Archive for 2007

Stereoside – So Long

Jessica DePineuil

Out of Ocala, Florida, Stereoside is a four-piece band of radiant musicians with a knack for crafting music that etches itself into the mind. Jeff Shields (lead singer), David Oliver (bassist), Chris York (drummer), and Ben Foster (guitarist/vocalist) contribute their own unique styles to Stereoside, together creating a sound that is both recognizable and individual. After signing with Bieler Bros. Records in March of 2006, Stereoside released their debut album with Jeff Shields, So Long.

Anyone who has witnessed Stereoside’s superior performances in their shows can look forward to the same emotion-rich music on So Long. As “Sinner” is played on radio stations around the country, listeners should expect to hear many more hits from this album in the near future: Yes, So Long is packed with such radio-ready songs.

“Too High” starts the album with fire and force. One can literally feel the driving intention and emotion of each of the band members. In this song, Stereoside’s capabilities of creating musical masterpieces are made obvious, and Jeff’s vocal talent sends the already-amazing instrumentals to soaring heights. “Too High” is a track that necessitates driving with cruise-control and steering with your knees, while strumming away on your air guitar of choice and banging your fists on the dashboard.

The second track is “So Long,” and if listeners didn’t get enough of a head-nodding anthem from “Too High”, they’ll be sure to have no regrets in buying this album by the end of track number two. “So Long” is bursting with the same reproachful emotion that the first track featured, and though it would seem difficult to follow “Too High” with a song just as praise-worthy, Stereoside makes it happen. This is the next song I anticipate hearing on the radio and watching growing numbers of fans sing along to. With the intensity of York’s drum lines and Foster’s guitar, “So Long” possesses that exceptional sound destined for jam-packed concert floors.

“Sinner” demonstrates Shields’ true vocal talent and Stereoside’s ability to exemplify what perfected music should be. It’s no wonder that this track is already a radio hit; every instrument is tightly woven into “Sinner”, and one couldn’t possibly find a single replacing note or chord that would improve this track. These guys know how to write music that’s strung together flawlessly, and “Sinner” is full of remarkable instrumentals without being excessive or overcrowding the song itself.

Track number four is “Tattoo”. Stereoside’s southern-rock influences are confirmed in this track with squealing guitar solos and Shields’ penetrating vocals typical of the subgenre. The focus in this track is sound, as the lyrics aren’t “to die for.” All in all, “Tattoo” is a good quality addition to the album, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the first three tracks.

“Wasted” is one of the songs on this album that more sensitively describes heartbreak. Stereoside’s softer instrumentals accentuate the message of this song, and Shields’ melodic vocals efficiently express love-related anguish. Though heartrending, “Wasted” is one of my favorites on So Long. This track is yet another display of Stereoside’s talent in changing things up a bit without losing their distinguishing sound.

The sixth track is titled “Ain’t So Bad,” and is one more song that will beat through listeners’ veins just as “Too High” and “So Long” do. Stereoside has an inherent ability to change rhythm and tone so impeccably and smoothly, and this precision is recognizable in “Ain’t So Bad.”

“Always Remember” is a song of encouragement for those in “battle,” whether as soldiers or as regular people going through difficulties in life. The lyrics are somewhat repetitive, but that repetitiveness and the drums’ imitation of battle marches add to the theme of this track: staying strong when you feel like giving up.

“My Life,” is a catchy, up-beat song marked by positivity, which is felt through every change in tempo and intensity. This track is one to add to the list of favorites for its unique qualities that are difficult to find in mainstream rock’s genre-specific sound.

Another track rich in love and heartbreak is “On and On.” This song is beautiful in every instrumental piece, especially Foster’s guitar. Shields’ voice is incredible in its softer tones as well, and ladies will undoubtedly fall in love with Shields and Stereoside as a whole through this sensitive, love-struck track.

