A Biased Look At The Best Albums of 2015 So Far


Yelawolf’s new album Love Story will go down as a classic. Picture by Ryan Smith.

Love Story by Yelawolf

Love Story will go down as a modern classic. Somehow Yelawolf managed to write both one of the best rap albums and one of the best country albums of 2015 at the same time. Previously, Yelawolf seemed to be struggling to find a balance between the callings of the mainstream and the gritty roots he came from; he even raps on Love Story that his records weren’t selling. This album will put that in the past. Yelawolf has combined his folk/country roots with impressive rap verses that blend together throughout the record, coming and going wherever it suits the story. Many reviewers wrote that the album should have been shorter. A reasonable thing to say, it is 18 songs long after all, but some of the most meaningful songs happen after the title track late into the record. They might be buried and never become singles, but they prove that Yelawolf is much more than another recyclable rapper. Love Story is a dangerous musical combination of what America both loves and fears.

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An Introduction to Aspire: Producer Jordan Barker’s Brainchild Takes Off With ‘Make Your Move’


The fluctuation of nu-metal, rap, and R&B music back into the alternative scene has given birth to some of the most exciting bands and also controversial musical moves in the past few years. From the growing dominance of Issues, to the nu-metal tinge of Of Mice & Men’s latest album, not to mention the recent fashion trends and growing diversity of the scene in general, the foreseeable future definitely includes another explosion of musical experimentation.

Amid this change, the Toronto-based band Aspire, the pop-punk-hip-hop-EDM brainchild of producer and writer Jordan Barker, is poised to break through with a sound capable of skillfully combining, and eventually setting, the current trends. The hooks are superbly produced, with enough pop gloss that could make even alternative scene stars famous for that style, like Ronnie Radke and Tyler Carter, look tame. The songs also come equipped with bouncy guitar riffs straight out of the Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! chapter of the easy-core textbook. If that wasn’t enough, they also effortlessly incorporate Barker’s rapping and beat-making ability into polarizing hip-hop verses between the hooks. It’s a left, right, uppercut, combo of everything fun meshed into one. The lyrics are self-encouraging and optimistic, and together with everything else, they help create an atmosphere of unmatched positivity and excitement.

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Through the Eyes of a Non-Mosher (PT. 1)

By Shelby Lueders

Recently, thanks to a friend dressed in all black, I have expanded my music tastes. I am the type of music listener who indeed listens to just about everything–from country to rap to classical. But one genre that was missing from my repertoire was the harder, alternative, “screamo”, metalcore-like artists that I’ve always walked past at Warped Tour, and now that I have started listening, I can’t seem to stop.


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Weekly Playlist #1: Tales of the Rolling Stone

Most playlists are simply built on the concept of genre or time of release– but not at Auditory Spectrum. This is musical storytelling built around the changing moods of real people. Through changes of pace and genre, there remains a thread of intrapersonal communication that links the songs together into a “concept album” instead of letting each song stand alone. Your life isn’t static, therefore your music shouldn’t be either.

Warning: This playlist may destroy your bank account if you don’t already own a motorcycle and a leather jacket. Through the angsty distortion of rock n’ roll, the thoughtful odes to time and love lost, and the subtle self-loathing found at the bottom of a bottle, this is the story of the Rolling Stone. Sit back, have a smoke (or don’t because, you know, lung cancer), pour a glass of whiskey, and enjoy a ride down the lonely road.

[spotify https://open.spotify.com/user/1255490716/playlist/1vQJBRarevjwlHOBvM0bME]

For non-Spotify users, the full playlist is also available below via YouTube:

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The Man Who Didn’t Sink: Broadside’s Oliver Baxxter On Expression, Creation, and Genuineness (PT.2)


Photo by Hannah Verbeuren


“I’m the kind of person that thinks if you’re doing something for literally no reason, then you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Broadside and their bright future as a band remain the main focus for Oliver Baxxter, but channeling his inspirations and his own desire for artistic expression is something that expands beyond the alternative music world, and even outside music as a whole. To listeners paying attention to the lyrics of Old Bones, along with the cover art shot by Baxxter himself, it should come as no surprise that photography holds a special pull over his desire to create. The band’s new music video for “Playing In Traffic” even features a man trying to escape the moments captured in a picture.

One look at Baxxter’s online presence, though vague as he mentioned beforehand, shows this creative eye for both photography and fashion. Many of his online handles include the word ‘photo,’ again not so subtly expressing his desire to be heard on many different platforms.

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The Man Who Didn’t Sink: Broadside’s Oliver Baxxter Discusses ‘Old Bones’ and Personal Triumph (PT. 1)

Photo by Hannah Verbeuren


“I’m taking the cards that were dealt to me and I’m throwing them back and saying give me some new ones.”

Watching Oliver Baxxter is like watching the movie Freaky Friday all take place inside the singular brain of a tattooed, good-looking man as his personality bounces back and forth, defying previous conceptions of age, appearance, and personal dichotomies. Sometimes in interviews, he will seem laid back, cracking jokes with the latest slang that your grandmother would certainly not understand, and other times, he appears to be full of nervous energy, always ready to fire off sentences to the next question that peaks his interest.

Yet, almost always, those rapid-fire words turn into a thoughtful point that make every single sentence increasingly feel like something that should be written down and handed out to everyone not lucky enough to hear it for themselves. The excited glow in his eyes belongs to someone young at heart, but his words belong to a wise old man. And judging by his performance on stage, which is fueled by raw intensity and crowd interaction, this is just the beginning in understanding the multiple expressions of himself.

“The only thing that has given me satisfaction in human existence is performing,” Baxxter said. “It sounds crazy, but I need that sort of connection. I need that sort of attention.”

However, the most important thing to remember about Oliver Baxxter is that all of these things make him just like everyone else. No one is more aware of the idea that people exist as more than how they seem. Though he frequently jokes about being a “weirdo,” he is exactly the kind of low-key, eccentric everyman the scene desperately needs. Which is why Broadside’s Old Bones might secretly be the most important pop-punk release of 2015.

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Keldian Takes An Exclusive Look Back At Journey Of Souls 7 Years After Release: Commentary and Review

Journey Of Souls cover art

Norwegian sci-fi metallers Keldian released their third album Outbound in late 2013, nearing two years ago already, however, that doesn’t mean the excitement around their music has died down. In fact, it seems that it has only grown, with fans clamoring for more and more, often showing their support by buying and playing their previous albums that are now almost a decade old. The band attempted to re-issue physical copies of their older albums through IceWarrior Records, but after that fell through by no fault of their own, they turned back to the future, eyeing 2016 for new Keldian music.

In celebration of the staying power of the album Journey of Souls, which was released on this day seven years ago, they stopped to take a look back with an exclusive commentary on the songs that established where they are today.

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INTERVIEW: Qali Stacks To Release “Nowdays (Remix)” featuring B.Lay, Album Expected Early 2015

Qali Stacks feat. B.Lay

Originally from Los Angeles, but repping San Diego, up-and-coming rapper Qali Stacks is preparing to release his first full album in early 2015, titled Southern #CaliFlyNiggaz Volume 1.

Stacks, a marquee artist from Money Stack Music Group, is loading up to make a big bang going into 2015, dropping tracks almost weekly, the last of which featured Money Stack members Tooley Wopp and Charlie R. But he has something even bigger planned for Black Friday. The “Nowdays (Remix)” with his brother and fellow rapper B.Lay will be hitting the market.

UPDATE 11/28: Official lyric video now available. Buy it here!

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MUSIC VIDEO: B.LaY Releases “Days Go By” Video And Talks Working Behind The Scenes With Ronnie Radke

LA area rapper Bryan Lay -a.k.a. B.LaY- released a new music video for his song “Days Go By” featuring Ronnie Radke (Falling In Reverse) via Alternative Press yesterday. The song is taken from his mixtape Initiation II which was released over the summer. This song marks the fourth time Lay and Radke have collaborated officially.

During the summer, Auditory Spectrum caught up with B.LaY following the release of Initiation II, and covered everything from the meaning of some of the songs, bringing 90’s rap back, to what he thinks about rap today. Read the full interview here.

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INTERVIEW: Jayden Panesso and Sylar are the Future Kings of Nü-York


In May of this year, Sylar, a metalcore band based in Queens, released To Whom It May Concern, their first full-length album. That album proceeded to set one of the nu-metal benchmarks of 2014. That may not have been saying much two years ago, but in case you missed it, nu-metal is really in right now. So much so that some of the biggest metalcore releases of the year so far, by Issues and Of Mice & Men respectively, have been sub-labeled as nu-metal. And we haven’t even mentioned the new music that came out of the Slipknot and Limp Bizkit camps this year. What does this have to do with Sylar? Well, although the numbers may not show it yet, To Whom It May Concern, and what comes next for Sylar, could prove to be just as important in the newfound future of nu-metal.

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PHOTO GALLERY: I AM KING, It Lives It Breathes, and more at The Ground Floor in Williamsport, PA – The Face Your Fears Tour

Nathan Rodriguez of I AM KING

Nathan Rodriguez of I AM KING

On August 2nd, the Face Your Fears Tour featuring I AM KING and It Lives, It Breathes came to The Ground Floor in Williamsport, PA. The show was opened by The Second Phase, Existing Within, and local favorite The Road To Milestone.

This was the first show photographed by Auditory Spectrum.

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INTERVIEW: Guitarist Jacky Vincent talks Star X Speed Story, Power Metal, and Dealing With Genre Elitists


It’s not too often that a young musician breaks through the barriers of multiple genres unscathed and comes out looking like the next big star, but that’s exactly what guitarist Jacky Vincent has done over the last few years.

Back in October of 2013, Vincent, lead guitarist of pop-metal band Falling In Reverse, released his solo instrumental album Star X Speed Story on Shrapnel Records. Shrapnel has long been home to some of the greatest shredders in the world, and Jacky Vincent proves that they have once again hit the mark. The album is overflowing with technical skill and melody and features not only the rising star of Vincent, but some of his greatest influences and counterparts in the guitar world- Doria Lorina, Michael Angelo Batio, and Paul Gilbert.

Star X Speed Story continues to showcase not only his ability to shred with the best of the best, but also his incredible ear for catchy melodies, even without the help of a vocalist to guide him. Throughout the album’s 13 instrumental tracks, which feature anything from 80’s metal to power metal to electronic-jazz-fusion-core, Vincent demonstrates that his technique is beyond just technical skill.The ability to compose songs that bounce back and forth between shred-heavy guitar, trance beats, and sky-rocketing choruses, is an impressive display of what can happen when Vincent is unleashed.

A few years ago, he was just a young kid trying to join a band that wasn’t even really a band yet (Falling In Reverse), formed by a controversial singer who wasn’t even free yet (Ronnie Radke), in a country that he hadn’t been to yet. However, proof of his skill and success are now plastered almost everywhere, from this highly viewed shred session at Loudwire, to the solo of the year that blazes through the Falling In Reverse track “Born To Lead”, and now his solo album Star X Speed Story, Jacky Vincent has already built his resume as one of the most promising guitarists in recent memory. Equipped with his own signature guitar from Dean, he has landed awards and mentions and even his own column from Guitar World, and been nominated for the 1st ever Alternative Press Awards for Guitarist of the Year.

I talked with Jacky recently about Star X Speed Story, power metal, and everything else that contributed to his whirlwind ride to becoming one of the top guitarists in the world.

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INTERVIEW: Welcome To The Burning World of B.Lay – Initiation II


Last month, L.A. rapper Bryan Lay AKA B.Lay released his second mixtape, entitled Initiation II.  There is a lot to be said about rap in L.A. and the grind that it takes to even come close to making it. Pop culture may have beaten it to death by now, but it is still as true as ever. For every underdog success story, there are thousands of others that tried and failed. B.Lay may not be on top yet, but this mixtape is a solid step up in that direction, which is already more than most can say. Inspired by the deceased kings of 90’s rap, Tupac and Biggie, he spills raw poetry about his own life experiences over 13 tracks with no punches pulled. From racism, religion, and tragedy, his convictions never seem to waver as he confronts his demons head-on.

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FEATURE: Whysowhite — It’s So Much More Than Just Funk and Love in Chicago

By Nicole Follini

CHICAGO, IL- A local Chicago band is redefining what it means to make music. As they gather around the computer to talk to a fan, they bring their own personalities into perspective. One is effortlessly playing an acoustic guitar, another wearing salmon colored pants awaiting the questions that are about to ensue, and someone else, just out of view of the camera, is wearing an unbuttoned flannel and shorts during this brisk Chicago winter. One by one, more band members walk into the room shouting nonsense nicknames at one another. This is whysowhite.

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FEATURE INTERVIEW: Bret Von Dehl of The Relapse Symphony is Unapologetically Rock n’ Roll (PT. 2)

In the second and final part of this interview, Bret Von Dehl of The Relapse Symphony shares more about the band’s new album coming out later this year and gives some insight into his own influences and attitude as a frontman.

For more from Bret Von Dehl, including his thoughts on navigating the music industry and how the band has successfully dealt with criticism, click here to read part one.

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FEATURE INTERVIEW: Bret Von Dehl of The Relapse Symphony is Unapologetically Rock n’ Roll (PT. 1)

With their own unique blend of melodic hooks and hair metal looks, The Relapse Symphony burst onto the scene following the late 2012 release of their debut EP, “Time’s Running Out.” Formed in Washington, D.C. about two years ago, they announced in July of 2012 that they had signed with Standby Records and have been on a steady climb upward ever since. In their 5-track EP, they successfully manage to pack the mentality of rock n’ roll and the undeniable appeal of bombastic pop into relatable lyrics, proving that they are ready to influence a whole new generation of rock fans. 2014 looks to be even bigger for the band as they plan the release of their first full-length album and prepare to hit the road again following several successful national tours last year.

In part one of this two-part interview, singer Bret Von Dehl spoke with Auditory Spectrum about navigating the music industry, dealing with criticism, and The Relapse Symphony’s influences from within the scene.

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Track-by-Track Review Plus Exclusive Artist Commentary on Keldian’s Outbound

In October, Norwegian sci-fi metal gurus Keldian released their third album, Outbound. Prior to its release, they spoke to Auditory Spectrum about the forthcoming album in great detail. The full interview is available here and addresses many different topics about not only the album, but also the future of Keldian, and their own perception of the music they’ve created. Now, following the very successful release of Outbound, Keldian and Auditory Spectrum have teamed up again for a track by track review and commentary, giving fans an even closer look at the inspiration behind the duo’s third album.

Chris Andresen (lead vocals, guitars, bass) provided the commentary for the band.

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SHOW REVIEW: An Evening With Falling In Reverse – Unplugged and Uncensored For A Cause

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VIP shows can be disappointing as they frequently don’t live up to what is advertised, however, this was not the case at all for Falling In Reverse’s ‘Unplugged and Uncensored’ tour. On a cold Friday night in Massachusetts, people lined the street outside of the sold out Worcester Palladium ready for their intimate night with the Las Vegas rockers.

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FEATURE INTERVIEW: Max Green (pt. 2) Violent New Breed and the Secret All-Star Lineup

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Not only has Max Green returned to Escape The Fate, but he also has his very own project up his sleeve named Violent New Breed. In the second and final part of this interview, Max talks about what to expect from his new band, keeps secrets about who is involved with it, and looks positively towards the future for the first time in a long time.

For more information on Max’s roller coaster story and the current state of Escape The Fate, click here and read part one of the interview.

