Tag Archives: pop punk

Album Review: Swear I’m Good At This – Diet Cig

CS638275-01A-MEDAt the time of Diet Cig’s conception circa 2014, front-woman Alex Luciano had barely picked up a guitar. Now, the 21-year-old is rocking her way across the USA with her trusty drummer sidekick, Noah Bowman. The pair are an inseparable, insurmountable duo; it only took one meeting at a show of Bowman’s in New Paltz, New York to bind them in a friendship and partnership that has only grown since.

Bowman sets the fast, frenetic pace of these pure pop-punk tracks, while Luciano’s jagged guitar serves as an incendiary device as her voice ricochets from softly sweet to emotionally unhindered. She is at once an open book, wearing her heart on her sleeve, and a firecracker poised to go off at anyone (namely, any boy) who gets in her way. Lyrically, Luciano has a no-tolerance policy for BS and spares no feelings. She has a knack for wry, tongue-in-cheek observation, and does not shy from singing her inner demons away. With this attitude and an EP under their belt, Diet Cig has created their first LP Swear I’m Good At This.

The album features old habits and new growth: while riotously fun tracks still abound, quieter, more contemplative tracks such as the short number “Apricot” have been introduced, and the production quality has veered slightly from the DIY-feel that accompanied Diet Cig’s EP, Over Easy. Never fear though, Luciano still maintains her blunt, in-your-face attitude, dancing all over your brain with the ferocity and precociousness of an angsty færie. She is all at once dismissive, self-conscious, confident, and confidential, running the full gamut of emotions felt by young women everywhere, at any time.

The opening lyrics of “Sixteen” are enough to convince anyone of that point. Luciano sings plainly of the awkward sex had with a boy who bears the same name; this opening track acts as a shock-and-awe confessional and grips you right from the get-go. “Link in Bio” is an upbeat banger, with Luciano holding up both middle fingers to her demons; “don’t tell me to calm down” is spoken slowly, pointedly, before the track rips open with a melée of drums and electric guitar. “Barf Day” demonstrates Luciano’s innate knack for lyrical honesty, and the bridge of “I know you’re sorry, I just don’t care” basically summarizes Diet Cig’s essence in a succinct, biting sentence. The echoing chorus towards the end of the track adds a nice, unexpected complexity to an otherwise musically-straightforward track.

On “Blob Zombie,” Bowman has his chance to shine, and he runs with it; his percussion sets a galloping, breathless pace, and Luciano matches it with strong lyrics: “I wanna be the best one at this / But I don’t wanna get out of bed” is the very mantra that runs through every girl’s mind. “Tummy Ache” sends a similar message, with Luciano discussing the trials and tribulations of being a girl on the punk scene. Towards the end of the track, the vocals split and dissolve into multiple lines, all echoing and looping over one another, as if mirroring the internal commentary that many women deal with in their daily lives. Luciano acts as a voice-piece for countless young girls, but the defining quality that makes her music so relatable is that she is also standing right beside them, shouting into that selfsame megaphone.

Album released: April 7, 2017

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

Album Review: Sonic Avenues – Disconnector

sonic avenues

Disconnector is the fourth studio album by local band Sonic Avenues (comprised of Maxime Desharnais on guitar and vocals, Jamie Desjardins on bass, JC Niquet on drums, and Seb Godin on guitar). With this record, Sonic Avenues succeed in developing a tamer strain of punk-pop, ultimately resulting in a more mature sound than their previous efforts. Unlike its three predecessors, Disconnector’s novelty lies in its ability to fuse modern punk-pop with late ‘70s new wave.

Drawing from the band’s punk roots, hints of the Buzzcocks are interwoven throughout Disconnector’s patchwork. This is most evident in tracks “Future” and “Monotonic” where Desharnais’ voice channels the piercing vocals of both Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley. Moreover, the twangy instrumental in “Dancing in the Sun” emulates the shrill acidity of late ‘60s rock (think The Kinks’ “Till The End Of The Day”). However, it is in tracks “Burn Like Fire,” “Where No One Falls,” and “Defective” where the band plunges into the shimmering pool of ‘70s new wave and reveals the crux of their album’s experimentation. The opening riff in “Burn Like Fire” electrifies the listener with a melody reminiscent of The Strangler’s “No More Heroes.” In “Where No One Falls” the band interlaces its punk-pop style with a trifecta of Devo, Gary Numan, and The Cars. Moreover, Sonic Avenues’ “Defective,” with its in Devo-esque overtones (think “Gut Feeling/(Slap Your Mammy)”), is a fiery concoction of new wave with a tinge of punk that could effortlessly slip into the soundtrack of any given Wes Anderson film.

Owing to Sonic Avenues’ unprecedented decision to incorporate lighter new wave with its usual mix of punk-pop, the band’s fourth studio album lacks their previous angst and unruliness. Nonetheless, if you’re in search for an easy listen with lots of hooks and a dash of new wave nostalgia to complement your sunny Saturday afternoon, then give Disconnector a listen.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara