Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Young Statues

Posted in Recommendations, Uncategorized with tags , on December 2, 2011 by stevenreedkelly

I saw Young Statues a couple months ago during the CMJ festival in New York.  Tyler from A Great Big Pile of Leaves had put me onto them and so I was really looking forward to watching them play.  They played at a spot in Greenpoint called Europa with a bunch of other Run For Cover artists.  Although they played to a sparse crowd at like 2:00 in the afternoon, I was seriously impressed with their set.

I picked up the vinyl record of their self-titled album this week and I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop.  Young Statues seems like a bit of a strange signing for a label like Run For Cover which seems to cater to an angstier crowd – but their appeal is universal.  They band writes poppy toe-tappers at home in any music lover’s collection (unless you’re solely into grindcore or gangster rap… then this just might not fly).

You can scope my favorite track, “Pretty Girls Make Raves” below – and you can buy the album here!

The plight of the American punk rock band (part 1)

Posted in Bands that died, Rants with tags on August 11, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

Crime In Stereo broke up this week, just months after releasing one of the most captivating albums of their career – and one of the best of 2010.

Rumors are swirling around whether or not singer Kristian Hallbert’s recent jaw infection had anything to do with the breakup – it’s also entirely possible that the band wasn’t making enough through album sales and touring to sustain themselves financially.  It’s a familiar story, but unfortunate nonetheless.

Crime In Stereo called it quits this week.

For a band, this breaking point seems inevitable.  There simply comes a point in time where, if you can only tread water, it doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense to keep plugging away.  With rock-bottom album sales and limited incentives for consumers to purchase a digital album as opposed to stealing it, how the hell is a band supposed to put gas in the tank to tour the country?  After all, punk rock is primarily a form of performance art.  Sure, there are indie-darling bands like Les Savvy Fav and Broken Bells that might only need to play festival lineups before returning to the studio to record another album – similar to a hip hop artist.  But for punk rock bands, the culture has always been centered around the basement shows and the VFW halls.

A common misconception is that – if albums aren’t flying off the shelves – bands can still sell enough merch to fill their tanks and their bellies.  Truth be told, I don’t know how much stock I put in that argument.  If you’re one of four bands on a show, you need to sell at least six or seven $10 t-shirts to fill your van’s tank and probably another five or six to feed yourselves for the day.  Now consider that every other band on the bill has to do roughly the same thing.  That’s close to 40 or 50 shirts a night.  On some nights, you might not even pack 50 people into a show.  Also consider that on bigger tours, more popular bands will raise the price of their merch and force opening bands to raise the minimum for their merch as well – most likely causing a drop in merch sales for the smaller bands.  Personally, I’m always disappointed when a band t-shirt is more than $15.  I don’t care if you chose to print your band name on the nicest American Apparel garments available – $18 -20 is too much.

Another thing to consider is that some venues actually take a cut of the merch sales from each band at the end of a show, which eats away at the amount of money bands are left with.  At the end of the day, there might just be too many hands in the coffers and not enough revenue to split.

Touring bands are often left with the sad realization that there just isn’t enough money to go around.  Harder still is the ability to build a rabid following from your desk chair.  Caught between a rock and a hard place is not exactly the “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll” lifestyle that budding musicians dream of.  Still – perhaps sleeping on floors, living off dollar-menus and touring the country’s finest DIY venues are all just rights of passage for artists who want to be remembered and revered for dedication to their craft.  When obligation creeps up and it’s time to get a real job – maybe it’s time to pass the torch on to the next young, starry-eyed punks.

As for Crime In Stereo, you guys will be missed.

A little maintenance.

Posted in Rants with tags , , , on June 9, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

In an effort to make this site look a little less amateur, I’ve been making some changes lately!

Step 1.  I created a site-specific email account.  If you know a band or you’re in a band (or you pedal some sweet guitar goods) that might deserve a little more recognition – feel free to email me at dailyriffage@gmail.com.  I love hearing new music and seeing new gear.

Step 2.  I created a twitter account for the site.  You can follow me here.  Seriously… it would help me look a lot less pathetic if I had more than 5 followers.

Step 3.  This one’s my favorite.  You may notice that the header banner looks quite a bit snazzier – my wonderful and talented friend, Amanda Jane Kloos, was kind enough to whip up a professional looking header for me!  That axe is my old Gibson LG-1 – even though most of you know I’m a Fender guy.

Thanks Amanda!  You are an awesome graphic designer!  And a great friend!

Unleash the Avalanche.

Posted in Rants with tags , , , on June 4, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

The first time I saw the Movielife, it was a game changer for me.  It was in State College, PA at the now-defunct Crowbar.  Fairweather opened that show – and then Brand New played.  After Brand New, at least 1/4 of the crowd left the venue, leaving a much roomier area in front of the stage for my friends and I… thank you, frat boys.

The Movielife took the stage and this lanky, tattooed guy is scrambling all over the place, leaning out into the rowdy pit and exaggerating every lyric with his entire body.  I walked out of that show and realized that it was one of the best live performances that I had ever witnessed.  I mean… I had never seen anyone command an audience like that (and that includes the time I saw a brittle Mick Jagger shimmy his way through a two hour set during their Bridges to Babylon tour – thanks dad!).   I caught the same show in Pittsburgh later that week just for good measure.

When people ask me “What’s the best show you’ve ever seen?” – Those two are always in consideration for the top spot.

Maybe half a year later, the Movielife broke up.  It was the fall of my sophomore year at Penn State and I remember being terribly affected by that news- mostly because I wouldn’t have a chance to see them play again… and because 40 Hour Train Back to Penn was perfect blend of the bands earlier hardcore influenced sound and their poppier Has a Gambling Problem EP… and because I was only 19 and I was hot-headed and fairly dramatic.

