Category Archives: Music

Weezer Hints at upcoming Album with New Single

by Matt Balogh

Storming through the pop and rock charts in 1994 with “The Blue Album,” Weezer has been well known and loved for their “geek-rock” style for 25 years now. Being rather modest of their success, front man Rivers Cuomo felt anxious and uneasy about a lot of the new-found fame that the band had earned.

Many of these mixed feelings led to influence in Cuomo’s songwriting,and the darker sounding “Pinkerton.” Many remembered Pinkerton, but Cuomo wanted to forget about it. By describing it like a cathartic, yet embarrassing confessional, Cuomo disregarded the band’s efforts on that album until more recently.

Since Pinkerton was released in 1996, Weezer took a small break until 2001, subsequently releasing a number of albums greatly differing from Pinkerton’s style. The band took a route of more pop rock, similar to some tracks off of “The Blue Album,” and maintained a pop sound throughout most of their catalog.

Last year, Weezer released their fourth self-titled album, nicknamed “The White Album,” which became the tenth album in their catalog. This album merged their catchy pop-rock tunes with a mix of some “grunge pop” elements of their earliest music. Critics responded well to the album, and it even earned the band a Grammy nomination for best rock album, to which they lost to Cage The Elephant.

The band’s newest single “Feels Like Summer” was released on March 15, with confirmation of the band’s upcoming album Weezer (“The Black Album”), to be released in the summer. This album is meant to be a collection of firsts for the group. In a similar relation, Pinkerton was to “The Blue Album,” “The Black Album” is expected to be a lot darker than all of their previous albums, no pun intended.

Rivers Cuomo said, “If it were a movie, it would be rated R,” as opposed to their others, being compared to PG and PG-13 movies content wise. This is referencing Cuomo previously stating his name songs may feature more swearing, something that the band barely ever includes in their songs.

This news excited fans, expecting the raw and heavy sound and themes that Pinkerton was known for. However, when the band released “Feels Like Summer,” speculation went towards the direction of their pop sound.

The song is guided heavily on a drum machine beat, following a structure and sound that is very similar to a lot of pop music played on mainstream radio. The song has a catchy hook, but is strangely different from previous songs with the stylistic change.

Granted, fans were met with a previous confusion when the band released “Thank God For Girls” from “The White Album,” yet, the album featured a wide variety of tracks that satisfied old fans. While that may be the case for this single as well, it could provide a taste of their further exploration for new sound, which is a hard thing for any band to do.

‘Have Mercy’ Returns With a New Single

by Thomas Redding

Have Mercy is a progressive rock band from Baltimore, Maryland that gained most of their popularity from their intricate and powerful lyrics. Lead vocalist Brian Swindle normally dives into deep and emotional subjects, including love, longing, heartbreak and self-discovery. These subjects build a connection between the band and their listeners.

Most listeners range from adolescents to those in their early twenties, who are experiencing the same situations and share the same emotions as the lyrics express. The band recently released a new single titled “Coexist,” off their upcoming album, titled “Make The Best Of It,” to be released April 21. The single has flashier qualities that differ from the typical sound of the band both lyrically and instrumentally.

The band is normally known for Swindle’s raspy voice, alternating between softer parts and aggressive, thicker yelling, while the instruments normally give off a soft and sweet rock vibe.

However, in the new single, Swindle takes the song from a more melodic side, and refrains from stretching the limits of his vocals, while keeping the raspy tone. Swindle shows his refrain in the verses, but raises his voice as he breaks into the chorus. One can speculate that this is done to emphasize the lyrical content of the chorus, which addresses that, as you re-encounter people of your past, they are likely to have changed, just as you have. Instrumentally, there are some distinguishable differences. The instrumentation is a lot more polished than their previous releases. It debuts a louder, more aggressive sound for the band.

The distinctive change has caused some mixed feelings from fans. Some listeners enjoy a rugged song because it reiterates back into the lyrical content. Additionally, the new track does not fit well with the rest of their discography, which, on the other hand, brings interest to fans and some anticipation in what’s to come for the band. They may seem to be straying from their creepier sounding songs, and headed into a catchier album that consists of more pop qualities. However, the difference between the previous and present sounds, shows just how versatile and talented the members of Have Mercy are.

