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.

Advertisements

Review: Of Mice & Men, Nottingham Rock City

Last night I went along to Nottingham and saw one of my favourite bands, Of Mice & Men, performing live for the fourth time.  I hadn’t planned on attending, however a last minute change to my work and my sister’s sixth form schedule meant we could take the trip to see the performance.  I didn’t manage to get any photos from the gig, but here’s a snap from the band’s Instagram account which will give you a taste of the atmosphere.

A photo posted by Of Mice & Men (@omandm) on Oct 4, 2016 at 12:13am PDT

We arrived to the venue a little late, so unfortunately we only heard opening act Hands Like Houses perform three songs of their set.  From what I heard, I really enjoyed their performance: the vocalist’s voice was strong throughout, and the instrumentals sounded pretty tight.  These guys were definitely a solid choice of opening act.  Here’s the video for one of the songs they played:

Following Hands Like Houses was Crown The Empire, whose performance I also really enjoyed.  There were a couple of issues with microphone levels throughout this set, however: during the first couple of songs the vocalist’s voice was drowned out by the instruments, and towards the end his microphone was too loud and the guitars were overpowered.  Even noticing this issue, I still thought Crown The Empire put on a great show, and they really helped to amp up the atmosphere in preparation for Of Mice & Men to take to the stage.  Here’s the music video to one of the songs I most enjoyed hearing them play:

Then it was time for the main act to take to the stage.  Of Mice & Men opened with Pain, one of my favourites from their new record Cold World, and it was a fantastic, high energy start to the gig.  They mainly played songs from the new record, which is understandable as it was only released a couple of weeks ago, as well as a fair few from Restoring Force.  I was extremely pleased when I realised that they were also playing The Calm, The Storm, The Flood and The Depths in succession, which definitely went down well with more long term fans of the band.  Their encore was topped off with Second & Sebring, was was probably my highlight of the whole night.

Overall the performance by Of Mice & Men was brilliant, as per usual, with no noticeable technical issues or dodgy microphone levels.  In the past I’ve consistently noted that Aaron Pauley’s vocals live were fairly weak and quiet, however even though he complained of waking up with a cold yesterday morning, I think his vocal performance was the best I’ve heard.  Maybe he was pushing his voice harder than usual to make up for his illness?  The only issue I found with the band’s performance was Austin Carlile’s clean vocals during Away: I thought his voice was quite nasal, and reckon he’d be better off sticking to harsh vocals from now on.

It was definitely worth seeing Of Mice & Men for the fourth time, as to me their performances are getting better and better every time.  If you’re able to attend any of the remaining UK tour dates this month, I’d highly recommend it.

Were you at the gig last night?  What did you think of the performance?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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

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.

Review: Of Mice & Men, Nottingham Rock City

Last night was a first for me: I’ve never been to a gig at Nottingham’s Rock City, and I really enjoyed myself.  It’s a really nice venue and so well laid out too: even stood at the back next to the sound pit, I still had a perfect view of the stage thanks to the step down in front of us.  My poor old camera isn’t really suited to taking pictures at gigs, but here are the best pictures I took last night:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First up on the line-up was Volumes, and unfortunately due to having to queue for the box office we missed most of their set.  I thought it was a bit strange that they started playing so early, as doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and their set was finished by about 7:10 p.m., but maybe there was an early curfew last night.  Their performance was pretty good, even if their vocals aren’t to my taste.  I haven’t seen a crowd as excited for support acts as they were for Volumes and The Amity Affliction, who came next.  Here’s Wormholes, one of the better tracks they played last night.

Next was The Amity Affliction, who put on an awesome show.  Their performance was spot-on and they also got the crowd extremely excited.  I especially like the mixture of Ahren and Joel’s vocals, plus drummer Ryan was on point and enthusiastic throughout the set.  This is Don’t Lean On Me, the track they closed their set with.

Then Of Mice & Men took to the stage.  I was more excited to see them than usual, considering this will be my third time watching the Orange County quintet perform live.  They’re now the band I’ve seen live more than any other, and Of Mice & Men definitely deserve that honour.

This was the first time I’ve seen them headline a gig: the past two times I saw them live, they played at Leeds Festival and in support of Linkin Park at the O2.  You could definitely tell that it was their headline tour, because the entire band was full of swagger and attitude walking on stage.

As per usual, their performance was fantastic.  Their setlist had a good mixture of songs from not only their latest album and its re-issue, Restoring Force and Restoring Force: Full Circle, but from their first two albums as well.  I was really excited that they played O.G. Loko, Let Live and Second & Sebring, as well as including The Depths in the encore.  It was clear to see how excited Of Mice & Men were to be on stage, and the crowd responded with boundless excitement.

Aaron’s vocals were a little wobbly at points, which is something I’ve noticed every time we’ve seen him perform live.  This didn’t detract from the overall performance, but the night would have been improved if he didn’t have to battle quite so hard to be heard over the guitars, drums, and Austin’s vocals.  As it turns out, the crowd were singing on loudly enough to make up for Aaron’s lack of volume.

It’s a shame that Of Mice & Men probably won’t be returning to UK shores until next year, as I would love to see them live again.  It was obvious that the band really enjoyed their performance last night.  Every time I listen to Restoring Force I’ll think of last night’s gig – it was unforgettable.

Currently listening to: Hit The WaveMarmozets

Review: Linkin Park, O2 Arena London

Honestly, this gig could not have come quickly enough.  I’ve been a fan of Linkin Park since I picked up their Minutes To Midnight album back four or five years ago, and I’ve wanted to see the California six-piece live ever since.  If you’d told 14-year-old me that I’d get to see Linkin Park live someday, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

But, back to the gig itself, starting with the support act – Of Mice & Men were an odd choice, I thought, considering the genre difference.  However, their sound was loud enough to fill the O2, and their performance was electric, like it had been at Leeds Festival a few months ago.

