10 Songs to Celebrate Pride Month

Here at Alt Columnist, we mainly focus on alternative music, from indie rock to pop punk to singer/songwriter folk and everything in between. To celebrate Pride Month, we will be stepping outside of those genre-based boundaries and discussing songs that are pop, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and alt-pop. These pieces are either about being LGBT+, are written/performed by LGBT+ artists, and/or have become regarded as empowering anthems for the LGBT+ community. We hope you enjoy, and let us know your favorite LGBT+ tunes! (Want a Spotify playlist? Click here!)

“Girls Like Girls” by Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko has risen to popularity through starring in Scooby Doo and Disney television shows, but her solo music career started taking off with the release of the This Side of Paradise EP in 2015 which featured her hit single titled “Girls Like Girls.” This indie pop song is an absolute anthemic jam for women-loving women everywhere, and the emotional music video presents the struggles that many gay people face in relationships and friendships. Hayley released her follow-up EP Citrine in 2016 which delivered more empowering tunes, like “Ease My Mind” and “Palace.” She recently debuted another single earlier this year named “Sleepover,” a fabulous slow burn that again details the difficulties of crushing on a friend. Overall, Hayley serves as an innovative indie pop artist who isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve.

“Girls/Girls/Boys” by Panic! at the Disco

Coming from the last genuinely good Panic! at the Disco album, (click here to read our review of Death of a Bachelor), “Girls/Girls/Boys” describes a love triangle complicated by bisexuality, but instead of execrating the orientation, Brendon accepts and supports it, chanting that “girls love girls and boys” and “love is not a choice.” “Girls/Girls/Boys” has become empowering for many LGBT+ youth, especially considering Panic!’s large young fanbase. While Brendon himself is not a member of the LGBT+ community, he has reported experimenting with men in the past but ultimately identifies as straight. He is a notable ally and features a rainbow pride flag at many of his live shows, overwhelmingly adorned by admirable praise from the audience.

“Ghosts” by PVRIS

Lynn Gunn, the frontwoman of the electro-rock band PVRIS, is gay and open about it in hopes of providing representation for others. It was hard to narrow it down to one song to feature in this post, but we settled on “Ghosts,” a personal favorite that exhibits the struggles of a relationship when dealing with “ghosts” which Lynn has explained is a metaphor for mental health issues, namely depression. This tune seems to tell the story of a couple facing challenges in their relationship due to these ghosts, the “things [Lynn] can’t see” but are still having an affect on their emotional connection, again pointing to psychological problems or other hardships. Overall, PVRIS has consistently released fantastic music and their powerful frontwoman continues to serve as a gay icon in the scene.

“Shameless” by Tyler Glenn

Tyler Glenn, lead singer of the pop rock band Neon Trees, has come out as gay and is shameless about it. He distanced himself from the Mormon religion due to his sexuality and other disagreements, and his debut solo album Excommunication discusses his experience and frustration with the LDS Church. “Shameless” is about not giving a damn and “living a life so shameless” while also calling out others on how they “hate what they don’t understand.” In a vein similar to Lady Gaga’s power anthem “Born This Way,” “Shameless” is bound to embolden listeners to be themselves unabashed and audaciously. Both songs also include religious inflections in the lyrics, taking jabs at close-minded church organizations, and Gaga in particular encourages the idea that God makes no mistakes and LGBT+ people can be spiritual no matter what.

“You Can Cry Tomorrow” by Betty Who

Again, it was difficult to choose just one song to include from the LGBT+ pop icon Betty Who. Jessica Anne Newham, known by her stage name Betty Who, relocated to the United States from Sydney, Australia, in 2007 and pursued a music career in the early 2010s with the debut single “Somebody Loves You” dropping in late 2012. Her sugary, upbeat pop jams have been utilized for gay marriage proposals and LGBT+ events, and she has performed at countless pride festivals across the country. “You Can Cry Tomorrow” is an uplifting ’80s-inspired pop tune with glimmering synths and catchy melodies, and the artist doesn’t hold back her sexual orientation in the lyrics.

