What Can We Expect on 5SOS’s New Album?

Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer is fueling up for their third full-length album, the follow-up to 2015’s stellar Sounds Good, Feels Good. (Click here to read our full review of Sounds Good, Feels Good.) The boys have been teasing the process on social media for months now, claiming to be writing from time to time, but lately, the results are starting to seem more tangible. So what can we expect on this new long-player?

5SOS have cemented themselves as an upbeat pop rock band with some darker moments as well. The monumental hit “She Looks So Perfect” undoubtedly put the four-piece on the map with its international success and summertime charm, and the heartfelt “Amnesia” proved their more emotional side. Before that worldwide fame, 5SOS originally started out uploading humble covers to YouTube, everything from Mike Posner and Ed Sheeran to All Time Low and A Day to Remember. The unit had a rock edge to them but a pop sensibility and boy band image that made them easily accessible to a large mainstream audience, capturing fans on both ends of the spectrum. Due to their mainly female fanbase and energetic, poppy songwriting, 5SOS was faced with the issue of breaking out of that boy band label. They play their own instruments, write their own songs, and their work is dominated by distorted guitars and crisp drumming, all things that set them apart from the typical boy band mold.

Their self-titled debut album was unleashed in 2014 on the cusp of the boys transitioning from their teenage years into early adulthood, so 2015’s Sounds Good, Feels Good exhibited remarkable growth and maturation in both lyrical content and musicianship, even if releasing just one year after its predecessor. However, many critics judged the band for relying too heavily on their influences, like Green Day, blink-182, and All Time Low, among others. A number of their songs have actually been co-written with their icons, like Alex Gaskarth, Deryck Whibley, Roy Stride, and the Madden brothers, and John Feldmann has produced all of their projects to date. In their entire discography of ~70 songs, only 2 have no credited input from the boys: “Amnesia” and “Girls Talk Boys.” After releasing the latter for the 2016 Ghostbusters movie, their listeners were curious to see what direction the group would be heading in for their third LP. “Girls Talk Boys” was groovy, funky, and irresistibly catchy, but it didn’t exactly sound like a 5SOS song. It was not a bad track by any means, but it certainly put the band at a crossroads for where they could carry their upcoming style. Of course, “Girls Talk Boys” could have just been a departure from their usual timbre to fit the bill of the movie soundtrack considering the Ghostbusters theme song is known for its funky groove.

Yesterday, we finally got a hint at what may be to come. Michael Clifford posted this photo on Instagram which views the band with Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub. The caption reads: “creating magic with these dudes has been an incredible experience. so grateful to them for taking us on and helping us create something amazing ❤️.” So what can we infer from this interaction? 5SOS has worked with outside writers before, but never to this caliber. Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub are the songwriters to thank for some of the biggest hits of the 2010s, like One Direction’s colossal singles “What Makes You Beautiful,” “One Thing,” “Kiss You,” and “Live While We’re Young,” Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm” and “Starships,” and also songs from massive acts like Jason Derulo, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Avicii, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ellie Goulding, Tiesto, The Vamps, and Madonna. Rami Yacoub has also worked with Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion, P!nk, *NSYNC, Enrique Iglesias, DNCE, Cher Lloyd, The Wanted, and Bon Jovi, and co-produced the landmark “… Baby One More Time” for Britney Spears. What does this mean for 5SOS?

From such an impressive catalog, Carl Falk and Rami could have just helped 5SOS write the biggest song(s) of their career for all we know. 5SOS could be moving in a more pop direction from the looks of it, but Falk claims his favorite instrument is the guitar and he tries to “always have guitar on [his] songs, almost like a trademark.” Maybe 5SOS and Falk are a match made in heaven. 5SOS will more than likely not give up their instruments any time soon, and with a guitar-savvy songwriter, this next album could have some of their best and most successful material to date. (Sounds Good, Feels Good did not warrant the mainstream attention that its antecedent received, so the record label may possibly be compensating for that by pairing the boys with Falk and Rami.) From all this information, fans can probably expect some songs similar to their debut and numerous cuts from their sophomore effort: buoyant pop rock with catchy melodies and radio-ready hooks. The boys will more than likely stick to their strings, so there’s not much to fret. (No pun intended.) We can trust 5SOS to deliver another outstanding album, possibly even their best to date. For those of us who appreciate the band’s rockier side, it may seem like the end of the world to see them working with such pop-oriented songwriters, but I’m fairly positive we won’t see them giving up their rock vantage at this point in their career, if ever. Of course, we have not seen what other songwriters have contributed to the project and the destined style the band has in mind, so much of this is quite early to call. Nonetheless, the future looks extremely bright for the Australian four-piece and we can assuredly remain optimistic and excited for this upcoming full-length, and keep in mind that this is all plainly speculation.

