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Exclusive: Life On The Sideline EP announcement, music video premiere

Since releasing Honesty Is A Dying Breed two years ago, Life On The Sideline has remained active on the road and is now ready to unveil its upcoming EP, Never Settle. To kick things off, we're premiering the music video for the band's new single, "Echo", which tells the sad story of a young girl reminiscing times spent with her deceased partner. While not a pop punk song per se, it's as catchy as one with an infectious chorus that you'll inevitably get stuck in your head. The band's sound could be compared to that of Transit's and The Early November's. Fans can pre-order the EP on iTunes and CD here, before it's released on June 7th. […]

Sunday, December 29, 2013

End of Year Lists: MTS Collective Staff, Pt. 2

Our staff albums of the year lists continue with two more of our writers, Aaron and Ryan. Let us know what you think! Click the Read More… link to view the lists.

Aaron Akeredolu, Writer

Albums of the Year

1. Turnover - Magnolia (Run For Cover Records)
Easily my favourite release of this year by far. I am enthralled with every aspect of this record, from guitar tones to lyrical content, which resonates greatly with me. Turnover has scythed away all the excess, which I feel has dragged their previous efforts, and produced a record that perfectly embodies the feral spirit of being young. Every element of the record is interlocked into one another, compacting into the wall of sound that you won’t be able to pinpoint. Sincerity bridges the record from one track to the next. A medal must go out to Will Yip for his contribution to the independent music scene this year and this record in particular. Magnolia is the most distinct record to have come out of the punk/emo/pop punk circles in at least a decade.

2. Citizen - Youth (Run For Cover Records)
The dynamics present on this record are jaw-dropping. There are certain moments when, as a listener, you are pushed to the extremes of claustrophobia as the looming resent that Mat Kerekes projects (for his love object) is unsettling. The close detail of the intricacies of the vocal layering is impressive as well and only intensified my positive response to the record when I first heard it. This record is so cinematic as a result of the way the lyrics and instrumentation mesh so well together. One particular visual I have is of a Humphrey Boghart-esque film noir scene, where I can vividly see Mat Kerekes leaning over the wheel of his car on “The Night I Drove Alone”. Surreal.

3. Have Mercy - The Earth Pushed Back (Topshelf Records)
I love how the nature of this record never seems to settle in once place for too long. Yes, its core can be seen to be placed within the "emo” spectrum, but there are so many moments when this record runs to the fringes of other genres, just scraping the surface of other elements. The Earth Pushed Back is a mixture of old school emo bands like Eliott and Garrison. The snarl of the vocals repeatedly sent shivers throughout my body while I was listening to the songs. This record is definitely more of an experience - almost a labyrinth of sounds that you are assisted with through the help of the band. This is such a great debut.

4. football, etc. - Audible (Count Your Lucky Stars)
I was quite sceptical of this second record from football, etc. Mainly because I have never been enthusiastic over any of their records to the point where I could say I loved an entire effort from start to finish. Regardless of my mounting reluctance, I still checked out Audible and was pleased to have been proven wrong. I love the grand all-encompassing nature the songs now have. The spirit on Audible is continuously uplifting, a more concise effort than previous records, and evident of how much the band has benefited when polishing their sound in the right places.

5. Fingers Crossed - Dedos Crusados
This record is packed with a high-spirited energy that just seeps into your ears and commands your limbs to jolt in all directions - skank, if you were. Over the last year or so I have developed an affinity for guitar tones and this record caters every thirst associated with it. The guitars reminiscent of Green Day’s Dookie, yet are laced in the same treble-sprinkled magic evident on Lifetime’s Hello Bastards. This record is the sonic mirror image of one of those clichéd American punk rock jocks looking back through ageing photos of their booze-fuelled antics at the punk rock club on a Friday night. Endearing emotional punk rock.

6. The Braces - Two Years (Paper + Plastick Records)
This is the most ambitious modern punk rock record I have heard in a while. The production is flawless and I love how snotty Zack Sekuler is in the right places. I can only imagine how overwhelming this record would be played in its entirety live. The dynamics are what separate this record from your run-of-the-mill punk rock plethora of records out there. Zack Sekuler is also the prince of one-liners - God damn, he really is. This record is so expansive and could easily transcend any music enthusiast’s cemented preferences. This is an example of innovative song-writing within punk.

