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Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | November 19, 2014

Nick Africano’s If Timing Were of Different Course and Fire

Nick Africano (AP photo)

Nick Africano (AP photo)

Bridging the waters between Tom Waits and Damien Rice, Nick Africano is a breath of fresh air. With an irony in his words, and a distinct emotion in each melody, his latest album, If Timing Were Of Different Course And Fire, was released for the world to enjoy last month.

While Africano is undeniably an artist, his poetic abilities merge with his production skills to create an evolving concept album that is sure to take any listener on an emotional journey.

The first track on the album, “Capture,” is a wonderful parfait of musical layers. The harmonies on this song highlight the chorus beautifully, and the echoing electric guitar adds a grunge factor that makes you want to blast the song through your speakers while you’re driving along a coast somewhere. It all comes to a close with Africano singing the hook a capella as the music slowly drops out.

Not only can you find your own symbolism in the strategy behind the production, which I’ll leave to your own interpretation, but you can feel the emotion in every line until you are left with nothing but track two (or the repeat button).

It is clear that Africano has felt pain, and not only has he dealt with it, but he has articulated his experiences for his audience to grow from. When you are feeling pain or sadness, it always helps to know someone else has been in your shoes before, and Africano’s entire album feels as if he is that comforting friend that is lifting you up and recognizing the bad, but helping you look towards the good.

“Cap and Bells” is my favorite song off of Africano’s latest masterpiece. He enters the melody with the first verse like Johnny Cash walking into a bar with his usual gait (and I promise that’s not a set up for a bad joke). Like any good song should, this track builds to a sentimental climax and falls to the same place it started by the end. The listener is taken on a journey, being forced to feel emotions most strive to hide in their daily life, so be sure to listen to the album on your car ride home from work and avoid teary-eye contact with strangers at red lights.

“Open You Heart” is a track that really surprised me off of this collection of work. The instrumental is an unexpected cross between blues and country, and Africano’s voice shines through in a clear and distinct tone, opposite to his tellingly breathless presentation in previous tracks. Once again, the harmonies on the chorus add another layer, and I think they really enhance the storyline.
“You can’t be so afraid to fail that you will leave yourself instead,” he sings in “Open Your Heart.”

Nick Africano is a musical breath of fresh air. His music is powerful, and telling. His stories make you feel as if you’ve known him forever after the first listen of his album, and his emotion when delivering the songs will (at moments) leave you speechless.

More precious than “Fool’s Gold”

by Ashley Winward | November 19, 2014

Fitz and the Tantrums have slowly but steadily been making their way into the hearts of many since 2010 when their debut album Pickin’ Up the Pieces was released and “Moneygrabber” reached number two on the Billboard Adult Alternative charts.

Fitz and the Tantrums (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Fitz and the Tantrums (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Their new sound with a bit of old school flair often groups them with artists such as Walk the Moon, Neon Trees and A Silent Film.

Nearing the end of an album cycle, Fitz and the gang show no signs of slowing down, with a huge US headlining tour featuring Big Data currently making its way through the Northeast. I got the chance to catch up with Keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna for a quick interview to discuss the new single, being out on the road and what has been out of their league.

In recent news, the band put out a video for their recent single, “Fool’s Gold,” that features the freefall that is the end of a relationship. Jeremy explained it as “the fact that even if you love somebody and you’re both trying, sometimes it’s just not the right situation and it’s a real heartbreak.”

The video very artfully brought this idea to life in a very unconventional way for the video. “Let’s just say bring some Kleenex when you watch…I saw the final cut of the video and even I got a little emotional!” he warned.

We also talked about the fast growing popularity of their music, “The Walker” in particular. When asked where the weirdest place he’s heard any of their music, he answered “I think the last few times was in an Uber (Taxi Cab) and the guy would have the radio on or his own personal playlist and The Walker would come on. Also the frozen food section in the grocery store at three in the morning, that’s happened.”

While some are eager for a new album, seeing as they are a year into this album cycle, it might not be for a while. “If you end up with a hit song you could be on the road for quite a long time so we don’t know yet. It depends, we could put out another single or we could go right into the studio,” he said.

“We’ve been very fortunate and lucky with this record but by all indications we could be on the road quite a bit longer with this album. I just see myself trying to survive in the future.”
Check out Fitz and the Tantrum’s most recent album More Than Just a Dream available on itunes and most major CD suppliers.

You can also check them out on Facebook and on twitter @FitzAndTantrums. They’re a staple on my iPod and will be on yours soon! You can check out the full interview at

A name you should know: Jon Bellion

by Glenn Rohrbacker | November 19, 2014

Some people may know Jon Bellion, some may not. He is a 24-year-old musician from Long Island, New York. He grew up in the Sachem School District (as did I) and has been making and producing music since he was a teenager.

Jon Bellion (AP photo)

Jon Bellion (AP photo)

He decided early on to drop out of college and pursue music full time. He was signed to the label Visionary Music Group in 2012. The first song he released on their page was a cover of “The Motto” by Drake. He then went on to produce two albums that were released for free called Translations Through Speakers and The Separation.

Bellion has been recently recognized by the music community for writing “The Monster,” the smash hit by Eminem and Rihanna. He also co-wrote the song “Trumpets” by Jason Derulo and “Holding Out” by Andy Grammer.

Huffington Post, MTV, Billboard, Last FM, and many other notable news sources have recognized him as an emerging artist and one that should be watched.
As he progresses in his career, you can see is the immense detail he puts into his music and his music videos.

One characteristic of Bellion’s music is that there is really nothing else like it. He uses many original sounds, often thinking outside of the box and putting a lot of different sounds together to make an experience that you will not find anywhere else. He combines his incredible singing voice with a surprising range with his rapping skills that give the pros a run for their money. Bellion says that his biggest inspiration has been Kanye West. Kanye fans would be able to notice several examples of this lyrically in Bellion’s music and his production style as well.

Bellion’s most recent release is his album The Definition. Two tracks from the album were pre-released on the Visionary Music Group YouTube page. “Simple and Sweet” is a song that was released over the summer and is about how a special someone is, well, just simple and sweet. The most recent release would be “Carry Your Throne.” This song, along with the music video, is intense and is hard not to get really into every time you hear it. This song is personally my favorite on the album and is great both lyrically and musically.

The track “Pre-Occupied” features rapper Blaque Keyz and is a song that basically sums up what each of them are about, while spitting some pretty clever rhymes. Blaque Keyz is a common collaboration friend to Bellion, as he can be heard on each of Bellion’s albums. “Haunted House” is another great song where Bellion speaks to his love, and thanks her for being there for him. He also knows that its time to forget about the past relationships he has had.

You can download The Definition at and see all of his music videos on YouTube. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @jonbellion.

Bellion is a Long Island musician who is on his way to the top. I have no doubt in my mind that he will be on many more iPods and radios in the near future. He is a true artist, sticking to what he does best and that is something really refreshing to the music business these days.

Why van-dalism in the pop punk scene needs to stop

by The Charger Bulletin | November 19, 2014

“So sorry guys, we have to cancel this show tonight. Our van was recently broken into.” This is a post I read all too often these days.

Light Years is one of the bands that was subject to tour bus vandalism (AP photo)

Light Years is one of the bands that was subject to tour bus vandalism (AP photo)

They go on to detail the instruments stolen, the merchandise swiped, electronics lost and money taken out of their wallets. They start up a kickstarter, announce their PayPal accounts and beg the fans for their dream to keep going.

It’s disgusting. No, not that they are asking us for money, but that they have to go through this to begin with. A band should not have to fear for their very livelihood the second they step away from their vehicles.

Touring is hard; this is a fact. Countless hours on the road in a gas guzzling van with a bunch of guys just trying to live their dream. Vans break down, need new parts, need to stay clean and the passengers themselves need to feed themselves, try to make a profit to jAustify the time they’re spending away from their part time jobs. Having a busted door or window, on top of the laundry list of items stolen from them, can be a major blow to a tour budget or just their own personal budgets to survive.

For some bands this isn’t even a onetime thing; it’s countless. Bands like Light Years have come to terms with their third van break-in within the past few months and other bands avoid certain cities like St. Louis because of their known crime rate when it comes to touring vehicles.

