Movie Review: American Satan

*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.

My Career Aspirations-and Why I Want to Study Abroad

Hello, all!

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.

Bea Miller-chapter three: yellow EP Review

Teen pop queen Bea Miller has once again released an EP showing growth and maturity since her X-Factor days. The third EP released this year, preceded by chapter one: blue and chapter two: red, Miller has proved that she is not going anywhere, and the industry should make room for her. The three-song release opens with “repurcussions”, which is a very fun and bubbly pop tune. She then takes a sassy turn on S.L.U.T., taking a stand against slut-shamers and producing a fun track about self-acceptance. The title is an acronym for “Sweet Little Unforgettable Thing”. The EP closes with “to the grave”, a softer and more ethereal track, though it still has a pulsing background beat, that provides a beautiful closing to the release.

Rating: 4.5/5

Favorite Track: S.L.U.T.

Song Recommendations: Week of October 6, 2017

This week’s recommendations:

  1. Far From Home-Hinder: A great song from the OKC-based rockers.
  2. How Long-Charlie Puth: I haven’t been much of a Charlie Puth fan in the past, so I was surprised at how much I liked this song when I first heard it. It’s infectious pop gold and, though it will likely get overplayed on the radio, I am liking it right now.
  3. Dear World-Echosmith: A soft ballad from the Sierota siblings, regarding the current global conditions (politically and otherwise).
  4. Remember That Night-Grouplove: A piece of alt-pop greatness that sounds like it should be playing during a school dance scene of a teen movie. It’s infectious and dance-y with a hint of edginess.
  5. Get Well-Icon for Hire: An old favorite of mine, this song rocks hard while also featuring Ariel Bloomer’s meaningful lyrics she has become known for.
  6. Hurricane- MS MR: I actually had never heard this band until browsing Spotify looking for songs to include this week. MS MR are an alt-pop duo, and I enjoyed this track.
  7. Loud (F*ck It)-Motionless in White: A mosh-pit ready tune perfect for angrily dancing around your room, working out, or else imagining yourself singing along at a rock show.
  8. Heaven-PVRIS: A haunting and beautiful track, as PVRIS does best.
  9. Morning Light-Palaye Royale: Another band that I recently discovered, due to the fact that their lead vocalist, Remington Leith, provided vocals to the soundtrack of the upcoming movie American Satan (more on that in a minute). Though this track is from 2012, and a more predictable PR entry would have been their song “Get Higher”, I found this one and thought it deserved some love.
  10. Forgive Me Mother-The Relentless: The fourth single released by the fictional band from American Satan, it made me even more excited to see this movie. American Satan is a rock and roll thriller directed by Ash Avildsen of Sumerian Records and starring Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides and Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria, among others. (note: I will hopefully see it next weekend; if I do, there WILL be a review. Stay tuned.)

 

Songs I Love: Week of September 29, 2017

I’m back with my weekly song recommendations! I’m going to try something different this time, in that I will include brief explanations as to why I like each song, rather than just a simple list.

  1. Angel Eyes- New Years Day feat. Chris Motionless. This was one of the first songs I ever heard by New Years Day, and is still one of my favorites. With October fast approaching, I thought it was appropriate to include it.
  2. Whatever- Heartbreak Heroes. Heartbreak Heroes is a band from my hometown of Oklahoma City who I had the pleasure of seeing open for Stitched Up Heart in July of 2016. Their music is infectious pop-punk, exemplified on this track
  3. Funny Little Creatures- Nothing More. One of the more unique tracks lyrically on their newest release, this track follows the albums theme of looking inward and questioning why we behave the way we do sometimes, and why our minds play tricks on us.
  4. My Vow- Black Veil Brides. The only thing about this track that is drastically different from other BVB tracks is the dropping of an f-bomb near the beginning, but it is the same Black Veil Brides that fans such as myself have come to love, and is a taste of what’s to come on their next record.
  5. Into the Fire- Asking Alexandria. A strong anthemic return for vocalist Danny Worsnop, who had previously left the band in 2015.
  6. Paint It Black- Andy Black. One of the softer moments on 2016’s The Shadow Side, the track beautifully showcases the vocals of Andy Biersack.
  7. Tell Me You Love Me- Demi Lovato. A somewhat gospel-inspired track from the pop powerhouse that is refreshingly well composed, especially when compared to the laziness of other pop singer’s recent material (*cough* Taylor Swift *cough*). Her new album dropped yesterday, and I am eager to listen to the rest of it.
  8. Learn to Let Go- Kesha. An empowering anthem on the songstress’s new album that is beautifully written, and shows that she is not going to let her recently publicized struggles affect her any longer.
  9. Bad At Love- Halsey. The latest single from hopeless fountain kingdom, the track is well-composed and has become a recent favorite of mine.
  10. Break a Little- kirstin. The lead single from Pentatonix vocalist Kirstin Maldonado’s solo effort, it is a beautiful track about love and heartbreak.

