“Diamond Rough” by Autopilot

Autopilot, the alternative rock band out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan released their sophomore album Diamond Rough early this September.

The 90s style band says with this album that they were unafraid to experiment with sound, and this album proves that.

For the first six tracks of the ten track album, the songs are fairly upbeat and are packed with emotion. The lead singer sounds like a cross of Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath) and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) and overall, his voice matches with each track fairly well.

“A Song from a Hospital Hallway Part I” changes all that. A viewer can be immersed into the mind of a troubled soul. For the next three tracks, the vocals come out stronger than in any other songs on the album. For the majority of the songs, the lyrics were well written. However, one of my criticisms is that  the words were hard to hear at times because the instrumentals drowned them out.

The closing track, “Every Single Time” was a great track to close this album. Lyrically, I think it’s the best song on here and very well produced. It features memorable lyrics and catchy riffs. I just wish that all ten tracks had a similar vibe.

Overall, Diamond Rough is an album worth listening to. It provides the listener with an emotional journey.

Check out Diamond Rough for free on their Bandcamp, or Autopilot for more information.

You Ought To Know: Twenty-One Pilots

Vessel still has potential to grow popularity into 2014


Album: Vessel

Released: January 8, 2013

Label: Fueled By Raman

By: Stephanie Griffin

It seems every time I have a new favorite artist, nobody knows who it is. I can say this about Twenty-One Pilots.  The musical duo from Ohio is Tyler Joseph on vocals and piano and Josh Dun on drums. They are not new to the music scene, but they can thank the Fueled by Ramen label for signing them to help get their big break. Their first album, Regional At Best (2011) introduced indie fans to the new artists, who grew popular while headlining shows and tours. But, Vessel, released January 8 of this year, is starting to give Twenty-One Pilots the exposure they deserve.
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“Self-Titled” – Vex Ruffin (by Connor Gilroy)

There are many times when you’ll hear the beginning of a song and you know it’s going to be great. You get excited when a song begins with a great riff or a killer bass line and then proceeds to knock your expectations out of the park. None of the songs on Vex Ruffin’s album model this; Vex Ruffin’s Self-Titled is an album that tries to reach great heights only succeeds by falling flat on its ass. It’s not really clear what genre this fits under and it’s not clear whether or not Vex Ruffin is a band or a singer-songwriter’s project title, but regardless of its origin, Self-Titled does not compare to other CDs we have received.


The album begins with a track called “Living For the Future,” which sounded less like a song and more like a crazy person droning on in his cell at the psych ward. There’s no percussion, really awkward sounding strings and synths, and simply put, the vocals are droning and awful. As harsh a beginning as the track is to the album, the pattern, thankfully, doesn’t continue. The next few tracks, most notably “Prime of My Life,” “It Will Come,” and “Won Day,” feature promising backing tracks that set the mood for rapped verses. If Vex Ruffin does anything right, it’s creating really interesting beats with pleasing bass lines to go with them.


However, sadly Vex Ruffin’s vocals and lyrics really ruin the promising instrumentals. The lead singer for Vex Ruffin is nothing at all special, and the quality of the vocals leaves a lot to be desired. The droning voice and the awkward vocal effects that accompanies it on almost all of the tracks really take away from the backing tracks. This is the most heartbreaking part of this album because the instrumentals really deserve merit. Had Vex Ruffin gone the way of Gorillaz and featured some rap artists on each track, this album would have been incredible. Instead, it sounds more like a tired old version of Beck. That being said one track that I think should be set apart from the rest of the album is Track 10, “Forget It.” Forget It is a slow jam that gives Vex Ruffin some promise. The vocals are actually quite pleasant with the mood of the tune and the repeating accordian-style synths add a great texture to this somber number. However, it’s the only track on the album that’s really worth mentioning. Otherwise, Vex Ruffin’s Self-Titled gets a D+ at best.




Artist: Capital Cities

Album: In A Tidal Wave of Mystery

Release Date: June 4, 2013

By: Stephanie Griffin

It took me seeing them live this past weekend to realize how awesome this band is. Capital Cities, whose top hit “Safe and Sound” is played on various radio stations, is definitely a new band to highlight before this year is over. Their debut album called In A Tidal Wave of Mystery, was released in the beginning of summer. The first single off the album, “Safe and Sound” became a top Summer favorite. Capital Cities is growing even more popular as they currently tour Fitz and the Tantrums this Fall. As a whole, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery is the ideal party album. What makes Capital Cities so unique is how they are able to bring an eighties pop feel in their songs, with the use of brass instruments and synthesizers. This combination just works, and every track brings its own little taste to their indie style.

Capital Cities is an indie electronic band out of Los Angeles. It first started as Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, who began as jingle writers. Once the band was formed in 2010, they released some independent EP’s with their first single, “Safe and Sound” actually being one of their first recorded tracks. The newest members include bassist Manny Quintero, trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, guitarist Nick Merwin, and drummer Channing Holmes.

The album kicks off with their first single, “Safe and Sound.” Listening to the lyrics, the song can be interpreted for many different types of relationships: romantic, friendships, or even family. It’s a song about promising to be there for each other. As the lyrics say, “I could lift you up, I could show you what you wanna see and take you where you wanna be.”

