Light The Way – False Memory Syndrome – REVIEW

Pop-punk is a genre that has stood the test of time and it continues to provide us with iconic bands. Bands which have not just defined the genre, but coloured it’s zeitgeist and shaped the course of music history – for every successful band is standing on the shoulders of it’s predecessors. So there is always an amount of influence, no doubt. The genre has exploded, and while it’s given us some gems, it’s also granted us a great deal of stagnancy and mediocrity too. The sheer quantity of carbon copy pop-punk bands these days has caused something of an identity crisis and it’s increasingly rare to find something outwardly and distinctly original. And into the fold step Sacramento’s Light The Way.

They are another who are anchored by those before them, except we’re reaching back for the most part in decades. With a sound heralding of the 90’s and 00’s, their debut full album False Memory Syndrome is something of a throwback to the likes of Yellowcard, The Offspring, Sum 41 and New Found Glory. Somewhere in the mix a fresher note can be detected though, but it’s a fleeting dash of Neck Deep, or a weight more associated with The Story So Far. Make no mistake though, the predominant sound is of old-school pop-punk.

If one thing is constant about pop-punk though, it’s singing about your friends, your parents and your hometown. Not much has changed here, opening intro Bruh leads straight into But My Mom Says I’m Cool. The distant, soaring chorus is straight out of a Yellowcard textbook, whereas the chalky, screechy style found in Thrillhouse could easily be mistaken for Deryck Whibley. Both songs are rampant homages, yet carry a finesse traceable to Knuckle Puck. The following interlude Put A Sock In It Roy is equally as Sum 41-esque for twenty-nine seconds of aimless, indeterminate rage.

The next three tracks continue to resurface old fragrances with wild changes of direction in between. Broken Hearts opts to change pace, as a bassline lead intro sets a Green Day vibe, to be unpredictably pivoted into a bouncy, synthetic style – the resulting sound resembles that of Asteria. Brain Rot is classic The Offspring but laced up with a hellish pop-punk blastbeat – again Knuckle Puck-ish. Veritas is a sore thumb though, it’s like a long-lost Linkin Park excerpt which is somewhere it doesn’t belong.

Lost The Handle and Still Edge work brilliantly as a pair, both including screeching guitar parts much like pop-punk newcomers Giants. The former is calmer and brighter vocally, a nod towards Mark Hoppus – but the drift to more recent pop-punk tones is more prominently explored on the latter, where there are relentlessly nauseous verses, drudging build ups, and harsh vocals.

Even though it’s late in the album, Light The Way show great awareness to reserve their trump card Holy Ghost for penultimate billing. After showcasing so much influence up to this point, this is their most original sound, which in effect translates influence directly into originality. This is sharply u-turned by Snapping Necks And Cashing Cheques which is outright New Found Glory with better vocals. It’s whingey in the right way, pop-punk at it’s finest and an excellent, summarising parting shot.

The familiarity of 90’s/00’s pop-punk is smartly fused with modern incarnations of the genre, so it’s a pleasant nostalgic journey for the mid-twenty audience yet one with surprising, serendipitous moments. A palpably deliberate sound affords something for pop-punk bands right across the board to access – and given how fans of the genre tend to pick and polarise, this means Light The Way are a marketable sound. False Memory Syndrome is a pre-meditated effort, a reprisal which takes the listener back and forth through essentially the entire pop-punk timeline and arrives at something which is carefully considered and original. This manifests as versatility rather than plagiarism, and in a genre which struggles immensely with homogeneity, Light The Way are a breath of fresh and familiar air: 10/10.

 

False Memory Syndrome is out 30th March via Indie Vision Music. Head over to their Facebook in the meantime.

as it is

Live: As It Is, O2 Academy 2 Birmingham – 13/3/2018

The night had sold out in advance and the room was pretty filled up before Grayscale kicked off. With the crowd already starting to crowdsurf within minutes of the band playing, the keen fans were obviously ready for showing the supporting acts a good time. They embodied the ‘typical’ pop punk aesthetic with each member jumping and spinning around on stage, providing a lively stage presence which warmed up the crowd nicely. As It Is frontman Patty Walters bounced onto the stage for Come Undone, to which the crowd predictably went wild. A strong set to open the show. [8/10]

as it is

As with Grayscale, Like Pacific carried on the energy with Jordan Black’s harmonic vocals, driving guitar chords and upbeat drum rhythms. The tightness of their recorded music was present throughout the set, being displayed in tracks like Richmond22A and Commitment, which went down a treat with the onlookers. The crowdsurfers kept coming over the barrier, only growing in number for each supporting act – an exciting prospect for the headliners’ set. [7/10]

The main support came in the form of Liverpool pop punks WSTR. Boasting catchy guitar licks and a slightly heavier pop punk sound than the previous bands, they took to the stage with captivating stage presence as they displayed their experience. Playing material from their Red, Green or Inbetween including Footsteps and Nail The Casket with confidence took even the most reserved audience members into the pit, and the retention of older material from EP SKRWD had the fans bouncing around to South Drive and Graveyard ShiftWSTR know how to please fans of both the old and new, and they may well have won over a few more that night. [8/10]

as it is

Finally, headlining act As It Is graced the stage. Adorned with cut outs and plans of the Okay. album artwork for the OKAY. UK tour, the stage was set for the eagerly awaited return. The band got up on stage a tad too early for their intro, but having to redo their big entrance didn’t slow them down for a second. Each member ran onstage to a roaring crowd, and the fans wasted no time in bringing a formidable amount of energy for their set.  Newer tracks  No Way Out and Curtains Close show the pop punk prowess developed in the eight years of honing their craft, while older tracks Bitter, Broken Me and (the now incredibly rare addition to the setlist) Often showed the hysterical crowd how far they have come in that time. Until I Return saw Patty encourage a circle pit and the crowd happily obliged – willingness to get involved in the pushing and jumping was a given at a pop punk gig.

CO2 jets setting off streams of smoke perfectly timed to the beats of the song brought the set together as a more polished whole. Patty Walters asserted his usual lovable, animated stage presence,  putting the mic to the crowd and bouncing off the energy from the crowd throughout the entire set. Crowd surfers sailing over the top of the barrier in succession, an endless loop of die-hard fans, singing and finger pointing as they reach the stage. Patty slowed things down for a second, he presented a heartfelt monologue about getting through hard times before their track Still Remembering. Lastly, concluding with an encore of Okay and Dial Tones, As It Is finished their momentous set with a bang – a fitting way to end an era. [9/10]

 

At Face Value – Ivy & Echo [EP]

Tomorrow marks the release of Baltimore born At Face Value‘s new EP, Ivy & Echo. This follows their 2016 debut EP release Thick As Thieves.

First track Know It All follows the standard pop punk formula of overdrive guitars, crooning vocals, double speed drums and a bass line that follows the root notes of the guitar chords. It’s a tried and tested formula, and for fans of other similar bands such as All Time Low and We The Kings, it might be enjoyable. For someone looking for a little more depth and expansion of their usual music taste, this is perhaps not the track to introduce that.

Lead single Cinderella is much the same, the drums are hammering away under a decent guitar riff, but the rhythm guitar overpowers the riff too much, and the lower vocals are lost in the mix of the song. The chorus is upbeat and cheerful, however a lot of the vocal harmonies are drowed out by too much going on.

The EP starts to pick up at 24, Still Not Liked. The theme of the song is something a lot of young adults will relate to, particularly if they are pop punk fans. It’s one of the strongest songs on the EP, each instrument has its own place and musically the track sounds different to the previous two.

The listener can expect a change at Overcast (Acoustic), however is immediately confused when the main guitar line is performed by a clean electric guitar. There is an acoustic line too, and together they sound nice. The vocal harmonies sound great and fit the song really well. There is a random line at the end of the second verse where there is a lot of reverb applied to the vocals to make it sound like it’s sung in a church, but it’s not clear why. The overall song is the best on Ivy & Echo, however there are parts of it which aren’t as strong. It’s also not clear why this is the only ‘acoustic’ track, given that the assumed full band original isn’t on any of the group’s previous releases.

The best full band song on this EP is LOTR. The introduction is cheerful and there is a clear lead guitar line and a clear rhythm guitar part. The drums are also less busy and have a better effect on the overall sound. LOTR is followed by another strong track, Return The Slab, which is the final track on the EP. The drums rely too much on the cymbals in the first half of the song, but the vocals are balanced out better and stand out from the guitars much more. The soft harmonies really bring out the best qualities in the vocalist’s voice. There is also a nice piano melody in the outtro, an instrument which hasn’t been obviously used in any of the other tracks.

In trying to do too much, At Face Value have lost a lot of the sense of the music in Ivy & Echo. They are each talented musicians, however they don’t seem to be working together fully to really create something special. The latter half of the EP is much more carefully written, performed and produced than the first two tracks, which are disappointing enough to put new potential fans off from listening to the rest of Ivy & Echo.

Reggie and the Full Effect – ’41’ – Review

Pop punk is growing up. The new school are bringing in genuine emotion and lived experience, singing about mental health and other, often progressive societal issues. The old school, bands like blink-182, aren’t bothering to keep up, instead relying on juvenility to keep a young fanbase happy. It’s not uncommon for older pop punk bands to do this. Harking back to the halcyon days of chasing girls, smoking weed, and fart jokes is almost like reliving times gone by. James Dewees (AKA Reggie and the Full Effect), however, seems to be embracing growing up. Read more

Live Review, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, The Key Club, 16-12-17

Kill the silence

Our first band of the night, coming out of Leeds, post-hardcore band, Kill The Silence. Opening straight away with some heavy catchy riffs, helping keep things intriguing from the offset. These guys clearly have a lot of energy to give, interacting with the crowd and giving us plenty of reasons to interact back. And in a genre saturated with rather similar sounding music, they manage to theirs feel like it stands out with solid song structures and strong vocal work, their particular sound was rather refreshing to the ears. There was great musicianship from four band members, even with a new to the band bassist and certain instrument malfunctions about halfway through, Kill The Silence performed an incredibly tight set, this combined with the rather welcoming atmosphere the audience was giving off made for a solid baseline for them to rest easy on. 7/10.

KillTheSilence-KeyClub-16.12.17-Leeds-18

 

Verdian

Next up in our lineup from the night is Veridian, a six-piece rock formation from Reading, only formed in 2016 and only a year it seems like they are making great progress in their scene, and it is easy to see why. Giving off similar vibes to bands like Young Guns/ Mallory Knox. Their chilled back, high energy style of music helps it feel very accessible to all audiences, their overall sound felt unique for the genre, with each individual band member instrumental parts standing out, solid vocals, unique guitar tones, and intricate drum work. Their overall energy from the set was fantastic, they know exactly what to to do to get the audience interested, giving us plenty of reasons interacted, and along with a packed out house made for a great atmosphere. 8/10.

Veridian-KeyClub-16.12.17-Leeds-23

 

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

The last band of the night, our headliners, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, on their 10th-anniversary tour of “don’t you fake it” which they played all the way through during their set. The incredibly intimate venue mixed with a sold-out show made for an incredibly fun and intense atmosphere throughout. My first impression of Red Jumpsuit is that their unique style of highly energetic pop punk/ pop rock seems to be a great crowd pleaser and along with great crowd interaction from the band members, and in turn which got a wonderful crowd reaction from everyone and made for a really engaging environment.
And this mixed with their great musicianship and a strong dialed in sound, which utilizing solid song structures, gripping guitar work and strong vocals just made for an honestly just great overall performance. 9/10

RedJumpSuit-KeyClub-16.12.17-Leeds-28

HIGHLIVES Release New Video

Bristol’s pop-punk outfit HIGHLIVES have recently released their newest single Nothing Left, their previous EP titled Misguided garnered them huge attention and resulted in them sharing stages with bands like Neck Deep and As It Is.

