Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thrown To The Lions' Den

On May 17, Vancouver pop-punk band Living With Lions released their second full-length record, Holy Sh*t (read Backstage Press' review). And in the eight days the album has been on shelves, it's managed to upset a whole lot of people and even prompt a recall of hard copies from retailers.

Why, you ask? Well, it's not because of the music, but rather the album's artwork and a tiny little stamp on it that reads, "Canada."

That's right, the artwork has been deemed religiously offensive by some. This is in part to the record's resemblance to a Bible - complete with the words "Holy Sh*t" on the cover, a subtitle The Poo Testament, yellowed pages, a cracked binding and a depiction of Jesus as fecal matter ascending to Heaven.

All in good fun? An artistic, yet silly, form of expression? The Canadian government didn't think so. Remember that little "Canada" stamp we mentioned before? That wasn't the band trying to show some love for their home country, but rather Canada's official seal that appears on any federally backed recording.

The recording of Holy Sh*t was partially funded by a government grant of $13,248. The money came from a private, yet federally funded, non-profit organization called FACTOR (The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings).

So naturally, when some people objected to the controversial artwork, they blamed the government for funding the album. The band's label, Black Box Recordings, has since pulled the record from retail shelves in Canada, and are urging international sellers to do the same. The band released a statement regarding the matter:

"The content of our artwork for our new recording was created out of our passion for satire and absurdist humor. The lyrical and musical content of this record does not contain any commentary on religion, nor does it use a pejorative or malicious voice against any particular group of people (excluding possibly some of our ex-girlfriends)."

The band have also decided to entirely return the funding so that they may re-release the album without the government stamp, thus allowing the record to, "forever remain true to the original format."

This raises an interesting question for the art and music worlds. When is art art? Can it go too far, and when? And also, can government have a say in what a piece of art, album cover or not, can depict if it is federally funded?

We want to know what you think. Did Living With Lions cross a line? Should the Canadian government have the right to censor the artwork they personally deemed, "offensive"? What would you do in this situation? Hit us up with your comments, and follow us on Twitter for any updates to this story.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Honda Civic Tour To Feature blink-182

That's right, the rumors are true. The 2011 Honda Civic Tour will be featuring blink-182 along with co-headliners, My Chemical Romance.

The tour will kick off in early August and run through mid-October, while covering 48 cities in both the US and Canada. Additional supporting acts include Manchester Orchestra, Against Me!, Rancid, and Matt & Kim on select dates throughout the tour.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Honda Civic Tour, and it's obvious its creators decided to go big or go home. Since 2001, this traveling amphitheater tour has hosted some of the largest names in the punk and alternative scenes. Tour alum include Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Panic! At The Disco, New Found Glory and Good Charlotte, amongst others. In fact, this year's appearance will be blink's second go around at it, as they were part of the very first Honda Civic Tour in '01.

This is a surprise move for blink-182 since they recently announced they would be postponing this summer's European tour to finish working on their long awaited new record (a followup to 2003's, Untitled). Bassist Mark Hoppus took to the internet this evening to clear up the confusion.

"[The Honda Civic Tour] was booked ALONGSIDE the UK/European dates, a long time ago," wrote Hoppus. "We did NOT book the US tour after deciding to postpone the UK/European dates." He later stated that the band wanted to solely focus on producing a quality album before hitting the road again, and that fans should be expecting the new record soon.

"Now there's a hard deadline for the album to be turned in, and it will be released during our US tour."

In their UK/European tour postponement notification a few months back, blink mentioned that they didn't want to tour without new music first being available to fans. And with an announcement from KROQ and drummer Travis Barker last week, it seems that some new blink music, even if it's just one song, is on its way this July or August - right in time for the kickoff of the Honda Civic Tour.

Get stoked.

According to Alternative Press, presale tickets will be made available for those who are a part of the blink-182 or MCR fans clubs on Monday, June 6. Presale tickets will also be accessible on Wednesday, June 8 for fans who "like" the Honda Civic Tour Facebook profile page. General public tickets will go on sale for each show on Saturday, June 11.

