By Cole Parkinson
With summer heat in full force, a ton of great new music has dropped to get things going. And with second vaccinations available in Alberta, it’s sure looking like summer will bring a return to normalcy. The good news is there’s plenty of new music to get summer kicked into gear, so here’s a handful of new releases that you should give a listen to.
Rise Against — Nowhere Generation (Album)
I have to be honest — after hearing the title track, I was a little nervous for the newest album from Chicago punk rock outfit Rise Against. Nothing about the song “Nowhere Generation” made me feel excited about a new album — it’s pretty cookie-cutter and sounds like a song that was made for the radio. The good news is it’s the worst song on the record by a fairly large margin.
In fact, I would say this is my favourite Rise record since 2006’s The Sufferer & the Witness.
While I doubt this album would make you a Rise Against fan if you didn’t like any of the band’s other material, if you were a fan but dipped out over the past few records, give this one a chance. It still sounds like the same band you know, but to me, there’s more urgency with Nowhere Generation. The last few records, in particular, I felt were a little lacklustre. Sure, there are some great songs, but I couldn’t tell you they were great records from start to finish.
“The Numbers” kicks this one-off and it’s a great opening track featuring plenty of great sing-a-long moments and some great verses. “Sudden Urge” is another standout from Nowhere Generation. I can’t wait to see this one live because the intro riff will be a lot of fun to jump around to in the pit.
The second half of the record is much stronger than the first in my opinion.
“Forfeit” sees another acoustic song from the band, but this one feels much different than any of the others. It features Tim McIlrath fingerpicking, which hasn’t happened on any of their other songs, and the entire vibe of the song is much different. The verses are very soft but they explode into a huge chorus that sees Tim really using the higher registers of his voice. I think it’s now my favourite Rise Against acoustic song.
“Monarch” is probably my favourite song on the record, and it’s followed by great songs “Sounds Like”, “Sooner or Later”, “Middle of a Dream” and the record closes with “Rules of Play”.
The only real negative for me is the lack of heaviness that is traditionally featured in Rise Against albums. “Sooner or Later” features a great spot of this before the bridge, but that’s about it. But with the band getting older and Tim’s “new” vocal delivery, it’s understandable why he isn’t able to scream like he did before. And it’s probably for the better because his voice would be wrecked out on the road and you never knew what version you’d get.
I can’t wait to get back out there and see the new songs live.
Favourite songs — “Monarch”, “Sounds Like”, “Sooner or Later”, “Forfeit”
KennyHoopla — Survivors Guilt: The Mixtape// (EP)
After KennyHoopla and Travis Barker dropped “estella//” earlier in 2020, I was sold on Kenny. He released an EP before that in 2020 titled how will i rest in peace if i’m buried by a highway?//, and while the title track was a stand out and still one of his best, I think his newest collection of songs is a large step up on the previous ones.
The addition of Travis Barker will always result in some of the best drumming possible, but the lead artist has to bring lots more to the table for it to be a good release — and KennyHoopla did just that. While I enjoyed Machine Gun Kelly’s pop-punk record, the lyrics were mediocre at best and some of the songs were forgettable, but I can confidently state Kenny brings plenty of different flavours to this new mixtape. Lyrics feature mental health, yearning to be loved, not knowing your place in the world and everything in between. It’s hard not to relate to any of the songs in the eight-song EP.
Musically, it’s top-notch as well. Trav steals every song he’s in as usual, but the guitar work is also very well done throughout. The songs are catchy and while pop-punk is the base, there is some early 2000s alternative, emo, and hardcore in there as well. I’ve had it on repeat since it released and that will continue throughout the summer.
Favourite songs — “silence is also an option//”, “estella//”, “turn back time//”, “smoke break//”
Creeper — “Midnight” (Single)
This is the first single released from the upcoming American Noir EP, which is eight songs written throughout the band’s previous record Sex, Death & the Infinite Void.
“Midnight” features plenty of piano and duelling vocals from lead singer Will Gould and singer/keyboardist Hannah Greenwood, and the intro when the band kicks in really pops.
I can say that moment is one of the best parts of the song, but there isn’t much not to like about the entire three and a half minutes. The chorus is also very Creeper-esque and you can tell it was written during the last record as it feels like an extension of that album.
The guitar solo is really great as well, and the finger tapping is excellently done, which is not something I would have expected in a Creeper song. The EP comes out later this month, so I expect it will get plenty of playtime from me.
Lorde — “Solar Power” (Single)
Lorde has finally returned after a four-year layoff from her previous record — Melodrama. And while I’d love to say this is one of my new favourite songs from Lorde, I’m really mixed on it. I don’t think it’s bad by any stretch but I don’t find myself needing to listen to it all the time.
The verses feature just acoustic guitar and Lorde, and it’s a really laid back vibe perfect for late-night bonfires.
The line “I’m kinda like a prettier Jesus” is also very good.
But I feel like the song is building up to a big bombastic outro only to fade out with Lorde repeating “Solar Power” over and over. It’s a decent song, but I have a feeling there will be much better songs on the album when it’s released in mid-August.