[REVIEW] The Story So Far – Proper Dose by Pauline Campbell

Up until the release of Proper Dose, it had been approximately three years, four months and three days since The Story So Far released their last full-length record. For a portion of overzealous fans, this length of time was three years, four months and three days far too long. It began to feel like a running gag; anything The Story So Far posted on social media was met with jokingly testy demands for the new record. Like obsessively watching a clock, it felt like fans had been waiting for the album a lot longer, and in a way, we were. Finally, the new record is here. Say hello to Proper Dose.

My initial reaction to the opening of the title track is that this record isn’t going to be a complete departure from their old sound. Proper Dose (the track) is faintly familiar, mostly due to Ryan Torf’s trademark rhythms. Proper Dose (the album) has many moments where I am drawn to reminisce about The Story So Far’s past work; Let It Go and Take Me As You Please display the same level of intricacy in guitar playing I expect from Will Levy and Kevin Geyer, and in Need To Know they manage to retain their old sound in the verses and pre-chorus, and then effortlessly blend those sections with the newer style in the chorus and outro.

From the very beginning, the change in vocal style is obvious. However, I welcome this change with open arms; stylistically Parker’s vocals are following suit with the calmer attitude of the record, and technique-wise I believe that this collection of songs will be easier for him to tour with. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still moments where Parker allows himself to fall back into his trademark snarls of anger, such as in Keep This Up. The production of Parker’s vocals is also agreeable. The only place in the record where I thought it was too much was in Take Me As You Please. This is a track that could have been Proper Dose’s Placeholder, but the production makes Parker’s vocal sounds too robotic, which takes away from the rawness of the track.

There’s no denying that Proper Dose is exceptional, but it has its’ imperfections. The chorus in Light Year is awkward, and it’s too much of a filler track to close the record on; Light Year simply doesn’t hold a candle to Closure and Framework. However, I will take Light Year over Line, which for me was the lowest point on the record. The whole instrumental sounded like an uninspired version of The Fallen Interlude from Blink 182’s self titled. I can understand where The Story So Far were going with this, but nothing of interest goes on in the almost 3 minutes it takes for the track to be over.

Some fans feel as if The Story So Far have become something unexpected, and almost feel left behind by their latest collection of songs. I don’t feel like these fans were left behind, I think they just weren’t paying attention. Proper Dose is a progression in style that The Story So Far have been developing from the release of Songs Of, but the album still feels like a love letter to their past works, with a more thought out and mature form of fury.

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[REVIEW] HAPPY. – Cult Classic by Pauline Campbell

Happy., are a pop punk band from Columbia, South Carolina, who are aptly named regarding the vision they choose to portray with their music. At times, their work is bright and cheerful, akin to a Saturday afternoon in the summer; but there are points where the band touches on contrasting low points, which is reflected in the blunt period within their band name. A few weeks ago, they released their debut full length, Cult Classic.

How To Lose A Girl in 1:45 staples the tone for the rest of the record, starting with bright slowly paced luau music produced to sound as if it’s being broadcast on an old radio, and from there switching to a sound that is reminiscent of early Blink 182 if they were fronted by Charlie Simpson. A facet of this record that I enjoyed the most was the way that Happy. cohesively meshed together elements that if done by a less creatively articulate band, wouldn’t have worked. The lyrical content of Winona Ryder, with lyrics such as “Darkest of dens/Is where we will fit in/Don’t underestimate my capability/To be your favourite sin”, is deliciously reflected in the tasteful use of the bass guitar throughout the song. This is mixed in with a surf punk Agent Orange type sound, which gives the song a unique and agreeable character. Also, there’s a guitar solo in Drowners, that again should not work, but for some reason it does.

Don’t Overdose and Drive is pretty safe in sound compared to the rest of the album but is otherwise palatable and cohesive. The chorus has a certain snappy feel to it that I would place with faster songs in the genre, which is delightful to hear, and truly showcases the band’s promising composition skills. There are however, some low points on the record in terms of songwriting. I Call Shotgun is not the band’s finest minute; I felt the whole track was a little juvenile and dated. The vocal melodies lacked assertiveness, which I also noticed in Fishtank, and the dynamics between sections could have been better developed. Happy. have proved that they are more than capable of writing fitting vocal melodies, as seen in Drowners, and they do have a good grasp on dynamics in Where The Wild Things Are, which I feel is the strongest song on the record. Where The Wild Things Are is the track that made me interested in reviewing this album; the chorus is catchy and dark, with the perfect amount of grit for the band’s style. I am almost offended on the song’s behalf that it was placed last on the record.

For a band that is relatively new, Happy. have proved themselves to be worthy of their contemporaries. By combining contrasting styles and moods, Cult Classic stands as a striking debut album, that has a distinctive and enjoyable individuality not often seen in the initial efforts of most bands of the genre.

Keep up to date with Happy. via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

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[REVIEW] ALKALINE TRIO release 9th studio album IS THIS THING CURSED?

