The London-dwelling, Kansas-born indie pop artist Piney Gir says, “Gold Rules is a reminder to all to live in the moment. Sometimes it’s better to be a grasshopper than an ant and seize the day instead of storing for winter all the time, because what are you waiting for; what if winter never comes? You can’t take it with you! I tried to create this sort of grungy choir of angels in the intro-outro to symbolise a rock n roll heaven – I hope that comes across!” Continue reading “Piney Gir Releases “Gold Rules” Video”
The vaporizer is one of the most simple that we have had the chance to review. Where there are a number of settings or other steps (filling the product, ratcheting in the correct temperature), all one needs to do when it comes to the Pax Vaporizer is charge it up and to place the herbal blend into the product. Continue reading “Pax Vaporizer by Ploom Review”
Jun 23 The Space (Chicago, IL)
Jun 24 The Basement (Columbus, OH)
Jun 26 Mixtape Venue (Grand Rapids, MI)
Jun 28 Firebird (St. Louis, MO)
Jun 29 Record Bar (Kansas City, MO)
Jul 03 El Corazon (Seattle, WA)
Jul 04 Backstage Bar (Vancouver, BC)
Jul 06 Bottom of the Hill (San Francisco, CA)
Jul 07 Anthology (San Diego, CA)
Jul 08 Wasted Space (Las Vegas, NV)
Jul 09 Troubador (Los Angeles, CA)
The band has built a fervent following without big marketing plans or label budgets to make their mark but completely on their own. “I was so excited to see that people connected with our music,” she explains. “I was really in shock and I just don’t know what to make of it. It’s exciting!” Their current batch of songs such as the airy and uber-melodic “Happily Ever After” and the soaringly epic “Light A Way” has racked an astouding 2.2 million plays to date and 160,000 downloads on PureVolume. As a thank you to their fans for being so great, Rachel and partner Trevor Kelly released a collection of songs they had compiled which they called “Old Demos” free on the internet (it can be downloaded at http://heiswe.bandcamp.com) which has racked up 50,000 downloads to date.
Hard at work over the past few months on their upcoming release (more details shortly), He Is We has assembled an impressive group of producers to help them harness their sound. Working diligently and intently with Seattle producers Casey Bates (Chiodos, Portugal. The Man, Foxy Shazam) and Aaron Sprinkle (The Almost, Eisley, Pedro The Lion, Mae), the band will be finishing up recording next week in New York City with Dan Romer (Ingrid Michelson) before heading out on the road.
Originally co-workers at Ted Brown Music, a music instrument and equipment store based in Tacoma, WA, Rachel and Trevor forged a powerful songwriting chemistry. “I’m more into indie pop, melodic metal and girlie stuff. Trevor is into hardcore metal and talks about bloody things,” she laughs. “When you spend a lot of time with someone and you don’t end up hating them, chances are you’ll become great friends.” And from this friendship, great melodic indie pop was born. The result is He Is We.
Khold is currently on hiatus, which sucks. However, the music that was recorded for “Krek” shows the band at a slightly happier time. The fury in which the band drenches their compositions on “Krek” is something new for most metal fans, as the band during tracks like “Blod Og Blek” uses a very sludgy sound to get their point across. Khold thus comes forward with a new hybrid of metal that is simultaneously very accessible while still being gut-wrenchingly intense.
It is the culmination of a style that has been worked on by lighter acts such as Corrosion of Conformity and Fu Manchu as well as more metal acts like Pantera, and brother, is it great. The band can even insert the bass guitar into a major role during tracks (such as “Innestengt”) and not sound as if the band is just trying to cop the thunder from acts like Primus or To My Surpise. At all points, the band feels fresh and new; the music that is on “Krek” is something that was formed only from Khold’s minds, instead of strategic marketing. The disc is very short and fast; the entirety of these ten tracks only makes it to the thirty-four minute mark. The good thing about this is that the replay value of the disc is high. The confidence exerted by Khold on tracks like “Oskorei” will be endearing to any fan of metal. This is not a blind throwing-together of elements but rather something much more focused and ready to rend. When the band stretches out a composition, as is the case with tracks like the aforementioned “Oskorei”, there is a much higher potential for the track to falter.
