Saturday, June 18, 2011

Interview and Album Review of Jolly

(L to R)- Anadale (Vox), Louis (Drums), Anthony (Bass), and Joe (Keyboard)

This progressive rock band simply known as Jolly, is creating music a lot more complex than their name leads you to believe.

For their latest album, The Audio Guide to Happiness Part 1, Jolly infuses binaural tones in their music that are experienced through headphones. To quote them directly,"The listener is subjected to musical mood dynamics and key lyrical triggers while the brain is fed corresponding binaural tones. These tones are carefully and deliberately interwoven within the music to support all appropriate peaks and valleys throughout the experience." In non scientific terms, this means every song has different emotional experience on the listener, whether happy, upbeat, or even anxious.

Jolly at the Full Cup by Justin Sarachik
The album plays from start to end as a story concept album. While songs can be listened to individually, the album is best heard as a whole. The album starts off strong with "End Where it Starts" because of its raw and heavy guitars. It's the perfect tone setter for an album filled with fantastic instrumentals laced with powerful vocals. Track three, "Joy" provides great melodies over the verse and features a solid chorus. "The Pattern" is the single worthy song of the album with overall strength in its entirety. "Where Everything's Perfect" is another one of the records strong single like tracks. It flows as a narrative story. What's really cool about this track is the overlying piano into the musical transitions. It adds so much to the music not just in the song, but throughout the disc.

Overall the album is a great listen. Hearing the transition between vocals and music is really the key of this album. Jolly does a great job of making these cues seamless and work hand-in-hand. It's a new breed of music, and it is obvious that a lot of thought and passion went into making it.

Jolly at the Full Cup by Justin Sarachik
Jolly is clearly out to be different saying about the tones, "It ads a spin. It's a bit controversial," said singer Anadale. Expanding onto their theme of "Audio Happiness" part 2 of the album is already made. "We wanted to have the songs together as a treatment. The album is done, but we don't have a set release date," said Louis. As of now, Jolly incorporates some of part 2's songs during their set now.

Asking them about how and why they came up with the current album's theme sparked a few different answers. Anadale said, "There are many trials and tribulations of reaching happiness." Joe thinks it's easily described as "Therapeutic." While, "Dynamic and emphasis of emotion," is what Louis came up with.

Jolly's previous release, 46 Minutes, 12 Seconds of Music, was a bit heavier. "The new record is our first attempt to really find our sound. It's mellower, but has the same sound," said Louis. They went on to describe how their first album was a bit rushed, because they were signed off of a few Myspace songs. The album had to come together quick for the label.

Hearing their small sample of music, a record label from Switzerland messaged them saying they would like to sign them. Jolly then got a manager and before they even got a handful of local shows under their belt, they headed for Europe, doing four shows in ten days. In those ten days Jolly was able to fully take in a small sample of the European music scene. "They are more open to new music, while people here want to hear songs they know," said Anthony. "The crowds are a lot less energetic, but they really listen. They soak in every word you say and really just listen," observed Joe.

Jolly at the Full Cup by Justin Sarachik
The band agreed that one of their greatest moments as a band was that first show in Europe. They arrived to Holland to a crowd of over 1,000 people. They met up in Europe after two hour train rides and connected from three different countries. The setting just made for an epic performance, and an amazing moment for the band. It also set the tone for what was to be a big fan base in Europe. They get help from their joint European/American label of Inside Out (Europe) and Century Media (U.S.) In return, Jolly helps to spread Inside Out in America.

 In the next five years Jolly hopes to be doing more touring in Europe, recording, and making a living off of music. In the immediate future, Jolly will be doing some east coast touring before heading back to Europe in the fall. They have a video release coming soon that is in the process of being edited. Right now it's under wraps and top secret.

Jolly at the Full Cup by Justin Sarachik
Jolly would also like the readers to know if you go to and type "Sibandguy" you can get two free downloads courtesy of the band. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Album Review "White Rabbit" by Egypt Central

Memphis Tennessee's Egypt Central is tearing up the up and coming artists music scene. 

With their release of White Rabbit on May 31st, the fans and critics have fully shown their support. Debuting this week at #5 on the SoundScan's "Current Hard Rock Album," they will also debut on spot #78 on the Billboard top 200 chart.

The single "White Rabbit," released on March 1st has already amassed over 21,000 downloads. You can watch the video for "White Rabbit" below.

Listening through this album in preparation for the review was both an enjoyable listen, and a promising experience. Never hearing Egypt Central before, I wasn't sure of what to expect, but what I got was excellent. 

Almost every track on this album is geared to be a single. The disc starts off with "Ghost Town." It's a good starter, as it features a heavy intro with melodic keys in the background. 

Up next is of course the namesake of the album, "White Rabbit." This track is quickly taking over my playlist for most played song. As a single it is absolutely perfect. It displays everything the band showcases, and has an incredibly catchy chorus. 

Track three, "Goodnight," serves as the slow single. It has that grungy Stone Temple Pilots/Creed feel to it. While the next track, "Kick Ass," has a Guns & Roses feel to it. It is a step up from the grunge into the gritty.

