Something like a crisis, a quarter life gone by

I accidentally posted this yesterday when I was saving a draft, so I apologize if you receive duplicate notifications.

It’s August, which means it’s time for my traditional second Paradise Fears show of the year (the first being back in February).

I don’t remember the name of the person who opened, mainly because he mumbled a lot and I couldn’t quite understand him. But it didn’t really matter because William Beckett was up next.

I’ve been meaning to do a WB Music Monday post but haven’t gotten around to it yet. He was the singer for The Academy Is… who I loved (and still love). He’s always been one of my favourite singer-songwriters and his live performances are always entertaining: even though it’s literally just him, a guitar, and his laptop (or “band in a box” as he calls it). A highlight of his set was when Sam and Michael (from Paradise Fears) joined him on stage for a new song.

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Just putting it out there: William instagramed this shot which was taken by my good friend, Jane. 

Next was Against the Current. I’ve never heard of them before, so I was surprised to find out they had a female singer. Their songs were quite catchy and I’ll probably look them up (eventually). They – rather boldly – covered “Chocolate” by The 1975; while they made an admirable effort, I feel like that’s a song that’s uncoverable – you can try, but you can never quite mimic Matt Healy’s way of slurring the words together (but maybe I’m just biased). They did an excellent job covering Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun”, though.

Finally, the moment I was waiting for: Paradise Fears.

As I tweeted yesterday, I could see them live a thousand times, and I’d still be awed. They are incredibly talented and their live show has only gotten tighter in the past few years (take it from someone who’s seen them 7 times as openers and headliners).

They put so much passion, energy, and enthusiasm into their live shows and it’s amazing to watch. They’ve always been good performers, but each time I see them, they seem to take it up a notch and just keep on improving.

The setlist was one of the best (though I think I say that after ever PF show): old songs and new, including my current obsession “You To Believe In”:

They haven’t released the official video yet, but I like how Sam makes the others start clapping. An acoustic performance like this also shows their raw talent.

Aside from three new songs – “You To Believe In”, “Color” (which has a Jack’s Mannequin vibe to it and I mean that in the best way possible), and “Reunion” (a song so new, I’ve never heard it until now – plus it featured Sam solo on the piano which was wonderful) – they played quite a bit from 2011’s Yours Truly, and, of course, a lot off of 2013’s Battle Scars. They also did two covers: Macklemore’s “Same Love” and Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap”. Both are songs that I had never heard before PF released covers, so I automatically prefer them to the originals.

There’s no video for their “Boom Clap” cover either, except for their tour trailer.

Before the show, I had meet & greet, and the guys were as sweet and welcoming as they always are. They took pictures and stood around for an hour listening to fans; Jordan, Sam, and Cole also did an acoustic version of one of their first songs, “Fall On Me”, which was beautiful. Another fan had made hearts with the band members’ names on it and was handing them out, asking people to hold them up during “Battle Scars”. It was a heart-lifting (no pun intended) moment, especially seeing the looks on the guys’ faces when they saw the crowd.

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This picture was also taken by Jane. Look at how big Sam’s smile is!

Sidenote: Since I haven’t mentioned her before, you might has guessed that this was the first time Jane came to a show with me. I introduced her to PF about 2-3 months ago (when I was wearing my “Battle Scars” t-shirt and she asked where it was from), and, being a long-time WB fan, she decided on a whim to join me at last night’s show. I’m happy to say that she – in her own words – is now a “Paradise Fears convert”.

Top 10 (but actually 15) of 2013

For my last Music Monday of 2013, I thought I’d do something different. Lots of music publications have been sharing their “End Of The Year” lists over the past couple of weeks, so I put together my own top 10 albums, limiting myself to albums I actually (physically) own.

Thus, in no particular order, here are my top 10 releases of 2013 (including my favourite song from each – sorry that I’ve used some of these songs in past Music Monday posts):

1) Save Rock & Roll – Fall Out Boy

When FOB announced their return after a 4 year hiatus, my heart (and Twitter feed) exploded with excitement. Save Rock & Roll is a fantastic album that combines classic FOB with their newer, somewhat more mature outlook on life and music in general.

2) Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die – Panic! at the Disco

P!ATD can do no wrong in my book, and their 4th album continues their trend of always surprising their fans by never sticking to one sole genre and experimenting with different musical elements. They’re still as charming as ever, though!

3) Forever Halloween – The Maine

A little more mature, a little more rock & roll than their previous efforts, The Maine never fails to delight me. Plus the amount of time and effort they spend on making new music for their fans is incredible: 2013 also saw the release of their “Imaginary Numbers” EP, approximately 6 months after their full length album dropped.

4) Sempiternal – Bring Me The Horizon

One of the more recent bands for me (I’ve been listening to them for about a year and a half, maybe less), this album allowed singer/screamer Oli Sykes a chance to use clean vocals (whereas before it was all screaming all the time), and it made them more accessible to people who aren’t necessarily metal fans.

5) Battle Scars – Paradise Fears

I love these guys and they consistently put out great songs, whether it’s a cover of a current pop hit, or something as deep and meaningful as this album’s title track, “Battle Scars”.

