Monday, December 30, 2013

The Family Breakfast: Top 10 Jam Cakes of 2013

>> 2013! We did it! Dora Style! A grip of awesome music came out this year, and it was a pretty interesting year for the holy trilogy of emo - a painful year for us My Chemical Romance fans (RIP) and a shining beacon of hope for the True Believers - you got two for the price of one with Fall Out Boy's return (and a pretty solid Panic! album to boot.)

Instead of your typical 'Top 10 Albums' for the end of the year wrap up, I wanted to make it easy on you guys and just give you the top 10 Jam Cakes that fueled The Family Breakfast. (This is essentially a playlist of songs I had on repeat all year) So sit back, relax, and enjoy these tasty jams as you contemplate your utter failures successes as a human being for this insane year of 2013.

>> Super Croc vs Mega Doosh - Reggie and the Full Effect 

Yes, we all miss MCR. This song helps you cope with those emotions - James Dewees (former keyboardist of chem) released another Reggie album this year, fueled by Kickstarter. Frank Iero, (former guitarist of chem) joins Dewees on the song with backing vocals for a real badass gut-wrencher. I had this song on repeat for straight weeks. 

>> Come a Little Closer - Cage the Elephant

 "Time flies by, they all sing along" Soft, mellow build to an epic finish. 

>> Ala Mode - Mindless Self Indulgence 

This musical gem taught us one thing and one thing only - What's gonna fix it? ICE CREAM WILL FIX IT. I want sprinkles on that shit.

>> Subway - Yeah Yeah Yeahs 
This song is awesome because it samples MTA Subway track sounds - which all New Yorkers are overly familiar with. Haunting ballad of the year award - this jam hits close to home if you've ever had a traumatic experience on the train. 

>> Rollin' (Air Raid Vehicle) - Limp Bizkit 

Because fuck you, that's why. No, but seriously, why did we all stop listening to this song?! I had this song in rotation all 2013, and it may have been the best choice I made all year. In the words of a former co-worker of mine - "Here's $5, do yourself a favor - go to Walmart, buy yourself a Limp Bizkit CD and get yourself some skill." 

>> Surrender The Night - My Chemical Romance 

The final release from the unreleased My Chemical Romance record "Conventional Weapons" before they called it quits. Considering the album itself was incomplete, this song is pretty epic. It kinda makes you want to smash some windshields at night in Warriors gear while singing passionately. Or something.

>> Peter Fonda - The Architects 

Put on your boots and get in your Trans Am for this tasty jam - break out the accompanying comic book while you're at it! "I was made for these boots if you know what I mean.." Play it LOUD.

>> Laughing Pain - Toy Soldiers 

A folksy deep cut for the end of the year from our friends Toy Soldiers. I laughed, I cried, I called the jambulance. 

>> All Time Low - Nine Inch Nails  

Trent Reznor has done it again with arguably the sexiest jam of 2013. "So give me just a little baby, just something to get by..." 

>> Casual Affair - Panic! At the Disco   

I debated between a few songs from "Too Weird To Live, To Rare To Die!" but this is the song I jammed the most. A smooth, electronic seduction from Mr. Brendon Urie makes you want to have a few secrets. 

>> Bones - MS MR  
A perfect song for the witchy theme a lot of us had going this year. Cast some spells or do a little dance (make a little love, get down tonight.)  
>> Do I Wanna Know? - Arctic Monkeys

Do I Wanna Know? swoops in last minute for jam of the year - I cannot. get. enough. of. this. song. The Monkeys of the Arctic hit the "I have a crush on you" emotion like a hammer on the head of a nail. Play this one on New Year's Eve and steal a smooch from your "are we/aren't we." It'll work, trust me. 

>> There you have it, folks. I tried to narrow it down to the top 10, but I snuck a few more in there. There were some tough choices, but these are the songs that made the final cut. These are grade A 2013 jam cakes with extra jam sauce that I was trying to eat but I choked a little and I had to call the jambulance. Enjoy responsibly. Happy New Year, breakfast eaters. 

Peace, Love and Family Breakfast. 
Yours cruelly,
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

The College Experience with Lucy B

>> Remember the good ol' days of AOL chat rooms? Depending on your age, you might also remember your parents/guardian forbidding you to go on there because with the Internet, you never really know who you're talking to.  Classic, cheesy, yet true.  But today, it seems like a great way to get to know someone is through the computer.  I stumbled upon a cool music internet radio show called New Music Inferno a few years ago when a friend's band was featured.  The show's host, JR, has a chat room running throughout his broadcast so that fans can submit questions for the artists being interviewed with a chance of them being seen instantly and actually asked.  It's a great way to get fans involved with an interview, something that can easily feel very distant.  Through submitting questions and of course shamelessly self-promoting this site, I ended up starting conversations with a girl named Lucy, username Loserfacelucy.  Turns out we had a ton in common with regards to music - we both loved writing and the music scene, and even shared a bunch of favorite bands to see live.  Lucy went on to start her own site, titled Lucy Out Loud.  In the past 3 years, Lucy has started doing interviews, features, reviews, hosting contests, and more, all with a personal touch that parallels my own.  She's really looking to expand and I have no doubt that she will.  Here's her take on doing everything while still in school.

** Lucy Out Loud is currently hosting a contest featuring cool prizes from Labyrinth Clothing.  Visit for more information! Contest ends January 3rd.

Please state your name, age, and what school you attend.
Hello! My name is Lucy, I'm 20 and I'm a Junior at Montclair State University.

When and how did you first get involved with the music scene? 
   I had always grown up around music, though up until 6th grade it was all teeny bopper or classic rock. My dad and older brother loved classic rock so it was something I always listened to, but when I had transferred to a new school for 6th grade because my previous middle school closed, I think that's when I first started listening to more of the "indie" side of the music scene. The first album I remember really being obsessed with was Fall Out Boy's "Infinity on High" which I got as a birthday gift in 8th grade, so that was around the time when My Chemical Romance and Paramore had just entered my life as well. I went to my first show at the School of Rock in a nearby town when I was 16 and saw Ace Enders, Person L, The Dangerous Summer, The Gay Blades, and School Boy Humor. My brother, who was in college at the time, had introduced me to The Early November and I was immediately hooked. Somewhere between Sophomore and Junior year of high school I began doing street teaming for record labels like Fearless Records, Photo Finish Records, and Decaydance. I thought the idea of promoting artists who deserved to be heard was almost exhilirating so I began creating official or state street teams for local bands that I had found through Myspace, Twitter, or PureVolume.
   I think it was during my senior year of high school that I really began focusing on Photo Finish Records after they signed one of my favorite bands, The Downtown Fiction. The label was looking for street teamers to help out at Bamboozle which is only a 15 minute drive from me. I had always wanted to go, but because I didn't have any money I could never persuade my parents to buy me a ticket. So getting in for free in exchange of helping out a record label and bands that I love was definitely what convinced me to contact the people at Photo Finish. I ended up working the first day of Bamboozle with them and it was so much fun to interact with other street teamers and meet these people from the record label that I had really only known about from online. I took a friend with me and we had to arrive 4 hours prior to doors opening to hang posters and hand out fliers once people were allowed in. Honestly, it was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had and I think that is what first made me want to get involved in the music scene. Somewhere around that time, Ace Enders also announced that he would be starting an internship program to help promote his newest album for I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business, so I applied and was accepted. That internship sparked a huge interest in me because it gave me a little more creative control with the projects we were assigned. It also actually introduced me to one of my best friends/current photographer and writer for my site, so I'm extremely thankful for those opportunities that really gave me the push to create my own music blog.

If you got involved at a relatively early age, was it hard having to deal with age restricted shows? 
Actually, no. I spent most of my free time in high school at the School of Rock going to shows with my friends every other weekend. It was harder to get money to pay for tickets than it was to deal with age restrictions at shows. I made a deal with my brother that I would do his laundry in exchange for tickets, but there was never enough laundry to pay for every single show. What was so great about the School of Rock, prior to it closing, was that there was never really any age restrictions. I think some shows were 16 and over, but I was 16 when I started attending shows and never really had to deal with that. Even now, as a 20 year old, I've never dealt with 21+ restricted shows because the venues around here (Mexicali Live and Starland Ballroom) that allow drinking still allow you in if you're under 21, just with no access to the alcohol. 

Now that you're in college, has that aspect gotten easier? Are things more accessible to you now? 
As I mentioned, it was never difficult for me. Things are a little more accessible now, but not in regards to agre restrictions. It was always difficult to persuade our parents to drive us to shows, so being in college gives us a little more freedom especially because most of us can drive now. The same with paying for shows. I started working when I was a freshman in college, so if I really want to go to a show I don't need to do my brother's laundry or beg my parents for money anymore because I'm earning it myself. 

Do you find that you have more or less free time generally as a college student? 
It really depends on the semester and the classes that I've taken. Last semester was a very easy one for me because it contained no term papers and not much homework either, so I had a bunch of free time on my hands when I wasn't at school or working. However, this semester has been more difficult because most classes include group projects that take up a lot of your time. As a working college student, it's even more difficult to find free time, at least for me, because I'm working to save up for a car and chip in for my school tuition at the same time. A good majority of my friends that attend school don't have a part time job which allows them to have a lot more free time on their hands. So it really depends on your situation.

What experiences have you had so far in the industry?
As I mentioned before, I got into the music industry when I was in high school. During my senior year I created a blog on tumblr to post all of my street teaming stuff on one site. I figured I should expand it and actually turn it into something I would enjoy, which turned into a full music blog. I changed the title to Lucy Out Loud and began posting tour dates, music video releases, and I even started doing interviews with local bands. It wasn't until the Ace Enders internship that I decided that I wanted to expand and make Lucy Out Loud a bigger website. A fellow intern, named Eric Riley, decided to help me out by writing show and album reviews. He then started to shoot those shows and we would post live photos on our site as well. I think it's worked out pretty well because he has officially been a part of Lucy Out Loud for about a year and a half now. We've also started working with a bunch of PR Groups which has helped us to build relationships, so my experiences in the industry is continuing to grow. It's all on a day-to-day basis because you don't know what or who you'll be introduced to next.

Being actively involved in the music industry, how often have you been tempted to skip class or put off an assignment in order to attend / play a show? How do you make the choice? 
To me, school is my first priority, but I have been tempted to skip class or put off assignments. I've definitely left class early a few times to make it to a show or waited until last minute to do an assignment, but again, school comes first so it's more of a last resort if the show is that important. 

Have you ever arranged your schedule based on music related obligations? Have you ever had to turn something down or reschedule something based on your school schedule? 
Not that I can recall....though I've definitely called out of work or had to get a shift changed in order to attend something music related. Although I love my job, sometimes you just want to go to a show and have a good time with your friends instead of being stuck at work. 

Are you often faced with tough choices when it comes to priorities and scheduling as a student who's also involved in the music industry
Again, it's more on the work side of things. I've had to reschedule my work shifts PLENTY of times in order to attend shows. And they've all been worth it.

As a blogger, do you find it hard to find a place to do interviews or acoustic sessions, or to edit videos? 
 It's definitely been difficult to find a place to do interviews. I've been crammed in small rooms with really shitty lighting, I've had to do interviews outside where there's traffic and more shitty lighting, but the worst was probably Warped tour this year. There was an incident with getting a press pass, so I arranged 2 interviews that I could do that wouldn't require passes. The first was with the lead singer of the Swellers, who is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. The date I attended was one of the hottest - probably around 100 or so degrees - and we had no where to do our interview that was shaded. We ended up doing the interview behind one of the stages in the scorching heat while a band was about to perform, but we made it work. The other interview was with Jonas Sees In Color, yet another band with some of the nicest guys, but the only place we could do our interview was at their merch tent (which thankfully was covered and in the shade). The problem, however, was that the band on the stage nearby had just started so the entire interview basically consisted of shouting at one another. It was an interesting - and fun - experience...

What is one of the biggest obstacles you've faced while trying to progress your career while still in school? Have you faced many tough obstacles like that, or has being in school helped you take those next steps? 
I think school has definitely helped me. I'm majoring in Public Relations and I try taking as many free elective music classes as possible, which are extremely fun and interesting to me. Most PR classes coincide with some things that I need to do as the owner and editor-in-chief of Lucy Out Loud, so there has definitely been some helpful courses. The biggest obstacle is finding the time to manage school, work, and maintaining the blog. Especially now that our staff is growing, it's even more difficult, but sometimes I just need to sit back and take a breather. Luckily, I work with extremely understanding and motivating people that know where I'm coming from, so it's not something that takes a major toll on me.

Since you have additional writers and interns for your site, is it hard having to manage assignments, press passes, and the like for not only yourself but for your contributors as well?
I won't lie, it's a tad difficult and overwhelming at times to manage assignments and passes for our staff while still keeping busy with work and school. One thing I've learned is that lists are my best friends, ha. For me, it's easier to make lists of albums that need to be reviewed, shows that need to be covered and interviews that need to be done so that I'm constantly on top of things. I give deadlines to my writer and interns which definitely helps us stay on track. Something else that is extremely important, and is why I think Lucy Out Loud has progressed so well, is having constant communication with my staff. If they need to ask me something, or vice versa, we're only a text or e-mail away. If one of my interns tells me that they need more time on a review, as long as they stay connected with me and keep me updated, I'm typically understanding. I don't want my staff to feel as if they are just contributing and not receiving any feedback. When one of my photographers takes an amazing shot, I'm going to be sure to tell them that because they deserve it. When one of my writers puts together a solid review, but something seems out of place or as if it is missing something I'm going to tell them so that they can change and improve it. Again, my staff is extremely understanding and it's something I'm so thankful for. Even if things are overwhelming at times, they know where I'm coming from and we really just have each others best interest in mind. 

How has being in college helped you advance your involvement in the music industry? Do you think the pros of being in both outweigh the cons? 
I always knew I wanted to go to college because I love to learn. It was more about choosing classes that I felt would benefit me and the career path that I've chosen. For the most part, I think it has helped me because I've been able to learn more about myself while also learning new techniques that will help my website go in the direction that I want it to. For me, I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons because every day is a new experience for me and as I said, I work with some of the best and most understanding people who see where I'm coming from and know that school is a top priority. I don't think I'd feel the way I do about this if I didn't have people on my team who believe in me and what I'm doing.

Do you think it's been beneficial to start your career / path in the music industry while you're still in school? 
Absolutely! Most people who I've talked to about interning and making this a real career have comended me for starting all of this when I was in high school. The earlier you can get your foot in the door and start building connections, the more you start to learn about what it is that you want to do with this career and the more you start to learn about yourself. The one thing you need to remember is that you have to pick a career that YOU want to do. When I first started applying to colleges, my parents did not want me going for PR. They threatened to not pay for college if I stuck with my major, but I knew that this was what I wanted to do, so I needed to prove it to them. And I did. Now they see and understand that this is something I'm passionate about and that there is nothing they can say or do that will change my mind otherwise.

What are your plans for after graduation?
 I have no idea honestly, ha. Everything is a day-to-day learning experience, but I know I will be doing something in the music industry. We recently hired 3 interns, promoted one of them as an official member of our staff, and are planning on hiring more interns by the new year. By next semester, I'm hoping to start interning myself and work on building more connections and really trying to figure out my next plan.
*Update: After answering these questions, Lucy has received word that she'll be interning with Big Picture Media for the 2014 spring semester.

Get Connected
 - Kate Russell
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Top 3 Highlights of 2013, According to Alyssa Dempsey

>>  2013 saw a lot in terms of bands going the extra mile for fans, and receiving sincere support in return (in most cases). With marketing techniques getting more creative and the internet continuing to decrease the fan-musician barrier, this year has shown us that there is always room to grow in an industry that is often dismissed as “dying.” Here are a few of the top highlights from 2013:
- Written by Alyssa Dempsey, Hooked On Records 

Fall Out Boy Reuniting
Whether you’re a Fall Out Boy fan or not, it’s hard to deny that their reunion was a major highlight of 2013. Only a few unconfirmed rumors preceded the announcement, and when the band did jump back onto the scene, it was with a seriously planned flourish. 2013 saw FOB release Save Rock and Roll, in addition to the less-poppy Pax Am Days. The band killed it with live gigs, performing on a number of TV shows as well as playing huge festival slots and a headlining tour. I’m even gonna go ahead and draw a parallel to Queen Bey with their tactic of springing new material suddenly on fans and making a video for every song on their new record. All in all, a well-planned return to the spotlight.
Take away: Fall Out Boy’s back and they did it right.

TWY 4 in 24
            The WonderYears made a bet this year that they could beat Hopeless label-mates All Time Low’s record of three shows in a day with four in 24 hours. And although it technically wasn’t successful, it was pretty impressive. #TWY4in24 worked as part of a promotion for the realist pop punk group’s newest full length, The Greatest Generation, which debuted in May. This mini-tour was accompanied by a Philly pop-up shop and streaming pre-release singles that crashed The 4 shows in 24 hours were remarkable not only for the novelty, but also for the fact that the whole band gave their highest amount of energy at each performance, despite what must have been a pretty grueling 24 hours. The quick-selling nature and odd timing of some of the shows, with one at 10am and another at 2am, speaks volumes for The Wonder Years’ solid fan base.

Take away: TWY is here to stay and they’re only getting bigger and better.

