Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Firestarter Announce US Tour With Capstan

>>  Following a slew of shows across the Northeast, Firestarter are hitting the road for a month-long US tour. They'll be joined by Capstan, who just released their Cultural Divide EP today (7/19). The run kicks off on August 6th in Albany, NY, giving fans plenty of opportunities to catch each band playing their new tunes. Having seen Firestarter several times (and having heard some of the new jams they've been working on), it's safe to say that this is a run you won't want to miss. Check the full list of dates below, and head to firestarterband.com for tickets. 

Firestarter Tour Dates:
8/06 - Albany, NY @ Fuze Box*
8/07 - Hamden, CT @ The Space*
8/09 - Fayetteville, NC @ The Drunk Horse Pub*
8/10 - Charleston, SC @ Compass*
8/13 - Tampa, FL @ Lucky You Tattoo
8/14 - Orlando, FL @ Backbooth
8/17 - San Antonio, TX @ Korova Basment
8/18 - El Paso, TX @ Mesa Music Hall
8/20 - Mesa, AZ @ Fifty-One West
8/21 - Chula Vista, CA @ The Industry
8/22 - Chino, CA @ The Legacy Room
8/24 - San Francisco, CA @ Honey Hive Gallery
8/25 - Los Angeles, CA @ White Oak Music & Arts
8/26 - Henderson, NV @ Eagle Aerie Hall
8/30 - Detroit, MI @ The Ritz
8/31 - Chicago, IL @ Royal Skate
9/01 - Indianapolis, IN @ Hoosier Dome
9/02 - Louisville, KY @ Spinelli's Downtown
9/04 - Elyria, OH @ Blank Slate*
9/05 - Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place*
* = Firestarter Only

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Lesley Barth Shares Groovy "Just Like Summer" Video

>> Heading into the blistering dog days of summer, Lesley Barth has armed herself with gorgeous vocal harmonies and a fresh spirit, ready to break through the listlessness of long, muggy afternoons. Her video for “Just Like Summer” is a cool breeze on a sunny day - so much so that passersby in Central Park felt compelled to join in on the filming fun and fall in love with summer all over again. 

>> Lesley ruminates on summer love, saying “In terms of the story behind the song, I had a little melody of “I love you just like summer” that popped into my head a few months ago. This idea of wanting someone as badly as you want summer felt like a strong lyrical idea to explore, and the chorus fell quickly into place, with verses following afterwards.” You can watch “Just Like Summer” below.

>> Lesley’s full length album, Green Hearts, is set for release in Fall of 2016.

- Emily Becker

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

PREMIERE: Douglas ★ Warren's 'Ready To Go' EP

>> It's not every day that we highlight music with a country feel, but it's always exciting to discover an artist in a new genre that knocks it out of the park.  With that said, meet Douglas ★ Warren. Originating as the solo project of artist Chris Keller, Douglas ★ Warren embraces country, soul, and rock n' roll in order to create something equally delightful and addictive. (Seriously, try to listen to "Ready To Go" only once.) After months of hard work and rowdy performances, it's time for the big reveal. 

>> Team TMO is proud to share Douglas ★ Warren's Ready To Go EP a full two days before its official release. The project blends thoughtful lyrics with rockin' summer vibes to create the perfect atmosphere: Sometimes in life, everything goes right; where you live, your friends, your career, significant other and of course family. These songs are about reminiscing about both the light and dark times," notes Keller. "Life happens, and things might not go according to plan; people grow apart, and loved ones are lost. And reminiscing about such a time with someone that brought joy can bring a smile to your face when smiling is tough to do." Take time to reflect while you have these tunes on repeat:

Want more? Read my Q&A with Douglas ★ Warren below!

How and when did you decide to make music under the name of Douglas ★ Warren? How does that reflect what you do musically? 
It came to me in 2012 shortly after I lost my brother. I felt lost myself at that time. I had already been singing under my normal name, but I never had a band or any solo project stick.

