Philadelphia’s Model Prisoner recently released their politically-fueled debut EP Piss Universe, a mélange of metal, hardcore, and hip hop. In addition, Metal Injection unveiled the music video for their title track – a song about our society being a hot mess like a f*cked up beauty pageant where fake images and lies prevail, corruption rules, and it’s all just a game about money. Also, Model Prisoner’s bloodline includes influential bands such as Nowhere Roads, Swarm of Arrows, and Label the Traitor. Watch the “Piss Universe” video here.
Piss Universe was engineered, mixed, and mastered by rapidly rising producer Wyatt Oberholzer (Year of the Knife, No Option, Fixation, Struck Nerve) at The Knife Lair in Philadelphia, PA. Additional production and beats were provided by Jack Mickelson. The duo consisting of Keats Rickard and Jay “Lanky” Mallory tracked with Oberholzer in staggered sessions across a few months during quarantine. Influenced by the current state of our country, the result is explosive music with violent vocals and angry lyrics.
Their debut EP Piss Universe was released on August 28, 2020 and is available everywhere for streaming and download via Bandcamp with a vinyl release planned for the fall.
Milwaukee-based art-pop artist Valerie Lighthart is debuting a new self-directed music video for her latest single “Love & Money,” which includes a featured spot from queer Latinx pop artist Solana. The video was directed by Lighthart herself and also features a cameo by drag-queen Melee Mcqueen.
The “Love & Money” official music video, which premiered yesterday on Black Book, is now streaming here:
“Love & Money” is a pop-romp created to celebrate femininity and reclaim the ideals women and femme-identifying folks are vilified for -vanity, yearning for love, and self-interest. Valerie has created a safe space wherein femmes could express those traits euphorically, harkening back to the circles that witches danced around naked in the early American wilderness. Worshiping evil ideals, loving themselves wildly, and exuding power.
“I yearned to create a gilded realm to escape inside. I sought and found safe spaces to unpack the difficult feelings I had about womanhood, femininity, sexuality, and autonomy. As a young teenager, a dance class I took with my older sister helped me begin to unravel the complicated web of internalized misogyny I learned. It taught me to connect to my body in a new way and learn to embrace my thoughts and desires in a group of supportive femmes. We would spin in circles, laughing and talking. We showered love on each other, and the tone of acceptance, body positivity, and optimism was freeing. Through this joyful space, I grew the stability of identity to unpack my ideas on femininity, and analyze the shame that had it in a stranglehold. Women and femmes don’t have a monopoly on shame, but I felt empowered to think about what I knew best: feminine performance in relation to a hyper-sexed and shame-based culture,” says Valerie.
Having designed the set and coordinated the costumes to harken back to the restrictive and debauched 18th century, Valerie’s music video opens up the stage to include femme folks who’s artistic flair, drive, force, and ownership of their autonomy she deeply admires.
“Whilst celebrating this ambition in “Love & Money“, I also explore why these materialistic and capitalist desires are even important, by creating this over-the-top alter-ego. I think it’s fun to ask questions from a first-person perspective, and through this song, I was able to do a bit of soul searching and exploration of the femme experience in our society, the roles we’re encouraged to assume, and the spectrum of desires and goals we have and why we have them. Ultimately this project is about shining light on multi-dimensionality as an intrinsic part of femme nature,“ says Solana.
About Valerie Lighthart:
“Surging eccentrically out of Milwaukee, WI is the glorious curiosity that goes by the name of Valerie Lighthart. At just 22 years of age, the cultural polymath has already dabbled in filmmaking, poetry, acting, modeling– and of course… her true raison d’être, making music. But with her new single, it might be said that she has also crossed over into feminist philosophy.” – Black Book
Imbibed with the different flavors of visual and sonic characterization, Valerie Lighthart is a pop songstress that tempers fun melodies with a sense of something a few shades darker -punctuations of melancholy and unique stories centered around folklore, empowerment, travel, or personal trials. In some tracks, she embraces her personal identity and in some she subverts it altogether, creating an entirely new character in which to enact her ideas. Yearning to create a larger-than-life feeling of mythology within her new work, she is diving fully into chamber pop-inspired dance songs and floating through soundscapes of ambient and longing folk croons.
