Monday, September 1, 2014  
The Charger Bulletin

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | August 27, 2014

Chemistry On & Off Stage; Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt

Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt, two extremely talented individuals from Austin, Texas, are now becoming one as they form a partnership and release their first album together, For Keeps. The release is coinciding with their wedding in October of this year, so the pair has a busy next couple of months! Playing for Keeps is exactly what this talented duo has decided upon with their music and their relationship off stage and out of the recording studio.

Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt (

Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt (

After getting the chance to (virtually) speak with both of them regarding their latest album, it was easy to see that their uncanny chemistry and quirkiness rings true both on and off the record. The two began touring together in 2012, and their spellbinding personalities and music has come in through the ears and settled in the hearts of music lovers everywhere.

“Kiss Me Now” is my favorite song from Carrie & Danny, and I came to late find out that this is Schmidt’s proposal song to Elkin at last year’s SXSW Music Festival. It is impossible to not love these two for their music, their passion, and their love story that they share with all of us through carefully constructed songs.

My first question for the couple was what made them venture into this joint project after their long history of solo careers with Red House Records.

“It grew pretty organically out of the path our touring lives had taken,” Schmidt explained. “When we were always touring solo, it got to where we were never seeing each other, and so we made the decision to try and tour more together. We didn’t want to merge ourselves artistically, and play as a full on “duo”…‘cause our writing voices are so distinct from one another. But we wanted to be together more. So we decided to just song swap every night, and pass the guitar back and forth, and sing with each other. The record is exactly that same format. We just selected songs that we thought intertwined nicely with each other, and around a theme of relationship.”

The album is exactly that. An intertwining of the two unique styles that Carrie & Danny encompass. Each song is almost like a conversation between the two, as if you are a fly on the wall in their kitchen on a Sunday morning while they’re making waffles. You get a front row seat to their separate lives merging into one. With relationship songs today revolving around fear of commitment, meeting in bars, and ending in break ups, it is so refreshing to have an entire album making a statement to prove that love not only exists but also lasts, regardless of the pressures that time and life bring.

When I originally heard the album title, I immediately thought of the saying “playing for keeps,” and I had to ask if this would be the first to many joint projects from the two.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Schmidt.  “We haven’t planned that either way. Honestly, we haven’t talked about it! The title stemmed from that feeling you have, as a relationship matures and deepens, that the stakes get higher and more significant. A lot of the songs on the record were written in times when we were processing the deepening of our own relationship, and pondering big things like makin’ babies and building a home together and coming to union with another person while maintaining your own individual identity. The songs aren’t necessarily about our lives…but those were the big themes in our lives while we were writing, and so those are the big themes that crept into the songs.”

It is impossible not to relate to these two, especially as they speak more about the passion and drive behind each of the tracks on their new album. Who doesn’t fear change a little? Relationships can be scary, especially when the stakes get higher and the love deepens. Carrie & Danny have written an informal manual to blast through your car speakers when you can’t quite put into words what plagues all of us at one point or another. They’ve covered all of the questions that float through the timeline of a relationship.

“For me, it’s an evolving process,” Schmidt responded when I inquired about his songwriting process and his biggest inspirations. “There’s definitely a strong handful of folks who I can distinctly identify as influences, which is different from inspirations, I know. But I would list Mississippi John Hurt, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom House, and Townes Van Zandt as folks who I can hear in my own style. As far as inspiration goes, I might list Gabriel Garcia Marquez as more of an inspiration than any of the songwriters, per se.  It’s maybe more apparent in the solo stuff I’m working on than on this duo record, but his magical realism really opens the outer boundaries for where a narrative can lead, and I find that really inspirational. Musically speaking, I find our personal songwriter community to be an incredible inspiration. Our friends are extremely talented and creative, and are always raising and shifting the bar of what a song can be for me.”

Carrie Elkin (

Carrie Elkin (

“I grew up singing in church, and understood the importance of connection through singing at a very young age,” Elkin answered. “So, I’ve always been inspired by singers that really understand how to deliver a song. Whether it be a solo performance or connection through beautiful harmony work. I think Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou, the Beach Boys, and Paul Simon were my first favorites. I really did focus on the singing more than the songwriting at that point. I didn’t start playing guitar or writing songs until I was in college, and I never learned cover songs. I learned three chords and instantly started writing. It was kind of cool to not have the heavy duty songwriter influence. I think it helped me create my own unique style. I started down this path of being a musician because I loved singing and didn’t feel connected to the universe unless it was a part of my daily life. I realized the importance of the songwriting later on. So it was an evolving process for me, for sure. I find myself drawn to the rawness of people’s art. I think I’m drawn to it because it’s something that can’t be taught. It’s so inspiring to me.”

I asked if the two had this album in mind for a long time coming, both being from Austin, or if they met at Red House where it seemed only right to connect their roots.

“We met at a festival when Carrie was still living in Boston.  It was just fortuitous that she was about to move to Austin, and we became a couple. We became a couple pretty soon after she moved down here,” Schmidt answered.  “I was actually born and raised in Austin, so I’m a local.  She’s a johnny-come-lately.  I don’t let her forget that.  It’s part of being an Austinite…reminding everyone who’s moved there after you that you’ve been there longer.”

“Yes, Danny does LOVE to brag about that!  I grew up in Ohio, so don’t have that much to brag about! I feel like all the Ohians at my next show are going to throw tomatoes at me,” Elkin lightheartedly added. “We started singing together straight out the chute.  When we were in the same place at the same time, we would sing harmonies on each other’s songs. That helped us gain an understanding for the nuance of each other’s songs.  When Danny brings a new song to me now, I feel pretty confident I’m going to know where he wants harmonies and what he’s going to want those harmonies to sound like.  We’re quite connected and sensitive to each other’s songs.  I’d say we grew together as musicians in that way, and then from there started sharing shows and from that came this idea of an album.  I’d say it was a pretty organic process.”

What is the song that really captures their connection as artists and songwriters, you ask?

“For me, it might be ‘Company Of Friends.’ That one is actually Carrie singing one of my songs, I sing one of hers on the record, as well…‘Swing From A Note.’ That stemmed from us missing each other when we were touring individually so much, and so we started to play each other’s songs as a way to stay connected a bit.  The fact that Company Of Friends is a “connection”…about how our relationships and our community are what ultimately forge our identity…just kinda makes the whole thing feel full circle for me,” said Schmidt.

“I would have to agree with Mr.Schmidt on that one,” Elkin added.

Their chemistry is undeniable, and out of all the interviews I’ve done, this is one I wish could have taken place over coffee with these charismatic, lovely people!

I wondered if the two had rituals before live performances that helped them get to where they needed to be mentally in order to perform a solid set.

“I pace around like a maniac, take a beta blocker to try and calm my nerves, and Carrie tells me it’s gonna all be okay and that I’ll make it through,” Danny confided, “then we throw ourselves onto the stage. I don’t like being up in front of people. So this is a funny job for me. Carrie on the other hand, is a force of nature. The audience just really draws off her energy.”

“Oh jeesh, Danny paces and twiddles around on his guitar. I prefer silence. Our compatibility is questionable just before a show!” Elkin joked.

Like everything about this lovely couple and their relationship on and off stage, their album was an organic process that grew and evolved off their own individual styles. By melding their music, they also melded their passions, and their music encompasses this in the strongest and most relatable sense.


It’s time to sit back, enjoy the connection, and let their music speak everything you’ve once thought, or are currently thinking about the love in your life, the fears you face, and the storm you’ve weathered, or are preparing to weather together.




Hunter Hayes breaks world record for a good cause

by Samantha Mathewson | May 10, 2014

Hunter Hayes left New Haven as fast as he came, Friday, May 8, in an effort to fight child hunger and break a Guinness World Record during his 24-hour Road Race. 

Hunter Hayes/ AP Photo

Hunter Hayes/ AP Photo

Hayes played 10 live shows in 10 cities within 24 hours, breaking the record for the most concerts played in multiple cities in a 24-hour period. The record was previously set by Flaming Lips, the rock band who, in 2012, performed eight shows in 24 hours.  

Hayes started his race May 9 at 8 a.m. on Good Morning America, and continued to Boston and Worcester, Mass., Providence, R.I., New London, New Haven and Stamford Conn., South Orange and Asbury Park, N.J., and Philadelphia, Pa.

While addressing the energetic crowd at Toad’s Place Friday night, Hayes promised that, although it was a short tour, he and the band would make every second fun for the audience.

For his New Haven stop, Hayes played four songs: “Storyline,” “Invisible,” and “Tattoo” from his newly-released album Storyline, and “Wanted” from his self-titled album.

Dan + Shay opened the show, playing the perfect set to get the crowd ready for Hayes. They ended with their iTunes top song and video, “19 You + Me.”

Hayes teamed up with ConAgra Foods and their Child Hunger Ends Here program. The program had its own challenge during the tour – to break the record for the most meals donated in 24 hours.

Martin Guitar, Proctor & Gamble, Mercedes-Benz USA, and Ahold USA sponsored the tour, along with Stop & Shop, who gave away free recycle shopping bags and wristbands to guests as they entered Toad’s.  

X Ambassadors Share The Reason Behind Their Music

by Ashley Winward | May 7, 2014

When Sam Harris was growing up, he started out like any music-obsessed kid, sneaking into college shows in his hometown of Ithaca.

