POST- by Jeff Rosenstock (album review)

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(Yeah, it’s pretty good.)

With album releases seeming somewhat far and few between as we enter the new year, I find myself gravitating towards the only album released this year to the point of writing, a little ol’ thing called POST- by Jeff Rosenstock. With no prior knowledge of the man, I was surprised to find a body of work dating back as far as 1998 and involvement in a frankly stunning amount of albums, projects and acts. Rosenstock’s agenda seems fairly clear and there seems a consistent and personal aspect to his continued mindset which implies that the criticisms I have with this latest release are largely due to his personal design. I feel there’s something to be said for one who coins the names “The Arrogant Sons of Bitches” and “Bomb the Music Industry!” and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t very much appreciate his mentality and approach to music. He seems like a somewhat brazen character and this extends towards this latest musical vehicle, and I think that’s why I like it. 

I feel the album suffers from many of the same issues as a great many other albums which follow the musical design of one particular person and the most outstanding of these issues seems to be a somewhat disorienting flow and conflict of ideas. I’d like to say the issues feel redeemed by the creativity on display but this feels somewhat untrue. I will say that it’s a good bit of fun if you’re into that whole Punk thing, but it does sound like a bit of a fucking mess at times. I hugely appreciate the creativity on show throughout the album as a whole and I feel the variety of styles and influences speaks to a remarkable level of creative promise, but there are often times this feels poorly optimised and structural mismanagement often reflects in a manner that makes little to no sense. 

At this point I feel like I’m the only person in the world who actually gives a fuck about fantastic production quality and albums like this seem to ram this feeling deep up my ass with total disregard for my complaints. What I mean to declare with this total lack of eloquence is that this album sounds like shit in terms of the production quality, but I feel this was the personal design of Rosenstock himself and it contributes to a sound highly reminiscent of a DIY Punk/Grunge-esque tone. Still, despite this being his clear intention, I feel it to be fairly unnecessary and I feel a better energy could have been captured with more emphasis on the vocals and the leading instrumentation. I was pretty surprised to hear the addition of synth in places, but I didn’t feel they were really out of place in the album and they seem to fit quite nicely in the mix. The addition of synth also did much to offer originality and creativity to the album and served to draw my focus to the mind of Rosenstock, further securing my personal admiration in the man and his vision. 

The album is a curious amalgamation of a variety of styles and influences and, where many fail to capture the essence of them all, I feel that Rosenstock respects this and addresses this concern with an album that considers the spirit of Punk, Pop Punk and Indie Rock and displays them all in a wonderful light. When you consider the album from a certain perspective and consider the expansive past of Rosenstock, you can really hear the vast experience the man has – though this does little to restrain the adolescent sense of rebellion and identity most prominent in some of the opening tracks. 

I’d happily go on record and say it’s a very enjoyable album with a good, solid track listing, but the production feels so awful it becomes really hard to recommend. I guess if you don’t give a shit about how good the overall sound is and just care about an upbeat energy then you should check it out. I was very divisive on the album to begin with but by the time I reached TV Stars I began to appreciate the feel of the album a lot more. I don’t usually care much for lyrics, but I felt I actually cared about the words of Rosenstock in this album. I think it’s a fun album and if you have an interest in Punk Rock you should give it a whirl. Don’t expect particularly good production quality or displays of instrumental technicality, that’s not what this album is about – but the energy itself is pretty fantastic and it does well to capture the essence of Punk in a very unique and creative way. 

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Last Young Renegade – All Time Low (album review)

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(official album artwork from the Last Young Renegade album)

In my time committed to critiquing music, I have reviewed bands I have had a previous love for, bands I had never heard of and bands that I chose purely for the name or genre alone, but I have thus far neglected to review bands I have had a negative outlook towards before-hand. To this end, I have decided to direct my focus to reviewing a band I have long held a strong dislike for: All Time Low. My initial goals in this respect were fair and professional – to listen to an album impartially, to analyse it for what it is, to understand the appeal and, most importantly, give the band a proper chance. I began to regret this decision from the first ten seconds of the album.

Disclaimer: I’ve never had a positive view on this band, and I sure as Hell don’t now – if you’re a fan of the band then I advise ignoring this slander-fest, this could get messy.

All Time Low are a Pop Punk band who somehow climbed to a level of success not deserved for their level of mediocrity. Forming in 2003, the band almost seemed to form as a means to take advantage of a growing fan base of angst-fuelled teenagers, namely social groups referred to as Emo or Scene Kids – which, as an Emo Class of ’03, I can personally relate to. I can look back now and understand the camp and melodramatic nature of bands such as Simple Plan and Taking Back Sunday, and even appreciate it in certain cases – it was a genre which existed to give social outcasts some measure of comfort, something to relate to and, to a certain extent, offer an identity and place in the world, which I can totally get on board with, to a degree.

Where early bands of this era carried heavy Punk influence, the genre seemed to drift from topics of rebellion and empowerment to personal issues such as getting hurt by girls and general dissatisfaction in life. From the beginning it was clearly a fashion trend and musicians attempting to capitalise on this (such is the nature of music), but it still had a character to it. In time the music seemed to sell out into a more generic, over-produced Soft-Rock kind of style, and with this the movement seemed to lose so much of its momentum and passion. Bands like All Time Low have always flown this flag in my eyes and serve as the true milestone where the movement became truly commercialised. People that read my recent Rancid review will know my opinions on Punk Rock and its history. I think Punk is an amazing thing, but this commercialism and general fashion-oriented attitude is one of the most shameful things the noughties produced. That all being said, this is an album review – so let’s talk about that!

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(“unrelated” image of a turd)

It’s garbage! I usually listen to albums through Spotify, so I am subject to many adverts – and my first issue with this album is that I could rarely notice when the first advert for a Pop album played because of the over-produced sound of the album. When you can’t tell when a “Punk-influenced” band ends and an advert for some mainstream Pop artist begins, you know the band have fallen too far from their genre. I remain just as disappointed by the instrumentation behind the songs as everything just sounds like the most generic thing they could have written, and where this isn’t the case it just sounds like they’re plagiarising The 1979’s and Angels and Airwaves (two far better bands).

The best thing about this album is the length – at a mere 36 minutes, it means I suffered it for around nine minutes less than the length of an actual full-length album and, though I complained the opposite with Royal Blood, this is easily my favourite thing about this release. With Royal Blood I wanted an extra two songs or so because it had some character and potential – with Last Young Renegade I just wanted it to be over all the way through. Another positive for me is that the guitar work in the opening track reminded me of Angels and Airwaves, but that just made me want to listen to them instead!

With whiny and juvenile lyrics portraying a pathetic and adolescent take on heartbreak and generally childish issues, I was crying out for this album to grow up – often rising to a state of near-anger. This genre needs a severe kick in the ass and either needs to get back to what made it so unique and inspiring in its early days or expand into something that encourages true worldliness and personal progression. When you compare tracks like Drugs & Candy to songs like St Jimmy by Green Day you can truly see how far the music has fallen and it’s embarrassing for one who once had such esteem for the genre. When you have a band of people around thirty years of age you expect them to break free of this high-school mentality and release something more developed, if anything to try to ease their fans into the reality of the world and into better things. The band needs to mature and expand into something more and it should inspire the same in their fans – instead, this album shows a patronising outlook towards them, implying that they don’t ever need to grow up and their music doesn’t have to either.