Reviews of Summer 2019’s Alternative Singles

Maybe you’re an alternative music junkie like me, or maybe you want to explore a new genre. Either way, here are some alternative singles released this summer, and my ratings and opinions on them.

 

1. “Nightmare” by Halsey (Alternative)

This single and its music video were released on May 16th. There’s nothing like a powerful feminist song to kick off the summer. The music video features Cara Delevigne and many other badass women emphasizing that women don’t need to smile or be complacent, but need to stand up for themselves. It’s a sure shift from the heart-breaking “Without Me,” but assures us that Halsey is still writing and standing out among the male-dominated platform that is alternative music.

I give this song a 5/5. The only thing I would critique about this song is the opening dialogue doesn’t seem to tie in super well, but otherwise, this song is a hit. “I’m no sweet dream but a hell of a night” is a great line and the female empowerment is palpable in the song so that it comes out strong, not forced, at a time that is much needed.

 

2. “Unsainted” by Slipknot (Alternative Metal)

Released May 16th as well, this single is sure to hype up fans patiently waiting for the release of We Are Not Your Kind, which is set for release on August 9th. It followed the single “All Out Life” and with both songs Slipknot assures its fans that there is still a hardcore sound out there. Many bands within the alternative community have shifted towards pop, but not Slipknot. “Unsainted” is a play on the word “untainted” and uses anti-religious lyrics such as “Pick a lord and you pray to it” and stands out with its catchy repetition of “I’ll never kill myself to save my soul.” Anyone who is looking for alternative music with more of an edge that doesn’t take away from its quality should be sure to check out this latest hit.

I give this song a 3.5 out of 5. The song is good, but it didn’t really stickwith me. It’s not as catchy as “All Out Life,” the track that came before it, in fact I think that track overshadows it. The lyrics are strong and the imagery is neat, but the chorus could have been better. The song is saved by its lyrical creativity that stands out to me as a staple of the band. It isn’t the song that would make me love Slipknot, but it is one that would get me to listen.

3. “Turbulent” by Waterparks (Alternative)

This song was originally leaked over an Instagram live back in April but now officially released May 23rd. “Turbulent” is as bitter as they come but also catchy and is surely a more intense jump from Double Dare, their debut album. The more aware fan may have seen a song like this coming due to the breakup lead singer Awsten Knight went through, or a love for intensity prequeled with the band’s “TANTRUM,” and the resentful lyrics of “Worst” (one of my personal favorites). This song starts a new era for Parx fans that was hinted at when Knight dyed his hair green to match the era. He typically dies his hair for the era, specifically dying his hair purple for the previous “era” of Entertainment. The song has already been performed shortly after the release at the Slam Dunk Festival. Fans should be sure to keep their eyes out for more releases, though what direction the band will take their sound in is intriguing. Will the new album continue this bold edge, or will they turn back to their roots of sugary songs like “Stupid for You” and Knight’s personal favorite of their songs, “Take Her to the Moon?”

I give this song a 4.5 out of 5. My only problem with this song is its length. A shocking track that is only barely over two minutes? That’s disappointing. But the guitar solo, smashing lyrics, and painful bridge all come together to create a memorable song for what I think is one of the best titles that has come out in a while. Maybe “you had your own Pete Wentz and Patrick combined” is a cocky line, but lyricist Awsten Knight did get permission for the name drop and to be honest, I really like the song. Perhaps “I’d unf*ck you if I could” resembles “Undrunk” by FLETCHER, but the similarities seem to be coincidence. Overall, it’s a song I’ll continue to listen to and one that makes me eager for more from the band.

