Weekly Roundup: The Catch Up Edition Pt. II
The Wonder Years - Sister Cities
RIYL: Man Overboard, Moose Blood, Fireworks
There has always been an element of the plucky upstart in The Wonder Year’s branding, but as the band releases their seventh full length release, that plucky upstart has turned into one of the titans of the pop punk genre, molding and shaping the modern era of pop punk in their own image simply by leading by example. They have patented quiet desperation and sing it, oxymoronicaly at the top of their lungs. Sister Cities is no different, though it continues a profound maturity that has insidiously crept into their sound like the inexorable march of years. While Sister Cities isn’t as immediately, arrestingly catch as their last effort, No Closer to Heaven, it is easily their most varied and dynamic record yet—full of impressive twists and turns of pacing and tempo—and, I suspect, serious grower.
Underøath - Erase Me
RIYL: Bring Me the Horizon, sleepwave, Asking Alexandria
Erase Me is a difficult beast. immediately one noticed the change in sound as a jarring thing, but as you settle into the record you realize that despite the number of years between this and Disambiguation, this is indeed the logical next step for Underøath. It’s certainly poppier, and a bit strange to hear a band who always made difficult, challenging choices on their records (famously, before now, eschewing the softening trend of most extreme music bands, especially those who garner a modicum of success) to seemingly about-face I’m away that puts them so close to the usurpers to their heavy screamo throne—Bring Me the Horizon. It does, however, make perfect sense given lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain’s heavy alternative project Sleepwave and drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie’s many years fronting the Almost. And furthermore the returning band’s desire to shrug off the confines of the self made mantle they’ve formed over all these years is well documented. Erase Me does all that—placing the band squarely in that same heavy alternative genre, only with occasional vague gestures to their screamo/metalcore roots. It’s sounds a bit like the updated version of the Matrix soundtrack at points, heavy Nine Inch Nails at others, but never losing the tethering feeling of being an Underøath record. While I’m sorry to see some of their more challenging, angular tendencies sanded over, it’s nice to have the band back and sounding like they are legitimately enjoying themselves.
Flatbush Zombies - Vacation in Hell
RIYL: Vince Staples, Joey Bada$$, Denzel Curry
As a contender for most fun hip hop record of 2018, Vacation in Hell makes a strong case. A rollicking mixture of classic Tribe Called Quest vibes with new school blood, Flatbush Zombies manage to create a more than successful update to a classic team-attack hip hop sound. Few records can leave you grinning ear to ear at one point, pivot, leave you marveling at clever wordplay, pivot again, and leave you mulling over the state of the world.
True Love - The Pact
RIYL: Have Heart, Judiciary, Break Away
True Love are awesome simply by don’t of standing out from the hardcore pack of the moment, choosing to harken back to the early 00’s New England surge of hardcore like Have Heart, American Nightmare, and others. It’s sound that was absolutely vital for the progression of the genre, but a sound that’s fallen by the wayside as NYHC and the Baltimore scene’s profiles have been in ascendant of late. The Pact makes it feel as if those days never went away, which has both its pluses and minuses. On the plus side it’s a strong, unique sound that has an equally strong tradition, but at he same time relies on a lot of nostalgia. It’s a strong release, and one that stands out from the current scene, but I’m not sure it fights hard enough for its own identity.
The Fever 333 - Made An America
RIYL: ‘68, Rage Against the Machine, letlive.
I must fess up to having made a mistake. When Mr. Jason Allen’s new project debuted, I wasn’t enthused by what I heard, but with a bevy of songs all together, the sheer impressiveness of this project revealed itself to me. The Fever 333 is a razor-sharp vocal showcase of rage for Mr. Allen—one perhaps even better than his previous band in terms of showing off his performance prowess. Backed by alumni from Thr Chariot, Night Verses, and Travis Barker, The Fever 333 is a vicious, David animal unleashed and I can’t wait to catch them at every appearance nearby.