Westwood & Willow (Album Review)

Kevin Sullivan aka 1/2 of Westwood & Willow (taken by ah-nah on flickr)

Westwood & Willow is full of surprises. Their latest album blew me away with it’s originality and spunk which is needed when you’re in a sea full of other rock bands doing the same exact thing. The band, which consists of brothers Sean and Kevin Sullivan, have taken bluesy rock to a whole new level. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to create a sound that is not only meaningful, but  alarmingly catchy. Their first full length album, Doorways, Vehicles, and Markets, which will be released July 3rd, is a blend of clever lyrics and funky beats. Throughout this review, I will talk about some of my favorite songs off of the album and what I believe they mean (Beware that the conclusions I come to might not be what the Sullivan brothers had in mind when they wrote the songs. But, that’s the point of music, right?) So, check these guys out on myspace and twitter. AND, be sure to download their album off of iTunes. Any band that doubles as a rap group is cool in my book, so take a listen!

1. “Ghost Door” :  This song is a great way to start their album. Right away I was enthralled by the harmonica and the way the song sounded in general. Westwood & Willow really shine in this song and I found myself thinking of Vampire Weekend while listening to them. My favorite lyrics of the song were, ” When two become one, one wants to more. When two are one they’re like a key with a ghost door, they’re going nowhere.” It kind of reminded me of what happens too often; when two people are starting a relationship, one of the people wants the relationship to happen more than the other one does.  One of the things I love most about Westwood & Willow is that they create real stories with their music and this song is no exception.

p.s. Did i mention that hand clapping in songs is one of my favorite things? This song gets an A+ just for that!

2. “Colours”: The lyrics of this song are something that most people can relate to. It’s about growing up, and figuring out who you are and reflecting on being a kid. The lyrics read, “When we were younger it was colours that brought us together, and games grew us apart.” How more real can you get? The song also talks about how some people just want everything handed to them in life, rather than working for things. In addition, they also bring up the point that we don’t have anyone real to look up to anymore as role models, which is definitely true seeing as celebrity scandals seem to be the center of everyone’s chatter lately.

3. “Far Away”: I may be in love with song just for the simple lyric, “I’ll be the cream cheese, you be the Jelly, we’ll get on some toast and we can be happy and oh so tasty” Overall, this is a very cute song about writing to someone who is very far away and how contacting them isn’t the same as being with that special someone in person.

4. “Free At Last”:  This is my FAVORITE song off of their album and it’s not just because of the bongos in the background. One part of the song goes, “Grass will grow yellow with age and be cut free and fly away just as our souls may be free at last.” This line of the song is very philosophical;   some philosophers believe that the soul dies with the body, yet others believe that when you die, your soul is set free and is able to figure out the absolute truths of the world. It has time to think and be on it’s own and actually live without distractions.

Overall, I really enjoyed this album and if you listen carefully to what the Sullivan brothers have to say, you will realize that they are true musicians rising to the top of the Bay Area music scene.  I really hope to see these guys succeed in the future and I wish only best for their future music career! They certainly know how to “Take Care of Bizness”

Sean Sullivan aka the other 1/2 of Westwood & Willow (taken by ah-nah on flickr)

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Filed under June 2010

I The Mighty

Reasons why I like this band:

1. Their music is great- aka catchy lyrics, good vocals, etc.

2. They are from the Bay Area

3. Their songs get stuck in my head

4. They are cool people for following me on Twitter

5. Their music is free for download on purevolume. This week only!

6. They are hard working (promoting themselves at Warped Tour 2010 all summer long)

7. They are friends with some of the other bands i have featured such as PK, Picture Atlantic, and Dizzy Balloon.

8. They have an awesome music video that you should watch right now:

I the Mighty – “Technicolor” from I the Mighty on Vimeo.

Follow this band on Twitter!

If you’re in the Bay Area, go check them out live on July 13th, 6 p.m. at The Refuge in Cupertino!

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Filed under June 2010

Picture Atlantic

Oh hey music world. Long time no see. I’m pretty sure that no one consciously follows this blog, but if you do, I am really sorry for not updating it in almost three months. Because of my intense school schedule last quarter, I didn’t have much time to write about bands. But going to a concert Downtown Brew last night sparked my inspiration due to a band called Picture Atlantic. They were amazing and I was even happier when they mentioned they were from San Jose, Calif., just a few minutes shy of my home. I’m not sure even where to begin with this band, but as a warning, this won’t be quite as extravaggant as my posts in the past. This will be more of a run-down on my thoughts and ideas of bands, rather than solely focusing on creating a summary of unsigned bands.