Have Mercy has been together and touring for about six years. They have released two split EPs with other bands, alongside an EP and two full-length albums. They’ve come to master the emo-rock sound as well as gather an audience of loyal listeners. The new single blends the melodic content from their first EP while tweaking, yet staying true to the rock, instrumental sound of their previous album from 2015.

Their past releases, however, were recorded with a different mindset than this upcoming album. Their first EP and album were completely self-recorded; the band was not signed to a record label, had no producer and was not pressured by time constraints. They gained some popularity from those first releases, and received the attention of Hopeless Records. They were later signed to Hopeless in summer of 2014, and given the opportunity to make another album, called “A Place of Our Own.”

Many bands struggle with a debut album on a record label, due to the extraneous amounts of pressure to be efficient in album making and to have the album sell, which can often stunt natural flow of ideas and production. Have Mercy had to push out an album within about two months, and it showed in the content. The album is definitely good, but listeners can tell, there are some filler tracks.

This brings hope that there will be much more to expect in the upcoming album, which they have had over two years to work on. This has given them some artistic freedom, which can be heard in their new single, which I would promptly rate a solid 7/10. This elongated period has also allowed them to naturally mature and find their unique sound and style. Have Mercy shows their listeners there is still a lot left to be heard from them.

CCSU’s Singers Filling Up Founder’s Hall

 

by Matt Balogh

Many music enthusiasts gathered in Founder’s Hall on Thursday to enjoy the sounds of various singing groups here at Central Connecticut State University. The CCSU Chorale, Blue Notes and the University Singers took the stage for a performance full of wonderful arrangements. The performance was free to all, opening the doors to many students and faculty members.

Beginning strongly, the Chorale performed a composition by Martini, to which conductor Drew Collins jokingly expressed, “It’s always fun to start things off with a Martini.” All went well throughout their set, simultaneously flipping through their music sheets as their sound erupted around the room.

Interestingly enough, the second arrangement in their performance, “Der Tanz” by Schubert, they had performed 3 different times. Considering that the original was around a minute and a half long and arranged for a quartet and piano accompaniment, they included that exact arrangement in the middle of the song, aiding to its original setting.

To close their portion of the show, the group had done a tribute to George Gershwin with a medley of his classics “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin,” “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” The various sections blended well, including a strong bass section that shook the surrounding area. In addition to an angelic Soporano to match the rest, evening out the entire mix.

The next group was the Blue Notes Vocal Jazz group, a fairly new group to the lineup, performing acapella jazz. Featuring many of the members of the Chorale, the 8-piece group did a set consisting of a Greg Jasperse composition. Although it was quick, their style was an interesting piece to the lineup. The group sang in a “scat” style annunciation, featuring no intelligible words, just syllables.

The University Singers then closed the concert with the Chorale members. Singing without the accompaniment of a piano, the group held a strong sound and balanced well together.

Their first arrangement, a working of Bach’s “Ich Lasse Dich Nicht,” featured a ‘call and response’ style vocal arrangement, as the parts switched back and forth between sections. Switching between energetic and loud pieces, soft and mellow, the group filled the remainder of the show with fantastic arrangements.

Senior singer Hunter Bustamante, a member of the Chorale and the Blue Notes, spoke highly of the groups, “the most important aspect of preparation is the amount of practice time and dedication put into each piece.” Each piece was arranged to fit the size of the group and each individual part, a process that each member contributes a large portion to. Bustamante continued that overall “members of the groups join for a variety of reasons, most commonly the love of making music with others in a friendly environment.”
Both the Chorale and the Blue Notes host shows twice a semester, however, the University Singers are much more active in their performances. The groups consist of all CCSU students with an interest in musical arrangement and singing. Accepting all types of students, the various groups welcome anyone to join.

Knuckle Puck’s New Single Raises Eyebrows

by Thomas Redding

There are many mixed reactions of the new acoustic single from frontrunners of the new pop-punk scene, Knuckle Puck. The Chicago band, typically known for their hard-hitting songs, have taken a different route with their new releases, “Calendar Days” and “Indecisive.”

The first single, “Indecisive,” was released last Thursday, Feb. 23, and many devoted fans were taken rather off guard. They have released acoustic versions of songs before, but never quite like this. This is the first time that lead singer Joe Taylor, has ever included falsetto-style singing into one of their songs. He also refrained from yelling, something typically heard in previous acoustic tracks. This is the first time we get a glimpse of his actual singing voice, and while he doesn’t have ‘pop star’ qualities, his voice does a good job of complimenting the tone of the track.

The single is their first official release of an acoustic song, some wouldn’t say that it was disappointing. However, when the band announced new music, most were expecting another pop-punk anthem.

After reaching somewhere around the halfway point of the song, opinions began to change as they realized it was actually pretty serene. Although the reviews were mixed, their limited vinyl record of 500 copies, was sold out within about an hour. 

The band’s has matured since their previous release, “Copacetic,” in July of 2015. They have strayed from the “pop-punk acoustic norms,” which includes the same set of chords and strumming pattern, along with a strings section and recycled melodies. The single has more technical and interesting guitar parts, and the lyrics play a large role, because they are much stronger than heard in previous releases.

There are few lyrics to the song, which makes it somewhat resemble a lullaby. The melody is very droning and calm, creating a new sound for the band. It is also difficult imagining the band ever playing this song live, considering that their shows are known for being energetic and loud.

It is not clear if this was an experimental release, or if it could mean something new. Some speculate that by straying from the fast, loud, pop-punk jams, the band is seeking a softer rock side of their sound. It would be interesting to see them go in a new direction, as they would be paving a new path for pop-punk, which is in dire need of some change currently.

The “new pop-punk” sound has been pushing long time fans away from the genre lately, as the sound has changed far past its original roots. A different sounding Knuckle Puck album may actually be good, allowing them to stand out in this crowd of heavily formulaic bands.

Knuckle Puck can be seen opening for Mayday Parade’s 10th Anniversary tour, which will be traveling across the country this spring. The band is highly recommended for fans of the genre. There are still tickets available for the tour stop at College Street Music Hall in New Haven, on May 6.Check out www.knucklepuck.limitedrun.com for pre-orders of “Calendar Days” and “Indecisive,” and to see the video for the new song.

Overall, the song is great and has the potential for frequent replays on the iTunes libraries of pop-punk fans. I would rate the song a 7.5/10.

Linkin Park Returns with a New Single

Image result for linkin park heavy

by Matt Balogh

At the forefront of the nu metal scene in the early 2000s, Linkin Park has grown to find a fan base of millions. By combining a large sound of heavy metal influence and hip hop elements of rapping style vocals, and DJ-led turntable scratching. This created a distinct sound for them, allowing their debut album Hybrid Theory to sell over 30 million copies worldwide.

Being a favorite of nu metal and hip hop fans alike, Hybrid Theory became a base for many nu metal bands to follow. Their singles “In The End” and “One Step Closer” had seen large rotation on rock stations, and continue to be staples in their live performances to this day.

Over the years, the band has put out 6 albums more, each to a sloping response by their long time fans. Fans have criticized their change in style, as it keeps inching towards a pop style. While not completely ditching their nu metal taste, their albums have featured more much lighter feeling songs, and less and less edge on their sound. Starting with songs like “Shadow of The Day”, and really everything on Minutes to Midnight, they have brought softer songs, and really a total departure to a pop rock-ish style.

In the case for their newest track “Heavy,” it seems as though they have completely converted themselves to a pop sound, ditching anything “rock” that the band had previously been known for. If the song suggests anything of the new album, this leaves anticipation of a rock-less, polished electronic pop album. The instrumentation is minimalist, and sounds almost completely computer generated, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their downfalls, however, lie in the structure and lyrics of the song.

With not much going on in the background, the song seems to rely on the inclusion of the up-and-coming pop singer Kiiara. The singer does not bring much to save the song, and it resembles a pop duet in the vein of The Chainsmoker’s “Closer,” which exemplified the recurring motif of modern pop music: basic and seemingly uninteresting track that is attempted to be revived by new singer that is just as uninteresting. Kiiara’s vocal addition took the majority of the singing role after her awkward introduction in the chorus. Shifting energy very rarely throughout the track, the quickness of its length makes the song go from A to B, and feels like nothing had even happened.

The lyrics are really uninspired, just linking overused lines like “can’t escape the gravity,” “I’m holding on,” and the repetitive “why is everything so heavy,” which is ironic considering the nature of the song. The chorus had potential to save the verses from their simplicity, but is stuck to the repetition of the “why is everything so heavy” line.

