My Top 100 Songs: 80-71

80. 1985 – Bowling For Soup

Bowling For Soup have always been an insanely catchy band, but this catches them at their very best. It is important to note that this is not exactly their song, as it was originally written by a band called SR-71, but in this version, the loud guitars were toned down a little, and a great guitar riff was added. It’s an example of how to cover a song perfectly.

Find it on: A Hangover You Don’t Deserve (2004)

79. Pretty Little Distance – As It Is

From one piece of pop-punk perfection to another, this perfectly encapsulates what As It Is are all about. Excellent vocals and a catchy chorus mix together to make a song that I’ve been singing ever since I first heard it.

Find it on: okay. (2017)

78. Hoodwinker – Enter Shikari

Rou Reynolds’ voice is powerful, and this song is a perfect demonstration of it. He both screams and sings on this song, and sounds just as good while doing both. Coupled with the incredible guitar work, this song really packs a punch.

Find it on: N/A (This was released as a single on its own)

77. Reckless – You Me At Six

There is really nothing more to this than the fact that it’s a really fun, well made pop-punk song. The chorus is catchy, the guitar riff is great, and the song as a whole is pretty flawless. It’s just a lot of good fun.

Find it on: Sinners Never Sleep (2011)

76. State Of The Union – Rise Against

If ‘Hoodwinker’ turns things up to a ten, then this song turns then all the way up to an eleven. This is probably the most intense song Rise Against have ever written, and is a scathing critique of America under George Bush. I’d like to say that things have got better since then, but all you need to do is look at the news to realise it’s not.

Find it on: Siren Song Of The Counter Culture (2004)

75. Dosed – Red Hot Chili Peppers

This song is a true masterpiece; the Kiedis vocals and Frusciante’s guitar work blend together to create a truly beautiful song. But not only is it beautiful, it is truly heartfelt, with some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ best ever vocals.

Find it on: By The Way (2002)

74. Diamond Eyes [Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom] – Shinedown

Shinedown have written some great hard rock songs in their time as a band, but for me this rises above all of them. The mix of soft guitar in the intro going into a great guitar riff and shouted vocals works perfectly, and the chorus sound as epic as anything they have ever written.

Find it on: The Sound Of Madness (2008)

73. All You Are Is History – State Champs

State Champs are yet another one of the fantastic up-and-coming pop-punk bands at the moment, and this song is great proof. Often overlooked because of other hit single, ‘Secrets’, I feel that this song is a gem. It has everything a pop-punk song needs and more.

Find it on: Around The World And Back (2015)

72. Witchcraft – Pendulum

This may seem like a bit of a strange choice considering all of the other music I’m into, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. The mix of guitar, a catchy hook, and intense electronic elements makes this a perfect song for me.

Find it on: Immersion (2010)

71. In My Mind – The Amazons

I fell in love when I saw this song live. I’d already heard it, but never fully taken it in before then. The power of the guitar and the great vocals of the chorus really hit me then, and I’ve never stopped listening to it since.

Find it on: The Amazons (2017)

Tune in in a couple of weeks for songs 70 – 61!

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Classic Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – By The Way

The Red Hot Chili Peppers released what many people considered to be their best ever album in 1999. Californication was a hit that propelled the band into the forefront of the rock world with a great set of catchy songs, defined by the energy of frontman Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea. But how would they follow up this album’s success? They could, of course, release an album of similarly-styled songs to capitalise on the previous album’s popularity. Or maybe make an album of even more easily-accessible songs to push themselves even further into the mainstream. What they ended doing was a change of style, but it was neither of those things. By The Way was a rock revolution.

This album opted for a more melodic sound than the previous album, being led by the beautiful guitar melodies of John Frusciante rather than the energetic bass of Flea. With the exception of a few songs, the songs were a lot slower and focused more on creating a fuller, more beautiful sound. But this wasn’t giving up on their old sound; it was more an evolution of sorts. Each song was masterfully crafted and showed some of vocalist Anthony Kiedis’ best ever lyrics, particularly in ‘Dosed’, a sombre but beautiful ode to Hillel Slovak, the original guitarist of the band, who sadly passed away in 1988 due to drug problems. But not only are the lyrics extremely heartfelt, the guitar in this song is a lesson to anyone who wants to layer several guitar tracks.

While ‘Dosed’ was an evolution for the band, they definitely had callbacks to their older songs, in the form of bass-driven ‘Throw Away Your Television’, and the anthemic ‘Can’t Stop’. Flea leads both of these songs perfectly, using his bass to drive the songs along. He is ever-present in the album, but these represent some of his best work. Songs like these are rare however, giving way to slow ballads and more experimental work. Of this experimental work, ‘On Mercury’ deserves a lot of praise for the inclusion of new instruments, such as the trumpet. It is wonderfully catchy too. Of the slower songs, particularly ‘The Zephyr Song’ and ‘Don’t Forget Me’ stand out. The former experiments with electronic drum sounds to great effect, whereas the latter has the prefect blend of guitar and bass to make it stand out hugely.