“Love & Money” is the introduction to the “By Moonlight” series, a careful cultivation of the opposing worlds of pop and folk to tell a story about the historical positionings of women. Different elements held within the trio of EPs intend to empower, awaken, question, and introspect. Her vehicle is the shining moon, eternal in her orbit, the fluttering tulle skirts of femme goddesses shaking the leaves from the trees, the monsters braying past the moonbeams in the darkness, and the murky waters of outcry and confusion. The lyrics are feminist, subversive, analytical, romantic, and lofty. The “By Moonlight” series is a trio of EPs, each in a different sub-genre, intended to analyze a different facet of femme existence: empowerment, transformation, performativism, sexuality, oppression, and rage
The project, set to release in installments over the next year, is a collaboration with N43 Records, a Midwest-based independent label empowering diverse voices.
TORONTO– The OBGMs, the Canadian trio who “spit fire” (Punk News) and “boast classic punk vibes with contemporary garage rock” (Alternative Press), have set an Oct. 30 release date for The Ends(Black Box Music).
“This album is about death, wanting to die, and fighting for something to live for — it’s the end of all things. I feel this is the one of the most important cross-genre albums this century,” says the always quotable singer/guitar player Densil McFarlane. “We are Nirvana, we are The Beatles, and The Stones. We are really changing the dimensions of which the game is played like the Steph Curry of this rock shit. We all have feelings of doubt, uncertainty, and I used to live there. I’m trying not to die there. If I’m going out, I’m going out shooting.”
News of the album’s release arrives as the band debut a new single from the 10-song collection, sharing a video for the cathartically combative single “Fight Song”. Watch here.
McFarlane says of the motivation behind the track: “You ever sitting in your 9-5 and someone talking reckless and you really want to punch them in their head top? You ever get that passive aggressive email from that disrespectful person and you want to walk to their cubicle and tell them about their mom? I wrote this song so I wouldn’t have to hold my tongue. We want the smoke. All of it. You don’t like us, fight me, or get the hell out of the way. You can’t stop us, this is how we die.”
The OBGMs (that’s The oOoh Baby Gimme Mores) — rounded out by drummer Colanthony Humphrey and bass player Joseph Brosnan — aren’t your typical rock band. “This is a black-fronted punk band, and that’s really important,”McFarlane says. “Rock n’ roll is mostly white suburban kids—that’s what gets promoted. But we are Black and we out here. I was inspired to make rock music when I saw a Black guy on stage, and if someone sees that in us, I hope it will inspire a new generation to go after this.”
The Ends was produced by GRAMMY and Juno award winning Dave Schiffman (Rage Against The Machine/The Bronx/Pup) and recorded at Dream House Studios (Toronto). Album pre-orders, which include a 180g red/yellow splatter vinyl variant, are available now here.
“You can love us or hate us,” says McFarlane. “I’m aiming for that. We’d prefer the love — we’re full of love — but I’d rather you hate me than feel indifference.”
“Densil McFarlane delivers his self-deprecating lyrics with the sneer and bulldozing attitude of Keith Morris-era Black Flag, but his riffing and hooks could give even the Billie Joe Armstrongs of the world a run for their money. Keep these guys on your radar for sure.” – Guitar World
“The OBGMs barrel through hook-laden, guitar forward, tracks reminiscent of the early aughts garage rock revival. Underpinning that sound is feverish punk energy coupled with shout sing vocals. It’s something like The Hives by way of The Germs. Or the Strokes covering The Stooges.” – Vice
It’s August 7th, 2019 at 11:45 AM, and I’m on lunch break at the high school where I teach in Arizona’s East Valley. The group of baseball players I have coached the past three years, and who eat in my room every day, file in one by one, and I glean bits and pieces of their in-progress conversations. As I get out my lunch and begin eating, I check Twitter, a mindless habit that almost always brings bad news. At the top of the trending topics, I see David Berman is trending.
Though it’s been less than a month since Berman’s reemergence after a ten-plus year absence from music with the release of his new band Purple Mountains’ debut self-titled record, I know he’s not trending because of the album. My first thought was of the lyrics to “Death of an Heir of Sorrows,” from his previous band Silver Jews’ album Bright Flight: “When I was summoned to the phone, I knew in my heart that you had died alone.” Replace “… was summoned to the phone” with “… saw you trending on Twitter.” I knew I didn’t need to click on his name to find out the awful truth. I clicked anyway. Checking Twitter is a mindless habit that almost always brings bad news. Confirming my immediate suspicion crushes me. I feel an emptiness that carries through lunch and the final two classes I have to teach: Film Studies and AP Research.