For fans of the band, they have some real bad news coming to them. Hopefully the entire album won’t be following this style, as it lacks the feeling that Linkin Park had always packed. Although a change of style isn’t terrible, this song unfortunately doesn’t even work well as a pop song, and certainly works as only filler. Linkin Park has had a history of success and creativity, so it’s hard to blame them for experimentation. The song could possibly find the interest of die hard fans, or maybe fans of modern pop music.

Demi Lovato Deserves a Grammy

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by Natalie Dest

Since her debut album “Don’t Forget” back in 2008, singer/songwriter Demi Lovato has transcended from a Disney Channel star, to a pop sensation with a killer vocal range.

The 24-year-old has been in the spotlight since her notorious days of “Camp Rock,” back when the Jonas Brothers were the hottest boy band of their generation. After years of battling her mental illness, Lovato has been viciously climbing the charts with her soulful yet daring pop hits. With chart topping tracks such as her summer anthem “Cool for the Summer,” and break-up single “Really Don’t Care,” she continues to be recognized as one of the industry’s best vocalists. To say the least, the girl can sing.

With five Billboard topping albums, Lovato consistently stuns her fans, better known as “Lovatics,” with pure emotion and high ranged vocals into every release. Her fifth and newest album “Confident,” released back in October 2015, was able to land her first ever 2017 Grammy nomination.

Lovato was up against former nominees Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Sia and Adele for Best Pop Vocal Album. All of these artists vary in style and vocal sound. However, it’s the lyrics and soul that sets aside “Confident” from the rest of the albums nominated. In saying so, I’m not going to rule out the other artists as untalented or unworthy of a Grammy themselves. We’ve seen Grande deliver dynamic vocal performances herself, Bieber top number one on Billboard continuously, and Sia produce songs unlike no other. As for Adele, we saw her walk away with five Grammys herself that night, Best Pop Vocal Album being one of them. But as for Demi, it’s a different category entirely. Unlike anyone in her generation, Demi delivers it all.

The album “Confident” embodies Lovato as a graduate teen, promoting self-empowerment and assertion of confidence (hence the album title). The first track titled “Confident,” sets off the album with a sense of women empowerment and independence, as Lovato belts the lyrics “what’s wrong with being confident?” Following this head-held-high strutting anthem, fans are met with Lovato’s definite vocals on mid-tempo tracks that make her stronger-than-before presence clear. With it’s distinct sound, the pop anthem “For You” is accompanied by a backup choir singing the lyrics, “For you I would do anything,” as Lovato sings about summoning her inner strength.

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In addition to these upbeat toe-tapping tracks such as “Stars” and “Yes,” this album is highly noted for Lovato’s soulful ballads that landed her the nomination slot. The lost love ballad dedicated to her dad entitled “Father,” clearly demonstrates Lovato’s talent of meaningful lyrics. Through her distinct pain, the lyrics “I know you were a troubled man. I know you never got the chance, to be yourself, to be your best. I hope that Heaven’s given you a second chance,” resonate as Lovato’s soul belts the words. Similar to “For the Love of a Daughter” on past album “Unbroken,” “Father” tells the story of her estranged relationship with her dad who had passed away in 2013.

However, no track on this album compares to her “post-break up” love ballad “Stone Cold,” a deserving Grammy award winner within itself. We haven’t seen such a raw track from Lovato since her 2012 post-treatment single “Skyscraper” and self-inflicting inspired “Fix a Heart.”

“Stone Cold” is soulful emotion, a track that continues to emphasize Demi’s powerhouse vocals and rawness, specifically seen within her live performances. With just the accompany of a piano, Lovato has her strongest track yet to date. She is seen to belt out each verse with a wistful feeling as her voice drops and breathes “I’m happy for you.” Clearly drawing from a personal sense of pain, the lyrics “I’ll take the pain, give me the truth. Me and my heart, we’ll make it through,” are directed towards a former lover who is no longer.

Chills are simply unavoidable when taking a listen to this track. It’s almost certain that “Stone Cold” was the winning component to Lovato’s record that landed her nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album.

