Category Archives: Album Reviews

Blush – Moose blood Review

Blush isn’t an incredibly revolutionary album in the sense that it reinvents the wheel or creates its own genre, but it is an incredibly brilliant and perfectly executed emo album that I can’t stop listening to. Moose Blood’s sophomore album focuses on sounds from the 90s and 00s by creating a fresh album with catchy melodies that can communicate emotions directly to your brain, while remaining fresh and making you joyous and remorseful in the way the best emo music can. No song on Blush is a one dimensional song, it lives in the space of contradicting feelings and decisions. It breathes second guessing one’s decisions and trying to figure out how you actually feel when you aren’t sure what to feel.


One of my favorite set of emotions in music is acceptance of sad circumstances, but being able to continue on without delving into despair or self loathing. The emotion is evoked immediately on Blush on the first track, Pastel with a look at a relationship via a timeline and the longing for confirmation that the singer has made the right choices in his life. These contemplations are the things that everyone can relate to, but Moose Blood is able to boil the pondering into musical form and wonderfully relate it to the rest of us.

Most people can understand what the feeling of unreciprocated affection feels like. Even when a couple mutually agrees to break up, it doesn’t mean that was preferred by both parties. With a great pre-chorus guitar hook, Honey drives that feeling home with lyrics like, “It’s in the back of my mind, But it’s worse when I sleep, Now I’m losing my breath, And I’ll never understand how you could forget me”. The constant struggle of the mind for wanting what could have been could lead to anger, but Moose Blood keeps it positive saying that things will get better, even while dealing with the ever constant pain.

Knuckles, the third track on this album repeats one line many times. This isn’t an exercise in laziness though, it is a nostalgic desire to relive a bittersweet memory of the last interaction with someone they loved. That memory played over and over in his mind, knowing it can’t end in a positive way for him, but wishing it could have been different is one of the life’s great enigmas — what if? How that balances with his version of the way things really happened in his mind and yet realizing he wouldn’t change a thing from the moment that did happen comes across not only in the lyrics, but the delivery and melody and instrumentation, and yes — even the repetition, almost as if the singer believes what they are saying, but subconsciously wants to assure himself that it is true.

Sulk seems to be a less universally relatable situation with the singer comforting and trying to help a female friend pick up the pieces of her life after a broken friendship or relationship with a seemingly manipulative woman who used her at a low point in her life. Even though I am not as into this track as many others, it does use its three minutes on the album to further support the band’s wonderful craft of blending mixed emotions into music. To state these things about an emo album of course seems redundant, but it is the craft that Moose Blood brings to the table that allows them to stand above a well-worn and somewhat tropey subject matter and genre.

Track 5 of the album, titled “Glow” tells what could be either a metaphorical or literal account of a father leaving his family behind. Potentially the most accurate response to the situation is how Moose Blood portrays it with the lines, “Wish you were in a better way, But now it’s done and I’ll move on” while implying they haven’t fully moved on. The singer admits they weren’t okay with what happened. As with Knuckles it becomes obvious that closure is not possible and self convincing may be necessary to be able to work out what happened emotionally, even while outwardly trying to move on.

Cheek is probably the best song on the album and is the exemplification of some of the core conflicting emotions that this style of music is about. So many feelings that fight with logic and how a single comment can make you second guess how you really feel about someone.  A mundane conversation with a woman that is in love with someone else can be so difficult when you love said woman. The song is about living as a friend for someone you want to be more, the inevitability of that affecting how you see their partner, and how even an offhand comment of affection could hurt so bad. Moose Blood’s power to convey these emotions in a description of mundane conversations backed by such solid musicality is top notch.

I’m not 100% sure about the meaning of Sway. To the best of my knowledge it is about an annoying roommate that everyone hates who constantly swears he will change. Sonically I am into the feel and mood of this song, but it is probably the track that I understand the least and thus isn’t as strong as the rest of the album. Melodically it is still very compelling and will stick with you for a long time.

Shimmer is another expertly crafted song controlling the melody and tempo in a way that drives home the story about loving someone so much more than they love you. It is about a relationship with disparate differences in how the individuals in the relationship see the relationship itself. The singer can tell so much about the way his partner kisses, but ironically and in a way that reeks of hyperbole ponders if she would even recognize him on the street. The way the melody stays in the lower register emphasizes not only sadness, but disappointment and bitter acceptance of the inevitability of more pain. When the guitars wail on this track it brings a different side then the rest of the album in the form of raw pain represented in the distortion of the guitars which are clean on the rest of the song.

Spring is a somber song portraying an account of a close one that seemingly took their own life. It is an honest questioning of their friends pain and experience. The singer recounts happy memories, and the emptiness that now accompanies those memories hand in hand. Even after three years, the singer understandably can’t make sense of the situation or the reasons it ended the way it did, believing in an afterlife to help ease the unresolved ponderings of what happens to those left behind when someone commits suicide.

Freckle is written from a different perspective. What if you were in a relationship that you desperately wanted to succeed while knowing every sign points indicates deterioration? The constant fighting and nagging in a relationship defined by strife instead of harmony is almost certainly going to end in termination, but war is better than loneliness right? Right? Blush wraps up with another stellar track in which the honesty of how people think about their problems in their own head is put front and center, regardless of whether it seems stupid to endlessly ponder these questions on paper.

A mastercraft in living incongruously with your feelings, Moose Blood’s Blush delivers track after track a stream of consciousness in such a down to earth way that makes me unable to put this album down. The melodies of each song are not only catchy, but impactful and effective at bypassing the logical portion of the brain and entering straight to the gut. Blush is about the paradoxes of relationships that are less than perfect, and the minute to minute contemplations of what steps to take at any given point.

ULTIMATE SCORE: 5/5 Stars
5 stars

Youth Authority – Good Charlotte Review

Good Charlotte’s 6th album, entitled Youth Authority is the first album released by the band after a long hiatus. The band, now having been together for 20 years is approaching this release as grown ups who have mostly made their peace with the ongoings of life in a scene that spawned from groups of angry teenagers who needed a release. This makes for a very different thematic attempt at a new feel for pop punk that has its hits and misses.

Young Authority begins with a biographical recounting of the story of Good Charlotte as a band. The opening track of the album, Life Changes establishes lyrically how the band has grown up and sonically it establishes a more relaxed and cheery sounding tone and attitude in contrast to the complaining and anger focused on in their youth.

Makeshift Love takes a step back from that more mature perspective as a pop / punk / emo song blended with a more modern pop song that makes it one of the best tracks on the album. A medical metaphor for making up with a partner that you are fighting with would easily fit in the pantheon of older GC work and their chosen genre as a whole. More modern production values combined with the melodic harmonies are reminiscent of GC’s most famous album, The Young and the Hopeless.

40 oz. Dream is a song that is essentially the newest generation’s version of the song 1985 as made popular by Bowling for Soup. GC takes a nostalgic look back on their life and current trends only to realize that they are old and times have changed. (“Now all the punk rockers are over 40, They’re coaching little league and reading stories“) The track has a somewhat familiar sounding generic pop/rock feel that I feel like I should think is a cheap cash in, but I can’t help but identify with the sentiment of the song, which seems like it comes from an honest place. Everyone can relate to looking back to a portion of their life that they enjoyed most and longing to spend another day there.

Life Can’t Get Much Better comes across as one partner in a relationship trying to remind a potential breakup of all the good things about their relationship together. It is written from the perspective of someone who desperately misses their partner and doesn’t want to lose all that they had together. The thing that makes it rise above however, is its almost blindly hopeful tone. The writer truly believes that the relationship will be restored and has invested themselves in that idea regardless of how they will feel if they are wrong. I think this might be the closest thing that this album gets to some of the raw emotional edge that could be heard on their previous work.

Keep Swingin’ is a track attempting to play off of any critics of the band who has implied over the years that they have “sold out”. One of the biggest criticisms of the band came from their 2007 “Good Morning Revival” album where their sound had conformed very heavily to trends at the time and lyrically the band seemed to joined the “rich and famous” they railed against on their breakout album The Young and the Hopeless. GC uses this track to say that they’ve always stayed true to the band’s core and played honest representations of themselves. The track works in parallel with previously mentioned “Life Changes” to say that this album is who they are now.

Reason to Stay, which features scottish band Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil on a verse seems to be an opposite sentiment of that in Life Can’t Get Much Better where the protagonist of the song is begging their partner to give them a reason to stay in a relationship that seems to have a rift growing. This song is catchy enough, but the Simon Neil’s inclusion seems throwaway and pointless and the song itself is somewhat kitchy in a way that feels a little bit forced by its subject matter to be emotionally important, while remaining kind of plain.

