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Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | December 10, 2014

Paper Lights: Caverns Review

Paper Lights is an Alternative Pop band, resounding from Atlanta, Georgia. The bands album, Caverns, was released in November 2013, and encapsulates their personality and charisma with every track. “The Cave” is a single off of Caverns that has acquired worldwide attention by the likes of ESPN, Chick-fil-A and Outdoor Magazine. Perhaps under-exposed based on their musical abilities, and inspirational tonality, Paper Lights exhibits true talent with no filler.

Alternative Pop band Paper Lights (Photo provided by Paper Lights)

Alternative Pop band Paper Lights (Photo provided by Paper Lights)

Consisting of members Dan Snyder (vocals and keys), Melanie Annabelle (vocals and glock) and Tim Friesen on bass guitar, the trio creates a song on Caverns larger than what they should represent, and it’s a beautiful surprise around every verse-driven corner.

“On Your Way” opens the album with Snyder’s clean and clear vocals asking questions to some Jane Doe, while Annabelle’s harmonies drive the song to a hook reminiscent of an early Dashboard Confessionals. Annabelle’s verse to follow is laced with beautiful highs and melodic lows, carrying the song like a lullaby through the strong beat, which includes multiple levels of percussion that are new for Paper Lights, but very welcomed.

If you’re searching for a song with a driving beat that will surely drive you to the finish line if it’s playing on your iPod during any marathon you’re a part of (don’t worry if the most you run is on your way to class so you’re not late, it’s the perfect soundtrack to a late night study session as well), “The Cave” will give you just that. Once again, the mix of Annabelle’s and Synder’s voices serve as the perfect recipe for musical bliss. Friesen steers the beat to a magical build with his persistent bass lines, and you can quickly see why this song has received such positive attention since its release.

My personal favorite track off of Caverns has to be “Counting on You.” With poetic lyrics and a simplistic beat, this song lends itself to Annabelle’s melodic vocals, and focuses on leading to a hook that will be stuck in your head for hours after listening (trust me, I know).

“All the victories are locked into the version of himself that you once knew.”

Just like that line in the first verse of this telling track, every line following will make you analyze it. This song speaks from a place all of us possess, can never articulate.

Five new Christmas songs that deserve a listen

by Ashley Winward | December 10, 2014

Christmas time is finally here, and with that many go instantly to what I call the “retail classics.” You know what I’m talking about—those same five songs you always hear in your favorite retail store.

Yoko Ono and The Flaming Lips cover “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” (AP Photo)

Yoko Ono and The Flaming Lips cover “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” (AP Photo)

“All I want for Christmas is You” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” are great songs, don’t get me wrong, but I believe that, much like your iPod, even your Christmas playlist needs an update at least once a year. Who knows if you’re missing out on something great just because you’re still hung up over songs that came out in the 30s (yes I’m talking about you “Winter Wonderland”). While I will admit there are a lot of bad Christmas songs, there have been some new holiday releases that I would certainly put on at my Christmas party this year.

Seth Macfarlane and Norah Jones – “Little Jack Frost Get Lost” Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame has proved that his talents expand far past the TV screen many times, including his album, Music is Better than Words in 2011. This year he’s back with a Christmas album Holiday for Swing and this duet with the beautiful Norah Jones is something I would listen to as I’m unwinding with a glass of eggnog by the fire. It’s a beautifully produced swing tune and the subtle jabs at the holiday cold are there but not as overbearing as some Family Guy jokes can be.

Johnnyswim – “Christmas Day” Speaking of something that you can curl up by the fire with, Johnnyswim has the most gorgeous acoustic track with “Christmas Day.” The harmonies and the sleigh bells makes me feel warm inside. The lyrics are also so sweet and wonderfully crafted, my favorite being, “I’m too old to be so excited” showing that even as we get older it’s still okay to wake up feeling like a kid on Christmas morning. Any country or acoustic fans would love this song on their Christmas playlist.

Judith Own and Harry Shearer – “Christmas with the Devil” Now, while this is a cover of an older song, the new way in which it was performed makes all the difference. The original song was written by Spinal Tap, however this cover by Own and her husband Shearer uses only piano and an upright bass to bring a smoother jazz feel to the song. Another thing that I love about this song is that if you purchase it, it will benefit a mental health organization called Bring Change 2 Mind. A great song with a great cause tied to it!

The Both – “Nothing Left to Do (Let’s Make This Christmas Blue)” While the holiday season is all about good spirits and happiness, it’s not always the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. The Both put just the right spin on the classic elements of Christmas time with a melancholy twist.

It’s okay to be sad at Christmas time whether it be missing a loved one or just because the holiday season makes you feel a little blue. I put this song on my list for all of those people and I hope that you can find something to brighten your spirits this holiday season even a tiny bit.

The Flaming Lips and Yoko Ono – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” I end my list with a classic with a new twist that absolutely blew me away. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” was covered by The Flaming Lips, originally sung by the late great John Lennon; however they invited his wife Yoko Ono to sing on the track as well. The mix of The Flaming Lips usual psychedelic twist on things with Yoko Ono’s voice made this song absolutely mesmerizing. I also love this song itself because I think that it brings a hope and optimism into the New Year, something I think we all need.

I wish all of my readers a Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate and I can’t wait to bring you all new music in the New Year!

What makes a classic?

by Glenn Rohrbacker | December 10, 2014

What makes a song a classic? Why is it that when “Don’t Stop Believing” comes on the radio or when yet another band plays it at a concert, we all just instantly drop everything and proclaim the lyrics to the sky, despite our ability to actually sing?

The Beatles, pictured above on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, are still as relevant today as they were back then (AP photo)

The Beatles, pictured above on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, are still as relevant today as they were back then (AP photo)

What about songs like “Piano Man,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Hotel California,” “Baba O’Riley,” and about half of the Beatles’ repertoire?

How do songs that were written in a time so different, for people so different, and by people so different who we now view as legends make it in to the 21st century and still have relevance as if they were written just recently.

I can give you the short answer: they make us feel good! But there are very few songs that do it like a classic. Sure, I’m sure we all jammed out time and time again to “Baby” by Justin Bieber, but think about it—when was the last time you actually heard that song? Excluding of course those who still have Bieber-fever. But to hear songs like “Don’t Stop Believing” or “Hey Jude,” you really don’t have to be an avid Journey or Beatles fan. In fact, you may not have even known who sang those songs up until I just told you, but you love them. Why? To be honest, I don’t think we will ever know. It’s a cultural and social phenomenon that we are experiencing for the first time as pop music’s first generation is still alive and well. As time passes, we will definitely be able to tell what goes into a classic song, but for now it’s just an observation.

What I’m sure a lot of people wonder when they hear these classic songs is: “When will they be over?” In other words, when will the time come when the songs that we all know and love and once defined a generation suddenly aren’t relevant anymore? Maybe that’s the secret. Try to think of a situation or time when “Don’t Stop Believing” was unnecessary.
Also, music today is so diverse that its hard create something that reaches every demographic for several reasons. One would be that there are a lot more people and a lot more music out there for them to experience.

Second, once people experience so many different types of music they develop their opinion so that they like a very specific type of music. It is so much harder today to break out and become a top musician and even harder to make a hit.

What will be the classics of the future? Are we looking at these future legends right now like Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Drake or the plethora of artists in the mainstream?

Personally, I haven’t come across a mainstream pop song that I could see myself still loving the same in 20 or 30 years. Has the window to make a classic song closed? Maybe these are just thoughts a music obsessed teenager has but I think they are valid to everyone. Do society a favor: teach your children to appreciate the classics of yesteryear. And more importantly: teach them to teach their kids as well and hopefully we can keep these classics alive.

Farro holds his own with “Color Rush”

by Andrew Lagambina | December 10, 2014

Josh Farro was the backbone of Paramore until his departure in 2010. Over the course of three records and countless amazing arrangements, he stole the hearts of many people, and even managed to earn three Grammy nominations.

Farro with Paramore in 2007 at Van’s Warped Tour  (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Farro with Paramore in 2007 at Van’s Warped Tour
(Photo obtained via Facebook)

Paramore was the little band that could from Franklin Tennessee, and by all accounts, they still are.

But this is not that band.

Farro is the new project from Josh Farro, and their new single “Color Rush” premiered on Thanksgiving, showcasing a bright, refreshing sound from the man who brought you some of the best songs of the mid to late 2000’s. If this isn’t a comeback, I don’t know what is. The song starts with a slightly overdriven guitar, which, surprisingly, breaks into a synth lead, and keeps time at a just-barely-over moderate tempo. Farro’s vocals are surprisingly on point. He has an extremely pleasing tone, almost Chris Carrabba-esque, and his falsetto is, in a word, gorgeous. Any worries I had were quickly demolished upon my first listen. The dude can sing.

What’s best is to hear the fun behind this song. There’s no pretense anymore. This band doesn’t need to rely on their guitarist/vocalists’ previous band to make it big; they can do it on their own.

They’ve written at least one song worthy of people’s attention, and that’s an accomplishment these days, what with singles often being the weakest tracks from their full-length counterparts. For fans of the Farro brothers, great songwriting should be expected, but for anyone who previously wrote off Paramore for being too “teen-y” or “Emo,” this is definitely worth the time.

Surprise seems to be the common theme with this new single. After the disappointment that was Novel American, and hearing that Josh would be taking over lead vocals, there was a fair amount of doubt going into this reviewer’s first listen. However, Farro has boatload of potential, and now, a fantastic new single under their belt. If they keep up the momentum they’ve started with this new piece of music, there’s no telling how far they could go. The sky’s the limit, really, so I highly suggest you get in on the ground floor.

Local Gigs of the Week

by Ashley Winward | December 10, 2014

local gigs of the week

Toads Place
Dec. 11: A Kushmas Vacation with Curren$y, Smoke DZA, Young Roddy and Tribe Worldwide

Dec. 12: Gwar with Corrosion of Conformity and American Sharks

Dec. 13: Marion Meadows Annual Jazz Christmas Show

The Oakdale
Dec. 10: The Piano Guys – A Family Christmas

Dec. 11: The 1975

Dec. 12: 96.5 Tic All Star Christmas with Train, Daughtry, Ingrid Michaelson, Matt Nathanson and Echosmith

Dec. 13: Mike Epps: After Dark Tour

The Space
Dec. 11: Pearl and the Beard

Dec. 12: Allston Police with The Story Unfolds, Brett Steinberg, and Somewhere in Time

Dec. 13: Modern Baseball with Knuckle puck, Foxing, Crying and Somos – SOLD OUT

BAR (21+)
Dec. 10: The Pass with Ian Biggs and Glamour Assassins

Album of the Week

by Ashley Winward | December 10, 2014

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | December 3, 2014

Diane Ward: Songwriting is Like Catching Fireflies 

Diane Ward (photo obtained via dianeward.com)

Diane Ward (photo obtained via dianeward.com)

Diane Ward is a singer/songwriter whose music and story are more than worth sharing and telling.

Staying true to her roots, she is still a resident in the Floridian corner of the world in which she grew up, but her music has always been a virtual escape.

“I became interested in music when I was very young,” she shared. “My sister’s husband was in a band and they used to always rehearse in the garage of my parents house. I became infatuated by the drums, and found out much later in life that my mom pawned her wedding ring to get me my first drum kit.”

You may have the same question I did though—when did Ward find her powerful voice?

“It was kind of a fluke during college,” Ward admitted. “I went to college for music and began messing around with the keyboard and guitar, you know, just writing for fun. A bass player I knew wanted me to join his band on the drums, and I did. In the beginning I was just singing backup, but one day our lead vocalist didn’t show up – she went off to be with her future husband that night,” Ward joked.

I sang the songs from behind the drums and we collectively realized how much more money we could make from gigs with one less member. The vocalist was okay with it since her priorities had changed a bit too, and everything sort of fell into place.”

Beautiful Ways, Ward’s fifth and most recent album, was released this year on Oct. 21. When she started working on the album, Ward had no idea the challenges she would face in order to finish it. Halfway through the creative process, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and made the bold and brave decision to continue working on the album throughout the chemotherapy and radiation process.

“There was a little bit of wavering toward either end of the spectrum,” said Ward, when I inquired whether the idea of finishing the album once she was diagnosed was unanimous or not. “There were days that were really hard with my energy level and such. The way you feel physically and emotionally makes it really hard to escape and focus on something else. At the same time, the recording process was a wonderful escape from what was happening at that time,” she revealed. “It took a long time to finish the album however, because I was simultaneously recovering from what my body was going through.”

She had many supporters that played a role in the process of creating Beautiful Ways, one of whom is Jack Shawde, a longtime supporter and friend of Ward. Shawde co-produced, recorded, and played multiple instruments on the album.

“Sometimes my voice would disappear at times and it got scary,” Ward admitted. “Jack has been with me from the beginning of my solo career and while he was very gentle and patient during the engineering process, he revealed to me later on just how frightening it was to him as well. He is someone who knew my voice from the very beginning, so to hear me, at times, completely voiceless was just as jarring for him as it was to myself.”

After listening through Beautiful Ways for the second time, I wondered what song resonated with Ward the most when all was said and done.

“They’re like my children,” she said jokingly, “it’s so hard to pick one. If I had to choose, I’d have to say I really love the title track ‘Beautiful Ways.’ The way that song came together just aesthetically and from a melodic point of view made me very proud. I love that song and Motorcade, which I think has a really nice playfulness to it.”

It is easy to understand why those two tracks are the “favorite children” off of Ward’s new album. They’re the ones that come home from school with all A’s on their report cards. Both tracks are beautifully constructed from strong melodies to poetic lyrical lines, making them seamlessly flow through your speakers and into your heart. After hearing some of her main musical influences, it is easy to see where this melancholy-like sound resonates from.

“I gravitate towards artist that write, coupled with a piano. I’m a huge Lennon and McCartney fan, and I love all of the Beatles. Also, artists such as Billy Joel, who write solo with a piano draw me in because I always gravitate towards melodies. Personally though, I am most influenced by my mom and dad as corny as that sounds,” she laughed. “I have a wonderful family, and if I can become half the person each of them are, I’ll be happy.”

When listening through some of Ward’s previous work, I picked up on a noticeable difference in her songwriting, as if her music grew up alongside her.

“The songwriting process is really organic for me,” she confessed. “Sometimes I can sit down to write and it will work, but other times it happens when I’m at the grocery store or driving in my car and I have to stop what I’m doing and jot down the idea before it leaves me. It’s like catching fireflies,” said Ward. “You never know where the idea is in the ultimate grand scheme of things, or where it comes from, but when you see it, you need to capture it.”

I found Ward’s comparison of songwriting to catching fireflies extremely fitting, as Beautiful Ways is a wonderfully magical creation, just like a mason jar of lightening bugs on a summer night. When you bring a million flickering fireflies to one place, you are left with something mesmerizing.

Diane Ward successfully turned a million fleeting thoughts into a collection of stories that captivate the listener, taking them along for the ride, while simultaneously inspiring them.

Is Fall Out Boy’s new direction more beauty or psycho?

by Ashley Winward | December 3, 2014

Just before the Thanksgiving Break, Fall Out Boy took to the airwaves of Zayne Lowe’s BBC One show to release not only a new track, but news about their sixth studio album which is set to be released in the new year.

Fall Out Boy released their new single, “Immortals,” earlier in October (AP photo)

Fall Out Boy (AP photo)

The album will be called American Beauty/American Psycho and will be out worldwide on Jan. 20, just in time for the new semester to start. The title track was played on BBC One and has already been catching mixed reviews from critics and fans alike.

Now, fans of Fall Out Boy shouldn’t be shocked by a musical shift in direction as they’ve done this quite often in their career. We can all remember that when Follie a Deux dropped in 2008 many cried out that “they wanted the band to go back to Take This To Your Grave” and some even believed that it was the negative feedback on the album that prompted the hiatus.

