Mr. Big defies Gravity and sets expectations high for rock ‘n’ roll with new album

Eric Martin, Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey and newcomer, Matt Starr of supergroup Mr. Big (which formed in 1987) prove once again that they have no intention of slowing down as they release their new record titled Defying Gravity! The album was recorded in a live studio setting; meaning no overdubbing, presenting the intimate feel as though you’re experiencing them live. The guys managed to record the twelve featured songs in just six days! That’s crazy!

What can you expect from this 6-day fiasco? A masterpiece unlike any Mr. Big album before. The overall sound of Defying Gravity is the classic Mr. Big rock ‘n’ roll sound we all know and love paired with the down and dirty blues with a splash of R&B/soul. Add in some humor and references to the past thrown into the mix.

Now don’t freak out thinking that the guys have gone off the track. They haven’t. They are still the same Mr. Big we have known through the last 25 years. Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert are still shredding their guitars ’til their fingers bleed! Pat Torpey and Matt Starr are creating new recognizable rhythmic beats, and Mr. ‘Singer Dude’ Eric Martin pulling it all together with his killer vocals! 

Speaking of references to the past, a single titled “1992” that has been blowing up the internet, directly references Mr. Bigs hit single “To Be With You” which reached #1 on the Billboard Top 100! “1992” was written by Paul Gilbert who also wrote Mr. Big’s single, “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” which reached #3 on the Billboard Top 100. In addition, “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” was one of the first songs Paul Gilbert wrote that was featured on a Mr. Big album. Listening to “1992” brings me back in time, both hearing the lyrical references to “To Be With You” and the musical style of “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind.”

After listening to the whole album, one song that sticks out to me as a hit is “Nothing Bad (Bout Feeling Good).” It’s a groovy kind of sing-along with an easy chorus to remember. It has killer harmonies and guitar riffs. There is a distinct difference between the verse and chorus in the song which showcases Mr. Big’s musical knowledge and complexity. I still can not get over how much I love the guitar arrangements on this song! 

Now, of course, Mr. Big delivered a ballad for all the girls out there called “Forever And Back.” When I first listened to this song, all I wrote in my notes was BALLAD. What else could you expect from Mr. Ballad who sang his heart out on numerous heart-wrenching songs throughout the years? You can not tell me lyrics like “I’ve been a fool to my princess” or “Then would you say that you love me?” don’t pull at your heart string. “Forever And Back” really showcases Eric Martin’s amazing vocals and the guys’ harmonies. Mr. Big seals the deal ending with “I promise to love you forever, forever and back”.

A personal favorite of mine is the impressive, seven-minute long “Be Kind.” This song is that down and dirty blues meets R&B/soul referenced early in all of its glory. It also nicely showcases the talents of each member. You can’t go wrong with a minute long outro from these guys. “Is that too much to ask?”

All in all, Defying Gravity is a solid album leaving very little to be deserved by Mr. Big fans. The album is full of honest, distressful, sincere, and humorous lyrics along with memorable vocals, rhythmic beats, guitar and bass riffs. Defying Gravity will be hitting the shelves July 21st this year but you can also grab one of the limited 500 copy deluxe box editions or vinyl set to be released August 18th!

To pre-order the album, please visit any of the following: http://radi.al/DefyingGravity
• Frontiers: http://www.frontiers.shop
• Amazon: http://radi.al/DefyingGravityAmazon
• iTunes: http://radi.al/DefyingGravityiTunes
• Google Play: http://radi.al/DefyingGravityGooglePl

 

Review by Alex Dale. 

All Time Low graduate from pop punk to something… more with latest album, Last Young Renegade

Baltimore natives and pop-punk/emo kings have come a long way since the days of “Dear Maria…” The very same boys who once had little more under their belts than covers of Blink 182 and dreams of performing some day with their heroes (check that off the list) are celebrating their latest studio release, Last Young Renegade. 

