The more I do this feature, the more I realize my lack of geographical knowledge. If we went along with the theory "I think therefore I am," approximately six states would exist in my world. Luckily, I remembered Michigan, because there's a whole lot of music happening that you don't want to miss out on.
Shapes & Colors
Shapes & Colors has the carnival smarts of The Venetia Fair and All Time Low, the pop-rock chops of 30 Seconds to Mars, and guitar range of My Chemical Romance. Though not exclusively pop punk, they'd fit on the bill with any of the top touring pop punk bands now, with enough darkness and light to appease any range of fans. And while their earlier material has the niche sounds of vaudevillian entertainment, the direction they're approaching now has lost the circus sounds and kept all of the fun.
The Most Powerful Weapon
A reference to the power of music, The Most Powerful Weapon fulfills their promise with intense music that, though heavy, lets you float in a stormy ocean. An unusual influence the band cites is Motown- and though the trademark Motown sound is not readily available in their sound, vocalist Ashley Beavers' voice has the same strength as a Motown girl group leader's, but with a grit that is put to good use over hard rock melodies.
Alive In Standby
Alive In Standby switches effortlessly from upbeat pop punk to hard hitting metalcore, and back again. It's metal you can dance to and pop you can mosh to. The music is alternative, but more an alternative to the strict genre lines that can limit a listening experience.
Ever wanted to hear a pop punk vocalist fronting a metal band? The Skeptic is your best bet; Andrew Paulo has the soft, soulful whine of pop punk and emo pillars, while the music behind his voice is strong, spitfire metal. There's no discomfort where the influences meet, instead, the sounds amplify one another, making the music more powerful for the risks it takes.
I'm an East Coast gal. I've lived in the spaces between DC and New York my whole life, and it's given me a bit of a superiority complex when it comes to California (ie I make fun of it a lot). But California produces a lot of great things, and I can't deny that forever. Here's some of the best California has to offer.
Gates of Ivory
Gates of Ivory describe themselves as "a post hardcore/ neoclassical/ rock/ pop genre band," and they deliver on all fronts. Vocals are layered to capture both the sweet and the scary, guitars and drums display technical and emotional power, and there is a sense of both intense forward movement and restraint that keeps listeners entranced. These blends take the best of punk and metal, pop and rock, to create a thickly layered musical experience.
In the world of female fronted metal and hardcore bands, there is an uphill battle to be fought. Varna take up arms and lead the charge, doing all their work in traditional DIY fashion, while creating polished, high-quality music. Singer Tiana Woods has a voice that would succeed in any genre simply for it's tenacity and beauty, and over hard rock music, the result is incredibly powerful.
Eyeshine creates a rallying cry with every song-- a battle cry that forgoes the battle and goes straight to the victory. Rapped lyrics (ala Linkin Park but without the mid 2000s camp) add a direction to sung lyrics that feel as though they move up and down, not left to right. The rapid fire guitar notes and sliding strings are a refreshing move through alt rock, while the mad pace of the rhythm section brings in a sense of punk rock. Eyeshine never falls into one genre's parameters, and does better for it: there's not a moment of boredom in their discography.