Even Save Rock and Roll was different, albeit there were elements of previous albums but there seemed to be no fuss over that because the fans had gotten their boys back.

With this new song being released it seems like the fanbase is back to their old FOB shaming ways and to be honest…it frustrates me to no end. Of course a band tries new things and new sounds over the course of their career, that’s exactly what music and art is!

If Fall Out Boy released album after album of Take This To Your Grave-esque songs, not only would the fans get bored of hearing it but the band would get tired of playing as well. To be an artist means taking in everything around you, your experiences, and expressing them in song.

My favorite artists are those who use their art like a diary; I can tell the experiences they went through or the moods they were in just by the album or song I’m listening to. I will admit that “American Beauty/American Psycho” is going to take a little time to get used to for me. The chorus is very poppy, and reminds me a little bit of the theme song to the show Code Monkeys but the verses really get back into the dig of Stump’s voice that I love so much.

The band wrote of the song throughout their social media sites saying, ““We thought about where this all began but razing it and starting again, so we reached out to a kindred spirit in Sebastian- from the past he mined some of the future. The mission is the heart pure and simple as it can be- distilled but never fragmented or disguised. Through these experiments, that were sometimes lost in translation, we persevered- ‘they tried to bury us but they didnt realize we were seeds’…”

I think that while this song might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the first single off the album, “Centuries” just proves that there is still strength on this album and artfully structured lyrics that we know and love from Pete and Patrick. Anybody who says they’re swearing off the Chicago boys for good are closing themselves out from what has the makings of another amazing release.

Preorders will begin Dec. 15 and the single “American Beauty/American Psycho” will be released Dec. 8. Those who purchase the preorder will receive the title track, “Centuries,” and one other song which has not been released yet. I, for one, am excited and ready for anything Fall Out Boy puts out. No matter what direction they choose, I’ll be loyally following behind them.

Breaking through the “White Noise”

by Ashley Winward | December 3, 2014

If you look at where Massachusetts natives PVRIS were a year ago, it’s simply awe-inspiring to see how much they’ve accomplished.

PVRIS is preforming at Hartford’s Webster Underground Dec. 30 (Photo obtained via Facebook)

PVRIS is preforming at Hartford’s Webster Underground Dec. 30 (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Since changing their name from “Paris” to “PVRIS” for what has been rumored to be legal reasons, and signing onto Rise Records, it’s been a whirlwind of excitement. I got the chance to catch lead singer Lynn Gunnulfsen, more commonly known to fans as Lynn Gvnn, in an off moment just before the holiday season to talk about the band’s success and how there is a great deal of style influence in what is PVRIS.

The biggest buzz surrounding the group has been the release of White Noise, their debut full length album under Rise Records. Gunnulfsen explained the process of making the album which took place over the course of the past year, especially the heavy influence of VersaEmerge’s Blake Harnage.

“He and I had been in touch for a while,” she said. “When I was in high school he taught me how to do electronic stuff on my laptop, and ever since he, I wouldn’t say mentored but we’ve always kept in touch and he’d always give me pointers and stuff here and there with programming stuff. When he found out we were working on a new album he was like ‘Hey let’s do a record together!’ and I was like ‘Hell yeah!’ So we just really hit it off and we kind of just combined our brains together, all our different sounds and made the record what it is now!”

The release was also very significant due to the fact it was their first release on their new label, Rise Records. “We had it in our top picks for a while just because we had known a lot of people that had worked with them and said they were a good label to them. We were actually supposed to sign with a different label and the day we were supposed to sign our contracts our management called and was like ‘Don’t sign anything, we have an offer from Rise on the way’ and we were like ‘Hell yeahhhh!’ So we went with them, it’s just proved to be the right choice because they believe in what we want to do 100 percent and they are so supportive and enthusiastic and just as excited about everything as we are. They’ve gone above and beyond anybody’s expectations including our own for how much they’ve done for us, it just worked out to be an awesome fit.”

