Simple Plan – Get Your Heart On! album review

Reviewing Simple Plan’s fourth album is kind of like reviewing Save the Last Dance 2: what’s the friggin’ point?  The only new fans the two will ever have are the 13 and 14 year olds that presently find them entertaining, so why write a review? This record could be the London Calling of the new decade, and it still wouldn’t matter because Pierre Bouvier and his four friends once wrote a song entitled “I’m Just a Kid” and then put out two equally as shitty of albums after it. So even if the idea of fourth-time’s-the-charm existed, I think everyone ages 15-and-up can agree that Simple Plan missed their shot at artistic merit a long fucking time ago.

If MVRemix used a rating scale, I’d be hard-pressed to decide which number Get Your Heart On! deserves. A “zero” is too harsh because, although Simple Plan re-make the same song again and again with contrived lyrics, the band do exactly what their record label wants of them. They’re not paid to be award-winning artists; they’re paid to pump out cheesy singles that make boatloads of money on iTunes after their video is shown on Nickelodeon. But you can’t give Bouvier and Co. a “4” or “5” either because that would misrepresent them as underwhelming and middle-of-the-pack, which is too kind to an inartistic band whose only purpose is to write cheesy singles that will make boatloads of money on iTunes.

So I’m giving the Canadian whatevers a “1.” They get two points on the rock Richter scale for their continued effort to make album titles with sexual innuendoes, despite having a fan-base that may not even know what a hard-on is, but they lose a point for inventing phrases and smugly passing them off as though they exist. (Has any guy ever gotten a “heart-on?”)

They may not just be kids anymore, but Simple Plan are still a bunch of bubble-gum dorks riding the monetary pop wave. Despite using French lyrics on “Jet Lag” and enlisting Rivers Cuomo to Weezer-ize (I can make up words too, guys!) their writing, the quintet continue to move laterally. They’re proof that fame, fortune, and heartbreak can’t buy talent, but they’re also the unfortunate proof that lacking talent can still make you rich and famous.

press releases reviews

Cities Aviv – Digital Lows album review

Cities Aviv’s hip-hop/experimental album, ‘Digital Lows’, self-released May 2011, holds a lot of promise for the young Memphis-born lyricist and rapper. His lyrics are well articulated, moralistic, and intelligent. The instruments accompanying each track offer serious variety, ranging from soft to percussion-heavy and brooding.

‘Digital Lows’ provides the listener with diversity in every aspect of the meaning. ‘Tongue Kisser’ and ‘Black Box’ are two great examples of this. In the former, the almost incoherent voice of a female repeating broken phrases is both haunting and captivating. ‘Black Box’ featuring Fille Catatonique is all about a collective ‘scream for change’ in regards to the perpetual corruption in society. Some expressive yet empowering lyrics reinforce this outrage: “Mini-mart fuckers die, we just sing the blues; Babies being born with their fingers on the triggers; Feed ‘em hope ‘til they forget about the real things.”

From the first beat, ‘Fuckeverybodyhere,’ will make your head nod out of both approval and pure enjoyment. This track fluently captures the frustration that he experiences as an artist, surrounded by an arrogant gun-toting culture, which his lyrics make a mockery of in apparent disgust: “Some try to mark ‘em with an X like Malcom but you must’ve forgot that X marks the spot, got a gun to the sky, it’s the one that shot.”

Beginning with a strikingly beautiful sample of Oh Lori by The Alessi Brothers, the perfectly out of place ‘Meet Me on Montrose’ picks up the pace one-minute in when the rapping resumes, overlapping the sample. The contrast is maintained as the sample plays intermittently throughout the song, which tells a story of love and longing.

‘Voyeurs’ further establishes this idea of variety in that it opens with a much more harsh and unpleasant noise. This track has a comparatively more obnoxious set of lyrics and over all tone. Throughout the album his lyrics seem to transform from “You can find me in the clouds, I might reach them” to “She can suck on this while she fucks Taylor Swift with a strap-on dick,” and back again.

The album ends with an adaptation of ‘Float On’ – inspired by the famous Modest Mouse hit. Ultimately, ‘Digital Lows’ is an assortment of emotion, ranging from vehemence to vulnerability, with morality proving to be its greatest asset.


