Tuesday, May 29, 2007

bad scene, everyone's fault.

Want to know why I love music? Not because I search out a good hook the way a crack addict searches for his next fix. Not because I want to get into shows free. It's because of the people.

The people who are into the scene I am in are here for one reason - they are incredibly passionate about what they do. I have never met more driven people in my entire life. These people live, breathe, eat, and sleep music, whether they be onstage or behind the merch table or in the crowd. They love it so much that they will spend ridiculous amounts of time and money to be out there as much as they possibly can.

At least, most of the older portion of the crowd is like this. The younger segment, I'm not so sure about. The scene has become a place not to see, but to be seen. It's become a fashion forum. It's become more about just being there to say you were there, and to stand around sidekicking it or taking myspace pictures instead of listening to the bands.

It used to be that people went to shows because they loved the bands and they loved them hard. I'm not doubting that kids don't still feel connected to the music. But if you go to a Cartel show, the crowd is drastically different than the crowd at a Saves The Day show.

It used to be that if someone fell down in the pit, everyone would be trying to help him up immediately. Now, if you fall, then it's tought beans for you. Hope you don't die. Now there's excessive shoving and screaming just because kids think they're being cool for shoving or that they might get that cute bass player to sleep with them if they screech loud enough.

A lot of the passion I originally fell for is gone. It's still there if you look hard. Really, really hard.

I've met a ton of amazing people over the years through music. I know a lot of them feel this way too. Maybe we're just getting old for this scene, and will be talking about the "good old days" forever. But I love this too much to just turn my back on it and let the kids fend for themselves, with their hair in the faces and their jeans too tight. I'm holding out hope that they'll grow up a little and realize that no one cares what they look like or whether they met so and so, and that they will find music that strikes them harder than your average screamo band is capable of.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

5/27/07 recs.

Circa Survive.
This Tuesday, Circa is releasing their highly anticipated sophomore album, On Letting Go. It will be the first time frontman Anthony Green has release two albums with one band. From what I've heard, the new disc far surpasses their brilliant previous release, Juturna.

Hit The Lights.
If you're looking for a serious pop-punk fix, Hit The Lights is the band for you. Following in the footsteps of bands like New Found Glory and Cartel, HTL is all kinds of bubblegummy goodness.

The Rocket Summer.
Bryce Avary is The Rocket Summer, and he writes sunny powerpop anthems about friendship and love that are sure to warm up anyone who takes a listen. His new album, Do You Feel, is set to drop on July 17th.

Monday, May 21, 2007

let's take a trip far away into the open seas of my mind.

Artist: The Perfects
Album: The Perfects EP
Label: Unsigned
Release Date: 10.2.06

What if Trent Reznor decided to stop being political and listen to Duran Duran instead? We'd probably get music that sounded a lot like The Perfects. This duo from DC goes heavy on the synth, making dark dance music that children of the '80s can appreciate.

Beginning with the throbbing "Shipwrecked," their debut EP touches on all things key to synth rock - heavy basslines, monotone vocals, and big hooks from the keyboardist. The tracks are sufficiently diverse enough to keep the listener's interest, while still sticking to their style and formula very closely.

The band does a good job of making each song unique, with vocalist Ric Peters taking a different singing style and cadence on each track, and instrumentalist Tim Phillips laying down thick riffs and heavy hooks with the guitars and synth. It's very apparent that Phillips knows what he's doing when it comes to dance rock.

This band clearly would have done well alongside the glam and synth rockers of the '80s. Whether or not many people under the age of 25 will be able to swallow them unironically is different question.

01. Shipwrecked
02. Bittersweet *
03. Changes
04. Sheltered
05. Crystal Ball *

* - standout track

website | myspace

Sunday, May 20, 2007

5/20 recs

Indie rock with heavy emphasis on uncommon instruments (especially strings). When coupled with Tim Kasher's brilliant lyrics and unique voice, Cursive is a band you shouldn't miss out on.

Erin McKeown.
I often tend to write off lesbian folk music as all sounding exactly the same, until I heard McKeown's music. She's got her own spark she infuses her songs with, and every one of them is catchy enough to get your toes tapping.

