upbeat, hopeful sound.

Highlights: Bad Business, Take It Slow, Mt. Senorita, Slingshot

7 incredible tracks you need in your life – March 2017

It’s that time of the month again! Today I’ll be going over the best tracks released throughout the past 30 days.

London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful Thing

I think most people with ears would agree that London Grammar are a band with a beautiful, atmospheric sound.  I absolutely cannot wait to hear more from this group.

PWR BTTM – Answer My Text

Ah, a track about navigating the modern age of dating and the woes of waiting for someone you fancy to text you back.  Why is this track so relatable?  This is a single from PWR BTTM’s upcoming second record, Pageant, due for release in May.

All Time Low – Last Young Renegade

This is the second single to be released from All Time Low’s upcoming record of the same name, and to me this song is stronger than its predecessor, Dirty Laundry.  I’m looking forward to hearing more from the album.

Palisades – Let Down

Palisades is one of the younger bands currently signed to Rise Records, and their electronic/hardcore sound means I reckon they’ll continue to find greater success.  Let Down is the latest single from their self titled record, released last year.

Have Mercy – Coexist

Have Mercy are one of those bands that I’ve followed on and off for the past few years.  The build up to their upcoming album, Make The Best Of It, is making me realise this is a band to pay closer attention to and take more seriously.

Black Stone Cherry – Cheaper To Drink Alone

This track is a pretty fun party song, and I can easily imagine it playing in the background of a rock bar, or at a house party.  However, the guest appearance by Lzzy Hale from Halestorm in the video was enough to sell this track to me.

Incubus – Glitterbomb

You can’t beat a bit of Incubus, and this latest track just proves that the band are still alive and kicking.


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: Mallory Knox, Cambridge Corn Exchange

Last night, I was lucky enough to see Mallory Knox perform live for the second time.  Last time I caught the band live was at Leeds Festival in 2014, not long before the release of their second album, Asymmetry.  This time, the band are touring to promote their third record, Wired.  

First off, however, I’ll talk about the support acts.  Scottish act Fatherson were first to take to the stage, and this was my second time seeing them perform live – the first time was when they supported Enter Shikari on The Mindsweep tour.  In all honesty, I thought their performance took a little while to kick off, so maybe the first 20 minutes of their set was a bit lacklustre.  Their last couple of songs, thankfully, picked up the band’s energy levels and managed to get the crowd jumping.   Here’s the video for Lost Little Boys, one of the tracks the band played last night.

Next up were fellow Cambridge band Lonely The Brave. Unfortunately their performance was marred by a few technical issues: lead vocalist David Jakes had a number of issues with his microphone and in-ear headphones, so there were a few awkward pauses between songs whilst the problems were sorted out.  Otherwise, the band’s performance was spot on, just as good as when I saw them supporting Deaf Havana in 2014. Check out Black Mire, one of my favourite Lonely The Brave tracks:

Finally, Mallory Knox took to the stage.  Their performance was very strong throughout the night, with the entire band working together like a well oiled machine. Lead vocalist Mikey Chapman had some trouble with his voice, declaring about halfway through the set that his voice was “fucked up”, but he managed to power through and perform the rest of the set.  Plus, backing vocals from bassist Sam Douglas helped to fill any gaps.

The band’s set list was very strong, with a great mixture of tracks from all three of their albums.  They probably got the strongest reaction from the crowd whilst playing Lighthouse, Beggars and Wake Up from their debut record Signals, but it seemed like the crowd were equally happy hearing songs from Asymmetry.  The tracks from Mallory Knox’s latest album went down very well, and even though Wired was only released a couple of weeks ago, a decent portion of the crowd were singing along to the tracks.  Here’s the video for last night’s opening track, Giving It Up:


So there you have it.  Mallory Knox put on an awesome show, and if you have the opportunity to see them live, you’d be silly if you didn’t take it.

Have you already seen Mallory Knox live on their Wired tour?  What did you think of their performance?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: The Haze

Pulled Apart By Horses are an indie/alternative rock four-piece from Leeds.  Formed in 2008, the band have put out three full length albums over the years.  On Friday, the band released their fourth record, The Haze.  Hype for this record started building in November with the release of the lead single, The Big What If.  You can watch the video for the track here:

The record opens with its title trackmade up of grungy riffs and raw shouty vocals which demonstrates the band’s gritty rock ‘n’ roll sound perfectly.  The Big What If follows, and its fun tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as “I pray to my own toilet bowl that I won’t be swallowed whole” demonstrate that Pulled  Apart By Horses aren’t the type to take themselves too seriously.

One of the running themes of the record is the band’s up tempo, high intensity style which makes The Haze’s listening experience endlessly exciting.  You never quite know whether an awesome drum fill, wailing guitar riff or snarled vocal hook is coming next, and that’s what makes the album so interesting.  There are also plenty of catchy shout-along choruses to be found as well, demonstrated perfectly by Flash Lads and My Evil Twin.

There are a couple of slower tracks to be found on The Haze as well, such as the meandering Lamping which is full of la-la-las and starts out with a cool, trippy intro of birdsong and synths.  It’s the longest song on the record clocking in at just under four and a half minutes long, but I reckon the track needed that amount of breathing room, and the rest of the album is punchy enough that Lamping is a welcome change of pace.

