Friday, February 11, 2011

Life In Your Way reunited!!

So one of my favorite bands have decided to get back together, Life In Your Way is currently working on an album that they're going to release through Come & Live!

This is such good news that i decided to write a quick recap of the interesting way i became a Life In Your Way fan.

Back in 2007 i was slowly becoming a fan of heavier music than the punk/hardcore i was used to listening to. I discovered this band, Chasing Victory, that had a sound similar to Underoath and i was really into them. I went downtown to catch a Chasing Victory show at the Marquis Theater, i was flying solo. When i got in the venue it was nearly empty, maybe 50-100 kids at most. I didn't know any band on the lineup except Chasing Victory and they were playing 2nd to last. The band that was currently playing however, was solid, not amazing but clearly were good musicians.

The lead singer impressed me most, he was a big dude and full of confidence and conviction. I couldn't understand most of the lyrics but i liked the style, had some hardcore elements that i like (fast beats, simple effective breakdowns). But the moment i was hooked was when during a breakdown the guitarists starting singing "let it be a sweet, sweet sound, in Your ear." This song resonates to my early childhood as one of the first songs i ever learned, i remember singing it in little kids church. Anyway, i thought it was awesome how they band had incorporated that awesome song into a hardcore song, they did it very well. They said their name was Life In Your Way, and i was going to look them up when i got home.

I stayed for Chasing Victory, unfortunately because they were awful. I left after 3 songs. I got in my car and fired up the ipod and wouldn't you know, i had Life In Your Way on my ipod?! how did that happen!? A few days earlier a co-worker had given me a few albums that he thought i should check out, it was a lot of music and i hadn't got through most of it, but here was Life In Your Way. Of course i checked it out and was super impressed, love their melodic hardcore sound. Later i found out that a key member of Life In Your Way also played in With Honor which was another of my favorite bands at the time. crazy!

It was short-lived though, Life In Your Way broke up a few months later. The closest they had played to Denver again was Cheyenne, Wyoming, a show which i had planned on going to but a huge snow storm hit Colorado that day. They were playing with Means, another awesome band, and i called the venue like 10 times that day to make sure the bands made it safely, i wasn't driving through a snow storm to Wyoming to find out the bands couldn't make it. I never got confirmation so i wussed out. Had i known that Life In Your Way and Means would breakup in the next six months i obviously wouldn't have bailed on that show!

Life In Your Way is back, they're releasing an album through Come & Live! Records which means it will be free. Whether they will tour is still unknown, but i sure hope they do. Everyone should check these guys out!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Is being in a band really "Work"?

In the February issue of Hopecore Magazine there is an interview with the president and founder of AP Magazine; Mike Shea. The interview talks a lot about music labels and how the music industry looks today, and how it will look in the future. Below are two questions that caught my attention, I high-lited the parts that stood out to me:

What is your take on an organization like Come&Live! Which gives their artists’ music away for free and runs off of donations?

MS: The whole culture of free is exciting but it’s a scary world. It can blow up to everything before you know it. I was just thinking cynically the other night, if the culture of free really takes over and gets out of control, there will be no press outlets anymore or media outlets. Nobody will be able to make any money, there won’t be any Rolling Stone or New York Times or AP or Relevant, there won’t be anybody. All you’re going to have is a million music bloggers who have other day jobs. The culture of sampling, which was really what the music kiosks in chain stores were, were wildly successful then downloading hit and it became “Well, I want to hear the whole record first before I decide to buy it”. What happened was most people decided not to buy it and then the excuses started of “I don’t get paid enough, they’re on Interscope, the artists make so much money anyway etc”. The artists really got hurt and they’re really suffering now. We’re finding, as you guys probably hear of on your end, more and more musicians, not Britney Spears, not Lady Gaga, we’re talking bands who never made it on the cover of AP but sold 50-60 thousand units over a few records who are now needing to go get day jobs because the only way you make money is touring. When you have everyone touring because it’s the only way you can make money, it floods the market. There’s only so many nightclubs, only so much money everyone has every month to go see a band so if you really go talk to all the promoters they’ll tell you there are too many bands, to many shows. Everybody suffers.

