July 2020 Playlist + Check-In

(Photo credit: Angie Aristodemo)

Hey man! Long time, no talk.

A brief Resonating update - as you’ve probably noticed, music news, especially regarding hardcore, has been (understandably) really slow. This means there’s less releases, tours, etc. to write about. I also took several weeks off in June to focus on sharing activism-based content. Despite this mostly unintended hiatus, I’ve been working on Zine #3 for a little while. I have interviews completed with two fantastic bands, Shackled from New Jersey, as well as MH Chaos from Chicago. I’m still working on finishing two more interviews, then I can start putting it together. Keep an eye on our Twitter or Instagram for an update on when it'll be up.

If you have any letters, playlists, photos, etc. you’d like to contribute, I’m still taking submissions by email at resonatingangie@gmail.com. Even if it doesn’t make it in this time, there’ll be another new issue to follow!

Anyway - like I said, there’s just not a lot going on in music right now. Bands can’t play shows, most of them are choosing not to record, and so on. What hasn’t stopped, however, is the consumption of music. Art is incredibly important at a time like this, and I know I speak for more than just myself when I say that I’ve definitely spent my quarantine listening to a fuckton of it.

I know I can’t wait to get back to enjoying it with others - so, hopefully, y’all get my drift with these playlists. I’m going to start making a playlist once a month to show you guys what I’ve been listening to, with the aim of getting back to the “sharing” aspect that I love so much. They'll be mixed-genre, so I hope you find something you're into!

1. Finding Purpose - Shackled

“Think for yourself and the stronger you’ll become. 
There’s power not knowing where you’ll end up.”

I’ve been listening to this band a ton since interviewing them in June. In my opinion, their sound is a perfect balance of all the aspects that make hardcore what it is - it doesn’t lean too strong into any specific subgenre. When asking about influences, guitarist Jake explained that he typically writes with their other guitarist, Andrew. Jake typically brings more metallic, thrashy riffs to the table, while Andrew focuses on punk-based, more straightforward styles, which ends up creating a really good blend of the two in their sound. Lyrically, this is the perfect track to narrate the existential crisis I’m having from putting school on hold (thanks COVID), but it also makes me want to never go back, so, you know, there’s your heads up. School sucks. Hardcore doesn't.

2. Try Again - No Option

Times are tough, but my will is tougher
You can’t get to me, you dumb motherfucker”

I love this band. As someone who came into hardcore listening to a lot of older, faster, more punk-influenced bands, No Option’s sound is very nostalgic to me. Their set at LDB is probably the most fun I’m going to have for the rest of the year.  In my excitement for the fest, I must’ve listened to their record, “Make It Count,” a million times last winter, but revisiting it in warm weather feels far more fitting. This particular song, especially the part I chose to highlight, is a go-to for when I’m looking for something to release my anger without feeding into it in a negative way.

3. Simmer - Hayley Williams

“If I had seen my reflection as something more precious,
He would've never
And if my child needed protection  from a fucker like that man,
 I'd sooner gut him, ‘cause nothing cuts like a mother.”

As a lifelong Paramore fan, Ms. Williams took a minute to reel me in with her solo debut, Petals for Armor, but this was one of the songs that sold me. It’s different from almost anything I could’ve expected from her. Dark, mellow-yet-upbeat, and bass-heavy, Hayley uses her untouchable skills with imagery and vocal control to create an atmospheric experience that immerses the listener in the mood of the track. What really stands out on “Simmer” is one of the aspects I wasn’t sure about at first - Hayley’s own vocals, breathing, and humming are used as somewhat of a sample to accent different parts of the song. It’s still Hayley Williams, it’s still alternative - but it’s not Paramore, and it’s undoubtedly a lot more grown-up.

4. The Test - Pain of Truth

“I’ve gotta get out
Been scratching at these fucking walls
I’m beat up, I’m tired, I’m still in the same fucking spot.”

God damn. Pain of Truth is a Northeast Hardcore band consisting of members of bands like Out For Justice, Hangman, Jab, Rain Of Salvation and Life’s Question - so, essentially, they got some of the most talented musicians in the area, and decided to make straight-up fire. This EP is, without a doubt, some of my favorite hardcore that’s come out this year. Heavy, straightforward hardcore, no frills, no attempts to be anything they’re not. Perfect for releasing your pent-up quarantine rage. I am simultaneously terrified and stoked that their first show is going to be post-quarantine, because I know that means they’re going to get the welcome they deserve - broken noses all around.

5. Shiksa (Girlfriend) - Say Anything

“And even if your whisper eats my ear
Your voice shall be the only song I long to hear”

I have a very aptly-titled playlist called “emo shit” that is strictly early-to-mid-2000’s, well, emo shit. On a long nighttime drive, I put it on shuffle, and was greeted with this 2007 gem. As someone who’s always been a Say Anything fan, I feel like this particular single doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Yeah, there’s plenty of love songs, but none has quite encapsulated the happy disbelief that someone actually likes you and wants to date you like this one does. Also, I think he’s on, like, kid #3 with the girl he wrote this about, so the song clearly worked out, right? Right.

6. Puppet - Never Ending Game

“Controlled by hate for everything 
Just a puppet on a string 
You live a lie 
Death to your kind”

I took way too long to check out this album, and after overcoming the regret I have for that - I’ve been listening to it almost nonstop. This is a great starter track if you’ve never checked out the band. Have you ever found yourself listening to old beatdown bands from the 90’s and thinking, “God, nothing is ever gonna recreate how hard this is”? Well, Never Ending Game plays a brand of unrelentingly heavy hardcore that certainly comes close. One of my personal favorite parts of Never Ending Game is their masterful combining of a “tough guy” sound - that doesn’t always come with stereotypical “tough guy” lyrics. This song in particular actually comes off as a criticism of people who fit that bill, as vocalist Mikey describes those who are controlled by an abundance of hate, while also being easily influenced by others’ - a puppet on a string.

