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Review: The Bronx (IV)

Photo by Lisa Johnson

If you were to ask a dedicated fan what “punk” means in 2013, you would probably receive a long-winded dissertation on innumerable subgenres. Make no mistake: this conversation might be interesting, but it is not informative. At its core, the spirit of punk has always entailed – in one form or another – the forging of an individual path in the midst of a sea of conformity. It has reveled in a promised escape from the drudgery of the nine to five existence, a comfortable suburban home, and the meaningless trappings of a materialistic middle class life. It rejects the enforcement of the status quo. It pushes ceaselessly back against mindless repetition. That is what punk still is.

What happens, then, when a punk band turns that same critical eye on its own career; a career built upon the inevitable and predictable annual cycles of album releases, touring, and promotion? The result is The Bronx (IV), if not the most ferocious album that Los Angeles’ The Bronx have released to date, then certainly the most self-reflective. Thankfully, singer Matt Caughthran‘s throat-tearing screams remain intact on this release. There is no restrained breathing, no Zen of Screaming here. Only what sounds like Caughthran practically bleeding through the microphone in feral glee. Continue reading ‘Review: The Bronx (IV)’

Review: Jim James’ ‘Regions of Light and Sound of God’

In 1964, during a single session in New Jersey, John Coltrane and his quartet recorded the entirety of A Love Supreme. The almost supernatural, single-minded focus required to produce such a complex piece of art in such a compact amount of time was a true manifestation of the spirit of the album. A statement of unity, concord, and appreciation for the mysterious workings of the higher power to which Coltrane credited his music, A Love Supreme was the sound of an artist cracking the door on the connection to his muse, and letting his listeners peer in at the light, if only for a second.

Regions of Light and Sound of God, the first solo album from My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, bears that same mark of divine connection. This is not to bluntly compare James to Coltrane, or even to suggest that it’s possible to compare them as artists. It is, nonetheless, recognizing the possibility that, as an unabashedly spiritual album, Regions of Light can be understood in much the same way as Coltrane’s masterpiece.

Continue reading ‘Review: Jim James’ ‘Regions of Light and Sound of God’’

Review: Blink-182′s ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’ EP

Three weeks after its release, many of you long-time Blink-182 fans have probably given a listen to their new 5-track EP, Dogs Eating Dogs. I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive putting my headphones on, as I was not too thrilled with the results of their 2011 reunion album, Neighborhoods. Recent press and interviews with the band, however, indicated a possible shift in the right direction. Drummer Travis Barker was quoted saying, “To me, this EP is a hundred times better than Neighborhoods.” The band realizing that there was something not quite right with the prior LP bode well for the EP. Neighborhoods was apparently recorded via file sharing, where each member individually worked their parts out and sent them back and forth, rather than working collectively. Having recently parted with their long-time label, Interscope Records, Blink hit the studio on their own for the first time since Flyswatter (throwback much?) and did so in traditional fashion – together, as a band.

Continue reading ‘Review: Blink-182′s ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’ EP’

OurStage’s End Of The World Playlist; Songs For The Apocalypse

Well, it’s about that time. Since the early 2000s, we’ve been hearing hushed whispers about the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012, and its supposed correlation with the end of days.

Although this date signifies the winter solstice, and NASA has assured us that all is well in outer space, it got us thinking. And you know what happens when we start thinking. We’ve gotta have tunes.

So without further adieu, here is our very own, one of a kind, end of the world playlist by the OurStage staff. Check it out right here and find the track list after the jump. Continue reading ‘OurStage’s End Of The World Playlist; Songs For The Apocalypse’

Review: Colbie Caillat’s ‘Christmas In The Sand’

When describing Christmas in the Sand, Colbie Caillat expressed the desire to make an album for those who don’t live in cold areas and can’t relate to songs about classic wintertime clichés like snow, chilly weather, and huddling around the fireplace. While the album does maintain a generally sunny disposition, it can’t help but feature standards like “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and original lyrics in Caillat’s contributions such as “It’s not Christmas / If the snow don’t fall.” Even though Christmas in the Sand is meant to be a Christmas album for those who spend most of their time in the sun or on the beach, it still seems obligated to retread the same ground as past holiday releases.  Of course, listeners instinctively understand this, but it is worth noting how Caillat’s motivation for recording the album and the way in which that motivation plays out, at times, incongruously with the original intent, highlights the difficulty inherent in recording a type of album that in its very nature defies innovation. Continue reading ‘Review: Colbie Caillat’s ‘Christmas In The Sand’’

ALBUM REVIEW: Ke$ha – Warrior

When sitting down to review Ke$ha’s latest album, Warrior, I found it impossible to resist digging into her catalog for research. Only three years have past since “Tik Tok” impacted radio waves around the world, but one look at the sales and popularity of this still young pop starlet and one might believe she’s at least hit the half decade point. The truth is, Kesha has only just begun to make her mark in pop music, and her latest effort proves there is much (MUCH) more glitter and innuendo awaiting us in years to come.

If you have never experienced Kesha outside of the radio singles, you need to be prepared for a slightly different experience when reaching for one of her albums. While the glitter-loving songstress is known for packing many potential singles on her releases, usually including some of her awkward attempts at rapping, each album is also stuffed with progressive material that makes it clear Kesha could do so much more with her career if desired. Warrior makes this more evident than ever, with only a handful of cuts coming across like disposable radio tracks, and I don’t want to get hopes too high here, but there is a cohesion to the glam pop queen’s efforts this time around that leads one to believe there is a much grander vision at play than we’ve been told.

Kicking things off by blending her newer sound with songwriting elements fans will find familiar, “Warrior,” kicks off Kesha’s new album with all the glory and pizazz a pop record deserves. The hook is huge, the rhymes about club life are intact, and the attitude is second-to-none. This is what I like to call “typical Kesha,” and it’s never executed more slickly than on Warrior. As you dig through the hit “Die Young,” as well as the early leak “C’Mon,” it becomes clearer and clearer that there is an evolution taking place within Kesha’s sound. She’s still very rooted in dance floor singles, and that will likely never change, but the focus on well-written lyrics and wordplay has never been stronger. Tracks like “Dirty Love,” “All That Matters,” and “Love Into The Light” offer more substance than Kesha’s entire debut album, and that’s on the extreme end of the spectrum. There is actual replay value to the whole, and I don’t just mean on the radio.

Warrior is real pop music, albeit complimented with a disposable facade, and it will sell to a ridiculous amount of music listeners with little effort. Some longtime fans will hate her new sound, and others will continue to not “get it,” but anyone listening to this album with an open mind is destined to discover a pop record that could go on to rival Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream in terms of lasting ability and pop cultural impact. 2013 will be the year of Ke$ha, and with a record like this there is no reason she shouldn’t find herself atop the Billboard charts for weeks, if not months to come.

 

If you enjoy Ke$ha, be sure to check out OS artist Casey Desmond!

Review written by: James Shotwell

Soundtrax: Punk Goes Pop

We’re big fans of catchy hooks here at OurStage, but they aren’t just for the Britneys and Ke$has of the world. This mix highlights some of our favorite pop punk sing-a-longs, including tracks from OurStage artists Letterday, Junior Doctor, and LoveSick Radio.

The Pulse: EDM Roundup

The Pulse is a new, weekly blog dedicated to all things EDM. Join us as we keep our fingers on the pulse of the ever-changing landscape of Electronic Dance Music.

To kick off this new edition to the OurStage magazine, we’ve collected some of the biggest tunes to hit dance floors over the past few months, highlighting some of the new genre break-offs that have emerged while still giving due credit to the styles that proceeded them.

 

The Pulse: EDM Roundup from OurStage on 8tracks Radio.


Continue reading ‘The Pulse: EDM Roundup’

Metal Monday: Saille Return With Ritu

For longtime readers, repeated features on some of OurStage’s best metal bands will come as no surprise–if an OurStage band keeps doing awesome things, I’ll keep featuring them. Well, that time as come again as we’re approaching the release of Saille‘s new album, Ritu, set to release in early 2013. For those new to Saille, they’re a black metal band from Belgium who began their journey in 2008. As of now they have release one full-length album, Irreversible Decay and have played a number of shows in their home country.

Ritu appears to pick up stylistically right where Irreversible Decay left the band. Falling dead-on with the classic orchestral black metal of legends like Emperor’s early material or along the lines of Satyricon/s catalog. Catastropic, noisy guitars, grand orchestral crescendos, prototypical rasping vocals and blast beats for days can all be found throughout Ritu in standard black metal style. Saille don’t often appear to be looking to break the mold on Ritu, but the odd moments when they find themselves a bit out of the black metal character are also quite enjoyable–such as the bridge of “Haunter of the Dark” where there’s a dreamy passage filled with piano that leads directly into another black metal march. Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: Saille Return With Ritu’

Soundtrax: California Dreamin’

With winter just around the bend, it’s hard not to wish you were out where the palm trees grow and the beach is hot year-round. As we head into the season of snow, let’s kick back and dream about California with eight pop songs that feature the state’s name. This mix features OurStage artists Ron Pope, Natalie Creel and Big Bottom.

 


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