#18 – Lemon Meringue Tie

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Artist – Dance Gavin Dance
Album – Downtown Battle Mountain
Year – 2007
Genre – Experimental Post Hardcore

I really don’t know what to say about Dance Gavin Dance. They really are undefinable. They have the roots of a post hardcore band, but the talent, musical soul and complexity of a jazz/prog outfit. They’re never afraid to experiment, and usually come out successful. This is just a band that you’re going to need to check out for yourself, so I really hope everyone gives that link a click! The clean vocalist in this song, Jonny Craig, is notorious for having one of the biggest egos in music. Sadly he is no longer in the band, but if you think pop singers like Cee Lo Green and Usher have all the talent, you haven’t heard Jonny sing. Jon Mess, the unclean vocalist, has screams that show expressivity unlike any other screams out there. I’ll let the song speak, so lets get started.

The opening drum fill hits you. Hard. Now you’re in it for the long haul, and you’ve made a wise choice. The bass begins. It’s funky. REAL funky. Then the guitar. The lick is jazzy, intricate, and clean. These are the feelings and sounds you will experience when hearing the first, oh I don’t know, five seconds of Lemon Meringue Tie. The key in this song is to try and take in as much as you can the first time. You really need to listen on all levels to truly gain an appreciation for what this band can do. If you don’t get it all the first time, there’s always the replay button. The short verses are filled with the extremely precise and odd timed playing of each instrument. Each musician is at their peak, performing musical feats few bands of their age group can accomplish. Then Jonny begins. His voice is soulful, smooth and silky, and he glides over every note with ease. The buildup to the chorus begins, and each musician gets faster and more complex. Frenetic fills, lightspeed guitar, and funk bass pull you to the top of the hill.

Chorus. Jonny lets it go. He explodes. He unleashes a voice you thought wasn’t possible since Michael Jackson died. My friends, you were wrong. “AND NOW YOU GO!” When you hear those words. You will chill up, friends. It’s that good, and that pleasing to listen to. Jon Mess caps it off with his screams throughout. What he can do with screams is quite extraordinary and also awesome. He seems to modulate his screams in a way that almost makes it seem like he’s actually talking. The intonation isn’t just high and low, it’s done in a way where there are subtleties within each line. The music in the chorus absolutely drives. It still keeps the same intricacies as before, but adds power and a whole lot of depth. It’s amazing to listen to, and it pumps you up to the max.

The post chorus sections are just as good, as Jonny and Jon duel back and forth with their talented voices. Jonny gets a long part to sing at his most achingly soulful, while the music backs him in just the right way, and then the same happens for Jon; screaming and making you know that he can really rip. After this, there is a bit of a slow down where Jonny sings, but the real focus shifts to the musicians, especially the great guitar playing skills of Will Swan. The pace picks up as it does in the beginning, with drums and guitar kicking it back in and the music exploding once again.

Jonny and Jon cap it off again and finish the song quite abruptly, but by now, everything you thought about this genre has been shattered, but this is a good thing.

The one thing that I’m still really undecided on for this song are the lyrics. They’re almost nonsensical, but yet make perfect sense. I’ll leave them for you do decipher, but perhaps they fit the band perfectly, as music and vocals often tend to do. There’s really too much to say about the musical talent of this group. All I can say is listen. Listen hard. Listen more than once. If you love intricacy and melody, without sacrificing edginess, this is the band for you. Dance Gavin Dance is a band that all fans of hardcore, post hardcore, and hard rock in general need to hear.

What do you all think? Comment Below!

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#17 – Daylight

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Artist – Maroon 5
Album – Overexposed
Year – 2012
Genre – Pop-Rock

Hey everyone, sorry I haven’t posted in a while. It’s been quite a hectic week, but now I’m back at it! Let’s start things back up with Maroon 5’s pop hit, Daylight.

Do you ever hear a song that’s so catchy, and yet so simple, that you think “I could have written that!” Daylight is just such a song. However, catchiness is not the only factor that makes this song as good as it is. Adam Levine, frontman of Maroon 5 and The Voice judge extraordinaire, remains one of the greatest vocalists in modern pop rock. His range is absolutely incredible, and he has the ability to really push emotions across that aren’t found in a lot of pop tracks on the radio today.

