[REVIEW] NEW JUNK CITY release new album SAME PLACES

promoaccessory_734633With every year, our lives change dramatically, with late nights out swapped for Netflix and cups of tea while we wonder what the hell happened to me? The latest installment to the New Junk City discography explores the idea in Same Places. Atlanta based quartet made their stepping stone breakthrough with their 2014’s Self Titled Effort LP continues into Same Places with use of high energy and intensity throughout, all the while tackling the crushing realisation that we are getting older. Released through Real Ghost Records, Same Places has nine tracks, all fluently mixing together to create a piece that truly is an experience to say the least.

Tailored between folk, punk and pop sound unique to New Junk City, Same Places kicks off very promising with ‘Useless Friends’ that has charisma and character for it’s mismatched genres. Captivating in nature, it has an addictive style of catchy hooks and lyrics that’s completely mesmerizing. ‘High In The Morning’ continues that high-energy, highlighting the talent for harmonic guitar riffs in crisp production. Same Places is unrelenting in capability to perform and execute it’s plethora of talent. ‘Half Life’ has it’s spotlight directly shining upon cadenced drumming that pulls the song together ricocheting a weighted bass that adds depth to it’s octave guitar.

While the magnitude of instruments is fluent throughout the track, a noted aspect is the tone of vocals that pulls the music in different directions. Sharing similarities to The Gaslight Anthem with it’s vocal range, ‘Stay Asleep’ takes a more relaxed feel due to the softer vocals harmonizing in tune to the chords of the track, explored fully in ‘In Our Blood’ what effects that the slower vocals can really do to their sound. The energy of the track certainly derives from the use of drums, whereas ‘Losing Side’ is tracked solely by it’s bass. It takes an almost horror like feel, with this heavy, claustrophobic bass repeating throughout the track. There are tracks on Same Places that truly defines New Junk City proving that their progression, passion and hard-work is pays off incredibly with the pure success of sound that Same Places has produced.

If you’re a fan of Creeper, The Gaslight Anthem or The Mezingers then New Junk City will fit perfectly into your collection of music, holding onto a vintage sound of punk with modern twists that pushes it into mainstream listening. With plans of an EU/UK tour, NJC should take the scene by storm supported fully by those who have given this album a listen. While the album contains a whole, full length nine tracks, it feels almost too short, and only a taster of what we can expect from this band. ‘Coffee Mug’ hints at other similarities, feeling almost incomplete as we salivate for more from this stand-out track and what we could be receiving. (Spoiler, it’s a modern The Offspring and we sure as hell want that.)

Same Places is available now on streaming services and to order from their BandCamp. Be sure to connect with the band via Facebook and Twitter for updates regarding their EU/UK visits.

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[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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STATE CHAMPS ‘Living Proof’ review.

written by Bethany Clancy, NY.

In the middle of June, the real start of summer solstice, Albany based pop-punk band State Champs added to the beginning of excitement by releasing their third full length album, Living Proof, via Pure Noise Records.

Living Proof goes to show how much State Champs has grown as a band over the years. They toned down their heavier punk sound that shined through on “Apparently, I’m Nothing” one of the bands earlier EP’s, but doesn’t lose grip of the pop punk roots that shine through on “The Finer Things.” The album thoroughly keeps momentum throughout its runtime, playing into high energy and lyrically fascinating, Living Proof marks a new territory for the band moving forward.

Lead single “Dead And Gone,” co-written by Blink 182 bassist, Mark Hoppus, changed the course of action for Living Proof. While State Champs were in John Feldmann’s studio, Mark Hoppus happened to pop in on a day they were working, collaborating together through the production of Living Proof. “We had no idea he was even coming in,” says frontman Derek DiScanio (via Kerrang). “Then the next day, me and Mark Hoppus are just sitting out by John Feldmann’s pool writing lyrics from scratch. And that ultimately ended up being ‘Dead And Gone’, which is the first single on the record.”

Most bands in this scene have a tendency to focus on either the pop or the punk half of the genre-State Champs perfectly encapsulates an even mix of pop-punk on this latest release. They make sure to incorporate the album title into songs like “Cut Through The Static” as they have done with their two previous albums. Whether you’re experiencing a break-up, reconnecting, or just in that “I don’t know what to do with my life” stage, Living Proof has a song that will help with all of those uncertain situations.

This release is full of what State Champs does best: great build ups leading to choruses, catchy lyrics, and fast-paced summer songs to drive around to.

pop punk

A Look Into REAL FRIENDS fourth album, COMPOSURE.

American pop-punk band, Real Friends released their highly-anticipated and long-awaited fourth studio album, Composure this week on Friday 13th. What could be considered an insight into the personal journey undergone by lead vocalist, Dan Lambton who has openly suffered from anxiety along with bipolar disorder, Composure is a representative and advocate of mental health in it’s entirety. Releasing tracks such as ‘From The Outside’, ‘Smiling On The Surface’ and ‘Get By’ prior to release, since its earliest announcement, Composure is an album moving forward from their previously intense melancholic sounds.

While still raw in emotion, Composure focuses more on the individual experience coming to realisations of worth. It’s a notion of moving forward, understanding the past and learning to live with our own struggles. The contrast between Composure‘s attitude and its predecessors is monumental. Real Friends have completely taken their pop-punk label and mastered it, using melodies to drive tracks fluently and catchy choruses to drive their point home. A major track from the album is their previously released ‘From The Outside’ with it’s infectious lyrical and instrumental tones. It’s a track that really brings home the personal journey aspect of mental health, and particularly into the bands.

