Unplugged M ay 2 0 1 4
giants INside: - Of Us Giants talks about their highly praised debut - Foxy shazam talks about their lastest release â€œGonzoâ€? - photo sets from La dispute and silver spoons - Warren Franklin talks about a new way to share his music
Letter from the staff:
No Sleep Till Completion
ot too long ago, I asked a local producer how he could tell if a band put in a lot of time and effort into recording opposed to just spending major bills and getting it done professionally, and he simply answered, “You can’t.” He then continued to explain that someone who mixes and produces his or her own recordings (with passion) would most likely yield something similar, if not identical to, a professional. Although I knew what he meant I still didn’t quite understand, so I went on this weird thing called the “Internet” and looked up a bunch of things that make a recording great, really above par (this is the part of the story where I would normally list off a bunch of things that make no difference to you, the reader, so I’ll spare you the details). Everywhere I looked people talked about how producing and mixing a song took anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks – multiple weeks on one song. It blew my mind reading about the dedication and passion some of these people had for the art they were proficient in. After all of that was over I realized that I surround myself with the same kind of people. Take the Unplugged Magazine staff for example. Everyone puts in a lot of time and effort into this project. It’s not for pay, and not just to have our names on it, but because we love what we do. We have the drive and passion for this stuff – writing, editing, designing – and not only that, but we all have a passion for music, just like those producers and sound engineers that spend weeks on one song. We want to deliver the best publication that we can so you guys can enjoy it; just like musicians want to give us the best song that they can come up with. And just like them (musicians, engineers and producers alike), we don’t sleep until the job is done. In the end, looking back at this weird chain of thoughts, I realized that it doesn’t really matter whether a recording sounds like Pharrell produced it or like your dad recorded it in the garage and closet of your home. What matters is that you put in 100 percent into it and you don’t sleep until you’re happy with it. Truly good music will still sound good through a half-decent recording.
- Steven Condemarin
Top 5 Albums On Repeat “The Heist” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
“We Can Make
The World Stop” Glitch Mob “Louder Now” Taking Back Sunday
“Even If It Kills Me” Motion City Soundtrack
Four “Paramore” Paramore
Drop the needle again
Of Us Giants
la dispute, mansions & pianos become the teeth
Warren Franklin & The Founding Fathers
I Knew Josh Before He Got Famous
My Scene, My Music
Editors in chief
Steven Condemarin alisha kirby
Jorden Hales Ashli jade Josh Jurss daniel Romandia
Robert Aguilar Megan Houchin
Photographers Carlos Almanza Allen Dubnikov Jesika Gatdula Joseph Garcia Elmer Martinez
Kendra beltran Andrea Caccese Eric Delgado
Contact us Feel free to head over to our website (sacunplugged.com) for more information on advertising, contributing and submissions.
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pring is a mixed bag of allergies kicking in and kicking your ass, the opportunity to roll your windows down again while driving and a garage of happier releases that make you want to start up a full-fledged air-instrument band. You take the good with the bad and you dust off all the records that remained untouched during the gray and gloomy winter months. Here are just a couple of my favorite springtime records that I’ll be getting reacquainted with: by Alisha Kirby
Drop The Needle Again
Gold Motel - "Summer House": Black 180g To say I was devastated when The Hush Sound announced they weren’t planning on making more music would be an understatement. The projects that spawn from a band breakup are rarely as good, but I’ll be damned if Greta Morgan didn’t excel with Gold Motel. Their debut is perfect beach pop – think Best Coast but way better – and I couldn’t be happier with the pressing. The band went all out with this album and you can hear it in every note.
& The Reveling -"Tributaries": Blue/ 250 I’m pretty sure I reviewed this album when it first came out but, to be entirely honest, I can’t remember. If nothing else I know I vaguely enjoyed it. So when I recognized the cover with a discount sticker on it I didn’t even question it. Five dollars was well worth the gamble as I’ve fallen in love with this record more with each listen; especially with those guitars coming in loud and clear. Check these guys out if you haven’t already.
