|The duo behind PAPA: Darren Weiss (left) & Daniel Presant|
Four Year Strong. Formed in Worcester, Massachusetts back in 2001, these guys have released four albums since 2005. They call their sound "popcore," meaning post hardcore pop punk. It's riotous and rambunctious, as if they're loaded up on energy drinks, but the lyrics are accessible and you can sense they're having great fun. It's easy to dismiss bands like this as mediocre and loud, but the stripped-down acoustic songs they've released prove these guys are very talented musicians. The dueling vocal work between lead singers Dan O'Connor and Alan Day is especially cool. They tour extensively, play lots of festivals and put on a helluva live show. You can find their music on iTunes and SoundCloud. Go here for their website.
|Four Year Strong, left to right: Joe Weiss, Josh Lyford, Dan O'Connor, Alan Day, Jake Massucco|
(Lyford left in 2011 when the band's sound evolved past the need for a keyboardist.)
Song & Video: "Tonight We Feel Alive (On a Saturday)"
John Grant. In 2010, Grant released a critically acclaimed album entitled Queen of Denmark, which Mojo magazine called the best album of the year. The following year he found out he was HIV+ and subsequently disclosed his status to an audience at London's Meltdown Festival. In the summer of 2013, he told HIV Plus magazine: "I talked about it because I was about to sing a song that I'd written about it, and I didn't know if I should say anything. And at that moment, I was like, you know what, it's no big deal. There's millions of people dealing with this... I don't feel like I should be ashamed of it." His next release, Pale Green Ghosts, was a collection of excellent folk/alternative/electronica songs that was easily one of the best albums of 2013. It's an intoxicating mix of visceral truth, fascinating intimacy and devilish wit. His music is available on iTunes, Spotify and Rhapsody. Go here for his website.
You can check out volume one in this series here.