Welcome to my monthly column “What I’ve Been Listening To,” where I publish a post at the end of each month with my 5×5 collage of most-listened releases (which is sourced by my Last.fm account and made into a collage via this site). This column was created for me to share my favorite discoveries with readers while documenting my own listening habits.
- I discovered two of my definite 2022 favorites during April: a brand new release from Greyhaven, titled THIS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD, and the debut album from Plead the Widow’s Cause, Pain Split, which released back in February. I had a season of life like this last year, where hardcore music was really speaking to me, and it seems that I might be back here again. (And that’s hardcore music of the scream+punk variety, rather than the metalcore and melody-heavy post-hardcore that first introduced me to this heavier corner of rock music.) It took me many years to convert to the point of enjoying music that’s mostly or entirely screaming, but sometimes, it just hits me emotionally in a way that other music cannot. Plead the Widow’s Cause’s music is abrasively spiritual, which I love, while Greyhaven is heavily influenced by Every Time I Die. Both albums come highly recommended.
- Unintentionally, the bulk of my music-listening in April was consumed by discographies, one at a time, which increased in size as they went along. To begin, I spent the first few days of April listening to the excellent debut from idle threat, which I wrote about more extensively last month and officially reviewed here.
- After that, I spent an entire week listening to nothing except the two sole albums from The Receiving End of Sirens, both of which rank highly as two of my favorite albums of all time. TREOS (for short) is the only artist in my all-time top 15 artists list with fewer than five albums… because their two albums are that good. I’m working on a larger project right now that’s inspired by their music; I’ll share more about that at a later date. Also, during this week of TREOS-only, my wife and I started watching the documentary series about the band on YouTube, titled The Lost Tape. It’s nothing special by documentary standards, but the band has a fascinating history that makes the footage and interviews well worth the time.
- After quite literally spending the first third of the month listening to only three albums, I branched out into two four-album discographies: Dead Poetic and PUP (although for Dead Poetic, only three of their albums exist on streaming services). DP’s discography was a bit of a trip, as you basically get to witness a band making huge stylistic shifts with each release, from 90’s nu-metal/rap-metal to post-hardcore to emo alternative. The first album (from 1999) was surprisingly reminiscent of early Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, 311, Rage Against the Machine, Incubus, P.O.D., etc., which is a crop of artists that I’ve never really gotten into. So for the most part, the band became more interesting to me (and more aligned with my personal tastes) as they went along. I wanted to like their final album Vices the most, but the band’s swan song didn’t fully coalesce for me. This was the point where they’d basically left hardcore behind, and their music worked the best on the alternative/emo/post-hardcore cocktail heard on 2004’s New Medicines. However, I discovered that many people hold New Medicines in extremely high regard as a masterpiece, and I have trouble seeing that.
- In 2016, PUP released one of my favorite albums of that year, The Dream Is Over. It was a right-time, right-place album that, despite showing minimal staying power in the years to follow, dominated my car’s CD player for a significant portion of that year. The Canadian quartet frolics through punk rock sounds and lyrics with an imaginative display of guitar riffs, key changes, and dynamic shifts. But for whatever reason, my love for The Dream is Over didn’t convert into legitimate fandom of the band; so when Morbid Stuff released in 2019, I listened once and never came back. With a fourth album released in early April, I decided it was due time to give the band’s discography its fair chance. The self-titled debut was a fun romp that made perfect sense as the precursor to The Dream, which itself was great to hear again after all these years. Morbid Stuff was a sensible follow-up that honestly was far better than I’d originally given it credit for. Sadly, however, the new album didn’t click for me at all; The Unraveling of Puptheband contains a series of explorations, expanding upon the band’s established style, and while I always love to see band’s branching out, I’m just not sure whether these departures worked. I’m speaking from a first impression, so I hope that future listens will help me appreciate what the band was going for here.
- Alongside these two four-album discographies, I (ironically) also revisited a four-album portion of CCM/singer-songwriter Brandon Heath’s discography. Specifically, I revisited his most recent three albums as I reviewed his latest release, Enough Already. 2012’s Blue Mountain is a personal favorite that fell out of rotation for me in recent years yet which holds up exceptionally well as Heath’s most grounded, thematic, and Americana-influenced set. I mostly enjoyed the new album, and you can read the full review here.
- It’s very easy to guess which discography came next, based on the 5×5 above, since this artist literally comprises one third of the album covers seen there. Yes, it was New Found Glory: an extremely famous pop-punk that I’ve barely ever listened to, outside of being subjected to the singles consistently throughout my teenage years. I’m not thoroughly convinced that I’d ever heard a full New Found Glory album prior to this month — but I ended up finishing the discography (and re-listening to many of the albums) in early May, so I’m going to save the NFG deep dive for next month’s column. Be sure to subscribe to this website if you never want to miss a post!
- P.S. If anyone’s reading this blog who is also a listener of the JFH Podcast, we are taking a brief hiatus from regularly releasing episodes. I’m still planning and recording future episodes, but we probably won’t start releasing episodes again until the end of May (or early June, at the latest).
Author’s Note: The reason I created this website and write these articles stems from my belief that artists should support other artists, in the same way that art inspires art. If you would like to hear my music, my sophomore album Development & Compromise and my debut album Unfall are available now, wherever you stream music or for purchase on Bandcamp, where you can find both exclusive sale prices and free acoustic cover albums.