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Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: Something Corporate Reunion Tour Review

Although they’ve spent half  of the past decade on hiatus, Something Corporate clearly still have a special place in the hearts of their fans. During the band’s peak in the early 2000s, the vast majority of their fans were teenagers who now fondly associate the band’s discography with nostalgic memories of high school. Though frontman and pianist Andrew McMahon has kept himself busy over the years with successful side project Jack’s Mannequin, SoCo enthusiasts shoped that the band would one day return to the stage. This year, their wish came true.

L to R: guitarist Josh Partington, drummer Brian Ireland and bassist Kevin "Clutch" Page

The Something Corporate Reunion Tour began on August 2nd in Minneapolis and will continue until the last show on August 28th in Los Angeles. The tour follows the band’s first reunited performances together at all three Bamboozle dates and the release of Played in Space: The Best of Something Corporate in April.

The ninth tour stop hit  Boston’s House of Blues, which stands in the shadows of the famed Fenway Park. As Something Corporate took the stage, they were greeted with thunderous cheers and applause from the sold-out crowd. Kicking off their  twenty-song set with the energetic “I Woke Up In a Car,” smiles were plastered on all five members’ faces. SoCo continued to please the crowd with driving pop-punk tunes like “Hurricane,” “Space” and “Punk Rock Princess,” but they also made time for acoustic ballad “Wait” and “Watch the Sky,” a track exlcusively released on the Japanese version of their third album, North.

Andrew McMahon working the crowd

In between songs, Andrew had nostalgic moments himself, as he recalled the inspiration behind even the oldest tracks, as well as when the band played to ten people in the original House of Blues in Cambridge back in the late 90′s. But perhaps the most nostalgic moment of the night occurred when Andrew returned to the stage for an encore and launched into the nine-minute fan favorite, “Konstantine.”  The band ended the night on a high note with rock anthem “If U C Jordan,” which culminated in Andrew stomping on his piano keys and bowing to the crowd.

Throughout the two-hour performance, the band proved that five years apart had no effect on their stage presence or chemistry. As Andrew sings in “Cavanaugh Park,” Something Corporate’s reunion show proved that- even as the years fly by “some things never do change.”

Metal Monday: Nu Metal Lives On!

Rewind ten years to the mainstream metal scene at the dawn of the new millennium. No kids with flippy hair, just baggy Dickies and backwards baseball caps. Back when nu metal reigned supreme in the mainstream metal world. The year 2000 marked the release of Mudvayne‘s L.D. 50 as well as Deftones‘s White Pony—easily two of the most highly regarded nu metal albums ever released.

mudvayneToday in 2010, many bands that led the original nu metal charge are still very much alive and kicking. On May 4th, Deftones released their seventh studio album, Diamond Eyes to critical acclaim. Nu metal legends Sevendust released their eighth studio album, Cold Day Memory to a lot of good press as well. But not all nu metal bands have had such lasting power. Bands such as Limp Bizkit fell off the map completely, and are now trying to hop back on the nu metal train and ride it to more riches with their fall 2010 release Cold Cobra. Other nu metal bands with 2010 releases: Korn, Mushroomhead,  Linkin Park, Nonpoint, Stone Sour, Ill Niño, Disturbed, 36 Crazyfists and Mnemic. Sounds like the year 2000, right?

This begs the question, why now? And who is still listening to this stuff? Try to remember who listened to nu metal back in 2000? It was mostly angsty teenagers who are now in their mid twenties, perhaps clinging on to the (not so) fond memories of their rebellious youth. Regardless, which would you prefer—hilarious “over-the-hill” nu metal bands or whiny young kids with flippy hair? At least we can get a laugh along the way while we get a good album or two from the whole movement.

Scene & Heard: Las Vegas, NV

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is one of the most famous travel mottos out there thanks in part to the abundance of  casinos, clubs and lavish resorts. This week, we’ll stop in and take a virtual look at “Sin City” and learn why it has become the Entertainment Capital of the US.

