Archive for March, 2013

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: THE MOWGLI’S

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

MARIA CIEZAK: For those who aren’t aware of The Mowgli’s, can you let us know a brief backstory?

MATT DI PANNI of THE MOWGLI’S: Most of us met growing up in Calabasas. Some of us have been friends since elementary school. Colin and Josh are from the Midwest and we were all lucky enough to cross paths with them a few years back.

MC: It’s rare to find a band with eight members. Does it ever get crowded on stage?

MDP: It’s always crowded on stage with just the band, and then we generally ask the crowd to join us on stage… I think of it as a big house party and everyone is hanging out in the kitchen.

MC: How was the music scene starting out in California? I am sure there are a lot of bands out there struggling to make it.

MDP: The California music scene seemed easily receptive to our sound. Most people in Southern California had grown up with bands like The Beach Boys or anything from the 60s love era, so it’s easy for our Love Rock to feel familiar to them. The same goes for Northern California because of the beatnik and love movements in the 60s & 70s.

Bands do struggle in LA, but there’s so much amazing music coming from the city. We do our best to help all of our friends and their bands because we want people to hear their music too.

MC: What would you say you enjoy more, recording or live performances?

MDP: Live performance. Feeling the room swell with sweat and people dancing is one of the most intense feelings.

MC: San Francisco is becoming a massive hit. Every time I hear this song I want too dance. How do you feel about the success it’s been getting?

MDP: Really excited. I’m just really happy that people are getting the chance to hear what we truly believe. People around the world are feeling our positivity and I hope it’s making them inherently better towards each other.

MC: I also love the video for this track. Where did the concept come from?

MDP: We met Justin Baldoni, the director of the video, and we went back and forth on so many ideas within his vision. Justin wanted to create this one singular movement of random acts of kindness between the band and strangers. We worked with a choreographer to make the video flow perfectly, step by step. We had always wanted to make a video where we were doing good for other people and Justin really helped us actualize the scenario.

MC: What music is on your iPod right now?

MDP: As I answer these questions I am listening to Hearts Alive by Mastodon, but I’m currently very into Dead Sara, Lissie, The 1975, Code Orange Kids, Burnt Books, and Explosions in the Sky.

MC: If you weren’t playing music, what would you be doing?

MDP: My other passion used to be video games, so I would probably be involved in that industry. I used to test video games before we started touring.

MC: You guys will be on the road this spring and I will be catching you in New York. Any venues you are looking forward to the most?

MDP: NYC (Mercury Lounge), April 5th and Chicago (Schubas), April 12th.

MC: What’s next after the tour?

MDP: Home for about three days and then back on the road. We will be doing more touring and festivals throughout the entire summer. At some point in the next few months we will be releasing a full-length record with PhotoFinish Records, so expect that too!

MC: Can you provide any advice for bands just starting out?

MDP: Stay humble no matter what, don’t give up if its your dream, and don’t forget to remind the people you love that you love them every day.

MC: Describe The Mowgli’s sound in five words.

MDP: Fun and positive Love Rock.

THE STORY SO FAR DROPS FLAWLESS LP

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

California’s own, The Story So Far, have released a new album entitled What You Don’t See, available for purchase now. The record was produced by Steven Klein, who you may know from a little band called New Found Glory. I must admit, I was a little nervous when I first heard Klein was going to be working on this record, for some of his previous work is compiled with bass, bass, and more bass. However, the album isn’t too mixed down, it’s somewhat perfection actually.

Two years ago, this band came crawling out from under a rock, with a debut album (Under Soil & Dirt) that made me an insta-fan. This record also gave them major success, touring with many known names, and giving punk rock fans that fix they had been yearning for over the years. It was actually one of the best freshmen albums I had ever heard. Currently, The Story So Far completely negates that age-old theory that once a sophomore record comes along that bands tend to demise. This album in fact solidifies all of the fame they have acquired.

To be blunt, I truly cannot find a single flaw in this album.

One thing about The Story So Far that always grabs my attention are the lead vocals, for they are undeniably blessed in that area. Parker Cannon is a diamond in the rough; no whining, no screeching, just pure talent. He is so relentlessly talented on recordings and so full of energy, that you will be sucked in immediately. Long story short, this record doesn’t have a single filler track on it. Standout tracks include: Things I Can’t Change, Right Here, and The Glass.

If you are a fan of bands such as The Wonder Years, Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong, or any pop punk band, you will dig this new product.

Check out the official video for Empty Space below, and get a tease of what you are in store for on this new record. Their music has continued to shatter anyone who doubts their staying power. They now own the world.

Job well done.

P!NK WOWS ON TRUTH ABOUT LOVE TOUR

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“I’m hoarse tonight, so I’m gonna need a lot of love to get through, but I don’t cancel shows and I don’t lip-sync because that’s bullshit.”

