Review: Thrice – Vheissu

Thrice - Vheissu

Have you ever finished watching a particularly moving film or completed a strikingly emotional book, only to sit in your plush-leather seat — dumbfounded? There is that split second of realization that nothing you ever accomplish in your life will come close to the intellectual and emotional genius you just experienced. I have had such a feeling on only a few rare occasions; however, after each listen of Thrice’s Vheissu, this numbness pummels the skin around my chest.

It is perfect.

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Interview: Mike Green

Mike Green

Thanks to Mike Green for taking the time out of his day(s) to answer these questions for me. I highly suggest reading all of the text below because it’s extremely informing, especially to those who are interested in pursuing careers in the music business. 

How long did it take you to build up your name to the point where you were able to make production your full time job? In other words, when did you realize, “This is my career and this is what I will be doing to pay my bills and survive”?

I always loved recording and have played guitar for 13 years, but never really had any formal training. My formal education was in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) class of 2002. I was designing computer chips for a living when I went to a show and saw a then-unsigned band called The Matches play. I loved the band the first time I saw them and told them that I would record them for $100.00. So we ended up working together for nine months for $100.00!! And those sessions are the ones that are on the Epitaph release of their album!

I was very fortunate that The Matches album on which I worked received a lot of recognition. I’m also very appreciative of The Matches because they also took me to a lot of their A&R meetings where I made some of my best contacts. I had so much fun working on the Matches record that I decided to tell my dork boss to “shove it” and I decided to be a producer/engineer/songwriter full-time. It’s like this: if you have no wife, no kids, no mortgage, and no responsibilities, why not do something you love for the rest of your life?

In response to “how long did it take to make a name”, my first real album came out mid 2004 (The Matches), but I’m too shy to say whether or not I’ve “made a name” for myself, so once I’ve made a good enough name you’ll do the math.

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Review: Cartel – Chroma

Cartel - Chroma

Ever since this debut full-length was first played in my car stereo on the drive home from The Militia Group’s home office, I’ve had one goal in mind: review this before Rohan does.

Okay, I’m only half kidding.

I’m reviewing this CD for one reason: I believe in this band. I think my faith in Cartel is evidenced through my desire, and utmost excitement, to ‘leak’ the band’s album on this very website. I’d never do such a huge promotion with a band I wasn’t 100% behind. There’s a variety of aspects to the band’s music that touch me in a way few bands are able. I hope to convey these feelings as best I can through the following words; however, there are things that you will only discover through sitting down for a good hour with this album, alone, in your room, and with the volume turned up very loudly. My conviction and sharp pose on this band are apparent from any visitor’s every day visit to this website, and this is exactly the review you expected me to write.

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Interview: Kaylan Cloyd of Acceptance

Acceptance

So Phantoms came out a few months ago.

About five months ago. Well, April 26th.

Ok, yeah, that’s five months. So how has life been since then? How has life changed?

How has it changed? I don’t know necessarily that it’s changed. For us, I think, we’ve all been anticipating finally having a full length record out and having it, since we had the EP out and we toured on it for so long. That was like a collection of songs, I mean, some of those were really, really old songs, even at that time we recorded them. For us, the change is just being able to get out there and play stuff that we feel, that we wrote together as a band. With that record, everybody in the band now was there when we made it. Our other songs before, people came into the band after the fact and stuff. We’re just excited that we get to play something that we created. As far as life, I’m not sure how much life has changed. We’re still living in the RV, living in here and on tour all the time. It’s kind of similar, we just get to play different songs now.

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Interview: Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin

Andrew McMahon

So, you are in a few bands (Something Corporate/Jack’s Mannequin). How did you first start getting involved in music?

Since I was little I was always fascinated by music. Whether I could play or not, I would grab every musical instrument I could get my hands on. Eventually around the age of nine on the heels of my uncle passing away, I found myself at the family piano, writing my first song. From there I never stopped and spend most of my time thinking about music and those rare perfect songs.

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Interview: Acceptance

Acceptance

Is there any significance behind the name Acceptance?

We are suppose to have a better story. But we actually played our first show without a name. And then someone just said acceptance and it stuck. We tried to change it but its hard to get all of us to agree on one thing, so we decided it wasn’t a big deal even though there was a lot of cliché band names coming out. 

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Review: The Starting Line – Based on a True Story

The Starting Line - Based on a True Story

Okay, so let’s start with what we know:

  1. I’m a huge pop-punk kid. It’s the musical style I started listening to back in the day with MxPx and Blink-182. As much as musical purists will complain and moan, it’s the truth, and it’s my roots.
  2. I have been a pretty big fan of The Starting Line from their We the People Sessions back a few years now; however, everyone knows I was let down by their first full-length (Say It Like You Mean It) because I loathed some of the production by Mark Trombino.

I know, I know, so many people disagree with me on that one – but this is my vindication. The Starting Line return May 10th with their new full-length, Based on a True Story, produced by Tim O’Heir – and after hearing this album, it makes me bitter to think how the band’s last album may have sounded without Trombino on the dials. Yet, it makes me incredibly happy to finally have a CD that maximizes everything I’ve wanted this band to be for the past 4 years.

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Review: Days Away – Mapping an Invisible World

Days Away - Mapping an Invisible World

This album was a long time coming.

It has been a long hard struggle to get this album out into the hands of the fans. This is despite it being produced beautifully by Neal Avron (Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy, Everclear), despite the band being fronted by one of the most vocally talented front men in the music scene, and despite the album being one of the best I’ve heard all year (if not the past few years). Apparently the problem with greatness is that no one appreciates it in it’s time.

