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A music blog based in the High Desert giving you the inside scoop on your favorite local and national artists

Kickin’ it at Kennedy’s Pub with Mondo Silicone and Delta Shade

The heat has finally caught up with the desert, making the evening of June 14th a warm Saturday night. Perfect for a pub show and Kennedy’s pub served as an excellent stage for Mondo Silicone and Delta to rip up, despite there not being an actual stage. Hot off their performance at Oddfest, Mondo Silicone and Delta Shade teamed up for a night of some sweet hard rock.

First up for the evening was Mondo Silicone and the group is starting to make some notoriety for themselves with their stellar covers of “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Breaking the Law”, but still busting out originals written in the vein of 70’s and 80’s metal.  “When we were younger, we were very obsessed with classic rock,” said drummer Jonathan Avina, “the image, the music, you know, just the subculture of everything involved, it was just a fantasy world for us. We realized a lot of that is still obtainable while still respecting the world [of classic rock] and, not to get all preachy, but fucking just have good fun.”

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The image of Mondo Silicone is not a gimmick.  It may seem that way with singer Chris Martell donning green fur leggings and ripping off one of his many green shirts during the performance, but what Mondo Silicone has constructed is a band that not only loves the music, but the era of youthful rebellion through hard rock. “We do play covers, you know. Like, I think that’s where we find our identities,” said Martell. “These are our influence and that’s what drove us all together, but together, we made Mondo Silicone.”

“We’re four Peter Pans,” Guitarist Tim Smith added. It was a nice sentiment that I actually wrote down in my notebook. The aspirations of the group seem more set echoing an era lost in time rather than haphazardly covering classic songs. Combined with the youthfulness of the group, it seemed like Mondo Silicone are intent on being the Lost Boys of the Classic Rock era, an idea that Smith immediately put into question, “Wait, where is our Wendy? Do we each get a Wendy, or do we have to share a Wendy?”

Truly hard hitting music journalism, only at Ticket2Ride Music blog.

As for the future, there is a lot on the plate for Mondo Silicone. Bassist Todd Fitzgerald Hines sets his expectations high, “you know, we’ve had the talk where it’s like; this guy said it and it all just kinda resonated. We don’t want to be a one hit wonder kinda deal; we want to be a two hit wonder… Of course we want to have fun, but I mean who’s to say we can’t have our own motion picture, you know.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m eagerly awaiting This Is Mondo Silicone.

Teaming up with Mondo Silicone is Delta Shade, a band that has been rising up in the scene over the last year with their brand of blues rock, but according to drummer Andy Laich, it didn’t start out that way, “Actually, when we very first started jamming out, they were Green Day cover songs”.

“Oh yeah, yeah,” added singer and bassist Chad Buchanan, “This was in the bedroom, it was never taken anywhere. Yeah, we met in little league, had him over at my house and I learned a couple of Green Day songs [on guitar].” Laich and Buchanan had actually played with the likes of Save Ferris, Backside and Face to Face back in their early career.

“Can I give a shout out to No Direction?” asked Laich.

Buchanan elaborated on the evolution of their sound and deviating away from punk rock, “[It came] with age. I mean, how long are you gonna play a bunch of power chords?”

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The story of Delta Shade begins more than a year ago according to Guitarist Travis Prine, “Yeah, [Chad and Andy] ran an open mic at the Yodeler, me and my brother went to check it out like a little over a year ago, so I went and jammed with them and we really hit it off. Yeah, we just decided to try and make something out of it, writing songs and stuff.”

At the end of the evening, I went around asking the bands what song made them fall in the love with music. Jonathan and Chris of Mondo Silicone shared “TNT” by AC/DC while Todd says “Rocket Queen” by Guns N’ Roses was what did it for him. Tim confessed that “Bringing on the Heartbreak” by Def Leppard was what drove him to want to play guitar.

As for the guys at Delta Shade, Chad sang the chorus for “Here Comes the Rain Again” by The Eurythmics while Andy busted out “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam. Travis, however, took a little time thinking about his answer. “That’s hard, man. I was into so much stuff, young. Like, my first band obsession was Van Halen, so probably Eruption-“

“I thought it was Smash Mouth?” asked Laich.

“OH, I TOTALLY FORGOT, DUDE. SMASH MOUTH! YES! My whole life changed the day I heard “All Star”, man. That’s when I knew; I’m like ‘selling my soul to the devil today for rock n roll.’”

“You can hear it in your playing,” added Buchanan

“Totally. So yeah, probably Van Halen, you know, ‘Eruption’, or something off of Van Halen I. Yeah, Eddie Van Halen, I worshipped him for like many years, mimicked him and stuff.”

