Before there was Green Day there was a band called Sweet Children. And before there was Sweet Children there were a couple of kids named Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Pritchard. I’m not going to go too deep into personal histories here, because there’s so much else to cover, and it’s the kind of thing that’s already been gone over in every Behind The Music-esque profile, and because it’s not really what OWOB is about. But here’s the basic outline: BJ and Mike were both born in 1972. Billie Joe was surrounded by music from birth, as his father was a jazz drummer (who made a living as a truck driver), and BJ’s first “album,” Look for Love, was recorded when he was five years old. Billie Joe’s father died when BJ was ten years old, the same year that he met Mike, who had been put up for adoption by his mother not long after birth due to her heroin addiction. Mike had moved to Rodeo, California, where Billie Joe lived, with his adoptive mother and sister.
Billie Joe and Mike started playing and writing music together very quickly after meeting, and by the time they were 15 they had added a drummer to their group and named themselves Sweet Children. With the development of the band, they dove into the local punk scene, which in the Bay Area meant 924 Gilman Street, an all-ages alternative music space and non-profit organization. Billie Joe in particular has always been vocal about how Gilman gave him a place and a community where he finally felt like he belonged, and the ethos of the club can definitely be seen to have influenced Green Day’s own:
Gilman, today, is one of the longest-running independent music venues in America, having outlived even CBGB’s, and I would hazard a guess that at least some of that success comes from its collective-inspired ethos. Founded in 1986 by Maximumrocknroll’s Tim Yohannan and Victor Hayden, Gilman has from the get-go been conceptualized as an all-ages space for bands to play without worrying about conventional music promotion, and for audience members to attend gigs without having to worry about their own safety. It was a reaction against the rising violence and right-wing tendencies in the 80s hardcore scene, and as such operated on principles less like those of a music venue and more like those of the coolest community center you could possibly think of. As Josh Levine, an early volunteer at the club remembers:
“There was something in the air, you could say, back then. A good feeling, or a sense of pulling together, and unity among people who just wanted to see bands that was free of sexism, homophobia, racism, and especially violence. Shows were not as safe then — there were shows I went to before Gilman where I got beat up…. Shows where I went to jail, just for being a punk rock kid out after curfew. And worse, shows where I saw people getting beat up by skinheads, or jocks, and there was not a damn thing I could do about it if I wanted to stay healthy. Those were the kind of things that motivated us to get involved.” (924 Gilman)
Since then, Gilman has become famous in alternative music circles, as a venue and as the launching place of the careers of not only Green Day, but also Rancid, Operation Ivy, and The Offspring.
At the time, however, Sweet Children didn’t manage to book a gig at Gilman until 1987, when they changed drummers to the locally-famous John Kiffmeyer (aka “Al Sobrante”). They quickly developed a reputation in the Gilman and Bay area scene, and met Larry Livermore, the founder of Lookout! Records, in 1988. He signed them, and they recorded their first EP, 1,000 Hours, after changing their name to Green Day in order to avoid confusion with the similarly-named local band Sweet Baby.
39/Smooth, Green Day’s debut album, was released in 1990, and the band went on their first US tour that same year. They left the day after Mike graduated from high school. After the tour, Kiffmeyer left Green Day to go to college. Tré Cool played his first show with Green Day in November 1990, and the band as it still exists was formed.
In 1991, Kerplunk was released, and quickly gained popularity. An easy story to tell about Green Day is that they arrived out of nowhere with Dookie, but their success had already been building beyond both the band and their label’s expectation with Kerplunk - which got national airplay and high sales (it became Lookout!’s highest selling release and has since become one of the best selling independent albums in history) - and the resulting national and international tours. Kerplunk also began the development of Green Day’s signature melodic punk sound, in songs like “Welcome to Paradise” and “Christie Road”. There is, on the whole, a massive jump in quality between 39/Smooth and it, and Kerplunk still stands as a solid, well-written album even in the face of the massive successes Green Day would go on to have with subsequent records.
The success of Kerplunk garnered the band attention from major music labels, and in 1993 they left Lookout! to sign with Reprise Records. In September of the same year they played their last show at Gilman Street in nearly a decade (they were “banned” after the release of Dookie - although they showed up at the club in 2001 and played anyway - but we’re getting ahead of ourselves).
Harry Styles stopped by the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge for a short set that included a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” After performing his singles “Sign of the Times” and “Two Ghosts” from his self-titled solo album, Styles and his band launched into a faithful rendition of the Rumours track.
The song originally featured Lindsey Buckingham on lead vocals, with feathery background harmonies by Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. Styles achieved a similar sound with help from his keyboard player, Clare Ushima, and drummer, Sarah Jones, who added vocal layers to mimic original song.
Reflecting on 2017 is challenging when the, at this point predictable, headline of the day is our Commander In Chief, tweeting childish diatribes toward TV personalities. So far, the year has felt more like an unending hangover from the destructive bender that was 2016 than a fresh start. (The only lingering presence worth keeping has been Frank Ocean; keep droppin’ singles, Frankie. Please. We need you.)
The last six months haven’t been all bad, though. Despite facing its fair share of adversity (PWR BTTM, venues closing, the impending threat of defunding The National Endowment for the Arts, among a ton of other shitty stuff), the underground music world has continued to produce some of the best, most important artworks of this tumultuous era. Now, more than ever, artists of marginalized identities are holding the spotlight and using it to showcase fascinating, unique and incredibly valuable perspectives that were formerly sidelined by the rock music machine. The industry is shifting, and we’re graced with the opportunity to witness its metamorphosis.
Here’re 50 pieces of music that prove creativity is thriving in an age where we need it most—and 2017’s only halfway over. (Every album title is a link to the music so you can listen while you read!)
Adult Mom – Soft Spots
In terms of albums that speak with more emotion than any other, Soft Spots is one that takes the entire cake. Adult Mom’s use of poetic lyrics help decipher situations in life that showcase how people feel. Every delicate glance, every minimal conversation and even the way people think are analyzed within the length of this LP. I generally like to play this on long walks, just to analyze and think over every little thing ever, if only to realize that I need to be more in tune with Soft Spots.
Big Thief – Capacity
Very few artists in today’s world are able to find the balance between beauty and agony as well as Brooklyn, New York quartet, Big Thief. Throughout the band’s sophomore record, Capacity, a ghostly shadow hangs off every note, leaving a bittersweetness on the tongue. Vocalist Adrianne Lenker’s quivering whispers float above the soft instrumentation, propelled forward by an emotional honesty that is almost unmatched by their peers. Songs like “Shark Smile” and “Mythological Beauty” showcase Big Thief’s poetic, storytelling prowess that have made them the band they are today. Capacity offers a less-is-more approach to their sound, stripping back the layers and leaving their insides entirely exposed. The vulnerability and rawness captured on Capacity establishes Big Thief as some of this generation’s finest songwriters.
Charly Bliss – Guppy
This indie rock superband is like fireworks packed into a fishbowl. From Eva Hendricks’ epic, guttural punk yowl on tracks like “Percolator” to their bouncy, playful lyrics, Charly Bliss set off a storm in the world of punk rock with their sparkling debut Guppy. Charly Bliss embodies the 90s more than jean jackets and plaid skirts, and by the sound of this record, they listened to more than a little bit of Bikini Kill and Veruca Salt while they were writing. But while it’s attractively grunge, their sound is also pop-punk, and this album is a laudable effort for being feminine in a genre that so often condemns women and their work. It’s catchy, and fun, and a refreshing new take on the genre whose songwriters are often scared of truth. On “Percolator,” Hendricks effortlessly convinces the audience that “it’s cool, I’m in touch with my feelings.” Guppy is confident and angsty, but not annoying or too self-important: “I’m everybody’s favorite tease/put your hand on my knee/that’s what friends are for.” In true riot grrrl fashion, it lauds girls for doing what they want and stays away from shame: “I want to touch you/I want to cry/floating above you/I think I might.” I could keep quoting the fantastically feminist lyrics, but you’d be better served by listening yourself. Guppy echoes with truth—and awesome guitar parts. The songwriting is smart and fresh, and the music is quick and addictive like poppy music should be. Overall, Guppy is ready to square up against the boring boy band pop-punk albums that this scene has (rightfully) outgrown.
– Lucy Danger
Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound
Back in January, I wrote a review of this record, and I still stand by everything I said. The more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. It’s more polished, has a more elaborate theme compared to the bands previous releases, and it still rips. The energy and confidence that oozes out of this album is contagious. Fueled by a more cushioned sound, Cloud Nothings combine hard power chords and a fast paced drumming/bass backbone to provide what I consider to be their most coherent and complete work to date.
Cool American – Infinite Hiatus
Almost a year after Cool American released one of my favourite records of 2016, they came right back and put out another solid full length. The Portland, self proclaimed, “Dorito-pop” indie rockers take their music one step further on Infinite Hiatus. Full-bodied guitar riffs and catchy-as-hell choruses help turn a laid back, loafer type lyrical experience into something that delves a bit deeper; that is to say that life is essentially disappointing, so why not have some fun while we’re at it.