I was looking for a name that represented a sound. That represented me. Facebook and Google will tell you there are a lot of Chris Keller's out there. There's Chris Keller in the show, One Tree Hill, that I was told also sings. I've never watched that show. But I've always had a desire to be unique. My middle name is Douglas, which is also my fathers middle name. The name Warren is my brothers middle name that came from my great grandfather on my mothers side. I felt putting the two together would be representative of me, my parents, and a way to make my brother a part of all of this. He's in my heart and mind every day. But every time I see that "Warren" name or the "W" on the logo, it's something continuous in the moment that I know is my brother. It's more than a memory at this point. 

Have you always been interested in music with a country flair? Where do you typically draw inspiration from both sonically and lyrically? 
I grew up in central Illinois detassling (if you're not from corn country, Google it), and my fathers side are farmers in northeast Indiana. My grandmother on my mom's side was a southern east Tennessee woman that played hymns on the organ and piano every time we visited. So, it's been in my blood my whole life. There was a time in the early 90's, as a young kid, the coolest musicians on the planet to us were Vanilla Ice, Michael Jackson, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Garth Brooks. We would line dance in gym class and I honestly was never into it. I think it being a requirement with a PE teacher walking around blowing a whistle to change songs kind of ruined it for me. Haha. But I would always come home from school and my mom would be blasting Alabama on the turntable, and I always that that was cool. My parents were never into heavier classic bands like Zeppelin and Floyd, so as I got older, I had a desire to rebel towards hard rock and rap. As I got older, I realized how important a story is to tell. It's fun singing and screaming high notes, but damn, sometimes you need to sit back and sing a song and relax. And country was always there for that.I also got into a lot of R&B, so my influences are all over the place. But as I stated earlier about the desire to be unique, it all works out. 

Where did the EP title come from? 
It has multiple meanings. The first song off the EP is called Ready To Go. I was inspired to write it after a friend of mine told me about an ex boyfriend that had cheated on her in a really stupid way. The song is about packing up and moving on with no regret. I titled that EP off that song from a slightly different perspective...basically... Douglas ★ Warren is ready to go. Ready to get this moving. Ready to get out and play. Ready to share my music with the world. Tell my stories. Tell stories from others. Ready to sing and play my ass off. 

What inspired the song “Missin’ On You”?
The song is about missing someone you loved at the perfect time in life. Where everything was in place. Job, place to live, people around you, positive emotions, everything is just right. The song is about reminiscing about the good times and someone meaningful during a tough time. 

Would you say that the EP has an overarching theme, or does each track stand on its own? 
I would say so. It covers love and loss. It's not a drinkin' song EP. But it is fun and I believe there's something in each track that's relatable to everyone. 

Do you have a favorite track, or one that stands out to you? What makes that one extra special for you? 
Say My Name hits me the hardest. It's the song you write that you don't remember writing. It just happened. I wanted to write a song about my feeling of loss and leaving a simple worry free life behind. Things change, times change, life isn't always positive. This song is about dealing with that. The longing to be remember the good times as well as being remembered yourself. 

How does it feel to finally have your first EP out there in the world? 
I can't believe it. But... I'm ready for it. I thought I was ready before. But now... I KNOW I'm ready. 

What do you hope listeners get from this EP and from your music in general? 
That Douglas Warren writes fun tunes, sings his ass off, but also understands, life isn't always fun. I believe a good artist is there for you during the good times and the bad times. That's where I want to be. 

Now that this EP is out, what’s next? Tell us about your upcoming shows! 
As I'm typing this, my friends are working on booking shows right now for this fall. And I couldn't be more EXCITED!!! And Ready To Go is just the first of many albums to come. Just about finished with the next EP I recored with a good friend of mine that plays with Tyler Farr. It's unbelievable and an honor to be working in the same room with guys who go out and play with someone badass as Tyler Farr. Feels surreal. 

Douglas Warren and the boys are playing several times around Nashville and the midwest this summer. It's all on my website www.douglaswarrenmusic.com. But this fall.... that's my first "tour". WOW!!!! 

Anything else you'd like to say?
Enjoy. Sit back and enjoy. Turn it up with the windows down. Put on some good headphones and go for a walk late at night. It's an EP that covers several emotions. There's a song for any moment in life. And the last song does something a bit special, Jovon, is for the psychedelic music lovers. My friend Nicholas Bullock who produced the EP, he and I wanted something that was a bit like a Zeppelin jam-out meets a modern day trance-out. It's fun. Crazy guitar parts, soaring vocals, cool delays, and my buddy Clark on the bass just lays down a nasty groove. Just chill and enjoy. And it will leave the listener wanting more. 