The music scene of Las Vegas is obviously flooded with outlandish onstage performances, big name acts and huge venues. In terms of a “local” scene, it’s much different than many other scenes. It’s difficult to find a band that actually claims their origins in Vegas, as it is flooded with big name acts and non-musical “extravaganza” performances. Perhaps this is why Vegas immediately conjures up images of Wayne Newton, Siegfried & Roy and Cher.

Much of the Vegas entertainment market is tied directly to the casino/resort market. Many of these establishments, like the Bellagio and the MGM Grand, have their own notable stage. Extravagant performances like Cirque du Soleil attract many visitors to huge auditoriums every year. On top of this, Vegas also has venues exclusively devoted to music and touring acts. The Las Vegas House of Blues is one of the most well known locations of the nation-wide venue chain started by Dan Aykroyd. In the coming weeks it will host Lamb of God, Hatebreed and Steel Panther. Another large chain in Vegas, The Hard Rock Café, will host Neon Trees and the Paper Tongues.

Las Vegas also has its share of smaller-sized clubs to offer. When pouring over the scene, what stuck out to me the most was the blues/rock presence. Many of the clubs in the area cater to guitar heavy blues music with a “west coast” flair. The Sand Dollar, located on Spring Mountain Rd is a bit off the beaten path. However, they offer a lineup of resident blues musicians with that heavy, driving Vegas sound.

OurStage Vegas rock band Left Standing—an in-your-face melodic, alternative rock band that has been tearing up stages cross country for the past several years—was kind of enough to give me their personal experiences in the local Vegas scene.  The band has participated in shows for 94.1 and 107.5 which has hosted shows for bands like Papa Roach, System of a Down, Switchfoot, Cypress Hill, Godsmack, Staind and Stone Temple Pilots. They’ve played venues like Whiskey a Go Go, The Viper Room and The Stone Pony. To put things into perspective, the band said, “There are so many things to do in this city besides going to see a local band that if you are not on your game people will lose interest quickly.” This sentiment sums up the whole Sin City vibe and really portrays the difficulty of the local music scene. According to Left Standing, Vegas is a musical “family of diversity”.

The band paid tribute to the Vegas House of Blues by naming it their favorite local room to play. “Huge stage, great sound, a place that can hold a lot of people, but at the same time still feels intimate. A lot of venues lose the most important thing in rock, the connection between the fans and the band.” The band even went into discussion about some of the local radio stations (KOMP 92.3 and 107.5 Extreme Radio) and their tendency to play music by bands that will be playing locally in the coming week.

Check out Left Standing’s OurStage profile to stay tuned for the release of their latest album Brand New Day which will be available on iTunes as well as on their Web site. Catch them on their upcoming cross-country tour.

Punk On The Rocks: Q&A with Andrew W.K.

Another summer comes to an end, and so does another Vans Warped Tour. This summer’s tour featured one of the better lineups of recent years, including Alkaline Trio, Bouncing Souls, Dropkick Murphys, Riverboat Gamblers, Reel Big Fish, Me Talk Pretty, The Mighty Regis and more. While there are those who argue that Warped has lost its edge, the tour has found itself a champion in the prince of partying, Andrew W.K. OurStage’s Jay Schneider sat down with AWK to talk about why the Warped Tour is a great experience for both artists and fans and what we can expect from him in 2011 (hint: it involves partying).

When Andrew W.K. speaks, we listen

OS: It’s been years since you’ve been on the tour, right?

AWK: Seven years. The last we did every date on the tour was 2003.

OS: So what’s it like getting back into the Warped “vibe”?

AWK: Well it’s just fantastic to be on a tour that has this much impact; that has this much reach across North America. It has a legacy and a tradition of high quality vibes. Really it’s the mood of this place that’s its biggest achievement. Not only does this entire team of people do this every day in each town, but more than just putting up the stages and organizing the port-a-potties and all the day-to-day work, they are manifesting an attitude; an atmosphere of good vibes, literally, through their mood. That is the most powerful and important contribution that Warped Tour has made to American touring, or just touring in general.

People are open-minded. They’re friendly. They’re kind. They’re hard-working. They don’t complain. It’s just an incredible example of a leader, the creator Kevin Lyman, having such powerful leadership skills, that his mindset of “suck it up, enjoy yourself, work hard and let’s make the most of this day” has carried over even to the audience, the local crew (even the people that don’t work with him every day). Everyone feels that atmosphere. That’s the most delicate and difficult, yet powerful accomplishment to have in any project you’re working on.

OS: Going along with that same concept, bands always talk about the “community” aspect of Warped Tour. It seems to be a “summer camp” of sorts. How has that experience been for you behind the scenes?

First of all, that’s absolutely true. There is a fantastic sense of friendship and kindness backstage, beyond a doubt: a sense of trust, a sense of loyalty. Not to the bands themselves, but to the cause of spreading joy on this tour. Beyond that, your comparison to a summer camp is very, very good actually. I was always terrified of summer camp. If someone said, “Here are some different ways you can spend your time: Going to summer camp, drawing in your room or running around outside,” summer camp probably would have been the last thing on my list.

Interacting with people has always been very intense for me. That’s why I decided to start partying professionally, because it would give me a reason to go out and do something that otherwise I was overwhelmed about or scared of…that idea of hanging out with a bunch of people casually—I never could do it…

It’s not social anxiety. There are people that have that. That’s a real serious condition—agoraphobia, fear of crowds, fear of meeting new people, things like that. No, I’ve just had a general shyness. I just always follow my instincts and try to do what feels right. Standing around and talking with people I haven’t met has always been very strange for me…But, this a great place for me to face those fears.

OS: You have a following of “Andrew W.K.” fans that follow your whole “party” mentality. You’ve set up the “Party House Tent” this year on the tour.

AWK: Yes.

OS: So what kind of interactions have you been getting with kids coming out to that tent?

AWK: This goes exactly back to what we were talking about in terms of that social interaction. In the old days, I was terrified to meet any one person. I would never try to hang out with more than my closest friends, because I was just terrified of the world around me. So I had to find a “cause” that would force me out of my comfort zone, force me to have a motivation. Something to work for, something to go after. So, this idea of “partying” is really what happened. So, any place that I can just create that “official”, designated spot, and really push forward this idea of celebration and partying helps me, and helps the cause.

The“Party House”, which is our tent, is a 20×20 ft tent or 40×20 ft tent, depending on how much room we have. It’s a massive space to come and hang out. The one thing I learned from the last time at the Warped Tour—and this goes back to what you were asking earlier—hanging out backstage is a very fun and very valid way to spend your day.  Since we only play for 35-40 minutes, the rest of the day really is open. Now, we can do interviews like this, which are fantastic. That is why I’m here. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet you and say hello to folks that are interested in having a chat. Other than that, to me the most valuable thing is to go out and spend time with the people who came this one day to be a part of this festival. This festival is a celebration. This is a party. So if I can have a spot to go and meet folks and thank them for being part of this and supporting this cause of fun, celebration and joy. When you join our mission of “partying”, I owe you my thanks. That’s what it’s about. So to me, that’s the atmosphere that I’m most excited about with Warped Tour. That’s the thing that makes it so fantastic. They’ve created such a place where you can meet people and have fun with them.

OS: In terms of your career and this professional “persona” you’ve created to party, where are you going from here? What are the plans moving forward?

AWK: In a way, it feels like a new beginning. In 2005 for a lot of business and personal reasons, things in my life just turned around in strange ways. But, I would not have it any other way at this point. So many new opportunities opened up from 2005 until now. The beautiful thing is that all the issues, all the complications that we were dealing with for those 5 years have now resolved. 2010 was the year of resolution. The universe aligned itself. We’re back and the party is stronger than ever. I feel like it’s a new beginning, a comeback of sorts for the cause, the idea of “enjoying your life”. The positive power of partying is here and it’s getting bigger.

I’ll continue with my full band—my full band is back together after 5 years—doing nationwide tours. We’re going to continue doing that into 2011. New album in 2011, we hope to start recording that as soon as we get off of Warped Tour. I’m also working on a book. I’ve been working on a book for quite some time, but now it seems like it’s the time to do it. We’ve got all these contracts in place. It’s really about contracts. Once you get contracts aligned, really you can do whatever you want. But, if the contracts aren’t there then you can’t really do much. So that’s where we stand.

