Archive for December, 2012

A PIECE OF FORBIDDEN FRUIT

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Hear me out on this one:

I’m back in New York with this sitting on my mantle and I feel compelled to share the story behind it.

I bought this handmade piece yesterday at the Abingdon Flea Market in Abingdon, Virginia (near my hometown of Richlands, VA). The minute I saw it, I was drawn to it. It stirred something in me. As a writer, I found it poetic and layered. As a person, one who often goes against the grain of society, I related to it.

“I’m a piece of forbidden fruit,” I thought to myself and laughed. Rough around the edges, abnormal, wild and full of life. I may not fit in or ever feel like I truly belong back home, but in my forbiddenness and rebellion, I think I’ve allowed myself the freedom to create something sweet (jam!) out of my ever-so-imperfect life.

The first time I saw it, I passed it up. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so as we were heading for the car (after looking through the entire warehouse), I went back to grab it. And when I did, this lovely country woman (who made it; Anne Wampler of Fire Light Candles to be exact) strikes up a conversation: “I noticed you when you first walked in. How tall are you, sweetie?” I answered. She then asked where I’m from, and I replied: “I’m originally from these parts. I’m visiting family for the holidays, but I now live in New York. Believe it or not.”

She instantly lit up. She then opened up to me about her 13-year-old son, who just came out of the closet and how she worries about him constantly because he gets bullied quite a bit at school. She said he had dreams of visiting New York one day because he loves musical theatre.

I immediately knew that I was meant to meet this woman.

She asked if she could give him my info because she knew I had been in the same situation years ago. I obliged. I told her if he ever needs to talk to someone he can always reach out to me. She was thrilled.

Going back home may be like crawling into an old wound for me, but it’s a place that is forever a part of me. And I’m grateful for the people there who embrace me with open arms.

Whenever I look at this, I will think of this kid and pray that people are kind to him.

My mom always tells me: “Rob, you can’t save the world.” And man, have I learned how true that is. But if I can save just one person, if I can make their life have meaning and hope, I think that’s all that really matters.

So blessed for the people God has brought into my life over the past few months, and so excited for another year of unexpected encounters.

CATS PARK

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

This single’s so salty I’m licking my fingers.

Safety is the name, and the game is undefined. Cats Park (the baby-daddy to this newborn track) are an elusive sort of band. They tend to create genreless material, showcasing low-tempo rock spotted with jazz, trip-hop and electronic implements. They’re also Russian. Awesome, right? Talent knows no borders.

When I say this song’s a newborn, I mean it- it was only just released earlier this month. Its crooning melody sends a wintry chill up the spine and makes the brain go blank.

They have no video for it yet, but trust me when I say the audio will be enough.

Click.

ON HEAVY ROTATION: ALICIA KEYS – ‘BRAND NEW ME’

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

It’s been a while
I’m not who I was before
You look surprised
Your words don’t burn me anymore
Been meanin’ to tell ya
But I guess it’s clear to see
Don’t be mad
It’s just a brand new kinda me
Can’t be bad
I found a brand new kinda free

Careful with your ego
He’s the one that we should blame
Had to grab my heart back
God knows something had to change
I thought that you’d be happy
I found the one thing I need
Why you mad?
It’s just a brand new kinda me

It took a long long time to get here
It took a brave, brave girl to try
It took one too many excuses
One too many lies
Don’t be surprised, don’t be surprised

If I talk a little louder
If I speak up when you’re wrong
If I walk a little taller
I’ve been under you too long
If you notice that I’m different
Don’t take it personally
Don’t be mad
It’s just a brand new kinda me
That ain’t bad
I found a brand new kinda free

It took a long, long road to get here
It took a brave, brave girl to try
I’ve taken one too many excuses
One to many lies
Don’t be surprised, oh, said, you look surprised

Hey, if you were a friend
You’d wanna get to know me again
If you were worth the while
You’d be happy to see me smile
I’m not expecting sorry
I’m too busy finding myself
I got this
I found me, I found me

I don’t need your opinion
I’m not waiting for your okay
I’ll never be perfect,
But at least now I’m brave
I know my heart is open
I can finally breathe
Don’t be mad
It’s just a brand new kinda free
That ain’t bad
I found a brand new kinda me
Don’t be mad
It’s just a brand new time for me

[Related Post: Alicia Keys Debuts ‘Brand New Me’]

BUCKCHERRY DELIVERS NEW SLICE OF ROCK & ROLL PIE

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Time to stuff yo face! With a loud ass piece of rock & roll pie!

