There was lots of other good albums this year, including Knuckle Puck’s Copacetic, The Wonder Years’ No Closer to Heaven, Young Guns’ Ones and Zeros, Muse’s Drones, We Are Harlot’s self-titled debut, and Nate Ruess’s solo release, Grand Romantic.
As you may (or may not) recall, one of my very favourite bands, The Maine, put out an excellent album earlier this year called American Candy. It grew on me to an almost obsessive degree, and I’ve listened to it at least once a week since seeing The Maine in early May. Not ones to sit idly by when they can be playing live music, The Maine recently embarked on their second North American tour of the year, only this time, their tour dates were split in half: the Free For All Tour and the American Candy Tour.
The Free For All, as you would suspect, means that the concert is literally free for anyone – they are quite possibly the first band to attempt such a crazy notion and, so far, it seems to be working in their favour. Unfortunately, the Free For All tour did not extend to Toronto – instead, they played their latest album in full, which I think is actually the better deal.
This was amazing for two reasons: one, because it gives us a chance to hear songs live that they wouldn’t normally play (non-singles like one of my favourites, “Am I Pretty?” or slow songs like “24 Floors”); and two, because one of my best concert memories is seeing The Maine play their third album, Pioneer, in full (December 2011).
They could have just played the album – all 40-something minutes of it – then dropped their instruments and walked away, but, being the extraordinary performers they are, they played the first nine songs in album order then played another six older songs before ending the night with the album closer, “Another Night on Mars”. The club was packed – they played the Mod Club which is the smallest venue I’ve seen them in – and it was sweaty and hot, but man, was it a good time. Despite the people who felt the need to have a drink every ten seconds (which resulted in them walking back and forth to the bar), the crowd was lively and energetic, and the band fed off of it, putting on one heck of a show.
Along for the ride was new band Beach Weather; composed of Nick Santino (formerly of A Rocket to the Moon, he just so happens to be another one of my favourite singer-songwriters), plus dudes from other bands including (possibly) The Technicolors (I honestly don’t remember who the other three guys are).
As I tweeted after their set: I love Nick Santino and I love a sexy bass line and, since Beach Weather has both, I think I might love them too. Check them out for some rock ‘n’ roll vibes!
All in all, I can’t think of a better way to have spent my Labour Day than with some of the hardest working dudes in the business.
One of my favourite things in the world is going to a The Maine concert. I know, it’s awfully specific, but I love those guys so much, and they always put up on an incredible show.
We saw them for the seventh time on Saturday (technically eighth, since we attended an acoustic session/meet & greet with them in the morning).
Garrett, Pat, John, Kennedy, Jared
I have to confess, we missed the first band, The Technicolors, because we were next door at Factory Girl eating chicken wings (highly recommend, by the way). But we saw The Technicolors in November when they opened for Nick Santino, so we didn’t feel too bad (plus those chicken wings were really good).
Next up was Knuckle Puck. We saw them last year (opening for Man Overboard), and I remember enjoying them. They’re like a non-Welsh version of Neck Deep – pure, unapologetic pop-punk. I think I downloaded them a while ago, but I’m definitely going to give them another listen!
They’re friends with Neck Deep, which makes so much sense.
The other opening band (and, arguably, a draw for a quarter of the crowd) was Real Friends. We’ve seen them too, when they opened for The Wonder Years last year (on my 24th birthday!). They’re like an angstier (angstyer?) version of The Wonder Years, a bit more whiny, and honestly, their songs all start to sound the same after a while. I don’t mind them, but I probably wouldn’t see them on their own i.e. if they’re not touring with another band I like.
The best part was when they played “Loose Ends” with Kennedy (from The Maine) joining them on guitar and the singer from Knuckle Puck came out for a verse. I love when bands join each other on stage!
