Archive for August, 2010


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

To anyone who has or ever will read BiggerThanBeyonce.Com:

I want to share a story with you.

I started BiggerThanBeyonce.Com because, as a writer and artist, I wanted to create a space with my fingerprints all over it — one in which my voice (along with countless other musicians and artists who I felt deserved the recognition, specifically those who are NOT rich and famous) could be heard. A place that wasn’t shallow or lame, but was full of purpose and meaning and yet still entertaining as hell (without having to resort to showing paparazzi crotch shots)!

BiggerThanBeyonce.Com, the name, is a play on this idea that there’s more to life than celebrity and fame — hence why there’s a focus on the humanitarian aspect featured throughout the site as well as music related to our spiritual journey as human beings (but don’t worry, there’s silly entertainment galore thrown into the mix, too). It’s also a play on the fact that there are many artists who could be just as big (horrible word choice, but I’ll use it in this instance) as someone like Ms. Knowles if only the right outlets of creative exposure would develop. Thus, why you’ll see numerous articles sharing the spotlight with the up & coming.

I should also state that Beyonce is my favorite pop star. I say this because I am a huge BK supporter and the reason I felt her name fit well with BTB is the fact that she often uses her platform to give back. Besides this reason and the fact that I love her music, I also admire her stance to stay humble out of the hype.

It has taken some time and serious hard work for the site to catch on, but I am getting there. WE are getting there. Together!

[Sidenote: We have never once claimed to be machines and thus you may find grammatical errors here and there. We try our best to make these limited for I am a perfectionist and it drives me freakin’ bananas, but it’s a blog and it’s not that serious. So, if you happen to see an error, please get over it! We are not the New York Times.]

Also, I want to state (as most of you may already know) that I am in my 20s and living in one of the most expensive cities (NYC) in the world. I bring this up because I wanted to say that this idea has been built from the ground up. There has been no advertising other than what I’ve created on my own, no gigantic budget for publicity, and no PR agency behind the scenes to make sure millions of people see the site. And in all honesty, I am happy this is the case. I knew from the start that I wanted BTB to find its own wings, and although we haven’t fully arrived, I feel we are getting there, thanks to readers just like you who most likely stumbled upon the site via Google (searching something Beyonce related or perhaps Eminem’s sobriety or “Glee Gay Sharks”, among various other random keyword combinations).

To everyone who reads this little site: THANK YOU. I speak not only for myself but for the other writers (Maria Ciezak and Caitlin Hoffman) as well, and for all the wonderful artists we have had a chance to interview, meet, and expose to the audience we’ve worked so hard at building here at BTB.

We are still a fairly new site and have a long ways to go, and so we ask that if you enjoy what we present to you daily (Monday through Friday), that you share this website with friends. It would also be cool if you joined the Facebook fan page. Of course, these are all things that are a lot less important than what lies underneath…

The promo/teaser you’re about to see is a concept I constructed for the site quite some time ago, so it’s wonderful to see it finally come to life. This is such an incredibly personal project for me as I feel I have lived the life of every message you see in the promo — all insecurities and hurdles I’ve faced (or still face) throughout my life to some degree — hurdles and insecurities that I knew were universal. I am very pleased with the outcome but I am most proud of the message in the promo — this idea that music has the power to wake us from our own hibernation, a sleep that often has us living obsessed with our flaws in a way that isn’t nurturing to what can be a “good life”. The song featured in the video is ‘Good Life’ by One Republic. If you read the blog you probably know that Ryan Tedder is one of my favorite songwriters/producers and I felt this particular track meshed perfectly with the message of the piece.

A huge thanks to the entire cast, which includes (in order of appearance):

(Rob Brayl – I’m seen in the opening/ending frames)
Tony Cortopassi
Andrea Shannon Young
Rafaele Rivera
Theo Sarcasmo
Edo Tastic
Alicia Fajardo
Jantra “Jo Jo” Silbert
Jessica Brasfield
Zackary Brett Hemenway
And puppy “Roscoe” (Isn’t he the cutest thing?!)

Also, a major thanks to photographer/filmmaker Jordan Lindsay who shot the project.

Y’all are sexy on the inside and out!

Above all, thank you God for the love you give, even when the love I return is often broken and fragmented.

Enjoy the promo + a teaser from the shoot below. Please spread the word and feel free to post to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and whatever else you turds may be using these days!

Nothing but love,
-Rob B.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Dear Taylor Swift,

This might sound cheesy or a little too sweet
But I don’t give a damn
For at the risk of being judged
I simply want to say…
Thank you for believing in love

While you were busy being vulnerably you
Writing with teardrops on your guitar
Other celebrities were off selfishly “living it up”…
Thank you for not stumbling out of clubs

And for that smile you crack when you give your fans hugs
For not showing young girls they should dabble in drugs
Or that beauty is all sex and no appeal
Thanks Taylor Swift, for keeping it real

I hope this message reaches you
And that it doesn’t seem creepy…
Or uncool

The end.

With Love,
Rob Brayl

Check out Taylor Swift’s just-released video to Mine, below.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

American Bang is a band you must know. Hell yeah, the name is catchy fused to red, white and blue pride, bleeding through their lyrics, with stars on the side. Lead single, Wild and Young, is picking up radio play throughout the country, and their self-titled debut album hits stores today. It’s loud. It’s sexy. It’s soulful. It bangs.

This rock band from Nashville has something for all. Their unruly brand of Southern-fried garage rock packs a hell of a load. The track Whiskey Walk initially grabs your attention with an amazing tune up followed by a quick sick drum solo by Neil Mason — “All that I need is a reason to let it go, I know that you feel the same”. Drink this track straight, with water or ice, and it’s sure to make you feel tingly. The instrumental breaks in between the lyrics give you a sense of how talented the band is before the album proceeds. Flowing into the instantly anthemic Wild & Young, Jaren Johnston’s bluesy vocals feed off of Kelby Ray’s basslines, proving a confidence possessed by rock n’ roll veterans, although the band are technically rookies in the game. It expresses how life is diminutive, and we should enjoy it to every ounce — “Slow it down, you move a little too fast, ya make it last, these should be the best days of your life”. It’s then on to the messy, Stonesy romance of Hurts Like Hell, where it’s clear that American Bang pulls the trigger directly at the heart of great American rock ‘n roll. While touring all season on a red hot American summer, they want to thrive in the moment and enjoy the rise of triumph.

Citing their crock-pot of influences including Lenny Kravitz, Black Crowes, and The Sex Pistols, it’s balls-out rock with proto-punk energy. You may stumble upon the Kings of Leon comparison, but they are definitely not the same band, although it shouldn’t be surprising considering they are close in age, from the same city, and cite many of the same influences. The boys fancy to detain the astounding grace and guts of the band’s deep musical roots and Southern accent, right at the heart of American rock ‘n roll. It’s music that one can all relate to; young and fun, but meaningful in lyrical content. American bang is planning on stickin’ around for awhile. In their own words: “Didn’t wanna end up a fallen star on the boulevard”.

Building up a grass-roots audience by playing locally, earning a reputation for their high-energy, no-holds-barred live shows, these high school buddies will draw your attention. It’s not like much else out right now, for it makes you sing the blues, along with the reds and whites. Check out the video for the lead single below, and let the band take over America, with a loud ass bang.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

[photography credit: ion magazine]

All hail the mighty power of PP!

Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit recently sat down with NME backstage at V Festival 2010. The frontman opens up in the interview, discussing Passion Pit’s live shows, as well as briefly talking about the process behind the recording of their new album. Angelakos mentions that the boys are taking their time while recording and hopes to align the album release with the Farmer’s Almanac, when life’s in bloom. Besides this deeper stuff, he also dishes on remixes, and personally liking songs just the way they are (sounds like he’s taken a cue from Bruno Mars).

Watch the interview below.

[Related Post: Passion Pit Drops ‘Little Secrets’]


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“Sisterhood means everything to me. All the charities I’m involved with are special, but I find any organization that focuses on women and children really motivating. GEMS and the young ladies the nonprofit helps are very close to my heart. And what I took away from the clients at Phoenix House changed my life. These were real people who touched me so much that I had to go beyond making a donation. They’re gaining skills at the Cosmetology Center, which will help them earn a living and find their way out of substance abuse—it’s a testament to the possibility of second chances.”

-Beyonce / Self Mag

[Related Post: Beyonce Opens Cosmetology Center For Recovering Addicts]


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


[Related Post: Give Me Dollywood Over Hollywood]

Country music legend and Backwoods Barbie, Dolly Parton, is set to appear on the big screen next to whom, you might ask? Queen Latifah, that’s who! Parton and Queen L on the same screen? You know what that means? This film has feel good written all over it!

Parton, 64, will appear in the upcoming Warner Bros. feature Joyful Noise — a film that centers around a small-town woman (Parton) who’s widowed by a church choir director and a mother (Latifah) who’s is placed in charge of the group. Directed by Todd Graff (2003’s indie Camp feature about misfits at a musical summer camp for teens), the script for Joyful Noise follows the two leading women in an effort to overcome their opinions of each other and save the choir (which might be going down to tubes due to budget cuts).

Parton and Latifah have both left their marks on the acting realm with their previous movie roles. Latifah is an Oscar nominee (for her acclaimed role in 2002’s Chicago), and Parton has certainly captured audiences and critics alike with her memorable roles in films like Nine to Five and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The last time Parton graced the movie screen was in 1992’s Straight Talk.

Production on the film is scheduled to begin in January.

Besides being a personal hero of mine, Dolly makes the current musical landscape seem immensely shallow, when placed next to her own material, music that is deep fried and full of heart. Check out the incredibly vulnerable music video for Dagger Through The Heart, below.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Something to help you get through your Friday — check out an unlikely interpretation of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream and Bruno Mars Just The Way You Are by a cool cat named Mike Tompkins. I love how it sounds, looks, and the imagination! The beat boxin’ thrown in with the somewhat Brady Bunch intro screen? Not here to critique, just have fun with it!


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Y’all have dirty minds!

Kris Allen is out with the just-released video to his hit single The Truth, featuring Train’s frontman Pat Monahan. The video has a more artistic edge, one that takes Allen and places his bubbly boy-next-door face in a different light. And that light has proven to be very flattering.

The opening shot is wonderful, set against the backdrop of the burnt desert skyline.

Directed by Aaron Platt, the video also features Pat Monahan and a brief appearance from female model Cindy Vela. Although shot in the desert, the production of the shoot was met with a heavy rainstorm, one that apparently left Allen’s piano wet (again, dirty).

Allen told MTV: “It started to monsoon, man! It was crazy. It was one of the biggest storms I’ve ever been in but it was almost kind of fun in a way. We were just standing outside, [but] I felt like we had just jumped in the pool,” he continued. “Some of [the film trailers] got stuck. We had to leave a piano out here because they couldn’t get it in time. I’m sure it’s ruined. We’ll probably still use it though. Maybe it’ll look cooler.”

The Truth was written by Pat Monahan and producer Toby Gad.

Watch the heartfelt video in full, below.

[Related Post: Allen speaks on his trip to Haiti]


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“I gotta testify… God has worked his magic 10 fold in my life since I dropped the ego and opened my heart.”

-kanye west via twitter.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Not that we care about clothes…

In the just-released promo for the upcoming VMAs, Drake is rocking some major classic man-chic. Using Frank Sinatra and Denzel Washington’s Mo Better Blues character for reference, Drake pours on the smooth.

Drake stated: “I get to channel my inner Sinatra. In the acting world, you gotta have reference points. I like to get into characters. Mo’ Better Blues’ is like one of my favorite movies of all time. This reminds me of Denzel [Washington], who played a character [called] Bleek Gilliam.”

Drake is up for two awards this year in the categories for Best Male Video for Find Your Love and Best Hip-Hop Video for Forever. The rapper, who finally dropped his debut earlier this year, is set to take the stage with Kanye West.

As most of you know, the MTV VMAs are usually hit or miss. Last year’s show was undoubtedly one of the better years, showcasing more entertaining eclectic numbers. Besides Drake, I am also very excited to see Florence + the Machine take the stage and was pleasantly surprised that MTV extended the offer for the talented act to grace such a gigantic platform. Florence + the Machine has definitely earned the opportunity.

Will you be tuning in to this year’s show?

[Check out Drake’s promo below.]


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Almost There is one of the best kept secrets in unsigned modern day music. This band’s on a mission to make mountains move, ready for a takeover. The Jersey trio is invading the scene one day at a time. Phill Serzan (drums), Zach Sicherman (Bass/Vocals,) and Ed Soles (Guitar/Vocals) have been savaging the contest circuit, recently crowned winners of the Nokia Artist Discovery Contest sponsored by Myspace Records, and winning a Radio Airplay Competition to open for National Acts such as Creed and Saving Abel. Now, this is the story all about how their lives got twisted upside down…

Picture this: your band is selected to be flown out to LA, record with huge producers such as Jon Pikus and Ryan Williams (Pink, 30 seconds to Mars, Travie McCoy…name droppin’ a few, just sayin’), and record a kick-ass EP while getting the rock star treatment they oh-so deserve. Intrigued? Good. Keep reading.

Like most musicians, Almost There have set a few goals: play, be heard, gain new fans, and earn a living doing what they eat, breathe and sleep: manufacturing music. The boys stated in a recent interview how the name of the band came about: “It has to do with our perfectionist mentality. Our musical aspirations are always to reach a certain goal, but you’re never going to get there, there is always more to be had.” Deep, huh?

Musicians by day and night, as Ed and Zach teach guitar, and Phill sells drums (for music is the pulse that keeps this trio alive — this is not just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle). I’m fortunate enough to be in a place to be able to work with these guys very closely, for the band is dominating the Jersey Shore with radio play and shows. Hey, everyone wants their hometown heroes to make it, right?

Like a fine wine, they have grown better and better with time. Improvement is always the answer at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s hard for me to grasp how musicians with such aptitude like themselves aren’t as big as they should be, but then reality hits me. These guys want to make their imaginings happen by doing it their way — the old fashion way — by investing time in voice lessons and playing a shit load of shows, while creating a solid fan base. Never eager to ride the auto-tune and commercial train, they opt for a different track. Ed, Phill, and Zach recently told me in a sit down that various things keep the group motivated in a slowly dying business: “We don’t want to sound like anyone but ourselves. We know that this is what we want to be doing, so we will continue to do so.” Okay, but if a gun was held to my head and I had to give you an incentive on their sound, it would be described as alternative rock/pop punk with an up-tempo aggressive flava, and oh yeah, intricate kick-ass drum pieces. It’s not similar to anything out there, and no, it doesn’t sound like a band you discovered years ago. Almost There is original shit.

Audio Takeover and latest EP Losing Someone To Find Yourself are available for purchase, and you should totally check these boys out. Tracks such as Can I Take You Home and Last Laugh will expose their raw talent and emotional side as a collection. They also will be banging out a new EP entitled Silver Lake which should make it to your playlist in no time.

Almost There is in a league of their own. Why? Amazing songwriting, with a keen musical ability and tons of perseverance. Bass and guitar, plus vocals by Ed and Zach, with Phill smacking you upside the head with his drum sets (for he is a machine, and never settles for a straight beat), Almost There is well on their way.

If you need a fresh kick in your diet for some quality music, check out Almost There (you might as well take a listen, for they aren’t leaving anytime soon, kids). Until you get the music, check out this musical montage with their new single Garbage Dump or A Gold Mine (and ladies, there is a lil’ eye candy in there as well). As the great AC/DC once said, “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Hooked on this cover!

Meet Aaron Camper. Bringing a sparkling crystal clear voice that sits right at home against the backdrop of current R&B and hip hop pop, this Salisbury, MD native is ready to explode. Camper, who spent his upbringing sharpening his chops in the church, has already left his songwriting fingerprints & vocal stylings on several Gospel heavyweights (Tye Tribbett & G.A., Marvin Sapp and The Clark Sisters, just to name a few). Camper also recently toured with Jill Scott & Maxwell.

Aaron Camper is now more ready than ever to leave his mark on the musical landscape with his solo work. His sound has been described as mix between John Legend & U2.

The cover you’re about to hear is, for a lack of a more original word, pretty. With a pop marketabilty factor fused with rich commercial vocals — I think Camper has the potential to blow up if given the right direction.

Camper is currently on tour with new Sony artist Mike Posner.

Listen to Aaaron Camper’s cover of Water Runs Dry, below.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are back, careening down a different track. Although they may not have peaked in the fame category, the act remains diverse, talented, and raw. These boys are a live band that can tear your skin off. With last year’s release, Lonely Road, the band ended up on an unfamiliar path, playing on unlikely radio stations and media outlets. Nearly a year after their departure from Virgin Records, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have found light in their latest release, and most sincere creation to date. I am relieved to reveal that they have dropped the pop act, and have gone back to their roots on this EP. In my opinion, this is the best damn move they could’ve ever made. The Hell or High Water disc is out for purchase today. With hints of their old sound, Jumpsuit embraces the future with a perfect mixture of old and new.

The Hell or High Water EP is a tale of poetic storytelling, destructive chord progressions, indefatigable hooks, and atypical emotion. This may not be what is probable of this platinum-selling quintet, but unquestionably shows a commendable step down a highway less traveled upon. The boys hold forcefully onto their heavy-hitter side during the first single Choke, which sways from a hardcore bang to an etched in your mind hook, while On My Own is an attentive and enriching jam that could start up a fire. Each song seems to be fresh in terms to where the group have landed mentally and musically.

Ronnie Winter, lead vocalist and guitarist, recently stated: “Positive thinking can literally move mountains if you have enough faith.” If the group is at ease with their latest move and release style, then the fans should find contentment as well.

Do you think an independent EP was the right move for the band?


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Oh, Ciara. You and your sexiness is just too much!

Does anyone remember the days when if one needed a good baseball-bat-to-the-nuts kind of laugh, the only option would be to wait until 8PM when America’s Funniest Home Videos would grace the unflat TV screen? Yeah, those days are long over now that the world’s been graced with YouTube…

As a writer of this little site hurr, I am constantly on the search for fresh content. Often, it comes with staying on top of the music world — knowing what’s fresh, and what’s about to burst, when this record is dropping and who’s collaborating with who. But every now and then, I like to throw a boomerang into the mix and today’s boomerang comes in the form of YouTube user TyroneJones1989.

When I stumbled upon his dance routine to Ciara’s Ride, my mouth dropped a little. I then proceeded to laugh. And although this post is tagged as “LOL” and “A LIL Odd”, I’ve got to say that I am not laughing at Tyrone Jones at all. I instantly thought the video was very entertaining. And good for him to have the courage to have fun in his garage with a video camera for our amusement. I can’t even imagine how long it took him to learn the same moves that Ciara flaunts in the music video. I would guess hours + practice? So go on with your bad self, Tyrone!

Seriously, all those evil YouTube haters (ya know, the ones who hide behind a computer screen with their horrible comments) can suck it! You can dance, buddy.

Although I joke about Ciara’s sex appeal, the video for Ride is undoubtedly one of the sexiest videos of the year. The art direction, styling, and choreography are all completely spot on with the attitude the song uses to drive the beat.

Check out the original video for Ciara’s Ride, followed by the above-mentioned version, below.

Ciara — Official Vid for Ride

TyroneJones1989 — Ciara dance medley


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

These ladies are pure-bred metal maniac maidens. Epic emphasized.

I guess there’s some kind of stereotype floating around in the screamo world. Not many people expect to see gorgeous, independent women holding their own in a territory ruled by gravelly, booming vocals. (Or is that just me?) But Kittie has set out to stomp down that nasty little misconception, with manicured claws that can scratch your eyes right out. They’re way too powerful to be ordinary, but unfortunately that’s taken away from the attention they deserve.

If you feel the intense metal isn’t the way to win your heart, don’t worry, for the band has a good balance between that and the hard rock side of things. Not saying they’ll be cradling you in their arms (in fact, they’re more likely to make you their punching bag), but their ungoverned methods are worth admiration.
Once the shock factor has receded and the cracks in your skull begin to heal, you can really let their music knock you out. They’re like opium with teeth. If you’re walking around in zombie mode or feeling zoned out in a line at a convenience store, Kittie has the gusto to wake you up to the world.

But behind that tornado of sound you’ll find four astute, commanding women, who are all for living life, as well as kicking its ass.

Take a gander at this tasty dish.

(Warning: the video only slightly falls short of unsettling.)