“It’s actually Smash Mouth,” Laich asserted.

“Come on, I told you not to bring that up.”

-b.d. ponce

Have a show and/or drink at Kennedy’s Pub Today!

Mondo Silicone’s Facebook

Delta Shade’s Facebook

Check out Delta Shade’s first album!

Something Odd In Those Hills: ODDFEST 2017

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June 14th, 2017
by Brian Donald Ponce

 

Oddfest 2017 hit the stages of the Hilltop Tavern and Inn Saturday, June 10th for its second annual music festival promoting and celebrating the best music the High Desert can offer. Put on my Michael Eberhardt with the rest of the guys at Odd Bridges, the festival featured nineteen bands and artist from genres ranging from punk, alternative, hard rock, reggae and hip-hop. It was an eclectic representation of the state of music in the High Desert, which is far cry from the state of the scene five years ago, where the closure of several established venues and the failure of others cast a shadow over the talent in this region. Oddfest 2017 is a strong indication that those days are behind us.

The line-up of bands featured Manifest Illusion, At Your Six, Anti-Socialite, Hoodlife Hippiez, Mondo Silicone, Delta Shade, Rain Brings Weather, Odd Bridges, Twenty Dollar Prophets and Mirk Beniah on the main stage with Atomik:Kangaroo, Just SayN, The Modern Three, ZODRHI (or Zombie Dress Hipsters), The Companies, Jade, The Lillies, Dead Rekoning and Kryptic Moons on the second stage. We had a good blend of seasoned veterans like The Lillies, Rain Brings Weather and The Companies joined by rising acts like Anti-Socialize and Mondo Silicone, the latter of whom celebrated the one year anniversary of their first show at the Oddfest 2016.

Like last year, Oddfest was held at the Hilltop Tavern and Inn, which offered a good selection of beer and a stunning view of the High Desert. Unlike last year, this year’s Oddfest came with a $12 cover charge that included two free drinks. The only downside was that you had to get both drinks at the same time, which may not seem like much of a problem for most people. However, when you’re trying to conduct interviews while double fisting a couple of beers, it can be somewhat cumbersome (I persevered nonetheless).

 

The day started off well with bands like Atomik:Kangaroo, Manifest Illusion, Just SayN, The Modern Three, Anti-Socialite and At Your Six bringing their own brand of punk and alternative to the Hilltop. Every band brought their “A” game, but allowed themselves to be relaxed in a friendly environment of local musicians and music lovers. “We’re gonna mess up a little bit, but its okay,” said Kylie Sloncik of The Modern Three.

Jorge Arias of Just SayN appreciated the geniality of the crowd. “We like how open people are to our music. They’re not like, ‘naw, I’m not into that’,” said Arias. Arias and the rest of Just SayN stuck around for the rest of the day to show support for the rest of the bands, as did many other groups. This is just a small example of the level of camaraderie this community of musicians shares for one another. It may not be unique, but it is significant.

As the day progressed, bands like Hoodlife Hippiez and Mondo Silicone tore up main stage while The Companies and ZODRHI got people dancing over on the second stage. The Companies, who are based outside the High Desert in the greater Inland Empire, commented on the growth of the scene. “Years ago, I came here looking for some punk bands to join, but there were pretty much only metal bands for a while,” said Dustin Strandvery of the Companies. When I asked Hoodlife Hippiez the same question, the general consensus among its members was that it was “Awesome” with one of the group’s three front-men, RSIN, adding “it’s all for the music. We love it.”

Early in this decade, we saw the closure of venues such as the Karma and Angel’s Roadhouse 2, as well as the briefly lived Victorville Events Center. It seemed like stages for bands to play on were disappearing left and right, leaving some bands to move out of the high desert, dissolve or make their own stage. That last option is exactly what Mike Eberhardt has been doing for the past two years with his group, Odd Bridges. It started in 2015 with the first Cold Turkey Fest at Gators in Apple Valley and since then, Eberhardt has put on four festivals featuring local talent.

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Photo by Paul McDonald

Odd Bridges, as well as the entire festival, is credited by Eberhardt’s band mates Jason Trevino and Brandon Jones as being his brainchild. “I put a lot of credit to Mike for helping revive the scene,” said Brandon Jones of Odd Bridges, “He lugged the gear in, played the shows and lugged it out. He was making the calls, making the contacts and when they couldn’t pull through, he did it himself.”

That certainly was the case for most of the day as I was only able to get five minutes with Eberhardt while he and the guys from Rain Brings Weather worked tirelessly on helpings bands set up and break down. Tyler Skelton of At Your Six mentioned the rigidness of the schedule, “Our set was a little rushed, but we were happy with what we played.”

Things certainly did run smoothly as bands got ample time to show off what’s going on in their side of the desert. Jade, Delta Shade and The Lillies kept the energy rolling into the night. Marty Calderon of Jade, another group that has been floating around the scene for the last five years, just said, “We just need to keep pushing [the music scene].” I approached Matthew Humphrey of the Lillies with the same question. “Man, why do you keep asking me questions? Just leave me alone,” said Humphrey

“Yeah, man. You’re the enemy,” added his band mate, Robert Pereda.

“Don’t take whatever we say out of context.”

“Yeah… …fuck… …Matthew Humphrey… …worst… …guitarist ever…”

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Photo by Paul A. McDonald

Dewey B. Weather of Rain Brings Weather commented further on the dissolution of the scene after the closure of so many venues. “I remember it, it was really discouraging. Now, we got promoters coming up from San Diego because they see potential, and we’re just a bunch of deserts rats killing it.” Dewey had been there since 9 o’clock in the morning, working hard along with Eberhardt keeping the festival running smoothly. The two of them finally got a break to perform with their bands, Rain Brings Weather and Odd Bridges, later in the night.

From there, Dead Rekoning and Kryptic Moons closed out the second stage while Twenty Dollar Prophets and Mirk Beniah mellowed out the night after a day of music, tacos and booze. Otis “Mutherfuckin” Jones of Twenty Dollar Prophets was there for most of the day and spoke highly of the event. “Every band did a great job. Each band out did that last band. Everyone from the sound guys, the organizers, even the bartenders did a great job.”

Oddfest 2017 was blast from start to finish. When I asked Mike what his plans were for the next festival, he just said, “Eventually, we want to get headliners. I think, for every year, we want to make it bigger.” Mike wants to thank his band mates, Dewey B. Weather, Art Guerra, Brandon Burgess, and Spot Fillmore for their hard work, Shaun from Erupt Designs for making their flyers, Hilltop Tavern and Inn for letting them play, and to all the bands for coming out and having a good time.

– b.d. ponce

All pictures used were provided by Paul McDonald and Paul A. McDonald of Just SayN and Shaun Michael of Erupt Design.

Atomik:Kangaroo’s Facebook

Manifest Illusion’s Facebook

Just SayN’s Facebook

At Your Six’s Facebook

The Modern Three’s Facebook

Anti-Socialite’s Facebook

Hoodlife Hippiez Facebook

ZODRHI’s Facebook

Mondo Silicone’s Facebook

The Companies’ Facebook

Delta Shade’s Facebook

Jade’s Facebook

Rain Brings Weather’s Facebook

The Lillies’ Facebook

Odd Bridges’ Facebook

Dead Rekoning’s Facebook

Twenty Dollar Prophets’ Facebook

Kryptic Moons’ Facebook

Mirk Beniah’s Facebook

Erupt Design’s Facebook

Hilltop Tavern and Inn’s Facebook

livelearnlove by Stay Wild: A Review

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Artist: Stay Wild

Album: livelearnlove

Genre: Punk/Hardcore

Score: 4/5

                I’m not going to lie; this review will seem a little biased, but that is mostly because I adore hardcore punk. I love anything related to hardcore: plain hardcore, post-hardcore, metalcore, ska core, emocore, nerdcore (also known as Nintendocore as I am learning of now), jazzcore, etc. Hell, you can attach “-core” to polka and I’ll be all over it. That being said, I’m making a conscious effort not to overpraise or undervalue Stay Wild’s EP livelearnlove. I want to be fair while also not seeming like I’m just jerking off a band that melted my face off at ‘Thrasho de Mayo’ (I wrote a review of that show, check it out here

That disclaimer aside, the production on livelearnlove is crisp. Recorded at Buzzbombs Studios in Anaheim and running in at just under twenty minutes, Stay Wild delivers some of the most passionate,  intense hardcore that I’ve heard come out of the high desert in a long time. Released on June 24th of last year, I’m actually eleven months behind the curb on this one, but I hope there is shred of forgiveness as this blog is only three months old (better late than never).

livelearnlove is Stay Wild’s third EP and maintains the same level of ferocity as their two previous EPs, Pacemaker and the self-titled Stay Wild EP. Drummer David Fajardo gives a solid, commanding performance while bassist Jehiah Tonneson and guitarist Nick Riggs share the vocal duties with Riggs taking the bulk of the work. Together, the duo produces a combination of screaming, singing and near- spoken word performances that go from somber to chaotic in just seconds. Tracks like “Iconoclast” and “The Killjoy Luck Club” come packed with tons of energy, while the final track, “Blossom”, eases up on the tempo, but not the passion.

