Tag Archives: guitar

Strive Roots Opens for War – Downtown San Diego

This Friday, Sept, 23rd, the incredibly talented band Strive Roots is opening up for classic funk band War. If you’ve never heard of Strive Roots, let this video recorded by MusicWithoutLabels at last year’s THC Music Fest, give you your first taste. Eli (lead guitar) does something with the guitar I’ve never seen ANYONE ever do. I still can’t figure out how he does it. Check it out:

With tunes like that, and one of my favorites, Communicate: along with a whole slur of new material, this show is going to be ridiculous! If you’re in Southern Cali, and you like to dance and jam the f*k out, you’re definitely going to want to catch this. Tickets are on sale here, or you can email Eli directly at eli@striveroots.com, and maybe he’ll hook you up!

Strive Roots also plays tonight at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood at 11:30 pm. If you don’t happen to be in town, you can check out all that Strive Roots has to offer at striveroots.com or on Facebook. This band is seriously going to blow up soon, unquestioned. Don’t miss em!

Written by: Dante Cullari

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Alex Brubaker – Deconstructing The Temporal Lobe [NEW MUSIC]

What would rock music be without the guitar?  What would most music today be without the guitar?  It’s difficult to imagine, and nearly impossible to really think about.  We wouldn’t have Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and other legends that have directly influenced much of today’s music.  Fortunately, we can all relax because the guitar exists.  However, for Alex Brubaker, the guitar is not just a guitar.  It’s a rhythm section and an entire musical ensemble that can be looped, distorted, delayed, scratched, hit, tapped, and transformed into new musical opportunities.  With influences ranging from Dream Theater to Trace Bundy, you might expect that his style would reflect progressive experimentation with this age-old instrument.  You would be close to correct, but listen for yourself to one of his songs called “Ice Mountain.”

After starting on prog rock and metal in high school, Brubaker transformed his style by applying the same ideas and techniques to the acoustic guitar, but that’s not all.  He has incorporated looping, tapping, alternate tuning, and using two guitars.  His creativity is refreshing and his ideas are unique.  Brubaker released his debut album called Deconstructing the Temporal Lobe in September 2009 after only two years of experimenting with percussive fingerstyle guitar.  You’ve got to give it another listen if you are the least bit interested in the guitar or if you just like music!  In this next song, Alex incorporates both acoustic and electric guitar to create a pretty dope riff.  It’s called “Phoenix.” Check it out.

Slightly different than your typical I IV V, huh?  In today’s music industry, we get sucked into songs with the same progressions, forms, rhythms, and bass lines.  It’s like walking through an art gallery with paintings, sculptures, and art forms that are just modern copies of what’s been done before.  They’re good, but they are just communicating what’s been said in earlier paintings without any creative change.  It’s not only rare to try to be an innovative artist, but it’s also difficult.  Similar to the rise of street art in recent years, the rise of new independent music has seemed to explode through channels like youtube and social media.  It’s easier now than ever to go searching for new artists and music because of technology.

Alex Brubaker likes to challenge music.  What new sounds can I make using this instrument, and what obscure pattern of rhythms can I fit here?  These are common questions for Alex.  His debut album Deconstructing the Temporal Lobe features sounds and feelings created by using the guitar in a variety of ways.  With electric and acoustic, distorted and clean, Alex displays a mixture of experimentation on the guitar that makes for great listening anytime.  Songs like “Phoenix” display powerful riffs with creative loops and textures, while songs like “Debris of a Brainstorm” take you from one melodic idea to another.  When you listen to Alex Brubaker’s songs, they allow your mind to relax and just listen, because each guitar medley paints an incredible picture.  Check out more of his music and purchase Deconstructing the Temporal Lobe at alexbrubakerguitar.com.

By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC.

Jeremy Parsons – “Doggondest Feelin'” [NEW MUSIC]

Time to hear some country music!  I’m not talking about pop country contemporaries like Taylor Swift or Lady Antebellum…  I’m talkin’ ’bout some good old traditional country like Hank Williams and George Straight.  I’m talking about Jeremy Parsons, a significant up-and-coming singer-songwriter in the Nashville country music scene.   It’s not often that you meet younger guys interested in traditional country music, but this 22 year-old has taken it to another level.  He grew up in San Antonio Texas surrounded by country music since he was young.  His father worked at a country radio station, so Parsons became accustomed to the vibe from a very young age.  While most high schoolers played the top 40, Jeremy stuck to what had been running through his veins.  Check out this video of the title track from his debut album “Doggondest Feelin.’”

