State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

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Alternative Press Hosts First Annual AP Music Awards

What do you do when someone has a huge party every year and doesn’t invite you or any of your friends? You throw your own. And that’s exactly what Alternative Press did in creating the first annual Alternative Press Music Awards. AP has always been on the forefront of covering underground and alternative music that often go unrecognized in the mainstream. Since many of the artists that they love would never be recognized by awards ceremonies like the Grammys, they created a show of their own to give them recognition. The event was hosted by the always funny Mark Hoppus, who explained why AP decided to have such an event: “Because no one was going to do it for them.”

The APMAS were held in Cleveland at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The event was outside, which was a gamble that worked out well for everyone. Nice weather and good music all around made for a great show for the 6000+ attendees. With appearances and performances from artists like Joan Jett, Slash, Billy Corgan, The Misfits, A Day to Remember, Pierce the Veil, Yellowcard, twenty|one|pilots, All Time Low, Every Time I Die, letlive., Sleeping with Sirens, and many, many more, the event was just that much better.

The focus of the show was the award portion. The award came in the form of a small statue called a “Skully.” Fans voted online in the weeks leading up to the show about who they thought should win each award. A number of talented bands and musicians won the 15 awards given out this year, and they were:

Best Vocalist – Brendon Urie, Panic! At The Disco
Best Live Band – Pierce The Veil
Breakthrough Band – Crown The Empire
Best Bassist – Jaime Preciado, Pierce The Veil
Best International Band – Bring Me The Horizon
Artist Philanthropic Award – All Time Low
Best Guitarist – Phil Manansala, Of Mice &Men
Vanguard Award – Billy Corgan
Best Drummer – Mike Fuentes, Pierce The Veil
Icon Award – Joan Jett
Most Dedicated Fans – Black Veil Brides
Guitar Legend Award – Slash
Song Of The Year – All Time Low w/Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil
Album Of The Year – Bring Me The Horizon, Sempiternal
Artist Of The Year – Fall Out Boy

While the awards were meant to be the focus of the show, there were incredible performances keeping the show going the entire night. Joan Jett performed on stage with Slash playing lead guitar. Twenty|one|pilots rocked the entire park when lead singer Tyler scaled the scaffolding and sung from above the lighting rig, while drummer Josh played on top of a board held up solely by audience members. All Time Low played multiple songs, joined by pop-punk veterans Yellowcard and New Found Glory. Sleeping with Sirens played their song “Alone,” joined by Cleveland-native Machine Gun Kelly. Body Count played a set with some angry words from Ice-T. A Day to Remember put on a performance that even Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said he enjoyed greatly (my parents think it just sounds like noise). The Misfits got scary with their brand of horrorpunk once it was dark outside. All of their performances were brought together by the supportive playing of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra.

The existence of this event is significant for the alternative music scene. For a long time, bands in underground and alternative scenes have gone unrecognized- not only by award shows, but by other big players, like record labels. There has always been a DIY ethic for many bands in underground music scenes, and AP has shown that it can stretch farther than just releasing music on your own. Instead of hoping you get invited to an award show (which you probably never will), throw your own. The fact that this show ran the way it did, and received as much support as it did, shows that this music scene is strong and tight-knit (it now gives us another thing to rally around). And the message, as many speakers repeated all night, was that this show was for us. For the fans. For the kids who love this music.

Not only was the award show in itself a victory for the scene- there were a number of other things that were well done about it as a standalone production. The inclusion of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra was extremely well orchestrated. They weren’t just introducing presenters and speakers with intro music. They were playing along with every performance, and it was done well. It added a great live element to performances that was unexpected.

AP also made an excellent choice of a host in Mark Hoppus. He’s experienced and funny, and didn’t take himself too seriously, which worked perfectly. One of the best parts of the entire show was Mark Hoppus bringing it all together.

The outdoor venue worked really well. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are usually held inside, so it was surprising to see that this event was completely outside. But with beautiful weather and the lake right next to us, the environment and show were that much better.

The history lesson was a nice touch as well. Many new readers of AP/fans of the bands nominated for awards are younger. A good portion of them are clueless about alternative bands and musicians that originally paved the way for bands that exist today. Having older musicians like Joan Jett, Slash, Billy Corgan and The Misfits speak and perform was nice, because it really reminded everyone where many of these bands came from (and gave something for parents accompanying their kids to enjoy during the night. One dad next to me was rocking out hard to The Misfits).

While I would say the APMAS were a big success, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t problems along the way. Early on in the show there were a number of mic problems. Backing audio tracks played before they were supposed to. The first award of the show was delayed in being announced because the presenters were sent on stage without the Skully or an envelope telling them who the winner was. The video screens went black a few times during the show. And while the screens worked most of the time, the videos prepared for the show were often incorrect or poorly prepared, showing the wrong band member for an award (ex: showing the band’s singer when the award was for Best Drummer), or in some cases, even showing the wrong band on screen (ex: I believe the video screen said All Time Low and showed a Pierce the Veil video, or visa-versa). The live audience also sometimes felt forgotten, when the show went to a commercial break and the audio cut out, leaving us in silence for a minute or two at times before the orchestra members started playing music after looking at each other confused during that time. Additionally, I thought it was odd that Fall Out Boy only played one song to close out the show, after they had just won the Artist of the Year award, and when almost every other band had been allowed to play two songs (some bands played four or five songs). (Also, since Joan Jett played all of her songs with a guest joining her on stage, I thought it was a missed opportunity that she didn’t play “I Love Rock n Roll” with a number of people on stage with her, but I digress.)

Even with the mishaps included, the show was a victory for our scene. The fact that one of the biggest magazines and tour production companies from the scene threw this event (Alternative Press and the company that produces Warped Tour) may seem a big incestuous, but they know what they’re doing and what they’re talking about. It was a quality production (that needs to work out a few kinks for next year) that recognizes and gives exposure to hard working bands in this alternative music scene, and it further enforces the DIY mentality. This scene has made a place for itself, and it’s here to stay.

State In The Real Interviews Dan from Four Year Strong

At the Holmdel, NJ date of the Vans Warped Tour 2014, we got the chance to talk to Dan O’Connor, co-lead singer and guitarist of Four Year Strong. The band recently returned from a short hiatus. They’re back after a much needed break, with a new EP coming out on a new label. Dan talks about the time off, the new EP, and how he feels about coming back to touring after two years.

Please introduce yourself.
I’m Dan from the band Four Year Strong.

How’s the tour going so far?
The tour’s been great. All the shows have been awesome. The weather has been really good, especially for Warped Tour. It’s usually super hot. Today’s probably one of the hotter days, but it’s only like 85 so that’s okay.

The band took a little of time off. Not to get too personal, but what were you guys doing? Was it planned, or did it just happen?
It kind of just happened. We did Warped Tour 2012, and after our last record we finished our contract with our label, because we owed them two records: Enemy of the World and In Some Way, Shape or Form, and that was basically it. So we were free, and instead of signing to a new label, we were like, “Why don’t we take some time off?” We’d been touring forever. I had just gotten married recently to that, and a couple of us had bought houses, stuff like that. We kind of just wanted to take some time and kind of enjoy it for a little while. We all got dogs. We all wanted dogs but we couldn’t do that because we were touring too much. So we all got dogs. I had a kid right before this tour. You know, real life stuff. We kind of just wanted to go home and relax for a little while and get back to normal and hang out with girlfriends, wives, family and all that kind of stuff. We hadn’t seen them in forever. We just wanted to do that. There wasn’t any kind of break up or “beef in the band” or anything like that. We were just like, “You guys wanna go home?” and “Yeah sure, let’s go home.” Then pretty much around last summer, Alan and I just kind of started talking about getting together and doing some writing, and that’s basically it.

Some much needed time off. So the new EP Go Down In History is coming out in roughly two weeks. What can we expect from it?
It’s five songs- the first five songs we’ve written since our last record. It’s really cool. I think that it’s a lot more high energy than our last record. I think, especially when we were writing this, we knew we were coming on Warped Tour, and we were going to do the tour with Bayside before it. So we really wanted to write songs that were a little more-
*someone walked through the hallway and tried to get through a locked door next to us and left*
We were just looking forward to writing some live songs, and songs that kids could jump all over each other to. So that’s what it is: five fast, super riff-y songs. They’re probably the riffiest songs we’ve ever written. I don’t know why, but for some reason after taking this break- I don’t know what Alan and I were listening to- but when we got back together, everything we were writing on guitar was bonkers. We were like “How are we going to do this?”
*plays an air guitar with a lot of finger movement*
But we figured it out.

Yeah I was going to ask, was there anything you were listening to that was making the songs riff-y?
I don’t really know. I don’t think we listened to anything new during our time off. I actually listened to a lot of-
*someone else walks through the hallway and tries to get through a locked door*
Where was I?

Music you were listening to.
Oh yeah. We were kind of listening to softer stuff, and really just not intense stuff. Maybe that’s why we wrote such intense music- because we didn’t listen to any. So I came back and I was like, “Let’s write riffs!”
*another air guitar motion, this time with shredding sound effects*

Is there a little bit of anxiety about releasing the new EP, since it’s been a little while since the last album?
Not really, because the thing with our band now especially is that there really isn’t anxiety over anything, because we really don’t have any expectations over anything, because we’re-
*another person tries to get through the locked door*
We don’t really have much anxiety in the band because we’re adults now and we have things going on at home. We have to keep a balance between the band and home as it is. We’re here doing this because it’s what we love to do. We’re not treating this like, “Oh we have to do this we need money,” or “I need money,” or whatever. It’s really just down to the fact that we tour and we make music because that’s what we love to do. So there really isn’t a lot of anxiety over it right now. If kids like it, awesome. If they don’t…awesome. I don’t know what to say. *laughs*

Is there anything else you want to say?
Not too much. Just come hang out on the Warped Tour or any tours we do after that, and go pick up our new EP.

Cool, thanks Dan.
No worries, thanks.

The Best of 2014… So Far

 

With 2014 about halfway over, I thought I would take some time to look back at the year that has been. From The Black Keys, to Jack White and even ScHoolboy Q, this year has seen some great albums, and some disappointments (Yes Beck and Broken Bells, I am looking at you). But there have also been some incredible breakout albums this year. 2014 has not been the most amazing year so far for Rap fans, but anyone who loves Alternative music or just plain Rock should have had no trouble at all finding some amazing new music to listen to. Featured is my own personal list of the top 20 albums of 2014… so far. This is not an end all be all list, in fact some of these may be left off of the best of the year list come December, and some that didn’t find there way on the list could make a strong comeback. But this is what I have thought to be the best of the best… so far. Also note that this is just new music, so reissues/ remasters and even concert albums will not be included on the list, however, Mixtapes are in the running. Another note, this list was compiled on June 17, so all albums released after that time are not forgotten, just I have not listened to them yet. And now without further adieu, here is the list:
20) Fucked Up – Glass Boys


Let me preface this album by saying that this type of music is not my favorite at all, like I said about Deafheaven I just can’t seem to vibe music where I can barely understand what the singer is saying, but that should never take away from the talents of the band. To truly understand the greatness and impact of Fuck Up, there is a great ten minute documentary (shown below) about the band and how how respected they are in the music industry. All that hype aside, the band knows how to create good music. With guitar riffs that evoke some of the best alternative rock bands combined with fierce vocals that mix together in a way that is both abrasive and pleasing, even sporting a song that has a similar sound to O.A.R. Fucked Up put together an album that is simple in its brilliance.
Key Tracks: “The Great Divide” & “Det”

 

 

 

 

 

19) 2 Chainz – FreeBase


Alright, 2 Chainz has seemed to have become almost a punch line in the rap community, mostly by the general public, and I don’t really know why maybe cause he feels the need to remind us whenever he is in a song (“2 Chaaiiinnnnzzzzz”) or maybe because all he wants for his birthday is a “Big booty hoe.” But his albums have always seemed to be lacking something, maybe it lacked heart, maybe it was over-produced, I am not really sure how to put a finger on it, but for everyone that seems to have broken out of the “Mercy” craze that G.O.O.D Music created, 2 Chainz seems to be the most polarizing. But Freebase, his most recent FREE album, is fantastic. He seems to be taking himself more seriously (for the most part) and he seems to be trying to really solidify himself up there with A$AP Rocky and Rick Ross. Speaking of Rocky and Ross, they both appear on the album, and really help to take it to the next level. 2 Chainz will never be as socially conscious as Common or Mos Def, or know how to subtely brag about living in a life of luxury like Kanye, but he is really starting to find his place in the rap world, which I love, cause who doesn’t love to scream “2 Chaaaaainnnnzzzzz!!!!”
Key Tracks: “Crib In My Closet (feat. A$AP Rocky & Rick Ross)” & “Flexin’ On My Baby Mama”

 

 

18) Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love

Much like Fucked Up, Perfect Pussy has me getting into music that I generally do not listen to on a regular basis. First off, let me say that the name of the band is amazing, especially since they do have a female lead singer, it is just some sort of combination of cocky and ironic at the same time, I don’t know, I just really like the name. There sound is almost classic garage rock/ punk. Simple repeating riffs, and angry vocals. Everything makes you want to get up and mosh around. The album flows together almost seamlessly. Its so crass and unapologetic in its sound in such a perfect way that makes me really enjoy the direction and potential of this young band. Also the fact that they include live versions of the songs on the album really help you get a deeper look into the band. Its just a great Punk/ Garage Rock album, and for 2014 a really progressive sound, that steps in a direction that is so unlike anything on the radio right now.

Key Tracks: “Interference Fits” & “VII”

 

 

 

17) Kid Cudi – Kid Cudi presents: SATELLITE FLIGHT: The journey to mother moon

Ah Kid Cudi, Solo Dolo, Mr. Rager, whatever name you wish to call him, he is the lonely stoner who had us all on “The Pursuit of Happiness” with his instant classic Man On the Moon. Cudi has not really matched the greatness of that album since, he has been trying to change his sound in many different ways, and even taking some time off to take care of his daughter, Scott Mescudi really is trying to find himself. Some people may not have liked his last venture into the experimental, see basically any review of WZRD, but his last album Indicud was amazing (making my list of the best of 2013) Cudi seems to have gotten back into his groove. As an album that is teasing us for the inevitable Man on the Moon III, this album is just plain cool. With samples from moon launches and some of the spaciest beats I have heard in a long time, Cudi does take us on a journey to Outer Space, and you know what Space is freaking cool. For a hot minute I was starting to give up on Cudi based on the direction he was going, but after his last two albums, I am more than convinced that his next album will be his best yet.

Key Tracks: “Satellite Flight” & “Internal Bleeding”

 

 

16) Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness


Once again, I am indeed picking an indie female singer for the best of the year, so far. Angel Olsen is a fantastic musician, and her sound is so simple and just what I love about “Indie” music; acoustic guitar and great vocals. But her sound isn’t limited to that, she knows how to get grungy and tap into a great garage rock sound. For some reason, 2014 seems to be the year for new old sounding music. Her voice is so ethereal and distant that is mixes so well with the guitars and drums, that you want to come back for more. Since she is signed to the same label as Bon Iver expect more of the spacey vocals.
Key Tracks: “Unfucktheworld” & “White Fire”

 

 

 

 

15) St. Vincent – St. Vincent


Lately St. Vincent seems to be getting the spotlight and the attention that she has been so close to for so long, that it is really a long time coming. A woman with the fantastic combination of fashion, style, a great voice, and an ice cool personality. St. Vincent seems to be the poster child for Indie/ Alternative Singers. Having just recently collaborated with David Byrne and even more recently with Nirvana, she seems to be hooking up with the right people to help her improve her sound. This album, which is by all accounts different from her previous solo records, takes her vocals to another level. She adds in some techno elements and beats (see “Digital Witness”) and singing some of the best lyrics of the year. St. Vincent has lyrics that talk about the mundane and everyday and just puts some of your thoughts into words that are exactly what you were thinking, just in a more poetic way. The whole album gets better with each listen; and if you have the chance try and check out her visually stunning music videos.
Key Tracks: “Birth in Reverse” & “Regret”

 

 

 

14) Mac DeMarco – Salad Days


I may have been a little late to the whole Mac DeMarco party, but when I heard the buzz that Salad Days was getting, I couldn’t just sit back and not listen to it. It was nothing that I expected it to be. Looking at the man, I would have guessed that he was a hard rocker or some sort of really really experimental musician, not this Ariel Pink alt rocker. His songs are all so mellow and have a really nice rhythm to them, that it is infectious. It’s one of those albums that you kind of nod your head to the beat and tap your toes as you sit on your porch swing. The album has this retro feel to it, which is great, it isn’t trying to create a new sound. DeMarco is relying on a system and sound that works, and his voice balances off nicely with the simple guitar riffs.
Key Tracks: “Blue Boy” & “Let My Baby”

 

 

 

 

13) Skrillex – Recess


I know, I know, I know, SKRILLEX, how could the master of the DUBUBUBUB WUBUBUB make a great album? Well he did and its pretty darn good. With guests like Diplo and Chance the Rapper, Skrillex put together an album, that despite the lack of vocals, at times, creates a cohesive sound that really flows together and sounds like it belongs in an album format, and not just some mixes in a club. The album starts off strong, and much like Kid Cudi he samples in some space jargon samples. The whole album has this amazing space age feel, you feel like you are in the future when you listen to it. I may hate dubstep, and most of the time the thought of it makes me cringe, but this album is incredible, and  I am willing to put all of my feelings for the genre aside and just enjoy the album.
Key Tracks: “Coast Is Clear (feat. Chance the Rapper & The Social Experiment)” & “Dirty Vibe (feat. Diplo, G-Dragon & CL)”

 

 

 

 

12) YG – My Krazy Life


For a young rapper to be included in XXL’s Freshman Class, is truly an honor, and considering who they have had on their list in the past is a true testament to how good XXL is at spotting rising talent (Past Freshmen have included Mac Miller, Macklemore, Iggy Azalea, and Kendirck Lamar to name a few). YG is no exception to the amazing rising talent that XXL has picked out. Like any classic rap album, YG includes audio segments from his past, so listeners can see where he has come from. But he comes in so strong and captures the feel of the early 2000s rap music, part Eminem and part 50 Cent and part Diddy, YG has a little bit of everyone in his sound and style. And not to mention the fact that he is from Compton helps to add to his infamy. With some pretty great guests as well, YG makes an album that is both fun and also gets serious.
Key Tracks: “My N***a (feat. Jeezy & Rich Homie Quan)” & “Sorry Momma (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)”

 

 

 

 

11) EMA – The Future’s Void


About three years ago, EMA came onto my radar with “California” and I really haven’t thought of them much since. The song was good, but nothing to make me get up and want to go get their record. Then The Future’s Void came out, and the buzz and praise that the album was getting, I just couldn’t ignore it. So I decided to give it a listen. I will be honest, the first time I heard the album, I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about, and then I gave it one last chance; and was really amazed at how much I missed in the album from my first listen. The vocals, the harsh beats, everything just comes together in a way that makes you reassess the whole electronic music scene. It takes from so many different sources that you really can’t place a genre of the album. One song is dark and brooding, and the next is in your face and high energy; this shows the incredible range of EMA and everything they are working toward artistically. But that is just the sound, the lyrics, my god the lyrics, they are deep and heavy. EMA’s lyrics hit like a sucker punch at times; just so deep and powerful. You can hear the meaning in her voice when she sings. The whole album comes together for something great.
Key Tracks: “Smoulder” & “100 Years”

 

 

10) Damon Alburn – Everyday Robots


Damon Alburn, or as you probably know him as the lead singer of Blur or maybe you know him as the lead singer of the Gorillaz, or better yet as the lead singer of The Good, The Bad, and the Queen. No matter how you know him, his sound is very distinct, but changes ever so slightly with each project he is working on, kind of like Jack White. But this album has all the makings of a fantastic Alburn album, thoughtful lyrics, mesmerizing melodies, and an eclectic use of instruments. The album has this feel of a worldly album, like Alburn consciously borrowed from the sounds of different countries and threw them together in this album, in sort of like a United Nations of sound. Most of the album is very slow in tempo and just a nice calming sound, this is not a bad thing, unless you can only listen to System of a Down or some other high energy band. But the sound is just so nice and welcoming that the slowness makes you so at ease and calm. Alburn knows well how to make an amazing album, and his track record isn’t tarnished with his “first” “solo” record.
Key Tracks: “Lonely Press Play” & “Mr. Tembo”