Brand New Full Discography Shows
            This is pretty recent for a top highlight of 2013, but it still deserves a spot. Back in November, Brand New announced full discography shows where they would play two of their four albums at each date. The shows sold out within seconds and immediately sparked frustration among the fan base due to trouble with scalpers. The drama only continued with something of an uproar at the first Long Island date when the rockers chose to play The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and Daisy. Many fans felt as though they had been ripped off in some way for not getting to hear the more popular records, Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu. This sparked anger on both sides, with disappointed attendees and fans who felt that the crowd reaction was immature, to say the least. I was lucky enough to attend the New Jersey date where they played the first two, and I’ll say it was an absolutely incredible experience. Despite the drama that seems to surround this band, we’ve been lucky enough to see a resurgence in live shows, and hopefully that continues.

Take away: People love to complain, but Brand New is still killin’ it.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

The College Experience with Emily Becker

>> College is a cool place, especially once you hit the point where you're able to take classes on things you're actually interested in.  So even though it was a 9:30am class twice a week, I was super excited to take a course called Music in Media.  It sounded cool and interesting and not like calculus, so I couldn't lose.  While in class one day, I happened to notice the girl sitting next to me doodling in her notebook. It's a pretty standard thing, but her doodles involved Fall Out Boy lyrics and they looked great.  I commented on how cool I thought they were, and one thing led to another, and that's how I befriended Emily Becker.  Through conversations in and out of class, I found out that she and I shared a lot of common interests, especially musical interests.  We ended up going to some shows together and then seeing each other at shows without realizing the other would be there too.  Now we share another thing - In addition to photography and graphic design, Emily now also runs a music blog called Gratuitous Dancing and it involves some of the most personalized and unique features I've seen.  Read on and get to know Emily.

Please state your name, age, and what school you attend / what year you're in.
     My name is Emily Becker, I’m 19 (so close to 20!) and I’m a Sophomore at NYU Steinhardt for Studio Art. 

When and how did you first get involved with the music scene?
     When I was 9, my cousin started a band (it wasn’t really a band, she rewrote Disney songs and made her friends sing them with her) and I was the weird fourth grader who would rather work behind the scenes than be in the band. I wanted to be their manager. I had a huge book of blank paper that I would use to write up contracts and design stage set ups, and I drew all these horrible girl-group costumes, it was very 2003. I was writing on this waxy paper with ball point pens and it smeared everywhere, but I was so proud of myself. 
     When I was 16, I started getting into music, listening to punk and pop punk, started realizing that what my friends at the time liked wasn’t very good, and started hanging out more with my friends in the art program. They got me into weirder music, got me considering groups like The Pixies and Velvet Underground. At that point I was pretty sure I’d be teaching high school art after college, but the more I explored music, the more I realized that I wanted to be involved in the music scene. I started writing music and blogging about it, and the summer before my senior year of high school I interned with Red Light Management. Since then I’ve reworked my blog, started looking at different parts of the industry, and taking every job I’m offered. 

If you got involved at a relatively early age, was it hard having to deal with age restricted shows?
     My age wasn’t much of an issue while I was in high school—people knew how old I was and I couldn’t drive, so I wasn’t going out late at night or working jobs intended for kids older than me.

What experiences have you had so far in the industry?
     Before my senior year I worked with Red Light Management as an intern. That was my first job in the music industry and it was great, because I got to see the business side of managing a band. The band I was working with was releasing an album during the time I was interning, so I got to really feel the frantic energy of everything coming together. That being said, I also learned that working in a cubicle is so beyond the wrong place for me. I can work on a couch, I can work on a train, I can work in the back of an art history lecture, but put me at a desk in a rolling chair and suddenly I want nothing more than to fall asleep on my keyboard. I definitely prefer the unconventional workplace.
     My first media gig was photographing Warped Tour, which was an opportunity I got thanks to my friend Andrea who does band photography, I have an interview with her on my blog, and talking to her about being a photographer in the music industry and experiencing first hand was one of the best learning experiences of my life.

Now that you're in college, has that aspect gotten easier? Are things more accessible to you now?
     It’s actually gotten harder, because people assume that I’m over 21 now, and that’s still a year and a half off. I almost got kicked out of a show I had helped organize because the venue manager hadn’t asked beforehand how old we all were and had made the show 21+. We convinced her not to make us leave, but it bruised my ego.
     One of the hardest parts is knowing that there’s no reason for me to be barred from a show—I’m straightedge, so there’s no risk of me trying to sneak drinks. The worst was missing the Panic! At The Disco release show at Sleep No More—I had been to Sleep No More before, it’s an 18+ place, but for the release show they upped it to 21+ and that was the only time in my life I wished I had a fake ID.
Do you find that you have more or less free time generally as a college student?
Art students don’t have a lot of free time to begin with—most work gets done outside of class. But since I take a lot of freelance jobs, I find my time gets parsed up a lot more than it would be otherwise. It’s also a matter of making myself dedicate free time to finding jobs and writing about music. If I decide I want to just take a week off, that’s a week that there’s no content on my blog and a week’s worth of music news I fall behind on. 

Being actively involved in the music industry, how often have you been tempted to skip class or put off an assignment in order to attend / play a show? How do you make the choice?
     I have skipped class for a show I was helping to organize—I felt bad about it, but it was the first show I had ever helped put together, and I would have regretted missing that a lot more than I’d regret missing a history lecture. 

Have you ever arranged your schedule based on music related obligations? Have you ever had to turn something down or reschedule something based on your school schedule?
    The biggest problem is having Friday classes—if I go to a show Thursday night, there’s no way I’m waking up for my 8am class across campus. I’ve started structuring my schedule with that in mind. I’ve been very lucky with scheduling so far, but I plan on working full time over the summer, so I don’t know what’s going to happen when I’m booked solid all week. 

Are you often faced with tough choices when it comes to priorities and scheduling as a student who's also involved in the music industry?
     The hardest part is trying to work out how to balance a major that rarely coincides with the industry I’m involved in. I’m in a program that demands a lot of time and credits, which means I can’t take music business oriented classes that could help me outside of school. I had something else to say about this, but Alvin and the Chipmunks are on the radio right now and it’s eating into my thought process. 

With your blog, how do you decide what content to post? How do you choose which artists or shows to cover on the site and as a photographer? Does that take up a lot of time in itself?
     I made the decision when I started my blog [Gratuitous Dancing] to review every band that followed me on twitter or tumblr. I call it “Are You Following Me?” That was just a way of forcing myself to branch out and explore types of music I otherwise might ignore. But in doing that I’ve discovered some of my new favorite bands, and I’m actually working on the street team for one of those bands now. I’m designing merch for them. I’m talking to their manager. If I wanted to really sound egotistical, I would say was a great decision that I made to do that review.
     As far as going to shows, location is huge. I live across the street from Webster Hall, which means if there’s a ten dollar show and I’m not doing anything else, I’m probably going to a gig. I feel like at this point I haven’t earned the right to be picky. I think I need to gain some experience and some credibility before I can make decisions. I take the jobs I’m offered, photograph whatever I can, and eventually I’ll be at a point where I can pick and choose. And that’s part of my blog schtick—I do a section called “Tales of a Music Biz Wannabe” that’s all about the jobs I take and what happens.

As a photographer, do you ever struggle to find space to store your equipment, especially since you're dorming? Is traveling with fragile equipment ever a struggle?
     Carrying my camera bag across campus has resulted in several bruised shoulders, but I think finding and buying the right equipment for photography is the biggest issue I have with that particular area of my work. I’m a teenager, I’m unemployed, I can’t afford the lenses I need to shoot jaw dropping indoor concert scenes.
     And a lot of people feel that artists don’t need to be paid, which is another issue. I do free work for friends in the industry, because when you’re getting your foot in the door, that’s what you do, you form a community of people that can rely on one another. But sometimes I get asked to do way more than I was ever intending to, and I’m still not getting paid, and it makes me worry for my financial stability in the future. 

In your dorming situation - Do you struggle with roommates? Do they ever complain about you taking up too much space or being too loud with your musical endeavors?
     I tend to live with musicians and artists, so we understand each other pretty well. We’re all pretty nocturnal and we tend to just drop everything to start new projects. I’m obsessively organized so if anything they struggle with me trying to clean up after them all the time.

What is one of the biggest obstacles you've faced while trying to progress your career while still in school? Have you faced many tough obstacles like that, or has being in school helped you take those next steps?
     I do a lot of graphics work, and I’m self-trained in photoshop, so figuring out exactly what I’m doing is unbelievably difficult. I have to ask a lot of questions of the people I’m working with. It eats into my confidence a little bit, because I’m constantly being reminded that I’m just a college student and I don’t have the training and experience that other people in the industry have.
But I’m finally taking digital classes within my major, and I look back at all the little issues in my art and photography and it’s unbelievable how much better I could make things now. That’s one of the benefits of still being in school while I’m working—if I don’t know what I’m doing, I can take a class, if I don’t have a piece of equipment I need, I can borrow it from the photo cage.

How has being in college helped you advance your involvement in the music industry? Do you think the pros of being in both outweigh the cons?
     I don’t have to make a decision yet about what exactly I want to do. I still have time to explore and I have the safety net of being a student. I have the chance to meet people in a safe environment, at seminars and in classes where I don’t have to impress anybody.

Do you think it's been beneficial to start your career / path in the music industry while you're still in school?
     I have so much time to learn—being in school while I’m starting a career is the way to do it.

What are your plans for after graduation?
     I want to tour manage for a while—I romanticize life on the road way too much, I can admit that, but I want to travel, and I hate airplanes, so I may as well do it by bus. I get stir crazy, so I think a few years on the road would do me good. I’d like to be the pit reporter on Warped Tour, that would be a dream come true.
     After that, work at a label, make tour posters, design merch… a few years ago, my mom bought me a huge book of tour posters, and I just look at those and get so excited for the future. Who knows, maybe I’ll start a rock band. 

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- Kate Russell
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Friday, December 13, 2013

New Feature: The College Experience

>>  A few of us here at The Music Obsession covered the CMJ Music Marathon for the first time this year.  It was amazing and insane and wonderful all at the same time.  We were surrounded by people with similar interests and pursuits, interesting panels, showcases, and more.  It was wild.  I attended some engaging panels, two of which being Journalism in the New Media World and The New Curators.  In these panels, industry professionals gave their thoughts on the changes they've seen through social media and the increasing popularity of blogs and bloggers.  There were moments in both panels that touched upon the same point or two - the digital age has made it SO easy for anyone to get involved.  In that spirit, it's important that if you have passion, you SHOULD get involved, and the sooner the better.  Some panelists stated that getting an education was important, but starting to create a foundation for your resume / career / life as soon as possible is key since there are now so many opportunities for others to do so.  In order to get involved in the music industry, you have to make a point to get yourself involved.

>> This really resonated with me.  I took it as an affirmation of my decision to take my uncle's advice and start this blog in 2008, when I was 15.  Looking back, I would have been hopeless without this outlet of mine.  I'm currently in my third year at NYU, and I couldn't be happier.  But I've always found it funny that "we" are "told" to go to college so that we can get a job, but in order to actually get a job, we need experience, and in order to gain experience, we need to get a job or an internship.  It's a weird circle that is somehow supposed to lead to happiness.  So here I am, a junior in an amazing university based in the heart of New York City, and I'm thrilled. Really, I am.  But at the same time I've been curious about what led other people to come here, or to pursue their dreams of being involved in the music industry somehow.  Initially I never expected my blog to go anywhere, but it did, and it made me realize that this is what I've always wanted.  So, for those who are aware of the pressures and competition of the schooling atmosphere, what fuels their decisions?  I'm almost constantly overwhelmed in the best ways between school work, shows, interviews, exams, setting up interviews or acoustic sessions, projects, editing videos, assigning show coverage or reviews, and the like.  It's insane!  So, based on my own struggle to keep my head above water and the particular panels I happened to attend at CMJ while I may or may not have been skipping class, it hit me - This is the new college experience.

>> I'm certainly not alone in the struggle to balance homework and getting to class on time with event coverage, interviews, reviews, internships, and more.  In the spirit of shamelessly promoting my friends and others in the same boat, this new feature was born.  The College Experience is my way of discussing the pros and cons of taking steps to have a career while still being a student, or how the desire to be involved with the music industry interfered with the pursuit of a degree.  I'll be asking a selection of folks the same basic questions, such as their school, their role in the industry, their struggles, and their goals.  I'll also ask about each person's individual projects, whether they are photographers, musicians, aspiring publicists, writers, promoters, and the like. I think it'll be interesting to see how each of us deals with the difficulties of balancing  and prioritizing the various obstacles we face as students with big ambitions.

>> Before I start posting the interviews, I want to kick this off by showing a college experience that Sheila and I had this week - finals week.  It was more brutal than we had expected, and one paper in particular was causing us anguish.  Sheila should be a professional playlist / mixtape creator, and proof of that is the finals playlist she put together for us to power through that troublesome paper.  It started out as an hour and a half in length, but it gradually expanded to the glorious 44 track list that is is now.  The last three tracks are key: "We Did It" from Dora the Explorer, "In The End" by Linkin Park, and "Nookie" by Limp Bizkit.  In essence, once we finished our papers, we got to celebrate with the following: We did it! And in the end, we did it all for the nookie.  The playlist seems strange, containing songs from High School Musical, Nickelback, and Backstreet Boys among others, but it got us through the paper better than anything else could have.  So, here's to the power of music.  
Here's to the college experience.

- Kate Russell
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Music Video: "Cold Water" by TATI ANA

>> Cold water is a shockingly powerful thing.  It has the ability to take your breath away, give you chills down your spine, or both at the same time.  Take that one step further as you watch the brand new music video from sultry singer/songwriter TATI ANA.  This Moscow native has a deep, strong voice that will warm you up, even when she sings of cold.  The song "Cold Water" is full of personal themes that will draw you in with its almost hypnotic feel.  The video does something even cooler with the use of hands in the place of waves, further portraying the feeling of something you just can't shake. It reflects the feeling of something unexpected washing over you and leaving you with a deep sense of cold and loss that you can't escape.  The song itself has a dark and sinister tone, and the chorus exudes raw power.  This track and video are not to be missed, especially if you're looking for music with substance.  Watch TATI ANA's video for "Cold Water" below.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Wonder Years Announce The Greatest Generation World Tour

>> Fans of The Wonder Years across the world rejoice - The Greatest Generation World Tour is coming!  In celebration of the band's most recent album, The Greatest Generation, The Wonder Years will spend much of March, April, and May on tour with some great supporting acts throughout North America and Europe.  


>> The band's North American leg of the tour will run from March 5th through April 17th and will feature support from Defeater, Citizen, Real Friends, and Modern Baseball.  Tickets for these dates can be found here, and the list of dates can be seen below.

North American Tour Dates:
3/5/14 - Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park, NY *
3/6/14 - Chameleon Club - Lancaster, PA *
3/8/14 - Agora Ballroom - Cleveland, OH
3/9/14 - The Crofoot Ballroom - Pontiac, MI
3/11/14 - House of Blues - Chicago, IL
3/12/14 - The Garage - Burnsville, MN
3/14/14 - Gio’s - Moorhead, MN
3/16/14 - The Den - Calgary, AB
3/17/14 - The Starlite Room - Edmonton, AB
3/19/14 - El Corazon - Seattle, WA
3/20/14 - Hawthorne Theatre - Portland, OR
3/22/14 - Oakland Metro - Oakland, CA
3/23/14 - House of Blues - West Hollywood, CA
3/24/14 - House of Blues - Anaheim, CA
3/25/14 - Soma - San Diego, CA
3/26/14 - Nile Theater - Mesa, AZ
3/28/14 - Summit Music Hall - Denver, CO
3/29/14 - Diamond Ballroom - Oklahoma City, OK
3/30/14 - The Door - Dallas, TX
3/31/14 - White Rabbit - San Antonio, TX
4/1/14 - Warehouse Live - Houston, TX
4/2/14 - House of Blues - New Orleans, LA
4/4/14 - The Orpheum - Tampa, FL
4/5/14 - Roc Bar - Jacksonville, FL
4/6/14 - Culture Room - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
4/7/14 - The Beacham - Orlando, FL
4/9/14 - The Masquerade - Atlanta, GA
4/10/14 - Greene Street Club- Greensboro, NC
4/11/14 - The Norva - Norfolk, VA
4/12/14 - Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA
4/13/14 - Sound Stage - Baltimore, MD
4/15/14 - The Palladium - Worcester, MA
4/16/14 - Phoenix Concert Theatre - Toronto, ON
4/17/14 - Best Buy Theater - New York, NY
* No Real Friends

>> The European leg of the tour will run from April 30th through May 17th and will feature support from two great pop-punk acts, A Loss For Words and State Champs.  The full list of European dates for The Greatest Generation World Tour can be seen below, and tickets for these dates can be found here.

European Tour Dates:
Apr 30- Loudfest at Komplex - Zurich, Switzerland *
May 2 - Groezrock - Meerhout, Belgium *
May 4 - Kulturladen - Konstanz, Germany * w/ Bayside
May 6 - Solus 2 - Cardiff, Wales
May 7 - Institute - Birmingham, UK
May 8 - Scala - London, UK
May 9 - Corporation - Sheffield, UK
May 10 - QMU - Glasgow, Scotland
May 11 - Fibber Magees - Dublin, Ireland
May 13 - Academy - Liverpool, UK
May 14 - Rescue Rooms - Nottingham, UK
May 15 - The Haunt - Brighton, UK
May 16 - De Helling - Utrecht, Netherlands
May 17 - Dynamo - Eindhoven, Netherlands
*No AL4W or State Champs

- Kate Russell
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Into It. Over It. Announce Tour with The World Is A Beautiful Place, A Great Big Pile of Leaves

>> This should be called the "Cool Bands with Lengthy Names" tour, but the point is that Into It. Over It. announced details for their Winter 2014 run.  The band will hit the road with The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die (TWIABP) and A Great Big Pile of Leaves (AGBPOL).  The tour will kick off on January 23rd and will run across the US through March 1st.  These acts all put on wonderful shows, so being able to see them all in one place is an excellent opportunity for fans.  Check out the dates below, and click here to get tickets.

Winter 2014 Tour Dates:
  • 1/23/2014 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
  • 1/24/2014 - Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall
  • 1/25/2014 - Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater 
  • 1/26/2014 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The Shred Shed
  • 1/28/2014 - Seattle, WA @ The Vera Project 
  • 1/29/2014 - Portland, OR @ Branx
  • 1/30/2014 - San Francisco @ Bottom Of The Hill
  • 1/31/2014 - Ventura, CA @ Ventura Theatre Upper Deck
  • 2/1/2014 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
  • 2/3/2014 - San Diego @ Che Cafe
  • 2/4/2014 - Scottsdale, AZ @ Pub Rock 
  • 2/6/2014 - Austin, TX @ Red 7
  • 2/7/2014 - Dallas, TX @ Sons of Hermann Hall
  • 2/8/2014 - Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s 
  • 2/9/2014 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
  • 2/11/2014 - Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn 
  • 2/12/2014 - Gainesville, FL @ High Dive 
  • 2/13/2014 - Pembroke Pines, FL @ The Talent Farm
  • 2/14/2014 - Orlando, FL @ Backbooth 
  • 2/15/2014 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 
  • 2/16/2014 - Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
  • 2/18/2014 - Washington, DC @ DC9
  • 2/19/2014 - Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes 
  • 2/20/2014 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair 
  • 2/21/2014 - New York, NY @ The Bowery Ballroom
  • 2/22/2014 - Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer 
  • 2/23/2014 - New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place
  • 2/25/2014 - Buffalo, NY @ The Waiting Room
  • 2/26/2014 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
  • 2/27/2014 - Columbus, OH @ The Basement 
  • 2/28/2014 - Detroit, MI @ Pike Room @ The Crofoot 
  • 3/1/2014 - Chicago, IL @ The Bottom Lounge

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- Kate Russell

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Friday Finds: 12/6/13

>> Throughout the week, we at The Music Obsession get pitches for several excellent artists.  Due to prior commitments (work, school, the need for at least a little sleep every once in a while), it's hard to write about all of the music that comes our way.  Whether it's an up and coming act or a veteran in the scene who's putting out something new, we get it all, and we listen to as much as we can.  So for this Friday Finds feature, we will be highlighting some tracks we've come across during the week that we haven't been able to write about in full.  Expect new songs and the occasional "oh man remember THIS song? I totally just remembered this existed!"

> W.C. Lindsay - "Hard Youth, Hardly You" and Tree EP
In the mood for something dancey, punk, rock, electronic, smooth, and addictive all at once?  W.C. Lindsay's single "Hard Youth, Hardly You" is the track you need.  It finishes in a completely different style than where it started, and it'll have you singing "woaaahh wOOoaaAaahh" throughout the day (but in a good way, I promise).  It's also the title track of a great EP, available for "name your own price" on BandCamp.  In addition to that, W.C. Lindsay also has a new EP, titled Tree, available for a free download on that same page. The opening track on that, "Into The Night," will also have you singing along for who knows how long.  While remaining individual and distinct from one another, each of W.C. Lindsay's tracks have a certain warmth about them that is bound to make virtually any listener smile.  There are acoustic versions of tracks that have a completely different sound than the original recordings, but still radiate a feeling that is entirely W.C. Lindsay, and that's why these songs are more than worth looking into.  There are electro pop tracks as well as smooth soft jams, and plenty of "la la la's" to suit your fancy.  This self-proclaimed dance-punk act is more than worth a listen.


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- Kate Russell

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gerard Way Reveals Artwork for My Chemical Romance Greatest Hits Album

>> Last month, Gerard Way confirmed that Warner Brothers would be releasing a My Chemical Romance Greatest Hits compilation, likely in January 2014.  Now he has revealed what looks like the artwork for that album, which can be seen below. 

>> In need of some new music to listen to before reliving MCR's greatest hits?  Frank Iero has a new project that's more than worth checking out.  Death Spells is the brainchild of Frank and James Dewees of Reggie and the Full Effect.  You can listen to one of their songs below.  Look into those two acts (both Death Spells and Reggie) if you haven't already, and stay tuned for more information on the MCR Greatest Hits album!

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- Kate Russell

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Monday, November 25, 2013

James Franco and Seth Rogen Parody Kanye's "Bound 2" Video

>> Having (finally) just watched that movie This Is The End, I was in need of some more hilarity, preferably the kind that features James Franco and Seth Rogen.  Today, that need was fulfilled.

>> In case you missed it, Kanye West recently premiered his new music video for his song "Bound 2" on the Ellen Degeneres show of all places.  The video features some majestic horses, stunning views of nature, and Kanye riding a motorcycle while his soon-to-be wife, Kim, lays there naked.  Deep stuff, you guys.  So, if somehow you haven't seen this masterpiece yet, do yourself a favor and see this first.

Kanye West - Bound 2 video 

>> Earlier today, a new version of this video surfaced.  Apparently, James Franco and Seth Rogen took it upon themselves to create a shot-by-shot remake of the new Kanye video which they call "Bound 3." If you liked This Is The End or, perhaps, any parody of someone who thinks very well of himself, this completely and absolutely serious video is for you.  You can view the parody video by itself here.

