My Top 100 Songs: 20-11

20. Walking Disaster – Sum 41

This is one of the only songs I have genuinely got emotional watching live, and honestly, I don’t know why. There’s just something in this song that touches me, and I love it.

Find it on: Underclass Hero (2007)

19. When You Were Young – The Killers

I have loved this song ever since I first heard it, and will probably continue to love it for the rest of my life.It’s catchy, emotional, and by far some of Brandon Flowers’ best work.

Find it on: Sam’s Town (2006)

18. Starlight – Muse

The first Muse song I loved, this is an absolute anthem for the band. From the beautiful piano intro to the ‘Black Holes And Revelations’ refrain, this song just makes me happy.

Find it on: Black Holes And Revelations (2006)

17. Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades) – Brand New

This is one of the most unnerving, creepy songs I’ve ever heard. I love it because it takes a theme a lot of music talks about, taking a girl back to your house, and turns it on it’s head. It’s creepy, unsettling, and utterly brilliant.

Find it on: Deja Entendu (2003)

16. Pack Of Thieves – Enter Shikari

This is one of Enter Shikari’s more melodic songs and I love it. The chorus is intense, but full of melody, and it’s a testament to just how good this band is.

Find it on: A Flash Flood Of Colour (2012)

15. Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind

I’ve picked this song for no other reason than it just makes me happy. The melody and guitar blend together to make this the perfect singalong song.

Find it on: Third Eye Blind (1997)

14. Spanish Sahara – Foals

I first found this when I was playing the video game Life Is Strange. The song played through a tragic ending scene and this song was perfect for it, slowly building up into a beautiful crescendo. I listen to this when I’m sad and at least for the duration of the song, I feel a little better.

Find it on: Total Life Forever (2010)

13. When I Come Around – Green Day

This song has a special place in my heart because I performed it with my girlfriend at an open mic night, but I also thing it’s an incredible song. There’s something about the melody that just gets into your head, and stays there.

Find it on: Dookie (1994)

12. Getting Along – Royal Republic

Simply put, this is the most catchy song I have ever heard. The chorus is incredible, and it shows just how good Royal Republic are at writing great songs.

Find it on: Weekend Man (2016)

11. No Way Out – As It Is

As well as being incredibly catchy, the monologue in the middle of this song is incredibly emotional. Singer Patty Walters pours his heart out on this one, and it makes it one of the most raw, honest songs I’ve ever heard.

Find it on: okay. (2017)

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EP Review: Echoic – Shadows Of You

Echoic are a three-piece from Reading, and are a very hot prospect in the rock scene. Their music could be described as catchy rock music with added electronics, creating a richer sound than a lot of bands out there. But style is nothing without substance, so how good is this EP really?

You’d expect some imperfections in the band’s sound, with them being such a relatively young band, but you won’t find any here. The production is stylish and glossy, seamlessly fusing the rock and electronic elements to great effect, giving the album a really smooth sound. This is shown more than ever on ‘Next To You’, which uses ambient guitar really well in the verse, before ramping things up into a louder chorus, complete with distorted power chords.

The other songs are seamlessly produced as well, with a consistent sound all the way through. ‘Blame’ has incredible vocal delivery, while ‘Ghost’ is beautifully ambient before launching into a great chorus. ‘We Burn Like This’ stands out from the other tracks though, with a bit more of a rough sound. Usually I’d have a problem with this because it wouldn’t really fit with the rest of the album, but this song, and so well produced that it seems to fit anyway.

This is a quality EP from a really talented band, and I definitely think you should listen to it.

Best songs: We Burn Like This, Next To You

Score: 7/10

EP Review: The Virginmarys – Sitting Ducks

The Virginmarys released their last album last year, so I wasn’t exactly expecting new music from them so soon, but they are back with this four-track EP. The band has a knack for getting EPs just right, but is this one the same?

This is a short but sweet EP, containing a range of different styles, but never once compromising what this band is about. It contains a nice range of songs, perfectly showing the band’s range. Therefore, if you want to get into them, this is the EP to do it with. It bursts into life instantly with the title track, ‘Sitting Ducks’, a blast of punk perfection with a great driving bassline.

And the quality doesn’t stop there; ‘Sweet Loretta’ is a great song, with a slow verse building up into a chorus typical of the Virginmarys. ‘Through The Sky’ is a little slower, reminiscent of ’90s British rock, and ‘Sleep’ is a beautiful little acoustic effort, one of the bands quieter songs.

Quite often in my reviews, there is a massive ‘but’ in the last paragraph, but don’t worry, you won’t find one here. This is purely a great EP, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Best songs: Sitting Ducks, Sleep

Score: 8/10

Album Review: Propagandhi – Victory Lap

Propagandhi have been around for a while. Their last album, Failed States came out 5 years ago, to great acclaim. That was a while ago, but with the state the world is in at the moment, we really need some great political albums to come out this year. Albums like Rise Against’s Wolves fit the bill, but we’ll take as many political rock groups making a stand as we can get. The lead single and title track was great, combining punk music with metal riffs, but is the rest of the album any good?

Propagandhi have a legacy in punk music that is untouched by many, and they could easily just live off that, releasing sub-standard albums that feed off the same topics that they’ve always been raging against, but this isn’t what this band is about. In fact, most of the songs on this album are quality. An example of this is the wonderful ‘Lower Order (A Good Laugh)’, which combines chugging riffs with atmospheric clean guitar sections. ‘Letters To A Young Anus’ is furiously fast paced and everything you’d expect from this band. One of the best songs on the record is ‘Adventures In Zoochosis’, which is a rollercoaster of a song, mixing the very loud with the very quiet. Oddly enough though, none of these songs fully sum up the record, because it has so much variety.

