posted by Patricia Furpurse 1
Portland disco kings, Strength have been packing venues and setting dance floors on fire for a few years now with their suave, sexy, butt shaking electronic disco pop. Part electro, part Rolling Stones, part best drunk make-out of your life, these three puddle town gents, Bailey Winters (vocals), Johnny Zeigler (keyboards, programming), and Patrick Morris (guitars, drum machine, bass) make dance music chock full of positive vibes, funny lyrics, and unforgettable hooks. Their second album, “Mind-Reader” drops September 3rd on Community Disco. Chris Young over at Oregon Music News did a great story and interview with them that I highly recommend. Read it here. More info on how to buy the record soon. If you’re in Portland, see them live at Holocene for their CD release party with special guests Fake Drugs and DJs Copy and Patricia Furpurse.
Baron von Luxxury
“Metal” is also available on vinyl along with a sister release (on Aerobic International) by Falsetto (aka me, Nicolas from Sugar and Gold and Loose Shus!)
Starting from two buddies into music, Matt Mooty and Chance Morgan pieced together a rock band Cowtown has deemed its own.
Fort Worth natives The Burning Hotels will appear on campus tomorrow to perform for EXCEL Campus Activities' Friday Night Live concert. The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday with Springfest hopeful The Dirty Dandies as the opening act.
The Burning Hotels and its post-punk take on indie rock has been catching the Metroplex's attention as they have taken multiple awards from FW Weekly for Rock Album of The Year (2008, 2010), Rock Act of the Year and Rock Song of the Year (2010).
The group also had its song "Stuck In The Middle" featured in the soundtrack for the movie Bandslam. Before they come to UTA and travel to Austin for a show Saturday night, Mooty, the band's guitarist and vocalist, answered a few questions about the band's origins and how they plan to progress after their first full length album, Novels.
The Shorthorn: So where did The Burning Hotels get its start?
Matt Mooty: Me and Chance had been playing since middle school and writing took us that direction and we formed and met Wyatt [drummer] and over time we eventually met Marley [bass player]. It was a very organic process but by no means overnight.
TS: How would you describe the music?
MM: I would guess like sexy-punk-math-rock. Heck, I don't know. I've had a hard time answering that question for years now, but I definitely can't. It gets its comparisons. We have our influences probably I suppose, lets just sexy math rock punk.
TS: You've been opening up for some big acts, most recently was the Toadies.
What was that like opening up for them?
MM: It was quite a surreal experience. If you grew up in the area, it's one of things that growing up here and I mean the Toadies - they were just huge. I was only like 10 years old. We were just kids listening to this stuff and now were playing with it.
TS: You've been getting awards from FW Weekly, what's that been like for you all?
MM: Fort Worth has been good to us. That just makes it, I don't want say official, but it's just really cool. It's not like we won a Grammy by any means, but the feeling is just as good. You're still playing for people who love your music.
TS: One of the awards you received was for the song "Austin's Birthday" which had a video. Do you all have any videos in mind to follow that up?
MM: We have a new track that's going to be leaking out sometime soon and it's got a video with it, but I don't know when. That's definitely on the horizon very soon and it's a little different from the normal Burning Hotels stuff. It's been kinda stale as far as all the video viral stuff lately, but I'm glad we got something coming up.
TS: What's in store for the band this year?
MM: We're basically just trying to be hermits - staying in, playing music and getting together. Not only focus on trying playing so many shows. The stuff that's been happening has organically been just a little different and I think we want to harness that and not focus so much on touring.
TS: How are you going to follow up Novels?
MM: We're going to write what feels good. It's hard to really say. We've written two records that you can definitely tell there's a progression from one to the next. But the next one is going to probably going to be a little more noticeable of a change.
No one has rated this album. You can be the first. Prize Country - With Love
Reviewed by: Allular
Prize Country - With Love
Record Label: Hex Records
It isn't hard to be a popular heavy band these days. If you went to the Warped Tour this year, you would've seen newer acts like Bring Me The Horizon and Attack Attack draw bigger crowds than respected Warped mainstays like Alkaline Trio, Reel Big Fish and Face to Face combined. Just bring the 808 triggered breakdowns, drop A tuned guitars and good looks. So what do you do if you're a band like Portland, Oregon's Prize Country that recently released With Love, an exercise of intelligent post-hardcore that's hard to come by these days since Pretty Girls Make Graves put down their guitars for keyboards.
What Prize Country does on With Love is utilize the heavier aspects of Northwest legends These Arms Are Snakes, the vocal stylings of Snapcase (aka no singing, just throat shredding yells) that are blended with guitars that sound like if Drive Like Jehu and Botch had a lovechild. This mixture of influences make Prize Country one of the more unique heavy bands out there today because how much they're not like the aforementioned metal/hardcore Warped Tour darlings.
