Saturday, August 23, 2014

War Poets

American Police State by War Poets: social change pop that rocks.
Review: For too long music has been absent from social change on a national level the way it was during the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 60’s and 70’s. Protest music hasn’t disappeared, and some of the artists of that era are still recording and touring. But, outside of a small handful of artists like Bruce Springsteen or Pink, social change themes in modern pop and rock are rare and usually found in local, indie bands.

War Poets is an exception to that.  Founder Rex Haberman and contributing songwriter and  musical director Jenny Case have built an impressive national presence for songs that tell stories to make change. The video for band’s hit single, Close Enough,” from  their debut album Dulce et Decorum Est, has  had over 250,000 YouTube views. Their  follow-up video for the single, “Will You Be There” saw  over 45,000 views and rising. They are spun by radio stations across the country in both AAA and college radio. They have played at SXSW among other festivals and attracted the attention and the talent of iconic producers like Grammy winners Kevin Bowe and Joe Baldridge.

Their latest album American Police State is a social change tool that rocks with hooks and beats.  Regardless of your political persuasion, you will enjoy the music they play and think about what they say. The five songs on this EP touch on gun violence (the title refers to citizens killing each other, not the police), income inequality, abuse of Native Americans, the loss of trust in our society, the Newtown massacre and schizophrenia. But it is all done within highly  listenable pop and rock. Rex and Jenny know how to entice people to listen 
beyond the hooks while they listen to the hooks.

The EP opens with “A Better Place” sung from the point of view of a middle aged man sitting on the curb watching a younger man drive  by in his BMW. The man on the curb did everything right -  pays his child support, loves his family, worked hard;  but life tripped him up and he is in  a place so many Americans find themselves, broke, unemployed and desperate. Big rhythm guitars gives the song a country pop feel moved along with a steady snare drum and bass tempo as Rex sings the chorus, I look to my left, I look to my right/I close my eyes and see a better place/Take me there, baby, to a better place. You find yourself humming those words long after the song has ended.

As “A Better Place” winds down, War Poets shifts to hard, hard rock with “Closing In”. Rex wails The man searches for a way to creep and crawl inside my head /As the night gets darker, I’m looking for a way to get out of here/I see all my guns, they’re lined up against the wall. You feel the desperation that leads to violence.The music underscores the mental crises with a wall of electric guitar riffs, urgent keyboard notes like sirens and hard pounding drums that create the sonic equivalent of slow panic.There is no escape; but there are guns.

Rex ratchets up the message with “8:05 On a Saturday Night”, a musical creep into the mind the of the killer at the Newtown school shooting but in a pleasant pop format, almost as if the band was describing the lead up to a date. No clouds, only bullets fly, today’s the day/Evil eyes in his video game/It’s 8:05 on a Saturday night/Reality is slipping away.The effect is spooky, if you listen close, pleasing if you don’t. But when you do, beneath the slow rock and the background singers you hear the subtly layered track of voices of anger that break through into a rap as the killer comes closer to the moment of killing.You are in the head of that boy, of every boy or girl who decides to kill and its angry.Then the pop comes back with slow beat and the melodic and Rex singing gently.

“Where has Love Gone” resonated with me the most. A strong rock tune with solid drumming and bass that leads the band’s story telling punctuated by killer guitar solos and fast-paced bass riffs. The music brings the story to a peak supported by accelerated percussion and red hot electric guitar as Rex growls Where is love lost in this land torn by hatred?/Why does my neighbor need a gun to be safe?. We learned the answer when Renisha McBride was shot on the front porch of a man she was asking for help. Fear, the gun lobby, exploitative media – they all contribute and they all contribute to the answer sought in this song.


The EP wraps with “Red Lake”, story of the Native Americans in Red Lake Minnesota who saw their children taken from then at the beginning of the 19th century by white people who locked them in a boarding school to turn them white. The music is solid rock but in Rex’s lyrics you can hear the cries of the children who want to escape and be who they are. 

Although the events are over a hundred years old, Rex’s delivery brings an urgency to the story, supported by big rhythm guitars, pressing bass lines and screaming electric guitar solos.The EP is getting radio spins around the country, a testament to the quality of the music as well as to an audience hungry for tunes with meaning. War Poets has found the key to selling protest songs: just make great music, which is what they do.

American American Police State, EP is available HERE


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LA Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan

SKYROADS

SKYROADS is an electronic pop-rock band based in Tel Aviv, Israel.The band's first official single Synthetic, was released with an official music video gaining 25,00 views in under a month.

The band started to perform in the summer of 2013. During the following months the band played and performed across Tel Aviv, with a number of sold-out shows, creating a demand for new shows and gaining an on-growing fan base.

On May 2014 the band went on a UK tour, during which they played the highly acclaimed "Liverpool Sound City" festival. The tour went on through several main cities with shows gaining local buzz and high participation.

SKYROADS' music is influenced by the world of dance music as much as it is by the world of indie and alternative rock, creating a  combination that is both multi-layered and complex, while having a clear "party" atmosphere with electronic beats and sounds.

Back in July, 2014 the band released their brand new double A-single "1,2 Steps/Beyond The Door."
This is a first taste from the exciting 5-piece who recently returned from their UK tour, including stellar performances at Liverpool Sound City. The band can't wait to get back on the road with appearances across Europe as well as showcases in the States scheduled for this fall. In the meantime we caught about with the group to have a little tète a tète about all things music and their new tracks.

R. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us here at R360. The new track titled "1,2 Steps/Beyond The Doors, is about what?
SR. Like most of what we write about, they are based on our experiences in Tel Aviv, mostly the night life which, in a complete cliche of a manner for 25 yr old band, is our home turf. 1,2 steps is a song about the need for loving affection in our frantic city, clashing with urge to be everywhere, all the time, doing everything and everyone. This creating many moments that are way too intense for the short amount of time they last. Second song, "Beyond the door", is a song about our favorite bar that has shut down,. The bar was where we all went, every night, since we started living by ourselves in the city, and the song tries to depict some of the endless lives and night-lives that were painted, daily, in freaky colors by that bar and the experience caught

R. How did the band get their name?
SR. A mixture of a drunken night, 80s infested childhood - and a deadline in the shape of our concert, which forced us to pick one.

R. How would you describe your music/art/entertainment for the public audience if they have never seen you before?
SR. The music is designed to make you stand if you're sitting, move if you're standing and dance if you're moving. All while singing along to the catchy tunes and lyrics. But for those who would want to dig in to our heads, the songs will hopefully serve up a decent dose of our thoughts and curiousness, not just dancing beats and funky guitars.


R. Give me some details about the group, how did you all meet?
SR. Me (AMI) & Noam have been friends for 21 years now. We met Tom and Tamar about 10 years later and the four of us have been best friends for the past 4 years. Once the prospect of being a band took shape, Shalev was found through other friends and the connection was instantaneous.


R. You just returned from a tour in the UK, can you tell us about your experience there (highs and lows)?
SR. The clear highs would be playing for a completely different audience in a completely different state of mind - and getting the warmest reaction we've had. The top would be a show with an audience of 350 people in Oxford which ended with local folks taking pictures with s. The lows are just unexpected turn-of-events that occurred that we could not anticipate since this was our first overseas tour. Noted was an evening in which we had a show in front of more than 350 people, and the sound man did not know how to operate the Mixer and PA system. This had us running back and forth to the stage, doing our own sound check for the show, drunk silly all the while. Needless to say the show was one of the best ever :)

R. What has been the biggest challenge for the group?
SR. The challenge is not in past tense. it is ongoing. the challenge is to act, think and aim as if we are the SKYROADS we intend on being 6 months from now, in terms of success, achievements, finances, fame etc.


R. As musicians/artists, how do you define success?
SR. As artist I would define success as being able to look at a piece of art we created and to say - It's done. We're good. Because I believe that is the main challenge for people dealing with creation. As musicians, I refuse to define success in regular terms that would mean success is when you stop aiming far and wide. i would say success is to reach all the current goals we set for ourselves so that we are always prepared for luck and chance to sweep us off our feet.

Last but not least...

R. If you had to think of a slogan that could leave a positive impact for everyone what would your slogan be?
SR. You cannot win the lottery if you are too lazy, proud or vain to buy a ticket.