I was first surprised by the lead singer, Nik Bartunek’s, pure and fluid voice that rang throughout Downtown Brew. He approaches the stage in a humble manner grabbing the mic like a pro.  This band isn’t in the industry for fame or money, they are in it to share a message. The title of their album, due out soon, is “Dolce et decorem est.” This title is the same as a famous poem by Owen Wilfred, who is known for his work about war. After the concert, Kelly was interested in the band and sent them an e-mail about their music and it’s meaning. Bartunek replied saying that, “I’m vehemently anti-war, and I think that poem really spoke to me in a lot of ways. I see many parallels between the madness of WW1, and the insanity of our Jingoistic military situation in the middle east.” It’s obvious that their lyrics are poetry just like Wilfred’s. It is inspirational for anyone to hear a true artist like Picture Atlantic. They have a deep connection to their words that you don’t find in many artists today (No offense Ke$ha). Overall, their performance was more than any concert-goer could ask for and I am more than pleasantly surprised with their music.

My favorite song of the night was, “Antiques Unltd,” which is off of their album which is on iTunes April 24, 2010.  The song is almost like a lullaby; the way the guitar is strummed beautifully while Burtanek sings from his soul. True magic. To listen to this song see the live performace below or check out their myspace where many of their new songs are streaming for free. One thing is for sure: if they are in the Bay Area over the summer, I will be the first in line for tickets.

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Filed under April 2010

PK

4 of the 5 members of PK (Credit: Kelly Whelan)

It’s hard to put into words exactly what the guys of PK are all about. When Kelly Whelan (photographer) and I sat down with them at Backstage Pizza after a performance on the Cal Poly campus, it felt more like hanging out with a bunch of close friends rather than an interview. The guys of the band: Travis Hawley, Nick Fotinakes, Matt Depauw, Mikel Van Kranenburg, and Kevin Menesez were all friends long before they were a band. Together, they grew up in Templeton, Calif. right outside of San Luis Obispo and are currently living in Paso Robles. Though the SLO music scene isn’t very big, PK has gathered a very large fan base in the area and beyond. The first thing I wanted to know about this band, that sound an awful lot like a mix between The Kooks and The Killers, was how they got their name.

Being the joksters they are, the guys decided to say that it stood for “Princess Kevin” referring to Kevin Menesez, the drummer of the band. In reality, the name “PK” came from a book called, “The Power of One.” Now, the band decides to play around with the meaning of the name by making jokes from the acronym PK. Another interesting aspect of this band is the fact that they all contribute in the song writing and music making process.

Although Hawley, the lead singer, works on a lot of the vocal parts, all of the band’s songs are born when their ideas are blended together. Their alternative rock sound and poetic lyrics have left me wondering where this band gets inspiration from. Though you may assume that they may be influenced by other bands in their genre, PK mainly listens to country and artists like Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift. Though they can’t necessarily pack up and go on tour, the band knows that their musical journey will take them to where they are supposed to be. They are confident in what they do and know that if a record deal happens, it will happen at the right time. PK wants to take it slow and take the time to build a fan base. As of right now, the band will stay around the San Luis Obispo area, promoting their newly released full length album, “Into the Roaring.”

PK’s  CD, released on January 8, 2010 was the first full length album for the band, yet you wouldn’t know it by the sound of it. Some of my favorite tracks include “The Wolves of the East Coast” and “London,” which is featured below:

Though they aren’t sure of their future, PK knows that they will take each opportunity with pleasure. And one day, maybe they’ll get the chance to fulfill their dream and become the opening act for Taylor Swift. I just know that they are successful and will continue to be as long as they keep their optimism and undeniable charm.

Travis Hawley, the lead singer of PK (Credit: Kelly Whelan)

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Filed under January 2010

South Jordan

 When I first heard South Jordan, from Bloomington, Ind., I literally thought I was listening to Isaac Slade( the lead singer of The Fray) sing soft melodies into my ear. However, I was completely wrong. I still can’t get over the fact that Michael David Hall, the lead singer of South Jordan sounds eerily similar to Slade, in a good way that is. The rest of the boys in the band, Bobby Campbell, Mike Chan, Greg Olsen, and David Witucki create powerful accompaniment that balance out the mellow, yet hard-hitting vocals. Their influences, Coldplay and U2 are also present in their music with their emotional lyrics and piano-driven tunes.

According to South Jordan’s facebook fan page, they, “write songs that hold honest emotion and represent the highest and lowest experiences people go through in life.” Campbell and Hall, the main songwriters combine inspiring and positive lyrics with beautiful sounds to create a mix that closely resembles the band, Augustana.  Some of my favorite songs the band has, include, “Fatal Flaw,” and “Runaway.” Both are upbeat yet soothing with piano melodies, perfect to listen to while doing homework. The band also shot their first music video for their slow number, “Firefly,” which has been heard on the radio in their town, Bloomington.

In addition to their original songs, South Jordan does of a cover of The Fray’s, “You Found Me,” (a great song, might I add?). To hear all of their songs, go to the band’s myspace or southjordanmusic.com. Every guy in the group brings something different and makes the band even more diverse than one would think. While Hall brings the soothing voice, Olsten is a trained jazz musician, Chan brings his influences of his origins in Malaysia, Campbell provides lyrics and stability to the group, and Witucki completes the bands sound with amazing back up harmonies.  

