Monday, December 22, 2014

Alyssa's Top 3 Music Videos of 2014

>> The end of the year is rapidly approaching which makes it the perfect time for reflections! Here, contributor Alyssa Dempsey lists her three favorite music videos of 2014. After watching these gems, be sure to tell us about the videos that you couldn't stop watching, and the videos you never want to watch again.  

>> Cheers to you, 2014. It's been real.

1. I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” - The Menzingers

I’m a sucker for videos with story lines, and The Menzingers do a great job of remaking a horror classic into a pretty cheesy but adorable short story. Complete with cutesy motivational posters and textbook self esteem techniques, this video works thanks to the fun details. And can I just say, I felt a real emotional connection to our serial killer protagonist? What a guy.

*I almost picked Sia’s “Chandelier" for this spot, because that video is prime, but I ultimately I like The Menzingers better and not every band has Dance Mom prodigies at their disposal, so.

2. Mabu” - PUP

PUP’s self-titled album is one of my tops this year as well, so it’s only fitting that their music video do this song justice. The video is a weirdly endearing send-off to an old car which the band tastefully remodels and enters into a demolition derby. It manages to be simultaneously sweet, funny, and rock punk. Also there’s a chameleon! RIP Mabu, you went out in a blaze of glory.

3. Blank Space” - Taylor Swift

I was never a Taylor Swift fan, and in fact I was pretty actively an anti-fan until this new album came out. It’s not even so much the album as this video which I’ve watched hands down more times than any other music video... ever. Tay-Tay does crazy girl beautiful like nobody’s business, and each scene is a poster I want hung up on my wall. The guy in the cape walking great danes! T-sweezy’s bloody cake stabbing! And when she stands on the horse towards the end! Ugh! This video is so good it makes me mad.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Iggy Azalea Announces The Great Escape Tour with Nick Jonas

UPDATE AS OF 3/11/10: This tour has been rescheduled for Fall 2015 and will no longer feature Nick Jonas and Tinashe. 

>> Starting in April 2015, Iggy Azalea will be hitting the road on The Great Escape Tour.  Nick Jonas, Tinashe, and DJ Wizz Kidd will all be along for the ride, which runs from April 14th through May 24th. Pre-sale tickets are available starting Wednesday 12/18, and regular tickets go on sale 12/19.  The dates for this tour can be seen below.

The Great Escape Tour Dates:
04/14 - Fresno, CA @ Save Mart Center
04/16 - Sacramento, CA @ Sleep Train Arena
04/17 - Oakland, CA @ The Oracle Arena
04/19 - Glendale, AZ @ Gila River Arena
04/21 - Los Angeles, CA @ Staples Center
04/23 - San Diego, CA @ Valley View Casino Center
04/25 - Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Grand Garden Arena
04/27 - Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center
04/30 - Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center
05/01 - Rosemont, IL @ Allstate Arena
05/02 - Auburn Hills, MI @ The Palace of Auburn Hills
05/03 - Toronto, Ontario @ Air Canada Centre
05/06 - Boston, MA @ TD Garden
05/07 - Brooklyn, NY @ Barclays Center
05/08 - Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center
05/10 - Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
05/12 - Washington, DC @ Verizon Center
05/13 - Baltimore, MD @ Royal Farms Arena
05/15 - Orlando, FL @ Amway Center
05/16 - Miami, FL @ AmericanAirlines Arena
05/19 - Atlanta, GA @ Philips Arena
05/22 - Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center
05/23 - Houston, TX @ Toyota Center
05/24 - Austin, TX @ Frank Erwin Center

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Us The Duo Nails This Medley of 2014's Hits

>> Us The Duo, made up of Michael and Carissa Alvarado, are masters of cover songs.  Much like their Vine cover compilation videos, the duo released a video where they tackle some of 2014's biggest hits in just under 3 minutes. Watch the video below, and let us know which song snippet was your favorite!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nicki Minaj: Why Society’s Metaphorical Anaconda Wants Some, Hun

>> On Wednesday December 3rd, there was a last minute private event at Up & Down in NYC. The event was a listening party for Nicki Minaj’s upcoming album The Pinkprint, and various circumstances led me to be the one working the door. The guest list was limited but full of impressive names, and there were few to no problems with guests being turned away. There was one problem though – doors for the event opened at 8:30pm, and Miss Minaj was nowhere to be found. The bar inside kept guests occupied while I stood outside in the cold with some security guards, and at 10pm, Nicki finally arrived. I smiled at her as she walked by, and I’m not sure if it was the cold air or her refusal to acknowledge the help, but she looked right through me. It would have bothered me if the next exchange didn’t happen. She walked in, looked around, and immediately scoffed “There ain’t no food here?” before sending her manager running to the 24-hour pizza place down the block. She may be a diva, but she knows what she wants and she’s honest about it. She really won’t miss meals (See “Anaconda” lyrics). Finally, someone I can respect.

