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  1. We the King’s New Release Smile Kid

    January 8, 2010 by Jackie

    When you put together Travis Clark (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano), Hunter Thomsen (lead guitar and backing vocals), Drew Thomsen (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Dan Duncan (drums, percussion), you have a band called We the Kings from Bradenton, Florida.

    The name Smile Kid is a line that comes not from a title song but rather from the fourth track on the album, “The Story of Your Life.” I’m not sure a story of my life would coalesce into a song that sounds like We The King’s version, but nonetheless, it can’t be denied that it is a catchy tune.

    Next on the list is “In-N-Out (Animal Style),” a song that probably has some sort of sexual double entendre but after I read the title, I was too busy driving to my friendly neighborhood In-N-Out for a cheeseburger to notice the song’s potential deep-seated meaning.

    The next song in the repertoire is “We’ll Be a Dream,” featuring Demi Lovato (aka one of Disney’s over-promoted tween stars). I think that’s all that really needs to be said about that one.

    As I continued to listen to the album, I found myself thinking “hmm, quite a few of these songs sound oddly like something that once played in the background on an episode of  ‘The Hills.’ This thought turned out to be quite ironic because their song “Check Yes Juliet” (not on Smile Kid) was in fact, in an episode of said show. That’s not to say good music can never come from an MTV reality show, but in my esteemed opinion as a music writer, it rarely gives an album or song any brownie points.

    I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention my distaste for albums that put acoustic versions of earlier songs on the album at the end. Maybe I’m cheap, maybe I’m picky, but having the same song twice on any album, in any capacity just feels like a rip off to me. I want to get my $10 worth and have every song be new and original (even though “big” bands like Coldplay have even pulled this shtick before).

    Smile Kid is what I like to call a good “summer album” with an “infectious pop sound” (and not just because there’s a song on the album with the word “summer” in it). What is a “summer album?” Well, based on my own personal definition, such an album is one that is a) terribly catchy b) can be played ultra-loud from any form of vehicle with the windows rolled down, c) though it qualifies for point “a” and “b,” you never really listen to the lyrics or what the songs themselves are about d) after coming to terms with “c,” you bob your head and tap your fingers accordingly.

    I would not say the album was my least favorite of all time. It’s catchy and found myself tapping my foot along to the beat on more than one track, I was just faced with mounting skepticism as I continued my listening party. If any song you ever produced at any time appears in an MTV reality show about spoiled Los Angeles-based celebrity-wannabes, combined with having a well-paid Disney actress appear on one of your songs, that unfortunately does not scream “serious band!” for me. Instead, it screams “we want to be famous!” a little too much for my taste which sadly ruined my enjoyment of the majority of this album and of the band in general.

    Rating: (1.5/5)

  2. Mayday Parade’s Latest Release:

    November 20, 2009 by Jackie

    Mayday Parade’s Latest Release Anywhere But Here

    Mayday Parade albumReleased on October 6, 2009, Anywhere But Here is the third release from Florida-based group, Mayday Parade. Made up of Derek Sanders (lead vocals, keyboard), Jeremy Lenzo (bass guitar, backing vocals), Alex Garcia (lead guitar), Brooks Betts (rhythm guitar) and Jason Bundrick (drums, percussion), Mayday Parade formed in 2006 after the bands Kid Named Chicago and Defining Moment converged.

    “Kids in Love” is an apt title for the first song on Anywhere But Here. The song sounds like something two teenagers in love might be playing in their car as they drive along an isolated road and into their future. Lyrically, the song reflects on those feelings from a person who is no longer a “kid in love;” something 99.9% of the population can probably relate to.

    The title track of the album is fairly self-explanatory, describing a want to escape and be “anywhere but here.”

    Mayday Parade bandIn “The Silence,” Sanders adds a nice effect with his vocals on the lyric “even though the world she loved, it won’t ever be the way it was” at the beginning of the chorus. It mirrors the instrumental back-and-forth of the notes in the background.

    “If You Can’t Live Without Me…Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?” has to be one of the best titled songs my eyes have ever had the pleasure of reading. “I can’t live without you” seems to be one of those lines put out there a lot in relationships and the band makes light of that and twists it to make not just a clever title, but an angst-filled song that matches. The title of this song makes the next one a bit ironic. “Save Your Heart” calls out to a girl to save her heart “for someone worth dying for,” or basically, someone worthy. I’m not sure that this was an intentional juxtaposition of songs on the band’s part, but I find the dichotomy quite entertaining.

    “Get Up” is a fast-paced, audience-participation-needed anthem to all the cities Mayday Parade has visited and pays homage to the greatness of each place. I imagine that when this song is played live, the audience is all on their feet jumping up and down and singing along.

    “I Swear This Time I Mean It” is the stand-out “slow” song/ballad on the album. It actually would have been nice if it had been stuck in a little earlier on the album to add a change in sound, instead of at the end (not to be confused with “The End,” the actual closing track on Anywhere But Here).

    At the risk of being overly blunt, Anywhere But Here is not much of a departure from most of the other music being played on the radio or on a MySpace channel but with that expectation set, the band does what they do very well. It’s a simple, well-written, well-executed, catchy, and very relatable release.

    Rating: (4/5)

  3. Paramore’s Latest Release Brand New Eyes

    September 22, 2009 by Jackie

    Paramore-Brand New EyesOn September 29, 2009, Paramore’s latest release is set to rock a store near you. Their highly-anticipated third album since their debut with All We Know is Falling in 2005, this record does not disappoint.

    And just in case you aren’t familiar with this band—which if you aren’t, where have you been my friend?—ok, I jest…moving on to the intro. When Hayley Williams (lead vocals), Josh Farro (lead guitar, backing vocals), Jeremy Davis (bass guitar), Zac Farro (drums), and Taylor York (rhythm guitar) got together in Franklin, Tennessee back in 2004, they formed the Grammy-nominated band known as Paramore.

    Brand New Eyes is an amazing mesh of songs. We’ve all come to know and love the classic power, energy-driven rock sound that Paramore has graced us with songs like “Misery Business” for the past 5 years, but this album has taken the Paramore to a whole new level and has even showcased their softer side. Yes, I did it, I said “softer side.”

    Paramore The record starts out with “Careful,” a bone-rattling rock song that showcases the most powerful range and capabilities of Williams’ voice and the band’s rock sound. I think it’s safe to say that Williams has one of the most unique and rippling voices in the world of music today, and “Careful” puts that amazing voice on parade.

    Brand New Eyes continues with “Ignorance,” which also happens to be the band’s first single off the album, and a song I’m sure you’ve heard on the radio in recent months. I remember the first time I heard “Ignorance” on the radio. I was immediately impressed. I have always been a fan of Paramore but I was immediately jolted with excitement at hearing how their sound had grown and changed since the last album. And since they just finished a world tour with them, I think it’s safe to say this song even has a slight old school, No Doubt-esque sound to it.

    “Playing God” still keeps the quintessential Paramore rock sound but nicely slows down the album’s pace following two such power-packed songs. The echo effect used when Williams’ sings “way I” in the lyric “but the way I see it” is positively beautiful. Don’t be confused by this presence of softness, however. The lyrical edge is ever-present in this tune (i.e. “The next time you point a finger, I might have to bend it back and break it, break it off”).

    “Brick By Brick,” is one of the best examples of the band’s growth in sound and in lyrics over the years. It’s unlike pretty much any other Paramore song I have ever heard and offers a great transition on the album. The bridge utilizes a great combo of Williams’ and Farro’s voices too.

    When “The Only Exception,” came on, I actually thought my iTunes had randomly switched to shuffle and I was listening to “Yellow” by Coldplay. The initial acoustic riff threw me off that much. And make no mistake, though Paramore perfects the angsty, guitar-driven tune, they show on Brand New Eyes that they can do meaningful, ballad-esque tunes just as well. “Looking Up” is a great example of this, combining a great rock sound with lyrics that describe the exhilaration of a new relationship.

  4. Bronze Radio Return’s album Old Time Speaker

    September 3, 2009 by Jackie

    Bronze Radio Return, Source: by Davey WilsonWhen I was sent Old Time Speaker by Bronze Radio Return, I’ll be honest, I had never heard of the band before. I had no idea what to expect from Chris Henderson (lead vocals, guitar), Patrick Fetkowitz (lead guitar), Matt Warner (keys, background vocals), Rob Griffith (drums, background vocals), Bob Tanen (bass, background vocals) and Craig Struble (harmonica) when I opened my iTunes and turned up my speakers one fateful afternoon.

