Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lynette Williams and This Is Not Radio at Joe's Pub

   New York is my home and, as much as I belittle the city for its horrific smell in the summer and its taxi driver's less than ideal driving abilities, I do love it and hope that it can one day reclaim its rightful position as capitol of the music world. The only way its going to do that is with its residents' help. 

  Here's your first mission.

  Everyone here should know by now how much I love Lynette Williams' music. Anyway, she is hosting a showcase for some amazingly talented artists who are all a part of the Williams founded community This is Not the Radio at the legendary Joe's Pub this Friday, January 2nd. Tickets aren't that bad, maybe 3-4 of those expensive latte's you all guzzle like the free water you get at restaurants, and you'll be supporting an amazing, completely holistic arts community that really takes the ideas that I have always supported- the union between arts and fans in a community setting- and brings them to life. 

Founded in 2012 by the amazing Lynette Williams, This is Not the Radio, or TINTR, is a community of musicians trying to connect fans and musicians. What's great is that these aren't individuals looking to fall into the cookie cutter mainstream norm. They are making music that they want to make without compromising their values as musicians and artists.

Before I go on and on about the relationship between musicians and fans, I'm just going to leave the link for the tickets here and the lovely Facebook event page. If you want more info on This is Not Radio, check out their website

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In Defense of Green Day: Why They Deserve to Be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Why You Shouldn't Make Them Feel Bad About It

In Defense of Green Day: Why They Deserve to Be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Why You Shouldn't Make Them Feel Bad About It

Okay, so, we can all admit that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not the most credible establishment in the music world. Actually, arguably every lauded award is not considered credible to the music snobs of the world. But to put people down for being praised and recognized for their contributions to some scene- music, literature, film, etc.- just screams of jealousy and feelings of inferiority. It's like people are compensating for their own insecurities when they mock people for their successes. 

Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2015 was announced, and Green Day, Lou Reed, and Joan Jett were among those recognized. That's amazing. These are all acts that pushed barriers, redefined youth culture, and led to formation of so many other artists. The fact that Green Day in particular is being called out, once again, for being sell outs just shows how people quickly forget just how much others contribute to the world they live in.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Music, Its Meaning, and, yeah, a The 1975 Review

The 1975 Enchanted and Entranced Fans at The Starland Ballroom 12/14/14
Photo by Tonianne Bellomo

I swear to all of you, they are not the only band I go to see live; they just decided it was a brilliant idea to be in my neck of the woods quite often in the last six months, and I was not making the Great Kings of Leon Mistake this time (I had the opportunity to see KOL twice with the Secret Machines back in '05 when they were on their Aha Shake Heartbreak Tour, but I only went once and now they're not the best band and their tickets cost more than my life). Oh, that Great Kings of Leon mistake- it's been costing me a serious amount of money on tickets ever since. It's not like it's a bad thing to watch the lovely Manchester lads and I even dragged my little sister to her first general admission concert to catch the December 14 show at Sayreville's Starland Ballroom.

So glad I did.

Matty Healy, 12/14/14
Photo by Tonianne Bellomo

The 1975 were even better Sunday than they were back on December 5. It seems Matty Healy has revived himself a bit (still seemed tired, poor thing, but he's been on the road for forever so I'm not blaming him) and was his chatty, energetic self again. Coming out to a deafening cheer, Healy and co. jumped right into "The City" and then, one of my personal faves, "Milk." They played the same set I saw them with the week before, but it all felt new and fresh, a hard feat to accomplish. Healy is a born showman who has found a balance between chatting with the crowd and performing songs. He also knows how to use the lighting to his benefit.

You know my feelings on this band, and, based on the amount of photos I took this time (1,229, a bit over 200 of which are found here), you can tell I thought they were stellar. I'm not here to gush anymore than I have in the past (NYC 12/5/14 and Baltimore, MD 6/5/14). I'm here to talk about how Healy brought up something that I hadn't really put much thought into before but is rather pertinent to any form of art, particularly one as expressive as music.

If you're a fan of The 1975, you know their music is personal. Healy has often described it as a sort of diary for him. A lot of bands and other artists would describe their body of work as diaries of sorts. Writers, for example, find a sick sense of catharsis when they write loosely about events that they themselves experienced. Healy is no different.
Matty Healy and Adam Hann, 12/14/14
Photo by Tonianne Bellomo

The thing is, though, that sometimes these things that are created lose their original meaning for the artists.

Sunday night, Healy shared that feeling when he was launching into what he calls his favorite song, "Falling for You." He said that they have been on the road for so long and that he's not sure what the songs mean anymore. But he went on to say that we know what they mean, that the fans have the meaning.

I think that he really presented two incredibly interesting ideas that people just don't seem to address when it comes to art.

Sometimes meanings change for the artists. Sometimes, they lose the meaning and can't really place it anymore. Think about it: maybe you a write a note to yourself ages ago in a journal and then come back to it. It doesn't make sense or maybe it means something completely different to you. Art is the same way. Artists grow and change just as any other person does and, therefore, the meaning their art takes for themselves is going to change or become obliterated. I, for one, have a ton of writing that was probably quite meaningful to me when I was in the moment, but some of those meanings have changed and some have even lost all meaning to me.

It's only natural that he's not sure what the meanings of these songs are anymore. They're morphing for him and he's entering a different stage of his life. What I really latched onto, though, was this idea of the fans capturing the meaning. Really, he called the crowd a giant time capsule. In a sense, it is the fans that preserve the meaning like a time capsule of sorts, one that holds onto everything and protects it, even when the original owner is off changing. Savvy? It's a really interesting idea. I mean, fans all have their own interpretations of the works. I'm sure "Me" means something incredibly different to my fifteen year old sister than it does for me, but even those meanings have weight.

What Healy did was put the onus of meaning on the fans. He is giving those songs over to the fans to hold onto, to apply meaning to at their will. Why? Because those songs will never mean the same thing to him as they did when he first wrote them and performed them, but, to us, they will always hold some special meaning. It's a sort of transition of ownership that I really find incredible to think about.

