Audiotree Session – Charly Bliss

The cold has officially gripped Cincinnati, and man, it’s rough. My car doesn’t want to start, my body doesn’t want to function, and everything is Frozen frozen.  (No but really, I hate that movie.)

I was fighting to find motivation at the gym one night, and I told myself, “If I can make it through this circuit workout, I’ll watch/listen to Charly Bliss’ Audiotree session.

Typically, I’m not a fan of “live” anything aside from being in-person at a concert. I hate live albums and I find it painful listening to the recorded stage banter.

But this Audiotree session is different. For one, the sound quality is pretty impeccable. It’s easy to forget at certain points that it’s being live-recorded, which I think speaks to both their engineers, and the band.

This video/recording is also so damned charming. Charly Bliss doesn’t seem to have an ego, and they’ll answer any question without pause. The interviewer is also delightfully awkward at points. He does a great job at seeming both excited to talk to them, and also willing to ask a good mix of goofy and insightful questions.

Charly Bliss is often described as a “bubblegum grunge” band, and they largely remind me of the bands that took the forefront in “10 Things I Hate About You.” I feel like I’m getting another taste of one of my favorite movies.

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The band was formed in 2014, and many of its members have true musical experience and stage knowledge, Eva has a BFA in Recorded Music, and others have Musical Performance, Creative Writing, and Theatre degrees. There’s definitely something behind their catchy choruses and hooks.

So far the band has unfortunately only released EP’s (and a comic book series?!), but they’ve shown a strong effort, and those songs alone are capable of making me hang on for dear life waiting for their full release.

I’d suggest giving Charly Bliss a spin if you need motivation or just to rock out against the depressing winter backdrop.

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2am – Bear Hands

Connecticut-based hipster rock usually isn’t something I go out of my way to hear.

But when “2am” crossed my headphones, I just kept hitting the “repeat” button.

Bear Hands originated in New York, despite their CT roots, and quickly became a buzz band in the NY music scene.

Listening to them reminds me of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, music lovers traipsing across the city to find an elusive and important band. I feel like people would do that to listen to Bear Hands.

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The reason “2am” piqued my interest was the catchiest hook I’ve heard in awhile, “Nothing good happens past 2am.”

As a music fan, and a 20-something, I can relate from personal experience. Their sentiment is spot-on. Every time I’ve drank too much, fought with friends, or made a general ass of myself, it was in the witchy hours past 1 or 2am. Lucky me. And I’m sure I’m not unique in that.

I think part of the familiarity and comfort I feel with Bear Hands music comes from lead vocalist Dylan Rau, who in my ears, sounds like Ben Davis of Cincinnati duo Bad Veins.

And with less than 600,000 YouTube views on their “2am” video, if you’re all about being on the up-and-up, it looks like you’ll still be finding this band before they’re at the zenith of their fame. Good on you.

 

 

I’ve Got Friends – Manchester Orchestra

When I was in college I discovered Manchester Orchestra through Pandora. The first song that I ever heard from them was “I’ve Got Friends.” Andy Hull’s voice was sweet, but it had anger behind it. The lyrics were like poetry – I could relate, but I wasn’t always 100% sure of artist intent.

After delving into their catalogue, I went to Shake-It and bought the two albums they had out at the time: I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child and Mean Everything to Nothing.

I have mixed emotions about what Manchester Orchestra means to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had severe depression. I would soak their music in –  it was like a drug for my depression; it made me feel better, but sometimes it just made things worse. I remember screaming along to many of the songs, thoroughly upset, and unsure why.

I’d drive around Cincinnati at night listening to these albums, crossing the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge. During the day, I’d play them on repeat in my car, and even the sunny summer days are cloudy and dark in my memory. I was floating through my life, existing, but detached from myself.

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“I’ve Got Friends,” was ironic to me at the time. I did have friends, but my depression made it hard for me to appreciate them, or feel their impact – to feel anything. My life was a jumble, and I just couldn’t figure out how to unknot it.

Now, I can easily say that I’m surrounded by SO many fantastic people that I’m lucky to know. I’m able to see them, feel their support, and acknowledge when it’s my depression talking and not reality.

For me, Manchester Orchestra was that weird place between being asleep and awake. I knew that something wasn’t quite right – something didn’t add up. They helped me get through that time, but not in a wholly healthy way. Maybe someday, now that I know these things, I’ll be able to dig into Cope and Hope. We’ll see.

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If you or someone you know or love is experiencing depression, please seek a local mental health professional – I promise it’s worth it. If the situation is dire, please call 1-800-273-8255. This hotline is available 24/7. 

The Next Storm – Frank Turner

Sometimes when I’m feeling adventurous I’ll turn on WNKU and open my mind to new music.

Yesterday, I was helping my friend Jarrett move, and as I drove across town to his new place, Frank Turner came on the radio.

I was enjoying the song so much that I forgot to Soundhound it, and when I checked at the end of the song, I couldn’t find it!

So I went to WNKU’s website and looked through their playlists, playing everything that sounded faintly familiar until I found it.

And then I rejoiced.

When I finally saw the video, there was an interesting focal point: CM Punk.

The song is uplifting and up-tempo, urging you to think that it’s positive. But there’s a rougher undercurrent that reminds me almost of Flogging Molly.

Maybe it’s the fact that the band is wearing suspenders and they’re in a boxing ring. I surely hope that my comparison standards aren’t that low. *shrug*

Regardless, Frank Turner has an intriguing voice and some great metaphors in his lyrics that made me want to hear the whole of Positive Songs for Negative People.

I appreciate his tongue-in-cheek approach to both his album title and music in general. Turner was the frontman for a post-hardcore band, which explains the edge to his voice. He won awards for Hardest-Working Artist and Best Live Act from AIM in 2011, which shows that Turner has a solid foundation in the community he’s a part of.

With an interesting personal history, and thoughtful, fun songs to go along with it, I’d say that Turner is deserving of an extended listen. Give him a spot in your rotation. He’ll win you over, too.

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Stormy Southern Gothic

Didja know that was a genre?! Yeah, well, I didn’t either.

I can’t say enough about this playlist. Forreal.

The other day in Cincinnati, it was so dark that it looked like it was nighttime. The rain was sure to hit us hard, and I needed something that could motivate me to do work. (Usually during gloomy weather, I just want to curl up with a blanket.)

There’s so many standouts on here, but it’s still chill enough to not steal away your focus. My favorite was “Hell’s Bells,” a slithery, sensual ballad that was apparently featured in “True Blood.”

The playlist is a hearty mix of chugging old-style country, folk and some cajun influences. It reminds me of how I imagine New Orleans would feel. Down-home, spooky and comforting all at the same time.

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First Album Love

Whenever I find an artist, I always look through their entire catalogue, afraid that I missed something pivotal.

But I always end up coming back to the first album I heard by them. Even when I know it isn’t their best work, it still manages to be my favorite.

Case in point?

Alkaline Trio – Crimson
Social Distortion – White Light, White Heat, White Trash 
Rancid – Indestructible 
AFI – Sing the Sorrow
NOFX – The War on Errorism
Every Time I Die – The Big Dirty
New Found GlorySticks and Stones
The Black Keys – Magic Potion
Against Me! – Searching for a Former Clarity

Okay, I think I made it clear.

For some reason, there’s a thrill and memory associated with when you fell in love with an artist. Even if, in your heart, you know it isn’t their best work, the first album you hear will always shine brightest. Some of my best memories were made listening to these cds. I still remember being in middle school and buying, White Light, White Heat, White Trash at FYE and listening to it on my Walkman in the car on the way home. I was so excited to hear those songs, and to find a new sound that I’d never known – a sound that no one around me in suburban Indiana had known.

That sparked my love of Social Distortion, who were my favorite band for years. I even remember going to see them in concert and teachers from my high school were at the show. We had more in common than we’d initially realized, and even though they were my instructors, I considered them friends.

I can pinpoint the moment I heard the opening riff to “No Son of Mine,” from Every Time I Die’s The Big Dirty. The same car trip that inspired my love of ETID fueled my passion for Against Me!. I was on a trip to Bloomington to suss out IU with some friends, and they played Searching for a Former Clarity. “Miami” stuck with me. I can remember subsequently going into Shake It Records to buy copies of both albums, and being ridiculously excited.

A friend burnt Indestructible for me in high school. In all reality, she was a bully that I didn’t really like, but I befriended her to avoid conflict. I asked her to burn cd’s for me that I didn’t have the money to buy. At the time, Tim Armstrong’s voice was worth putting up with her. I listened to that album on repeat while mowing the lawn at home. It was the soundtrack to many a summer sunburn.