While it may seem as if this is just a recreational activity for the boys, Hall assures everyone that this is not the case. In an article from Indiana University, where they attend college, it said, “We practice every day. We see this band as a full-time job, not a hobby.” This is proven through the accomplishments South Jordan has already made. Not only do they play local shows, but they’ve also traveled to Florida and will continue traveling to Illinois and Michigan to play at Universities. In the near future, the band hopes to send out their music to big record labels, hoping to land a record deal. There is no doubt in my mind that these boys won’t succeed. They definitely have the talent and spunk needed in order to be that fresh face of the rock/pop genre. My prediction: this is the year for South Jordan to shine.

To keep up to date on South Jordan, follow them on twitter.

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Filed under January 2010

Camerae

                     

Most people fall in love at first sight. For me, it was love at first sound. It might (and does) sound cheesy, but I was hooked on this band the first time I heard their songs. Our love story began last night. As I was searching for a new band to feature, I came upon Camerae. The first song I heard from them was their cover of The Ting Ting’s, “That’s Not My Name.” But, I soon realized that this wasn’t all that the band had to offer. Their debut album, “Passage,” which is currently streaming on their myspace, gave me a look at this unsigned band’s full potential. Upon the first note sung out of lead singer, Dave Dobarganes mouth, I knew I would like anything this band created. Camerae has the vocals and beats of Every Avenue, with a hint of Fall Out Boy mixed in. Yet, they are probably the group with the most rock that I’ve featured. They have a grungy, garage band sound to them which makes them all the better.

The members of the band, originally from Orlando, Dave, Adam, Drew, Jonny, and Michael, have been lucky enough to become more than just a band, they are true friends going through this experience together. Adam and Drew, brothers, have been living with Dave for about the last nine years ever since his house burned down. Then, at school, the boys met Adam and after a few experiments, they completed the band with drummer Michael.

On December 1st, Camerae released their first debut album, “Passage,” whose name has many meanings behind it. According to the band’s myspace, “Passage” could mean: a rite of passage, a secret passage or alleyway, or a story. It’s up to the listener to decide what kind of passage they want.  Their facebook also states that their music, “blends ambient beauty and toe-tapping groove with intense delivery and exciting tempo.” This band has the energy needed to put on a grand performance. I am even willing to make the bold statement that this band’s cover of “That’s Not My Name,” is even better than the original.

The guys of Camerae are off to a great start and have a bright future ahead of them. They are eager and excited about their music and embrace their fans with open arms.  The band’s creativity makes them who they are and their listeners appreciate the effort put into their music. They are dedicated and ready to take on the music world, full-force.

Follow this band on Twitter.

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Filed under December 2009

Brave Citizens

This past Saturday night was the first time I went to a local church and the reason will undoubtedly intrigue you: I went for a rock concert. Kelly Whelan, my accomplice and photographer for this blog, and I went to The Refuge in Cupertino to see the band, Brave Citizens. At first, we were a little hesitant to go, seeing as it was a small venue and we didn’t know any of the other bands that were playing. But, before I even heard about the concert, Brave Citizens constantly kept popping up in my iTunes. I honestly have no idea how they got there, but at some point, a while back, I must have dowloaded one of their songs. And I’m glad I did.

The band, which consists of Andrew Capra, Adam Bialik, Alex Jones, and Jarred Dooley, was the first to perform. I found it very strange that they opened the show, mostly because they were better than any other band there and they are pretty well known for an unsigned band. After forming in 2007, Brave Citizens first went on tour in the early months of 2008.  By the time March rolled around, they had already been asked to co-headline The Daily Chorus’ tour. Then, in May, they were given the title of “Unsigned Band of the Month,” by Alternative Press Magazine. To top it all off, the band was asked to perform at specific locations for the Vans Warped Tour that same year.  At all of these shows, the band performed the songs off of their EP.

Brave Citizens first released their debut EP, “Revolutions” at the end of 2007. The EP included tracks, including my favorite, “All or Not,” which was played on Los Angeles’ radio station, KROQ. You can also download a track off of their EP, “The Same Way,” at their website. As the band continued to tour in their lovely van named, The Admiral, they made many new fans a long the way. The guys have shared the stage with infamous bands such as, Lydia, PlayRadioPlay!, and Eye Alaska. But, it’s not just about the music for this band.

Brave Citizens- “All or Not” from avery cruz on Vimeo.

This band has a lot to offer and I wouldn’t doubt it if they were signed to a label in the near future. They are personable and easy to talk to. But, most importantly, they have fun while playig music. Over the summer, the band started working on their first full-length album and started pre-production on it a few weeks ago, setting a release date for sometime in 2010. They are truly a joy to watch perform and I can’t wait to see how far they will go. As their website says, “World, meet Brave Citizens.”

Follow this band on Twitter.

photo taken by Kelly Whelan

Photo taken by Kelly Whelan

Photo taken by Kelly Whelan

Photo taken by Kelly Whelan

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Filed under December 2009