ALBUM REVIEW: The Menzingers, Rented World
Of all the words one could employ to describe Scranton, Pa.’s The Menzingers, straightforward is perhaps the most appropriate. There is nothing technically elaborate about the quartet’s brand of deeply moving, melodic punk rock. They rely only on the basics: guitar, bass, drums, and a steady dose of heartbreak. Their latest effort, Rented World, is no different, but perhaps the most sophisticated of this foolproof formula as of yet.
The album begins on a—you guessed it—straightforward note with “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore.” Vocalist Greg Barnett earnestly apologizes to some nameless love interest for his past indiscretions. Among these, he lists drinking too much, lying, and prying over his lover’s whereabouts. And yet, in true Menzingers fashion, it boils down to one phrase.
This pattern is consistent throughout most of the record. They take millennial angst to its most basic, taking one blatant declaration of feeling and repeating it for added effect. On track four, they repeat, “I know where your heartache exists, it’s when you’re alone or around me.” On track seven, “The Talk,” it’s “I’m not like you.” Track eight, “Nothing Feels Good Anymore,” it’s shockingly just that. Track ten, “In Remission,” it’s “If everyone needs a clutch, then I need a wheelchair.” All of this is layered over the most earnest of punk rock, heavy with vocal harmonization. And though there is an obvious formula to most of the songs on the record, it never becomes stale. Rather it transports you, listener with headphones, to the correct setting. These are lyrics meant for a live show. You can practically see the hoards of late teens/early twenty-somethings climbing over one another in the pit to scream closer to Barnett’s microphone.
That being said, the highlight of the album is the third track, “Rodent.” In terms of lyrical imagery, this one shoots the furthest outside the box. Still ripe with angst, Barnett compares the way he feels trapped in adulthood to the way a mouse is trapped in the walls of a house. The lyrics are powerful, and the harmonization is so, so good. 
This is a record worth checking out, for sure.
-Mandy Brownholtz

ALBUM REVIEW: The Menzingers, Rented World

Of all the words one could employ to describe Scranton, Pa.’s The Menzingers, straightforward is perhaps the most appropriate. There is nothing technically elaborate about the quartet’s brand of deeply moving, melodic punk rock. They rely only on the basics: guitar, bass, drums, and a steady dose of heartbreak. Their latest effort, Rented World, is no different, but perhaps the most sophisticated of this foolproof formula as of yet.

The album begins on a—you guessed it—straightforward note with “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore.” Vocalist Greg Barnett earnestly apologizes to some nameless love interest for his past indiscretions. Among these, he lists drinking too much, lying, and prying over his lover’s whereabouts. And yet, in true Menzingers fashion, it boils down to one phrase.

This pattern is consistent throughout most of the record. They take millennial angst to its most basic, taking one blatant declaration of feeling and repeating it for added effect. On track four, they repeat, “I know where your heartache exists, it’s when you’re alone or around me.” On track seven, “The Talk,” it’s “I’m not like you.” Track eight, “Nothing Feels Good Anymore,” it’s shockingly just that. Track ten, “In Remission,” it’s “If everyone needs a clutch, then I need a wheelchair.” All of this is layered over the most earnest of punk rock, heavy with vocal harmonization. And though there is an obvious formula to most of the songs on the record, it never becomes stale. Rather it transports you, listener with headphones, to the correct setting. These are lyrics meant for a live show. You can practically see the hoards of late teens/early twenty-somethings climbing over one another in the pit to scream closer to Barnett’s microphone.

That being said, the highlight of the album is the third track, “Rodent.” In terms of lyrical imagery, this one shoots the furthest outside the box. Still ripe with angst, Barnett compares the way he feels trapped in adulthood to the way a mouse is trapped in the walls of a house. The lyrics are powerful, and the harmonization is so, so good. 

This is a record worth checking out, for sure.

-Mandy Brownholtz

VOTD: Wild Beasts, “A Simple Beautiful Mind”

What do you get when you take a dreamy electronic track, mix in synchronized dance moves, and set it all against a beautiful landscape? Well, just throw in some space-age light reflective jackets and you get the new Wild Beasts video for “A Simple Beautiful Truth.” Members Hayden Thorpe, Ben Little, Tom Fleming, and Chris Talbot pair robotic dance sequences with their harmonic lyrics and sweeping views of the British countryside in this new video. The awesome new track can stand steadily on its own and the simple video allows the viewer to focus on the music. The outfits and dance may seem silly but they match the futuristic feel of the track. This video is like a pleasant electronic dream, so press play and get ready to escape.