The culture of free is actually destroying everything. The entertainment industry has been absolutely pathetic at how they addressed downloading. They should have pulled out Anthony Green, Aaron Gillespie, Stephen Christian and had them do PSAs online and in movie theater ads and commercials where they say “Look, we’re going to have to not tour. You’re not going to see us much anymore because every time your roommate goes and downloads are record and shares it everywhere, we don’t see any money and we can’t afford to tour anymore”. The label isn’t getting the money so there is no tour support. We’re seeing it with digital books now. The publishing companies are freaking out because there is now a black market for illegal downloaded books for Kindle. We already have problems where people scan cover stories or major features that show up in publications and put them up online so kids don’t have to buy anything anymore. Its one thing after another and soon there is going to be a massive collapse. What’s happening is all these websites are running around trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator and trying to gobble up everything and put these ad networks together and charge whatever amount of money so they can be one of the few websites left. Its very scary world and I don’t think that 95% of people who download music get it. I don’t think they understand that you have to support the artists.

Have you thought about that kind of thing for the future? It blows my mind that people waste their time scanning a magazine to put it online and share it with other people. How are you preparing for the future as things like this grow worse?

MS: I don’t think there is a way to fix it. When these things start up, you can try and stop it and go around to particular sites and tell them to take a record down but then another one pops right up. What you do is try and insulate yourself to it. The people that are pro-file sharing and downloading will sit there and say “Well, this is marketing and think about all the people who would’ve never known about your product or band”. Well, the bands could make money before and they can’t now. Your whole argument about branding doesn’t matter. You sit in your apartment b******* about how file sharing is okay when you have a day job somewhere else and you don’t have to worry about it. You go join a band, quit your job and join a band and talk to me in five months because you’ll be b******* too. That’s the problem is that a lot of the people running these file sharing websites don’t have to live off of the industry. Sooner or later we may end up like Europe where they’re coordinating with web providers and they’re shutting down ISPs. How else are musicians going to make their money? What are they going to do? I think it was one of the AFI guys who tweeted something about wanting to know the mindset of someone who watched us spend 11 months in the studio, working, writing music, putting it all together and they have no problem taking it within seconds and putting it up online for free. Who is that person? I don’t think the problem has been communicated correctly. It’s really sad to see the bands out there going under.

Now i'm not trying to take a side here, yet, but i'm wondering what people think about the music industry, or even the movie industry. Are they necessary? Do we need a million bands out there? When AFI talks about spending 11 months in the studio "working" do we really view that as "work"? Nobody is forcing these people to be in bands, there is no demand for bands and music, sure we all love music, but on a production level are they contributing to society? Sometimes it feels like a new bands starts up and demands to be paid, but just because you're in a band doesn't mean anyone owes you money right?

I'm not justifying downloading pirated music, or movies, i'm simply asking why people in the music industry have an expectation of being paid. I know plenty of musicians, and most of them work a "real" job because they know there's no money in music. Think about it, you don't make up a job and work it with an expectation to be paid - you go where there is work to be done, where there is a demand. Where there is a demand people pay for what they're demanding. It's hard for me to think that every single band in the industry today has exceptional talent, that they have enough talent to be paid for it. I know a lot of talented people (musicians, aspiring movie producers, book writers, athletes...) and they use their talents as a hobby, a passion, something to do for the love of the passion. they play on their own time, and don't expect to make a living from it.

If you can't afford to tour, then don't tour. If you're expecting to live easy off making an album, you're wrong. My opinion is that kids should stop throwing everything away to start a rock band only to find themselves in-debt at 30 yrs old and mad that they didn't make any money being in a band. Unless your goal is something besides making money (like spreading a message, ministry, off-season fun...) then no one is forcing you to be in a band, don't do it. if you do, don't complain about the lack of money you're not making.

is art important? yes! Is everyone and their mother an artist worthy of making $30,000+ a year? no!