Next on the album is “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast.” The song sounds happy though its lyrics are pretty sad. The song goes, “I want it all and nothing less, I want it all, I want the best for you, I’m telling you the truth.” Even though the lyrics portray some type of frustration with a relationship, the synthesizer in the background just makes you want to dance.

The third track is by far one of the best and hopefully a future single for Capital Cities. On tour, they open with “Kangaroo Court,” another fun dancing song. It’s one of those songs where the lyrics don’t make sense, but in this case- who cares. This song is best for its instrumental sound, like the amazing part with the trumpet before the bridge.

The party album continues with more electronic catchy songs. “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo” is one of those songs with a one-line chorus that can easily get stuck in your head. “Farrah Fawcett Hair” is another dance song that features hip-hop artist, Andre 3000, where again, the lyrics don’t really make sense but it’s a cool song to listen to. Then you hear tracks like “Chartreuse” and “Origami” that sound for a second as if they are songs to open for a video game. But what Capital Cities does best is take this electronic pop sound and give it a little funk with the use of piano and brass instruments. Whatever they use, each song has its own feel so you get a little bit of everything: dance, pop, electronic, rock, indie.

Towards the end of the album, it seems like this dance party is coming to an end. Songs like “Lazy Lies” and “Tell Me How To Live” are rather slow and different from the beginning of the album. The lyrics are also kind of depressing. As the lyrics of “Lazy Lies” say, “Sick and tired, and you wanna see a change
But you don’t wanna change for me.” You are basically going to hear certain songs on the album where the lyrics may not make sense. But songs like “Lazy Lies” actually tell a story. This variety works though and can show us Capital Cities can do more than just upbeat dance songs. Though they weren’t my favorite songs on the album, the change in tone is something good to have. You don’t want every song sounding the same.

It is clear though Capital Cities does a good job with getting songs stuck in your head. You will be looking forward to the last two tracks on this album because they are catchy, cute, and fun. “Love Away” is almost the perfect song to end a romantic comedy with. In this case, it’s the best way to end In A Tidal Wave of Mysterybecause it is simple and cute. Anyone who listens to bands like the Fitz and the Tantrums, Miniature Tigers, Imagine Dragons, or Grouplove will definitely enjoy Capital Cities. Indie music nowadays is expanding to more subgenres like electronic, pop, dance, funk, and more. Capital Cities has a little bit of everything to offer on In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. They can continue their music career safely and soundly, as they become one of the best new artists this year.

“Is Survived By” – Touché Amoré (by Chase Montani)

The relentless touring schedule of Touché Amoré, of Los Angeles, C.A., exceeds that of most post-hardcore acts. The quintet’s fan-base spreads as far as Malaysia, Japan, Australia, and all of Europe. On their new album “Is Survived By”, the band displays their maturity from playing countless shows together. They have come in to their own and broke away from the other bands in their genre.

The album was produced by Brad Wood (Sunny Day Real Estate, As Cities Burn, mewithoutYou) and surpasses any quality of past Touché recordings. Also guitarists Nick Steinhardt and Clayton Stevens challenged themselves to progress their already dulcet sound. The guitar work throughout the album is focused and progressive, using high trebly leads, and ambient, reverb permeated riffs when necessary. Forthright chord progressions that pull you in all of the directions vocalist Jeremy Bolm is bringing you in his throaty exclamations.

New inspirations and themes occur during “Is Survived By” that were not seen in their previous two full lengths “…To the Beat of a Dead Horse” (2009) and “Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me”. With their progressed brighter guitar tones comes brighter (for Touché at least) lyrics. Bolm proclaims, “I was once asked how I’d like to be remembered and I simply smiled and said ‘I’d rather stay forever” in the album opener “Just Exist”. From there on he goes through themes of overcoming loneliness, dealing with separation, distraction, and the pressures of being in a band.

While the stand-outs on the album are Bolm’s lyrics and their advanced guitar experimenting, much is to be said about the bass playing by Tyler Kirby and the velocious drumming as always provided by the constantly shirtless Elliot Babin (who obviously just plays to fast to wear a shirt). Kirby provides some groove to the album with protruding bass licks in “Anyone / Anything” and “Kerosene”. Elliot Babin is just showing off in “Just Exist” and the first single off of the album “Harbor”. Once again, the band is displaying the payoff that comes from the constant practice that is the endless touring schedule of Touché Amoré.

“Is Survived By” is Touché’s longest work to date. The band has been known to keep things “short and sweet” so that the listener does not get bored. This attributes to the progressive character the band has developed. And even in lengthening the songs and producing a longer work, it still ends before you want it to. The title track happens to close the album and is a perfect “sayonara” for listeners and also serves as the longest track on the album, coming in at a whopping 3:30 and is a remembrance letter for the band, explaining how they will be “survived by” their fans and support. Though their work isn’t as long as most bands, it never lacks in depth. Hey, isn’t the saying quality not quantity anyway? That seems to be the case with the California hard rockers.

The album which debuted at #86 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the vinyl sales chart, was released September 24, 2013 and is available in several formats (LP, CD, digital download) at http://deathwishinc.com/estore/.

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