Most of the albums that have come out this summer have caught me by surprise in one way or another as you’ll notice in this post, but hey, no complaints here. Artists can keep surpassing my wildest expectations all they want to deliver these spectacular albums. Here are some releases from June, July, and early August that I’ve loved. Hope you find something new to check out or give another spin!

Pray for the Wicked by Panic! At The Disco

(June 22, 2018)

I have a very weird listening relationship with P!ATD. In 2014, I was super into Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die, and then I explored the rest of their catalog a bit. I saw them live in August of that year, but eventually my focus drifted to other artists. I never got around to listening to Death of a Bachelor, and I mean I probably should at this point. Regardless, when they dropped their new record, Pray for the Wicked, I listened to it almost immediately, and got SO hooked. I really love this album thematically. “High Hopes” really resonates if you’re a dreamer and constantly putting your all into achieving those dreams. Every time I listen to that song I feel so empowered. And naturally, this album is stunning in every other way possible. Brendon Urie’s voice will never cease to amaze me, and he showcases it beautifully in the closing track, “Dying in LA.”

One by Homesafe

(June 29, 2018)

Ok like….I knew Homesafe’s album was going to be good because I’ve absolutely loved everything they’ve put out so far, but they really blew me away with this record. I love that Homesafe has never stuck themselves in a box creatively, and on their debut album, One, they explore several angles of their sound over 13 tracks. I love what Homesafe’s doing because while a lot of bands in the scene are dabbling in pop-rock evolutions (which I do love), Homesafe is doing their own thing and writing songs that are very much rock and punk influenced, and they’re so damn good at it. They don’t shy away from important topics lyrically (see “Suits and Ties” and “Sadistic Society”), and have continued to outdo themselves vocally and instrumentally. Overall, One absolutely rips and you should be paying attention to Homesafe if you aren’t already.

Composure by Real Friends

(July 13, 2018)

Where do I even begin? Real Friends is a hugely important band in my life. They were my gateway into pop-punk/rock/punk bands back in 2014 just before the release of their debut album, and they’ve remained one of my favorite bands ever since. While their last album, The Home Inside My Head, didn’t get as big of a response as it deserved, the band’s new album, Composure, has been a hit with so many people, including those who didn’t give their previous material much of a chance. It’s well earned. Composure is easily Real Friends’ most refined work. Dan Lambton’s voice sounds the best it ever has, and the band’s lyrics feel fresh. They tackle the topic of mental health in new ways. While lots of artists have written about anxiety before, “Smiling On The Surface,” has been the first one that I’ve really identified with, and I’m grateful for that. I can’t recommend this album enough. If it’s been awhile since you’ve listened to newer Real Friends material, please give this album your time.

Merci by Save Face

(July 13, 2018)

I can’t name another band that sounds like Save Face. Their soft/loud dynamics and their transitions from beautifully soothing vocal harmonies to passionate yelling are so natural and could stand out in any crowd. As with basically all of these albums I’m writing about, Merci allows Save Face’s musical growth to flourish. This album is more of an experience than just a record. The band even created 14 pieces of visual content to go with every track of the album. Each song is so compelling that the record ends before you know it, and will keep you coming back and reel you in more with every listen. Also, “Plans” is one of their best songs for sure. Save Face are some of the most hard working rockers I know, and watching them grow over the past couple years has been an absolute joy. Check out Merci in full with the visuals here.

It Felt Like Glass by No Better

(July 27, 2018)

It Felt Like Glass, the debut album from No Better, displays the band’s growth in their writing as they make sure these songs are just catchy enough so you won’t forget them. Yeah, I was trying to make a pun about “Remember This,” and it’s not working out, but that’s a GREAT song. I enjoyed No Better’s EPs before this album, but this is the first release to really stick with me. The emotional weight of some of these songs left me speechless by the end of my first listen. I’m really glad this is a full-length because they created a beautiful body of work.

18 Summers by Rome Hero Foxes

(July 27, 2018)

Rome Hero Foxes came onto my radar thanks to my pal Sofi having the best music recommendations and also being the band’s manager. 18 Summers is an album that I’d suggest to someone if they wanted to get an idea of what type of music I like because it really just hits the right spot in my music taste. Their sound sometimes reminds me a bit of From Indian Lakes, especially rhythmically, so it was no surprise to see FIL as an influence listed on Rome Hero Foxes Facebook page. This album is such a calming listen while still moving along at a pace that will keep you engaged. I can only imagine how stunning these songs are live. The title track and “Seattle Queen” are two standout songs on the album. If you’re not already listening to this band, you should hop on it because they’re going to be huge.

Lightning Round by Bad Bad Hats

(August 3, 2018)

I discovered Bad Bad Hats when they opened for The Front Bottoms last year, and quickly fell in love with their dream pop love songs. Their tunes are catchy and comforting. Lightning Round is a natural progression from 2015’s Psychic Reader. “Write It on Your Heart,” “Nothing Gets Me High,” “Girl,” and “Automatic” are definite highlights on the album. Bad Bad Hats is also a great live band, and I super wish that I was another year older so I could see their Portland show this month.

The American Dream by Trophy Eyes

(August 3, 2018)

Prior to this new Trophy Eyes album, I was just a casual fan of this Australian rock band. I definitely enjoyed their last album, Chemical Miracle, but when I hit play on The American Dream I could not believe what I was hearing. The band is known to evolve their sound, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it because it resulted in this album. Vocalist John Floreani sings candidly about his past, present, and future through catchy melodies, and he is often echoed by a choir of other voices throughout the album. The massive singalongs have me daydreaming about seeing these songs live in a room full of people singing along, and it’s the best feeling. Every song is good. There is no filler. You will leave it on repeat for days. You’re welcome in advance.

Pop-Up Pop-Punk Fest

On the eve of my 20th birthday, I attended a Pop-Up Pop-Punk Fest (try saying that five times fast) which was put together by Honey Latte Presents, and it ended up being one of my favorite shows I’ve seen in awhile. Highlights came from bands like Substitute Dad who have me excited about the future of Portland’s music scene. Perspective, A Lovely Hand To Hold put on one of the best live sets I’ve heard. Citysick have grown a lot as musicians and performers and were an absolute treat to see, and their new song gave everyone an exciting glimpse into their future. After Hours and Glacier Veins finished the night off with many people in the packed room singing along as they each embarked on separate tours down the West Coast. This was definitely a show that reminded me how much I love music, and why I do everything that I do.

It’s been a great few months of music, and I can’t wait to see what the fall has in store.

Thanks for reading – it feels good to catch up with you. Read my previous Catch Up With Cassie segments and some other things I’ve written recently here.

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Written by Cassie Wilson
Cassie Wilson is the founder of Sick Snaps, and an avid writer. Her favorite artists are constantly changing, but typically include: A Will Away, Knuckle Puck, The Maine, Homesafe, Glacier Veins, Lorde, and Julien Baker. Aside from Sick Snaps, Cassie is also the founder of Half Access, an organization advocating for increased accessibility at concert venues.