Set times for The Big Ticket are out and it looks like we are all in store for a jam-packed day of excellent, diverse rock ‘n roll.
Jacksonville’s The Big Ticket has established itself as Florida’s premiere Alt-Rock music festival, and this year’s lineup boasts an impressive buffet of fantastic live acts who always deliver top-notch shows.
Sir Sly – Artist Profile
Suddenly, Southern California has become a hot bed for emerging rock bands hitting the RARA’s Farm radar. We’ve recently written about bands like The Neighbourhood, The Mowgli’s and Blondfire, all SoCal bands producing excellent new rock. The newest artist to add to the list? It’s Sir Sly, a talented three-piece out of Los Angeles.
Sir Sly are riding the recent success of their initial single release, “Gold,” the title track off of their new EP. Featuring the captivating vocals of lead singer Landon Jacobs, “Gold” is absolutely addictive and destined to be a defining song of 2014. Drummer Hayden Coplen and keyboardist Jason Suwito round out the trio, and fill the song with a deep dark musical bed that accompanies Jacobs’ vocals perfectly. The writing is polished and distinctive; what you would expect from a much more mature and established artist. Listening to this quick four-song offering, it was quickly apparent that their future is extremely bright.
I find myself comparing Sir Sly to both Coldplay and the aforementioned Neighbourhood. There are sonic similarities for sure, but these guys are a bit more synth-driven than the first, and might possibly have more of a pop hook to their tracks than the latter. “Found You Out” is a perfect example of this, and another melodious song with an edge; a song with the likelihood to be receiving copious amounts of airplay in the near future. “Ghost” is a bit more dark, but just as aurally appealing. Good stuff, and probably the one song most similar in feel to The Neighbourhood.
Over the next few months, you can catch Sir Sly opening for the very talented The 1975. Having recently caught the band with their charismatic frontman Matthew Healy, it seems the perfect match for this talented threesome who join the tour with a great performing reputation themselves. The tour kicks off in mid-April and brings the bands to Florida on the following dates:
5/19/2014: Jacksonville, FL – Free Bird Live
5/20/2014: Ft Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
5/21/2014: Orlando, FL – House of Blues
The Best Rock Albums of 2013
(Also, make sure you check out our Best Rock Songs of 2013)
Lots of strong music again this year across the rock music landscape, but truthfully, there were only a handful of superb albums from start to finish. I’m not sure that’s really a bad thing, as in today’s digital download world, an album is less important as the delivery mechanism for excellent music.
My list is a lot different than all of those at the big time websites. That’s because they’re smarter, and I have better taste in music. Check out the list and let us know what we missed; and if you’re new to RARA’s Farm, we are Rock And Roll Animals, and this is where we hang out, and we’d love to have you join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or right here in the Comments section.
Just like our list of the Best Songs of 2013, each album is linked to iTunes if you want to check it out or purchase it.
Here’s our Top two dozen:
Bonus Selection: Where the Kids Are – EP – Blondfire – Not technically an album, but every one of these four songs is superb. Hopefully we’ll see a full-length soon from this dynamic brother-sister combo who mix good old American rock with Brazilian influences. Best tracks: Waves, Where The Kids Are, Hide And Seek. (Read the RARA’s review here)
24. Damage – Jimmy Eat World – There’s something to be said for consistency. These four Arizona lads have been together for eight albums and twenty years. Their sound has softened and sweetened a bit, but it’s still good stuff. Best tracks: Lean, Book Of Love, I Will Steal You Back.
23. The 1975 – The 1975 – It’s not perfect, in fact, I feel the music is a little slicker and less raw than I’d prefer from these lads from Manchester, but there’s some creative artistry for sure from Matthew Healy and the band. Best Tracks: Chocolate, Sex, Girls.
22. Paramore – Paramore – The band’s first Farro-free effort, as brothers Zac and Josh left the band after their third album. The music revolves around Hayley Williams’ vocals, but it also offers a refreshingly rougher sound at times (as well as some fluffy stuff I typically skip over). Best tracks: Fast In My Car, Now, Anklebiters.
