In celebration of their latest record hitting shelves yesterday, Shane Told of Silverstein will buy you a beer if you bring their latest album, A Shipwreck In The Sand to any of their shows. You can check out this announcement here.
Check out the latest track from Cobra Starship, “Pete Wentz is the Only Reason We’re Famous” on their myspace here.
Listening back, it’s all to apparent hearing an album from a band that has achieved great heights that they have been bred for success. Whether it be Fall Out Boy’s Take This To Your Grave or Plain White T’s All That We Needed, it’s understandable how bands like these have become so popular; clever songwriting, catchy instrumentation brought them to these heights of musical superstardom. Now as we listen to music in the scene now it’s hard to hear albums that feel classic like the aforementioned, but the latest release from Holiday Parade has made that a little bit less of a sparkle in music’s eyes with their latest release, Tickets & Passports.
The album starts right off with three very strong tracks. The sentimental piano and lyrics of “Getaway” starts the album off just right with light guitars and a steady pace which sets the tone for the rest of the release. The next track is pure pop-punk gold with the song “Turn It Up” which cast reflections of summer and fun will make this fast-paced track the soundtrack to your upcoming summer. Finishing off this trio is “Where Did I Go” which is a very ska influenced track with a fun acoustic guitar beginning and light lyrics.
Something intriguing about Holiday Parade is their focus on piano, while a lot of “piano-rock” bands would be billed as emotional and incredibly solemn at times (ex. Augustana, Something Corporate). Holiday Parade take a very light tone with their use of the piano, having a lot of fun with it. Songs like “Time For Me” and “Forever” have a fun pace and make for a head-bobbing, toe-tapping journey through charm.
Just as the first three tracks of Tickets & Passports were strong indeed, the concluding three are just as strong (if not more). “Look Out Below (This Love)” is a song tailor-made for radio and girl’s hearts everywhere (the use of whistling and acoustic guitar definitely help). The next track “Southern Skies” definitely allows a more somber side of Holiday Parade to show (something lesser found in the beginning of the release), with its rising chorus and reliant lyrics make this song the soundtrack to many a relationship. Finally the title track “Tickets & Passports” is an appropriate piano ballad send-off to the album, casting the swirling piano with strings and a rousing chorus of “Na Na Na’s” makes this song memorable and heartfelt.
Holiday Parade are a band that have a lot to offer, and this album is a great example of how music should be made nowadays, something more on the pop side of life that still holds together its artistic integrity. Not only should they gain a lot of fans through this album, they are all deserved as evidence by this album.
Check out the latest video from This Providence for their song “Letdown” on myspace. After that you can read the review of their latest album here.
Michael Zapruder’s latest album Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope is a masterfully fabricated journey in artistry and experimentation for a solo artist. Already becoming an artist with quite the legacy, he was able to take some questions from Driven Far Off about his album and his career (past, present and future).
Also check out his latest video for “Ad’s For Feeling’s” here.
How did the 52 songs project benefit you? did it help you become a better lyricist having to write a new song each week?
I hope so. 52 Songs was a learning experience for me all around. I spent lots of time in the studio, for example, and I learned to be pretty comfy in that environment. There were lots of specific things like that that I got just from the amount of work I was doing. But the main benefits were really all fundamental. Basically I got to indulge in a lot of ideas that I was curious about but which ultimately were probably trivial. I got to get all my juvenilia out of my system. I got my ya-yas out, and that helped me to approach things more simply and directly, which is a good thing for music and lyrics both.
What was the intended message on Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope you wanted to convey?
I went in to the project with some goals for myself and the record, but it was a method I wanted to use, rather than a message. I wanted to do a wide, diverse group of songs so that the larger group of songs might spin off interesting and unexpected kinds of associations on their own. At one point I conceptualized it as a kind of psychological cubism or something like that – different, unresolved simultaneous things that are still somehow unified. I believe that most of us experience the world that way, and I wanted to try to be true to that when I wrote and made this record. I didn’t want to oversee myself that much. As for what the record conveys, I hope there’s a mysterious and durable thread at the center of the record which people want to keep grabbing for.