Lyrically, Prize Country isn't inspiring nor clever, just merely focusing on the dirty and lustful side of relationships, like the sexual romps of "What We're Made Of" ("Lie down and slide in/Fill the space between") and "Regular Nights" ("Your eyes like a bedroom of lies/So many secrets in your thighs"). As blunt as their subject matter is, it's as blunt as their songs. Turn up "Gamble" as loud as you can and try not to air drum along to Joshua Northcutt's tasteful yet aggressive drumming as singer/guitarist Aaron Blanchett yells "suck down" repeatedly. It's the album's catchiest moment, if such statement could be made about their music.
The record's best song is the closer "With Love", which has the thing that the rest of the record is lacking: melody. During the verses, the ethereal "ooohs" give the song the emotional punch that the rest of the record is lacking. Not to say that the lack of vulnerability is a bad thing, it's plain to see these guys just want to tear faces off, it's that Prize Country, with the minuscule beauty that they display in "With Love", satisfies any longing for an sentimental moment in their music. It's a contrast that Prize Country could use more of.
With Love's only issue is that the songs do blend together into one big song but fortunately, it's one awesome, brutal song. If you miss the creative yet aggressive guitar work of older Pacific Northwest bands like Pretty Girls Make Graves and Botch, the grooves of Quicksand or Helmet, or want to graduate into more interesting territory other auto-tuned hardcore, Prize Country could just be the gateway band to bigger and better heavy music.
Recommended If You LikeMid 90's post-hardcore; Drive Like Jehu; Snapcase - Designs for Automation
Welcome Home Walker plays music and space checkers! They are set to perform at The Earl
Photo: Photo taken by Josh Winsor
Grab your dancing shoes, bikes, skates, Marta card or anything other than a gas-guzzling, eco-meanie car down to the East Atlanta village for the East Atlanta Strut! It's gonna be a long day... and night.
Starting at 11 a.m., the East Atlanta Strut will celebrate its 15th year of bringing walkers and festival-goers together for the purpose of raising funds the neighborhood. A pot full of art and food vendors will be here cooking up all types of goodies to satisfy anybody willing to have a good time. Also, 99X will take over the main stage with bands like The DOLLDAZE, Holliday Brothers, East Ponce Soul Faction and many more! Not to mention there will be a battle of the marching bands that no one would want to miss.
But, that's not the reason you want to go to East Atlanta Strut. No, people attend it for the festivities that follow!
Rock N' Roll Kills is breaking out The Booze.... and a few other killer bands.
The Earl is going to be jam packed with East Atlanta Strut lingerers playing music to bring out your inner-inner strut. Bands like The Booze, The Biters and Welcome Home Walker will be hitting the stage bringing their talents with them.
The Booze is a band that is nothing like their name. Why? Because they are nothing to drink through! Hailing from Atlanta, this band carries a tune straight out of the 60s and bring it into, well, 2010. It's not a pop, Beatlemania-type of sound they have, but a sound that is totally vintage rock.
Opening for The Booze is The Biters. Vintage rock in nature, this band is as grand as their predecessor, Cheap Trick. Their set is sure to keep The Earl crowd entertained and ready for the headliners. The other opener, Welcome Home Walker, is the only band not from the Atl. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, this band provides a little humor to their 60s-sounding swagger. Aside from their garage band, old school rock kind of sound, Welcome Home Walker also adds a pinch of R&B/gospel to their repertoire.
Seven-piece, groove-based rock outfit Paper Tongues formed in Charlotte, N.C., in 2007 with a desire to shake things up. The result, as found on the band’s self-titled full-length debut from March, is high energy hip-hop-rock embellished with elements of R&B, electronica and funk. Not so much Limp Bizkit as NERD-meets-(Hed) PE.
Portland's music scene delivers delight in the form of mellow pop-rockers The Winebirds. One of the most noticeable features of The Winebirds is their boy-girl vocal approach. I Obscenity In Thy Mother's Milk is the lead song on the album and sets a light and happy tone that reminds me of a slightly dreamy version of Tegan and Sara, if they were from the 70s. My favorite track on the album is Hit Machine with its melancholic yet bouncy style that recalls The Clash's London Calling if it were underpinned by Cardigan sounding synth-pop. A worn-down and jaded emotion permeates Out In The Van as its dueling vocals sound tired and parallel the late-night barroom piano lines. The shimmering church-organ synths set up the gospel chorus perfectly. Acoustic strumming and dusty male vocals paint a somber portrait on Tideman before a powerful yearning overtake the layered boy girl vocals of the chorus. The seasons change into a sweltering summery gust on Vanity. A thick bass and intoxicating female vocals dance like flames across a sea of bewitching keyboards. A hint of the Beatles surfaces on Superdelegate but it is masked by punky male vocals that bring to mind the singer for The Testors. A manic paranoia seeps into the desperate notes of Cassandra while insistent female vocals bury themselves into your subconscious to haunt you in silent future moments. Hypnotic vocals and desert acoustic guitars drift in an airy breeze on the album's closer, The Hill. Séance Hill is a sensitive and emotional tapestry of deep musical roots and pop sensibilities that is smooth, like butter, across the ears. http://www.nocturnalcult.com/newcontents.htm
Portland’s Strength made a name for themselves a few years back with their mix of disco and electro with some indie rock influences. The group’s newest full length Mind-Reader looks to continue this trend as it has some catchy songs that will stick with listeners for days after they have listened to it. Despite the fact that you’ve heard plenty of bands like this before these guys have some great hooks, but the short length might be a tad bit disappointing.
