Category Archives: Reviews

Ivadell

bcr-046-cover-hires-300Flow by Ivadell (Broken Circle Records)

While there are only three songs contained within Ivadell’s debut for Broken Circle Records, the auditory odyssey this South Carolina based band embarks upon will infinitely tingle the senses! Even the most finicky of music aficionados will surely be enraptured by the wondrously atmospheric sounds of Flow. References such as Hum, Failure and latter-day Cave In come to mind, and yet Ivadell manage to be thoroughly original with a trio of songs that will leave the listener thoroughly enraptured.

ivadell710The commencement piece is The Love Of Will, a gorgeous tapestry that will enchant the senses with its thrilling set of dynamics. Calming vocals mesh with a stunning score that alternately soothes and then pummels the senses. Breaking Light begins with its gorgeously hypnotic refrains before exploding into a dazzling wall of impenetrable sound that is epic in scope. And then closing out Flow way too soon is the wildly infectious Flickering, featuring all musicians weaving a sense of magic and intrigue throughout the entire composition.

Presenting its post hardcore reveries with a stunning amount of conviction, expect Ivadell’s upcoming full length to be nothing short of a magnum opus. In the meantime, check out Flow as well as their previous entreaty The Young Design, and let the resourceful musicians of Ivadell set your imagination in flight. Skillfully recorded by Kris Hilbert at Legitimate Business in Greensboro, NC.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Norma Jean at Cobalt Cafe

Norma Jean-117Norma Jean, Cobalt Cafe, November 14, 2014

Norma Jean at the Cobalt Café was downright INSANITY. They came out on stage with “The Potter Has No Hands” off their latest album, Wrongdoers. Instantly, the whole audience started to scream and jump, it was PACKED. Plenty of people were stealing the microphone from Cory, that night and tons were just screaming the lyrics. This was one of the craziest shows I have ever attended at the Cobalt, there were so many people, there were tons of crowd surfing, and tons of crowd diving.

Norma Jean-185I’ve seen Norma Jean twice before, at Summer Slaughter (House of Blues) & The Word Alive’s Deceiver Tour (Chain Reaction). Both times, they had great performances, but this night was one to take the cake. Most songs they played were off Wrongdoers, they played a couple old songs, off their first album. The overall show had some of the best sound I’ve heard so far from the Cobalt, I could hear every individual instrument and the vocals. Cory had said something about how clubs like the Cobalt are mostly the size of clubs they play as of now because of the intimacy. Norma Jean is definitely a hardcore genre veteran, they’ve been around since 1997, and definitely have made a huge impact in their genre. If you’re into the hardcore scene and haven’t seen Norma Jean, you’re making a huge mistake.

Presented by Twohearts Shows

Setlist:
“The Potter Has No Hands”
If You Got It at Five, You Got It at Fifty
The End of All Things That Will Be Televised
The Lash Whistled Like a Singing Wind
I Used to Hate Cell Phones, Now I Hate Car Accidents
Deathbed Atheist
Sword Mouth, Fire Eyes
Hive Minds
Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

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Sworn In at House Of Blues – Sunset Strip

swornin4Sworn In, House Of Blues – Sunset Strip, November 30, 2014

Sworn In at the House of Blues was heavy and fun. This was the biggest tour they’ve been on so far, and they had a great set in Hollywood. The only bad thing about their set was that it was too short; they had only enough time for 5 songs, and they were my favorite band on the bill. Tyler Dennen came out on stage with XIII, and made a very demonic persona with it. Immediately you could see the resemblance to Gerard Way with the powdered face, and the red eyes.

The rest of the band enters the stage after the intro and starts to play Hypocrisy. The audience already being riled up from Tyler’s entrance made things crazier. Tyler was definitely more involved in the crowd than usual, and the whole band was just flowing so well live. Chris George, the drummer, had broken his right hand a couple days before the show and still continued to play perfectly. He didn’t miss a single note, and that was definitely amazing.

swornin1Sworn In played a brand new song live, called Sunshine. The song was definitely a lot lighter lyrically then all the other songs. Tyler explained the meaning of the song was basically f*@% all the haters and people who don’t believe in me, basically like all the other metalcore bands lyrics. It was still really cool though because Tyler definitely put his own twist on it. Sworn In is definitely being given an A+ for stage presence and their performance.

Set List:
XIII
Hypocrisy
Mindless
Not My Sunshine
Snake Eyes

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

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Circa Survive at the Fox Theater

Circa Survive-363Circa Survive, The Fox Theater, November 26, 2014

Circa Survive at The Fox Theater in Pomona was unreal, and too good to be true. The show was the day before Thanksgiving, and still managed to sell out. Words cannot put to justice how amazing they were, and how happy I was to get the opportunity to finally not only see, but shoot them. The best thing about the whole thing was that Circa Survive sounded better live than on recordings, I love when artists truly live up to their hype.

