Big Stories

Friday Discussion: The Most Iconic Music Videos

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 21, 2013

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Music videos tend to matter less and less over time, but we all still have our go-to favorites. Whether it was on MTV, VH1, a band’s terrible 2003 website, or YouTube, music videos used to (and sometimes still do) entertain us to no end. We thought it’d be a great idea to do a new PropertyOfZack Friday Discussion on The Most Iconic Music Videos from our general scene over the past few decades. Check out our Discussion below and feel free to reblog with your favorite music videos!

blink-182 - What’s My Age Again, by Zack Zarrillo
It doesn’t matter if you discovered the music video for “What’s My Age Again” at age 14 in 1999, 2003, 2008, or 2013. When you found it, you 1) were laughing 2) were singing along while laughing, and 3) were watching semi-naked dudes on your computer or TV screen while hoping your mom didn’t walk in. 

4) You most likely fell musically and immaturely in love with blink-182. 

The video is classic blink and set the band up for so much that happened in the rest of their immediate and future career, by nature of putting together all the pieces of the puzzle to create a video that (by today’s definition) would be the most viral music video on the internet.

Saves The Day - At Your Funeral, by Brittany Oblak
This music video was released in 2001 and came out for the album Stay What You Are, when the band took on a much poppier direction. This music video got airtime on both MTV and MTV2, and it was also how I discovered the band. The video is shot in motion-control behind a young Chris Conley, showing what appears to be the life cycle of a family. The video’s directors were really into “Requiem for a Dream” at the time, hence them shooting it in this style, and it even features director Maureen Egan’s mom at the end. This video opened not only a lot of doors for the band, but helped increase their fan base as well. This song being the band’s biggest single and an iconic anthem for Saves the Day fans alike, this video is (appropriately so) just as memorable and admired as the song itself. 

Sum 41 - Still Waiting, by Marc Gary Gray
The hilarious introduction (thanks to a cameo by Will Sasso) to this video paints a perfect picture of the musical landscape in 2002. After enjoying a huge decade starting with Green Day’s Dookie in 1994 and culminating with blink-182’s Enema of the State in 1999, the momentum of the pop-punk movement had faded. In its place, garage rock bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes were sending popular rock music in a different direction. Enter Sum 41 and this song/video. They weren’t done with pop punk, and they were ready to prove it (and ready to poke fun at the nouveau chic). This is Sum 41 at their best: bratty, catchy, and fun as hell. 

The Replacements - Bastards Of Young, by Jesse Richman
The Replacements carved out a place in history as punk’s lovable losers, accidental geniuses who managed to cut themselves off at the knees each time success crept close, and nowhere is it more evident than here. After years of under-heralded brilliance, the ‘Mats signed a major label deal, gave the boot to talented-but-unreliable guitarist Bob Stinson, and churned out Tim, and album featuring nine of the most perfect songs ever complied on one disc (and two terrible ones, because that’s how the ‘Mats roll).

And yet, when it came time to make a music video for “Bastards Of Young”, a song that seemed sure to make the band stars, they handed the label…this. The greatest anti-video ever created. Three and a half minutes of a camera pointed at a stereo playing their song, while someone just out of view sits on the couch and has a smoke. That’s it. Wait through it all, and be rewarded with three seconds of catharsis at the end. It was a giant middle finger toward music video culture: there was no way MTV could have played it, and they basically didn’t. So much for success!

Of course, The Replacements are having the last laugh; they’ll be reuniting in a few months to headline all three of this year’s Riot Fests, atop lineups packed full of bands they inspired, including Against Me!, who have been known to whip out a killer live cover of “Bastards” from time to time.

Attack Attack! - Stick Stickly, by Donald Wagenblast
The song itself doesn’t matter. The story thrown together for the video doesn’t matter. All anyone will ever remember about the “Stick Stickly” video, and frankly all that needs to be remembered about the video/song/band, is that it was the world’s introduction and horrible first impression of crabcore.

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POZ Review: Weerd Science - Red Light Juliet

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 2, 2013

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*This review was composed by Marc Gary Gray and edited by Erik van Rheenen

We’re at an interesting place in music. Outside the world of Top 40 pop, the rulebook has basically been thrown away. To be a legitimate indie rocker, it used to mean that you were a starving artist; now bands like The Strokes come from privilege and Billy Joel’s indictment that  “you can’t look trashy till you spend a lot of money” seems truer than ever. 

Hip-hop has had the biggest renaissance of all, and the impact can be seen throughout the young black community. Just look at the next NBA press conference: corn rows and bling have often given way to Buddy Holly glasses and bow ties, and the lines between skaters, punks, hip-hop kids, and every amalgam thereof have been blurred to the point of non-existence. We now live in a world where an openly gay black R&B artist is supported by most of the hip-hop community (and this is clearly a good thing). And this leads us to the artist in question: Weerd Science.