The material on Mind-Reader is a combination of beat heavy songs that take influence from electro and disco and rock tracks that have a good deal of guitar distortion and some slight punk vibes. Now, anyone that’s been knowledgeable about popular forms of indie music in recent years will realize that I basically just described a sound that every group is using right now. Strength will undoubtedly remind you of a number of other acts out there (the fact sheet name drops Chromeo and Datarock and I’d also throw in a little LCD Soundsystem and Ghostland Observatory) but this isn’t an issue at all. Why is that? The answer is that these guys have killer hooks. Despite some initial reservations I found that these songs all stood on their own and days later I still had some of them in my head, and that says a lot. However, this disc only offers eight songs and lasts for about half an hour and that short length is going to leave some listeners disappointed that there isn’t just a little more substance.
Vocalist Bailey Winters has a pitch that is just drenched with sex appeal (and I’m saying this as a straight male) and this will surely help Strength to have a fairly broad appeal. While Mind-Reader doesn’t seem to have as many songs that are as in your face with sexuality, there are a few such as “Brandy” that go over the top with it and use their sexual imagery as a means to make these songs get stuck in your head. Strength’s songs are interesting in the sense that they have simplistic choruses that make for good club/rave tracks, but if you go deeper and investigate their themes you will find a group that are more complex than they let on.
Mind-Reader is a killer album and while it does feel far too short to me I guess I can’t complain too much since each of the eight songs are extremely strong and stand out. I realize there are hundreds of these disco/electro inspired bands out there right now but Strength is one that is worth checking out. However, I for one am hoping that they’ll be putting out more songs in the near future as this disc did leave me wanting more. http://www.communitydisco.com/ http://cosmosgaming.com/articles.php?id=2846&articletype=review
on a noble tradition is the soundtrack to your life. For more than a decade, through four albums, a thousand shows (celebrating that milestone, appropriately enough, at the 27th Laughlin River Run), and shows with Gov’t Mule, Doobie Bros., Cheap Trick, Buckcherry, Army of Anyone, UFO and Joe Bonamassa, among others, this hard-driving quartet’s music can be heard on a variety of TV shows, including the Super Bowl, NHL and NBA playoffs, as well as NASCAR.
With their fifth album, Drive, JUDGE JACKSON have put all that road work to good use, with an eclectic collection that doesn’t just show off their patented hard rock rave-ups on songs like the title track, “Just Because,” “Radio” and “Letting Go,” but demonstrates the band’s roots in funk-blues (“The End”), acoustic folk (“Me Then You”) and even country-twang (“Meant to Be”).
Produced, engineered and mixed once more by frequent collaborator John Hiler [Stephen Stills, Willie Dixon, Smashing Pumpkins], Drive wears JUDGE JACKSON’s passion for music and the camaraderie of rock on its sleeve. From guitarist Lee Jackson’s slashing power chords, J.J. Garcia’s pounding drums and Brian James’ bass rumble of “Just Because,” as singer Todd McTavish relates the tale of a stripper “who does what she does/just because it pays the rent,” and the revved-up joys of home in “The River” to the Black Sabbath-meets AC/DC gnarly guitar pyrotechnics of “Radio,” about the thrill of hearing your record on the air, to the Guns N’ Roses flair of “Letting Go,” with its vow of “letting go to what I’ve left behind,” Judge Jackson remain true to their rock and roll beliefs.
The roots of JUDGE JACKSON can be traced back to 1995, when vocalist/lyricist McTavish, who came to town from Canada, where he once played in a band that featured Shania Twain as back-up vocalist, joined up with guitarist/songwriter Jackson in L.A. to tirelessly play the town’s club circuit, where they steadily built a devoted local following. By 1998, the band released its debut album, followed shortly thereafter by a second CD, 8068. Drummer Garcia joined the group shortly after the release of JUDGE JACKSON’s third CD, One Diamond, which marked the band’s multimedia breakthrough, with “Amazing” receiving airplay on more than 30 stations across the U.S., while “Times Been Changing” was featured on NBC’s popular comedy My Name Is Earl. Still another track, “King,” is now the theme to the Speed Channel NASCAR program, Victory Lane, viewed by more than a million fans every Sunday.
From the band’s self-titled fourth album, released in March, 2007, “Lift the Bottle” and “Rock N’ Roll” have been featured on several Fox Sports Network promos and programs. In addition, the group wrote and recorded a brand-new song, “Get Busy,” for Fox Sports’ college football telecasts.
And while they’ve been the best-kept secret on the L.A. rock scene, JUDGE JACKSON is starting to get some recognition. The group’s last album was named “Best CD of the Year” in the 5th Annual All Access Magazine Awards. Since then, the group has added bassist Brian James, formerly of The Rocking Scoundrels and Stone, to replace longtime member Ryan Rogers. On his rare time away from JUDGE JACKSON, the band’s songwriter McTavish has been collaborating with other artists, including Motley Crue’s Mick Mars.
Drive offers conclusive proof JUDGE JACKSON still has their eye on the prize, with a powerful set of songs that runs the gamut from the joys of friendship (the Journey-meets-The Who anthem, “Pickin’ Me Up), the road (“Drive”), home (“The River”), traveling music (“Radio”) and falling in love (“Head Over Heels”) to the sorrows of regret (“Me Then You” “Meant to Be,” with a gorgeous duet featuring Julia Henry) and breaking up (“Letting Go,” “The End”), expressed as only a rock band knows how—with soaring vocals, churning guitars, and a rhythm section that punches you in the gut.
The album is the perfect accompaniment to the warm weather, which, come to think of it, means 12 months a year in sunny SoCal. “I drink too much/I like to cuss/Always good at getting down and dirty/And having fun/In that summer sun/Chasing girls that are all so purdy,” sings McTavish, and you couldn’t come up with a better description of the way listening to JUDGE JACKSON’s music makes you feel. It’s rock and roll the way it’s meant to be.
The Winebirds [Garage / Melodramatic Popular Song / Pop] Portland
Portland indie-pop heartwarmers The Winebirds are a defiantly analog band for the digital age. Their debut LP, Seance Hill, is a labor of traditionalist love burrowing straight from the basement of Big Pink; a bewitching album reverently constructed from spools of dusty two-inch tape, ribbon microphones, tube amps and stacks of vintage keyboards. "We're super old-gear snobs,” says guitarist/vocalist Reggie. "We'll definitely try five different amps until we find the right one."
The attention to detail paid off with Seance Hill, an album that is redolent of the warm vinyl-crackle of Fleetwood Mac, Dolly Parton or Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones—but still able to go toe-to-toe with the campfire cuddles of Belle & Sebastian, the cerebral indie-twang of Rilo Kiley or the brassy bubblegum of the New Pornographers.
Reggie and keyboardist Garth have been lifelong allies since their days sitting together in the science class of a Portland junior high school. After years of cycling through various high school garage bands, they conceived The Winebirds after a few nights of "drinking, doing a lot of other unhealthy things, and writing a lot of music."
ShareSeattle’s J Minus has produced a new video for their single, “Congratulations, You Suck” off of their latest album, Devil Music. The video contains a pretty sweet claymation to tell the story of a an evil ex-girlfriend that ends up auctioning her clay boyfriend off on E-bay. The song has a fun Jamiriquoi meets John Mayer with a banjo feel. Check it out.
It's been four long years since the synth-disco trio, Strength, self-released its debut LP, the swanky collection of love jams entitled, Going Strong, but this Friday us Portlanders who have been pining over the über-confident threesome will have to wait no more. September 3rd marks the album release party for the baby-makin'-music-makers highly anticipated sophomore effort, Mind-Reader.
If you've ever seen Strength perform, you know that Bailey Winters' sassy, sex-saturated vocals accompanied by catchy Euro-disco hooks and pelvic gyrations aplenty can get even the most tight-laced prick shakin' his groove thang. With Fake Drugs, DJ Copy and DJ Patricia Furpurse warming up the Holocene crowd, this will, without a doubt, be the sweaty dance party of the summer (or is it fall now?). If you're yet to be convinced about Strength's pure sex appeal, check out the mp3 below for the first track off Mind-Reader, "Metal".
If you're still not convinced, how about the fact that the show only costs $5? I thought that'd hook ya! See you sexy bitches on the dance floor. Show starts at 9 pm. 21+.
[DIRTY DANCING] Anyone who has ever heard the slinky, aggressive confidence of one of Strength’s “love jams,” or caught the Portland synth-disco trio at one of its too few and far between local shows, would expect its members to be cocksure, strutting sex gods. But the three humble, soft-spoken gentlemen (seriously, at times they were barely audible) I met last week barely seemed like they could be in your high school’s jazz band, let alone be some of Portland’s sexiest late-night soundtrack-makers.
“[The band] is like a release,” says singer Bailey Winters, acknowledging his relatively timid “real-life” demeanor. “We’re not crazy. And we’re not drinking heavily and then going up onstage and then drinking some more, which a lot of bands do…. We’re the band who’s always saying, ‘Where are we sleeping tonight? We brought our sleeping bags. If we could just have this room, that would be cool.’”
“We don’t party that much,” agrees guitarist/drum-programmer Patrick Morris. “But you can take really fun music seriously, and I think we do. Probably too seriously.”
But don’t let that sort of quiet professionalism confuse you: The guys from Strength can create a raucous party anywhere with their indulgent, beat-driven anthems. Morris, Winters and keyboardist Johnny Zeigler met as students at California Institute of the Arts and initially formed a more straight-ahead rock band. But after witnessing the crowd reaction to the dance music that followed their performances at college parties, they switched tactics.
“When the band finished, everyone would stop staring…and a DJ would put on tapes and then the party was fun,” Winters remembers. “So we were like, ‘We should be that tape of Madonna instead of the rock band that just went on.’”
The band moved to Portland seven years ago, and then, inspired by Nile Rodgers’ productions, electronic dance music and Quincy Jones-era Michael Jackson, it released its 2006 debut, Going Strong, a collection that introduced our town to Strength’s hip-shaking, lip-smacking, swaggering disco pop (which comes replete with Winters’ pleading, Mick Jagger-esque vocals). But acoustic folk-rock acts dominated Portland’s music scene and Strength was alien among them, urging earnest rockers onto dance floors.
“When we first started, people were surprised by the backing track, by the electronic music,” says Morris. “And now everybody has electronic backup tracks. Well, not everyone, but it’s so common that you can go into a club and say, ‘So, we’ve got a computer.’ And [sound guys are] like, ‘We’ve got you covered.’”
It’s been four years since Strength last released a record, and a lot has changed in its adopted hometown. Acts from Deelay Ceelay to Copy have made sweaty dance parties de rigueur at rock clubs. And Strength’s long-awaited sophomore effort, Mind-Reader—a darker, more ghostly take on its heavy-breathing aesthetic—is finally ready to get parties started again.
The perfectionist band may work slowly, but the results are definitely worth the wait. “I think maybe more things could happen for Strength if we operated differently,” says Winters thoughtfully. “I just think we’re going as fast as we can.”
Seattle's J Minus has released a free MP3 and a rad claymation video to go with it!
"Congratulations, You Suck" is off their latest album Devil Music.
Watch "Congratulations, You Suck" video:
Notes: First video from the our new album 'Devil Music'.
This was my (Dylan) first time working with animation...or with a video camera for that matter. Special thanks to my sister Tae for helping with scenery ideas and Jennifer Newberry for playing the "evil ex" role. Check out her music: Jennifer Newberry Official Website.
Buy CDs, MP3s, more:
J Minus on Amazon.com
J Minus on Amazon.co.uk
J Minus bio:
The story of J minus goes back to classical times. While studying the supernatural music of the spheres, the ancients discovered a bizarre musical key somewhat like the cry of a baby zebra. They knew it was powerful and they kept it a secret, referring to it only as "J minus."
FREE download: "Congratulations, You Suck" MP3
Fast-forward to 2002. Songwriter Dylan Fant would accidentally summon this forgotten key in his studio while he sang parts to his songs; the result was awesome and terrifying.
Through chance introductions and online ads, others joined his attempts to duplicate the feat. Trevor Wheetman and Chris Mongillo brought their voices and guitars and Myer Harrell provided the bass.
For years they toiled in vain, but they knew their work together - from energized rock to poignant acoustic ballads - was worthwhile in and of itself. The band members stumbled upon the J minus legacy and the name became a reminder of their lifelong mission: to move listeners to laughter and tears with music.
This is not your typical rock group; they don't party hard or wear tight pants, and share only two tattoos among them on alternating weekends. They don't sound quite like anyone (aside from hints of radio-friendly rock reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, The Samples, and Toad the Wet Sprocket). They are the alternative to "alternative" at a time when indie rock is the status quo.
They released their third full-length album Devil Music this year, and if you find them on stage there is a possibility that the stars will align...and you will be the first in years to witness the elusive sound of J minus.
STRENGTH, FAKE DRUGS, DJ COPY, DJ PATRICIA FURPURSE
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) Sweet justice! Strength have a new album, Mind-Reader, that is as sexy and dancey and silly as 2006's Going Strong, but this time around the guys have come even further into their own with fuller, slicker sounding tracks. Singer Bailey Winters exudes more confidence than ever with his sultry one-track-mind persona. John Ziegler has mastered his Casio, turning out richer synth melodies that feel both '80s and modern, but not in that annoying sardonic hipster kind of way. Patrick Morris continues to pluck out irresistible disco guitar hooks, providing the underlying funk that gets bodies gyrating. While you can clearly hear the band's progress on the new album, you really haven't experienced Strength until you've seen them live. The three are so at ease with their seductive, playful characters that you can't help but indulge in some arm waving and hip thrusting alongside them on the dance floor. AVA HEGEDUS
Paper Tongues, Mix Master Mike headlining Buccaneers' Kickoff Party
It seems odd for a band whose most famous song is titled Ride to California to help launch the new season of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But that's what'll happen when the Bucs' annual Kickoff Party takes place Sept. 10.
Buzzworthy modern rockers Paper Tongues and Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike will take the stage at Jannus Live for the annual event, which is free and open to the public. As always, Bucs players and coaches will make appearances and toss beads and goodies into the crowd.
Interestingly, this is the first year since the Kickoff Party began in 2005 that it hasn't been held at Channelside in downtown Tampa. Previous concert headliners include Trapt (2009), Saving Abel (2008), Shinedown (2007), Edwin McCain (2006) and Sister Hazel (2005).
