Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review: 'Crocodile Tears' EP - Brigades

 >> Putting out an EP as a younger band can be a daunting task. Potential fans expect to hear a wider variety of styles in the 5 to 6 song grouping that proves the band’s worth on the listener’s iPhone. If there is a song or two that just happens to get stuck in their heads, that’s just a bonus. With Brigades' newly released EP entitled Crocodile Tears (CT), I believe those expectations were met.

>> The overall lyrical flow and song structure on CT are both on point in all six songs. Did this EP set Brigades apart from the heavy hitters that make up the Pure Noise Records line up? To be honest, I don’t think so, but CT does however provide enough proof that this band will be sticking around for the foreseeable future. There are obvious pop punk traits in every track, but there are also enough nuanced sections in the songs to provide a new experience to a pop punk fan.

>> If you need convincing, check out the single "Small Time Crooks", which Brigades released a music video for prior to the EP’s release. This contains enough catchy hooks to make you want to purchase this song 6 times over. I found myself nodding my head within the first 10 seconds of listening to this medium tempo pop punk tune.  Get a feel for the track by watching the video below. 

>> If you’re looking for some ferocity on this EP then skip to "Traditions." Once you get passed the unnecessary 12 second intro, the song picks up speed into circle-pit territory. The vocals mash together coarse, melodic-hardcore screams with your traditional pop punk cleans. This song even goes into heavy, 36 Crazy Fists-style bridge section that could cause a short lived mosh pit.

>> If you were drawn in by either of these songs then go all in and check out the rest of the EP. You will find that Brigades will be a household name in the pop punk community in no time soon. Purchase a physical copy of Crocodile Tears here , or find it on iTunes! Catch the band on tour with Hit the Lights, Major League, Light Years, and July on the Skip School, Start Fights Tour

- Zach Zima

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The College Experience with Alyssa Dempsey

>> The end of May signals summer for us college kids, and this particular May signals the end of college for Alyssa Dempsey.  I had interviewed Alyssa a few months ago, but I couldn't post the answers until now because some information here was time-sensitive.  I'm proud to say that the time-sensitive information was Alyssa's new job as a Junior Publicist with Big Picture Media out in Los Angeles.  I first met Alyssa while she was interning for BPM in NYC, and we immediately hit it off. Like myself, she was juggling internships, school, and a self-started music endeavor.  Alyssa runs Hooked On Records with a fellow NYU student named Jack Brooks.  Alyssa is bright -- in addition to being smart, there's something about her that attracts people.  She's genuine and dedicated, and it's obvious that she's meant to do big things in the music world.  Having just graduated from NYU as a writer for idobi and with a job at BPM, Alyssa is on a roll.   Read on to find out about the struggle to keep everything balanced while in school, and the excitement behind finishing college and moving on to bigger and better things.

- Kate Russell

Please state your name, age, and what school you attend.
My name is Alyssa Dempsey. I'm 21 and a senior at New York University.

When and how did you first get involved with the music scene?
I first started going to shows back in middle/high school. I grew up in Vermont where the closest music venue was about two and a half hours away, so it was always a big deal to go. I also had friends in local bands whose shows I would go to all the time. It wasn't until the summer after sophomore year of college that Jack (Brooks) and I started Hooked On Records. I had the idea after attending CMJ as a freshman at NYU, and then Jack and I made it a reality shortly after. That was also the summer that I started working at Billboard.

If you got involved at a relatively early age, was it hard having to deal with age restricted shows?
I didn't have to deal with age restrictions until I came to New York where it seemed like every show was 21+. I never had a fake ID so that definitely sucked. Also, Jack and I were 19 when we started Hooked On Records, so we had some initial insecurities about people talking us seriously. In general though, everyone thought we were older which helped.

Now that you're in college, has that aspect gotten easier? Are things more accessible to you now?
Now that I'm 21 everything is fantastic, I'll be honest. It's just so much easier. Even bands that are really supportive of all-ages shows still have to submit to the venues' wills generally. Coming to New York City for college was pivotal for me as well. I can safely say that I would have never been as involved with music as I currently am if I had stayed in my hometown, or gone to college in a less urban setting.

Do you find that you have more or less free time generally as a college student?
1000% less time as a college student. I wouldn't say I had a lot of free time in high school either, but in college it's been very difficult. I've always had some sort of part-time job or internship (usually multiple) in addition to schoolwork. Same with Jack. I like to think of myself as the Queen of Multitasking though. I’ve written press releases during class, that sort of thing.

What experiences have you had so far in the industry?
In addition to taking various entertainment business classes at NYU, I’ve had a number of internships. My first was as a Marketing Intern at Billboard, which was a pretty incredible first internship to have. After that, I worked as an Entertainment Publicity Intern with Big Picture Media, a PR agency – also a fantastic experience. Now, I’m a writer for idobi, and of course I’ve had Hooked On Records throughout all of this as well. I’ve dabbled in a little bit of everything.

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?
Skipping class has really never been an issue because all of my classes have been during the day and therefore don’t conflict with shows. Well, that’s a lie, I think I’ve definitely skipped a class or two for CMJ. As for putting off assignments, that happens all the time. I always get it done, but it isn’t unusual for me to go to a show and then stay up until 4am writing a paper.

Have you ever had to turn something down or reschedule something based on your school schedule?
Like I mentioned before, I usually just do my best to fit everything in. Right now, with Hooked On Records and idobi, my schedule is very flexible, which I love. For me, the only thing that really trumps anything music-related is my current position as a Resident Assistant, which is definitely school-related. When I’m on duty, it means I can’t even leave the building, so that usually puts a damper on seeing shows. For the most part though, things tend to work out.

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?
I never like to limit myself by choosing between school and music-related work. If anything, it’s always sleep that gets deemed least important.

Since you run a label, how do you store the records and/or CDs that you plan on selling? Where do you have it manufactured? Is it a difficult process when you have to worry about school and storing books and such in a potentially limited space?
I’m incredibly lucky because Jack has lived in an apartment since the summer before junior year, and she is a heavenly angel who stores all the vinyl and CDs under her bed actually (very professional, I know). We’ve used a couple different manufacturers in the past – specifically for vinyl we worked with Rainbo Records who did a great job. On our first project we worked with Aardvark Mastering and they were absolutely terrible. For CDs we've used a number of different manufacturers as well - it all depends on what the end goal is, how intricate the art may be, etc.

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’ve been an RA for the past two and a half years which means I have my own bedroom (which is FANTASTIC). Even if I did have a roommate though, it really wouldn’t be a problem as the majority of all the work I do is done through a computer.

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?
The two main obstacles I’ve dealt with regarding school are time and money. NYU is fantastic for its location, but I’m paying a ridiculous amount of money to attend this school. Even with scholarships and free housing these past two years, I’ve had to take out loans. Because of this, I’ve always worked outside jobs, usually more than one, to help take the edge off Future Alyssa’s debt. And of course, school takes up a large amount of my time as well. Both of these factors definitely limit my ability to solely focus on music-related endeavors.

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?
This is a hard one to answer. Living in New York City has really been the main factor in my involvement in the music industry, not college itself. However, I do believe that if I wasn't in college, I would not have the same internship opportunities that were available to me. Also, I’ve met so many awesome people during my time at NYU that I may not have known otherwise. It was very important to me to go to college, and overall I'm happy with my decision to attend NYU.

Do you think it's been beneficial to start your career / path in the music industry while you're still in school?
Yes, yes, yes – I can’t emphasize this enough. At this point, internships and experience are incredibly important. If you think you'll get a job after graduation just because you *really* want it, you may be delusional. The best part of music is that it's so accessible. Start a blog, start a label, start a band - just do something.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I will be moving to LA to join Big Picture Media as a Junior Publicist! Although I will miss New York terribly, I'm looking forward to working with a company that I really admire. Jack and I will also continue to work with Hooked On Records on the side.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: 'Cope' - Manchester Orchestra

- Written by Mitchell Allen

>> Following 2011's Simple Math, Atlanta based Manchester Orchestra continue to push their musicality to the next level. By evolving and adopting a heavier sound, the band has picked up right where they left off and continue to push their boundaries. From the opening track "Top Notch" to the last screech of feedback on the final title track "Cope", Manchester Orchestra's fourth studio album throws the listener into a storm of distorted guitar riffs accompanied by a thunderous rhythm section, topped off with singer Andy Hull's distinctive voice and lyrics. These elements bring the whole package together as a solid modern day rock album.