Deer Leap – Wind & Words
Deer Leap have always been on the cusp of something more, but have always been tethered to the basement. Wind & Words is their way out. Featuring a jam packed 20 minutes of soul-vibrating bass, winding guitars, and haunting vocals, these 6 songs are perfect for summertime drives. The first half is invigorating; a light and pleasant soundtrack to admiring the scenery as you drive along, while side B leaves you contemplative, nostalgic for something you haven’t even found yet.
– Chris Musser
Diet Cig – Swear I’m Good at This
Diet Cig is a return to what I think pop-punk should be; simple, catchy songs that pack a lyrical punch. They’ve put together one of my favorite releases this year with their debut record, Swear I’m Good at This. Check out “Tummy Ache” or “Sixteen” to see for yourself what all the hype is about.
– Ryan Manns
Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming
The melancholic vibe across I’m Only Dreaming is littered with delicate love songs and Eisley have stolen the most listens to an album (by me) of this year. Released via Rory/Equal Vision Records, Sherri and Garon DuPree took the helm of the family band and proved their vision of Eisley is just as powerful as before. Featuring pop refrains that bite with emotion, instrumentals that breathe with heart and an ambiance that feels like its floating, I’m Only Dreaming is an record that deserves to be embedded in your very soul, like it is mine. “Song For The Birds” also happens to be one of the best songs of this year.
The Flats – Auburn in the Everlast EP
For a songwriter, the past can often serve as a place to dwell. For The Flats’ Chris Kerekes, there’s no time. On the Toledo band’s latest EP, Auburn in the Everlast, they burn the past like fuel, venerating their uncertain future with wide-eyed excitement. From the explosive first moments of “Electric Light,” to the hypnotic refrain of “Transparent,” to the peppy guitars of “Unviable in your World,” The Flats consistently prove themselves to be one of the most dynamic and fervent groups in indie rock right now. They even have a song about Bernie Sanders (“Is the War Worth the Cost?”). This six song short-player came out in January and i’m still finding new things to enjoy with each listen.
– Riley Savage
Girlpool – Powerplant
As a lover of everything twee, Girlpool’s Before The World Was Big was an instant favorite of mine in 2015. Whereas that album featured Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad crafting ornate harmonies as a bass+guitar duo, Powerplant adds the drums that I feared may prove to be too much for their delicate songs to handle. Fortunately, Powerplant not only handles adding a drummer but also manages to exceed the hype that accompanied Before The World Was Big. In widening their musical scope, Girlpool have also found that the world doesn’t feel as big as it once was, as their songs deal with the anomie of entering one’s early twenties. On “Soup” Tucker and Tividad sing about the overbearing burden of potential while on “It Gets More Blue” they liken this modern-day malaise to “always digging in trash”.
Gnarwolves – Outsiders
Outsiders is once more responding to the sense of moral displacement engulfing the UK, and similarly to Los Camp’s Sick Scenes it’s with pensive altruism rather than thoughtless anger. Being heavy rock devotees, Thom Weeks and company have always existed in the margins of socially conservative rural England; but the rise of Right populism has alienated them more zealously, as true outsiders. They’re at their most melodic and soulful here – though perpetually threatening a hardcoreish breakdown – to acutely represent their sense of isolation, loss, and their battles with mental health. Outsiders is a state-of-the-nation speech, but with Max Weeks’ murdering his drumkit in the background.
Grayscale – Adornment
Grayscale’s latest offering Adornment is an impressive and coherent record, showing growth since their debut release last year. The personal songwriting certainty required vulnerability but it allows for listeners to explore their own emotions within a space that varies from optimistic to reflective on past pains. Instrumentally the record is experimental but strategically uses acoustic moments, provoking guitar work, and more to make the lyrics even more heartfelt.
– Hannah Hines
Half Waif – form/a EP
Throughout the stunning new EP from Half Waif, Nandi Plunkett (who also plays in Pinegrove) confounds upon and transmits her many moods, emerging with the year’s strangest and most therapeutic pop record. On last year’s Probable Depths, Nandi built complex orchestral pop songs that were simultaneously airy and percussive. But on form/a, her songs are perfused with a multitude of synthetic bells and whistles; song after song, her stirring double-tracked vocal melodies are enveloped by layers of gloomy electronic production and fortified by a strong, vibrant low-end. What really sets this release apart for me is how focused and reflective it is. On form/a, Nandi contemplates with her words and with her music.
– Riley Savage
Heart Attack Man – The Manson Family
There are many kinds of sadness, and many ways to combat negativity. On the debut LP from Heart Attack Man, frontman Eric Egan expresses a familiar sadness — one that seeks to understand the world around him but gets more frustrated the more he learns. It basks in loneliness and boredom, belabored at the thought of his personal relationships. So where do we go when we need some deliverance? The same place Egan himself went: to the proverbial garage for some noisy catharsis. The Manson Family is a purgative rock record — a relatable and thoughtful temper tantrum that, despite its anguish, feelsreeeally good as a listener. Heart Attack Man consistently pen sharp riffs and sticky hooks throughout the record, overshadowing some less-than-flashy percussion and a few inconsistent vocal performances (stuff that sounds better with each listen anyhow). The Manson Family is a therapeutic experience where both band and listener can air out their Caufieldisms for 35 minutes. I mean come on, at some point we all feel like we’re “Surrounded by Morons.”
– Riley Savage
Hundredth – RARE
Rarely (ha) does a hardcore band make a transition into a new genre as smooth as Hundredth did on RARE. The Hopeless Records staple of a band decided to tackle a bold challenge (that was entirely cathartic and genuine) and produce a shoegaze record. Known for their steady rhythms, RARE showcases beats that push instead of pull, melodies that are not forced into screams and an overall pace that is perfect to work out to. Don’t sleep on this record, or the band’s new sonic identity.
Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Back again and bringing that noisy rock that I love so much, Japandroids have set themselves up as one of my go-to “listen to this” bands. High energy and a lot fun, you can take them anywhere. Listen to the title track “Near to the Wild Heart of Life” or “No Known Drink or Drug” and tell me it doesn’t make you wanna dance.
– Ryan Manns
Jay Som – Everybody Works
On her album Everybody Works, Melina Duterte—aka Jay Som—sings of fantasy and being comfortable in one’s situation. “I like the bus,” she sings on “The Bus Song,” “I can be whoever I want to be.” She makes the mundane magical, accompanied by airy guitar and flowing percussion. Spacious isn’t usually an adjective used to describe drumming, but that on Jay Som is such. She waits, and watches, and absorbs the world around, taking the listener along with her experiences. Everybody Works reflects on all the tiny actions that make up our daily lives, which create our world. It grows sonically from the soft “Lipstick Stains” to a fuzzy speed on “1 Billion Dogs,” and sinks back into personality and fear on “Baybee,” but never loses the catchy, smart song structure. Listening to this album is like viewing the world from below a fishtank: the light is filtered and colored so that we can notice the specks that make up our view. The world is a much more interesting place hearing it through Jay Som’s perspective. As one of her song titles asks: “One More Time, Please.”
– Lucy Danger
Joey Bada$$ – All AmeriKKKan Bada$$
It’s hard to talk about Joey Bada$$ without talking about how he started. A half-decade ago, Joey was many things: a true-to-life teen rap prodigy, the leader of New York’s Pro Era collective, and a militant voice for the disparaged. 5 years later, Joey is still prioritizing lyricism and raging against the machine, but he’s kept a remarkably open mind about hip-hop and the process of creating music. Last year, he dropped a song called “DEVASTATED,” an on-trend radio banger that would become his biggest hit to-date. And while it was a departure for Joey, the shoe seemed to fit. The album that would follow fell in the shadow of Kendrick’s “April 7th” proclamation — a release date Joey had set more than a month beforehand. While DAMN. ended up dropping a week later on the 14th, AABA’s hype was temporarily swallowed by the success of “Humble” and the prospect of new music from K Dot. But once the clutter subsided and fans sat with the new LP, it was clear that Joey had delivered his most diverse and formidable release so far. On AABA, Joey reinvents himself seamlessly, dipping into other genres and gracefully pushing beyond his rapper’s rapper reputation. That is not to say that Joey sells himself short with his flows on this album; if you want bars, you’ll find ‘em on songs like “Y U DON’T LOVE ME?,” “ROCKABYE BABY (feat. Schoolboy Q),” and others. But what really makes AABA such a compelling listen are melodic, soul-infused records like “FOR MY PEOPLE” and hooky pop-rap triumphs like “TEMPTATION.” Its exciting that in 2017, we’re still discovering new things Joey can do with his voice, and with his mind.
– Riley Savage
Kendrick Lamar – Damn.
If Good Kid M.A.A.D. City demonstrated Kendrick’s flair for visceral biography, and To Pimp A Butterfly his credibility as political historian and commentator, Damn.—more straightforward in self-comparison but by no other means—showboats his virtues as poet and storyteller. Less conspicuously grandiose, but still hella ambitious and pristinely refined; whether he’s dragging pretenders to the throne on ‘Humble’ or conjuring a Best Picture nominee in four minutes on ‘Duckworth’. This record concentrates on banging, but never tactlessly. Kendrick continues to operate on an entirely different planet to everyone else in rap, and if anything Damn pushes himself even further away.