“It’s Not My Day” brings So Long back to its hard rock roots. Shields’ vocal range is again brought forth in his ability to vocally climb to astonishing highs and drift back down to rich, melodious lows. Foster, Oliver, and York work beautifully together in bringing this track to a perfect instrumental harmony that’s hard to come by when each instrument is so distinct and clear. “It’s Not My Day” will surely be another radio hit from this album.

“Little Pill” adds to the album’s theme of love and drug-related heartbreak. While the lyrics could use a little help, they don’t detract from the beauty of this song. This track is definitely the slowest on So Long, and, as can’t be said enough, Shields’ voice is beauty at its greatest. Stereoside transitions well from hard rock anthems to slower, more heartfelt tunes, and their versatility in creating damn-good music is commendable.

The last track on the album is “On Our Way,” which features more of a blues/southern rock feel as a reminiscent tribute to the rock n’ roll heroes of the past. Just as in “Little Pill,” the lyrics aren’t great, but Stereoside still manages to pull off including them, through the band’s clean intensity in the instrumentals and Shields’ vocals.

So Long is an album to put on your must-buy list. Stereoside’s music features a familiar, yet still unique, sound not typical of today’s mainstream rock. Jeff Shields, Ben Foster, David Oliver, and Chris York form a band with true talent, and So Long is a must-hear album filled with songs to sing along to and get to know by heart.

http://www.myspace.com/stereoside

http://www.stereoside.com

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Xerus – “…this impossible everything”

Jazz Babbage

From Minneapolis, Minnesota, Xerus is an extremely original band of three: Michael Townsend Letsinger (vocals/guitar/songwriter), Travis Washnieski (drums), and Scott Sachs (bass guitar). “…this impossible everything” on SkinCell Record Group is Xerus’ second album, preceded by “Wrath of Ra” which included number one hit on New Artist Radio, “Easy Pieces.”

Slipping “…this impossible everything” into my CD player, I was surprised at the intro, “Recoil.” The a cappella track starts quietly and calmly, with lyrics touching on the end of the world, politics, and relationships. Soon, the proposed meaning of this track gets jumbled and covered by screeching and deep vocal rambling: disharmony at its greatest. I listened on with a smile on my face, thinking this would be a comical band, purposefully comical, that is.

The rest of the album featured the same whirlwind of disharmony. I will say that most of the tracks start out crisp and fresh in the instrumentals. The guitar, drum, and bass lines fit well together. The music isn’t terrific, but it is somewhat harmonious and almost pleasing to the ears. In just about every song a funky guitar riff sets a mood of amusement and enjoyment until Letsinger’s vocals come in and disturb the flow of the track. “Invisible Excuse,” “Sacra-Official,” and “Full Circle” are three tracks that I was pleased with in their early moments, but disappointed with as soon as the vocals were introduced. Neither the band as a whole nor its vocalist has a clear, defined sound, and this is demonstrated in the rough changes in tempo and Letsinger’s constant variations in tone of voice. The songs lack synchronization and present themselves as a bunch of notes and beats crammed into a track with off-key vocals.

Without regard to the previous tracks, my favorite track on “…this impossible everything” is the last one, “Another Friday.” This upbeat, fast-paced song got my attention, as it is about having an orgy with friends. Letsinger’s crazy vocals fit so much better in comical music, and I enjoyed this song for its absurdity.

M.T. Letsinger’s voice, and Xerus collectively, have potential to be admirable once they discover their sound. In an industry full of mainstream music that tends to blend identities, Xerus does “sound unlike most everything else you have heard.”