What are your thoughts and contemplation on the approaching release? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet at us on Twitter @AltColumnist!

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.)

Panic! at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor 2016 (Album Review)

Man, this review has been a long time coming. Panic! at the Disco’s 2016 album Death of a Bachelor will be one year old next month, so we thought we might as well get around to reviewing it before then. Panic! at the Disco has been dwindled down to solely frontman Brendon Urie, a Las Vegas native who draws influences from his city and musical legends, such as Queen and Frank Sinatra. Panic! has taken on many different personas throughout the past decade-long career, shifting styles with every new album release from pop rock to The Beatles-inspired folk pop to Vaudeville to electronica. Panic! has done it all, but now with Urie remaining as the only true member, how does Death of a Bachelor shape up?

Well, Death of a Bachelor is like a bit of everything, which sounds great but not really. Every song sounds different, which I can commend Urie for incorporating variety, but it doesn’t make for an easy listen when the style is constantly transitioning. Death of a Bachelor is more of a collection of songs, and the songs are mostly decent on their own, but it’s not a cohesive, flowing record by any means. Overall, the full-length is plainly disheveled and does not age well over time. Honestly, the more I listen to this album, the more I never want to play it again.

Panic! has never had a distinct style, so for Death of a Bachelor to sound different than all their past projects is not a surprise. But the problem is that Panic!’s previous long-players have all had a distinct style of their own, whereas Death of a Bachelor is a messy amalgam of so many contrasting types. There isn’t one clear-cut genre I can label this album with. It’s not that I’m “afraid of difference and nonconformity” or “afraid of integrating various musical fashions;” it’s more that this album is a headache to listen through due to its incoherence and discord.

Look, like I said, the songs are generally pretty alright on their own, and ideally, Urie should’ve taken one or two similar sounding songs and expanded upon their particular style to create the album instead of mingling vastly differing musical categories. Nonetheless, even most of the songs on Death of a Bachelor have problems of their own. (Not to mention the terrible marketing behind issuing the full-length. Seriously, 6 out of 11 songs were pre-released in some way, meaning only 5 songs were actually delivered on the release date.)

Of course, there’s also a lot of other problems with Death of a Bachelor, (and some good things,) so let’s just take this track by track. The album opens with “Victorious,” an upbeat, entertaining party song. The production of this piece, (and most of the album,) is done extremely well, except the guitars seem very muted. Panic! always featured stellar guitar work, but since 2013’s album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, which leaned heavily on electronic elements, the guitars have become more and more in the background with every new publication. “Victorious” is simply a feel-good party anthem, and there isn’t much to dig into in terms of lyrical content. The vocal melodies on this song are, well, annoying? Urie has always been one of the better singers in the pop rock/emo alternative scene, and now as the only remaining member of Panic!, he seems to feel inclined to show off his operatic talent even more. However, when he aims to hit pitches in the upper register, it just kinda… hurts to listen to. I will applaud him for his skill, and also his musical abilities considering he supposedly accomplished all the instrumental efforts on this album himself, but sometimes the vocal refrains can be nerve-wracking and aggravating over time.

The next tune “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time” is another party canticle, but more toned down musically in terms of flair and glamour. Again, there isn’t much to comment on with such straightforward libretto, but sorry, I am gonna rip to shreds the “Rock Lobster” sampling. You know, it seems as if Brendon has been following a little too closely in the footsteps of his musical father-figure Fall Out Boy since 2013 when the Chicago band returned from their hiatus. Well, he’s always been under their wing since signing on to Pete Wentz’s record label in 2004, but now in recent years, the affinity and relative imitation has been more prevalent than ever. Brendon turned to the same producer of Fall Out Boy’s 2013 Save Rock and Roll to operate on Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, resulting in strikingly identical sounding records, and now “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time” incorporates the famous guitar riff from The B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” similar to Fall Out Boy’s implementation of The Munsters’ theme song in their hit “Uma Thurman.” Brendon also employed Jake Sinclair to help produce Death of a Bachelor, which unsurprisingly produced Fall Out Boy’s 2015 album, American Beauty/American Psycho. He also joined on board with Crush Management, the team behind Fall Out Boy. Come on, Brendon, you could at least be a bit more original…?

