Yesterday, alt-rockers Sleeping With Sirens released a beautiful Christmas single, titled “Christmas On the Road”, seemingly about the struggles of being away from family during the holidays. The track is very simplistic, and, sonically, sounds like a typical acoustic song. The only holiday association is the mention of Christmas. However, I believe this simplicity is what makes the track work so well. Too often, holiday songs try too hard to be festive and end up sounding cheesy and campy. Instead, the Sirens ofter an emotional track that evokes positive holiday feelings but is also subtle enough to keep your local Grinch from complaining about having to hear the same thing over and over.
Tuesday, former Automatic Loveletter vocalist and The Voice alum Juliet Simms released the music video for her song “Say Hello” from her 2016 EP From the Grave. The clip, which was directed by Joshua Schultz shows Simms dancing around an apartment singing along to her song. Though the video is somewhat simplistic, it is also relatable in that most of us like to dance to our favorite songs when we’re home alone. The video is also well edited, so much so that it looks like it could be part of a clothing commercial. The song itself is a fun pop-rock tune that sounds perfect for a party with friends, or channeling your inner Juliet and dancing around your room.
Perhaps the best part of the video comes at the very end, when Simms’ husband, Andy Biersack of rock band Black Veil Brides, walks in on her dancing around and asks what she’s doing, then proceeds to take a picture of her laying on the floor surrounded by clothes. It was an amusing addition, and shows how adorable they are as a couple.
On Wednesday, November 8, I had the pleasure of seeing Nothing More live at the Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City, OK. This was my fourth time seeing the band, and their performance was even better than it was the first time I saw them back in 2014. This concert was the third-to-last stop on the first leg of their “Stories We Tell Ourselves” tour in support of their new album of the same name. They were joined by fellow rock groups Hell or Highwater, Palisades, and My Ticket Home.
The first band to perform was Hell or Highwater, a blues-influenced rock group based out of Vista, California. They are fronted by Brandon Saller of Atreyu fame. I had listened to a few of their songs on Spotify in anticipation of this concert but I hadn’t been particularly impressed. However, the energy that they brought to their live performance won me over, and I am excited to hear more from them. Their brief, 25 minute performance was energetic, and they were very involved with the crowd, with Saller singing in the middle of the crowd during a couple of songs and high-fiving audience members (myself included).
The next band to perform was New Jersey-based group Palisades. I was already a fan of theirs, and they were the opener I was most looking forward to. Their set was also highly energetic as they performed songs from their self-titled album released earlier this year. Highlights included a dedication of their song “Dark” to late Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, and set closer “Let Down”, one of my personal favorite songs. I even had the pleasure of meeting three of their members at the merch table, two at the beginning of the night when I was purchasing their CD, and vocalist Lou Miceli Jr. after their performance.
The last of the opening bands was My Ticket Home, from Columbus, Ohio. I honestly don’t have much to say about their performance other than that, in my opinion, they are one of the worst bands I have EVER seen live. (Which is saying a lot considering I’ve been to fifteen concerts in my lifetime…) Then again, they’ve coined their sound as “puke rock” so what would one expect?
Finally, around 9:45, Nothing More took the stage. As previously stated, their performance was perhaps the best I’ve ever seen from them. The set began with fan-favorite “Christ Copyright” from their 2014 self-titled record. Their set was a good mix of songs from their new album, such as “Let ‘Em Burn”, “Ripping Me Apart”, acoustic song “Just Say When”, and lead single “Go To War” as well as past favorites such as “This is the Time (Ballast)” “Jenny” and “I’ll Be OK”. They have also become known for their unique instrumental solos, including a bass rig, and their new “Scorpion Tail” contraption. Honestly, I can’t convey the wonder of a Nothing More live set purely through words; you have to see them for yourself. They closed their set with “Salem (Burn the Witch)” from their 2009 record “The Few Not Fleeting”.
The only negative experiences I had were venue related. I have contacted the venue multiple times and been told that e-cigarettes are not allowed inside, yet I saw AT LEAST fifteen people vaping. As a concertgoer with asthma, this was incredibly distracting, and is an issue that has plagued my concert experiences for the past three years. Despite this, however, the show itself was still phenomenal.
Last Sunday, October 29th, the University of Oklahoma hosted its annual Day of the Dead street festival at the Lloyd Noble Center. Normally, I would not attend any type of fair because I’m just not the type of person who enjoys being outdoors for extended periods of time. However, I didn’t have any evening plans, and a friend invited me to go over with them, so I decided to go ahead.
In many aspects, it was like a typical street fair: there were rides, food vendors, face painters, and other local vendors selling merchandise. There was also a stage set up for dancers and other musical performers. What set this fair apart from others I have been to, however, was the feeling of community amongst festival attendees. While walking around, everyone seemed friendly, and the environment was overall very pleasant.
I think the only thing that could have made my experience better would have been the ability to purchase food and merchandise. Since I attended somewhat on a whim, I did not come prepared with enough money and thus did not buy any food or other things. Despite this, though, I still enjoyed the dance performances, and the overall experience of walking around the lot with my friends, surrounded by other members of the Norman community.
In today’s world, we are completely surrounded by music. Everywhere we go, people are listening to music on their phones, and in their cars. However, what we are hearing is merely a shell of the original recording. This is because, in order to shrink the files down so that they can be stored digitally, the audio is compressed, and up to 90 percent of the original recording is removed. As a self-proclaimed “music junkie”, watching the documentary “The Distortion of Sound” and learning this was concerning.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect is that most music consumers don’t know that there’s a difference, or they know but don’t care, because of the convenience of digital services. For many people, digital is all they know, and they have yet to experience music at its full quality.
For me, watching this documentary also led to a realization: The compression of audio files is likely one of the main reasons I love live music so much. I have been an avid concert-goer since the age of 13, but I didn’t have much of a valid explanation as to why, other than enjoying the energy provided by being in a crowded room surrounded by other music fans. Now, however, I have realized that another reason I enjoy live music so much is because it is one of the only ways to hear songs as the artist intended, rather than a crappy low-res rendering.
To learn more, and to watch the film for yourself, visit www.distortionofsound.com
Yesterday, Five Finger Death Punch released their first single since 2015’s Got Your Six album, titled “Trouble”. The track is one of two new songs being released on their upcoming greatest hits record. While it’s a solid rock track, and it does contain the distinct “FFDP” sound, it barely grows from their past material. It’s a decent song, but it also sounds like it could be pulled directly from any of their past efforts (except maybe their debut The Way of the Fist, which was more metal-esque). The guitar patterns and drum fills sound all too familiar, and while vocalist Ivan Moody does seem to be in a better place following a tumultuous year of on-stage meltdowns, if they want to stay relevant, they’re going to need to do some evolving.
Cover songs have been an integral part of the music industry for decades, dating back to times when “race charts” existed, and white artists would cover songs by minority artists, often making more of a profit than the original artist. Today, though, covers are done purely for artistic reason. Here, in no particular order, are ten of my favorites.
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) [originally performed by Eurythmics]-Marilyn Manson
Dark Horse (originally performed by Katy Perry)-Our Last Night
Rebel Yell (originally performed by Billy Idol)-Black Veil Brides
Hell is For Children (originally performed by Pat Benatar)-The Relentless
Bad Romance (originally performed by Lady Gaga)-Halestorm
All I Ever Wanted (originally performed by Aranda)-Kelly Clarkson
Radioactive (originally by Imagine Dragons)-Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling
Somewhere Only We Know (originally by Keane)-Glee Cast
The Sound of Silence (originally by Simon & Garfunkel)-Disturbed
Careless Whisper (originally by George Michael)-Seether
Today I want to show some appreciation for a band I have been recently introduced to, Palaye Royale. The Canadian rockers are signed to Sumerian Records, and released their debut album Boom Boom Room: Side A last year. Here are five reasons I believe they are bound for success.