 

 

 

09) Sun Kil Moon – Benji


Never before has an album had such an impact on me lyrically like Benji has. For me, it takes about three to four listens of a song for the lyrics and meaning of the song to really sink in. But this album, I felt it right away. The opening song is about his cousin who died in a fire, like “Wow that’s deep shit.” The thing is the album doesn’t get lighter or less intense, much like those who watch Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead they know that darkness and sadness waits around every turn, and Benji is no different. I will be honest musically, this album is nothing special, just a simple guitar, I am not even sure that drums appear on this album. But like I mentioned earlier the lyrics are where the album shines. It is just such a beautiful album that will melt your heart with each listen.
Key Tracks: “I Love My Dad” & “Pray For Newton”

 

 

 

 

08) O.A.R. – The Rockville LP


I will be honest, O.A.R. is kind of a homer pick for me, they hold a very special place in my heart, their live album Rain or Shine, is in my opinion, one of the best live albums ever. Their studio albums have always seemed to have been a set up for a live album, until recently. They have decided to give their studio albums a fuller, richer sound, and you can start to hear that in King but there just seemed to be an emotion lacking in King, but with The Rockville LP O.A.R. seemed to have gotten back to the soul of their older albums, and added the higher quality sound of King. For those who are O.A.R. fans, their sound on this album is definitely different from what you have come to love from the band, but that is not a bad thing in the least. They maintain their support for the troops, and really seem to capture the feeling of love and everyday love, not this overly romanticized Hollywood love that so many artists sing about. The Rockville LP seems to be a combination of everything I have come to love about O.A.R. and more. “Favorite Song” is filled with so many references to other songs and artists that its almost a game to see how many you can pick up on, and the audiophile in me was so happy to hear all those references. The album has a rich full sound that makes me want more. I will just have to wait for the next live album.
Key Tracks: “Favorite Song” & “Peace”

 

 

07) Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues


Gainsville Punk rockers Against Me! have had their struggles over the last couple of years, with lead singer Thomas Gabel dealing with an identity crisis, and coming out as a transgender, even getting a sex change. Gabel is now Laura Jane Grace, and with the new identity for the frontman/woman (this is not supposed to be derogatory, but to suggest the change from a man to a woman as the lead singer) came some changes with the rest of the band, with the new members. Against Me! comes in deep, hard and angry, but what else would you expect from a band named Against Me!. Now I will be honest, when I heard that Gabel was getting a sex change, and still going to make music with Against Me! I was very confused, for me, what made the band so fantastic is the deep, dark anger from Gabel’s voice, and you hear this so clearly on their AMAZING acoustic EP. But from the opening lines of the first song, my confusion was put to rest and I realized that this was the same band that sang about girls with track marks on their arms, now they are just a few octaves higher. And yes, you guessed it, the album, is very socially charged. Dealing with the issues Grace/Gabel faces as being a transgender, and those issues are met head on in the first song. And as I listen to the album while I type this summary, I realize how well I have it as a white male in the United States, Grace will always have that stigma as “The first transgender rocker” and that sucks, and I know many many people will stay away from this album because of that fact, and if you like rock, you would be crazy to ignore such a monumental rock album.
Key Tracks: “FuckMyLife666” & “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”

 

06) Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal


When “Stoned and Starving” was released last year with their album Light Up Gold I was blown away by the funny and classic New York Garage rock sound of the song. The last thing I was expecting from the band was another album, yet alone another amazing album. What Sunbathing Animal does for the band is really help to solidify them as the fantastic indie rockers that they are. Listening to the album you realize how much a retro feel makes a band stand out with other rockers trying to be innovative and experimental. The classic New York sound that Parquet Courts brings to the stage is just so awesome, the album has this feel of familiarity to it that makes listening to it on the first time around joyful instead of painful like most first listens. The songs vary in their tone so much, that makes listening to it and picking out favorite songs so easy to do. The riffs and the vocals just play off of each other in such a way that screams classic rock.
Key Tracks: “Instant Disassembly” & “Dear Ramona”

 

 

 

 

05) ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron


TDE, Top Dawg Entertainment, has really seemed to have made a name for itself recently, with the signing of Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad and SZA to name a few, but the one that is the most interesting is the bucket hat wearing ScHoolboy Q. Oxymoron is his breakout album, his last album was great, and had some amazing songs on it, but Oxymoron is where you see how fantastic Q really is. From the first song to the last song, the beats, his voice, and the lyrics all come together in such a way that is fierce and just incredible to listen to. When I first got the album I listened to it and immediately put it back on. “Gangsta” is amazing, and Q has some great verses. Then “Los Awesome” is incredibly catchy and fun, but at the same time there are songs that are very dark and personal for Q. The song that features Tyler, the Creator has Tyler’s fingerprint all over it, and sounds like it could have been apart of the Wolf trilogy, and it feels a little disjointed from the album, but it is still a great song. This is the best rap album of the year so far, and really sets the bar high for the rest of the rap albums that come out this year. It may have come out early, but I know that I will still be listening to this album come December.
Key Tracks: “Man of the Year” & “Break the Bank”

 

 

04) The Black Keys – Turn Blue


Ahhhhh The Black Keys, the band that has revitalized Rock and Roll, their album Brothers may be one of the best in this decade, and their songs seem to be inescapable, when “Lonely Boy” was released it seemed that every commercial and movie trailer had the song in it, and then “Gold On the Ceiling” took its place. Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney have been busy in the last two years or so besides making the album, Auerbach got divorced from his wife and Carney told off Justin Bieber on Twitter. Bieber aside, their personal lives seem to really affect the tone and lyrics of the album, like any good rock artists would. As I have talked about to others who have not enjoyed this album, I look at it this way, The Black Keys are changing their sound to evolve and they may not release another album quite like Brothers but thats okay because the other albums can still be good, and Turn Blue is just that. It has that great blues sound that The Keys are known for, and it also has some more modern sounding songs like the album closer “Gotta Get Away,” a song so unlike anything The Black Keys have done and its such a great song that I am glad that they got out of their comfort zone and made something that was different and made sure that they didn’t rest on their laurels.
Key Tracks: “Gotta Get Away” & “It’s Up to You Now”

 

 

03) Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else


Cloud Nothings broke out in 2012 with their incredible Attack On Memory, but it had been awhile since I had heard anything from them since then, but all of a sudden in the beginning of 2014, they released a new album, and let me tell you it rocks, like hard core rocks. If you are familiar with the “Stay Useless” rockers, you know their sound, and this album only improves on the fast guitar riffs and the wicked drums. Baldi’s voice is so great, and the raspyness of it mixed with the backing tracks works on so many levels, because, lets face it sometimes the music does not always compliment the voice. Did I mention that this album rocks, cause it does, from the first note to the last, Cloud Nothings rock out and shred away. One of the best rock albums of the year and it will be hard not to see this at the end of the year top 10 list.
Key Tracks: “Psychic Trauma” & “I’m Not Part of Me”

 

 

 

 

02) Real Estate – Atlas


Almost a complete 180 from Cloud Nothings, Realy Estate capture the sounds of the beach and relaxing so well, they can best be described as the perfect summer band (see also Dick Dale and Best Coast for other perfect summer bands). Ever since I hear “Green Aisles” I have been hooked on the band, their bass and the guitar and spacey vocals just evoke something in me that I love when I listen to them. This album is more of the same sound from the band, but like most of the others on the list who have seemed to keep their same sound, they have taken what they have learned from the first album and made it better. Atlas is a complete album and its hard to think of songs that stand out, they all do a great job of just flowing into each other. Real Estate may drop down on my list come December, but that is only because its not Summer, and they don’t evoke the same feeling when I am shivering in the cold.
Key Tracks: “Talking Backwards” & “April’s Song”

 

 

 

01) Jack White – Lazaretto



Much like a few of these bands on this list, Jack White and the White Stripes hold a place near and dear to my heart. The White Stripes’ Elephant was one of the first albums I ever bought, and I have been hooked on their sound ever since. I have followed Jack White down every alley that he has ventured in, from the bluesy Raconteurs to the hard rock Dead Weather, and even now to his “solo” career. With each project he also seems to change his sound a little, but as a solo artist he seems to be uninhibited with what he can’t do. For god sake’s look into what he did for the vinyl of this record. The album has a little bit of a blues feel to it, a bit of a country feel, and at most times a hard rock tone. As to expect with Jack White, the guitar work is so innovative and wild, that on the first time it may seem crass and undigestible. The single “Lazaretto” is kind of the perfect song for a man that has been so polarizing and honest with the media, referring to a colony of lepers, White can at times make himself a leper with his words or even his music. But at the end of the day people will read what he has to say and chant along to “Seven Nation Army” because he really is that good. The album has such a sweeping set of sounds in a cohesive way that makes it so amazing, and you can see where White’s collaborations have influenced him, and it has made him a better musician. I know many people may dismiss White’s music since he is not part of The White Stripes, or because he seems like kind of a dick, but read his Rolling Stone interview, and give the album a listen and you might find your opinions change.
Key Tracks: “Three Women” & “Just One Drink”

 

 

Well, there you have it, my list of the top albums of 2014, so far. Like I said before this has no bearing on the end of the year list, but kind of like a checking in with what is really good right now. There have been other great albums that were not included in this list, and they are included in my honorable mention list. Here is that list, in no particular order:

Pharrell – G I R L

Karmin – Pulses

Foster the People – Supermodel

Beck – Morning Phase

Trash Talk – No Peace

Rick Ross – Mastermind

Le1f – Hey – EP

Mark McGuire – Along the Way

Mac Miller – Faces

 

EVENT: The Safes are coming!

Chicago-based power-pop trio The Safes are coming to Happy Valley with Penn State locals Tusk, Her!

When? This Wednesday, April 30
Where? Chronic Town on College Ave
How much? $6 at the door

The Facebook event can be found here. Don’t forget to RSVP! You won’t want to miss out.

…………….ROUSTABOUT!……….

……………….Presents:……………..

-> THE SAFES (chicago, il)
http://www.thesafes.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thesafesmusic

with special guests:

-> TUSK, HER (state college, pa)
http://www.tuskher.com/
https://www.facebook.com/tuskhermusic

-> DJ TK (tait farm, pa)
https://www.facebook.com/tyler.b.kulp

-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•
Wednesday, November 30, 2o14
______Chronic Town ________
_____8pm / 18+ / $6.oo _______
-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•

Brothers Frankie, Patrick, and Michael O’Malley are THE SAFES. Growing up, these sons of Irish immigrants were surrounded by music. Their father, a working musician, record collector and all around music lover filled the house with live sounds, great records (Little Richard, Magic Sam, & Hank Williams…) and an array of musical instruments. This environment ultimately led to the development of this very special band.

THE SAFES have that unique chemistry that comes when talented siblings form a band (think Kinks, AC/DC, Everly Brothers, Beach Boys). This chemistry fuels The SAFES’ records as well as their live shows. Touring coast-to-coast since 2003, THE SAFES have established large, loyal fanbases across the country on the strength of their live show which is a sweaty explosion of energy and melody.

THE SAFES have also shared the stage with such notable acts as Andrew Bird, The Smoking Popes, members of Wilco and The Raconteurs to name a few as well as having worked with some top record producers like Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, The Shins), Keith Cleversley (Flaming Lips), Jim Diamond (White Stripes), and Jason Ward (Arcade Fire, Kid Congo Powers).

The quality of their releases have also brought THE SAFES national recognition.”Century of Saturdays”, “Double Single”, “Sight of all Light”, “Well, Well, Well” and “Boogie Woogie Rumble” and “Family Jewels” have received favorable press in such notable publications as Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Paste Magazine.com, Boston Globe, Kansas City Star, Popmatters, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Sun Times.

“Atomic Pop”
-David Fricke, Rolling Stone

“Fueled by a strong family chemistry, The Safes make smart, melodic music that would fit comfortably with Elephant Six bands like Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel and Elf Power.”
NPR

“Old-fashioned, fuzzed-out power pop”
-Washington Post

“The SAFES makes sugary pop-rock that seems like it would fit right in on mainstream radio.”
-TimeOut New York

“Wild and crazy, family style”
-Chicago Tribune

The above information was provided by Roustabout!‘s Facebook event page.

Founder's Day 2014 Just Announced! A Great Big World and Delta Rae

SPA just announced the bands for Founder’s Day 2014! The bands playing on March 4th in Alumni Hall will be A Great Big World and Delta Rae!

The celebration will begin at 8pm and is a ticketless event with valid PSU student IDs. Patrons will be let in on a first come first serve basis. Hailing from Durham, North Carolina, Delta Rae, is a six–‐piece band who brings an interesting rock twist to the typical country and folk genre. Their debut album Carry The Fire was released on Sire Records last summer and has been a big hit ever since. With strong four part harmonies and powerful lyrics, Delta Rae has managed to send music reviewers raving. “–‐if Fleetwood Mac came up in North Carolina, they would resemble Delta Rae.”, Rolling Stone proclaimed. Playing amazing live shows adds to Delta Rae’s fantastic music reputation with sold out shows from coast to coast and appearing not once but twice on both The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Conan. The band has also shared a stage with First Lady, Michelle Obama, during a Democratic rally at UNC Chapel Hill. Their latest EP Chasing Twisters released last November, was voted by iTunes as ‘Single of The Week’ and Delta Rae’s are currently working on their second album due early this year to follow up their EP.

The second act is most famous for their memorably heartfelt single, Say Something, first heard on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. The single by A Great Big World was later re–‐recorded to include featuring artist, Christina Aguilera. Say Something continued to gain popularity as the band played show stopping performances on The Voice, The American Music Awards and culminating at The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at the end of the year as the band opened for Maroon 5. A Great Big World’s musical journey officially began with the release of their self–‐titled album Is There Anybody Out There? In January 2014. But producing music albums is not the only thing on the duo’s agenda. In the midst of their endless touring all over the East Coast with West Coast dates to be announced soon, the boys are also in the middle of writing a Broadway musical.

State In The Real Interviews Crobot at Levels


(Above, from left to right: Bishop, Paul Figueroa, Eric Poluhovich, Jake Figueroa, Brandon Yeagley)

Space-rockers Crobot recently embarked on tour with Clutch and The Sword. Before their show at Levels on Wednesday, January 15th, State In The Real got the chance to talk with the guys from Crobot, about everything from space rock and a new album to facial hair and hot sauce.

Eric: What’s up guys, this is Eric from State In The Real and I’m here with Crobot. Can you please introduce yourselves?
Jake Figueroa: Hi I’m Jake. I play bass.
Brandon Yeagley: I’m Brandon and I sing and play the harmonica.
Paul Figueroa: I’m Paul and I play the drums.
Bishop: And I’m Bishop and I play guitar.

Eric: Can you give us a brief history of how the band started and how it came to this line up?
Bishop: A brief history? *laughs* Well Jake and Paul had played together in different bands. Jake and Paul were in a band called Thick Leather Brick, which was really awesome. They were very similar to Crobot and we played a lot of shows together and we always wanted to be in a band with them, and we finally got the opportunity and it worked out really well.
Paul: That was actually a really good summation- spot on.
Bishop: Yeah that was really quick right?
*band laughs*
Brandon: It was a really good nutshell.

Eric: So you guys have a “space rock” kind of sound. Is that a self-described thing?
Paul: Probably yes and no.
Bishop: It sort of came into that with the effects I was using and the spacey-ness and the throwback old-school vocals. That s***’s cool to us, y’know? We love the space stuff.
Brandon: We’re geeks at heart, for sure.

Eric: And it just came to that naturally?
Bishop: Yeah it was never a forced thing. We basically just wanted to be like Black Sabbath, and Clutch. And here we are.

Eric: And it says that you’re influenced by sci-fi novels and movies. Is there some specifics that you’ve used while writing? Were there specific movies or books you read, and then you like “Okay I’m going to do this then write a song” ?
Brandon: Actually, there was one specifically. The song “Wizards.” I’m trying to remember the quote verbatim, but it was a 1976 cartoon based on two wizards fighting each other, and one was a wizard of technology and the other was a wizard of old magic. It was just based on the sentence description from Wikipedia that the song was written.
Bishop: Post-apocalyptic, science-fiction fantasy something.
Brandon: It was a pretty crazy quote but that’s just one instance where something of the sort was taken and ideas were made from for sure.

Eric: And you have plans to possibly make a graphic novel based on your album The Legend of the Spaceborne Killer? Is that something you still want to do?
Bishop: Eventually yeah. Right now, I do all the art for the band and we’re all working on concepts and ideas for album art and stuff. That’s where we’re at. We started with sketches and stuff like that but I think that’s something that will just come to be from pieces and sketches that I’ve done that we’re never used. I’m sure Brandon would just come and write to it. I think it could be something really cool eventually.
Paul: We’ve got a lot of ideas that surround stuff like that. We want to make video games and movies and stuff. We want to do it all.
Bishop: Action figures!
Paul: Very ambitious.

Eric: I was going to say that. Ambitious ideas. Very ambitious.
Paul: We’ve got hot sauce, and air fresheners.
Bishop: We’ll see what happens though.

Eric: I was going to ask what’s next. Like music videos or another album? Or just going to go straight to video games and action figures and hot sauce?
Paul: Yeah we’re going to stop making music actually after this tour.
Bishop: We just recorded actually. We just recorded with a guy called The Machine. He’s a producer who’s worked with Lamb of God, Clutch, Every Time I Die, a lot of really big bands. Some of our favorites. That should be coming out in 2014. We’re not really sure when.
Paul: March or April.
Bishop: Yeah March or April. We’re also going to be shooting a video in hopefully March or April for that. The single is yet to be determined.

Eric: I’ve heard mixed things about Machine. What do you guys have to say about him?
Band *collectively): Really? Oooh. Can we infer as to what things you’ve heard?

Eric: I’ve heard that he’s kind of blunt and unconventional.
Bishop: He doesn’t have a sensor. For sure.
Paul: Yeah if he doesn’t like something, he lets you know. He’s very passionate about letting you know that he doesn’t like something. But in the same breadth if he does like something he’s just as passionate and enthusiastic.
Brandon: Which makes it totally worth it. To see someone get so excited about something you’ve done is really f***ing cool.
Paul: The dude will like jump on couches…
Brandon: Screaming. Literally screaming.
Paul: ….and be like in the room, always with the headphones on, always in the room with you. He’s like the 5th member for the whole two months we were there. He’s really got some great ideas.

Eric: Very cool. Is this your first national tour? Have you done smaller tours?
Bishop: We’ve done a few smaller ones and a few people attended some of the shows.
*band laughs*
Brandon: This is the first big like, sell out.
Bishop: Because Clutch and The Sword are like two of our favorite bands, as well as like everybody else in the world. So it’s awesome to be the first band on because people are there early. If they’re not there to see us, they’re damn sure not going to miss The Sword, so we get to reap the benefits of that, y’know?
*car drives by blasting Nickelback*
Brandon: As Nickelback plays in somebody’s radio.
*Everyone laughs*
Paul: That was like a Camaro too…

Eric: I was going to ask specifically about tour with [Clutch and The Sword]. What is that like? Are you guys trying to learn as much as you can?
Bishop: Absolutely. My biggest way to describe it is, when we’re home for a day off, you know that feeling you get when you’re star struck from someone? That just doesn’t go away. You think you’re just going to be buddies and stuff, but these guys come up to you and you’ve looked at them your whole life and sometimes words don’t come out. You know you feel like an idiot.
*band laughs*
Bishop: But it’s cool because they’re cool and they’re really nice people and they all respect us and everyone here just loves music.

Eric: Very cool. So do you guys have any tips on facial hair care? Anything specific?
Bishop: Don’t shave.
Jake: Don’t shave. My beard doesn’t really look good.
Paul: This is a year of not growing. That’s it.
Bishop: It’s just lack of responsibility and care for oneself. That’s really all it is. It’s cool though.

Eric: Useful advice. Is there anything else you guys want to say?
Bishop: Herwig’s [Austrian Bistro] down the street is a great place. They have cinnamon bacon cinnamon rolls. Those are awesome. And they’re really nice there.
Paul: The wiener schnitzel was amazing.
Brandon: I’m going to leave it at that.
*band laughs*

Eric: Thank you very much guys.
Band (collectively): Cool, thanks dude.