August 2017 Alt Col Picks

A lot of great albums appeared in August, so here are our favorite records of the month! (In no particular order.) Want a Spotify playlist? Click here! Also stick around for our featured singles at the end of this post!

  • Brand New – Science Fiction

Eight years since their most recent full-length release, alt-rock veteran group Brand New returns with their final effort, Science Fiction. Science Fiction is transcendental and otherworldly at times with psychedelic guitar melodies, biblical allusions, and therapeutic dream analysis tapes. The band still unleashes their ferocity through fiery breakdowns and also showcases their softer side with gentle balladry. Standout tracks include “Can’t Get It Out,” “Same Logic/Teeth,” and “451.” Science Fiction is sure to interest fans of The Early November, La Dispute, and Slow Bullet. (It’s Brand freakin’ New, do you really need a recommendation?)

  • PVRIS – All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell

PVRIS is recognized for their mesmerizing blend of piercing rock and colorful electronic music, as well as frontwoman Lynn Gunn’s soaring vocal performances. That trend is continued and expanded upon on their new album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, in which the band utilizes the synthetic production even more candidly throughout the latest LP. Standout tracks include “What’s Wrong,” “Heaven,” and “Anyone Else.” All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell will appeal to fans of She Is We, Colours, and Against the Current.

  • Neck Deep – The Peace and the Panic

Energetic percussion and gritty guitar riffs characterize Neck Deep’s newest album titled The Peace and the Panic, and it’s nothing short of a triumph. The band explores some new timbres, like early 2000s emo on “In Bloom,” and improves upon their solid pop punk proficiency with catchy hooks and memorable lyrics. Standout tracks include “Motion Sickness,” “In Bloom,” and “Where Do We Go When We Go.” The Peace and the Panic is sure to attract followers of With Confidence, WSTR, and Seaway.

  • Turnover – Good Nature

Turnover recrudesces with their trademark daydreamy tonality and spellbinding assonance on their new record Good Nature. The band comfortably dominates the floaty, gossamer sonic style they have established, and the lighter lyrical content is a step in a more buoyant direction from their previous long-player. Standout tracks include “Pure Devotion,” “Sunshine Type,” and “Butterfly Dream.” Good Nature will capture listeners of Dryjacket, Foxing, and Glass Towers.

  • Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

The intimate intricacy and roisterous abandon exhibited on Grizzly Bear’s latest release proves what this band is capable of crafting. Painted Ruins is a familiar yet fresh approach in the outfit’s catalog between its indie attitude, warm guitars, and thumping percussion. Standout tracks include “Mourning Sound,” “Three Rings,” “Aquarian,” and “Sky Took Hold.” Painted Ruins will appeal to listeners of Atlas Sound, Deerhunter, and Local Natives.

  • Wage War – Deadweight

Metalcore band Wage War unleashes their sophomore full-length detailed by thunderous guitar refrains and melodic vocal performances. Through impassioned screams, hard-hitting breakdowns, and electrifying lyrics, Deadweight is gripping and a must-listen for any metal fan. Standout tracks include “Don’t Let Me Fade Away,” “Witness,” “Gravity,” and “Indestructible.” Deadweight will capture followers of Fit for a King, Beartooth, and Oh, Sleeper.

  • The Accidentals – Odyssey

Delectable melodies and lively musicality outline The Accidentals’ latest long-player, Odyssey. This jaunty album is construed by thoughtful libretto, distinct vocal delivery, and palatable guitar playing, making for a timeless indie rock listen. Standout tracks include “Odyssey,” “Memorial Day, and “In the Morning.” Odyssey is sure to satisfy fans of Nickel Creek, Elephant Revival, and The Ragbirds.

  • Woolbright – Busybody Lazybones

Pensive and refined, (but with a granular edge), this indie alt-rock project delivers fervor and competence. Busybody Lazybones is intense and rousing through its boisterous, spirited anthems and hearty choruses, but the more relaxed moments provide this album its effectiveness and diversity. Standout tracks include “What’s It Gonna Be,” “Symbiotic Harmony,” and “19th Street.” Busybody Lazybones will appeal to listeners of Glass Towers, People Like You, and Dryjacket.

  • The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

The War on Drugs lets the music speak for itself on A Deeper Understanding. Lengthy guitar solos are strewn throughout the track listing, which is balanced with the heartfelt lyricism to create a perfect blend of instrumentation and vocals. From downtrodden ballads to rollicking, vivace tunes, A Deeper Understanding never grows monotonous. Standout tracks include “Pain,” “Up All Night,” “Knocked Down,” and “In Chains.” A Deeper Understanding is bound to attract followers of Future Islands, The National, and Spoon.

  • Forever Starts Today – Always Hope

Forever Starts Today releases an enthusiastic debut characterized by gutsy rock anthems and poignant acoustic ballads. Always Hope is an unforgettable display of musical aptitude, reverberate singalong chants, forthright guitar refrains, and upbeat percussion beats that give the album a driving sense of conation and eagerness. Standout tracks include “Optimist,” “Miracle,” “Growing Pains,” and “Alannah.” Always Hope will satisfy listeners of Deaf Havana, Tonight Alive, and The Getaway Plan.

