Monday, December 1, 2008

The coolest tat ever!

This wins as the coolest tat ever. Done by Trevor (formerly of Eighteen Visions, currently of Never Enough, Imperative Reaction, and Combichrist) on our very own Ashlei. It looks like a painting.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger

Andrew McMahon has yet again come through. Alternative Press hailed this record as the number one most highly anticipated release of the year and no one can deny their anticipation was warranted. A few years ago the future of Jack’s Mannequin was placed into question as front man Andrew McMahon faced his hardest battle yet, leukemia. After bravely fighting back, this man who seemingly lives for music, as the tattoo on his forearm suggests, has jumped with both feet back into the game. He has produced a record that both addresses his battles, and at the same time helps him exorcise those demons and move past them.
He has quite publicly proclaimed that he didn’t want this to be the “leukemia album”, and it isn’t. In fact, if you are not familiar with the history involved you are unlikely to make the connections. However, for those fans who were there in the trenches of the fight, sending him cards, letters and prayers for recovery, as well as taking an active role in fundraising for leukemia charities, the poignancy of a few of the songs are sure to make for some tears. This is a songwriter and front man who we’ve all watched grow from a teenager, fronting Something Corporate, to a grown man with a wife and a lot of battle scars behind him, singing about “….the music that saves you, when you’re not so sure you’ll survive.” He has not only survived, but produced unquestionably the best album of the year.
There are things about this album that are definitely different. Yes, his voice does sound slightly different. Try battling a life threatening illness and not coming out the other side a bit changed. Yes, many of these songs are not typical Something Corporate songs, but then that was part of the reason he established Jack’s Mannequin. Yes, the style is different from the heavily Beach Boys influenced sound of Everything in Transit. This is not a sunny, summer record the way the first release was. This is a record that documents his journey to hell and back. It was going to be different, that was easily predicted. The Glass Passenger shows a maturing singer/songwriter at the top of his game, a game we are all insanely happy did not end too soon. I can’t recommend highly enough that you purchase this disc in it’s entirety as opposed to an individual song or two in online format. This is an album, in the truest sense, and should be experienced as such. This is a cd that has legs, and will remain a part of active rotation in your collection forever. Andrew McMahon continues to prove himself to be one of the premier singer/songwriters of his generation.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mest, Quietdrive and Rookie of the Year

I just finished editing and installing Ashlei's photos onto so I wanted to invite everyone to come check them out. I'm attaching a few samples.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Richard Ashcroft is amazing. Always has been and always will be. Formed in 1989, this is a band with a long and storied past. With the release of ‘Forth’ they have made it clear that they are making an extremely relevant contribution to today’s music scene. This is the first new disc from The Verve since 1997’s ‘Urban Hymns’, and was certainly long-awaited by fans the world over. Lushly atmospheric, this is one of those records that you can listen to over and over, finding different nuances each time. While ‘Love is Noise’ is being marketed as the single this is a solid disc all the way through. ‘Rather Be’ is scheduled for a November release as a single in the UK, undoubtedly to be the follow-up here as well. In the current state of music, when The Jonas Brothers have over a million myspace friends compared to The Verve’s 53,000 it’s nice to see a band producing quality rather than just pandering garbage to the masses to seek success.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cinematic Sunrise

“A Coloring Storybook and Long Playing Record”

Side projects are often a fascinating glimpse into the fuller personality of your favorite musicians. Cinematic Sunrise is no exception. It is a glimpse into the pop rock sensibilities of Craig and Brad from Chiodos. Even if the ep wasn’t great it would win mass kudos for the creative package design. But, more than a gimmick, it is an expansion of the feeling of this disc. The production is tight, the vocals can only be described as dreamy, and my only complaint would be that it’s too short. If “You Told Me You Loved Me” doesn’t end up as some movie theme song I will be greatly surprised. Beautiful keys and crystalline vocals create just that right emotional tug, and as it builds in power it might as well scream pick me to whoever is looking to score the next big romantic movie.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Spill Canvas

‘No Really, I’m Fine”

South Dakota may not be the first place you think of as producing hot rock bands, but that is indeed what they have done as The Spill Canvas have recently released their third record ‘No Really, I’m Fine”. Oh, and by the way, judging by the lyrics, no Nick, you’re not fine, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Front man Nick Thomas, yet again exhibits his uninhibited ability to be both sorrowful and startlingly sexy on many of these new tunes. Andrew McMahon contributes piano on ‘Saved’ which alone is a good enough reason to buy this disc, but there happen to also be a number of solid songs surrounding it including the one getting a lot of video play these days, “All Over You”.

