What a crazy past 10 days it has been! I have been in Ireland with some family members and have seen some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever laid my eyes on.
It all started in Dublin though; which was not what I was expecting from Ireland. It is a huge city with graffiti and homeless people on every corner. When I have been picturing Ireland, I have been imagining beautiful green land with fields of sheep and bright blue bodies of water. That is not at all what Dublin was, but it was still an interesting experience. I got to see the Guinness factory which was pretty neat because I appreciate the whole brewing experience. After the brewery tour, I learned how to pour a proper pint of Guinness and of course I am now certified. On the top floor of the building there is the Gravity Bar which is a complete 360 degree view of the city of Dublin. That was definitely the highlight of Dublin. It was a lot of walking, cold weather, wind, rain, and did I mention rain? I don’t need to go back to Dublin, but I’m glad I got to experience it!
Next stop was the town of Howth. This place was breathtaking! I was so excited because these were the views I was waiting for. Beautiful waters filled with sailboats and the occasional seal bopping around. Walls of rocks that lead to the water that you can climb down onto and amazing seafood restaurants. We went to the Abbey Tavern where I experienced my first Irish fish and chips and seafood chowder which had huge pieces of salmon with mussels. It was all fresh seafood in the soup and it was absolutely delicious; definitely my favorite food I had out here.
A trip to Ireland would not have been complete without kissing the Blarney Stone. The first stop along the way was the lovely town of Cobh. This was the last stop for the Titanic before it set sail into the Irish Sea so that was one of the cool things to see. The town had beautifully colored buildings lining very steep hills leading up to the gorgeous St. Colman’s Cathedral. Once you get to the top of the hill and catch your breath you look out and see the tops of all the buildings and the bright waters and all the colored flowers along the streets. Another truly amazing view. The next stop was Cork, which is mainly a shopping area. We didn’t spend much time there, but we did get to check out the market that Cork is known for. It was filled with fresh fish, fruit, and meats. Lastly, the most important stop: Blarney Estate. Blarney Castle sits on a brilliant estate covered in miles and miles of perfectly manicured green grass and all sorts of flowers. The castle itself was marvelous, both inside and out. It just amazes me thinking about the history and how old the castle I was climbing the spiral staircases of was. The staircases were quite tight and not suitable for those uncomfortable with small spaces, but once you get to the top and breath in the fresh air it is worth the hour and a half wait. As I approached the Blarney Stone I took a look around and it was insane to see all that was surrounding me. To kiss the stone, you lie on your back above a opening at the top of the 90 foot castle with your hands on two poles and a man there to support you. I now have the gift of gab thanks to the Blarney Stone!
That just about does it for our visit to the Eastern side of Ireland. We then made our way by train to the Western side of Ireland to the town of Galway. During the train ride I finally got to see the fields of sheep I have been dying to see so I knew this was going to be a great area. What I love the most about Galway is that everything is walking distance. There are so many shops and restaurants in the area they call the Latin Quarters. We went to a nice little Italian restaurant, I know.. Italian in Ireland, who would have thought? But they had delicious hand made pasta! The following day we visited the must see area, Salthill. We were very lucky to have such beautiful weather that day to stick our feet in the Galway Bay, stroll along the beach, pick up some seashells, and just take in the view.
The highlight of the entire trip was definitely our trip to Connemara. We were on a bus and what was great about this trip was that there was so much to see along the way. Mountains, hills and fields all stunning. Sheep were everywhere which I was so excited about. Kylemore Abby was our main stop during the trip which was a castle that was turned into a private school run by the Benedictine nuns. Again, the views were just remarkable.. every direction you look it was as beautiful as the next. I couldn’t believe it! We also went and wandered around the gardens and had tea. The gardens were picture perfect and the tea was lovely! We drove back along the coast on the way back to Galway and saw some of the original cottages with the straw roofs which reminded me of Snow White. Of course there were more beautiful views of the ocean and we also caught a glimpse of the Aran Islands. Today is the second to last day of our trip, and I got a Claddagh from the famous Thomas Dillon shop which was the original makers of the ring from way back in 1750. Tomorrow we are going to the Cliffs of Moher, which should be another beautiful day!