They came out on stage with Through the Desert Alone, hyping the crowd just with guitar riffs, and Anthony Green splashing a little water on the crowd from his fingers. Anthony’s vocals have become raspier, making the song sound different than how it was recorded. His voice was just perfect; he’s the best singer I’ve heard live, easily. Not only was Anthony’s voice incredible, but the instrumentals were beautiful. At one point during the middle of a song, Anthony Green stuck the microphone into his mouth. He was really getting into the performance and trying to make things funny.

Circa Survive-687In the middle of the show, after playing Semi-Constructive Criticism, Anthony pointed out a fan that he said, “sang beautifully, and sounded like an emo Josh Groban.” I’ve never heard a frontman say that to a fan before, let alone hear them with all the noise on stage. Circa Survive then played their single Schema, off their new album “Descensus” which was recently released through Sumerian Records.

The thing I found most interesting was when Anthony directed the crowd to stay still during the last song until he gives them a command to “release all wiggles and be little hippies”. I was shocked to see the floor actually listen to him. Everyone stood still for about half the song, and then started jumping around and whatnot when he gave them a signal to do so. That’s something else I’ve never seen at a show, so it was cool seeing that Circa Survive does things differently. This was one of the greatest shows I’ve attended, I highly advise everyone to see Circa live.

Setlist:
Through the Desert Alone
Strange Terrain
Sharp Practice
Semi-Constructive Criticism
Schema
Glass Arrows
Fever Dreams
The Greatest Lie
Suitcase
Kicking Your Crosses Down
In Fear and Faith
Stop the Fuckin’ Car
Only the Sun
Frozen Creek
The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose
Child of the Desert

(Review and Photos by Talia Farber)

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Burnt Belief

burnt belief etymologyEtymology by Burnt Belief (Alchemy Records)

Jon Durant is an American guitarist and producer and is the owner of Alchemy Records. He’s played with the likes of King Crimson bassist Tony Levin and pianist Michael Whalen.  In 2011 Durant and Porcupine Tree founding bassist Colin Edwin  worked together on Durant’s Dance of the Shadow Planets album and joined forces as equal collaborators as Burnt Belief for their self-titled debut.  On their follow-up Etymology they are augmented by the drummers Vinny Sabatino, Dean McCormick and Jose Duque.

On opening track Chromatique the drumming is energetic, skittering and funky, Durant’s guitar work is textured and draws the listener in, building tension until almost the end when he really lets loose like a light rain turning into a violent storm.  Dissemble follows, with an interesting drum pattern and strings that evoke desert winds, Edwin playing a dubby groove.    Precis takes a minute to get going, Durant and Edwin circling each other on their instruments, Durant layering riffs and textures throughout.  On  Hraunfossar the duo include what sounds like a flute in their dubby mix, delicate guitars build tension and just when you think its all going to get big and loud, Edwin lays down a juicy bass line that just oozes out of the speakers and the song coasts to the end in a slow groove.

burnt belief band shotNot Indifferent starts out slow and quiet and for the first half of its 12 minutes threatens to fizzle out into nothingness if not for Edwin’s slithering bass.  But then the whole mood changes when clattering percussion and an electronic bass pattern are then introduced and Durant joins in with layered guitars: angry and vibrant and delicate and soothing, piling the various approaches on until you find yourself nodding along.

On Squall Durant and Edwin sound like they’re having fun riffing off of the various rhythms and each other, Durant providing one guitar tuning after another, all spinning and harmonizing with a violin sound giving the song an exotic yet funky air.

Etymology closes with Charlatan, Durant stabbing his guitar between treated hand drums and Edwin’s jazzy rhythmic interplay, getting spacey with odd synth effects. Durant’s epic harmonized guitar leads bring Etymology to a satisfying and uplifting end.

(by Bret Miller)

LINKS:
Facebook
Alchemy Records
Colin Edwin’s page
Jon Durant’s page

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For All I Am

nohome2No Home by For All I Am (InVogue Records)

For All I Am has been through a world of change since Skinwalker was unveiled at beginning of 2013, including the loss of key band members and a surprise parting with Equal Vision Records. And while Skinwalker was well received, For All I Am was flying under the radar of many – in spite of relentless touring with live performances that would shatter the senses. No Home is their second full length recording – and first with their new label InVogue Records. And instead of encountering that legendary sophomore slump that has plagued many a band, No Home is a devastating accomplishment that should garner the band a good deal of attention.