When bands start quitting because they don't make money, maybe "fans" will be more impacted. For now though, when one band quits, five more pop up. Think about it, would you still work your job if there was no guarantee for income? There comes a time when you have to make a choice between pursuing something you love to do, and making a living. Most of us are working regular jobs for a living, stuff we don't love or have a passion for, but we understand responsibility, we understand that working a job is going to part of most of our life and most of us are thankful for our jobs (and if we're not we have the option of looking for a different job).

the dollar speaks. Basketball players make ridiculous money because fans are paying for tickets, cable-tv, merchandise, there's money there. MLS (US Soccer) players don't make much unless they are known talents, some kids who are graduating college get drafted by MLS teams but turn down the offer for a "regular" job that pays more. Rookie MLS players minimum salary is around $20,000/year. No one is forcing them to be soccer players, so they realize that they could make more doing something else. Maybe high school kids need to make the same decision before they start a hardcore band.

Best of 2010

I put together my Best of 2010 lists for and here they are:

Top Albums

1. Hundredth – When Will We Surrender
2. Haste The Day – Attack of the Wolf King
3. Robbie Seay Band – Miracle
4. The Ghost Inside – Returners
5. Norma Jean – Meridional
6. Close Your Eyes – We Will Overcome
7. Dave Barnes – What We Want What We Get
8. I Am Alpha And Omega – The Roar and the Whisper
9. The Chariot – Long Live
10. Counterparts – Prophet
11. Sovereign Strength – Reflections
12. Blank Page Empire – Sinners, Thieves, and Beggars
13. Nas & Damian Marley – Distant Relatives
14. Called To Arms – Peril and the Patient
15. Taylor Swift – Speak Now
16. Ascend The Hill – Hymns: Take the World But Give Me Jesus
17. Trip Lee – Between Two Worlds
18. A Plea For Purging – The Marriage Between Heaven and Hell
19. I, The Breather - These Are My Sins
20. Pigeon John – Dragon Slayer

Top 5 EPs

1. Killing The Dream – Lucky Me
2. Venia – I’ve Lost All Faith In Myself
3. Dependency – Convicted
4. Messengers – Anthems
5. The Devil Wears Prada - Zombie

Biggest Disappointments

1. Anberlin – Dark is the Way, Light is a Place
2. Corpus Christi – A Feast for Crows
3. Comeback Kid – Symptoms & Cures
4. War Of Ages – Eternal
5. The Audition – Great Danger

Top 5 Songs

1. Haste The Day “Dog-like Vultures”
2. Venia “The Call”
3. Robbie Seay Band “Crazy Love”
4. Hundredth “Willows”
5. Pigeon John “Buttersoft Seats”

6 “White Flag” – For Today
7 “The City” – The Chariot
8 “The Way That We Fall” – The Suit
9 “Blame the Architects” – Killing the Dream
10 “Dear John” – Taylor Swif

Top 5 Unsigned Bands

1. Blank Page Empire
2. All At RISK
3. The Suit
4. Hanover Saints
5. The Music Room

Album Review: Future - Endure

Artist: Future
Release: Endure
Label: independent
Release Date: October 2010
Reviewer: BMer

Track List:
01. Endure Intro
02. Go In ft. R-Swift, Thisl & K-Drama
03. Endure ft. Pastor AD3
04. Fight Klub Interlude
05. Fight Klub
06. Winners ft. Fitgerald
07. At His Throne ft. PRo
08. God Ain’t With You
09. Frontline ft. PRo & Json
10. Struggle No More ft. Fitzgerald
11. Never Back Down ft. Mike Real & Rio (KuntryBoyy)
12. Future vs. Pride ft. Bumps
13. Conviction
14. Hold On

If you are looking for some high-energy southern Christian rap then Future might just be that, the future! Although not on the level in popularity with other artists like Lecrae and Trip Lee, Future still features an all-star cast on his latest release titled Endure. Fellow “x-hustler” Thi’sl features a few times, as well as Flame, JSon, Pro, KDrama and quite a few more. This is the kind of in-your-face hip-hop takes on some serious issues, as well as some serious big-name rappers!

The theme throughout Endure is just that, endure. Just looking at the track list you get the idea that Future knows life is tough, but we need to persevere, with song titles like “Battle”, “Frontline”, Struggle No More” and “Fight Club”. One of the best tracks on the album starts the album off, “Go In” starts off with some horns and when the beat drops, it’s on! Thi’sl and K-Drama help set things straight throughout the track. Future delivers clear confidence and his flow never seems forced.

