March 2018 Alt Col Picks

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

  • Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else

The colorful, glistening indie pop rock of Fickle Friends’ You Are Someone Else is entrancing and undeniably fun. This debut full-length is characterized by ’80s-influenced guitar timbre and catchy songwriting, blending the ever-present throwback elements with fresh, modern-day production. Standout tracks include “Glue,” “Brooklyn,” “Say No More,” and “Paris.” You Are Someone Else will appeal to fans of The Aces, Paramore’s After Laughter, and Scavenger Hunt. Click here to listen.

  • Moose Blood – I Don’t Think I Can Do This Anymore

The emo-tinged pop punk/pop rock outfit Moose Blood has unleashed their third studio album titled I Don’t Think I Can Do This Anymore. I Don’t Think offers the four-piece’s trademark brand of poignant lyricism and upbeat musicality, continuing to efficiently blur the lines of emo and pop punk. Standout tracks include “Have I Told You Enough,” “It’s Too Much,” and “Pull Me From the Floor.” I Don’t Think I Can Do This Anymore is sure to satisfy followers of A Will Away, Knuckle Puck, and The Wonder Years. Click here to listen.

  • Jack White – Boarding House Reach

Jack White, formerly one half of The White Stripes, branches out on his third solo record Boarding House Reach. Boarding House Reach is experimental and vivid between its psychedelic atmosphere and artificial instrumentation. Standout tracks include “Over and Over and Over,” “Connected By Love,” “Get In the Mind Shaft,” and “Corporation.” Boarding House Reach is sure to attract listeners of The White Stripes, The Kills, and The Dead Weather. Click here to listen.

  • The Vaccines – Combat Sports

The Vaccines recrudesce on Combat Sports with their signature rock ‘n’ roll mixed with electronic elements to craft a record that is catchy, fun, and endlessly replayable. From the plucky guitar melodies of the opener to the roaring distortion of the closer, this album is sure to get stuck in your head and is well-deserving of repeated listens. Standout tracks include “Put It On a T-Shirt,” “Your Love Is My Favorite Band,” and “Nightclub.” Combat Sports will appeal to followers of The Libertines, Phoenix, and Ra Ra Riot. Click here to listen.

  • Camp Cope – How to Socialise & Make Friends

Hailing from Australia, Camp Cope melds lo-fi indie rock with heartfelt libretto and enthusiastic vocal performances on their sophomore full-length titled How to Socialise & Make Friends. The honest singing and sparse instrumentation are simultaneously personal and intimate and yet still enough to rattle concert halls and stadiums. Standout tracks include “The Opener,” “The Face of God,” and “How to Socialise & Make Friends.” How to Socialise & Make Friends will capture fans of Varsity, Waxahatchee, and Quarterbacks. Click here to listen.

  • Naked Giants – Sluff

New West Records signees Naked Giants deliver energy and excitement on their debut long-player Sluff. Sluff is defined by raucous guitar intonation and chanted choruses, animated percussion and stellar solos. It’s angsty and fiery and undoubtedly entertaining. Standout tracks include “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows),” “We’re Alone,” and “TV.” Sluff is sure to satisfy followers of Remo Drive, Daddy Issues, and Lady Legs. Click here to listen.

  • McCafferty – Yarn

After releasing a handful of EPs and singles, McCafferty finally provides their freshman full-length album titled Yarn. Intertwining hauntingly dark lyricism with granular guitar tones, Yarn spins a spellbinding listen, weaving between more buoyant occasions and slower, grimmer sentiments. Standout tracks include “Paper, Pencil, Copyright,” “Sauerkraut,” and “Westboro Sadness.” Yarn will interest listeners of Modern Baseball, The Front Bottoms, and Joyce Manor. Click here to listen.

  • Hot Mulligan – Pilot

There’s a particular rawness and vivacity captured on Hot Mulligan’s latest record Pilot that sounds original and refreshing. With aspects of pop punk, Pilot offers up shredded guitar solos and plenty of memorable hooks but also stripped-down, more experimental moments, like the oddly-named tenth track “How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?” Standout tracks include “The Soundtrack To Missing A Slam Dunk,” “All You Wanted By Michelle Branch, and “How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?” Pilot will appeal to fans of Seaway, Coldfront, and Neck Deep. Click here to listen.

  • blessthefall – Hard Feelings

blessthefall’s sixth studio LP Hard Feelings is impactful and ebullient metalcore that truly stands out from the pack. Through face-melting guitar melodies and rousing screaming, Hard Feelings discharges intensity and emotional fervor while also expanding upon electronic factors. Standout tracks include “Wishful Sinking,” “Cutthroat,” and “I’m Over Being Under(rated).” Hard Feelings is bound to attract followers of Memphis May Fire, I See Stars, and Saosin. Click here to listen.

  • Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart

The Banished Heart, the third full-length release from Oceans of Slumber, superbly advances the band’s delectable mixture of metal, progressive rock, and psychedelia. Frontwoman Cammie Gilbert displays her soulful vocal talent and emotion all throughout the record, supported by brooding, viscous instrumentals. Standout tracks include “The Decay of Disregard,” “The Banished Heart,” and the chilling cover of “Wayfaring Stranger.” The Banished Heart will attract fans of In This Moment, Epica, and Gemini Syndrome. Click here to listen.

  • Martha Ffion – Sunday Best

The rosy indie folk rock of Martha Ffion’s Sunday Best is characterized by earnest lyricism and velvety instrumentation; the hazy vocals are complemented by buttery guitar tones and effervescent percussion, making for an enticing listen perfect for an easygoing Sunday afternoon. Standout tracks include “Record Sleeves,” “We Make Do,” and “Take Your Name.” Sunday Best will interest listeners of Spinning Coin, Anna Burch, and Olden Yolk. Click here to listen.

  • Teenage Wrist – Chrome Neon Jesus

Teenage Wrist smoothly amalgamates elements of alt-rock, emo, and shoegaze on their debut long-player via Epitaph Records interestingly titled Chrome Neon Jesus. Chrome Neon Jesus calls back to the ’90s grunge era while also staying fresh and contemporary through its reverb-laden distorted guitars, synthetic drum components, and captivating vocal performances. Standout tracks include “Dweeb,” “Rollerblades,” and “Supermachine.” Chrome Neon Jesus is sure to intrigue fans of Superheaven, Secret Space, and Nirvana. Click here to listen.


MORE GREAT ALBUMS
  • Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations

I would’ve placed this higher up but it’s not exactly alternative. (I suppose one could consider it alt-pop?) Still, amazing music! Standout tracks include “Feelings,” “Curious,” “What I Need (feat. Kehlani),” and “Sleepover.” Expectations is for fans of Betty Who, Troye Sivan, and Matilda. Click here to listen.

  • The Neighbourhood – The Neighbourhood

Standout tracks include “Flowers,” “Scary Love,” and “Too Serious.” The Neighbourhood is for fans of Jaymes Young, BØRNS, and Arctic Monkeys. Click here to listen.

  • Mt. Joy – Mt. Joy

Standout tracks include “Silver Lining,” “Dirty Love,” and “Astrovan.” Mt. Joy is for fans of Mating Ritual, Yoke Lore, and Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. Click here to listen.

  • Queen of Jeans – Dig Yourself

Standout tracks include “More to Love,” “U R My Guy,” and “Clever Hands.” Dig Yourself is for fans of Varsity, Diet Cig, and Ratboys. Click here to listen.

  • Preoccupations – New Material

Standout tracks include “Disarray,” “Espionage,” and “Solace.”  New Material is for fans of Iceage, The Smiths, and Alvvays. Click here to listen.

  • Casey – Where I Go When I Am Sleeping

Standout tracks include “The Funeral,” “Needlework,” and “Bruise.” Where I Go When I Am Sleeping is for fans of Movements, Being As An Ocean, and To the Wind. Click here to listen.

  • Gulfer – Dog Bless

Standout tracks include “Florida,” “Doglife, and “Baseball.” Dog Bless is for fans of Prawn, Pet Symmetry, and American Pleasure Club. Click here to listen.

  • The Voidz – Virtue

Standout tracks include “Leave It In My Dreams,” “Pyramid of Bones,” and “ALieNNatioN.” Virtue is for fans of Temples, Oh Sees, and MGMT. Click here to listen.

  • The Black Delta Movement – Preservation

Standout tracks include “Let the Rain Come,” “Hunting Ground,” and “King Mosquito.” Preservation is for fans of LIFE, New Candys, and Desert Mountain Tribe. Click here to listen.

  • Titus Andronicus – A Productive Cough

Standout tracks include “Above the Bodega (Local Business),” “Number One (In New York),” and “(I’m) Like a Rolling Stone.” A Productive Cough is for fans of The Hold Steady, The Thermals, and Screaming Females. Click here to listen.

  • Sorority Noise – YNAAYT

A rearranged, redone, and reimagined version of Sorority Noise’s stellar 2017 record You’re Not As ____ As You Think. (I always read YNAAYT in my head as “Y’AIN’T” for some reason.) Standout tracks include “No Halo,” “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” and “Windowwww.” YNAAYT is for fans of Modern Baseball, Moose Blood, and Pinegrove. Click here to listen.

  • Punchline – LION

Standout tracks include “Friend From the Future,” “Sensory Overload,” and “Another Tale of Remember When.” LION is for fans of Bayside, The Starting Line, and The Movielife. Click here to listen.

  • Three Days Grace – Outsider

Standout tracks include “The Mountain,” “I Am an Outsider,” and “Strange Days.” Outsider is for fans of Shinedown, 3 Doors Down, and Breaking Benjamin. Click here to listen.

  • The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl

Standout tracks include “Severed,” “Everything Is Awful,” and “Once In My Life.” I’ll Be Your Girl is for fans of The Shins, The Veils, and The Mountain Goats. Click here to listen.

 


Extended Plays
  • The Wrecks – Panic Vertigo

(Sorry we didn’t include this in our February picks!) I’m not kidding when I say Panic Vertigo is one of my absolute favorite EPs of the past year or so. The Wrecks gained a lot of attention from alternative music media outlets and garnered a devoted fanbase last year after dropping only 3 tracks. This new EP is bound to leave your mouth watering for more… and have you shouting along at the top of your lungs. Standout tracks include “Revolution and “Way With Words.” Panic Vertigo is for fans of Driver Friendly, The American Scene, and Finish Ticket. Click here to listen.

  • Wavelight – Confidence Drive

Standout tracks include “Ghost Town” and “Dawn Chorus.” Confidence Drive is for fans of Varsity, Sun Culture, and Yellow Ostrich. Click here to listen.

  • Tiny Kingdoms – Realms

Standout tracks include “Cloverdale” and “Dawn.” Realms is for fans of The Starting Line, The Blonde Tongues, and Relient K. Click here to listen.

  • MILKK – Sad Girls

Standout tracks include “Less Than 3 and “Sad Girls.” Sad Girls is for fans of LANY, pineview, and The Japanese House. Click here to listen.

  • Remo Drive – Pop Music

Standout tracks include “Blue Ribbon” and “Song of the Summer.” Pop Music is for fans of Car Seat Headrest, Guide Dog, and Cheem. Click here to listen.

  • Until We Get Caught – Lost Years

Standout tracks include “The Ride and “Stranger Tides.” Lost Years is for fans of Bad Case, Send Request, and Highlives. Click here to listen.

  • Afterparty – On My Way to Hell

Standout tracks include “Luxuria” and “Hold On.” On My Way to Hell is for fans of The Story So Far, Every Avenue, and Sleep On It. Click here to listen.

  • Forever Came Calling – Retro Future

Standout tracks include “Borrowed Cars” and “Mine to Mold.” Retro Future is for fans of Like Pacific, Handguns, and Knuckle Puck. Click here to listen.

  • Tapestry – Ghost of Me

Standout tracks include “Ghost” and “Dark Shade.” Ghost of Me is for fans of Counterparts, Belle Haven, and Holding Absence. Click here to listen.

  • of Montreal – White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood

I guess this is technically an album? Standout tracks include “Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia” and “Soft Music/Juno Portraits of the Jovian Sky.” White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood is for fans of Passion Pit, MGMT, and Perfume Genius. Click here to listen.

  • My Epic – Ultraviolet

Standout tracks include “Of Wilderness” and “Voices.” Ultraviolet is for fans of Come Wind, So Long Forgotten, and From Indian Lakes. Click here to listen.

  • Hold Fast Hope – Traitors

Standout tracks include “Fade” and “Ripple.” Traitors is for fans of Thrice, Thursday, and Glassjaw. Click here to listen.

 

 


Featured Singles

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


Our Alt Col Picks are curated lists of the best albums and EPs for each month! We keep a schedule of upcoming releases and pick our favorite ones at the end of the month, giving them a spotlight here and on Twitter. To be featured in one of our lists, hit us up on our contact page or Twitter, though nothing is guaranteed. (We rarely make exceptions to include past releases, so if your album came out in June, we might be hesitant to include it in July or August, for instance.)

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All Time Low – Last Young Renegade, 2017 (Album Review)

All Time Low is regarded as one of the most  monumental pop rock/pop punk bands of the 21st century, beginning their music career in 2003 and consistently releasing records since then. Through label changes and stylistic shifts, the four-piece from Baltimore has managed to make quite the name for themselves and garner a large, devoted fanbase over the years. However, 2017’s polarizing Last Young Renegade seemed off-putting for many of their longtime listeners. So how does it really shape up? Let’s (finally) dive into the latest long-player from All Time Low.

If you’ve been keeping up with my album reviews, you know that I take quite a while to get around to covering some releases, like 5 Seconds of Summer’s Sounds Good, Feels Good or Panic! at the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor. I allow myself plenty of time to form a coherent, grounded opinion on these albums because that’s what the art deserves. And I’m really glad I waited to review Last Young Renegade.