21. The Next Day – David Bowie – Bowie is back with his 24th studio album. It’s a nice offering, hearkening back to some of his earlier sounds. Pop rock songs, with meaningful lyrics about our world today. Best tracks: Day, You Will Set The World On Fire, The Next Day.
20. By the Lamplight – Larry and His Flask – Hillbilly, Cajun punk at its finest. These guys have a unique raucous sound and are an absolute blast, a different kind of blast for sure, but that’s what we love about rock ‘n roll. Best tracks: Pandemonium, Home of The Slave, Out Of Print. (Read the RARA’s review here)
19. The Bones of What You Believe – CHVRCHES – Just love Lauren Mayberry’s vulnerable vocals, but there’s a lot more to this trio from Scotland. One of the best new Alt-Rocks on the scene this year. Best tracks: The Mother We Share, Lies, Under The Tide.
18. Revolution – Jupiter Falls – The album highlights the band’s diversity; at times they sound like 70′s or 80′s classic rock, current era Alt-hardcore, or turn of the century metal. Fantastic guitar work, memorable licks and powerful vocals throughout. Best tracks: Forgiven, To The Point, Story Of A Liar. (Read the RARA’s review here)
17. AM – Arctic Monkeys – This, their fifth album is a showcase for guitarist Jamie Cook and continues to show their evolution as a band. Not their best effort ever, but still excellent Alr-rock with a snarl. Best tracks: Do I Wanna Know? R U Mine? Mad Sounds.
16. Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies – Volbeat – Heavy metal with a rockability twist from these Danish rockers. Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano makes a great first impression for this band that is rocketing up the heavy metal scene. Best tracks: My Body (Young The Giant cover), Lola Montez, Pearl Heart
15. Reflektor – Arcade Fire – Without a doubt, my most anticipated release of the year. It’s a bit pretentios, and not as good as their previous offerings, but there’s plenty to like on this one as the Montreal rockers continue to push their limits. Best tracks: Normal Person, Flashbulb Eyes, Afterlife.
14. Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold – One of America’s best metal bands continues to evolve. A bit more commercial than their earlier stuff, but they don’t sacrifice any of their core values. Best tracks: Acid Rain, Hail To The King, This Means War.
13. Night Visions – Imagine Dragons – This is actually a late 2012 release, but we didn’t listen until this year when it became the most successful new Alt-rock offering in years. Best tracks: Hear Me, It’s Time, Demons.
And, our Top Dozen:
12. Signed and Sealed in Blood – Dropkick Murphys – These blue collar Irish punk rockers continue to defy expectations. In this, their seventeenth year, they release their most main stream offering. A few big hits on a very deep album. Best tracks: : The Boys Are Back, Rose Tattoo, Burn.
11. The Sticks – Mother Mother – From the stark opening notes of the ethereal “The Omen,” this album grabs your attention and locks you in for a forty-eight minute journey through genre-defining rock ‘n roll. Best tracks: Bit By Bit, Let’s Fall In Love, Dread In My Heart. (Read the RARA’s review here)
10. Shangri La – Jake Bugg – Bugg’s distinctive voice is not for everyone, but I love it, and the way the 19 year-old churns out poppy punk-infused ditties. Best tracks: Slumville Sunrise, What Doesn’t Kill You, Me An d You.
9. Bigfoot – Cayucas – The album, the brainchild of singer Zach Yudin, has an absolutely distinctive Alt-Rock sound highlighted by a cool sixties surf vibe that dominates their intriguing ethereal debut. Best tracks: Cayucos, High School Lover, Will The Thrill. (Read the RARA’s review here)
8. Vessel – twenty one pilots – This duo has a sound all to themselves. A little ukulele, killer drums, sweet keyboards and Tyler Joseph’s infectiously unique vocals power the band’s first major label release. Best tracks: Migraine, House of Gold, Holding On To You.
7. Twistification – The Last Royals – It’s an absolute blast to listen to as this duo just churns out fun, catchy rock tunes. Still cannot fathom why this one did not explode on the music scene, with a half-dozen potential hits on the album. Best tracks: Friday Night, All Over Again, I Hate California. (Read the RARA’s review here)
6. I Love You. – The Neighbourhood – No album this year starts off as strongly as this one. The first three songs are all stellar tracks. The rest of the album is pretty damn good. A slinky dirty and absolutely addictive debut. Best tracks: Sweater Weather, Female Robbery, Afraid.
5. Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend – In general, it’s a bit more stripped down than their excellent first two albums, but there are exceptions, like the rollicking Diane Young that make every song a sonic surprise. Best tracks: Diane Young, Unbelievers, Everlasting Arms.
4. Waiting For the Dawn – The Mowgli’s – This album is a masterpiece. It’s a cool summer groove just overflowing with sweet rock ‘n roll gems and in a refreshing change from much of the music dominating today’s airwaves, The Mowgli’s offer up a host of tracks about love, hope and unity. Best tracks: San Francisco, Time, Emily. (Read the RARA’s review here)
3. Melophobia – Cage the Elephant – The term melophobia means fear of music, but there’s nothing to fear on this release. On this, their third album, Cage The Elephant continues to evolve as one of this country’s premier rock bands. Their 2011 release, Thank You, Happy Birthday was our album of the year, this one was close… Best tracks: Spiderhead, Telescope, It’s Just Forever. (Read the RARA’s review here)
2. Blunderstone Rookery – Stephen Kellogg – I used to be annoyed reading through these lists and finding an author who spotlighted a little known artist near the top of their list. Now, I’ve done it myself, but this album from an uber-talented singer-songwriter is absolutely deserving of its lofty ranking. The collection of songs is as creative as it is supremely enjoyable. It’s a rambling tour through Kellogg’s memories and a great listen. Best tracks: Thanksgiving, Good Ol’ Days, Forgive You Forgive Me. (Read the RARA’s review here)
1. Tape Deck Heart – Frank Turner – This was almost pre-ordained. Turner is a former punk front man turned rock ‘n roll troubadour. He’s a talented vocalist, guitar player and maybe the best lyricist in the business. Tape Deck Heart is a rare marriage of stirring song-writing and creative passionate music. Turner is a talented poet, sincere story-teller and tremendous musician and this album is the first time he’s put it all together. Fabulously diverse stuff that demands attention. Best tracks: Four Simple Words, Recovery, Good & Gone, Oh Brother, and many more… (Read the RARA’s review here)
So, there you have it, the best rock albums of 2013. Let us know what you think. What did we nail? Where did we fail? And, make sure you check out our Best Songs of 2013, too.
The Best Rock Songs of 2013
(Make sure you check out our Top Rock Albums 0f 2013)
2013 was a year packed with interesting entertaining rock offerings. Most commercial radio seems fixated on synth-driven, watered-down, safe music for the masses. At times, I’m a sucker for that stuff, too, but far more often, I enjoy my rock with a little guitar, as you’ll see below…
Click on the sing titles to check out and grab your own copy of each song.
Bonus Track: Golden, Holly Maher – Our own BrokenBirdie sums this one up perfectly: This Nashville native “really knows how to mix sassy and sweet perfectly…” Maher is not an easy fit into our rock ‘n roll genre, but she’s a blossoming singer songwriter with lots of potential.
24. What Doesn’t Kill You – Jake Bugg – Garage rock 21st Century style. This 19 year-old has a great sound, sometimes punk, sometimes folksy, and this is the best offering from his second album.
23. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys – Really like the guitar intro on this one, and just love the focus on Alex Turner’s vocals, which are his best yet.
22. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities – An example of the synth and drum machine recipe that dominates today’s airwaves, but this one is creative and catchy.
21. Harlem – New Politics – A bit of a guilty pleasure. Bubble gum rock, but it’s got infectious lyrics and a memorable guitar riff that you’ll never get out of your head.
20. High School Lover – Cayucas – This one has a slick late 60′s surf rock feel which fits this band from Santa Monica perfectly.
19. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend – It’s a great showcase for Ezra Koenig’s vocals, and unbelievably, this is actually the band’s highest charting song of their career.
18. 17 Crimes – AFI – This one is carried by Adam Carson’s drums. It’s got a great singalong chorus about a nasty topic. I should have moved this up to #17 just for the symmetry.