4. “Never There” by Sum 41 (Alternative Rock)

This single was released on June 18th and is a dedication to single parents. It starts with acoustic guitar and soft vocals by Deryck Whibley. The music video features lead singer Whibley playing piano and guitar while telling the story of a young boy and his mother surviving without his father. Lines like “even though you’re never there // I didn’t feel you disappear” and “If I had the chance I'd let you know // That I understand” capture the song well. This song and its video is a sure heads up for fans anxiously awaiting the band’s newest album, Order in Decline, which will come out on July 19th. The album has been called an improvement to what the band has come out with before (Sputnik Muisc). The album includes “Never There” as its ballad and the rest of the album is much heavier on the guitars than this track, but that’s sure to be a relief to fans worried Sum 41 have lost their roots. The band is known for its politicality, and that seems to come back though not on this track, but is for sure on the album.

I give this song 3.5 out of 5 because it is very sweet and emotional. I like the lyrics, but I don’t know if it’s a song that will withstand time and the creation of more memorable songs. It is well crafted and gentle, and it is nice that a rock band can make such a soft song, but in general I don’t plan on really listening again. Again, love that it is meaningful, but the song is just alright.

5. “Leave It All Behind” by Sleeping with Sirens (Alternative Rock)

Fans have been divided due to a shift in genre made by SWS. The creators of emo/hardcore songs “If You Can’t Hang” and “Kick Me” made a shift with the releases of Madness and especially Gossip. But now fans speculate they have returned to their roots of hardcore guitar and screaming vocals with June 19th’s release of “Leave It All Behind.” The music video features lead singer Kellin Quinn with his newly bleached hair and dramatic scenes of him jumping out a window to his death, but fighting his demons by singing, “I wanna kill the pain I feel inside // But I won't quit for the people I love.” Old fans are thrilled by this hint at a return to an older sound. There is merit in the song’s attempt to touch sensitive subjects like suicide and depression, but is it done well enough?. Fans surely await the upcoming album How It Feels To Be Lost which will be released September 6th, along with the answer of questions about what direction Quinn will take SWS in.

There is nothing more familiar than a singer’s voice that you have followed throughout their discography. As soon as I heard Kellin Quinn’s voice I felt like I was greeting an old friend. Though, I have to say, I don’t know how to feel. This song caught me by surprise. Can this band make up their mind? Are they pop or heavy? I’m not really sure. Pop seemed to really suit Quinn’s voice on tracks like “Gossip.” But this song has screaming that is reminiscent of older Sleeping with Sirens, but I’m unsure that the song lives up to all that was old SWS. This song is somewhere between all the sounds SWS have tried out, somewhat like “Empire Into Ashes” though not as intricate of lyrics. I would like it if SWS would just pick a genre and stick to it, though I have respect for all bands that try new things, or ones that change to be less heavy for their vocal sakes. Overall, the song isn’t that bad and I’d give it a strong 3.5 out of 5. I give it this because I’m not dying to listen again, but the song isn’t bad, just a little forced in my opinion.

6. “Wish We Never Met” by WhoHurtYou (Alternative Pop)

Jack Barakat, bassist of All Time Low announced on June 18th that he and Kevin Fisher were going to release new music as a side project. Recently, the lead singer of All Time Low, Alexander Gaskarth, collaborated with a member of Blink-182, Mark Hoppus, to create Simple Creatures. It looks like Gaskarth isn’t the only ATL member with a side project. After a year that followed a difficult breakup, Barakat has announced that the music will surround mental health and his personal coping. “Wish We Never Met” was released on June 21st to kickoff WhoHurtYou with a catchy song with rather painful lyrics. The song and music video depicts a person who is trying to be happy for their ex, but deep down, struggles with handling the breakup. Barakat is wishing his ex is lonely like him, a common feeling that listeners can easily connect to. But what sells this song is its electro-pop sound that blends well with Fisher’s stylized vocals, especially when he sings the title of the song.

I’m a big Jack Barakat fan. I didn’t expect him to make his own music and was excited for this song. It’s a great song and I’d give it a ⅘. I’m not giving it a 5/5 because I think the vocals had too much autotune for my taste. I like clean vocals and I think the vocals could have been more emotional for such a painful song. However, I understand that perhaps this was a choice to make the song more catchy rather than upsetting. I do really like the song, and will listen again. I’ll even check out more music from Barakat, and will do so optimistically.