During the writing process was there ever a song that ended up making Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope that you immediately knew was going to be there?
There were songs that I felt sure would make one of my records, because I knew I would want to make sure to put them out; but I wasn’t attached to a particular song. Ultimately, I tried to just be realistic about which recordings seemed to be working, and to build the record from those. Of course, if we hadn’t ended up with enough usable songs after the initial session, I’m sure I would have gone back into the studio to keep trying.
How do you feel the idea of a constant stream of music in the industry today has evolved and how something like the 52 song project has moved from an outlandish experiment to a smart career move?
I may be wrong about this, but I think that quality, and not quantity, is what matters. Back when I did 52 Songs I was thinking that if I wrote a song a week for the rest of my life, it would only add up to ten thousand songs or something, and I figured that if I wrote that many, I’d have a good chance of really connecting with something special on a few dozen of them. So it was quantity as a method to get quality. I think as an artist, that’s totally valid, but as a career move, I suspect that the people who move deliberately and who focus on their strengths and who avoid certain creative detours tend to be more successful. Also, I think doing a 52 songs thing as a writing project is great, but adding in the necessity of turning those songs into full-on recordings is probably not the smartest thing. It’s really good to take your time with recording I think. If things happen fast, cool, but if they don’t, it’s good to keep at it until you have a version that really works.
Do you believe there is any artist/group in mainstream music today trying to redefine what they are doing and how people perceive “pop music”? or is it all disingenuous?
Yes, I think many people making records, whether they are mainstream records or indie records (although isn’t indie mainstream now?), are trying to do that. The thing is, at the highest levels, pop music really is just about what people like to listen to. So Prince’s recent forays into conceptual long form funk and jazz, or Wilco’s most recent record with its rather unassuming kind of excellence, may lose their place at the top of the heap the more they deviate from what people expect. In any case, I don’t think it’s all disingenuous at all.
Which song on Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope was the hardest to finish? and why?
Writing-wise, “Can’t We Bring You Home” was hard to finish. I had a bunch of different sets of lyrics for it, and the song form, which is experimental, was hard to decide on. I wanted it to be really unusual without sounding that way, and it took a long time to figure that out. For recording, we worked a lot on “Ads for Feelings” and “Bang on a Drum.”
Listening to your album it’s ambient nature surfaces throughout, do you think more ambient music is overlooked in an industry that values an in-your-face sound?
Well, I’m glad you picked up on that part of the record. Scott Solter and I wanted to use sort of ambient landscapes to make the songs seem finished even if the instrumentation was pretty light. As for whether ambient music is overlooked, I think it’s more that it’s designed to be peripheral. When Eno was in the hospital dreaming it up, the idea was, I’m pretty sure, to make music that would accompany people in their activities without demanding their full attention. So yes I think ambient music is overlooked, but I don’t think it’s the industry’s fault. I think we can all blame Brian Eno for that….
Where would you like to take your music in future releases? Where do you see yourself going artistically?
I’m working on some experimental pop free verse songs that I wrote using as lyrics poems by twenty published mid-career American poets. I love these pieces and expect that to come out sometime within the next year. I’m halfway through recording them. The next record of my own songs is probably going to be more oriented towards directness and energy and a band sound, but no matter what it will be more focused on content than formal experiments. I’ve even considered setting a limit for myself to make a record where none of the songs is slower than 120 bpm. We’ll see about that. In any case, I’d like to make a record that is playable in a live setting, and that is invigorating and cathartic for one and all. And, since I grew up listening to my dad play finger-picking guitar and singing songs, and since I’ve been listening to a lot of Sybll Baier lately, I want to try to record some really mellow stuff like that too.
Is there a certain lyric or a certain song that is especially important or sentimental for you on Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope?
I do like the lyrics on the record a lot. I worked on them for a long time. I’d say the line about staggering out in a horrible speedo always feels somehow relevant to me when I perform it. I also like parts of “Black Wine” a lot. “Harbor Saints” also feels pretty honest and interesting to me. I hope it does for other people too.
In your own opinion what is more important: variety or consistency? Is the risk of alienating fans or failing worth the pursuit of a higher level of art?
I think it’s a balance, and one that I probably don’t really do too well. Ultimately, consistency builds careers, but variety sustains artists, so having a good mix of both seems like the best thing. As for the second question, I’m not sure what a higher level of art is, but I think I do know what its pursuit is like, and yes, I absolutely think it’s worth the risk of alienating fans or failing or whatever else. Perhaps there is a reason why people call creativity a gift (it’s one that I believe we all have, by the way). There is something incredibly fortunate and great about people working, searching for a song or painting or film or anything else, looking for new ways to articulate what it feels like to be alive, what’s important, what should be important, and stuff like that. If you have that in your work, you really have the real thing. The reaction, whether you’re collecting roses thrown on the stage or raking up tumbleweeds on an apocalyptic wasteland, comes after the fact.
Thanks to Michael and Noel from SideCho for helping put this interview together.
According to Jack Barakats twitter, the possibility of All Time Low and Good Charlotte in fall of ’09 is something of speculation for the time being.
Michael Zapruder’s “˜Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope’ and 1090 Club’s “˜Natural Selection’ are out today through SideCho Records.
You can also purchase exclusive New Release Packages through the SideCho Store they include a copy of the album, an exclusive t-shirt, and poster.
Listening to This Providences debut and sophomore efforts (Our Worlds Divorce and their self-titled respectively) it’s hard to believe that they have not risen to the levels of stardom that their unique brand of pop and cocksure attitude would imply them to be at. Now as they prepare to release their third album, Who Are You Now? They are posed to finally break out of that “next big thing” category and propel themselves to the forefront of the music scene.
With the album opener “Sure As Hell” it’s already apparent that This Providence aren’t your average pop band, they have created a formula that allows them to try different things and still come off incredibly charming. “Sure As Hell” for instance begins with a drifting guitar over singer Dan Young’s solemn lyrics; not the most upbeat of beginnings but a great start none the less, showing off their artistic integrity before all else.
It’s obvious in this release that This Providence are trying their best to appeal to the widest audience possible (if it wasn’t apparent from their employment of hook maverick Matt Squire), there are many hits on Who Are You Now? From the first rocking single “Letdown” that uses clever lyrics and catchy guitars to drive it into an obvious single territory. Also songs like “That Girl’s A Trick” and “Selfish” possess the same formula of catchiness that with proper exposure could explode.
Something that This Providence have always used very well is the performance of their bassist. This new album is no exception as bass hooks run rampant, such as in tracks like “Waste Myself” and “Keeping On Without You” use the bass so prominently at times, rather then hiding it in the mix like a lot of bands do. It’s great to hear such appreciation for an instrument that is more often then not overlooked in the music scene nowadays.
Listening to Who Are You Now? it’s hard not to hear some of This Providence’s charm and cocky-while-charming attitude evaporating in comparison to there previous releases. It’s as if they aren’t a band that have had two albums prior to this, but rather a band just showing up on the scene and executing a great release while still feeling unsure of themselves. Although this doesn’t mean This Providence are playing it safe with the same formula, songs like the beautiful “Chasing The Wind” and the experimental “My Beautiful Rescue (Renovated)” show that they are still not afraid to pull off something different even with a different outlook.
If this album was to achieve a certain goal it would probably be to expose This Providence to as many people as possible, an album that has turned this little indie band that could, into a group of artists poised to become bigger then they could have ever hoped for. While this will cause a lot of fans to turn their backs on This Providence and their loss of “indie cred”. It will no doubt bring about new fans that will appreciare This Providence and who they are now.
The year is 2006, and MSTRKRFT’s debut album The Looks was paving the way for MSTRKRFT’s eventual take-over of the club scene by creating an album of infectious instrumentals, great instrumentation, and an insane vibe of: sex, sex, sex (all to apparent in their video for “Easy Love”). Now MSTRKRFT are back in 2009, with their official sophomore release Fist Of God.