Far be it from Soundcheck to question the concert-booking abilities of a National Football League Team, but over the past four seasons, the Bucs have gone 4-12, 9-7, 9-7 and 3-13. Maybe a new musical direction is needed. How about these guys?
J Minus - Devil Music (Independently released CD, Pop)
Simply good music without unnecessary ingredients getting in the way of the songs. The promo sticker on this disc compared the band's music to The Wallflowers, Matt Nathanson, Matt Kearney, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Ra, and The Samples...which gives a good indication of where the guys in J Minus are coming from (we would add Ben Folds to the list as well). Devil Music seems like an odd title for an album in which the music sounds anything but satanic (?!). Folks searching for good solid pop with threads of cool soul will find a lot to love here. Instead of following trends and toying with the latest technological gadgets...these guys stick to the basics and just seem like they're in it to have a good time and entertain folks. Groovy tracks include "Congratulations, You Suck," "Who We Were," "Swing Low," "Into the Dark," and "Episode 2."
WHAT IT IS: The third album from J Minus, a Seattle-based quartet whose sound is nearly impossible to pigeonhole. This Dylan Fant-fronted group shifts uneasily between straight-up ’90s throwback (the delightful, radio-ready “Seasons”) to dark, atmospheric early-a.m. ballads (“No Sleep Tonight”).
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: A little piece of advice: If you want to thoroughly enjoy J Minus’ “Devil Music,” don’t look at its artwork. Simply ask a friend to unwrap the disc from its packaging when it arrives in the mail and have them place the offending material in the trashcan before carrying on with your listening experience. Hopefully without forming too much of a solid image in your mind, I’ll share this: Wholly misleading crayon art accompanies this album. Its front cover, for one, is a field scene of a couple skipping along underneath a rainbow — all in crayon, mind you, and looking as if it were etched out by an ambitious gradeschooler. Now, I have nothing against using sloppy crayon drawings for album art if they’re somehow related to kids or sunshine-y days (this approach worked splendidly on the impressive 2000 tribute album “Songs for Summer”), but it just doesn’t work here. I wouldn’t normally waste so much space dissecting an album’s artwork, but I felt like this one’s step into “crayondom” was so hopelessly misguided that at least 85 percent of potential listeners will simply pass on it because of the cover. … OK, my overseers just informed me to A) take a breath and B) get on with the record review. So, here goes: There is nothing inherently groundbreaking about this group or album, but it isn’t without its merits. While J Minus scores big when it is manufacturing highly enjoyable (though light on substance) pop tarts — in particular “When the Lights Go Out” and the aforementioned “Seasons” — its appeal starts to stumble when it moves away from vaguely Toad the Wet Sprocket-inspired territory.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Head down to the “MP3 buffet.” At best, the songs on “Devil Music” will bring you back to the oh-so-sentimental days of “Dawson’s Creek.” (You know, small towns and figurative butterflies in the stomach.) At worst? Think one of the “American Pie” sequels. Needless to say, you don’t need those bland throwaway tracks weighing down your record collection.
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Hey, guys, this is J.R. Hardee from Paper Tongues! I’ve been playing with Paper Tongues for three years, but I’ve been tappin’ them old skins since I was three feet tall. I used to drag out all the pots and pans from my mom’s kitchen and make a drumset out of them. Now I play a Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute kit, and it’s sweet because it actually sounds like drum tones instead of the annoying clanging of metal on metal. We all have to start somewhere, right?
I didn’t grow up taking lessons, but I had a natural sense of rhythm from my pops, Ricky Dean, the percussionist/BBQ god, and my poppy Gary, the fishing drummer. Poppy now plays steel guitar and is the proud songwriter of hits such as “Margarita Momma.”
Though I never took lessons, I always looked up to and studied the underground hip-hop community, Carter Beauford, and Jeff Buckley’s drummer, Matt Johnson. With all the amazing opportunities Paper Tongues are getting, I hope to truly inspire kids to play drums as much as these players inspired me.
I’m going to exit now due to the fact that I’m writing this on my iPhone and my thumb is getting tired. I’ll post more down the road. Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll see you out at a show. Play with your heart and soul, stay in control, and rock ’n’ roll!
Photo by Brad Moore. For more on J.R. Hardee and Paper Tongues, go to http://www.papertongues.com/.
Q/A: Four years of horror: Strength’s ‘darker’ sophomore album
by Chris Young
What are three art school, almost 30-something white boys doing making funky, sexalicious music? Not asking for your permission, Strength is telling you, “Let’s get down” with the release of their second–long, long, long-awaited–album, Mind-Reader. The self-produced, recorded and released album comes out on September 3rd, coinciding with a CD release gig at Holocene with Fake Drugs, DJ Copy, and DJ Patricia Furpurse.
Feeling up MJ and Prince for their goodies, the California-natives but PDX-transplants since ‘03 set out to make a horror-dance album but got distracted along the way by their normal shenanigans of sexy electro-funk-soul. And why shouldn’t they get diverted? …While diverting themselves with their tongue-in-cheekiness. Ridiculous lyrics, indelible riffs and thumping beats make you wanna get up and freak your girl while trying to lay her down.
