Album Review: Ghostly Times – When All That’s Left Is Grey

We’ve had a lot of beautifully atmospheric rock music released this year. From Manchester Orchestra’s fifth album, to Bellevue Days’ third EP, people have been perfecting the art of creating an atmosphere through their music all around the rock world. One more band that aims to do this are Brooklyn-based Ghostly Times, who have created a fantastic sound on their debut full-length album.

The first two tracks typify this sound fantastically. ‘Ghostly Times’ and ‘Sleepless State’ create a great atmosphere that sets the tone for the rest of the album. The lead singer’s great voice is perfectly complimented by a plethora of guitar sounds, ranging from melodic swirls to low rhythmic accompaniment. This, alongside the fantastic drumming all comes together to make an atmosphere that is both beautiful and melancholy at the same time. Not all of the songs are the same though. ‘Book of Love’ takes much more of a typical rock format to great effect, and ‘Sit Back, Relapse and Go’ is a 6-minute-long odyssey. Not to mention the incredible ‘Murder of Crows’ – my favourite song on the album.

I have never been one for longer songs, and this album has quite a few of them. Having said that, the band has managed to make them in a way that has kept me engaged throughout the album. Everything on this album just feels right, from the start to the end, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this band.

Best song: Murder of Crows

Score: 7/10

My Top 100 Songs: 60-51

60. Prayer Of The Refugee – Rise Against

One of the most catchy and easily recognisable tracks Rise Against have ever written in their career, this song is an absolute gem. It shows them at their furious, political best.

Find it on: The Sufferer And The Witness (2006)

59. Holding On To You – Twenty One Pilots

I love an intense song, and this is definitely one of those. It mixes all the best aspects of Twenty One Pilots’ work, mixing soaring melodies, intense rapping and great electronic influences to create a song that once you hear, you won’t get it out of your head.

Find it on: Vessel (2013)

58. Ocean Avenue – Yellowcard

This song is yet another example of early 2000’s pop-punk. Great vocals and guitar are combined with one of the most easily recognisable choruses of all time to make an incredible song.

Find it on: Ocean Avenue (2003)

57. Smile Like You Mean It – The Killers

This is one of the songs I’ve liked for the longest on this list. I always had it in my head when it first came out, but I only found out what it was called after discovering The Killers later on in my life. An amazing song.

Find it on: Hot Fuss (2004)

56. Team – Lorde

2013’s Pure Heroine was an incredible album, but I feel like this is the best song from it. Not only does it bear all of Lorde’s trademark incredible writing and production, its chorus can get in my head like no other song.

Find it on: Pure Heroine (2013)

55. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains Of Wayne

I may lose my credibility to a lot of people by saying this, but I love this song. It’s as catchy as anything I’ve heard, but not only that, it’s possibly one of the funniest songs ever written.

Find it on: Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)

54. I’m Made Of Wax Larry, What Are You Made Of? – A Day To Remember

I mentioned loving intense songs earlier, but this is something else. It feature incredible screamed vocals and an incredible chorus, the best of both worlds between hardcore and pop-punk.

Find it on: Homesick (2009)

53. Lost In Stereo – All Time Low

From one catchy chorus to another, this is one of the best songs in All Time Low’s discography. It contains one of the best vocal performances too!

Find it on: Nothing Personal (2009)

52. I Could Have Lied – Red Hot Chili Peppers

There is a beautiful acoustic track nestled in amongst all of the smash hits in Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and it’s this song. It’s serene, beautiful, and features some of John Frusciante’s best guitar work.

Find it on: Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

51. This Is Letting Go – Rise Against

This part of the countdown is started and finished by Rise Against, but the songs couldn’t be any more different. While ‘Prayer Of The Refugee’ is filled with anger, this is much more reflective and thoughtful. The lyrics are some of Tim McIlrath’s best work as well.

Find it on: Endgame (2011)

Come back in a fortnight for more of my favourite songs!

Classic Album Review: Bowling For Soup – Drunk Enough To Dance

Bowling For Soup have been creating the catchiest pop-punk for well over 25 years now. While some people may say that their music has lessened in quality recently, no one can deny that they still have a talent for writing some incredibly catchy hooks. And that ability catapulted them into fame in the early 2000’s, so much that their name is still mentioned amongst the greatest pop-punk bands of that era. There was one album that started all of this success though, and that was 2002’s Drunk Enough To Dance. This album would change their fortunes forever.

