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DEMON IN ME - “HERES YOUR WAY OUT”
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O P E N I N G A C T
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55 JAN 17
O N T H E C O V E R
SUBSTREAM'S 2017 PREVIEW We’ve broken down some of the new albums and films we can’t wait to get our hands on in the next 12 months, with new releases expected from the likes of Lorde, the Shins, Brand New, HAIM, and more, and films like Logan, Beauty And The Beast, and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 coming to theaters! FEATURES
10.SUBSTREAM APPROVED We highlight some of the best up-and-coming artists that we feel you should know about, including Belle Mare, Milestones, and Standby Records artists Jesse Smith & The Holy Ghost, I Fight Fail, Light The Fire, and Pseudo Future.
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The New York rapper has been at it a long time, but it seems that he’s currently involved in more work than ever. With his newest album still making waves, Aesop Rock is touring heavily while also contributing to films, video games, and more.
31.JIMMY EAT WORLD
23 years into their career, Jimmy Eat World have just released their ninth studio album. Many bands might find themselves settling into old routines, but this Arizona four-piece still finds ways to keep things fresh in the studio, among themselves, and on their finished releases.
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02.OPENING ACT: LANY 14.THEN & NOW: American Football 18.RadioU: Citizens & Saints 20.HOPE AND A HELPING HAND: To Write Love On Her Arms 22.IDOBI: A Prediction for 2017 24.VINYL ON TAP: Pairing Pacific Northwest Bands with Regional Brews
27.INTERLUDE: Tegan And Sara
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46.PARTING SHOTS: Metric and the Flaming Lips
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EDITOR IN CHIEF
I’m not sure about you, but I’m certainly ready for 2016 to be over. This year presented us with what feels like a record-setting amount of challenges, some of which will carry over into the next year (or four), but starting fresh with 2017 will at least feel like some kind of relief. Don’t get me wrong, myself and all of us at Substream have plenty to be thankful for, but we’re just over the relentless bummer that was 2016. Between the seemingly endless list of celebrity and notable musician deaths, the masses of heartbreaking tragedy the world over, and an exhausting election cycle that still has a majority of the nation in shock, 2016 will be memorable for a lot of unfortunate reasons. Luckily, though, it also birthed a bevy of excellent albums, films, episodes of television, books, tours, music festivals, and of course, memes. In the end, we hope your year wasn’t too bad, and if you’re like us, you’re staying optimistic going into the new year, hoping for all good things. In the meantime, though, we present you with this free digital issue that we hope you enjoy. Happy holidays from all of us here at Substream Magazine. See you next year!
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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Gabriel Aikins, John Bazley, Adam Bernard, Dan Bogosian, Geoff Burns, Cameron Carr, Sam Cohen, Ryan De Freitas, Landon Defever, Tim Dodderidge, Dane Erbach, Kyle Florence, Adrian Garza, Maria Gironas, Anthony Glaser, Heather Glock, Robert Ham, Tyler Hanan, Jessica Klinner, Daniella Kohan, Brian Leak, Matthew Leimkuehler, Brendan Manley, Emillie Marvel, Bridjet Mendyuk, Leigh Monson, Brittany Moseley, Mischa Pearlman, Greg Pratt, Bradley Rouse, Knial Saunders, James Shotwell, Brian Shultz, Eric Spitz, Kevin Sterne, Nicole Tiernan, Stephanie Vaughan
CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Edouard Camus, Kate Daly, Sara Feigin, Taylor Fickes, Alexa Frankovitch, Heather Glock, Kelly Hamilton, Eddie Jenkins, Anam Merchant, Sophia Ragomo, Bradley Rouse, Kyle Simmons, Emily Tantuccio, Jim Trocchio, Claire Tullius, Andrew Wells, Sami Wideberg, Jessica Williams, Mitchell Wojcik Editor’s Note: The byline for the Balance And Composure feature and its photos on page 42 of issue #54 (Oct/Nov) was credited incorrectly. It should have read: STORY: Kyle Florence PHOTOS: Andi Elloway.
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SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
BELLE MARE Making good with initial full-length impact. STORY: Gabriel Aikins PHOTO: Shervin Lainez
When Belle Mare released their debut album, Heaven Forget, at the end of September, I was ready for it. After months of strong single releases, I had gone back and listened to Amelia Bushell and Thomas Servidone’s 2013 EP, The Boat Of The Fragile Mind, and fallen in love with both the dream pop sound and the incredibly affecting songwriting that the unsigned duo embodied. Working with a fleshed-out band and a seriously talented producer, Heaven Forget is a definite testament to the growth of Belle Mare and a great album in its own right, and talking to Bushell and Servidone makes it clear how much care and work went into the album. One thing that’s immediately impressive about the band is that being musicians is not their only job. Although this does present them with challenges, they still find time to get together to write and compare ideas. “We get together a lot, just meet up at my apartment,” says Servidone. “I have a little recording setup, and I’ll have a demo and Amelia will come and start doing some vocal passes over it.” While fast-paced living in New York can interfere with their schedules, it also holds some benefits as well. “I’ll already have some lyrics I’ve written on my phone,” Bushell explains cheerfully, “because that’s how I write down most of my stuff now when I’m just out and about.” It’s also fascinating to hear the two discuss how their songwriting has changed over the past five years of knowing each other, especially since five years can mark huge emotional shifts and growths. “I’m just not a sad teenager anymore,” Bushell jokes as she expands upon being in a happier space.
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The other big difference from EP to LP is that Belle Mare is now comprised of more members than just Servidone and Bushell. The band now includes Gary Atturio, Tara Rook, and Rob Walbourne, giving Belle Mare a fuller sound that really works with Bushell’s and Servidone’s style of songwriting. In addition to the music, the new members bring a good time with them as well. “It’s a lot of fun; the recording of this album was a blast. It was great being with the people we were with and recording with them,” Servidone recalls fondly. The new members of the group are all exceptionally talented as well. As a testament to this, Servidone recalls Walbourne learning to play his drum parts backwards to create a unique sound for some of the songs on the album. The duo also gave a ton of praise to producer Ben Baptie, again citing the new sound and the fun atmosphere of recording the music. Bushell explains, “You have to be open to your sound changing as an artist… Now I’m very proud of the album we produced
and I really like how it turned out.” While the slower, somber tracks are still on Heaven Forget, standout single “Feel You Against My Heart” is proof that the band is embracing the more cheerful, groovy side of their writing. This is not the last we’ll be hearing from Belle Mare, either. On tour plans, Servidone notes, “We’re looking into early next year to get something in the works.” The duo also revealed that they’ve already started writing new songs, along with tracks that didn’t make the cut for Heaven Forget. These tracks, which the two are still clearly excited about, have the potential to be completed and released as b-sides. It’s clear that Bushell and Servidone both love the music they’ve created together, and why wouldn’t they? With a debut album under their belts, a fuller band behind them, valuable time with a talented producer, and a host of great songwriting, Belle Mare is a band that you’ll want to keep your eye on, now and well into the future. S
MILESTONES Masters of strategy and first impressions. STORY: Jessica Klinner // PHOTO: Tom Falcone
Work ethic has always been an important part of a band’s success in the music industry, but that’s even more true today. With crowdfunding sites being all the rage, it’s so easy for bands to turn to those for funds instead of working hard to make their name known. That’s not the case with Manchester, U.K. five-piece band Milestones. Though only a little over two years into their career, the band—vocalist Matthew Clarke, guitarist Andrew Procter, bassist Mark Threlfall, guitarist Eden Leviston, and drummer Andrew Makin—have already made quite the name for themselves. Most notably, they grabbed the attention of Fearless Records without even properly releasing an EP. Having already recorded a small collection of songs, the band had material to work with, but felt they could do better. With the help of producer Phil Gornell (Bring Me The Horizon, Set Your Goals), Milestones began working on what would become the 2016 release, Equal Measures. “We changed our sound quite a lot by the time we were ready to release the EP,” Clarke says. “I’m not really sure if Fearless were aware that we were recording new music. We had a really good relationship with our producer. He believed in the songs, so we were able to go back and redo some songs. We sent it to Fearless and said, ‘This is the EP we want to release. What do you guys think?’ They fell in love with the new songs even more than the ones they signed us on so I suppose we just believed in the new music more so we went away and tried to master what we wanted the first impression to be.”
The result was Equal Measures. The five-song EP is not a typical first release from a band so young in age and career. There’s a depth and quality to the songs that rivals anything small, up-and-coming pop-punk bands are releasing today. “Nowadays, pop-punk is nothing like us so I think nostalgic pop-punk is quite cool,” Clarke says. “We didn’t actually start off wanting to be a pop-punk band or anything like that—we started off trying to be a bit heavier. I think once you click as a unit, you start to realize that sound gets decided through that. I can’t scream for shit so the heavy thing kind of went out the window with that.” After deciding what direction they wanted to go in musically, the band sat down and drew out a timeline—giving themselves a certain amount of time to achieve their goals from releasing an EP to signing with a label. Thankfully about a month before their signing timeline expired, Fearless Records called. The seasoned label is home to the likes of Mayday Parade, Real Friends, and As It
Is—a band that Milestones looks up to. “[As It Is] was a big, not so much inspiration, but more like good way to look at where we wanted to be in a year or so,” Clarke says. “When we started out, we were looking at people like that and thinking that’s what we want to be doing.” It’s safe to say that the guys in Milestones all have good heads on their shoulders. They’ve got a bigger understanding of the music industry as band members than most acts their age, and they’re staying true to their art while also making strategic and smart business moves. It’s a refreshing combination that will likely take them far. “It’s great when your parents or your friends say you’re good, but when [it comes from] someone who [knows] what they’re talking about, it makes such a huge confidence boost,” Clarke says. “Our live performance has definitely gotten better. We know within our own camp that we need to raise the bar and I think we are and will continue to [do that]. It’s just the people we are.” S
SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
I FIGHT FAIL
Climbing higher for the journey and perspective. STORY: Emillie Marvel
JESSE SMITH & THE HOLY GHOST
The fabric of life sewn into song. STORY: Knial Saunders
When it comes to West Virginia’s Jesse Smith & The Holy Ghost, the old adage “legends never die” seems to ring true. The frontman was a trailblazer for the American hardcore scene throughout the ‘90s and the early millennia with Zao, which afforded him the unique experiences and interesting perspectives that have shaped his newest band’s eponymous debut full-length album. The epistle-esque manner in which the deeply personal lyrics are composed convey an ongoing internal struggle throughout the album. Smith expounds on the record’s notions saying, “I was playing with simple concepts of love, loss, change, struggles, and letting go. Over the past five years much has changed in my personal life: Conquering countless addictions, relationships healed, growth... I started to see a connection with my own personal suffering that was brought on by self-loathing and a connection to the spiritual concepts I was raised with.” The quintet gives shape and life to these ideas via an eclectic blend of immersive and explosive sonic textures. Sharing how that came to fruition, Smith beams, “I cut the record by myself with my buddy Brandon Zano producing and engineering. He got what we were gunning for. I had a couple of excellent musicians—Daniel Lee (bass) and Stephan Nicholson (drums)—play on a couple of songs, but for the most part it was just myself and Brandon recording. We worked out of several rooms in Cleveland—from studios and houses to rehearsal spaces. It was a great time.” As a pioneer of contemporary hardcore, one might wonder how Smith sees his new project fitting into the mold he helped create. Smith candidly explains, “Our stuff’s not really metal or hardcore but has those flavors here and there. The goal is just to connect. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be here making some music. If people can enjoy it, that’s enough for me.” With a new record comes the moments that make it all worth the long hours, longer drives, and empty pockets—touring. Those inexplicably precious moments on the road that bind band mates in a bond as close as brothers. In reflecting on recent tours with He Is Legend, Islander, and Funeral Portrait, Smith gushes, “It’s been awesome to be able to hit the road with such cool people that we love and respect. The response has been great. Some of the guys in the band are much younger than myself; they hadn’t had the opportunity to travel so we ventured out every chance we got.” And in a nod to the future of sorts, Smith hints, “We will most likely do a run before the holidays and then it’s pre-production for a new record next year! We are excited!” S
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The voyages weren’t wasted on I Fight Fail. The Ohio-bred band has their destiny mapped out, and they’re headed right for your playlists. Right now, they’re sitting pretty on a mountain made of their new EP, Voyages And Vantage Points, Billboard charts, and countless concerts. They won’t stick around this summit for long, though, with their next peak already in their sights. Breaking into television, West Coast touring, and radio stations are all on the I Fight Fail game plan, along with work on another album—because, hey, no rest for the wicked. To get where they are today, the band had to find their bearings, which sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Guitarist Zach Negulis explains that wrong turns are all part of the journey, and only serve to make it better. “It’s going through something over and over again, so much to where it makes you feel almost lost, learning. But it gives you a new vantage point.” Once you’re standing firmly in who you are, you’ve got to take some pretty big steps to get where you want to be. Touring is an essential part of the process for young bands, and luckily, the I Fight Fail guys have all got a case of wanderlust. “We go a lot of different places all the time, road trips and all that,” says Negulis. Touring gives the band an excuse to see even more—from the history of Philadelphia to the Chicago-ness of Chicago. Of course, when you’re playing shows rather than shopping for knick-knacks, you tend to grow a different kind of attachment to the places you’ve seen. For IFF, seeing the sights is only paralleled by getting to know the people along the way. “We’ve met some really good people, and we’ve gone back again and they’ve become really good friends of ours.” When setting out on a fantastic voyage, it’s good to keep new goals on the horizon, even if you’ve just conquered the last one. While Voyages And Vantage Points will certainly see a lot of stage time at upcoming I Fight Fail shows, it won’t be long before new songs appear on the setlist too. The sound you hear next won’t be the same as before, because the band’s music is constantly evolving. “I think [‘Are You Okay’ and ‘SOS’] combined is where we’ll go in the future,” Negulis says of the balance of light and dark they’re working for. With plenty of touring, music making, and adventure taking in the books for 2016, and the agenda for 2017 in motion, the band’s charted and uncharted territory is undeniably promising. IFF’s past, and future, are best summed up in two words: 2016? “Productive.” 2017? “Explosive.” S
LIGHT THE FIRE
Honesty is the best policy. STORY: Eric Spitz
Healing through music before time slips away. STORY: Servo Sallis
Following up on the momentum left from their debut release under the helm of Standby Records, five-piece electronic post-hardcore outfit Light The Fire put their hearts on their sleeves for their sophomore effort, Ascension. With themes ranging from being doubted by peers to discussing the many forms addiction can take, all five members put their diary on display for the world to see. “It’s about being as honest as possible, and that was really our main goal with this album—just to put it all out there,” says guitarist Seth Davis. “We had so many lyrics and some stuff that was kind of scary to show the rest of the band because it’s very personal.” Blending electronic and post-hardcore successfully is a feat difficult for any band to pull off. A good balance needs to be present, while also not being overly ambitious or too generic. Needless to say, the group felt they had something to prove not only to themselves, but to other local acts in the scene as well. “I think a lot of people, especially in our local scene, were watching [like], ‘Okay, let’s see what you can do now.’ I think a lot of people within our scene kind of doubted us, and doubted that we could pull off being on a more national scale,” Davis says. “This kind of sounds egotistical, but maybe there was some jealousy there; maybe their band wasn’t doing quite what we were trying to do on a national level, and [‘Judas’] was kind of about that backlash we got.” Personal hardships aside, the group did some experimenting on a melodic standpoint for their latest studio effort, dropping the intensity as opposed to cranking it to its limit, like the toned-down pilot track, “Ascension.” “I really love the lyrics to [‘Ascension’], and we’ve never really done anything like that song before as far as a clean, really chill verse,” Davis says. The emotionally-driven release was worked on by two different producers: Outline In Color guitarist See Jay Cochran, who handled the instrumental recordings, and Cory Brunnemann who handled vocal recordings. What’s admirable about Light The Fire is the fact that they strive toward putting pen to paper and continually trying to put themselves out there. The group released Lost At Sea in 2015, Ascension in 2016 and LTF still isn’t done. “We’re already writing for another album. We love to have at least 20-something songs and then that way we kind of weed them out and think of which ones are going to work best for the album,” Davis says. “We’re just going to try and push it as far as it’ll go, as far as touring and getting it out there for people to hear, because we’re really proud of it.” S
Dallas, Texas’ Pseudo Future is still riding high on the waves worked up by their latest release, Time Slips Away, a seven-track rocker that came out over the summer through Standby Records. The reception has been positive for the up-and-comers and the confidence that stems from that is ever important. “People are responding to it well,” says drummer Justyn Gomez. “It’s something we’ve had to ourselves for a while and it’s great to finally have it out and shared with anyone who wants to hear it.” The trio—whose members Gomez, along with guitarist and vocalist Jeff Lowe and bassist/vocalist Patrick Hunter—came into contact through the Dallas music scene, have a sort of mission statement that is as selfless as it is inspiring. “Growing up, there have always been tough times and music has helped each of us in those particularly rough moments,” Gomez explains, “so we always want to release music that can help and inspire people the way that music helped each of us. We want to be able to do what we love for as long as we can and meet as many new fans and friends as possible along the way, anything else that comes along with that is just icing on the cake.” If Time Slips Away factors into the likelihood of a prolonged existence for Pseudo Future, the chances seem to be well on their side. Packed with indie rock both gentle and bombastic in just the right moments, the follow-up to 2014’s Eros EP is deserving of a much wider audience, and will likely find one as word of mouth carries the release along the outer reaches of the scene. Touching on some of the adjustments the band made in their recording technique going into creating the album, Gomez says, “We definitely wanted the record to sound the way the three of us heard it while we were writing it. To achieve that, we tried things like live tracking the drums and bass, using completely different mic setups and placements, experimenting with pianos, organs, etc.” He continues, “It was also extremely important to us that we do all of this in a comfortable and productive environment, hence the reason we chose Orb Recording Studios in Austin.” As far as moving forward now that Time Slips Away is out and making the rounds, Gomez says the band has already been crafting new material. “We don’t like sitting still. We’re constantly writing and fleshing out new ideas. We’ve had a lot of fun trying out some of the finished ideas on the road and the response has been awesome. We currently have plans to tour and support this record and along the way continue to create songs for the next.” S
SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
By Brian Leak
AMERICAN FOOTBALL HOW WE CAME TOGETHER STEVE HOLMES: American Football came together during my sophomore year of college at the University of Illinois. Mike [Kinsella] and I were friends from high school, and lived together all four years through college. Mike had briefly sang in a band with Steve Lamos called The One Up Downstairs. When that band broke up, I started playing with Steve and we eventually convinced Mike to join our new band on guitar. The band and college itself are intertwined in a way that it’s a part of the same thing when I think back on that time. We were young, earnest, and very serious about the composition and structure of the songs, if not so serious about the band as a “band.” OUR FIRST PRACTICES The first few practices would have been just Lamos and I. I can’t really remember much from those, or the first time the three of us played. We rehearsed in the living room of a little house Steve Lamos had in Urbana. We would get together two to three times a week to practice for a few hours. I do remember the first time we got together to rehearse for the “reunion.” That was at Mike’s practice space in Chicago, and I was pleasantly surprised that first time—after such a huge gap in time—by how much it sounded like American Football right out the gates. We’d already agreed to a couple shows, so it was a huge relief that it felt easy and natural and whatever chemistry the three of us had as players was still intact. INITIAL GOALS I don’t think we had any. It was more of a hobby than anything ambitious. We got together to play because it was fun. None of us drank or partied. We all had steady girlfriends. We weren’t into
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sports. We liked music. Getting together and trying to write and arrange these little musical puzzles was what we did for fun. Recording and putting out a record wasn’t even on our radar when we first started playing. THE FIRST “TOURS” Steve Lamos had some old mini-van that would qualify as our only touring vehicle, but we never did a proper tour. We did a few little weekend visits to Midwest college towns, and one trip out to NYC. But we never strung together more than three shows on one trip that I can remember, so there wasn’t much “touring” to speak of. This is true even now in our reunited form. We mostly fly in/out for one-off weekends. The longest tour we did was Japan/Australia, which took 12 days but we only played five shows. We did a U.K. tour where we played seven shows in five nights. But other than those, it’s been largely short, one-off weekends. THE NOTABLE SHOWS In the initial run, any show sort of felt big since we so rarely played out. The biggest crowd we ever played for was opening for the Promise Ring at NYU to maybe 500 people. Our last show ever was one of our few headlining experiences, where we played the Fireside Bowl in Chicago to maybe 150 people. We were never very good live. We had so many tunings and only one guitar each that we spent at least as much time tuning as playing. Now, all the shows are pretty “big.” The first reunion run at Webster Hall, though, stands out as the most exciting and
ORIGINAL LINEUP Steve Holmes (guitars, Wurlitzer) Steve Lamos (drums, percussion, trumpet) Mike Kinsella (vocals, guitars, bass) intimidating experience. We were all pretty nervous, and just trying to get through it without messing up too much. Fortunately for us, the goodwill from the audience carried us through. LOOKING BACK ON THE DEBUT At the time it was totally anti-climactic. We’d recorded in May and immediately broke up. It was maybe less of a breakup than that we documented what we wanted to and moved on. There was never any serious discussion of continuing the band after college; there didn’t seem to be any point. It was almost like American Football was our version of an extra-curricular activity, and since we were graduating that was over, too. So, when the record came out that September I was excited to have it and was proud of how it came out, but since we weren’t playing anything to support it [and] didn’t do any press or anything, we felt somehow removed from it. It was more of a bookend than the beginning of anything. It’s still kind of amazing that Polyvinyl wanted to put it out at all, knowing that we weren’t a real band and that we wouldn’t be doing anything to help promote it.
CURRENT LINEUP Steve Holmes (guitars, Wurlitzer) Steve Lamos (drums, percussion, trumpet) Nate Kinsella (bass) Mike Kinsella (vocals, guitars) THE DEBUT, NOW Listening to the record now, I’m still proud of it. I think it’s a good and unique little record. But it sounds like what it is: Kids. Musically ambitious kids maybe, but still kids. There are parts that we all kind of cringe at, but it’s fine. It’s the best we could do with our limited time, talent, and resources at that time. THE MORE RECENT SHOWS It’s gone a complete one-eighty. In the old days we were a wreck; borrowed gear, agonizing minutes of tuning between songs, no talking or stage banter—just three shy, awkward kids. Most of the songs were unfinished back then, and had sparse, if any lyrics. Now, we’re a “professional” band for lack of a better word. We’ve added Nate Kinsella on bass, have multiple guitars and a guitar tech for tunings and guitar swaps, pedals, a sound guy, lights, etc. The band is comfortable playing in front of thousands of people and we have a professional crew supporting us. Technical stuff aside, we’re also a much tighter and confident band now. Had
we actually toured a bit back in the day, and stuck around long enough to make a second record, I don’t think anyone would care now. People would’ve had the chance to see us, and there would not have been such anticipation for the reunion. THE EVOLUTION IN SONGWRITING I think we’re all much better musicians and more confident in the studio than we were the first time. Mike has really come into his own as a singer and songwriter since AF first recorded. I think Mike (and Owen specifically) is insanely underrated. He’s a far better musician and songwriter than a lot of more wellknown indie crossover acts, but has always been just below the mainstream radar. I hope AF shines a light for some people on the great work that he’s been doing all along. Mike has made a lot of great records (many of them quite a bit better than the first AF record), and he’s never made a bad record. Similarly, Nate joining the band also made a huge impact. He’s an incredibly talented musician and songwriter (Birthmark, his solo vehicle, is also wonderful). Musically, it’s still a very collaborative effort. We all write and arrange together. THE CURRENT PRACTICE SPACE We use Mike’s practice space in Chicago. It’s very different these days since two of the four of us have to fly in to rehearse (Lamos is in Boulder and Nate is in New York). THE IMPETUS FOR THE SECOND LP We’ve been having fun playing together and got bored playing the same 12 songs every night. We decided that if we were going to keep playing together—which we all want to do—then we’d have to write another record. So we did.
certain subset of fans will be against it without hearing a single note. Reception and reviews are really irrelevant though. You can’t absorb an album after one or two listens and evaluate it with any credibility, but that’s what happens 90 percent of the time. Give it five or 10 years and then we’ll see what people think. THE LEVEL OF PRIORITY American Football is still a fun hobby. It’s a distant fourth, fifth, or sixth (maybe 30th) to any number of things happening in our daily lives, but as long as we all still enjoy doing it, we’ll find some time to dedicate to it. THE CURRENT STATE OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL We’re more of a band now than we ever were the first time around, but of course that isn’t saying much. We have some big record release shows booked through early 2017, and have plans for some more extended touring next summer. We haven’t really thought beyond that at this point, but I imagine as long as we’re all still enjoying it the forward momentum will keep moving. S
YEARS OF ANTICIPATION We didn’t think about it. We knew that if we wrote songs we were all excited about that was all that mattered. You can never control people’s reaction, so it’s not worth worrying about it. We’re certainly aware of the expectation, and the fact that a
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introduces you to
Citizens & Saints If you had to, how many bands from Seattle could you name? Five? Ten? No matter the amount, your list is about to get one number higher because we’re introducing you to Citizens & Saints. These Seattle natives have a brand new album called A Mirror Dimly and are currently playing spot dates around the United States. We recently caught up with lead singer Zach Bolen to learn the band’s history and get a behind-thescenes look at A Mirror Dimly.
How did Citizens & Saints come together? ZACH BOLEN: After my family and I moved to Seattle we met some fellow musicians at our church. We started out first by just arranging hymns, so an initial priority was to take commonly sung hymns and rearrange the music—not the melodies—in a way that presented them almost as something new. How did you make the leap from that to doing your own records? We put some live recordings up on our church’s website and got a surprising amount of attention. That prompted us to start writing our own songs and from there things really started to take shape. At the same time, our church was in the beginning process of starting its own music label. The people leading that charge tagged us to record the inaugural record for that label. It was quite a daunting task considering that our band was still really in its infancy stage. Nevertheless, the reception of that first record is still felt almost four years later. A lot has changed since our selftitled release, but without it we wouldn’t be the band we are today. How would you say the way you approached A Mirror Dimly and what it became differs from your previous records? We decided to make a record that was focused more on telling stories. I also began to feel a bit disinterested in making art for just a specific group of people. The gospel is inclusive, yet our music was not. I find it way more life-giving to just make music and not put dividing lines in the sand to say who it is and isn’t meant for. A Mirror Dimly was written for anyone and everyone who would find it to speak to them. Another thing that is different from previous records is that we wrote the music [for] these songs together; that was pretty new for us. In many ways, I
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think A Mirror Dimly is a rebirth for us as a band, both in our creative approach and in the sound and lyrics that people should expect to hear moving forward. And, before someone just writes us off because of that, I would submit to them to listen to A Mirror Dimly and definitively say that it is any less moving than our previous work. In fact, I would say A Mirror Dimly is everything our previous works were and more.
You were writing solo initially, now you’re writing as a group. How does that work for the band? The way our writing process works is I write the majority of the lyrics and melodies and then often start a basic song structure. From there I share it with the band and we all get our paint brushes out and start working on the canvas together. It’s super hard doing it that way. For starters, already in the process
only is he producing the record, but he also has his own parts to contribute. I would say too that with every record it blows me away to see the ways that Brian adapts to really support the overall vision of the band and record. I’ve seen him do that with us and with tons of other bands. He’s hands down the most talented producer and writer I know; anything he touches instantly becomes better. That being said, of course we have to tell him to shut up sometimes, but not without saying please first. Many bands live on the road, but you have set a shorter touring schedule. What led to the decision to not spend as much time on the road? Between all of us there are 11 kids in the band. We love touring but love our families more. It’s super fun to go out with everybody, and especially to get to tour with our friends like Kings Kaleidoscope and Ghost Ship. We feel very privileged to do that. With this type of infrequent schedule, though, comes its own share of challenges. Everybody does something in addition to playing in the band. I focus full time on all the business stuff for Citizens but the rest of the guys have full-time jobs. Citizens is for sure a big focus for everybody, and in a dream world we would love to be able to only do the band thing—traveling around on this same eight-days-a-month schedule—but with the way the music industry has shifted we’re not holding our breath for that to happen any time soon. We make it work, and so far it seems to sit well with our families, too. You’ve said that the band members all get along really well, but how is road life in your van? To date—and watch, it will happen this month—we’ve never had a van fight. We’ve never really even had a fight. Sure, there’s been conflict but we all respect each other and know we all want the best. I probably instigate most of the conflict because I have that unfortunate disease of putting my foot in my mouth, but I’ve experienced a ton of grace from the guys and I think they would say the same for themselves. What advice would you give to other bands on the road? Enjoy each day. Enjoy the company. Don’t just disengage. Continue getting to know one another, and if there’s something that is bothering you, talk about it.
there are lyrics that I am emotionally connected to. If I feel like the music we are writing together takes away from that, it’s not always easy to let that go, which is why it’s super important that before we work on any song, I really set it up well and help the guys to feel what I’m feeling. I think everybody would say that the more we worked on this record together the more the lyrics became theirs just as much as they were mine. It’s all pretty interconnected at this
point. It feels way more freeing when it’s that way, too, especially when making something pretty different from what most people are familiar with. I guess you could say that in a lot of ways I’ve become addicted to the idea of laying it all out there. Your band mate, Brian Eichelberger, produced this record. Does that make the recording process easier or harder? I think it’s probably hardest on Brian. Not
What is on your agenda as we head into 2017? We plan to tour internationally as often as we can. As well, there are still some regions of the U.S. we haven’t gotten to yet. The plan right now is to keep the Live Loved Tour going for a while and hit a lot of those places. We’re just so excited about A Mirror Dimly and so any chance we can get to go out and share that record in a live setting with people, we take it! Lots of people will be reading this article who have never experienced your band before. What would you say to convince them to give Citizens & Saints a chance? If you hate cats, Donald Trump, and suffering then you’ll love A Mirror Dimly. In all seriousness, start with A Mirror Dimly; it’s a record about doubt, faith, and being loved. Whether you believe in God or don’t, we are all searching for meaning in life and that is something we can find common ground in. A Mirror Dimly is a story about my own searching that I think you will relate to in some way, if not many ways. S
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HOPE AND A HELPING HAND
A Conversation With
To Write Love On Her Arms
Founder Jamie Tworkowski INTERVIEW: Jessica Klinner Music and Myspace—that’s what initially gave non-profit organization To Write Love On Her Arms a platform to share their message. Since then, their platform has shifted and grown from grassroots to nationwide. Formed in 2006, TWLOHA aims to be a source of hope and help for those dealing—or know someone dealing—with addiction, selfinjury, and mental health issues. Jamie Tworkowski, founder of the organization, has always had a heart for helping and pouring into the lives of others. After meeting Renee Yohee and spending a week helping her get help for herself, Tworkowski wrote a story titled “To Write Love On Her Arms.” It sparked a movement, and since then he has continued to use words as a form of encouragement—a catalyst to move people to seek help, assist those needing help, and a reminder that no one is alone in their feelings. And like any avid writer, he compiled his many stories, written over the course of over a decade, into a book called If You Feel Too Much (now available in an extended edition with five additional stories). Curious as to what inspires Tworkowski as a writer, we spoke to the TWLOHA founder about being vulnerable, his own struggle with mental health, and why people need other people.
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TWLOHA has always been intertwined with the music industry. Did you see a need among music fans to hear your message or was it just the best way to reach an audience at that time? JAMIE TWORKOWSKI: I wouldn’t say it was strategic as much as those were some of the first friends to wear our shirt and support what I was doing even before it was an organization—back when it was just an attempt to help one person. Jon [Foreman] from Switchfoot and Deon [Rexroat] from Anberlin were really two of the first human beings to wear the shirts. Naturally, there was a real, authentic connection to music and in other ways. Those bands began to share their platform with TWLOHA at times, literally letting me borrow the stage for a couple of minutes before they went on. Back in the Myspace days, they’d move our page into their Top 8.
Even before that, music shows up in the TWLOHA story that I wrote, and music was something that meant a lot, and means a lot to my friend Renee. It’s really been part of our DNA since the beginning, and it’s been really natural to continue that and to continue to incorporate music into so much of what we do, especially events. Have you always been a writer or did your interest to share stories grow after writing the initial TWLOHA story? I was starting to do some writing in the years leading up to 2006 when I wrote the TWLOHA story, but I definitely didn’t think of myself as a writer even when I wrote that story, and probably for a while after that as well. I was just realizing it was something I enjoyed. The book is really a collection of the best of what I’ve written. It’s made out
chronologically so you see that [the TWLOHA] story shows up early in the book, but there are a few things that were written prior to that. Obviously, in a lot of ways, that TWLOHA story changed my life and certainly gave me permission to want to write more and to realize I had this unique opportunity where some people would read my writing, which was something the average writer dreams about. You can definitely make a case that that one story changed a lot of things for me, and the book probably wouldn’t exist—or it certainly wouldn’t have had the advantage that it had to be widely read—if not for that first TWLOHA story. A lot of the stories are very personal. Do you think being this real and this open is something important to you in regards to reaching other people? It’s tricky. I hope that me being honest has made it easier for other people to be honest, especially about hard things, things they’re not sure if they can talk about. If me being vulnerable encourages someone else to be vulnerable or even to end up seeking professional help, I’m super thankful for that. Some of the irony is that the book is sort of this public way of being super vulnerable, but I think in a way it’s another thing for me to do what I’m hoping everyone else does, which is really have real relationships and real conversations in my own life and choose to get help in the seasons when I need help. It’s not like I write every day. I’ve been really honest in moments, but it’s not like I write all the time. Maybe that’s where it relates to what I said previously—my own need to have real friendships and real relationships—that exists beyond the things I choose to share in writing. Since the book released, have you noticed anyone saying it directly influenced them to be more open in their relationships? I’m really fortunate in that I got to hear some of those things before the book because of my work with TWLOHA. I think the best thing that I ever get to hear—and it’s true for our team as well—is from people who are getting help or maybe even chose to stay alive as a result of something they encountered within the organization. I definitely do meet people who talk about how the stories in the book or the book itself have encouraged them. I definitely see tweets and comments from people who come back to it for encouragement or to feel less alone. I’ve definitely gotten a lot of positive feedback. The title of the book comes from your story titled “There Is Still Some Time,” which you wrote about Robin Williams’ death. When Robin passed away, it was a very strange and confusing time for a lot of people because everyone saw him as a happy, funny person. What was it about his death that prompted you to write that story? I think it was really what you just said. I felt the same as so many people—that feeling of being surprised or maybe even shocked that this man that we associated with joy and laughter, we have all these memories of him smiling and laughing and obviously making other people laugh as well. It was just such surprising news to hear that he died by suicide, that maybe he was in that kind of pain when the average person, average fan didn’t know he was struggling. I didn’t want to write about his life. I never met him, and I obviously didn’t know him. I didn’t want to speculate and write a story or an article about his death. Instead, I wanted to try to write something to anyone else who could relate that night, and ever since, to struggle and questions and pain and wondering if life is worth living.
As someone who has personally dealt with mental health issues, do you find writing therapeutic? I think it can be therapeutic. I would never tell someone to write instead of going to counseling, but I have been encouraged by my own counselor to write or even write about specific things at times. I think a lot of the writing I’ve done and the writing that shows up in my book definitely happened in response to difficult moments. I feel like most songs are written by people trying to make sense of something. For me, I feel like that would be true of my writing as well. Have you ever found it difficult to take your own advice when it comes to taking care of yourself and your mental health? Yeah, I think the most specific time period would be for me deciding to
part was making that first appointment and walking into that first appointment, but now I’m thankful because it’s pretty easy for me to talk about my struggles or going to therapy or taking medicine. I’ve just gotten really comfortable because those things have become normal for me. What would you say to those out there who are hesitant to ask for help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness? My advice would be: If you feel like you might need help, to know that it’s OK to ask for help. I’m speaking as someone who has taken that step in my own life, and I’m also speaking as someone who has been able to meet and hear from probably thousands of people whose lives have been changed in positive ways as a result of going to counseling or taking medicine.
If me being vulnerable encourages someone else to be vulnerable or to seek professional help, I’m super thankful for that." go to counseling for the first time because I was already doing this work with TWLOHA and I was becoming familiar with these ideas and familiar with encouraging other people to go to counseling and know that was OK. On a certain level, I believed it—it wasn’t that I didn’t believe it—it’s just that I had never done that, and I wasn’t really different than the average person who might be nervous about that or intimidated or unsure of how that would feel. That’s definitely a part of my story in terms of how I had to learn to take my own advice and finally make a counseling appointment. I like to tell people that what started as the scariest hour of my week actually turned into the most important hour of the week. It’s not that it was super fun or super easy; there was just this feeling of progress, and my time with talking to this other person was really helping. Maybe the scariest
Not only those things, but also people being intentional about having honest friendships and honest relationships. Obviously, if someone’s really struggling and feel like they might be dealing with depression, counseling might be at the top of the list. I encourage people all the time to take that step. Questions even before that are: Are there people in your life you can be honest with? Are there people who get to meet you in your questions and the things that hurt and the things you wish were different about your life? My hope and the hope of our team is that people could find both. That they could find professional help if they need it, but also that they could find real friends who they could be honest with. S For more resources visit:
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HITTING REPEAT ON 2004: A Prediction For 2017
Author: Emillie Marvel, idobi.com
As the meme goes, in 2016 blink-182 released a new album, Pokémon dominated pop culture once more, Surge became our favorite drink (again), and the world basically reverted back to 2003. With the year almost behind us, our question is: If 2016 was a reborn 2003, will 2017 be a reincarnation of 2004? Is the world on a track of repetition, starting over again every 13 years, leaving us to once again enjoy the best bands, shows, and styles of our youth? To be honest, we’re kind of hoping so, because we would love to get 2004 back. It was before the days of Myspace; when cell phones were fugly, the internet was dial-up, and “XD” didn’t make you want to throw your computer out the window. Ah, what a glorious(ly horrific) year it was. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that music will be the first thing to crawl out of history’s recycling bin and grace us with its presence again—and we couldn’t be happier. Just think, this is the year that brought us Evanescence’s Fallen with its breakout track, “Bring Me To Life.” Remember when Amy Lee was dangling off that ledge? We’re still feeling the second-hand fright. Green Day’s well-loved American Idiot also debuted in 2004 and, let’s face it, there’s nothing the world needs more right now than a loud, in-your-face punk band telling the whole system where to shove it. While the band just released an album in 2016, we’re thinking 2017 has potential to be an even bigger year in the Green Day ledger. New albums need plenty of tour support, merch, and guyliner to promote them, right?
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Another notable album from 2004? Eminem’s Encore. The rap god has mostly been dormant for the past few years—except to do things like diss his own tracks and push back his album release date—but he did release his political single “Campaign Speech” this fall and has said that he’s working on a new album, so maybe we’ll get a new release from the real Slim Shady in 2017. Another hip-hop release that would be interesting in 2017? A followup to Jay Z and Linkin Park’s Collision Course. (No, you didn’t just imagine that.) Whatever drew the two acts together is still a mystery to us but we do know we wouldn’t mind if it happened again. And hey, both Avril Lavigne and Ashlee Simpson released albums back in 2004 as well. We’re not saying we want go there again necessarily, but if we have to, it wouldn’t be fair if the two pop princesses didn’t collaborate. Music isn’t the only thing that could swing its way from 2004 to 2017. We already have another new Spider-Man on the books for next year—not that it could ever replace Spider-Man 2 in our hearts.
We might also hope for a sequel to The Notebook, if we had any tears left to cry. 2004 was the year Friends came to an end—which definitely means 2017 should be the year it sees its revival. We’d even settle for a knock-off series that catches us up on the lives of characters like Mrs. Chandler Bong and Regina Phalange. If they’re really our Friends, they won’t be able to refuse. Drake And Josh saw its first days on air in 2004, and that’s another reunion we’d be totally down for—or we’ll just have to go run Oprah over ourselves (just like Josh did in season 4). To truly return to the days of 2004, we’ll have to trim a few inches off of all our shirts and add a few inches of flair to our jeans. It was a questionable time in fashion indeed but we’re ready to commit fully. So bring on the suede boots and belly button rings. Pulling all of the music, television, movies, and pop culture out of the time capsule will be well worth revisiting chunky highlights, because when it comes to reviving 2004 we’re not afraid of anything... except having to text on T9 keyboards again. S
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Vinyl On Tap:
Pairing Pacific Northwest Bands With Regional Brews Feature: Kevin Sterne
In our last issue, we looked at America’s heartland and the best beer and music from the land of 10,000 lakes to the Second City and Ohio. But the Midwest was just a warm-up. Set your compass due Northwest and tune your senses for beer, music, and Bigfoot. We’re hitting the birthplace of grunge and the city with more breweries than anywhere on Earth. The roots run deep out here, so we’re digging out some deep cuts from the last 25 years. Whether you’re into listening to Nirvana or Pearl Jam on wax with Sasquatch, or sipping an organic fruit ale, the Pacific Northwest’s claim as the OG of brew and hard rock combinations assures you’re in good hands.
