Category Archives: Albums

REVIEW: Surviving — Jimmy Eat World’s Subtle Masterpiece

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Released on October 18th, Surviving is the tenth studio album by Jimmy Eat World. Available in every imaginable format; it can be streamed, purchased as a download, a CD, vinyl pressing, and if you really wanted to throw it way back (as frontman Jim Adkins loves to do) it can be found as a cassette tape. Surviving is an expertly crafted journey, one that explores the time Adkins spent battling depression and self-doubt. There are ten songs on the record — a theme, perhaps, given the release in the tenth month of the year.

From the first notes of the driving guitars, before the kick of the drums, before the ever-recognizable voice of Adkins kicks in, it is apparent that this will be familiar but new ground. The first lines of the title track “Surviving” appear to confirm this:

Don’t hide your face, what you were before
it doesn’t have to be you anymore

The song “Surviving” could be considered a confrontation of sorts. One could interpret it as the singer confronting his past, and simultaneously the listener could perceive it as a confrontation of their own past. It is relatable in every line, and because of that, powerful.

“Criminal Energy” was my favorite to watch live at the Crescent Ballroom a few weeks ago, and the album version is just as good, if not somewhat muted compared to the live version. That is not to say it is bad in any way; rather, this is a song that is designed to get the blood pumping and the crowd dancing. And it is delightful — Adkins’ voice soaring behind the crashing guitars and drums. Just as quickly as it comes, it fades to a softer, slower song in “Delivery”.

While “Delivery” is paced more slowly than “Criminal Energy”, it is deep. There is a subtle beauty in the lyrics, an essence of yearning for the love of the years gone by. This is the genius of Adkins: the ability to relate to each listener even without meeting them, and to draw a picture in such a way that they don’t always realize the scope of the art. 

Adkins continues this in “555”. The art could be lost if you got lost wading through the shock that longtime Jimmy Eat World fans will undoubtedly feel: the shock of a song that sounds more like it came from M83. However, it fits with the message from this song so very well. The expectation of Adkins, and in turn Jimmy Eat World, is that there will be an album that sounds much like what has been done before. There is a danger in that expectation, and it is daring to break it. That is exactly what they do, with synth clapping as the backing and one of the oddest and yet entertaining videos you will ever see.

“One Mil” starts the ramp up back into the heavier songs on the album. The story of wasted chances will resonate with the masses, though I would argue that most of them have never fallen for a camera girl.

Camera girl, you still there?
If I look you’ll disappear
Worse, you might wanna talk
I’m so underprepared

To some it is the classic story of the introvert attempting to find love and upon finding a chance at it, wasting it. To others, it is like a remnant of teenage love, which we would all like to think that we eventually grow out of.

Wish I had mastery of wit, luck and fearless confidence
Then shred majestically to your heart

This story changes in “All The Way (Stay)”, a song that is raw, raw in sound and lyrics, the clang of a guitar and then the echo of a snare drum your only companions at first. It is not comfortable in the first 30 or so seconds, and that discomfort draws you in to listen to lyrics like:

 We get discouraged by the pointlessness
And we’re pretty quick to judge things pointless
There’s what I want and what I need
And the latter takes a while to see

Behind it all, you realize that this is again urging the listener to show who they really are, to allow others, or possibly just one other, to see under the layers where you hide. While the song starts with a crashing drum that may force you to shift uneasily, by the end you will find yourself swaying to the catchy beat and powerful vocals. It is a great lead into a song that has a far more comfortable feel, “Diamond”.

“Diamond” is the song you didn’t know you needed to help you through a really rough time. Hopes, dreams and careers take time, and it’s easy to want to take the easy way out and get a quick payout. After over a quarter of a century playing with Jimmy Eat World, Adkins can say with the utmost confidence in the lyrics:

That’s how a diamond grows, yeah
Give yourself the right chance over time
Don’t believe them
If they try to sell you something quicker, yeah

This theme extends to “Love Never”, where Adkins vocals are on display second only to “555”. This is another life lesson, this time a reminder about love, set over a near frantic beat. Depending on your stage in life, it either serves as a warning for those who still romanticize the ideal love and the idea that cute, fat angels will shoot you with an arrow shortly before you meet the perfect match, or a reminder that love looks a whole lot more like you summoning the strength to not murder your partner for not picking their socks up. At any rate, it is a fantastic, underrated song on this album. 

“Recommit” feels like something that all of us have wanted to sing, or yell really, at that one person in our lives who sits on the fence when push comes to shove. To some, the music may feel a little underwhelming in comparison to the rest of the tracks. However, one can appreciate its beachy pop revivalist vibe that flows and ebbs from the verses to the contrasting heavier chorus that barrels in between them.

The album closes out with “Congratulations”, a song that seems so far out of place that it is a bit jarring. Unlike much of the rest of the album, this seems to almost take a political stance, with lyrics such as:

Suspiciously, through editing
The facts are disappearing
With discipline and message
You’ll take awkward possession
Of nothing you really wanted
Welcome, congratulations

The defiance and air of dissonance present throughout the rest of the album melts into the background, as sarcasm seems to run rampant in this unusual and yet enjoyable song. It should also be noted that Davey Havok of AFI and Dreamcar lent his vocals to this song, something subtle you can pick up on once you know to listen for him.

Surviving is an incredibly solid album overall. It harkens back to the energy we all bore witness to in the fantastic journey that was Bleed American (later re-released as Jimmy Eat World). Adkins is a master of self-awareness, weaving life lessons into the verses in much the same way a master weaver would work threads into a rug. While the frontman has been given much praise in this review, the entirety of the band deserves recognition for this album. While it is the norm for the music world to decide to try to build an architectural masterpiece like the Empire State Building, often falling far short of that lofty goal, Adkins and his bandmates decided to build a comfortable mansion in the Midwest overlooking a lake. The band succeeded in doing exactly what they set out to do, giving the world a sometimes odd but overall enjoyable work that will stand the test of time.

