Edge of Town – Middle Kids

Hailing from Sydney Australia, Middle Kids hit my headphones at the recommendation of my brother, Jarrett.

Generally our music tastes overlap, but often we find excitement in very different audio experiences.

Middle Kids is one of those bands that happily brings us together.

Lead singer Hannah Joy’s vocals ground the song’s emotional lyrics and are paired beautifully with the instrumental work of guitarist Tim Fitz and drummer Harry Day.

Joy’s vocals and the hook-laden chorus make this a song that could easily be sung in stadiums or small bar venues. The beauty is in the depth of the message and the simultaneous fun listen.

“I got all muddled up and journeyed to the edge of town

And then the road cracked open, sucked me in and I went down

We’re standing face to face with the king of the underground

Some things just don’t add up, I’m upside down I’m inside out.”

Gaining traction on NPR and Rolling Stone and currently on-tour with Cold War Kids, I don’t see this band staying under-the-radar for long.

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Singled Out – New Found Glory

I’m gonna share a little story with you. Surprising, right? *eyeroll*

When I was in middle school, I LIVED for my Walkman cd player. I took it everywhere with me – especially on car rides with my mom, who was a fervent country music fan.

I was being bullied in shop class by the biggest jock in the school (middle school jock – what a title, right?!). He harassed me daily, in front of the whole class.

I had boundless anger for it. I shook, and held back fear that I’d end up breaking his face in front of a room of my peers.

My mom saw my struggle (One of the many reasons this woman is amazing). She bought me Sticks and Stones by New Found Glory, and honestly, it changed my life.

The pop punk era of the early 2000’s produced a lot of shit. Truly. Honestly.

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ANYWAY, Sticks and Stones got me through the fuckery and utter humiliation I was experiencing.

Since then, a few of the songs have lingered on for me, “Singled Out,” being the biggest one. I actually featured it on my “Whiney-Time Sounds,” post back in 2015.

Regardless of the fact that a lot of the songs border on emo, and Jordan Pundik’s nasally vocals make them seem whiney, this album has huge significance for me. It is an album that helped me feel empowered and not so alone.

Now, as a grown-ass adult, few things hurt worse than a breakup. And the biggest secret of all? Friend breakups hurt the worst. Sticks and Stones is back in heavy rotation lately due to a shit-ton of stressors in my life, and I’m honestly happy about it.

“Singled Out,” for all its simplicity, speaks the exact words I’ve felt over and over, without marring them with adult complexity:

“What will you do when there’s no one to fall back on? I won’t be there – I’ve learned my lesson. What will you do when there’s no friends to fall back on? Because they’ve all been stepped on.

Why’d you have to go and make me say these things about you? Why’d you have to turn around – after all that we’ve been through?”

When life decides to flip you the bird, there’s no shame in picking up an album that makes you feel more empowered, and less hope/helpless. Coping’s great, isn’t it?

Audiotree Session – Charly Bliss

The cold has officially gripped Cincinnati, and man, it’s rough. My car doesn’t want to start, my body doesn’t want to function, and everything is Frozen frozen.  (No but really, I hate that movie.)

I was fighting to find motivation at the gym one night, and I told myself, “If I can make it through this circuit workout, I’ll watch/listen to Charly Bliss’ Audiotree session.

Typically, I’m not a fan of “live” anything aside from being in-person at a concert. I hate live albums and I find it painful listening to the recorded stage banter.

But this Audiotree session is different. For one, the sound quality is pretty impeccable. It’s easy to forget at certain points that it’s being live-recorded, which I think speaks to both their engineers, and the band.

This video/recording is also so damned charming. Charly Bliss doesn’t seem to have an ego, and they’ll answer any question without pause. The interviewer is also delightfully awkward at points. He does a great job at seeming both excited to talk to them, and also willing to ask a good mix of goofy and insightful questions.

Charly Bliss is often described as a “bubblegum grunge” band, and they largely remind me of the bands that took the forefront in “10 Things I Hate About You.” I feel like I’m getting another taste of one of my favorite movies.

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The band was formed in 2014, and many of its members have true musical experience and stage knowledge, Eva has a BFA in Recorded Music, and others have Musical Performance, Creative Writing, and Theatre degrees. There’s definitely something behind their catchy choruses and hooks.

So far the band has unfortunately only released EP’s (and a comic book series?!), but they’ve shown a strong effort, and those songs alone are capable of making me hang on for dear life waiting for their full release.

I’d suggest giving Charly Bliss a spin if you need motivation or just to rock out against the depressing winter backdrop.

