Tag Archives: Royal Blood

NOW – That’s What I Call Rock

The hugely successful NOW series has just announced their first-ever Rock Compilation which is set for release on Friday, January 22nd. The curators did a nice job delivering a diverse cross-section of rock music for this excellent collection. Click to see who made the cut on this historic album.

now thats what i call rock
Continue reading NOW – That’s What I Call Rock

Blaine The Mono Interview

Blaine The Mono Group Photo
Blaine The Mono: Eric Joseph, Chris Culverwell, Randi Stickles and Clifton Garner

Blaine the Mono Chats About Their New Album

When we naively started this website a few years ago, one of our first reviews was Vices And Verses from local Orlando rockers Blaine The Mono. Since that time, we’ve grown up a bit, and as we see on their excellent new album Jellyfish, this quartet is maturing into one hell of a band.

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On a chilly Florida night, I recently had the chance to sit down with this affable and talented group at Rock & Brews in Oviedo. Huddled around an outdoor heater, we sipped a drink or two, talked about music and life and then took a deep dive into the new album.

Today, I’ll share the early conversation, and provide a deeper look into “Capsize,” the first single and first track from the album, and then follow it up with a deep song-by-song look into the entire album on the day it is released in Orlando, February 28th. It should be a cool accompaniment for you as you take your first tour through the seven new rocking tracks. Make sure you Like our Facebook page so you don’t miss a thing.

We started out talking about the songwriting on the album. As it turns out, and as you’ll read in our track-by-track immersion, this is a true collaborative effort. Many of the songs start off with a riff from guitarist Eric Joseph. From there, they go through an evolution as all of the band members provide their input, before vocalist Randi Stickles polishes it off by penning the typically provocative lyrics, leaving all of the band members sharing songwriting credit.

We chatted for about an hour, and these four are all passionate about the excellent music that they’ve created, and it was nice to see the way they interacted. They like each other and truly seem to enjoy their time working together.

Cretin: So, we’re sitting here at Rock & Brews, where the walls are plastered with images of larger-than-life legendary rockers. Were any of these artists influences for you?
Eric Joseph – Guitar: Zeppelin, Stones and The Beatles, I really came up on The Beatles. I liked the 60s and 70s, and a lot of 50s stuff and the 90s obviously. But, I kind of skipped a lot of stuff in the 80’s, the New Wave rock.
Clifton Garner – Drums: Doors, Hendrix. For the 80’s, I only really liked the Cars, and somebody bought me a Warrant album once.
Randi Stickles – Vocals: (smiling) I really liked the Scooby Doo soundtrack in the 80’s. My dad listened to the Box Tops and stuff like that, but nothing that really stuck out; I listen to a lot of Nirvana and The Distillers.
Joseph: The Used, Deftones, The Yeah, Yeah Yeahs.
Stickles: Royal Blood is a new one I listen to a lot.

Cretin: That was one of our Top 5 albums of the year last year. (See our list here)
Stickles: They’re awesome.
Joseph: That’s a major break out band. Truly awesome.
Garner: When we went to South By (Southwest), they were all over the place. I think they played eight or nine shows in five days, it was great. I’ve got to throw Primus in there, because Irv is one of the greatest drummers. Everybody just thinks of Les Claypool, but in order to play with a bassist of that caliber, you have to be the greatest drummer in the world.

Cretin: Chris, what about you?
Chris Culverwell – Bass: Classic stuff? I’m a big Pink Floyd guy, Doors, Zeppelin, Hendrix. I’m the only Floyd fan here.
Stickles: That’s weird shit. I feel you need to be high, I don’t know.
Culverwell: (unfazed) As far as newer stuff, I’m a big Tool and Radiohead fan.
Joseph: (as “Somebody To Love” plays in the background) I’d like to add Queen to my list
Garner: Yeah, yeah.

Cretin: You guys need to go on-line and look at my Top 25 albums ever, a lot of these bands are included. There’s no Primus on there, though.
Stickles: (sarcastically) best drummer in the world.

Cretin: So switching over to your new album, Jellyfish, do any of you have a favorite song from the album?
Garner: “Get Me Right”
Stickles: Me too, that’s what I end up listening to the most.
Joseph: I listen to “The Slip” the most.
Culverwell: Probably “Blue.”
Stickles: I think “Get Me Right” is one of the newest, and it’s got more of that sing-songy feel which is why I like it.

Cretin: Thinking about your creative process, what was the first song you created for the album?
Garner: I think “Tides” was the oldest, then “Blue.”
Stickles: I just remember playing “Blue” around the time we were recording Vices (and Verses, their last album).” We were like “why don’t we add this?”
Joseph: I remember when we were recording Vices playing a scratch track for “Blue.” Yeah, so the first song we recorded is the last song on the album.

Cretin: Which was the last one you worked on?
Garner: “Get Me Right,” we recorded it on this last tour in the van. That one’s fresh.
Culverwell: The last one we perfected, though, was “You’re A Ghost.”
Garner: Yeah, that’s probably actually the oldest song. You wrote that before we started recording Vices.

