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SoundTrax: Ladies Who Rock…Hard

 

These femme fatales give some of the most dangerous male rockstars a run for their money. Armed with attitude, energy, and a healthy dose of rasp, they are not to be underestimated. This playlist features Dead Sara, Automatic Loveletter, Cherri Bomb, The Distillers, Tsunami Bomb, and OurStage artists The Worsties, Social Jet Lag, and The Design.

Exclusive Q and A: Juliet Simms Takes Us Behind The Scenes of 'The Voice'

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsUp until Superbowl Sunday, Juliet Simms was known solely in the underground modern rock scene as the vocal powerhouse of  pop punk band Automatic Loveletter. On stage, she was a charismatic performer, earning her stripes on the Warped Tour circuit and on club tours with bands like Secondhand Serenade and Cute Is What We Aim For. But behind the scenes, Simms struggled to find a label to call home and was constantly battling those who believed a woman simply couldn’t hang in the male-centric world of rock music. Simms’ tight-knit fan community were by her side, but she couldn’t seem to break into the mainstream the way she wanted to.
In 2011, she took to The Voice‘s stage in hopes of impressing one of the four judges: Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Cee-Lo Green. Her rendition of The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” in the blind auditions was good enough to make all but Shelton fight for her to join their team. After joining Team Cee-Lo, Simms continued to blow the competition out of the water with her covers of “Roxanne,” “Cryin’,” “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and more. She finished in second place on The Voice, but is undoubtedly the contestant that the world is waiting on. We caught up with Juliet to find out more about her experience on the show and what we can expect from her career in the future.

OS: What was your audition process for The Voice? What made you decide to sing “Oh! Darling” for your audition?

JS: I’ve never really been one for covering songs. I’ve always just done originals. However I grew up singing The Beatles and just felt if I was going to do this show, I was going to do it my way and represent the music I so much believe in.

OS: Before you auditioned, did you have a first choice for which coach you’d want to work with? How did it feel when three out of four coaches turned their chairs around for you?

JS: I walked onto the blind audition stage just hoping one would turn around for me. When I saw that three had turned for me I was dumbfounded. Cee- Lo spoke from his heart and I could hear the loyalty in his words. I knew he was the right coach to go with!

OS:  What has life been like for you since the show ended? Do you have any immediate plans of things you’d like to start working on?

JS: Life has been drunk…[laughs] no, just kidding. Being out in the wilderness again is taking some getting used to. I’m pretty much just resting…I was and still am pretty sick so I’m trying to get better. My plans are to take immediate action in making an album.

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"The Voice" Is Back: Ones To Watch

Last year, the premiere of NBC’s The Voice brought new life to the tired format of reality singing competitions. Unlike American Idol and The X-Factor, contestants on The Voice audition for the show by performing for four judges, all of whom have their backs turned. If the judges like what they hear, they press a red button to turn their chair around, thereby claiming the contestant for their team. If more than one judge turns their chair around, they’ll have to fight for the contestant, who then has the opportunity to pick which coach they’d like to work with. Oh yeah, and instead of industry execs and Simon Cowell, the coaches of The Voice are four of the biggest names in music: pop superstar Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, country crooner Blake Shelton and the “Crazy” and colorful Cee-Lo Green. The show has been applauded not only for having a unique format, but also for being extremely accepting of performers from all walks of life, styles and levels of experience.

Last night, The Voice returned for its second season and viewers were not disappointed.  Even the contestants who weren’t chosen by any coaches, like twenty-year-old Daniel Rosa (who performed “Animal” by Neon Trees), were extremely talented. At the end of the night, however, only five performers were selected to compete. Of the group, there is a country singer, an R&B singer, a rock singer, an opera singer and a soul singer, which instantly gets this competition started on a unique note.

Of the five contestants chosen on last night’s episode, two performers truly stood out as early contenders for the win. Jesse Campbell, a formerly homeless single father from Illinois, had all four judges turn their chairs around before he even reached the first chorus of his song. All of them were taken by his flawlessly smooth voice, which is reminiscent to that of season one winner, Javier Colon. When the performance was over, Adam spoke for everyone when he said, “the whole room was on fire.” Though Jesse is an R&B singer, he decided to join Team Christina. We’re sure those two are bound to make a dynamic pair!

The second contestant to watch is twenty-five-year-old rocker Juliet Simms from Clearwater, Florida. Juliet has been a staple in the modern alternative rock scene, performing under the name Automatic Loveletter for several years. Her rendition of The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” had Adam Levine singing at the top of his lungs, and although Blake didn’t turn his chair around, the other three coaches spent plenty of time fighting over her. In the end, she chose Cee-Lo as her mentor”a surprising move that is sure to have awesome results.

