Ever since I bought Already Heard to a halt in late August, I have rarely thought about the prospect of writing about music. Nevertheless, one thing that time away from running the site has provided me is the ability to enjoy music as a fan.
More often than not, my role as a writer and “critic” took priority when it came to listening to music. Rather than just hitting play and casually take whatever I was listening to in, I would immediately start evaluating it.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been taking in a variety of bands, albums and playlists, and I felt like I could use this more personal platform to share my current musical habits.
Jimmy Eat World – Survival
Anyone who knows me well personally will know Jimmy Eat World are my favourite band. While their last few hours have been somewhat polarising, yet still enjoyable (see 2013’s ‘Damage’), their latest album ‘Survival’ is considerably their best work since ‘Chase This Light’.
Over the course of its 10 songs, the Arizona band lean on the familiar traits of Jim Adkins’ distinctive voice and sonically big guitars. From the outset, the title track and ‘Criminal Energy’ are executed with urgency. Whereas ‘555’ drops the tempo with its cold, synth-laden approach, yet where ‘Integrity Blues’‘ ‘Pass The Baby’ proved to be uneventful, ‘555’ is a welcomed change of pace.
‘All The Way (Same)’ and ‘Love Never’ are routine, yet favourable, Jimmy Eat World singles that tick all the right boxes; catchy guitar-driven hooks with an emotive, memorable chorus. ‘Diamond’ highlights Adkins’ self-awareness as he sings, “Half-asleep, I’ll make a list, Then read back all my greatest hits, Should meditate, should work out more, Should read until my brain gets sore, Meet someone, go far away, Try being socially less strange.”
Although ‘Surviving’ has only been out a week and a half, unlike ‘Integrity Blues,’ ‘Damage’ and ‘Invented,’ I’m likely to revisit this album far more often than those.
Proper. – I Spent the Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better
This album initially passed me by when it was released this past summer (despite being on the favourable Big Scary Monsters roster). However, it’s become a record I’ve regularly listened to in recent weeks.
FKA as Great Wight, the Brooklyn based trio explore the notion of being all-black an indie/emo-punk band in a scene that is predominately white, while vocalist/guitarist Erik Garlington uses his platform to vent and provide an autographical spine to the record. Taking on subjects such as race, sexuality, and a troublesome relationship with his family, Garlington’s words and narration prove to be more compelling and clear with every listen. Admittedly as a straight white male, I can’t entirely relate to Erik’s trials and tribulations yet his delivery and storytelling are admirable and thoroughly honest.
Gender Roles – PRANG
Gender Roles have been a name I feel like I’ve heard about for quite some time. I’m sure if I delve into the Already Heard archive, I’ll find a piece long before the release of ‘PRANG’ from this summer.
The Brighton trio’s debut full-length is an infectious set of indie-punk, coated in slacker-grunge skin with a flair for big choruses throughout; ‘Tip of My Tongue’ and ‘You Look Like Death’ are both examples of this. While closing track, ‘Bubble,’ is a twisting blast of DIY indie-punk.
Throughout there’s a sense the trio aren’t here to play it straight-forward. ‘Your War’ is murky and sinister in its verses before exploding radiantly in the chorus. Likewise, the aforementioned ‘Bubble’ is executed through a wall of fuzz-laden guitar before settling back into quirky melody in its verse.
Unashamedly, ‘PRANG’ is a fun record, packed with anthemic hooks and packaged in a suitable DIY skin.
The Menzingers – Hello Exile
Like it or not, ‘Hello Exile’ was never going to be on par with ‘After the Party’. Yet The Menzingers‘ haven’t set themselves up for failure with this album. On the surface, it’s another enjoyable set of Americana-soaked tales from the Philadelphia punks.
In the months ahead of its early October release, I gave ‘Anna’ repeated plays and never became bored with it. It has everything you want from a great Menzingers song; an upbeat tempo and a hook that will be stuck with you for days.
Nevertheless, there is much more to ‘Hello Exile’ than its singles. ‘High School Friend’ and ‘Portland’ once again highlight Greg Barnett and Tom May’s ability as storytellers, and ‘Strain Your Memory’ is a country-tinged gem.
I’ve also been listening to…
Dance With The Dead
Hyperactive synthwave brilliantly combining with thrash metal guitars.
blink-182 – Darkside
I’ll admit I’ve not given ‘NINE’ enough time to sink in yet. When I have casually listened to it, very little has grabbed me (but I’m willing to give it time). And besides its cringe-worthy video, I’ve not become bored of ‘Darkside’ yet. I feel it (finally) marks Matt Skiba’s true arrival in blink-182 as he leads the chorus line.
Peaceful Music Playlist
My music listening habits have a tendency depending on what I’m doing and/or where I am. Since putting Already Heard on hiatus, I’ve made a conscious to read more, along with studying/learning about digital marketing. While I’m sure some people can put any type of music on to listen to I’ve started listening to more “calmer” music.
This Apple Music playlist is one I have regularly put on shuffle to serve as background music. While the work of Ólafur Arnalds and Sigur Ros’ ‘Liminal Sleep’ have also been listened to often as I focus on reading and studying.