REDHOOK LONG HAMMER IPA REDHOOK ALE BREWERY
What: American IPA Where: Seattle, Washington When: Year-round ABV: 6.2% Enjoy with Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary (1994)
This started it all: Emo’s sparkling arpeggios; post-hardcore’s stop-and-go tempos and X-Acto knife guitar lines; the soft croons and mid-verse, high-registered screams. When you trace back the family tree, Diary was the seed. Your younger cousin might not understand the meaning of this “emo revivalist movement” happening everywhere—he’ll probably mess with the volume every time Jeremy Enigk’s voice changes from whisper to shrill, whilst getting lit off two Blue Moons. But give him time; he’ll learn to appreciate the enigmatic lyrics, the impact “Circles” has even today, and eventually the taste of an excellent IPA. When that time comes, let him share from your sixer. Everyone deserves to taste the pines of Mt. Hood, but only when they’re ready.
BOURBON BARREL AGED DARK STAR: COFFEE EDITION
FREMONT BREWING COMPANY What: Oatmeal Stout Where: Seattle, WA When: Fall ABV: 14.5% Drink with Botch’s We Are The Romans (1999)
To call Botch pioneers might be selling them short. With two Bush terms looming and the face-palm that was Y2K, the word “oracle” comes to mind when Dave Verellen calls out, “It’s your fault, fucking up the kids,” near the end of opener “To Our Friends In The Great White North.” We Are The Romans is a tour de force so ahead of its time it took wannabe bands years to even attempt a rip-off (suspicious brow aimed in the direction of the Chariot and Norma Jean). And Dave Knudson was already playing his pedals with his hands for Minus The Bear by the time scene kids found “crabcore.” Even though Botch was adamantly anti-Seattle, their bull’s-eyed bastard-child plays nicely with Fremont’s boozy, bourbonbarreled baby. Only a 14-plus ABV stout like Dark Star is bold enough to stand 10 rounds with this record.
ALASKAN SMOKED PORTER ALASKAN BREWING CO.
SHAKESPEARE OATMEAL STOUT ROGUE ALES
What: Oatmeal Stout Where: Newport, Oregon When: Year-round ABV: 6.1% Imbibe with the Fall Of Troy’s Ghostship Demos (2004)
Comb the right hipster coffee shop or dive bar and you might find one of them: A tattered, disquieted soul forever scarred by the epic promise these four demos offered. Don’t be fooled by their grizzly beard or slept-in haircut—the potential Thomas Erik and Co. flashed for such a brief moment in 2004 has left even the most hardened emo-turned-indie cruster tormented and tortured. The only way to fight the haunting disappointment of subsequent Fall Of Troy releases is to down sludge-black glasses of oak barrel-aged stout by Rogue. The winter fruits of figs and dates are just enough to offset the smoky aftertaste.
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What: American Porter Where: Juneau, Alaska When: Winter ABV: 6.5% Indulge with Portugal. The Man’s Waiter: “You Vultures!” (2006)
A beer worth storing. Robust enough to be a stout, this smoky ager might be playing above its weight class, but so was Portugal. The Man when they debuted in 2006. In a time when every band was trying to be Underoath or the Mars Volta, these Alaskan natives piloted a flying saucer and dropped this anomaly on the lower 48. Hardened skeptics and ardent believers far and wide still can’t come to reconciliation over this lava lamp and prog rock fuser. When they do, this porter will be ready.
DEAD GUY ALE ROGUE ALES
What: Maibock / Helles Bock Where: Newport, Oregon When: Year-round ABV: 6.5% Quaff with Gatsby’s American Dream’s Ribbons & Sugar (2003)
What: German Pilsner Where: Bellingham, Washington When: Rotating ABV: 5.0% Down with Death Cab For Cutie’s Transatlanticism (2003)
Two Bellingham originals, a pair intertwined by memories diecast in the annals of time—when Ben Gibbard wasn’t the end of a one-liner, but the main reason we downloaded Limewire; when scarves and corduroy shorts and a mug of German Pilsner weren’t favored only for irony. Miller may have ruined our idea of a Pilsner. Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance taught us to regret. Let’s ditch the scoffing and the smugness— let’s embrace starting over.
A bock is a beer for refined, sophisticated men and women who enjoy pontificating on the many allusions to pillars of the literary canon as identified in the works of American pop-punk outfit Gatsby’s American Dream. One could proffer the very title of this album is drawn from Mollie the horse in George Orwell’s allegorical, dystopian novella. Indubitably, Animal Farm serves greater purpose than a mere beermat.
FULL SAIL AMBER
What: American Amber / Red Ale Where: Hood River, Oregon When: Year-round ABV: 6.0% Sip softly with Elliott Smith’s Either/Or (1997)
What: Hefeweizen Where: Portland, Oregon When: Year-round ABV 4.9% Swig with Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell (2015)
FULL SAIL BREWERY
WIDMER BROTHERS BREWING COMPANY
The beauty of this record isn’t the lo-fi production, or the Beatles-esque choruses, or the lingering reminder that Good Will Hunting was at one time or another your favorite movie. Either/Or’s haunting allure lies in what is not readily apparent: The ghostly atmosphere in the seconds beginning “Angeles” or the spiderweb-thin acoustic guitar beneath Smith’s ethereal whisper on “2:45 AM.” When the clouds over Mt. Hood are gray brains bulbous with rain, when the album’s tape deck click sounds, Pavlovian conditioning will have you sullen, despondent, and longing for Full Sail’s Amber. It’ll pour as dark as the scene outside your window with a scent to complement Smith’s sweet croon. Most of all, it’s palpable with enough earthy notes to backfill the hole Smith carves inside you.
Like Elliott Smith before him, Stevens hardly registers above a whisper over skeletal instrumentation—often just a lonely acoustic guitar. Stevens spent five years writing this album as an outlet for reconciling with the death of his mother, Carrie, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Summer trips to Eugene where his mother left him and his brother at a video store. Swim lessons with a man who calls him “Subaru.” It almost feels wrong to know a man’s childhood this intimately. No beer can stand up to this album, but this easydrinking Hefe is a suitable sidekick.
FRESH SQUEEZED IPA DESCHUTES
What: American IPA Where: Bend, Oregon When: Year-round ABV: 6.4% Savor with Minus The Bear’s Menos el Oso (2005)
GIGANTIC BREWING COMPANY What: American IPA Where: Portland, Oregon When: Fall ABV: 7.3% Appreciate with Modest Mouse’s The Moon & Antarctica (2000)
“Pachuca Sunrise” and Fresh Squeezed are iconic enough to be subjects of deep “Where were you when?” conversations. Late summer nights wouldn’t be the same without the back-half of this album—when we blasted “Michio’s Death Drive” with the windows down; when we surfed concrete on our long boards and sipped beer we thought was as good as this but was actually just shitty Shandy. The enigmatic, watery sounds of Dave Knudson’s guitar and Jake Snider’s cool-without-caringtoo-much lyrics convinced us we actually were into “indie” music. Remember that dude your older sister dated for a few weeks way back in the day? Damn, that guy was cool.
“The universe is shaped exactly like the Earth, if you go straight long enough you’ll end up where you were,” says the mystic Isaac Brock. There’s a quote from the guru, George Clinton, on the bottle of this bomber. It reads: “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” There is no correlation between these two—or maybe there is? The second song on this album was used in a car commercial. What are people made of? Everything that keeps us together is falling apart. Let’s have another Orange Julius.
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BEER SO GOOD THEY NAMED A STREET AFTER US...
CAREFULLY CRAFTED IN COLUMBUS, OH SINCE 2011
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TEGAN AND SARA Photo by Kate Scott Daly
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Old Friends and New Frontiers Checking in with Aesop Rock STORY: Tyler Hanan // PHOTOS: Ben Colen
wo decades into any career, the questions all start to look the same. “What keeps you going?” “What do you think of the game now?” Sometimes the most fun question, though, is the one you can ask of anyone: “What’s new?” Aesop Rock released his first solo album, Music For Earthworms, 19 years ago, and he’s never let up since; solo albums, EPs, and more collaborations followed. Just this year, he’s released his latest album (The Impossible Kid), a free EP with Homeboy Sandman (Lice 2: Still Buggin’), and even a children’s song he wrote a few years ago (“My Belly”). And he’s capping it all off with a 36-date North American tour that will take him into the new year. In the era of anniversary tours and regular reunions, it’s easy to look back. We check to see what album turns 10 in 2017, and dive deep for the references that can be found in Stranger Things. But while much of his style has stayed the same over the years—with the recognizable flow and verbose lines that twist listeners in circles—Aesop is focused on moving forward. “I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally returned to something I was doing in the past in an attempt to recapture whatever it was—maybe because really it’s only fun the first time, he says. “That’s probably an exaggeration, and I certainly have my crutches, but the joy for me is primarily in feeling like I discovered something. The high is in writing that line that you know in your head is something new, or funny, or interesting in a way that feels fresh. The thing is, it’s not necessarily a conscious quest for what’s new.” There’s the thing you’re creating and then there’s how you create it, though. Where some need chaos and movement for inspiration—think your tortured artists and method actors— Aesop’s approach sounds much more sustainable.
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“The other side of that is that in a lot of ways I haven’t really changed what I do,” he says. “I’m still writing in basically the same way, still taking the same basic approach to producing and recording. I think keeping certain aspects of my process consistent has enabled me to focus on hopefully keeping the actual songs fresh.” And he’s still finding new ventures, fields that challenge him. Though his music has been licensed to video games for years, Aesop is now not just licensing his songs for other media, but creating music specifically for it. “Bob Byington and Nick Offerman reached out about having me make some original music for [Infinity Baby]. I believe I was originally suggested by one of the producers,” Aesop explains. “I had actually just finished up doing music for a feature called Bushwick, which was my first attempt at stepping into that world.” Aesop’s composing not just for one feature, but also for a second right on its heels. Bushwick is the next film from Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, the directors of the kid zombiecomedy Cooties, and it stars Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista “cross[ing] a treacherous five blocks to escape an invading military force.” The other film is Infinity Baby, directed by Bob Byington, written by Onur Tukel, and starring a slew of familiar comedy faces—most prominently Nick Offerman. Even with little information beyond the names and premises, both films seem likely to be clever and off-beat—areas where Aesop’s wit would fit well. “The script was hilarious, the cast was super strong, and Bob makes awesome and interesting movies,” he says of Infinity Baby. “We’ve been at it for a couple months now, and it was just submitted for Sundance. The movie is great and odd and I am proud to have been a part.” A great fit and material can still only alleviate so much of the pressure when heading into a new world, especially when that project is something as big and collaborative as a major motion picture. “I’m still kinda nervous in that world; my history of music is me making songs in my living room alone,” Aesop says. “With both of those movie offers, my initial reaction was: ‘I’d love to be able to find my footing in that arena,
diversify and try new things, but I don’t know if I am actually talented enough to do that.’ I’m not really a ‘composer.’ I kinda needed some people to talk me into saying yes. Both were projects that kinda had me wondering if I was doing OK the whole time.” This leads into questions about other new fields. When an artist is comfortable with a creative process, how do they branch out into new areas like soundtracks? “I guess I’m trying to be open to new opportunities,” he admits. “I work all the time but I certainly find a little comfort zone and stay in it. I’ve had songs licensed to games and movies before, but being asked to assist with the tone of an entire feature is new to me.” Aesop Rock’s very lyrical style isn’t easily amenable to most movies, which makes the upcoming one-two punch of Infinity Baby and Bushwick such a treat. As fun as it would be to layer “You fucking dorks ain’t the leaders we need” over a historical revolutionary drama, it may not be the vibe producers are searching for. “It’s strange—my skill set is so niche it’s kinda ridiculous,” Aesop says. “I’ve been struggling in the last few years to really try to find ways to apply what I’ve spent the last 20 years learning to do to something new; not easy.” And these efforts don’t always work out in the ways everyone hopes. “I recently got an opportunity to do something new and big, and at the end of the day, they just weren’t feeling what I made,” he says. “It’s fine, I like what I made and it will come out in its own way, but when venturing into new territory like that, any confidence I may have in what I do is out the window. It’s a new set of rules, new people to please, new goal. It’s intimidating, but I’m trying.” We won’t see either film, nor their Aesop appearance, for a while, but the pedigree of the people involved inspires confidence. Like anyone else, Aesop is looking forward to the finished project. “Nevertheless, I stuck it out and I’m super excited about how everything has come out,” he says optimistically. Intriguing visual art featuring Aesop Rock isn’t strictly the domain of 2017. With his latest record, Aesop enlisted close friend, Rob Shaw, to handle (almost) the entirety of the video content.
