Archive for October, 2010

SUGARLAND MYSPACE KARAOKE CONTEST

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Aww man, how can you NOT love some Sugar?

Last month, I mentioned the previous contest in this series, which was David Archuleta (AKA “Cute Lil’ Booger”). And now, Sugarland’s up to bat. If you read BTB, you should know I am a huge supporter of the country quirksters, and so I ask…

Wanna win ticks to see Sugarland perform live in concert and hang out with the duo in person?! Yeah? Ok, so do this: follow the link below, record one of Sugarland’s hits, and enter for a chance to win a pair of concert tickets, travel and accommodations for two, and a backstage pass to meet the twosome. The winner will be chosen by Sugarland themselves and announced at the end of the promotion.

Enter the contest/access more information through this link.

The contest will run for two weeks (10/26/10-11/8/10).

[The promotion is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.]

Good luck, homeslices.

FREE MP3: OU EST LE SWIMMING POOL

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Become a fan of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool via Facebook by clicking here.
[Click the downward arrow on the side of the player to download.]

Ou Est Le Swimming Pool – The Key (Dynamikk Remix) by PCPCP

BIG APPLE REVIEW: HOT CHELLE RAE

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Earlier this week, I had the chance to check out Hot Chelle Rae live in concert. The newly crowned favorite band of mine tore up The Bowery Ballroom with Parachute and Joe Brooks. The music metaphorically fit their appearance: bedhead, tattoos, & skintight jeans. The energy was radical and the focus was apparent as the boys stroked their guitars and flirted with the microphone. At one point, Ryan Keith Follese (lead singer) hopped into the crowd and began to strut about, sharing the intimacy of the song through close body contact and heavy eye-to-eye bonding.

On a more simplified note, I felt the vocals were clean and crisp, really creating the bones of the songs. Often, bands rely on production cues and musical photoshop to create a sound as honest as Hot Chelle Rae’s — but until you witness it in person (especially on tracks such as the heartfelt single Bleed), you won’t understand how good the band sounds in an unaltered state, which is why I suggest you check out a show if you get the chance.

Mint green guitars and cute boys to boot, Hot Chelle Rae’s talent goes beyond the surface to a place that permanently sticks like needle ink.

If you haven’t already, get acquainted with the boys of HCR below!

[Related Post: Big Apple Review: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals]

CITY OF HOPE’S ‘NIGHT OF MISCHIEF’ IS A HALLOWEEN PARTY ON A MISSION

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Come party with us this Saturday in support of a wonderful cause!

On Saturday, October 30th, City of Hope’s Future of Hope will present its 2nd annual Halloween’s Night of Mischief at Tenjune Lounge/Nightclub in NYC to benefit the Breast Cancer and Pediatric Cancers Programs at City of Hope. Both DJ Sam French and DJ Delorean will be there spinning Studio 54-inspired dance tunes.

I will be attending on behalf of BTB and would love to see you there. Remember, this is going towards programs that literally saves lives. Please feel free to pass this along to those who may be looking for a cool event to attend in celebration of Halloween this year.

Throw on a costume and grab a ticket, ya heard?! (Info below.)

ABOUT NIGHT OF MISCHIEF
Tenjune Lounge/Nightclub
25 Little West 12th Street
(Between 9th Avenue and Washington Street)
New York, NY 10014

Saturday, October 30, 2010; 8 p.m.
$125 pre-purchase
$150 at the door

To pre-purchase tickets, contact Jocelyn Levy at 917-658-6452 or via email at Jocelyn.levy@gmail.com.

ABOUT CITY OF HOPE
Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a leading research, treatment and education center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest honor bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, City of Hope’s research and treatment protocols advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope is located in Duarte, Calif., just northeast of Los Angeles, and is ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” in cancer and urology by U.S.News & World Report. For more information, visit City of Hope’s website here.

Check out Jesse McCartney visiting City of Hope below.

[Related Post: Grace Potter Fights Cancer]

MUSSING TRANSMITTERS WITH DELPHIC

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Lace yourself with a pinch of Delphic. Sometimes they’re so beautiful it’s confusing. Like when you find yourself staring at an ocean at sunset, or gorgeous mountains in the middle of the night, and the sight is so breathtaking you begin to wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you.

I don’t mean to be theatrical, but I’ve never been one to suppress the affect that good music has on me. The best kind of tune can inspire something drastic and daring within. I make it my business to be inspired.
And Delphic makes it their business to be ear-catching. Anything I’d say about them would be too flamboyant, not giving credence to their depth. But if I try to make them sound too deep, you’ll no doubt be disappointed. Sometimes with frontier-pushing techno, you have to just shrug it off and let it be what it is.

Their euphoric, gooey jams may muss up your transmitters, but it’ll all be worth it. They have an itch to melt your ear buds, and often they’ll succeed. It is a joy when you see a band like this cover the horizon with their colour. Not to say they’re in a spotlight, mind you. Perhaps it’s best that they remain somewhat elusive, a treasure for those who happen to stumble upon them.

Whether you want to dance or cram in Psych 101, Delphic is the perfect soundtrack for you. Their first album (released this year), was a brilliant feat of simple harmonies and artistic elaboration.

I like to think that their next installment will have even more to offer. I’m not saying they didn’t do well this time, but I see them as the genius student in elementary – if they get an 80%, you pull them to the side and ask, ‘What happened, bud?’. Sure, it’s not really fair that we always expect more from the brilliant, but we’re not dealing with delicate child egos – we’re talking about talented musicians. So man your guns, Delphic – next time, I expect you to leave me pulverized.

[Related Post: Delphic: Clearly From Europe] 

DEWYZE DROPS ‘SWEET SERENDIPITY’ FROM ‘LIVE IT UP’ DEBUT [REVIEW]

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


American Idol Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze, remember him? Yeah I know, it seems like forever ago. Sweet Serendipity, the lead single from DeWyze’s post Idol debut, Live It Up, is now available for digital download. Now, I want you all to take a listen to this track. It’s very delicate, yet very safe. No?

First of all let me start off by saying I am not an Idol nut, and I am not here to judge anyone, no pun intended. Lee is a talented musician, but is there anything stand out here? Production wise, there is nothing wrong with this track. Musically, it trots along like a silky pebble across a barren pond. I hate to cave into those ludicrous/incongruent comparisons, but it’s hard to imagine Sweet Serendipity creating a lasting impression, or becoming anybody’s new favorite jam of the season. Honestly, I don’t see much difference from him and Season 8 winner, Kris Allen’s Live Like We’re Dying (right by the chorus is where the wordiness of the song becomes reminiscent). Don’t get what I mean? The chorus from both tracks are packed with lyrics, and I mean packed like you’re trying to just escape the weight limit on your luggage. Granted their voices do not sound the same, but it’s that contagious repetitive genre that keeps smacking me in the face (it’s not painful; I just wish someone would throw a left and a right hook once in awhile). Lee is that dude that can really sing anything, from rock to soul, to folk and pop, so maybe it’s just the lead single that is showcasing the familiarity. For a man with such a broad musical range, hopefully the remains of the album will expand the cookie cutter horizon.

To all of my Idol devotees, I am not disappointed in this song, I am just a little surprised it isn’t a little rougher around the edges, if ya smell what I’m cookin’. On the other hand, in a dying business, radio success is a key element for a new artist, so I can relate to the single decision.

Let’s let you be on the judging panel, dawgs. Does Lee’s single throw you for a loop, or leave you with the hunger for more?

GREYSON CHANCE DROPS FIRST SINGLE, ‘WAITING OUTSIDE THE LINES’

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Remember when Oklahoma pre-teen Greyson Chance took over YouTube and melted our hearts with his rendition of GaGa’s Paparazzi? Well, the wait is over, pop fans. Greyson Chance, the first artist signed to Ellen DeGeneres’ own eleveneleven record label, has released his debut single Waiting Outside the Lines.

The piano is his muse, set against his burly voice. This number is a sleek choice for first single and shall serve as a great introduction to radio. Displaying profound hints of Greyson’s vocal ability and his ingenious finger work on the ivories, I have a feeling this is the start of something huge.

Greyson himself noted in a recent interview: “The song comes from the heart and I hope and pray that my fans can use it to ‘escape’ from all the pressures of life. I can’t wait for everyone to take this journey with me.”

Well, what do you think? Are you excited, too?

BTB GIVEAWAY: WIN AUTOGRAPHED TOTE FROM ERIN MCCARLEY / STETSON LOOKS

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Yo Erin, I want that headdress! Seriously.

