Throwback Thursday – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose, “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now”

cornelius-brothers-sister-roseA lot of my biggest musical influences came from my parents’ wedding CD, which included the two-hit wonder-band Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose. The Florida-based Soul family came up with a couple of hits, but my favorite ended up being “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now”.

“It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now”, or as I call it, “That song that sounds like The Spinners’ ‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love'”, or “It’s Too Late” for length purposes, is a classic example of some of the best Soul has to offer in history. The variety of instruments that help guide but support the vocals (Rather than utterly dominate, like most modern music) is something that I covet. Random, uncalled-for harmonies can give the song a bit of spice to add to that gold recipe.

The chorus was just slightly too repetitive for me when the song was already so short, but it is a good thing that the hook is as amazing as it is. Hence why the song reached #2 on Billboard back when most people did not hear new music too often (Thank God I was born in the age of Twitter, SoundCloud, etc. etc.).

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9.75/10

You can check out the song below and take a good old trip down memory lane:

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Music Recommendation – Single – Brick + Mortar, “Bangs”

brickandmortarBrick + Mortar have had a rather quiet career since forming in 2008, but the duo of Brandon Asraf and John Tacon are at their best when coming together to create the title track for their second and most recent EP Bangs.

The song begins with an intense lone guitar riff, and transitions into a thick sound before leading to the catchy, though sometimes slightly contradictory lyrically chorus. The song has a unique Rock sound, which is difficult to pull off in a genre so vague with common similarities between artists.

While the vocals feel pitched well throughout most of the song, the bridge feels out of rhythm and a bit too raw in comparison to the earlier parts of the track. The opening track to the EP does give a reputable preview of what to expect from the remaining songs, though “Bangs” is the clearcut winner in quality.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

7.75/10

You can check out the song and its music video below:

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Throwback Thursday – Counting Crows, “A Long December”

counting-crowsOnce upon a time, it was the year 1996 when events transpired. I would narrate to you some of those events, but I was not born yet, so what does it matter to me? According to my parents, one of the highlights of 1996 was not the discovery of my conception (for whatever reason), but the song “A Long December” by Counting Crows. If anyone came back through time from a future century and asked what the 1990’s was like, you could show them this song and your work would be done.

Now that I have established that I am a conceited ass, “A Long December” is one of the best Counting Crows songs out. It’s popularity came at a time when Alternative-Rock was about as big as naming your sons Brandon and Dylan (90210 reference for the win). The incredible piano and guitar support always made the vocals sound less raggedy, but I doubt that ever affected the song for anyone.

The song almost resembles Country music, save for the guitar solo on the bridge. While I could never relate with the love for the song, it is still a classic and solid pick for an “I’ve had a terrible month” song. The subject and message are deep and meaningful, though are hardly conveyed when half the words are butchered throughout the song. Overall, I would rate “A Long December” at:

7.5/10

So if you had a terrible December, go ahead and remember the song below:

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Music Recommendation – Multiple – Fall Out Boy, “Irresistible”; “Jet Pack Blues”; “Novacaine”; “The Kids Aren’t Alright”

fall-out-boy-2015I am going to be honest: I have never been a big fan of Fall Out Boy. I felt I gave their music a fighting chance for a while, and they just continually disappointed me. I could not see any appeal whatsoever. Writing for the website that I do, I run into Rock music quite a bit. Therefore, I write about Fall Out Boy about as often as Miley Cyrus posts a new picture of her nipple from a different angle: At least once a week, depending on how slow of a newsweek it is.

Wanting to branch out and listen to something different, I gave Fall Out Boy’s recent singles a chance. “Centuries” hardly did the trick, but “Irresistible” was worth noting. Then, just yesterday, the group released two new singles: “Novacaine” and, my new favorite song, “Jet Pack Blues”. So let’s break down my three favorite Fall Out Boy songs out there since some of their much earlier works below:

1. “Irresistible” – The epic brass intro leads into an immediately big first verse. This worried me that the chorus would explode to the point of being annoying, but the drop on the hook and build-up in the chorus makes for perfect pacing. I definitely felt after hearing this song that Fall Out Boy was moving in the right direction. Patrick Stump’s voice cracks a bit and sounds like it was pitched by my grandma, but Stump does manage to keep a quick speed in his lyrics and hardly gets a chance to breathe it seems. Production has a huge role in making “Irresistible” enjoyable and the final result is a good song.