Kevin Morby – City Music
With the likes of Kurt Vile, Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, Mac Demarco and, hell, even Big Thief, there really isn’t a shortage of breezy, 70s-ish, folky, sometimes psychy rock acts floating about today. Nevertheless, Kevin Morby, with his best Dylan impression in full swing, still managed to put out one of the most pleasantly warm and irrefutably lovely albums of the year. Despite sounding like a million different things, City Music is a masterful display of both punchy soundtracks for sunny walks and lilting stretch-outs for nighttime drives. Although the record’s title first struck me as corny and sickeningly nostalgic for the globalized United States of 2017, it quickly won me over. Morby crafted 12 songs that convince even this city slicker that I’m wearily gliding down the Midwest interstate, catching my first glimpse of the distant metropolis glow. Even in an age where it’s difficult to associate anything vaguely American with anything other than a dystopian nightmare, City Music makes me want to hop in the back of a VW Bus and trek out to L.A., fulfilling the the rock ‘n roll prophecy Morby’s cherished forefathers spoke of. Anything that gets me that gooey about the 50 states in this era must be pretty damn compelling.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana
Do we need more King Gizzard? Probably not, but the Australian psych-rock seven-piece keep giving us reasons to want more. Flying Microtonal Banana was the first of supposedly five new albums they’re planning to drop this year (last week they dropped their second, the three-part sci-fi concept record Murder of the Universe) and it’s somehow even more of a ride than last year’s widely praised Nonagon Infinity. Something about this record just feels more focused, more groove-driven and easier to down than the quite literally infinite roar of Nonagon. Plus, the Eastern-influenced guitar effects that sound like the entrancing tunes of a cartoonish snake charmer are endlessly fun and far wackier than anything bands of their caliber have put out in recent years. Given we still have at least two more releases from these guys this year, we’ll have to wait and see how this holds up come December. For now, though, “Open Water” is the jam.
Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes
A four-year interval between No Blues and Sick Scenes has hampered neither the caliber of Los Camp’s songwriting, nor the pertinence of their message. Responding to a UK increasingly pilloried by economic inequality and political atomisation, Gareth David’s lyrics are somber and disquieting, but also generously non-judgemental, and even a little hopeful (a hope vindicated by June’s General Election result). Still, a homelessness of values, of identity, circulates Sick Scenes, propped by some of their shrewdest, most lovely arrangements and ideas; and even when encumbered by political heft they’re as self-effacing, witty, and delighting in detail as ever. One of their best records to date.
Lorde – Melodrama
Young pop superstar Ella Yelich-O’Connor, as anticipated, has come back roaring with her new album Melodrama. Four years isn’t that long, but in the world of music, it meant fans constantly asking Lorde when she would be releasing her next installment. Four years of the 20-year-old Lorde’s life is a significant portion, and just as her life has changed and developed in that time, so has her work. As she said to Tavi Gevinson months ago, her music is a reflection of “the inside of her head.” For the deep and vivid picture that she paints on this album, I don’t know a listener who hasn’t had the (even fleeting) desire to live as colorfully as Lorde does throughout Melodrama. She documents love’s end the way only someone who has experienced it can. She whispers conspiratorially about partying and closeness, and infatuates her listeners with images of chasing those existence-less “Perfect Places.” She feels without abandon and for herself. The addictive aspects of her first album are audible at times, like in “Sober II (Melodrama)” and “Supercut,” but she is clearly living in a world so much more lush, four years later. From the soft guitar introducing “The Louvre” to the weeping vocals on “Writer in the Dark” and “Liability,” to the screeching sounds of what sounds like furniture being rearranged on “Hard Feelings/Loveless,” all listeners can do is grab Lorde’s hand tight and take in all of herself that she has to offer on Melodrama.
– Lucy Danger
The Maine – Lovely Little Lonely
While Lovely Little Lonely is actually the 6th full length studio album for The Maine, it may be the first many people are taking the time to listen to. Alt-rock elements reminiscent of Third Eye Blind mixed with more instrumental indie pop moments you’d expect from The 1975 create an appealing and dynamic listening experience. While not exactly a concept album, LLL is certainly a concept with a deeper lyrical narrative and song transitions that beg for that start to finish spin. It’s admirable that The Maine is still DIY at heart, using the record label turned-community 8123 to release their music, as well as their friends’. Songs such as “The Sound of Reverie” and “I Only Wanna Talk to You” sound even more cinematic in the context of summer.
– Hannah Hines
Meat Wave – The Incessant
Another record I reviewed at the beginning of the year, Meat Wave kicked 2017 off on the right foot. Released in February, The Incessant is still a regular, almost daily listen for me. Its in your face nature packs a punch. The addicting guitar hooks along with the snarly vocals do a great job of snatching your attention and keeping you intrigued throughout this true punk record. The Chicago trio ultimately produced a record of self-reflection and embarked into new territory; hitting their stride in what I consider their most complete and cohesive album yet.
Milk Flud – Flake
As a self-proclaimed wimpy emo-revivalist, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear that I know just about nothing about hip-hop, “beats”, and any sort of sound-bite driven music. It’s not something I particularly go out of my way to listen to, and thus I haven’t spent much time with the genres. That’s why I felt so stupid when I listened to LA based beat-maker Milk Flud’s latest album, Flake, and realized I was depriving myself of so much great music that exists in a whole world of personally unchartered territory. I found through by its association with Making New Enemies—a cool, Portland based, record label and creative collective. Catchy hooks, interesting sound clips, and varying dynamic aesthetics immediately draw you in and keep you listening, as the album flows song to song seamlessly. Indie-elitists beware, Flake will hook even you.
Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
In April of 2017, I had the honor of booking Mount Eerie to headline my college radio station’s music festival in Portland, Oregon. It started back in January, when I emailed Phil Elverum the day after “Real Death” premiered and in the midst of a city-debilitating snowstorm. Elverum called me the next day and we spoke on the phone for eight whole minutes. When I first heard his voice I almost dropped my phone, my favorite musician and my idol was actually talking to me about playing a show. During the concert itself, he played A Crow Looked At Me from front-to-back, all the way through, including two other unreleased songs at the bookends of the set. When he began plucking the notes on “Ravens”, my favorite song on the album, my head was in my head and my palms were soaked in tears. Eventually, someone next to me in the crowd put their hand on my shoulder throughout the song, and to me, that was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had. Death is real, but we don’t have to deal with it alone. Folk musicians have had a growing obsession with death recently (Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, Sun Kil Moon’s Benji) but none have written an album as critically reflexive, as genuine, or as powerful. This is album is truly a masterpiece.
The Obsessives – The Obsessives
Whatever The Obsessives were eating between this and their debut needs to be tested for artificial growth hormones. The Philly duo made an enormous leap from forgettable alt-emo into one of the most entertaining bubblegum slacker-rock acts in existence on their 2017 self-titled, slamming through a grab-bag of gratifying hooks, riffs and clever lines about shoplifting snacks, boredom and the hazy growing pains of your early twenties. The band leave their shameless Pixies indulgences right in plain sight on the addicting standout “Surfer Rosa,” a whimsical gesture to the origins of their musical mindset but also a cheeky challenge that bangers like “It’s Ok If,” “If You Really Love Me” and “You’re My God” honestly qualify to contend in. There’s enough 21st century synthwork, fuzz-drenched chugging (“Violent,” “Now She’s Smoking”) and youthful fervor on here to stand a good 50 yards from any easy comparisons, though. The Obsessives is yet another testament to the infinite half-life of enjoyable pop-rock.
Oso Oso – the yunahon mixtape
Collectively decided as emo’s crowning jewel of 2017, the yunahon mixtape is a masterpiece. Released all the way back in January, entirely unannounced, this album made its way into our hearts. Impeccable lyricism marries with some of the catchiest riffs around as the album unfolds before us; nothing but a testament to the abounding songwriting and musicianship abilities Oso Oso mastermind, Jade Lilitri, possesses. the yunahon mixtape is a tender, sweet, warm album that showcases an unparalleled thoughtfulness in both its content and its quality. It’s selectively polished production offers a refined aesthetic that truly allows all aspects of the album to shine as best fit. Simply put, the album has made itself comfortable at the top of 2017’s best lists, and surely not without reason.
Palehound – A Place I’ll Always Go
“I’m with someone new/and I know that you would love her if you met her,” frontwoman Ellen Kempner mutters quietly yet clearly beneath her breath during the last few lines of “If You Met Her.” It’s a song about reflecting on her best friend’s passing and wishing she was still alive to meet her new partner. It’s a feeling I’ve fortunately never dealt with, but Kempner’s somber yet catchy delivery over the minor-key bassline, along with her sparing use of distorted guitar, give the song a sense of stream-of-conscious sincerity that hits me harder than almost anything I’ve heard all year. The rest of A Place I’ll Always Go is equally direct, but the tracks are so consistently captivating that it’s almost like there’s two ways of listening to it: either reading along and allowing yourself to empathize as best as you can (the loss of Kempner’s friend is the central theme), or cranking it and jamming along to some of the most rewarding and subtly adept indie rock of the year. Either way, it’s a trip.
