Review: Beach Bunny – Blame Game

Beach Bunny - Blame Game

The latest taste of new music from Beach Bunny comes in the form of an eclectic group of tunes called Blame Game. Their first full-length record, Honeymoon, found its way onto several “Best of 2020” lists, and it seemed as if the young four-piece indie rock band from Chicago, Illinois was steadily gaining confidence knowing that they would be releasing music with more eyes clearly focused on them. Beach Bunny were poised for this moment, as they released some of their most steadfast songs to date on this EP.

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Review: Cold Weather Kids – Quarantunes

The latest EP from Cold Weather Kids was created in the midst of the on-going pandemic, so it seemed only appropriate to tag this latest collection of songs with the Quarantunes moniker. With a mix of styles in the same vein as Bayside, Pierce the Veil, and the pop sensibilities of AJR, the band have continued to explore the possibilities of their unique brand of pop-punk. The record was mixed by Nick Radovanovic (Stand Atlantic, Grandson) and mastered by Justin Perkins (Screaching Weasel), who both put stamp on these three songs that have some interesting moments to them.

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Adam Grundy’s Top Albums of 2020

Best of 2020

What a year, huh? Luckily for us, the music that came out of this hellish year was nothing short of remarkable. From the exponential growth of female artists taking the lead in 2020, to some interesting emo and pop-punk bands making their landmark artistic statements with their latest albums, this year had a little bit of everything. Also, being the shameless self-promoter, I hyperlinked to the reviews I contributed to this site this year. These are the 30 albums that I enjoyed the most over the course of this year.

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Interview: J.R. of Less Than Jake

During the week of the release of the new Less Than Jake record, Silver Linings, I had the chance to sit down with J.R. to discuss everything that went into the recording process of the new album. The conversation also captured J.R.’s perspective on looking back on his band’s album anniversaries, what he misses most about touring and the venues he’s played at, as well what he draws inspiration from to continue his growth as an artist.

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Review: Foxy Shazam – Burn

Foxy Shazam - Burn

The world needs more bands like Foxy Shazam. With their unique blend of charisma and theatrics in their music, there isn’t a single uninteresting moment on their latest LP called Burn. The band has always had a flair for the theatrical and glam elements of the 70’s rock era, but they really go for their full-fledged modern take on that era of music with their latest album. With some songs teetering on the edge of Queen, to David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin all thrown into the mix, the band is more than capable of creating a record that pays direct homage to past artists, while still making the end result feel fresh for newer audiences. Their eccentric front-man Eric Nally took the majority of the songwriting and vocal duties on the album, but there is plenty of new elements to Foxy Shazam’s evolution as an artist. The album was recorded remotely with members of the band working in three different studios, yet the end product feels as cohesive as if the band were in the same room creating this music simultaneously.

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Review: Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts

Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts

2020 really is the year of the female artist, isn’t it? From Taylor Swift releasing arguably releasing the most pandemic-appropriate album we could have ever hoped for, to Dua Lipa knocking us on our ass with some perfectly crafted dance-pop bliss, and Phoebe Bridgers earning several well-deserved Grammy nominations for her work, everything seemed to be shifting towards rightfully recognizing female artists for their contributions to music. Enter Miley Cyrus who has delivered a raucous collection of rock-tinged pop songs known as Plastic Hearts to close out the year. Usually albums released this late in the year fall under the radar, as every publication seems to want to rush out their year-end lists before December even sees the light of day. Plastic Hearts is definitely one of those breathtaking moments of recognizing great pop music from an artist beginning to realize her rock prowess at just the right time.