Bon Iver – Bon Iver album review

Justin Vernon, AKA Bon Iver, is a very different man now than he used to be.  Certainly, the tv-show featured, Kanye West-guesting folk musician of today is a far cry from the self-exiled mononucleosis-inflicted Vernon of two years back.  So it’s no wonder that Bon Iver’s newest eponymous release is a different beast than his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago.

Luckily, with this album Vernon establishes himself as much more than a simple flash-in-the-pan, using his new status not as a crutch, but as an opportunity to expand his sound.  Whereas For Emma was somewhat simplistic in approach – most of it consisted of Vernon’s layered vocals, acoustic guitar, and some soft drums – Bon Iver, Bon Iver brings in a wealth of guest musicians, giving the album more of a full band feel.  Musically, the album is more layered, complex, and varied than Vernon’s ever been: opener “Perth” is, in the words of the man himself, a “Civil War-sounding heavy metal song”; “Beth/Rest” pretty much does away with the usual Bon Iver sound entirely, reverb-laden electric guitars and shimmering synths replacing the more common acoustics; and the album in general just has more expansive instrumentation, whether that be the use of distortion, synths, or saxophones.  This doesn’t always work; the aforementioned “Beth/Rest” is a too close to the typical indie “80s-retro” aesthetic for comfort, and the album as a whole feels just a bit less personal than For Emma.

But what does makes the album work is that despite all the changes, this is still Justin Vernon through and through – his overdubbed harmonized vocals are present as always, and his general approach to songwriting hasn’t really changed.  It’s an album that is at once different and entirely similar, displaying a growth in Vernon’s sound while still remaining as emotionally breathtaking as the first time out.  More than anything, Bon Iver, Bon Iver proves something immensely important – that Justin Vernon is one of those few musicians that can do pretty much whatever they want and still somehow sound like themselves.


Vetiver – The Errant Charm album review

The best musicians I’ve encountered recently all have one thing in common; they come from the sweetly-accented land of North Carolina. Vetiver front-man, Andy Cabric, is no exception to this strange new rule. So, I wasn’t surprised when Vetiver’s new album The Errant Charm showcased the kind of flexibility, complexity, and unique, spell-binding appeal that are the hallmarks of other great, iconic American bands like Wilco or Radiohead.

Vetiver’s first, self-titled album, was filled with melancholy sweetness and strumming that was perfect to fall asleep to, but it wasn’t until their fourth album, Tight Knit (2009), that Vetiver came into their own, holistically reconciling the lively bluegrass jams of their third album, Thing of the Past (2008), with a natural inclination toward the melancholy mellow of their earlier recordings. The Errant Charm is Vetiver at the next level; full musical maturity.

The album opens with It’s Beyond Me, a song of such subtle beauty that actually possesses the enigmatic, and seemingly intrinsic quality that Radiohead has long used to captivate listeners and entices them to listen through a track they weren’t certain they wanted to hear. Its slow pace and soft harmonies break-open just as your finger hovers over the button to forward the track, and you stick it through because you’re mesmerized by the need to hear it swell and crash into resolution.

Palate cleansing tracks like Wonder Why start off on high notes and dive into up-beat jams with ear-catching lyrics like, “When is this old world gonna treat me kind,” proving that Vetiver has finally mastered the irresistible art of the solemn song performed with a light touch. Worse For Wear, a song about love dying, ends by repeating the phrase, “All happiness is sad,” which perfectly summarizes the mood, not only of the song, but of the entire album.

There’s almost no point resisting any track on The Errant Charm, and ultimately, what makes the album so successful is the way the songs progress, shifting through a variety atmospheres so complimentary and balanced that each new song enhances the experience of listening to the rest.


Com Truise – Galactic Melt album review

The first MP3 player I owned was small. Both in size and memory. The Samsung YP N30S (Google it) boasted a whopping 128mb of memory, enough for about 30 songs. If I really put my mind to it, I could probably recreate that playlist. That was about 8 years ago. Now I have music on my frigging cell phone, and my sister has 160gb of iPod to fill. So imagine going back to the 80’s (if you were even alive back then) on the same technological curve, and chances are you’ll be imagining something that sounds like Com Truise’s Galactic Melt.