That’s right, kids. Because multi-platinum rock band Buckcherry have released a lyric video for Gluttony, the lead single from the band’s upcoming album, Confessions (set to drop February 19th on Century Media Records).

The band just wrapped a string of UK dates, and will headline North American shows in late December and January before joining Kid Rock as special guests on the upcoming Rebel Soul Tour, beginning February 2nd in Kansas City, MO. In addition, Buckcherry will co-headline Fremont Street Experience’s Downtown Countdown New Year’s Eve 2013 celebration in Las Vegas December 31.


(For those of you who can’t make it, there’s always PartyBingo.Com!)

While on tour, Buckcherry will preview new songs from Confessions, the band’s sixth studio album and first U.S. release for Century Media Records. Confessions merges punk grit, gutter attitude, honest storytelling, and razor sharp hooks. The lyrics are tied together by the underlying theme of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Buckcherry continues to resonate because they’re so unabashedly honest in their recordings and on stage. “It’s a real rock ‘n’ roll band,” says Nelson. “You get 100 percent of what we are and what we’re about. We don’t apologize for it.”

Hell yeah!

Buckcherry–Josh Todd (vocals), Keith Nelson (guitar), Stevie D. (guitar), Jimmy Ashhurst (bass), Xavier Muriel (drums)–are one of the premier rock bands of the new millennium, having sold more than three million records in America alone and touring virtually non-stop, playing with everyone from AC/DC to Avenged Sevenfold, touring sold-out arenas with rock legends KISS, and headlining festivals ranging from the punk rock Ink-N-Iron (also featuring the Misfits and Pennywise) to Sturgis. Radio staples Lit Up, Crazy Bitch and Sorry have cemented the band as one of the most identifiable and sought-after bands on the radio and the live circuits, and Confessions is primed to take the band to even greater heights.

Official lyric video for Gluttony down there, y’all!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH EVEREST

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

MARIA CIEZAK: I’ve been a fan for quite some time now, and almost spit out my water when I heard Let Go on the latest Corona commercial. For many, this seems to be the moment when people start googling “What is that song from the…?” How did this whole process come about?

EVEREST: During the touring cycle for our last album On Approach, we performed Let Go on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and it went over pretty well. From what we understand, a savvy ad exec at the agency that works with Corona liked us just as a real band. They thought we were right for the commercial they were pitching. They just wanted Everest as we are, no changes, no acting required. We filmed half the spot on one of our hometown stages, The Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, and shot the beach scene on the actual Corona beach in Tulum, Mexico. It was a strange turn of events, but when you see the commercial, it’s just us being us…

MC: For those who are just getting to know your music now, how did you guys meet? And where does the name “Everest” come from?

E: We met as friends who were all working in touring bands based in Los Angeles. When faced with the daunting task of naming our new collaboration, we ended up taking the easy route and named the group after Jason Soda and Russ Pollard’s pre-existing analog recording studio, Everest Recorders. The name for the studio was based on an old story about the Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick and his brand of cigarettes – Everest. For a short time, the lads thought about calling their final album “Everest” and even some of the tape boxes from the sessions were labeled “Everest.” Later, they settled on another title… “Abbey Road.”

MC: What is it like being musicians from Los Angeles, for I almost feel that is the place that many aspiring musicians migrate towards to pursue their dreams.

E: The geography of our home base has in some ways been a detriment, I feel. There’s just so much traffic here (figuratively and literally). There is a ton of talent and innovative art, but it’s extremely hard to stand out from the crowd. We have a tight collective of friends in great bands based out of the Silverlake and Echo Park areas, but in general the LA “scene” is so fragmented and spread out that it feels like more of a wash of noise than an actual focused community. We’ve always just done our own thing anyways.