Cretin: Which was the first you recorded for the album?
Joseph: “Blue.” We actually recorded them in alphabetical order, because that’s the way the engineer had created the session…

So, let’s begin our song-by-song voyage with “Capsize” (OK – I’ll stop the corny sea references)


Cretin: Why did you choose this one as the first track on the album?
Stickles: Crowd response. The best crowd response for our songs.
Joseph: We wrote it before we went on tour, and it wasn’t on that album we were touring for. In all of the cities we went to we got a really good crowd response. I think we all felt it was more upbeat – kind of dancy, punky, high energy. And, it just seemed to have that nice strong chorus. I was into a lot of Arctic Monkeys at the time and I thought I’d write an Arctic Monkeys song that’s not an Arctic Monkeys song. (We drifted off on a brief tangent about the Arctic Monkeys. I won’t cover the dialogue here, but it’s safe to say the band members are big fans)

Cretin: The opening guitar on this one does not sound like the Blaine The Mono I heard on the first album. What was the inspiration for that?
Joseph: Just something different. Going and performing at South By Southwest really opened my eyes. A lot of the riffs I wrote for Vices, I wrote before I even met Randi. It was a lot of music that Cliff, Chris and I had and then she filled in a lot of stuff and I really wanted to do some music that I felt was more the four of us at the time. That’s how the whole albums is. I just think this is what we actually sound like as a foursome.
Culverwell: Your songwriting changed a lot. He played in an old band before called Atrophy and everything had that grunge vibe to it, and it’s less of that now.
Garner: It’s more Alt now, and less grunge. I think there’s still plenty of metal influences, though.
Stickles: Especially in the breakdowns.

Cretin: I also thought it was a really good drum song.
Joseph: Oh, yeah, it totally is. Love the drums. Absolutely.
Garner: When he wrote that riff, the first thing I heard was Arctic Monkeys and I wanted to make sure we had a really dancy song that you hear that hear that opening and you immediately want to have fun with it.

Cretin: What about the lyrics? They actually confused me a bit.
Garner: She’ll do that.
Stickles: It’s kind of a one night stand perspective and then somebody taking it further than a one night stand and just becoming ridiculously obsessed with you and you have no idea why.
Joseph: I hate when that happens,
Garner: (chuckling) It happens all the time, right?
Stickles: It happens all the time. Something’s got me locked inside your head and you keep that person a secret because you don’t want other people to know how obsessed they are. It’s embarrassing.
Cretin: Do you want to reveal the person?
Stickles: No, no, I’m good.

Well, that’s it for now – a little sample from our walkthrough of the Jellyfish album. Check back soon as we take a similar walk through every song on the new album on February 28th, the date it is released in Orlando.

Rock On!

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Top Rock Songs of 2014


2014’s Best Rock Songs

It was one of those years where I found an increasing number of pop songs that truly appealed to me.  You’ll still find a few harder tracks in here, but to me, the best songs from 2014, were often the ones that found their way onto radio.

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Maybe, I’m getting a little softer in my old age, or perhaps my kids are broadening my horizon a bit, but in any event, these are 25 excellent rock songs, all clearly deserving of the accolades I am about to bestow 🙂

Feel free to check out our Top Rock songs from our prior year-end reviews, too:
2013 Top Rock Songs  |  2012 Top Rock Songs  |  2011 Top Rock Songs

(You can click on the song title to snag the song on iTunes)

25. Dangerous (feat. Joywave) – Big Data – Typically I don’t love electro/ drum machine tracks, but I love, love, love the bass in this song. It’s a space age alt-rocker that also boasts nice vocals, sweet harmonies and some cool sound effects.

24. I Bet My Life – Imagine Dragons – The first post-NightVisions single and a chance for us to see these talented Las Vegas rockers continue to evolve their sound. It’s a well-produced track with a big sound, and another song with great harmonies.

23. Centuries – Fall Out Boy – Pop-rock that sounds great loud, featuring typically excellent vocal prowess from Patrick Stump. The song has catchy hooks and predictably (and deservedly) has already become a staple on sports broadcasts and games everywhere.

22. Parachute – James Durbin – The American Idol star returned to the scene with his first album of self-penned songs.  This track still features his fantastic voice, catchy guitar riffs, and if anything, more of a pop rock feel than we had heard previously.

21. Fever – The Black Keys – This song is just catchy as hell as we hear The Black Keys throw in an extra serving of keyboards to this previous uber-successful recipe. Do you think Alt-Rock radio played this one enough in 2014? Still, a song worthy of another listen or twelve.

20. Got to My Head – Waters – Addictive gang vocals, and dreamy hooks, this is what Grouplove should still sound like. Fortunately, Waters worked with Ryan Rabin to deliver one of the years catchiest, foot-tapping rockers.

19. This Is the Time (Ballast) – Nothing More – Great, hard rocker with a fresh sound from one of this year’s breakout metal acts. As much as I like this song, it doesn’t do justice to their fantastic live performances.

18. Black River – Wolf Gang – This release was a long-time coming, but worth the wait. As always, Max McElligott’s vocals are compelling, but on this track, we really hear the full five-piece band shine. A sweeping, vibrant rocker.

17. Freak Machine – Fit for Rivals – Our first of two “freak” songs. this is a local band destined for big things. Renee Phoenix’s vocals are gritty and urgent, and the song is a hard-driving introspective blast.

16. Freaks – The Hawk InParis – I just love this cool, slinky, Twin Peaks-esque rocker and its hip vibe. Dan Haseltine’s (Jars Of Clay) vocals and lyrics are compelling but the unique, diverse music is just oh so cool.

15. Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens) – New Politics – Another band that’s even better live, but this Danish trio has mastered the upbeat, aggressive Alt-Rock niche. It’s raucous surf/hip-hop/dance/hard rock, and just a damn good party to listen to.

14. I Am Machine – Three Days Grace – When Adam Gontier split after 20 years, the future looked shaky for these Canadian vets, but Matt Walst has stepped in nicely, and his vocals dominate this hard-driving track, which shows a rejuvenated band moving forward with powerful rock.

13. My Sweet Summer – Dirty Heads – This Huntington Beach group evolves constantly, and every incarnation sounds just a bit better than the last. This one is probably their most mainstream offering, but they still retain their cool indie California ska vibe.

12. Cecilia and the Satellite – Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness – Mcmahon is a creative guy, and this wonderfully produced track shows how far his career has progressed. It’s a fantastic ode to his newborn daughter, in a song punctuated by great piano and beautiful vocals.

11. Beware the Dog – The Griswolds – Pure addiction, featuring tribal beats and cool guitar riffs, this debut from these high energy Aussie’s is an absolute blast to listen to. It’s a fun rocker that is guaranteed to get you moving, and just the tip of the iceberg from their Be Impressive album.

10. Deadbolt – Skaters – A talented NYC-based trio who remind me of the best parts of the eighties: The Clash, Jesus Mary Chain, etc…, but with a sound all of their own. This fast-paced rocker features clever guitar riffs, freight train drums and great vocals.

9. Cut To the Chase – Fort Lean – Chances are you haven’t heard this one yet. Do it soon, you’ll be glad you did. It’s more mellow than the typical Cretin favorite, but it’s a tremendously well-arranged song. Keyboard driven, but plenty of slinky guitar, and fantastic vocals, and a chorus that is catchy as hell.

8. High – Young Rising Sons – OK, this one is a bit of a guilty pleasure. A foot tapping, head nodding with wonderful vocals. It’s an optimistic rocker that is guaranteed to bounce around your brain for hours.

7. I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore – Rise Against – I actually heard one of my peers call this the band’s worst song ever. That’s asinine. The socially conscious punk rockers are growing, and this is a perfect example. Still a hearty dose of angry punk, combined with soaring guitar rock, and it works damn well.

6. Gotta Get Away – The Black Keys – If nothing else, this finally gave Alt-Rock radio a chance to take “Fever” out of their uber-tight rotation. But the song is special for so many other reasons, and they become abundantly clear within 15 seconds, a great guitar hook, clever keyboards from Danger Mouse, topped with the drums and vocals that make Auerbach and Kearney so special. This one is a breakneck rocker that’s a blast to listen to.

5. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers – Jack Antonoff is an ingenious music talent and proves in this song that Fun. was a lot more than a Nate Reuss project. This one is an optimistic declaration from an introspective guy, wrapped in a delicious, lush keyboard-driven rocker that will bring back pleasant big-eighties memories.

4. Same Damn Life – Seether – It’s a more melodic Seether, and that’s just fine with me. Shaun Morgan’s lyrics are deeply personal, and his vocals better than ever. Their guitars are more clean than previous efforts, but it works wonderfully. I think it’s the band’s best track ever, and that’s saying quite a lot.

3. Geronimo – Sheppard – My favorite new artist of 2014, and this track epitomizes why. Excellent boy/girl vocals and elegant harmonies, perched atop a diverse creative musical backdrop. Listen to this one on headphones, and it gets better with every listen. The music is flawless and absolutely addictive.

2. Noises – Mike Mains & The Branches – My favorite punk rock track of the year, and it’s from a band that is clearly not punk rock. Mains and his crew are fantastically talented, and boast a diverse sampling of music on their excellent Calm Down Everything Is Fine release. This one finds the band pushing their limits and it’s a lightning-paced rocker that’s a fitting showcase for Mains’ vocal prowess. If this stuff is the future of rock ‘n roll, everything is fine.

1. Figure It Out – Royal Blood – Two guys! Drums and a bass – that’s it, and the song delivers an amazingly complete and powerful musical experience. These guys have been together exactly one year, and they’ve provided a much needed jolt of optimism to rock fans worldwide. This track features two musicians already considered near the top of their craft. Drummer Ben Thatcher, is technically polished, adeptly switching from freight train drums to more tender interludes, and the things that Mike Kerr does with his bass are impossible. Oh, and the vocals, they don’t suck either. It’s just a great song, and a perfect choice for song of the year.

Thanks for checking out the list, and if you have a few extra minutes take a quick peek at our Top 25 Rock albums of the year – you’ll see a lot of familiar artists over there, too.

Rock On!

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page (upper left) for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