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Boulevard of Dreams

Hollywood Boulevard is where legends leave their names. All along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, entertainment icons share the same stretch of concrete: Michael Jackson; Diana Ross; Billy Joel. Just a stone’s throw away, an artist by the name of D. Hollywood (the “D” is for “dirty”) is plotting his own rise. A multi-instrumentalist, daredevil, and eccentric, Hollywood’s bombastic personality is inextricable from his rakish style of west coast rock. “My Name Is Love” is made up of lurching, low-throttle guitars, synths, and Hollywood’s wild child lyricism. “My name is love and I’m a liar” he sneers. Drums and vocals provide the meat of “Chutes and Ladders.” It’s lo-fi, extra dirty rock delivered in lashes. But Hollywood’s greatest moment comes in “On Fire,” an impossibly catchy anthem with big, swaggering guitars. “I’m going out tonight, gonna set the world on fire,” he promises. We believe him.

Riffs, Rants and Rumors: How Tom Trumped Bruce on ‘Live Anthology’

Within the upper echelon of “heartland rock,” at this late date, it all boils down to a crucial question: Springsteen or Petty? The third member of the Holy Trinity, Bob Seger, more or less took himself out of the game over the last couple of decades, while John Mellencamp’s never really been much more than a dim reflection of the others to begin with, so at this juncture—with all the aforementioned Americana rockers having reached sexagenarian status—it’s basically about Bruce and Tom.

Even the members of roots-rock royalty are only ever as good as their bands, be they E Street, Silver Bullet, or Heartbreakers, and there’s no better measure of a great band’s prowess than the mark they make in concert. So the ultimate proving ground in the recording realm becomes not the studio album but the live anthology. But we’re not talking about your standard-issue live album here—both Petty and Springsteen have released those. No, a grand-scale summary of the concert repertoire is what’s really required to take the artistic temperature of an act in this arena (pun only partially intended).

In this context, one might suggest that Springsteen made a crucial mistake by playing his hand too soon, releasing the three-disc box set Live/1975-85 in 1986, even though he couldn’t have known how many subsequent years of concert triumphs he’d be excluding from the collection. But to call a spade a spade, Bruce’s biggest blunder in our little imaginary competition was in valuing strength over subtlety. They don’t call him The Boss for nothing—Springsteen’s sound has always been about larger-than-life statements delivered with an almost Wagnerian grandeur. As he’s the master of the mode, it’s often thrilling, but it also precludes the possibilities inherent in a lower-key lean, especially live, and that’s where The Heartbreakers come into the picture.

Where the inspirations for the E Street approach come from Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound productions and Roy Orbison’s pathos-ridden rock operettas, the comparatively laconic Petty and his Gainesville gang were modeled more after the supple, sinuous feel of the famed Southern soul sessionmen of Muscle Shoals, AL, the minimalist R&B grooves of Booker T. & The M.G.’s, and the laid-back country funk of J.J. Cale. Those are the roots The Heartbreakers bring to bear while breathing life into Petty’s tunes, but while there’s nary an ounce of flash or bombast to be found anywhere near a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert, there’s no shortage of soulful fire and pure rock & roll energy either. With characteristic caginess, Tom waited another quarter-century after Bruce to bring out his big live box set, simply dubbed The Live Anthology, released at the tail end of 2009. In its deluxe version, it took five CDs, two DVDs, a Blu-Ray disc, and a wealth of graphic-oriented extras to tell its tale of a band with three decades-plus of tasteful-but-torrid road-rocking behind them.

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Chumbawamba Is Breaking Up The Band

We guess you could say that the band who got “knocked down,” won’t “get up again” any time soon.

The anarchist punk band who happened to write that song you’ve heard a million times about getting knocked down is about to break up. Chumbawamba, the UK band known best for their single, “Tubthumping,” publicly announced their intention to dissolve the group today.

“That’s it then, it’s the end. with neither a whimper, a bang or a reunion,” the group said in a statement released through their site. The reasons behind the breakup were left mostly ambiguous, with the group claiming that they had, “got to a point where what we did as a band – and specifically the writing, recording, touring cycle – wasn’t doing justice to what Chumbawamba set out to do in the first place.” Much of the rest of the lengthy statement outlined the group’s modus operandi and pending future plans, including farewell shows.

