Twenty One Pilots
Fueled By Ramen, 2015
Twenty One Pilots’ major label release, Vessel, was a fresh sound in 2013 with little filler. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the follow-up, Blurryface. There are some very good songs on this album, and even two great ones. But the filler is overbearing. In “Lane Boy,” Tyler Joseph himself sings, “Honest, there’s a few songs on this record that feel common.”
Blurryface starts strong with an in-your-face slam poetry rocker, “Heavydirtysoul,” followed by the angst-ridden “Stressed Out.” The third track, “Ride,” is a tolerable diversion from the norm, displaying a reggae influence. If that was the only instance of Jamaican flavor on Blurryface, it would be excusable, but Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun return to that island music far too often (“Lane Boy,” “Message Man,” “Polarize” are just a few of the other infected songs). “Fairly Local” brings the listener back to the alternative rock, and the single “Tear in My Heart” is a standout track. “Doubt” is the only somewhat memorable song of the next four, with a sound that seems like a leftover from Vessel, while the excellent “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” is reminiscent of the now-classic “House of Gold.” Of the final three tracks, “Goner” is probably the most memorable with its brooding lyrics, but “Hometown” has more of a radio-friendly appeal though it sounds nothing like a Twenty One Pilots song at all. “Not Today” also has a good hook and the insecure lyrics will play well with the young fan base.
Blurryface is a good album, but is most certainly a step back from Vessel. “Tear In My Heart” and “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” are the essential tracks, while “Heavydirtysoul,” “Stressed Out,” and “Not Today” are the second tier. The rest, in Joseph’s own words, “feel common.”
2. Stressed Out
4. Fairly Local
5. Tear In My Heart
6. Lane Boy
7. The Judge
10. We Don’t Believe What’s On TV
11. Message Man
13. Not Today
Whether you enjoy classic, modern, or independent rock, 2013 was a great year for music. Several “best of” lists have been posted around the internet already, but it’s time for The Writer’s Journey to weigh in with our list and a brief sentence about each. And away we go…
10. Brandon Reeves – A Decent Melody. A fantastic independent release from a Georgia-based blues artist, Reeves’ album is much better than decent.
9. Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt. The kings of the nineties rule again with a throwback to the seventies.
8. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2. Part 1 is good, but Part 2 will go down as a historically great record.
7. Stryper – No More Hell to Pay. The Yellow and Black Attack is back with soaring vocals and squealing guitar solos, a fantastic hair metal album.
6. J Roddy Walston & The Business – Essential Tremors. Another throwback rock band with hints of Aerosmith and the Black Crowes.
5. Black Sabbath – 13. Ozzy, Iommi, and Butler recaptured the magic of the band’s beginnings and reached No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 charts.
4. Newsted – Heavy Metal Music. It’s heavy and it’s loud and it’s everything you would expect from a former member of Metallica.
3. Krokus – Dirty Dynamite. Full of catchy hooks, but the best song might be the Beatles cover “Help,” arranged as a hair metal ballad.
2. Twenty One Pilots – Vessel. Modern rock at its finest, and they really rock out with a ukulele on “House of Gold.”
1. Death On Two Wheels – Death On Two Wheels. Traditional hard rock sound with more authenticity than anyone else out there.
Here are some other “Best of 2013” lists around the web…
- Bring Back Glam! (contributor Brian Carvell)
- Bring Back Glam! (contributor Christian Graus)
- Loudwire (according to Megadeth)
- Loudwire (rock albums)
- Loudwire (metal albums)
- Matt Tauber
- Ultimate Classic Rock
- Vocals On Top
- Vocals On Top (contributor Danny R. Phillips)
- Vocals On Top (contributor Matthew Coman)
Two-piece alternative rock band Twenty One Pilots played to a sold-out crowd at Bogart’s in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday, October 25. Another sold-out show is scheduled for Saturday night, but if you’re willing to pay the scalpers’ prices, you won’t be disappointed. Singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun put on a high-energy performance, thrilling the packed house who screamed the lyrics—all the lyrics—along with the band.
The show was not limited to the stage, however. On more than one occasion Tyler came out into the crowd, and even Josh got in the act by floating out among the masses on an audience-supported drum platform. The duo changed outfits a few times, sometimes wearing masked hoodies (they were masked during all of the songs I photographed). In fact, the masks did not come off until the photographers left the photo pit, so you won’t see their faces at all below.
With only one major label release under their belt, Twenty One Pilots delighted the crowd with all of their popular songs, including “Holding Onto You,” “Car Radio,” and “House of Gold” (which included a verse of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”). They did pull out a few older songs from their independent releases, playing for nearly two hours. One of the most interesting performances was a drum duel between Tyler and Josh, sitting back-to-back, after “Run and Go.”
Special mention should be made of the extensive light show. Twenty One Pilots has employed a creative and precise lighting technician who beautifully and perfectly matched up the effects with the songs. I was already a fan of the band before the show, but seeing the songs performed on stage with the lights going behind them just added to the awesomeness of the record.
My son accompanied me to this show, and he summed up his feelings, “I loved the experience of just having fun, screaming your head off.” He wasn’t the only one.
No one should pass up a chance to see Twenty One Pilots in concert. Check their tour itinerary and make plans to see them.
Want to see more? Read the rest of this entry
Twenty One Pilots
Fueled By Ramen, 2013
This Columbus, Ohio, outfit blows me away every time I listen to the record. The radio hit, “Holding Onto You,” had me hooked and I decided that was enough to give the entire album a chance. But I was not prepared for what I heard.
A fantastic mix of hip-hop, soul, folk and pop makes Vessel an infectious album and early frontrunner for album of the year. The best songs are eclectic: the electronic “Screen,” ukulele masterpiece “House of Gold,” and the aforementioned radio earworm “Holding Onto You.” Many of these songs appeared on their self-released 2011 record, Regional At Best, but Greg Wells’ production has brought out the best in the band on Vessel‘s re-recordings.
Another song that is hard to forget is the angst-ridden “Car Radio,” written about a stolen stereo.
I have these thoughts so often I ought to replace that slot with what I once bought ’cause somebody stole my car radio and now I just sit in silence.
So simple, and yet so profound. This band is blessed not only with musical ability, but with the ability to take plain concepts and turn them into thought-provoking songs.
Watch the video for “Holding Onto You” below:
1. Ode To Sleep
2. Holding On To You
4. House Of Gold
5. Car Radio
8. The Run And Go
9. Fake You Out
10. Guns For Hands