Dan Lambton has bravely and openly cancelled live performances, with this years UK Slam Dunk being one of them, due to his struggles with mental health. Composure is an album that really makes its listeners understand his views and struggles, and in turn, breaking the stigma of mental health as a whole. The exhaustion of acting happy is a common issue of mental health that can make it worse, bringing bigger downs, and Composure is a stepping stone in the right direction saying “it’s okay to talk about how you feel.”

A striking and emotional statement, Composure consists of different elements, such as intrusive thought processes, the effects that others can have, but ultimately the promotion and importance of self-care. If there’s one thing that Real Friends have achieved during their quick rise to one of the most popular bands within the scene, is to look after yourself, and Composure is the album that drives that point home.

All in all, Composure is more than just an album, but its an educational look into the effects that mental health can really affect victims. Using their growing platform for the greater good, Real Friends are making more than just headway on their career within the industry, but also on their largely relevant view that leads to conversation.

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THIS TIME LAST YEAR released WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? over the weekend

On Friday, upcoming U.K favourites, This Time Last Year released their latest single, ‘Where Did The Time Go?’ featuring Jonny Gill from Lyon Estates.

TTLY recently won the competition to play the Rocksound Breakout Stage at Slam Dunk North and rightly so, the band has progressed massively since their initial EP and continue to drop pieces of infectious, upbeat music that truly stick in your head. ‘Where Did The Time Go?’ delves into slightly heavier territory, with hard drumming and deep bass complimented by melodic guitar riffs and vocally distinctive. TTLY continue to explore their talents, in the meantime becoming a much-loved band within the U.K scene.

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FIGHT FOR FRIDAY INTERVIEW & SOMEONE YOU COULD TRUST

 

Pop punk outfit, Fight For Friday from Manchester released their EP Someone You Could Trust last month that’s been circulating the scene and garnering interest. Since release, Fight For Friday has been riding the waves of the momentum of their recent release and solidifying their stance in the UK pop-punk scene. Prior to release, vocalist Seb spoke about the title by revealing “it is relevant to the context of the EP and the message we are trying to portray; the effect that other people have on someone’s happiness, health and life experience.”

Someone You Could Trust is an overall brilliant EP, varying in tones and proving the potential that Fight For Friday has for becoming the next big thing. With influences such as The Wonder Years, Modern Baseball and A Day To Remember, the mixed bag of talent makes this EP unique in its genre. As the band moves forth and continues to develop their individual skill since their initial formation in 2014, Fight For Friday vocalist Seb and drummer Matt joins us to speak about their music, experience and the post-success of Someone You Could Trust.

“We’re super stoked at the moment with everything we’ve got going on with the release and upcoming ventures,” they start. “We formed way back in school. It was pretty much started out as an extracurricular thing and just grew from there. I met Lloyd from drama club about 5 years before the band formed and joined two years after,” Seb reveals. The growth in Fight For Fridays music is exceptional, since their initial release of Call Me Old Fashioned in 2016, the band have honed into their sound whilst all the while staying true to their pop-punk sound. “We grew up on Blink, Green Day and Sum 41,” they start. “they were a definite drive for us. As we’ve been exposed to more bands we definitely take inspiration from Seaway, ROAM and New Found Glory nowadays.” With the luxury of the UK pop-punk scene exploding with all kinds of talents and sounds, Fight For Friday are in the run to be one of the best rising bands to hit our shores. “We started out at school playing pretty basic punk tunes, as we’ve grown older we’ve been exposed to some of the amazing modern pop-punk bands around and have been drawn to that vibe. The latest release we have out is more towards a sound We’re finally happy with after being a band for 4 years so it’s exciting times ahead.”

Melodic in nature, the first track ‘Life Hits You Hard’ brings the life of Fight For Friday out in force with combative and emphasised drumming ricocheting from each instrument adding that early 00’s pop-punk vintage sound. It’s an EP of varied talents, as it moves into ‘I Feel Bad, But You Should Feel Worse’ as the guys’ mix in a heavier tone to their perky sound. Tying together with a low bass, the track fluctuates between sounds of heavy breakdowns and catchy bridges. ‘Take It Or Leave It’ is a firm favourite, accentuating their talents for melodic guitar riffs giving the track an overall upbeat feeling. Throughout the EP, a major appeal is the distinctive vocals of lead singer, Seb Harper with the ability to adapt to each direction the tone takes. For an example, the fourth track ‘Target Practise’ is a little lower in pitch and highlights the sound of the bass with an elision. Featuring staggered intros throughout the EP, ‘Headache’ is by the far the track that does it best. Giving each instrument the opportunity to bring the song into this epic saga of events as they build, the track takes a lighter approach. It’s the track that brings their influences into the focal point, lyrically and instrumentally.

Someone You Could Trust was released last month, with their lead single ‘Headache’ taking the win as their most played track. Melancholic in sound, ‘Headache’ highlights the chemistry and fluency of the band instrumentally, topped with soft vocals that tie the track into brilliance. “We wrote ‘Headache’ just after the death of Chester Bennington. It’s not directly related to him but the news of it made me think about feelings such as depression and how other people can see one thing but you can be feeling the complete opposite.” Another example of Fight For Friday’s sensitive topic choice is ‘Target Practise.’ “Both songs [Target Practise and Headache] talk about the effect that other people’s actions can have on you and how you’ve got to rise above negative people to move forward.”

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