Other standout tracks include “Fight Club”, “Endure”, “Winners” and “Struggle No More”. There is quality effort to make the hooks and chorus stand up next to the smooth delivery of Future, something that often lacks on Christian rap albums. AD3 on “Endure” is solid when he sings “keep it moving, keep it Holy, keep it pure, Endure”. On “Fight Club” you hear plenty of sporting references, usually to leaders in their respective sports like Lebron James and the Florida Gators. One of my favorite sport references happens in “God Ain’t With You” where Future raps “you can be a star and still be Christ’s example – Tebow”. There are plenty of other clever references, like on “Never Back Down” – “I got a new heart from my daddy too, like John Q.”

The song “Winner” features a super-catchy chorus delivered by Fitzgeral “in this life I choose Christ so I’m already a winner, all because of Jesus I’m already victorious.” Future is relentless throughout the track with his lyrics, constantly promoting faith in Christ “I don’t believe in fate I believe in faith along.”. He also recommends that listeners don’t wait too long to turn to Christ because “you’re all sinners / never escape the heat like in Miami, all winter (so hot).”

The track “God Ain’t With You” could be considered controversial, you know instantly who the track is directed at with the opening line “you say your last names Ever, your first name is Greatest…” Yes, Jay-Z is the directed target, but this song could apply to just about everyone in the entertainment business. “You’re like a kid with tokens, and the arcade is open. You just bought a boat, but God controls the ocean.” The song touches on the exercise of most entertainers to thank God at their shows, yet you could question their validity by the way they live.

Endure is not without its weak moments, for example there is a staged rap-battle for track 10, “Battle”. The battle is between Future and pride, yes the characteristic of pride. The idea is creative, pride telling Future “I’ll have you thinking you’re effort’s great, trusting merits instead of grace” but the delivery is corny, with an MC and crowd cheering and other effects to give the impression that this battle happened in 8 Mile. This is a modern-day Screwtape Letters in some sense, so it worth it to read through the lyrics, considering the motives of pride. The best line though, from pride “I’m a big deal like Lebron to the Knicks, while you remain the Kwame Brown of all lottery picks.”

OVERALL Endure is a solid release from Future, full of credible performances from other rappers in the Christian rap genre. Each song has that anthem feel to it, each one would justify that towel you carry around at shows to dry off the sweat, you’ll be bouncing non-stop throughout Endure. Future puts his name on the map, for fans of straight-forward Christian rap with issues most of us can relate to, check out Endure.

Reviewed for Indie Vision Music

Future – Endure

Album Review: The Music Room - Live While You're Alive

Band: The Music Room
Release: Live While You’re Alive EP
Release Date: Jan 2011
Label: none
Reviewer: BMer


  1. I Wanna Know You
  2. Dark Outside
  3. Be Here
  4. Rubbish
  5. Life is Beautiful

The Music Room is a sibling outfit out of small-town Northern California. Live While You’re Aliveis a collection of five well-written folksy acoustic songs. The EP is full of creativity and each track has a unique quality of warmth and love; Live While You’re Alive is a moment of relief in a hectic life.

Siblings Aimee and Dane Johnson decided to record their songs after playing them live for over a year. The lead-off track “I Wanna Know You” sets the tone for the EP with an upbeat piano and accordion throughout. Aimee’s vocals are not commanding, but more subtle and quirky, reminiscent of Katie Herzig or Zooey Deschanel of She & Him. Aimee’s creative melody lines nestle neatly with her guitar-work, while brother Dane accompanies each song with light percussion and an occasional harmonica. Producer Brian Steckler also features on the album with solid piano work.

You can’t help but smile throughout Live While You’re Alive, The Music Room have written songs about love and life that instantly make you wish you were drinking warm coffee in your kitchen while looking out the window at your white picket-fence. Despite the lighter exterior most of the songs hold a deeper message about life. “Dark Outside” talks about the struggles in relationship when two people aren’t on the same page. “I Wanna Know You” speaks of God’s compassion towards each of us individually, while still being the creator of the universe. “Be Here” is a wonderful track with rich ambience and perfectly placed vocals by Dane, his carefree delivery is a great compliment to Aimee’s voice.

