altrocklife’s top 5 albums of 2016

Hello altrocklifers! Today marks the last blog post I will be writing in 2016, and I thought the best way to conclude the year would be to round up the best albums released over the past twelve months.  Going back over my posts written throughout this year, as well as trawling my iTunes library to keep track of all the albums I’ve purchased, gave me a real nostalgia trip.  This year has been brilliant for rock and alternative music, and with new music from You Me At Six, Mallory Knox, Lower Than Atlantis, Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes and more planned for release next year, I can’t wait to see how 2017 will be even better.  Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the best albums of 2016.

The Stage – Avenged Sevenfold

Without doubt, The Stage is the album that had the biggest impact of 2016.  It was released as a surprise with very little promotion or marketing, and it did a great job of shaking up the world of rock and metal music.  As I said in my review of the album, anyone who was expecting a sequel to Hail To The King was proven wrong, as Avenged Sevenfold’s latest record harked back to their City Of Evil days and showed that the Californian band are anything but predictable.  Hopefully this record influences other bands to produce the music they love, without pandering to the mainstream audience and without giving a thought to what their fans or critics might think.

Bad Vibrations – A Day To Remember

When I originally reviewed this album back in September, I wrote that Bad Vibrations was going to be a competitor for my favourite album of the year.  Three months later, that assertion still stands true.  It’s not often that I can write an album review without any negative feedback, but A Day To Remember’s sixth full length album was one of the minority I listen to that get a 100% approval rating.  I’m constantly listening to this record: whether I’m doing my hair and make-up, or if I’m chilling in my bedroom, or I’m in my car head banging on the go.  I genuinely think this is one of the best records released all year, and I really hope I can see the band perform some of these tracks live next year.

Take Control – Slaves

When Slaves found mainstream success with the release of their first album, I was worried that the band would fade into obscurity or change their sound.  Thankfully their second record, Take Control, is just as fun and aggressively punk as its predecessor.  You can tell from the band’s music videos, such as the one above, that the Kent duo are having a brilliant time making music, and I’m having just as much fun listening to them.

If I’m The Devil… – Letlive.

I was the first to admit when reviewing this record that I’ve not listened to a lot of music by letlive.  I’d heard a few singles, sure but I had no idea what it would be like listening to one of their records from beginning to end.  If I’m The Devil… is an album bursting at the seams with anger and passion, but with a sound evolved enough from previous releases to demonstrate their progression as a band.  In my opinion, letlive. are one of the most underrated bands out there at the moment, and if you’ve not listened to their music extensively, then I’m sure that their latest album will have you hooked from first listen.

Death Of A Bachelor – Panic! At The Disco

This record was released in January 2016, and to me it seems like it’s managed to stick around and remain popular and in the public eye all year.  Even though Panic! At The Disco have abandoned their emo roots and become a one man pop band, I think Death Of A Bachelor‘s jazzy sound and vintage 1950s aesthetic has a mass appeal which seems to have won over even old school fans.

What were your favourite albums released this year? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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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

9 incredible tracks you need in your life – August 2016

This month has been a fantastic month for musical announcements, especially leading up to a number of records being released next month.  Here’s my round-up of the best new music releases over the past few weeks.

Trophy Eyes – Heaven Sent

Trophy Eyes have released a slower, post-hardcore sounding track in the lead-up to their next record’s release.  The lyrics are pretty powerful, and I look forward to hearing more from this band.

Yellowcard – The Hurt Is Gone

Yellowcard’s upcoming album marks the end of the band’s career, and this track suggests that they’re pulling out all the stops to make their final record their best yet.

Twin Atlantic – The Chaser

The Scottish rock band’s next record comes out next month, and I can’t wait to hear the full album! Singles such as this one suggest the album will be full of party-ready rock tracks.

A Day To Remember – Naivety

Anyone worried that A Day To Remember’s next record wouldn’t have enough pop-punk influenced tracks will have been proved wrong with this song.  To me it sounds like their upcoming record Bad Vibrations will have a solid mix of pop-punk and heavier, more hardcore tracks.

Of Mice & Men – Real

This track is one of Of Mice & Men’s least heavy numbers, with Austin making the switch to clean vocals during the verses. It seems that the band are attempting to capitalise further on the success of their previous record and launch themselves further into the mainstream limelight.  This evolved sound may not be for everyone, but I say good for them.

Slaves – Spit It Out

With a DIY style music video similar to their previous videos in style, Slaves have made their triumphant return to the limelight with new music.  It seems like only yesterday their debut Are You Satisfied? was released, but I’m definitely not complaining about more material from the Kent punk rockers.

You Me At Six – Night People

You Me At Six announced their return this month, with a new record planned for release in January of next year.  It sounds like the band are aiming for a slightly heavier sound than their previous album Cavalier Youth, which I think is welcome.

Don Broco – Everybody

To me, this song shows Don Broco flexing their muscles a bit and having some fun.  This track is a very strong offering, and the video is weirdly hilarious.  If I don’t see videos of crowds doing the cowboy dance at alternative club nights soon, I’ll be pretty disappointed.

Green Day – Bang Bang

Following frontman Billy Joe’s stint in rehab and the subsequent flop of their trio of records released in 2012, I think a lot of Green Day fans were a little worried about what the band would do next.  But fear not: the punk-rock trio are back with an explosive and politically charged lead single for their next album.

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.

8 incredible tracks you need in your life – July 2016

This past month has been a big one for new alternative music releases.  Something tells me that this summer will be jam-packed with awesome albums and singles, and the recent releases by Biffy Clyro and blink-182 were a great start to this month. Today I decided to run through the best tracks released recently.

Of Mice & Men – Pain

Of Mice & Men’s last album, Restoring Force, received mixed reviews because long term fans felt like the band had sold out and become more mainstream.  Pain is a very obvious return to their more hardcore roots, with fewer clean vocals and more aggressive guitars.  The band have big plans for the rest of the year, with a new record out in September and a UK/EU tour across September and October.

A Day To Remember – Bullfight

Following the first two singles from their upcoming record, Bullfight is the latest single from A Day To Remember.  This track seems to fall somewhere in between the punk-rock Paranoia and the more hardcore Bad Vibrations, which shows that their next record will be anything but predictable.  The band have pushed their album release back from August to September 2nd, which is a little disappointing, but hopefully the final package will be worth the additional wait.

Pierce The Veil – Circles

Pierce The Veil’s latest record Misadventures has been out since May, and Circles is the latest single to be released, along with a video featuring a stay in a house-of-horrors style hotel.  For me this track was one of the strongest on the record, so I’m pleased the band chose to release it.

Die Antwoord – Banana Brain

Fans of Die Antwoord know that this bunch are doing whatever the hell they want, creating record after record of experimental alternative electronic music.  Their latest track is the lead single for their upcoming September release, Mount Ninji And Da Nice Time Kid.

With Confidence – Voldemort

Pop punk newbies and recent additions to the Hopeless Records roster With Confidence released their debut full-length record last month.  This latest track, Voldemort, is a true pop punk track which shows that there’s plenty of new blood entering the genre and keeping things fresh.  Plus, who doesn’t like a cheeky Harry Potter reference?

CHVRCHES ft. Hayley Williams – Bury It

I wouldn’t normally share CHVRCHES on this blog, seeing as they’re a electronic/pop group, however because their latest track Bury It features the lovely Hayley Williams I thought I’d make an exception just this once.  This is a super summery upbeat track – a must for barbecue and garden party playlists!

Neck Deep ft. Mark Hoppus – December (again)

Neck Deep have now released a grand total of four versions of their track December, this time featuring Mark Hoppus of blink-182. Some may say that four versions of one track is excessive, and to be honest I kind of agree with that viewpoint, but each version brings something different to the song, so it could be worse!

Billy Talent – Afraid Of Heights

Billy Talent have released the official music video for Afraid Of Heights just two days before their upcoming record of the same name is due to be released. I’ll be reviewing the album in full on Sunday, but for now, enjoy this single and its sci-fi video.

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.

News: A Day To Remember announce Bad Vibes world tour

A Day To Remember fans have a lot to look forward to over the next few months.  They announced their follow up to their 2013 record Common Courtesy, named Bad Vibrations, will be released on August 19th.  They’ve already released two singles, including Paranoia, and you can see the video for the track here:

This song got me extremely excited for their next album: Common Courtesy had a lot more acoustic influences which meant, for me, that it didn’t pack the same punch as their previous records Homesick and What Separates Me From You.  From the sound of Paranoia and Bad Vibrations I’m already expecting big things from A Day To Remember this year.

Their latest announcement is that A Day To Remember will be setting off on a world tour in December, which will continue until February of next year.  The ‘Bad Vibes’ tour will take the band to Australia, the UK, and a number of countries in mainland Europe including Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Support for the UK and EU legs of the tour hasn’t been announced yet, but the band will be supported by Of Mice & Men throughout the Australia leg.  Unfortunately it’s unlikely that OM&M will be supporting during the UK/EU legs, because they will be on their own headline tour of the UK and EU in October and November.

Here are the dates you can catch A Day To Remember on tour in the UK – I’m hoping to attend the London date, because I have yet to see the band play during a headline tour and I reckon it will be a fantastic experience.

  • 22/1 – International Arena, Cardiff
  • 23/1 – SSE Hydro, Glasgow
  • 25/1 – Barclay Card Arena, Birmingham
  • 27/1 – SSE Wembley Arena, London
  • 28/1 – Leeds Arena

You can also see whether the band will be visiting a European or Australian venue near you here.

What did you think of Paranoia and Bad Vibrations?  Are you planning on attending any of A Day To Remember’s tour dates?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

News: Radio 1 Rock All Dayer takes over the airwaves

Today, the usually pop-oriented BBC Radio 1 have been taken over by rock and alternative music.  So far Twin Atlantic joined Nick Grimshaw on the breakfast show, blink-182 played an acoustic set in the Live Lounge with Clara Amfo, All Time Low hung out with Scott Mills, and Neck Deep were due to join Greg James on the air from 5pm.

This evening Daniel P Carter’s rock show will be joined by co-host Annie Mac and taken over by seven bands performing live sets.  The show is set to be absolutely fantastic; check out the line-up:

7pm – Moose Blood

7:25pm – Against The Current

7:45pm – blink-182

8:05pm – A Day To Remember

8:40pm – Creeper

9:05pm – Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

9:35pm – Asking Alexandria

The line-up is pretty diverse, ranging from pop-punk to post-hardcore to punk and plenty in between.  I’m personally most excited to hear from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, an absolutely brilliant band I have yet to hear perform their debut album, Blossom, live.  Coming a close second in terms of excitement is A Day To Remember: I absolutely love their new tracks Paranoid and Bad Vibrations, so I’m hoping they perform both of those songs.  It will also be interesting to hear blink-182 perform live without previous member Tom Delonge.

I always enjoy when Radio 1 put on days like this, which showcase the best of alternative music to a more mainstream audience. If only they happened more often!

What’s been your highlight of the Radio 1 Rock All Dayer so far? What bands are you most excited to hear tonight? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.