7. “Freaking Out” by The Wrecks (Alternative Rock)

Released on June 21st, this single stands out as it is the title track of the upcoming album. The Wrecks use the ability to change the intensity of the song by going from minimal to maximum power in many of their songs. In other words, they change the emotion of their songs drastically between verse and chorus, and it’s something I think they do well. The line “I look at her, she looks at me . . . I’m freaking out” has a very Modern Baseball-esque way of saying taking to someone cute is terrifying. Being awkward is relatable and that really sells this song. The contrast of the lyrics “I feel fine, the best I’ve felt in quite a while” with “I’m freaking out” alludes to lying to yourself or those around you. Anyone else reminded of Gerard Way desperate cry of “I mean this, I’m okay”? from “I’m Not Okay” by My Chemical Romance? There seems to be a parallel between their EP being named Panic Vertigo and their newest track having an internally screaming mantra. This single comes off honest, bold, and even comical. I look forward to more songs from The Wrecks, and will certainly keep my eye out for their upcoming album.

I would give this song a 5/5. I really love it. What I love is how unique the song is along with the fact that The Wrecks seem to be true to themselves. I know their first EP Panic Vertigo by heart along with some of their other tracks like “Favorite Liar” and though this track stands out as something new, I think the band did a good job of not going out on the limb too much. This is a song I listened to all summer after its release and I will surely be “freaking out” when the upcoming album is released. The Wrecks are up and coming and I can’t wait for them to make it big. With songs like this, I think they’ll only get more successful. 

8. “HEAVEN AND BACK” by Chase Atlantic (Alternative Pop)

I have to say the song isn’t bad. It sounds like Chase Atlantic, though I think Mitchell Cave’s voice is a little annoying. Apparently the new album, PHASES, has a cocky vibe. I have nothing against artists coming off as above everyone else. Ronnie Radke from Falling in Reverse is known for it and sometimes he pulls it off, and I think Hollywood Undead’s brand is pretty much bragging. But Chase Atlantic are not Hollywood Undead. They are a pop boy band that started with sweet songs like “Hold Your Breath” that i actually really like. Their one rock song, “Okay” was kind of a hit, and though it advocates the use of drugs, I was willing to overlook that. Their self-titled album is good and I was looking forward to PHASES. Though I do like this song, recently, the lead singer encouraged the harassment of my favorite music critic and for that I have to unstan the band.

Overall, I’d give the song a 3.5/5 because of the vocals being slightly irritating and the fact that the song doesn’t really have a good message. Yes, I like the song and I like listening to it, but because of the controversy I do not plan on listening to the new album when it comes out. I’ll continue to enjoy their older stuff, but from what John from ARTV says, and I do trust him, the album isn’t exactly a hit.

9. “The Violence” by Asking Alexandria (Alternative Metal)

Many fans were disappointed by this track when it was released July 11th, especially since it was hyped up to be something as heavy as the band’s last full-length release: their self-titled album from 2017. To summarize, “The Violence” isn’t violent enough for some fans. However, if fans are dismissing the song because it’s “not heavy enough” then they are missing out. John from ARTV makes a good point in his YouTube video that you shouldn’t judge the quality of a song by its heaviness. I agree with John that this song has some excellent guitar riffs and smashing drums. I love the way the song starts with the drums and how it pulls you in as you anxiously await the intensity of the song. The music video is also killer due to it being about a reverse zombie apocalypse. Plus, though a little cliche, the fact that “the song is about the way mainstream media and politicians manipulate and spread mistruth” makes me gravitate towards it. Perhaps the song sacrifices heaviness to be catchier than others, but it still deserves a listen.

I know Asking Alexandria for “A Prophecy” and have always seen them as a band that can make heaviness memorable and not about shocking the listener but about truly reaching them. This song isn’t that emotional, but it has the political vibe that is catching on right now. Imagine the message of “Love It If We Made It” by The 1975 meets the intensity of Ice Nine Kills or Slipknot. I give this song a 3 out of 5. It’s not as bad as people have said, in fact, it is a good song. It’s not one of my favorites, but I don’t think it deserves being completely dismissed.

10. “Death of Me” by PVRIS (Alternative Rock)

Finally, an alternative band with a female lead singer! Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, along with the other members, is featured in the music video made for this song. It was released July 12th with a cultish but elegant music video that plays with haunting lighting and a slithering snake. The song pushes the feminist and independent vibes of “My House” with the same intensity of all the beloved PVRIS songs. This song is about a doomed relationship, and learning to be on your own without someone you loved. Lynn’s angelic voice has a smooth quality through the verses, but the rocking choruses, and the build up to them made with the hook “maybe I'm crazy, I know you're danger” is what really makes this song such a hit.

I give this song a 4 out of 5. I think the lead singer let her voice be a little too edited. Though perhaps this adds to the effect of the song, I think it can take away from the quality. This band seems to like adding a unique sound to their vocals, but I think showing off the lead singer’s voice could have made the song better. Overall, the song could have been stronger, but I still do love to listen to it.

11. “Send Her to Heaven” by The All-American Rejects (Alternative Rock)

July 16th marks the date this single from the band that brought us one of the best I’m-salty-about-my-break-up-songs: “Gives You Hell.” The music video features Cailee Spaeny who plays “Molly,” the girl who “liked her drinks, see, and her adderall.” The vibrant red lighting and scenes from the music video compliment the song. The line “she tried to quit, but she just can’t stop” reminds the listener of the ongoing addiction crisis, but the song’s lazy vibe doesn’t seem to be fighting the epidemic. The surprise three track EP Send Her to Heaven is a true treat for big fans of the band, though it’ll be up to them whether this track holds its ground compared to the other songs on the EP.

I give this song a 2.5/5. The first couple seconds of the song reminds me vaguely of Arctic Monkeys, but not like, in a fabulous way. It starts lazily, and besides the vocals, does not sound distinctly like the band’s other songs. The song is catchy, but a little repetitive and emotionless in my opinion. The song could get in my head, but I don’t know if I really want it there. This band has been around for a while and I respect that they are still making music, especially about such a current issue like drug abuse, and the song isn’t horrible, but I don’t really like it much.

12. “RIP” by Roseburg (Alternative)

This song was released July 5th by an unsigned band that is truly up and coming. The single features Kellin Quinn, the newly bleach blonde singer that has been the frontman for Sleeping with Sirens since 2009. The band stands out as it is founded by three missionary Mormons. The name of the band comes from where it was formed, Roseburg, Oregon. Their debut album, Righteous Punk, will be out in the fall of 2019, so that’s something to look forward to.

This song starts with a killer guitar riff. The opening notes instantly get the listener hooked and wanting to listen. Then the drums start and the lyrics pour in to set the scene as a Corpse Bride like song with lines like , “a cemetery full of dead love,” and “Remember when you told me that you love me? // Kill the memories.” The rhyme of “hearts” with “graveyard” in the Pre-Chorus makes it stand out, but what sells the song to me is the end of the second verse’s heartbreak and the outro. Though I have to admit, overall, the lyrics are somewhat repetitive. The imagery and emotion are real and the song is unconventional, which I like, but I think they could have done more with the song. The band is sure to rise to fame with the help of Kellin Quinn, but they shouldn’t need to lean on him too much because I score this song a 3.5/5, and it’s on the edge of almost a 4. The bridge is catchy, sure, but its quality lyrically is just not that great. All in all, I think Roseburg have great potential, look forward to hearing their debut album, and eventually hearing their sound mature.

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