Without listening closely enough, this may sound like just your average 21st century pop-punk album. But what’s unique about it is vocalist Jaret Reddick’s ability to create a catchy hook. From the chorus of ‘Emily’ alone, I knew that this would be a memorable album. Every song has something catchy about it, from the first track to the last, and even on incredible bonus track ‘Punk Rock 101’. Are all of the songs perfect? Of course not, but all of them are good enough to stay in your head for the next week or so. And let’s be honest, what more can you ask for? The lyrical side of the album isn’t bad either. Most of the songs have that trademark Reddick humour that Bowling For Soup songs are known for. Occasionally this can come across as childish, but never enough to be a real problem.

Even if the name Drunk Enough To Dance might not be remembered much by pop-punk fans in ten years or so, the songs will definitely stick to people’s memories. The songs are catchy, energetic, and humorous, which is exactly what any pop punk album needs. This album has had a lot more influence, and is a lot better than people give it credit for. I hope it will be listened to for years to come.

Best song: Emily

Score: 8/10

EP Review: Maypine – In The Back Of My Mind

In The Back Of My Mind is the brand new EP from south coast pop-punk band Maypine. From the first listen, it is clear that this band have a lot of energy to bring to the table. But as essential as that is to a pop-punk release, an EP can’t get by on just energy alone – so is there any substance to it?

Initially, I wasn’t sure about the answer to this question. ‘Day After Day’ is a nice enough listen, but I think I’ve listened to so many pop-punk ballads that they all blur into one in my head at this point. ‘North/South Divide’ also never initially stood out to me, sounding like just your average pop-punk song, nothing more and nothing less.

But on the second listen, everything began to fall into place. While I hadn’t originally been too fond of the above two songs, they began to stand out more and more to me. ‘North/South Divide’s catchy hooks and pop-punk sensibilities grew on me, becoming charming rather than tired. Not only this, ‘Day After Day’ is actually a long way above your average pop-punk ballad, approaching a serious subject in a charmingly sentimental way. Not to mention ‘Day After Day’, easily one of the best songs on the album; an absolute anthem and a great closer.

While at first it may seem like this is another average modern pop-punk release (and trust me, there have been a lot of those over the past few years), I urge you to try it. Listen more closely and you’ll find it brimming with charm, energy and style. This band have potential for sure.

Best song: Day After Day

Score: 6/10

 

Album Review: Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface

When I first heard of this band, I had no idea why they were called Manchester Orchestra. After all, they aren’t an orchestra, and they definitely aren’t from Manchester the last time I checked. But after listening to this album I think I have more of a clue. An orchestra has so many different little parts building up to make a symphony, and this band is the same in many ways, at least in this. Their music is very lovingly and carefully created, with loads of clever details building up to create some incredible songs. Still no idea about the Manchester part though.

If I had to choose one word to describe this album, it would be ‘atmosphere’. All of the songs add together to create a melancholy soundtrack, and it works extremely well. Despite this, all of the tracks have a their own traits, making each song unique. This works perfectly, because all of the album sounds like one whole soundtrack, but doesn’t sound samey enough to be boring. One particular song that stands out to me is ‘The Parts’, the most stripped-back song on the album. Despite this, it still creates a moody feeling throughout, and the sound of the acoustic guitar is somehow soothing but never stays enough to make the song an less atmospheric.

As I mentioned earlier, all of the songs convey a similar feeling, which makes this album feel like it could be the soundtrack to a film or something similar. This is quite fitting as this is the band’s first full project after soundtracking the 2016 film Swiss Army Man. This melancholy atmosphere stretches from tracks like ‘The Mistake’, with lyrics like ‘I don’t want to die alone’, which is as dark as it is relatable, all the way to tracks like ‘The Sunshine’, which has more of a folky feel.

All of this continuity builds up to final track ‘The Silence’, which is only silent in name. It is a track that slowly builds up in terms of music, and then back down again. It is a seven minute odyssey of a track, creating a beautifully moody sound, and drawing this album to a close perfectly. Lots of albums are a great collection of songs, but this is something more; a beautifully working machine of an album. Take any of the songs, and it wouldn’t feel the same, but all together, this is a masterpiece. Truly one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.

