American Football’s New Album

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Despite release dates of more than a decade apart, the new album from American Football, American Football (LP2) shares a remarkably consistent sound with the 1999 album American Football. (If you’re new here, yes, that’s two self-titled albums, not including the original self-titled EP).

If anything, the band’s skills as musicians have grown, the impressive guitar riffs slightly more intricate and tighter (although only slightly- the original album is so well-written and well-played that there is little room for improvement). They still rely heavily on carefully constructed, intricate, overlapping guitars in interesting tunings, starting from a single riff and building to huge, beautiful swells.

The biggest change is in the lyrics and vocals. The lyricism is still plain-spoken and heartfelt, but brings a more matured, poetic flavor. Check out beautiful lyrics like “where are we now?/ both home alone/ in the same house” in the opening track, “Where Are We Now.” (The whole album is named like a collection of Shakespearean Sonnets, each track titled after the first line of the lyrics, although long intros make it difficult to notice in many songs.)

 

The vocal melodies have a wandering, meandering feeling to them, as if you don’t know exactly where they are headed, but you can tell it’s going to be a lovely journey. This album also features vocal harmonies which parallel the careful instrumental layering. The vocals are cautious not to distract from the guitars, and the songs still have plenty of instrumental interludes, but the vocals are pushed further forward than in the previous album, which had vocals so understated that they felt almost an afterthought.

This is perhaps because Kinsella’s vocals are much, much stronger than they once were. His confidence as a singer was somewhat low in 1999, but 17 years is a lot of time to improve a craft. His range is improved, but also the songs are pitched more carefully. In an interview in 2015, Kinsella said of the 1999 album “we were so young and naive… Now I’d be like ‘well let’s drop that song like, six steps so I could hit some notes’ but at the time it was like, ‘well the song’s there, I’ve got to hit those notes.’” And it seems in this new recording he’s indeed no longer stretching beyond his skill.

The entire album is a treat, and the song-to-song flow is so well constructed, it’s difficult to recommend individual tracks, but in addition to “Where Are We Now,” “I Need a Drink (or Two or Three)” will be loved by both old and new fans.

The album’s only single, “Desire Gets in the Way“, is perhaps the most un-like the old music.

It features a more playful beat and vocal melody that feels almost country-inspired, showing the band’s Midwest origins in a way most of their music does not. Those looking for only more of the same might dislike it at first, but give it more than one listen and it’s likely to grow on you.

Want to hear more about American Football? Check The Story of American Football

 

 

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The Story of American Football

American Football released a new album in 2016, making one of the most unexpected comebacks, and most interesting stories, in modern music.

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The band, featuring guitarist/bassist/singer Mike Kinsella, drummer/trumpet player Steve Lamos, and guitar player Steve Holmes, was originally only active between 1997 and 2000.

In that time, they put out one EP in 1998 (creatively titled American Football) and one LP in 1999 (also creatively titled American Football). They played to a small, but passionate fan base who loved their intricate, overlapping guitar pieces and creative, precise drum patterns. Unlike many of the loud punk and rock bands popular at the time, American Football focused on complex, almost math-rock riffs in alternate tuning and time signatures, paired with soulful lyrics, like those in the LP’s opening track, “Never Meant.”

 

 

But a little over a year after the album’s release in 1999, the band mutually decided to part ways. Fans were heartbroken, but what can you do? Thousands of local bands get together and break up every year. The members moved to different cities, they got married and had families. As singer Kinsella described it, they “weren’t kids who wanted to […] tour all summer” anymore. For any other band, that would have been the end of that.

Except…

Instead of fading into memory as one would expect, American Football continued to grow in popularity. That small but loyal fan base continued to share the music, and despite no encouragement from the band itself, the fan base grew. Their guitar style, which would later be referred to as “twinkling,” was inspirational to later bands like This Town Needs Guns, and Algernon Cadwallader.

