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Chad Kroeger And Avril Lavigne’s Engagement Is Literally The Biggest News Ever, Eh? [UPDATE]

People Magazine got the scoop of a lifetime last night, reporting that Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger and pop starlett Avril Lavigne were newly engaged following a whirlwind romance. The linking of the houses of Kroeger and Lavigne represents a consolidation of power as the two families now have a stranglehold on bad Canadian rock.

That was a joke. But seriously, this is huge.

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Recording Studio That Saw Dylan And Radiohead Might Soon Be Condos

 

The Church Studios is a storied recording facility in London’s delightfully named Crouch End neighborhood. Housed in a gothic chapel, the studio has hosted sessions for Bob Dylan, Radiohead, and Elvis Costello, amongst others. However, the studio’s days may be numbered.

According to the Evening Standard, current owner and UK pop singer David Gray is looking to divest himself of the property or have most or all of the site converted into “flats.” “David would be delighted to sell the Church Studios,” noted a spokesperson for the singer. “But given the current upheaval in the music business and the repercussions on commercial recording studios, it is only prudent to explore other avenues, including redevelopment.”

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Exclusive Q and A: Yeasayer Stop And Smell The ‘Fragrant World’

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsIndie blogosphere darlings Yeasayer have bucked the boom and bust trend of internet hype once already. Following up their buzzworthy 2007 debut All Hour Cymbals with the grand experimental pop of 2010′s Odd Blood, the Brooklyn-based band proved that it’s possible to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump that too often accompanies massive amounts of online exposure. Now, more than two years later, Yeasayer are back with Fragrant World, their third full length and most ambitious record to date. We caught up with bassist Ira Tuton to talk album art, film scoring, and the process of writing and recording Fragrant World.

OS: During the writing and recording process, you guys reportedly had enough material to do two separate albums: one of three-minute pop songs, and the other of more experimental tunes. Which type of album did Fragrant World ultimately end up becoming?

IT: I’m gonna go with the poppy one, just because we’re dealing with hooks, refrains, verses, and choruses. I think we used a lot of the ideas involved with making an experimental record and translated those aesthetics into the format of pop songs. We just honed down our focus and both types of music kind of bled into each other.

OS: Is there any chance we’ll ever get to hear some of those sidelined tracks?

IT: Yes, totally. I’d also love to explore some long-form compositions in the future. It’s something we haven’t really done. There are a lot of things we haven’t done, so we have the opportunity to move in many different directions in the future. There are certain things that didn’t make the record that are going to come out in the next year. Right now, though, the whole focus is on the album first.  There’s so much thought in terms of that, because it’s not just the release, but it’s also dealing with our live show, making sure the arrangements are where we want them to be, and perfecting the visual aspect of our live show. A lot of things are more pressing matters on our end at this moment.

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The Seven Best Musicians To Follow On Instagram

We are all connected. Our generation’s need for information has bred a certain hyper awareness, an insatiable desire for instant information coupled with a distaste for gatekeepers. The mindset of today’s youth is something along the lines of, “Get out of my way, geezer. I’m doing 80 in the fast lane of the information superhighway.”

Do people still call it the information superhighway?

News of album announcements come by way of Google+ Hangouts. Twitter has replaced wire services as the means by which artists relay information to their fans and to the media. After all, who better to promote you than you? And Instagram functions in much the same way. The service has gone from hipster novelty to smart phone ubiquity. It has been adopted by celebrities, musicians, even Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei. But who should you be following on Instagram? Well fear not, dear reader! We know the best accounts to follow.

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Metal Monday: Katatonia’s Dead End Kings

In Katatonia‘s 21 year career, they’ve managed to avoid putting out a single subpar album; even with a slowly rotating cast of members — vocalist Jonas Renske and guitarist Anders Nyström seem to be the only permanent members. On their new Dead End Kings, they’ve even played without Fredrik and Mattias Norrman (yes, they’re brothers) for the first time in about 13 years. It would appear that the supporting cast for Renske and Nyström isn’t of much consequence, as they haven’t skipped a beat with their followup to 2009′s Night Is The New Day.