"Change" is more of a contemporary/alternative single for the radio crowd not looking to really rock out. "Drug" provides the listener with a little screaming on the track. It has a catchy chorus, but is more of a filler.

"Down in Flames" provides solid rock throughout, but didn't really stick on me. The next song however, picks the end of the album up with the strong "Enemy Inside." It is a slower rock ballad much in vain of Evanescence or Three Days Grace. We are reintroduced to some strings in this track, and it is a great radio play if they release it as one.

"Blame" is a strong chorus driven song, but is another filler in my opinion. "Dying to Leave" brings more of the dynamics back with a medium tempo balance between music and vocals. 

"Surrender" is easily the weakest track. When I say weak, I don't mean terrible. The problem is the strong songs are "really strong." 

"Backfire" is a great closeout to the album. It is an acoustic track and is a nice departure from the heavy rock. It's a nice touch that let's you hear the strength in John Falls voice.

Overall this album is an exceptional release, and should continue to do well as it makes it's way up the charts. Expect to hear a lot more from Egypt Central as their fans chase after the White Rabbit.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Huge Mega Update!!!

Band Spotlight
If you've never heard of the band Moving Mountains, I suggest you look them up immediately or read the interview I had with their singer Greg. Doing an album review Waves is on the things to do list. Anyway, check out their new video for "Cascade" below.

Another band that has been brought to my attention recently is, The Body Rampant. I was sent their music video for "Sativa." They recently released their new album, Transient Years on April 5th. I'm not sure who they remind me of yet (which is a good thing), but they have that same Moving Mountains feel to them. I guess for the time being we will go with Armor for Sleep meets a melodic Taking Back Sunday. Check out their very interesting video below.

A'tris song of the week
As usual, I will remain faithful to my buddy Mason of A'tris and update you all on the song of the week project. Can you believe they are up to week 21 already? Keep up the good work boys! Check out 20 and 21 below.

Playdough Releases New video
Don't worry my hip-hop heads, I have something for you too! Check out Playdough's new video for "Ya Heard" featuring Mr. Dibbs vs. the Black Keys. Read my interview and review of his album here.

Jon Santos of Fallzone Releases a Teaser
My favorite producer, Jon Santos of 1176 Studios, gave us a little promo of what's going to be on the new Fallzone album with a backyard BBQ rendition of "Dance with Me." Give it a listen below.

Oh yeah, and this too

New Episode of Hollywood Girl
Speaking of Jon Santos, have you seen the show he works on, Hollywood Girl? Congratulations are in order because Hollywood Girl will soon be featured on a local channel out in California. Courtney Zito, keep up the good work! Watch the new episode below.

Process of Fusion
Last but certainly not least in my heart, check out my band in the Aquarian Weekly (click that). Special shout out to Dave Incognito for the hook up. Also, for anyone wondering on the status of the new album, it's almost here. It is completely finished, we are just in the process of creating artwork and getting some background stuff taken care of. Listen here for the first two singles.

Also, check out a side project of mine with singer/songwriter Matt Beck, called Cross Town Rivals. Listen to our first single "Fool Me Twice" here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Effects of Illegal Downloading on the Music Industry with Interviews

The final project I worked on in my group was on the long-term affects of music piracy on the music industry, labels, and artists. Looking at the trends of music from 2000 to 2011, we wanted to capture the general feeling and decline of music sales since online servers like Napster and Pirate Bay. We set out to see if people were downloading illegally more than they were purchasing. To no surprise, the answers, surveys, and studies we did all pointed to people illegally downloading with seemingly no conscience about it. Why do we need anything else if it is in front of our fingertips in seconds and it's free? This is why a multi-million dollar band like Metallica has to sue Napster for copyright infringement.
I conducted three short interviews with three people covering different plains of the music industry. The three professionals interviewed are: Scott Vollweiler-owner of Broken Records Magazine, Mason Taylor-singer/songwriter and front man of indie rock band A’tris with expertise on social networking and music marketing, and Jon Santos-formerly signed by Wind Up Records in the early 2000’s with then band, Sevenwiser. I asked them all the same seven basic questions, and though biased because of their position within music, they gave great answers. The questions were:

1. What are your general feelings about music piracy?

2. Do you think it hurts or helps the artists?
3. Ultimately is piracy more of a problem for labels or artists?
4. What are ways artists can use piracy to their advantage if any?
5. Do you think it can be stopped? Should it be stopped?
6. Do/would you yourself download music illegally?
7. Do you think having something like iTunes deters people from downloading music?

Scott Vollweiler is the creator of Staten Island’s own Broken Records Entertainment. Within the company, Vollweiler has a magazine, recording studio, photographer business, and various other ventures. In just six years time the company has grown exponentially, and the magazine has featured some of the worlds biggest musicians like Aerosmith and Carrie Underwood to name a few. Vollweiler is no stranger to piracy. He was formerly in a band himself and is quite aware of the difficulties that come just with being a musician; let alone being in a place to create music.

His views on music piracy, as expected are strictly against it saying, “Music piracy is wrong. I know the music business is crooked, but bands that are trying to make it are losing their opportunity.” He explains that piracy can only hurt musicians and labels because newer bands will not receive the same support as major ones. He feels that although there are possibilities of piracy helping, it is unlikely saying, “A billion dollar corporation can easily go broke. Look at EMI, they've been bought twice.”

Vollweiler goes on to say that piracy will never be totally gone because “There’s always loopholes on the net.” He then admits he himself has illegally downloaded music in the past, but stopped once he started the company. He was able to understand the struggle of an artist a lot better. Lastly, he doesn’t feel iTunes deters people away from illegally downloading but instead provides a “happy alternative.”

Mason Taylor, the lead singer of A’tris is not in a signed band, so while his views on piracy tend to agree with Vollweiler’s, he finds a hope in it. When asked what his general feelings on piracy are, he said “It would be nice if people paid for music.” Interestingly enough, Taylor feels that while piracy hurts the artist, he also feels it greatly helps as well. He doesn’t doubt piracy negatively impacts the whole industry, but thinks there are ways for musicians to capitalize on it. “I don't believe that encouraging piracy is beneficial to artists. Promotions involving free or discounted digital components are a better solution in my mind as they can be structured advantageously for fans and bands. For example, an artist may offer a free download in exchange for a fan's e-mail address,” he said.

Sure enough, this is exactly like something A’tris is doing. Every Tuesday A’tris records a new song and releases an accompanying video for it on Youtube. Youtube is of course a free service, but A’tris also offers the instrumental track for free download if you join the mailing list. In the mailing list A’tris suggests listeners to take the solo track and record their own versions or covers of the song. Also in the email, they encourage the listener to check out and purchase some merchandise. At the end of the 52-week period of songs, A’tris will take the top viewed videos they released, and create an album off of those. This is a way to get fans involved with the creation of an their favorites band’s recording process. It’s a good way to entice an audience to give you a chance. They feel involved and want to invest in you.

As far as sites like iTunes and Amazon, Taylor had a lot to say,
“…Convenience is king. I believe that, if people are empowered to legally consume music when they want, the way they want, we will see piracy continue to decline. Already e-retailers like iTunes provide a frictionless solution for purchasing music. With Amazon and Google offering cloud locker services, and Apple rumored to debut a similarly but potentially more feature-rich option, I hope that we will see piracy further reduced by choice. 
On a side note, I believe it's interesting to note that Amazon and Google currently offer their services without label support. Apple is reportedly the only company that is moving into the cloud space at this time with signed agreements from the four majors. Choice is key. If people have more options, they may choose to exercise them.”

Taylor seems to be on the verge of something great, and really understands the concept of being an independent artist. A’tris will have no problems in continuing on with the growth of their music.

Jon Santos is a former touring and signed lead singer of once popular band Sevenwiser off Wind Up Records. Santos has heard his music played on The Punisher Soundtrack and in the movie Cursed. In addition to this his music has been featured in video games MVP 2004 I and Nascar 2005. He currently works as a producer/engineer and videographer/photographer in his Whitestone, Queens studio, 1176 Studios. At the moment he is filming a short show series on Youtube that has just been picked up by a small cable network, Hollywood Girl. Clearly Jon is no stranger to the music industry and media in general. More so than my other two interviews, he’s been there and done that. He perhaps had the strongest and almost angriest type of reactions to the questions.

His general feelings about music piracy are bluntly honest as he says, “ I’m really not a big fan of that. I don’t understand how people can feel good about themselves when they steal someone’s work. It’s the same thing as walking in to Best Buy and just taking the CD right off the shelf and walking out the door, is that right?”

Like Taylor, Santos feels that piracy is two fold as far as helping or hurting, “If a new upcoming band gets themselves out there a bit more by letting their music out for free and they pick up a few hundred or more fans then great for them. The problem at that point is you can’t track your sales and numbers and you can’t build much of an income to float the band.” Santos also believes that piracy has mainly killed the label, which in turn destroys the artist. Now instead of making money on music, the label takes a big chunk of what a band makes on touring and events, let alone having to split the money with your band mates. “Not unless you are Lady Gaga or any of them other big time artists that are making 90 million a year from sales and have crazy live shows, [are you making money]…good luck with that,” he said.

Santos feels very strongly about stopping piracy but isn’t quite sure of exactly how saying, “How about everyone just walks around and starts stealing people’s homes, taking their cars, not paying for anything; what will be the future for any of us at that point?  Can it be stopped? Not unless we stop technology and revert back about 20 years.” He doesn’t think it can be stopped in full, but thinks it can be slowed. 

These three music professionals have seen music from the inside and out and obviously know where the trends of music are going. The future is certainly not clear, but it has become increasingly difficult for an artist to make any money on their craft. Santos told me the most money he has made in music is through his placement in movies and games. I remember meeting Taylor and asking him what he thought the keys to getting your music heard was, he said “placement.” All of the ideas are the same, but none of the direction is clear. In the long run, music for sure is in a down place just like the rest of our economy. It’s up to the future of music to try and turn it around like A’tris is trying so hard to do. To quote Clay Shirky, “Nothing will work, but everything might.”