Tag Archives: Mike Mains

Top Rock Songs of 2014


2014’s Best Rock Songs

It was one of those years where I found an increasing number of pop songs that truly appealed to me.  You’ll still find a few harder tracks in here, but to me, the best songs from 2014, were often the ones that found their way onto radio.

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Maybe, I’m getting a little softer in my old age, or perhaps my kids are broadening my horizon a bit, but in any event, these are 25 excellent rock songs, all clearly deserving of the accolades I am about to bestow 🙂

Feel free to check out our Top Rock songs from our prior year-end reviews, too:
2013 Top Rock Songs  |  2012 Top Rock Songs  |  2011 Top Rock Songs

(You can click on the song title to snag the song on iTunes)

25. Dangerous (feat. Joywave) – Big Data – Typically I don’t love electro/ drum machine tracks, but I love, love, love the bass in this song. It’s a space age alt-rocker that also boasts nice vocals, sweet harmonies and some cool sound effects.

24. I Bet My Life – Imagine Dragons – The first post-NightVisions single and a chance for us to see these talented Las Vegas rockers continue to evolve their sound. It’s a well-produced track with a big sound, and another song with great harmonies.

23. Centuries – Fall Out Boy – Pop-rock that sounds great loud, featuring typically excellent vocal prowess from Patrick Stump. The song has catchy hooks and predictably (and deservedly) has already become a staple on sports broadcasts and games everywhere.

22. Parachute – James Durbin – The American Idol star returned to the scene with his first album of self-penned songs.  This track still features his fantastic voice, catchy guitar riffs, and if anything, more of a pop rock feel than we had heard previously.

21. Fever – The Black Keys – This song is just catchy as hell as we hear The Black Keys throw in an extra serving of keyboards to this previous uber-successful recipe. Do you think Alt-Rock radio played this one enough in 2014? Still, a song worthy of another listen or twelve.

20. Got to My Head – Waters – Addictive gang vocals, and dreamy hooks, this is what Grouplove should still sound like. Fortunately, Waters worked with Ryan Rabin to deliver one of the years catchiest, foot-tapping rockers.

19. This Is the Time (Ballast) – Nothing More – Great, hard rocker with a fresh sound from one of this year’s breakout metal acts. As much as I like this song, it doesn’t do justice to their fantastic live performances.

18. Black River – Wolf Gang – This release was a long-time coming, but worth the wait. As always, Max McElligott’s vocals are compelling, but on this track, we really hear the full five-piece band shine. A sweeping, vibrant rocker.

17. Freak Machine – Fit for Rivals – Our first of two “freak” songs. this is a local band destined for big things. Renee Phoenix’s vocals are gritty and urgent, and the song is a hard-driving introspective blast.

16. Freaks – The Hawk InParis – I just love this cool, slinky, Twin Peaks-esque rocker and its hip vibe. Dan Haseltine’s (Jars Of Clay) vocals and lyrics are compelling but the unique, diverse music is just oh so cool.

15. Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens) – New Politics – Another band that’s even better live, but this Danish trio has mastered the upbeat, aggressive Alt-Rock niche. It’s raucous surf/hip-hop/dance/hard rock, and just a damn good party to listen to.

14. I Am Machine – Three Days Grace – When Adam Gontier split after 20 years, the future looked shaky for these Canadian vets, but Matt Walst has stepped in nicely, and his vocals dominate this hard-driving track, which shows a rejuvenated band moving forward with powerful rock.

13. My Sweet Summer – Dirty Heads – This Huntington Beach group evolves constantly, and every incarnation sounds just a bit better than the last. This one is probably their most mainstream offering, but they still retain their cool indie California ska vibe.

12. Cecilia and the Satellite – Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness – Mcmahon is a creative guy, and this wonderfully produced track shows how far his career has progressed. It’s a fantastic ode to his newborn daughter, in a song punctuated by great piano and beautiful vocals.

11. Beware the Dog – The Griswolds – Pure addiction, featuring tribal beats and cool guitar riffs, this debut from these high energy Aussie’s is an absolute blast to listen to. It’s a fun rocker that is guaranteed to get you moving, and just the tip of the iceberg from their Be Impressive album.

10. Deadbolt – Skaters – A talented NYC-based trio who remind me of the best parts of the eighties: The Clash, Jesus Mary Chain, etc…, but with a sound all of their own. This fast-paced rocker features clever guitar riffs, freight train drums and great vocals.

9. Cut To the Chase – Fort Lean – Chances are you haven’t heard this one yet. Do it soon, you’ll be glad you did. It’s more mellow than the typical Cretin favorite, but it’s a tremendously well-arranged song. Keyboard driven, but plenty of slinky guitar, and fantastic vocals, and a chorus that is catchy as hell.

8. High – Young Rising Sons – OK, this one is a bit of a guilty pleasure. A foot tapping, head nodding with wonderful vocals. It’s an optimistic rocker that is guaranteed to bounce around your brain for hours.

7. I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore – Rise Against – I actually heard one of my peers call this the band’s worst song ever. That’s asinine. The socially conscious punk rockers are growing, and this is a perfect example. Still a hearty dose of angry punk, combined with soaring guitar rock, and it works damn well.

6. Gotta Get Away – The Black Keys – If nothing else, this finally gave Alt-Rock radio a chance to take “Fever” out of their uber-tight rotation. But the song is special for so many other reasons, and they become abundantly clear within 15 seconds, a great guitar hook, clever keyboards from Danger Mouse, topped with the drums and vocals that make Auerbach and Kearney so special. This one is a breakneck rocker that’s a blast to listen to.

5. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers – Jack Antonoff is an ingenious music talent and proves in this song that Fun. was a lot more than a Nate Reuss project. This one is an optimistic declaration from an introspective guy, wrapped in a delicious, lush keyboard-driven rocker that will bring back pleasant big-eighties memories.

4. Same Damn Life – Seether – It’s a more melodic Seether, and that’s just fine with me. Shaun Morgan’s lyrics are deeply personal, and his vocals better than ever. Their guitars are more clean than previous efforts, but it works wonderfully. I think it’s the band’s best track ever, and that’s saying quite a lot.

3. Geronimo – Sheppard – My favorite new artist of 2014, and this track epitomizes why. Excellent boy/girl vocals and elegant harmonies, perched atop a diverse creative musical backdrop. Listen to this one on headphones, and it gets better with every listen. The music is flawless and absolutely addictive.

2. Noises – Mike Mains & The Branches – My favorite punk rock track of the year, and it’s from a band that is clearly not punk rock. Mains and his crew are fantastically talented, and boast a diverse sampling of music on their excellent Calm Down Everything Is Fine release. This one finds the band pushing their limits and it’s a lightning-paced rocker that’s a fitting showcase for Mains’ vocal prowess. If this stuff is the future of rock ‘n roll, everything is fine.

1. Figure It Out – Royal Blood – Two guys! Drums and a bass – that’s it, and the song delivers an amazingly complete and powerful musical experience. These guys have been together exactly one year, and they’ve provided a much needed jolt of optimism to rock fans worldwide. This track features two musicians already considered near the top of their craft. Drummer Ben Thatcher, is technically polished, adeptly switching from freight train drums to more tender interludes, and the things that Mike Kerr does with his bass are impossible. Oh, and the vocals, they don’t suck either. It’s just a great song, and a perfect choice for song of the year.

Thanks for checking out the list, and if you have a few extra minutes take a quick peek at our Top 25 Rock albums of the year – you’ll see a lot of familiar artists over there, too.

Rock On!

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page (upper left) for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂


2014 Rock Albums of the Year

2014’s Best Rock Albums

“Rock is dead they say.”  It’s been forty years since Pete Townshend’s poignant words first grabbed the rock ‘n roll spotlight. Since then, there have been constant refrains repeating the age-old perspective, and in the last few years, those chants are getting ominously louder.  I’ve never believed that and I still don’t today. But, I am starting to have serious consternation over the future of the rock album as the key medium for the music.

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These days, it’s just tougher and tougher to have albums funded, and then damn near impossible to have all but a few become profitable; yet at the same time, it’s easier than ever to release a single.  It seems a foregone conclusion that albums will experience at least some decline in use, but as you’ll see in the next few minutes, there are still a slew of fantastic rock releases.

Before you dig in, let me just share that this list is pretty damn schizophrenic. You’ll see alt-rock, indie rock, pop rock and hard rock. In other words, depending on your preferred genre, there will probably be a few that don’t fit your tastes, but trust me, every one of these offerings is excellent in it’s own right. Now, here are the Top 25 rock albums of 2014, according to ME! You can click on the album title to grab your own copy via iTunes.

