Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Music Video - "Beauty in Tragedy" by August Burns Red

>> After releasing Rescue and Restore over a year ago, August Burns Red is still promoting their fifth full length in all the right ways. Today, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania metalcore aficionados released a music video for the song 'Beauty in Tragedy', their third video off of Rescue and Restore. You can watch the video below.

>> The video uses black and white live performance shots that were taken during ABR's UK tour at the beginning of this year. 'Beauty in Tragedy' was directed by Giles Smith, a Leeds-based photographer. The live shots are filmed to perfection, and there are multiple angles that give the viewer different aspects of a live ABR show. 

>> The song itself is an emotionally driven musical message to a loved one who has passed on. The song changes tempo multiple times, and is a excellent example of ABR's multitude of abilities as a band. At one point, the band is playing at a pace that could turn the pit into a cyclone. Following this, the song dives down into a slow interlude which leads into a spoken-word section that vocalist Jake Luhrs presents with audible sobs of pain. It then picks up again for the climax of the song in a whirlwind of musical talent and finishes out with epic organs to match the overall hopeful message of seeing a lost loved one once again. 

>> When it comes to music videos, I tend to prefer a story line that goes along with the lyrics, depicted by either the members of the band or actors. If this is not the case, I would at least like to see something visually appealing, such as the video for "Provision' that ABR released a few months ago , which can be seen below. Live footage videos, at least to me, can sometimes come off as lazy and a simple way to get a video on YouTube for promotional purposes. It can be hard for a band to sell me on a music video like this. However, ABR was able to do so by showing what a live shot video is suppose to encompass: the band's live performance.

>> Now, I won't lie, August Burns Red IS my favorite band. I have followed them since they put out their first full length, Thrill Seeker, in 2005. Knowing this, you may think that I am biased. You're probably right, but this band still deserves all the credit it gets. This video is visually appealing in its own right. It is able to capture the band members' emotions while playing this equally emotional song. It also captures the members playing their instruments to their best abilities, whether it's Dustin Davidson's bass picking skills, or Matt Greiner's cymbal destroying blast beats. This video solidifies August Burns Red as one of the most talented metalcore bands out their, and the song shows that they can push the genre's boundaries to new levels and still make an intense, heavy song. 

>> If you're new to this band, check out the video above and let me know what you think in the comments below. I hope you'll find that they produce music that is a step above the cookie-cutter "core" music that is being released today.

- Zach Zima

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Dates Announced For The First Topshelf Records Tour

>> Starting in September, 4 bands will head out on the first ever Topshelf Records Tour -- and it's about damn time! A Great Big Pile Of Leaves will headline this first TSR tour with support from label mates Diamond Youth, Prawn, and Field Mouse.  Check out the full list of dates below, and visit topshelfrecords.com/tsrtour for ticket information.

>> Need to get acquainted with the Topshelf vibe? Topshelf Records created a playlist on soundcloud, featuring one song from each of the bands on the tour.  Stream the songs below and be sure to catch a show.

- Kate Russell
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Album Review: 'Go Down in History' by Four Year Strong

>> After a not-so-successful rock album and a short hiatus, heavy bearded Massachusetts pop-punkers, Four Year Strong, have returned with a five song EP entitled Go Down in History that will win over new fans and bring back wayward followers who have been wandering aimlessly since 2011. Their last full length, In Some Way, Shape, or Form, was FYS's attempt to step into the arena with  top rock acts. Unfortunately, it was not accepted well by fans who wanted circle pit starters and bouncing breakdowns. Personally, I enjoyed what 'In Some Way...' brought to the table with its well crafted songs and large sound. However, it did change the band's sound drastically, leaving most fans feeling alienated.

>> Once 2014 hit Four Year Strong decided it was time to announce the return to their roots. They re-branded themselves with a new logo, signed to a new label with plenty of up-and-coming pop-punk and hardcore acts (Pure Noise Records), and announced this new EP that is pure popcore perfection. Go Down in History brings back the fast paced, hardcore infused pop-punk that fans fell in love with on Rise or Die Trying and Enemy of the World, with a few hints of rock elements. The EP starts out with a crushing guitar riff and doesn't stop its sonic onslaught until the 17 minute EP finishes its last note. The band musically mixes the catchy, jump-around nature of pop-punk with the heavy breakdown essence of melodic hardcore seamlessly. The iconic game of lyrical tag between vocalists/guitarists Alan Day and Dan O'Connor also flows well within each song, and is something that FYS fans have grown accustomed to. The lyrics are presented as a single person's thoughts, and having two people belt them only increases the intensity of their delivery.

