Friday, June 27, 2014

New Music Video: Knuckle Puck - "No Good"

>> The resurgence of pop punk throughout the years could resemble the waves along the west coast that tend to be referenced in many of these songs. The era I grew up in saw the rise of acts such as Blink 182, New Found Glory, Simple Plan, and Yellowcard. These were the main groups that pulled me into the alternative scene which led to other styles such as metal and hardcore, in which I enjoy immensely today.

>> Now in the year 2014, we have seen another one of these 'waves' in the form of bands such as The Story So Far, Neck Deep, State Champs, Man Overboard, and Real Friends, who have blown up in the music scene. They're also inviting new fans to the alternative scene and reminding older pop-punk fans of the angst they felt while spinning Catalyst by New Found Glory in their CD player. 

>> Chicago based band Knuckle Puck are another act that have been catching buzz with this rebirth of the pop punk genre, and they are doing so with only a few EPs under their belt (one of which is a split EP with Neck Deep that features only 2 songs per band).

>> In order to continue their exponential growth in popularity, the band has released a music video for what could be considered their most popular song (and my personal favorite), "No Good." The song is featured off of the bands EP titled The Weight That You Buried, which was released in 2013 and was re-released on vinyl in 2014 via Bad Timing Records.

>> The video is one of the few in the genre that doesn't feature a montage of touring footage, and actually has a story to it that follows the lyrics. It features a female character who, at the beginning, paints over photos of a guy with black paint. As she continues to paint over him, the black paint starts to cover her. The video seems to illustrate how a person tries to get rid of someone harmful in their life, but sometimes, no matter how hard they try they can't get that person out of their head (or off their skin). It could also illustrate the lyrics "I'm no good, you're no better," in that everyone has flaws (represented by the black paint).

>> Knuckle Puck, who was recently named on of the 'Top 10 New School Pop-Punk Bands You Need To Know' by Billboard Magazine, will be supporting Senses Fail on the Let It Enfold You 10 Year Anniversary Tour coming up this fall. They will be joined by No Bragging Rights, and the tour will kickoff September 30th. This tour will bring fans of all ages together to share the music of their teenage years!

What are your thoughts on the video? Are you a fan of the new wave of pop-punk? Leave your answers in the comments!

- Zach Zima

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Album Review: 'VOID' by Vanna

>> As the weather begins to get warmer, more and more summer tours start their journey. One of the most iconic and sought out of these tours for bands is obviously the Vans Warped Tour. Ideally, a band would love to be apart of the full Warped Tour run (this year's tour runs June 13th- August 3rd), but this could be a daunting task. Having a well rounded and angst-filled album to share with the mostly teenage crowd can only help with this endeavor. Luckily for Boston outfit Vanna, they have such an album.

>> VOID, which will be released via Pure Noise Records on June 17th, provides an 11 song emotional roller coaster ride for its listeners, in which they will feel rage and revulsion, as well as melancholy and hopefulness. The opening track off of VOID, which happens to be the title track, rips into the listener's ears with lead vocalist Davey Muise's gritty words about becoming a "black hole." This could signify that he is at a dark place in his life. When he yells "with the lights out, it's dangerous. Here you go, chanting entertain us," Muise hints that his career as a performer on stage has become a void, or black hole, in his life. He may feel that people want more and more from him, and that being a performer could be doing more harm than good for him.

>> "VOID" (the song) is an excellent example of Vanna's heavy side, but there is a softer, emotional side to the band as well. This shows up on VOID in several songs, one which is "Digging." Vanna felt that this song was so emotionally driven that it would perfect candidate for the first music video off of VOID. The song starts out with a soft vocal harmony, which then kicks into a post-hardcore riff with clean vocals from guitarist, Joel Pastuszak. Muise then takes the reigns and screams over the melodic ballad. Lyrically, this song touches on depression and not knowing who you are as a person. A metaphor of a rock sinking to the bottom of the sea is used to illustrate this lowness that Muise and Pastuszak are singing about. They both relate to their listeners who may be going through the same lowness, and tell them not to dig themselves into their depressed place. Muise goes on  with words of encouragement, telling the listener not to write the ending to their own 'book'. You can watch the video for "Digging" below.

