Archive for May, 2010


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Sweet! I want a pair!

Want some new kicks? Green Day’s Mike Dirt can deliver just what you need. Teaming up once again with Macbeth, for his second collaboration, Dirnt has designed a super cool B&W high-top. The design is 100% vegan, eco-friendly, and too cool for skool.

Says Dirnt: “I always love working with Macbeth. We have worked flawlessly since day one and I am excited to continue our collaborative efforts. Our first studio collaboration got great feedback and I am confident that everyone will appreciate my second design. I am extremely excited to get it out in stores and see the response.”

Earlier this year, the Green Day bassist donated the royalties from his first Studio Project collaboration, to the Soles4Souls Foundation. Since 2005, the organization has given away over 7 million pairs shoes to people in need in over 125 countries.


The Mike Dirnt Macbeth Studio Project will be available July 2010. Check out Dirnt discussing a previous design for Macbeth, below.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Want an album with rock royalty and epic guest collabos? Allow me to reintroduce Slash, whose new self-titled album has something for all. Slash is a modern guitar god, and he’s back with a vengeance with his first solo project. As any music fans would know, guitar legends are not known for a singing voice. To solve this dilemma, Slash gets by with a little help from his friends: Kid Rock, Adam Levine, Iggy Pop, Fergie, and more. Album mission: to prove rock and roll is not dead.

Beautiful Dangerous featuring Fergie is an unexpected bad-ass turn of super-melodic rock with exceptional vocal work. Fergie hits the notes while Slash entirely fills this track with coating upon coating of balanced, incredible lead work. This is just one of the tracks that will make your heart jump. Also noteworthy is Watch This featuring Dave Grohl, and Crucify the Dead featuring Ozzy Osbourne.

Slash stays devoted to his hard rock roots on this album while experimenting with a variety of ingredients, ranging from hard rock songs, country riffs, slow acoustic, headbanging metal, and even hip hop–creating the perfect recipe. But the one that brings the album together is the glue of a powerful guitar. He has had a prevailing presence in music for more than twenty years. Referred to by many as one of the utmost and most influential guitar players of all time, Slash’s signature style and authoritative guitar mastery has impacted not only millions of fans around the world, but many of his fellow artists, which is reflected onto the album’s tracks.

Do yourself a favor and listen to this album, for you may be surprised how much you enjoy it. He makes the guitar sound sexy as hell. A black top hat, a bottle of Jack Daniels on hand, and a cigarette in his mouth, Slash will always be one of the most recognizable figures in rock, whether solo or backed by a posse.

Let your ears be cut.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

So let me just first say that I think this season of American Idol has been pretty boring. Yes, I ended up really liking both Lee and Crystal but overall, the contestants this year just seemed lackluster. No, I am not trying to hate, I clearly think that all participants are talented but it was the whole package, the wow factor, that was missing.

Basically, if you missed the show last night, all you missed was what you’re about to see below, which is Christina Aguilera’s surprise performance. Singing of smoking guns, lost magic, and the tragedy of a relationship falling apart due to someone cheating, Aguilera poured her heart and soul out, singing her song You Lost Me, from her upcoming Bionic disc. Aguilera may have entered the stage in an over-the-top pop star kind of way, but when the lights dimmed and she stood in the center of the stage for a solo, in nothing but simple black attire, hair pulled back, Aguilera proved that she doesn’t need smoke and mirrors, outrageous effects or costumes to prove that she is truly one of a kind.

Honestly, I was about to fall asleep until Aguilera showed up. The show seemed to be very outdated to me, so it was good to see someone who is current take the stage. All respect to any artist who has paved the way in shaping music, but seriously, I started to feel like I was watching American Idol: The Old Folks Home Edition. I get that it’s interesting to see entertainers who have been out of the spotlight for decades swoosh back onto the stage all of a sudden, but at the same time, it just felt like a bit too much. Or hey, maybe it was just me? Kudos to all the performers though, in the end.