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Live Review: I the Mighty at Irving Plaza (6/15/16)

>> I the Mighty's 2015 album, Connector, saw the band balance its harder rock tenancies that were prevalent in 2013's Satori with catchier, almost pop-like melodies. Satori chronicled a break up, while their latest album showed growth in the band's song writing and overall composition of music. The lights were low as the band broke into their opening track, "Lady of Death." In certain instances as the guitar chords rang throughout the speakers, each of the band members were enclosed by a faint, spatter of spotlight. Throughout the nine song set, the clash of blue and green moody coloring contrasted the energy of the crowd which had a dichotomy of being lively and intensely listening to the music. They played songs like "Slow Dancing Forever," which makes use of programmed beat. If that was considered the calm, the madness of "Failures" was the storm. A set from I the Mighty would not be complete without guitarist Ian Pedigo's slowly raising his guitar in the sky. All in all, the New York crowd was welcoming to a band that seems to be actively progressing their music and live act.

- Photos and words by Murjani Rawls

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Album Review: 'Dangerous Woman' by Ariana Grande

>> Ariana Grande's 2014 release, My Everything, may have hit a snag with a hodgepodge of influences that were on the album. There were the hit songs like "Bang Bang", "Problem", and "Break Free", but you figured that the now 22 year old singer had to make an album that embodied herself and let the trends fall into that structure. "Focus", which was slated to be the first single off Grande's newest album Dangerous Woman, would have followed a similar path of the previous album - a radio ready hit that would carry into the spring and summer. However, that was left off the initial track listing in favor of the title track to the album's benefit.

>> Dangerous Woman has many influences, but they are refined and retooled into a narrative that works. The 11 track album sounds like Grande utilizing her vocal talents and giving each song its own feel and touch, whether it be from harmonies or how she doubles her vocal tracks. "Moonlight" serves as a romantic opener that draws influence from the doo-wop era and kicks the album off with a classic feel. The title track was an interesting pick for the first single, given that its mid-tempo premise was different than the songs we were accustomed to hearing from Grande. You get a sultry, sexy song complete with a guitar solo that adds a new wrinkle into her repertoire. "Be Alright" is a feel good, house-infused track that includes some encouragement from Grande herself ("the hard times are golden cause they all lead to better days").

>> Throughout the whole album, there's a theme of love and how it makes you feel. It moves from the initial honeymoon feeling of euphoria to the dark places of heart break. Each of the song's narratives come from a genuine place as the emotions may go up and down; so does the tempo. "Leave Me Lonely" which also adds some vocals from Macy Gray would be considered the quintessential ballad of the album. "Thinking Bout You" is an interesting way to end the album as a whole. As the top half is abundant in jovial feelings about love, this album ends on the note of honest longing after someone's heart as been broken. It would have been too safe to give a happy ending, but instead, it shows a real push in Grande's maturity as an artist.

>> Super-producer Max Martin adds diversity within the tracks he produces, but not at the expense of the personality of Grande. There are plenty of hits waiting for your radio such as the synth-infused "Into You" or the reggae-tinged "Side To Side" featuring Nicki Minaj. Dangerous Woman will take you down many roads, but the direction actually feels like one that leads somewhere. There is plenty to dive into, dance to - hell, maybe even cry to. With that, you don't get lost in the shuffle which makes for a very satisfying listen. 

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Experience An Oxymorrons Show [Live Video + Tour Dates]

>> Full disclosure: Oxymorrons are one of my favorite bands to see live. I've caught their set numerous times, everywhere from Gramercy Theatre to The Knitting Factory to intimate industry events. This group is constantly evolving, and their priority is always creating a dope performance for each and every person in attendance. Their energy is undeniable and difficult to properly highlight through words alone, which is why the Oxys put together a live video for their "Hello Me" remix.

>> On its own, "Hello Me" is very different for an Oxy tune - its energy is more thoughtful and surrounded by ambient vibes that introduce the listener into an entirely new sonic landscape. The remix combines that feeling with more of a party atmosphere, and the mix beautifully lends itself to this live video. The visuals here come from Oxymorrons' set at Webster Hall when they performed alongside Waka Flocka Flame on 4/20. Watch the clip and get a feel for what these guys have to offer:

>> Now that they've got your attention, the fellas are ready to expand their Oxynation. Be sure to catch Oxymorrons on their upcoming Geeked Out Tour, which kicks off on May 31st in Philadelphia. Check out the full list of dates below and get your tickets here:

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Friday, May 20, 2016

PREMIERE: Makeshift Release "Someone Like Me" Video, Announce New EP

Photo Credit: Dani Sacco

>> Having started out as a group of 15 year olds who just wanted to do something rad, Makeshift are making serious moves. Now a few years into being a band, this group is incredibly focused and more determined than ever, as seen through a slew of packed shows on Long Island and a performance at the 2016 Launch Music Conference. While buzz continues to build, the guys realized it was time to do something for their fans who eagerly await something new.

>> Today, team TMO has partnered with the band to unveil their brand new video for "Someone Like Me." The song is a total pop punk jam with an introspective edge: "The lyrics that I wrote and sing in the song reflect a time in my life that I’m not very proud of," notes vocalist/guitarist Andrew Musalo.  "However, the lyrics also suggest that maybe we can make up for the bad things we’ve done in the past, and maybe we can learn from our mistakes to make us better people in the end, much like how positive things can sometimes come from catastrophes."  Think that over while embracing the cool vibe of Long Island as you watch the "Someone Like Me" video below:

>> What's more exciting than a dope new video? New tunes, that's what! The Makeshift fellas are on a roll, and they're working up to releasing a new EP later this year. "We’re really excited to announce that we’re going to be recording a new record this June with Adam Cichocki at Timber Studios in New Jersey," said Dan Burke (bass / vocals). "We’re trying to make these songs sonically different, to an extent, from what we’ve done in the past. We love these songs and we hope everyone who hears them is going to love them just as much. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’m very excited for the future of Makeshift and can’t wait to see what we can do with it.

Get stoked for the EP, and read more of my Q&A with the band below!

What inspired the song “Someone Like Me” ? What is the overall message addressed here?
Dan: If you listen to the lyrics in my verse and Andrew’s verse, you’ll probably notice that they’re not talking about entirely the same thing. We each wrote our own lyrics for this track which is something that I think is really cool about this song. I wrote my verse about a time that I experienced kind of recently where I had a lot of things going on in my life regarding relationships, school, friends, and a bunch of things. Things weren’t great and I felt like when I reached out for help from some of the people that I felt were closest to me I was blown off and told to kind of just get over it. That’s where the line of “everybody around me refused to help” came in and my verse kind of just captures that.

Andrew: The lyrics that I wrote and sing in the song reflect a time in my life that I’m not very proud of, a time when I had pushed away a lot of loved ones and friends and created a very negative environment for myself. The lyrics kind of touch on how I feel guilty about a lot of the choices I made during this brief period, and painted this very dark picture in my mind as to who I am and how I feel about myself. A lot of times when I think about that time in my life, I cant help but feel like I am just really terrible person and like I have to make up for that however I can. However, the lyrics also suggest that maybe we can make up for the bad things we’ve done in the past, and maybe we can learn from our mistakes to make us better people in the end, much like how positive things can sometimes come from catastrophes.

Where was the video filmed?
All of the full band shots were filmed in our friend Justin’s basement. (Thank you Justin.) Justin was actually also one of the guys on the crew for this video and helped out a bunch with filming. (Thank you Justin, again.) The skate park shots were done at Bethpage Skate Park. It’s our actor Vin’s favorite park to go to.

How did you come up with the ideas / scenes in this video? Do the static and TV-smashing have any special significance?
Andrew: We got together with the band and crew and were brainstorming different ideas for kind of a theme to the video. We thought that the static would kind of represent how someone feels when they are facing a negative time in their life and everything seems to be in disarray.

Dan: I just thought it would look kinda cool.

What do you hope viewers get out of this video and your music in general?
Andrew: Most of our music kind of has a message of no matter how shitty things are, it all gets better as long as you work at it.

Dan: Yeah I agree especially with this song. A reoccurring theme in some of my parts is “And I just gotta keep on going, because I don’t know what else to do.” Keep on going, don’t give up.

How does this song fit into your plans moving forward? Does this address similar themes that will show up in your forthcoming EP?
Andrew: Yeah there are definitely a few reoccurring themes in the newer songs that can relate back to “Someone Like Me.” I’m especially into emphasizing the idea that you can and should always try to make the best of a bad situation no matter what the circumstances, and you’ll definitely be seeing some of those themes on the EP.

Dan: Based on what we’ve been writing I think that there are definitely going to be some similar themes coming out on the new record. I think that it’ll probably be a more positive writing style because I can speak for myself and say that I’m in a much better place than I was when we were writing “Someone Like Me” back in the fall. We’re different people and we’ve grown and learned a lot from our experiences and I hope a lot of that comes through in the newer material.

Does your new EP have an overarching theme, or does each track stand on its own?
Andrew: Each of the songs are definitely going to be their own entity, with a kind of loose theme stringing them together much like many of the songs we’ve written in the past.

Dan: I think that more than just the themes of the songs, we’re trying to make these songs sonically different, to an extent, from what we’ve done in the past. We don’t know exactly what the final product is going to sound like yet but we have a relatively good idea and I’m very excited about it.

Now that this video is out, what’s next for Makeshift?
Dan: We’re really excited to announce that we’re going to be recording a new record this June with Adam Cichocki at Timber Studios in New Jersey. Nothing is set in stone yet but we’re also hoping to have another tour in the books by the end of this summer. Getting the EP done and trying to push that as hard as we can is really the focus now, though.

Andrew: I’m really excited to be writing new material that I think people listening to our band will really love. We’re really trying our hardest to put out the best music we can make right now and can’t express how ecstatic I am to be able to present that to our listeners.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Dan: This is going to be our first official release since September of 2014 and we’ve all changed a lot since then. The band has a different lineup, the songs are written differently, and we’re just overall much different people who know a lot more about themselves, but at the same time are just as clueless as the 15 year olds that we were when we started the band. We love these songs and we hope everyone who hears them is going to love them just as much. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’m very excited for the future of Makeshift and can’t wait to see what we can do with it. **insert rock and roll hand emoji here**

Andrew: I just want to say that I can’t thank everyone who’s ever helped us enough; every individual contribution small and large has helped bring us to this point and hopefully will get us far beyond. I want people to know that we’ve grown a ton since we were just some kids trying to play music in my basement, and I hope that growth is felt on this upcoming record. Thank you all and thank you again. We’re so grateful for everything you’ve done for us. We’ll try our best not to let you down. I wanted to say a definite “we won’t let you down,” but I guess that remains to be seen.

Photo Credit: Aud Lew
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Envy On The Coast Announce Three Shows

>> Dreams do come true: Envy On The Coast will play three shows in August. That's right, folks - Envy is back! After performing a few of the band's classic tunes at a 1st Vows show in NYC last month (video 1 & video 2), vocalist Ryan Hunter and guitarist Brian Byrne have taken up the EOTC mantle and will carry on the group's legacy. 

>> While I'd love to call this a full reunion, that just isn't the case - Sal Bossio (guitar / vocals) released a statement explaining why he, Jeremy Velardi (bass), and Dan Gluszak (drums) will not be participating in these shows, which you can read in full here
"...Rest assured, our not being a part of these shows is not for lack of desire. We hold the legacy of this band near and dear to our hearts, as well as the decade of unwavering support and enthusiasm from the lifeblood of Envy On The Coast -- you guys, the fans. However, we do not want the public to be misled that this will be a full reunion with all five original members. 
We love all of you, we are forever grateful for your continued support, and nothing will ever change that. 
Sal, Jer and Dan"
>> The shows will take place in New York City, Long Island, and Boston, and tickets go on-sale Friday May 20th. More information can be seen below. (See you in the pit?)

Envy On The Coast 2016 Shows:
August 16 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall (Event Page)
August 18 - Huntington, NY @ The Paramount (Event Page)
August 20 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair (Event Page)

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