Various Artists – “Tracks You Might Have Missed V3” (Thumbhole Records)

When it comes to Thumbhole Records’ Tracks You Might Have Missed V3, the bottom line is, it’s 24 tracks long, so listener fatigue is going to exist. Granted, if you’re going to listen to a lengthy compilation record, Tracks You Might Have Missed V3 is a quality choice because these are all underground bands you’ve most likely never heard of, so this is a great opportunity to expand your sonic horizons.

From the female front hard alt-rock of Scotland’s Altered Sky (“Stupid In The Dark”) to the bouncy ska sounds of Victory Kid (“My World”), chances are Tracks You Might Have Missed V3 has a little bit of everything for everyone. Sorry Mom brings a polished punk-pop sound akin to Trophy Eyes and A Day To Remember, complete with some aggro vocals and a killer guitar solo on “Rupture,” Shark Bait brings all of the snarling punk intensity of Zebrahead on “Please Guy,” Carry the Crown deliver perhaps the most refined rock work of Tracks You Might Have Missed V3 (“Fire”), Shackleford channel a little Let It Enfold You-era Senses Fail on “Dopamine,” Bare Teeth gets offensively, and very necessarily, heavy on the thumping “Parted Ways,” strong female vocals returns on As Everything Unfold’s crushing “Centuries,” and Realms delivers one last dose of battering heaviness on “Painted Demons.”

Seriously though – metal, punk, pop, acoustic, emo, hardcore, pop-punk – Tracks You Might Have Missed V3 offers something for everyone. Who knows, your new favorite band might be on this record. It’s long but chances are you’ll find something to like here.

Go Download: Sorry Mom – “Rupture.”

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Light This City – “Terminal Bloom” (Creator-Destructor Records)

Taking a page from the Swedish melodic death metal scene, Terminal Bloom, the first release from recently resurrected Light This City in nearly a decade, is a crushing return to form for the Bay City metal outfit. Led by an absolute barrage from guitar tandem Steve Hoffman and Ryan Hansen and a frenzied vocal beatdown from frontwoman Laura Nichol, Light This City wastes little time on opener “Reality In Disarray” getting back to doing what they know how to do best – fucking shred. From there it’s best to break out the thesaurus because Terminal Bloom is all the adjectives (“A Grotesque Reflection” and “Dormant Tide” are straight up juggernauts highlighted by galloping leads, the title track is old school stomping thrash, “Agents Of Fate” features all of the best things about Terminal Bloom rolled into one song, “The Wake Of My Will” houses arguably the albums strongest guitar work (don’t miss that solo, damn), “Wildheart” is a blitzing metal anthem, a perfect way to close Terminal Bloom). To surmise Terminal Bloom, let us go back to the well – IT FUCKING SHREDS – and that’s really all you need to know about it. Welcome back Light This City.

Go Download: “Terminal Bloom”

When It Comes To Royal Psalms, They “Could Have Been Anything”

Daytrader, Crime In Stereo, Aficionado – what do these bands have in common? Royal Psalms, that’s what. The band is comprised of former Daytrader guitarist Gary Cioni, Crime In Stereo bassist Eric Fairchild, Aficionado vocalist Nick Warchol and drummer Joseph Ruotolo, so if you were a bit confused, there you go. The band also has a collective EP under their belts, I Could Have Been Anything.

If you want to learn more about Royal Psalms, then this is the place to do so. Former Daytrader guitarist Gary Cioni shed some light on the origins of the band, landing with Rise Records, the ins and outs of I Could Have Been Anything and what the future holds for the band, which he admits both is and is not a full-time band.

Get eXposed Music: That’s one hell of a collective resume for the band. Tell us, how did this band first come to be? What’s the origin story of Royal Psalms? (Sorry to go all comic nerd on you).
Gary Cioni: Nick [Warchol] and my former bands used to play together pretty regularly, we both liked each-other’s bands and both bands broke up around the same time. We had casually talked about starting a project together, but it initially didn’t get much further than talk. I then started jamming on some ideas with Eric who I am also in Crime in Stereo with, and that’s when it started to come together. We got Nick to come down to Brooklyn and that’s when things took off from there.

How did you come to find a home at Rise Records? Obviously the music has something to do with it and we’ll get to that, but how much did the prior affiliations of the band members play into it?
We recorded the record on our own and initially the plan wasn’t really based around being on a label or getting signed. To be honest I think we would have all been pretty content to put the record up online for free. This is where the prior affiliations come in. My last band was on Rise, I have come to know and trust the people there over the years. I sent them the record and they wanted to put it out, so we were happy to fore go internet DIY and join the Rise family.

