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Rock 'n' Roll Call: Something Corporate Reunion Tour Review

Although they’ve spent half  of the past decade on hiatus, Something Corporate clearly still have a special place in the hearts of their fans. During the band’s peak in the early 2000s, the vast majority of their fans were teenagers who now fondly associate the band’s discography with nostalgic memories of high school. Though frontman and pianist Andrew McMahon has kept himself busy over the years with successful side project Jack’s Mannequin, SoCo enthusiasts shoped that the band would one day return to the stage. This year, their wish came true.

L to R: guitarist Josh Partington, drummer Brian Ireland and bassist Kevin "Clutch" Page

The Something Corporate Reunion Tour began on August 2nd in Minneapolis and will continue until the last show on August 28th in Los Angeles. The tour follows the band’s first reunited performances together at all three Bamboozle dates and the release of Played in Space: The Best of Something Corporate in April.

The ninth tour stop hit  Boston’s House of Blues, which stands in the shadows of the famed Fenway Park. As Something Corporate took the stage, they were greeted with thunderous cheers and applause from the sold-out crowd. Kicking off their  twenty-song set with the energetic “I Woke Up In a Car,” smiles were plastered on all five members’ faces. SoCo continued to please the crowd with driving pop-punk tunes like “Hurricane,” “Space” and “Punk Rock Princess,” but they also made time for acoustic ballad “Wait” and “Watch the Sky,” a track exlcusively released on the Japanese version of their third album, North.

Andrew McMahon working the crowd

In between songs, Andrew had nostalgic moments himself, as he recalled the inspiration behind even the oldest tracks, as well as when the band played to ten people in the original House of Blues in Cambridge back in the late 90’s. But perhaps the most nostalgic moment of the night occurred when Andrew returned to the stage for an encore and launched into the nine-minute fan favorite, “Konstantine.”  The band ended the night on a high note with rock anthem “If U C Jordan,” which culminated in Andrew stomping on his piano keys and bowing to the crowd.

Throughout the two-hour performance, the band proved that five years apart had no effect on their stage presence or chemistry. As Andrew sings in “Cavanaugh Park,” Something Corporate’s reunion show proved that- even as the years fly by “some things never do change.”

Hip Hop Habit: Yung Bizzy

A few months ago this column featured Tru Quality, a laid back hip hop act from Portland, OR. This week’s act, Yung Bizzy, is another laid back hip hop act from Portland, where weed flows like wine. The Beaver State’ illicit reputation is audible in both acts’ sound, not that either group necessarily promotes drugs. Relaxed, peaceful, and inviting, Yung Bizzy’s rhythms and rhymes are likely to lull you into a meditative state only life on the Pacific can create.

Aside from the aggravating watermark, Problems is a pretty strong piece, and at the upper capacity of Bizzy’s energetic output. Other than the recurring crystalline piano/guitar unison riff, the beat is skeletal at best and certainly nothing special, in turn giving rise to Bizzy’s long-winded wisdom. For a mere 18 years of age, the kid is much wiser than that baby face will lead you to believe. In Problems, he assumes the role of a wallflower and mediator, both observing the problematic issues around him: she wanna live life cruisin’ in the fast lane/ wind up with a nigga dealin’ mad ˜caine/ on his arm at the mall spending mad change/ not known that she givin’ herself a bad name and suggesting remedies he knows won’t go down easily: I know what your problem is/ all that misplaced faith where the dollar is/ all that misplaced hate just model this/ and every one of your problems will not exist. Along with his sagacity, Bizzy uses the opportunity granted by overflowing verbiage to show off his technical skills as well, often rapping in quadruple time for measures on end.

Yung BizzyMine returns the tempo back to hazy northwestern normalcy, and with its hollow percussion and dinky guitar riff, it is very similar to Problems. Lyrically, it’s Bizzy’s modern version of Mo Money Mo Problems. Of course, at this point in his career, this is all imaginary, but it once again goes to show the incredibly mature foresight he’s capable of. Told from the voice of a future Bizzy, he regrets asking for what he received, claiming that all the baggage that inevitably comes with fame and fortune wasn’t what he meant when he vowed to get his: lost my friends to the fans in the stands/ my family to the popular demand of me. For every rap song dedicated to the cash and women that are ostensibly part of the fame and fortune package, how many tout it as something to avoid? If Bizzy sticks to his guns, his career in the rap game will last a lot longer than most.

Whether the moniker Yung Bizzy was born out of the fact this 18-year-old is always busy I’m not sure, but according to his bio, that would make sense. A full time rapper, Bizzy also co-founded his own production company Young Threat Productions and is currently involved with Turf Noize ENT. Having been accepted to St. Francis College in Brooklyn, he plans to enroll this fall and take his dream as far as it will let him on the east coast. It probably won’t be long before he’s performing locally, so if you’re from BK keep updatedwith his performance schedule!

Meet The Winners Of The John Mayer Side Stage Warfare Competition In July

Winning artists from the June John Mayer “Side Stage Warfare” Competition recently rocked out arena-sized crowds at venues in Scranton, Boston, Cleveland and Indianapolis. In July, we offered artists the chance at nabbing a side-stage slot on John Mayer’s “Battle Studies” tour in Phoenix, Atlanta, Houston and West Palm Beach. Over 1,000 artists submitted their music in July for a shot at the stage and the battling was fierce throughout the month.

The dust has settled since then, and now 4 acts are on their way to playing in front of thousands of screaming fans. Hand-picked from the Top 20 of each channel by John Mayer and his team, these artists have won not only a chance to play on the summer “Battle Studies” tour, but also free tickets to the show so their friends and family can be there to cheer them on. Check out the winners and their OurStage profiles below:

Atlanta Winner
The Kicks
View Profile | Listen to The Kicks | See All Entrants
Houston Winner
SleeperStar
View Profile | Listen to SleeperStar | See All Entrants
Phoenix Winner
Jesse Thomas
View Profile | Listen to Jesse Thomas | See All Entrants
West Palm Beach Winner
RIA
View Profile | Listen to RIA | See All Entrants

Metal Monday: Nu Metal Lives On!

Rewind ten years to the mainstream metal scene at the dawn of the new millennium. No kids with flippy hair, just baggy Dickies and backwards baseball caps. Back when nu metal reigned supreme in the mainstream metal world. The year 2000 marked the release of Mudvayne‘s L.D. 50 as well as Deftones‘s White Pony”easily two of the most highly regarded nu metal albums ever released.

mudvayneToday in 2010, many bands that led the original nu metal charge are still very much alive and kicking. On May 4th, Deftones released their seventh studio album, Diamond Eyes to critical acclaim. Nu metal legends Sevendust released their eighth studio album, Cold Day Memory to a lot of good press as well. But not all nu metal bands have had such lasting power. Bands such as Limp Bizkit fell off the map completely, and are now trying to hop back on the nu metal train and ride it to more riches with their fall 2010 release Cold Cobra. Other nu metal bands with 2010 releases: Korn, Mushroomhead,  Linkin Park, Nonpoint, Stone Sour, Ill Niño, Disturbed, 36 Crazyfists and Mnemic. Sounds like the year 2000, right?

This begs the question, why now? And who is still listening to this stuff? Try to remember who listened to nu metal back in 2000? It was mostly angsty teenagers who are now in their mid twenties, perhaps clinging on to the (not so) fond memories of their rebellious youth. Regardless, which would you prefer”hilarious “over-the-hill” nu metal bands or whiny young kids with flippy hair? At least we can get a laugh along the way while we get a good album or two from the whole movement.

The Old Soul

Hannah Thomas

Hannah Thomas may be a fresh-faced 21-year-old, but she’s got a seasoned voice that sounds like it’s seen it all already. And maybe it has seen a good bit. Thomas made her debut at an open mic night at Atlanta’s songwriter haunt, Eddie’s Attic back in 2006. From there, it was full-steam ahead”taking first place in competitions, appearing on local TV and radio shows and releasing a record. The Rest is Yet to Come is Thomas’ first offering, a low country, bluesy, coming-of-age anthem that sounds like it could have been written by KT Tunstall. Will I get married settle down and have some babies? Or spend my whole life searching and never find love? the singer muses. Thomas’ deep, smoldering drawl is her calling card. The electric guitars may whinny, the bass and drums may thump, but it’s Thomas’ voice that will thrill you to your country-lovin’ core.