The release has seen tons of great press, making the Editor’s Choice list for iTunes alternative, and the band made it on the Huffington Post’s “18 Artists You Need to Know Half Way Through 2014” as well.

With vibrancy in both Gunnulfsen’s voice and the popping synth elements of the music, there is one piece of the band that doesn’t seem to be quite as bright; their media. From photos to their music videos, the group presents themselves quite literally with the color drained from them.

When I asked about the black and white motif of their appearance I found out it was both preference and purposeful. “I like the look of black and white a lot. But also, I think it’s kind of a cool concept because you think about black and white and there’s obviously something missing to them and that’s colors. That’s kind of up to your interpretation and kind of what I like PVRIS to be. I like it to have a little bit of mystery and a little bit of uncertainty to it so you kind of have to fill in the blanks with what you want to take from the music so it’s kind of a little hidden concept within the style choice. I don’t know how to word it, it kind of leaves a little bit of room for interpretation and mystery as to what’s going on 100 percent and I think that, that’s something I think we have in our music to begin with so it matches perfectly.”

Check out White Noise at your local record provider or on iTunes now. Gunnulfsen and the rest of the trio will be at Hartford’s Webster Underground Dec. 30 with The Class of 92 as well as locals Life on the Sideline before heading out on the second leg of Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens’ world tour. If you’d like to see the rest of my interview with Lynn Gvnn, go to chargerbulletin.com or download our app and be on the lookout in the upcoming weeks as I will be giving away a PVRIS prizepack on my radio show “Left of Center on Charger Radio” next week!

A name you should know: The Como Brothers

by Glenn Rohrbacker | December 3, 2014

The Como Brothers Band are a pop/rock/blues band out of Long Island that is growing in influence every day. They have been around music their whole lives and continue to merge their past influences with the songs that they write.

The Como Brothers Band hail from Long Island and are making a name for themselves (Photo obtained via Facebook)

The Como Brothers Band hail from Long Island and are making a name for themselves (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Matt Como plays bass and sings vocals while Andrew Como plays lead guitar and also sings. They are known for their extremely catchy lyrics and melodies in every song they write. The Como Brothers Band have opened for acts such as Howie Day, David Cook, Tyler Ward, PJ Morton of Maroon 5, Ryan Beatty and more. They have released 2 EPs, The Speed of Sound and Still Waters and a full-length album titled Baby Steps.

The Como Brothers Band have won many awards for their music, including 2014 IMEA Pop Album of the Year, 2014 Artists In Music Award 5 nominations, finalists in the Hard Rock Rising 2013, and have had their music featured in programs like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Canon Consumer Electronics commercial, the movie Wingman Inc., and more.

The band has performed at the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square, The Cutting Room, Highline Ballroom, Nassau Coliseum Warped Tour, the Jones Beach Amphitheatre Side Stage, Theater Three, Amityville Music Hall, Webster Hall and more.

Most recently, the band has recorded their latest EP that is set to be released in early 2015. The EP was recorded in early October at Germano Studios in NYC. Playing drums on the EP was Grammy award winning drummer Steve Jordan who has played for John Mayer and the John Mayer Trio, and Andy Burton who also plays for John Mayer.

The record was produced by Grammy award winning producer Graham Marsh, who has produced for artists like Bruno Mars and Cee-Lo Green. They are already starting to line up performances for 2015. Also, they just recently played their first headlining show at Theater Three in Port Jefferson, New York and sold the highest number of tickets they have so far. The band has also reached out and made fans in places like Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Boston, and New York City.

A great and unique characteristic about these brothers is that they always put the fans first. They take time after every single show to talk to fans, even people who have never seen them before, and get to know them. They really enjoy building that relationship and creating more than just a performer-viewer experience.

You can check out the Como Brothers Band on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@ComoBrosBand).

Also, check out their music on www.reverbnation.com/comobrothersband and on iTunes. Finally, you can find upcoming shows and events on their website, www.comobrothersband.com.

The Como Brothers Band are a band that can only get better from here. They have already accomplished so much in such a short time and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

 

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