Punchline – So Nice To Meet You
Release Date – January 3, 2012
Record Label – Modern Short Stories
Formed back in 1998, Punchline has been creating a following of very devoted fans for 14 whole years. After 4 full length releases, it was time for some new music from the Pittsburgh quartet. Punchline began recording their album with the idea for it to be a full length, but last minute they cut it short and decided to release it as an EP, thus came So Nice to Meet You; written, produced, and released through their self-ran record label, Modern Short Stories.
Let’s flip back a few weeks and go from there. Punchline had announced that they would be releasing an EP titled So Nice To Meet You on Tuesday January 3, 2012 at midnight on iTunes. Bassist, Chris Fafalios announced that if as a band Punchline did not hit number 1 overall on the iTunes chart that he would be putting his bass down forever. This YouTube video of his announcement got so much feedback, both positive and negative. Think what you want, but he was taking a stand for what he believed in, his band. Finally, midnight on January 3 rolled around with hundreds of people waiting by their computer for So Nice To Meet You to pop up, but an unfortunate circumstance pushed back their plans. There were some problems with iTunes, and the EP did not pop up until over 15 hours after expected. Once it appeared, of course all the diehard fans went hog wild not only purchasing So Nice To Meet You for themselves, but also gifting it to anyone who would listen. Hitting number one is a very huge goal to set for such a small town band, but even if they hit it for just a minute it would have meant that Punchline hit their goal. It was extremely moving seeing PUNCHLINE pop up on the top charts and seeing all the tweets counting down every time they hit a different slot closer to number one. They ended up moving up to number 7 overall and NUMBER ONE on the rock charts passing bands and artists like Metallica, Nickelback, and Adele.
The following night on Fox, lead singer Steve Soboslai was on the season premiere of Mobbed exposing his love life for all of America to see. It was a very emotional and nerve wrecking episode, but in the end he got his girl and made millions of views cry their little hearts out; happy tears of course!
Now let’s move on to the EP So Nice To Meet You. This five song EP is clearly devoted to the love of his life, Dana. There is nothing better than a good love song, let alone five. “Universe” is not only the first song, but also their first single off of the new release. This song is lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally beautiful. Their lyrics are always witty, funny, and meaningful and of course So Nice To Meet You displays these three attributes wonderfully. “Everything I Wanted” is quirky and definitely a song that I can see people rocking out into their cars, no matter what their age may be. “I Swear I’ve Been Here Before” is easily my favorite song off of So Nice To Meet You, especially when the chorus kicks in. The different instrumental sounds found throughout the song with a mix of duel vocals take the song to the next level. “Very Nervous System” has the most pop influence on the EP and is such a fun and upbeat song. I’m not sure how someone could not like this song. Remaking a classic song like “I Want You To Want Me” is a great way to get a diverse group of listeners. This was the song that was played on Mobbed, so there were millions of viewers that were exposed to this song from the show. Punchline’s version of “I Want You To Want Me” really turned out amazing; they kept a Cheap Trick feel, but put their Punchline twist on it and the outcome was nothing short of perfect. I love that there is a story from the beginning to the end of the EP that viewers can follow. These guys put out flawless album after album, and they don’t get nearly enough credit for their extreme level of talent.
Punchline is moving up in the world of music, and that is clear from their presence as number 1 on the iTunes rock charts. I have never seen such a devoted group of guys who love what they do, and their fans, as much as Punchline. After 14 years, most bands throw in the towel and give up on their music for many different reasons, but this is one band that stays true to who they are and just keep making bigger goals to hit. It truly is small town bands like Punchline that deserve so much more recognition for their music then they actually get.
The Maine – Pioneer - Release Date: December 6, 2011 - Record Label: Self-Released
After The Maine released Black & White all hope was really lost in these guys. It was lacking so much that made Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop a huge hit.Even with John O’Callaghan’s great voice and the bands upbeat pop rock tunes, expectations weren’t very high for their late 2011 release Pioneer, but it was still worth a shot.
The improvements The Maine has made since their previous release Black & White in 2010 are astounding. It’s amazing what a major record label can do (or not do in this case) to a band. Pioneer is a self-released album from The Maine, and it’s great to hear music written and recorded by these guys without any outside influences. That’s right, all these songs are written by The Maine themselves, no more of that “co-written” junk.