7. Bad Rabbits - American Love (Bad Records)
I have reconnected with my initial love of '80s and '90s R&B (New Jack Swing) and soul in the last year or so and this record came around at the perfect time for me to indulge my excess of funk and '80s R&B, which American Love is riddled with. The musicianship upholds the integrity of the genre using the predecessors Earth, Wind & Fire and early-Prince, to name a few. This is a summer feel-good record destined to be played at the heights of a prosperous day. This record is a certain way to pry you out of your miserable stupors.

8. State Champs - The Finer Things (Pure Noise Records)
I had been anticipating this record for such a long time, and I am thrilled that the band capitalized on their progress evident on the previous EPs, Overslept and Apparently I’m Nothing. State Champs have come so far and it just shows in the confidence that spills from every song on The Finer Things. The ballsy nature of their sound has always made them stand out. State Champs definitely come from a certain strand of pop punk that is not prevalent currently within our scene. They were the underdogs for so long, however their distinct angst in their songs has definitely propelled them to the forefront.

9. Long Lost - Save Yourself, Start Again (No Sleep Records)
I was reluctant at first to listen to this record as I was scared it would be reminiscent of later-Transit, which hasn’t struck any chords with me. I was pleased to have been met with something that has put me in my place. I love the clarity of the sound (production-wise and aesthetically) on this record, which reminds me of bands such as Death Cab For Cutie. While listening to this record I felt like the reels of an indie film were playing within the parameters of my head. I also think the simplicity of Joe Boynton’s distinct lyrical ability works so well here, where his words sway without resistance to the musicianship present on Save Yourself, Start Again.

10. Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe (Domino Records)
Again, this is another example of an R&B record that has satisfied my hunger for a reinvigorated sound of the genre I am re-familiarising myself with. The musical textures within this record never fail to encapsulate me and mentally transport me somewhere else other than my concrete state. There are so many layers within this record, which allow me to revel in the different sounds that I discover with every listen. This record is so innovative and accurately portrays the nature of the authenticity of those classic silky R&B records. The instrumentation is so expansive and just presents another world vividly to you.

EPs of the Year

1. Dam - A.B.C. No Kouten EP (Revontulet Records)
This is my favourite EP of 2013, surprisingly, from a sweet J-Rock band that I discovered through a friend. Now this is nothing but solid anthemic alternative/punk with an emo twang that coyly slides in between their sound. This record has a glorious sound, that is depth-plunging during its solemn moments and nauseatingly fast when the blast beats kick in, which are the highlights of A.B.C. No Kouten. Dam is reminiscent of bands such as At The Drive-In and an angsty Twin Atlantic blending the flailing motions of solid rock with the sombre caress of emo. Emotion just soaks this EP.

2. Make Your Mark - Werewolves EP
Sadly, this is the last effort from this band that split up this year, but by no means did they leave at a low point in their career. This record reminds me of the refreshing spark of early Save Your Breath and integrity of pop sheen that Kids In Glass Houses initially had. At a time where there's an ilk of bands surfacing, who are diluted versions of The Story So Far and Neck Deep, with this EP alone, Make Your Mark distanced themselves away from their UK peers. Their brand of pop punk that taps into indie and pop rock will without a doubt welcome you into its arms.

3. Adventures - Clear My Head With You EP (No Sleep Records)
An incredible step up from the last EP (which was already pretty impressive). There is definitely more of a '90s emo influence wedged within Clear My Head With You. Adventures have refined the mellow counterpart of their sound, which was hidden on their previous EP. Reba Meyer’s vocals are incredible throughout, where her ability to smoothly cross the bridge between her raspy clean vocals into her skin-folding screams in her distinct way will surely establish a cult devoted to herself.

4. A Place In Time - Transitions EP
A much more mature release when compared to previous efforts. A Place In Time quite frankly are just unstoppable. I love the technical noodly nature that looms in the background behind the wall of the catchy pop rock, which is prevalent. The distinct merciless passionate harmonies of Joel Johnson and Duo Glover are on point as usual. If the last bridge on “Three Or Four Words” doesn’t give you shivers, then the cells beneath your skin are dead or maybe more accurately you are dead.