Featured photo (top) by Oliver-Halfin


REVIEW: Temperatures Rise — Arizonan Summer’s Stylistically Eclectic Debut Album

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

In the seemingly-bygone-but-dearly-missed era of the cross street of life and music, summertime meant a great many things, but cherished most of all were the words, “I’ll make you a tape.” As mixtapes gave way to mix CDs, which in turn gave way to mp3 playlists and eventually music streaming, the idea of a mixtape seems to have faded from the public consciousness for a while. Perhaps though with the resurgence of cassette tapes (Mutemath and Jenny Lewis, among many, many others have released cassette copies of their latest albums), there is still a place for lost nights of driving around listening to the perfect soundtrack of youth. Therein lies the charm of Alt-rockers Arizonan Summer’s debut album Temperatures Rise, as it instantly brings to mind such memories of late-night drives with friends in a time when you had nowhere important to be and life still lay somewhere far on the horizon as a worry for another day. 

Art of any kind begins with the artist trying his or her best to approximate their heroes before discovering their own voice. The band is fronted by Chris Reiswig, the 22-year-old singer/songwriter behind the Arizona-based band, clearly knows where he comes from, not just in place but in style, as he definitely wears his influences on his sleeve. Arizonan Summer’s bio describes their sound as “Progressive Indie,” but the deeper story of their music can be found in their admission that their sound gravitates towards “Art-Rock, Folk, Post-Punk, Funk and Psychedelia.” All of those influences can be heard on Temperatures Rise, and yet it proves to be so much more than that. Arizonan Summer’s bio describes their sound as “Progressive Indie,” but the deeper story of their music can be found in their admission that their sound gravitates towards “Art-Rock, Folk, Post-Punk, Funk and Psychedelia.” All of those influences can be heard on Temperatures Rise, and yet it proves to be so much more than that. 

In the album’s opening track, the simple acoustic “Aardvarks (Intro),” which recalls early Radiohead albums, you can feel Reiswig’s youth, as the lyrics recall that moment in everyone’s early twenties where they’re not a kid anymore, but also definitely not an adult. He sings of those directionless nights, in the song’s opening lyric “Keep your eyes to the stars/And your ear to the radio/You’ve got to get your kicks however you can/When fighting against this life on loan,” but it’s the song’s next line, from which the album gets its title (“Temperatures rise/it’s just a fact of life”), that comes the reckoning that the inevitabilities of life are coming for all of us, no matter how lost we feel. 

Where “Aardvarks” feels quiet and introspective, “Perpetual Slip” is a shot of early 90’s punk adrenaline. With vocals that recall The Offspring, a soaring guitar solo that feels like moving upwards in a tornado of music, and supported throughout by a rhythm that begins with foot tapping but ends with the urge to pump your fist in the air along with the song. If the opening track is like lighting a fuse, this is the moment when the album soars into the stratosphere and explodes for the listener. 

Chris Reiswig (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Arizonan Summer

While “Perpetual Slip” is the point where the album’s energy skyrockets, it is the third track, the righteous post-punk anti-love ballad “Anhedonia (I‘m Not In Love),” that emerges as Temperatures’ standout. At his age, Reiswig would be forgiven for filling the album with sappy declarations of love, but instead he uses a shredding guitar to share his nearly-exuberant acceptance of the end of a relationship. There’s no moping in the song, and not a hint of regret to be found, as he closes out the song with his pronouncement to the lover he’s leaving behind that he’ll rip them off like Nicorette patch. To whomever inspired this song, sorry, but he didn’t want to be with you, and he clearly couldn’t care less because he’s moving on. 

Displaying the album’s diverse range, “The Fever Age” features grungy guitars, and vocals that bring Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley to mind. The darkly-ambiguous spoken vocals of the song’s bridge creates images of a half-remembered ominous dream. 

Where Reiswig turns up the volume for a love he no longer wants, he turns it down for the heartbreaking “Shimmer” to sing about the love he does want but can’t seem to have. It serves as a bookend to “Anhedonia,” and has the feel of later regret when you realize at an awake-too-late hour that the love you had but didn’t want was what you wanted all along. Moving on in these moments is easier said than done, and Reiswig clearly knows this as he closes the song promising, “I promise you I’m still right here;” this is the last hope a lonely heart has before accepting and getting on with life. 

The coffee-house folk of “Idle Mind” continues the album’s theme of feeling stuck in the middle of indecision. Its simple guitar-strum melody and toe-tapping rhythm makes for a perfect sing-along moment of appreciating being directionless, as long as you’ve got someone with you, since the greatest memories are born not of intricate plans but what can happen when you don’t have anything in mind and let the moments happen. 

While Arizonan Summers may be a showcase for Reiswig’s songwriting, the nearly seven-minute “The Joy of Ulterior Motives,” serves as a showcase for the entire band – guitarist Dylan Ewing, bassist Erin Sperduti, and drummer Kash Filburn. The haunting track, reminiscent of “Mexican Moon”-era Concrete Blonde, sees Reiswig serving a warning to someone who has betrayed him, ending with the parting, “I know that you know pride comes before the fall,” amidst a wall of screeching instruments. 

Arizonan Summer

The album’s closer, the aptly named “This Must Be the End” begins with the image of an aimless drive on a full tank of gas. For an album that feels like the perfect mixtape for such a drive, this song has a shrug of acceptance that there are no sure things in life, and sometimes we aren’t guaranteed the happy ending we’re hoping for, but that’s okay. 