>> Need some proof? Check out the title track and first music video from the EP 'Go Down in History' below. This song features classic gang vocal chants, a catchy chorus that will make the most stagnant concert goer nod their head, and a message of living your life to the fullest and without fear (basically everything you want in a FYS song). The video itself features footage from the band playing main stage at this year's Warped Tour in front of enormous crowds, proving that the bearded brethren still have it.

>> Another song I recommend you check out off of this EP is the first track, 'What's in the Box?', which is in reference to an iconic line in the movie Se7en (pronounced "SEVEN"). However, the movie has nothing to do with the song, which is another calling card of the band. This song starts out with a heavier than normal riff and continues on to the traditional back and forth vocals between Day and O'Connor. The chorus is the most infectious section of this song, with in-your-face lyrics about shoving "it" down your throat and a riff that will make your head move subconsciously. Check out the song below.

>> Although it is only an EP, Go Down in History represents the return of Four Year Strong and a bright future for the four piece. Each of the five songs encompasses the sound they have put together in almost 15 years. After touring with bands like Blink-182 and playing the main stage of this year's Warped Tour, Four Year Strong can only go up. Speaking of Warped, if you haven't gone yet, do yourself a favor and check these guys out. You'll be won over with just a 30 minute set.

- Zach Zima

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Warped Interview: Captain Capa on Long Island

>> For the past 4 years, I have attended the Vans Warped Tour as press and conducted some really great interviews with talented and down to earth musicians. This year, however, I attended Warped Tour as a fan.  No press pass, no obligations.  I was actually able to watch full sets, see friends, and take a minute to sit down if I needed to.  It was very a very different experience, but it was fun all the same.  But me being me, I couldn't get through the whole day at Warped without at least one interview... and luckily Captain Capa had some free time at the end of the Long Island date.

>> Captain Capa is a German electronic band consisting of Hannes and Maik.  The guys have performed on parts of Warped Tour before, but this was the first year that they dedicated their whole summer to this traveling musical circus.  The guys clearly love what they're doing and are eager to share their music with an audience as big and as varied as a Warped Tour crowd.  Check out my interview with Maik and Hannes below! Then be sure to catch their set on the Beatport stage now through the end of the tour.  (OR if you'd rather listen to the unedited audio version of the interview, stream it below!)

How was your day?
Hannes: We had a pretty good day today.  Maik took a shower outside of the bus!
Maik: It's been sunny all day and there's the beach over there.
Hannes: We had a pretty cool show half an hour ago, we saw some cool bands, hung out in the bus watching Adventure Time.. so it was a pretty good day.

You guys like Adventure Time?
H: We love Adventure Time! It's amazing. I'm actually surprised that it got so big. I saw the pilot for the series a few years ago and it was so weird, like this could never happen in television. But now it happened and it's super popular and we're pretty happy about that. 

It's definitely weird in a cool, different sort of way.
H: It's cool for kids, but the older you get the more you get out of it.  It's like, 'Wait a minute, no kid will ever get that joke! What did they just do?' It's pretty cool that way.  

It's great that you get to enjoy that even with such a vigorous tour schedule.
H: Yes it definitely is. I think it's because we didn't take a merch tent with us this year.  The whole merchandise transportation is a hassle between two continents ...
M: It's very difficult.
H: Exactly. Last time that merch tent ruined our experience at Warped, so this time we just enjoy being here and we enjoy being able to take the time we used to put into the tent and put it into making contact and making friends around here.

So having done part of the tour at least once before, you've been able to learn what went well, what needs work, and things like that?
H: Yeah definitely.  We learned several different things.  One thing we learned from Warped is how to talk to an American crowd because it's actually totally different.  We learned to act as American as possible (laughs) and what you learn at Warped is being tight and on time on stage and keeping to a schedule.  Those are the Warped lessons!

How has this experience been different from other shows and tours you've been a part of?
H: It's completely different.  Or as our sound guy would say, "It's completely different except it's completely the same." We have festival shows in Germany but we don't have a festival monster like Warped with eight stages..
M: And 100 bands.

Plus it's a touring festival.
H: Exactly! That's something very unique and that's a challenge.  You have 30 minutes to play every day and you've got to be on time and it has to click from the first minute on.  You go on stage and it has to click right there. 

