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Metal Monday: Antagonist's World In Decline Review

Two years after their debut release on Prosthetic Records, OurStage band Antagonist have released their sophomore album, World In Decline”a very good follow-up to 2008’s Exist.

World In Decline starts off with power, picking up right where Exist left off”and that means there’s no sophomore slump for the Antagonist camp. As soon as the first verse hits you in “The Bane of Existence” you get a really good feel for what kind of album you’re in for”riffs, riffs and more riffs. Antagonist took all the parts from Exist that featured big, melodic vocals and replaced those with stronger riffs. They took out the few generic breakdowns that you may have found on Exist and replaced them with more solos. While the solos may not be the most groundbreaking, the fastest, or the most extreme, they’re always good and fit incredibly well into the songs they’re in. Better yet, the guitar tones for the lead solos are really crisp and clean (it’s no secret that a good guitar tone can make or break a solo).

The textures throughout the album, as well as the production/mixing/mastering, are where World In Decline really excels. There’s a great natural sound to Carlos Garcia’s vocals, a sound unlike most metal bands around today. The drums have a lot of room to breathe, the cymbals especially. It’s refreshing to hear cymbals that aren’t always compressed to the high heavens.

World In Decline features zero filler material, and zero fluff. From start to finish, it is ten great metal songs filled with raw vocals, powerfully delivered riffs and tastefully shredded solos. Antagonist have truly found the perfect balance between two of metal’s most divided genres: thrash and metalcore. An unbridled sense of emotion can be found in all areas of this album, something not to be taken for granted in metal today. World in Decline is recommended for anyone who wants to get a good feel for a modern,  no nonsense  metal sound.

Track picks: “Wake Up And Smell the Lies” and “God of Fire”

Download the album from iTunes here (like a good person).

If you’re old school and prefer the hardcopy, you can get the album from the Prosthetic Records store.

To check out some of Antagonist’s older tunes, have a listen to the player below:

The Most Important Meal

Mad June

A band can spring forth from any number of scenarios”a successful one-off collaboration, approaching a musician after a gig, just goofing off with some friends ¦ the smell of toast. So goes the genesis story of Mad June, a band of four women from Montreal who decided to form a band over breakfast. Leaving sunshine and comfort in the kitchen, the band’s songcraft revolves around brooding, stylized rock. On Here Again, slinky basslines, rolling drums and the low gulp of guitar create a tempest of confusion and doubt. The sinister Polaroid tackles the media’s skewed perception of beauty with urgent, angular pangs”a moody little rocker redolent of Blonde Redhead. If you need a break from the brooding, skip to 24”an up-tempo, coursing number about love gone awry”or The Stranger Ones, where the band puts a Benatar-esque spin on youth in revolt. Just make sure you give November a listen. Manic and playful with a catchy chorus that turns a nice Figure 8”that song alone makes you wish more people would eat toast together.

Download of the Week: Darrelle London

With a rapidly growing international fan base, a single appearing on the hit show 90210 and CBC radio coverage, Darrelle London is on the right track to stardom. London’s voice carries a very sweet tone  and her songs are just plain fun to listen to! The Canadian artist has packed venues in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Halifax and now is joining us as this week’s Needle in the Haystack winner. Darrelle London is also the latest artist signed to celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton’s new record label, which has drastically increased her international fan base.

She is in the process of recording two new songs she wrote with Chantal Kreviazuk. In the meantime, download the free track below to get a taste of her music. Stay tuned for more Darrelle London to come this week!

Scene & Heard: Washington DC

The first thing most people think of when they hear Washington, DC isn’t usually music. Think stone monuments, war memorials and politics. No one would expect anything else from our nation’s capital. Of course, sometimes people forget that DC is a major metropolitan area. And, with a large population and a urban environment comes a vibrant music scene.

In the case of Washington, DC,  its music history is almost as old and diverse as its politics. Fittingly, one of the first famous musicians hailing from DC was John Phillip Sousa. He founded the Marine Corps band and even wrote some of the most famous military/patriotic marches of all time. The scene has impressive roots in the jazz/blues department thanks to artists like Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and Bo Diddley. DC also puts itself on the map in the soul genre with famous artists like Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack. Hardcore punk legends Minor Threat also hail from DC. But DC’s most recent claim to fame is go-go music, which is a characteristic brand of dance/hip hop music.

Naturally, it’s important to mention a scene’s classical roots. DC contains three of the most famous US orchestras: The Washington Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra. The symphonies play at the historic Kennedy Center where they feature standard repertoire and new works every weekend. The Kennedy Center also features many multi-purpose spaces for pop/rock acts in addition to the more classical/modern performances.  Over the summer, you can catch the NSO performing at Wolf Trap for their thematic concert series.

Mambo Sauce at State Theatre

Moving on to nightlife, DC has a handful of notable rock clubs. My two recommendations for a nightly stop are The Red & The Black Bar and Rock & Roll Hotel. These places offer nightly entertainment from typical bar fair (like trivia and cover bands), to all-out weekend productions with some of DC’s finest new original rock acts.

Of course, DC has much more to offer than just standard rock clubs. I caught up with OurStage hip hop/funk band Mambo Sauce to see what they thought about the vibe of DC. The band combines full instrumentation, gritty distorted guitars, impeccable emcee flow and powerful female R&B vocals all in one versatile package. Their sound, landing somewhere between The Roots and Black Eyed Peas, is aptly accompanied by the name Mambo Sauce”a clear reference to the complex flavor of the fried chicken dipping sauce made famous in the DC area.  The band told me, “The music scene is really picking up compared to the years of the past¦[It] used to be dominated by go-go music but as of late, the cit has really been embracing variety. This embracement, however hasn’t changed the fact that DC can be a tough scene to break into, as is the case with many of the major markets we’ve looked at. Mambo Sauce refers to the audiences’ tendency to be critical of live acts as them being stuck in the cool zone. However, much like any major city though, if you bring your best, the crowd will respond.

Mambo Sauce frequents many DC venues including the State Theatre, 930 Club and The Santa Fe Café. They recommend any of these venues to a touring band or an eager visitor of the DC area. With such an impressive list of accolades, the band is certainly a DC music authority. They’re song Welcome to DC has had a plethora of placements including being in the rotation for MTV, VH1 and BET, being used for Washington Wizards Commercials, Comcast Redskin’s highlight reels and BET 2009 Hip Hop Honors awards.

It’s only fitting that on July 18th, Mambo Sauce played a show with Quest Love of the Roots at the famous Kennedy Center in DC. Check out their OS profile to hear their music and get the true Mambo Sauce, DC flavor.

Viewer Discretion Advised: Vote Your Favorite Videos To The Top Of The Charts

Next week marks the official end of August’s regular judging season, and unfortunately the end of summer as well. Luckily, there are tons of hot music videos on OurStage to keep you sizzling through September. But your favorite artists and directors need your help to climb the charts and claim the grand video prize of $1,000. Just imagine all the cool stuff you could do in a music video with that kind of cash padding. As we near the end of the month, some killer videos are closing in on that coveted top spot. So make sure to put your voting chops to good use and check out some of the videos climbing the charts below.

All That You Are – Exile Kings

Currently Competing in Rock Videos

One Way Love – ColorFire

Currently Competing in Pop Videos

Try Anything – Sierra Noble

Currently Competing in Country Videos

Poptarts: Dorine Levy

When you think Israel, you might not immediately think of great pop music. Civil unrest and tense political/religious environment have been making headlines for decades. Drawing visitors of almost every major religion in the world, this tiny middle eastern country isn’t tiny in reputation. Although originally from Canada, Dorine Levy bases her musical career in the cultural coastal city of Tel Aviv. Living in such a diverse, conflict-ridden country, it’s no wonder her music follows its own agenda.

On the surface, her songs appear to be straight-forward pop with a soft rock feel. After a few listens though, there’s something more. Her natural-sounding vocals and simple acoustic-bass-drums arrangements support her songs’ bittersweet moods. While there are, of course, catchy choruses (take “Sun” for example), Levy deals with intense themes and emotional phrasing in almost all of her songs.

After releasing an EP back in 2008, Levy has received several placements including a spot on Delta Airlines’ Indie Pop channel as well as being featured in retail stores in the UK. She’s even secured a spot on the Music Oz Awards (broadcast from Australia) as one of the Top 5 International artists of 2010. Currently, Levy is working on a new album, set to be released in 2011. The album is being tracked/mixed by Yoad Nevo (Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Adams).Be sure to check out her OurStage profile and listen to her song “Sun”.

New Music Biz 101: Twitter

This week’s blog post is geared toward helping the musicians of the world use Twitter to their advantage! Twitter is a powerful tool because it’s a viral platform. It’s so easy for a fan to RT (re-tweet) your message to spread your music to hundreds, even thousands of their followers. But it’s not as simple as just creating a profile and hoping for the best (at least for most musicians). There is a process that you can follow to be successful in this quick moving platform. Here are some important things to keep in mind.

