The Get Up Kids – Satellite
For as much as they may have fallen off the horse lately, it’s good to have The Get Up Kids around. Something To Write Home About is a genuine classic within emo, and while they’ve struggled to live up to it, especially lately, there’s still a spark to them that’s undeniable. Satellite serves as the epitome of that notion, a track that, by their standards, is rather expected and doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the formula, but shows a band still in a rock-solid position even after all these years. The bracing emo rollick is always something that works with this being no different, and with a nice, meaty guitar tone at their disposal and Matt Pryor’s hoarse vocals at the fore, there’s an energy and maturity that work in tandem for a track that has a lot of gusto. It’s not quite their best, but that’s an almost unassailable bar at this point that they’ll likely never hit; rather, it’s a great example of a band aging gracefully and hitting a late-period stride that’s simply heartwarming to see.
Dream State – Hand In Hand
Something new from Dream State is definitely needed about now. For the last year at least, they’ve been threatening to do something absolutely enormous of the back of the foundations that Recovery laid down, but that hasn’t really happened just yet. With Hand In Hand though, things definitely seem to be taking shape, because Dream State are showing incredibly promising signs of a much-needed move forward this time around. Their uber-polished post-hardcore remains, but it’s framed around meatier stomps and snarls this time, capitalising on the heft and size that CJ Gilpin’s vocals so readily bring, and with lyrics that continue to show a band pushing passionate self-examination through the powerful lens that such subject matter so readily needs, it’s a potent listen in almost every sense. There’s definitely room to shake things up slightly, but that’s ultimately a nitpick in what is an incredibly competent move forward for Dream State that only highlights everything they’re already good at only seems to be improving consistently.
Defeater – Mothers’ Sons
Pretty much throughout their career, Defeater’s music has been characterised by an emotionality that, in terms of intensity, is top of the food chain within modern hardcore. That might be close to their downfall though, as while their albums have typically been good, the only one that’s really withstood beyond that emotionality is 2011’s Endless Days & Sleepless Nights. And in a way, it feels as though Defeater know that; it’s why Mothers’ Sons opts for shapeshifting progressions spanning the gamut of modern hardcore in a way that certainly proves bold, but can occasionally struggle to connect. Derek Archambault is the same vocal powerhouse as ever, but it feels as though the music around his performance doesn’t quite benefit what he’s going for, and thus the whole thing feels unfortunately disjointed pretty much throughout. It’s still wholly indicative of Defeater’s sound though, so that’s something, but on the whole, Mothers’ Sons feels like an experiment in trying to stand out that hasn’t quite stuck the landing.
Betraying The Martyrs – Eternal Kick
Chances are if you remember Betraying The Martyrs at all, it’ll be from the cover of Let It Go from Frozen they did a few years back that picked up about as much traction as you’d expect from a novelty metalcore cover. Other than that, they’ve been a decent metalcore band at best, but all too readily became lost in the shuffle of a scene picking up too much turbulence at too fast a rate. It’s at least commendable to see them have another go with Eternal Machine then, even if it doesn’t look like the couple of years away have changed much and they’re still peddling a rote brand of Impericon-core that doesn’t look to have evolved much. Sure, the sense of scope can be bracing and they’ve got a surprisingly good guitar tone for this style of metalcore, but this is ultimately about as run-of-the-mill as it gets, following the usual scene tropes of favouring polish and melodrama over competent songwriting or original ideas. Sure, it does a bit more than those at the very bottom of the barrel, but that’s hardly saying much of anything at all.