http://www.Xeruslives.com http://www.myspace.com/xerus

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Ko-Lija

Tim Black

I had the pleasure of getting to see the band Ko-lija on September 9th, at the Government Street Grocery in Ocean Springs. I had never been to the Grocery before and was quite taken with the friendliness of the staff and shocked by how small the venue is. There was a benefit show going on that I never quite heard the reason for and several bands played before Ko-lija. When you first look at the guys in Ko-lija standing on the stage you can’t help but wonder what type of music they might play. These are guys that are more worried about comfort than impressing people with their fashion sense. As they kicked in to their first song you could hear the zeppelin-esque guitar lines and the southern influences pour from the music. The singer, Matt Hudnall, was quite entertaining to watch and listen to in between songs. His voice belied his age and size and his “dancing” during the songs was surprisingly rhythmic. The band itself ran the gamut of song variety from Clutch to The Charlie Daniels band and back again to their own original music. The song Big **** hat had a great feel and was indicative of the bands sense of humor and ability to enjoy their music without taking themselves too seriously. I enjoyed the dobro and harmonica and the guitar player had a decent grasp on the use of the wah pedal. While having a good time and enjoying themselves, Matt took a moment out to dedicate a song to a friend that was lost the day before. As he explained to the crowd what had happened with Stephanie Koll he was quite serious and obviously shaken. His choice of songs was quite appropriate; Live forever by Billy Joe Shively. Few people take the time out of their rock star lives to think of others and I was impressed with how open Matt was with his feelings. Ko-lija over all is not the band you want to go see if you want flash and the usual circus tricks you get from other bands. What you will get however, is a band that truly enjoys music, playing in front of people and has the ability to be themselves at all times. Be sure to request Long haired country boy and sing along…the song is a perfect example of how Ko-lija live and play.

Ko-Lija on Myspace

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Thunder’s Tavern Welcomes Waitin’ On Jake

Jessica DePineuil

On Friday, August 7th, 2007, I made last-minute plans to catch Waitin’ On Jake at their first Thunder’s Tavern show. Days prior, I’d looked up the band’s Myspace page after Marc mentioned them coming to Pascagoula to play that weekend, and from the sound of the band’s music on their stand-alone player to the high energy easily displayed in their photos, I was eager to check them out.

I arrived at Thunder’s Tavern as Waitin’ on Jake were finishing their sound check. The first thing I noticed was the professionalism the band and crew demonstrated as they adjusted their sound with incredible diligence. What I didn’t expect from them was the volume intensity the sound check foretold. I was slightly hesitant about how loud they were, but being in a cheerful mood, I was forgiving and still anxious to see them start the show.

For a Friday night, the Tavern’s crowd was small, but the band assumed position on the stage with smiling faces, as if they were playing for hundreds. They introduced themselves and jumped right into their first set. I was taken aback at how clear and precise their covers were in both instrumentals and vocals. The guys of Waitin’ on Jake collectively bring forth a standout style of performance, and still every song they played was perfectly mastered. From modern rock chart-toppers such as Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” to Cameo’s “Word Up” hit from 1986, Waitin’ on Jake catered to every musical taste and gave us all songs to sing along to.

Front man Justin’s vocal power really made each song come alive, and with Ra’s strong drum performance, Dave’s vigorous guitar riffs, and Aubrey’s energetic bass lines, the band gave the crowd that night a reason to party. My previous apprehensiveness about the band’s volume had been drastically proven false. Waitin’ on Jake is one of the strongest, most energetic bands I’ve seen, and their intensity was very well complemented by powerful sound.

All in all, Waitin’ on Jake brought Thunder’s Tavern an exciting, electrifying experience. Thanks, guys, for putting on a true show for us, and please…

Play it LOUD!

From here, visit Waitin’ on Jake’s Myspace and the Waitin’ on Jake website . To view pictures from the show, click here.

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Band Members: Willis Garrett, Brad Lepik, Craig Ricci

According to Alternative Press, if you like THE PIXIES, SUPERCHUNK or THE WEDDING PRESENT, you’ll love the Tiles, while Rock Sound, out of London, boasts “NIRVANA and THE PIXIES influence every nuance of this fuzzy punk album… [the songs] bob along merrily, infused with enthusiastic melodies amid the roughly-hewn guitars.” Maximum Rock ‘N Roll drew comparisons to THE PIXIES, PAVEMENT, and ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE, hailing the Tiles as one of the best of 2005 and raving “A great blend of indie and post punky pop.” The critically acclaimed Exit Magazine out of London went so far as to name the Tiles’ debut, PLEASE, one of the best since 2000, beating out INTERPOL, BRIGHT EYES, and THE SHINS