Follow the Right People. One way to promote yourself on Twitter is to go out and follow carefully selected Twitter users in the hope that they’ll follow you’re account in return. When reaching out to other Twitter users, it’s important to ensure that you’re connecting with people who are influential to your potential fan base. You can use a service such as to figure out what type of influence a Twitter user has. If there is an artist who plays similar music to your music, check out their Twitter profile and discover who is leading the conversation about that artist’s music. Begin a dialogue with that individual talking about the artist’s music. At some point during the conversation, feel free to share your music with them to see what they think. Because it is similar to the artist they’re a fan of, there is a good chance they’ll appreciate your music and share it with a friend. Continue to build up your base in this fashion.

The Right Way to Tweet. Be sure to Tweet carefully. You don’t want to be overly promotional. It’s important to make things relevant to your audience, and engage as much as possible. If you have a follower who re-tweets you, publically thank them by putting @username and a thank you message. Feel free to talk about your genre and other artists within your genre. You want to keep your tweets personal, but also talk about things that will perk the interest of those who may want to check out your music.

Backstage pass. Make your Twitter an exclusive back stage pass for your fans. Share updates from the studio when you’re recording, access to first mixes, touring information, pictures taken on the road etc.

The overall trick here is to engage, engage, engage! Keep a close eye on your Twitter account and be as active with your fans as possible! Good luck, and feel free to leave comments with any other helpful Twitter tips you may have!

Folkin' Around: Todd Kessler

We’ve been through a lot of folk topics and artists with you on the Folkin’ Around column. Some of them are newcomers to OurStage and others are veterans. For a while now,  Todd Kessler has been one of my go-to artists when I want a relaxing song with meaningful subject matter. Having won awards on OurStage for both folk and alternative country competitions, I thought it was time to feature him.

His song Golden Bird begins with steady acoustic guitar strumming and a straight-forward vocal performance. When the female voice comes in, it’s hard not to be interested. Throughout are conversational melodies between the characters juxtaposed with moments of fulfilling harmony. Add subtle piano accents and you have a piece that has been received with rave reviews. Take a listen:

Based in Chicago, Kessler is the front man for Todd Kessler & the New Folk. They have garnered significant regional press coverage drawing comparisons to Bob Dylan and even a melodic reference to Led Zeppelin. The band gigs regularly in the Illinois area, playing several shows this summer. Be sure to check out his profile and stay tuned for news about more shows and perhaps an upcoming release.

Needle in the Haystack Follow Up: Lion of Ido

To wrap up this week’s Needle in the Haystack, we present this cool video featuring our phone interview with Lion of Ido. As you can tell, this band is fantastic, and it was a pleasure interviewing them this week!

Check out the video below and, if you haven’t already, grab their track from Monday’s Download of the Week!

This Week On

Check it! Every Friday on the OurStage Blog, we will be featuring exclusive content from the one-and-only Stay tuned for weekly photos, music, news and reviews coming straight from the source that’s redefining hip hop.

Breaking: Wyclef’s Run For Haitian Presidency Is Denied

Wyclef has led the Haitian people as an ambassador, musician and philanthropist. But for now that’s as far as his leadership will extend.

According to Reuters, ‘Clef’s bid to run as president of his native Haiti has been denied by officials due to lack of residency.

A nine-person electorial council decided that the founding Fugees member”who was born in Port-au-Prince and raised from age 9 in New York and New Jersey”was not eligible to run for Haiti’s highest office. Continue reading on…

The Eminem Cover Story: Dying To Live

Eminem is a 37-year-old dad who goes to work every day and has a fantasy football team. He is trying really hard to be normal. Of course it’s too late for that. His childhood was totally fucked. His drug addiction to a myriad of prescription pills and alcohol nearly killed him. He is incredibly talented”only guys like Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer know what it’s like to be that damn good at something. And once again, he stands alone as the biggest rap star in the world. In June, his seventh studio album Recovery sold 741,000 copies during its first week. That’s more than Drake sold. That’s more than Jay-Z sold last time out. Hell, that’s more than even Justin Bieber sold. Some people were surprised. Others were not. Either way, it’s quite the comeback story. Continue reading on…

Rookie Watch: Is Vado The Future Of New York Hip-Hop?

He might draw a striking resemblance to a young Shyne Po who signed to Bad Boy a decade ago, but Cam’Ron protegé Vado is officially the hottest new New York City rapper. The Harlem-bred Teeyon Vado Winfree has the city riding behind him from his memorable appearances on the DJ Drama-hosted Boss of All Bosses mixtape series, which he co-starred in alongside Killa Cam.

With a heavily ’90s influenced rhyme style and vernacular that is as Harlem as Willie Burger and Rich Porter, Vado (˜Violence And Drugs Only’) is currently working on his first release with Cam, Gunz & Butta, due out next month on E1 Records. Killa was M.I.A., but we tracked down his cohort at his record label HQs and let the interrogations commence. Continue reading on…