Sidenote: both Real Friends and Knuckle Puck are a bit more “punk” than The Maine, who, especially in recent years, veer more towards the “rock” end of the spectrum, but I found it interesting that a) these bands were touring together and b) both opening bands emphasized how different their sound is compared to the headliners. I guess it was an “explanation” of sorts for people who aren’t necessarily pop-punk fans and were maybe thrown off by the openers, but I thought it was great that The Maine was bringing out a variety of bands and giving them a chance to play “bigger” venues.
Finally The Maine came on stage. This tour is in support of their new album, American Candy, so they played quite a few new songs. At the same time, they played some of their “classics”: John played “Into Your Arms” acoustic (and cracked jokes the entire time), and two of the songs near the beginning – “Run” and “Growing Up” – were reworked so that they flowed better with the new material.
One of the first The Maine songs I really loved.
They also played a cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (by The Rolling Stones), and it was incredible. I’ve heard them cover many random songs, but this one really fit with their current sound, and they did a fantastic job. It was also impressive that they managed to segue seamlessly into “Love & Drugs”.
Like I said, seeing The Maine live is one of my very favourite things in the world. They’re always so full of energy, they’re surprisingly funny (looking at their serious promo shots, you wouldn’t really think that they have a sense of humour, but they do), and of course, the music is always amazing. They’re one of those bands that I start missing as soon as the last chord fades out. If you’re into pop rock with meaningful lyrics, give these guys a chance. You won’t regret it.
2015 is shaping up to be an incredible year for new music. Similar to what I did for Fall Out Boy’s American Beauty/American Psycho, here is my track-by-track review of The Maine’s new album, American Candy, which dropped last Tuesday. It’s basically my feelings about each song (and I have a lot of feelings when it comes to The Maine. I love them so much).
Sidenote: I don’t know why so many bands are throwing the word “American” into their album titles (as a Canadian, I’m a tiny bit offended), but whatever floats their boat, I guess.
1) “Miles Away”
Favourite lyric: In my mind, I’m miles away.
So far, this is my favourite song off of American Candy. I mentioned it a few weeks ago when they released the lyric video, and it really does speak to me (like I said, I’ve basically decided this will be my The Maine tattoo). It’s a cute intro to the album – maybe not in-your-face, but a nice set-up for what’s to come. Sonically, it’s the next logical progression for them to make (if you listen to the deluxe/bonus songs from 2013’s Forever Halloween).
2) “Same Suit, Different Tie”
Favourite lyric: You don’t need high-priced designs to feel dressed up to the nines
I like the message in this song: you “don’t need much of anything” to be happy, to do your thing, to feel good about yourself once in a while. It works really well back-to-back with the next track, “My Hair”, since they’re both about doing what makes you happy. Plus it’s catchy and boppy and you’ll find yourself singing along in no time.
3) “My Hair”
Favourite lyric: See I don’t care if you all care, It’s on my head and it’s not your hair
This one totally has a Nick Santino/A Rocket to the Moon vibe (I would not be surprised if I learned that Nick Santino had something to do with this song). The chorus, the guitars, the repetition at the end – it would not sound out of place on Wild & Free (ARTTM’s second – and last – album, released in 2013). And I’m okay with that.
Other than that, it’s amusing that they’re basically saying “we’re going to do whatever we want – deal with it”, because if there’s one thing The Maine excels at, it’s doing whatever the frick-frack they want (please see: the last two albums, plus an acoustic EP, plus a deluxe edition, plus numerous random acoustic tracks that they’ve self-released after getting out of a major label contract).
4) “English Girls”
Favourite lyric: Smoke whatever you’ve got left, it’s getting late and we don’t have much to lose
I already talked about this when it first came out, and my feelings haven’t changed. It was the perfect first single from this album because it really gives you an idea of the overall tone.
5) “24 Floors”
Favourite lyric: You don’t want to die tonight, Take one more breath to clear your mind
This is the track that sounds like a Forever Halloween b-side. It’s a little darker than the previous songs; in fact, I didn’t realize how serious it was until I looked at the lyrics. Like a lot of The Maine’s songs, you don’t necessarily notice the subject matter right away because you’re being swept away by the instrumentation, but it’s always worth looking at the lyrics, which tend to pack quite the punch.