Weerd Science is the brainchild of Coheed and Cambria drummer Josh Eppard. If I were writing this review fifteen years ago, I would leave out this fact; there would be too much baggage attached to the artist being a white guy from upstate New York who drums for a prog-metal band. Now, however, I feel the average music fan can just listen to the music and judge the songs on their own merits. So, does Red Light Juliet have merits? Fuck yes it does. 

Whether or not it’s intentional or not is unclear, but this album plays like a mixtape of what’s been happening in hip-hop the past few years. “10 Smack Commandments” has the choppy, rapid smarm of Yelawolf. “You Can’t Do That on Television” owes a lot to early Eminem. “Evil Genius” conveys the snot-nosed brattish flow of Travie McCoy. There are hints of Kanye, some Weezy, and even Mickey Avalon sprinkled through these eight tracks. None of this is to say this album is biting, nor does Mr. Eppard lack a singular voice. Weerd Science is simply a musical composite. 

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POZ Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan - One Of Us Is The Killer

by Zack Zarrillo - May 16, 2013

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*This review was composed by Marc Gary Gray and edited by Erik van Rheenen

Fans of technical yet aggressive music are drawn to the genre by a variety of factors: the wizardry required to pull off much of the instrumentation, the feeling of belonging to an exclusive club of aficionados who can truly appreciate what they are hearing, and the sheer brutality of the whole thing, which separates truly aggressive bands from their milder mainstream counterparts. 

The Dillinger Escape Plan don’t lack in any of these categories, but what separates them from a crowded landscape of technically proficient but often-forgettable contemporaries is their dynamics. There is something to be said for a relentless barrage of chaos for the entire length of an album, but The Dillinger Escape plan is not that band, and One of Us Is the Killer is not that album. In fact, One of Us Is the Killer is an ACME powder keg owned by Wile E. Coyote: you never know just when it’s going to explode, and the result is rarely what you expect.  

To fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan, none of what I’ve said above is news. There is a larger point to be made here, however: for those who are scared away by tags like “mathcore” or “avant-garde metal” (as Wikipedia calls the band), this album could be your gateway drug into a world of odd time signatures and jazz breakdowns behind screeched and often incomprehensible vocals. Never has such weird music been more palatable for the average metal fan (although one could make a strong argument for Converge or Mastodon in this category). I’m seriously tempted to track-by-track this bad boy, as there is just SO much going on here, but I believe that method to be the laziest form of music review this side of “For fans of <more popular similar band>”. Let’s hit some highlights instead.

The first track is predictably engaging and high-energy, if not frantic. It’s called “Prancer,” and it’s got enough guitar chugging to satisfy the head-bangers while not disappointing those looking for spastic bursts of lead guitar insanity. “Understanding Decay” is the most “typical” Dillinger song on the album (if there is such a thing). A funky little intro gives way to shift after shift, and even at less than four minutes, it’s a vast and almost exhausting journey.  

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POZ Review: Face To Face - Three Chords And A Half Truth

by Zack Zarrillo - May 7, 2013

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*This review was composed by Marc Gary Gray and edited by Erik van Rheenen

Allow me a small tangent before we get talking about Face to Face. I know, I know. You’ve read a couple of my other reviews, and all I do is write tangentially. It happens. 

As a reviewer, I have trouble with venerable bands like Face to Face. Do I write the review assuming my audience has heard a lot of their music (and thus compare/contrast their latest effort with albums past?), or do I write to an audience who was most likely weaned on Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance as opposed to Bad Religion and Green Day? I’ve decided to ignore their history and write about just the album, but in this space, let me say this: this band is a big one. If you care to back up your love of today’s new punk bands with knowledge of influential older bands, don’t leave out Face to Face. 

Before I even talk about the music, I want to mention how much I enjoy the title to the record. Self-awareness (not to mention self-deprecation) is a skill that many overly serious artists may lack. With Three Chords and a Half Truth, Face to Face prove that they have plenty of both to go around. This is not to say, however, that the band isn’t serious. It is to say, however, that the band doesn’t take themselves so seriously that they can’t poke fun at their less-than-diverse chord progressions and not-quite-poetic lyrics. Much less has been accomplished with much more.

The opening track to Three Chords and a Half Truth is stellar; it’s called “123 Drop,” and it has all the makings of a great punk song: a timber-thick bass line holds up a staccato rhythm guitar and shouted, snarling vocals, and the call-and-response of “One! Two! One Two Three Drop!” is sure to have fists pumping and heads banging. With no let-up in sight, the bands churns through high energy, three-minute bangers. 

