Archive for July, 2010
By: Maria Ciezak
Miniature Tigers’ talent is far from miniature (this isnâ€™t an article about wildlife either, so please proceed and get whatcha need). A powerhouse indie rock band with rudiments of indie pop based in Brooklyn/ Phoenix, Arizona grabbed my attention and clawed me down. New album Fortress is a rather enjoyable affair, with mellow tones, yet the band’s buff shines through all of this as they generate vibrant, attractive songs that, while being toned-down from their standard indie rock/pop still connect the fan base (Download: Dark Tower and Bullfighter Jacket).
They saw an opportunity on this release to repeat their success with their ever-growing popularity, and I am happy to say they have done just that. Yes, they might have a speck in the silt of Lollapalooza this year, but Iâ€™m prepared to wage that theyâ€™ll be headlining Radio City sooner than later.
If this article is the object introducing you to these guys, then let me say there is not a more suitable band name. The band is made up of front manguitarist Charlie Brand, Rick Schaier on drums and vocals, Algernon Quashie on guitar, keyboard and vocals, and Alex Gerber on bass and vocals. Their songs are small-scale epics; tiny but powerful, delicate but vicious. They are indeed miniature tigers. It’s tough to explain Miniature Tigers without using words like “attractive” and “melodious”. Their sound may not be multifaceted or ground breaking, but the sheer force of the jams themselves make all that irrelevant. Not since Weezer or They Might Be Giants have I heard tracks so enticing. Layers of pianos, creamy choral backings and speedy falsetto singing warm the spaces in each track.
These guys just seem to be on the edge of something big, but they arenâ€™t stopping, with 200 shows under their belt last year alone. Check out Fortress, and embrace the tigers function in a cohesive unit.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Have I been getting on too much of an animal rights kick lately? Meh, oh well. Pierce The Veil is a band I just couldnâ€™t keep quiet about.
Thing is, usually I find a band for its music, then learn heartwarming details about them as I get acquainted. But with Pierce the Veil, it was the opposite. I first heard about them through the PETA website, and fell in love with their music afterward. Good to know they have both a clear conscience and incinerating skill.
Though the band has been trading names back and forth over the years, the habit of communicating their inner paradoxes and nightmares through efficiently packaged screamo and experimental rock has survived. Who cares what title youâ€™re playing under, as long the soul behind the mask sticks?
Their prose writes itself on the walls of your mind, making you a willing spectator of philosophy in action. They are a hybrid of ideal evolution; theyâ€™ve got the pretty boy looks of a emo-core band, and the adrenaline-injected compound found only in the blood of heavy metal enthusiasts.
Like watching genius unfold, you can see how the song builds itself up or slows itself down, keeping you guessing. They have a habit of incorporating recognizable downbeats from hit songs to grab peoplesâ€™ attention, but itâ€™s their ability to make the clouds rumble thatâ€™ll convert people to fan loyalty.
Like many notable bands, theyâ€™ve been on the Warp Tour, signing autographs at the Peta2 tent, and doing fabulous PR for their new album along the way. Seeing as Selfish Machines is their first album in three years, it makes sense that theyâ€™d be pumped to get the word out. As I type, theyâ€™re streaming it through their Myspace page (gotta appreciate that theyâ€™re more about spreading the music than they are about making the money).
You can check out their PSA ad for PETA here.
After your heart has swelled from their philanthropist efforts, get back to basics of pure, precise innovation, and brace yourself for the most tart tasting track from their new cd: Caraphernilia.
By: Rob Brayl
Secondhand Serenade’s Something More, the first single from the upcoming third album, Hear Me Now, is one beautifully broken track. The song, which dives into the realm of torn meandering lives delivers a message of hope even when heartbroken and hopeless.
Secondhand Serenade is the product of singer/songwriter John Vesely, who worked with producer Aaaron Johnson (from The Fray), to create intimate, pensive, somber pop rock full of meaning.
The music video, directed by Declan Whitebloom, fits the track’s somber sound.
Billboard’s review of the track said it best: “As Vesely sings of the internal strife that a breakup can cause, he powerfully conveys the very human message that everyone makes mistakes. A no-brainer for top 40 and hot AC radio formats, “Something More” is sure to saturate the summer airwaves.” –Alex Vitoulis
Check out the music video below. Hear Me Now is due out in August.
By: Rob Brayl
Joke, people. Joke.
More than 60 celebrities have donated a pair of shoes for MAG (Mines Advisory Group) — an organization that helps those affected by landmines. Each pair will be auctioned to raise money for the cause. Great news, right?
Of course it is, but I’ve got to be honest. As I was looking over the shoes being donated, I laughed a little. I effing love Pink for donating a pair from Aldo. Really, Pink? Aldo?! That store is in pretty much every mall across America, you think she would’ve gave up something a bit more exclusive. I kid, I kid. Kinda.
In all fairness though, the Aldo pair from Pink, in many ways, most likely corresponds with her normal, highly genuine, down-to-earth, anti-celebrity view of a lifestyle? Which is one reason why I think the chick is awesome.
The main point is that these shoes will most likely raise money and awareness to a cause that deserves our attention, and that’s never a bad thing. All the shoes are cool, I just had to share that rant.
To see the shoes being donated click here.
Will you bid for a pair of these kickers or donate a few bucks to the cause and go to your local mall instead?
And for shits and giggles (someone care to explain this expression to me?), take a flashback tour to Pink’s God Is a DJ, below.
By: Rob Brayl
Robyn has just released the music video for her brand new single Hang with Me. The video takes fans behind the scenes of Robyn’s touring life. But don’t worry, it’s not the typical video we’ve all seen before, this behind-the-scenes vid was directed by Max Vitali and is shot in an original manner that holds your attention, each shot a photograph all its own. There’s also live performance footage, studio time shots, and other promotional specks, like a fan signing and radio interview. If you look close enough you will also see BTB fave I Blame Coco.
Hang with Me is the lead single from Robyn’s second album (Body Talk Pt. 2) of a three part trilogy.
Robyn described the song as: “Pop should be seductive and sweet when it can. And I felt like I could be on Hang with Me, in a uncompromising way. It’s like a sweet and sour bon-bon wrapped in melancholy.”
The new album will be released September 6th.
Watch the music video followed by a beautiful live acoustic performance, below.
[Related Post: The Overdose Of Robyn]
By: Maria Ciezak
Live is one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ve seen them a myriad of times on tour, and their music never seems to get old to me. Only problem is, it seemed to get old to them. Solution? Bring together something new. Lead singer, Ed Kowalczyk, is currently touring solo with new single Grace, off the album Alive. Is he as good without his bandmates backing him? Hell yes.
This lead single is intensely strapping. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few weeks back and was given the opportunity to watch him perform this track, and it blew me away upon first listen. It’s a hard-hitting, soaring song: “You were wrong, there was grace. You saw the enemy, I saw your face. People like you and I, spinning from space, you were wrong, I still have faith” — these lyrics can relate to a lot of things, including his separation from the group, or even situations in life.
Ed Kowalczyk is not just a celebrity that makes money playing music; he is an intellectual artist that should be the role model for many forthcoming musicians. His interviews alone prove he is intelligent beyond levels of music. He tells stories without torment or really ever putting people down. Instead, he shares an enlightenment and understanding that few of his contemporaries share. He is truly an exceptional musician and lyricist.
This album will take long time fans, as well as new ones, on quite a ride. Fans of Live will instantly recognize the power of the voice we have all grown to love. This album walks the line of power ballad and alternative music with, well, Grace. It’s ferocious yet passionate, while retaining the spiritual songwriting side he’s always been known for. Ed also did a songwriting collaboration with Chris Daughtry on Drink (Everlasting Love). These songs show that he has entered a new chapter in his life, reigniting the spark in his affiliation with music. Sometimes artists need to move on from groups to take on fresh musical challenges. I am sure that being the front man for multi-platinum selling Live for 15 years has lead to the need for change, while using his experience as inspiration for the solo release.
Ed stated in a recent interview: “You can’t fake inspiration as an artist, you know where you get it.”
Do yourself a favor and check out Ed’s solo release. The songs are like a peek inside specific moments of your life and carry very profound meaning to many. It will truly make you feel Alive.
By: Maria Ciezak
Mz. Katy Perry has been ripping up the charts this summer with her anthem California Gurls. In her favor, she really doesnâ€™t have much competition right now, for ladies like GaGa, Britney, and Pink donâ€™t have releases set until next year. So take that torch, and run missy! Sheâ€™s released her second single (also the title track) Teenage Dream, and well, letâ€™s just say she isnâ€™t one of the boys anymore.
Her music is unstoppable, and whether you dig it or not, she will be on every mainstream station you can find. Itâ€™s slated to hit airwaves on August 3rd.
Katy took the time to describe her video in a recent interview stating: â€œIt kind of exudes this euphoric feeling because everybody remembers what their teenage dreams were â€” all the girls that were on your poster walls.”
Itâ€™s an innocent pop song, one that you hate to admit you like, but you tend to keep on repeat. From what I’ve heard of the album so far, it seems to contain musical references to 90â€™s house music, pop, rock, and plenty of fun thrown into the mix.
Iâ€™ve had the pleasure of meeting Mz. Perry, and letâ€™s just say, she is exactly what she portrays herself to be, and that is pretty refreshing. Trust me, I am not a huge pop buff, but I have a respect for artists who arenâ€™t afraid to challenge themselves, and release what they feel is appropriate in their range and whole â€œpackageâ€. But an argument may arise that Perry’s too old to be naming an album Teenage Dream? Is she stuck in a young fanbase? What do you think?
Overall, itâ€™s a cutesy mid-tempo song with a catchy chorus. Does Katy have the potential for another smash hit, or is the California gurl’s new single forgettable?
Take a listen.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Turn up the amplifier and head to the bomb shelter. The Black Stars are now available at a missile silo near you. After youâ€™ve experienced their crash course in kickass, your energy will have shrivelled. All of it will have gone full throttle into pumping your fist and banging your hair at their all-out, smash-up punkfest. Theyâ€™re jumping out, drum sticks blazing, ready to rock through your solar system.
Their songs are like a step into the underground. Almost always theyâ€™ll start with a riff or startling drum solo that makes your brain cells perk up. The effect they have on your ears is massive. Like the sensation of striking liquid gold; it all gushes out and sinks through the pores, like youâ€™re watching ink get absorbed in your skin.
Though they have some killer EPs showcasing their talent, their first full length album is only coming out, as they say on their Facebook page â€˜mid 2010′. Canâ€™t wait to see how all that unspoiled energy juice comes together!
Just when you thought there was no more good punk revival out there, two blokes and one miss from down under suddenly fall into your line of vision. They have the potential to become a lifestyle, synonymous to mornings like caffeine and cigarettes.
If the Beat Generation was assigned a soundtrack, The Black Stars would be a definite candidate. When you listen you may feel zapped up but misdriven, as if motivated to do something drastic, but unsure of what youâ€™re going to do. Soon all that unfocussed animation will just go into dancing, and youâ€™ll feel the joy come back to sunsets.
I long to get rock and roll whiplash from The Black Stars, up close and personal.
Best of all, the message they slam in their performance is one they roll with off the stage. All that rebellion and energy isnâ€™t just put into rocking, but doing good deeds. Theyâ€™re fiends to the slimy corporations, and friends to the animals. In fact, on their Myspace, their last blog entry was in protest of allowing hunters in the national parks of Australia. Fingers like lightning, and spirits that are as selfless as they are sweet –thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m talking about!
Go on now, and download their tracks from Itunes. But before you do that, take a peek at one of their older songs Alright Baby, with a vid that shows you donâ€™t need a steel contract to make a sweet music video. Though I do warn you: playing this video may cause your monitor to spark.
By: Rob Brayl
I recently interviewed the insanely infectious POWERLIFTER (an up & coming 8-bit band from Wichita, Kansas). Check out the highlights below.
ROB BRAYL: What’s the deal with the name, Powerlifter? Do tell.
MARTIN SWIGGART for Powerlifter: We decided to name the band POWERLIFTER because Matthew’s (vocalist) dad used to be a powerlifter when he was younger. We thought it was a pretty triumphant name for a band.
RB: Many elements are used to make up music, but not everyone would agree a Gameboy is one of them. How did the idea of using the Gameboy in your music develop?
MS: I used to have my own band (Martendo) about three years ago in which I made 8-bit sounds in a computer program. One night Matthew and I were drinking and hanging out and I showed the songs to him. He fell in love and told me about how there are people who use old computer systems and gaming devices to make music. I instantly researched and figured out how to use the Gameboy.
RB: There’s several crotch shots in your music video for Buffalo. Alcohol and crazy dancing, too. Clearly the point of the video is pure fun, eh?
MS: [Laughs] Pretty much. We do love to party and have fun. When we were talking about video ideas I told them I wanted a party video like in those late ’90s teen high school movies. The parties you always wanted to go to because it looked so fun. I think in the end we did a pretty good job at achieving that.
RB: The video and the sound coming from Powerlifter is so Brooklyn. Any New York shows in the future? Tour?
MS: Oh really? Didn’t know we were “Brooklyn” — that’s pretty awesome. As of yet we do not have any New York shows. We are about to go on a short tour to play the Gen Con convention. So yes, tour is a big part of our future. We’d love to make it up to New York.
RB: Be random. Tell us something we should know about the band and the music you’re proud to be a part of.
MS: We have an alter ego named Annoying Dead Best Friend. We want to start a restaurant called Blue-BQ. Where everything in the restaurant is white and the BBQ is blue. We are also in the works for shooting three/four more videos and working on a dvd. Currently writing/recording an EP for an Italy release on COUCOU net Label. I’m proud of this band because we always have fun when we play and hang out and encourage you to have fun with us.
Check out Powerlifter’s music video for Buffalo, below.
By: Rob Brayl
Although Aguilera’s new album Bionic hasn’t been as commercially successful (so far) as her previous records, Aguilera could prove us all wrong once again in the long haul. Her Stripped album wasn’t recieved well at first (due to the over-the-top themes in the Dirrty video) — but that all changed when she later released the powerful ballad for Beautiful and catapulted the record to become one of the best-selling albums of the year in the US & worldwide, winning awards galore. This could be the case with Bionic, which despite some not liking its artistic direction has been called “THE BEST MAINSTREAM POP ALBUM OF THE YEAR” by Billboard Magazine.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Christina Aguilera shines the most to me, when she isn’t selling sex but selling substance. And with the new music video for the Sia produced ballad You Lost Me, Aguilera does just that, broken with raw emotion.
Check out the just-released video below.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Carson Kivari is one of the best YouTube search results Iâ€™ve ever gotten. A man whoâ€™s always been searching for the stranger, stronger, deeper pieces of life. Where else would that quest take him but straight to Mother Musicâ€™s door, and heâ€™s put up house there ever since.
Our Mr. Kivari had such an infatuation with music that for years he would hitchhike from his small town in B.C. into the city just to practice singing and freestyle rap. Heâ€™s completely self-taught, but the professional sizzle of his put-together numbers makes it seem like heâ€™s been under the wing of a voice trainer since he was five.
Some artists refuse to settle for just one measly genre to call their own. Instead, they become connoisseurs to as many as they can get their hands on, excelling at each stage and rocketing on to the next. Carson definitely has that going on for him. Heâ€™s done hip hop, heâ€™s done electro, heâ€™s ridden the long trails of tender folk, and torn up the venue with rock.
As he says, “Try as I might, I canâ€™t seem to commit to one genre.”
The three new songs heâ€™s released mirror that. Come Get Me is full of that delicious smooth-beat hiphop, Wish the Stars is an unexpectedly fresh take on the electro-pop movement, and Pathos (which will be released on his upcoming EP) is rich with culture and percolating sound.
If you pick any song out of his colourful mix, you can tell heâ€™s sampled every dish from the buffet. Though this inclusive pallet may not be for everyone, itâ€™s great for someone who loves a â€˜little bit of everythingâ€™.
The variation keeps him going, but what first got me drawn in were his lighter, more stylistic pieces. Just him and his guitar, the music spinning out of his soul- it makes magic happen. Heâ€™s the cream-filled centre of the quaint collaborative cupcake. Full of sugar, spice, and everything else ripe for an after-dinner treat.
For now heâ€™s still living the edge of the unsigned artist, but it shouldnâ€™t be long â€˜till this guy is all signed up with a comfy contract and a stadium full of fans. Talent knows no bounds, and his is going to take him somewhere.
It was tough settling on which project to showcase, but I went with Pathos, just â€˜cause thereâ€™s something hidden under that song that I canâ€™t resist.
Let it speak to you; mp3 is below.
By: Rob Brayl
I wasn’t sure the British singer-songwriter could top the addictive hook of his massive single Break Your Heart (ft. Ludacris), but he’s proved us all wrong with a new stick of addictive pop dynamite.
The feel-good dance track is taken from his 2009 CD Rokstarr. In the explosive just-released video, Cruz can be seen around babes in mechanic outfits, big trucks, wrecked cars, and sticks of dynamite, of course. Cruz even cruises around on a 1000cc-speed bike.
Cruz told MTV about the track: “The song ‘Dynamite’ itself is about when you go to the club and when you go to a party and when you’re just going out…you got to feel like, ‘I’m just gonna explode,’ — basically, we are going to represent that with just massive, massive, fireworks in the sky!”
Apparently, a remix of the song featuring Jennifer Lopez is expected to surface soon.
Check out the premiere of Dynamite (directed by Bernard Gourley) below.
By: Maria Ciezak
I want to either introduce you or reconnect you with a sonically stunning listening treat. Instruments that blend together in a chaotic fusion, creating a huge sound, without getting lost in an ocean full of clatter. Foxy Shazam; their name is even cool. I found these guys in Spin Magazine’s Top 10 Artists to Watch in 2010. At first glance, my initial reaction of the band was wondering what the hell was going on. It’s merrily overblown pomp-rock that hasn’t ascended since the glory days of Queen (you will see the distinct Queen influence in Oh Lord and Unstoppable). The quintet from Cincinnati is assuring that their self-titled release will tweak the listeners. Theyâ€™ve stated their goal in various interviews, â€œto be the biggest, most ostentatious band on the planetâ€. Front man, Eric Nally, embraces the Adam Lambert/Freddy Mercury similarities; proving high hitting males are vocally vivacious. He’s got the pipes, glam, and attitude to spare. I’ve seen them live, and any musician that sticks lit cigarettes in his mouth for pure entertainment value is a performer in my book (kids, don’t try this at home).
Nally doesnâ€™t want anyone to sticker him or his band as punk (I tend to wonder why people are considering Foxy Shazam punk anyway). But what you may have to wonder is why wouldnâ€™t a band want the stamp of consent from the punk community? After all, many bands have arena success in that genre. Plain and simple, they want their attention to hipsters. The album is pure entertainment entirely, only thing lacking is the direct definition in the lyrics, for I find them confusing at times (â€œSo long to the second floor, itâ€™s been fun but I donâ€™t belong, up there with the industry or up there with you wolvesâ€) — this is a pure example of the oddity brilliance; it blends serious topics with outrageous humor. But in its defense, it keeps you listening to search for deeper meaning. Foxy Shazam has been called the Evel Knievel of Rock N Roll; eccentric enchanting drama rock. They’re a spot on group with various characteristic essentials; a balls-out keyboard player, a kick-in-the-face trumpet player, and a front-man we canâ€™t rave about enough. The theatrics are so predominant in tracks such as Wanna-Be Angel and Killin’ It that it’s almost as if your watching the album in a Broadway theatre. Your ears will pick up a plethora of double-kick drum percussion, and a maniacal mix of piano, for the whole record is fully deranged. Still not convinced? Influences include: Marvin Gaye, Elton John, Van Morrison, and Iggy Pop. That’s like all the popular people in school sharing one locker. Shit, this is genre-defying music if I’ve ever heard it.
This self-titled release is one of the best of the year in my collection. You know why? Because I wanted a throwback to rockâ€™s golden age when go ahead singers werenâ€™t fearful to go a little mad, and the whole endeavor was all about having fun, in an artsy kind of way. And dammit, thatâ€™s just what they gave me.
Check out some music that is sexy and attractive, and flat out Foxy.
By: Rob Brayl
I’ll admit, when Archuleta released Crush, I played that damn tune on repeat for weeks (don’t act like you didn’t). I knew it would be a huge smash and it was, proving he had the formula for stardom. He later released his debut album on Jive Records and I’ve gotta say, it was a solid debut for what he was targeting, which was commercial mainstream success, of course.
The track you’re about to hear is Archuleta’s new single (out today on iTunes), entitled Something ‘Bout Love, taken from his upcoming sophomore album (Other Side of Down, set to be released September 14th). It’s a nice little diddy, but to be honest, I think it’s a little too confectioned. And by little, I mean a shitload. It’s sugary to the point that it makes the craving a little less desirable. Yes, I do like the song, I just think it’s a bit overdone. I understand that it’s David Archuleta we’re talking about and it’s what he sells, but I think there’s a beautiful dark undertone to his voice sometimes and I think it would be cool if he explored that more (listen to his track Desperate on his debut album for reference).
I don’t expect the kid to dive off the deep end and record a duet with Fiona Apple or anything (sorry, she was the first singer to enter my head), for, well, that would just be odd as hell. But I wouldn’t mind to see a little bit more raw emotion come out of his mouth instead of what sometimes feels like spoonfed ideas to appeal to the masses, because, let’s be honest, we all have a sweet tooth and are suckers for candy. Basically, it’s what sells. And this will undoubtedly sell.
Overall it’s a cute summer track, just a bit too sweet overall. But hey, we all crave that extra sugar sometimes, eh?
Check out Archuleta’s Something ‘Bout Love, below.
By: Maria Ciezak
Not into the punk-rap rage of Travie McCoy? Donâ€™t like what you hear having commercial success these days? I canâ€™t hate. Here is a different version. A friend sent me this video, and I am still uncertain how I feel, so I am opening it up to the BTB devotees to review.
A Rocket to the Moon covers Billionaire in a very dissimilar way. I am not too sure how I feel about it, for it sounds like a wholly different song. The boys are on this yearâ€™s annual punk rock extravaganza Warped Tour, which leads to success for many artists like themselves. I’m into covers but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I respect its exclusivity, and see how it would draw a whole fresh crowd into the song, I just don’t feel as if the boy’s got the chops of Bruno Mars. Cover or no cover, vocalists need to know their own limits; master before you pay tribute.
Letâ€™s break it down; music is a discussion, with artists dialoguing by way of lyrics and themes. Which means a cover is the most straight and attractive form of communication. It provides artists like Rocket to the Moon with the likelihood not only to pay respect to their influences (in this case, label-mate Travie McCoy), but also to insert or take away significance from the original version as they see fit. Long story not too short: remakes either want to make the reviewer turn the dial, or cringe when itâ€™s an otherwise fine artist making a mistake. This private pop acoustic version could go in either direction. I dig change, but for some reason, I canâ€™t find the prize thing that was buried.
Numerous people have commented on the video calling it â€œbetter than the originalâ€ and â€œa fantastic remakeâ€ — do you agree? Letâ€™s not get it twisted, A Rocket to the Moon is signed under Fueled By Ramen, which is leisurely building one of the utmost empires in the mainstream powerpop trade, including artists such as Paramore and Fall Out Boy. With an exceedingly stacked line up, it’s almost a sure thing whenever they sign an up-to-the-minute artist (for every time we close our eyes, we see their names in shining lights).
These boys have the potential to have huge success, so why bask in the fruit of another? Billionaire isnâ€™t the greatest song in the world, but it’s rap-pop revelry style makes it unique, not really sounding much like other things out right now. Iâ€™m just saying, once a shoe is shined, itâ€™s senseless to run through the mud.
What do you think of the cover? Does this rocket have the potential to soar to the moon, or does the band just want to be billionaires, so freakinâ€™ bad?