2017 Holiday Gift Guide

I can’t believe it’s already December, but here we are. Like last year, I wanted to steal an idea I’ve seen on other websites and put together a few gift ideas that I think are worthy of your time. I have also updated my recommendations posts for movies, tv shows, books, software, podcasts, headphones, and miscellaneous stuff around the house, so the things on this list will be more focused on stuff not included in those posts and more geared toward things I’ve come across in the past year or so and think would make good gifts. As always, I only recommend things I’ve personally used and loved.

I used my Amazon affiliate link when the product showed up there, which gives our website a slight percentage back if you make a purchase, and therefore helps fund our continued existence. I hope you’ll find something cool, and feel free to drop your own recommendations in the comments.

If you’d like to get me a gift, becoming a supporting member or gifting another user a supporting membership for a year would mean the world to me.

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Interview: Waterparks (Video Interview)

Waterparks

Waterparks are on the verge of something big. After spending the last year and a half climbing the ranks of the pop-punk scene with their debut Double Dare, the band is slated to release their follow-up, Entertainment, on January 26th via Equal Vision Records.

I recently sat down with the band’s lead singer, Awsten Knight, and he is careful and thoughtful in his responses to questions about his band’s sophomore effort. If you watch carefully, you can see that Knight doesn’t want to reveal too much too soon. Viewers can see his excitement bubbling just beneath the surface. He reveals that the band is trying new things; spicing things up with synthesizers and taking a step beyond their previous work.

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Bridging the Forum and the Website’s Supporter Systems

Today I’m excited to announce I’ve completed the work on bridging our community and the main website’s supporter systems. Now, if you’re a supporting member of the forum community you can use your username and password to login on the content side of the website to view supporter only content (like my first impressions), manage your payment options, turn off advertisements site-wide, and soon gain access a special Dark Mode for the main website that matches perfectly with the Dark Mode of the forums.

And don’t forget: you don’t have to be a community member to be a supporter of the website! You can join right now for only $3 a month and help support this website and independent publishing. It’s because of readers like you that I can keep running this website. I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for your support over the past two years.

It’s funny how a project like this, which doesn’t end up having many outward facing changes, can be a massive undertaking behind the scenes. But now that it’s done, the foundation is better set for a bunch of cool things we can do in the future and the system is much more robust for handling payments and login credentials for our growing community.

If you are already a supporter, you don’t have to make any changes if you don’t want to, everything will just keep working as it has been. If you’d like to move away from PayPal and to the new credit card based system, you can do that here. Again, it’s totally optional to make that change if you want.

If anyone has any questions at all, feel free to drop me an email or message me in the forums.

You Vandal – ‘I Just Want to Go Back to Hell’ (Album Premiere)

You Vandal

Today we’ve got the premiere of You Vandal’s new album, I Just Want to Go Back to Hell, for your listening pleasure. The album is due out tomorrow, November 17th, but you can stream it right now below. If you like what you hear, pick it up over at Jump Start Records.

The album gives me a nice little power-pop/punk throwback sound, not unlike early The Ataris or New Found Glory. Catchy and breezy.

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Fall Albums: Part Deux (Encore Episode 155)

Encore 155

On this week’s episode of Encore I am joined by special guest Ryan Gardner to talk about one of my favorite times of year and the music that comes along with it. We talk about why we like fall music, what makes something, specifically, a “fall album,” and then we dive into some of our favorite albums and songs that we think fit into this category. I’ve also put a playlist together (Apple Music and Spotify) that includes some of our favorite fall songs from the albums we talk about in the episode.

I’d love to hear other albums people associate with this time of the year, so hit me up on Twitter or in the forum and let me know what kind of music you break out when the leaves begin to change.

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How Tom Petty Taught the World to Fly

Tom Petty

Tom Petty is the sound of summertime. “American Girl.” “Learning to Fly.” “Wildflowers.” “Free Fallin’.” Losing him is like losing summer, forever.

That was one of the first thoughts I tweeted out yesterday afternoon, following the deluge of bad news about Petty. It was already a hard day. Between waking up to news of the Las Vegas tragedy and spending the entire day thinking about my grandfather, who passed away on October 2, 2014, it was a lot to handle. Losing Petty out of nowhere, less than two weeks after he wrapped another summer-conquering tour, felt like the devil playing a trick. When news broke that Petty was not in fact dead and was “clinging to life,” I dared to hope that he might pull through—even as the sounds of Southern Accents and Into the Great Wide Open filled my living room.

