have mercy

In the case of Baltimore’s Have Mercy, what wins out-and what ultimately astounds-is raw, unfiltered passion. The band’s debut LP, The Earth Pushed Back, was one of the most honest records of 2013-an album that fans of punk and emo from Brand New to Tigers Jaw to Taking Back Sunday simply couldn’t afford to miss out on.

Produced by Paul Leavitt (All Time Low, The Dangerous Summer, many more), A Place Of Our Own is a refined, more muscular version of what they did well on The Earth Pushed Back – as if they trimmed the fat on some aspects of their sound while showing major growth across the board. It’s an organic, sometimes subtle and sometimes very noticeable type of growth. Everyone simply sounds better from an instrumental perspective, and Swindle’s gritty vocals have become only more defining this go-round.

Since forming in 2011, Swindle feels the band truly has “grown up as musicians and people and cannot wait for everyone to hear A Place Of Our Own.”

Boston rock outfit Transit has stirred up a unique recipe for success, packing one album after the other with fresh ideas. On their new and most compelling album to date, Joyride (Rise Records), the band’s music and lyrics are complemented by soaring choruses and thoughtful one-liners.

“Life is too short to stick to the same formula,” says vocalist Joe Boynton, “The albums we write are our paths to self-discovery; every album ends up pretty unique from the last because we all work very openly and honestly as a group. Our only goal as a band is to create an honest interpretation of who we are during the writing and recording process; when we accomplish that, every insecurity and worry in our lives seem to fall away.”

Joyride embodies relatable lyricism, a strong trait of the band carried out consistently throughout their career. This time around, Transit sheds light on personal struggles that are strewn throughout each track. The Boston-bred group’s newest effort meanders through the heartbreak, sorrow, and all-too-familiar qualms of life’s uncertainties.

Joe B. addressed the theme of Joyride, mentioning that it is “about searching for a balance between the darkness and the light.”

Composed of Joe Boynton (vocals), Torre Cioffi (guitar/vocals), P.J. Jefferson (bass) and Daniel Frazier (drums), Transit formed in 2006, signing with indie label Rise Records in 2011. 2013 brought on the release of Young New England, with its overall concept centered around the band’s Boston roots. The album debuted at #4 on Billboard’s Heatseeker’s Chart and the video for its title track was filmed in the heart of Boston’s nightlife scene with fans.

Much of 2014 has already been spent touring, but don’t expect Transit to go out quietly. The band is a part of the annual Glamour Kills Holiday Festival in NYC this December, which was preceded by a headlining U.S. tour and dates with Four Year Strong. 2015 is already shaping up to be a busy year for the band, as they will continue to tour throughout spring and summer with a trip to the UK in between.

Somos are as no-frills and trend-averse as it gets. The Boston band works in catchy, passionate three-minute rock songs recorded with too much punch to be lo-fi, too melodically contoured to be punk. So even with its blunt-force drum rolls and jagged chording, “Dead Wrong” sneaks up on you: on one end, it packs so many short, sharp hooks, the chorus can fly right by you on the first listen. They strike a weirdly rare balance in the process, situating themselves between blue-collar indie rock and a white-collar life.

Michael Fiorentino sets the dramatic stakes (“Empire and a crown of thorns/Today you get two for one”) and reveals the all-too-familiar source of that despair: tucking in your shirt, staring at a computer, “Shaking hands til your arms fell off”. “Somos” translates roughly to “We are”, and on “Dead Wrong” they wisely commiserate with the workforce drowning rather than casting judgment, gifting a car song for people who aren’t so much working for the weekend as they are working until the inevitable bitter end.

-Ian Cohen, Pitchfork

Blending elements of hardcore, emo, and indie rock in a melodic cocktail unmatched by scene contemporaries, Atlanta four-piece Microwave balances frankness with a penchant for wit, allowing personal confessions to make a striking impact. Owning the best of the punk continuum, lead vocalist Nathan Hardy will sing, scream and yelp amidst snarling guitar work. While often tipping into the heavier side of resonant punk, the band shines brightest in soft reservation.

Their debut record Stovall is simultaneously dynamic and emotionally powerful while still maintaining a poetic edge. Its somber but optimistic mood is flawlessly encapsulated by the lyrics, “you should have known this day would come/I guess if you’re gonna be stupid, then you gotta be tough.”

– Audiotree

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