EP REVIEW: Xs & ARROWs - From Here

Written by Jessica Klausing


Xs & ARROWs bring an acoustic charm to an EP filled with the infectious warmth of the desert sun. Courtney Lavender (vocals and guitar), Susan Peterson (bass), and Pam Bluestein (drums) guide listeners through a soul-searching journey, appropriately titled, From Here. The EP features soothing melodies with heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics.

The opener, “Missing,” kicks off the EP with a luscious laid back pop melody ready to lull you into summertime bliss. Vibrant and catchy, it’s a perfect listen for a sunset drive on a scenic route. The song is about the inner struggle of trying to let go of a complicated relationship. Lavender reflects this thought with “I never wanted you to be the only thing I see,” against a wailing electric guitar.

“Fire from Gold” is a tender ballad with lyrics almost suggestive of Native American folklore. Delicate finger-picking and percussion intertwine while the honey smooth vocals evoke comfort and positivity. Lavender sings, “No rush coyote/no rhyme coyote/no fear coyote/We are only blessed/There’s no devil in this hole.” Extremely calming and reassuring, it’s the kind of track that will put a smile on your face and fill your heart with hope.

“Par Ici” follows with a Cranberries-esque vibe that’s filled to the brim with angst. Sharp guitar work rips through the pummeling drums while harsher vocals wail out, “the walls all came down on me/They spit and they shout at me.”

 The closer, “Questions” is a piano centered meditation on relatable frustration and unresolved feelings. Glen Hansard lends his vocals to this heart- wrenching track. The accompaniment is simple which leaves all the attention on Hansard and Lavender’s passionate vocal delivery.

From Here is a self-reflective and passionate collection of tracks that touches on the Irish storytelling spirit. Warm harmonies and mellow guitar glide smoothly throughout the EP. Lavender uses her soft vocals to convey in heartbreak, drama, and emotion into all four songs creating a beautiful listen.

From Here is available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and Spotify

All sale proceeds go to the Peter McVerry Trust, helping the homeless in Dublin.

Recommended Tracks: “Missing” and “Fire from Gold”

Kendrick Lamar's DAMN Collector's Edition

Written by Brody Duggson


When Kendrick Lamar confirmed that DAMN can be played in reverse, I immediately threw “Blood” into Audacity and reversed the soundwave. What came out of my wireless headphones made no sense.

Then I realized Lamar meant “reverse order” not backwards.

In early December of 2017, Lamar released a collector’s edition of his seminal opus, and hopefully soon-to-be winner of the Grammy award for Album of the Year, DAMN.  The edition contains all the songs from DAMN, with no new production, in an order opposite of the original.

Instead of starting with “Blood” and ending with “Duckworth,” the collector’s edition begins with “Duckworth” and concludes with “Blood.”

It may sound like a distinction without a difference, but before it dropped in mid-April, conspiracies swirled that Lamar/DAMN had more to offer.

DAMN was introduced to the world on Good Friday.  One theory said Lamar will release another great album on Easter Sunday.  

A second conspiracy, this one piggybacking on a tweet by TDE producer Soundwav—“But what if I told you... that's not the official version…”—claimed more new material was forthcoming.

A tinfoil-hat-wearing fan theorized that Lamar’s next album would be titled "NATION." This appellation was inspired by acrostics made from some of the last letters of DAMN’s tracks. 

By the way, those phrases were “Earth Led 2 Death” and “Death 4 Leader.”

Many “KenFolk” immediately recognized that the last line of DAMN’s finale, “Duckworth,” is the first line of DAMN’s opener, “Blood.”  Some concluded that those songs were connected, and the tracks in between, are Lamar struggling with a slew of contradictory ideas.

Releasing his masterpiece with a reverse track order may seem a bit underwhelming, but it does satisfy those who believed there was always more to DAMN than originally assumed.

Our cynical side says the collector’s edition is nothing more than a money grab.  After all, the power to listen to DAMN in reverse order is inside of all us.  Well, inside our media players.

There’s reason to applaud Lamar’s efforts.  By releasing his album with a different track order, he forces listeners to accept DAMN as a single work of art and not a collection of interchangeable singles.

There was a time when listening to an album out of its original order meant putting on side B before side A.

Nowadays, it’s a piece of cake to listen to albums out of order.  It’s just as easy to listen to them randomly, as part of a playlist with a bazillion other songs, or piecemeal—just download the songs you like.

Taylor Swift Builds 'Reputation' At Jingle Balls

Written by Brody Duggson

Taylor Swift photo courtesy of HollywoodLife.com 

Taylor Swift photo courtesy of HollywoodLife.com 

On Dec. 1, Taylor Swift returned to the stage for the first time in ten months.  She was the headlining act at the KIIS FM’s iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2017 in Los Angeles.

Eight days later, she fulfilled the same role at a similar event in New York City, although that iHeartRadio ball was produced by Z100.  Then, the next night, she participated in the Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball in London.

The three mini-concerts foreshadow the superstar’s upcoming concert trek.  “Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour” kicks off May 8, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona.  The singer will then visit Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Atlanta as well as several other cities in North America.

As of now, her final U.S. date is Oct. 8 in Arlington, Texas.  She’ll finish her tour with five stops in Australia and New Zealand.