8.75/10

2. “Jet Pack Blues” – Meet my new favorite song. The first stanza is the perfect speed lyrically, and has some great quotable lines. The chorus explodes into a big and easy-to-pick-up few seconds until it goes into the next short verse. The song is simple when it needs to be but has a complexity to its subject and tone. The bridge has a retro-guitar feel to it for a brief shining moment, but then gets just a bit too repetitive for me. Regardless, it became my favorite song and is some of the best I have ever heard by Fall Out Boy.

9.75/10

3. “Novacaine” – “Novacaine” does not compare very much to the first two in appeal, but it is a perfect loud Rock track. It gets chanty (which I can’t say I love), it relies heavily on guitar and bass, and is defiant like the teenagers listening to Fall Out Boy. The hook is intriguing and leads into a hair-flipping guitarplayer-pretending chorus. The bridge bothers me quite a bit because of the chanting and backup, but does not last longer than it needs to. “Novacaine” might not be the best song on the album, but it has a fun quality to it that is great for getting pumped up or just blasting some loud Rock in your earholes.

7/10

4. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” – I do not know what happened to the kids to make them not alright, but last time I checked Kesha had otherwise to say. While this one may not be as good as the first two, I do like the vocal pacing and the hook leading into the chorus. While this song is a bit more low-key (at least for Fall Out Boy), it still retains an entertaining nature to it. The whistling after the chorus probably bothers me the most, and the feeling of “ugh, get on with it” in the first verse. The second verse is paced much better, however. This is another solid FOB song that features some serious lyricism.

8/10

So there they are, my favorites on Fall Out Boy’s upcoming album American Beauty/America Psycho. It comes out on January 20, and I have all of this memorized I have to type it out a lot. But hey, at least I am stuck with a good band to write about. I hope that Fall Out Boy continues in this direction and make music that stays modern while indulging in the juicy sound that the group previously had in the mid-late 2000’s.

So which was your favorite song in my recommendations above?

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Billboard Hot 100 Favorites #1

billboard

In honor of hitting 5,000 views today, I decided to do something special. Just because I write about less-than-mainstream music sometimes does not mean I have no ounce of soul. AKA I do not consider myself a hipster. If you do, go ahead, but I thought I would share my favorite mainstream music picks. So let’s jump right into this, I’ll even give quick ratings!

Disclosure: I will not write about songs that I have already given “Hear It First” articles. These songs and their positions are as of the week of January 17, 2015 on the America (‘Murica!) chart. You can read about each song below the jump:

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Artist Recommendation – The House United

The-House-UnitedLet’s talk about me for a minute. If you have not realized it by now, I like talking about me. We can talk about the people that aren’t me later. Ain’t no word count limit.

I write for Infectious Magazine every week, where I cover news and new music by your favorite Rock, Punk and Pop acts. Amongst my favorite features of the site is the guest blog policy; Namely that instead of featuring new bands through news and songs, the site has these up-and-coming artists write their own articles about subjects ranging from favorite albums to how to manage creating a music video for an affordable price.

Welcomed as a guest writer was Carmel Buckingham of the band The House United. The post was called Top 10 Teen Angst Anthems, which gave a good preview of what to expect from the writer’s musical style. I would say it is safe to assume the list is scarily accurate. Just reading it made me hate my parents for no viable reason for a couple of minutes.

So after reading and going through some of the angst themes I had yet to hear, I finished off the article with a FATALITY. Wait, no, actually I listened to their hottest single, “Emergency”, at the bottom, which would end up being my favorite song by the group. Other songs I enjoyed include the title track of their album, Made Of Matches, and “Catastrophe”. Also, “Girls Who Can’t Have Fun” did make me feel empowered as a wom – man, pure and utter man.

