Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sirius/XM radio merger...

So, this week, Sirius' purchase of XM has finally gone through, effectively pissing off terrestrial radio.

What does this mean? Well, it means that those of you who have XM or Sirius will soon have options to listen to stations from both providers. They got together to cut down on operations costs, which probably really means that they couldn't afford Howard Stern's half-a-billion dollar contract.

In all seriousness, I look at it optimistically...I've been lucky enough to listen to both providers and they both have great content. It's just a matter of visibility and by knocking down prices on receivers or subscriptions, it makes pay radio not so terrifying. The only thing is, there are people that probably still wouldn't pay for radio because we're so used to having it for free.

Well, if you want to listen to the same songs a day, I guess it isn't worth it.

But this deal may turn a lot of heads. Stay tuned.

A band a day...One Day as a Lion

Rage Against the Machine was ahead of their time. Why do I say that?

They picked the wrong time to be political.

One Day as a Lion is:
Zach de la Rocha (lead vocals/keyboard)
Jon Theodore (drummer)

Rage meets The Mars Volta meets Public Enemy.

Zach de la Rocha had been hyped up after the breakup of Rage in 2000 to have a solo album in the works with the help of Trent Reznor. While one song was released from the project "We Want It All" (which was on the Fahrenheit 9|11 soundtrack), the rest haven't been heard from since.

Then, in 2007, after seven years of silence, Rage returned. And as soon as the show was even announced, there were rumors of a return to the studio. We may have to wait for that.

Zach de la Rocha, after four years of no new music, is still the same old G. He's just been low key.

Theodore is no slouch either...he had been the drummer for The Mars Volta (widely considered one of the best live bands in the world) for 5 years.

One Day as a Lion reaps the strength of their previous bands while bringing something a bit different.

One Day as a Lion boasts only two's rare to get a sound so intense out of a group that only contains two members.

Zach de la Rocha's always been a damn good rapper, but he stepped up his game on this project, thanks in part to Rock the Bells, a mostly hip-hop festival that featured them as the headliner last year.

They may be on Anti-Records...but they will be selling quite a few records with the most talked about EP this year.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A band a day...Halestorm.

It's rare to find a band these days where the members have been together more than five years. Sometimes lineups change after every album.

Meet Halestorm.

Halestorm is:
Lzzy Hale (vocals)
Arejay Hale (drums)
Joe Storm (guitarist)
Josh Storm (guitarist)

OMG! Get it?!?

Take Janis Joplin and make her the frontwoman of Shinedown and you have something that sounds like Halestorm.

Halestorm has existed as a band since 1997 in their home state of Pennsylvania.

And they have remained steadfast with all four original members since its existence. It has paid off in spades.

They built a huge fanbase in the state and the region and in 2005, they were signed by Atlantic Records to a major label record deal.

The very next year, they were thrown onto a super tour called the Sno-core tour where they played alongside of Seether, Shinedown, and Flyleaf.

Since then, they've laid low...but not for much longer.

Halestorm actually made an appearance on Jay Leno in 2007 where they acted like total fools and sang Fergalicious.

But not all of the things they've done have been silly. In the three years since they've been signed, they've been hard at work on their Atlantic debut. Howard Benson, who produced their friends Theory of a Deadman's latest record, is working on their record. Given his recent history of hits, Halestorm is not far behind.

In the meantime, you can watch the Studio Sessions of them hard at work...well, maybe not so much...

Studio Sessions:
Part 4 (Take a look at this one especially...classic.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

The re-incarnation of Chris Cornell...

Chris Cornell has been the most consistent rock singer of the last twenty years...from Soundgarden, to Temple of the Dog, to Audioslave.

But starting this summer, that will all be "Long Gone".

Scream is the title of his third solo album, which will be put out sometime this fall.

So what's so different? Oh nothing...

Nothing like getting by with a little help from your friends.

So far, titles for this album include "Scream", "Never Too Far", "Watch Out", "Ground Zero", and the aforementioned "Long Gone."

A lot of Soundgarden/Audioslave/Cornell fans are said to be furious with Cornell's seemingly sudden transition.

But it may not be as sudden as one may think.