>> "Holy Hell", the first single off of VOID, is another thrasher that could cause the calmest of fans to throw down. This song is an anthem for every outcast who feels that they are oppressed by the majority of society. Muise screams to the listener that they are actually the majority and that they "own this town". You can check out the song below.

>> There are several other songs on this album worth mentioning, including "Piss Up A Rope." This was the second single off of VOID, and it's a classic headbanging hardcore jam that will please any pit. "Pornocopia" is another song you should check out. If you couldn't tell from the title, this song is about pornography and Muise's personal view on it. He goes on to scream about how porn would make him feel, calling it a "wet nightmare" that digs into his brain. He now views porn almost as virtual prostitution, where the girl is no more than an object. He also goes on to say how disgusting it made him feel. The track definitely shines a light on pornography in general.

>>The final track "Bienvenue" is another great example of the diversity you will find on this album. It is a much slower and longer song, clocking in at 5 minutes and 3 seconds. Pastuszak cleanly sings in metaphors about not waiting for rivers to flood and mountains to fall to make changes in your life. There is also an intense spoken word/rap verse that encompasses the song and the overall message of VOID.

>> VOID is by far Vanna's best work to date. It touches on a wide range of emotions with the use of harsh vocals, fast-passed guitars, melodic chords, and much more. If you want something different from today's overproduced metalcore/post-hardcore bands, then check out VOID immediately. You can find it on iTunes or over at their merch store. If you like what you hear, make sure to check them out on the Monster Stage during the 2014 Vans Warped Tour!

 - Zach Zima

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Balance and Composure Announce Headlining Tour with Seahaven, The American Scene, and Creepoid

>> Balance and Composure will be headlining a US tour later this summer with support from Seahaven, The American Scene, and Creepoid.  The full list of dates for this run can be seen below, and tickets go on sale starting tomorrow, June 13th.  

>> If you haven't already, pick up a copy of Balance and Composure's 2013 album The Things We Think We're Missing to get ready for these shows.  

Tour Dates:

- Written by Kate Russell

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Parks & Devastation Tour featuring A Day To Remember, Bring Me The Horizon, and Chiodos

>> Starting in September, A Day To Remember will be touring the U.S. on the Parks & Devastation Tour with Bring Me The Horizon and Chiodos. For the show on September 18th in Chicago, Sleeping With Sirens will take the place of BMTH. The full list of dates can be seen below. VIP Packages are on sale now at and general on-sale starts tomorrow, Friday 6/13, at 10am local time.

Parks & Devastation Tour Dates:
9/4/14 Pittsburgh, PA - Stage AE Outdoor
9/6/14 Detroit, MI - Chill On The Hill*
9/8/14 Albany, NY - The Armory
9/9/14 Lowell, MA - Tsongas Center
9/10/14 Wallingford, CT - Toyota Oakdale Theatre
9/15/14 Grand Rapids, MI - DeltaPlex
9/16/14 Columbus, OH - LC Pavilion
9/17/14 St. Louis, MO - Chaifetz Arena
9/18/14 Chicago, IL - UIC**
9/20/14 Denver, CO - Riot Fest*
9/23/14 Fresno, CA - Woodward Park Amphitheatre
9/24/14 Los Angeles, CA - Shrine Expo Hall
9/26/14 San Jose, CA - Event Center @ SJSU
9/28/14 Phoenix, AZ - Mesa Amphitheatre
9/30/14 Grand Prairie, TX - Verizon Amphitheatre
10/6/14 Nashville, TN - Bridgestone Arena
10/7/14 Charlotte, NC - Uptown Amphitheatre
10/9/14 Charleston, SC - North Charleston Coliseum
10/10/14 Orlando, FL - Hard Rock
10/11/14 Orlando, FL - Hard Rock
**BMTH NOT PLAYING; Sleeping With Sirens instead

>> Want more? Watch a super cheesy trailer for the tour below.

