Review: The Color Morale – My Devil In Your Eyes

The Color Morale – My Devil In Your Eyes

Released: March 8, 2011

Label: Rise Records

Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

When we think of the more prominent names in the metalcore scene, we think of bands like UnderoathAs I Lay Dying, and The Devil Wears Prada. Five-piece metalcore/post-hardcore group from Rockford, Illinois, The Color Morale, is definitely a name that does not comes to mind. As a part of the infamous Rise Records roster, The Color Morale has struggled to make a name for themselves and stick out amongst the plethora of similar band emerging, even with their debut record We All Have Demons displaying a step in the right direction for the band. With their second Rise release titled My Devil In Your Eyes, The Color Morale takes this established sound, and push it a little bit further.

As the low growls of Garret Rapp in opener “Nerve Endings” commences the album, Devil starts off on a rather dull note as the hectic screaming along with much unfavored chugging guitars plainly crawl along, and then transitioning into a rather predictable melodic song section. Devil stays true to this trend throughout the first frew tracks. Flat chugging accompanoied by monotonous screams and sudden shifts to melodic singing and guitar-work. “Human(s)being” resembles an awkward Bullet For My Valentine knock-off while the common structure and overall derivative sound of “Be Longing Always,” makes for a rather tedious listen. It is not until track five that the album starts to pick up, and The Color Morale sport their true colors.

“Walkers” sets the pace for the rest of the album as the interesting guitar lines of Ramon Mendoza and John Bross entice the listener, and the charismatic vocal delivery of Rapp keeps the attention of more casual listeners. “Demon Teeth” unleashes a raw intensity and delivers a certain heaviness that The Color Morale are able of accomplishing while “This Lost Song is Yours” showcases well-developed melodies accompanied by a strong singing performance by Rapp. A strong mixture of intensity and resonance makes for a variety of enjoyable songs that makes up the latter half of this album, leading up to the soft, slow closer. “fill;avoid” ceases the album in a rather strange fashion as Rapp repeats the line “You made me from dust, and not dirt” over and over (and over and over and over) again. As calm programming backs the soft vocals all the way to the end, “fill;avoid,” I believe, is aptly named as it adds nothing but filler, killing the mood of what was a momentous album.

In the end, The Color Morale still offers nothing new to the scene. But what they do accomplish is taking a sound that has been done to death numerous times, and altering it into something can not only be enjoyed, but appreciated. Something that you can’t honestly say for most of The Color Morale’s labelmates.


Standout Track: “Walkers”

Review: Valencia – Dancing With a Ghost

Valencia – Dancing With a Ghost

Released: October 12, 2010
Label: I Surrender Records
Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

Every night, as we are about to lazily drift off to a wonderful place known as sleep, most of us go into a deep state of thinking. Whether it be about what we’re going to do the next day, a contemplation of life, or just why our room smells so bad, we all think about something leading up to that glorious state of unconsciousness. These things may or may not affect the way that we dream. Dreams can be anything from happy, to dark, to just bizarre (or all of the above!) and as we listen through the third album by the five-piece alternative/pop-punk group, Valencia, titled Dancing With a Ghost, it can somewhat be comparative to the different stages and/or types of dreaming.

As the album opens with the light, poppy guitars and sing-along vocals leading into the first few tracks, we are submerged in a blissful state of a fun and happy dreaming (“Dancing With a Ghost” and “Still Need You Around”). As frontman Shane Henderson sings along to the spirited guitar riffs of Brendan Walter, JD Perry, and George Ciukurescu and the delicate drums of Daniel Pawlovich, Henderson remits an uplifting message. We, as the listeners, will find ourselves floating along jubilantly through the sunny dream world, not a care in the world.

But as we are all familiar with, dreams aren’t always such a playful environment and constantly change as we sleep so soundly in our beds. As Dancing goes on, our sunny dream world slowly shifts to a bit more serious atmosphere as we slowly realize that everything is not as happy as we originally had thought (“Consider Me Dead” and “Losing Sleep”). The scenery changes to a still pleasant, but slightly bizarre world. As Henderson exclaims “Give me the chance to speak my mind/My opinions are the social kind/If it’s you for you and I for I/Then one of us will leave here blind/You know I won’t give up without a fight/Even if I’m the one who’s wrong and you’re who’s right” leading the way accompanied by spacey guitars, troubles begin to surmount in the dream, setting the stage for an unwanted antagonist to arrive.

Then, suddenly, the effervescent world is crudely interrupted entirely by the deeper problems hidden in our subconscious and the dream becomes a dark, perplexing place; the previously whimsical feeling is almost entirely gone, replaced with a worried uncertainty as the music becomes increasingly frantic in our minds (“Friday Night”). Storms sweep in in the form of sadistic guitar tones and dark lyrics (“When desperate we collide and disappear in fear/We’ve been living in a dream/Selfishly, I try to blur the lines that hide that I/I guess I fucked up/I guess I was wrong”), and pounding drums coupled with the thunder of the guitars begin to interfere with the previously bright sunlight that was shining so beautifully and as suddenly as the storms had appeared, they subside.

We are now left feeling lost, and somewhat alone (“Somewhere I Belong”). The words “My life has always been a dead end street/with heavy eyes that shoot through me/I slipped somewhere in between what’s right and wrong” ring through the light gray clouds backed by an arrangement of strings, and we start to question what just happened, why it happened, and if things will go back to the way they were before. But at this point, we can’t even remember what was so happy about the dream in the first place. Perplexity sets in once again, and we begin to question whether our dream is reality or in fact a dream. The pace of the music begins to increase and this state of confusion leaves us in a very odd, yet somehow pleasing mood as delightful guitar-work reveals a certain hope as they back the worried lyrics (“Days Go By” and “The Way”).

