Top Ten Albums of 2015 [+ link to Mind the Gap]

As usual, I’ve made my list of the best albums of the year, including links to any reviews I wrote on them. You can click here for a playlist featuring two of my favourite songs from each release!

top ten of 2015

1) That’s the Spirit – Bring Me the Horizon
2) American Candy – The Maine
3) American Beauty/American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
4) Future Hearts – All Time Low
5) Life’s Not Out to Get You – Neck Deep
6) Blurryface – twenty one pilots
7) Life in Real Time – Paradise Fears
8) Automatic – Don Broco
9) Sounds Good, Feels Good – 5 Seconds of Summer
10) Vikings – New Politics

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.

What made your list of best albums?

Swim for the music that saves you

On November 15, we had the opportunity to see one of my absolute favourite singer-songwriters, Andrew McMahon.


You may recall I’ve talked about Andrew a couple of times before. I saw him last November, and I’ve been listening to him in some form or another for the last seven or eight years. I’ve made it a point to see him every time he’s in town since 2010, so this was my fifth time.

We missed the opening act, Lolo, because we chose to have dessert at Factory Girl instead, but since I doubted she would play “Miss Jackson” or “Centuries”, I didn’t mind missing her twenty minute set.

The next band to go on was The Griswolds. I’ve never heard of them, but I really enjoyed them! They were a great blend of the headliners, New Politics and Andrew McMahon, plus they’re Australian! They played an excellent version of Vance Joy’s “Riptide” (I did not know that Vance Joy is also Australian, so that was cool). Check them out if you’re looking for something to bop around to.

New Politics was up next. I’ve seen them twice before (once as a headliner, then again as an opening band), so I was a little perplexed when they were announced as Andrew McMahon’s tourmates because they don’t really have the same vibe. While I’m still on the fence as to whether or not their music makes sense together, there’s no denying how much fun New Politics is, especially live. Since the last two times I’ve seen them, they’ve released another album – this year’s Vikings – so it was nice to hear newer songs. Of course, the highlight of their set was still “Harlem”, though Andrew McMahon bounding out on stage for “Girl Crush” was pretty epic too.

Finally, Andrew himself came out. Surprisingly, he started out slow with the ballad, “Rainy Girl”, but immediately picked it up with “Dark Blue”, one of my and Ro’s favourite Jack’s Mannequin songs.

The set was a good mix of his solo stuff (“Canyon Moon”, “Halls”, etc) and songs from his his earlier career: the classic “I Woke Up in a Car”, a mellower version of “Punk Rock Princess”, the always outstanding “La La Lie” (New Politics came out for part of the song, and it was clear that they were all enjoying themselves), one of my other faves, “Swim” (which he dedicated to my Light the Night team captain Laurel!), and even the less popular “Bloodshot”. And, of course, he closed the show with the double whammy of awesomeness: “Cecilia and the Satellite” and “Synesthesia”.

For some reason, the crowd seemed particularly rowdy, and a couple of people were even escorted out before the show ended. If you’re not familiar with Andrew McMahon, all you need to need is that he’s a laid-back California dude who sings songs about love and finding yourself. So having a heckler in the audience or spotting two drunk girls fighting another girl for a balloon (both of which happened!) isn’t something that’s normal at one of his shows. As upsetting as it is to see a performer get mad, I liked that he made a point to call out people who were being disruptive, and made sure they understood that he doesn’t tolerate that kind of behaviour, especially in light of recent tragic events. Why go to a show if you’re just going to ruin it for everyone else?

Boisterous people aside, it was a fantastic show that left me with a scratchy voice and a mild post-concert depression the next morning. I absolutely recommend Andrew McMahon – with about fifteen years of material, I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

I don’t know where you’re going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul?

Um, so I kinda forgot to do this review earlier…my bad…but Ro has insisted that I write one anyway, even though it’s been a week since the show.

Last Wednesday (June 25th), we saw Fall Out Boy for the fourth time (it was also, incidentally, Ro’s birthday).

You may recall that we last saw FOB in September and it was awesome.  Naturally, they were equally (or perhaps more) awesome this time.

Andy, Patrick, Joe, and Pete.

Opening for them was New Politics (who we saw in January). They put on a very energetic show and I’m sure they’re enjoying playing to arena-sized crowds instead of their usual smaller club shows. Highlights of their set were “Harlem” and “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, plus there is David (the singer’s) mini break dancing performance which is impressive (the man can stand on his head! Without support! For like a minute!) and worth seeing.