Each of the four members come from different corners of North America but find a common place in their punk-based sound and “united” as The House United in Nashville. Buckingham’s voice can go from raw to a more tuned contrast, the latter of which I prefer. At times, some long notes go a bit awry and are just carried on, but cause the vocals to require to stay in a deeper range. However, each song starts out strong and this does not affect the music’s quality much. There is also a great emphasis and care taken for the instrumentals and production, most notably on guitar.

Overall, I like this group and Buckingham’s voice immediately reminds me of Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, lead singer of PVRIS. Members cite Angels & Airwaves, Muse, and more as their influences. I would rate The House United’s music from their debut album at:

8.75/10

So go out and support the group if you like you some Pop Punk like I do. Hey, are we talking about me again? You can purchase the Nashville-based band’s debut album Made Of Matches on iTunes here. The group plays loads of shows across the United States, so check out their official Facebook page for more information on that here. And lastly, go play “Emergency” below:

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Throwback Thursday – Bruce Springsteen, “Badlands”

badlandsA slightly underappreciated and overlooked Bruce Springsteen song is the 1978 single off of Darkness On The Edge Of Town “Badlands”. I took to Wikipedia for some fun trivia about this song, so take this right in your face: Bruce came up with the song title before any of the lyrics, the song hit #42 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and Rolling Stone Magazine rated “Badlands” to be Springsteen’s all time 2nd greatest song behind “Born To Run.” Suckerpunched right in the kisser with knowledge.

I am pressed for time to write, so I will keep the summary brief. It’s catchy progressive rock. Wikipedia helped me figure that one out. Overall, I would rate this fan favorite at:

9.5/10

Go ahead and enjoy the memories below:

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Music Recommendation – Multiple – Mat Kearney, “One Black Sheep”; “Just Kids”

mat-kearneyMat Kearney has been bringing on new singles and I felt like both deserved mentioning. I don’t think I could make a snarky sarcastic crack on this guy, as he always seems like such a cool and nice dude. His music feels genuine and has an energy to it that makes it some of the last good stuff left in Soft-Rock.

Both songs are soley done by Kearney and neither has a feature. So let’s go through each of these songs and break them down:

1. One Black Sheep – The motivating One Black Sheep deals with being different and handling it. Again, I love Mat Kearney’s song lyrics and the tone in which he presents it is superb. While I have to say I like the “oomm-bada-ba-dae” part, I can see others not enjoying it. The song is a bit more Pop-y and is similar to how Ships In The Night sounded. Overall, I would rate it at:

9/10

2. Just Kids – Just Kids is a bit longer and is focused more on love than One Black Sheep was. The song slows down a bit and features an estimated 43% more piano. I also liked the Wu-Tang Clan reference. The vocals are a bit raw on this song compared to his other music, but the distorted vocals on the chorus are definitely worth the wait. I like listening to One Black Sheep better, but I do appreciate the lyricism and sound of Just Kids and how each is different but manage to be good songs. Overall, I would rate this one at:

8.5/10

So these two average out to 8.75/10. Both songs are relatively recent releases, so you can enjoy hearing them early as well. I recommend listening to both, so go ahead and check them out below:

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Artist Recommendation – Foxcat

foxcatFoxcat are a Nebraska-based band with a knack for Folk-Rock. The group calls Lincoln home, and cites influences such as Green Day, Jack White, Tallest Man On Earth, and more. The short songs make great country radio play and have a natural sound to them that showcases the talents on vocals and instruments (especially guitar).

The group is definitely an independent band worth checking out if in Lincoln, Nebraska. The music usually has a moderate tempo but distorted instrumentals and unique vocals. My favorites by the band are Dead End, You Tell Me, and You Shoulda Stayed Here.

