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The third Saturday of April is a day that brings excitement to fans of an older format of music and a celebration of the art of music, both old and new. Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a meeting of independent record storeowners and employees as a way of celebrating the music and the culture surrounding it. Metallica, the first ambassador, officially kicked off the first Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in San Francisco on April 19th, 2008. It has since seen the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Joshua Homme, Ozzy Osbourne (again), and Iggy Pop. This year the ambassador will be Jack White of the White Stripes.
What makes Record Store Day unique is that all participating stores carry limited and exclusive CDs and vinyl along with other promotional materials that are released in celebration of Record Store Day. It is celebrated globally with hundreds of artists and bands making appearances and performances, as well a chance to meet and greet their fans. One of this year’s exclusive RSD releases will be the ten-year anniversary of the White Stripes album Elephant and will be rereleased in special black, red, and white record. In local Tampa news, Mojo’s Books and Music will celebrate Record Store Day with a hometown show from Pitchfork-approved punk band Merchandise, as well as a full line up on April 20. Microgroove in Seminole Heights will also have special record releases, free drinks and free local music all day.
Some of the artists to look forward to that have releases on Record Store Day this year include: A Place to Bury Strangers, All That Remains, The Animals, Avenged Sevenfold, The Band, Billy Bragg, Biffy Clyro, Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Buddy Guy, Coheed and Cambria, Country Joe and the Fish, Cream, the Cure, David Bowie, Dio, the Fall, Frank Turner, Gary Clark Jr., The Gaslight Anthem, The Notorious B.I.G., Willie Nelson, ZZ Ward, and Pink Floyd. Record Store Day is a throwback to not only the music record stores helped launch, but also to the cultures/subculture it has helped create even to this day.
Not many bands have made a creative switch to turn from punk music to create mariachi, and it seems like it would be impossible for any band to return to its punk roots after a five-year hiatus of punk music. But this is the story of The Bronx, and they are not any ordinary band. The band recently returned to the studio to record their fourth album which they simply named the Bronx IV, one has difficulty believing they played mariachi music. The album possesses tracks that combine a gritty sound, especially the case with lead singer Matt Caughthran, and combines it with a hard pop sound with strong hooks and easily memorable guitar lines/choruses. It doesn’t take a long time to be absorbed by the tracks of the album, it draws in listeners from the opening chords of opening song “The Unholy Hand”, but it also doesn’t require listening to the entire album to get the message. It keeps both new listeners just as entertained as the devoted fans.
The album does contain some negatives though. The album tends to lose steam and slows down as the album progresses; it’s like watching a downward slope in terms of speed. There are also little variations when it comes to the vocals as the gritty sound remains consistent throughout the album, with the exception of the second to last song on the album “Life Less Ordinary”. There is little variation to the formula of the songs as the album progresses which make it difficult to discern between certain songs. The creativity of the album tends to wear thin by the end. The song “Life Less Ordinary” also seems to lack a creative direction and although it is a welcome change of pace to the seemingly androgynous surrounding songs, it feels like a rocket that fails in the middle of launch and fizzes out.
Overall, it’s refreshing to see the Bronx where they belong with the mariachi songs safely put away in the closet. They seem to be right where they left off when they made the switch. They also emulated their first album’s success without simply regurgitating their debut album, which I’m sure all fans can feel a bit of relief over. The album shows a new direction the band wants to take their music and possess a few memorable tracks. I give the album a 7/10 because I feel that the band is using this album to get itself back into the game and launch itself from this starting point. Ultimately I feel as though there will be many things to look forward to from this band and is something to watch in the coming years.
Female pop vocals, fast paced drumming, video games sounds from the 80’s, and catchy choruses/beats. Sounds like a song by Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, right?
Close, but not exactly. Just out of Canada comes Midnight Romeo brandishing their new album full of dance-rock tunes.
Sons of Hippies are a local psychedelic rock band that have been playing the Tampa Bay area for years. After a brief name change (formerly Black Eyed Angels), a few EPs and some experimentation in their music, Sons of Hippies are playing at a Rock the Vote event tonight in St Petersburg. You can read our review of their A-Morph LP and a live review here.
There was a major change in your sound from A-Morph to a more distanced sound. What made that change happen?
Jonas Canales: We took a more polished, tight approach.
Katherine Barnes Kelly: We were trying to write pop music. Let’s try to write popular music and try to get people to like us more than being a psychedelic band. Which isn’t a complete waste of time, but it just didn’t feel right. But the reverb and the delay, that’s more of what we do. It was just kind of like, ‘Let’s try this for an album’
Where do you see the direction of the band going?
