Album Review: Broken Baby – Late Stage Optimism

Artist: Broken Baby

Album: Late Stage Optimism

Genre: Alternative Rock/Indie Rock/Post-Punk

Label: Poor Man Records

Rating: 8/10

There’s a bone I’ve got to pick with major music publications. For awhile now “Rock” and its countless subgenres have been neglected by your favorite cool and contemporary music blogs and publications, and this stems from the misguided belief that “rock is dead.” Now I’m not here to scream “Rock is not dead!” like a character straight out of a Wayne’s World movie, but the negligence that plagues the modern Rock world is more problematic than you think. Rock is not the zeitgeist, and it hasn’t been for over a decade. In fact, the last movement to reach commercial success other than the short-lived Garage Rock Revival scene of the early 2000s was the Nu-Metal movement, and I’m not even going to mention how embarrassing that is. This is problematic because the countless bands in the Rock world whether it be Post-Punk, Alternative Rock, Garage Rock, Punk Rock, Indie Rock etc. aren’t being pushed to the masses enough, and this failure falls on major streaming platforms and their poorly curated playlists, and most contemporary Rock stations whose heaviest or most cutting edge band they play is “Twenty One Pilots.” This unfortunately leads to less exposure. That isn’t to say Rock bands aren’t thriving in the underground. In fact, this gives countless bands the chance to garner a more devoted fan base, which will weed out the trend-hoppers, and the internet is so vast that you can discover as many bands as you want at anytime. I just would like to see more music publications providing a more in depth analysis when covering Rock bands. This has got me thinking that L.A. based duo “Broken Baby’s” new album Late Stage Optimism would have topped the charts had it been released in the 90s or early 2000s. Not that the album is derivative or overly nostalgic, but there was more of a respectful focus on Rock music in those times. However, don’t misconstrue my old man yells at cloud rant about contemporary Rock music as charity or a ploy to get you to feel sorry for Broken Baby and other bands of their like, because Broken Baby are doing just fine with their explosive, fun, thought-provoking, and infectious music. Their sophomore album Late Stage Optimism is their best work by far, and the perfect example of how to correctly combine attitude driven guitar Rock with Pop sensibilities. The Pop elements come from lead singer Amber Bollinger’s catchy as Hell vocals, and I do mean catchy. She has crafted some of the most sing-along-able choruses I’ve heard in a very long time, but along with those catchy hooks lies her sharp and witty lyrical content. These lyrics refuse to stay in one spot, they tackle important topics but the album never gets too bleak or serious, which may be a reflection on how we awkwardly approach touchy topics or try to exit certain conversations with a nervous laugh, and this might be a complete misinterpretation, but I feel like the frequent sense of humor on this album satirizes the try-hards out there who speak out against injustice but freeze up when confronted with the real deal. A track like “Madonna’s a Dick” has no business being that catchy given the fact that it’s about the unfair treatment women face in the entertainment business where they’re sexualized and faced with double standards, but if you want people to listen, sometimes you have to lure them in with straight-forward catchiness. However that sense of humor and sense of fun are far from performative, because it’s evident that the two have a natural sense of humor. Just listen to the opening track “Get the Piss Up” and you’ll know what I mean. The track is a celebration of those moments when you’re having the time of your life dancing and raging with friends. The catchiest track on the album “Manic Panic” has some clever wordplay that inspires me to write better, not to mention the line “Nada Surf with you” on the closing track “Hand Heat” still blows my mind. These multi-faceted lyrics have prompted me to over-analyze, and the journey has been frustrating and immensely enticing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Is the track “Meaniac” about men victimizing themselves and labeling women “mean” when they don’t get what they want? Is the track “Cloud Coverage” about escapism and the many vices we use to bury vulnerability? Am I completely misinterpreting these songs? Am I really being over-analytical? All of these questions arise while the music sounds fully-fleshed out with just two primary members, and this is the result of guitarist and backing vocalist Alex Dezen’s eclectic guitar stylings. This is some of the most unique and utterly infectious guitar work I’ve heard on a record in quite a long time. I believe this album will forever remain timeless. Though it has elements of genres that will remind you of an older era, it still manages to sound modern and features topics that will remain relevant for a very long time, and who can deny the addicting personality this album offers? If there’s an album that can get the masses to pay attention to the Rock world it’s this one, and I feel like this is the step in the right direction, but don’t simply lump Broken Baby in a category, because Broken Baby are Broken Baby, and no one else.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