Stetson has teamed up with Erin McCarley to showcase the newly revamped Fall/Winter 2010 line. And now, Erin is teaming up exclusively with BTB to deliver some signature goodies to you, our kick ass readers (see contest rules below)!

Erin recorded a video for her Hank Williams’ cover of I Saw The Light to spotlight some of the new merchandise from Stetson. Check out the new video and download a free mp3 of I Saw The Light at Stetson Looks — you can also enter to win Stetson merch featured in the video!

Erin was kind enough to offer a limited edition tote bag, autographed by Ms. McCarley herself.

To enter to win, please do the following:

You must click here to become a fan of BTB via Facebook.
Once you click “like” then submit your name/age to robbrayl@robbrayl.com.
Winners will be notified by 11/01/10.

Good luck!

RIHANNA WANTS A CROWN OF HER OWN…

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


“I’m not looking to steal Beyoncé’s crown. I’m looking to get my own.”

-Rihanna

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: TALIA COLES

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Check out our chat with the lovely Talia Coles…

ROB BRAYL: Your father played with James Brown and Wilson Pickett. I assume you grew up submerged in some sweet music?

TALIA COLES: Yes, music was a staple in my house. I was blessed to be around such authentic expressions. Great musicians are not always honored for the genius they possess. I can’t begin to tell you what that was like, being so intimately connected at such a historic time.

RB: Can you explain ‘Nikki Wine’ to those who may not have heard the single? Is ‘Nikki Wine’ an alter ego label? A la Sasha Fierce?

TC: [Laughs] No…’Nikki Wine’ was inspired by an old reggae song by General B. called ‘Nikki’. When my producer played the track I just started singing those words in a different melody and it stuck. It was really catchy and everybody started singing it! Although I think Sasha Fierce is a phenomenal alter ego, I Love Beyonce — I guess it would’ve been great for the story but that’s not quite the case. ‘Nikki Wine’ is no alter ego just the name of the song.

RB: Speaking of labels, you are also passionate about clothes and have your own line. I would imagine your music helps to inspire ideas for your designs?

TC: Music and fashion go hand in hand as far as the value that I have when expressing ones individuality, but fashion is its own beast and I treat it as such. Music whispers in my ear but fashion screams in my face!

RB: As a songwriter you’ve worked with some pretty heavy names (LL Cool J, Musiq Soulchild, Teddy Riley, Slim from 112, among others). But I’m most curious how it was like to work with Tyler Perry. What’s the story there?

TC: I worked with Tyler indirectly, I spent most of the time with Kevin Liles, Joel C High (Music Director) and Jojo Brim who oversaw the soundtrack. So when Tyler got the music it was pretty much stamped. He liked it so that made it even better.

RB: Where is Talia Coles headed? And for those just now jumping on the crazy ride with you, what can we expect?

TC: Talia is expressing her truth and living her dream. I’m coming from a place of contribution and looking to push the culture forward!

VINNY GUADAGNINO FROM JERSEY SHORE TAKES A STAND FOR LGBT COMMUNITY

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Never saw this one coming!

Jersey Shore’s Vinny Guadagnino (my favorite guido on the series) recently did his part in speaking out against the bullying of LGBT teens on behalf of MTV’s A Thin Line Campaign.

Back in February, footage from the highly controversial TV show surfaced of cast member Ronnie Magro, in which he was caught in a heated fight and ended up calling the dude a “f*cking faggot.” He later apologized but it still caused a stir. This is why I personally thought it was an awesome thing for Vinny to do, to show all those kids who watch the show that hate-fueled words/slang (like that of Ronnie’s) is never a cool thing.

Check out Vinny’s message below.

[Related Post: The Church Bullys God’s Rainbows]

THE CHURCH BULLYS GOD’S RAINBOWS #LOVE IS LOUDER #IT GETS BETTER

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

[Photo: Rob Brayl (Me), Maria Ciezak, Caitlin Hoffman — BTB Staff]

Yo kiddies & parents & any soul who is reading,

I suppose I should start with the purpose of this letter. I wanted to do my part in partaking in the Love Is Louder / It Gets Better projects that have been circulating the media and infiltrating the internet. If you read BTB, you know that I have posted videos on the cause – celebrities and musicians who have brought awareness to the issue – and although I appreciate these voices of power, I also felt like no one had mentioned what I’m about to mention and that is why I knew I had to do this.