If you ever watched a PBS special on outer space when you were growing up, or seen a montage segment from a fantasy kids movie, you’ll feel you’ve heard Galactic Melt before. Every track sounds like a sequence where the grown-ups running the show weren’t sure on what kids would like, so they just threw some space lasers in and called it a day. Maybe I missed the chillwave… wave? but to me, with the exception of VHS Sex, these songs are indistinguishable to one another. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actively dislike this album; I’ll happily admit I caught myself bobbing along to “Glawio”. But the whole album just kind of… happened… to my ears while I was “working” (read: Facebook and webcomics with the article on the side).

Admittedly, it’s impressive that creator Haley is able to make these tracks sound like they’re 30 years old and played with a computer you used at elementary school (iTunes for the Atari, anyone?) and for that I applaud him. But I would be hard pressed to buy Galactic Melt, on the grounds that, frankly, I heard it when I was a kid.

I bet it would be sweet live though.


Other Lives Interview

Just as the seasons must inevitably change, so too must truly creative musicians, though perhaps not as methodically. Jesse Tabis, pianist, guitarist, and lead vocalist of the Stillwater indie folk band Other Lives (whose name came from Jesse’s love of the movie title, “The Lives of Others”) has found himself to be no exception. In the wake of his band’s success with their first album “Black Tables” the inevitable “necessity of change” came knocking on his door. With a recharged urgency and shifting perspective he approached his music anew.

tour dates

THE CHARIOT to Release New Vinyl LP Version of ‘Long Live’ on August 2nd, 2011

THE CHARIOT to Release New Vinyl LP Version of ‘Long Live’ on August 2nd, 2011

Available for Pre-Order Now – Bundles Included!

THE CHARIOT are pleased to announce the upcoming August 2nd release of the new vinyl LP version of their latest GOOD FIGHT MUSIC release, Long Live. Long Live was released on November 22nd, 2010 and is the band’s fourth full-length album to date.

The new 180 gram weight vinyl LP comes with exclusive silk-screened, hand-numbered jackets. Hot Topic will exclusively carry a white version of the vinyl with black spatters, numbered 1 through 1,000. The GOOD FIGHT store, the band (on tour), and your favorite local vinyl retailer will carry black with white spatters, numbered 1,001 through 2000. The vinyl will include a bonus track, ‘Music of a Grateful Heart’, previously available only on the limited edition 7-inch version. The track will also be available on iTunes and all digital outlets as a single track. Fans can pre-order the LP now by itself, or in a special bundle that includes a THE CHARIOT t-shirt.

THE CHARIOT will hit the road this Friday on this year’s SCREAM THE PRAYER TOUR, also featuring Norma Jean, Sleeping Giant, War Of Ages, Close Your Eyes, Texas In July, I The Breather, The Great Commission, As Hell Retreats, and Sovereign Strength. See below for the entire rundown of SCREAM THE PRAYER TOUR dates.

7/1 Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
7/2 Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival (Not all STP bands on festival)
7/3 Bushnell, IL @ Cornerstone Festival – THE CHARIOT headlining HM Encore Stage (Not all STP bands on festival)
7/5 Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock
7/6 Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
7/7 Charlotte, NC @ Amos
7/8 Douglasville, GA @ The 7 Venue
7/9 Jacksonville, FL @ Murray Hill Theatre
7/10 Pratville (Montgomery), AL @ The Blue Iguana
7/11 Little Rock, AR @ Riverfront Pavilion
7/14 Willmar, MN @ Sonshine Festival
7/15 Winnipeg, MB @ Garrick Centre
7/16 Willmar, MN @ Sonshine Festival
7/17 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
7/19 Dayton, OH @ The Attic
7/22 McAllen, TX @ Las Palmas Racepark w/ The All Stars Tour
7/23 San Antonio, TX @ The Backstage Live w/ The All Stars Tour
7/24 Dallas, TX @ The Palladium w/ The All Stars Tour
7/25 Tulsa, OK @ Cains Ballroom
7/26 Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre
7/27 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
7/28 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
7/30 Tucson, AZ @ The Rock
7/31 Pomona, CA @ Glasshouse

tour dates

Beirut Announce Tour in Support of New Album, The Rip Tide!


