Monday, October 31, 2011

A band a day...Cyrenic

Cyrenic started largely as a one man project under Brian Zuckerman, the lead singer. Zuckerman self-recorded and self-produced the band's first two efforts, The Whites Of Our Lies and A New Meaning. He sang, played guitar, bass, did the programming and produced the whole enchilada...with some help from his friends.

As the project became more successful, Zuckerman desired to play these songs live and after the creation of A New Meaning, the band played their first shows. Their new album Dying to Live is highly anticipated and marks the first time Zuckerman is recording a full band effort.

Cyrenic includes:
Kevin Holmes - Guitar
Don Pastorius - Bass
Keith Pereira - Drums

The band's sound used to be a bit more melodic and perhaps even a bit poppier such as with the song Let It Burn. Even though we got a taste of what the album may sound like with their new single Built of Sand, the sound of the band is definitely trending in a heavier direction. Their sound can be most compared to Rains, a band often associated with Evans Blue. Cyrenic's Dying to Live hits digital stores on November 22nd, giving us something we can all be thankful for aside from just stuffing our faces with turkey.

You can currently pre-order their new album on their website, but you can also download a Cyrenic sampler, which features material from their first two albums here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two bands a day?!? Hope Kills Fear/Park Lane

Two great bands, one great lead singer. For about 15 years, Carley Coma has been rocking stages. He started in the great math metal band known as Candiria, but ever since, he's embarked on two more mainstream-ish efforts.

The first of which is a local area band that I've actually had the pleasure of seeing live, Hope Kills Fear, which just so happens to be one of my favorite band names ever.

Hope Kills Fear includes:
Julio Arias - Guitars/Vocals
Steve Richards - Guitars/Vocals
Joe Fazio - Bass

Hope Kills Fear displays more of a religious side to Coma. The reason this band exists is because of a really bad car accident that took members of Candiria to the hospital. Coma underwent a spiritual awakening while healing and the lyrics are largely inspired by it. Hope Kills Fear would fit in perfectly on a bill that features the likes of a Decyfer Down or Red.

Just on the name alone, you can tell that they're all about positivity. It's so easy for bands to focus on negativity and offer no solutions, but Hope Kills Fear looks to change that with songs that include "Surrender" and "Save Me". If you like my description, I think you should check them out on ReverbNation.

The second band that I'd like to mention is Park Lane. Park Lane seems to be on the fast lane to success with their first tour being with the reformed Fuel under first lead singer Brett Scallions.

Park Lane includes:
Mike Keller - Guitar
Grayson Hurd - Guitar
Clayton Wages - Bass
Cameron Stucky - Drums

Park Lane is a bit more on the secular side of things and, while they may wind up garnering a bit more mainstream attention than Hope Kills Fear, it doesn't make Park Lane less heavy. In fact, their debut album Letters From The Fire is just that; fiery and uncompromisingly heavy.

Park Lane has already toured the country and with songs such as "The Edge" and "Silence", they're destined to break rock radio even though they're still somehow unsigned.

I recommend checking out songs like the ones I mentioned on their ReverbNation page.

Maybe you're not familiar with Carley Coma, but the truth is that he's been one of the best lead singers out there that you have not yet heard. His versatility really pops out with these two great bands.

A band a day...Memory of a Melody

They say everything's bigger in Texas. I believe that thanks to the big, chunky sound of up and coming San Antonio band Memory of a Melody.

Memory of a Melody is:
Mario Galdos- Vocals
Wade Sigue - Guitar
Roel Castillo - Guitar
Joel Martinez - Bass
Robin Lopez- Drums

Memory of a Melody has been around for 3 years, but has been waiting for the perfect time to unleash their debut album Things That Make You Scream. Based on the amount of time it took them to make this record, it's clear that Memory of a Melody is all about crafting and perfecting their sound. That's not to say that their sound is not meant to be a little rough around the edges.

Their balance of melodic and heavy is not exactly for Mama Bear and not exactly for Papa Bear, but just right.

Their success thus far has earned them shows with Chevelle, 10 Years, and Framing Hanley to name a few. The success of their debut album seems to give them the ammunition to explode all over the airwaves in the coming year. They are quickly becoming a favorite of a lot of unsigned hard rock fans.

You owe it to yourself to check out the title track to their debut, "Break Away", and "Mask", all of which are available for free download on their ReverbNation.

Metallica: The Thing That Should Not Be?

Metallica is scheduled to release Lulu this coming Tuesday in the States, a collaboration with fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Lou Reed, who went in as a member of Velvet Underground (one of the band's biggest influences). The album has been streamed for the last couple of weeks on their website, earning universal panning and parodying the likes of which even St. Anger never saw.

Unquestionably, Metallica's first five albums alone (Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, ...And Justice For All, Metallica) were enough to send them into the Hall of Fame.

However, fans have been separating those five albums (in some cases, even separating Metallica) from the newer Metallica for years. It's either "hit or miss" from Load onward or many fans just can't be bothered to listen to the newer Metallica.

Is Metallica ruining their legacy with recent albums that have been critically destructive or do they still hold their place as one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Radio on Autopilot

When you listen to the radio, do you tend to listen at around the same time of the day? Try that for a week and find out how many times you listen to the same song at any particular time. Find out whether it's one song or more than one song.

I was listening to a station at work and they played Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory at the same time every day. I know this because every time I came in at around the same time and they played Edge of Glory.

This is not the first time this has happened. I remember back in my high school years when Janet Jackson had the song "Go Deep". Don't get me wrong, I love me some Janet, but every time I got on the school bus, that song played for about two, maybe three weeks.

I can't be the only one who's noticed this happening for an extended period of time. There's no excuse for these major radio stations to go on autopilot and not switch things up every now and again. It's bad enough you hear the same 4 or 5 songs every hour, but playing them at the same time as yesterday? Someone please get me my I-Pod.

Referring to radio stations, you are the radio station. You are the tastemaker. Consumers are occasionally naive, but they're not stupid. They're gonna notice if you're half-assing and are likely to ask for their I-Pod's like I did.

Clear Channel just got rid of a considerable chunk of DJ staff just this week. It sounds like Clear Channel is intending to centralize their business in select markets, which could mean playing music from remote areas or having DJ's from completely different areas of the country announce local news. They already syndicate some morning programs, but this could mean that you may be eventually be hearing the same song in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the same time as you would in New York City.

Again I ask, have you ever dealt with a station that plays the same song at around the exact same tme? What do you think this Clear Channel reorganization means for the individuality of radio stations?

The League of Extraordinary Djentlemen...Djent: The Next Big Thing?

Djent is a relatively new term to most mainstream rock music listeners. It's a onomatopoeic term that describes the sound an electric guitar makes, but the genre takes it to a whole other level.

Meshuggah is considered to be the pioneer of the genre. Djent is progressive metal that uses unconventional time measures and uses the guitar sound to give it the sheen of heavy that it displays on each and every song.

In this entry, apart from simply mentioning what it comes from, I'd like to recommend a few Djent bands to listen to.

After shows with Dream Theater and Fair to Midland, Periphery seems to be the band primed for the most success. Misha "Bulb" Mansoor created the band out of his own musical productions on guitar searching for the perfect vocalist before finally going with Spencer Sotelo in 2010.

Vocals, while present, don't seem to always be the main attraction in Djent as is the case with Animals as Leaders, an instrumental metal band that toured with Underoath and Thursday amongst others.

Djent hit the US, but its effect is largely felt overseas as well.

TesseracT has largely been put on a lot of the same tours that the previous two mentioned have been on. While they're not seemingly as popular as the other two, they seem to be growing steadily in the same direction. I've started to get into this band quite heavily myself in the last couple of months.

Finally, one Djent band that hasn't fully started that should be big in 2012 is Being, which is being produced by two Periphery members, one current (Misha Mansoor) and one former (Chris Sabol).

While there are specific characteristics of Djent, the bands and the differences between them are different enough that there's something for every metal fan.

Check 'em out!

A band a day...Vestascension

In this blog entry, I discuss my favorite music discovery of the entire year to date, Vestascension.

Vestascension is:
Mike Semesky: Vocals
Josh Clark: Vocals/Live Guitar
Justin Gosnell: Guitars/Keys/Programming (also the band manager)
Nathan Heavel: Bass
Mike Chubb: Drums (recently departed the band)

Vestascension is self-described as a progressive dream rock band from Frederick, Maryland, but prove to be so much more.

Their influences are as vast as the sound they ranges from dreamy ambient music to djent metal...sometimes even on the same song.

Vestascension has really been around for years, but didn't really start making music heavily until this year. They had a great idea where they would release one song a month for every month on the first day. Not only would that music be released every month, but it would be released every month for free.

I didn't catch on to this band until about April of this year which is around the time they put out Then We Are Here. That song seems to be their highlight thus far as it displays everything that is beautiful about this band's music. It's a band that is as intense as any without having to rely heavy on screaming vocals or omnipresent guitars.

That's not to say that they don't have great music that features guitar work. Lifoliage, which features members of bands from other local metal bands such as Periphery (whom I credit with my discovery of Vestascension), displays brilliant guitar work.

They aren't going to be a radio band (like a lot of the bands I like to post about), but I think that's what makes their sound refreshing.

Apart from the musical aspect, Vestascension takes their concept a step further by changing with the seasons. Their online presence changes with the time of the year. Their merchandise also changes with the seasons. There aren't any bands out there that take the total package into account and Vestascension looks to change all of that.

Unlike most bands where I can recommend a song or two for you, since everything they've released to date is a free download on their BandCamp page, I would suggest you download anything that's available. There's literally something for everybody.

Unfortunately, they've fallen behind schedule in their monthly music releases due to the recent departure of their drummer, but they are still plugging along.

Keep track of their progress on Facebook and Twitter!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

1991: The Stars of the Music Industry Collide

1991 was a landmark year in music.

Just to give you an idea of how important it was:
Nirvana - Nevermind
Metallica - Metallica
Pearl Jam - Ten
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Guns & Roses - Use Your Illusion I & II
REM - Out of Time

Yes, it was THAT big. Many of these artists' biggest albums came from this year alone. These were the albums that made these artists household names. Most of these artists still exist with the exceptions of Nirvana because of Kurt Cobain's 1994 suicide and REM, who just called it quits on September 21st of this year. Most, if not all of these artists, are in consideration for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if they aren't already in it (Metallica & REM).

What makes this year so special aside from all of these major albums being released is that it seems as if this was the industry at its finest moment.

Rock wasn't the only genre that was dominating the charts (though this is also one of the last times we would see so many rock acts dominate the chart).

Mariah Carey (Emotions), Michael Jackson (Dangerous), and Garth Brooks (Ropin' The Wind) (all among the top selling artists ever) also released major albums this year. Don't worry MC Hammer, Spin Doctors or Color Me Badd, we didn't forget about you guys (though I'm sure some of us would probably would like to).

Think of all of the tributes that just came out for Nevermind recently. All of those acts coming together for just one artist. One album.

The very reason Metallica can put out an album like Lulu is because of the self-titled, the best selling album of the Soundscan era and the inspiration for me listening to rock music in the first place.

Pearl Jam just recently celebrated their 20th anniversary with a documentary the likes of which you'd expect from National Geographic.

Red Hot Chili Peppers released their 10th studio album, I'm With You, in August achieving #1's all over the world.

And Guns & Roses...exist.

Many of the songs from these albums that came out 20 years ago are played almost sounding as relevant today as they did back in 1991, getting played as much as songs that are popular in 2011. All because of 1991.

My questions to readers would be:

Of all of the albums that are listed here, what album that came from that year influenced you the most?

Will there ever be a year as big in music as 1991 ever again? Is there a year that you feel was bigger sales/influence wise?

CFW Rocks Resurrected!

I've decided to resurrect CFW Rocks, an old blog of mine in which I recommended artists to listen to.

I'd been doing some writing for Sidestage, but because that site has gone under, I am claiming this website back!

CFW Rocks will feature a mixture of the old CFW Rocks and Sidestage. Not only will I recommend new rock artists to listen to, I will also write about things about the music industry that interest me and will hopefully interest you as well.

I'd like to thank my friends, more specifically Matthew Hahn and Tracie Boyle, who both got me to start blogging my thoughts in the first place, Mike Herman who I've recently worked with on Emurg, and Jay Rushing who thought I was talented enough of a writer to take over Sidestage.

Thank you for keeping me going.