The first time I had heard of David Berman came, like all great moments of musical awakenings, via an off-hand recommendation from a record store clerk in 1998 at Kansas City’s legendary Recycled Sounds. Like I had done dating back to when I was 13 years old, I asked for a recommendation and then tried to appear cool and nonchalant while I rattled off a list of bands I liked. “You know, I like Superchunk and Pavement, Guided by Voices, Yo La Tengo; just cool indie rock stuff.” When he asked if I liked Silver Jews, I defaulted to the stance of someone out of the loop who didn’t want to appear out of the loop and claimed to have heard of them but just hadn’t checked them out yet. I asked where I should start, desperately hoping they had at least a couple of albums. They had three, an EP, and a few 7’’s, so I was safe.
He handed me the just-released American Water, and I bought it without question because record store clerks were the gatekeepers of cool to me at that age. I will forever owe that guy a debt of gratitude for his recommendation that day.
Whenever I hear a new song or album, I judge it on the existence of a firework moment, which is to say the part of a song where it seemingly takes off into the stratosphere and explodes in a moment of glory. This could be in a rocking style, like the vocal interchange between David Bowie and Freddie Mercury on “Under Pressure”, or in a more subtle, emotional way, like how Elliott Smith could write a song where the vocals never rose above a whisper but it was emotionally gut-wrenching. What I didn’t count on, or at least never would have expected, was the cleverness of the lyrics.
Berman, a poet with an MFA from UMASS, was a brilliant lyricist on a level few achieve. From the opening line of “Random Rules”, the first track, I knew that this album and this band were special. “In 1984, I was hospitalized for approaching perfection” was a lyric unlike anything that I’d ever heard before. I obsessed over the lyrics, listening to them and writing them down in my college notebooks. Had I not been a year removed from high school, every yearbook I signed would have been a randomly selected lyric, like “We’ve been raised on replicas of fake and winding roads/And day after day up on this beautiful stage/We’ve been playing tambourine for minimum wage/But we are real, I know we are real,” followed by “anyway, take care” and my signature.
I searched for every release like water in a desert. There was a need in my heart for it. During every low time, Berman’s music gave me comfort and hope. During my deepest battles with depression and anxiety when I felt no hope, I’d sooner play his albums on repeat late at night than take a single pill my doctor prescribed. “When I go downtown, I always wear a corduroy suit because it’s made of a hundred gutters the rain can run right through.”
I wanted desperately to see them live, but Berman had always resisted touring or even one-off live performances. In that now quaint time of message boards, rumors ran rampant as to the reasons, running the baseless rumor gamut from acute anxiety to drug addiction being the culprit. When they suddenly announced the first ever Jews tour to coincide with the 2005 release of Tanglewood Numbers, the band’s fifth album, and that they would be playing in St. Louis (a short drive from where I worked and wallowed) I snatched up tickets for me and my friend Tim, the other Silver Jews fan I knew.
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The show took place in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and music venue owned by Chuck Berry. The Duck Room was nothing more than the restaurant’s basement with a stage built along one wall, but I would have watched the show if it was in an alley during a thunderstorm. Standing twenty feet from the stage with Tim, just after opener Jennifer O’Connor left the stage, Tim nudged me and pointed to the merch table by the door where David Berman stood carrying a duffel bag, wearing faded jeans, a flannel shirt, and a trucker hat. He started cutting across the crowd who seemed either oblivious out of a hip glibness or because he drew no attention to himself, just moving forward with an even pace. As he drew near, I jumped at a chance I’d wanted to have since I first put on American Water seven years before.
When I made eye contact, he stopped and set down his duffel bag. “Hi,” I stammered, “I just want to thank you for this tour and including St. Louis. I’ve wanted to see you live for so long.” He smiled at me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “Thank you for coming tonight. I’m looking forward to being up there tonight.” He gave my shoulder a quick squeeze, smiled again, picked up his bag, and continued on his way, going through a door to the right of the stage.
