The Soundboard Stereo – August 2017

So once again, August has been more or less dead in terms of major releases. At least things are starting to pick up with Neck Deep, Queens Of The Stone and PVRIS all putting out major releases (don’t worry, the reviews of the latter two are coming), but come September, the floodgates really begin to open. For now though, here’s what’s been occupying our listening throughout August…

The All-American Rejects – Move Along

When thinking of 2000’s pop-rock bands, names like Fall Out Boy and Sum 41 immediately come to mind. It’d take a bit more thinking about the subject for The All-American Rejects to pop into your head. Although Dirty Little Secret and Gives You Hell are anthems for a generation, AAR have mostly been overlooked as a singles band and not much else. They may have seen a distinct decline in popularity in recent years (like much of the genre), but there’s no denying their glory days, marked by their 2005 record Move Along. Alongside essential Dirty Little Secret, other singles It Ends Tonight and the title track are just as essential (you’ve probably cried to the former soundtracking one of your favourite US dramas or swapped the chorus lyric of the latter to “mow the lawn”). Wet ballads drag down the tracklisting, and the effects of swapping real strings for synthetic ones haven’t aged well at all. But in spite of that, most of deep cuts on the record still kill even now. Stab My Back is itching to be screamed along to while Change Your Mind and Top Of The World are up there with the best songs the band have ever written. Songs like these represent pop rock at its best, and while it’s unlikely most people would choose Move Along over Infinity On High, it evidences just how criminally overlooked The All-American Rejects are. • GJ

Choice picks: Dirty Little Secret, Change Your Mind, Top Of The World

Kids In Glass Houses – Smart Casual

When Smart Casual was released, albums like this were a dime a dozen – immaculately produced pop-rock that wasn’t quite at the point of radio domination just yet, but would ultimately result in the Britrock breakthrough that many similar acts would greatly benefit from. And yet, where most of those albums have faded away into British music’s storied history, this one continues to stand out. Maybe it’s the utterly irascible melodies that Kids In Glass Houses would fail to best for the rest of their career. Maybe it’s the lyrics that are both whip-smart but completely grassroots, owing as much to Fall Out Boy as Funeral For A Friend and Hundred Reasons. Maybe it’s the fat-free construction that only highlights just how devoid of real filler this album is. In truth, Smart Casual is all of these things, an almost foolproof recipe for what would be dubbed a classic of Britrock’s second wave. Kids In Glass Houses may have run their course naturally, but Smart Casual is that albatross moment capturing them at their very best. • LN

Choice picks: Good Boys Gone Rad, Lovely Bones, Girls


Debut albums scream “special” all the time, and all too often the bands who release them are propelled into stardom. That’s not the case with PUP, who built up a modest, dedicated fanbase (through gig punters and fellow bands alike) with their momentum, built up through both their music and truly refreshing approach to crafting music videos. Their 2014 self-titled debut is snotty, rowdy punk that’s still likeable and accessible by the bucketload – three aspects shown off individually in songs like Guilt Trip, Reservoir and Dark Days respectively. That’s not to write them off as a one-trick pony, with summery rager Mabu and moody, thundering Yukon evidencing their ability to keep you on your toes while still urging you to physically react to the music, be it nodding your head in time or throwing your TV out the window. This album is a total riot, and it’s the sense of fun surrounding everything on offer that makes PUP the truly unique prospect they are – there’s no-one quite like them in music today. • GJ

Choice picks: Reservoir, Mabu, Yukon

State Champs – The Finer Things

Pop-punk has been one of, if not the most omnipresent and over-represented genre of the past few years, and thus it’s been difficult to find new bands that really stick the landing for the long term. Not that long ago, State Champs weren’t among the elite that they are today, simply another group looking for a shot in an oversaturated scene. And yet, debut full-length The Finer Things is one of the finest examples of the genre released in the 2010s, drawing on every quality genre point and piecing them together in spectacular form. And yes, compared to an act like The Wonder Years, this is fairly standard stuff when viewed on a complete spectrum (then again, what isn’t compared to The Wonder Years?), but with utterly gargantuan hooks on Simple Existence, Elevated, Deadly Conversation and basically every other track this album has to offer, there’s something so joyously simple here that leaves such a profound impact. After all, this is the album that began State Champs’ launch to real pop-punk stardom – hardly a bad foot to start on, then. • LN

Choice picks: Simple Existence, Over The Line, Remedy

Brand New – Daisy

Having just dropped their much-speculated-over new record Science Fiction, all eyes are on Brand New right now. Not just this new album, either – their entire back catalogue. Daisy is a strange record in Brand New’s discography. While prior releases Deja Entendu and The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me are universally accepted as the bands opuses, it’s widely debated over whether Daisy deserves to join those ranks or not. Some adore it, others think Brand New’s other records more than dwarf it. Daisy has loads of brilliant moments – the stomping Sink, lazy lull of Bed, pure aggression of Gasoline – and its flow, connected by old recordings of hymns and sermons is flawless. Daisy showcases a heavier side to Brand New, with singer Jesse Lacey venturing into screams to complement the meaty instrumentation. For a band whose legacy lies so heavily in its lyrical content, switching up the musical aspect and sonically diverting the focus (whether that was intentional or not) seems to be enough of an explanation for its splitting of the fanbase. To some fans, this was Brand New trying to be something they weren’t, in a sense. But while Daisy perhaps isn’t as instantaneously affecting as Deja Entendu or The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me, there’s still so much to merit. It would far and away be the crown jewel in most bands’ careers; it just so happens that Brand New released two modern classics beforehand. • GJ

Choice picks: At The Bottom, Sink, Gasoline

The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

If The ’59 Sound was the moment that the world sat up and paid attention to The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang underlined the fact that this was one truly special band with probably their finest recorded moment. Combining elements of punk, classic ’90s alt-rock and a heavy influence from Brian Fallon’s own hero Bruce Springsteen with songwriting that flits between rousing to achingly beautiful, this has all the elements of a great classic rock album transposed into the modern day. It may be an album with the pieces of its own broken heart held in its hands, but the likes of the title track and The Diamond Church Street Choir are the sort of near-perfect nuggets of rock ‘n’ roll that transcend emotional boundaries for true, lasting moments, and closer We Did It When We Were Young may be the wistful, nostalgic balladry that’s deep in The Gaslight Anthem’s wheelhouse, but is carried out by making its bleeding completely known. This truly is an album for any time and any emotion, the sort of masterwork that crosses genre completely for such an affecting listen. • LN

Choice picks: Bring It On, The Diamond Church Street Choir, Boxer

Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Georgia Jackson (GJ)

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