Fresh from Cincy: Artists Without Limits (AWOL)

Artists Without Limits Hip Hop From CincinnatiI was fortunate to make contact with a young hip-hop group from Cincinnati several months ago. We were introduced by a client of mine who was a mutual contact; he was starting to book them gigs in the Midwest and wanted me to do PR for them.

They are Artists Without Limits (AWOL), a foursome who have known each other for several years and grown up together making music and developing their skills. The one thing I’m always concerned with when working with new clients is whether or not they are serious about their craft. I want to know that artists are locked in on their careers and mentally invested in the rigors and ups and downs musicians go through.

In Spring of this year, they opened up for Young Dolph in Cleveland and I did my first PR work for them on that show. I mostly wanted to be sure they made the most of the experience, stayed professional, and worked the crowd as much as possible. They did that and then some, and made it clear they wanted more.

Flash forward several months, and they were poised to release their debut video, “Bad Intentions”. Throughout the planning phase, they started showing me that each of them was all-in and ready to put in the work to put an album out the right way. We started working on the video campaign while searching for the right person to bring out their best in the studio, and through their connections, they linked up with Chino Dolla. Chino is Yung Joc’s manager, has a platinum album to his credit, and is one of the sharpest people I’ve come across in the music industry. In addition, they’re working with Noyz Armstrong as a booking agent, which is already paying off: This Saturday and Sunday, December 16 & 17, AWOL is heading to California to play the Rolling Loud Festival, as well as some high-profile afterparties.

Things are just starting to get interesting for all four of them, and our entire team is excited about what the future holds. For now, check out “Bad Intentions”, but stay tuned for their new music in the coming months. You’ll hear about it here first.

Artists Without Limits links

“Bad Intentions” http://smarturl.it/c6bf9n
Website http://www.artistswithoutlimits.com/
Twitter https://twitter.com/awolimits
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/awolimits/

We Were Pirates – “Matter”

WhenWe Were Pirates - Matter We Were Pirates puts out new music it gets me excited for a few different reasons. One is that Mike Boggs, the mastermind of We Were Pirates (WWP), is talented yet completely unassuming–the lack of pretense in his approach is refreshing in this day and age when many artists think that since they can record their sounds and have a social media account that they and their music should somehow be magically famous.

Where they miss the point, Boggs totally gets it. He makes the music that he likes, keeps the songwriting tight and puts it all together in a cohesive package. The lack of posturing, irony and whining gets two big thumbs up from this old-school music lover; it’s what also makes me respect him as an artist and musician. The good ones never need to resort to millenial-esque self-infatuation, they realize that the product will either be good enough to stand on its own, or it won’t.

For those unfamiliar with WWP, Boggs is the singular musician behind the band, recording every part of the songs he writes himself. On Matter, Boggs brings indie rock and synth-pop sounds together neatly, hearkening back to a warm and gauzy 80’s feel that smartly pulls off sounding familiar and new at the same time. Not sure what I mean? Try this on for size: when Hollywood gets around to remaking the brat pack movies (Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, etc), they need look no further than Matter for the soundtrack.

That’s not to say that the strength of this album is limited to pure nostalgia and throwback goodness. For those that like the lyrics in the music they enjoy to have meaning–true, real-life meaning, not insipid catchphrases that pander to the disengaged and simple-minded, Matter delivers strongly in that way. It’s not so much that Boggs weaves ornate tales or comes across too intellectually for some, but it’s the straightforward honesty in his lyrics that grab my attention and hold it there. There is something very refreshing about the reflective nature of the songs on Matter, which I wish more musicians would pay attention to. Truly no single song can solve the woes of our planet, but when real, honest lyrics cut through the mindless clutter surrounding our everyday lives to make us really think, that is when a musician becomes an artist. In my opinion, Boggs was already there with We Were Pirates. Matter just solidifies that feeling, and it makes me relieved to know that Boggs and We Were Pirates exist.

Give Matter a listen to hear what I am talking about. No need to give me credit when you feel these songs in your gut, wondering what personal tempests led Boggs to create them. They’ll make you pause and think, and the album is solid all throughout, cutting through the clutter and noise that make up so much new music to clearly stand out.

Get Matter for yourself:
iTunes: http://apple.co/1QuRrVH
Spotify: http://spoti.fi/219XSlV
Physical CD: http://bit.ly/1SlAEZP

Bevan Davies’ Tribute Album Is Way More Than You Think

Bevan Davies - SurfRhythm.comFirst off, full disclosure: I work with ZoSo, for whom Bevan Davies is now the drummer. Bevan is widely known for his work with Static-X, Still Rain, Madfly, Comes With The Fall and Danzig. That said, I don’t work with Bevan in any way outside of ZoSo, and I’m not obligated to review side projects from members of the bands I work with, in fact I’ve never done so until now. That’s because one listen to Bevan’s album brought me to so many different musical places that I could feel what he was aiming to do with this work.

Bevan Davies was made, purely and simply, for Bevan to give a nod to some of the most influential artists and songs in his musical life. He duly credits the artists for the inspiration and motivation which led him to his drumming life: “The songs I’ve chosen here are a nice mix of the stuff that wass bouncing around in my head when I was a kid. In other words, here are some of the direct influences that caused me to pick up a pair of drumsticks for the very first time. Additionally, there are influences on here that drove me to continually improve my craft over the years.”

The resulting album is one that caught me by surprise. An eclectic group of songs, really, but cohesive in a way that gives me a respect for Bevan’s tastes and talent. Assembling an impressive crew of musicians to record the songs with him proved to be the hardest part of the project. “Trying to schedule everyone in the studio was hard, definitely the biggest challenge. It made the recording process a lengthy one, but it was well worth it.”

Guest players on the album include Brent Hinds (Mastodon) and William Duvall (Alice in Chains) Nate Utz (The Blondz), Tuk (Biters), Roy Cathey (The Fifth, Cold Sweat), and Angela Wolfe (Dirty Polyanna).

Don’t dig in to this album expecting major artistic twists with the songs he covers, instead Bevan pays homage to the songs by recreating them as they were originally recorded. “I wrestled with the ideas of “modernizing” or “beefing up” certain things here and there, but ultimately I decided these faithful recreations were the way to go. I couldn’t see the point of sharing my influences with you if I was going to go in and play things differently. That approach is certainly cool on plenty of “covers” albums, but that’s just not what I’m doing here. This is my tip of the hat to the drummers and songs that shaped me.”

Why I love this album: Bevan’s song choices are excellent, and bring me back to many of my own musical memories. It’s as if he took the originals and dusted them off, giving us shiny new versions of each song. And his drumming skills are off the charts, just a pleasure to listen to. Finally, the talent that worked with him on the album help make this one that I’ve already listened to over a dozen times, and will keep in my regular listening rotation.

Tracklist for Bevan Davies

01. Kill The King
02. Light Up The Sky
03. Rip It Out
04. Time Of The Season
05. Cornucopia
06. Fireball
07. Strange Days
08. High Wire
09. Dreaming
10. Ready An’ Willing
11. Bad Reputation

Get the album:

On CD: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bevandavies
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bevan-davies/id1024825870

Or just listen to it right here:

Bumpin’ Uglies new EP has best title ever: Sublime With No One

BU-SublimewNoOneYeah, they went there with that title. Aren’t you glad they did? I am, because they just set the reggae/punk/rock scene back closer to a state of normalcy than it’s been in a loooong time.

If you listen to Bumpin’ Uglies enough, several things will hit you, perhaps unexpectedly to the uninitiated. First will likely be but that name! You may ask yourself, do they take themselves seriously? Is it a gimmick? What type of characters make up this band? Second will be the direct and from-the-gut lyrics lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Brandon Hardesty throws down. Third will be the characteristic humor and charm you find in him and his band, realizing that they make grooves that are immediately recognizable, memorable and loveable. Which I suspect is exactly how Brandon wants it.

Stream Sublime With No One  on Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/album/0r8mVEt4LpixMYsrI5Ml8X

That’s not saying that Brandon doesn’t take his music seriously; he certainly does, however he holds nothing back in poking fun at himself and life in general, but it comes out right when it’s the true words boiling out. It’s just Brandon and Bumpin’ Uglies. See the final track title and lyrics for what I mean.

So it came as no surprise when Brandon contacted me to ask my thoughts about naming the next Bumpin’ Uglies release Sublime with No One. In my opinion there is no other band out there that could do something like this and have it make complete sense other than Bumpin’ Uglies. There will never be another Brad Nowell, we will never have Sublime again, especially the brutally honest and at times gut wrenching lyrics. It is something Brandon shares with the late legend, and it’s something that I applaud. Be who you are, be true, and own it. Brandon has never tried to be anything he’s not, nor has his music ever veered into places that were of questionable intent. In an age where everyone is becoming hypersensitive to words and speech they deem un-PC, Brandon flips them all the proverbial bird. And for that I am grateful.

Irreverence? Check. Humor? Check. Honesty? Check. Integrity? Check. Five new tracks of punky-reggae-dirty-rock-ska goodness from Bumpin’ Uglies? Yes please. These guys are slowly yet steadily developing legend status, mark these words: They are never going away. Sublime With No One just proves that they’ll never change, and obviously they’ll never sell out and try to be something other than Bumpin’ Uglies. Not many bands can say that…hell, not a lot of people can even say that.

Brandon and Bumpin’ Uglies approach is decidedly old school in a new school world. No pretense, no made up facade, no over-inflated sense of self-importance from them, ever. There was only one Sublime, and it should be said that there is only one Bumpin’ Uglies.

Sublime With No One track list:

  1. Warning
  2. Social Ladders
  3. Nostalgia
  4. Maturity
  5. Fuck It

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/bumpinugliesmusic

http://bumpinugliesmusic.com/