As far as Lee Dewyze winning Idol, I called that a long time ago. Why? Because America always goes for the safe guy. Always. This never fails. Last season, Kris Allen (whose performance last night was on point, btw) took the title from not-so-safe Adam Lambert. Before Kris, we had David Cook (safe), Taylor Hicks (safe), Ruben Studdard (safer than safe), and now Lee Dewyze (safe). You get my drift. Unfortunately the show really does end up being a big popularity contest over voting for actual talent, because as much as I like Lee (who is a very talented dude), Crystal deserved that title IMHO, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Oh! And goodbye Simon, the show will probably suck without you. Paula was her usual self last night, and I have to say, I was actually very touched by what Simon said to the crowd. The man clearly has a heart of gold and will truly be missed. I personally cannot believe it’s been ten years. Boy, does time fly. Someone pass the Ovaltine.

In closing, if you missed the finale, all you truly missed (in my opinion) that’s worth watching is Aguilera’s number, which you can watch below.

Question: Who do you think deserved to win American Idol?

Sound off in the comments.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I mighta been born just plain white trash but Fancy was my name!

Sorry, had to throw that out there.

Country legend Reba McEntire put a country ring on it when she recently covered Beyonce’s classic hit, If I Were a Boy for a recent episode of CMT’s Unplugged. And the outcome is amazing! Reba takes the song and sings it effortlessly, proving that if a message is universal (ya know, the whole boys being douchebags thing) then it can be sung in any format, in any language, in any part of the world and will still have a powerful effect on the audience, if the artist connects with the song emotionally. And Reba certainly does.

This is not the first time a song of Beyonce’s was covered by another well-know country artist. In 2007, Sugarland famously performed Irreplaceable on the American Music Awards where Knowles even took to the stage to join in singing along.

Check out Reba’s spin on If I Were A Boy, below.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Back in Black; The Black Keys new album Brothers has surpassed any other album I have bought this year. Yes I have praised many magic music makers here on BTB, and thus far, this takes the gold. Don’t get me wrong, there is no scarcity of bluesy rock records out these days, and I didn’t think I needed to dart out to seize another one, until now. With two other classic albums over the last decade, the Black Keys have inaudibly exposed themselves to be an exceedingly consistent band, and the maturation of the Black Keys as record makers and performers has been both delicate and staggering. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, you’ve done it again.

The dirty beat and rickety falsetto of icebreaker Everlasting Light is so opposed to the typical that it almost seems intended to scare fans away. Bad news that Brothers is poles apart from the rest of The Black Keys library? No, no sir. Musicians must evolve, and this is an evolution. After all, when a key is inserted into the appropriate lock, the lock can be rotated. A disc packed with stripped down, raw, heavy riffs. Haven’t heard of these guys? Don’t fret, you can catch up now.

The entire album was produced by the duo, except one stand out track by Danger Mouse (who co-produced the boys album Attack and Release) titled Tighten Up; arguably the strongest track on the album, for Mouse is a musical whiz kid. The hip organ-sprinkled tempo-shifting beat will have you hooked (“Someone said true love was dead, but I’m bound to fall for you,”). Someone else also said true music was dead, but you’re bound to fall for The Black Keys.

Brothers is outstanding, consistently strong stuff, though this one feels a bit tamer, with more of an R&B influence, which could pull in fans from all directions. Upon listening to The Black Keys, it may be rough to grasp that they are purely a duo. Their character and musicianship yields a sound larger than some mega bands. Boys devoted to their sound, yet still carry on redefining themselves, exploring many shades of blues.

Unlock your normal mainstream taste, and grab a key.


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Ready to start a riot? The Deftones are here to help. Fully loaded and ready to rearrange your hearing and revamp your auditory nerve. I’ve always been a fan of their slick, heavy musical style, that thundering bass that makes the speakers shake if put up at a proper volume. These cool cats have been tearing it up since ‘89, and they’re not even thinking about stopping. Against all their trials (and they’ve had a lot of them), they’ve pulled it together and kept the strings strumming. Most people when faced with too many obstacles will lay down, bury their dreams, and make do with a common life. For these guys, that was never considered as an option. All anyone has to do is take a look and a listen, and they’ll understand why The Deftones have so many people dancing to their tune.

