Thursday, June 27, 2013

A letter from the place off Ocean Avenue. (Favorites: June 28, 2013)

I first heard Ocean Avenue on the radio many, many years ago. I was a kid. I had no scene, no musical taste, but there was something about that song. It stuck with me. I would dream of that place off Ocean Avenue, fairly certain I would be there when I was sixteen.

Two days before I turned sixteen I found myself standing in the snow in front of a small-ish bar/music venue, about to see Mayday Parade, a band I'd been attached to nearly since it's inception. It was my first time in a place like that. It was the first time I was in the middle of a crowd of people all jumping and falling and singing and screaming.

I saw Yellowcard at the Vans Warped Tour that year. I walked through the crowds of people holding my bottle of vitamin water over my head and singing along.

That fall, I went to Cape Cod with my mom where we stayed in a cabin near the ocean. One day she woke up early and went out exploring the town. She sent me a picture of a street sign right down the road from our cabin.

In November I went to the House of Blues for the first time and watched Yellowcard from the bar balcony. At the end of the show, they geared up to play their last song. We got up and, in spite of the strange looks from the bartender, we danced. We held hands and jumped and spun straight through Ocean Avenue.

For ten years this song, this record, and this band have been blasting through my speakers. Live shows, road trips, grandma's stereo when it was my turn to pick the music, good times and bad, it's been there and I know it always will be.

I know this is much more personal than my regular posts, but in honor of the tenth anniversary of this album, I wanted to say something about how important it's been to me these last ten years. Yellowcard led me into the world as I know it. The bands I love, the friends I have, the industry  I work in would probably not be without Ocean Avenue's influence.

So, happy anniversary to one of my favorite records. I can't wait  for the release of the acoustic version. And congratulations to the gents in Yellowcard; you've done fine work.

On another note, while we're on the subject, I'd like to mention that Ryan Key and his beautiful new wife Alyona Alekhina have been facing some hard times. Send him some kind words on twitter (@williamryankey) if you get a chance and let him know everything is gonna be all right.

Be strong, believe.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Empty amps and PA systems.

The internet is abuzz. Teenage girls and middle-aged metal heads are in uproar over the recent realization that Black Veil Brides are using empty amps on the Vans Warped tour. It isn't a big shocker. Big amps are something of a rock icon, but that just isn't practical anymore.

Contrary to popular belief, empty amps don't always mean your favorite bands are playing tracks. There are just better ways, clearer ways even, of getting the sound from the stage to the crowd, especially in large outdoor venues like the main stage at Warped. Real amps are often miked; sound comes straight through the PA system. The result? Better quality, less instrument-fighting-instrument and better control of sound distribution to the crowd.

Okay, it may be a little less "rock n roll" to do things the practical way, but it sounds better. We could stack amps across the back of the stage, have an awkward and deafening sound at the front and not understand anything, but would that really make sense? The fact is venues are bigger, sound is better, and we need a system that keeps up with the times. Empty amps give you the sound and the appearance of a real rock show, you just get to hear the music.

Where you stand on BVB's rock status doesn't matter. Similar setups are used by tons of bands, old and new, rock and not-so-rock. Carry on, do your thing and don't worry about how a band is getting its sound to you. Unless they're lip-syncing. Don't tolerate that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Favorites: June 21, 2013
 So, I've always kind of felt like BLG was a joke. I don't know why. I mean, I know why now, they've apparently done some weird country thing, but I don't know why they were a joke before.

Anyway, this weeks favorite is Love Drunk by Boys Like Girls, because I like it (except when Taylor Swift shows up--nothing against her, it just sounds so weird). It's got some cool sounds and some sick writing and I play it kind of all the time.

Also, I seriously recommend the song "Go" to anyone with some hard choices to make.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Favorites: June 14, 2013

In the interest of being honest, this week I've basically only listened to the Wicked soundtrack.

I mean, it's Oz! Anyone who had seen them knows that Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth are the shiz. And, oh okay, I'm just a sucker for musicals and magic.

But it's a killer soundtrack and you should probably listen to it right now, whether you've seen the musical or not, just so you can feel fancy and cultured and pretend to be a person who sees musicals. That's what I'm doing.

Get it here:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Lonely Island - The Wack Album
These dudes.

When Andy Samberg left SNL, fans instantly mourned the loss of the digital short. To cushion the blow, I present "The Wack Album".

Honestly, is there anything more entertaining than self-aware rappers? No. The answer is no.

Like the other Lonely Island albums, there are a few SNL shorts, all-star guest vocals, jokes, and the answers to some lingering questions about who really runs New York.

Guest spots include Maroon 5's Adam Levine, Robyn, Pharrell Williams, T-Pain, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, and Solange. Basically, artists coming from every direction.

This album goes deep. "Semicolon" explores rappers making grammatical errors in their lyrics. The Adam Levine assisted "YOLO" flips Drake's "The Motto" into a cautionary tale about the dangers of the world. "Go Kindergarten", a club anthem that takes instructing listeners on how to act to a new level, is one of the best songs on this album. And of course, The Wack Album is home to the continuation of the Justin Timberlake trilogy with "3-Way".

I'm not gonna lie to you, I'm clearly a fangirl, but I am right about how nothing is more entertaining. Even if you aren't a fangirl I'm sure you'll agree with me. So go and download this and laugh and sing along and turn it up in your car until you can't hear and roll down the windows and look like a badass.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cautioners - Conditional Identity
In a world where we can fix everything with Pro Tools, existing only online is a risky move, but the UK band Cautioners have done it flawlessly. When their debut EP "Conditional Identity" dropped they hadn't played a show yet.

EP's don't give you a lot of time at live show and they don't provide a whole lot of material to get a feel for a band, but this EP is one of the better executed. With only six tracks Cautioners manage to give a taste of everything with tracks ranging from guitar heavy instrumental driven to soft and soothing vocal driven.

The range doesn't give you an unsettling feeling though; every track seems to flow into the next effortlessly. The EP starts out with "Staging Area", an appropriate title for sure as it sets the theme with it's melancholy opening building to a pop-rock vibe climax. From there it slides into "The Build Up" and "Iteration V", carrying you on a wave of building and backing off.

I would have to say the best moments are found on "Man of Science" and I would tell you to go download this track, but I feel that to really appreciate it you need the experience of listening to the whole EP straight through.  Ride the wave.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Favorites: June 7, 2013

After being caught off guard by "Kill The DJ" and then having the trilogy dropped into obscurity after that whole rehab incident, I kind of gave up on this record. Until it popped up in my recommendations on Spotify.

I had actually kind of forgot to listen to it... To be completely honest, I still haven't listened to the other two. I wouldn't say this is any great Green Day endeavor, but when you take the name off of it there are some solid tracks. Angel Blue, Stay the Night, Rusty James; they may not be Green Day gems, but gems nonetheless.

Get it here:!/id542873746