>> Nicki Minaj released her debut studio album, titled Pink Friday, in late 2010 and her name hasn’t left society’s collective mouth for very long since. Minaj has done a myriad of things over the years to keep it that way. This includes performing at the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in one of her many brightly colored wig and outfit combinations, a performance that brilliantly showed off her affinity for both music and style. She has also launched an exclusive clothing line with K-Mart, a perfume whose bottle is in the shape of Nicki herself (below), her own brand of Moscato (MYX Fusions), and has therefore become an entrepreneur in her own right. She’s been on talk shows, late night TV as an interviewee and a performer, and she’s had a song featured on one of those Fearless Records “Punk Goes Pop” compilations – the fourth volume to be precise. Between all of this and that hilarious song “The Creep” with The Lonely Island (for which there is a video, and a great one at that) – it seems like Nicki has virtually done it all. This is something she addresses in her hit “Moment 4 Life:” “We done did everything they could think of / Greatness is what we on the brink of.”

>> Having just turned 32 a few days ago, it’s clear that Nicki has been gaining success as she gains life experience. But what makes her different from any other pop star? Others have seen similar levels of success, but what is it about Nicki Minaj that lets her stick around instead of fading out as another one hit wonder? Having the support of Young Money / Cash Money certainly doesn’t hurt, but there's more to it than that. I chalk her success up to strategy and branding. When she first started getting some attention musically, it was more than just the songs that made people stop and listen. First, female rappers exist but generally aren’t as popular as their male counterparts. Seeing someone like Nicki making music with and on the same level as artists like Drake and Lil Wayne automatically sets her apart from her peers. She even declares herself “the female Weezy” at the end of her single “Stupid Hoe."  The second way she stands out is through her presentation. Nicki has various characters that she uses in her songs, in guest spots on other artists’s songs, and in her videos. There’s a character with a cockney British accent and another that is essentially a living Barbie Doll. These wild characters plus her loud and unique style automatically make her an artist to keep an eye on, even just based on the curiosity over what she could do next.

>> When debuting her new album at that listening party at Up & Down, Nicki Minaj chose which songs she wanted to play for those in attendance. She skipped the already well-known singles and focused on the tracks that she thought were more content-heavy. When it came to “Only,” she purposefully chose a clean edit of the track to play and after a few seconds, she grabbed the mic and rapped in the expletives before moving on to songs we hadn’t heard yet. Seeing how much each song meant to her and seeing her not be able to resist singing along to her own music really stuck with me. The same thing goes for her demanding food upon her arrival. It was a dramatic moment, but it gave me an appreciation for that line in “Anaconda” because even though it sounds silly, it’s a fact. She isn’t missing meals, whether or not she’s already running late for her own event. Jokingly or seriously, Nicki raps about her reality, and it’s something worth acknowledging. We see her beautifully tackle the most personal of topics like love and loss on The Pinkprint, and hopefully fans will get to see a different side of this versatile artist as a result.

>> Sure, she’s a diva. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to ask for – no, to demand it – and there’s something significant in that. Her lyrics, videos, and persona(s) exude confidence, and it’s a confidence that demands respect. Nicki Minaj is an artist, whether or not tracks like the ‘in your face’ “Anaconda” are interpreted as art or click bait. The beauty in Nicki’s strategy is that hooking people in with a song and video combination like “Anaconda” gets them invested for when her deeper and more genuine songs like “All Things Go” and “Bed of Lies” come out. After hearing her forthcoming album, it’s more than obvious that there’s more in her songs than the fact that she has a great ass (although that’s still fairly crucial). She raps and sings about losing loved ones, the struggles she’s endured on the road to success, and other very personal matters. There are still dance songs and tracks that demand an “oh snap!” from the listener, but The Pinkprint is much more than that. As an artist, Nicki is much more than that. Mega pop hits like like “Starships” and “Super Bass,” seemingly created just for the sake of having hits, were just the building blocks of the Minaj Empire. The Pinkprint is Minaj’s throne.
Long may she reign.

