The Thursday Ten: 11/15/16

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For those who visit Erik’s Album Reviews regularly, you will know that the staff has been very busy for the last two weeks.  Because of this we unfortunately missed the last two “The Thursday Ten” segments.  However, last week we announced that in order to make up for this lack of album ratings, we will give 20 album ratings for this week’s installment rather than the usual 10!  This week’s post features various releases over multiple genres covering everything from Black Metal to EDM.  Even though twice as many releases are feature in this installment, the rules to “The Thursday Ten” haven’t changed, and of course, we encourage you to check out every album listed on any of the major music streaming platforms.  Let us know what you think of the ratings, which albums you want us to rate next, and don’t forget to check out the previous installment to “The Thursday Ten”.  Here is this week’s post:

  1. Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom EP: 8/10
  2. The Acacia Strain, Thy Art Is Murder, and Fit For An Autopsy – The Depression Sessions: 9/10
  3. Power Trip/Integrity Split EP: 7/10
  4. Dan Mason – Summer Love: 7/10
  5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool: 7/10
  6. Aborted – Termination Redux EP: 8/10
  7. Lamb of God – The Duke EP: 7/10
  8. Jason Richardson – I: 8/10
  9. bl00dwave – Distance: 8/10
  10. Defeater – Abandoned: 8/10

 

  1. Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine: 8/10
  2. Blink-182 – California: 8/10
  3. Balance and Composure – Light We Made: 8/10
  4. Moose Blood – Blush: 8/10
  5. Wakrat – Wakrat: 4/10
  6. Tesseract – Polaris: 7/10
  7. A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations: 6/10
  8. Adventure Club – Red // Blue: 5/10
  9. PZA – AMERICAN RITUALS: 9/10
  10. Vaerbitt – Tid: 9/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/the-thursday-ten-112416/

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The Thursday Ten: 11/3/16

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Last week saw an extreme lack of content, and as a result, the week of 10/23-10/29 was the first week without a “The Thursday Ten” post since the segment was first announced.  However, we are back this week with the latest “The Thursday Ten”.  For those of you who read the last installment to the segment, you will remember that the ratings for the 10 records mentioned all received scores within the range of 7/10-9/10.  Even though these ratings are a representation of my honest opinion of the albums, I understand that the ratings from the previous post might seem inflated, and that an average reader might think that almost every album receives around an 8/10.  In order to disprove this assumption, I decided to rate some albums that were released this year that I was not very fond of, in order to show a more broad spectrum of where certain records may fall on the rating system for “The Thursday Ten”.  The rules for giving these ratings have not changed and each album mentioned can be listened to on any major streaming service, and I highly encourage you to give them a listen!  Also, the previous “The Thursday Ten” is posted below and of course, if you disagree with any rating or want to submit a record to be rated, let us know in the comments or shot us an email!  Here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”:

  1. Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty: 8/10
  2. D.R.A.M. – Big Baby D.R.A.M.: 5/10
  3. The Word Alive – Dark Matter: 5/10
  4. Chelsea Grin – Self Inflicted: 5/10
  5. River Oaks – River Oaks – EP: 6/10
  6. Desiigner – New English: 7/10
  7. I Prevail – Lifelines: 7/10
  8. AlunaGeorge – I Remember: 4/10
  9. Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues: 6/10
  10. Drake (singles) – Fake Love: 6/10 – Sneakin’ (feat. 21 Savage): 7/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/the-thursday-ten-102016/

Album Review: AMERICAN FOOTBALL American Football (LP 2)

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Today, legendary emo/indie rock band, American Football, released their sophomore full length record titled, “American Football (LP 2)”.  This second full length album by the group is their first release in 17 years and is one of the most anticipated albums of 2016.  American Football, who got their start in 1997 in an Illinois college town, have become one of the most influential and significant bands in the emo and indie rock genres.  Despite the fact that their career as a band before their 2014 reunion was extremely brief, they were still able to leave their mark on these genres and have inspired numerous artists to write some amazing records in the process.  American Football is a group that I personally think highly of and I have been looking forward to this record since it was announced earlier this year.  Even though the lineup itself hasn’t changed, the near two decades between the monumental “American Football” and the long-awaited “American Football (LP 2)” has caused the members as individuals to change significantly, and this personal change directly shows in this project.

Despite the massive gap between records, “American Football (LP 2)” features numerous similarities to its predecessor.  One of the most obvious examples of this is the visual theme and aesthetic that American Football is known for.  For example, the font and style of text for the band name and title of the record is exactly the same.  The iconic spelling of “americ anfootball” in the top right section of the album artwork in the clean, white font hasn’t changed at all since 1999.  Also, both releases feature 9 individual tracks and on each record the album artworks are pictures of the same house from different parts of the home.  On the 1999 release, the image is of the house at dusk from the outside of the building (which is seen below), is different from the 2016 release, which shows an image of a hallway during midday, leading to what appears to be the front door of the house.  Along with having visual similarities, there are also music related aspects that can be heard on both full length albums.  Things like distinctive and memorable trumpet parts and complex, calm-sounding, familiar peaceful songwriting elements are not absent from either release and are solidified as consistent features in American Football projects.