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“I kinda wish I still had the email Rob sent me years ago. He, out of the blue, sent his reel, and a funny, onesentence email that made me think I needed to call the guy,” recalls Aesop. “He did videos for the Uncluded record, and then something for Hail Mary Mallon. Over the last couple years we’ve become pretty close friends, and when it came time to start making visuals for The Impossible Kid, I just kinda said, ‘Honestly, for me it would be easiest and most cohesive if you pretty much do everything.’” And, save for the puppeteered “Kirby” helmed by Toben Seymour, Shaw did just that. This included clever videos like the video game of “Shrunk,” the autopsy of Aesop in “Rings,” and the fittingly bleak “Dorks.” The biggest and most shareable of these was the 49-minute recreation of The Shining. When Rhymesayers, Aesop’s label, streams albums, the albums need 45 to 60 minutes of visual content for YouTube. “That’s pretty ludicrous, and often it’s easier to put up a repeating gif or just the album cover,” Aesop says. “But at the same time, coming up with 45 minutes of content that may or may not even be watched is a tricky puzzle that can be fun. How do you spend very little on the longest piece in the campaign?” Aesop goes on to explain how they’d gone with simple, clever solutions in the past—things like Skelethon’s go-kart video and and the arcade game playthrough for Hail Mary Mallon’s Bestiary. With The Impossible Kid, Aesop and Shaw were thinking something ambitious. “So I tell rob I need 45 to 60 minutes of footage, and that we need to come up with an idea that’s easy peasy, one long shot,” he explains. “And he basically responds with, ‘How about I do a shot-for-shot recreation of a feature with miniatures?’” That definitely sounds easy peasy. “I basically said, ‘Listen, that’s like the most amazing idea I’ve ever heard, but it sounds like way, way too much work, and it’s due next week.’ He said, ‘Fuck it, pick a movie.’ We listed a handful of iconic movies, of which The Shining was literally the first one named. That was that. The guy pretty much made the entire thing alone in a week.”
The video currently has over 900,000 plays on YouTube, 200,000 more than Skelethon and Bestiary. The Impossible Kid has been met with generally positive reviews, and many of the reviews make a point to comment on the album’s personal nature as spun through Aesop’s particular vocabulary. It’s enough to make one ask about audience interpretation. “I guess I try to balance that. I often don’t really know what I’ve made until someone tells me,” he admits. “The work must stand on its own, but when I’m releasing something I’ve spent years making, I do like to say, ‘Hey, this is what I made, here’s what I have been writing about, here’s my basic approach and some song ideas I was kicking around... Have at it.’” His metaphor is an even more amusing explanation of this approach: “It’s sorta like dropping someone in a dungeon with no map, but giving them a heads-up on what to expect. ‘There’s definitely a serpent somewhere in there, and a hidden weapon that could benefit you, but I don’t really know where. Good luck.’” S
01/06 Fargo, ND @ The Sanctuary
01/09 Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose Tap House
01/11 Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
01/14 Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom
01/17 Charleston, NC @ Music Farm
01/20 Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
01/07 Sioux Falls, SD @ Icon Lounge
01/10 St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
01/13 Cincinnati, OH @ 20th Century Theatre
01/16 Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
01/19 Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
01/21 Huntington, NY @ The Paramount
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Anything But Blue STORY: Matthew Leimkuehler // PHOTO: Jimi Giannatti
he prowess of Jimmy Eat World proves an unmatched feat in modern rock music. The alternative, guitar-driven staple of more than two decades has built a career on capturing an unparalleled musical essence. It’s dark and emotional at times, uplifting and transparent in other moments. The band proves an exemplary soundtrack to an entire generation of the subtly passionate. And, with the recent October release of the band’s ninth LP, Integrity Blues, the band entered another chapter, pushing beyond the Jimmy Eat World fans have grown to know with releases like Futures, Bleed American, Clarity, and Invented. Stepping outside of a comfort zone, the fourpiece enlisted a new producer, experimented with a new songwriting style, and created an album that balances the Jimmy Eat World this world knows with something refreshing and clairvoyant from the group.
“I think Integrity Blues is about looking for what’s the real solution,” says frontman Jim Adkins shortly after the album’s release. “It’s easy to get hung up on the problems, but what’s the real solution behind it all?” Adkins, 40, discusses what he wanted listeners to take away from Integrity Blues. He explains that it’s about growth and acceptance, something that reflects in the songs and, Adkins says, in life. “Are you going to view your situation as ‘brooding in a dark place’ or are you going to view it as ‘here I am with an opportunity for growth,’” he says. “You can definitely do either but I think the album... it might lay out adversity but really what it’s about is transcending that and switching your perspective to one that allows the opportunity for growth, for acceptance, for really getting at the solution instead of being hung up on the problems.”
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PHOTO: Anam Merchant
The band’s now 23 years deep into its career. Jimmy Eat World has captured radio success and earned the affection of a dedicated following. So what keeps the Arizona four-piece fresh after all this time? Having fun and maintaining a need for challenges, Adkins says. “I think we’ve done a good job about keeping things fun. It’s a process of challenges and rewards and you’ve just gotta keep thinking of different, new ways to challenge yourself to get the rewards as time goes on,” he explains. “As you get competent at the way you’re solving the problem, you’ve got to change it up. Otherwise, what are you doing? You’re doing the same thing.”
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“If you’re creating something from scratch you’ve really got to push yourself,” he continues. “You’ve really got to test yourself and [get to] that place of being uncomfortable; that place of uncertainty; that place of setting yourself up for potential failure. Seeing really what you can do is where the greatest reward is. If you’re able to tap into that and be self-aware, then it’ll stay fun and you’ll continue to be a group.” Adkins and the band—guitarist Tim Linton, drummer Zach Lind, and bassist Rick Burch—attempted to push themselves at numerous occasions during Integrity Blues. The record trailed off the traditional path taken by the band during previous recording processes. Instead of self-engineering the album in the band’s home studio, the four-piece enlisted Justin Meldal-Johnsen to produce the album. Adkins says they brought in a “gigantic” pile of song ideas to Meldal-Johnsen, sifting through each until 11 finalized tracks were what became Integrity Blues.
When you put yourself outside your comfort zone, you get rewards that are literally beyond your expectations. That’s an exciting place to find yourself.” —JIM ADKINS
The process wasn’t standard for Jimmy Eat World, Adkins says. The band often demos and re-demos tracks in-studio until each song is ready to take into final production. This time, though, it was about stepping away from that mold. The results bleed through with each track. While the record maintains an aesthetic whole, each individual number sits differently than the track that came before it. The record’s opening number, “You With
Me,” owns an unmistakably Jimmy Eat World aural bliss, while the record’s fourth track, “Pretty Grids,” harnesses an electronic underbelly juxtaposed against a piano-and-guitar-driven melody. It balances the Jimmy Eat World sonic experience of the last two decades while pushing boundaries enough to present an entirely new take on the group. “We’re pretty into recording,” says Adkins. “We have our own studio and we’ve cut records there before. We’ll demo and re-demo out anything that we want to try with a song like five or six times before anybody hears it. By that point it’s almost like the record’s done and you’re going into [the studio] to rerecord to beat the sounds that you got. It’s all baked in the cake pretty much. With the Integrity Blues experience all of it was completely up for discovery as we were working.” Adkins and Jimmy Eat World used uncertainty to their advantage when creating Integrity Blues. “I don’t want to make it sound like there was doubt in us,” Adkins says, calling in from Los Angeles. “When I say uncertainty, I mean like leaving your comfort zone.” “Pass The Baby”—a five-plusminute transformative number where an electronic backbone collides with a calculated breakdown—proves to be a stand-out track on the album. Adkins says the song, which strays from the standard verse-chorus-verse format, had been on the table for a while. When mentioning the need to step outside of a comfort zone with creating something from scratch earlier in the conversation, this track comes to the forefront. It bears the Jimmy Eat World stamp the way every song in the band’s discography carries a certain sound, but it also differs from what fans know best. “[‘Pass The Baby’ has] been sitting around for a while but we always kind of looked past it because other ideas [were] more in keeping with what we are used to,” Adkins says. “Going into making Integrity Blues it’s exactly those types of songs—exactly those types of prompts, those ideas—that we wanted to zoom in on and make an attempt to develop.” The band’s producer, MeldalJohnsen, worked with artists the likes of Paramore, Beck, Nine Inch Nails, and M83 in the past. On the role he played as a needed “outsider” in creating Integrity Blues, Adkins says, “We explained to him what we wanted to get out of the record; that we were willing to take his direction. We wanted him
to push us as an outsider and not as part of our bubble. We wanted him to push [us] in directions that he felt were just... cool. Even if he didn’t know exactly why, [if] he felt like an idea had potential [we wanted him] to push us in that direction. We didn’t want to end up pursuing things we could nail because it’s easy for us.” “He played a huge role in the song choice that went into making the record,” he explains. “We [had] this gigantic stack of ideas for things. We’d still be making a record now if he didn’t make some choices about where we directed our effort.” Will the songs and ideas that didn’t make the Integrity Blues track list eventually see the light of day? Of course, Adkins says. “We’ll end up finishing things for sure,” he confirms. “By the end of making the record, it was an exhaustive push. It always is. No matter how much time you give yourself, you’re always scrambling until the last minute. Everything ends up into a song eventually. It might take seven years, but it’ll end up into a song. We intend to keep writing and making music.” The group took a year break after a run of dates in 2014 to celebrate 10 years of the band’s heralded 2004 album, Futures. Those who caught the tour saw the band perform the record start to finish, through each of the album’s defiant cuts. After running through the Futures tracks, the band returned to the stage, delivering a second set of Jimmy Eat World numbers not found on the album. After completing this run, the band took a year off. Adkins toured solo, releasing a collection of tracks and playing gigs with his acoustic guitar. He called the experience both “great” and “terrifying.” “If anything,” he says, “it reaffirmed that idea of when you put yourself outside your comfort zone, you get rewards that are literally beyond your expectations. That’s an exciting place to find yourself.” He further explains the differences between commanding a crowd as a member of a band versus being the center of attention in a solo, acoustic setting. “When you’re playing with a group, you’re responding to what you’re hearing and the audience plays a pretty big role, but you’re a participant as much as you are the director when you’re playing with a group,” he says. “But by yourself, establishing that momentum and the direction of that momentum and the dynamics of it all... that’s on you. You can ramp it up or drop it on a dime and that’s 100 percent based on what you feel the audience is giving back.” Adkins says he wrote the basis for the Integrity Blues title track during that period. The time was needed to secure the longevity of Jimmy Eat World; a time Adkins says, in hindsight, benefited the group completely. “Everything we did in that year we took off was about protecting the band,” he says. “Doing that was a way for me to get together some experience that I’ve never really had before. I [felt] that could only benefit the group when we decided to come back together and work again. It was worth doing.” 23 years, nine albums, and iconic tracks that cross generations and Jimmy Eat World is still getting its music to new places. At the time of this conversation the band had just announced a string of dates in South America, their first time in the region. The group is set to play Lollapalooza gigs in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. Heading into 2017, the band still looks forward to a new adventure. “There are still places we haven’t gone and that excites us,” Adkins says. “I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be a whole lot of exploring. Performing is a big part of what we do and we love doing it.” S
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With 2016 finally coming to a close, we’re looking ahead to the new year and all of its possibilities. There’s already a slew of albums and films we’re well aware of and excited for, but there are also releases that have yet to be announced that we’re expecting in 2017.
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LORDE Title: TBA Release Date: TBA It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since we got Pure Heroine from Lorde, one of the best pop albums of the last five years. Going back and and listening to it, it’s amazing how much it aligns with the general direction that pop has moved in the last few years, with its simple, stripped-down instrumentals and embrace of a lot of ethereal qualities. With a new album coming in 2017, it’s worth going back and examining those 10 songs to determine what we might expect from the as-of-now untitled second album. Something that doesn’t need speculation anymore is the subject matter. Shortly before her 20th birthday, Lorde posted a lengthy message on Facebook about her journey in the music industry and life so far. She talks about the huge amount of emotion that has come with turning 20 and living away from her home, of the joys of living away from the public for awhile, and of being an adult. It’s clear that all of this experience—which would be monumental for anyone, let alone a teenager—will be reflected in her lyrics, which Lorde says are her best to date. Going through your teenage years and suddenly becoming an adult is tough on a lot of people, so this seems like it’ll be an album that many will easily relate to. All of Lorde’s social media posts, appearances, and interviews are great, so she definitely knows how to communicate what she’s feeling. We have absolutely no reason to doubt her lyricism, and we’re just as excited to listen to what she has to say as she is to share it with us.
Sonically, it’ll be interesting to see where Lorde goes with the new album. She could tap into the smart simplicity of single “Royals” and put out a whole album of pop hits that would be sure to go to the top of the charts and be on your radio non-stop for months. “Buzzcut Season” could be another avenue to explore, with a piano backing to the synths, giving off a cool acoustic piano-pop vibe to it. She could also go for the slower, softer sound of “Still Sane.” This might be a more likely choice given the emotional content of the lyrics we’re probably getting. If Lorde wants to get angry though, she could go along the lines of “Yellow Flicker Beat” and her cover of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” from the Hunger Games films, which are both more pointed anthems that definitely fit the subject matter. Lorde could also dive headfirst into the more eclectic parts of Pure Heroine like the warbling siren of “400 Lux.” No matter what direction she decides to go, we know that Lorde’s writing and emotional delivery will make for an excellent release, no matter who the producer is either. That being said, the return of Joel Little would be welcome, as Pure Heroine’s production never lets Lorde down, and the two clearly know how to make some fantastic songs together. It’ll have been four years since Lorde released Pure Heroine by the time we hear the new album. In that time, Lorde has gone through one of the most formative periods in a person’s life. There is surely a wealth of experience that Lorde has to draw from, both lyrically and musically, for this album, and she is one of the most capable people to funnel that into memorable record. Whether we get an album of the wonderfully weird or of pop hit after pop hit, we’re excited to get our hands on Lorde’s second LP. —Gabriel Aikins
CLOUD NOTHINGS Title: Life Without Sound Release Date: January 27 When Attack On Memory came out in 2012, it sounded like a turning point for Cloud Nothings. The cozy, lo-fi fuzz of Dylan Baldi’s previous releases had grown into something more brooding and vicious. “Wasted Days,” the album’s nearly-nineminute second track, showcased the band at a new level of intensity, one that would only continue on the follow-up release, Here And Nowhere Else. These two albums saw Baldi recording with a full band in a traditional studio setting as he achieved notably different results from his early releases. The third album in this context— Life Without Sound, due out on January 27—appears likely to take the band in yet another direction. The first taste of the album, lead single “Modern Act,” takes the fuzzy power pop of early Cloud Nothings and treats it with the precision and intentioned songwriting displayed across the previous two releases. It’s easy to hear the differences, but it still sounds like the same band. “I don’t really know why it happened—maybe were just getting old,” Baldi says of the change. “Every time I make a record, or every time we make a record, the only goal is for it to be different from the last one. I don’t want to do the same thing twice in a row—like ever. It’s kind of boring. It’s kind of unfair to people who like the band, I think.” Baldi describes Life Without Sound as an attempt to expand upon the band’s current skills. He goes as far as comparing the album to New Age music, in the sense that the songs took on a more meditative role, thickening rather than building. Still, this is Cloud Nothings, and Baldi has a penchant for putting restless emotion and gnawing self-doubts into words—that’s one thing that hasn’t changed. “The stuff I deal with is, lyrically at least, just sort of like universal whiny problems,” Baldi says. “I’m a certain type of person. People are sick of hearing me whine, but I think it’s a universal whine.” Cloud Nothings has built a reputation for its vigor and unrestrained energy, but Baldi’s songwriting and the group’s control over dynamics has been an equally driving force in the band’s rise. Cloud Nothings may be shifting, but we’re expecting Life Without Sound to deliver that new style in a familiar voice we’ve come to trust. —Cameron Carr
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BRAND NEW Title: TBA Release Date: TBA At the risk of speculating the release year of Brand New’s oft-delayed, white whale of a fifth record, we really think 2017 is the year, everyone. The band confirmed in a January press release that they would finally put out something new before the end of 2016, then confirmed in a subsequent press release that a new full-length record was on the way… as they delayed it into 2017. Still, dubious release schedule in mind, the band wasted no time in 2016; they toured stadiums with Modest Mouse, released re-recorded versions of 2006’s infamous leaked demos, put last year’s “Mene” single on vinyl, and even dropped a new track in “I Am A Nightmare.” From the label perspective, the band’s own Procrastinate Music Traitors issued the debut record from Greater Pyreneess, as well as Kevin Devine’s Instigator, so Brand New must be next on the table… right? Either way, we don’t know much about what Brand New’s next effort will sound like. The record will serve as a follow-up to 2009’s chaotic, scattershot album, Daisy, itself a stark departure from the crisp and focused indie rock dynamics of 2006’s The Devil And God
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Are Raging Inside Me. If the band’s most recent single output is any indication of what the next record will sound like— and who’s to say if it will?—we could be in for something more structured, with concise songwriting. “I Am A Nightmare” features a hook catchier than anything found on Daisy, and its brief runtime made for a short but significant impact on radio over the summer. “Mene” pulls heavily from Brand New’s obvious Nirvana influence; it pumps along at a high BPM and sounds like the shot of energy Daisy sorely missed in its often meandering rhythm. The band has also added “Sealed To Me” to their setlist at certain shows, a slow ballad which has yet to see a studio release. However, considering that none of these tracks have ever been officially confirmed to appear on the upcoming record, and given Brand New’s tendency to switch everything up between releases, we don’t have much to work with. Despite the mystery, there’s plenty of reason to believe that we’ll love whatever the band puts out next. Déjà Entendu and The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me remain bona fide rock classics, Your Favorite Weapon set the template for countless imitators, and Daisy, despite its flaws, holds up as a fantastic record in its own right. Few groups have managed to maintain seductive secrecy and undeniable quality like Brand New have, and assuming the album eventually shows up, it’s bound to have something worth falling in love with. —John Bazley
LYLA FOY Title: TBA Release Date: TBA Lyla Foy ranks in the upper echelon of hardworking songwriters, releasing new material often over the past few years since getting her start. 2014 brought us her debut full-length, Mirrors The Sky, 2015 gave us her Umi EP, and in January of 2016 Foy re-released her very first EP, 2013’s Shoestring. Each release has showcased different strengths for Foy, all while still carrying the stunningly unique sound that she has. Obviously, with Foy in the studio and new material coming in 2017, we’re thrilled, and based on her previous work, there are a lot of different directions that Foy could go in the new year. We adore when Foy uses a warmer, major key in her music, and think an entire album of songs along the lines of “Feather Tongue” and “Someday” from Mirrors would be fascinating. An entire album of that would also create an interesting contrast when Foy turns her lyricism to more somber subjects as well. A few songs with a vaguely alt-country guitar twang in the vein of “Rumour” could add a great dynamic, too. Lyrically, the work on Umi is top notch, especially the dreamlike wonder of “Tiger.” An album chock full of otherworldly subject matter and warm overtones sounds lovely to curl up to. All that being said, we suspect that the end result will be great no matter what Foy decides to write about. Her ability to reach into your heart and make you tear up is unparalleled. The casual ease in which she bares her soul on songs like “Beginning It All Again” or conjures up touching nostalgia in “Impossible” will make anyone get a little misty. With a combination of an excellent dreamy sound and wordplay that will make your heart crumble, Lyla Foy should definitely be on your radar headed into 2017. —Gabriel Aikins
ALVVAYS THE FLAMING LIPS Title: Oczy Mlody Release Date: January 13 Two truths and a lie: Since we last heard from the Flaming Lips on 2013’s The Terror, the group has organized a tribute album to the Stone Roses, released an album with Miley Cyrus, and fired insanely talented drummer but apparent “pathological liar” Kliph Scurlock. Just kidding: All three statements are, surprisingly, true. Which leads us to 2017’s Oczy Mlody: Is it going to be more straightforward songwriting, or more psychedelic? Has working with Miley Cyrus influenced their sound? Who will play drums on the album? (Will there even be drums?) The Lips are up and down: While The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, At With The Mystics, and even to an extent Zaireeka are heralded as classics or powerful punches, 2009’s tribute to The Dark Side Of The Moon, 2012’s The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends, and 2013’s The Terror are all considered a little uneven, with gems here and there, as the band continues to experiment and push its sound further. Can we expect a gathering of rock and roll stadium anthems? Probably not, but considering the band is wildly unpredictable, you never know.
Title: TBA Release Date: TBA The Terror actually was an emboldening act towards pop. Maybe it wasn’t the most straightforward release (Ariana Grande, they are not), nor the most theatrical (Lady Gaga, they are not, either); overlooking the 13-minute epic “You Lust,” it was a collection of songs that, at their core, were pop, and about the loss of love from life. Still the weirdest band on a major label, the Warner Bros. veterans have long collaborated with acts—between the tribute albums, the Cyrus, and appearances from everybody from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O to Phantogram, you never really know who might show up on the Lips’ next work. What we can hope for is a spotlight shone on younger, up-and-coming acts, and strong songwriting designed to feature those voices, rather than a gimmicky one-off. But what can we really expect from a 30-years-running machine like the Flaming Lips, an album title like Oczy Mlody, and a lineup of the band that hasn’t existed since 2002? Well, we can expect multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd to play more drums, and melody to become more of a focus as Scurlock’s intense sense of ghost notes and funk beats fades away. It might be less danceable—we won’t know till it hits the disco. What’s for sure, though, is that the songs will still be there. And who knows, maybe if we’re lucky, we can get a stadium-sized hook from these headlining rock greats, and we can get a new feel. They’ve never stopped experimenting, regardless of whether it worked. The beautiful thing about the Flaming Lips is, we’d never want them to. —Dan Bogosian
Alvvays’ debut album came out in July of 2014 which may have only been two and a half years ago, but it feels like the band has kept fans waiting far too long just to get a second glimpse. The self-titled debut garnered a heap of critical acclaim—Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie even described the witty love confession of “Archie, Marry Me” as likely his favorite song of the year—but the band has been slow and mysterious to follow up. The hazy debut introduced listeners to the Toronto-based band’s realm full of jangling guitars and nostalgic lyrics. While many indie rock artists take influence from the ‘80s and ‘90s, few do it as well as Alvvays proved capable of. Alvvays blended ‘80s drama and ‘90s nostalgia with the sincerity of 21st century indie rock. At its most energized and synth-heavy, the swagger of new wave comes to mind. At other times, the melted together instrumentals and simmering vocals invoke the moodiness of dream pop. Rumors of an upcoming album started in spring of 2016 when the band debuted new songs on the grand stage of Coachella, which quickly found their way onto the internet. Alvvays has kept a relatively light touring schedule since then and, besides a lone Instagram post in the fall reading “last day of tracking bye-bye la [sic],” there has been no formal news. We can’t say for sure what to expect yet, but the fan recordings of new songs shared around the internet do give an idea. The bright guitars intertwining over synth washes remain. Molly Rankin’s vocals keep a melodic sense of cool in line with the last release. The recordings, each given tentative song titles by anxious fans, have a tendency towards more shoegaze-inspired oozings along with a couple upbeat and driving numbers. “Underneath Us” delivers an almost My Bloody Valentine-esque guitar backbone. “Hey” and “Your Type” pump away with a surf rock-inspired energy. The slower “Dreams” plays out like a somber ballad calling to mind the Smiths. These recordings only provide a taste of what might come—there’s no certainty that the looming album will include these songs or that there won’t be drastic changes. The important thing is that Alvvays has new material and it sounds familiar, yet exciting. We’re willing to wait for Alvvays, but we hope the band won’t keep us waiting too long. —Cameron Carr
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MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA Title: TBA Release Date: TBA After the fascinating journey that was Manchester Orchestra’s 2011 album, Simple Math, they got back to basics—sort of—with 2014’s Cope, a more straightforward rock record that nonetheless hid all sorts of sneaky time changes and subtle complexities beneath its grungy, steel-plated surface. Of course, both the band and their individual members have hardly been resting on their laurels since, with a bevy of projects going on: MO released a chilled-out version of Cope, dubbed Hope, only a few months after the former; frontman Andy Hull issued a live album from his conceptual solo folk project Right Away, Great Captain! recently; and Hull, along with MO guitarist Robert McDowell, co-produced experimental alt-metal act O’Brother’s latest album, Endless Light. Most central to this preview, however, is that Hull and McDowell scored the soundtrack to the Sundance Film Festival award-winning indie comedy-drama, Swiss Army Man, starring Daniel Radcliffe. Much of the soundtrack is a tapestry of occasionally pretty and alternately eerie, airy vocal melodies, loops, chants, rhythms, and practically New Age-esque atmospheres, with lots of programming and some piano mixed in. Sometimes it’s festival folk-pop with the sort of cinematic, widescreen projection one would expect to hear on a soundtrack (“Montage”); now and again a more stripped-back, whispered narrative (“Cotton Eye Joe”) you might expect from Hull’s other projects; and at one point, even a comical “Jurassic Park” cover. It’s really
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quite expansive, and more often than not a far cry from Manchester Orchestra’s fare, as loose and ambitious as that band have been through their plethora of releases. But now those worlds might very well collide on MO LP5. In an interview with Kentucky’s Lexington Herald-Leader in August, Hull told the publication how doing the soundtrack has influenced the band’s writing approach to their next fulllength. “I don’t know if the next record will be of a certain temperament, but the soundtrack certainly struck an ambitious nerve,” he said at the time. “We want to make a really live record, something that we’ve never really sounded like before, and sort of dive deeper into the intent without having to be super, super loud.” There’s always been an interesting push and pull between the band’s footholds in radio-friendly alt-rock that could have had airplay in the ‘90s and the more nimble, storytelling indie and folk influences that largely take up residence in their sound. Now it appears they’re prepared to enter entirely new waters, though one can’t imagine it would totally supplant their bread-and-butter style. It’s not as though there aren’t precedents for this sort of potentially drastic modus operandi overhaul, from the band’s own influences (Neil Young tried his hand at vocoder-enhanced synthrock on his divisive 1982 album, Trans) to bands MO themselves have inspired (Balance And Composure’s experimental new effort, Light We Made). While it’s clear that results may vary when an artist with a well-established, signature sound discovers new freedom in less structured and easily defined output, Manchester Orchestra have always navigated change well, so it’s hard to imagine them missing the mark at all on what promises to be one of 2017’s most talked-about albums in “rock”... or otherwise. —Brian Shultz