“Heaven (ft. Betty Who)” by Troye Sivan

Speaking of Betty Who, she is featured on Troye Sivan’s emotional song “Heaven” from his 2015 debut album Blue Neighbourhood. The South African-born Australian initially found his fame on YouTube, garnering attention from other LGBT+ internet personalities like Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart, and Connor Franta, and, through his profound interest in music, eventually signed to EMI Australia in 2013 to deliver his EP titled TRXYE, released in 2014. Troye is openly gay and acts as a role model for his viewers and listeners. “Heaven” discusses the familial and religious struggles that are unfortunately attached to the orientation, such as hiding the truth from one’s parents, coming to terms with oneself, and questioning spiritual beliefs. The piece is moving, haunting, and showcases perfectly the challenges many LGBT+ people face personally in the church.

“I Found A Girl” by The Vamps

The Vamps debuted as a British pop rock reggae band with syrupy sweet melodies and summertime vibes, though they originally started out uploading covers on YouTube, everything from One Direction and Austin Mahone to Neon Trees and McFly. Even as their career has progressed, they still continue to post covers, branching out to more rock oriented artists like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and 5 Seconds of Summer. Their second album Wake Up featured the band taking a more pop approach in their style with songs that could easily have appeared as One Direction b-sides but still maintaining their guitars in most instances. The project also included the monumental “I Found A Girl,” an energetic pop rock reggae fusion song about a man falling in love with a lesbian and, like Brendon in “Girls/Girls/Boys,” he doesn’t condemn her sexuality but rather welcomes it.

“Apologize (ft. OMVR)” by Matilda

Norwegian up-and-coming pop artist Matilda (no, not the musical/film) has released multiple amazing singles and albums, unleashing infectious electro indie pop tunes with a ferocious bite. (Oh, and she also wrote some of them with Betty Who.) Her music video for “Apologize (ft. OMVR)” gained viral attention from the LGBT+ community for shining the spotlight on the ups and downs experienced by a lesbian couple. Her song “Ghost” is catchy and pleasingly memorable with a melody you won’t be able to get out of your head. (Coincidentally, another artist by the name of Matilda has released a song titled “Girl Code” which discusses a lesbian struggling with a crush on her friend. If we are mistaken and these Matildas are the same artist, please let us know. We were greatly shocked!) Matilda continues to be on the rise with her single “Illusion” which was recently released at the end of May.

“Dancing in the Rain” by Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is the brother of Chance the Rapper and opened up about being bisexual in early 2017. He told Billboard that his main motivation for coming out publicly was for his fans to know him better. “You don’t want to do anything that makes your fans not like you anymore, but I realized, ‘F— it! Be yourself.’ You got to be yourself. That’s what I said; that’s what my parents have always told me. The only people I felt like I deserved to tell was my fans because if your fans don’t know you, how can they support you? Then there was also the idea that for somebody that has a platform like mine that can speak to these many people, to come out and say something like that, I hope, puts courage in people to do the same thing.” His sweet R&B-tinged hip-hop ballad “Dancing in the Rain (ft. Donnie Trumpet, Shay Lewis, & Brandon Fox)” details the desire to just dance with your partner and let go of the pain, the worries, and the heartache.

“Night Go Slow” by Catey Shaw

Catey Shaw, a pop artist from Brooklyn, mentioned in an article with AfterEllen that she’s “had relationships with men in the past and with women” and her sexuality influences her songwriting; she enjoys making music that elevates LGBT+ people. From humble beginnings busking on subway platforms to alt-pop renown, Catey Shaw is a seasoned singer/songwriter who describes her music as being very careful and mixing many genres together, like jazz, disco, and reggae. The music video for her slow-dance-ready song “Night Go Slow” features a young lesbian couple enjoying a night alone together between sleeping in the back of a truck and stealing from a convenience store. Catey’s sweet pop tunes will not only get stuck in your head but also serve a greater purpose for the LGBT+ community.

Other great songs to check out…

Let us know in the comments some of your favorite LGBT+-related songs and inspirational artists! (Of course, please understand that a person’s sexual orientation does not define their entire identity; humans are inherently multidimensional, so please take time to look into these artists even more beyond their sexuality and/or political/social stances.)

May 2017 Alt Col Picks

A lot of great records were released in May, so here are our favorite albums of the month! (In no particular order.) Want a Spotify playlist? Click here!