5. Godard/Like Home - Split EP
This is a great effort to come out of the UK, showcasing a great phase of both bands. Godard reminds me a lot of Living With Lions while Like Home remind me of Ages. These are forces clearly not to be slept on by the quality of this split. I am so proud to be from the UK. These are both relatively small bands that will surely have their names thrown around everywhere next year.

6. Free Throw - Lavender Town EP
I am a sucker for bands with film excerpts spliced into their music, as I love the initiative bands take in providing other auditory resources to further exemplify narratives in their songs – a convention of classic emo bands. I challenge you to try and not lull your head in unison to the bold guitar strokes and noodly loopy riffs. I love the production of this EP which is crisp and feels more like an aural time capsule rather than an actual recording.

7. Flashlights - Don't Take Me Seriously EP (Hard Rock Records)
This is a great no-thrills pop punk record that packs a punch and upholds the barrage of punches throughout the EP. The simplicity of Don’t Take Me Seriously is part of its charm. Everything is so fine-tuned and tight, adamant on encouraging you to dance. It’s a wonder how much discontent can be placed into such sugary songs. I love the vocals on this record that sound so playful, coy, and reluctant, which adds to the bouncy demeanour of the EP. A power pop treat.

8. Giants - Misguided EP
This double-sided EP really reminds me of old-school Bad Religion with some of your classic AFI Sing The Sorrow “woahs” added in perfectly - I love how Giants reinvigorate this particular sound. The best moments are when the skate-punk core grinds its teeth in front of your face. This is a solid example of the diversity of the hardcore scene within the south of the UK (where I'm from).

9. For The Life Of Me - Closure EP
I love the solemn warmth that is emitted from this EP. The guitar tones are chunky and hazy in the best kind of way, as if they were ripped from a generic band from Sub Pop’s discography. Elements of post rock can be found in the streaks of punk rock that For The Life Of Me showcase. I love how far down into the pits of despair the vocalist sends you as the snarls of his voice fade. This is a great introduction to the band, especially if you are a fan of bands like Samiam and the intricate moments of Grade.

10. At The Edge - I Know I'll Be Okay EP
This EP reminds me so much of This Time Next Year and early-Set Your Goals. At The Edge perfectly propel the radiant nature that is aligned with pop punk. While listening to this record, I felt so connected with the members of this band - it was surreal, through relative experience, more than anything. I Know I’ll Be Okay spoke so much to me at a pivotal phase of my life where I wanted to achieve more in my life. “Maybe Some Day” is an example of the typical sentiments of striving for hope while being stuck in a right done right.

Ryan McGrath, Writer

Albums of the Year

1. Saves The Day - Self-Titled (Equal Vision Records)
Saves the Day will always be one of my favorite bands, though in my younger years it took me a while to get into their material past Stay What You Are. Continuing where they left off with Daybreak (which I believe is one of the band's most underrated albums), their follow-up release not only blends together elements of Daybreak, but also incorporates slight influences from previous work. It is obvious that with their age in progression as a band they will never put out another Through Being Cool-esque record, however this release captures the joyful essence and spirit of beloved STD albums, while creating something fresh and exciting. With many heartwarming and catchy songs like “Remember” and “In The In Between”, this is a fun and blissful record that any die-hard STD fan will immediately fall in love with.

2. Pity Sex - Feast Of Love (Run For Cover Records)
This year, Pity Sex have definitely established themselves with the release of their full-length, Feast Of Love. As a follow-up from their previous release, Dark World, Feast Of Love is a beautifully-crafted release that will draw you in with its mesmerizing sound. It is guaranteed that you will instantly find yourself lost in a blissful state of peace when listening to this record from beginning to end. Iconic songs on Feast Of Love, like “Wind Up”, “Honey Pot”, “Sedated”, and “Drown Me Out”, will make you weak at the knees for the band’s gritty lo-fi and shoegaze dynamic. This album was a cornerstone masterpiece for my summer soundtrack. Getting hooked on Pity Sex’s dreamy lines and fuzzed out tones felt perfect to unwind to while embracing the summer heat.

3. Daylight - Jar (Run For Cover Records)
The first time I heard Daylight play “In On It” live, the immediate thought that came to mind was simply summarized into two words: “grunge revival”. For the first half of 2013, Jar was definitely my top pick for album of year. Incorporating heavily-distorted and grungy elements to their sound in tracks like “Life In A Jar”, “No One’s Deserving”, and “Knew”, listening to this record definitely brought me back to the way I felt when I first discovered Nirvana eons and eons ago. The impeccable riffs in the opening track “Sponge” will instantly get you hooked on this record without a doubt. For those who have placed albums like Floral Green and Colourmeinkindness on their AOTY lists last year, Jar is a record that should also definitely be high up on everybody’s top picks for 2013.

