You Sing, I Write: July 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Song of the Week: "Bye Bye Bye"

Remember that catchy chorus and those impeccable dance moves? Who doesn't? This week's song of the week, *NSync's "Bye Bye Bye" is dedicated to my best friend since 6th grade, Ansela. She'll be getting married this weekend and then moving to Texas, so it's a bit bittersweet for everyone.

We grew up knowing each and every lyric to *NSync and Backstreet Boys tunes and forever debated who was the better boy band. We went to our first concert together, (BSB - I was the hugest BSB fan) and second concert (*NSync - Ansela LOVED them). We even used to fantasize about which member we would marry, she loved Lance of *NSync and my favorite was Brian of BSB. I've already said more than enough to embarrass us both, so go ahead and watch the video below. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers and Matt Hires Satisfy Fans at Maxwell’s

Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers took the stage shortly after 9:30 Tuesday night while Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" blasted from the speakers.

"Welcome to Bulletproof Heart night everybody," frontman Stephen Kellogg told the crowd to screams after the band performed first track, "Scorpio," off their debut album, Bulletproof Heart.

Their 90-minute set included every song off the album played in order as well as newer material during their encore. Many of the tracks were performed live for the first time and at times the band stopped to regroup.

"This is why we're doing this at Maxwell's and not at Madison Square Garden," Kellogg joked midway through "You've Changed" after forgetting the lyrics. The second song of the night, the audience didn't seem to mind.

For my complete review visit Hoboken Patch.

For more on Matt Hires, read my interview with him here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Video Wednesday: Band of Skulls, Crash Test Dummies, Christina Aguilera

This week I'm showcasing three very different videos from three artists in completely varied genres. Whether it's Band of Skulls rocking West Hollywood's Troubador, Crash Test Dummies' take on what's beautiful or Christina Aguilera showcasing a soulful side to her pristine vocals, each video has something unique. Watch them below and let me know what new videos you're watching this week.

Band of Skulls: "Light of the Morning"

Crash Test Dummies: "And It's Beautiful"

Christina Aguilera: "You Lost Me"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cristina Fontanelli Closes 100th Year Celebration at St. Ann's Feast

Performing Italian classics, Sinatra hits and Andrew Lloyd Webber favorites to an enthusiastic crowd, award-winning international recording artist Cristina Fontanelli closed the 100th anniversary of St. Ann's Feast Monday night. The classically trained opera singer and former Hobokenite explained just how much the city means to her.

"I've been to some of the most exotic places on the planet," said Fontanelli, who was the first classically trained female singer to sing in Uganda and Kenya. "But," she added, "here I am at St. Ann's 100th festival. I've been to so many places, but let me tell you something: There's no place like home."

For my complete review and interview with Cristina, visit Hoboken Patch.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Personal Connection with Fans Leads New Music Seminar Discussion

Bill Werde, Kelly Cutrone, Little Steven Van Zandt speaking during New Music Seminar's 4th Movement "The Creative Conundrum" on Wednesday, July 21st

Photo Credit: Workman Entertainment

Last week, artists, managers and music industry enthusiasts flocked to New York’s Webster Hall for the New Music Seminar. The two-day, three night sold-out event featured panels and mentoring sessions from leaders in the business. Moderators included Ariel Hyatt, Peter Kafka, Martin Atkins, Bill Werde and Margaret Cho, who led talks on cultivating artist/fan relationships, music marketing and differentiating yourself from the crowd.

Of the many topics discussed, the most prominent was fan interaction. Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR broke down the 1,000 True Fans logic during the First Movement while additional speakers gave advice.

The concept of 1,000 true fans is that an artist only needs to acquire 1,000 fans to make a living. “A True Fan will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing.” Additionally, if 1,000 fans contribute to buying $100 worth of merchandise, concert tickets, music, etc. throughout the year, this becomes the equivalent to earning $100,000, a comfortable salary most can live on.

Mike Doernberg of Reverb Nation stressed this idea. “Your fans are your value. The deeper the fan relationship, the more value you have as a band. It’s more important than ever to have a relationship with your fans,” he said.

How does one cultivate these relationships and more importantly, maintain them?

Stop talking about yourself and sustain a community the panel advised. Relationships are multi-faceted; create a community and promote other indie bands, don’t just focus on selling your music. By being authentic in your dialogue you attract more people.

“Engagement is not a destination, it’s a continuum,” stated Eric Garland of BigChampagne.