Chris Reiswig (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Arizonan Summer

With Temperatures Rise, Chris Reiswig and his talented band have positioned themselves as more than homegrown talents, and the album isn’t just some local kids giving it a go for the first time. No, this is an album that defies expectations by never settling into anything easy or overly sentimental. It is an album that lives on that cusp of life between being young and being old. It’s in the moments where we crash and burn, tell an unwanted love to get out, feel lonely when we realize it was a mistake, bond over the meaninglessness of it all, and finally accept our fate, turn up the radio, and drive off into the unknown horizon of our futures.

Buy & Stream Temperatures Rise

Amazon | Spotify | Google Play
Apple Music | CD Baby

Temperatures Rise Tracklist

  • Aardvarks – Intro
  • Perpetual Slip
  • Anhedonia (I’m Not In Love)
  • The Fever Age 
  • Shimmer
  • Paper Trails
  • Travel Sequence
  • Idle Mind
  • The Joy of Ulterior Motives
  • This Must Be The End

Arizonan Summer Online:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube



REVIEW: Bradley Palermo’s Debut Album, “Volume 1” Honestly Depicts the Bitter Sweetness of Life

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Bradley Palermo Volume 1 Album Art

Pre-Order

iTunes | Amazon Music

Bradley Palermo, a solo folk/punk artist in Los Angeles, is debuting his first full length album, Volume 1, on Friday, April 19. The record is a result of a successful crowdfunding campaign late last year, followed by a recently completed international tour. Comprised of previously released singles, the songs were reworked and remastered to create the cohesive Volume 1. Being no stranger to life on the road and the various trials of life, Volume 1 captures an autobiographical letter written to anyone who has experienced life, death, love, and loss.

Before setting out on his solo folk career, Palermo spent 15 years fronting the bands The Sudden Passion and Femme Fatality. He grew up in St. Louis, MO playing in local indie bands. All the while he was developing an affinity for the alt-country bands that were emerging from the region at the time. Palermo draws inspiration from Americana acts like Son Volt and The Bottle Rockets, and folk-punk troubadours such as Chuck Ragan and David Dondero (both of whom he’s now shared the stage with). His influences and past come together in the raw and honest Volume 1.

Stream

Tracklist:

Tombstones
I Like things That Kill
All My Friends (Have Died)
2nd Wind
The Long Way
Deep Valley Blues
Lost In August
The High Cost of Free Living
Trouble To Find
Hollywood, Hollywood

Tombstones

As the first track on Volume 1, “Tombstones” starts with a synth riff that would make Femme Fatality fans grin with a sense of familiarity. The track is driven by a powerful, classic acoustic guitar rhythm that instantly tells you that you’re in for a catchy song. Palermo sings of living as an artist on the road, away from the draining and lifeless corporate existence. Palermo sings in the chorus, “I’ve done the 9 to 6, pulling out my hair, carving up my wrist… I think it’s safe to say I’ve done gone and made my escape.” Displaying Americana at it’s finest, Tombstones would make the perfect bonfire summer sing-along about free living.

I Like Things That Kill

Following “Tombstones” is another catchy acoustic rhythm along with a steel guitar carrying the melody. Palermo sings the song title to implant into your head, “I like things that kill”. This song turns out to be a country/folk love song with a hint of a punk chorus. Reminiscing, he starts the first verse and ends the song with the same lines, “All the things I loved are all the things I’ve quit. I miss you like I miss whiskey, cocaine and cigarettes…”, driving the listener into the building chorus with, “I like things that waste me, eradicate me, honey, I like things that kill… I like things that kill”. Building a scene of a love addiction for a lover long gone, the track pings familiar emotions and imagery that nearly any listener can relate and sing to, making it a brilliantly written piece.

All My Friends (Have Died)

As the song title alludes to, this track is a somber reminder of all the people who have left this earth. In this country/Americana track, Palermo describes the things his friends supposedly used to do, along with specific names and situations of unfortunate fates. This track brings the pain and haunting hole that is created when someone you know passes: “My friends don’t pick up the phone or text me back when I say ‘What’s up?’… Even though I’m up here singing, I feel a little dead inside, cause all of my friends have died.” After the second chorus, Palermo wistfully yells, “And I fucking miss ’em, man!”, followed by a perfectly placed electric guitar solo to represent those memories in a celebration of what once was. He finished out the song by repeating the first verse and ending it all with a cymbal tap fading out.

2nd Wind

“2nd Wind” comes in to perk you up from “All My Friends (Have Died)”. The addition of harmonica in the instrument arsenal is introduced in a tale of a refreshing new romance in the time of personal turmoil. Palermo sings, “There ain’t no use in hiding it, I was out running all common sense. No one gets that drunk on accident.” He continues to tell the tale of meeting a woman that saved him: “And in this City of Angels, she was the only one I’ve met. Call me a holy roller cause I am born again.” “2nd Wind” ends leaving the listener ready for a new emotional start, which is exactly what we all need from time to time.

The Long Way

“The Long Way” describes Palermo’s painful first marriage, his move to LA, and other catalyzing events that brought him to where he is now. The track introduces a grittier tone, and has breathy falsetto backing vocals that bring out strong emotional ties to the lyrical content. The bridge absolutely shines, bringing a climax of both emotion and unexpected production value, turning the featured lower frequency instruments that are too often ignored or omitted in the genre into stars. The bass and a low-programmed synth add another depth of seriousness that speaks volumes along Palermo’s raspy cries. “The Long Way” is a unique turn in the album that keeps the listener’s engagement.

