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Party Muscles - Does It Even Matter? Review

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Party Muscles are a culmination of Philadelphia’s strongest music minds - a kinship between two friends working in a record store, bonding over their love for garage rock, melody, and good freakin’ tunes. Celebrating and riding the high from their August 2nd, 2019 release - Does It Even Matter?, Party Muscles are ready to play shows, make feel good tunes, and keep kickin’ ass.

Thanks to the efforts of current band lineup Colin McCarry, Beau Everett Gordon, Tyler Pursel and Joshua Strange for making up the indie rock infused sound of Party Muscles. A sound one could describe as fun, wildly talented, and always a damn good time. Does It Even Matter? is the bands debut effort - one that is an impressive, well written collection of bops sure to turn your summer around.

Check out the track list below to follow along!

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Does It Even Matter? Tracklist:
1. She Goes To Juuliard
2. Nascent
3. Peruvian Sunshine
4. Photography Raptor
5. I’m The Jaguar
6. Foliage
7. Lorraine
8. Capgun
9. Secret Language
10. Pocari Sweat
11. Inside Out

With inspiration coming from early 2000’s bands like The Strokes, The Libertines, Parquet Courts and The Hives, it’s easy to pick up on what Party Muscles wants their sound to be. Does It Even Matter? is an incredible example of a successful, impactful debut album that sets the standard for everything else to follow. It is well constructed, written with purpose, and performed meticulously. The 11-track album floats between itself, never skipping a beat, but never keeping it the same. The record was truly such a good time to listen to and enjoy, it made writing a review about it difficult.

Enough said.

All songs on the album were written by band creators, Tyler Pursel and Colin Mccarry. It was produced by Tyler Pursel and Josh Strange, and finally recorded at Strange Audio Electronics and Creep Records. A true Philadelphia project, through and through. What I enjoyed most about this album was that it created it’s own space to exist within. It is a breath of fresh air in a space that cultivates a hugely DIY core, and while Party Muscles and Does It Even Matter? are well crafted, and poignant, they never take themselves too seriously. Melodic, and groovy - their sound resonates with a multitude of listeners by culminating a variety of genre-esque sounds. Their draw on early 2000’s indie rock doesn’t over power their message, and my biggest criticism is I wish I could’ve read the lyrics for the tracks while listening.

Either way - this is a good album, and it makes me excited for the future of Party Muscles. Give it a listen, check out a show, buy some merch! The good people in Party Muscles have an August residency at Ortliebs - August 15th, 22nd and 29th, which means you have zero reason to miss out on these talented up & comers.

For more information, follow their social media links down below!

Party Muscles: Bandcamp // Facebook

Neck Deep - The Peace and The Panic Review

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You’d be hard pressed to claim to be a fan of alternative/pop-punk music and say you have at least never heard of Neck Deep, but for those of you who may be less familiar or have somehow managed to avoid hearing of this band, allow me to introduce you to them.

Neck Deep, the 5-piece pop-punk sensation hailing from Wrexham, Wales has basically taken the alternative scene by storm, turned it on its head, and made it their bitch. The Peace and The Panic, the band’s third album, sees Neck Deep further solidifying their rightful heir to the pop-punk throne with their first top-10 hit. The band delivers some of their best performances mixed with some of the heaviest themes of their short careers making The Peace and The Panic something that feels truly timeless in everything it does. 

Three albums in three years is no small feat, especially when they’ve been as solid as the ones Neck Deep has made. While The Peace and The Panic isn’t as revolutionary or as endearing as their sophomore attempt, Life’s Not Out To Get You, the band has stuck to their roots and made an admirable follow-up record that feels right at home in the Neck Deep discography. This release is definitely their most pop sounding album, but nothing about this record feels forced or as if the band is selling out, but rather it’s an obvious evolution for a group that has gained so much momentum in such a short amount of time. It still sounds as if the band is making the music they want to make, but there’s an obvious change in production techniques and experimentation resulting in a different sounding record that is sure to alienate some die-hard, old school Neck Deep fans.

Check out the tracklist below before we get real deep into this.