PVRIS Title: TBA Release Date: TBA When the smoke clears, you’ll see the fire was only PVRIS all along. The Maryland trio sprang—no, exploded—onto the scene with their debut full-length album and a handful of acoustic sessions in 2014. It’s safe to say it was collectively decided that if PVRIS was what White Noise sounded like, no one wanted to hear a functioning radio ever again. With brutal intensity and breathtaking melody, the group brought down the house on parasites and hypocrites, while making us all believe in their eerie aesthetics. The collective effort of Lynn Gunn, Alex Babinski, and Brian MacDonald is the blackest fire, lit by the brightest talent, and reflected back to us by way of their signature mirror. Skip ahead to 2016, and we saw the release of an expanded version of 2014’s White Noise. The two extra songs weren’t nearly enough to curb our appetite for their dark and anthemic alternative rock, but they proved that PVRIS was worth the wait. Between “You And I” and “Empty,” it was clear the band wasn’t about to fall into an early death, or get stuck in any kind of rut, because they were too busy building their sound to an impeccable standard. Rock music never sounded so smooth, and alternative music never sounded so ferocious, as on a PVRIS track. Made of emotions and ghosts, they never fail to provide a chill when they slide into your focus. Now, as we ease into 2017, the only thing that’s on anyone’s mind is when we’re going to hear the next chapter in PVRIS’ story. We want to feel something, and the weight of PVRIS’ world will do just fine. With three years between fulllength releases, there’s no doubt we’ll hear new influences, find strengthened maturity, and watch Lynn and Co. continue on the path of bad-ass, female-led music. When their latest release hits shelves, it might just enchant listeners more so than White Noise—and that is a beautifully bizarre notion. —Emillie Marvel
THE MAINE Title: TBA Release Date: TBA
HAIM Title: TBA Release Date: TBA
If you’ve been paying close attention to the Maine’s social media pages, you know they’re up to something. After playing their last show of 2016 in September, the band announced they’d be taking the next few months to stow away and begin working on their next full-length album, and they certainly weren’t lying. “We’re breathing easy and making music in a house by the ocean a few hours north of San Francisco, the band says. “The mood is ripe in this place and the vibrations are certainly helping shape what will be the next album. Can’t wait to share with you all what we’ve been working on and are confident in saying that this will be the most cohesive sound yet. All the warmest thoughts from California.” While it’s nice to know the band is enjoying their time writing and taking in the beautiful scenery that surrounds their studio (just take a peak at their Instagram for some awe-inspiring scenes), the question on every fan’s mind is: “What will this new record sound like?” Since breaking away from Warner Bros. and going independent, the Maine has been experimental, to say the least, with their sound. From 2011’s career altering Pioneer to 2015’s standout American Candy, the Phoenix-based band has not shied away from exploring any edge of the alternative rock landscape. At this point, the band has such an established fan base that they could write an album about farm animals and still maintain their music career. But with lead singer John O’Callaghan more than likely leading the songwriting team, there’s no doubt that their new record will only take the best of what they’ve created so far in their career and add to it. Thankfully, fans don’t have to worry too much about this record falling off the rails because the Maine is once again working with producer Colby Wedgeworth, who is responsible for the band’s best records, Pioneer and American Candy. It’s only right to predict that with the help of Wedgeworth, the band is on their way to creating another masterpiece to add to their discography. —Jessica Klinner
HAIM’s Days Are Gone was a definite highlight of 2013, and we’ve been clamoring for a second album from sisters Alana, Danielle, and Este ever since. The band has spent the better part of 2016 giving fans signs that a new album is coming, and spent their tour dates over the summer debuting a few new songs that definitely give a good sense of what we might expect from a new release in 2017. Most recently the trio has announced that we can expect a release sometime during the summer, with Este stating in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “You don’t even know what’s coming for you. I’m warning you. You. Don’t. Even. Know.” “Nothing’s Wrong” and “Give Me Just A Little Of Your Love,” the aforementioned new tracks, became staples for the band in 2016, if the countless number of YouTube recordings are anything to go by. Both are definitely rooted in rock, with energetic guitar riffs and drum lines. “Nothing’s Wrong” in particular features a bridge that builds into what will surely be an anthem of 2017. “Give Me Just A Little Of Your Love” combines the HAIM staple quick vocal delivery with a thick, dense rock feel. Of the two, “Nothing’s Wrong” sounds a bit more like what Days Are Gone contained,
but both are excellent tracks that you should get yourself familiar with before the new album comes around. If these two songs are any indication, HAIM are building more toward the catchy rock of “Forever” and “Honey & I” than the more synth-filled “Days Are Gone” side of their debut. Still, there is the excellent chemistry the sisters have, and the perfect blend of all three of their vocals into a harmonious tour de force. It will be interesting to see if the whole album leans this way, or if it will still be a solid mix of sounds like Days Are Gone. A personal favorite from Days Are Gone is the intense, booming “My Song 5,” a song I still listen to on a regular basis. I love the original, but I also thoroughly enjoy the remix with A$AP Ferg dropping in to share a verse. While I have absolutely no problems with getting a feature-free project from HAIM, the door is open to create dream collaborations on future remixes. Ferg put out an album in 2016, maybe he can show up again? Chance? Kendrick collaborating with the LA-based sisters? The possibilities are almost too much to think about. No matter what direction HAIM decides to go with on their second album, it’s sure to be well-done, wellperformed, and a true piece of musical mastery. Whether they embrace the synthetic or tap into the days of wailing guitars and bass, the sisters are poised to make a big splash in 2017. Until then, you might want to be like us and put Days Are Gone on an endless loop to get ready. —Gabriel Aikins
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PARAMORE JAPANDROIDS VAMPIRE Title: TBA Release Date: TBA It’s creeping up to be nearly four years since Nashville’s Paramore released their triumphant self-titled album, Paramore. However, since then a lot has happened with this fan-favorite trio: From their songstress Hayley Williams marrying her long-time beau, Chad Gilbert (of New Found Glory), to bassist Jeremy Davis departing the band in December 2015, it left a massive question mark to the band’s future and if there was to ever be an album number five. However, to much a delight and carrying on as a duo, Paramore are stronger than ever and thriving in the studio—especially if their Twitter is anything to go by. Whilst hiring exdrummer Zac Farro to perform percussion on their untitled forthcoming release, Paramore have been leaving little Easter eggs of images via their Twitter feed including the completion of a vocal chart and a snap of Taylor York and the guys hitting production. To speculate on what we could expect of this new album is anyone’s guess, and to look at their back catalogue would confuse you even further. Since their formation Paramore have gone from rock underdogs to chart-topping pop giants, so the mystery to the sound of what product comes of the newly-formed duo is no doubt exciting. With Williams featuring her vocals on a fair few tracks (New Found Glory, CHVRCHES) it wouldn’t be a big surprise to have a featured artist or two, maybe even a love ballad with new husband Gilbert? Regardless, whether you’ve been a fan since the early days of 2005 or joined the wagon when their massive hits “Still Into You” and “Ain’t It Fun” hit the charts, Paramore should be on your radar. From the unknown idea of what their ‘new’ sound will be like, or to see how they function as a duo, the excitement is strong with this one. —Nicole Tiernan
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Title: Near To The Wild Heart Of Life Release Date: January 27 Japandroids already have one modern classic under their belts with 2012’s Celebration Rock. It is at once a familiar album and a refreshing one, bursting with the youthful vigor and unbridled energy of thunderous drums and overdriven electric guitars. With earnest, fiery anthems like “The House That Heaven Built” and “Younger Us,” the Canadian duo carved out a space somewhere between indie, punk, and pure rock and roll and became the de facto soundtrack to wild parties, late night drives, and raucous rock shows. Expectations for the follow-up to such a beloved album would be high no matter what, but three years of complete silence has elevated Japandroids to near mythical status. They had conquered seemingly overnight and then returned home just as quickly, leaving only a thank you note and no guarantee that they would ever play another show or go into the studio again. Fortunately, any fears that Japandroids would actually sleep forever—as their final Facebook post in 2013 indicated they might—were assuaged by their recent comeback tour and the announcement of Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, due out in January. Japandroids have favored refinement over reinvention thus far in their career. The core themes and qualities of their 2009 full-length Post-Nothing and the preceding EPs are found again on Celebration Rock, only with tighter performances and a more grandiose vision. The first taste of Near To The Wild Heart Of Life bears this trend out. The rousing title track is a bold guitar rock tune with a hook-filled chorus about hitting the road and singing at the top of your lungs. Considering how well that formula has worked up to now, a major left turn is unlikely on the rest of the album. In other words, it should be more of what Japandroids do best, and that is great news for old and new fans alike. —Troy Sennett
WEEKEND Title: TBA Release Date: TBA Last we heard from Vampire Weekend, the band had just released their third record, 2013’s Modern Vampires Of The City. Magnificent and subdued, Modern Vampires truly suits its title, updating the band’s well-tested internationalmeets-indie-pop sound while incorporating diverse instrumental production techniques, like the crucial implantation of harpsichord in “Step” and the voice modulation in tracks like “Diane Young” and “Ya Hey.” The result is gorgeous and a wonderful step away from the classic but aging sound of their self-titled debut and Contra, and one of the best indie albums of the decade. Modern Vampires should have cemented Vampire Weekend as a band that can truly do no wrong—and did to a certain extent—but earlier this year, founding member and producer of all three Vampire Weekend records Rostam Batmanglij announced his departure from the band. Frontman Ezra Koenig later confirmed that there’s a new Vampire Weekend record in development, and while there’s no reason to believe the record will under-perform without Batmanglij as a permanent member of the band, Batmanglij’s influence on Modern Vampires’ robust sound is undeniable; despite his claim that he’ll continue to work with Ezra Koenig on future Vampire Weekend songs in some capacity, his stated leave from the band poses several questions about where Koenig and company will take the band next. Koenig himself is something of a 21st century musical visionary, scoring a writing credit on Beyoncé’s Lemonade earlier this year and cementing his legacy as an indie rock creative force worth taking seriously, but there’s notable uncertainty in the future of the band. Fourth LPs are often divisive, often succumbing to over-worn paths or failed experimentation, and while we have faith in Vampire Weekend to deliver something great, we’re clearly at a crossroads. —John Bazley
THE SHINS A GREAT Title: TBA Release Date: TBA The Shins have done what so few indie rock bands could do: They’ve been part of a very specific time and scene, and managed to remain timeless. (Anyone over the age of 20 once knew them them as “the band that Natalie Portman listened to in Garden State.”) Surviving a Zach Braff film, being a focus of the Microsoft Zune advertising campaign, and leaving Sub Pop for a major label without losing indie credibility are all impressive feats unto themselves. Songwriter James Mercer has taken his time with albums forever—it was five years between the shrill, gentle pop of Wincing The Night Away and the warm waviness of Port Of Morrow—but he’s kept busy working in the likes of Broken Bells in that time, too. Each release from the Shins is distinct in its own way: Oh, Inverted World focuses on emotionally heavy pop songs, while Chutes Too Narrow develops stronger hooks, Wincing The Night Away pulls to a more creative direction in production style, and Port Of Morrow borders on post-punk and almost sounds like a different band than the first three albums. The jumps from album to album make the excitement for the next one even higher. But part of why that excitement grows is because of how little we know about it. It’s been finished for several months; a single, “Dead Alive,” came out just before Halloween and featured a horror movie-like video, but more of a beat-driven feel on top of a classic ‘60s sound and Mercer’s nostalgic songwriting. Will all the songs be pushing a higher energy? Will they all be more guitar-based than synth? Does it even matter? Ultimately what we know is, whenever the album drops, we’ll be ready to hear it, and ready to love it. —Dan Bogosian
BIG PILE OF LEAVES
Title: After The Party Release Date: February 3
Title: TBA Release Date: TBA Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that A Great Big Pile Of Leaves hasn’t released an LP since 2013. After all, it took the Brooklyn band three years to release a full-length after their formation in 2007, and then three more years to release the shimmering You’re Always On My Mind. Suffice to say, they’re a band that likes to take their time. But drummer Tyler Soucy confirms that, in fact, a new full-length is in the works for 2017— and that they’ve been busy navigating the ups and downs since their last release. “We toured quite a bit after releasing [You’re Always On My Mind],” Soucy explains, “and, on one of the runs, [singer and guitarist] Pete [Weiland]’s laptop, with all of his new demos, was stolen out of our van. I think that was a pretty big setback and a stressful event in general.” Since then, the band has slowed down and settled into their lives, and the downshift has allowed Soucy and Weiland to approach songwriting a little differently. “The last record was mostly written with Pete sending us acoustic demos,” Soucy says. “It’s been great to have Pete and I in a room together again for this new one. I feel like something very natural and special happens when we’re just in a room playing together, and that energy seems to be coming across with the new songs.” It may be safe to anticipate the same wavy chords and snappy drums that appeared on You’re Always On My Mind, along with Weiland’s sharpcornered vocals. But Soucy says that the new songs push their proficiency as musicians, so more complex melodies may be expected as well. The most motivating part for Soucy, though, has been the songwriting process itself. “I think the biggest inspiration has really just been the vibe we get from being in a room jamming together,” he concludes. “It’s been nice to get back to that. When you take some time off, the drive to be creative grows, and that’s always the most exciting part.” —Dane Erbach
The Menzingers burst onto the punk scene in 2010 with the instantly memorable Chamberlain Waits and cemented their status as the best in the game with 2012’s unforgettable On The Impossible Past—a masterfully-crafted record, literary in lyrical scope with brilliantly crafted songwriting and production. 2014’s Rented World followed perfection with a paradigm shift of sorts, experimenting in slower, more atmospheric songwriting in “Transient Love” and Dylan-esque literary tradition in “When You Died,” while simultaneously delving deeper into their punk roots with “Rodent” and “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore.” If Rented World is a catch-all of the band’s songwriting skills, their new record, After The Party, seems to be a refinement. Debut single “Lookers” plays brutally off of vocalist Greg Barnett’s talent for writing nostalgia, framing a faded love story in old black and white pictures. “Lost in a picture frame, the way my body used to behave, the way I smiled in the moment before it permanently froze. But that was the old me, I was such a looker in the old days,” sings Barnett, before lamenting a lost love in Asbury Park, New Jersey’s Wonder Bar. Simply put, “Lookers” is a perfect Menzingers song; catchy and romantic with bitter attention to detail is a Menzingers staple, one which gives us hope that After The Party will be the band’s magnum opus and the album that finally pushes them into the dialogue of the larger rock audience. —John Bazley
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ROZWELL KID Title: TBA Release Date: TBA
