Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#3 of my Top 12 Albums of 2013: The Other Side

Tonight Alive's The Other Side

Release Date: September 10th, 2013
Label: Fearless Records
Genre: Pop Punk

     I have been singing The Other Side's praises for months now, telling everyone that I know and everyone I don't know that this is the best rock or punk album of the year and I still stand by that claim.  I hate to make this comparison because everyone and their mother compares female-fronted rock and punk in this way, but If you like Paramore, you'll like, no, you'll LOVE Tonight Alive.  Let's go a step further, that Paramore album that everyone was looking forward to this year, while good, was definitely lacking, i'm sure people were looking for an album as energy-filled, fun and well-written as The Other Side and if you haven't deduced already, Paramore did not make this list.  It may be a controversial move because Paramore received many accolades for Paramore but it just didn't hold up to me when I compared it to their previous work.  If you want a better comparison, I would compared Tonight Alive to the band Icon For Hire, both are playing really good music and creating a sound all their own, and both are relatively new upstarts in the genre. I found Tonight Alive one night while surfing Spotify and instantly latched to this album, putting it on repeat four times that one night.  I then went back and looked at their previous album and the acoustic version of their previous album, What Are You So Scared Of?, and I still cannot believe that I had never listened to them before 2013.  I had really missed out on a gem of a band here but now that I have found them, they have become one of my most suggested bands and the band that I cannot wait to see how they progress in the future.

     Tonight Alive is a pop punk outfit from Sydney, Australia that began in 2008 while some of the band members were still in high school.  According to lead singer Jenna, the band noticed that they were something special once she graduated from high school and produced a couple EP's in 2009 and 2010 that garnered the attention of producer Mark Trombino, who has produced for Something Corporate, Jimmy Eat World and Silverstein.  Trombino contacted the band and helped them create their debut album What Are You So Scared Of? in 2011, which reached high on charts in Australia and the US and helped them land spots on tours around the world such as Warped Tour and Kerrang! Tour. I would also recommend this album to any fans of pop punk or the bands listed previously and I would specifically recommend the acoustic versions of the songs which are really addictive and incredibly prone to repeated plays.  In 2013, the followup album was recorded and released in September under a different producer, Dave Petrovic.  This album has everything you could ever want in pop punk or rock, uplifting songs, depressing self-contemplative songs and everything in between all with some really passionately constructed lyrics and melodies, every song stands out for me so it's hard to just choose three to talk about.

"Come Home"

     To start off, let's look at one of their songs that reached music video-status, "Come Home."  To be fair, they have two official music videos, one for "Come Home" and one for "Lonely Girl." both of which are good songs, but "Lonely Girl" is much more popular and I would like to outline those great songs on the album that aren't as discussed.  To do a quick sum, "Lonely Girl" is a really good punk anthem that talks about a friendship Jenna had in her high school years, it has a fantastic upbeat yet angry tone to it but is addicting to sing along to and has some good guitar riffs as well as some fantastic drumming from drummer Matt Best.  "Come Home" is a song that I enjoy much more, it has a quieter "pretty" sound to it that is more identifiable of their acoustic songs from their debut album but when the chorus kicks in, the song changes into a very happy sounding track that simply makes me smile every time I hear it.  It is a song that the band created to balance out more of the album by adding a more pop-oriented song to the listing and it speaks about a person who you had something special with that you wish would just return to you.  It's a standard concept to be honest but the lyrics in the song are so well written and genuine that you really feel for the person's plight and you can relate with them, particularly with the chorus that sounds happier because it entertains the possibility of what if the person came back and everything they would then do together.  For instance, just read/hear these lines:
And if you can't stay
I'll wait for the day
That you can be all mine, 
Stay up with you all night
So don't run away
I am the light, I will guide you home
Imagine if you were told something that sweet and nice, I don't know how you could stay away from the person who said it.  Its a very nice sounding song and one that instantly improves my mood when I listen to in, no matter what I am feeling, very well constructed track, but not my favorite.

"Complexes"

     "Complexes" is easily my favorite track on the album and the one that I usually start with when i let the album shuffle around songs. I really love the concept of the song, which Jenna explains in the above video is about the need to feel that someone is proud of you and helps you feel important, that what you do does receive some sort of acknowledgment and acceptance.  It is an issue I personally deal with so when I listen to this song I really connect with it and the lyrics, again, shine brightly in this track, clearly presenting the problem people like myself deal with and then creating a good upbeat chorus that Jenna basically belts.  The song smartly points out that it is not enough to say you are proud or happy a person is around when asked, it has to be something that you genuinely think about and point out to said person, that's when we know that you actually feel that way and not just saying it to avoid hurting our feelings.  The composition of the song is similar to the previous in that there are the quieter moments that focus squarely on Jenna backed by a chugging guitar and then the chorus explodes into a wall of sound that invites the listener to join in and rock out to vent out problems.  I would honestly recommend every single song on this album as I said before, they each stand out.  If I have to pick outr a few more to listen to in order to get more of the Tonight Alive feel, check out "Don't Wish," "Hell and Back," "The Other Side." "The Fire," and "Bathwater."

"The Fire"

     Jenna went through each track on the album on Vevo and discussed the purpose of each song and how it came about or why it was written and put on this album in particular so that is why I included those videos on here so you can get a perspective from the band directly on the songs.  It really is a good album and if you like rock/punk music and are even close to my generation (80's/90's babies), this is a very logical album to check out and listen to.  As much as the indie and pop rock was last year with Imagine Dragons and Of Monsters and Men, among many others, this year we did not have many bands that came out with full-length albums that were good throughout.  OneRepublic and Avril tried to make music and while each did have good songs, their albums did not hold up as well as Fall Out Boy or Tonight Alive.  The Other Side is really the best album you could find this year in terms of pop rock/punk, there were a few other contenders though that I will outline in the honorable mentions of 2013.

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