Makeup For The Silence

The digital home of music writer Jesse Richman

Makeup For The Silence

Tag: Fall Out Boy

Makeup for the Silence – Best of 2014 Mixtape

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2014 Mixtape

It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been doing this as long as I have, and yet here we are for the fifth year in a row* with the annual Makeup For The Silence Mixtape.

The 2014 edition of my yearly mixtape feels darker, tetchier and more ruminative than last year’s compilation. Partly that’s deceptive: this year’s picks are angrier in their loudest, brightest moments, and more quiet when soft and sweet. Indeed, 2014 was my most blissful in recent memory, full of both personal joy (getting married) and professional success (my first print features in a decade), But as they say, energy flows where attention goes, and the tracks here that demand the most attention rage loudly enough to nearly eclipse the more subtle sweetness in between.

Only nearly, though. Part of the challenge of making the yearly mixtape is in the curation – there were more than 200 songs that made my running Top Tracks Of 2014 longlist**, and paring them down is some combination of making a CD-length document that actually flows as a well-sequenced album would without excluding anything absolutely essential to the year. I spend far more time than any human should working toward hitting the sweet spot each time out; hopefully, I managed it here.

The “no big radio hits” rule wasn’t really an issue this year (sorry Taylor); while I felt like 2014 was much more of a singles year than an albums year for me personally (more on that soon), it wasn’t because of anything on pop radio, which had a seriously down year compared to 2013. I feel like we’re headed toward an interesting intersection – it’s clear to me that the pop-EDM bubble has burst, and there’s definitely renewed interest in music made with traditional instruments, but nobody seems to quite know what to do with them yet (other than sample saxophones, ubiquitously). In the past that’s led to tremendously interesting and diverse years for pop music (think 90-91), but for some reason this year’s casting-about turned up little in the way of interesting experiments – at least not in the Top 40.

And yet the 23 tracks here barely tap the surface; there was tremendous breadth, if not depth, just below. This year’s mix features a pair of refugees from collapsed bands, each digging out of the rubble and starting anew in their own way; two tracks from the best band in the world you’ve never heard of; four minutes of guts-searing #emorevival; and four more of glorious, gossamer #softshread. It’s all in there, Frankensteined together into one rather dapper monster, if I do say so myself.

Enough talk. Download***, listen, enjoy.

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2014

  1. Free – Brent Walsh
  2. Royals (Remix) – T-Pain ft. Young Cash
  3. Tongue Talk – The Holidays
  4. Canyon Moon – Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  5. Coming Of Age – Foster the People
  6. Unconditional Love – Against Me!
  7. Queen of Hearts – Darlia
  8. Don’t Die in Yr Hometown – Antarctigo Vespucci
  9. American Beauty / American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
  10. Exclusive Coupe – MYRONE
  11. Long Night – Guster
  12. Nervous Kids – Tigers Jaw
  13. Brutal Truth – Foxy Shazam
  14. Your Deep Rest – The Hotelier
  15. Dear Diary – Darlia
  16. Giving Up – Allison Weiss
  17. I Told You So – Dazy (The Girl) ft. Derek Sanders
  18. Tear The House Up (Edit) – Herve & Zebra Katz
  19. Digital Witness – St. Vincent
  20. Eyeshadow – No Devotion
  21. Erosion – Cymbals
  22. Come Alive – Rachel Taylor
  23. XO – Roy English

click image to download

Stay tuned, The yearly Top Ten will begin in just a few days!

*you can always find the complete collection of mixes which have appeared on Makeup For The Silence, as well as all the playlists I’ve contributed to elsewhere, right over here.

**if you’d like to get a headstart on 2015, feel free to follow my running Top Tracks Of 2015 So Far playlist on Spotify. It’s barren right now but that won’t last long.

***just like the past two years, there’s a Spotify version of 2014’s mix available, but also like those years, there are a handful of tracks on the mix which aren’t currently available on the service. I love Spotify’s convenience, but I recommend downloading if you want the real deal – otherwise, you miss out on a few great songs, and also the sequencing. If you’re a Spotify user, it’s easy to import downloaded files into Spotify, I promise.

An Urge To Learn How To Do Backflips: American Beauty/American Psycho

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by Jesse Richman, edited by Erik van Rheenen

I’m trying to put together cogent thoughts, but “American Beauty / American Psycho” keeps careening by on repeat and I keep finding myself gasping for breath like I’ve been white-knuckle dodging trees and asteroids in some Star Wars contraption. I’ve never heard Pete Wentz’s bass snap and pop with such precision. Patrick Stump is going so rapid-fire that his ability to form words can’t keep pace with his heart; he repeatedly devolves from sentences to repeated catchphrases mid-lyric before abandoning words entirely for whoa-a-oh-a-ohs, and every time heart over head seems like the right choice, the obvious one, the only one, really. Meanwhile, Joe Trohman has never used absence so well, the empty space between his sporadic chunky riffs create a vacuum that sucks you forward like a vortex, and then there’s one moment where he randomly buzzes in for 10 seconds to drop some opening-bars-of-“When Doves Cry” Prince freakout shit.

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I felt some feels over the (insane, awesome) new Fall Out Boy single

#2 Album of 2013 – Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll

#2 – FALL OUT BOY – SAVE ROCK AND ROLL [spotify]

(feat. track – “The Phoenix” [spotify])

If 2013 had a theme for me, it was The Year Of Fall Out Boy. From January’s fevered discussions about how to break their return from hiatus, to February’s even-bigger-than-we-knew reveal, to April’s album launch, to the band’s endless parade of late nite TV appearances, to the six singles which charted on the Alternative, Pop or Rock charts – including the band’s best-selling single to date, the triple-platinum “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” – Fall Out Boy felt completely inescapable to me this year. And it was wonderful.

I spent more words on them than on anyone else, by a longshot. I loved the brashness of the aforementioned comeback single, calling it

a conflagration that rages and then fizzles as quickly as it began. It begs to be listened to on repeat. It’s the sort of triumphal blast that lifts you with it; midway through each play I slip into hazy fantasies of joining 2 Chainz in the track’s video, stomping and spraying fire like kids playing Godzilla.

I thought it was brilliant, the way they found a path to success in a world that no longer had time for rock and roll by being simultaneously a part of and apart from the radio mainstream, “rock as a katamari ball, a small core rolling up the constellations of pop in layers around it,” fearlessly incorporating discofied funk (“Where Did The Party Go”), vintage synth-pop (“Just One Yesterday”), acoustic swagger (“Young Volcanoes”) and jock-jam bombast (“My Songs…”), acting as if all those things belonged together on one album and then somehow making it so they didYou can even sing the chorus of “Just One Yesterday” in a country twang. Try it, it’s fun!

I loved the album’s title, noting that:

if there’s one hallmark that sets Fall Out Boy’s songs apart, it’s that somewhere in that alchemical cauldron where Patrick Stump assembles Pete Wentz’s words into songs, a sort of transubstantiation occurs. Fall Out Boy lyrics, at their best, don’t just contain the possibility for multiple understandings; rather, they are all of those possible meanings, wholly, and all at once. And on Save Rock And Roll, they’ve finally found an album title that’s capable of the same Olympian gymnastics.

I saw the band live six times, in every context imaginable: a tiny club in Austin mere weeks after the band’s surprise return from their indefinite hiatus; capping off a Perez Hilton-organized pop party; anchoring the first day of the biggest punk fest the world has ever seen, in their hometown Chicago; at a sold-out Barclay’s Center, on a victory lap of an arena tour, packing venues they wouldn’t have been fit to headline at peak of their popularity on their first go-round. Each time out, as their playing grew tighter and their staging more grandiose, I was increasingly impressed. It’s something to see a band six times in a year and to not only never feel let down, but to come away from each show a little more amazed than I was the time before.

I listened to it as much as anything in 2013: Save Rock And Roll was my #2 most played album of 2013 according to last.fm, and those numbers are a serious undercount – I listened to it as much, if not more, on other peoples’ devices as I did on my own, not to mention all those live shows, TV performances, radio ubiquity and more. Even listening to it now, tracks like “Rat-a-tat” and “Miss Missing You” sound as fresh and sharp today as they did nearly a year ago. I still get goosebumps when Patrick Stump hits that a capella vocal run the second before the final chorus of “The Phoenix” comes roaring back in.