Paramore – After Laughter
Quite simply there isn’t a bad song this band can write. While After Laughter took many by surprise as a drastic aesthetic change for the band, I actually found it to be a rather logical progression for their musical catalogue. Prior to the album, Paramore’s self-titled took the band in a much poppier direction, leading to their eventual 80s synth-pop revivalist current state. The upbeat, bubbly, production-driven album is a surefire soundtrack for the summer, featuring bangers like “Rose Colored Boy”, “Fake Happy”, and “Caught in the Middle”—all guaranteed to keep your sun-soaked fun going all season long.
Pile – A Hairshirt of Purpose
Pile has been one of the most inventive and unique punk bands over the past decade, but their 2017 release A Hairshirt of Purpose is their most focused effort yet, showcasing a band that’s truly honing in on the things that set them far apart from most other rock bands. The album brazenly changes moods and motifs on a dime, demonstrating an understanding of restraint, composure, and purpose through their trademark deconstructive songwriting. A sequence of four particular songs in the middle of the album, “Texas”, “Hairshirt”, “I Don’t Want To Do This Anymore”, and “Dogs” serve as a perfect introduction to Pile’s contribution to modern rock music.
Priests – Nothing Feels Natural
A politically charged album, Nothing Feels Natural is a deeply groovy post-punk record that has a lot of meat on its bones. It doesn’t sacrifice the raw force that the band is known for. Lead singer Katie Alice Greer carries their unique sound by means of snarly attitude and hate-fueled emotion to ultimately make music for the people who don’t want to take the bullshit, but instead, fight back. And in times like these, this record sure arrived right on time.
Remo Drive – Greatest Hits
Earlier this year, the music video for a song called “Yer Killin’ Me” by Remo Drive caught fire on Youtube and crept onto the playlists of any indie rock fan with their ear to the ground. This is for a few reasons. For one, the video is an endearing goof with all the charm of suburban Minnesota. Secondly, the song is really fucking good. And third, they may have gotten a little co-sign from the internet’s busiest music nerd. RD newcomers like myself would soon find that “YKM” was hardly a fluke. The band’s debut LP, Greatest Hits, expounds upon the positives of the single, delivering a project full of sharp melodies, clever lyrics, and noisy pop-punk sing-a-longs. The production on this thing is anything but polished, but that seems to work in its favor; because most of Greatest Hits is so raw, the potent humor and emotion of the record remain in focus. Frontman Erik Paulson is a particularly self-deprecating lyricist, and an especially talented vocalist. Like Barry Johnson or Steve Ciolek, Paulson’s singing voice is stylish and emphatic — so much so that it makes an album full of pop-punk instrumentals sound like one of the year’s best indie rock records. Catch me bumping “Art School” all year as I anxiously await the follow-up to Greatest Hits.
– Riley Savage
Run The Jewels – RTJ3
Run The Jewels (the rap group comprised of NYC’s El P and Atlanta’s Killer Mike) started 2017 off with a bang, releasing their 3rd full length album as a group just as the year began. I honestly thought they couldn’t do better than RTJ2; that record combined frantic beats and top notch lyricism. Forgive me for ever doubting them. RTJ3 built upon what the pair did in their first 2 albums, and then broke through the ceiling and pushed the bar to the clouds. This is the political album the world needs in the age of Trump. “Choose the lesser of the evil people, and the devil still gon’ win.” These 2 rap about the real deranged world we live in, “Can’t contain the disdain for y’all demons. / You talk clean and bomb hospitals / So I speak with the foulest mouth possible.“, and they have for a long time, check Mike’s “Reagan” or El P’s Funcrusher Plus. I feel like I’m learning something listening to their bars, and that’s because I am. Their minds are clearly on the pulse of the universe. RTJ3 is proof.
Rozwell Kid – Precious Art
After proving themselves as objectively one of the best riff-machines in modern music via 2014’s Too Shabby and their stellar 2015 EP Good Graphics, Rozwell Kid took the time to tighten, polish and then wax their signature sound for their proper breakthrough, Precious Art. Singer/songwriter Jordan Hudkins’ voice sounds better and more confident than ever on tracks like “Total Mess,” “Michael Keaton” and even the outrageous interlude, “South By,” where he reaches a falsetto we never knew he was capable of. The band as a whole sound effortlessly cohesive on “Boomerang,” “Wendy’s Trash Can” and “UHF On DVD” as well, clearly the payoff from dedicated gigging. Although no Rozwell Kid is bad Rozwell Kid, there isn’t really anything on here that the band hasn’t already played with previously. Nevertheless, the Virginia foursome are blowing up, and all of the new fans inevitably flocking to this thing (largely due to SideOneDummy pushing it, the absolute perfect label for these guys) will have plenty of chances to attain Rozwell Kid enlightenment by the time it’s over and ready to be replayed.
(Sandy)Alex G –Rocket
After the singles “Bobby” and “Proud” dropped, DIY-bros who swear they just stopped listening to emo music collectively took to the internet to ask the asinine question: “Is Alex G country now lol?” As if sounding vaguely like country music is even supposed to be an insult, (country music is good, don’t talk shit on Blake Shelton) it is safe to say that Alex Giannascoli’s latest release Rocket is not a country album, rather it’s his most diverse, multifaceted, and challenging album yet. It’s also the most cohesive collection of songs in his career. Whereas previous Alex G releases were generally united by their lo-fi production, Rocket maintains a yearning, curious, and self-aware aesthetic from start to finish.
Sinai Vessel – Brokenlegged
Most of the time I’m searching for a record to complement the season surrounding me. So it comes as a surprise to myself that I’ve been spinning Sinai Vessel’s Brokenlegged nonstop since it was released. Vocalist Caleb Cordes’ pain and yearning manifests throughout every note sung, every string plucked. I feel desolate and alone; at the end I’m left introspective and awkward. I didn’t write this record, but it’s so relatable that I’m open and vulnerable as if I had been singing this entire time. It takes courage to dig below the surface, and Sinai Vessel do it with a running start on Brokenlegged.
– Chris Musser
Slowdive – Self-Titled
Shoegaze legends have been reuniting left-and-right, usually announcing a string of tour dates including a music festival near you, and then in some cases, making plans to write a new album. While My Bloody Valentine’s mbv felt like a footnote to Loveless and has lost its luster since 2013, Slowdive’s new self-titled album, their first in 22 years, sounds exactly how a Slowdive album in 2017 should sound. Combining the ambient, spaced-out atmospherics of Pygmalion and the majestic, lush shoegaze of Souvlaki, Slowdive is one of the best reunion albums in recent memory. Every song creates a vast soundscape with dense, sensuous textures to get lost among. Back in April I tweeted that “It’s the kind of album that should play while I make summer memories, at night”, imagining something “like a montage of me and all my super hot friends (who are models, by the way) playing at the waterfront and kissing and drinking rosé as Slowdive plays”. Now that summer is coming, I can finally make this Twitter dream a reality.
Smidley – Self Titled
Foxing is great, but Smidley is happier. The self-titled debut from Conor Murphy’s solo project is anything but fantastic. The songs are infectious as shit, led by opening song “Hell.” The record is a stand still portrait of Murphy’s current life, filled with stories and aspects of being in a touring band, constantly feeling fucked up and enjoying every second of life that needs to be enjoyed. The album features a plethora of guest musicians, making the record actually more of a fun and vibing party than a business. Hell, it’s a fucking art piece.
Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else – Enjoy The Great Outdoors
There’s something beautifully paradoxical about a record’s title that encourages its listeners to turn off the stereo and go outside. Though, the timberland textures and cool, earthy atmosphere of Enjoy The Great Outdoors resemble a tranquil trot through the woods in its own right, providing a similar opportunity for wandering thought that a trail in Vermont does. For his second full-length with Run For Cover, the consistently hermetic Spencer Radcliffe enlisted a team of hikers (Everyone Else) to accompany him on a venture across 10 tracks of shaded, groove-driven indie rock. It’s still got the hand-crafted feel of his previous works, but the brisk bassline and rustling instrumentation of a track like “Static Electricity” embody the ascent to a mountaintop. It’s one of those songs that sounds like a living organism, and it might be the best thing Radcliffe’s ever left his footprint on.
The Spirit of the Beehive – Pleasure Suck
When I first heard this album, I was blown away by the boundaries that were pushed by the Philadelphia group. Pleasure Suck, being their third release, is arguably their most ambitious and way-out-there work to date. From start to finish the band produce a wide range of dense noise that’s puzzling at times, yet gratifying nonetheless. All that said, it should be known that layered between the beautiful palettes of soundscapes are the hooks and melodies that make Pleasure Suck an immersive experience.