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Friday Discussion: The Best Album Closers

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 19, 2013

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We posted a PropertyOfZack Friday Discussion on The Best Album Openers last week, so we’re following it up this week with The Best Album Closers. Album closers have the ability to leave a truly emotional mark on the listener, and we’ve experienced quite a few memorable ones over the years in our scene. We put the closers together in an Rdio Playlist to listen to as you read the Discussion as well. Check out our list below and feel free to reblog with some of your favorite album closers!

Brand New - Play Crack the Sky
From the classic punk energy of Your Favorite Weapon to the dark intricacies of Daisy, the amount of things that Brand New have gotten right throughout their career is monumental. “Play Crack The Sky” is one of the few songs in the Brand New catalogue that showcase what each one of their masterpieces started out as poignant lyrics carried simply by a single guitar. If there is anything more impressive than their ever-present brazen musicality, it is the fact that even stripped down to bare bones, Brand New can evoke emotion like nobody else. - Alyssa McKinley

Death Cab For Cutie - A Lack Of Color
Death Cab For Cutie always has a way of making you feel both happy and sad at the same time with heartbreaking and heartwarming songs. “A Lack Of Color” is a tragically beautiful ending to close Translanticism, similar to the aftermath of a torrential downpour. It’s almost like the raindrops that slowly roll down the glass window on your wall as the sun fights to shine between the pockets of dark clouds. Moving at a serene tempo, Benjamin Gibbard perfectly sings every harmony with gentle conviction while the acoustic guitar repeatedly calls back to the piano chord. Ten years later and Translanticism is still considered one of the best Death Cab For Cutie albums of all time. “This is fact not fiction for the first time in years.” - Sydney Gore

Dashboard Confessional - Several Ways to Die Trying
A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar is Dashboard Confessional’s transitional album, the one that bridges the gap between Chris Carrabba’s deeply personal early work and the cinematic bombast of the band’s later LPs, and closing track “Several Ways to Die Trying” pinpoints the moment where that crossover happens. The six-minute epic swells seamlessly from ginger, cowering verses into a megalithic chorus  — one of the strongest in Dashboard’s songbook —with Carrabba’s meticulously planned delivery pushing the song over the top. His measured crumble in the refrain’s “dying to live” apex coheres into a laser blast at song’s end, searing its way from here to forever and soaring the ashes left behind to the heavens. - Jesse Richman

Thrice – The Beltsville Crucible
I used to believe that the closing track to Thrice’s brilliant sophomore release The Illusion of Safety should have been “To Awake and Avenge the Dead,” a fan-favorite anthem and perennial show closer.  Silly me. As any good storyteller knows, one does not end the story at the climax; a denouement is needed to resolve conflict and complete the story arc. Enter “The Beltsville Crucible.” Instead of ending the album with the lyric “to awake and avenge the dead,” Thrice was clever enough to end with, “and if you’re feeling all right, you’ve got to play it again.” The last two tracks of many lesser albums are just afterthoughts, but in this case, they’re just too damn good to be left out, and “The Beltsville Crucible” has the perfect intensity level to conclude this album and get the listener ready to let track one start all over again. - Marc Gary Gray

Fireworks - The Wild Bunch
“The Wild Bunch,” the final track on Fireworks’ 2011 album Gospel, is bold, unpredictable and wildly fun; splicing swirling finger-picked arpeggios, The-Who-via-Green-Day arena windmill riffs, double-time skate punk, gang vocals and love-your-friends-die-laughing lyrics into one of the most innovative punk songs in recent memory. Anyone who “grew up weird enough” to make a song like this grew up right. - Jesse Richman 

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POZ Review: Manchester Orchestra, Frightened Rabbit, Grouplove - Collaborative Split 12”

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 18, 2013

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*This review was composed by Marc Gary Gray and edited by Erik van Rheenen

Andy Hull is an exceptional songwriter, and what separates him from many of his just “good” peers is his ability to write in such a wide breadth of styles and levels of aggressiveness without losing any amount of proficiency or sincerity. In collaborating separately with Frightened Rabbit and Grouplove on this release, one can juxtapose the variety of music that Hull is adept at creating (not to undermine the obvious contributions of the collaborating bands and Mr. Hull’s bandmates in Manchester Orchestra).

The Manchester/Frightened Rabbit track, titled “Architect,” is actually a collaborative effort between only the primary songwriters of the respective bands (and a song completed without the two ever meeting one another in person). Almost impossibly, the song manages to be both sparse and lush. The sparseness comes from the skeletal instrumentation and lack of percussion, while the relentless fingerpicked acoustic guitar riff provides the momentum and drive that often lack from a guitar-and-voice-only approach. 

As for the vocals, well…I know I can be prone to hyperbolic statements, but the vocals on this track are breathtaking. Scott Hutchison’s throaty, consistent delivery meshes perfectly with Hull’s nasal, loud-to-quiet delivery until each individual singer is nearly indistinguishable. The melodies and harmonies are sad and evocative without being mopey or obvious, and the song doesn’t linger, ending in a tidy four minutes. The most impressive part of this track is its balance: between the two songwriters, between the aforementioned fullness and sparseness, and between poetic ambiguity versus meaninglessness in regards to lyrics, “Architect” manages to walk the proverbial tightrope. 

As implied in the introductory paragraph, the other song in question is something different entirely. Opposed to the two-man show that was “Architect,” “Make It to Me” is a boisterous little ditty, complete with note-dragging synth riffs, a variety of vocalists, and a perfect combination of Manchester’s indie rock prowess and Grouplove’s dance-infused goodness.

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Friday Discussion: The Best Album Openers

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 12, 2013

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There’s nothing better than a strong album opener. It can set the mood for the next 40 minutes of the album you’re listening to, or even your day. We thought it’d be great to do a PropertyOfZack Friday Discussion on The Best Album Openers from multiple albums in our scene. We put the openers together in an Rdio Playlist to listen to as you read the Discussion as well. Check out our list below and feel free to reblog with some of your favorite album openers!

blink-182 - Feeling This
"Feeling This," to me, is the song that captures most of what blink-182 is in every sense: pop-punk, sex, back-and-forth vocals, an incredibly catchy chorus. Not only is it an excellent opener for the band’s best album, but it sets a tone of uplifting excitement and exuberance. Whether it’s your favorite blink song or not, it shows them at their best. - Zack Zarrillo

The Menzingers - Good Things
For all its wide-eyed nostalgia for American muscle cars, the Paupack Cliffs, and a waitress named Casey, shake The Menzingers’ On the Impossible Past to its core and you’re left with the story of a slowly disintegrating American youth. But it’s hard not to feel hopeful in the face of that crushing notion, especially when the opening riff of “Good Things” and plaintive declaration of “I’ve been having a horrible time pulling myself together” sound so damn hopeful.

The sing-along chorus is as lyrically depressing as it is deeply catchy, and the nostalgic imagery of an American muscle car quickly decays into “I felt American for once in my life / I never felt it again.” On the Impossible Past is an album grappling with the idealism of nostalgia pitted against the reality of growing up, and “Good Things” perfectly captures that battle.  - Erik van Rheenen

Say Anything - Belt
…Is a Real Boy is one hell of a psychologically damaged opus, and there’s no shortage of unique and shocking moments throughout the record, so what better way is there to be introduced to the insanity than with an overheard phone conversation with Max Bemis in which he states, flat-out, his anxiety about starting? “And the record begins with a song of rebellion” is a heavy-handed battle cry, leading off into a snarling, kick-ass song that seems to contradict Bemis’s expressed nervousness and doesn’t let up into softness or vulnerability — that comes later on. “Belt” is a unforgettable, steadfast song with unbridled power, and its place at the front of …Is a Real Boy is rightfully earned in its dichotomy between anxiety and confidence. - Adrienne Fisher

Saves The Day - All-Star Me
"All-Star Me" is the perfect song. It’s melodic, frank, compact, and steady, while simultaneously delivering classic Chris Conley lyrics of real life situations mixed up into metaphor. It’s a wonderful taste right off the bat of the progression that Saves the Day saw from Can’t Slow Down into Through Being Cool, even possibly deflecting skeptics by stating immediately that "this isn’t the way we planned." Not to mention that quiet buzzing of guitar feedback right before the first chords kick in - for anyone who knows what an amazing trip they’re in for with Through Being Cool, the sound of plugging in is the most exciting sound in the world. - Adrienne Fisher

Brand New - Tautou 
In just one minute and forty-two seconds, Brand New managed to accomplish what takes most bands years: without warning, they threw out any semblance to the band that recorded Your Favorite Weapon, prepared the listener for the intensity ahead, and set a precedent of dark and brooding brilliance for albums for years to come. No segue. No transition. Just a declaration: “This is who we are now. Oh, and here comes the catchiest bass line of the decade. Go.” - Marc Gary Gray 

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POZ Decade: The Postal Service - Give Up

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 9, 2013

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Today PropertyOfZack is launching our fifth Decade feature in honor of The Postal Service's Give Up, which is celebrating its ten year anniversary reissue today. We figured it would be perfect timing between the reissue and major touring coming this spring and summer. We have commentary on the album via team members Josh Hammond, Marc Gary Gray, Deanna Chapman, and Brittany Oblak. Enjoy and reblog to let us know your thoughts on Give Up ten years later!

Most important song on Give Up

The first time I listened to “Such Great Heights,” I knew instantly that I was listening to a defining piece of music history. I was sitting in my car the moment the intro notes began pinging around my head, forming one of the most consuming walls of sound I had ever experience. With flawless production, near perfect structuring and composition and absolutely stunning lyric approach, the song is as close to a modern masterpiece as possible.

Additionally, the song would gain a second life through a cover by Sub Pop label mate Iron & Wine. The song would find its way to the soundtrack of the film Garden State, gathering cult status and a reputation and fan base of its own, therefore altering the careers of both The Postal Service and Iron & Wine. Shifts could be noticed in the career of Gibber’s other project, Death Cab for Cutie. Transatlanticism’s first single would noticeably take more of a Postal Service approach to structure in the way it would mix depression with solid pop structuring. 

It is no stretch to imply that the reach of this song extends past that of many indie releases. Locking in the legacy as the biggest asset on a stellar release the song should be remembered long after everything it has touched has faded into retirement.Joshua Hammond (@endless_rambles) 

How did The Postal Service follow up Give Up 

Give Up was a great start for The Postal Service, until they decided at the time there would not be a follow up. The writing process had begun for a sophomore effort, but was never completed. However, The Postal Service by no means went away in regards to the number of fans they still maintained. Give Up was such an outstanding album that it left people wanting more, but it wasn’t until January 2013 that the band’s site was updated and they announced a re-issue of the album, which will include a two rarities. Their fan base went crazy and it was clear that the original success of the album brought the group very loyal fans. The re-issue is out now and I believe that will show just how many people still love the group and want another album. Ten years is a long time to wait.Deanna Chapman (@deechapman21) 

How does Give Up hold up in 2013

If this album came out today, would it be received equally well? Has the album aged well over the past ten years? Are those the same question or entirely different questions? For the sake of this next couple of paragraphs, I’m treating them as different questions, and answering them in reverse order. The album has aged gracefully over the past decade, but if it were released today, it would not have nearly the success or impact it saw in 2003. Before any diehard fans of The Postal Service skewer me as a consequence of my last sentence, please let me expound (for I mean this as a compliment).

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POZ Review: Killswitch Engage – Disarm the Descent

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 5, 2013

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*This review was composed by Marc Gary Gray and edited by Erik van Rheenen

Formula. 

What a divisive word in the world of music. To some, it is an insult of the highest degree, relegating the accused band to a passionless machine devoid of creativity or innovation. To others, the opposite is true. Much like New Coke bombed in the 80s by changing a beloved formula, certain fans take comfort in a tried-and-true recipe from their favorite bands. These bands have found a formula that works and sounds great, so they should keep that momentum until it fizzles and avoid trying to reinvent themselves just for the sake of something novel. Being in neither camp, I’m objective about this particular debate. So let’s see how this relates directly to the subject at hand, the new Killswitch Engage release, Disarm the Descent.

Let me first say that, regardless of how you feel about the aforementioned “f word,” you will immediately notice that this album continues the trademark sound that has made Killswitch Engage one of the leaders in the current metalcore movement. Checklist: a) the vocals are screamed in the verses, sung in the chorus, and simultaneously screamed/sung during interludes and breakdowns; b) palm-muted rhythm guitar riffs with catchy lead picking parts; c) quick, not-overly-complex guitar solos; d) drums that are much more on the “core” side of metalcore than the “metal” side. You get the idea. 

That said, this album fucking rocks. I dare you to turn on the album’s first track, “The Hell in Me,” and not immediately nod your head and air guitar along. Killswitch brings a songwriting prowess, instrumental expertise, intensity, and production value (Adam D, of course) that so many imitators will never come close to reaching. This is the first album since 2002’s Alive or Just Breathing to feature vocalist Jesse David Leach, with previous vocalist Howard Jones leaving the band amicably last year. As a matter of personal taste, this change is neither an upgrade nor downgrade; however, I do see the return of Leach have revitalizing potential for a band that has been steadily recording and producing for over a decade.

I saw Killswitch live in Portland a few months back with Leach manning the vocals, and the exuberance and energy of that show were through the roof, especially from Leach. Basically, these five guys looked thrilled to be touring and performing together, translating to a manic performance not soon to be forgotten. 

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POZ Single Review: The Hush Sound - “Not A Stranger”

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 30, 2013

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*This review was composed by Marc Gary Gray and edited by Erik van Rheenen

Talk about revisionist history. Jesus. I had decided at some undetermined point in the past that The Hush Sound was old, sad bastard music. My favorite song from their 2006 effort Like Vines was “Out Through the Curtain,” and it wasn’t a close race. “Out Through the Curtain” is a wonderfully dynamic dirge with a first person account of agoraphobia, reclusiveness, and regret. Sparse at the beginning and bordering on hopeful exuberance at the end, I connected to this song immediately and listened to it often. However, as time passed and I listened to Like Vines less and less, I forgot that “Out Through the Curtain” was an anomaly on the record. 

Fast-forward to this weekend. I see that The Hush Sound has released a new song entitled “Not a Stranger.” Excited, I click on the stream and…what’s this? A funky bass line connecting the jangly guitar intro to the first verse, where lead singer Bob Morris croons his way to a lovely, upbeat chorus (where he’s joined by the lovely Greta Morgan)? Huh. Interesting. And really great. 

It’s fun without being goofy, although the mood of the chorus is a bit ambiguous: a lot like the love the song is about, I suppose. After a couple of more spins, I’m even more intrigued as I discover more nuance in the instrumentation I didn’t hear the previous listen. Shit, it’s time to dust off the ole’ copy of Like Vines and give it another listen. Were there hints of this new sound present in their older music? That’s a metaphoric dusting off, obviously. C’mon.

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POZ Decade: AFI - Sing The Sorrow

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 26, 2013

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Today PropertyOfZack is launching our fourth Decade feature in honor of AFI’s Sing The Sorrow, which just celebrated its ten year anniversary. The band has been quiet for a few years now, but the anniversary of one of the band’s most popular releases can’t help but bring memories back for AFI fans. We have commentary on the album via team members Josh Hammond, Marc Gary Gray, Deanna Chapman, and Adrienne Fisher, in addition to special words from Mike Hansen of Pentimento. Enjoy and reblog to let us know your thoughts on Sing The Sorrow ten years later!

Legacy of Sing The Sorrow 

In reality Sing the Sorrow has two legacies. 

To begin with the album serves as a major fork in the band’s career in terms of referencing their sound. With Jerry Finn and Butch Vig at the helm of production, their sound would shift from the horror punk and hardcore sound that fan’s had become accustom to, forming a more industrial and alternative sound flooded with synthesizers and samples. Combining the brilliance of both storied producers, AFI’s new sound caught the attention of media and fans alike. The album caught fire and built a buzz like the band had never experienced. 

All three singles from the album (“Girl’s Not Grey,” “The Leaving Song Pt. II,” and “Silver and Cold”) landed significant radio attention, help the album climb the charts. Peaking at 5 on the Billboard Top 200 charts, the album would grip the industry in a way not completely expected from previous releases. High praise from the media would also help drum up exposure for the band, eventually leading to a Platinum Record for Sing the Sorrow.  The album would slingshot the band into A-List status, changing the face of the career of AFI. With bigger venues, larger audiences and more exposure, the band’s speaking voice would quickly shift into a yell. Joshua Hammond (@endless_rambles)

Most important song on Sing The Sorrow

Sing the Sorrow showcases a pretty standard evolution that plenty of bands undergo - the move from hard to soft, from aggressive to introspective. AFI caught their fair share of flak from underground supporters for the shift, as it came in suspicious conjunction with their new major label home and with a host of songs that had mostly all but abandoned the hardcore punk style that was adopted on their previous releases. “Girls Not Grey” and “Silver and Cold” made for popular singles while deviating the furthest in style from the core aggression by which AFI had come to be defined. And while one can make the argument that the most popular songs are the most memorable, I’ll suggest differently.

"Dancing Through Sunday," while not belonging to mainstream rotation, is a fan-favorite and does the best job of demonstrating the group’s sonic evolution while still keeping one foot firmly in their punk roots. A fierce, upbeat song, it lyrically toys with juxtaposing the ideas of dance and sadness; the dark-and-twisted overtones are pretty exaggerated and won’t be winning over any adult fans here a decade later. However, the song most notably incorporates both the shrill vocal stylings of the AFI of old along with the deeply hooky chorus, contributing to the band’s newfound accessibility - "ohhhhh"s aplenty! Not to mention the presence of a hammy guitar solo following the bridge, which I may or may not have had playing the first time my dad ever took me to drive on a real highway…it totally shreds.Adrienne Ray Fisher (@adriennerayfush)

How the album changed the band’s future

Sing the Sorrow was the sixth release from AFI, but one of the firsts to have mainstream success. It opened up the band to a larger audience as they charted on Billboard’s top ten. Songs such as “Girl’s Not Grey” and “Silver and Cold” became increasingly popular. The band even won a VMA for the “Girl’s Not Grey” music video. This album gave the band their first mainstream success, which carried over into their next album, Decemberunderground. Being noticed on the charts and being exposed to a larger audience had definitely changed their future. They went on to get a slot on Saturday Night Live, headline festivals, and play in stadiums. Needless to say, Sing the Sorrow greatly helped the band’s future success.Deanna Champman (@deechapman21) 

