Author: Eric Riley
Review:: Chase The Sun | Greg Holden
Ever find yourself in one of those moods? Stuck in a rut, worn out, occasionally seeing the negativity in things turns into an involuntary habit you can’t seem to kick.
Yeah, those happen sometimes.
Clawing your way back out can take some time, and it can also require some assistance. This is getting drawn out, but there’s a point that I’m trying to make and it’s this – that assistance often can come from somewhere you weren’t expecting.
Starting off as a simple acoustic ballad, lightheartedly singing about recent life on the road, opener “Hold On Tight” suddenly bursts into a roaring anthem of positivity. Holden, with a hint of his Scottish heritage and English upbringing ringing through in his voice, cries out “Don’t take your life for granted / why don’t you hold on tight to what you’ve been handed / because you just don’t know how long you will have it.”
Continuing with the pairings of hook-filled pop music along with soul-inflating optimism and realism, both “Save Yourself” and “Bulletproof” could easily be slipped into any Top 40 radio rotations.
Holden’s talents aren’t limited to the upbeat. “Go Chase the Sun” couples the singer with soft piano, taking stock in a list of negative scenarios and situations (a failed relationship, ambitions that couldn’t be reached, a city that feels like it has given up on you) but always reminding himself and the listener to “I am not lost, I am not confused / Go chase the sun, see what you could become.”
Even in the darkest, most uncertain of times, there’s still a chance at light. On the album’s softest and simultaneously strongest track, armed with his acoustic guitar, piano, and haunting background vocal support, Holden tackles family, love, sexuality, growth, and acceptance. “Boys In the Street” narrates the lives of a father and son following the son’s coming out. For everything that I could say about it, about the chasm that separates the two, or about the steps taken to find an eventual understanding, there is much more that it needs to say for itself.
Bridging the gap between his faster, louder work and his softer side, tracks like “Give It Away,” the fantastic “Free Again,” and “A Wonderful World” find common ground between the two styles. The latter two of those three, which are placed one after the other, share relatively similar qualities in their choruses. Individually, they each succeed, though their back-to-back positioning could potentially reduce their impact.
To this point, Holden is mostly known (arguably) for his writing credit on Phillip Phillips’ “Home.” As huge and successful as that song was, Chase the Sun should earn him the same praise; praise that he, as a songwriter and performer, deserves.
As I mentioned (or rambled on about) earlier, help can come from unexpected places. But it comes when it’s needed.
This time around, I’m giving the credit to Greg Holden. Chase the Sun, with its positivity and charm, combined with Holden’s charismatic voice and undeniable hooks, shakes away the shadows.
Runtime: ~39 Minutes
Check Out: “Free Again,” “Hold On Tight,” “Boys In the Street”
01. “Hold On Tight”
02. “Save Yourself”
04. “Boys In the Street”
05. “Give It Away”
06. “Go Chase the Sun”
07. “Free Again”
08. “A Wonderful World”
09. “It’ll All Come Out”
10. “I Won’t Forget”
11. “The Next Life”
Paramore | Saratoga, NY at Saratoga Performing Arts Center | 6.24
Photo By: Eric Riley
Death Cab For Cutie | Boston Calling Music Festival | Boston, MA
Photo By: Eric Riley
Show Review: Taking Back Sunday 3/15
Taking Back Sunday,
with The Menzingers & letlive.
Upstate Concert Hall; Clifton Park, NY
Sunday, March 15th 2015
Sunday night was a story of three pretty different bands for me, in terms of my relationships or histories with them.
First, there was letlive. – a band I had only had the chance to see for a brief moment a summer or two ago, and has since been near the top of my “most-wanted” list. Second, The Menzingers, whom I had heard of extensively but had never had the opportunity to watch. And lastly, there was Taking Back Sunday, a group that I have followed and respected since I was a middle schooler. For as varied
as my experiences (or lack thereof) with these three were, I was allowing myself a clean mental slate.