I've always thought of Cornell to have a very soulful in one that could very well fit in a rhythm and blues outfit.

Audioslave actually began that with their fusion of rock, soul, and funk.

Album by album, the soul influences seem to grow into something that eventually became their final album, Revelations.

As much as it wasn't their most well accepted album, the album was actually more Audioslave than albums prior. It mixed all of those elements seamlessly.

Then came Cornell's last album, Carry On. It featured a lot of the same elements that fans would find familiar, but this was NOT Euphoria Morning.

One thing that shocked everyone was the cover that Cornell did of Michael Jackson's classic "Billie Jean". That was ballsy and at a point considered career suicide...EVEN for someone with the caliber of Chris Cornell...but it wasn't considered original until this guy did it.

Even R&B artists don't tend to cover Michael Jackson. Not to say it isn't done...but not often.

The point made here is that he is not making a huge jump. Another thing is that when you consider his long-term success, Carry On, was kind of a flop. Honestly, what if anything did he have to gain from releasing another Carry On?

I think if given the chance that Cornell can make himself a formidable artist with the help of Timbaland if he is taken seriously and not as some pet project.

And Soundgarden fans will still be pissed, but they'll be happy to note that there have been rumors of a reunion...and I'd be willing to bet that it would be in the cards for next year.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The best scene in America...

Up until my senior year of college, I had no idea that my area had a bustling rock scene. I've never really gone to any of the shows because the music isn't really my cup of tea, but it's good to know that there are bands that are emerging from this area since I don't really hear about them often.

Part of this entry has to do with that and the fact that a few of the artists that I've posted about come from the same state in this country, Florida. I know I'm not necessarily done with posting about up-and-coming bands from Florida either.

Back when I was a part of the Rockturtle blog, I'd posted about Texas and how bands like Flyleaf, Blue October, Venture, and Faktion were leading a charge of bands in the area and the country.

Earlier in the decade, there had been bands that had been coming up in the Long Island area like Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and later Straylight Run. Chicago-based Victory Records were signing quite a few Long Island bands at the time.

Even though you never really pay attention to location, it's important in determining what eventually becomes popular...because where one band becomes popular others tend to follow.

Are there any particular locations in the country or in the world that you can think of that has at least five established or up-and-coming bands that are really good that I haven't mentioned?

A band a day...Fall of Envy

The best discoveries are the ones you stumble upon. Some of the bands that I like, I wind up hearing something about them before listening to...but I had no idea who this band was until I heard them. And they are great. And YES, this is ANOTHER Floridian band.

Michael: vocals
Greg: guitarist
Tommy: guitarist
Dave: bassist
Brandt: drums

If David Draiman ever became the lead singer of Godsmack, you might have something that sounds like Fall of Envy.

Fall of Envy is energetic music that you can and will want to work out to or fight to.

They released their debut album, Poetic Rage, in March.

They're setting out to make O-Town famous for more than just Mickey Mouse and boy bands.

Here's the video for Face to my Fist and the live version of the same song...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My biggest gripe with major record labels...

In 2004, I got excited when I heard the band Trading Yesterday, got signed to Epic Records. It was a major record deal and I felt that with Epic's support that they'd be led to major success.

That is until the summer of 2005 when Epic decided to relegate them to the soundtrack of a movie that nobody cared about. Epic also decided to keep pushing back their debut album More Than This until Trading Yesterday left the label in November of that year.

My biggest gripe with major record labels is that they have the confidence to sign an artist, but when it actually comes to putting out their music, they don't release it. It doesn't just happen to new artists (although there are plenty of examples of that). It also happens to established artists.

Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine was meant to be put out in 2003 and almost didn't get put out at all. Tracks subsequently leaked and the Internet response to the Machine led to its release in 2005.

However, even when some things are released, record label executives don't have confidence in their artists. Kelly Clarkson's My December, is the perfect example.

It's unfortunate, but I said in my last article that the music industry is a business first and artist creativity be damned if it's not commercially successful enough.

Sometimes though record labels don't know what they're missing. I think that when they sign particular artists that they know what they're getting, but they're more into trying to sign an artist to keep them away from the competition rather than sign an artist to put out their music.

Is there an example that you have in which an artist that you like got signed but didn't actually release anything with their record label due to the label's inactivity?

What do you think is a reasonable amount of time between a signing and a debut record?

A band a day...Veronica's Veil

Florida has yet ANOTHER gem in Veronica's Veil. VersaEmerge (who I posted about in the last entry) comes from the Port St. Lucie area and these guys reside in Jacksonville.

Veronica's Veil is:
Jordyn Jackson: Vocals
Randy Winter: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keyboard, Everything Under the Sun
Jesse Carroll: Live Performer (Guitar)
Tom Wurth: Live Performer (Guitar)
Chris Wurth: Live Performer (Drums & Bass...uhntiss-uhntiss-uhntiss)
Mike Parker: Live Performer (Bass)
Tim Ross: Live Performer (Drums)
Alan King: Live Performer (Drums)

If you never heard Evanescence through their Origin days, this might be the closest you ever get to hear them in their original form.

The parallel is actually pretty amazing.

Veronica's Veil is two official members (Jordyn Jackson and Randy Winter)
Evanescence started with two official members (Amy Lee and Ben Moody)

Veronica's Veil has live performers.
Evanescence started with live performers before recruiting them as real members...

Veronica's Veil is influenced by Christianity.
Evanescence is influenced by....wait, oops!

Veronica's Veil even has a bit of an Origin meets Fallen vibe.

Although Evanescence is not the only band that I think of Veronica's Veil. I think that they've got a great enough sound to tour nationally with the likes of fellow Floridian band Fireflight.

Considering they only formed two years ago, they've got a professional sound about them.

Tunelab Music, my favorite musical resource, called Veronica's Veil one of the top unsigned bands to know and with enough exposure, they won't be unsigned for much longer.

You can listen to their Middle of Nowhere EP here.

I also found performances of their songs Echoes and Self Destruct.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A band a day...VersaEmerge

VersaEmerge has an interesting history.

They're a female-fronted band that had a sex change.

Their first show was a year ago as a male-fronted band and they've re-emerged (haha, get it?) as one of the top bands either on Purevolume or on Myspace. Not bad for being unsigned.

VersaEmerge is:
Sierra: vocals
Blake: guitarist
James: guitarist
Devin: bassist
Anthony: drummer

VersaEmerge is Paramore for the post-hardcore.

Drawing influences from bands such as The Receiving End of Sirens and fellow Floridian scenesters There For Tomorrow, VersaEmerge's exuberance (led by 18 year old Sierra) could take their music to the headlining stage of the Warped Tour someday.

Until then, they're playing tiny venues all over the country so check them out sometime.

Here's the video for The Authors and an acoustic performance of The Blank Static Screen.

Finally, here's a video for an impromptu acoustic version of In Persuing Design.

The Economy and the Music Industry....

Four months ago, I bought the debut album from Atlanta based Echovalve. They've just recently announced a hiatus, in part due to financial reasons.

The American economy is starting on an downturn that many financial advisers are calling the worst since "The Great Depression". It's affecting EVERYTHING. The rise of gas prices in the last year alone have caused increases in other sectors. There are less jobs, the dollar is at one of its lowest points against the euro, the yen, and the British pound, and yet, not every artist is suffering.

It's the smaller artist who's suffering because they have to tour. If they tour outside of their particular area (which they have to do to grow as an artist), they have to be aware that not too many people know them aside from bulletins on Myspace. 

Tickets for shows have pretty much stayed the same, but with expenses going up, their profits are going down making it easier to fall into debt faster. It's a lose-lose situation.

CD sales have been dropping for the last eight years.

The new "360" deals, while it has been given to popular artists, have given record labels more protection should an artist flop.

Could you imagine one of your favorite smalller bands actually breaking up because they can't come up with the money to tour or record?

I didn't think it was possible, but you have to remember that music is a business first.

It's also affecting the way people travel to concerts. If people want to concert whore, they're doing it closer to home because taking a trip 300 miles away is not worth the commitment.

Are there concerts that you've wanted to go to, but can't because you're saving up?
Have you purchased even less music than you normally would or is it at about the same?