  • Paramore – After Laughter

Irresistible melodies, smooth guitar riffs, and heartfelt lyrics define Paramore’s fifth studio album titled After Laughter. The band leans into a colorful new sound gilded by the ’80s and pop sensibility, continuing to push the envelope of their musical range and variation. Standout tracks include “Fake Happy,” “Hard Times,” and “Rose-Colored Boy.” After Laughter will appeal to fans of Walk the Moon, HAIM, and Bleachers.

  • Harry Styles – Harry Styles

I never thought I would be writing about Harry Styles on an alternative music website but here we are. Styles delivers his debut solo album with grandiosity and charm. From thunderous, rocking choruses to calm, sincere acoustic serenades, Styles proves he’s more than just a typical (former) boy band member. Standout tracks include “Kiwi,” “Only Angel,” “Sign of the Times,” and “Two Ghosts.” Harry Styles is sure to attract followers of, um, ZZ Top, Niall Horan, and Aerosmith, I guess.

  • Vinyl Theatre – Origami

Pop rockers Vinyl Theatre offer up some of their heaviest material to date and also some of their catchiest. These compelling tunes are bound to get stuck rattling in your head between their buoyant guitar riffs and clamorous percussion. Standout tracks include “My Fault,” “30 Seconds,” and “The Island.” Origami will capture listeners of MisterWives, The Griswolds, and Finish Ticket.

  • Perfume Genius – No Shape

The soft art-pop of No Shape is haunting, beautiful, and mesmerizing. Mike Hadreas’s eerie falsetto and raw synth accompaniment coagulate for an expressive, stirring record destined to be unforgettable and hallucinatory with every listen. Standout tracks include “Slip Away,” “Wreath,” and “Just Like Love.” No Shape is sure to interest fans of Future Islands, Angel Olsen, and Porches.

  • MisterWives – Connect the Dots

Memorable hooks and enticing instrumentation characterize MisterWives’ sophomore record Connect the Dots. Extraordinary melodies and vocal performances make this indie pop rock album undeniably fun and impressive. Standout tracks include “Machine,” “Drummer Boy,” “Coloring Outside the Lines,” and “Oh Love.” Connect the Dots will appeal to followers of Vinyl Theatre, COIN, and The Griswolds.

  • Gideon – Cold

Hailing from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Gideon releases their fourth studio album and first full-length with Equal Vision Records titled Cold. Brimming with aggression, bite, and pugnacity, Cold is fiery and chilling all at once. Standout tracks include “Champions,” “Cursed,” “Machines,” and “Pulling Teeth.” Cold is sure to satisfy followers of Fit for a King, Colossus, and For All Eternity.

  • Dreamcar – Dreamcar

Dreamcar is a new wave alt-rock supergroup comprised of members from No Doubt and AFI, but their debut release together is not reminiscent of either of those acts. Dreamcar is dreamy, spellbinding, and crisp, sure to put you in a hypnotic trance with each spin. Standout tracks include “Kill for Candy,” “Born to Lie,” and “All of the Dead Girls.” Dreamcar is bound to attract listeners of Knox Hamilton, No Doubt, and The Kin.

  • Magic Giant – In the Wind

Indie rockers Magic Giant unleash their debut long-player detailed by folky alt-pop inflections and catchy, anthemic choruses. In the Wind is colorful, vibrant, and lively, each song bringing a new spectacular attitude to the table. Standout tracks include “Set On Fire,” “Window,” and “Celebrate the Reckless.” In the Wind will capture fans of The Mowglis, Grouplove, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.

  • Free Throw – Bear Your Mind

Invigorating pop punk and poignant lyricism elucidate Free Throw’s sophomore album titled Bear Your Mind. Between impassioned vocals and alluring guitar melodies, Bear Your Mind is certainly a record you will gladly bear in mind with every play. Standout tracks include “Randy, I Am the Liquor,” “Better Have Burn Heal,” and “Weight On My Chest.” Bear Your Mind will capture fans of Neck Deep, The Wonder Years, and The Story So Far.