The band had a resoundingly unique career arc. Having formed in 1982, they released seventeen records of generally challenging music. Punk with a decidedly dadaist bend, Chumbawamba produced songs that reflected the radical and artistic inclinations of the members. Chumbawamba was a group in the loosest sense, with frequent collaborators and guest musicians contributing to the band’s albums and live performances. Probably one of the unlikeliest one hit wonders in rock history, the band managed to reach #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Tubthumping” in 1997. Despite signing and releasing two records, including the one that featured “Tubthumping,” through the major label machine, the group would not find popular success again after their late 90s hit. It is unlikely that their failure to retain fame fazed the band, who were always happier to push boundaries in their creation of their art over moving units.

Check out the video for “Tubthumping” below and let the waves of nostalgia wash over you.

OS @ Warped Series: Phone Calls From Home

It’s officially summer, and Warped Tour has begun! In case you haven’t heard, we’re sponsoring our own stage for twenty-two dates and bringing over twenty-three artists out to perform on it. We decided to catch up with these artists to get the scoop on their summer plans.

Over the past few years, Phone Calls from Home have become a pop rock staple in their local scene. These boys will be bringing their exciting live show to Warped Tour all month long, with hopes of bringing feel-good vibes to fans new and old. Read on to find out how the band met, what they’ve been doing this year, and what they hope to accomplish on Warped Tour.

OS: How did you guys all meet and start the band?

PCFH: Dave, Zack, and Jason met in high school and they met Danny when they were on tour and played a show in Alabama.

OS: Like OurStage, Phone Calls From Home is a Boston-bred operation.  What’s your favorite local venue to play?

PCFH: We played at the Brighton Music Hall recently with Paradise Fears and it was great! Definitely a new favorite for us.

Continue reading ‘OS @ Warped Series: Phone Calls From Home’

Former Cro-Mags Bassist Goes On Rampage During NYC Show

Photo from Bowery Boogie

Chaos ensued at a Webster Hall show by punk rock acts Cro-MagsSick of It All, and Vision of Disorder, though the physicality and violence involved was less of the moshing variety and more of the stabbing variety. Founding member and ex-bassist for Cro-Mags Harley Flanagan reportedly attacked two people at the show, resulting in his arrest and the cancellation of the concert. At least one of the people attacked by Flanagan is a current member of Cro-Mags. It may be the most punk thing that has ever happened.

According to eye witness accounts Flanagan was agitated prior to the altercation, with one fan noting that, “I talked to him outside minutes before it happened and I knew something was going to go down. He was like a lunatic outside…” Flanagan, an MMA enthusiast and a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, at some point leapt from the dressing room area and proceeded to assault Cro-Mags members.

Two people, current Cro-Mags bassist Mike “The Gook” Couls and William Berario, were taken from the venue with non life-threatening injuries. Couls was reportedly stabbed in the stomach received cuts to the arm. Berario, whose connection to the band is unclear, sustained cuts above the eye and was also bitten by Flanagan on the cheek. Flanagan did not escape his attempted attack unscathed, having his leg broken while being detained by security. Flanagan also managed to flip off jeering onlookers as he was being escorted from the venue despite being handcuffed.

The band has issued a statement regarding the incident, stating that, “We as a band are truly sorry for the way it all turned out in every regard, even the ex-member whose family is now affected by his choices… Let’s move on now & stop the trash-talking. Keep that PMA – that’s what we are all about.” Check out video of Cro-Mags frontman John Joseph addressing the crowd after the assault below.

Metal Monday: Classicism In Metal

Classic is a term used by people in the arts to define the highest standard of works; something that has withstood the test of time, something that has been inserted into the cultural canon. If we’re talking literature, we could use the Iliad or Odyssey as an example, or perhaps something more modern like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These works undoubtedly shaped their medium since brought into existence. But what about classics in the world of metal specifically? Compared to most art forms, metal is still in its infancy, being somewhere around 40 years old now. Are there really any works that can be universally regarded as groundbreaking and genre-defining?

Starting with the obvious, Black Sabbath‘s early albums have to be considered since they’re widely regarded as the forefathers of metal. What about their contemporaries and bands that came shortly after? Surely Motörhead, Iron Maiden and others deserve consideration. For posterity, let’s just take the landmark works, Overkill and The Number of the Beast respectively. If we include Judas Priest, which of their works should be included? One approach would be the early work, something more landmark for less studied fans, but on the other hand Painkiller is one of the best metal albums of all time and quite a bit more aggressive than the band’s early material, making this a tough decision. The list of bands and albums goes on and on.  Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: Classicism In Metal’

Bronze Radio Return Celebrate Summer With “Down There” Video

Pool parties, cold drinks and good looking people in bathing suits…if our summer is half as fun as this new Bronze Radio Return video, we’ll be happy. The Connecticut sextet is an OurStage staple, and “Down There” happens to be one of our favorite songs off their album, Shake! Shake! Shake! BRR have had an exciting year so far, with several television and film placements and a performance at the OurStage Panel finale at SXSW. We look forward to seeing more great things from them in the future!