All Time Low have been promoting their newest album with a special, unique touch of collectible ‘volume’ denim jackets/patches. Their theme has seamlessly transitioned from FUTURE HEARTS to I DON’T BELIEVE IN SAINTS with the simple upside-down turn of their previous logo. 

Last Young Renegade marks the band’s seventh studio album (ninth if you count their two earlier EPs) and their first release on their new label, Fueled By Ramen after having been with Hopeless Records for two bounce-back albums after a comically bad experience of going major label far too early. (Who remembers their stint with Interscope/DGC?)  All Time Low announced their departure from Hopeless Records with the first taste from Last Young Renegade back when they dropped “Dirty Laundry,” though they leave the Hopeless family on completely different terms than when they left Interscope — happily and with a lot of well wishes. It’s easy to see why “Dirty Laundry” became their front-running single, which served as the perfect blend to connect the new with the old. All Time Low are no strangers to the game. This slower tempo untraditional love ballad has everything you’d expect and love from an All Time Low hit: a strong beginning, an infectious chorus and somewhere just before the song ends, things pick up so lead singer, Alex Gaskarth, can belt the lyrics out in a pseudo-yelling falsetto (jokes aside, we really love this track). 

Although, if we could only use a single sentence to describe All Time Low’s latest album, it would be this: All Time Low have grown up… sort of… they seem to be in the Afterglow (see what we did there?). Last Young Renegade is the band’s second go-around with a major label, and dare we say, this time they’ve got things right? The album was produced by a dynamic duo in addition to the band: Nicholas Furlong (who has worked with a number of artists including Blink 182, Steve Aoki, 5 Seconds Of Summer, etc) and Blake Harnage… you remember him, right? Former member of Versaemerge turned producer/singer/songwriting genius. Alongside All Time Low, who have been on the scene for over ten years now, they’ve created something beautiful. The band may have put aside their scene-kid necessities (although guitarist Jack Barakat swapped out his infamous ‘skunk’ hair style from back in the day and has been rocking a red streak for some time now) and embarrassingly bad antics for videos (who remembers their choreographed dance in “Poppin’ Champagne” or Gaskarth’s side-swept bangs and lisp in “Coffee Shop Soundtrack?” Or the ironic, hilarious nature of so many of their videos: “Weightless,” “I Feel Like Dancing,” and even more recently, “Something’s Gotta Give.”) but, All Time Low have been on this path of ‘growing up’ for quite some time now, it just appears that they’ve finally reached wherever they were hoping to get to. 

It shows the most in Last Young Renegade where the band has given us four music videos before the album itself has dropped… and in none of them are the guys decked out in silly furry costumes and there are no strippers or pet monkeys. Color us proud. We knew this day would come, although we didn’t know it would come so soon. 

True to themselves, Last Young Renegade begins on a hard-hitting, high tempo title track. Although as “Last Young Renegade” builds you up, in the same ways their previous introducing songs have in the past (see: “Kicking & Screaming,” “The Reckless And The Brave,” “Do You Want Me (Dead?)” and even “Weightless”), the songs that follow this opening number are like a smooth ride down a very high rollercoaster. 

It isn’t until track number five, “Nice2KnoU” that the record picks up again. We aren’t exactly against this softer, more refined sounding version of All Time Low. After all, 2017 has proved to be the year of change (with the dramatic differences in other artists’ previous work to their newest releases — Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Paramore — are you catching that these artists are also on FBR? Hmm…) and we’re just thankful that All Time Low didn’t attempt to ‘experiment’ with an over-saturated sound filled with computer-driven synth beats. That’s not to say they haven’t flirted with synths paired with piano action (see “Drugs & Candy,” and the Tegan and Sara feature “Ground Control.”) but it doesn’t feel overdone or untrue to the band All Time Low is and always have been. Their embrace of these, in addition to modern R&B vibes (“Life Of The Party” and even “Dirty Laundry”) is what will keep All Time Low relevant in a scene where “pop punk” has become washed out and stagnant due to the millions of soundalikes who just want you to listen to their EP on dirty headphones while you’re begrudgingly waiting in that long line for Warped Tour. 

With “Nightmare” comes a vulnerable painted picture of a man as Gaskarth sings about telling himself he wouldn’t be scared and still facing nightmares. The track is a showcase for Gaskarth’s unique vocal range, his ability to go from a grainy/raspy sound to refine, crisp, clean. He has come a long way since The Party Scene and saying we’re proud is a definite understatement. 

Even though the album is missing that goofiness that became a staple for All Time Low in the past (and we’re sure, Barakat will still happily accept your sweaty bras on stage), the seriousness of their new sound is a breath of fresh air. Of course, if you were a fan of the loud, in your face chorus and riffs off of the band’s Dirty Work and Don’t Panic, you may find yourself a bit disappointed with All Time Low’s somewhere-in-the-middle transition from the old to the new, pop-driven trend that so many seem to be struggling with to escape. But for fans like myself who are also facing the trials and tribulations of having to grow up, the maturity and honesty in their latest album is something easy to accept as we all seem to be coming to that point of change and the mixed emotions that come hand-in-hand. Trust us — give the album a second chance, let it sit, come back to it. You’ll see that the same four guys are underneath these tracks, which may be the truest to themselves thus far. How can you hate the absolute gem that is the closing track, “Afterglow” which takes on an ‘80s jungle vibes, pairing Gaskarth’s tone with the bright talent of each musician in the band (we see you Rian Dawson and Zack Merrick, don’t think you were forgotten) in a track that you may have expected from the likes of Third Eye Blind meets fun. Trust us. It’s amazing, and if you allow this track to close out the album as intended, you too will be caught up in the Afterglow that All Time Low has created.  

Our favorite tracks: Afterglow, Nightmares, Ground Control, Dark Side Of Your Room, Dirty Laundry. 

Be sure to check out All Time Low’s official website for information on their album, pick up a copy or peep their tour dates for their US tour happening this year. 

Closing words about the album from frontman Alex Gaskarth himself: 

Last Young Renegade is a story of self-realization. A collection of songs written from the perspective of the other side of the mirror. In writing this record, I delved into all of the different versions of me that other people might have met over the years, through the ups and downs, in the public eye and behind closed doors.
I gave those other sides of me a persona, and a name, and The Last Young Renegade was born. It became a symbol for those characters and allowed me to comfortably write about some things that I’m not as comfortable talking about openly. This is a very personal record, our favorite that we’ve written. We hope you enjoy the album as much as we do. Thank you for being along for this journey with us.

https://www.facebook.com/alltimelow/videos/10154610115392592/

Incredibly Special ACLU benefit compilation: Music For Everyone curated by John Nolan

Non-profit Sub City has teamed up with Collective Confusion Records, Hopeless Records and John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday to give us something incredibly special: Music For Everyone. This American Civil Liberties Union benefiting compilation features artists such as Taking Back Sunday, Allison Weiss, Kevin Devine, Frank Iero, Dave House, Anthony Green (of Circa Survive/Saosin) and so much more in the 27 featured rare and/or unreleased tracks. 

For information and testimonials on the importance of why artists wanted to be involved, please check out the official website: www.musicforeveryone.us 

Why did John Nolan feel the need to recruit this amazingly diverse group of artist from every end of the spectrum? A quote taken directly from the website reads: “I also wanted to give artists an opportunity to express something about what’s gone on in this country over the past year and what’s coming in the next ones. I needed that for myself and wanted to connect with other people who needed it. And I wanted to take that need for self-expression and channel it into something bigger than all of us.”