So come by the Party House Tent. New album, the book, Andrewwk.com has got it all laid out. We actually have a new store there. We’ve got party gear, party wear. The point of this all is to spread joy, and if you can do that in your life then you’re already partying. Spread joy to other people, starting with yourself most importantly. Just party hard! Have fun!

Check out Andrew W.K. website to stay tuned for the new album and his new book. Be sure to catch Warped Tour next year to experience the party for yourself.

Viewer Discretion Advised: La Blogotheque – The Take Away Shows

No doubt about it, the Internet provides hours upon hours of mind-numbing entertainment. And while I’ve personally never been one of those people who becomes absorbed in watching coordinated dance moves or dads getting hit in the junk by baseballs on YouTube, I have found an online obsession that is both stimulating and inspiring. La Blogotheque is a French blog/Web site that it pretty difficult to do any decent research on since Google isn’t much for translating. But music in universal and all you need to know is the URL to enjoy this somewhat spontaneous cataclysm of creativity.

Founder Chryde aspired to mix up the music-sharing world and enlisted Vincent Moon, an independent film maker from Paris who wanted to film music in a different way. Moon is best known for R.E.M.’s Supernatural Superserious Music Video, as well as his work with other mainstream artists such as Tom Jones. Moon went on to film musicians in Paris, and The Take Away Show was born in 2006. The Take Away Show, as I’m sure you’re probably wondering, is a unique single take recording of an artist or band performing two or three tracks in an improvisational setting.

To break it down, think The Kooks traveling through the streets of Paris while young fans collect in their wake performing “Oh La La” like modern pied pipers. Or Mumford & Sons singing “Awake My Soul” to a French woman hanging out her courtyard window as they translate the chorus to her native language. Footage is left raw, few edits are made and the camera shakes with Moon’s hand as he travels from face to face, reaching odd angles of the street or trees.

The organic footage, which views as something between a live performance and a finished music video, somehow retains a lovely and haunting sound. For their Take Away Show, Phoenix hijacks a tourist bus and then plays under a bridge at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower  The band brings forward a sort of raw charisma that is lost in their smoothed over and diluted sounding records.

Earlier I referred to The Take Away Shows as being “somewhat” spontaneous because in Chryde’s explanations of each show, he goes into detail about the stressful planning that actually goes into creating something so deliciously impromptu. While he writes each bio in French, its easy to see his creative skills expand past just film making. Take this excerpt from 2007′s Take Away Show with Arcade Fire.

“During those weeks, I had been in continual contact with Vincent Morisset, who runs the Neon Bible site. Win and Régine had been responsible for coordinating our Take Away Show. We had discussed dates and places, imagining the Madeleine at night, the knoll at the Île de la Cité, an old café, a roundabout behind the Olympia…We checked the weather every day and despaired about the cold front that was passing through Paris. We had surveyed the entire inhumane neighborhood from top to bottom, trying to anticipate the crowd, the willpower of the group, the cold and the fatigue. Then, suddenly, we had a plan. Win asked if there was a freight elevator. We found it, Win smiled, and The Take Away Show was no longer in our hands.

We knew that The Take Away Show with Arcade Fire wouldn’t be like the others. The project was made for them because they’re of a different kind, a different essence. We had spent the afternoon with them when suddenly we realized, in a flash: “yes, this group is different.”

We had been playing the role of “outsider” the entire day, like a foreign body that latches onto the daily grind of these magnificent musicians. We had to adapt, through astonishment and wonder, as the band took up their instruments and started to play. But Arcade Fire didn’t take us as outsiders. It all seemed to unfold naturally: we entered into their logic as they awaited us and eventually swallowed us up. It was now Win Butler’s Take Away Show, and we followed.”

