Towards the end of 2020, Octopus Montage released three digital singles with accompanying video clips. In November, ‘A Shortcut (To The Unconscious Mind)’ gave their followers and potential new fans a glimpse of their heavier side via various glitchy metalcore riffs. Combined with a deep growling vocal, the track was reminiscent of earlier works by Her Dying Regret. [Watch the video here.]
It took three years for Teenage Halloween to follow up their ‘Eternal Roast’ mini album. Three years seems a long time to wait for just twenty three minutes’ worth of music, but we’re very much talking quality over quantity here. This self-titled disc from the New Jersey punky power poppers brings ten absolute bangers – songs so loaded with hooks and riffs that its power is immediately obvious. Musical originality isn’t high on the agenda, but its mix of 90s influences will positively resonate with any listeners who spent that decade loving Everclear, Lagwagon and SR-71. The music stands up well enough alone, but once you start to absorb the lyrics – largely concerned with mental health struggles, gay unity and standing with others in solidarity – it becomes one of the year’s most important DIY discs.
“[It] touches on the importance of words, their meaning and their power. The lyrics reflect on how words can be used to comfort, empower and encourage. But it also reflects on how they can be used to agitate, hurt and destroy,” says The Phoenix Within’s frontman Omar Feliciano of the band’s new single ‘Tenfold’.
Tackling the themes of using words to build relationships and bridges instead of using them to hurt, ‘Tenfold’ is already a powerful statement, regardless of the music. The track’s arrangement, luckily, has almost an equal power with a set of riffs that very much hark back to the 90s emo movement – specifically bands like Sense Field and Shift – which, combined with a thoughtful vocal performance, results in a fantastic three minute alt-rock tune that should appeal to fans of 90s sounds as well as lovers of bands like Fall Out Boy.
Following the release of their 2011 LP ‘There Are Rules’, pop punk band The Get Up Kids found that real life got in the way of art. Instead of continuing the never-ending cycle of recording and touring, band members took time out to raise families. Seven years is a long time in music – in any scene – but especially so when it comes to punk. One day you’re singing about skateboards and girls, then you’re in an adult world and somehow – unless you’re Joe Queer – those things that occupied teen and twenty something minds just don’t seem appropriate any more. Hell, on their self-titled album and ‘Neighbourhoods’ even blink-182 attempted to look at the world through maturer eyeballs. Some people didn’t like it…but at least they showed they could move on.
Within a year of forming, Bedfordshire based alt-rock metal band SEASONS (always capitalised) had released two EPs and embarked upon four tours. Obviously, they believe that it’s the hard work that gets you places, but what’s perhaps more impressive is how professional the band sounded straight off the starting blocks. Their second EP, ‘What Comes Around’ really captures a band keen to display a well honed, multi-layered sound while simultaneously really pushing for a distinctive identity. Sure, you’ll hear bits of other rock bands in there, from both alt-rock and emo spheres, and there’s a few clear influences, but rarely anything that feels like a direct lift.