Scene & Heard: Las Vegas, NV

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is one of the most famous travel mottos out there thanks in part to the abundance of  casinos, clubs and lavish resorts. This week, we’ll stop in and take a virtual look at “Sin City” and learn why it has become the Entertainment Capital of the US.

The music scene of Las Vegas is obviously flooded with outlandish onstage performances, big name acts and huge venues. In terms of a local scene, it’s much different than many other scenes. It’s difficult to find a band that actually claims their origins in Vegas, as it is flooded with big name acts and non-musical extravaganza performances. Perhaps this is why Vegas immediately conjures up images of Wayne Newton, Siegfried & Roy and Cher.

Much of the Vegas entertainment market is tied directly to the casino/resort market. Many of these establishments, like the Bellagio and the MGM Grand, have their own notable stage. Extravagant performances like Cirque du Soleil attract many visitors to huge auditoriums every year. On top of this, Vegas also has venues exclusively devoted to music and touring acts. The Las Vegas House of Blues is one of the most well known locations of the nation-wide venue chain started by Dan Aykroyd. In the coming weeks it will host Lamb of God, Hatebreed and Steel Panther. Another large chain in Vegas, The Hard Rock Café, will host Neon Trees and the Paper Tongues.

Las Vegas also has its share of smaller-sized clubs to offer. When pouring over the scene, what stuck out to me the most was the blues/rock presence. Many of the clubs in the area cater to guitar heavy blues music with a west coast flair. The Sand Dollar, located on Spring Mountain Rd is a bit off the beaten path. However, they offer a lineup of resident blues musicians with that heavy, driving Vegas sound.

OurStage Vegas rock band Left Standing”an in-your-face melodic, alternative rock band that has been tearing up stages cross country for the past several years”was kind of enough to give me their personal experiences in the local Vegas scene.  The band has participated in shows for 94.1 and 107.5 which has hosted shows for bands like Papa Roach, System of a Down, Switchfoot, Cypress Hill, Godsmack, Staind and Stone Temple Pilots. They’ve played venues like Whiskey a Go Go, The Viper Room and The Stone Pony. To put things into perspective, the band said, “There are so many things to do in this city besides going to see a local band that if you are not on your game people will lose interest quickly.” This sentiment sums up the whole Sin City vibe and really portrays the difficulty of the local music scene. According to Left Standing, Vegas is a musical “family of diversity”.

The band paid tribute to the Vegas House of Blues by naming it their favorite local room to play. “Huge stage, great sound, a place that can hold a lot of people, but at the same time still feels intimate. A lot of venues lose the most important thing in rock, the connection between the fans and the band.” The band even went into discussion about some of the local radio stations (KOMP 92.3 and 107.5 Extreme Radio) and their tendency to play music by bands that will be playing locally in the coming week.

Check out Left Standing’s OurStage profile to stay tuned for the release of their latest album Brand New Day which will be available on iTunes as well as on their Web site. Catch them on their upcoming cross-country tour.

Poptarts: Koalia

The OK Go craze swept the nation after the release of their famous treadmill video. But a viral YouTube video can only take you so far. You need to have the look, the attitude and, of course, the sound. Upbeat pop music can take on many forms. This week’s Poptarts pick, Koalia, supports that OK Go aesthetic with an almost Sugar Ray-like flair. Yes, that was a Sugar Ray reference.

The band’s latest single, Radioman, left the whole OurStage office nodding their heads when I played it. With upbeat rhythms, optimistic vocals and a pinch of distortion, what else would you expect ? In fact, if you listen hard enough you can hear the echoes of a ’60s pop-rock song, complete with 3 part harmonies and clear electric guitars. The bottom line: this band creates music synonymous with the term party pop/rock.