The show that night was as great as I’d hoped it would be. At 26, I didn’t own a cell phone, so no pictures exist. I borrowed a matchbook and a pen from the bar and wrote down the set list on the inside cover in the tiniest handwriting I could muster, so I could include all 22 songs. As we left, I bought every shirt they had (a reasonably priced $15, imagine that) and a vinyl copy of Tanglewood Numbers, and I buzzed about the show all the way home. I later wrote him a letter and sent it and the record I’d bought at the show to the P.O. Box address that was always in the liner notes of his albums. A couple of weeks later, Berman returned the record, which he had drawn on the cover and inscribed: “The good friend Ryan. I wish you 34 years of good luck. Love, DCB.” Also in the package was a copy of his poetry book, Actual Air, inscribed and signed, given to me unsolicited.
Two months after the show, I turned 27 and got a MySpace account and made my first post “In 27 years, I drank 50,000 beers, and they just wash against me, like the sea into a pier,” a lyric from the Silver Jews’ “Trains Across the Sea.” I did it partly as a joke and partly because stupid rock and roll lore taught me 27 was a cryptic and mysterious age. But for me, it was just 27 and nothing more. Still, I thought, if I burned out hard and fast in the coming 365 days, it would make a bitchin’ epitaph.
Fast forward three years to June 13th, 2008: my 30th birthday. I’m up early to drive ninety miles from the college town where I live to the nondescript small town where I grew up, to see family before returning home to celebrate with friends. I get a text from my boss telling me to come by the record store. When I get there, he hands me two copies of the new Silver Jews album Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea; one on CD and on vinyl. They’re presents for my birthday, gifted to me four days before its formal release date (sorry Drag City Records).
I drive back to the house I’m living in rent-free in the basement, through a thick summer rain that threatens to eliminate visibility altogether. At the house, I leave the CD in the car, planning to listen to it on my drive home, and take the vinyl inside. I have to finish packing and then need to leave. As I reach the bottom of the stairs, I step into knee-high water; the result of a floor drain in the basement backing up while I was gone. I see possessions of mine float by me: books, records, and moves are ruined, and my cat Miss Kitty is perched on a shelf terrified. Also among the destroyed items was a small box that contained among other things, the letter from Berman thanking me for my kind words in a letter I’d sent him that came with a signed copy of his poetry book Actual Air.
I won’t be going home, but would instead spend my 30th birthday trying to salvage my mostly-destroyed possessions, as I listen to the new album on repeat, trying to hold it together, even though I feel like my life is falling apart. The album would turn out to be their last, but it somehow manages to be their most hopeful. It’s that hope that keeps me from crying and wallowing in self-pity. I write Berman a letter telling him the story of the flood and my misery and thanking him for his music saving me.
Two weeks later, I received a large manila envelope with my name and address written on the front in the scrawl that I’d come to recognize from the liner notes of Silver Jews albums. Inside is a note from Berman expressing that he was sorry to hear of my birthday misfortune.
The envelope was filled with a veritable treasure trove of random items: drawings by him, a slip of notebook paper with some chord changes and snippets of lyrics to an unfinished song, a flyer for a shot written in Hebrew from the band’s tour of Israel, a photocopy of a love letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mary Todd, and a stanza pulled from a poem by William Blake that appeared to be typed on a typewriter. It read:
“It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughterhouse moan;
To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast
To hear sounds of love in the thunderstorm that destroys our enemies’ house;
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field and the sickness that cuts off his children
While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door and our children bring fruits and flowers
Then the groan and the dolour are quite forgotten and the slave grinding at the mill
And the captive in chains and the poor in the prison and the soldier in the field
When the shatter’d bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead
It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity:
Thus could I sing and thus rejoice: but it is not so with me.”
Months later, still reeling and lost, I decide to get out of town and visit my sister. I plan the trip to coincide with the Silver Jews 100th show at The Metro, just blocks from Wrigley Field. My sister and I stand just a few feet from the stage. The set that night spanned every album and featured guest appearances from Dan Koretzky of Drag City Records and Berman’s college friend Bob Nastanovich, the original Silver Jews drummer and legendary Pavement hype man. It eclipsed the St. Louis shows and is still one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. At the close of the show, he retrieved the setlist that was written on a styrofoam plate from his suit jacket and attempted to throw it like a frisbee out into the crowd. Instead of flying out, though, it shot straight up into the air and came back down. I launched my 6’4” frame into the air and snagged it one-handed and pulled it back down with me like an NBA center snagging a defensive rebound on a would-be game-tying final second shot that secures a championship. It’s in a frame above my records to this day, and people who see it and ask, “why do you have a styrofoam plate in a frame?” are in for a longer answer than they anticipated.