Deep Valley Blues

Ever the catchy writer, Palermo’s “Deep Valley Blues” would be a successful radio single. Short and fun, it captures the feeling of old folk/country/blues that is the heart of Volume 1. Touching on the differences between Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley area) and his hometown of St. Louis, Palermo paints a picture of homesickness in the most concise way. “Deep Valley Blues” is destined to be a popular live show sing-along. “I’ve got them… deep valley blues. It’s gonna take me too much time to make my way home you, and you know it ain’t the distance, honey, it’s the altitude… I’ve got them… deep valley blues…

Lost In August

In a track that could easily be sung by Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie/The Postal Service), the album takes another turn in a light and romantic way. In true indie/folk fashion, “Lost In August” kicks off with a ukulele and accordion-driven rhythm. The composition creates a dreamy and nostalgic backdrop to Palermo’s toned-down vocals. The lyrics and tone show the versatility of Palermo’s songwriting skills, as he lets atmosphere take the place of country-harsh vocals and to-the-point lyrics. A delightful change of pace that’s sure to grasp listeners of overlapping rock/indie/folk genres.

The High Cost of Free Living

The synth makes another appearance in the folk piece, “The High Cost of Free Living”. A straightforward song with a country baseline. Palermo makes use of multiple instruments and harmonies to keep the listener engaged through lyrics of alcoholism and the drawbacks of trying to live as an artist. Although it’s not the strongest song lyrically on the album, it keeps on par with being a catchy sing-along like earlier tracks.

Trouble to Find

“Trouble to Find” starts out with an interesting bass riff seemingly taken from the brainwaves of Brian Ritchie (The Violent Femmes). Palermo brings us through a folk song about dealing with toxic personalities and mental illness. This track circles us back around to the tone of the first half of the album. He paints the imagery of an adversary and tries to rationalize the situation, familiar to what many people might think and say in that kind of situation. However, the song ends right when the listener feels like there might be more waiting to be told. It feels a little incomplete, despite the great storytelling.

Hollywood, Hollywood

The last track on Volume 1, “Hollywood, Hollywood” completes the journey of Palermo’s folk tale, reiterating how Hollywood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but you just make the best of it. It gives the feeling that everyone is trying to be someone, trying to act busy, having superficial relationships, etc. Although it is also a short track, it ends the album saying that the journey is over and he is here now, trying to find his way. It’s a perfect ending to his story.

Final Thoughts

Bradley Palermo’s Volume 1 is nearly a perfect folk album. Featuring a variety of influences, emotions, and incredibly candid lyrics, the album is easy to listen to and connect with, especially for artists. None of the tracks are boring, and they display incredibly strong songwriting ability. The album plays like a story Palermo might tell you himself at a bar over some drinks. Engaging, intimate, and memorable, Volume 1 would be a great introductory piece to new listeners of the folk genre.

Bradley Palermo Volume 1 Album Art

Pre-Order

iTunes | Amazon Music

Tour Dates

4/24 Los Angeles, CA @ Satellite (album release show) #
4/30 Victorville, CA @ Kennedy’s Pub *
5/01 Las Vegas, NV @ The Dive Bar *
5/02 Reno, NV @ Pignic Pub *
5/03 Willits, CA @ Shanachie Pub *
5/04 San Francisco, CA @ The Plough & The Stars *
5/05 Bakersfield, CA @ El Conquistador Music Experience  (album release show) *
5/07 Canoga Park, CA @ Scotland Yard Pub * %
5/08 Santa Ana, CA @ Beatnik Bandito Music Emporium (album release show) *
5/09 Lancaster, CA @ The Britisher *
5/10 San Diego, CA @ Rosie O’Grady’s (album release show) *
5/11 Tucson, AZ @ Saint Charles Tavern *
5/12 Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap *
5/13 Yuma, AZ @ Littlewood Art Co-Op *
5/14 Flagstaff, AZ @ The Hive *
5/24 Las Vegas, NV @ Citrus ^
7/24 Cottage Grove, OR @ Brewstation %
7/25 Seattle, WA @ Skylark %
7/26 Tacoma, WA @ The Valley %
7/27 Bremerton, WA @ Hi-Fidelity Lounge %
7/28 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Hideaway %

^= Punk Rock Bowling club show with Amigo The Devil, Bridge City Sinners, and Pinata Protest
#= supporting Typesetter
*= w/ Tim Holehosue
%= w/ Sim Williams

Watch Live Performances:

2nd Wind | Deep Valley Blues
I Like Things That Kill | Tombstones

Bradley Palermo Online:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Featured photo (top) by Marisa Palermo

REVIEW: ANTI-MELODY by American Standards Gets Real About Grief, Loss, & Suicide

  • 17
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    17
    Shares

Phoenix-based hardcore punk-infused metal band American Standards is known for their “piss and vinegar” sound, boasting a well-crafted amalgamation of heavy-handed, technical instrumentals, and brutal yet poetic lyrics that confront societal divides such as corporate greed, media corruption, loss, materialism and personal struggle. Presumably due to their focus on DIY ethics, the group attracted a devoted following in response to their leadership of what has come to be known as the “guerrilla punk” movement in Phoenix. Think of the gritty, raw basement shows we all know and love, except this time American Standards would be there to distribute self-produced compilation CDs as a method of raising money for local causes and charities. Pretty rad, isn’t it?

Online you’ll find American Standards listed as “chaos-driven noise punk” also noting themselves as self-proclaimed “purveyors of fine noise” and “Voted Least Likely to Succeed in 2011″ – the year the band was formed. Don’t let their humor fool you though, the message packaged within the chaos tells something of a deeper story. The group has since been recognized in the form of a regular presence on local radio stations like 98KUPD, RadioPhoenix and TheBlaze in addition to sharing the stage with acts like Atreyu, Comeback Kid, Norma Jean, Every Time I Die and many more.

