Tag Archives: The Ongoing Concept

The Best of 2015

It’s that time of the year again when I share what I consider the best records of 2016. This list only includes records that I listened to. I listened to almost half the amount of records I usually do in a year, so you’ll have to forgive me if I missed something. It should probably be my favorite records of the year, but we’ll stick with the best.

Honorable Mentions:

Crystal Lewis – Crystal Lewis
Levv – Arrow
Doug Burr – Pale White Dove
Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion
Emery – You Were Never Alone
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
Boysetsfire – Boysetsfire


25. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
a0622773824_10This record could just as easily be higher on the list. Fast and vicious, yet featuring these absolutely beautiful moments that make the musician in me smile. New Bermuda is less lush and more raw than Sunbather, but it also has more musicianship and technical prowess. A great record for the music geek and the metal fan.


24. Strengthen What Remains – Justice Creeps SlowBAI060_1500xJustice Creeps Slow is straight up the heaviest hardcore record I’ve heard since Point of Recognition’s Day of Defeat. Just heavy tough guy hardcore. Not frills, all fight!


23. The Ongoing Concept – Handmade11141205_10152998987894118_318439366170224581_nIf a band says they’re going to make all the instruments for their new record, you’d applaud them and call them crazy. That’s what the Ongoing Concept did for their sophomore record, Handmade. While I thought Handmade was less interesting than Saloon, it’s more consistent and concise. Plus, they make the best of list just because they made their own instruments!


22. Soft Lions – SpellbreakerSoftLions-SpellbreakerSpellbreaker is a great ep. It could just as easily be the soundtrack for a 1950’s zombie beach movie. It’s got punk spirit with the lo-fi indie vibes. A band to pay attention to!


21. Moving Mountains/Prawn – Split EPMM_PRAWN_SPLIT_1024x1024I wasn’t sure we’d ever hear new music from Moving Mountains, so I was super excited when this split was announced. I actually like both of these Moving Mountains tracks more than the bands previous self-titled full-length. And both the songs from Prawn ring of emo’s glory days!


20. Alert 312 – The Upside Eternal12046756_10153750986869529_1768712839276259843_nI find myself seeing this cycle where Alert 312 releases this super creative and innovative eps and their full-lengths don’t seem to have the same punch to my ears. And that was my first impression of The Upside Eternal. I still liked the record, but it just didn’t strike me the same way that Singular Vision did.But upon further listens you hear the intricate layers of sound and the hard work that went into the beats.


19. Ivadell – Maybe TomorrowBCR-052_Cover_1500Maybe Tomorrow has more depth than just another emo revival album. The arrangements are intricately simple. Interesting, but not overly complex. The dynamics on this record are great. When the band wants to sound huge, they’ve left plenty of room for the sound to grow and overwhelm your speakers. An absolutely stunning record.


18. Five Iron Frenzy – Between Pavement and StarsFIF_BTPASMore great music from Five Iron Frenzy on their second go around. B-sides from Engine OF A Million Plots, but most of these songs are good enough to have made the record. I’m really glad Five Iron is back!


17. Zao – Xenophobe/Fear Itselfcover Yes, a 2 song 7″ was good enough to make the top 25. And if these songs are an indicator, Zao’s 2016 full-length will be an album of the year contender. The rawness and insanity from The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here is back and I’m not sure Zao has ever sounded better.


16. Fireflight – InnonaInnovaI’ve always liked Fireflight and their brand of hard rock. But I never thought I would’ve fallen in love with them as a pop group. I said when I reviewed Innova that I thought it had all sorts of commercial radio friendly singles on it, and I still believe it. This should’ve been a huge record for the band.


15. Envy – Atheist’s Corneaenvy2Atheist’s Cornea is a great record that seems to span most of Envy’s career. Less post rock and more of the hardcore sound that was featured early in the band’s career. But Envy provides a sound that is unique to them. Beautiful and chaotic at the same time.


14. Sollunar – The Observatorya2136106054_10I love post rock. And the solo effort of Florida artist Josiah Bibb was a surprise for me. The best post rock record I heard this year.


13. Slow Meadow – Slow Meadow11168915_923398681053340_6452009618947456584_nThe first release on Hammock’s new label is an absolute gem. A beautiful ambient record that you would expect Hammock to release.


