HUMP DAY!!! ft Knuckle Puck

Today is such a hump day that I didn’t even know it was hump day. Luckily once I made the realization that it is only Wednesday (seriously it’s only Wednesday???) I was able to drown my sorrows in the angsty tunes provided by Illinois pop punkers Knuckle Puck.

Knuckle Puck are a pop punk five-some from the Chicago suburbs and they are absolutely killing the pop punk/alternative scene right now. Since their formation in spring of 2011 they have released three EPs (not including a a split EP with Neck Deep) and toured with big names like Man Overboard, Real Friends, and Neck Deep. Knuckle Puck draw a lot of influence from bands like Saves the Day and Lifetime and cite their hometown homies Real Friends as “not only role models… but as our best friends”.

Their song “No Good” really highlights the things that make them unique from any other band on the scene right now. Knuckle Puck combine their heavy instrumentals and smart lyrics in a way that keeps you coming back for more. I personally have had their 3 1/2 EPs on repeat for a week now and every day I hope for the announcement of a full length record. Until then you can catch these boys wrecking havoc with Senses Fail this fall on the “Let it Enfold You” 10th Anniversary tour. Catch them while you can because I guarantee Knuckle Puck will be a band you’ll regret not seeing by the end of the year!

Weekend at Warped Tour – San Antonio and Dallas

For the last 20 years Kevin Lyman and the Vans Warped Tour have been bringing the best of the general alternative music scene to a city near you. What started as a tour of ska and punk bands has now developed into a showcase of the best in pop punk, alternative rock, metalcore and even hip-hop and electronica. The Vans Warped Tour is a place for young people to pay one price and spend the day in a parking lot watching their favorite bands, buying merch, supporting a cause, meeting like-minded people, and having a good time. On the other side of things, Warped Tour also gives bands a chance to expand their fan base and establish themselves as performers, be it on the rookies Ernie Ball stage or the veterans on one of the two sponsored main stages. Over the years Warped Tour has helped to launch acts such as Fall Out Boy, Paramore, My Chemical Romance, MxPx, Avenged Sevenfold, and Rise Against and continues to help artists to this day. I’ve decided to focus my recap of the weekend on the four bands whose live shows really blew me away, those being State Champs, Neck Deep, Real Friends, and The Story So Far.

 

State Champs are, hands-down, my current favorite band. I featured them a few weeks ago in a hump day post and I was absolutely elated when I got to see and meet them twice in one weekend. They were the first act I saw on Warped Tour this year, in fact I would have missed their set in San Antonio had the stage not been the first one you see upon entering. Even though it wasn’t quite noon yet State Champs came out full force, ready to start the day with their classic pop-punk energy. Watching this band you get the feeling that they are up there doing exactly what they love most, it’s all smiles and laughs and cheers on stage with State Champs. Almost immediately after their set they do a signing at either their tent or the Glamour Kills tent and you get the chance to say hi and get some signatures. Meeting this band was unlike any other band I had met, they are incredibly laid back and down to Earth guys. They’re so casual that it’s almost hard to believe these are the same guys who just killed it on stage not an hour before. We visited their tent numerous times over the weekend and the guys are almost always hanging out there, drinking a beer or talking to fans or both. I loved this band going in to Warped Tour but after seeing how laid back they are my admiration of them only grew. Their music is incredible, their stage presence is awesome, and they’re just cool dudes! You can pick up their debut LP The Finer Things here and catch them on the Journey’s stage on Warped all summer!

Neck Deep is a British band hailing from a small town in North Whales and since being formed in 2012 they have released 2 EP’s, toured numerous continents, signed and released a full length through Hopeless Records and won a Kerrang! award for Best British Newcomer 2014. I realized this weekend that Neck Deep have a very passionate and dedicated following and after seeing them live it’s not hard to see why. Everyone, on stage and in the crowd, is dancing, singing, jumping and generally having a great time. The band is very energetic and personable on stage, it’s as if they’re just as excited to see you there as you are to see them. They even go so far as to point out kids they recognize in the crowd from their past shows, including one girl I met in Dallas who went to all three of the Texas Warped Tour dates and was front and center for all of Neck Deep’s sets. Towards the end of their set they play their immensely popular song “Part of Me” and the smiles on stage when they hear the crowd singing every word are truly priceless. Despite recent rumors, Neck Deep will be playing every date of the entire Warped Tour and I would highly recommend catching their set at the Kevin Says Hard Rock stage. Right after Warped the lads will be touring festivals across the U.K. and Europe and then headlining a tour in Australia with State Champs in the fall, so catch them while you can!