X Ambassadors (Photo obtained via Facebook)

X Ambassadors (Photo obtained via Facebook)

“You had to know somebody there to get into them, but yeah I remember seeing some of them. Usually we’d get the big bands coming through Cornell…I saw Arcade Fire play in this tiny cafeteria and there was like 200 people there. The Roots, I Saw Common, Talib Kweli, De la Soul at [Ithaca College], yeah I saw a lot of great shows and it definitely had an impact on me ‘cause that was the one time I really got to see these bands that I idolized come through my town. To see them up close and personal, that was cool because it feels very isolated from the rest of the world, so when the rest of the world kind of came to Ithaca it felt very special.”

Since then, it’s been a wild journey for Harris and the rest of X Ambassadors. Putting out two EPs in a little over a year, you may have seen these guys touring with the likes of Imagine Dragons, Jimmy Eat World, The Mowglis, and Panic! At the Disco on the Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die tour this past winter.

If you’ve never heard the band, their sound is unmistakable. Their first EP, Love Songs, Drug Songs, has this darkness that digs at you with a chugging rhythm. It makes you feel like bouncing to the beat. Their newest EP, The Reason, has a bit of a different vibe to it. It’s brighter but with an overarching theme.

“The reason we wrote that EP is that we have a lot of friends. We’re in our mid-twenties right now and a lot of friends we knew finished college, went to pursue artistic careers and are realizing how seriously difficult that is. A lot of them are finding that their dreams that they dreamed of becoming are not working out, and they’re not going to work out, so they’re changing paths to figure out what’s next. That’s a very scary thing, but a very real thing that a lot of people have to deal with, you know?” said Harris. “When life gets in the way and changes course, it’s crazy, it’s scary, but it can also be exciting! It can be invigorating and vitalizing, and it can teach and show you things about yourself you didn’t know beforehand and allow you to do things you’d never think possible. So that’s a real thing a lot of people we knew were going through and for us. The reason I started writing about that was because we’re in a position where the pressure is on. We’re at a big label, things are starting to build, there’s momentum and what if that momentum stops? This is all we know. All we know is music. This is all we’ve done our entire lives. We’ve all been doing this for so long what if it all fell apart? What’s the plan? So that’s what I wanted to explore and study,” Harris said.

The EP is about a man looking back at his life and tracing it back to where he is. He’s living a suburban life with a suit-and-tie job. He had dreams of what he wanted to do when he was younger, and goes back in time to the beginning when he was a child. It starts on “Free and Lonely” and ends with “Unsteady.” “Shining” is a bonus track.

What I love most about this band is that no matter how big or small the venue, they bring this larger-than- life sound, something that they learned from the music they grew up with. Harris explained, “We all came from backgrounds where we were all listening to the music that first hit us,” Harris explained. “They sounded big! U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay: they all have a really big sound. When you really get down to it though, it’s all about chord structure and simple elements. It’s really for us about experimentation and trial and error, whatever sounds best. We’ve found

lately that you can make something sound really big with just one instrument, you just have to focus on the instrument and getting the right take. You have to get the right guitar line or piano sound or drum sound. A single drum kit could sound so huge, look at John Bonham. You have to allow for and give moments of space too, so we approach it like that.”

Their use of saxophone also adds a unique element to their band that has been growing in music popularity lately. Harris admitted the extent of his playing.

“I played from when I was 10 or 12 [years old] to when I was a senior in high school, and then I didn’t play at all in college. It wasn’t until we graduated in 2010 that I picked it up again when we were going to lay down some horn parts on the EP. I just whipped it out and started playing, and so I started up again. Now it’s become asignature part of our sound, which is really cool. I don’t think anyone out there is incorporating saxophone like we’re doing it right now….in a very basic and mediocre way, but it’s really cool! I’m not technically the greatest horn player out there, but looping technology allows me to build these cool chords to fill a hole in our sound, which is awesome,” he said.

With their headlining tour winding down, the boys are ready to get back into the studio. “After this tour we’re going to start preproduction on our full length [album]. We’ve been writing and recording a bunch. All of The Reason was written out on the road, so we’re constantly coming up with new stuff, we probably have an albums worth of new stuff. We’ve been developing, and we’ll keep developing over the next couple of months. Hopefully in the fall we’ll be out doing another headlining run, but that’s kind of up in the air right now.” Harris said.

When asked to give the music industry and sound recording majors of the University of New Haven some advice, Harris stressed dedication to a career, not just a job. “I’d say the biggest thing about getting a career in this industry is to really treat it like a career. You’re not really going to be making major money immediately. You’re going to be doing a lot of work for free…”




Misterwives bring their soulful vibes to Hamden

by Shannon Livewell | May 7, 2014

WNHU teamed up with local promotional group Manic Productions to put on an incredible show at the Space in Hamden featuring The Mowglis, Misterwives and Finnish Ticket. With a playful name and an even more fun demeanor, opening act Misterwives really stole the show.


“It’s a play on the Mormon term ‘Sisterwife,’ vocalist Mandy Lee explained. “I just reversed the genders, so I married all the guys and they are my misterwives.”

When asked to explain their music in just three words, the band agreed fittingly upon. “Organic, soulful, and colorful,” she said.