In 2014, Polyvinyl Records released a deluxe version of the self-titled album, which did unexpectedly well, hitting the billboard charts. Both new and old fans were excited to hear a re-release of excellent songs like “Honestly?” and “But These Regrets are Killing Me” in addition to some previously un-released tracks.

The album re-release was so successful that, after 14 years apart, the band decided to get back together, eventually recording and releasing a new album in 2016. As Holmes said, “the time was ripe for three middle aged dudes to play some old songs about teenage feelings.”

The new album is creatively named, you guessed it, American Football (LP2).

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Want to hear about the new album itself? Check out American Football’s New Album 

 

Band Profile: Smallpools

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If you’re looking for some fun summer jams, and you don’t already have some Smallpools songs on your beach or road trip playlist, you are missing out.

Smallpools is a Los Angeles-based indie band made up of singer Sean Scanlon, guitarist Mike Kamerman, and drummer Beau Kuther.

Smallpools’ music has a fun, party vibe without taking away from content and quality. Fast drums, catchy choruses with strong backing vocals, and creative lyrics come together to make music that will get you up off your feet and dancing.

 

Their first single, “Dreaming” is far and away their most popular song, but if you’re only listening to the chart-toppers, you are missing out on some excellent deeper tracks. Check out other winners like “American Love,” “Street Fight” and “Admission to Your Party.”

The band formed in LA in 2013 and quickly released their first single, “Dreaming” which reached #23 on Billboard’s Alternative Song chart, has continued to be a fan-favorite. They released a self-titled EP with RCA Records shortly after, and a full-length album, LOVETAP! in 2015.

It’s likely you’ve caught their track “Over and Over” from a popular Snapchat promo video, or their most recent single “Run With the Bulls.”

Keep an eye out for Smallpools’ new music, which apparently is coming soon. The band’s website frustratingly gives no concrete info on when music is coming, other than “New music Summer ’17,” so hopefully that means something soon. They’ve also got a tour scheduled for late summer/early fall, so if they are coming to your town, it’s a safe bet for a fun time.

 

[Photo credit]

Blink 182 STILL Putting Out New Music

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While many pop-punk bands of the late 90’s and early 2000’s have come to their natural ends, Blink-182 is powering through, continuing to release new music as they celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band. This Friday (May 19, 2017) Blink-182 released the deluxe version of their newest album, California (released July 1, 2016).

The album, the first since the band’s break with original vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge and addition of former Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba,  was already a lengthy one, with 16 tracks totaling just over 42 minutes on the standard version. The deluxe version features 11 additional original songs, as well as an acoustic recording of the single “Bored to Death.

 

The new tracks, including “Parking Lot,” “6/8,” and “Hey I’m Sorry,” have received mostly positive reviews, in keeping with the rest of the album. The sound is in keeping with the band’s early work, but seems to be nostalgically revisiting the tone, as opposed to clinging to something lost. Despite the change in the band’s line-up, the sound and feeling is largely unchanged.

The additions to the album also includes collaborations with RAS (Nicholas Furlong) on the track “Good Old Days” and with songwriter Simon Wilcox on the track “Bottom of the Ocean.”

Twenty One Pilots’ Song “Heathens”gaining traction from Suicide Squad Soundtrack

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Twenty-One Pilots are adding to the Suicide Squad soundtrack with their new song, “Heathens.” They join an interesting group of musicians for the project, including Eminen, Panic at the Disco, Skrillex, Lil Wayne, and even Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The popularity of the band and the excitement for the movie has already brought “Heathens” to number 14 on the U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100.

The single features a similar sound to the band’s most recent album, Blurryface, with vocal distortion, introspective lyrics, slow keys and bass, and a creative but not overpowering beat.

Watch the music video, featuring the Suicide Squad characters, here:

Band Profile: The Front Bottoms

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The Front Bottoms are an indie-rock/ folk-punk band from New Jersey, originally consisting of only Brian Sella on vocals and acoustic guitar and Mat Uychich on drums in a set-up often described with the phrase “it shouldn’t work, but it does.”

Their style is profoundly unique and raw; it carries the simplicity and relatability of folk rock, with the power and emotion of punk. Brian’s lyrics somehow manage to be specifically an articulation of his own experiences, and yet at the same time feel as if they are common to us all.

After a number of self-released EPs in 2007-2010, the band finally put out a self-titled album with label Bar/None in 2011, followed by Talon of the Hawk in 2013. The latter of which contains the song “Twin-Sized Mattress”- a crowd favorite (and excellent representation of the band’s sound, if you’re looking for a sample).

 

The addition of Tom Warren on bass and Ciaran O’Donnell on guitar, keys, and trumpet, as well as the band’s move to Fueled by Ramen made some changes to the sound of their newest album. Back on Top has a more polished and electric feel, moving away from the simplicity of the solo acoustic guitar. While different, the album maintains the band’s standard of excellence. New favorites include Cough It Out, West Virginia, and Summer Shanty.  Even the B-side tracks (Ginger, 2YL) are fun and memorable. Although older fans took some warming up to the difference in sound, the overall response is positive.

Here’s “Cough It Out” from Back on Top 

In addition to fun and relateable music, one thing I personally really enjoy about this band is their music videos. All their videos are fun and enjoyable, without taking focus away from the music itself. Even now they seem to retain the simplicity and lovability of the early videos, which all look like they were made on an $8 budget. They, like the music itself, feel like they were made by really talented friends of yours, like this is something accessible and right here for you, no pretentiousness needed.

Check out the videos for BackflipFunny You Should Ask, and West Virginia  to see what I mean.

Radiohead back with new song

After temporarily removing all traces of their online presence, Radiohead surprised fans this week with a new song, “Burn the Witch,” complete with a creepy, claymation video you never asked for, but always needed.

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After drawing attention by deleting every post from the band’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the band dropped two small clips at teasers before launching the full video today.

The video, highly speculated about in the band’s silence, is fun and interesting to watch, but don’t let it distract you from the really interesting things happening musically in this new single.

Watch the full video here

Miike Snow’s Adorable “Genghis Khan” Music Video Going Viral

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Miike Snow (who, if you didn’t know, is a band, not a person) released the music video for “Genghis Khan” in January, so this is hardly breaking news. The video has, however, been increasingly shared online, now having more than 4,000,000 views on YouTube alone. The second single of their latest album, iii, features an adorable and hilarious plot of a cliché evil villain falling in love with his James Bond-style nemesis.

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It pairs drama with cute dance moves, more akin to what one would expect in a Fred Astaire musical than in a pop song, but it somehow perfectly complements the song’s serious content and yet fun, catchy sound.

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Watch it, or check out the whole album, at miikesnow.com 

Local Band Profile: In Her Own Words

In Her Own Words is a Los Angeles local Pop-punk band that if you haven’t heard, you are missing out.

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The classic pop-punk sound is still alive and well in southern California, and still rocking in basement shows and emptied-out backyard pools the way so many of us in East Coast suburbs only imagined. If not always literally in that type of show, this band still embodies that SoCal vibe with their rocking riffs and fast, hard lyrics. They are Blink-182 meets Real Friends, with impressively controlled vocals and rhythm.

Since 2010 the band has put out three EPs and one full length album, all independently produced. “East and West,” the 2014 EP, features acoustic versions of five songs from the earlier album “Everything I Used To Trust,” giving fans a chance to really see the wide range of talent the guys have.

Catch them local in LA, or check out their music through their facebook page here, or download on iTunes.

 

[Photo source]

New Single Release: Santana’s “Leave Me Alone”

Fans of all ages have been long anticipating Santana’s new album, Santana IV, featuring a majority of the classic, Woodstock-era lineup.

Following the single “Anywhere You Want To Go” (released Feb 5th), the band put out “Leave Me Alone” this Friday (April 8th) as a teaser for the album release of Santana VI next week, on April 15th, 2016.

Very much a band of their time, Santana has not released the single streaming anywhere online, but can be purchased alone on Amazon or iTunes, or with the full album next Friday.