American Verse: Heaven’s In Your Head

Instead of watching The Big Bang Theory season premiere, I was stuffing my face with Taco Bell and watching Book of Mormon for the second time this month. After a good night, I came home to a friend’s Facebook status about saving for retirement…she’s my age, 25. It confused me because I have always believed that you never know when you’ll die, so live in the moment. As this processed in my mind American Verse’s Heaven’s In Your Head played through an earbud.

This Massachusetts band blend together rock, punk and heart to get a blend that’s a little Saves The Day and a little Blink 182 in their later years; in-between the naked running and the “hiatus.” “Heaven’s In Your Head” started like Pentimento, very brash, only to soften up but then sped up with the notion “I’m like the earth, every year I get worse” on repeat. It was a style rollercoaster, but the one you get on time and time again to see if you can catch every part with your eyes open.

You’d have to have your eyes wide and ears ready if you didn’t want to miss “The Last Fucking Song I’ll Ever Write About You.” It’s 25 seconds long and a great way to showcase how you really feel about someone. Let them know they’re not on your good side, but not worth a lot of your time.

What I Really Am” is a testament of reality. It doesn’t sugarcoat the voices situation and tells it like it is. If only people could be like that all the time and admit they’re faults, the world would be a brighter place. It also had a line that made me go on a mental tangent that will now become a mini written one…”…can’t please all the people, but I still try.” It’s good the songwriter admits that, but honey, never try to impress anyone. There are far too many people in the world and if you worry about making them all smile, you’ll be the last to crack one.

By the end of American Verse’s Heaven’s In Your Head I was still on the edge of “why would you plan retirement at 25?” But I was a little more at ease thanks to this album that’s for fans of Pull Strings and Something About Airplanes and is out now on Better Days Records, so pick it up and let it be your partner as you ponder Facebook status’ at 1am.

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Handguns: Angst

The past week there’s been a lot of indie in my inbox. The records spanned a prairie that consisted of adults realizing that they weren’t where they wanted to be and were confused and upset by the matter. The only thing that’s different about the latest album in my digital hands is the backdrop. Handguns offers that same mentality, but with a heavy dose of pop punk to tell their tales of their past, present and future states of anguish with their album Angst.

With the recent reports of “Knock Knock bandits” in LA, “Porch Light” scared me because I thought someone was at the door. All I could think was, please don’t take my beloved TV. As for the rest of the record, it played like a familiar friend. Each song was being sung along to before I realized my mouth was moving. Which when you have love songs like “Stay With Me” or the cutie pie, Taylor Swift like “Still Running Away,” it’s easy to do.

That’s enough with the lovey dovey though, the best parts of Angst were, well, the angst. “Early Retirement” is every adult stuck in a job they hate (so 99%); “…trying to get fired so I don’t have to quit.” “The War At Home” is the pinnacle song of the record though. You listen to every word and try and say that you didn’t have at least one moment like that when you were younger. That time in place where every emotion you’ve ever felt formed a tornado in-between your ears and screaming wasn’t enough? Or in the case of Handguns, punching holes in walls wasn’t enough…Oh, that was just this week? Well then…

Besides love and anger, there was this since of friendship that came through as well. I have to point out “Long October” for it paying homage to Counting Crows not only in the song, but the title as well. Then there’s “Fade Away,” a song that had this sense of comradery, much like with New Found Glory’s “Ballad for the Lost Romantics.”

When it comes to music being put out by people in their 20’s…it’s all the same when it comes to the message. The only difference is the packaging. So it just depends on if you like your music served on an indie plate, or a pop punk platter. So if you’re a fan of bands like With The Punches and The Wonder Years, you’ll enjoy HandgunsAngst, out now on Pure Noise Records.

Nobody Lives In Cleveland: These Dreadful Dedications

The hardest thing for creative people is to share their art with others. This is especially true for me. To this day I won’t let anyone see the shit I wrote down in my journals in high school out of fear that I’ll be institutionalized. Plus, some of the poems…they’re pitiful attempts at trying to be deep like Good Charlotte lyrics (judge me, it’s okay). But for what I write now, that’s all good to share because you have to put yourself out there and learn from the critiques to either change what you’re doing or to keep on keeping on. So when new bands come out with music I commend them for taking the chance at putting their selves out there to be picked apart. Bands like Nobody Lives In Cleveland and their album These Dreadful Dedications. So I will do my best to give my two cents at what I liked, and what could use some polishing to shine a bit more.

Nobody Lives In Cleveland is an indie band from the streets of Blackwood, NJ. I say that like I’ve traveled the world and have seen every inch of it. Anyways, it’s two parts lady and one part male, making a trio of Popeyes loving, musical pals. Mike Graham and Jenn Nguyen sing together on a lot of the tracks, and with “The Rise of ‘88” because of the way the music sounded, it reminded me of Napoleon Dynamite and the dance scene. So images of Mike and Jenn as Napoleon and Deb played in my mind. This one was a good duet, but then there were other times that Jenn seemed to overpower Mike and you just wanted her to pull back a little.

So with that, it was definitely the slower tracks like “Every Day is an Open Door” and “Sunday Morning” where Mike showed off a vulnerable side of his voice that were highlights of the record. A couple weeks ago I seen 10 Years and then tackled the movies soundtrack, and these two would be great on there aside Oscar Isaac’s pair.

Another note, the Disney feel, which is more common than one would think in music nowadays. It probably has something to do with the age of all the up and coming artists out there. Any who, “All The Right Words” sounded at first like No Doubt’s “Running” sped up, but quickly turned into a Disneyland parade. Then a few tracks later you have “Oliver & Company (Interlude)” which was a weird break, but I hope that makes it into the live show with the pattycake sounds…

The two songs in which Mike is given the spotlight are the big winners on These Dreadful Dedications as far as personal taste and my musical ear goes. How the Nobody Lives In Cleveland choose to go about their way, that’s up to them because it’s their craft to create. They can only take that opinion as it is. These Dreadful Dedications is out now and is for fans of Camera Obscura and Ben Gibbard.

As I was wrapping this review up, “Every Day is an Open Door” played and it summed up the notion of what I started with, you have to try or else you’ll never learn. So here’s the lyric from that song that made me want to review this in the first place, “We’re all meant for something but if we do nothing how could we ever know what it truly means to grow.”