Powerful and moving, indie rock band The Rival, bring their A-game to listeners on their new EP Sands. The EP is the Nashville duo’s second in a planned three release set, and it is a collection definitely worthy of more attention.
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of seeing two exciting bands at Will’s Pub. Crowd pleasers to the sold out show were Teen Suicide and Elvis Depressedly. I was not overly familiar with the music of either band previously, so my ears were in for a new treat.
This year’s 101.1 WJRR Earthday Birthday was the most women-centric rock event I can remember, and the approach helped make it one of the best festivals I’ve experienced. We were treated to five female fronted bands, a key sponsor was breast health awareness non-profit organization Rock Pink, we had a chance to honor a local survivor, we saw plenty of Mel and LT, and of course, there were painted breasts celebrated everywhere.
“We try to cultivate a culture of positivity at our shows” – Colin Dieden
The Mowgli’s are a blossoming Alt-rock band, touring across the country on the strength of their excellent second album Kids In Love, making new friends everywhere they play, and making a difference all over the world. They are just the type of band the world needs to hear more of, and we were able to steal a few minutes of their time backstage before they hit stage in Orlando a few weeks ago.
We caught up with energetic and talented front man Alex Baugh from Orlando’s Crazy Carls a few weeks ago at the inaugural Big Orlando Festival, where the band shared the spotlight with some of the biggest names in Alt-Rock: Fall Out Boy, Weezer, Young The Giant, New Politics, etc…
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Amidst that impressive line-up, Baugh truly stood out as one of the most dynamic performers of the festival. We caught up with him shortly after his entertaining set.
Cretin: Great set today. I’ll tell you, you have a lot of charisma on stage. Alex Baugh: (Flashing an electric smile) Thank you. Awesome.
Cretin: So, how would you describe your band’s brand of rock music? Alex Baugh: Fun. It’s just fun feel good music. Dancy, pop, rock, there’s some funk in there. There’s a lot of different influences we draw from but most of all it’s a fun energetic live show.
Cretin: It is. Speaking of fun and energetic, what did you think of the crowd who caught your set? Alex Baugh: Sick. It was sick.
Cretin: They really seemed to like it. Alex Baugh: They liked it and we liked playing for them. It was fun. Definitely got them stoked. They were into the numbers as the set moved on and they seemed to have a good time.
Cretin: When I saw you play at Flagler Tavern, you had a guitar slung over your shoulder. Alex Baugh: Yeah I did, not today. (smiles)
Cretin: But you seemed like a good guitarist, as well. Alex Baugh: Yeah, thanks, that’s what I am first off. Being a songwriter, I’ve played guitar for awhile. We were just trying different things, trying to keep it fresh and keep it exciting for the fans. We tried something different today and I think it went off well.
Cretin: I think it gives you a chance to free yourself a bit. (Baugh was flying around the stage) Alex Baugh: Yeah, a little bit. (smiles again) I felt some freedom today.
Cretin: The music we heard today and the backing tracks, was that all your stuff? Alex Baugh: It’s all our music. We did one cover, the new Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk.” All of the other songs we worked out in the studio and produced ourselves. Those tracks are hard work.
Cretin: So, speaking of this festival, are there any other bands on the line-up today who you are of particular interest to you? Alex Baugh: I would say it’s a pretty awesome line-up. I’ve been on tour with Dirty Heads before, they’re cool, good guys (see our interview with Jared from Dirty Heads here). I’ve seen Fall Out Boy before, which is awesome. I’m excited to see Young The Giant; I heard they have good live shows.
Cretin: I saw a bunch of fans singing along in the crowd today, that’s great to see, especially knowing how hard it is to get airplay around here. Alex Baugh: It’s hard to get radio play anywhere as a local regional artist. Radio is very corporate and it’s money. Radio now is pay to play. Fortunately we got some love from a local Orlando station. 101.1, they play our music sometimes, as well as college radio.
Cretin: So, you’re an Orlando-based band. I thought you might be from New Smyrna Beach? Alex Baugh: We’re from here (Orlando), but we play all over Florida and just finished a run out to Texas. We also toured with Aaron Carter recently
Cretin: Any new music coming up? Alex Baugh: We have an EP release coming in January or February next year.
Cretin: Your new video for “To The Stars” is great and the song is very catchy. How’s it doing? Alex Baugh: It’s doing great. We got over 10,000 views on Youtube and it just came out a week or two. And people love the video, I think it came out pretty awesome. We’ve had a great response so far.
Check out the video shot at Cocoa Beach below:
Cretin: With radio play so tough to get, has video become more important in recent years? Alex Baugh: Video has become a staple, yeah. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years, and we were one of the first local bands to put out a good video. Now, everyone’s got a good camera, everything’s so accessible and it’s so easy to edit . If you don’t have videos, you may be a little lazy. It’s something for me that is more of a staple. We have over a million views on our YouTube channel. If we’re going to give you new music, we’re going to give you video, too. It’s interactive, it’s fun.
