It’s summer. In most places, this means it’s hot and sticky and the sun is blazing high in the sky. Now, what commemorates hot summer weather better than twelve blistering, fiery metal songs? Outside of a cold drink, nothing compliments hot weather more than uptempo guitar solos and swift guitar riffs. The playlist below features a whole bunch of metal genres, from old school heavy thrash to power metal to brutal death metal, all of which have pretty killer guitar work. You’ll find some OurStage classics on this playlist, like Georgia’s Dead to the World, and maybe a band you didn’t know was on OurStage (Revocation). Check it out, and get your head bang on.
“Eternal Deception” by Solerrain
“Brain In A Bullet” by Endangered Pirates From Outer Space
“Parting From The Shade” by Dead To The World
“10,000 Broken Bodies” by The Spittin’ Cobras
“Paradox” by Forever Storm
“Patrons of Humanity” by The Bridal Procession
“Feed The Darkness” by Maniacal
“Cold Rapture” by Fell On Black Days
“Summon The Spawn” by Revocation
“Unattained” by Revocation
“Beneath the Flesh” by Absolute Vengeance
“Abandon Mortal Pestilence” by After The Burning
Women have played a critical role in the evolution of hip hop; Queen Latifah, Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj, to name a few, have all left distinguishable marks. In 2008, the Hip Hop Culture Center in Harlem recognized their importance with its first annual tribute event called “The Impact of Women in Hip Hop”. Our very own fast-growing pool of female talent, living in the Hip Hop Channels on OurStage, also deserves some love, and we thought that featuring a playlist with a few of them was apropos.
Another exciting artist to follow is @Ibtunes. This Houston sensation has opened for Drake, J. Cole and Wale and was featured as the Unsigned Band of the Month in this past March’s edition of High Times Magazine. She’s also been doing very well on OurStage this year; take a minute to check out some of her mixtapes here. I mean, c’mon, they’re free!
The Lyrical Maze is another one to keep your eye on. Given her childhood interest in writing and poetry, TLM is aptly named. Her confidence on the mic is not surprising either—she’s been competing in and winning talent contests since she was thirteen. More recently, she’s transferred these skills into live performances and even a headlining slot at the NWO Word Warriors Tour. This interview with Female First sheds some more light on the person behind the music.
The Lyrical Maze
Tracks by these women, along with other female artists, are included in the player below. We’re proud of their achievements, and we’re sure there’s something here for everyone. Do any of these tracks really stand out to you? Write us a comment and tell us why.
Times, they are changing. Luckily for us, Hate Eternal are keeping up with their tried and true death metal ways on their new album Phoenix Amongst The Ashes. For all those who believe that pure death metal is dead and gone, Hate Eternal is serving another reminder that naysayers are just plain wrong. Whether you like it technical, brutal, thrashy or raw and ungarnished—Hate Eternal will bring it.
Death metal isn’t exactly known as a “singles” market, but that doesn’t mean bands avoid songs that are as strong as any single should be. In Hate Eternal’s case, they’ve compiled ten songs that are all pretty worthy of being called a “single” and put them end to end. No filler material, no interludes—only a short intro to the album which means listeners get about forty minutes of great death metal without a single break. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you probably don’t like metal as much as you thought you did.
What really separates Phoenix Amongst The Ashes from its colleagues and predecessors, however, is the mixture between the backup and main vocals. They’ve evolved from being the traditional main/backup roles into being more about a different vocal sound and a change of pace. Rather than have vocalist Erik Rutan constantly supplying guttural growls, bassist JJ Hrubovcak is supplying a powerful bark on many of the tracks, often times during the chorus, to emphasize the change of pace.
Not that you would expect anything else, but the technicality of Hate Eternal’s performance on this record is exquisite. Every single guitar note, drum hit, etc. are about as clean as you can get without sounding completely robotic or inhuman (though I’m still not convinced the members of the band aren’t some sort of androids). With machine-like precision guiding them, the vocals and guitar solos provide the band with raw emotion and nuance.
