When acclaimed UK band You Me At Six released their debut album Take Off Your Colours in 2008, the young, burgeoning act was hotly tipped as one of UK’s brightest young hopes for pop-punk. Packed with infectious hooks and a youthful spirit, the album also caused their impending sophomore album to carry increased expectations. After all, Britain is famous for developing bands that explode onto the scene with scintillating debut records (see: Bloc Party, The Libertines, Oasis), only to have those same bands fade away just as quickly. Of course, that’s not always the case – especially in the case of the 3 bands listed – but the sophomore slump is duly noted for a reason as a cautionary tale that, despite a band’s best efforts, expectations will always be higher with success.
With the release of their debut album The Cold Sun in 2017, Liverpool alternative metal/metalcore band Loathe quickly became one of the more hotly-tipped bands to rise out of the underground in recent years. It really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that the band appeals to so many demographics, though. Just for starters, look at the singles Loathe has released from their upcoming sophomore album, I Let It In And It Took Everything. “New Faces In The Dark” is absolutely unhinged technical metalcore, but with a melodic, Deftones-esque chorus that really sells itself. But wait, there’s more!
Hundredth is a band hailing from Myrtle Beach, SC, that spent the first part of this decade releasing strong melodic hardcore records like Let Go and Free. Then, in 2017, they released the single “Neurotic”, a dreamy, post-rock song that caught my ear and stayed there. I was obsessed, but several fans were less than happy to see this heavy act employ a tonal shift.
Gone were the unclean vocals, and in were the guitars full of reverb. Despite essentially turning into a different band, I take no issue with this change. I see it as a reinvention of the performers, as everyone was on-board, with only a guitarist change occurring between the previous hardcore record and 2017’s shoegaze-y RARE.
Some may see this as alienating a band’s fanbase, which they have grown to love for one sound. I suggest listeners approach change with an open mind; some bands, like Bring Me the Horizon, still honor their past with a “heavy medley” during sets. But bands that devote themselves to the change are at risk of losing fans that signed up for one specific sound.
Title Fight, upon the release of their vastly-different Hyperview, said the following during an interview with VICE: “I think the fact that it wasn’t exactly what people expected means they had to sit and digest it and work through the songs.” Taking songs at face value isn’t enough for a listener; while it is perfectly-acceptable to use music in the background, I feel that, to truly appreciate a composition, one must dissect the finer details to absorb all the layers of a song.
Stagnancy is a serious detractor for me when it comes to new albums from bands. Of course, bands grow and try new things with each record, but if they don’t take risks, there’s no maturing of the sound, and no chance for the band to grow. I’m not saying a band has to reinvent itself every album cycle, but experimenting can lead to some outstanding music.
This is not to say that a genre change always results in improved music. I have fond memories of A Day to Remember’s heavier past, but their gravitation to a softer sound is not as desirable to me. What are your thoughts on this matter? What bands have you lost interest in, or discovered after their sound changed? I’m curious to hear, so leave your take in the comments!
For me, finding a new band on Spotify is as easy as checking my Discover tab, looking at Related Artists, and/or trying one of their many playlists. But in 2010, the means of discovery were a tad tougher.
Personally, I had a few methods, all of which truly opened my mind to new genres and experiences. One of my more bold ways was to visit my local Disc Replay and pick a few cd’s out based solely on how much I liked their album art. This was my gateway into heavier music, selecting Chiodos’ All’s Well That Ends Well and Dance Gavin Dance’s Downtown Battle Mountain.
Perusing online saw me utilize some different tactics. At the turn of the decade, post-hardcore was my main interest, and I had the pleasure of listening to 30-second snippets of music to determine if the band was for me or not. Some acts I found in their infancy included Fit For a King, Broadway, and Outline in Color.
Of course, there were… other means to finding new music that may not have been legal. Thankfully, I can report that my dad was always willing to let me spend money to buy albums at the time. That didn’t stop me from taking a look at these sites, as they frequently had bands I never heard of. Those would include A Bullet for Pretty Boy, Vanna, and Close Your Eyes.
So I ask the reader: How did you find your new music back then? With limited accessibility compared to today, I am compelled to see how new bands were discovered back then. Let us know in the comments below!