Seasaw, Canceled Plans, Young Ritual Local Show at Mac’s Bar

If you’re having summer concert withdrawals and are looking for the perfect fall show, look no further! As soon as I heard the news that Seasaw, Canceled Plans (solo set), and Young Ritual would hit the stage at Mac’s Bar in Lansing on October 3rd I’ve been buzzing with excitement! I spoke with Michaela Stock of Canceled Plans and Dylan Grantham of Young Ritual to get the scoop on the upcoming show.

Both Stock and Grantham are excited about the gig and are eager to share the stage with some new faces. “I’ve never shared the stage with seasaw or Young Ritual, but I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been gigging since April of 2017, and I’ve never gotten to share the stage with another girl who runs the show. I’m a big fan of seasaw and their work, so it’s an honor to have this first and this show alongside two talented and beautiful women.” Stock writes. It’s remarkable to see such genuine support for other female artists in a male-driven industry. One of the things I love most about supporting my local music scene is seeing the interactions and friendships forming between artists that share the stage whether it’s for a single gig or for a tour.

IMG_3108Not only are Stock and Grantham ready to play with some new faces, but they are also thrilled to get back to Mac’s Bar. For Grantham, this is his first time in performing in Michigan’s capital. “This will actually be my first show in Lansing, so I can’t wait for that part. I definitely have some tricks up my sleeve to make a good first impression.” I’m eager to see what kind of tricks he has to make this show a memorable one. Grantham has been working on finishing up his first EP, and released the first single “Prime” last month! He’ll definitely be playing some new music at the upcoming show along with old favorites.

Stock, on the other hand, is a Lansing native and she’s pumped to get back to her hometown and play at one of her favorite venues. “The last time I played at Mac’s was in September of 2017. It was my first full-band show, and I was opening for Michigander, a band I had followed as a fan since high school. That was for sure a night I’ll never forget. Every time I walk through the doors at Mac’s I’m hit with gratitude and nostalgia for the space. I have so much more to say, but I’m going to leave some stories for the show!” I’ve never seen

IMG_7791While remembering Mac’s Bar and what the venue means to her, Michaela lights up and goes into every detail of the venue and how much she loves it. “I spent the latter half of my teenage years studying the scribbled walls in Mac’s Bar at shows. It was my first “dream venue” to play a show in because I had some of my first experiences with live music in that space. I even met my best friend at Mac’s at a concert. We screamed all the words to the headlining band’s set, and it’s been history ever since. Mac’s Bar did, in fact, end up being the first place I’d ever played a billed gig with tickets, a sound-check, and other artists back in April of 2017. I remember wearing a black dress, carrying my guitar case and pushing open the big wooden door thinking, “What the HECK has my life come to?” (For the record, I’m still figuring that question out.) It was so special.”

Do not sleep on this concert! Each of the acts has a different energy to bring to the stage and it’s sure to be a good night. Get tickets to the show here!

-Swaggie Maggie

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Hit Reset – The Julie Ruin

In 2016, American garage-rock band The Julie Ruin released their second album, Hit Reset. This hidden gem is reminiscent of lead singer, Kathleen Hanna’s days in Bikini Kill and the Riot-grrrl movement, while staying on point with the cultural, social, and political aspects of life in 2016 to 2018. After releasing a solo album under the alias of Julie Ruin in 1998, Hanna decided to make the band a full time project. In 2010, The Julie Ruin was formed in New York City by Hanna, Carmine Covelli, Sara Landeau, Kathi Wilcox, and Kenny Mellman.

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Hit Reset was received well by music sources and critics, and received an 8.2 out of 10 in a Pitchfork review, making it clear that the record is definitely worth listening to. Since the music falls into the punk-sphere, the album is not commercially known due to the popularity and demand for pop and rap music. I had never heard of Hit Reset or The Julie Ruin until just a few weeks ago, and I consider myself musically diverse, especially in the rock world. After listening to the album on repeat for a few weeks, I’m positive that everyone in The United States needs to hear it. They need to hear Hanna screaming, and feel her pain, and realize her triumphs with her.

I believe that music is powerful, in any capacity. That’s why it makes me upset when pop music on the radio is mindless and inappropriate. Musicians have a huge platform and they should use it to promote positive messages, and stories about their lives that people can relate to and learn from. Hanna uses Hit Reset to tell her story, and I think that people would gain a sense of empathy towards people by hearing this record. By traveling through Hanna’s journey, listeners are able to share her experiences with her, and feel for her. In a review from Pitchfork, the album is described as “The chance to tip her experiences onto a sterile surface and assess each memory’s impact before dropkicking it into oblivion; the kind of process that’s often only possible when you’ve looked death in the face. It’s Hanna’s most personal work” (Snapes). Hanna proves her power and “she triumphs at every decibel” (Powers).

Hanna has Lyme disease and has been battling it for years. It has forced her to take time off from making music, but she has never backed down from a fight. A review from NPR Music describes Hanna as “both the dissembled survivor and the furious avenger” (Powers). In 2013, a documentary titled “The Punk Singer” was released about her life, and that experience rings through Hit Reset. When I first listened to the album, I was a little conflicted. I was immediately reminded of sounds from the 90’s, and of my best friend. My best friend from home has a voice kind of similar to Hanna’s, being that it isn’t perfect or pristine. It’s not technically good, but it’s interesting and passionate. There were songs that I didn’t like at all, such as “Be Nice”, because I couldn’t understand the lyrics through Hanna’s frenzied screams. I’ll be honest, I got a little bit of anxiety as I listened to the album for the first time. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, but the music was definitely anxiety inducing.

I’d listen to this album when I’m pissed off. Maybe I’d be in my room or driving home from work, but this is the kind of music you listen to when you’re so angry but you may not know how to express the anger in a constructive way. This makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs, kick things and cry until I calm down. I think that it’s important to feel those emotions every once in a while. Emotions make people human.

While we have learned in class that the Riot-grrrl movement was not perfect, I think it was a great place to start in terms of getting everybody to notice women, see them as legitimate human beings, and understand that every woman is equal to every man. The Riot-grrrl movement only encompassed straight, white, middle class, women, and the documentary is pretty reflective of that. It seems as though most of the women interviewed and showed in the film are white and supposedly middle class (They all met in college, so they could afford a college education). Women of color, transgender women and men, and members of the LGBTQ+ community also needed a voice, as well as members of lower classes. It is unfortunate that so many people were not included in the Riot-grrrl movement, but it is understandable that the very first step in a movement is not perfect. There is no possible way for something to be perfect upon conception, but the important thing is that a first step was taken.

Hit Reset is reminiscent of 90’s punk, and combines techno-rock influences with classic punk attributes such as fuzzy guitar riffs, strained vocals, and manic rhythms. At first listen, tracks can be split up into two categories. The first kind of song you’ll hear on the album is wild, all over the place, and frenzy-inducing. These songs mimic classic punk and bring about a manic style. The second type of songs are almost monotone sound, following one rhythm, have repetitive lyrics, and could be classified as punk ballads. After listening to the album a few more times, it is obvious that each song follows a similar style that is unique to The Julie Ruin. The “New-wave romp didn’t lack energy, some of Hanna’s lyrics were unusually tentative” (Snapes). The album is cohesive, and follows Hanna’s experiences and thoughts as a female artist.

There are a few running themes that are apparent and maintained throughout the album, and tell a story. Love, being feminine, feminism, and identifying as a dreamer, can be found woven throughout the lyrics of each song. While Hit Reset cannot necessarily be considered a rock-opera like The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers or The Who’s Tommy, it definitely follows a theme and tells stories. The lyrics all seem autobiographical and personal, even in the songs where many of the lyrics could not be understood. They still felt unique and distinctive, because  “Hanna faces down the abuse she’s suffered in her own life” (Powers). Half of the songs, such as  on the album sound manic, and anxiety inducing. The lyrics are screamed with a high-pitched-frenzy and the instruments are all over the place, creating a craziness. The other half of the songs, such as “I Decide” and “Time is Up” sound almost monotone and flat, but not boring by any means. They seem so much calmer than the other songs on the album. Both of these styles work together to create a unique record.

A song that immediately stood out to me on the album was “Rather Not. It sounded so familiar, and I could have sworn that I’d heard it before.I think that my subconscious knew it was a song I personally needed to hear. The low, catchy bass and guitar riffs that are continued throughout the song are reminiscent of Pixies’s “Here Comes Your Man, and they compliment Hanna’s unique vocals perfectly. Hanna’s voice is one-of-a-kind. She’s no opera singer, but in her context and situation, there is no other way these songs could sound and still have the incredible weight that they possess. With lyrics that are pointed and deliberate, “Rather Not follows a disastrous relationship that has ended. Although there is significant history, Hanna sings about throwing all of that history away for the sake of moving on and feeling comfortable and alive again. She sings “If you love me I’d rather not know” over and over throughout the song, which resonates with anyone who has fallen out of love and the relationship keeps coming back to haunt them.

Another interesting song is “Mr. So and So”. It starts with a catchy guitar riff and then Hanna comes in with a monologue. The lyrics up until the chorus are spoken as a speech, detailing an awkward and inappropriate encounter she had with a male fan. When the chorus starts, the lyrics echo “You can’t say goodbye until I get my hello. Mr. So and So. It’s all just for show.” It’s heartbreaking and makes me angry to hear about the uncomfortable things male fans have said to her.  “Mr. So and So” is “an anti-ode to an entitled male fan” (Powers) that allows listeners to feel the same disgust that Hanna does.

 

Works Cited

Powers, Ann. “Review: The Julie Ruin, ‘Hit Reset.'” NPR Music, NPR, www.npr.org/2016/06/30/480605934/first-listen-the-julie-ruin-hit-reset. Accessed 2 Mar. 2018.

Snapes, Laura. “The Julie Ruin Hit Reset.” Pitchfork, Conde Nast, 16 July 2016, pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/22073-hit-reset/. Accessed 2 Mar. 2018.

-Swaggie Maggie

Seeing Artists More Than Once

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is why we see artists and bands more than once. As a working college student, I’m always trying to save money. This can be difficult when there are so many concerts I want to make it to. The price of concerts tickets adds up, even when they are held at smaller venues that don’t cost as much per ticket as concerts held in stadiums would. However, as hard as I try to save money, if one of my favorite bands is coming to town I’ll go see them, no matter how many times I’ve seen them before.

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Recently, I bought tickets to see All Time Low with a few of my friends. The concert is being provided by the residential services of my college, so the tickets were relatively inexpensive, and I was able to get great seats! After purchasing the tickets, I started thinking about why we want to see bands or artists more than once. Take All Time Low for example. I have seen them once before, but that was back in 2015 before the release of their latest album. Often times we see bands more than once because we want to experience their new music live.

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There are some bands that I’ve seen more times than I can remember off the top of my head. I’ve seen both Mayday Parade and Sleeping With Sirens 6 times each, and in multiple settings. I’ve seen them at festivals, at headlining tours, and in intimate venues. A few times, I saw the bands when they hadn’t released any new music. The setlist sounded similar to the one at the previous show, but I still had the time of my life!

My personal philosophy when it comes to buying concert tickets is simple. I ask myself three questions before purchasing. 1. Can you afford it?  2. Will you have fun? And 3. Will you be sad if you don’t go? If I can answer yes to those, I know that buying the ticket will be worth it.

-Swaggie Maggie

 

Top 10 Swaggiest Albums of 2017

It’s undeniable. Parts of 2017 were definitely messy, but, when you think about it, it was an amazing year for music. Every time I heard something new this year I’d think “Okay, they’ve done it. It can’t get better than this.” and then somehow it got better and better each time an artist released something new! Trying to pick the best albums of 2017 is a difficult task, but I’ve ranked the top ten so you can start the new year by remembering the best tunes.

10. Wonderful Wonderful – The KillersWonderful Wonderful

This highly anticipated rock album was released in late September and is The Killer’s 5th studio album. Fans had to wait 5 long years for Wonderful Wonderful and it didn’t disappoint. The album is mostly upbeat with synth-pop influences and fast tracks, but the lyrics are littered with edgy motifs. Catch the Killers on tour this winter!

9. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life – Japandroids

Near to the Wild Heart of LifeI’ve been a fan of the Japandroids for a few years now, and I absolutely love their sound! Their edginess and angsty vibes are perfect for when you want to scream sing in your car, and they are so unique. Their latest album was released last January, and it is really beautiful. My favorite track is I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner), so make sure to go check it out!

 

8. Last Young Renegade – All Time Low

Last Young Renegade

All Time Low built the hype for Last Young Renegade last spring and its release in June was huge! The album is kind of haunting, but still has the energy that makes All Time Low so appealing to fans. The songs and themes are a lot more mature than their previous albums, and I love that you can see that growth!

7. Flower Boy – Tyler, The Creator

Flower Boy

The first time I ever heard anything by Tyler, The Creator was this summer when I saw him live at Mo Pop Music Festival in Detroit. I had heard of him, but I’d never heard any of his music. As soon as he took the stage I was instantly hooked, and began listening to Flower Boy constantly! The album seems like Tyler, The Creator’s diary where he navigates his emotions in a brutally honest fashion as he takes turns from angsty to soulful. I recommend seeing Tyler, The Creator live to get the full effect of his music.

6. Heaven – The Band CAMINO

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I stumbled upon this band through one of my Spotify Discover Weekly playlists and I am obsessed! The Band CAMINO is definitely one to watch in 2018, and they have potential to take over the music scene. Their sound falls perfectly between The 1975 and LANY, and their EP Heaven is exceptionally executed. The songs are upbeat and energetic with lyrics that cut you to the core. Catch The Band CAMINO on tour this winter with The Dangerous Summer!

5. Harry Styles – Harry Styles

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If you weren’t excited for Harry Styles to finally release a solo album you’re lying to yourself. Former One Direction singer took notes from his bandmates and tried his hand at a solo career. His self-titled album was the perfect way to transition from boy band heartthrob to emotional young man and I’m here for it. Every song on the album is unique and shows a different layer of Harry’s vocal, lyrical ability as well as vulnerability. If you can score tickets to his tour this summer, you’re in for a treat.

4. Lust For Life – Lana Del ReyLust For Life

I’ll be honest, I did not like Lana Del Rey’s last album very much, so Lust For Life was on my radar since Lana announced its release in February. I knew from the first single, Love, that the album was going to be amazing. Lana stays true to her retro image and even features some of the greats including Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon. My favorite track from the album is Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind because it perfectly displays every aspect of Lana that appeals to her fans. Her vocal ability is unmatched as she seamlessly marries old Hollywood glamour and new indie rock. Lust for Life has the type of music you just have to experience live, so catch Lana Del Rey on tour this winter!

3. Sleep Well Beast – The National

Sleep Well Beast

I’ve been a fan of The National since I was in high school and my English teacher assigned a comparative essay of the band’s Don’t Swallow The Cap and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The National is an alternative rock band that uses folk and punk influences to create a unique sound that can’t be replicated. The band takes a different approach to songwriting by building the lyrics onto the melody of a song that they are in the process of writing. Each song on the album floats through dreamy instrumental sequences that are elevated by cryptic lyrics. Sleep Well Beast is totally different than anything else that was released this year, and the passion that The National put into the album is obvious.

2. Lovely Little Lonely – The Maine

Lovely Little LonelyYou all know how much I love The Maine, but it’s hard not to when their music is just so good! Lovely Little Lonely is the band’s 6th studio album and it was definitely a passion project. The Maine initially began writing the album in Fall of 2016 in Brooklyn but took production to an Airbnb in the mountains in California where they were able to find inspiration and explore everything that the album had the potential of becoming. Lovely Little Lonely is a cohesive, experience album that travels through the mysteries that life throws at us. With tracks actually named LovelyLittle, and Lonely that are instrumental interludes and songs that range from vulnerable revelations to good spirited anthems. One of my favorite songs from the album is How Do You Feel?, so take a listen and find your favorite!

1. Melodrama – Lorde

Melodrama

I’m not going to lie. It took me a while to bring myself to listen to Melodrama, but I’m so glad I finally did! Lorde’s heartfelt songwriting created a masterpiece of an album that is truly beautiful. Every single second of the album gives me goosebumps. This labor of love is a journey through her life as she experiences the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Before hearing Melodrama I had never heard something that so accurately depicts being a young woman and it was liberating to hear something that is so relevant and relatable to my life. As you listen to the album, it’s obvious that everything is deliberate and meaningful. That’s how music is supposed to be. It’s supposed to mean something and it’s supposed to affect people and help them through the tough times while elevating the good ones. If you don’t have tickets to see Lorde live this spring, get on that now!

So there are my top 10 swaggiest albums of 2017! Did your favorites make the cut? I’m excited to see what 2018 has in store for music, but for now, I’ll just play these on repeat.

-Swaggie Maggie

 

Every Nite is Emo Nite

It’s not a band. It’s not a DJ. It’s a party to celebrate the music they love. Emo Nite LA was founded in December 2014 and they’ve been taking the scene by storm ever since.  By bringing fans both young and old together to revel in the nostalgia of emo classics, Emo Nite has become a nation-wide force, recognized by artists of all genres, music publications, and, of course, fans.

Emo Nite LogoThis fall, Emo Nite LA has been touring across the United States, bringing the party to fans who can’t make it out to Los Angeles to participate. With dates continuing through December, emo devotees across the country can come together and have a great time.

For those who aren’t quite sure what Emo actually is, it’s a genre of rock music that is created through melodic, and often intricate musicianship. The lyrics are meaningful, confessional, and obviously emotional. Emo artists include Brand New, Dashboard Confessional, Mayday Parade and Taking Back Sunday.

October 20th, The Loft in Lansing will be hosting Emo Nite, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on the vibes! Emo Nite promotes an inclusive community where the only requirement is a love for music and good times. Tickets can be purchased for $10.00 here, and you can keep up with Emo Nite by following them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify!

See you there!

-Swaggie Maggie

 

Photo and Video courtesy of Emo Nite LA

Win Some Lose Some – Frequency Cowboy

With vocals reminiscent of Tame Impala and beats that you can’t help but tap your feet to, Frequency Cowboy’s new single “Win Some Lose Some” has helped him become an up-and-coming artist who I’m excited about! As a self-described “DIY musician” Sam Hurt is the indie-pop musician we’ve all been waiting for.

“Win Some Lose Some” was released on September 8, 2017, and has been making some waves. The track was written and performed by Hurt, and was mixed by Stew Jackson. AS I listened to the song for the first time, I was instantly reminded of some of my favorite tracks by Arcade Fire and Tame Impala. The poppy beat with synthesized vocals works together to create a laid-back song, with an interesting sense of urgency behind it. The repetition of the lyrics is also a really interesting thing that this song does, making it a mantra of reality.

Check out Frequency Cowboy’s newest single on sound could, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @frequencycowboy!

-Swaggie Maggie