    But from second one, I was impressed. Henderson’s voice was like none I had never heard before. Though it bares similarities to some folk artists, the sound that reverberates off those vocal cords still has a quality all its own. And the music—well the music literally knocked me off my feet (excuse the Michael Jackson reference, may he rest in peace). In a day and age where let’s face it folks, a lot of music sounds oddly similar to the four songs that played it before it on the radio, music that truly stands out can be an extreme rarity.

    The album starts out with “Lo-Fi,” an extremely contagious acoustic guitar/tambourine-based song that is pop, alternative, and folk all at the same time. Next, follows “Digital Love” which was interestingly made to sound as if the music was coming out of none other than the speakers of a Lo-Fi stereo. That effect adds a really nice classic touch to a song that has a strong reggae vibe to it. The harmonies that this band has on the majority of the record, rival that of a church choir but instead are done in such a cool, folksy kind of way, they completely stand apart.

    Old Time Speaker is not just a rarity, however. It’s good. Darn good. It has a perfect mix of songs to get you up on your feet, songs that you’ll find yourself singing in the shower, car and at work for the next week, mellow songs you could sit out in the backyard and listen to with your friends whilst a cool beverage makes its way down your throat, and songs that will make you want to purchase your very own acoustic guitar.

    If you’re looking for unique and if you’re looking for quality, look no further than Bronze Radio Return.

  5. You Me At Six’s debut release “Take Off Your Colours”

    August 11, 2009 by Jackie

    You Me At Six's album cover for "Take Off Your Colors"Most people have probably heard of a small, quaint little tour known as Warped Tour that comes to a city near you on a yearly basis. Well if you were lucky enough to attend said tour this year, than you may have heard a band known as You Me at Six play.

    Hailing from Weybridge, Surrey in the UK, these five guys [Josh Franceschi (vocals), Max Helyer (guitar), Matt Barnes (bass), Chris Miller (guitar) and Dan Flint (drums)] are in no way your average Brit Pop or “British Invasion” band. This would be a good time to mention that I do not have anything against this particular musical genre. In fact, I am a proud owner of many an Oasis and Blur CD. But…if you are expecting that kind of sound on Take Off Your Colours, you will likely be quite surprised.. from pop and fast-paced rock and punk, You Me at Six have perfected a sound that, at first listen, may remind you of other bands on the scene right now. Once you get to about song number three on their nineteen track album (a fact which as a consumer, I greatly appreciate; twenty tracks= a lot of bang for your buck!), you realize that these guys are quite different. “And why are they different, Jackie?” you ask. Well I will tell you why in one mere word: emotion. The tracks on this album are not piles of summer anthems or shallow, surface level songs about breakups, lost love, and disdain. These tracks take it up a notch and to an entirely different level. Franceschi’s voice alone conveys such a range of emotions on this album that I was blown away. And the music matches the emotions of his voice to a “t.: I had to pump the CD on the surround sound stereo speakers in my house just so I could get the full effect of every line and every lyric.

    “The Truth is a Terrible Thing,” the first track on the album literally flows right into “Gossip”—the second track—without a hitch. “Finders Keepers” is a youthful love/breakup track that cleverly plays on the old saying “finders keepers, loser’s weepers.” “Jealous Minds” mixes heart-thumping guitar with clever lyrics that go a little something like “You could be the ghost in my hall” and “I could be the fly on your wall.” “Take Off Your Colours” is deservedly the title track of the album. It really is the epitome of the tone and feel of the entire album. “You’ve Made Your Bed, So Sleep In It” is another example of how this band takes your average, day-to-day cliché phrase and flips it on its side to make a great song and great song title.

    Another nice touch to the album are the two acoustic versions of “Save it For the Bedroom” and “Finders Keepers” that conclude Take Off Your Colours.

    Boys and girls alike will be hit right in the gut with this emotion-ridden album, there is no doubt about it. So if you’ve just gone through a bad breakup, if the girl of your dreams isn’t giving you the time of day in the halls at school or if you’re just a happy contented gal or fellow, you will pick up this album and blast it out of your surround sound speakers (or your car, either is equally acceptable) too.