ORDER ONLINE NOW 06.unplugged.May.2014
Secrecy, intuition & freedom
Head over to Foxy Shazam’s website and download “Gonzo” for free
Cincinnati’s Foxy Shazam utilizes Steve Albini’s methods and their phones while recording “Gonzo” Story by Josh Jurss
pril 2 was a big deal for fans of Foxy Shazam. Their new album “Gonzo” was released by surprise and was free to download through their website. Traffic was so intense on the site that the servers crashed and new links had to be posted. Fans were also surprised by how different it was from what they’d expected. Not much was known about “Gonzo” before its release, as it was done largely in secret. “It’s hard enough to get the six of us who are in the band on the same page about something; adding in the full staff of a record label often made things impossible,” said Daisy, the band’s bassist, mentioning that from a business standpoint the feeling was “exhilarating and a little scary,” but felt much more natural emotionally. “At the end of the day we always ended up going with our gut, and it made sense this time to cut out any middlemen that sought to deter our intuition.” Chicago-based producer Steve Albini
recorded the band live in his studio. “A secret weapon side effect of his ‘hands-off’ recording ethos is that it Jedi-mind-tricks you into just trusting your own intuition,” Daisy said. Because of this approach, the band found themselves making quicker decisions and self-editing their music more. The idea of recording songs live spawned from a demo session in Pittsburgh. After recording the demo, the band agreed that the energy they felt in the studio was being drained from the recordings upon playback. “We felt like these songs work best as performance pieces,” Daisy said. “We all had iPhone recordings that we thought sounded awesome, so we started exploring the ideas of recording the entire record as live as possible.” The actual release of the record followed the recent trend of surprise album releases while also offering a free digital download. “That’s so much more fun than pretending it’s still the ‘90s and people are going to buy
CDs and then you have boxes of them sitting around while everyone burns copies,” said Daisy. Essentially, the band cut out the theoretical expectation that fans will still pay for music rather than downloading the record off some website. That being said, “Gonzo” did see a physical release, just not in the compact disc format. “If people really want to pay for it they can buy an LP, which are always cooler because they’re so much more of an object than a CD or cassette,” he said. “They’re heavy and big, they feel serious. CDs never felt serious to me. They break too easily and they’re tiny.” “Gonzo” is the fifth full-length from Foxy Shazam and it stands to reason that it’s quite a bit different sonically than their previous releases. As Daisy put it, “We are six adventurous dudes, so we’re always exploring new sounds and new ideas. I feel like it would be a lot weirder if we made the same record over and over.”
Check out the whole photo set online @ sacunplugged.com
Venue: Slimâ€™s San Francisco, CA Photos by: Alisha Kirby
Pianos Become The Teeth
Warren Franklin & The Founding Fathers find a different way of giving their music away to fans
show your support by like Warren Franklin & The Founding Fathers on facebook and stay updated on new releases
Story by Josh Jurss
any musicians nowadays are giving away their music for free, but not many are doing it the same way Warren Franklin does. “It felt like a good way to engage people and it’s good to have the tabs and lyrics right there on my blog for whoever wants them,” Franklin says. This past April, Franklin began posting lyrics and tabs to his songs from his solo project, Warren Franklin and The Founding Fathers, along with explanations of the meaning behind the lyrics. “It’s fun for me to try and think back to exactly what the songs meant to me at the time I wrote them,” he said. “Even though the lyrics are very straightforward they still have managed to shift meanings for me over the years.” Some of the songs are off the group’s latest EP, “Now That I’m Here, I Can’t Imagine Being Anywhere Else,” which was released back in February on Count Your Lucky Stars. The record was released for “name your price” (otherwise known as
free) on Franklin’s Bandcamp. “I wanted it to be something people could have right away. The record was online just a week after we recorded it.” That’s a very quick turnaround considering the album was recorded live in studio in the span of just two days. The EP itself is more of a compilation of B-sides reworked and released together. Franklin tells the story of how these songs came to be. For example, “‘State Capitals’ was the first song I wrote after ‘Your Heart Belongs to the Midwest’ but some of the lyrics were not working for me and it was twice as long, so I trimmed it down and changed maybe half the words.” The short opener, “A Definite Imbalance,” was a song Franklin had for years, always thinking it should be added to, before realizing it was the perfect opener for the EP in the state it was written. All the songs are written by Franklin acoustically first, then taken to The
Founding Fathers to be fleshed out as full-band pieces. “The songs don’t change very much as far as the structure goes but they always tend to change dramatically as far as the mood and tone of the songs,” Franklin said. With this EP, he is adding another release to the Count Your Lucky Stars family; a label Franklin often speaks quite highly of. “I think since the label’s first few bands were all such close friends, every band that has signed to the label since understood that they are entering a close-knit community and that they will soon be a part of that too,” said Franklin of CYLS. The label is also home to Franklin’s other band: Joie De Vivre. You can expect a full-length Warren Franklin and The Founding Fathers record relatively soon as the band will be going into the studio to record it this summer. Until then, enjoy some great free tunes from an artist who is truly connecting with his fans in every way he can.
My Scene, My Music
Kendra Beltran Los Angeles, CA Founder of Golden Mixtape goldenmixtape.com
Josh Jurss Chicago, IL Unplugged Mag. Staff Writer
Eric Delgado Abbeville, SC Contributing Writer blessyerheart.com
What qualities do you look for when checking out new bands? I feel like I’m filling out an online dating profile right now -- Except I’m definitely more successful finding a band than a mate. When it comes to finding a new band for me to adore it’s simple; hooks, lines and activity. Having grown up on TRL, bands have to have at least one song that’ll grab my attention. At that point I don’t care about the lyrics at all; that comes later. I just care that you’re able to create a song that’s able to stand out from the pack of the countless others that I hear on an everyday basis. After that I take the relationship further and look for some depth. This is for bands only. These rules don’t apply to my pop obsessions at all because, come on, those lyrics
are as deep as Gary Busey is insane. Anyway, the lyrics are what will hold me a little longer. Usually this means lyrics that have the following topics because I’m forever 14 years old: not fitting in, leaving your hometown and growing up. Lastly, bands have to be active. I don’t want to fall in love with a band that has absolutely nothing going on. You put out a record three years ago, posted once on Facebook in the past year and expect me to fall head over heels? Oh honey, no. So hook me with a catchy track, make me stay for the heart of your music and above all else showcase that you’re working and doing something with your life.
The most crucial part of looking into a new band for me is this: Does the band have any easily available recordings and are they decent quality? If there are no readily available recordings I have nothing to gauge the band off of other than the word of others, which isn’t always the best advice. It doesn’t immediately turn me off to the band if they only have poor quality recordings, but it definitely puts a seed of doubt into my mind. If a band doesn’t put the time, money or effort into their own music, then why, in turn, should I put time, money and effort into theirs? There are a lot of different factors that can make or break a new band for me after that
initial listen. Most importantly, do I see potential in the band? Whether it be from superb songwriting, lyricism or the actual performances, this is the factor that will truly make or break my decision to continue to follow the band. The actual personality of the band goes a long way toward me becoming a future fan as well. I will be much less likely to support your musical endeavors if you’re a terrible person. Really, I will give any band a listen. I was forced as a child to eat at least one fork or spoonful of every food put in front of me. This led to me disliking most every food from specific categories but some, it turned out, I rather enjoyed. That’s kind of how music goes for me as well.
I visited a record store in a beaten down part of Greenville, South Carolina today in search of a specific vinyl release (they didn’t have it). Upon walking in, I noticed that the proprietor was passionately engaged in conversation with who was obviously a repeat customer. These dudes literally talked about vintage and rare records like they were comparable to the 100-yearold fine wines occasionally auctioned off at Sotheby’s in London. This customer sought purchase input and approval from the proprietor. In response, the proprietor talked about his latest obsession: a certain no-name musician who collected synths and pressed his own record in the ‘70s. Now, the proprietor did not have any of this mystery musician’s records “for
sale” in store but he did have his own “personal” copy that he was generously willing to let go for $40. The customer jumped at the chance to own something rare, cracked a big smile, made the purchase and left. The moral of the story is we are all introduced into new music for different reasons: cover art, pretentious record store owners, our friends, radio or other media. I listen to but don’t collect music. Therefore, I personally seek new music that has the following qualities: solid performance, lyrical content that I can relate to and musical moments that inspire me. Only in 2014 can I live in a time where someone will pay $40 for a shitty record they will never listen to while they probably illegally download the music they do listen to.
What did YOU say? This is where we grab our favorite answers from Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr!
What we said:
Top 5: Songs to sing/ sync
Whether it’s sitting in the car with your best friend making complete fools of yourselves or in the shower singing into a bottle or bar of soap, a lot of us do it. Here are the top five songs that will for sure leave you voiceless and satisfied.
by Steven Condemarin
Steven Condematin Sacramento, CA @scondemarin
After deciding what I’m in the mood to listen to, the most imortant thing for a band (or artist) to have is some sort of platform where I can sample their music. I’m not going to blindly buy a $5 dollar EP that I may or may not like. Also, if there is a platform for your music chances are the band took the time to actually record something not on an iPhone (hopefully).
What do you consider a good show? Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #myscenemymusic and we’ll publish our favorite answers in next month’s issue! @sacunplugged fb.com/sacunplugged
Stay up-to-date on releases, shows and more on our website!
5. “...Baby One More Time” - Britney Spears Back when Spears was a little less crazy and a little more catchy, you could find this song blaring through radios across America. Everyone made fools of themselves. Everyone.
4. “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” - Fall Out Boy I know, I know: so far this list is just a list of high school nostalgic crap but, I mean, come on. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t belt this out loud if it randomly popped up on a shuffled list.
3. “Paper Planes” - M.I.A. Not only have many hip-hop and pop artists covered and sampled this song, but it’s also been used for a handful of popular movies in the late 2000s. If you say you and your friends haven’t tried singing and pantomiming the chorus, I don’t believe you.
2. “Baby Got Back” - Sir Mix A Lot If you honestly have never lip-synced or rapped along to this, these are the only words I can utter: “Oh my gawd, Becky.”
1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” - Queen If Mike Myers and Dana Carvey didn’t convince you in the 1992 classic “Wayne’s World” that this is one of the best songs to sing along to, I don’t know what will. This addicting opera-rock single was/is one of the most elaborate and exciting songs of its time.
Story by Steven Condemarin // Photos by Carlos Almanza
The masses typically enjoy having lyrics in music, but there are a lot of us who often enjoy listening to talented people just play sounds. These sounds can come from the scratch of a vinyl or from the keys of a grand piano. Living With Giants falls under that category of talented people but instead of scratches and C minors they bring music in the form of beautifully placed guitar tones and precise orchestral drum patterns. Not only are these talented individuals working on a new album, they plan to record and produce it themselves. Felix Charlton (bass) has recently partnered with Connor Rodenbaugh (Sound Heart Collective) to share a recording space (thatâ€™s a story for another issue). With a little more construction and preparation in the works, we can expect to be enjoying the musical prowess that is Living With Giants and their new album in the late fall or early winter.
Living With Giants is an awesome band name, how did it come about? Is there a message you’re trying to relay to your fans/listeners with the name? Ryan Mannie (guitar): I came up with the name when it was just a solo project. It kind of represents having kind of a different sound in comparison to other bands in the local scene. I wanted to be able to play with those bands but still stand out and compete sound-wise with that larger sound while still being a smaller band. Also I’ve had about three roommates who were over 6 feet 5 inches, so there’s also that. If anything I want it to kind of reflect a larger-than-life sound. You guys have a very interesting sound, how do you write the music? Mannie: It depends on the project that we are working on. Most of the time I‘ll start by coming up with a basic idea and then Carver (Simmons, drums) will come in and add the drums and we map out the basis for the song. After that Felix (Charlton, bass) and Will (Devine, guitar) come in and add their parts and sometimes the parts will change a bit when their parts are introduced but the structure stays the same. Other times it‘s just a big jam session and we just take the parts that stand out and write a new song based around those.
How do you guys come up with the sounds that you use? Mannie: For me it‘s a lot of sitting at my pedalboard for hours in the middle of the night and just messing around with ideas till something just feels right for me. I also like to add wine glasses on every recording project we do. Simmons: After being in the band for a while now I think I’ve figured out how my personal style of playing fits in with our sound and just generally what works and what doesn’t. We draw a lot of inspiration from orchestral percussion sounds so that influences the way I play some parts. We have a lot of songs where I play orchestral snare-influenced patterns or use mallets and rods on the kit. Charlton: Well, my bass rig is a work in progress but so far it‘s been pretty simple: my bass guitar into a half stack. Eventually, for the upcoming album and live, I‘m going to get some effects units that will complement the guitars in certain songs and sections as we go for big dynamic textures. Devine: For me, it all comes down to experimentation and watching studio videos. Even if it’s from a band that isn’t sonically in the same vein as us, I still find it to be useful for my bag of sonic tricks.
Like living with giants’ facebook page to stay updated on releases and news
How many different pedals do you guys use per album? Do you guys take all of those to shows? Mannie: For the last album I only used about four pedals, but this current one that we are working on I‘ve expanded my board to about 16 different pedals. And yes, I do lug all of them with me to shows. Devine: In the past we have mainly used a big muff, my Nu-Wa Fuzz and lots of delays and plugin reverbs. My pedal board hasn’t grown too much. It’s actually the most solid it’s been in years. It’s an inside joke because my rig used to change every show, haha. For my amp I am using a Crate Blue Voodoo (blue doo doo) on the clean channel into an older Electro Voice 1x15 bass cab. My pedal board consists of a POD X3 Live for my verbs and delays through the effects loop of the head and I have my Nu-Wa Fuzz, a Boss DD3, and an Ibanez mod delay. The order of those last few change and I also have a DigiTech Whammy that I put in line from time to time. How long as LWG been together? Have there been any lineup changes? Mannie: It started as my solo project in about 2008 but evolved into a full band in 2010. We‘ve had a few lineup changes. Our first drummer, McKay, left due to distance and just difficulty practicing. We also had a third guitarist for about half a year in 2011 but he left to work on his new band The Brotherhood of Ellipsis. And we recently added our friend Felix on bass who is working on the new album with us. Devine: Long enough to have done a two-man version of “Free Bird“ at our first show. What genre would you guys say
LWG falls into? Charlton: Post-rock. And Feels. Simmons: Most of our music probably falls under post-rock.The newer stuff we’ve been working on has a darker sound to it and takes influence from prog and post-metal.
Mannie: We used to play about three to four shows a month but when everyone started school and work, we kind of took a bit of a break. But I think with the new release we will be playing much more frequently, possibly even a tour.
What are some of your biggest influences? Any local ones? Mannie: I would probably have to say Mono, Caspian, Russian Circles, If These Trees Could Talk and *shels. As for locals, probably our friends Wander. They release a lot of great music. Simmons: Karnivool, Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit, CHON, Cloudkicker, Corelia, and Minus the Bear. Charlton: Cloudkicker, Zefs Chasing Cara, TTNG, Tera Melos (local), Invalids, The American Dollar, Wander. We don’t sound like most of them, but this next album will have some new sounds inspired by various artists while keeping the same post-rock feel. Devine: Elliott Smith, Brand New, Joyce Manor, Dream Theater and Yes.
How often do you guys rehearse? Charlton: Not as often as we’d like, haha. We need to stop being too busy and maybe live in a house together with no other priorities than music. That is a dream, at least.
How would you describe your sound to people? Mannie: Dark with a lot of dynamics. Simmons: I think the keyword for us is definitely dynamics. Pretty much all of our songs have a great deal of dynamic range in them as far as the playing style and songwriting goes. Charlton: Big. Feels. Devine: Atmospheric music, long reverb trails. Something you would find in a ‘90s Lexus commercial. How often do you guys play shows? Devine: Not often enough, because we all work and go to school.
When you guys play at shows or even rehearse, do you try to play exactly as the recorded songs or do you try to change it up? Mannie: I try to play as close as I can to what the recordings are, but over time some things to change. Simmons: Some of my drum parts for our older songs have evolved a bit from the way they were originally recorded because we had to track our first album on very short notice and the songs were still very new at the time. We’ve been playing those songs for a few years now so some of the drum parts have grown a bit from how they sound on the album. Charlton: When I joined the band, I learned the gist of what was on the first record and tried to make it more fitting to both me and the band’s current state. I feel like I won’t change the music I’ll play live too much compared to the new record, but we take the performance aspect and we add accents to certain moments, like pauses or extended build ups and such. Devine: I try to be as true to the recordings as possible. Though I do have moments where I think additional volume swells or feedback may sound good.
STAY POSTED WITH OF US GIANTS VIA FACEBOOK!
f Us Giants has been steadily getting their name out to anyone who will pay attention. They’ve been a part of the “Something To Forget” compilation alongside Fireworks, La Dispute, Bayside and Crosses, they have regular contests where they give out free downloads as prizes and their debut full-length “Nova Scotia” has been receiving high praise universally – something almost unheard of in this age of internet cynicism. The band recorded the album at Mayhemeness studios in Sacramento over a four-month span. “We originally entered the studio in April and recorded the drums, scratch guitars and vocals,” said the band’s bassist, “manager” and occasional vocalist Jonathan Jennings. “The additional time allowed our songs to reach their full potential and convey the exact sound that we were going for. We are quite fond with how the album turned out in the end.” Featured on the record is Lindsey Pavao from the second season of “The Voice,” who the band met while playing an indie music fest in early 2013. “(We) were excited to meet her because we loved her sound,” said Jennings. “We found that she was literally the sweetest person ever and we passed a copy of our EP, ‘Stitch,’ … a few weeks later, she sent us a message on Facebook stating that she had enjoyed the EP and the rest is history.” Story by Alisha Kirby
Jonathan Jennings on: Turlock, California Turlock, California isn’t necessarily a hot bed for music, but you guys seem to be making the best of it. How was it building the band up from a place that’s not at the forefront (or even the mid-front) of music? Turlock is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which is quite fitting for us. Dustin Andrews (vocals/guitar) and I are both from small towns (Los Banos, California and Hollister, California) so it seems natural for us. From a music scene perspective, we always try to look for the positives and have become friends with many of the bands in the area. We have found the area to be very supportive, but it is difficult to receive recognition on a national level when you are from such a small town.
Of Us Gi an ts May.2014.unplugged.15
for the fun of it
Head over to Mansions’ facebook and stay tuned for updates and releases
Mansions finds unity on diverse tour Story by Alisha Kirby When you end one of the more popular tracks on your latest album with the refrain asking “How do you sleep at night?/ It’s 80 fuckin’ dollars,” people are going to want to know what exactly cost 80 fuckin’ dollars. “Probably every show, but that’s cool,” said Mansions’ vocalist/guitarist Chris Browder regarding how often he’s asked that question. “I like a lot of TV shows and movies that have a certain amount of mystery, where you get to come up with all these crazy theories. And you make this whole thing where what’s in your head is way better and the actual thing is always a disappointment. So why ruin it?” Mansions were just on a month-long tour with La Dispute and Pianos Become The Teeth and, while it doesn’t seem to make sense on paper, Browder insists that the bill has worked in practice. “It makes a lot of sense in a not real obvious way,” he said. “Musically it’s different but … it’s going for more of a similar ideal I guess. We’re all
pretty honest, heartfelt bands, and you can tell we all grew up playing the same kind of shows, playing basements and stuff.” The band has been in the process of figuring out what all bands who have more recorded layers than band members need to live: How to make sure their songs translate. “It’s almost like we’re a cover band of Mansions and are figuring out how to play the songs and represent them where it gets the same thing across,” Browder said. “Some work better than others and there are some we need to play around with and find different versions. But it’s a lot of fun.” That’s the main reason why he’s doing any of this, recording and releasing music; because it’s fun. Browder has said in the past that had “Dig Up The Dead,” the album he released in 2011, not received a fraction of the attention it did, he probably would have stopped writing under the Mansions moniker. “I will always be writing songs and recording them because I like doing that,”
he said, “but if no one is interested I’m not going to try and force it. The point of all that is to share it with people.” “But even this tour, you know, we don’t have another tour booked right now so there’s always that thing with the last show on the tour where it’s like, ‘Well, this could be the last one.’ You never know what’s going to happen,” he said, quickly reassuring with a laugh that he doesn’t think “that’ll happen at the end of this tour.” From the sound of it, expect to hear more from Mansions in the future, but don’t expect an album’s worth of demos and Bsides like their record “New Best Friends,” or an acoustic version of “Doom Loop” like what was released for “Dig Up The Dead.” “We thought about doing an acoustic thing again but we really want the focus to be this record,” Browder said. Keep an eye out for some acoustic videos for some of the songs, though.
I Knew Josh Before He Got Famous 5 Reasons Why You’re Actually Glad Your Favorite Band Changed Their Sound
We’ve all been there. Your favorite band is releasing a new album for the first time in years. Their last release was the crowning achievement of their discography. They’ve finally hit a note that resonates with their fans and created a defining record of the genre. There’s no possible way their next record could possibly be terrible. Unfortunately, once you finally illegally download it, you find it’s different. This isn’t the same band you fell in love with. They’ve changed their sound, alienating themselves from their loyal fans, and it’s awful. “What lousy sellouts,” you say to yourself, wallowing in the disappointment streaming through your computer speakers. But before you hang the band out to dry there are a couple of things to take into account.
of that Star Wars Christmas special (http:// www.dailymotion.com/video/xn5gsj_thestar-wars-holiday-special_shortfilms) he made. The other possibility is that the band knows they are putting out putrid music and they’ve just stopped caring about the world. I’d prefer if it isn’t the latter.
1. People’s tastes change. This includes musicians. They are writing music they like, at least for the time being. It’s not the band’s obligation to create music the fans want or expect. At the moment the record was released, the band either thought they were doing something new or cool and they enjoyed that. Years down the road, or maybe even months, the band could look back at what they’ve released, realize they despise it, track down all the copies and destroy them in the same way George Lucas wishes he could destroy every copy
3. There’s always the rare case of health issues stopping a band from keeping the sound they’re known for. This is most commonly seen with singers who have to stop screaming because it’s literally tearing their vocal chords apart or just causing overall vocal problems. Other health-related issues can be from things like drug use, alcoholism, smoking, etc. Sometimes when musicians change their lifestyle, everything changes -- including their music.
2. Perhaps the band is in a better mental state. I know several great records that were written when the key songwriter was in a defining moment of their life. Many of those moments turned out to be extremely tough times for the artists, but the songs they wrote became their solace and/or turned out to be some of the best work in their career. A prime example of this would be Say Anything and Max Bemis during the recording and release of “Is A Real Boy…”
4. Did the band’s previous release garner new attention and popularity? Could it be that the band is now more popular than they’ve ever been? Have finally signed to a label and are playing venues instead of your friend’s house? If that is the case, you should be happy for them instead of slinging those insults. They are able to reach more people with their music and maybe actually make a living doing something they love. This popularity and record deal do come with some potential setbacks, though. The label might have some say in what the band releases on their label or the band could be mellowing out in order to please the majority of their fans. 5. Maybe they just sold out. Tough luck. Either way, give it a shot. If you like the band, they must have some similar interests as you. Maybe you just don’t realize you like this new direction just yet. Maybe they’ve moved on to a new direction and you just can’t go along for the ride. In that case, no worries. Another future classic album is being made by some local band someplace. You just have to find them.
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I often find myself at the forefront of unpopular opinions. For example, the first time I listened all the way through Manchester Orchestra’s latest album, “Cope,” I thought to myself, “This is clicking more than ‘Simple Math’ ever did,” and truly believed everyone would think the same. Enter the internet; always out to prove me wrong. Here’s why nobody will be able to sway my opinion: “Cope” is huge in every sense of the word. Yes, it keeps the mid-tempo course almost all the way through and yes, I understand how the songs can start to sound the same. Except “Top Notch” will continue to blow your hair back from the first note through the last and the drums at the forefront of “Girl Harbor” will keep building anticipation even after you memorize how the song ends and how it slides into “The Mansion.” Every track has a moment or two, or some aspect to it, that makes it worth a listen every time you listen to this record. There’s nothing worth skipping but there’s also nothing on the album quite like the title track that wraps it up. It’s 3 minutes and 48 seconds of raw power held together by the delicate yet sure and deliberate voice of Andy Hull. If you’re going to give just one song on the album a listen, start here before heading to the first track. If it doesn’t win you over then I’ll happily take my unpopular opinion and go home.
It should be noted that 2012’s “On The Impossible Past” was one of the best records of the past decade. Therefore, it must also be stated that “Rented World” is not “On The Impossible Past.” It’s a more polished, mid-tempo record that hits the spot just about as often as it misses the mark. “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” hits the spot. It’s the first song on the record and feels like a transition from their last, inviting the listener in. The entire song form and vocal melody are extremely welcoming and easy to enjoy for fans of previous Menzingers releases. “Bad Things” completes the trilogy of the band’s songs that include “Things” in the title and displays the extreme catchiness to come in the record, but not in exactly the way that you’d expect from the band. Songs like “My Friend Kyle” and “The Talk” are more straightforward punk songs. “Nothing Feels Good Anymore” and “When You Died” are slower tunes that really focus on meaningful and powerful lyrics; the latter of which I feel is more important to this record than your average acoustic track. My first inclination was to hate this record. It contains few of the things I loved from “On The Impossible Past” and it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. In fact, it took a lot of listens and really looking deeper into this record for me to understand the truth behind it and see it for what it actually is. It’s still revealing new things to me every listen.
Seeing a new side to a band can either be scary or exciting (or both). Although fans might love a band’s current sound and never want them to change, there are always a handful of people who are anxious and excited to hear the new material. Since they burst into the top 40 pop scene in 2010 – where they hit all the late-night shows, including “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” three times – Neon Trees has had great success with their sound and risqué themes. If you’re a fan of their music, you can relax; their sound hasn’t changed much. If you’re not, think of the catchiest riffs you can and mash them all into one album, then add in some of the most addicting tunes you can fathom and that is Neon Trees in a nutshell. The formula for their music hasn’t changed since their 2010 hit “Animals.” This being said, the music is still very fun to listen to in moderation. The verse-chorus-verse repetitions might lead you elsewhere with extended exposure. While some songs might seem a little childish at first, a little research about lead vocalist Tyler Glenn and a second listen will only give a new perspective and respect for a few songs. The Mormon-raised singer came out as a gay man in March’s issue of Rolling Stone. While the album may have been very therapeutic for Glenn, incoming fans might get bored and returning fans are likely to adore “Pop Psychology.”
By Alisha Kirby
By Josh Jurss
By Steven Condemarin
nt reviews throughout the month!
Open Mike Eagle - “Dark Comedy” Hip hop is constantly diversifying itself as new sub-genres are still coming into their own every couple of years. Last year was the precursor to art rap becoming a legitimate genre instead of a scene down in L.A. This year is when we will see the sub-genre slowly start to take over the underground and make its sound known. It all starts with the release of Open Mike Eagle’s “Dark Comedy.” If one thing is certain about Eagle’s new album, it’s that the title describes the album very well. There are lines throughout that will cause actual laughs instead of the usual smirk that comes with clever quips; the funniest song being “Doug Stamper (Advice Raps).” It’s Eagle and comedian Hannibal Burress giving us the best advice possible.
As for being dark, be sure to check out the track “Idaho.” A soft, simple piano melody moves the song along as Eagle whispers his flow. As the track goes on, an electronic sound comes in and builds to create this feeling of malfunction. It gives the perfect backdrop to Eagle’s personal story and what sounds like confessions of fear. “Dark Comedy” is great. Eagle takes his world view and his own interests and melds them together into this medley of personal worries and observations of the world. This album plays like a comedian’s standup routine. It’s funny, a little dark and self-deprecating at times. Eagle is intelligent and a master of wordplay, and it’s about time he gets the recognition he deserves. By Daniel Romandia
Weatherbox - “Flies In All Directions” Few things are as frustrating to me as an inaccurate RIYL in a press release (I know, my life is so easy). If you claim your band sounds like a mix of Say Anything, The Front Bottoms and Modest Mouse, then dammit, I expect a mix of those three at least to a degree. For once in my adult life, I haven’t been utterly disappointed by a band with those bands listed. In fact, Weatherbox has blown me away with “Flies In All Directions” and has been one of the few albums this year to keep my attention for weeks at a time. After hearing that lead singer/ songwriter Brian Warren had spent the last few years grappling with psychosis and hallucinations I was intrigued, which is probably a little fucked up, but I was intrigued by his perspective. I wasn’t
disappointed. Lyrically, this album is complex at times, straightforward at others and always full of spectacular imagery. Yet all the songs are still so easy to sing along to, which is good because at times it’s impossible not to sing along (i.e. “Radio Hive” and “Pagan Baby”). The only track this album could do without is “The Drones,” which gets repetitive and annoying almost immediately after the first listen. Luckily, songs including “The Devil and Whom?” and “Bathin’ In The Fuss” more than make up for it and are easily some of the better songs here, though they couldn’t be more different from one another. Buy this album when it’s released May 13. By Alisha Kirby
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Band: Silver Spoons Venue: The Crocker Art Museum Sacramento, CA Photos by: Jesika Gatdula
Unplugged Magazine is overrun by giants! In this issue, Living With Giants talks about their unique sound; Of Us Giants talks about their hi...