- Kate Russell

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Friday, December 5, 2014

The College Experience with Ashley Kervabon

>> Hello, all! We haven't shared a story recently, and I want to get back in the swing of things. In case you're new to the feature, here's a brief explanation of what I'm after:  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 could interfere with the pursuit of a degree.  I'll be asking a selection of folks the same basic questions regarding 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.

>> Today we're highlighting Ashley Kervabon, a recent college grad who is looking to find a job in the industry while actively pursuing a career as a musician.  Before graduating, Ashley held internships with the likes of Atlantic Records and MTV, and now she's focusing on making her music the best it can be and getting it out there. Read about her experience of making contacts, exploring different areas, and ultimately deciding to focus on what she loves most below.

Please state your name, age, what school you attended, your major, and what year you graduated.
​Ashley Kervabon, 22, Hunter College Graduate 2014, Major: Media, Minor: Spanish ​

When and how did you first get involved with the music scene?
I first became involved with music when I was ten years old and started taking piano lessons. From then on I picked up the bass guitar and most recently singing and songwriting. As far as the scene goes, I started going to shows when I was 17.

​ If you got involved at a relatively early age, were age restricted shows ever a problem?
​Age restricted ​shows were definitely an issue and unfortunately still are. I have a lot of underage friends who aren't allowed to go to my shows. It's a shame that venues are so worried about selling drinks and making money rather than spreading music with a large crowd.

Now that you're out of college, has that aspect gotten easier? Are things more accessible to you now?
​In terms of age restriction, things are definitely easier for me. However I wouldn't say it has all gotten easier. Some shows cost money and though I am completely for paying cover charges in support of the band who is playing, sometimes a drink minimum makes the outing a little out of budget for a recent college grad/musician. ​

Do you find that you have more or less free time generally now that you’ve graduated?
​Now that I am working nights at a restaurant it is a bit harder to attend shows and when I am not working I am rehearsing with my own band so my free time is very limited and varies upon the week. 

What experiences have you had so far in the industry?
​I've had several internships during college in the music industry which were all a blast and I would say they were probably the best thing about my college years. After college I've just been trying to make new connections and keep in touch with the ones that I already have.

What did you get out of each of those experiences?
​Contacts are definitely a huge plus. I think everyone's success story starts with someone that already know believing in them. ​

Are there any companies in the industry that you particularly admire? Whether they’re companies you’ve worked with or just companies you follow, what appeals to you about them?
​I don't want to pinpoint companies but I will say this, anyone working in the music industry is amazing in my book. It's an industry that is always changing and never rests. I admire anyone who can keep up with that. ​

Being actively involved in the music industry, how often were you tempted to skip class or put off an assignment in order to attend / play a show? Or, how often have you put off real life responsibilities in favor of musical pursuits? How do you make the choice?
​Being honest, I've always put my music career (as an artist) first. Physically I would be in class but my mind was always elsewhere. There are lots of good lyrics in the back of my old psychology notebooks. Making the choice was always easy for me because I'm confident of my music career but I can see how some people would be conflicted. ​

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?
​I don't think I've ever had to reschedule. I would always work around it and again, if I had to pick one I would pick playing a show. ​

Were you often faced with tough choices when it comes to priorities and scheduling as a student also involved in the music industry?
​It was annoying to have to go to class in the midst of writing a song but other than that I could work around it.

Did you struggle with roommates? Did not having enough space ever get in the way?
​I never dormed but even having bandmates in different boroughs makes things sometimes complicated. Living in such a big city (with small apartments) has it's pros and cons. The good thing is that there are plenty of decently priced rehearsal studios that make life a lot easier.

​What was one of the biggest obstacles you've faced while trying to progress your career while still in school? Did you face many tough obstacles like that, or did being in school help you take those next steps?
​I think being in school gave me enough time to figure out in what direction to go in.. ​

Which direction is that, the direction of focusing on your music?
I think that school gave me time to figure out what I didn't want and what I did want in regards to my future. I know that I want to be in the music business, ideally as a songwriter and performer. Though my PR internships were fun and I learned a lot, that's just not my main focus right now.