Combining the pop-sensibility of Coldplay with the oldies jam sound of Simon and Garfunkle, Days Away have come into a sound with the potential to last through the ages. This album, in my opinion, should be a staple in everyone’s collection. Despite what genre you find yourself leaning towards – this is one of those bands you can appreciate for the pure talent and beauty in their music. Do not be afraid to try something a little different, and outside of your comfort zone – because the journey you will take in Mapping and Invisible World is a trip unlike you have experienced before.

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Review: Copeland – In Motion

Copeland - In Motion

Growing up in the suburbs of Oregon I spent most of my youth outside entertaining my hyperactive mind with all sorts of daily activities. I remember spending countless hours running through grass fields and spinning around in circles staring straight up towards all the spiral-pouring raindrops. Copeland’s new full-length album, In Motion, brings to head all of these nostalgic thoughts as their sonic wave invades my speakers. (Cheesy lines are all I have sometimes ..)

Being a huge fan of the band’s last album and their cover’s EP: there was more than a little anticipation running through my blood. Remarkably, I was not let down by the perfect combination of their full-length’s slower melodic styled songs and their EP’s slightly edgier rock-pop songs. It seems that only a few weeks ago all of us on the website were debating which bands have what it takes to take on a sort of “iconic” status later in our lives, years from now when all of us are old and grey. The irony is how quickly we may have just been answered …

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Review: The Academy Is … – Almost Here

The Academy Is… - Almost Here

Everyone knows that I have been a huge Bill Beckett (lead singer / ex-Remember Maine) fan for years. We also all know that I am a sucker for clever lyrics, fast-paced beats, and catchy choruses, right? So, is it that hard to assume that I am going to be in love with the amalgam of the two? You are going to get exactly that — pure-unadulterated-love.

I will start out my forthcoming review by saying: if you are only judging this band by their first EP, throw out your preconceptions and don’t assume you know a fucking thing about this band. The album is an intelligent mix of pop, folk, and rock – all mixed together with the soothing vocals and lyrical styling of one of the most talented front-men in the scene. The hype has been bleeding from this band since the moment they were conceived (yah, I know I didn’t help much with that one), and I was always afraid that when the band finally released an album they would never be able to live up to the expectations of others (and of those I put upon them). After pushing play for the first time on this disc, I knew that I had underestimated the band from the get go – they were not only deserving of all the hype – they proceeded to construct an album that is a huge middle finger to all the critics. They took the stereotypes that their first EP had brought from critics, turned them on their head, and created an album full of uniqueness and originality that can only be seen as a testament to commitment.

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Review: Butch Walker – Letters

Butch Walker - Letters

When does music stop being just notes and chords and transcend into the physical world as a material life form? It takes unimaginable skill to breathe such life into songs that they take on a living function of their own. Say what you will, but not all music is created to be impossible to decipher: not all guitar parts are written to be the hardest riffs to emulate, not all lyrics are written to conceal hidden agendas and meanings, and not all songs are fashioned to be so enigmatic that they require Harvard level IQs in order to be understood. At what point did this become the level for which we judged music? Where in the evolution of song did we forget about emotion and start judging based upon song titles? Who became king and declared that if the song doesn’t involve an obscure nihilist reference that it is not worthy of our ears? Where is the document that states the rules of music? Because, if inside your head you have such a document by which you judge music: fucking burn it. The first song I ever learned to play on the guitar due to its insane simplicity was “Yesterday” by The Beatles. It is still, in my opinion, one of the greatest songs of all time. Pop music caught a bad wind when “performers” took front stage and “artists” fell to the back. And pop music began a downward ascension amongst some listeners when those who sang the songs were not those who wrote them, when dance numbers became more intricate than the content, and finally, when an image was created and sold before the music.

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Review: Say Anything – … is a Real Boy

Say Anything - ... is a Real Boy

There is a subtle irony that those humble artists and songwriters who would consider themselves of average intellectual “musical” capacity are usually those who provide the most genius and musical evolutionary leaps in their work. Those forefathers (names such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon and Paul McCartney come to mind), were able to capture an attitude and honesty of a generation and its environmental surroundings, and bottle this into a musical vessel that will transcend the tests of time. Please return your seat backs and tray tables to their full and upright positions – a similar musical actualization may have just taken place right in front of our very eyes. The hyperbole found herein is in no way supposed to be taken as an act of “hype,” but instead should be construed as my emotions and thoughts as best as I can seem to construct them into words.

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Review: Midtown – Forget What You Know

Midtown - Forget What You Know

In a music industry riddled with lineup changes, hit singles, record label grudges, and more bullshit than probably anyone is truly aware of — Midtown are still the same four guys that brought forth their debut album from what seems like so many years ago. A few years have now passed, and the trials and tribulations this band has endured goes above and beyond what any of you will ever know. Yes this band has remained, and they have pushed through the pressure that was thrown on them by the media, managers, labels, and critics alike – and yet, they stayed true and together as a band, and as friends. When they were dropped by a drowning record label (MCA Records) almost 2 years ago, it should have been the lowest point in the band’s career. They should have given up. Everyone surely expected them to. Many stood back and quietly smirked at the band’s misfortune and it was in this desperate time that the band proved to everyone just exactly where their hearts were. They didn’t see what had happened to them as a failure, or as a set back … they saw it as a blessing and as a calling to re-evaluate their music, and their lives.

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