7. Dead Horse - Hayley Williams

“Every morning I wake up From a dream of you, holding me
Underwater (Is that a dream or a memory?)”

While I tried really hard not to put the same artist multiple times, Hayley gets the special privileges - mainly because every song on her debut, “Petals For Armor,” is different from the one before it, making it near-impossible to pick just one. This was the song that really caught my attention. Like the other track I mentioned, “Simmer,”  this track is a complex, driven, alternative-pop song - fit for radio, while also marching to the beat of its own drum. FFO: dark pop, Hayley Williams dragging her ex-husband for the hundredth, extremely deserved time, and fun outros!

8. Shoulder Blades - Have a Good Season

“Looking at you through a telescope lens, 
I can see the way your beauty marks blend 
Constellations, hard to face it 
Maybe I won’t see them there again”

In the aforementioned interview I did with Shackled in June, Dylan and Jake both hyped up this record as one of their favorite releases of the year. After this track was mentioned, I gave it a listen - and I’m really glad I did. The band plays the kind of emo that perfectly balances the nostalgic sounds of early works in the genre, with their own catchy, brightened take.  This song in particular has a really nice summery vibe to it that had me listening to it on repeat. The lyrics seem purposely up to multiple interpretations, with a wistful overtone that makes it hard to tell if the song’s subject is still around or not - but that just makes it easier for more people to find something in it. If you’re into emo of any kind, this song (and the rest of “Shapes I’ve Never Seen”) is definitely worth a listen.

9. 20 seconds : 20 hours - Vein

“Alive by midnight, and dead by the morning star 
This is all I know 
Do you know who you are?”

I am a huge fan of Vein - so the surprise release of “Old Data in a New Machine, Vol 1,” a collection of some re-recorded songs, remixes, demos, and a couple new tracks - has been one of the most exciting things I’ve seen a band put out as of late. This song in particular is essentially an acoustic version of the track “untitled” off of their 2018 record, “errorzone.” The version is so reimagined that I didn’t initially realize the lyrics were the same - and, as much as I love Vein’s usual sound, this stripped-down version does a fantastic job of spotlighting vocalist Anthony DiDio’s lyrical abilities, amidst an atmospheric collection of samples over a simple acoustic guitar. I’ve seen this track compared to acoustic Deftones, and that’s pretty on point. It’s worth a listen, even if you’re not a huge fan of Vein’s heavier material.

10. I Know the End - Phoebe Bridgers

“It's a government drone or an alien spaceship 
Either way, we're not alone, I'll find a new place to be from 
A haunted house with a picket fence, to float around and ghost my friends
No, I'm not afraid to disappear,
The billboard said ‘The End Is Near’ 
I turned around, there was nothing there 
Yeah, I guess the end is here”

Phoebe’s second album, “Punisher,” has been on repeat for me as a whole since it dropped last month, but… Dear god. This song. I’ve been in love with it since I saw Phoebe livestream an acoustic performance last spring. Phoebe perfectly encapsulates her feelings of suburban impending doom, as well as the gnawing feeling that pushes you to driving off into nothing - with no particular goal of where you’ll end up at the end of it. Just the urge to be someone else, somewhere else. Additionally, the song is split into two, with the first half being the typical, slowed-down acoustic ballad we’re used to, slowly transitioning into a more uptempo, guitar-driven vibe that crescendos into an outro full of horns, crashing cymbals, and Phoebe and her shouting friends announcing “the end is here!” I will probably end up reviewing this entire album soon, but this song is an unmatched favorite.

11. Upside Down - The Story So Far

“Now it’s quiet on the front, has been for so many months 
Now it’s wild to remember I was in love with you once

It’s all love now, upside down”

After sleeping on the release of their 2018 record, “Proper Dose,” I heard this song for the first time last summer and fell in love with it. This entire album is such a change from their usual abrasive, scream-along-and-point sound that I’ve loved for so many years. After doing some research, I found out this record came out after a years-long period of silence, in which vocalist Parker Cannon struggled with addiction and a lack of connection to self. He’s since come out and told Kerrang! that he “didn’t want to be pigeonholed as Mr Pop-Punk,” and needed some time away to mature, find his musical footing, and fall back in love with what he does. This song is equal parts tour-based existentialism and lamenting on a past relationship - and it’ll remain a song in my memory from a very personally transformative season, much like the view it was written from. 

12. Pretty Little Birds - SZA (ft. Isaiah Rashad)

“You are but a phoenix among feathers 
You're broken by the waves among the sea 
They'll let you die, they'll let you wash away 
But you swim as well as you fly”

If you’re even remotely familiar with me as a person, you know I’m a massive SZA fan. However, as with all favorite records, we cycle through favorite tracks, and different songs become important at different times in our lives. This track started to resonate after some rough times in June, and I’ve listened to it near-daily ever since. This is another track that seems to be open to interpretation. According to Genius, some think SZA sings about a push-and-pull, on-and-off relationship that struggles to hang on, while others see it as a hurt woman who is trying to open herself up again. Personally, I see it as a metaphor for feeling phoenix-like at different points in one’s life - having everything fall to ashes, but coming right back up, since “the spiral down feels good as the flight.” If you’re not too big on SZA’s radio singles, this is a much more mellow, neo-soul-influenced track, with a well-placed feature from labelmate Isaiah Rashad, that might suit your vibe a little better.

I hope you enjoyed this! If you’re interested in checking out the playlist, you can head on over to the brand new Resonating Spotify account (link), or check it out below.


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