Looking to make a “darker” sophomore album, Bailey Winters (vox), John Zeigler (keys, programming), and Patrick Morris (guitars, programming) didn’t get distracted with the production, it consumed them–every sound is delicately and deliberately placed. This is why it took them so damn long–four years long–for the release of album #2. But being seriously scrupulous doesn’t mean they can’t have fun, including a vampire track (“Blood” with lyrics “My body’s weak, I’m out of time, I need her blood before sunrise”) and a bit of punk rock, albeit still quite smoothly produced punkiness, on the energetic “Disaster.”
“I thought it would be great to just have a punk song, one of our own,” says lead singer Bailey Winters. “And it goes over pretty well. I think it shakes things up a little bit.”
And the darker vibe is plainly typified by the aggressively hittining first single “Metal”:
The guys met at the California College of the Arts in Oakland in 2001, forming a “Weezer-esque” rock band called The Suds. Strength was then formed in 2003, the same year they graduated, after they realized that the real dance party began after the bands, when the DJs started to spin. Post-graduation, they moved to Portland because “John was chasing a girl,” says Winters, but also “it sounded exciting to all move together.” They were not familiar with Portland but it was cheaper and “fun to get away from where we grew up.”
After four years between their first and second album, Strength still retains their sense of humor in their recordings and on stage, where the act is stern and seductive (hilariously so), while they look to tour more in support of Mind-Reader.
You always say so in concert, but you two [Bailey Winters and Patrick Morris] aren’t really brothers, are you?
Bailey Winters: We’re not actually related but I do like saying that he’s my brother. [Laughs]
I can see it… it could be plausible.
We used to get it a lot. I used to wear big glasses like Patrick so I just kinda brought it on the stage.
Live in concert, how much of your show is an act, going into a stage persona?
I’m nothing like the person on stage. If [people] know me from off stage, they’re a little shocked to see me on stage. And if they only know me from the stage, they’re probably disappointed when they talk to me in person just because I’m super laid-back… the three of us are. We’re really mellow people and pretty quiet off the stage.
Every time I see you guys, I spend about half the time just kind of smiling and laughing. Then about halfway through your set, I really get into it.
But really, when you’re singing things like “Rub me down with brandy” (on the new song “Brandy”), how can you not grin?
Yeah, yeah, it’s a good time.
What inspired you guys to make this kind of soulful, funky, let’s get down music?
We were going to parties at art school a lot. Usually a rock band would go on at like 10 or 11 and everyone would just kinda watch the band. Then after that people would put on records, so there were DJs, and they were always dance records and that’s like when the party started. And I just kinda felt like, “If we could be the dance record instead of the rock band before the dance record, we’d have it made.”
It’s been four years since you put out your first album…
Yeah, it’s been so long…
What’s happened during this time?
Well, we wrote the second album, which took forever. And then we recorded the second album, which took forever. We toured the East Coast for the first time, we’ve done some West Coast tours–a West Coast stint with Starfucker where we opened. But we seem to go over pretty good if it’s just a DJ night and we’re playing.
Well that’s exactly what you were going for when you started Strength.
Yeah, I like the idea of having a band that’s caught between the DJ set and the full on rock band with drums and stuff.
How has your sound changed and evolved since the first record?
I think it’s definitely darker. It’s a little more hard-hitting.
Yeah, a song like “Metal” in particular is definitely darker but still has your dance-y groove.
Yeah, it’s still very dance-y and I’d say it’s still very tongue-in-cheek but it hits a little harder.
When you start to write a song, are you trying to be humorous about it, tongue-in-cheek?
I can say with the lyrics, for this album in particular, I was looking at a lot of [things] like Dracula and Frankenstein and reading a lot of books in that genre and just looking at dated language. So that’s where a lot of the lyrics come from. We set out to make a horror-dance album and we got a little sidetracked. So it’s kinda like half of a horror-dance album.
It’s only eight tracks. Why so short?
I like dance records that don’t have any filler and I don’t want to put any filler on the albums. I don’t want to put a two-minute track on the album just to make the ninth track. I think a lot of the dance records that we listen to from the ’70s and ’80s, they’ve got seven, eight songs. You know some of the Georgrio records have like six songs and they’re fucking good. If you take an album like Justin Timberlake’s Justified… if you cut out like five of those tracks, that’s the only way you can make the album better. So there’s that, and then the other aspect is, we fucking take forever to write songs and we’re constantly editing them. There’s like three of four songs within each song basically.
Why does it take you so long to write songs?
We’re really meticulous and it’s very democratic. We’re all sitting down and writing the songs together and nobody gets to have [or add] a part unless everyone thinks it’s good. When you’ve got a band that’s one person writing all the songs, I can see how you could turn out a bunch more songs than we do. I think the only way that Strength works is if we’re all happy with everything, which can be painful but I think that’s why we’re still together.