-Janice Freeman  

NEW TRACKS: Sunny Day Real Estate, “Lipton Witch”

They say we shouldn’t call it a comeback, but we at Half Past are absolutely thrilled by the apparent emo revival taking place this year, its most recent form being a new single from storied emo founding fathers Sunny Day Real Estate. “Lipton Witch” was released as a Record Store Day 7” split with Circa Survive, and SDRE hasn’t lost a beat. Lead singer Jeremy Enigk’s voice has picked up some roadside gravel, but the guitars still chime as sharply as they did 20 years ago when the group released their acclaimed debut Diary. 

-Kelsey Butterworth 

NEW TRACKS: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, “Eurydice”

If you’ve ever been driving on a summer night with the windows down and left looking for the perfect song, look no further. New York’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s new single has got you covered. The group’s newest track “Eurydice” comes from the forthcoming album Days of Abandon. It’s as dreamy and smooth as their previous releases but contains a soaring chorus that feels fresh and new. Lead singer Kip Berman and keyboardist Peggy Wang blend their voices seamlessly, and when backed by a floaty keyboard and guitar track, the song feels light and spirited. Whether you’re already a fan of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s music or have never heard of ‘em, wait no longer and make this your new warm weather track. 

-Janice Freeman

NEW BAND: Summer Reading

As spring and winter battle for control of April’s weather forecast, over at the 9:30 Club we turn to music for a breath of fresh air. Boston’s Summer Reading have provided exactly the refreshing folk sound we have been looking for. The band, composed of singer/songwriter Luke Walker and a small assortment of his family and friends, harnesses a beautiful acoustic sound composed of layered fingerpicking and Luke’s soft yet powerful vocals.  Keeping with their literature themed name, the band released their Books on Tape EP in December of 2011 after nearly two years of writing.  The six song set reflects influences like Bowerbirds and Neil Young without ever losing its unmistakable originality.  Luke’s introspective and nature-themed lyrics of the opening track “Mt. Moriah” gives the project its soft tone, while his brother Sam’s light drumming will immediately get your head nodding.  Other standouts like “Renaissance” and “Heart of Stone” really showcase the talent and chemistry of this young group of musicians.

Luke sustained a voice injury following the band’s 2012 debut which has kept him from singing for over a year now, but he wants listeners to know that Summer Reading will be back!  Until then, give Books on Tape a listen and show the band some love by liking their Facebook page

-Brian Davis

Last Saturday, Swedish rockers The Sounds graced the 9:30 stage with their extreme badassery. Vocalist Maja Ivarsson channeled her inner Blondie with a powerful stage presence, captivating the audience. All in all, a good one. Thank you to house photographer Erik Gibson for capturing the evening, and see the rest of the photos here!

REASONS TO COME EARLY: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires

Some of the best new rock ‘n roll has been bubbling out of the dirty south, especially Crimson Tide country. First Alabama Shakes, and now Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires. It takes approximately three seconds of listening to their propulsive and distorted rocker “Ain’t No Stranger” to knock you on your ass. The relatively young band embodies everything there is to love about BBQ-and-sweet-tea-soaked musical abandon. Loud guitars, down-with-the-man bombast, and songs about kudzu. These southern gentlemen set fire to every club and juke joint they play – don’t miss out.

-Kelsey Butterworth

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires will open for Alabama Shakes on 4/25-26.

WE LOVE OUR PARTNERS: Awesome Con
We’re so excited Awesome Con weekend has finally arrived! What better way to spend a Saturday than geeking out over comic books, collectibles, and all other sorts of fun and games?! Yeah, not much, except… 9:30 Club will be onsite with enter-to-wins for Hari Kondabolu, The Faint, and Lindsey Stirling! If that’s not incentive to get off your keister and slap on your best cosplay, we don’t know what is. Stop by our table and say hello!
-Mandy Brownholtz
Awesome Con takes place 4/18-4/20 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance, here. 

WE LOVE OUR PARTNERS: Awesome Con

We’re so excited Awesome Con weekend has finally arrived! What better way to spend a Saturday than geeking out over comic books, collectibles, and all other sorts of fun and games?! Yeah, not much, except… 9:30 Club will be onsite with enter-to-wins for Hari Kondabolu, The Faint, and Lindsey Stirling! If that’s not incentive to get off your keister and slap on your best cosplay, we don’t know what is. Stop by our table and say hello!

