Friday, December 22, 2006

Top 5 Albums of 2006

This is is an annual event for us where each of the band members deliver their Top 5 Favorite Albums of the Year to you, the reader.
As always, the disclaimer still stands: These are our favorite records of the year, we are not saying that they were the best. Otherwise you, the reader, would probably disagree.

So without further ado, I bring you the tunes that we rocked out to in '06.
Feel free to post your favorites in the comments.

JoAnna's Top 5 Records of 2006:

5. Saves The Day - Sound the Alarm
After I finish my daily dose of metal, I manage to put in Sound the Alarm, Saves The Day's newest release. Again, this album took some getting used to, but I began to get used to it after five or six spins. This album strayed from the path that Stay What You Are and In Reverie led, but rather went back to the styles of Through Being Cool. Sweetness.

4. Bury Your Dead - Beauty and the Breakdown
I recently started listening to these guys and I wasn't too fond of them at first. I gave the album a second chance and realized they had an awesome keyboard as well. It's like Bleeding Through meets Hatebreed. Two very good bands that should mate and have babies. Babies that rock!

3. Bleeding Through - The Truth
This album came out at the beginning of the year and honestly, I don't listen to it as much as I used to, but one look at the "most plays" list on iTunes and it's easy to see that I listened to this way more than anything else this year. Again, adrenaline pumping, fast paced... yes, I love it. Seeing them play at Hard Rock Live with Every Time I Die was the icing on the cake. After seeing the keyboardist (FEMALE!) rock on stage, I gave them extra credit, just because (What? Who's biased?).

2. Thursday - A City by the Light Divided
Okay. So everyone hates this album because of the quality of the recording. GET PAST THAT. If you can actually listen to the tracks as they were intended, you'll hear beautiful songs and gut-wrenching tracks that make me listen to it over and over. Lovesong Writer is an extremely slow song that is way out of my style, but I am entranced by it. Yes, this album was recorded "live," but it's one more step in the right direction for the band.

1. Unearth - III: In the Eyes of Fire
Oh. My. Goodness. This album kicks ass. Like, OMFGROLFAACD, aka - Oh My F**cking Goodness Rock Out Loud Amazing CD. From track one to the instrumental ending of Big Bear & the Hour of Chaos, everything blows me away. I don't care that I can't understand a word he's saying, the raw feeling of the album is nothing less than incredible. If you can make my adrenaline jump that high, you've done your job well as a metal band. Perfect 10.

Honorable Mention:
Streetlight Manifesto - Keasbey Nights, Vol. 2

Doug's Top 5 Records of 2006:

5. Good Clean Fun - Between Christian Rock and A Hardplace
This is how melodic hardcore is supposed to be. Loud, fast, catchy and funny are just a few of the words that could be used to describe this album, and all of them would fit. This is one of those bands that will forever refuse to fall in line with whatever subgenre is hip these days and will always stick to their guns. I get the impression that I will never be surprised by what I hear from a Good Clean Fun record.

4. Rocky Votolato - Makers
It had been a while since I'd heard a great "one guy and an acoustic guitar" type record. This is the next great one. This isn't Rocky's first album but it's the first one where his potential really becomes fulfilled. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he follows this one up because it's gonna be hard.

3. Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
One of the few albums I've ever heard where it's the lyrics and not so much the songs that make it great. Brand New has reinvented themselves in between every single album they've released and their albums always challenge the listener. Very few people can honestly say they enjoyed either Deja Entendu or this album on the first listen, but they become great. Keep listening if you gave up on this record you will be rewarded.

2. The Format - Dog Problems
A great example of a band evolving without forgetting why they became popular in the first place. Catchy songs. This band got more mature on this release and this sounds like the album they wished "Interventions and Lullabies" could have been if it weren't for major label interference. The title track might be the song of the year in my opinion, but we'll see I haven't made that list yet.

1. Blackpool Lights - This Town's Disaster
The Get Up Kids were great, everybody knows that, but Jim Suptic's first post-GUK project is better than all but one Get Up Kids album. This album has some of the greatest pop songs I've ever heard. Didn't leave my CD player for at least 4 months and that's good enough for number 1

Honorable Mention:
I discovered the Smoking Popes recently and I would encourage everyone to go find a copy of their 1997 album "Destination Failure". The Popes have recently reunited and I can't wait to hear what they come up with next.