Joe Kennedy of Pandora agreed. “It’s not about the numbers. Build a base of passionate true believers.”

The energetic Martin Atkins had his own take during his 18-minute intensive talk. “Nobody gives a fuck about you, your band and your music except you. It’s not how you’re communicating; it’s what you’re communicating.”

Instead of interacting with fans solely on social media, send out monthly newsletters with one call to action. Be it, “add us on Twitter” or give away a free track; focus on one specific thing to draw fans in. When people have too many choices, they tend to abstain from making any decision.

Live music producer Tom Jackson spoke of music fans in the concert setting. “It’s always about an emotional connection between people. If you can create moments and change their lives at a show, people will keep coming. The key is connecting with the audience.”

While the seminar focused on advising young, independent artists, Just Blaze summed up the discussion best. “When you have fans of your persona, who you are, what you stand for, that’s a lot more powerful than having a number one record.”

You can also read this article on Music Dish.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dawes Impress at First New Jersey Gig

California-based folk rockers Dawes performed to a packed room of enthusiastic concertgoers for a little more than an hour at Maxwell's Friday night. While crowd favorite "When My Time Comes" felt like a spiritual experience with fans screaming the lyrics word for word with their fists in the air, the remainder of their hour-long set was nothing short of energetic with minute long musical jams throughout.

With four part harmonies and solid musical features, Dawes' set impressed. Their first performance in the Garden State, frontman Taylor Goldsmith seemed eager to come back.

"If this is our first show in New Jersey, I'd say we're off to a pretty good start," he said midway through their set. "Here's to the first of many."

For my complete review, visit Hoboken Patch.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Song of the Week: "Why Georgia"

This past week has been a whirlwind of changes. When reflecting on life and next steps I always turn to music. After missing my last bus home to Jersey last week after a stressful day of apartment searching John Mayer's "Why Georgia" came on my iPod. Though the song is a decade old and I've heard it at least a million times, it struck a chord. Maybe my quarter life crisis has finally struck, but his lyrics really hit home.

"Everybody is just a stranger but/That's the danger in going my own way/I guess it's the price I have to pay/ Still 'everything happens for a reason'/Is no reason not to ask myself if I'm living it right."

Regardless of his status in the tabloids and my friends tiring of my obsession of him, his music always manages to make an impact on me. Watch the video below of "Why Georgia" and be sure to follow my concert coverage [cough: gushing] on Twitter tonight when I catch his show in Pennsylvania!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ryan Bingham Showcases Songs From Upcoming LP

Ryan Bingham performed to a packed crowd at New York's famed Living Room venue on Wednesday night. The private event featured the Oscar winner alone onstage with nothing but his acoustic guitar, harmonica and powerful vocals. For those in attendance, that was enough.

Before his set began, a pamphlet of lyrics to the songs from his upcoming September 7 release, Junky Star, was passed out. Artist Kiki Smith then introduced Ryan with immense praise.

"We're here to celebrate Ryan Bingham. The wounded part of him that he sings about gives me the opportunity to heal myself. For me, that is very powerful," she said.

For my complete review, visit The Boot.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hotspur Win NMS Artist on the Verge Competition

I've been attending the New Music Seminar in New York this week. Three nights of artist showcases and two days of panels, the seminar has featured talks with industry leaders who have provided endless advice to up-and-coming musicians as well as those interested in making it in the music business.

I'll be providing full recaps in the next few days, but I first wanted to congratulate D.C. based-band Hotspur for winning the "Artist on the Verge" competition! You may remember them as Band of the Week a few months ago or one of the acts featured on my TWLOHA benefit concert (before the blizzard of 2009 hit).

Hotspur were selected as finalists from over 500 bands on OurStage based on "the criteria of rising above the noise ceiling and doing it on their own without the help of a major or major independent label." Tuesday night, Hotspur competed against Brooklyn-based hip-hop group Yonas and Pennsylvanian rockers Comic Book Heroes to win $75,000 in musical equipment, services and consultations from the new leaders of the music industry and other valuable prizes to take their career to the next level.

Here's what some of the panelists had to say about Hotspur:

Bill Werde, Editorial Director, Billboard: "We're all talking about managing your own careers. I went down to use the men's room and this was the only band that had anything on the merch table." When introducing the video, "The people with the tightest pants on the lead singer, Hotspur."

