As the cool breeze is beginning to make its way back to West Chester, new music seems to have flown in with it. After a dreary summer drought, we have been bombarded with a rush of new albums from alternative bands which, on top of the excitement of being back at University, made for a bit of an unfocused September. With the passing of the month, I’ve had some time to absorb most of the recent music that came out of the industry, and what follows are some of my personal favorite new tunes.
On August 29, Maroon 5 released their fifth album, fittingly named V. Having never been a fan of what is considered “mainstream pop,” I took a surprising liking to the group’s recent single “Animals” and listened to the rest of the album. While Maroon 5 have stayed true to a more mainstream sound, I can honestly say that I really enjoy their latest release. Adam Levine’s vocals range greatly through the tracks but stay true to his signature higher register. The band uses a surprising amount of real instrumentals including guitars, piano, bass, and drums to varying degrees, while keeping a firm grounding in digital effects. Maybe my tastes are changing, but I don’t see a reason for the mainstream audience to dislike Maroon 5’s latest offering any more than I do. V is a solid batch of songs that will be on the radio and stuck in our heads for months to come.
Pop fans were given another offering last month with Canadian solo artist LIGHTS’ new album, Little Machines. LIGHTS, who just had her first child last February, is expanding her musical horizons with this new experimental release. Songs like “Up We Go” are clearly made with radio play in mind, but it’s tracks like the 80s inspired synth pop, “Running With The Boys” that stand out on the record. LIGHTS also forays into the atmospheric with the album’s opening track, “Portal.” Overall, Little Machines will cater to those looking for party singles, as well as provide a complete album experience for the serious listener.
Transitioning from pop, the rock scene has received a great fall reawakening. With news of Breaking Benjamin’s reunion with an all new lineup topping my list of awesome news, we also have been exposed to new Slipknot singles, “The Negative One” and “The Devil In I.” As for new rock albums, the sub-genre spectrum covers bands from the heavy hitting metalcore outfit Texas In July to post-hardcore veterans Emarosa.
With bands like Motionless In White, Affiance, and Texas In July all releasing albums within the same month, metalcore fans are sure to find something to sink their teeth into. Personally, I think Texas In July’s new album Bloodwork, featuring new vocalist and former fan J.T. Cavey, is the best metal offering of the month. Having never been a big fan of Texas In July, Bloodwork caught my attention with the release of its first single, “Broken Soul.” J.T. Cavey’s vocals add a whole new level of depth to the band’s sound, and their songwriting has become catchier and more memorable as a whole. For those of you looking for some new workout tunes, look no further than Bloodwork.
Shifting to the heavier side of the genre, fans of death metal should check out local legend Burn The Empire’s new album, Dethrone. Fans of politically-charged lyrics, quality screams, and groovy bass drops are sure to enjoy Burn The Empire’s latest offering. The band’s lineup includes three current WCU students, so do yourself a favor and show the local scene some love. Dethrone is available for free on Bandcamp.
Moving into the alt-rock sphere, veterans Emarosa released their third album Versus, featuring new vocalist Bradley Scott Walden. While those who know Emarosa will certainly remember their days with frontman Johnny Craig, it is exciting to see the band move into a new direction with Bradley. Versus is my personal favorite Emarosa release to date, and while the album still experiments with how to pinpoint their new sound, the offerings are exceptional.
Soulful vocal emotion reminiscent of the great Michael Jackson swoons on tracks like “Say Hello to the Bad Guy,” and gives way to louder, more alt-rock tracks such as the single “Mad.” Bradley is a swell guy who made a great impression on me upon meeting him last April at a show, and his live performance is nothing to scoff at. Long time fans seem to agree with me, and Versus looks like the beginning of a rich new chapter for Emarosa.
After only a year since the release of their sophomore album Unimagine, Hands Like Houses have released a new EP with a collection of reworked tracks entitled Reimagine. Having been a fan of the band since the announcement of their signing with Rise records in 2012, it’s obvious that they have clearly honed their musical talents with time. reimagine is an outstanding set of tracks that waver in the acoustic realm, and offer a new look at songs that have been with me for the last year. Favorites from the EP include “release” and “reflect,” new takes on the songs “A Tale of Outer Suburbia” and “Developments.” While I’m anticipating the next full length from these guys, this EP is more than enough to hold me over and should be required listening for those who like ambient, alternative rock, or just quality music in general.
Well that just about sums it up for September releases. As I said, it’s been a crazy month, but in its wake we have been left with a collage of new sounds to carry us through the season. With more to look forward to in the coming months, 2014 is finally shaping up to be a great year for music.
Mike Naples is a second-year student majoring in marketing. He can be reached at email@example.com.