The Magic Show Act II Proves To Be Just The Beginning For The Members Of We Are The Finale

Courtesy: Houndstooth productions

Courtesy: Houndstooth productions

Typically when people think about Nashville, Tennessee, the first thing that comes to mind is country music.  Nashville is the home of country music.  Its Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry are shrines to the legends of country music for all intents and purposes.  So the thought that a rock band–a punk band no less–would rise among the country ranks and make a name for itself among that mass of counrty acts no less comes as something of a surprise. But when audiences hear the new EP The Magic Show Act II: The Turn from We Are The Finale, they will agree that this Nashville, TN-based band is set to finally start turning the tide in Music  City, USA and help make the city known for being more than just the capital of country music.  The Magic Show Act II: The Turn totals only five songs and sixteen minutes.  Throughout the course of the EP’s technically four full-length songs–the EP’s opener only runs fifty-one seconds and isn’t technically a song–front man Daniel John Schafer and band mates Bradley Gwinn, Brandon Keysey, Freddy March, and Ronnie Mills show quite a bit of diversity and talent.  They take listeners on a ride through some of rock’s sub genres throughout the record from the pop punk style of the EP’s first full track ‘Well Enough Alone’ to a semi-post hardcore sound in ‘…And Scene’ and an almost seemingly 80s influenced sound on the EP’s closer ‘The Honeymoon Phase.’  It’s tough especially in the indie rock world to find a record that crosses so many sounds within the course of its songs (Whether it be an LP or EP). But the members of We Are The Finale have done just that here.  Keeping that in mind, it helps to make this EP one that is deserving of at least one listen by audiences.

The members of We Are The Finale have crafted a record in its new EP The Magic Show At II: The Turn that is well worth at least one listen.  The reason being that through the course of the EP’s four full-length songs, the band refuses to stick to just one of rock’s various sub genres.  it switches things up from one song to the next, thus keeping audiences engaged from start to finish.  The record’s lead song ‘Well Enough Alone’ is proof of that.  The song’s slower, almost bluesy sound instantly hints at an influence from the likes of Set It Off.  Front man Daniel John Schafer’s lyrics add a certain depth to that musical side, too. He hits on a topic that quite a few men have dealth with in life in the form of a woman that causes a man no end of problems inside.  He sings, “Your eyes are telling lies/That your mouth is trying to hide/So now I gotta decide if it’s worth it/To keep this dragging on.”  Schafer writes in the song about how his subject is going crazy over the female in question, writing, “Girl, you got me faded (Whoa, I’m so smooth girl)/And now the groudn is shaking (Let me move you)/Now I feel like I’m six feet deep (You shouldn’ve known, too)/And the top of my headstone reads Leave well enough alone.”  In other words, the woman in question is killing his subject, metaphorically speaking of course.  What man hasn’t been in this situation at least once in life?  And while the song’s subject is obviously male, one could argue and flip it to have a female as the lead subject singing about a guy driving her crazy as that does happen, too.  That interchangability and the song’s musical side colletively make ‘Well Enough Alone’ a fitting opener for the band on its new record.

‘Well Enough Alone’ is a good first impression from We Are The Finale on its new EP.  This is especially the case for those that might not be so familiar with the band’s music.  That’s thanks to its mix of relatable lyrical content and equally interesting musical side.  Audiences that pick up the band’s EP will note that as enjoyable as this song proves to be, the band doesn’t resteasy on its laurels.  Rather it switches things up from here as is evidenced in the semi-post hardcore sound of ‘…And Scene.’  The song opens with the sound of an old film reel setting the stage for what is to come much like was done with old movies.  It is a fitting addition to this song, considering the song’s lyrical content.  Shafer sings in the song’s chorus, “All you ever wanted was to bust out on the scene/But I won’t let the scene change me/And all you ever wanted was a reason to feel this way/So now I’ll stay away/Away from you for a while.”  Before this, he sings, “My face fills with blood/Your face is so smug/So now I’ll take some steps away/This life you sell/It can’t be real.”   The song seems to come across as highliting the frustration felt by someone that has to deal with one of those overly annoying people who lives solely to bring others down one way or another.  Hopefully that interpretation is right as it is just the interpretation of this critic.  The song’s second verse strengthens the argument for this interpretation as Shafer sings, “I’ve heard these lies before/Back when I was young/And I am moving on my way/Now that I’m older I see all the things that I want/And I’m ready to plead my case.”  Again, Schafer comes across as targeting the people that would say whatever they want to others, knowing others would believe them and in turn allow themselves to be torn down emotionally.  It will be interesting to find out whether or not this interpretation is correct. Hopefully it is correct.  Regardless, the very fact that it could generate such discussion and thought by itself makes it well worth hearing.  The balance of Schafer’s clean vocals and his screams set against the song’s guitars and drums adds even more depth to the song, proving again what makes ‘…And Scene’ another part of a whole that any indie punk and rock fan will enjoy.

We Are The Finale shows throughout the course of both ‘Well Enough Alone’ and ‘…And Scene’ its musical versatility and its lyrical versatility, too.  The band exhibits just as much musical versatility in ‘The Honeymoon Phase’ which closes the EP.  The band’s use of keyboards throughout the song and the rather bombastic guitar solo incorporated into the song’s bridge adds its own share of depth to the song.  They collectively show something of an 80s influence.  There’s also a bit of a Fall Out Boy influence here, too.  Such a juxtaposition of sounds shows even more than ever the versatility of the band’s abilities and influences.  That versatility by itself makes the song one more good example of what makes The Magic Show Act II: The Turn well worth the listen.  The song’s lyrical side gives it even more depth as Schafer sings, “I’ll rip the ties that bind me to your walls/And I will grab hold of everything and try/To stay on my feet while you’re chasing afer me/Because this war torn heart can’t beat anymore/And I’ve lost my want to pick you off the floor/So stay on your knees and stop chasing after me.”  He goes on to sing of his subject taking the chance to tell a significant other that he/she loves someone in particular.  Yet in the song’s end, he sings, “Now we’ll stay forever broken-hearted/And destined to feel this way.”  It’s almost as if he is saying in regards to his subject that said subject will take the chance to express his/her love for a certain person even though it may be too late and regardless of not getting that chance again.  It’s something of a bittersweet song, when considered from this lyrical angle.  The song’s musical side complements that bittersweet feel, too. the two elements together make for a song that is just as solid as the EP’s opener.  It will leave audiences wanting more in the best possible way.  Audiences will get to hear more as the band has a pair of live dates currently scheduled.

Audiences can hear more from We Are The Finale live now as the band currently has a pair of live dates confirmed.  The band is scheduled to peform a live home town show tomrrow at Rocketown.  It is also schedule to perform at Exit/In in Nashville, TN on January 17th.  Audiences can purchase tickets for both shows online now and get the latest news from the band at http://www.facebook.com/WeAreTheFinaleband. Audiences can also keep up with all of the latest from the band online via Twitter at http://twitter.com/wearethefinale.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Set It Off’s “Duality” Is A Solid Sophomore Effort

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off releases its brand new full-length studio effort Duality today.  The album, the band’s second full-length release and fifth overall release is an impressive new work. That is because it does so much to continue establishing the band’s identity, separating it even more from other bands to whom it had been compared early on in its existence.  While the band exhibits quite a bit of growth on this album, it also hasn’t lost the sound that made it so popular early on among its fan base.  That makes Dualityeven more of a solid new recording from Set It Off.  The combination of the band’s musical growth is evident in the album’s lead single ‘Why Worry.’  The band’s harder edged sound is present in this song.  But there is also a poppier sound mixed into the whole.  That balance of sounds alongside the song’s thought provoking lyrics makes clear why this song was chosen as the album’s lead.  Staying on a similar page, audiences will also enjoy ‘Tomorrow.’  Its Jimmy Eat World style sound crosses with its equally optimistic lyrics to make this song just as much of a surefire hit with listeners.  On the completely opposite side of things, the lyrically searing ‘Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ is sure to ignite just as much of a fire in listeners because of its intensity both musically and lyrically.  These songs are just a few that exhibit what makes Dualitya solid second full-length release from Set It Off.  The album’s other eight tracks are sure to become favorites to listeners in their own right, too.  Collectively, all eleven tracks on Duality prove just why audiences will want to check out this latest release from Set It Off regardless of their familiarity with the band and its sound.

Duality is a record that every lover of rock should hear regardless of their familiarity with the band and its sound.  ‘Why Worry,’ the album’s lead single, takes the sound that made the band a fan favorite early on and mixes it with a somewhat more poppy, Fall Out Boy style sound in its chorus to make a song that proves to be quite catchy musically speaking.  The song’s positive lyrics make this piece even more enjoyable.  Front man Cody Carson sings in the song’s opening verse, “This sinking feeling sets/It feels just like a hole inside your chest/I know you’re thinking No, no, no, no it is easier said than done/But please let me attest/I know it’s hard/You’re feeling like you’re trapped/But that’s how you react/When you cannot see the light/But try and see the light/I’m telling you no, no, no, no you’re the only one/Standing in your way/Just take a breath/Relax/And tell me….Why/Please tell me why do we worry.”  The song comes across as addressing those individuals that think to themselves “Oh woe is me.” Carson says to those people in an attempt to motivate them, “You’re the only one/Standing in your way.”  The song’s second verse in which Carson sings about handling each day’s difficulties as they come rather than trying to cross bridges that don’t yet exist.  It proves to be quite the enlightening work and uplifting at the same time.  The addition of the song’s catchy hooks and choruses make it even more enjoyable and clearer why it was chosen as the album’s lead single.  Thanks to a partnership with Fuse TV, audiences can check out the song’s brand new companion video online at http://www.fuse.tv/videos/2014/10/set-it-off-why-worry-premiere. 

‘Why Worry’ was an excellent first choice to represent what Duality has to offer audiences.  Its combination of catchy hooks and choruses alongside its positive lyrics will both move listeners and get them moving.  Much in the same vein, ‘Tomorrow’ offers its own enjoyment and positivity.  Intended or not, this song exhibits something of a Jimmy Eat World style sound in its musical side.  Lyrically, it is just as uplifting as ‘Why Worry.’  Carson sings in this song, “They’re gonna try to clip your wings/Lock you up and make you sing/But they’ll never cage your dreams/So fly away/Cause we’ve got tomorrow/We’re the pages in the wind/We’ve got tomorrow/We’re the tale that lies within/There’s always another day/Another night/A bittersweet blessing in disguise/Tomorrow/We’re the authors of our lives tomorrow.”  Carson’s note that there’s always another “bittersweet blessing in disguise” is such a short statement.  But it speaks volumes.  He is saying that even things that seem bad could be blessings in disguise. And those hidden blessings are what make tomorrow better than today.  It is truly a positive message.  It is a message from which audiences of all ages can take some heart and hope.  That positive message set against the song’s catchy musical side makes it another of the best of this record’s moments.

The positive messages and catchy music that make up ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Why Worry’ make these songs two of the brightest moments on Duality.  On the completely opposite side of things, the lyrically searing ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ is certain to get any listener’s adrenaline flowing.  The song’s title and its lyrics leave zero doubt as to what the song’s topic.  It is a full-on lyrical assault on those that would attempt to lie and deceive others.  Those people include those people that call themselves friends but are so fast to stab people in the back among others.  Cody makes this painfully clear as he sings right off the top of the song, “Beware, beware be skeptical/Of their smiles/Their smiles of plated gold/Deceit so natural/But a wolf in sheep’s clothing is more than a warning.”  He goes on to sarcastically use nursery rhymes to illustrate his point.  That use of children’s nursery rhymes as a juxtaposition of children’s mentality to that of older individuals adds even more punch to the song.  And Carson’s diatribe that builds into the song possesses enough vitriol to make Eminem proud.  Though in his defense, who wouldn’t want to scream “Burn in Hell!” to those that have deceived us for one reason or another?  It is a powerful finishing touch to what is one more of Duality’s best moments.    Together with the likes of ‘Why Worry’ and ‘Tomorrow,’ Set It Off has proven once again why it is one of the best in the next generation of its genre.

‘Why Worry,’ ‘Tomorrow,’ and ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ are each excellent examples of what makes Duality a solid sophomore effort from Set It Off.  They aren’t the only positives to this album in whole, though.  The album’s gentle closer ‘Miss Mysterious’ is the polar opposite of the album’s opener ‘The Haunting.’  ‘Bleak December’ also offers its own value to the whole as does ‘N.M.E.’  All things considered, Duality is proof that Set It Off has just started and the future looks bright for this u-and-coming band.  The band will hit the road in support of Duality beginning tomorrow, October 15th in Orlando, Florida on the “Black Mass 2014” tour presented by Hot Topic.  Also along for the ride will be Black Veil Brides, Falling in Reverse, and Drama Club.  The tour brings all four bands to North Carolina next month.  It will make a stop at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 5th.  Tickets for the concert can be ordered online via Ticketmaster.  Set It Off’s complete tour schedule is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.setitoffband.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/setitoffband

Twitter: http://twitter.com/setitoff

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/setitoff

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Steve Aoki Releases Details Of New Album, Single, Tour

Courtesy:  MSO PR

Courtesy: MSO PR

Famed producer and DJ Steve Aoki announced this week that he will release a new album this Summer.

Aoki will release Neon Future I on Tuesday, August 12th via Dim Mak/Ultra Music. The double-disc album is the first in a pair of albums that will culminate in early 2015 with the release of Neon Future II. Aoki leads off Neon Future I with the lead single ‘Rage The Night Away,’ which features rapper Wocka Flocka Flame. Audiences can hear the single now online at http://www.soundcloud.com/steveaoki. Aoki explained the concept behind his upcoming album in a recent interview, noting that he views the future of society as being utopian through proper use of technology, music and color. He went on to explain that it was that view that served as the basis for the album’s sound. “When I think of the dance world, I think of how it’s a colorful world. That, along with my fascination with futurism defined the concept of my new album, Neon Future,” he said. “I see the future in a more of a utopian sense, built through technology, music and color. These concepts became the driving force for the creation of my first double album.”

Aoki’s collaboration with rapper Wocka Flocka Flame on the album’s lead single ‘Rage The Night Away,’ which is available now, is not the only collaboration on the album. He also worked with: Fall Out Boy, Empire of the Sun, will.i.am, Flux Pavilion, Bonnie Mckee, and Machine Gun Kelly.

The release of Neon Future I will be celebrated with a headlining performance at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday, August 16th. From there, Aoki will hit the road for a select handful of dates across the country. His performance at Madison Square Garden will feature a number of special guests and much more. Audiences can check out a trailer now for the performance online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b4WZtfkFZQ&feature=youtu.be. Tickets for the concert go on sale at 12pm ET on May 9th. They can be purchased online via Steve Aoki’s website, http://www.steveaoki.com.

Along with the announcement of his upcoming album and headlining show, Steve Aoki also has announced this week that he and Bud Light Platinum have come to terms on a one-year partnership. The company’s first thirty second TV spot featuring Aoki will air next week. He will be featured in the company’s “Turn up your night” campaign, which is aimed primarily at fans of electronica and dance music in general. In discussing the new partnership, Rob McCarthy, VP of Bud Light brands at Anheuser-Busch told reporters, “The brand looks forward to expanding its range of content through its partnership with Aoki and continuing to build its credibility as the drink of choice for EDM and nightlife lovers.” Aoki shared McCarthy’s sentiment, releasing a statement saying, “I’m always looking for new ways to take things to the next level…so when Bud Light Platinum came to me with the Turn up the Night campaign, it seemed like the perfect fit.”

More information on Neon Future I, Neon Future II, Steve Aoki’s upcoming live performance at Madison Square Garden, future tour dates and more is available online at http://www.steveaoki.com, http://ww.facebook.com/Steve.Aoki, http://twitter.com/steveaoki, and http://dimmakrecs.com. More information on Bud Light Platinum is available online at http://www.BudLightPlatinum.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Emo Fans Will Enjoy Tera Terra Terra’s Sohomore CD

Courtesy:  Round Kid Records

Courtesy: Round Kid Records

Terra Terra Terra’s new record, The Space We Create is an aptly titled work.  The combination of its cover art, song titles, and songs themselves leave little doubt as to the album’s overlying theme.  For the most part, the songs focus on relationship issues, just from different angles.  Anyone that is a fan of Jimmy Eat World, At The Drive In, and Fall Out Boy will find something to enjoy about this album.  The song ‘Away For A While’ clearly exhibits that theme of love lost that permeates this LP.  Front man Loren Taylor sings in the song’s chorus, “Maybe I need to go away for a while/To figure this out/Figure this out….please don’t leave me alone with myself.”  Little room is left to decipher what exactly is being said here. 

That same sort of theme is evident both musically and lyrically in songs such as ‘Glow’, ‘Crash’ and ‘Someone Like You’ just to name a few.  Keeping that in mind, what really drives this album is its musical side.  What listeners will really appreciate musically about The Space We Create is its ability to take each song’s lyrical side and add a musical side that compliments said lyrics to make for a full slate of songs that will tug at the heartstrings of any of its intended audiences.  This even applies to [Loren] Taylor’s vocal style.  His airy, breathy vocal style crosses every song on this album.  But he has a certain ability to give that style a specific tone within the context of each song that adds to each song’s hard hitting emotional combination of music and lyrics.  They all combine for a record that any fan of the emo genre will enjoy from start to finish.  The Space We Create will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, January 15th via Round Kid Records.  Audiences can keep up with all the latest news from Terra Terra Terra online at http://www.facebook.com/terraterraterrafl.

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Elenora Another Good Addition To The Post-Hardcore Scene

Courtesy: Persistent Heart Media/Indianola Records

When one thinks of the Pacific Northwest, one doesn’t typically associate that area of the country with the likes of Oregon’s own Elenora.  But with the release of its new five-track E.P., “Avant Garde”, Elenora could become one of the bands to put that section of the country back on the musical map.

The EP’s opening song, ‘Bedfellows’ is a solid melodic post hardcore song that walks the line of screamo/emo just enough that it makes the song commercially viable.  This song is comparable to work from the likes of Fall Out Boy and Set It Off.  The addition of the keyboards in this song is just subtle enough to work.  It adds a certain extra touch that makes the song that much better.  ‘Rome Is Where The Art Is’ is another example of how the band is able to effectively balance its two sounds.  The way that it builds into the heavier sound at the end makes for what is one of the EP’s best tracks.

That balance comes back into play on ‘An Open Book’ as the song moves from adrenaline fueled guitars and vocals to the gentility of the keyboard part in the break back to the guitar driven portion in the song’s second half is a good build on the song.  ‘Star Crossed Lovers’ closes out “Avant Garde.”  It continues the feel built throughout the previous four songs on the EP.  It’s just as solid as those tracks.  All combined, the five tracks on this EP make for a record that any fan of the post-hardcore/screamo-emo scene will enjoy.  The EP is available online now at http://elenora.bigcartel.com/product/avant-garde-ep-preorder-album-out-august-10.  For more information on Elenora, fans can go online to http://www.facebook.com/elenoramusic, http://www.phmrecords.com, and http://www.facebook.com/PersistentHeartMedia.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.