In honor of Arcade Fire’s 3rd release The Suburbs last week, below you can watch their very own Take Away Show, in which they perform a thrilling rendition of “Neon Bible” in a freight elevator. Be sure to check out La Blogotheque’s Web site which houses over 100 different Take Away Shows from artists like Bon Iver, Black Lips, Yeasayer, The National, Sufjan Stevens, Xiu Xiu, Andrew Bird, The Shins, Caribou and more.

Q&A With Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers

With their new release The Bear, Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers have taken a raw approach to their music. The album features the country/folk songwriting of Stephen Kellogg with the tight instrumentation and raw vocal harmonies of the Sixers; all presented in a package of recordings that is simple and to the point. The band also recently released a recording of their 1,000th show entitled Live From The Heart. The narrative way in which the band enters the stage (one member at a time, one song at a time) pays homage to their ability to write songs that are cryptic yet present a clear story.

Check out what Kellogg had to say when we caught up with him to ask about his songwriting, the latest studio release and the Sixers’ live set.

OS: You’ve referred to your upbringing as one filled with “aristocrats and farmers”. What do you mean by this and did you take anything musical/lyrical from it?

SK: When I hear our music, it kind of makes total sense to me. You can point to the apple falling not too far from the tree. My dad’s side of the family—that’s the side that was from western Massachussetts—were all farmers. You know, there’d be like pig roasts. I distinctly remember my uncle breaking off a broomstick to make drumsticks. They’d play Grateful Dead songs and Eagles and Cat Stevens, etc. So on that side of the family, I was exposed to this really “of the people” approach to music. No one was professional, but that’s just how they were with music.

My mom’s side of the family was super educated. My grandfather had his PhD and my Grandma’s got her Masters. Everybody went to school. They brought me to the metropolitan opera once a season growing up. I got this more “intellectual” approach to music. It was still heart-felt though, just more thought-based. So I feel like when I look at our music, it’s very simple, but I think the lyrics skew more towards literary images and stuff. I think that makes sense when I look at my upbringing. The lyrics are definitely not always extremely overt. Sometimes there’s stuff going on that you have to kind of “dig in” to figure out what’s being said. I enjoy that in music, but at the same time I never think our music is very “elitest” or “high-minded”. I think it’s very much “for the people”.

OS: The band has been defined as everything from rock to country to indie. Where do you think your music actually falls in this spectrum?

SK: That’s a good question, and it kind of depends on what day you catch me on. Every time I draw a line in the sand about where I think we fit in, I end up feeling different a few days later. I think of it as Americana/Rock ‘n’ Roll or “songwriter rock”, if that’s easier.

OS: Coming from a solo career, how do you fit your songwriting in with band collaborations and arrangements?
SK: I kind of had my thing going—not on any grand scale, but I had definitely left all my jobs for it. So when I met Boots and Kit and we all really wanted to play together, I kind of had a pretty distinct idea of where I was wanting to go. I think originally, the guys came on and were like “alright, let’s just play with this songwriter.” So, there was never really any  discussion of it being a total “democracy”. It was always just sort of my world view. Pretty rapidly, it became a band. It became a thing where what we were doing was about the three of us, not just me.
That was when we started calling ourselves the “Sixers”.

Over the years, like most relationships, I think we started to collaborate more. Because we got to know each other better, there was more shared ground to work on. I think it’s important that if I’m going to sing most of the songs, I’ve got to believe what I’m singing, and the guys really supported that. That’s one of the reasons the Sixers worked. As we’ve grown together, we also share a lot of the same viewpoints now, so it’s easier to write together and do more things in conjunction.

OS: You guys played an armed forces tour including a show at the embassy in Israel. What made you want to bring your music to these settings?

SK: We had a band meeting a few years back. We said, “What do all of our heroes have that we don’t have?” It was a pretty small list. A lot of what we wanted with our lives—getting to play music, paying our bills that way—that was all there. One of the things we thought our heroes had that we didn’t was a little more purpose in the world. So, we started asking this question, “What are some things that we all care about?”  One thing that we came up with was the fact that we’re really glad that none of us ever had to serve in the military. We appreciate that there are people that sign up to do that. The other thing is “kids”. We all agreed that it was a good thing to give back to the youth of the world. So what we did do was we took up some causes. Since we weren’t really in a position to contribute much financially, we were like “how can we give back to these organizations”?