Anyway, the third piece on the album is “Hallelujah,” which was the first single released back in April of 2015. Similar to “Victorious,” “Hallelujah” does not age well and becomes irritating over time. Brendon focuses too much on showing off his vocal talent, resulting in a song that barely hits the 3-minute mark because he basically left out an entire chorus. The stripped-down closing tag should have been the pinnacle of the tune as the bridge section, but since it’s just thrown on at the end, it’s borderline forgettable and doesn’t pack the punch that it had the potential to. “Hallelujah” does actually stand out as the first decent song on the album so far in terms of lyricism and features a robust horn department. While Urie does coalesce horns all throughout the album, the styles in which they are utilized are exceedingly different.

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“Emperor’s New Clothes” is the fourth track and introduces computerized components even more, from the opening synthetic melody to the distorted voice inflections. The songwriting echoes Brendon’s rise to fame and now taking over the band name entirely for himself, hinting that Death of a Bachelor is basically “the end of eras,” i.e. Panic! before becoming Brendon’s solo career. (We’ll talk more about that later.) “Emperor’s New Clothes” also displays the horn section and hey, sometimes you can actually hear the guitars! However, the vocal performance is again bothersome and gloaty. The high notes are virtually unnecessary and exasperating. As much as I want to love this track, the lyrics ultimately turn me off personally considering how conceited Brendon comes across. (We’ll also talk more about that later as well.)

Remember when Brendon described “Death of a Bachelor” as a mix of Beyoncé and Frank Sinatra? Yeah, I do too, and I was excited, but this song is disappointing. The production quality is great and all, but the problem here is literally just Brendon Urie. I can’t stand the way he sings this song, it’s so over-the-top and bombastic. The same cancer has been infecting this entire album so far: the vocal melodies are simply annoying. I really want to like these songs, but Brendon’s choral performances just make me want to turn it off and delete it from my library. How much more conceited can you be with, “When you think of me/Am I the best you’ve ever had?” I thought we left this immature egotism in A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which was slightly understandable in that time period because he wasn’t nearly 30 years old. Jesus, all I can say when I listen to “Death of a Bachelor” is, “Can you shut up?” Skip.

“Crazy = Genius” is the sixth piece on the record and is characterized by achingly simple guitar melodies but also an ear-catching horn section. This tune is the key swing article of Death of a Bachelor, which should have also been expanded upon alongside the style of “Hallelujah.” (If he had made a record based off these two songs, it might actually be prudent and listenable.) The lyricism of “Crazy = Genius” is moderately introspective when mentioning The Beach Boys’s Mike Love, Dennis, and Brian Wilson. Brian was the “genius” behind the ’60s sensation while Mike Love was against Wilson’s more innovative approaches. Yet, appropriately, Urie says he’ll “never be Dennis Wilson,” who began a solo career to continue the “beautiful, happy, spiritual music” The Beach Boys had originally created. Brendon says that “if crazy equals genius, then I’m a fucking arsonist, I’m a rocket scientist,” meaning he’s essentially insane enough to be a genius. Of course, that’s debatable considering how disarrayed this latest record is.

The seventh track is “LA Devotee,” which I surprisingly don’t have many issues with. “LA Devotee” is quite possibly the best piece on Death of a Bachelor, and even though the higher notes displayed in the chorus after the key change are a bit over Urie’s head, he peculiarly pulls them off exceptionally well. The song is an enjoyable and catchy ode to the Los Angeles city life with excellent songwriting in the lyrical department and balance of the organic instrumentation (brass section) with the electronic aspects. “LA Devotee” creates imagery of neon lights and desert skies, and this is exactly what we’ve been expecting from Death of a Bachelor. While Brendon discusses his recent marriage and “settling down” in many of the songs, this record also largely revolves around the party scene of the city, similar to “Vegas Lights” from its predecessor. “LA Devotee” stands as a testament to Urie’s descriptive lyricism and newfound spirit for having a night out on the town.

The next song, “Golden Days,” details the discovery of old Polaroids, allowing Brendon to examine the concept of time and aging. The verses of “Golden Days” are musically ominous and portentous, but the chorus is exciting and provocative, minus the vexatiously prolonged syllables of, “Golden days, golden days,” being repeated over and over. The theme of this piece is ultimately carpe diem, seizing the current moment and having fun in order to reminisce fondly on in the future. “Golden Days” is a revolt against “growing older” and is decisively one of the better tracks on the album, but it just doesn’t fit. Like I said, Death of a Bachelor is more of a collection of songs than a well-rounded record because “Golden Days,” for example, doesn’t flow with the jazzy vibe displayed earlier. Yes, it’s a decent song, but not a decent addition to the lineup so far.

“The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty” is enjoyable for its musicality with the blend of electronic ingredients and more natural apparatus, but the lyrical content is extremely confusing. Brendon, I gotta know, what the heck are you talking about? At first, I thought this song could be about how the original members of Panic! have all departed except Urie, (namely in the first verse,) but the second part of the first verse makes just about zero sense when coupled with the beginning part. Then the chorus kicks in, which doesn’t line up with either of the ideas that have been introduced so far. The second verse completes the theme highlighted in the first part of the first verse, but then the bridge does nothing else to complement it even further. I can commend “The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty” for its musical prospect, but the coherence of the actual songwriting is undetected.

The tenth song, “House of Memories,” is similar to “Golden Days” because it doesn’t fit! It’s a fabulous tune, from the earnest lyricism to the balance of instrumentation, except for Brendon’s straining vocals in the bridge. But “House of Memories” just can’t find a home on this record dominated by grandiloquence and jazz influences. “House of Memories” does begin to slow down the full-length and offers a reflective look at a conflicted writer torn between loving their current partner and finding themselves stuck on past sweethearts, painting the idea that he’s nearly afraid to get close in fear of being heartbroken yet again. This song is another one of the better tracks on Death of a Bachelor, but still certainly not Urie’s best work.

And finally, “Impossible Year” wraps up the album, but on a rather dismal note. While Urie does try to sell this track as emotional and heartfelt, it’s just a sad vocal imitation of Sinatra and incoherent lyrics. Honestly, “Impossible Year” falls flat on its face and is less than memorable. Urie’s lower octave is obviously not capable of such eloquence and simulation when he seems to lose touch with the deeper pitches. The musicality is a sudden turn that the album could have used more of to set up this abrupt transition, maybe another slower piano-based track earlier on would have helped buoyed this tune along instead of allowing it to just fall off into the pits of being forgettable and unexpected. The lyrics are more than likely outlining the withdrawing of past band members, considering the lines, “There’s no you and me/This impossible year/Only heartache and heartbreak,” are probably not illustrating Urie’s recent marriage. But his pretension undervalues the poignant candor of such lyrics by the piece simply acting as Brendon’s deficient stab at emulating Frank Sinatra.

Overall, Death of a Bachelor scores a 6/10. It’s not terrible, but it’s rudely disappointing. I did find myself coming back to a handful of these songs, but individually because they don’t jive well together, and I do tend to get some of the more enjoyable melodies stuck in my head. Brendon seems to focus too much on showing off his vocal ability rather than writing a coherent, well-rounded record. Look, Brendon, you’ll never be Frank Sinatra or Freddie Mercury. (That poor cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” gave me a disease.) If you wanna make a name for yourself, try pushing new boundaries and setting your own trends instead of ripping off other artists. *cough* Fall Out Boy. *cough*

Urie has a niche that works for him, and as much as I can respect artists stepping outside their comfort zones and trying new things, it just didn’t work on Death of a Bachelor. Brendon should plainly go solo and drop the Panic! name so his new albums can’t be compared to Panic!’s past work. I feel like I would have been somewhat more receptive or at least more understanding of it if it had been published as a solo project. It still would’ve have been a messy record, but at least I wouldn’t be able to say it’s not “a good Panic! album” because there is a standard carried with their name. It shows that Brendon is basically using the band’s name for recognition to garner more profit and publicity. For a guy who is so painfully full of himself, you would think he’d be more than happy to market his own name! My main issue with this record and Urie himself is just that: his obnoxious ego. (I mean, seriously, his Twitter bio says “35% talent, 65% water.” Like, do we really need a popular performer to rub his talent in our faces all the time?) It’s why most of the melodies on this album suffered, because Brendon was too concentrated on boasting his vocal skills than actually making something that sounds pleasant to the ears. Also, former bassist Dallon Weekes did not contribute creatively on Death of a Bachelor at all and was demoted solely to a touring member, which is essentially Brendon saying, “I want to do this record all by myself. It’s gonna be The Brendon Urie Show. I want it my way.” (No Sinatra pun intended.) So if he wanted this record to be his so badly, why didn’t he just begin a solo career with it? Sorry, Brendon, your attempt to be the “jazzy Fall Out Boy” is not a Panic! album in my book, and it’s the weakest full-length in their discography to date.

