Ray GotIt Justin Barnett

Interview with Ray GotIt by Justin Barnett

I drive to Charlotte and meet Ray at a mansion where he’s shooting his latest music video. The vibe is electric. His family and team are there cooking food and hanging out. Everyone’s super cool, chill, and welcoming. I take out my camera, grab some shots, and talk with Ray about where he’s headed next.

Ray GotIt is a rap artist living in Winston-Salem, NC. He’s released two mixtapes and has a full-length on the way. You can find his music on Spotify, Apple Music, or Spinrilla, where you can download his mixtapes for free.

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Noted in this interview are Justin Barnett (JB) and Ray GotIt (RGI).

 

JB: What’s been up with you?

RGI: Chasing a bag and preparing myself spiritually, mentally, & physically for my flight to Phoenix Arizona. A lot of changes. Ready to work with my new record label and
produce some great music. I’ve been on a promotion tour for a few weeks building my
following, but I’m ready to get back to work in the studio.

Ray GotIt NC

JB: How has your location affected your music?

RGI: It’s better for me in some ways. I’m able to make music that’s more relatable to the
masses since leaving home. The more I take in, the more I have to give to my fans.

JB: How has your traveling with the music been?

RGI: Great. It’s no feeling like gaining new fans and supporters who enjoy good music. You often get more support on the road over where you’re born and raised. I suggest every artist travels, whether you have a deal or not. Everyone you start with won’t make it to the end but you have to trust the process and move forward everyday.

“It’s always better to choose something over not choosing anything” —RGI

Ray GotIt Video Shoot

JB: What inspires your decisions in production?

RGI: I’m all about the vibes and energy of a beat. I like to kick back, smoke, and let the
instrumentals play. I choose with my heart, not my mind. I’m a storyteller, so I put pain
and passion on all my instrumentals. No trap rap. Everything heartfelt.

JB: What’s the story behind your name, Ray GotIt?

RGI: Honestly, the name came from just being a guy who ALWAYS finds a way to work
things out for others. Don’t matter what it is, I GOT YOU. “Man with the plan” is what
many called me. I often put others’ happiness before mine, and I used to take pride in
making their day even when I was in bad situations personally. I haven’t always had the
best solution or methods, but I’ve always cared enough to give those around me “the
best of me,” period. Effort is everything. I also made good money hustling in the streets
for several years before my first record deal. That gave the name “GotIt” a different
meaning to the public that also fit my life and what I had to offer to others. Nowadays I
feel God has blessed me with many talents and has chosen me to help change HIS
people through music.

Ray GotIt Music Video

Ray GotIt Photoshoot
Ray GotIt being filmed by his personal photographer, Antonyo Evans

JB: What impact do you want your music to have?

I want it to cause people to believe in themselves! I make music for those who are down
but NOT out. My music’s all pain/struggle mixed with positive messages. I need people to listen and meditate. Life has been a struggle for me, I just look better than what I been
through.

JB: If you had the choice to do a cross-genre collab with any famous artist, who would it
be?

RGI: Rihanna or Chris Brown

JB: What are some “bucketlist” type goals you have for your music career?

RGI: Billboard charts and getting booked overseas.

“Life has been a struggle for me, I just look better than what I been through.”

JB: Can you give us a hint on what’s next from Really Getting It?

RGI: Major flight to AZ up next… Huge video dropping on WorldStar this month… A lot of community events are being put in place this year for the kids who are less fortunate, sponsored by Gotit Ent. It’s time to show why God chose me!

Check Ray GotIt out on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and YouTube.

Ray GotIt Spotify

Renowned Canadian Act ROSE CORA PERRY & THE TRUTH UNTOLD appears at Twin City RibFest : Artist Spotlight by Ross Barnes

An Interview and Artist Spotlight with Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold

Hot off their Los Angeles debut at the legendary Whisky a Go Go, award-winning Canadian rock trio Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold are giving hometown and international audiences alike a taste of their high energy and refreshing modern rock style this spring/summer.

Their LA show marks the beginning to what the group has deemed their 2018 “Canadian Invasion” tour in support of Perry’s latest album, Onto the Floor. Other boastworthy appearances have been confirmed, including: Vans Warped Tour (Toronto), International Pop Overthrow (Chicago), Jersey Shore Festival (New Jersey), East Coast Music Conference (Norfolk VA), and their North Carolina debut at Twin City RibFest.

Founded in 2005 by promoter Allen McDavid, Twin City RibFest prides itself on offering a “whole ‘nother type of ‘cue; something beyond Lexington style BBQ.” Designated as the Triad’s premier BBQ festival, the Twin City affair annually attracts thousands of BBQ enthusiasts with its champion pitmasters, marketplace, kiddie attractions and outstanding live music.

All ages are invited to attend and admission prices are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and active military, and free for children 12 and under. This 2018 RibFest runs from Thursday, June 7th, beginning at 11:00 am until Sunday, June 10th, ending at 7:00 pm at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds (421 27th St NW, Winston-Salem, NC, USA 27105).

 

Noted in this interview is interviewer Ross Barnes (RB); singer, guitarist, and songwriter Rose Cora Perry (RCP); drummer Tyler Randall (TR); and bassist/backup vocalist Amber Gorham (AG). This interview took place on May 24th, 2018, over email correspondence.

(Editor’s Note: Responses are presented largely unaltered—emoticons and all.)

RB: How did you first create Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold? How did you all meet, and have you played in musical groups before this current project?

RCP: The Truth Untold was formed in 2016 in conjunction with the release of my sophomore solo album, Onto the Floor.

I had been working on the cd for a couple of years and throughout that process the sound and direction of it evolved considerably. Accordingly, when it was all said and done, I didn’t feel doing a solo tour with only an acoustic in hand would do the material justice.

That’s when I first recruited Tyler via a local musicians group on Facebook. We clicked right away in terms of musicality and band direction and toured as a “reverse White Stripes”-esque project for just over a year.

Amber came into the picture when she was hired to do our live sound for a charity performance in our hometown. We adored her professionalism and working with her so much that we asked her to become our live sound tech and took her on the road with us to our Nashville Summer NAMM debut as well as when we opened for SmashMouth in Pittsburgh last year.

It didn’t take long for us to realize we wanted her as a permanent fixture in our band family.

We had sampled a rough demo of her vocal capabilities from her previous band one day coming home from a gig and I immediately knew her voice would mesh well with mine. We figured it didn’t make much sense for her to merely sing backups so we took it upon ourselves to teach her to play bass. Her third gig was at The Whisky a Go Go this January during NAMM week. No pressure right?

Prior to this band, I found success as the frontwoman for two rock projects: HER (an all-girl pop rock band formed with high school friends) and Anti-Hero (a grunge/alternative quartet).

Anti-Hero got a snazzy record deal and performed at major events including Vans Warped Tour in the early 2000s. I’m beyond excited that The Truth Untold is picking up just where that band left off and will be taking to the Warped stage too this summer.

 

TR: I have played in several musical groups before this band: one as a bassist and in the others as a drummer. I previously toured the East Coast with my last project. There were many good times to be had, along with many beautiful places to be seen.

 

AG: While working as their live sound technician, after a grueling gig Rose asked me about my own experience as a musician and a singer in past bands and if I had any audio recordings. I did have a demo that wasn’t quite finished but she liked my vocals in it, and they decided to ask me if I would be interested in learning a 13th instrument. 

I said, “Sure but I’ve never played bass before and I don’t have any gear.” Right away they said that was a non-issue and we started practicing, with them teaching me bass and Rose coaching me on vocals. 

There’s always going to be good and bad experiences of joining and collaborating with musicians. You get to know their quirks and styles and you start learning “who” they are as people and opening yourself up to them. But it’s a really beautiful thing connecting with someone through music and I’m grateful I was able to join Tyler and Rose as a member of The Truth Untold.

RB: How long have you all been playing together? How has your time together, playing as musicians, developed your synergy and your stage performance?

 

RCP: Tyler and I have been playing together now for about two and a half years while Amber is still the “band baby,” having just joined the project officially (and picking up the bass) about eight months ago.

Working with Tyler and Amber has honestly been a dream come true. I’ve been in previous bands with talented individuals, but a lack of professionalism, egos and/or a focus on the WRONG things over music (namely drugs and groupies) has always gotten in the way of my former projects reaching their full potential. I honestly feel this time I’ve got it right and I can say with absolute certainty working with both of them has made me a better musician and vice versa.

Tyler is 100% to blame for reigniting my love of distortion, while teaching and coaching Amber on bass and vocals has allowed me to hone my crafts further too. The most important part though is that we all genuinely like each other as people and are equally passionate about music. I believe that that shines through tremendously in our performances.

 

TR: I think we help each other grow as musicians and push each other to be better. 

 

AG: Our synergy and stage performance has been developed in our time spent rehearsing and figuring out what worked and what didn’t with our live arrangements.

Playing together is a very positive time for each of us and has allowed all of us to not only find what works for us as individuals but as a band. It’s a great experience and we love that our energy as a band leaks out and reaches the audience so they can feel what we feel.

RB: What is the process through which you write your songs? Is it a collective effort where music and vocals are written simultaneously or do instruments come first or do vocals come first?

RCP: It always starts with a melody and a hook. As a singer first and foremost, I deliberately structure my songs around my vocal lines. Once I have a tune that sticks in my head, I put pen to paper and start brainstorming lyric ideas.

My lyrics are inspired by my mood and personal experiences and/or events that have struck me emotionally. Songwriting, for me, is a very organic process and I never force a song if it’s just not there or if it’s not ready to be completed. Equally, I don’t believe in being confined by “structure.”

If I’m feeling a random tempo change in the middle of a song, so be it. If I want to write an epic 7-minute ballad, damnit I’m gonna. Art is about inspiration in my view and I don’t think it should ever be anything but genuine, raw and authentic.

The last individual step in my songwriting is charting out the chords on guitar. Once that’s figured out, the other instruments come into play and collectively arrangements are created in which we play off of each other’s strengths and ideas.

RB: Who are your musical influences? What artists inspired you to get into music?

RCP: Being a classically trained vocalist who once aspired to be on Broadway but instead found herself inadvertently recruited into a rock band has lead to—as I’m sure you can imagine—quite an extensive and diverse musical library. From Metallica to Loreena McKennitt to Norah Jones and Madonna, I listen to it all and am influenced by it all. I’ve gotten a ton of Alanis comparisons (perhaps because of the Canadian connection) and I’m TOTALLY okay with that as she was definitely a big influence growing up and is a tremendous vocalist and songwriter.

During my formative years of vocal training, my biggest inspirations by far were Sarah Brightman and Loreena McKennitt. Their voices are flawless and their tones are pure and beautiful. Anytime I listen to either of them, I’m completely spellbound. I hope to be that good one day.

When I became an angsty teenager searching for my rock sound and identity, I was absolutely taken by Nina Gordon and Louise Post of Veruca Salt. From the first moment I saw the music video for “Volcano Girls,” I was like “I wanna do that. I wanna be like them.” Equally, Nicole Hughes of Scratching Post (a killer band from my hometown) was one of my major teen idols for not simply her rock’n’roll badassery but further because she became a mentor to me as I began to teach myself the ins and outs of the music industry.

I feel honoured that we’ve remained in touch to this day and I still greatly admire what she’s accomplished for herself and the band she presently manages, Courage My Love.

TR: Currently my musical influences are: Travis Orbin, Mike Mangini and Intervals among many others.  There weren’t really any artists that inspired me to pick up an instrument. Instead, it was in part due to my friends playing around me and me getting the “musical itch.” Not to be confused with other types of itches.

AG: There’s a wide range of artists from across all genres that have influenced me: from the classics like Beethoven and Mozart, to Celtic artists, rock artists and metal acts. Great storytelling and connecting through music has always been what inspired me to pick up and start learning to sing or play an instrument—the lyrics and the emotion behind every note.

Artists like My Chemical Romance brought me out of my shell by relaying that there are others just like me out there and to not be ashamed. They gave me inspiration to play even when facing rejection and to constantly learn so you can be that guiding light for someone else out there.

RB: Do you have any favorite shows you have played? Least favorite? Have you had any nightmare shows while playing on the road? If so, how did you overcome them?

RCP: I think we will all likely respond with the same answer to the first part of your question: that performing at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood this past January was the most incredible experience of our musical journeys to date and it was a sincere honour to be accepted as equals among rockstars. We are so very honoured that we had this once-in-a-lifetime experience and it goes without saying that playing a club like the Whisky is on the “bucket list” for any indie band.

There have definitely been some “dubious” performances along the way but bad gigs are simply the nature of working in this industry and are something that everyone—whether signed to a major label or indie—goes through. Even the best bands in the world playing at the best venues in the world can have off-nights or off-experiences.

Promoters stiff you. Other bands on the bill can be assholes. Tech problems abound. You show up to your gig where you were promised a relaxing hotel stay prior to taking the stage, only to discover said “hotel” is nothing more elaborate than an ice fishing hut with zero ventilation (it’s 30+ degrees out) and is located so close to the sound system that it vibrates every time anything remotely musical occurs. Oh and that soundcheck will be taking place at 6 am, one hour after you’ve arrived from driving through the night. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything but I’ve heard about such things happening 😉 Lol.

I think the most important way to combat the “unpredictability” of gigs is to always prepare for the worst: what that means is that you should be so tight as a band that it doesn’t matter if your drummer’s kit sets on fire and your bassist gets tangled in her patch cords you will be able to keep playing.

Secondly and perhaps MORE importantly, professionalism is key. Even if everything goes wrong and you are somehow allotted with the blame, be courteous, nice and willing to try and solve the problem. Just cause someone is being unreasonable toward you doesn’t mean you need to return the “favour” nor will doing so help you in the long run. It sucks, but sometimes you gotta just “rock past it.”

TR: My favourite show so far was probably the Whisky a Go Go.  There have been a few lousy shows for sure, although I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of it.

I think if a band is tight enough, they should be able to compensate for most things that can go wrong in a live setting.

I try to have backups of equipment items that are more prone to breaking as a strategy. Should you find yourself playing live and something breaks, in my opinion, it’s best to finish the song before venturing off to look at the damage.

AG: The Whisky a Go Go would be one of the gigs that comes to mind that just made me go, “Wow. I want to be like this all the time. I want to feel like this and constantly play like this.” It was amazing.
There are always good and bad experiences with equipment but we make the most of it and practice so that we can play consistently and help inspire others. We know we have each other’s backs and that’s what helps us get through trying gigs. But the bad experiences—as much as they may not be ideal at the time—are also what make the great gigs that much more memorable.

RB: When you hear your music, how would you describe your vibe? Describe a scene where one of your songs would be the soundtrack. For example, a lake in the middle of a forest; a late night in a bar with friends ready to part ways; chaos of a busy city.

 

RCP: The unappreciated, overlooked, beaten down and underemployed masses in a totalitarian regime realize their worth, unify their efforts and revolt.

TR: Night time scenes driving through a city or maybe a chase scene in an adrenaline-pumping action movie.

AG: I would have to say it really depends on the song. Each one evokes so many different emotions through their melodies, but “hope” is a theme that is heard throughout…so something “hopeful” 🙂

RB: This one is for each member of the band. Name your three favorite musical artists you’ve ever played with or seen live.


RCP:

Played With: Scratching Post, Priestess, Jakalope

Seen Live: Norah Jones, Big Wreck and AC/DC (original lineup!)

TR: Intervals, Sonata Arctica and Big Wreck for best live bands I’ve seen and all of the awesome artists at The Whisky a Go Go for best bands I’ve played with.

AG: I’d have to say my three favourite performances all incorporated some sort of theatrics. My Chemical Romance I got to see a few times and watching the Black Parade album played live was amazing. Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie had themes and props that went along with the soundtracks of their tours as well. Telling a story is what brings these artists to mind.

As far as favourite bands we’ve played with live? We’ve really enjoyed making friends and sharing the stage with some incredible US acts recently including Wayfaring Soul, The Shrieks, Seconds to Live and The Poynt.

Acclaimed as one of the Top 10 talents across Canada, Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold are sure to fit the bill when they take to the Twin City Ribfest stage on Friday, June 8th, at 9:30 pm.Photography by Mystery Man Photography

An Interview with Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk by Ross Barnes

An Interview with Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk by Ross Barnes

On April 26th, 2018, I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk after their listening party for their brand-new album, INSIDES. The entire experience has been breathtaking, from the beginning of the album to the end of the interview. Not only are the members of Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk incredible musicians, they are the kind of guys that can inspire and provide insight into the inner machinations of the soul through their art. Noted in this interview is interviewer Ross Barnes (RB), and band members Jacob Leonard (JL), Caleb Gardner (CG), Dane Walters (DW), and Jared Draughon (JD).

RB: To start us off, I’ll get a couple basic questions out of the way and then move on to questions about the album and your writing process and all that good stuff. So, first off, how long have you all been playing together?

CG: Our whole lives!

JL: It’s a complicated story. So as a collective, we’ve been playing together how long? A couple years?

DW: About a year.

JL: Not even a year as a four-piece. Me and Caleb, I played in my first band with Caleb when I was sixteen.

RB: Alright, I got that. So you have that lifelong musical chemistry built up between each other. You pretty much have how you work together down to a science and you’ve gotten to a point where you can just build off of that.

JL: Yeah, but with this project, I started it off as a solo project, with a drum machine, looping, and then me and Dane came together as the first—he was really the first addition to this project. Me and Dane really connected and we still connect. Two of the records with this project are solo records, after that was built between more than just me.

CG: I had seen these guys play as a duo at Delurk many years ago, what struck me about them is that they were really going through a bunch of different genres, eviscerating each one. And I was like, wow, these guys are killing this punk style, they’re killing this headbanging style, they’re killing this ambient style, and I wanted to be a part of that.

RB: With recording this album, what was the first nugget of inspiration for it?

JL: Well, I have the goal of releasing an album every year. And it didn’t happen on this project, but we’re always working on music, and this was just our natural progression as musicians. It was just time for us to release a record that represents us as a band. You know, because we had a two-piece record before that. So we just needed something representative as to what we are as a four-piece.

RB: Alright, I get where you’re coming from. So walk me through the creative process of a song. How does it come in to existence exactly?

JL: Life experiences, you know, we have traumatic pasts, we have beautiful pasts at the same time, so with all of the pain and depressions and experiences of life, music is my outlet for expression.

RB: Alright I get it, so you feel something and you translate that into a creative piece with sound.

CG: That’s just the start of the creative process. As a whole it’s very indescribable.

JL: I’m also going to be the most confusing person to get answers from.

RB: [Laughs] That’s really great on paper actually, or on screen or however.

CG: Seriously though, we are not going to be able to scientifically quantify creative experience. But generally, the songs start as demos, which are usually just shared recordings or pieces of songs that one guy puts forth, usually Jacob because he’s more of the singer/songwriter. Then we try to build parts to make sense, then we try to get the song to performance level, and once it gets to performance level we’re able to identify textures that work, and we’re able to see if there are any problems with the structure.

RB: How does recording work for you guys? Like, do you guys run through it track-by-track, do you record it collectively?

DW: How does the recording process work? That’ll probably be more of a question for him. [Points to Jared]

CG: Tell him J-Rod.

JD: Recording-wise we just started with drums and then layered everything else on top of that. We had to work on each part for a while and dial in the songs and figure out what we were going to do. But yeah, start with drums, and layer bass and guitar and vocals after that.

RB: So it’s a lot of layer and layer and layer, etc.

ALL: Yeah!

JD: We also do a lot of pre-production, like live, full recordings and demos beforehand. Once we knew what we were going for we would start layering.

RB: So what are your guy’s next move, after the release show at the Ramkat on May 4th? Do you have a tour lined up?

JL: Worldwide. I mean hopefully we’ll work it to everywhere, but really right now we’re just working up to the show next week.

CG: Hopefully everything is a great answer, but let me take a crack at it. So our record is going into wide release tonight. So through the typical avenues, Spotify, iTunes, hardcopy, we are releasing it. We have a few dates that we have planned in the region coming up, and after that we’re always looking for opportunities to branch out. We all have lives outside of music that we have to take care of, but regardless we’re always working toward growth and bigger opportunities.

JL: We’re playing Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Virginia Beach, and anywhere else in Carolina.

CG: Of course our main goal is to break even.

RB: Well of course, the absolute minimum goal that musicians have is to break even so the music can support itself.

CG: If the music can support itself, then you are a successful musician. And it’s tough overall.

RB: Do you have a favorite show you ever played?

JL: The Ramkat May 4th. Every show is our favorite show. Actually tonight is the best show we ever had, we didn’t have to load in equipment! Our set was flawless too! In all seriousness, we always look to the future people. Because in the end of it, we want our music to have an impact on people in the future. We have a lot of very important topics that we cover in our music, about the environment and the universe, and we try to keep a progressive mindset and image in order to be good inspiration and role models for the future musicians and future people of our planet.

RB: Do you have any experiences from past shows or even bands that stayed in your mind that helped you grow as a musician, or as a person?

CG: That’s a great question, I will always say the band Shiner from Kansas City, they have a record called The Egg. I saw them on tour when I was sixteen. They blew my mind and they made me want to play music.

DW: They were a real and earnest rock band.

JL: In terms of influence, we don’t really pull from music, we’re not copycats or anything like that.

CG: I would have to say that for me, a lot of local acts inspire me to continue being a musician, because we know them, we know what their lives are actually like. Like 1970s Film Stock, we know he’s married and then we see him put on a badass rock show, down at the Garage when it was still open.

JL: And that is what our record is all about. It’s about inspiring one another. That’s what we do for each other. And it’s even more to say that when we see a local band at a bar, it’s our goal to want to push them further and inspire them to go further. And hopefully they do the same thing back to us.

Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk can be found on Facebook at @darkprophettonguelessmonk. You can also find their compendium of music solo-written, duo-written, and full-band-written at darkprophettonguelessmonk.bandcamp.comPhotography by Morgan Jenea

Broadening The Horizons of Downtempo: A Review of ‘Sabella’s Dog Daze: Submission by Jason Cox

Broadening The Horizons of Downtempo: A Review of ‘Sabella’s Dog Daze: Submission by Jason Cox

A quick glance at the state of heavy music would quickly make one aware of how overpopulated the scene is with bands that more or less sound similar. Nowhere is this more apparent than downtempo, a subgenre which takes the deathcore formula and infuses it with elements of doom metal, where the beats per minute hover as close as possible to zero without surpassing the threshold of human perception. While the low and slow method is used by downtempo groups to concoct some of the darkest music available, the well of originality runs very shallow through the scene as a whole with the exception of a few of the style’s forerunners. It is for this reason that ‘Sabella is so important.

‘Sabella is a downtempo band hailing from Elmira, New York. Their first full length album, Dog Daze, was released in July of 2017, and though it is very popular with those in the loop, the record is in fact a vital gem waiting to be unearthed by the entirety of the heavy music community. The record is preceded by a two-song EP released in early 2017 titled Closed/Doors, a release in which the band appears to have begun bringing their unconventional blend of traditional hardcore vocals and lounge-like singing featured on the new record to a place of prominence. The album begins with a riveting introductory track called “Apriled,” which recounts a personal tale of infidelity and love lost. The song is absolutely beautiful and, without context, those unfamiliar would take ‘Sabella for an indie rock outfit, making the next track, “Long Stays,” much more powerful as listeners are forcibly boarded onto a fast, steel-plated Uber straight to Moshville. Passengers reach their destination at “W. Clinton,” a tough track written with a hardcore approach, where the vehicle passes through a fireworks factory before stalling. That’s when the bass line from “Thunder Bay” begins pulling listeners into a gloomy sing-along that melts into the slowest, dirtiest-sounding breakdown imaginable. The entire record does an excellent job of seamlessly blending tracks together into what feels like a single sonic story book as opposed to a track-by-track offering common among similar bands.

The best part of this album is the unexpected genre-swapping that occurs between songs like “Up Like This,” “River,” and “Free Fallin.” The album as a whole has a generally forlorn vibe, which mimics the internal struggle someone might have when dealing with feelings of a past lover, and these sandwiches of songs accurately reflect that mood. Aside from the incorporation of more accessible cross-genre songwriting, what sets ‘Sabella apart from their contemporaries is their focus on hardcore elements in their song construction. Triumphant blocks of power chords, which move in ways that resemble the works of the hardcore’s greatest players, appear in the album but they are far lower and more crushing than ever before. This seems like a method that would be overused by countless bands by now, but given the focus on metallic elements in downtempo music, the execution comes across as fresh and invigorating when listening to Dog Daze. Being able to pull from multiple demographics of show-goers, ‘Sabella has a bright future ahead of them.

Review of “Material Control”, the Newest Album from Glassjaw: Submission From Jason Cox

Review of Material Control, the Newest Album from Glassjaw: Submission From Jason Cox

There are few bands like New York’s post-hardcore pioneers Glassjaw. Noted for their unconventional approach to music, the group has enjoyed high levels of success and relevance despite having only released two full-length albums in the early 2000’s, paired with a handful of extended plays and singles. The fifteen-year gap between Glassjaw’s Worship and Tribute and their most recent full-length, Material Control, gives cause for great anticipation in fans of the band’s music, but how does the new record fair in the contemporary musical landscape?

Material Control marks both a return to Glassjaw’s sonic origins and a slight stylistic change in sound. Fans of the group will be no stranger to the bass lines of bassist/guitarist Justin Beck, who provides the album with a rich array of tonal colors that are pleasing to the ear. Along with this, returning listeners will appreciate the blend of melancholic beauty and agitated, crushing guitar work with which they will be familiar. But where the album truly separates itself from past records is its more chaotic writing style. Songs like “Pompeii” and “Bibleland 6” feature musical choices that are noticeably more metallic than previous releases, as instances of dual-guitar tremolo picking and sense-shattering rhythms emulating internal panic can be heard. The drum work of Billy Rymer, formerly of the Dillinger Escape Plan, complements the panic-ridden guitar work perfectly and makes his mathcore background apparent. Needless to say, this would be a difficult album to nap to. While the music incites an animated reaction in listeners, there is something very comforting about the overall production. Each song is imbued with a beautiful glacial reverb, which makes everything from the pulverizing riffs of “New White Extremity” to the slow and clock-like ballad “Strange Hours” equal parts haunting and memorable.

The fast-paced string and drum work is quite dichotomous in terms of the performance given by vocalist Daryl Palumbo, who also brought new musical concepts to the plate for this project, most notably the singer’s step back from harsher, screaming vocal techniques. The softer side of Daryl’s singing voice, which made for the bands well-known, anthem-like choruses, are still present but feature newly found hints of influence from the likes of Jane’s Addiction and the Deftones, a vocal style the singer seems to have been cultivating since his work on the 2011 EP Coloring Book. Despite exhibiting mellower vocals, the record still hits very hard.

Though mostly enjoyable, this record is not without its flaws. The second part of the album, beginning with the song “Bastille Day,” doesn’t feel quite as strong as the beginning of the record. Moments that should be very impactful for the listener seem to fall short of glory after this song, making it more difficult to take everything in over the course of a sitting. Digestion of songs becomes easier on a track-by-track basis. One of the most noticeable shortcomings appears in the form of the title track “Material Control.” What should be an exciting moment that is reflective of the record as a whole is reduced to a short instrumental introduction for the final song “Cut and Run”. The final song showcases a smidgen of untapped potential as it feels entirely too short and lackluster, leaving music connoisseurs begging for the artists to put additional effort into the track.

Despite miniscule disappointments, the newest Glassjaw record is without doubt one of the best pieces of post-hardcore to come out of the previous year of releases. From start to finish, the album acts as an adequate reflection of the band’s work over the years, culminating in the tasteful blend of the softer elements found in the Coloring Book EP and earlier Glassjaw material. All in all, Material Control makes a fine addition to both personal collections and the Glassjaw discography.

Music Video Shenanigans With Trailer Park Orchestra: Tate Street Hipster by Ross Barnes

Music Video Shenanigans With Trailer Park Orchestra: Tate Street Hipster

Greensboro’s Trailer Park Orchestra is a high-octane culmination of late 80’s/early 90’s rock and influences of modern Southern metal blended together in a vat of punk culture and Greensboro roots. I had the opportunity to observe and join in the antics of the band’s music video for “Tate Street Hipster” from their album Deep Fried Double Wide. “Tate Street Hipster” is a commentary on the clique-y music scene of the Triad where many music groups create bills with the same several bands within their own genres, thereby excluding members of other styles outside their creative comfort zones.