It was like the band finally stumbled upon this incredible sonic recipe and then they decided to call it a day.

Of course, guitarist Brandon Reilly started Nightmare of You and singer Vinnie Caruana started I Am the Avalanche and they both put out debut releases that had sparkles of real brilliance.  Nightmare of You sounded like the second coming of the Smiths (complete with arrogance and macabre) and I Am the Avalanche released a self-titled album full of these heaving, hard-hitting songs that could’ve been recorded by Vinnie’s previous band.  And yet there was this undeniable growth in the I Am the Avalanche release.  “Clean Up” and “Always” end with these cathartic vocals that the Movielife’s songs couldn’t hold a candle to.  You got the feeling that everything was going to be okay… and this was only the beginning.

But here we are, almost 5 years after the release of IATA’s debut album, and no release date has been set for a sophomore effort.  This probably has more to do with the downfall of Drive Thru Records (who holds the band under contract, even after curiously lying dormant for the past 2 years) than any casual fan realizes.  That’s right.  A record label is actually holding a band back from releasing a record.  Crazy.  Bands like Steel Train have been able to buy their way out of their contracts while the Reines siblings maintain a death-grip-like hold on I Am the Avalanche.  It’s not fair.

Look, as far as I can tell, people start record labels for the same reason I started blogging – because they love music (and it’s the hip thing to do).  I understand that at the end of the day, there’s a business to the whole thing, believe me.  But holding a band back from releasing new music for 5 fucking years says an awful lot about how far gone the personnel behind this label must be.  Bands NEED new albums so their fans have new material to consume and a reason to buy tickets to your shows.  (Seems pretty obvious unless you’re a greedy, penniless record label).

The way I see it, Drive Thru isn’t ponying up the cash for IATA to record something new – so they should cut the ties and wish them well.  They should do it because Vinnie Caruana is an influential voice in today’s punk rock scene – and I’m sick of hearing it primarily on guest spots.  They should do it because I Am the Avalanche is still a band… and the members of that band need to support themselves – preferably through making music and touring.  And lastly, Drive Thru Records should release the band from their contract because it would be the best thing the record label has done for fans of punk music in a long time.  (Secret Secret Dino Club?  Are you kidding me?)

As a reader, here’s what you can do to support the band while they’re in this difficult legal position…

Follow IATA on twitter.
Go see IATA shows and Vinnie Caruana acoustic shows.
Buy some freakin’ t-shirts.

Listen to this kick-ass demo that leaked last year:

**Update: I set up a new twitter account for the blog. Follow @DailyRiffage**

The London Souls

Posted in Uncategorized on May 18, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

This week you need to check out The London Souls.

My friend Justine “the Anglophile” Henderson turned me onto this band after she saw them at a party hosted in Damon Dash’s basement.

There’s something magical about a 3 piece band.  It means everyone in the band is working overtime to fill out the sound.  Not everyone can pull it off!  Bands like the Police and the Exit come to mind – relying on a the bass and drums to really form a backbone for a guitarist to drape colors over.  You can lump The London Souls in that same category.

I’ve only heard a few tracks, but with this kind of talent, they’re bound to be the next darling of the NYC music scene.

Summer in April?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

It’s going to hit like 88 degrees tomorrow.  It’s the first week of April.  WTF.

Summer in the city makes me think of this…

For the dads and future dads…

Posted in Rants with tags , , on March 23, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

I’ve been buying some vinyl records lately, which is something many of my friends would be more adept to discuss (my collection is small at the moment).  My roommate and I got to discussing the fact that music has become so easily consumable and disposable at the same time.  Mp3 files are just too likely to be lost or discarded though.  In fifteen years, how are my kids going to stumble upon my music collection like I stumbled upon my dad’s?

I don’t know if everyone can relate, but I remember finding all my parent’s old records and not-so-carefully rifling through the gatefolds of familiar faces like Madonna and Michael Jackson (they had Off the Wall, maybe my favorite MJ album).  The Beach Boys “Endless Summer” was like 4 LPs of songs I already knew, which was awesome.  I used to turn up the RPMs so everyone sounded like the Chipmunks – much to my amusement.

As I got older and started learning more about music myself, I dug deeper into my dad’s old records.  Hearing the outro bass line kick in on “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac was like the first time I ever felt cool to be a bassist.  I realized that this drab painting of an old man with a bundle of sticks on his back was actually Led Zeppelin IV, which contained “Stairway to Heaven” – an important song in almost every aspiring guitarist’s life.  And then there was Alchemy, the live Dire Straits album.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the live version of “Sultans of Swing” changed my life.  It’s an eleven minute version at almost double-time the original.  There’s gotta be like 3 extra guitar solos.  Listening to Mark Knopfler made me feel hopeless and awestruck – after the track was over, I picked up the needle and played it again and again.  Trying to play bass along with the track was a chore – I still can’t even fathom most of the guitar lines!  As a little kid, I made a promise that SOMEDAY I’d be able to play along to this song, note for note.  I’m not even remotely close to my goal – it’ll almost assuredly be one of those things that haunts me in old age.

And I owe the discovery of all this music to a bunch of physical records on a shelf in my house.  I’ll be damned if my kids are going to have to sift through my iPod or iPad to see what music I was listening to.  I want them to have that same experience of digging into a stack of music, looking at all the artwork on the covers and tossing records all over the floor.  I want my kids to learn that same appreciation for music… and their dad.

I’m going to be pretty disappointed when my offspring opt for KidzBop Volume 65.