Seth Rogen and James Franco - Bound 3 (a parody)

>> Are you ready for this? Now that you've had your chuckles, let's take this a step further - YouTube user Ahnmin put the two videos together, side by side.  This is cinematic perfection*.  So, if you're ready to laugh, or roll your eyes, or react somehow because you're human, watch the split screen action below.

* - blatant exaggeration (sorry not sorry)

I hope you laughed.

- Kate Russell

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I Call Fives Announce Northeast Shows for 2014

>> I Call Fives will be hitting the road for the first time in months to play a string of shows with We Still Dream and The Composure.  This weekend tour will take place from February 15th - February 17th in three cities in the Northeast.  The list of dates can be seen below.

I Call Fives 2014 Tour Dates:
February 15@ The Loft - Poughkeepsie, NY    (Tickets)
February 16 @ Amityville Music Hall - Amityville, NY     (Tickets)
February 17 @ The Barbary - Philadelphia, PA     (Tickets)

>> The band will also be heading to Australia in 2014 for the Soundwave Festival. In the mean time, listen to "Someone That's Not You" by I Call Fives below!

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- Kate Russell
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Finds - 11/22/13

>> Throughout the week, we at The Music Obsession get pitches for several excellent artists.  Due to prior commitments (work, school, the need for at least a little sleep every once in a while), it's hard to write about all of the music that comes our way.  Whether it's an up and coming act or a veteran in the scene who's putting out something new, we get it all, and we listen to as much as we can.  So for this Friday Finds feature, we will be highlighting some tracks we've come across during the week that we haven't been able to write about in full.  Expect new songs and the occasional "oh man remember THIS song? I totally just remembered this existed!"

> Decorator - "Mad Cali Transit" & "Roads"
The new alternative / indie rock act Decorator caught my attention recently.  Their debut single, "Mad Cali Transit," comprises the best parts of groove rock, indie pop, and California sunshine.  It's catchy in a way that makes you sway and picture a beach, whether or not it's freezing outside.  It's smooth and just the right amount of hip, a winning combination you don't find just anywhere these days.  Take a break from your pre-winter blues and enjoy a nice warm track from five boys from the golden state.  Listen to "Mad Cali Transit" below, and scope the band's forthcoming single "Roads" below that.

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- Kate Russell
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: Border Wars Vol. 1 - The Architects

>> Good morning, sports fans! Today we speak of something magical. Do you like flipping awesome jams? Of course you do. Do you like comics? Don't toy with me. You're a cool kid, of course you do. As a music lover and a comic book fan have you ever asked yourself "is there some way I can have it all?" 

>> Enter the Architects - the badass band from Kansas City who are here to make your wildest dreams come true. The band is releasing their new album Border Wars as five separate EPs alongside five comic books written by the bands singer, Brandon Phillips and illustrated by Mallory Dorn. The story takes place on the gritty border of Texas and Mexico and so far follows the lives of a death row inmate, a corrupt sherif, a mysterious girl who is hit by a car and the son of a televangelist. This cast of characters will prove to be something extremely unexpected, to be sure. [I can't wait to find out!] 

>> I was able to speak to the man, the myth, the legend Brandon Phillips regarding the comic and the first EP. Brandon is a huge fan of The Who's Quadrophenia, which was The Who's album and movie salute to the lives of their fans. Quadrophenia definitely influences the writing of the five volumes. Brandon said that they wanted to make their own Quadrophenia, but not borrow too much from it. Border Wars is ultimately about the fans. It's about their lives, and the things they do. "Let's make this about the sort of kids that come to our shows, who like our band," says Phillips.  It's about taking ordinary jobs and making them extraordinary. In my humble opinion, Brandon is on his way to becoming the Tyler Durden of the modern concept album. 

Some comics that inspired Brandon were Hack/Slash, Sin City and he hopes to reference television shows like AMC's Breaking Bad. He decided to work with Mallory through their mutual love of noir and Sin City. Brandon wanted Mallory to draw the comic her own way, "her own version of cinematic." Mallory and Brandon hit it off instantaneously, "she had a fire in her guts to do something like this" says Brandon. After preliminary character sketches, the style was set and the comic came to life.
From Border Wars vol. 1

>>Brandon wrote the whole story for all five episodes. The band wrote more than enough songs to populate all five episodes, but left the door open to continue recording. The six song EP starts with a song that should be blasted out of your Trans-Am, ripping through the desert after you've "Heisenberged" your way out of a sticky situation, and maybe you're on the run from the cops. With sunglasses on. "Peter Fonda is sort of about some of the characters, and a person who is drawn to danger. A self endangering lifestyle. It's a theme song for Bill, for Angel, [characters in Border Wars] that sort of person."

>> However, you'll still understand the songs without reading the book. The first EP is an amazing stand-alone for gritty adventures under the hot sun. If comics aren't really your thing, not to worry, folks. The songs all speak for themselves. "My mom wouldn't go out and buy a comic book, but she'll listen to the radio...we just tried to write songs that my mom would like," jokes Philips. 

>> While one might find the first volume incredibly mysterious, it was meant to be that way. Brandon wrote the ending that he wanted to read and worked backwards from there. Readers can expect big, cool reveals - a la the end of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction

>> Check this out if you're a fan of Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC or The Ramones. This series is an incredibly refreshing way to enjoy music and a new medium of art that maybe you haven't tried before. I can't stop listening to the EP, and I'm sure you won't be able to stop once you've hit play. Be sure to pick up Border Wars vol. 1 from the band's merch store and hopefully we'll be seeing the comic book on the shelves of our favorite comic shops soon. Catch the Architects blow down the doors and kick out the jams on tour through November - and get your boots on, folks. "It's gonna be a heartbreaker." In other words, it's not to be missed. 

Peace, Love and Family Breakfast, 

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