I’m not a YouTuber, and I don’t ever make vlogs but I did record a video for this project. After watching it though, I realized that I’m unsure if I feel comfortable posting. I got a bit too emotional in the video, to the point that I just have issues with putting that out there right now. This could change, but as of now, I’ve decided to write instead. I’m a writer after all.

I can only speak on personal experience, so here goes…

To me, the biggest bully in my life, wasn’t necessarily a person (although a few individuals come to mind). The biggest bully in my life was an organization, one whose intention isn’t meant to demean or to spew hatred, one whose purpose is actually to do the polar opposite, but for me, as unfortunate as it was, this was not the case.

The biggest bully in my life growing up was The Church.

I want to state that clearly not all churches are bullies – there are some wonderful churches in the world – but for me, growing up in the environment in which I did, the church was a devastating part of my existence.

To give a brief back-story: I grew up in the South, in a town of 4,000 people. Dirt roads, farms, Wal-Mart, rodeos, football – it’s most likely everything you’re thinking of and more (basically, think Varsity Blues for reference). I don’t want to say that I was a target of a particular church or that it was solely the reason I was led down such a dark road because there’s deeper issues there and deeper issues at play. Issues I do not wish to disperse openly in this format. Underneath, I realize that there are so many other factors that you have to take into consideration, but this is my truth and this is how the church left me feeling completely alone and tortured.

I remember being around ten years old when I heard what so many of you have heard. There was a distant relative in my family who I had never met, and one time when my family had guests over for dinner, he became the topic of conversation. I was playing with Legos, being a kid, when I overheard something that felt like a bullet. This relative was gay. He died of AIDS. And what I heard was that he would never get into heaven. I remember crying myself to sleep that night, because even though I had no clue how to verbalize who I was, I knew that I was somehow like this man. I cried myself to sleep, praying.

My prayer: I begged God to fix me.

This is just one example. There’s more personal issues I do not wish to tell, stories that probably have been told before. But what lies underneath that one moment in which is shared has to deal with The Church and how so much fear and hatred is poured into the potion of God. And I find it to be painfully sad that the church often dilutes God’s love.

The Church made me constantly question my own creation. I battled with the idea of why God would create me, if all I would ever be viewed as is flawed. There were times when I literally hated myself. I felt ugly and unlovable, to the point that eventually when I would look into the mirror, I would not even question it, for the weight of the feeling of ugliness had already found its home on my shoulders.

No one should ever feel this way.

I carried that weight around for years and years, until I finally realized that maybe my colors were a little too bright because God was going to use the palette of all that I was to paint a visual that only I could create. The same can be said for all of you, every single person who finds this, who stumbles upon this. You were meant to read this and your colors, the insane mixture of colors that swirl inside of you, were hand selected. You were born an original. Why set on being a copy? God didn’t just create black and white, he also created rainbows. And colors that the eyes can’t fully digest, so do you really think that if his design and genius was this intense, this wonderful and magical and complex that he would only create one single idea of what is right and one hue of sexuality?

It would take me forever to count and to present to you the ways in which God has never left me along the way, through all the struggles I’ve faced and still face. It’s made me come to one conclusion: God effing loves me.

I want you to know that God loves you, too. I realize that may sound like some summer camp cheesefest but know this is coming from a genuine space and that I’m real, that is the truth and nothing but the truth. God loves you and you are exactly who you were created to be. I know it can be hard and that high school sucks balls but I promise you, that if you focus on your mind, and you stay positive and hold onto faith, that you will develop into something beautiful.

I want to note that my family is loving and supportive of me and all my colors. That story of the distant relative has a lot to do with the time period and the place and the culture of where I grew up. It just goes to show that not everyone really knows what they’re saying and how those words can be used as weapons. Often, it’s the ones who love us the most who leave the deepest wounds. And often, it’s because they are blissfully unaware, which is why these projects are necessary.

I want to end this sappy situation with one of my favorite quotes by the awesome Zach Galifianakis. When asked his views on the Bible here is what he had to say:

“Well, it is hard to argue the teachings of Jesus – whether you believe or not. But the jerks at the Southern Baptist Convention and the freaks at Focus on the Family have completely hijacked those teachings of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is all about turning the other cheek. I think if Jesus were to come back he would more likely hang out with low-lifes and perhaps be in a really bad cover band, but do his good work.”

My thoughts exactly.

Your buddy-o,
Rob Brayl
#loveislouder
#itgetsbetter

Since I used Zach’s quote + for comic relief, and since I love how he mentions his daily reading of the Scripture, I thought I’d throw the clip above into the mix.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW — I AM VEXED

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Brothers, Bruno & Ben, of UK pop band I Am Vexed, recently spoke exclusively to BTB on the animation behind their music. Check out the interview, in full, below.

MARIA CIEZAK: What’s the origin of I Am Vexed? How did you meet, etc? Were you guys pissed off at the time?

Ben: Well, Bruno and I are brothers and we both were playing in various other bands and projects. We decided to work together one day and wrote our first few songs – one of which contained the words ‘I Am Vexed’. We liked it.
Bruno: We were a little bit pissed.

MC: Your sound on ‘My Life, My Lifestyle’ is a crazy music of genres — somewhat techno, a little hip hop flavor, and some rock and roll mixed in. What genre would you consider yourself to be in, if you had to choose one specifically?

Bruno: I think we would always say we’re a pop band. We love a lot of different music so various styles seem to work their way in there.
Ben: If there is a particular album we’re loving whilst recording a song, we can be influenced by that, which is often why different styles creep into our music.

MC: Who writes most of your songs, is it a collaborative effort?

Ben: I tend to play around with different musical ideas and we take it from there. Bruno is all about the lyrics, they’re his thing, but I’d definitely say each song is a collaborative effort. I guess we do have our individual strengths.

MC: Is the message in ‘My Life, My Lifestyle’ directed towards someone in particular or just to the world in general?

Bruno: It’s really me making excuses for the way I am and certain things I do. I guess it’s almost having an argument ready for when people pick up on those things.

MC: I love your accents. Do you get that a lot?

Ben: Yes.

MC: After checking out your blog, you seem like a bunch of laid back guys. I mean what is not to love about a video shoot filled with hot dogs and solo cups? Where do you get inspiration from for your videos?

Ben: Thanks!
Bruno: Our older brother Leo is a filmmaker and he seems to always come up with ideas that we really like. The new video for ‘My Life, My Lifestyle’ was especially a lot of fun to make.
Ben: We never, ever want to eat hot dogs again.

MC: I saw images from artists such as Cee-Lo Brown and Kanye West on your blog as well. Is hip hop a big influence on I Am Vexed, or are these just artists whose work you admire?

Bruno:I’m a huge fan of those artists and hip hop in general. I think the sort of music those artists are making is particularly inspiring for anyone making music at the moment.

MC: What are your long term goals as musicians?

Bruno: I’d say firstly to keep writing so we have a first album’s worth of songs we love. It can take a little while to work out which songs you like the best and which ones go down at gigs the best, too. Then it would be to release that album and tour it to hopefully great success.

MC: How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?

Ben: Yeah, our website is the best place to hear our new songs as and when we finish them. You can find our music on iTunes as well.

MC: If you had to describe your band to the world in 15 seconds, what would you say?

Bruno: “Music to make love to.”

***BONUS TRACKS (Streaming)***
I Am Vexed – You Need Me (Audio MP3)
I Am Vexed – Be Wise (Audio MP3)

SOUL’D ON CEE-LO’S ‘OLD FASHIONED’

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Cee-Lo Green can do it all. His new single Old Fashioned (which is a far cry from flipping you off) has been released for purchase, and should be bought, immediately. There are only a handful of contemporary artists with out-of-this-world voices that are instruments. Cee-Lo is a brilliant creature in the music world. His originality is boundless along with his love of poignant expression.

Even though he’s had some radio friendly tracks, Cee-Lo Green will always be a soul machine. Be prepared for forceful emotion, well planned lyrics, and wild deliveries and flow. I loved it 30 seconds in, for in his own words: It’s Timeless.

Listen to Cee-Lo’s new single below.

NOT AFRAID TO LOVE THE BLACK KEYS

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Check out The Black Keys at the studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama during the making of their album Brothers. Retro sound, and delicate lyrics that make my heart melt. They’ve got that swampy Southern sound; sound that makes one wanna shoot Jack’ and fight strangers. Thank you, Black Keys, for your continuous contributions to the authenticity of music making.

Pure talent & more proof that good music still exists.

Watch the video below.

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