The top four tracks from the week of July 19-25.

Umbrella (Rihanna Cover) – Ember Island

Ember Island is one of the most original and beautiful bands around. Hailing from Sweden, they struck it big when their cover/remix of Where Are U Now was picked from a contest, and they were featured on the release. I heard of them because of their guitarist, Joakim, was in a metalcore band I followed called Intohimo. When they disbanded, they announced various new projects, and this was one of them. Ember Island have created both covers and original music, and while the covers are the ones that are making them big, their original music is amazing. All of this to say, I was extremely excited for the release of some new music from these guys. It’s been just under a year since they released their cover of Radiohead’s Creep, so it has been a while.

The best part of Ember Island is their ability to absolutely strip something down and create pure beauty from it. Umbrella is a pretty straight forward pop song, and yet they create syncopated rhythms in guitar picking, limited drum machine noises, and atmospheric voice sounds to create a work of art. Every sound, every effect, every note has been poured over and tried hundreds of different ways before they decided on the way it is. They truly create. Finally, the thing that always gets me, is the layered vocals with intricate harmonies, often which are dissonant or not perfect. That’s what makes the song so beautiful. If you like good music at all, this is a song worth listening to.

RIYL: Sigur Ros, Bjork, M83


Step Aside – Belmont

Belmont is as pop-punk band that could easily hold their own against other musicians out there. Pop-punk gets a reputation for being extremely easy four chord, palm muted, strumming, but these guys prove that not all bands are like that in the genre. Around every corner of this song is a lick that could easily be the centrepiece to a lesser bands song, but they come and go without a second thought for this band as the next one is coming up fast. They are so skilled, and have such a good time doing it. One look at this video will clearly show that. It’s catchy, it’s boppy, but it’s so much deeper than what’s on the surface. These dudes are the next big thing, and it’s not even a contest.

RIYL: Knuckle Puck, Real Friends, The Story So Far


Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die (Acoustic) – Four Year Strong

First and foremost, the name of this upcoming album is genius. Some of you will like this, some of you won’t. That’s the perfect title for an album like this which includes rarities, unheard originals and reimagined favourites. Obviously, this song falls in that last category, as this song is the single that kicked off this bands career, 10 years ago. It’s cool to hear a band revisit an old song, and it usually means an acoustic cover of their own song. However, I strongly feel that reimagined is far more relevant than just an acoustic version. This feels like a different song, with the same lyrics. It also really showcases their musical chops. They are really good songwriters, and they don’t need the chugging or screaming to hide behind. The guitar work is great, the harmonies and melodies are beautiful, and the percussion really builds the song up. I wasn’t sure about this album when I first heard about it, but if this song is any indicator, I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

RIYL: Relient K, This Wild Life, A Day To Remember


Overthinking – Between You & Me

First of all, welcome to Hopeless Records, BY&M. That’s huge for these guys, who’ve made their man covering pop punk songs on youtube. This song, surprisingly, feels well put together and well developed. The second half of the chorus introduces an edgy guitar rhythm that shows boldness bands often wouldn’t approach til their third or forth album, but it really works here. Though they definitely don’t break the mold of verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus, there’s enough for this song to stand out from the monotonous scene pop-punk is becoming, and I can honestly say I’m highly anticipating the release of this album.

RIYL: Roam, Boston Manor, Grayscale