As an aside, by the way, check out how close we were to the stage!  I was a little worried when I found out we had seated tickets, in case we ended up right up in the back corner of the arena, but I was more than happy with these seats – the closest I’ve ever sat to the stage at an arena gig so far!

Anyway, back to Of Mice & Men.  I was a little disappointed in their setlist, because aside from The Depths, every track was from their latest album Restoring Force.  As much as I love that album, I would have really loved to hear some of their older tracks, especially some songs they didn’t play at Leeds Festival, but that’s just me being picky.

After a few songs even reluctant crowd members were getting excited by the Orange County quintet.  Austin’s vocals were spot-on, and he did a great job of getting the crowd excited.  Aaron’s clean vocals were drowned out by the instruments a little, possibly down to nervousness or maybe his mic levels were too low – however, what I did hear of his voice was excellent.

The atmosphere during Another You was awesome – the crowd all held up their lighters or phones, and because my sister and I were the only people in our block of seats with their phone lights on, Austin came over and waved at us!  That was a pretty awesome feeling.

Overall, I definitely wasn’t disappointed by Of Mice & Men’s performance, and when they come back to the UK next March/April on tour I hope to be able to see them perform in a more intimate venue.

Now, with no further ado, on to the main event: Linkin Park.

As soon as Linkin Park walked on stage, I knew the entire crowd was in for an unforgettable experience.  Chester and Mike’s vocals were on point throughout the entire night, even if Chester did sound a little nasal at times. Guitarist and Bassist Brad and Phoenix were great fun to watch interacting with the crowd and getting everybody hyped.  Drummer Rob’s performance was flawless throughout the entire night, and his drum solo near the end of the set was one of my show highlights.  Mr Hahn could have done more to interact with the crowd – when he had nothing to do, he simply sat down behind the turntables.

The band’s 16 years of touring was evident in that their performance was like a well-oiled machine.  However, Chester and Mike’s interactions with the crowd and each other gave the night its own unique spin.

Overall I was extremely happy with the setlist – the band used a lot of mash-ups and played shortened versions of fan favourites to try and cover a decent snapshot of their lengthy discography.  It was heartening to see the audience reacted just as positively to tracks from The Hunting Party to those from Hybrid Theory and Meteora, which just goes to demonstrate Linkin Park’s wide appeal, and explains their continued success.

Whilst it would have been good to hear more full-length tracks, obviously time constraints meant that just wasn’t viable, and although I was saddened that a lot of older songs were cut down, it makes sense that on The Hunting Party Tour they would want to play full-length songs from that album.

Highlights included the stripped-back piano mash-up of Leave Out All The Rest,Shadow Of The Day and Iridescent, and the entire encore which included Lost In The Echo, New Divide, Until It’s Gone, What I’ve Done and the incredible Bleed It Out.

Last night was my first arena gig since I saw Avenged Sevenfold at Wembley Arena last December, and I think I forgot just how much can be achieved in an arena – the scope for light shows, video displays and the audio quality just cannot be replicated in smaller venues.  Linkin Park definitely filled every inch of the O2 with their massive performance, and I’m sure they will continue on their path to world domination.

Currently listening to: RebellionLinkin Park (featuring Daron Malakian)

Top 10 tracks you need on your party playlist

You know how it is, your friends have just invited themselves over to your house to pre-drink before heading off on a night out, or you’re hosting a party for a housemate’s birthday, and you need to come up with the perfect playlist to get your guests in the mood for going out to dance (and drink) the night away.

If you’re heading off to a metal bar or a nightclub which cycles alternative, rock and punk on its playlist, here are my Top 10 songs which will get you ready to rock out – but not too hard, or you might spill your drink.

10: When The Sun Goes Down – Arctic Monkeys

This track never fails to be a crowd pleaser, and even your one friend who isn’t much of a rock/metal/alternative fan will be tapping their foot along to this track.

9: Bury My Bones – Pure Love

Frank’s strong vocals are always great at stirring up passion in people, and who doesn’t love a nice ‘yeah-yeah-yeah’ to sing along to?

8: Planetary (GO!) – My Chemical Romance

This track is one of MCR’s more upbeat songs, and it really packs a punch.  Perfect for getting hyped up before going out to a club.

7: Last Night – Good Charlotte

I think the lyrics of this track explain why it deserves to be on this playlist perfectly.

6: Fat Lip – Sum 41

Fat lip is a song most people associate with their childhood and teenage years, so it’s great for stirring up nostalgic feelings and getting everyone to sing along.

5: Blame It – Of Mice & Men

This cover is a guilty pleasure of mine – no matter what you think of it, you can’t deny that it’s great at getting people in the party mood.

4: Higher And Higher – The Blackout (featuring Hyro Da Hero)

A chorus with words that are easy to remember even after having a couple of drinks – check.  A bangin’ rap verse – check.  What else do you need to get a party started?

3: Just A Day – Feeder

Another nostalgic number here, and one which some of your guests may not even realise they know until the chorus kicks in.

2: All My Life – Foo Fighters

What kind of playlist would this be without a contribution from the gods of rock ‘n’ roll?  Whilst not their biggest commercial success, All My Life is one of the Foo’s most well known tracks, and for good reason too.  A winner all round.

1: Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) – Woe, Is Me

I have to make sure I only listen to this song if I’m getting ready to go out, because if not I get myself hyped up to party only to snap back to reality and remember I’m on the bus to my 10am lecture.

So, that’s my Top 10 list of going out tracks – what do you think?  If you agree with my choices or think there’s an obvious track I missed, let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: English Kids In AmericaLower Than Atlantis