From being widely recognized at songwriter rounds to being a frequent backstage guest at the Grand Ole Opry, you can’t miss the stage presence and personality of Jeremy Parsons.  With over 750 songs in his personal catalogue (ASCAP), it’s no wonder why his songs have hit the country radio stations so soon.  Shortly after moving to Nashville two years ago, local bluegrass legends The Grascals cut a Parsons song called “Out Comes the Sun.”  In recent news, Jeremy was the 2011 winner of the Artistic Excellence Award for the 9th Annual Texas Music Awards.

It was a pleasure to meet Jeremy at The Commodore on July 15.  We talked about everything from current music industry business and pop culture to the struggles of local musicians and the logic in how to grow one’s career.  It’s not surprising that he quickly signed with local PCG Nashville Records in 2009.  If there is anyone to boost life back into traditional country, it’s Jeremy Parsons.  “I am a ‘blast from the past’ or ‘blast of the past,’ reviving a sound that I feel is missing these days. I have taken it upon myself to take the torch from the hands of Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner and Little Jimmy Dickens and carry it front and center to the Grand Ole Opry stage.”  Parsons has a long list of influences with the likes of Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young, Bob Wills, Jim Reeves, Elvis, Johnny Horton, and Johnny Cash to name a few.   If you’re a country music fan of any kind, or even just a regular music fan, check out Jeremy Parsons today!

By: Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

Striking Matches (Common Thread) at CMA Fest 2011 in Nashville, TN [MUSIC]

I’ve never really been too interested in popular country music, so I was very hesitant about exploring CMA Fest on Broadway in Nashville last month.  However, the Best Buy stage outside the Hard Rock Café was the start to a good time in the country music realm.  This is because I got to hear Striking Matches (pka Common Thread) take the stage with for an acoustic set in the heat of a summer afternoon, and was thoroughly entertained.  Striking Matches is a country duo from Nashville, TN that combines their talent on guitar with outstanding harmonies and great songs that everyone can enjoy.  Their sound  and performance at CMA Fest 2011 was awesome!  The acoustic guitars sounded so fresh, the punch of the Cajon sounded like a studio kick, and the harmonies were nothing but dialed in.  It was somewhere around 95 degrees and the music coming from the stage took my mind off the heat.  The group on stage consisted of duet vocals with acoustic guitars, a bass player, and a cajon player.  They were tight, and they could play.  Check out this song by Striking Matches called “Not the One.”

Striking Matches is made up singers/songwriters/guitarists Sarah Zimmerman and Justin Davis.  From Philadelphia, PA, Sarah has played guitar since she was ten and found herself playing alongside legends such as John Wetton, Mike Keneally, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, The Players, and Jon Anderson by the time she finished high school.  From N. Georgia, Justin Davis has had a guitar in his hands for as long as he can remember.  These two talented musicians met years ago when they were both students at Belmont University.  While taking a guitar class together, they found out that their styles blended especially well.  Not only that, but when they each pulled out their electric guitars, the duo discovered that they had the same exact Telecaster guitars with matching colors and all!  It’s no doubt that Striking Matches was an exciting match from the start.  Both of them had been playing guitar for most of their lives, and they each thrived on blues music. Check out this song called “Take Me For A Fool:”

They decided to join forces, collaborate, and begin creating music together as a duo in Nashville.  They soon received management from music executive John Grady at Crush Management’s Nashville office, publishing deals with Universal Music, and a growing fan base.  With combined skills in guitar, vocals, and songwriting, the two create a vibe that is unmatched in country music.  With “lyrics that speak to all,” Common Thread is definitely a band that plenty can relate to.  Their show at CMA Fest 2011 was excellent and I can’t wait to see this duo again, especially since they plan to incorporate their Fender Telies into the act.  Striking Matches has great potential in music and has already started off with some great shows, co-writes, and new album plans in 2011.  Don’t miss their next show August 10 at the Listening Room in Nashville, TN!

By: Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

The Honeymoon Thrillers – “The Honeymoon Thrillers” [MUSIC]

If you’re interested in the Nashville rock scene, you need to know about The Honeymoon Thrillers.  Formed last year in February 2010, the band came together to create some pretty stellar music with influences from The Beach Boys, Elvis, The Clash, and The Strokes.  The band members include Nathan Barlowe (lead vocals, guitar), Cary Barlowe (guitar, vocals), Chris Boyle (bass), Jared Byers (drums), and Josiah Holland (keyboards).  The Barlowe brothers were previously well known for their other project Luna Halo, which received a lot of local attention.  The other members of the group hail from bands The Lonely Hearts, Bleach, and Mean Tambourines.  While the new surf rock group creates sounds similar to The Killers, Kings of Leon, and Weezer, they have definitely developed a distinct sound.  Their self-titled album released June 18, 2010 is loaded with this new vintage, yet modern sound and vibe that will keep you entertained for it’s entirety.  “Shine,” “Summer Song,” and “Sally Don’t Be So Mad” are just a few of the great songs on this record.  Produced by Chris Granger, the album was certainly able to naturally capture all of the songs in a way that listeners could get a perfect feel for the band.  “We used 3 mics on the drums and one in the hallway all recorded in mono.”  With final help from Grammy award-winning engineer Vance Powell (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather), The Honeymoon Thrillers finalized a great mix for a killer debut album.  Take a listen:

Soundcloud:

The idea of The Honeymoon Thrillers started when Nathan Barlowe began writing songs with inspiration from old records that his dad and uncle used to listen to.  The unique style and sound of their music began when Barlowe left a distortion pedal on while recording demos.  “I realized I had never really heard anything like what was happening. It was retro and modern all at once.”  That was the point when he knew that this had to come together, so he brought his brother and friends on board.  Check out this video for one of my favorite songs from The Honeymoon Thrillers called “Summer Song:”

The Honeymoon Thrillers stepped right onto the scene last spring with a debut show at SXSW in Austin, TX and feature performances at Next Big Nashville and CMJ festival in NYC.  With additional attention from magazines like SPIN and various websites, the band became a sure up-and-coming phenomenon that would continue to make significant progress in the Nashville rock scene.  Even Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill has given attention by laying down bass on their first record.  I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from The Honeymoon Thrillers in years to come.  Listen to and purchase their album here.

By: Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

Strand of Oaks Live at The Basement in Nashville, TN [SHOW]

One thing that sets Nashville apart from most cities is that you can take a chance of just showing up at one of the city’s staple venues on almost any night and be completely taken away by the talent on stage.  I had one of those nights last week when I decided to check out The Basement in Nashville to scratch my Saturday night concert itch.  Allow me to describe what it was like to hear Timothy Showalter’s Strand of Oaks perform songs from his album Pope Killdragon.  From my hometown of Philadelphia, PA, Strand of Oaks performs by creating a masterful tone with his guitar and voice.  The combination of pedals and reverb create a beautiful sound that allows you to really enter in to each and every song.  With apocalyptic imagery and the creation of new worlds that seem somewhat familiar, the songs elaborate more than most with quality in writing. Check out this awesome song called “Bonfire:”

Strand of Oaks’ performance was pretty epic for a guy and his guitar.  He enters in to each song, fully emulating the emotion that it deserves.  Following each dramatic song, Timothy emits a lighthearted smile, which is rare in many singer-songwriter performances today.  To the audience member, it seemed to show that this artist was privileged to be able to share his music with me, and I was certainly privileged to hear it.  There was a fun side to this apocalyptic poet, like between songs when he said, “If only I could write a song about flip-flops.”  I, for one, am thankful that his creativity encompasses more than just songs about popular American footwear.

There seems to be more to Strand of Oaks than meets the eye and ear.  Even with what seems like a rough past, Timothy remains persistant and seemingly more inspired than ever.  He is definitely one of the most gracious and humble artists I’ve had the pleasure to talk to yet.  I would love to take a step inside his mind to view some of what inspires his creative genius.  Margan Galen King describes his most recent album, “Pope Killdragon pulls you in magnetically, forcing your attention to its every word in desperation to comprehend both your own surroundings and the threat looming in the distance.”  I encourage everyone to take a listen to this astonishing album because there is certainly nothing else like it out there.

Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

The Weeknd – “Rolling Stone” [NEW MUSIC]

The Weeknd

The Weeknd just dropped his latest tracks on youtube last week and for some reason it has been removed because it violates Youtubes Terms and Services!!!! DUMB!!! Thanks to soundcloud we were able to grab the original version of this instant acoustic-vibin’ hit brought to you by 2011’s top R&B artist. Definitely staying consistent with his quality continually raising the bar higher and higher for himself. Here is “Rolling Stone”

So we finally got ahold of that track, but that’s not all that’s going on in the music world of The Weeknd. Since his infamous release of House Of Balloons earlier this year, many fans have been comprising music videos for the artist to show there never-ending support. Some videos weren’t really recognized by the Weeknd but others kindly caught his graces such as the most recent release for his track “Wicked Games”. Directed by Storm Saulter

The Dodos – “Companions” [VIDEO]

The Dodos No ColorHaving just released their new album No Color in March of this year, it was just a matter of time until we saw The Dodos drop a video for the fan favorite track “Companions”. Such a beautiful acoustic riff to carry throughout this natural driving tune that comes with an added twist, offered in this new music video release. The San Francisco based duo has developed quite a large following throughout their 4 album career. 3 of which, including the more recent No Color, were released with Frenchkiss Records. This is a very exciting group with a bright future ahead as they continue to quickly grow on the west coast. Visit their Facebook for updates on shows and music and be sure to check out their site for their albums. So please enjoy this hipster road-trip set video and prepare for an eye-popping 180° turn of emotion.

He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister [CONCERT REVIEW]

Last night I went to the monthly residency at LA’s Satellite Lounge which used to be called Spaceland or is still called Spaceland.  I don’t know.  I went for two reasons.  The fist was it was a free show and a good friend of mine asked me to tag along and the second was the self description of He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister on their facebook page.

Flamboyant Folk, Glam-a-billy, Circus Rock, Vaudeville Pop, Cabaret Blues. — HMBSMS

What the f-bomb?  Is this for real?  Could it be true?  Yes it could be true and they lived up to each and everyone of those descriptions.  And oh yea the band features instrumentation such as a TAP DANCER and an accordion.

He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister – How’m I Gonna Get Back Home

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The Haunted Continents [MUSIC]

Little known fact: while Weezer was preparing to record “The Blue Album,” they took singing lessons to practice and perfect the harmonies Rivers was writing.  Out of those sessions came a track featured as the Australian B-side for “Undone” – “My Evaline.”  It’s a short a-capella number that features the group doing their best barbershop quartet and showcases a bit of the band’s musical DNA that is usually overlooked in favor of references to the KISS and Metallica strands.

I imagine one of the two members of The Haunted Continents heard that track and wanted to see what Weezer would sound like if they’d ran with the 50s doo-wop/barbershop sound and added fuzz and distortion without any of the metal touches.  The Gaslight Anthem is blowing up with their Springsteen-in-the-50s act, so why not pay Buddy Holly a little more than lip service?

Good news: it works really, really well.  Where The Gaslight Anthem only plays with lyrical and visual touchstones from the 50s, The Haunted Continents take actual musical elements from the era and re-purpose them to create songs in a more modern indie mold.  Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Jason Downes and drummer/percussionist Matt Cascella keep the tunes catchy and sharp throughout their debut The Loudest Year Ever.  Much of the modern feel comes from the clean production and bright mix that keeps all the elements of the band’s sound balanced, but if it weren’t for that, you’d be forgiven for thinking a track like “Acceptance” comes straight out of a different time and place.

What’s particularly awesome about what the band is doing is how it can help someone like myself re-examine and re-contextualize music that was created decades before I was born.  Put tracks like “Way Down” or “Cure for the Blues,” (maybe the album’s best track – listen below) in a mix with Jerry Lee Lewis, The Coasters and Sam Cooke and note how similar elements of the vocal performances and instrumentation are.  Listening to opener “2nd Street Blues” take old sounds and make them screamingly fresh, makes it easy to imagine – hear, even – what a blast of exciting energy someone like Jerry Lee Lewis must have been in his time.

The album can be purchased on BandCamp here, and while dropping some cash on The Haunted Continents recorded material is well worth it (seriously, it’s the cost of a good sandwich), I’m gonna take a wild guess that they’d absolutely kick your ass at a live show.  It’s hard to listen to the grungy guitar tones of  the aforementioned “2nd Street Blues” and not imagine that thick, bellowing riff blasting off a stage and ripping the paint from the walls of a small bar.  Downes’ voice – warbling in its high register and crooning when lower – is absolutely begging to rip free.

Here’s hoping they come through LA and I can find out if I’m right.

Check out features on the band on Alter the Press and AbsolutePunk.

“Cure For the Blues”:

By: Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @ChriswithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC