State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Category - Music

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!


This Week In Music [April 14]

//Featured Singles\\

Best Coast – Feeling Ok

Erik Hassle – No Words


//Album Releases\\

Tyler, The Creator – Cherry Bomb

Mt. Wolf – Red [EP]

Calexico – Edge of the Sun

Villagers – Darling Arithmetic

Sunset Sons – The Fall Line [EP]

The-Dream – Crown

//First Listens\\

Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color [via NPR]

Joywave – How Does It Feel Now [via Spotify]

San Fermin – Jackrabbit [via NPR]

Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer [via NPR]

Concert Review: Steve Aoki

Guest Article Written By: Rachel Reiss

The arrival of Grammy award winning DJ, Steve Aoki at the BJC was nothing short of chest pounding.   The excitement was evident starting long before the concert with many fans lining up at the doors hours before.  Only standing room tickets were available resulting in a densely packed crowd covering over half of the floor space.  As you approached the stage you could feel the beats reverberating through your body–as expected of a powerful EDM concert.

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The crowd about exploded as the opening DJs left the stage, the lights dimmed, and two giant video boards illuminated to introduce the feature act–a small Asian man with a defining moustache and long hairstyle.  After two hours of opening DJs, Aoki presented himself to a swarm of sweaty students chanting “Aoki”, eager to dance to his beats.  His opening number was a high energy, fast paced, song.  The flashing and strobing lights sent the fans into a frenzy and many girls in the crowd got thrown up into the air and onto shoulders to reach sight of the stage.  There was a DJ table where the artists mixed their beats and Aoki didn’t hold back from jumping up onto the table to rage with the audience.  He was very engaged with the crowd; not long into his set Aoki announced that he was Facetiming a friend: “say hi to my friend everyone” receiving a roar of a response from everyone.  His crowd interaction continued by tossing out some worn t-shirts, and sending two rafts out into the sea of dancers.  His signature of tossing a cake into the crowd was a lot of fun, many of the audience made posters to encourage Aoki to “cake them”.  The eventual receiver of a cake to the face was a girl with a huge sign saying “Cake me bitch” including a picture of Breaking Bad character Jesse Pinkman.  During “intermission” Aoki attempted to get a “crazy” photo with everyone, which ended up on his Instagram account, of course.

The music selection was strong, including songs off of his new album Neon Future I and other fan favorites. The killer playlist was preceded by Zombie Nation played by an opening DJ, what a surprise.  That brought the energy up on the floor because as we all know Penn State students can’t resist showing their school pride.  Aoki’s EDM set was booming with bass and the variety of remixes and original songs made for an entertaining time.  The two songs that got the loudest roar from the crowd were the Aoki originals Turbulence and Delirious.  Throughout the music, Aoki would direct the crowd on when to really dance to the beat, mostly through his own enthusiasm and expletives.

It seemed Steve Aoki could have kept the crowd going until the next morning, but his concert did have to come to an end.  He received insane shouts from everyone.  The satisfied audience exited the arena, ears ringing, and still sticky with sweat.  Despite a bit of sensory overload, it was an incredible show.

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.

This Week In Music [April 7]

//Featured Singles\\

Tame Impala- ‘Cause I’m A Man

Dawes- Things Happen


//Album Releases\\

American Wrestlers: American Wrestlers

Matt and Kim: New Glow

The Mountain Goats: Beat the Champ

Toro Y Moi: What For?

Waxahatchee: Ivy Tripp

The Wombats: Glitterbug

All Time Low: Future Hearts
Delta Rae: After It All
East India Youth: Culture of Volume
Flo Rida: My House
Lapalux: Lustmore
Turbowolf: Two Hands

…aaaaaand Kid Cudi may or may not be releasing his fifth album, entitled Speedin’ Bullet To Heaven, sometime this week.