Monday, February 23, 2009

No Good Music Goes Unlistened (Volume 3): Nine Days

Does anyone remember the band Nine Days?

If you don't, let me refresh your memory.

Absolutely (Story of a Girl) was one of the top songs in the year 2000.

If I Am also earned modest play that year.

The Madding Crowd earned a gold record and they were ready for more success with their follow-up record.

That is until the follow-up record So Happily Unsatisfied never actually came.

Sony pushed the record back to the point where in late 2002, the band left.

It took years for Nine Days to actually get back the record that they recorded, but they got it back and have since given it to fans who'd been waiting for it in the first place for free.

The album So Happily Unsatisfied is one of the best pop-rock albums money can't buy. They could have been bigger than bands that had hit in that same year including Lifehouse and Vertical Horizon. 

That being said, they have continued to put out music on a consistently regular basis since 2002.

Lead singer, John Hampson's solo work has even caught the attention of Disney, as a song that he recorded called "The In Crowd" has been reworked into a song for Hannah Montana's Mitchel Musso.

A Change in Pace...Fiction Family

Fiction Family is the collective musical effort of Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek lead singer Sean Watkins.

Each man has paved his own way to both commercial and critical success. However, it's where these paths meet that they have formed.

Fiction Family was born in 2005, casually writing songs together.

Without any music even officially released, they earned serious offers from Starbucks' Hear Music and other labels before eventually signing with ATO Records, the label Dave Matthews found at the turn of the century.

Fiction Family isn't so much a mix of simply Switchfoot and Nickel Creek, but more of a mixture of each of the solo projects that they've released.

The music is about as laid back as the city that they were conceived in (San Diego), featuring a sound scape of ocean-kissed acoustic pop (I've been reading way too much perfume descriptions).

Each singer leads on a song (Jon leading on most) giving it a sense of unconventionality.

Their album is a little bit more diverse than acoustic has a Beatlesesque sound on the song "When She's Near" and Nickel Creek-esque bluegrass on "Closer Than You Think".

No word yet on whether this will be an ongoing project, but this album has cemented the careers of both Foreman and Watkins as wonderfully talented singer-songwriters.

I will now highlight their past and present projects.


Nickel Creek:

Fiction Family:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Change in Pace...Brian Vodinh

Brian Vodinh is not a familiar name. And yet, he is.

Vodinh is the drummer for a little known band called 10 Years. He's been their drummer since the band was founded in 1999. However, it's not the only instrument he can play.

Brian Vodinh is also a guitarist and he's been playing around, quite literally, with a few songs currently on his Myspace page.

10 Years is known for their layered introspective, dark, and melodic hard rock. Brian Vodinh's music is stripped down and surprisingly upbeat.

Vodinh, who'd lived a life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, before finding love and making a family has cleaned up his life and now reflects that in his optimistic music.

Musically, he's reminiscent of Jack Johnson, vocally...surprisingly he's reminiscent of Jesse Hasek, the lead singer of the band he plays for. I guess if Jesse were to mess up his vocal cords for a few days, Vodinh would make a pretty good stand in.

Let's hope that doesn't happen, but instead hope for Vodinh's solo success. No word on whether this will turn into a full on project...however, I think it'd be a waste of Vodinh's talent as a singer/songwriter.

In the meantime, here's a version of 10 Years' So Long, Goodbye featuring Brian Vodinh on guitar and backup vocals.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Change of Pace...Stars Go Dim.

I'd gone onto the Tunelab Music Message Board last week and posted a band that I thought fit the bill of bands on that site. The band, just for the record, was a band called Atom Smash. I thought there'd be a decent reaction.

However, someone actually mentioned that they were tired of bands like this that are seemingly interchangeable with each other and that Atom Smash sounds like 10 different bands that he's already heard on active rock radio.

Instead of getting upset about it, I actually thought about my blog which caters to those types of bands. I thought that it would actually be a great way to challenge myself.

I don't post enough about artists or bands outside of my favorite genre and I pigeonhole myself because people think that I don't listen to anything else.

So the challenge starts now and perhaps I'll post more artists that don't necessarily have that same active rock sound.

September 26, 2008 marked the end of an era for Christian rock band Pillar. After supporting the album For the Love of the Game it was announced that Lester Estelle, drummer of the band through its most successful eras, played his last show. As it should turn out, co-founding member and bassist Michael "Kalel" Wittig also decided to leave the band.

It turned out that Lester and Kalel left for Stars Go Dim, a band that formed in late 2007. Pun intended, it was a huge leap of faith.

Stars Go Dim is:
Chris Cleveland: Vocals
Joey Avalos: Guitar
Michael "Kalel" Wittig: Bassist
Lester Estelle: Drummer

Three of the four members of this band had stints in Pillar, Avalos being the third.

This band mixes pop, rock, soul, and even a bit of jazz to create a refreshing radio-friendly sound.

I think the first artist you'll compare this band to is Gavin DeGraw because Chris Cleveland has a very similar voice.

The band has earned a buzz very quickly and are going to play the massive South by Southwest festival in Austin next month.

Their debut album is scheduled for release next month and features the song Come Around.

In the meantime, here are live performances of Come Around and Walk On.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rock on the Range 2009 (Part II)

The Superstars:
Buckcherry-For almost 15 years, Buckcherry has been doing their thing. In 2005, after a three year hiatus, their careers were reborn with the album 15. It earned them the first Platinum album of their career. They put out Black Butterfly towards the end of last year. They've co-headlined with Avenged Sevenfold and have also played Crue Fest, so it'll be a reunion of sorts when they play their first Rock on the Range.
Watch this: Crazy Bitch, Lit Up

Shinedown-They've been a very successful band with one Gold and one Platinum album to date. The Sound of Madness is their latest in a string of very popular albums and "Second Chance" could be their first song to hit the pop top 40. Brent Smith is one of the most vocal frontmen live and he sings to the congregation of Shinedown fans. This is their second consecutive year performing at the Rock on the Range.

The Used-Bert McCracken is one of the most charismatic frontmen in the business. The band has an unapologetic live show and it has earned them headlining slots at such shows as The Taste of Chaos tour. They'll be releasing a new album in 2009 and this show will likely kick off the album's era. This is their first year performing at the Rock on the Range.

Flyleaf-One of the hardest working bands in the business, Flyleaf toured behind their self-titled debut for over 3 1/2 years, playing shows on Family Values and Music as a Weapon. They've been working on a new album which could be out by the summer. Even though this is their second consecutive year on the bill, this will be the first time the band will perform as Lacey had a sore throat last year.

Chevelle-Chevelle has been a very successful radio band for almost the last decade and among the most consistent. They put out Vena Sera in 2007 and have been on major tours from Music as a Weapon to Ozzfest. They've been working on a new album and may actually put it out by the summer as well. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rock on the Range 2009 (Part I): A band-by-band perspective.

For the third year in a row, the rock world will once again unite in Columbus, Ohio on May 16th and 17th for the Rock on the Range festival. Every year, the festival has grown.

In 2007, it was a one-day, one stage event.
Last year, it was two-day, two stage event.
This year, it will be a two-day, three stage event.

This post is going to give you a list of bands performing and I will also attempt to give you an idea of what kind of a band they are like live as best as I can.

The Headliners:
Slipknot-They are unquestionably the most successful metal band of this generation. Every album they have put out since their 1997 debut has either gone Gold or Platinum. Seven Grammy nominations, with their first and only win in 2007 for "Before I Forget", and legions of their fans, whom they refer to as "maggots". Jonas Brothers fans beware because Slipknot is here to stay. Corey Taylor is becoming one of the busiest frontmen in the rock world leading Slipknot and Stone Sour, while working on his own solo debut, scheduled to come out later this year. This is their first Rock on the Range.

Mötley Crüe-For almost 30 years, the Crüe have been raising hell. They are currently on their own stadium tour headlining with Hinder, Theory of a Deadman, and The Last Vegas (a band that won a contest to be signed on Eleven Seven Records (Trapt, Buckcherry), a label where Nikki Sixx is the president). This year, they intend to do a second year of the Crüe Fest, their take on a summer festival. Rock heavily influenced by the Crüe has become quite popular in the last couple of years. This is their first Rock on the Range event.

Alice in Chains-After working on their first new album in years, Alice in Chains is just about set to make their return. Rock on the Range is likely their kickoff. They've been playing live shows regularly for the last few years and have been resurrected with longtime friend William Duvall. Layne Staley will indeed never be forgotten as the songs that had been sung by him for nine years will live on for ages. Often celebrated, always underrated...this is Alice in Chains' first Rock on the Range event.

Korn-One of the most influential bands of the nu-metal movement, Korn will make their American return this May. Korn has had their share of troubles with a bit of a revolving door of touring members, but there is still no question that they are still among the best live bands in the world. Their Family Values tour is among the most successful summer tours bringing in hundreds of thousands of fans from across the country and around the world. They are also working on their next album which is rumored to hit stores late this year. This may signal a return of Family Values for 2009. This is their first Rock on the Range.

Avenged Sevenfold-The youngest of the headliners, these guys have been rocking faces off for a decade. Their streamlined style has given them mainstream success unlike anything that they've ever achieved before as a band. Their raucous live show has put the guitar back in the forefront of the rock world. They've headlined shows such as Taste of Chaos and have played on Ozzfest in their young career. This marks their first Rock on the Range event.

Touching on the 2009 Grammy Awards...

The 51st annual presentation of the Grammy Awards came and went.

It was a night of surprises, a night of great performances, but it was not without controversy.

The biggest surprise was Blink 182's return to the stage. Blink 182 has been on hiatus for about four years due to separate projects (including Angels & Airwaves and +44). They'll be going on tour over the summer and putting out a new album potentially sometime later this year.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss took home five Grammies including Record and Album of the Year.

Lil' Wayne took home four, dominating the Rap categories and Coldplay earned Song of the Year with "Viva La Vida".

There were performances aplenty, over 20, probably enough to make a CD or DVD of them all.

I probably won't be predicting the Grammies ever again, because I didn't fare too well. Again, good thing I didn't bet on it.

However, the one story that made the Grammies so memorable barely had anything to do with the Grammies.

Chris Brown turned himself into the authorities after a physical fight with Rihanna. The story is still unfolding and the drama continues.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A band a day...Don't Wake Aislin

My daily routine for finding bands has been to check Tunelab Music's board in the hope of finding the next big thing. So far, so VERY good.

From the musical hotbed of Dallas, Texas comes a female-fronted band that much like another female-fronted band from Texas has the potential to knock your socks off.

Don't Wake Aislin is:
Deena Jakoub (Vocals)
Brandon Brown (Guitar)
Kyler Nichols (Guitar)
Joey Ramirez (Bass)
Justin Keyes (Drums)

Cornerstone Festival is probably the biggest Christian Rock festival in the entire country. It takes place for a week in suburban Chicago, Illinois (oh yeah, that place again!).

Last year, this band played the Label Showcase stage. This band apparently played so well that people voted them to have the best set of the entire festival.

You want to know who played that festival?
Family Force 5, Skillet, As I Lay Dying, The Almost, Flyleaf, Anberlin, Demon Hunter, Disciple, Hawk Nelson, Living Sacrifice...even THIS BAND!

All of these bands, have humongous followings in the Christian community. I've personally seen Flyleaf and Skillet live. To say that this band was or is better live convinces me that I HAVE TO SEE THEM!

Their most recent work was produced by Geoff Rockwell (Forever the Sickest Kids).

This band is hard to categorize for me, but being that they're a Christian female-fronted band from Texas, you know they're going to be compared to Flyleaf. They seem to be getting the occasional comparison to Paramore as well. This is the same problem I had with VersaEmerge, where I feel that their sound is a little bit too different to be compared to either.

They're currently touring anywhere and everywhere that isn't the Northeast so make sure you guys have a camcorder handy in case you happen to see them live.

Here's their video for Mighty to Save.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Predicting the Grammies.

It's that time of the year where people call their bookies and make their predictions on music's biggest night.

I don't think I'll be good at predicting them, but I'll give it the good old college try.

Record of the Year:
Adele - Chasing Pavements
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
M.I.A. - Paper Planes
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Please Read This Letter

This is probably my favorite category in the top four. I'm going to go with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I'll be honest and say that I'm not terribly familiar with the song, but Alison Krauss is the most successful female artist in Grammy history. Combine that with the greatness of the Led Zeppelin lead singer and it's very hard to go against them. Although if there's anyone else with a chance in this category, it's gotta be Coldplay.

Album of the Year:
Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends
Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III
Ne-yo - Year of the Gentleman
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
Radiohead - In Rainbows

In this category, I think it's Coldplay's year. They've got the commerciality and the artistic credibility to win this category. It was kind of like when U2 won their award. They were just waiting to win the big one. Coldplay's already won two Alternative Music Album awards and they seem to be the favorite.

Song of the Year:
Estelle feat. Kanye West - American Boy
Adele - Chasing Pavements
Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Coldplay is obviously the favorite, but I don't think Coldplay's running away with this one. I think Jason Mraz has a really good shot and I pick him to win this category. He's always been a really good songwriter that knows how to use wordplay really well and this is probably his most popular song since his debut single in 2003 "The Remedy".

Best New Artist:
The Jonas Brothers
Lady Antebellum
Jazmine Sullivan

Ah yes, the much maligned Best New Artist category. It has sent many an artist into obscurity and so meet your winners, The Jonas Brothers.

Quick Picks: (Predicting Winners in Bold)
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance:
Adele - Chasing Pavements
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
Duffy - Mercy
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl
Pink - So What

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance:
Kid Rock - All Summer Long
John Mayer - Say
Paul McCartney - That Was Me
Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
Ne-yo - Closer
James Taylor - Wichita Linemen

Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals:
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Eagles - Waiting in the Weeds
Gnarls Barkley - Going On
Maroon 5 - Won't Go Home Without You
One Republic - Apologize

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals:
Alicia Keys & John Mayer - Lesson Learned
Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Timbaland - 4 Minutes
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Rich Woman
Rihanna & Maroon 5 - If I Never See Your Face Again
Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown - No Air

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance:
John Mayer - Gravity
Paul McCartney - I Saw Her Standing There
Bruce Springsteen - Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Eddie Vedder - Rise
Neil Young - No Hidden Path

Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals:
AC/DC - Rock and Roll Train
Coldplay - Violet Hill
Eagles - Long Hard Road Out of Eden
Kings of Leon - Sex On Fire
Radiohead - House of Cards

Best Hard Rock Performance:
Disturbed - Inside the Fire
Judas Priest - Visions
The Mars Volta - Wax Simulcra
Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles
Rob Zombie - Lords of Salem

Best Metal Performance:
Dragonforce - Heroes Of Our Time
Judas Priest - Nostradamus
Metallica - My Apocalypse
Ministry - Under My Thumb
Slipknot - Psychosocial

Best Rock Instrumental Performance:
David Gilmour - Castellorizon
Metallica - Suicide and Redemption
Nine Inch Nails - 34 Ghosts I-IV
Rush - Hope (Live for the Art of Peace)
Zappa Plays Zappa featuring Steve Vai and Napoleon Murphy Brock - Peaches En Regalia

Best Rock Song:
Bruce Springsteen - Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Radiohead - House of Cards
Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
Kings of Leon - Sex On Fire
Coldplay - Violet Hill

Best Rock Album:
Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
Kid Rock - Rock and Roll Jesus
Kings of Leon - Only by the Night
Metallica - Death Magnetic
The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely

Best Alternative Music Album:
Beck - Modern Guilt
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
Radiohead - In Rainbows

A band a day...Janus

Chicago is back on the map.

You've got Chevelle, Fall Out Boy, Deep Dish Pizza, and the 44th and current President of the United States Barack Obama.

Janus gives Chicago a taste of the future with their brand of post-modern alternative metal.

Janus is:
David Scotney (Vocals)
Mike Tyranski (Guitar)
Alan Quitman (Bass)
Johnny Salazar (Drums)

Janus was formed in 2004. They've been slowly but surely gaining a reputation in the Chicago scene. Enter last year's Red Right Return. Red Right Return has been received so well that they showcased for major labels last month (such as Virgin and Mercury).

Janus can be compared to the Deftones, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Tool. Catchy hooks, intense lyrics, and heavy riffs aren't simply what this band offers. It's an entire experience that engulfs your attention. Red Right Return is an easy listen at 10 tracks, and at the same time, it's very challenging.

My personal favorite song is "If I Were You" a song that you'll be humming in your sleep.

If you love Chicago, you'll love Janus.

They have better hair than this guy.

Here are the songs Pick Your Prize and The Nerve.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


It's been a little while since I've profiled bands here...but I intend to sometime soon.

In the meantime, I figured I'd update on the bands I've already profiled.

Charetta will be putting out their debut album Defying the Inevitable in April.

The Leo Project has put out their second album Every Song Reminds Me.

Freestate recorded a new song with producer Forrester Savell (Karnivool) called "The Burning" which will debut on their Myspace page on February 13th.

The Veer Union will be releasing their Universal debut in the spring.

VersaEmerge has released a self-titled EP on Fueled By Ramen, their first on the label and their second EP overall.

Fall of Envy has a new lead singer.

Halestorm is currently touring with major players like Shinedown and 10 Years. Their Atlantic debut is said to be getting released in the spring...even though I've been waiting to hear it for almost four years.

Adelita's Way is prepping their major label debut with Virgin/Capitol and hope to get it released by the late spring/early summer.

The Art of Dying will be making a major announcement on their Myspace page on Tuesday, February 10th.

Breaking the Silence has been releasing demos from their upcoming CD.

Vertigo will be releasing their second album sometime later this month called The Coming and the Going.

Society Red periodically releases new music even though they're still somehow unsigned while Amaru has played their final show.

Black Water Rising will be putting out their debut album on April 7th.

Forever Oeuvre has put out an EP that they have been selling at shows. Their song "First Stone" is the #1 song on Scranton's 97.9X (the active rock station over there). Kinda helps when Chad Szeliga of the Scranton-based Breaking Benjamin is playing in your band.

Plenty of great news for the bands that I've profiled here. Hopefully, there will be plenty more bands here worthy of a plug.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Day the Music Died...

Fifty years ago yesterday, tragedy struck the music world as three of its biggest stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper all lost their lives, along with pilot Roger Peterson, as a plane crashed in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 3rd, 1959.

Now, I know that I normally blog about contemporary rock artists, but you have to understand how important this is in the grand scheme of things.

A big reason why they call it The Day the Music Died isn't simply just because of the 1971 Don McLean song "American Pie" (even though it is). It has more to do with the fact that when those three artists died, the movement that they helped build died with it. The music changed. The mood changed.

As sad as it is to say, it's almost as if these musicians died for another movement to come and take over. However, don't take that to mean that the music that those big three created was forgotten.

Without Buddy Holly, you may have never had the Beatles.

I feel that this has happened throughout music history.

For example, Selena's tragic death in 1995 eventually gave way to the Latin invasion of 1999 which included Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, and for God sakes, Lou Bega.

The tragic deaths of Tupac Shakur and Christopher "Biggie Smalls" Wallace gave way to rap becoming more mainstream than ever before (Jay-Z and 50 Cent among its biggest benefactors).

The death of Kurt Cobain was considered the death of grunge and led to the creation of what is called post-grunge (the genre I cover the most on this website).

Anytime you think of the death of a musician that died way before his or her time, think about The Day the Music Died and pay your respects.