Diamond Youth and Hop Along

Posted in Recommendations with tags , , , , , on February 1, 2013 by stevenreedkelly

Orange Get Disowned

I didn’t listen to a ton of new music in 2012 (which was very apparent after reading everyone’s “Best of” lists over the past month).  For the first part of the year, I was pretty wrapped up in releasing a couple projects for Sinking Ship Records (Another Year by Boardroom Heroes and Weekends, the final EP from Pinsky).  Then, after July, I was just kind of burnt out on punk rock… for a good 6 months.

I stumbled over a couple albums recently that piqued my interest again.  Thought that I’d share them!

Diamond Youth – Orange
This band used to be on Black Numbers and they were just called Diamond, but a few months ago, their name changed (slightly) and they signed to Topshelf Records.  Next week, they’re releasing Orange, a six-song EP (plus two live tracks).  They’ve already released a video for the song “Cannonball” though, and you can check it out below.  Very Peter-Gabriel’s-Sledgehammer-esque.

I love how polished this EP is.  It’s markedly different from a lot of the rough stuff that Topshelf usually releases.  And there is actual singing (not shouting), which is refreshing.  Something about the big arena rock guitars and fuzzy leads reminds of the mid-90s indie scene.  I think this band is going to catch on like wildfire this year.  I can’t wait to see them live in NYC.

Hop Along – Get Disowned
I’m also falling for this little album that I missed out on last spring.  Hop Along are from Philly – on Hot Green Records – and they play this loose, fuzzy, sometimes-ambient, sometimes-cathartic indie/punk music that is just really fantastic.  It’s not as polished as my previous pick, but that’s for the best.  They’re female-fronted, and I guess that’s probably a quick way to my heart.  Frances Quinlan (vocals/guitar) sings in and out of tune throughout Get Disowned, and it’s completely vulnerable and totally charming.

My wordpress, how you’ve changed!

Posted in Update with tags on January 8, 2013 by stevenreedkelly

Geez, you don’t post a blog entry in over a year and all of a sudden, the entire WordPress interface changes!  I’m in a bit of a creative rut at the start of 2013, and maybe I need to start writing (words and music) again.

In the meanwhile, check this out:

Dan Vapid & The Cheats – “In A Heartbeat”
I’ve been having a hard time finding new bands to pique my interest lately.  A friend on Facebook posted this song and I fell for it pretty hard.  It’s got the “Ramones Revival” sound from a lot of bands in the mid-90s, like the Queers, Chixdiggit or the Groovie Ghoulies.  I like it a lot.


Young Statues

Posted in Recommendations, Uncategorized with tags , on December 2, 2011 by stevenreedkelly

I saw Young Statues a couple months ago during the CMJ festival in New York.  Tyler from A Great Big Pile of Leaves had put me onto them and so I was really looking forward to watching them play.  They played at a spot in Greenpoint called Europa with a bunch of other Run For Cover artists.  Although they played to a sparse crowd at like 2:00 in the afternoon, I was seriously impressed with their set.

I picked up the vinyl record of their self-titled album this week and I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop.  Young Statues seems like a bit of a strange signing for a label like Run For Cover which seems to cater to an angstier crowd – but their appeal is universal.  They band writes poppy toe-tappers at home in any music lover’s collection (unless you’re solely into grindcore or gangster rap… then this just might not fly).

You can scope my favorite track, “Pretty Girls Make Raves” below – and you can buy the album here!

Field Mouse

Posted in Recommendations with tags , , on September 20, 2011 by stevenreedkelly

Fact:  I’m a sucker for cute female vocalists.

I stumbled onto Field Mouse while I was browsing the Pink Couch Sessions website – a site known for creating respectable live (albeit stripped-down) videos.  I was struck by Rachel Browne’s soft, breathy voice (especially apropos considering the band’s name).  Upon further review, I found the band’s debut album, You Are Here, on Bandcamp.  The album is full of  sharp drumming and reverb-and-tremolo-laden guitar leads.  Field Mouse have definitely created a really great indie-pop album.  It reminds me of bands like Vedera or The Rocking Horse Winner – except texturally moodier at times.

You can download You Are Here on Bandcamp (pay what you want) or pick up a physical copy on their webstore

Here’s my favorite song on the album (so far) – “Anomie”

Old Wives – Tidal Tales

Posted in Recommendations with tags , , , on August 30, 2011 by stevenreedkelly

Further Seems Forever was a band that never settled on a singer.  Each of their three albums featured a different vocalist who, inevitably, left the band for one reason or another.  On the band’s first album The Moon is Down, there was Chris Carrabba, better known for his post-FSF solo project, Dashboard Confessional.  Jason Gleason was Carrabba’s fill-in for the second album, How to Start a Fire.  He left the band citing creative differences (and from what I gathered from the message boards in 2004, it wasn’t amicable).  Finally ex-Sense Field member Jon Bunch lent his pipes to Further’s final album Hide Nothing.  Of the three albums, usually the first is credited as the strongest effort by fans.  My personal favorite (and an album I argue is vastly under-appreciated) was the Gleason-fronted How to Start a Fire.