Back in 2015 Pulled Apart By Horses’ original drummer, Lee Vincent, left the band and was replaced with Tommy Davidson, and I honestly feel like the new drums have injected a new lease of life into the band.  From an outsider’s perspective it seems to me that the line-up change forced the band to approach writing for The Haze in a new, fresh way.  Frontman Tom Hudson explained in interviews that the band recorded the album back on an isolated farm in Wales, and it seems like this helped them to focus solely on creating a kick ass record.

Highlights: The Big What If, Neighbourhood Witch, Lamping, My Evil Twin

Review: Wired

Friday marked the release of Cambridge band Mallory Knox’s third full length album, Wired.  Hype for this record started building when the band released its lead single and opening track, Giving It Up: you can watch the music video for the track here:

Giving It Up is a fantastic opening to the record, with its bassy, grungy introduction and vocalist Mikey Chapman changing up his usual style to favour a falsetto in the chorus.  In fact, I pre-ordered the record on the strength of both the lead single and Better Off Without You, so it’s safe to say I have big expectations for Wired.

The second track, California, is an awesome song with summery vibes, and not just because it references the golden state in its title.  Its huge chorus with layered backing vocals bring to mind the image of driving down a palm tree lined boulevard, with the windows down and car speakers blasting.

Lyrically the record is even more personal than the band’s previous efforts: For You and Better Off Without You discuss bassist/vocalist Sam Douglas’s struggle with mental health and use of antidepressants in a raw and honest way.  These tracks are definitely the jewels in the Wired crown: Mallory Knox are at their best when being open, honest, vulnerable, and willing to take chances.

Another favourite is the gorgeous Falling In Love: it starts slow and quiet, with the focus on the emotion in Mikey’s voice, which builds with more layers of raw vocals and powerful guitar riffs as the track plays out.  Plus, Lucky Me is arguably Mallory Knox’s most aggressive track yet, and I absolutely love it.

That’s not to say that Wired is perfect, however.  Midnight is a pretty generic track, with little imagination in terms of the instrumentals or its lyrical content.  It’s not an awful song, don’t get me wrong, but to me it screams “filler” and the album wouldn’t have suffered if it hadn’t made it on to the final track list.

Overall, it’s obvious that Mallory Knox have grown and matured as a band when comparing their latest album to their previous records, Signals and Asymmetry.  The band have grown together, and are experimenting with new musical elements without leaving their signature sound behind.  The band’s incredible atmospheric choruses and thought provoking lyrics have evolved and simply become better and better over the years.  Mallory Knox are already doing pretty well for themselves, but I predict Wired will help launch the Cambridge lads towards further success.

Highlights: California, For You, Lucky Me, Saviour, Mother

7 incredible tracks you need in your life – February 2017

February is the shortest month of the year, but that doesn’t mean there was any shortage of great tracks released over the past few weeks.  Here’s my round-up of the best singles and music videos put out this month!

Knuckle Puck – Indecisive 

Chicago pop-punk band Knuckle Puck are returning with a new EP, Calendar Days / Indecisive, on March 17th, and this is one of the titular tracks.  The melancholy lyrics and acoustic vibes make it a perfect track to listen to with a mug of hot tea or coffee in this February weather.

All Time Low – Dirty Laundry

I’ll be honest and say that the first two thirds(ish) of this track didn’t inspire me very much, but the guitar solo leading into the final chorus turned Dirty Laundry around for me.  I’m looking forward to hearing their upcoming seventh studio album, Last Young Renegade, set to be released on June 2nd.

Cover Your Tracks – Striking Matches

Cover Your Tracks is a band formed from the ashes of a number of failed bands, such as Woe, Is Me, Decoder, and Cursed Sails.  The result is a great hardcore track with a smattering of electronic breaks and a catchy chorus.

Imagine Dragons – Believer

I’ve been a big fan of Imagine Dragons for a long time, and I really enjoyed their second full length record, Smoke + Mirrors, which came out back in 2014.  Believer has me excited for a potential third album on the way.

Taking Back Sunday – Call Come Running

This track is from Taking Back Sunday’s latest record, Tidal Wave, and I featured Death Wolf, another song from that album, back in the September 2016 edition of X incredible tracks.  I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve heard from this album, so Call Come Running definitely deserved a feature today.

While She Sleeps ft. Oli Sykes – Silence Speaks

To me, While She Sleeps has been an inescapable part of the British metalcore/hardcore scene, so to see them collaborating with Oli Sykes, one of the most recognisable front men in the industry, is a pretty big deal.  I’ll be honest and say that I never used to be a big fan of this band, but Silence Speaks has made me reconsider my opinion.  I look forward to hearing While She Sleeps’ upcoming third full length album, You Are We.

Pierce The Veil – Floral And Fading

Pierce The Veil’s Misadventures was released last May, and Floral And Fading is the latest single to be released from the record.  The video, set in an American 1950s bowling alley, is great fun to watch if only because of bassist Jaime Preciado’s afro.


What did you think of this month’s round-up? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.