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On the other hand, there are a ton of prominent differences between these records that an American Football fan would clearly notice.  One of the most obvious changes is how the vocals were mixed.  On the first “American Football”, the vocal tracks were a lot more quiet and were virtually in the background behind instrumental tracks.  Now on LP 2, these vocal sections are mixed at a higher quality and brought to the forefront of the track, which is an extremely common way of recording vocals.  This might negatively affect a fan’s opinion of this record, but personally I believe this ends up strengthening the album as a whole.  Mike Kinsella’s vocal style, and even the pitch in his voice, has seen a drastic change since 1999 as well, and this change in production helps emphasize this.  In fact, the higher pitched vocals heard on “American Football” are now replaced by a more calm, deeper voice that in my opinion is a better fit for the group’s sound.  The more mature, emotion filled vocal melodies truly empower the message behind every song, and the lyricism, which depicts multiple troubling times in Mike’s life, appear to sound more heartfelt than the vocal delivery heard on the band’s first album.  As stated before in the “Track of the Day Tuesday” blog, which appeared on this site earlier this month and is also attached below, this sad yet happy, and somber yet peaceful style of singing is one of the highlights to this new American Football release.  To further describe this change, the lyrical themes have also grown and matured with this latest record by the Illinois group.  The personal, relationship based problems Mike discusses in the 1999 release have now been replaced by what appears to be more pressing issues, like talking to someone who’s close to him out of committing suicide, which is heard on “Give Me The Gun”, and different struggles and problems he and his family have dealt with.  This change and variation in lyrical themes perfectly fits the vocal style and songwriting, and even surpasses what has previously been heard on American Football releases, by including elements that could not have possibly existed in the late 90s, due to the fact that these events and this change in vocal pitch simply did not occur yet.

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/track-of-the-day-tuesday-american-football-ive-been-so-lost-for-so-long/

In addition to vocal changes heard, there are also changes in production that are distinctively heard on “American Football (LP 2)”.  The recordings appear to have less of a near Lo-Fi sound and more of a normal, high quality recording style.  While this might disappoint some fans, I believe it makes the band sound more precise as a unit by showcasing that their playing style is a lot tighter since 1999.  Especially when dealing with polar opposite lead and rhythm sections, that sometimes include weird time signatures, this high quality recording allows American Football to prove how their musicianship both as individuals and as one unit has grown.  In fact, the only complaint I have is that at some points, this unique calm sounding recording style lacks a little emphasis for more prominent parts.  This can be heard on the first self titled record, especially if you focus on percussion parts, and if this aspect found its way onto “American Football (LP 2)”, then the production would be absolutely stellar and far ahead of the first “American Football”.

In summation, this is my favorite, and the greatest, American Football release.  I give it a 9.3/10 and highly suggest any fan of either American Football or Indie rock and emo to give it a listen.  The growth and maturity over the years, despite being nearly two decades of growth, truly paid off and helped create another beautiful American Football album.  Make sure to BUY your copy today and listen to the full stream of “American Football (LP 2)” below!

Breaking News: Knuckle Puck Release New Music Video For “Evergreen”

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Apparently The Story So Far weren’t the only pop punk titans to release a new music video in the last 24 hours.  Chicago’s own, Knuckle Puck, also released a new music video for the track “Evergreen” off of 2015’s “Copacetic”.  Knuckle Puck, who has seen a massive increase in their fan base since 2013, released “Copacetic” as their debut full length album through Rise Records.  This record is a must have for any pop punk fan and helps solidify Knuckle Puck’s position as one of the best modern pop punk bands.  The track “Evergreen”, which features Dan Lambton of Real Friends, is one of my favorite songs off “Copacetic” so I was pretty thrilled to see the release of this new music video.

“Evergreen’s” music video features a female character walking through the woods passed multiple computers and other monitors that are showing different scenes and shots of Knuckle Puck themselves performing the track in what appears to be an empty room.  This is a really cool concept for a music video and is actually pretty entertaining to watch.  If you want to check out the music video yourself it is posted below and be sure to give the rest of “Copacetic” a listen!

Breaking News: The Story So Far Release New Music Video For “Nerve”

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Today I’ve written a bunch of posts about extremely heavy metal bands, so in order to lighten things up, here is the latest music video to be released by the Bay Area based pop punk band, The Story So Far.  The Story So Far has been, and always will be, my favorite pop punk band, and their 2015 self-titled release is the latest installment to their monumental discography.  Yesterday, the group released another music video for a track off their latest album.  The music video was for the first single they released off “The Story So Far”, called “Nerve”, and is pretty much a collection of multiple shots from a show the band played and shows just how electric their performances can be.  I’m speculating that The Story So Far will have another release for their fans in 2017, but for now give “The Story So Far” and their older material a listen and check out the new music video for “Nerve” from the greatest pop punk band of all time!

Track of the Day Tuesday: AMERICAN FOOTBALL I’ve Been So Lost For So Long

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This week the track of the day is by the Illinois based rock band, American Football.  Releasing their self titled masterpiece in 1999, American Football has solidified themselves as one of the most influential and inspiring bands for indie rock and pop punk.  Since that release, the group took a 15 year break only to reunite in 2014 for some live performances and reissues of their classic discography.  Now, on October 21st, American Football will be releasing their second album, “American Football (LP 2)”, after a 17 year wait.  “I’ve Been Lost For So Long” is the first single to be released in this near two decade gap and already hints that the classic rock band will easily surpass expectations for their upcoming release.

When you listen to this song it’s obvious that the band has grown over the years, regardless if you were aware of their significant gap between releases.  The songwriting, and of course the vocals themselves, sound more mature and are a musical representation of running into an old friend for the first time in years.  You can hear how the years since 1999 have had an impact on members, but the familiar sound is still present from when we last heard from them.  I actually like this sound a little more than the one heard on their debut LP so far, mostly because I believe the deeper, emotion filled vocals and the more advanced songwriting style exemplify the more wise, yet even sadder sound that embodies this single.  The vocals especially are sad yet happy, somber yet peaceful, depressing yet uplifting, and make listening to this new track a truly memorable experience.

You absolutely need to check out this new American Football song, regardless of your opinion of them.  Also be sure to check in later this month for an album review of the upcoming album, “American Football (LP 2)”, and check out the first single, “I’ve Been So Lost For So Long”, below!