To conclude, this blend of material perfectly typified the album. This album was a diverse but perfect departure from Californication that showed the bands ability to make more than just their original brand of funk rock. They pushed themselves even further than they ever had before, and came out with one of the best albums of their long and illustrious career. Whatever type of music you’re into, this album is something you have to listen to.

Best song: Dosed

Score: 10/10

EP Review: SAINTE – Smile, And Wave

If there’s one thing I expected from this album, it was colourful, catchy tunes. I’ve played singles ‘Technicolor’ and ‘With Or Without Me’ to death now, not to say that I’m sick of them. ‘Technicolor’s soaring chorus is impossible not to sing along to, and the even catchier ‘With Or Without Me’ is a joy to listen along to with its colourful synths and occasional crunchy guitar. Both songs have a sense of fun that a lot of other modern music seems to be lacking, and benefit greatly from it; an escape from the stress of living in this world.

But having mentioned stress, one person who seems to be completely lacking in it is lead singer Tay Jardine. With this new project she has been able to experiment and push the realms of her music even further than she could have in her main band, We Are The In Crowd. On opening track ‘Eyes Are Open’, she sings ‘there’s nothing to be afraid of’, and she certainly hasn’t been afraid of anything on this EP, embracing a poppier side of her music to great success. The guitars take more of a back seat on a lot of songs, leaving space for colourful swirling synths, and furthermore letting Jardine’s voice flourish even more. This is not to say that they have strayed completely from their pop-punk roots though, as the thundering guitars and crashing drums are never far away, forming a great backbone for all of the songs.

Jardine sings ‘this uncertainty has got me restless’ on main single ‘Technicolor’, but one thing that is certain is that this is an incredible EP. The pop-punk roots, mixed with the poppier new elements fuse together seamlessly, creating seven songs that could all be singles in their own right. This might just be a side project, but this has to be Jardine’s best work to date.

Best song: With Or Without Me

Score: 8/10

4 Musicians Who Have Influenced Or Inspired Me

When you like music as much as I do, many of your role models and inspirations will be musicians. And whether it’s through their music or not, they will have some sort of impact on your life. This could be an effect on the way you play music, the way you appreciate music, or it could be completely non-music related. I have found that this is definitely the case for me, and although I have loads of role models across the music world, I have found that four of them have influenced me the most.

1. John Frusciante – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I first properly got into the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was around 14, although I had been listening to them for much longer than that. This was around the time I started playing the guitar. At that time I would be obsessed with getting a song right, and I’d always have my guitar with me, whether I was watching TV, on my laptop, or just about anything else really. I would go over the same tracks over and over, trying to play them as perfectly as I could. But even when I had every note in the perfect place, there was still something missing. This was when I started to look at Frusciante’s playing. He was an incredible guitarist, but technically, he wasn’t among the best of the best. The thing that made him stand out was the sheer emotion he put into how he played. And it made me realise – some music is nothing without emotion. When I started to factor this into my playing, I improved more than I ever had before.

2. Ludovico Einaudi

Around when I was 15-16, I pretty much exclusively listened to rock music. I was convinced that every other genre was inferior for some reason or another, and wouldn’t listen to anyone trying to convince me otherwise. But one day, my piano teacher handed me a piece to learn, entitled I Giorni by Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi. I begrudgingly went home to try and learn it, working day after day to try and perfect it. But when I was done I noticed something – I loved the piece! There was something about it that relaxed me, and made me happy. Through that, I discovered so many more pianists that I still love to this day. And through that I slowly began to let myself listen to more and more genres, slowly branching out from rock music into the tastes I have today. Rock music still remains my favourite genre, but to claim that it is the only decent genre is just ignorant.

3. Tim McIlrath – Rise Against

College was when I first discovered alcohol. I was initially not keen on it, and after a bit of peer pressure and several terrible attempts at drinking to fit in, that sense of unease never left me. I have absolutely nothing against alcohol or anyone who drinks it, and I actually had a lot of fun and good memories with my friends at the parties when I was surrounded by it, but personally it was never for me. The thing was, I actually felt a little guilty and weird for not drinking and fitting in. This was when I found out a little more about Tim McIlrath, from my favourite band – Rise Against. Tim is straight edge, which means that he doesn’t drink alcohol, smoke, or take any drugs – which I completely identified with. Through him, I found other musicians that followed the same beliefs, including but not limited to Hayley Williams, Patty Walters and Andy Hurley. The fact that so many of my idols and influences followed this set of beliefs helped showed me that I wasn’t weird, or wrong for not wanting to drink, and this made university a much easier experience.

4. Rou Reynolds – Enter Shikari

Finally, I have Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari, a band that I only got into a couple of years ago, but quickly became one of my favourite bands. Enter Shikari have never been a band that’s been afraid to show their political views, just look at their twitter feed to see that. But before recently I had never really had an interest in politics, despite the fact that it should have been incredibly important to me as a student. But after hearing Rou speak out about the injustices of UK politics through his music and social media, I began to take an interest, so much so that I am now part of a student radio news show that talks about politics quite a bit. Through this, I can stand up for my views and other people’s, and I am not afraid to speak my mind and make a difference.