The album starts off with opening track “It Ain’t Love” which kicks of with a hardcore synth loop, which is ultimately perfected with the addition of Lil’ Mo on the hook. “It Ain’t Love” feels really fast paced, but the hook allows it to slow down and repel any obnoxious repetitiveness that could be found on this opening track.
The next track “1000 Cigarettes” kicks the album into high gear with a great intro (courtesy of a strong electronically tinged guitar) that leads right into killer drums and synths that make the track undeniably exciting, and adrenaline pumping to the extreme. The tracking is very well placed in that the next song is the obvious single “Bounce” with N.O.R.E. and ISIS compliments, this song is bred to be played in any club all over.
This album is made for all different kinds of people; Even those who are not techno enthusiasts will find themselves humming along to tracks on Fist Of God. It’s hard to deny the catchiness of John Legend’s croon on “Heartbreaker” which changes the idea of techno as it plays with the many instrumental elements, while retaining the certain tenderness of a class R&B tune. While other people who are more into the technical side of techno will truly appreciate tracks like “VuVuVu” and the album’s title track “Fist of God” both bring out a great energy about them, that will undoubtably resonate with the techno crowd.
All in all Fist of God is an album for a lot of different people, there will always be a track on this album that will bring you in and make you enjoy it. It’s hard to deny songs like “So Deep” with their vocal catchiness. Or the gangster vibes courtesy of Ghostface Killah on “Word Up”. This album is a lot more intense and experimental then their debut, while still remaining light weight at times (See: “Breakaway”) It just goes to show that not every single techno artist needs to make ten minute opuses to drum and bass beats to be good. Sometimes all it takes is smart, catchy instrumentation to create a great, fun and enjoyable album made for everyone.
The “Punk Goes…” series has helped pay tribute to many great bands over the years, by re-imagining songs by new artists in the “scene”. The latest edition to the “Punk Goes…” roster is Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2, a release comprising of some of todays biggest hits, interpreted by other great bands.
The album kicks right off into full gear with Alesana’s cover of “What Goes Around Comes Around” by Justin Timberlake. To say that this track took the original song to a heavier level would be an understatement. As strong guitar riffs and screams tear through the track, turning this from sad breakup song to headbanger’s delight.
The next couples tracks power through all different kinds of pop. From Silverstein’s rendition of the “Apologize” turning it into a powerful ballad with a climactic finish. August Burns Red’s cover of “…Baby One More Time”, which transforms Britney Spear’s hit into a thrash-fest of epic proportions.
Some of the strongest tracks on Punk Goes Pop 2 are ones that endure the most drastic changes. “When I Grow Up” by Mayday Parade changes the up-beat track into one that emphasizes the catchiness of the Pussycat Dolls original while lacing it with dark undertones that make it much easier to relate to. Also the strength in Bayside’s “Beautiful Girls” changes the Sean Kingston reggae influenced pop jam into an instrumentally strong and incredibly charming Bayside version. “Disturbia” by The Cab also possess a certain charm, that with The Cab’s strong instrumentation and vocal ability makes this track undeniable and one of the album’s strongest tracks, this rendition could even serve as an official single for The Cab.
As strong as these tracks are, there are some misses to be found on Punk Goes Pop 2. When it comes to some of the more obscure tracks, it truly becomes hit or miss with songs. Breathe Carolina’s version of “See You Again” unfortunately comes off as a bit forced and lacks adrenaline, making the Miley Cyrus version more fast-paced and exciting. Attack Attack’s version of “I Kissed A Girl” has a lackluster techno beat followed by a hardcore breakdown, that just lacks that extra oomph the other tracks possess that could take it from alright cover, to awesome dance jam.
In conclusion, like most cover-based albums with many different artists some tracks will falter (see: Chiodos’ “Flagpole Sitta”), while other tracks will rise above the rest and sometimes will be better then the original (see: A Static Lullaby’s “Toxic”). Overall Punk Goes Pop 2 is a fun, solid offering that will keep the franchise alive for years to come. Here’s to another round of tributes to some of the artists that have and will continue to shape our music scene.