Koalia hails from Finland and boasts significant regional notoriety. While the Finnish indie scene isn’t commonly discussed, the band has secured many gigs and collaborations within their local market. Recently, Koalia played gigs in the cities of Oulu and Tempere. In addition to ranking high on OurStage, their music has been featured on local radio station YLEX as well as other online indie radio. Currently, they are working on a video for “Radioman.” Keep an eye out for it, and listen to the song here:

New Music Biz 101: Facebook (Part 2)

In Facebook (Part 1) we discussed a few important tips to help expand your Facebook fan base. In this week’s blog, we’ll discuss strategies to help increase conversion rates to fandom on Facebook. Driving more traffic to your page can be difficult. You want to be sure that you’re able to capitalize upon your efforts.

One of the best ways to increase your conversion rates to fandom on Facebook is by creating a custom Facebook tab. To create a tab in Facebook, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of Facebook’s native coding language, FBML. We won’t go too deep into this today, but we’ll go over the basic features you should include on your page. That way, you’ll have the essentials when getting someone to help you create the page.

  1. Your page is all about the music. Be sure there is an easy way to listen to your music quickly. Whether it’s a link to a Web site where potential fans can stream a song, a YouTube video embedded on the page or, better yet, a system where someone can download a track in exchange for an email address, you need to have a way for fans to experience your art.
  2. Call to action. Make sure your landing page has a clear call to action to join”an arrow pointing to the Like button, a message at the bottom of the page, even an embedded video explaining why someone should join. Give fans a reason to connect with you!
  3. Visual representation. Show the viewer what you and your music is all about. Literally. Include pictures of you and your band showing off a bit of your personality, or create a look and feel to the page that goes along well with your style of music.
  4. Link up. Make sure you link to your other social media profiles and Web site. You want your fans to connect with you on as many levels as possible!
  5. Use analytics. Information about where your fans are coming from and where they’re going once they hit your landing page is really important. Here’s a great post about how to set up Google analytics on your Facebook landing page from SocialMediaExaminer.com

Be sure to make your page the default tab for new viewers. You can change this in the page settings on Facebook. Here are a few landing pages to take a look at that we think do a pretty good job incorporating some or all of the points above:

The Artist E-dubble’s Facebook Page

The Artist Unknown – The Universal Element’s” Facebook Page

Folkin' Around: Antje Duvekot

If you liked our folk artist pick Meg Hutchinson a few weeks ago, you’ll be excited to hear that our choice this week is Antje Duvekot. These two artists have unique careers and sounds, and they share a few things in common. Both are a strong songwriting presence in the greater Boston area (winning several individual songwriting contests/mentions). They are also prominent members of the Boston-based, songwriting all-star cast that makes up Winterbloom.

Duvekot’s music merges the folk and country aesthetic with indie and singer/songwriter vocals and lyrics. In fact, all the angst, poetry and longing in Duvekot’s lyrics easily accent the lofty melodies with which she sings them. When are you going to come for me, Lord? is the opening line of the chorus in her song Pearls. Juxtaposed with the somewhat dark lyrics that riddle the verses, this line is sung with an appropriately memorable tune. The request sung so many times in the song, seems to be answered by the end with catchy, satisfying progressions and smooth, natural accompaniment. Check it out:

With several songwriting and folk awards (including regional artist awards and the grand prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest) under her belt, Duvekot obviously has a talent for writing and the performance chops to go with it. And thanks to frequent performances on the festival circuit, domestically at the Mountain Stage festival and abroad at The Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland and the Tonder Festival in Denmark,  she’s shared the stage with acts like Patti Griffin, Lyle Lovett and the Indigo girls. Her song Merry Go Round was even featured on a 2008 Bank of America commercial which aired during the Super Bowl. Take a listen and get your dose of tasteful arrangements and thoughtful lyrics.

Needle in the Haystack Follow Up: Brightside Drive

To wrap up this week’s Needle in the Haystack, we’re bringing you an awesome interview with the band Brightside Drive. These up-and-coming stars have a lot going for them, so it will be exciting to see how they continue on with their promising career. Check out the video below as well as their free track What If? from Monday’s post.