17. Recovery – Frank Turner – It’s fun catchy song with deep meaningful lyrics from one of today’s best rock ‘n roll poets from Tape Deck Heart, one of this year’s best albums.
16. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood – The first single off of their debut album I Love You and it was a breath of fresh air on the Alt-Rock scene. The first of two tracks from the West Coast band on the list.
15. Wake Me Up – Avicii – My wife rarely turns me on to excellent new rock, but this is an exception. This one makes a great driving song, but it’s excellent in any environment and crosses so many musical genres. Love the music bed…
14. Drive Me Home – The Reason – A big rocker from a veteran Canadian band who sound like Kings of Leon, just with a little more talent and a lot more passion and less pretentiousness.
13. Deal with the Devil – Pop Evil – Reminds me a bit of Alice and Chains which is always a good thing. Love Leigh Kakaty’s vocals, but the music from his band mates is even better.
12. Diane Young – Vampire Weekend – Bit of a different feel, where Koenig’s vocals highlight early; and then the song masterfully devolves into a clever mash-up of sounds eerily reminiscent of the late 80’s dance remixes from Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
11. Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold – Best hard rock band around, and this song is a prime example why. Searing guitar solos, hard driving rhythm and killer vocals.
10. Cut Me Some Slack – “Nirvana” featuring Paul McCartney – OK, I named the band… It’s Dave Grohl’s fantastic contribution to Sound City. Paul bringing back haunting “Helter Skelterish” vocals accompanied by the living members of Nirvana, and it works amazingly well.
10. Waves – Blondfire – It’s a great summer vibe, and a tune that highlights the beautiful vocals of Erica Driscoll and an absolutely mesmerizing groove.
9. Bit By Bit – Mother Mother – One of today’s most underrated bands, and this provocative quirky song is the best one from their fantastic album The Sticks. It’s aggressive Alt-rock with a unique blend of boy-girl vocals.
8. Lola Montez – Volbeat – Killer guitar work from new addition Rob Caggiano (Anthrax) and an excellent spotlight for Michael Poulsen’s powerful and distinctive vocals.
7. The Boys Are Back – Dropkick Murphys – Bagpipes and a rousing chorus power this rocker. Just love Ken Casey’s beautifully ragged and harsh vocals. It’s Irish rock at its best, well almost…
6. House of Gold – Twenty One Pilots – Ukelele driven ode to Tyler Glenn’s mother featuring his quirky but perfectly fitting vocals as this duo continues their ascension into rock stardom.
5. Rose Tattoo – Dropkick Murphys – This is Irish rock at its best. Tender mandolin opening with more of a classic Irish story teller vibe and a memorable chorus. They also released a version with Springsteen on vocals as a Boston Marathon victims’ fundraiser which is just as good as the original.
4. Thanksgiving – Stephen Kellogg – It’s a masterpiece, a ten minute masterpiece, but worth every second of it. Poignant, meaningful lyrics, passionate vocals and superb music. This one should become the definitive Thanksgiving song.
3. San Francisco – The Mowgli’s – A positive, happy, upbeat song, and it’s just fun as hell. This octet delivers a wall of sound, and the music is simply addictive. A great song made better by the great vibe.
2. Afraid – The Neighbourhood – Jesse Rutherford’s vulnerable vocals and deeply introspective lyrics are fantastic, and the song is absolutely great. It is the highlight track from the band’s excellent debut I Love You.
1. Four Simple Words – Frank Turner – This one starts with soft piano accompanied by acoustic guitar, then evolves into a raucous punk rock throwdown. It’s everything wonderful about rock ‘n roll wrapped up into one song. Oh, and the lyrics are perfect, too.
There you have it. My list… What did I miss? Let me know in he comments below, and make sure you Follow Us on Twitter and Like our Facebook for rock music updates all year long.
