A Belated Review of…If There Is Light, It Will Find You by Senses Fail

words by Mark McConville (@writer1990mark)rating 8

By powering through the music industry with songs describing heartbreak and addiction, New Jersey band Senses Fail have become an emo staple, a dark act, acclaimed for saying it as it is. Their music pinpoints struggle and hardship. Lead singer/songwriter Buddie Neilson is an addict staving off death and demons and desperately pushing away forces of evil and although their sound is negative, it hits home, it thrives and can be breathtakingly pulsating. Neilson is a wordsmith, there’s no doubt about that. He poetically melds together little notes, enforcing his words on the world like batches of letters, proclaiming his questionable sanity. He may explode like bombs at some point, sacrificing his body, but at the moment he’s yearning for closure and a clean mind. His life hasn’t been pretty as he has seen some horrific scenes, which have prompted him to fall by the wayside. Drugs and alcohol have been major players, conducting his existence for so long.

The band’s new record If There Is Light, It Will Find You is a stark, gritty listen. It rattles the bones and it will make you think. It’s memorable and sticks like glue, fastening its story onto the listener. Lyrically it dazzles but also tugs at heartstrings and we’re listening to a man subsiding into a dark abyss, clawing at coattails of an estranged lover, marking his grave. Neilson bellows about dying throughout the LP, screaming about graves and souring lust.

The album isn’t going to light up, ever, but it’s a strong contender for Senses Fail’s best work yet. Those guitar structures and sequences have been worked upon with great balance, and thought and meaning have been implemented graciously. On opening track Double Cross, those structured lines have been placed perfectly. Neilson sings out his lyrics of worth, describing music and its significance. He also utters about what he has to achieve to be fully noticed, what does he need to prove? Ancient Gods is a brilliant take on a ballad. Neilson sings about loneliness, describing it like a disease. The chorus is infectious, and again the instrumentals are punchy and perfectly composed. Is It Gonna Be The Year? is fuelled by rage, it’s unnerving. Again, it bursts like a blister. Neilson delivers a lyrical masterclass on death and why he doesn’t want to be a washed up old man. He wants to be saved and cocooned off from a fucked up world.

Senses Fail are a band who suffer. Throughout the new record, we hear word by word of Buddie Neilson’s struggles. He is a talented individual who is scarred and weighed down by life. Although music aids him in his pursuit of happiness.

LOOKING BACK AT…Tell All Your Friends by Taking Back Sunday

By Sarah Hughes (@hollowcrown)

In the Spring of 2002, New Jersey-based band Taking Back Sunday released their debut album, Tell All Your Friends, on Victory records. As newcomers to an overcrowded scene TBS delivered originality from the offset; collating the most exciting elements from hardcore, punk and pop, they created a dazzling hybrid that paved the way for a new generation of emo. This new generation were kids set on rejecting the norm and were more connected than ever before via the internet. 

Victory Records were quick to take advantage of these aspects and allowed very limited radio play of the album’s singles. Alternatively, the label distributed the songs onto online emo forums and early social media sites like Yahoo! Online and MySpace; a move that was key to the record’s success as it was the first of its kind. The record was a huge hit in both rock and mainstream charts, and became certified gold in 2005 – to this day it’s Victory Records’s longest charting release; proving just how timeless it is.

The opening track, You Know How I Do, sets the tone for the whole record and teases at Taking Back Sunday‘s full potential. It feels like a soft introduction to their signature of overlapping vocals, telling a story from start to finish, full of heartache and rage. Three tracks in we get Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From The Team), arguably the band’s most famous song in their 15-year career. In this song we get the full hit of the band’s personal style. While being an anthem for the scene with pop-infused pessimism, it manages to avoid the cliches of the genre. The bridge of the song hears backing vocalist, John Nolan, lament the lyrics: “hoping for the best is hoping nothing happens, a thousand clever lines unread on clever napkins, I will never ask if you don’t ever tell me. I know you well enough to know you never loved me” while front man, Adam Lazzara screams into the void:”why can’t I feel anything from anyone other than you?“. The lyrics and execution were excellent outlets of emotion for a discontented youth, the “sing-a-long” appeal of this song in particular provided escapism to kids, and that is, in part, Taking Back Sunday‘s appeal. Partnered with a Fight Club-inspired video, it’s easy to see why this single was so popular.