Favorite Liar – The Wrecks

Do you ever feel so uninspired that everything that normally motivates and excites you seems…dull?

That’s why I’ve been gone. I was stressed. And somewhat downtrodden. I really stopped putting myself even as the top 10 in my priorities. Welp, I’m over that, and I’m back.

Spotify, as always, guided me to my salvation.

When I first heard this, it gleefully reminded me of some of the pop-punk I used to revel in during middle and high school.

How can you not enjoy it with the poppy beat and insulting lyrics?!

The Wrecks released their EP in April, and consider themselves indie, but I have news for them – they’re too slick for that.

Nick Schmidt looks like he could front a coffeehouse band, but his edge and charm really bring this song to its full potential.

So I suppose that the lesson in all of this is that the next time you feel sad or uninspired, do what common sense would tell you and (either seek therapy or) turn to music. I’ll stick with the latter for now. It’s clearly served me well.

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Wigwam Buddies

Do you ever have a month or week where not only your life is stressful and generally awful, but so are your friends lives?

Well, that’s been me and my friends and loved ones for the past month. Yay.

On top of all of that, three of us had summer birthdays and no money to celebrate. So we pooled our ideas (and scarce money) and decided to hit up Mammoth Caves next weekend.

Not only that, but we’re staying at a kitschy Route 66-esque hotel: Wigwam Village #2.

Back in the 1930s, Frank Redford created the Wigwam Inns, and originally, there were seven scattered across the US. Now there’s three left.

Thus, the Wigwam Buddies playlist was born.

Drawing inspiration from folksy and upbeat songs, the playlist is a mix of girl power and current alt rock. AKA: It’s perfect for a drive through Kentucky during September.

All of this also springs from my eternal obsession with fall, and the fact that I got a whiff of that autumn air recently.

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Look out world, we’re coming for the wigwam and the caves, and we’re not taking any prisoners.

Violent Shiver – Benjamin Booker

Let’s open with a fun story about me, shall we? (If you don’t want to, too bad – it’s my blog *evil laugh*)

When I was 16, I was caught in a rainstorm. Some jerk was tailing me pretty close and making me nervous. So I sped up to get away from him and ended up sliding off of the road, and into a ditch. My car rolled – it went up onto the drivers side.

And in that moment, Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” was cranked up on my radio.

Between that experience and my love of Back to the Future, Chuck Berry’s twangy guitar and duck walk hold a special place in my heart.

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So when my friend queued up Benjamin Booker, his raspy vocals and the familiar guitar licks made me perk up.

Her other music selections had me going, “That’s nice,” “That’s okay,” “That’ll do.” But when Benjamin Booker popped up, I couldn’t help but burst out, “I LIKE THIS ONE!”

She knowingly nodded and told me that I needed to buy the album. No shit!

“Violent Shiver” is the first song off of Booker’s 2014 self-titled debut album.

And what a kick-off it is! With Booker belting out lyrics while slapping his guitar, he’s the embodiment of the throwback sound that’s happening right now. But he does it right.

Unlike Leon Bridges, Booker would have still floated onto my radar if we lived in the era that his sound originated. The nice thing about Booker is that while his sound is rooted in the past, his vocals and approach are full-steam ahead and steering into 2016 and beyond. He’s not merely a throwback artist.

With a strong debut under his belt, there’s no doubt that Booker’s influence will spread from underground videogame soundtracks to being a mainstay on radio stations. Let’s hope they do him right.

2am – Bear Hands

Connecticut-based hipster rock usually isn’t something I go out of my way to hear.

But when “2am” crossed my headphones, I just kept hitting the “repeat” button.

Bear Hands originated in New York, despite their CT roots, and quickly became a buzz band in the NY music scene.

Listening to them reminds me of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, music lovers traipsing across the city to find an elusive and important band. I feel like people would do that to listen to Bear Hands.

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The reason “2am” piqued my interest was the catchiest hook I’ve heard in awhile, “Nothing good happens past 2am.”

As a music fan, and a 20-something, I can relate from personal experience. Their sentiment is spot-on. Every time I’ve drank too much, fought with friends, or made a general ass of myself, it was in the witchy hours past 1 or 2am. Lucky me. And I’m sure I’m not unique in that.

I think part of the familiarity and comfort I feel with Bear Hands music comes from lead vocalist Dylan Rau, who in my ears, sounds like Ben Davis of Cincinnati duo Bad Veins.

And with less than 600,000 YouTube views on their “2am” video, if you’re all about being on the up-and-up, it looks like you’ll still be finding this band before they’re at the zenith of their fame. Good on you.