Daylight starts off simple enough with some repeated jazzy guitar chords typical of Maroon 5, and also with Levine starting right away. He’s in top form already, and it’s only a short while before he leads right into the chorus. This chorus is so simply constructed, and also somewhat repetitive. But you know what? It totally does what it sets out to do. It works for all the right reasons. The notes are pitch perfect, and are just in the right order to give you shivers from how well they fit with one another. Levine’s voice is expressive and extremely powerful, which is so important to keep the song fresh and interesting. His singing is intense, and the “woah-ing” is insanely addictive and fun to sing along to. The music here is also rich and sweet. The beat is simple enough to keep the song in line, but the background pop synths add that texture with that oh so catchy progression. It builds up in the prechorus, and explodes into sugary goodness in the chorus.

The song keeps the same formula for the rest of the song. There is an unremarkable bridge section, but the last chorus is awesome! Levine sings high right off the bat, and the resounding “YEAH” vocals mixed in with the instruments was a great choice for a song like this one.

I have to talk about the lyrics now. They may seem at first glance to be like many other pop songs, where the guy has to leave a girl he’s sleeping with because it’s wrong or something. But in reality, the beauty of this song is that I feel that Levine is saying that when you have someone you love in your life, you really need to capture every moment with them, because it might end someday. You need to drink in their beauty and everything you love about them. Have fun with them, be affectionate, show them that you are pieces of one another, tied in this moment. Some may think this a stretch and say, “Mmm…no. It’s just a pop song with shallow lryics.” But you have to look deeper sometimes. However, I am not saying by any means that this is not a fun song. It’s one of the most enjoyable, singable, fun songs I have heard in recent memory.

Daylight is a song where there is more that meets the eye. This a track that was meant for you to have fun with and sing with, but also a song that carries some deep meaning about love and cherishing time. However you want to interpret it, Daylight is a must have.

What do you all think? Comment below!

#16 – The Anomaly

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Artist – Scar Symmetry
Album – The Unseen Empire
Year – 2011
Genre – Melodic Death Metal

A lot of people tend to shy away from a lot of metal songs, regardless of what it is. If they hear the word “metal” they immediately decide they are not going to like it. I have the opinion that a lot of people can enjoy some forms of metal for the same principles that make them like other genres. If they can appreciate emotion, musicianship, and pleasing melodies, then they can indeed enjoy some metal songs too, especially a lot of great melodic metal bands out of Sweden. Take Scar Symmetry for example. I know under the genre it says “death metal” after the word melodic, but seriously, the melody is more prevalent than the death for this song! So without further ado, here is my review of Scar Symmetry’s The Anomaly.

As in metal song fashion, this track wastes no time getting your attention. As I said, you’ll hear a lot of melody right off the bat. After a powerful, triumphant opening, the band immediately shows its talent through a short but blistering guitar solo. The verse begins, and I have to say the screamed vocals are actually better than a lot of other similar metal bands out there. Harsh vocalist Roberth Karlsson’s screams are crisp and don’t feel forced at all. The buildup to the prechorus has this great overlap of harsh and clean vocals, and then the prechorus itself starts what is arguably the best facet of the track, and that is Lars Palmqvist’s vocals. His singing is so good. Honestly if he was to sing a pop song on the radio, I’d listen to it. The song’s chorus is totally bolstered by his singing ability, and I get shivers at the line, “If you follow, I will lead” every time I listen. The notes fit perfectly, and the melody is as catchy as anything. Also you get a lot of power and emotion in Palmqvist’s voice here, and it makes all the difference between a mediocre chorus and a great chorus.

All the while here, the music is crazy good too. The drums are fast, the guitars are loud and add that huge wall of background melody we need here. This band has six musicians, and they are all contributing in a major way to this track. There’s a short melodic bridge, and then the guitar solos come in. Both of the band’s guitarists alternate back and forth between these nice little power metal solos. They’re nothing special, but are really there to assure you of what you’re listening to, and that the guitarists have talent.

There’s one last chorus, and then the final, powerful words “I AM THE ANOMALY!” Speaking of lyrics, they certainly aren’t the standout here, but they get the job done. They deal with being a follower to oppression, and how certain people control everything in our daily lives. The album itself has this grand theme of exposing hidden governments, but this is the best song on the album, honestly. Head and shoulders above the rest.

So, The Anomaly is super catchy for a metal track. It’s got great musicianship, awesome clean and harsh vocals, and just a great sound. If you really want to give something new a try, I highly recommend this track.

What did you guys think? Leave your comments below

#15 – Pierrot the Clown

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Artist – Placebo
Album – Meds
Year – 2006
Genre – Alternative/Art Rock

I’m just going to dive right into the review for this one. So here we go.