MC: Ownerless is amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of recording this record?

E: Ownerless was a very collaborative record from start to finish. We began by taking two trips to Cottage Grove, OR to record with a gentleman we love and respect named Richard Swift. Swift helped us focus a batch of brand new songs and record them quickly without too much over-thinking. An approach that was really perfect for us at the time. We were in the process of changing from a major label to an independent, and we just needed the freedom to relax and play music for all the right reasons. After doing a bit of touring, some of the songs had grown, so we went into Mant Sounds in Los Angeles with producer (and friend) Rob Schnapf. We re-recorded a handful of the original songs and also wrote a few more during that process. When we felt like we were done, Rob mixed the record and we dove into a mastering process where we spent a lot of time thinking about the proper way to link the songs to help them tell the whole story of where our heads were at, at that time. Certain themes started to become evident, and I actually made a chart at one point of what the songs meant to me, and used that to help find some direction for the overall sequence. People don’t really listen to albums as a whole piece much anymore, but I think if you listen to our record you’ll be rewarded with a pretty good journey.

MC: What would you say is more enjoyable, recording the music or taking it live on the road?

E: Both recording and playing live are super fun for different reasons. It’s great to shape sounds and record good tones in the studio, but it’s also a blast for us to deconstruct the songs live and allow them to take on a new life.

MC: Do you have a favorite track to play?

E: I really love all the songs live. I wish we played the slow ones more. That said, Hungry Ghost and Ownerless are two pretty epic songs where we allow ourselves room to stretch out live, so those two are always different and challenging. It’s nice to hang your toes over the edge of the cliff in a live setting, and see what happens. Far Off, Away has great personal meaning to me and it’s really easy for me to get lost in that one every time we play it. I truly love playing every song from Ownerless. I’m always singing my ass off to Give A Little whether I’m on the mic or not.
MC: As of this moment, what is your proudest moment as musicians?

E: I’m proud that we are still a band after all of these years. We love/fight each other like brothers, and we’ve learned to understand and appreciate each of our individual strengths and weaknesses and celebrate them. I’m lucky to be a part of this group of musicians.

MC: Who are some of your musical inspirations, and what artists are you listening to right now?

E: My biggest inspirations come from all genres, “from the history of recorded music” as our bassist Elijah Thomson likes to say. The list goes on and on! My musical education ranged from The Beatles, Stones, Neil Young, Hendrix, Mingus, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Ramones, Dylan and Sleater-Kinney. When I started out, bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana opened a door for me into songwriting and inspired me to give it a shot. These days, I’ve been listening to a lot of George Harrison, Richard Swift, Two Sheds and a ton of Brazilian jazz and African guitar rock. Definitely on a big Ornette Coleman kick of late, particularly Skies of America.

MC: What’s next for Everest? A tour? New music? Fill us in!

E: Our next performance will be on January 3rd on Late Night with David Letterman. I grew up loving Letterman and have always respected his show’s musical programming. I used to daydream about being on his show. It’s unreal that it’s going to become a reality. After that, we’ll see… We have some offers to play some festivals in 2013, and I know we’re all sort of writing on our own and starting to think about recording a new record sooner than later.

PHOENIX STONE WILL GET YOU DRUNK

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Phoenix Stone, anyone? No, not Rosetta Stone, you idiots! Phoenix. As in fresh, up and coming country recording artist, Phoenix Stone. I know, I know… I don’t often write about country music (although it does have a place in my heart), but something about Phoenix seemed worth the time. And in case that name rings a bell, it’s basically because the dude has been active in the music industry for a long ass time, beginning his career as an early member of the Backstreet Boys.

Yup! You heard me!

After his departure, he was signed to a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music and has since worked with some prominent names, including Art Garfunkel. In 2010, Phoenix’s inspirational charity single, Proud To Be (Born Again American) went to #11 on the Country/Christian chart.