Abruptly the dream changes once again. Making a quick transition from spaciness and confusion, to a more familiar pop-punk driven urgency, we finally realize what we have to do to get back to the once-happy world that is slowly fading from our memories (“Stop Searching”). As we come to a certain light, the dream starts collapsing around us as we begin to finally awaken. We know what we want, but everything is becoming so blurred around us, and as our happy place is nearly in reach once again, the dream ends. We are awake with nothing but a vague memory of a long journey of happiness, struggle, and emotion that we long to see again. Luckily, in the case of Dancing With a Ghost, we can revisit this dream whenever we please, and admire its brilliance and intricacy with the same enjoyment each and every time.


Standout Tracks: “The Way,” “Friday Night,” “Losing Sleep”

Interview: A Lifelike Story

Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with up-and-coming Jersey based pop/rock band A Lifelike Story. We talked about their recent signing to JMD Records, their debut EP Never Have I Ever, and their future plans.

LitS: First off, for the people who haven’t heard of your band before, tell us a brief history of A Lifelike Story.

A Lifelike Story: We are a three piece pop/rock band from central New Jersey consisting of Bryan Welsh (Vocals/Guitar), Garrett Hoffman (Bass/Vocals) and Chris Mueller (Drums). After going to the same high school and being in other projects, we got together and started writing and performing in the fall of 2009.

LitS: This past November you released your debut EP titled Never Have I Ever. So far, how has this EP been received by the public?

ALLS: The EP has already received a lot of positive attention from the public as well as representatives within the industry. We’ve been overwhelmed with the feedback that has been associated with the release.

LitS: Explain to us what A Lifelike Story’s writing process is like.

ALLS: Usually one of us will bring a basic idea to the group and then we will expand on it together. As far as the music goes, the process is a collective effort; the three of us bring our own different elements to the songs. Bryan writes a lot of the lyrics and melodies, while Chris and Garrett help to bring a lot of musical aspects to the music. Continue reading

Single: Yellowcard – “For You, and Your Denial”

Track: “For You, and Your Denial”
Artist: Yellowcard
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Label: Hopeless Records

After a 2 year hiatus from music, pop-punk/alternative band Yellowcard announced late last year that they have been working on a new album, which will be their first album released since 2007’s Paper Walls. A certain amount of excitement and hype has surrounded Yellowcard’s latest release, and last month they gave us a taste of what to expect with their single “For You, and Your Denial.” Taking us back to the early 2000’s, “For You, and Your Denial” reminds every Yellowcard fan out there what got them into the band in the first place. Opening with a classic fiddle intro, Yellowcard shows that they haven’t missed a beat as they deliver their trademark pop-punk sound in glorious fashion, taking us all back to a lighter days of jamming Ocean Avenue all summer long. Vocalist, Ryan Key’s vocals are on par with everything Yellowcard has released and the guitar hooks of Key and lead guitarist, Ryan Mendez are as infectious as ever. Drummer, Longineu W. Parsons III also unleashes an impressive performance, rounding out the track and leaving the listener smiling as this release marks Yellowcard’s imminent return to power.

“For You, and Your Denial” is from When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, out March 22, 2011 via Hopeless Records.

Listen: Via Yellowcard’s Myspace

Rating: 8.5/10

Review: Man Overboard – Real Talk

Man Overboard – Real Talk

Released: July 20, 2010
Label: Run For Cover Records
Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to think about four-piece, pop-punk outfit Man Overboard when I first heard their debut full-length album titled Real Talk. I don’t know if it was the discreet use of auto-tune or the incredibly “cutsie” lyrics that nearly every song is contrived behind. But whatever reason forced me to set this album aside for months on end was a silly mistake, as recently I’ve given this legitimately fun pop-punk album the rotations it deserves.

Opening is the title track of Real Talk, which is the one song that lasted with me before I gave the rest of the record a chance. Beginning an album with a huge bang, “Real Talk” hits hard, showcasing the dual vocals of Nik Bruzzese and Zac Eiesenstein in a glorious, truly raw style that left me, as a huge pop-punk fan, salivating to see what came next. Upon first listen I was very disappointed when I heard the rest of the album after my ears witnessed such a stellar opener, but months after my first spin, I’m glad I gave this album one last chance. The addicting drums of then-drummer Justin Collier on “Fantasy Girl” and the huge sing-along outro to “Parting Gift” had left me itching my head in amazement. How I ever shelved this gem of a pop-punk album is beyond me, but once again, I was floored that I decided to give Real Talk a second chance, and I hadn’t even gotten to the meat of the record that is the latter half. “Al Sharpton” and “I Like You” show that Man Overboard know how to incorporate a catchy guitar line with an even catchier chorus, while acoustic driven “Sidekick” and the meaningful lyrics of “Septemberism” add a certain amount of depth to the previously somewhat one-dimensional album.

Though, this album has many major jams, it also falls victim to a common trend of what up-and-coming bands tend to offer with debut albums. The whiney vocals, accompanied by far too sugary sweet lyrics on “FM Dial Style” comes off as if Christofer Drew of NeverShoutNever had guest-written it, and re-released track, “Montrose” offers next to nothing. I would be undeniably satisified if one of these two tracks were scrapped during pre-production, leaving a perfect 11-track pop-punk summer rocker, but unfortunately, I can’t control the track listing.

Man Overboard has proven that they are very capable of contributing quality music to the recently rejuvenated pop-punk scene with this near stellar debut. And with their recent surprise signing to Rise Records, I expect nothing but huge things in the future for this group of young guys from South Jersey, which includes succeeding in their obvious goal to “defend pop-punk.”


Standout Tracks: “Septemberism,” “Al Sharpton,” “Real Talk”