It’s clear that the level of talent is already higher than season one, so the pressure is definitely on. Tune in tonight for another episode of The Voice, starting at 8pm on NBC!

Missed the show? Check out Juliet Simms’ performance of “Oh! Darling” below:

Rock 'n' Roll Call: The Best Rock Albums of 2010

Pop artists like Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Ke$ha and Rihanna dominated the charts in 2010. For us rock fans, though, this year was equally huge. There were countless bands reuniting, going out on anniversary tours, playing massive festivals and releasing new material.

In no particular order, here are some of the best rock albums released this year!

My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Those of us who are diehard My Chemical Romance fans were awaiting the band’s fifth studio album with nervous excitement and eager anticipation. We hoped it would live up to the all the hype, but we were also completely unsure of what style the band would try on this time around, as each release has been vastly different from the last. Luckily, MCR delivered a beautifully bright, energetic and well-produced record that shows a freshly polished sound that includes everything from punk to disco. Check out our full review of the record here!

Recommended track: “DESTROYA”

Pierce the Veil – Selfish Machines

San Diego post-hardcore group Pierce the Veil released their sophomore LP, Selfish Machines, back in June. In the first moments of opening track “Besitos,” this album grabs your attention with hand claps, guitar picking, layers of harmonizing vocals and a Latin-influenced beat. PTV ramped up everything on this release, from Vic Fuentes’ unmistakable tenor shrieking to heavy breakdowns and impressive guitar solos. But these rockers can pull off the ballads as well, with the slow number “Stay Away from My Friends” being one of the strongest tracks on the record.

Recommended track: “Caraphernelia” (feat. Jeremy McKinnon of A Day to Remember)

Automatic Loveletter – Truth or Dare

Charismatic singer-songwriter Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter has not been an overnight success story. As she recounts on the track “Story of My Life,” she moved from Florida to LA at fifteen after being offered a record deal from Epic. As the label struggled, Juliet wasn’t dropped, but wasn’t supported either. Armed with her DIY attitude, Simms sold handmade copies of her record and feather hair clips to help support her band out on tour. All the hard work paid off, and Simms became one of the most sought-after guest vocalists, having provided her instantly recognizable raspy pipes to albums from All Time Low, Secondhand Serenade, Cartel and more . On the band’s major label debut, Juliet’s simple acoustic songwriting is taken to new heights, with stadium-ready choruses and charging electric guitars mixed with soft, piano-based ballads.

Recommended track: “Let it Ride”

Envy On the Coast – Lowcountry

Long Island, NY natives Envy on the Coast released the impressive Lowcountry in March. With creative lyrics, daring and experimental musical choices and stellar vocals from frontman Ryan Hunter, this record stands out among its peers as having some of the most original songwriting of the year. Equal parts Incubus, Circa Survive and The Dear Hunter, Envy on the Coast unfortunately called it quits this year as well. Be on the lookout for Hunter’s and guitarist Brian Byrne’s  new project, North Korea, which also features Dilinger Escape Plan drummer Billy Ryan.

Recommended track: “The Great American T-Shirt Racket”

Chiodos – Illuminaudio

When post-hardcore outfit Chiodos kicked out founding member and frontman Craig Owens, many fans were outraged. With his dynamic voice and inspiring stage presence, Owens was not only the band’s most charismatic and well-known member, but also a staple in the modern rock scene. Thousands were sure that this decision was the nail in Chiodos’ coffin, but the release of Illuminaudio showed that this band could carry on, and release one hell of a record. New vocalist Brandon Bolmer not only matches Owens’ range, but he also shows a flair for the dramatic on his lyrics, which was one of Owens’ strongest facets. The band members stepped up their game as well, adding more technical parts to each instrument and keeping the orchestral touches that made 2007’s Bone Palace Ballet a masterpiece in its own right. The breakdowns are heavy, the instrumentation is tight, the vocals are spot-on, so it’s clear Chiodos aren’t going anywhere.

Recommended track: “Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together

VersaEmerge – Fixed at Zero

Due to the success of Paramore, there are now hundreds of identical young female-fronted pop bands trying to find their place in the spotlight. But make no mistake, that doesn’t include Tampa, Florida natives VersaEmerge. Fronted by the electrifying 20-year-old Sierra Kusterbeck, Versa take pop rock to a new level, adding in complex electronic arrangements (courtesy of guitarist Blake Harnage), tightly layered harmonies and wonderfully honest lyrics about Kusterbeck’s own inner conflicts. The band’s first LP, Fixed at Zero, was released this summer and has catapulted the band to buzzworthy status, aided by a full-episode on MTV’s The World of Jenks and placement on the entire 2010 Vans Warped Tour.