Currently, Phoenix has just released a music video for new single 100 Proof Moonshine, and upon first spin, it’s apparent that this is a radio-friendly/feel-good track that works, fitting comfortably beside any Tim McGraw record. The digital single is the first song that Stone is releasing in support of his new album, We Got A Lot To Drink About, which will be released next year.

Video for 100 Proof Moonshine below.

Drink up, peoples!

MIKE POSNER CREATES ‘HEAVEN’, A TRIBUTE FOR SANDY HOOK VICTIMS

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


I must give props to Mike Posner, who has created a touching tribute in response to the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Entitled Heaven, the new acoustic track is simply Posner’s way of giving, trying to make sense of, and hoping to lift those affected by Friday’s tragedy.

In his dedication, the Detroit native wrote: “Hey guys… I wanted to do SOMETHING for the victims’ families and I didn’t really know what else to do. Writing songs is pretty much the only thing I’m any good at, so I hope you’ll share this as you see fit.”

What a sweet song and gesture! Kudos, Mike!

Listen to Heaven in full below.

NATALIA LESZ

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Polish pop alert! Sexy guy in red alert!

Meet Natalia Lesz, a rising pop star in Poland whose making a dent with her latest single Beat Of My Heart. The electro track was co-written by Hannah Sidibe (Nas) and Nico Hartikanien (Flo Rida, Far East Movement) and comes backed with a killer (literally!) video. Oops, spoiler alert!

(Sorry for all the alerts, I’m in an alerty mood!)

Basically, the girl (in the video at least) visually reads as Amy Winehouse but sounds a bit more Kylie Minogue-ified. It’s a cool combo.

No stranger to the spotlight, after graduating from the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Lesz began working on her debut album, Natalia, with John Poppo (Michael Jackson, N*SYNC), Heather Holley (Christina Aguilera), Rob Hoffman (Quincy Jones), Greg Wells (Elton John, S Club 7), and Glen Ballard (Katy Perry, Paula Abdul). The single Power Of Attraction was ranked 24th on the list of 2008’s Best Songs Of The Year by Billboard Magazine.

After that bundle of goodness, she competed on the 8th season of Poland’s Dancing With The Stars, taking second place overall.

And that my little squids, is Natalia Lesz in a nutshell.

Check out the video for Beat of My Heart below.

Oh! And PS: Watch until the very end. I was seriously like WTF’ing!

MIGUEL’S SEXY SLAB OF A SHOULD-BE-RELEASED SINGLE, ‘USE ME’

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Miguel’s sophomore release, Kaleidoscope Dream, scored multiple Grammy nods earlier this week, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Ever since seeing the dude throw down on stage (see a video from this show on my YouTube), back in the summer of 2011, I’ve been cheering him on from the BTB blogosphere.

His take on on the genre is fresh, seductive, and hypnotic.

Listen to my favorite cut from his latest album, the sexy slab of a should-be-released single, Use Me, below.

Hot. Hot. Hot.

I simply cannot stop playing this damn song!

BLINK-182 RELEASES HOLIDAY TUNEAGE

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


On December 18th, Blink-182 will release a brand new EP entitled Dogs Eating Dogs, but in the meantime, the infamous punk trio has decided to give us an early holiday treat by releasing the first single, Boxing Day. I can feel the total composition of mawkishly seasonal elements in this track, and it’s nothing short of awesome.

According to Mark Hoppus’ Twitter, fans who pre-order one of their holiday music packages will get a free download of Boxing Day this week, so be sure to look more into that for details!

Give it a spin, for ’tis the season to be jolly!

BETA WOLF

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Los Angeles-based rock band Beta Wolf has released a video for their single Domino, and I’m diggin’ it! Taken from their latest EP, Just Before Morning, the clip keeps it simple yet effective, taking footage from the band’s performance from Ives Concert Park in Danbury, CT while on tour with genre heavyweights Daughtry.

Beta Wolf released Just Before Morning earlier this summer while submerged in the middle of a 3-week tour with Daughtry. Recorded in Bob Clearmountain’s Berkeley Street studio in Santa Monica, the band enlisted producer Fred Archambault (Avenged Sevenfold, Eighteen Visions) to create a memorable piece of rock.

