Album Review: One Headlight High – Show Me State of Mind


From simply a location standpoint, it doesn’t really get more Midwestern prairies than One Headlight High.  Hailing from Northwest Missouri (originally, Tarkio), a stone’s throw away from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, the pop-punk five-piece have been part of that region’s scene for five years.  Tyler McIntosh (vocals), Danny Hogue (guitar), Tim Miller (guitar), Ethan Piveral (bass) and Duston Noland (drums) put out their third release in February: the six-song Show Me State of Mind EP.

I suppose I just lied to you, because the EP actually has seven tracks.  The first one is something I don’t usually understand on albums: an “Intro”.  If that’s a skit or something it makes a little more sense, but here it’s under a minute of..well, an intro.  It has the makings of a cool song and then just ends, which is kinda disappointing.  That’s the only beef I have with this EP though, and ultimately it’s far from a deal-breaker.

“Juicebox Hero” is the second track and first proper song, and might be my favourite.  I really like how, to start the second verse, the bassline stops and really high, cool power chords get showcased.  It sounds awesome, and it’s funny how in music those almost toned-down parts can really add so much.  The heavier, palm-muted guitars that end the chorus are a nice touch too.  The title track is next, a more mid-tempo “put up or shut up”-type number that’s a good lyrical showcase.  “Star-Spangled Hammered” starts with some really good drums, and from a purely technical standpoint is perhaps the most badass song on the album.  Speaking of badass (!) “Billy Badass” is up next, a song about saying “screw it” and just letting loose.  It almost could be a call to fans too, with lyrics like “and I’m slowly learning that these nights are my medicine/so let’s kick off our shoes and let’s get to moving /get up, get up, I want to hear you screaming/get up, get up, you can’t escape the feeling we’ve got us into/I wanna make this count put our heart into everything we do”.  “All I Want For Xmas is a Face Tattoo” is a palm mute-happy track with echoed, dueling vocals that sing of needing a change.  Ith It’s a good one. (See I said “ith” as in a lisp, as in Mike Tyson as in face tattoo…you’re with me right?)  Finally, “Mysteries We Love” wraps the EP up with some more strong drumming, this time rollin’ on the hi-hat.  A slowed-down chorus sings of livin’ and changin’: “Cause I believe in mysteries we love, the answers lie within the questions that we’ve both become/and you will see this mystery like song, the smiles and the selfless sections that we once could/oh that we once could love”.

Overall, Show Me State of Mind is a strong offering.  The distortion is plentiful, there are some nice technical moments, it has some lyrical depth and something I can personally never get enough of: wordplay!  Tyler McIntosh’s voice reminds me of Mark Hoppus and Patrick Stump, and to really throw it back Lee Serviss of (sadly) now-defunct Sudbury, Ontario act Far From Heroes (who I can’t find so much as a Wikipedia page for, so here’s a song!)  One Headlight High are competing in the Warped Tour Battle of the Bands, so go fire off a vote or two and check them out – at Warped (hopefully!) or otherwise.

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Liner Notes: Thursday, May 28th


Riot Fest
lineups are out!  Headliners include Rancid, Modest Mouse, the reunited Alexisonfire, Iggy Pop, Snoop Dogg (which’ll work so well with so much of the lineup), No Doubt…just lots of sick, with unique artists (and performances from ones doing multiple dates!) and a second wave of announcements to come.  Denver is August 28th-30th, Chicago September 11th-13th and Toronto September 19th and 20th.

NME passes along how blink-182 are going through a “friendly divorce” with Tom DeLonge.  Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio has been touring with them, and says he’d love to be a permanent member.  They are talking about a new album with Skiba, so…do it!  As I always say, Matt Skiba improves everything.

Cloud Gavin say they don’t have anything planned at the moment, but they’ll totally tell you when.  So…updates are good, right?

Kilmore’s debut EP City Lights is out June 5th, but you can stream it right now at Exclaim!  The release show is the following night at The Seahorse Tavern in Halifax, which kicks off an Eastern Canadian summer tour.  They call themselves “riff-rock”, and if Led Zeppelin were a modern act, they’d probably sound like Kilmore – with always delightful female vocals don’tcha know!

Stacked Like Pancakes are doing a Kickstarter campaign for their new album This Is Us, which is halfway funded.  They’re looking for $9000 for the album itself, but the goal is $10,000 with $1000 going towards the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  The cause hits home for the group, as frontman Kellen McKay’s sister Courtney was diagnosed with the disease in 2007.  This Is Us is due out this fall, and hey they’re playing some East Coast Warped dates too!

WATERS are going on tour with MisterWives in the fall, beginning September 23rd in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and wrapping up November 6th in New York City.  Hit Vagrant’s site for all the dates, plus their new video for “What’s Real” and how they got robbed in San Francisco this week…well, that’s a buzzkill huh?  Hope they can recover at least some things.  The rest is good news though!

In Chart Attack’s own version of “Liner Notes” – we can still “OH SNAP!” that right? – they talk to Hamilton, Ontario post-punkers Black Baron about being all dreary and hardcore and such, plus there’s a stream of their debut album Abject Skin.

Alternative Press grabbed the video of All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth doing the national anthem before the Baltimore Orioles game a few nights back.  A doffing of the cap to you, AP.  (See what I did there?  BASEBALL REFERENCE!)

Finally, Fuse has their “35 Most Anticipated Summer 2015 Albums” and it includes Four Year Strong’s new self-titled, which is out this coming Tuesday.  Muse’s Drones (June 8th), Sorority Noise’s Joy, Departed (June 16th) and Refused’s Freedom (June 29th) also make an appearance, and there are lots of great choices overall.  Music AND summer right!?

Music Is Universal: Also Great In Other Languages!

I was hoping to go to Quebec City this coming weekend for the Memorial Cup – Canada’s major junior hockey championship tournament.  But, I needed next Monday off and sadly couldn’t get it.  What I planned to do, had I been able to go, was a post about music sung in other languages since the location reminded me.  But, since I can’t…screw it, let’s do it anyway!

When it comes to lyrics, they’re not as make-or-break for me as some people: I love a good lyric and sometimes can’t get past a bad one, but at the same time I don’t need to relate or anything.  I’m more about the music itself, especially since I can play a few instruments (poorly) and hear all the little things on the go – complete with air banding!  That’s likely why even if I don’t understand what’s being sung, I still like songs that aren’t in my native tongue of English.

Speaking of Quebec – and why wouldn’t we, it inspired the whole post! – there are lots of great French acts that don’t really get the recognition elsewhere in Canada.  Unless they sing in English too, they go largely unnoticed outside the province – and really that’s understandable.  Personally, I’m still down.  One of my favourite French-language artists is Marie-Mai, who has done stuff in English (she’s fluently bilingual) but sings mostly in French.  One of her best songs is still “Rien”, off her 2005 debut Inoxydable:

AND that uploader put Spanish subtitles!  Languages right!?  And who’s gonna complain about a beautiful woman dancing for 3 1/2 minutes!?  Not me!

There are a couple of cool sites for Quebec musical goodness, including Barricade Punk and Quebec Punk Scene.  Allons-y…to those sites!

Beyond French, Fuse had an article last week called “9 German Bands You Need To Hear Now”.  Apparently one is Die Arzte:

Don’t say “NEIN!” to that stuff either!

So…you’re with me right?  Music really is universal in the sense that everyone loves it and we all understand instruments, and regardless of language can hear the passion in vocals.  Not sure how you feel, but personally I’m always up for music in other languages.  Hell, it usually takes me forever to memorize English lyrics anyway: air banding and stuff takes a lot of focus.

Profile: Phantogram

Last summer I got a new car, and with it came a preview of SiriusXM satellite radio.  It has lots of good channels for all genres, including rock, and one I frequently enjoyed was Alt Nation.  That was my first experience with Greenwich, New York electro-rockers Phantogram.  Alt Nation routinely played “Howling At The Moon” – which could use more cowbell (LOL) – and “Black Out Days” – which has a phenomenal video – and the band really stuck out to me.  Lately those songs have been back in my head, so let’s talk about them shall we!?

Phantogram are Josh Carter (vocals/guitar) and Sarah Barthel (vocals/keyboard).  Friends since their pre-teen days, they formed in 2007 as Charlie Everywhere before changing to their current name in 2009 when they signed their first record deal with BBE Records.  They have four EPs (2009’s self-titled and Running From the Cops, 2011’s Nightlife and 2013’s self-titled – again!) and two full-lengths (2009’s Eyelid Movies and 2014’s Voices, which the aforementioned songs appear on).  The duo have played many festivals including Austin City Limits, Bumbershoot and Coachella, have and will apparently again collaborate with Big Boi from OutKast and are just pretty interesting you know?

One thing I will say to this point though, is the songs Barthel sings are definitely better than the ones Carter does.  I don’t entirely even mean because I like her voice and probably (read: totally) have a crush on her, but just the music tends to be better too.  Carter only takes the lead on two songs on Voices (“Never Going Home” and “I Don’t Blame You”), which – no offense! – is probably for the best.

So, if you like your music weird, pretty and of course rockin’, listen to Phantogram.  They’re doing several tour dates this summer too – you should go see ’em if you can.  Phantastic!

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Publicity: Doin’ It And Doin’ It And Doin’ It Well

“Hey jerkass Kevin, are you about to do a post on proper publicity while, on a rock blog, referencing an LL Cool J song in the title!?”  LISTEN, I WANTED A PUN AND THAT WAS THE FIRST LYRIC I THOUGHT OF.  Comedic license please!!!!

Publicity is really – aside from making, you know, good music – the most important thing artists do.  You can have the world’s greatest songs, but if people don’t know about them you won’t get far.  So much of it seems obvious, but there are things artists, managers, labels and publicists do that just aren’t ideal.  Now I’m by no means an expert, but the TPS inbox is well-stocked with submissions and I wanna touch on some things to keep in mind when you’re reaching out here or anywhere else.

The law of averages says if you get your name out to enough people you’ll get bites, but the most essential thing about publicity is targeting.  If you’re reaching out to a blog, website, magazine, radio station, whatever, make sure it’s an outlet that covers what you do.  Take time to really check it out and see what they’re about, so you know if they’ll be receptive to what you’re about.  TPS is a rock-centric blog – and this might be partially my fault because the billing of “alternative” can be interpreted many ways  – but I’ll often get submissions from electro, folk, R&B and other genres that, while perfectly enjoyable outside the blog, aren’t a fit.  I’ve e-mailed back, thanking them for thinking of TPS but saying we’re not really compatible, but on the other hand if they read a few posts they’d realize that.  Just make sure, because there are outlets that get way more e-mails than TPS does, and when they’re checking, if they see a word that sounds the “incompatible” alarm they might not even open it.

Another thing about reaching out is, if you want something specific, say so.  Often times I’ll read an e-mail and think “okay, how do I want to cover this particular artist/song?”.  If you ask for a review, interview or whatever then we can do that.  Be direct.  Now, don’t worry if you don’t have anything specific in mind, but it’s helpful sometimes.  I can’t speak for everyone else, but on this blog all artists are equal and anything goes.

Once you’ve made the connection and gotten featured, one thing – and this sounds ridiculous to say – is, promote it yourself.  It’s not usually an issue, as most artists and/or publicists are happy and quick to share whatever it is on social media, their website, etc.  But, the odd time it doesn’t happen, and it’s weird.  One, because just like you appreciate being plugged, so do the outlets.  Even when there’s no formal partnership/sponsorship, it’s entirely appropriate and fair.  And, why the hell wouldn’t you?  Anytime you’re covered in a substantial, positive light you should be highlighting that.  Whether it’s a smaller indie blog like The Perfect Scene (and yeah full disclosure, it’s happened here before) or NME, the more you show off the better: think of your portfolio!  It’s on said outlet to let you know when your feature is ready too, whether it’s via e-mail, phone call, social media or a combination.  If you’re not even getting so much as a tag on Twitter or something, well that’s just fucked.

Speaking of social media, targeting is essential there too.  I know on Twitter people tend to follow 700 people at once in hopes of a follow back, but if you’re doing that ensure that they’re gonna be able to help you.  Follow appropriate outlets, similar artists, and fans that like your kind of music.  Again, it’s just a matter of checking things out first – it only takes a couple of minutes, if that.

They say any publicity is good publicity, and that’s largely true.  But, you’re gonna find way more success if you truly target your publicity and don’t blindly shoot yourself/your clients all over the place.  And you know, I can relate because I’m pretty experienced on that side of things: besides TPS I’ve worked in radio for ten years, including in Promotions/Marketing, and have reached out to people with press releases, interview requests and the like while getting them too.  I’m not God’s gift to the subject, but I do know what I’m talking about.  You’re always gonna make mistakes along the way, it’s part of learning.  Just when you do go on a press blast or anything, really think it through and make sure you’re not wasting your time: your efforts are too valuable for that.

Interview: Settle Your Scores

Really well-done pop-punk is one of life’s beautiful things.  Cincinnati, Ohio’s Settle Your Scores do just that, and kick it up a few notches with some nice surprises.  In the spirit of acts like Man Overboard, SYS also really embrace and play up their genre.  Christian Fisher (vocals), Ricky Uhlenbrock (guitar/vocals), Patrick Bryant (guitar), Caleb Smith (drums) and new bassist Jeffrey Borer (who’s so new he’s not even in the above picture!) have one EP, with a full-length being worked on as we speak.  Also as we speak, we – spoke!? – to the guys!

You call yourselves “pop-punk with balls”, and things like the double kick pedal really put them on display.  Where do those heavier influences come from?

All of our band members like a bunch of different heavy bands, but we would have to say Four Year Strong has the strongest (no pun intended) heavy influence on our music.

The band formed this past October, put out a self-titled EP in January and is working on a debut full-length.  With a such a short time gone by, was there a particular reason you didn’t just wait to debut with the full-length?

We wanted to give the fans a little taste of what we were going to release.  Also, recording the entire album didn’t fit into our schedules at the time.  But we can’t wait to drop it for everyone!

Speaking of the full-length, any idea about a release date?

As soon as we get it mixed and mastered we’ll have a better idea.  We’re aiming for late summer/early fall though!  It all depends on the production end of things.

Talk about the Cincinnati scene: what’s it like, and who do you guys especially enjoy from it?

Honestly, the scene has a lot of metal and indie bands and pop-punk isn’t that prevalent.  That being said, we plan on putting our town back on the pop-punk/easycore map.  The #EZRevival2k15 is going to hit Cincinnati hard.

A recent tweet said you guys turned down Taco Bell.  What the hell’s up with that????

We love T-Bell, but too much of it is dangerous as hell for 5 band bros traveling in one car.  We had already had it twice in those past few days!

With the May long weekend, we’re into unofficial summer in North America.  Besides the debut album, what does summer itself/the rest of 2015 have on tap for Settle Your Scores?

We plan on touring quite a bit.  We’ve got some shows lined up in the region, but we don’t want to announce them just yet!  And of course, we hope to get our album out by the end of the summer.  It all just depends on how quickly it gets produced!

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Track Listing: Sunday, May 17th

Yeah, no real theme on this one…just some choice tracks compiled for your enjoyment.  How great is music though right???

The Story So Far – “Nerve”

The Walnut Creek, California pop-punks release their self-titled third album on Tuesday.  This song was put out back in March as the first glimpse of it, and it – and the album itself, which you can stream in full by clicking the video link – is basically what you’d expect from The Story So Far.  I did find that some of the really fast parts have gone away on the new album, but if you like the band you won’t be disappointed.  As always, Parker Cannon’s impassioned vocals are the highlight.

Shooze – “Minimum Wages”

“Monday morning comes around so quick/especially when you work in a job that’s shit/and everyone above you looks down on you/cause you ain’t got a life from a life sniffing glue”.  Bleak, but of course when it comes from a ska-influenced band like Redditch, England’s Shooze it still sounds kinda happy, because ska.  This one has an easy tempo and large reggae vibe, with sultry saxophone nicely accenting things.  The three-piece describe themselves as ska, reggae, rock, alternative, dub, punk and bassline.  ALL YOUR SUBGENRES ARE BELONG TO SHOOZE.  It’s a fun sound, as it tends to be.

Yonder – “Harborview”

Go “Yonder” (ahhhh) and you’ll find the indie rock mecca that is Seattle, Washington.  If you’re already there, well…that was still “BIG LAFFS” at least right?  This three-piece, with a self-titled EP behind them, are releasing the Harborview 7″ July 6th.  This track features distorted bass and largely clean guitar, which is a pretty cool switcheroo for sure.  It’s uptempo in sound, and something you can download for free via Yonder’s Soundcloud.  Also, you can pre-order Harborview in a 300-copies-only “translucent blue” vinyl, because the Vinyl Renaissance (TM?) is in full force.

Careless Sons – “Good Morning Your Majesty”

Back in March, the London, England indie rockers released the deluxe version of their Carbon Dating EP, which features their first two singles (A and B sides) along with the four-song EP.  This song is part of the EP itself, and sets the drums aside for a beautiful four-minute strum about lost love.  Dickon Collinson’s vocals are phenomenal, and definitely the standout part of the band.  These guys are planning some new music in the next couple of months too, so we’ll look out for that.

Pop Noir – “Don’t Fool Yourself”

Twin indie (Twindie?) duo Luke and Joe McGarry come from Huntington Beach, California by way of Manchester, England.  This very single comes out on Tuesday, and it’s lyrically clever with simple-but-effective chorus guitar work that provides a good beat to dance to.

Like Mike – “Knuckles Deep”

Finally, we’ll take it back with this Marietta, Georgia pop-punk five-piece.  “Knuckles Deep” came out back in August, and starts out fast before settling into more of a mid-tempo song with multiple changes.  The end features cool, echoing vocals as the “lost love” subject matter comes to realize it’s likely self-inflicted.  Like Mike are also working on a new EP, and a ridiculous (in a good way) follow on Twitter.  They’re overall Georgia peachy! (See what happened there?)

Scenematography: Propeller: A Vans Skateboarding Video

But…this isn’t…music???

No, but it’s alternative culture, and you know how we like to do that up on TPS too.  And, it’s the first time we’ve reviewed a feature-length video so…milestone!  After exclusive premieres in various cities, this month officially brought the release of Propeller: A Vans Skateboarding Video.  It’s the seminal Southern California company’s first feature-length skate video, an hour-long showcase of Vans skaters that’s basically porn if you’re into this kinda thing.

Directed by Greg HuntPropeller brings a multitude of classic and modern skaters together.  It features cameos from people like Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi, Jeff Grosso, Ray Barbee, John Cardiel and Tony Alva.  You also get a ton of full showcases: Chima FergusonRowan Zorilla, Tony Trujillo, Elijah Berle, Chris Pfanner, Curren Caples, Daniel Lutheran, Gilbert Crockett, Andrew Allen, Dustin Dollin, Geoff Rowley, Pedro Barros, Kyle Walker, and how about Anthony Van Engelen?  Omar Hassan’s in there, Jason Dill…it’s almost the entire Vans skate team.

As you can imagine, these guys are pretty good and Propeller has an assload of sick tricks.  You’ll see sticking to business signs, grinding really impressively long rails, and JUMPING ONTO A BOARD SPINNING ON A POLE….AND LANDING IT.  I almost shit my pants on that one.  All of it is done to a soundtrack of largely classic tunes from artists like Iggy Pop, Circle Jerks and T.S.O.L.

If I have one criticism of Propeller, it’s that I thought there’d be more to it.  It’s basically an hour of highlights, with no real dialogue except Geoff Rowley talking about what he does to get a skate in.  I was hoping for more of that – true documentary stuff, with interviews and profiles as well as just watching them skate.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very cool video, but it left me wanting too.

Before I had a car to get around I had a skateboard, but beyond that I never took the sport up because I would’ve broken every bone in my body.  But, I’ve always found it very cool to watch and envy those with skill.  The culture is awesome, and when you combine that with the fact that I have enough Vans apparel to do commercials for them (and I would, so…call me?  Give me clothing and money to be the Vans guy?  I’m in, seriously.) Propeller was a video I had to watch.  If you’re a diehard skateboarding fan, you’ll basically orgasm.  If you’re more casual, you’ll still get a big kick out of this.   You can grab Propeller on iTunes now, so give it a watch why don’tcha.

Palm Trees and Bloodlines: Why Are Genres From Where They’re From?

Do you ever wonder why certain areas breed certain genres?  Not just that it happens, but the reasoning behind it.  I do.  Like how punk bands are often suburban, metal bands from smaller towns/cities, hipster-friendly indie from major cities, etc.  Outside rock, it’s easy to see why country and hip-hop come from where they do, but for the music we talk about on TPS it’s not as easy.

One I think I can safely guess why is punk tending to be suburban: people who grow up in the ‘burbs tend to feel trapped, and bored of their home and its bland cookie-cutterness.  In response, you get faster, frantic music.  I’m suburban myself, so I can relate to growing up like that.  And, if I wrote music it’d likely be punk-influenced.  Science!  (Side note: despite the way I felt growing up, I’m actually pretty proud of my hometown and being suburban.  The land of malls, highways, identical houses and little culture just outside a major city is who I am: someone who experienced a lot, but largely outside the centre of attention.)

When it comes to metal and smaller areas, do you think that’s the same “trapped” feeling suburbanites get, but it kind of festers more because it’s even more remote?  Metal tends to be angrier and darker than punk, and there’s less skate culture in smaller places so that could be a reason the music isn’t faster?  As for hipster-friendly indie, well major markets are where it’s happenin’ yo!  They’re always ahead of the curve and the epicentre for stuff and things.  That sounds more sardonic than I mean it to, but you know the big-city types can have an aura about them.  As for the sound of indie rock, pop etc…maybe it’s from a melting pot of people: the locals, suburbanites and small-towners who co-exist and bring their influences to the writing sessions.

I don’t know.  You could be reading this and thinking “1) what the hell are you talking about Kevin? and/or 2) who gives a flying F?”, but this is the kinda shit that goes through my mind.  Perhaps it’s less the music nerd than geography nerd in me: maybe I’m just subconsciously combining two passions.  Regional genres have to start somewhere though, and it just makes you wonder what the trigger was.  Why was I able to make that Sugarcult-related comedy gold post title pun?

Interview: Palaye Royale

Palaye Royale have accomplished a ton for an unsigned group: winning an MTV competition, being featured in a Samsung commercial, working with The Matrix…and all this before even releasing a full-length.  Remington Leith (vocals), Sebastian Danzig (guitar/organ) and Emerson Barrett (drums) are equally into fashion, in fact dubbing themselves “fashion art-rock”.  They’re North American, but they remind of British acts like Oasis and Arctic Monkeys.  This is their story. *Law & Order sound effect*

You guys are Las Vegas-based, Toronto-originated and dual Canadian-American citizens.  What’s the family/other history that gives you the dual status?

Sebastian Danzig was born in Toronto on Canada’s 125th birthday.  Remington Leith and Emerson Barrett have dual citizenship from birth.

The band formed in 2008 under a different name, before adopting Palaye Royale in 2011.  Why the name change?

We weren’t being true to ourselves.  We always were leaning to rock music and we decided to make the change because that’s the type of music we were writing and were passionate about.

Your 2012 debut single “Morning Light” featured production from The Matrix.  How did an unsigned act hook up with such a big name?

A mutual friend sent them one of our videos and they were very impressed.  They set up a meeting and we played acoustic for them and the rest is history.

Last year you won MTV’s “Musical March Madness”, beating names like Coldplay and Linkin Park and becoming the first unsigned act ever to win.  How enthusiastic and dedicated is your fan base?

Our fan base is more on the lines of a cult.  A lot of them stayed home from school just to vote all day for us.

From the music to shooting videos, you handle everything yourselves.  It doesn’t seem like it’s out of necessity, so what makes you choose to stay fiercely DIY?

It’s simple we don’t trust anyone else with our career besides us.

Fashion is a big part of Palaye Royale.  What passion came first – the music, or that?

The music always comes first of course but we believe it is very important to present yourself and the way we dress allows us to do that.

You’re working on your debut full-length.  How will it differ from The Ends Beginning EP, and do you have a release date in mind?

We constantly grow and our music progresses.  This album really shows that and we plan on releasing before the year’s end.

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