Purchase Shake! Shake! Shake! on iTunes here.

We The Kings Survive ‘The Hangover’-esque Kidnapping Attempt

If We The Kings weren’t rockstars before, they certainly are now.

During an interview with online talk show The Gunz Show, frontman Travis Clark recounted a tale of drugs, cultural exchange, and attempted kidnappings. Clark and the group had been touring through southern Asia and were playing a show in Malaysia. They had a driver and a van scheduled to take them to and from the venue for their show. After getting into a generic looking van that just said “We The Kings” on the side (travel mistake number one: just because a generic van has your band’s name on it doesn’t mean that you should get into it), the band was rushed to the venue relatively unscathed. It was only after the show that the real fun began.

Clark:

He was driving 60mph over the speed limit. He pulled down the wrong offramp because he didn’t know where he was going, and instead of doing what a normal person would do and just trying to turn around, he started reversing on the onramp. People were swerving to avoid him. And he was trying to cover for himself like, “Don’t worry about it man, this is normal driving over here, and anyway, I’ve been up for five days. I haven’t been able to sleep.” And it was like, “What, dude? You haven’t slept in five days? What’s wrong with you?” And he was like, “I don’t know man, there are some crazy drugs in the world.”

Continue reading ‘We The Kings Survive ‘The Hangover’-esque Kidnapping Attempt’

Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Shoes Are Back on Their Feet Again

When the rolls of power-pop royalty are read, before one can go back to early-‘70s ur-power-pop bands like Big Star and Badfinger, you have to hail the genre’s late-‘70s/early-‘80s heyday. Among the handful of acts whose names are invariably invoked in that context—Cheap Trick, Dwight Twilley, The Knack, The Rubinoos, etc.—Shoes are always near the top of the list. The Zion, IL band is considered by the cognoscenti to be one of the quintessential bands to combine melodic pop hooks with urgent rock & roll momentum. Their discography boasts stone-cold classic albums like Black Vinyl Shoes (1977), Present Tense (1979), and Tongue Twister (1980), and most of the rest rate just a step behind them. But Shoes released only one new album in the ‘90s, 1994’s Propeller, and haven’t really been heard from since, until now.

Ignition, the first record to feature new Shoes material in 18 years, will be unleashed on August 14. It features all three original Shoes: Gary Klebe and brothers Jeff and John Murphy, all of whom have always made equal singing/songwriting contributions to the band’s albums. In fact, a key aspect of the group’s sound is the way the members’ individual styles blend together to create a true collective identity. Jeff Murphy says it comes from the fact that Klebe and the Murphys all learned their instruments between ‘73 and ‘74 specifically to start Shoes. “That’s part of why we communicate so well with each other,” Jeff explains, adding the striking admission, “We still don’t know anything about music. We can’t read music, we don’t know what proper chord structure is, or scales, or any of that. But we learned together, so we’re all in the same skill level. We speak the same language.”

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Craig Zobel’s ‘Compliance’ To Feature Soundtrack Of OurStage Artists

The debut feature film from director Craig Zobel, the thriller Compliance, is coming out later this summer. And while we’re big fans of independent cinema, we’ve got a special reason why we’re excited about this movie. Compliance marks a major success for OurStage’s Licensing Program, featuring a soundtrack comprised of OurStage artists.

Don’t go see Compliance if you’re looking for another popcorn movie. Feel good hit of the summer, this is not. The cerebral, challenging movie earned rave reviews when it premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. From the movie’s synopsis:

Becky and Sandra aren’t the best of friends. Sandra is a middle-aged manager at a fast-food restaurant; Becky is a teenaged counter girl who really needs the job. One stressful day (too many customers and too little bacon), a police officer calls, accusing Becky of stealing money from a customer’s purse, which she vehemently denies. Sandra, overwhelmed by her managerial responsibilities, complies with the officer’s orders to detain Becky. This choice begins a nightmare that tragically blurs the lines between expedience and prudence, legality and reason.

Heavy stuff indeed.

Continue reading ‘Craig Zobel’s ‘Compliance’ To Feature Soundtrack Of OurStage Artists’

 


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