Kelly Cutrone, Founder, People's Revolution PR and Marketing: "They looked the most comfortable.  There used to be this term we used, FQ which means fuckability quotient. I'm not into seeing them in that way but I think that any 18-30 year-old chick in America, in a bar late at night would want to go home with one of those boys."

Werde: "I was talking to a couple of people in the business watching that show and everyone said the same thing. There was no question that that was the band that was the most polished, the most ready for prime time."

Cutrone: "They looked like rock stars. You should changed your name to Looks Like Rock Stars because you look like rock stars. You know what, Rolling Stone, GQ, Details they all like to put hot dudes with leather pants on their magazines and girls like to buy records with hot dudes. Go do a study of rock and roll. Guys like Bono, he has a really good FQ."

Tom Jackson, live music producer: "Lots of potential. Definitely the most polished. Mr. Frontman, you can be a star. You gotta find those things inside your songs and let stuff breathe. There's nothing wrong with rocking, but tell us a story. A great record takes us places. You guys are what I call Chinese water torture. The pressure never changed. You've got to let your stuff breathe."

For more on Hotspur, be sure to visit them on MySpace and stay tuned for my interview with their music video director Josh Eisenberg.

Related Links:
Band of the Week: Hotspur
Song of the Week: "Heads/Tails"
What Would You Ask a Music Video Director?
You Sing, I Write + The Jew Spot Present A Benefit For TWLOHA

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Video Tuesday: MeTalkPretty, Paramore, Robert Randolph

This week, female vocalists lead the race of powerful video releases. While newcomers MeTalkPretty just won MTVu's The Freshmen, placing their latest video for "Wake Up!" in rotation, older favorites Paramore have been around the block a few times. Watch below for the latest from MeTalkPretty and stay tuned for their debut album, We Are Strangers due out later this month.

Although Paramore's video for "The Only Exception" was released a few months ago, I keep hearing the track on the radio and have yet to see the complete video until today. (Which is partially why I still consider it me at least!) A moving song, and even more powerful video, I've been listening on repeat for the last hour.

Last up is the soulful and always energetic Robert Randolph & the Family Band's new track, "If I Had My Way" off latest release, We Walk This Road. With powerful vocals and even more striking musical accompaniment, the track is bound to get your feet tapping.

What other music videos can't you get enough of? Be sure to leave them for me in the comments!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Artist of the Week: Matt White

With familiar vocals that recall fellow singer-songwriters Jason Mraz and Matt Nathanson, Matt White impresses. While his music combines light piano and guitar accompaniment, it's his voice that leaves the greatest impact. Soothing and relaxing, tracks like "Love" embody a certain longing many can relate to with a Caribbean vibe while "Taking On Water" is an emotional track with moving vocals and delicate guitar finger picking, suiting the song well. 

In 2007 White broke into the scene with his debut album, Best Days. The LP peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s New Artist chart and garnered him much praise. Rolling Stone named him one of "10 Artists to Watch" while Details added Best Days in their "best new music bubbling from the underground," saying White has "a falsetto smooth enough to melt the icy heart of a Brooklyn hipster."

While it is debatable if White has in fact melted the hearts of Brooklyn hipsters, it's safe to say he has impressed many New Yorkers. Born in New Jersey, after college White moved to New York where he could be found singing on street corners and in Washington Square Park. His street performing days soon ended as many recognized his talent and he graduated to gigs at Joe's Pub and the Living Room, not to mention tours with notable acts including everyone from Sheryl Crow, John Mayer and B.B. King to OneRepublic, Third Eye Blind and Counting Crows.

If his music sounds familiar, it's because tracks have been featured in numerous films, commercials and TV shows like “Shrek The Third," McDonald’s, "The Hills," "Brothers and Sisters," and "One Tree Hill."

His second album is due out this Fall, and features production from David Baron (Lenny Kravitz) and Henry Hirsh (Lenny Kravitz), as well as mixing from Jack Joseph Puig (Weezer, Goo Goo Dolls, Sparklehorse, Shelby Lynne) and Joe Blaney (The Clash, The Ramones, Prince). If it's anything like his well-received debut, White is one artist to keep your eyes on.

For more on Matt White, visit him on MySpace and be sure to catch him performing tonight at Webster Hall as part of the New Music Seminar.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Follow YSIW's Coverage of the New Music Seminar

I'm excited to be covering The New Music Seminar, this week in New York! The two-day, three-night conference includes panels with top industry speakers providing what they've learned in the field and advice for those trying to make it in music. With the main purpose to connect and inform music enthusiasts on how to achieve success in the music business, each night ends with a showcase of artist performances. Stay tuned to You Sing I Write on Twitter for updates, as well as blog posts later this week!

