Archive for November, 2013

Fight For Your Friends

Posted in AHP/Local Bands, Interviews on November 25, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

I had the pleasure of getting to talk to New Jersey’s acoustic powerhouse, Fight For Your Friends, the name George Brudermann has given himself. If you’re a Frank Turner fan then you’re in luck because FFYF has that very aggressive acoustic folk-punk sound and style that epitomizes Turner. However, FFYF has their own unique sound and an equally unique outlook on music, which you will read below. Please get involved.

https://www.facebook.com/fightforyourfriends

http://f4yf.bandcamp.com

 

Me:Have you always been a solo act or do you sometimes perform with a group?

FFYF: It started as just a solo gig but as of recently I have been practicing with a band and things have just meshed in the best way possible! It’s a really great blend of musicians coming together and I’m really excited to start playing shows with them.

Me: Where the name ‘Fight for your Friends’ come from?

FFYF: Fight For Your Friends that came from this moment of just pure, ridiculously irrelevant drama when I was in high school. Basically, an argument broke out amongst the members of my mediocre band we all are in when were in school and I tried to not get involved in it. In avoiding the conflict and not saying anything I made the situation worse and learned that sometimes fence-sitting gets you in even deeper. From that, I came up with this idea that you should always stick up for those who you care about and since that band broke up, Fight For Your Friends came to be… And the name would sound so cool if I ever started playing Pop Punk!

Me: Under the influence section on your facebook profile, you have mainly musicians but you also have author J.D. Salinger listed. I’m assuming he’s your favorite author…?

FFYF: Yeah, I am a huge Salinger Fan. I read “Catcher in the Rye” when I was younger and it had a huge influence on me. I just think Salinger is someone who wrote these amazing pieces of fiction but still puts so much of his own life into each story and creates a relatable experience. I kind of try to do that in my live show, bridge that gap between musician and fan, it’s why I don’t like using microphones or stages at small gigs. If I wasn’t playing I’d be standing right were they are, why stand above them? Also I hate heights… We were talking about Salinger, right?

Me: I like the idea of not utilizing a stage or microphone in small gigs, but what happens when you play larger venues where those items are necessary? How do you bridge that gap between performer and fan to make them one the same level?
FFYF: The couple times i’ve played bigger venues and had to use a mic, people still seemed into it and focused. You’re always going to have kids who come to the show to glare at the openers with their arms crossed until their band comes on, but I think the best way to get that undivided attention is to just be yourself. Cockyness is so transparent and when you act like yourself and not the ‘big shot’, you find you can really make that connection as human beings through music and not through the perimeters of some social hierarchy.

Me: You’ve branded yourself as “medio-core.” Can you explain a little as to what that means?

FFYF: “Medio-Core” came from a joke I made with my friend Nick from Forever Gold Clothing. We were hanging out and started talking about how pop punk bands make up their own vanity genres (i.e. Four Year Strong has Beard-Core, New Found Glory has Easy-Core), and I just came up with my own sort of cynical genre. I can be sickeningly pun-y.

Me: You seem to take a few jabs at Pop-punk as a genre. I take it you’re not much of a fan. How come?
FFYF: Oh no, don’t get me wrong I love pop punk! I wouldn’t be playing music without that genre, in fact I distinctly remember Mxpx’s Life In General being the first CD I ever bought. I mean I ripped off the Man Overboard ‘Defend’ logo for my merch (I have little pins that say ‘Defend Folk Punk’ with a little guitar in the middle). I’m only taking jabs at pop punk because i’ve been in that scene before and you sort of give ribbings to the things you love. However, today there seems to be a lot of bands popping up using a recycled template on “How to be Pop Punk”. I think The Swellers put it best when they posted on Intsagram recently, “Dear Pop Punk, I like pizza because it is good. Friends aren’t your family. Your town isn’t that bad.”

Me: You recently released you EP “F4YF.” How has the response been form some of your fans?

FFYF: Yeah! Fans who have reached out to me have said nothing but rad things! It’s great to hear such positive feedback from something with such a short run-time of just 3 songs. One person said I sounded like an ‘American Frank Turner’ and I was like “Well, time to stop making music, I’ll never get something that nice said about me again!”

Me: Any tours booked?

FFYF: Actually right now I’m trying to get something together for the Spring with some weekend tours tossed in in the mean time. It’s tough scheduling big tours when I’m finishing out my senior year at college, but I’d say expect local dates and weekend tours around New England and the Northeast and late March I might be heading out around the Midwest for a few shows.

Me: What would you say is the message behind your music?