I even turned my previously-unfamiliar girlfriend into a superfan. (And along the way, turned her into my fiancee too. And I’ve got to imagine that all those hours we spent listening to Save Rock And Roll together, all those nights seeing Fall Out Boy live together, played at least some little part in bringing us closer together than ever.)

So like I said at the outset, 2013 was Fall Out Boy’s year. Save Rock And Roll proved both better and more successful than anyone, including this guy who thought they had the best album of the year back in 2007, had any right to expect. I’m over the moon about it all. To paraphrase a character from the same source material as band’s name: Best. Comeback. Ever.

[album review] [single review] [live review – SXSW I] [live review – SXSW II] [live review – Riot Fest] [playlist – The Phoenix]

2013 Year In Review

Motley Crue – Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)

Last year, I wrote up a lengthy State Of The Scene report, almost inadvertently – it began as a few stray comments I intended to send in along with my Pazz & Jop ballot, and spiraled out into something much larger.Those comments, unsurprisingly, didn’t get printed (though two of my picks did manage to get called out in this piece!)

The irony is that, this year, there would be no sense in me sending in something similar. What, last year, seemed to me so far off the critical radar that I felt compelled to shine a spotlight on it, is this year such a glaringly obvious trend that there’s nothing I could write that wouldn’t be redundant of the excellent, and well-read, work this year by folks like Ian Cohen and Leor Galil. What was a thousand words last year can, this time out, be reduced to an #emorevival hashtag and a few links.

The real kicker? Not a single artist that could reasonably be called an emo revival act made my list of albums or singles that I submitted to the Voice this year, nor will any make my Top Ten here. I don’t think any are even making the final cut on my 2013 Mix. These acts are calling back to a generation of emo which precedes the discovery of melody, or theatricality, or ambition, or edge, even cartoony edge. There’s precious little of that sort of stuff in my personal canon – American Football’s album and the first two Owen CDs; Mineral‘s The Power Of Failing; early Bright Eyes, if you want to count that – but noodly sadboy navelgazing has never really been my scene.

Even the stuff I liked most from that era, like Jimmy Eat World‘s Clarity or Death Cab for Cutie‘s The Photo Album, place song structure, harmony and production values at their fore. Of all the things you could ape about late-90s emo, “lack of vitality” seems like a poor choice, and yet it’s the dominant mode of the day. So you can write an intricately fingerpicked, multi-movement suite without a single memorable hook or any shift in emotional tone? Congrats, you’re Yngwie Malmst-emo! Pick up your award at the circular file under my desk.

What excited me this year?Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace waving her identity like a battle flag on True Trans. Bands with guitars that made me want to dance, from Haim’s Days Are Gone and Chvrches The Bones Of What You Believe to SmallpoolsEP and The 1975’s self-titled album. Wonderful comeback albums from two acts that could be called emo revival, except that they were part of the terribly uncool* era of emo we’re currently trying to pretend never happened: Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock And Roll and Paramore’s Paramore.

*Even a metal purist acknowledges hair metal as a part of the genre’s history, even an important (if embarrassing) step in it’s development. Why is it that old-school emo fans consistently privilege cool over historicity and narrative?

Follow-ups from acts that made my list a year or two ago and managed not to disappoint, like OMD (the perfectly-titled English Electric) and Mansions’s Doom Loop. Nu-twang that sidestepped clap-n-stomp blustering of Mumfordcore in favor of something a little more personal, like Twin Forks’ EP and Lacey Caroline’s Songbird and Jimmie Deeghan’s Cheap Therapy. Side projects of old favorites that not only delighted but surprised, like WhitewaitsAn Elegant Exit (Rob Rowe of Cause & Effect) and The Here And Now’s Born To Make Believe, Part 1 (Alan Day of Four Year Strong). My every-third-year nu-gaze treasure, this time around from The History Of Apple Pie, Out Of View.

And pop. Pop! So much pop! It was the year of the superstar: Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Jay Z, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Drake and Katy Perry all put out albums that were deeply intriguing, each one for vastly different reasons. Some were great; most weren’t; even the failures contained some combination of perfect singles and deeply ambitious overreaches that made me want to figure out what went wrong, and why, and how.

