Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Would You Do?

It's time to evaluate your music morality. 

If one of your favorite bands' upcoming record leaked onto the internet a few weeks early, would you listen to it? And moreover, would you still buy it when it was released?

I'm assuming most people would listen to it, and save the few bucks for something else. I'll play the role of saint on this one, though. I admit I try never to listen to leaked albums, and I'll always go out and buy the CD
when it's released. Thus is the case with the upcoming New Found Glory record, Not Without A Fight.

In the beginning of February, NWAF leaked all over the net and killed the ton of anticipation that was surrounding NFG's sixth full-length album. The band don't seem too worried about it though. They actually like the idea of fans responding early to the new music. 

A post by guitarist Chad Gilbert explains their position:
"It is a bumm out that some of the anticipation is lost. the whole building up to release date loses a bit of its excitement but to be honest the fans that would go out of their way to download it are the true fans that go out of their way to buy merch and post online about how much they like it and are the ones that will know the words first and sing every song at the show. You are driven to get it because you like NFG so how can I be bummed at that!"

Well, as much as I respect Gilbert and his band, I'm still going to wait for the CD. That doesn't make me any less of a fan though. I'll still know every song on the album within a week, and will still be singing along when NFG comes to the House of Blues this spring. 

So back off guys, I'm still going to be putting money into your pockets come March 10th when the album drops. I could easily just grab it now, but I won't. You've got to give some credit to that, right? I'd like to think I'm still a true fan. 

It seems like commonplace lately that new albums hit the net early. NFG are just the latest victims. I won't preach to you, but I do have some advice. Stay true to who you are and your music morality. Download it if need to, buy the CD if you can wait. Go see the show, and pick up a shirt at the merch table. Just don't forget to support the band you follow, because remember, this is their career. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blurring The Lines

Bud Light and Lime, a combination you thought you'd never see, right? The two just don't seem like they'd go together, but it's been done anyway. The same can be said for Hip-Hop and Rock 'n Roll. The two opposing genres are suddenly clashing as more and more bands team up with rap artists. But this scene kid isn't convinced the taste is all that sweet.

It seems like rapper Lil' Wayne is popping up all over the alternative rock scene lately. Late last year he did a guest vocal on "Tiffany Blews," a track off Fall Out Boy's latest album Folie a Deux. And now the rock-stars are paying back the favor as they will be appearing on Wayne's upcoming record Rebirth.

The Rap 'n Roll collaboration doesn't stop there though. Lil' Wayne has decided to take Gym Class Heroes out on tour with him this spring. It seems fitting as Gym Class Heroes are some sort of hybrid mix of Hip-Hop and rock. I mean, they're well known around the alternative rock scene. They have a guitarist, bassist, drummer and a rapping lead singer. Odd. They've played the Warped Tour, supported acts such as The Starting Line and the All-American Rejects and have gotten every suburban white kid at a show to throw his or her middle finger up in the air.

It just doesn't seem like it fits together all that well. Now, while I did enjoy watching all the 12 year-olds 
acting "hood" at last year's Warped Tour during the Gym Class set, I'm still not convinced it's what the scene needs to survive. What ever happened to the days of punk bands playing their shows in kid's basements and backyards? (cough cough, Fall Out Boy - Dead on Arrival)

Maybe it's just me getting older and having some nostalgia for the original records and songs that changed my life, but it seems that the Hollywood influence of someone like Lil' Wayne on the alternative scene will do nothing but turn us into a corporate trend. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy "Tiffany Blews," but I'd much rather pump "Calm Before The Storm" through the speakers of my stock Honda Accord (that's right, stock - no wing on the trunk or rims).

But I guess complaining isn't going to get us anywhere, huh? So let's crack open a cold one and try to enjoy the music. Bud Light Lime? No thanks, I'll stick to an original. Toss me a Sam Adams. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Back to Basics: Finally, a Punk-Rock Tour!

Hey Boston, are you sick of winter yet? Are you thinking this horrid weather is never going to end? Well, don't let it get you down. You've got a lot to look forward to, believe me.

In case you haven't noticed, this summer is set to be huge in the alternative music world. Not only are blink-182 reuniting, but the Vans Warped Tour is making two stops in New England, Boston and Hartford. Is that enough to break your winter blues? No? Well, how about throwing another sweet tour into that mix, packed with an insane line-up. That's right Boston, on Thursday, Rise Against announced a summer headlining tour with special guests Rancid
and Billy Talent. And they'll be playing the House of Blues, twice.

Rise Against have been touring non-stop since early last fall. They're currently bouncing around the U.K., and will soon be heading off to Australia to give their international fans a taste of their latest album, Appeal To Reason. They'll be back stateside in May for Bamboozle, and come June, Rise Against will be taking the states by storm again.

Is this band really anything short of amazing? They've crafted their music, message and image on some basic ideals of equality, freedom and animal rights. Whether you agree with them or not, you've got to give them credit for standing up for what they believe in. Besides, their music transcends party lines. Democrat, Republican or Independent, I'm pretty sure anyone can feel something from songs like "Swing Life Away" or "Ready To Fall." 

Rise Against have an amazing talent to blend heartfelt emotion with political activism and a message. They're a working man's band. They've gotten to where they are because of their dedication and persistence. And boy am I thankful for that, because now I get to see one hell of a tour this summer. 
Now, let's not forget about the other awesome talent that will be joining the Chicago natives. Rancid are set to open for the entire tour. How cool is that? These guys are the fathers of modern punk-rock. They've been playing together since 1991, post Operation Ivy, of course. Think about it though, 1991. How old were you? Five or six? You definitely weren't sweating it out in the pit with Tim Armstrong. Neither was I for that matter, but it will still be awesome seeing the guys this summer. I wonder if Armstrong will still wear his leather jacket come late-July when they're in Boston. Hmm..

Billy Talent is also on the bill this summer. Don't know much about these dudes? Don't worry, most of America doesn't. They're Canadian, but totally worth a listen. Trust me, you'll like them more than our other Canadian friends, Sum 41. Billy Talent are actually really popular overseas (I first heard them in France, and have been hooked since),
but for some odd reason they haven't caught on in the U.S.. Maybe this tour can change that. They've got some really catchy hooks, and a sound that's all their own. And isn't that what all of us indie kids are looking for these days anyway? So make sure you show up when the show starts. You won't want to miss their live performance.

As for the tour itself, it's nameless as of now. I know, boring. But like I mentioned earlier, Boston is lucky enough to have two shows listed. July 28th and 29th at the House of Blues. How exciting, I know you all miss those late nights on Lansdowne Street. 

So is that enough to make you smile? Did you forget the fact that it's snowing outside for a hot second? I hope so. Be happy Boston, you've got a great summer coming up. Awesome tours, awesome music and warm weather. It doesn't get much better than that kids.

Check this out:

Last October I was lucky enough to interview Rise Against on the day Appeal To Reason came out. They played two free shows in Boston that night. One at Newbury Comics, and another at T.T. the Bear's. It was small, intimate and one of the coolest experiences of my life. I would personally like to thank the band for being so kind to me (especially Tim, I'll never forget the handshake and the hug!). These guys deserve all the credit in the world. So thank you Rise Against, you helped me earn my first 'A' in graduate school. You've got a friend and a fan for life. Here's the video from the interview:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mainstream - The New Black

It doesn't look like Escape The Fate can escape the fate - the fate of online advertising that is. The truth is no band really can these days. 

If your band is online, chances are you're on myspace. It's perfect, really. Fans can hear your
music, see your pictures, be "friends" with you, watch videos and leave comments on how wonderful (or crappy) your music really is. Sounds appetizing, doesn't it?

Myspace used to be a social site where bands could really reach their audience personally. But those days are dying, and fast. It was only a matter of time before myspace would find a way to make money off of all you hard-working bands out there. Advertising was the answer to that.

Now, where does Escape The Fate fit into this scenario? Well, we all know them as a slightly dark, glam-rock band from Vegas. They've been through it all. Girls, drugs, jail-time and black leather jackets. 

You wouldn't really expect to see anything pink on their myspace, right? Wrong. Hit up the site, and try to watch their new video for the song "Something." Nine times out of ten you are going to have to first watch an advertisement by either Herbal Essences or Jack-In-The-Box. Now, Jack-In-The-Box I can handle, though I don't quite understand the actual advertisement. Herbal Essences on the other hand, just makes you laugh. 

All you want to do is watch the video for the new mosh-pit anthem. You expect it to be dark, dirty and maybe a little bit greasy, like the band members' hair. But no, adjust your eyes. You first get hit with a bright pink advertisement. "Hydrolicious by Herbal Essences, which one does your hair thirst for?"

It threw me off when I first saw it. Honestly, is that necessary? I want to watch a video of four guys with flat-ironed, slicked-up hair, not an ad for women's shampoo. I guess you would call that irony, huh? A greasy-headed band with a shampoo ad before their video. It makes you laugh.

It doesn't stop there though. I dare you to give their music player a listen through. Yeah, the whole thing. I bet you can't do it without the player stopping to flash an ad asking you to "Take the Dumb Test" or get "Domino's Sandwiches" delivered to your house. 

It's just lame. I doubt Escape The Fate actually eats those Domino's Sandwiches, or even gets a cut of the money from that ad on their site. And for that matter, I'd really like to know what they use for shampoo. Welcome to 2009.

As a side note, ETF will be playing the Middle East in Cambridge this Sunday the 22nd. They'll be joined by Black Tide, Burn Halo, William Control and Attack Attack!. I'll see you there, and don't forget to wash your hair kids.

Blink One-Eighty-Who?

It's been just over a week since the Grammys and it seems like the only thing people are still talking about is the Chris Brown/Rihanna drama. Not to make light of the situation, but we all know the story by now. He screwed up and now he's sorry. Wasn't there anything a little more exciting that happened on stage that night? Hmm...

Oh yeah, I seem to recall blink-182 reuniting somewhere between the Jonas Brothers' and Jay-Z's performances. The sad part is just that. The news went virtually unnoticed among all the big names. Here was one of the most influential bands of the alternative scene announcing they were going to start making music again, and most people couldn't care less.

When Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge and Travis Barker walked onto stage together, I must admit I was standing in my living room clapping. I never thought I'd see it happen again. 

On February 22nd, 2005 blink-182 went on an "indefinite hiatus." For four years, Delonge had no real contact with either Barker or Hoppus. But sometime after Barker's plane crash in September '08 the trio began talking again. I guess it's safe to say the talks mended friendships, and brought the guys an opportunity to present this year's Grammy for Best Rock Album.

When the news broke a few days early that blink would be appearing on stage together, online communities went nuts. Rumors and websites flared up stating the band were already in the process of recording a new record. With the alternative scene in a buzz and anticipation on high, all eyes were on the Grammys.

But boy, what a let down. The crowd was virtually silent when Hoppus announced, "blink-182 is back!" Granted some people were cheering, but they sounded like they were paid to scream. (just like the seat-fillers, only these people had to make noise)

Did anyone there not remember the impact blink had on music? They were an MTV sensation in the late 90s. They sold 1.5 million copies of Dude Ranch in 1997, debuted No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket in 2001 and toured the world countless numbers of times. So why didn't anyone seem to care that they were finally back together?

I guess we'll never know. People constantly complain about the dismal existence of music nowadays, yet give virtually no credit to those who actually try to better it. It's sad to see such an awesome moment in music's subculture go without notice, but I guess that's life. All I know is there are plenty of people out there who are happy that blink is back. Maybe that's why my phone didn't stop ringing for three hours after the announcement. 

Regardless of all these Hollywood haters, blink-182 are back! It's time to remember what pop-punk feels like. So get rid of that emo haircut and get off myspace. Go outside and get some sun, 'cause summer '09 is coming fast and our boys are set to be the soundtrack. (just like when we were in 8th grade, only better 'cause this time we can legally drink)

The Business of Paper Stars

So if you're like me, a jaded scene kid who has passed his prime, you probably spend most of your free time scouring the internet looking for new indie bands, local shows and a job where you can write about music post-graduation. It's pretty much the biggest waste of time on the face of the earth. But every once in a while I come across something interesting. This week's find had to be Hawthorne Heights.

I hadn't listened to them in a while, and I figured it was time to check out 
what they were up to. So I clicked onto their site hoping to find some new tour dates. What I got was pretty much the exact opposite.

Surprise! Hawthorne Heights is recording again. Did anyone else not see this coming? Didn't they just release a record in August? Weren't they busy repairing their relationship with Victory Records? I thought so too. 

Well, the boys from Ohio have been busy as of late. Once again, they are off of the Victory label. I just don't understand it. Hawthorne Heights spends two years battling over legal troubles with Victory, suddenly makes amends and six months later packs up and leaves. Whatever.

According to an early February post on their website, HH has just signed with Wind Up Records. They're also in the midst of writing a new record. That's good news for those of us who thought their August 2008 release, Fragile Future, lacked a little something.

But don't count on any tour dates in the near future. It doesn't look like the boys will be touring in support of Fragile Future anymore. That's a little disappointing to us Boston fans, who got left out in the cold this past November. Don't think we've forgotten about the canceled show at the Wilbur Theater. We haven't, and we won't. Well, that is until the next time HH comes within 75 miles of Boston. (that doesn't include you Providence, sorry)

It's kind of crazy to look at how much work these guys have been doing in the last year, huh? It's good to see their absence from the scene hasn't made them go belly-up. They're writing, they're recording and they're here to stay. So keep yourself updated kids. It looks like HH has a future that is anything but fragile
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