Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fuel [live review]

From the second that I saw the announcement saying that Fuel was coming to Lexington, complete with original singer, Brett Scallions, I knew I was it was a show I wasn't going to miss. Though all the other band members were new, basically making them another band with Fuel's singer, I'm a pathetic enough fan that I knew as long as Scallions (whose name i can't type or think of without thinking about green onions. pathetic fan, remember?) was singing, it would sound like the same old Fuel.

Putting on the hooker makeup, channeling my inner Jenna Marbles and cramming my foot into my hoochiest hoochie shoes - the sparkly ones!- took longer than I expected, causing me to miss the first band, Man Made Machine. This was actually really disappointing because  I met them after the show and they were super cool guys, made even cooler by their to their appreciation of bourbon shots ("To Kentucky!"). After the show I checked out their music, and their song "Victim" is actually really good, so I wanted to plug it in with the review of the other bands. (Oh, and hey Steve. It was really nice meeting you. lol.) Much more interesting stories from the night could be inserted here if no one actually read this blog, but people reading is kinda the point of the whole thing. If nobody read it, it would just basically be a diary and only losers still write in diaries if you're out of elementary school. All the cool kids know it's cooler just to write unpublished blog posts.

Man Made Machine- "Victim"

 The other two opening bands, Pale and Park Lane, were ok. Maybe their music just wasn't my style, maybe I was too concerned about not falling down due to my sparkly shoes (because that was clearly saved for later in the night...and my foot still hurts, by the way)  or maybe it was something else, all I know is that they weren't really that memorable, one way or another.


Pale had a kind of a Kings of Leon type-feel, and they were a talented group of musicians. I only saw the last two songs of their set, though, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they are worth checking out if that's your thing.
  Park Lane

Park Lane took the stage next. The highlight of their show for me was their cover of The Beatles "Eleanor Rigby." They added their punky/emo-y modern twist to it, and it really worked. They were a pretty decent band, overall.   


Fuel hit the stage hard, playing  four of their  heavier songs to start the show. I found that I was much less familiar with Fuel that I'd like to admit. I adored the songs of theirs that I had heard on the radio, but for some reason I' m not really sure of, I hadn't investigated them deeper. Even though I didn't know all the words to "Last Time" and "Untitled" and the other songs that kicked off the set, I was impressed and loved what I heard. The band, though the ten millionth reincarnation of Fuel, was tight and obviously talented. They played the songs perfectly and put on one hell of a show.


"Sunburn" changed the pace, and marked a halfway point in a set that could really have been two separate shows. The first half rocked the audience hard, got them moving and the booze flowing through them. The second half, though, was full of the Fuel that I was previously so enamored with. "Sunburn" brought out the bluesy, smooth, side of their music, followed directly by "Slow" which had a really similar feel and sound and fell in perfectly behind it.

The second half of the set also brought out the super charismatic front man qualities of Scallions. When the pace of the show slowed, his strong connection to the audience became apparent, as he laughed, smiled and joked with the audience. He asked the crowd if there were any Zepplin fans amongst them, which led to a roaring response of yes, and then began to play "Tangerine." I felt like a super uncool kid at that moment, because I didn't know the song yet (I have since remedied that, though, so take that judging look off your face). Scallions has a voice that is totally different from Robert Plant's, but there is still some similarity that lends him the ability to cover Zepplin songs so well. (Fuel also has a great cover of  "Going to California" which I HIGHLY recommend that appears on Something Like Human- it's pretty much gorgeous.)

When the beginning notes of "Bad Day" rang out, the crowd reacted instantly.  You'd have to be deaf or living in Tazmania to have not heard that song enough times to memorize every single word. It's always a telling moment when a band plays one of their biggest hits live- can they possibly do it enough justice to make it sound just like you've memorized it? Not surprisingly, Fuel had no problem with this and played the song perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that I got that certain feeling deep inside my music-loving soul that reminded me of why I feel the way I do about concerts and music in general. The lyrics, the music, the band, the audience - aspects of all four came together like the ingredients of a magic potion. That song, their musical spell, hit me right in the chest and, for a moment, left me breathless.
My two favorite Fuel songs came next - "Shimmer" and  "Bittersweet." "Shimmer" is one of my anthems, and hearing it live was amazing. Every single time I hear "Bittersweet" playing, I can't help but dance around- whether it be in my car or in the shower, or sitting at me desk at work. You better believe that when Scallions got to the verse that says "Now hold your hands up to the sky" that the majority of the audience had 'em up, thanks in part to Fuel's adorable little tech/stage manager who was doing his best to encourage us.