I’ll be honest, I did NOT like this album when it came out. I considered it their weakest project to date and only appreciated about two songs. I can now firmly say that I’ve genuinely come around and gained a new perspective on this LP, and I’m finally ready to share my full opinion. (Fun drinking game: take a shot every time I say “synth.”)

Last Young Renegade is All Time Low’s seventh studio album and first release after signing to Fueled By Ramen in 2016 (2015?), which spelled trouble for many fans. Fueled By Ramen has established a reputation in recent years for polishing up their rock outfits in favor of a sleek radio-friendly pop sound. It also seemed strange for All Time Low to depart Hopeless Records which they called home for the majority of their career. (They even included Hopeless in their song lyrics. See: “So Long, Soldier” from 2012’s Don’t Panic.) However, Fueled By Ramen was probably the most predictable place for the four-piece to sign with considering the label’s roster and association with other mainstream pop rock acts, like Paramore, Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, The Academy Is…, Cobra Starship, Twenty One Pilots, and Yellowcard, just to name a few. The band claims that they felt more free to be themselves and explore new territories with Fueled By Ramen, that the label wasn’t holding them back or forcing them to sound a certain way. That’s disputable… But we’ll get more into that later.

So once the band dropped “Dirty Laundry” as the lead single for their upcoming record Last Young Renegade, it proved to be one of the most divisive tracks in their discography. Many fans began blaming Fueled By Ramen for the stylistic change and comparing the label shift to when All Time Low signed with Interscope to release Dirty Work, which is generally regarded as the “worst” album in their catalog. I personally didn’t enjoy “Dirty Laundry” at first, besides the rock-infused final chorus, because it felt like such a stark departure from their previous album.

Over a year later, I can say I feel differently. 2015’s Future Hearts put All Time Low at a crossroads: stick with this amazingly well-balanced brand of pop rock or move in a new direction. I love Future Hearts; it’s one of my favorite albums from the group and I think the sound worked extremely well for them. They captured both rock fans and pop fans while still maintaining their edginess, fun, and personality, crafting a record that is undeniably catchy, entertaining, and worth countless replays. But I knew they couldn’t stick with the same tone forever, and change makes most of us apprehensive. When any artist mixes up their trademark approach, it’s typically unwelcome at first. But we can’t expect a band that’s been around for so long to keep making the same record over and over, especially with how much the members have grown and matured over the years. People change and their art changes with them.

At first, Last Young Renegade seemed like a change for the worse — the band was devolving, taking steps backwards, heading in the wrong direction. Nine months later, I can say that Last Young Renegade is a natural progression for All Time Low, and a good one at that. This record is what The Summer Set’s Stories For Monday would have sounded like if it were darker, less optimistic, and less focused on the impending indefinite hiatus of the band. While Last Young Renegade is overall a solid project, it still has its flaws. Frontman Alex Gaskarth (picture is of guitarist Jack Barakat) routinely touted the record as a “concept album,” which, I mean, I guess…? To an extent? He claims the character on the album artwork is utilized as a way to bundle all the ideas together, but I don’t really think there’s a cohesive storyline throughout the tracks.

However, there is certainly thematic and stylistic cohesion. Last Young Renegade revolves around tales of heartbreak, nostalgia, and emotional struggles while still offering a hopeful outlook on the road ahead, and these notions are buoyed along all throughout the LP. However, I think the tracklisting could have been a bit more thought-out; “Good Times” probably should have been pushed down on the program in order to really pack that teary-eyed, bittersweet punch. It felt fairly jarring to go from a string of songs about heartache and loss to a rosy reflection on youthful triumphs and memories. Nonetheless, Last Young Renegade as a whole is equally drenched in euphoric nostalgia and emotional turmoil so there are definitely some major motifs to tie everything together. The pop rock timbre is complemented by experimental synths and atmosphere, although the production does have its fair share of pitfalls, like feeling too sterile and over-polished at times. To really examine this more in-depth, let’s jump into the full-length track-by-track.

The album opens up with the title track “Last Young Renegade.” Accomplished by sentimental reminiscence and Gaskarth’s descriptive songwriting, this tune sets up the elemental vibe for the album: glistening pop rock dazzled with synthetic melodies and moody ambience. “Last Young Renegade” is evidence of that natural progression from Future Hearts by combining smooth pop ingredients with a rock-leaning vantage. This track is probably the strongest and most enjoyable on the record, rightfully deserving of repeated listens and chanted choruses.

