Changes to the monthly competitions

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This month we are awarding prizes of $100 to winners of the competition finals. In the future there will be prizes to help your musical career. Check back to find out.

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A Lot Like Birds End “Rock Yourself To Sleep” Tour With Pillow Fight

Last month we held a competition offering OurStage artists a chance to open for multiple dates of the “Rock Yourself To Sleep” tour with Dance Gavin Dance, A Lot Like Birds, I The Mighty, Hail The Sun, and The Orphan, The Poet. Judging from the following video, it looks like the tour was a blast. A Lot Like Birds seem to have taken the theme of the tour pretty seriously, ending their set on the last date with an all out mosh pit pillow fight on stage and in the crowd. Check out the comfy carnage below:

If you like A Lot Like Birds, then you might also like OurStage’s own The Origin Animate.

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Album Review: Deftones – “Koi No Yokan”

After more than 20 years, Deftones are still going strong. In fact, they may be stronger than ever these days. Their newest, highly-anticipated album, Koi No Yokan, is clearly the work of a well-seasoned group that is truly in touch with their sound and who they are as a band. However, something about the album still leaves more to be desired.

First off, if you are a fan of Deftones, then you can rest assured, this is definitely still the band you know and love. They haven’t changed very drastically (not for the worst at least), and when you listen to this album, all of the components that drew you to the band in first place are still there. It is a well-produced, well-written, and meaningful record that has been graciously welcomed by fans and critics into the band’s discography. Still, something about the work as a whole just does not have as lasting an impact as it’s 2010 predecessor Diamond Eyes. It could be considered a close second though.

Right off the bat, Koi No Yokan—a Japanese phrase for the sense that a person feels upon first meeting someone that the two will fall in love—hits the listener hard with the deep Meshuggah-like tones of Stephen Carpenter’s 7-8 string guitar in opener “Swerve City.” This sound sets the stage for most of the album, especially in the tracks “Poltergeist,” “Tempest,” and “Rosemary,” which repeats a dark and brooding riff in the breakdown with surprisingly similar tones of The Acacia Strain. While Carpenter’s guitar is the first distinguished trait in the song, it’s Chi Cheng’s smoothly ascending and descending bass lines that carry the verse of “Swerve City.” Vocalist Chino Moreno leads the track and the album as fluidly as ever, with his signature “soaring-over-the-mountains” reverb and elongated melodic phrases.

The second track, “Romantic Dreams,” follows up this feeling with a pulsing 3/4 groove that alternates to optimistic riff-laden sections in 4/4. “Leathers” ups the intensity with dissonant sections of chugging and screaming, while still interlaced with emotively grandiose and flowing choruses. As mentioned before, “Poltergeist” utilizes the lower and grittier qualities of the guitars, which accompany an intense 7/8 polyrhythmic intro held down by drummer Abe Cunningham—with handclaps that are sure to make this song an interactive crowd favorite.

“Entombed” is a nice change of pace for the album. The feeling of this track can largely be accredited to Frank Delgado’s synth work, which provides a harmonically rich and ambient foundation for an overall uplifting song. When combined with droning delayed guitars and Moreno’s expansive vocals (“Shapes and colors are all I see/Shades of colors are all I feel“), this spacious and electronically grounded track sounds like it could easily be on a Team Sleep album (Moreno’s side project).

The variations between the first half of the album are more or less reflected throughout the second half as well, making for an overall pleasant yet somewhat unmoving experience. The song “Rosemary” contains an interesting dynamic balance between dark intensity and soaring ambience, but the closing track, “What Happened To You?” is the only song on the album that seems to stand out slightly more than the others due to upbeat rhythms by Cunningham and a sort of “bouncy” bassline by Cheng. If Deftones want an honest answer to the question posed by the title of this final track, I would have to say,”nothing.” Nothing happened to me. I enjoyed the album for what it was, but no part of it stuck with me afterward.

Despite some dynamic variations, the whole experience of Koi No Yokan felt very one dimensional. One could argue that, since their formation, Deftones have only gotten better with each album, but this one leads me to believe that they may have finally plateaued. That being said, Koi No Yokan isn’t a bad place to level out. There is nothing overtly groundbreaking about it, but it is still better than a lot of other music coming out these days. I just feel like whatever edge that Diamond Eyes may have had seems to be missing from Koi No Yokan.

If you like Deftones, check out OurStage artist Moving Atlas.

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Stream New Deftones Album

Alt-rock band Deftones will be releasing their long-awaited seventh studio album, Koi No Yokan, next week, but you can hear it right now! While it is still inherently and unmistakably a Deftones record, the crew have taken their sound to a whole new level of heavy riff-laden prog-rock that Rolling Stone describes as “adventurously agressive.” If you enjoyed the band’s previous album Diamond Eyes, then prepare yourselves for the powerfully emotive Koi No Yokan, due out Tuesday, November 13th on Reprise Records. Click here to listen now!.

If you like Deftones, then you might also like Ourstage’s own Vicesiadmire.

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Exclusive Interview: Ben Sharp from Cloudkicker

For many artists, music is about “making it big” and living the proverbial “dream” but not for Ben Sharp, solo artist behind the DIY instrumental post-rock/metal project Cloudkicker. In fact, Sharp is comfortably living his own version of said “dream” from his home in Columbus, Ohio. While his career as a musician may seem like more than just a hobby, with eight impressive releases available on Bandcamp and a considerably large international fan-base, Cloudkicker remains as such. In fact, his music is even available for free online. It was only within the past few years that he started to accept payment for downloads, with a humble “name your price” option. This started in 2010 with the release of his breakthrough album, Beacons, a full-force bludgeoning of rapid instrumental and musical proficiency that would bring any musician or metalhead to their knees. Upon first listen, one might expect this to be the next big band of skilled musicians to take over the world of post-rock and metal (or “djent” as some music fans have called the genre), but upon more research you will find that it is just Sharp’s sole ambitious and talented efforts. I had the pleasure of speaking with him about the comfortable and fortunate position he has found for himself in the music world, as well as his thoughts on the music industry, how the Internet is changing the way ideas and music are shared, what his journey has been like so far, and what lies ahead for Cloudkicker. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Interview: Ben Sharp from Cloudkicker’

Between The Buried And Me Premier New Video

Progressive metal lords Between The Buried And Me are back with some more trippy, mind-bending space jams and an equally intense video to match. Their new video for the song  ”Astral Body” is beyond fitting for the title and for the band’s new album, The Parallax II: Future Sequence, which is their second installment of a two-part concept album about two characters at complete opposite ends of the universe who share an inherent etherial and psychic bond. Head over to AltPress.com to watch the video, but be prepared to have your mind blown. The Parallax II is due out October 9th, but you can find a whole bunch of cool pre-order packages here. My favorite is the one with the space suit!

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Riffs, Rants & Rumours: The Strawbs Story – From Prog Rockers to Acoustic Alchemists

“There we were with the two most successful producers of the 1970s working together,” says Strawbs leader Dave Cousins, recalling the initial sessions for his band’s first proper album. The producers in question are Gus Dudgeon, who helmed all of Elton John’s biggest albums, and Tony Visconti, whose work helped make stars of David Bowie and T. Rex. Unfortunately, the punchline that finds parallels throughout The Strawbs’ career is that the band’s aforementioned sessions took place in 1968, when both producers were unknown quantities. The original version of what would become 1969’s Strawbs was scrapped by an unhappy record exec, and the band was made to start over again.

It’s part of a phenomenon that’s practically a running joke in Strawbs lore for instance, the bass player on those ill-fated sessions happened to be a young John Paul Jones, but in that pre-Led Zeppelin period, the name impressed no one. At the start of the ‘70s, The Strawbs’ acquisition of hotshot keyboardist Rick Wakeman hastened a move towards prog rock, but Wakeman would soon depart to fulfill his true prog destiny with Yes, leaving Cousins and company in the lurch. Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants & Rumours: The Strawbs Story – From Prog Rockers to Acoustic Alchemists’

Make Music With Terry Crews’ Muscles

Terry Crews, the star of the wildly successful viral advertising campaign for Old Spice Odor Blocker Body Wash, is back, and he’s bringing his band with him.  In a new video and minigame promoting Old Spice’s line of “Danger Zone” body products, Terry plays a garage full of instruments, including a flame-spewing saxophone, a pink tiger print BC Warlock, and giant papier-mâché version of his own head. Befitting Crews’ bulging physique, all the instruments are controlled via electrodes attached to his muscles. After you watch Terry slam out a tune that sounds like a mix of industrial percussion and prog rock wankery, you too can create and record a song by messing around on the keyboard. Unsurprisingly, it’s actually pretty hard to compose anything that sounds remotely tasteful. While it’s no QWOP, playing a keyboard solo using Crews’ abs is definitely more difficult than it looks.

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Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Renaissance’s Prog Rock Rebirth

“It’s something that I didn’t think I’d be doing again” is the first comment out of Annie Haslam‘s mouth about the revitalization of Renaissance, the legendary British prog-rock band she led to fame in the ‘70s. On such classically tinged art-rock milestones as Ashes Are Burning, Turn of the Cards, and Scheherazade & Other Stories, Haslam’s crystalline vocals blended with Michael Dunford’s deft acoustic guitar work and John Tout’s vivid keyboard flourishes on epic tracks brimming with invention and energy in equal amounts. Renaissance was a leading light on the ‘70s progressive rock scene, but since the ‘80s, their live activities have been sporadic, and the 2001 release Tuscany has been their only studio album since 1983’s Time-Line.