Just deeming them a “pop” band would be like taking the bottom out from their sound. Lee’s vocal performance is gorgeous and is similar to Kristen Chenoweth had she taken the band route instead of Broadway. Even the stiffest of people wouldn’t be able to keep themselves from dancing because it’s just so infectious. They currently have an EP out called Reflections with very interesting cover art and a story behind it.

“We had a very small window of time to get EP artwork in so I had to draw it myself,” Lee said. “It was just an idea I had for a while…it’s basically all of our spirit animals coming out of a gramophone. It’s a reflection of us and the gramophone symbolized old world music. It’s trying to convey that there’s no BS to our music. It’s organic, and then coming out of it are all our animals.”

Lee is the elephant, for her “Dumbo” ears she was made fun of for as a child. Drummer Etienne is the octopus because he plays the drums and has a lot of eight symbolisms in his life.

“Etienne sounds like eight, born in October, octo-, it’s all there,” Etienne mentioned.

Will’s love of dinosaurs and pre-music dream to become a paleontologist made him the T-Rex.

“His mom used to bury chicken bones in the back yard so he’d go digging,” Etienne teased.

“When we went to our other two bandmates for their spirit animals, they were like ‘uhhh I don’t know.’ So the humming bird is a little bit of all of us…Then we like to say the gramophone is Jesse because it has a horn on the end and Jesse is a trumpet player,” Lee said, finishing off her description of the drawing.

Etienne added, “I told Mark that he is the hummingbird because it is the only bird that can fly backwards because of its fast wing speed, and he’s constantly going backwards retracing his steps because he loses everything.”

Besides playing music, the band shares a huge love of zombies, claiming they have a solid zombie apocalypse plan to survive. “So we have the Zombie Survival guide book, we watch the Walking Dead,” Lee said. “I’d be Daryl all the way.”

They also believe that living in Riverdale where they’re some of the younger people in the area gives them an advantage, “All the zombies would die of old age.”

When it comes to the very near future, they have a fairly set schedule.

“Yes, we’re going to record our full length album, we’re going to the UK and we’re playing festivals. 24 is coming back so we’re going to watch a lot of 24.”

Be on the lookout for a lot of tweets about their favorite, Jack Bauer. For comments on zombies and more, see the full interview on and stay tuned as we’re updating the site weekly.

Thanks to Misterwives for being such an awesome group to chat with and WNHU for helping to put on such an amazing show.


Taking Back Sunday takes on Providence

by Dylan Rupptrecht | May 7, 2014

Taking Back Sunday surged Rhode Island crowd with a near 20-song set. The quintuplet out of Long Island, NY, hit Providence, RI, at the Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel as part of their spring tour. The alternative rock group has been touring with The Used, Tonight Alive, and Sleepway (led by former Underoath frontman, Spencer Chamberlain) since mid-March following the release of their sixth studio album, Happiness Is.

Taking Back Sunday entered the dark stage of the Lupo’s as multicolored lights randomly struck the audience. They opened with the new, stringy preface from their newest album, Happiness Is. It gave such a pristine ambient pulse on which the crowd gorged. This was right before the preface lead to track three on the new record, “Stood A Chance.” From this point on, nothing could be done to stop the constant swaying and moshing of the audience as Taking Back Sunday continued rocking the show.

It seems TBS fans will never fully be able to expect what changing style and feel the next new album will possess. Happiness Is however, would be the result of mashing all of the other previous albums into an alternative rock stew; the creation being a very mature, poignant record riddled with hints of TBS’s roots and a poppy new seasoning.

Frontman Adam Lazzara has matured so much over 12 years that has seen a rotation of various band mates throughout TBS’s existence. Since the original line up got back together in 2011, the band has released two albums: their self-titled fifth album, and the brand new Happiness Is, both of which sound completely different from each other. At the show, Lazzara belted out tracks from both. Delighted fans sang along to classic TBS hits such as “A Decade Under the Influence,” and “Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team).”

This was my third time seeing them in the past four years, and what stood out the most about this show was how personable Lazzara, as well as his co-singer John Nolan, were to the audience. It was just a nice touch to hear Lazzara explain personal stories associated with both their old and newer tracks. The crowd was super responsive too. Towards the end of their set, Lazzara announced that they were going to skip the stereotypical “band walks out – crowd chants one more song” routine, and just play as many songs as they felt like. This was great as TBS splurged on us with a 19-song set!

Drenched in sweat and absolutely satisfied, I walked away from the concert pining to see Taking Back Sunday all over again.


Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | May 7, 2014

Lenny Kaye’s Positive and Optimistic Outlook for the Future of Music

I write about music all the time. Whether it is an article for the paper, a post for my blog, or a Facebook status pointing out an awesome new song, I feel the constant need to share my opinion on the music happening around us today. That is why it was enlightening for me to attend the lecture hosted by Murray Krugman of The University of New Haven music department, featuring Lenny Kaye.

Lenny the Kaye (Obtained via

Lenny the Kaye (Obtained via

Kaye has worked as a musician alongside the great Patti Smith, a songwriter, a record producer, and a music journalist.

“I’ve never been told to have a certain opinion for an album review,” he said in response to a question asked during his round table discussion this past Monday in the Seton Art Gallery on campus. “I just try to be positive. There is always a secret to an album, you just have to figure it out. I used to pin point certain songs I liked and just focus on them, because out of 12 songs an album, there’s bound to be one you can relate to. I soon realized though that it’s not about the song, it’s about the atmosphere of the album, just like it’s not about a tree, but the forest.”

As someone who is constantly trying to be positive in my album and show reviews, I know how hard it can be to focus an entire piece around a key song; however, I have never really thought about the atmosphere.

“There are certain artists today that are Jello artists,” he said. “There are those generic, just-add-water artists who simply perform into a mold. Then there are artists like Patti.”

Kaye had nothing but great things to say about his good friend and band mate, Smith. He described her as a strong-minded woman who would hold her ground in the toughest of situations, always fighting first for creative freedom when it came to making deals with record labels.

Smith grew up down the street from me in my hometown in South Jersey. Therefore, when he spoke of forming his strong with her over doo-wop music based on where she was from, I could really relate. Growing up right outside of Philadelphia, you are constantly influenced by Philly Soul, be it Hall & Oates or The Stylistics. I had always seen this as a disadvantage for my own career, as if I was born in the wrong decade. That is, until I heard Kaye’s perspective.

“You have to look at artists like Suzanne Vega or Lorde,” he suggested. “When Suzanne was coming about in the 80s she was surrounded by larger-than-life acts, the same as Lorde coming about with the likes of Katy Perry or Pink. This is a time where the audience is in need of a change, even if they don’t know it yet, and when they hear that unique difference from the musical norm at the time, they will push that artist and help them elevate to new heights. I think that’s how Suzanne went platinum.”

It was hard to sit through Kaye’s speech and not feel inspired. He had such a positive, almost spiritual, outlook on music and it’s evolution. This makes him, as he self-proclaimed, a musical historian. He is the co-author of Waylon, The Life Story of Waylon Jennings and is currently working on an album for Waylon’s wife, Jessi Colter. Kaye proved himself in just a few hours, to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Most artists from his generation express the feeling of fear when they look at the music industry today and what it’s become, but Kaye was optimistic. “You all grew up with computers,” he said. “That’s so cool. You have such an advantage and a myriad of technical skills. It will be amazing to see what you all do in the industry and how music evolves in the next fifteen years. I can go down to my basement today and make an album. That is so strange to me, but you virtually have everything at your fingertips. I’m taking a trip to Boston today for a meeting on Colter’s album, and I don’t have to carry ten reels of tape with me to play the tracks. It’s strange, but it’s great.”

Kaye contiuned to say, “I think Rock N’ Roll has ended and I’ll tell you why. Everything that can be done as far as rock music has been done. Now we’re at this new place where bands like The Black Keys are forming. Years ago it would have never been possible for a band to form with only two members unless they were folk with guitars and their voices. It’s exciting for me to see this change.”

It was clear that after

Kaye’s chat with UNH students, they all left feeling positive about their futures and the future of music. This is a man who was born in 1946, and has experienced over four decades of music changes and challenges. I think if there is any opinion I’m going to trust on the forthcoming music industry, it’s Kaye’s. With his Encyclopedia-like knowledge on the decades of music he has lived through, his empathetic personality, and portfolio of music industry involvement, Kaye is a force to be reckoned with.

“You have to look at music like writing about it would confine it. If everything you heard could be described in words, you wouldn’t have music. Chopin’s ‘Nocturne in E-flat Major’ is just a hit single of the 1800’s,” said Kaye.


It’s like they never left

by Ashley Winward | April 30, 2014

We Are The In Crowd unites for a reunion tour after a two-year hiatus.

When I heard that Poughkeepsie natives We Are The In Crowd were going out on a reunion tour, my first reaction was confusion; very confused.

Tay Jardine, singer from We Are the In Crowd (Facebook photo)

Tay Jardine, singer from We Are the In Crowd (Facebook photo)

While the band never broke up, this tour signified them coming back together for their new album release, Weird Kids, after two years without writing new material. Bringing along friends Candy Hearts, State Champs, Set it Off and William Beckett, it was a lineup I wasn’t sure would work as amazingly as it did. A sold out crowd at the Space felt so intimate with the venue being as small as it is.

Candy Hearts opened the show with their brand of pop rock that they like to describe as “Punk/Indie/1995.” The year 1995 was picked because simply, “I felt like it was just like right in the middle of the 90s, actually I literally just picked the middle cause we’re very influenced by 90s music,” said singer Mariel Loveland.

Seeing Loveland performing after getting to talk to her on a deeper level was truly inspiring. She participated in a panel at the University of New Haven for women in the music industry and really loved the experience. “I thought it was wonderful. It was definitely my first time speaking in front of people about my experiences. I’m very into blogging and writing, but speaking was new. I was a little bit nervous, but I really liked it. I would definitely consider doing more stuff like that.”

Among my favorites they performed that night was their newest single, “I Miss You,” which Loveland cites as the happiest song she’s ever written.

State Champs shifted the night right back into my pop punk roots with Derek DiScanio’s stage presence that is unlike any other. I was concerned the tiny venue stage couldn’t hold all the movement he does when he paces back and forth to the lyrics. A lot of the set was off their album The Finer Things, which guitarist Tyler Szalkowski ensures has no themes, but a message all the same.

“There are no themes. Themes are stupid we don’t like themes; however, there are underlying themes in each song. We didn’t try to fit a mold. We write songs about what happens to us. If you can relate, that’s sick; great. If you can’t, I’m sorry. It’s a very genuine record, all the songs are very real. We will tell you about them if you ask. I don’t know; there is no theme, but what I hope people take away from the record is that they don’t feel so alone, you know? If someone feels like there’s no hope left, people tell us that our band saved their life. I don’t agree, I think you save your own life, but I think we can help and as long as you don’t feel so alone; as long as you feel a little bit better about your situation, but that’s what we want them to take away from the record,” said Szalkowski. If you haven’t picked it up yet, the new album is certainly something to check out.

Set it Off personally had the greatest set for me. It was my third time seeing them and for this tour they decided upon a new format for their set. They perfected their set list around a story of a bank robbing Bonnie and Clyde-esque couple, weaving their songs into the story. The transition from one song to another was seamless, and the ability for lead singer Cody Carson to tie everything together with his special blend of theatrics was incredible as always. I also loved how they entered the stage, all in black hoodies and red masks, except for Carson who came on in his usual dapper vest and button up shirt. What is so special about a Set It Off performance is the fire they bring; giving every song and every performance their absolute all. Ending the set with the song, “Partners In Crime,” tied together the entire concept and had Carson crowd surfing with his fans despite the dangerously low ceilings. William Beckett also came out for a guest vocal spot, which was a total shock to me!

Beckett then went on for his own solo set. Being originally from the band The Academy Is, he isn’t new to the idea of touring, however being a solo act has been a lifestyle change on the road. “I’m definitely not a stranger to being on stage alone. I’m comfortable doing that, it’s just a different performance. When I’m with a band, I go kind of crazy, that side comes out of me more and now solo I can talk more, say what I want to say, interact and talk about things that I would never really talk about if I had a full band setting. It would just be awkward. Like me sitting there telling a story, while everyone is sitting around waiting to play the next song. I miss the comradery of the dudes, at the same time I meet all these new friends, and since being solo I’ve definitely made more friends than I ever did with the band. Like eight years with the band, and I’ve cultivated more friendships being solo because you’re more thrusted into needing to be social. I’ve always been a pretty social person, but when you’re in a band you’re comfortable with your crew, you’re comfortable with your band mates, you’re comfortable on your bus, you kind of just stick to that, that bubble. So now I’m forced to be a little more outgoing person. It’s been interesting,” said Beckett.

I think that while I love all the music The Academy Is put out, I love seeing Beckett on his own because it allows him to truly shine and be himself. Carson of Set It Off performed during Beckett’s set, confirming my suspicions of a “bromance.”

“Oh it’s not just a bromance, it’s a #bromance. It’s a big difference, it’s definitely #bromance status for us. Yeah, I just love that dude and we’ve become really good friends and really honest with each other and I feel like it’s cool to meet someone like him who’s relatively coming up,” said Beckett. “It’s like that band is definitely on the rise, and I feel like I see a lot of myself in him when I was in Academy, he’s so ambitious, he’s got such a great vision, he’s an extremely talented front man. Aside from all that he’s just such a good dude. We’ve become really close friends and I’m really happy about it.”

Finally, We Are The In Crowd took to the stage. One thing I thought was really interesting about this tour was their Meet and Greet package, the “Meet, Greet and Eat.” Not only did fans get to hang out and meet the band with this VIP ticket option, but they got to eat with them, giving the experience an even more intimate vibe.

Taking to the stage, singer Tay Jardine proved yet again why she is such a prominent player in the pop-punk community. Her vocals were on point and her crowd interaction was great. She loves to get right in with the fans and sing with them. Singing hits new and old, I got to hear all my favorites while finding new ones to love off of Weird Kids. The song from the entire set that got my attention was “Windows In Heaven;” a powerful ballad about Jardine losing her father. It certainly led to a lot of tears being shed, including my own.