  • Grayscale – Adornment

Grayscale’s sophomore full-length Adornment testifies to the band’s engaging songwriting and stellar musicianship. With animated choruses and tireless libretto, Adornment doesn’t need to be adorned with enhancements—it’s already amazing. Standout tracks include “Atlantic,” “Come Undone (ft. Patty Walters),” and “Beautiful Things.” Adornment will capture fans of As It Is, Moose Blood, and Like Pacific.


Honorable Mentions & eps
  • Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else – Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Mellow indie alternative bliss. Standout tracks include “Smoker’s Paradise,” “Static Electricity,” and “Wrong Turn.” For fans of Yellow Ostrich, Varsity, and Rayland Baxter.

  • A Lot Like Birds – Divisi

Piercing rock with infectious riffs. Standout tracks include “The Sound of Us,” “Trace the Lines,” and “Infinite Chances.” For fans of Emarosa, Slaves, and Hail the Sun.

  • Gold Route – Prosper

Upbeat yet ardent pop punk. Standout tracks include “Void,” “Build,” and “Ropes.” For fans of Detour North, Talk to You Never, and Seaway.

  • Chasing Velvet – Wings (EP)

Smooth, captivating pop rock. Standout tracks include “The Clouds” and “Vertigo,” but the entire EP is wonderful! For fans of 5 Seconds of Summer, Royal Teeth, and Hollywood Heartache.

  • Seasonal – Bloom (EP)

Energetic pop punk with an indie tinge. Standout tracks include “Certainty,” “These Games,” and “Ranger,” but the whole EP is great! For fans of Moose Blood, Seaway, and Turnover.

  • Wavves – You’re Welcome

Enthusiastic indie rock. Standout tracks include “Million Enemies,” “Daisy,” and “Dreams of Grandeur.” For fans of FIDLAR, Cloud Nothings, and SWMRS.

  • At the Drive-In – in•ter a•li•a

Gravelly rock with overflowing angst. Standout tracks include “Governed by Contagions,” “Pendulum in a Peasant Dress,” and “Hostage Stamps.” For fans of Billy Talent, The Mars Volta, and Sparta.

  • Girlpool – Powerplant

Velvety, expressive indie rock. Standout tracks include “123,” “It Gets More Blue,” and “Powerplant.” For fans of Palehound, Car Seat Headrest, and Pinegrove.

  • flor – come out. you’re hiding

Exhilarating indie alt-pop. Standout tracks include “overbehind,” “hold on,” and “guarded.” For fans of LANY, Paradise Fears, and Against the Current.

  • Waters – Something More!

Fun, sprightly indie rock. Standout tracks include “Hiccups,” “You Don’t Know What You Want,” and “Molly Is a Babe.” For fans of Grouplove, Bleachers, and Cold War Kids.

  • Fire From the Gods – Narrative Retold

Ragged rock with a spirited bite. Standout tracks include “The Voiceless,” “The Taste,” and “End Trasmission.” For fans of Of Mice & Men, Wovenwar, and Beartooth.

  • The Mountain Goats – Goths

Transcendental indie alternative vibes. Standout tracks include “Rain in Soho,” “We Do It Different on the West Coast,” and “Stench of the Unburied.” For fans of Tame Impala, Lady Lamb, and alt-J.


Let us know what you think of May’s releases down in the comments below!

April 2017 Alt Col Picks

A bunch of great albums appeared in April, so here are our favorite releases of the month! (In no particular order.) Want a Spotify playlist? Click here!

  • The Maine – Lovely Little Lonely

Catchy hooks, slick guitar melodies, and impassioned lyrics characterize The Maine’s sixth studio album, Lovely Little Lonely. The band offers up some of their best material to date and tiptoes outside of their comfort zone on multiple tunes. Standout tracks include “Bad Behavior,” “Black Butterflies & Déjà Vu,” and “Do You Remember? (The Other Half of 23).” Lovely Little Lonely will appeal to fans of Anarbor, This Century, and Beach Weather.

  • New Found Glory – Makes Me Sick

The monumental pop rock band New Found Glory have returned for their ninth long-player entitled Makes Me Sick, conjuring their trademark style and introducing some new electronic elements in the mix to keep things fresh and modern. Standout tracks include “Happy Being Miserable,” “The Sound of Two Voices,” and “Party on Apocalypse.” Makes Me Sick is sure to attract followers of Bayside, Taking Back Sunday, and Good Charlotte.