Lyrically, Stay Wild is not shy about their left-wing values and incorporates these themes heavily into their music. “Trigger Warning” serves as a great response to the criticism and stigmatizing of standing up against social issues. Terms like “Social Justice Warrior” and “Feminist” carry a negative weight in our current culture and Stay Wild tries to tries to knock this out by loudly proclaiming “I can’t just pretend it doesn’t happen”.

Given the current political climate, Stay Wild’s brand of hardcore is a perfect blend of the fury and emotion that helps combat any anger still permeating over the current presidential administration. After all, catharsis is a strong component in art and the making of art and punk rock, in general, has always served as a great platform for political anger. Stay Wild’s livelearnlove is a reflection of both rage and compassion that, I hope, serves as a great precursor of what to expect from emerging hardcore acts over the next few years, both in the High Desert and the rest of the country.

-b. ponce

Purchase livelearnlove and Stay Wild’s other music here

Stay Wild’s Facebook

Stay Wild’s Soundcloud

France, BLOW, and Bourbon

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By Mark Simpson

It’s not every day that you get to interview a group who primary speaks French and has a sound that will “BLOW” your mind. The Electro-Pop band “BLOW” is a relatively new band based in Paris who is yet to set foot in the United States. The French group has plans to come over soon with the help of their label DDM and, I’m predicting that many Americans will enjoy what I would call a dark, almost Depeche Mode like sound. The group is very appreciative about the attention they are getting from the United States and even went on to say:

“It’s a pleasure to see that American’s like our music.”

It has always amazed me that their are bands like “BLOW”, who with all their talent, are often found by an individual spending a night on YouTube. After seeing the french group perform on KEXP I was amazed by their sound, my favorite song being “The Devil Reminds Me”. The song is about a man fighting his compulsions to kill a young women, all the while dealing with with his own mental instability. Here is a video of the group performing the song on one of my favorite radio stations, KEXP.

It’s a bit of surprise to find out that Singer Quentin Guglielmi is influenced by many American greats like Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan, as well as paying tribute to fellow country men like Serge Gainsburg. As I listen to other songs like “You Killed Me on the Moon” I can see the similarities in the creative writing style of someone like Morrison. When asked about how Quentin goes about writing songs he replied:

“I write about scenes I see when I focus on the music I’m working on. It’s a kind of automatic writing. I don’t tell myself “I’m gonna write about politics, or about ecology”. Words come naturally, the music dictates it to me, sends me images.”
– Quentin Guglielmi

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When asked about the recording process and their luck with What I like to call, “Studio Magic”, the group pointed to tracks like “Zephyr” which was completely changed in the studio last minute to give the song a more favorable tempo and a memorable looping guitar.

When watching the group, I found it impossible not to enjoy the talent of their man who controls everything “Bass”, Thomas Clairice. Thomas is literally a man obsessed with low-frequency instruments and over the years has developed the talent to play the upright bass, cello, baritone sax, and the Moog Synth.

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As a band who enjoys every song they write, the group is focusing on writing some new material for their newest album which is set to be released within the upcoming months. The “I” EP is a personal favorite of mine, and I really enjoy the track “Call the Youth” as it has a guitar riffs that is eerie similar to something you would hear David Gilmour play in a Pink Fl0yd song.

As I wonder what it might be like to share a shot of “Bourbon”, the Bands favorite, I am reminded of the large pond that separates us from such amazing music. This as one of the more interesting articles I have gotten to do, and I hope that you all will take the time to like the groups pages. I appreciate the group’s time, and would love to see them perform in the States really soon. Sante!

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https://www.facebook.com/blowofficialbandpage

https://www.instagram.com/blow_band_/

Tacos and Thrash

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A common misconception about Cinco de Mayo is that its Mexico’s Independence Day. It’s actually the celebration of the Battle of Pueblo, where an outnumbered and outgunned Mexican Army fended off invading French forces on May 5, 1862. I read all about it on my phone (at least I admit to my own ignorance) while I sat in Frogee’s Cocktail Bar on Highway 18 and wondered how Thrasho de Mayo, an event hosted by Blaze featuring some of the sickest hardcore acts from all over the desert, could relate to this. The only conclusions I could draw were fraught with cultural appropriation and Americanization, until finally I had to listen to the voice in the back of my head that screamed, “QUIT OVERTHINKING IT, EAT YOUR TACOS AND ENJOY THE GODDAMN SHOW”.

Our first band of the evening, Dead Rekoning, was a first-rate start to the show. Armed with tracks like the self-titled “Dead Rekoning” (available here on their soundcloud) and “Fire in the Sky”, Dead Rekoning’s blend of punk and metal made for a solid opening to an evening promising to get faster and heavier. I managed to catch up with singer/bassist Anthony G and drummer Danny Vega after the show and reminisced with Vega over a show I saw at a mutual friend’s house back in his Against Faction days, where he was a high school senior at the start of his drumming career and I was a naive sophomore tripping over my own two feet after one beer.