Ideally, what would you like to do next with your music?
As for what's next, just playing a lot of shows in and out of NYC as well as recording a demo with my band Queen of Wands.
How did being in college help you advance your involvement in the music industry? Do you think the pros of being in both simultaneously outweigh the cons?
​If i truly wanted to go into the business aspect of music I think I say that yes school helped me a bunch but as a musician I sometimes wish I had used that time to take more music oriented classes (voice lessons, etc.). ​

Do you think it's been beneficial to start your career in the music industry while you're still in school?
​I think if you know what you want definitely start ASAP. It won't always be easy but it's definitely worth it.

​What have you been up to since graduation?
​I've been going on interviews here and there for assistant positions in the music business but have mostly been focusing on writing new material for my solo career and most recently performing with my new band Queen of Wands. ​

What would you say to someone debating how to pursue a career in the industry while still in school? What advice would you give to a younger you?
​I would say just go for it! People talk a lot of shit about the music business but if it's what you really want, once you get involved it'll be so rewarding! ​


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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DJ Earworm Releases 2014 'United State of Pop' Mash-Up

>> Since 2007, DJ Earworm has taken some of the biggest pop songs of the year and combined them into annual energetic and thematic mash-ups.  This year's theme is "Do What You Wanna Do" and features songs from Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, Iggy Azalea, Pharell, Jessie J, John Legend, and more.  DJ Earworm recently spoke with Billboard about the difficulties and differences in creating this year's mash-up. All challenges aside, he was able to come up with a track that will leave listeners with a positive feeling. You can read his interview here, and you can watch the video for the 2014 United State of Pop Mash-Up below.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Iggy Azalea Releases Lyric Video for "Beg For It"

>> Iggy Azalea recently released a lyric video for her new song "Beg For It."  The song comes from the rapper's Reclassified album which features hits like "Black Widow," "Change Your Life," and more. Watch the lyric video below.

>> Iggy recently performed "Beg For It" and her smash "Fancy" at the 2014 American Music Awards.  You can see a video of that performance with Charli XCX below.

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New Music Video: "The Ocean" by Manchester Orchestra

>> Manchester Orchestra have released a music video for "The Ocean." The song comes from the band's latest album HOPE, a revised and stripped down reworking of their COPE album which was released earlier this year.  The music video premiered on Conan O'Brian's teamcoco website and features black and white footage of William Trubridge, a world record holding deep sea diver. Watch the video below, or at

>> You can catch Manchester Orchestra on the remainder of their HOPE tour through the month of December. Dates and locations listed below:

12/3 - Irish American Heritage Center - Chicago, IL
12/5 - Patriot Center - Fairfax, VA
12/6 - Temple Performing Arts Center - Philadelphia, PA
12/7 - Center Church On The Green - New Haven, CT
12/8 - Arts At The Armory - Somerville, MA
12/9 - The Bell House - Brooklyn NY
12/11 - Memminger Auditorium - Charleston, SC
12/12 - Hayti Heritage Center - Durham, NC
12/13 - Volcano Room at Cumberland Caverns - McMinnville, TN

- Mitchell Allen

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Music Video: "Hate To See Your Heart Break" by Paramore feat. Joy Williams

>> Paramore released a new black and white video for "Hate To See Your Heart Break" featuring Joy Williams (formerly of The Civil Wars).  The video shows both Williams, the unrelated Hayley and Joy, recording and having fun in the studio.  The song is from Paramore's Self-Titled Deluxe album, and the video can be seen below.

>> The Paramore Deluxe Edition is out now! The deluxe features this duet as well as bonus tracks, live recordings, and more.  You can get it on iTunes or stream it through Rdio.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Beyonce Releases Video for "7/11"

>> Once again, Beyonce released something new and no one saw it coming.  Bey just put out a DIY-looking video for her new song "7/11" that features her and some friends dancing around   The Beyonce Platinum Edition is full of new live videos and some new songs, including "7/11."  You can watch the video for "7/11" below.  

>> The Beyonce: Platinum Edition is available now through iTunes, Amazon, and more.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Night Riots to Release 'Howl' EP in Early 2015

>> The California based rockers in Night Riots are releasing their Howl EP on January 20th, 2015 through Sumerian Records. You can get a taste for the EP through the band's video for "Contagious" below.

>> The artwork and track listing for Howl can be seen below. Also be sure to watch the band's vignette for "Oh My Heart," the opening track on the upcoming EP.

Howl EP Track Listing:
1. Oh My Heart
2. Contagious
3. Holsters
4. Break
5. Shine
6. Follow You

- Kate Russell
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Patent Pending Announce Holiday Shows

>> Patent Pending will play a string of shows next month to celebrate the holidays! The Long Island show, taking place on the day after Christmas, is a co-headliner with Andrew WK.  The full list of dates for the band's Holiday Tour can be seen below.