And if this was the year pop superstars reasserted themselves, the pop underground held its own too. Some of my favorite pop jams came from folks who didn’t even register a blip on the mainstream radar, like Kelsey Chaos’ Out Of This World and Tilian’s Material Me, Cady Groves’ “Forget You” and roboteyesself-titled. Even Carly Rae Jepsen, the most unfairly-scarlet-lettered One Hit Wonder in recent memory, got in on the fun with maybe my favorite song of the year, ”Take A Picture“.

So you can count me out on scenes for now. This is the state of my scene, and that’s a scene of one. It’s a post-genre world, and the freedom to run from what doesn’t click with you is just as exhilarating as the freedom to dig into something new or uncool. That’s where I stood for a long time, before the 2000’s emo revolution sucked me in, and it’s to where I gladly return. Everything old is new again. It’s the same old, same old situation.

POZ Review: Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll

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*This review was composed by Jesse Richman and edited by Erik van Rheenen

Save rock and roll. 

A wink. A nod. A subtle roll of the eyes. Fall Out Boy has made a career out of self-deprecation, and on Save Rock And Roll, they pick up right where they left off four years ago. 

[…]

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Fall Out Boy put out an album today. I had some thoughts on it.

#7 Album Of 2011 – PATRICK STUMP – SOUL PUNK / TRUANT WAVE EP

(feat. track – “Dance Miserable” [spotify] from Soul Punk)

It’s no secret around here that I’m a big fan of just about everything Fall Out Boy did, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that I feel the same way about Patrick Stump’s solo releases.  Of all the post-FOB projects (Black Cards, The Damned Things, Burning Empires), Stump’s is really the only one I’ve connected with, and I’ve connected with it in a big way.

Partly it’s that voice – soulful, blustery, half confident and half that sort of fake confidence that gives away, more than masks, insecurity.  Partly it’s the sounds he toys with – I feel like there’s a serious funk current running thru pop right now (I found it this year in everyone from Lights to Cobra Starship) that’s right in my wheelhouse, and Stump plays it like a champ.  And partly it’s that the dude just writes really good tunes.

Last Fall, New York Times music columnist James C. McKinley Jr. raised the Internet’s hackles with a story on the dearth of protest songs revolving around the Occupy movement.  McKinley was taken to task (appropriately) for his deaf ear towards country and hip hop, perhaps the two most populist popular genres today, both of which have plenty to say on the subject. But if you’re the sort who’s insistent on getting your protest music from a white, male, rock-oriented performer, well I’m not sure anyone this year did a better job of harnessing, or at least elucidating, the zeitgeist than Stump.  Tracks like Soul Punk’s “Dance Miserable” and “Greed” and Truant Wave’s “As Long As I Know I’m Getting Paid” put a laser focus on the strains of disillusionment and cynicism that were largely inescapable this past year.  On an album that draws so much of its musical influence from the worlds of soul and funk, it’s hard not to trace lines from Stump’s 2011 work to albums like Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly soundtrack, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On, products of similar economic times and social upheaval.

Those are obviously some weighty comparisons to make, and while I do think Stump’s work measures up favorably, it has become apparent that it won’t have nearly the impact, despite the fact that both its sound and subject matter should have broad appeal.  To quote music journalist / Alternative Press Managing Editor Annie Zaleski on Stump, “[i]ncreasingly, any artist who’s been immersed in the Warped Tour/media-classified “emo” scene is branded with a scarlet letter, which prevents them from ever crossing over to a non-youth-oriented audience.“** This has held true throughout “emo”’s transition from obscure subgenre to mainstream scene, even as its sound transmogrified from hardcore to scruffily-melodic indie to stadium punk. It would be a stretch to say Truant Wave or Soul Punk retain much, if any, connection to any of “emo”’s many sounds, and Stump’s connection to its fanbase is now tangential at best (judging by the smallish crowds his headliner performances have drawn), but his history with that scene may have consigned him to permanent-Dangerfield status.