12. Eshon Burgundy – The Fear of GodEshon+Burgundy+-+The+Fear+of+GodStraight up gospel rap. Beautiful Eulogy and Daniel Steele’s production just knocks it out of the park. It’s the type of record where the music is so good that you just want an instrumental version. That’s not to take anything away from Burgundy. The verses are strong and I really love his flow on this record.


11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other DistressGodspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet, and Other DistressI was not a huge fan of GY!BE’s reunion record, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! It just didn’t strike a chord with me. Not so the case with Asunder. The record had me hook from its first note. The shortest Godspeed record to date, which is sad because it’s my favorite record from the band.


10. Better Off – MilkfolderI already like Better Off a lot. But when you write a record that sounds like Jimmy Eat World and The Promise Ring, you’re speaking my musical love language.


9. Owl City – Mobile OrchestracoverI’m a sucker for Adam Young’s brand of electro-pop. There’s a fun innocence to it and the songs are always super catchy.


8. Haste The Day – CowardCowardHaste the Day’s reunion produced the best of the band’s career. The interplay between Jimmy and Stephen’s vocals are perfect. There are moments where you hear the natural evolution of the band, and also the potential evolution had Jimmy never left.


7. Defeater – AbandonedDefeater - Abandoned (2015)The concept behind Abandoned is so compelling and the way lyrics intertwine between songs makes it a record you have to really pay attention to. It’s a killer hardcore record, but it’s really the lyric concepts and themes that make Abandoned a worthwhile listen.


6. Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Usa2813479087_10A shoegazey punk rock record. Tons of fun. The music feels like Smashing Pumpkins 1979 music video. Reckless and fun.


5. Dustin Kensrue – Carry The Firedustin-kensrue-carry-the-fireCarry The Fire is the post-Thrice record I’d been waiting to hear from Kensrue. Dirty, bluesy rock and roll. Plus we get the catchiest hooks Kensrue’s ever written.


4. J Givens – Fly ExamFlyExamAnother Humble Beast release where the beats are super unique. Unlike The Fear of God, this beats are more minimal and leave a lot of room for Givens unique delivery style. It’s a record I had been waiting for a year to hit shelves and it didn’t disappoint.


3. Josh Garrels – Homeoriginal-coverHome would make the top 25 for Born Again alone. Every time that songs plays, it’s like chicken soup for the soul. I’ve admittedly been a little lukewarm on Garrels, but this record is an absolute thing of beauty. Bluesy and soulful. A wonderful work of love.


2. Bandit – Of LifeBandit-OfLife-CoverWe’re splitting hairs between number 2 and number 1 because both records have been on my turntable constantly since they’ve been released. Of Life is a perfect indie rock record. Another record with terrific dynamic range that creates these beautifully chaotic moments when the songs explode, yet mellow out for Angela Plake’s vocals to shine.


  1. mewithoutYou – Pale Horsesv600_Pale_Horses_CoverPale Horses is epic. mewithoutYou hasn’t abandoned their indie rock tendencies, but they bring back their post-punk fury and explode all over Pale Horses. The lyrics are some of Aaron’s most indistinguishable as he blends multiple themes and ideas in each track. So this creates this abstract work of art that matches the ever shifting nature of the music. I’m glad this version of mewithoutYou is back!



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The Ongoing Concept – Handmade

The Ongoing Concept’s debut record, Saloon, was the most interesting hardcore record I’d heard in years. From that perspective, you’d say that Handmade is tame. That’s not to say it isn’t interesting. But the musicality of Handmade has been reigned in a little.

The biggest feat with Handmade is the fact that The Ongoing Concept actually made their instruments from scratch.They took the Handmade concept literally! That fact alone makes Handmade one of the most impressive record you’ll ever listen to.

As creative and interesting as Saloon was, Handmade is a better record. It’s more cohesive and put together. The band has found a nice balance between being heavy and being a rock band. The blend works in their favor. Because they can deploy either at a moments notice without the listener thinking twice. Amends is the album opener and it’s heavy and blistering, but the hook is catchy and singable, without sounding like any sort of metalcore rip-off. Feel is like the hardcore version of a Huey Lewis and News song. Danceable and fun, without losing intensity and aggression. It might sound goofy, but it’s flawlessly executed. Trophy is just a great heavy, get in the pit song! Follow that up with Prisoner, which is a good old rock and roll jam.