The Hold Steady – The Last Time That She Talked To Me
As much as it doesn’t look like The Hold Steady’s next full album is on the horizon just yet, they’ve been doing well to put out plenty of new music and achieve a healthy amount of success from it. The Last Time That She Talked To Me is their ninth song in the last eighteen months, and while their brand of heartland indie-rock is rather rigid by design, it’s always charming to see how this band are able to spin it for something good. Here, the weaving saxophone and classic pop backing vocals stand out as the most prominent elements, picking up a decent sense of swing and groove that Craig Finn’s lackadaisical vocal delivery really works well against. The comparisons to Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart are rather blatant, but The Hold Steady are able to own them, and while it’s all a bit low-key and understated to be a real rollicking hit, this is the sort of indie-rock that’s incredibly easy to like and even easier to appreciate.
Charly Bliss – Chatroom
There’s something about Charly Bliss that’s consistently likable even if the music they produce doesn’t necessarily follow suit. As much of a mess as Capacity was, the band’s take on indie-pop that fully prioritised the pop was a welcome touch, and if they could find a way to use it properly, it could make for a truly fresh take on a sound that could desperately do with it. So here’s Chatroom, and while it’s not the solution to every issue just yet (the whooping bursts of synths still feel particularly extraneous), it’s definitely a step in the right direction. The bouncy chorus is probably the best fit possible for Eva Hendricks’ more sugary delivery, and with the biting lyricism that often feels like a necessary evener for music this tart, there’s depth and subversive underlying darkness that Charly Bliss can sell rather well. It still feels a bit overdone in spots, but the promise is showing even more this time around, and that could be a good sign for the new album on the horizon.
Fontaines D.C. – Roy’s Tune
The best thing that Fontaines D.C. can do at this point is keep their momentum up. It’s already been largely established that Dogrel is going to make some serious waves when it drops next month, and the fact that they’ve been able to keep up a decent quality in their singles shows that they’ll most likely be able to make the most of the success they likely get. Thus, it’s nice to see that momentum being repurposed in an interesting way on Roy’s Tune, turning the volume and tempo of their post-punk down for an elegant yet undeniably human indie-rock track that still lacks some of the nuance that Fontaines D.C. could really do with at this point (especially in the writing and vocal delivery), but it’s another solid track overall, showing a different side of this band that’s keeping the variety of their sound in tune. It’s ultimately going to take the whole album to deduce whether that’s something they can keep up, but the early signs are pointing in a more positive direction overall, and that’s encouraging at least.
Judah & The Lion – Why Did You Run?
All signs currently point towards Why Did You Run? doing incredibly well for Judah & The Lion. Given that they’re sonically positioned somewhere between Imagine Dragons and Mumford & Sons and that Take It All Back was such a huge smash for them, it’s hard to believe that they’re not looking to capitalise on all of that with their upcoming album and this newest single. Of course, it hits more or less every beat of flavourless modern indie-pop – broad, uninspired writing; production that sands away the mere possibility of edge with all colour going with it; a clear pivot towards pop in weedy drops that feel just as anonymous as the clattering percussion and occasional banjo twangs – but it’s less bad and more just nothing. This sort of indie-pop has been weaponised to be as inoffensive and spark as few vehement reactions as possible, and Judah & The Lion come across as though they’ve congealed every element of that into four minutes of white noise. It’ll go down well, sure, but don’t expect to get much mileage out of it for too long.
Heavy Rapids – Infected Nightmares (Frankenstein)
It’s frankly astonishing how close the influx of post-punk bands is to breaking its banks, and given how it seems that every one of them is being primed to follow in Idles’ footsteps, the time is bound to come when some serious quality control will need to take place. Saying that though, Heavy Rapids at least look to be displaying a bit more pliability with their sound, with Infected Nightmares (Frankenstein) feeling much closer to raucous, rough-hewn garage-punk with its post-punk roots only coming in a surging, bass-driven darkness. Honestly, it’s a good fit as well, pushing forward at a decent clip to stand out amongst many of its predecessors, and while not having a great deal that’s its own just yet, a meatier sense of melody and pace leaves a good early impression from a band who could definitely go on to do more with what they’ve got. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on them, if only to see what they’re capable of with more of a push.
Words by Luke Nuttall