It was also around this time when Berman announced the end of the Silver Jews. In a post to the Drag City Records message board, he detailed a lengthy struggle with his father, Richard Berman, a Washington lobbyist for everything that is horrible in the world. “Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret,” Berman wrote on the Silver Jews messageboard. “Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction: My father.” He said he wanted to dedicate his life to undoing all the damage his father had caused. What followed his announcement, however, was silence.
Nearly a year and a half later and a year after his announcement of the end of his band, I returned home exhausted from student teaching and found a package in the mail, written in his now familiar handwriting. It included his then-new art book The Portable February. I’d moved twice in the time since he had my address but somehow he got the book to me. As shocked as I was at his generosity and that he had thought of me a year and a half after the fact, I was more shocked by what was in the book: a note to me that read “Hang in there, Ryan. I am struggling too. Your friend, DCB.”
Reading this note from someone I felt a kinship with but did not actually know made all the stress in my life up to that point come to a head. I was denying how much I was struggling working 40 hours as a student teacher, 35 hours at a large-box store so I would have insurance, and 20 hours at the record store just to have a place where I loved to be. Somehow, all this time later, he knew the perfect time to send me a gift. The book and note still sit together on my shelf, and from time to time, I still get out the note and read it as a reminder to hang in there through the tough times.
Three years into his self-imposed music exile, his label Drag City Records issued the Early Times compilation that collected his early releases, including the Dime Map of the Reef 7” and the Arizona Record EP. He started a blog called Menthol Mountains, which included a lot of Rabbinic commentary on Judaism. His final post came just days before his death, when he shared “The Lost Princess” parable by Nachman of Breslov, about a princess who is exiled following an angry slip of the tongue by her father, and the viceroy who is sent to find her and bring her home. I don’t know if there was any special significance to it, with regards to what would happen 15 days later.
The Purple Mountains’ eponymous album was released on July 12th. The album shows that Berman hadn’t lost a step as a songwriter. It stood alongside the great Silver Jews albums and did not suffer from feeling like a pale imitation of previous, better work. No, this was an incredible album, punctuated by obvious heartbreak. Multiple songs alluded to the ending of his marriage (“All My Happiness is Gone,” “Darkness and Cold,” and “She’s Making Friends, I’m Turning Stranger”), a song acknowledging his isolation in life (“Maybe I’m The Only One For Me”) and most heartbreakingly, a song grieving the passing of his mother (“I Loved Being My Mother’s Song”). The album was beautiful but still worrisome, as the lyrics seemed to check every box of someone who was headed to a very dark place.
Reading interviews with him prior to his death and reading about his life leading up to his death, pieces of the puzzle made sense. Knowing his story – that he had been separated from his wife for a while – one can’t hear the songs on Purple Mountains’ self-titled album and not feel his pain. For an outsider like me, regardless of my level of fandom, I saw that he was not with his wife and still reeling from his mother’s passing, losing the two most central figures in his life and no doubt feeling isolated from the world. When you’re struggling with mental health, isolation is the inescapable weight. It doesn’t have to be isolated from people, as he had friends and supporters all around him. To feel true isolation is to feel isolated regardless of your surroundings; to feel alone in a crowded room. In reading what would turn out to be his final interviews, I saw nothing but red flags. As someone who had struggled with many of the same issues, every alert in my brain went up. You never consider that you’ll someday worry about your heroes.
All of this brings us back to August 7th at 11:45 AM and his name trending on Twitter, not in celebration of his talent, but in mourning of his passing. I was not alone in my deep love of him and his music. My experiences with him, though as deeply personal as they are cherished and loved, were not unique, as reading tweets in the days, weeks, and months after his passing showed that his kindness, generosity, and empathy for those who held his music dear was vast. A simple note in response to a letter or a small gift of a piece of Silver Jews memorabilia was the norm. Fans shared memories or just their favorite lyrics, and even in his passing and the grief felt by his friends, family, and fans worldwide, he drew us all close together one more time. Like a sing-along of “Black and Brown Blues” or “Random Rules” on one of the two Silver Jews tours, strangers were united in these moments of both loss and celebration of his life and career. In the end, his talent and his pain seemed forever entwined, with the x-axis of them being a straight line.
As I sat there in my classroom, with my baseball boys eating lunch and talking, I felt overwhelmed with grief, but again thought of those Bright Flight album-closing lyrics: “We were never promised there would be a tomorrow,” in “Death of an Heir of Sorrows.” He may have been reminding his long-lost friend, but 18 years after he wrote them, he was also reminding us.