Bert's Top 5 Records of 2006:

5. Saosin - Saosin
4. Billy Talent - Billy Talent II
3. Rory - We're Up to No Good, We're Up to No Good
2. Unearth - III: In The Eyes OF Fire
1. Breaking Benjamin - Phobia

Wes's Top 5 Records of 2006

I'll be completely honest. I spent most of the year listening to music from 2005. There were only a handful of records for 2006 that blew me away and commanded my attention, so I guess this would be them.

5. Taking Back Sunday - Louder Now
I had a difficult time deciding who would take the number 5 spot on my countdown. As you can see, Taking Back Sunday won out. I owe a lot to TBS. As with most people in my age group, they were one of the bands to really expose a lot of listeners to the current scene and I'm so glad they are where they are in their careers. When I first heard their debut, Tell All Your Friends, I was just beginning to write songs and by listening to that record it gave me an idea of how meaningful lyrics could still be over face-melting guitar riffs. When half the band left to form Straylight Run, I really didn't want anything to do with them anymore. The second album Where You Want to Be really kind of dragged and seemed like a band releasing their first record all over again. At one point I read an article on the band in Alternative Press and kind of gained a new found respect for them. There was an interview with Adam Lazarra and he talked about the situation of two band members leaving and how they really did throw together their second record so they wouldn't be dropped by their label. I was very hesitant to even listen to Louder Now but when they released the single "MakeDamnSure" I really felt it was a throwback to their original style and I was welcoming to the new members once I realized that their new singer/guitarist Fred was a heck of a writer. I can listen to this record start to finish without skipping a track. I've never had the pleasure of seeing these guys live, but I have seen a ton of live video on the internet and they are the rockstars for this generation. I hope they're still releasing records in ten years.
Standout tracks include: Liar (It Takes One to Know One) / Twenty Twenty Surgery / Error Operator

4. Action Action - An Army of Shapes Between Wars
I was really looking forward to this record from the second I heard the release date. Action Action is definitely one of those bands that has their own sound. There's really no one who sounds like them, regardless of what Victory Records tells you on their stickers. Sometimes their songs are catchy as hell, other times the songs are just noise, but regardless of what sound they happen to be recording, they do it well. This record was released back in January and the fact that it is still in constant rotation on my iPod speaks volumes of it's quality. I've learned a lot from their music that I would love to incorporate into our own. Plus I'm just a sucker for bands who do cool things with vintage synthesizers. Also, I read that they even built some synths and guitar pedals of their own for use on this album. That's just freakin' sweet. As with both CD's from this band, they flow very well and segue amazingly from song to song with short poppy electronic interludes. Some people don't like Mark Kluepfel's voice, but I find it very haunting which matches the music and lyrical content nicely. People who have reviewed "An Army..." had a blast giving this record a 1 Star review, but I give it a 5. For me, great records bookmark a certain time in your life and whenever you listen to that album you are transported back to exactly where you were when you first listened to it and it brings back all kinds of emotions and memories. This is one CD that will take my mind on quite a trip if I let it. Apparently I'm sentimental after all. Who knew?
Standout tracks include: A Tornado; An Owl / The Game / 120 Ways To Kill You: An Illustrated Children’s Book

3. Inkwell - These Stars Are Monsters
Inkwell rose from the ashes of My Hotel Year, one of the best local and live bands I have had the pleasure of seeing. After they went on one of those Hip in '06 "indefinite hiatus" breaks, this project popped up a few months later with their first disc "Chaos Reveals Rhyme", but "These Stars..." went above and beyond that disc in every way possible. The songs themselves go everywhere but where you expect and you can hear the passion in singer Travis Adam's voice burning in every line of every song. Seeing them live was amazing. I saw them in a tiny little venue and yet felt like I was at an arena rock show. But back to the record, it's awesome to see a band who's not trying to follow any trends, but instead blazing their own sonic path through the local scene. They were quickly picked up by local label 111 Records and soon after, hopped on tour with Mae. There's a reason that they rose to the top so quickly. Listen, and you'll see why. There are definite Death Cab for Cutie comparisons to be made, but the two brains behind Inkwell know how to craft a pop song in true indie rock fashion. You'll go start to finish, not skipping a song, and hit the Play button again once the disc has ended. Inkwell has solidified themselves as the best that Orlando currently has to offer.
Standout tracks include: Just Take the Monkey and Leave / No You Drop It / These Stars Are Monsters

