Category Archives: Pop

If you like Blink-182, then you’ll like MxPx

Blink-182 -

Blink-182 –

Blink-182 is a rock band made up of three members: Travis Barker, Tom DeLonge, and Mark Hoppus. The band formed in 1992 in California. While all of the members have side projects – some extremely successful ones, such as +44 and Angels & Airwaves – Blink-182 has been and will continue to be their most successful endeavor. The group broke up in 2005 after arguments about their future direction, but after Barker was severely injured in a plane crash the band came together again in 2008. The next year, they played a hugely successful reunion tour.

Their style ranges from a rough alternative rock sound to a more polished pop-punk sound – there is a clear progression from their first album to their most recent album. Blink-182’s first album since their reunion, “Neighborhoods”, peaked at number two on the Billboard charts. They just released an EP called “Dogs Eating Dogs” in December 2012.

MxPx -

MxPx –

MxPx sounds quite similar to Blink-182. They formed in Washington in 1992 and have released nine albums plus several EPs and singles. Their lineup, like Blink-182’s, consists of three members. The band’s sound is reminiscent of earlier Blink-182; they have maintained a grungier, punk rock style. Their songs are comparable to those heard on Blink-182’s albums “Cheshire Cat” and “Dude Ranch”. They sing about anti-conformity, challenging authority, and not wanting to grow up.

One thing that definitely separates MxPx from Blink-182 is that MxPx has called themselves a Christian band. While they say they are not trying to preach to anyone, subtle religious themes can be found in their music. The band’s latest album, “Plans Within Plans”, was released in April 2012.

Check out “Responsibility”:

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If you like Phoenix, then you’ll like Friendly Fires

Phoenix is an alternative rock band from France that, in recent years, has become wildly popular in the US. Their breakthrough album was “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”, released in May 2009. Their single from that album, “1901”, was featured in a Green Bay Packers montage during the Super Bowl the following year. This immediately launched the band to a new level of popularity.

Phoenix -

Phoenix –

While the band has many ties to traditional rock ‘n’ roll, Phoenix puts a unique twist on their music. Their style has become more defined and consistent with each album they have released. The latest, “Bankrupt!”, is set to be released later this month.

Similar to Phoenix is the band Friendly Fires. The band is based in England and released their debut album in 2009. “Pala”, their second album, came out in May 2011. Sadly, the band’s trumpet player passed away unexpectedly just a few months after “Pala” was released. Friendly Fires bounced back and played their biggest tour ever at the end of 2011.

Friendly Fires -

Friendly Fires –

While Phoenix and Friendly Fires have several similar characteristics (check out their web addresses!), Friendly Fires has a less consistent style. They range from traditional alternative rock to a dancier pop sound. However, the band has said that they do not intend to stick to the poppy style heard in “Pala”. Instead, singer Ed MacFarlane says they want to do something completely different. He has been quoted saying they are “still learning how to write music” and that the next album will likely contain “more drawn-out, psychedelic jams”.

Check out “Hurting”:

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If you like Arcade Fire, then you’ll like Beach House

Arcade Fire formed in Canada in 2003. The group is a unique blend of indie-rock and orchestral music. They garnered major attention in 2004 with the release of their debut album, “Funeral”, and have continued to gain popularity ever since. In addition, they are the only band to have won their first and only Grammy in the “Album of the Year” category.

Arcade Fire -

Arcade Fire –

With seven members, Arcade Fire is a large group. Their genius blend of instruments results in a very full, diverse sound. Violin, cello, and accordion are just some of the instruments featured alongside the traditional blend of guitar, bass, and drums. The band also has both female and male vocalists.

While Arcade Fire is certainly a unique venture, their sound has clearly inspired several groups. One of these groups is called Beach House. Beach House formed in 2004 in Baltimore, Maryland. Unlike Arcade Fire, Beach House is composed of just two members, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. They have a style that is quite similar to that of Arcade Fire and has been characterized as “dream pop“.

Beach House -

Beach House –

The band attracted attention with its third album, “Teen Dream”. The album was released in 2010 and received great reviews. Stars such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé were even seen at one of the band’s shows. Like Arcade Fire, Beach House has both a female and male vocalist, although Victoria sings lead on most of their tracks. She also plays the organ, which gives the group a vaguely orchestral feel akin to that of Arcade Fire. The vocal style of both groups is echoing and almost haunting – the singers have a far-off feel to their voices that perfectly complements the full, smooth instrumental backing.

“Bloom”, Beach House’s latest album, was released in May 2012. Since then, the band has performed on various late night talk shows and at several music festivals.

Check out “Myth”, by Beach House:

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Fun. Wins “Best New Artist” at the Grammys

The 55th annual Grammy Awards aired this past Sunday, showcasing great artists spanning multiple generations and genres.  One of the most coveted awards, “Best New Artist”, was given to the band Fun.  Fun. burst onto the scene this year with hits like “We Are Young” and “Some Nights”, catching the attention of listeners with their unique style and catchy tunes.  The group’s songs appeal to a wide audience and their instant classics have an eternally happy, anthem-like feel.


Fun. at the Grammy Awards –

Fun. was up against Frank Ocean, Alabama Shakes, Hunter Hayes, and The Lumineers for the Grammy.  While all of the nominees made a significant impact on the musical community this past year, Fun. prevailed.  “I totally agree with the results,” said Danny Yocius, 20.  The University of Iowa sophomore continued, “I’ve been a fan of Fun. for a while now and I think they deserved it.  They got crazy popular crazy fast.”

Making it as a new artist has never been easy; being named the “best” new artist is even harder.  Many fans believe Fun.’s one-of-a-kind nature is what helped them come out on top.  The band is a cheery blend of Queen-inspired harmonies and chant-like singing.  Their lilting, memorable melodies are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac and The Beach Boys.  Fun. frontman Nate Ruess told Spin Magazine that his other major influences include Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Smashing Pumpkins, and Kanye West.


Fun. performing live –

Although being unique can be an advantage, trailblazing is not always easy for a new artist.  “It’s the fans that make it work,” said Michael Hilger, a talent scout at Mighty Toad Studios. “The artist just needs to get the music to the right people.”  Jennifer Vaile, 19, was not happy with Fun.’s win at the Grammy Awards.  “I guess I’m just more old-fashioned,” the University of Iowa sophomore said, “But I would have liked to see The Lumineers or Alabama Shakes win it.  They just seem more raw to me and more of what the music industry needs right now.”

Hilger, having worked with new artists, described how gratifying it is to finally see all of the nominees enjoy success after inevitably difficult beginnings: “You don’t have a lot of capital to work with [when you first start out] but you will do whatever you can to get your music out into a public space.  You will have your die-hard fans, who are amazing and will support you with everything you do.  But it’s the rest of the public you want behind you.  It’s not easy, but when you finally get there, it’s amazing.”

What do YOU think of Fun.’s win at the Grammy Awards?

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