LAMB OF GOD has collaborated with Nightflyer Roastworks to create their first small batch single origin coffee, ‘Memento Mori’, grown in El Salvador and roasted in Charlotte, NC.
With a life on the road, members of LAMB OF GOD have found themselves frequenting coffee shops around the world and brewing from their own espresso machine on the tour bus. A longtime passion of guitarist Willie Adler, ‘Memento Mori’ brings to fruition years of home roasting and blending in a true collaboration with friend Paul Waggoner, owner of Nightflyer Roastworks and guitarist for Between The Buried and Me.
Osaka Japan rock band SCANDAL regretfully announces the postponement of its highly-anticipated 2020 “Kiss From The Darkness” North American WORLD TOUR, due to COVD-19.
The tour which was originally set to kick off on September 17 in Anaheim, CA has been rescheduled for FALL 2021. The updated 5-city run of dates includes a NEW show at Sony Hall in NYC on Saturday, November 13. See canceled and updated dates below.
While fans may have to wait a while longer to see the band, SCANDAL is excited to announce details for their FIRST-EVERWORLDWIDE LIVESTREAM CONCERT! The SCANDAL WORLD TOUR 2020 “Kiss From The Darkness” WORLDWIDE Livestream will take place live from Japan on Friday, August 21, 2020 (the band’s 14th anniversary) at 7:00PM JST (3:00AM PDT/6AM EDT, 11 :00AM UK). Tickets are $30.
For fans outside of Japan who are unable to stream the show live, the full set will be archived for 48 hours after.
In a statement to fans, the band says,
“We are very saddened by the fact that our World Tour that was supposed to take place this year has been postponed. However, we are very excited about our first worldwide livestream concert! Our tour was going to visit more than 30 cities in the world, so we are working very hard to put all of our energy and passion into this one night, so that we can bring you the very best of SCANDAL!! Even though the concept of a livestream concert is very new to us, seeing and hearing all of your positive comments, like “Everyone is in the first row!” or “Venue capacities are unlimited!” is so uplifting. We can’t wait to make some great memories with our fans from all over the world on August 21st!”
SCANDAL is an all-female Japanese rock band from Osaka, Japan. Formed in Summer 2006 by four high school friends, they played live street performances until they were noticed and signed to the indie label Kitty Records. Although all four members have provided lead vocals, their primary roles are Haruna on vocals and rhythm guitar, Mami on lead guitar, Tomomi on bass guitar, and Rina on drums. In 2008, they released three singles and a mini-album while simultaneously touring the United States, France, and Hong Kong. That October, Scandal released their major debut single, “Doll”, on Epic Records Japan.
With massive support radio and media support (Billboard, CNN, ABC, etc), and an energized international fanbase behind them, the band went on to perform the theme songs for several anime series, including “Shōjo S” and “Harukaze” for Bleach, “Shunkan Sentimental” for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, “Pride” for “Star Driver” and “A.M.D.K.J.” for “GeGeGe no Kitarō”.
In 2019, the band founded their own label named “her” and has continued to release a steady stream of chart-topping singles and albums, while bringing their music to venues all across the globe. The band’s 9th studio album ‘Kiss From The Darkness’ was released in February 2020. The album peaked at number five on the Oricon weekly charts, extending Scandal’s streak of having all nine of their albums reach the top 5 of the charts upon release.
The band’s latest digital single “Spice” dropped earlier this month in collaboration with Xflag for their animated film “Xpice”, which was released on the official Xflag Anime YouTube channel the same day.
The debut episode of X-RL7, a pixel-art cyberpunk animated series and music project featuring the voice acting skills of numerous alternative rock, metal and electronic musicians, is available today.
The series, created by Mike Evans of UK based electronic rock act MiXE1, chronicles the exploits of the fictional band X-RL7 in a mix of comedy, social commentary and original music.
Fueled by mysterious dream-like visions, the show follows the enigmatic X-RL7 frontman Omega as he navigates the trials and tribulations of the music industry alongside guitarist/producer PJand flamboyant larger-than-life band manager Alfie in their journey to make it to the top of the musical food chain. Featuring a myriad of colorful characters and original electronic rock tunes set against a cyberpunk-inspired futuristic backdrop.