4. Sainthood Reps - Headswell (No Sleep Records)
Sainthood Reps' latest release is a completely mind-blowing record to listen to from start to finish. Headswell’s raw and explosive sound combines elements of grunge and post-hardcore, which can be found in head-banging songs like “Desert Song”, “Shelter”, “The Last Place You Looked”, and “Run Like Hell”. Complimentary to this album as well is the way Sainthood Reps blissfully incorporates mesmerizing post-rock elements. Listeners cannot help, but sit back and be blown by the intensity and beauty that has been crafted within songs like “Drone”, “Fall”, and the title track, “Headswell”. This is an impeccable release that has proven to be one of my favorite releases from the second of this year.

5. Have Mercy - The Earth Pushed Back (Topshelf Records)
Have Mercy’s debut full-length, The Earth Pushed Back, was an album I found myself listening to on constant repeat when it first came out. The musicianship of this release is beautiful on its own, while lyrically each song somehow finds ways to constantly rip your heart out piece by piece. Standalone tracks like “Hell”, “Let’s Talk About Your Hair”, and “Weak At The Knees” recollect blissful melodic interludes and explosive chords that may be comparable to jaw-dropping musicianship elements of Manchester Orchestra.

6. Balance And Composure - The Things We Think We're Missing (No Sleep Records)
Maybe it’s because of the fact that I have always had a nostalgic attachment to Separation, but for some reason I felt like I was late-bloomer when actually giving this album the time of day. However, overall the record naturally feels like one of the band’s best releases. I was completely blown away by the raw intensity of the album’s opening tracks “Parachutes” and “Lost Your Name”. For some reason, I couldn’t have helped but been reminded of first listening to Only Boundaries when I first got into this album, and of course the chronological transitions leading from songs like “Tiny Raindrop” and “Notice Me” into the interlude “Ella” are extremely incredible. Separation will always have a soft spot in my heart, but this is on a completely different level.

7. Polar Bear Club - Death Chorus (Rise Records)
For those who have been following my reviews on the site, I had the opportunity to give Death Chorus a listen and write up a lengthy review. As a follow-up to Clash Battle Guilt Pride, Polar Bear Club once again, brings together another explosive and passionate record that takes slight influence from their previous release. Standalone tracks like “Blood Balloon”, “For Sure”, “WLWYCD”, and “Upstate Mosquito” provide devoted listeners with a charming and charismatic lyrical narrative that will put a heartwarming smile on their faces. You can say whatever you want about Jimmy Stadt’s voice, but nothing can take away the heart and dedication from the band’s beloved energetic musicianship. Even though progression is natural for a band to experience in order to grow, Polar Bear Club is a band that will always stay true to their signature sound.

8. Incendiary - Cost Of Living (Closed Casket Activities)
There is no doubt that Long Island’s Incendiary definitely put out one the best hardcore albums of the year. On the rise with several releases under their belts, including their debut full-length, Crusade, as well as split EPs with heavy-hitting acts like Suburban Scum and Xibalba, Cost Of Living is a follow-up release that has everybody talking about Incendiary this year. Compared to the intensity and raw fury from their previous releases, Cost Of Living is an album that is on a whole other level.

9. Alkaline Trio - My Shame Is True (Epitaph Records)
With the release of My Shame Is True, I definitely found myself becoming completely obsessed with Alkaline Trio more than ever. Songs like “She Lied To The FBI” and “I Want To Be A Warhol” are standalone singles that instantly got me hooked onto this album prior to its release. While Songs like “Kiss You To Death”, “Young Lovers”, and “Until Death Do Us Part” are perfect treats to satisfy my sweettooth for lovesick punk songs. This is an album that I would constantly listen to repeat over and over again without getting sick and tired of.