However, the band knows what they are doing and can use these higher levels of repetition completely to their advantage. Khold may be taking some time off as we speak, but their albums are still blueprints for what individuals should be doing in the metal genre. Each track on “Krek” is perfectly polished like a pebble in a tumbler; while the band may never make it onto Headbanger’s Ball, those that are into great metal should search out their local CD stores for this disc and add it to their collections immediately. “Krek” is the album that, if I had a car, I would be bumping at the highest levels; full of fury and nuance, Khold blends all influences and styles to come up with something delightful and new.
Top Tracks: Byrde, Oskorei
Khold – Krek / 2006 Candlelight / 10 Tracks / http://www.khold.com / http://www.candlelightrecordsamerica.com / Reviewed 10 August 2006
Khierstin used to be a teenage model, and this fact really makes sense when one hears the opening strains of the title track. What comes forth is an inoffensive, innocuous brand of pop music that is vocally-led, so much so that the instrumentation present is pushed to the background. Each of the tracks on “Lost In This” sounds similar to what has been common fare in popular music – that is, tracks like “Wicked Game” have similarities to both Kelly Clarkson and more established stars like Sheryl Crow. The rock (instead of rap or R&B) focus to Khierstin’s music is a welcome change of pace, even if the shrill, noodling guitars are tracks like the aforementioned “Wicked Game” sound puny when compared to the tremendously-produced sound of eir vocals. The fact that the cover is of Chris Isaak’s one hit should not change any person’s opinion of Khierstin, as one will not be aware that the song is even a cover until that time when the unmistakable chorus comes to fruition.
This twenty-minute introduction to Khierstin is a little short, but the straight-forward pop that ey creates throughout is not hard to pick up on and decipher by the time a track like “Reaching” begins. Finishing off eir disc with “About You”, Khierstin models eir sound ever so slightly to incorporate both a harder brand of rock and even a minor amount of dance music. There is still the overall pop sound to the track, but the strong vocal presence of Khierstin is enough to make listeners reminiscence about the era in popular radio when sirens like Shirley Manson and Veruca Salt were dominant. In a disc that is not known for the virtuosity of its instrument, the disco-like beat played by the drums accentuates what is actually an exciting and vital guitar line.
For someone that had such a livelihood in a field that was as far away from music as one can get, this debut EP is surprisingly well done and catchy. Many individuals are not able to make the move from fashion/modeling to music (Rupaul, for one), and to so successfully jump from one style to another shows a talent to Khierstin that is shocking, to say the least. Keep listening in for Khierstin, as there is no doubt that this former model will be able to take eir backing band to new heights, proving the old maxim “Women should be seen and not heard” wrong at all levels.
Top Track: Wicked Game
Khierstin – Lost In This / 2005 Self / 5 Tracks / http://www.khierstin.com / Reviewed 09 July 2005
From Italy, Kharisma play a style of muted punk that has a definite eye towards the early nineties subset of punk rock. Starting out their demo disc with their theme song, “Kharisma” has compelling vocals laid down by GD, but a pretty weak electric guitar holds Kharisma back from really achieving their potential. This lack of guitar energy is endemic to the entire disc, and really is something to be addressed before getting farther along their career. The vocals laid down by GD have all of the power of Motley Crue, Fear, or even the New York Dolls, but the recording on this demo is compressed, making it sound as if it is on the radio even when one listens to it on the best systems. Finally pulling themselves for a moment out of the muck created by the first few tracks on the disc, “Arrogance” ends with a sizzling solo worthy of practically any hair-rock band of the eighties. While each of the tracks on this demo are masterfully arranged, it is during “Rubber Man” where Kharisma finally finds gold in the sense that they have a hard-rocking and catchy song, free from a lot of the repetitive guitar that oppresses this disc.
The building up of the guitar on “Rubber Man”, as well as the additional voices supplied by Guerrino and Sergio are just two of the key points why the track is in the running for the best on the disc. Heartfelt at times, recklessly rocking at others, Kharisma is a band not content by trotting out the same song over and over again. There are definite limitations to this disc that have already been mentioned, but Kharisma is capable enough to go beyond these and find greatness. In a minor nitpick, the two versions of “Jealousy” placed so close together really turn off possible listeners each though they are played differently – perhaps a better idea would have been to throw Jealousy (fast) on early, and have the superior Jealousy (slow) close out the disc.
Kharisma is not immediately able to be pigeon-holed, and actually are happy boldly blazing their own way with this demo. Intelligently mixing the best of good old rock with the quicker tempo and more audible bass of punk rock, Kharisma is able to make a brilliant, punchy type of music. Sure, there are issues with this demo, but nothing that will immediately turn off potential listeners.