Album Review: Stone Sour – Hydrograd

Stone Sour were originally formed in 1992, but five years later, after a few demo tapes were released, the band went on hiatus after current lead singer Corey Taylor and former guitarist Jim Root started work with notorious metal band Slipknot. However they reformed in 2000, released a stunning debut album and have been proving people wrong ever since. Their time as a band has not been without difficulties and setbacks though. Taylor’s work with his ‘main’ band, Slipknot, has often come first, leading to big breaks in between the bands album releases and touring schedules.

Things eventually came to a breaking point in 2013, with guitarist Jim Root leaving due to creative differences with the band, saying the band were preoccupied with making money and getting ‘radio play’. This is their first full album after that incident, and although it does initially sound a little more radio friendly at points, it rocks just as much. Taylor’s voice has definitely improved on this album too, as shown by the brilliant ‘Song #3’. But this song doesn’t only show how far he’s come as a vocalist, but also as a writer. The chorus on this song is one of the catchiest things I’ve heard in quite a while. His songwriting prowess is shown yet again in ‘Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I)’, with a perfectly melodic verse that turns into a great chorus.

In fact, the whole album is a really great example of the whole band’s writing and playing skills. In a recent interview, Chad Kroeger recently claimed that the band was only ‘Nickelback-lite’, which begs the question, is he really listening? And if he is, does he even believe himself or is he trying to create controversy out of nothing, to draw attention to himself? Either way, this album is leagues ahead of anything I’ve heard from Nickelback, showing the creativity and intensity I’ve come to expect from a Corey Taylor-led band. That isn’t to discount any of the other band members’ work though, this album is definitely a group effort.

Despite all of the ‘radio rock’ accusations, there are still loads of moments of brutality, particularly in ‘Whiplash Pants’, four minutes of pure fury. Lead single ‘Fabuless’ also has several moments of anger, helping to throw these allegations out the window. On the other hand, ‘St. Marie’, a soft-sounding country song helps to show the bands versatility; there really are a fantastic range of songs on this album. Stone Sour have been a band for 25 years now, but this album sounds as fresh as ever.

Best Song: Song #3

Score: 8/10

EP Review: Fire In The Radio – New Air

Without doubt, 2017 has been a year of resurgence for both emo and punk music. Bands like Creeper and Miss Vincent have been gaining massive popularity over the past six months, among many other up-and-coming bands. One band that arguably fits into both of these categories is Fire In The Radio, a Philadelphia-based punk band that have created a refreshing new sound in this EP, New Air.

This sound is perfected in the first two tracks: ‘New Air’ and ‘I Don’t Know, I Remember’. The lead singer’s unique low voice is surrounded by bright, melodic guitars, sounding both energetic and melancholy at the same time. And that’s a pretty hard balance to keep. However the record would be pretty one-dimensional if all the tracks had a similar sound- songs like ‘Adeline’ and ‘Holy Shit’ help to switch things up with a slower tempo, but no less catchiness. Not to mention the incredible ‘Lionel Hampton Was Right’ – the best chorus on the EP by a long way.

From front to back, this EP never seems to drag on or overstay its welcome. No track feels out of place, and I’m actually thankful it lasts as long as it does. Work of this quality shows great promise, and I can’t wait for whatever this band come up with next.

Best song: Lionel Hampton Was Right

Score: 7/10

Album Review: Rozwell Kid – Precious Art

A fourth album in six years. If nothing else, Rozwell Kid sure are consistent. Not only this, but they have been touring relentlessly from the very beginning – this is a very hard working band. But that consistency isn’t the only thing they have going for them – they have been receiving glowing reviews all the way from Kerrang! to Pitchfork. So I thought I’d check this, their newest album out.

From the beginning, the frequently stated Weezer influences are clear to see. Guitarist Adam Meisterhans has nailed that fuzzy guitar sound typical of the blue album, particularly on ‘Total Mess’. ‘UHF on DVD’ also showcases their typical sound, with the addition of melodic synths over the top, and ‘Wendy’s Trash Can’ is another great example of this. But they aren’t essentially just a Weezer tribute band, with songs like ‘Wish Man’ nailing the essence of a humorous song – short, simple and most importantly funny. ‘Gameball’ is another unique song – a slower track with incredibly atmospheric guitar and vocals.

Everyone talks about the bands Weezer influences, but I don’t think they are the only thing that make this album great. For one, the use of synthesisers is excellent, with them not being used often enough to be boring, but showing up exactly when needed. These 12 songs fit together perfectly without sounding too samey. Worried this band are just another set of Weezer copycats? Listen to this album and I’ll let them prove you wrong themselves.

Best song: UHF on DVD

Score: 8/10