10. The Front Bottoms - Talon Of The Hawk (Bar None Records)
Out of every single New Jersey band that I have seen since I started going to local shows, The Front Bottoms was a band that I have actually had the opportunity to watch successfully grow. My second time seeing them live was back in summer 2009 when they opened for my friend’s band at a Knights Of Columbus Hall where they literally played in front of less than thirty people. After seeing them play sold-out shows at beloved NJ venues, their fan base has continued to rapidly grow. While their fourth studio album sounds extremely well-produced compared to the rough and simple quality of their older material, the fun and simplicity behind their songs hasn’t changed at all. Upbeat songs like “Skeleton” and “The Feud” have proven to be fan-favorites, while honest and emotional songs like “Twin Size Mattress” and “Swear To God The Devil Made Me Do It” reflect their progression and maturity as musicians since their early days. With their catchy songs and upbeat sound, go ahead and blast Talon Of The Hawk at a party and watch everybody in the room have a blast.

Honorable Mention

Boysetsfire - While A Nation Sleeps… (Bridge Nine Records)
Out of all the records that have grabbed my attention this year, Boysetsfire’s was a record that I found myself listening to on constant repeat. For a band that has been around this long, Boysetsfire still slay as much as they did in their youth. In comparison to their previous releases, the band continues the pattern of spontaneously transitioning back and forth from heavy-hitting angst-fueled songs to heartfelt post-hardcore anthems. The interlude sound clips of Charlie Chaplin’s famous film, The Great Dictator, appropriately compliments each transition in between heavier and softer songs. We are also graced with a revamped version of their closing ballad “Prey”. Though this album barely cut through the tracks on my of albums of the year list, it is still an album worth mentioning in some sense. This is a genuine release that captures the ethics and sincerity of what post-hardcore music should embody. The raw intensity of this record beautifully complimented pure emotion behind the band’s musicianship and that’s what usually draws me back into this record every time I listen to it.

EPs of the Year

1. Title Fight - Spring Songs EP (Revelation Records)
As a huge Title Fight fan since early-high school, each new release has been better than the last. After completely falling in love with Floral Green, Title Fight went above and beyond with the release of their latest EP. This is definitely a unique and interesting release that provide devoted fans with the best of both worlds, bringing to life a refreshing and mesmerizing sound that captures the influence from heavy reverb bands like Slowdive and Ride. Sticking true to their melodic hardcore and emo roots, listening to Spring Songs almost makes you feel as if you were listening to songs that mashed together elements Shed and Floral Green. The desolate tone and honesty captured in the song “Receiving Line” definitely got me completely hooked onto this record and has become one of my favorite songs of the year.

2. In Between - Still EP (No Sleep Records)
In Between has to be one of my favorite bands in the scene right now. After hearing their demo for the first time last year, I never turned back. Their No Sleep Records debut, Still is a complete breath of fresh air.As a brief follow-up from their previous release, So Steady, In Between brings to the table five new genuine tracks in vein of iconic melodic acts, such as Lifetime, Silent Majority, and Avail. Highlighted on many samplers throughout the year, a definite standalone track on the album would definitely be "Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head". Still is one of those EPs that you will find yourself listening to over and over again, only to leave you begging for more. It is clear that Still is just a small taste of what could be expected in the near future. I am crossing my fingers for a full-length to be announced next year.

3. Pentimento - Inside The Sea EP (Paper + Plastick Records)
Just as genuine and refreshing as their self-titled full-length, Pentimento’s Inside The Sea is a follow-up release that captures the heart and honesty behind the dynamic of their melodic punk sound. Listeners will instantly get hooked on relatable and heart-wrenching lines from songs like “Just Friends” and “Not So Young". Comparable to bands like Hot Water Music, Polar Bear Club, and Iron Chic, Inside The Sea brings to the table a collection of songs that can easily tug at your heartstrings with each listen.

4. True Love - A Floral Note EP
Just as Incendiary’s Cost Of Living ranks high on the list for my top favorite hardcore LP of the year, True Love’s A Floral Note is up there for top hardcore EP. Hailing from Michigan, this explosive hardcore quartet features members of Face Reality, Freedom ,and Damages. This EP is definitely on point from beginning to end. Opening with an explosive intro that dives right into the record with songs like “Midnight People” and “Out In The Streets". Short and straightforward, this energetic release captures the fury and intensity from influences like American Nightmare. Overall, A Floral Note is a refreshing hardcore EP. For an upcoming band that just recently started building a growing following from the get-go, this should be on everybody’s radar to make it big in the scene this upcoming year.

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