2. +44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating
This dark horse was released in mid-November and solidified itself at the number two spot simply because I listened to it non-stop at work for about 2 weeks straight. Not only did it drive my co-workers crazy, but the songs embedded themselves in my brain and I think it's some of the catchiest songwriting that I heard this year. Every song on this CD with the exception of two could be hit singles. Now THAT'S how you write a record. My only complaint is that it's over too quickly. I told myself that I wouldn't count any records released in November/December in this countdown, but this one is too good not to. Mark Hoppus, you are the man, and this showed me where the real talent was within Blink-182.
As a sidenote: Sorry Mr. Delonge, your Angels & Airwaves record was painful for me to listen to and I would like a refund.
If this is only the first record for +44, then I cannot wait to hear what happens in the future.
Standout tracks include: When Your Heart Stops Beating / Little Death / Make You Smile

1. The Progress - Merit
I don't know what I can say about this band that I haven't already said 8 bazillion times. So I'll say it again. These are some of the nicest and most talented individuals that I have had the privilege of listening to, hanging out with, and sharing the stage with. I picked up this record, hit the play button, and never looked back. I wouldn't dream of skipping a single song on this release as I would only be doing myself a disservice. Once again, my only complaint here is that it's over so quickly. Some songs barely clock in at over two minutes, but they do what they do, and they do it quite well. If I had to choose a record as my "Soundtrack to 2006" then this is it.
The sound quality is impeccable, the call-and-response vocals are spot on, and I think both Mike McNelis and Evan Weiss have very original sounding voices and are easy to listen to. Another major highlight is that the theme for the record is very easily overlooked. You just expect bands nowadays to write about broken hearts and impossible love, but this record is all about friends. I'd give anything to find out the secret to their songwriting, but until I do, I'll just shut up and keep listening. They recommend you listen with headphones.
Standout tracks include: Nightlife: Tornado Alley / Paper And Ink / Merit

Honorable Mention:
My choice for honorable mention is the band Say Anything with their disc a Real Boy. Sometimes in life a record comes into your ears right when you need it most. This record taught me a lot about myself and music in general. I highly recommend giving it a listen if for some odd reason you have not, and please go see them live if you can since they definitely put on the best live show that I saw in 2006. I'd love to tell you some standout tracks from this record, but just listen start to finish and you'll hear them.

That's it for our end of the year round-up. Be sure to check out our individual MySpace pages for additional Top 5's, Top 10's, and general randomness about the year 2006 in music.

It's vacation time for us, but stay tuned as we may have interesting stories from our Holiday destinations.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Return of the ENY

Right, so we played a show this past weekend. Our first show in almost six weeks. Were we a little rusty? Maybe, but we did a ton of practicing over our break and things sounded good. It was one of those nights where the sound was great both on stage and in the crowd. We were the opening act at Back Booth, supporting Auto! Automatic!!, Inkwell, and History.
First off, I have to admit that this show almost didn't happen for us. Doug and JoAnna were both under the weather and JoAnna was slowly getting worse as the day went on. By the time we were loading up the van to head into downtown, she was on her hands and knees in the yard unloading her lunch onto the grass. Sorry JoAnna... hope that's not embarassing for you.

We started off the night around 9:30 to a reasonably packed house. We had planned for nine songs but only managed to squeeze in eight. We made that difficult decision of not playing Girl Like Her. That's always scary not playing that song since it usually is the deciding factor on how many CDs we sell in a night. Somehow we only managed to play three songs from "Sarcasm" and instead decided to focus on jamming out our newer, stronger material. We even debuted a brand new song called The Sick Charade and honestly, it was probably one of the best songs in our set. Even with JoAnna barely able to stand, so made it through the entire set without missing too many beats. She's such a trooper.

Auto! Automatic!!, from Tampa, were up second and played some cool instrumental songs. I'm usually not into that type of thing, but they had song structures that were like normal songs, and you never really noticed that no one ever really sang. I must say that they were really nice dudes. Really nice dudes who love to party, apparently. They had never played the Back Booth before so they were all walking around with big smiles on their faces. Their drummer talked to me forever and updated me on all the cool places to play in Tampa and Ybor. Once we were finished playing he caught me at the bar and was telling me how much we reminded him of Piebald. That was probably the best compliment I received on our music all night.

Inkwell was set to play third and as always, decided to bring 600 different intruments to the stage. They had 2 drum kits, many many guitars, a keyboard and an instrument that may or may not have been a farfisa. They rocked out a great collection of new and old songs and the crowd went nuts. It's always so much fun seeing those guys live. They just get on stage and make noise and the crowd just eats it up.