>> At 11 tracks charting just under 45 minutes, this fast paced record will not disappoint fans of Thrice, Foo Fighters, and Brand New.

Cope Track Listing:

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Transit Release Video For "So Long, So Long" Futures & Sutures Session

>> Transit is a band that likes to change things up.  Late last year, the band released an EP titled Futures and Sutures. The EP includes reworked versions of five of the band's previously released songs, including "So Long, So Long" from Young New England.  To keep things interesting while also keeping the fans involved, Transit released a music video for a Futures & Sutures-style  performance of "So Long, So Long." The video was directed by Erik Rojas, and can be seen below.

>> Transit will hit the road at the end of the month on the Heart Attack Tour presented by Alternative Press with Man Overboard and more.  You can view the full list of dates below, and get more information at .

The Heart Attack Tour Dates:
5/20 - MONTREAL, QB @ La Sala Rosa
5/21 - TORONTO, ON @ Virgin Mod Mob Club
5/22 - PITTSBURGH, PA @ Altar Bar
5/23 - CLEVELAND, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
5/24 - HOWELL, MI @ Bled Fest
5/25 - CHICAGO, IL @ Reggies
5/26 - MINNEAPOLIS, MN @ The Garage
5/29 - VANCOUVER, BC @ Tom Lee Music Hall
5/30 - SEATTLE, WA @ Chop Suey
5/31 - PORTLAND, OR @ Branx
6/03 - OAKLAND, CA @ Oakland Metro
6/04 - SANTA CRUZ, CA @ Catalyst Atrium
6/05 - LOS ANGELES, CA @ The Roxy
6/06 - SAN DIEGO, CA @ Soma
6/07 - LAS VEGAS, NV @ Henderson Eagle Aerie Hall
6/09 - AUSTIN, TX @ Red 7
6/10 - HOUSTON, TX @ Walter
6/11 - DALLAS, TX @ Trees
6/13 - NASHVILLE, TN @ The End
6/14 - ATLANTA, GA @ The Masquerade
6/15 - ORLANDO, FL @ Backbooth
6/16 - PEMBROKE PINES, FL @ The Talent Farm
6/18 - SPRINGFIELD, VA @ Empire
6/19 - BOSTON, MA @ The Sinclair
6/20 - NEW YORK, NY @ Irving Plaza
6/21 - PHILADELPHIA, PA @ Theater Of The Living Arts

- Kate Russell
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Monday, May 5, 2014

Lyric Video: "Problem" by Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea

>> When I get stressed, I turn to pop music.  Sometimes it's intentional, sometimes it's instinctual.  So it's no secret that I've been listening to a whole lot of Iggy Azalea recently. (Just check my most listened to artists on Twitter each week - it's getting excessive in the best way.)

>> Now that I'm really aware of Iggy, I found that she was featured on a new song called "Problem" by Ariana Grande.  Maybe it's because I've been in a pop mood for the past 6 months, or maybe it's because the song was designed by robots mastering in catchy tunes, but either way this song is a jam.

>> "Problem" has the classic Ariana Grande vocals, including high notes that are simply impressive.  Then there's Iggy Azalea and her smooth verse about being an independent woman coming at the 3/4 mark of the song.  As if that and the energetic sax tune weren't enough, the track includes a guy whispering "I've got one less problem without you" in a way that would make the Yin Yang Twins proud.  If you're looking for a song to get caught in your head and distract you from all the things that are going on, if you're looking for a song to rock out to in celebration of spring, if you're looking for a catchy song by two beautiful and popular female musicians - you've found it. Watch the lyric video below, and download the song on iTunes here.

- Kate Russell

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