On recent albums, Katatonia developed a truly unique sound, a perfect blend of sulking heaviness and shimmering beauty. Combining the thick, heavy riffs and chords of Nyström with the clear, haunting vocals of Renske, Katatonia create deeply emotional soundscapes on just about every track of Dead End Kings. Frank Default contributes a lot to the atmospheres and textures that coat many sections of the album, adding some sparse percussion, keyboards, and strings. As on Night Is The New Day, producer David Castillo aptly handles the mixing and production of the album, and the overall sound is second to none.

Perhaps the biggest difference for Katatonia on this record is the songwriting. While the album is not at all a sonic departure, many of the songs on Dead End Kings feature elements that Katatonia have shied away from on their last few releases. The most obvious changes, as heard on the lead single “Dead Letters,” are the inclusion of more groovy riffs (likely to the extreme pleasure of Tool fans). But it’s not just heavier, groovier parts they’ve added, either (granted, it doesn’t get much more heavy and groovy than “Forsaker“). Songs such as “The Racing Heart” and “Leech” show us that Katatonia are also quite capable of moody, somber passages.

Ultimately, Katatonia aren’t adding anything particularly new to the mix, but rather are refining and perfecting what they’d already achieved on Night Is The New Day and The Great Cold Distance. In 21 years, they’ve managed to very slowly evolve into something uniquely their own in all the right ways. When you’re so far ahead of the curve, does it really matter if you’re not constantly making massively different music? I’m not so sure it does. I’ll be happy if Katatonia keep making only slight tweaks to their current formula, as they’re already in a league of their own. One listen to Dead End Kings further drives this point home.

Dead End Kings comes out at the end of August worldwide. You can grab your copy from Peaceville Records’ online shop. Get a taste of the new album below with the lead single from the album, “Dead Letters.”

Exclusive Q and A: Ballyhoo! Plan To Bring Back ’90s Ska Punk

Take a look back at the original Warped Tour lineup from 1995 and you’ll see bands like No Doubt, Sublime, and Supernova. With the festival’s rapid expansion and desire to include more diverse artists, today’s lineup is a far cry from the original punk-centric focus of the tour. Luckily, Ballyhoo! frontman Howi Spangler has a plan to bring back the nostalgic sounds of ’90s ska punk with the band’s new material. The Aberdeen, Md. four-piece just recently completed the entire run of the Vans Warped Tour and are already back on tour until the end of September.

We had the chance to chat with Howi about life on Warped Tour, sharing the stage with reggae legends, and what the band hopes to accomplish with their next record.

OS: You’ve had a busy summer already! Tell us about the performances you’ve done so far.

HS: It has been busy! We started the [Warped ]Tour in Salt Lake City, and we’re doing the whole thing. Every day’s been awesome, the kids have been really great. We’re getting a lot of new listeners that come up every day, so that’s awesome. We have a guy in a sombrero that’s out there selling CDs in the morning to the line, turning new heads. We hooked up this thing called the “Ghetto Blaster,” it’s basically our handtruck and we have a speaker, a generator and a mixer, and our set time on it, and it just blasts our songs. So he takes that out in the morning and it just puts it right in their face, like, “This is Ballyhoo! Listen up!”

OS: What has been your favorite stop/state on Warped so far?

HS: Chicago was awesome, Chicago was really good. That’s the first one that comes to mind. We had a really great crowd. San Francisco was amazing as well, we had a really good time there. We had five or six hundred people out there. Boston was really great today, too!

OS: What other bands have you most enjoyed seeing at Warped Tour?

HS: Motionless in White, those guys are sick. Just heavy screaming, heavy guitars, they paint themselves black and white…the crowd was nuts, it was really cool to see that. New Found Glory’s killing it, Yellowcard’s killing it every day. Tonight Alive, We Are The In Crowd, A Loss For Words…there’s just so many good bands.

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Modern Men

Don Drapery

Don’t let the name fool you — Don Drapery isn’t a hotshot curtain maker who works at a company called Sewing-Cooper. It’s a Columbus, Ohio, band made up of two enterprising musicians: Jason Turner and Dan Gillis. In fact, the only obvious thing the band has in common with Mad Men is its love of retro. Vintage R&B and surf guitars trade time with post-punk angles and rhythms in Don Drapery’s catalog of songs. “Folks In Charge” is a loose-limbed, herky jerky rocker brimming with a rough sort of joy. On “I Can’t Apologize,” the duo combines ’50s-era pop tropes with modern-day sentiments like, “You say everything sucks.” From the spaghetti guitars of “No Place To Raise A Child” to the sparkle and distortion of “Hard To Survive,” Don Drapery gives a callback to rock’s glory days without losing their footing in the modern age.

Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Mark Eitzel Won’t Be a Stranger

Mark Eitzel is almost pathologically disinclined to talk shit. Even in situations where it might be in his best interest to offer up some sort of self-serving statement, he seems practically honor-bound to push a pin into the balloon. For instance, in analyzing his upcoming release, Don’t Be a Stranger, the erstwhile American Music Club singer/songwriter admits his affection for the record but immediately follows up by observing that he usually hates his own albums. “It’s hard to be subjective about the things you make,” he explains. “Actually, if I was a real rock person I’d say ‘No, it’s fucking great, it fucking rules, it’s the best thing the world has ever fucking seen!’ That’s what I should be saying. ‘This turd I just took is the best thing I’ve ever done.’ I respect people like that; we need them. No, we don’t,” he recants, “they become Presidential candidates.”

So it’s no great surprise to venture into Don’t Be a Stranger and encounter songs like “Oh Mercy,” containing the wry lines “I’ve got party talk for all your party guests/my topics include facism and rising crime/and when I outline the coming doom of the USA, well that’ll insure everyone’s good time.” Despite having earned enough critical plaudits for his songwriting to fill a grain silo, Eitzel is similarly unsparing of himself in looking back at 2009’s limited-edition Klamath. “I didn’t want it to be [a small pressing],” he says, “but I could only afford to make, like, 500 of them. The album’s genesis was me at a friend’s place in Happy Camp [Calif.], and it was so beautiful up there. The first piece I wrote was an electronic piece, to the absolute horror of my fans, but I really love electronic music, even though I’m no good at it. I wrote this electronic piece about a tree, and it started from there.” At the mention of his earlier electronic-oriented album, 2001′s The Invisible Man, Eitzel says, “That was another mistake. I’ve done a lot of electronic music but I stopped because the people who buy my records hate it with every fiber of their being. But I still make it for myself. I’m a songwriter, you knowI get booked at Americana festivals [laughs].”

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Exclusive Q and A: Yellowcard Open Up About ‘Southern Air’ And Being Warped Tour Veterans

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsReleasing three albums in just 18 months sounds like an exhausting endeavor, but you wouldn’t know it from the looks of Yellowcard at their recent Vans Warped Tour dates. The band is as full of energy as they were back during the early 2000s, and are gearing up for the release of their newest studio album Southern Air. We sat down with guitarist Ryan Mendez at their Mansfield, Mass. Warped Tour stop to talk about his early days on the tour, the writing process for the new record, and the album’s one big guest appearance that didn’t make the final cut.

OS: It’s the band’s 5th time on Warped Tour.  What’s different this time around?

RM: Well, I did the tour in ’02 and ’04 with my old band when we were traveling in a van, and it was just the most bottom-of-the-barrel experience of paying your dues on Warped Tour. Now, with us being at the level that we’re at, and me being a part of Yellowcard, it couldn’t be any more different for me. We did about half of the tour in ’07, and that was awesome too, but we were in kind of a tough time as a band then, and we were having issues with our bass player, who ended up leaving the band later in the year. It was just not the right mental page for us to be on, but now everybody’s doing great, we’ve got a new record coming out, and the tour has been awesome. Warped just treats us so well, and we’ve been having a great time.

OS: Yeah, the reception at your show today was awesome

RM: I think it was probably the best show of the tour for us. Before that, I think Chicago was the best show, but this might have taken it’s place!

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This Week In Piracy

 

While it may lack the SOPA/PIPA protests from this past January, the second week in August may prove to be an even more monumental period in the history of music piracy.

Arguably the story to break this week was Google’s formal announcement on Friday regarding websites that allegedly enable copyright infringement. “Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site,” said Amrit Singhal, SVP of Engineering at Google. ”Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily — whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify.”

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