Friday, July 18, 2008

A band a day...The Veer Union

Straight out of Canuckistan, The Veer Union is set to take over America and the world. Originally known simply as "Veer", their debut album Time to Break the Spell caught the attention of Universal A&R's and within a matter of months, they were signed to Universal Motown Records and recording their debut.

Their debut is being produced by Greg Archilla (Matchbox 20) and being mixed by Randy Staub (Metallica, Three Days Grace).

The Veer Union is:
Crispin: Vocals
Eric: Guitar/Vocals
Fid: Guitar
Roots: Bass
Neil: Drums

Take the vocals of Lajon Witherspoon, the catchy lyrics of Three Days Grace, and the accessibility of Nickelback and Daughtry and you've got The Veer Union.

These guys have soaring choruses, great harmony, and the potential to be huge.

They have a dual-vocal thing going on between Crispin and Eric. They play off of each other's vocals so well.

Plus, they actually had the balls to cover Rihanna's Umbrella. And well, too!

Any band that can do that deserves my respect and it deserves yours, too.

Here are videos for Over Me and Youth of Yesterday.

If you're not completely sold on them live, here's a live version of See Right Through You.

A band a day...Daughters of Mara

Contrary to the bands that I posted about before, this band is most definitely not accessible. They're accessible to kicking your ass with metalcore.

That being said, Daughters of Mara had a major record deal and to date are the only band to watch that I've posted that really had anything of that nature.

They had a deal with Virgin Records and, as far as we know, finished recording it. However, due to label issues (whether they wouldn't release it or whether they had issues with the Virgin/Capitol merger is unknown), either they were dropped or they left.

Daughters of Mara is:
Shawn Zuzek - Vocals & Guitars. 
Eric Friedman - Guitars & Vocals. 
Dave Elitch - Drums. 
Andy Gerold - Bass. 

Take the west coast System of a Down, mix them with East Coast metalcore, and you've got something that sounds like Daughters of Mara.

The name Eric Friedman may sound familiar to some members...he was one of the members of Wind-up Records band Submersed, before leaving in 2006. He's also a protege of Mark Tremonti, guitarist extraordinare for Alter Bridge.

They are uncompromising, unabashed, and unbelievable. They will be heard.

Not to mention, Shawn Zuzek is a musical godsend. Even if Daughters of Mara winds up not releasing anything, Zuzek may be very much involved in the business far beyond a guitar.

In the meantime, here are live videos of I Am Destroyer, And Away, and The Dying Game.

A band a day...All Ends

The Swedish are coming! The Swedish are coming!

All Ends is a female-fronted, dual-vocal hard rock band that is looking to become more popular than fellow female-fronted dual-vocal Swedish artists Ace of Base and ABBA.

All Ends is:
Emma Gelotte: Vocals
Tinna Karlsdotter: Vocals
Fredrik Johansson: Guitarist
Peter "Texas" Mårdklint: Guitarist
Joseph "Joey" Skansås: Drummer

Take Nightwish, HIM, In Flames, and Heart, put them in a blender and you'll have something that sounds similar to All Ends.

The great thing about this particular band is that both vocalists have very strong vocals...they don't overpower each other and they are hot as HE-YELL! I mean Mamma Mia!

Take the sound of the band and the looks and you've got something that can be overwhelmingly popular. Screw Ace of Base AND ABBA! Yeah, I went there!

Sweden's got a brand new band and they are awesome.

Here are videos for Pretty Words, Still Believe, and Wasting Life.

Seriously, watch them all. I think you'll like them.

A band a day...Freestate


This band from Melbourne is particularly awesome. 

Drawing influences from Sevendust, Dark New Day, and fellow Australian bands The Butterfly Effect and Karnivool, considering that they're a small independent band in their country, they have the potential to be bigger than the bands that they influence.

Freestate is:
Drew: Vocals/Guitars
Vinny: Guitarist
Pep: Bassist
Brian: Drummer

Take Evans Blue, 10 YearsMad at Gravity, and mix them with the Aussie bands I mentioned and you'll have something that sounds like Freestate.

Labels don't seem to agree with them, but that doesn't make their music any less kickass. They really should be huge. They have a sound that would really work well with American active rock radio.

I think if there is a label that signs them that they will give the most popular Aussie band right now, Sick Puppies, a run for their money.

This is a montage of videos with live performances of songs, including my favorites (SOS (Speed of Sound), The Man Who Couldn't Lie, Surrender (the title track for their 2007 album), and Heart of Stone). 

This is probably my favorite song of theirs being played live (The Man Who Couldn't Lie).

Finally, this is their video for "Twice Alive".

The importance of Viacom/Youtube

The Viacom/Youtube case reached an important decision, one that hearkens back to the decision that destroyed Napster in its first form in July of 2001.

The utopian idea that the Internet is a free, limitless area where people can share ideas and files is losing steam to regulation.

Youtube is an Internet company that has not only become popularized due to the airing of user-created clips, but it's also extremely helpful to television shows. Youtube is also popular because people upload clips of random video that you would not have found otherwise. Youtube is the Coca-Cola of Internet video streaming.

People that didn't normally watch a particular show could actually make a show more popular just by looking up and watching particular clips. The clip then makes the rounds on entertainment news and in some cases, the regular news.

However, Viacom in the name of "protecting their brand" has stepped in and is now looking to take Google to task.

Now, much like Napster, these companies knew that the Internet was the future of their business. Why didn't Viacom (and the companies in it such as MTV, VH1, BET, etc.) take it upon themselves to develop Internet streaming capabilities before Youtube got massively popular?

Record labels back in 1999-2000 knew that the Internet would eventually be vital to music in some form, so why didn't they come up with a plan to make music available in a digital form until I-Tunes exploded? 

Youtube and Napster beat those companies to the punch and because those companies don't have much of a say, now they're trying to save face. I feel that this case is very similar to Youtube in that the damage has already been done.

Nobody's really going to go over to MTV's Overdrive to watch clips of The Hills (even with better quality video) because Youtube's brand name is stronger and they got there first. Well, nobody's going to watch The Hills anyway, but that's another story for another time.

Viacom and Youtube came to an agreement, however, I feel that it could still lead to future litigation and other companies could follow suit, effectively killing a major part of what's made Youtube so popular.

I'd like to ask readers what they think about the recent decision and what they go on Youtube for. Don't worry, I'm not trying to get your IP address or your social security number. Yet.

Are you worried that you might get sued by a record label, movie company, or other media conglomerate?

A band a day...The Leo Project

The Leo Project is a band from Kansas City, Missouri that has a perfect mix of riffage, rhythm, and soulful vocals.

The Leo Project is:
Tyler Lyon (lead singer/guitarist)
Creighton Bibbs (guitarist)
Sean Hamel (bassist)
Lance Bennett (drummer)

If you take Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, make him the lead singer of Breaking Benjamin and sprinkle a little metalcore on them, you might have something that sounds like The Leo Project.

They put out their debut record, The Burning, a couple of years back with positive results from CD Baby and are one of the artists who have decided to take part in Best Buy's new Regional CD initiative.

They've played with the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Sevendust, Seether, Three Days Grace, and Red. 

Listening to material from their previous record and the upcoming record on their Myspace, they are destined to go national. 

Tyler's vocals are among the best all-around vocals I've heard of any lead singer, signed or unsigned, male or female. He can sing smoothly like a Myles Kennedy or straight up scream like a Howard Jones.

The Leo Project is supposed to put out their sophomore effort by the end of the year, although more touring in their region and the Best Buy initiative may put that on hold for a bit.

To get an idea of what they're like live, here are performances of Predicting the Rain and a cover of Mr. Mister's Broken Wings, one of my favorite songs of the 80's.

A band a day...Charetta.

A band a day helps keep the boredom away. Over the course of this blog, I will do my best to try and post about a different band in as much detail as I possibly can.

I've decided to start this feature with a band that I've been following closely for the past five months called Charetta.

Charetta is:
Angelina del Carmen (lead singer)
Pablo LaFrossia (guitarist)
Dave Chisholm (guitarist)
Richard Mollo (bassist)
Adonis Sanchez (drummer)

If Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil lost her accent and became the lead singer of Dark New Day, you'd have something that sounds like Charetta.

February 11, 2008 marks the first time that I saw this band perform live. Within the past five months, I've seen the rapid transformation of a band the likes of which I've never seen before.

