This is the second and final post dedicated to reviewing the music I listened to in the last six months.
Meg & Dia – Something Real (2006)
If you watch the music video for their single “Monster,” you’d think they were a bit of a mix of the bands Paramore and Flyleaf. As appealing as that may sound, this is not the case. The album has a wide range of sounds, from piano-only ballads to borderline pop-punk, and yet it still feels cohesive as a whole. Dia Frampton beautifully sings her sister Meg’s lyrics that were inspired by various books that Meg had read, and you can tell that every song has a story behind it. Despite some songs being sadder and/or heavier than others, it’s ultimately a feel-good record in the same way as how even Jimmy Eat World’s saddest songs have an almost enlightening element to them. The sisters have fittingly named their debut full length album, because when you listen to it, you really think it’s just a few friends—real people—writing and performing music and doing what they love to do. 8/10. Personal favorites: “Monster,” “Roses,” “Nineteen Stars,” “Cardigan Weather.”
Paramore – Brand New Eyes (2009)
As with Jimmy Eat World’s Chase This Light, Paramore’s newest effort feels like it belongs in between two of their previous records. It has the energy that made Riot! such a fun album to listen to, and yet it shares the sensitivity of All We Know is Falling. Even so, you can definitely tell that the members have all grown up, whether it’s Hayley William’s matured lyrics, or the improved musicianship of the other band members, most notably drummer Zac Farro, who’s been given a bigger role and more artistic freedom than just providing the beat like he did on their previous record. It’s obvious that Hayley’s lyrics took much from the band members’ shaky history. After listening to the record, you’ll feel grateful that the band decided to suck it up and stay together, developing stronger bonds than ever. 8/10. Personal favorites: “Brick by Boring Brick,” “Looking Up,” “Where the Lines Overlap,” “All I Wanted.”
Say Anything – Say Anything (2009)
Oh boy. This is going to be the only negative review on here. There are a few moments where Max Bemis’ smart songwriting skills shine, but the album is plagued with repetitious and cheesy choruses. It’s a return to form for a lot of fans who liked their more poppy album …Is a Real Boy, but I am of the minority that preferred the one that came after, the diversity of their two-disc album In Defense of the Genre. Because of this, I was disappointed by their newest effort. It’s still as catchy as ever, and some moments are just pure genius, but it doesn’t live up to their previous record. I do like several songs here and there, but it’s not like the other records on this list where I could listen all the way through. 7/10. Personal favorites: “Do Better,” “Eloise,” “Crush’d,” and “Cemetery.”
Tegan and Sara – The Con (2007) and Sainthood (2009)
Tegan Quin and Sara Quin, identical twins from Canada, have a number of albums under their belts. When I first started getting into them, I tried listening once through all of their albums, liking each of them more than the one before it. When I got to The Con, I was blown away. I must’ve spent three weeks listening to a single album. Still not having grown out of The Con, I tried out Sainthood, and that, too, blew me away. The Con is the climax of the sisters progressing with every album, and then Sainthood is a step to the side, reassessing everything they’ve already accomplished, and then summing it up in one all-around brilliant album. What’s intriguing about Sainthood is, whereas on all their other albums, half of the songs would be written/sung by Tegan and the other half by Sara, on Sainthood it was much more of a collaboration, not just between the sisters, but between them and the other members of their band as well. On The Con, after a while you can kind of tell who wrote what without looking it up (Tegan’s the catchy one and Sara’s more mysterious, and Sara has the higher tone of voice). On Sainthood, it’s as if both of their styles were seamlessly merged. All in all, the sisters are really good at blending the genres indie, rock, pop, and a little bit of new wave. I love their heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics and the slightly odd way they pronounce their words. I also love how their voices work together to create some amazing harmonies. 9/10 to both albums. Personal favorites: “The Con,” “Are You Ten Years Ago,” “Nineteen,” and “Call it Off” from The Con, and “Hell,” “The Cure,” “Northshore,” “The Ocean,” and “Someday” from Sainthood.
Thrice – Beggars (2009)
As with Brand New’s Daisy, some will disagree with me when I say Beggars is Thrice’s best album to date. After experimenting with the four elements in the set of four EPs known asThe Alchemy Index, it’s like Thrice took what they learned and applied it to their last full-length, to create Beggars. I have a lot of trouble describing Thrice’s newer works, since for all of their albums they blend so many genres together to create this totally new sound. All I can think of is that they’re now complex and highly atmospheric. No other band can move me like Thrice does, and they reaffirm that fact with Beggars. A distinct feature on this album is that it has a distinct bluesy feel to it that wasn’t present on any of their previous work. It’s great to see that these guys are still experimenting with their sound and expanding again and again on the horizons of what we call music. 9/10. Personal favorites: “The Weight,” “In Exile,” “At the Last,” and “Beggars.”