-Mandy Brownholtz

Awesome Con takes place 4/18-4/20 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance, here

STAFF PICKS: Record Store Day 2014
Kelsey’s Picks
HAIM, “Forever”/”Edge (feat. Twin Shadow)”: For HAIM’s RSD debut, it only seems appropriate that they rerelease their first song ever, with a kickass 80s-drenched Twin Shadow collab b-side. HAIM in any situation is always bitchin’, but vinyl HAIM is the second-best kind (behind live HAIM of course).
Fleetwood Mac, “Dragonfly”/”The Purple Dancer”: The Mac Attack recently announced their first US tour with original bassist Christine McVie (who was with them for thirty years but quit in 1998). For FM fans this is obviously heart-arresting news, so it’s fitting for the legends to rerelease the 1970 single, the first to feature McVie as a bandmate.
Drive-By Truckers, Dragon Pants EP:Behold your friendly neighborhood DBT obsessive’s obligatory mention! For Truckers fans, new material is always a week-maker. This EP features four new tracks, an alternate take of “Natural Light”, and… some badass artwork (but you didn’t hear it from me).
Parquet Courts, “Sunbathing Animal”/”Pilgrims to Nowhere”: One of the best new indie bands to come out the past couple years (or, in our opinion, a while) would be baby-faced Brooklyn punks Parquet Courts, and it’s hard to find either of their LPs in stores - so snag this if you can.
RPM Turntable Football: Okay, not sure how this one’s gonna play out, but this is somehow a sound-based football fantasy game courtesy of Microfiche Records. It comes with color commentary and ways to score points, on football-field-green wax. Grab this for sheer novelty, but also, to tell us how it works, because we are both puzzled and intrigued.
Ryan’s Picks
The Pogues, Live With Joe Strummer: Shane MacGowan was kicked out of the Pogues in 1991 for his unreliability, so they replaced him with some little known singer/guitarist by the name of Joe Strummer. I think he was in some group in the 70s and 80s with those guys in Gorillaz. This is the first and only physical release of the album in the US, so I’m definitely grabbing it if I find it.
Vitamin String Quartet, Vitamin String Quartet Performs Weezer’s Pinkerton: The Vitamin String Quartet releases a bunch of great string versions of rock classics. The past two years, they’ve released vinyls in conjunction with Record Store Day of Sigur Ros songs and Radiohead’s In Rainbows. This year, VSQ’s release is one of the best album of the 90s and the arguably most influential album on the late 90s/00s emo wave of Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and others: Weezer’s Pinkerton. The release, specially remastered just for vinyl, is being pressed on green vinyl and includes a download link. 
Devo, Live at Max’s Kansas City-November 15, 1997: David Bowie is there backstage with Devo at their New York City première. The Thin White Duke gets onstage and introduces them: “This is the band of the future, I’m going to produce them in Tokyo this winter.” Bowie became busy filming a movie in West Germany, so Brian Eno produced the album in Cologne. In addition to the rare Bowie audio and the entirety of this landmark concert in punk and new wave, Gerald Casale has prepared liner notes specifically for this release. Devo also has a picture disc for their ‘95 Sundance gig and a Side by Side of “Gates of Steel” with The Flaming Lips.
Nirvana, “Pennyroyal Tea” Single:  “Pennyroyal Tea” was due to be the next single off of “In Utero” in 1994. Unfortunately Cobain’s death made Geffen cancel the release of the vinyl (a few promo singles got out to radio stations though - another rarity). 20 years later, Geffen is finally releasing it b/w “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.”
David Lynch, The Air Is On Fire: David Lynch is probably first and foremost known as one of the most accomplished filmmakers of the past three decades and the shepherd of surrealist cinema into the mainstream. Many don’t know his outstanding endeavors in other art forms. This 12-inch is the soundscape he created for a 2007 art exhibition of the same name, and it’s the first time it’s been released on vinyl to boot. I plan on listening to this with a slice of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee.
Sydney’s Picks
The Velvet Underground, Loaded Reissue on pink, black, and white splatter vinyl
Cage The Elephant, “Take It Or Leave It”
The Space Project
Tame Impala, Live Versions
The Cure/Dinosaur, Jr. Just Like Heaven
Cut Copy, In These Arms Of Love/Like Any Other Day
The Orwells, The Righteous One
Nirvana, “Pennyroyal Tea” Single
RPM Turntable Football
Cake Vinyl Boxed Set with previously unreleased live album
Django Django, The Porpoise Song
Spoon, Loveways
Surfer Blood, Pythons Demos