Composing stripped down, rhythm driven songs layered with inventive, melodic pop hooks and evocative lyrics, the Tiles meld pop and punk to create the self described pseudo-pop sound that has established them not only as one of the best indie bands of today, but quite possibly of all time. At least thats what Craig Ricci, singer/guitarist of the Tiles, will tell you. But the Tiles are far more than masters of their own make-believe genre; the Tiles are an ambivalent post-modern love story put to music. Comprised of Craig Ricci, Willis Garrett, and Brad Lepik, the Tiles formed sometime during the middle of 2003 in Mobile, Alabama. Decidedly unaccomplished musicians, the three focused on writing edgy minimalist pop songs reminiscent of bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Pixies, and Superchunk.. However, combined with the almost reluctant delivery of Riccis distinctive voice, the Tiles quickly realized a sound all their own, a sound they termed pseudo-pop. Ricci explains: pseudo-pop is anti-pop meets pure pop; non-mainstream pop music – in other words, pop music without the popularity. The Tiles first release, a five song, self-recorded E.P. entitled PROOF, however, proved to be anything but unpopular. On its face, PROOF might have been nothing more than a stylized and charismatic collection of five loosely connected songs. However, if the Tiles were a book, PROOF would have been its inspired introduction. The essential sound was all there Riccis reticent, strained whine of a voice and sparse but catchy guitaring, Garretts compelling, nearly addictive bass lines, and Lepiks persistent and driving rhythm but with only five songs, PROOF was merely a sampling of what was to come. Recorded over the summer of 2004 by the legendary Steve Albini (the Pixies, SURFER ROSA; Nirvana, IN UTERO), the Tiles first studio album, PLEASE, would fulfill PROOFs promise of what was to come. Boasting 13 songs, the album opens with the instant standout Release Me, a cryptic collection of pop cultural references and vague observations delivered, through the production of Steve Albini, with a supercharged edge not present on PROOF. Parking Lots follows, a strangely outdated and yet, at once, timeless hit remindful of Blondies one time single, Dreaming. As if recognizing this, Ricci unashamedly concedes in the opening verse, I stole another chord I heard Im sure. Still other highlights include A Better Way, a deceptively energetic and upbeat ride through the subtle misery of emotional confrontation, and Elisabeth Smile, perhaps the most uplifting song ever written about the despair of deaths inevitability. It is, however, the fourth track, It Ends This Way, that positively soars. An uncertain mix of romantic optimism and cynicism, It Ends This Way displays the Tiles at their very best, transitioning with ease between moments of nervous disconnection to an ending of almost epic proportions; clearly, It Ends This Way is the Tiles first single. Interestingly, however, what may be the albums most telling line comes from the tenth track, Rock Radio, with Ricci admitting, Id rather fall apart than have to fall in line. Of course, only time will tell whetherthe tiles will fall apart or fans will fall in line. But if the initial response is any indication, the line is forming fast.

GCB:.What are your thoughts on the Mobile music scene?

Willis Garrett: Are we still really using that word? The Mobile music scene consists of a number of bands (some good, many more that are bad) and a handful of supportive fans. But I don’t see anything that cohesive about it. There are some stalwart backers of local music who strive against the apathy to get things shaking, but they’re like life support; whenever they decide to stop I’m not sure the “scene” will be able to breathe on its own.

GCB: What was the methodology behind the name The Tiles for your band??

WG: Tiles get laid. It’s that simple. Well, no it’s not. We actually chose the name arbitrarily because it was not already a band name. It elucidates nothing of our character and should merely be enjoyed by its lack of meaning. It is very Dada-esque in that sense.

GCB: Who are your musical influences?

WG: I would say that when we started playing we had an idea of what we wanted to do, but we were utterly amazed at our complete lack of a knack for writing and playing the kind of music we intended to create. At the same time, there was always a gravitational pull towards the sound that we are now known for, and it has since proved futile to attempt to even budge the boundaries. I would say that by this point Craig influences my writing and I his, so we are bound to perpetuate this sound indefinitely.

