1. “Let’s Ride” by MxPx
This is easily the best track of the band’s newest self-titled album, which was completely crowd-funded. The song describes the journey through life’s stages (as does the music video), and depicts various themes and ideas that they have covered over the course of their 26 year career. Moving from their teen years through to adulthood, the song describes this journey with their typical catchy pop-punk sound. I didn’t love the album (it’s decent, but not great), but I do really love this song.
2. “Two Years” by Ghoti Hook
The Christian punk band from early 200s turned a corner with their fourth studio release. Two Years to Never was completely distinct and mature in sound and style from their previous three albums (one of which was a complete covers album). Setting aside the silliness and the predictable pop-punk sounds of Sumo Surprise and Banana Man, Two Years to Never emerged on the scene with serious lyrical content, and more of a throw back to punk-rock of 80s. They dropped a fair amount of the pop sound in this record and released an overall darker, more serious record. The title track itself highlights the struggle of making something work when passion is the only factor that remains to drive it forward. “Can desire be enough,” frontman Joel Bell asks. It’s not clear to me whether the song is reference the band and performing (they broke up after this record), or a relationship.
3. “Burning Hearts (Acoustic)” by Silverstein
Silverstein is a post-hardcore band from Canada, with a rather predictable sound for that genre. Rescue, their fifth studio album, was overall received positively by both fans and critics, but it is this particular track that interested me. Taking an original song and turning out an acoustic version of it gave the track a unique sound. It’s still an emo song, to be sure, but the acoustic quality made it more attractive and intriguing. In fact the deconstructed and paired down version adds a lot of emotion to compliment Shane Told’s beautiful vocals.
4. “New York Groove” by Ace Frehley
Of all the members of Kiss to go solo, Freely was probably the most successful. This song became the hit single on his 1978 self-titled debut. The song had been previously released in 75 by the British glam bad band Hello, but Frehley added his own take to the song and made it an American smash. It reached no. 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100 that same year. It’s a simple song, no outlandish guitar solos, nothing crazy about its musical composition, and yet it has had mad love since its release.