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  1. The Years Gone By’s new album Forever Comes Too Soon

    September 21, 2008 by Kristyn

    The Years Gone By’s Forever Comes Too Soon

    Alright, so let me open up this review by saying that before this, I had never listened to this band. I had only read and heard about them in passing. So with a little excitement, I popped in Forever Comes Too Soon and hit play. The first track, “This Time, It’s Our Time,” hit me as everything you could describe as energetic pop punk. It reminds me of some mix of The Starting Line, Blink 182, and New Found Glory. To be honest, I got a little sidetracked listening to “Best of Me,” while comparing the sounds.

    The rest of the album follows generally along with my first impression: pop punk, energetic, something I want to tap my foot to. It reminds me of driving along the coast during the summer with my windows down. “What Happens in ___ Stays In __,” is a clever track with a catchy beat, great melodies, and a bridge that you just have to clap your hands to.

    The album takes a turn with the ballad “You Might As Well Be In Space.” The band trades in strong guitar riffs and poppy drum beats for a piano and a symbol. The lyrics seem a little cliché, “I’ll tear down the stars and I’ll give them to you / The night isn’t pretty as your eyes / But I guess it will have to do.” But I didn’t have to debate long whether this band had a future career in ballad writings, because the album picks right back up after that with, “Tear Down These Walls,” and “Stay Close,” and “The Real Thing,” which closes the album.

    All and all, I would classify this album as a very catchy, upbeat album from a pop punk band. The sound is cohesive, with the exception of “You Might As Well Be In Space,” and the rest of the track flow together to create an album with that “last summer after high school,” feeling. In my opinion, the album is definitely worth a listen to decide for yourself if it is your cup of tea.

  2. Anberlin’s new album New Surrender

    September 21, 2008 by Kristyn

    Anberlin’s New Surrender

    Anberlin’s rise to success has been a slow but steady one. Their latest release, New Surrender, is their fourth full-length album, but only their first major label release. Many fans have expressed worry that Anberlin’s move from indie label Tooth and Nail to major label Universal – hoping that the unique sound that Anberlin has developed for itself would persevere through the changes. [more]

    Well, not to worry, fans – New Surrender has all the makings of the old Anberlin we have come to know and love. The album opens with the explosive track, “The Resistance,” filled with powerful guitars and the emotional lyrics and vocal styling of Stephen Christian. Perhaps the most explosive part of the opening track is the wild guitar solo in the last 30 seconds of the song. This track sets the tone for the record, promising an energetic and powerful album.

    And the listener will not be let down. If the album sounds familiar, don’t worry – “Feel Good Drag,” is a rerecorded track from their earlier release, Never Take Friendship Personal. Tracks like “Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights),” and “Disappear” also channel the original Anberlin sound, with upbeat choruses, fast drums, and heavy guitars. But other songs, like “Younglife,” and “Breathe” have a softer feel, with acoustic guitars and quieter, more melodic vocals from Christian.

    The release ends with “Misearbile Visu (ex malo bonum),” a track whose sound seems a little out of place with the rest of the album. But the slow, dramatic track seems to bring the album to a perfect close – both with its slightly dismal lyrics and song tempo.

    The variety in this album is greatly appreciated, personally. I am an Anberlin fan of old and love that I can get some of the old mixed with some new sounds. So pardon me, I’m taking off my mourning veil and going to listen to “Breathe” all over again.

  3. Valencia, We All Need A Reason To Believe

    August 27, 2008 by Kristyn

    Valencia, a five piece outfit from Philadelphia, has garnered the attention of some of the industry’s most influential people. With folks like Jason Tate of and Robb Hitt, formerly of Midtown and currently of I Surrender Records as fans, and having toured with some of the biggest names in the pop punk/rock scene like Boys Like Girls and All Time Low, it’s not surprising that Valencia’s sophomore album and first major-label release has attracted the attention of many.

    We All Need A Reason To Believe is an eleven-track piece that tells a story of perseverance and positivity. The album comes after the loss of lead singer Shane Henderson’s close friend and girlfriend, whose tragic passing in 2006 inspired many of the tracks on this album. The first page of booklet of the CD reads, “This album was inspired by the loss of a great person. It’s dedicated to those who’ve unexpectedly passed and anyone who has ever loved, lost, and gained a new appreciation for life. We hope everyone continues in the constant pursuit of love and happiness.”

    With this in mind, one can clearly hear the emotion that inspired this album. Songs like “Where Did You Go?” and “Carry On” speak to the importance of holding onto positive memories of those who are gone and emerging from experiences stronger than when you came in.

    But the album is not filled with just haunting, sad ballads of lost loves – tracks like “Holiday,” “Better Be Prepared,” and “The Good Life” embrace the essence of pop punk music. Shane Henderson’s powerful vocals, coupled with exciting guitar riffs from Brendan Walters and JD Perry, along with great rhythm from bassist George Ciukurescu and drummer Max Soria give each song its own dynamic energy. It’s impossible not to sing along with this record.

    Only adding to the authenticity of this album is the raw sound it brings. In days where Auto-tune is a lead singer’s best friend, Valencia proves to the listener that a real band can record an album without coming across as over processed. The talent of these five guys really shines through and makes me itch to be in the same room as them performing live. It doesn’t hurt that they are five of the most genuine, humble people you could ever meet, spending hours chatting with fans online, responding to Myspace messages personally, and always out after a set to meet and thank their fans.

    I have to echo the sentiment of many reviewers of Valencia before me – in an age where true pop punk is quickly dying and being replaced with synthesized beats and auto-tuned voices, Valencia is reviving it.

    Valencia is currently touring .. dates on the east coast and will be heading on a cross-country tour with Oakland rockers The Matches and headliner Bayside in the fall. Be sure to check them out on at least one of the dates, I promise you will not be disappointed.
    Photos from:,, and