So while going through bands I wanted to share about, I realized that I had yet to write a post about one of my favorite bands of all time. Taking Back Sunday – one of the first few bands that molded my music tastes to what it is right now. Without any hesitation, I can name my favorite song off each album and probably recite the lyrics to half of their discography. These guys have been monumental in influencing my music. Sure, I’m not as creative as Fred/John/Matt/Eddie when it comes to guitar but I try (haha). Their heart on sleeve lyrics were what sold me to this band, as well as their signature dual-vocals. Think Les Miserables with electric guitars. They’ve also inspired countless handles and blog titles worldwide. Teenage poetry for sure.
Spitalfield is another one of my favorite pop punk bands I have on rotation. I discovered these guys when I heard the song ‘I Loved The Way She Said “L.A.”’ on a Victory Records sampler that I got with my Taking Back Sunday – Where You Want To Be CD. Yeah there was a time when I still purchased CDs. The sampler was full of gems that I had never heard before and grew to love – Hawthorne Heights, Bayside and these guys.
Spitalfield – I Loved The Way She Said ‘L.A.’
The song had relatable title and lyrics, which drew me into them. You know the feeling you get when you listen to a song and you think that it was written just for you? Yeah, that was me listening to that song. Of course I had to check out the rest of their discography, and predictably I fell in love with the band. Positive lyrics, upbeat music, and just enough gruff that made them more punk than pop and one of the smoothest vocalists in the scene.
Mark Rose, the band’s vocalist, had a soft singing style that wasn’t aggressive in the slightest. But it somehow fit over the band’s pop punk guitars, creating a mellow, easy listening experience. It’s much more evident in his solo records that his voice was meant for pop/blues, but with the band the combination was a unique combination.
The band eventually split up after their last release and Rose went on to release music on his own, as well as creating a songwriting service. I’m still looking forward till the day the band reunites (if it ever happens) but for now, here are some of my favorite tracks from the band and Mark Rose:
Spitalfield – Five Days And Counting
Spitalfield – Make My Heart Attack
Spitalfield – What Were You Thinking?
Spitalfield – The Future is Now
Spitalfield – From The Desk Of B. Larsen
Spitalfield – The Only Thing That Matters
Spitalfield – Won’t Back Down
Spitalfield – Novocaine
Spitalfield – 16:49 Army Time
Spitalfield – Are We Still Here?
Mark Rose – I Can See You (With My Eyes Closed)
Mark Rose – Watch The Water Dry
Mark Rose – She Doesn’t
Ever since I’ve been introduced to it, pop punk music has been my music staple for many years. Even now, as a grown ass man, when a good pop punk song comes on, I’m reminded of why I used to listen to it obsessively. So it’s no surprise that a lot of bands I’m writing about on my blog are from the genre. While I don’t listen to every pop punk band I used to listen to, there’s one band that has consistently rotated in and out of my playlist: The Starting Line.
This morning I woke up with Chickenrace – Heartbeat in my head which was a first for me. Generally I don’t listen to a lot of Japanese music, only a handful of bands due to my limited (none) knowledge of the language. This song was introduced to me by Jason who
heard it in the opening of an animation discovered them on Youtube. It had everything we loved – catchy synths, chunky bass lines and head-bopping melodies. I didn’t understand a single word of it besides the “every night” and “anyway” in the chorus but it didn’t matter. It showed me that Japanese bands were capable of coming up with tunes that were just as catchy as their western counterparts.
It wasn’t long until we found their discography and listened to all their music. Since I can’t really talk about the content of the lyrics (I haven’t bothered looking up what their songs mean), I listen to them for their vocal melodies and funky guitar riffs – I’ve yet to come across a band that does pop punk funk as well as these guys. Then again, it’s probably quite a niche genre? I don’t know, I haven’t done any searching. I can’t seem to find a lot of information about them online besides a now defunct Purevolume page. Youtube also has a very limited selection of Chickenrace songs so I can’t link all my favorites, but here’s what I’ve managed to find:
Chickenrace – Farewell
Chickenrace – Heartbeat
Chickenrace – Story Of My Life
Chickenrace – ???
Chickenrace – I Want You Back (cover)
Chickenrace – Sunshine Underground
I’ve been on a rap documentary watching spree recently, it started off with me watching All Eyez On Me – a biopic about 2Pac’s life. It led me down a Googling spree, looking for more information about the unsolved murders of 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. I then watched Biggie and Tupac (2002) and Who Shot Biggie and Tupac? (2017). It’s amazing how these murders have remained officially unsolved since they were both huge celebrities and were involved in high-profile killings.
Both rappers also had huge entourages, so there were bound to be witnesses or people who know what really went on. However, according to the documentaries, nobody wants to come forward because nobody wants to be a snitch. Fair enough, since snitches get stitches but it also seems so childish at the same time. If you can rap about shooting up cats and doing drugs, why not come forward with information?
I discovered Hit The Lights many years ago when I was getting into pop punk and their album This Is A Stickup…Don’t Make It A Murder was a random album I decided to check out while scouring the internet for music to listen to (RIP emotorrents). From the opening notes of The Call Out to the closing chants of the acoustic hidden track, I knew I had stumbled upon a gem of a band.
They had everything I enjoyed in a pop punk band – clever lyrics, palm-mute verses, guitar chugs and catchy choruses. The fact that they also featured Just Surrender’s vocalist (one of my favorite bands then) on Talk Us Down was just icing on the cake. The album didn’t have a single bad song and was worth listening on repeat for months (I still put it on from time to time when I want something upbeat and fun).
Hit The Lights – Talk Us Down
While going through my blog history to see which bands I’ve yet to cover, I was surprised to find that Emery was one of them. I discovered them back in college when a friend let me listen to a song called ‘Walls’. Their defining song, and still one of their best songs to date (you cannot not head bang to that sick intro and bridge!).
Emery – Walls
Panic At The Disco, one of those bands that I fell out of love with after their earlier material and now have grown to love again. It was a magical beginning when I first heard about the band. They were being described as Fall Out Boy with synths. I didn’t know what to expect, torrented their debut ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’ and was blown away. I kept that CD spinning in my car for months!
Panic! At The Disco – Time To Dance
Dance Gavin Dance. If anyone asked me for a band to check out today, I’d recommend these guys in a heartbeat – unless that person hated heavy music, even then I’d still try my luck anyway. To be honest, it wasn’t until late last year that I got into these guys. Quick history – I heard about Dance Gavin Dance many years ago when they still had Jonny Craig on vocals. However, I wasn’t really into their music at that time so I ignored them until a few years ago when Tilian Pearson (their current singer) was rumored to join Saosin. Since I was a huge Saosin fan and was curious about who was going to fill Cove Reber’s shoes, I decided to check him out.
A bit late but I finally hopped on the Chvrches bandwagon. Holy shit, how good is this band? I know they had some catchy tunes a while ago but I never bothered listening to the rest of their discography. It was only after a Song Exploder episode where they broke down Clearest Blue I decided to listen to the rest of their songs. And man, I was blown away. I don’t have much to say other than this band has some of the catchiest synth pop beats and melodies I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.
Dark, moody, atmospheric and at times uplifting, energetic without being over the top. Also, some of their songs would fit in a Hotline Miami soundtrack (Lies anyone?). They’re also currently working on their third album which I’m looking forward to. In the meantime, feast your ears on these tracks:
Chvrches – Clearest Blue
Chvrches – The Mother We Share
Chvrches – Recover
Chvrches – Empty Threat
Chvrches – Playing Dead
Chvrches – NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert