Liner Notes: Monday, November 30th


It’s Cyber Monday and the deals are plentiful, including music.  Today’s winner is Punchline though, who have 90% off their stuff.  Of course, they had to hilariously jack the prices up for that.  Their new album Thrilled is also out on Friday, so look for that.

Woven In Hiatus’ new song “Dirty Rose” is out, and has a lyric video.  It’s a nice acoustic number featuring guest vocals from Kayleigh Frampton.  The New Hampshire act’s debut Roam is out December 12th.

Rock On The Range’s 2016 lineup has been announced.  The festival’s tenth year features headliners including the Red Hot Chili Peppers as well as Bring Me The Horizon, At The Drive-In, Parkway Drive (who have an oxymoronic name!), Miss May I and many more.  It goes May 20th-22nd in Columbus, Ohio.

Over at Alternative Press you can read an update from The Ghost Inside, who got in a bus accident on the 19th that killed both their driver and the one in the transport truck they collided with.  Accidents obviously can happen to anyone, but it’s a sad reminder of what can happen when you spend as much time on the road as a band does.

Over in the How Great Is This Combo Department, Scott Radinsky has been hired as a bullpen coach for the Los Angeles Angels.  As Absolute Punk reminds us, he fronts Pulley and was in Ten Foot Pole.  Punk + baseball  = :D!

Fuse passes along the reunion of Jack’s Mannequin for an Everything In Transit ten-year anniversary tour.  The Andrew McMahon-fronted group start in Anaheim, California on New Year’s Eve before wrapping up in Boston February 4th.

NME has an article up called “Piss Pints, Backpacks And Hecklers: 12 Super Annoying Things You See At Every Gig”.  Number two had me like “actually yeah!”.  (Okay, it’s “Encores in general”.  I’ll tell you because I hate clickbait lines as much as you surely do!)

Finally, Dying Scene has Brooklyn’s Bound & Buried’s cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Refugee”.  In response to the wave of anti-Syrian refugee sentiment, they accompanied it with this: “This recording is dedicated to all refugees who have been displaced, mistreated or miscast into the world without a home to call their own.  It’s time we remember where we come from and that most of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the doors that openly welcomed our own ancestors.”  True story.

Track Listing: Six Degrees Of Separation

Six degrees of separation is the theory that, in essence, means it doesn’t take much to connect us all.  For this “Track Listing”, something about an artist will lead into the next one.  Let’s journey!

Inspired & the Sleep – “In My Labyrinth Mind”

This dream pop outfit are from San Diego, California.  Their Eyelid Kid EP came out last month, and this song is on it.  “In My Labyrinth Mind” is an uptempo jam featuring a wah-like main riff that I really wish I knew if it’s on guitar or keys – although I’m thinking the latter.  The video game-sounding solo is another highlight.  (This type of song is a pain for musically-inclined-but-not-super-musically-inclined people like me, ha.)

So remember how Inspired & the Sleep are from California!?  Get ready for…

CaliforniaCousin – “In The Middle”

OH MY GOD CALIFORNIA AGAIN!  See what’s happening here?  CaliforniaCousin are actually an Australian trio featuring the beautiful Daniella Lee Dolla and Stephanie Ann, and handsome Josh David.  “In The Middle” features in-unison vocals, edge-of-the-snare tapping (in the first verse) and keepin’ it honest as the transition out of a relationship begins.

Australia is a Commonwealth country, and so is Canada.  Dun dun duuuuunnnn…

We Were Sharks – “Bridge Burner”

From Canada’s capital of Ottawa, we bust out the pop-punk with We Were Sharks.  They’re on Panic State Records now and their new EP Not A Chance is out December 11th.  With typical, fantastic beat-the-hell-out-of-the-snare verses, a chorus that starts with stunted strumming before letting it loose and great riffing in the outro, it’s pretty solid.  We can totally see how the band describe it too: “an honest letter to the selfish person you sometimes find within your social circle. You can see through them and can read their true intentions. All you want to do is tell them that everyone has realized the person they truly are, and unless they open their eyes and see that, they risk losing what is important to them”. 

So when these guys were sharks, do you think they used…

Shark Tape – “Marathon”

How do I feel about that segue?  I’ve felt better!  This indie rock trio put out Marathon last year, and the title track features cowbell and a Replacements vibe.  Riffing that mimics the vocals in the chorus is also a nice touch.

Shark Tape are from Philadelphia, a city that’s also home to…

The Starting Line – “Best of Me”

Oh sure, we could’ve gone with Modern Baseball, The Wonder Years or a more “now” Philly act but how classic is this song?  The Starting Line basically play hometown reunion shows and that’s it these days, but whatever.  This burst-happy pop-punk track reminds me of when MTV2 was kickass back in the early 2000s.  Do you remember that?  Seriously.

“Starting line” is a sports term (especially in hockey) and you know what happens in sports?  Scores.  Games have scores.  In games – like in life – those scores have to be…settled.

Settle Your Scores – “Worst Intentions (You Had ‘Em)”

This Cincinnati, Ohio five-piece have the awesome Twitter bio “Pop-Punk With Balls”, and they live up to that self-proclaimed billing with some double kick pedal and angry gang vocals.  Their self-titled EP came out in January and their debut full-length is almost ready.  We should get some new music from that very soon, but in the meantime you can take it easycore (see what I did?) and enjoy a slice of ‘za with this song.

So how fun was that?  We criss-crossed the world – if you consider a bunch of North America with an Australian detour the world, I guess…just worked out that way! – to enjoy some great tunes.  As Mel Allen would say, “how about that!?”.  (Super hot reference.)

The TPS Musical Thanksgiving Grace


Tomorrow is US Thanksgiving, and much like we did last year for Canadian Thanksgiving I figured we should do some kind of honourary post.  In this case, a spin on saying grace before the meal that gives it a musical theme.  Giving thanks for music!

Let us join hands and bow our heads…

Thank you Musical Jesus for this bounty we continually receive.
For the sound of feedback announcing the start of a song, to the chord that rings out to end it.

For the little things like pick scrapes and single pings of ride cymbals.
For acts like Brand New making an impending return…probably…but that might be it…

For the ladies who rock as hard as any man and deserve equal recognition.

For the new album by our favourite act and the various ways to enjoy it.

For the reunion of a beloved band, however involved it may be.

For cranking tunes up in the car and rocking out like no one is watching.

For the social media and direct-to-fan marketing that lets artists connect like never before.

For music being a safe place to escape to, even when that haven is disturbed.

For music being universally relatable and cherished.

For the scenes that bind and what we consider perfect.

Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of TPS’ American readers.

Interview: Hope Vista

Prevail is something we all have to do.  Whether it’s the day-to-day minutiae or something especially adverse, to do so is a central theme for everything post-getting up in the morning.  On PrevailHope Vista explores that over five songs.  It came out just over a week ago, and with that – and you know this interview hello! – you can get to know the affable New Jersey rocker (perhaps beyond her love of the Backstreet Boys and New York Giants, ha).

I’ve seen you tweet about showing that a solo female rocker can make things happen.  Do you simply feel outnumbered by dudes, or have you actually been dismissed for being you?

I don’t really feel outnumbered, it’s more like feeling like I have to prove that I can hang.  And I don’t mind that at all, I love being around those dudes and seeing so much strength on stage.  I’ve always had more guy friends than girls, but this industry is absolutely a man’s world right now, especially in the sector I’m a part of.  So it’s up to me to show them that I can hang and match up to their talent!

You’ve gone from acoustic ballads (“To: Daddy”) to pop-punk-infused pop rockers (“Wild Girl”) to the varying alternative of Prevail.  Where does all that influence come from?

“To: Daddy” was meant to be acoustic.  I didn’t want production all over that, that’s not what it was about.  It was more so about writing an open letter to a person who shaped me, and I wanted that raw emotion to be captured through simplicity.  I am a power pop punk-esque vocalist; and I love that.  I love being able to explore within that realm and find new ways to make things work.  Prevail is that in a nutshell, all wrapped up into 5 songs.  “Wild Girl” was a stand-alone promo single for that reason; I needed time to create a cohesive EP that identified who I am in the strongest way possible!  The influence just really comes from what I continue to experience; every track on Prevail is completely real.  I find a lot of inspiration and motivation in what surrounds me.

Fan interaction is very important to you.  Is a Hope Vista concert filled with banter and stuff like that?

Oh yeah.  I say some pretty ridiculous stuff on stage, and usually end up making a total fool of myself when nobody laughs.  Last week I finally covered a Backstreet Boys song twice, and before I started, I said: “On the count of 3: if anyone knows who my favorite group of all time is, I want you to shout it as loud as you can. 1, 2, 3….,” and the venues exploded.  It was so awesome.  To know that they know that, and know other things about me, is pretty cool.  That’s why I focus so much on social media interaction!

Talk about the concept for the video for “Dominance”. 

I didn’t write the treatment, but I gave the director (Chris Newhard) an original idea that I had.  My original idea was to run through an old building as if it were a maze, and he kind of just expanded on that idea a lot and created a whole treatment based around that.  The concept just really centralizes around surrendering.  I start off in this box, like an animal in a cage, and then the flip switches, surrendering myself to the person but not letting go of my ‘dominance.’

Any plans for a tour in support of Prevail?

We’re working on it.  It’s another one of those things where I have to prove that I can hang!

The NFC East is pretty mediocre, you think the Giants can hang on and take the division?

If they stay healthy, absolutely.  I actually think the season-ending injury (he never had a season anyway) to Victor Cruz is a blessing in disguise, and JPP coming back is just a blessing overall.  Our wide receiver game has been pretty strong with the addition of Dwayne Harris, so I’m thinking that the offensive streak of our team can pull them through the season to take the division.

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Scenematography: Counting Coins – “All That I Need”

“All That I Need” is the new and second single from Counting Coins’ upcoming self-titled album.  The Hull, England five-piece bring together ska, punk, hip-hop and reggae to form a fun, interesting sound.  This offering is no different.

“All That I Need” itself is an uptempo, skankalicious jam.  As upbeat lyrically as it is musically, among its lines are “all I need is a pizza and for you to drink with me”. (UPDATE: The band tell me it’s actually “all I need is a beat and for you to drink with me”.  How awesome would my version be though LOL.)  There’s a great trumpet solo, and really everything you’d expect and want out of a ska song.  The video saw Counting Coins team up with Hull’s own Irresponsible Pictures to make live-action drawings of the band performing the song.  Lyrics are peppered throughout, which at one point reminded me of Eminem’s video for “Without Me”.

Actually, this video brings up another point.  I think it’s good not only for…you know, being good, but for – intentionally or not – acknowledging how music videos really should go in present day.  With music channels focusing so much on reality shows and stuff, videos aren’t really getting the reach they once did.  I think the industry embracing lyric videos is the best move its made in ages, but otherwise a video like “All That I Need” that’s proper, but was probably not expensive to make is the way to go.  Put those resources elsewhere and have some fun for the YouTube crowd.

Okay so, let’s watch!  Here’s Counting Coins’ brand new video for “All That I Need”:

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Album Review: Kelly Lynn Barber – Breaking Barriers

New Jersey has one of the best scenes in alternative music (yeah it does).  Bridgewater alt-rocker Kelly Lynn Barber is part of that, and about to follow up her 2014 debut EP Cold Reality with Breaking Barriers.  The sophomore EP is out December 4th, but in the meantime you can catch the video for “Done With You” and…you know, read this review!

Breaking Barriers kicks off with the aforementioned “Done With You”, which post-intro brings all the focus on Barber with simple guitar strumming and vocals before everyone joins in on the first verse and beyond.  As you can imagine, the song is about realizing it’s time to end things – the first barrier broken!  “Eventually” comes next, featuring awesome, almost harmonic palm muting in verse two and bitter, you’ll-get-yours subject matter.  I love the pre-chorus line “cause you know, the world goes ’round and ’round/but it doesn’t go around you”.  “The Last Time” follows, with guitar that follows the vocal sound through the verses.  The bass is more prominent in this one, and the bridge/interlude has solid instrumentation.

The second half of Breaking Barriers starts with the EP’s heaviest distortion on “Tearing Me Apart”.  The lead guitar also has an effect that I can’t quite place, but as it rings notes out it’s very effective.  Then, you go from the frantic heaviness of that song to the more subdued “What I Had Planned”.  It’s slower, and while the fast strumming of “Done With You” and “The Last Time” is there the distortion takes a backseat.  “Don’t you tell me what to do/’cause I don’t wanna be like you anymore/and lose myself, ’cause this isn’t what I had planned”…sometimes you gotta take you back.  Finally, “Discord” closes things out and tones things down even more.  Acoustic guitar comes into play in this six-minute epic, and the drums finally join after the first chorus.  It’s a slow burner about coming to terms with the end of a relationship, and really a perfect closer – in sound and subject matter.

Breaking Barriers is a relationship EP: it goes from saying “screw you” to “karma, baby” to more “screw you” to anger before ending with reflection and a bit of sadness.  It has pop sensibility with indie-sounding guitars, and all-in-all is an intriguing alt-rock package.  You can pre-order Breaking Barriers now via iTunes.       