You’ve been playing these songs for a while know. Are you pretty comfortable with them?
Yeah, we’re very comfortable and I’m really thrilled to finally be putting this record out because it’s pretty much what we’re playing at our live shows.
Recently when you’ve been playing live, you’ve been covering The Romantics’ “Talking In Your Sleep.”
Yeah, I wanna work out some more covers but that one has just stuck around–it seems to fit into our set. And I like the idea of just coining a song, just taking a Romantics song.
And believe me, you guys do sound damn good when you play it.
Thanks, thanks a lot.
Do you have anything newer that you’re working on?
We’re just getting there. We are going to be working on remixes for a handful of people here in Portland. As soon as we do the CD release show, we’ll sit down and start writing a third album.
Where does the album title Mind-Reader come from?
You know [laughs], we used to have a piece of paper that was above a fish tank at our house and people would just write down ridiculous title names that they’d come up with. [Laughs] Patrick wrote down Mind-Reader and it seemed to stick. It just sounded good and it seemed to fit in with the horror theme but it wasn’t blatant.
This interesting multi-instrumentalist is a seasoned music industry player, and thus has quite a cool take on how he expresses himself in his music. Sometimes dark, sometimes bright, Allan Hayslip's take on the Texan music scene is far from country and more towards progressive rock.
We as listeners can tell that this guy is older and as such, is channeling his influences more than many younger musicians today. We like his creativity and lack of fear in approaching his compositions and his catchy lyrics.
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Songs we recommend you listen to: "Steven" and "Custody Lullabye. http://www.xopublicity.com/xofreesingles.html
Portland based outfit Strength is sharing a new track off their September 3rd release Mind-Reader entitled “Metal.” This track is riddled with lyrics about a girl with black hair hinging out of her her tight tank top and bra. This black haired vixen likes “metal/metal/metal/metal/metal/metal music.” This “heavy-metal girl” sounds like every 15 year old boy’s wet dream. “Metal” is an 80′s dancing, pelvic-thrusting good time.
The band Paper Tongues are going to be superstars. That’s a bold statement to open up with, but I have no doubt that it will soon become fact. This seven piece electro rock band from Charlotte, North Carolina has created a juggernaut of a debut album. Their self titled release is a genre bending ten song opus that effortlessly fuses together hip-hop beats and rock n roll melodies into an instantly likeable new favorite album.
Their song “Soul” was posted on the bands Myspace account four years ago. “Myspace is the reason that Paper Tongues exists today and how we got signed,” says lead vocalist Aswan North. A chance encounter with superstar producer and American Idol judge Randy Jackson would change everything. Aswan wrote down his bands Myspace music address and handed it to Jackson at a trendy LA restaurant. Jackson called the band two weeks later raving about the music. He began coaching them and to this day is the band’s manager chatting with them on a daily basis.
Aswan explains where the band’s sound originated. “If you listen to our record, every song is coming at you from a whole different angle; it’s a very different record. There are seven of us in the band, so there’s all these different vibes, lifestyles and different genres influencing the record.” Aswan is an extremely energetic and outspoken singer but very humble at the same time. “We were in a small town in the Midwest and heard “Ride to California” between Nirvana and Metallica. I’m not sure we belong there, but we were very thankful and grateful.” He goes on to tell me about how he discovered legendary arena rock band Journey a bit late. “I was raised on country, hip-hop and R&B; I did not get to hear Journey until around 2001 and then could not stop listening to it. “
Missing out on the sounds of Steve Perry and crew is looking like a positive thing for Aswan. His vocal abilities are tremendous as he justifiably transitions from AC/DC like rock screams to smooth vocal croons. He almost makes it a one man show but then his 6 band members put together a wall of sound that back his versatility perfectly.
Standout tracks on the album are “Soul”, “Get Higher”, “Trinity” and the infectious and electrifying “Ride To California.” “Ride” is the kind of song you hear one time and immediately hit repeat. A song that resonates and will surely fire up the charts as a perfect end of summer anthem.
When asked about the band’s favorite show so far this year, guitarist Devin Forbes responds, “We played with Muse at the Hard Rock in Vegas (along with Cage The Elephant). I always tell people if there is any one show that sticks out as the favorite, it was the be all end all of shows for me, amazing.”
So what’s on the horizon for the band? A Remix of “Ride to California” from Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am. and 18 more months of touring. As for the next album, “We have 15 songs ready for record two and 8 songs ready for record three” Aswan excitedly announces.
Thomas Pridgen’s drumming accolades—like winning the Guitar Center Drum-Off at age 9, getting sponsored by Zildjian at age 10, and receiving a full scholarship to the Berklee College Of Music at age 15—should help you prepare for his live show. But they won’t. And when the former Mars Volta drummer starts his set with his new band, The Memorials, your jaw will be on the fucking floor. His precise intensity and technical proficiency—combined with Nick Brewer’s guitar easily handling the changes, and singer Viveca Hawkins’ presence scorching your eyebrows off—on the band’s debut full-length makes the group’s music worth the pummeling it doles out.