The first thing you’ll notice about this song is how stripped down it feels. It’s very simple musically, but it’s a song in which you need to look beneath the surface to discover just how beautiful the song is. A muted drum loop drives the song, and it feels as if a heavy weight lays over the surface of the music. Delicately strummed electric and acoustic guitars add somber chords to a background of string synths and a glockenspiel. It’s very modest, and that feeling is reflected in singer Brian Molko’s beautifully lonely lyrics. The verses deal with, I think, a lover who is beaten down in a relationship. They are so in love with their partner that they are willing to endure any physical or emotional pain or to just be with this person. Molko’s lyrics depict a person so broken that they are bruised, “the bruises turn to yellow, the swelling goes down” and emotionally played with “remember all the things you’d say, as your promises rang hollow.” However, the song’s narrator is begging to be loved, and he or she expects to see their partner every day. Molko’s voice wavers and feels somberly modest in it’s delivery. It’s only fair to describe his voice in this song as reflecting the character, only wanting to be loved and willing to give everything for it.

Sadness is heavy here, and the instrumentation adds this encompassing, sweeping feel to show how deeply the narrator’s love is. It’s all he lives for, and it is his everything. The chorus truly shows how much the partner is needed, as this person is waiting for them “wearing a frown.” Until he or she comes to visit, they are sad and heartbroken. The bridge actually feels somewhat joyful, and for good reason. It explains how the main character dreams of their partner all the time, and the music is grand and glowing, fitting the moment perfectly. The verses and chorus repeat, and the song continues with this desperation until the song finishes.

I apologize for not talking about the music more, but it is hard to with lyrics that tell such a story, at least to me. The music is very befitting of the song. Its beautiful texture and simplicity capture the wonder of what love is, but yet it keeps a morose feel because of how the notion of love is being used in the main character’s manipulation. This song should be on everyone’s sad songs list. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking story of when love turns into pain, told beautifully by Placebo and Brian Molko. His voice, the words, and the music combine to paint this picture of despair in a breathtaking way, like a beautiful painting.

Leave your comments about what you think below!

#14 – Lightning Crashes

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Artist – Live
Album – Throwing Copper
Year – 1994
Genre – Post Grunge/Alternative

Once in a while, a song comes along that really touches you. It makes you think about ideas or points of view that we don’t usually think about. Lightning Crashes is one of those songs. It approaches the concepts of life and death in ways not many songs do.

The song begins with a very soft guitar riff, which continues for the duration of the verses. It’s definitely a somber opening, as singer Ed Kowalczyk whispers the first two verses in hushed tones. In the first verse, he speaks of a young mother giving birth to her child, which is an obviously joyous moment. However, the second verse deals with the opposite side, as an old woman dies, and passes her life onto the newborn child. It’s all very moving and also beautiful to hear lyrics like this. The pace of the guitar is slow, giving you a chance to really focus on Kowalczyk’s words. The chorus comes next, and it’s gorgeous. Kowalczyk’s voice is emotive and powerful, and you can hear every waver and imperfection, but somehow it’s more real because of them. You can tell he means every note and word that he sings. The words in the chorus really connect the principles he’s trying to get across, in the sense that we’re all tied to the earth and that we constantly give our lives to the future: “Forces pulling from the center of the Earth again.”

As the song continues, Kowalczyk only gets more powerful with his voice, and begins really singing with all his conviction. The guitars and now drums pick up the tempo and make the song less somber and actually more joyful in a way. The mood still feels a bit dark, but there’s a glimmer of light at the end, and that’s what this song is about. The chords and drums pick up and the song really gets moving. The song finishes with the chorus being repeated again, and eventually it ends as it began with soft guitar chords. it brings the song full circle, like life and death.

The focus of the song is really Kowalczyk’s singing. He really puts all his feelings into his voice and his songwriting is really something else. It takes guts to write a song like this, and especially to count on it to be successful. It’s a song that has heart, emotion, and a message to think about. As always, leave your thoughts on the song or review below. Thank you

#13 – Outrage

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Artist – Capital Lights
Album – This is an Outrage!
Year – 2008
Genre – Pop-Punk

For those of you who have never heard of Capital Lights, you are in for a huge treat today. And for fans of pop-punk, prepare to meet your new favorite band. They are honestly one of the most refreshing and talented groups I have ever stumbled upon. Their music is catchy as HELL and their lyrics are the most clever and well crafted lyrics I’ve heard since early Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy. Unfortunately they’ve only made two albums, and sadly don’t have any plans for more, but if you take the time to look these guys up, those two albums will be on repeat in your car for the next six months. Trust me, I know.