This next band is a self-proclaimed group of “Illinois sad boyz” called Real Friends. I can guarantee that their set is the only place on Warped Tour where you can find a group of bros in a circle pit literally hugging it out during the last song. Real Friends stands out the most to me through their honest and passionate lyrics, penned by bassist Kyle Fasel, who also does spoken word poetry which he posts here. Fasel’s lyrics, when paired with singer Dan Lambton’s incredible vocals, creates something incredibly real which you do not want to miss live. After a few rounds of singing “If you never break / You’ll never know how to put yourself back together” you just might find yourself hugging a few bros in the pit as well. I had the pleasure of meeting these boys at a signing in Dallas and they are all very warm and welcoming, definitely living up to the name Real Friends. The boys are releasing their first ever full-length album July 22, 2014 through Fearless Records and if you’re not already excited about it you should be! In the mean time you can pre-order the album here and catch them on the Journey’s stage on Warped Tour all summer!

My last band, The Story So Far, is the band I knew the least going in to Warped Tour and that is something I deeply regret. TSSF is some classic, angry, pop-punk from Walnut Creek, California and they are awesome. Their crowds at Warped Tour were consistently the largest and most passionate crowds I saw all weekend. I watched TSSF play one of the last sets of the night in San Antonio and one of the first sets of the day in Dallas and they brought killer energy to both shows. These crowds blatantly disregard any warning about crowd surfing or moshing, they’re just out to have a good time, and they definitely succeeded. Unfortunately for me, I was one of those people who only know the chorus of the song, but their live show left me wanting more and they are definitely a band I will see again. The Story So Far just released an acoustic EP called Songs Of which you can get here, and you can find them on the Kia Soul stage at Warped Tour!

 

One moment I keep going back to from this weekend was during Real Friends set in San Antonio. Before the last song Dan Lambton gave a little talk about how much he loved Warped Tour when he was younger, he said that no matter what you wore or what music you were listening to you were still cool because you were there at Warped Tour. He said it taught him a lot about doing things for yourself and what you like and not worrying what other people thought about you. It made me think a lot about how Warped Tour has shaped me through my adolescence and now into young adulthood, the music, the people, and the community surrounding Warped Tour gave me the support I needed to become the individual I am today. I went to my first Warped Tour when I was thirteen with my best friend who is now my oldest friend, I’ve known her for ten years and even if we go months without talking we can pick it up again at the drop of a pin when we need each other. Warped Tour has become more than just a music festival not just for me, but for an entire community who may feel like a misfit but can find themselves in this music. In one weekend I got a chance to see and meet some of my favorite musicians, and I am just as grateful for that experience as I was when I first went seven years ago. So thank you to Kevin Lyman and all the wonderful people who make Warped Tour happen, I already can’t wait for next year.

Hump Day!!! feat. State Champs – Elevated

State Champs are a pop-punk band from Albany, New York founded by members Derek Discanio (vocals) and Tyler Szalkowski (guitar). State Champs are one of a number of bands bringing in a sort of “new wave” of real genuine pop-punk. They draw a lot of influence from bands like New Found Glory and it shows a lot in their style as well as their stage presence. These boys have only just released their first LP in October of 2013 and it’s already clear that they’re going to be a group we’ll be heard from for a while. State Champs recently did their first full U.S. tour opening for We Are The In Crowd and will be featured on the Hard Rock Kevin Says Stage for the entirety of this summers Vans Warped Tour.

I chose their track Elevated for this weeks hump day hitzzz because it’s the perfect amount of loud rock with a catchy tune you can sing along with. Perfect for distracting yourself from anything that might be getting you down this Wednesday.

It’s Hump Day! Bleachers – I Wanna Get Better

 

Hi! Long time no see. I got a little distracted with the transition moving home for the summer but I’m back now! Every Wednesday I’ll be doing a hump day post featuring a song I’ve been jammin’ lately to kind of, ya know, alleviate the hump day blues. This week I’m doing I Wanna Get Better by Bleachers.

Bleachers is formed by Jack Antonoff, former lead singer of Steel Trains and lead guitarist of the band Fun. I Wanna Get Better is the first single Bleachers has released and, I will admit, I did not like the song much when I had first heard it. The first few times I heard the track was when our local alternative radio station was spinning it and eight out of ten times I would change the station when it came on. However after a few times hearing the song all the way through I realized I Wanna Get Better is a TUNE and you can now catch me shamelessly blasting it on repeat in my car with the windows down. The music video is hilarious, the song is catchy and loud and is the perfect remedy for your hump day blues!