This is not only harming the bands but it’s harming the pop punk scene as a whole. What happens if bands are unable to pay back the items they lost? What happens if bands are touring less because they need to account for the money they would lose on the road? What happens when fear outweighs the passion?

The need for justice and protection for musicians is crucial at this time. People need to be aware of how frequent of an occurrence this has become. If you see something weird, say something; you don’t know if you could be saving a band thousands. Above all, please continue supporting music, live music, local music—what have you. You should never be afraid of doing what you love. The scene cannot handle this for much longer and I don’t want to be there to watch them hit their breaking point.

Local Gigs of the Week

by Ashley Winward | November 19, 2014

local gigs of the week

Toads Place
Nov. 21: Shakedown: The Dead and Beyond with Cabonated Insight and Solistic

Nov. 22: Bright Night 8

Nov. 23: Jacob Whitesides with Dylan Holland, Zach Matari, Alex Preston

The Oakdale
Nov. 21: Face the Music with Bronze Radio Return/ Jeff Pitchell a& Char & Cy Neville

Nov. 22: Dark Star Orchestra

The Space
Nov. 19: Kat Dahlia with Craig Strickland, Louis Cheese and Ian Biggs

Nov. 21: Hiss The Villain with Entandem, Writing in the Skies, and The Oddbodies

Nov. 22: Bandboozle 2014: Sparks the Rescue, The Mike and Mike Band, Five Stories Falling, Caliway, Saving Skylar, Grace Notes, Look to the Stars, The Lively, Keep it Quiet, The Worthwhile Fight and Novelty

Bar (21+)
Nov. 19: Caroline Rose with Brian Dolzani

Album of the Week

by Ashley Winward | November 19, 2014

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | November 12, 2014

The Duo ‘You Won’t’ Want to Stop Listening To 

You Won’t is a duo hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. Composed of artists Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri, You Won’t brings Celtic sounds, complex lyrics and folk song structures together for a very unique musical experience.

You Won’t preformed at Boston Calling Music Festival Sept. 7, 2013 (Photo by Gretjen Helene Photography/obtained via Facebook)

You Won’t preformed at Boston Calling Music Festival Sept. 7, 2013 (Photo by Gretjen Helene Photography/obtained via Facebook)

I was able to speak with Arnoudse about their music, inspirations and future plans.

As a listener, the name of this duo is almost provoking. It’s tempting you to listen, or accusing you of not being gutsy enough.We all had those friends in elementary school who would daunt us about playing hooky, or eating a piece of gum off of the bottom of the school lunch table (okay – maybe I’m the only one who caved into that type of peer pressure), but this duo, strategic or not, has a name that makes you want to listen.

“It was originally the moniker for an avant-garde performance art rock band I formed in high school with my friends Billy and Ian,” Arnoudse explained to me regarding the idea of the duo’s name. “We played one show. I always liked the name though, and kept it in my back pocket for many years until the time came to revive it.”

Boston is a city rich with culture, and the arts, but neither Arnoudse nor Sastri were from the city itself.

As Arnoudse describes it, “Boston itself never had any influence on our music. We grew up in the leafy suburbs, and were rarely confronted with any actual culture. We invented our own around the theater department of the local public high school.”

The first time I listened to the duo I chose a track entitled “Who Knew,” which has a very quirky music video to back-up the satirical, and intrinsic lyrics.

If I didn’t know any background information about either of the members before listening, I would’ve taken a guess that they were a duo deriving from Northern Ireland. Whether or not this (as I described it earlier) Celtic-sound is intentional is irrelevant to the fact that it so unique you simply can’t stop listening.

“There’s been times where I’ve forced myself to sit in a room until I emerged with something resembling a song,” Arnoudse admitted. “But the better ones often seem to start developing when I’m buying groceries or waiting in line at the post office or brushing up against a sweaty stranger on the subway. It seems to work that way for a lot of creative types. Ah, the endless mysteries of the human brain!”

It is easy to tell that You Won’t must’ve had a lot of post office visits and sweaty encounters with strangers on the subway before Skeptic Goodbye, their first full-length debut, released in 2012.

