Five for FightingView
Allday is leading a new era in Hip Hop for Australia. Having dropped out of art school to focus full time on music, he successfully lived off stolen sachets of microwave rice for months on end. Oh, and managed to drop multiple mixtapes, slide into triple j’s world famous Hottest 100 Poll with ‘So Good’, debut an EP at #1 on the AIR chart (and #18 in the ARIA Charts), and play a whole bunch of sold out shows and festivals around Australia. Allday’s debut album “Startup Cult” is a blend of broad influences and personal stories.
Thousands joined the cult and helped Allday debut at #3 on the ARIA Album Charts, and #1 on iTunes Hip Hop Charts. A massive national tour sold out within days, months ahead of the shows themselves. The album was nominated at the AIR Awards as one of the best hip hop releases of the year, and won the hip hop category at the Fowler’s Live Awards. With a swag of summer festivals to come, US College Radio picking up on Allday and the album hitting the CMJ charts, Allday’s cult is spreading far…
If you’re into basketball, there is a good chance you’ll see Dameon and Gabe Aranda, founding members of the rock group Aranda, at a game cheering on their home team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. You might even catch the brothers singing the national anthem! Much like the adrenaline rush, feelings of intense passion, and major excitement that being a sports fan will give you, so will Aranda’s latest album, Not the Same. The band has taken their life experiences and the changes they have gone through and channeled all the emotional feelings into a collection of songs that introduce fans to a rebirth of Aranda. The 11 new songs, including one stripped down acoustic and one self-proclaimed “disco-y pseudo rock track”, are each their own piece of a larger story about a journey that overcomes darkness. Not the Same will be your own personal light at the end of the tunnel. Aranda brings their message of hope and optimism to their audience. As Dameon Aranda says, “these songs are about leaving your past behind and moving forward, and looking forward to great new things.”
When done honestly, rock ‘n’ roll can stick with you for a lifetime. It rides shotgun for the whole way, soundtracking those big moments and memories. Once you hear a Citizen Zero song, you remember it.
The Detroit rock outfit—Josh LeMay [vocals], Sammy Boller [lead guitar], John Dudley [drums], and Sam Collins [bass]—deliver arena-size anthems fueled by intricate musicianship on their full-length debut album, State of Mind [Wind-up Records]. Striking a balance between edgy grunge attitude a la Stone Temple Pilots and bluesy alternative expanse reminiscent of Kings of Leon, their knack for a hook immediately resonated with a growing national fan base.
“We really focus on writing great songs,” says Josh. “That’s where the connection comes from. People can see that it’s real. There was no plan B for us. If we did this, it was going to be all or nothing.”
Since the release of their first independent EP Life Explodes in 2012, the band has played alongside heavyweights such as Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Halestorm, Royal Blood, Highly Suspect, and more. “Life Explodes” would win the Detroit Music Award for “Outstanding Rock/Pop Recording” in 2013. As their profile rose regionally, they signed to Wind-up Records in early 2016.
Along the way, they cut State of Mind, a record that heralds their arrival with a bang.
“I think the best music comes from the most honest place,” continues Josh. “Being from Detroit, there’s a no fly zone for bullshit. You have to be real, or the people will know. State of Mind is one-hundred percent who we are.”
“That’s something all of us grew up with,” affirms Sam. “It’s the mindset around here.”
The first single “Go (Let Me Save You)” builds from an eerie melody into an overpowering refrain punctuated by an incendiary guitar lead and hypnotic vocal.
“It’s actually the first song Sammy and I wrote together,” Josh remembers. “It happened right after the Sandy Hook tragedy. I was watching the news, and I couldn’t believe how the cameramen were consciously filming crying parents. It was so wrong. Having gone through tragedy, it made me really angry. I had to say something.”
Elsewhere on the record, “When The Rain Comes” couples six-string fireworks with an unshakable chorus that’s both uplifting and undeniable.
“I always wanted to live in Seattle because it rains all the time,” laughs Josh. “The song is literally about how the rain is relaxing and soothing to me for some strange reason.”
Then, there’s “Love Let It.” Tempering an unpredictable sonic backdrop with another powerhouse hook, it holds a special place in the musicians’ hearts.
“It’s the most personal to me,” admits Josh. “When things were really bad, the song was a way to convince ourselves to let our love for what we do overcome everything else. I ended up tattooing ‘Fight to Love’ on myself because everything was a fight to maintain this dream. We thought it would be unacceptable to give up.”
They never have given up—even in the face of the unimaginable. Just as they began rolling in 2012, Citizen Zero endured a tragedy that would shake their brotherhood to its very core.
“John’s brother Matt was our original lead guitar player,” says Josh. “One day he told me he couldn’t make our session, and I didn’t hear back after. A few hours later, John called and told me Matt had committed suicide. It took a bit to get back on our feet, and I couldn’t even imagine a world where John went on without him.”
“After he passed, I didn’t stop playing,” adds John. “I knew he wouldn’t want me to quit. From the beginning, I had to keep going for myself and for Matt.”
Regrouping, the boys turned to YouTube as they sought out someone to fill those big shoes. Searching “Best Detroit Guitar Players,” they found a video of Sammy. At their first audition, everything clicked.
“As soon as I walked in and heard them warming up, that was it,” recalls the guitarist. “John cracked the snare, and it was on. The chemistry was there right away. I knew we were on to something special.”
It’s going to be special for listeners everywhere as well. Their name ultimately hints at big and very attainable ambitions for the band.
“Every generation has a leader who changes things for better or worse,” concludes Josh. “Citizen Zero represents the faceless citizen. It’s the everyday person no better than any of us. However, that any one individual can change the world.”
“We can be the Citizen Zero in rock ‘n’ roll,” John leaves off. “We can be the guys who help bring back musicianship and unforgettable live shows.”
“What am I to build, if my hands are broken, if I’m not the chosen one?” sings Steven McKellar of Civil Twilight on “Story of An Immigrant.” The foursome are living proof of what happens when you stop worrying about being the chosen one and make music built on both the roots that grew you and the love that keeps you thriving every day. Civil Twilight’s songs embrace every corner of human emotion, balancing delicate, poetic lyrics with sweeping arrangements that touch all the senses: a phrase to make you think; a rolling drumbeat you can feel in your bones; a guitar vamp as illustrative as a picture; a shimmer of keys whose light can nearly be seen and heard. When you listen to Civil Twilight, from their self-titled debut, to 2012’s widely lauded Holy Weather to now, it’s easy to understand why the band has topped five million YouTube views and reached historic success with film and television syncs – because it’s music you can’t shake, that translates experience into moments and creates melodies that become imbedded deep under the skin. We’re all immigrants, in some way, and Civil Twilight’s singing our national anthem.
There was a time when rock radio was dominated by great riffs. The four members of Crobot — Brandon Yeagley (lead vocals), Chris Bishop (guitar), Jake Figueroa (bass) and Paul Figueroa (drums) — have united to bring that back. Blending funk, blues, metal and good old-fashioned rock and roll into a howling vortex of Yeagley’s vocals, Bishop’s guitar and the Figueroa’s backbone, Crobot have crafted an album of endless good time rock hooks that sound as inspired today as they would have on AOR radio in 1974. “We grew up with the same riff rock and it’s seemingly lacking in today’s music. We really seem to like the rock of old and felt that was missing,” Yeagley says. A modern rock band with a sense of humor, as well as their own hot sauce, Crobot has already been making their mark among peers with their wild live performances. But for Crobot, at the end of the day, it is all about the sound. “All I care about is that people walk away after hearing the album thinking, ‘Man, Crobot is the funkiest, heaviest band I’ve ever heard,’” Bishop says. Mission accomplished.
A grammy nod. Numerous world tours. A Las Vegas Residency. Yearly performances at the worlds biggest festivals Digital Dreams, Electric Zoo, Stereosonic, Tomorrowold, VH1 Festival and Feenixpawl has established themselves as respected tastemakers across the electronic music culture.
After a break out 2012 with the release of “In My Mind”, a Pete Tong championed essential new tune, the duo cemented their place as two of Australia’s most prominent exports. Their timeless hit single, released on Axwell’s, iconic, Axtone Records shot straight to number 1 on Beatport, held the number 1 spot on the ARIA Club charts for a record 12 weeks and culminated in a grammy nomination. Following the monumental success of the smash single, the duo was enlisted by Kaskade to remix “Room For Happiness” which led to future requests flying in from major labels Sony & Warner. Their follow up singles “Universe” featuring Quilla and “Destination” again behind the backing of, Swedish House Mafia star, Axwell & Axtone Records received the same outpouring of support by the likes of Tiesto, Martin Garrix, Alesso, Afrojack, Fedde Le Grand, Dirty South and more that Feenixpawl has been accustomed to.
2015 has been the busiest year to date, with the launch of Eclypse Records and Eclypse Radio. “Ghosts” the lead single from Feenixpawl has seen on going chart success and heavy radio play from Evolution, Sirius XM and countless FM stations across America. With “Ghosts” broadcasting nation wide, the duo embarked on a sold out 21 date bus tour Across the U.S. w Breathe Carolina. As 2015 continues to unfold, look out for the plethora of new music ready to be released a jam-packed tour schedule, and the debut of Eclypse events!
Crazy Eyes, the new record from multiplatinum industrial alternative luminary group Filter comes from a place of deconstruction. As a nod to Filter’s debut, Short Bus, the forthcoming release (and Filter’s seventh full-length), Crazy Eyes [Wind-up Records] eschews the signature wall of guitars heard on their last release (The Sun Comes Out Tonight) and breathes with a stark, industrialized menace that’s equally haunting and hypnotic. Richard completely immersed himself in the process after getting off the road in support of 2013’s The Sun Comes Out Tonight—which moved over 8,500 copies first-week, 10 million streams to date and a Top 13 radio track with “What Do You Say.” Ultimately, Crazy Eyes comes back to the fact that Richard remains honest. “I’m completely into this for the music,” he leaves off. “Being yourself is the most important thing. I authentically went places I’d never gone before. That was from my heart. I’m trying to be as genuine as possible to what Filter is. It’s about sounding fucking different, forward, and original.”
Five for Fighting
Five for Fighting’s sixth album, Bookmarks, marks both a return to an earlier time as well as a new musical palette for singer/songwriter John Ondrasik. “Bookmarks is certainly a more modern record from a production and melodic standpoint than my last few albums, though, as usual, it contains my lyrical slant.” On Bookmarks, Ondrasik bounces from the serious to the satirical with one of the most unique and recognizable voices of the past decade. On that Ondrasik comments, “As a singer Bookmarks is the most vocally diverse record since The Battle for Everything. It was a blast to let loose on tunes like ‘Road To You’ and ‘Heaven Knows.’ It was time to put some of the rock back into the rock band.” To close out the set, Ondrasik concludes with the poignant “The Day I Died,” a pure live piano/vocal recording sung through the eyes of a man on his deathbed celebrating “I was alive, the day I died.” A final reminder that with all the commercial success and production bells and whistles, Ondrasik is a simple man at a piano, an Americana singer/songwriter, providing a few bookmarks along the way.
Genevieve is a born singer. As with contemporaries like Sia or Thom Yorke, Genevieve has that rare capacity to channel the physical aspects of her singular voice – the warm clarity of her notes, the wide spectrum of her vocal range, the inventive tonal subtleties – into pure expressive meaning. Rich in texture and multi-layered harmonies, Genevieve’s debut EP Show Your Colors is a triumphant collection of songs that focus on the power of celebrating one’s true self. “I am an emotional being in a world of duality,” she says, and set out to reflect this message within the musical landscape. “I wanted a lot of sonic imagery, a blend of organic and synthetic elements with colorful tones and textures. “ As Genevieve’s songwriting and voice have expanded into a new confidence, so has her sense of self, and it’s time, she says, “to step out, time to be seen and heard.” On Show Your Colors, you can hear the character of Genevieve emerging right before your ears, as a singer, as a woman, as a beacon of empowerment, and as an independent artist with a singular voice poised to change the musical landscape.