Hopefully Brendon’s and his fanbase’s inability to accept criticism (click here) won’t be lavished upon this review. I want to end this post with this: I am a huge Panic! at the Disco fan, mainly due to their first four long-players, but Death of a Bachelor really rubbed me the wrong way. I want to love this album, I really do, and I really tried, but it’s just not working for me personally. I’ll keep spinning their earlier records for as long as I can, but I just can’t bring myself to love this latest addition. I have hope that Brendon’s next project can make a comeback, however.

What do you think of Death of a Bachelor? Let us hear it in the comments below!

  • Best songs: “LA Devotee,” “House of Memories,” “Golden Days”
  • Worst songs: “Death of a Bachelor,” “Impossible Year,” “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time”

16 Overlooked Songs from 2016 You Need to Hear

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2016 wasn’t an amazingly fabulous year for alternative music, but we did get some pretty great records. (Check out our year-end lists here!) Out of those fantastic records, here’s 16 great songs from the year you might have overlooked. Please keep in mind these are not necessarily the best songs of 2016, just some you may have missed out on hearing about.

16. “Never Know” by Set It Off

While our review of Set It Off’s newest album Upside Down wasn’t so positive, we did point out a few decent deep cuts, one of those being “Never Know.” “Never Know” is decisively the least poppy piece on the album, and is painfully overlooked despite this. The pop aspects of Upside Down aren’t why it scored so low; it’s because Set It Off did nothing interesting with it, but “Never Know” proves that SIO still has some rock in them.

15. “All Downhill From Here” by The Summer Set

Stories For Monday, the latest record from pop rockers The Summer Set, earned some attention for its upbeat singles, but most songs went unnoticed. “All Downhill From Here” is a fun-loving, rosy tune that is sure to get you singing along. While the chorus is a bit repetitive, the lyrics detail growth, feeling caught between being a kid and an adult, and even touches upon the American Dream standards. “All Downhill From Here” is definitely an underrated track.

14. “Troubled Times” by Green Day

Green Day made a significant comeback with Revolution Radio and even did a fantastic performance of “Bang Bang” at the AMAs. However, the song “Troubled Times” flew under the radar. Like the majority of Revolution Radio, “Troubled Times” is a politically charged piece, rightfully calling out how exclusive love and peace is in world and warning others of repeating history.

13. “Stairs” by Joyce Manor

Cody is arguably Joyce Manor’s best record to date. It is more well-rounded and mature compared to past releases, and the song “Stairs” is somewhat evidence of that progression and development. Well, maybe not so much, considering the writer can’t even do basic tasks without the person they are addressing, and slightly selfishly desires to keep them all for themselves… “Stairs” is still a jam! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

12. “Through the Night” by Anarbor

This entire self-titled album is achingly neglected! “Though the Night” is an excellent deep cut from this record. It’s a step away from Anarbor’s earlier rock sound but certainly in the right direction. “Through the Night” blends pop and alternative into one savory amalgam; it’s smooth, suave, and polished, undoubtedly catchy and sadly overlooked. Give the whole album a spin!

11. “Home Movies” by Beach Weather

The creamy alt-pop of Beach Weather’s Chit Chat EP shines on the song “Home Movies.” A covert dash of ’80s synth pop and glimmering guitar melodies coupled with the nostalgic lyrical content creates a spectacular listen. This sentimental piece was apparently overshadowed by the other wonderful, more upbeat song “Chit Chat.” Honestly, this entire EP is marvelous!

10. “President Heartbeat” by Everything Everything

Everything Everything’s album Get to Heaven (which apparently released back in 2015 but didn’t hit the United States ’til February 2016) truly deserved a spot somewhere on our year-end list, but we unfortunately didn’t get around to hearing it until last week! I know, I know, late to the party… One of the great underrated songs on Get to Heaven is “President Heartbeat,” a critically written, sparkly guitar-driven tune sure to get stuck in your head.