All in all, the Reunion Tour was one of the better line ups I’ve seen this year. It was diverse, yet they all shared a common bond of great stage presence and powerful vocal performances. For full interviews from Candy Hearts, State Champs, and William Beckett check out


Some childhood classics turn 20

by Ashley Winward | April 30, 2014

As I recently turned 21, I got a little taste of what being “old” might just feel like. I used my birthday money to pay off my credit card, had a nice quiet evening with my family and boyfriend at a comedy club, and got my haircut. Okay, I’m not your typical party girl either, so this was actually a fun day in my book. Anyway, what I think truly made me feel old was stumbling upon this list of 36 albums that turned 20 this year, courtesy of Buzznet.

Some Childhood Classics turn 20

Here are 36 albums that might just make you feel as old as I do right now:

1. Weezer, Weezer (The Blue Album)

2. TLC, CrazySexyCool

3. The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die

4. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral

5. The Lion King Soundtrack

6. Green Day, Dookie

7. Ace of Base, The Sign

8. Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

9. Boyz II Men, II

10. Beastie Boys, Ill Communication

11. Nas, Illmatic

12. Dave Matthews Band, Under the Table and Dreamin

13. Portishead, Dummy

14. Tori Amos, Under the Pink

15. Oasis, Definitely Maybe

16. Sunny Day Real Estate, Diary

17. Aaliyah, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number

18. Beck, Mellow Gold

19. Mary J. Blige, My Life

20. Outkast, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

21. Blur, Parklife

22. Hole, Live Through This

23. Jeff Buckley, Grace

24. Da Brat, Funkdafied

25. Liz Phair, Whip Smart

26. R.E.M., Monster

27. Method Man, Tical

28. Reality Bites Soundtrack

29. Guided by Voices, Bee Thousand

30. Massive Attack, Protection

31. Pearl Jam, Vitalogy

32. Brandy, Brandy

33. Ween, Chocolate and Cheese

34. Soundgarden, Superunknown

35. Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas

36. Live, Throwing Copper

Half of these albums defined my childhood. Notable favorites include Weezer, Green Day, R.E.M and Live. I hope this might inspire you to go seek out some classic “oldies” today.


Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | April 30, 2014

Blake Morgan respects the music

“Sometimes what looks a lot like ‘inspiration,’ later is really just ‘desperation’ or ‘necessity’ at the time,” said Blake Morgan when I inquired about his inspiration to start up his own global music company.

Blake Morgan (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Blake Morgan (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Morgan is a musician, singer-songwriter, producer, and owner of the record label, ECR music group. “I had to make a difficult decision to free myself from my long-term major-label record deal, with Phil Ramone and his N2K/Sony label. I thought I was going to be with that label my whole career, but when it became clear to me that that label was going to do more harm to my career in the end than help it, I had to get out,” he continued. “Phil and I remained friends right up until the end of his life, and it turned out to be the right decision. Emotionally, I was out of options––I couldn’t do what I’d done before with another major label deal––so it was really necessity more than anything.”

As a musician, I was shocked by Morgan’s continuation on the subject. “I swore that the first rule of the label would be that all the artists would own their own master recordings 100 percent. And they always have. Since I launched the label on my laptop all those years ago, we’ve grown and flourished to become a global music company, ECR Music Group, distributed in 110 countries around the world.”

Allowing an artist to own their own master recordings 100 percent is unheard of and something that I believe has set Morgan apart from every other music company and label in the world. I felt it had to be difficult for an artist to release an album under their own label for the first time when they are used to so routinely releasing music under a label they basically “work for.” Therefore, I inquired about Diamonds in the Dark, an album that was released in 2013 under ECR Music Group.

“For me, it was the fulfillment of a dream; that I could make the record of my dreams, for the label of my dreams. I guess all I had to do was build that label myself, in the end!” Morgan said. And being the selfless man that his background story proves him to be, he finished by saying, “I feel this way about each and every one of our records. We have two new records coming out very soon, by Melissa Giges and Janita, and I’ve worked on each of them for almost two years. Each! So these albums really mean a lot to us, every one of them.”

When I asked Morgan about his largest musical and personal influence he said, “There’s no artist or band that’s meant more to me musically or personally than The Beatles, ever since I was a kid.”

And here it is! The best piece of advice I think I have ever included in any of my articles, especially if you are a music major here at the University of New Haven desperately searching for a “practical” career in the industry that you love.

“The world is going to tell you that the profession you want to pursue, being an artist, isn’t ‘practical.’ It isn’t realistic or maybe even worthwhile. I hope you don’t listen to those voices, and instead, listen to your own. I hope you go for it, wholeheartedly,” said Morgan, “Being a musician is just as challenging and rewarding as any other profession. I believe that artists should be paid for their work the same as other professions. I wrote an article about this very phenomenon for the Huffington Post last December, following an experience I had in returning to my own high-school for Career Day.”

An inspirational response like this coming from such a respectable music mogul in the industry was enlightening for me to say the least, and I can only hope that many of you take the same amazing outlook on the career you have a passion for from this man’s experienced opinion.

