Album Review: WHYDFML – badXchannels

With this piece, I wanted to move to an album review and because I haven’t written one of these in quite a while, this album review will actually be for a five-song EP that was recently released. Today, I introduce you to yet another aspect of Craig Owens’ musical career (Chiodos, D.R.U.G.S.) under his new moniker “badXchannels” with his debut EP WHYDFML (What Have You Done For Me Lately).

Owens has given his fans music spanning from post-hardcore, to acoustic, to even grindcore (see Bea5t). And with his new project he explores another genre that is familiar to a few other vocalists in the alternative scene; R&B/Soul. This genre has been attempted by vocalists Tyler Carter (Issues, ex-Woe, Is Me) and Jonny Craig (ex-Emarosa, Slaves) with fairly successful results…but this EP? I think this is the best attempt yet.

The EP opens up with the first single released titled One Car Funeral, my personal favorite on the EP. This track opens up almost with a feeling that Owens is comfortable in this new persona and he’s not afraid to let you know who he is now, through heavy bass drops accompanied with those familiar soaring choruses (with a little more edge this time), and lyrics that are unforgiving to whoever this song may be about…I definitely wouldn’t want to be the victim of these lyrics.

The EP then moves into You Know I Will, which gave me a Justin Timberlake vibe (you know, the new Justin Timberlake music that’s actually good), with Owens stealing the show early with his delicately melodic vocals over instrumentals that are leading to an impressive chorus. The whole song ebbs and flows together and feels as though every aspect of this track moves in unity in a very fluid motion.

Speaking of Tyler Carter, the charismatic frontman features on this EP on the track Complicated. The most mellow track on the EP, this track further exemplifies the many songwriting talents that Owens possesses, and once again, features a very fluid motion between the soft and slow instrumentals and the vocals of both Carter and Owens, who complement each other very well. Lyrically, we see the Owens exploring some suggestive lyrical content with this newfound persona (I wanna be the Mozart in your sheets/Conduct a symphony that makes you scream/But you should know that this will never end well). 

As much as I’m going to miss Chiodos, I honestly feel that this new musical direction is working for Owens, who claims he would like to continue this for as long as he can and maybe make a few albums with this. Owens even recently had experience working with Dr. Dre, being featured on Dre’s most recent album entitled Compton, which could have had some influence on this new direction. Keep it up, Craig…you’ve shown the world that you can do no wrong. Let’s see what you can make of this.

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badXchannels released their debut EP on Nov. 18, 2016 via Sharptone Records

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/whydfml-ep/id1166266723

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Recent Favorites: Episode II (The Post-Hardcore Edition)

One of the best things about the post-hardcore genre is how versatile bands in this area can be. Every band in this genre nowadays brings their own strengths and musical talents to their songs that never gets old. With that being said, welcome to just my second installment of some music that I recently just can’t pull myself away from and I urge you to listen to these bands if you haven’t already. Enjoy!

D.R.U.G.S. – Self-Titled

I think a majority of people in the underground alternative music scene remember when Craig Owens left Chides, which left a lot of people wondering what was next for him. This led to the formation of post-hardcore supergroup D.R.U.G.S. (Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows) featuring vocalist Craig Owens, drummer Aaron Stern (Matchbook Romance), guitarist/vocalist Nick Martin (Underminded), guitarist/vocalist Matt Good (From First To Last) and bassist Adam Russell (Story of the Year).

Coming back to this album just kind of happened when I was driving in my car one day and I realized I hadn’t listened to it in a while and I had completely forgotten how incredibly diverse and powerful this album is. One minute, Craig Owens can sing the most delicate notes and the next minute he’s screaming lyrics as if it’s the last time he ever will, making him one of the most versatile vocalists, in my opinion. Mix that with some of the best musicians in the music scene, breakdowns, and vast dynamics that keep you on your toes,  and you’ve got yourself a great example of how to do post-hardcore the right way.

Favorite Track: The Hangman

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D.R.U.G.S. released their self-titled debut album on February 22, 2011 via Decaydance Records.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/d.r.u.g.s./id413798017

Touché Amoré – Stage Four

When vocalist Jeremy Bolm lost his mother to stage four cancer over two years ago, it took a huge toll on him (as anyone could expect), which led to him channeling those mixed-up feelings into the best album that Touché Amoré has ever written and quite possibly my favorite album of the year. The album opens with Bolm unloading every complicated emotion of grief and regret with “Flowers and You” (I apologize/for the grief, when you’d refuse to eat/I didn’t know just what to say/while watching you whither away).

One of the ways I can describe this album is that it is a very emotionally draining album, which makes it very powerful. Now I know that this can sound depressing, but one of my favorite things about music is how it can leave you with a strong feeling, no matter what it may be. Mastering another spectrum of the post-hardcore genre, Touché Amoré brings the heaviest album of 2016.