Coastline Festival – Tampa Event Review
(Before we get started, just a reminder that we have a slew of photos from the festival itself and all of the bands we reviewed coming this week. Check our Facebook and Twitter for updates. Thanks for visiting…)
- Eleven of today’s hottest Indie/Alternative rock acts
- An eclectic collection of food truck cuisine
- The best selection of craft beers we’ve ever seen at a festival
- Great Florida November weather
- An excellent, well-laid out venue
- A superbly well-orchestrated event
Sounds like a perfect recipe for success, and Coastline Festival’s Musiculinary Experience was prepared perfectly.
We made the trip from Orlando hoping to catch a few of Alternative rock’s future stalwarts as they continue their journey to long-term success. We got that for sure, as you’ll see in our band capsules below, but we also experienced a vibrant, positive festival atmosphere.
The venue was laid out nicely with the smaller Gulf Stage just outside of the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheater and the Atlantic Stage inside the venue. The grounds were festively decorated, with inflatable art, and colorful displays dotting the landscape.
Travelling between the stages, the attendees passed through a Food Truck caravan and a Craft Beer Cove that featured a dozen excellent choices, and in a nice touch, offered $3 samples of each offering. The lines at the food trucks were long as the day passed. Talenti gelati had a fun area set-up with super-sized lawn games and free sample of their delicious treats. On the opposite end of the venue was a nice craft area and the autograph tent, which hosted a constant flow of performers and happy fans.
Despite all of the other activities, this festival’s success hinged on the quality of the music artists, and the eight acts we caught were all excellent. Due to a long-standing commitment at another event, we ended up missing the final three bands, but the eight who opened show were well worth the price of admission. Our mini-reviews follow, in the order that the bands performed.
Zulu Wave – This local quartet did a great job representing the Tampa rock scene, offering an energetic set and their unique blend of rock that I would best describe as Tribal-rock. It sounds like an unusual description, but the music was good, and the band clearly has potential.
Blondfire – I just loved their recent EP release Where The Kids Are (see the review here) and was interested to see how this young band would perform on a big stage. Led by brother-sister duo Bruce and Erica Driscoll, the band offered up a fun set. Lead singer, Erica donned a guitar for the cool grove of “Waves” and shined during an excellent version of Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Dreams,” when she nailed the vocals that Stevie Nicks made famous. The band offered two excellent new cuts, “Life of the Party” and “Top of the World,” before closing with their hit single “Where The Kids Are” that had the crowd clapping and singing along.
St. Lucia – I didn’t know much about this Brooklyn band, but liked what I heard. The band is the brainchild of South African born Jean Philip Grobler and they offered up a tropical-infused dance rock that made you want to move. The quintet featured two drum kits and three keyboards, allowing for some fun mixes. Grobler’s vocals were excellent and he put on a bit of a theatrical show, at one time spinning with his guitar before dropping to the stage. As they wrapped the set, he beckoned the crowd, “Let’s do something crazy cause the weekends on its way; okay, let’s jump!” and the party was on.
The Mowgli’s – With a pounding drum beat, this colorful octet stormed onto the stage and immediately got their celebration started with the title track of their new album, Waiting For the Dawn. It’s one of our candidates for album of the year, so I knew what to expect musically, but I was blown away by their energetic stage show. They offered up tremendous harmonies in a fantastic version of “The Great Divide” and a raucous version of “Emily.” Their music is contagious and their positive energy captivating. Guitarist Michael Vincze shared, “We came all this way to tell your beautiful souls to believe in yourself and anything is possible. Do whatever makes you happy in life! Now put your hands up, take a deep breath and scream.” Cleansing, therapeutic and just pretty damn fun. They closed in the middle of the crowd, with a smashing version of their hit “San Francisco” which may have been the song of the festival.
Surfer Blood – As singer John Paul Pitts shared, “We’re from Florida and glad to be back.” The band features smooth Indie rock with a definite surfing subtext to their sound. The sound works well, and offers the perfect backdrop for Pitts’ versatile vocals, at times hitting the high notes and just as easily offering a snarling growl. As they wrapped up their set, we saw our first act of spontaneous crowd surfing.
Fitz And The Tantrums -Another band who stormed onto the stage and then kept the energy up for their entire set. Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs share the vocals and demand constant attention on the stage. Both singers sounded great and were non-stop action as they bounced across the stage. Scaggs, careened around the stage while constantly banging her tambourine and chatted with the Tampa crowd after every song. The pit was a surging amoeba answering every dictum from the band, hands high above their heads, clapping throughout. Highlights of their set included an extended version of The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams that caused a spontaneous dance party on the lawn, and a smoking version of “Out of My League.”
The Neighbourhood – This California-based quintet might be the hottest band we saw at Coastline Festival. They are riding a huge crest of popularity that has found their music all over Alternative rock radio as well as on the small screen. Tattoo-covered lead singer Jesse Rutherford drips with charisma. He was a whirling dervish all over the stage and adorned in his “D.A.R.E.” shirt interacted with the crowd throughout the set. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand, singing along at his commend. Despite some early sound troubles, the entire band, adorned in their omnipresent black and white sounded superb, as they delivered crowd-pleasing versions of “Sweater Weather,” “Afraid” and “Female Robbery,” while the crowd surfed, danced and sang.
Matt & Kim – Okay, I’ll admit it, I wasn’t expecting much from this duo out of New York as I mistakenly thought of their stuff as a bit soft. Oh my, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino ooze energy and excitement. Matt plays keyboards, and Kim beats the drums, and the real-life couple accompany each other on-stage perfectly. Schifino was a mad-woman, climbing all over her drum kit, smacking her ass and prowling the stage in general. Johnson was just as energetic and sounded great all night. They interacted with the crowd throughout, sharing stories and bonding with the crowd. We learned about their sex life, the fact that this is the band’s penultimate stop on this tour, and their appreciation for the great Florida weather. Johnson offered, “This is the finale and I wanna remember this shit when it’s cold in New York. Let’s heat it up,” and for the next forty minutes, they raised the party to a fever pitch.
It was a great way for us to wrap up a killer day at the inaugural Coastline Festival. Hopefully this event that so nicely featured the best of today’s alternative rock music scene becomes an annual tradition for Florida’s rock and roll community.
Coastline Festival Photos
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Coastline Festival Impresses in Tampa
Just waking after a great day of rock music at yesterday’s Coastline Festival in Tampa. We’ll have a ton of photos and our full festival coverage published in the next day or so, but for now wanted to share our quick impressions, in case you are thinking about going to Day 2 in West Palm Beach today.
If you are on the fence; leap off; this is definitely a show worth seeing and the price is affordable, as well.
The event features a great broad cross-section of the acts that are defining the current Alt-rock landscape. Passion Pit, Two Door Cinema Club and Matt and Kim are already headliner-worthy at mid-size venues, and in this event, you get all three. The bands are a great cross-section of rock. Joy Formidable and The Neighborhood on the heavier side, and Fitz and The Tantrums and St. Lucia more dance-rock.
The early bands were fantastic. Jesse Rutherford of The Neighbourhood just oozes charisma. Blondfire, St. Luica and The Mowgli’s were all excellent bands on the rise.; and the energy from Matt and Kim (who close their tour in West Palm) was incredible and needs to be witnessed.
I was amazed at how many acts featured talented women in their line-up: Joy Formidable, Fitz and the Tantrums, Matt and Kim, The Mowgli’s, Blondfire and St. Lucia. Refreshing for sure
There was just a cool. positive vibe with the entire event. The staff was great, the fans were relaxed, the vendors cool, it was a great setting for the Festival, but the bands’ positivity was great throughout the day. We’ll share a few examples during the full review, but to start, The Mowgli’s may have been the most positive band I’ve ever seen, and they put on a killer show.
You can get in the doors for $30. There are 11 bands and ten hours of excellent rock music. You do the math – this one is a can’t miss show. Now, the beer and merch prices – that’s a different story…
Food truck selections were excellent, and there were long-lines once late afternoon hit. Nice selection of vendors, but they weren’t very busy – probably a result of the killer line-up. Talenti Gelato – amazing! The Beer Cove offered the best beer selections that I’ve ever seen at a festival, and considering the prices for Bud and Miller Lite, the craft beers were priced right.
That’s it for now – if you are anywhere near West Palm, this is the place to be on Sunday. Do not miss this event! I made the two hour journey to Tampa for the show and have no regrets…
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