Overall, I would rate the band’s music at:

8.75/10

The vocals are just a bit rough on high notes, but their appeal is in the coarse Folk-Rock feel to it. The instrumentals and production feels a bit basic at times, but in other songs (Especially my three listed above) their sound is complex and entrancing.

I recommend at least giving these three favorites a listen, or if you want to hear more, you can stream their debut album Roughshod on Foxcat’s official SoundCloud below.

-Austin Heath

Album Review – Tyler Carter, “Leave Your Love” (EP)

leave-your-love-tyler-carterTyler Carter has the ability to make some excellent and diverse music, ranging from Pop to Metalcore. The lead singer of Issues released his new EP, Leave Your Love, earlier this week to stream on YouTube. The album has a bit more of a Soulful Pop tone and includes only one feature.

So how does the solo work of Tyler Carter compare to that of his popular hits with his band? Let’s break down this album track by track and find out:

1. Sophisticated – The beat is rather basic and the vocal production feels a bit subpar, but Sophisticated is an enjoyable song. The hook seems to just go on for too long, though. I can nitpick this song quite a bit, as little aspects just feel overlooked. It focuses more on the hook than anything else, which while catchy, reaches a point where it is not as enjoyable and just makes the song feel shorter than it actually is. There is something about the song that makes it easy to listen to, however, and Tyler Carter’s voice sounds passionate and flows well with the beat.

7.25/10

2. Leave Your Love – The title track of the EP is a bit more mellow and soulful than Sophisticated, showing the diversity of Tyler Carter’s music.  Leave Your Love‘s tone reminds me a bit of The Weeknd but has a bit more vocal editing and extra notes behind lyrics. These can be a bit excessive, but otherwise the song is enjoyable. The end of the chorus is especially catchy and the fade out instrumental is beautifully composed and executed.

9.25/10

3. Georgia – Already reviewed this song here. Sidenote: This song has become incredibly catchy due to its simple lyrics and soulful sound. Though the rating was not incredibly high, it does deserve a listen.

7.5/10

4. So Slow – Despite starting the musical aspect way too late, So Slow actually becomes a great listen. The song sounds similar to Chris Brown’s F.A.M.E. sound. You know, amazing RnB? The flow in the second stanza is a bit off at times, but the whole song is a great pace and my only wish it that it had ceased the talking part earlier. Though the random pitch sounds for a bridge could have been dealt with any other way perhaps.

6.5/10

5. Tears On The Runway (Pt. 1) ft. Nylo – Two-parters are always interesting, especially when lined up together. Sadly, this one will not get a part two for a while. The duet is rather low-key and features heartfelt lyricism. The chorus is a bit brief, but it is enjoyable. This is my first encounter with Nylo, and her voice is unique, though not very ranged. Tyler Carter’s synth-based and tuned vocals sound a bit too much like the Jonas Brothers for me on this song, but it is still a fine listen.

7.25/10

6. Find Me – Find Me caps off the album decently, as the song capitalizes on the mistakes of the previous songs by adding a bit more emphasis on the points put into the verses. The song is a bit explicit, but feels more emotionally connected with Tyler Carter. The vocals are a bit rough, but have points where they are more impressive. The song is a bit average and hardly stands out as making the album great, but is not difficult to enjoy.

8/10

So overall, the EP averages out to a score of about:

7.75/10

The EP is a bit messy in its sound quality and composition, but the songs are diverse and interesting to hear. There are plenty of catchy melodies worth hearing and I would say listening to the EP in full is not a mistake, but is not necessarily going to be considered a “slept-on album” if it does not get the attention it was made to receive.

I still enjoy Tyler Carter’s solo music quite a bit, though this EP had its flaws. I just want to see these flaws practiced on and a full EP released with a couple of features and better faith in Tyler Carter’s voice. I have seen mixed reviews, and mixed is exactly how I feel about these six songs.

You can stream the EP below on YouTube, along with pre-ordering it on iTunes for its January 2015 release here (So I don’t feel like such an industry killer by only sharing the stream and have Taylor Swift show up at my door):

-Austin Heath