Artist Feature: As It Starts

Although I may be biased with my unexplainable affection for Seattle, whenever I discover a new band from that area, my expectations are high. After all, it’s the home of Nirvana and Starbucks. When you’re in Nirvana town, the community has to be a little critical, right?

For indie pop outfit, As It Starts, it’s hard to believe this has ever been a concern. Citing influences from Adele to Death Cab for Cutie, these guys cover everything from acoustic serenades to folk rock riffs. Take a listen to Symphonies below and let us know what you think!


Album Review: Minus The Bear – "Infinity Overhead"

Infinity Overhead, the fifth LP from Seattle-based indie math-rock band Minus The Bear might be the group’s most mature and eclectic record yet.

Right away, the first sound you hear as track 1, “Steal And Blood,” starts is distorted guitar. Much to the dismay of those who may be yearning for some more Omni-ous synth power, that first sound proudly marks the return of the guitar as MTB’s primary instrumental focus and sets the tone for the rest of the album. However, that doesn’t mean the record is completely void of synths and electronic effects (Oh don’t you worry, there are plenty of those). In fact, the mixture of tones on Infinity Overhead is more eclectic yet balanced as a whole than ever before. It’s clear that over the past decade, the guys in Minus The Bear have truly mastered dynamics and flow within an album. This new product seems to be an accumulation of everything they have learned in that time. The sound is still unequivocally “them,” but in a way that is re-inspired and more “mature.” (more…)

Confused and Puzzled…? – Gorillaz, James Murphy, and Andre 3000 (Updated 02/23/12)

Expect the unexpected. Converse has announced they’ll be releasing a collaborative track and music video featuring three top names: Gorillaz, James Murphy, and Andre 3000. Due to drop February 23, the anticipation increased after Seattle ‘s alternative rock station 107.7 The End posted a making-of video on their show – the Daily Swarm. Here’s what we know: it’s entitled DoYaThing and the video will be “ of course “ a hybrid of cartoon animation and film. In addition to this sneak peak, Jamie Hewlett, the cartoonist behind the Gorillaz characters, released a storyboard/teaser of the video. However, the direction of the video remains unclear because of the two additional artists involved. To leave you even more confused than you already are…lets just say, I smash 2-D’s face in the wall… and Get out of my bed… (see videos).


Take out your Converse and enjoy “DoYaThing!” Holding true to the Gorillaz’s signature sound, the track’s groove is funky and downtempo, but Andre 3000’s abstract lyrics and fast rapping style provides the upbeat energy of Outkast, giving the song a truly unique favor.  Also, Jamie Hewlett’s input provides some cool electronic sensations. Overall, it’s simply a bangin’ collaborative tune you’ve got to experience for yourself. Check it out by clicking the link above and keep on groovin’!

Below is the official making-of video released by Converse, as well as Jamie Hewlett’s storyboard:

Exclusive Q&A: Minus The Bear Celebrate Ten Years Of Intricate Indie Rock

Forget about dog years. Bands years are even more unforgiving. Ten of them can seem like one hundred when a group is constantly out on the road or in the studio. Luckily, the rigors of touring life haven’t dampened the spirits of Seattle-based indie rockers Minus The Bear. After writing songs all summer for the follow up to last year’s Omni, they’re embarking on a national tour to celebrate their tenth anniversary this fall. We sat down with bassist Cory Murchy to discuss the band’s favorite Seattle venues, their predilection toward remixes and what it’s like to look back on ten years of hard work.

OS: This fall you guys are playing your 10 Year Anniversary Tour.  Where did you think the band would be in ten years when you began playing together?

CM: You know, when we first started playing I don’t think we had a vision far outside of just having it be something that we did as a side project. We were all in bands before and had bands going on at that time. But I will say that once we started writing songs and did get a little more serious we just wanted to do this as long as we possibly could and let the band run its course. We’ve been stoked that it’s taken us ten years so far.

OS: How do you look back on some of the earliest Minus The Bear songs, like those on Highly Refined Pirates?

CM: It’s always fun to revisit them and listen to the records all in sequence to check out where we were musically. For us, they’re little time capsules as far as what was going on at that time. Maybe it doesn’t even have to do with the song, but certain songs can remind us of certain places in our lives, which is cool. It’s kind of a retrospective of our lives. It’s neat to have that sort of marker.


Metal Monday: Wolves In The Throne Room Trace "Celestial Lineage"

For some time in the metal community, there has been a divide between those who do things traditionally and those who work outside of the box. Historically, there aren’t a lot of bands that bridge this gap (at least not immediately). Wolves In The Throne Room are the exception. While they technically play black metal, they don’t share much else in common with that genre, style or culture. As they’ve addressed in numerous interviews over the last few years, they don’t really believe in the black metal imagery, and they choose not to participate in many activities deemed as “the norm” for the metal community, including moshing at shows.

Celestial Lineage album art

Stating that Celestial Lineage is a big departure from WITTR’s previous material would be a bit lofty, but there are certainly noticeable differences from what had become typical for the band over the course of three records. Previously, the band had played somewhat straightforward atmospheric black metal. Lots of thick textures over the top of buzzing, tremolo-picked guitar lines, hardened by unrelenting blast beats and machine-like drumming. These sounds are still present on Celestial Lineage, but the band adds even more to the mix. The most striking addition can be heard in the very first section of music on the album where choir vocalist Jessika Kenney makes her chilling entrance, which provides an absolutely haunting vocal performance alongside a sparse atmospheric intro.