For Jillette Johnson the journey has been as integral to her musical experience as the destination. Jillette has been performing live since she was 12, captivating audiences with her sultry, thoughtful piano-driven tunes. The musician, now 26, has spent the last decade cultivating her sound and defining her unique perspective. Jillette brings her impassioned live aesthetic onto her debut album, Water In A Whale, infusing each number with a sense of intimacy and fervor. The songs shift from the light-hearted buoyancy of “Bassett Hound” to the heavy urgency of “Cameron,” showcasing a viable array of musical – and lyrical – inspiration. For Jillette, whose years of experience and practice have set her up for what’s to come, the goal is to bring these songs to life for as many people as possible. “The next year or two I think are wide open, in terms of what amazing things could happen,” the singer says. “And I think it’s just up to me to work hard every day and have a lot of luck. I hope to really build my live show. I can’t get too hung up on what exactly will happen. It’s really just about every day playing my heart out and connecting with fans over human experiences.”
DUBBED “THE ALT-ROCK FRANK OCEAN” BY PAPER MAGAZINE, RYAN STAR IS AN ALTERNATIVE ROCK ARTIST FROM BROOKLYN, NEW YORK.
His music has appeared prominently in films such as P.S. I Love You and hit television shows like The Vampire Diaries, as well as the theme song to Lie To Me. Given his live-show prowess, he’s been tapped to share the stage with many incredible artists, from Imagine Dragons to Bon Jovi to Maroon 5. His 2010 full-length major label debut,11:59, landed at #10 on Billboard’s Rock Albums Chart and #4 on the Tastemakers Chart. In 2012 Ryan’s hit “Stay Awhile” charted Top 30 at Hot AC radio and quickly amassed over 2 million YouTube views.
“People sometimes look at us and have a hard time making the connection between what we look like and the music that we make,” admits Troupe Gammage, main singer, songwriter and keyboardist of the Austin-bred foursome SPEAK, whose youth belies the depth, imagination and expertise of their music. SPEAK’s highly anticipated new album Pedals offers a beguiling mix of fresh experimentalism and confident craftsmanship, splitting the difference between dreamy electronica, hip hop production tricks, rock instrumentation and traditional song structure, channeling their multiple interests into a sound, style and attitude that are wholly their own. The edgy blend of accessibility and inventiveness that drives Pedals has already established SPEAK as a formidable, self-contained creative force, developing its own distinctive body of work and building a rabidly loyal fan base. “I think we finally found the right balance on the new album between wanting things to be unexpected and wanting them to be good songs. With Pedals, we decided to make the most insane, complex music that we could, and the reaction from the public so far has been ‘Oh, it’s pop but it’s also really complex,’ which is exactly what we were going for.”
It started with a homemade computer. Filled with dust and dirty beats, the machine hadn’t connected to the Internet since Silicon Valley was a private practice in Beverly Hills. Yet from it emerged Spirit Animal: a chaotic combination of rock and pop, fueled by the unruly aesthetics of psych and funk. Spirit Animal created a stir with their debut EP, ‘This Is A Test,’ and a pair of tracks — “The Black Jack White” (which surpassed 1 million spins on Spotify) and “BST FRNDS” — that appeared on mtvU. While hype rolls in from Interview, Entertainment Weekly, Earmilk, and Consequence of Sound, the band returned with 2016’s ‘World War IV’ via Wind-up Records. Spirit Animal tears apart what you know and love about your favorite style and rearranges the pieces. The arena-ready antics of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the personality of James Brown, and the modern pop charm of The 1975 combine to make your inhibitions disappear quicker than ten tequilas. You don’t know whether to run for your life or try to hitch a ride. We suggest you do the latter.
Strange Talk are the flourishing melodies heard behind rooftop conversations amongst strangers. They’re also moonlighting as the anthem to your club and festival night. That’s the kind of beguiling juxtaposition that the Melbourne duo, comprised of Stephen Docker and Gerard Sidhu bring to your summer soundtrack. Nestled comfortably between the French disco samples of Daft Punk and the soaring indie aesthetics of contemporary electronic giants like Flume, Strange Talk return with a re-discovered passion that stems from their roots of electronic music production and song-writing. Strange Talk’s latest EP is a synesthetic experience- one that bleeds of golden melodies stacked against a backbone of heavy bass, all tied together with flourishes of electronica. It’s a musical testament of how a duo found their sound and got their groove back, if you will. The ethereal duet, “Painted In Gold,” featuring fellow-Australian artist Bertie Blackman is perhaps the best sonic reflection of the remarkable journey the group have made. “It’s about chasing the dream and all the drama you go through,” muses Gerard. “It’s a reflection of our journey over the last 5 years to get where we are and everything we have been through.”
As far as debut album mantras go, “Be Impressive” is a fantastically simple statement of intent. For Sydney party-starters The Griswolds it proved the driving ideal that would shake off the daiquiri flavoured tropical tones of their Heart of a Lion EP and unite the four-piece’s more refined musical goals. Be Impressive? These 11 shimmering, anthemic tracks are that and more. Be Impressive isn’t just an indie-rock record you can dance to; it’s a record that’ll break and mend your heart, have you dancing with joy. It’s the hedonistic island paradise that’s an escape from all of your worries… before it becomes obvious it’s better to confront them than to run away. Be Impressive is about growing up, finding your own path and dealing with the challenges that presents. It’s about love and loss; spontaneous happiness and devastating sadness. The Be Impressive ethos was a challenge to be true to themselves and make the best record they could. As a result, it’s easy to revel in The Griswolds uncomplicated worldview. “We’re all about melodies, big hooks, choruses you want to singalong to and having lots of fun,” grins Chris.. “That’s what this band, and this album, is all about.” That’s impressive, alright.
It’s actually surprising that when The Revivalists take the stage, the entire planet doesn’t hear them playing–yes, their sound is that big. It’s not just because this band – who have performed everywhere across the country – has seven members and perform with a wide breadth of instruments. It is because there is so much passion spewing out of these guys that it’s completely impossible to ignore them. After seven years of making music together, New Orleans rock hybrid The Revivalists delivered their latest studio album, Men Amongst Mountains. Mirroring the broader themes which connect the individual songs on the album, the recording and instrumentation on Men Amongst Mountains represents the next step in The Revivalists’ ever-evolving depth and maturity. Like the band’s vaunted live shows, Men Amongst Mountains can and will turn on a dime. The gentle gives way to the heavy, the acoustic to the orchestral. Despair becomes hope. Fire becomes light. At times, the obstacles and troubles in our lives can make the world seem impossibly, hopelessly big. Men Amongst Mountains, ultimately, is about the journey that makes us greater than the mountains standing in our way.
When The Virginmarys look at the world, all they see is control. Uncaring governments controlling suppressed masses. Drugs and alcohol controlling the bodies and minds of the vulnerable. Warmongers controlling the fates of entire nations. Record labels’ controlling naïve, trusting rock bands. It’s what fuels the vitality and vitriol of their second album, and it seems, to them, impossible not to address. The album is undoubtedly one of the most impressive, adventurous and outspoken rock records of the year, tackling themes from the deeply personal to the vehemently political with punk force and melodic panache. From the gargantuan cavern riffs of ‘Push The Pedal’ to the epic finale of ‘Living In My Peace’, it’s a record unafraid to scale the barricades and bare its bruises. “It’s like a coming of age and being comfortable in my own skin,” Ally reveals. “Letting go of all that I hold onto and returning to the source of everything, returning home. you’re tempted by your old vices, but then you go home and realize there’s too much to give up because of your family. You’ve always got that and they’ll never take that away from you.” Buy in. Lose control.
“I look around at the world and I see a lack of soul,” says Gustav Wood. “No matter how we choose to communicate, you simply cannot replicate the feeling of sharing a moment in time with another person.” Ones And Zeros is Young Guns’ glorious examination of human communication and interaction. It is an ode to the majesty of single moments: the midnight conversations, the snatches of eye contact that spell doom or joy, the arguments and the nights that explode… they’re the things that define us and our relationships and friendships, the little morsels of time both positive and negative that, when stitched together, become a life remembered. With its new vocabulary that mixes analogue and digital to thrilling effect, Ones And Zeros speaks keenly of a desire to never sit still; it’s a hyperactive child of an album that’s forever pressing buttons just to see what happens. Ones And Zeros is the sound of an adventure, of risks taken confidently and of the search for something new. It is a snapshot of chaotic life itself, but contained within are truths and evidence that there is simply no substitute for reaching out a hand.