Review Rundown: Trent Hancock, the Wonder Years, You, Me and Everyone We Know, the Dance Party, the Sleeping

This edition of the Review Rundown offers looks into the new releases from Trent Hancock, the Wonder Years, You, Me and Everyone We Know, the Dance Party and the Sleeping.

File Under: Singer/Songwriter
Trent Hancock – “Ghostbird” EP (Unsigned): Trent Hancock isn’t a songwriter looking to shock and awe you. He isn’t trying to trick or fool you in any way with his simple, yet smooth, passionate writing style. Sure, he won’t do those things, but he will entertain you, comfort you and surprise you. Well, his new EP “Ghostbird” will if given the chance. All of those afore mentioned attributes also apply in describing the tone of this new EP release – it’s honest, straight forward and endearing. These wonderful six songs are worth mentioning all on their own, though its half of them, the hooky, melody driven ‘Zale,’ Jason Mraz/ Jack Johnson-esque tenor of ‘I Lost My Way’ and piano fueled ‘Me & You,’ that stand a cut above the rest in the end. After “Ghostbird,” there’s no denying that Hancock is a pure talent, one we all should be spending a little more time with. (
Grade: B
Go Download: ‘Falling Faster’

File Under: Indie Pop-Rock
You, Me and Everyone We Know – “Some Things Don’t Wash Out” (Doghouse Records): “Some Things Don’t Wash Out” serves as the first proper full length from Washington, DC’s You, Me and Everyone We Know, a record that at times sounds as if was scooped up off the cutting room floor of recording sessions from bands like Say Anything and Ludo. No, it’s not a carbon copy, though it does utilize some of the tricks of the trade employed by those afore mentioned bands – painfully honest, almost heart-on-sleeve irrevocability fronted by a voice that’s mostly askew. No, it’s not Max Bemis, this time it’s Ben Liebsch. Upon first listen “Some Things Don’t Wash Out” might come across as slightly jarring if you’re not prepared, but the record and its genuine blend of indie rock and pop will hold up upon further spins, something not many records of this ilk can boast. The album prides itself on just the right amount of quirky eccentricity, achieved through songs like ‘I’m Losing Weight for You,’ ‘Livin’ Th’ Dream,’ ‘Bootstraps’ and ‘James Brown Is Dead,’ that combine big hooks with anthemic sing-a-longs. The brazen rocker ‘A Little Bit More’ and clap-a-long ‘Moon, Roll Me Away’ highlight the work, regardless of the fact that the latter effort closes “Some Things Don’t Wash Out.” Liebsch’s lyrics are often scathing, but fans wouldn’t have it any other way and honestly, “Some Things Don’t Wash Out” would be an entirely different animal if not for Liebsch. The overall package here is interesting and overall enjoyable, and the album’s catchiness is pretty undeniable. Yeah, it’s not breaking any new ground, but what’re you going to do? There aren’t a whole lot of bands that can say that for themselves. (
Grade: B-
Go Download: ‘A Little Bit More’

File Under: Perfect Pop-Punk
The Wonder Years – “The Upsides” (Hopeless Records): With the Wonder Years move from No Sleep Records to Hopeless, the band and brainchild Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell decided it was necessary to re-release the bands pop-punk opus, “the Upsides.” And with the re-release we are all reminded just how talented this band truly is. Also, with the re-release we get four new bleeding heart tracks, ‘I Was Scared and I’m Sorry,’ a soundtrack for your last heart wrenching breakup, ‘Dynamite Shovel’ (Campfire Version), which, according to Campbell was ‘recorded live in one room with a bunch of mics everywhere, this finds us stomping and clapping and yelling and laughing,’ a reworked version of ‘Logan Circle: A New Hope’ and ‘We Won’t Bury You,’ an honest track written for a fallen friend. If you know anything about the Wonder Years you shouldn’t have to be sold on “the Upsides,” in fact, you should own this record. This record is rife with energetic, melody driven pop-punk, mixed in with some exuberant powerpop, performed to perfection, a record that lyrically reads like a real life diary, all told by Campbell, a songwriter and wordsmith who himself has been through some truly heavy shit in his life, clearly. Through his words, every song on “the Upsides” has a place and serves a purpose story-wise. The Wonder Years may not be reinventing the wheel, yet are making things somehow feel new again, re-crafting the scene’s core sound to make it overwhelmingly fresh and excitingly invigorating. Once you take the time to lend an ear to “the Upsides,” it very well could be your new favorite record, one that now stands as the standard-bearer of the genre. Hey Four Year Strong and New Found Glory, are you listening? Because you definitely should be. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘I Was Scared and I’m Sorry’

File Under: Smooth, Easy Going Synth-y Pop
The Dance Party – “Touch” (Hell Ya!): The Dance Party, and their debut “Touch,” live up to both parts of their band moniker. The record will not only make you want to dance, it will also make you want to party, so they’ve already managed to achieve some modicum of success in that respect. “Touch” is just the album you’d expect from a band named the Dance Party – a rousing affair overflowing with a potent commercially viable cocktail of synthpop and powerpop, a blend that is more Forever the Sickest Kids or Cobra Starship than it is, say, Metro Station or Hellogoodbye. Sure, you may be saying to yourself – ‘hey, there’s a million bands ripping off that sound nowadays.’ While that may be true, few do it with such a swagger and slickness the Dance Party do. As isn’t the case with most releases from bands cut from this cloth, “Touch” isn’t overdone or overproduced. Most of the material is pretty straight forward and easy going, employing those sounds (powerpop, electro-pop, remember?) that make up the bands core sonic aesthetic (‘Sasha Don’t Sleep,’ ‘Body Language’), though there are moments during “Touch” that see the Dance Party step out of the box a bit (‘Snakes Eyes,’ ‘Survivor’). In the end “Touch” is a record that you could find yourself jamming to on the radio in the future, but for now, just go ahead and use it to impress your friends. You’re welcome. (
Grade: B+
Go Download: ‘Survivor’

File Under: Avant-Garde Rock
The Sleeping – “The Big Deep” (Victory): With “the Big Deep,” as with most all releases from avant-garde quirk-sters the Sleeping, it is a record that requires multiple spins to truly appreciate. Upon first listen, things may seem a bit strident, and if you have spent any time with these guys prior to this release, you know pretty much what you’re in for. This is, because, the Sleeping have never been a band that allows themselves to become set in their ways. They are a constantly changing, ever-evolving animal, and “the Big Deep” is proof positive. This time around, electronics and certain atmospherics take center stage and sometimes grab hold and drive the vehicle (‘Beautiful Gloom,’ ‘Deafening the UK’), though this style doesn’t entirely define “the Big Deep.” Synths and electronics linger for sure, but the band themselves step into the limelight on songs like ‘Dark Days’ and ‘Young Vibes…Don’t Run Away From Me.’ Even though “the Big Deep” might best be described as somewhat of a concoction of both the bands prior releases (2006’s “Questions and Answers” & 2009’s “What It Takes”), it sounds a tad bit more inspired than the band’s sounded in the past. Though it may not sound it quite so much at first, “the Big Deep” is definitely a successful moment for the Sleeping, but just bear in mind that you are going to have to work (IE numerous listens) to appreciate it completely. (
Grade: B+
Go Download: ‘The Phantom of Darker Clouds’