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POZ Review: The Acacia Strain - Money for Nothing

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 20, 2013

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*This review was composed by Marc Gary Gray and edited by Erik van Rheenen

At work, I told my friend Colin I was reviewing an album. He asked me the band, and I told him it was The Acacia Strain. His response was, “Dude, they’re fuckin’ WICKED.” Why do you care? Colin hates most things. Colin especially hates aggressive music that isn’t death metal, including hardcore — or any genre ending in “core,” for that matter. He likes Children of Bodom and Lamb of God and can’t stand Hatebreed. I don’t condone such hatred (I love Hatebreed), but the point is, if a band that is so clearly influenced by hardcore can convert a hardcore-hating metal head to instantly profess respect and enjoyment, said band has accomplished something. But I digress. Let’s talk about The Acacia Strain’s latest offering, the Money for Nothing EP.

The Money for Nothing EP is, to quote Prosthetic Records’ website, a collection of “rarities, b-sides and previously unreleased material.” It is this reviewer’s opinion that such tracks are usually left out of original studio releases for one of two reasons: either a) they didn’t quite fit with the aesthetic of the album or there wasn’t enough room for the track, or b) the songs weren’t just that good to begin with. These tunes clearly fit in the first category. The six tracks on this EP span much of the band’s history, from 2006’s The Dead Walk to 2010’s Wormwood — any of the six could have ended up on a regular release without standing out, though the southern-rock tinged riff in the EP’s title track (think Every Time I Die or Maylene and the Sons of Disaster) might place it in a certain time and place. 

The highlight of this album was the second track, an alternate version of the song “Brown Noise” from the 2004 album 3750. Aside from boasting tighter production than the original, this new version manages to be even more brutal and driving than its predecessor. This song also showcases the band’s diversity, which is one of their biggest strengths. From chugga-chugga riffs to odd-time-signature breakdowns and everything in between, “Brown Noise” is a showcase for what these guys can do. For anyone new to The Acacia Strain, start here.

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POZ Decade: Copeland - Beneath Medicine Tree

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 19, 2013

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We are incredibly excited to be launching our third Decade feature in celebration of Copeland's Beneath Medicine Tree, which is celebrating its ten year anniversary next week. Though the band has now come and gone, Beneath Medicine Tree is a record that has stood the test of time for listeners, viewers, and POZ. We have commentary on the album via team members Josh Hammond, Marc Gary Gray, and Brittany Oblak. Enjoy and reblog to let us know your thoughts on Beneath Medicine Tree ten years later!

Best song on Beneath Medicine Tree

To understand the significance of “Brightest,” the opening track of Copeland’s debut full length, Beneath Medicine Tree, you first have to grasp the depth and intensities of the concept of the album. Inspired heavily from the hospitalization of his girlfriend and the death of his grandmother, Aaron Marsh approached the album’s lyrics and songwriting from a confessional and extremely venerable position. Nothing is held back from the listener and every drop of emotion felt from Marsh ends up bleeding into the mix. 

“Brightest,” a song that comes in at just over two minutes, stands out as the most understated and softly spoken song on an album weighed down in heavy plots and heart wrenching scripts. It is this simplicity however that makes the song shine. Based over soft, flowing piano and calm, careful guitar the song’s lyrics express hindsight. Marsh looks back fondly at prior situation, explaining that he has let it go. He says softly and almost insecurely, “All I know is she warms my heart and knows what all my imperfections are” before revealing the great couplet on the album “and she said that I was the brightest little firefly in her jar.” 

I remember being 22 years old and hearing Marsh sing those words for the first time. In that moment everything changed. I can recall seeing my views and concepts of what love shift dramatically. I desperately wanted to be the brightest firefly in someone’s jar. That statement defined me. It changed me. More importantly it stuck with me for a decade. 

Unintentionally and from his own grief, Marsh managed to pen the most important two minutes of my life. I can only imagine the effect that it managed to have on his.Joshua Hammond (@endless_rambles) 

Legacy of Beneath Medicine Tree

I’m not suffering from writer’s block, I swear. However, I can’t seem to “sum up” the legacy of this album. I would posit that the legacy Beneath Medicine Tree ten years after its release (but you knew that already, right? Decade? Amiright?) is a slightly complex one. First of all, Copeland is a “Christian” band, and however you choose to view that, the label (limiting or unnecessary as it may be) can certainly have an effect on the way a band is viewed: see Exhibit A – mewithoutYou. 