Alas, those hopes were for naught. Last night, at 8:40 PST, Tom Petty passed on, surrounded by his family, friends, and bandmates.

You’d think that after 2016, we’d be used to losing legendary rock stars. After a year that took Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and a slew of others, we’d be a little more prepared to say goodbye to our heroes. That’s not the case. Losing Petty hurts especially for me, not just because I adored his art, but also because without him, so much of the music I love wouldn’t exist.

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Accidental Music Podcast (Encore Episode 154)

On this week’s episode of Encore I am joined by special guest Deanna Chapman. Deanna returns to the show to discuss music and technology. We talk about Brand New’s High & Low set (which Deanna saw in person), new albums from Mutemath, Foo Fighters, The National, PVRIS, and more, and then go deep on the latest Apple event. We talk about the new products, Apple Music, iOS 11, and what we think we want to upgrade and not upgrade.

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Interview: Noah Gundersen’s Restless Heart

Noah Gundersen

In 2014, Noah Gundersen released his first full-length album. The record in question, Ledges, was a masterclass in contemporary folk music, loaded with confessional lyrics, acoustic guitars, and fiddles. By all accounts, Gundersen seemed like a traditionalist.

In 2015, Gundersen quickly followed Ledges up with his sophomore LP, the spiritually fraught Carry the Ghost. It was still a folk album, but Noah was fleshing things out, adding fractious electric guitar and other elements of full band instrumentation into the mix. It was clearly the work of a young songwriter who was yearning to grow.

Between the fall of 2015 and the early winter of 2016, Gundersen did two tours in support of Carry the Ghost. The first was a full-band endeavor, presenting the songs on Ghost as they were meant to be heard. The second was a solo tour, where Gundersen played songs from both Ledges and Carry the Ghost on acoustic guitar, solo electric guitar, and piano. It was a stark, intimate presentation, and it showed off what made Gundersen so special: his vulnerable, fragile voice; his songs that could work well no matter how much he built them up or stripped them down; and his honest, forthright lyrics.

But something was wrong. Gundersen was having a crisis of faith—not the same crisis of religious faith he wrote about on Carry the Ghost, but a crisis of faith in his own art. When I saw Gundersen on the solo tour for Ghost, he was pointedly reserved. He bantered with the audience occasionally, but during the songs, his eyes were cast toward the floor or closed entirely. And at the end of the show, when a condescending moderator led a Q&A session and suggested that Gundersen was “so young” and “couldn’t have possibly experienced what he sang about in his songs,” Noah seemed at a loss for how to answer—at least politely. When the Q&A ended, Gundersen headed quickly for the stage door.

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Interview: Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

Brian Sella is a notoriously sweet guy. So sweet, in fact, that he doesn’t even correct me when I refer to his band’s new single as “Raindrops” rather than its correct title, “Raining.” When I ask him if he still gets nervous playing shows, he replies, “Oh, totally!” When I inform him that I’ve been doing interviews for three years now, but that I was still nervous to speak with him, he laughs.

“Oh, don’t worry about it! You’re a professional. That’s what you’ve gotta tell yourself.”

In the context of The Front Bottoms’ discography, Going Grey reflects Sella’s current “vibe,” a word he uses frequently in our conversation. As he’ll tell me, the band learned that an “anything goes” attitude in the studio can result in plenty of band and fan favorites. In this way, Going Grey is an expansion of the polished-yet-experimental sound of their 2015 powerhouse, Back on Top. It continues to analyze topics such as mortality, relationships and getting older – oftentimes within the same three-minute pop song.

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Interview: Anthony Raneri of Bayside (Video Interview)

Bayside

Bayside have been going strong since 2004, but it was the band’s 2007 release, The Walking Wounded, that solidified their place in the alt-rock scene. The New York-based band decided to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the album with a small club tour. I sat down for a video interview with lead singer, Anthony Raneri, prior to the first night’s show at the Ottobar in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Science Fiction – Part Two (Encore Episode 153)

Encore 153

On this week’s episode of Encore I am once again joined by special guest Thomas Nassiff. Thomas returns to the show to discuss the album we spent most of our time recording this show waiting on … Brand New’s Science Fiction. This episode of the show differs from the previous episode in that we we spend most of the time talking about the album roll-out and the industry ramifications of this new album. We talk about the band going #1 on the charts, how this specific roll-out was the only way they could live up to expectations, and the chance of there ever being a band like this again.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself that this actually happened.

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