“I’m absolutely delighted (and terrified) to launch X-RL7 at last,” Evans says. “The series has been in development for over a year and a half and represents the amalgamation of so many of my passions – my love of pixel art, music, comedy, social commentary, romance, cyberpunk and conspiratorial themes all coming together in one unique pixelated cocktail.”
For a full overview of the series, including clips from all episodes and featuring the voices of all guest musicians, visit https://youtu.be/Khm2fRrcDu8.
The Origins of X-RL7
The origins of the X-RL7 project can be traced back to 2016 in the form of an unfinished point and click adventure game developed by Evans with the concept revolving around a music journalist and other fictional bands with original music. After moving on from this, Evans formed Youtube video series Project Anything, honing his animation skills, while still creating music with his band MiXE1. Still enamored by one of the songs he penned for the game (“Apotheosis Man”), Evans picked up the remnants of the project in late 2018 and started repurposing it as a video/music series with a brand new story, focusing largely around one specific band – X-RL7.
Along the way Evans approached musical friends and past collaborators to lend their voices to various characters and songs. As the series took shape, he approached others in the alternative music scene, some of whom he has been a fan of for many years, who kindly got involved and delivered fantastic performances as their animated counter parts.
Musicians who have lent their voices to the show so far include:
“I am very blessed that so many super talented artists have taken the time to lend their voices to the project, embracing the world of X-RL7 and the music,” says Evans.
Apotheosis Music Soundtrack Out Now
A new episode will be released every two weeks, with episodes of the sub-series X-RL7 Backstage – which digs deeper with mini-documentaries about the making of the series – official lyric videos and more released in between. Additionally, the first musical installment of the project, the debut album Apotheosis Music is available today via all digital music providers. More music will be released throughout the year.
From the retro-inspired visual style and cyberpunk aesthetic, the comedy, the eccentric characters, the references to musician life, the original electronic-rock music, the awesome guest appearances, X-RL7 is a fun and unique project. Join X-RL7 on their journey.
Be sure to follow X-RL7 on social media for additional announcements and support the project on Patreon for exclusive rewards and content.
Today, Phoenix-based electronic music artist Raindust releases his powerful debut single “If Tomorrow Never Comes”. The song is the first of a series of three singles slated for release by Raindust. A downtempo dance track, it features bass-driven synths, overlapping melodies, and layers of vocal harmonies that lend themselves to an ambient connection to the song’s emotional theme. “If Tomorrow Never Comes” is available to order here.
“If Tomorrow Never Comes” Lyric Video
While many artists default to the cliche of love songs, Raindust wrote “If Tomorrow Never Comes” with the perspective of a father who, through divorce, loses his children. He struggles with grief, and the realization that his time with them had been taken for granted. He had been consumed with himself and his negative self-image, resulting in a deficiency of mental space for others — including his own kids.
Coming to terms with the fact that he had not given them the quality of relationship they deserved from their parent, and realizing that nothing could be gained from wallowing in self-pity, he dedicates himself to turning things around and taking advantage of the time he’s been given, ensuring that no matter what happens, his children will certainly know that he loves them.
“Instead of going, ‘If I’m going to die tomorrow,’” says Raindust, “I say, ‘If today is my last day, how can I make it better? Can I call them? Tell them I love them?’”
He continues, “I remember seeing a quote on social media that said “When children have a bad day, they don’t say, ‘Hey, can we talk?’ They say, ‘Hey, can you come play with me?’ When you ‘not right now’ them because you have too much going on… for all you know, they could be having as bad of a day as you’re having. No one really stops to think about it from the child’s perspective.”
Raindust’s musical arrangements surfaced after he had spent days locked away, outpouring his emotions, forming them into lyrics. Following the composition of the lines and the melody, the rest of the musical arrangement naturally flowed from him. Unlike many dance tunes, the song does not rely on speed or bass to ramp up the energy. Raindust spent years perfecting the instrumentals, arrangements, and production of the deeply personal, moving track. Heartache translates through the chords of the melody and vocals, making “If Tomorrow Never Comes” a riveting listen that tugs at the heartstrings.“
Raindust – the pseudonym of lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, and music producer Iain Greene – is an artist who flawlessly combines elements of pop and electronic music, along with highly personal themes, to promote positivity and global awareness.