Stray Dogs, once again, focuses on a guy trying to get a girl to stay with him, but this track is the most forgettable throwaway song on the album mostly because lyrically it is not only dull, but a bit stupid. Lyrics like “Don’t leave me stray, I’m just a dog without you” and “I’m giving you the same old speech again, Like they do on CNN” are accompanied by nothing gripping musically. This track should have stayed on the cutting room floor.

The next three tracks (Stick to Your Guns, The Outfield, and Cars Full of People) begin a string of songs where the band actually attempts to assume their role of the “Youth Authority”. Stick to your Guns is a 1:29 long encouragement for someone to keep trying to live their dreams, while The Outfield similarly tries to relate to someone trying to get their start now. The Outfield is a more biographical relation of the struggles of the band’s earlier era (note obvious reference to their magnum opus). (“We were the young and hopeless, We were the broken youth, You’re not the only one they used, I was in the outfield too”). This song also seems to be pushing people to keep grinding. Cars Full of People has a good melody and relates the reality of the odds of making it with so many people telling them that there is no way that they could. While musically the song is enjoyable, this becomes the third track in a row with essentially the same message with no additional themes introduced. I would hope that as the Youth Authority, there might be additional wisdom that GC could offer their proteges, but it seems that continuing in the face of adversity is their entire message.

War is back to relationship struggles. Once again the concept is fighting with a significant other. It seems that the song mentions warring against their partner, but also when push comes to shove, they will defend them against the world. This track contains the only real hint of a darker sound on the album and even with its repeated subject matter again, I think it introduces enough new sounds that it doesn’t feel like a complete rehash of the previous relationship related songs on this album.

The final track on the album is the acceptance of an ended relationship. The closing out of this relationship is both mutual and regrettable and the singer wants the summary to be good memories of the best parts of their love affair. (“We’re not breaking up, we’re just moving on.”) Unfortunately, I can’t really connect with this song. The message of the song seems to only come across on the surface and doesn’t really seem to musically hit home. It isn’t a bad track, but doesn’t stand out in a way that feels impactful.

Ultimately the album really boils down to a basic pop / punk album from the perspective of some older guys trying to get back into the game. They encourage the youth not to give up on their hopes and dreams and have some failed relationships along the way. With the title Youth Authority, I would have expected to hear more detailed insight from a band that has come full circle on being nobodies who made it famous back to a band who doesn’t fully know where they stand in culture anymore. While fun to listen to, the album doesn’t really stand out as a unified piece of work. Certain tracks are likely to get listened to repeatedly while others will be left by the wayside lost to the test of time leaving about half of a good album.

ULTIMATE SCORE: 3/5 Stars
3 stars

Where the Light Shines Through – Switchfoot Review

Switchfoot is back with their tenth studio album and this time with the producer that helped them with their three biggest albums, The Beautiful Letdown, Nothing is Sound, and Oh! Gravity. The album doesn’t copy any of those three albums, but rather has bits and pieces of effects and filters that remind one of those greats. For the most part, Switchfoot is able to play off of their older work, creating something new and enjoyable, only rarely coming across as copying anything they have already made.



“Where the Light Shines Through” album starts off with a thesis statement of “Because hope deserves an anthem”. The opening track, “Holy Water”, is a plea for authenticity and revival. The tonal and lyrical aura of this song establish the concept behind Switchfoot’s most spiritual album in years. The track itself is catchy and the bridge is good stuff that does seem reminiscent of some of Switchfoot’s midlife albums, The Beautiful Letdown and Nothing is Sound, but unlike Nothing is Sound, the overwhelming vibe of Where the Light Shines Through is positive and encouraging.

“Float”, the second track on the album explores a new sound for the group. Tim Foreman gets to explore a fun bass line while the guitars focus on a sound that somewhat resembles a disco back track and sound quality. While the feel of the song is a departure, I think they pull it off in a way that can stick in your head even after the song ends. Unfortunately lyrically the song is rather shallow “screw the haters” sort of ditty that doesn’t hold up to much introspection.