Tell us about the recording process of I Could Have Been Anything. You’ve all logged time in the studio in your careers – did that make the recording of this album a pleasurable experience? Was it easier this time around for you guys?
It was actually quite different from any other recording process any of us have ever been involved in. This EP was recorded over almost a year in infrequent, short bursts. We recorded the drums and bass guitar over a weekend in February 2014. A month later I tracked my guitars, a few months later we finished the instrumentals, etc. Our good friend Robert tracked most of the record in our practice space in Brooklyn, he lives out of state so we would just grab him a few days at a time when we could until it was done. Our collective studio experience in other projects definitely helped us self-produce the record. The least pleasurable thing about the experience was the amount of time between sessions.

Now that the EP has been released and all of the work that went with it is behind you, is I Could Have Been Anything the record you hoped it would be?
I think we are all very happy with the end result of the record. We are definitely looking towards the future already though. I don’t think we really knew exactly what we were going to sound like until the record was finished. Now that we have a better understanding of our sound we are all excited to write a full length together.

How would you sell this record to someone who has never heard your band? What can [potential] fans expect from this album?
Honestly, I don’t know. I like to think of us as just a rock band. Royal Psalms is the first band I’ve ever been in that my dad likes so maybe we can be the “defend dad rock” band?

Is Royal Psalms a full time band?
In a sense yes, in a sense no. We are a full time band in the meaning that we will be frequently performing live and releasing new music. But at the same time we are not going to be spending eight months a year on tour.

More Royal Psalms goodness can be found over at https://www.facebook.com/royalpsalmsband.

William Ryan Key – “Thirteen” (The Lone Tree Recordings)

It has been a year since we all collectively (and tearfully, at least for myself) said goodbye to pop-punk powerhouse Yellowcard, and while the wound might still be fresh for some, singer William Ryan Key’s debut solo EP Thirteen should serve as a therapeutic way to cope with any and all lingering aches and pains. It’s simply best to consider this five song set a necessary catharsis for Key, and for all of us for that matter.

On Thirteen, Key plucks at your heartstrings as delicately as he plucks the strings of his acoustic guitar, going right for the emotional jugular on opener “Old Friends,” a nearly four minute plead for forgiveness of past sins (‘And all those birthdays when I just forgot to call, I’m sitting here on a mountain of guilt that I finally started chipping away, here hoping you can try to absolve all the years that I was playing the game, I think I’m turning homeward again and I’m praying you will open the gate, will you let me in? Will you let me stay?’ Key implores). Plucking gives way to a little more fervent strumming on lead single “Vultures,” an upbeat entry reminiscent of Key’s acoustic takes on Yellowcard classics like “Empty Apartment,” a formula that continues on into “Form and Figure,” where Key waxes poetic about a former flame, exposing a vulnerability in his voice we’ve never before heard (‘It’s not the little visits I mind, it’s trying to find a way for us both to move on, to pack the history up and get gone…how do I get right?). Key shows off his intrinsic aptitude for melody on the serene “Thirty Days,” and gets all sorts of reflective on drifting, nomadic closer “Great Unknown” (‘I am no statue, a monument to raise…funny how time doesn’t mind, who we keep and who we bear to leave behind, so into this great unknown, I will wander on my own…will I ever stop imagining, what if I had done things differently,’ Key inscribes).

Key clearly has a lot to say and a lot to get off of his chest, and perhaps even more to repent for, and if Thirteen is any evidence, this new start, this new direction, is the beginning of a beautiful new relationship.

Go Download: “Old Friends”

Right On, Kid! – “Forever Missing Out” (Manic Kat Records)

As we inch closer and closer to summer (it’s coming, we promise), it’s time to get those sunny day soundtracks in order – you know, those mixtapes that you crank to 11 while sitting by the pool, playing cornhole and/or Kan Jam (hopefully both), sitting by the fire or just cruising with the windows down. And if you’re anything like us, those playlists are often dominated by pop-punk and we’re now making room for Right On, Kid! thanks to their latest release, Forever Missing Out.

After the opening title track sets the table, “Clarity” amps things up with reverent guitar tones, hyperactive snare drum play and even some dissonant screams tossed in for good measure. “Bier Castle” hits like an early morning Starbucks Venti Caramel Macchiato straight to the veins – a potent, no nonsense injection of pop-punk that clocks in at just over a minute, the aptly titled “Consistent” is just that – a prototypical, and yes, consistent, pop-punk anthem and Right On, Kid! save the best for last on “Loci,” a familial blast of energy that sounds more like early Senses Fail than anything else. This track could have easily found a home Let It Enfold You.

Forever Missing Out’s five tracks and 15 minutes freaking fly by, so what are you waiting for?

Go Download: “Loci”