As an outfit, Further Seems Forever always had the chops to thrill me, even from the earliest record – the musicians were top notch.  Admittedly though, when Carrabba left the band to pursue Dashboard Confessional, I thought they were sunk.  Early demos indicated that Carrabba’s replacement didn’t have nearly the abilities to carry the band.  I was shocked when How to Start a Fire was released – Gleason’s voice towered above anything attempted on the band’s previous album.  I look back on this album and remember shouting “On Legendary” and “The Sound” in my little white ’94 Mazda Protege while driving around campus.  In my mind, it’s a classic.

After leaving Further Seems Forever, I kept tabs on Gleason’s projects.  He went on to create an album under the moniker ActionReaction in 2006 and then all was quiet for the better part of 5 years.  Some demos surfaced in a new project called Old Wives, but I doubted that I’d ever get to hear an official release.  Fortunately, I was wrong!

Tidal Tales was released by Old Wives in June 2011.  It has taken me a while to digest the contents – the songwriting, the instrumentation – it’s different than anything I’ve been listening to lately (to put it lightly).  Part the Doors, part Oingo Boingo – Old Wives is difficult to place in a definitive genre.  Indie enthusiasts may shirk at the towering vocals (and make no mistake, this entire band is a vehicle to showcase Gleason’s bellows – although that’s unfair to the incredible musicianship on the album), but emo and punk kids won’t know what to do with the organs, horn section and swanky rhythms.  That’s all entirely beside the point though – music fans who write this album off for one reason or another are missing out on a performance the likes of which are mostly absent from any scene.

I think what makes Tidal Tales a standout is that each song is so passionately delivered.  It feels like rock singers these days do their best to curb all emotion (like the muted mumblings of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”).  I guess It’s not cool to wear your heart on your sleeve anymore.  But from the blaring horns to Gleason’s howling – Old Wives tears the damn roof off with every track.

Certain songs on Tidal Tales feel like period pieces – with “Dub B.B.” influenced by big bands of the 50s, and “Boo Chant” sounding like 60s psychedelia (think the Zombies).  “The Whale” and “Rip Van Winkle” are just good fashioned toe-tappers.  “Alto Cinco” is basted in sweat and sex – and easily my favorite track on the album.  Check it out below:


Posted in Recommendations with tags , on March 23, 2011 by stevenreedkelly

About once a year, I fall in love with an album that makes me want to start a career in arson.  In 2011, it’s Defeater‘s new effort, Empty Days & Sleepless Nights – a two headed giant of an album. 

Empty Days is actually the first 10 songs of the album.  It’s the hard stuff.  I think what makes this part such a treat is that, for something so rooted in hardcore, the music can be surprisingly light and ambient at times.  The guitars are bright and whatever was used to get that great overdrive sound – my god, its lush and gorgeous.

The last four songs make up Sleepless Nights – which is a collection of acoustic songs.  It’s a complete 180 from the first part of the album.  While the songs are still dark and moody, the instrumentation (jangly guitars, cellos, violins) and the vocals (sung rather than shouted)  sound like another band completely.

Here’s my favorite track on the album (so far), “Waves Crash, Clouds Roll”:

You can buy the album from Bridge Nine records here.

Now, Now

Posted in Recommendations with tags , , on February 16, 2011 by stevenreedkelly

Hello friends.  It’s been a long time – I realized that today when I woke up to this message in my inbox:

To my loyal reader (singular), I apologize – been a little busy with Sinking Ship Records in the past few months.  But for the moment, things have settled… and I just paid to keep the Daily Riffage domain for another year, so I might as well dig back in!

In the past few months, my iPod has died – which leaves me seriously debilitated at work (I usually just hook it up to my computer and browse my library all day).  Without my iPod, I’ve been relegated to listening to tunes that I’ve purchased on this particular machine.  It’s given me a chance to really savor some albums that I would’ve probably neglected otherwise.

A good example of this is the Now, Now (formerly Now, Now Every Children) EP, Neighbors, that was recently released on No Sleep Records.  I bought the EP and then it kinda sat in my library for a while.  Last weekend, I burned the album onto a CD for a car ride from NYC to Penn State.  As soon as the second track kicked in, I knew this was another choice cut from No Sleep (they rarely disappoint).

I think the easiest way to describe Now, Now (for those of you who aren’t familiar yet) is maybe mixing Eisley’s midwestern (and creepy) vocals with Metric’s inherent moody atmosphere.  I’m actually very surprised by how similar Casie Dalager and Sherri DuPree (from Eisley)’s voices sound.  Now, Now has an undeniably more urban feel to their music though.

Neighbors starts with a short little instrumental intro piece and then storms into “Giants”, easily the best track on the album.  I think it’s probably the song’s strong rhythm emphasis that drags me in.  The drums are brilliant and the bass is fuzzy and chunky – they just move right along.  It’s a sublime track.

The next two songs, “Roommates” and “Jesus Camp” are slower, less rockin’ tracks.  I enjoy the dynamic range of the band, but these can be a little sleepy.  The EP picks back up with the title track, “Neighbors”, which isn’t as much of a burner as “Giants”, but it’s solid.  Now, Now rounds out the EP with acoustic versions of the best tracks, “Giants” and “Neighbors”.  The alternate versions are hauntingly beautiful.

I’m excited to hear a full length from this band – as they cover a lot of ground in this EP.  It’s surprisingly substantial for containing just 4 original songs (plus two alt versions and a short intro).  I highly suggest you check it out.

I’m posting my favorite track “Giants” below.


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