Being one who is frustrated with such labels, I will choose to completely ignore this fact when attempting to place this album in its proper historical place and context. Here are two things that I know for sure: 1) when given the list of albums that would be highlighted in this Decade project, I did not bat an eyelash at this album. In other words, of COURSE this album needs to be highlighted. No brainer. 2) Nothing on this album sticks it permanently into its period in history. Let me expound. There are no badly placed screaming parts (no screaming parts at all, for that matter). The production is simple and understated. There are no rap interludes, no dance move music videos, nothing to pin the album to 2003. I hate to throw around the word timeless, but in this context, the album is timeless. And that’s definitely a good thing. 

At the end of the day, this album fills a nice gap between the late 90s emo bands (think Jets to Brazil, Hey Mercedes, etc.) and bands like Brand New and Fall Out Boy who thrived in the middle to later portions of the 2000s. Ultimately, Aaron Marsh solidified himself a place next to the great indie/emo songwriters of the last ten years, and if that’s the most I can say for someone, that’s still quite something. - Marc Gary Gray (@marcgarygray)  

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POZ Decade: The Movielife - Forty Hour Train Back To Penn

by Zack Zarrillo - Feb 26, 2013

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We are incredibly excited to be launching our second Decade feature in celebration of The Movielife's Forty Hour Train Back To Penn, which was released ten years ago today. Though the band has been broken up for most of the past decade, minus two reunion shows, Forty Hour is a record that many POZ team members and bands that we love hold dear to our hearts. We have commentary on the album via team members Erik van RheenenAdrienne Fisher, and guest Marc Gary Gray. Enjoy and reblog to let us know your thoughts on Forty Hour Train Back To Penn ten years later!

Legacy of Forty Hour Train Back To Penn:

2003 was (clearly) a banner year for Drive-Thru Records pop punk, and The Movielife’s album Forty Hour Train Back to Penn (clearly) fits into that category. However, unlike almost any other album in this showcase, this album marked the end of a band’s run, as opposed to the many debut or sophomore albums you’ll be reading about in the next few weeks. Forty Hour Train Back to Penn plays like many of its peers: 3 minute catchy jams about heartache, longing, and let’s face it…girls. With the aid of retrospect, this album feels rather dated. There is certainly an air of sincerity surrounding these tracks, but with so many of their contemporaries striking similar chords (chords…get it? Never mind…), the only remarkable thing about this album 10 years later is how unremarkable it sounds. In effect, this album permanently grounds the band (and, with help from others, Drive-Thru Records) as relics of the early 2000s, a time when boy bands were fading from the spotlight but Kanye and Skrillex weren’t there yet to grab hold of the pop music reigns. It was a time when four unassuming guys from Anywhere, USA could wear their hearts on their sleeves and sell records while they were doing so. Fans of pop punk (myself included) will continue to love this record the way we love playing old NES games on the Wii; we don’t want to go back for good, but we’re glad we can from time to time. - Marc Gary Gray (@marcgarygray)

How Forty Hour Train Back To Penn holds up in 2013:

Pop punk isn’t a genre that ages especially gracefully, but Forty Hour Train Back to Penn holds up remarkably well. That might have something to do with the fact that it’s the last record we got from The Movielife, and with Vinnie Caruana saying “The Movielife is dead” during the Acoustic Basement Tour, waiting for another Movielife record would be as aimless as waiting for Godot. Because the Movielife isn’t around to play these songs, giving Forty Hour Train Back to Penn a spin every so often keeps the songs as fresh as they were ten years ago. Caruana’s open-book lyrics still hit home, and while it’s a shame the Movielife called it quits, at least they saved their best album for last. Hearing Caruana perform some of these songs acoustically really illustrates their versatility, and that translation away from the full-band ethos keeps fans listening. - Erik van Rheenen (@TheVandyMan)

Movielife’s follow up to Forty Hour Train Back To Penn:

The Movielife put out Forty Hour Train Back To Penn in 2003 and, despite praise from the pop-punk community, announced less than a year later that the band was no more. And with that, the cord was cut – no final show, no posthumous B-side releases, no breadcrumbs to feed the fans.

So, to say whether or not the band was successful in following up their final full-length record truly lies in the way that the Movielife achieved closure for themselves and for their fans. In 2008, Caruana brought the songs back to full-band life by performing a set of Movielife songs at Bamboozle and Bamboozle Left that year, with Set Your Goals as a backing band. The decision to play this way was reported as because the other members of the Movielife were not willing to participate in a reunion, yet Caruana wanted to find a way to bring the songs back to life for fans that still loved the records and had been hoping against hope to hear the songs again in a live setting. Caruana also continued playing solo shows on a semi-regular basis over the years, touring by himself and playing sets that consisted of both Movielife and I Am the Avalanche songs.

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Ernie Ball