“The track explores how a negative mind-set can push someone away in a romantic relationship whilst reflecting on the feelings that come with the absence of a loved one.” – HIGHLIVES

Check out the lyric video for Nothing Left below:

Catch the band at the following dates:

SEPTEMBER

Wednesday 20th – Exchange, Bristol (w/ Milestones & Gospel Youth)

Saturday 30th – Deadbolt Festival, Manchester

NOVEMBER

Thursday 9th – The Ballroom, Canterbury

Friday 10th – Harvey’s, Luton

Saturday 11th – The Attic, Torquay

Sunday 12th – Crofter’s Rights, Bristol

Better Than Never

Live: Better Than Never – The Black Heart, Camden 14/8/17

Taking to the stage first was Midlands acoustic man Luke Rainsford who brought in a fair crowd considering he was first up and had come a long way. Opening with Home Safe, Luke played through material from both of his full length albums with aplomb as he always does, blowing away both fans and first timers alike with his honest lyrics and catchy hooks. Closing with his personal favourite track FrameLuke looked as though he was going to cry as he screamed out “I know that I’ll never learn” to an already emotional crowd as the cathartic close to a set that always seems to short from his restrictions – just about the only criticism that can be made about his live shows. [9/10]

Better Than Never

ICYMI took to the stage in the difficult situation of following Rainsford, but the energy and vocal ability of frontwoman Elin Allan stood them in good stead for the set to follow. Playing through their tracks proved to be fairly hit and miss up to their cover of NSYNC‘s Bye Bye Bye (yes, really) which turned the whole set around. The version featured heavy guitars and the attitude of Allan shining through to sweeten the crowd up before finishing with their single Get Out to finish off the set. The band have big things coming towards the end of this year, so keep an eye out – they’re one for the future. [7/10]

Better Than Never

As the only local band of the night, pop punkers All These Years took to the stage. It appeared throughout that the band weren’t particularly well known among the onlookers but pretty quickly gained some fans with their more punk-influenced tracks as they hopped about the stage being generally offensive in the best possible way. Playing through the material from both EPs and latest single What Was Left UnsaidAll These Years put life into what was previously a fairly still crowd, perfectly filling their role as a support for the show. [8/10]

Better Than Never

Coming off the back of their debut EP release a couple of weeks ago, touring newcomers Maypine were absolutely filled with confidence hitting the Camden attic’s stage. They played through the EP’s five tracks with a couple of additional originals, but the real gem in the set was their emo rendition of Fix You by Coldplay which they released back in July (if you’re curious, listen here). The set was filled with enthusiasm, talent and hope – qualities that can are lacking in a lot of new touring bands, which are virtually never captured in the same capacity as Maypine have them. [9/10]

Better Than Never

Finishing up the night came Better Than Never who, surprisingly, drew less of a crowd than Maypine though the remaining audience were the rowdiest of the night by some margin. Blasting through both EPs, frontman James Harris bounced around with no visible intention of slowing down as he hyped up the crowd. Later, some growls mid-song produced a few looks of confusion from those not fully aware of Forty Eight from the band’s latest collection Head Under Water as they expected more pop punk tracks, but that didn’t subtract from any enjoyment on anyone’s faces. Towards the end of the set, Luke Rainsford was floating around the front of the crowd making gestures before he (somewhat unsurprisingly) made another appearance to duet Panama with Harris. A good performance to round off the night. [8/10]

Better Than Never  

Northshore – Alternative Futures [EP]

Northshore, formed in the UK in early 2017, have already recorded their debut EP Alternative Futures, due for release on 21st August via Scylla Records. With this in mind, the listener will be surprised and how cohesive Northshore‘s sound is, as a newly formed band. The four track EP takes influences from State ChampsThe Maine and Dance Gavin Dance, to name a few. Northshore draw all these influences together and add their own twist to it, making something new and exciting in the world of UK pop punk.

