Dylan’s Pick: “Me Vs the Highway” – The Wonder Years
Even though The Wonder Years are not set to have any sort of full release until next year, they still managed to release the best pop-punk song of the year on their split with Stay Ahead Of The Weather. “Me Vs the Highway” features everything one can love about The Wonder Years: layered guitars, incredibly passionate vocals and great one-liners such as “Only I could make a year I hated seem nostalgic.” So go for a drive this summer and blast this song as loud as you can because it is hard to get the full effect any other way.
Drew’s Pick: “Mouth Of Kala” – Gojira
I’m going to make this short and sweet. Gojira is a fucking monster (literally) and their latest release, L’enfant Sauvage, proves they’re only getting stronger. I cannot do this album justice with words alone, it needs to be heard. Listen to “Mouth Of Kala” to get a taste of what you’re missing. Pure, crushing metal.
Stephen’s Pick: “Backup Plan” – I Call Fives
A little-known fact is that we Canadians also have to spend our summer months under the blistering heat. And since I’m sitting here in a t-shirt, cutoffs and flip flops, I guess the perfect musical companion is the new I Call Fives jam. It feels like this record was written for the summer months, spending days skateboarding around in the heat with buddies (or lurking facebook in your basement; no judgements here!). The early standout track on this album is “Backup Plan.” It’s upbeat with a rolling rhythm. It’s about girls, but it’s more of a middle finger to a flaky member of the opposite sex than a depressive heartbreak track. The song’s standout point is vocalist Jeff Todd’s excellent voice and sense of melody which carries the song. Listen to this jam if you’re a fan of early All Time Low, drinking slushies and wearing sunglasses.
Tim’s Pick: “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” – Anberlin
After seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt jamming to The Smiths‘ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” in (500) Days of Summer, I’ve had the song stuck in my head for weeks. But as much as I love the symphonic-laced hit by the British pop-rockers, I love Anberlin’s cover of the song just as much, if not more. Featured on Lost Songs, the band’s collection of b-sides and rarities, the cover is flawlessly done. Stephen Christian’s froggy vocals give a flavorful spin on the song, even if it was built around Morrissey’s accentual vocals to begin with. The Smiths are great. Anberlin’s great. This song is great. Anberlin covering it? Even greater.
Jason’s Pick: “Doubt” – Crucial Dudes
Though I’m certainly not the band’s biggest fan by any means, the recent announcement of Crucial Dudes’ breakup was a pretty reasonable bummer. You can argue all you want about their band of in-your-face pop-punk, but the entire circumstance and delivery of the whole thing makes it tough to swallow. In any case, “Doubt” is arguably the band’s best cut – it has a great hook, strong songwriting and seemingly endless amounts of energy. The band may be gone, but somehow the spirit of such a track lives on.
Jarrod’s Pick: “Royal Blood” – Bury Tomorrow
After a serious breakthrough performance with Portraits back in 2009, Bury Tomorrow have clearly stepped up to the plate with a major follow-up. Not only is lead screamer Daniel Winter-Bates much more sound and precise, but the band absolutely crushes in all facets. Guitarist/vocalist Jason Cameron continues to soar vocally, but the key is really Bates at this point. Listening to Portraits, it is clear that he is the main reason for an above average band now becoming great. I knew they had it in’em.
Corey’s Pick: “Survive” – Rise Against
From their superb The Sufferer & the Witness, “Survive” is one of the strongest tracks in Rise Against’s discography. This song thrives from overly positive lyrics and an upbeat sound. “A perfect world on a perfect day/Everything always works out; I have never felt so fucking great.” Rise Against has always been one of the better bands in punk when it comes to lyrics. Say what you will about the current state of their music (I’m not a fan of anything past this album) but Sufferer & Witness is a masterpiece, and “Survive” is perhaps the strongest indication of that.
Landon’s Pick: “Mt. Hope” – Mixtapes
Last week, Cincinnati’s own Mixtapes released their latest full length album Even on the Worst Nights via No Sleep Records, which as a whole, is a solid release for the group as they continue to do what they do best: making short yet sweet pop-punk. The album has numerous memorable moments, but closer “Mt. Hope” is easily the strongest. Coming in at just over four minutes, the track is the longest the group has released to date, showcasing a variety of tempos and lyrical directions. Oh, and a cameo from Daniel “Soupy” Campbell (The Wonder Years) never hurts either.
Joe’s Pick: “Invincible” – Hailey, It Happens
If you’re as sick of this heat wave as we are, you’ll find no better relief than electronic pop duo Hailey, It Happens. Off their 2011 release Aurora, “Invincible” is a ridiculously catchy track with a toe-tapping beat, beautiful piano, and Chris Cleary’s crooning vocals all wrapped up into just over three minutes. Give it a listen; I guarantee your head will be bobbing before the song ends.
Megan’s Pick: “MFEO Pt. 1 & 2” – Jack’s Mannequin
This week’s absurd temperatures have definitely made summer a little less enjoyable, but they have made my “most played” song easier to enjoy. Jack’s Mannequin’s “MFEO Pt. 1 & 2” has seriously aided in lifting my spirits. Part One’s simplicity and lightheartedness provides something enjoyable, while Part Two’s added substance and soothing melody is entertaining. The transition is smooth and inviting, and the excitement of both parts creates something worthwhile. Perfect for indoor adventures or outside suffering, its ability to rejuvenate your mood is unbeatable.
Jacob’s Pick: “A Stain On The Carpet” – The Early November
I’ve never been a devoted fan of The Early November, but this song and the rest of In Currents is set to change that. The understated opening of the track is flawless – deliberate and fragile. With its ambient sounds behind Ace Enders’s voice hinting towards a buildup that’s not quite satisfied for more than two minutes, the song’s musical elements match the lyrics that discuss depression and dementia perfectly. The chorus will stick with you, despite its lack of any sort of classic “hook,” and there’s enough here to find something new on each listen (that drum fill at around 2:40? Yes, that drum fill at around 2:40.). It’s the least summery song to make my summer’s soundtrack, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Austin’s Pick: “Saw You First” – Givers
This band is so feel-good its ridiculous at times, and this track is a perfect example of their lighthearted indie-pop nature. The song bumps with a soft beat, backed with tons of scattered lush soundscapes, claps, harmonies, and frizzled guitars, as well as a dual vocal combination that shoots for the stars. It sets the perfect mood for a night drive with your friends, and given that this summer is pretty brutal, it can really take the edge off. Catchy, unique, and full of heart, this song and record called In Light deserve your immediate attention; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Kaitlin’s Pick: “So American” – Portugal. The Man
In light of the July 4th holiday, I have been bumping “So American.” The opening track off PTM’s most recent release, In the Mountain in the Cloud, this song is more of the awesome psychedelic grooves that we have come to love about this band. And, really, after some of the crazy stuff that goes on in this beautiful country…I do agree with the lyrics that “there’s a madness in us all.”
Ridge’s Pick: “I, Dementia” – Whitechapel
After seeing them play this song live at Mayhem Fest, I can’t get over how perfect it is. While it’s not technical by any means, the perfect breakdowns and the way Phil Bozeman delivers the vocals is flawless all the way through. Definitely one of the best deathcore songs ever created. The music video is also pretty sick.