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FEATURE INTERVIEW: Max Green (pt. 1) Drug Use Within The Scene and The Future of Escape The Fate

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After a two-year absence from the band he helped found, Max Green has returned to Escape The Fate, completing a roller coaster story usually reserved for Hollywood screenwriters.

Following the success of their debut album Dying Is Your Latest Fashion in 2006, Escape The Fate’s lead singer Ronnie Radke was kicked from the band following legal issues that eventually led to his incarceration. The band replaced him with Blessthefall lead singer Craig Mabbitt and the drama has not stopped since. Somehow, through lineup changes and multiple different record labels, Escape The Fate managed to stay not only relevant, but also become one of the most well known bands of the genre. However, in 2011, following years of drug problems and other issues, Max Green was forced to leave the band.

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FEATURE INTERVIEW: Keldian Talk Next Sci-fi Metal Adventure, Outbound

Formulating the philosophy and ambition of space exploration into a coherent thought worthy of injection into Iron Maiden and 80’s pop-inspired metal is no small task, but Norway’s Christer Andresen and Arild Aardalen have been doing it with Keldian since 2005. Their melodic and atmospheric creations, which consist of 2007’s Heaven’s Gate and 2008’s Journey of Souls, have garnered them a small yet devoted fan base and much underground acclaim within the metal community.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Common Courtesy by A Day To Remember

It took 3 years and a court battle that nearly ruined the band, but A Day To Remember’s new album Common Courtesy is finally gracing speakers all over the world. The release itself, which was still in doubt up until a few days prior, is a defiant stomp into the already damaged reputation of Victory Records. The much-publicized feud took place when Victory claimed the band owed them two more records even after the band insisted they had already fulfilled their contract. Well, the verdict is in and A Day To Remember is still standing, middle fingers up and quintessential album self-released, with a legion of loyal fans at their back.

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ALBUM REVIEW: This Is Icona Pop… by Icona Pop

If you were anywhere near a radio over the past year or so, at some point you probably shouted along to Icona Pop’s “I Love It” at least once. Well, just like that smash hit, their debut international album This is… Icona Pop is much more of the same unabashed fun, destined to dominate dance floors everywhere.

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TRACK-BY-TRACK REVIEW: Collapse by Dangerkids

Self-described as “five people lost in noise,” Dangerkids burst on to the scene earlier this year by touring with some of the biggest names in the scene, including Sleeping With Sirens and Attack Attack!, before being picked up by Rise Records for their debut album. Collapse was released on the 17th of September.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Told Ya So by Get Scared

Utah based rock band Get Scared has released a second song titled “Told Ya So” from their upcoming album Everyone’s Out To Get Me. The song highlights the return of original vocalist Nick Matthew who dominates the song with an incredibly catchy vocal hook and some theatrical flair reminiscent of the bands earliest material. Continue reading

SINGLE REVIEW: Second Chance by Glamour of the Kill

“Second Chance” is the 2nd single from Glamour of the Kill’s new album Savages, due out on the 23rd of September. As is their usual habit, the song blends pop sensibilities and superior guitar work into some of the best melodic metal in the business. The soaring vocals of Davey Richmond create a made-for-radio chorus, while the frantic riffing during the verses drive the song forward at breakneck speed. Not to mention the song also features one of the most interesting guitar solos in recent memory. I think it’s safe to say that if they continue producing material like this, they will become a household name in metal alongside bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine.


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COMMENTARY: Escape The Hate

On May 15, rock band Escape the Fate will release their 4th full-length album, titled Ungrateful. On that very same day, thousands of “fans” will complain about it. Not because it isn’t good, the two new singles are their best work in years, but because “fans” still hold on to an ex-member that left the band five years ago. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Sempiternal by Bring Me The Horizon

Sempiternal is a haunting journey through the mind of front-man Oliver Sykes that triumphs at every turn. From the opening synths in “Can you Feel My Heart?”  to the final scream at the end of “Hospital for Souls,” Bring Me the Horizon’s 4th studio album is a masterpiece that will shape the future of modern metal. Continue reading