  • Have Mercy – Make the Best of It

Emo rockers Have Mercy solidify their place in the scene with their latest record titled Make the Best of It. The ardent libretto and fierce musicality prove they truly are making the best of their ability and skill. Standout tracks include “Coexist,” “Good Christian Man,” and “Begging for Bones.” Make the Best of It will capture listeners of The Wonder Years, Sorority Noise, and Boston Manor.

  • Super American – Disposable

Super American’s debut outing is anything but disposable. These rough-around-the-edges tunes are bound to stick in your head like bubblegum, though not as sweet. There is a bite and underlying angst, seeping through every verse littered with sharp wordplay and deft hooks. Standout tracks include “Sloppy Jazz,” “Dearly Beloved,” and “Congratulations.” Disposable is sure to interest fans of The Front Bottoms, Joyce Manor, and Modern Baseball.

  • Hawking – Diverge

Atmospheric alt-rock has never sounded better. Hawking blends a piercing edge with smooth melodies to create tremendous, memorable choruses and vehement tunes on their debut full-length titled Diverge. Standout tracks include “Broken Glass,” “Comfortable,” “Lying Through Your Teeth,” and “Haunted House.” Diverge will appeal to followers of (possibly) Starset, Red, and Fame on Fire.

  • The Flatliners – Inviting Light

The Flatliners’ latest project Inviting Light doesn’t just invite you to listen; it demands your attention and begs you to feel. Captivating guitar refrains, accomplished vocals, and avid lyricism distinguish this unforgettable record. Standout tracks include “Indoors,” “Hang My Head,” and “Human Party Trick.” Inviting Light is sure to satisfy followers of The Menzingers, The Gaslight Anthem, and Teenage Bottlerocket.

  • The Weeks – Easy

The Weeks make a splash with their bluesy indie rock long-player titled Easy. The effortless musicianship and songwriting ability exhibited on this album creates the image that this level of greatness is simply just easy for The Weeks to achieve. Standout tracks include “Talk Like That,” “Bottle Rocket,” and “Hands on the Radio.” Easy is bound to attract listeners of Alabama Shakes, Lake Street Dive, and Moon Taxi.

  • Cold War Kids – LA Divine

Glossy yet jagged, LA Divine displays the real caliber of the outstanding alt-rockers Cold War Kids. Their sixth studio release is outlined by remarkable choruses, anthemic chants, lustrous instrumentation, and sleek lyrics you can’t get out of your head. Standout tracks include “Love Is Mystical,” “So Tied Up (ft. Bishop Briggs),” and “No Reason to Run.” LA Divine will capture fans of Cage the Elephant, Grouplove, and Young the Giant.


Honorable Mentions
  • Andrew Combs – Canyons of My Mind

Mellow singer/songwriter bliss. Standout tracks include “Rose Colored Blues,” “Blood Hunters,” and “Bourgeois King.” For fans of Little Chief, Jason Isbell, and Simon & Garfunkel.

  • While She Sleeps – You Are We

Piercing rock with infectious riffs. Standout tracks include “Silence Speaks (ft. Oli Sykes),” “Hurricane,” and “Feel.” For fans of Beartooth, Memphis May Fire, and The Devil Wears Prada.

  • Overcoats – Young

Mesmerizing indie alt-pop. Standout tracks include “Leave the Light On,” “Hold Me Close,” and “Nighttime Hunger.” For fans of Lorde, Oh Wonder, and Broods.

  • Those Who Knew – New Perspective (EP)

Enthusiastic pop rock with shrewd melodies. Standout tracks include “Losing Touch” and “Seventeen,” but the whole EP is great! For fans of Face Value, Sleep On It, and Far Too Young.

  • Falling In Reverse – Coming Home

Gravelly rock with overflowing angst. Standout tracks include “Coming Home,” “Loser,” and “F**k You and All Your Friends.” For fans of A Day to Remember, Issues, and Starset.

