Review:: Portrait | Cardiknox

Before I get started, I’ll say two quick things.
One – I have made no effort to ever hide my love for Forgive Durden’s Razia’s Shadow. It’s easily in my Top Five. And there will surely be a few mentions of it in the coming
paragraphs. Two – man, it’s great to have Thomas Dutton making music again. Here’s why:

On the debut album from glam-pop duo Cardiknox, made up of Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton, of the now-defunct aforementioned Forgive Durden, the pair packs California sun and New York City ambition into a dozen tracks, each one as infectious as the last.

Continue reading Review:: Portrait | Cardiknox

Review:: Outgrown Things | Movements

I’ve always liked how Fearless Records handle their new signees. Where major labels will sometimes sign bands to deals off of the strength of a single, the independent Fearless has been known to have their rookies release EPs before delving into full-length territory. I don’t know why I like it so much, but I do. Maybe it’s because I don’t see it very much (though, if other labels are doing it too, I apparently don’t notice) or maybe
it’s because it’s a way of testing the water, who knows.

One thing that I do know is that, more often than not, these previews are a look at some of the best up-and-coming bands out there. This time around, with Orange County
four-piece Movements, we could be getting our first taste at something special.

The short EP quickly gets things moving, with a sharp guitar intro to “Kept” turning the ignition. Vocalist Patrick Miranda’s voice is a seamless mix of clean and gritty, with heavy screams woven in and out between softer vocals. With the open, storytelling penmanship and vocals that are at times more spoken-word than singing, Movements are sure to draw up comparisons to La Dispute or mewithoutYou.

Midway through, Outgrown Things hits its highest mark. Each member gives a highlight performance – Cressey’s basswork rumbles heavily along beneath Miranda’s strongest lyricism on the release, which is saying something for a release with better-than-average songwriting throughout. I don’t often pull individual lines out from songs to discuss, but with the combination of the words and their deliveries, a few struck me like lightning:
“I guess I’ve always slept better in an empty bed.”
“Hang me in the closet with the rest of your outgrown things”
“A thousand miles and I still feel you like the thorn in my side / Running from my problems never worked, but I’m still lengthening my stride.”

On “Vacant Home,” Miranda sings a line that encapsulates the release as a whole. Looped in the background, he pleads “this vulnerability has left my struggling.” But it’s that vulnerability and that struggle that makes Outgrown Things such a success. The doubt and the questioning and all of those negative, introspective emotions carry weight during every second here. Whether it’s the worry that vision is always better in hindsight, or trying to force shattered pieces to fit together, the openness here is the real strength.

I can’t say for sure what or when we’ll be hearing from Movements next, but with what they’ve delivered on Outgrown Things, I’m confident that it won’t disappoint. We’re
pretty early into 2016, but we may have just been introduced to one of the
year’s best new bands.

Release Date: March 11th, 2016
Rating: 3.85/5
Run Time: ~20 minutes
Check Out: “Worst Wishes,” “Nineteen,” “Hatchet”


Track listing:
1. “Kept”
2. “Nineteen”
3. “Worst Wishes”
4. “Hatchet”
5. “Vacant Home”
6. “Losing Fight”

Review:: Dissonants | Hands Like Houses

There is an atmospheric sound coming from Hands Like Houses’ new album Dissonants. This full-length album is self-assured, loud, and confident; it is everything to love about music.

The dynamics of Thrice, the moody vibes from Deftones, and the heart-on-sleeve ambition from Thursday have influenced this Australian group. From schoolmates to an international rock band, Hands Like Houses have been hard-hitting stages all over the world. They have played Warped Tour twice and have toured with Pierce the Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, A Day to Remember, and The Amity Affliction, to name a few.

Continue reading Review:: Dissonants | Hands Like Houses

Review:: There’s a Bigger Picture Here | Sudden Suspension

Sudden Suspension embodies the infamous punk-pop teenage angst driven genre as the boys keep it real and uncensored through emotion filled lyrics along with the signature whiny vocals paired with electric guitars and plenty of drums. Their EP titled There’s a Bigger Picture Here, is a bluntly honest documentation of the day-to-day life struggles and emotions felt by anyone who has ever grown up as a hormonal teenager.

The group tells it like it is embracing their badass, spunky attitude channeling the notorious punk-pop sounds with sad vocals and a bold dose of irony especially through the catchy track “We’ll Always Have Each Other” consisting of a repetitive chanting of the line “…just don’t forget to pretend that it gets better than this…” written from the perspective of first person, as if he were talking to himself about the lessons he will learn.

With the genre usually appealing to a younger demographic, the young bandmates possess a mature, realistic grasp on reality and are anything but naive about the world. The track “As Good as It Gets” is like an ultimate smack in the face of reality expressing the importance of looking out for yourself and to not rely on anyone to save you. The lyrics and vocals come out genuine and possess an ironic tone almost mocking his own stupidity in realizing his mistakes but also growing from them.

“Eventually” is one of the more brutally honest and vulnerable tracks on the EP. He accentuates each verse, taking one pang to the heart and ego after the next – it is like he is reading a passage out of his own diary; and he very well could be.

The other tracks titled “Cheap Seats”, “Footsteps”, and “Back Roads” all kind of speak for themselves with the ongoing theme of moving forward, growth and learning. Although the group is predictable in this regard, they thrive on their positive message and embrace it wholeheartedly.

The group has a strong perspective that resonates with many people and this album. This EP serves as an ode of hope and skewed positivity venting out all the misconceptions and challenges we all have to fae. This band has more than likely just begun its growth and
popularity and no doubt will continue to grow their following of fans.

Released June 16th, 2015
Run Time: ~16mins
Rating: 3/5

Track listing:
1.  Where I Left It
2.  As Good as It Gets
3.  Eventually
4.  We’ll Always Have Each Other
5.  Cheap Seats
6.  Footsteps
7.  Back Roads

Review:: Strictly Roots | Morgan Heritage


Morgan Heritage aren’t newcomers to the reggae scene, recently releasing their tenth album, Strictly Roots. I’m a beginner when it comes to reggae music, but Morgan Heritage has found a way to bring in new fans while keeping their old ones.  Their easygoing sound combines a mixture of pop elements and traditional reggae style to put a modern twist on the genre.

The title track “Strictly Roots” is the perfect opener for new fans of the genre It’s straightforward in introducing the rest of the album, with its easy beat and layered vocals. “Light It Up” is a listening experience to remind that you that their music is not about the bad times, but instead reggae is about fun and good vibes. Older fans might get a bit confused because Morgan Heritage introduces a more pop sound in their reggae, but they still can appreciate the homage to their roots. “Child of JAH” has remnants of
their traditional reggae style with slight mainstream undertones.  Its lyrics are meaningful and hail to their Jamaican roots.

The tracks continue to feel more and more modern as you listen to the rest of the album.  The reggae style becomes more of a base line for the pop-style vocals.  There’s a mixture of rap, jazz, and layered vocals but the messages behind the songs still invoke positivity and relaxation. “Sunday Morning” is one of those tracks that plays with pop-reggae
infusion – it’s smooth and upbeat while still incorporating pop elements.

Morgan Heritage’s twist on reggae music in Strictly Roots draws a newer fan base that might be more open to exploring the rest of the genre.  While older fans might miss the traditional aspects of the band’s sound, they still hold on to the fact that they are
redefining what the genre could bring to mainstream music.  They’ve already shown what they can do when you mix a wide variety of sounds, and it’s pretty amazing.

Release Date: April 20th, 2015
Runtime: ~50 minutes
Rating: 3.5/5
Check Out: “Child of Jah,” “Celebrate Life”

Track listing:
1) Strictly Roots
2) Child of JAH
3) Light It Up
4) Rise and Fall
5) Perform and Done
6) So Amazing
7) Wanna Be Loved
8) Why Dem Come Around
9) We Are Warriors
10) Put It On Me
11) Sunday Morning
12) Celebrate Life
13) Keep On Jammin