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Left to Right: Danny Vega, Anthony G and Angel G

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Derek McEntire and Anthony G

Next in line were In Decline, a band that bolsters some killer screaming vocals from singer Charlie Warr (Yes, that is his real name) and a great mix of hardcore and metal akin to bands like Cancer Bats and This Is Hell. My only complaint, and the same complaint can apply to Dead Rekoning, was the briefness of the sets. Granted, organizing an event and getting it to run on schedule is no easy feat and when things go smoothly, it should be a good thing, but I really did want to hear more from Dead Rekoning and In Decline. These were two really strong local acts and I can’t wait to see more of them.

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Left to Right: Joe Small, Brennan Mann and Charlie Warr

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Left to Right: David Fajardo, Charlie Warr and Brennan Mann

David Fajardo, drummer of In Decline, stuck around to perform with his other band, Stay Wild. Joined by Nick Riggs and Jehiah Tonnesen, Stay Wild lived up to their namesake, delivering intense hardcore charged with political topics ranging from the current presidential administration to sexual assault (both of which go hand in hand). I caught a few words with Tonneson after the set. The band is getting ready to take off on the 18th of May for a two week west coast tour, which has the boys at Stay Wild anxious. With their new E.P. titled “livelovelearn”, Stay Wild look like their ready to hit those tour dates with the same vigor they brought to Frogee’s stage.

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Left to Right: Nick Riggs, David Fajardo, and Jehiah Tonnesen

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Left to Right: Nick Riggs and Jehiah Tonneson

During Stay Wild’s set, we had a couple of guest vocalists hop on the stage. These were brothers Josh and Danny Mathews of the next group, Cel Damage. Cel Damage was a bit of a departure from the type of hardcore we saw prior in the evening with a more experimental approach. They take on a very Locust-esque approach to songwriting, using a vocal effects pedal to build atmosphere with singer Danny Mathews grunts and screams before breaking it with pure immaculate fury. Not even broken guitar strings could deter this band from playing the set THEY wanted to play.

Now, let me take a minute to tell that I’ve heard a lot of band names over the years. Some pretty cool, some really lame and others just confusing. A band name is important because it’s the first thing you hear when you ask, “Who’s playing?” and a weak name can make or break a band. So, when I heard “Thrashquatch”, I knew right away that was something I had to see. A name like “Thrashquatch” caused me to envision Bigfoot, wearing a Suicidal Tendencies t-shirt, rampaging through a camp site, stepping on tents and knocking over coolers looking for beer. This would be his favorite band.

Of course, with a name like Thrashquatch, the music had better deliver and it did. With influences ranging from Slayer to Municipal Waste, Thrashquatch is music for thrashers by thrashers. Guitarist Jacob Crozier and Gio Trujillo shared the soloing duties, taking turns shredding while Don Barber hyped up the crowd with songs about Yeti’s, booze and moshing. The frantic energy put forth by the band was a perfect capstone to an event such as Thrasho de Mayo.

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Links to the facebooks/bandcamps for all the bands are posted below. If you’re someone starved for some strong local hardcore, I highly recommend each one of these bands.

Blaze (Host)

Dead Rekoning’s Facebook and Soundcloud

In Decline’s Facebook and Bandcamp

Stay Wild’s Facebook and Bandcamp

Cel Damage’s Facebook and Bandcamp

Thrashquatch’s Facebook and Bandcamp

Castle Pines, Adversity, and a Few Sips of Beer

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By Mark Simpson

Castle Pines story starts with four guys in their youth that are trying to figure out their place in a world. Faced with the loss of their home on Castle Pines Parkway, and an estranged relationship with family, the group was formed. Leandro Barriento, lead singer of the group, gives a voice to the adversity the group faced in their youth with my personal favorite track “Derailed”. When asked about the track the group said that:

“Derailed is about the reality of life, the things that happen to us and how we interpret them.”


“Summer Blood”, which was released in the summer of 2014, is a direct reflection of the groups experiences growing up in Southern California in the 90’s and what turned out to be turbulent times for the group. Many of the members experienced some major hardships during those times, like loosing their home to their parents best efforts to fight rising debt. Rather then feeling sorry for themselves and letting the pressures of life take the joy from their world the group found solace in the escape that playing music offers them.
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Through this experience the independent group has done its best to master the art of navigating the “shark tank” known as the music business. Singer Leandro even enrolled in the music program at Cal Poly so that he may better understand the Music business to plan for his future. As a DIY artists the group has plans to release a new album very soon and does many amazing benefit shows including the one that they did for the families of the victims killed in the San Bernardino school shooting in 2015. The group was so effected by what was going on around them that they wrote their song titled “Hollow Cause” which is a play on the word Holocaust, and is according to Leandro is a reflection of:

“ The shooting, the aftermath, the Syrian Crisis, the Civil unrest in the black community in cities around America, they all kind of culminated into this song.”