Rock 'n' Roll Call: 2011's Most Anticipated Rock Albums

Last week, we covered ten of our favorite rock albums for 2010, which included records from My Chemical Romance, VersaEmerge, Foxy Shazam and more.

With new records from Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Coldplay and Beyoncé scheduled to drop, 2011 is already shaping up to be a big year for music.  This week, we’re taking a look at ten of the most anticipated rock releases, which stretch across subgenres from hardcore to electronica to indie rock.

Andrew McMahon of Jack's Mannequin

Jack’s Mannequin – TBA

After 2008’s heartfelt release The Glass Passenger, Jack’s Mannequin frontman Andrew McMahon is ready to release new material. Passenger, which chronicled McMahon’s battle with leukemia, was a darker record then sunny debut Everything in Transit. But going on what we’ve heard so far, the new release will be yet another masterpiece, with plenty of well-executed piano-drenched pop rock.

Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys (Spring)

Indie rock kings Death Cab for Cutie will be releasing their seventh album early next year. Frontman Ben Gibbard promises that this record will be “less guitar-centric” than any of Death Cab’s previous records, which have typically been of slower, chord-based song structure. Lyrically, bassist Nick Harmer insists that this album will have a much broader emotional scope than 2008’s Narrow Stairs.

Pete Wentz and Bebe Rexha of Black Cards

Black Cards – TBA

After the band announced their hiatus, Fall Out Boy‘s Pete Wentz decided to keep doing what he does best”make undeniably catchy pop music. Teaming up with then-unknown vocalist Bebe Rexha, Saves the Day drummer Spencer Peterson and The Receiving End of Sirens guitarist Nate Patterson, Wentz created Black Cards. The group’s music (especially Rexha’s vibrato-soaked vocals) is reminscent of early No Doubt, with an influx of dance-worthy electronic beats.

Taking Back Sunday – TBA (Spring)

Taking Back Sunday‘s lineup has changed so many times that their Wikipedia page has a full chart to help fans understand the eleven-year timeline of the group’s career. After a few missteps with new members”even frontman Adam Lazzara apologized for 2009’s New Again”the original lineup is back, making this one of the most anticipated releases for any fan of TBS’ genre-defining album, Tell All Your Friends. From the sounds of the demos that have already been posted, it looks like TBS is returning to their roots and ready to make a big comeback.

No Doubt – TBA

No Doubt

It’s amazing to think that ska-princess-turned-pop-superstar Gwen Stefani had any time in 2010 to return to the studio and make a brand new record with her band, No Doubt. Since the band’s humble beginnings in the late ’80s, Stefani has become a powerhouse solo artist, entrepreneur, fashion designer, wife and mother. But, somehow, she was able to make some time for writing music, and No Doubt’s comeback album is eagerly awaited by fans young and old. As of now, details have been pretty hush-hush about this release, but we’re betting that the new No Doubt will be bigger and better than ever.

Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.) – February

After a full-year hiatus from the stage, charismatic ex-Chiodos frontman Craig Owens is back. Joined by members of Underminded, From First to Last, Story of the Year and Matchbook Romance, Owens has already made a huge splash on the modern rock scene with his new project, D.R.U.G.S. The band will be releasing their album in February, before they head out on Alternative Press’ AP Spring Tour 2011. From the sounds of the tracks already released, this post-hardcore supergroup is poised for a massive takeover.


fun. –  TBA (Summer)

As we learned in our Q&A with Nate Ruess of fun., the group is hard at work on their sophomore LP and are hoping to release it next summer. The band’s debut album, Aim and Ignite, was an exciting, refreshing and eclectic mix of everything from indie pop to showtunes. Fans are definitely on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what this band will do next.

Cobra Starship – TBA

Still riding high off the success of their latest record, Hot Mess, Cobra Starship have already begun recording their next album. Hot Mess spawned the 2009 smash “Good Girls Go Bad” and launched the band from the small-scale modern rock scene to rulers of Top 40 radio. Though no details have been released about the new album, Cobra’s history dictates that it will be chock-full of undeniably catchy, dance-worthy rock numbers.

The Mars Volta – TBA

Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta

GRAMMY-award winning experimental rock group The Mars Volta have kept pretty quiet about their upcoming release, which will be the sixth in the band’s career. The band entered pre-production back in May, and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez recently announced via Twitter that they were putting the finishing touches on the record. This will also be the first record where vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala will be writing all of his own lyrics, with no guidelines or concept provided by chief songwriter Lopez.

Emery – TBA (January/February)

Seattle-based rock group Emery delighted their fans when they returned to their roots on 2009’s …In Shallow Seas We Sail. Full of charging instrumentation, sweeping vocals and shimmering with top-notch production, the record left Emery fans satisfied, but also craving more. The band announced that they are planning to release the album in the early months of 2011, hopefully with some tour dates to follow!

What records are you most looking forward to hearing in 2011? Let us know in the comments!