All of Demi’s lyrics would lack their long lasting impact if it wasn’t for her incredible, unlike no other vocal capability. All five albums demonstrate the range of her voice and the expression she creates with her music. Through both the low and high notes, her soul is beautifully sung through her extremely versatile and flexible voice. With Demi, you cannot just listen to one of her songs blankly. The amount of emotion poured into her voice is astounding, as if she’s creating a masterpiece every time.

If Demi is constantly being recognized for her vocal and emotional power, the question remains; why is she still left empty handed? All in all, “Confident” is a dynamic pop production that let’s Lovato’s powerful voice soar to new emotional and vocal highs. Demi Lovato is no longer a Disney starlet, but rather a grown musician long overdue of her recognition. It’s about time this artist walks away with a Grammy.

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Relient K’s Truly Madly Deeply EP

by Matt Balogh

Starting in 1998, Relient K made their way through the Christian Punk scene, eventually finding their audience. With a contract signed to indie Christian label, Gotee Records, Relient K released their self-titled debut to little initial reaction, but eventually went on to sell 400,000 copies. The band’s sound had used humor and references to pop culture to combine with a catchy pop-punk sound, making them the perfect subject for an era that pop-punk dominated.

A year later, the band’s next album “Anatomy of Tongue and Cheek,” had charted them on the Billboard 200, debuting at number 158. Songs like “Pressing On” and “Sadie Hawkin’s Dance” had brought them more popularity, and the album eventually was certified gold. Throughout another full length and a handful of EPs later, Relient K had managed not to lose their playful wit and pop-punk charm that listeners loved.

In 2004, Relient K met with mainstream success, as they signed to Capitol Records to release their album “Mmhmm,” heavily driven by their hit single “Be My Escape.” The album peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200, and furthered their success even more. This album worked as a platform for experimentation, when compared to their previous releases. While maintaining a pop-punk element, “Mmhmm” introduces sounds of alternative rock, post-hardcore and even soft rock balled-style songs. After “Mmhmm,” the band had released 6 albums, including a Christmas compilation.

Lyrically, their songs discuss various topics, however, they do incorporate Christian faith into their lyrics. Over the years, the religious references have seldom appeared, but still are a consistent feature of their music. Since their stylistic experimentation in “Mmhmm,” their lyrics have been a little more serious than their cheerful and humorous songs in the past.

In 2017, Relient K had released their new EP in time for Valentine’s Day, titled “Truly Madly Deeply.” Despite the title, there are no covers of Savage Garden, but rather a 3 song EP of all originals.

Leading off the EP “Candy Hearts,” is a return to the pop-punk sound that the band had so perfectly perfected. The song makes for an excellent introduction of the very short EP, working as a “carpe diem” style story, offering love to an unknown recipient.

The song has very straightforward structure, but is very energetic as a modern love song. Showing their versatility, the next track “Happy Valentimes” is a rockabilly style song, featuring a shuffling beat that pumps out a catchy backbone to the song. “Happy Valentimes” is a lot less complex lyrically, as it follows a linear love story and squeezes in some essential ‘Lalalas.’ The final track, “BMI Valentine” has a style similar to folk-rock, complete with an acoustic guitar backing. This song is a fairly depressing close to an EP full of love, considering it is more of a hopeless romantic story. The song references to alcoholism, and being without a heart while looking for a valentine.

For what it’s worth, the EP is a nice little collection for a listen during this year’s Valentine’s Day. The length of it helps with the variation of song genres, making it flow better than they may have on a full length. Specifically, lead singer/guitarist Matt Thiessen’s lyrics have never dulled, and continue to influence feeling on the band’s fans.

59th Grammys Recap: A Year of Firsts

by Matt Balogh 

While Connecticut had a very snowy and hectic weekend, the biggest names in the music business were preparing themselves for the 59th Celebration of the Grammy Awards.

This year, the beloved James Corden had the honor of hosting, bringing his usual comedic elements featured heavily throughout his late-night show. During his introduction, Corden demonstrated his comedic style by falling down the stairs as the opening song progressed. In a shift of feeling, Corden began to rap a summary of upcoming events planned for the night, accompanied by a beat for his well-rehearsed itinerary rap.
The show was filled with many exciting moments, but also had its fair share of technical difficulties and political influenced speeches. Being a celebration of music, the show was jam-packed with performances from many artists, including some of the nominees.