IDLES Announce New Album “Crawler,” Share New Single “The Beachland Ballroom”

IDLES will release their follow-up to their critically acclaimed album Ultra Mono on November 12th via “Partisan Records.” The album is titled Crawler, and is coproduced by Kenny Beats. The band have also shared a new single titled “The Beachland Ballroom,” which is a massive departure from their previous work. About the track, lead singer Joe Talbot states “It’s the most important song on the album, really, There’s so many bands that go through the small rooms and dream of making it into the big rooms. Being able to write a soul tune like this made me go, fuck , we’re at a place where we’re actually allowed to go to these big rooms and be creative and not just go through the motions and really appreciate what we’ve got. The song is sort of an allegory of feeling lost and getting through it. It’s one that I really love singing.” You can watch the music video for “The Beachland Ballroom” below:

Parquet Courts Announce New Album “Sympathy for Life,” Share New Single “Walking at a Downtown Pace”

It seems like forever ago since we last heard new music from “Parquet Courts,” and that’s because so much has happened since the release of their last album Wide Awake! You don’t need me to list everything that has happened since then, so instead of delving into the obvious, let’s take a break from the unfortunate reality that renders us divided, and talk about the exciting news that after three years the band are finally releasing their follow-up Sympathy for Life on October 22nd via “Rough Trade Records.” “Wide Awake! was a record you could put on at a party, Sympathy for Life is influenced by the party itself,” says member Austin Brown. As stated by the band, the album was made pre-pandemic, and the songs were created by taking long improvisations and moulding them through their own editing. The band have also shared the album’s opening track “Walking at a Downtown Pace,” which is accompanied by a music video comprised of shots documenting New York City party life. You can watch the music video for “Walking at a Downtown Pace,” as well as pre-order Sympathy for Life below:

https://parquetcourts.bandcamp.com/album/sympathy-for-life

Broken Baby Share New Single “Hand Heat”

Just like that, “Broken Baby” release one of the best love songs i’ve ever heard. Now before you roll your eyes at the term “love song,” let me assure you that the L.A. duo’s new single “Hand Heat” isn’t your typical glamorized Hollywood romanticism, nor is it a cynical look on relationships and romance, instead it is a Punk Rock love story that stays away from the “we belong together forever” cliché’s and replaces them with those real life feelings of love. You know, those moments of staying in and lying on each other on the couch while deciding what to watch next. You don’t know what the future holds, but you know this is where you want to be at this very moment. The track will appear on the band’s upcoming album Late Stage Optimism which is scheduled to be released on September 24th via the band’s own label “Poor Man Records.” You can watch the music video for “Hand Heat,” as well as pre-order the upcoming album below:

https://brokenbaby.bandcamp.com/album/late-stage-optimism

Broken Baby Share New Single “Get the Piss Up”


I’ve never heard the phrase “get the piss up” before, but it sounds exciting, and it sounds like a fun night of dancing terribly, getting a little too drunk, and hitting up Denny’s at 3:00 A.M. because it’s the only restaurant that’s open at that time. After a year of isolation where we were all stuck inside, much of our partying consisted of getting a little too drunk at home and watching bad reality T.V. Fortunately, Los Angeles Garage Rock duo “Broken Baby” made best of the situation and recorded a rager of a track that proves you can have a good time in any situation whether it be at a show or in your own garage. That’s right, “Get the Piss Up” is the title of the band’s new single, and it’s a fun track that offers a bit of hope, which is a fun alternative to the general consensus that we’re all doomed. You can watch the music video for “Get the Piss Up” below:

Track Review: Flying Rabbit – The Clap


Artist: Flying Rabbit

Song: The Clap

Genre: Psychedelic Rock/Alternative Rock/Jazz

Label: Self-released

Music that delves into the endless abyss of thought provoking themes and topics our multifaceted brains are capable of conjuring up is music that isn’t too keen on escapism. As compelling as this music may be, there’s a time and place for it, and sometimes we need an escape from reality. After all, I’m pretty sure your local bar isn’t the ideal place to play songs about existentialism on the jukebox. “Who wants shots?! Now what’s the meaning of life?” Sometimes music about the spirit of music and it’s healing abilities will suffice. “Flying Rabbit” are a band whose music contains immense substance and creativity, but they can also be a band that likes to have fun, and their song “The Clap” indicates that. This is the band’s version of a dance anthem. A dance anthem that resides in their own universe. This isn’t exactly club music, it’s definitely a “Flying Rabbit” song, but it is a celebration of the primal urge to dance when we hear an infectious rhythm. When we hear music that moves us, we dance, we sing, we clap. The sounds emitted from music possesses one person and goes to another, and another, and another. It’s contagious, it spreads. I can think of another thing under the name “the clap” that spreads, but I’m not going to get into that. Sorry, I just had to say it. Is this a comical analogy? The song title did prompt me to chuckle like a kid in class whose teacher just dropped the F-bomb, but in all seriousness, this track shows the immense versatility “Flying Rabbit” have in their song writing abilities and musicianship. They can make music for all moods. Now throw on this song and clap along. 

Written By: Steven Sandoval


Track Review: Flying Rabbit – In the Middle


Artist: Flying Rabbit

Song: In the Middle

Genre: Alternative/Jazz/Psychedelic Rock

Label: Self-released

 There’s no denying the fact that Oslo, Norway-based band “Flying Rabbit” stand on their own musically, lyrically, and aesthetically as they plunge themselves into a musical realm they’ve created on their own, not succumbing to any contemporary musical trends. Seriously, what other bands out there right now can you say “Flying Rabbit” sound like? I bet you can’t name any, and on top of that how do you categorize their music? Is their a name for Psychedelic-tinged Swing music with theatrical vocals that soar high and topical content that has no interest in sugar-coating the issues brought on by the current state of our species? It’s refreshing hearing a band this unique in this day and age of recycled ideas. The band have dropped another refreshing new track titled “In the Middle.” Unsurprisingly, much thought is provoked after hearing the line “Stand in the middle with me” from said track. What is the middle? Does it represent centrism in politics? Is this a cry from a class that appears to be fading due to the cost of living rising while most citizens can’t rely solely on the low wages they receive to live comfortably? Or does this represent unique personal identity, art, and ideas that separate themselves from the zeitgeist of the modern world? These are all loaded questions that arise when hearing “In the Middle,” and yet, the band have no interest in bombarding us with lectures or sloganeering. Instead, they offer skillfully upbeat instrumentation with a slightly sinister melody filled with the band’s signature Jazz soaked rhythm section combined with guitars that range from groovy to Southern Gothic to back the lyrical themes of corporate greed and the evils of cutthroat competition. This is music to dance to while the world falls apart, and in the midst of it all lead vocalist Emily C. Brannigan urges us to stand in the middle with her where our mind, body, and soul are intact, devoid of greedy corruption. It’s hard to make a song like this and not fall into cheap anthem territory, but “Flying Rabbit” do it so seamlessly, which makes their music that much more genuine.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Vanarin Share New Single “Care”

Italian band “Vanarin” have returned with a new single titled “Care.” Set to appear on their upcoming full-length album Treading Water, “Care” is the most adventurous the band have sounded musically with a synth-driven outro that brings to mind 80’s Sci-Fi/Horror á la John Carpenter. The track is lusciously dreamy, and the lyrical content reflects the moody yet groovy tone of the music speaking on those moments where we get lost in our own thoughts, and i’m sure most will agree with me that we’ve had plenty of self-reflection to deal with thanks to our current pandemic. You can watch the music video for “Care” below:

Tarah Who? Share New Single “Manners”

“Tarah Who?” have been on a roll this year so far. Not too long ago they released their superb rage-filled song about the unfair treatment most of us face in the workplace titled “Swallow That Pill,” and today the band have released their follow-up single “Manners.” This track is less aggressive in nature, but no less impactful than “Swallow That Pill.” The song is inspired by lead singer Tarah Carpenter’s mother who was abandoned as a child and raised by nuns who were really strict. “She always puts herself last and tries to understand everyone, which is a real strength. It occurred to me one day that she was taught to be a good citizen, with good manners, but no one really cared for her as a parent would,” explains Carpenter. You can watch the music video for “Manners” below:

Panic State Share New Single “Viral Love”

Valentine’s Day was almost a week ago, but London based trio “Panic State” aren’t done sharing the love, viral love that is. Today the band dropped their new single “Viral Love” and it’s the band’s most fun track yet filled with energetic instrumentation and an earworm of a chorus that will have you shouting the lyrics. You can listen to “Viral Love” below: