HIGHLIGHT A RT I S T O F T H E Y E A R
POLAR BEAR CLUB – STAGES & STEREOS – SMALLPOOLS – HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE & MORE
co-founder â€“ editor-in-chief ashley osborn
co-founder â€“ art director cara bahniuk managing editor jenn stookey content director anjel lopez copy editor courtney dondelinger co-founder mckenzie hughes contributing photographers
cara bahniuk, matt burke, dan deslover, brendon donahue, courtney dondelinger, tarina doolittle, jordan fischels, brad heaton, megan, leetz, anjel lopez, nicole mago, charlie martel, david mullis, laura, murray, ally newbold, ashley osborn, heather phillips, petey place, danny raybon, sam roenfeldt, sam san roman, daniel shippey, jared thomas and amy willard
contributing writers (online & publication)
ryan argast, haley black, jennifer boylen, colleen casey, rebecca del castillo, trevor figge, perry fish, jordan fitzsimmons, zach murman-freer, tamara fuentes, will howard, logan kant, jessica klinner, daisy marietta, theresa pham, karlin reed, ryan bahniuk, annette schaefer, alyssa schmidt, steven smith, morgan waldorf and abby welsh
digital marketing team
geoff burns, rachel carter, sierra eldridge, megan shea and catie suliga
jordyn lockwood and heather malan
facebook facebook.com/highlightmagazine twitter @highlightzine instagram @highlightzine _________________________ thank you
mayday parade, aware management, earshot media, smallpools and james wooten, big picture media, the catalyst publicity group, co5 media, rebel revive, atlantic records, steven of smooth sailing co., equal vision records, rise records and the amazing readers who have been and are now apart of the highlight magazine family. we love you guys!
_________________________ 06 mayday parade jordan fischels
07 the wheeler brothers ashley osborn
stages and stereos daniel shippey
rebel revive submitted
smallpools cara bahniuk
carbon tigers submitted
polar bear club cara bahniuk
josh terry tom falcone
december 05 this or that
08 clothing highlight 09 film highlight 10 label highlight 11 venue highlight 12 non-profit highlight 14 industry highlight 16 holiday gift guide 21 top 13 of 2013 26 new beat fundâ€™s wish list 28 rebel revive 32 the wheeler brothers 36 stages & stereos 40 carbon tigers 42 polar bear club 44 smallpools 48 mayday parade 48 tour round up crown the empire sirah twenty one pilots 64 reviews
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY
HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 5
MAYDAY PARADE - 38
STAGES AND STEREOS - 36
SMALLPOOLS - 20
POLAR BEAR CLUB - 14
32 - THE WHEELER BROTHERS
28 - REBEL REVIVE
30 - CARBON TIGERS
14 - JOSH TERRY
CATCH ONTO THESE TRENDS
COMPANY: Freeearth FOUNDER/CO-OWNER/DESIGNER: Umayya Silva LOCATION: Malaga, Spain WEBSITE: www.shopfreearth.bigcartel.com
Freearth stands for “free earth” and “free art.” While doing some clothes shopping this idea came to my mind. I was so excited I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had more and more new ideas all the time. I told my mother about it and she loved the idea so she decided to help me out. When we told my brother, he said he also loved the idea and he would support us. After lots of hard work and fun, we made our own independent clothing brand. Now, our clothes are worn by people all around the world. It’s worn by musicians such as Ashton Irwin from 5 Seconds of Summer or James McVey from The Vamps. It’s such a fun adventure. Besides, we can’t stop thinking up new stuff to do!
WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS?
Our brand represents dreams, happiness, illusion, love, originality, art, music... life. This brand is made from dreamers to dreamers. From humans to humans. From lovers to lovers.
REASON YOU STARTED YOUR BRAND?
We wanted to make something different. When we go to the shops, all we can see is super thin mannequins with typical, boring clothes on them. They all have the same clothes, styles, designs…Besides, going shopping ends up being a frustrating, tiring time instead of a fun and enjoyable one. Freearth is different and original. Our designs are untypical. They are joyful and positive. We really want people not to be afraid to be themselves. We want them to enjoy life to the full, not caring about their looks, weight or whatever society tries to make us feel bad about. We also want our customers or friends as we rather call them, to feel identified with our designs and even with
us. We are always up for some questions or chats. You can always contact us whenever you want.
WHAT ARE YOUR THREE FAVORITE DESIGNS?
We R who we R: Be yourself because that’s what makes you YOU, unique and different. Life would be really boring if we all were the same. Society wants us all to be the same: machines with no personality or any knowledge. We just want to remind you of this when you wake up and get in this t-shirt and when you look at your reflection on the mirror, always. Besides, you will spread the word. Music is in my Soul: “When words fail, music speaks.” Music is in our souls and in millions of people’s souls. It unites us no matter where you are from or what you like or think. Music is a universal language. We are music. Earth is music. We celebrate the existence of music with this design. Dream Catcher: This was our first design. Dream catchers represent dreams. This design’s meaning is: Never stop dreaming. Don’t give up on your dreams. Catch them because they are worth it. You are worth it. You will make your dreams come true. Just keep working on them. Keep dreaming.
WHY PEOPLE SHOULD CHECK OUT YOUR BRAND?
All of our clothes are made with dreams, illusion and love. They also have a message on them and you can find one you feel identified to. We honestly care more about our customers’ comfort than anything else. As we said before, you will always be able to contact us easily and ask us anything about our clothes, designs or your orders.
BOOKS, TRUE STORIES & THE END OF THE WORLD
From the pages to the big screen, film adaptations of literature series were huge in 2013. This past year alone there were over 25 major films released based off fan favorite books. Although several failed to make the successful transition to film like Beautiful Creatures or The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, others like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire drew in millions of dollars and excited fans. Catching Fire is definitely the strongest feature in this category for 2013; having the power to appeal to people of all ages with a dynamic cast, solid compelling plot, and adventure with a hint of romance. With such strong cult like followings, looking into 2014 it appears this trend has no intentions of slowing down. Another 15 books next year will make their film debuts hoping to find the next Twilight and cash in on the young adult audiences with a passion for compelling literature. On a similar note, another hit this year were films based off incredible true stories. Films like 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, and Dallas Buyers Club all focused on heart wrenching historical tales of people overcoming extraordinary odds. These films are not only primary candidates for Oscar season but they also provide a deep look at historical events that have echoed into today’s society. These films are important to see because unlike a lot of other meaningless cinema, films based off true stories inform audiences of lifestyles they may have never been exposed to before. Whether it be immersing yourself in the story of a kidnapped slave or a drug addict diagnosed with AIDS, these true stories shown in 2013 were captivating, intriguing, and important staples in educating an often blind naive public.
As if we didn’t hear enough about the end of the world in 2012, this theme lingered into 2013 and was once again a popular topic for hit movies this year. With massive multi-million dollar films like Brad Pitt’s World War Z to flops like After Earth, once again audiences were proposed ideas of post apocalyptic living and the lengths in which it would take to survive. With the “end of the world” films of 2012 focusing on natural disasters ending the human race, 2013 was a chance for comedians to poke fun at our society’s overwhelming obsession with the apocalypse. Seen in films like The World’s End or most notably Seth Rogen’s This is the End; these films took a comedic approach to an otherwise stale topic literally laughing in the face of
Overall 2013 was an interesting year for film, offering up audiences unique ideas along with some refreshing, dynamic, and vivid concepts. Some films released this year will quickly fade from audiences’ memories while others will linger presenting some “food for thought.” Whether we cried, laughed, or did both 2013 was a cinematic ride unlike any other. Glancing at 2014 it seems as if big action high concept films will take the lead with anticipated pictures like Divergent, X-Men, and Transformers kicking off next year. So thanks 2013 for keeping our hearts racing with exciting new films – can’t wait to see what kind of adventure 2014 will take us on next.
REVIEW: Rachel Carter
HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 9
YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO...
In the corner of my living room hangs a sign, made of recycled barn wood that my mother painted for me. The sign rests appropriately on the wall above my record player, where many variations of vinyl have had their moment in the spotlight. It reads “The best way to get to know any bunch of people is to go and listen to their music,” a quote by Woody Guthrie. True to this theory, BLVD Records, a Chicago based label, was developed by a group of friends who came together in the spirit of sharing great music. These friends are Logan Square residents, Melissa Geils, Alex Stimes and Eric Marsh. Their mission statement for BLVD Records is quite simple, “BLVD Records is about releasing music we love by people we like, being left handed, having tight times.” While their roster of artists is quaint, quality trumps quantity with unique sounds that pack a punch!
What is it about male and female vocals together that sound so perfect? The Civil Wars, Matt and Kim, and Him & Her… Andrew Prinz and Jaclyn Slimm of Mahogany are no exception. Formed in 1995, Mahogany has released two albums. Their third and highly anticipated album, Electric Prisms will be released under the BLVD label. Their unique sound weaves in and out of whimsical melodies and systematic beats. Comparable to Vampire Weekend, the electronic infusion in their tracks will make you want to dance and stand completely still, all at the same time. Listen to: “Phase Break”
NEW CANYONS - Electric harmonies and keyboard solos are home to Chicago based duo, New Canyons. Their debut album, Strife, Struggle, & Fire was released in 2009 before BLVD records was formed. Their latest album, Everyone Is Dark was released earlier this year under BLVD, launching them into the Chicago music scene. If you are a fan of The Killers you are sure to love their upbeat sound! Listen To: “Made of Rockets”
NORTH HIGHLANDS - Some things just come naturally.
Organically developed in 2009, New Highlands began when lead vocalist Brenda Malvini started experimenting with recording. Later that year their first EP, Sugar Lips was released. This eclectic group has also produced two other albums: Wild One in October 2011 and I’ll Do My Best just this past summer. Over the years their sound has changed and matured seems more appropriate. Give them a listen if you are a fan of Of Monsters and Men or Two Door Cinema Club! Listen to: “Chicago”
WORDS: Perry Fish
VENUE HIGHLIGHT UNION TRANSFER - PHILADELPHIA, PA
WHY PLAY HERE?
Somewhere along the clustered foundations that make up Philadelphia’s Spring Garden Street, mounts an asphalt foundation called Union Transfer. You might be asking yourself, “Union Transfer… what’s that?” Well, for the past two years it’s been the hot spot to see the biggest and best names in music for Philadelphia locals. Despite its youth, the building itself has been around for ages. When the doors first opened in 1889 it was known as the Spring Garden Farmers Market. Over the years it’s undergone plenty of scenery changes, including a tire shop, a trust company and a spaghetti warehouse. Since its premier show on September 21st, 2011, featuring artist like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Polica. Union Transfer has also hosted the likes of Underoath, Frank Ocean, August Burns Red and Anberlin.
I could honestly list about a hundred different reasons why you should check out Union Transfer. Literally, I’m completely serious. But to make a really long story short it’s the atmosphere. Both seeing and playing a show in this venue is a blast! Many national touring acts that roll through Philly always try to make Union Transfer their first choice to play. It’s a combination between the retractable stage, the vintage cathedral-like structure, the friendly and attentive staff, the awesome food and drink accommodations and the other 96 unnamed reasons that make it the best venue in Philly, hands down. Jim Cunningham, a well-known figure in the Philly music scene, has nothing but nice things to say about Union Transfer. “A nice venue for sure. Quality sound and good sight lines,” said Cunningham. So whether you’re a local or riding through the city, be sure to stop by Union Transfer. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
TWITTER: @UnionTransfer FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/UnionTransfer WEBSITE: www.utphilly.com DECEMBER 14TH
The Early November
The Infamous Stringdusters
REVIEW: Steven Smith
HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 11
FOLLOW THIS NON-PROFIT NON-PROFIT: Bands That Jam For Africa FOUNDER: Morgan Fisher WEBSITE: www.btj4a.org
HOW DID BANDS THAT JAM FOR AFRICA BEGIN/WHY DID YOU START IT? When I was 12 years old, I met Peter Pretorius, the founder of Joint Aid Management: a non-profit organization founded and run by South Africans with over 28 years of humanitarian relief experience in Africa. Peter shared his story with me and it forever changed my life. Peter was a successful entrepreneur and heard about the plight in Mozambique. He asked to be taken there to see firsthand what the people were experiencing. When the plane landed the pilot left to gather fuel for the return trip, assuring Peter that he’d return in an hour. The pilot did not return for ten days. Peter was thrown into the life of extreme poverty and witnessed firsthand the horrors faced by hundreds of thousands of people there every single day. When Peter returned to South Africa, he told his wife that he would have to live with the memory of what he experienced during those ten days for the rest of his life or that they would have to dedicate their lives to fighting to relieve the people. That is how Joint Aid Management (JAM) was conceived. Peter told me that just $50 would feed and educate a child for an entire year. Fifty! For an entire year! This was so convicting as I learned how easy it is to sacrifice $50 that could have easily gone to coffee or shopping or any number of other things. I started fundraising just every penny I could manage to obtain from talking at school to social gatherings. Once I reached high school, my heartbeat for JAM increased and I wanted to bring my passions for music and Africa together. I pitched the idea of Bands that JAM for Africa to Peter Pretorius and his wife, Ann. In 2008, the first Bands that JAM for Africa event was brought to life in Pontiac, Michigan, with a goal of showcasing the musicians of tomorrow and saving the lives of children in Africa today.
WHAT DO YOU THINK BTJ4A REPRESENTS? Bands that JAM for Africa represents a movement of the millennial generation using their gifts and talents to use music as a mission. Millenials get a bad rep, but really, we are more connected to the world than ever before on top of being an exceptionally cause-oriented generation. BTJ4A is an opportunity to show that regardless of age, financial situation or location in the world, you can make a difference.
WHY IS THIS NON-PROFIT IMPORTANT?
This non-profit is important because it not only gives artists a platform to use their creativity for a cause, but it feeds and educates children thousands of miles away through the power of music. Being a part of a cause oriented generation it is vital to provide opportunities for music lovers and musicians to come together for a greater purpose and use music to make a difference.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FROM GOING TO A BTJ4A CONCERT?
Bands that JAM for Africa is an experience; we are intentional about creating an environment for people to truly grasp the reality of the difference that is being made simply by the purchase of a ticket. You can expect powerful lyrics, genuine people, life changing stories, and the feeling of fulfillment. Not to mention, a super fun time!
YOU’LL BE AMAZED BY
JOB: Artist Manager LOCATION: Nashville, TN CLIENTS: Mat Kearney, Mayday Parade, Emily Hearn
ADVICE FROM JOSH Should bands get a manager or not? “The first thing as a band should be to get a lawyer who can help you incase anything comes up first, and then get a manager when there’s so much stuff going on and you need help to guide you through it. Also, a band needs to wait until they find that person who gets them and where they would trust that person with every ounce of everything they have. Until you find that person, it’s not worth it.”
IMAGINE BEING IN YOUR EARLY
20’s practically fresh out of college and managing the biggest band on the planet, The Fray. Impossible? Not at all. Josh Terry made it happen but it took a lot more than blood, sweat and tears to do it. It took dedication, taking risks and an insane work ethic. Although he accomplished an obscene amount in the music industry at a young age he wasn’t fast at saying it all came over night. At 18 years old, Terry attended South Carolina University in hopes to graduate with a masters in Journalism. His dream: to become a newspaper editorial writer. After the first week of college his original dream had died; journalism was not at all what he expected. To figure out what he would do for the rest of his life, Terry joined two collegiate activities: the university’s Bi Centennial Celebration and the concert board. Both activities had a strong emphasis on how operations worked in the entertainment industry and both would drive him straight into the heart of it. The concert board consisted of only three people: he and two others. The first band brought in while on the board was Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, and the concert did not go well to say the least. The girl in charge had a nervous breakdown and resigned her position, as one would imagine after a concert held in a room capacity of 2,000 had only 13 audience members attend. For the next three years Terry took over and rocked it like the school had never seen before. By the time he graduated the board went from his lonesome to a bursting 75 members. The budget that had consisted of $80,000 a year skyrocketed to $345,000. They scheduled a show a week bringing in local acts as well as national and scheduling tours to stop in like the MTV Campus Invasions. They even came as close as to getting Dave Matthews, Ryan Adams, and John Meyer to roll through. Over that summer Terry interned for a small management company in his hometown that consisted of three people. Walking in for the first time, he remembers it being the craziest thing he had ever seen: the three people were screaming, making deals and writing checks in a poster-covered room. All he did that summer was make copies and listen, “I just listened to how they talked to people and how they negotiated deals and how they dealt with artists.” And then he realized that a management company dealt with everything in an artist’s life from how they make their money, what contracts to sign, and how life on the road is set up. “And it clicked and I was like, ‘this is what I want to do.’” Not only was it the operation process that drew him in, it was the people of that small company in his hometown. “I think a lot of it had to do with the passion of the people at that company. They were a small company who didn’t represent a lot of things but it was very important to them. That sold me on management.” And the next summer he interned for them again, only was much more involved. However he thought, “’I don’t want to be just this small town guy doing this,’” and still in his junior year of college, he became a college rep for Aware Management. He shortly found out that he was the only rep in the entire southeast. The company would call when one of their bands were driving through and he would drive from South Carolina to as far as Mississippi to sell merch and meet the bands. “I saw John Meyer play in my college town in front of three people at a show and he played a full on John Meyer set like you’d see at The Bridgestone but for 3 people. And we went and had dinner afterwards, he bought me a coke, and I got to know him and a lot of the artists Aware was breaking at the time before they blew up.” Aware was his dream company and he knew he had to do something big that summer. Fortunately for him an internship was up for grabs
in the big windy city. He flew out of state for the first time for the interview and thought it went absolutely horrible. Much to his dismay, he got it and thought, “‘Fuck! How do I do this?’” Like any responsible college student moving to another state for the summer, he took out a $5,000 loan. But he also lived like a college student that summer as well, “I spent every fucking cent of $5,000 in 4 months. And lived off of nothing, lived in the worst neighborhood I could find. Ate cheese toast off of recycled paper plates that I reused because I had no money.” But he worked his ass off the entire summer and made a name for himself that the company would be able to get to know and appreciate. When he went back to school for his final year, he began to manage small artists and bands for the first time practically on his own. He worked hard like any manager should, and it worked because they got signed to major labels like Capital and Warner Brothers, “I learned how to be a lot more professional at 21 than I should have been.” But once again, a roadblock was put in his way, his artists seemed to be getting dropped from their labels right before the summer he graduated. He was stuck with no money and no job. But once again, a light shone onto his problems. Terry got a call from his friend Vance who was on the road with Howie Day offering him a merchandise job on probably the biggest tour of the summer, a co-headliner with Gavin Degraw and Dave Matthews Band. “Me being 23 years old and being like, I run my own business and I’m a hot shot, was kind of arrogant and was like ‘I don’t know if I want to sell t-shirts for a summer,’” but he did, and after three days he wasn’t just selling t-shirts, he was settling the entire tour each night for sold out 30,000 capacity arenas. He did everything: “everything from press to everyone getting paid, dealing with two different busses and a semi truck, and from being the small town kid who had worked with bands that sold like 50 tickets, to being on the biggest tour of the summer and if I wasn’t there it wouldn’t have happened without someone getting kicked off the tour.” Then the day he had been waiting for came, a call from Aware inviting him to interview for their open position, “I didn’t ask how much money because that was my dream, to work at Aware.” He got the job. Aware allowed him to bring one artist of his own and then he would be doing the unthinkable, managing The Fray at the time they were the biggest band on the planet, and also managing a newcomer by the name of Mat Kearney. And he worked furiously, “I could either sit and collect a small paycheck and just do my job, or I can kill myself and maybe make enough of a name for myself to where artists are going to trust me with their career.” There is a certain equation to get artist managing right. Terry explains how listening, detail oriented, a work-o-holic, and being an ethically driven good person are all apart of the secret. “If I make a bad decision it could affect whether their children eat that month or whether they have enough money. Or I might make a deal and put them with a company that’s not going to support them the way they should.” And even though he’s accomplished everything he’s ever wanted, he still has a dream. “My biggest goal is to continue to find people that excite me about wanting to work in music and to achieve their goals. You do this for thirteen years, not a lot of things excite you anymore, but that is more exciting than drugs and sex…it’s that moment where you can look at that person and say ‘we did this together.’” PHOTO: Tom Falcone INTERVIEW & STORY: Jenn Stookey
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H O L I D AY G I F T G U I D E BOOKS
1. Finish This Book – Amazon – $11.27 – amzn.to/TA2Ab3 2. How Music Works by David Byrne – Amazon - $16.52 – amzn.to/Ig1mSy
1. Vizio 32” Smart HDTV – Walmart - $288.00 w/ shipping – bit.ly/1851Bqf 2. Nintendo 3DS XL – Dell - $199.99 – dell.to/1851ASX 3. Sony Playstation 4 - Best Buy - $399.99 – bit.ly/170Vcwk 4. Kindle Fire HD - Best Buy - $269.99 – bit.ly/18EtIjA 5. “The Selfie” – Urban Outfitters - $20 – LINK
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DRINKS/COFFEE 1. Bunn MyCafe MCU – Katom - $139.99 – bit.ly/1fG7eTq
2. Accoutrements Shark Attack Porcelain Mug – Amazon - $9.29 – amzn.to/1c6MzVt 3. FRRROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE PACKET SET – Amazon -$17.95 – amzn.to/1iP4Ucq 4. Starbucks Tazo Tea Party – Starbucks - $38.00 – bit.ly/138Uda
1. FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera – Urban Outfitters - $100 – bit.ly/Ig0FbR 2. Photorito Lens Wrap – Photojojo – $20 – photojojo.com 3. Color and lens flash filters – Photojojo – $15 – photojojo.com
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1. Profound Aesthetic Portland 5-Panel Hat – Urban Outfitters – $42 – bit.ly/1fG7py8 2. TWLOHA Hoodie – store.twloha.com – $40.00 – bit.ly/1aVMx1d 3. No Sleep Xmas Crewneck – nosleeprecords.com – $25 – bit.ly/NkSFrT 4. The Great Gatsby book cover long sleeve fleece – Out Of Print Clothing – $42 – bit.ly/LKRRVk 5. Johnny Cash T-Shirt – T-shirts.com – $19.99 – bit.ly/IkS5sU 6. My Chemical Romance Crewneck - Hot Topic – $27.38 (not including shipping) – bit.ly/1ic6V4H 7. Mossimo Skull Print Fashion Scarf – Target – $14.99 – tgt.biz/1iP5gzY 8. Flamingo Pocket Print Pullover – smoothsailingco.com – $45.95
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1. Macaroon Box – Urban Outfitters – $10 – bit.ly/1igrnfC 2. Breaking Bad Complete Series – Amazon – $199.99 – amzn.to/1bM1VQu 3. Light-Up Color-Changing Koi Fish Toy – Amazon – $11.76 – amzn.to/1iP5rLu
4. Fred and Friends Mister Tea Infuser – Amazon – $9.23 – amzn.to/1a0kIkL 5. PINCH PROVISIONS Minimergency® Kit For Her – Sephora – $15.00 – bit.ly/194jlCh 6. Scratch Off Map – uncommongoods.com – $20.00 – bit.ly/eggZUl 7. Air Ranger Remote Control Inflatable Flying Swimmer Shark – $16.20 – amzn.to/IkSvzC 8. Giant Gummy Bear (5lbs) – www.giantgummybears.com – $29.95 – bit.ly/1aLfQlt 9. Naked 3 Pallette - Urban Decay – $52 – bit.ly/1hYWhOP 10. Poe-ka dots Phone Case – Out Of Print Clothing – $25 – bit.ly/17kWPml 11. Herschel Novel Duffle – Herschel Supply – $79.99 – bit.ly/185133A 12. Audio Cassette Limited Edition Notebook (Large) – Moleskine – $21.95 – bit.ly/18513R1 13. Snofling (to make and fling snowballs) – REI – $7 14 Sweet Donut Air Freshener – Forever 21 – $1.80
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1. Paramore Vinyl Boxset - Paramore.net – 54.99 – bit.ly/11Prh9s 2. Dre Beats Pill – beatsbydre.com – $199.95 – bit.ly/HT69JK 3. Ticket Stub Diary – uncommongoods.com – $12.00 – bit.ly/gFtkER 4. Pick Punch – amazon – $24.95 – amzn.to/sDjIyK 5. Mason Jar Speaker – uncommongoods.com – $65.00 – bit.ly/1erS9jf
6. Crosley Portable Turntable - Crosley Radio – $149.99 – bit.ly/YD1G4U 7. Skullcandy Crusher Headphones – Skullcandy – $99.99 – bit.ly/Y5z3fy 8. Portable USB Turntable – Urban Outfitters – $160.00 9. Beats Solo HD OnEar Headphones - beatsbydre.com – $199.95 10. 2014 Vans Warped Tour Tickets – VansWarpedTour.com – $45
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10 ITEMS PICKED OUT BY: Jenn Stookey
OUR FAVOURITE ALBUMS FROM THIS YEAR.
Artist: The Wonder Years Album: The Greatest Generation Ten years down the road I personally gaurentee that this album will be the one album that every new Pop-Punk band references as one of their main influences. This Album is Pop-punk; it is fast, emotionally draining, honest, and Inspiring. – Trevor Figge (Writer) The Greatest Generation: I really do not think that this album got enough recognition this year. The Wonder Years have grown so much musically over the years and this album proves it. – Jordyn Lockwood (Writer)
Artist: The Maine Album: Forever Halloween I think that the Maine should not only be recognized for their talent, but for their power to continuously evolve. They are one of the few bands that came out of the Warped Tour 2008/2009 scene that are not at a stand still. They do not have any limitations on their creativity and their sound. Forever Halloween proves just that. – Ashley Osborn (Editor-In-Chief) I have loved The Maine since their Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop days, and fell in love with them over and over again with every release. Forever Halloween is flawless; and it was recorded live, ON TAPE. Come on now, how can you not love it? – Jennifer Boylen (Writer)
Artist: Chvrches Album: The Bones of What You Believe
I enjoyed how different this album was than anything else that was being played on the radio. This year had some really great electronic albums come out and this one is at the top of the list. – Jordyn Lockwood (Writer) CHVRCHES stole my heart with their playful hooks and seamless danceable style. CHVRCHES has found the careful balance between pop and electronic dance while keeping the mixing clean and precise. “The Bones of What You Believe” is current and the contrasting texture makes the album spotless. – Theresa Palm (Writer) I was browsing online when I stumbled across this band. I heard one song and immeadiately had to have the full album. Which didn’t fail to amaze me. Everytime I play this album you can catch me dancing around my entire house. – Colleen Casey (Writer)
Artist: Tonight Alive Album: The Other Side It is about time people take this band seriously. Imagine an amazing female vocalist slaying melodies over hard-hitting instrumentals. You can mosh and your sister can sing the choruses. – Ryan Argast (Writer) I was only vaguely aware of Tonight Alive’s existence prior to picking up their latest album The Other Side, but after one listen my heart had been bought. Their songs are edgy and uplifting and I’m pretty sure I can relate to about every lyric. That being said, this album should ve on everyone’s list. – Annette Schmidt (Writer)
Artist: Miley Cyrus Album: Bangerz Unapologetically obscene, Bangerz is Miley Cyrus’ middle finger to all her haters. Yet whether you love or hate her this album showcases her incredible talent filled with awesome party tracks and unique collaborations like Nelly and Britney Spears. – Rachel Carter (Writer)
Artist: The Neighbourhood Album: I Love You.
This album by the Neighbourhood is probably the most laid back on my personal list. This album did not leave my CD player in my car for a good 2-3 months this summer and I can see it making a come back this winter. Plus, who doesn’t love black and white?? – Cara Bahniuk (Art Director) A long awaited release for me personally, and definitely in my top 3, The Neighbourhood did not disappoint whatsoever. With catchy tunes now known as well-known radio hits and the less well-known, the LA natives have successfully captured an essence of music that’s soulful and subtly sexy. Add in lyrics that make you think and you’ve got a package deal. – Daisy Marietta (Writer)
Artist: One Direction Album: Midnight Memories People can say they don’t like their music, however there’s no denying the talent these five boys possess. This album consists of 18 songs and it’s still impossible for me to narrow them down to pick a favorite. What makes this album great is the variety. They stick with their pop roots, however there is an evident indie and classic rock presence in various songs that provide a breath of fresh air. – Jenn Stookey (Managing Editor) Yep, there it is. Midnight Memories establishes One Direction as more than just a boy band. The songs display a side of the group never presented before. – Jessica Klinner (Writer)
Artist: Panic! At The Disco Album: Too Weird To Live, Too
Rare to Die
I sort of rediscovered my appreciation of Panic! At The Disco with this album. It’s memorable and mainstream enough to get the attention is deserves. – Jennifer Boylen (Writer) My totally unbiased and honest opinion is that this album kicks ass. – Ashley Osborn (Editor-In-Chief)
Artist: Lorde Album: Pure Heroine
Lorde appeared out of no where one rainy day in 2013….maybe it was raining I don’t really remember. But I do remember turning on my radio to Royals and immediately being hooked. Fast forward a few months and she released her debut album which made quite the splash. Keep an eye out for her. She’ll be doing big things in 2014 and years to come. – Cara Bahniuk (Art Director) Where did this 16 year old Kiwi come from? From a New Zealand high school to the #1 song in the world, but let’s not forget about the rest of her strong debut album. ‘Tennis Court’ and ‘Team’ will haunt you. – Ryan Bahniuk (Writer)
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Artist: Twenty One Pilots Album: Vessel Often called strange, or misunderstood, Twenty One Pilots is one of the most creative and inspirational newer bands out there right now. Vessel is my favorite release to date. It’s catchy, smart, and incredibly addicting. Nothing else can really be said about it, besides that it’s amazing. – Daisy Marietta (Writer) Before this album, Twenty One Pilots were virtually unknown. However, this album put them on the map big time. It’s a compilation of a style of music I have never heard before, encompassing styles such as hip-hop, pop, rock, and indie. I think sometimes when artists try to mash up all of these styles together it becomes a train wreck. However, that was certainly not the case for Vessel, and it’s perfect. – Jenn Stookey (Managing Editor)
Artist: Paramore Album: Paramore There’s not much left to say about the greatness that is this album. Trying new things for a band as established as Paramore can be dangerous, thankfully this album is perfect. – Alyssa Schmidt (Writer) The nearly four-year gap between album releases from Paramore was a scary time for all of us fans, but the wait was beyond worth it. Hayley’s powerhouse vocals arise stronger than ever, Taylor proves that he is an ingenious, innovative songwriter, and Jeremy’s funky bass lines along with his child-like spirit bring the self-titled album full circle. Here we are at the end of 2013, and I still find myself listening to this album on repeat, and I don’t think that will change any time soon. – Haley Black (Writer)
Artist: The 1975 Album: The 1975
A great follow up to a great single “Chocolate”, The 1975 released their self-titled freshman album and made a greater impact than I could ever think. (I mean, even my MOM is singing along to Chocolate….though she may not understand what Matty is saying.. she does her best.) – Cara Bahniuk (Art Director) 2013 has been such an amazing year for breakout artists, including The 1975. Their self-titled debut album is both a pop and alternative lover’s dream come true. I may not always be able to comprehend Matthew Healy’s slurred British slang, but I love the album nonetheless. – Haley Black (Writer)
Artist: Fall Out Boy Album: Save Rock and Roll Fall Out Boy’s triumphant comeback was inspiring to say the least. The official announcement and release of “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” took place on February 4th. On that day it was immediately clear that not only was this Fall Out Boy’s comeback - it was their year. And what an incredible year it has been… – Ashley Osborn (Editor-In-Chief) This is the record no one thought would ever exist. On top of that, it’s basically gold in the form of sound waves. Perfection. – Jennifer Boylen (Writer) The poster boys of the scene came back from their hiatus and showed the world they weren’t just a fad. There is nothing Fall Out Boy can’t do. Even if you wanted Take This To Your Grave Pt.2 you can’t deny that Patrick Stump has given his best performance yet. – Ryan Argast (Writer) HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 25
WHAT DO THEY
TO SAY THAT NEW BEAT FUND WILL HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS
after such a successful year of 2013 is an understatement. They’ve had a whirlwind of a year, starting with their goofy performance at Warped Tour Kickoff in LA, where a ghost roamed around stage during their performance. From there, they played all across the country on Warped Tour, signed to Red Bull Records, toured with Blink-182, played at Riot Fest, and went on the Noise tour with artists like 3oh3! and The Summer Set. The way they started out and went into hyper speed, from a small band in LA, to a popular, touring one, certainly gives confidence to bands trying to make it big.
BURNIE BAKER (VOCALS) 1) Heated toilet seat with adjustable temperature settings 2) Gandalf’s Pipe 3) Tie dye onesie
SNAPZ (BASS) 1) Eazy bake pizza oven 2) a dinosaur bone 3) brunch with Shakespeare
BUTTON (GUITAR) 1) Jet pack 2) The mars rover (just for cruisin the streets) 3) A live/life sized sour patch kid...preferably green
SILKY (DRUMS) 1) Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle 2) John Bonham’s groove 3) A ride on Falcor
R U O Y T O O SH L L ’ U YO EYE OUT! WORDS: Daisy Marietta
HOME: Orange County, CA NOW JAMMING: XI - Full-Length CURRENTLY: Getting ready to release some holiday goodies
WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN
you cross a kid riding a laser beam shooting T-Rex with the musical styling of Cartel and Yellowcard? According to lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Lindblad, you get the energetic and raw sound of Rebel Revive. Based in Orange County, California, Rebel Revive recently emerged onto the scene with a refreshing determination to bring a positive message to the alternative music world. With a debut album entitled XI filled with catchy hooks and inspiring lyrics, Rebel Revive is reviving everything about pop rock music that has recently gone missing. Lindblad graciously answered a few questions about the release of XI, spreading positivity through music and creating a real connection with fans. Highlight: Your album XI was released earlier this year. How has the response been? Rebel Revive: The response to XI has been overwhelming so far! It’s awesome to hear from new people every day from all over the world about how the songs have stuck with them, or how the album has been on repeat in their cars and on their iPods. Beyond that, I’ll get messages about how certain lyrics stuck out to fans and helped them through various struggles in day-to-day life. As a whole, the release and response has been incredible, and definitely has gotten me excited to see what the future brings.
to mind when I started tracking. The thing I like about working with Colby is he’s got a great ear for hooks, and tone. He gets the songs to their best potential, and makes sure they pack a punch. Also, he’s just an overall good guy to be around. We tracked drums in a small studio called Pus Cavern, and the rest in Colby’s guest-room. I’m very glad to now be among awesome bands like The Maine, Lydia, This Century, and more that Colby has worked with! Highlight: Is there a track on the album that stands out more than others or holds a special meaning? If so, explain. Rebel Revive: Honestly, that’s a tough one for me. Each one of the tunes on XI holds a special place in my heart. “Skeletons” however, is one of the ones that sticks out to me. It’s about the times in our lives when we’re struggling with self-doubt, and an anthem of overcoming that. It’s definitely one of my favorites lyrically and my favorite to play live at the moment. That song started as something completely different lyric-wise: I kept pushing off the idea of writing about my struggle with that. About six hours before I had to go in and track it, I scrapped the whole thing completely, and embraced the idea of a more personal message. I remember it distinctly. I was sitting in the parking lot of Denny’s and kept going back in for coffee refills. I didn’t sleep that night. I’m glad it became what it did. It’s kind of ironic how the song about self-doubt, came from me overcoming my selfdoubt of the song. Inception.
Highlight: Colby Wedgeworth produced the new album. He’s worked with several successful bands currently out there. What was it like working with Highlight: Was there a concept for the album? Did him and how did the collaboration come about? it develop before going into the studio or did it start Rebel Revive: Working with Colby was something to evolve after you began recording? I knew right away I wanted to do with this new project. [He] and I had worked together on Rebel Revive: To be honest, when I drove up to my former band BannerHill’s album Beautiful. Sacramento to record the first song I released, “Like Dangerous, so he was the first person that came You Mean It,” I didn’t know it’d be the start of an
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album or even a band. I drove up there by myself as a test to see what I could do with some riffs and melodies I had been messing around with, and came home after having tracked it with a heart full of inspiration. The whole album evolved while I was recording it as well. I’d drive up and do one to two songs at a time. Some of the songs were written in between sessions. “Better Days” was written by me singing guitar parts into my phone on my eight-hour drive home from recording. It’s pretty crazy what you can accomplish when you’re passionate about something.
and followed the Vans Warped Tour, playing acoustically for the line each morning outside the festival; most mornings playing 3 hours worth of music. Finally, I think it’s fairly rare to find one person playing every instrument/recording/ writing entire songs themselves. There’s a few artists out there doing it, but it’s not overly common. Highlight: What do you hope fans will gain from your music and live shows?
Rebel Revive: My hope is that fans will leave our shows with a smile on their face, and some new Highlight: What sets Rebel Revive apart from other friends. I try to be as real as I can from stage. musical acts out there? I don’t want a barrier between our fans and us because I’m still the kid who’s out in the crowd Rebel Revive: I think our message is definitely one dancing and singing along at shows, and always of the things that sets us apart. I feel like a lot of will be. I hope to inspire people to pick up an bands out there these days are unaware of the instrument, and start creating art for themselves. positive impact they can have on people’s lives INTERVIEW & STORY: Jessica Klinner through music. We try to embrace that impact and thought. Another thing is our DIY attitude. For example, this summer we packed into an SUV,
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HOME: Austin, TX NOW JAMMING: Gold Boots Glitter - Full-Length CURRENTLY: A lot of announcements coming your way!
BROTHERS ARGUE, FIGHT AND apparently make amazing music together. Siblings Nolan Wheeler on vocals and guitar, Patrick Wheeler on drums and Tyler Wheeler on bass along with AJ Molyneaux and Nathan Rigney both on guitar are the quintet that make up the Wheeler Brothers of Austin, TX.
The band creates a catchy blend of rock ‘n’ roll, folk and blues. With their southern fresh sound they have been making quite the impression in the Austin music scene and have been attracting additional attention at festivals like South by Southwest and Lollapalooza, but this “family friendly” group is only getting started.
“Being on the road is the part where we get to see where and how our music has spread. It’s always fun and often surprising to show up in a town where we’ve never been and find fans that have been following the band for a while and bring their friends out to the shows. Those trips are the kind that pay off,” said Molyneaux. While on tour the band spent time promote their latest full length album Gold Boots Glitter. The album was initially inspired during one of their tours. The band went back home and worked with producer Drew Smith on their sophomore album. “We had been big fans of [Smith’s] music for a couple years leading up to Gold Boots Glitter so to have his input and even have him contribute to the songwriting really helped push the development in a good direction,” explained Molyneaux.
Putting up with siblings can be tough and downright infuriating. Working with a band is not really any easier, but we’ve all seen this countless times with artists like Hanson, The Jonas Brothers, Tegan and Sara and many more. The Wheeler Brothers’ shared love of music encourages them to keep their fists down and their instruments raised.
Released in April, Gold Boots Glitter features single “My Time” and shows off the band’s multi-genre sound that makes them so intriguing and unique. The band takes inspiration from rock, country, blues and folk and seamlessly combines all the genres into one.
“It’s just like anything else. It has its positive and negative aspects. Tensions escalate much faster between the brothers but we’ve learned to work through it. For me nothing beats a solid blood related rhythm section,” explained Nolan Wheeler.
“We enjoy not being stuck in a certain style. We all have pretty different musical backgrounds on what we grew up on and even what we listen to today so I think it would be more difficult for us to aim for a specific sound,” Molyneaux expressed, “I also think not being clearly labeled in a specific genre has allowed us to be more liberal with what we put out.”
The three brothers and Molyneaux clearly work well together impressing crowds at several different large festivals and even earning them three awards at SXSW in 2012 for the Austin Music Awards including: “Best New Artist,” “Best Roots Rock Band” and “Best Acoustic Guitar (Nolan Wheeler).” These awards have given the band lots to be proud of and opened several doors for them. “After gigging around town and still trying to get a foothold in the Austin music scene, to get voted best new band was a massive honor and a big help allowing to progress in Austin and outside of Texas,” expressed Molyneaux. “That was two years ago and we still get asked about those awards, so they’ve definitely left an impression and are still helping us get our name out.” Besides winning these awards the band gained even more ground from being a part of the line-up of several major festivals earlier this year. The band hit the stage for Lollapalooza, Firefly and Newport Folk festival, these festivals we essential to exposing their sound to new audiences from all over. “Being a part of all of the festivals that we played this summer was a fantastic experience. What was even better was being able to see the fruits of our effort during this past tour with Houndmouth. I think every city we played in, there were people that had seen us at festivals this summer,” Rigney said. Playing live is essential for any band and the Wheeler Brothers are no exception. Touring offers the band immeasurable exposure, help them gain fan reactions to their music and gain plenty of inspiration from their time on the road. The band recently wrapped up a tour with the group Houndmouth and their experience on tour this year has been just as rewarding. 34 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
Increasing success can leave some serious growing pains and the Wheeler Brothers are well aware. From having to learn to balance life on the road, in the studio an at home to finding out the hard way that success has its ups and downs the Wheeler Brothers have found ways to manage it all. “The momentum frustration isn’t so much an issue now that we’ve been doing this for a little while. We have a better understanding of how the system works around tour schedules and seasons and record cycles etc,” Molyneaux said. With a sound that is all their own, some notoriety under their belts and a lot of determination, the Wheeler Brothers are off on good path. Despite the constant fluxs, good and bad, and the uncertainty in an industry that is continuously changing, the band continues to push forward with their plans for the future. Molyneaux explained, “For us moving forward means keep progressing with bigger and better tours like [the Houndmouth] one and especially keep writing. With a slow winter coming up we’re excited to develop some of the ideas we’ve been working on and have some new material ready for 2014.” PHOTOS: Ashley Osborn INTERVIEW & STORY: Annette Schafer
HOME: Tallahassee, FL NOW JAMMING: Small Town Favorites - EP CURRENTLY: Preparing for a busy 2014 An outstanding opener welcomed those who came out to the 4th Annual Glamour Kills Tour with Mayday Parade, Man Overboard and Cartel to the show. Those who did come out early got to experience all that Tallahassee rock band, Stages and Stereos, had to offer; from their incredible lyrics to their energetic stage presence, this band made their beginning time slot count. “Being the opening band, it’s sometimes rough to win over a crowd, so you just go out there and give it all you’ve got,” guitarist Zach Schweizer shared when he recently discussed the tour, the band’s journey, and much more with us. “This has been such an incredible opportunity. We are so blessed to be able to play music for a living. Every single person on this tour is completely rad. We love being out on the road with such good friends,” Schweizer expressed, “This tour has been something I will never forget.” As far as the fans’ response and doors the GK tour has opened up for them, he told us that, “All the fans have been incredibly responsive. It’s been great playing for such a wide audience. It’s great because when we come back on our own, we will be able to reach that many more people.” However, Stages and Stereos had a long road getting to this point. Originally formed in 2007 by vocalist Daniel Lancaster and bassist Ian Edge, the band has undergone several member
changes, including the addition of Donnie Webb on drums, a twoyear hiatus, and Edge’s time in the military, which resulted in the loss of his right leg below the knee. Despite some struggles, the process of bringing the band back to life began when Edge returned home and “was pretty simple,” as Schweizer explained, “It involved a lot of late night conversations and phone calls to old friends. When you really want to make something happen, and you have something you truly believe in, it’s just about putting in the work to get you there.” He also shared with us what he believes the secret to the band’s success has been, “From what I can tell, the strategy to success is never giving up. Being in the industry you can make a lot of connections and to continue nurturing those connections can get you pretty far.” Among those connections are producers, Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount, whom the band worked with on their recently released EP, Small Town Favorites. “Zack and Ken are two of the coolest people I have met in the industry. The whole process of making the EP was enjoyable. They really helped us step outside of our box and we were open to any crazy idea they threw our way. Their professional attitude and artistic ability are equally matched. We love those dudes and would gladly work with them in the future,” said Schweizer.
In regards to releasing the new music, Schweizer exclaimed that, “Releasing new music is always such a breath of fresh air. You work for months and have to keep it under wraps until the right time. Needless to say we were so stoked when Small Town Favorites finally dropped.” He also told us about the feedback the band’s been receiving, saying, “With this new release we changed up our sound quite a bit. So we were pretty curious to see how it would go over. This tour was a great outlet to show the fans our new sound. It went over great. People are really receiving of the new vibe.” Though Schweizer confessed that he couldn’t quite say when he’ll know he’s living the dream, we know Stages and Stereos has come a long way since 2007 and since reuniting, and they aren’t looking to slow down anytime soon. “The goal is to be constantly touring. We want to be on the road for most of 2014. We want to be as busy as possible with this band, and getting our music out to as many people as we can,” he stated. “All of us want this as a full time career and will do what it takes to make that happen.” The passion Stages and Stereos has for what they do is definitely evident on stage and in their music. Schweizer explained what he hopes that fans and new audiences alike will take away from the band and their music, “We want to be a band that lives in your iPod as well as in your heart. We want to be the soundtrack to your life. The goal is to invest in people’s lives so they in turn invest in ours. Our story will become their story because that’s the beauty of music. If you love our band, then you love us as people, because this music is a 100 percent representation of who we are and where we are in our lives.” PHOTO: Daniel Shippey INTERVIEW & STORY: Rebecca Del Castillo
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CARBON TIGERS HOME: Chicago, IL
NOW JAMMING: The Wars at Home - EP CURRENTLY: Playing shows locally and planning for a busy 2014
IN A COUNTRY FULL OF PEOPLE
who are hungry for money, musicians and otherwise, this band has a different view that most will find quite refreshing. Nick Cudone, guitarist for Carbon Tigers, told us all about their quest to be heard, so much so that he even mentioned taking it for free. “If you love our music and it reaches you, then please take it, but share it with your friends! If you can spare some money, that’s great,” he explained. The band strives to push and exhaust themselves as artists, but in a way that is inviting for listeners of all tastes, which actually ends up setting them apart. With the recent release of their incredible album, The Wars At Home, the band found themselves pulling from all different genres. Cudone explained how it’s entirely collaborative; members Chris Wienke (vocals/guitar/ bass), Aaron Sweatt (bass/guitar/keys/vocals), Darien Williams (drums/vocals), and Nick Cudone (guitar/vocals) all brought their own elements to the record, and there isn’t one song on the album that was totally written by one person alone. Usually, they’ll have one person who brings in an idea, whether it is a couple bars of a melody or a chord progression, and then they jam on that idea. From there, everyone throws out ideas, which they try, and decide if it works, before moving on to the next part. Chris usually focuses on sketching out lyric ideas and brings them to the rest of the band, where they’ll complete a similar process. And it wasn’t just the band providing input either. Carbon Tigers worked with several different individuals on the album: Jon Alvin (producer), Mike Watts (mixer), and Ed Brooks (master). They met Jon back in October, who told the band he would take them out of their comfort zone, forcing them to work with fast and slow tempos, changing the keys of songs and figuring out their roles in the band without falling back on their tendencies on musicians. They were all excited immediately after the meeting and knew that’s whom they wanted to work with. Cudone described how sometimes he has a hard time deciding whether or not Jon was a producer or a spiritual middleman that mediated their relationship with music. Mike Watts had mixed everything they recorded before the album, as well as a bunch of albums that they love. The band already knew that he was incredibly talented and felt working with him again was a no-brainer. When they started writing The Wars At Home, it had been a long time since they’d recorded anything. In a way, it seemed like they were rediscovering who they were as a band and as individuals. They went through a long process of pre-production which yielded many different songs and a new identity. They would have conversations where they would ask, “What kind of band do we want to be like?” They created a Spotify playlist, which was shared amongst the band, where they could add any song they wanted. Someone would add a song because they liked how the song transitioned, how the vocals sounded, the way the lyrics drew them in, or maybe just to say, “This is a song I’m listening to right now and I’m stoked on it.” It became a very diverse palette of songs, where one minute you could be listening to Queens of the Stone Age, and the next minute Stevie Wonder. Cudone discovered within the recording process that they’re a band that truly embraces all music. They listen to everything and ask, “What can we take from this?” and “How does this influence us?” It’s easy to see that this wasn’t an album that they just pushed out to have music to sell, and all of the influences from the different genres really come through on the five tracks. The Wars At Home had one of the longest recording processes for the band, but in the end it worked in the band’s favor.
“It was as if we were told to jump in an ocean and if we kept swimming, we would eventually reach some sort of metaphorical destination. Well, turns out if you swim for a really time you end up really exhausted, not knowing where you are, and wanting to give up. I know this concept has been shared by other artists as well, but it’s that existing struggle during the recording process that has made us the band and individuals that we are. What we create is from how we interpret our influences and the emotional abstractions from within us… It was mostly grueling, sometimes satisfying, and in the end, humbling process. I think I speak for everyone when I say: we would do it all over again if we could,” Cudone said. Now that the album’s out, the next question was naturally when the band is going to tour, so fans around the country can hear the new songs! Right now, they are only able to do “weekend warrior gigs.” At the time being because of day jobs and financial obligations, the time isn’t right for a tour. They want to get their music out there and play everywhere, but right now they’re focused on creating a good following in the Midwest. Chicago has offered the band many opportunities and ways to reach listeners. All of which wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for all the people that willingly offer up their time and resources to support and create a diverse and vibrant music scene. Though it is not always an easy feat, Cudone feels that they probably wouldn’t be a band anymore if they weren’t from the city. But caring about what they do and being motivated, they know they can make touring happen. They’ve definitely faced and gone through a lot of struggles, including having all of their Facebook fans being deleted, their van and gear stolen, and losing key members/friends. After having everything stolen, they had no idea how they were going to start playing music again. They were going to shows via public transit and sharing gear with all the other bands. “Luckily, there are a ton of amazing people in this world who donated money to help us get back on our feet. We continue to overcome these struggles because we truly believe in what we do. I think we all understand and have the idea instilled in our mind that this is a band. It’s vulnerable to failure. We know that the problems that come our way and the mistakes are actually opportunities. Also, we’ve been through so much at this point that anytime a problem comes our way I always remind myself, ‘We’ve been through this before, we’re fine, and where are we playing next?’” Cudone expressed. Fortunately, there have also been positive moments to keep them going. Putting out this album is certainly one of them, if not the very best moment so far. Every note, chord, word, beginning, and ending has a direct connection to the band, which they are very proud of. Being able to translate musically in the way that they have is also an achievement for them. The ultimate dream would of course be to be able to solely focus on music and not have to worry about the “little” things, like having health insurance. But even then, they’re constantly thinking about what’s next and creating something that’s better than the last. Cudone explained, “Although that may sound like a struggle, rather than ‘living the dream,’ learning how to appreciate the struggle is the dream.” INTERVIEW & STORY: Daisy Matietta
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POP-PUNK IS NOT SIMPLY A
genre; it’s an attitude. It’s a lifestyle. Polar Bear Club is a prime member of the pop-punk community with their embodiment of angsty lyrics, harsh vocals, and upbeat melodies. Representing Rochester, New York, founding members Jimmy Stadt (vocals), Pat Benson (guitar), and Steve Port (drums) recruited initiates Chris Browne (guitar), and Tyler Smith (bass) to join the PBC family after parting ways with two of their original members. Losing band members is one of the most common struggles that bands face, whether it be a mutual agreement or fallout. These events were a slight setback, but the band was able to recuperate and continue progressing. “The member changes we’ve had over the years have been difficult. All of the splits were amicable, but teaching people your songs and trying to get as tight as you were takes a lot of time and patience and it can really burn you out,” Stadt recalled. “We luckily found hardworking people to pull their weight in the equation. At this point we’ve played together so much that it feels just as tight as it used to.” Once the new lineup was in place, Polar Bear Club was able to turn their luck around with several monumental achievements
in 2013, including getting signed to Rise Records, releasing their fourth full-length album, touring alongside Bad Religion and embarking on their own headlining tour this fall. Nearly seven years and three full-length albums later, Polar Bear Club released Death Chorus last month under their new label. After all this time, the band remains consistent in the messages they want to express through their music. Growth is inevitable with every new record release, but Stadt claims that the band doesn’t have any new motives. “Basically we’re doing the same thing we’ve always done, making music we want to hear. That notion has changed a little over the years though. I think we just focus on the ‘song’ more than we do a cool part or cool riffs,” he admitted. Long time fans may have noticed the contrast in Stadt’s vocals compared to previous releases, which he has clarified as a natural occurrence. As for the album’s concept, it may appear morbid when glancing at the album title and cover, but Stadt explained the real meaning behind the record’s underlying themes. “The name came about really from having a couple songs with the word death or dying in the chorus. I was working on the lyrics and just said to myself, ‘Come on, not another death chorus,’ and it just sort of stuck. Thematically it deals with the dual meanings and
HOME: Rochester, NY NOW JAMMING: Death Chorus - Full-Length (Rise Records) CURRENTLY: Getting ready for a huge year of touring in 2014 connotations of something dying. That’s kind of why we went with the Tarot card inspired art; death doesn’t always mean something bad.” Experiencing writers’ block is something that not many bands discuss. No matter what, they always manage to power through their battles to devise words to express their innermost feelings in an accurate way. As a songwriter, Stadt confessed that he struggles with just that. “The only way out is writing through it. There are a lot of bad bad bad bad lyrics on The Cutting Room Floor whose sole purpose was fighting through writer’s block. Lyrics I won’t be sharing with anyone.” Opening for larger bands presents many opportunities to expand a band’s audience and reach out to new listeners. Polar Bear Club landed an amazing opportunity when touring with Bad Religion earlier this year, which was great exposure for their music to longtime music lovers. “A lot of bigger bands like that attract a lot of open minded people who really just like concerts. They’re not aligned with a specific
“scene” or style of music they just like loud stuff. Tours like that are probably the perfect support tour to do,” Stadt replied. Becoming world travelers is one of PBC’s favorite parts of the jobs, but they still have some uncharted territory that they would like to explore here in the states. Stadt revealed a few milestone goals that he has for the band, which are to be guests on The Gorburger Show (a raunchy, out-of-this-world talk show hosted by a blue monster), or one of the most common dreams that many musicians hope for, which is to score the cover of Rolling Stone. “We’re pretty humble guys. The fact that we can go as far as we’ve gone geographically and play to anyone who knows who we are is still a little mind blowing.” Although the band recently wrapped up their headlining tour with Citizen, Sainthood Reps and Diamond Youth, you’ll be able to catch Polar Bear Club on the road in 2014 as they continue to tour through the Death Chorus album cycle, hopefully covering new ground in cities they’ve never played before. PHOTO: Ashley Osborn INTERVIEW & STORY: Haley Black HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 43
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HOME: Los Angeles, CA NOW JAMMING: Smallpools - EP (RCA Records) CURRENTLY: Getting ready for their full US tour with Grouplove & MS MR early next year
IN LESS THAN A YEAR FOUR MUSICIANS
hoping to get a foot in the door have done the impossible. Smallpools formed after singer Sean Scanlon and guitarist Mike Kamerman made the move from the east coast to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. By the last half of 2012 the band had completed its line-up with bassist Joe Intile and drummer Beau Kuther. When the band first began collaborating they had no clue how rapidly things would escalate for them in the months ahead. In such a short period of time the band has already released an increasingly popular alternative rock single “Dreaming,” signed to a major label, performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live and toured with Twenty One Pilots. Most bands work for years for this kind of success and Smallpools have done it seemingly overnight. For many, LA is seen as go-to place to make their dreams in show business come true. Performers trek there from all over dreaming of success. Scanlon and Kamerman moved clear across the country with similar hopes and aspirations of making a name for themselves in music. They worked normal jobs to maintain their residence and worked to build the band that would soon be Smallpools. “Mike and I knew each other first and we moved to LA,” Scanlon explained, “We got some crappy jobs and spent a year and a half trying to write songs. And then we were finally fed up and then booked some studio time.” During this time the guys asked Intile to help them out with their project and be brought along Kuther, who’d recently moved from Portland, to help out as well. “We all got in a room together in August of 2012, and that’s when we started this whole thing,” Scanlon said. LA seemed to be the perfect setting for the four musicians to work together to create a fun sound that they were all proud of. The band notes the setting as a definitive part of Smallpools’ overall sound. “Before we moved out I was living in New York substitute teaching. It was very cold and I was in my hometown so I was kind of trapped in this little bubble,” Scanlon explained, “I think when we moved to LA it was kind of like a liberating, think out of the box experience. There was an overall chill, more fun vibe to being there. That kind of came through on the songs.” The band started out with small hopes of just wanting to create and play music together. The big picture was pushed a bit to the back of their minds and the band took the time to focus on what they were creating. The members of the band reveled in what they were doing, but, knowing the frailties of their situation, did not get too carried away with big dreams. “We had moved to LA to pursue music, but I think it got to the point where we started the band it did seem like that idea wasn’t really going to work out,” Kamerman expressed. “We were all still working jobs. Like we could fill up our weekends with a show every once in awhile,” Scanlon added. 46 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
But these shows seemed to bring a sense of purpose and enjoyment to what they were doing musically together. Kemerman described the shows as an opportunity to “Just to kind of get in a good head space, you know, be creative again…that was the objective.” Smallpools’ pop-rock sound it most comparative to alternative rock powerhouses like Passion Pit and Fun. Their songs give a healthy blend retro and modern rock with the use of 80s-esque synthesizers and the standard use of guitar, drum and bass. The songs are captivating, undeniably catchy and give the band a good leg to stand on in an industry swarmed by numerous electronically inspired pop-rock groups taking over the charts. The band doesn’t sweat the similarities. They have set their mind to making the music that they want and music that they hope others will want to hear as well. “I don’t think music is a competition,” Kemerman stated. “I think we just have to hope that the quality of the song behind the production is long lasting and people will still want to hear those words and melodies and notes,” added Scanlon, “So that’s what we’re going to try and do. We’re going to try and make good songs.” Over the summer the band released a four song self-titled EP. The EP features the group’s breakthrough single “Dreaming.” The song hit number one on The Hype Machine in only a matter of days, debuted at number 40 on Billboard’s Rock Airplay chart and already has well over one million views on YouTube. “Our first song had a really good response. We we’re definitely hoping that people would embrace the songs but we didn’t expect it to be as good as it did,” Scanlon expressed, “As a band you kind of lose the perspective of what the song even sounds like anymore. So it’s always fun when people finally get to have the first listen to the song because we don’t even know what that is anymore. When their reaction is good, we know we did alright.” Four songs are short even for an EP, but this seems to be the method of many current artists in the industry. Quality over quantity is definitely a good mindset, but it is rapidly changing the inner workings of the music industry. Bands put out little releases here and there with a focus of getting that one hit song. Smallpools accepts this formula, but doesn’t let it hinder them from pursuing bigger projects in the future. “I feel like for brand new bands and you just throw out like 12 new songs that no one’s ever heard before there’s not many people that are going to listen to all those songs. I think four or five is a little more digestible,” Kemerman reasoned. “A lot of times the band will have success with one song or a couple songs and then once all the attention is turned to them then someone tells them that they need to write an album and then do it quickly. So it’s not as inspired or good as the song that they had a lot of time to themselves to work on,” Scanlon added. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t full length in Smallpools’ future. In fact the band is currently working on new music to hopefully
put together a new release in 2014. “We’re going to go home in December and work on [the album] through the winter and hopefully it’ll be done by the spring,” said Scanlon. The band wants to focus on putting together an album that is simply made up of “great songs.” And in an industry where it’s all about flashy, meaningful and extravagantly conceptual albums the idea of having an album that gets straight to the point with amazing tracks is wonderfully refreshing. “Our goal is to make an album that is very simple and enjoyable all the way through,” Kemerman said. In light of the bands awing success and in promotion of their EP, the band has hit the road. Recently finishing up a short stint opening for Twenty One Pilots, the band has been exposed to a whole world of new faces and new experiences. To keep things interesting they make sure to put on a live show that is genuine and unique. This is possible with a little help from their canine friends Syrup and Bingo. “We have these two dogs that we have on stage with us all the time. They’re not real dogs. They’re like ceramic statues. It’s kind of unique,” explained Intile.
Ceramic dogs aside the band tries to keep things real on the stage, “We just like bring real instruments and the core of what we’re actually playing and then the frills are kind of on top. So it’s not just like, I don’t know, we’re playing the parts I guess. We’re playing songs we wrote,” Scanlon said. Smallpools has done so much more than put out a fun EP and put on several awesome live shows. The band has given purpose and direction to the four guys that make it up. Four guys dreaming of playing music for a living and in need of a means to do such a thing. It seems that they have been blessed by fate. “I played music for awhile but then you kind of are confused and you lose that feeling of if you’re still capable of like creating anything noteworthy…I was having that point, but then luckily I kind of like shook it off and then met these guys,” Kemerman explained, “It was trying to find a purpose in [life before the band] and then the band came and we have brought purpose to each other’s lives again which is very nice!” PHOTOS: Cara Bahniuk INTERVIEW: Jenn Stookey STORY: Annette Schafer
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A RT I S T O F T H E Y E A R
HOME: Tallahassee, FL NOW JAMMING: Monsters In The Closet - Full-Legnth (Fearless Records) CURRENTLY: Taking time off before heading to the UK, Europe and Australia early next year
FOR MANY MUSICIANS, THE
instinct to play music is instilled in them at an early age. They dream of the day when arenas will be singing along to songs they’ve written, record sales will be their main source of income and being at home will be considered a vacation. While many have the talent to succeed at this level, few have the determination and drive to devote themselves entirely to the art of music. Mayday Parade may not have formed until 2005, but the dream began many years before in a middle school in Tallahassee, Florida, when guitarist Brooks Betts and lead singer/pianist Derek Sanders decided to join forces. The two played in bands together throughout high school, calling on Jeremy Lenzo to join as the bass player. Together, Sanders, Betts and Lenzo made up half of a band called Defining Moment. Across town, former vocalist Jason Lancaster, guitarist Alex Garcia and drummer Jake Bundrick formed half of Kid Named Chicago. The two bands merged to create a new band that would eventually become known as Mayday Parade.
“We had a meeting pretty much saying, ‘Let’s take these three guys from this band and these three guys from this band and we’ll start this [new] group because we’re the most dedicated with it.’ Some of the guys in the bands either had other commitments, jobs and kids, [or] were in school and couldn’t really fully pursue this whole idea. So we wanted to take the ones from each who could fully commit to it and start [Mayday Parade],” recalls Sanders. With the newly merged band, the question of who would take on the role of lead singer arose, seeing as both Sanders and Lancaster had been strong lead singers in their former bands. Instead of squabbling about who would take lead vocals, Sanders and Lancaster decided to split the singing duties in half, creating the dual vocal sound associated with Mayday Parade’s releases. Mayday Parade wasted no time putting together a debut EP called Tales Told By Dead Friends without any support from a record label. Once equipped with physical copies of their new EP, the band set out on the road but not as part of a tour. In order to get their name out to potential listeners, Mayday Parade took a chance 50 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
by following the 2006 Warped Tour, approaching festivalgoers in the parking lot and line about their music. By the end of the summer, Mayday had gained thousands of new followers without playing a single show, sold over 10,000 copies of Tales Told By Dead Friends and created enough hype to land a spot on tour with Wheatus. “It was a really small tour, playing for around 20 kids or so a night type deal, but it was so much fun and a great learning experience. Some of us had toured a little bit previously in bands before this, but that was our first time touring with Mayday Parade,” recounts Sanders. In the fall of 2006, their hard work was recognized and rewarded when Fearless Records offered them a record deal. The band immediately started to plan for their debut album and in January of 2007, the members of Mayday Parade went into a studio with Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount (All Time Low, Cartel) and laid down tracks for what would become their first studio release,
A Lesson In Romantics. After completing the album and prior to its release, Lancaster announced his departure from the band for personal reasons. Though slightly shaken by the departure of Lancaster, the band pressed on without hesitation, topping Billboard’s Heatseeker’s Chart at #8 and holding the position for seventy weeks upon the release of A Lesson In Romantics. “We were absolutely just determined to keep on moving. It was actually during [a] tour with the Plain White T’s that [Jason] ended up leaving and going home and we played a show without him the next day. It was a little shaky at first just getting into playing as a five-piece and who was going to sing the parts that he sang and who was going to play the guitar parts that he played and stuff like that, but as soon as the tour was over we rehearsed it with the five of us a bunch and just kept on going. I feel lucky [that] we didn’t lose any support from the label or anything,” reflects Sanders. Mayday Parade continued to thrive off of their debut album, landing a spot on Warped Tour 2007 and 2008 this time as a
performer. With two runs on the toughest tour in the industry, the band began to draw up plans for a new record. Unlike their first record, Anywhere But Here would be their major label debut after signing with Atlantic Records in 2009. “Once the band started to kind of gain momentum and was bigger and signed to a major label, we kind of jumped through all these hoops of a major label and people saying, ‘This is what you need to do. You need to go write with these people and write this kind of music and do this and do this.’ We didn’t have much control over anything that was happening as a band and we sort of just went with it and were very bummed out by doing things that way,” comments Sanders. Mayday regained the original purpose and spirit behind their music with their third studio album, Mayday Parade. For the release, the band reunited with producers Zach Odom and Kenneth Mount, hoping to return to their roots. The self-titled album, released in October 2011, entered the Billboard Top 200 impressively at #12. After returning to their roots by re-signing with Fearless Records earlier this year, Mayday Parade’s career is coming full circle. They’re back making the music that gained them such a devoted fan base with the label that helped launch their career. Their most recent release and fourth studio album entitled Monsters In The Closet follows Mayday Parade with a continuation of solid pop infused rock and roll songs. “We were still learning things a lot with the first two albums. We were just kind of going with the flow trying to figure things out as it came and then with the self-titled [album] and Monsters In The Closet, we have really dialed it in to figure out exactly what it is that works with this band and what we need to do to make the albums that we love and that we want to make. I think as we’ve played together for so long we’ve become tighter as a band and musicians and we’re able to just vibe and work together easier. It’s a combination of a whole lot of things obviously. Kenneth and Zack who have produced three of the four of our albums have been a huge part of that as well by helping us along the way and figuring stuff out… they make the whole experience just fun instead of being stressful,” says Sanders. Mayday Parade’s album artworks always incorporate a certain faceless figure holding an umbrella and Monsters In The Closet is no exception. Unlike previous albums where the figure takes
possession of most of the cover, Mayday Parade decided to subtly incorporate the figure into the Monsters In The Closet artwork. “Whenever we were throwing around different ideas for album names, the idea came up for Monsters In The Closet, because it was kind of a key leading into ‘Ghosts’ and a thought that kind of brings in a darker image. You can do some really interesting things with the artwork so we kind of planned with the album name to do [something] more mysterious and dark and maybe kind of creepy for the artwork. Then we were tossing around the idea [of] the faceless umbrella guy, who has been kind of the focus of the three covers on our previous albums. We were trying to throw around whether we wanted him to be the main focus again or not. We decided this time around to sort of have him in it, where you can kind of see his face in the reflection of the doorknob, but he’s not the main focus,” explains Sanders. While the faceless man makes appearances on Mayday Parade’s first and second album covers, it isn’t until the release of their self-titled album that the faceless man becomes a character with a story. Through the music videos for “Oh Well Oh Well” and “Stay,” the band gives life to the nameless icon that has become a part of their musical journey. “There actually is more to all that story that I don’t know if we’ll ever do something with. It’s weird. It kind of started as an image and grew into this whole story with background to him,” Sanders reveals. What the album lacks in visual representation of the faceless figure on the album artwork, it makes up for in content. The songs on Monsters In The Closet reveal an evolving Mayday Parade with songs that hit harder, deeper, and stronger than ever before. Their single “Ghosts” was an instant hit among fans after being released as the first single off the album. Sanders admits, “I think if I’m not mistaken, it’s the first song for this album that I started working on or had an idea for not long after we had released our self-titled [album]. It had been almost two years or so of working the idea over, and I had been excited about it the whole time. It was the first song we started working on whenever we got together to write the album… it’s crazy to have an idea that you’re excited about but you have to wait years to even play it and then record it.”
“IT’S COOL TO SEE MORE AND MORE PEOPLE SINGING ALONG AS THE TOUR GOES ON AND THE ALBUM HAS BEEN OUT LONGER. WE’RE GRATEFUL.” HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 53
Years after opening for Wheatus to an average crowd of 20 people to headlining sold out shows across the country, Mayday Parade have earned every fan along the way through diligent work and personal dedication to their fan base. “The craziest thing is that it’s always been building since we’ve first started this band until now, eight years later. There was never a huge jump or a great leap throughout the years, it [has] always been a slow, steady, gradual build, which I think honestly is the best way that it can happen from a longevity standpoint. With so many bands that just spring up and then explode, there’s nowhere to go from there except down and a lot of the times it’s hard to maintain when bands get thrown into that position. They don’t even know what to do and it’s hard to cope with that. For us, it’s always moving upwards. Even now eight years later, it’s crazy. Our latest album had it’s best first week ever, and every album we put out has done more in the first week than the previous album and things like that. It’s pretty wild because we all have expected at some point to see it start to plateau or maybe drop off, but it’s always been moving up. It’s all really wild and we’re just happy to keep seeing a build like this.” With every new release, Mayday Parade seems to gain new fans while still maintaining their old ones. The new songs from Monsters In The Closet were put to the test this fall when Mayday Parade headlined the Glamour Kills Tour with support from Man Overboard, Cartel, and Stages & Stereos. “That’s always one of the most fun things about being in a band is playing new stuff live for the first time and kind of gauging the reaction when people sing these songs that you’ve been working on for a long time, but haven’t been able to release yet. It’s also cool to see more and more people singing along as the tour goes on and the album [has] been out longer. We’re grateful. We still
love playing the early stuff as well, but there’s something fresh and new and exciting about playing stuff off of the newer album,” admits Sanders. With many years of experience under their belt at this point, Mayday Parade has established a sound that is uniquely theirs. 2013 has been a very busy, but very successful year for the group with countless tours including the Spring Fever Tour with All Time Low, Pierce the Veil, and You Me At Six, and more recently the Glamour Kills Tour; not to mention releasing their fourth studio album, which is on its way to being another classic Mayday Parade success story. Despite all the success, the guys in Mayday Parade remain down-to-earth and humble about all they have accomplished over the years. “I feel like we’re very lucky. I feel like the further we get into it and the longer we are a band, the more I just appreciate the fact that we have been able to do the things that we’ve done. I just imagine what else I could have done with my life and nothing seems nearly as cool or exciting. We’re very grateful, I guess.” The dreams of middle school boys playing songs in their garages have turned into a reality of playing sold out venues across the country with energetic fans singing along to every song. With nothing to stand in their way, Mayday Parade have pressed on through difficult times believing that while most things hurt a little at first, they get better in time. The support from fans has been the driving factor in the band’s career and a key reason to their success. Without them, Mayday Parade would be miserable at best. POSED PHOTOS: Jordan Fischels LIVE PHOTOS: Ashley Osborn INTERVIEW: Jessica Klinner & Jenn Stookey STORY: Jessica Klinner
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“THE CRAZIEST THING IS THAT IT’S ALWAYS BEEN BUILDING SINCE WE’VE FIRST STARTED THIS BAND UNTIL NOW, EIGHT YEARS LATER.”
TOUR ROUND UP
PHOTO: Ashley Osborn
PHOTO: Ashley Osborn
twenty | one | pilots PHOTO: Ashley Osborn
reviews artist: States
album: Paradigm rating:
Sounds like: Best Coast Paper Route Atlas Genius
Recommended tracks: “I Hope You Stay Gone” “Fever” “Erase It All”
I Hope You Stay Gone
Erase It All
All In My Mind
Release date: December 3rd, 2013
Composed of ex-members from Lydia and Copeland, States has been steadily capturing the attention of music lovers all over the country. Their debut album, Room To Run, gave the band just what they needed to gain a strong, dedicated fan base and secure their future as a band. With 2013 drawing to a close, States is giving fans and music lovers everywhere an album to remember. With the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Paradigm, the band’s second studio release, was produced, mixed and released independently. States claim they were blessed by perfect timing upon forming, and the blessing of timing continues to follow them with Paradigm being released right as fans are being eaten up with anticipation for new music. Mindy White’s vocals have never sounded so good or blended so well with music as with this album. Paradigm is filled with dynamic songs that flow together to create a unique indie pop album. The album opens in a non-traditional way with one of the album’s slowest songs, “Cirlces,” displaying White’s velvety vocals. The second track on the album entitled “I Hope You Stay Gone” really introduces States’ new sound, chiming with vengeful lyrics and a sound to match. “Fever” sounds like the musical love child of The Black Keys and Best Coast, overflowing with spunky lyrics and blues-inspired rhythms. Surrounded by numerous tracks erupting with energy and emotion, “Bones,” a haunting piano ballad, sits midway through the album and creates a peaceful serenity for a few short minutes. It seems as though States has finally found their groove. Paradigm being released independently from a record label allowed States to be honest and raw in their music, creating an album that will turn heads and be a hot topic for any music lover. REVIEW: Jessica Klinner
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Artist: Life on Repeat Album: Blacklisted Life On Repeat’s album Blacklisted is bitter sweet. The sophomore full-length flows incredibly well, yet it is the band’s final album before their disbandment. With Blacklisted, the band seems to have experimented with more effects and vocal textures. Lead singer Patrick Purves’ shout-sings often fluctuate between muffled and distorted to smooth and heartfelt. It is clear that the band has thought out their melodies and vocals instead of just layering breakdowns one after another. The lyrics of each song also have much more depth and provide a great compliment to the guitar riffs and drum lines. My favorite song off the album is their single “Forgotten.” Not only is it super catchy, but easy to relate and not cliché. The song is always changing, builds momentum and is inspirational. Blacklisted is a good mix of hard rock, post-hardcore and pop-punk. Yes, there are screams and breakdowns, but it is not overwhelming. Blacklisted is not terribly distinct, but it is filled with catchy tunes and is an easy jam.
recommended tracks: “Forgotten,” “Vanity” & “Stumble” review: Theresa Pham
Artist: Crown The Empire Album: Limitless EP (Re-issue) & The Fallout (Re-release) Crown The Empire has been a favorite since their debut EP Limitless in 2011, but the reissue is a million times better. The band re-recorded every aspect of the EP and I am impressed. When the band first recorded Limitless, lead singer Andrew Velasquez was only 16 years old and did all the vocals and screaming. The addition of screamer David Escamilla to the tracks was exactly what the EP needed. The production of Limitless this time around is much cleaner and mature. It is evident that the band has learned quite a bit and grown since the original release. The Fallout was never one of my favorite albums, but the rerelease was a nice added touch. The true star of the deluxe album is the reissue of Limitless. I had no idea that “Lead Me Out Of The Dark” could get better. The reissue is an incredible treat for all fans and my respect for the band has exponentially increased.
recommended tracks: “Lead Me Out Of The Dark” & “Breaking Point” review: Theresa Pham
Artist: Black Flag Album: What The... After seeing Black Flag live, I was inspired and awe struck. They are legends and I was ecstatic about their first studio album in 24 years. Unfortunately, What The... is everything but inspired and fell short. The album is disappointing and flawed. As Black Flag’s comeback, What The… is extremely superficial and generic. The album does not flow well, nor does it feel complete. The album does have a consistent sound. A majority of the 22 tracks almost sound exactly the same and mesh together into one. Almost as if the band hastily threw the album together and kept every single song they recorded. Drama and lawsuit aside, the album is missing the distinct “Black Flag” sound without Henry Rollins singing vocals. Ron Reyes’ screaming does not have the same lyrical delivery, but Reyes is not terrible. In my opinion, What The… is a gigantic leap backwards and would have been much stronger as an EP.
recommended tracks: “The Chase” & “Wallow In Despair” review: Theresa Pham