As the house lights fell, the photographers in the pit made their last-minute adjustments and got ready. Something had led me to believe
The Menzingers were billed as the first opener, so as letlive. took the stage, I was confused for a moment. Within the first notes of their opening song, they quickly shook off any uncertainty that anybody, myself included, may have had. Their thirty-minute set was heavy, raw, emotional, and energetic. Before their second song had come to a finish, Jason Butler found himself in the crowd, leaping the photo pit and letting the audience support him, both vocally and physically.
Weaving his microphone cord through the ceiling rafters, Butler spoke: “This next song, I wrote when I was younger.” He began to loop the cord around his neck: “A man put his hands on my mother, to harm her,” he said, pulling tighter, “so I put my hands on his shoulders. And I put his head through a car window. Whether it was the right way to handle it or not, if I had the chance to live it again, you’re fucking right I would do it the same.” With that, cheers filled the room as the guitar introduction to “Muther” began.
When it was time for their shot at the crowd, The Menzingers wasted no time. Throughout the duration of a 40-minute performance, the band paused only a handful of times, briefly – a short “Let’s hear it for the guys in letlive.!” after their first four songs, followed by a quick “And who’s ready for Taking Back Sunday!?” two songs later. What made this set so much fun to watch was the band’s ability to enthrall their audience while not spending too much time addressing them. And while that may sound like a bad thing, it kept the focus on what matters most – the music and the performance.
At a little after 9, Taking Back Sunday took the stage to a roar of applause. Seconds into “Flicker, Fade,” the room was theirs for the
next ninety minutes.
Followed by “What’s It Feel Like to Be A Ghost?” and “Number Five With A Bullet” (my all-time personal favorite), the five-piece stitched three eras of the band’s career into a 10-minute series, opening with their latest single, then reaching further back into their catalog. Though we didn’t get the snow that the forecast had predicted, the flashing strobes and scattered backlighting helped create a blizzard of light and sound inside.
After being around for as long as they have, Taking Back Sunday’s sets have the potential for being a “Greatest Hits” of sorts. Though they weren’t played in succession, when it came time for “A Decade Under the Influence,” “You’re So Last Summer,” and “Liar (It Takes One to Know One),” each built on the intensity of what came before, leading to a handful of highlights.
With as many standout moments as there were, one ranks just that extra bit higher than the rest. Before closing with a stellar performance of “MakeDamnSure,” the classic guitar riff of “Cute Without The ‘E’” ripped through the venue and the room instantly began to move. As Lazzara began singing the bridge, muttering “Hoping for the best, just hoping nothing happens; a thousand clever lines unread on clever napkins,” the instruments cut out and the crowd instinctively began shouting in unison “Why can’t I feel
anything for anyone other than you?” while Lazzara conducted.
Like I mentioned earlier, I made it a point to not hold onto previous opinions, though positive, and let the night speak for itself. This turned out to be a wise decision, with my already-high expectations being exceeded. I’d have to think pretty hard to remember a three-act concert that delivered as well as this tour did. From the moment letlive. took the stage, through the entirety of The Menzingers’ performance, and until the last notes of “MakeDamnSure,” the building buzzed. There was no time wasted testing the waters, nor did the energy fade during the (extremely quick, I must say) set changes. All in all, it was just a hell of a show from a trio of bands who know precisely what they’re doing.
Review:: Coin EP | Coin
For Fans of: New Politics, Walk the Moon, Bleachers
It doesn’t always take much to leave a large impact.
Individual lines within entire books can change the course of the story.
A single play at the end of an entire season can solidify a championship.
Or, in this case, three tiny pop songs can kickstart a band’s career.
(Hint: this has nothing to do with sports or storybooks.)
Before their debut full-length is released this June (sharing a label with Foster the People and Peter Bjorn and John), Nashville four-piece COIN tease their listeners with a three-song EP that is bound to draw a crowd.
Led in by their first single, “Run,” the short EP wastes no time. A bright guitar hook and echoing backing vocals lead the song, leaving out anything overcomplicated or gratuitous, finding success by keeping things simple.
“Fingers Crossed” holds the energy high, with racing percussion making it impossible to stand still during before a darker, moodier “Better” closes out the EP making use of swirling background noise and 80’s nostalgia. Well, as much nostalgia one can have for a time they weren’t alive for, but you get the point.
It’s no accident COIN racked up more than 100,000 listens in under three weeks on a single track. Their sharp, energetic sound digs itself into your head, while the briefness of a three-song EP from an infectious new band leaves you craving more. June feels very far away now.
Release Date: February 24th, 2015
2. Fingers Crossed
Chase Lawrence: Vocals
Joe Memmel: Guitar, vocals
Zach Dyke: Bass
Ryan Winnen: Drums
LOL Gallery: Childish Gambino, The Hold Steady, Bleachers, twenty one pilots
Who: Childish Gambino, The Hold Steady, Bleachers, twenty one pilots
What: Boston Calling Music Festival, Part 2
When & Where: 9/5/14 – 9/7/14; Boston, MA
By: Eric Riley
For full gallery, click here!
Review:: Imaginary Numbers | The Maine
I had the pleasure of sitting down for an interview with a couple of guys from The Maine back in October, and I asked them about how they felt about the outcome of Forever Halloween. I then asked about if they had any songs leftover that they didn’t get the chance to work with, bringing up the idea of releasing another b-sides EP or acoustic songs.
So, I basically predicted the future.
On Imaginary Numbers, the band continues their trend of growing maturity and slows themselves down, showing what they can do by stripping their songs down to bare bones. Opener “Raining in Paris” is gentle and soft, supported by an arrangement of guitar and quiet organ, followed by “Room With No Windows,” which backs the band’s usual cleverness and wit with swirling background vocals and plucky acoustics.
The faintly-sung “Visions” grows with time, peaking near the end with a strong harmonica part before quietly transitioning into “Lonely Sad,” a near-seven-minute conclusion that almost collapses beneath the weight of itself. The loop of the piano and guitar throughout is both eerie and tranquilizing. While they would seem lazy or out of place in faster or plugged-in tracks, O’Callaghan’s flattened vocals fit perfectly with the feel of the song.
Midpoint “Perfectly Out of Key” is the highlight of Imaginary Numbers; a beautiful piano ballad, carried by a delicate falsetto and personal, harsh lyrics.
At this point in their career, The Maine are starting to pick up a lot of speed. Over the span of their past few releases, they’ve strongly come into their element and are becoming one of the better bands within their genre. Imaginary Numbers is a step out of the group’s comfort zone, but with the performances here, you wouldn’t guess that this isn’t their usual song and dance.
Release Date: December 12th, 2013
1. “Raining in Paris”
2. “Room With No Windows”
3. “Perfectly Out of Key”
5. “Lovely Sad”
The Maine are:
John O’Callaghan – Vocals, guitar, piano
Kennedy Brock – Guitar, vocals
Jared Monaco – Guitar
Patrick Kirch – Drums
Garrett Nickelsen – Bass
Review:: Weekend | The Sounds
Typically, you don’t just land studio time in world-famous recording studios with all-star producers just based off of luck. There needs to be something backing you, which, hopefully, includes a heap of talent and drive. That being said, when they checked into the Svenska Grammafon Studio with producer Alex Newport (City & Colour, Frank Turner, At the Drive-In, Bloc Party), there was a high bar set for Sweden’s The Sounds.
Fortunately, the smooth, hyper, textured indie-rock that the band produces realizes that mark and meets it.
There’s a frenzied mix of genres on the tracks that make up Weekend, the group’s fifth full-length album. While a song may start off with plucky banjos and guitars, it later adds in pulsing dance-rock synthesizers (“Great Day”), or the ominous introduction of title-track “Weekend,” which then fades to chanting group vocals and a simple acoustic strum.