9. “Sway” by Moose Blood

Blush is Moose Blood’s most popular album to date, and yet some tracks still went overlooked. “Sway” begins with a twinkly guitar melody (that kinda reminds me of this song) and swells into steady movement with emotional songwriting and vocal performance. “Sway”‘s vague lyrics and uncluttered instrumentation adds to the theme of simplicity spelled out all throughout the record.

8. “Empty Picture Frames” by Real Friends

Talk about a pop punk anthem! Next to “Mess,” “Empty Picture Frames” is one of the most spirited chants on this full-length. It’s catchy and animated and bound to get stuck in your head, yet it doesn’t sacrifice the ardent songwriting to accomplish this. This track goes hand in hand with “Basement Stairs,” another underrated track from The Home Inside My Head, when discussing honesty and concession of selfishness, buoying those ideas as themes throughout the record.

7. “Don’t Stop Making It Happen” by Grouplove

Grouplove withdraws to a sound more similar to their debut full-length and expands upon the indie rock style even more in their masterpiece Big Mess, which is far from a mess. “Don’t Stop Making It Happen” is an entertaining deep cut from the record, and attests to that indie rock affection with a catchy chorus and clanging guitars.

6. “Wondrous Heart” by Fatherson

Open Book by Fatherson is a monumental album. It’s emotional, raw, poignant, and passionate alt-rock that begs to be not only heard but also felt. “Wondrous Heart” is an astounding piece from this record and yet failed to garner the attention it deserves. The velvety instrumentation and ardent lyricism is nothing less than stellar and beautiful. “Wondrous Heart” is simply wondrous indeed.

5. “Gold Medal Ribbon” by Pierce the Veil

Misadventures by Pierce the Veil is characterized by utilizing computerized components to couple with the fierce trademark pop rock, and “Gold Medal Ribbon” embodies all those aspects. “Gold Medal Ribbon,” titled after, well, an ice cream flavor, is heartfelt and earnest but does not receive its due recognition.

4. “Knew Your Name” by Thief Club

Thief Club is the side project of Hit the Lights vocalist Nick Thompson and released an album in 2014 with “Knew Your Name” present on it. Yet another album, Just Give Up, was released this year in 2016 with the same track making an appearance. Sooo we thought we’d give it a shoutout because “Knew Your Name” is so good! It’s pop rock bliss with clever songwriting, just go listen to it.

3. “Repeat” by Young the Giant

Home of the Strange is no doubt the best Young the Giant album yet. It’s cohesive, flowing, mature, cultivated. It’s absolutely stunning and just a pleasure to listen to! Read our full review here! However, some tracks were still neglected, like “Repeat.” “Repeat” showcases the musicianship of this band and the intellectual lyricism, not to mention Sameer Gadhia’s stellar vocals.

2. “Boys Do” by LAYNE

LAYNE offered up some of their best material to date on the The Black Hills debut EP! But honestly, everything LAYNE has put out is absolutely exquisite, seriously give them a listen. “Boys Do” is a fabulous tune from the extended play, and represents everything this band is masterful at: glossy guitar melodies, catchy choruses, haunting atmosphere, and enthusiastic songwriting.

1. “Everything All At Once” by Local Natives

Sunlit Youth displays Local Natives evolving and becoming more and more dynamic with every release by incorporating electronic inflections and consolidating politically charged lyricism. “Everything All At Once” is a more personal deep cut from this golden record. It’s daydreamy and passionate, rhapsodic and exuberant.

Well, there you have it, the most overlooked songs of 2016! Keep in mind that these aren’t exactly the best songs of 2016 (even though a couple of them are) but rather just songs that flew a bit too far under the radar. Give them a spin and let us know what you think! What songs do you think are underrated?

10 Most Underrated Real Friends Songs

Real Friends, one of the most eminent acts to come from the Chicago pop punk scene, is known for their raw emotional songwriting and catchy melodies. I’m sure we can all recall a tune from these guys, maybe “Summer” or “Floorboards,” but underneath their hits are some outstanding tracks that don’t receive the credit they truly deserve. Here’s our top 10 most underrated Real Friends songs!