Lead singer Louis Money expresses that he loves the shops, history, and atmosphere of Tate Street, but has become frustrated with the increasingly exclusive “hipsters” of the Greensboro and, specifically, the Tate Street music scene. Furthermore, in addition to the increasing divides between the genre cliques, Greensboro has been suffering the same decline in the variety of music venues and music attendees that has been seen throughout many other locations in the state, as well as the country. It doesn’t help that beyond both of these vibes, many clubs are turning away from creators in the music scene and leaning ever-toward the familiarity of cover bands and their ability to get crowds excited and drinking to the music they already know. This combination of trends and behaviors makes it tougher and tougher for creators outside of the current mainstream music culture to flourish.

“Tate Street Hipster” in and of itself is a fast-paced hard rock song, simple in structure but strong in delivery. Between the steady driving rhythms of drummer BP (Brian Pell) and rhythm guitarist Brian “Bull” Bentley, and the high-energy vocals of Louis Money, “Tate Street Hipster” is the embodiment of feeling comfortable in your own skin despite the exclusive culture of those around you. Pair this with the impressive bass work of Chris Sealey and soaring solos of lead guitarist Joe Potts, you have an incredibly solid piece of work.

Video director Adam Jordan, in my whole confidence, captured this theme wonderfully with the story of the video transitioning from the band members trying to fit in to the hipster crowd, discovering it’s not where they belong, and moving toward their scene at Somewhere Else Tavern over on Friendly Ave. By including hot spots on Tate Street such as Tate Street Coffee, New York Pizza, College Place United Methodist Church, and Parts Unknown Comics (just around the corner), Jordan definitely has all of the means to have captured the essence of Tate Street as well as the history and atmosphere. Jordan’s prior work includes assistant directing music videos for bands such as All Time Low, Neon Trees, and Daft Punk.

I definitely suggest you all keep your eyes and ears open for the upcoming release of the music video. It was an interesting experience to be a part of, and you may or may not see me dressed up in a couple shots wanting to be a “Tate Street Hipster.”Photography by Morgan Jenea

Sonic Snapshots Artist Spotlight: IAMDYNAMITE by Ross Barnes

Artist Spotlight: IAMDYNAMITE

IAMDYNAMITE is the Raleigh, NC-based, Ann Arbor, MI-formed pop/rock duo project of Christopher Martin and Chris Phillips. Their albums SUPERMEGAFANTASTIC and Wasa Tusa are both dynamic works of art that blend the rhythms and hooks of rock with the electrified atmosphere of modern electronic pop. The harmonic chemistry between Martin and Phillips is incredible, as is the case with many other artists who’ve worked together for a decade. The drum patterns and vocal harmonies of Phillips blend perfectly with the soothing guitar and vocals of Martin. The band has had much luck on the alternative music charts: their single, “Where Will We Go” from SUPERMEGAFANTASTIC, spent over 20 weeks on the Billboard Top 20 Alternative chart, a huge success that placed the duo in the public eye on a massive scale. Just as before, you can find a selection of my favorite tracks of theirs on the Sonic Snapshots Artist Spotlight Playlist on Spotify, as well as their entire works on the IAMDYNAMITE Spotify Channel.

 

Sonic Snapshots Artist Spotlight: AUTHOR by Ross Barnes

Sonic Snapshots Artist Spotlight: AUTHOR

Photography by Alyson Worker

Author is an indie three-piece based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Formed in 2010 by brothers Trevor and Cameron Bartlett and guitarist Erik Moody, the band has grown into their own over the years since their first EP, People Are Alike All Over, released in May of 2012. Their dreamy soundscapes will send you into a trance as you listen through their evolution of sound. Author first popped up on my radar in February 2015 after their appearance on Audiotree Live, a live-performance media company with a structure similar to other showcase media channels such as The Wild Honey Pie and NPR’s Tiny Desk Sessions. Their most recent release, titled IIFOIIC (Is It Far or Is It Close), is a mellowed masterpiece of ballads and gloriously creamy emotions that will be sure to hit you deep in your feels and leave you smiling and relaxed.

I would highly suggest giving them a listen and keeping an eye out for them as the summer and autumnal months approach, as they will likely be making moves. Their discography can be found at https://weareauthor.bandcamp.com and, once posted, their tour dates, online store, and links to social media can be found at http://www.weareauthor.com.

Personal Note to the Audience: Attached below is a Spotify playlist I have compiled of my favorite tracks that Author has released since the beginning of their career until now. I think it’s a fair blend of their songs off each album they have released. From now on when I post an artist spotlight, I’ll be adding tracks from future artists to this playlist. I hope you enjoy the tunes as well as your days, weeks, months, and years to come. -Ross

Shun the Raven Album Review by Ross Barnes

Self-Titled EP by Shun the Raven: Sonic Snapshots

Shun the Raven is a progressive rock/progressive metal band formed in 2015 based out of Greensboro, North Carolina. Their current EP, titled Shun the Raven, is five tracks of viscous summer air, with grinding distortion and driving chords that make you yearn for the open road in the country with friends to keep your spirits high.

The opening track, “Slave to Creation,” begins with the sounds of a steady wind and the low chimes of a guitar, before expanding to a thick rocking groove. The vocals of guitarist and frontman Aaron Monk glide smoothly over the rich rhythms of drummer Chad Hough and moving basslines of Jairus Combs. Toward the end of the song, a thick distorted haste falls over the guitar tone as a breakdown forms and Monk’s smooth vocals become a roar over the heavy sludge of tone as the song suddenly comes to a halt.

The second track, “By the Wire,” opens with a reverberating twang of guitar as slow, lovely chord transitions gradually crescendo before coming to a peak where distortion takes over and the band’s progressive metal roots shine through. The transition reminds me fondly of many of the tracks off of Deftones’ album Koi No Yokan. The remainder of the song is a swift rocking tune that feels like the crunch of gravel under a dirt bike. Between the fast-moving guitar riffs, the equally nimble bass, and the slow, sturdy drum line you can visualize the grinding of pebbles beneath a spinning tire as the song moves ever forward.

Track three, “The Pill,” has a very modern mix with a classic feel. The speedy power chords feel like a callback to the older metal of Anthrax or Mӧtorhead but the inclusion of various minor chords is much more reminiscent of bands popular in the mid-aughts like Bayside or Avenged Sevenfold. Monk’s vocals are much gruffer in “The Pill” as opposed to previous songs on the album, adding another dimension to the texture of their music.

Track four, “Reasons,” brings the atmosphere of the album back down to the smoother progressive rock tones of “Slave to Creation” and “By the Wire,” creating a mountainous texture to the atmospheric soundscape of the album. The song starts with a clean, swift guitar pattern with steady rhythms from the bass and drums lying underneath. Monk’s vocals remain soft in his low register, calmly running through the verses before reverting back to his stylistic gruffness and occasional slides in and out of falsetto for the choruses.

The final track, “Feed the Beast,” is a heavy climax to the album, with a rough, heavy, picked bassline serving as the driving force behind the song and the return of those heavier screaming vocals that existed in “The Pill.” The guitar serves as an additive to the rhythm section, abandoning arpeggios and many single picked notes for thick power chords for the vast majority of the song before slipping back into its role as a melodic force in the bridge toward the end. “Feed the Beast” is a strong finish to a rock-solid album, and I very much look forward to the future releases of Shun the Raven.

The full collection of songs that are included on the Shun the Raven EP are available on the band’s reverbnation at https://www.reverbnation.com/shuntheraven. All songs have been recorded and produced by John Plymale of Overdub Lane Recording based out of Durham, North Carolina.

A Review of the New Austin Basinger ep “Steph” by Ross Barnes

EP Review: Steph by Austin Basinger

North Carolina native Austin Basinger released his debut EP, titled Steph, in early February 2018. The four-track album is a short but lovely body of bright swirling guitar tones, ethereal vocals, and a relaxing atmosphere. His body of work can be found on Bandcamp at austinbasinger.bandcamp.com.

The opening track, “Missing You,” introduces you to a lo-fi guitar tune, somewhere lost in the ether between happiness and melancholy, which—when coupled with the-low register, reverb-washed vocals—embodies remembrance of a friend and lover, once happy and content, but now absent. The wash of tone and registers reminds me of artists such as Ariel Pink, The Church, and Wild Nothing, all of which capture melancholy perfectly through oceans of reverb and chorus effects.

The second track, “Running,” starts off quick, hectic, and full of life; like a dream of neon skies and open, rolling hills as far as the eye can see. The vocals glide over the busy chord work, slow clouds observing the running of life below, carrying on unfulfilled and wanting. The song carries on and ends with the same guitar sequence and busy drums underneath without slowing down or showing any indication of stopping—very appropriate of what its title would imply.

“She’s Back,” the third track on the album, opens with a quick, chaotic rhythm of excitement highlighted by the ride cymbal and the snare drum. But as the vocals and guitar come in to the scene, the chaotic rhythm feels natural and the excitement becomes normal—like the feeling of your heart skipping a beat upon seeing the one you love after a long time, and your heartbeat remaining elevated until it just feels natural.

The final track on the EP, “All of This Time,” is like the end of a movie. The lyrics as well as the overall tone leave me feeling as though all of the thoughts and emotions of the previous songs have been resolved, with only memory to recall and reflect on the past. The song moves slowly, at the pace of credits in a romance film. Between the steady rhythm and the slow pace, the song feels as though it’s meant to be a lullaby, ready to wash fears, anxieties, and worries away, with only a new day to look forward to.