Their newest album, Diamond Eyes, is a perfect element for mass destruction and ideal creation. It was leaked onto the internet around March, and the results have been beautiful. The Deftones have a huge slough of loyal fans, and everyone has been biting their nails down, waiting for this album’s official release. Some are saying that the new album doesn’t carry the band’s classic edge, but most aren’t disappointed. (I fall in the latter category.)

Some of the songs are brimmed with pain, while others are forceful, having all passions unhinged. Like anything they put out, it’s all an idyllic headbanging induction. Thankfully, the screamo elements aren’t overdone, but have just enough zest behind them to remind you just how intense hard rock and progressive metal should feel. If anything, it’s a refreshing take on their usual style, proving, as usual, that they’re never bound to one single genre.

No matter what you want to label it, their music still has the power to make your hair stand on end and your brain feel numb with confused ecstasy. With every chorus, especially in Royal, the tune seems to hit you in slow motion, peeling away the strength of chaos and finding the centre within. Any song could be considered the ‘best song’ of the album, making the whole CD a joyride.

Yet, who would have thought that such kick-ass fellas could be so sensitive. Not only do they possess undying loyalty for their fans, but their heartfelt actions often hit right at home. In light of their bassist Chi Cheng getting into a car accident and going into a semi-conscious state two years ago, the band has gone to many lengths to keep updates on his condition, and encourage donations to help him through the process. Hard rockers with hearts of gold — how often do you see that?

If you’re in the mood to let the beat take over, check out their music video for Rocket Skates below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

If you read BTB on da regular you would know my favorite cup of music is pop. Although, I also love some good indie rock and pretty much all things music oriented, I fall quickly for a simple pop tune, especially when backed by strong female vocals in the vein of Ryan Tedder production characteristics.

Not long ago I wrote an entire post on alcohol and somehow managed to tie this to the fact that I miss JoJo (see kids, you don’t need alcohol to be scatter-brained). Many tracks have leaked from JoJo’s recording sessions but due to some issues with finding stability at a label, it appears it may be some time before we see a new album and this BLOWS MY MIND, because the leaked tracks I am hearing are pure pop perfection, just like the one you’re about to hear.

Do I really need to bring out a picket sign and a megaphone?! [Ha]


Listen to Wrong Man For The Job below.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Robyn is out with a fantastic music video for her first single Dancing On My Own (from her upcoming Body Talk album series). The thing I love about Robyn is she’s taken a format of music, the electronic side, and actually made it have emotion. Often with electronic music, the focus is simply on the beats, but with Robyn her lyrics always shine with much attitude and heart.

Robyn announced earlier this year that her new album would actually be a mini-series (3 parts/discs in all). At first, when I heard the news, I thought this was either a bit much or a bit ambitious but after hearing the first single I have no doubts that the project(s) will be neon, heartbreaking, with the attitude driven fierceness that the Swedish singer usually brings to all of her music.

Watch the Max Vitali-directed video below.

Robyn ‘Dancing On My Own’ (Official Video) from Robyn on Vimeo.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Too cool for skool!

Most 16-year-olds are not as cool as Daisy Coburn. Let’s face facts: most teens her age are awkward little people having mild panic attacks every time Justin Bieber comes on the radio. But not Daisy. Daisy’s writing her own creative music and shooting polished music videos, like the one you’re about to see.

Daisy Dares You is out with the video to the new single Rosie which features You Me at Six, the 2nd release from the British pop singer’s debut album Rush, due out soon via Jive. The single is out just one day after Independence Day on July 5th.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

States of Emotion recently released a sharp music video for their proper single The Unsung. The four songwriters who draw influences from the likes of Oasis, Nirvana, and Coldplay, pour out emotion in the dusky black and white clip.

Over the past year the band rocked support slots all over the UK, preparing for a breakout. The alternative sound of the Essex group certainly does not lack edge as you will see in the clip. It’s brooding, punk, and melodramatic in a way that only Euro bands seem capable of pulling off.

Check out the video below.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

The Gaslight Anthem’s new album, American Slang, is mayhem. New Jersey natives and local celebs (shout out to my home state), if you don’t know the band, you should. They’ve made a name for themselves by touring consistently and by letting their music do the talking. They are the explanation of hard work paying off, rapidly rising to fame. I cannot wait for the world to hear this album on June 15th, rhythmic drive that is catapulted by the raw vocal shield of Brian Fallon, marking the lead single and title track. This dude’s voice is extraordinary, down the line, and could be one of the most dominant in the genre.

Like most of their work, American Slang describes the struggle living as a median class individual, but their music is nothing short of first class. Screw the commonplace rotation pop songs; this is an unpolluted rock n’ roll group made for the fans. In the words of Fallon himself in an interview: “American Slang is just what we do. That’s who we are. You’re presented with this American Dream and all these American possibilities — and then there’s the reality of what actually happens with your life.”

Stand out tracks We Did It When We Were Young and Stay Lucky are like any anthem, songs of devotion and loyalty. In my opinion, there are two ways you could view this album: what you would hear the band play in some club that would make you get gone in the sway of the music with some other directionless soul, or just get lost riding into the lonely nights with the sunroof open and half a tank of gas.

At the end of the day, Gaslight Anthem is a group that leaves me torn. One part of my music embellished soul wants to call up everyone I know and talk about them. Another part of you wants to keep it to myself, for I know it’s just a matter of time before my hometown heroes become a world-wide phenomenon. All of the ingredients are there for the fame monster recipe.

Check out this album for The Gaslight Anthem is as good as it gets.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

This past Saturday, I woke up to an invitation to see the New York Yankees play. I said yes, even though I’ve never followed the sport a day in my life. Here’s what I learned about baseball (specifically the New York Yankees) as the day unfolded.

1. Yankee fans are obsessed crazies.

I wore a NY hat to show my support but most people were borderline nuts in their pride. It was awesome!

2. A-Rod has a nice ass BUTT…

I debated saying this because it’s um, you know, gay. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to say it because I think A-Rod is without a doubt a handsome guy, but Saturday, the player who I thought brought the sweet vibe swagger was Ramiro Pena. He just has the presence of someone who carries a big heart. I’m voting for him to be on the next cover of GQ. A-Rod & Derek Jeter have hogged the spotlight way too long.

3. Are you a pitcher or a catcher?

In the game of baseball no label’s less masculine than the other for these boys definitely gave it 110%, no matter the position. And no, that wasn’t meant to sound dirty. You guys are sick!

4. Birds shit on you at games.

Speaking of sick…true story, a pigeon literally decided to flush its toilet on an innocent stranger behind me. Gross but supposedly a sign of good luck and made for a good laugh, so thank you rat of the sky for that lovely gift.

5. Yankees are iconic.

Last but not least, I learned that the Yankees are an iconic team, not because they have broken numerous records but because the game they play helps to unite thousands and thousands of New Yorkers (even those like myself, who are in a separate league, if ya feel me) who might normally want to punch each other in the face. And anything that brings us together, in harmony, I’m all for.

Check out my top three songs (in no specific order) about New York City, below.

001. Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys // Empire State of Mind
This particular performance felt appropriate since it occurred during the World Series.

002. Madonna / I Love New York
Madonna came to New York with nothing but a dream and $35 dollars. If anyone defines the spirit of New York it’s her.

003. Ian Axel / Home
In case you missed it, check out the interview I did with Ian here.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

FROM SCRATCH is a new section on BTB where unsigned artists sound off!

Marga Lane is a pop artist originally from Brooklyn, NY, but has lived the majority of her life in a town called Carmel, about an hour north of Manhattan. Lane grew up in a household filled with music, from listening to her mother who is a classical pianist and lover of 60’s and 70’s ballads to her Peruvian father who introduced Latin music and culture into the threads of her life.

At the age of six Marga began to take piano lessons and from that point forward everything she did involved music, dance, and musical theater. She began to write songs her senior year in high school, and later spent four years at Berklee College of Music in Boston, learning from the best teachers around, as well as the students, who are known for their talents and drive.

After graduating last summer, Marga moved to Los Angeles to continue to pursue her career. As Marga says herself: “Music has always been my life. I am my music. My passion, dedication, persistence and my parents support has gotten me where I am today and I know will take me even further.”

ROB BRAYL: Who are your musical influences?

MARGA LANE: I have so many musical influences. As artists I’d have to say Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, and Lil’ Wayne. Pretty much any Motown writer/artist, like Smokey, Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong, Holland-Dozier-Holland. And one of my favorite songwriters is Max Martin.

RB: Current song/album on repeat in your Ipod?

ML: K. Michelle – You Should Have Killed Me and B.o.B’s album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray

RB: What’s your goal with your music?

ML: I want my music to reach people all over the world. I love the way a song (lyrically or melodically, even harmonically) can have such an affect on someone and make them feel a certain way. I would love for my music to have that affect. I want my song to be so powerful that they can speak to people. And of course a record deal and a world tour wouldn’t hurt.

RB: Random fact.

ML: About a year ago I overdosed on water. I drank way too much water before a gig and after collapsed and my body went numb and I had to be hospitalized. It was a very scary moment, but my band still found a way to make fun of me! I drink a lot of water and am known for always having those liter and half bottles in my bag. My band thought it was hysterical that I went to the hospital for drinking too much, where as other people have gone for overdosing on drugs or alcohol poisoning. We all laugh about it now, because if you really know me, it’s funny.

RB: Dream collaboration?

ML: Justin Timberlake, Timbaland and Rob Knox.

Take a listen to Marga Lane’s Kiss Me Before You Go, below.

Kiss Me Before You Go (Demo)

You can also check out Marga via Myspace here.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Ready for some good music? Good. Let’s begin.

When I read the release date, the only rational response was to become ecstatic over the next album from one of the best bands of the decade, The National. The Brookyln based indie-rock outfit are back with a new smash album, High Violet. It’s a demoralized, harmonious, volatile and beautiful set of songs that find the band at the peak of their collaborative powers. The music is widespread in its moods, full of drab angles and impression.

Opening is the furry folk of Terrible Love. This song hits me, the way a good song should (“It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders. I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees,”). Life situations become the basis of lyrics, as here, where it seems personal demons have taken on literal forms. Like most of the songs on this album, the title illustrates this idea perfectly. One of the most influential parts of the band is Matt Beringer. In my opinion, he holds one of the utmost voices on the planet; raw talent that could belt out the dictionary or the cocktail menu at a piano bar, and it would still sell. Their influences range from Bruce Springsteen to Joy Division; this sentence alone should be enough to intrigue you.

The National definitely pulls the plug on any arena rock desire, and that’s why I find them so stimulating. They have the potential to sell out arenas, yet choose pack halls, wall to wall instead. Primitive glum never sounded this good. They will take you to the dark side of the High Violet. It’s hard finding fault with this album, and I’d like to test one to do so. Like the band that created it, it’s an album that’s built to last.


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

There are some bands (like the beloved New York Dolls) that don’t last longer than the blink of an eye, but still change the face of the musical world. Then there are those like The Bouncing Souls, who stay at the forefront of the musical revolution, sending shockwaves for years and years into the underbelly of the rock scene. Celebrating twenty years of doing punk justice, The Bouncing Souls have bounced back with a new album. And they’ve proved that they still remain an essential cog in the rock and roll engine.

Whether you’re crammed in a soul-sucking office, blending in to gray streets or rolling around on the grass and discussing Nietzsche, punk has been, and always will be, completely relatable. In the kind of good quality punk The Bouncing Souls create, there’s a raw attitude and centred passion that can be appealing to any walk of life.

I mean, these guys are one of those classic bands that got me first interested in punk! The fact that they’re not burnt out or broken up is amazing in itself.

Ghosts on the Boardwalk, the new album of which I speak, retains The Bouncing Souls’ punkish charm, while emulating the behaviours of a more outspoken, motivated generation. We All Sing Along has a beat that won’t quit, while Big Eyes is full of endearing cliches. The whole album is crafted simply and casually, a calm drift across a spinning sea.

Of course, their dedication is just as lovable as their music is. They’re all about the fans, the thrill, and the joy of keeping classic punk alive.

Prepare to enjoy them in your backyard, ‘cause they’ll be rocking out at the Warped Tour this summer.

Feel free to splash your ears with their multi-coloured magic below.