The record launches with the bratty, punk sneer of “WTF Do I Know” where Cyrus establishes herself firmly in the rock genre with a pulsating bass line and cranked up guitars. Cyrus explains her state of mind in the chorus as she sings confidently, “What the fuck do I know? I’m alone / Guess I couldn’t be somebody’s hero / You want an apology not from me / Had to leave you in your own misery / So tell me, baby, am I wrong that I moved on and I / And I don’t even miss you? / Thought that it’d be you until I die / But I let go, what the fuck do I know?” The track quickly fades away as we make our way into the title track where Cyrus sings over a tribal beat. She provides a little more insight on the change in gears of genres on the second verse as she sings, “Hello, I’ll tell you all the people I know / Sell you something that you already own / I can be whoever you want me to be / Love me now but not tomorrow / Fill me up but leave me hollow / Pull me in but don’t you get too close.” It’s almost as if Miley is telling her audience that she can be whatever persona that best suits her metamorphosis into a female rocker as long as we are there to accept her for who she is.

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Left Field Messiah – “Fuzz Machine” (Video Premiere)

Left Field Messiah

Today I’m thrilled to share the brand new video from Left Field Messiah called “Fuzz Machine.” Left Field Messiah is comprised of lead vocalist Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat), Jeremy Ruzumna (Fitz and the Tantrums) and Erik Janson (Wildling) who have come together to create some great, energetic, genre-blending tunes. The band had this to say about this latest single:

Fuzz Machine was the third song we wrote for the record. It was also the song that inspired our band name because of the chaos and freedom we felt while working on it. It was a late night in the studio after finishing work on our second song when Jeremy started playing a nylon string guitar sample on his keyboard. We began laying down parts with odds and ends around the studio—a banjitar, harmonica, and then we frenetically recorded the intro vocals, which led to Steve grabbing a handheld mic and recording his vocals with the studio speakers on full blast. It felt raw, it felt right, and it helped the three of us to see through the haze of some toxic relationships we were in.”

Left Field Messiah will be releasing their debut full-length LP called In Praise of Bombast on February 12, 2021.

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Review: Billie Joe Armstrong – No Fun Mondays

Billie Joe Armstrong - No Fun Mondays

While some artists were keen to wait out the pandemic before releasing music, Billie Joe Armstrong took advantage of the extra time on his hands to release a series of covers that known as the No Fun Mondays compilation. He covered a wide breadth of artists from almost all genres, including The Bangles, The Clash, John Lennon, and Tommy James and the Shondells. Despite the branded name, these songs turned out to be quite the enjoyable listening experience as Billie Joe showcased his impressive knowledge of historical artists and made each rendition feel updated for new ears.

The set kicks off with the Tommy James and the Shondells’ classic, “I Think We’re Alone Now” that got most of its longevity from the 80’s cover by the artist known as Tiffany. The guitar-based cover song stays true to the basic arrangement of the original, and Billie Joe’s trademark vocal performance is still up to par. “War Stories” by The Starjets quickly follows the opener and keeps the momentum going for a perfect slab of melodic punk rock well within the repertoire of the Green Day front-man. Billie Joe does an impressive job of commanding the track while going into his higher register on the chorus and bridge as he delivers a worthwhile rendition.

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Review: My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

My Chemical Romance - Danger Days

The one constant in the career arc of My Chemical Romance has been reinvention. From each record’s sound to the wardrobe used on stage for each album cycle, MCR has never been strangers to pushing the boundaries of what is expected of them and their music. On Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, My Chemical Romance would reinvent themselves for the fourth time and deliver their boldest artistic statement to date. Having scrapped a full album’s worth of material (that would later be known as Conventional Weapons) in-between recording The Black Parade and this album, fans and critics alike were looking forward to seeing how Gerard Way, Frank Iero, Mikey Way, and Ray Toro would come back into the limelight after the massively successful third record. Danger Days ranges from thrilling sing-a-long anthems to power-pop and their trademark take on punk/emo rock alike. With so much riding on this career-defining record, how would everyone react to the material that would come through the speakers?

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Review: Silverstein – REDUX II

Silverstein - Redux

It’s amazing how much a single year can throw a wrench into our plans. 2020 has made all of us re-focus our thoughts and priorities as we deal with a global pandemic that has forced us to make sacrifices along the way. Silverstein were poised and ready to tour on their recently released 10th studio album, A Beautiful Place to Drown when the world had other plans for the post-hardcore veterans. Having recently celebrated 20 years since their formation as band, Silverstein turned the unique situation into an opportunity to revisit some of their classic songs and deep cuts from past records for an album now known as REDUX II. The new recordings that made the cut for this record range from simple re-polishing of beloved songs that feel fresh for a new audience, to major enhancements to the song arrangement.