Next up was Paramore. I’ve seen about a minute of Paramore’s live set before (a couple of years ago at Warped) – I’ve never been a huge fan, so they were never at the top of my list of bands to see. Their most recent album is considerably happier than the angsty stuff they put out when I first started listening to them in high school (I’m looking at you, Riot!), and I really like “Ain’t It Fun”, so hearing it live was a lot of…fun. They also had confetti cannons that went off 3-4 times during the set which, while it startled me each time, added a certain sense of whimsy.

Admittedly, my inner 17 year-old was stoked to hear “Misery Business”, and I really liked that Hayley pulled a girl out of the crowd to help her sing the last bridge and verse. It was almost hard to believe that it was spontaneous because the girl a) was a pretty good singer and b) was able to match Hayley’s energy (i.e. running around the stage) perfectly. But it was still a great experience.

Finally, the moment we were all waiting for: the lights went out, the screen dropped, and Fall Out Boy appeared in all their glory.

The setlist was, of course, amazing – really, are there any bad FOB songs (I don’t know, I personally don’t love “Golden” or “The Mighty Fall”, but they’re not bad): opening with “The Phoenix” and powering through another 15-17 songs before their encore: “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and the perfect closer, “Saturday”. There’s something about “Saturday” that just makes me want to rage all over the place.

FOB has also really upped their on-stage effects: their lighting is always well done, but this time they had fireworks/fire shooting out of the stage (incredibly fitting during “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark”) and smoke machines. An excellent – and mildly terrifying – moment came at the end of “Save Rock and Roll” when the plague mask-wearing death-like creature suddenly appeared on stage in a puff of smoke, only to disappear seconds after the song ended. I don’t know where he came from, but it was creepy as heck.

The creature shows up near the end of the video.

FOB are always really solid live: Patrick’s voice continues to improve every time I see them – and, even though he did ramble for a bit, it seemed like Pete didn’t talk quite as much as he normally does. The other two – Joe and Andy – don’t talk at all, but their performance is consistently on point, especially Andy (the drummer) who was involved in a mid-set drum battle against Patrick and continued to happily pound away without any faltering. Needless to say, they met and then exceeded my expectations, and I can only look forward to more music from them, hopefully in the near future.

Shake it like a bad girl up in Harlem

After almost two months of concert withdrawal, I FINALLY went to my first show of 2014 last night: New Politics.

Soren, Louis, and David.

At least two of them are from Denmark (I believe Louis, the drummer who replaced their original Danish drummer, is American…don’t quote me on it, though!), which is awesome because I don’t remember ever listening to a Danish band before.

I heard “Harlem” on idobi radio a few months ago, made a note to download it, and then forgot about it again until New Year’s Eve when they played in Vegas. Ten seconds after their performance ended, I looked up tour dates and texted Ro with “I just found our January concert”.

Contrary to what Ro, Nina and I thought, the lyric is NOT “shake it like a black girl up in Harlem”. Even though it sounds like it is.

I don’t really remember much about the two opening bands, Sleeper Agent and Magic Man. They were enjoyable in that “they’re the opening band so I’ll listen to them politely, clap when prompted, and maybe tap my feet to the catchy songs, but mainly I want them to go away so that I can see the band I want to see” way.

New Politics came on at 10pm, and played a solid 16-17 songs, including a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” plus about five minutes of lead singer David break dancing across the stage, which is kind of his thing. The only problem is his skillz are hard to appreciate when you’re standing at the back of the room and you can’t really see the stage because of the crowd. So we basically just saw his flailing arms and legs (Nina, at one point, described the moves as being similar to the Muppets).

Despite the poor sight line, they still put on a super fun show – lots of dancing, little bits of screaming (especially in the older songs), and tons of enthusiasm (mainly from the band, though I think the crowd in the “pit” were more responsive than the people standing near the back – excluding us, I mean, since we were clearly dancing). We couldn’t understand Soren (the “o” in his name has a line through it, but I don’t know how to do that) whenever he spoke, but whether it was due to an accent (what does a Danish accent sound like, anyway?), or because he was practically eating the microphone, I’m still not sure.

Either way, they were great, I’ve been singing “Tonight You’re Perfect” in my head on and off since I woke up, and I’m definitely looking forward to singing/dancing along in June when they open the Fall Out Boy/Paramore tour!