The second track “Drugs & Candy” offers a darker side to the new style by exploring the struggles of toxic relationships and introducing a more sinister instrumental sound. You can pick up on the slightest inflection of an acoustic guitar buried in the mix if you listen closely enough, but it quickly fades during the explosive chorus in favor of underlying electronic components and distorted guitars. However, the guitars (all throughout this record!) seem insatiably washed-out and overly pristine. It’s a bit too muted coming from the pop punk All Time Low we know and love, but again, this is showcasing the band moving in a new direction. As long as I tune out how the four-piece used to sound and go into Last Young Renegade with a clear and open mind, it’s really not that harrowing. I know what the band is capable of but I have to remind myself that they can’t keep doing the same thing over and over. That being said, “Drugs & Candy” is actually quite likable! It’s adequately catchy, and Alex’s vocals get a bit more coarse in the denouement of the piece. It’s nothing groundbreaking but still serviceable enough.

Next on the bill is “Dirty Laundry,” decisively the most controversial track of Last Young Renegade. This song has a slow build, creating a foreboding and mysterious atmosphere achieved by reverb-heavy, laundered guitars, mellow percussion, and glossy vocal effects. The instrumentation seems somewhat artificial and ersatz, and the guitars again feel painfully subdue. The bridge section kicks in, reining in a more biting guitar timbre and eventually combusting into the closing chorus which displays All Time Low recrudescing to their signature pop rock intonation. “Dirty Laundry” overall is a steady, brooding experience, but is the payoff truly worth the wait? Most fans probably would have rather had the entire song sound like the final refrain and done away with the more hazy, simulated build-up. For me personally, I don’t mind the song; the lyrics are decent and the melody isn’t too bad. It’s certainly not my favorite by any means but I still appreciate it and what the band was aiming to do.

“Good Times” is the next article on the album, outlined by computerized synth melodies and pulsing cadences in order to craft a nostalgic attitude to complement the retrospective libretto. Similar to “Drugs & Candy,” a faint acoustic guitar is pushed to the back of the mix, only receiving its time to shine for a split second in each chorus. The amplified guitar melodies are achingly simplistic as the song depends more ardently on the vocal and synthetic diapasons to lead the tune. The lyricism is defined by pictorial imagery and poignant recollection of youthful jubilation, tugging at the heartstrings of the listener. “Good Times” doesn’t exactly affect me on any deeper level, but I acknowledge that it’s an enjoyable track nonetheless. I think it could have been lowered on the tracklisting to effectively deliver its touching demeanor considering it is preceded by multiple songs detailing relationship struggles, giving the listener whiplash moving from those darker tones to a more upbeat one. The band released an “orchestral arrangement” of the tune which really isn’t anything exciting. They changed the lyrics from “middle fingers up” to “turn the music up,” which seems rather strange for All Time Low. They’ve said f**k in their songs before, and the CD booklet for Nothing Personal featured a photo of them with their middle fingers up. I’m not sure if they were trying to tone down the angst to fit the more stripped-down version (which is fairly uncharacteristic of them) or if Fueled By Ramen possibly told them to do so. However, the “orchestral arrangement” isn’t officially part of Last Young Renegade, so we won’t worry about it too much.

Next up is “Nice2KnoU,” which, despite its cringey stylized title, is a pretty great track. It’s more continuation of that natural progression sonically, and the lyrics seem to touch upon this as well, proclaiming, “We can’t go back to yesterday.” This line, of course, is up for interpretation, but in the context of All Time Low’s musical career, this may be evidence of them waving goodbye to their previous fashions. “Nice2KnoU” is construed by raucous guitars and urgent drumming, bringing back that edginess the band seemingly left behind on Future Hearts. I don’t have too many complaints about this track, though the “oh-oh” chanting in the background can grow a bit grating over time.

“Life of the Party” is next on the list, characterized by synthetic refrains and vehement walls of sound while Gaskarth discusses the hardships of losing yourself in tides of fame and the party scene. (No pun intended.) The bombastic chorus is bound to get stuck in your head, and the vocal effects layered on Gaskarth’s voice are more stylistic, not correctional. “Life of the Party” efficiently captures what the band set out to accomplish on Last Young Renegade: animated pop rock tracks that meld the best parts of electro-pop and rock along with catchy melodies and introspective lyricism. It’s anthemic and well-rounded, and while I still think the guitars could be more pronounced, I don’t detect many negative things to extract from “Life of the Party.”