Nolan also explains that in these next four years, there is so much potential for the rise of policies that will discriminate against persons of all sorts of backgrounds: people of color, the Muslim community, women, the LGBT community. It is important for us as a nation to come together and fight against this hatred that is terrifyingly becoming acceptable. The ACLU has a long history of fighting against unconstitutional and discriminatory policies, and what better way than to unite people in favor of support for this fight than with a community as passionate as musicians and music lovers alike. 

The songs featured on this compilation are just as strong as the message it is meant to stand for. The record starts off with a previously unreleased demo from Anti-Flag titled “Buried The Shame” that sets an obvious tone that is carried throughout the other indie, punk, rock, emo, alternative artists that follow. Although that’s not all this compilation has to offer: Music For Everyone really does stand up to its name with its offer of a very special hip-hop track featuring Taking Back Sunday on instrumental by Gift Of Gab titled “When Justice Comes,” as well as a folk/alt-country feature titled “I’m Paranoid” by Brett Newski. The pop genre is represented by “Break My Heart” by Miss Allison Weiss, this twangy powerful song standing out from the rest but sharing the same protesting, we-wont-stand-for-this theme. 

Compilations have been a huge thing for several years (how many ‘Now that’s what I call…’ volumes are we at?) — they’re a fantastic way to discover new artists, but why not give a listen to one that also supports an amazing cause? Of course, you can stream the compilation below, but we highly encourage you to purchase a copy to allow the proceeds to benefit the cause. 

Please visit the Music For Everyone’s official site to read up about this amazing, unique collection of songs. And be sure to check out the official ACLU website to get involved! 


https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/4H10o1lLRvwWLPYbMQcaN4

ACLU: MUSIC FOR EVERYONE TRACKLISTING:

1. Anti-Flag – Buried The Shame (DEMO) 01:47
2. Chris Farren – Always 01:58
3. Taking Back Sunday – Just A Man 03:36
4. Potty Mouth – Twisted 02:56
5. Travis Hayes – Honest Man (Live At Nu-Tone) 03:44
6. Gift Of Gab (ft. Taking Back Sunday) – When Justice Comes 02:37
7. Kevin Devine – Both Ways (Acoustic) 02:58
8. Dave Hause – Season’s Greetings From Ferguson 03:14
9. Allison Weiss – Break My Heart 02:41
10. Brett Newski – I’m Paranoid 02:43
11. Brendan Kelly And The Wandering Birds – Boardin’ USA 02:10
12. Anthony Green – Spanish Moss 03:30
13. James Dewees & John Nolan – Believe In Me 03:28
14. Frank Iero – Getting Into Heaven Can Be Hell 02:04
15. Modern Chemistry – The OverThinker 03:24
16. Baggage – Half Full 04:05
17. Secret Space – Point Of Change 02:57
18. Jared Hart – Heads Or Tails 04:02
19. Cameron Boucher – sinn 02:09
20. Dead Heavens – Straight Outta Blindness 03:36
21. The Republic Of Wolves – Birdless Cage 05:32
22. Answering Machine – City Of Glass 02:38
23. Cassino – Corvette 05:14
24. Rationale – Space Angela 02:58
25. Gravel Kings – American Skies 03:50
26. Sleep On It – Memorial Day 04:32
27. Lolo – The Day After Tomorrow 05:27

Harry Styles Takes New Direction in Solo Debut

The album leaves little left to be desired, the closing track “From The Dining Table,” starts off with a soft-spoken Styles, who again manages to make it sound as though he could be singing this while side-by-side in bed with you and you alone. The very much talked about lyrics paint a picture of a horny and lonely 23-year old, who has a wank before getting wasted and passing out. “I’ve never felt less cool,” he admits through personal lyrics, leaving us to believe this song is less for attention and complaints but more of a confession, right from the heart. The song puts an end to the album the same soft way you’d lay down a lover – on a note of promising possibilities for a sophomore release.