As a warm-up, see what a few of these artists felt were the year’s top albums here, and feel free to check out our prior year lists.
2013 Albums of the Year  |  2012 Albums of the Year  |  2011 Albums of the Year

25, The Endless River – Pink Floyd – Truthfully, probably not the 25th best album of the year, but it’s another good offering from an incredibly consistent band.  These tracks are primarily Division Bell era instrumentals. Despite the continued absence of Roger Water, the group still puts out pristine headphone worthy rock, which is definitely a dying art.

24. Strange Desire – Bleachers – Jack Antonoff shows what happens when he offers a glimpse inside his brain and throws these evocative thoughts into grandiose John Waters-esque productions.  It’s a fun., optimistic album packed with a handful of intriguing, big tracks that are guaranteed to have you flashing back to the best of the eighties, as well as the best of vintage fun., circa 2013. (Our full review)

23. Be Impressive – The Griswolds – We discovered a tremendous amount of new music from Down Under this year, and the Aussies we listened to had a penchant for bouncy, enjoyable pop rock.  That’s the perfect description of the debut from Griswolds. Their “Beware The Dog” was one of the songs of the year, but this group is far from a one hit wonder.  (Our full review)

22. St. Vincent – St. Vincent – The first time I heard this album, I really wasn’t that enthralled. It was interesting, creative and different, a little classic progressive rock, a bit of jazz and a touch of new age, but I wasn’t sure it was special.  Then, I took it for a subsequent spin or two, and it has really grown on me. Not sure how to classify the genre, but guitarist/vocalist Annie Clark is undeniably special.

21. Redeemer of Souls – Judas Priest – AC/DC’s 2014 release seemed to get all of the attention from classic metal fans, but this album is so much better. Rob Halford still sounds great, the generous guitar solos are crisp and energetic, and the songwriting continues to show growth.  There’s a nice mix of straight ahead rockers and more deftly arranged offerings.

20. High Noon – Arkells – This Ontario quintet has never really exploded in the US, and probably because they don’t have any tracks with huge hit potential, but their albums, like High Noon, are packed with a non-stop supply of nicely arranged music spotlighted with poignant lyrics. There’s not a bad song on the album, and it is oh so easy to listen to.

19. Pure Adulterated Joy – Morning Parade – Fresh on the unexpected heels of being dropped by their label, this UK quintet responds with an optimistic, energetic release, that I feel is their best yet. From my album review: “The result: Pure Adulterated Joy, a damn good album that finds the band veering ever so slightly away from their pop roots and moving deeper into rock ‘n roll.” And, it works well. (Our full review)

18. Choking On Halos – Leanne Kingwell – This paragraph from my review sums the album up perfectly: “Kingwell is an Aussie chanteuse just dripping with potential. Her self-released new album is a breath of fresh air on the music landscape and boasts a handful of songs worthy of significant radio play on an album that offers non-stop diverse creative rock tracks.” If you like catchy pop rock, you need to check this out. (Our full review)

17. Lost in the Dream – The War on Drugs – This one is the antithesis of Choking On Halos. It’s a darker journey through the mind of Adam Granduciel. The music from these talented Philadelphians is captivating and has not suffered at all since the departure of Kurt Vile. The complex arrangements are wonderfully distinctive, and every song is an adventure worth taking.

16. Stuck In a Dream – Bike Thief – At times their music reminds me of two excellent Alt-rock artists in Arcade Fire and The Decemberists; it’s creative, robust rock with a distinctive theatrical flair. For any old-timers reading along, I also felt a Renaissance or very early Genesis kind of vibe as many of the songs are adeptly dotted with precisely placed intricate riffs, runs and accents. Check out my review for more insight. (Our full review)

15. Turn Blue – The Black Keys – I love the Black Keys, but just like the Foo Fighters (who did not make the list), I felt the new release was not at the same level as previous works.  For Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach, it’s still a strong effort, just not as compelling as their previous albums. I like them as stripped down as possible, but there’s no denying that they’ve created a few fantastic songs on an album that still boasts a fresh, yet classically weathered spin on rock ‘n roll.