The best track on Live While You’re Alive is that last track, “Life is Beautful.” The lyrics are a reminder that we can get caught up with craziness of this world “Preoccupied and too numb to realize that life is beautiful” and with the repetition of the line “Life is beautiful” you can’t help but get caught up in the brief moment of peace Live While You’re Alive offers.

OVERALL I’m really enjoying Live While You’re Alive by The Music Room. There are no agendas here, nothing but well-written songs about life with a reminder to love those around you. Fans of Sixpence None the Richer, Waterdeep, Glen Hansard, and wholesome folksy music will really enjoy The Music Room.

Reviewed for Indie Vision Music

The Music Room – Live While You’re Alive

Album Review: Venia - I've Lost All Faith in Myself

Band: Venia
Release: I’ve Lost All Faith in Myself
Label: Blood & Ink
Release Date: November 2010
Review By: BMer

Track Listing:

  1. Crux
  2. Mouth of a Liar
  3. Numbers Game
  4. The Call
  5. Calloused

Minnesota is having a great year in music, already boasting quality releases from Your Memorial and Blank Page Empire, now we get a 5-song EP from Venia titled “I’ve Lost All Faith in Myself.” Released through Blood & Ink Records who are also having quite a year having released another great hardcore EP with Dependency’s “Convicted”, Venia are on-point with their spirit-filled hardcore. If you haven’t checked out Venia already then this would be a great place to start.

Venia represent hardcore music to the fullest, they tour constantly throughout the year and they still find time to record a solid record, they’re one of the hardest working bands out there. The band is still playing the smaller venues, and sometimes when those shows get cancelled Venia will find a house to play at. With so many bands these days decided to add a little metal to their sound, or maybe dance beats, Venia keeps it real and authentic with punk drumming, breakdowns and gang vocals, there are no gimmicks here.

The opening track “Crux” expands on the title of the EP (I’ve Lost All Faith in Myself), talking about not putting faith in the things of this world “faithless in what I thought had worth / Faithless in the things of this earth!” The gang vocals on this opening track just enhance the importance of the message, something that the hardcore scene desperately needs. Venia play such quality hardcore, and play with some other hard-working hardcore bands, that it’s easy for them to get in the door and share their message with the kids. This message isn’t just “positive hardcore”, but faith-based hardcore, they don’t water down the message in order to be accepted, you clearly hear the name “Christ” on the track “Calloused”, something you don’t find with many “Christian” bands.

The next two songs, “Mouth of a Liar” and “Numbers Game” continue the urgent pace laid out by “Crux”. “Mouth of a Liar” features the best drumming on I’ve Lost All Faith in Myself while “Numbers Game” takes a serious look about those who mislead, the scenario that is written about here could be applied to quite a few different “leaders” today. Each song on I’ve Lost All Faith in Myself features a solid breakdown and a chance to sing along, but all of the songs seem to be in support of “The Call”, the best track on the EP.

“The Call” features duel vocals between Venia frontman Chad Urich and the original vocalist for Strongarm Jason Berggren. Jason actually co-wrote the song and leads off the song with “This is the call / a time for reckoning!” This song could not get any better, the breakdown which starts with spoken words “Sear this on your conscience and brand it on your heart / for the faithful there is a promise / a sacred trust of salvation / never forget and never give!” leads into the high-point of the song, gang vocals repeatedly shouting “I will not deny!” “The Call” could easily be the closer to Venia’s live set, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing “Crux” live as well.

OVERALL I’ve Lost All Faith in Myself is quality hardcore. Venia are leading the charge, bringing hardcore back to the forefront. I’m not sure there has been a faith-based hardcore band playing this well since Stretch Arm Strong, Strongarm and Comeback Kid (back when everyone thought they were a Christian band). For those fans of “tough-guy” hardcore like Sick of it All, Shai Hulud, Madball (and on and on…) you need to be listening to Venia and like I stated earlier, I’ve Lost All Faith in Myself is a great place to start!

Reviewed for Indie Vision Music

Venia – I’ve Lost All Faith in Myself