While we’re happy for the legacy of Blink 182 to carry on its reign with Matt Skiba, Alkaline Trio have been sorely missed since 2013’s My Shame Is True but have now finally returned with a full length album. Is This Thing Cursed? dropped today via Epitaph Records. After conspiracies about Alkaline Trio no longer existing for frontman Skiba to tour and write with Blink, the album has come as a surprise to many. Despite ‘Blackbird’ and title track ‘Is This Thing Cursed?’ releasing as singles prior to the album, the band has seemingly became a distant memory in the eyes of many fans, with people almost giving up hope of their return. Since their humble beginnings of goth aesthetic and hauntingly poetic lyrics, Alkaline Trio have almost fallen back to their roots with ominous ambience. If there’s one thing Alkaline Trio have always been good with, it’s the visual representations in their lyrics that push boundaries in an edgy, doleful sort of way.

Is This Thing Cursed? is comprised of 13 songs in total, and their charm of buoyant melancholy dominates the overall album. The attractiveness of Alkaline Trio predominantly comes from an almost tongue-in-cheek look at hopelessness, and ever since their 2005 goth aesthetic peak with Crimson the new album brings back a feeling of excitement. Whether it’s because Skiba’s adventure into a lighter, more publicised and known band intercepted what we thought we knew, or that the diverted attentions of band members and their side projects have brought a feeling of “is this just to keep their name alive?”, Alkaline Trio’s latest instalment is a reminder of their brilliance that engaged with us in the first place. Historically hung up with angst, bitter emotion and emblematic despondency, Is This Thing Cursed? feels closer to the From Here To Infirmary era, implementing near vintage sounds representative of early punk rock.

Aside from the two pre-release singles that admittedly holds the spotlight, one of the best tracks on the album is ‘Sweet Vampires’ consisting of corrugated riffs creating fierce and combative attitude. With such a portfolio of tracks, each plays and appeals in their own ways, for example, final track Krystalline is a heartsick love story in poetic fashion, holding onto perplexing undertones to give it that cut-throat edge. ‘Stay’ is another favourite, due to its moving fluency instrumentally that really compliments the vocal style. Andriano’s voice has been known to be hit or miss, with people often referring to it as monotone, but there are tracks throughout Alkaline Trio’s discography that enhances his tone, almost augmenting into something new, and ‘Stay’ is a track that does this incredible justice. The vocal switches balances the album immensely, such as ‘Heart Attack’ with Skiba’s unctuous chords telling morbid tales of adversity. It’s one of the best tracks to throw you back between 2001 – 2005 Trio, emphasising that horror goth decorative.

Is This Thing Cursed? is available now for streaming and to purchase on LP, although vinyl’s will be released later in October but are available to preorder here.

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BRING ME THE HORIZON continue radio career with new track MANTRA.

Since Bring Me The Horizon has entered the radio stage of their career, the group has significantly softened their sound since This Is What The Edge If Your Seat Was Made For era. With That’s The Spirit reaching out and pulling a new kind of fan base, BMTH has become one of the biggest bands of our time. It’s strange to think that young Oli Sykes who’s clothing brand was one upon a time more popular than his name and music, has now become a figure in today’s scene. Their next installer to, ‘Mantra’ is a gateway between their heavier and lighter tone. A refreshing sense that it’s not fame that drives the boys to change their sound, but progression and genuine evolution of their minds and musical talents.

‘Mantra’ contains heavy riffs and a deep baseline, adherent to a metal-esque beat, but lyrically catchy and gripping, ‘Mantra’ continues on their current journey of growth. It’s an interesting time to follow BMTH, to see where their – we assume, new material will take them. Mantra is now available on Spotify.

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WOVENLUNG release latest track HOLD MY HEART

Hailing from Northamptonshire, metalcore quartet Wovenlung have shared the stage with the likes of American piece Secrets and Australia’s Sienna Skies with their EP Fractured under their belt and pushing their name out into the scene. Recently undergoing a lineup change, the band welcomed a new vocalist, Phil Walker, ready before their brand new release of the single ‘Hold My Heart.’ The track is available on all platforms, progressing the bands sound into a mastered art. ‘Hold My Heart’ features heavy riffs with weighted bass, giving it a pugnacious attitude driving its combative playing style. Full of energy and melodic fluency, Wovenlung have emphasised their instrumental use to bring on overwhelming explosion of noise. The spotlight truly shines upon drummer Billy Robinson, bestowing a weighted ambience to an already substantially bulked tempo.

‘Hold My Heart’ was released today and is now available on all platforms including Spotify and iTunes.

Keep up to date with Wovenlung via Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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Explaining the Nickelback phenomenon – love them or hate them?