14. Isolate and Medicate – Seether – Dirty sludgy rock one track and then mainstream pop rock the next; it’s a nice diverse hard rock album with a handful of great songs. A robust, cohesive offering, with a tremendous amount of rock pouring through the speakers, especially considering the band is but a trio. The album features powerful drums, nice guitar riffs and top notch vocals from Shaun Morgan, while his lyrics are at their introspective best. It’s an active rock album with no weak songs that’s strong from start to finish, and is an absolute blast to listen to loud.

13. World On Fire (feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators) – Slash – An hour and 15 minutes of sharp guitar rock is always nice, and when you throw in Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) dishing out his pristine vocals, this album is a can’t miss hard rock offering. The 17 songs are diverse, some bluesy, a few acoustic, but all guitar-driven rockers. The backing band, The Conspirators, are sharp throughout and the music passion from the players pours through.

12. Cry Is for the Flies (feat. Shirley Manson & Henry Rollins) – Le Butcherettes – The album features Teri Gender Bender (maybe not her birthname), a Mexican punk rocker with an eclectic approach to rock music. From Broken Birdie’s review, this sums it up perfectly: “It’s not for everyone but it is definitely within reach for most people if you simply have the fortitude to keep listening. A+ and I’m really looking forward to Le Butcherettes cruising through town so that I can catch what I can only imagine is a fantastic live show as well.” (Our full review)

11. Hope – Manchester Orchestra This is a first for me – two albums from the same artist on my annual list, and even more unusual, the same exact song titles. Andy Hull and crew went back to the studio and totally re-imagined the Cope album. These versions are stripped down and generally unrecognizable, and consistently they sound tremendous. It was a brave shot at repositioning the songs, and a few of the new versions are absolutely better than those on Cope. (Our full review)


10. The Black Market – Rise Against – Another album that grew on me the more I listened to it. On this, the seventh release from these socially conscious Chicago rockers, we still hear much of the hard-driving sound their fervent fans have come to enjoy, but on this album, they’ve mixed in a few new twists, primarily to a more mainstream sound. Listening to the lyrics, there’s also a more prominent focus on relationships, with fewer songs about social and political issues. (Our full review)

9. Alveron – Wolf Gang – I’ve anxiously waited to hear the follow-on to Suego Faults, the band’s excellent 2011 debut release, and it was worth the wait. Although this offering doesn’t boast the obvious Top 40 hits of its predecessor, the album is packed with soaring rock anthems. Produced by Flood, the arrangements are impeccable, and the band shows obvious maturity. The songs revolve around the challenges of twenty-somethings dealing with relationships and life, and the musical talent on display is impressive throughout. (Our full review)

8. Manhattan – SKATERS – One of the best debut albums I heard this year, the album is packed with snappy rock offerings interestingly arranged around little vignettes of life in the city. Lots of poppy, punk-infused music that’s just catchy as hell. The band shows their flexibility with a broad spectrum of rock sounds, on an album that feels like today’s ode to New York City; it’s not the Strokes, nor The Ramones, but it sure could be the 2014 equivalent from a cultural standpoint.  (Our full review)

7. Brill Bruisers – The New Pornographers – This All-star Vancouver lineup continuously delivers fresh, meaningful rock music, and great albums. Brill Brothers, their first release in four years continues that trend. The title track is a soaring, majestic rocker, and beautifully, there’s nothing else like it on the album. Like the proverbial box of chocolates, you don’t know what to expect from song to song on Brill Bruisers, but somehow all of the diverse offerings mesh together perfectly in the end, and provide a great musical expedition.

6. Cope – Manchester Orchestra – I loved the re-imagined version of this album, Hope, but the original was just a bit better. This one sounds like the Manchester Orchestra that we have grown to love, and boasts a handful of killer tracks. This version of the band is deeper, darker and more powerful, as immediately evidenced by the first track, “Top Notch,” where the drums are bigger, the guitars more forceful and vocals a little grittier than past efforts, and it makes for compelling rock.

5. Stuck – Adelitas Way – A few of my peers will scoff at this rating, but hey, it’s my list, deal with it. The truth is, this is a killer album packed with excellent rock songs. It’s stadium rock, done as well as we’ve heard in years, and it boasts a fresh engaging sound.  There’s not an album I’ve listened to more frequently in 2014;  it’s one of those rare albums that defines a band and jettisons them into the rock ‘n roll stratosphere. It’s Adelitas Way’s equivalent of Metallica’s Master Of Puppets or the Scorpions’ Love At First Bite.  (Our full review)

4. Royal Blood – Royal Blood – Yet another duo serving up powerful rock music. It’s amazing how this UK duo deliver the robust, powerful music that punctuates the album with just a bass and drums. They put forth freight-train powered rock ‘n roll, highlighted by Mike Kerr’s soulful vocals and catchy, intricate bass riffs. But it’s not all balls to the wall rock ‘n roll, as the more tender offerings truly complete the album. It’s one hell of a debut and jolt of energy to the rock music landscape.

3. Calm Down, Everything Is Fine – Mike Mains & The Branches – When I heard the first single, the addictive “Noises,” I was anticipating an album filled with similar pop-punk ditties. What I heard, though, was so much more. The songs are all over the rock music map but consistently fun to listen to, and they come together perfectly to shape a memorable rock ‘n roll journey. Mains puts his immense young talent on display in an album that spotlights a unique and versatile voice and a talented song-writer just dripping with potential. (Our full review)

2. Lazaretto – Jack White – I wasn’t always positive, but I’ve come to realize that Mr. White is a musical genius. He has the reputation of being a bit of a prick, and that may have clouded my views, but his music continues to impress. As we see on Lazaretto, his sound has evolved from the early White Stripe days to what we now hear as a much more, full, complex and elaborate production. The music is better than ever, but it still boasts pure raw rock ‘n roll. It’s hard to pull off, but as we see on this album, it’s magical when everything comes together. Listen to it, and if you’ve listened before, pick it up again, as it gets better with every listen.

1. Transgender Dysphoria Blues – Against Me! – From the moment I first heard this album in January, I knew that we had a special album on our hands. It’s stood up all year, and it’s my clear choice as the album of the year. A funny thing happened on the way to the studio, as frontman Tom Gabel, became Laura Jane Grace and started writing amazingly riveting music.  The album still boasts the rugged guitar rock that has defined the band for the past decade, but the lyrics are more poignant than ever. The key, though, is that the music is urgently passionate.  Every song a story worth telling, and a journey meticulously crafted.  (Our full review)

So, that’s it for 2014. Lots of great stuff from every genre of rock music, and proof that the killer rock album still survives. What did I miss, what did I nail?  I’d love to hear your thoughts either below or on our Facebook page.

“Long live rock, be it dead or alive.”

Rock On!


Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page (upper left) for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Mike Mains Rocks Orlando

Mike Mains Orlando Concert Review

When I reviewed Mike Mains and The Branches fantastic 2014 album, Calm Down Everything Is Fine earlier this year, I became a quick fan and anxiously awaited an opportunity to see how that fine music translated in a live setting.

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Photos are posted here: RARA’s Farm Facebook

Mains, a Detroit native, had not previously played the Sunshine State, so I wasn’t too optimistic I’d have a chance to catch the band live. Fortunately, they hooked up with Jukebox The Ghost on their current tour and opened for them last night at Social Orlando. And, the nearly packed house was in for a treat, as the talented rockers churned out a blistering thirty minute set of killer pop rock.

The band took the stage and immediately kicked into one of their most intriguing offerings, “Played It Safe,” the track that also opens the album. It’s well-arranged song that spotlights Mains’ voice as it begins tenderly before exploding into an epic rock offering. It was a wise choice for the set opener, and set the stage for a strong performance (see full setlist below).

As the crowd settled in, he offered “I like you! We’re all here to have a good time and what better way than with rock and roll?’ and the party was on.  He then played a few tracks from his debut album, Home, including a nice interactive version of “Miracle” which highlighted excellent guitar work from Mains, as well as nice keyboard from his wife Shannon, who seemed to be having a blast on stage.

From there, the band jumped back into the uber-deep current album. “My My Side,” was another diverse offering that spotlighted great harmonies from Shannon, as well as the impressive range in Mains’ voice – tender one moment, a throaty growl seconds later – excellent stuff.

The multi-faceted performer also dished out plenty of catchy guitar riffs, and was constantly bouncing around the stage. He was a confident, comfortable performer who seemed in his element interacting with the crowd all night. And, the crowd loved it. They sang along, clapped along and generally had a blast, and the ever appreciative Mains seemed truly humbled by the reception.