Best song: The Silence

Score: 10/10

Classic Album Review: Mayday Parade – A Lesson In Romantics

For a decade now, Mayday Parade have been creating incredibly catchy pop-punk. When people thought that it might be getting stale, they surprised everyone with 2015’s incredible Black Lines, a complete change in style. In fact, their music has been quality all the way across their career, putting their name up amongst some of the most famous pop-punk bands of the 2000’s. One album started this entire legacy though, and that was 2007’s A Lesson In Romantics, ten years old this month. And little did they know, this would be the catalyst for many years of great pop-punk.

From the start of the album, it is clear that this album will be full of catchy hooks, thundering guitars and soaring choruses; the key ingredients for any pop-punk album. But something that sets this album apart is then vocalist Jason Lancaster’s voice. As soon as it came in at the start of ‘Jamie All Over’, I knew I was in for a treat. His voice is very rough and raw, but this is why it shines – this works perfectly for showing emotion, and this is definitely an emotional record. Sure there are occasional imperfections in the singing, but these are endearing rather than detracting from the album at all. In every line, you can hear that he is pouring his heart out.

The emotional side of the album adds a lot, but what about the musical side? Well that doesn’t disappoint either. As I mentioned earlier, the choruses are all incredibly catchy, but some of he guitar work is what stands out most in this aspect to me. They found a way to use both distorted and clean guitars in perfect balance, the former providing rhythm and the latter providing melody. The vocal hooks are incredibly memorable too; I mean what pop-punk fan doesn’t know the ‘I could live without you/but without you I’d be miserable at best’ refrain from what is undeniably the most popular song on the record, ‘Miserable At Best’. ‘Jersey’ is almost instantly recognisable too.

In conclusion, A Lesson In Romantics is a pop-punk classic, and will be remembered for years to come among the pop-punk community. Many people consider it to be Mayday Parade’s best album, and while I can’t decide, I know that it is definitely up there amongst the best work they have ever produced. Any song on the album could have been a successful single, the songs are all that good. And while many pop-punk records will fade into obscurity over time, I feel like this one will stay in memory a little longer.

Best song: Jersey

Score: 9/10

Album Review: Broadside – Paradise

Broadside have been performing quality pop-punk since their first album in 2015. And it was a strong first album, full of energy, and everything a pop-punk album really needs. Since then, they have gained a lot more fans, through their energetic brand of music, and all of them have been eagerly awaiting this new album. But will they use it and define themselves as a band even further, or will they continue to fit carefully in that typical pop-punk bracket?

Well some of these songs show definite growth. ‘Laps Around A Picture Frame’ is a great song, showing some excellent use of electronic elements, mixed with some guitars that thunder in during the chorus and some excellent drumming. On the other hand, some show very little. The title track is typical pop-punk, and that’s great, but this band have proven that they can make quality pop-punk time and time again. It should be time to branch out – by all means not leaving the genre behind, but adding new elements in, like New Found Glory did excellently with their new album by adding electronic elements.

Unfortunately, this seems the case with most of the album, with songs like ‘Disconnect’, ‘Who Cares?’ and ‘Miss Imperius’ blurring together into a pop-punk haze. If you played all three to me, I’d have difficulty distinguishing between the three. But when they stay from this, it’s great! While sounding like the same pop-punk blur at first, ‘Puzzle Pieces’ is an absolute anthem of a song, with a soaring chorus, and shouted and spoken sections that help to define itself as a great song. ‘Tunnel Vision’ has a great rhythm, and the final track ‘I Love You, I Love You. It’s Disgusting’ uses a ukulele backing incredibly. It’s just a shame that this sort of innovation doesn’t happen frequently enough.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this album shows enough departure from the last but it’s not all bad. Sure there are too many similar-sounding pop-punk songs on the album, but in between those some great songs can be found. There’s a great acoustic song, some fantastic use of a ukulele, and some great electronic influences, it’s just a shame these things are so few and far between. Broadside have proved that they can make some quality songs, so going forward they need to take these innovations, and use them more frequently. This is a band with a lot of promise, believe me.

Best song: Laps Around A Picture Frame

Score: 5/10