Throughout history, all good ‘boy bands’ had to come to an end to give us something even sweeter… solo careers. From The Beatles to *Nsync, former One Direction star Harry Styles has finally joined the likes of those whose initial claim to fame might have been in a group, but sought after finding their own unique sound. Seems to us, Styles had little problem finding his own niche while in the beautiful Caribbean. He isn’t the first artist to shed their former image (or sound) that once defined them… though Styles does join the ranks of those who have had such a dramatic and unpredictable change. Is it a success? We definitely think so. He has ventured far from the path set by those in the past (Justin Timberlake to Harry’s own former bandmate Zayn Malik are only some of the few who turned to embrace hip-hop and r&b in their solo careers) and instead has made one thing clear: he is setting out to be a rock star. And not just any rock star. One that can hold a match to those your mother and father grew up adoring… hell, maybe even one worthy of your grandfather’s praise, too!

Promotion leading up to Styles’ debut release may have seemed a little lackluster, without the fanfare you’d expect from such an already successful and established musician. It is as though Styles’ team knew an almost silent release would work out more in his favor, in presenting a new persona for the boyband refugee. The strategy proved itself a success, with nothing short of overwhelming in regards to how his solo music has been received by fans. His world tour – Harry Styles Live – sold out globally within minutes across the 32 cities he’ll be performing in. Just earlier this week, Styles performed on the Today morning show, looking awfully sharp in his pink suit (where he surprised the fans with One Direction’s own “Stockholm Syndrome” – a song that the band never had the chance to perform, a special treat for both fans and Styles alike) as he premiered another new track titled “Carolina,” a southern rock sounding love-song about trying to find the perfect way to tell a girl she’s all you think about. 

With the three pre-released tracks, one would assume Styles had plenty of inspiration from his belles for the album, which he recorded over the span of a year, including a stint of time where he seemingly dropped off the face of the planet after filming for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk but was actually soaking up the Caribbean sun in a luxurious Jamaican studio. Styles joked in a recent French Quotidien interview that the album as a whole is more about himself than any other particular person – lovers or not. This sentiment definitely fooled us – when you listen to the album, it’s impossible not to pick up the influences from any possible muse and past real-life relationships. With genius producer/writer Jeff Bhasker (who has worked in the past with Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and The Rolling Stones just to name a few) and collaborations including Bhasker associate, Tyler Johnson who was part of the team behind P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason” and fun.’s Some Nights as well as helping engineer songs for The All-American Rejects, Ed Sheeran and Miley Cyrus. Also included was Snow Patrol’s own Johnny McDaid, who had said Harry’s solo music would “surprise” everyone… we cannot think of a better way to sum up our initial listen. 

From the opening track titled, “Meet Me In the Hallway,” Styles’ self-titled solo debut begins with Styles’ counting down, giving an immediate intimate feel. If you chose to close your eyes, his vocals come in soft and almost haunting with a slight echo that makes it all too easy to envision you’re sitting in on a studio session as he performs his tunes versus simply listening to the .mp3 version. From the first track alone, you can tell Styles’ aim is to not be defined by the tracks he was once known for. “Meet Me In The Hallway” begins with chords sounding as though they’re plucked with loose strings, bass lines on a stand-up bass as Styles’ voice echoes in through the first verses until his strength is shown in the chorus. This vintage/folk sound only compliment Styles’ unique, hollowing vocals, showing his talents beyond today’s norm and certainly what any of his former bandmates have – or will – release. 

“Carolina” starts off bass heavy too, with a fun beat, clapping and chants that take us back to some of our most beloved classic rock hits. How can you not listen to this track and not envision a girl in bell bottom corduroys, dancing around to this on her 45? This song may be 50 years out of place, but we absolutely love it! There’s nothing lacking from this 3-minute hit: from the maraca shaker, the ‘oh yeah’s, the acoustics leading up to percussion, a symphony of beautiful strings shining through the second verse, the la-la-la’s… and is that a cowbell we hear? Definitely makes us want to scream and shout it out.

“Two Ghosts” is a soft and slow anti-love ballad, unlike the ballads you’re more familiar with. There is no animosity in the lyrics about two souls who have loved and lost. Instead, Harry relates the feeling as ghosts trying to remember the feel of a beating heart accompanied by a slide guitar that could be compared to something you’d expect from Ryan Adams. It is followed directly by the tender “Sweet Creature” which is still slow, but a much stronger ballad that seems as Styles’ own stab at something “Blackbird”-esque while dripping with love and affection, the song revolving around the notion that once you’ve fallen in love, home is wherever you two are together.

Things pick up with “Only Angel,” which gives the feel of a band closing out a rowdy show at some overly-packed bar. Styles’ vocals are heard a bit louder, with a bit more of a grunge-punch and the return of a cowbell! The album grows from an exhausted and exasperated-sounded Styles to symbols of naughty debauchery – “Only Angel,” “From The Dining Table,” and even “Kiwi” which lyrics seem sleazy in an almost amusingly-unconvincing nature. We can forgive the aforementioned because it is followed by a convincing alt-country troubadour “Ever Since New York,” which ranks as one of our top favorites from the entire album.

The album leaves little left to be desired, the closing track “From The Dining Table,” starts off with a soft-spoken Styles, who again manages to make it sound as though he could be singing this while side-by-side in bed with you and you alone. The very much talked about lyrics paint a picture of a horny and lonely 23-year old, who has a wank before getting wasted and passing out. “I’ve never felt less cool,” he admits through personal lyrics, leaving us to believe this song is less for attention and complaints but more of a confession, right from the heart. The song puts an end to the album the same soft way you’d lay down a lover – on a note of promising possibilities for a sophomore release.

The entire record sounds as though it came into this world a couple eras too late, but at the exact time we needed it. In a world with overly-saturated pop beats and music relied upon by Garageband noise, Styles’ self-titled debut is a breath of fresh air, resisting the norm of the current contemporary pop aesthetic. Instead of using samples music from decades ago, Harry seems to have gained inspiration from back when music was undoubtedly great. Making songs that can proudly be displayed alongside the rock and blues from a time close to being lost. With all the debates of Harry trying too hard to mimic icons and legends such as David Bowie, Prince, The Beatles and more… you’d be surprised to find the songs relating more closely to the works of Don Henley, specifically The Eagles, Wolfmother, Arctic Monkeys and even a little Elton John. There is no debating that these collections of songs are ones we’re certain anyone would be proud to hear they helped inspire in one way or another. This isn’t to say the album is flawless – as you’d expect with anyone’s solo debut, there are awkward moments (did we mention the unconvincing lines about one-night stands and masturbation?), and it is obvious Styles is an artist trying to find his footing… but these mishaps hardly distract from the ambitious and admirable debut. There are few bells and whistles, which would have no place beside Styles’ talents in his honest songwriting alongside the beautifully simplistic twang of his (mostly acoustic) guitars.

Whether you were a fan of One Direction or never heard a single one of their hits, whether you’re 15 or 50 – we’re willing to guarantee you’ll find a track or two you fall in love with on Styles’ debut solo album. There is just enough diversity in the 10 tracks to really have something to appeal to everyone, without losing a solid cohesion for the entirety of the record. You can hear traces of intimate singer/songwriter aspects known and loved from the 1960s and ‘70s and even hints of flamboyant dramatics (dare we say hair bands?) from the 1980s. The tracks aren’t what you’d expect (or are they exactly what you expected from Harry Styles himself?) after the music put out by the former boyband, though we’re happy to see and hear the musical freedom Harry has with both the sound and lyrics of his new endeavors. You’ll find hints and traces of love, loss, sex, drugs and of course rock ‘n’ roll. It’s an exploration of an artist out there trying to find himself and we cannot wait for what is still to come. 

Our favorite picks: “Ever Since New York,” “Sweet Creature” and “From The Dining Table.”