The variety isn’t offputting though, because the record is still very coherent. And that is key to making a good album; a coherent sound, but not enough to make it boring. If you like political music, I urge you to listen to this. We needed a good political album this year, and Propagandhi pulled through yet again.

Best songs: Adventures In Zoochosis, Victory Lap, Letters To A Young Anus

Score: 7/10

Album Review: Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life

This is an album I feel like a lot of people have been waiting for. Their fist album was a sprawling but beautiful mess of melody, with a bit of punk energy mixed in. NME even called it ‘the best debut album of the 21st century’. Oddly enough though, the first single from this album, ‘Yuk Foo’ was met with mixed reception. It was an angry, rough, punk song, with enough aggression to fill an entire album. It was the first Wolf Alice song I ever heard, and I hated it at first. In fact, it put me off the band altogether. It was only after encouragement from my friends that I listened to the first album. And to my surprise, I loved it. Not only that, but I actually begun to like ‘Yuk Foo’ after I listened to it again. I feel like that was a lesson for me, teaching me not to judge a band on one song.

Wolf Alice’s first album was special. This album feels even more so. It’s a little heavier, and darker than their first album, and while that may disappoint a fan or two, I think it sounds great! This album shows the band maturing, and taking new steps, and stretching the boundaries of their already well-established sound. If you like the heavier parts of their music, ‘Yuk Foo’ is a two-minute blast of punk aggression. Less heavy, but just as dark is ‘Planet Hunter’, showing a brutally honest side of the bands’ writing. Just as honest is ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’, possibly the best song on the record. The album saves one of its’ best tracks for last though, with the title track. It is a rollercoaster of a range of styles fusing together perfectly to end the album.

I thought the first Wolf Alice album was a masterpiece, but this is something else. The band have pushed themselves on this, sounding like something new and something familiar at the same time. Their sound was raw and beautiful on the first album, but this is even more so, making this one of the must-listen albums of the year.

Best songs: Don’t Delete The Kisses, Visions Of A Life

Score: 9/10

Album Review: Makeout – The Good Life

Makeout are a band that seem poised to make it big in the rock world. Blink-182 have praised them as the future of pop-punk, and their new album has been produced by John Feldmann, essentially a ticket to fame in the rock world. Having said that, I’m less than impressed by their new album. Here’s why…

The album is catchy, that’s for sure. The melodies are great, and have a way of getting into your head. But unfortunately, that’s a necessity in the pop-punk world. Beyond that, there’s really not much substance to the album. A great example of this is the first song, ‘Childish’. Is the melody catchy? Yes. Is there energy? Tonnes of it. Is there anything more than that? Definitely not.

The album goes on in a similar way; high on production, melody and energy, low on anything else. But there is a bigger problem with this album, and that is the fact that the whole album seems so childish. For example, the asides in ‘Lisa’ don’t make me like this band anymore. In fact, they make me dislike the lead singer. He comes across as childish, arrogant and a bit nasty. Furthermore, ‘Secrets’ sounds incredibly immature, and ‘You Can’t Blame Me’ just completely rips off a Blink-182 riff.

If you’re looking for a new, revolutionary rock band, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you can stomach the lyrics, then maybe you’ll at least enjoy the musicality of this record. If not, avoid it at all costs.

Score: 4/10

Is Pop-Punk Getting Stale? Part 1

Pop-punk. Once the most exciting word in the rock world, this genre fuses punk attitudes and guitars with pop melodies to create incredibly catchy rock songs. After around 2007 it began to rapidly decline, in both quality and the number of bands in the scene. It hit a really low point around then, but it has been making a resurgence of late, with bands like Neck Deep, State Champs and Knuckle Puck rising to prominence. But I personally think that there are two sides of this resurgence. With every great band it has brought, 100 copycats have followed, imitating the music in everything but quality. So that begs the question, is the pop-punk world growing stale? There are two sides to this argument, and I will dissect both sides of them in this post.

The first is the negative point of view, that the scene is growing stale, one that I personally agree with. As a rock music critic, I review a lot of pop-punk albums. Even three months ago, the thought of a brand new pop-punk album to review would fill me with joy, but now it fills me with dread. The problem? Most of the pop-punk albums I review are terrible. Like, truly awful. When I first reviewed them, I’d always put a positive spin on it, saying something like ‘just add a bit more variety and you’ll be fine’. The problem is, nothing changes with a large number of pop-punk bands. No matter how many albums I listen to, I hear the same drum beat, the same guitar lead, and the same whiny, often misogynistic vocals. There are definitely a lot of bands in the pop-punk world doing great things, but a lot of other bands are piggybacking off their success, making boring, emotionless, and passionless music. And because there are so many bands doing this, the pop-punk world is going stale. Even though a lot of bands are doing great things, they are being suffocated by the lack of creativity of so many others.

On the other hand, there are a lot of good things going on in the pop-punk world. For example, bands like Waterparks, As It Is and Neck Deep are making creative, exciting music. Even scene veterans like Blink-182 and All Time Low are bringing new ideas to the table, although the latter had mixed results in their new album. And by all means, these are the bands at the forefront of the industry, the ones making the music that people hear. People are more likely to hear their music, as that is the music that is pushing boundaries, creating something creative, and gaining more fans in the process. So the scene is polluted with dull, uninspiring music, but that’s not what’s getting any publicity and airtime.

I can still conclude from this that pop-punk is still getting stale though. The problem is that compared to the bad bands, the good bands are so few and far between, that not enough of a proportion of them exist to make pop-punk a popular genre. If someone thinks ‘I’ll listen to some pop-punk today, chances are that music won’t be all that great, and that needs to change for pop-punk to be a more respected genre.