“We have been wrestling with a new album for the better part of a year now and it seems like we’ve got some kind of nelson on it,” Arnoudse revealed when I inquired about any upcoming plans for the duo’s future.

“Half or full I’m not completely sure yet. It’s gonna hit the mat sooner or later though.”

With music as unique and thought provoking as theirs, as a listener it is easy to surmise whom they may draw inspiration from. Coldplay, The Script, Damien Rice; all of the above were my first-listen choices, but it is always better to hear from the artists themselves about the other creative masterminds that set their soul ablaze, if you will.

“We’ve straight up stolen a lot of good ideas from The Suitcase Junket, which is Matt Lorenz’s one-man-band project out of Western Massachusetts. Matt was the first person that got me to sing at an open-mic and he continues to inspire me every time I see him play,” said Arnoudse.

I think You Will (get it?) be hearing a lot from this duo in the future, so it’s only logical to jump on their band-wagon of dedicated listeners before it leaves the leafy suburbs of outer Massachusetts and never looks back.

Calvin Harris releases new album, entitled Motion

by Glenn Rohrbacker | November 12, 2014

Calvin Harris is known for catchy hooks, great beats and tunes that everyone can dance to.

Calvin Harris is a Scottish musician on the rise (AP photo)

Calvin Harris is a Scottish musician on the rise (AP photo)

The Scottish musician is no stranger to the top of the charts and has helped many other singers and musicians get there as well, producing and writing several popular tracks for other performers.

What many people don’t realize is that the voice you hear on songs like “Feel So Close,” “Summer,” and many other of his songs is actually Calvin Harris himself. But alongside of his own voice, he collaborates with a lot of high-profile musicians on his work.

His new album, Motion, was released on Nov. 4. It contains two popular singles, “Blame” with John Newman, and the summer smash hit, “Summer.”

The album currently sits at number six on the iTunes top ten albums list. It has 15 great dance songs that will really get you into a dancing mood. Even if you are not in to house or electronic music, this could be a very good album for you.

The first song on the album is “Faith” and is a simple, soulful song that is very inspirational. Calvin Harris teams up with fellow DJ Alesso for his track “Under Control” that was originally released last October. It features the pop duo Hurts and definitely shows off the great work of all the people on this song. Harris joins up again with fellow UK star, Ellie Goulding on the strong, synth heavy track, “Outside.” This song is another example of how the two artists’ styles fit well together.

Harris goes in a bit of a different direction on the song “Open Wide,” where he teams up with Big Sean to create this provocative track. This is one of the rare times we see Harris collaborate with a hip-hop star. Gwen Stefani is featured on the song “Together,” where she delivers a strong vocal performance over some heavy synth beats.

Once again, Harris takes a new direction on his track, “Ecstasy,” that also features Hurts. This ballad definitely breaks up the album, due to the nature of the genre of dance music to not really have much variation on tempo and feel. The other songs on this album all have a unique flare to them that also stay true to Calvin Harris’s style.

Overall, I would say that this is a step forward for Calvin Harris. His new album, Motion, has several hit-worthy songs that will keep him in the ears of the mainstream public and on their iPods. I am excited to see what Harris delivers next and what direction he will take for the future. As for now, I would definitely recommend Motion.

Pianos Become the Teeth Keep Fans Excited with New Record

by Andrew Lagambina | November 12, 2014

Change can be a good thing, and in this case, it’s for the better. The sonic progress made on this record is something that absolutely no one could have seen coming.

Pianos Become The Teeth is an American screamo band with post-rock influences that formed in 2006 (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Pianos Become The Teeth is an American screamo band with post-rock influences that formed in 2006 (Photo obtained via Facebook)

If “I’ll Get By” off of 2011’s The Lack Long After was a punch in the gut, get prepared to be knocked on your ass. Trading in the desperate screams and yelps of his previous work, Kyle Durfey focuses his energies on a more melodic, but no less heart-wrenching, delivery, previously heard on PBTT’s contribution to their split 7” with Touché Amoré.

This new technique effectively conveys the sadness found within the lyrics. With verses like “Wear me out/Like a resistant heart in absence/Like a sister who’s finally had it/Like a room left open/Just for being kept like some lonely facet,” there’s no denying how dark and yet beautifully written this record is.

