Review: Limitless (2016)

I first saw Tonight Alive / heard any of their music at Soundwave Sydney 2015. I wasn’t even planning on it, I’d just happened to be early enough to catch a random band before the ones I’d scheduled to see. I was immediately taken in not so much by their music per se (even though it is very good) but by their personas, particularly Jenna McDougall’s commanding stage presence. McDougall has such a level of self-confidence but obvious gratitude as well; humbled by her audience but not one to shy away from dishing out a wonderfully energetic, confident performance. In a word, she’s cool.

The band covered a Rage Against the Machine song that day too, and that’s when it clicked. Not only did they smash the song to bits, it was clear that this band really wanted to embody a similar ethos of breaking down a system. I could vibe with that – in fact I spend a lot of my time looking for anything remotely anti-establishment. So when I heard that the band was heading into the studio immediately after Soundwave, I was already super excited for what was to become their third full-length record, Limitless. The resulting album was definitely not what I was expecting.

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Review: Death of a Bachelor (2016)

“I’m not as think as you drunk I am.” I don’t know if Brendon Urie has ever written a better lyric than this. Either way, I’m glad he did because Panic! at the Disco is back.

After a couple of years of lineup changes since their 2013 effort, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, I was a little apprehensive about a new album from these guys – or more aptly put, this one guy. As it stands, Urie is currently the only member of Panic! left. I don’t know if I didn’t have confidence in his ability to create an entire record by himself, or maybe I thought I was ready to move on from the band after Spencer Smith officially left. It felt like a cue somehow, because the Vices & Virtues era is my personal favourite. I felt they captured the best balance between the weirdness of their early days and the ease of a pop hook. The songs were infectiously fun, but dark and contemplative at times. I don’t remember when it was I’d first heard it, but it captivated me for ages. That time period with just Urie and Smith felt fresh and new and promising.

Death of a Bachelor hasn’t upstaged that. However, it sits very nicely alongside Vices & Virtues because of its utterly focused, individualistic yet undeniably pop vibe.

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American Beauty/American Psycho: One Year On

When I was about thirteen, I became aware of bands like Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy, but I never really bothered to listen to their music. To this day, I am not entirely sure why, because it turns out that 22 year old me really enjoys it, and Fall Out Boy is now my favourite band.

But growing up in the 2000s – particularly the middle chunk of them – was interesting when it came to the medium anyway. The teen pop era of the 90s was dissipating in favour of more sullen, almost lyrically epistemological fare that seemed the most content when it was most angry. 2004 brought about one of the most memorable changes in the industry for me, with the release of Green Day’s American Idiot – an album sporting singles that experienced considerable airplay for several years and managed to create a certain image of the modern rock musician.

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