Beirut is set to embark on its first national tour in over four years in support of The Rip Tide, out August 30th on Pompeii Records.

Joining Beirut leader Zach Condon (ukulele, trumpet, piano, vocals) on the road is Perrin Cloutier (accordion, piano), Paul Collins (electric bass, upright bass), Ben Lanz (trombone, piano, tuba), Nick Petree (drums), and Kelly Pratt (trumpet, euphonium). A six piece band who has consistently honed their live show throughout the band’s career, Beirut puts on an undeniably solid and confident performance and shows a singular band maturing both on record and in concert.

Few predicted the inward journey Condon has achieved on The Rip Tide. With songs that speak of universal human themes that are less fabricated stories than impressions of life at a quarter century of age, the album exposes a depth of honesty that outstrips the simplified nomadic troubadour image of his past. Hear album track, “East Harlem,” below.

Listen to Beirut’s “East Harlem” off of The Rip Tide here:

Thu. June 30 — London, UK @ Hyde Park w/ Arcade Fire
Sun. July 3 — St. Gallen, Switzerland @ St. Gallen Fest
Tue. July 5 — Ferrara, Italy @ Costello PIazza
Thu. July 7 — Republic of Serbia @ Exit Festival
Sat. July 9 — Slovakia @ Pohoda
Tue. July 12 — Arles, France @ Arles Fest
Thu. July 14 — Meco, Portugal @ Super Bock Super Rock
Sat. July 16 — Valencia, Spain @ Benicassim Festival
Mon. July 18 — Lyon, France @ Les Nuits de Fourviere
Wed. July 20 — Nyon, Switzerland @ Paleo Festival
Fri. July 29 — Portland, ME @ State Theater
Sun. July 31 — Montreal, QC @ Osheaga
Tue. Aug. 2 –Toronto, ON @ The Phoenix
Thu. Aug. 4 –Toronto, ON @ The Phoenix w/ Owen Pallett
Fri. Aug. 5 — Sun. Aug. 7 – Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
Wed. Aug. 10 — Vancouver, BC @ Commodore
Fri. Aug. 12 — Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
Sun. Aug. 14 — San Francisco, CA @ Outside Lands
Fri. Sep. 2 — Dorset, UK @ End of Road Festival
Sun. Sep. 4 — Stradbally, Ireland @ Electric Picnic
Tue. Sep. 6 — Manchester, UK @ Manchester Academy
Thu. Sep. 8 — Amsterdamn, Netherlands @ Paradiso
Mon. Sep. 12 — Paris, France @ Olympia
Wed. Sep. 14 — Brussels, Belgium @ AB
Fri. Sep. 16 — London, UK @ Brixton Academy
Wed. Sep. 21 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
Thu. Sep. 22 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
Wed. Sep. 28 – Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
Tue. Oct. 4 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre
Sun. Oct. 9 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
Tue. Oct. 11 – Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Hall
Tue. Oct. 25 – Richmond, VA @ The National
Thu. Oct. 27 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
Sat. Oct. 29 – Austin, TX @ Stubbs Waller Creek
Fri. Nov. 11 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts
Sun. Nov. 13 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory

press releases

Pith-rock artist, Rachel Taylor Brown prepares national release of World So Sweet


Look up “pithy” and “pith.” The thesaurus reads: “succinct, concise, compact, to the point, epigrammatic, crisp, significant, meaningful, expressive, telling.” “Pith” means “essence, fundamentals, heart, substance, core, crux, gist, meat, kernel, marrow, weight, depth, force.” “Pith-rock” is a weird and awkward moniker for Portland, Oregon-based Rachel Taylor Brown’s music, and maybe a little too close to “piss” said with a lisp. But, it fits, especially when you put on her seventh full-length, World So Sweet (Penury Pop), which will be released nationally on September 20, 2011.