History played last. What a band. These guys and girls are definitely doing their own thing. They also have a Moog player and a gal playing another synth and manage to stick lots of crazy sounds into their songs without sounding cluttered. They're all very nice people as well and we had blast hanging out with them throughout the night.

Overall, we met a ton of great people and heard a lot of great music. Thankfully JoAnna pulled through and is getting better, and I'm currently the ill one. Thanks to anyone who came out to the show, hopefully we'll be back at Back Booth for their New Year's Eve show and rock the place all over again.

On Saturday we all jump on planes and head our separate ways for the Holidays and then we come back, have less than 24 hours to practice and then get our butts to the next show. Good times all around.

Lastly, my next entry here WILL have our Top 5 end of the year lists. So tune in to see what the members of ENY have been rocking out to as of late.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I almost stepped on her!

Why do things always get so crazy in December?
It's coming down to the end of the year and everyone has ten million things to think about and process within their brains.
Did I get all my holiday shopping done?
Did I forget anyone?
Do I still have time to book a flight to Antarctica... er, Ohio?
How long will I be gone?
Do I want to be gone that long?
How many ENY shirts do I have to take with me?

On top of all that I'm trying to get our show itinerary in place for the new year. As far as that goes, things are going very smoothly. We'll be playing some great shows with a few more to be added to the calendar in the coming days.

Last night we hit the streets of Orlando to promote our show on Saturday. We headed to The Social for the Kiteline CD release show. As we got there, some band with the word "King" in their name was mid-way through their set. We worked the room a bit trying to find both targets of our flyer assault and familiar faces. I saw some guys from Pop.Culture.Clash. and another band I can't remember the name of. Wow, why did I even bother mentioning that?
Orlando favorite Cori Yarckin played second. She's so short that I almost stepped on her as she was making her way to the stage. She's one of those pop girls with a backing band. As far as I could tell she wanted the crowd to focus more on her abs than on her voice.
Between the Trees rocked the house once she had finished and played a really solid set. When we played with them a few months back I was so concerned with talking to people and packing up gear that I only half-watched their set. This time they got my full attention and I was pretty impressed. We got to chat with them after they played and it was a fun little reunion.
Kiteline was up after that and did a half hour or so of tunes from their new EP which came free with admission. I'll get around to checking that out eventually, but I grabbed a copy of the Between the Trees record at the show and I've been spinning that instead.
After that we ran down to Back Booth and unloaded a few flyers and then dragged Doug out of the venue so that we could leave even though there were two more bands to play and it was already midnight. He was bitter and drunk, but we're pretty used to that by now.

Show. Saturday. Soon.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Eastern or European?

I've been waiting for a chance to get back at this thing and I finally found my opportunity. The last week was full of band practices, holiday shopping, and sitting around hitting the Refresh button on our PureVolume page. Speaking of PureVolume, our reign has now ended but I think we picked up a few new fans and got a lot of great feedback. We'll keep an eye on the numbers to see if our promotion campaign was worth it or not.

Also, last week when I was out picking up the new Gwen Stefani record, The Sweet Escape for Amanda (that record is halfway decent. If you were a fan of the first, pick this one up too, but don't expect to be blown away. New No Doubt record, please?) I happened to pick up another record on a whim. I was walking the aisles of Best Buy waiting for something to grab at my attention. Finally something did. So not knowing much about the recording and being familiar with only one song, I grabbed the FBR release The Same Old Blood Rush With A New Touch by Cute is What We Aim For.
Did I get the title of the record right? I only read it in the store.
Since I've had a few days to digest this album I quickly developed a love/hate relationship with it. First off, their singer has a halfway decent voice and is able to hit a lot of good notes. The music is very simple, but everything is very catchy. Each tune got stuck in my head after I heard it.
HOWEVER.... the reason that I cannot fully appreciate this CD and quote it on my MySpace and AIM Away Messages is because I cannot in any way, shape, or form relate to what is being said in the lyrics. I completely understand why this one was such a hit with the kids, because everything is seemingly written to cater to 16 year old girls. All the songs are about things that I stopped dealing with about 6 years ago. A solid release, perhaps next time they'll have something worthwhile to say. Quite forgettable though, because as soon as I remembered that I had the new Piebald record, that re-took over the assault on my eardrums.

Also, I saw the movie Lucky Number Sleven. I remember this being in theaters but really had no idea what it was about. Amanda and I just kinda went for it (since it was the only movie on the list we were familiar with) and I'm glad I watched it because it's possibly the best movie I saw all year.