10. “Eastwick” from The Home Inside My Head  (2016)

“Eastwick” is a steady, mellow tune characterized by leisurely guitars and impassioned vocals from Dan Lambton. The stirring lyricism completes the arrangement, making this sentimental piece fit right in with Real Friends’s musical catalog. The Home Inside My Head is one of their most well-rounded and mature releases to date, and “Eastwick” is surely proof of that progression in both libretto and musicality.

9. “I Had a Heart” from Punk Goes Christmas  (2015)

While we think the “Punk Goes” concept can be a bit aggravating at times, Real Friends managed to put out a stellar original tune for the Punk Goes Christmas album. “I Had a Heart” is an honest depiction of a heartbroken blue Christmas, detailing a sense of feeling lost and damaged during the most wonderful time of the year. This song is lead by upbeat acoustic guitars, lively percussion, and another ardent vocal performance.

8. “Old and All Alone” from Put Yourself Back Together  (2013)

Put Yourself Back Together is more than likely Real Friends’s most popular release, but “Old and All Alone” is still a fairly underrated track. “Old and All Alone” is angry, charged, and bitter with fiery lyrics and heated guitars. The melodious chorus is catchy and memorable, and the verses are clever yet cliché, but hey, isn’t that what Real Friends is kinda known for?

7. “Basement Stairs” from The Home Inside My Head  (2016)

“Basement Stairs” is undeniably addictive. The heartfelt lyricism coupled with the vehement musicianship certainly makes this catchy tune shine. Coated in nostalgia and candor, “Basement Stairs” is a genuine pop punk piece that doesn’t receive its due recognition buried in the middle of their latest long-player. It gets stuck in your head… Like, the home inside your head.

6. “Cheap Talk and Eager Lies” (2011)

“Cheap Talk and Eager Lies” was never released on an EP or album, but it is still nonetheless a fantastic track. It is an acoustic display of strength and self-support, namely seen in the lyrics, “I’m gonna keep getting up even when you keep trying to pull me down.” The sincerity is coalesced with a cheery melody that seems to prove the self-fortitude even more, acting as if the problem didn’t affect the writer anyway.

5. “Well, I’m Sorry” from The Home Inside My Head  (2016)

Okay, so we really liked The Home Inside My Head, alright? “Well, I’m Sorry” is another fabulous deep cut from this full-length. It’s sensitive and cultivated with lyrics that are accepting of past mistakes and understanding of unchangeable circumstances. The lively drum beat carries the song along with the energetic guitar melodies. “Well, I’m Sorry” is not just another filler track; definitely give it a listen!

4. “I Think I’m Moving Forward” from Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing  (2014)

The similes of this piece create clear imagery of identifying with an advancing train, detailing feelings of “moving forward” and getting over past issues. “I Think I’m Moving Forward” is an underrated cut from 2014’s debut long-player Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing. As the title suggests, this album is defined by emotional maturation and growth, and “I Think I’m Moving Forward” is a testament to that.

3. “Empty Picture Frames” from The Home Inside My Head  (2016)

Talk about a pop punk anthem! Next to “Mess,” “Empty Picture Frames” is one of the most spirited chants on this full-length. It’s catchy and animated and bound to get stuck in your head, yet it doesn’t sacrifice the ardent songwriting to accomplish this. This track goes hand in hand with “Basement Stairs” when discussing honesty and concession of selfishness, buoying those ideas as themes throughout the record.

2. “Spread Me All Over Illinois” from Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing  (2014)

“Spread Me All Over Illinois” from the long-player Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing starts out very mellow and soothing to the ears, but picks up momentum, erupting into the classic poignancy attributed to Real Friends. The libretto of this piece is again stipulating the emotional development of the writer, but this time depicting a sense of feeling lost and stuck in the past. The guitar melody of this song is absolute earcandy for the listener. There’s no doubt “Spread Me All Over Illinois” deserves more publicity.

1. “Isolating Everything” from The Home Inside My Head  (2016)

And finally, as our number one choice, “Isolating Everything” is severely overlooked and yet clear attestation of Real Friends refining their sound and growing as musicians and songwriters on their most recent release. “Isolating Everything” opens with a downtrodden guitar refrain before convulsing into the quick-tempo diapason that is inevitably memorable. The lyricism details many different concepts, from accepting the past to clearing up personal controversies. “Isolating Everything” is distinctly one of Real Friends’s most underrated songs and begs to be more acknowledged.

Well, there you have it, the most underrated songs by Real Friends! Tweet at us or let us know in the comments below what songs you think are overlooked!