Since I'll be attending and reporting back to you on the days events, I want to know what you're most excited to learn about or which talks you'd like me attend. Be sure to check out the complete schedule here and let me know what you're interested in learning and any panelists or bands you're most excited to see coverage on.

Speakers for the NYC conference include everyone from Pandora and Reverbnation to Myspace Music, CMT and many more. Watch last year's video recap below.

Pre-registration for NMS NYC is closed, but tickets will be available beginning at 6:00 pm, Monday, July 19th at Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street. For more information and a complete schedule, visit

Friday, July 16, 2010

Song of the Week: "East Coast Anthem"

Whenever I'm in D.C. I find myself singing Good Charlotte's song "East Coast Anthem." Especially the opening lines, "Walking on the streets of D.C./On the east coast where I live." I'm headed to D.C. for my friend Sarah's wedding this weekend and you can bet I'll be screaming those words as soon as I get there.

I was OBSESSED with Good Charlotte in high school, even convinced I'd marry Benji (haha...some things never change). That is definitely a post for another day. For now, enjoy some old school Good Charlotte footage, circa 1999.

Cut to 2:20 for their live performance of "East Coast Anthem."

Remember their song, "Hold On?" Such a powerful video.

This was my favorite..."Movin' On." I think I need to write a post of my crazy encounters with Good Charlotte. Next week maybe...what do you think?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Artist to Watch: Adam Taylor

Pennsylvanian poet, Adam Taylor recorded his debut EP, Play the Piano Drunk, his senior year of high school. Produced by his older brother, LIVE founding member Chad Taylor, the release is a jaw-dropping and foot-tapping mix of folk, rock & roll, ragtime and jazz. An old soul, Taylor's songs embody socially conscious lyrics with impressive musical accompaniment. 

"Painting Leprosy" kicks things off with an old ragtime vibe. Fast bass guitar and piano soon enter with aggressive percussion. Throughout the track, vocals alternate well between Taylor and Kate Young. A solid way to begin the EP, with upbeat piano interludes and soulful singing, "Painting Leprosy" transports the listener to another era. In fact, one can vividly picture Taylor and Young singing in a speakeasy in the early 1900s.

Next track, "12:51" is a slower folk song with the main focus on Taylor's vocals. With striking percussion mid-song, Taylor proves he's more than your average singer-songwriter. The slow buildup and fadeout of the song impress and the listener never knows exactly what he will hear next.

“I think many of the songs share a bluegrass or folk lineage,” Taylor says. “Where they feel upbeat but tend to have more meaning than a shallow pop song. If you look beyond the catchy melodies there is often a greater depth.”

I couldn't agree more. While "12:51" has soothing vocals with light electric guitar, "Elvis" is a funky blues track with thought provoking lyrics. "The room is turning round/And the world can be confusing/There's no icebergs in Iceland/There's no Thanksgiving in Turkey/Come on, get your reasoning/You know money grows on trees these days/So go on plant a thousand/And be like Johnny Appleseed."

Every track on Play the Piano Drunk is unique and embodies a new genre of music. Whether you're into folk, rock & roll, blues or jazz it is easy to appreciate each influence throughout the seven songs. Visit Adam Taylor's Web site to listen to tracks from his EP and stay tuned for his full-length LP.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You Sing I Write's Summer Reading Playlist

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

I think most of us agree that summer is the best time of year. Outdoor music festivals, beach time and vacations, who wouldn't love it? I've been reading some great music memoirs and on the road novels that I think every music enthusiast would enjoy. Read below for my complete list. If I left any books out that you think I should pick up, definitely let me know in the comments!

Between a Heart and a Rock Place

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Pat Benatar's new memoir, "Between a Heart and a Rock Place." A compelling read, Benatar is completely honest about what it was like dealing with record label, Chrysalis, the obstacles she faced as a female and how she overcame each to become the well-respected artist she is today.

My favorite quote: "Rock and roll is really about following your passion with no apologies. Following that sound in your head that only you can hear."

For my complete review, click here.