Caught them live last year on one of the Warped Tour smaller stages and can assure you they sound even better live than on disc. Very worth checking out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jimmy Eat World

"Chase This Light"

If you didn't learn years ago to buy everything this band does, it's high time you catch up. These boys are and always have been consistently great. With Butch Vig producing the band has yet again released a record where every track could be a successful single as many of them have already become.

Many of today's young bands site Jimmy Eat World as a major influence, sometimes even name checking them in songs, and yet they remain active contributors to the scene they have helped to mold. Excellent live show, well worth checking out if you have not yet had the

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blackpool Lights

"This Town's Disaster"
This disc came and went with a minimum of fanfare back in 2006, and that's a shame since it was definitely one of the best releases of that year. Helmed by Jim Suptic, formerly of The Get Up Kids, Blackpool Lights produced a very consistent and very good quality disc that few people seem to know about. This is one of those discs that is going to be considered timeless, because you are going to be able to pull it out in ten years and be just as impressed as when it came out. Highlights of the disc, for those of you silly people who insist on buying single songs, are "Empty Tank" and "The Truth About Love", but do yourself a favor and buy the actual cd, which is enhanced and includes videos, and has really great artwork.

I caught them live around the time this disc came out headlining mid-week at Chain Reaction and was blown away by a great set, despite the bulk of the kids having gone home early since it was a school night. Click their name above to be redirected to their myspace, and find the disc at Amazon among a number of places.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nine Days

"The Maddening Crowd"
Even though this disc only made them marginally famous for about a minute back in 2000, due to the overwhelming success of "Absolutely (story of a girl)", this was a really decent record and deserves to be in your collection. Had they not fallen victim to big label nightmares of redtape in releasing their followup they well could have ridden the strength of this record into a great deal more success. "Back to Me" and "Crazy", both of which are late on the disc are particularly good tracks.

See what they are up to now by clicking their name above to be connected to their myspace.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


“Call it what you want”
I saw these guys live, for the first time, a few years ago as they made the transition from being Run Home Jack to Fire Rocket Red. They’ve been through some lineup changes since then, but the core of the band, Brent and Chris, carry on. There are a couple newer tracks on their myspace worth checking out as well, including a cover of "What is Love" done as a bit of a goof, and an excellent new song "Lovesick".

This disc came out early last year, with very limited distribution, but was easily one of the best pop-punk discs of the year. It does a great job of capturing both the goofy charm of their live shows, and their solid writing skills for a very commercially saleable product to appeal to fans of Fall Out Boy and the like. They’ve had a little local exposure on KROQ’s Locals Only show where Kat played “There’s a new sheriff in town and this time it’s for keeps” for several weeks, but they remain largely a local, Orange County secret.
This disc is available on, and is well worth the purchase. Track 4 “Mothra is in our Sex Class” would be a huge radio hit if somebody like Panic or FOB had written it. Give these guys a chance. You won’t be sorry.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The City Drive

Danny Smith, frontman of The City Drive, and our good friend is currently competing in a contest being held by Esquire magazine for the Best Dressed Real Man. As of this writing his profile is on the main page, leading the votes. I need you to help keep him there. All you have to do is click on the stars below his photo to rate him. You don't have to register, and you can vote repeatedly by renewing the page. Voting ends Friday. It's a really cool prize package if he wins, and it seriously couldn't go to a nicer, or better dressed, guy. So help out PLEASE.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Liam and Me

Okay, so despite my best efforts to listen to everything I possibly can, I missed these guys till now. A 4-piece out of West Philadelphia, Liam and Me, may be one of the best bands I’d never heard of till today. Apparently I’m the only one that’s missed them since they’re signed to Thrive/Sony Red Ink, and will be spending June and part of July on tour with The Spill Canvas (LOVE THEM) and Ludo (LOVE THEM TOO). While you can spot some definite 80’s references in what they do, their sound is definitely uniquely their own. They fit very nicely into the sort of dance vibe rock movement that’s been gaining so much momentum lately. I’m particularly loving the track ‘Fast as You Can’, but really it’s all pretty damn good. Click their name above to be taken to their myspace and check it out for yourselves. As soon as I get a chance to see them live I’ll add photos.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Refreshments

“Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy” released in the 90’s by The Refreshments was then, and still remains, one of my favorite records of all time. This was a fun band out of Tempe, Arizona who knew how to play great rock and roll and never take themselves too seriously. After all, when your big hit, “Banditos” name checks Captain Jean Luc Picard, you know they are out for a good time. While this tune got some airplay the record kinda tanked on the charts and though they have since disbanded, this is a disc you need to own. Hit Amazon if your local retailer doesn't carry it anymore. Fans of current bands like Ludo will definitely appreciate a similary twisted, off-kilter sort of humor.

The Refreshments may actually be most famous for the theme for "King of the Hill". As far as the here and now check out “Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers” which features two members of The Refreshments (Roger and PH)and who I’m told still hit some of their old tunes in concert.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

William Tell

William Tell
“You Can Hold Me Down”
Will already earned my devotion for having been a member of Something Corporate, but I fell in love all over again when I heard him play songs from this 2007 release before it came out, when he opened for CIWWAF at The Alley in Fullerton. Standing all of about two feet from him I was stunned by the crystalline clarity of his voice and stunningly emotional delivery. It was a tough crowd, in that a majority of the kids in the crowd didn’t seem to know who he was and were anxious to get on to CIWWAF, but that did not detract from his performance in the least.

This disc will appeal equally to emo kids and their adult contemporary counterparts, making it perfect when families actually want to agree on music to play around the house. It’s garnered minimal radio airplay in the SoCal area, but has found it’s way into a tv spot or two. Highlights include two versions of “Young at Heart” (electric and acoustic) and my personal favorite, “Like You, Only Sweeter”. Pick this up for sure and if you want to take a fun trip down memory lane hit YouTube for the video of Will with SOCO doing “If U C Jordan”.

p.s. click the title of this blog to be taken to his myspace page
p.p.s. hit ebay and search the band "Sick Puppies". The very colorful photo up for auction is mine and all proceeds will go to Ashlei's college fund for the fall. PLEASE BID

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

James Hart and Burn Halo

For anyone who does not already know this, James Hart, formerly of Eighteen Visions, has an awesome new project going called Burn Halo. I would strongly encourage you to check out his myspace - which you can reach by clicking the title of this blog. We are looking forward to either myself or Ash photographing it sometime in the near future.

We had been talking about the photos Ash took of the final 18V show at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, which gave me the lovely excuse to go back through them again. The lighting wasn't great but we did the best we could to produce a stunning product. Here's a few samples but if you want to check out the rest go to

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kate Voegele

There has been buzz about Kate Voegele for a long time now. Hooking up with Myspace Records was certainly a promotional bonanza for this young artist, as was her multi-episode arc on One Tree Hill, playing a musician and showcasing her own real-life songs.

Too much buzz can be a hard thing to live up to in my opinion, and upon first listening to “Don’t Look Away”, I was afraid she had indeed failed to live up to the hype all the way up till the acoustic bonus tracks. The rest of the record paled as over-produced and common compared to the startling simplicity and chilling power of the stripped down acoustic versions of “I Get It”, “Only Fooling Myself”, and “Wish You Were” . This was where she truly shined.

It’s a shame that they’ve tried to make her fit in when it seems she was made to stand out. I look forward to some future opportunity to see her live as my impression from the record is that she is likely to be quite good live.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


What can I say about Eudora? I originally saw them a few years ago, as an opening act at Chain Reaction, and thought they were a really good band with alot of potential. Those few years since have brought them lineup changes, including a new singer, time to build a fan base, a Warped Tour gig, and now an upcoming cd release. I have the demo disc of two of the songs on the upcoming record and could not possibly be more psyched waiting for this thing to come. A new singer is too often the kiss of death for a band but the addition of Brandon Ball has done the exact opposite for these boys - it has pushed them from good to great. I'm looking forward to watching the label bidding war commence once this disc goes public.