Title: AFI (The Blood Album) Release Date: January 20 Rejoice: A new AFI album is upon us. The veteran goth-punks will hit double digits in their catalog with their newest release at the top of the year. Some might have called the band’s 2013 album, Burials, their best in a decade. It was chock full of the Bay Area band’s straightforward songwriting, emotional pain, and plenty of synthy, post-punk and new wave influences while remaining true to their sound. Even at its brawniest, the album kinda resembled an “active rock radio” extension of The Art Of Drowning’s most anthemic moments, masking their potentially cheesy tropes with stone-faced conviction. Upon announcing the new self-titled album, the band dropped not one but two songs upon its fans. “Snow Cats” is a pretty simple, mid-tempo number that gets to its big chorus quickly with a couple nifty prog riffs during its truncated bridge; “White Offerings” is a slightly darker, angstier one that starts off sounding like it could be part of the “The Leaving Song” series. It has a little more fire, yet a peculiar restraint about it as well. Like “Snow Cats”, though, “White Offerings” has a certain immediacy and concision to it that makes it easy to adjust to at first impact, but is also concerning in a way. Will AFI lack replay value, offering merely easily digestible songs that offer little beyond an initial pass? Not necessarily. The impressive diversity and depth of Burials showed a renewed and hungry AFI that excelled in minimal imagery, stripped-back aesthetics and pomp. In some ways, though, these two new songs hint at a possible mix of many of the aspects present on their last few albums: the dark and hardened dramatic flair of Burials; the baroque grandeur and upbeat nature of the Morrissey-esque Crash Love; and perhaps a bit of the imagery from Decemberunderground, to be certain. Unlike some other high-profile acts with side projects, it’s unlikely that frontman Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget’s electronica outlet Blaqk Audio would infiltrate the sound much, either. As far as similarly big punk bands go, one could argue there were shades of the Horrible Crowes on the Gaslight Anthem’s final album, Get Hurt, and blink-182 side projects a decade ago like Boxcar Racer and +44 certainly bled into each other. But Havok and Puget have clearly maintained a stylistic separation between the two since Blaqk Audio’s genesis in the early 2000s (save for isolated moments like that verse in “Death Of Seasons.”) Not that it would be a bad thing, per se. But AFI have clearly integrated new sounds and influences in their own ways, something likely to continue on AFI. —Brian Shultz
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There are some things that will always be intriguing. Rozwell Kid have been in that spot for years: With several releases out on Broken World Media, they got signed to SideOneDummy, who repressed their Good Graphics EP, but haven’t done any material in… years. What makes them so intriguing? Weezer-esque pop songs, but by and for a late 20s slacker, duel guitars that sound a bit like hair metal but feel a ton like ecstasy, and the type of self-aware humor that gives them lasting appeal. Starting with 2011’s The Rozwell Kid EP, they’ve always featured songwriter Jordan Hudkins cranking out power pop, but time has shown them to be more focused, more polished. 2013’s Unmancho took them across the country, but by their last full-length, Too Shabby, they were signed and on their way to the top, getting tours with the likes of The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die and PUP. Songs about dying your hair blue as an aimless protest, or eating too much hummus, or running over an armadillo on the highway as a metaphor for heartbreak, or having all your dreams fail but it being OK because you’re wearing a sick jacket—these are the everyday activities of Rozwell Kid, and those are the songs that bring them together. Finally, they have a strong label behind them, with a budget. Given how much time it’s been since their last release versus how long it took previous releases—the longest time they’ve taken between releases ever is 15 months—and there’s every reason to think whatever comes next will be some sort of epic, earth-shattering, game-changing album. What we know is, Rozwell Kid is already a game-changing band. —Dan Bogosian
Title: TBA Release Date: TBA
Title: TBA Release Date: TBA
Frontman James Alex of heartworn punks Beach Slang promised in a recent interview for his band’s still relatively new album, A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings, that their aim is to release a new album every year. They’ve lived up to this Guided By Voices-esque, prolific ambition pretty well so far, with two EPs pushed out their second year of existence and, indeed, an album a year since (not to mention a covers EP snuck in there as well). Thankfully, that’s still the case. “There’s something about that pace, that urgency that feels right to me,” Alex explains. “I suppose, at some point, public demand will get sludgy, but until that happens, I’m a writer who makes records, and that’s what I plan on doing.” A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings was written while the band was on tour supporting 2015’s The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, about the fans he met along the way and the stories of growing up that they swapped. Alex, of course, would perhaps visit different wells for inspiration, as his Jack Kerouac influence could certainly rear its head, meaning greater literary elements at play for their next album. Perhaps there’ll be fully fleshed-out short narratives with developed characters grappling moral dilemmas and personal crises from one song to the next. He hasn’t quite gotten that far yet. Alex says, as he’s “still in the finding-the-melody-and-vowel-sounds stage. I don’t take a crack at the lyrics until I have that in place, until I get that good feeling from them.” Musically, Teenage Feelings explored the band’s melodic, ‘80s post-punk and shoegaze influences a little more. It sounds like it’s quite likely to continue, thankfully, further taking the band out of their melodic punk borders. “I’ve definitely been diving a lot more into shoegaze, Brit pop, and new wave,” Alex says. “I’ve even been fussing around a bit with synths, Moogs, and theremins. I’m just a real student of rock and roll, and don’t ever want to feel painted in any corners. If I feel it and it feels right to me, I’m going to chase it.” Studio time for the next proper LP isn’t yet mapped out, but there’s a great treat in store in the meantime. Alex recently began work on Quiet Slang, a collection of stripped-down and alternate takes on the band’s songs. “It’s me, my acoustic guitar, a pianist, and a cellist having a go at some Beach Slang songs and a couple new ones,” he elaborates. “It’s me living out my adoration for the Magnetic Fields.” —Brian Shultz
Tired idioms aside, Circa Survive is truly a band that needs no introduction. Since joining forces over a decade ago, Anthony Green and company have skyrocketed from local to legendary, affirming their place at the head of the alternative music scene. Utterly airtight and instantly recognizable, they are what every up-and-coming act aspires to be. Following a turbulent couple of years, the band’s trajectory peaked with Descensus, their latest and most aggressive offering to date. “It’s the first record of ours I’ve been able to listen to front to back without having that song that I’m like, ‘Yeah, I could’ve done better here,’” Green told Alternative Press shortly after the album’s release in 2014. “I feel like we did better than we did before. That’s what you always hope for. I absolutely, without a doubt know that anybody who’s an actual fan of Circa Survive is going to fucking be able to jerk off to this record.” Woof. How do you possibly top that? Well, that remains to be seen. Green himself has confirmed that a new Circa record is indeed on the way, but as always, it remains unclear just what kind of album fans will be getting. Juturna and On Letting Go were calculated to the nth most degree, comprised of mathy rhythms and ambling dissonance. 2010’s Blue Sky Noise boasted a sonic swing towards the mainstream, while the self-produced Violent Waves returned to the group’s avant-garde roots. Descensus was a happy blend of all these past iterations with a bit of added bite. Long story short, it’s nearly impossible to predict what the future holds for a band that has gone to great lengths to continually push the limits of their craft, but going off the outfit’s already impressive body of work, it’s hard not to be more than a little excited—especially with miracle worker Will Yip leading the charge. It will also be interesting to see what kind of influence—if any— Green’s other undertakings will have on Circa Survive’s forthcoming album. Although Green has always had his hands in several projects, this is the first time ever that Circa and Saosin have existed side-byside, so one has to wonder if the heavier leanings of the latter will in some way rub off on the five-piece. It seems unlikely—Green has long maintained that the two bands are separate entities—but given that a new Saosin album seemed like a stretch just a few years back, anything is possible. And don’t act like you’re not a little bit intrigued by the idea of proggy breakdowns and excessive Green screams. Like a classic George Carlin monologue, Circa Survive have only grown better with time, and if this trend continues, then we’re in for one very awesome new year. Whatever Anthony Green and his cohorts have up their collective sleeve, it will undoubtedly be worth the wait. —Kyle Florence
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John Wick: Chapter 2
Ghost In The Shell
Keanu Reeves is back to kick more ass and take more names. Joined by a new puppy whom we very much hope to see live until the credits , Wick is forced back out of retirement after an old foe—played by his former Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne—comes looking for blood. We don’t know much about what happens from there, but it would appear that a globe-trotting, bullet-riddled epic will follow. —James Shotwell
X-Men movies are pretty hit and miss, but damn if Logan doesn’t look like it could be one of the franchise’s best installments. Adapted from the comic story Old Man Logan, this will be the final bow for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Between the somber tone promised by the trailer and an R rating to ensure plenty of bloody action, this looks like a worthy way to say goodbye to one of cinema’s most iconic superheroes. —LM
Controversial casting choices aside, Ghost In The Shell looks like about as accurate a translation of anime to live action as we’re likely to ever see. The cyberpunk sensibilities of the original 1995 film are lovingly rendered in three dimensions with real actors inhabiting the space, so if nothing else this film is going to be gorgeous. If it sticks to the story and tone of its source material, we may have a new sci-fi classic on our hands. —LM
The LEGO Batman Movie
Free Fire March 17
Will Arnett’s Batman was a standout character in the unlikely but ultimately incredible 2014 hit The LEGO Movie. Batman might be getting a solo film in this cinematic universe of plastic construction toys but he certainly won’t be alone when this presumed-to-be hilarious brick flick hits theaters in February. The Dark Knight will be joined by the usual suspects in Robin, The Joker, Alfred Pennyworth, Batgirl, and many other notable friends and foes, all voiced by a cast of brilliant talents. —Brian Leak
Some movies ooze a kind of cool that is entirely unique to that film, and so far Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire appears to be that type of picture. The film takes place almost entirely in a single space, and it revolves around a shoot-out between a notable cast of indie stars that will no doubt become household names in the years to come. Think of it like Smoking Aces if that film were made for people with good taste who tried to avoid Hollywood action tropes whenever possible instead of mindless slobs who cannot bring themselves to get off the couch and change the channel. —JS
Beauty And The Beast
Written and directed by Jordan Peele, we leave behind the comic stylings of Keanu and go full horror in Get Out. The premise: thinkThe Stepford Wives, but with Black people as the robotized slaves. This is a film that’s going to push a lot of buttons, and there’s a lot of potential for a horror masterpiece to arise from the social commentary. —Leigh Monson
Disney’s strategy of turning their classic animated films into live action adaptations has been hugely successful thus far, so Beauty And The Beast seems like a welcome inevitability. Emma Watson as Belle seems like perfect casting, and a supporting cast of Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson is nothing to scoff at. It will certainly be a treat to revisit a song as old as time. —LM
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The Fate Of The Furious As long as Universal continues churning out Fast And Furious films we will continue to put those titles on our annual most anticipated lists. You can scoff all you want at the increasingly cartoonish nature of this series, but there is no denying the franchise’s time tested formula for success. The only difference this time is that it will be the first full feature to happen without deceased cast member Paul Walker acting opposite Vin Diesel. His presence will certainly be missed, but we have hope that the Toretto clan will still be able to deliver something memorable. —JS
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 May 5 Obviously. James Gunn is one of the biggest rising stars in Hollywood directing, and Marvel Studios is a juggernaut of quality superhero action flicks. The first Guardians was one of the best films of 2014, and the early glimpses of Vol. 2 indicate that Marvel has allowed Gunn to stay just as weird and eccentric as he was before. This is the film to kick off the summer blockbuster season. —LM
2017 Films To See On The Big Screen Alien: Covenant
Director Ridley Scott has been a bit all over the map in terms of quality in recent years, but his first film to bear the title Alien since 1979 is looking like a very promising return to franchise roots. Michael Fassbender reprises his role from Prometheus in what looks to be a horrifying revival of the Alien brand for a new generation of science fiction and horror fans. —LM
Getting excited for Pixar is like getting excited for ice cream; it’s inevitably going to be satisfying. However, what’s really exciting as of late is when Pixar opts not to make a sequel or a prequel to one of their earlier projects, and Coco is an exciting original property from the folks who made us feel for toys and fish. Steeped in Mexican culture and shrouded in mystery when it comes to plot details, color us intrigued for Coco. —LM
Spider-Man: Homecoming July 7 Homecoming holds a double meaning for the new Spider-Man: It’s the hero’s return to Marvel’s creative control on the big screen, and it’s a new direction for the teenage hero to take as he tackles the difficulties of high school. Tom Holland made an impressive debut as Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, and with the return of Tony Stark as a supporting character, Homecoming looks to be yet another rock-solid entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. —LM
War For The Planet Of The Apes July 14 Who would have thought that a trilogy of Planet Of The Apes prequels would be some of the best summer blockbusters of the past decade? Following on the heels of Rise and Dawn, War For The Planet Of The Apes looks to take the actionbananas monkey business of Dawn and crank it up to 11. Andy Serkis returns as Caesar, leader of the apes, because these films just wouldn’t quite be the same without his stellar animalistic performance. —LM
Star Wars: Episode VIII December 15 This one is a no-brainer. The as-yet-untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII may be even more highly anticipated than The Force Awakens was. So many questions were left unanswered by the end of Episode VII that it’s only logical to be hyped for what looks to be this trilogy’s Empire Strikes Back. This is going to be necessary viewing as part of American film culture. —LM
2/10: The LEGO Batman Movie 2/10: John Wick: Chapter 2 3/3: Logan 3/10: Kong: Skull Island 3/17: Beauty And The Beast 3/24: Power Rangers 4/14: The Fate Of The Furious 5/5: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 5/19: Alien: Covenant 5/26: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales 6/2: Wonder Woman 6/9: World War Z 2 6/23: Transformers: The Last Knight 7/7: Spider-Man: Homecoming 7/14: War For The Planet Of The Apes 7/28: Jumanji 7/28: The Dark Tower 9/8: IT 10/20: Insidious: Chapter 4 11/3: Thor: Ragnarok 11/17: Justice League 12/15: Star Wars: Episode VIII SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
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P A R T I N G S H O T
METRIC Photoâ€…by Alexa Frankovitch
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P A R T I N G S H O T
THE FLAMING LIPS Photoâ€…by Anam Merchant
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SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
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Published on Dec 22, 2016
We can't get to 2017 fast enough here at Substream! There are so many great releases in music and film that we wanted to jump on things and...