>> Make sure to check out the video for "Hey Mario" by Patent Pending's video game inspired alter-ego, Mario and the Brick Breakers. Then download the goofy EP that goes along with it!

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Taking Back Sunday Announce Tour with The Menzingers letlive.

>> Taking Back Sunday announced details for their first tour in 2015! The band are hitting the road to support their latest album, Happiness Is, from February to April with The Menzingers and letlive. The dates for this run can be seen below the announcement video.

2015 Happiness Is Tour Dates:
2/18 - New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre
2/19 - Houston, TX @ House of Blues
2/20 - Austin, TX @ Emo's
2/21 - Dallas, TX @ South Side Ballroom
2/22 - El Paso, TX @ Tricky Falls
2/24 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
2/25 - Riverside, CA @ Riverside Municipal Auditorium
2/26 - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
2/27 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
2/28 - Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
3/01 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield Theatre
3/03 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
3/04 - Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
3/06 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
3/08 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
3/10 - Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
3/11 - Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore
3/13 - Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
3/14 - Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
3/15 - Albany, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
3/16 - Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
3/18 - New York, NY @ Best Buy Theater
3/21 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
3/24 - Huntington, NY @ The Paramount
3/26 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues
3/27 - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
3/28 - Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
3/29 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
4/01 - Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
4/02 - Tampa, FL @ The Ritz Ybor
4/03 - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues
4/04 - Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution Live

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Motion City Soundtrack Announce 'Commit This To Memory' 10 Year Anniversary Tour

>> Motion City Soundtrack will be heading out on the Commit This To Memory 10 Year Anniversary Tour early next year. The band will play their album Commit This To Memory in its entirety every night, and the tour will span the US from January 17th to February 26th. There's a long list of openers for various dates of the tour including Hit The Lights, Vinnie Caruana, TEAM*, and more. Tickets go on sale this Friday, 11/14, at 10AM local time. The full list of dates and openers can be seen below a Fight Club-themed tour announcement video from the band.

The Noise Presents Motion City Soundtrack Commit This to Memory 10 Year Anniversary Tour:
1/17/2015 - Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
1/18/2015 - Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection ¢
1/19/2015 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall ¢
1/21/2015 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s $
1/22/2015 - Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues $
1/23/2015 - Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall $
1/24/2015 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls ¢
1/26/2015 - Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore %
1/27/2015 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza %
1/29/2015 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory ^
1/30/2015 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club %
1/31/2015 - Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom ^
2/02/2015 - Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore &
2/03/2015 - Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade (Heaven) &
2/04/2015 - Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom +
2/06/2015 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom +
2/07/2015 - Austin, TX @ Emo’s East +
2/08/2015 - Dallas, TX @ House of Blues *
2/10/2015 - Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee *
2/11/2015 - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues *
2/12/2015 - Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues *
2/13/2015 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore *
2/14/2015 - Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades *
2/16/2015 - Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre ¶
2/17/2015 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox at the Market ¶
2/18/2015 - Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory ¶
2/20/2105 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex ¶
2/21/2015 - Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre ¶
2/22/2015 - Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theater ¶
2/24/2015 - Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s ¶
2/25/2015 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant ¶
2/26/2015 - Chicago, IL @ House of Blues ¶

with special guests:
¢ Hit The Lights
$ Hawhtorne Heights
% Vinnie Caruana
^ Early November
& Copeland
+ Team*
* Hellogoodbye
¶ William Beckett
Plus more bands to be announced soon.

For more information and tickets:

- Kate Russell

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A CMJ Feature with Alexz Johnson

>> Between 2004-2008, The N (TeenNick) was my television network of choice. I loved virtually every show they had, and Instant Star was definitely a favorite. The show starred Alexz Johnson as a young musician navigating a music career, fame, label drama, friendships, family, and love interests - all at the same time. The show was great, and the soundtracks were a huge part of my life at that time. When the show ended, I was understandably upset, but shows end and life goes on. That was that.

>> A few years later I stumbled upon an album called Voodoo and was pleasantly surprised to find Alexz still making music, but this time it was on her own. Throughout her career, she gradually stepped out from the Instant Star shadow to become an artist in her own right and has been pursuing a career doing what she loves.  I got to speak with Alexz a few weeks ago at the CMJ Music Marathon.  We discussed her new album, Let 'Em Eat Cake, her love of touring, and making the decision to turn down major labels in order to do things her way.  You can read the interview below, and watch an acoustic performance of the song "Let 'Em Eat Cake" here.

How's your day been so far?
Hectic. We drove in from Maine this morning and we played a show at 11:30 last night, which was super fun, but then we got up to drive to New York to do two days of CMJ.  Everyone's pretty tired but playing in New York City is always so exciting. Plus it's nice that I get to sleep in my own bed, too.

You're originally from Canada, but you're currently based in Brooklyn right?
I'm from Vancouver and I've been in Brooklyn now for about three years. I come to the Lower East Side (where we were doing the interview) all the time, Brooklyn is just more affordable.

How has being part of CMJ been so far?
It's cool! I mean I've played a CMJ show before but this is the first time where I have an album to promote and something to talk about.  I'm doing a showcase tonight at The Living Room which just re-opened in Williamsburg, and then one tomorrow night at Webster Hall which I'm stoked about. It's all full band which is great. The last two tours I've done have been acoustic based, so it’s been really nice to have a full band behind me.

So it's been a different experience this time around.
Yeah, totally.  I’ve been on tour with a band a couple of times before but this just means a lot to me because it’s my new album and I’ve spent almost two years creating it so it has a lot of my heart.

Which makes sense! You crowd-funded this album too which is interesting - want to tell us more about that?
I had some success using Kickstarter to launch my first tour and after some thought I decided to use Pledge Music as a platform to be able to reach out and work with one of my favorite producers, David Kahne who agreed to work on the project. Upon completion of the record I got offered a major label and I turned it down because I felt like I’d already paid for the album and I believe in it and I love it. I’ve gone down the major label route twice and between bad luck and shifts in companies, albums get shelved. It just happens, and I didn’t want to take that chance. I wanted to be able to release it and tour it. I want to spend the next two years touring it, I want to go back to Europe, South America… My expectations aren’t crazy at this point. I’ve been in the business for so long that I want to be able to have enough success that I can maintain momentum in my career and keep making music and touring.  I want to have a long-term career.

You decided to turn down the majors to do it on your own instead. What went into that decision? Was it mostly just past experiences? 
Pretty much, yeah. It can sound good and it can feel good, and it's nice to have a major label behind you, but there's so much mainstream... cutting down that's happening.  If your music doesn't sound specifically like something they feel is sellable then you have a tougher time. There’s luck of the draw for sure, but I didn’t want to be in that anymore as an artist. I’d rather have fans that like my music and buy my music keeping me alive and eating and making music – I’d just rather give them what they’ve gambled on.  That’s what’s so amazing about Pledge [Music] – I’m able to do that. It's such a wonderful thing and it's work; it's so much more work than just having a [major label] team behind you. I mean I have a great management team which I locked down this past year which is awesome. That's one of the hardest things to find as an artist: someone that believes in you before real money comes in. It’s been amazing having that Pledge platform to fund my own projects. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.

It must be great knowing that many fans wanted to and were able to support the album.
There’s something really cathartic about having a physical CD in your hand that you paid for with their help that you’re signing and shipping off to them. It's the best way to say thank you.  It's like you get to personally see these people. I love writing - it's been like sharing the journey and ups and downs through Pledge. It's like a blog in a way. Will I do it again? I don't know, maybe. With this album, there's help with distribution through Capitol which helps it get into stores and stuff like that.  I’m trying to make the best choices so that my music gets out there. Since Instant Star, and most people probably know me from that show most prevalently, I’ve had two major record deals. My music seems to be a little too off the beaten track so maybe that’s not the best move for me. There are other options for me to get it out there.

Kind of going off of that, you have a great presence on social media. Have you been using that to get the word out and connect with fans?
Hugely! I don't know what I would do without Instagram and Twitter - that's what's promoting this tour right now, that and Facebook. It's a full time job with being on the road, touring, and maintaining relationships - everything is just so geared towards getting this music out there. I believe in this album so much.

So much so that you named your current tour after it.
Yeah, it's the Let 'Em Eat Cake Tour.  It's a tour with an awesome band called Jared and the Mill who are the sweetest guys from Phoenix, and I'm also on tour with Patrick Droney who's opening every night. He's an amazing electric guitarist and he's actually going to be performing a song with me on guitar for you.  He's opening and he's in my band, and the band is awesome. I'm able to pick the musicians I want to work with and play with which is one of the coolest parts - I get to create the world I want to have on stage.