6) Legendary – The Summer Set

This third album from the Arizona quintet features songs that combine fun danceable jams with slightly more serious undertones – for example, the title track, “Legendary”, which touches on the idea of growing up and also references “How I Met Your Mother”.

7) Burnout – Anarbor

Seeing Anarbor at Warped this past summer made me realize that a) their singer, Slade, got a lot better looking and b) (on a less superficial note) they may have disappeared for a while between albums, but they’re still as fun and refreshing as ever.

8) Old Souls – Deaf Havana

Though it technically won’t be released in North America until mid-January (I picked up a copy in London at the beginning of December), this album continues Deaf Havana’s shift from semi-screamy to alternative-but-still-catchy-as-heck.

9) Genuine & Counterfeit – William Beckett

I love anything WB touches and his first full length solo album is no exception.

10) Wild & Free – A Rocket to the Moon

As sad as it was to see ARTTM split up shortly after the release of their long-awaited sophomore album, they went out with a bang!

HonourROble mentions (aka albums that my sister Ro owns):

1) Opposites – Biffy Clyro

Their SIXTH album helped solidify them as a certifiable rock band and one that everyone needs to see at some point because their live shows are crazy-energetic.

2) Bad Blood – Bastille

So catchy, so fun, so good to see live. These guys are talented and I hope we see more of them in 2014 and beyond.

3) The 1975 – The 1975

Ditto. (though for some reason, these guys get more recognition than Bastille, even though they probably fall into the same genre).

BONUS BESTS OF 2013:

EP: The Pop Underground – Andrew McMahon

Remember when I said I love everything William Beckett touches? The same goes for Andrew McMahon, including his first solo EP. I’m pretty sure I listened to “Synesthesia” on repeat for over an hour when it first came out.

Re-Release: Don’t Panic, It’s Longer Now – All Time Low

Just when I thought 2012’s “Don’t Panic” couldn’t get any better, ATL re-released it and included 4 new songs, as well as 4 acoustic tracks. I had a hard time picking between “A Love Like War” and “Canals” as my favourite new song, but I absolutely adore this video (if I was making a list of favourite videos, this would probably be numero uno).

Plus, I didn’t even consider Mayday Parade’s Monsters in the Closet because I’ve only listened to a handful of songs. And just this past weekend, I bought Pierce the Veil’s Collide With the Sky and The Wonder Years’ The Greatest Generation, but they both need another 2-3 listens before I can pass judgement.

Here’s hoping 2014 brings even more fantastic albums!

Then we’ll turn it up and we’ll play a little faster

I’ve been in a very The Academy Is… mood lately (I’m listening to them right now!). Probably because I put “Winter Passing” on a Christmas mix for myself and listening to it reminded me of how much I love TAI.

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Michael Guy Chislett, Adam “Sisky” Siska, William Beckett, Andy “The Butcher” Mrotek, and Mike Carden.

I always refer to them by their full names…except I always refer to Andy as “the Butcher” (side note: I  loooove the Butcher).

You can skip this next paragraph as I reminisce about the first time I heard TAI:

It was a friend’s 17th birthday party and we were listening to a mixed CD. I only heard parts of songs, but for days I had the lyrics “Hollywood hills and suburban thrills” floating in my brain. I’m not sure why I didn’t just google it (unless I did and didn’t find any results?) and I could never remember to ask my friend what song it could be. And then another friend made me a mixed CD and I distinctly remember listening to it at work and freezing mid-slice (I was chopping fruits), because THAT SONG came on and I had to listen to it 7 times in a row (that could be an exaggeration, but I definitely listened to it on repeat for DAYS).

That song was “Slow Down”, which is still one of my favourite TAI songs:

THEY LOOK SO YOUNG IN THIS VIDEO!!!

After that, I was pretty much hooked on TAI. I ran around buying their albums (my favourite always has, and probably always will be, 2007’s Santi) and waited anxiously for them to tour, until I finally saw them live in November 2009. They were incredible. William Beckett has insane stage presence and I remember how everyone around me lost it when he leaned into the crowd. I was so close and yet so far (though now I can proudly say I’ve met him TWICE and my inner 17-year old cried after the first time).

That was the only time I saw TAI live, because, two years later, they broke up (I don’t like talking about that…). I’m pretty sure I just listened to this for about a week after I found out:

Take the pain out of love and then love won’t exist.

It’s one of my most favourite videos ever. I always thought it was beautifully done, with everything moving backwards (you know what else is beautiful? Santi-era William Beckett in a leather jacket. YOU WERE THINKING IT TOO, DON’T DENY IT).

But now TAI are no more. I’m not sure what the two Michaels are doing, but Sisky was the bassist for Say Anything at one point (he might just be a touring member). The Butcher has been making music (he may be in a new band!) and William Beckett is now a solo artist (I’ll talk about his new music on a different Monday).

And TAI fans are just left watching the “About A Girl” video and thinking, “yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel right now”:

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I’M NOT IN LOOOOVE, THIS IS NOT MYYYY HEART