SZA – Ctrl
Since 2012, Solána Imani Rowe has turned heads with her diverse blend of musical influences that make up her brand of R&B. Rowe, who performs under the stage name SZA, quickly rose to popularity, turning heads with her unique voice. Her RCA debut, Ctrl, shows off her growth since her previous mixtapes, blending bubbly melodies and soulful bellows. Lyrically, SZA pairs painfully honest lines with the quirky and humorous, making each song relate to the listener in a different way. Ctrl draws on influences beyond standard hip-hop and R&B boundaries, wearing traces of alternative/indie rock and electronic proudly. Ctrl is a masterfully crafted record that possesses a little bit of everything, allowing everyone to find something beautiful in SZA’s emotional debut record.
Tall Ships – Impressions
There’s been a strain of theme in indie rock this year about self-reflection and interiority; reacting to the tempest of our external reality, we should become hypersensitive about how we engage with each other, and ourselves. While David Bazan and Craig Finn have produced beautiful records touching on this, they’re not Impressions. Weaving indie rock guitars into the intricate web of math rock and post rock chords and signatures, their despotic meticulousness supports Ric Phethean’s gorgeously emotive ruminations on regret, loneliness, the arbitrariness of everyday choice, the imperative and futility in seeking meaningful connection. Their music is opulent and nourishing, Phethean’s verse even more so. Easily one of my favorite albums of the year so far.
Tigers Jaw – Spin
It took me seeing these songs and this band live to really appreciate just how special spin is. Tigers Jaw are known for their downtrodden melodies, but here, they have choruses that bounce with a different kind of energy. Riddled in looking at the past and how things have gone, Tigers Jaw stand tall with introspective lyrics that feel too damned familiar to just let them slide by. No, the entirety of spin needs to be sung loud.
Turtlenecked – Vulture
Although Turtlenecked may not appreciate the comparison, Vulture is essentially the art-rock response to Car Seat Headrest. Like indie rock’s 2016 trophy, Teens of Denial, this record is grand in its approach yet lo-fi in its texture; a marvelous and, at times, overdramatic performance of a young man’s precocious tendencies. Vulture is a far more deranged, nuanced and experimental work than Will Toledo’s, though. The second full-length from the Portland, Oregon project of singer/songwriter Harrison Smith is a wacked-out flurry of manic garage rock, pre-90s punk, bedroom-learned key/synth noise and a basket of different vocal approaches: baroque falsetto, spitfire mumbling, soft crooning and demented yelping. Smith is as melodious as he is berserk and unpredictable, making this a record that truly does ripen with age as you begin to make sense of all the moving parts. From start to finish, this is one of 2017’s unearthed gems.
Vagabon – Infinite Worlds
Who was it that said “every really great rock album is under 10 songs and 45 minutes”? Laetitia Tamko’s release Infinite Worlds certainly follows these guidelines. Aptly titled, this album is a world of beauty packed into a short 28 minutes. “I’ve been hiding/in the smallest/space/I am dying to go,” Tamko sings on “Fear and Force,” a track that transitions from her soft, reedy voice to a bassy, percussion-heavy song and back again in under four minutes. Vagabon has stories to tell, and does so poetically and beautifully. She entices the listener to trust in her and look inside themselves for the grace with which she sings and plays. From the fuzzy, romantic “Mal á L’aise” to the cathartic, sprawling “100 Years,” Vagabon has transcended the “boring” stereotype of indie rock and made something huge, fascinating, and lovely.
– Lucy Danger
Vasudeva – No Clearance
An instrumental that speaks more words than most albums with a message, No Clearance is an experience. Vasudeva prove that time and time again they can make their melodies ring louder than any scream. For some reason, I have really grown to this album while cooking. No idea why, but taking No Clearance out on a long drive with beautiful scenery does the job as well. This Skeletal Lighting release is one for the ages.
A Will Away – Here Again
This record is a thrill of a listen, starting with the opening song (just so happens to be the title track). The guitars are bright, instilling a feeling of inner joy that comes out in the rarest of fantastic albums. Here Again is just that, finding A Will Away in the center of soaring hooks and tremendous melodies. The vocals across the entire album are beyond catchy, almost downright innately pleasing. A soothing release from a band continuing to make the climb to bigger places, A Will Away’s Triple Crown Records debut pleases in every season, every year and every play through.
White Reaper – The World’s Best American Band
Despite my initial failure back in April to fully “get” this album, along with my conscious effort to dislike it simply based upon how blatantly unoriginal it is, I finally cracked. A name that smirks as widely as The World’s Best American Band is bound to break through any ardent rock fan, no matter how tough the exterior, and it was the tongues-out, water guns-out solo in “Eagle Beach” that delivered the final blow. This will be one of the most unapologetically kick-ass slices of rock ‘n roll to come all year, perfect for Friday-at-5PM fist pumps, beach day boogies and beer-chugging…uh…chug-alongs. Oddly enough, the best tracks, “Daisies” and “Another Day,” don’t come until the last few swigs of the record, perhaps purposely on White Reaper’s part; saving the former for hyped-up-howling and the latter for crushing your cans, soaking your living room and scurrying outside to catch your Uber. If this isn’t the soundtrack to your weekend, you ain’t livin’.
Here are a few more albums that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, but are still very much in the consideration for end of the year lists, and warrant another listen:
Free Throw – Bear Your Mind
Harmony Woods – Nothing Special
Sampha – Process
Two Inch Astronaut – Can You Please Not Help
Stef Chura – Messes
Freddie Gibbs – You Only Live 2wice
Captain, We’re Sinking – The King of No Man
Sorority Noise – You’re Not As _____ As You Think
Ratboys – GN
The 50 Best Albums So Far In 2017 was originally published on The Alternative
From Arrested Development to Liberated Soul: Dionne Farris
Dionne Farris’s debut solo album, Wild Seed-Wild Flower, is bound to become a classic for those of us who know that the slogan “It’s a black thang, you wouldn’t understand” has more to do with variety and complexity than with some secret, unified code dictated by melanin. This one’s for the cool in all of us who understand the mix: living in the ‘hood and summering in the Hamptons, rocking both the bob and the baldy, and growing up on steady diets of Aretha, the Eagles, the Police, and the Chi-Lites.
For those of you who still insist on viewing black music (and by extension, the black community) in tired, myopic terms, well, Dionne’s got something fo’ yo’ asses. Wild Seed-Wild Flower is an unprecedented melange of funkabilly (think Thelma & Louise black-girl style), blues, gospel, rock, Sweet Honey in the Rock-inspired a cappellas, a li'l lite FM, and a whole lotta soul.
If her voice sounds familiar, it’s probably because we’re still experiencing flashbacks from the sweet aural caress Dionne blew on Arrested Development’s 1992 chart-busting single “Tennessee.” Her powerful, haunting vocals helped bring the group from underground sensation to worldwide multiplatinumdom,
Dionne, engaged at the time to AD drummer Rasa Don, broke ties with the group just as its success was looming. More than a few friends told her she was crazy and that she should apologize and beg her way back, but Dionne felt she had to listen to her heart. She decided that her dream of a solo career was more important than being an “extended family member” of her fiance’s group—or even than being married.
She second-guessed herself more than once. “Back then I thought that breaking up with Don was the worst thing in the world,” Dionne says with a chuckle and a knowing smile. “But when I look at it now, I have to thank him. I was about to jump into that whole marriage/baby thing without really knowing who I was."
Now, with Wild Seed-Wild Flower, Dionne’s confidence is unshakable, though she’s a little annoyed by black radio’s tendency to dismiss music (like Me'Shell’s and Joi’s, for example) that can’t be easily classified. "It’s scary that black radio is so narrow,” she says. “I’m black. My mama’s black. So for anyone to tell me that I don’t do black music is bullshit. I do music for black people and anyone else who wants to listen.”
With the help of David Harris, her co-writer and producer, Dionne just wants to sing her songs. “Music is really music.” she says. “Why do people have to label it? Are they so afraid that we’ll ail just go free and there’ll be too much love in the world?”
Summary: It’s been weeks now since your boyfriend, Gerard, and his bandmates locked themselves inside the Paramour Mansion to work on their eagerly anticipated third album. You can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong with Gerard, so you decide to visit the mansion yourself to make sure all is well. What you find only makes you more worried. Written for the Black Parade tenth anniversary (tho I’m posting it a day late ^^;)
It had been a few weeks since your boyfriend Gerard
announced that he and his band were moving into the Paramour Mansion. He said
that the label thought it would be good inspiration for the album he and the
guys had been working on since Warped Tour ended. You wanted the making of this
album to be a success, but, honestly, you missed him. You knew you weren’t
supposed to go bother him while he was working, but he’d stopped returning your
calls, and you were getting worried about him. So, you decided to drive up to
the mansion yourself, and see how he was doing.
From the moment you drove up to the front gates, you couldn’t
help but notice how creepy the place was. It did fit Gerard’s Gothic vibes
perfectly, you had to admit – but, something about it also unsettled you. You
couldn’t shake the vague feelings of anxiety as you walked up the driveway and
rang the doorbell.