 

Podcast Recommendation: “Turned Up” by Jake Jones and Robert Venable

Though I am usually not much of a podcast listener, I had seen posts about this podcast by its anchors, who are musicians in the Christian-rock band As We Ascend, and was curious, so I gave it a listen. The premise of the podcast is that Jake and Robert go behind-the-scenes of different parts of the music industry, sitting down and interviewing people who have worked in the industry. The episode that I chose to listen to is the most recent episode, entitled “Jingles… Not the Bells”. In this episode, they sat down with jingle writer Michael Levine, who is known for his work in writing the “Gimme a Break” jingle for Kit-Kat (versions of which are still being used, most recently in an ad campaign featuring Chance the Rapper). He also helped arrange the “Spider-Pig” song in 2007’s The Simpsons Movie.

Throughout the episode, they discussed why jingles are used, the decline of jingle usage through the years, and even some of the science behind why we as humans get certain melodies stuck in our heads so easily.

I enjoyed this episode, and, when I have time, plan to go back and listen to the other episodes that have been released, as well as listening to any future episodes:

Turned Up is available on iTunes, and can also be found on Stitcher Radio online

Episodes on Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/turned-up-podcast/turned-up

 

Song Review: Asking Alexandria “Into The Fire”

On Thursday, rock band Asking Alexandria released a new song, and  it is certainly a departure from their early material. Aggressive metal core-style screams are mostly abandoned in favor of melodic guitars and an arena-ready chorus. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the track, since it was the first release with Danny Worsnop on vocals since 2013’s From Death to Destiny (Worsnop left the group in 2015 and released a country album, while the rest of the band continued with Denis Shaforostov on vocals, releasing The Black in early 2016.)

I, along with many other fans, was disappointed at the departure of Shaforostov earlier this year, because I felt The Black was one of their strongest albums ever. I was also skeptical of Worsnop’s return due to his past alcohol usage. Any doubts about Asking’s staying power were quickly subsided, however, and I am eager to hear what else the band has up their sleeves.

Songs I Love: Week of September 22, 2017

Hello All!

Today’s post is the start of a new weekly series in which I will post a list of 10 songs that I am loving that week. They will not necessarily be new songs, just ones that I think you should listen to. I will also link a corresponding Spotify playlist at the end of the post. (Note: The songs are not in any particular order, so please don’t attack me for one song being higher than another. That’s just the order I added them to the playlist.)

  1. Just Say When – Nothing More
  2. Pulse – Icon For Hire
  3. Let Him Burn – The Relentless
  4. Half God Half Devil – In This Moment
  5. If I Had You – Adam Lambert
  6. Legends – Sleeping With Sirens
  7. Cry Baby – Melanie Martinez
  8. Aftermath – As Lions
  9. Breathe-Extended Version – Through Fire
  10. Praying – Kesha

Album Review: Nothing More-“The Stories We Tell Ourselves”

San Antonio, Texas-based rockers Nothing More have once again composed a masterpiece. The band first began to garner popularity after their 2013 self-titled record was re-released in 2014 by Eleven Seven Music, and they quickly became known for their thought-provoking lyrics regarding religion, mental illness, and our society’s materialistic obsessions, along with their heavy guitar riffs and pounding drum fills.

On their latest effort, “The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” many of these lyrical themes are continued, although the religion-related tones of their previous effort are replaced by notes of love and heartbreak, as heard on the promotional single “Just Say When” and the song “Still In Love.” However, this in no way means that they’ve “sold out” by writing songs about love. The album still features many heavy songs similar to the fan-favorites of the past, including the mosh-pit ready “Ripping Me Apart”, the electronic infused “Don’t Stop,”, and the lead single “Go To War”.

While I enjoyed all of the songs, the clear standout track is the album’s closer, “Fade In/Fade Out”. In the song, lead vocalist Jonny Hawkins appears to struggle with the fact that life is passing by and realizing that his father will not always be around. The track is quite moving, and is this album’s equivalent of “God Went North,” from their previous record, which was written about Hawkins’ mother passing away from cancer.

(Edit: I have been informed that the song was actually written by guitarist Mark Vollelunga as a note to his son.)

The only complaint I have is that this album has several spoken word interlude-type tracks. Though this isn’t new for the band, there were more on this album than on their last, and while the tracks added to the narrative of their previous record, here, I felt they were a distraction from the songs themselves. However, the songs themselves were phenomenal, and I am excited to hear some of them live on their “Stories We Tell Ourselves Tour”, which began on September 12 and runs through November. Dates can be found on nothingmore.net

Verdict: 4.5/5

Favorite Tracks: Ripping Me Apart, Go To War, Just Say When, Fade In/Fade Out

Nothing More’s “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” is available now on all digital retailers, through the band’s PledgeMusic site, and in select stores.