The Peace and the Panic Tracklist:
1. Motion Sickness
2. Happy Judgement Day
3. The Grand Delusion
4. Parachute
5. In Bloom
6. Don’t Wait (ft. Sam Carter)
7. Critical Mistake
8. Wish You Were Here
9. Heavy Lies
10. 19 Seventy Sumthin’
11. Where Do We Go When We Go
 

The band has gone through some emotional trauma since their last release. Losing friends and family members while constantly touring on the road and facing their inner demons. Neck Deep grew up a lot, and The Peace and the Panic reflects that. Maturity comes at a price, however. If what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, then what makes us money makes us less daring. From the out of place anthem of “The Grand Delusion” to the ‘let’s leave this town’ song in “Parachute”, all of the usual pop-punk tropes and themes are here. Everything on this album feels and sounds great, but the biggest issue with it, is that it feels and sounds great for a 2005 record.

Frontman Ben Barlow’s vocals sound like a mix between Ryan Key from Yellowcard, and Christopher Drew from Never Shout Never. Combine this with fairly simplistic and straightforward, albeit incredibly addictive and relatable songwriting, and you have a record that sounds very Simple Plan-esque. Keeping all of this in mind though, Neck Deep really isn’t trying to sound like anything else. In fact, the band absolutely owns the sound they are going for, and it’s one of true infectious nostalgia that only proves the timeless appeal of a pop-punk genre that seems to have disappeared from modern music.

The Peace and The Panic is a really good album. It’s not amazing, and doesn’t bring many surprises, but its songs are incredibly catchy and fun and harken back to what feels like a much simpler time. Standout tracks for me are “Happy Judgement Day”, “Don’t Wait” and “In Bloom” which has the potential to really become a solid hit for this band. This is the most accessible Neck Deep album by far, and it’s definitely going to get the group new fans, but may ultimately end up alienating some of their old ones. People looking for a new pop-punk record should look no further, and older fans who may not have loved this record should listen again to truly embrace all of its catchy goodness.  

Regardless of how fans may feel though, Neck Deep isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and The Peace and the Panic is everything we love about Neck Deep, even if it is a little bit different.

Keep up with them on their social media down below for more!

Neck Deep: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Official Site

Retroglyphs - Self Titled Review

Philadelphia has a habit of bringing together all kinds of people. It is the city of brotherly love after all. So, why should it be any different in music? If you've ever heard "Nightcall" by Kavinsky, and you dig it, you're gonna like this. Retroglyphs are an 80's inspired synth band that transforms electronic music into something that feels familiar and new all in one. 

The band was started by Frank Cervantes and his friend Josh Dowiak. The pair used to be in a band called The Once Was, until a few months when they discovered their passion for making 80's inspired music. Since then they've decided to go all in on Retroglyphs, and lately they've been seeing really great results! The band began by leaking tracks on Soundcloud and submitting their single "The Noose" to New Retro Wave Records, and to their surprise they released it on the We Rule Nation platform, which is a pretty big deal. 

Following that success, the song was then remixed by Damokles, a famous Swedish retrowave producer, and other tracks of theirs were then remixed by artists in Netherlands and Poland. The band also boasts songs featured in Philthy Mag and WXPN, so you'd be silly to not check this one out, you heard it here first.

Retroglyph's took all of their successes and compiled them into a self-titled album. A 10-track collective of differing electronic sounds and synth noises. You can check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Retroglyphs Tracklist:
1. Hyperdrive
2. Wild Road
3. One Last Kiss
4. Imposter
5. Transformation
6. War Torn
7. The Noose
8. No Glory In The Fall
9. Forever Time
10. Two Years

 

 

The self-titled album is an 80's inspired montage of tracks that sound like they could've come straight out of a movie soundtrack. The production and quality of the album is impeccable, if I'm being completely honest. There is very little I dislike about this album. Each track brings it's own personality to the album, creating an atmosphere that is not going to burden you with too much of the same things, and also feel cohesive enough to be a complete album.

The combination of synths, keyboards and drum beats to create the album feel nostalgic and also exciting. Retroglyphs aren't singularly stuck in the past, but have taken notes and are creating something that feels good. Their music is best listened to while driving in the car, sitting, or outside on the beach. I made sure to test all locations for this one!

One thing I wasn't really keen on was accessibility. Besides Spotify (which, if I haven't told anyone yet, is my least favorite way of streaming music), the album is available on iTunes which can make it hard to listen to. You can find the album pieced together with various remixes on soundcloud, which was how I listened. However, in comparison to the gravity of the album's depth, the level of music being played, and the overall tone of the album, this minor inconvenience can be overlooked!

Check out one of our absolute favorites, "The Noose" below.

Keep up with Retroglyphs by checking out their social media below, and definitely do check out their music on their soundcloud! We look forward to what comes next from these guys!

Retroglyphs: Facebook // Soundcloud

Val Jester - Sorry Review

What beats the summer heat? Val Jester has been cooling us off for weeks now with their mix of indie, pop, and lofi sounds. We just can't get enough of it honestly.

On May 26th, Val Jester released their debut album, Sorry. A 12-track album that focuses primarily on smooth sounds and even smoother vocals. The mastermind behind the project (with plenty of help of course) is Max Schoenwetter. A New Jersey native, Max Schoenwetter played bass for his friend’s band, before deciding to try and write on his own. Started in September of 2017 after moving to Philadelphia, Val Jester was created from the catalog of songs he had curated over the previous three years. Recorded over a cup of tea, Sorry, is Val’s introduction to the world. Apologizing to those who will listen, Sorry, is Val’s way of clearing his conscious and making music that chills you out. 

Check out the tracklist below!

Sorry Tracklist:
1. America
2. Mediocre?
3. Home Alone, Alone
4. Is This Real? 
5. i was all over her -. 
6. an
7. Sanguineness
8. sorry
9. Chaos
10. Make It Work?
11. I Don't Wana
12. Goodbye

I have yet to have recorded an album so smooth, so mind-numbingly good in quite a long time. Consider Sorry the perfect mixture of indie sad boy and lofi distortion. Max's voice rasps as the perfect compliment to a thwang-ing guitar, a steady beat. While 12 tracks is a size-able amount, Sorry moves effortlessly in quick bursts of air. Steady, unnerving, easy to get lost into.

Opening track "America" is a testament to what the album is about. While not at all about America, the track is disturbingly self-aware with lyrics like "God Bless Me, / I am flawed, and / Prickly, and /Spiky." Overlaid on a distorted "God Bless America" the track is the open door to what the album Sorry is unapologetically about. Being flawed.

I just can't get enough of this album, honestly. From beginning to end it moves seamlessly, I have no favorite because I can't decide. I want there to be more. I want Max to give us more half-loved thoughts, all in the dark, just like secrets. This album feels good to listen to, which is hard to say about a lot of albums.

You definitely want to buy this one, listen to it. Listen to it again, show it to your best friend, keep it a secret and only play it in the car with people you don't care about. Whatever you need to do, you should do with this album in tow. Keep up with Val Jester, take our word for it.

Keep up with Val Jester via the social media links below, and thank us later.

Val Jester: Facebook // Bandcamp

Lazarus Wilde – Breathe Now Review

Singer-songwriter Kenny Collette, operating under the name Lazarus Wilde, has released a brand new album called Breathe Now. Breathe Now is his second solo release, following a self-titled EP.

Previously, Kenny Collette has worked with other bands over the years, but Lazarus Wilde is a creative solo endeavor that allows him to branch out on his own and explore his personal boundaries and experiences through his music. Breathe Now was released earlier this year in April, and contains eight soulful tracks that really give listeners an idea of who Lazarus Wilde is and what he wants to accomplish with his music. 

Check out the tracklist below!

  1. Soul Eater
  2. Between Bridges
  3. So Don’t Try
  4. Swallow & The Pills
  5. Gray Station
  6. Robot Stripper Party
  7. Breathe Now
  8. --____--
     

 
 

 

Breathe Now is an acoustic album, and the first track is “Soul Eater.” It starts off strong with a fantastic guitar chord that serves as a great introduction to the album, and sets the tone for the rest of the songs. The vocals in “Soul Eater” are haunting, and Collette’s voice has a distinctive indie sound that makes him fit right in with other popular artists. The melodies in all his songs are beautifully done, and I love the way he harmonizes.