The energy that is present during this record is pretty striking. It’s obvious to say that bands put an effort into making an album, but on Weekend, it comes to the front and grabs the spotlight. The chugging, surf-rock guitar work on “Emperor” and the entertainingly unsettling string-filled introduction of “Panic” support this – each track takes the band’s vigor and makes it an instrument itself.
Bookended by the racealong “Shake Shake Shake” and closer “Young and Wild” gives the record a feeling of cyclicality. Each song holds an element of dark glam, and while they contrast each other in tempo – the first being quick and rattling, the second being more calm and swayed, the two still hold things together and compliment each other nicely, separated by the nine songs between them.
The Sounds do a lot on the album, constantly mixing things up and changing directions. Luckily, none of it seems too wild or overdone. Weekend is a clever grab-bag of style and substance which managed to succeed at any endeavor attempted, making the album something to eagerly look forward to.
Release Date: October 29th, 2013
1. Shake Shake Shake
2. Take It the Wrong Way
3. Hurt the Ones I Love
5. Great Day
7. Too Young to Die
11. Young and Wild
The Sounds is:
Maja Ivarsson – Vocals
Felix Rodriguez – Guitar, vocals
Johan Bengtsson – Bass
Jesper Anderberg – Keyboards, guitar, vocals
Fredrik Blond – Drums
Review:: It’s Only Change | Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why
Somewhere, in some secret underground laboratory filled with beakers and burners and junk, there is a scientist. Wearing a lab coat and a giant pair of headphones. Trying to combine as many musical styles into one band as he can. He starts throwing genres into test tubes, and they all start combining and bubbling and smoking and steaming and … *poof.*
The fog clears, and Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why pops out.
And that, my friends, is what we call a ridiculous exaggeration. Anyway, back on topic – on their fifth album, New Jersey’s Quincy Mumford returns with his array of musical stylings, ranging from jazz to funk to hip-hop to pure rock & roll.
For this record, Mumford et al. took to Nashville with a handful of renowned producers to help create the swirl of emotions and styles that is It’s Only Change, which Mumford says is unlike anything he had “ever done before,” giving him the chance“to mesh all [of my] influences into one complete piece of work.“
The record opens on “Change,” which carries in an intro that calls for The Hold Steady comparisons before shifting into something that’s a little more reggae. It only takes a couple more minutes before “Under the Covers” makes things reeeal funky.
Both “Time Won’t Wait” and “When You Get Back” slow the tempo a bit, while keeping all of the heart and soul of the album fully intact. Sticking with the cooled, calmed-down side of the album, “Eventually” is an absolute stand-out. Lyrically, Mumford croons as he aches for a simpler life, contemplating the indecisiveness that can stand in the way – “Do I sit? Do I stay? / Should I walk? Should I talk? / It’s very confusing for me. … Maybe I just want to enjoy this … Stop to appreciate the small things that make this world great / Because I know this life can all be fun and games / but if I play these cards correctly / I’ll be free / eventually.”
Anyway, closer “Baby Don’t Go” is a full-band romp with echoing, rumbling guitars and a carefree vibe. It ends the album with a feeling of longing and want, while feeling upbeat and positive. It’s a very cool, certainly tricky, approach at a song, let alone a closer. Well played.
Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why are poised to be in just about any spotlight they want. Their multiple sounds are broad and unique, but each different one still feels genuine and right. Whether it’s the album’s bouncing energy or smooth laid-back mellowness, Its Only Change is something new and for the better.
Release Date: July 30th, 2013
02. “For You”
03. “Under The Covers”
04. “When You Get Back”
05. “A Hard Place”
06. “Time Won’t Wait”
09. “No Love”
10. “Baby Don’t Go”
Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why are:
Quincy Mumford – Vocals, guitar
Brian Gearty – Bass, backing vocals
Mike Zdeb – Lead guitar, backing vocals
Davide Vossel – Drums
Karlee Bloomfield – Keys, backing vocals