As I tried to distance myself from the bully girl, I found myself going to the local library to get albums and burning them to my computer. That’s where I scrounged up Magic Potion and countless others. Surely the librarians knew that when I checked out STACKS of cds, I wasn’t just taking them home to listen to. But they never said anything.

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It’s not like all this pirating was for nefarious reasons. I was a high school kid who was sonically starved and something had to feed that addiction. At least I was nerdy enough to hang out in the library instead of other places.

More than any other, I remember my first New Found Glory album. I’d been bullied A LOT by a jock in middle school. He would harass me virtually every day, and the teacher didn’t do anything. I was angry, hurt and felt violated. My mom knew about it, so when we went to Bigg’s one evening, she bought me Sticks and Stones. She gently asked me if I liked it when I took my headphones off briefly in the car.

Even though I was a shitty, bratty, angry teenager, I appreciated her act of support. She felt helpless watching her daughter be picked on. But she knew what made me feel better and wanted to supply that to me, even if she didn’t fully understand.

The main thing that ties all of these albums together is that they served as different milestones for me. Whether I’m embarrassed to admit that I like those artists or not, I can’t forget the effect that the music had on me. It served as my therapist, my solace, my friend, my ammunition.

I think it’s incredibly important to pay homage to the albums that inspire us and get us through rough spots. There’s no reason to feel sheepish when an artist or album resonates with you. That means there’s a chord to be struck, and not everyone has that depth or emotional awareness.

In One Ear – Cage the Elephant

There are songs of rebellion that make my soul boil and froth. Right when the bubbles are at their height, and in danger of boiling over the edge, the heat is turned down to a violent simmer.

That’s what this song does to me.

I have listened to it since its release on Cage the Elephant’s self-titled album in 2009, and I still harbor a feverish passion for it.

Wanna know something, though, that I find funny? The song has two videos. The first is embedded above, and was released in 2008.

In 2010 after the album was released, a new video was created for it, and is the one that shows up when you do initial searches for the song. It’s more trendy and has a Coachella-feel (i.e. Native American headdresses *shudder*).

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Regardless of the Video 1/Video 2 debate, I still love this song.

When I was in college, I was on the student newspaper called The Northerner. Just like any other publication, a lot of our content quality was based on the editorial staff. When my friend Jesse came on as interim Editor-in-Chief, we fought to get back to serious journalism. We pissed people off, and did our best to write about things that mattered. Things that the administration didn’t want the students knowing.

See, just as many administrations, NKU believed that they were the parents and we were the children. There were just things that we were better off not knowing. And at The Northerner, we couldn’t have disagreed more. After Jesse was editor, Cassie stepped in, then I did. In hindsight, I wasn’t an amazing editor. But I did my best. And overall, I feel like The Northerner made a difference.

That preface was needed because Jesse and I danced through the office to this song on multiple occasions. I wore my keys on a carabiner, so they jingled like a janitor when I shimmied. Our staff thought we were idiots, but we didn’t care.

But it goes in one ear, and right out the other,
People talkin’ shit, even though they never bother,
It goes in one ear, and right out the other,
People talkin’ shit, they can kiss the back of my hand!

You hear that?
You hear what’s coming?
Oh, you better run for the hills
‘Cause we’re coming to your town
And we’re gonna burn that motherfucker down

Here’s the moral to the story
We don’t do it for the glory
We don’t do it for the money
We don’t do it for the fame
So all the critics who despise us
Go ahead and criticize us
It’s your tyranny that drives us
Adds the fire to our flames

Those words couldn’t have been truer. We had administration and professors saying that our stories were lies, when we had the legal docs to prove otherwise. We had people threatening to sue us, and departments that wouldn’t speak to us. We needed a song that allowed us to laugh it all off.

Now that I’ve graduated and I have a much less controversial job (ironically), I still enjoy this song, but it speaks to me in a different way.

As mentioned, Cage the Elephant has grown in popularity and as artists. Their newest album, Melophobia, released in 2013 is less raw than their first two. Their sound is still enjoyable to listen to in day-to-day life, but I find that I need the edge that their self-titled album had. And the memories.