Flashback Friday: The Maine

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The Maine are an American rock band hailing from Tempe, Arizona formed in January of 2007. The band consists of (from left to right) John O’Callaghan, Garrett Nickelsen, Jared Monaco, Pat Kirch, and Kennedy Brock. The Maine are, without a doubt, one of the most dynamic bands I have come across, thus making them an easy choice for Flashback Friday.

The first time I saw The Maine was in 2008, they were the first of four acts on a tour consisting of The Cab, Forever the Sickest Kids, and Metro Station. The show was in a relatively small venue in San Antonio called The White Rabbit, tickets were general admission and I went with my best friend who was already a huge fan of The Maine. At the time the only music they had released was a five song EP called The Way We Talk. I knew the album and the band and was excited to see them, but the admiration I held for the band grew marginally after seeing their live performance. The Maine perform with unbridled energy and clear passion for what they do and they have from the start. The standout song of theirs at the time was The Way We Talk, there is one line in particular that goes “sex sells and your sex cells make all the lost boys drool” and my fifteen year old self had never heard something so clever in her young life. Since seeing them in 2008 I saw The Maine again with All Time Low and Mayday Parade in 2009, on Warped Tour in 2010 and on their headlining tour An Evening with The Maine in 2010, and we shall finally be reunited this summer at the 20th annual Warped Tour.

The Maine released their first LP in the summer of 2008 called Can’t Stop Won’t Stop to amazing fan response and two years later they dropped their second LP, Black and White. These first two albums feature songs like I Must Be Dreaming and Listen to Your Heart, and can easily be classified as your typical pop rock album from a pop rock band.

However The Maine’s third full length album, Pioneer, changed everything you thought you knew about a pop-punk band from Arizona. The Maine created this album entirely on their own, no co-writers or major labels, just The Maine. For the first time they had broken away from pop, radio-friendly, rock and were full on alternative rock. The Maine were confident in their sound and self-funded and self-released this album to rave reviews. When you see things like this live performance of Misery it’s hard to believe this is the same band that once wrote lyrics like “she’s fresh to death, she’ll be the death of me”.  This album and seeing the band perform it live, make it easy to see that this is the kind of band The Maine have always wanted to be.

Ahead of the release of their fourth LP, The Maine released a seven-minute documentary about the making of the album that left fans intrigued, to say the least. This album, Forever Halloween, is honestly the entire reason I wanted to write about them today. Forever Halloween was recorded entirely live through analog tape, meaning that the entire band played together in a room all at once, giving the album a very live energy. This energy is then paired is paired with the dark content of the album and together it creates a real sincerity that nobody saw coming. A review of the album on absolutepunk.net points out that the lyrics are written as if “[O’Callaghan] isn’t appealing to teenagers anymore, but rather, the 20-somethings who have grown up with him and the band” and I could not possibly agree more. Forever Halloween is brutally honest and shows a level of growth you would have never expected from this band in 2008. Seeing a band grow dynamically as a real creative being is, simply put, really really cool. I’ve linked one song from the album above but I urge you to listen to the entire album, if you haven’t already, as I really believe the whole is greater than its parts.

Since the release of Forever Halloween, The Maine have released an EP, Imaginary Numbers, and a live concert documentary, An Acoustic Evening with The Maine. They have also helped create a management agency called Eighty One Twenty Three, which works with musicians, photographers, and producers to “develop an artist’s career while working in harmony helping the client see their vision through to the end”.

In their seven years as a band The Maine have developed a tight-knit group of dedicated fans, many of whom are in their late teens/early 20s and have grown up alongside The Maine. The band has even talked about how there are people in the crowd that they’ve come to recognize, as they see them in the same cities every time they come around. My previously mentioned friend who I went to see The Maine with in 2008, has seen them every time they have come to Texas, with the exception of Warped Tour in 2010. She has made friends through the band, has grown up with their music, and will more than likely be a fan of this band for the rest of her life. In my opinion, for a band to be able to ignite passion in listeners while still being true to themselves is the ultimate sign of their success.

 

You can click through the photo at the top to visit The Maine’s website and learn more about what they’re working on lately. Have you ever seen The Maine live? Do you have a thought or experience with The Maine you want to share? Feel free to drop a comment I would love to hear about it!

About Flashback Friday

One thing I’m going to start doing on here is called Flashback Friday. It’s similar to the instagram hashtag except it will be way cooler. The gist of it is that I’m going to highlight a band/song each week that I really loved a few years ago and talk about them and what they were doing then and what they’re up to now. The first one will be up tomorrow so be sure to check it out!

