Tonight Alive, The Other Side, Review
I have always been a huge supporter of women picking up a mic and rocking out, because girls in rock are definitely a rare breed. Unfortunately lady rockers are usually boxed under two narrow-minded categories: the girly, happy airhead singing about rainbows, sunshine, and unrequited love, or the uber fem- Nazi, man-hating and shoving anti-male/pseudo-feminist propaganda down everyone’s throats. However, Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall, isn’t succumbing to traditional female rocker stereotypes, using her powerhouse vocals and intensely passionate lyrics to secure the five-piece Aussie band a respected place in the world of pop-punk. The Other Side, released September 10th, is jam packed with pop-punk anthems and stands as a true to testament to female empowerment in alternative music.
While Tonight Alive is by no means reinventing the wheel here, they are fine-tuning a recipe for success, sticking to what works and doing it with absolute proficiency. The Other Side opens with “The Ocean”, an incredibly emotional track with thoughtful, relatable lyrics, setting the tone for the rest of the album. “Don’t Wish” comes next, and at first listen one would think it’s about to play something like Vanessa Carlton’s “ A Thousand Miles” with the soft, upbeat keyboard intro, but it immediately explodes into the familiar Tonight Alive sound, with Jenna’s tremendous vocals and some amazing guitar work and drumming from Whakaio Taahi and Matt Best.
While Jenna McDougall may look like a fragile Tinkerbelle-like pixie, “Hell And Back” reminds listeners that she can rock out just as hard as any of the boys. While Jenna’s gorgeous vocals are the obvious highlight of the track, the drumming is superb and definitely not to be overlooked. “The Other Side”, the album’s title track, is an anthemic pop-rock ballad, following the struggle and anguish of falling out of touch with one’s close friend, a widely relatable theme for girls and guys alike. Another huge, anthemic track, “The Fire” not only showcases glorious vocals reminiscent of 80’s rock queen, Pat Benetar, but offers the rhythm guitar work from Jake Hardy as something for Tonight Alive to definitely be proud of. “Come Home”, is set to be a fan favorite as a more upbeat tune, buoyant and bubbly. For angsty lyrics and controlled vocals, reminiscent of Hayley Williams (whom I’m sure McDougall is endlessly compared with), “Say Please” hits the spot. “You Don’t Owe Me Anything” closes out the record, and it charms listeners with its honesty and vulnerability.
Honest, emotional, and thoughtfully written, The Other Side is Tonight Alive’s best release yet. With a huge vocal range and simply beautiful tone, Jenna McDougall will undoubtedly have a long career ahead of her. Bands with ladies leading the way are something to be cherished, reminding audiences the true power women have to navigate rock music through uncharted, seemingly male dominated waters. While only time will tell if McDougall has what it takes to enter the ranks of rock queens, such as Heart, Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, or Kim Gordon, in the meantime The Other Side will serve as principal evidence of Tonight Alive’s potential to reach the forefront of the pop-punk scene.
For more information about upcoming tour dates and album releases, check out Tonight Alive’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/tonightalive), or follow them on Twitter (https://twitter.com/tonightalive). Also, hit up the band’s official website for awesome merch and special announcements (http://www.tonightaliveofficial.com/au/home).