Kathryn: It’ll be a combination of both. There was some drone-y, hypnotic stuff that just moved in an ambiguous way on “Fade to White”. There was the whole dynamic shift to a lot of the songs, it was just the same repeated motif, which is cool but I would say that we’ll take the actual sound and put that in more cohesive songs.
Can we expect new material soon?
Katherine: We’ll be coming out with a full length album next year.
[To Katherine] In the past I’ve seen you use a Jaguar, and tonight I saw you with an American Standard guitar. What prompted the change?
Katherine: I’ve had some gear issues lately, and it sucks. The Jaguar was actually the first guitar that I ever had, I got it when I was 14. It’s a very complicated schematic inside the guitar, with pick ups and pick up selectors and the tone, there’s like 30 different combinations of things you can get. Somewhere in there, something is going wrong and it sounds all choked up.
I’ll probably be recording with a Jazz Master.
You just got back from a tour with the Florida Kilos. How has your work with them impacted Sons of Hippies?
Katherine:I have a lot of fun in that band, but I’ve only been with them for a short while. But I had a really good time. The more music you play, the better you’re going to get. I’m using it as an opportunity to experience other kinds of playing, and Shawn’s taught me a lot about guitar. It’s not my material, so it’s a different approach.
Danko Jones is a Canadian rock band from Toronto, Ontario. The band consists of Danko Jones (vocals/guitar), John Calabrese (bass) and new drummer Atom Willard. The band was formed in 1996 and toured consistently for two years refusing to release an album preferring to let fans hear about the live reputation shows through word of mouth. Eventually putting out their own E.P. “My Love is Bold”, they received their first nationwide exposure and a nomination for best alternative album in 2000 for the Juno award. Since then they have released a total of eight albums, including their latest Rock and Roll is Black and Blue.
The simplicity of Danko Jones’s songwriting is uncommon in much of today’s popular music, it appeals to people through its simple chord progressions, catchy choruses, and classic song structures. It draws inspiration from punk and alternative matched with blues and classic rock form a sound that easily creates mass appeal. The concise and barebones style of it allows it to easily be appreciated by new listeners as well as mirror common tunes we all know such as an interesting take they made on a military march in the song “Legs”. The lineup change in the band with Dan Cornelius having been replaced by Atom Willard has not at all changed the sound beloved by the hardcore fans, which may surprise some skeptics.
Danko Jones’s sound mirrors that of Volbeat or Fu Manchu. Rock and Roll is Black and Blue holds true to previous albums gritty rock sound while maintaining harmonies and lyrically hilarious hooks. The blues rhythms matched with the sonic ferocity of punk creates the sound they have been holding on to since the 90s. This may be a double-edged sword however, as it seems to be with this album that it is a regurgitation of their past releases, making few attempts to experiment with a new spin or influence.
Overall Rock and Roll is Black and Blue will entertain both the new listener and the fans. As to whether or not the style will continue and stay relevant if the band refuses to leave its safety zone remains to be seen. The humor within the album combined with the music influence switching from the Misfits like riffs of “I Believed In God” and the Led Zeppelin-esque of “You Wear Me Down” show that quality musicianship is not lacking nor is catchy songwriting.
Sadly, in the music world, there is something known to many as the 'sophomore slump'. This term is used to describe how many bands create a second album that tends to be lacking. The old saying goes “you have your whole life to write your first album, and the label gives you six months to write your second”. Thankfully for the Vaccines, they successfully overcame this problem. The Vaccines have just released their new album “Come of Age”, the follow-up to their debut album “What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?” The fan base has only grown with the release of this album and is allowing the band to gain momentum; they are currently planning their first headlining U.S. tour in 2013.
The Vaccines are a post-punk/indie rock band formed in 2010 out of western London. Their debut record reached number four in the UK charts. This early success is hardly a surprise when The Vaccines are signed with Columbia records, a label shared with some of the biggest names in music today such as Adele, Bruce Springsteen, and One Direction. After touring with bands such as the Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire, their new album is expected to top the charts or at least make the top artists shake a little, especially with their headlining tour coming up.
For those who don’t know, the Vaccines carry a blend of sound of shared influences of their contemporaries, drawing inspiration from the dissonant and rough guitars of Sonic Youth as can be seen on the opening song “No Hope”. They also draw influence from the Clash, the Strokes, and the soft playing of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Their sound has matured and improved since the last album; dropping the reverb that dominated that album in favor of a fuller sound combined with vocal melodies that go hand in hand with the natural guitar progressions. The band sticks together in their playing, with all instruments complimenting each other throughout the recordings.
The Vaccines have a writing style not very uncommon with bands as young as their own. The lyrics are written with a biting sarcasm and loaded with teenage angst through songs such as “I Wish I Was a Girl”, “Teenage Icon”, and “No Hope”. Descriptions in the song “Teenage Icon” tell of how the singer doesn't want to be a teenage idol as he doesn't even understand himself or where he is going in life and there is no point in following someone who is average, nobody special, “suburban and typical”.
The album follows through with its promise of an improved sound; it has already received a warm welcome from fans and is expected to further the fame of the band internationally. The matured sound is only a sign of the coming force of this band when it comes to the U.S. on tour, uncommon in a band so young. This album is not one to look over when deciding on new music to add to one’s collection this year. Overall the album is a tight and well-made release.
Unique sounds are often being hunted by audiophiles, and in the age of instant information, it can shed light on otherwise unknown bands. Willy Moon’s unique blend of sounds has allowed him to create his own style. Willy Moon is a 21 year old who hails from New Zealand. Dropping out of school before leaving New Zealand at age 18 to travel, Willy had no real plan in mind. However, he came to a musical breakthrough with his discovery of the Andrews Sisters, resulting in a lingering obsession with 60s pop. Eventually making it to Berlin and finding the constraints of the rock scene too much, he broke through it by smashing together his own sounds and rhythms. After posting his first song online, Moon acquired a record deal with Jack White’s Third Man Records. Now just after releasing two more songs he hopes to break through and release a full album.
Moon’s unique writing style brings forth his influences almost immediately just by looking at him. He keeps a cool look comparable to Jack White or David Bowie, and they also seem to play a major influence on his music. Moon’s release of two songs takes a lesson from the White Stripes with big beats pulsating throughout the songs. Throughout the EP, Moon keeps a steady rhythm playing along dissonant sounds, which is also reminiscent of the early songs of the Velvet Underground. Already setting himself as a solo artist from the start, in his own words, Moon is “a dictator at heart”. It seems to work for him as he is starting in the musical world off running with a mature sound and a record deal already covered. One can expect Willy Moon to make shockwaves the coming months.
When browsing through local concerts and the local music cd section at a local record store, it is often easy to pass over several diamonds in the rough on the search for sonic nirvana. But there is one band that needs mentioning in particular that is daring to challenge the mold and put forth their unique sound that cannot be simply missed. In September of 2010 the band Sons of Hippies (now known as Black Eyed Angels) released their second studio album A-morph. This album showed a more developed and refined sound as it show’s they’ve been hammering out all the kinks that plague any independent band trying to break through to a wider audience.
Sons of Hippies was created during the 2008 Bonnaroo festival during friendly conversation between Brazilian native Jonas Canales (drums; synths; backup vocals) and Florida-bred Katherine Kelly (lead guitar; lead vocals). After speaking on the subject of family, they both discovered that they actually were children of hippies. They released their debut album Warriors of Light in March of 2009, produced by their mentor Tom Klimchuck. Since then they have begun a cycle of touring recording and touring again. Although based in Sarasota one can find them touring through Tampa known as regulars of local festivals such as Antiwarpt and WMNF's Tropical Heatwave. Sons of Hippies has recently changed up its line-up and now is known by the name Black Eyed Angels.
What makes Sons of Hippies unique is its own musical brand. It can only be described as a combination of psychedelic and punk rock with Brazilian rhythms with lyrical content of apocalyptic and abstract poetry. Sons of Hippies uses a full and trippy vocal arrangement, often with both Katherine and Jonas singing together.Her wailing adds accents to the sound, combining with a large array of foot pedals at her command and Jonas’ ferocious drum skills. Although armed with several effects, they keep a high standard of musicianship and focus throughout every song they play. They draw influences from bands such as Radiohead, Sonic Youth, and a touch of the White Stripes.
What sets this album apart from their previous album was the fact that they brought in more radio-friendly principles but kept their hard edge, not sacrificing anything to bring this album to life. The album starts off with very space-y intro with an esoteric feel. As the first song hits, so does a wave of energy as the tempo picks up drawing the listener in, one also begins to notice some ska influences as the album progresses. The album hits periods of high energy and euphoria, but also somber and slow notes with wailing. As the album closes, the listener will recall the intro and realize the album has come full circle and closes strong.
Overall the album proves that this band can attract a larger audience and can maintain their chops with their instruments. With this album it has also sealed itself as a major local band that can hold its own. This album also showcases the range of musical styles found here in Tampa, from the blues to psychedelic music to punk rock.