Of course they have some corny and thoughtless lines, but honestly I don’t think it would be the same without them. Let’s not forget their songs that got them well known include lyrics like “she’s fresh to death, she’ll be the death of me” and “you look so cute when you get that mad” so they can’t completely lose that part of the band. Other then the random corny lines, the lyrics are more thought provoking and grown up compared to their previous releases. I definitely loved Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop for the extremely upbeat pop instrumentals while still keeping rock at the root of it all, and Pioneer IS lacking the pop part but I actually like this change.
“Identity” was a gutsy way to open up the album. The Maine started it out slow, but once the chorus kicks in it is an obvious choice to be the first song on Pioneer. Each song brings something different to the table, and impresses me more and more each time I listen to the album. There is without a doubt more of a Rock & Roll inspiration with a hint of Country, and I LOVE IT. “My Heroine”, “Some Days”, and “Misery” are the highlights of the album. It is so hard to pick a favorite when there are as many outstanding tracks as there are. Although the album does lose some energy once you hit “Jenny”, that is the ONLY track I would ever skip. On a thirteen track album, that is so impressive to have that many hits.
It is truly amazing to see a band mature and grow stronger before your very eyes and see the dramatic changes in their music. I can see a lot of people being able to connect with this album, but also just as many people hating it based on their previous music. Pioneer highlights all of The Maine’s musical capabilities wonderfully. All they needed was time as a band to figure out who they really were, and Pioneer shows their true colors.
2. My Heroine
4. Some Days
5. I’m Sorry
6. Don’t Give Up On “Us”
8. When I’m At Home
9. Thinking Of You
11. Like We Did (Windows Down)
12. While Listening To Rock & Roll…
13. Waiting For My Sun To Shine
The up and coming record label, Modern Short Stories, has released some exciting news! They have expanded their record label to Farraday, a pop rock band from Chicago, Illinois. These guys, or should I say lady and gents, are a great addition to Punchline, Bright and Early, Spontaneo, The Composure, and Justin Oliver. Farraday are in the studio right now working on a few tracks that Modern Short Stories will be releasing. This group is not only musically talented, but amazing songwriters so keep your eye out for new music from Farraday
In the meantime check out the clip of their new song “Lockdown” on http://www.facebook.com/HeyFarraday.
Also, get a little more into the holiday spirit with their Christmas jam on www.heyfarraday.com.
November 13, 2011 Show Review
This past weekend in Towson, Maryland at Recher Theatre Saves the Day, Bayside, I am the Avalanche, and Transit yet again blew me out of the water with their energetic performances.
Transit has recently put out a new album Listen and Forgive so most of their set list was off of that. I still held out hope for some reason Patrick Stump coming out during “With All Your Heart”. Lead Vocals, Joe Boynton looked like the biggest sweetheart bopping across the stage with a huge smile on his face. These are the types of bands that deserve to be supported because they are so passionate about what they do, not to mention extremely talented.
I am the Avalanche always puts on a great show and always sounds great, so it was no surprise when, you guessed it, they sounded flawless. Just like the other guys on tour, Vinnie Caruana loves what he does, and you can see it during their performance. The most exciting part of the set was when they played “My Second Restraining Order” AND “This is Dungeon Music” which are two songs that they always played before the release of Avalanche United. But yet again, Anthony Raneri was nowhere to be seen during “The Gravedigger’s Argument” which was rather disappointing. Either way it was still a great song, and Mikey Ireland belted the part out just as well as Raneri would have.
This time around Saves the Day was playing last, which I was extremely excited about, but that also meant I had to stick around to watch Bayside’s entire set. It’s not that I don’t like Bayside, I just think a lot of their music sounds very similar and I’m not the biggest fan. They did play a few songs off their new album which I was familiar with along with a few older ones I knew so they kept my attention for quite some time. Towards the end of their set, Caruana joined Bayside on the stage for “The Walking Wounded” which was a treat because they hadn’t done this every night of the tour. Also, it was pretty funny when some guys from the previous bands came onto stage shirtless wearing masks causing chaos. When bands mess with each other during their sets you can just tell how much fun their having on tour, and how close they have all become.
