Thursday, February 28, 2013

Throwback Thursday's!

So I've been trying to come up with new features for the blog and I'm thinking a Throwback Thursday is a cool idea! I'd basically like to give a shout out and post a video or two of bands that were instrumental to me growing up as a fan. Most of my real developing music listening came in the early 2000's.

The first band I ever got into was Lifehouse. For whatever reason they really got me started on exploring rock even though I barely consider them a rock band anymore...funny how things change.

The year was 2000 and their smash introduction to the world was the album No Name Face. And of course the hit single was, "Hanging by a Moment," which you could still hear on adult alternative and contemporary stations everywhere.

So Lifehouse, here's to you, and thanks for the memories!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Figurehead 'The Watermelon EP' Review and Interview

The Watermelon EP Cover
First off, I would like like to say, welcome back boys! I was hoping it wasn't the end for FH, and thank God it isn't. I've had the privilege of playing shows and being friends with these guys, and I can honestly say they are one of the most talented, humble, and well respected local bands on Staten Island.

Behold, Figurehead's The Watermelon EP...oh wait, shhhhh, you're not supposed to hear it yet, so I will kindly describe it for you...

Kick starting the ep is "Where is Your Self Control?" I love Sanbeg's drum fills that follow the guitar riffs in the opening. Immediately I noticed how crisp Taranto's vocals, dubs, and harmonies were. For a home studio recording everything is leveled nicely and yet still has that garageband luster.

"Serotonin" follows, and slows everything down. Very good guitar and bass work here. Scarsella effortlessly flows on this track. There's a great guitar solo further on in the song that is a perfect blend of chaos and melody, well done.

The next track, "Incense" Taranto pulls out his best Dave Grohl impression (sorry Chris), and pretty much vocally destroys this song. Everything about this song scream 90s grunge a la Foo Fighters or even early Incubus and Radiohead. However, the best parts of this song start just before the three minute mark, when Taranto aggressively attacks/yells the chorus leading into yet another chaotic yet organized instrumental bridge. I like what they did in the mix as well, panning the instruments back and fourth so you are being hit with different sounds on both the left and the right. It gives the listener a very cool, or disorienting feel.

"Accept the Change" sees Taranto bust out the screeching aggressive vocals like the previous song. The track is consistently on the heavier side and features Figurehead's signature instrumental rock out/breakdown, but this time it fades out into the next track, where we are brought back down in tempo.

"In Some Other World" lightens up the mood from the two heavier tracks before. It's just such a smooth and chilled out tune that it makes you vibe out without even thinking about it. The bass and drums keep the tempo, and the guitar is so relaxed. More than any other track this feels like and Incubus jam. The name of the song is perfect because you feel as if you are transported somewhere care free.

Overall, a very solid return to music for Figurehead. The Watermelon EP manages to put some of the best works on the band on wax and create something very well done and yet contain the right amount of Do-It-Yourself. Alternative/Grunge/Punk in the way Figurehead does it might not be "in" anymore or right now, but they don't care and create passionate and simply put, "good music." So if you are into Foo Fighters, Nirvana, and a sprinkle of Green Day and Incubus, then this is the band for you. Keep rocking my friends and I'll see you all on March 23rd for the EP release show.

With Chris Taranto (Vocals/Guitar)
Why is Figurehead back together and how did it happen?
Getting back together was really organic and fast. I was listening to some things we had recorded and I was playing with some other really talented musicians and I asked Joe if he wanted to record again. One thing led to another and then I offered to play shows while Mike was home for winter break and bam, we were a band again. We never really had to ask or say to each, so this means we're a band again? It just was.

Did getting back together spark a greater fire in you guys as a band, and how has this resurgence affected your music?
I think we still have the same fire as when we left in May. We've always fired on all cylinders, right from day one. I think we are a lot more focused now. We hammered out the EP in about two weeks and are slowly starting to branch out and play new places (Sullivan Hall, New Paltz, etc.). We're writing again already, too. It's like nothing changed other than our focus.

How did the process of the Watermelon EP pan out, and what were some of the challenges in recording it?
This EP took about a year and change to make. We actually recorded it (minus "Incense") a year ago. But we never mixed the entire thing and it just sat around; hence our lack of focus in the past. When we got back together, Mike proposed that since we had some better equipment and more knowledge of recording we should just re-record the EP and add "Incense" to the tracklisting. Then we had more difficulties, always technical ones with the recording program. It would randomly stop recording while I was doing guitar tracking on "Accept the Change," so we had to piece the guitar tracks together. And the worst was mixing "Where's Your Self Control?" because the program deleted the bass drum towards the end of the song and we had no idea where it went. It was so f**king aggravating. We had to make Mike play just a bass drum to fix that.

Why watermelon?
We've had this inside joke for quite a while concerning someone most people know and said person has possibly had sexual intercourse with a watermelon. We're cruel people.

Tell us a little bit about the upcoming EP release show.
We've got this amazing EP show coming up on March 23rd. It's taking place at the NYC Arts Cypher Center, located on Broad Street in Staten Island. We've got all of our friends playing (Paraiso, A Work in Progress, Process of Fusion, Strays, and Diet) and it's only $5 to get in. We're really trying to push for a community of musicians with this show. All of the bands are splitting the cost of the venue (which I am so grateful for, no one had any problems with helping us out) and all of the funds go back to the bands from the door. No splitting with promoters or anyone else. Hopefully we get a lot of people to come out to the show and we'll try to book things like this more often and maybe branch out to other venues, as well.

How have the fans taken to Mike's new haircut, and has he lost some of his musical power?
I don't know how the fans have taken to Mike's new haircut, but we inside the band think it was quite a good decision. At first Joe and I were really skeptical and were like "NOOO, DON'T DO IT!" but Mike actually looks really good. He's becoming a hipster up there at Oneonta. (Haha) Not really. And no, he's no Sampson. He's actually gotten even better since he went to college, which is saying something cause he's a tremendous drummer, the best I've ever played with. I tried to start another band while we were away and I couldn't find a drummer like him.

How would sum up Figurehead in one sentence to a complete stranger?
I would say that we're one of the most honest, hardworking, punk rock bands on the scene.

What does the future hold for the band?
I wish I could give you a clear answer, but I honestly don't know (haha). The future depends on me. If I feel creative, we'll do a lot and we'll be very active. If I feel like I don't want to be doing something, we won't do it. I am a pain to work with, I don't know how they put up with me. But right now we've got a lot of things planned and a lot of music to start working on. I have about 16 demos ready to go, so only time will tell.

Is there anything you'd like to say or leave the fans with?
I would like to thank all of the fans and friends who've been so open to our return. They've done a great job at supporting us in Brooklyn and Manhattan and I really, really, really hope to see you at the release show and hopefully you guys and gals dig the EP. It's gonna be a lot of fun, it's just up to you to show up. Thank you, the band loves you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Almost Home 'Royalty EP' Review

Almost Here is a Staten Island based hardcore/metal band who recently just released their first EP, Royalty. I hadn't heard of them until they reached out to me through email, and I'm glad they did.

Royalty opens up with a soft piano and synth driven instrumental track called, "Don't be Alarmed; This is a Kindness."The melodic "non-hardcore" intro track has also been seen in local bands such as: Heroes and Relics; both very good hardcore bands.

From there the listener is blasted by guitars from the right as "Dig Your Own Grave" opens with panning guitars. This song reminds me of classic Comeback Kid, with a punkier style of music mixed with yelled vocals, but also had it's own dimension in deep screams. The song ends with an even heavier burst of double bass and duel guitars then it started with.

"Rip Out My Heart" comes in with a calm, as vocalist Johnny sings over pretty guitar parts. After the song switches into intense screaming, the chorus gets very punk heavy, kind of an unexpected surprise. It was a solid switch. After the second chorus the songs sort of changes entirely and sticks with the punk-hardcore sounds until the end.

"Four Nineteen" has singing in the beginning just like the track before and then heads into probably the best musical part of the album. There's a lot of dynamic between the musicians going back and fourth. This is definitely my favorite track on the album because of the level of musicianship in the song, everything blends perfectly.

Overall, Almost Home did a great job on the Royalty EP. Technically the album only has three full songs on it, we need more! They are off to the right track and the actual recording quality is killer.

Check out Almost Home below:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Link Drop - Videos from She Said Fire, Figurehead and More!

Process of Fusion
POF does the Harlem Shake and debuts a new song this Fusion Friday, wow, not bad!

Figurehead is releasing their Watermelon EP, here's a behind the scenes look at it!

Never heard of this band before but I saw they were promoting this song on Facebook. Nice job guys, check them out!

She Said Fire
She Said Fire is back at it again with their newest Pajama Jam's. These are pretty cool and unique. This week they cover Incubus and do "Pardon Me."

Everyone's favorite INDIE rapper is at it again. Take a look, and show him some Wu-Love!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spoken Album Review for 'Illusion'

Finally the wait is over! Hard rock band Spoken is back, and they are bringing the noise with their newest release, Illusion.

Prior to Illusion, which will be released on February 12th, Spoken hadn't released an album since their self-titled in 2007. However, that time gap hasn't been all idol time, the band has been working on the album since 2010.

"We've always been a band that tours nonstop, and we live in three different states. Writing music is sometimes difficult with that equation. There's been a little time between records, but we've never slowed down as far as being a band. You can expect better songwriting on the new record. We approached this record differently than we have the other records. We did the new record with Jasen Rauch, (Brian HEAD Welch, Disciple, RED, and more)," said singer Matt Baird in a previous interview on here.

'Illusion' Cover
Spoken has always been a band that has varied in styles musically. Their first couple of albums were rap/metal reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine, while their next few were more post hardcore before naturally maturing to a refined metal sound. Illusion takes the best of their previous formulas and infuses it with poppier hooks and catchier choruses.

Illusion kicks off with powerful guitars on "Stand Alone." The verses are yelled as Baird is forcing them through a controlled and synchronized scream to go with the music. The chorus then switches to more of a melodic section before he flips it back to screaming.

"Beneath the Surface" starts off very much like the first track; with dual guitars blazing and screaming vocals. Following the same formula as "Stand Alone," the chorus features sung vocals. There's a cool little underwater effect placed throughout the song that adds just the right amount of filter 'beneath the surface.'

The next track in "Don't Go." Heavy guitars open up, but the verses are more of an aggressive singing. The chorus is layered with strong melodies, "Close your eyes and remember me the way I was before...Just stay with me and we can weather the storm," powerful lyrics.

"Through it All All" is the first song on the album that switches gears and also their first single. It's a bit mid-tempo and has a nice blend of guitar work and what sounds like subtle piano or guitar. It positive with a message with the hook proclaiming, "Though our hearts have been broken, we've been burned by the flame/We will rise from the ashes again!"

"More Than You Know" showcases a poppier side of Spoken. The vocals are a bit whispery at times, and again are layered with fantastic harmonies. Overall it's just a solid song touching upon the subjects of self worth and self admittance.

Flowing perfectly from the last track, "Remember the Day" has a soft tone but a big feel. The recording itself has a grand quality, heavy guitars and booming vocals. Spoken does a superb job in capturing a "rock ballad" with this one.

Bang, que the noise, "Shadow Over Me" adds the jolt back into the album after the two-track lull. Adversely, this song is the first time where Baird screams over the chorus and sings the verse. The bridge into the drop out/outro is nicely done as well.

To sum up the song "Accuser" simply... it's heavy. Everything about the song is gut punchingly heavy and it's awesome, especially the metal breakdown part towards the end!

"Take Everything"is a track that could probably be another single because it has a very commercial sound, and a clear relatable focus. "My heart is yours for the taking," could be about a girl or in the case of Spoken's Christian roots, a reference to the forgiveness of God.

"Tonight" slows it back up and is about feeling alive and making a declaration of change and using one moment, 'Tonight,' to transform and "leave it all behind." A great message of encouragement in an easy package.

Next up is the softest track on the album, "Calm the Storm." Again, another powerful song with an inspirational chorus. "Be the hope when the world is crashing down/Come wrap your arms around me/Calm the storm inside me." The song is a cry out to God for his comforting touch to get through any situation.

The title track, "Illusion," finishes up the album with a burst of energy just like in the beginning. Back is the screaming, back is the harmonic melodies, and on come the gritty guitars. "Illusion" matches "Stand Alone" musically as it follows similar guitar patterns, and even starts the same with the faded in sound. The song ends with Baird's chanting as guitar feedback overcomes it.

Through and through, this album is a great welcome back for Spoken. The production is great, the vocals are on point, and the heaviness is brutal with some solid standard rock tracks sprinkled in. Illusion takes the listener through ups and downs as far as sonically, with bouts of heaviness, ballads, and midtempo coming in clusters. Spoken has certainly evolved through the years and with this latest transformation, they are going the right way.