Phoenix Amongst The Ashes is almost certainly Hate Eternal’s most solid and dense work to date, and is so without sacrificing quality of content. Surpassing each of their previous four works, Phoenix Amongst The Ashes is another strong contender for metal album of the year, or at the very least, death metal album of the year. You can snag this great album from places like iTunes or Amazon.
Overall score: 9/10
For fans of: Origin, Krisiun, Necrophagist, The Faceless, Nile, Suffocation and other really great death metal acts.
Enjoy this promo video by Metal Blade Records for the album, which includes the song “Haunting Abound”
After one listen to Mysterious Power (Red Parlor Records) it’s not hard to imagine twenty-four-year-old singer/songwriter Ezra Furman hopping a freight train with a bindle stick over his shoulder and a tattered copy of Thoreau in his back pocket. The recently released album, recorded with his backup band, the Harpoons, fits neatly into pantheon of the American road record. Over the course of the record, we visit New York City, Kokomo, Indiana, Colorado Springs, Boston, Chicago, the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. In “Don’t Turn Your Back on Love” he muses on an object of affection: “Something about her reminds me of the United States/Sprawling across the West in all their glory.” But Mysterious Power is an album that feels like it was born out of no era. Furman references 1950s doo-wop, pre-electric Dylan, The Ramones and early millennium anti-folk, but it pulsates with the energy of the mythical, and is therefore, simultaneously a tribute to the American road record, but also an implicit rebuke to its hagiography. As Furman sings in “Portrait of Maud”: “The tumbleweeds have changed into plastic shopping bags, and the buffalo are dead and there’s nowhere left to expand”—make no mistake, he has come to bury the road record, not to praise it.
If the wandering road is a conspicuous presence on Mysterious Power it’s likely because Furman wrote it during a period that he felt homeless. Furman attended Tufts University (like other notable indie acts The Physicals, Tracy Chapman and Guster), but frequently felt aimless while there. “A lot of people at Tufts would tell you, ‘I’m preparing to do big things’ and I always felt like an underachiever, a little unfocused.” After graduating, he moved around a lot and was robbed a couple of times—once by a random roommate who took his checkbook and tried to spend $10 at a time at Stop & Shop. “When you feel like a wanderer, you build a spiritual place (hopefully) to survive. That’s what Mysterious Power is about.”
Despite increasingly gaining kudos from the music cognoscenti (Paste recently called him “a first-rate original storyteller”), Furman can’t help but remain critical of his work—particularly his lyrics. He seeks “the graceful calm and elegant simplicity of Buddy Holly” and bemoans “I can never keep it that clean and elegant—I’m always too nervous and trying to squeeze in too many syllables. I was listening to Sam Cooke the other day and it was just painful. Why am I not able to do this?”
Though he may be a long way from Sam Cooke, Furman has already established himself as a gifted songwriter. “I believe in tone,” Furman tells me. “The first Dylan record I ever heard was Blonde on Blonde and it took me a long time to realize that everyone notices the words, but to me, he’s using words as fillers. It almost doesn’t matter what he says as much as the breath and tone and the way he’s speaking, which gives you a cinematic sweep. He can sound like Homer or a Romantic poet, but the point is that the rhythm of words matters more than the words themselves.”
Maybe it’s unfair to ask a wandering troubadour like Furman what the future looks like to him. Half expecting him to answer, “Plastics,” I ask him where he’d like to be five years from now.
“I have no plan,” he tells me. “Who knows, maybe I’ll just say, ‘I Quit. I’m Movin’ On.’”
Chest thumping, heart pounding, flying by the seat of your pants—these are attributes that some of the best rock and electronic music have in common. We’ve covered the rockers who like to occasionally jam on an 808 before in The Beat Generation, but what about the musicians that synthesize their proclivities for rock and electronica? Digital rock, as a subgenre, probably has the longest and most fleshed out history of any category of electronic music. (Not the coolest though, that’s a fight between Chicago house and Detroit techno.) From the late ’70s on, from new wave to dance-punk, rock and electronica have co-habitated in harmony. Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, Culture Club, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, The Postal Service, Justice. Those guys sound familiar? Sure, it’s a wide umbrella, but that just means that with digital rock—or electro rock or synth rock or whatever—there’s something for everyone to love.
Which brings us to today’s post. We put together a little playlist of some of our favorite OurStage digital rockers for your listening pleasure this weekend afternoon. So sit back, relax and enjoy, dear reader. You’ve earned it.
We may be a little early for Hispanic Heritage month, but hey, who’s counting. We’ve got so many talented Latino rappers on OurStage that it would be shameful not to feature some of our brightest stars. And let’s face it—Spanish hip hop is huge sub genre with a passionate following. Starting primarily in Puerto Rico in the late ’80s, Spanish hip hop took off quickly and became popular in the US as well. Kid Frost’s hit “La Raza,” according to Icess Fernandez, was essentially the Latino equivalent of “Rapper’s Delight.” If by this he means that “La Raza” helped kickstart the whole genre, he’s right.
MTV DEMO’s Hip Hop y Rap Channel is gaining a lot of momentum. MTV DEMO is the localized version of OurStage, produced in partnership with MTV Latin America to give Latin artists a place to call home. Artists like Numbiz, LIRICART and Fanp, for example, are tearing it up with fiery determination. Even if you don’t speak the language, we encourage you to check out the channel and judge for a while. If you’re skeptical, then give this playlist a listen. It features songs by Numbiz, LIRICART, Fanp and a few others that have been stirring up a lot of excitement lately. Have some suggestions of your own? Let us know!
We’ve had some fun, but all good things must come to an end and the Guitar Center’s “Your Next Record with Travis Barker” Song Competition is no exception. Now, Fans, you have a job to do! Your judging could be the deciding voice that helps one artist get a $10,000 shopping spree at Guitar Center and the chance to record with the one and only Travis Barker. Don’t think that helping out your favorite artist is your only reward though. For judging in the channel, fans have a chance at some awesome swag. Each week, one lucky fan who judges in the competition wins an autographed OCDP snare drum head from Mr. Barker himself. Pretty sweet, right? Well there’s still one week left to judge, so you have one last chance to win! Get yourself over to the channel now and let your voice be heard by May 15th! Helping out the bands you love and winning some one of a kind gear along the way? Doesn’t get much better than that. Check out the playlist below to get a taste of the kind of music you can discover while judging.
These days, the dance-punk/nu-disco/electropop/synth-rock/whatever scene is a crowded one. Between Cut Copy, Hot Chip, MGMT, the late LCD Soundsystem and countless others of their ilk, it must be hard to make yourself known in the crowd. Holy Ghost! probably understood this when they released their self-titled debut. Sure, they might have a leg up or two on some other bands in the scene. Holy Ghost! are on DFA Records, a label whose reputation goes without saying. Also, the group has been kicking around for some time already, releasing a string of singles and an EP since 2007. As far as “new” or “debut” artist go, they’re in a unique position; they’re a New York City band that has watched their local sound go global over the past few years. What was once the purview of the hip set, the kids in the clubs and discotheques is now a hot, popular sound. The stakes are higher.
So kudos to Holy Ghost, then. On their debut, Holy Ghost!, the group (made up by production duo Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser) come off as the definition of poised—their music buffed to a shine. They’ve taken the time to hone their craft and it shows. Every delay effect, every high-hat hit, comes off as being right where it should be. This is not the drippy psych synth of MGMT, the flamboyant, grandiose electro of Cut Copy or the careening, splashy pop of Phoenix (all bands that Holy Ghost! have remixed in the past). Holy Ghost! is polished, reverential and somewhat understated in their approach which is a breath of fresh air.
The album starts off with “Do It Again” which sets the tone well for the rest of the record. The ’80s are strong in this one as the beat pulsates along and “something’s going on but I don’tknow where” as we “put the windows down, scream it out, really tune it out“. The track would make for good music to listen to while cruising in a top-down Delorean, if only such a thing existed. Lyrically, Holy Ghost! is suitably nervy with a narrator often speaking to some paramour who’s intent we can only question. The songs often imploring the listener to “do it again,” and or wanting to go back and “change it all”. The songs themselves, dancey and melodic (as they should be) also come off as tightly wound and occasionally claustrophobic. Take the opening of “Hold On”, with drums borrowed from disco circa ’79, hand claps and oodles of synth delay. All that and it’s dripping with tension.
Their aforementioned reverentialism is another wrinkle which adds to the groups appeal. The record features guest spots from the likes of Luke Jenner (lead singer from The Rapture), contemporary blog darling Penguin Prison and the legendary Michael McDonald. Yes, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, that Michael McDonald. What’s even more of a testament to Holy Ghost! is how natural all these singers sound on their tracks. Like on “Some Children” with McDonald owning the hook and a full choir moving in and out of the mix.
Frankel and Millhiser don’t let their zealousness or their craft get in the way of wanting to make their audience move. “Wait and See”, “Hold My Breath” and “Jam for Jerry” all are all well crafted dance gems. “Jerry”, the highlight of the record, is the busiest and swingingest production and also acts as an a rather touching ode for late drummer and friend of the band Jerry Fuchs. “We dropped our records at the scene” the song goes, “writing numbers on our hands/ out of batteries/ called the cops called a car/ called up friends called up relatives still in the dark“.
So it’s fair to say that Holy Ghost! cover a lot of bases. The group has a lot of potential and here’s hoping that they don’t take another four years to pound out a followup. One has to wonder how the band behaves in a live setting (this reviewer hasn’t had the pleasure of catching them in person). With a full backing band in a small club and a dedicated audience ready to move, I’d have to imagine that Holy Ghost! would make you sweat.
The evolution of Atmosphere continues with The Family Sign, their dark and intimate sixth album released in mid-April. Sure, Sean Daley, better known as Slug, has gotten a lot more serious since his last two releases, but don’t sell the album short just because there are a few luke-warm reviews out there. This time around, Slug and Anthony Davis, aka Ant, are partnered up with keyboardist Erick Anderson and guitarist Nate Collis, and they really bring a new element to the group. The fourteen track album is riddled with floating piano and heartfelt guitar riffs which compliment Slug’s mood perfectly.
“It is a very personal record. But I’m starting to feel like I can say that about most of our records,” explains Slug. “I guess that’s what we do, we make personal music. This album is a glimpse into what’s been on my mind for the last year and a half. The magic and the tragic of life and stuff.”
That being said, what’s so great about The Family Sign anyway? For us, the track “Became” explains it pretty well on its own. The production is spot on, the piano eerie and tense, but it’s the narrative that really grabs you. The song describes Slug waking up in the woods and discovering that his mysterious camping partner is missing. As he follows his/her tracks into the woods, he finds a set of wolf prints following close behind. The magic of the song is in Slug’s ability to build tension and express genuine emotion in his growing concern. As an added bonus, once the metaphorical story ends you are left with a true sense of Slug’s state of mind. “The Last To Say,” an awfully realistic tale of domestic abuse, and “If You Can Save Me Now” are other gems on the album. Sure, there are some weaker tracks. “Bad Bad Daddy” and “She’s Enough” probably shouldn’t have made it to the final track list, for example. But overall, a solid album from an exceptional group.
But it’s not all dark and ominous. “We are blessed to be in a position to spend our time making music, so there are a lot of smiles involved,” says Slug. “Sometimes it can feel like trying to solve a difficult puzzle, but you know if you stay focused and concentrated, you will solve it and that validation of the moment of solution awaits.”
Below, we’ve posted the track “Became” just for you. If you dig it, then check out the album now.
OurStage has been rocking hard lately, and last month was no exception. In honor National Guitar Month and in celebration of the excellent selection of riffs on OurStage, artists competed in the “Shred Or Alive” Song Competition. The dust settled, and we chose nine rock songs that make us want to grow our hair out. So go stream, share or download the Shred Or Alive Playlistfor free. Warning: serious guitar solos ahead.