“I kind of wound down my solo singing career in about 2002,” says the Bolton-born songbird, who now makes her home in Bucks County, Pa., “and started painting, which is my other love, just as much as singing. I’ve been painting nonstop since 2002 now. So I didn’t really have any interest in going back into music, I liked the fact that it was just me, and not a lot of other personalities to deal with. Then Michael Dunford contacted me in 2008, and before he opened his mouth, I just knew. He said, ‘Annie…’ I said, ‘No.’ [Laughs] And that’s basically how it started up again.”

A revamped Renaissance ended up touring in 2009-’10, playing their classic cuts for grateful fans. Soon, some new work found its way into the set list. “We added a new song Michael and I had written together called ‘The Mystic & The Muse,’ expains Haslam, “We don’t ever remember having a standing ovation for a brand new song, which we had every time we played it, so that was very encouraging for our future writing.” Before long, Renaissance was embarking on two equally ambitious projects—staging a new tour to perform Turn of the Cards and Scheherazade & Other Stories in their entirety, and putting together their first new album since 2001.

Turn of the Cards was really one of our most popular albums,” says Haslam of the full-album shows they started doing in 2011, “with ‘Mother Russia’ and ‘Running Hard’ on it, and Scheherazade we felt was really a huge album—when Michael and I decided to do that, we were talking about it and we both thought, ‘My gosh, this is a huge piece of work to give to the musicians to do.’ It was huge when we did it [originally]. Actually it was probably bigger [to undertake] in the ‘70s, because we didn’t have the technology. They pulled it off though, it was brilliant. I love that piece so much, ‘Scheherazade’ in particular. When I’m onstage I get so into the music that I just barely remember to come in with the tambourine and come to the front of the stage. There’s a lot of music in it so I kind of step back, and I just get lost in it.”

Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Renaissance’s Prog Rock Rebirth’

Coheed And Cambria Announce Staggered Release Dates Of New Double Album

Epic sci-fi prog-rock concept masters, Coheed & Cambria are at it again with their new installment of The Amory Wars. Claudio Sanchez and company have announced on their website that their forthcoming release will be a 2-part album with staggered release dates. According to TheAudioPerv.com, “The first volume, The Afterman: Ascension, will be available on both physical and digital platforms October 9, 2012 via Hundred Handed/Everything Evil, and distributed through Fontana/Ingrooves. The second volume, The Afterman: Descension is slated for release in February 2013.” You can watch an HD teaser trailer for the albums below.

 

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Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Peter Hammill Plays Truth or Consequences

What the hell is a Van der Graaf Generator anyway? That’s the question a lot of people were probably asking back in 1969, when the first album by a young British band of that name appeared. In fact, a Van de Graaff generator (note spelling) is a device that creates electrostatic energy, but the group named after that machine generated an electricity all their own. By the early ‘70s, after releasing such cult-classic records as He To He, Who Am The Only One, and Pawn Hearts, Van der Graaf Generator had established a musical reputation as the Richard III of U.K. prog-rock bands, reveling in the dark underbelly of the human condition and casting a crooked half-smile upon creation as something slightly sinister simmered in the background.

While the initial incarnation of the band fell apart in 1978, Van der Graaf returned to active duty in 2005 with Present, as a trio featuring original members Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton, and Guy Evans. Incredibly, the 21st century version of the group turned out to be just as vital-sounding as the original ensemble, and they’ve recorded four albums together so far, with the fourth, ALT, out on July 3. Prolific VDGG frontman Hammill also just released a new solo album, Consequences (he’s maintained an active solo career since the early ‘70s), and he’s currently busy touring America with his Van der Graaf bandmates.

“The new band album is kind of an unusual one because it’s kind of improv,” says Hammill. “I know a lot of Van der Graaf is pretty out there, but this is out there even by Van der Graaf standards. That’s coming out more or less simultaneously with the tour, but on the tour we’ll be doing comparatively normal songs. On the new album…it’s all instrumental for a start, which is not normal for Van Der Graaf, but basically it’s stuff that built up since 2005. Every time we got together for a rehearsal period or for a recording period, there would always be some element of improvisation that was recorded. We’ve got a long track record individually and collectively of doing things that are not really in any rock area, they’re more sort of musique concrete sounds, so that’s more or less what this new record, ALT, is about. Basically, the material built up over a period of years until it reached a kind of critical mass and we went, “Okay, actually, this is not our usual stuff, but it’s also part of our story and our history, so now is the right time to put it out.”

Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Peter Hammill Plays Truth or Consequences’

 


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