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: Take Control

It’s only been a little over a year since Kent two-piece Slaves released their debut full length album Are You Satisfied?, but it seems like Laurie and Isaac are set on taking over the world with their iconic grungy punk.  Take Control, released on Friday, contains fourteen tracks interspersed with two skit tracks, which makes the record a solid little parcel jam packed with bangers.  The album was introduced with the lead single Spit It Out: you can see the low-fi video here:

The album opens with the above track, followed by Hypnotised which keeps up the fast pace and crashing drums.  Consume Or Be Consumed, featured on Thursday’s round-up of the month’s best singles, features slower, grungier guitars, additional keyboard effects which add something a bit special to the choruses, and quieter vocals rapped over the track, including a rap verse by Mike D. of Beastie Boys fame.  Even within the first three songs of the album, it seems obvious to me that the punk duo have freed themselves from the constraints of more traditional old school punk, and allowed themselves to experiment a bit more with their sound.  That’s a solid amount of development between records.

Lyrically the album discusses issues with tax fraud and classism within the upper classes in Rich Man, troubles in the romance department in Angelica, and dwelling on past mistakes in Spit It Out.  There are also some lighthearted tracks such as Fuck The Hi-Hat, which at the end of the day are just a bit of fun.  That’s one of the things I like about Slaves: by taking every day issues and coating them in unapologetically British punk and straightforward language, their music is something everybody can enjoy.  Unless they’re not into punk music, I suppose.

Slaves have stretched their musical muscles during tracks such as the slower paced Lies, which is almost a ballad by their standards, and one of the longest songs on the record.  Steer Clear also stands out with its electronic drums, synth-infused choruses and female backing vocals adding to the chilled vibe.  In fact, much of the second half of the record is made up of slower tracks, which helps to demonstrate that these guys are nowhere near one trick ponies.

I was a little worried that Slaves would be one hit wonders, bursting onto the scene then slinking away as suddenly as they appeared.  Thankfully, following this record it seems to me that the twosome are taking this music lark seriously, and I certainly hope that the band will be around for a long time.  If you enjoyed Are You Satisfied?, then Take Control needs to be on your Christmas wish-list, or just go ahead and order it now if you don’t want to wait that long.

Highlights: Rich Man, Lies, People That You Meet, Same Again

8 incredible tracks you need in your life – September 2016

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

Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes – Lullaby

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

Kings Of Leon – Waste A Moment

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

Taking Back Sunday – Death Wolf

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

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

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

Green Day – Still Breathing

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

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

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

Slaves ft. Mike D. – Consume Or Be Consumed

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

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

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

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

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 new tracks you need in your life – March 2015

Anyone with ears will know how much incredible new music is out there at the moment, from established bands as well as up-and-coming acts.  Here’s my list of some of the best tracks released in the past couple of months.

8: The Vaccines – Handsome

Weird music videos seem to be on trend in 2015, don’t they?  I really like the combination of techno drum beats and crashing cymbals in the chorus.

7: Slaves – Feed The Mantaray

If you’re a fan of The Mighty Boosh, the video for this track might leave you reminiscing the cult BBC3 comedy.  This grungy track is great fun to listen to, especially if you love sea creatures as much as I do.

6: Mumford & Sons – Believe

As the only Reading And Leeds headline act I’m actually excited about this year, I was super excited when Mumford & Sons released this little number.  It’s a slow-burner, I’ll admit, but the track’s climax is well worth the wait.

5: Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best

Anyone who knows me will understand my love of female musicians in alternative rock.  Courtney Barnett is a great example of new female talent.  The lyrics of this track are really interesting, on top of some great riffs.

4: Peace – I’m A Girl

This song is a must-listen for fans of wailing guitars and feedback aplenty.  If you feel like challenging your brain a little, the interactive video above may give you something to do.

3: The Bohicas – To Die For

Yet another weird music video!  I can see The Bohicas making waves this year if they keep releasing great tracks like this.

2: The Wombats – Emoticons

The lil’ guitar solo during the introduction to this track is a great mood-setter, and the track’s lyrics are as self-depreciating and fun as The Wombats have always been.  I can’t wait for their next album, Glitterbug, to be released next month!

1: Muse – Psycho

Muse are officially back, and they’re back with a bang!  The guitar work in this track is absolutely incredible, and Matt Bellamy’s voice sounds excellent as always.  Drones promises to be a fantastic album if the rest of the track meet Psycho‘s standards.