GCB: Any advice on how to unite local music scenes along the gulf coast?

WG: With such disparate elements, a lack of venues conducive to this goal, and such an overall Je ne m’inquiète pas, I hardly believe it is practicable. However, I do not believe this is a problem for the bands. Promoters, fans, and zine editors should take the reins. We are merely the entertainment.

GCB: What processes do you go through to write songs?

WG: Every one of our songs begins as strictly music. A mere chord progression or bassline is played for the group which is then generally augmented with any number of variations until we have something firmly within our milieu. The lyrics are the final touch and are rarely ever structured or workshopped until we record them. Many of our shows feature newer songs in which the lyrics are ad-libbed or reworked on stage.

GCB: What can you expect from a live show?

WG: An anarchic deconstruction of the genres of Pop and Rock ‘N Roll as you may have come to understand them. And a lot of sweat. Regardless of the crowd there is always a dance party on stage.

GCB: Is there anything special you do to prepare for a show?

WG: When you get to the point that we have arrived at, things are fairly routine. We maintain a rigorous workout schedule to keep our bodies in peak performing condition. Besides running, lifting, and working the heavy bag, this also includes an increased alcohol intake during the week prior to any big show. A low tolerance can set a band up for failure.

GCB: How do you describe your music to people?

WG: We try not to. I feel much more comfortable letting someone else do that. When you wear the hat of musician and the hat of a critic you tend to fall to either the extreme of self-promotion or the extreme of self-deprecation. Plus you’ll have too many damn hats on and you look silly. In order to deal with this common issue we coined the term “pseudo-pop” to describe our sound. It is defined as the point of conjunction between pure-pop and anti-pop. Think of the shared section of a musical Vin diagram.?

GCB: What makes your music “good?”

WG: We are the local masters of great pop songwriting. That may sound hyperbolic, but as far as I can tell no one else is consciously utilizing about 50 years worth of really excellent, standard, pop/rock ‘n roll songwriting techniques in unique new ways. I like to think we achieve this end. Also these three handsome gentlemen are some of the smartest dressers about town and put an energetic show without any pretense or posturing.

GCB:. Who writes your songs, and what are they about?

WG: The band as a unit writes the music, but the lyrics to most of the material, and all of the newest material, are written by Craig. He is by far the most efficient and prolific lyricist and utilizing one voice has finally allowed us to maintain a great deal of unity within our catalog. The Tiles are very bureaucratic in our division of labor and this is but one example. In a post-modern world I’m still wondering what, if anything, our songs are about. Sometimes a fan will let me in on the secret.

www.myspace.com/thetiles

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I want to introduce you guys to a band out of Philadephia that I am really starting to get into.

The Pawnshop Roses have been playing their brand of Americana rock in the Philadelphia area’s top venues for the past few years. In December, they got some national attention when they won the YouTube Underground Contest for Best Live Video and appeared on Good Morning America. Following the YouTube win, the band signed to Earvolution Records and hit the studio.

Their first full length record “Let it Roll” is an Americana rock gem produced by Pete Donnelly of the Figgs (Amos Lee/G-Love/Graham Parker) with a couple song co-arrangements by noted alt-country artist Tom Gillam. Donnelly adds some vocal, guitar and bass backing on a few tracks while Jonn Savannah (Van Morrison, Joe Cocker, Squeeze) sits in for piano on a two tracks as well. The record is being distributed by Home Grown Distribution and is available on all electronic outlets including iTunes. The band has quickly jumped into Home Grown’s top seller list alongside established acts like Spearhead, Phish, Derek Trucks, Xavier Rudd and more.

Listen to some of their music:

Here We Go

The Life We Lead

Pawnshop Roses Myspace

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Google Video – This easy-to-use video sharing site, because it’s owned by Google, is recommended to help get traffic via search traffic on Google.com. It is simple, well organized, and has a huge database of various videos from different categories like comedy, animation, music videos, TV shows, and sports. Look to these different niches and upload your video with related keywords to attract traffic.

