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Astronaut & Spacey: Friday Alternatives

It’s the time of the week again where you put the Nickleback on pause. This week’s Friday Alternatives map the progression of established names in the rock circuit from the noise we’ve come to know and love to a new mature style. For some, the changes are striking. Bands have completely reinvented themselves as artists, seeking a change from the monotony of topping charts. Others have reverted back to a more comfortable style that they saw slipping away during their growing process.
Astronaut and Spacey put the past and the future side by side for a Shutter Island type battle royal. Retro or mod? That is the question. Will you always love the jams that made a band famous or can you respect their maturity? Let’s get it on. *Ding, Ding*

Taking Back Sunday

“El Paso”

Change is nothing new to Taking Back Sunday. Band members have come and gone on an almost album-to-album basis, stemming from conflicts raging from how their music should be written, to sleeping with each other’s girlfriends or sisters. However, for the large part, the band has rarely moved away from its signature driving pop-punk style. Some argue that the group has progressively lost the intensity that made Taking Back Sunday, Taking Back Sunday, especially within their last effort, New Again. Worrying that the guys who provided the anthems when life in high school got too tough, TBS fans rejoiced when the band announced in April of 2010 that former members John Nolan (guitar, vocals) and Shaun Cooper (bass) had rejoined the band. Contributing creators of the group’s first, and most scene-appraised LP, Tell All Your Friends, rockers everywhere are hoping that June 28 (the release date for their upcoming self titled album) will mark the Long Island legends real “new again,” returning to their relentless style choc full of call and return vocals (Nolan’s harsh screams blend oh so well with lead vocalist Adam Lazzara’s raspy croons). Dropping the single “El Paso,” fans might surprised by what they hear. Self described as the hardest song they have ever written, TBS wields a harder, grungy demeanor, driven by crushing riffs and Nolan’s screams, which are more powerful than ever.

Our Opinion: Better- Just because the old line-up has reformed, it doesn’t mean they will produce music like they once did. In fact, that idea is foolish. Now that TBS has been in the game for four albums, their writing styles have undoubtedly changed. Angsty pop-punk is for the young guns who are just trying to make it as a band. I think “El Paso” shows a great deal of maturity for the outfit, and I can only hope the rest of the album is like it.

“Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)”

Thursday

“No Answers”

One of the pioneers of the post-hardcore movement, Thursday has always been known for its aggressive grooves, narrated by Geoff Rickly’s not-so-perfect vocals. However, the band has showed a movement towards a more melodic approach as signaled by its split EP with Envy. No Devolucion redefines Thursday, focusing on atmospheric progressions, occasionally diverging to a bass-heavy grunge feel.

Our Opinion: Better- We believe that this is Thursday’s masterpiece. Both beautiful and heavy, Thursday has proven that it truly is one of the best in the scene.

“For the Workforce, Drowning”

Incubus

“Adolescents”

You can’t beat the frantic nature of Incubus’s 2006 release, Light Grenades. The jams come straight from the soul with crunchy guitar tracks and soulful lyrics courtesy of the always breathtaking Brandon Boyd. But can the Cali rockers take it to a new level?

Our Opinions: With their first release off of the upcoming album, If Not Now, When?, I’ve seen regression rather than progression. “Adolescents” reverts back to the chill Morning View style that became popular in smoke circles and blunt sessions during High School. Instead of a heavyweight guitar track over a fat bass like in Light Grenades, Incubus retreats back to the spacey solos and soaring vocals that originally made them famous. In this case, throwing it in reverse isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It gives old school fans the a taste of jams that originally made them addicts. If the rest of the discogrophy heads in this directions, the album will be easily approachable by all types of alt rock fans.

“Anna Molly”

Emery

“I’m Not Here for Rage I’m Here for Revenge”

While Emery’s style has always been difficult to put in words, there is no denying that its most recent release We Do What We Want is their hardest LP. With the departure of co-lead vocalist Devin Shelton, Emery has moved its focus from the harmonized singing to drummer Dave Powell and guitarist Matt Carter. And these two can really shred. They always have been capable of doing so, but their former efforts did not provide a platform for them to shine. Put those metal horns in the air!

Our Opinion: Better- Even though Devon is gone, Toby has proved that he can hold down the fort. I have been waiting for the moment when Powell and Carter would really show their chops, and I got a small taste of it in 2009’s In Shallow Seas We Sail. While breakdowns can get old, the quartet made sure to keep each set of chugs fresh. Drawing elements from all of their previous releases, the band seamlessly transitions from frantic sections to their typical swag, producing what I believe is one of their best releases.

“Studying Politics”

What do you think? Is the new direction of the aforementioned artists a step in the right direction? Or are we doomed to jamming ‘old school’ tracks to get a fix of our favorite artists?

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