Skip to main content

INDEPENDENT ALBUM RELEASE: American Authors, “Seasons”


The Brooklyn alt-pop band American Authors first made their presence known with their first triple-platinum hit song “Best Day of My Life,” which made it to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track appeared in film, television, video games, and sporting events. It was literally everywhere. Their 2014 album debut, Oh, What A Life, went gold. Two years later, their sophomore effort, What We Live For, featured the song “Go Big or Go Home,” another Top 20 hit. They’ve played every music festival from Lollapalooza to Reading to Leeds. 

Now it’s time for the band to write the rest of their story (Get it?) 

American Authors consists of four members: Zac Barnett [vocals], James Adam Shelley [guitar, banjo], Dave Rublin [bass], and Matt Sanchez [drums.] To record their third and newest album, entitled “Seasons,” the band holed up in a Tennessee mountainside studio surrounded by wilderness. “It was so inspiring,” said Sanchez. “We put our emotions and visions through this distillation process as the weather changed right before our eyes.” Hence, their choice for an album title.

The album starts with “Stay Around,” a heavy, stomp-beat tune with rapid rhyme vocals, bordering on hip-hop. “Say Amen” is a slower, hand-clap-infused tune with a chorus sounding at home in any radically modernized church. 

“Calm Me Down” is more piano, more groove. Again, the singing and lyrics come dangerously close to rap: “That day in New York I spun out, I fell short, but I felt close to you / One night in Detroit I thought there was no point, but I felt close to you / Everyone telling me what to do, what to think, where to be…” It’s a song about that person we all know who always seems to have the right words to say to make us chill when things go haywire.

“I Wanna Go Out” is a track that I can’t help feel was inspired by the cabin fever that must’ve set in from being so isolated in their isolated studio. “Let’s get wild and make a memory,” Barnett sings, his voice higher and higher. “I wanna go out / Out of my mind…”

“Neighborhood” is a somber, coming-of-age acoustic number about leaving behind what’s familiar to find yourself. “Can’t Stop Me Now” is an upbeat anthem, predictably about defiance, despite“hanging on by a thread / hanging over my head…”

“Deep Water” is a meditative piano, hand-clap combo in contrast to the next track “Bring It On Home,” another travel song about the joy of returning as a new person from a long trip. “Before I Go” has us setting off again in search of answers. “I hope I find a piece of mind in all of my wo-wo-wo-woes / I hope the pain it brings a light to my broken so-wo-wo-wo-oul…”

Seasons closes out with the strong but short “A Real Place,” the album’s best track. Here Barnett’s voice sounds its most wounded and soulful. “Turns out I was lost / I was busy with a lover / God knows I never loved her at all / I need somewhere to fall…” Another song that I feel was inspired by the band’s surroundings while they recorded.  It’s also the song which best captures the overall theme of the album. (Perhaps should’ve been the album’s title?)  

Seasons is an impressive effort for such a young band, though I could’ve done with at least one “rock out with our cock out” number to shake things up. Show off that youth and vigor, instead of so much seriousness. For the most part, this is an album largely concerned with the healthiness for the soul that travel brings to it. There’s a motif of places inside the heart and outside the mind, places journeyed to and journeyed from. Of starting out somewhere, setting off, then returning home, scarred but wiser. Maybe that’s why American Authors sound so much older than they are.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

INDEPENDENT SONG RELEASE: Ethos, “V: Parents”

Ethos is the stage name for Alex Hlavna, a 19-year veteran of the Cleveland, Ohio music scene where he played guitar , bass, and drums on numerous recordings. He has now released his own song entitled “V: Parents” from his new album Ten Commandments. The V is the Roman numeral for 5, as in the 5th Commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother.”  Each track on the album is titled this way, named after a commandment. Is this some type of “religious rap” or is Ethos being metaphoric? The actual definition of “ethos” is “the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations.” Judging from such a moniker and from statements he’s made in interviews, it seems his goal is more about making observations, rather than instructing us that “thou shalt not whatever.” It’s a more provocative approach. The song is a funk-bassline over an electronic beat and soft synths. Meanwhile Ethos ’ voice is anything but soft as he raps about honoring your

INDEPENDENT SONG RELEASE: Micheal Bruner, "Midst of a Mistake"

By Michael Bruner Getting tendinitis was surely a setback, but it also proved to be a positive constraint, an evolution in my approach to music. Instead of contorting my hand into a tense, fleshy spider, I did what felt best: Forcing my head and body to meet halfway. I kept writing. I finished the song “Midst of a Mistake,” inspired by a thieving taxi driver in China. I wanted to start producing this song, but I knew the audio production and editing would prove too strenuous to pull off single-handedly.  Just a few weeks after returning from China, I received a message from Rodrigo Cotelo. I’d met him at the first installment of a house show I performed at (shortly after the onset of my tendinitis). He accompanied a handful of talented Jacob’s students who had backed me up on a set of my original songs. I knew Rod and I would click with each other from the moment I found him sitting at a table, pouring a gourd of yerba maté. Rod’s lively spirit, carefree attitude, and co

INDEPENDENT SONG RELEASE: MemoCrasher, “Burn”

One gander at their social media presence and it’s not hard to see what aesthetic the rock band MemoCrasher is aiming for. They’re an evening at the Satanic circus where mostly nude, Harlequin-style dominatrix chicks grin maniacally while juggling fire.  The music video for their single “Burn” (below) starts with a top-hated, sinister ringleader informing us that we’re being presented with “a world of sex and violence where war rages as humanity peers over the precipice of doom where all blood is shed and no flowers bloom…” Love it already. While there’s always a place in the music world for the Justin Beibers and Taylor Swifts, we absolutely need bands like this to keep the evil in rock. (Part of being a well-adjusted person is accepting your dark side, no?) Less than a minute into the video, the shock value is intense. Sitting at each five points of a burning pentagram are five evil figures from history. There’s Hitler with a burned face because, you know, he was burned