Acoustic obSession: "Let 'Em Eat Cake" by Alexz Johnson featuring Patrick Droney on guitar

That must be another great part of the crowd-funded freedom - you not only get to choose the music you make, but who helps you make it.
Yeah! The producers, and I got to write a lot of songs with my brother. "Let 'Em Eat Cake" I wrote with my brother... it's been a really cool experience so far. It's indie but it fits me more, I think. 

I still hand write my business cards, so I definitely respect wanting that control over your own content.
I’d rather have 10 fans that see my authenticity than a million that don’t. I'm never going to stop, so hopefully my health maintains and I can keep touring. Touring can be challenging sometimes but I'm totally willing to put the hard work in, and hopefully this record represents that.

If you can survive CMJ you can survive almost anything.
It's been great, I'm just mid-tour. It's a long one, almost two months. It's lengthy but we're meeting new people and having a blast. My younger brother Garrison is playing drums with me on this one. He's 17, the youngest of ten of my siblings so we flew him out from Vancouver, Canada to play in the band. Keeping it in the family, keeping it real.

After this you have the rest of the Let 'Em Eat Cake Tour, but what's your plan for after that?
Toronto, then it'll be Christmas and the New Year. I want to go to South America and tour there, I want to tour Europe - I want to keep touring. Then hopefully maybe getting an opening spot for a great band, anything to promote this record as much as I can.

Is there anything else you want to say?
Thank you for filming, thanks for your time and come catch a show if you can. The dates are on my website, and you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

From left to right: Kate Russell, Patrick Droney, Alexz Johnson, Sheila McNair @ Hotel on Rivington for CMJ

>> Alexz Johnson is still out on the Let 'Em Eat Cake Tour with Jared & The Mill and Patrick Droney.  Check out the remaining dates for the tour here.

- Kate Russell

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Born Cages Release Video for "Rolling Down the Hill"

>> After seeing them perform at this year's CMJ Music Marathon, I've become a pretty big fan of Born Cages.  There's no real comparison to seeing a band live, but Born Cages just put out a video for their song "Rolling Down the Hill" that gives viewers a look at what hanging with the band before seeing their show would be like.  There's a sense of fun and adventure combined with the energy of live performance, and with that the band can't go wrong.  You can watch the video for "Rolling Down The Hill" below.

>> "Rolling Down the Hill" is available on iTunes as well as on a 7" record with "Fuel To The Fire" as the b-side.

- Kate Russell
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2015 Tour: Meghan Trainor's That Bass Tour with Sheppard

>> Meghan Trainor will head out on her first headlining tour of North America in February. The pop singer will be taking Aussie band Sheppard out on That Bass Tour that goes until March 20th.  Tickets go on sale at 10AM local time on Saturday November 8th here.

All dates, cities and venues below subject to change.

2/11 - Vancouver, BC, CA @ Vogue Theatre
2/13 - Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
2/14 - Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theatre
2/16 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
2/18 - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
2/21 - Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey
2/25 - Houston, TX @ House of Blues
2/27 - Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
3/1 - Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom
3/2 - Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall
3/4 - Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
3/6 - Toronto, ON, CA @ The Phoenix
3/8 - Washington DC @ The Fillmore Silver Spring
3/11 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
3/13 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
3/17 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
3/20 - Nashville, TN @ The Cannery *

Additional dates to be announced!
*Sheppard not performing on this date.

>> If you haven't already, or if you want to again, check out Meghan Trainor's video for "All About That Bass" below. Also be sure to watch Sheppard's video for "Geronimo" here.

- Kate Russell
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kevin Devine Announces Acoustic Tour with Into It. Over It, Laura Stevenson

>> Kevin Devine will hit the road on a co-headlining acoustic tour with Into It. Over It. in February 2015.  Laura Stevenson will be along for the ride as support for this month long tour. The full list of dates can be seen below.