Reaction: Why 5 Seconds of Summer are more important to pop-punk than you think

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For those of you interested in the pop-punk scene, you likely came across the controversial article posted by Alternative Press on May 5 (click picture for article). The author, Matt Crane, introduces the recent fame of 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) as “the elephant in the room”. 5SOS are four Australian teenagers who are rapidly making their way to the top of the charts all over the world. What’s different about these boys is that they are being branded as “pop-punk”, in fact their major label is highlighting the fact that they are not a boy band but simply a band. Before signing to a label the boys garnered attention through their YouTube covers of bands like All Time Low, Mayday Parade, and A Day to Remember, whom they also site as major influences. Despite this, their poppy songs and close ties to One Direction haven’t exactly found them favor in the pop-punk scene. Crane argues that even if you don’t like 5SOS, you have to acknowledge that they hold the potential to bring pop-punk back into the mainstream, in the way that bands like Blink-182 and Good Charlotte once did.

It’s no surprise that making these statements garnered a lot of response from the online community. There are the negative ones, like one FaceBook user who says “anybody who calls that pop punk shouldn’t be writing about music”. Another FaceBook comment says “this isn’t pop punk at all. just because its a bunch of guys playing instruments doesnt make it pop punk. cue boys in skinny jeans and nice hair singing generic girly songs isn’t pop punk, its mainstream bullis**t”. There are others who are totally open to the possibility of pop-punk being back in the mainstream, but are worried about a loss of quality if the music becomes mainstream.

While many of the comments are about the actual topic, being whether or not 5SOS could bring pop-punk back to the mainstream, many many many more are about whether or not 5SOS are even pop-punk. For this topic, I think we need to take it back to the core of what punk is. Punk was created on ideas of anti-establishment, freedom, individualism, free thought, and non-conformity. Punk is bigger than a sound, or a style, it’s about being yourself and doing whatever you want and caring less about what people think about it. Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump said it best when he tweeted “Putting boundaries on how punk should sound/look is the least punk rock thing one can do. Be yourself=Very punk.” Any peek into the private lives of the 5SOS boys (and they give us a lot of them) can show them doing things like playing on stage in Will Smith masks, reenacting the lion king, and announcing singles with their pants down and sombreros over their crotch. It is safe to say that nothing has changed about these boys since they came into their fame, they are entirely themselves and I would definitely say that’s pretty punk rock of them.

Of course beyond the appearance there is the question of the music. Many comments included the fact that all of their music is extremely poppy and mainstream, thus making them not pop-punk. What many people don’t consider is that 5SOS have yet to release a debut album. Everything they have released so far is some version of a single with a few extra tracks to go with it. Many of the songs the boys include in their live set are songs that have never been released, and may have never even been recorded. It is hard to say that a band isn’t poppy when they’ve released almost nothing but singles. Singles are typically the most radio friendly track on an album and would definitely be more pop than punk.

Back to the original question, does 5SOS have the capacity to bring pop-punk to the mainstream? I would say absolutely, yes. Despite what internet critics say, this band is not pop. They don’t want to be like anyone else, they don’t want to be the second One Direction, they want to be the first 5 Seconds of Summer and they are working hard to get there. Their songs are catchy and have a meaning beyond “lets get drunk and hookup” which is something the mainstream has been lacking and that the public is craving. The band has captured the attention and support of people like Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens and I think they also recognize the potential this band holds. I think 5 Seconds of Summer has a lot of success ahead of them and I’m excited to see what they can bring to the scene as well.

What do you think? Are 5SOS pop or punk? Are they really capable of changing pop-punk? Leave a comment or find me on Twitter! @okayallie

Hello

Hiiii I’m Allie and this is my music blog! I’m a 21 year old English major from Texas and I listen to a lot of music. I found my roots in music the way most young women my age did, through groups like N*sync and Destiny’s Child. I spent many of my early years trying to drown out my parents playing Nirvana, Cake, Spoon, Beastie Boys, Bob Marley and the like with my mind numbing pop music. Somewhere around the wonderful age of 12 I discovered The Killers and I thought, maybe there is something beyond the top 40 scene.

From there my music taste has grown beyond pop music to basically anything that can make me feel good. Over the years I have found myself through music in general and its become something I couldn’t live without.  It occurred to me one day that I spend the majority of my time listening to music, reading music articles, watching live performances or interviews and I created this blog in an attempt to put this knowledge to use! I listen to a little bit of everything but genre wise on this blog you can expect to see pop, pop punk/rock, alternative, rock, and rap.

I’ve never truly had a blog before but I’m excited to start creating and sharing about something I’m very passionate about. I have a lot planned and I hope you enjoy it! Here’s a short list of some of my favorite artists right now:

  • all time low
  • the 1975
  • bastille
  • the neighbourhood
  • new politics
  • chance the rapper
  • 5 seconds of summer
  • twenty one pilots
  • earl sweatshirt
  • man overboard