Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Album Review: 'Dangerous Woman' by Ariana Grande

>> Ariana Grande's 2014 release, My Everything, may have hit a snag with a hodgepodge of influences that were on the album. There were the hit songs like "Bang Bang", "Problem", and "Break Free", but you figured that the now 22 year old singer had to make an album that embodied herself and let the trends fall into that structure. "Focus", which was slated to be the first single off Grande's newest album Dangerous Woman, would have followed a similar path of the previous album - a radio ready hit that would carry into the spring and summer. However, that was left off the initial track listing in favor of the title track to the album's benefit.

>> Dangerous Woman has many influences, but they are refined and retooled into a narrative that works. The 11 track album sounds like Grande utilizing her vocal talents and giving each song its own feel and touch, whether it be from harmonies or how she doubles her vocal tracks. "Moonlight" serves as a romantic opener that draws influence from the doo-wop era and kicks the album off with a classic feel. The title track was an interesting pick for the first single, given that its mid-tempo premise was different than the songs we were accustomed to hearing from Grande. You get a sultry, sexy song complete with a guitar solo that adds a new wrinkle into her repertoire. "Be Alright" is a feel good, house-infused track that includes some encouragement from Grande herself ("the hard times are golden cause they all lead to better days").

>> Throughout the whole album, there's a theme of love and how it makes you feel. It moves from the initial honeymoon feeling of euphoria to the dark places of heart break. Each of the song's narratives come from a genuine place as the emotions may go up and down; so does the tempo. "Leave Me Lonely" which also adds some vocals from Macy Gray would be considered the quintessential ballad of the album. "Thinking Bout You" is an interesting way to end the album as a whole. As the top half is abundant in jovial feelings about love, this album ends on the note of honest longing after someone's heart as been broken. It would have been too safe to give a happy ending, but instead, it shows a real push in Grande's maturity as an artist.

>> Super-producer Max Martin adds diversity within the tracks he produces, but not at the expense of the personality of Grande. There are plenty of hits waiting for your radio such as the synth-infused "Into You" or the reggae-tinged "Side To Side" featuring Nicki Minaj. Dangerous Woman will take you down many roads, but the direction actually feels like one that leads somewhere. There is plenty to dive into, dance to - hell, maybe even cry to. With that, you don't get lost in the shuffle which makes for a very satisfying listen. 

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Experience An Oxymorrons Show [Live Video + Tour Dates]

>> Full disclosure: Oxymorrons are one of my favorite bands to see live. I've caught their set numerous times, everywhere from Gramercy Theatre to The Knitting Factory to intimate industry events. This group is constantly evolving, and their priority is always creating a dope performance for each and every person in attendance. Their energy is undeniable and difficult to properly highlight through words alone, which is why the Oxys put together a live video for their "Hello Me" remix.

>> On its own, "Hello Me" is very different for an Oxy tune - its energy is more thoughtful and surrounded by ambient vibes that introduce the listener into an entirely new sonic landscape. The remix combines that feeling with more of a party atmosphere, and the mix beautifully lends itself to this live video. The visuals here come from Oxymorrons' set at Webster Hall when they performed alongside Waka Flocka Flame on 4/20. Watch the clip and get a feel for what these guys have to offer:

>> Now that they've got your attention, the fellas are ready to expand their Oxynation. Be sure to catch Oxymorrons on their upcoming Geeked Out Tour, which kicks off on May 31st in Philadelphia. Check out the full list of dates below and get your tickets here:

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Friday, May 20, 2016

PREMIERE: Makeshift Release "Someone Like Me" Video, Announce New EP

Photo Credit: Dani Sacco

>> Having started out as a group of 15 year olds who just wanted to do something rad, Makeshift are making serious moves. Now a few years into being a band, this group is incredibly focused and more determined than ever, as seen through a slew of packed shows on Long Island and a performance at the 2016 Launch Music Conference. While buzz continues to build, the guys realized it was time to do something for their fans who eagerly await something new.

>> Today, team TMO has partnered with the band to unveil their brand new video for "Someone Like Me." The song is a total pop punk jam with an introspective edge: "The lyrics that I wrote and sing in the song reflect a time in my life that I’m not very proud of," notes vocalist/guitarist Andrew Musalo.  "However, the lyrics also suggest that maybe we can make up for the bad things we’ve done in the past, and maybe we can learn from our mistakes to make us better people in the end, much like how positive things can sometimes come from catastrophes."  Think that over while embracing the cool vibe of Long Island as you watch the "Someone Like Me" video below:

>> What's more exciting than a dope new video? New tunes, that's what! The Makeshift fellas are on a roll, and they're working up to releasing a new EP later this year. "We’re really excited to announce that we’re going to be recording a new record this June with Adam Cichocki at Timber Studios in New Jersey," said Dan Burke (bass / vocals). "We’re trying to make these songs sonically different, to an extent, from what we’ve done in the past. We love these songs and we hope everyone who hears them is going to love them just as much. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’m very excited for the future of Makeshift and can’t wait to see what we can do with it.

Get stoked for the EP, and read more of my Q&A with the band below!

What inspired the song “Someone Like Me” ? What is the overall message addressed here?
Dan: If you listen to the lyrics in my verse and Andrew’s verse, you’ll probably notice that they’re not talking about entirely the same thing. We each wrote our own lyrics for this track which is something that I think is really cool about this song. I wrote my verse about a time that I experienced kind of recently where I had a lot of things going on in my life regarding relationships, school, friends, and a bunch of things. Things weren’t great and I felt like when I reached out for help from some of the people that I felt were closest to me I was blown off and told to kind of just get over it. That’s where the line of “everybody around me refused to help” came in and my verse kind of just captures that.

Andrew: The lyrics that I wrote and sing in the song reflect a time in my life that I’m not very proud of, a time when I had pushed away a lot of loved ones and friends and created a very negative environment for myself. The lyrics kind of touch on how I feel guilty about a lot of the choices I made during this brief period, and painted this very dark picture in my mind as to who I am and how I feel about myself. A lot of times when I think about that time in my life, I cant help but feel like I am just really terrible person and like I have to make up for that however I can. However, the lyrics also suggest that maybe we can make up for the bad things we’ve done in the past, and maybe we can learn from our mistakes to make us better people in the end, much like how positive things can sometimes come from catastrophes.

Where was the video filmed?
All of the full band shots were filmed in our friend Justin’s basement. (Thank you Justin.) Justin was actually also one of the guys on the crew for this video and helped out a bunch with filming. (Thank you Justin, again.) The skate park shots were done at Bethpage Skate Park. It’s our actor Vin’s favorite park to go to.

How did you come up with the ideas / scenes in this video? Do the static and TV-smashing have any special significance?
Andrew: We got together with the band and crew and were brainstorming different ideas for kind of a theme to the video. We thought that the static would kind of represent how someone feels when they are facing a negative time in their life and everything seems to be in disarray.

Dan: I just thought it would look kinda cool.

What do you hope viewers get out of this video and your music in general?
Andrew: Most of our music kind of has a message of no matter how shitty things are, it all gets better as long as you work at it.

Dan: Yeah I agree especially with this song. A reoccurring theme in some of my parts is “And I just gotta keep on going, because I don’t know what else to do.” Keep on going, don’t give up.

How does this song fit into your plans moving forward? Does this address similar themes that will show up in your forthcoming EP?
Andrew: Yeah there are definitely a few reoccurring themes in the newer songs that can relate back to “Someone Like Me.” I’m especially into emphasizing the idea that you can and should always try to make the best of a bad situation no matter what the circumstances, and you’ll definitely be seeing some of those themes on the EP.

Dan: Based on what we’ve been writing I think that there are definitely going to be some similar themes coming out on the new record. I think that it’ll probably be a more positive writing style because I can speak for myself and say that I’m in a much better place than I was when we were writing “Someone Like Me” back in the fall. We’re different people and we’ve grown and learned a lot from our experiences and I hope a lot of that comes through in the newer material.

Does your new EP have an overarching theme, or does each track stand on its own?
Andrew: Each of the songs are definitely going to be their own entity, with a kind of loose theme stringing them together much like many of the songs we’ve written in the past.

Dan: I think that more than just the themes of the songs, we’re trying to make these songs sonically different, to an extent, from what we’ve done in the past. We don’t know exactly what the final product is going to sound like yet but we have a relatively good idea and I’m very excited about it.

Now that this video is out, what’s next for Makeshift?
Dan: We’re really excited to announce that we’re going to be recording a new record this June with Adam Cichocki at Timber Studios in New Jersey. Nothing is set in stone yet but we’re also hoping to have another tour in the books by the end of this summer. Getting the EP done and trying to push that as hard as we can is really the focus now, though.

Andrew: I’m really excited to be writing new material that I think people listening to our band will really love. We’re really trying our hardest to put out the best music we can make right now and can’t express how ecstatic I am to be able to present that to our listeners.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Dan: This is going to be our first official release since September of 2014 and we’ve all changed a lot since then. The band has a different lineup, the songs are written differently, and we’re just overall much different people who know a lot more about themselves, but at the same time are just as clueless as the 15 year olds that we were when we started the band. We love these songs and we hope everyone who hears them is going to love them just as much. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’m very excited for the future of Makeshift and can’t wait to see what we can do with it. **insert rock and roll hand emoji here**

Andrew: I just want to say that I can’t thank everyone who’s ever helped us enough; every individual contribution small and large has helped bring us to this point and hopefully will get us far beyond. I want people to know that we’ve grown a ton since we were just some kids trying to play music in my basement, and I hope that growth is felt on this upcoming record. Thank you all and thank you again. We’re so grateful for everything you’ve done for us. We’ll try our best not to let you down. I wanted to say a definite “we won’t let you down,” but I guess that remains to be seen.

Photo Credit: Aud Lew
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Envy On The Coast Announce Three Shows

>> Dreams do come true: Envy On The Coast will play three shows in August. That's right, folks - Envy is back! After performing a few of the band's classic tunes at a 1st Vows show in NYC last month (video 1 & video 2), vocalist Ryan Hunter and guitarist Brian Byrne have taken up the EOTC mantle and will carry on the group's legacy. 

>> While I'd love to call this a full reunion, that just isn't the case - Sal Bossio (guitar / vocals) released a statement explaining why he, Jeremy Velardi (bass), and Dan Gluszak (drums) will not be participating in these shows, which you can read in full here
"...Rest assured, our not being a part of these shows is not for lack of desire. We hold the legacy of this band near and dear to our hearts, as well as the decade of unwavering support and enthusiasm from the lifeblood of Envy On The Coast -- you guys, the fans. However, we do not want the public to be misled that this will be a full reunion with all five original members. 
We love all of you, we are forever grateful for your continued support, and nothing will ever change that. 
Sal, Jer and Dan"
>> The shows will take place in New York City, Long Island, and Boston, and tickets go on-sale Friday May 20th. More information can be seen below. (See you in the pit?)

Envy On The Coast 2016 Shows:
August 16 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall (Event Page)
August 18 - Huntington, NY @ The Paramount (Event Page)
August 20 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair (Event Page)

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Annalie Prime Releases Sweet Cover of Drake's "One Dance"

>> Trinidad's Annalie Prime just released a fresh reimagining of Drake's "One Dance," and it's downright lovely. Having just unveiled a truly charming lyric video for her original tune "Guns of Hysteria," Annalie is set on keeping fans entertained while further honing her skills. This artist skillfully infuses any tune with her signature upbeat tropical vibes, and we think listeners new and old will absolutely adore her take on this banger. Listen below! 

- Kate Russell
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Skylab 3 Releases "A View From Above" Video

>> With an affinity for storytelling and atmospheric tunes, Ben Frascina has been creating music that transcends reality under the moniker of Skylab 3. In working up to the release of his upcoming full-length album, titled A View From Above, this UK-based producer has unveiled a cinematic visual for a track of the same name.  "A View From Above" involves various ambient elements fit with moments that seem like intermissions between climaxes of sound. The song itself is entrancing in a peaceful yet progressive way, while the video tells a captivating story in a dramatic "neo-noir" fashion. Watch Skylab 3's latest video below.

>> A View From Above is available for pre-order now via iTunes. The full project is set to drop on June 10th through Babygrande Records.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Boys Like Girls Announce 10 Year Anniversary Tour

>> It's been ten years since Boys Like Girls released their self-titled album, and we still can't get "The Great Escape" out of our heads. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of their incredibly catchy debut, the band will be performing the album live in its entirety on a short run starting in August. VIP/pre-sale tickets will be available starting Tuesday 5/10 at 12PM EST with general tickets becoming available Friday 5/13 at 12PM local time via boyslikegirls.com.

>> Embrace the nostalgia with a video highlighting the band's beginnings, and check out the dates below:

Boys Like Girls Anniversary Tour Dates:
8/05 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues
8/06 - New York, NY @ Playstation Theater
8/07 - Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
8/10 - Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
8/11 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
8/12 - Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre

- Kate Russell

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