When asked about their latest album “Bless This House”, and what the groups favorite track was, they gave a really interesting tune called “Moonshine”. The tune features some serious ghosting on the snare by drummer Sterling Fairfeild along with a silky smooth baseline by bassist Jesse Briseno as can be heard below. The group was able to strike some serious “Studio Magic” on the album, as a few tracks were actually written and recorded while in the studio. One track that exemplifies this example is the the easy listening fan favorite song “Black Star Canyon”, which features great tone and a mesmerizing solo from guitarist Ricky Garvey.

As a group, the guys from Corona, California really want to offer their fans their very best and as a result, they rarely get drunk on stage. Its not uncommon to see the band members with their favorite beer on stage, but unlike you and me, they enjoy sipping that beer during their set. This is not to say that you can’t catch your favorite brew with the group after their set, as they seem to be the kind of rock stars that enjoy hanging out with their fans and sharing a brew.

As I finished my interview with Castle Pines, I found that the group was much like a family. Every group has some kind of diversity but, to me the mark of success is how you handle diversity. Castle Pines is one of those groups, that unlike many in our scene, I believe will stand the test of time. As I thanked the group for their time, I asked for their last words for our Ticket2Ride readers and this is what they had to say:

“We are so humbled and blessed to have wonderful people like you that are listening and supporting us after all these years and we are truly thankful . We want to tell all of you reading out there that we are diligently working on a new album for a release this year. Thank you so much and remember #CPporVida”

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Website – http://cpporvida.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CastlePinesMusic

Spotify – https://play.spotify.com/artist/08g4IM7nKcGPfgyaJ4aBzq?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

A Tribute to Cover Bands

Cover bands. Artist dedicated to the careers of others. These are two words that can either illicit feelings of excitement over the potential of hearing a good live performance of “Immigrant Song”, or dread after your co-worker’s third Facebook invitation to see his Insane Clown Posse tribute band. Whenever you see “cover band” on a marquee, you take a gamble and hope for the best. This is the unfortunate stigma for tribute acts, but it doesn’t stop bands like Circle of Black, Crazy Diamond or newcomers Physical Graffiti from throwing a tribute show to the best of the 1970’s at Frogee’s Cocktail on April 21st.

While sitting in the dive bar on Highway 18, I thought about the prospect of cover bands. Most of them are born from boredom, but then most music is for that matter. Cover acts have served as a platform for many bands to preform and discover their own musical identities. Most original music is created from that approach, but many cover bands choose not to go that route. Many prefer the label “tribute” to cover band, as it does creates an important distinction. While many cover bands will reinterpret music in their own way, often with an underlying theme that ties into the persona of the band (think Me First and the Gimme Gimmes), tribute bands preform with little variation, sticking as closely to the original song, and identity of the band, as possible.

The first act of the evening was Crazy Diamond, a tribute to Pink Floyd. Wielding a set-list comprised of well-known songs like “Time”, “Money, and “Comfortably Numb”, the band started the evening off on a more somber note. Given that the two following bands were going to tributes to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, it was safe to assume this was probably the mellowest this evening would get as the crowd stubbornly refused to clap along with the band during a song, but “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2” still managed to get the whole bar to sing, “We don’t need no education”. This is the power and influence of Pink Floyd, and the magic that bands like Crazy Diamond try to recreate.

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Following them was our Led Zeppelin tribute band, Physical Graffiti, making their debut. Zeppelin is a fun band to cover musically, but tricky when it comes to vocals. This is mostly due to Robert Plant’s wide range and crisp high-pitch singing, but singer Johnnie Garcia performed admirably, taking on tracks like “Immigrant Song” and “Communication Breakdown” with ease. Another highlight from the set is the band stepping off stage during “Moby Dick”, leaving drummer Ron Davis to channel his inner John Bonham. All of this ended on “Stairway to Heaven”, which I was a little disheartened to hear, not because I don’t like the song, but because I had a great Wayne’s World reference that I can’t use now. Oh well, another time.

Capping off the evening was Circle of Black, a Black Sabbath tribute band that, according to their Facebook, also will hammer out some of Ozzy’s and Dio’s solo work as a way to celebrate not just the music of Black Sabbath, but the careers that started in its wake. Honestly, any excuse to play “Crazy Train” and “Holy Diver” is good enough for me. While we didn’t hear either of those tracks, it was nice to hear the Dio era of Black Sabbath get some appreciation for once.

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Friday was not a night for originality, but for appreciation of an ear of rock now resting fifty years in the past. This year saw Black Sabbath bid farewell to their fans in March, so the prospect of seeing any of this music performed live is going to be through a tribute band. Some purist would look down on that idea, not willing to accept anyone else on the mic except Robert Plant or Ozzy Osbourne. While it is true that no one can ever suppress the talent or presence of bands like Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, that is not the point of tribute bands. Tribute bands, if anything, serve to remind us why these songs are timeless and still need to be played, even if it’s not by the person who wrote it.

-b. ponce

Facebook pages

Crazy Diamond’s Facebook

Physical Graffiti’s Facebook

Circle of Black’s Facebook

Good Apollo, Still Burning After Twelve Years

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Sunset Boulevard played host for Coheed and Cambria to preform their third album, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear through the Eyes of Madness, in its entirety at the Hollywood Palladium Saturday night. The concert hall is just one stop on a tour to reinvigorate the passion felt for Coheed’s biggest selling record to date. Released in 2005, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One garnered them the most attention for their distinct mix of prog-rock, emo and post-hardcore. The album struck a great balance that dominated the ears of geeky emo kids of last decade, such as yours truly.

Twelve seems like an odd number to celebrate, but given that the band’s previous effort, The Color Before the Sun, was released in 2015, the timing was just unfortunate. Coheed and Cambria were intent on bringing this tour to fruition, regardless if it follows the ten year anniversary trend or not. This album was as significant to them as it was to fans like me, a blog writer with dreams of having an episodic saga of books that are as beloved as front-man Claudio Sanchez’s Amory Wars series. Having attended the ten year anniversary show for In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (missed the Second Stage Turbine Blade show, I was poor), I highly anticipated this performance as both records were significant to me at that age, and these kind of events are for celebrating the impact albums like these have on fans. Part of that celebration is a reflection of where we were when we first heard these albums. I was a bored teen writing poorly articulated album and show reviews on his Myspace blog. Now, its twelve years later and… well, it’s not Myspace anymore, at least.

Joining Coheed and Cambria on this tour is the Dear Hunter, who delivered a solid forty-five minutes of eclectic prog-rock that appropriately charged the crowd of anxious Coheed fans. Were I not so hyped for the main event, I could have gone for way more of The Dear Hunter. However, we could wait no longer.

Recounting the show, a lot of your typical concert annoyances were present, including: Guys over 6’ crowding the front, dudes getting heated over overzealous Moshers, drunk girls dancing sloppily into every asset of your personal space and, the Coup de grace, getting beer split all over me at the beginning of “Ten Speed”. Of all the concerts I’ve been too, you could argue this was one of my worst experiences, but none of that mattered once “Keeping the Blade” started.

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The visual presentation coinciding with the performance was particularly stunning for this evening, as is to be expected with a band like Coheed and Cambria. The image of a skull bleeding blackness from its eye sockets was one of the many reoccurring motifs that created a stark, surreal atmosphere that enhanced the fury that Claudio and crew were unleashing. Hearing tracks like “Welcome Home” and “Apollo I: The Writing Writer” along with this abstract, bleak imagery reminded me of hearing this album for the first time in 2005 and reading the graphic novel a year later (borrowed copy).

The Meta narrative of a writer becoming delusion and clashing with his own characters was a unique perspective that set Good Apollo apart from the narrative of its predecessors, and many other concept albums for that matter. Coupled with its graphic novel, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One was something special when it first came out and the energy felt in that ballroom on Saturday night meant that feeling was still there. Through many of their peers of that era have disbanded and moved on to other projects, Coheed and Cambria are still here and poised to remind you of what made them stand out to begin with.

-b. ponce

BTS of The Rezinators music video “Get Me Down”

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This past Easter Sunday, SoCal hip-hop group The Rezinators announced the release of their new music video and song “Get Me Down.”  I was fortunate enough to be invited to the making of the music video.

The music video was Produced by Apollo V and Directed by Cannanvision. It was a small cast and crew and definitely a group effort. Despite a few hiccups, the production went well. A plus was that no one was hit by a car during the production (see BTS video).  The song itself has kind of a Warren G feel to it. So if you’re a fan of Warren G, you’ll probably be a fan of The Rezinators too. I personally dig this song. Check out the BTS and full music video below.

BTS Photos

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BTS Video

Full “Get Me Down” music video Produced by Apollo V and Directed by Cannanvision

To keep up to date about The Rezinators, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/theRezinators760

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-Mo

Ghosts in Pocket, Banana Daiquiris, and the “Barberton” Mountains

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By Mark Simpson

Barberton is the name of a unique and small town located in South Africa. The town was a gold mining town in the 1800’s and is surrounded by some of the oldest exposed mountains in the world. This improbable town also provides the name for the newest album by local Inland Empire indie rock band Ghost in Pocket. “Barberton” is the five-track stroke of genius that, with the help of kick starter and their fans, Ghosts in Pocket gave birth to on October 9th, 2015.

” It was important to us that we try to make “Barberton” feel like progress, because that’s also what the songs strive to do musically and lyrically.” – Keith

The album was produced, mixed, and mastered with the help of up-and-comer John Kunkel, who is a Los Angeles Native who owns Division 87 Records and performs with the group New Division. With influences such as Burt Reynolds and Carrot Top laying heavy on the band’s mind, they could go into the studio and lay down what may be, in my opinion, the best sounding local album I have heard in the last 5 years. The first track on the album is the title track “Barberton” which has an amazing video that gives you a look at the band and the lengthy recording process that goes with releasing an album.

From bandannas, to Nick cutting a good rug, to empty Rolling Rock on the floor, you can get a sense of how much this album met to the group. As someone who has found myself in padded room for hours on end listening to the same song over and over, I can tell you that the studio process, though amazing, can be quite lengthy.

“I think I speak for the group in saying it took us a lot longer to finish this project than we would have hoped. I suppose it’s all a part of the learning process.” – Zach

The group’s song that is a personal favorite of mine is “Make it Break” which shows off Chris’ unique drumming style. As a fellow drummer, I love that the song consistently keeps it’s energy and drive while Keith sings moving lyrics that, by the end of the track, have us all saying “Lovers, Lovers, Lovers”. When asked about the track Keith gave us some interesting perspective on what makes it such a hit with fans:

“My music interest has always been guided by meaningful and intentional lyrics, regardless of genre or style, and so, especially with the EP, I wanted the songs to resonate with a theme. I think the song that does it best is “Make It Break,” which I also think is one of the more basic songs structurally.” – Keith

I pictured myself sitting with the group listening to “Make it Break” and sipping on a Banana Daiquiri a favorite of my main man Nick… you read that right, a Banana Daiquiri. As I listened, I couldn’t help but wonder about the group that got its start from playing a pancake dinner for elementary children. As Keith put it, the song has a mood to it that is quite hypnotic and, as you can see from the video, the song may have a darker meaning than one might expect.

As I listened to moving songs like “Separated by Ice” I got a feeling that this album is much darker than their first album Shadowbox. I could see where a bit of studio magic had happened on the track; originally the track was slated to be electric but at the last-minute John Kunkel asked Keith if he might try it with the acoustic. As Nick put it, he is forever grateful for John’s quick decision and went on to say that, to this day, the track still gives him chills.

“Keep the Heat Coming” may be something of a dark horse on the album as it fits in perfect with the album but, on it’s own, shows a much different side of the group. It is a song that shows the most pressing of steady, high energy and ends with Zach playing a very powerful solo while the group seems to explode in different directions that work together simultaneously.

The album comes to close with what may be their most powerful song to date, “Statues Pulse,” which features a cool assortment of horns courtesy of Zach’s good friend Sean Portanova. The band, who gets their name from the haunting work of Dave Eggers, really shows their strengths in this song as singer Keith lays down one of my favorite lyrical lines:

” There’s nothing to prescribe I’ll trade my nerves to help you feel alive.”

As I finished the album, I could see why the group has been so successful and able to open for groups like We are Scientists. It is, to me, the way that the group can write such moving music while staying objective about their art. The group is a tight-knit group who can be a lot of fun to hang out with. They are bit witty and comical, but when they take the stage, much like Shaq when he hits the court, they rise to the occasion. If you would like to see these guys rock the desert make sure to come out to their show at Frogee’s on April 14th. As a closing, for this album review Id like to leave you with some information on the group as well as Nick’s 3 things that will help you conquer the world. Cheers!

“First, chip clips are poor substitutes for nipple clamps. Second, a tri-tip should rest for at least 10 minutes after you pull it off the grill. And finally, if California marijuana farmers aren’t called “ganjapreneuers,” they should be.” – Nick

Buy an Album $5 right Here –> https://ghostsinpocket.bandcamp.com/album/barberton-ep

Website: https://www.ghostsinpocket.com/

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GhostinPocket

Catch their next show at Frogee’s Apple Valley with Rustic Wild and Heavy Door on Friday, April 14th 2017 at 8pm.

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