“I can never come up with anything pithy when someone asks me that. I hate when people ask me that,” grumbles Taylor Brown, when asked to describe her music. “As a joke, I sometimes say pith-rock; sharp ‘n’ pointy! Or spongy and permeable! Or maybe pith ‘n’ vinegar rock! No, wait: there’s that horrible thing they do to frogs in a lab, that’s pithing. Maybe igneous-rock is better.”

Talk to those who know her music, though, and other descriptions come up. “Unsettling but addictive.” “Good stories.” “Unpredictable.” “Arresting.” “Dark, funny, sweeping, panoramic, pretty, ugly, complex, moving.” And, “You can dance to it.”

But to fully grasp and understand World So Sweet and Rachel Taylor Brown, you have only to listen to the record.

“I realized in retrospect how dark these songs may come off. I wish I could explain better how they make me feel hopeful,” explains Taylor Brown. “I always feel better when dark things are out in the open instead of hidden away. Looking at the scary stuff makes me more appreciative of the beauty in the world, makes me feel like my feet are on the ground.” She continues, “I think it helps that you can dance around to many of them. I can see someone getting down to one of these songs and never knowing what the hell I’m singing about. I like that the songs can be enjoyed on that level–it makes me feel sneaky. Lyrics are very important to me but I know a lot of people don’t listen to them, especially now. It’s interesting to see who notices the words and who doesn’t.”

It’s that love of life, humor, curiosity, basic compassion, and a healthy dose of skepticism that fuels Taylor Brown. It’s heavily reflected in everything she does, including the thirteen tracks found on World So Sweet.

“I love the people I love, and the beautiful world,” she continues. “I’m fortunate. There was a time I didn’t want to be around. Now that I do, it’s sweet, every day; even when it’s horrible. There are birds. The world is sweet, even though it’s awful. That prayer I had to say when I was a kid: ‘Thank you for the world so sweet, thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the birds that sing, thank you, God, for everything.’ I’ve always loved that prayer, even though I don’t believe in the God part anymore. I love anything that reflects even some little awareness that we’re living with a whole lot of other creatures and that we’re just one bit of the whole thing.”

Rachel Taylor Brown might best be described as a dubious but hopeful observer who watches the world and the people of the world destroy and create beauty daily, just one witness who can tell a story through song.

“These songs are about the usual mundane things that seem to preoccupy me; how great and how awful people are and how beautiful and ugly the world is,” she says. “There’s huge scope in that. I know I have a comfort level with some of the things I write about that others may not have, due in large part to my own history. I’m not thinking of how it may hit anyone else when I’m writing. I’m usually surprised when my husband or some other listener points out that it’s maybe hard to hear. I really believe in letting a song be what it wants, though. And I guess some (ok, a lot) of my songs want to be peppy tunes about the worst of human nature. I have to say, though, I find that contradiction very satisfying.”

It all starts to make sense when you push play. From the opening of “Intro/Sweetness on Earth,” Taylor Brown will stop you in your tracks and make you think about what it is your hearing. Never one to play to convention, she’s made an intro that some friends and colleagues urged her against but that she went ahead with anyway.

Resulting from a last minute call, fifty-eight people showed up at a downtown Sherman Clay piano showroom to simultaneously play fifty plus pianos, which engineer/co-producer Jeff Stuart Saltzman (with whom she’s recorded her last five albums) recorded. The group turned out to be a great pick-up choir as well.

What you hear is tension as fifty pianos sound off, building and building until you feel it’s going to end, then continuing on, always tugging at you, as you restlessly and anxiously await to see where it’s all leading.

“I was told by some people that I should consider shortening the intro. But I tried chopping it and it didn’t work,” she says. “The thing I like about it at the length it is is that, if you let it, it can put you in a kind of trance state. I think each unique brain will make something different of what it picks out and hears in all that sound. I hear little bits of melody pop out but I’m guessing someone else will hear something different according to their own personal library in their noggin. I like to imagine it’s different for everybody and (potentially) different every time you listen, just because of your own magical brain! I’m also aware some people will just hate it and think I’m being self-indulgent. Which I am, but now I’ve told you why.”

