Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Album Review – Stages & Stereos “Small Town Favorites”

Last week the day I’ve been waiting for finally arrived. Stages & Stereos released their new album, Small Town Favorites. We’ve already heard the title track single, which was fantastic, but barely skimmed the surface of what the EP had to offer.

It’s five tracks of excellence all reminding me, not of Mayday Parade (as Stages has in the past) but of the elite alternative rockers of radio fame. I could hear these songs being played alongside groups like Phoenix or The Naked and Famous.

“Cool to be Vain” has a groovy dance feel to it, and while I tend to rebel against a produced synth backing, it gives this song depth like it should. It’s more than just a dance song, not with the first line of the chorus being “I want to smile like I used to”. But all it does is add to the feel, the song that drags you in like a perfect first track should.

“Coup de Grace” is exactly what it says it is. It’s a gorgeous takeover of your senses that completely envelops you. And that takeover? You’ll be fine with it. Let it take you away.

My two favorite tracks on the EP are fighting for first, every time I listen to them the experience is different. How do you pick between two wonderful songs that are beautifully written for every strength of the band? “Even Tides” in addition to be crisply and impressively sung, is nostalgic, reminding you of the nights you stayed up too late because you could and because the reasons you had to stay up were worth it, where you finally yourself, even if only for a few moments. You know that feeling, when you’re finally home after one of the better nights of your life and you know it’s going to be one of those nights you remember for forever and you feel completely comfortable in your skin? “Even Tides” brings you back to those moments, to that feeling, again and again.

I’d heard “1990” before at the acoustic show a few weeks ago, but the album version is something close to perfection. It’s proof positive (as if the rest of the EP isn’t enough) that Stages & Stereos is better than almost everyone else in the business, both those groups huge on the circuit they’re in or those groups gracing the radio waves. Daniel’s unique sound as lead vocalist is used in ways that it hasn’t been yet and it’s the perfect combination. The whole song gives that sense of spinning, being lost in a feeling, in a moment, that spins around like a carousel.

It’s the kind of music that doesn’t just get blasted out of car stereos, it’s the kind of music that becomes the soundtrack to your life and all your favorite moments.

Small Town Favorites is an indicator that one of my favorite small bands won’t be small anymore. Really debuting this music on the Glamour Kills tour (which starts soon!) will rope in fans left and right. It’s only going to get bigger and better from here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Concert - Our Last Night and Lions, Lions

It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I discovered Our Last Night because the two frontmen (brothers Matt and Trevor Wentworth) are models for Johnny Cupcakes. I did dig a little deeper and investigated their actual music, which falls squarely into post-hardcore. It’s a great genre and a solid scene but honestly it’s not really my scene (as often as I dabble there and sometimes wish it was). But the best discovery I made? Their acoustic tracks on YouTube. That I can get behind.

If you’re only going to watch one video, I’d choose their cover of “Skyfall”, the James Bond theme by Adele. It is shockingly good. Their reinterpretation of her ballad into a rock song is something I never would have thought of, but these brothers can handle the vocal challenges without batting an eye. I’ve mentioned the series of other covers they released this summer as part of their “Summer of Covers” lead up to the new album they’re working on and those are worth checking out as well (my other favorite is definitely the re-working of Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors”).

When they announced they were touring with Lions, Lions I was excited to see a Georgia date at The Seven in Douglasville. It was a no-brainer that I was making the forty-five minute trek to the sleazy looking shopping center that houses The Seven to see them. Even if I had to go alone.

Armed with my camera and an urge to make friends, I headed out to see two bands that I know are great and I was determined to have a good time. I ended up chatting with band guys before the show, and eventually thoroughly enjoying myself through two fantastic sets.

I hadn’t seen Lions, Lions since a trip to Boston for a show at the end of the Blue Line (that’s an OLD post, fyi). I knew I was in for good time and it was one heck of a night. Even in a small setting, front man Josh worked his heart out and put on a great set. While I’ve known who they are for years now, I’ve never really sat down and gave their music a true listen. I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll be seeing them next time they’re in town for sure.

Lions, Lions 10

Lions, Lions 5

Lions Lions 12

Next up was Our Last Night and I was hooked instantly. They opened with “Fate” which I thankfully knew (the acoustic version is amazing, but the full band version is pretty great too). Their set list included “Skyfall” and every other song I knew by them that wasn’t a cover. (Of which there were about four, but that’s not the point.) They put on a fantastic show. Matt’s pure vocals are just as pristine live as it is on the recorded tracks. Trevor’s energy is incredible and contagious, even in the small crowd. Being at a hardcore type show, I was anxious of getting hit but hid in a corner right up at the stage. I loved having him wander towards my end of the stage, and found myself jumping along, totally in the groove.

Our Last Night 15

Our Last Night 23

Our Last Night 3

Our Last Night 1

Our Last Night 12

Our Last Night 16

If these guys come to your town, take a chance on them and get to the show. Hell, I’ll be there every time they are somewhere I can get to easily. They’ll be in Atlanta this December and it’s already on the calendar. I’m glad they’ll be playing the Masquerade this time since it’s a slightly better venue (and closer to home). Even though I don’t know the other bands, I’ll be hitting it up for a little bit at least. If you’re there, keep an eye out for me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A friend sent me this link today:

It seemed odd at first but ended up being this neat interactive thing that eventually leads to a video. It’s pretty darn cool, but I’m mostly intrigued by the song that’s playing in the background. Whatever it is, it’s great. If you happen to know, post it as a comment below.

I’ll let you know if I find out more, but check it out now, let me know what you think!

Concert - Stages and Stereos Acoustic Show

If you follow this blog then you should already know about Stages and Stereos. This fall is shaping up to be a great season for them with their latest single, “Small Town Favorites” dropping a few weeks ago. In case you couldn’t guess, I already love it. They also got picked up as the opener on the Glamour Kills tour with some other names you might know: Mayday Parade, Cartel, and Man Overboard.

The new EP of the same name, Small Town Favorites, drops on September 24, aka this Tuesday! I’ll be out of town when it drops, but I’m looking forward to downloading it the moment I get back. If the first tune was any indicator of what the rest of the album might be, it’s going to be great.

Stages recently came through town to play an intimate acoustic set while supporting Brooks from Mayday Parade’s side project Truth and Consequences. Despite it being an acoustic show, the full band was there, including surprise guest Alex Reed from Go Radio supporting on vocals and keys. Rumor has it he’ll also be touring with the guys this fall on the Glamour Kills Tour, filling in the spot left by former band member Austin’s departure, but for now we know he’s supporting the album release show on Saturday (9/21) in Tallahassee.

The venue they played, Swayze’s, is the north end of town’s version of The Seven. A bit of a trek and an odd place stuck in a strip mall, it’s not a bad venue though with decent acoustics and there’s not a bad spot in the place. It’s also all ages, specifically geared towards the local youth (like The Seven).

The re-vamping of old songs was something else entirely. Going acoustic is nothing new to the Stages guys. We’ve heard what they can do on their acoustic EP, but this particular set took it to a different level. The intimacy of the venue and tone of the show made it feel as if you were loitering around a living room at a house party, listening to your friends jam a little instead of standing in front of a stage. We got a nice surprise when they played a stripped down and jazzy version of “1990”, one of the other songs off the Small Town Favorites EP. Getting the acoustic sample just made me all the more eager to hear the studio version.

I’m pumped to see them again in a month when they roll through town again supporting Mayday Parade (remember, Glamor Kills), but there’s also that bittersweet feeling that this might be the last small venue, intimate show we get from them, so I’m cherishing it. Until then, I’ll be spending my time memorizing the new EP so I can sing along without missing a beat.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Song From Ghost Thrower "Halloween In Brooklyn"

Mostly, I'm just going to put this here:

I can talk about how good the new Ghost Thrower track, "Halloween in Brooklyn", is, how their sound has changed a little, but in a good way, how Travis' voice has gotten better, all of that. But you can tell that just by listening to it.

I can talk about the video itself, which is a series of photos and moments from over the years, many of which I've seen on instagram or twitter, shots of friends, and maybe even a show or two I was actually at. I can talk about how I've never been so jealous of a friend group in my life, because they seem like they have fun. Lots of it. But I'm guessing you're feeling the same way.

What I want to talk about is how you need to mark your calendars. The self-titled full length that this track is on will be available October 15th on iTunes. You'll need that.

Get ready. Get miserable.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cage the Elephant Releases New Single "Come a Little Closer"

I haven't talked about them much, but my old friends from Cage the Elephant have just finished up studio time on their newest album. They also released the first single off the album.

I've known these guys in some form of the band for well over a decade, having gone to school with frontman Matt, guitarist Brad and drummer Jared. I first got into shows watching these guys play a coffee house in our home town. I guess I have them to blame for all you see before you. Maybe blame isn't the right word either.

That said, the new track is fantastic. As always, CTE goes off on their own way, doesn't bother with whatever they did before this moment and just pushes forward with what's new, what they're feeling. And apparently they're feeling amazing things.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

I'm definitely looking forward to catching them opening for Muse in a little less than a month, even if I am amazed that I'll be at an arena show, watching the guys who used to play coffee shops and state fairs, but that's the dream right? I couldn't be more proud.

Songs from Stages and Stereos and Jocelyn Available Today

Two new songs went up on iTunes today, be sure to pick them up! 

First up is the newest single from Stages and Stereos, "Small Town Favorites" which I featured here just the other day. Make sure you pick it up and jam out until the EP comes out next month. 

Also up today is Jocelyn's new track "Miss America" which is also a preview for their upcoming EP as well. I'm definitely digging the sound if the new tune and can't wait for more. 


Monday, August 12, 2013

Introducing - TEAM

Last night, the elusive members of the band TEAM took to the Gunz Show and finally revealed their identities. The announcement captured quite a bit of attention, considering the band is comprised mostly of former/current members of other bands. Most notably around this blog is Bryan Donahue, ex bassist of Boys Like Girls who spent the spring touring with All Time Low. Also in the mix are Caleb Turman (Forever the Sickest Kids), Rico Garcia (Colours), Jay Vilardi (The Almost) and Ally Hoffmann.

You can get caught up with the interview Gunz did with Caleb and Rico below.

The rumors I’d heard about this project had me excited for what was to come and to hear things announced properly. The first track and the accompanying video can be seen here:

They’re both awesome and made me an instant fan.

If you happen to live in Texas, be sure to make it out to one of the two shows they have on the books. I definitely recommend it, you won’t be disappointed. You can also pick up the single, “Am I Alive” on iTunes.

Music for Monday - Sleep On It

There's something new brewing out of Chicago, IL and I have the pleasure of knowing one of the guys in the new pop punk group Sleep On It. They're currently working on a studio album, but you can check out the demos they've already put together on their bandcamp or right here.

I'm not the biggest fan of "Out in the Cold" because it's a bit too Blink 182 for me, but even if you don't dig it, stick it out and give the other two tracks a shot. They're less trite and definitely full of potential. Think something a little like A Loss For Words meets Man Overboard maybe? It's a throwback to how the genre used to sound, which is actually kind of nice. I love the direction that pop punk has taken, but it's nice to throw it back a from time to time. I'm looking forward to seeing what the studio versions sound like.

Check it out, tell me what you think, then hit them up.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stages and Stereos - New EP and Tour Update!

I've mentioned the guys from Stages and Stereos before, but not with a stack of news like this. They've got a new EP coming out next month! The single off the EP "Small Town Favorites" is up on Sound Cloud and will be available on iTunes next week!

It might be a deviation from the Anchorless EP, but if you go back and listen to the older Stages and Stereos, this seems like a completely natural progression. The vocals are just as stunning though as Anchorless, possibly even more refined. I definitely take to this song, being from a small town as well and knowing the exact feeling in the message and lyrics, but I think it's relatable for anyone who's wanted to be more.

The guys will also be be hitting the road in the Florida/Georgia area for a couple of shows, supporting Truth or Consequence (a side project from Brook Betts of Mayday Parade). I'll be hitting the Atlanta show for sure.

If that's not headed your way, don't fret. Just last week it was announced that they'll be supporting Mayday Parade as part of the Glamour Kills Tour. Also on the line up is Man Overboard and Cartel. As if you even had to ask, I'll be there as well.

While any tour is a big deal, in a way this one is bigger. There's obvious ties between Mayday and Stages, including front man, Daniel Lancaster's, voice backing brother Jason on "Jamie All Over" off the studio album, but this isn't just any old friends getting together to tour. The unsigned band out of Tallahassee is taking their show on the road, joining up with three of the hardest working bands in the genre. I don't think there's a moment when Mayday isn't on tour, I knew Man Overboard's logo long before I fell into their sound. And Cartel, you know them from when they released Chroma almost a decade ago. It's huge news, and I couldn't be happier.

Get out there and catch these guys in concert and trust me, you won't be let down. And get your hands on the EP when it comes out next month!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Our Last Night - Summer of Covers

I've got a new band that had caught my eyes and ears (yes eyes too) and while my inner rager kid loves a good screaming song, they massively pulled me in with their covers.

I know.

Covers you say. They aren't creative. They aren't original. Fair enough but there's something original about turning Rhianna's "Stay" into an alt rock, dueling vocals masterpiece. There is. So far they've dropped covers of "Stay" and Justin Timberlake's "Mirror" into songs I actually enjoy. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Then give the rest of their stuff a listen. You won't regret it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Is Fall Out Boy Saving Rock and Roll?

At first listen to the new Fall Out Boy album Save Rock and Roll I was hooked. More than hooked probably. It's possible that if you live in the Atlanta area, you've seen me, windows rolled down jamming out to the single off the album "My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)". I love that song. It's catchy and dark and angry and it's fantastic loud and with the windows down as summer finally starts to find its way here.

I like the entire album actually. There are a few things I could have gone without. I'm not sure why Big Sean was needed on "The Mighty Fall" unless you subscribe to the notion that in order to be a Top 40 hit, every son needs a rap interlude (or turns into whatever it is that Nelly did to "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line--which by the way wasn't a good song to begin with). Since I don't that annoyed me, but the actual lyrics to the rap interlude to amuse me and it is good even if the song doesn't need it.

I maybe wouldn't have gone with Courtney Love. Yes, she was chic rock of the 90s, with Hole and being married to the heart of rock and roll at the time. (Agree with that or not but you know ever 90s rocker kid had a soft spot for Kurt Cobain even if it was just because he was the first person to make them feel something.) But her post-Kurt life looks quite a bit like Lindsay Lohan's trainwreck of a life (though at least Courtney has good reason and not 'Disney made me popular' a la Miss Lohan) and the kids we need to save rock and roll for don't remember when. Sometimes I don't think they even can. Of course what are your other options? Gwen Stefani who is farther removed from the Tragic Kingdom rocker girl days than her husband Gavin-used-to-be-in-a-rock-band-Rosdale. (You know my friends went to a Bush show and threw bras at the stage. It's weird to think of that.) So maybe Courtney is the only choice and maybe she's right. I sure as hell associate with what her lyrics were saying. Who cares about what the kids think?

On a whole though, that seems to be the tone. It's not Take This To Your Grave. It's not even close. I watched my younger friends all but murder and maim to get tickets to the new tour this spring, pre-order the album and flip out about the reunion. Then, a few days after the album came out, one friend tweeted me "It's not the same".

She's right. It's not.

It's not even in the same ballpark. Because Fall Out Boy isn't the same angsty teens running around Warped Tour like these kids who love them are. They grew up. They have lives, families. They watched friends in the business, leave the business for "real" lives. They were honored as ushering in rock and roll to pop music when it was devoid of it then hung out to dry by the media overplaying the shit out of their singles. Their bassist played a love interest on One Tree Hill. More than once. As himself. It was cool to hate FOB and cooler to give those of us the same age as the band shit for liking them.

How on earth can you hope for an album about young love and hurting like hell?

No, this album is for those of us in our late twenties, to plug into and remember that we aren't alone. Other people feel the same way. It's been a long while since someone over 25 i has been on the pop charts singing about what it feels like to be over 25. Songs like "Miss Missing You" and "Alone Together' aren't songs about college hook ups. They're something beyond that, a step that comes after.

The kids won't get it.

They won't understand the way "Young Volcanoes" reminds me of "Here I am Alive" by Yellowcard and an attitude towards the industry. (I could be wrong here, but damnit they do remind me of one another in tone).

So it begs the question, are they doing it? Are Fall Out Boy Saving Rock and Roll?:


Not even close. I give saving rock and roll, but I'd rather give that credit to bands like THe Wonder Years or The Swellers. Bands that can fill a room full of 17 year old boys yelling and feeling things. Not Fall Out Boy.

That said, I do think they are saving pop music. At least until they release that Big Sean track as a single.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jocelyn Release New Song, "Hold On to This"

Jocelyn, my new favorite midwest band, just released a new song to compliment the existing EP they've been peddling the past year, and "Hold On To This" doesn't disappoint.

A lovely song, full of truthful, cutting lyrics and beautiful music. This band is going to blow up so huge and I can't wait to see it.

Check out the lyric video and then follow it up with picking up the tune on iTunes (Starting at 12am EST tonight!).

Nothing these guys do is a disappointment and they're easily some of the nicest guys I've met in the music world so far. Easily. Give it a listen and let your night get better.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Best of 2012

It's that time of year again (or a little past it), where I break down my bests of the year.

All in all, it was a good year. There were a lot of greats that started with a trek to Boston and seeing my favorites The Tower and The Fool for two shows in 3 days and seeing a ton of friends. But that was just one (well 2) show. There was so much more.

Top 2102 Albums

I had more than one album I was anticpiating but didn't see (especially from my small bands) and one snuck in at the last moment. There were some that I was excited about and just disappointed by altogether (can you say Boys Like Girls). But there was quite a bit of good. So, in no particular order:

The Tower and The Fool - "How Long"
I'm still in love with this one even after all this time. It's quintessential sad music and fantastic on top of it. Definitely give the vinyl a listen if you can.

Go Radio - "Close the Distance"
Every single track on this album is great. This band has come a long way since "Do Overs and Second Chances" and they're still doing amazing things. There's been a lot of chatter about bands growing up and this is a band doing it right.

Yellowcard - "Southern Air"
I'm still happy that Yellowcard is back, more happy that this album takes a grow up turn as well. Their last album touched on more adult topics, but I definitely feel myself relating to "Southern Air" as a late 20-something than almost anything else I've heard lately. That's a good thing.

Matchbox Twenty - "North"
Cheesy radio music, maybe, but Matchbox has been one of my favorites since their debut somewhere around when I was in high school. Their new release, which I was highly anticipating doesn't let down. It's true to their sound, not caving to be one the radio because tthey're MB20. They do what they want. And it's beautiful.

William Beckett - the EP trio
William dropped 3 EPs this year and everything on them is great. He's taking a familiar feel and making it something new entirely. I'm excited to see what else comes from him.

Imagine Dragons - "Night Visions"
I added this at the last minute because I got it about 4 days ago but I already love it. It's a fantastic album that makes me wish my life had a movie soundtrack (and maybe was an action movie)

Ghost Thrower / Foreign Tongues - Split EP
This one slid in at the last minute too since it just came out. I was hoping for new Ghost Thrower tunes this year and though I'd never listened to Foreign Tongues, I'm a convert now. The split is great and I love where Ghost Thrower is going sound-wise.

Honorable Mentions: The Lumineers, Fun., The Maine, Of Monsters and Men

What did I miss?

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