The title track of the album carries an uplifting message similar to Nothing is Sound’s, “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine”. The song’s emphasis on the light shining through dark times is accompanied by a relaxing and peaceful melody backed by a “back porch chill” kind of  light rock guitar lines. Foreman argues that the scars we have will stick with us forever (“the only tattoos I have are scars”), but don’t define who we are (“the story that brought us here ain’t the thing that changed”). The song even seems to emphasize the tribulations could be blessings in disguise with the repeated line “Well Mama, ain’t’ the scar like a vision of grace”.

“I Won’t Let You Go” is a wonderful song emphasizing loyalty to someone even during hard times. With a sound somewhat harkening back to a little bit of an “Oh! Gravity” feel, Foreman’s beautiful voice comes across as a sweet, earnest promise of love while the music surrounds the message of the lyrics and crescendos and decrescendos perfectly with each musical phrase. This is one of my favorite tracks from the album.

In a track about putting our priorities in perspective, “If the House Burns Down Tonight” is an anthem chanting “If the house burns down tonight, I got everything I need when I got you by my side, and let the rest burn”. The track tells of a mental reckoning of the things that matter in one’s life and the abandonment of those things that are frivolous as they, “[are] draining me dry making a ghost of me”. Obvious nods to some of the production of The Beautiful Letdown come across in the intro to this song with the early build up of this song with the chosen bass filter.

The spirituality of the album is perhaps most clear in the song “The Day that I Found God”. The gist of the message in the song is that losing yourself is the key to finding God. While the song is not specific in any of its doctrinal assumptions, one could relate the feelings portrayed in this track as the peace that comes with a correct repentance and understanding of sovereignty. I think it might be incorrect to read that much into the track however and take it as the more basic and clearly presented message that the problems in one life are self-caused and God eases those burdens. One is likely to see the spirituality they want to in any given Switchfoot song however, as the focus seems to be on the emotional response to the events described as less about any theological concept.

Unfortunately, there are some tracks that I really didn’t care for that much. The offenders in question are Shake This Feeling and Live it Well. As one of the singles released in anticipation for the album, “Live It Well” has been out in the public for a while. Unfortunately, this is what I feel is one of the worst tracks on the album. Lyrically, Switchfoot has broached the broad subject matter of living life to the best of one’s ability repeatedly in similar ways on every one of their albums ever. On top of that, this track specifically seems to feel like an extra track that didn’t fit on Fading West or The Edge of the Earth EP. That isn’t to say that it is a bad track, just that it feels like a mediocre re-run of a tv show you’ve seen before. Shake This Feeling musically also feels like a track that’s bit sitting for a while and didn’t fit on another album and lyrically just feels like generic “pick yourself back up and try again” chant.

A rarer inspiration, “Bull in a China Shop” almost feels like it takes musical sounds and queues from Learning to Breathe’s “Poparazzi” or maybe even some of their The Legend of Chin or New Way to be Human. The message of the song is pretty much just one of being amped up for something, and while I don’t necessarily think the whole song comes together as well as I’d hoped, it is still has a good beat that you can bop your head to and will stay with you.

“Looking for America” marks a very different sound and feel for Switchfoot that doesn’t come together as effectively as you would hope. With a Lecrae feature and as the only track on the album that even feels “darker” at all, the song seems to question the greatness of this country. The subject matter of this song has been done before to better results previously (Politicians from Nothing is Sound and American Dream from Oh! Gravity), and while the Lecrae feature makes sense with his current message of social justice in our country this song almost feels cheesy as a whole. It isn’t the individual pieces of this track that cause it to not be great, it is the execution.

Immediately bringing to mind Oh! Gravity’s “Ameteur Lovers”,  Healer of Souls is a relatively generic plea for people to run to the “healer of souls” to fix the everyday problems that we have. Once again, as a Switchfoot song, people will read as much or as little meaning into the relatively unspecific messages in this song as they would like, but musically the song has a good build up and is fun and could easily be a great windows-rolled-down singing at the top of your lungs song that will undoubtedly be a great song to experience live.

The final track of the album, “Hope is the Anthem” does a better job of using some of the sounds Switchfoot experimented on with their last two outputs without feeling like a carbon copy. It wraps the album up with a spiritual bow implying that hope (presumably in a deity though individually the song could be referring to a lover) is the Holy Water referred to as the fuel of one’s fire in the opening track titled the same. Feeling equally cheesy and also genuine somehow, this song brings it all back around in a circular theme that I think succeeds more than it fails.