In an interview with Highwire Daze, front man Aria Yava stated that the title No Home, “depicts the thought of you not being comfortable in your own mind.” The 11 songs found within take the listener on the journey through a personal darkness, and the results found within are definitively captivation. Six Souls kicks the disc off on an overpowering note, with vocalist Aria Yava screaming “I’m fucking losing it” with a shattering sense of urgency. Tunnel Vision then explodes into your psyche with a fiery sense of liberation followed by the darkness which envelopes the soul with the hardened reprieves of Out Of Line. “How do you think you could ask me for more?” rings out as a blistering account of friendship and betrayal.

foralliam2014_2Young Grave is performed with a remarkable amount of clean vocals and a melodic soundscape, showing a different side to For All I Am which still retaining the album’s vibrant intensity. The soul ripping then goes back into hypersonic gear when Yava muses “Today I do not have a heart” at the commencement on the fiery Slip-Up. Bad Nature features blazing guitars and a kaleidoscopic keyboard underscore that sends this wildly potent song into the stratosphere with the “what else do we have to lose” verbal expulsions. “Do we truly feel content living this way?” is the question the track poses, with no easy answers in sight.

The ferocity rages in Black Sheep, a thrashing opus that is relentless in scope with its “Put yourself in check bitch” recriminations searing through the sonic devastation. The pulsating Caring Is The New Currency then commences, further leading the listener into an intriguing despair. A calming release with the morose entreaties of Inward follows, exploding into a torrential wall of desperation.

Wake Me Up shows the art of falling apart with deeply personal lyrics combined with gripping performances from each and every members of the band. And then closing out No Home is the powerhouse Swallowed Alive, where the uneasy sentiments of “all these thoughts are filled with pain” ring within your mind long after the disc spins to its foreboding conclusion.

As in life, there are no easy answers to the bitter problems and personal demons that consume us all. And in spite of its many bleak conclusions, No Home is a wondrously cathartic piece of artistry that many a music fan will be able to relate with.  Charismatic front man Aria Yava’s delivers the emotional lyrics with a ferocious amount of conviction that is near mesmerizing. Tom Crisp supplies a dynamic wall of atmospheric sound on guitar while drummer Aaron Martinez and bassist Mario Roche drive it all home with an all-out vengeance. No Home is a gripping auditory adventure through the turbulence of the heart and mind that is not to be missed.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Luke Potter

lukepottersosugar1So Sugar by Luke Potter (Self-released)

At long last, Luke Potter’s first official full length album has been released onto the world at large, and it was surely worth the wait. Pure power pop rock complete with wondrously infect-ious choruses, the ten cuts featured on So Sugar would sweeten up the day of even the most sour of music critic. Based out of the UK, it won’t be long before the world discovers Luke Potter. Managed by Johnny Wright and Melinda Bell for Wright Entertainment (Justin Timberlake, Before You Exit) and Gina Orr of Orrigami Entertainment (David Archuleta, Crystal Bowersox), the star making machine is in place for this massive talent ready to break out into the big leagues.

The disc kicks into supersonic gear with the rocking refrains of the title track So Sugar – instantly hooking the listener in for a stratospheric ride into the heart of an up-and-coming singer / songwriter. There It Goes Again will remain in your head for ages with its delightful melodies and Luke Potter’s expressive vocals. Crazy Enough is a gorgeous ballad sure to captivate the senses of hopeless romantics and dreamers all over the world. Then it’s back to pop rocking when Sadie shows up to joyously set your imagination in flight.

lukepottersosugar2A definitely highlight on So Sugar is the poignant One Day, where a lush musical score and Luke Potter’s vividly emotional vocals render this piece an absolute standout. One Day would be the classic any artist who hope to write, and it shows Potter’s wonderful knack for delivering a truly timeless song. Terrified exhibits yet another side to Potter’s songwriting, complete with pensive lyrics and a magnetic chorus. It’s Okay To Dream is another top notch track destined to become a Luke Potter fan favorite.

I want to wake up every day in a different place, maybe today LA,” sings Luke Potter with a wide-eyed wonder on the spiraling Possibility. Chance Worth Taking is a wistful track about navigating through the grand puzzle known as love. And then closing out So Sugar on a gloriously positive note is the magnificent I’m Alive, a track that absolutely soars into the stratosphere.

The production work on So Sugar is first rate, featuring the superlative work of the noted Bleu (Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers) sending the material into even greater heights. Be sure to check into So Sugar by Luke Potter, and catch up with rising star. With an album so exhilarating filled to the brim with radio friendly compositions, expect to see Luke Potter signed to a major label any day now!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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The Shakers at The Viper Room

theshakersviperrev1The Shakers, The Viper Room, November 15, 2014

It was off to the notorious Viper Room on the Sunset Strip with photographer Jack Lue to check out a local band destined for greater glories ahead. We are speaking of The Shakers, a raging indie rock entity whose dynamic live shows will take this wondrously unique collective to the top! Fearlessly bucking the trends and coming up with a sound that is visionary and compelling, The Shakers is the kind of band that shows the City Of Angels could still unleash some ferocious talent onto the world at the large. Headlining the world famous venue on a Saturday night,  The Shakers had The Viper Room packed to the rafters for what would be a tremendously memorable show.