What amazes me the most is that even after 17 years of being the lead singer of Saves the Day, Chris Conley is still one of the happiest guy I have ever seen during their performance. The crowd went crazy when they opened up with “All Star Me” which also got me excited since it is off of my favorite album by them, Through Being Cool. This tour played back to back days in Philadelphia, and I decided to only go to the first day. When I saw the songs they played on the second night I wanted to kick myself so hard for not going, so I was hoping for somewhat the same set from the second night. I got what I wished for, with the exception of a couple songs. I really can’t complain about the deduction of the couple of songs, but I really wish they played a little longer and played an encore. I was extremely shocked when they said it was their last song and started playing “At Your Funeral”, because this is always their last song and this meant there would most likely be no encore. I walked away disappointed, but at the same time Saves the Day put on such a great show, I really couldn’t be too upset.
Of course I knew that this was going to be a wonderful show from my previous experience in Philadelphia, but it’s always somewhat different going somewhere new. Needless to say, I was very happy with the decision of going again because Saves the Day continues to make me fall more and more in love with them.
Four Year Strong – In Some Way, Shape, or Form
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Record Label: Decaydance Records
Now roaming Massachusetts as a four piece after Josh Lyford’s departure from Four Year Strong, the quartet is still going strong with their recent release, In Some Way, Shape, or Form. Lyford was responsible for the keyboard and synthesizers in pervious FYS albums so this aroused some skepticism from fans with how their fourth album was going to sound in comparison to their previous releases. This album definitely has a different feel from Rise or Die Trying, or Enemy of the World, but it doesn’t mean that die hard Four Year Strong fans should stray.
“Invented” is a great song to open up with; it definitely has the most energy of any song on the album so this made me anticipate a great record ahead of me. “The Security of the Familiar, The Tranquility of Repetition” is my personal favorite on the album. The instrumentals, the pickup into the chorus, the echo of Dan O’Connor and Alan Day’s voices in the chorus, and not to mention it’s the most thought provoking track title on the album. This is a song that will definitely be seen on repeat on my iTunes at one point.
“Just Drive”, the first single, was very impressive when listened to before the rest of the album since their music video was released prior to the album. After listening to it in comparison to the rest of the album, it is good, but nothing better than that. “Fairweather Fan” sounds like it could be off of Enemy of the World, especially with the group chant of “Rise or die trying” during the break down at the end of the song. This is one of the best songs on the album.
“Fight the Future” is the only song on the second half of the album that doesn’t get lost in the strand of six songs that are indistinguishable and unmemorable. The beginning of “Only the Meek Get Pinched, The Bold Survive” was a huge swing, but in the end a strike out. It was very disappointing to hear Four Year Strong end the album on such a low note after ending Enemy of the World with such a bang. It’s nice to see them try to go in a different direction with this song, but it was far from successful.
A lot of the tracks on In Some Way, Shape or Form blend together and there isn’t anything in them that stands out as original, exciting, or unforgettable. With the loss of their keyboardist they lost the part of their music that set them apart from other bands in their genre. That does not mean that the album is bad, it just means that it is comparable to other ‘pop-punk’ bands, and that they may get swallowed and lost in the genre. Don’t get me wrong, O’Connor and Day sound exceptional, but that is nothing new. It is admirable that they went for a different sound with the expulsion of the keyboard and synthesizers, but I wish they would have given a little more to make up for the loss.
Recommended If You Like: A Day to Rememver, Bayside, Set Your Goals
1. The Infected
2. The Security of the Familiar, the Tranquility of Repetition
3. Stuck in the Middle
4. Just Drive
5. Fairweather Fan
6. Sweet Kerosene
7. Falling on You
8. Heaven Wasn’t Built to Hold Me
10. Bring on the World
11. Fight the Future
12. Only the Meek Get Pinched, the Bold Survive
I stumbled across a band called Northshore a couple of months ago, and just from a quick listen they really impressed me. They are from Illinois, and unfortunately don’t get out of the state much which is disappointing because they are very talented musicians that I would love to see. They just released a new single titled “Spine” that is off their new album which is coming out in the New Year. Their instrumentals have a futuristic feel and very different from music that is out nowadays. Give their new single a listen on their Facebook or NorthshoreRocks.com.
Related if you like: Circa Survive, Brand New