YouTube – Also owned by Google, YouTube is the most popular video sharing website in the world. Its colossal database attracts millions of visitors everyday and sharing videos, either via email or web site, is easy. If you upload your content to only one web site, it should be YouTube. Videos may be rated and comments on videos are encouraged.

MySpace – As a musician, you’re probably already using MySpace to promote yourself. Videos uploaded to MySpace may be shared and posted to MySpace profiles other than your own, so take advantage of this by uploading your content and letting your circle of friends know. The majority of bands and musicians on MySpace are not using video, so take advantage of this by claiming your place on personal pages now.

Blip – A great site for video bloggers, users can set up your own “blog” quickly and drive traffic to it by posting videos from several different categories. Because of this, your video needs to be here.

AOL Video – The video section from aol.com contains a large variety of videos from both commercial and non-commercial providers. Very easy to use, due to the simplicity of its design and strong search options, AOL Video easily allows users to find the latest news about their your favorite musicians and bands.

Revver – A video-sharing platform built and committed to the artist, Revver has the best sound and video quality of any video sharing site on this list.

Vimeo – Another free and easy service for sharing videos with friends and family. Recently launched, this website unfortunately does not bring anything new to the table. Still, as part of a complete promotion, it’s a good idea that you post your video here.

MetaCafe – Metacafe is another popular media and video sharing community. Unlike other major video-sharing platforms, Metacafe offers a desktop application, mainly targeted at users who are downloading several videos per week.

Daily Motion – Nothing special here, but worth noting. The videos are sorted in groups, which make it easy to browse and find what you are looking for. Simple by design, Daily Motion contains a numerous variety of videos, from music videos, to non-entertainment topics such as science & technology.

EyeSpot – Not your average video sharing website. Besides a variety of videos EyeSpot offers its users the chance to play with copyrighted media, without having to download elaborate software or learn new skills. This platform will allows you to edit, mix, and remix your favorite videos, photos or music.

Grouper – Dedicated to video-sharing, this website is devoted to three things: watching, creating, and sharing. Just like all the other sites on this list…

JumpCut – Another video-sharing platform that allows you to edit and mix your videos. You can easily upload your videos, photos, and audios, but what’s more interesting is that you can make your own “movie” with Jumpcut editor.

VideoEgg – With a variety of video formats, VideoEgg contains a section where you can easily blog or share your Flash videos. VideoEgg currently has almost 20 million unique viewers each month.

BuzzNet – Primarily for music videos, BuzzNet also gives users access to the latest news in the world of music.

Vmix – This attractive, easy-to-navigate site has several options which are great for promoting independent music. If you like to create your own slide shows, you can get an easy-to-use creator, Photo Jockey 180. Uploading videos is very intuitive, as well.

Blinkx -Blinkx is a video search engine which allows users across the world to search through the entire Web for the videos they want. Users can also browse through a large variety of categories like world news, entertainment, business, sport, and user generated videos.

Veoh – Veoh offers free downloads of all videos posted. There is a section for music videos. Veoh.com is not that special from other video-sharing platforms, but it offers the chance to get the VeohPlayer, so users can download videos from thousands websites and watch them at anytime.

ClipShack – ClipShak is a video-sharing site that looks a lot like YouTube. Not as much popular as YouTube but with the same feedback options. Users can post videos, restrict the videos to a select group, post videos to their blogs, and lastly, have access to Google Maps so that you can map your content and search by location.

vSocial – vSocial enables content owners, site operators, and online marketing organizations to custom brand, target, virally distribute and monetize their message via video.

BigContact – This is a publishing and promotion platform where users may publish audio and video podcasts, customizable streaming mp3 and video sites, news feeds, shareable streaming radio channels, and more. A free FeedPlayer is available dow download, which can play, share, and promote podcasts immediately.

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