  • Future Islands – The Far Field

Velvety, expressive indie rock. Standout tracks include “Ran,” “Beauty of the Road,” and “North Star.” For fans of Arcade Fire, Perfume Genius, and Warpaint.

  • Incubus – 8

Exhilarating rock with some odd genres sprinkled along. Standout tracks include “Undefeated,” “Nimble Bastard,” and “State of the Art.” For fans of Bush, Smashing Pumpkins, and You Me At Six.

  • Diet Cig – Swear I’m Good At This

Ragged indie rock with a punk tinge. Standout tracks include “Tummy Ache,” “Sixteen,” and “Barf Day.” For fans of Girlpool, PWR BTTM, and Alumine.


Let us know what you think of April’s releases down in the comments below!

March 2017 Alt Col Picks

Plenty of great albums appeared in March, so here are our favorite releases of the month! (In no particular order.) Want a Spotify playlist? Click here!

  • Ed Sheeran – ÷

Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran’s third major label release ÷ attests to his stylistic diversity, shifting from hip-hop occasions to sugary love ballads to casual acoustic serenades. While it is certainly not his best work, ÷ still does not fall flat on its face as another “white guy with an acoustic guitar” outing. Standout tracks include “Castle on the Hill,” “Galway Girl,” and “Supermarket Flowers.” ÷ will appeal to fans of Chris DuPont, Julie Byrne, and Noah Guthrie. Maybe.

Read our full review of Ed Sheeran’s ÷ by clicking here!

  • Can’t Swim – Fail You Again

The hard-hitting debut from New Jersey’s Can’t Swim is sure to put them on the map and solidify their position in the modern rock and pop punk scene! Rough vocals and impassioned musicality meld together for a compelling listen, bound to keep the record spinning for weeks to come. Standout tracks include “What’s Your Big Idea?,” “Quitting,” and “We Won’t Sleep.” Fail You Again is sure to attract followers of Seaway, Have Mercy, and Like Pacific.

  • Temples – Volcano

Psychedelic, spell-binding, and mesmerizing, Volcano grips you from track one to the end in a positively lenitive haze. Temples incorporates some electronic inflections to keep this emollient record fresh and separate from their previous material that echoes musical manners of the 1960s. Standout tracks include “Certainty,” “I Wanna Be Your Mirror,” and “Born Into the Sunset.” Volcano will capture listeners of The Shins, Hippo Campus, and Palma Violets.

  • Spoon – Hot Thoughts

The latest release from alt-rock band Spoon is sweltering and blistering, impish and jaunty. It’s sonically rich and lyrically captivating as it transports you to moods and places you can only imagine. Groovy at times and hushed at others, Spoon’s still got it. Standout tracks include “Hot Thoughts,” “Can I Sit Next to You,” and “Do I Have to Talk You Into It.” Hot Thoughts is sure to interest fans of The War on Drugs, Beck, and Silversun Pickups.

  • A Will Away – Here Again

Riveting melodies that blur the line between pop punk and indie rock infect this album from start to finish, in a good way, of course. From boisterous percussion and eccentric guitars to fervent songwriting and catchy hooks, Here Again is a pleasing change of pace in the world of pop rock. Standout tracks include “Caroline,” “The Shakes,” “Pay Raise,” and “Well-Adjusted.” Here Again will appeal to followers of Moose Blood, Boston Manor, and Turnover.

  • Heavy Things – Goner

Goner, Heavy Things

With sentimental libretto and singalong-worthy chants that make you want to shout the words with the windows down on the highway, Goner is animated and exhilarating at times and introspective all throughout. The blend of acoustic and electric guitars makes for a delectable texture and sound. Standout tracks include “Sold,” “Badge of Honor,” and “33.” Goner is sure to satisfy followers of A Will Away, Moose Blood, and You vs. Yesterday.

  • Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms

Considered to be the saviors of modern rock, Creeper’s irresistible debut shakes you by the shoulders and doesn’t let go. From anthemic choruses to rhapsodic guitar melodies, Eternity, In Your Arms is a stellar release outlined by conviction and robustness all throughout. Standout tracks include “Hiding With Boys,” “Black Rain,” and “Suzanne.” Eternity, In Your Arms is bound to attract listeners of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Trash Boat, and Tiger Army.