Top Tracks: Jealousy (Slow)
Kharisma – Demo / 2004 GD Seventy Eight / 9 Tracks / http://www.kharisma.it / <"http://www.gd78.com">http://www.gd78.com / Reviewed 31 July 2004
I forget, is a two track album a proclamation to the world that the band feels that they can hang in with such storied acts as Klaus Schultze and Jethro Tull, or does it just say that the band is a bunch of pretentious assholes? One thing that can be said about bands that use such drawn out tracks (the shorter of the two tracks is still a shade over eighteen minutes) is that typically, they are very deliberate and methodical about their arrangements. I guess when the “pretentiousness” comes in is when an act goes for tracks of that length without having a clear game plan in place.
“Capture” is a track that has a structure to it, although the music itself may just be spread out enough that it only becomes obvious after someone is done listening to the track. The atonal screaming that comes to have such a large role in “Capture” really works well with the simplistic (at times just being chords) guitar lines, full of distortion that provide the bulk of the track. The one thing that is really striking about the bulk of “Capture’s” runtime is that Khanate comes through and does not change their general sound much at all. Many of the bands that do have extended tracks really tend to break these behemoths into smaller, more-digestible “movements”, but this is a full-blown, disjointed metal “epic” if I ever heard one.
When music does not really change over the course of eighteen minutes, it really shows listeners that Khanate can change up their arrangements continually even if there aren’t the typical aural goo-gahs to distract. Immersion may be necessary to properly get into “Capture & Release”, but this does not have the same compelling nature as something like Guapo’s “Black Oni” or (to use a prior example) Jethro Tull’s “Thick As A Brick”. Not to say that Khanate should pick up the flutes or anything, but there was a certain amount of audience involvement in both of the prior examples that is largely absent from this disc. Much of the same happens during “Release”, but the lighter distortion present really works with the screamed, gritty vocals on the track. From a purely technical viewpoint, Khanate’s “Capture & Release” should be essential listening for anyone who wants to know how to properly layout and arrange a song. For those individuals who want this to fulfill a noise or metal role, they should probably look towards a more accessible band for their desires.
Top Track: Release
Khanate – Capture & Release / 2005 Hydra Head / 2 Tracks / http://www.ideologic.org / http://www.hydrahead.com / Reviewed 16 September 2005
I should have guessed when the first track on “Always Never The Same”, “Tree of Night” started up, that this band had been around for a few years as it contained some of the most solid instrumentation that I’ve ever heard from a ska band. Every part of this eight-piece is given equal time on this disc, and one can hear drums ,brass, bass, and guitars all kicking in behind the very Flight 180-like vocals of Jen Cavazos. There is no time on “Always Never The Same” where the bands needs to stop and get their breath; tracks like “Days of the Week” show the incredible talent of DJ Aleman’s bass, sputtering and fighting through the track with all the talent of a Matt Freeman. If that was not enough, tracks like “Going 2 A Show” even notches that general sound up further, with the brass lines going into overdrive in what could only be a nod to pits the world over.
While the tracks on “Always Never The Same” have the same general sound threaded throughout, there are some distinctly different influences fueling Kevin Goes 2 College. The harder Bad Religion/Welt-influenced guitars of “Guilty Pleasure” keep the disc fresh even as some of the other elements (horn and vocals come to mind) stay relatively the same . The only thing that could be construed as weak on this EP is the final track, “Reflections” – a slower-tempo track that really does not contribute to the continually-innovative style of music that had marked the previous six cuts on this EP. Clocking in well under twenty-minutes, a full-length CD is essential to sate my desire to hear more music from these individuals.
Kevin Goes 2 College seems to be well on their way to breaking into the enervated ska scene, which experienced a mass exodus after the popularity of bands like Reel Big Fish and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones began to wane in the late nineties. There is nothing to say against the possibility that Kevin Goes 2 College could be the purveyor of a new resurgence of ska, much like the shocking ascension of pop-punk after Sum 41 was able to infuse metal with a rapidly-aging, Blink-ravaged style of punk. Look for the band to break into the national consciousness in the next year or two, undoubtedly helped by that litany of bands they’ve opened for since their inception, bands like The Toasters and MU330.
Top Track: Guilty Pleasure
Kevin Goes 2 College – Always Never The Same / 2004 Skarnival/ 7 Tracks / http://www.kevingoes2college.com / http://www.skarnival.com / Reviewed 02 May 2005
Kate Kennedy plays a very guitar-heavy type of looking-back rock. The new-folk of a track like “The Blues Are Exhausted” has Kennedy singing in the vein of Suzanne Vega and other nineties alternative singers, as the acoustic guitars play a folk-style that screams 2006 looking back at 1936. The guitars play interesting harmonies during “The Blues Are Exhausted”, and this is only helped by the inclusion of percussion during the second half of the track.
The track stretches all the way out to the six minute mark, but Kennedy is smart enough to have enough different things going that individuals will not feel like they are slighted in the least. “Pilgrim Prodigal” starts out with Kennedy providing the harmonies, and the acoustic playing second fiddle. This switch-up is interesting, and it is only because of Kennedy’s talented voice that the track actually succeeds. The disc is slow, and only a specific subset of music fans will honestly be able to appreciate what Kennedy does on “Circle, Spiral, Line”; individuals that like Vetiver or DiCristina Stairbuilders will easily be able to pick up this album and get behind the music that Kennedy does. The great thing about this album is that Kennedy does not even have to stay in key for the majority of the track; the bouncing in and out of key during tracks shows that Kennedy is human, and gives this disc an aura that few other discs are lucky enough to have.
“Sometime Circles Become Lines” is a track that the guitars come back in full force; while the vocals do not give up the step, it is obvious that the guitars are dictating where the track ultimately goes. Kate Kennedy has the talent to be the next big, indie thing; I can see songs from “Circle, Spiral, Line” being lapped up in much the same way the Tegan and Sara and The Dresden Dolls were in the last few years. Kate Kennedy provides a fun, emotional album in “Circle, Spiral, Line”; kudos has to go to Barely Bias for signing eir and giving eir a stage to shine on. Kate Kennedy will be big soon enough; one just needs to listen to tracks like “Sometimes Circles Become Lines” to see the level of talent that ey is working with. Pick this album up, even if you do not normally like this style of acoustic-led indie rock.
Top Tracks: Sometimes Circles Become Lines, W(Rest)le
Kate Kennedy – Circle, Spiral, Line / 2006 Barely Bias / 11 Tracks / http://www.katekennedy.com / http://www.barelybias.com / Reviewed 01 May 2007
The echoing of Kelley’s vocals during “High Boots” is interesting. The rarities aspect of this disc means that the tracks are collected through the entirety of Kelley’s life. The production of some of these tracks are a little suspect, but one can hear early that Kelley has an ear for this music. One of the things that individuals can see immediately with “Some Sucker’s Life” is that the tracks are not oriented in a chronological way.
If this was done, things would be a lot easier for listeners. It would be nice to see a progression of Kelley’s stone. As it is, the tracks move from 1995 to 1993 to 1996 and then 2004, without any rhyme or reason. As it is, the tracks do not enjoy any real cohesion; the songs are all Kelley tracks, but they represent different period in Kelley’s life, and thus are fueled by different influences and styles of music. At some point, all of the tracks are impressive and could possibly make it on the top 1001 of all time countdowns that are done during Memorial Day by all sorts of radio stations. Using a Spanish influence during “Burnin’ For You”, this Blue Oyster Cult track is made into something that could only be a Kelley song; the whispered-out vocals present during the track will endear listeners to eir specific style. Before hearing “Some Sucker’s Life”, I had no idea who Kelley was or what eir even sounded like.
This album may be a collection of B-sides and rarities, but these could all be lead-off singles. One need just listen to tracks like “Talk Away”, a foray into country music, and hear that Kelley is a star that has managed to operate under the radar for nearly 15 years. There is little in the way that could be improved during “Some Sucker’s Life”. Kelley shows listeners that what would normally be the weakest type of tracks for artists can be songs that actually surpass even the hits by other artists. I would like to hear exactly where Kelley is going with the next album, and compare it to the tracks that are “Some Sucker’s Life”. Here’s to hoping Kelley is around the scene for that much longer than “Part II” of “Some Sucker’s Life” can be cut, with the results being as strong as what individuals can find on this album.
Top Tracks: High Boots, Talk Away
Paula Kelley – Some Sucker’s Life Part I / 2006 Stop, Pop and Roll / 16 Tracks / http://www.paulakelley.com / Reviewed 04 June 2006