American Standards’ most recent album “ANTI-MELODY” (which premiered in Revolver Magazine, Alternative Press and Lambgoat) is the group’s fourth release, delving into topics that are undeniably more personal than ever before for its members while simultaneously continuing to deliver on what the band has always been known for: pungent commentary on societal divides and anti-consumerism. This time around however, the development of this album is a distinct reflection of American Standard’s ability to focus through times of struggle while baring it all despite battles with depression after the loss of founding guitarist Cody Conrad to suicide, followed shortly after by the loss of the vocalist Brandon Kellum’s father to cancer.

What would have broken so many other bands transmuted into a powerful point of resonance for American Standards, empowering them to produce an album that not only cuts deep, but holds true to the spirit of the band’s fiercely integral essence.

The Tracks

Writers Block Party

“Writer’s Block Party” might at first sound like pandemonium to an unfocused ear, but with closer listen you’ll quickly discover a lyrical contrast that highlights societal pressures imposed on those who desire success or any place in the limelight. The song immediately portrays the immense impact of these pressures through the band’s eyes; “dancing around like we’re marionettes, a stutter in our step, a cadence in our breath, to the unimpressed…”

This is an opening number that comes out swinging, keeping things hyped while immediately addressing the lyrical heart of the matter which made it an ideal choice for a single. And despite seeking an “easy fix” it’s clear things weren’t so simple as the song goes on to say, “I gave up my heart to find a soul… The clouds came in and the lights went out. We were guided by the roar.”

The metaphorical nature of their lyric choices leave much to interpretation and making space for further connection with their ever-growing fan base, but it can be speculated that this track alludes to the many struggles of avoiding corporate sponsorship in the music industry and beyond. This line in particular encapsulates the track well:

“Remove the spine and the heart. Safe bet, mindset. And claim what’s left as art.”

Carpe Diem, Tomorrow

Although brief in content, the technical aspect of  instrumentals included in “Carpe Diem, Tomorrow” are placed well as both a striking opener and stout interludes that highlight a wake-up call just beneath the surface:

“Concrete minds cannot change. Don’t stand still, keep moving. You’ll become what you say you hate.”

Encouraging fans to seize the day, this track utilizes the concept of time to motivate listeners and warn them of the consequences of stagnancy in life. Audibly this track has an underlying rhythm that is a bit similar to that of System of A Down, Throw Down, or Tool; while offering unique lead guitar, which in contrast offers similarities to bands like From First to Last, Trivium, and Hatebreed.

Church Burner

“Church Burner” starts off with an eerie chorus which repeats throughout, but not before laying down some seriously chunky guitar riffs that bring a daunting undertone. The lead guitar and bass notes are undeniably the highlight here, although this is the first sing-scream track to be found on ANTI-MELODY which is to be noted as well.

Lyrically this track is beautiful in the simplicity of its resounding metaphor while still managing to communicate the intensified angst that American Standards fans long for.

“An extremist in boldface type. We’re all people, but compassion doesn’t sell. And there’s no time for independent thought. There are no divisions outside the ones that we create.”

While chaos and hardcore don’t exactly scream “empowerment”, American Standards is clever in the execution of their message. They scatter calls to action throughout each song and foreshadowing for what is to come if the previously mentioned social obstacles aren’t addressed in a way that keeps things moving, so-to-speak. The lyrics go on to say:

“Tear down the walls and build a bridge… We don’t want another title to tell us who we are.”

Bartenders Without Wings

“Bartenders Without Wings” slows things down a bit, sounding more like a classic punk ballad that explores a struggle between man and self. The energy of this track is especially solemn, suggesting the song may be addressing the unexpected loss of founding guitarist Cody Conrad as well as Kellum’s father. “Bartenders Without Wings” also spotlights some inarguable similarities to the sound of now infamous As I Lay Dying.

According to Kellum, ANTI-MELODY is the result of “what started as social commentary on the growing divide in our society” but then became much more personal due to the loss of Conrad and Kellum’s father amidst recording; this track communicated that effortlessly.

Kellum went on to say that the band “went back in to re-record much of the album and in a lot of ways used it as therapy to cope with the experiences.”

Danger Music #9

“Danger Music #9” is a smashing reminder of the dreadful state of conglomerate corporate takeover and a return to the classic American Standards sound, fueled by the pain and grief that lurked in the shadows for these four bandmates at the time. It can be inferred from the lyrics that they are not simply addressing a grandiose idea of anti-consumerism, but more specifically an issue with the intentions and treatments of our healthcare system. Though often choosing to communicate through lyrics that are poetic and/or satirical in nature, “Danger Music #9” takes an unprocessed approach to its confrontation of western culture particularly medicine, making the lyrics that much more savage in nature.

“You make a beautiful statistic, diamond eyes. Giving incentives to move these units. Prescribe more illness. And we’ll become the money they count behind closed doors. A half a million dead. A third of us next.”

Cancer Eater

The title may have tipped you off as to what this track is about. The tragic loss of Kellum’s father is uttered through every verse of “Cancer Eater”, tearing from word to word with an energy unmatched by any other song on the album. Instrumentally, “Cancer Eater” is equally as brutal, once again highlighting lead and bass guitar.

Lyrically, however, this track has got to be the most poetic:

“We’re taken hostage by the ones we love, that leave us behind. I can’t be as tough as nails, with this paper skin. And organs that fail. But life moves on, and I’ll go on too… I lived like him. I’ll die like him. Remember me, remember.”

Broken Culture

“Broken Culture” is self explanatory in its purpose, erupting with energy right from the start with strategically coalesced vocals and a true hardcore sound that are again unique in their likeness to other tracks on the album if you listen close. Themes of anger, fear and isolation resurface once again, but this time with a more somber tone in wake of its preceding track “Cancer Eater”.

“We had more guns than bullets so, we made pistols with our hands. Where’s the good; there’s evil we must fear. So, pull the trigger and pray the rounds land.”

