Long drives to the beach aren’t complete without the perfect soundtrack. Here’s five recent releases that are a great addition to everyone’s “Summer 2015” Spotify playlist.
- Everybody is Going to Heaven – Citizen
Citizen are a dark horse in the scene. Even though they’ve toured with pop punk heroes The Wonder Years and You Blew It!, Citizen standout by injecting a healthy dose of emo indie rock into their easy melodies, juxtaposing smooth instrumentals and brash vocals while creating one harmonious result. The well-thought-out genre-mixing not only makes their music more accessible – but more unique as well. Citizen’s sophomore effort, Everybody Goes to Heaven, boasts beautifully simple yet powerful art, a reflection of the band’s intriguing image. Ominous and portentous, Everybody is Going to Heaven is as refreshing as a cool glass of soda on a hot summer day, a flash of interest within a sea of unoriginal and bland music.
“Cement” kicks off the record with an unforgiving bassline, immediately captivating all auditory attention, before falling into a chorus that appears austere until it gets stuck into your head for the entire day. Farther down the record, the slow and smooth “Heavenside” flows like honey from the powerful previous track “Numb Yourself.” The beginning instrumentals in “My Favorite” feel like a splash of ice cold water, and “Weave Me (Into Yr Sin)” rightfully highlights frontman Mat Kerekes’ compelling vocals. The cool track “Yellow Love” adds depth and seals the deal on Everybody is Going to Heaven.
- Fear to Feel – Alvarez Kings
Labeled as “progressive indie pop,” Alvarez Kings are the complete package. Made up of four British lads possessing the perfect combination of Urban Outfitters style, smooth melodies, and dreamy vocals, Alvarez Kings is basically begging to be embraced by a massive audience. As if innate charm isn’t enough, the band recently signed to Sire Records, a branch of the major label Warner Brothers.
Fear to Feel dropped as Alvarez Kings began a second summer on Vans Warped Tour, a continuation of their quest for international acclaim. Characterized by chill but catchy vocals set to a background of intricate instrumentals, the EP mixes perceptive lyrics, electronica beats, and easy guitars to produce four forward-thinking indie tracks. “Tell Tale Heart,” the bright and bouncy single, is the highlight, pulling together Fear to Feel into one cohesive unit. The EP’s classiness sets the stage for mainstream indie success while its brevity leaves fans grasping for more.
- Gibraltar – False Puppet
According to my Mac’s dictionary, “Gibraltar” is “a British overseas territory near the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula” and occupies “a site of great strategic performance.” An alternate definition, “Gibraltar” is also the debut album from False Puppet, which could also been seen as a strategic move for the California-based trio. Sporting a classic alternative pop-rock sound, Gibraltar builds a sturdy foundation for the young band to now experiment with more complex efforts. A drastic step forward from their previous EP Far Out, Gibraltar promises more progression in the future. While nothing particularly exceptional stands out, the short eight song LP has potential to attract enough label attention and get the independent band signed. Also the producing debut from Stephen Gomez, bassist of radio-ready pop rock band The Summer Set, Gibraltar is a nice beach day choice.
- Communication – Nekokat
While we’re on the subject of side projects from The Summer Set, drummer Jess Bowen has teamed up with The Ready Set frontman Jordan Witzigreuter and collaborator Cameron Walker to produce Nekokat. The power pop band recently emerged on social media with their first single “Gimme a Break” and news of a debut EP. That EP, Communication, auditorily translates everything summer should feel like in four jaunty tracks. Opening with “The Reckless,” a jubilant summer anthem singing “I feel like we are ageless, devils in disguise,” Communication’s endless energy continues with “Gimme a Break,” highlighting Witzigreuter’s radio pop vocals. Reminiscent of The 1975’s Facedown EP, the title track is a short break from the excitement, simultaneously granting Nekokat the flexibility to experiment with different sounds in the future. “Don’t Be Loud” closes the satisfying EP with an undeniably catchy chorus, leaving listeners eager for what’s next.
- Heavy Love – Man Overboard
When referencing the current era of pop punk, a few key bands come to mind: The Wonder Years, Real Friends, and Man Overboard. Man Overboard have secured a spot on that list with their emo-tinged melodic pop punk attitude, pairing classic sad boys lyrics and forever catchy choruses. Their “Defend Pop Punk” motto quickly transcended from just a representation of the band’s image to a emblem of the entire scene. Since forming in 2008 out of New Jersey, Man Overboard have enjoyed consistent influence through numerous EPs and multiple albums.
Man Overboard’s latest release, Heavy Love, came at the midst of their mainstage slot on this year’s Warped Tour. An ideal continuation of traditional Man Overboard archetypes, Heavy Love begins soft with “Now That Your Home,” a song that lyrically shapes the entire album. “I’m thinking that it’s just so dumb,” the opening track admits, “to keep living like the whole world owes us something more.” The record addresses different variations of heavy love, such as difficult relationships, past breakups, and moving forward. Embracing the stereotyped pop punk image and throwing it in everyone’s skeptical faces, “The Note” reads with a coming-of-age desperation that all listeners can relate to: “‘cause I’m the lost one that will never feel whole, and I will wander the earth like a broken soul.” While Heavy Love could use some variety, maybe an acoustic track or a ballad, overall, the album’s summer-y youthful vibe is not something to discount.