The eighth number titled “Nightmares” is admittedly one of the more mediocre tunes on the record. It opens with a plucky guitar aria and lyrics painting familial issues and internal struggles, and it ultimately reminds me of “Broken Home” by 5 Seconds of Summer. Gaskarth has co-written countless songs for the boys from Australia and the similarities in their work are undeniable. “Broken Home” is easily one of 5 Seconds of Summer’s most well-written pieces, so it’s not necessarily bad to draw influences from it. However, “Broken Home” is a very emotional, personal track and “Nightmares” can feel a bit boring or disingenuous. It’s definitely one of the more toned-down songs on Last Young Renegade, but it’s still executed fairly decently. The vocal melody of the chorus is heartfelt and captivating, and the instrumentation hauntingly consummates the mood. The synths that kick in during the chorus are favorable enough, nothing too offensive or gratifying, but that’s basically how the entire song feels. “Nightmares” isn’t bad, it isn’t revolutionary, it’s just there. It’s enjoyable enough and I don’t have anything against it; it’s simply a filler track to me. And while I’m sure there is sincere emotion behind the writing, it just doesn’t move me one way or the other.

In contrast to that, “Dark Side of Your Room” accelerates the energy once again with pounding percussion and vociferous guitar strumming. The lively chorus is unbelievably anthemic and rhapsodic — you’re destined to be chanting along by the second strain. The pulsing beats and vocal harmonies are enough to keep you hooked all throughout the tune, and the lyrics detailing longing for a doomed relationship are candid and plausible. “Dark Side of Your Room” is another addition to the natural progression presented on Last Young Renegade; it feels like what you would expect All Time Low to instinctively devise after Future Hearts. It’s definitely one of my favorites on the album and I think it deserves some more attention.

Track nine introduces the sole feature on the album: Tegan and Sara on “Ground Control.” This celestial track is speckled with shimmering synths and atmospheric ambience to accompany the astronomic imagery conveyed in the lyrics. It’s a hopeful, optimistic tune, and the vocals contributed from Tegan and Sara really add something to the track. The guitars are almost unnoticeable, minus the occasional accentual measure or two in the background. “Ground Control (ft. Tegan and Sara)” is one of the most pop-centric songs on Last Young Renegade, and it’s not terrible by any means, but it just doesn’t feel like an All Time Low song. But again, to really delve into this record properly, we kinda have to throw out what the band used to sound like.

The standard edition of the album closes with “Afterglow,” a track intended to act as the “resolution” for the “last young renegade” character. The lyrics of youth and midnight adventures are facilitated by the scintillating synths and enthusiastic percussion, and the stripped-back chorus packs a nostalgic, exultant punch before kicking into the blissful artificial melody that truly defines this track. The song ends on a raw, tender tag with lyricism and rhythm that reminds me of Journey’s “Lights.” (“When the lights go down…”) It wraps the entire song altogether in a similar sense: “Afterglow” emulates the sentimental vibes of “Lights,” infatuated with the city nightlife and hopeful to return to those fond memories. It’s just that the production and instrumental apparatus has been updated for the modern zeitgeist of 2017: electronic melodies and sleek guitar work. “Afterglow” is another strong tune on Last Young Renegade and a perfect conclusion to bundle the recurring lyrical and musical themes together.

The deluxe edition of the album, however, includes two bonus tracks: “Chemistry” and “Vampire Shift.” Honestly, these two songs are some of my absolute favorites on the record and it’s a shame they were slated as bonus material. Simultaneously, I understand why they were not appointed as standard tracks; I feel like their vibes don’t exactly fit in with the rest of Last Young Renegade, and I’m at a loss of where I would coherently squeeze them in on the tracklisting. “Chemistry” follows in the established lyrical vein of nostalgia and reliving past experiences, and “Vampire Shift” commits to the obsession of late night merriment. The boisterous chorus on “Vampire Shift” is extremely catchy and entertaining, and I wish both tracks would get some more publicity.

Overall, just like any art, All Time Low’s Last Young Renegade is assuredly subjective. There isn’t a common consensus on the quality of the record considering some fans adore the full-length and others are sorely unimpressed. While it is quite underwhelming subsequently from Future Hearts, it is nonetheless a decent album. It’s All Time Low exploring uncharted domains and pushing the boundaries of what they’re capable of mastering. It’s new, it’s fresh, and yet familiar all at once. I personally enjoy the record and keep it in my general rotation, but I completely understand why others would be inclined to dispose of it without a second thought. The price of experimenting with new styles is risking the alienation of your fanbase. However, I think All Time Low pulls this new sound off surprisingly well, though the album is certainly not one of the most robust compositions in their discography. I’m giving Last Young Renegade a 7.5/10 for its innovation and ambition but also for its slight drawbacks and sporadic disappointments. Like I said, it’s a natural progression for the band, not exceptionally fascinating but still sufficiently entertaining.

Let me know what you think of Last Young Renegade down in the comments below!