Gerard answered the door, and you were distressed to see how
haggard he looked. He had dark circles around his eyes, and he looked even
paler than usual. He was wearing a ratty pair of pajama pants that looked like
they hadn’t been washed in days.
“……Baby?” Gerard said in a weak voice. “What are you doing
“I came to check on you,” you explained, pulling him into
your arms immediately. He collapsed into them, like he was going to fall asleep
right there in the doorway. “And I’m glad I did, because you look like hell,
“……I’m sorry,” Gerard muttered, leading you into the foyer.
“No, I didn’t mean it like that,” you frowned, tenderly
brushing his hair out of his face and wiping a spot of dirt off his cheek. “I
mean, of course you’re always a cutie pie, Gerard, but you don’t look healthy.”
Gerard kissed your cheek, seeming relieved that you were
here. “I missed you,” he confessed.
“I missed you, too,” you replied, giving him a quick peck on
“Hey, Gerard!” you heard Bob’s voice echoing from down the
hall as he approached.
“Oh, hey, Y/N,” the ginger drummer added when he saw you.
“Hi, Bob,” you waved.
“Gerard, did you fill the bathtub upstairs?” Bob wondered.
“Uh, no?” Gerard answered, seeming confused.
“Well, Frank and Ray said they didn’t either,” Bob explained, looking spooked. “And I sure as hell didn’t.
Just like I didn’t open that door last night. I swear to God, dude, this place
“Haunted?” you repeated, surprised.
“There are some rumors about this place,” Gerard shrugged.
“Do you actually believe them?” you asked.
“Mikey swears he saw some shit,” Gerard revealed.
“Where is Mikey?” you asked curiously. “I haven’t seen him
in a while, either. I want to say hello.”
Gerard and Bob grew quiet, which made you nervous.
“….I’ll let you tell her,” Bob said finally, and walked
away. After he’d disappeared down the hall, you looked at Gerard, waiting for
“Mikey’s…..gone,” Gerard said simply.
“What do you mean, ‘gone’?” you asked, alarmed.
“He couldn’t deal with this place,” Gerard explained. “And I
don’t blame him – he got so creeped out that he’d started sleeping in my room.
The energy in this place was just fucking with his head. He had to go.”
“Of course I know Stacy,” you snapped. “But, Gerard, oh my
god, if things were getting so serious that Mikey freaked out and left in the
middle of recording this album, why didn’t you call me and let me know what was
“I wanted to,” Gerard said apologetically. “But, I’ve just
been so tired, and….well, you know I have depression, of course.”
“I know,” you said, taking Gerard’s hand gently. He’d “come
out” to you as mentally ill a few months into your relationship.
“Well, I don’t know what it is, but I feel like this house
is making my depression worse,” Gerard confessed. “Sometimes, I get so stressed
out, thinking about how we’re going to finish this record, and if anyone will
even get it, and sometimes I just want
to go crawl into the bottom of the pool in the yard and just lay there until I
can’t breathe and can’t worry about this goddamn album anymore.”
“Don’t talk like that,” you said, squeezing his hand. Your
heart was suddenly filled with worry for him.
“I won’t do it, baby,” Gerard promised. “I’m not going to
actually do it, I’m just…..always in such a dark mindset lately. But, I think I
need to be. The album is very dark, and it deals a lot with death, and so I
kind of have to be in that headspace while we’re working.”
“You don’t have to,”
you protested. “Gerard, you don’t have to destroy your psychological health to
make this record, ok? You don’t owe the fans, or the label, or anyone, that.”
“I guess I just don’t know how to do things halfway,” Gerard
admitted. “I get obsessive when I’m trying to create something. I’ve done that
with every album I’ve made, and even with my comic books, too. I lock myself up
with this…..concept, no matter what it does to me, and I don’t leave until it’s finished.”
“Well, too bad,” you decided, “because we are leaving.”
“Wait, what?” Gerard blinked.
“I’m getting you out of this house,” you said insistently. “Just
for a little while. You need a break, Gerard.”
Summary: Request fic for @badwolfofcamelot. “Could you maybe do a drummer!reader (preferably female) where she come out as pansexual? Maybe like she just says something about it in a conversation with the boys and she isn’t ashamed or anything and everyone is fluffy and cute?”
A/N: I AM SO SORRY THIS TOOK SO LONG TO FINISH BADWOLF, IK YOU’VE BEEN MESSAGING ME ABOUT IT.
You paced your band’s dressing room, feeling nervous.
“Don’t worry, Y/N,” Gerard said, glancing at you in the mirror as he applied his eyeliner. “Your drumming was great during practice, I’m sure you’ll do great during our set tonight."
"That’s not what I’m anxious about,” you shook your head. Maybe you should be. My Chemical Romance was about to perform on TLR - a live, nationally broadcasted television show. But, instead of going over in your head what notes you were going to have to play with your sticks, you were worrying about a secret you’d been keeping for a long time.
“Well, what are you anxious about, then?” Frank wondered, setting down his hair straightener to turn and look at you.
“It’s nothing,” you mumbled. “Finish fixing your emo bangs."
"Y/N, come on,” said Ray with a concerned look, pausing in the middle of putting on his bulletproof vest. “If something’s bothering you, please tell us. We’re your friends."
"Nothing’s bothering me,” you denied.
“Y/N, we shared a tour bus with you for months,” Mikey reminded. “I think we know you better than that by now.”
one of the assignments for my media class was to make a trailer that was exactly 15 seconds long with animated masks, an alpha track matte, and something animated behind a still. so of course I make a trailer for the Railroad faction in Fallout. I think I did okay. I wish I could’ve added Drummer Boy, Tinker, Carrington, and PAM, but there’s only so much you can squeeze into 15 seconds.
He was at the front of the small
stage, although “stage” was a generous word for what it was: a small platform
installed along the back wall of the bar, only about half a foot higher than
the concrete floor. If Nira had seen him on the street, she might not have
known it was him. He had filled the piercings in his ears, two in each lobe and
several around the tops of the cartilidge, black spikes and silver bars and
chains reflecting the meager light. Nira saw for the first time that he had a lip
piercing as well, a small silver ring through the left side of his bottom lip
that matched the one in his right eyebrow.
Gone was the sweater vest and
tweed, replaced with a simple white cotton tee and black leather pants – very tight black leather pants. The tee
shirt was tighter than was probably necessary, as well, and showed the
definition of muscle playing over his slender frame as he moved with the music.
Nira swallowed heavily, suddenly
wishing she were that microphone stand.
She edged her way closer to the
front of the room. The song crescendoed, increasing in rhythm and intensity
until he was practically shrieking, filling the small space with the sound. As
the last line of the song died away, Solas opened his eyes and looked out on
the people crowded in to hear them play. His eyes locked on hers, as if drawn
by magnets, widening in surprise when he recognized her. Color rose in his
cheeks and he ducked down to pick up a bottle of water from the floor.
Nira giggled at his
consternation. The situation she found herself in was so absurd she couldn’t do
much anything but laugh at it. The formidable Solas Harel, renowned professor
of archeology and UoC’s resident hard-ass, moonlighting as the lead singer of a
heavy metal garage band! And blushing.
Solas kept looking down at the
floor, for all the world seeming to be taking a break from shrieking his lungs
out. He replaced the cap on the water bottle and set it down, movements careful
and precise, and scrubbed a hand back into the thick dark brown dreadlocks held
high on his head. Then he straightened, and looked back at her again. Seeming
to come to some sort of decision, he clapped the guitar player on the shoulder
and whispered something in his ear. The guitar player nodded and began to play
as Solas stepped back to the microphone.
This song was slower, muted
almost, the notes cycling through a mournful sequence as the drummer added a
soft backdrop. Solas gripped the mic with both hands and held it close to his
face, lips nearly touching it as he crooned into it. His eyes locked with
Nira’s again as he sang, and Nira found it impossible to look away until he
closed his eyes to scream the chorus.
When I make this sound With my sinews unwound I find its meaning My voice is now found…
Rolling Stone: How 5 Seconds of Summer Enlisted Pop-Punk Heroes to Create Heartfelt New LP
Australian heartthrobs are back with a Top 40 vengeance — and a slew of big-name collaborators — on ‘Sounds Good Feels Good’
Luke Hemmings, frontman of Aussie emo-gone-pop sensations 5 Seconds of Summer, is embarrassed by all of the songs he produced when he first started writing music. However, he has a happier recollection of one of his initial collaborations with 5SOS bassist Calum Hood. “We were really good friends at school,” he recalls. “Michael [Clifford, 5SOS guitarist] never went to school that much, and I didn’t have that many friends, so I’d be waiting for Calum to get to school and get off his bus.”
One day, Hood didn’t show up. “I went to my first class, and I was like, 'Alright, fuck this — I’m gonna go to Calum’s house.’ When I got there, he had our song 'Out of My Limits’ half written, and I remember finishing the second verse with him. That was a cool moment.”
Four years after Hemmings, Hood and Clifford began posting acoustic covers of songs by Mike Posner, Chris Brown and Blink-182 on YouTube and added drummer Ashton Irwin to their line-up, they no longer have to skip school to write songs together. Instead, the Australian quartet posted up in a Los Angeles home for a few months, hunkering down to write a follow-up to their self-titled 2014 debut, which hit Number One in the U.S., Australia and 11 other countries worldwide. “I think it was an awakening of a higher sense of making music,” Irwin says. “We hadn’t done it that way before as a band. It was kind of old school. You don’t get a chance to do that much anymore.”
Hood describes the upcoming album — Sounds Good Feel Good, due on October 23rd — as a more “mature” statement. The band was signed before any of the members turned 18, and growing pains and budding fame have inspired a natural progression in 5SOS’s songwriting. “The first thing we realized as a band when we started writing songs at 15, 16,” recalls Irwin, “is that you can write a song, but to write a real song that’s from your heart, and that really connects with you emotionally and spiritually, that takes time.”
“I remember writing the stupidest song I’ve written. It had, like, three chords, and it was about the moon and a girl.” —Michael Clifford
“Last year we were renting a house off some baseball star who was really religious, and his mom turned up and found lots of, like, paraphernalia, and found out we’d been sharing a bed — three guys — and they called us ‘Godless animals’ and they chased us out of the house with a gun!” frontman Matt Healy laughed. “They didn’t like it! I was like 'Come on! I thought we were in Austin! I didn’t think this was, like, hick territory.’ They hated us.”
“They thought we were being gay in their bedroom or something,” drummer George Daniel added.
Request- You make a joke that he takes seriously but you act cute and he forgives you
A/N- I apologise for how long this took. I was too busy watching OITNB. also I think someone else did something like this so sorry if it’s relatively close. also sorry if it sucks
The day was winding down and you and Calum were sitting on your bed with him reading a book and you on your phone. He seemed to be deep in his book because he hadn’t looked up for over half an hour. Every once in awhile you’d watch his eyes move across the page. You’d examine his features and fall in love all over again. The way that his eyelashes would skim his cheeks every time he blinked and how sharp his jawline was. You adored his two freckles on his cheek. He hated them but you would always kiss them and tell him how cute they made him look. Sometimes when you went to kiss them he’d turn his head quickly enough to lock lips with you and he’d grab your hips and just let the kiss grow. Sometimes it would be a slow and sensual kiss and other times it would be fast and needy. Although he said he hated those freckles you knew that deep down he loved them, especially because you liked them.
Calum finally glanced up after dog-earing a page in his book. He looked over at you on your side, leaning your head on your elbow and just admiring him. His mouth twisted into a grin and he set his book down.
“What’re you looking at, beautiful?” he said as he moved closer to you. You moved closer as well and leant your head on his chest. His hand started stroking your and you could hear his heartbeat thumping a bit faster. You softly giggled at the affect you still had on your boyfriend.
“You. I was studying your face. You crinkly your nose a lot when you read.”
“Do I? How often do you watch me read?”
“Fairly often. What were you reading?” You shifted so one leg was laid over his and your head was tilted towards his.
“The Odyssey. It’s pretty good. Some parts don’t make sense but it’s strangely enticing.” He pecked your nose and then went for your lips.
“That’s a pretty advanced book babe. Look at my baby go.” You beamed up at him. His eyes twinkled as he grinned at you.
“Are you about ready to go to bed?”
“Yeah. Wait wait. You have something on your face.” You reached up to grab it but instead yanked out a hair from his chin.
“Ow! Fucking hell. Why’d you do that?” he cried out while running his face, over exaggerating the pain.
“Oh my god, Cal! You’ve started to grow facial hair. Oh my baby’s growing up!” You pinched his cheeks but he immediately swatted them away, sitting up quickly. You fell back against the pillows as he stood up and went to the washroom.
Shit. Looks like you’ve done it now. You didn’t think it would hurt him this bad.
You got up and followed him into the room to find him brushing his teeth vigorously. He ignored you as you walked in and wouldn’t meet your eyes in the mirror.
“Baby, I’m sorry I upset you. You know I didn’t mean to.” No reply. “Calum, talk to me. What can I do to make it up to you?” He didn’t move. He spit into the sink and rinsed out his mouth, turning to leave the room. You grabbed his arm without thinking and spun him around so he was toe to toe with you. Although you had pulled him close he still refused to look at you, opting for staring straight ahead.
“Do I need to get on my knees to beg for forgiveness?”
With that sentence he almost cracked. You knew he would be thinking of all the other things you could be doing on your knees but he only smiled slightly but went back to being stoic.
“I’ll do it. I really will.” He looked down at you and cocked an eyebrow as if to say “oh really”. You did just that.
You sank to your knees and clasped your hands together like a child would.
“Cal, please, pretty please with a cherry on top forgive me. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. You know I didn’t. I love you whether you have hair on your face or not. I’ll do anything to make it up to you” you practically whined.
“Anything?” He said with arms folded.
“Anything within reason.”
A smug grin appeared on his face and you knew exactly what he wanted. You planted your hands on his thighs and started sliding your palms up and down them.
“Hop to it baby girl.”
“Hey Ash! Did you know your girlfriend is killer on the drums?” Michael yelled as soon as Ashton walked through the door of the practice room of the venue you were in.
Ashton lifted his head from his phone and nodded to the both of you. He sat down on one of the couches and went back to whatever it was he was doing on your phone. Michael shrugged it off and turned back to you.
“Lay me down a sick beat, y/n” Michael requested.
“Alrighty. A 1, a 2, a 1 2 3 4!”
You started off with the simple 4/4 beat that you learned when you were first starting off on the drums. You continued for a few bars and then added some fillers, getting even more intricate with the rhythms as you progressed. You switched things up a bit and went to a 6/8 beat and slowed it down to get in more fillers and quicker beats right. Pretty soon you were just making stuff up that sounded cool in your head. You weren’t going off of any of the lessons or beats you had been taught. It was just you and the rhythm in your head. You ended with a hit to the bass drum, the high hat, and one of the crash cymbals. You looked up to see that Calum and Luke had joined the other boys and we’re all staring wide-mouthed at you.
“Where the fuck did you leave how to do that, y/n?” Calum exclaimed.
“I took some lessons from one of my dads friends when I was younger. He was in some band that was actually really good but never got famous.” You shrugged, twirling a drumstick around your fingers.
“That was awesome! How long have you been playing then?” Luke inquired.
You shrugged again.
“Only like four years. It’s been on and off. When I see a drum set I’ll let out some bars but other than that not much. I have a kit back home that I like to practice on when I have free time.”
“Dude, have you ever thought about being in a band?” Michael asked from his place on the ground with his guitar on his lap.
You looked over at Ashton who had gone back to playing on his phone. He seemed disinterested after you had finished up your set.
“Yeah I did, but that thought lasted about two seconds before my mother squashed it. It’s ok. I have a set course for my life now.” You liked the attention the boys were giving you about your skill that would go to waste but you were slightly disappointed that Ashton didn’t seem to care.
“Hey well if you want you can always just join us and be a backup drummer!” Luke added.
“That’s not a bad idea” you said, actually considering the option.
“Nah she’s too good to be a backup. She needs to be like the full time drummer” Calum interjected.
“Maybe I’ll just be the new Ashton. Babe, I’m gonna be the new drummer for 5sos. Hope it’s cool with you.”
“Whatever.” Ashton stood and left abruptly. Did what you say make him uncomfortable?
“Who pissed in his Cheerios this morning?” Michael commented. The boys all laughed and you joined in halfheartedly.
“I’m gonna go see what’s wrong with him.” You left without waiting for any of them to say anything.
You roamed the halls trying to find your boyfriend but to no avail. You turned the corner to head back to the practice room you had been in when you heard drumming. Following the sound, you found Ashton on the stage beating away at his drum set that hadn’t been properly set on the stage yet. He looked pissed and you knew the best thing was to let him get whatever it was out of his system. Fuck it, you thought. That’s like coddling him and he’s an adult and needs to deal with his problems like one. You walked in from side stage but he didn’t notice you.
You stopped suddenly. The beat that he was playing sounded oddly familiar and then it clicked. He was trying to imitate the beat you were playing earlier. You sat and watched for a minute to see what he would do.
He was getting frustrated with himself when he wasn’t doing it exactly the way you had done it and he eventually gave up. He had sweat on his face and he rubbed the back of his arm across his forehead to try and wipe it off. You made yourself known by clearing your throat. He spun around and his eyes went wide.
“Are you mad?” You asked cautiously as you stood up and slowly stepped closer to him, arms folded across your chest.
“No” was his simple response.
“Stop lying to me. I know you are.” You tried to poke his cheek but he moved away.
“Stop, y/n. I’m not mad at you.” He was obviously lying through his teeth with the way he turned away from you. You knew that he really took it seriously with what you and the boys had said. You needed to make it right.
“What?” His answer was snippy.
“Look at me please.”
