Modern Baseball-You’re Gonna Miss It All
On Modern Baseball’s second LP, You’re Gonna Miss It All, it would appear as though the band has improved and expanded themselves in all the wrong directions. Modern Baseball seem to be an outlier of sorts, an odd and perplexing case of a band whose strong points can just as easily become their weaknesses, depending on who’s listening. Hailed as saviors of the emo genre, the band hardly does anything to expand on the (slightly annoying) trail previously blazed by peers such as The Front-Bottoms and Tiny Moving Parts; but, however, still manage to produce one of the genre’s finest works to date.
The lyrics can be ingeniously relatable: “I hate worrying about the future/ ‘cause all my problems are based around the past.”
But to the point of absurdity: “I’ll assume you’re wasting all my time/to vent about problems like how your Instagram stopped working/or how all your friends bailed on you/but it was funny because it was the day you were supposed to hang out with me.”
The shaky, speak-singing of front-man, Brendan Lukens, is easily what sets the group apart, but can be borderline unlistenable on tracks like “Broken Cash Machine.”
It would seem as though for every instant classic like the gang-vocal laden “Charlie Black,” or gorgeous acoustic closer “Pothole,” there’s an equally cringe-worthy moment like the cowpoke “Going to Bed Now,” which is possibly one of the worst songs I’ve heard all year.
You’re Gonna Miss It All is an undeniably polarizing record and fans of Modern Baseball, or the genre as a whole will, undoubtedly rank the album alongside the likes of The Upsides or Your Favorite Weapon. For the rest of us, Modern Baseball hints at the possibility of a hopeful future, and perhaps the promise that come LP3, the band will hone in on the skills that separate them from the rest of the pack.
For Fans of: The Front-Bottoms, Tiny Moving Parts, The Wonder Years
Key Tracks: “Charlie Black,” “Your Graduation” and “Pothole”
Katy Perry – Prism
Let’s be honest, “Roar” showed promise, and a lot of it. It was a feminist jam that even rivaled “I Will Survive,” dominating the airwaves and pleasing radio-listeners everywhere. While Katy Perry may suffer from a pretty terrible live performance, past records One of the Boys and Teenage Dream paved the way for perfected pop bliss, first carved out by Pink and early Brittany Spears, which lead to heightened expectations for her latest album, Prism.
Unfortunately, almost all expectations fall as flat as cardboard scenery as you hit track two, “Legendary Lovers.” “Lovers” features a stereotypical Indian theme, making poor use of sitar and cultural references, (almost as bad as Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me”) just before sliding into the even less tasteful “Birthday,” which is literally centered entirely on the term “birthday suit.”
Even saving grace and popular single “Dark Horse” throws a perfectly good dance beat to waste by dragging on, and including Juicy J, one of the worst “mainstream” rappers to unleash his monotone voice upon the masses (“She’ll eat your heart out/like Jeffry Dahmer”).
In “International Cities,” Perry resorts to yelling out the names of – that’s right – international cities, throughout the entire last two minutes of the song. Need I say more?
With a front half filled with “bangerz,” and a back half of cheese-filled power ballads, like “Double Rainbow,” Prism makes an external attempt to surpass Top 40 expectations, but instead fills itself with just enough fluff and substance to not be labeled the next Nickleback album. Throw in a few grunts and we’ll get there, folks.
For Fans of: Pink, Brittany Spears, Top 40 radio
Key Tracks: “Roar,” “Dark Horse,” and “International Cities” if you need a good laugh.
Diamond Youth – Shake EP
In just six songs and 16 minutes, Topshelf Records’ Diamond Youth provide us with more grunge/surf-rock than you’ve probably ever asked for, and I mean that in the best way possible. Opening with a menacing guitar riff that slides seamlessly into the hushed vocals of Justin Gilman, the smooth falsettos of “Red Water” are drenched in reverb and distortion, making for a chaotic but surprisingly cathartic experience. If this sounds unpleasant to you, try again. There is hardly anything separating the music Diamond Youth makes from the tunes that rock college campuses across the country, including hits on our very own WERG.
Diamond Youth has only released a single EP each year, providing us with concise jams determined to hold our attention span. While Shake does provide a bit of a departure (Take the 49 second “Maryland Ice Cream” or the infectious “Can’t Shake the Feeling” for example), it continues to expand on the band’s signature sound and provides us with one of the best EPs released yet this year. The record is currently streaming at the A.V. Club, so there’s never been a better time to invest in Diamond Youth.
For Fans of: Mansions, Nirvana, Weezer
Key Tracks: There’s only six. What are you waiting for? Go stream this puppy!
Explosions in the Sky – How Strange, Innocence
As a piece focused on music, that I believe could be recommended to anyone, I must say that Explosions in the Sky often shimmer and flourish with instrumentals perfect for almost any occasion, especially studying. How Strange, Innocence is admittedly less polished than following releases, but packed with the youthful energy of a group of friends with nothing to lose.
From the dark, icy tones of opener “A Song for Our Fathers,” to the beautiful morning tones of “Look Into the Air,” Explosions in the Sky has managed to consistently conjure post-rock anthems that are filled with imagery, without any kind of lyrics or vocalist.