Chicago Overcoat

“Chicago Overcoat” takes all the energy from the seven songs before itself and delivers that consolidated energy as one swift punch in the ear drums before ending on a beautiful piano note. The track is in itself, a crescendo of all-encompassing instrumentals accompanied by a dominating vocal performance by Kellum.
“Chicago Overcoat” starts off with the focus on bass and drums as opposed to vocals and lead guitar, making for a pleasantly unrefined, and super-sludgy combo. And yet, there is a tone of desperate release, resentment, and determination to rise above through and through.

In Closing

ANTI-MELODY took things to the next level for American Standards, allowing fans to get to know the individuals behind these powerful words that leave us feeling a little less misunderstood and a little more at home in the world.

Ever-brutal. And ever-poetic.

It seems, although incredibly tragic, the struggles that American Standards experienced during the making of ANTI-MELODY created a vacuum of emotion yielding an outcome no fans could have predicted. We’re looking forward to seeing where this intimate breakthrough takes them, and eager to listen in as they continue to evolve.


ANTI-MELODY is available now on iTunes, Google Music, Amazon and Spotify or you can pick it up along with exclusive merchandise through the
American Standards Bandcamp page.

BANDCAMP | ITUNESAMAZON | GOOGLE MUSICSPOTIFY | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | YOUTUBE | INSTAGRAM

REVIEW: Miss Krystle’s New EP “Inevitable” is Down to Make Fans Feel Good

  • 14
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    14
    Shares

Miss Krystle recently released her new EP Inevitable earlier this fall. As Arizona cools down from a particularly “Cruel Summer,” and as the US at large continues to struggle with obstacles across the board, Inevitable is a breath of fresh air ready to bring a second wind to all who listen. The Inevitable EP will be “on your mind and in your dreams… burning in your memory,” as it is truly “Unforgettable.”

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

Ever the inspiration, Miss Krystle continues utilizing all her passions and talents to their fullest potentials in all 6 tracks on the EP. She is a humanitarian, a philanthropist, an intellectual juggernaut, and a phenomenally talented musician; not only is the EP immensely entertaining, it is also incredibly uplifting and nurturing.
Miss Krystle had this to say about her new EP: “It was my mission to be impactful. We were going for in-your-face, this is how it is. We also wanted it to be empowering. I wanted to tell my fans that despite everything that has been going on socially and politically this year, you can find your power and your voice. I want them to remember to never give up. Lastly, I wanted to showcase my own vulnerability.” Throughout the entire album, these words certainly do ring true.

The Inevitable EP is a wild journey through many of the emotions, passions, experiences, and darkest thoughts that the human mind is capable of. The energy levels of the album are like a rollercoaster, with some songs pumping the listener up and getting them ready for a night on the town and others making the listener wonder if they should curl up on the couch with a comfortable blanket and a pint of their favorite ice cream. Miss Krystle has a one-of-a-kind style in her approach to music, but it fits in perfectly with other contemporary pop artists. Some of her new songs also seem like they’d easily find a place on a Dance Dance Revolution playlist, as they would be delightfully fun to dance along to. Others still would be perfect for someone’s first pick at karaoke.

Photo Credit: Shot by Jonny

Generally, pop music and similar genres are not known for their depth or insight, yet Miss Krystle easily marries popular culture, philosophy, and deep introspection in her musical work. During a preliminary listen, her songs sound as if they’d easily find a home in any club or on one’s favorite Top 40 radio station. Don’t be fooled, however—upon further inspection, the lyrics peel away, layer by layer, revealing a deep exploration into the human condition and how it impacts contemporary society.

Inevitable

From anthemic, affirmational title-track “Inevitable”, Miss Krystle explores themes of fitting in, watching the world around us, learning from our experiences, seeing the horrors of humanity and the world around us, yet still keeping calm and carrying on. 

She tackles the concept of how “they tell us how to fit in… tell us how to get by,” while still struggling to find our own identities in this mad world. While the song could be about so many different topics, from love to revolution, it instantly becomes a bright beacon in the night, guiding all who may feel lost.

Photo Credit: That Orko

In fact, out of all the songs on this EP, “Inevitable” itself may be the most exceptional and singularly profound track. Coming out at a time when many of us may feel utterly lost and hopeless, Miss Krystle reminds us to “rise for what matters, lasting until the end.” She needs us standing with her, united. This is a call to arms, not to fight what is wrong in this world, but rather to fight for the ability to support one another, to remind ourselves that we are all in this together. “We are, none of us, alone,” as ancient Chinese philosopher Fushumongu stated long ago.

As we’ve seen, time and again across this country, people are “taking it to the streets, not afraid to take a stand.” We do have strength in numbers, and we will fight. We have had enough. We’ve all woken up to this new day, and we “can’t give up on what we love.” Victory truly is inevitable. This song, like a mantra, shall inspire countless others to greatness in the coming days.

On top of any newfound courage in the realms of love and activism, Miss Krystle also calls us to come “together, woman and man.” This is truer now more than ever before. None of us can ignore the future, no matter how hard we try. Now, let’s get ready to “spark it up.”

Wild Like Fire

While the more insightful songs and verses from Miss Krystle’s new EP are absolutely striking, the album has a great mix of fun and fiery tracks as well. When “Wild Like Fire” comes on, it’s difficult to not instantly get pumped up. This song is a true energy boost, from the lyrics to the beat. “Welcome to the show.” Miss Krystle “can’t control it,” because she really is a pro. This song is great to drive to with the volume up, but it would also find a home in any club or, perhaps, bedroom. While Miss Krystle certainly has her own, unique style, fans of Kylie Minogue and similar artists may really enjoy “Wild Like Fire” and other songs off this EP.