  • Strongest songs: “Last Young Renegade,” “Life of the Party,” “Dark Side of Your Room,” “Nice2KnoU,” “Afterglow”
  • Weakest (not “worst”) songs: “Nightmares,” “Dirty Laundry”

February 2018 Alt Col Picks

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

  • Senses Fail – If There Is Light, It Will Find You

Senses Fail returns to release their seventh studio album If There Is Light, It Will Find You. If There Is Light straddles the lines between screamo, pop punk, post-hardcore, and traces of emo. The heartfelt lyricism concerning growth, American society, and nostalgia is bound to punch you right in the gut. Standout tracks include “New Jersey Makes, The World Takes,” “Gold Jacket, Green Jacket…,” and “If There Is Light, It Will Find You.” If There Is Light, It Will Find You is sure to satisfy followers of A Day to Remember, The Story So Far, and The Dangerous Summer. Click here to listen.

  • Don Broco – Technology

Don Broco’s slick brand of alternative pop rock has been dialed up to deliver some of their heaviest material to date. Raucous distortion and buoyant rhythms fill Technology to the brim with undeniable energy, bite, and charisma. While the track listing is admittedly a bit bloated, there is plenty to admire on this hard-hitting release. Standout tracks include “Everybody,” “Come Out to LA,” and “Stay Ignorant.” Technology will appeal to fans of Sylar, Issues, and Canterbury. Click here to listen.

  • Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending

Franz Ferdinand recrudesces on their recent record Always Ascending, offering up some smooth, fresh disco-rock. With funky grooves and danceable melodies, Always Ascending takes the band to tasteful new heights despite the departure of founding member Nick McCarthy. Standout tracks include “Always Ascending,” “Feel the Love Go,” “Lazy Boy,” and “Finally.” Always Ascending is sure to attract followers of Arcade Fire, The Voidz, and Spoon. Click here to listen.

  • MGMT – Little Dark Age

The experimental mixture of pop, funk, psychedelia, synth-pop, and jangle rock defines MGMT’s latest outing titled Little Dark Age. Little Dark Age pulls you in with its kaleidoscopic allure on the opener and holds you in a colorful trance to the last second of the closer. It’s hypnotic and increasingly interesting with every listen. Standout tracks include “Me and Michael,” “She Works Out Too Much,” and “Little Dark Age.” Little Dark Age will capture listeners of Saint Motel, The Aces, and Portugal. The Man. Click here to listen.

  • Story Untold – Waves

After changing their name and signing with Hopeless Records, Story Untold made it clear they meant business. Waves displays the band refining their pop rock sound and proving they’re here to stay between catchy hooks, anthemic choruses, and outstanding guitar work. Standout tracks include “Delete,” “California,” and “All the Same (Once a Liar, Always a Liar).” Waves is sure to interest fans of All Time Low, With Confidence, and Makeout. Click here to listen.

  • Hockey Dad – Blend Inn

The cut-loose indie garage rock of Hockey Dad’s Blend Inn is characterized by crunchy guitars, punchy percussion, and soaring melodies that are insanely delectable and undoubtedly impressive. The tracklist is packed with countless gems – every tune is rapturous. Standout tracks include “Join the Club, “I Wanna Be Everybody,” “Disappoint Me,” and “Stalker.” Blend Inn is bound to attract listeners of Surf Curse, Bad//Dreems, and Dumb Punts. Click here to listen.

  • Make Out Monday – Visions of Hollywood

Make Out Monday’s fun-loving style of pop rock is animated and enticing on their debut full-length Visions of Hollywood. Released on Valentine’s Day, Visions is outlined by songs of heartbreak and love but also lively party tunes bound to keep you dancing. Standout tracks include “Bullet For Your Sweetheart,” “Desirae,” and “Shake It Like a Polaroid.” Visions of Hollywood will capture fans of All Time Low, Mayday Parade (ALIR era), and 5 Seconds of Summer. Click here to listen.

  • Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers

Sleepwalkers is the sophomore solo record of The Gaslight Anthem’s frontman Brian Fallon. Fallon’s signature gravelly vocal timbre always adds an underlying sense of soul and earnestness to his already emotional songwriting, and that statement surely extends to his latest material on Sleepwalkers, a hearty and profound listen that is sure to hit you in “the feels.” Standout tracks include “If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven,” “Forget Me Not,” and “See You On the Other Side.” Sleepwalkers will appeal to followers of The Gaslight Anthem, Dave Hause, and The Menzingers. Click here to listen.


MORE GREAT ALBUMS
  • Superchunk – What a Time to Be Alive

Standout tracks include “What a Time to Be Alive,” “Break the Glass,” and “Reagan Youth.” What a Time to Be Alive is for fans of Archers of Loaf, Guided By Voices, and Dismemberment Plan. Click here to listen.

  • Neon Insect – Glitches

Standout tracks include “Thoughtcrimes,” “IDC,” and “To the Moon and Back (feat. Twill Distilled).” Glitches is for fans of Hemmingway, DNPQ, and Newenx. Click here to listen.

  • Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows

Standout tracks include “We Fight,” “Heart Beat Here,” “Open My Eyes (feat. Lindsey Stirling),” and “Catch You.” Crooked Shadows is for fans of The Spill Canvas, Taking Back Sunday, and Straylight Run. Click here to listen.

  • Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)

Standout tracks include “My Boy (Twin Fantasy),” “Nervous Young Inhumans,” and “Cute Thing.” Twin Fantasy (Face to Face) is for fans of Chastity Belt, Parquet Courts, and Waxahatchee. Click here to listen.

  • AWOLNATION – Here Come the Runts

Standout tracks include “Seven Sticks of Dynamite,” “Handyman,” and “Passion.” Here Come the Runts is for fans of New Politics, Atlas Genius, and Grouplove. Click here to listen.

  • Anna Burch – Quit the Curse

Standout tracks include “2 Cool 2 Care,” “Tea-Soaked Letter,” and “In Your Dreams.” Quit the Curse is for fans of Dream Wife, Alvvays, and Phoebe Bridgers. Click here to listen.

  • The Plot In You – Dispose

Standout tracks include “Feel Nothing,” “Not Just Breathing,” and “Disposable Fix.” Dispose is for fans of Like Moths to Flames, The Color Morale, and Secrets. Click here to listen.

  • The Wombats – Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life

Standout tracks include “Turn,” “I Don’t Know Why I Like You But I Do, and “Lemon to a Knife Fight.” Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is for fans of The Vaccines, The Pigeon Detectives, and The Kooks. Click here to listen.

  • Ought – Room Inside the World

Standout tracks include “Disgraced in America,” “Desire,” and “These 3 Things.” Room Inside the World is for fans of Parquet Courts, Preoccupations, and Iceage. Click here to listen.

  • Pop Evil – Pop Evil

Standout tracks include “Waking Lions,” “A Crime to Remember,” and “Be Legendary.” Pop Evil is for fans of Saving Abel, Royal Bliss, and Art of Dying. Click here to listen.

  • I’m With Her – See You Around

Standout tracks include “Game to Lose,” “See You Around,” and “Ain’t That Fine.” See You Around is for fans of The Stray Birds, Sara Jarosz, and Nickel Creek. Click here to listen.

  • Slaves – Beautiful Death

Standout tracks include “True Colors,” “The Pact,” and “Deadly Conversations.” Beautiful Death is for fans of Issues, Picturesque, and Too Close to Touch. Click here to listen.

  • We Were Sharks – Lost Touch

Standout tracks include “Beyond Repair,” “Ashley,” and “Stay.” Lost Touch is for fans of Forever Came Calling, Carousel Kings, and Seaway. Click here to listen.

  • Caroline Rose – Loner

Standout tracks include “Money,” “More of the Same,” and “Soul No. 5.” Loner is for fans of TORRES, Anna Burch, and Big Thief. Click here to listen.

  • Screaming Females – All At Once

Standout tracks include “Glass House,” “Black Moon,” and “I’ll Make You Sorry.”  All At Once is for fans of Sleater-Kinney, Superchunk, and Jeff Rosenstock. Click here to listen.

  • American Pleasure Club – A Whole F**king Lifetime of This

Standout tracks include “this is heaven & id die for it,” “new years eve,” and “all the lonely nights in your life.” A Whole F**king Lifetime of This is for fans of Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else, salvia palth, and Elvis Depressedly. Click here to listen.

 


Extended Plays
  • Off Road Minivan – Spiral Gaze

Standout tracks include “Spiral Gaze and “Glow.” Spiral Gaze is for fans of Household, Hearts Like Lions, and LOYALS. Click here to listen.

  • The Oh Hellos – Eurus

Standout tracks include “Eurus” and “O Sleeper.” Eurus is for fans of Twin Forks, Drew Holcomb, and Great Lake Swimmers. Click here to listen.

  • Familiar Things – Fade Into the Scenery

Standout tracks include “October and “Meant A Lot.” Fade Into the Scenery is for fans of Chase This City, All Year Round, and Seasonal. Click here to listen.

  • Ride – Tomorrow’s Shore

Standout tracks include “Catch You Dreaming and “Pulsar.” Tomorrow’s Shore is for fans of Slowdive, Chapterhouse, and Teenage Fanclub. Click here to listen.

  • Facing Fire – Facing Fire

Standout tracks include “Dying Inside” and “Overcome.” Facing Fire is for fans of Stone Broken, DED, and Sons of Texas. Click here to listen.

  • The Anchor – Make It Last

Standout tracks include “September” and “Make It Last.” Make It Last is for fans of Light the Fire, If I Were You, and Monument of A Memory. Click here to listen.


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