If you are in So Cal - get your tickets for this now before they sell out. You can say you knew them when.
And to check them out now, including a newly posted song:

Thursday, April 24, 2008


October 2007 finally brought the release of long awaited “Kiss or Kill” by Endeverafter. For those not familiar, these boys are the second coming, as far as hard rock is concerned. They take the best of old school 70’s and 80’s hard rock and bring it screaming into the future. Having suffered from a lot of label drama, but then who hasn’t these days, I was glad to see this disc finally see the light of day.

This is a band whose entire image just screams SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK AND ROLL! Best be locking up your daughters when these boys roll through town. But unlike some bands who try to cultivate that sort of thing, all surface and no substance, these boys back it up with some of the best guitar work seen in recent years. Watching front man and guitar god Michael Grant play guitar is something that has to be experienced in person. There are only a handful of people in rock today who play like they were born holding a guitar and he is definitely one of them. Adding to having some serious chops, is the fact that these are genuinely nice guys, despite all the serious attitude displayed on stage. This is one of those bands where all the boys want to be them and all the girls want to be with them.

Produced by the uber talented Stacy Jones (American Hi-Fi) and contributed to by Butch Walker, among others this is a disc that needs to land in your collection. I’ve attached some stills from the “I Wanna Be Your Man” video shoot, shot by Preston, and edited by me. The rest of the photos from the shoot can be seen both on and

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tommy Lee

Guess I’m feeling the old stuff still. Here’s another one to add to your collection.

Tommyland the Ride, by Tommy Lee and friends...arrived on the scene back in August of 2005. At the time it didn’t seem to get a lot of press beyond MTV taking some interest in the video for “Good Times” which was a nice mellow song for summer. I happened to have advance knowledge that Andrew McMahon had worked on the album with Tommy, along with a bevy of other collaborators so I was greatly anticipating this one, and was not disappointed. With an endless list of collaborators including not only Professor McMahon (inside joke) but also Joel Madden, Carl Bell, Butch Walker, Derick Whibley and tons more, you get the immediate feeling that all these guys just had a blast hanging out and making this record.

One of the tracks definitely worth checking out is “Tired” with Joel Madden in which they embrace both glee and a little melancholy as they make fun of the disposable nature of the celebrity relationship. This song actually becomes even funnier today since Joel and brother Benji are currently involved with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. But for me the reason to buy this record was my desire to try and own everything Andrew McMahon involves himself with. While having worked on multiple tracks it is “I Need You” that is the stunning, breathtaking standout here. So buy this record, put on headphones, and when you get to this track I guarantee the hairs on your arms will stand up - it’s that good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Marvelous 3

Today I had my 7,472,323 conversation with someone who said they really hadn’t bought any cds or followed music particularly since high school or college. In investigating the why behind such absurdity I got the same answer I always get - I don’t know what’s good and don’t have time to look into it. So I’m going to make it simple for those of you out there in this same boat and tell you what to buy. The only thing I ask in return is to hear from you as to what you think once you own it. That’s a fair deal I think. We’ll start off with an oldie but a goodie that happened to be in my cd player today.

I have been in love with Butch Walker for years. 1999’s “Hey! Album” from his old band Marvelous 3 has been in constant rotation for me ever since “Freak of the Week” first hit the radio waves. While Butch has long since moved on to numerous producing gigs, performing and recording as Butch Walker and the Let’s Go Out Tonites, and recently 1969, this is an album you must seek out. You can find anything on the internet these days so don’t complain if your local store doesn’t have it. I just checked and it’s available on Amazon both for purchase of the disc and download of individual songs. If you are gonna cherry pick individual tunes be sure to hit “You’re So Yesterday”, “Freak of the Week”, “Every Monday” and “Vampires in Love” - though really every track on this disc is strong. This is as fresh now as the day it came out - power pop(yes Butch I know you hate that word)/rock that will live forever. If you long for the days when bands like Cheap Trick were playing The Forum this disc is for you. This man lives and breathes catchy, commercial rock tunes - a large reason he is in such demand as a producer. There is nothing wrong with commercial. All that means is that it sells and lets you continue doing what you love for a living. And what the hell has ever been wrong with that?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Middle Class Rut