Maroon 5.
It's been a few years since Maroon 5 last released new material, and their new disc, It Won't Be Soon Before Long, is sounding like a fairly decent follow-up.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I can't remember who she wasn't.

Artist: The Photo Atlas
Album: No, Not Me, Never
Label: Stolen Transmission/Morning After Records
Release Date: March 6, 2007

What comes to mind when you think of Stolen Transmission? Dance parties? Me too. Seeing that The Photo Atlas is signed to Stolen Transmission/Morning After Records, that is precisely what we are getting from their debut album - no surprises here.

With the angular guitars of "Electric Shock," the band shows us right off the bat how much they take from British rock. Alan Andrews sort of shouts rather than sings, again in keeping with the UK style.

The band keeps going with similar riffs and the same strained vocals for the next few tracks. Yes, the songs are all easy to dance to, especially at a Stolen Transmission party, where it's pretty much guaranteed that most attendees will be drunk enough to dance to anything.

The lyrics all center on the dance club lifestyle - wasted hipsters looking for someone to take home for the night.

Was it cold that night / when I saw you standing there / roll your eyes / give someone a chance, my darling / my darling / my darling / it d-d-d-doesn't stop

As for the production, the drums sound tinny, and often as if Meg White is making a guest appearance. It's also a rare treat to hear the bassline at all.

The group continues blasting through this style of song for the entirety of the album. It sounds as if these boys decided to form a dance rock band because they know the style is hot at the moment, but they didn't take the time to explore the possibilities of the genre. With better production, a wider range of influences, and perhaps some lessons, this band could make it big. But for now, they should stay within the confines of Stolen Transmission parties.

01. Electric Shock *
02. Merit
03. Light And Noise
04. The Walls Have Eyes
05. She Was A Matador
06. Red Orange Yellow *
07. Broadcasting Feedback
08. Little Tiny Explosions *
09. Cutback
10. Handshake Heart Attack

* - standout track

For fans of: Young Love, You Me And Everyone We Know, Permanent Me.

myspace | purevolume

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

there's a place for love, one in the same.

Giovanni Gianni of New Atlantic was kind enough to answer some questions about the recent good fortune his band has seen with the release of their new album, The Streets, The Sounds, And The Love. Read further to know what it's like to finally see hard work pay off.

PPJ: For starters, can you tell us your names and what you do in the band?

Gio: My name is Gio & I sing for the band. Chris & Matt play guitar, Dave plays bass, and Jake plays drums.

PPJ: How did you guys form New Atlantic?

Gio:I met Chris in College about 6 years ago & we began writing music together. We recorded a some demos, played a few acoustic shows for kicks & 3 years later we decided to piece together a full band. We met Dave through a friend & Matt on an online message board. We went through two other drummers before we met Jake. He was originally jus a fill-in for us on one of our tours.. We all got a long so well, Jake wanted to stick around permanently and he’s been with us since.

PPJ: You are from New Jersey, and there’s always a lot of talk about how great the music scene is there. What were your experiences like?

Gio: My experiences in the New Jersey scene were amazing. If it wasn’t for bands like Midtown & Saves The Day, I probably wouldn’t have fallen in love with music as much as I did, let alone had the motivation to start a band. Back in high school, there were so many venues & at least 3 shows a weekend for us to choose from. The scene started to die down a bit since I graduated. A lot of venues were getting shut down, but it seems the scene has picked up again over the past year or so. I hope we have an opportunity to be a “Midtown” or “Saves The Day” for some kids one day.

PPJ: For the last few years you toured heavily and released a couple of EPs. What was it like to be doing that all on your own with no label support?

Gio: There were some really rough times but it was also an amazing experience. You know how bands talk about “paying your dues?” Well, we could definitely school you a whole course on it. We traveled the country numerous times with barely anything, but we were persistent enough to make it through. Eventually, having our Demos (EP’s as some people like to call them) to sell made it a little more with it, because kids had something to take home with them. But all in all, the touring brought us to the attention of the music industry. I guess it’s the “old school” way of doing it, but by far the most rewarding.

PPJ: You recently signed with Eyeball Records, a move that surprised a lot of people. What made you choose them?

Gio: The People. That’s the easiest way to put it. We had a large number of record labels on our radar the past couple of years, but non of them stuck out to us the way the Eyeball staff did. Everyone who works there is amazing & had the same goals for us that we had envisioned for ourselves. We couldn’t have found a better fit.

PPJ: You’re currently on tour with Cartel, Cobra Starship, and Boys Like Girls. How is that going?

Gio: That tour was incredible. It was by far the biggest and the best tour we’ve ever been on & was actually on of our first tours as a signed band. It was truly whole different world with so many more kids knowing who we were. We weren’t used to kids crowd surfing, passing out, and even crying… it was pretty damn cool.

PPJ: Are you getting a good response from the crowds?

Gio: Haha, hell yeah! Like I said above... kids were going nuts on the Cartel tour and it was a huge confidence booster for us. I can’t wait for our full US tour this May/June with The Audition... Especially now that we have a record out.

PPJ: Tell us about what went into writing the songs on The Streets, The Sounds, And The Love.

Gio: This record was the product of writing close to 30 songs. We were writing for over a month & weren’t happy with a single song we were coming up with. Eventually, we were very short on time & ended up having to spend 12 hour days cramped up in Jake’s basement. The majority of the record was written in about 3 weeks time. We demoed 20 new songs before heading into preproduction.

PPJ: Why did you choose to include “Late Night Television” on the new album, and not some of your other older songs as well?

Gio: Late Night TV almost didn’t make the record either. After we finished recording the record, we were so happy with our newer songs that we decided to use it as a b-side. Eyeball later called us and felt very strongly otherwise & suggested we included it. At that time, Late Night TV was already a year old song for us & we were ready to move on. But I’m really glad we decided otherwise and included it on the record.

PPJ: A lot of your songs seem very personal. Are any of them based on particular people, or just characters?

Gio: They are definitely personal songs...The majority of them are based on people & different experiences we’ve had in our lives. Some are about love, some about lust, others are about tragedy, growing up, and being on the road.

PPJ: How does it feel to be getting so much buzz and attention online for the release of this new album?

Gio: It’s an incredible feeling after working so hard on our own for 2 1/2 years. It’s great to have numerous people talking about & helping promote our debut..

PPJ: Are you planning on doing a headlining tour in support of the new album?

Gio: It’s not currently in our plans, but if so, it would most likely happen in early of next year. We’re hoping to support for a while longer before we consider any headlining tours.

PPJ: What do you hope to see happen with New Atlantic in the next five years?

Gio: To be quite honest, I’d like to see us become one of the biggest bands in the world. We have high hopes & have worked so hard since day one. Now, we’re relying on a lot of luck & hope things fall into place.

PPJ: Lastly, can you tell us three bands you think we should be listening to?

Gio: MUSE. I just saw them at Bamboozle and the put on one of the best live shows I have ever seen. Also, check out Search/Rescue & Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground...They are two bands formed of former Gatsby’s American Dream & Acceptance members & both of them are awesome.

Thanks again to Gio for taking the time to answer these, and also thanks to Marc Debiak at Eyeball Records for making sure things worked out. You can pick up New Atlantic's album in stores now, and you can catch them on tour with The Audition, My American Heart, Monty Are I, and The Graduate now.


Monday, May 14, 2007

there's a clamor in your whispering tonight.

I finally got the chance to send a few questions over to Stephen Christian, frontman of rock powerhouse Anberlin. Read on to see what he thinks about labels, longevity, and saving the world.

PPJ: How did Anberlin get started?

Stephen: Anberlin formed out of the ashes of several local bands in the area, we were not necessarily the "super group' but we were just 5 guys that wanted to pursue music with all our heart. It's been an incredible journey with a lot of down and ups... but clearly more ups than downs!

PPJ: You've turned down offers from major labels, instead choosing to stay on Tooth and Nail. Why is that?