Canadian rock band, Nickelback are a love them or hate them band. With over 50 million copies of their music sold worldwide, Nickelback has caused divides for years. Forming in 1995 and releasing a variety of tracks that have reached chart and gold status, the band has – in no shadow of a doubt – created tracks that all of us has had stuck in our heads. Previously labelled as the most successful rock band of the 2000’s decade by Billboard, ‘This Is How You Remind Me’ was listed as the fourth best-selling song of that decade. So, why is this successful rock group one of the most hated bands of our time? It’s become a normal thing to show such distaste for what originally appeared to be one of the most prominent bands of our younger years; it’s moved away from our twelve-year-old selves quoting ‘never made it as a wise man, I couldn’t cut it as a poor man stealing,’ in our MSN names and personal messages to show how edgy we really were. For many people, Nickelback was, and could still be, a gateway into the alternative scene. They were a starting point for many, but as we’ve grown older and wiser and the metaphorical tables have turned and our attitude towards Nickelback have dropped dramatically. If you ask fans why they like Nickelback, a regular answer will be that they’re very lackadaisical about what people think about them, and never take themselves too seriously. We’re about to go down a rabbit hole into why is Nickelback perceived as the worst band of our millennial lifetime?

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Before we go into the reasons why let’s look at the success that Nickelback has achieved during their continuing reign. Firstly, in 2017, Nickelback was rated as the 11th best-selling group of our time, and the second-best selling foreign act in the US behind The Beatles. Selling over 50 million copies of their music worldwide, Nickelback has achieved masses of awards for SOCAN’s International Achievement Awards select years through 2003 and 2008. The Canadian rock group has fallen into different genre’s over the years, which could be one of the reasons why they’ve appealed to many, as well as the reason they have annoyed many. Releasing statements such as “maths made me famous,” Chad Kroegr has earned himself a pretty terrible reputation. The impressive £6.1m income puts Kroegr on a pedestal, and potentially made his ego slightly larger than it should be. In 2017, Kroegr got into a public feud with Slipknot’s lead vocalist, Corey Taylor, claiming Stone Sour was a “Nickelback Lite” and that Taylor’s rooted band, Slipknot was merely a gimmick. Nickelback, for years, has been the easiest target, but Kroegr’s attempt at passing the torment was not received well. Taylor released a statement about Kroegr’s remarks responding with the facts of Taylor’s award as Sexiest Dude in Rock with a mask while Kroegr’s claim to fame is Ugliest Dude in Rock without one. The feud didn’t run deeper than sly comments, but the stunt by Kroegr brought relevancy back to Nickelback as they continued to ride the wave of Feed The Machine in 2016.

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People around the world have rallied against Nickelback, petitioning to have them not play live shows or be apart of a Thanksgiving football game. The petition gained over 55,000 signatures but didn’t deter the band, but ultimately got them booed off after one song. It’s astonishing to know that Nickelback haters are more motivated than their actual fans, with a Portugual show being boycotted by protesters, buying tickets and showing up to the show to throw rocks at them onstage. In 2008, The Guardian voted Kroegr for Douchebag Of The Year Award for reasons being that he is a “self-important drunk driver and propagator of the worst music ever. With bad hair.”

58426a7f14e63It’s not a secret that they’re very much disliked, and one of the biggest reasons being is that they are merely just a bit naff. But, Nickelback does know how to create tracks that are appealing to the masses, and hooks that will get stuck in your head involuntarily. The band has sold millions through a way that has become out of fashion: overexposure. Remember the early days of Kerrang! when every other song would be ‘This Is How You Remind Me’? The video was played so much that most 20-something’s will be able to tell you the video without watching it in years. Many believe that Nickelback rides off the back of prior successful bands, being a copy-of-a-copy of post-grunge drizzled with a splash of Creed-esque self-importance. Recently, Nickelback have taken a few left turns, trying to keep up with the changing times and relevant musical sounds, with their latest releases being on the heavier side and heavily compared to the likes of Trivium. Could it be the constant comparison, the seeming unoriginality of their music that fuels the fire of protestors? In an attempt, Finnish researcher Salli Attonen places it down to authenticity, and that Nickelback isn’t seen as genuine. Reading through music publications through 2000 and 2014, Nickelback has been attacked for its music, leading Attonen to this conclusion, with critics describing that Nickelback songs are ‘optimally safe’ and only being up to par on the genre creating the illusion of heavy rock while the band laugh their way to the bank. A major note, and possibly one of the factors that contributed early on to their growing hatred, is that they like to fall into the grunge genre while being everything grunge is not by commercialising themselves.

Nickelback is too much of everything to be enough of something. They follow genre expectations too well, which is seen as empty imitation, but also not well enough, which is read as commercial tactics and as a lack of a stable and sincere identity.

— Attonen

With their ingenuity regularly questioned, Nickelback likely face many more moons of being on the backlash of the alternative scene’s hatred, but Kroegr has since said that a lot of their success does come down to Nickelback’s protestors. The question may forever be unanswered, but Nickelback will feign on to be the biggest cause of division in our friend groups for a very long time.

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