This is what “emo” music is, and while I realize that is a three-letter word among many groups, I dare you to find a record more emotive than Keep You.

Production-wise, Will Yip showcases just how masterful he can be, managing to make the band sound as spacious and dreamy as any post-rock band, but as urgent and present as contemporaries such as Defeater or Balance and Composure. In fact, a comparison to B&C would not be misplaced.

Instrumentally, this record has many similarities to The Things We Think We’re Missing, but there is more focus on more ambient guitars and driving bass lines as opposed to TTWTWM’s wall of sound.

The rhythm section is held down by David Haik, who uses the drums as punctuation for these songs, rather than being the main driving force behind them. Obviously the main feature of the record is Durfey’s newfound melodies, and there’s not much more to say besides how amazing they truly are.

In fact, I can’t really find anything to criticize about the overall sound of Keep You. I’d probably go so far as to call it perfect.

I’ve been a huge fan of Pianos Become the Teeth since I was introduced to The Lack Long After and fell in love with the sadness portrayed in those songs. After repeated listens, however, I found the record to be a touch exhausting, almost as if listening was a workout.

“Keep You,” on the other hand, sounds fresh and new and will stay that way for a long time. The last time I had feelings this strong about a record so immediately was my first full listen to The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me (yup, it’s that good).

If you’ve been looking for the perfect fall record, or if you’re hesitant about what record should be sitting proudly on the top of your album of the year list, look no further. What this band has created is a masterpiece, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Anthem Lights Doesn’t Escape from Music

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | November 12, 2014

Anthem Lights recently celebrated an album release and singer Joey Stamper’s twenty-fourth birthday.

Anthem Lights is an American Christian group originating from Nashville, Tennessee (AP photo)

Anthem Lights is an American Christian group originating from Nashville, Tennessee (AP photo)

The band is a four-piece American Christian pop/rock band from Nashville, Tenn. Members include Alan Powell, Caleb Grimm, Chad Graham and Stamper.

They were streaming live for everyone to see them waiting for their release of Escape. It was interesting to see how many fans they have now, and showed how much they care by calling some fans to thank them for the support.

On Oct. 14, they released their third album Escape. In my opinion this album wins me over compared to their other albums. Don’t get me wrong; their other albums are incredible, but something about this album drew my attention. I think this album has a lot more passionate power about the person you really care about and the songs all relate to each other in a similar way. As I listened to the album, these were my thoughts.

“Top of the World:” I liked how they started off their album with this upbeat song. As I listened to the words, I wanted to be, as the title states, on top of the world and at the place where nothing else matters in life.

“Just Fall:” I think this is my favorite song off this album because it’s catchy. This is such an inspirational song as I listened to the meaning of what they sang.

“Run Away:” This is a good song to listen to when you’re feeling down, saying that nothing matters and that you can just “Run Away” and have that good time you want.

“Unlove You:” This is a different type of song on the album that is slower and has the emotional and passionate vibe of feelings.

“Be With You:” This is a straightforward type of song. It’s about that other person who you just want to spend your life and time together.

“Paradise:” This was the first time I listened to this song fully through and I really felt connected by the lyrics and what they are singing. I think featuring Manwell Reyes gave the song that special touch.

“Love You Like the Movies:” I have to say that this is my second favorite song off the album because the melody and harmonies on the song were on point and touching. I also liked the meaning behind the words they were trying to get across.

“Boomerang:” In this song, I thought the tapping in the background gave off a vibe of jamming out and moving to the beats of the tempo.

“I’m Not Going Anywhere:” Once again, having this song feature Manwell Reyes was genius and gave the song that extra push. I liked the instrumental parts of the song that flowed well together.

“Best Thing:” This song has a great tempo that worked well with a slow and steady vibe. It also expresses another message of that person you think is everything in life and you’re so happy to be with him or her.

“Give Me a Lifetime:” I think by ending the album with this song tied everything together by starting off upbeat and then ending with slower songs. This song has a great message and I listened to the song more than once because it was very inspiring.

Anthem Lights is a band of hilarious guys who have extraordinary talent. I have been there for the guys from the start and I am proud of how far they have come.

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