But Enough About Me...A Jersey Girl's Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous

This is my absolute favorite book in the world. Written by fellow Jersey girl and former Rolling Stone writer, Jancee Dunn, her memoir takes you behind the scenes of working at one of the most respected music magazines and what it's like to interview A-list musicians and celebrities. Each chapter begins with tips Dunn has learned along the way, whether it's what questions to ask to warm up the interview subject or one of my favorite titles, "How to Approach an R&B Artist When You're the Whitest Person in the Western World." 

My favorite quote: "The second I stepped through the doors of Rolling Stone as a real employee, I wanted to shake off my old personality like the rigid husk of a cicada. But how could I cultivate a new, hip persona when I lived with my parents in a New Jersey suburb and wore black leggings as pants?"

Cassette From My Ex

Last year, I covered the New York launch party of "Cassette From My Ex." A collection of 60 essays about relationships and mixtapes from musicians, magazine editors, VJs and more, the book is packed with comical and poignant tales of first love, friendship and heartbreak. The stories are relatable and at many times, bittersweet.

My favorite quote: “We made each other tapes because we believed that music articulated what we could not otherwise express.”

Read a more in-depth review here.

Falling Is Like This

A few weeks ago, I attended a book reading by Kate Rockland. For those of you who have always wondered what it's like to date a rock star, Rockland fills us in through her main character, Harper Rostov, who falls for Nick Cavallaro, a punk rocker from New Jersey. The novel, set in the East Village and New Jersey, is a colorful and humorous account of Harper and her whirlwind affair with the rock star every girl dreams about. [Cough: John Mayer?]

My favorite quote: "Being punk isn't about wearing a black armband with a skull on it or listening to certain bands. It's about being revolutionary inside your soul. Being different from everyone else and not giving a shit."

Read my take on the night of her book reading here.

Off the Bus and On the Record

If you were curious as to what exactly happens during an interview, this is the book for you. Complete with 22 candid interviews by teen journalists, the encounters remind me of how I got my start. Not exactly the interviews you'd read in Rolling Stone, the rock stars open up completely to the teens. You also see firsthand how awkward some interviews can be when the reporter accidentally says the wrong title of the album or how to deal with bands who ramble and don't answer the question asked of them. 

My favorite quote: Pete Wentz talking to the interviewer, Zac: "You got, like, a VJ-esque quality. You could be a VJ. Honestly, I'm putting it in that if I ever have to write a recommendation for you or anything, call me  up for a reference."

Zac:  "Ok, I'll put, 'Pete, Fall Out Boy, recommends me for a VJ position.'"

Pete: "By then I'll probably be a garbage man and you can't even put Fall Out Boy. They call me up and I'll be like, "I remember when I was in a band! It was awesome!"

What books are you reading this summer? If I left any out that you've enjoyed, let me know!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Artist of the Week: Tamar Kaprelian

Tamar Kaprelian has been writing songs for as long as she can remember, drawing inspiration at an early age from Disney films and later, music icons Billy Joel and Paul McCartney. However, it wasn't until she entered and won OneRepublic's cover song contest in 2008 that labels started to take notice. With Ryan Tedder's help, she soon signed to Interscope Records and began working on her debut album, due out later this year.

A coming-of-age record that chronicles her life and relationships, Kaprelian is determined to create an album that is real and true to her, both personally and artistically. By previewing a few tracks on MySpace and witnessing her live last night in New York, she is well on her way.

With emotion-filled lyrics and equally passionate vocals, Kaprelian's music inspires the listener. First single, "New Day" is a song about "struggling, overcoming and having faith in believing that you can get yourself out of the situation." A relatable track, Kaprelian takes the listener on a journey with her powerful vocals and the tale's resolution. "I was lost but I found what I was looking for/Waking up, waking up to a new day," she sings. (Watch the video for "New Day" below.)

Kaprelian's airy vocals on the upbeat "Delicate Soul" brings to mind fellow singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles while tracks like "Purified" and "Three Simple Words" portray a more mature sound. Never one to shy away from how it all began, Kaprelian performed a soulful rendition of  "A Whole New World" from Disney's film "Aladdin" last night to a packed and sweaty crowd at Mercury Lounge.

With her powerful vocal delivery, piano interludes and string features throughout many of her tracks, Kaprelian's music strikes a chord. "Three Simple Words" is a moving ballad of love lost with delicate piano accompaniment and angelic vocals while "Transcend" impresses with soaring string interludes and a deeper, more intimate sound.

Look for Tamar Kaprelian's debut album due out later this year. Until then, learn about her songwriting process and collaborating with OneRepublic in a video interview below.

Watch Tamar's winning cover of OneRepublic's "Apologize" below. For more on Tamar, be sure to visit her on MySpace.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Poll of the Week: What's Your Favorite Music Film?

I was talking with a friend recently about our favorite music films. We were both giving each other suggestions and I quickly realized just how many I have yet to see. I'm curious as to some of your favorites and ones you highly recommend. Let me know in this week's poll and feel free to add your picks in the comments!

What's Your Favorite Music Film?

"Almost Famous"
"School of Rock"
"This Is Spinal Tap"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Song of the Week: "American Slang"

If you've been following You Sing I Write at all over the past two years, you know of my love for Jersey boys The Gaslight Anthem. Earlier this week, they released the music video for "American Slang," the title track and debut single off their new album.

Set in New York, the music is agressive with unrelenting percussion and soaring guitar riffs, all underneith frontman Brian Fallon's powerful vocals. Watch it below! And, if you missed my review of their album release show, you can read it here.

Related Links:
You Sing, I Write's Top 5 Concerts of 2009
Band of the Week: Gaslight Anthem
Five Albums to Prolong Your Summer
All Points West: Music, Mud Wrestling, and Beer Gardens

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Artist to Watch: Shwa Losben

Shwa Losben combines impassioned folk and rock & roll for a truly unique sound. Whether he's writing about a friend who went to Mexico with a guy she met on Craigslist on "Trainwreck," or critiquing mean hipsters on "Brooklyn Girls," his tales captivate the listener.

Losben moved to New York in 2007 and has steadily built a name for himself, playing in front of packed venues with his band "The Good Times." The singer-songwriter released his debut solo album, Chop Chop in 2008. With rave reviews, USA Today wrote, "it deserves to be heard by more people." Additionally, the title track earned Losben the ASCAP Robert Allen Songwriting Award.

Two years later, Losben is back with his fan-funded release, Good Times Good Times. The 10-track album offers listeners fun, upbeat songs accompanied by intriguing characters and descriptive storylines. Blending folk and rock, Losben's soulful voice soothes above fitting music. Each song offers something new, whether it be the twangy "Worst Is Over" or the danceable "Penultimate Dance." A track he has high hopes for, of "Penultimate Dance," Losben says, "My dream is for it to be the second-to-last song played at weddings and bar mitzvahs."

Good Times Good Times draws influence from Pulp and Pearl Jam and no doubt has distinct musical components to please every music lover. With resemblance to fellow New York singer-songwriter PT Walkley on "Treat the Disease," the track impresses with horn features, powerful guitar and percussion and Losben's wavering vocals."Total Nightmare" is another danceable gem with energetic keyboard and vocals throughout while "Sandy Don't Worry" is an impassioned love song reminiscing of the past. 

With an album this diverse, one can only wonder what the future will bring for Losben. Having opened for Ben Folds, he is well on his way. To stream Good Times Good Times click here. For more on Shwa, be sure to visit him on MySpace.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cary Brothers and Greg Laswell Kick off Co-Headlining Tour

Cary Brothers and Greg Laswell showcased their emotion-filled songs and onstage banter last night at Maxwell's while Harper Blynn provided a fitting backing band throughout each set. The first night of their summer tour, Tuesday was just a glimpse of what is to come.

"I'm originally from Nashville, but I hated country music and I always listened to British music," Brothers said. "That's why when I sing I sound British."

Though he dislikes country, he said his song, "Blue Eyes," is the closest he came to writing a country song. Well known for being featured on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack to the film "Garden State," the track was definitely a crowd favorite.

For the complete review on Hoboken Patch, click here.

Watch Cary Brothers' new music video for "Ghost Town" below.

You can see Greg Laswell's video for "Take Everything" below. Fun fact: he's actually singing the words backwards so it appears accurate in the video.

Greg Laswell "Take Everything" from Vanguard Records on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Video Tuesday: Gold Motel, Maroon 5, The Postelles

Maroon 5 are back with the first single off their upcoming September release, Hands All Over. The video for "Misery" is a bit violent and involves frontman Adam Levine's girlfriend trying to kill him. While the new album includes guest vocals by Lady Antebellum, the band haven't left their well-known pop sound. Watch the video below and for more on the new album, see Rolling Stone's video interview with the band here.

A few days ago posted Gold Motel's new music video for "Safe in L.A." With an airy, California vibe and a distinctive Motown sound, the track is bound to get you tapping your feet along. Watch it here.

The Postelles' latest music video for "White Night" just may make you forget the ridiculous heat we've been having here on the East Coast. Combining influences of 50's doo-wop and garage rock, the band is readying the release of their debut album, co-produced with the Strokes' guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., this October.

What new releases have I missed that you can't stop listening to? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Song of the Week: "Free"

As Fourth of July weekend approaches, what better way to kick off the festivities then to salute our troops and remember why we're all here? Watch Zac Brown Band's emotional performance of "Free" below.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Q&A with Chambers

Last Tuesday, Chambers released debut album, Old Love. With the goal to capture their live sound on the record, having witnessed their show this past Saturday, the five-piece band no doubt accomplished this. The LP embodies 11-tracks of aggressive rock & roll, hard vocals and killer guitar riffs that is bound to energize every listener.

I chatted with frontman Dan Pelic before the show about Chambers' songwriting process, maintaining his voice throughout the set and what exactly he's thinking about when screaming in the pit while fans are jumping on him. His answers may surprise you. Read below for more and be sure to visit the band on MySpace.

Reviewers have been comparing you to Doomriders and saying Old Love is an Album of the Year contender. Why do you think the album has been so well received?Well, I think they give us too much credit. I think these guys will probably hear someone else who’s just as exciting two months from now and say, “Oh, that’s the album of the year.” That’s a really scary, heavy term that we’re not deserving to have placed upon us right now being that we haven’t even been playing out for a year yet. I appreciate the general excitement about the record. I think what it is is that we’re a mish-mosh of a bunch of different influences. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything like that. We are something refreshing in our energy and the fact that we’re rooted in rock & roll makes us accessible and headbangable. That’s something a lot of the reviewers are getting excited about. That they’re not having to compute and decode and decrypt what we’re trying to do. It’s something they can turn on and immediately start banging their head to and get into.

But, we’re still refreshingly different in the sense that we’re rock & roll being played heavily with extremely hard vocals over it. I think that’s our secret. I come from a much heavier background where I’m rooted in hardcore punk and metal and everybody else in the band are strictly rooted in rock & roll. I think that’s our secret, just combining heaviness in one portion and the other portion being something with more swagger and rock & roll with sleaze.

What's your songwriting process?
Originally, it was the band riffing. We would have three band practices a week, I wouldn’t come to one of them and they would riff and just noodle around for an entire practice and record it. They would send me riffs and would say, “Write over it and come in.” Basically what happens is, they send me a demo and then I’ll take something that I’ve already written or I’ll write to it and put it over the music and we’ll come in to meet together and adapt whatever I’ve written to fit over it and do some arranging. The vocal melodies are made to the music, but the lyrics are written as poetry and that’s taken and put over the music. It’s basically jamming and taking parts and gluing them together. A lot of times the words have been written and the way that we structure the words will dictate how the arrangement of the music will go down at the end of the process.

I wanted to ask you about “Crap Out.” You’re screaming in it, but there is also some singing too.
The singing is actually Nathan Gray. He sings in a band called The Casting Out. He was in a legendary band called Boy Sets Fire and he’s providing the clean vocals on that track. It started off as me screaming that line, but then I started to sing that second line and I thought it was a good dynamic to have. It wasn’t really working for me. I don’t feel my clean singing vocal tone really fit.

We became friends with him from playing together with his new band and we decided to bring him into the studio and he did it and it sounded great. He came over to the studio at 1 ‘o’clock in the morning when all they wanted to do was drive back home to Delaware. He was a sport about it and stayed around and recorded those vocal tracks and he realized that chorus to its fullest potential.

Do you plan on doing that in the future?
Yeah. I’m a big Phil Anselmo fan from Pantara, Superjoint Ritual and Down. I don’t play guitar or anything, everybody else writes everything, they write the music. Provided that what they want to do allows for me to do some clean vocals, I want to do some clean vocals. But gritty, none of this Auto-Tune stuff. I want to do something gritty, but cleaner than the aggressive screaming that you hear on the rest of the record.

The title track is very edgy and aggressive, but underneath it’s almost more of a positive song.
It is in a way. Basically the song is about being really hung up on somebody for a long time. I don’t know if you want to use the metaphor, “Getting under somebody to get over somebody.” But, it’s about being really hung-up on somebody for a while and making a real strong sexual connection with someone [else] that it’s just so ridden with ecstasy that you kind of forget.

If you listen to the words, it’s about having great sex with someone and forgetting about someone and helping them teach you that you can make a new, strong connection. Albeit it’s sexual and shallow, but a new connection with someone else to help you get over someone from the past. So yeah, I guess it is a positive song. It sounds angry and everything but when you listen to the words . . . when you juxtapose that with the rest of the songs on the record, I think it sounds probably the most positive out of all the other songs that we have.

Do you have a favorite track, or one that means more to you than the others?
“So Here’s That Song I Wrote About You” I really love that one and “The Nest.” Those are probably my two favorites on the records. I want to start playing the last track, “Tragedy” live. My bandmates aren’t too keen on playing it live, but I want to make it happen as soon as possible.  That’s my personal opus. I wrote that in a hospital bed when I was going out with somebody who was absolutely robotic and terrible. Wouldn’t even come visit me while I was hospitalized. That song is a symbolic last straw. That song to me is really heartfelt. So I would definitely say “Tragedy,” “The Nest” and “So Here’s That Song I Wrote About You” are the pinnacles for me.

What can fans expect from your live show?
A lot of our hype has come from the UK. People really want us to come there, but it’s hard. Airfare, money. We were offered a tour over there with a band called Trash Talk but it was only eight dates and it was x amount of money per date. We don’t care about losing money to expose ourselves. We’ve been spending tons of money on PR and radio to help get our music onto the radio and get people to listen to us and write about us. It would have been a catastrophic amount of monetary loss. One dude in our band has a mortgage to pay. He’s trying to sell his house to alleviate that financial burden for himself.

There’s critical acclaim, but that’s not what matters the most. What matters the most is getting people to watch you. We feel that every single show we play, we nab a couple of new fans no matter where it is, be it here or out of state. That’s the bread and butter of being a band. People can talk and hype and hype and hype. There have been a million bands that I know that have been hyped, but nothing has happened for them. People from the press and reviewers and reporters can say what they want, but it really doesn’t matter if people aren’t coming along to your shows and singing with you.

What are you thinking about while you’re onstage or on the floor performing and people are jumping on you and pushing you across the floor?
So, while everything is happening around me and people are jumping on me and what not, aside from physically dealing with the onslaught, I am thinking about the meaning behind each line that I am singing. If I just sang the words, I wouldn't be half as into it. But when I'm remembering and reliving what I went through to need to write those words, I explode.

How do you maintain your voice?
Just like traditional singing, opera singing, singing in a rock band, whatever, there’s a technique to screaming just like there is for that. Basically learning proper technique and a lot of it is breath control and the way that you open up your throat to release the breath, it’s all about using your gas tank to put it out there. Long story short, learning proper screaming technique is essential for maintaining your voice, not only in the long term, but through the course of your set. If you’re just blowing out your voice in the first 10 minutes of your set and the last 15-20 minutes suck, that sucks for everybody. A lot of people think that music that has screaming over it is just senseless screaming. No, there’s actually technique. I’m hitting notes. I’m listening to the monitors and I know where I’m at. There’s definitely a technique and an art to screaming.

What makes Chambers different from every other band out there?
I think the fact that we’re dangerous sounding, we’re dangerous to see live to a degree. We’re very aggressive, but the fact that even though all five of us come from such different backgrounds, all five of us have common rock & roll influences, and who the fuck doesn’t like rock & roll? Anyone can come in and move to our music and appreciate it is what I feel makes us different. We’re very dangerous, but we’re not complicated to digest. We’re not so offensive that you can’t get over the things that we’re saying and talking about and doing onstage. The fact that anyone can at least appreciate it is what sets us apart while still being very aggressive and on the edge and what punk rock and hardcore bands are “supposed to be.” We try to be as heavy as we can but we still have this swagger to our music that’s rooted in rock & roll. We have a very diverse group of friends and those are your first fans and all our friends dug it from the get-go.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
I usually tell people we’re a really aggressive rock & roll band with heavy vocals. We don’t like to be pigeonholed into punk or hardcore or metal core, metallic hardcore as they call it in England. We have integrity. We have ideals that are rooted in hardcore and punk, but we like to play in front of whoever is in the audience. Whichever audience we play in front of it doesn’t matter as long as people are banging their heads and things are happening for us. We want to be successful without compromising ourselves. That’s where our integrity lies. We’ll never compromise our sounds, but we’ll do what it takes to bring this to be career musicianship.


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