Since this is an acoustic album, the vocals are a bit more important than usual in order to give the stripped-down instrumentals more impact, and Lazarus Wilde does it perfectly. An acoustic album is only done right when the vocals and the guitar mesh well together, and Breathe Now is a great example of that. Lazarus Wilde has real talent, and it shows. 
 
There isn’t a song on Breathe Now that I didn’t like.

Each one of them is unique, but they all flow effortlessly together and blend to create an entirely pleasing listening experience. My personal favorite is “Between Bridges,” closely followed by the closing song, “--____--.” I’m gonna refer to it as Track 8 to make it easier, since how are you supposed to pronounce that title? But despite the title, Track 8 is one of those sad songs that packs an emotional punch (and boy, do I love me some sad music). I feel like it’s a song you might hear during a scene in a movie that’s supposed to make you cry. Unlike the other songs on Breathe Now, it has a piano accompaniment alongside the guitar and vocals, and right from the start, I loved it. It’s a great number to end on, too. 
 
I give Breathe Now a solid 5 stars, and I’m definitely looking forward to more releases from Lazarus Wilde in the future. Breathe Now is available for streaming and purchase, and follow Lazarus Wilde on social media for any upcoming announcements.

Lazarus Wilde: Facebook

Sally Draper - Does Too Review

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Leave it to a New Jersey-ian to have a track called "New York Is A Fucking Headache." With a mix of screamed lyrics and delicate instrumentals, Sally Draper are bringing a whole new grit to Central Jersey's scene - one that's got it's fists up to fight off the sadness.

DOES TOO is Sally Draper's debut album is a 10-track exploration of sound and fury. This album was recorded at the Behr Office LLP and their parents' houses between September 2016 and February 2017. Released for free on March 10th, DOES TOO was Engineered by Bob Osowski, and mixed & mastered by Bill Henderson at Azimuth Mastering. Sally Draper includes duo Ryan O'Leary (Guitar, Vocals, Piano), and Bob Osowski (Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals, Piano).

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

DOES TOO Tracklist:
1. The Air I Breathe
2. Spontaneity Preplanned
3. New York City Is A Fucking Headache
4. Ruthy, Forget Your Pain
5. 87
6. A Walk In The Woods
7. When You Found God, You Lost Yourself
8. Too Young To Be Too Old
9. Landing Strip
10. Can't Handle Happiness

 

This album is a beast of it's own. With instrumentals that are reminiscent of popular NJ local trends, Sally Draper treads a fine line between punk and angry. Most of the songs here are sad songs, the lyrical content feels obtuse against the vocals which feels obtuse against the instrumental presence.

The softness in opening track "The Air I Breathe" is likely to throw listeners off, but I wonder if that means Sally Draper is leaving a lasting impression? In this case, there are some songs where I wish the lyrics were sung at points. It'd make the tracks for more meaningful, but hey Sally Draper may not even be going for meaningful. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

The punk style screaming on DOES TOO makes it impactful, it does. I just want it to be more focused with the other things the duo is doing. The emotional gravity makes me excited, and on "87" and "When You Found God You Lost Yourself" I get a hint of the type of vocals I'd wished for more of the half-screamed, half-sung duality that is popular in basements, the voice of the unheard, emo-punk so to speak.

However, besides that, I was super impressed by the cohesive nature of the album. It sounds right together, and the uppity nature of DOES TOO keeps listeners intrigued and wanting. Sally Draper knows how to make me want to stay and listen, and I'm into it.

Check this lion of an album out, and to keep up with NJ pals Sally Draper, check out their social media below!

Sally Draper: Facebook

The Backwoods - The Blue Spot Recordings

Virginia based pop punk band The Backwoods have released a heavy hitting EP titled The Blue Spot Recordings that’s sure to hit the spot for emo pop and pop punk fans alike!

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

The Blue Spot Recordings Tracklist:
1. Rainy Day 
2. Bayberry
3. Early Birds
4. Buyer's Book
5 .June

 

 

 

 

This EP is something I’d like to describe as “organized aggravation.” 

It’s something that’s very common in the pop punk genre; well structured music with a very angry and volatile delivery. The vocals delivers his lines layered with throat tearing growl reminiscent of Dan Campbell from The Wonder Years. Not to mention his screams cut at the same edge as his singing, without the melodic restraints of course. It’s 150% emotional emphasis.

However, on the song “Early Birds,” a particular vocal part really stood out to me. Around the 0:28 mark, a smooth and soulful melody takes over that is easily not only the best vocal part of the album, but probably one of the best verse parts I’ve heard this year. I just wish there was more of that going on throughout the release.

Instrumentally, The Blue Spot Recordings is punch after punch after punch. There’s a nice full feel in the kick drum that really gives a punishing heaviness to the album overall. There’s a solid fullness to everything, and endless riffs that I really wish I had written first.  

Going back to “Early Birds” (sorry it’s my favorite track) there’s even a little breakdown part. Think less easycore/metalcore and more melodic hardcore. I was practically hitting spin kicks in my living room.

There wasn’t really much that I didn’t like about this, but there were a couple of things. First, I wish the production was just a little bit better. I wanted to talk about the general themes going on in the album, but a lot of the time I couldn’t pick out individual sentences because the vocals, at times, were either overshadowed by the guitars or just a victim of the singers raw, emotive performance. Secondly, as stated before, I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more of the soulful singing. I was enjoying the album before I got to that part, but that really blew me away. I really think that stylistically it would make for some really nice hooks.

All in all, this was an exceptionally solid release by The Backwoods.

If you enjoy hard, driving pop punk/alternative rock, you’ll be hooked.  If not, well it’s worth at least a listen anyway. Everyone’s got an aggressive side to them, and music is a place where we can kind of release those emotions safely. This is the kind of music for that. It’s a torch carrier of a long maintained tradition of being in a tightly packed venue, covered in the sweat of friends you don’t know yet, and having a good night the whole time. I can definitely see myself going to one of their shows, and I can definitely see The Backwoods carving out a future in the pop punk scene.

For more on The Backwoods, check out their social media to stay up to date with what they're up to!

The Backwoods:  Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

Sage - Procrastinate Review

Sage hails from the remote logging community of Cochrane, Ontario way up there in Canada. A ‘90s leaning, lo-fi, fuzz-pop band with an ear for infectious, dissonant songs seems only fitting for this up & coming band. Sage recently released their debut EP, Procrastinate, on March 24th on their own imprint, Restroom Records.

While Sage is relatively new, their drummer and lead singer, Eric Paquet, has been writing original music and playing in bands since the age of eleven. Fleshing out the trio are Marc Mercier on Guitar, vocals and Eric Tremblay on Bass.

According to their bio, all 8 songs are first-takes, written and recorded in a single session. They are essentially lo-fi bedroom demos with "a little bit of mastering." Procrastinate was released on randomly coloured, limited edition cassettes, and features artwork by Toronto artist and musician, Joel French. Which means this band continues to delve deeper into the strange and unique. 

Check out the tracklist for Procrastinate below to follow along!

Procrastinate Tracklist:
1. Sinking Boats
2. Good Enough
3. Relive The Past
4. Aneurysm (Nirvana)
5. Procrastinate
6. Fairweather Friends
7. Zillion
8. Lukewarm

 

 


Normally in my reviews I like to piece together the album track-by-track, but Sage's presence felt more intriguing overall, rather than piece by piece. "Sinking Boats" opens up the record with the fuzzy smashing of drums, and the distortion of vocals disorients the listener into Procrastinate. Much of the album follows suit, with aspects of grunge and slacker rock weaving in and out. 

Tracks like "Good Enough" and the Nirvana (grunge, ha-ha) cover of "Aneurysm" exude 90's grunge, while tracks like "Relive The Past" and title-track "Procrastinate" are way more stoner rock. Think about the first Queen's Of The Stone Age album, and you've got Sage. The dynamic presence of Procrastinate is exciting, especially as stoner rock/grunge is coming back.

I implore you to check out this impressive album. One that literally had me saying "WOW" as each new track began. Is that because I love grunge music? Maybe, but mostly Sage are bringing into light a genre that is on the forefront of return. This album exudes a reverb-y, echoing ambience that forces people to listen. If you need to know our favorite track, it's final track "Lukewarm." Find out for yourself as to why.

Check out Sage, check out Procrastinate, please listen to this and then check out their social media for more good shit as well.

Sage: Facebook