  6. Our Lady Peace’s Latest Release “Burn, Burn”

    August 6, 2009 by Jackie

    Our Lady Peace's album cover "Burn Burn"When you hear the name Our Lady Peace, a little bell probably goes off in your brain, right? Let me take you back to 2002 and a song called “Somewhere Out There.” Sound familiar? Of course it does.

    Fast forward to 2009—July 21, 2009 to be exact—and band members Raine Maida (lead vocals), Duncan Coutts (bass), Jeremy Taggart (drums) and Steve Mazur (guitar) are celebrating the release of Burn Burn, the bands 7th studio album and 1st release since 2005.

    With an eclectic mix of mellow, upbeat, and unusual, Burn Burn is a true “alternative” record. Starting with “All You Did Was Save My Life,” a sarcastic and catchy pop/rock tune, the album flows to “Dreamland,” which is reminiscent of their previous sound.

    “Monkey Brains,” is undoubtedly the stand-out track on the album, if not by the name alone. The lyrics are fantastically disturbing, referring to “eating monkey brains.” Then the band throws in another surprise around the 3 minute mark when the song jolts to a halt and becomes a mellow acoustic ballad, before returning to the minor-key, oddly-arranged instrumental from the beginning of the song.

    “Escape Artist” employs some nice choral effects on the vocals, giving it a great, full sound. “Refuge” verges on country with its arrangement, with a dash of new wave keyboard and rock guitar included.

    “Never Get Over You” brings in the ballad portion of the program and is definitely the emotional heart of the album. The real, honest-to-goodness rock sound can be found on “White Flags” and “Paper Moon,” which is an angsty conclusion to the record.

    Frontman Maida says Burn Burn is a new start to the familiar for the band. He says Our Lady Peace has “come full circle and the music is just stripped down, full of raw energy.”

    Burn Burn may not be a completely 360 degree drastic change to Our Lady Peace’s sound but what they have done with perfection is take the raw energy, a great mix of songs and a hint of their former sound and combine it to make a diverse and listen-friendly album that just about any listener will enjoy.

  7. Nightmare of You at The Knitting Factory

    July 17, 2009 by Jackie

    Brandon Reilly, Nightmare of you, by Stephanie SpearNightmare of You

    @ The Knitting Factory

    Hollywood, CA. July 11, 2009

    Before the show Steph was lucky enough to grab an

    interview with Brandon and Mike.

    You can check it out by clicking [here]. You can also check it out on our Addicted to Shows podcast.

    In anticipation of their latest release Infomaniac on August 4th, Nightmare of You rocked L.A. residents with a show on the Main Stage of the Knitting Factory in Hollywood this month.

    The New York City-based group was joined by opening acts Magic, Brian Bonz and Plushgun. Magic warmed up the audience first with their funky guitar riffs and powerful female vocalist. The band even came complete with conga drums, a rare sight for music that is not strictly reggae. Brian Bonz brought a great mellow vibe to the show, using only his incredible voice and an acoustic guitar. Bonz also got some laughs out of the crowd with his quirky sense of humor and self-deprecating jokes, alluding to physical similarities between he and Carrot Top and Louie Anderson. Plushgun rounded out the opening acts with a hyped-up and energetic set of synthesizer-driven tunes and glow sticks thrown out to the audience. The band made it pretty much impossible for any member of the audience not to move (even if it was just their feet).

    Band members Brandon Reilly (vocals/guitar), Joseph McCaffrey (guitar/vocals), Michael Fleischmann (drums) and Brandon Meyer (bass) played a set of 12 songs, almost all of which the devoted audience sung along to. Brian Bonz even joined the group on stage for several of the songs to contribute his tambourine skills.

    The band started the set with “Experimental Bed” off of Infomaniac. They continued with a mix of songs from Infomaniac and their previous releases, playing “Thumbelina” after zealous crowd members yelled their requests for it.

    A more unique aspect of the show was the interludes the band would play before each song. These snippets of sound came sans vocals, sounded very different than the song that would follow, and cannot be found on any of their albums (but they’ve become a signature at many of the band’s shows).
    Joe, Nightmare of You, By: Steph

    McCaffrey exerted every ounce of energy in his body into his guitar playing and never swayed from song 1 to song 12. Fleischmann, new to the group, showed off his superior drum skills while bouncing up and down energetically, often donning a huge and contagious smile on his face. Meyer smiled along with Fleischmann, plucking the bass ever-so-coolly. And Reilly, atypical of most lead singers, made the occasional witty banter remark between songs (even playing along with a very drunk audience member who was heckling the band) but for the most part, remained focused on the songs at hand. To match Nightmare of You’s haunting, eerie and even twisted lyrics, Reilly would even look up at the ceiling in such a parallel way when he sung/played, it literally gave me goose bumps.