Swift is hitting the road to support her sixth studio album, Reputation. The album dropped on Nov. 10 and sold two million copies during its first week of release.

All three Jingle Ball performances were punctuated by the singer’s high energy, a cadre of backup dancers, and fashion-forward outfits.

There are absolutely no traces of the singer’s country roots.  She’s the world’s biggest pop star and a full-on force of nature who’s in the prime of her career.

Swift’s setlist included “Shake It Off,” “I Don't Want to Live Forever," “Ready For It,” and "Look What You Made Me Do."  

Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift perform "End Game." Photo courtesy of Variety.com 

Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift perform "End Game." Photo courtesy of Variety.com 

The highlight of her L.A. appearance was her duet with pal Ed Sheeran.  It was the first time the superstars had ever performed “End Game” live.  Swift and Sheeran must have enjoyed their performance because they repeated it in The City That Never Sleeps.

Actress Katie Holmes, and her daughter Siri Cruise, introduced Swift prior to her Big Apple shindig.

Another visitor of note was Joe Alwyn, Swift’s current boyfriend.  In London, attendees saw them steal a kiss during Sheeran’s performance.  In Metropolis, after the ball, the couple was seen holding hands.

Mother Nature got in on the act in London.  We’ll have Taylor Swift explain:

“Guys, it snowed today!  That is all I’ve been talking about today is the fact that it snowed today on the morning of Jingle Bell Ball. It’s so perfect!”

While Swift’s music, performances, and life reveal consistent maturity, the previous quote reminds us that she’s still a down-to-Earth girl From Reading, Pennsylvania. 

Regardless of how many diva-like and artistic elements she adds to her repertoire, the performer can always charm our socks off.

Backstreet's Back -- In Vegas!

Written by Jessica Klausing


Oh my God, they’re back again!

Just as the “Backstreet Boys:  Larger Than Life” show came to a close in July, the boys announced more dates extending their Las Vegas residency to November, January, and February.  Fans bought these tickets so fast that it set the record as the fastest selling residency show in history.  Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell treat fans to a nostalgic two hour show packed with their chart topping hits, classic backstreet dances, and over-the-top theatrics.

Check out my concert review HERE.

They sort you into groups at check in

They sort you into groups at check in

I was your typical Backstreet fangirl back in the 90s. I proudly owned all the BSB merchandise: CDs, books, comics, clothing, VHS specials, magazines, the Burger King toys, and the official Backstreet Boys: Around the World board game. You name it, I had it! My bedroom walls were completely covered with posters of my future husband at the time—Brian Littrell. I still remember crying tears of joy the day my mom surprised me with tickets to their sold out ‘Into the Millennium’ tour! Yes, I was THAT fangirl. Fast forward 17 years later—Backstreet’s in Vegas with meet n’ greet options. Say what!?! I knew I had to fulfill my 12 year old self’s biggest fantasy and meet my favorite boy band.

Love that snazzy BSB lamp on the food table.

Love that snazzy BSB lamp on the food table.

My adventure began at 3:30PM on Saturday, November 11, 2017. We were to check in at 5PM in front of The AXIS but I was convinced arriving obnoxiously early was a great idea. It was not such a great idea. I stood alone for a while. I tend to suffer from Pre-Concert Anxiety, so I get myself into this predicament a lot. One guy felt so sorry for me that he bought me a bottle of water. Eventually, about an hour later, others started lining up. I chatted with many fellow Backstreet diehard fans to get the inside scoop on the VIP instructions and the venue logistics, because Pre-Concert Anxiety…

Goofing around with the Brian BSBmoji

Goofing around with the Brian BSBmoji

Check in time started promptly at 4:55PM. We were given a VIP laminate and escorted upstairs into the VIP Lounge. The lounge was decked out in Christmas tree lights with 90’s music blaring out of the speakers. You could sit at a mini table or on a large beanbag chair. I think they were going for a swanky throwback nightclub vibe. Overall the lounge was cozy and very roomy. Even with 160 people, it never felt crowded. The snack table was well stocked with assorted candies, chips, and granola bars. Nothing appealed to me there. I did help myself to a free BSB embroidered napkin and koozie though.

 VIP members receive two free drink tickets to redeem at the bar. You get a choice of Pepsi, water, beer, or champagne. The bartender recommends the champagne. I happily concur! I didn’t take too many photos in the lounge due to the poor lighting. They do have a real nifty inflatable photo booth in the back. It comes with various BSBmojis on a stick. They held a raffle at the end of the meet n’ greet for a free ticket into the Backstreet Boys after party at the Chateau nightclub.

Feel the Backstreet love

Feel the Backstreet love

The Backstreet Boys arrived around 7PM for meet n’ greets. The staff had us split into three groups: A, B, and C. Groups were called one by one for the photos. This was a great idea rather than one huge line. Those of us with heels on were eternally grateful! Once I made my way to the front, I was told to talk to the first three boys, pose for the picture, and then talk to the last two boys. We were not allowed to bring our cellphones. They have a table for your personal items. I had a pleasant experience and did not feel rushed.

The boys are such amazing sweethearts! They truly do care about their fans and it really shows. I have never been to a more laidback meet n’ greet than Backstreet’s! They will accommodate your photo requests. I saw several people bring in various props for the boys. You can request certain poses and even choose to stand next to your favorite boy. I asked for a giant group hug and was not disappointed!

The AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood in Vegas.

The AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood in Vegas.

You can start lining up for the concert once your photo is finished. Those with seats/tables were told to follow security downstairs. The PIT folks were separated into two lines: Front of the Line Pass and regular PIT. I did not have a Front of the Line Pass. You really don’t need one. VIP members get first access into the theater. Keep that in mind. I went in behind all the FOTL people and still scored an amazing Main Stage front row spot.

Certain shows offer a Backstreet Boys after party at the Chateau nightclub. I did not go. My feet were killing me from standing in heels for over 9 hours (Yes, I’m aware of how incredibly lame that is). The nightclub has a strict dress code, and I never wanted to see my heels again after the concert. I have heard pleasant things about the after party. You’ll get a chance to take a selfie with 2-3 of the Backstreet Boys.  It’s much less structured than the meet n’ greet. You’ll need to pay for the Chateau VIP ticket if you want to mingle with the boys though.

Overall the “Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” experience is a must for any Backstreet fan! The residency ends in February. Get your tickets:



-Arrive early (4:30P is an ideal time).

-Don’t feel bad if you are going alone. Trust me. Backstreet fans are super nice and chill. You’ll make lots of new friends in no time.

-VIP is a lot of ‘hurry up and wait.’ Be prepared to stand for several hours, especially if you have PIT tickets! You may want to consider dressing comfortably.

-Take a deep breath. The boys are very kind to their fans. You don’t get too much time to mingle with them, so have your questions and/or comments ready. (P.S. AJ and Kevin give the best hugs!).

-Walk, don’t run! I know it’s tempting for the PIT folks but security does not play. They will move you to the back of the line.

-Try not to stand in front of the Catwalk. Honestly, there is not a bad spot in the venue. The band tries to reach out and engage as many fans as possible. You’ll just have a higher chance of more Backstreet interaction from the Main Stage and Second Stage.

-You don’t necessarily have to get the Front of the Line Pass. VIP members get first access into the theater. You’re guaranteed a prime spot in the PIT.

-Make sure to get your drinks and/ or go to the restroom before the theater doors open. These shows always sell out. The PIT gets full quick! You don’t want to lose your spot.

-Don’t push other fans and/or throw personal items on the stage. Security will kick you out.

-Have fun! The experience is what you make of it.

ALBUM REVIEW: Matt York - Between the Bars

Written by Jessica Klausing

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Returning with his newest release, Between the Bars, Matt York beckons listeners to pull up a bar stool for some drunken wisdom. Filled with the country spirit, the rhythms burst with driving guitars, saloon-esque pianos, and a brooding horn section. These songs convey the heartache of life and relationships gone wrong.

Opening the album is “All Over the Town,” which thrives on a pulsing guitar melody. The song deals with the aftermath of a failed relationship. You know, the kind when the whole town seems to want to gossip about it? It’s one of the more surprisingly upbeat tunes on the album even with the lyric, “You’ve gone out and changed your mind/I don’t know how I’ve survived.”

“Honkytonk Hangover” waltzes you through the doors of a 1950’s Bakersfield saloon. This old school country ballad surges with powerful energy, exploring the despair that even though life is full of regrets, it’s too late to turn back. York reflects this with, “Introduced my sadness to a beer/No one likes me here at the honkytonk/but I don’t feel alone when I’m here.” With a lively organ solo, a feathery piano waltz, and an infectious upbeat tempo, the track challenges our perceptions of resilience while employing self-loathing.

Next is “When the War Began,” an emotive break up song that centers around a toxic romance. For anyone that has had to face rejection, the lyric, “Yeah, there’s never a nice way to say you’re not the one,” is uncomfortably relatable. York’s vocals may be carefree, but his lyrics bring a sense of pain that’s all too real. The contemplative guitar and intensity of the organ in the latter half support the melody's bluesy edge.

Matthew Girard’s beautiful yet mournful trumpet solo stands out in “September’s Coming Soon,” where York’s vocals soar over the nimble Spanish guitar. “Man Who Does Nothing” is a wistful rumination from a man that just can’t get his life together. The acoustic guitar elevates its appeal. “Calling for You” closes out the album with ethereal vocals that reveal a storm of emotion.

Matt York demonstrates with this album a real knack for guitar playing and a suburb use of words as a songwriter. Between the Bars explores with lush instrumentation the inner madness of a resilient soul. The character may not have things figured out but he's still trying somehow.

Between the Bars will be available on November 3rd. You can purchase the album on Matt York's Bandcamp page. 

Matt York will perform a special album release show on November 3rd at the Atwoods Tavern in Cambridge, MA.

Recommended Tracks: “All Over the Town,” “Honkytonk Hangover,” “When the War Began,” and “September’s Coming Soon”

Sound Majesty Presents: Mexico Benefit Concert at West Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go

Written by Jessica Klausing


2017 has been a year plagued with many natural disasters around the world. Last month Mexico’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake took hundreds of lives, leaving the country with over $1 billion dollars worth of damages.  Aid and relief funds are still desperately needed.  On Sunday, October 1, Sound Majesty hosted a Mexico benefit concert at West Hollywood’s famed Whisky A Go Go. 

Beck Black served as the emcee, introducing all eight musical acts including a Mariachi band! During the concert, attendees were encouraged to participate in the silent auction upstairs. The auction items included an autographed guitar, signed by all of the benefit artists, Vampire Vineyards wine, and exclusive sunglasses. All ticket and auction proceeds went to the Mexico emergency relief funds.

Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips photo by Jessica Klausing

Matthew Phillips photo by Jessica Klausing

San Diego based singer-songwriter Matthew Phillips took the stage at 6:00PM. With an acoustic guitar in hand, Phillips launched into “Together Forever,” a saccharine love ballad. Right off, I was impressed with Phillips ability to connect well with his audience.

Throughout his set, he made sure to make eye contact and reach out to every person in the room. His songs empathize with those who have been “friend zoned” and looking for hope.  His charisma and bell pure vocals stood out on “Goodbye” and “Always Be There.”  “No More Pain” was a beautiful tune dedicated to Mexico. The biggest highlight was his Goo Goo Dolls cover of “Iris,” which prompted an audience sing-a-long.

Jade PraiZe

Jade PraiZe photo by Jessica Klausing

Jade PraiZe photo by Jessica Klausing

Jade PraiZe upped the swag dosage for the night. The UK singer-songwriter strutted on stage with a large red hair bow and cool shades. Her sweet yet snarky demeanor gives a playful edge to her soulful lyrics. Vocally, she reminded me a bit of Amy Winehouse and Fiona Apple. 

PraiZe cries out “Don’t be fooled by the Milky Way/I got through in but I couldn’t stay,” in “Milk Way.” My favorite was “Hands Out” with the ever inspiring, “Put your hands out/Dance like there’s no tomorrow.” I do hope Ms. PraiZe sticks around. I’m curious to hear more from her!

Love Like Suicide

Molly Kills photo by Jessica Klausing

Molly Kills photo by Jessica Klausing

Love Like Suicide stole the show. Period. Singer Molly Kills portrays a gothic femme fatale as she seductively slinks around the stage with long black hair covering her face, crooning out dark secrets. Expect the dark, the sexy, the mystery, and the nostalgia. Their music is a throwback nod to the 90’s grunge and punk genres. If you love Garbage and The Cranberries, then you’ll love this band.

Their newest single, “Side Effects” off the EP, Verdugo exhibits impressive alternative guitar hooks and hypnotic synths. Guitarist Mor Kosmik and Bassist Troy Richardson riffed through other punkwave hits such as “Born Again” and “On A High.” The benefit show was particularly important to Kosmik, who is originally from Mexico City. She proudly showed off ‘Made in Mexico’ written on her left leg for the night.

The Knitts

The Knitts photo by Jessica Klausing

The Knitts photo by Jessica Klausing

The Knitts took us back to the post-punk and Brit-Pop scene. Their songs were reminiscent of early Rolling Stones and The Beatles. The songs boasted plenty of upbeat, catchy classic rock melodies. Lead vocalist/guitarist Charlie Volkens impressed with his boyish charms and husky low growls. The Knitts were determined to get everyone up during their set and they succeeded!

“Vamonos Mexico” turned the venue into one big dance party. “This is the only song we have about Mexico,” joked Charlie Volkens. The energy continued with the more country twangin’ “Hold Steady Pretty Lady.” “Get Up Get Out” had everyone chanting out the song’s title. This song could easily be the modern-day Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” party anthem.

Peter DiStefano

Peter DiStefano photo by Jessica Klausing

Peter DiStefano photo by Jessica Klausing

Peter DiStefano slowed it down with more beautiful acoustic guitar. Beck Black introduced his set as “pop rock unplugged.” DiStefano is a prolific musician in the business. He’s composed countless music for television, film, and video games. He is best known for his early alternative rock band, Porno for Pyros (The Jane’s Addiction offshoot).

DiStefano shared his softer rock tunes with us. His solo work is more delicate than his other musical projects. It’s a definite contrast to his electronica pumped side band, Venice Underground. He did surprise us with a few Porno for Pyros covers. His acoustic version of “Tahitian Moon” was performed with such graceful precision, that I actually prefer his version to the original.

Falling Doves

Falling Doves photo by Jessica Klausing

Falling Doves photo by Jessica Klausing

Hollywood’s own Falling Doves were up next. Their music is described as “whiskey laced vocals infused with bits of glam and blues.” Lead singer Christopher Leyva donned a leather jacket with slicked-up black spiky hair. He looked like the frontman of a hell raiser 80’s punk band. Don’t be fooled by the apparel. The music is fueled with heavy guitar riffs but it’s a definite nod to classic rock with confessional storytelling.

The Falling Doves rolled into the power rock anthem “Ready to Go!” The sultry guitar licks pop infused “Paris” followed. The set ended with a couple of epic covers. Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” was the real crowd pleaser! Beck Black joined the band for Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”

Beck Black

Beck Black photo by Jessica Klausing

Beck Black photo by Jessica Klausing

The lovely and fierce Beck Black performed a special set. Ms. Black’s music is bluesy punk with a whole lotta soul! Minus drummer Adam Alt, Beck proves that she could still hold her own. Her commanding stage presence will pull you in if her seductive vocals haven’t already.

“Life's a Circus” brought out plenty of carefree attitude. Beck would playfully leap from guitar monitor to guitar monitor effortlessly. She would even drop and roll on the floor without missing a beat! Beck commands attention in “Vampires Come out at Night” with the sultry lyric, “Vampires come in the dark/when you light up a spark/they bite, they suck, your energetic blood.”

Corey Feldman and The Angels

Corey Feldman and The Angels photo by Jessica Klausing

Corey Feldman and The Angels photo by Jessica Klausing

Midnight struck when Corey Feldman and The Angels finally took stage. Due to a technical issue, Corey’s set had to be cut short for curfew. Corey didn’t seem too fazed. He spent several minutes chatting amicably with his fans from onstage. The set officially started about ten minutes later. Corey channeled his inner Michael Jackson with a bold red, black, and silver colored jacket and dark shades. His angels wore white lingerie with brightly lit up wings and neon glowing shoes. The performance itself was simply mesmerizing to watch. Maybe it was all those Christmas tree-esque lights?

The band opened with the iconic “Take a Stand,” in which Corey advises us, “We need peace (right now)/We need love (somehow)/The world is not full of clouds/Let the sun shine down.” The next song, “Walk” featured Corey on guitar. “It’s So Simple” was another inspiring pop song about making the world a better place. For the closer, Beck Black and the Mariachi band joined Corey for a Beatles cover of “Come Together,” dedicated to Mexico.  If you have never seen a former child star, scantily clad women, and a Mariachi band perform a Beatles song, then you have not experienced Los Angeles!

Corey Feldman and The Angels perform "Come Together" photo by Jessica Klausing

Corey Feldman and The Angels perform "Come Together" photo by Jessica Klausing

I gotta admire Corey for his optimism.  I’ll admit that his band concept may be a bit too whimsical. If tongue-in-cheek performances offend you then stay away from a Corey Feldman and The Angels show! However, beyond the “over-the-top” theatrics, his music does spread a positive message. Our world seems more obsessed with hatred than ever. With all the negativity going around, it’s a bit refreshing to hear songs about love and helping one another. Honestly, I think this world could benefit from more Corey Feldman and The Angels.

Tetrarch @ West Hollywood's Whisky A Go GO

Tetrarch (from left: Ryan Lerner, Diamond Rowe, Josh Fore, and Ruben Limas).

Tetrarch (from left: Ryan Lerner, Diamond Rowe, Josh Fore, and Ruben Limas).

Tetrarch is a Nu Metalcore band on the music radar in Los Angeles. After interviewing Diamond Rowe and Ryan Lerner back in 2011 for the EP, The Will to Fight, I have been dying to see Tetrarch live ever since. Reminiscent of Metallica and Korn, Tetrarch boasts self-reflective lyrics and jackhammering melodies. If you’re a fan of the intense and emotional, then look no further.

Tetrarch recently finished their Summer/Fall tour with DevilDriver, 36 Crazyfists, Cane Hill, and Uncured. I managed to see Tetrarch open the show on Wednesday at West Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go.

Check out the concert review!

Tetrarch's new album, Freak, is currently number three on the iTunes metal charts! You can stream it on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.

Interview with Courtney Lavender of Xs & ARROWs

Xs & ARROWs photo by Zoran Orlic.

Xs & ARROWs photo by Zoran Orlic.

 Xs & ARROWs are about to take over the Los Angeles music scene. You may remember the band, formerly known as EXIT, joining U2 on stage in 2001 and again in 2005 at the Staples Center for a legendary performance of “Out of Control.”

Check out our interview with lead singer Courtney Lavender HERE.

Xs & ARROWs offer a unique acoustic rock soundscape that seems to marry the California desert to the spirit of Ireland. Their debut EP, From Here will be available in October 2017. The new single, “Questions,” featuring Irish musician Glen Hansard, is currently available to stream on Soundcloud.

EP REVIEW: Drake Bell - Honest

Written by Jessica Klausing


Drake Bell returns with an eclectic pop sound for his new EP, Honest. The former Nickelodeon star aims to branch out from his trademark rockabilly swagger to something more “light and fun.” This EP is just that, and more thought provoking than any of Bell’s previous releases.

The first track, the titular “Honest” is a wear-your-heart-on-a-sleeve romantic confessional with “Spread your love like a wildfire/Wanna breath you in like smoke/Why do I have to let you go?/Not saying I’m perfect/At least I’m honest.” The melody sounds like something off of the Kings of Leon’s Only by the Night album (I get the “Use Somebody” vibes here).

“Leaves” follows with an electronic percussion before sonically evolving into ambient transcendence. Bell bares vulnerability as he asks, “Is it brave to be this honest?”  The tender lyricism displays a beautiful and empathetic charm to this song.  

“Run Away” has a driving rhythm that is highly addictive. It’s a fun, road trip anthem about two young lovers running away together. Bell takes us along for the ride as he sings, “Sometimes we don’t need to run/We don’t need to hide/Don’t need to take our time when it’s on our side/Live life by the minute.”

Closing out the EP is “Rewind” which offers a valuable life lesson to worry less and live more. Bell croons about a woman constantly worrying about her boyfriend rather than enjoy life. “He can’t answer every time that you call/’Making something so big out of something so small.” What the song captures so effectively is the raw emotion and angst that comes from regret, the inevitable fate of human existence.  

Honest is a sonically brilliant EP and well worth the three year wait since Ready Steady Go! Drake Bell has grit complimented with a whole lot of heart. Every song has a different feel, there’s self-reflection and a psychedelic sensibility that’s blended effortlessly.

Recommended Tracks: “Leaves” and “Run Away.”

YARN @ NYC's American Beauty

Yarn photo by Todd Chalfant

Yarn photo by Todd Chalfant

Yarn played NYC's American Beauty last night. Check out our review HERE.

Yarn is an Americana band from Brooklyn, New York. The band formed in Brooklyn back in the mid 2000's and started playing shows in New York City every Monday night at Kenny's Castaways and every Wednesday night at Hill Country BBQ.

Yarn consists of Blake Christiana (Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocals), Rod Hohl (Electric Guitar and Backing Vocals), Trevor MacArthur (Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocals), Rick Bugel (Upright Bass), and Bobby Bonhomme (Drums).

Yarn shows are a bit different from the norm. The band feeds off the energy of the crowd and plays whatever they feel like playing. They don't use a setlist. It's crazy but makes for a unique one of a kind experience. Some songs clock in at three minutes and others clock in at 20 minutes. It could be a sing along, classic country, or even disco.

Yarn mixes a lot of different musical styles to create their signature sound. They don't follow any trends or write top 40 hits. They just do their own thing. They sound like they came out in 1972 rather then 2017. The band follows the Grateful Dead with epically long jam sessions. The best way to describe it is to go out to their shows and experience it for yourself.


Interview with zerrissen era

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Check out my interview with Arctic musician zerrissen era HERE.

zerrissen era is an indie multi-instrumentalist who crafts his eclectic songs in the harsh Arctic environment. During the winter months, he records in an amploo (an igloo lined with amplifiers) and in a Laavo during the summer. These studio spaces create a unique and ethereal sound. 

Check out his music! An album purchase helps fund the Arctic.


CD Baby




Briana Biatto

Briana Biatto is our first industry professional to be featured in the Know Your Pros section. Check out her story HERE.

Briana Biatto is a fitness instructor turned pop artist that has combined her passions to create the new genre, PopFit. The PopFit genre offers a variety of musical styles to workout to. It's not going to be limited to just peppy pop tunes. The fierce pop princess hopes to inspire healthier lifestyles through the power of optimism. 

"My theory is the more people in this world that can learn to love themselves, know their worth and really appreciate the person God made them to be then their relationships are going to change," said Biatto.

Check out her page for personal training sessions.

Check out her ReverbNation page for music.

THROWBACK: Backstreet Boys

Backstreet Boys are our Throwback Thursday band!

Check out my THROWBACK review of their official documentary and Top 5 songs.

Next year marks Backstreet's 25th anniversary. Over 130 million records sold worldwide has earned BSB the title of the best selling boy band of all time. The boys are still going as strong as ever. No tour dates have been announced yet. You can still catch their Las Vegas residency from November until February 2018.

Tickets HERE.

Backstreet Boys are even offering special Meet N Greet tickets! Get yours before they sell out!

ALBUM REVIEW: The Rationales - Upstream

Written by Jessica Klausing

“Go for what I’m after. Never mind disaster. Give the past a future. Where I find-- I’m ready to go!” This opening line on “Ready to Go” is the heart of The Rationales’ new album, Upstream. With songs of loss, regret, nostalgia, and longing David Mirabella makes you feel like you’re riding shotgun with him on the back roads in New England as he tells his stories.

Right off, you’ll notice David’s voice. It’s dreamy. It’s that reassuring voice you want to hear during an emergency protocol. Backed with Sean Black (bass), Mike Mirabella (drums), Chad Raleigh (guitars), David Lieb (keyboards), and Adam Hand (pedal steel), The Rationales deliver a lush rock sound that’s artistically conscious of Powerpop, Alternative Country, Americana, and the Blues, to name a few.

The sound of the electrifying guitar opener, “Ready to Go” is not your granddaddy’s rock n’ roll! This is driving, swirling with electronic sounds and heavy beats. That ripping guitar solo at the 1:52 mark gets the adrenaline pumped up for the rest of the album.

“Trade You” takes the rhythm into Dire Straits territory. That infectious groove takes hold and refuses to let go. It’s easily my favorite off the album. Beyond the sultry guitar licks are the melancholic lyrics. “I’ll trade you for your loss. I’ll trade you for your lies. I’ll trade you for your silence this time.” The song deals with someone always wanting to trade misfortunes with others. Think of it as those people who overshare on social media.

The album shifts gears for “Under the Gun,” a somber country tune about growing up to face responsibility. “All the While” kicks things up a notch again. David Lieb shines on this track with his saloon piano styling. The attitude and style of the track gives it a swanky 50’s rock vibe. “I’ve been lucky all along. Always getting what I want. You’re an ocean. I am open to be sinking like a stone.” Oh yeah, it's got plenty of attitude.

Another highlight was “Climb the Ladder,” which has seamless instrumental transitions. The song starts with an Americana sound as it segues into a piano breakdown. Mike Mirabella’s vocals layered over the piano chords gives it a haunting touch. It’s slow moving, but that changes as it gradually intensifies and gets a screaming guitar solo brought into it.

“Take a Ride with Me” gets back to the country roots found earlier in the album; Only this time a bit more Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-esque. The song shows a desire to take a chance with someone or just take a ride to just see where it goes.

The final track “Dulcinea” is an emotional resonant song. David croons about a person so consumed with their own nostalgia that the fantasy takes over reality. Upon first listen my thoughts went straight to Miguel De Cervantes’ Don Quixote. A story of a man’s quest based solely on his mental exaggeration.

Upstream proves that The Rationales are well-seasoned musicians who love what they do. The guitar work on this album is on point with its electrifying riffs and solos that are just jaw dropping. Right from the opener I enjoyed the anticipation of what would come next. Give it a listen on your next road trip excursion.

The album will be available on August 3rd. You can pre-order now on the band's bandcamp.

The Rationales are having a special album release show on Aug 3rd at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. Get your tickets HERE.

Recommended Tracks: "Ready to Go," "Trade You," "All the While," "Climb the Ladder," and "Dulcinea."

ALBUM REVIEW: Jourdan Myers - Ruin Me With Love

Written by Jessica Klausing

Jourdan Myers taps into an underrated pop territory. Many pop artists don’t venture too far from Electronica but Myers dares to explore. Her record weaves through Broadway, Industrial Rock, Classical, and bluesy anthems. Ruin Me With Love is a piano heavy, lyrically driven power punch about her struggles and the inner strength to persevere.

The piano rockin’ opener, “Lifetime or Before” sets the bar high for the album. The song is a fun, upbeat pop tune worthy of radio play. Myers’ angelic vocal chops soar over the heavy beats much like a Sara Bareilles song.

Myers breaks out her inner blueswoman for “Push Me on the Playground.” The song alludes to a childhood bully during recess. “Recess has become my worst enemy/You hide behind your smile now but soon you will be found out.” Well timed finger snaps, foot stomps, and percussion make up the back beat. The saxophone solo drives it into a fierce Jazz territory towards the end.

“Firelight” waxes the romantic poetic with “Dance me with your eyes. Sing me with your song. Drown me in your flood. Burn me with your fire. Quench my one desire. Ruin me with love.” Upon closer listen this song might not be as sweet as you think. The theme seems to touch on our animal magnetism towards falling in love.

“The Fight” stood out for its mechanical production. The song uses war imagery to metaphor overcoming any challenge. The tempo intensifies with Myers’ dramatic storytelling: “Charging up the hill and advancing with a yell and going for the kill.” With every gunshot and boisterous boom, you can just close your eyes and see a battle come to life.

“Wanderlust” returned to the piano-powered roots. This song was like a spirited continuation to the opening track. The album shifts gears again for “End of Me.” The intro crackles like an old phonograph but then rolls right into another somber waltz.

My favorite song is “Dusty Roses.” The song is a peppy little Broadway-esque tune about moving on from life’s disappointments. You just can’t help but sing-a-long to “You swear one of a kind, big blue eyes your heart is his forever but he is gone and in a storm with nothing left to sever. These thorns are in your side. Why the hesitation?”

The final track “Slow Motion” sounds like a continuation from the previous track, “Be Here.” The song digs into more mechanical background sounds. Personally, I tend to favor these tracks. I hope that Myers will expand more into the industrial side of the pop genre.

The album is compelling – Myers’ vocals are pitch perfect, the instrumentation is graceful and the lyrics are sweet and sharp.  I’m eager to see where Myers’ musical evolution will take us on the next record.

Recommended Tracks: “Lifetime or Before,” “Long Days,” “Push Me on the Playground,” “The Fight,” “Voice of Silver,” “Dusty Roses,” and “Slow Motion.”

Umphrey's McGee @ Central Park, NYC

Umphrey's McGee is one of the best live jam bands that I have listened to. Last year, My friend played "Cemetery Walk 2" off of one of their Hall of Fame albums for me. I'm convinced that catchy tune has changed my life. It's just pure feel good music. 

To quote my friend: "Whether you're a fan of Prog Rock, Heavy Metal, Psychedelic, Funk, Jazz or Electronic music-- Umphrey's McGee has you covered. The band easily weaves its way through lots of different musical styles sometimes all within the same song to create a sound all their own."

Check out his brief REVIEW.

Interview with Victor Krummenacher of Monks Of Doom

I remember the first time that I listened to Monks Of Doom. Their album, Meridian, caught my wondering eye at the local music store. This album sounds like a psychedelic journey into a dark circus. I became hooked and had to get all of their albums. Each album spawns a different psychedelic journey through different worlds. 

Twenty years later, the Monks are back with a new album, The Bronte Pin.

Victor Krummenacher of Monks Of Doom and Camper Van Beethoven took time to chat about his new music and more. 

Check out my INTERVIEW.


Kingdom Hearts Orchestra--World Tour

A Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour!?! Be still my beating heart.

Disney Concerts, Square Enix, and La Fee Sauvage have teamed up to bring this magical world of Disney and Final Fantasy to life! Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra brings together the game's director Tetsuya Nomura and composer Yoko Shimomura. Exclusive scenes and surprise appearances await fans on this spine-tingling adventure.

Check out my REVIEW.

You can purchase your tickets HERE.

Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour Dates:

Singapore – May 6 & 7, 2017 – Esplanade Concert Hall (Singapore) 

Kuala Lumpur – May 13, 2017 - Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (Malaysia) 

Hong Kong- May 21, 2017 - AsiaWorld-Expo Runway 11

Los Angeles – June 10, 11 & 14, 2017 – Dolby Theatre (USA)

New York – June 24, 2017 – United Palace Theatre (USA)

Osaka – July 8, 2017 – ORIX Theatre (Tokyo)


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: No Issues With The Re-issues

Written by Brody Duggson

On May 26, 2017, the lyric “Twenty years ago today” turned fifty years old. 

The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on May 26, 1967.  It was a Friday.  The album came out in the United States a week later. 

Why is this album so important?  Why should you care what four musicians did before you were born?  Before your parents were born?

What’s so important about music released prior to the advent of the internet and the rise of personal computers?  Why bother with an album that was recorded on magnetic tape and originally mixed in mono?

You should care because Sgt. Pepper is the greatest album of all-time.  Even if you don’t think it’s the greatest album of all-time, it’s been regarded as the greatest album of all-time for half-a-century.

It was the ipso facto start of the Summer of Love, a milestone for Baby Boomers, and the culture apex of the 1960s.

It was the first rock album to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.  It has sold more than 32 million copies.

In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine put it first on their list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All-time.”

If your favorite artist has ever recorded a concept album, or used the studio as an instrument, they owe a debt to Sgt. Pepper.  The album didn’t necessarily invent those techniques, but it certainly popularized them.

Therefore Sgt. Pepper has influenced, either directly or indirectly, current artists as diverse as U2, Green Day, and even Lady Gaga.

In fact, music historians often credit Sgt. Pepper with starting the “album era.”  If we accept this accomplishment, then the sphere of the opus’ influence increases even more.

Sgt. Pepper legitimize rock as an art form.  It laid the foundation for progressive rock and was the zenith of British psychedelia. 

Songs from Sgt. Pepper have been successfully covered by numerous big-name artists including Elton John, The Flaming Lips, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, Thievery Corporation, Gomez, and Billy Brag.

It has survived half-a-century.  Not many things survive five decades.

Think about this: recordings celebrating their 50th anniversaries in 1967 were Billy Murray’s "Over There" and "Livery Stable Blues”—the first commercial jazz recording. 

There were no 50-year-old albums in 1967.  The album format was invented in 1952.

It’s highly likely that Sgt. Pepper will be celebrated in 2067.  Do you think the same can be said for Ed Sheeran’s Divide, Katy Perry’s Witness, or The Chainsmokers' Memories... Do Not Open?  No offense to those artists, but probably not.

Beyond all those accolades, it’s just a damn good record.  From the title track to its closer, “A Day in The Life,” the album has no weaknesses.  Every song is a classic.

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, Sgt. Pepper has been reissued via four versions: a single CD, a double CD set, a double vinyl collection, and a super deluxe edition that contains six discs.

Giles Martin, son of the Beatles producer, George Martin, went back to the original masters and made a stereo remix out of Sgt. Pepper’s original mono mix. 

The Beatles participated in the original mono mix.  They did not participate in the stereo mix.  So, this 50th anniversary edition allows fans to listen to Sgt. Pepper’s the way the band intended it to be heard (but in stereo).

If your budget allows, pick up the super deluxe edition.  It contains three discs of outtakes, instrumental versions, and mono mixes. 

These extra tracks reveal the genius of the Fab Four and provide listeners a glimpse into how the greatest album in the history of rock and roll was created. 

Longtime fans, many of whom bought the album when it first came out, have been blown away by the extras.  Fans are hearing sounds, riffs, and phrases they’ve never heard before.

The reason behind these sonic discoveries lies in how the Beatles recorded their music.  They played like an orchestra, with each instrument performing a different part.  When heard without the vocals, the songs of Sgt. Pepper sound very different.

For example, the chorus of their psychedelic masterpiece, “Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds,” sounds like garage rock sans John Lennon’s singing. 

That transformation, and others like it, allow longtime fans to experience the Beatles’ masterpiece in an entirely new way.  For new fans, the extras are a master class on how to make a rock album that’s impervious to the ravages of time.

If you’re a music fan, Sgt. Pepper’s should be in your collection.  The 50th anniversary re-issue is the perfect place to start.  It doesn’t detract from the original, it adds to it.


U2 on The Joshua Tree tour

The Edge photo by Harlene Dryden.

The Edge photo by Harlene Dryden.

U2 is currently on tour this summer celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree and performing the album in full from start to finish.

Yes, you read correctly!

These Irish rockers are performing their landmark 1987 album at a city near you. Songs like "Red Hill Mining Town" are finally getting played live. This is not a drill!

Check out my REVIEW.

Not a fan of standing around in line all day? Check out the VIP package. VIP members get early access into the venue, free food and beverages (Alcohol is not free), and a raffle for a chance at winning a backstage tour (I was one number off from winning! ONE!) and The Edge's guitar strings (They make stylish bracelets and necklaces).