Mike Mains with Coin's Joe Memmel
Mike Mains with Coin’s Joe Memmel

As the set drew to a close, Mains mentioned Coin, the next band to play and offered, “They’ll blow your face off.”  He then invited Joe Memmel, “the lovely” guitarist from Coin to join them on stage for a raucous version of “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” where Mains, unburdened by his guitar, flew around the stage and ratcheted the show up a notch.

He then slung the guitar back over his shoulder and jumped into a frenetic version of the infectious rocker “Noises,” a track with great vocals, killer riffs and catchy hooks that’s even better live than on the album. As Mains hit that last note, he unleashed a deep, primal scream, punctuating the fantastic performance with an appropriately gritty exclamation point.

The band has a few more dates on this tour with Jukebox the Ghost and Coin and are an entertaining opening act.  Full tour dates are provided below. Get there early, as this talented band is a can’t miss act just dripping with potential.

Check out our Calm Down Everything Is Fine Album Review

Rock On!

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos, including a few more from this show. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Tour Dates
Nov 11 Music Farm, Charleston, SC
Nov 12 New Brookland Tavern, West Columbia, SC
Nov 14 Ottobar, Baltimore, MD
Nov 15 The Southern, Charlottesville, VA

Nov 20 University of Wisconsin – Superior, Superior WI
Dec 03 Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY
Dec 12 Rumba Cafe, Columbus, OH
Dec 19 Mac’s Bar (MM&TB Christmas Sweater Ball) Lansing, MI

Played It Safe
By My Side
In the Night
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

Mike Mains Album Review

MMTB_3 (1) (640x351)

Mile Mains & the Branches, Calm Down Everything Is Fine.

The pressure on a singer-songwriter is likely never more intense than in that brief period that bridges a highly-acclaimed debut album and the recording of an artist’s sophomore effort.  As  difficult a task as that normally is, it’s virtually impossible when you’re trying to channel your inner-Boss. Fortunately, Shannon Mains reminded her husband that he needed to focus on being the first Mike Mains instead of the next Springsteen. The result: A damn good release from a talented performer.

Mains was working on the successor to his popular debut, Home, when he found himself constantly listening to Springsteen’s 1978 classic Darkness On The Edge of Town. Fortunately, with a bit of urging from his wife, he eschewed the Bruce influence and focused on his own strengths as a writer. The result, like Darkness, was a more mature and diverse offering than its predecessor, but the Springsteen comparisons end there.

Calm Down Everything Is Fine is a rock masterpiece that just oozes cool Indie Rock swagger while still offering superb pop hooks. The album is impeccably produced, courtesy of Matt Hoopes of Relient K; featuring nicely layered guitars and keyboards and highlighted by Mains’ distinctive vocals which are a perfect voice for today’s Alternative Rock landscape. I was pleasantly surprised by the prominence of Nate Wethy’s bass throughout the album, as well. The bass lines are fantastic and never lost in the mix.

The opening track, “Played It Safe” is a creative, yet dark ode to pessimism. But, it’s immediately juxtaposed with an optimistic future hit, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” It’s just one of a handful of masterful sequencing touches on the album. Another example is the transition between “Noises” and “Slow Down.” The former is a pop punk anthem-in-the-waiting. I love the vocals but this one is all about the slick layered guitar and memorable riffs that absolutely demand your attention. “Slow Down” is a perfectly placed ballad that offers a chance to catch your breath and admire Mains’ more tender side.

Shannon Mains makes a mark in more ways than as a creative adviser, as we hear her tight harmonies nicely slipped into several songs, as well as a few shining moments on the keyboard.  Other strong offerings include the rocking “In The Night” and the stark and haunting “Where Love Dies.”

If there’s any downside to the album, it’s that Mains’ vocals at times feel occasionally restrained.  He lets loose at times and sounds superb, but more often than not he seems a bit reined in. Make no mistake, the vocals are catchy and provocative, and it might just be my impression, but I suspect there’s a more edgy, gravelly sound to him that’s even more appealing.

But, I’m being a bit nit-picky. This diverse offering is a must listen for fans of Pop, Alt-Rock, Indie-Rock and Pop-Punk. It’s good stuff, and an album likely to re-appear on these pages in our year-end Album of the Year listings.  Check it out below and let me know what you think.

If you only download one song: Noises – Calm Down, Everything Is Fine

Good for fans of Young The Giant, A Silent Film and Sum 41.

Rock On!