Check out the dates, locations and supporting acts below.
  • 8/5/11 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center *
  • 8/6/11 - Wantagh, NY @ Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach *
  • 8/7/11 - Wantagh, NY @ Nikon Theatre at Jones Beach +
  • 8/9/11 - Boston, MA @ Comcast Center *
  • 8/11/11 - Buffalo, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center *
  • 8/12/11 - Washington, DC @ Jiffy Lube Live *
  • 8/13/11 - Hershey, PA @ Hershey Park Pavilion *
  • 8/14/11 - Hartford, CT @ Comcast Theatre *
  • 8/16/11 - Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre *
  • 8/17/11 - Toronto, ON @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre *
  • 8/19/11 - St. Louis, MO @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre *
  • 8/20/11 - Chicago, Il @ First Midwest Bank Pavilion *
  • 8/21/11 - Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center *
  • 8/23/11 - Milwaukee, WI @ Marcus Amphitheater *
  • 8/25/11 - Winnipeg, MB @ MTS Centre %^
  • 8/26/11 - Saskatoon, SK @ Credit Union Centre %^
  • 8/27/11 - Edmonton, AB @ Rexall Place %^
  • 8/28/11 - Calgary, AB @ Saddledome %^
  • 8/30/11 - Victoria, BC @ Save-On Foods Memorial Centre %^
  • 8/31/11 - Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena %^
  • 9/1/11 - Seattle, WA @ White River Amphitheater ^
  • 9/3/11 - Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheater ^
  • 9/4/11 - Denver, CO @ Comfort Dental Amphitheater ^
  • 9/7/11 - Minneapolis, MN @ Xcel Center #
  • 9/8/11 - Des Moines, IA @ Wells Fargo Arena +
  • 9/9/11 - Kansas City, MO @ Sandstone Amphitheater #
  • 9/10/11 - Indianapolis, IN @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre #
  • 9/11/11 - Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Centre #
  • 9/13/11 - Cleveland, OH @ Blossom Music Center #
  • 9/15/11 - Pittsburgh, PA @ First Niagara Pavilion #
  • 916/11 - Saratoga, NY @ SPAC #
  • 9/17/11 - Camden, NJ @ Susquehanna Bank Center #
  • 9/18/11 - Virginia Beach, VA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre #
  • 9/20/11 - Charlotte, NC @ Charlotte Verizon Wireless Amphitheater #
  • 9/21/11 - Atlanta, GA @ Lakewood Amphitheater #
  • 9/23/11 - Miami, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheater #
  • 9/24/11 - Tampa, FL @ 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre #
  • 9/26/11 - Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion #
  • 9/27/11 - Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Pavilion #
  • 9/29/11 - Albuquerque, NM @ Journal Pavilion #
  • 9/30/11 - Phoenix, AZ @ Tempe Beach Park Amph. # (MCR will not be playing)
  • 10/1/11 - Anaheim, CA @ Honda Center #
  • 10/2/11 - Sacramento, CA @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre #
  • 10/4/11 - Concord, CA @ Sleep Train Pavilion at Concord #
  • 10/5/11 - Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre #
  • 10/7/11 - Las Vegas, NV @ Red Rock Resort, Spa & Casino #
  • 10/8/11 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl #
  • 10/15/11 - San Diego, CA @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre #
* -Manchester Orchestra
% -Against Me!
^ -Rancid
# -Matt & Kim
+ -To Be Announced

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Exclusive Late Nite Wars Interview

Late Nite Wars have certainly had enough practice leading up to their first full-length release, Who's Going To Miss You If You Go?. They've been together since 2008, played countless shows nationwide and have three EPs to their name thus far.

And with that experience comes the pressure to live up to expectations from both fans and themselves. So when the band entered the studio, they set a goal of completing a full-length album this time around.

"We wanted to write something complete," LNW lead singer Kevin
Quinn told Backstage Press. "From the start we were thinking about a record in its entirety, not a song by song basis. I think that's what brought out some creativity."

The record certainly sounds like one solid piece. There are highs and lows, it's fast in spots and slow in others, but perhaps best of all, it sounds like LNW. The Merrimack Valley, MA outfit didn't pull any tricks on WGTMYIYG. Fans of the band's earlier releases will find comfort in this record knowing the band have stuck to their pop-punk roots.

"None of us wanted 13 songs that had the same sound and structure," said Quinn, "however, we wanted to stay consistent to what makes us LNW."

One listen through WGTMYIYG and it's easy to hear that the band are addressing a number of issues lyrically. What's it like to be a 20-something trying to find yourself? From working jobs you can't stand (which the band still do to support themselves), to failed relationships, the open road, touring and living in New England - the record is certainly eclectic in its message.

"It's difficult to say exactly what the influence is for the record because all five of us bring something different," explained Quinn. "But lyrically, the setting is all New England. Many of the songs refer to the weather, and others refer to the landscape. The feel of the season can have such an impact that it's natural that it comes across in the lyrics."

Perhaps that's most evident on the album's fourth track, "Rock, Paper, Bitters". The song opens with, "It's not hard to see that seasons change your mood/Just not as frequent as the weather/But it's cold and bitter, like these New England winters/It's coming on, and coming strong."

Throwing their surroundings into their music is nothing new for LNW, who have, through all their releases, made an effort to pay homage to the life around them. Whether that's Boston, a local venue, an old college dorm or their favorite karaoke joint, LNW are a band that survive off their locality.

And that sense of locality may be the driving factor in what keeps this band so connected to their past. Though WGTMYIYG may be the band's first full-length record, they made the decision to rework three of their previously released songs to fit onto the new album - an unmistakable shout out to their beginnings.

With their last EP set as a precursor to the full-length, it was a no-brainer for the band to add "Work Isn't Working" and "Death By Routine" to the updated track listing. And as for "Dragon The Anchor", Quinn said, "we wanted to record it and see what it would sound like three years later. It's one of our favorite songs to play [live]."

Who's Going To Miss You If You Go? has certainly solidified LNW as a pop-punk band that's here to stay. They've challenged themselves musically and lyrically, without losing sense of why they're making music in the first place. The band have certainly moved forward in their approach to leads, rhythms and vocals, but have left enough room to grow in the coming years.

So what's the bottom line? Get to know LNW... now.

To pick up the full-length album, released on Panic Records, click HERE. Also, make sure to grab the 7" vinyl containing two bonus tracks that weren't quite finished in time to make the May release. You can also stream the entire album HERE.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Living With Lions Album Review

Canadian pop-punk outfit Living With Lions may best be known north of the border, far from the sun and palm trees that most newbies associate with the genre, but that's not stopping them from carving out their own piece of pop-punk real estate in 2011 - beards included.

Living With Lions will be releasing their second full-length album, Holy Sh*t, this coming Tuesday. Add to that a current tour with Such Gold, a recently wrapped up slew of dates with The Wonder Years and Fireworks, and an upcoming appearance at Bledfest, and it's clear LWL are taking North America by storm.

But will Holy Sh*t make the mark when it hits the pop-punk community this week? Will this finally be the record to jump start the band's career outside their home country? If today's resurgence of heartfelt and honest pop-punk records leaves us any clue, then yes.

Holy is far from sunny and upbeat. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The album is bursting with grit, catchy hooks and a sense of nostalgia that will inevitably strike a chord with anyone who remembers better days.

Take for instance the sixth song on the record, "Maple Drive Is Still Alive". There's a mid-20s angst on the track that's only enhanced by the toe-tapping pop-punk beat. "We wasted days away/We kept the evenings long/Shared laughter and letdowns, beat out all the odds/Where are those days?"

The record also broods a sense of toughness between its nostalgic references and general uneasiness about life. Lead singer Stu Ross' vocals are raspy and grittier than most of what's heard in the pop-punk scene today, but it stands to work for the band. This isn't your whiney, south Florida punk. This is Vancouver pop-punk - where winters are cold and beards are thick.

So is this record worth your time? If you're looking for a pop-punk album that you can listen to even when it's snowy and cold out, then Holy Sh*t is your answer. Packed with honest lyrics and a tough exterior, this is one album that's versatile enough for all the seasons and all your moods.

Seriously, get stoked on it. The band have. The five members even went so far as to tattoo the album's title on their rear ends. Two letters for each member's cheek, with one dude inking the entire release date onto his behind. (Watch the LWL tattoo process here) Now that's dedication.

You can also stream the full album HERE.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Silverstein - Rescue Review

Silverstein's discography stands as one of the most consistent of any band around today. The Canadian post-hardcore outfit have been dropping full-length albums since 2003, and despite the trends and industry changes over the past eight years, the band have remained true to their sound on each of their five LPs. And with their release late last month of Rescue, the band have once again proved that melodic post-hardcore isn't dead - if you're doing it right.

The album simply picks up where Silverstein left off with 2009's release, A Shipwreck In The Sand. Rescue is tough and edgy, but comes packed with enough catchiness to grab a wide array of fans from across the scene - as has mostly any of the band's releases.

Take for instance the second track on the record, "Sacrifice". It starts out with a fast and technical guitar lead worthy of being called metal. Add to that Shane Told's brutal screams to open up the vocals and the track certainly sounds like the sharper side of the band. But when the chorus hits, it's a different story. Told's unmistakable singing takes center stage, over rhythmic and open guitar chords, that will undoubtedly be the singalong anthem of the band's live show.

Top this track off with a breakdown that encompasses everything Silverstein are - chugging rhythmic guitars laced with soaring leads, snare happy percussion and Told's growls that suddenly open up to a melodic hook before transitioning back into the chorus. In one word, balance.

The aspect about this band that has kept fans coming back album after album is that balance. Silverstein walk a fine line. They're not quite metal. They don't play anything too poppy. There is screaming, but there's also a good amount of singing. Somehow, every record, including Rescue, has the perfect balance to it.

And this only becomes clearer as you move down the album's track listing. "Burning Hearts", which sounds strangely like a Hawthorne Heights song, adds the pop-rock element to the record that will grab at the emo contingent of Silverstein's fan base.

Further down, "Live To Kill" throws out a vicious chorus that any hardcore enthusiast can latch onto and call their own. "We live to kill each other/We are the wealthy and the poor/We shout, but we don't listen/All we want is more".

Overall, if you've enjoyed anything Silverstein have done in the past, you're going to like Rescue. This isn't a band trying to reinvent themselves, or push their sound somewhere it shouldn't go. Silverstein have found their niche, and are sticking to it.

Their balance and consistency have undoubtedly led to their success. Rescue seems fresh, regardless of it sounding like another Silverstein record. Again, a balance between new and old. And certainly, a balance worth your time.
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