So yeah, I'm still raving about them and telling anyone who will listen that they have to go catch them live. I think the show review I submitted for the Spin contest kinda says it all:

I have, as yet, never walked away from a show at Chain Reaction without a new discovery of a band I either love, like, or at least see some potential in. The Perfect Victim show was no exception. Openers Middle Class Rut, down from Nor Cal on their way to SXSW have firmly kept my streak intact. Having never seen them before, and watching them set up, I was thinking nobody but The White Stripes really pulls this off successfully. I was wrong. They were amazing. Zack Lopez and Sean Stockham are industry vets who obviously know a thing or three about where they are going and how to get there. Their sound is raw, with just the right amount of crunch, and the interplay between both the two of them and their audience is nothing short of pure energy. They played to what was probably the biggest crowd of the night as a lot of kids bailed before the headliners, but that was okay since they stole the show anyway. Look for big things in the future from Middle Class Rut who I’m sure are on a lot of people’s short list following four shows at SXSW.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Arena Rock

A recent argument got me thinking about arena shows. Like most true music fans I would rather cut off my right arm than be forced to attend most arena shows, with very few exceptions, and I’ll get to those later. Now I know, you’re saying that all musicians aspire to be so hugely successful that they get to play arenas. The Foo Fighters and Linkin Park being two examples of arena shows that have come through here recently. Does this mean they “made it”? Does this mean they are successful despite the fact that the industry is tanking? In some ways, yes. But personally I much prefer the route bands like Social Distortion have taken to play extended residencies at places like The House of Blues(a club size venue).

At some point I think the beauty of what a musician does is lost when the scale becomes so large. Unless you’re at the very front of a large arena show, immediately close to the stage, you are not watching a show….you are watching other people watching a show. If you are far enough back to see the video screens often utilized in productions such as these then you may as well have stayed home and watch a concert dvd. Now some shows do attempt to rise to the occasion such as Panic At The Disco and their circus themed tour complete with acrobats and the like. They made a valiant attempt….however, having seen them at much smaller venues prior to that tour I can definitively state that they are a much better band without all the hoopla. The notable exception of recent years was AFI’s set at the 91X Christmas show a couple years ago which was hands down the best show I’ve ever seen. My hat’s off to Davey and the boys for doing it better than all the rest.

Now of course I realize that graduating to arena shows is oft times an economic necessity but too often it just erupts into lazy, unmotivated performances. After all, how do you really connect with and audience of 20,000 + people. The answer is simple. You don’t. Now granted, a lot of people don’t know what they are missing. Their only concert experience is arena shows. They don’t know the excitement of discovering an unknown band playing for 20 people in a dive bar and following them on their path to success. They haven’t been at a 250 person club when their favorite singer climbs into the crowd on the hands and shoulders of the kids. I forgive them their ignorance. But, at the same time, pity them for what they are missing.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It’s a thin line between love and hate. I love that music has become so accessible via the internet, but I hate that people have stopped collecting cd’s. By relying solely on downloading, and frequently only one song of an album, too many people are missing an essential, tangible part of the experience. The only comparison I can think to make would be to tell someone that they don’t need to see a great work of art, the Mona Lisa for example, because they’ve already seen a photo in a book. Or even more accurately that they only need to see one twelfth of the painting in order to have an accurate vision of what the artist was trying to say.

For many people music is an essential building block to the person they will become. To me relying on downloading has diminished that person into only a part of the whole they otherwise may have been. I can quote literally hundreds of examples of cd’s whose best tracks are not those likely to be downloaded these days. That’s a crime - more so than the downloading. People often send me songs or links to songs. If I like them then my very first thought is that I want to go buy the cd and hear the rest of what the artist was putting out there. If I like that I tend to then buy the artist’s entire catalog so that I can crawl further into their artistic mind.

Buying the actual disc, not the download is an essential part of the experience, whether online or at a retailer. I’m really sad that so many music retailers are gone now. I miss the record store experience. I detest the fact that Walmart has now become the biggest retailer of cds. Instead of relying on some of the coolest kids in the neighborhood to recommend the newest up and coming bands you can buy edited versions of whatever crap gets played on the radio from some jackass in a blue vest that wouldn’t know good music if it crawled up and bit him on the ass. That’s sad.