Stephen: Actually we have not made the decision to stay with Tooth and Nail or not. We LOVE tooth but are still toying with whether to move on. Tooth has loyalty, friendship, passion, and grass roots marketing. Majors have drive, radio play, can push a video to the mass, and maybe I can move out of my parents house.

PPJ: Have you seen any changes in your fan base through the years?

Stephen: Yes. We actually have a fan base that is something we have not had in prior years. It was such a boost of confidence in them by the mass amount of support that we got online, in sales, and attendance to our recent headlining tour. We could NOT be more happy and thankful to our friends and fans.

PPJ: How will you try and stay relevant to your audience over time?

Stephen: By making sure that we never ever take any fan for granted, we want to stay as close to the ground as we possibly can. We are trying to make sure we do youtube channel videos, tour journals, meet and greets, tours, etc. as we can so that they know that they are appreciated. We are not naive that they (the fans) put us here, buying the CD and coming out to the shows has been SUCH a vote.

We are going to try to stay relevant by creating music that they can relate to, that continues the anberlin sound, and keeps grounded in who we are and avoid AT ALL COSTS a big head about what the fans have helped us accomplish.

PPJ: Many people who see Anberlin live comment on how energetic your show is. How do you keep up that energy throughout a tour?

Stephen: Cocaine. Ha. Kidding. We keep the energy a couple different ways; first off we realize that being on stage is a privilege, not a right. Secondly we are determined to put on the show that we ourselves would want to attend, that puts pressure on us each night to perform to the best of our ability. Finally, we keep in perspective as to where we are and not take it for granted. For instance if you watch Christian and I during a set usually at one point in the set we will look at each other and either hold up a five with one hand and an O with the other, or will just mouth "50" to each other. We do this because one time I was remarking how one day when were 50 years old we will WISH we could have just one more opportunity to play any one of these shows. So we give it everything we have each and every show.

PPJ: Tell us a little about the time you spent recording Cities. Did you go about it differently than you had on your previous albums?

Stephen: The time spent in Seattle had its mix of emotions: anger, frustration, excitement, energy, tense, relaxed, exhilarated, anticipative, aggravated, irritated, discouraged, nervous, etc. but I believe it is all those chemicals combined that make any album. If there is no friction than there is no balance. Every person in the band envisions the album how they want it, then the producer envisions it another way... so when 6 people are going in different directions some of the people have to give. Anberlin is not a solo endeavor, it is a team effort, and we are all in this together or not at all.

PPJ: How has the reaction to Cities been, among both fans and critics?

Stephen: Honestly even though Cities walked away with rather positive reviews I don't care at all what critics say, they don't matter to me at all, what matters to me is what the fans think. I read the reviews on iTunes because I know that they are fans, I care 423423y666 times more what those say than New York Times or USA today.

PPJ: You have a side project, Anchor & Braille. Can we expect to see anything more happening with A&B other than the recent vinyl release?

Stephen: YES! Aaron Marsh and I (producer) are working frantically on the project, our bands Copeland and Anberlin are touring together in Asia and Australia, so we are planning on bringing some mic's and recording some over there. I could NOT be happier on how the songs are turning out so far.

PPJ: You have traveled to places like Haiti and India to aid people there. What has impacted you most about those trips?

Stephen: Selfishly the biggest impact on the trips that I have taken is the clear sign that I am self-centered and care way too much for comforts and material possessions. I also realize that we are all the same, regardless of region or skin color humans want the same things out of life. Clothes, food, a roof; hope, love, and faith. I plan on doing more as well; faceless (facelessinternational.com) is an organization I helped start dedicated to impacting the world for the better. We are in the throws of planning a trip to Nairobi, Kenya this winter break.

PPJ: How did you get involved with To Write Love On Her Arms?

Stephen: I have always been into anyone who is for change for the betterment of humanity as a whole. Whether it is habitat for humanity or world vision Anberlin has always tried to be on the forefront of bands in the scene to make a difference. When Jaime (twloha pres.) told me about his vision and his org. it was clear that Anberlin was going to get involved. In India we talked for several hours and came back determined to bring him out on the road with us.

PPJ: And finally, what advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in the world but don't know where to start?

Stephen: Dosomething.org is a great place to begin your search. You just type in your zip code and it gives you a list of opportunities in your area. If you like feeding into people's lives than try big brother big sister. If you like to build try habitat.org. If you are creative start your own org to help people, regardless of whether its your time or your money we ALL must "become the change you wish to see in the world". (Ghandi)

Thanks again to Stephen for answering these questions, and to Angela and Libby at MSO PR for setting things up. Anberlin's new album, Cities, is on sale now, and you'll be able to catch the band on Warped Tour this summer.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

now that you're home, won't you rescue me?

New Sunday recommendations!

Manchester Orchestra.
I will straight up admit that I really disliked this band at first. I didn't understand the intense hype around them. It wasn't until I saw them with Brand New a second time that I understood them. I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child is quickly becoming a new favorite.

The Format.
Dog Problems is an indiepop masterpiece. It's light and catchy with extraordinarily intelligent lyrics.

Kaddisfly have recently released their second LP, Set Sail The Prairie. Their progressive post-hardcore is truly inventive and unlike most other music out there today.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

hush now. ready, dance.

Artist: The Drugstore Cowboys
Album: Chapter 3006 Of Dance Moves For The Apocalypse: If The Octomaiden Was A Diabetic Joykill Addict
Label: Lujo Records
Release Date: October 10, 2006

Imagine what would happen if you took parts of various musical genres and put them in a blender. A scoop of hardcore, an ounce of electronica, and a dash of hip-hop. Dump them all in there, leave the top off, hit puree, and watch it explode everywhere. Now you know what it's like to experience The Drugstore Cowboys.

This foursome from Washington, D.C., have created an intense, unique sound that blasts out of your speakers in every direction. There are erratic tempo shifts, staccato singing, and Blood Brothers-esque screams mashed with electronic programming, double-bass drums, and a few samples thrown in for good measure. It's a trainwreck of sounds, and it's stellar.

Beginning slowly with "Horror Flick, Scene 1: Introduction To Chaos," the track builds and builds until launching into "These Clouds Will Never Catch Us," which includes an audio clip of a woman talking about bodies falling from the World Trade Center. This line between dance party and deep emotion is what the Cowboys are so good at straddling.

Even in their more ballad-like tracks, such as "The Elegance Of The Dance," the Cowboys maintain that delicate balance of dance and dark. These are the kinds of songs you know are meant to be seen in dingy basements and VFW halls across the nation; meant to blow the mind of one audience member at a time.

The Cowboys clearly love to see just how far they can push their songs. One can imagine them hanging out at home, deciding how many of them should be screaming here, or where they should put that new keyboard bit they came up with. The lyrics focus on the deterioration of society and often a disgust for the world - themes that fit well with the spasmodic instrumentals. The songs feel organic and complete, yet at the same time one can tell the band must be itching to add more layers to them all. The band has not set any boundaries or restrictions on themselves, and that is what is going to make them so interesting to watch over the next few years.

01. Horror Flick Scene 1: Introduction To Chaos
02. These Clouds Will Never Catch Us
03. Penguin Tuxes At The Disco Bar *
04. Elegance Of The Dance
05. Mind Of A Salesman
06. Eulogy To A Friendly Foe *
07. Horror Flick Scene 2: Interlude Of A Masked Man
08. Coyote Confessions
09. Only Fire Drives Away The Rats!
10. Pornographic Fruitstands *
11. Murderpiece Composit
12. Evil 247

* - standout track

For fans of: The Blood Brothers, Underoath, The Faint.

myspace | purevolume

Monday, May 7, 2007

I feel it gripping me from every side.

Artist: Washington Lane
Album: So Hot EP
Label: Unsigned

So you've decided that you secretly like the powerpop of bands like Permanent Me or The Higher? Then it's time for you to make a little room in your heart for Washington Lane.

This little band from Charlotte, North Carolina, is following in the footsteps of those bands, and doing so very well. Lead singer Thomas Harling has a voice that is made for belting out choruses packed with whoa-o's and yeah-ah's, as are displayed on the EP's opening track, "Last Week." The song is perfect for kids who want to hit the dancefloor.

The title track, "So Hot," brings a slinkier feel to the EP, sure to appeal to those who are loving the dance rock trend that's taking over music at the moment.

I often tend to assume that dance rock lacks in the lyrics department, but Washington Lane proves me wrong here. While the subject matter focuses on girls and only girls, the songs tell complete stories in the span of two and a half minutes each. The only place the lyrics get a bit too cheesy is with the knight in shining armor metaphor on "Fairytale," but the lyrics on the other songs make up for that. On the slow "Alone Tonight," Harling croons,

Where are you? / I see you staring down / I'm staring from the ground / I tripped and fell / is this farewell? / I'll say goodbye / I'll say goodbye and walk away

"17 Missed Calls" is the weakest track on the EP, but it's still worthy of a shake of the hips. If you're not already a fan of dance rock, this band won't convert you, but if you're already a follower, you're sure to love Washington Lane as well.

01. Last Week *
02. So Hot *
03. Fairytale
04. Alone Tonight
05. 17 Missed Calls

* - standout tracks

For fans of: Permanent Me, The Higher, All Time Low.

myspace | purevolume

Sunday, May 6, 2007


This week, I'm going to rec you some rap & hip hop. Don't discount this post by saying you hate rap - that's not true. These artists are not the typical crunk crap that's all over the radio. They are very talented and intelligent and have great songs. Essentially, here's a starter kit for people who claim to hate rap.

Thanks to Patrick for introducing me to this guy. He's now on Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music label, but is also notable for many collaborations with A Tribe Called Quest. He's got great flow and is just all around an enjoyable listen.

Talib Kweli.
Kweli began his career as part of the duo Black Star with Mos Def. Now solo, Kweli has even played stints on Warped Tour, showing that he can appeal to a wide variety of audiences.

Brite One.
Brite One is the rapping moniker of Daryl Palumbo, singer for Glassjaw, Head Automatica, and a few other projects. Palumbo is actually a very good rapper. There aren't a lot of tracks out there, but what is there can be downloaded at the page linked below.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

live a life less ordinary.

Last night Carbon Leaf and Farm Vegas played Mayfest at Hollins University. I don't have time to write a review at the moment, but if you click on the image below you can see a gallery of the photos I took.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

and there I was, all misty eyed

Artist: The Spill Canvas
Album:Denial Feels So Good EP
Label: Sire Records
Release Date: May 1, 2007

This EP from South Dakota's The Spill Canvas is meant to serve as a way to hold over hungry fans before the release of another full length this summer. This EP does exactly that, and at the same time whets your appetite for more.

The EP opens with Tom Lord-Alge's remix of "Staplegunned," originally from One Fell Swoop. Admittedly, it's not a drastic change from the original - just a few more layers of guitars and some extra noodling toward the end of the song. However, these minor changes make the song rock just a little harder than it does in its original mix.

There are two covers on the EP - Fleetwood Mac's "Gold Dust Woman," and Donovan's "Catch The Wind." With both songs, the band displays their ability to make the song their own while still maintaining the original vibes of the songs. There's even incorporation of a harmonica in "Catch The Wind." "Gold Dust Woman" in particular translates very well into a Spill Canvas song.

The two new songs, "To Live Without It" and "Appreciation" show great promis for the upcoming LP. "To Live Without It" moves along faster than anything from the previous LPs, with the exception of "Natalie Marie And 1cc." Nick Thomas gives the lyrics a different cadence than anything he's done before, which leads one to hope there will be a wider variety of song styles on the new CD.

"Appreciation" follows the vein of songs like "Aim, Snap, Fall" with its slow acoustic buildup. It's nice to know that the band has not completely abandoned their established sound.

In short, Denial Feels So Good shows us that The Spill Canvas are ready to go with new material that may top anything they've done previously. If the rest of the new songs sound like the ones included here, this album should be a real treat to hear.

01. Staplegunned (Remix) *
02. Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover) *
03. To Live Without It
04. Appreciation And The Bomb
05. Catch The Wind (Donovan cover)

* - standout track

For fans of: Armor For Sleep, Anberlin, Mae

website | myspace | purevolume