That transition is palpable in the crowd, particularly for the fans not there just to see Healy change his shirt on stage (he came out in a sweater and leather jacket only to change into an open shirt a few songs in; and, let me tell you, my ears are still ringing from all the screams). He is basically handing over the meanings to the crowd and telling them to have them, to take the meanings and make them their own. There's a real connection between The 1975 and the fans and it doesn't feel as disingenuous as it does with a lot of bands I've seen. Healy's incredibly earnest when he puts on his performances and really does want to connect to people in a way that transcends all socially constructed differences.

Healy and co. perfected their performance the other night, keeping the energy going and really driving home that this was a shared experience rather than viewer and performer. It was probably their best performance out of the three times I've seen them and I'm sure they are only going to mature and grow as artists with their upcoming second album.

If you want to check out the photos from Dec. 14, head over to my Flickr page.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The 1975 Creates Worlds and Conquers NYC

Cloud of Cameras at Terminal 5
(all photos by Tonianne Bellomo)

    Oh, yes, there was a cloud of cameras and phones hovering above the crowd at Terminal 5 last night, December 5th, for The 1975's second night in New York. Granted, it was infuriating when I was trying to get shots for the blog but, no matter, I stuck my camera in between arms and hands to get a few shots for you (try 717, 157 of which are on a Flickr account for your perusal). The 1975 have created quite a cult following and, while the majority of the fans in the crowd last night were probably no older than seventeen, the band has a broad fan base ranging from the assumed demographic (14-18) to even people in their fifties. 

  This was the second time I've seen the band and I'm heading over to Jersey next Sunday to catch them at the Starland. They've earned my respect for not only their showmanship- singer Matt Healy is a cross between David Bowie and Mick Jagger with a bit of Jack Sparrow swagger- but for the world they have created for their fans, a world that, I wager, has drawn many an older than the common teenage, lusting on Healy age group to the band's hordes.

  Not since My Chemical Romance has a band created a world for its fans to live in. I'm talking about referencing other artists, sticking to a set aesthetic for a touring cycle, suggesting a style of clothing, and even introducing high literature for the illiterate masses- Healy mentioned Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata in a tweet over the summer and many of the students I tutor who are fans of his tried to read it; no one reads that novella except serious literature students. I was impressed. The band is dedicated to creating a universe for its fans to inhabit, giving them a place that transcends racial, age, and sexual barriers, a place that feels safe and familiar for them. 

  Now, I'm not sure how many of the teens there last night realized this but what Healy and co. have done is provide them with a sonic safe haven. Whether the screaming hordes noticed it or not, they were drawn to him like moths to flames in an almost cult fashion.

  The band backs up its rather lofty aesthetic with an energizing set that runs the gamut from dance until you die tracks to smooth, atmospheric ballads that transmit Healy's emotions to the crowd. Healy himself is an undeniable force, an intellectual who honestly knows how to control a group of people.  He had the audience in his hands last night, creating a cathartic yet genuine experience for everyone there. 

Healy Holding Court

     From their incredible intro and starter song, "The City," to the encore when they performed the highly emotional "Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You" amongst fan favorites "Robbers," "Chocolate," and "Sex," Matt Healy, George Daniel, Adam Hann, Ross MacDonald, and latest edition, saxaphonist John Waugh, had the crowd latching onto their every move and word.

John Waugh Closing Out the Main Set

  I've written about their ability to perform before when I saw them exactly six months before this concert, back in June in Baltimore, and I didn't think they could get better- I was wrong. There was something more confident about them this time around, something more commanding. These are definitely guys who know what they want, have begun to truly define themselves, and who realize the impact they can make with their music. They kept the energy up at all times and then built up the tension and the emotion for the more somber tracks such as "Me." They are truly mastering the art of making a setlist- leading the fans all the way up emotionally just to drop them down and grab them before they hit rock bottom.

   The band is incredible in more ways than one- they're smart; they're incredible musicians; they're passionate; and, most importantly, nothing feels disingenuous with them. At the end of My Chemical Romance's career, who I mentioned before as an act that created a world for its fans, they began to feel contrived and that all the details they put into their work were nothing but trite; they lost touch with what they were creating and were just following their track record of creating pseudo rock operas. So far, Healy and co. haven't gone that route and hopefully they won't. They announced at the show that they were starting work on their second album, much to the approval of the roaring fans; with any luck, the band will remain as genuine and true to its art as it has been since its conception.

Matty Healy and George Daniel

   As of right now, the band is on the right track, sticking to its guns and not compromising its integrity for something as silly as a Grammy Nomination. And, hell, even One Direction hasn't gotten a nod yet so, really, no one knows what those big whigs want. It didn't seem to bother Healy that night. As he said, The 1975 isn't an industry band, it's a fan band, and it was no where more apparent than in that crowd Friday night. 

-Tonianne Bellomo
All photos by Tonianne Bellomo


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

XTRMST Album Review


It's a 31 minutes blitzkrieg of an album; from the moment it starts to the moment it ends, XTRMST's debut, XTRMST, is a swift strike to the jugular. It's the hardcore album from AFI's songwriting duo- Davey Havok and Jade Puget- that fans have been waiting for.

As previously mentioned on this blog, Havok and Puget joined forces again to not bring you an industrial dance band but a hardcore, straight edge group that brings back old school AFI's guttural screams and unforgiving guitar lines. But unlike a lot of the AFI records that feature an almost melancholic undertone this album is all about pent up anger and rage. It's practically seething with it, oozing over with Davey's growls and Jade's relentless playing.

The album feels like a whole story, which is different for a hard core album. Though it's only 31 minutes, it feels like something bigger and grander. My favorite track, "Extremist," features a lot of spoken word punctuated by screams of "war." It's really a creative take on the hard core song and what it can do and translate. Other gems- "Words for the Unwanted," "Swallow Your God," and "Juliets"- showcase just how Davey and Jade have perfected this angry but poignant sound.

Also unlike a lot of purely hardcore tracks, this album features a lot of complex musicianship that reminds listeners that, yes, this is Jade Puget playing. He finds a great balance between raw power and intricate playing that really sets this album apart.

Overall, it's a fantastic album. It does have its weak moments- "Dirty Nails," which is ironic because that is the track that really pulled me into this project, and "Merciless"- but it's definitely worth a full album buy.

Davey and Jade once again proved that they are versatile and passionate musicians and I'm looking forward to the tour these guys are bound to do.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Relapse Symphony Wants Its Fans Help

  Okay, I'm not sure how I feel about this but The Relapse Symphony (I wrote about them back in the summer) have asked its fans to help the members put together their new album.

  I know, I know, what? Okay, from what I gathered off their minuscule post on Facebook, the band has a ton of music that its going to curate for its next album. Savvy? Okay, so Bret Von Dahl and crew need their fans help to pick out the songs. How? Just tell them what you're fave Relapse Symphony song is.

   Why do I have reservations about this? Well, it kind of seems to go against the artistic idea of a band. You should be creating for yourself and worrying about reception later. I mean, if we all based our art off of what our fans think, then it wouldn't be organic or true to ourselves and who we are as individuals at that time. It's like basing your outfit off of what your friends think is cool and not on what you want to wear. Savvy?

  So, while I think the band's attentiveness to its fans is amazing, I'm also a little disappointed that they would compromise themselves in such a way.

  If you're a fan, head on over to the band's Facebook and let them know what your fave song is and ignore this twenty-something cynic. I probably would have told My Chem to write a million "Disenchanted"s if I had the chance.

My New Writing Music Obsession: John Butler Trio

   This is for all my folk-music loving readers out there. These guys, who I was recently introduced to while interviewing an old band from my town, are AMAZING. Their guitar work is some of the best I've heard in a while and is definitely a great soundtrack when you just need to sit down and write (or paint or whatever it is all of you people do in your free time). They have a  very laid back sound to them, which is why I was not in the least surprised when I found out they hailed from Australia (the land of other great musicians like good old Daniel Johns). 

  Formed back in 1998 (yeah, yeah, I'm late to the party) by guitarist and vocalist John Butler, an APRA and Aria-award winning musician, the line up has gone through a couple of changes but the core has been Mr. Butler and his incredible musicianship. 

John Butler Trio- "Ocean"

   He's got a very folk-inspired style that fits your snowboarding playlist perfectly but, not only that, he's creative, having skills and ideas that are seriously lacking from today's artists. While his long guitar pieces are my favorite ("Mist" is a great track you should all download off of iTunes NOW), his shorter pieces are also incredible, kind of like a more talented Jack Johnson.

  The band released its sixth studio album, Flesh and Blood, back in February of 2014. 

  If you want more info, check out the band's Facebook or official website

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

XTRMST Shows Off Its "Dirty Nails"

  XTRMST has just released another song, "Dirty Nails," that can be automatically downloaded if you preorder its debut album aptly named XTRMST. I heard "Dirty Nails" a few months ago when the waves started kicking up about this band and, I have to say, it's my favorite song out of what I've heard so far. It's got the great breakdowns, the screaming, the anger that Davey Havok is so skilled at delivering.

 If there's one album all the hardcore, early AFI fans should be preordering this year, this is it.

 The album is due out Nov. 18 but you can head over to iTunes and download the album now.

 This is not an album you guys want to miss.

New Music and a Contest from The 1975

So, the lovely boys from Macclesfield have been teasing their fans for quite some time now. Little Facebook and Twitter posts proclaiming, "Big news coming soon! Sign up for the mailing list," would pop up from time to time and they were posting images, like the one above, on their social media accounts. Now, I just thought they were adding more tour dates, considering they just did that here in the U.S. (they are playing maybe fifteen minutes from my house but I have class that night; thank God I already bought tickets to two other shows.)

Then the announcement came.

Unfortunately, I didn't get my email until way into the night (I'm looking at whoever runs the mailing list for The 1975) but, around 12:30 yesterday afternoon, Tumblr was buzzing about a new song that will be included on something quite special.

Back in 2011, there was this little flick called Drive. It's an incredible film starring my beloved Ryan Gosling as a stunt driver who moonlights as a get away driver. The driver gets embroiled in all this mob business and, in the end, has to go on the run. Not important. The important thing is that BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe is rescoring the film.

Not too many people are thrilled with the re-scoring thing but I happen to be quite excited. Not only is the line up amazing- CHVRCHES, Bring Me the Horizon, and The 1975 just to name a few- but the concept it amazing. How many times have you had your own playlist for different movies or TV shows? Zane Lowe is getting the chance to do something we have all only dreamed of doing.

I'm a bit jealous.

Well, Matty Healy had some incredibly thoughtful things to say about the song and what it means to be a part of the new score. He called it one of his most "personal and best loved pieces of music to date." Considering other songs that have earned those words of praise are "Me" and "Woman", I'm pretty sure "Medicine" is going to turn out just as amazing.

Well, The 1975 didn't stop there. They're going to release 1000 limited edition, clear, pressed vinyl versions of the song for lucky fans randomly drawn from those signed up for the mailing list.

Haven't signed up for their mailing list yet? Head on over to the band's website and get on it. I'm sure all the little diehards are just itching to get their hands on that clear vinyl.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Davey Havok and Jade Puget are BACK

My friend and I were talking about this just the other day; AFI has cycles that we, as fans, unfortunately have to suffer through. There's an album and a tour (which, thank God, comes around New York in October/November each time because AFI is a Halloween band and no one can fight me on this) and then three or more years of silence. It's killer.

But Davey and Jade have decided to be kind to us and grace us with new music that isn't quite so electronic (not that I don't love Blaqk Audio but that's a more every other month but Halloween Month band). I previously reported on their new side project, XTRMST, and talked about how there was probably more to come. Well, they just announced that they will be releasing their first LP in November with a pre-order available starting October 7.

What's XTRMST?

The band just posted this whole little manifesto on its website:

So, apparently, this band is a musical expression of the straightedge ideology, which is kind of cool. A whole band dedicated to an ideal that doesn't preach excess. In this era of twerking and less is more when it comes to clothes and more is more when it comes to sex and drugs, it's going to be almost surreal to have a band whose music is inspired by a life of control.

What is straightedge? It's a movement that essentially requires that an individual have respect for him or herself by not engage in sexual activities when there isn't an emotional bond and not ingesting addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol. Honestly, it's not a terrible life style. It had its beginnings with Ian MacKaye and Minor Threat in the 80's and has held on pretty well. Granted, not too many kids are flocking to this idea of no promiscuous sex, no drugs, and no alcohol but it's still something of value, especially in an era of "my Anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hun." I'm still gagging over those lyrics.

XTRMST will just be one of a number of straightedge bands- X-Files, Champion, and Have Heart are just a few- but they sound different and they should; the band has the songwriters of AFI as its founders. These are songwriters that are up there with Morrissey and Robert Smith and, if you've loved AFI as long as I have, you know its roots are in hardcore. But it's not straight up hardcore. It's creative and full of an almost gothic, Danny Elfman vibe.

The great thing about the few tracks that I've heard so far- they sound like tracks from the Black Sails on the Horizon or Art of Drowning eras with a bit more malice. There's an incredible amount of darkness in the songs I've heard so far, a darkness that AFI fans are going to be drawn to. But there's also grit and cacophonous guitar and bass melodies that make your eyes twitch and skin crawl...in a good way. It's the kind of music you can get lost in.

The songs are something incredibly new while incredibly familiar and I'm sure AFI fans and new fans alike will be clambering over each other to get to the shows.

Check out their website, where you can hear one of their new songs.

Now, hopefully, this means that they'll be touring soon. Fingers crossed. Until then, I'll be preordering this baby and planning to find the vinyl somewhere (even if it means I need to brave the dark, cavernous depths of Hot Topic where Justin Bieber mingles with Joy Division).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Character Playlists: Peter Pan and His Lost Boys

   As we learned in the post prior to this one, I am an avid reader. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to need a whole apartment just for books soon. So, obviously, I have favorite characters and music I associate with them (come on, don't we all make playlists in our heads for certain characters? No? That's just me? Awkward...). I decided to share my lovely playlists with all of you starting with my favorite character of all time, Peter Pan.

  Peter Pan- a symbol of everlasting youth and mischief. I have always seen him as a darker figure (hence why I chose the amazing Brom's interpretation of him, The Child Thief, as the photo for this playlist). The playlist I made for him has a mix of some indie jingle jangle rock, some darker Brit pop, and some heavier rock(BMTH is about as heavy as we're getting here). Check out the playlist here and read the track listing under the cut. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Best Band Bios

  I'm a rather voracious reader. It's a thing. For instance, this summer alone I have read about fifteen books. As a music enthusiast, rock n' roll bios are some of my favorite things to read and I decided to make all you lovely people a list of my top six fave bios. They span the spectrum of rock genres but it's really not about the music these guys play; these books are amazing for the insight into the creative process as well as great time stamps of certain eras in music. 

  And, I wouldn't be me if I didn't make you guys a playlist to go along with these books, would I? Check it out here and maybe read a few of these books (I have to say that the Stones one is my fave).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Album Review: The 48Ks' "For Every Day a Memory"

    Doncaster, England might be well-known around the world as One Direction member Louis Tomlinson's hometown but underneath that shadow is an indie band called The 48Ks. I first discovered them last year via Twitter and have become rather hooked on their simplistic, raw sound that reminds me of college bars and nights attempting to find a taxi back to campus. Luckily they sent me the link to their album and I decided to tell you all about why you, my good sirs and ladies, should go off and, at the very least, listen to it (and, you know, maybe spare some shekels and buy it).

    Their album, For Every Day a Memory, is a feel-good soundtrack that I demand each and every one of you blast while pre-gaming. The album is full of sing-a-longs, such as "Lead the Way", that are reminiscent of Against Me! and Dropkick Murphys. The simple chord progression and the gritty singing will definitely get you moving and, at some point during the night, you'll find yourself mouthing along to the words. What they're really good at, though, is pacing. The album is ordered in such a way that it kind of reads like a night out. There's the excitement and the anticipation, those fast paced opening tracks, and then theres the moment when it just slows down for a bit. That just happens to be my favorite track;"Forget Never Met"is one of their slower numbers, a pseudo-rockabilly tune that brings Tiger Army to mind.

  The band's sound sticks out because of how American it sounds; there's almost a honky-tonk, southern rock vibe coursing through the riffs, which is pretty cool considering their Anglo origins. All in all, the album is a solid debut from a band who knows how to craft tunes that are both mature and fun without falling into that pop-punk drivel I'm becoming sick of.

  You can stream the entire album on Soundcloud (totally worth the listen) and can get more info on the band at their website.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hey, BVB Army, Here's Your New Obsession

        The members look like the cast offs from a Black Veil Brides We Stitch These Wounds era video shoot, and the music takes all the best elements of the rock scene of the last decade- a little All American Rejects, some Get Scared, a bit of Black Veil Brides, and some Escape the Fate. Case in point: The Relapse Symphony is going to be every Hot Topic dweller's new obsession and there's no use fighting it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Warped Tour Patrons, Get Scared!

Hey, my lovely Warped Tour Patrons (of which, I am not one; there is this thing called a sun allergy and it makes standing in the hot sun a bit of a problem), if you're going to catch one band this summer on that lovely tour, then it should be Get Scared.

Hear me out.

I first saw these guys back in 2011 when they opened up for Escape the Fate on their Gorgeous Nightmare tour. They, and Motionless in White, kind of took my attention away from the headlining act. They shredded harder and the singer, Nicholas Matthews, was a beast. He was like Gerard Way mixed with Bert McCracken. I was in love.

Of course, the band went through line up changes, temporarily losing Matthews (it's a dark time; I don't think about it), but Matthews is back and Get Scared is back to their shredding and screaming ways. The band's latest release, Everyone's Out to Get Me, which just so happened to make my fave albums of 2013 list, is creative and full of dark themes punctuated with Matthew's distinct high vocals.

Their live sets are always full of uncontrolled energy, practically visual and audio anarchy, so I would definitely suggest seeing them. They embody everything I remember about Warped Tour- freedom of expression, creative musicianship, passionate singers, loyal fans- and are bound to keep you moving, even after a long, hot, sweaty day in the sun.

"Told Ya So"- Get Scared! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bands You Should Know: Bad Things

For fans of: San Cisco, Bad Suns, The Weeks

    Okay, so, you have even more of a reason to be jealous of Shaun White. Not only is he a phenomenal snowboarder, successful entrepreneur, and amazing skateboarder, he just so happens to also be a pretty decent guitarist with a BAND. Yes, a band. I've known for a while that he can play the guitar (I watched a lot of snowboarding DVDs in my teens...too many) and I heard some buzz about the band, Bad Things, (they played their first New York City gig last year at Santos Party House) but I hadn't really listened to them. The other day I grew curious and checked them out.

   Okay, so, they're not really my cup of tea. I mean, I could definitely see myself chilling out and reading while listening to them but they're not my go to music, savvy? But they're definitely goof. They have solid vocals and great musicianship with a very California vibe to them (shocker considering at least three members are California natives). They play the kind music that should be featured on old school high school dramas (think The O.C or One Tree Hill) but the music is catchy and fun. And while they're on the cusp of being poppy,  Davis LeDuke's vocals are just scratchy enough to lend them that bit of edge. Their dance along the line between pop and "rock" makes the band a bit more commercially viable than most bands popping up these days.

"Caught Inside" - Bad Things

   If you're into them, then check out the band's website where you can find tour information (hint: if you're a Southern reader, then they might be coming near your this summer) and more. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Get a Free The 1975 EP

   The 1975 are doing something awfully cool today; its giving you a free download of its Facedown EP free if you sign up for its mailing list. Pretty sweet. This lovely EP features the following tracks:

  1. Facedown
  2. The City
  3. Antichrist
  4. Woman
   Granted, all of these tracks can be bought on the deluxe version of the band's debut, The 1975, but if you just want to try the band out or don't have the extra cash to legally buy the extra songs ("Facedown", "Antichrist", and "Woman") then you might want to head over to their site to sign up for their newsletter. 

   The tracks featured on this EP are some of my favorites. "Facedown" is an atmospheric intro really sets the easy, flowing tone. It sounds like something that should intro a Peter Pan movie. By the time Matt Healy's haunting voice breezes through, you're already pulled in. The version of "The City" that you're getting is the EP version (duh) and is a bit dirtier in its sound and not as manufactured, which isn't a bad thing. It definitely has a more "live" feel to it and it's worth having both versions in your library. "Antichrist" is one of my favorite The 1975 tracks. Matt Healy employs a deeper set of vocals and the imagery is startling. It's definitely the most "Libertines" of their tracks but has that very John Hughes movie soundtrack vibe to it. Finally, "Woman" reminds me of "Me" (another great track that you can get if you buy the deluxe version of the album). A very simple track, it's a great closer to this solid EP. 

   Oh, and did I mention it's FREE? Yeah, so, if you can deal with the occasional newsletter, I suggest signing up and getting a hold of this EP. 

   If you need some more incentive, check out the video for "Antichrist" below. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Oh, Louis Tomlinson...

   Oh, Louis Tomlinson, you are quickly becoming my favorite person ever. 

   Alright, so the lovely Doncaster native and oldest member of One Direction, Louis Tomlinson, threw what appeared to be orange juice or orange Powerade or Gatorade or something at fans in the crowd at the band's most recent show and, apparently, this has made the precious, oversensitive One Direction fans LOSE. THEIR. MINDS. 

  Tumblr is literally going crazy with pro-Louis and anti-Louis factions creating a mini world war in the blue realm. 

 I decided to put my two sense in. Why? Because my house has turned into a Sauna from Hell and I can't sleep and also because I think it's time that you little Directioners learned some hard truths. 

 Getting water or Gatorade thrown at you by a singer is NOT the worst that can happen. He probably thought he was being playful. Also, have any of you ever been to a festival or concert of any kind? I used to annually go to Warped Tour and let me tell you, the amount of stuff that was thrown at me was a little ridiculous. I'm talking bottles filled with urine, beer in cheap plastic cups so that the scent haunted me for weeks after, cups of ice cream, and even full, unopened bottles of Gatorade. 

  At least Louis was nice enough to open the bottle. 

   The whole water/juice throwing tradition has been passed down from artist to artist and, instead of complaining, you should just laugh it up, chalk it up to another amazing concert experience, and move on. I mean, I'm pretty sure I've had a full sixteen ounces of beer poured on my head by a singer who shall not be named (it was a metal band, I was underage, some got in my mouth but I'm not sure if that counts as underage drinking). 

  Also, doesn't Harry gargle his water and spit it out like he's the bloody Trevi Fountain ? 

  Double standard much, darlings? 

  Let's not also forget all the good the blue-eyed peanut from Yorkshire does. He supports multiple charities, supports his friends' charities, and is an all around decent kid. 

  So, Directioners, please, take a breath, get off the internet for a while and EXPERIENCE LIFE. It gets messy, yes, but sometime in the future you are going to hold that Powerade stained tee and remember being close enough to Louis Tomlinson that you were within firing range of his drink. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Jamie Campbell Bower Sings?

I've known for a while that actor Jamie Campbell Bower can sing (Sweeney Todd, lovelies) and that he's a huge hard rock fan (he was incredibly excited about A Day to Remember's latest release, Common Courtesy) but I had no idea that the actor/model could also sing and play guitar. Turns out he can and he's got a new band called The Darling Buds with friends Tristan Marmont, Dan Smith, and Roland Johnson.

I came across this little gem of a hard rock act when I was scrolling through Twitter on line at the coffee shop. I couldn't very well listen then but I favorited the little tweet and found it later. This started my two hours of searching for info and watching fan videos of their must recent gigs in LA.

I'm a little hooked. I mean, their sound is raw but Jamie's got a unique voice for the genre, high and melodic but with the right amount of edge roughening it up a bit. The instrumentals are there and, with some work, they should be a band that most Hot Topic loiterers will have in their iPhones.

What I really love about this is that this is another actor going about creating a band the right way. He's not using his pull (at least from what I can see) to get a massive record deal; he and his band mates are actually doing small free gigs and really building up steam in a DIY fashion.

Now, if only he'd bring this lovely act to New York.

Anyway, check out the band's Facebook and watch one of their most recent performances below.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bands You Should Know: The Wytches

     Alright, lovelies, this is the time for you to sit back and listen as I tell you all about a new band that I discovered and why you should listen to them. There's this band from England (are you surprised its from England) that plays psychedelic meets Mars Volta type music that I'm sort of in love with. The Wytches were formed in 2011 with members Kristian Bell, Gianni Honey, and Daniel Rumsey while attending university in Brighton. In 2013, the band released their amazing single "Beehive Queen" (go buy it NOW) and then "Robe for Juda" in November 2013. The band's first single for the US, "Crying Clown", was released around that same time.

    All incredibly interesting information, right? The key thing for you guys to understand is that their sound is different. Bell's vocals almost sound like a sick child but a rather endearing one, one that pulls you in and who you want to listen to over and over again until the words from the song and the thrum of his vocals are tattooed into your brain. Make sense? "Beehive Queen" has to be one of my favorite songs in a long time. It's kind of like The Munsters theme song meets the Beach Boys. It sounds similar to something the lovely Mars Volta would have put out had they been a bit more creative. 

  The band will be touring North America this summer. I'll be sure to check them out either at its Mercury Lounge gig on July 24th or its Glasslands show on July 25th. You can see a full list of dates plus check out links for mercy, videos and more at their website


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mat Devine is Goldblooded

    Mat Devine has been one of my biggest influences creatively since I was twelve. As the lead singer of Kill Hannah, he captured my attention with his unique voice and crazy style that reminded me of Edward Scissorhands meets Dickensonian London. There was something wild about him and, to a twelve year old caught in the vortex of 90s and millennial era boy bands and brought up on a steady diet of rock n' roll and classical, Devine was different and new and something inherently mine because I discovered him before anyone showed him and Kill Hannah to me.


   Anyway, I've been a huge fan since I was a pre-teen and have seen a few Kill Hannah shows, met the band and have his autograph saved in a scrap book in my room. Obviously, this is becoming a life long passion. So, when he announced he was working on a solo effort I was stoked. He's been campaigning for the record for a little over a month now and as of today he's achieved 44% of his goal. 

  Now, I pledged that first day and, unfortunately, until my next paycheck, can't really pledge again because, you know, I'm a broke grad student teaching kids basic vocab for a living. ANYWAY, I decided to show you guys the video for the song "Birds of Prey", hoping it will entice the lot of you to maybe spare some shekels and DONATE TO THE CAUSE. (I want this album, people; it needs to be in my hands and ears and blasting from my car so I can annoy the new neighbors who don't know the unwritten parking rules of my hometown). 

    If that The Cure meets Bauhaus meets The XX track doesn't convince you to pledge, then maybe the idea that Gerard Way contributed to one of the tracks will. Yes, Gerard Way or he who will not be named because he said a bird made him realize that My Chem had to end. I'm still bitter. 

    Oh, and there are different levels of pledges so maybe you're a trust fund baby who wants a little more than just a CD. You can spend anywhere from $10 to $5000 (the other two amounts seem a little far fetched but, hey, if you have a $1,000,000 to spare, be my guest and check them out) where you can get Mat Devine to play a house party (why is the New School taking my money for education when it can be well spent on a house party?). Pretty sweet, eh?

   If thou art interested in contributing to this most noble of causes, head on over to Mat Devine's site and pledge away, darlings. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Concert Review: The 1975 at Rams Head Live

   Remember how a few months ago I mentioned that I was a failure of a fangirl and had to road trip it down to Baltimore in order to catch the 1975? Yeah, well, Thursday night, June 5th, I slithered my way through the crowd to get close enough to the stage in order to bring back accurate reports of the greatness that was the 1975. 

   It was a hardship. Really.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Music Alert: E-Mute

   If you like smooth vocals, incredible musicianship, and creative melodies, then you need to check out one of my favorite singer-songwriters from England. E-Mute, the project of singer-songrwriter Theo, is a project that is cross between Dommin, Panic! At the Disco and old-school Thirty Seconds to Mars. He recently just put out a new song that features some of the most beautiful piano playing in a while. Now, I've been a fan for about a year, ever since I heard the song "Clocks Move Forward." I was drawn in by the almost vaudevillian sound of the whole work and have since been following his progress. I was sent his latest song, "Miracle."

    The vocals have come a long way since "Clocks Move Forward" and it seems Theo's found the range best suited to him. Singing at a lower octave than normal, Theo is showcasing more power and range than ever before and it fits the dramatic piano playing. 

  Check out the new single above and pre-order it here. You can also follow E-Mute on Twitter.

Monday, March 17, 2014

XTRMST is Davey Havok...and JADE PUGET!!!

     Remember how I mentioned that Davey Havok had a new side project? Well, I was kind of bummed that he wasn't forming it with his partner in crime, guitarist Jade Puget. Ever since Jade joined AFI for Black Sails in the Sunset, it's seemed like the songwriting duo couldn't be parted. And for good reason. Anything those two write turns out to be gold. When I listened to XTRMST, I thought it had a very Jade vibe in terms of guitar work but everyone was talking about Davey; I thought that Havok had left my lovely Puget behind.

  But Jade just confirmed that XTRMST is, in fact, he and Davey's new band:


"More to come"? Ummm, if that means album and tour, I'm so on that. 

 What's really cool about these two is that they also have an electronic side project, Blaqk Audio, which has also been successful. So, really, they can change up their hats to any style and make it work. Not many can do that but, then again, Jade and Davey are definitely a unique songwriting pair. 

 Check out XTRMST here and here. You don't want to be the one kid that missed out on this.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Davey Havok Side Project?

  I'm not saying it's definitely a Davey Havok side project but listening to XTRMST's music makes me think it's almost definitely Davey Havok's side project. Only Havok has the voice that is powering these very old school-AFIesque songs and, not for nothing, it's the best AFI music put out by a non-AFI band EVER (does that make sense?)

  Reports about this band sprung up March 15th across social media sites and I liked the Facebook page when they had 125 likes. It now has 779 and I'm pretty sure that once people actually give this band a listen, the likes are going to rise rapidly.

  Their music is available for a listen and free download here and, if you're into old school, All Hallow's EP/ The Art of Drowning/ Black Sails in the Sunset era AFI (or hardcore in general), you're going to want to give it a listen.


Concert Review: HIM

   H.I.M returned to New York City on Friday to play Irving Plaza in Union Square. They blitzed through a set of fourteen main songs and two encore tracks and dazzled the audience with their personal brand of unassuming stage personas and stellar musicianship.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blaming Labels: How Musicians Try to Get Away With Terrible Music

     Just recently, Lily Allen was called out by one of her fans and told that her music was "rubbish". She agreed but blamed her label and the radio stations for the problem. "All I can do is my best, the labels and radio stations won't play the better stuff," she tweeted. It's all well and good to blame the radio stations and the labels for poor taste in music. We all know that labels and the stations only play cheesy, poppy music that really isn't any good at all. But why is any of your music bad? Why aren't you proud of all of it?

     This seems to be a recurring problem with artists; when the fans don't respond positively to their music, they blame someone, anyone but themselves.

    Here's some advice. If you can be "badass" enough to get in trouble with the law, give the middle finger every time a camera comes near you, and use expletives liberally, then you should be a big enough person to take ownership of your sound.

    It's not just limited to pop acts. My Chemical Romance blamed their label and feeling rushed and tired after the Black Parade when fans criticized their 2010 release Danger Days: True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Black Veil Brides' lead singer, Andy Biersack, also blamed pressure from the band's label when fans questioned their sophomore release Set the World on Fire. It begs the question: if you knew it was bad, why release it?

   Yeah, there are label politics and such but why even make the music that way?

    I can understand boy band pop acts having their hands tied. But, ironically, One Direction has been allowed to mature from bubble-gum, Brit-pop infused music to a much more rock oriented sound. Their latest release, Midnight Memories, was not only a huge commercial success, but was also a massive critical triumph. Looking back on their discography, they have never bashed what they put out or blamed their label. They have just said that, as time has gone, they have found their sound and matured.
   So, if a band of a bunch of twenty-somethings can stand by their music, most of which they didn't even get to write themselves (this excludes their latest release for which members Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne wrote more than half the tracks), then why can't artists who are supposed to care for their work and put their best effort into it stand by their music? If it's bad, admit it's bad and move on. Don't blame the labels, even if they do share the blame.

   In regards to Allen's new work, I'm actually okay with it. It doesn't have the same Brit-pop vibe the other albums have had but there's still something inherently Lily Allen about the new tracks. They're not songs that should be abandoned and laid at the feet of the labels and radio stations. While I'm not the biggest fan of "Hard Out Here", "Air Balloon" has an almost "LDN" vibe to it.

    Either way, when you create something and share it with the world, be prepared to take ownership of it whether there's praise of criticism. If you don't, you're just going to look weak.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Birthday Mix!

It's my birthday! To commemorate the occasion, I put together a list of my twenty four favorite songs from bands that you should know. It's a nice mix of old and new and I'm sure there's something for any serious music lover. See, I'm entertaining and educating you. Thank me later.

Check it out here: Playlist

Track List:

1. Girls- 1975
    Fun, upbeat, poppy song- just the kind of track to make you forget about your growing number of years.

2. Get Free- The Vines
     I always loved the energy The Vines had.

3. Pretty Vacant- The Sex Pistols
    This was the first song I ever heard by The Sex Pistols. I can still remember being thirteen years old, gaping at old images of the band playing, assaulting the audience with songs just like this one.

4. Disparate Youth- Santigold
    Mellows the mix out a bit and gives you a breather.

5. Recover- CHVRCHES
    My favorite song by these up and coming indie faves.

6. Agenda Suicide- The Faint
   I really hope this makes you all get up and dance.

7. Midnight Rambler- The Rolling Stones
    Quite possibly the song that captures the very essence of the Rolling Stones, this will forever be one of my top three Stones songs.

8. We Own the Sky- M83
     There's something really enchanting and beautiful about this track. There were many nights where I would walk back from main campus to my dorm just listening to this track (it was a fifteen minute walk. I think the song clocks in somewhere around five minutes).

9. Die Romantic- Aiden
    Off Aiden's second album, this is the song that made me fall in love with them. For my sixteenth birthday I got to see them support Thirty Seconds to Mars and met both bands. It was a rather magical night.

10. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da- The Beatles
    I feel like I don't give the Fab Four enough love but I do like them and this is the song that gets me the most energized.

11. Topsy Turvy- Family Force 5
      This song was featured on the 2010 Alice in Wonderland soundtrack. My entire twentieth birthday was Alice in Wonderland themed and, considering it's my second favorite story ever (second only to Peter Pan), Alice in Wonderland is quite special to me. The song itself captures the whimsical feel that Alice in Wonderland has without encroaching into the Jefferson Airplane spectrum.

12. LDN- Lily Allen
    This picks the mix up a bit and gives it a bit of a spring/summer feel.

13. Five Years- David Bowie
      No mix is complete without BOWIE! Five Years has always been one of my favorite Bowie tracks because its melancholic air of finality juxtaposed with its almost hopeful tone.

14. Personality Crisis- New York Dolls
      I love the fast-paced, straight in your face ethos of the New York Dolls.

15. Transmission- Joy Division
       I'm a huge Joy Division fangirl so they're always playing when I get ready to go out.

16. Jet Boy, Jet Girl- The Damned
     It's the Damned. They have to be on here.

17. I Against I- Bad Brains
       If there's one band that, to me, really encapsulates the New York City punk sound then it's the Bad Brains. They have that never-ending energy that the punk movement was known for but, instead of preaching anarchy and nihilism, they tried to get their fans to try and change the world for the better.

18. Mama Do the Hump- Rizzle Kicks
      I shamelessly dance to this song all the time.

19. Beautiful Ones- Suede
      Upbeat tone and depressing lyrics? Perfect.

20. Graffiti- Maximo Park
      I just love Maximo Park and felt that this was the perfect song to introduce you all to them.

21. Comeback Kid- Sleigh Bells
      I love the energy of this song (or of any Sleigh Bells song).

22. The Boys are Back- Dropkick Murphys
      My birthday falls right near St. Patty's Day so OF COURSE Dropkick Murphys are going to be included on my playlist.

23. Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?- Green Day
       Green Day is one of my favorite bands and this song is one of their most underrated, even though it's both Billie-Joe and my favorite song.

24. Heroes- David Bowie
      He's Bowie so he gets two spots. In all seriousness, though, this song has always been so uplifting and empowering (they even feature it at the end of Perks of Being a Wallflower) so I needed to close out the playlist with this one.

Hope you guys enjoyed it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Concert Tips: Roadtripping It

Okay, so, worst case scenario happens: the band you love is coming to town but you found out too late. The mailing list ended up in the spam folder, the real world got in the way of meticulous concert calendar planning, or you slept through the alarm clock that would wake you up in time to make sure you logged onto Ticketmaster to buy those tickets. Any way you look at it, you, my friend, have failed epically at fangirling/fanboying. Congrats. So, this occasionally happens and, recently, the failing to get tickets phenomenon afflicted me. I have decided to put my failings as a fangirl on display and my subsequent road trip planning in order to help all of you during these dark times of "sold out" signs and "there are no tickets currently available" banners.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Quiet Time Music

    There are just those days when you need a little bit of quiet but you don't want to give up your music. Right? Yet, all of that heavier stuff like Motionless in White or even Social Distortion isn't really going to do it for you. That's why I, in the midst of trying to read the insane amounts of reading I have to have done for tomorrow, made a playlist for all of you to use when you just want to zone out a bit, grab a book, or just daydream. Savvy? Sweet. 

 As always, the playlist is on my lovely 8Tracks account (which is one of my fave sites, btw). Head on over there to check it out (hint, click the link under "there" and you'll be taken, well, there). Below is the track listing just to make sure you like it. 

1. Is There Somebody Who Can Watch Over You?- The 1975
    My favorite song by The 1975, this song showcases a level of vulnerability that Healy doesn't otherwise reveal to the listener. 

2. Old Friends- Daniel Pearson
    He's one of my favorite, up and coming English singer/songwriters which is funny because he has a definite American, blue-collar music (Springsteen) vibe to him.

3. Atmosphere- Joy Division
    I don't need to explain this one, do I?

4. Moonlight Mile- The Rolling Stones
   Again, it's another British band that has a very, southern American vibe to it, particularly in this track. And, God, I hope all of you know who the Stones are. 

5. As the World Falls Down- David Bowie
    This song was featured in the epic, 80s, glittertastic movie Labyrinth and I have been deeming it my wedding song since I saw that movie. Anyway, this is one of my favorite Bowie songs of all time so I thought I would share. 

6. Holocene- Bon Iver
    The first Bon Iver song I ever heard, Holocene is still my favorite track of his. 

7. Skinny Love- Birdy
    Birdy takes a Bon Iver song and somehow makes it even more beautiful and haunting. 

8. Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl- Broken Social Scene
   I'm just in love with this song. It kind of has an Imogene Heap thing going for it but...anyway, it's a great track that I'm in love with.

9. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room- John Mayer
    There are a few occasions when I will listen to John Mayer, this is one of them.

10. Think of You- Carney
       Carney is one of those bands that marries blues with jazz and rock and a bit of pop. This song's soulful and soft quality really adds a dream-like feel to their one and only album, Mr. Green Vol. 1. The entire album is worth a listen but this song is just...magical? Yeah, go with that.

11. Like Lavender- Horse Feathers
   Very folky, almost coffee house like vibe that reminds me of artisan towns. 

12. Untitled- Silverchair
      Probably the hardest track on this mix, "Untitled" still retains an almost sleepy quality brought about by Daniel Johns' voice. Besides, any chance I can get to reinforce the amazingness that is Silverchair is a chance I will take. Listen and reach enlightenment, people. 

Again, you can check out the playlist here as well as see all my other mixes on my profile here. Enjoy the quiet time, lovelies.

Monday, March 3, 2014

New Music Mix

I enjoy making mixes WAY too much. It's a problem. Anyway, in order to make myself feel better about the bitter cold that is still plaguing New York, I decided to make a mix of some of the newer stuff that I just added to my iTunes. There are some indie acts and some better known ones on here so enjoy it here.

The track listing:

1. She Like the Drama- Sisteray
    You'll like these guys if you enjoy a weird mix of Maximo Park and the Arctic Monkeys.

2. Overdose- Maudlin Strangers
    Again, these guys have a crazy Arctic Monkeys, Libertines, old school Kings of Leon vibe to them. Oh, and I wrote a little post about them a while ago: Maudlin Strangers.

3. I Lied- Electric Century
    Mikey Way's new band that reminds me of New London Fire on acid.

4. Siren- The Palace Wolves
    Really fun, almost Interpol sounding band. Give them a listen.

5. Riptide- Vance Joy
    Bon Iver meets Jack Johnson. Savvy?

6. Fortune Teller- The 48k's
    Doncaster, England based band that has a gritty, punk rock vibe to them. Kind of like England's answer to the Dropkick Murphys.

7. Dreaming- Smallpools
    A more energetic 1975

8. The City- The 1975
     Definitely one of my favorite songs off their self-titled debut. The 1975 are a band I'm willing to drive to BALTIMORE for.

9. Hurricane- MS MR
    They remind me of a more feminine Hurts. They have that same deranged pop vibe to them.

10. Buttons- The Weeks
     Kind of what Kings of Leon could have been if they had just stuck to what they were good at. Ironically, they're on Kings of Leon owned label, Serpents and Snakes.

11. A Little Death- The Neighbourhood
      There's something incredibly gritty and urban about this band and this song is in my top three tracks by them.

12. 14- Palma Violets
       They're like the second coming of The Libertines and this track is the one that has a tendency to stay stuck in my head the longest.

13. Demon Dance- Surfer Blood
      The song reminds me of the summer. I want the warmth. Therefore, I will add this track to the mix.

14. Lost Boys and Girls Club- Dum Dum Girls
      Dum Dum Girls is a better, more sultry sounding version of the Savages and I just love the name of the song.

Again, you can check out the mix here.