All track for SKYROADS are out now and available HERE


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Chris Catalena

Here Comes The Time was written and recorded in Los Angeles with producer Rob Campanella (Brian Jonestown Massacre, Piney Gir, Beachwood Sparks and first-time producer Jon Alderson. Here Comes The Time is a bit of an attempt to transcend contemporary genres and styles - a record that reached across musical aisles. the songs were largely conceived during Catalena's stay in the hills of Laurel Canyon and Hollywood, California, and they chronicle a love story that unfolded shortly before the HCTT recording sessions.

As a natural traveler and roadside writer, Los Angeles seemed to Catalena to e the right place to settle down and fill in the blanks from his journeys. living in the home of a Hollywood studio proved crucial, as the community there rose up and provided all the components necessary to make the album. Andy Campanella and Nate Ryan jumped in on drums/banjo/mellotron and bass respectively, and the dream-team rhythm section was complete when Nelson Bragg (of Brian Wilson Band) signed on to provide percussion. Rob Campanella brought in Kevin Stevens and Dustin Morgan as a for the jazzy rhythm section of King Kong.


The album plays off Catalena's earliest and deepest musical influences; Harry Nilsson's soundtrack for the movie Popeye, and the Beach Boy's Pet Sounds. naturally, having been raised in Texas by a country boy, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison were always on rotation in his childhood bedroom, albums that played golden in my ears then, and still do this day.

Chris Catalena and The Native Americans premiere their brand new video for "Plain Paper Planes" and is their latest track from their newly released debut LP, Here Comes The Time.


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Friday, August 22, 2014

Jessie Payo

Jessie Payo brings her high level blues talent to country and it works. 
Review: Jessie Payo, the diminutive soul singer with a larger than life voice has come home to LA, but more important, she has arrived. After more than a decade of recording, training, touring and singing with superstars like Melissa Etheridge, Jessie has found her country sound, and she created country magic at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood Friday night. It's no wonder her twitter handle is @payoetemusic.

She was booked to come on at 9 pm and while she was setting up the crowd poured in, They were here for her. And she did not disappoint them. For the almost an hour, she rocked, seduced, mesmerized and united with a full house, demonstrating the maturity and the self confidence of an experienced entertainer. She brought us her own brand of gut-tightening, head bobbing very personal county. Frankly, I had fun listening to her at Hotel Cafe than I did at the Wynonna & the Big Noise concert at Century City.


Jessie opened with her heart rending "I Will Die Alone", which sailed through the room with her soul-piercing voice and a driving rhythm like a modern day "Ghost Riders". She painted the picture of the little girl in saddle shoes who now sees the Because I was born with desert fire/Driven by my one desire/traded all I had for the great unknown/A bleeding heart I don't possess and when I'm finally laid to rest/I will die alone. We knew were in the presence of a musical magician.

And then the magician became a human, a diminutive woman in a green dress laughing and joking with her fans about being a leprechaun. After she introduced her very solid country band she shifted the tempo and the mood with "She will Love Again", complete with southern twang, pedal steel accountant and a story set squarely in the country from: When she was young she took her chances/The queen of hearts to every man/But her luck ran out of blues and a touch of angel.


Two songs later, after the familiar "Hands Together", she cut loose with "Caleb Meyer" and had the audience singing along with her. They were energized! Then, like the sophisticated show woman she is, she took that energy and poured in into Patsy Cline song "Crazy", with Hotel Cafe resident Zane Chaney. The effect was heart-stopping. You could hear people whisper, "this is so beautiful' as she sang.

Not every song Jessie Payo sang Friday was a Billboard top 25 hit, but several were, especially "I Will Die Alone" and "Smoking Gun". Jessie had a lot to say and in taking 11 songs to say it, some songs were blow-the-roof-off highlights and others were serious - and not so serious - conversations with her audience. But her show at Hotel Cafe said clearly that she has arrived; Jessie Payo has the experience, the maturity, the talent and the magic to be who she is and succeed because she is true to herself. A little more focus, a little more discipline and a lot more songs will carry her to top... it's all there inside of her and much of it came out Friday night. Fortunately, she knows that that and told me after the show she is plunging back into song writing, building up the inventory to support solo shows in the larger venues she needs to accommodate her out-sized talent. When she does, I will be there, front and center to bask in the magic.

Come Clean is available HERE 


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LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan

Ayler Young

New York City - based funky disco -soul artist Ayler Young releases new single, "You Can't Buy Love" from his upcoming, Portal, set to release September 9, 2014. The multi-faceted music video for "You Can't Buy Love" was shot in and around New Orleans, the place in which Young was awarded a key to the city by the Mayor and had an Honorary Day of Citizenship named after him due to his extraordinary fundraising efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

Young's debut album, Back in the City, received rave reviews from Flavorpill, Beatcrave, Creative Loafing and many more. The son of two poets, Young marries powerful lyrical content with funk, pop and jazz elements. He's played many notable venues in the city including Central Park's Summer Stage, Joe's Pub and Brooklyn Bowl.


Ayler recorded Portal at the Mission Sound Studio in Brooklyn with the support of Grammy Award-winning guitarist Simon Katz (Jamiroquai, Gorrillaz), pianist Erik Deutsch (Citizen Cope, Rosanne Cash), horn/flute player Jay Rodriguez (Prince, Miles Davis), Chris the Berge (Groove Collective), and drummer Tony Mason (Norah Jones) along with backup singer Bridget Barkan (Scissor Sisters). Be sure to check out "You Can't Buy Love" and stay tuned for more from this quickly rising artists! Check it out HERE


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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Emily Danger

Dark cabaret rock band Emily Danger releases brand new music video for their new single and title "Peace Arch" from their recently EP. Shuffling back and forth between a live, gritty performance and an artistic shot of lead vocalist Emily Nicholas in the clouds, the video accentuates the band's unique mix of cabaret and indie/rock. The band that has been described as a"Radiohead meets Jeff Buckley and Heart" explores new musical territory as they incorporate psychedelic and classical stylings into "Peace Arch." Emily packs a punch with her over four -octave range ad incredible versatility that shines on the soaring single while instrumentalist Cameron Orr plays creative synths reminiscent of Ok Computer.

The story of "Peace Arch" comes from a time early on in the band's touring career when they were kicked out of Canada for lying about being in a band at the Peace Arch border crossing: only to come back the next day and get to their show on time.


When writing the song, the band decided to use their experience at the border as a metaphor for pushing through obstacles. "Peace Arch" is about persevering through false promises & recovering from doors being slammed in your face, " lead vocalist Emily Nicholas says. "It's about people trying to get in. & never being allowed; rejection and the need to be accepted." Peace Arch - Highly Recommended and available HERE


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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Well Reds

Sophisticated and honest alternative pop rock quartet The Well Reds are quickly gaining recognition as an Atlanta-based band to watch. Made up of Jeremy Ezell (lead vocals, guitar, keys), Torin Degnats (drums), and brothers Sean (vocals, guitars, keys) and Rex Crawford (bass), these well-dressed southern boys boast a sound reminiscent of Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Maroon 5, OneRepublic, and Augustana.  Known for their infectious melodies and polished live performance, The Well Reds engage a large and diverse audience while letting their natural and authentic chemistry shine on stage. Opening for reputable touring acts such as Daughtry, Hot Chelle Rae, Parachute, and Minus The Bear, the band has already received national exposure and admiration for their full on, heart pounding rock show complete with lights flashing production.

Consistently determined to connect with people through music and charity, the band has contributed to organizations such as the Songs For Kids Foundation and Rock By The Sea, dedicated to supporting charities that provide direct services to those in need. Since their inception, The Well Reds have also achieved accolades such as becoming a finalist in the Season 1 OurStage Panel as well as being announced as winners of the New Music Seminar LA 2011 “Live At The Roxy” Competition.  

Produced by Zach Odom and Kenneth Mount (Cartel, Mayday Parade, All Time Low) The Well Reds’ debut EP, Violet (2011), featured relatable yet unique songs such as the title track, an emotional and timeless pop anthem combining deep piano harmonies with powerful vocals reinforcing strong lyrical composition.  


Now The Well Reds are preparing for their forthcoming full length album, Volume.  Produced in conjunction with Grammy Award winning Joseph Prielozny, whose urban production style and pop sensibility incorporated a variety of new sounds and instrumentation not found on Violet, The Well Reds create a distinct sound pallet for each song resulting in a tight and polished album that maintains their grit and raw energy. The music is earnest and cautiously optimistic, covering the highs and lows in the life of touring musicians.  With hook-laden tunes and stunning videos such as “Carousels” and “BPM (I Feel Rhythm)” Volume is sure to grab attention from audiences and critics alike.

Do You Still Love Me is available HERE


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