Brian Fallon & The Crowes
Thursday, February 18th
Ace of Spades; Sacramento, CA
Review by Bryce Hoffman
From the early days of The Gaslight Anthem, to his various side projects, Brian Fallon and the musicians he surrounds himself with have always managed to give respectful nods to the classics, while adding in their own attitude and style to the mix. While we still have to wait a few weeks for his solo album, the singles he has released have proved that not much has changed in that regard.
To say I was excited for his set last week in Sacramento is a dramatic understatement. Like many others, I was introduced to The Gaslight Anthem through the success of their debut single “The ’59 Sound”, from their sophomore album of the same name, back in the summer of 2008. While they’ve toured and come close to my area in the past, I hadn’t been able to catch them. This was my first time seeing any semblance of The Gaslight Anthem/Molly and The Zombies/The Horrible Crowes, and it was well worth the wait.
Everything in Transit Tenth Anniversary Tour
Thursday, February 4th 2016
The Royale; Boston, MA
Review and photos by Eric Riley
A few months back, I was lucky enough to cover the Wilderness Politics Tour when it rolled through Albany. LOLO was wonderful, New Politics crushed it, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness was as great as ever. Writing up my review for that show, I almost got carried away with talking about my undying love for Everything in Transit. But, I contained myself. This time around, however, I feel a pretty good rant building up. So strap in.
I wasn’t all that subtle last time around when I was talking about how impressive this record is. Nor have I ever been very subtle when talking about how impressive this record is. It isn’t just the flawlessness of it, and it isn’t just the story surrounding it. It’s not about how I felt when I first heard it, nor is it about how well it holds up (Hell, it’s probably even better a decade later). It’s all of these things and then some; it’s about all of these things coming together for one final run.
Money’s Jamie Lee is certainly not a stranger to self-doubt. The band’s second album, Suicide Songs, wears it on its sleeve. Literally—the album cover is a picture of the band’s singer with a knife stabbing into his forehead, not to mention its overwrought title. But despite lyrics that reflect the Manchester native’s neuroses, the band’s work shows a confidence that outstrips any worries Lee or his mates may have about their own worth. They take an ambitious swing, and it pays off.
Money had a debut album in 2013 that did an impressive job of sounding as epic as an indie band of Money’s stature (and, *ahem*, with their lack of actual money) could. They sounded like a normal-sized band with the kind and amount of instruments fledgling indie rock bands normally get their hands on, playing them with a bunch of studio tricks to make them sound bigger and more momentous than they are. They fit into a trend that’s not uncommon but definitely not unfortunate—rock bands that use digital studios and artificial reverb to create a wall of sound instead of through the cramped recording style that Phil Spector and other analog wizards worked hard to make.
Full of regrets and recollections of heartbreak, Boroughs’ self-titled release is an honest, introspective look at internal dialogue during hard nights. Though this description may make the EP seem dismal, there’s an underlying theme of hope in each of the tracks on the six-song release.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Brighton Music Hall; Boston, MA
Review and photos by Kara Kokinos
Last Wednesday, LOLO took the stage at Brighton Music Hall in Boston, bringing a solid set of power ballads and dance jams. Her set started off with the angry, heartbreak driven “Heard It From A Friend,” Donning a fur coat, the petite singer belted her lungs out, welcoming the enthusiastic crowd forward. If you are unfamiliar with the singer, her 2013 video for the song is a fantastic introduction. Rhythmic and self-driving, the track carries the same energy across live. And if her killer voice seems familiar, you have probably heard it on Panic! At The Disco’s, “Miss Jackson,” “Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries,” as well as the original cast recordings of “Spring Awakening”.
Now in the fifth installment of the Panic(!) at the Disco story, we’ve seen the changes the band has made from album to album, tweaking everything and anything – sound, image, theme, roster (though that last one can’t change much further). This time around, after visiting everything from cirque-pop to psychedelic marching band to dark cabaret and everything in between, Urie and Co. give us one of 2016’s first noteworthy albums by delving into a brand new chapter – matrimony.
With the first notes of the caffeinated chant-along “Victorious,” Death of a Bachelor starts quick and sharply. Followed by “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time,” the pair risk canceling each other out. I enjoy champagne as much as the next guy, but hearing it sung in back-to-back choruses is a bit sobering. On their own, both are fun and catchy, though playing them in succession takes some of the buzz away from each.
They’re young and they are definitely rising, at least in popularity. Up-and-coming band Young Risings Sons is keeping to their style of heavy drum work and creative arrangements. The band’s debut EP, The High, received high praise with hits like “High,” which was featured in a Pepsi commercial, and “King of the World.” With their new found success, the band has refined their latest EP, The Kids Will Be Fine, for a more radio-friendly sound and melancholic lyrics. The five new tracks definitely feature some highlights, but there is still polishing to do for the perfect set of songs for their next record.
While Young Rising Sons has the characteristics of any other alternative band trying to make it big, the unique vocal arrangements make the quartet stand out from the pack. I have high appraisal for lead singer Andy Tongren. The consistency that Tongren carries in his tone melds perfectly with the acapella-style chorus on tracks like “Somebody” and “F**ked Up.” The layered vocals stay in the background with Tongren’s voice at the forefront. This is certainly a different way to approach a chorus in a rock song.
The California band Yellow Red Sparks exude a fresh new perspective on the indie-folk genre. The duo, Joshua Hanson and Sara Lynn Nishikawa, emit a joyful and quirky vibe that immediately caught my ear from the start; they don’t hesitate to embrace a full range of instruments making them sound much bigger than themselves.
Yellow Red Sparks takes the core of the classic folk genre and runs with it to make it their own in this EP through elements of an upbeat and whimsical ambiance that is contagious. Paired with the lightness of their music, comes with some seriously melancholy and heart wrenching lyrics.
Some people have those voices I could listen to for hours and never get tired of hearing. There’s something about the scratchiness or smoothness in the way he or she sings that floods my eardrums with goodness.
Jaeger Wells has a smooth voice that oozes out a feel-good sound. Wells, an indie singer-songwriter, recently released his new EP Forever Dream Anthology produced by The Early November’s Ace Enders. This 5-track EP made me feel like I was transported to and from different points in time.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Trade Winds Social Club; Dallas, TX
Review and photos by Natalie Gaul
Trade Winds Social Club, by definition, is a dive bar. It’s small, it’s a local favorite, it kind of has a certain smell to it, and it’s perfect for an intimate performance. I make my way over to the area where Jaeger Wells would soon be winning Dallas over with his unique voice and amazing songwriting and start setting up my camera. As I’m playing with the settings, Jaeger comes over and introduces himself to me and sits down for a small chat. As we are talking, I get to learn things that I would never have guessed. For instance he is from Maine, he has moved all over the DFW area and has settled in Houston, and the Granada Theater in Dallas is one of his favorite venues. I also learned that he is a humble guy who is 100% about his fans.
Every artist strives to make a connection with their listeners; the fine line between success and failure can be just that, a connection. New York based alternative-soul duo Brent Carpentier and Nicholas Goncalves fully wrote, produced and recorded their newest EP titled War Out There.After taking a break from music, it’s a definite improvement from the bands earlier released mixtape , yet it still lacks that connection that they long to make with their listeners.
Icarus the Owl first took the pop-punk world with their signature technical style. After taking the time to refine their music and work with their new label [Blue Swan Records], the band has released their fourth album, Pilot Waves, which takes on a more clear-cut sound but keeps with their signature instrumental intricacy. The album provides what lead singer Joey Rubenstein calls, “a mental landscape.” The tracks are a mixture of heavy and light songs that maintain Icarus the Owl’s pristine quality, one that keeps the old fans coming back for while inciting newer fans.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Music Hall of Williamsburg; Brooklyn, NY
Written by Jon Hecht
What does it take to fill a room with music?
A good publicist can fill it with people, and good equipment can fill it with noise—loud, aching noise, that bubbles up from your toes and into your ribs; epic, unsettling noise that you hear in your tongue and your skull just as much as your ears; angry, throbbing noise that passes right through you and disturbs the air behind your body. But there’s more to it than that.
The crowd at HEALTH was into it. They danced. They screamed and cheered. They let the synthetic feedback being pumped at unholy decibel levels from the amplifiers on the stage move through them. They did what a crowd does at a really good show. They turned the noise coming out of the speakers into music.
HEALTH is a band that understands noise. They come from years of playing it. They started with guitar feedback and screeches, experimenting with getting rid of songs and all the things that normally turn collections of sounds into “music.” They fell into a category of early-aughts experimental music that made them comparable to Black Dice and Battles, that seemingly thought that the problem with “noise-rock” heroes like Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine was that pesky rock getting in the way of the screeching.*
Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, New Politics and LOLO
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Upstate Concert Hall; Clifton Park, NY
Review and photos by Eric Riley
I’ll be the first to admit that, going into Saturday night’s show, I was already bringing a pretty big bias along. An opener with a serious buzz surrounding her, a co-headliner that has become an international sensation, and a top-billed artist who has consistently been one of my favorites since before high school. So, yeah, it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get me there.
Working a 7am-3pm shift isn’t normally a huge deal, but when there’s a show at 6:00, it becomes a little tiring. So, the idea of stopping for coffee beforehand seemed like a good one. However, the power-nap that I took in the small gap of time between the two ran a bit longer than expected and I had to skip the Starbucks run. Rushing inside just as opener LOLO took the stage, I was able to get into the photo pit after only missing her entrance and a few seconds of her first song. During her set, I kept thinking of how disappointed I would have been had a Tall White Chocolate Mocha made me late enough to keep me from watching her perform. (Also, I specified what I typically order just in case anybody decides they feel like treating me, just saying).
I’m a sucker for concept records.
The focus that goes into them, the sort of tunnel-vision writing that it takes to continue with one constant story or theme, it’s always such an interesting approach and it’s one that I and my oft-scattered thought patterns commend. Though it’s not a new idea whatsoever, it’s one that always stands out when it makes an appearance.
Nashville’s Clay Cages returned this year for their sophomore EP The Lenses We See Life Through, a five-chapter representation of one’s progression throughout stages of life.