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

Better Than You Think

On top of Miss Krystle’s self-assuredness and self-knowledge of her more primal urges and experiences, she also covers those more intimate feelings that often accompany physical connections between lovers. “Better Than You Think” is a love ballad of sorts, reminiscent of a modern Shakespearean sonnet in its lyrics. The symbolism and imagery in this song are quite powerful, from “collecting stars like fireflies, I’ve never felt this much alive, living the life before we die, and we return back to the sky,” to “baby the altitude is fine, on this journey, you and I, watching auroras hypnotize, getting lost deeper in your eyes.” The romantic notions in this song would melt even the coldest of hearts.

Photo Credit: Larry Alan

As much as many of us know that the only person we can truly rely on in this universe is ourselves, Miss Krystle explores feelings most of us have felt before. She shows a serene vulnerability, acknowledging the dangers but also the securities that can come out of relying on another beautiful soul for sustenance. Someone else to share this journey, and the wonders of the universe, with, as she serenades us with “and if I burn up on reentry, I knew you’d want to be here with me, you knew that one last kiss could save me, floating with you for eternity… everything’s good as long as you’re here with me.” Miss Krystle takes us on an odyssey to space, giving us “galactic goosebumps everyplace” as we cruise “on highway milky way.”

Just as Miss Krystle explores these elements of our humanness, she also explores how the best intimate relationships involve two souls coming together, knowing more about each other than they may let on. Indeed, Miss Krystle shows that she knows us better than we think that she knows us, as our human experiences are similar to one another despite their singularity. In fact, through her work, Miss Krystle may also reveal how she may know herself better than she thinks that she knows herself.

Erase You

While many of us can relate to the feelings Miss Krystle explores in “Better Than You Think”, some of us may have unfortunately experienced some emotions and experiences that are quite antithetical to that beauty. “Erase You” is a song that explores the darker side of love, when we find ourselves in a relationship that ends up being something we were not quite expecting. Still, Miss Krystle’s penchant for self-examination and metacognition still shines through brightly in the lyrics. “I never understood your distance, I thought I got it right, but now you’re gone and I’m alone.” Anyone who has been through something like this can empathize with how painful this situation is.

Miss Krystle counters this betrayal with self-empowerment, starting the song with a vigorous mantra: “You’re in the presence of a Goddess, but you forgot to bow, and now I got my eyes up on the blade I’ll use to take you out.” She continues with some conflicting lines later in the song, showing the sort of infighting and uncertainty our spirits must endure in terrible times such as this treachery of love. As she struggles with these feelings, she shares her efforts to forget: “You can hand it over, no more staying sober, I drink it away to erase you. I need to escape what you put me through. I drink it away to erase you.”

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

While coming to terms with reality and coping mechanisms, Miss Krystle also explains some positive strategies for her situation: “So you thought you’d be a martyr, and leave me with your sin, but little did you know, I gave it up before your words began… I’m glad you’re gone and I’m alone, so I can go and live my life.” While all is fair and love and war, this war takes no prisoners, and the cost is high.

Despite Miss Krystle’s best efforts, she is only human, and the song ends with more of this battle still to be fought. “If I could just wake up with you next to me, everything would be just how I need it to be. I don’t want to feel all this pain, don’t want to be alone. I need you to feel the same, and get your arms back around me.” These heart-wrenching lyrics make it apparent that there are no happy endings in the real world, but we all have the power to make it through as stronger versions of who we used to be.

Anything

From the second “Anything” begins playing, it is difficult to not imagine it being played while a model walks down the runway, or while a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race lip syncs for her life. The beat really gets the blood flowing, and it is great to drive or work out to. It’s nearly impossible to not feel sexy and powerful while “Anything” plays, so “why you actin’ so shy?” Miss Krystle shows us something that will make our hearts bleed, so we “best be getting ready” because she’s gonna get us rockin’ steady. While it may be hard to focus, Miss Krystle helps us learn to “live it up.”

Relevant

The song “Relevant” was saved for the end of the EP, and for good reason. “Relevant” is rife with self-awareness and introspection, and it is clear this song is very personal for Miss Krystle. However, it also serves as a reminder to the rest of us to let go of where we began “and be reborn in the wake of it.” These lyrics are quite relevant to the theme of symbolic rebirth, and it is also quite fitting for Phoenix, Arizona.

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

Miss Krystle also reminds us to “feel at home in the place” we’re in, and to “never mind the storm.” Our dreams will keep us warm. We all struggle to become relevant while traversing our own paths through this life, and “we constantly test our innocence.” Likely pulling from her own experiences, she reminds us of the ultimate cost of giving parts of ourselves away in order to reach our goals: “May our broken halos serve as evidence; pieces of our souls for percentages.” As she states proudly, “I’m holding on to me.” We all may get a little lost on the way, but we must always remember who we are and where we came from.

Continuing this philosophical journey through personal trials and tribulations, Miss Krystle explores how “we all wanna be somebody,” but in the end, “all we really need is somebody… down to make us feel we’re relevant now.” Perhaps that somebody is a lover, a family member, or a friend; that somebody may even be ourselves, especially when the path becomes increasingly treacherous, or when the storm becomes too tempestuous. To quote Miss Krystle, “At the end of the day, all we are really looking for is someone to make us feel like we matter. My message is that the only person who should make you feel relevant and loved is ultimately you.”

Closing Thoughts

Don’t forget, “we make our own strength, we make our own peace,” and we really are so strong. “We can do this.” We are all a part of history, but Miss Krystle and her new EP Inevitable have certainly found a comfortable home in modern popular culture. As we all enjoy these 6 sublime songs, we also wait with bated breath for future releases from Miss Krystle. Hers is a flame we do not want to go out, as she brings a lot of light to this oft dark world.