Greene has a knack for extracting components from various genres and building upon them to create his own unique sounds. Inspired by artists such as Alan Walker, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, and Linkin Park, he composes compelling lyrics, creates “club music” while remaining in the shadows, and recruits captivating vocalists who add powerful, authentic emotion to the tracks. Being what might be referred to as an “empathetic musician”, he embraces being in the position to breed feelings within the listener and make a unifying impact in a divided world.
Raindust is the second solo project from Greene, its predecessor being music under his proper name. This gifted musician is able to pick up any instrument and instinctively play. The Arizona native has previously been a member of four local bands, ranging from pop rock to death metal. It was seeing Iron Maiden perform live that encouraged him to want to be amidst the energy and interact with others.
Quoting Hans Christian Anderson, Greene says “When words fail, music speaks” resonates with him. Raindust developed when he cathartically immersed himself in music while dealing with loss and hardship. Employing cinematic melodies and futuristic beats in musical compositions that combine darkness and light, Raindust reveals that through music, relief can be found in a seemingly desolate environment.
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Legendary SoCal artists (HED) P.E. have revealed details for their twelfth studio album, Class of 2020, set for release on August 21 via legendary Californian independent label Suburban Noize Records. The date also marks the 20th anniversary of the group’s breakthrough album, Broke.
On Class of 2020, (HED) P.E. gets back to the raw essentials, utilizing old-school punk-rock guitar tones and aggressive, unfiltered vocal stylings at the core of their trademark sound. Longtime fans will find that Class of 2020 is a return to the classic sound of early (HED) P.E. albums.
“We were on the road in the middle of a tour when the COVID-19 pandemic hit full force,” comments frontman Jared Gomes. “Like everyone else on the planet, we were faced with some unprecedented challenges. As a small business owner of an independent band, I was faced with an additional set of challenges with the tour being canceled and making it back home from Rhode Island to Idaho. When I got home, I immediately got inspired creatively and hit the studio to smash out this record. For this one, we took it all back to our roots with a back-to-basics approach to try and capture that true G-Punk sound of our earlier albums.”
In an effort to bring Class of 2020 around full circle and connect it with (Hed) P.E’s impressive back catalog, the album cover is an homage to the group’s breakthrough album Broke, which celebrates its 20th anniversary a day after the new studio album is released. While planning to the milestone anniversary for (Hed) P.E., Jared was able to connect with former members DJ Product and original guitarist Chad “Chizad” Benekos and rekindle their creative flame. DJ Product created artwork for the Class of 2020 album and added his trademark scratching over some tracks, while original (Hed) P.E. guitarist Chizad blessed the band with a blazing solo on “Greedy Girl“. The unholy union that many fans never thought possible came together to connect the past and present incarnations of (Hed) P.E. and to enhance Class of 2020 in a meaningful way.
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When discussing the album, Gomes talks about the moniker “Class of 2020” having dual meaning for him and the band. “I had the title ‘Class of 2020’ as a working title for some time now,” he explains. “We had made hoodies with the Class of 2020 on them, but it was originally intended to be a statement about the band being here 20 years later. A whole new Class of (HED) P.E., so to speak. Once the pandemic broke out, this title took on a new profound meaning. The Class of 2020 never really graduated. The Class of 2020 will go down in history for several different reasons.”
(HED) P.E. are the pioneers of the G-Punk sound, which fuses together punk-rock, metal, hip-hop and reggae. The band has toured the world for 20 years sharing the stage with the likes of Suicidal Tendencies, System of a Down, KORN, Tech N9ne, Tool as well as the original Black Sabbath on the iconic Ozzfest tour. (HED) P.E. experienced a creative resurgence after signing with Suburban Noize Records in the early 2000s and was instrumental in developing the booming underground scene.
Preorders for Class of 2020 are available now here.
In addition, Rockshots Records and Victoria K will replay the release live set stream on Twitch directly to your home on Friday 17th July, at 11p.m. CEST! The show will be streamed on the official Rockshots Records’ Twitch channel, check it out and subscribe here.
This is the only way to see new songs from Victoria K’s debut album Essentia live for the foreseeable future, so don’t miss out!
Essentia was produced by Lee Bradshaw and features special guest Michalina Malisz (Eluveitie).
Victoria K Is:
Victoria K – Vocals
Sheri Vengeance – Extreme Vocals (Black Like Vengeance, ex. Ne Obliviscaris)
Julia Mammone – Guitar (Enlight)
Martin Kawaler – Bass (Black Like Vengeance, ex Ten Thousand)