You waited for him to spin around and when he finally did you straddled him quickly so he couldn’t turn away from you anymore. Wrapping your arms around his neck, you peppered his face in kisses.
“I’m sorry about what we said. We aren’t going to kick you out of the band. You’re still the best drummer I know.” You tried to get a few kisses in between words.
His hands found your hips but he was still controlling his breathing through his nose, lips sealed.
“I heard you playing what I was playing before. Do you want me to teach you?”
Nothing. You stopped kissing his face and tenderly rubbed his biceps.
“I’m really sorry, Ash. You know that right?” You put on your best puppy dog face with the jutted lip and everything. You knew he couldn’t resist that face.
“Ugh fine. I’m not mad at you. How can I ever be mad at something so cute?” He roped his arms around your waist and pulled you closer. The grin that appeared on his face was infectious.
“Sorry baby. I just heard you playing and it was so good and you’ve been playing for less time than I have. Made me feel like you were better than me.” His head dropped slightly but you lifted it up with a finger to his chin.
“Just because I played that back there doesn’t mean that I’ll ever be as good as you. You’ve had years of practice and perfection. Sometimes people have a harder time getting to where they are now. I’m sure you can play things that I can’t even fathom to play.”
“Ok maybe it’s not but who cares? You’re the one in the successful band. Now do you want me to teach that thing to you or not?”
“You can teach me how to do that beat on one condition.”
“What?” You asked skeptically.
“You let me take my frustration out on you?”
“Bang me like you bang your drums, baby.”
The boys had just finished a set and were coming off stage, hyped up from playing such a large arena. Sweat was flung everywhere as Ashton shook his hair out. You stood a ways back but some hit you anyway.
“God fucking- Jesus Ashton! Stop! That’s so nasty” you squealed as you tried to wipe the sweat off where it had landed on your face.
“Get over it y/n. You’re in good company! No need to be down about a little sweat.” Ashton flung his arm over your shoulder and flicked your nose. You immediately shoved him off, making a disgusted face. Luke walked over to give you a quick kiss before he headed to the showers. The other boys followed suit and you were left in the dressing room.
You sat on a couch and pulled out your phone. Twitter popped up as soon as you unlocked your phone so you tweeted about random things. You went through some of the things people had tagged you in. One question stood out to you the most.
@calumalldaystalker: @y/t/n who wears the pants in the relationship?
That’s easy, you thought.
@y/t/n: @calumalldaystalker I do. Luke’s never been one to keep his on ;)
You closed off of Twitter and decided to play some flappy bird. After about half an hour of waiting, they boys all walked in laughing amongst themselves. Except Luke. He was looking down on his phone with a look of displeasure written across his face. You imagined it was something that someone had said or a scheduling issue but thought nothing of it in the end.
“Hi baby” you said as he walked past you to the other couch. You were confused because he usually would have sat by you. Something must be very wrong for him to completely ignore you and sit anywhere that wasn’t near you.
“Luke? S'everything ok?”
He shrugged but did nothing else. You decided to leave it be for now so as not to upset him even more.
The night passed slowly with the all the boys, including Luke, out clubbing but you back at the hotel. You’d decided to give Luke his space so he could sort everything out so you hadn’t gone. You tried multiple things to get your mind off of Luke and this problem. You tried online shopping and funny sites. You went onto YouTube and tried watching some of your favourite people but you’d seen all of their videos and they hadn’t released anything lately. You were growing restless and just wanted Luke to come back and tell you it was ok. You wanted to know what was going on and why he was mad at you.
Finally, at around two in the morning he walked in. He didn’t appear to be drunk in the slightest which must mean that he was too pissed to drink.
He started towards the bathroom as soon as he went through the door. Once again he walked past you without even a glance. Now was the time for confrontation.
“Luke, what the fuck is your problem? Huh? What’d I do wrong that you won’t tell me?” You stood in the doorway, hands on hips as he stared at you while brushing his teeth.
“Tell me what I did so I can start to make it right. You’ve left me in the dark and I don’t know what to do.”
He spat and rinsed. When he was done, he faced you and crossed his arms over his chest.
“Your tweet. About me not wearing the pants? Makes me feel like I’m insignificant. Like you rule over me and tell me what to do. You say jump and I say how high, is that right?”
You gave him the most incredulous look and then realised that you needed to fix it.
“I’m sorry, Lukey. I want to fix this. Here, I’ll delete the tweet” you said as you went to pull out your phone but Luke spoke.
“That won’t do anything. The second that tweet went out there were probably hundreds of thousands of screenshots of it” he said with an edge in his tone.
You knew that the way to get to him now was to make him feel in control. So you got down on your knees and moved towards him. His eyebrows shot up but soon went down to repeat the glare he was giving you.
“Pleaseforgivemepleaseforgivemepleaseforgivmepleaseforgivemepleaseforgivemepleaseforgivemepleaseforgiveme” you repeated several times but didn’t get the desired effect. He simply looked down at you. You could see a twinkling in his eyes that was telling you he liked you down here for him and asking for forgiveness. You thought you’d turn things up a notch.
“Baby, if you really didn’t like the tweet maybe you can wear the pants..”
He gave a questioning look and made a “go on” hand gesture.
“If you want to wear the pants in this relationship then here you go.” And with that, you stood up and took your pants off.
“Now you’re the only one wearing pants.”
Luke let out a chuckle, then a snort, and then started full on laughing, clutching his sides and wiping tears from his eyes.
Once his laughing subsided, he spoke.
“That was good, baby” he smiled. “I’m sorry I blew that out of proportion. I know you didn’t mean anything. In fact, I took that like completely out of context. I think I just wanted to find a fault with you. I mean you’re just so fucking perfect and I can’t find anything wrong with you” he explained.
He stopped talking and put his hands on your waist, pulling you in so you were touching.
“I do like wearing the pants but right now I think neither of us should wear pants for a few hours.”
“Cal, teach me how to play Fifa?”
“Yeah sure. Come ‘ere.” He patted the spot next to him on the floor. You joined him and leaned against the couch. He handed you a controller and showed you which buttons did which moves. You caught on fairly quickly and soon began scoring goals. Not as many as Calum because Calum is pro.
Michael walked in and sat behind you on the couch with his legs on either side of your shoulders. His hands came down and started massaging your neck.
“Try going on the left side. He’s never paid much attention over there” Michael whispered in your ear.
You tried what he said and ended up scoring.
“Michael don’t fucking give your girlfriend hints. I’m trying to pwn this noob.”
You and Michael turned to Calum and stared.
“What?” Calum asked.
“Don’t ever fucking say that again” Michael cautioned.
Calum looked like a kicked puppy. You knew he was playing around but that face was almost heart wrenching. You had a laugh about it and while he was pouting you scored another goal.
“Who’s the noob now, bitch?” You screamed as you jumped up and did a little dance.
“That’s my girl!” Michael joined you and spun you around.
“Fuck this, I’m outta here. You guys are ganging up on me” Calum muttered.
“Oh ya big baby” you called after him as he left to which he flipped you off without turning around.
The room calmed down and you were still in Michael’s arms.
“Wanna play Fifa with me since you think you’re so good?” he asked.
“Are you as good as Calum?”
“Better” he assured.
“Are you sure? Maybe I’ll just go grab Calum again so I’ll have some competition” you teased.
Michael’s arms went slack around your waist and he stared down at you.
“Fine. Go get Calum. Maybe he’ll date you as well.”
Michael stormed out leaving you shocked and puzzled. Why would he say that? You weren’t into Calum at all. You were friends but nothing more. Then it hit you. He had a hit to his ego from you jabbing at his Fifa skills so he took it out on you.
You devised a plan and to set things straight and went into action.
When you were finished, you went looking for Michael. You found him in his room on his phone. He looked up as you walked in but looked back down quickly.
“Michael, I’m sorry bout what I said. You’re good at Fifa. Better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Better than Calum too even though he plays it religiously. Will you forgive me?” You spoke softly, closing the gap between the two of you.
“Um actually before you forgive me will you just come with me?” You spoke quickly and timidly, looking down as you played with your hands. You heard rustling as he got off his bed and stood close to you. He didn’t say anything but you could tell he was still a tad bit angry.
You guided him to the living room where two controllers were set out by some pillows and blankets. Candles were scattered about the room and the smell of pizza was wafting in from the kitchen.
“What do you think?” You nervously asked.
“Aw baby. You did this for me?”
“My perfect girl.”
He pulled you to him and enveloped you in his arms.
“You’re forgiven. Now let’s see how good you are against the Fifa champion.”
“Mostly, we are feeling heartbroken over the death of our beautiful friend,” guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez, and drummer Sean Kinney added. “He was a sweet man with a keen sense of humor and a deep sense of humanity. He was an amazing musician, an inspiration, and comfort to so many. He made great music and gifted it to the world. We are proud to have known him, to be his friend, and to create music with him. For the past decade, Layne struggled greatly – we can only hope that he has at last found some peace. We love you, Layne. Dearly. And we will miss you… endlessly.”