6) “Diet Soda Society”
Favourite lyric: Oblivion is where I’m headed, My mind is on the brink of going supernova
This is my least favourite track – which is not to say I hate it. It just doesn’t stand out to me. Oddly, it reminds me of “Kennedy Curse” on Forever Halloween; it’s a perfectly nice song, but I’m very “meh” about it. The only reason I remember it is because I had to listen to it four times before it stuck in my head long enough for me to come up with some commentary!
7) “Am I Pretty?”
Favourite lyric: Am I pretty? Do people like me yet?
While those are my favourite lyrics, I find it hysterical when John O’Callaghan says “you think I’m ugly (don’t you) and I know you hate my body” because, I mean, have you seen the man??
He’s not pretty, he’s BEAUTIFUL.
ANYWAY, back to the song…
I think this is going to be my jam. It’s so fun, I love the guitar at the beginning (and of course, that “ba ba ba” part in the chorus) and I can just imagine shouting along to it. I also can’t stop dancing to it, so I know it’s going to figure heavily in any soundtrack I make this summer. It’s a little more Black & White (2010) than Pioneer (2011), but it’s still very much The Maine.
Favourite lyric: I’m unaware where I’m going, or if I’m going anywhere at all. But I know I’ll take the leap if it is worth the fall
This song keeps getting stuck in my head and I really like it. It doesn’t immediately sound like The Maine – when I woke up singing it, I had to wrack my brain trying to figure out where I had heard it. But, like “24 Floors”, it has a fairly serious message once you listen to it.
9) “American Candy”
Favourite lyric: Try to think back to a time when you loved what you loved because you loved it
At first, Ro and I worried that this would be another Forever Halloween – where the title track is mediocre compared to the rest of the album. After a second listen, this is not the case. While “American Candy” starts off slow, it picks up with a powerful chorus, and it’s sugary sweet and infectious – just like candy.
10) “Another Night on Mars”
Favourite lyric: What’s another night on Mars? With friends like ours, anywhere is home
The first time I listened to this, I immediately likened it to “We’ll All Be” from The Maine’s first album, 2008’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. I think this is very much an updated version of it; instead of reassuring that we all will “be the greatest, we all have been degraded”, it uses gang-vocals to remind us that we always have other people to support us.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the best “new music” week ever: singles from All Time Low, The Maine, and Muse!
This resulting in me wondering if I had perhaps died and gone to “awesome new music” heaven i.e. I felt like this:
Kids in the Dark – All Time Low
Admittedly, this video kinda reminds me of You Me At Six’s “Lived a Lie” (at least the part with the band in the studio, not the paint-splattered kids), but I’m actually okay with that.
It’s an excellent song; I feel the same way about this as I did about “Something’s Gotta Give“: it’s fairly poppy, but the lyrics are totally vintage ATL.
Miles Away – The Maine
Ahh, why are they so cute?! Again, poppier than 2013’s Forever Halloween, but makes perfect sense with “English Girls“.
Also, I’ve been trying to find The Maine lyrics that I’d want tattooed (there are just so many options), but this song has pretty much cemented “in my mind, I’m miles away” as the perfect choice.
Psycho – Muse
Muse is back, baby!
I’ve seen a lot of comments/reviews complaining about the sub-par lyrics (fine, “your ass belongs to me” isn’t the most eloquent thing Matt Bellamy has ever said/sung), but that riff is classic Muse (no, literally; they’ve been playing it live as an outro (I think?) to “Stockholm Syndrome” for years), so it evens out.
I remember hearing “Madness” for the first time before 2012’s The 2nd Law came out and being surprised at the direction they were going in. This single marks a return to their old sound; some comments have compared it to Black Holes &Revelations-era songs and since that’s my favourite Muse album, I’m even more excited for Drones now.