    Their final song gave tribute to the powerhouse band these guys are. The flashing lights of the venue mixed with their instruments and movement all over the stage (Reilly paired up with Meyer and McCaffrey with Bonz and Fleischmann at the drum stand) was a musical coup d’etat, overtaking the audience and ending the show on an unforgettable note.

    Now I could sit here and spout off a laundry list of artists that Nightmare of You sounds like but a) that would take forever and b) none of them would be a fair comparison because this band has a sound that is all their own. Their set consisted of songs with funk guitar, reggae beats, pure rock, soft vocals, harder vocals and everything in between.

    Nightmare of You has set out on a tour all over the US, set to continue into August so if you want to witness their brilliancy firsthand, I suggest you make it out to a show. You will not be disappointed.

    You can find more photos of all the bands on our Myspace album [here].

  8. Like the Ocean’s debut album “The Endless and Unseen”

    July 13, 2009 by Jackie

    Like the Ocean, source: from California’s Bay Area, Like the Ocean has just completed their first full-length album entitled, The Endless and Unseen. Band members Eric Padilla (guitar/vocals), Jared Duke (bass), John Miller (guitar/vocals), and Kenny Padilla (drums) derived their aquatically-themed name from a lyric in their song “This is the Moment:” “sway and swell like the ocean.”

    Even with a name that seems to insinuate a certain kind of calm, the 11-track compilation is actually a pretty consistent mix of high-energy rock. Heavily filled with electric guitar and strong drum beats, from the get-go on The Endless and Unseen, you get a clear idea of what to expect from Like the Ocean on this album.

    “Lucy” has a classic rock vibe to it, allowing both Miller and Padilla to share the vocal reins.  Miller and Padilla actually do a good deal of vocal sharing on The Endless and Unseen, a nice departure and something uncharacteristic of most bands.

    “Won’t You Listen” slows it down just a little, with Miller playing a little more of a funk-style of guitar. “Afterglow” is probably the most mellow song on the album. It’s mainly acoustic guitar-driven until about 2 minutes into the tune when the electric guitar and tambourine come in.

    There is one word that comes to mind when I think of Like the Ocean’s music: contagious. Their melodies, their instrumentals are all extremely and consistently contagious. If you’re looking for a song about summer romance or a slow ballad to dance to with your sweetheart, this isn’t the album for you. This is actually one of the few albums I’ve heard in a long time that consists completely of 100% upbeat and charged-up music.

  9. Trevor Davis @ The Gypsy Den

    July 6, 2009 by Jackie

    Trevor Davis, Source:

    Musician Trevor Davis, a San Diego native, came out to the OC last month to perform an acoustic set at the Gypsy Den coffee house in Sana Ana, California.

    With a voice powerful enough to rival the pipes of the soulful greats to more recent acts like Gavin DeGraw, it’s surprising Trevor Davis is not a household name already.

    Davis played an eclectic mixture of songs from his previous two albums (Seven Days and Nothing Ringing True) but started off with a great mellow cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” After that, he dared to cover The Beatles “Something,” which – though lacking the infamous harmony since Davis was performing solo—was still delivered with the same emotion and intensity The Beatles did with theirs.

    He continued with “Arrowplane” from Never Ringing True and explained its reference to a long-distance relationship.

    Later he played a cover of “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne for his mom who was in the audience that night.

    Davis finished his set with a few more songs off of Sevens Days and Nothing Ringing True. He also announced that the Gypsy Den set would be his last in the Orange County area for awhile, since he will be moving to Seattle in August.

    If you could fit it in a nutshell, seeing a Trevor Davis performance is like watching a vocal great, mixed with a comedian (i.e. discussions about polarized sunglasses) with even a little dancer mixed in there (he doesn’t merely stand there with a guitar and sing). His vocal range mirrors that of Prince and Michael Jackson with high high notes, and low low notes.

    For those of you in Washington, you should definitely check him out if he’s coming to a coffee house or music venue near you.