Morgan is currently running his I Respect Music campaign, aiming to get music recognized as a real profession rather than the hobby our world still unfortunately sees it as. “Congress hasn’t passed that bill yet and in fact, Pandora has (at least for the moment) abandoned their own signature legislation that would lessen artists’ royalties. This is, in my opinion, 100 percent because artists and musicians rose up and stood together to say, ‘enough is enough.’ I truly think the folks at Pandora were not expecting to be called out on their ‘smoke blowing,’ and didn’t expect musicians to be as vocal and courageous as they have been,” Morgan explained to defend his campaign.

“My email exchange with Mr. Westergren [Pandora’s founder] was the moment when I personally decided that enough was enough, and I saw my chance to speak up about what Pandora was trying to do. I’m glad I did it. Check out Add your name to our historic petition to Congress. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see the amazing photos people have been posting and Tweeting by the thousands, each holding up a sign that has the #IRespectMusic hashtag. So add your own!” Morgan suggests for students who believe it is right for artists to get paid for Internet radio play the same as any other medium.

With such an amazingly busy schedule, it is hard to figure out what keeps Morgan so motivated. But is there really a difference between motivation and lack of alternatives? “Honestly, what’s the alternative? Give up? Give out? Give in? These are not options. And not every step is an amazing stride by the way; it’s just the next step,” he explained. “I find that the harder I work, the better I get at each of these steps, and before I know it, I’m closer to where I want to get to.”

So there you have it. Sometimes doing the “right thing,” because you’re following your gut is the hardest thing, and your motivation really comes from not wanting to fail more than it does from wanting to succeed.

“Well, I wonder if this actually might be it right now: this period of my life where I get the chance to talk to a student just like you about these things,” Morgan flattered me by stating when I asked him to state an event that really made him feel like he belonged in the crazy world of the music industry. “These last months trying to do my small part in fighting this fight alongside artists and musicians has been extraordinary, and inspiring. I think I’ve connected now with a different term, ‘music profession,’ and become deeply willing to fight for that.”

I will leave you with the most inspiring and thought provoking response, one that, especially if you are a music student here at UNH looking to pursue a career and wondering where to start, will inspire you for sure.

When I asked Morgan if he had any advice for those wanting to get involved in the entertainment industry he said, “Don’t go into the entertainment world. Go into the music world, or the art world, or the painting world, the writing world, the sculpting world, the comedy world, or the choreography world. The only person I’d recommend you try to ‘entertain’ is yourself.”


Breathe Carolina impresses with Savages

by The Charger Bulletin | April 23, 2014

By: Carol Simpson

Contributing Writer

Breathe Carolina / Photo Obtained via Facebook

Breathe Carolina / Photo Obtained via Facebook

Breathe Carolina’s latest and greatest release Savages is an electrifying album and a hit from beginning to end. The eleven-track album features strong electronic beats with fresh melodies, while still carrying the punk edge that keeps Breathe Carolina relevant on the alternative scene.

The first track, “Bury Me,” hits hard and brings the high energy immediately. The dark melody contrasting with the bright rhythms makes it a great song. It’s a great starting point for the album. “Bang It Out” is a fast-paced pop hit featuring Karmin. This one is one of my favorites on the album; it’s also the strongest dance hit on the album. It could be the anthem for any party. If anyone ever wants a summary of Breathe Carolina’s overall sound, this would be the song to listen to. The chorus reminds me of their past hit “Blackout,” which is an old favorite.

The album isn’t only made up of intense dance songs; it also brings a few subtler tunes to the table. “Please Don’t Say” has a guitar intro that brings a Mumford & Sons vibe. The song eventually brings in the synths and electro, but the balance makes it an easy-going song. “Chasing Hearts” is another one of those mellower tunes on the album. “Chasing Hearts” features Tyler Carter, frontman for Issues, and brings an RnB vibe to the album. It’s certainly different from the other songs on the album. It seems a bit out of place, but Carter’s vocals make it tolerable.

The title track, “Savages,” is a clean, pop hit. It’s the party tune that shows that Breathe Carolina is trying to have a good time and bring the good times to their listeners.

“Sellouts” is a rough and tough electro metal hit featuring vocals from Danny Worsnop from Asking Alexandria. It’s definitely another one of my favorites on the album. Breathe Carolina combined dynamic elements to create a great song. The song’s heavy elements resemble Bring Me The Horizon’s Sempiternal sound, but it works, and Breathe Carolina has molded it into something new.

Savages does not only have heart pounding tracks, but also mellowed out tunes to help ease the dance vibe, while still carrying strong electronic elements.

Breathe Carolina hit all of the right spots with this album. It shows growth into a more polished electronic entity. They surely face a big summer ahead on the Vans Warped Tour with this album leading the way. Underrated alternative electro is the only way to describe Breathe Carolina before Savages.

Take a chance and listen to this record, it is sure to catch your attention and will probably make you want to dance.


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