STAFF PICKS: Record Store Day 2014

Kelsey’s Picks

  • HAIM, “Forever”/”Edge (feat. Twin Shadow)”: For HAIM’s RSD debut, it only seems appropriate that they rerelease their first song ever, with a kickass 80s-drenched Twin Shadow collab b-side. HAIM in any situation is always bitchin’, but vinyl HAIM is the second-best kind (behind live HAIM of course).
  • Fleetwood Mac, “Dragonfly”/”The Purple Dancer”: The Mac Attack recently announced their first US tour with original bassist Christine McVie (who was with them for thirty years but quit in 1998). For FM fans this is obviously heart-arresting news, so it’s fitting for the legends to rerelease the 1970 single, the first to feature McVie as a bandmate.
  • Drive-By Truckers, Dragon Pants EP:Behold your friendly neighborhood DBT obsessive’s obligatory mention! For Truckers fans, new material is always a week-maker. This EP features four new tracks, an alternate take of “Natural Light”, and… some badass artwork (but you didn’t hear it from me).
  • Parquet Courts, “Sunbathing Animal”/”Pilgrims to Nowhere”: One of the best new indie bands to come out the past couple years (or, in our opinion, a while) would be baby-faced Brooklyn punks Parquet Courts, and it’s hard to find either of their LPs in stores - so snag this if you can.
  • RPM Turntable Football: Okay, not sure how this one’s gonna play out, but this is somehow a sound-based football fantasy game courtesy of Microfiche Records. It comes with color commentary and ways to score points, on football-field-green wax. Grab this for sheer novelty, but also, to tell us how it works, because we are both puzzled and intrigued.

Ryan’s Picks

  • The Pogues, Live With Joe StrummerShane MacGowan was kicked out of the Pogues in 1991 for his unreliability, so they replaced him with some little known singer/guitarist by the name of Joe Strummer. I think he was in some group in the 70s and 80s with those guys in Gorillaz. This is the first and only physical release of the album in the US, so I’m definitely grabbing it if I find it.
  • Vitamin String Quartet, Vitamin String Quartet Performs Weezer’s PinkertonThe Vitamin String Quartet releases a bunch of great string versions of rock classics. The past two years, they’ve released vinyls in conjunction with Record Store Day of Sigur Ros songs and Radiohead’s In Rainbows. This year, VSQ’s release is one of the best album of the 90s and the arguably most influential album on the late 90s/00s emo wave of Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and others: Weezer’s Pinkerton. The release, specially remastered just for vinyl, is being pressed on green vinyl and includes a download link. 
  • Devo, Live at Max’s Kansas City-November 15, 1997: David Bowie is there backstage with Devo at their New York City première. The Thin White Duke gets onstage and introduces them: “This is the band of the future, I’m going to produce them in Tokyo this winter.” Bowie became busy filming a movie in West Germany, so Brian Eno produced the album in Cologne. In addition to the rare Bowie audio and the entirety of this landmark concert in punk and new wave, Gerald Casale has prepared liner notes specifically for this release. Devo also has a picture disc for their ‘95 Sundance gig and a Side by Side of “Gates of Steel” with The Flaming Lips.
  • Nirvana, “Pennyroyal Tea” Single:  “Pennyroyal Tea” was due to be the next single off of “In Utero” in 1994. Unfortunately Cobain’s death made Geffen cancel the release of the vinyl (a few promo singles got out to radio stations though - another rarity). 20 years later, Geffen is finally releasing it b/w “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.”
  • David Lynch, The Air Is On FireDavid Lynch is probably first and foremost known as one of the most accomplished filmmakers of the past three decades and the shepherd of surrealist cinema into the mainstream. Many don’t know his outstanding endeavors in other art forms. This 12-inch is the soundscape he created for a 2007 art exhibition of the same name, and it’s the first time it’s been released on vinyl to boot. I plan on listening to this with a slice of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee.

Sydney’s Picks

  • The Velvet Underground, Loaded Reissue on pink, black, and white splatter vinyl
  • Cage The Elephant, “Take It Or Leave It”
  • The Space Project
  • Tame Impala, Live Versions
  • The Cure/Dinosaur, Jr. Just Like Heaven
  • Cut Copy, In These Arms Of Love/Like Any Other Day
  • The Orwells, The Righteous One
  • Nirvana, “Pennyroyal Tea” Single
  • RPM Turntable Football
  • Cake Vinyl Boxed Set with previously unreleased live album
  • Django Django, The Porpoise Song
  • Spoon, Loveways
  • Surfer Blood, Pythons Demos