Favorite Track: Palm Dreams or Displacement

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Touché Amoré released their fourth album Stage Four on Sep. 16, 2016 via Epitaph Records.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/stage-four/id1122026888

Crooks – .NEVAREHT

Another recent favorite, .NEVAREHT is the newest single released by Cheltenham, UK band Crooks. Last year, Crooks released their debut album Are We All The Same Distance Apart and it easily became one of my favorite records of the year. Crooks brought a refreshing style change to the post-hardcore genre with this album and it still holds up a year later.

With this new track, Crooks took a less heavy sound, focusing much more on the melodies with this track than I think they have before. Vocalist Josh Roger’s voice has improved a great deal since their first releases and these newer songs show the band as more cohesive than they have ever been. The band has also hinted at an EP release later this year or early next year and I can’t describe how excited I am for that. Crooks is one of the most underrated bands currently in this music scene and if you’re sleeping on them, then that’s a bad thing.

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Crooks released their track .NEVAREHT independently in October of 2016.

Bandcamp: https://crooksuk.bandcamp.com/track/nevareht

 

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside…So Pass The Aux Cord

For those who dread the season of Christmas music and having to walk through all of the department stores and hear “Jingle Bells” for the 500th time, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite non-Christmas themed albums that help me get through the winter months. So get comfortable, grab your egg nog, and without further ado, my top five favorite winter albums…

1. Title Fight – Floral Green

Now I’m not really sure why this is one of my favorite albums for the winter months, but this album is just great all on its own, probably my favorite Title Fight album of all time. But for some reason when the snow is falling, this is just a cool album to listen to, in case the cold weather increases your level of angst. For anyone who may not have listened to Title Fight before, just listen to any song on this album and you won’t regret it, as they are one of the best indie-punk bands in the business.

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/floral-green/id763862457

2. Copeland – Ixora

Another great winter album, Copeland deliver a very smooth and relaxing piece of music for anyone staying in on a winter night. Copeland mastered their sound with this album and Aaron Marsh’s vocals are as pure as ever, paired perfectly with playful piano instrumentation that matches the delicacy of snow fall. My personal favorite on the album is “Ordinary” but seriously, every song on this album is great.

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ixora/id933415538

3. La Dispute – Rooms of the House

While not all La Dispute fans liked this album as much as their older material, I think this album is their best they’ve ever done. The album shows the band taking a more mellow tone and less post-hardcore sound than in previous albums. This could be considered more of a spoken word album (at some parts), with complementing guitar patterns to match vocalist’s Jordan Dreyer’s storytelling lyrics, only to escalate into the familiar post-hardcore sound where La Dispute came from. If you’ve never had a chance to listen to this album before, be sure to listen to either “Stay Happy There” or “Woman (Reading)”.

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/rooms-of-the-house/id794675052

4. Isles & Glaciers – The Hearts Of Lonely People

Possibly one of the best supergroups in this music scene was Isles & Glaciers. Which was compiled of vocalists Craig Owens, Jonny Craig, and Vic Fuentes, bassist Matt Goodard (Chiodos), lead guitarist Nick Martin (Sleeping With Sirens, D.R.U.G.S.), guitarist Brian Southall (The Receiving End of Sirens) and drummer Mike Fuentes (Pierce The Veil). This is a very well crafted EP, with the three vocalists and every member bringing their own charisma, persona and talent, they all leave their distinctive mark on each song that is sure to make it easier to bear the winter. One of my favorite parts of this EP are the instrumental tracks, which deliver very dreary and atmospheric sound. Check out “Viola Lion” and “Cemetery Weather”.

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-hearts-of-lonely-people/id490819305

5. Being As An Ocean – How We Both Wondrously Perish

Again, this is just one of those albums that is great to listen to during the winter months. Melodic hardcore kings Being As An Ocean bring a refreshing mix of ambience and raw, heavy emotion on their second album. The sound of the album is something that just perfectly matches those gloomy and cold days, with some of the best lyrics that I’ve ever heard that are sure to help you get through those somber, winter days.

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/how-we-both-wondrously-perish/id843668065

 Honorable Mention: August Burns Red – Sleddin’ Hill

Now for anyone who enjoys starting a mosh pit in their living room with their friends while putting up the Christmas tree and getting into the Christmas spirit, then this one is for you. With tracks such as “Flurries”, “Frosty the Snowman”, and “Little Drummer Boy”, August Burns Red employ their amazing musical talent into classic Christmas songs to be heard in a way that hasn’t been done before.

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/august-burns-red-presents/id938641948

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