theshakersviperrev2Opening with the nefarious strains of Villain, the room was quaking right away with the vibrant intensity The Shakers were exuded from the stage. One notices right away the mesmerizing performance of Jodie Schell, unleashing the memorable vocals with a captivating sense of urgency. Not a shy chanteuse in the least, Ms. Schell vented a range of emotions that were absolutely electrifying. Chris Lee on lead guitar unveiled an exhilarating wall of sound, while John “Ro” Rogan on bass and Nick Woods on drum made for a thrilling rhythm section ride on the wild side. Performing songs from their recently released Rescue Team as well as unveiling a whole cadre of thrilling new material, top tunes by The Shakers included Mystics, I Spy, and the devastating Thundercloud.

theshakersviperrev3Opening for acts as wide ranging as Everclear, Our Lady Peace, and The Motels, The Shakers own innovative work has clearly attracted an audience looking for a heartfelt, auditory adventure. All this, and the songs are insanely accessible, leaving an indelible impression even at first listen. It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for The Shakers, certainly one of L.A’s best kept secrets.  Be sure to check this rocking outfit out when they show up to shake it up at the clubs in your town.

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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At Our Expense at Cobalt Cafe

atourexp2At Our Expense, Cobalt Café, November 12, 2014

At Our Expense is a hard working collective from the San Fernando Valley who has found themselves on national tours, and have self-released their own recordings over the last few years. Amazingly unsigned at this time, At Our Expense combines the melodies of punk punk with the vibrant intensity of post hardcore – unleashing an auditory exhibition of sound that will captivate the senses. Playing right into the middle of an all pop punk night at the Cobalt Café, At Our Expense drew a wildly appreciative crowd on an otherwise tranquil Wednesday night in Canoga Park.

atourexp3Opening with the spiraling Lighthouse, the first track from their recently released I’m The One Who Changed effort, At Our Expense sent the room spinning with their exhilarating set. One noticed right away the shattering clean vocals of Angel Carmona, venting an emotional intensity that soared into the stratosphere. The ferocious unclean vocals then arrived via Andy Argueta, presenting a feral juxtaposition that really kept your attention throughout. The two charismatic front men were way up in the front, certainly drawing the audience in with two very impassioned performances.

atourexp4The musicianship in the band was absolutely thrilling, with each member contributing tremendously to the At Our Expense wall of sound. Terrific performances all around from Danny Santamaria on guitar, Danny Lopez on guitar and vocals, Emory Mugalianon bass, and Michael Duffy on drums. Focusing on material culled from the new CD, songs such as The Walls Around Me and In The Heart Of August were gripping and ambitious. With a show this powerful and an explosive recording to back it all up, it won’t be long before we witness At Our Expense finally breaking it out into the big leagues, whether with a record label or on their own terms. In the meantime, be sure to catch up to this vastly underrated local band on the rise and get ready to be thoroughly impressed by their sonic artistry. Presented by TwoHearts Show!

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Talia Farber)

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Relient K at The Glass House

fromindian1Relient K, Blondfire, From Indian Lakes, The Glass House, November 14th, 2014

From Indian Lakes have two CD’s already and haa proven to be an eclectic arty garage guitar based band. These mix elements of The Ocean Blue’s sound with an artistic lead vocalist that uses higher vocals that flow gracefully over the blend of lush guitars and keyboards. They hail out of Yosemite National Park, California area. Being from the forest mountain area might explain the dreamy sound of their music. They would do really well if they were to play Coachella Music and Arts Festival or perhaps on Saturday Night Live. They are currently signed to Triple Crown Records. The best song in the bands set was Am I Alive from the newest release Absent Sounds album.

blondefireFrom Los Angeles next up was Blondfire. They are currently on tour in support of their newest release Young Heart. The female vocalist reminded me of Kelly Clarkson but more slowed down and relaxed. They play wonderful heartfelt pop songs with catchy melodies. However, in the middle of the bands set they play a cover of Dreams by Fleetwood Mac and did it really well! One of the best songs in the bands set was Hide And Seek. Hide And Seek would make for a cool video of the same name of the game as well.

relientkColumbia Records recording artist Relient K was for sure what the sold out crowd came to see. All six members were playing their hearts out to the crowd. The hour and a half long set had the audience singing alone to every song they did. They decided to go back into 2004 a do the entire album of theirs called Mmhmm. They also played one of their newest songs from the recent album Collapsible Lung. From that album they played during the 20 minute encore Don’t Blink which the crowd went into a frenzy for, plus a few more songs from the bands back catalog. A great time was had by all. Every one left happy and uplifted.

(Review and Photos by Jonathan D. Wright)

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