The show's encore included an awesome cover of Elton John's "Daniel" that had the entire room singing (I was in the dark once again on this song, but I have since set it as the ringtone for my brother, my Daniel, on my phone, because I like it so much.) 

Overall, Fuel's show was amazing. I liked the band before, but I was in love with them afterwards. I even got a set list after I did a little flirting, smiling, and bargaining, being sure to play up the country accent as much as I could. As much as my extreme southern way of speaking has cursed me in the past, I've found that lately it can be quite useful when I try to make a yankee swoon ;) I got two picks, too, including one from that sweet little tech/stage manager, who's name I found out later was Rob, after he tried to exchange a set list for your yours truly to some kid in the audience (and later to give me post-show parking lot advice on avoiding diseases that I was in no way in need of being warned about, but thanks for the tips. lol)  

The show really epitomized why I am so determined to have a life that involves music. Spending the evening at a great venue, talking and bonding with new friends who like the same music you do, seeing a great live show and hanging out with cool-as-hell guys from the bands afterward is something I truly love. It was just a little bit more motivation to keep on pursuing ways to live my dream <3         


Friday, September 9, 2011

ramble on: sept 9

if the change of the seasons has you craving new music just as much as you're itching to get your hands on the fall starbucks flavors (can you say pumpkin spice latte?), then you are totally in luck. a lot of big names have new albums coming out in the next few weeks, and it is shaping up to be one sweet fall for both your ears and your mouth. below are five new albums that are worth adding to your collection this autumn. enjoy!

Staind- Staind
September 13th

Self-titling an album (unless it's your first and you just aren't very creative) is setting the bar pretty high. When you're a band as epically huge as Staind and you self-title your seventh full-length release, you might as will be setting that bar on the moon.

The moon might be tough for other bands to reach, but for the rock-giants of Staind, it might as well be the back yard. Remember the old Staind that put out super-heavy songs like "Mudshovel" or, really, any of the songs from Dysfunction? Well, they're back. Now that Aaron Lewis has gotten his country-boy side outta the way and found an outlet for his softer songs, it leaves the band with nothing but music that is out to kick you right in the throat with a kick-ass new album.

"Not again" was the first single released off of Staind and it is getting major radio play right now, and as good as it is, it's only a taste of what the rest of the album has to offer. "Eyes Wide Open" is so, so heavy, and almost makes you think of "Mudshovel" especially at the beginning. "Wannabe" features Lewis busting out some Korn-like rock-rapping, which is so hard to adjust to at first that it's almost funny. But combine it with the multitude of different vocal sounds on this one song, that range from rapping to screaming to melodic singing, and you're not left with a terrible song by any means."The Bottom" has single written all over it, as does "Now" with its fresh yet familiar sound.

"Something to Remind You" easily takes the award for my favorite song on the album, though. It is so very Staind: depressing yet beautiful, with a sadness that sucks you in and wraps you around every single word coming out of Lewis's mouth. It is acoustic, with just a guitar softly picking and strumming in the background, but somehow out of the simplicity comes a masterpiece. It is one of those catharsis-initiating songs you just set on repeat and listen to over and over and feel way down deep inside. It is a perfect ending to a nearly perfect album. 

In "Wannabe" Lewis says, "I'm selling records," and my response to that is yes, Mr. Lewis, that is exactly what you are doing with Staind. If you like Staind at all, especially their older stuff, then I can't emphasize how much of a must-buy this album is. And to hold you over until then, you can find it streaming on ESPN.com at:

Bush- The Sea of Memories
September 13th

Bush's new album, their first in ten years, brings back that familiar Bush-sound that no one has really replicated in their absence. That's probably due to the fact that the "Bush-sound" is, as described by singer Gavin Rossdale, really just his voice and a guitar. The Sea of Memories has both of those things, which basically guarantees any fans of the band will be satisfied, as will young'uns who may have only heard "Glycerine" or "Come Down" on the radio.  

The first single, "The Sound of Winter," is getting heavy radio play (i swear, i hear it more than i hear def leppard play on my fav rock station in lexington, so that tells ya it's playing a lot). I haven't tired of hearing it on constant repeat, though, because it is actually a really good song. It's rocking and catchy, and well, it's the sweet-angel voice of Gavin Rossdale, so you know that it's going to be pretty great. The video (below) doesn't do much other than prove that a) Gavin Rossdale is beautiful, b) Gwen Stefani is even more beautiful, and c) their blond angel sons are beautiful squared.

The entire album is available for preview on iTunes right now, and the minute and a half snippets lead me to believe that the rest of The Sea of Memories is just as good or better than the first single. 

"Baby Come Home"  features the lines that lend themselves to the album title.  There is something so identifiable in the words "I lost myself to the sea of memories, I lost myself to irreverent dreams." The chorus gets a bit repetitive, but the verses are that typical Bush that led you to become a fan in the first place. "The Mirror of the Signs" kicks off the cd, and is obviously an effort to write songs with a more modern sound, but one that is still heavy and melodic. Maybe my favorite song on the album, I can only hope that this one will be released as a single. The Sea of Memories  also features a gem-of-a-cover as the final song on the album. Rossdale's voice, an acoustic guitar, and the classic Fleetwood Mac song "Landslide" are a perfect blend.

Superheavy- Superheavy
September 20th

What do you get when you mix a Rolling Stone, Bob Marley's son, an British soul and r& b pop princess, an Indian composer, and an English pop-rocker? Other than introduction that is entirely too verbose, you get a song that can best be described as what would happen if you put all those sounds into a blender and pushed pulse until you get a sticky-sweet mess the color of Mick Jagger's suit in the band's video for their first song, "Miracle Worker."

Along with Jagger, Damien Marley, Joss Stone, A.R. Rahman, and Dave Stewart form the supergroup of the hour, SuperHeavy. This amalgamation of stars and superstars really sounds just like you'd think it would: a mix of Stone's smooth soul & Jagger's rocking vocals, with Marley's regae-spitting hooks, over a slow, poppy, exotic beat. It doesn't make any sense in theory, but somehow the result is really, really good. Honestly, I love it!

The sound that somehow emerges when all these styles blend in "Miracle Worker" is like that first drink of a cold diet coke, fresh from the golden arches- refreshing, cool, fizzy in your mouth, and pretty darn tasty. I don't know what the rest of the album would even come close to sounding like, and I'm doubtful that SuperHeavy will reach anywhere near the popularity of the Stones, but I can say this: "Miracle Worker" is a fun little diddy, worth downloading, just in case the rest of the album turns out to be crap :)

ZZ Top- A Tribute from Friends
October 11th
When I saw Filter in Lexington a few weeks back, they played a cover of ZZ Top's classic, "Gimme All Your Lovin" and, though it's hard to really examine a new song when you're hearing it for the first time in a little club where the band is turned up way loud, I liked it. When I got home, I saw a link the band had posted to their version of the song, and I liked it even more. Filter's cover takes the song to a completely new place, one that's really electronic and a little reminiscent of "Hey Man, Nice Shot." They really rock the song up, and it turns out to be a fitting tribute to a deserving band.

Filter's cover is just one of the tracks on the upcoming album, ZZ Top- A Tribute from Friends. It features an awesome lineup of bands playing the most classic Top songs, from "Legs" (done by Nickelback) to "Tush" (covered by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals). And even though i don't care for Jamey Johnson at all, his cover of "La Grange" is actually really good, as he blends his deep, southern country sound with the classic rock sounds that ZZ Top is so known for. Only Filter and Johnson's covers are available for preview now, but if the other songs are done nearly as well as the first two, then I'm very excited to take a listen to the new takes on Top's classic hits. A preview of the track listings:

1. Sharp Dressed Man - Steven Tyler, Mick Fleetwood, Jonny Lang, and John McVie (The M.O.B)
2. Gimme All Your Lovin' - Filter
3. Tush - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
4. Legs - Nickelback
5. Cheap Sunglasses - Wolfmother
6. Got Me Under Pressure - Duff McKagan's Loaded
7. Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers - Coheed & Cambria
8. Just Got Paid - Mastodon
9. Rough Boy - Wyclef Jean
10. Waitin' for the Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago - Daughtry
11. La Grange - Jamey Johnson

Chasing Layne- Sin & Regret
Available Now!

watch out for "the business"

The final must-have album of the fall is one that is pretty near and dear to my heart. Maybe it is because I have such a deep connection to the songs on Chasing Layne's newest album, Sin & Regret. I've been there for practices and shows, hearing these same songs (over and over and over) as they grew and developed, and I was lucky enough to be in the studio for some of the recording. I've had copies of countless versions of the songs as they went through this process, but finally getting the finished version of them in my hands, wrapped up all tidy in their little plastic casing, it's just one of those feelings of relief you can't describe. (To keep this short, I'll have to elaborate a bit more in a blog dedicated just to this topic, I do believe...)