Okay, I got all the news out of my system. Tonight the band is heading down to The Social to see Between the Trees and Kiteline play. We'll be handing out flyers for our gig this Saturday, so you might catch us wandering the streets if you happen to be out and about tonight.

Have a great week. I'll say more when I know more.

Top 5's of 2007 coming soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

PureVolume Power!

Yesterday began our reign of terror on the front page. We actually managed to nab very close to 5,000 plays in our first 24 hours on there. We smoked the rest of the bands holding Promo Spots (with the exception of the Major Label acts) by about 2,500 plays. It was enough to kick us up to #2 on the overall unsigned charts and #1 on the Powerpop and Emo charts. Awesome.
We had done this same promotion technique a year ago and didn't quite recieve the response we had hoped for. We only had our EP available for listen, so this time we decided to send our song Lifeless into battle in order to rock the listener and hopefully get it stuck in their head so they would come back for more. I guess we'll see how everything goes, but we're hoping to widen our fanbase a bit and gauge how people are reacting to some of our newer music.

Also, we've added another show! This one is on January 20th in Gainesville, FL where we'll be opening for our buddy Josh Mccabe at the 1982 Bar. His music project, Along the Sidelines, is releasing a CD and we get to party with them! If you're in the area, stop on by.

Guess that's it for now, keep listening and we'll keep creating.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Killer Show!

Yesterday I recieved some of the best news we've had...well...ever.

Over the last couple Blog entries here I've spoken about our upcoming show on Saturday, December 16th at Back Booth in Orlando, FL.
We finally got the full line up and let me tell you, it's breathtaking.

Not only will we be taking the stage at some point in the evening, but joining us will be Tampa's Auto! Automatic!! and fellow Orlando Moog-rockers History, not to mention 111 Records Artist Inkwell who recently did a tour with the band Mae. This is going to be a killer show and you should not miss it for the world.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Their misery is my amusement.

Today I'd like to share with you one of the perks of my job.

Often times, in order to get away from staring at a computer I step outside to enjoy the sights. I live in Florida where it's beautiful almost year round, so why not enjoy it?

Right above the office where I work is a therapist that does counseling sessions for couples. Often times I get to see them arrive for their appointments and they never fail to amuse me. The couples show up, meet by the staircase leading to the counselor's office and then proceed to head in for their session. Most times the couples arrive in separate cars and spend five minutes arguing with each other before heading in, sometimes they rendezvous in complete silence. For these moments I am either forced to witness their bouts of anger and get an understanding of just why they need this therapy, but when they are silent I take the liberty of making up my own assumptions about them and their current situation.
If I happen to witness a really good argument, I will make a mental note to be back outside an hour later to witness them post-counseling. I'm sick and twisted like that.

The very first couple I witnessed, Jack and Joan (the names are made up because I don't actually talk to these people), met up and Joan proceeded to yell at Jack at high volumes because the previous night he had gone to a bar after work and arrived home an hour later than usual. This lead Joan to assume that he had hooked up with approximately 18 high school cheerleaders over the course of that hour. Jack was adamant about trying to get her to calm down since they were out in public and I was standing a mere ten feet away, but that only forced Joan to continue her slander to both Jack and everyone else within a five mile radius.
I saw this couple more than anyone else. They eventually stopped showing up. I had to assume that Jack had probably taken his own life from having to deal with her.
And so it goes.

Another couple I witnessed were Rick and Robin (again, these are false names). They were a couple that arrived in silence and left in silence each taking their own vehicle to their own destinations, which I'm guessing were not the same place. This is one of those times where I had to make up a reason for them needing counseling. Since Rick was short and fat with a bad case of hair loss, I assumed that he probably wasn't hooking up with many cheerleaders these days. Robin was several years younger, stern looking, and always dressed like she was going to a funeral. Perhaps in the end, she was. From what I could gather, Robin was middle management at a semi-successful company and was weary from being passed over for every promotion. In her eyes, she would never fully succeed in the "man's world" that is software engineering. She was a feminist who owned sixteen cats and had an insatiable lust for "Cherry Garcia" ice cream. Rick was a narcoleptic hypochondriac with an insatiable lust for Big Mac's. As irony would have it, the trigger for his narcolepsy was cats.
You can just see the drama unfolding in your mind.

Sure, there have been other couples and other stories and I really wish that I had time to tell you about Sarah the vegetarian and Seth the butcher. They were a good couple.