  • Sorority Noise – You’re Not As _____ As You Think

You’re Not As ____ As You Think is intense, sincere, and unhinged. This is Sorority Noise’s most moving record to date and certainly a slice of pop punk emo you don’t want to sleep on. It discusses suicide, religion, loss, and self-esteem, trademarks of the heartfelt emotive genre. Standout tracks include “No Halo,” “Leave the Fan On,” and “Disappeared.” You’re Not As ____ As You Think will capture fans of The Wonder Years, Modern Baseball, and Citizen.


Honorable Mentions
  • The Shins – Heartworms

Mellow and hypnotically smooth psychedelia. Standout tracks include “Name for You,” “Mildenhall,” and “Dead Alive.” For fans of Deerhunter, Temples, and The Decemberists.

  • Stolas – Stolas

Piercing rock with an adventurous bite. Standout tracks include “Bellwether,” “Damage Division,” and “Catalyst.” For fans of A Lot Like Birds, Sianvar, and Adventurer.

  • Real Estate – In Mind

Entrancing, fluid soft indie rock. Standout tracks include “Darling,” “Stained Glass,” and “Holding Pattern.” For fans of Wild Nothing, Atlas Sound, and Ducktails.

  • Minus the Bear – VOIDS

Radiant alternative math rock. Standout tracks include “Last Kiss,” “Invisible,” and “Robotic Heart.” For fans of Bloc Party, Shiny Toy Guns, and Fang Island.

  • Knox Hamilton – The Heights

Velvety alt-rock bound to mesmerize you. Standout tracks include “Pretty Way to Fight,” “Washed Up Together,” and “Work It Out.” For fans of CRUISR, Colony House, and Bad Suns.

  • Remo Drive – Greatest Hits

Gravelly alternative punk with slick guitar melodies. Standout tracks include “Art School,” “Crash Test Rating,” and “Eat S**t.” For fans of Unturned, Yellow Ostrich, and The Noise FM.

  • Cold Climb It – Fade (EP)

Straddles the line between alt-rock and pop punk. Standout tracks include “There’s No Energy For Trying” and “Center City.” For fans of Modern Baseball, The Dangerous Summer, and With Confidence.

  • Softspoken – Pathways (EP)

Epic post-hardcore that demands your attention. Standout tracks include “Something I’m Missing” and “I Feel Fire.” For fans of Pierce the Veil, SycAmour, and Chasing Safety.


Let us know what you think of March’s releases down in the comments below!

Ed Sheeran – ÷ (Divide) 2017 (Album Review)

Ed Sheeran, the musical dynamo who stands as the mainstream poster child for the singer/songwriter “white guy with an acoustic guitar” genre, has released his third major label full-length album, ÷. Ed is acclaimed for his diversified styles, from upbeat hip-hop to syrupy sweet love ballads to campfire singalongs. His earnest lyricism and authentic intimacy is one of the many reasons to love this amiable redhead.

So what does this latest long-player have to offer?

÷ is a typical Ed Sheeran album, a mixture of those various approaches and then some. But unfortunately, ÷ plays it extremely safe, although he does tiptoe outside of his comfort zone on a few moments. This is his most noticeably commercial record to date, which thus sacrifices risk-taking and is ultimately underwhelming. After 2014’s phenomenal ×, touring the planet, and taking a year off social media, we set the bar high for Ed. We expected something more personal, something introspective and astonishing, but ÷ really does not meet those standards. It’s the same-old-same-old but yet not as stunning and gripping as his earlier material. Of course, ÷ is good; it’s not a terrible release by any means, but it certainly is disappointing in multiple categories.