Kelly Lynn Barber online:

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Artists In Pictures: Decipher This!


Yesterday I was doing the dishes or something stupid and I randomly thought about how great a name the subject of our upcoming first puzzle has.  Then pictures came to mind and I thought “let’s do a post that has you decipher the artist by the picture layout!” because why the hell not!  The answers will be at the end of the post, so don’t cheat and look ahead. *shakes fist*

1) Any idea who this is?

2) How about this?

3) Finally – since making those alone took forever because GIMP is a son of a bitch – how about this non-GIMP’d picture?

Well?  Okay, the answers are coming……………coming……………coming…………..

Are you like “what the fuck man!?”

Okay here you go:

1) Parker Cannon (The Story So Far)
2) Hope Vista
3) State Champs

C’mon, that’s pretty interesting.  How great of a name is Parker Cannon by the way?  Thanks for being you, Parker.

Track Listing: Songs For Paris

After hopping on Twitter last night, it was Riot Fest retweeting Consequence of Sound that told me there were terrorist attacks going on in Paris.  Multiple sites were targeted and well over 100 people died, including at the Eagles of Death Metal concert at Le Bataclan.  The Guardian is one of many spots for an ongoing timeline of updates.

As scary as terrorism is anywhere, it’s hard to fathom that people would go to a midsize music venue for a rock show and become victims of it.  One of the first things I thought of was the TPS readership in France.  After the US and Canada, this blog has more French readers than any other country.  I can’t tell you how many come from Paris itself, but I can tell you I thought of them and hoped they were fine – not that their lives are worth more than any other, of course.  So, the morning after we can turn to what we turn to so many times when the need to feel better arises: music.  In this case, French music dedicated to Paris and everyone affected by last night.

An Ocean of Void – “Resonance”

An Ocean of Void are from Bordeaux in Southwest France.  Their debut album The Great Escape comes out December 4th, and “Resonance” is ten minutes of epic, subdued metal.  These guys are atmospheric and progressive, and frankly if you smoke weed and are looking for more mood music this one is perfect, haha.

Phoenix – “1901”

I straight-up just like “1901” so why not.  Versailles’ Phoenix have been doing their thing for a long time, and it was this captivating, almost dance-inspiring song breaking through in North America that introduced me and many others to the band almost seven years ago.  The song happens to be about throwback Paris, so it actually works quite well.

Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! – “The Other Line”

This five-piece are from Paris itself, and tweeted last night that they’re okay.  “The Other Line” comes from Get Lost, Find Yourself which came out earlier this year.  The first verse is pop-punk, the second breaks down into metalcore in the band’s usual (unusual too!) genre-fusing fashion.  The latter also has a great guitar slide transitioning one line into another – subtle but awesome.  I love little extras like that.

So there you go.  A couple of jams to enjoy, perhaps as you catch up on the latest from France.  One thing from last night too was Propagandhi making a possibly-poorly-timed-but-still-fair point about terrorist attacks, and how the Paris one got way more social media attention than the day before’s Beirut bombings.  I think I nailed a response to that?

Fair, but Paris is more known to most and this happens less there. Sad – tonight and how routine terror feels. 😢 https://t.co/ta3L97J68c

— The Perfect Scene (@TPSceneblog) November 14, 2015

Yeah…it’s all really just…a bad scene, one that will sadly probably never be totally eradicated.  What else can be said?  Terrorists are assholes and the people of Paris, Beirut and anyone unfortunate enough to feel their wrath should always have a thought kept for them.  Music helps, music heals.  That’s a start.

Album Review: State Champs – Around The World And Back


State Champs
 are one of the bands at the forefront of the pop-punk revival of the past few years.  Last month they released sophomore full-length Around The World And Back, the chronological follow-up to 2014’s The Acoustic Things EP and proper one to 2013’s The Finer Things.  On it, the New York five-piece deliver what you think they would but with noted growth.

Around The World And Back starts with “Eyes Closed”, which features a standout pre-chorus with echoed vocals, building drums and great complimentary riffing.  “Secrets” follows, letting the drums and bass drive the first verse nicely and with a chorus that ready-made it to be a single.  “Losing Myself” is the first moment of truly fast, although the whole song isn’t like that – just parts of the verses.  Single “All You Are Is History” is next, starting with always delightful octave chords and a gang vocal “OHHH!” in total pop-punk glory.  The uptempo chorus almost has a stop/start sound, with each bar saying “here I am…now!”.

It’s a good listen early and all the way through, but I find Around The World And Back really gets good about halfway through.  “Perfect Score” is track five, and perhaps my favourite song on the album.  It’s hella catchy, and features accenting harmonics and ride cymbal with a fade-down-the-guitar-neck…uh…fade out (!).  “All or Nothing” slows things down a bit, presenting a driving song that breathes.  “Shape Up”…wait for it…SHAPES UP *picks fruit up off the damn ground* into the rock again, featuring a deliberate chorus both in music and lyrics (“shape up/and stand tall”).  “Back and Forth” starts by combining palm muting and octave chords, which are two of the greatest things in music.  The hi-hat gets sufficiently rocked in the second verse, and the title alludes to the struggle of growing a relationship with someone while growing one with yourself.  That struggle has a breakthrough at the end, making for a happy ending.

The latter third of the album (well, it’s one song short technically since there are eleven songs, not twelve…you know, if you wanna be like that) starts with the title track.  Featuring Ansley Newman of fellow Pure Noise act Jule Vera, it’s a beautiful duet that introduces something new: acoustic guitar.  “Breaking Ground” follows, another driver with quick fill, easycoreish breakdowns.  I really like the line “this town isn’t yours to miss” in the second pre-chorus.  Finally, “Tooth and Nail” closes things out by singing about the Seattle label when you need to do you.  “I always wanted to be somebody/that makes everybody/feel like somebody/I’m sorry to say, I don’t love you more than myself”.  It’s probably the best lyricism on the album, so it’s fitting that it’s some of the last.

I don’t find Around The World And Back to be terribly different from The Finer Things, although there’s more thought given to melody and others rightfully point out Derek DiScanio’s vocal growth.  And you know what, I don’t mean that dismissively at all.  State Champs are a typical pop-punk band that has the genre on lock, and as a TPS reader I’d say there’s a good chance you’re as all over that as I am.  They do it very, very well.  The only thing I don’t like as much is the placement of “Around The World And Back”.  I always find sound departure songs work best as the penultimate or final track, whereas this one is third-to-last.  It’s splitting hairs I know, but I’d move that one down.  Otherwise, in the world of pop-punk State Champs have further cemented themselves as title holders.

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Mashup Thoughts: Tuesday, November 10th

Alright here we go with more thoughts that alone aren’t enough to justify a post, but together they make…a post! (!?)

Vocalists: discipline and/or just machines.

Even when it’s glamourous, life as a musician can be pretty crazy.  Lots of booze and food of questionable health, crazy hours, long and uncomfortable drives, drugs…the debauchery is ripe, even when it’s unintentional.  Preserving your voice is a tough thing to do, and vocalists often have to dial it back compared to their bandmates to do so.  But it’s funny, because you never fail to see them downing beers on stage yet alcohol is brutal for the voice.  I’m always told they simply sweat it out and don’t get dehydrated, but I marvel at those who can live the life while keeping their voice intact.  Sleep is also essential and a good night’s can be tough to come by on the road.  So yeah, you gotta admire the frontmen and women of the world.  Seriously.

The name brand is kinda important.

No I’m not talking about buying actual Cheerios over the No Name kind, I mean the band name.  Obviously being unique (which is certainly hard in this day and age) is the most important thing, but also how your name is presented.  If you’re gonna go odd with the spelling or style, make sure it’s consistent.  Bands like blessthefall are pretty good at that, but then you have the ones who spell it regularly on their website but in all caps on Facebook and all lower case on Twitter and jumbledasoneword on Instagram and it’s like…STICK WITH SOMETHING.  Your logo can be whatever, but write the name the same everywhere otherwise.  It’s not only important for not diluting your brand, it’s really annoying.  I sometimes struggle with which style to use for those acts, and frankly if you can’t be bothered with consistency I’ll just write it with the first letter (s) capitalized and words separate like normal – whether that’s preferred or not.

Fuzz: the bomb.com.

There are many great guitar effects, but my favourite has gotta be fuzz.  It really depends on the guitar, amp and pedal to get whatever sound you’re truly looking for, but I remember when I had my old Fender Squier through an 80-watt Marshall and…man, I don’t even remember the exact pedal (*slow clap*) but it was great.  Like a swarm of bees.  Palm muting sounded sooo dirty, I loved it.  So…yeah, more fuzz please CC: all guitarists BCC: primary songwriters.