  • Everything Everything – A Fever Dream

The pungent, charismatic intonation of Everything Everything’s latest indie rock LP is undeniably enchanting and nearly hypnotizing. The introspective and politically-minded lyrical content is veraciously coupled with the savory instrumentation and musicianship on A Fever Dream. Standout tracks include “Night of the Long Knives,” “Ivory Tower,” and “Run the Numbers.” A Fever Dream is sure to interest fans of Modest Mouse, alt-J, and Young the Giant.

  • Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

With biting distortion and raucous percussion, Villains finds a comfortable home in the Queens of the Stone Age discography. Four years since their last album, the rock band returns with energy, excitement, and a pop sensibility, evident from the production work of Mark Ronson. (“Uptown Funk.”) Standout tracks include “The Evil Has Landed,” “Head Like a Haunted House,” and “Un-Reborn Again.” Villains will appeal to followers of Grouplove, Geographer, and Foster the People.


MORE GREAT ALBUMS & EXTENDED PLAYS
  • The Districts – Popular Manipulations

Mellow indie alternative bliss. Standout tracks include “If Before I Wake,” “Ordinary Day,” and “Salt.” For fans of The Apache Relay, Dr. Dog, and Deerhunter.

  • Lilly Hiatt – Trinity Lane

Ecstatic, heartfelt Americana rock. Standout tracks include “The Night David Bowie Died,” “Trinity Lane,” and “Records.” For fans of Courtney Barnett, First Aid Kit, and Trampled By Turtles.

  • Iron & Wine – Beast Epic

Contemplative singer/songwriter goodness. Standout tracks include “Call It Dreaming,” “Thomas County Law,” and “Summer Clouds.” For fans of The Milk Carton Kids, Damien Rice, and Sufjan Stevens.

  • Rainer Maria – Rainer Maria

Vociferous rock with firm vocals. Standout tracks include “Lower Worlds,” “Suicides and Lazy Eyes, and “Blackbird.” For fans of Sleater-Kinney, Wolf Alice, and Royal Blood.

  • Like Ghosts – To Feel Like You’re Drowning  (EP)

Animated rock with impressive musicianship. Standout tracks include “Iris” and “To Feel Like You’re Drowning,” but the whole EP is stellar! For fans of Too Close to Touch, Crown the Empire, and I Prevail.

  • Offended By Everything – Never Too Late to Start Again  (EP)

Energetic, punky rock. Standout tracks include “22” and “What’s So Great About Hollywood?,” but the whole EP is great! For fans of Knuckle Puck, Cold Climb It, and Woes.

  • Sincerely, Me – Aesthetically Pleasing  (EP)

Vivacious pop punk littered with catchy hooks. Standout tracks include “Main Attraction” and “Hella,” but the whole EP is awesome! For fans of State Champs, 7 Minutes in Heaven, and With Confidence.

  • Lakeshore – 41

Vibrant rock with robust musicality. Standout tracks include “Future,” “History,” and “Pure Imagination.” For fans of Issues, I Prevail, and Starset.

  • Smallpools – The Science of Letting Go  (EP)

Effervescent indie excellence. Standout tracks include “Million Bucks” and “Passenger Side,” but the entire EP is fantastic! For fans of WATERS, Walk the Moon, and COIN.

  • Picture This – Picture This

Enlivening pop rock with ardent lyrics. Standout tracks include “Take My Hand,” “Addicted to You,” and “Never Change.” For fans of Amber Run, Kodaline, and Samestate.

  • First Time in Color – Strangers  (EP)

We published our July post before this EP was released, so we’ve included it here! Standout tracks include “Strangers” and “Spirit,” but the whole EP is outstanding! For fans of The Dangerous Summer, Finish Ticket, and The Gaslight Anthem.

  • Able Baker Fox – Visions

Unique and expressive indie rock. Standout tracks include “Purple Mountains,” “Free Flowers,” and “Drift.” For fans of The Bravery, Kaiser Chiefs, and The Shins.

  • Oh Sees – Orc

Experimental, mesmerizing indie rock. Standout tracks include “The Static God,” “Jettisoned,” and “Animated Violence.” For fans of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tame Impala, and Broken Bells.

  • Dead Leaves – Vultures

Earnest rock with a fervent bite. Standout tracks include “Sunrise,” “Death and Taxes,” and “Die Young.” For fans of Modern Baseball, Slow Bullet, and The Front Bottoms.

  • Queen Moo – Mean Well

Profound, unfeigned indie rock with interesting styles and instrumentation. Standout tracks include “What It Comes To,” “Funeral,” and “It’s Become Clear.” For fans of VARSITY, People Like You, and Into It. Over It.

  • Concealed in Clouds – Aspire. Apprise. Assemble. Arise.

Thunderous rock with impassioned songwriting. Standout tracks include “Aspire,” “Dearly Beloved (feat. Naderge),” and “Phenomena.” For fans of Too Close to Touch, Starset, and Crown the Empire.

 


Featured Singles

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

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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.)