So be it.  Despite its strange little moment in the sun (for which Fall Out Boy arrived right on time), “emo” – and its purveyors – were never mean to be cool.  If Truant Wave and Soul Punk are consigned to being lost classics, well at least in the age of Bittorrent and Spotify they’ll merely be hidden in plain sight, always accessible to those who look hard enough.  And maybe someday, after all the social trappings have long fallen away, when nobody remembers exactly why things were supposed to be so cool or uncool and people have to start judging based just on the music, they’ll get their due.

review of Truant Wave EP (published 3/06/11)

review of Soul Punk (published 1/13/12)

**I realized while reading the commentary on the 2011 Pazz & Jop Poll that I may have unintentionally plagarized some of Ms. Zaleski’s comments regarding Soul Punk, which she had previously shared on twitter. I’ve gone back and rewritten a portion of this entry, as well as credited her where appropriate. Mea culpa; all apologies!  And if you enjoy smart, insightul and eminantly readable music writing, you should be following her on twitter or here; she “gets it”.

TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2007

(feat. track – Fall Out Boy – “The (After)Life Of The Party”)

Continuing with the posting of my previous years’ Top 10 lists, today you get my Top 10 Albums of 2007.  My assessment when I published this in January of 2008 was that 2007 had been a weak year for music.  And looking back, while I would definitely reconfigure my list some, I think that was a correct assessment.

I just went back and looked over a bunch of critics’ lists from that year, and there’s really not much on their lists either that I would listen to on anything close to a regular basis now.  I think it was a transitional year – a lot of bands were sort of figuring out what to do next (and not being especially successful with it that year), and the next wave of really good bands were a year away.  That said, there are some real winners on this list too – lets not  throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Looking back at my 2007 list, there’s a lot I really haven’t listened to much since then. Maybe it will get better with a couple years’ distance; maybe I was off the mark and a bunch of great releases got by me unnoticed. But regardless, I think it’s pretty certain that 2007 was a weak year for music, the weakest in a while. That said, all of these were enjoyable; perhaps it’s time to pull a couple back out and give a listen again.

10. Ryan Shaw – This Is Ryan Shaw
9. Paolo Nutini – These Streets
8.5 Nightmare Of You – Bang EP
8. Romantica – America
7. Everybody Else – Everybody Else
6. Vampire Weekend – Blue CD-R
5. The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour
4. Frank Turner – Sleep Is For The Week
3. Sherwood – A Different Light
2.5 The Sugi Tap – The Sugi Tap EP
2. Information Society – Synthesizer

and the winner is…

1. Fall Out Boy – Infinity On High

TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2005

(feat. track – Cartel – “Save Us (Alternate Take)”)

So for the next 4 days I’m going to post my Top 10 lists from the past 4 years, along with one cut from my choice for top album of each year.  Remember, these were the lists as I made them at the time.  In retrospect, there are a lot of great albums from some of these years that I didn’t discover until later, and some of my choices haven’t held up, but that’s the danger anytime you try and make a list I suppose.  These things naturally change over time. So consider these lists a snapshot of my view on each year in music, right at the conclusion of that year.

So with that said, my Top 10 Albums Of 2005 (originally published Jan 2006)

Top 10 Albums of 2005:

10. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
9. Mae – The Everglow
8. Gratitude – Gratitude
7. Bright Eyes- I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
6. Bob Mould – Body Of Song
5. The Rocket Summer – Hello Good Friend
4. Fall Out Boy – From Under the Cork Tree
3. Adam Richman – Patience And Science
2. Gatsby’s American Dream – Volcano

and the number one album of 2005 is…
CARTEL – CHROMA

Honorable Mentions:
Alkaline Trio – Crimson
Coheed And Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness
Death Cab For Cutie – Plans
The Higher – Histrionics
Marathon – Marathon
Maria Taylor – 11:11
The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
Pitty Sing – Pitty Sing

Song of the Year:
(tie)
Maria Taylor – One For The Shareholder
Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Follow You Into The Dark

(I should also note, I’m cheating just a tad here.  The version of Save Us I posted was originally recorded for Chroma, but it was later rerecorded in a different key.  My understanding is that vocalist Will Pugh couldn’t sing it in the original key night after night without shredding his voice – listening, it should be pretty clear why, and also clear why this version not only destroys the album cut but might also be my favorite thing Cartel has ever done).

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