Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Band a Day...Even Heroes

And speaking of great bands from Arkansas, here's a group with a great sound and hopefully a great future.

Even Heroes is:
Nathan Schroyer (Vocals)
Bruce Curtis (Guitar)
Thomas Doss (Guitar)
Billy Law (Bass)
Matt Chapko (Drums)

Originally known as Lifter, Even Heroes hails from the Fort Smith/Fayetteville area of Arkansas.

I'd first heard of them through the Shallow Bay, Breaking Benjamin's board, about a year ago. You can hear a bit of Breaking Benjamin and Alter Bridge in their music.

Throughout the year they'll be playing throughout the region of Arkansas and Tennessee, but their polished sound could take them much further than that.

If I had to pick a couple of songs to listen to first and foremost on their page, definitely "The Highway" and "Stellar" to give you an idea of their range in sound.

They haven't been around for long, but they've got some great music ahead of them.

In the meantime, here are some live songs...

There are more really good songs on their Youtube page.

CFW Rocks Live: Evanescence (Before They Were Stars)

Before I begin, let me say that I apologize for not updating the blog sooner and that should hopefully change in the coming weeks.

Those of you who know me off of this blog know how big a fan of this band that I am.

Many of you may know that they hit it big in 2003 with the Paul McCoy featured rap-rock anthem Bring Me to Life.

But what many may not know is how they got to that point.

The band started in the mid 90s as just Amy Lee and Ben Moody when they were young teenagers. They started writing songs together and released their self-titled EP in 1998, which included My Immortal, a song that would be all over top-40 radio 6 years later.

Ben Moody, who wrote most of the song as a tribute to his late grandfather, wrote it at the tender age of 15.

I think a big reason why I liked them so much is because for their ages at the time of their popularity, their writing was so if they lived a lifetime before they've really lived.

Although I'd only really known Fallen, I'd eventually learned of their prior works which made them all the more attractive to listen to.

Sometime in 2004, there was a poor quality video that surfaced of Evanescence performing a Live cover of The Dolphins Cry. Ever since that time, there'd been no actual video of them performing before the Fallen era.

That was until two weeks ago when a video from 1999 surfaced on Ebay. These videos ranged from $25 - $105 as far as being sold and I was lucky to get a copy for the low end to which I did this...sorry, I had to.

The video is priceless because it shows a very young band of Amy, Ben, and background singer Stephanie Pierce (who later sang on songs such as Lies and Understanding).

I'm going to give you an idea of how some of the songs sounded live back then, how they sound like now and how the song has evolved...first of all thanks to user CloudStar86 for the Vino's videos.

I'll start with Whisper...


I've said it on other boards, but who knew that the band you see in 1999 would be the band that you see in 2003?

It's living proof that if you like an artist enough and support them enough that they could be the next big thing.

It's a part of what this blog is all about...finding the next big thing and drumming up support for them. 

Even if you may not be into this band, I think it's very cool that you can take a trip back to what they were like as a local artist with less than 100 people probably watching them live as opposed to seeing them in front of thousands. It certainly makes me appreciate video more that's for sure.

The Piracy Debate...

I've been seeing arguments for and against piracy ever since the Napster-era on the Internet. It's not going to go away anytime soon.

It's still making a bunch of headlines as our 44th President Barack Obama sides with the RIAA in getting rid of piracy.

Piracy has gotten to the point where radio stations follow the most popular songs being downloaded on Peer to Peer websites on Big Champagne.

First, I'd like to make the argument against...

Let me say first of all that even though I may seem critical of labels for many things, I am not completely against record labels or the business. When a record label gets behind their artists correctly, they can flourish in the business.

I feel that Flyleaf is a perfect example. Here's a new active rock band that from very early on had high profile tours and gained fans little by little. I know fans got tired of seeing them promote the same album over and over, but the upside to that is that they eventually earned a platinum album and can pretty much demand headlining dollars now.

The argument against piracy is that when you don't buy CD's that you take away the advertising, marketing, and promotion money needed for an artist to succeed.

I can see that. It just seems like these days that nine times out of ten that artists don't get promoted or advertised well enough to maintain any type of success. A lot of artists that have been signed to these major label deals are either "one and done" or done before they even get to one because the label doesn't see a profit being made from them.

There's also a compelling argument for piracy.

There's a case being made that piracy actually gets people to buy more music.

Quite frankly, I can see that too. 

While there are a lot of pirates that tend to just download any and everything and not support an artist at all, there are also fans of artists who download advance copies of their favorite artists' albums and then turn around to either buy the album or go to shows. Also, there are music fans that just want a free listen to an artist to find out whether they're worth spending the dough for or not. More available music to find would generally lead to more music to buy.

A problem is that record labels don't see "good" pirates and "bad" pirates, they just see pirates.

I think that there are things that record labels can do and have done to avoid the problem as best they can.

One good thing that they have done is put out album streams a week or more before the album. I can't tell you how many times I've used this personally to buy a new album.

But they can do more.

Based on the Norwegian Twitter incident, I feel that labels need to open up their markets. I don't know how easy that's going to be, but in this digital world, there are still labels that release songs and albums exclusively to the US.

Granted, there are some artists that don't tour outside of the US and Canada, however, they are still popular outside of the country.

I also feel that the same is true vice versa for foreign artists. The digital world has made the world smaller and has given people a reason to buy music overseas and from small, independent artists worldwide.

Another idea that I made good use of is an immediate digital release. Let me explain...Halestorm made their album available last month even though the physical release was six weeks away. What this did was that it made it possible to get the album as quickly as possible. No waiting for a purchase it and get the album immediately. Apparently, the same holds true for Amanda Palmer when you pre-order her album.

I like this idea because it benefits fans the most. Fans want to have the music as quickly as possible and want to support their artists. Once a song (not a demo) hits Myspace, it should be available for purchase. Myspace does have Amazon and Snocap helping with downloads, but I think that Myspace should also have their own service, especially for independent and smaller artists.

An album generally leaks anywhere between two weeks and two months before an album comes out either externally (from music stores) or internally (from the label).

If labels grab hold of that idea, they can still promote an artist traditionally to the radio and they don't have to put such an emphasis on first week sales when an album is sold physically.

In the age of Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, fans and friends of fans will know that an album or song is for sale and will generally purchase it.

This is the age of instant gratification where people want stuff now now now.

One idea I would like to see is another version of "try before you buy". 

I'm pretty sure that digital music technology is to the point where you should be able to download a song onto your player and "rent" a song or album before you decide whether to buy it or not.

I think that the services that the labels were trying to push like Spiralfrog and Qtrax could have been useful for this if they had more choices available.

There should be a service out there with a subscription service where you rent songs between a week and a month with no pressure and then from there decide to buy them.

As I said before, I think that labels are still useful in the sense of marketing and promotion, but I think that in an age that requires instant gratification that they should free up markets so that fans of music around the world can enjoy music at the same time without feeling guilty about it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

CFW Rocks Live...

I've actually got two separate stories to talk about.

The first live story is from April 2nd.

This one is a little bit more personal.

I went to see a band featuring someone that I went to high school with. His name is Craig Howe and he is the lead male vocal for an indie rock band called The Golden Age of Radio.

Indie rock is not generally my thing, but it was really good to see him still doing what he did when he was in high school, playing guitar in a band.

They're going to be working on an album and while the demos on their Myspace are a little raw, they definitely sound better live.

Now for story #2, which actually happened this past Saturday the 11th.

If you remember, earlier in this blog, I'd mentioned a band called Static Cycle.

I got to see them at a place in NYC called The Ace of Clubs.

There weren't a heck of a whole lot of people a matter of fact, there were five people that went in to actually check them out. There are five people in the band.

They just came over from their home state of Alaska about a month ago and they're trying to develop a name within this enormous scene. 

Their 40 minute set featured songs from their debut album When We Meet Again

Well, even though there wasn't much of a crowd, they proved through their set that they're experienced and have the potential to get on a nice tour with other up and coming bands and hopefully get signed as well.

I talked briefly with Jared Navarre, the lead singer, about how hard the scene is here and how it's been made even more difficult with K-Rock no longer existing. I also made sure to plug the ever loving hell out of the website that I found them at, Tunelab Music.

But that wasn't the end of the night for me. I figured while I was down there that I'd bar hop to The Crash Mansion. The Crash Mansion is one of my favorite venues in New York City. It was the first small venue on the Lower East Side that I went to a concert for when I went to see Rev(elation) Theory back in 2005.

They have this mini-festival where they have a whole bunch of New York hard rock bands simply called Gotham Rocks

A bunch of bands played and I got to see four of them.

The first was Diablo Royale. I'm not much into classic rock, but they tore it up quite nicely. They included a cover of Jimi Hendrix's classic song "Fire". 

The next band that played was Fixer. I'm really sounding picky, but I'm also not a big fan of hair metal type bands either. However, they really connect well with their fans and Evan Saffer has one hell of a yell.

Next up was Black Water Rising. This was one of the bands I wanted to see because I particularly loved the song "Brother Go On" and I'd mentioned them on my blog before. This band is interesting because they play more of a Southern brand of rock and yet they're from Brooklyn. They're everything a hard rock band should be. Gritty, funky, and filthy. They didn't have to be pretty, they just flat out brought it. This show would have effectively served as their CD release party as their debut was scheduled to come out on April 7th. However, they're in negotiations with a label and after their set, there was no doubt why.

The last band, Shadows Lie, I'd actually seen before. The first time I saw them was when they opened for Fixer and Machina back in December of '07.

It looked like most of the people that were at the show were there to see them. The fans were hyped up and even though the lead singer Kira Leigh couldn't get her vocal effects to work (she actually uses her voice almost as a lead guitar in some songs), they still had the crowd in the palms of their hands. Not to mention that they have a bad ass Journey cover.

Temporary hearing loss has never sounded so good.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Congratulations are in order (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2009)!

The Class of 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class was inducted this past Saturday.

Two of the largest artists of my generation were inducted: Metallica and Run-DMC.

If you read the introduction to the blog, you may know how much of a role Metallica plays in my hard rock listening.

Metallica is probably the most influential hard rock band of the last 20 years. 

I'd be hard pressed to find a hard rock artist...any artist for that matter to have a better run of critically acclaimed albums through the first five of their career (Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, ...And Justice For All, Metallica).

And when you can say that your biggest critical failure still sold millions, you'd damn well better be in the Hall of Fame.

Run-DMC is only the second hip-hop act to be inducted, but their induction means more to rock than many will ever know.

The 1986 remake of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" is one of the most successful collaborations in music history. Rap wouldn't be nearly as popular as it is today without that song. It made rap-rock possible. The genre has many great artists including Rage Against the Machine and earlier Linkin Park, but that song made it abundantly clear that no one would do it better.

And that makes it all the more tragic that Jason Mizell, otherwise known as Jam-Master Jay, could not participate in the festivities. He died tragically in a hail of bullets on October 30, 2002.

While Run-DMC may not have performed, their music has and will continue to stand the test of time. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No Good Music Goes Unlistened (Volume 8): Thrice

Thrice has been rocking stages for over 10 years. 

They've run the musical gamut, going from what is called post-hardcore to dabbling in everything from electronica to blues on their latest project The Alchemy Index.

They'd been on Island Records for two albums (The Artist in the Ambulance, Vheissu), but I feel that their latest album proves that they don't need a major label to produce their work.

They're already working on their sixth album which is likely going to come out before the end of the year.

Another reason why I love this band is that a part of their profit from every album always go to a charity which they learned very early in their career at Sub City Records.

But if you're looking for something to hold you over until then, look no further than Water is Poison, one of the best Thrice fansites around. There are rare songs you could only find on vinyl that could be out of print by now, live rarities including solo performances by Dustin Kensrue and even fan covers.

My personal favorite Thrice songs are: Paper Tigers, Firebreather, Image of the Invisible (a song based on the Invisible Children charity), For Miles (a song inspired by jazz great Miles Davis), and Broken Lungs.