The Peace and the Panic – Neck Deep

Artist: Neck Deep
Album: The Peace and the Panic
Release Date: August 18th, 2017
Record Label: Hopeless Records
Review by: Devin Beaudoin

Neck Deep have come a very long way since I first heard of them while perusing through Facebook 5 years ago. They hadn’t played their first show yet, and only had 3 songs recorded at that time. Now, they have landed their first top 10 album with their 3rd full length, The Peace and the Panic.

The band went through quite a bit over the last couple of years. A slight lineup change, family members passing away, and the current political climate really show through on this record. It’s extremely relatable and it shows a much more mature side from Neck Deep that we haven’t had the opportunity to see before. The album starts out with my favourite track, “Motion Sickness”, a certified banger that’s catchy as hell, and slides right into politically charged “Happy Judgement Day.” It always brings a smile to my face when a pop punk band reaches for more topics than just relationship struggles, and that truly shows on this record.

Neck Deep explored a lot of new sounds on this record, especially “Critical Mistake” – an alt rock/pop track that could be played 100 times over on any major radio station. Although they have experienced with screaming vocals on songs before (see: “Gold Steps”), none have quite been like Sam Carter of Architects guest vocals on “Don’t Wait” – surprising, haunting, and melodic all at the same time. It fit, it was unexpected, and I was so into it.

All in all, The Peace and the Panic is a major contender for my top 3 releases of the year so far. I’m extremely proud of the work that the Welsh quintet have put into this record, and I can’t wait to see them continue on their rise to the top of the scene.


Purchase: iTunes / Physical

No Closer To Heaven – The Wonder Years

Artist Name: The Wonder Years
Album Name: No Closer To Heaven
Release Date: September 4th, 2015
Record Label: Hopeless Records
Review By: Devin Beaudoin
Purchase: iTunes / Physical / Google Play

Every time The Wonder Years release a new record, I think to myself “there is no way that they could ever top this. This is the best record this band could ever create.” I thought this with The Upsides. I thought this with Suburbia. I thought this again with The Greatest Generation. And after The Greatest Generation, I honestly thought it was true. I knew this Philadelphia sextet were evolving their sound and maturing, and I didn’t think I was going to like it. I was dead wrong.

No Closer To Heaven, the fifth studio album from TWY, the third from Hopeless Records, is a raw, honest, beautiful piece of art that has come from the blood, sweat & tears of these men who laid everything out on the table for us to experience. We hear deeper and darker issues being explored on this record, from addiction & racism, to classism & abuse. Not only do we hear the maturity in the lyrical content of the record, the majority of which is penned by vocalist Dan Campbell, but we hear it in the instrumental content of the record as well. We hear guitarists Matt Brasch and Casey Cavaliere orchestrating arrangements I didn’t know they were capable of; we hear guitarist/keyboardist Nick Steinborn input keyboards into tracks so beautifully and in just the right places. We hear drummer Mike Kennedy and bassist Josh Martin hold the record together with new rhythms and beats I would have never expected to come from a pop punk band.

The Wonder Years have always had a way of delivering an insane amount of emotion through their music, and No Closer To Heaven is no different. Extremely apparent in a few tracks more than others, (“Cardinals,” “Cigarettes & Saints,” “Stained Glass Ceilings”) this loose concept album delivers a purpose for every song, for every note, and for every lyric sung. Some songs are catchier than others, while some are more experimental. The Wonder Years truly explored their artistry and came out on top, when so many other bands fall through the cracks and into oblivion.

It’s not the end of the year yet, but No Closer To Heaven has made a very strong case for my Album of the Year, and is now one of the best albums I have ever heard as a whole. The Wonder Years have more than proved that they are an incredible force to be reckoned with, and I’m excited to see if they can top this. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is the best record The Wonder Years has ever created.

Makes Me Sick – New Found Glory

Artist: New Found Glory
Album: Makes Me Sick
Record Label: Hopeless Records
Release Date: April 28th, 2017
Review by: Devin Beaudoin
Pre-order: Physical (vinyl) / iTunes / Google Play

New Found Glory have this incredible way of consistently making music that resonates deeply with me. NFG’s latest effort, Makes Me Sick, is another one of those records. With an 80s vibe sprinkled throughout the album, the band pushes the envelope of pop punk just enough to make me go “what the fuck did I just hear?” (in the best way possible) but all while still making songs that sound familiar, that sound like home. New Found Glory are a band who have found the perfect mix of staying true to themselves, while, at the same time, experimenting with their sound.

The record kicks off with ‘Your Jokes Aren’t Funny Anymore’ , where we first hear the 80s vibe with a little bit of synth appearing in the first seconds of the song. The first time I heard this song, I was immediately able to envision myself driving around the backroads of the Midwest, where I live, windows down, and this track blaring. We move on to ‘Party On Apocalypse’ – the bands second single off of the album. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song about our impending doom written in a way that made me want to dance. Thanks, New Found Glory. ‘Call Me Anti-Social’ gives us more of the 80s vibe that reverberate throughout the album. Plus, there’s an octave change. Who doesn’t love octave changes?

The album continues with the bands first single, Happy Being Miserable. If you haven’t heard this song yet, I don’t know what rock you’re living under, but like… stop doing that and go listen to it. ‘The Sound of Two Voices’ honestly guys… hear me out on this; it sounds like a Disney song. I swear. There’s an island feel that feels like Paramore may have had a hand in writing it, (steel drums on ‘Hard Times’, anyone?). Shout out to our main man, Ian Grushka on bass, for writing an incredible bass line to go along with our island-Disney jam. ‘Blurred Vision’ 100% sounds like it should have been on the bands 2006 album, Coming Home. We have a piano line that is reminiscent of ‘Familiar Landscapes’ , and as to quote my notes from listening to this album for the first time: “YAAAAAS PIANO.”

Say It Don’t Spray It’ is the most perfect encapsulation of 20 years of New Found Glory. It perfectly shows off guitarist Chad Gilbert’s ability to write catchy, fun riffs, and not have to be supported by a second guitar. This song also does a fantastic job of replacing a second, lead guitar with something more fun, like; you guessed it, synths. ‘Barbed Wire’ continues with the 80s-synth theme. My favorite part about this track was the metaphor of “barbed wire/two strands twisted to one/razor sharp/no one will ever touch us.” ‘Short and Sweet’ is the low point of the album for me. This whole album captivated me and held my attention span, and this song did the exact opposite. It sounded like the token love song of the album. Moving on to the closing track, ‘The Cheapest Thrill’. This track opens with another exceptional bass line from Grushka, and the catchiest riff of the album from Gilbert. I’m hoping this track goes into the touring set list, and I won’t have to wait 10 years to hear it live.

All in all, New Found Glory have done it again. They’ve written an exceptional album, to add to their discography of other exceptional albums. Like I said earlier, I don’t know how they do it; but this record definitely doesn’t make me sick.