Acoustic Tour Dates:
2/04 - Washington DC @ Sixth & I Synagogue
2/05 - New Haven, CT @ Center Church On The Green
2/06 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
2/07 - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church Sanctuary
2/08 - Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
2/10 - Durham, NC @ Duke Coffeehouse
2/11 - Atlanta GA @ Vinyl
2/12 - St Petersburg, FL @ Local 662
2/13 - Orlando, FL @ The Social
2/14 - Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder
2/15 - Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
2/17 - Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
2/18 - Newport, KY @ Southgate House Revival
2/19 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
2/20 - Grand Rapids, MI @ The Stache At The Intersection
2/21 - Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
2/22 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop

>> In addition, Kevin Devine just released a music video for his song "She Can See Me." After an overwhelminglysuccessful Kickstarter campaign, Devine simultaneously released two albums: Bulldozer and Bubblegum in 2013.  "She Can See Me" appears on both albums but in two different versions.  You can watch the video for the Bulldozer version of the song below.  Both versions of the song will be released on a 7" record which can be pre-ordered here.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Bridge And Tunnel Film Soundtrack Release Show

>> It doesn't get more Long Island than this! From the mind of Jason Michael Brescia, Bridge and Tunnel is an independent film that highlights a group of twenty-somethings as they struggle to deal with break ups, student debt, and the transition to adulthood while living with their parents in suburban NYC.  Watch the trailer below.

>> The film's soundtrack includes songs from Ryan Hunter (NK, ex-Envy on the Coast), John Nolan (Taking Back Sunday), Vinnie Caruana (I Am The Avalanche), Bayside, NGHBRS, Giants at Large, and more.  The soundtrack is available now digitally, but will also be pressed to vinyl sometime in December.  To celebrate the release of the soundtrack, many of these artists will be performing at The Studio @ Webster Hall on December 29th for the official release show. Tickets are now on sale here.  Details for the show and the soundtrack's track listing can be seen below.

  1. Ryan Hunter - My House is an Empty White Box Too
  2. John Nolan - Here Comes the Wolf
  3. Bayside - Indiana
  4. NGHBRS - Hold Up Girl
  5. Giants at Large - Old Barman's Song
  6. theMOUTH - Captain Kidd's Theme
  7. Vinnie Caruana - It's Been Way Too Long
  8. Dan Pursino - Wild Hogs
  9. Happy Body Slow Brain - Residue
  10. Gabriel the Marine feat. John Nolan - Round and Round
  11. Ryan Hunter - Subways

>> John Nolan recently put out a video for his song "Here Comes The Wolf."  You can see that video, which was primarily filmed in the Amityville Music Hall and across Long Island, here.

- Kate Russell

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Ariana Grande Releases "Love Me Harder" Video with The Weeknd

>> She might still be rocking those cat ears, but it's clear that Ariana Grande is growing up. The singer just released a dramatic video for her song "Love Me Harder" featuring The Weeknd which is full of sultry moments and striking images.  The song has an addictive foundation combined with smooth vocals from Grande and a killer verse from The Weeknd that will have you hitting the replay button.  Watch Ariana Grande and The Weeknd brave the elements and a rocky relationship below.

>> The song comes from Grande's latest album, My Everything, which is out now.  In addition, Ariana Grande performed "Love Me Harder" with The Weeknd on the season 40 premiere of Saturday Night Live.  You can watch that performance here.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

We Are The In Crowd Announce A Very Non-Denominational Holiday Get Together Shows

>> Temperatures are gradually dropping and We Are The In Crowd are thinking forward to next season.  The band just announced a string of dates for their Very Non-Denominational Holiday Get Together. You can check out the tour flier & dates below a message from the band.

UPDATE: Nick Santino will be the opening act for these shows! See the dates and ticket links below.

We’re excited to announce we’re going to be doing a few really small full-band-acoustic performances in December!
We’d like to formally invite you to our “A Very Non-Denonominational Holiday Get Together” we’ll be doing our first full band acoustic performances EVER and playing tons of songs off Guaranteed To Disagree, Best Intentions, and Weird Kids! It’s going to be an awesome and very intimate week of shows and we hope you can be a part of it!

12/16 - Boston, MA @ Middle East -
12/17 - Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary -
12/18 - New York, NY @ Studio at Webster Hall - 

12/19 - Hamden, CT @ The Space -
12/21 - Vienna, VA @ Jammin Java -

VIP and General admissions tickets will be available at 10AM Local Time tomorrow, these rooms are small so make sure you get yours fast! VIP experience will include some really cool gifts from WATIC and Non-Denominational Santa as well as your one and ONLY chance to get your very own Awkward Family Photo professionally taken (Sears style) with WATIC (remember our holiday cards from a few years back?).

We’re so stoked for these shows, can’t wait to hang with all of you.


- Kate Russell
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