That mindset, that unwavering, uncompromising dedication to her music, making sure it translates as well on tape as it does in her head, is what makes Rachel Taylor Brown and thus World So Sweet such an interesting experience. It’s the type of record where, if you only casually spin it, it will leave you missing out on nuances, intricacies and rewards that can only come with closer acquaintanceship.

For all the hurt and pain in the world, like all of us Rachel Taylor Brown goes on. Creating music that is equally pretty and haunting, sometimes simple but sometimes epic, the perfect strange cocktail of darkening doubt, lightening hope and “it’s got a good beat, you can dance to it.” Music that’s meaningful but catchy, a paradox of everything the world has to offer. With World So Sweet she brings to the surface good and evil, creating an album that is as rich as it is sparse, dense as it is airy.

tour dates

One Week Only! The Shivers New Album, More, Available For Free at The Awl! Band Playing CD Release Party at Glasslands in NYC on 6/29

One Week Only! The Shivers New Album, More, Available For Free at The Awl! Band Playing CD Release Party at Glasslands in NYC on 6/29!

Download New Record HERE, Single “Love Is In The Air” HERE

“Keith Zarriello’s voice carries an eerie, mesmerizing eroticism.” – Pitchfork

“…one of our favorite songs of all time.” – Gorilla Vs Bear

Leading into the band’s homecoming, CD release show at Glasslands in Brooklyn, NY on 6/29 and in honor of the beginning of summer and summerlove, New York cult-favorites The Shivers have made their latest album, More, which is out via Silence Breaks, available as a free download over at The Awl.

The site has praised the Queens, NY natives, writing in a recent profile that that lead singer Keith Zarriello “writes stuff almost no one writes well anymore: dense, intelligent three- and four-minute rock songs that feel vital and necessary. He is, no bullshit, one of the best songwriters working today.” Click HERE to download a free copy of the album, and listen to the band’s latest single, “Love Is In The Air” HERE.

For The Shivers, More was a liberating labor of love reflecting influences from rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, folk, and everything in between. Using every dime they’d saved, Zarriello and Schornikow traveled to Manchester in the Spring of 2010 to record their latest record in an entirely analog studio. Over five days, the two worked tirelessly, capturing the tracks they had worked on in the small church in Queens where the band practices. The end result was More, an album that runs the gamut of American rock ’n’ roll, delving into everything from gritty Lou-Reed-inspired rock to the swaggering soul of Nina Simone. Starting with the brief piano elegy “My Mouth Is For My Love,” More segues quickly into “Irrational Love,” a bouncy organ-driven rock track with a chorus that sounds like it was plucked from 1966. The album teeters between the upbeat pop of tracks like “Used to Be” and “I Want You Back” to the heartsick, Leonard-Cohen-inspired ballads like “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars” and “Love Is In The Air.” The album closes with the record’s title track “More,” a slow-building confessional that serves the record’s triumphant last call. It’s an apt end for a record that sounds like an apologetic love note, written on barroom cocktail napkin.

Hailing from Queens, NY, Keith Zarriello began writing music as The Shivers started back in 2001 and has spent the last ten years mining the depths of American music, developing a songwriting style that ranges from earnest, heartbroken ballads to ’60s garage rock revival. In 2004, Zarrellio released Charades, which featured the much lauded track “Beauty,” which earned universal praise from the likes of Pitchfork and The Guardian, and would end up being named Gorilla Vs Bear’s thirteenth best song of the decade. The album also caught the ear of an Australian, classically-trained church organist named Jo Schornikow, who joined the band as a full-time member that year. With Schornikow adding a delicate counterpoint with her piano and keyboard flutters, The Shivers spent the next six years touring aggressively in the U.S. and the U.K., and releasing a grand total of four albums, leading up to the ultimate release of More this year.

The Shivers NYC Tour Dates:
06/29: Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands (Album Release Show)
07/09: Brooklyn, NY @ Seedstock: Eagle St. Rooftop Farm Benefit

The Shivers
(May 10, Silence Breaks)

1. My Mouth Is For My Love
2. Irrational Love
3. Kisses
4. Used To Be
5. Love Is In The Air
6. Two Solitudes
7. Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars
8. I Want You Back
9. So Long Woman
10. More