So, at that point, we asked our manager to find a way that we could volunteer our services, and he did. He got us into some children’s hospitals to start doing some gigs, and he hooked us up with the Armed Forces Entertainment which is responsible for sending bands overseas. That was great. So it took a while to put it all together, but last year we got to spend about five weeks doing shows on the bases for the families there, and the soldiers. It was great.

OS: The Bear has an interesting sound as far as instrumentation and mixing. What was the studio process like for this release?

SK: This was complex. It was our first record in a long time, and we were on our third label, three records, etc. There was just so much staring us down. We were having a hard time making a decision about it. In the end, we opted to go record with a bunch of different producers. With one guy, Tom Schick,  the process was like: come in, everyone set up in the same room, throw a whole bunch of microphones up and try and get a magical performance. A lot of records are made one instrument at a time. In this case, we would even invite guests so that we could all play at once. At times there were 5 or 6 other people playing with the Sixers. So we’d have 5 or 6 people tracking at once in a really small room. That’s how Tom works, and when we’d mix it, it wasn’t all digitally saved in there. If you mixed and you liked it, you kept it. In some of the cases, the rough mixes are what’s on the album, because we thought we had a better feeling or thought it was truer. I’m not sure that’s the perfect way to make a record, but that was the process. That’s what we did with the tracks with Tom.

The other tracks were done with Sam Kassirer. We worked with him because we like the way he plays piano, and we feel like he pushes the boundaries groove-wise. He did some of the odder tracks, like “Dying Wish of a Teenager”. That process was different. The house was freezing cold, and that’s almost all that I remember about how the songs were made. I was sitting on the woodstove, and would play and sing. We then put everything on around that. So, two really different styles, and it made for an eclectic feeling record. That record really felt like a necessary step—making a record in a way that we’d never tried before.

OS: Yeah I think that comes through really well on the record.

SK: Cool. I know there’s people who like some of our polished stuff more. It’s just one record. I think the great thing about our fan base is they’d support us doing whatever it is we need to do at the time to keep the “right blood” in the band.

OS: You just released Live From the Heart, a recording of your 1,000th show. What was the energy like during this set?

SK: Oh man, I’ll tell you. It was cool. We knew it was our 1,000th, but we didn’t necessarily think it was going to be a big deal. It was really cool building up to it. It’s so easy to be in pursuit of things, and try and advance your career, and get more people to hear your music. We’ve flown under the radar pretty much, in the broad sense, for 6 or 7 years now. But, you always want that opportunity for a wide audience to hear what you have to offer them.Leading up to this thing, with all the nice emails we got, and all the guests coming out to join us on the show. It just made us feel so good, like “Wow, we’ve been doing something right for the last few years. This is a worthwhile life experience.” That was the biggest thing getting ready to go onstage. We all felt a little emotional. It was special.

On the album, there’s no moment cut. There’s nothing shortened, no song cut because we screwed it up or something. There are times where I’m like “Oh man, shut up Kellogg.” Like, listening to myself talk. That’s how the band is. Listening back to it, we wanted to put it out for everybody who couldn’t be there. I know that night, being with the audience, it all felt magical. I figure this album’s mostly going to be listened to by fans of the band anyway, so let them experience how it was.

OS: With such a milestone as playing 1,000 shows, what is the best lesson you’ve learned for putting on a great live show?

SK: That’s a good question, a great question. I think the biggest thing is that you can’t ever give up on a show. You have to go out there and try to stay focused and keep giving it. Because this is such a good question, I’ve never answered it before, but I love it as a question. It’s important to remember that it might just be one person that needs what you have to give them that night. I have been guilty of letting a show go, because I didn’t think it was going to live up to an expectation or something. Amazingly when you don’t give up on a show—which is something we started to do in the last couple of years—it might just be that one song you play at the end of the night that can really impact someone’s life. They might end up being a fan for life. Shows are little mini microchosms of life. Things go great, and then things go totally crappy. It’s a living, breathing organism. It’s full of hope, disappointment, excitement, and humor. So the important thing is not to get it perfectly, but just simply don’t give up on it.

OS: Can concert-goers expect any surprises during your upcoming fall tour?

SK: Well, it’s our first time headlining in two years. It’s the first time with Sam Getz, and we really have our band together. We’ve planned an amazing show that’s got it all, in terms of highs and lows. I think this is going to be as good as any show that anybody is going to go to this fall. I don’t intend that in an arrogant way, because I’m not that way as a person. I just know that we have so much enthusiasm for this tour and what we’re doing and making sure that the whole show is everything that rock ‘n’ roll is. It’s got enough Bon Jovi to make you want to pump your fist, but enough heartbreak in the Ray Lamontagne and the songwriter way. That’s kind of the meld that we’re putting together. When people ask why they should go see the show, I tell them I’ll give them they’re money back if they don’t like it. “Tell me and I’ll send you a damn check. I think you’re going to like it”

OS: Has anyone ever taken you up on that?

SK: Nah. People tease me about it all the time, but nobody’s ever asked me for it. I know there have been a few people along the way that haven’t liked the show, because sometimes you can’t please everybody. But man, most people who come are glad they did.

Be sure to pick up Live From The Heart during the band’s tour this fall. Here are some of the upcoming dates:

9/07- Spokane, WA, The Seaside

9/08- Seattle, WA, The Triple Door

9/09- Seattle, WA, The Triple Door

9/10- Portland, OR, Aladdin Theater

9/11- San Francisco, CA, The Independent

9/12- Santa Cruz, CA, Moe’s Alley

9/14- San Luis Obispo, CA, Downtown Brewing Co

9/15- Solana Beach, CA, Bell Up Tavern

9/16- West Hollywood, CA, The Troubadour

9/17 – Salt Lake City, UT, The State Room

9/18- Denver, CO, Bluebird Theater


Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: Fancy Me Yet

Though teenage rock queens like Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch flooded the US airwaves in the early 2000s, they were barely audible in Latin America. Thankfully talented sixteen-year-old singer-songwriter Natasha Jeanne (a.k.a. JD Natasha), who was signed to EMI Latin, was there to pick up the slack.  Back in 2005, her debut album Imperfecta/Imperfect scored three Latin GRAMMY nominations.

Following this success, Jeanne traded in her guitar for a keyboard and formed indie-pop band Fancy Me Yet in 2009. The Miami-based band mixes Jeanne’s catchy synth parts with drummer Chris Bernard’s poppy dance beats, while guitarist Alex Darren adds rock flavor and fullness to each track. Fancy Me Yet’s newest recordings, including upbeat anthem “Said It All (Renovated),” show that this trio have the chops to draw complimentary comparisons to big names like The Killers and Cobra Starship.

It’s becoming rare to find bands that still play sincere dance music, and Fancy Me Yet are certainly one of them. These OurStagers have found their place in the top of the charts and show the potential to stay there for quite some time.

The Changeling

Lindsay Mac

If you’re going to drop out of school, then drop out of some place prestigious. And if you’re going to play the cello, well, play it like a guitar. The mantra of Lindsay Mac might go a little something like this. Prior to carving out her unique niche in music, the Boston-based singer and cellist started off as a med student at Dartmouth before returning to her musical upbringing with stints at London’s Royal College of Music, The San Francisco Conservatory and, finally, Berklee College of Music. With that kind of pedigree, you might expect a cellist with classic sensibilities. But Mac, if anything, is a musician who thwarts expectation. Strapping her cello across her body like a guitar, and forgoing the bow for finger picking and strumming, she summons a whole bevy of sounds from her instrument—be it a whimsical honk, sepulchral strain or low-register moan. As an edgy folk artist, she begs comparison to Ani DiFranco. But stylistically, Mac falls somewhere between the mercurial, lilting melodies of Tori Amos and the bassy saunter of Morphine. If you want to hear both in play, check out “Stop Thinking,”—part sinister slink, part cheerful amble. But make sure you listen to “Cry Cry Cry” as well, a poly-melodic ditty that showcases Mac’s bewitching chirp. True originality is hard to come by these days, but Mac’s success isn’t her innovation, it’s her ability to make it feel easy and fun.

Download of the Week: Brightside Drive

Can you hear the buzz around Baltimore, Maryland’s Brightside Drive? These young talented individuals are still in high school yet are already making waves in their area—converting listeners to fans at a rapid pace. They released their new album Transitions on June 11, 2010, and are slowly becoming yet another OurStage success story. Their recent win in the Shout it Out with HANSON Competition in June is just the beginning.

As this week’s Needle in the Haystack, Brightside Drive is giving away the free track “What If?” off of their new album. Comment and let us know what you think of this song!

Scene & Heard: New Jersey

When you hear the words “music scene,” you instantly think about major US cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles. However, when it comes to the musical landscape of America, it’s impossible not to mention New Jersey. We were hard pressed to think of one city within this diverse state that stands out the most. So, we decided the Garden State’s chapter of Scene & Heard, would cover the whole state since it has so many important cities, venues and bands.

Back in the day Newark, NJ was a huge jazz hotspot, producing names like Count Basie, Wayne Shorter and Dizzy Gillespie. And who could forget the most famous music figures of all time, Mr. Frank Sinatra, who began his music career in NJ and NYC. The 1980s claimed its place in the state’s music timeline thanks to Jersey heavyweights Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Whitney Houston.  The hip hop realm also finds its roots here courtsey of “Rapper’s Delight” (widely considered the first recorded rap song) and artists such as Redman, Salt ‘n’ Pepa and Naughty By Nature.  Jersey is even home to punk rock legends The Misfits, The Bouncing Souls and The Casualties as well as newcomers My Chemical Romance and The Gaslight Anthem.

While the major players and huge venues are obvious focal points of any major city in New Jersey, we’ll mention some of the smaller places known for housing up-and-coming talent and even giving some of these big names their start. First off, the name The Stone Pony probably rings a bell. Bon Jovi and Springsteen both played early shows at this small venue in Asbury Park. Yet despite it’s notoriety, it still remains a somewhat intimate setting. Over in Hoboken, Maxwell’s hosts acts like Greg Laswell and Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers. The venue also features art shows and other non-musical events.

Reality Addiction at Bamboozle '09

As for musical acts, Elizabeth, NJ’s Reality Addiction is a powerful alt/rock band with a great live set. They’ve perfected this show at venues in Jersey like Mexicali Live and the previously mentioned Stone Pony. “[These venues] both have a lot of good music going on throughout the week,” comments the band who declare both places as their favorite Jersey venues to play as well as a reliable place for a visitor to stop by. The band also  talked about how the dominance of the emo, screamo, metal and classic rock genres. “It seems that our particular sound has given us a kind of edge and originality at the venues here.”

When speaking with the band, one fact was reinforced over and over— being based in the New Jersey music scene gives a band the opportunity to be part of two other scenes as well, NYC and Philadelphia. “Being so close to major music cities like [that gives] us a wider local fan base from NJ, PA and NYC.”

Obviously, New Jersey’s proximity to major markets like NYC and PA gives artists the opportunity to cultivate their careers in those cities. Through such opportunities, the band has been able to share the stage with Max Bemis of Say Anything and Ben Kenney of Incubus. They said,“Being a part of shows with national acts has given us a reputation of credibility with other bookers and event planners.”  The band was also a part of the Bamboozle festival in 2009 and had their music featured in the indie film Prime Of Your Life. Reality Addiction’s music can even be heard on Delta Airlines Flights this summer as part of an elite lineup that includes only 11 other artists.

Check out Reality Addiction’s OurStage profile and stay updated on the band’s future shows. They will be getting airplay and giving in-studio performances for 105.5 WDHA “The Rock of New Jersey” as part of a Jersey-based rock radio show. Whether it’s your destination or you’re just passing through, Jersey has the sound and reputation to satisfy any concert-goer.

 


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