Though Where the Light Shines Through goes back for inspiration from their previous sounds relatively frequently, for the most part it doesn’t feel lazy or contrived, but instead a loving homage to those things that probably got you into Switchfoot in the first place. While not a perfect album, or even Switchfoot’s best, the album is definitely listenable and will most likely be enjoyed by people that are already on board for Switchfoot’s blending of spiritual theming and light rock. While I don’t think the album will convince any Switchfoot haters to come over to the light side, I personally enjoy it and will be listening to it along with the rest of their catalogue for years.
ULTIMATE SCORE: 4/5 Stars
4 stars

Bored to Death – blink-182 Review

Blink-182’s return with California is a great balance of not straying too far from their roots, while also avoiding stagnation. In what I would call their best album since 1999’s Enima of the State, Blink takes advantage of their new lineup and increased lifetime experience to craft a unique album that straddles the line of preserving a nearly 30 year old sound without ignoring what has happened in the music industry since the band formed in 1992.

Lyrically Blink-182’s 7th studio album starts off immediately in a way that directly addresses the controversy surrounding the band, namely the loss of Tom DeLonge. You can read everywhere about different sides and opinions on this exit, but the past is past and for better or worse, Matt Skiba has now taken the role of guitarist and co-lead singer of the band. As the opening song (Cynical) speeds up and Barker’s wild drumming kicks in, the stance of the remaining members seems to come out loud and clear with the lines “What’s the point of saying sorry now (not sorry, not sorry, not sorry, I’m not sorry)”

Notably, the loss of DeLonge does seem to have changed the band’s sound from that of their previous full length album, Neighborhoods. When DeLonge began releasing albums with his side project Angels & Airwaves, he explored a more moody and spacey sound. I think the beginnings of that sound can even be heard on Blink’s self titled album, but in Neighborhoods they came across loud and clear. California retains none of that influence and instead chooses to operate at a different frequency that allows them to operate in familiar territory without cloning their previous work.

Though this year seems like it may be shaking out to be a revival of the second wave genre, it has long since been out of the spotlight and to lose this sound that was so influential in my growing years would be a bit of an artistic tragedy, and yes, I do realize that is a funny sentence to use when describing a genre known for its sophomoric outlook on life. Nevertheless, it feels a sort of poetic justice that some of the largest progenitors of this genre in the mainstream would be influential in its revival the second time around.

Their first single, Bored to Death, is a great example of what 2nd wave pop/punk sounds like in 2016. While the genre tropes do exist in full force, the sound is not that of the early 00’s. Blink-182 manages on this track to remind people who they are without aping who they have been. With its darker tone, and subject matter, I think it also addresses the idea of aging rockers returning to the scene of their younger lives. It is a cynical look at their endeavor that reeks of honesty. The repeated chorus lines, “Back on earth, I’m broken, Lost and cold and fading fast ,Life is too short to last long” are a bleak outlook that works with the genre and the band’s age without simply posing the angst of their younger years.

Many of the other tracks on the album seem pensive in their chase for nostalgia, both in their harmonies which invoke a feeling of familiarity without feeling lazy and also lyrically and tonally with their longing for old relationships and places obviously full of memories. Part of my enjoyment of the album stems from the melding of the band’s nostalgic tracks and the listener’s nostalgic reaction to this band and their music. This wistful longing for things past is something Blink leans heavily on which in turn leaves the listener with the type of bittersweet emotions that stick with you even after the music stops playing.

Thankfully, not every track of the album is dependent on sadness as “She’s Out of Her Mind” proves. A fast and fun ditty about being in love with a girl who is a little bit crazy has one of those choruses that will get stuck in your head for days. The sarcasm of lines like, “She’s not complicated at all” feel more comedic than mean-spirited. This track and others such as “Sober” and “California” that prove that the Blink-182 humorous perspective is still represented in the current lineup. Speaking of humor, it has been years since Blink-182 has put out joke tracks an on LP and along with the humor in the previously mentioned tracks, two songs, “Built This Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody” exist as the stupidity you deserve for listening to a Blink album–this I say with all due respect as a fan of the genre.

I keep coming back to this album even after a week of constantly listening to this album multiple times every day. Something about the skillful blend of old and new somehow invokes freshness and old memories at the same time. This is an album that will stick in my head for a good long while and will invoke happiness and sadness in my heart with each listen.

ULTIMATE SCORE: 5/5 Stars

5 stars