Cretin: So, what’s next for you guys? Alex Baugh: We’ll be headlining an event in Orlando next year and you’ll see some new music. We’re releasing a new EP and also have a single coming out in the next week or so from that EP, with a new video that we shot for that. We filmed it on the road with Aaron Carter. So, it will be a nice live video which we haven’t released in awhile. Then we’ll hit some states regionally and nationally and hopefully hit South By Southwest.
As we wrapped up the interview, Baugh was thankful and humble. Nice traits for a budding star, just bursting with charisma. We’ll keep you in the loop when they’re playing live and when the band’s new music hits the street. Until then, make sure you hit up Crazy Carls on Twitter and Facebook (then do the same with us).
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Mile Mains & the Branches, Calm Down Everything Is Fine.
The pressure on a singer-songwriter is likely never more intense than in that brief period that bridges a highly-acclaimed debut album and the recording of an artist’s sophomore effort. As difficult a task as that normally is, it’s virtually impossible when you’re trying to channel your inner-Boss. Fortunately, Shannon Mains reminded her husband that he needed to focus on being the first Mike Mains instead of the next Springsteen. The result: A damn good release from a talented performer.
Mains was working on the successor to his popular debut, Home, when he found himself constantly listening to Springsteen’s 1978 classic Darkness On The Edge of Town. Fortunately, with a bit of urging from his wife, he eschewed the Bruce influence and focused on his own strengths as a writer. The result, like Darkness, was a more mature and diverse offering than its predecessor, but the Springsteen comparisons end there.
Calm Down Everything Is Fine is a rock masterpiece that just oozes cool Indie Rock swagger while still offering superb pop hooks. The album is impeccably produced, courtesy of Matt Hoopes of Relient K; featuring nicely layered guitars and keyboards and highlighted by Mains’ distinctive vocals which are a perfect voice for today’s Alternative Rock landscape. I was pleasantly surprised by the prominence of Nate Wethy’s bass throughout the album, as well. The bass lines are fantastic and never lost in the mix.
The opening track, “Played It Safe” is a creative, yet dark ode to pessimism. But, it’s immediately juxtaposed with an optimistic future hit, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” It’s just one of a handful of masterful sequencing touches on the album. Another example is the transition between “Noises” and “Slow Down.” The former is a pop punk anthem-in-the-waiting. I love the vocals but this one is all about the slick layered guitar and memorable riffs that absolutely demand your attention. “Slow Down” is a perfectly placed ballad that offers a chance to catch your breath and admire Mains’ more tender side.
Shannon Mains makes a mark in more ways than as a creative adviser, as we hear her tight harmonies nicely slipped into several songs, as well as a few shining moments on the keyboard. Other strong offerings include the rocking “In The Night” and the stark and haunting “Where Love Dies.”
If there’s any downside to the album, it’s that Mains’ vocals at times feel occasionally restrained. He lets loose at times and sounds superb, but more often than not he seems a bit reined in. Make no mistake, the vocals are catchy and provocative, and it might just be my impression, but I suspect there’s a more edgy, gravelly sound to him that’s even more appealing.
But, I’m being a bit nit-picky. This diverse offering is a must listen for fans of Pop, Alt-Rock, Indie-Rock and Pop-Punk. It’s good stuff, and an album likely to re-appear on these pages in our year-end Album of the Year listings. Check it out below and let me know what you think.
Legendary hard rockers, Great White are headed to Northern Florida for a show this weekend. The band has been a fixture on the rock landscape for three decades, and the talented musicians always put forth a killer show. We caught up with the band for a quick chat before they headed out on the road, and loved their unfiltered thoughts about today’s music, their future, The Allman Brothers and former front man Jack Russell.
Cretin: You guys have been rocking for over thirty years yet you still tour regularly these days; do you get more satisfaction out of making new music, like 2012’s Elation, or from touring?
Mark Kendall: Making new music is why we’re still here after 30 years. The key to our motivation has been allowing ourselves the freedom to make new music. Playing live is where we feel at home and making new music is what gets us there, so I would have to call it a tie. Michael Lardie: Recording new material has always been the thing that drives the Great White machine. It’s the creative part of what we do that keeps it fresh for us. Then, by performing, we get lay the new songs in the fans. It’s circular for us. One feeds the other. Audie Desbrow: I enjoy creating new music, things don’t get jaded that way. I also love to tour playing hits as well as new music. I get equal satisfaction doing both.
Cretin: During those three decades, you’ve seen the rock market evolve significantly over the years. What do you think of the new rock out today?
Mark Kendall: I like some of it. When it’s a band of people that have that human feel and are playing their instruments with melody, it’s probably going to get a favorable review from me. I’m just not a fan of music that comes from machines. Audie Desbrow: There’s new rock? Michael Lardie: There are some talented songwriters and performers. The sonics for me have changed dramatically. I must say I do miss the dynamics of a recording i.e. e. Zeppelin always had such a wide variance of sounds and textures. It made you want to really listen to their records. Cretin: How true. Could you imagine today’s bands going to a castle, church, or Bron-Yr-Aur to capture a great vibe? (See our list of Led Zeppelin’s Best albumswhen you are done here)
Cretin: Are there any emerging bands that remind you of a young Great White, or whose music you particularly enjoy?
Mark Kendall: There was a band that I met that reminded me of a younger us from our early years, and that was a band called “Veins Of Jenna”. I believe they are from Sweden but live in LA now. Audie Desbrow: I haven’t been up to speed on the new bands as much as before. Probably because there’s not much substance to them.
Cretin: You’re headed to Jacksonville this weekend – the place where Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers really broke through. Did those bands have any influence on your music?
Mark Kendall: Sure!!! When I was a young teenager I would sit and learn every Dicky Betts lick note for note for hours on end!! So the Allman Brothers definitely. Lynyrd Skynyrd was a great band from the 70’s also and the entire 70’s era had a huge impact on us. Michael Lardie: Both bands were a staple in our record collections. Great songs. Great delivery, great performance bands. Audie Desbrow: The Allman Brothers were part of my music upbringing I’d say. They had two drummers. It was harder learning the songs.
Cretin: Jack Russell was a talented front man, but even with that talent there seemed to be lots of distractions. Are both groups in a better place now that you’ve formally split the Great White baby?
Mark Kendall: We can really only speak for ourselves, and we are very happy to own the name, so there is only one Great White. Jack’s name is attached to his hired band and that eliminates any risk of confusion of who you’re going to see, and that’s all we ever wanted for our fans. Audie Desbrow: We are in a better place, we never split anything, we own the name, we are Great White, period.
Cretin: The band is playing on the Monsters of Rock cruise this winter with a great line-up of classic rockers. Is there any one act you are excited to see and to be sharing the bill with?
Mark Kendall: We have history with several acts on the cruise so it’s like a class reunion really. Tesla is one that sticks out that we did a very long co-headlining tour with in the late 80’s. It will be exciting to see everyone again. It’s not just the bands, there are crew guys, fans, and photographers from the past, and so it’s just a lot of fun to see everyone. Audie Desbrow: I really enjoyed watching Saxon, been a fan from early on. I’m always proud to be performing with all my friends from other bands.
Cretin: Finally, you see some of the bands that broke through in the Sixties still touring regularly, and they’ve got nearly 20 years on you – how long do you see yourselves touring?
Mark Kendall: As long I have the desire to be creative, I will continue to make music and tour. We’re in this for life ya know. Michael Lardie: As long as it makes sense for us. Could be 5 years could be 20. That’s the journey of being a musician. You never quite know where it will take you. We are a family that has survived many ups and downs. To us it’s always been our career. I don’t think we are ready for retirement just yet. Audie Desbrow: I often think about that, I will do this as long as my health holds out and especially if the fans are still coming to the shows.
Don’t ask me how it happened, because I’m not sure. I downloaded this album and when I put it on my phone to listen to it, the tracks got loaded in reverse order. I didn’t notice until after about four days of listening to it. Well, guess what? I listened to it in correct order and it didn’t really matter.
My Rocks Are Dreams is a pretty damned good record throughout, with none of the tracks falling flat. Starting off with a simple, but effective piano intro on “We Do Not Belong”, it soon jumps full-steam into melodic pop goodness. Will Schwartz, of Imperial Teen fame, has crafted some of the best pop songs I’ve heard in a while. They are not sugary, but they will get stuck in your head for days. His lyrics are sincere, but never seem to approach melancholy. Sounding a bit like John Samson of The Weakerthans, his voice could possibly be abrasive to some, but sweet and melodic to others. It adds a unique element to the songs, and in all seriousness, I believe it’s one of the most defining characteristics of Psychic Friend. The drumming is flawless, and the arrangements usually include piano or synth, and guitar.
I like to imagine that Mr. Schwartz was writing songs with the hipster that wouldn’t leave his bar-stool in mind. “We Do Not Belong” would certainly be the one to make you forget about getting your brand new tennies scuffed on the dance floor, and if the original wasn’t enough, the remix by Gliss will surely make it impossible to sit still. Also included is a remix of “Once A Servant” by YACHT. It is unclear whether these remixes were commissioned, or offered to Schwartz for inclusion in the album, but they are welcome none-the-less. Side note: My brother saw YACHT open for the Postal Service in Las Vegas and said that they were more entertaining than the headliner.
If you’re unfamiliar with Imperial Teen, like I was before listening to Psychic Friend, then it seems to be common knowledge that Mr. Schwartz is gay. I wasn’t even going to mention it, but the information I read when receiving the music made a point of mentioning it. My point is that had I not been privy to that information, it probably would have never crossed my mind. The songs are sometimes about love, but love as a nameless, faceless template for you to insert yourself into.
The write-up also indicated that it would be an album full of super-catchy, fun pop songs, and those are the only four words that needed to be said to make my ears perk up. Indeed, My Rocks Are Dreams is a well crafted album, full to the brim with dance-ables, whether you are at a cool club or just want to slow-dance with the one you love in your living room, Psychic Friend has got you covered.