First, the lyrics. At times, the libretto of this work can be profound and ardent, but most cuts either display the same tired-out romantic clichés from his prior albums or empty, dull subjects that simply don’t attest to his growth as a person since the last time we heard from him on ×. “Galway Girl” exhibits a night out at the pub, kissing an Irish girl and eating Doritos, and while this is down-to-earth and practical, is this really the height of Ed’s songwriting? Or “New Man” where Ed gives details of a stereotypical gym jock, someone we could easily picture and possibly put a name to of a similar person we know, and while this song is descriptive, is it really anything more than just scratching the surface? Or similarly, “Shape of You,” the most sexually charged yet undoubtedly catchiest song in the lineup. Or on tracks like “Happier” where Ed expresses some maturity by accepting an ex lover has moved on with someone new, but yet he ruins it all by stating at the end of the song he’ll still “be waiting here for [them].” We do manage to see some progression and communion on pieces like “Castle on the Hill” which describes Ed’s childhood and struggles of growing up and apart from old friends. The bonus track “Save Myself” is probably the most intimate, reflective tune on the album, which begs the question as to why it was merely tacked on as a bonus track. “Supermarket Flowers” is also one of the most personal and genuine songs where Ed recounts true events that occurred in his life.

EDIT: Ed Sheeran said in an interview with Zane Lowe that the reason why “Save Myself” was not included as an a-side tune was because the album had “too many slow songs.” Thus, the label requested that he swap “New Man” and “Save Myself” in the initial listing, making “New Man” a standard track and “Save Myself” a bonus track. This is understandable, and one must also consider that alongside the poignant ballads, Ed is known for his hip-hop-directed cuts, which ÷ lacked in some ways. Ed also mentioned that due to the rise of online music streaming services, bonus tracks still garner their deserved attention to an extent.

The musical assortment of this release is apparent when solely discussing the album, but compared to Ed’s past catalog, it is for the most part tale and trite. Hip-hop cuts like “New Man” and “Eraser” offer Ed’s clunky rap sequences and poor production quality. Sappy amorous ballads like “Perfect” and “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” feel disingenuous and unrealistic. (Of course, this is assuredly subjective; some fans adore his hip-hop moments and/or his mushy romantic articles, but I personally have never found them interesting.) The overt love serenades, swelling with passion, virtually come across as just an attempt to pull at your heartstrings, which seems exploitative to an extent. (And trying to mimic the success of “Thinking Out Loud.”) The only tolerable romantic nocturne is “How Would You Feel (Paean),” which is embellished by the delectable piano accompaniment.

EDIT: Ed Sheeran said in an interview with Zane Lowe that his main motivation for writing “Perfect” was to prove that he could write fabulous love songs on his own and outdo “Thinking Out Loud,” which he wrote with Amy Wadge. This bolsters my feelings of insincerity in Ed’s latest songwriting.

However, pieces like “Castle on the Hill” and “Galway Girl” do illustrate some sonic variation not typically discovered on his previous albums. (With the exception of the stellar “English Rose” from ×, which is quite overlooked if you ask me.) “Castle on the Hill” follows in the bombastic vein of a Mumford & Sons-esque stadium epic, something new for Ed. “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” find Ed exploring his near Celtic background and fondness for Ireland with an Irish band, something that truly stands out on this full-length. Bonus tracks like “Barcelona” and “Bibia Be Ye Ye” show him placing a toe outside his comfort zone with a more Latin leaning vibe, and he even roughly speaks Spanish on the former! Again, it’s a shame these tunes were attached as bonus material because it is the only minor evidence and incorporation of Ed’s travels across the globe. The impassioned love divertissements do offer some symphonic diversity with their orchestral inflections and female backing vocals, like on the soulful “Dive,” and Ed is cementing a somewhat unique sound with these timbres.

The easy accessibility and listenability of ÷ causes it to suffer in some ways. Ed’s pop sensibility seemingly dumbs down his trademark emotional contemplation and self-examination to appeal to a larger audience. The lyrics of this album plainly don’t punch the listener in the gut like his preceding projects did. He immolates auricular risk-taking over his traditional familiarity and generic acoustic timbre which has grown threadbare throughout his career. ÷ is not entirely atrocious or abominable by any degree, but it does not scrape the expectations we had set for him after his antecedent release, hiatus, and worldwide excursions. ÷ warrants a solid 6/10 for its lack of progression and variety, and I’ll personally only be revisiting a small handful of songs. (As opposed to my constant return to his full previous records!)

What are your thoughts on ÷? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Best songs: “Castle on the Hill,” “Save Myself,” “Dive,” “Supermarket Flowers,” “How Would You Feel (Paean)”
  • Worst songs: “Happier,” “New Man,” “Galway Girl,” “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here”