Soundtrack Features: Several of their songs were featured in the recently released film American Satan, and vocalist Remington Leith also provided vocals to the film’s fictional band, The Relentless. They were beginning to gain popularity prior to this, but now their music is being heard by fans of rock scene staples Black Veil Brides and labelmates Asking Alexandria who saw the movie for its starring roles by Andy Biersack and Ben Bruce.
Unique Fashion: This band prides themselves on being a “fashion-art” band, allowing themselves to stand out from their peers. The band recently played during Los Angeles Fashion Week, where Leith wore a dress on stage.
Youtube Popularity: The music video for their song Morning Light has amassed 20 million views, and most of their other music videos range in views from 500k to 1.3 million. I find this to be impressive since the album most of these songs are from is only a year old.
Festival Attendance: They recently played for their largest crowd ever at the Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California, on a lineup alongside other rock artists such as Nothing More.
Remington Leith’s Vocals: Despite only being 23 years old, Leith’s vocals are very raspy and are reminiscent of rock artists of the past. He’s also quite attractive. There. I said it.
ANYWAY… I think anyone looking for new rock music should check this group out.
(Side note: I found one of their shirts at Hot Topic and am very excited to wear it.)
Mr. Doctor Man video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzM134EhSFQ
*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!!*
Yesterday was a day I had been waiting for since its announcement in early 2016: American Satan, a rock-and-roll thriller starring Black Veil Brides’ Andy Biersack and Asking Alexandria’s Ben Bruce, was released into theaters. Though it was only released in select cities throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, I was lucky enough to be able to catch a screening in my town. And I must say, the movie was well worth the wait. It was dark, sexy, and kept me on the edge of my seat for its entire just-under-two-hour runtime.
For those unaware, American Satan follows fictional rock band The Relentless as they move to Hollywood to pursue their dreams. However, they quickly learn that fame is not easy, and they will have to make some sacrifices. The band makes a deal with a man who seems to be following them, named Mr. Capricorn (portrayed by none other than Malcolm McDowell). However, this deal causes them to make some difficult decisions, such as whether or not to kill the douche-y singer of another local band, whom their bassist Lily (Jesse Sullivan) had some past relationship struggles with. After they fulfill their end of the bargain, their popularity explodes. However, they struggle with vices that come with high levels of fame, including sexual temptations and heavy drug usage.
What I loved most about this movie, aside from its kick-ass soundtrack, is the fact that, though the story itself was fictional, it was based in reality, and showed that fame and the music industry are not all glitz-and-glam. All of the actors’ performances were superb, so much so that I, someone who typically struggles to focus on one thing for a long period of time, was completely glued to the screen. Though my initial interest stemmed from Andy Biersack’s involvement, the film was so well done that I think I would have still enjoyed it had someone else been starring. The soundtrack was also perfect, featuring Remington Leith of Palaye Royale as the recorded vocalist for the Relentless. The film was nothing less than exhilarating, and the only thing stopping me from seeing it again is the fact that I can’t drive myself to the theater.
My only criticism is the amount of sex and nudity that appears in the film. While I understand that the purpose was to emphasize the indulgent nature of the stereotypical “rock and roll lifestyle”, I wish there would have been a little less. Regardless, though, it was still a phenomenal work that I would recommend to any fans of rock music, or anyone who wants to see a dark and sexy thriller.
As a music lover, my dream job is to work as a live music photographer, or to work for a music publication such as Alternative Press or Kerrang. While in college, I am planning to study abroad in the United Kingdom. By going over there, I hope to not only see and photograph some of their beautiful historical landmarks, but I would also love to be able to intern for Kerrang or a similar publication while there. I know it will not be an easy profession, but hopefully by building connections and putting myself into the job market, and opening myself up to international opportunities, I can eventually make a name for myself in the world of music journalism and photography.