Recommended track: “Fixed at Zero”

The Deftones – Diamond Eyes

When The Deftones‘ bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a horrible car accident that left him in a coma, the band shelved their near-completed album, Eros. A year later, they decided to return to the studio (with Sergio Vega of Quicksand filling in for Chi) and wrote what would become Diamond Eyes. The record is mercilessly heavy, verging on metal at times, but also has some slower numbers that add depth and atmosphere to the record. Vocalist Chino Moreno keeps up with the band’s flawlessly-executed prog rock with his high-intensity screams, which can quickly morph into soft and soulful melodies. If you’re looking for a record to rock out to, Diamond Eyes is definitely a front runner this year.

Recommended track: “Rocket Skates”

Ludo – Prepare the Preparations

Few lyricists today have the incredible imagination of Ludo‘s Andrew Volpe. Anyone who needs proof need look no further than 2006’s jaw-dropping five-song rock opera, Broken Bride, which is about a man who mistakenly time travels between the Pre Historic Era and a future apocalypse to save his dead wife. Though Broken Bride is brilliant and beautifully written, it’s going to be tough for Ludo to ever top it. That being said, Prepare the Preparations is an eccentric and quirky pop record, with lyrics that cover everything from robots to dancing skeletons to leprechauns. The songwriting is creative and more experimental than in the past, as Ludo covers everything from acoustic to electronic pop to straight up showtunes.

Recommended track: “Too Tired to Wink”

Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam

As we learned in our Q&A with Eric Nally of Foxy Shazam, it’s very difficult to categorize this outrageous and energetic rock group….and that’s the way they like it. Pieces of punk, soul, funk and indie rock make their way into the band’s self-titled record, which dropped in April. This isn’t a record that you’ll listen to and have to wonder if the group is just as fun live, as Foxy are well known for their off-the-wall theatrical performances. They may be an acquired taste, but either way, you have to give Foxy Shazam props for being genuinely original.

Recommended track: “Count Me Out”

Isles & Glaciers-  The Hearts of Lonely People

Since Pierce the Veil and Chiodos were both on our list, it makes sense that a supergroup including PTV’s vocalist Vic Fuentes and his brother, drummer Mike Fuentes, as well as Chiodos bassist Matt Goddard would also be included. Isles & Glaciers also includes (ex-Chiodos, now D.R.U.G.S.) vocalist Craig Owens, Emarosa/Dance Gavin Dance vocalist and solo artist Jonny Craig, Underminded/D.R.U.G.S. guitarist Nick Martin and ex-Boys Night Out/The Receiving End of Sirens‘ Brian Southall on keyboard and guitar. After many months of pushing back the release, their debut EP The Hearts of Lonely People was released in 2010. Different than any of the members’ past or present bands, Hearts is a mash-up of post-hardcore, electronica and pop rock. The three vocalists here, especially Jonny Craig, really steal the show.

Recommended track: “Hills Like White Elephants”

Leave us a comment below and let us know what your favorite rock album of 2010 were…then check back next week for our list of most anticipated rock albums for 2011!

Behind the Mic: Hitting the Streets

One of the toughest parts about being a musician is getting people who aren’t your friends to care about your band. With a bit of luck and some effective persuasion, you can turn casual fans and acquaintences into a solid street team: a group of people who use grassroots marketing to promote your band.

Most street teams are sent on “missions” to hang flyers or pass out stickers. While these materials are relatively cheap to produce and provide, they are ultimately forgettable. Developing more creative missions will not only better engage your street team,  it will make your promotion more effective.

Florida pop-punk band Automatic Loveletter has a massive street team, with representatives in over one hundred cities and twenty countries. The band has always encouraged members to come up with creative missions of their own, offering free tickets, merch and exclusive online content to whoever comes up with the most unique marketing idea.

In January of 2009, Automatic Loveletter street team members competed with each other by posting pictures of all the creative ways they promoted the band. One fan took photos of supermarket foods re-labeled with Automatic Loveletter’s name and Web site address.  Another fan who worked in a video store placed a promotion card inside every DVD rental. Others decorated their cars, held posters on the side of the road and put mini flyers in clothing at their local mall.

Take a tip from Automatic Loveletter”make your street team missions fun, challenging and creative. Your fans will get much more passionate about their work and your band’s name will be far more memorable.