Tag Archives: kathryn placer

Where Are They Now?: Pop-Punk Bands

Every teenager needs to go through a phase of listening to
angsty, dramatic music. In my generation, a great number of us turned to pop-punk.
Now that most of us are college-age or older, the whole genre is glossed with
nostalgia. In light of that I decided to update you on where some of your (and
my) favorite pop-punk bands are now.

The bands to fall into two categories: the ones that broke
up and the ones that are still together. Like all good friends should, I’ll
start by telling you the bad news.

They Broke Up

Blink-182

The official status of Blink-182 is “it’s complicated”, but
I think it’s safe to say that they won’t be making new music anytime soon. Or
at least not as the same band you remember listening to on your CD player. Your
use of “ancient technology” makes sense because they originally formed in 1992,
making them the earliest band on this list. Since then, they’ve broken up and
gotten back together a few times, but their most recent break up seems pretty final. 

Their last complete album, Neighborhoods,
consisted of all three original band members and came out in 2011 to mixed
reviews. As much as people may want this staple of the ‘90s to remain whole,
they just can’t seem to keep it together. The fact of the matter is, all the members
are total grown-ups now, and that just doesn’t fit in with the immaturity and “your
mom” jokes that made them famous.

My Chemical Romance

I hate to be the one to tell you this if you haven’t already
heard, but My Chemical Romance broke up. A while ago, in 2013 to be specific. And
with them, broke the heart of every one of their die-hard fans. They basically
defined Emo music, so it makes sense that they were constantly hailed as one of
the best pop-(mostly punk) bands of the 2000s. If you miss the guyliner and
purposefully dreary aesthetic that followed them around, don’t fret, because
there’s a giant collection of songs and music videos you can go back to
whenever you want, including their last legitimate album, 2010’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous
Killjoys
.

Luckily, a lot of bands held a much more positive fate,
bringing up the second category.

They’re Still
Together

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy’s story is a bit complicated because they took
a 4-year hiatus back in 2009. But to the relief of all their fans, they “got
the band back together” in 2013. They’ve had a really successful run as of late
and they appear to be, dare I say it, even more popular than before. The hiatus
may have even been a good thing for them. (That is definitely not to be taken
as a suggestion to other bands to break up.) Their newest album, American Beauty/American Psycho came out
this past January and pleased both unfamiliar and well-versed listeners alike. 

Then:

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Now:

Paramore

Luckily, Paramore is still going strong. They sound a lot different now, sure.
But it’s a good different. The actual face of the band has changed drastically.
What once was a five person band is now made up of only three. The renovated group’s
most recent album, Paramore was
released in 2013. I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally think it’s even
better than some of their old stuff. It’s a lot more pop-oriented, but it
works. In a recent interview, lead singer Hayley Williams said that a
new album is likely, the band is just in the “dreaming it up” stage. Keep your
eye out for that one.

Then:

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Now:

All Time Low

Technically, All Time Low has one of the later beginnings of
bands from this list, so it should come as no surprise that they’re still together.
Their latest album, Future Hearts,
came out just earlier this year in April and I’m happy to say that it’s just as
good as the rest of their stuff. It’s a comfort to know that some things don’t
change. Go listen to their old stuff. Listen to their new stuff. It’s all good
and will likely inspire a whole new generation to pick up electric guitars and
write lyrics based on the confusing horror show that is growing up.

Then:

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Now:

Don’t forget to tune into your old favorites every
once in a while.

-Kathryn Placer

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Kathryn Placer

Album Review: We the Kings – Strange Love

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I had high hopes for We the King’s
newest album, Strange Love. The band
has been going strong for about ten years, and there have been very few songs
that have earned them negative criticism. But no band is perfect, and they were
bound to make a let-down album eventually. Unfortunately, Strange Love seems to be that album.

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The first track off the album, “Love Again”, had me
disappointed from the get-go. Clearly meant to be a dance-pop anthem, its beats
don’t succeed in being catchy and are instead just annoying and monotonous. Upon
listening to the album in its entirety, I realized that it doesn’t sound
like it belongs at all. If I hadn’t known it was by We the Kings, I would have ascribed
it to any up-and-coming boy band. It may be We the King’s attempt at
manufacturing a radio-bound pop single, but in my opinion they just tried too
hard.

“From Here to Mars” is another song that seems to emphasize
the Pop nature of the band. Luckily, it is done a lot better than in the previous song. It builds up
nicely from an almost acoustic ballad into an actually pleasant up-beat melody with
catchy lyrics to make it even better. It’s not the best song I’ve ever heard in my
life, but it’s definitely an improvement from the obnoxious “Love Again”.

If anything, the saving grace for the album is definitely “Howl
at the Moon”. It sounds like nothing else that’s on the radio today, and that
works out fantastically. Innovative beats course through the whole song, making
the album exciting again. If all the songs sounded as good as this one, it
would be a great record.

Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Overall Rating: 5/10 – My
overall feeling for the album was just, “meh”. Variety is always a good thing
to have on an album, but Strange Love overdoes it just a bit, leading to an uneasy
disjointed vibe. It has a few good songs, but most can be described as neither
good nor bad. If you’re longing for good music by We the Kings, just go back
and listen to “Say You Like Me” a couple of times. It’ll give you all of the
nostalgia and none of the disappointment.

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Kathryn Placer



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Soundtracks for Books: The Bushwick Book Club

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This week I’m super excited to talk about two of my favorite
things: music and books. Seattle’s own Bushwick
Book Club
is like nothing you’ve ever heard of before. The premise is that
different musicians write a song inspired by a book and then the songs are performed
live and compiled onto albums.  

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The first version of the book club actually started all the way
over on the other side of the country in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A woman by the
name of Susan Hwang came up with the idea in 2009 and Geoff Larson, current
executive director of the local branch, brought it to Seattle a year later. I
spoke with him a little and he explained to me that the Book Club is a mainly
volunteer-run organization.  This year
alone, more than 100 volunteers worked hard in order to connect artists with
authors, make music, and put on shows.  

If you want a taste of what they do, check out The Bushwick
Book Club Seattle Volume I,
a compilation of songs that you can download
for free right here.

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One of my personal favorites off the album is “Zombie
Reagan” by Mike Votava. It’s inspired by People’s History of the United
States
, and if that sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably taken a history
class in the past five years. The book is known for debunking American ideas and
flipping what we know about the past on its head. It’s also known for stressing
out students and prompting essay after essay after essay. If the book (or history
in general) still haunts you, this song can soothe your soul, or at least make
history a little bit funnier.

Some other really good songs are “Little Boy” and “That’s It” by Tai
Shan
. They’re inspired by The Shining and contrast the images of horror with an
easygoing, folksy vibe. Never has The Shining sounded so peaceful. They’re both on Room 217, a separate album devoted
entirely to The Shining, and it’s definitely worth a listen (or ten). 

If you have ever wished that your books came
with a soundtrack, the Bushwick Book Club is the thing for you. Not big on
books? That’s totally okay, listen to a couple songs anyway. All of them are
pretty good at standing on their own. Take “Queen of Hearts” by Debbie Miller for example.

Luckily, they’re big on events and the next one is coming up on
December 11th. It’s being held at the Hugo House, right here in
Seattle, and some great new music is bound to come out of it. 

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Overall, the Bushwick Book Club is a really cool
idea and I’m a little upset I didn’t come up with it myself.

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Kathryn Placer