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Review: I Am The Avalanche – DIVE

I Am The Avalanche - Dive

It feels great to have I Am The Avalanche back. With their first studio album in six years, DIVE wastes little time getting down to the business at hand with some incredibly well-crafted tunes. Lead single “Better Days” opens the record with a perfect build up to an ultra-melodic chorus. Lead vocalist Vinnie Caruana had this to say about opening the album with the track: “Not only is it the intro track to the record, but it is also the song the first the band wrote together since 2014’s?Wolverines. It’s all about realizing too late how good you had it and raising a “drink to better days.” Oddly enough, it was written before the world went to hell in a handbasket earlier this year – making it an eerie prophecy.” Interestingly, many of these songs found on DIVE are the perfect soundtrack to the uncertainty of the days ahead of us while still remaining cautiously optimistic that things can improve.

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Review: Arms and Hearts – The Distance Between

Arms and Hearts - The Distance Between

The Manchester melodic punk act formed by Steve Millar, better known as Arms & Hearts, makes a solid introduction to the folk-punk scene on The Distance Between. With a raspy voice that ranges from the howl of songwriting veterans such as Brian Fallon and Chuck Ragan, Millar makes a powerful opening statement on this collection of nine well-structured songs. The material teeters between sounding like a singer-songwriter at a dimly lit nightclub, to the full-bled passion of a punk band packed to capacity in a sweaty venue. What Millar does best is making his listeners hang on his every word as he sways from a soft croon to a blood-curdling scream.

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Who Will Meet Me At The Gates – “Wet Cement” (Song Premiere)

Who Will Meet Me At The Gates

Today I’m pleased to premiere the brand new single from Who Will Meet Me At The Gates, called “Wet Cement.” Who Will Meet Me at the Gates is the latest installment in the ever-expanding universe of The Inevitables. Initially conceived as a soundtrack album and comic book, The Inevitables is evolving into a multilayered, multimedia project that extends into toys, art, and branded collectibles. On October 16th, the first single “Good Grief” dropped from a new five-song acoustic EP, featuring a veritable punk rock supergroup featuring members of Pears, Less Than Jake, The Jeff Rosenstock Band, Big D and the Kids Table, and Westbound Train.

As with the rest of the Inevitables project, the group was not satisfied stopping with music. For the graphic side of the concept, they brought in Portland-based artist Tomo77 to lend a visual experience to the songs. The result is a 6-print series reflecting the impact of the pandemic amid a tumultuous and changing social and racial landscape. Rendered in isolation, Tomo77’s images explore themes of racism, police brutality and a society in the throes of political chaos and disease, entwined with symbolism reminiscent of the middle ages. The art will be made available in a limited run of numbered and embossed prints. 

If you like what you hear, you can stream the album here.

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Review: Lifehouse – No Name Face

The charming debut record from Lifehouse called No Name Face took a lot of people by surprise when it first arrived 20 years ago. Led by singer/songwriter Jason Wade, the band was able to capture radio magic right from the get-go with their radio mega-hit “Hanging By A Moment.” The song went on to be the most played song of 2001 and allowed for the album to sell over 2.5 million units in the United States alone. Apart from the lead single and introductory song on the record, the LP is surrounded by several well-crafted songs that showcased Wade’s lyrical depth and vocal prowess at the tender age of 20 years old. The band was able to pull on the heart strings of America and made several TV appearances during the promotional cycle of the album. Looking back at this album brought up a lot of memories of listening to this record front to back during the autumn of my senior year of high school. What set Lifehouse apart from most of the other bands I was listening to during this era of music was their way of telling great stories through their music, and it made for an album that would stand the test of time.

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