Hannes (left) and Maik (right) at Jones Beach | 7/12/14

Have you ever had problems connecting with the audience?
H: It's always fun for us to talk to the audience but of course the language barrier -- it makes it a little bit harder sometimes.  But we're finally getting used to talking to American crowds because we had to overcome a certain thing and think, "Okay we're in another country, let's just fuck it and do whatever the hell we want and have some fun on stage," without always thinking "Can I say that?" or "Will they laugh at our accents?" 
M: (laughing) Or we can always speak German so no one understands us.
H: For now, we've been like "You out there! Freeze! You in the pink hat come right here and stay for the rest of the show!" and it's pretty fun to do stuff like that. So no communication errors there.

For those who haven't seen you live or heard your music yet, how would you describe your sound?
M: Danceable, pop.
H: Emotional, super emotional. That's the biggest part! It's basically pop music but it has lots of influences from other genres. There might even be a little spark of punk in there, that's what I tell myself every night when I go to bed. It's definitely danceable pop music but there's a little in there for the Warped Crowd too.

So a little bit of something for everyone in a way?
H: We don't write songs for everyone but we write songs for us and what we like is ... We love the big melodies of pop music and the harsh sound of punk rock bands so we are always trying to combine that.
M: Yeah, we love the things that all the people love. (laughs)
H: We're basically the charts. 

Where do you find your inspiration?
H: For our latest album Foxes, our inspiration definitely has been touring.  That's what we did in the last 3 years -- tour after tour after tour. We come from a very small town so we didn't have a wild childhood.  The whole touring and hanging out in dirty backstages definitely changed us a little bit.  It opens your mind and that was the biggest inspiration for Foxes. Otherwise, it's always human relationships and stuff like that.

So there's a lot of experience-based writing?
H: It's all very personal stuff. Even considering that we're on a very political record label, we're pretty concentrated and focused on personal topics. 

How does it feel to perform such personal songs in front of so many people every day?
H: It feels pretty amazing because it's a very good way to vent. When you take any issue you've had in your life and you put it in a song it's like overcoming that issue, or at least you know that if something shitty happens in your life you've put it in a song and made something great out of it. Then you can be proud of it and that's really cool. Then every time you play that song live it's like getting that shit out of your way like, "that's it, now it's a cool song, that's mine and no one can take that away from me." Also, our songs are always written in a way so everyone can take a little out of it for their own personal reasons. We're never singing 'I had this problem and that happened to me,' it's more like 'There is this problem and you could have it too so why don't you dance it the fuck away with us?' 

That's a great mentality to have. Are you writing more on this tour?
H: Maik just produced a few songs at home.
M: Yeah I've produced two songs recently.
H: (laughing) Yeah, that's going to be the next album -- two songs. No but we're always writing stuff and collecting ideas. But after this tour and some festivals in Germany we're going to get back together and put that shit in a big bottle and see what comes out of it. 

So after Warped, you're on to more shows and more writing?
H: That's basically the circle and life of Captain Capa -- playing shows, recording an album, playing more shows. 

Is there anything else you want people to know about Captain Capa?
H: We just released a new video for our song "Arsenic," so go check that out because it's fuckin awesome! A few weeks before we started out on Warped we shot that video in Austria.  We wanted it to look sort of like a summer video even though it has really dark scenery and a dark story behind it. Unfortunately when we got to Austria it was snowing and it rained all the time and it became one of the most exhausting video shoots we've ever done. BUT we're super proud of the video. We spent two very cold, very shitty days in the mountains of Austria to shoot it so please at least give it a try!

Any last thing you want to say?
H: As long as we're on Warped Tour, come visit us because we like to make friends on tour! Come shake hands and all that.
M: Come to the Beatport stage! It's the best stage on the tour.

- Kate Russell
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Weird Al" Releases A New Album and 8 Videos

>> Attention all parody fans, people in need of a laugh, and people with nothing else better to do!: "Weird Al" is back with a new album, titled Mandatory Fun, and 8 new music videos to go with it.

>> Let's start with a personal favorite, shall we? Through using Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" as a base, "Weird Al" Yankovic has created a parody that is truly music to my ears.  The track is called "Word Crimes" and references phrases that don't mean what you think they mean, common grammatical errors, and some annoying shorthand frequently used in social media.  You can watch the video for this song below.

>> "Word Crimes" is a song off of "Weird Al"'s new album, Mandatory Fun, which was released earlier this week.  The album also includes the songs "Foil" (based on "Royals" by Lorde), "Tacky" (based on "Happy" by Pharrell Williams), among many more.  The video for "Foil" can be seen on the CollegeHumor YouTube channel, and the video for "Tacky" can be seen through Nerdist.  Check weirdal.com each day this week for a new video as a part of the #8videos8days project to promote Mandatory Fun.

- Written by Kate Russell

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Music Video: "Just One Of The Guys" by Jenny Lewis

>> Apparently I missed the boat on Jenny Lewis, but I managed to catch the wave trailing after it and I'm sure glad I did.  Jenny Lewis was a founding member of indie rock band Rilo Kiley, and went on to work with The Postal Service, Cursive, and more along the way.  Now, Jenny is going the solo route and has been doing so for quite some time.  Her solo albums are loaded with soul accompanied by an indie folk vibe.  These are songs to listen to if you want to rock while also maintaining a sweet and smooth atmosphere.

>> Now, to the fun part. Jenny Lewis just released a video for her new song "Just One Of The Guys" that features Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson, Kristen Stewart and Tennessee Thomas.  The ladies alternate between playing instruments, lip-syncing with sass, and goofing around dressed as men in track suits complete with wigs and fake facial hair.  Lewis directed the video herself and makes it clear that she's doing things her way, and nobody is going to change that.  Watch the video below.

>>  Want more?  The Voyager, the upcoming album from Jenny Lewis, will be released on July 29th through Warner Bros. Records.  The album is now available for pre-order here and comes with an instant download of "Just One Of The Guys." You can stream the title track from the album below.

The Voyager Track listing:
Head Underwater
She's Not Me
Just One Of The Guys
Slippery Slopes
Late Bloomer
You Can't Outrun 'Em
The New You
Aloha & The Three Johns
Love U Forever
The Voyager

- Written by Kate Russell

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Catch Patent Pending on the American Meltdown Tour

>> My friends in Patent Pending are hitting the road once again! The band will kick off the American Meltdown Tour in a few days starting with a show in Toledo, OH on July 10th.  Check out the dates and the excellent tour poster below, and catch a show if you can!

>> Not in the US?  Patent Pending will be hitting the UK in October. Check out the band's full list of tour dates here.

>> If you haven't already, be sure to pick up a copy of Patent Pending's latest album, titled Brighter.  You can get a feel for the album by watching the band's video for their song "Let Go" below.  

- Written by Kate Russell

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New Music Video: "We Are Done" by The Madden Brothers

>> Guess who's back? Benji and Joel Madden, famous for their time in Good Charlotte, are making music together again! The two appropriately now go by The Madden Brothers and have released a music video for their first single, "We Are Done."  The single comes from the band's upcoming album, Greetings From California, which will be released on September 16th through Capitol Records.  Watch the video below.

>> Enjoy the song? The band also released a lyric video for the track, which can be seen here. Looking to make things more permanent? You can download "We Are Done" through iTunes here, and pre-order Greetings From California here.

- Written by Kate Russell

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New Music Video: "Celestial Fires" by Night Verses

>> NY/CA based Night Verses just released a music video for "Celestial Fires," a track from the band's 2013 album Lift Your Existence.  This band is one of my favorites to see live, and the intensity and raw energy of their stage presence definitely comes through in this video.  If you need something equally heavy and melodic, this song is for you.

>> Night Verses will be heading out on a UK tour with Feed The Rhino in October following a North American tour with Norma Jean kicking off in August.  Click here for the full list of the band's upcoming tour dates, and do your best to catch a show.

- Written by Kate Russell

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Feature: dale Release New Single "Stain"

>> Self-proclaimed "Psychiatric Punk-Pop" band dale just released their latest single, "Stain."  This track is the band's follow-up to their love, dale EP released earlier this year.  "Stain" is a smooth rock song laced with emotion. It has a soft tone but keeps you listening with various addictive elements scattered throughout.

>> I recently spoke with dale vocalist Rees Finley about the new song. "I wrote 'Stain' about a couple of drunken nights at my apartment last year over bottles of cheap wine. I was listening to a lot of Prince at the time who is really hip with double-entendres and I was thinking about the double-meaning of a wine stain," he said. He cited Red Hot Chili Peppers and Weezer as inspiration for the arrangement and overall sound of the finished piece. "To me, the first EP is mostly songs I wrote in high school or about high school. I wouldn't necessarily say that this is more 'mature' so much as it tries to make sense of something a little more adult."  Listen to dale's new single "Stain" below.

>>  According to Rees, the band has some videos and new recordings in the works as well as plans to hit the road in the fall. When asked for a last word about the single, Rees had this to say: "Don't drink and drive."  Stay tuned for more from the band!

- Written by Kate Russell

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