Outrage defines it’s sound right away with a poppy synth line, and then the song just explodes. When you listen, you can tell these guys are just rocking out with all they have. The drums pound, and the guitar is just perfect. The music isn’t complicated, but every single piece of this song from start to finish is amazingly catchy and sing-alongable (if that’s a word). Frontman Bryson Phillips’ voice is incredibly clean, and he can sing in a way that makes every note simply shine. The verses are very clever and well sung, with lyrics like, “You finally fit into my shoes, I’m never dressed for the occasional invasion of surprises.” That’s the kind of wit and humor you’ll find throughout the entire track. The harmonies in the verse are very pleasing as well. After the verse, there’s a wonderful build up of tension with a pre-chorus that you know is going to go into a blistering chorus. Does it ever.

The chorus is going to get you. It’s going to snag you from the first note. I literally cannot describe how good this chorus is. The chord progression and sung notes just perfectly work. They have that great build up and resolution that makes it so pleasing to listen to. There’s so much power behind the music, it just hits you like a ton of bricks. The band plays full force and Phillips just lets it go with his singing. The harmonies just take it to another level of awesome here too.

After the chorus, there’s a great bridge where the band gets to flex it’s musical and creative muscles by picking up the pace. Phillips again sings extremely well and fires off notes in rapid succession. Then it goes into the next verse, which is done acapella and it fits so well. The normal chorus drum beat changes to hits on every beat, which makes the ending more frenetic and harder hitting. Then on the last chorus Phillips sings the lines higher and the band closes out with the gang vocal line “THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!” It’s great, great stuff.

This song has everything you’re looking for in a great summer song, or really an anytime song. I can only summarize it exactly the way I did before: extremely clever, insanely catchy, and great, rocking instrumentals. You can tell the band had fun making this song, and the whole album if you give it a listen (I’ll probably post more from them in the future, too.) This is literally the perfect pop-punk track, and if you give it the chance, it may end up being your favorite song.

As always, let me know what you thought in the comments below. Is this band as fantastic as I say they are? Am I delusional? Let me know below! Thanks again!

#12 – Clique

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Artist – Kanye West, Jay-Z & Big Sean
Album – Cruel Summer
Year – 2012
Genre – Hip-Hop/Rap

Say what you will about his ego, but Kanye West is arguably the most successful rapper of today. Not only does he consistently produce extremely well crafted albums, but his record label, G.O.O.D. Music, released Cruel Summer last year. The album showcases artists who are signed to the label, and the majority of the songs feature West himself. It’s a very good album, but this track absolutely stands out above the rest.

The opening soulful vocals will give you goosebumps. James Fauntleroy, who I honestly have never heard of before, sings the introduction. Though he is literally in the song for about ten seconds, after listening to the song, I wish he had kept singing because that beginning is so good. It’s amazing how much emotion and soul you can get out of that ten seconds, especially the first line, “What of the dollar you murdered for?” Then the beat begins, and oh my God is it awesome. It’s low, it’s slow, and it’s sensual. Also the vocalized sounds in the background are a unique touch that adds some cool texturing. Big Sean begins the song with the repeated hook and then his verse. The hook in this song is addictive. You will find yourself saying “Ain’t nobody fresher than my motherfuckin’ clique,” around your friends. And the last line in the hook, “And all these bad bitches man, they want the…” When my friends and I heard that line, we all went “OH MY GOD THAT’S SO GOOD!” It’s such a clever and totally badass line. The melody before the verse builds up and then Big Sean starts his verse. Surprisingly, Big Sean is the best rapper in this song without a doubt. His flow is better than Jay-Z and Kanye here, and his line about “pulling up in that Bruce Wayne” is extremely clever. He finishes strong, and the hook repeats.

Jay-Z is next, and he comes in a close second for his verse. He raps about his wealth and his women, but he does it very well and with great style and flow. The lines where he raps about his money multiplying is extremely enjoyable to listen to, and he holds his own with panache.

Continuing after the next hook is Kanye’s verse, which of course is longer than everyone else’s. Even though he is a very talented rapper, he comes up a little short here. There’s really nothing new or special about this verse, as he raps about how awesome he is (as usual), and claiming that he can “eat breakfast at Gucci.” Really, that’s pretty much it. This verse is really mostly about his ego, which is not a bad thing, but I was hoping for something more clever or new. If you like Kanye in general, you’ll have no problem with this verse at all though.

The song finishes with one last hook, and then the music stops after Big Sean finishes with that last, oh so clever line. Regardless of some of the typical rap song lyrics, this song is worth it for the beat alone. It’s dark as midnight, and sexy too. It’s a great rap track that shows off three of the biggest rappers in today’s game to great effect. So to summarize: come for the talent, stay for the music and the beat. Big Sean really steals the show with this one, but I’m curious to hear who you liked best. Leave your pick in the comments, and also if you liked this track or the review.