Photo Credit: Tony Mandarich Creatives

(Top featured photo by Tony Mandarich Creatives)

 

REVIEW: DaDadoh + The P.o.C. “You Can’t Rap Forever” EP Release at The Trunk Space 9-25-17

  • 41
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    41
    Shares

DaDadoh - Photo Credit: Lnin Oo
DaDadoh
Photo Credit: Lnin Oo | Editor: Katherine Amy Vega
© All Rights Reserved

PHOENIX — With an Arizona summer solar-powered surge of ambition, Tempe-based Alternative HipHop artist DaDadoh started recording the 6-track You Can’t Rap Forever in June of this year. In only four months between then and the release show, he worked with a perfectionistic fervor to re-work and refine his songs that had already proven popular. Regardless of unwavering confidence in the songs he’s written, DaDadoh honed his insatiable appetite for challenging himself to accomplish beyond what he thought feasible before. In fact, he mixed and mastered the album, and performed all of the songs including all of the instrumentals, himself. The result was reaching the same kind of new heights as an artist that he is regularly helping other artists achieve as a music producer with his record label TVLiFE Entertainment.

Although You Can’t Rap Forever is a cohesive addition to DaDadoh’s discography, the release brings a fresh sound that comes with his growth and evolution as an artist and a person. Lyrically, he continues to cleverly inject commentary into his verses, using music as his platform to have a voice in matters. Steering away from his cocky, comedic, and sex-saturated themes of the 2016 release Radical, he takes a more sober tone, and channels angst into his music. The new release is both melodic, and infused with punk rock. The album feels sincere and intense – like it’s made of his very soul. Get ready to get f*cked up when you dive in.

You can buy You Can’t Rap Forever on Bandcamp as a digital download only, or with a physical copy in CD format: Here

SLIDESHOW

Click Arrows to Scroll Images

DaDadoh & The P.o.C. - The Trunk Space 9-25-17

View Album in Separate Window

While DaDadoh is a charismatic (and somewhat-eccentric) staple in the Phoenix local music scene, he isn’t one to boast; despite the fact that one might consider him a hiphop-flavored renaissance man. If you’re not familiar with his projects and you’re reading this now, it might have taken some online sleuthing to discover that on top of his solo project and music production, he also hosts “Before The Show: The Podcast,” and is a member of bands including Exxxtra Crispy and Militia Joan Hart. And during the four months leading up to the EP release, he helped local musicians even further by recruiting 3 live band members – now known as The P.o.C. – Andy Warpigs (Guitar & Vocals), Jimmie Lewis (Bass), and Daviid Giiron (Drums).

The more you learn about DaDadoh, the more you come to understand that he passionately pours 100% into his artistic projects, and how important the community is to him. Although this release show was his time to shine, his gratitude for his new bandmates, and all of the fans and media people swarming around The Trunk Space venue, was no secret; nor was their willingness and enthusiasm to support his release show – and THAT reciprocal community is what Burning Hot Events is all about.

Catch DaDadoh’s next show,
with Amuck, Wait for the Sun, & TOSO,
at Rogue Bar on October 10!

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

DaDadoh + The P.o.C. – Trunk Space 9-25-17

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

All Content © Kataklizmic Design.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No Stealing

REVIEW: Say Anything’s New Album “I Don’t Think It Is”

  • 28
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    28
    Shares

Artist: Say Anything
Album: I Don’t Think It Is
Release Date: February 5, 2016

Like every Say Anything album, “I Don’t Think It Is” lays it’s cards on the table from the first note of the raucous intro “Give A Damn”, and sets the tone for a strong outing that is at once a return to form and a massive leap in sheer willingness to push their songs beyond any easily categorizable structure. Lyrically, the song showcases Max Bemis’ traditional vitriol toward both himself and his critics. However, the song structurally revolves around a much more lo-fi garage rock vibe than has ben shown in any previous Say Anything album. This burst of high energy post-punk stems directly from the influence of members from bands such as The Blood Brothers, At The Drive-In, and Mutemath; as they each provide their own unique take on the tried and true Say Anything formula. Since the release of “In Defense Of The Genre”, Say Anything as a band has evolved into a collective of sorts with Max Bemis at the helm. Whether through a slew of special guest features (“In Defense Of The Genre”) or a bold decision to release an album without any guitarist (“Hebrews”), Bemis’ creativity and unhinged passion always shine brightest when he surrounds himself with his peers and idols.

Perhaps the most impressive feat this album manages to pull off is a return to the bold sassiness, hilarity, and angst that characterized the early albums without coming across as an awkward old man trying to rekindle the sound of his youth. Above all, there is a refreshing burst of anger on this release that could only be created by an artist who simply does not give a damn what critics, fans, or anyone other than himself thinks about the songs he has crafted. Perhaps this mindset is what allowed for the much talked about collaboration with Kanye West wherein Bemis and West sat down and listened to one another’s at-the-time unreleased albums together and each other.

As with all things Say Anything, there really is no way to truly ever separate truth from facetiousness unless you were actually present for any of the events, but it is very difficult not to notice parallels between the two artists. “Goshua” in particular sounds like an indie B-Side of the “Yeezus” album, and is the moment the album became a masterpiece. “We’re divided by a wavering expression. And I drink too much to cut the tension. You think I live for attention? Man, look what I do for a pension.” is a verse that could have just as easily shown up during “Black Skinhead”, and shows a bravado noticeably missing from the previous two albums. Max Bemis is confronting his own creativity with every line and through doing so manages to save Say Anything by simply returning to what he does best, brutally and comedically self-deprecating his own shortcomings and successes. In short, Say Anything managed to succeed where “Life Of Pablo” fell short.

A surprise release full of bravado and grandeur that actually delivered on the self-congratulatory hype of it it’s creator.

Check out our review and photos of Say Anything’s concert!
REVIEW: Say Anything Brings It to Tempe 4-22-16

BUY ALBUM