The first couple of times that I saw this band, they were good and I could tell that they had potential. However, with the addition of a fifth member two months ago (guitarist Dave Chisholm), potential isn't something they is now something that they own

Their debut EP and upcoming full-length will be produced by Brett Hestla, lead singer of Dark New Day, former touring bassist for Creed, and one of my favorite producers right now. 

He's produced nationally recognized artists such as Faktion and Framing Hanley.

Charetta has the charisma and the accessibility to become one of the top female-fronted bands in the country.

To give you an idea of what they're like live, here's two opening songs from a recent set.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A gentleman never tells his secrets...

Luckily for you guys, I'm not a gentleman.

As some of you might know, I have a ton of websites that I go to to get extremely important information on the bands I research and without any further ado, I'm going to list them and give you a small idea of what those sites do...

Absolute Punk: Great resource of news regarding the most popular pop-punk, post-hardcore, and metal bands. Champions smaller artists.
All Access: Radio industry website. Posts information about jobs, particular formats of radio and the songs and artists going for adds from week to week. (registration required)
Billboard: Probably the most popular of these resources...this site goes into detail regarding chart-topping hits. 
Crazed Hits: A&R resource that showcases unsigned artists. Featured Katy Perry, Colbie Caillat, and One Republic before they got signed.
FMQB (Friday Morning Quarterback): Summarizes music news and posts songs going for adds in particular formats.
Hits Daily Double: Posts music news in detail and posts estimates of weekly album sales a day before Billboard posts final numbers (registration required).
I Heart Music: Clear Channel gets so much crap for not playing new music, but this initiative that they have of trying to get independent artists play is great. Even if they don't, you'll probably discover an artist that you like. They also play occasional album streams and their unplugged series called "Stripped".
Kings of A&R: Similar to Crazed Hits in that they're both A&R resources, but this site is a bit more into detail.
Myspace: Just remember that if you don't have one, you don't exist.
Plugged In: Great music video website that shows videos in HD.
Purevolume: Great music website that seems to post more exclusives than Myspace. It's almost like a Myspace for members of Absolute Punk.
Tunelab Music: My personal favorite resource because it has music news for the kind of bands that I listen to and that I'll post here.
Videostatic: Great music video website that posts music videos and information about videos that have been or will be shot.
Youtube: Great website to find live and rare performances and music videos you haven't seen in years. Not so great for the quality...but the fact that it's there is more than enough.

I may find more over time, but these sites have NEVER let me down. Unless they themselves are down.


If opinions are like assholes, then people who have blogs are assholes and as of today, I am declaring myself an asshole.

But in all seriousness, hello and welcome to my blog!

You're probably wondering why and what it's all about.

It all stems from a message board post from one of my friends. 

I post a lot about things related to my favorite music and I like to research for anything related to the music that I like, which is generally hard rock and metal. 

Didn't think much of it at the time, but I think that I may have found my calling.

In this blog, you'll find a lot of things music-related...anything from CD and live reviews to band recommendations to analysis on the current state of the music industry. 

I hope that whether you're into the same music or not that you get an appreciation of the music and that by reading this blog that you can be as passionate as I am about music in general.

Why did I get into rock music?

When I was a kid, I grew up to Whitney Houston, George Michael, and Janet Jackson. It should really just end there, right? Heh...

My uncle was an aspiring rapper in the early 90's and listened to anything and everything from EPMD (his favorite rap group) to Poison. When he was rapping he sampled all different genres of music including jazz, classical, and religious music.

In the mid 90's he introduced me to Smashing Pumpkins and The Cure. 

But my appreciation for rock music in general didn't really start until I asked my uncle if I could borrow Metallica's self-titled Black Album in 1999. I borrowed that album for my entire junior year of high school and Metallica had me at "Say your prayers..."

From there, my aunt (who's favorite artist is Prince) introduced me to 3 Doors Down. From 3 Doors Down, I moved to Linkin Park and from Linkin Park, I eventually moved to my favorite artist Evanescence.

My experience with Evanescence and the members of their message boards has gotten me to where I am today. A lot of the bands that I listen to today are as a result of the board and I am truly grateful. 

So again, welcome and happy reading.