FFYF: I think, all in all, I never write with a meaning in mind, I just sort of write what I’m feeling and if that connects with someone who’s feeling those same emotions or ideas, I’m beyond thrilled. Music can be this communal experience and I think, if anything, I write so maybe someone will hear a song of mine and think “Hey, I can totally get that”. Maybe I’m writing for my own validation, I don’t know, haha.

Me: Are you by chance a Frank Turner fan?
FFYF: Frank Turner is BY FAR one of the hardest working musicians in punk music today. I mean the man just broke 1500 shows! His work ethic is unprecedented and his records are amazing! Sorry, I just fan girl’d so hard, yes i’m a big fan of Frank Turner. I’m seeing him in Philadelphia the day after Thanksgiving.
Luke Helker
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Couch

Posted in AHP/Local Bands, Interviews on November 25, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

I had the pleasure of being able to talk to Mark, the drummer for UK’s own punk-rock upstarts, Couch. This is a band that know exactly where they’re going and their hard work is paying off. I think these guys are the best punk group to come out of the UK since Lower Than Atlantis. Their new album Johnny West is Missing is about to be distributed throughout Japan and have a spring tour lined up so get involved while they’re still hot. Below are links to their Facebook and sound cloud accounts.

www.couch.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/Band.Couch

Me: How did you guys come together?

Mark: We formed in February 2012. We had all been in previous local bands, and were already friends, and hung out a lot, so when our old bands ended, we all decided to jam together, and write some songs! Because we had been in bands with each other before, it kinda clicked really quickly, and we ended up writing our first album within the a couple of months of being a band! It all moved really fast, and we were getting tons of gig offers and recording our debut album, in next to no time, which was super fun! I think we had only been a band for 2 weeks when we had our first show! We only play 3 or 4 songs, because we had only practiced twice as a full band, but we went down pretty well! We only played the show because another band dropped out on the day of the gig, so we had like, no time to prepare! it was pretty good fun though and it encouraged us to get started recording our demo!

Me: Where does the name Couch come from?

Mark: It’s actually named after one of our songs! We didn’t have a band name, and one of our songs was called Couch, and I think Andy (Our Guitarist/Singer) suggested naming the band Couch after the song! No one else had any names in mind, so we went with it, and it stuck with us. We were originally going to be called No Problemo. But that name kinda blows, so we didn’t go with it!

Me: You mentioned before the interview that you are at a university. Which University and what are you studying?

Mark: I sure am! I am at Bucks New Uni, studying Music management and studio production. It’s really interesting and helpful, but it means that I’m 3 hours away from the band most of the time! It’s okay though, I still come back some weekends to play shows and stuff, so it works out.

Me: Hows the program at Bucks New Uni? Are you studying drums there as well of just music production? How much of the knowledge you’ve gained from Buck New Uni have you been able to apply to Couch?

Mark: It’s really good! I’m only doing music production, and learning about the industry. Haven’t had a chance to play any drums yet which sucks! What I’ve learnt so far from uni has helped us understand what to do with licensing our music to Hitting Bottom Records for our Japanese Release of the album! Before Uni I didn’t really know much about how record labels work and such, so it’s been really helpful with that. I believe the album will be out in early December in Japan through Hitting Bottom Records! To have our music out through a record label in Japan is nuts! When we found out that they wanted to release the album we were all super stoked! It’s probably the coolest thing ever to happen to the band, and we are really excited to see what happens when it is released!

Me: What message are you trying to convey with your music?

Mark: I suppose there isn’t a definite message, other than to have a good time! We are all pretty laid back guys, and I like to think that comes across in our songs. We just want to hang out with our friends and make music, and hope everyone likes it as much as we do!

Me: What is the state of pop-punk in the UK?

Mark: It’s pretty decent actually! From our own experience I can say that there are loads of really awesome people out there who are doing great things for the scene. Our local scene in Norwich has some really cool hard working bands, and, last summer we actually put of an all day music festival, and managed to raise £500 for charity. A lot of the bands in the scene turned up with all their friends, and we had a big old party! Seeing everyone in the scene come together like that was beyond awesome, and I know of similar things happening all over the UK, which is really exciting!

Me: I understand that your guitarist is currently training for the army. Does that mean his days numbered in Couch?

Mark: Not at all, we Love Andy too much to let him go! He has to go away quite a lot for training, and we miss him when he is gone, but by the looks of things, he is here to stay.

Me: Any tours on the way? 

Mark: Yep! We are actually working with a friend who books shows to help us get a UK tour sorted for easter 2014. Pretty exciting stuff. We booked our own mini tour earlier this year, and we had the best time ever, so doing it again, for longer is something that we’re all really pumped for!

Me: How can the angry youth of America get involved with your band?

Mark: Anyway they like! We have our new album out now, which is available online for download and on CD, so if anyone checks it out and likes it, spread the word! We can normally sort out some free stuff for people who really dig the band, so if they get in touch and we’ll try sort something! We’re also working on getting our album available in America with some independent distributors, so if anyone could help with that, we would love you forever and ever! But I think if you listen to our music and enjoy it, that’s all we can ask!

Luke Helker

Apocalyptica: Wagner Reloaded

Posted in Album Reviews on November 20, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

Finnish cello quartet, Apocalyptica, have joined forces with the MDR symphony orchestra of Leipzig in celebration of Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday this year. The album was taken from two live performances, both of which took place in Leipzig, featuring reinterpreted arrangements of Wagner’s work and some Wagner inspired pieces. The idea was to create a musical and theatrical project and all of the members of Apocalyptica performed on stage with the orchestra.

In a world where the symphonies and operas are quickly becoming scarce, it’s wonderful to see bands not only acknowledge some of these composers that have had an obvious influence on their musical career, but also make a big spectacle out of it to try to grab more attention. We need more bands to raise their hands and say, ‘yeah, I’m very influenced by Tchaikovsky and am now working to recreate a heavy metal rendition of Swan Lake’ or something along those lines (that would actually be pretty cool now that I think of it).

There are many points in a band’s career where they reach a level that their fan base becomes both large in numbers and very loyal. To be able to use your influence on a certain number of individuals that listen to your music, but may not be well-versed in the music of, say, Wagner, and  let them know of this vast pool of repertoire beyond the top 40 radio hits can be really effective. I believe if more bands try to pull off albums like this, then it might bring about a resurgence of this kind of music into the mainstream.

Now beyond the idea, which I think is great, I think the music on this album is also amazing. Eicca Toppinen did all of the arrangements and composed the music for Apocalyptica and Sven Helbig did the arrangements for the MDR orchestra. Most of it is very heavy and powerful, which is an obvious hallmark of Wagner’s music. Wagner is also widely considered to be one of the few classical composers to help shape heavy music and in part, shape heavy metal music (another reason why something like this album is both unique and awesome). There are some other beautiful and lyrical moments that help keep the listener captivated from start to finish. It all flows very well and by the end you feel a more spiritual connection to the music and to a man you never met.

I also greatly appreciate that this wasn’t a studio production either because it keeps it in the same medium as the symphonies of the day would do. Orchestras don’t go into the studio to cut records; they performed live and that was it. It got pressed to vinyl and you were free to take it home and listen to it. So now I’m strongly recommending that you not only listen to this, but also get acquainted with Wagner’s work especially if you’re heavy metal fan. Wagner’s one of my favorite composers, not just because he’s really heavy, but his operas are really exceptional. It’s important to be educated in the music that has shaped and inspired the music you hear today, so please educate yourself with this fine music.

Luke Helker

Event Horizon

Posted in AHP/Local Bands on November 10, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been reviewing some new up and coming artists so I hope I do this band justice. Their music speaks for itself though and I suggest you check them out regardless.

Event Horizon are a rock group hailing from New York and on a mission to unleash the ocean swelling from within you. They offer a fresh take on what to me sounds like slightly progressive, heavy classic 70s-80s rock and roll. Their singer also has this neat vibrato style to his already fairly high voice that reminds me of something along the lines of Circa Survive vocals.

The band just recently released an EP entitled Episode and contains four absolutely killer tracks. It opens up with “Rift” which to me is the best song of theirs. It rocks the most and to me, has the best message. The second track is called “Open and Emerge” and has a slightly ethereal, atmosphere sound with some ambient vocals intertwined throughout. Next is “Fluorescence,” a pop rock anthem and finally closes with “New Earth Army,” which is easily their heaviest song and has the one of the coolest bass lines and bass tones I’ve heard in a long time. It almost reminds me of bits of Tool, but then channels some Circa Survive again.

There’s a lot of good sounds coming from this band and I hear they are planning on entering the studio soon to record a full length release. I’ll be interested to hear the final tracks from that session and see how the band come into their own through the whole experience of recording. Although, the recording process is not foreign to this band. In addition to the aforementioned EP, the group also released a six-song EP titled Harbinger back in 2011, which is also worth checking out.

Really strong moments from a band still developing and honing in on their sound. I can’t wait to see this band mature into an unstoppable force. Check their music out at there band camp HERE.

Luke Helker

Survive This!: The Life That You’ve Chosen

Posted in Album Reviews on November 6, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

This is a new post-hardcore group with no shortage of electronic influences currently sign dot Epitaph records. Hailing from Las Vegas, Survive This! on a mission to maintain their musical integrity with their own brand of pop-punk and electronic metal. There’s a lot of strong points within this debut album and a lot of things to enjoy. However, I can’t help but speculate the longevity of a band like this.

The album starts off strong with the title track, which has a huge pop punk chorus, but immediately breaks down into galloping verse surrounded by aggressive metal vocals, but again, returns to that opening chorus throughout the song with plenty of breakdowns in between.  Songs like “Where we Belong” open up with really upbeat synth leads, and then sound like a classic Blink-182 song with some metal vocals. I think it’s a pretty fresh interpretation of some music that’s already existed for quite some time, but still enjoyable.

To me, this band sounds like the lighter, pop-punk end of A Day to Remember, mixed with some of the hallmarks of classic 90s pop-punk group like Blink-182 or Fountains of Wayne. I think the real issue for a band like this is trying to appeal to the more thrashy end of the metal-fan spectrum. They’re really taking risks by delving into enemy territory and sounding very similar to One Direction at times. Most of the metal crowd probably won’t dig this band, and to be honest I don’t think the band care about that. I think they’re going to generate a buzz over course of  year, maybe play at this year’s Warped Tour and see if they have the ability to expand their sound and keep things fresh in the studio.

I really like this album, despite the fact that this particular type of music is starting to become a little less appealing to me. However, this band seem to be creating a fresh new look for this type of music without reinventing the wheel. They write some pretty good songs with a lot of catchy hooks and equally catchy choruses. I’ll be interested to see the progression of this band given the most likely imminent success of this debut album.

Luke Helker

Cage the Elephant: Melophobia

Posted in Album Reviews on November 6, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

Kentucky’s own Cage the Elephant have recently released their third studio record Melophobia through RCA records. Cage the Elephant have been making a meteoric rise ever since their self-titled debut in 2008 and each album that has followed has both been widely praised and further expanded the band as being alternative rock powerhouses.

For an album title meaning “fear of music,” Cage the Elephant clearly did not take a literal interpretation to the term. In fact, it seems as though they took it to mean “fear of sounding like a sum of their influences” and really tried to crate a gap between them and their contemporaries., further dispelling any comparisons that may be made towards this band and any other group. The songwriting in this band has leapt tremendously and I think this is mainly due to their frontman Matthew Shultz, really coming into his own as a writer and lyricist. This is clearly his best record, including some of his greatest songs to date such as “Come a Little Closer” and “Telescope.” Both are songs taken straight out of his experiences while being on and off the road and if you listen closely, he really opens up to the listener in terms of how he felt at the time of writing the song.

Instrumentally, I think the band are also on top form. There are some amazing guitar hooks on this album and everything is devilishly catchy. They also really experiment with different sounds and instruments including the use of trumpets, trombones, and saxophones on a number of tracks. They also manage to expand their palette of sounds by creating  rawer, almost punk image on a majority of this record. I feel as though they’ve always had this element to their music, but never quite embellished the way it has been on this record.

With Melophobia, the band have proven that no matter how ambitious the project. they will do what’s necessary to produce an awesome-sounding record on their own terms and the result as you can plainly hear is a stunningly brilliant album. Certainly worth checking out and will most like be chart topper in this years top 20.

Luke Helker

Skeletonwitch: Serpents Unleashed

Posted in Album Reviews on November 4, 2013 by lukesreviews1014

One of the most consistent thrash metal bands around have once again flexed proven themselves worthy with their latest release Serpents Unleashed. These blackened-thrash titans have released another album amazingly brutal and blindly fast record that grabs you by the balls from the moment its starts and doesn’t let go until the very end.

What I love most about Skeletonwitch is their versatility. You have Nate Garnette and Scott Hedrick on guitar and have the ability to shred their own arms off, but also play with a lot of subtlety and can generate a gloomy atmosphere with their playing. You have Chance Garnette who kills it on every record both lyrically and vocally and the rhythm section for this band is also incredibly tight and consistent through and through with plenty of groove and certainly no shortage of blast-beats to keep the listeners entertained as they gallop across the plains of hell and back.

One thing I also really appreciate about this band is their desire to change production on every record. Instead of sticking with one solid producer and riding that wave until it’s time to change, they are constantly adapting to new producers as the times change and their music can sometimes be a reflection of that. The production has obviously been extreme and intense on every record and Serpents Unleashed may very well be their most extreme record to date. I think that is mainly because they worked with Kurt Ballou on this record and he is famous for working with Converge, one of the most intense hardcore acts you’ll ever find.

Filled to the brim with amazing songs that are both short, but jam-packed, every thrash metal fan will absolutely love this record.

Luke Helker