- Written by Kate Russell

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Music Video: Architects (UK) - "Gravedigger"

>> British metalcore thrashers Architects (UK) have released a music video for the song "Gravedigger," the second off of their latest album Lost Forever // Lost Together. The album was unleashed onto the world back in January via Epitaph Records. The video features a live performance of the song off of the band's recent headlining tour. Although the music isn't live, the video demonstrates the crushing power of the band and the demanding presence of front man Sam Carter. 

>> "Gravedigger" is the album opener and with good reason. It starts out with a slow, melodic guitar and then breaks into a relentless punk tidal wave, which is shortly followed by a crushing breakdown. This song is one of the heaviest off of the album, and it also has one of the catchiest choruses within the 11 songs. Lyrically, the song discusses crooked leaders and the people they oppress. Carter points out that these corrupt leaders are the gravediggers with "blood on their hands." He feels that they are using their power to gain for themselves, and that they do not care what happens to the rest of us. 

>> Architects (UK) recently finished a US headline tour and have just started the Lost Forever // Lost Together European Summer tour that spans from June 6th to August 24th. The band will hit numerous countries and many well known summer festivals including Rock Am Ring, Rock Im Park, and Reading & Leads. Check them out and pick up Lost Forever // Lost Together on iTunes

                                                                                                                          - Zach Zima

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Industry Interview: Matt Brown of Haulix

>> Back in 2008, I started this site to help give hard working musicians the exposure they deserve. As the years passed and I met more people with similar goals, I realized that there are dedicated individuals on every side of the industry worth highlighting.  I interviewed Matt Brown a while back about his work with Haulix -- a web-based platform for promoting music.  Haulix offers a way for labels and publicists to send music out for review without having to worry about leaks, plus a way to track important stats about who's listening to what and how often.  Read on to learn more about how Matt Brown got his start, and how Haulix is benefitting the industry from virtually every angle.

Tell us about yourself and why you love what you do.
My name is Matt Brown and I'm the Founder and CEO of Haulix. It really is a great feeling to offer a service that touches so many people in the music industry. Making money is a good thing, but actually helping others is priceless and I really appreciate my job.

How did you first get involved in the music biz?
I've played drums most of my life; grade school all the way through high school. In my late twenties I was in a cover band too. I got hooked to computers in the late nineties and ended up going to school for computer science. Around that same time I worked as a web developer at a call center here in MN and I made a couple friends who were into metal. We used to jam in their basement and the metal music obsession was getting addicting, not to mention I wanted a computer science project to work on, so we decided to start **Note: was renamed to a year ago**.
Web development in general is one of the only art forms I can think of that mixes strict programming on the back end with artistic design on the front end. I enjoy both equally. Ironically, that website was the focal point in quite a few interviews where I got the job. Rather than giving a shit if I had some degree pinned to my wall, I had a living breathing website out there that showcased my skills.

What were some of the best and worst experiences with
In the beginning, my friends and I were totally amazed when we would go to our mailbox and see that shiny new album sitting in there. We got a copy before it was released to the public! It made us feel so relevant. In those days, it was fun to see what goodies came in the mail. As time went on and a decade later, the overflowing mailbox became more of a hindrance and turned out to be the catalyst for starting Haulix. And with all of the good that we experienced over the years, I guess one bad thing was all of the copycat websites coming out. Anyone with half a brain can start a Tumblr or WordPress site. And so all of a sudden we were seeing and other similar sites. We even had people stealing our reviews and saying they were the author. If I knew then what I know now, I would of invested money in trademarking the name.

Surely you must have received tons of music to write about for the site. How did the way you received that music change over the years?
That's the thing..... the way music was sent to us didn't change over the first 7-8 years of running the website. Some labels were going as far as having voice-over interruptions in each track every few minutes. The voice-overs made for such a poor listening experience, most writers couldn't stomach listening to the album and in turn they wouldn't take the time to write about it either.

When did you get the feeling that you wanted something different?
It was a ton of work getting the music from the mailbox into our system so that our writers could listen and write their reviews. I would spend an entire day entering discs into our system. After a couple years of doing that, I hired someone to do it. I had to mail the packages to him and he would put a ton of work in -- there was no getting around it. About 5-6 years ago, high-speed internet was common and I wanted to come up with a better and more efficient way to get music out to the press that was powered by a web application.

What drove you to take that idea and make it a reality?
Back in 2007 I purchased the name and I wanted to start my idea of using a web application for promotions versus mailing out physical packages. I had a full time consulting job at the time and didn't have the energy to put into the new site. Then when the economy tanked about a year later, I was let-go from my job. I thought there would be no better time to dive head-first into a business than then. That's what I did.

Tell us about the main features of Haulix. How can artists benefit from using those features?
Within our system, you upload your promos, you manage your contact lists and you send out custom email invitations. Customers have fine grained control over a promo. They can set it to be streaming only or downloading only or both. They can even control how many times each contact can stream or download a track. The security and watermarking is all handled automatically behind the scenes. It's not uncommon for a new customer to import their contact list, upload an album and send out 1,500 email invitations in a matter of 20 minutes. From there, we track everything and the promo runs on auto-pilot. The benefits of promoting this way are that you can greatly decrease the chances of leaking while having global reach with people in the press. We've had many albums break their first week chart rankings partly because the album didn't leak and the promotional distribution was far reaching and efficient.

What have been some of the biggest challenges with Haulix in terms of growth?
Ironically, the moving parts of our software that handle music and watermarking were some of the easiest things to implement. By far the biggest challenge has been with outgoing email. Our customers send out over one million email invitations each month and those emails all have custom content, images, unsubscribe links and custom promo links that we generate. It's a massive undertaking to process all of those emails. We have a high-powered server that is dedicated to processing incoming email events so that we can track email deliveries, opens and bounces. It's a huge challenge to help our customers keep their contact lists "clean" while still staying out of their way. There's a sensitivity to spam now-a-days and so it's our responsibility to make sure our customers are sending invitations to people who want to receive them.

Haulix has a blog aspect hosted through Tumblr. What does having the tumblr bring to the table?
Our business is a very private and behind the scenes type of operation and we're happy to have it that way. Publicists in general are hard working people behind the scenes who make sure their artists get put into the spotlight. We desperately needed a strong public social presence. We added James S. to our staff about a year ago and he's done a phenomenal job managing our blog and overall marketing strategy. Our blog's main objective is to shine light on people who work in the music industry. They usually have an interesting story to tell which others around the world can learn from. We've recently expanded the blog to include a music industry job board. So many job websites are full of crap. We want to offer a place with good quality jobs that can take advantage of our audience -- which is made up of people who want to break into the industry or those who already work in the industry, and so the job board just makes sense bringing those people together.

Do you have any big plans for the platform? What advancements do you hope to make with Haulix next?
Yes, we have big plans. We are partnering up with a company called ToppleTrack and in the next couple of weeks or so, we will be offering automatic illegal link and file takedowns via the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Not only will we be protecting music as it goes out the door with our watermarks, we will now have aggressive processes crawling the internet looking for illegal links and issuing takedown requests. The combination of the two technologies will be extremely powerful in battling leaking and we are very excited about it!

Is there anything else you want people to know about Haulix?
We've had so many great customers share their stories on how Haulix has been a game changer for them and made their work/life easier. We truly believe the proof is in actually trying it out and experiencing what we can do for you yourself. All plans start with a 30 day trial. We invite anyone who is going to promote an artist or album to come try us out. Our first customers that joined us over 5 years ago are still with us today and we're very proud of that.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tour Dates: Senses Fail 'Let It Enfold You' 10 Year Anniversary Tour

>> Holy nostalgia, Batman!  Senses Fail will hit the road this fall to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their album Let It Enfold You.  The album was the band's first full length release, and it's definitely a release worth celebrating.

>> Buddy Nielsen, founder and lead singer of Senses Fail, had this to say about the upcoming anniversary tour:
I am humbled and excited to be able to play these songs, some which have never been played live. I look forward to reliving moments in my life with a room of people who are doing the same. I have spent the better part of my life pursuing a dream and now, purposely, to look back and clearly be able to see the peaks and valleys, the difficult personal times, the relational sacrifices that were made, as well as the joy, excitement, youthful ignorance that was painfully present at times. It is all very outstandingly grounding and fills me with equal parts nostalgic joy and gratitude for everyone that has shared in this band, past present and future, band member or business partner. We were all very young when we wrote and recorded this record in a half recording studio, half go go bar, run by the Russian Mob in Dover, NJ. None of us could have imagined the places it would take us, to now retrace those steps back in time, is a little frightening but more so exciting. I have very fond memories of the journey that was started with the record and I truly have deep love for everyone that was involved. All of us have gone separate ways but we will still forever share a bond, a record that has its own life and will stay unchanged for the rest of time. 

>> Chris Hornbrook of Poison The Well will join Senses Fail as their drummer for this tour. No Bragging Rights and Knuckle Puck will also hit the road as support on this celebratory run. Check out the full list of dates below, and pick up your pre-sale tickets here.

Senses Fail Let It Enfold You 10th Anniversary Tour Dates:
9/03 – House of Blues - San Diego, CA
9/04 – Troubadour - Hollywood, CA
9/05 – Slim’s - San Francisco, CA  (Tickets)
9/06 – Hawthorne Theatre - Portland, OR
9/07 – El Corazon - Seattle, WA
9/09 – Club Sound - Salt Lake City, UT
9/10 – The Summit Music Hall - Denver, CO
9/11 – Bourbon Theatre - Lincoln, NE
9/13 – Skully’s Music Diner - Columbus, OH
9/14 – Mr Smalls Theatre - Milvale, PA
9/16 – Paradise Rock Club - Boston, MA
9/17 – Marlin Room in Webster Hall - New York, NY
9/18 – Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY
9/19 – The Trocadero - Philadelphia, PA
9/20 – Starland Ballroom - Sayreville, NJ
9/21 – Ottobar - Baltimore, MD
9/23 – Cat’s Cradle - Carrboro, NC
9/24 – Underbelly - Jacksonville, FL
9/25 – The Social - Orlando, FL
9/27 – Walter’s - Houston, TX
9/28 – Index Fest - Dallas, TX
9/29 – Red 7 - Austin, TX
10/1 – Launchpad - Albuquerque, NM
10/2 – Club Red - Tempe, AZ
10/3 – The Glass House - Pomona, CA

- Kate Russell
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Album Review: 'Let The Ocean Take Me' by The Amity Affliction

>> In the world of metalcore/post-hardcore/(whatever you want to call it), it is hard to distinguish yourself as a band that deserves attention. This is due to the the basic formula of guitar riff + screams + high pitched clean chorus + breakdown = song that a majority of those bands utilize. There are some bands out there that attempt to change this formula and succeed (see August Burns Red). There are also bands that keep this basic formula but throw in other variables such as different instruments or music styles to produce catchy, heavy songs. 

>> I consider Australian metalcore quintet The Amity Affliction one of these bands that does it differently, and their soon to be released album, Let The Ocean Take Me (LTOTM), is proof of this. LTOTM, which drops in the US on June 10th via Roadrunner Records, consists of 10 songs that flow very similarly to The Amity Affliction's hits such as "Open Letter," and "I Hate Hartley," but the band has managed to insert nuances into this new album to set it apart from previous releases and other metalcore albums. The two songs that were released as singles prior to the album's release, "Pittsburgh" and "Don't Lean On Me," both have a classic The Amity Affliction sound that will please the ears of current fans. You can check out the music video for "Pittsburgh" below. 

>> These classic The Amity Affliction sounding songs share space on this album with songs that show range in the band's abilities and tastes. "Never Alone" is a song on this album that really proves this point. The beginning guitar riff, with the mix of synths, gives the song an 80's glam rock feel that at first is a bit confusing. But after listening for a while it becomes infectiously catchy, especially when Ahren Stringer, the bassist and clean vocalist, comes in with the chorus that repeats throughout the song. "Never Alone," keeps this 80's vibe except for the breakdown, which could be argued as the heaviest breakdown on the album. Another song that mixes musical styles together well is"The Weigh Down," which has a pop intro that could be played on a top 40 radio station. 

>> Lyrically the album follows the same themes that past The Amity Affliction albums have discussed. These topics include depression, suicide, and self harm. Joel Birch, the vocalist and lyricist for the band, has personally dealt with these issues, which is why they are always at the forefront of their songs. Birch has stated that he continues to struggle with depression and that the lyrics he writes help him to cope just as much as they help their fans. Some might say that hearing songs that continually focus on the same topics would cause them to lose interest in a band, but with the amount of passion that Birch and the rest of the band put into each song it is impossible to not find yourself at least giving each song a chance.

>> In previous albums Birch would write about others and himself, but with LTOTM it seems he wanted to focus on his dealings with his depression in the hopes to share with the fans that he is just like them and that they are going through the same struggles. This is seen in in the single "Don't Lean On Me," in which Birch mentions how many fans reach out to him with their depression. He goes on to tell the listener that they shouldn't confide only in him because he is going through the same thing and sometimes has a hard time with the burden of all of these confessions. He wants to be there for those who reach out to him but he also doesn't want to be the only one who is there for them. You can check out the music video for that song below.

>> Other songs touch on Birch's run in with alcohol dependency ("Pittsburgh"), following in his father's destructive footsteps ("My Father's Son"), and thanking friends for helping him through his depression ("Death's Hand"). There is also an interlude in the middle of the album that features a phone message in which someone is pouring their depression-ridden heart to a friend. It perfectly sums up the themes touched on throughout LTOTM

>> Let The Ocean Take Me is by far The Amity Affliction's best work to date. It encompasses the melodic metalcore sound they have developed in the past few releases while also stretching their boundaries by mixing different music styles such as 80's glam rock. If you are a previous fan of The Amity Affliction or a fan of metalcore music, I highly recommend listening to this album. It sets the bar for musicianship in the genre while keeping the same features that make metalcore what it is. You can pick up the album on June 10th via iTunes.  

Let The Ocean Take Me International Release Dates:
June 6th - Australia 
June 9th - United Kingdom 
June 10th - United States

                                                                                                                                               - Zach Zima

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New Music Video: Conor Oberst - "Zigzagging Toward the Light"

>> Late last week, folk artist Conor Oberst (best known for his work leading the folk act Bright Eyes) released the first music video from his recently released solo album Upside Down Mountain. "Zigzagging Toward the Light" opens with Conor being interviewed in the year 2024 by an unseen source. The all black and white footage, questions asked by what sounds like a robot, and the statement that "the cameras are everywhere" all add to the futuristic feel and somewhat points in the direction of George Orwell's 1984.  

>> The song itself is upbeat and draws reference and inspiration from (in my opinion) The Smiths, with it's multiple layers of jingly-jangle guitar work, pop aesthetics, and driving rock tempo. It's an excellent choice for the first music video and single combination from Oberst's album.

>> Conor Oberst is currently on tour in support of his new record Upside Down Mountain with support from fellow folk rock act Dawes.  The remaining dates for that tour can be seen here.

- Written by Mitchell Allen

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