Be the cool kid. Purchase the boys’ EP before their name gets plastered everywhere. Cuz let’s face it, it’s bound to happen.

CAN’T GET ENUFF: MR. LITTLE JEANS

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Meet Norwegian singer Monica Birkeness, also known as Mr. Little Jeans. According to Guardian writer Paul Lester, Monica got the name of her musical alias from a character in Wes Anderson’s film Rushmore. But really, that’s besides the point.

The point is that her music is the sh*t. No backstory needed really.

With one listen of the lush electro-pop tune Runaway, it’s apparent that Mr. Little Jeans is a noodle that sticks. Bad analogy? Yes. But whatever, I’m feelin’ its weirdness.

The sick single also comes backed with a cool yet borderline creepy video.

Check it!

ON HEAVY ROTATION: ‘SANDALWOOD’

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


She can’t tell me that all of the love songs have been written,
‘Cause she’s never been in love with you before.

Your skin smells lovely like sandalwood.
Your hair falls soft like animals.
I’m tryin’ to keep cool, but everyone here likes you.

I want to kiss the back of your neck,
The top of your spine where your hair hits, and gnaw on your fingertips and fall asleep,
I’ll talk you to sleep.

But I’ll be the one, I will have chosen.

I’m tryin’ to keep cool, but everyone here likes you, I’m not the only one.

Your skin smells lovely like sandalwood.
You hair falls soft like animals,
And nothing else matters to me.

She can’t tell me that all of the love songs have been written,
‘Cause she’s never been in love with you before.

Your hand,
So hot,
Burns a hole in
My hand.
I wanted to show you.

[Click HERE for more Lisa Loeb beautifulness.]

BUD E MAKES A SPLASH WITH DEBUT SINGLE ‘GOES ON’ FT. BRADD YOUNG

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


I can’t believe it’s not butta!

Get to know St. Louis native Bud E, whose debut single is receiving early radio success. Goes On is an infectious record in the vein of Bruno Mars, and features label mate and St. Louis native Bradd Young.

Bud E is a charismatic rapper, writer, performer, and MC who began developing his craft through local performances in St. Louis including the Missouri Black Expo and hosting the local TV show Hot Summer Nights. In 2010, he was also recognized for his outstanding contributions to the betterment of the city. (Yay for doing positive things!)

Label mate Bradd Young (who sings the melodic hook on Goes On) is an accomplished R&B singer and producer who has worked with Akon, Kelly Rowland, Teddy Riley, Talib Kweli, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and St. Louis’ own Nelly and Jibbs. (Overachiever alert!)

Both are signed to Sphinx Music Entertainment, an independent record label distributed by Sony RED, which has had recent success with Cali Swag District (Teach Me How To Dougie).

Hailing from a city that produced hip hop stars Nelly, Chingy, J-Kwon and Jibbs, the proud St. Louis natives Bud E and Bradd Young are certainly in the position to take the torch!

Listen to Goes On, the debut single from Bud E ft. Bradd Young below.

DAVE GROHL SET TO MAKE DIRECTORIAL DEBUT W/ ‘SOUND CITY’ DOCUMENTARY

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


If I can somehow manage to sneak into The Sundance Film Festival, I will keep you guys up to date, just in case you may need to post my bail. Reason being, I just found out that Dave Grohl will be making his directorial debut at the festival with his new feature documentary film, Sound City.

The film is about the infamous recording studio in Van Nuys, California. As I have seen in my twenty-six years of life, Grohl can literally do no wrong, so I am excited to see what he can do on this side of the arts. Dave perceived the idea for Sound City after he purchased the legendary Neve 8028 recording console from Sound City Studios last year. He also became connected with the studio, as well as introduced to it, while recording that famous little album with Nirvana, Nevermind, back in the stone age of 1990.

While we all anticipate the greatness that Grohl is about to unleash on the world, let us all bask in his glory with some tunes. After the official Sound City trailer, of course.

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