Melody is the oddest song on the record. An upbeat, pop love song. It’s odd and it kind of feels out of place, but it’s such a great song that it doesn’t matter. For all their quirks, The Ongoing Concept knows how to right a killer hook. Unwanted brings the intensity right back up to 100.

After a couple more heavy song, the band ends the record with Falling. It’s the band’s special blend of hardcore interpreting an old school soul song. The band has a flare for dramatics and this song is that flare turned all the way up.

Handmade is an interesting album. It’s uniqueness, plus the fact that the band made every instrument used in the record makes Handmade a compelling listen. It might not be a record I find myself gravitating toward to listen to all the time, but every time I hit play, I absolutely love it! 5 out of 5 Stars.

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Norma Jean Announce O’ God the Aftermath Undercard

Norma Jean has announced the line-up of bands for the O’ God The Aftermath 10th Anniversary Tour. 68 (ex-The Chariot), Sleepwave (ex-Underoath), The Ongoing Concept, and Belle Haven will be on the bill. You can see the complete list of tour dates below.


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The Ongoing Concept Premiere Unwanted Video

The Ongoing Concept have just premiered a video for Unwanted, the first single from their upcoming record, Handmade. Handmade will hit stores on June 16th via Solid State Records.

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The Ongoing Concept Announces “Handmade Tour”

The Ongoing Concept have announce their first tour in support of the new album Handmade. The tour is co-headlined with Dayseeker & a special guest TBA. Handmade releases on June 16th via Solid State.

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The Ongoing Concept – Saloon

Anytime Solid State announces they’ve signed a new band, I’m very reserved in my excitement. The label I used to love so much no longer gets unwavering support. Too many bands that just aren’t what I had come to expect from Solid State. So hearing about The Ongoing Concept, I was holding judgment until I gave the band a listen.

But when I watched the band’s video for Cover Girl, I was in love. It was ballsy and bold. Original and interesting. It was the perfect introduction. It had me hooked. No matter what the rest of the record sounded like, I was on the hook for at least one spin through Saloon.

In all honesty, The Ongoing Concept is a band we’ve all heard before. It’s screamo. But it’s done with a creative twist that takes The Ongoing Concept from your average, run of the mill, scene band, to a band worth watching.

After a fun, country western movie style intro, the band busts into the album’s title track. Saloon hits with the fury of bands like Refused and Snapcase. Total destruction on the opening of the track before the bar room piano kicks in (you read that right). The song goes through phases, from chaotic to weird, before settling down and then taking flight again. It’s a good introduction to what you’re getting on the album.

Cover Girl might be the best hardcore song with a banjo I’ve ever heard. The song about being original delivers musically. High flying and aggressive but the banjo “breakdown” that makes its way through the track creates a great contrast between being a copycat song and something fresh and energetic in the hardcore genre. Fakes and Failures is part a song you’ve heard before and part amazing Dillinger Escape Plan riffage. Like Autumn has an amazing piano riff before the song flies off the handles and into chaos. It’s my favorite track on the record. Mostly because the song is one of the only ones on Saloon that doesn’t dip into any genre pitfalls but is three minutes and twenty-nine seconds of pure passionate fury.

Of course their are songs that are good but don’t jump off the page. Sidelines is an extremely chill piano ballad. It almost feels out of place but the album is so all over the place that you just accept it. Little Situation and Class Of Twenty-Ten both have a southern metal feel that reminds me of the first two Maylene records.

Goodbye, So Long My Love closes the record. It starts as a sort of jazzy, piano song before the instrumentation picks up and the song slowly builds into nothing where heavily reverbed piano and vocals comes screaming at you. A string section slowly plays and the song again falsely builds, pauses, and then explodes. The song ends with a female vocal singing. It’s such an odd ending but considering the way the album started, nothing seems off limits.

Saloon isn’t a mind blowing record but it’s full of great songs that showcase tons of potential. There’s nothing bad about any of the songs on Saloon. But because what’s great is so great that the moments that are just good fall a little flat. Still, The Ongoing Concept is one of the most creative bands to hit Solid State in years. Saloon is something fresh for a scene that’s too often a parody of itself.

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