I say this as unbiasedly as possible: This is seriously a good album (as it should be, after taking damn-near as long as Chinese Democracy took to finally be released). If you like girly songs, then "Riverside," "Silence" and "I Want it All" are sure to please. If you like your songs more manly and rocking, then you gotta hear "Dirt" and "The King." And you can't forget "On the Way" or "Hoodoo" (and now that I've named almost every song on the album, I think you get the point- there is something for everybody).

 Massive gayness, i know, but i was one proud publicist lady/gf/sister (lol)

You can stream the songs at http://www.facebook.com/chasinglayneofficial?sk=app_2405167945 to see what you think. If you like them, you can buy the album on iTunes, CdBaby, at Apollo PC in Glasgow, the Great Escape in Bowling Green, or from any of the band members, and of course from little old me. It's $12, but worth every penny :)     

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chasing Layne, Chasing Fame

(My first publication of a story about a band/music!)
The following story appeared on the cover of the Monroe County Citizen on September 1, 2011.  

Chasing Layne, Chasing Fame
Becoming a rock star is a popular dream, but one that, in time, most abandon. When the dreamer realizes that there is more to it than just standing in front of a crowd and smiling (like that whole actually being able to play a musical instrument and sing, sometimes even at the same time, factor) they usually decide to move on and pursue more practical ambitions. There is one band of south-central Kentucky boys, though, that aren’t ready to give up on that dream quite yet. 

Chasing Layne, who call Mt. Hermon their official hometown, have been playing, writing and recording together in their current incarnation for almost five years now, but music has played a central role throughout the majority of their lives. Guitarist Justin Myatt, bassist Evan Harper and drummer Chase Blakely grew up playing music together in Monroe County. Chris Clines, the band’s singer, and Kevin Groce, who plays lead guitar, have also played music together for multiple years in their native Glasgow. 

Now, as the band releases their second album, Sin and Regret, they feel that all their years of work are finally getting close to paying off.  

“We really took our time making this album,” Harper said. “It did take a while, but we’re really happy with how it turned out because we put a lot of work into it.” 

The album’s title, Sin and Regret, reflects things that have happened in the lives of each band member in the past, and many of the songs fit into that general theme.  

“The idea of sin and regret is something that everyone can identify with,” Myatt said.  “Whether they admit it or not, everyone has done things that they shouldn’t and feel bad about, and the songs on the album reflect that. But there are also songs about being proud of who you are, despite your past.”

The release of Chasing Layne’s sophomore album marks the conclusion of one chapter of the band’s rock and roll fantasy in a book filled with times when it looked like completion of the second cd, or any future for the band at all, was not going to happen.      

 “The thought of just quitting has crossed all of our minds. I’ve honestly thought about it on several occasions,” Myatt said. “There are so many frustrating things that bands have to deal with, from club owners to venders, even the other band members, but I have this illusion that we have a good chance to make it. We just need luck and the right person to hear our music.”

Spite also plays a big role in the band’s motivation to keep working toward a future in music.

“A lot of people don’t think that we can do this and that we’re just wasting our time,” Blakely said. “But that just makes us work harder to try and prove them wrong.”

The pursuit of a career in music is a difficult dream for most outsiders to respect and believe in. It would be easy to assume that it would be so much simpler for all five guys to just push aside the band and instead focus on their “real” jobs. But that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Making and playing music is what the five guys of Chasing Layne believe they are meant to do.  

“It’s hard to understand, I know,” Blakely said. “But I guess the best way to sum it up comes from a line in our song “I Want It All.” It’s pretty simple, but it’s what we’re living by: ‘I want it all, I don’t care what it takes’.

Copies of Sin and Regret are available through most online music retailers, including iTunes. It will also be for sale at Chasing Layne shows, the Great Escape in Bowling Green, Apollo PC in Glasgow, or by contacting any band member.