Opening with Read Between The Lines, the catchy riff immediately grabs the listener. The lyrics are relatable, catchy and flow easily throughout the song. The second track is the debut single, Better Days. The juxtaposing cheerful music with the emotional lyrical content really grabs the listener’s attention and is an excellent example of the rest of the EP, and the best choice from the EP for the debut single. The opening track also uses this to some extent, but it is more noticeable in Better Days.

Coming Home is again a relatable song for listeners, the first chorus slowing down and asking ‘When are you coming home? I’ve got so much to tell you‘. The musical content is more dynamic in this track, building up and dropping out as required. The second chorus is more built up than the first. This track doesn’t use the traditional verse/chorus structure, and actually ends at 2 minutes 20 seconds, after the built up second chorus.

The final track, Alternative Futures, goes back to the usual pop punk feeling, and as the title track of the EP would make the best choice for a second single, if Northshore decide to release another track from this EP. Alternative Futures has the best guitar solo out of the entire EP, using musicality over technique, and really flowing with the rest of the song, incorporating themes from the main riff.

Northshore have really released something high quality for having only been together for less than a year. Alternative Futures spells out a promising future for the group, and they are already thinking about their next release. Although they have a tough act to follow with such a good EP, they are sure to outperform themselves and release something even better next time!

[9/10]

All Tied Up – Breaking Silence

Southern pop punk outfit All Tied Up make their return to the British Pop-punk scene with latest EP Breaking Silence. The boys have racked up an impressive résumé thus far with support slots for British scene mainstays such as Whitmore and [Spunge] as well as bigger American names such as The Ataris. Not a bad start for a bunch of lads from from Milton Keynes and with an album and two EP’s already under their belt, the band look to take that vital next leap on Breaking Silence.

For fans of that early 2000’s pop punk sound, opener So Enthusiastic will hit all the right notes, coming on like a vibrant cross between the unshakeable vocal hooks of the Madden brothers and the jangly cleans of mellower Blink 182 numbers. It’s a cracking start and stands as one of the strongest moments on the EP. While it’s not a bad thing to have a such strong opener, there are a few things that box the EP in a little.

A small issue is the production, which while not terrible at all, tends to compress the mix a tad, leaving little space for the songs to breathe and some of the heavier moments such as the mid-section of Better Day sounding cluttered and stiff. It almost seems a little unfortunate as some of the numbers on here shine through regardless ; with Master of Disguise coming complete with a belter of a chorus reminiscent of The Ataris best work and the title track’s excellent double time riffery. The lyrics are typical of the genre but work well alongside the musical backdrop covering everything from self doubt, road stories and good old fashioned love.

With Breaking Silence, it’s abundantly clear that All Tied Up have worked hard to craft an EP full of catchy choruses, itch-scratchingly fun riffs and singalong lyrics. They show maturity with strong harmonies and bravery with vocalist Dave Palfreyman embracing his accent and in turn adding charm and identity to the music. Aside from the minor complaint regarding production, this drops just in time for you to listen to it all through the colder seasons and memorise these tunes for summer 2018.

Breaking Silence is released September 22nd on Stack in-a-box Records.

Patent Pending Release Video For ‘Wasted/Wake Me Up’

Having just released a cover album titled Other People’s Greatest Hits, which is full of their takes on huge songs from other genres. Patent Pending have just dropped a video for their cover/mashup of Tiesto‘s Wasted mixed with Avicii‘s Wake Me Up. The video shows frontman Joe Ragosta in a bedroom covered in paint and through use of a boomerang-like effect with back and forth camera footage, the video shows how this situation arose. Check out the video below:

Of the thought process behind the idea, Ragosta had the following to say:

It’s very common and very easy for people to overlook EDM music. We wanted to make these two songs rock so people who would much prefer rock to EDM could hear these tremendous melodies and catchy sing along parts it in a more familiar way.”