-Pink, Live from the Izod Center
#TruthAboutLoveTour

Seeing Pink over the weekend changed my life. While her acrobatic skills were out of this world, and yes, it was mind-blowing to see her fly around a stadium packed with 20,000 people, it was her vulnerably naked songs that sent me over the edge. Songs like Who Knew and Perfect, emotionally belted through a microphone, wearing a simple white gown while sitting next to an acoustic guitar. Because the truth is, Pink doesn’t need the sing upside down to prove that she has talent. That’s just the icing on the cake.

[Related Post: P!nk Creates Flawless Piece Of Art]

SNOOP LION

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

In case you haven’t heard, the one and only Snoop Dogg has released a new single under the name Snoop Lion. No, I’m not kidding. This is actually quite cool, because A.) it’s unexpected and somewhat funny & B.) it’s for an amazing cause: ending gun violence.

On No Guns Allowed, Snoop teams up with Drake and daughter Cori B. in a plea for peace on the streets.

Produced by Major Lazer and Ariel Rechtshaid, Snoop rhymes about putting weapons down on the reggae-influenced track: “Cause, no guns are allowed, in here tonight/ We’re gonna have a free-for-all, no fights/ I wanna get lost in the crowd, in here tonight.”

Go Snoop Lion!

Snoop’s 11th studio album, Reincarnated, drops on April 23rd.

Listen to Snoop Lion’s No Guns Allowed (featuring Cori B. and Drake) below + interview w/ Snoop explaining the inspiration behind the song following.

TEGAN & SARA INTERVIEWING CUTIES!

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Yay for cute boys + cool musicians!

‘Heartthrob: The Interviews’ features Tegan & Sara interviewing, well, heartthrobs. Such a genius marketing campaign to promote their long-awaited new album Heartthrob, available now.

I could watch these clips all damn day!

PS: Skylar, call me!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: JOSHUA RADIN

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

ROB BRAYL: I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the new album (‘Wax Wings’, due out May 7th), and it’s an exquisite record! You MUST be getting butterflies leading up to its release?

JOSHUA RADIN: I am but mainly because I’m self-releasing a record for the first time. It’s scary but fun.

RB: I’m literally sitting here with my headphones on, trying to pick a favorite track from the record. I’m having a hard time, but I’m leaning towards ‘Your Rainy Days’ and ‘Like They Used To’. May I ask your personal favorite?

JR: Thank you so much! Well, that’s nice to hear. I guess if I had to pick a favorite it would be ‘Back To Where I’m From’.

RB: Being that this site is known for spotlighting indie artists, I was particularly fixated on the fact that you chose to release your new album independently. What was your frame of mind regarding this move?

JR: I like releasing music more often than most labels will allow. So I’m going at it on my own in order to put more music out into the world.

RB: I understand the title comes from Greek mythology. Can you speak on this a little bit?

JR: In several past songs, I’ve referred to my love as the sun. The album title is a reference to the myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun on wings made of wax and feathers. The wings melted and he fell, just as I have, over and over again. Sometimes I think love is something I’ll never get too close to again, and other times I feel the confidence to fly too closely to it.

RB: Obviously rap will never be an influence in your work, but since you’re from Cleveland and all, I have to ask: What do you think of Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly?

JR: To be honest, I don’t know who that is.

RB: Speaking of influences, what is your driving force when creating music?

JR: Love.

RB: I always ask this, because it’s fun… Current guilty pleasure(s)?

JR: Girls. (The TV show)

RB: If I were to steal your iPod, are there any artists I may be surprised to find?

JR: Probably not. But who knows? I like all kinds of music.

RB: I saw you perform last year here in the city and actually met you very briefly after the show. You seemed as genuine and real as your music and I think it shows in your performances. The connection you have with the audience is incredibly honest. Are you planning on touring with the new material?

JR: Thank you! I try really hard to connect with everyone during live performances. I am going to tour this record but in just a few intimate venues in just a few cities. I spent half of last year on the road and I’m a little burnt. I’m needing home right now.

RB: It’s a well-known fact that you performed at Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding. I just wanted to end this interview by saying thank you for supporting gay rights. We love you!

JR: [Laughs] Yes, I did, and I do. She is an amazing woman as is her wife.

THE STROKES UNLEASH ‘ALL THE TIME’

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

One of my favorite rock n’ roll groups, The Strokes, have released their newest single All the Time, which can be found on their new album Comedown Machine (available for purchase March 25th)! You may not remember, but this is the second track to be taken off of the group’s fifth studio release, as One Way Trigger dropped earlier this year as a free download. That track fell somewhat short, however, All The Time is picking up strong radio play and taking us back to The Strokes that we all know and love. The video reminds us why we were fans in the first place, taking us on a trip down memory lane. It’s a laid-back vibe full of tour footage that makes me yearn to see them on the road again.

I will be reviewing this record in it’s entirety upon release, but for now, let’s savor the appetizer.

Brand new video for All The Time below.

MOXI

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Artist to watch!

Meet Anna Nelson AKA Moxi, a Los Angeles-based singer and performer whose floating soundscape of vintage keyboards, big backbeats, and signature Omnichord strums are quickly brewing a buzz. With dreamy lyrics and hypnotic melodies, Moxi’s distinct soprano voice (backed by producer/writer/multi-instrumentalist Andy Toy) takes the listener to a wistfully introspective space.

Her EP In My Dreams was released last month via CatBeach Music.

Watch the video for Terrible Disguise below.

Totally diggin’ this girl!

NEW EVE FEATURING GABE SAPORTA OF COBRA STARSHIP!

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Grammy Award-winning artist Eve is back and werkin’ for a cause! Her brand new single, Make It Out This Town (featuring Cobra Starship frontman Gabe Saporta), first premiered last month as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ National Mentoring Month conference in Washington, D.C. The track is a radio-friendly pop gem, an inspiring and uplifting ‘overcoming the odds’ type of anthem.

Eve was recently named a National Celebrity Ambassador for the charity.

Says Eve: “I am releasing Make It Out This Town as my first single from Lip Lock because I wanted to share the positive place I have come into. I went through obstacles to get my music and message out and nothing embodies this more than this song, which also mirrors my recent honor and connection that comes with my role as an ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The song is dedicated to them.”

Make It Out This Town is the official single released from Eve’s long-awaited, much-anticipated album, Lip Lock, due out May 14th.

Can’t get enuff! Such a feel-good jam!

SATURDAY, MONDAY CREATES VISUAL MASTERPIECE WITH ‘THE OCEAN’

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Obsessed! Obsessed! Obsessed!

Saturday, Monday’s video for The Ocean (featuring Julia Spada) is absolutely amazing. It’s a hidden gem that defies gravity, space and time. Its beauty is electric and cool. Undoubtedly, it won’t be long until this Swedish band is on everyone’s radar.

Directed by Maceo Frost and Robin Günther, the video was shot at -10C by the shore of the island Öland in the middle of the Baltic Sea. If that’s not gorgeous enough, the video captures Saturday, Monday’s dramatic strings over minimal techno, paired with Spada’s poetry and haunting vocals, spinning a dark, sublime tale of lost love.

The Ocean is the title track of Saturday, Monday’s new four track EP that was released worldwide on February 27.

Stunning!

KATY TIZ: CHICK POP AT ITS FINEST

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

With one spin of the infectiously sugarcoated Heart, it’s apparent that Katy Tiz is a pop star that’s bound to bust through. Weaving together pop, hip hop and reggae elements, her forthcoming debut album is full of witty lyrics and punchy hooks.

It’s chick pop at its finest!

She’s also labelmates with longtime BTB favorite, Jessie J.

Hello! What’s not to love?

ON HEAVY ROTATION: THE SUMMER SET

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


And then suddenly it hit me, that moment when you realize you’re not half empty. That moment of all moments, like there is music in the night and we can dance the sun out of the sky. These are the nights where everything feels possible. Maybe one day we’ll fall short of the stories we tell. But tonight we’re more than just words on a page. We are here. We are different. And we are everlasting. We are Half Moon Kids. We are legendary.

NEW OBSESSION: ROYAL TEETH

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

From time to time, a new band will emerge from out of the digital swamp and produce something that doesn’t smell like dirty water. Enter Royal Teeth- a New Orleans-based indie pop band led by Nora Patterson and vocal partner Gary Larsen. This six-piece is vibrant and refreshing, with an ambient sound that basks in a youthful glow.

Out with their first EP, Act Naturally, the band recently appeared on Last Call With Carson Daly and are prepping a debut full-length on Dangerbird Records.

The song/video that originally caught my attention is the one you’re about to see, which was instant static cling for me; love at first sight!

Check out Wild, the A/J Jackson-directed clip below.

Rinse & repeat!

ARADIA

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Is it just me, or is this music magic?

This is Aradia. She’s phenomenal. A gypsy-cloud of atomic bombs, an electro lollipop.

Not only is she a master of audio, but she’s also the queen of style. Her music knows exactly what it wants to do. It’s precise and striking though surreal.

She sings the songs; she writes the material; she plays the guitar and the synth and programs the beat.

Am I noticing a trend here? More and more I’m running into musicians who not only write their own music, but perform every instrument! They redefine the concept of a one-woman show, meriting an excellent performance while lacking the complex (and sometimes tiresome) dynamic of a group.

Are one-person bands the new musical frontier?

