State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Category - Penn State News Reviews and Interviews

TAWA Releases New Track “Ours to Own” ft Zach Kramer

Local electronic musician, Keegan Tawa, has quite literally just released his last original piece as a Penn State student. The senior teamed up with Mute Cities drummer Zach Kramer and lyricist Myles Billard once again to end on a brilliant note.  Listen closely to the lyrics, and you’ll hear allusive references to past songs.  We’ll miss you, Tawa! Keep making beautiful music!


Lenina Crowne EP Release Party

Lenina Crowne has been busy off creating its secret weapon this semester, and after a lot of hard work and a lot of assistance from Kickstarter funding, the band is finally ready to unleash it.

Come on out to Chronic Town this Friday, April 24th to celebrate the release of Lenina Crowne’s long-awaited EP, Try a Gramme! An $8 charge at the door gets you in for the good times and sets you up with a digital download key code.  If you’re feeling extra supportive, bring extra cash to get your hands on some fresh, funky Lenina Crowne merch.



Arts Crawl 2015 Wrap Up

This past Friday local bands, which included many Penn State students, gathered together to put on performances at the north campus art buildings. Student Organizing the Multiple Arts (SOMA) has made Arts Crawl an annual event. Arts Crawl included 30 performances throughout the day, along with an art showcase from different art clubs and organizations here on campus. Here’s a wrap up of some of the fantastic student performances that went on:

Tapestries is a two piece acoustic folk act consisting of Penn Staters Olivia Price and Rashmit Arora. They were one of many acts to perform in the Acoustic Room of the Palmer Art Museum. For the event they were also accompanied by percussionist Zach Kramer. Each has been playing their own music for awhile now, and have now breached into writing music together.


Mute Cities, the Battle of the Bands winner and upcoming “Movin’ On” opener, is a indie-pop band that started putting out music last spring. They have recently released their “Strong Work” EP, and if you have not heard it yet, it’s definitely worth listening too!




Coahoma Soul is an American blues and folk band out of Philadelphia, and even includes Penn State student Tim Mayo. Make sure to look out for the upcoming album, it’s something you won’t want to miss!




Keegan Tawa, is an EDM producer and has been putting out electronic music for quite some time now. His set lasted two hours and kept the crowd entertained and upbeat. His music can often be heard at local clubs in the area. Some of his songs feature vocalists, others feature his jazz saxophone, and some even feature both. He even recently released an EP entitled “Sunlight” as well!16591084364_8f8fc211b1_o

Songwriters Club Presents: An Evening with Shane Henderson & Mark Rose


Much like the Koffee with Koji event Songwriters Club held last semester, this event is sure to be a wonderful, intimate night of cafe-style food/beverages, music, and great conversation.  The night will be headlined by solo artists Shane Henderson (of Valencia) and Mark Rose (of Spitalfield,) with student openers Nicole Schaefer and Jake Baker.  Henderson and Rose will be performing original acoustic music amidst an industry workshop for aspiring musicians.

Mark Rose, former frontman of the indie/emo rock band Spitalfield, is the co-founder of an original music commissioning website, called Downwrite.  Topping the successes of his previous band may be difficult (Spitalfield toured for 10 years alongside  major acts, such as Fall Out Boy and Minus the Bear) However, he is well on his way to becoming a highly regarded singer-songwriter, with Alternative Press Magazine calling him a musician with the “style and emotion of a John Hughes movie soundtrack.” (Trust me, that’s a compliment.)

Shane Henderson is the former lead singer of rock/pop-punk band Valencia.  Hits like “The Spaces in Between” and “Where Did You Go” allowed the band to tour alongside Blink 182, Billy Talent, We the Kings, and the Cab.  Henderson continues to excel in his solo career, with AbsolutePunk lauding his first EP for “the quality guitar work, the melodic intricacies, the crisp percussion, and all the other details that make Control an essential listen.”

These two have a lot to say about their experiences with the music industry, so make sure to mark this on your calendars. All are welcome!


Carrie Brandon – In the Fall EP [Review]

I’m standing in the kitchen making myself a cup of coffee when suddenly I start humming a familiar tune.  I’m trying to figure out where it’s from. The words start arriving to my lips, and I sing:

Have I lost you forever
Cause I need you in my life
Or were you ever really there at all?
Were you ever really there at all?

Who is this by? Where have I heard this? That’s when it hits me: Carrie Brandon.


Two months ago, the Penn State student released a 4-song follow-up to her 2011 debut album.  The nearly 4-year “hiatus” might have had some people wondering what exactly Brandon’s been up to.  After listening to the depth and tenderness wrapped in each note of “In the Fall,” I can safely say that this EP was well-worth the wait.  In between studio recordings, Carrie has so clearly been consumed with feeling, living, regretting, and experiencing every sweet love and bitter heartbreak that characterizes the college experience.Carrie Brandon

The opening track, “How Far Apart,” is a fully-charged depiction of the changing tides of love.  Brandon relates the highs and lows of relationships to seasonal elements and captures the essence of the vulnerabilities that so often complement allowing someone into your heart. You can clearly hear bits and pieces of Carrie’s main musical influences – primarily, Joni Mitchell’s folk vocal riffs and Ingrid Michaelson’s pop-theatrics.  I would never wish heartbreak upon anyone, but if it results in a catchy song like this, it may just be worth it.

The piano featured in “Separated by the Sea” (lyrics referenced above,) immediately caught my attention and had me hooked from the beginning. It reminds me a lot of Sara Bareilles’ stripped-down piano ballads, which never fail to send me into an entrancement.  Carrie sings of the pains of loving someone so intently but being separated by time, place, and circumstance.  There’s an innocence to her tone; a wonderment of what could have been between lyrical lines.

The third song, “What You Do To Me” is a stark contrast to the somberness of the previous.  Horns greet you at the start, along with a very danceable syncopated piano.  We now hear Carrie falling in love. We hear her happiness; her optimism; and the promise of a new beginning.  Coming up with catchy songs can be extremely difficult, but it’s something this singer-songwriter has mastered since her start.
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The EP closes with “Mister In Misery,” an ode to those struggling with the vicious cycle of addiction.  She offers sincere words of love and support and deplores, “Don’t fall into darkness, wrapped in your fear/When you know you’ll always find us here.”  It’s another raw song, primarily featuring the beauty of her voice and the minimalism of her finger-picked guitar. I’m not sure if this song was written for a specific person, but the intimacy of it suggests it was carefully designed for a loved one. Regardless, its message can easily transfer to anyone in need.

“In the Fall” is a wonderful sign of good things to come from Carrie Brandon.  The California-native brings an interesting take to the world of music, and certainly to Penn State music.  She’s a modern representation of some of the most respected female musicians of the 60s and 70s (e.g. Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt.) Her continual evidenced growth as an artist, characterized by the self-inflicted challenges of always trying out new things in the song-writing and production processes, makes her one of Penn State’s most seasoned musicians.  Now a senior and welcoming  the next chapter in life, we can only hope that Brandon continues to craft her skill along the way.

“In the Fall” is currently available for purchase through iTunes and for streaming through Spotify.