The Menzingers

The Menzingers

For their fifth full-length After the Party, The Menzingers set out to make the quintessential jukebox record: an unstoppably melodic album primed for bar-room sing-alongs. Delivering anthemic harmonies, furious power chords, and larger-than-life melodies,the Philadelphia-based garage-punk four-piece amply fulfills that mission while achieving something much more deeply nuanced. With its delicately crafted storytelling and everyman romanticism, After the Partyultimately proves to be a wistful but life-affirming reflection on getting older but not quite growing up.“We spent our 20s living in a rowdy kind of way, and now we’re at a point where it seems like everyone in our lives is moving in different directions,” says Tom May, who joined fellow singer/guitarist Greg Barnett, bassist Eric Keen, and drummer Joe Godino in forming The Menzingers as teenagers in their hometown of Scranton. Adds Barnett: “We’re turning 30 now, and there’s this idea that that’s when real life comes on. In a way this album is us saying, ‘We don’t have to grow up or get boring—we can keep on having a good time doing what we love.’”The Menzingers explore the tension between recklessness and responsibility all throughout After the Party, with the chorus to its opening track “20’s (Tellin’ Lies)” brashly asking “Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over?” On lead single “Lookers”—as in, “You were such a looker in the old days”—the band pays loving tribute to their time spent in Asbury Park, weaving in memories of smoke-filled diners and Jersey-girl heartbreakers. Equally soaked in nostalgia, the bittersweet yet blistering “Midwestern States” offers what Barnett calls “an ode to being in our early 20s and touring across the country for the first time, and just how eye-openingthat all was for us.” On “Bad Catholics,” meanwhile, The Menzingers match their heavy riffs and high-powered rhythms with a gorgeously detailed narrative of running into a lost love at a hometown church picnic. Produced by Will Yip (Title Fight, Balance& Composure, Pianos Become the Teeth) and recorded in Yip’s Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based Studio 4, After the Partyfinds the band breaking into new sonic terrain, such as in the stripped-down reverie of “Black Mass” and the drinking-song-inspired waltz of “Bars.” At the same time, The Menzingers bring that sharpened songcraft to the lyrical element of each track, with songs like “Thick as Thieves” candidly recounting their shared misadventures (“Building castles with cans and bottles/Drinking like theydo in novels”). And on “After the Party,” the band spins poetry out of moments as mundane as listening to Minor Threat on a laptop, turning the track into a dreamy meditation on the innocence inherent in unabashed love of music (“Everybody wants to get famous/But you just want to dance in a basement”).With each song unfolding as its own fully realized story, After the Partycame to life thanks largely to an introspective yet outward-looking lyrical sensibility on the part of Barnett and May. “I take notes on pretty much everything I see and experience—things that my friends say or my family members say, things that I see or read,” says Barnett. “And then when I go to write, I go back to those notes
and try to think about what they meant, and then build something from there.” Working in a similar way, May points out that “a lot of my songs come from things I took down in the notepad on my phone when I was out at night and then came back to months and months later.” The Menzingers’ most refined album to date, After the Partywas also shaped from an intensive writing and pre-production process that involved holing up for five weeks in Yip’s studio. Along with sculpting more expansive arrangements, the band focused on experimenting with new effects and production techniques to forge the album’s dynamic but intricately textured sound.After the Party’s sophisticated yet emotionally raw songwriting also owes much to The Menzingers’ broadening their palette of influences in recent years. May, for instance, mined inspiration from the off-kilter song structure of Regina Spektor. “Listening to her made me realize that you can go in with an idea and build the song around that, without it really having to go anywhere in particular,” he notes. Barnett, on the other hand,found himself swayed by their bus driver’s constant spinning of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hellon a summer 2015 tour of Europe. “You can say what you want about Meat Loaf, but his ability to craft catchy melodies is absolutely insane, where there’s ten of the strongest melodies ever written all just in one song,” says Barnett.In the making of After the Party, The Menzingers also returned to longtime influences like The Clash, who were key to carving out their sound in the band’s early days. Formed in 2006, The Menzingers made their debut with 2007’s A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technologyand relocated to Philly in 2008. Over the years, the band steadily built up a devoted fanbase and—in 2012—saw their highly acclaimed Epitaph debut On The ImpossiblePast voted Album of the Year by Absolute Punk and Punk News. In 2014 they put out their fourth album Rented World, praised as “driving-around-with-the-windows-down music, ready for maximum blasting” by Pop Matters and “one of the best pop punk albums” of the year by Blurt.For The Menzingers, the emotional depth attained on After the Partytook years of determination and perseverance. “When I was younger, I don’t think I had the ability to experience how cathartic making music is to me now, even though I’ve always had so much passion for it,” says May. With May adding that “it’s really reaffirming and amazing that we’ve been able to create an existence out of all this,” The Menzingers are quick to note that the album was also born from a certain newfound sense of ease and freedom. “In the past our records have tended to come from some kind of struggle, like from being broke or going through hard times,” says Barnett. “This record really came from enjoying life and enjoying the friendships we’ve formed with each other—we had so much fun throughout the whole writing and recording process, and I think you can really feel that in the songs.”

Tiny Moving Parts

Bandmates call each other "family" all the time–when you're in a van or bus touring for most of the year, fostering a close relationship is an integral part of the territory. Feuds and disagreements amongst bandmates can be career-ending for even the most promising young acts, while groups that stay tight-knit can experience longevity.

When it comes to Tiny Moving Parts, a literal family band from the tiny town of Benson, MN, there's no problem operating in close quarters. Vocalist/guitarist Dylan Mattheisen and his cousins–bassist Matthew Chevalier and drummer Billy Chevalier, who are brothers–have been best friends since their childhood. As Mattheisen puts it: "We'd be hanging out every day no matter what."

Growing up in what many people would simply describe as "the middle of nowhere," Mattheisen and his bandmates didn't have the same path into punk music as most young people do. Without a structured or storied local scene, the three found music on their own terms and created a positive connection to it from the beginning.

In fact, the first thing you realize when you talk to the guys in Tiny Moving Parts is how much joy they derive from being on the road. They've used their music to visit places they never thought they'd be able to go while growing up on the sprawling farmlands of their Minnesota hometown, which houses just 3,000 residents. They've built connections with people all over the country, delivering the same positive attitude they've had toward music all their lives to people who they never thought they'd meet. And, perhaps most impressively, Mattheisen and his cousins are the type of band that appreciates even the nuances of being on the road–navigating their way into a city for the first time, sleeping on living room floors, setting up and breaking down their gear, even the long overnight drives–it's not only worth it to Tiny Moving Parts, it's a part of their essence. The permanent smiles on their faces while they're playing will make you believe that before they even finish their opening song.

The group's positive mindset and close relationship helped them "figure out their sound" over the past couple of years, as Mattheisen says. Their new album, Pleasant Living, out September 9 via Triple Crown Records, showcases a band that has moved past its growing pains and is finding its tride. From the youthful exuberance and frenetic drum work on the opening "Sundress" to the purposefully suppressed yet intense closer "Van Beers," it's apparent from first listen that Tiny Moving Parts knew exactly what they wanted to do with Pleasant Living. And with the help of producer extraordinaire J. Robbins, they were able to get right down to it in a fashion that excels their sophomore status, entering the realm of veteran pomp. Pleasant Living isn't afraid to belt you with its power, it isn't apologetic about being in your face–and neither are the lively personas behind the band.

"I think we've found a happy balance here," Mattheisen says of his band's follow-up to 2013's This Couch Is Long And Full Of Friendship (Kind Of Like Records). "It's mathy, it's complex, it's thought-out, but there's still an element of having fun sing-along songs in there. We really can't wait for people to hear the album." Lead single "Always Focused" defines the dynamic Mattheisen speaks of, with a noodly guitar riff and cries of, "I let myself down when I beat myself up." He says it's a song about worrying: "Even though I overthink everything, I wouldn't have it any other way."

Where This Couch Is Long was a story of a young person trying to discover themselves, Pleasant Living accurately reflects the group's collective unbridled enthusiasm; it's a record about finding a way to remain optimistic in life. It's honest punk rock written by three guys from the Midwest who are experiencing the world together for the first time, and it's a record that Tiny Moving Parts will take to every person who will listen.

Daddy Issues has mastered the art of keeping it real. The band was originally conceived as a parody Twitter account by three close friends -- Jenna Moynihan, Jenna Mitchell, and Emily Maxwell -- who decided to turn their 140-character wit into three-minute pop songs. Thus, Daddy Issues was born. Their music lies somewhere between witchy grunge and surf glam-- kind of like what the girls from The Craft would sound like if they had opted to start a band instead of Invoking The Spirit. Their lyrics center on a young every-woman who celebrates small acts of rebellion while crushing on boys with blue hair.
Daddy Issues became somewhat of an internet sensation after they caught the ear of local label Infinity Cat Recordings, who posted their song "Ugly When I Cry" on Soundcloud. 200K hits later (and only six months after learning their instruments), the band was off to Austin, TX as an official SXSW artist. Now that they're back home, it's finally time for Daddy Issues to get physical.
Can We Still Hang is the first tape in the 2nd annual Infinity Cat Cassette Series and a punch in the face to the patriarchy. It's full of grungy earworms that take equal inspiration from Veruca Salt and Taylor Swift-- like their half-bratty, half-empowered first single, "The Bruise." Can We Still Hang pays homage to the rise of sad girl culture, without taking itself too seriously. This one goes out to all the Creepy Girls living in a Shitty World!

$25.50

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