If so, Aradia’s got a hand in electronic history. With existential lyrics and reverberating effects, she gives Wonderland a killer remix and dons Alice in a spacesuit. If you give her your hand, who knows where she’ll take you?

Her most recent release is from 2012, a short-and-sweet CD wrapped up in mystery. Possibilities: Dark is a black hole- it drags you into new worlds, musically and otherwise. I’d recommend Dream, a song which inspires you to do just that.

Click for a journey to the stars.

THE FAGGOTRY OF HIP HOP

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“It started as just common place; it was just part of the language. I think the overtones that it creates, is not what really exists. I don’t think if you are gay and you go to a hip hop club that you’ll get beat up for being gay. That’s not what is going to happen. I think words are the way that people express themselves—just like if you say ‘bitch’ on a rap record for a long time, you can rally thousands of women that will say that’s incorrect. You can’t focus on one single thing or bad aspect of what happens in hip hop and try to blanket it. That’s not the root of the problem. It exists, I think it’s how you portray it, and it’s how you use it. You gotta paint with a broad brush when you talk about homophobia, because it’s a lot of things that exist in hip hop that aren’t exactly right, but it’s part of the landscape.”

-Xzibit

Last year, the suicides of gay teens splattered across headlines in what felt like a bloodshed massacre brought on by violence and brutally ugly words. These words — spit like bullets — packed a deadly punch.

If there’s anyone who knows how to throw an uppercut with word venom, it’s a hot-mouthed rapper.

In the bling and booty-drenched culture that is hip hop, often these overly excessive and flashy accessories distract from some of the same brutally ugly words that still shoot from rappers’ tongues. In the game of hip hop, the mouth is a gun. The in-the-ear and out-the-other mentality clearly doesn’t hold true in regards to certain stars who many urban youth idolize.

If you read this blog regularly, you would know that I support hip hop. Besides the love given to underground/indie artists, I’ve been known to drool over Drake, and I also truly connect and relate to Eminem’s story and lyrics. My post on Eminem’s sobriety + sponsorship with Elton John went viral and landed on the front page of Reddit, leaving a few wondering how I (someone who falls under the LGBTQ umbrella) could support Eminem when his earlier work was covered in homophobic themes. My response has always been the same: I respect the art form, not always what lies underneath. Truth be told, I think music and the art of rhyme can be a cathartic strand of therapy for these men, even when that strand becomes tangled with homophobia.

The questions remain:

Should hip hop be held responsible? My answer is no.

Should the form be watered down? My answer is no.

Confused? Let me explain. As much as I know that these rappers have influenced a generation, the problem is much bigger than pointing fingers. I do not support hate, but I do support art and creative expression. I know from personal experience that creative outlets can help to shape, to understand, to relate, to retaliate, to vent, but most importantly it can be a vehicle, one that gets the poison out of the system in a way that isn’t entirely toxic. I can’t speak for all, but this is what I think (certain) rappers do. Granted, there are some rappers who seem clueless to their behavior and words, and for these individuals I think it’s more a statement of character versus the state of the hip hop art form.

A prime example would be 50 Cent, when he sparked controversy by tweeting (excuse his poor grammar): “If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol.”

Clearly, this isn’t a part of any artistic creation except ignorance and hatred, the exact opposite message that I hope bleeds through this post.

As a matter of fact, I would like to say that these rappers aren’t afraid or repulsed by us. No, not at all. After researching hints of homophobia in rap lyrics, I wouldn’t say they’re purely homophobic either. I would say they’re a bit obsessed with us. Besides the fact that many of these alpha males create rap about bitches and Bacardi, a style/mindset was also created for the masses by these same men, one that we all know all too well: The Baggy Pants Syndrome. If rappers were indeed afraid to taste the rainbow, I can’t imagine how one could tread the pavement with his boxers hanging out, exposing the top half of his basketball-shaped derriere.

All playfulness aside, it’s now a matter of expressing what lies outside the harmful language, what lies outside the three minute song that our generation has on repeat. Who are these arrogantly confident rappers when the lights go down?

I do not think the hip hop community (or any entertainer) for that matter is solely responsible for any child’s moral code (this is where parenting comes in), but I do think (in a perfect world) this should be a concern in their hearts. Yes, vent. Spill your guts. Ruffle feathers. That’s what artists do. But also, use your platform to never justify hate and to speak out against the victimized and abused. This is a genre formed on the freedom to be heard and the freedom to bring about change, and yet it’s sprouted legs that seem to be walking in a totally different direction. It’s glorifying drugs. It’s picking on queers. It’s belittling women.

And as much as I’m against censorship, I’m also an extremist for positive change. And if that requires a little editing, so be it. Because besides being lame, homophobic lyrics are played out and lack originality, thought, and spark.

Metaphorically speaking, perhaps it’s time for those in the rap game to pull their pants up.

[Related Post: Macklemore Breaks Ground]

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