After Adele’s show-opening rendition of “Hello,” many artists followed with their acts such as Daft Punk with The Weekend, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Chance the Rapper. Some performances were more minimalistic than others, such as Ed Sheeran’s stripped-down looper pedal performance of “Shape of You.”

Sheeran had used the guitar pedal technology to record live loops on the spot, and built them up as he sang and played guitar over the backing, making for a very interesting display. As for the more elaborate performances, the widely acclaimed artist Beyoncè had a massive display, paying tribute to themes such as motherhood, love and civil harmony. The act brought out over two dozen back up dancers, and featured special effects to bring a surreal element to the imagery of the routine.

The night also paid tribute to recently passed musical artists George Michael and Prince. Adele led the George Michael tribute with a performance of “Fastlove,” to which she had requested to restart while looking rather disappointed in herself. Later on, Bruno Mars had collaborated with The Times to bring an energetic dedication to Prince.

In a more political influence, A Tribe Called Quest took the stage with Anderson Paak, Consequence and Busta Rhymes to both pay tribute to their fallen member Phife Dawg, and to use their performance of their song “We The People” to slam President Donald Trump. In an excellent message of equality, they made the message clear to resist to “President Agent Orange.”

There were some interesting collaborations throughout the night, most notably the Bee Gees tribute and the unusual pairing of Lady Gaga with Metallica. In a medley of the Bee Gees’ classic hits, Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly and Little Big Town set the stage merging all their own styles, blending the segments fairly well. On the other hand, the chemistry with Lady Gaga and Metallica felt rather forced, and very odd. Their performance of Metallica’s new song “Moth Into Flame” made Gaga look like a winner of a “Sing with the band” contest, as it unraveled itself as more as a karaoke tribute. James Hetfield’s mic had not been working, adding to the uncomfortable environment of the situation, however, Gaga at least maintained very high energy to keep the song going, appropriately ending with a stage-dive at the song’s end.

The Awards themselves brought history, as there were many first-time winners and records set. One of the more interesting of the winners was Chance the Rapper, a fully independent artist that took home 3 awards last night. Considering Chance releases all his music for free, this meant that he had been awarded more Grammys than the total amount of songs he has sold.

Chance also beat out Kanye West for Rap Album of the Year with his mixtape “Coloring Book.” First time winners Twenty One Pilots had accepted their award for best Pop Duo in a peculiar fashion: with their pants off. Singer Tyler Joseph had explained to the audience that they had promised themselves that ever since they once watched the same event on TV while dressed in a similar outfit. David Bowie had certainly left his mark on the musical world, as he posthumously won all 5 awards that he had been nominated for. Many different artists and family members came up to accept his awards in his honor.

One of the most anticipated face-offs of the night went to Beyoncè and Adele. Both highly acclaimed artists, but went head to head on several awards. While being widely praised and essentially hyped up over everything she does, Beyoncè was expected to have a clean sweep through all of her 9 nominations. However, for both Record and Album of the year, Adele had claimed victory, but tearfully gave a shoutout to Beyoncè as she felt that her album had deserved it instead.

The night had been a very shocking and entertaining collection of artists, certainly made for an interesting event.

Less Than Jake, Sounding The Alarm in 2017

 

by Matt Balogh

Less Than Jake has been in the business for 25 years now, bringing fame to the sound that is Ska Punk.

In the mid to late 90s, bands like Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Sublime and Less Than Jake have helped to popularize the third-wave of ska to a mass market. This following gained attention of major record to take interest, allowing Less Than Jake to get their big break on Capitol Records.

In 1996, Less Than Jake released their cult classic album Losing Streak, widely accepted as one of the best albums of the 90s punk and ska scene. From then on, they have put out six more full lengths, five compilation albums, and eight EPs.

Their sound was definitive in the start of the era, providing a mix of fast-paced punk music, with a switch of reggae and ska influenced riffs. This mixture was the base of many bands music at the time.

Throughout the years, the band had experimented with combinations of their signature style, and even straying to more pop-punk sounds, which was received with mixed reception from long-time fans.

More recently in 2013, Less Than Jake had released their eighth album See The Light, a strong effort that proved to both fans and critics that they have not lost their flair. The album consisted of 13 songs that flowed perfectly from track to track, being the opposite of a boring listen. Generating crowd favorite live tracks, and some of the catchiest music they have released to date, See The Light had introduced the band into the 2010s: a decade relatively dry in the vein of ska punk.

After four years without new music, the band had released Sound The Alarm on Feb 3, 2017. The new EP consists of seven songs, but each have strong hooks and melodies to really give the release its punch. While instrumentally similar to their albums See The Light, Anthem and Hello Rockview, the band has shown that they have not lost their style, but have evolved to a new layer of their energetic form.

To introduce the EP, the band ‘sounds the alarm’ with their opening track “Call To Arms,” that begins with a bass riff that ignites the song into a mosh-appropriate groove full of action. Showing their progression in stylistic changes, “Whatever the Weather” works as a slower paced jam, fit with a usual hook in the chorus that is lifted by the reggae upstrokes of the guitar, then transitioning into a full-fledged power chord jam. Similar in style, “Years of Living Dangerously” incorporates the ska elements along with an alternative rock sound and structure.

Overall, the band has not changed much, which could lead as both a blessing and a curse in this case. The EP also seems to go by fast, even at seven songs, which may have worked better in a full length situation. However, the EP allows for a nice refresher for long-time fans. It serves as a gateway to the band’s music through their new contract with Pure Noise Records, an indie label that is very popular among fans of indie rock and pop punk in the new scene.

Produced under the wing of Roger Lima, the band’s bassist, the EP marks one of his many projects in the production chair. Along with his production work, the album features Lima’s vocals on a large amount of the album, as opposed to their previous work, where guitarist Chris DeMakes usually covers more of the singing.

A pretty great effort for the 25 year old group, making fans happily anticipate any upcoming projects. I give the album an overall rating of 7/10.

 

 

‘Beliebers’ on the Rise

by Analisa Novak

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photo from Flickr

In 2015, I became a “Belieber.” Before you go insulting my taste in music and questioning my sanity, understand that Justin Bieber’s new album “Purpose” surpasses any personal beliefs you may have of him. It’s that damn good.

In a time where purchasing albums and CDs is almost mythical thanks to streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, “Purpose” brought back the importance of buying albums and listening to them entirely. I was originally drawn to this album for the two highly successful hits released before the album actually dropped. “Sorry” and “What do you Mean,” although sentimental, are instant club bangers that are on constant request. Bieber can transform songs that are worded to make you miss an ex, into a song you can dance to and sing loudly with your closest friends.

With those two hits on the radio prior to Bieber’s Nov. 13th release date, my curiosity was rampant. How is this the same Justin Bieber that made my eyes roll less than three years ago with his lyrics explaining how he could be my “Buzz Lightyear” in his single “Boyfriend?” The answer was simple, just as any other 21-year-old, he was growing up and his music was as well.

We have to remember, Justin Bieber has been in this industry since he was 13-years-old. He was discovered with an accidental YouTube click by marketing executive Scooter Braun. The rest is history, forever cemented with the term “Belieber” and his infamous bowl haircut. He was a phenomena at such a young age that he never had a chance to truly loosen up and break the structure that had been carefully crafted by marketing and label executives trying to capitalize on “Bieber-fever.”

Now at 21-years-old with four albums under his belt, Bieber is finally an independent artist. Multiple producer’s worked on “Purpose,” but the number one producer was Bieber himself. With that, “Purpose” comes off more as a synthesis of R&B and electro-dance, compared to the pop-high beats his previous albums have had.

Songs like “No Sense” and “Company” have you anticipating to see your special someone with their melodies. With the fame Bieber has, he can also have huge big name artists on his tracks, but chooses to do the opposite. Singing 10 out of the 13 songs himself, only three tracks feature other artists. Bieber chose Big Sean, Travis Scott and Halsey to be the three featured artist.

My favorite song on the album is “The Feeling” ft. Halsey, whose euphoric lyrics and rhapsody leaves me reevaluating my own feelings. I purchased “Purpose” and with that I also purchased a membership into team Bieber. He is currently preparing for his tour, which embarks in April and makes a stop in Hartford on July 10, 2015.

Whether your music taste is electric (“Where Are You Now”), R&B (“No Pressure”), Acoustic (“Love Yourself”) or Soul (“Purpose”). Bieber delivers them all in a perfectly packaged album that is truly an example of his resiliency as an artist and the vision for his music to come.