In the second half of the album we get the catchy You’re So Last Summer. Hardcore influenced guitars introduce the song, followed by Lazzara‘s hollering vocals. With lyrics like “you could slit my throat, and with my one last gasping breath, I’d apologise for bleeding on your shirt“, this song is a notable benchmark for the record, and the band in general, as it showcases their ability to beautifully balance dark frustration with heartache.

Tell All Your Friends‘s legacy is evident in its growing popularity,  spanning almost two decades. This record continues to attract new fans, as well as provides an emotive, nostalgia-ridden, throwback for twenty-somethings, who are now embarking on adulthood. The angst expressed by Taking Back Sunday at the time of TAYF‘s release continues to resonate with new fans while simultaneously maturing with the older fans – this is what makes Tell All Your Friends a timeless album.





Touche Amore, ANGEL DU$T & Departures @ Glasgow Stereo – 20/02/2017

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

As the queue to the only Scottish date of Touche Amore‘s tour stretched around onto Union Street, it was obvious that tonight’s gig was going to be pretty special. Taking place at the intimate and claustrophobic Stereo venue, which in itself is a total juxtaposition of the lovely and well-kempt vegan cafe above, this show couldn’t have taken place anywhere else other than here.

Starting off with some homegrown talent in the form of Departures, tonight’s events were kicked off in the most appropriate way possible with a display of wonderful hardcore performances. The Glasgow guys were fairly modest as well, noting the sold out gig and saying:

There’s a lot of ye, thanks for turning up early. If you were going to turn up early anyway then sorry.

The self-professed “Scottish idiots with no gear” all seemed to be in one telepathic flow as front-man James McKean maneuvered the stage effortlessly, manage to intertwine amongst Daniel Nash, Pierre Charlesworth, Andrew Traynor and their multiple cables.

This was pretty poetic considering how easily McKean’s voice traversed through the layered instrumentals, all of which helped to present the band’s unique blend of passionate modern hardcore music with Making Maps being a particular highlight, showcasing the emotive and heartfelt lyrics Departures do so well. (On a quick side-note, Alistair Morrison may be the happiest band member I’ve seen perform live since Frank Turner: what a man).

Up next were Baltimore hardcore act ANGEL DU$T who were starkly different from the preceding support act with their “go hard or go home” attitude being an utter delight from start to finish. Manifesting all the traits of similar hardcore bands such as Turnstile, frontman Justice Tripp wasn’t lying when he said that they’d be performing some short and hard songs: the riffs came thick and fast like you had just been dropped kicked onto a motorway during rush hour and every second was absolutely exhilarating.

The crowd seemed to be utterly enthralled by the whole performance. As Tripp held the mic above himself WWE style while simultaneously putting his hand on his hip like a more intimidating teapot, you would regularly see fans jump on stage and nearly instantly forward or backflip right back off. At one point a rather psyched man jumped on top of the nearby amp and proceeded to crowd surf for about 3 yards before hitting the ground: you really couldn’t ask for anything more appropriate than ANGEL DU$T to be playing while this happened.

Then the real meat (or Quorn) and potatoes of tonight’s meal arrived . Touche Amore have solidified themselves as one of music’s most valuable acts with a golden run records wise and as they appeared on stage, the crowd was erupting to put it lightly. Flowers And You off of the band’s latest LP Stage Four began the Californian’s passionate proceedings with Jeremy Bolm’s hoarse screams acting as emotional expulsion, shaking the room with instrumental and emotional intensity. While it’s no real surprise that a tour that is supporting an album revolving around grief brought with it some sombre moments, Touche Amore really raised the bar when it comes to this realm: some tracks such as Displacement were gut wrenching anthems that had the crowd simultaneously rag dolling around the tightly packed venue while fighting back the tears.

It wasn’t just the crowd that were wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Bolm himself professed his love for the city of Glasgow, confidently saying:

Having a Belle and Sebastian tattoo, it feels awesome to walk the streets where this music comes from and to have this be our first sold out gig means a lot. We’ve played here multiple times and it’s always great.

To put it simply, Touche’s set was an intense tour de force, providing all of the feverous lyrics and straight-up fierce passion the band has for their art. As they ended their gig with a cut off Is Survived By, it was safe to say the band ended the night perfectly and sent everyone home with memories of what is sure to be one of the greatest gigs anyone in attendance will ever experience.