Cyrus Bolooki of New Found Glory discusses “Resurrection,” fan support, and the state of the music industry

By Alexa Spieler

Via Vater.com

Before New Found Glory’s headlining performance at Best Buy Theater on Oct. 19, drummer, Cyrus Bolooki, spoke with WSN to discuss the Tri-State area’s prominent support of the band, New Found Glory’s new album, “Resurrection,” and the current state of the music industry.

No stranger to the Tri-State area, the Florida-natives initially found acceptance in the likes of New Jersey and New York. As Bolooki noted, “Anytime we play here, we know it’s going to be amazing: it doesn’t matter where or when or how many kids.”

The tour’s taken them throughout New Jersey, Philadelphia, and before their Manhattan-bound performance, Long Island. At an earlier meet and greet, the band met a fan who had traveled to their Boston and Philly performances, only to end up at the New York one, as well.

When reminiscing about New Found Glory’s earlier Tri-State area performances, Bolooki recounted that at a show twelve years earlier, in New Jersey, a fan disguised himself as a Dominos worker, in order to “bring” pizza to the band, after managing to land backstage.

In actuality, the fan worked for Dominos and used his uniform to get past security. He recalled the fan announcing, “Look, there’s no pizza in this box and we just worked our way in here.”

Nonetheless, the band, in appreciative fashion, permitted the fan to not only stay, but also watch the concert from a side-stage view. Much to Bolooki’s disappointment, the band never did receive pizza that evening.

The example offered by Bolooki is a testament to the band’s fans’ evident devotion throughout New Found Glory’s seventeen-year career.

Currently headlining the “Glamour Kills Tour,” New Found Glory has experienced the tremendous highs and lows that correlate with the ever-mercurial music industry. Despite experiencing waves of notoriety, New Found Glory has witnessed the exacerbation of record sales.

As Bolooki explained, “Obviously, numbers have changed, for the entire industry. I think one of the greatest things about our band is that from the beginning, we were always about touring and playing shows.”

Though a shift in numbers has occurred, throughout the years, New Found Glory has experienced an increase in record sales with their latest release, “Resurrection.” Despite competing against Yellowcard for day-of sales, Bolooki noted, “We both actually sold around the same number of copies, too…I’m not really counting,” and emphasized, “The important thing is we sold more with this record in the first week than we did on our last release.”

Subsequently, with “Resurrection” landing at #25 on the Billboard charts, it appears as though success continues to align with New Found Glory’s musical outputs. Numbers have vacillated and the industry has shifted, but Bolooki continues to look towards the performing aspect, aspiring to hone in on the band’s evident triumphs, responding with gratitude instead of cynicism.

As he conveyed, “We’ve played at so many venues around the city and around the world, and that’s what we focus on. It doesn’t really matter what happens around us, as long as we can keep playing shows.”

Alexa Spieler is music editor. Email her at music@nyunews.com

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CMJ brings Mikhael Paskalev, Courtney Barnett, San Fermin to Webster Hall

By Margaret Farrell

Via Margaret Farrell for WSN

Via Margaret Farrell for WSN

A small crowd hovered around the empty stage at Webster Hall on Oct. 22, awaiting the opener for the night Mikhael Paskalev.

In a black-rimmed western hat and blue striped shirt, Paskalev walked out before the anxious audience, his hollow-body guitar being his only company. Whimsical riffs, outrageous song content, and ashy vocals proceeded for the next forty minutes.

Paskalev’s vocals were crisp and muffled, contrasting beautifully against his precise guitar picking. The solo artist, originally from Norway, had the crowd wrapped around his guitar woven fingers, as he seemed to have cheering section the right of the hall.

“I feel like I could say anything and you guys would cheer,” Paskalev joked only to prove this theory continuing, “Your sister is hot!” pointing to an anonymous fan that answered with a vivacious screech.

The twenty-seven year old put on an impressive set preforming songs about bad boys, being in jail, and a gem that was written for his ex-girlfriend for the night of her Birthday before he left her. Most of the audience unfamiliar with folk and western inspired pop seemed to jump on the bandwagon, by the end of the set. For the last couple songs, San Fermin drummer Michael Hanf came out to assist in compositions that needed the necessary oomph of a drumbeat. Paskalev finished his set with the his big singles, “I Spy” and “Come On and Jive Babe.”

The CMJ native Courtney Barnett was up next.

An artist to keep an eye on the coming years, Barnett and her three-piece band put on a flawless performance. Barnett’s vocals were clear, manifesting her signature apathetic and sleepy tone caught on record.

Opening with “David,” and continuing to hit all her high notes off her debut album “The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas,” Barnett had everyone bobbing their heads at Webster. What was so great about Barnett’s set was that it was actually better to listen to live than on record — a very rare feat to accomplish. The extra noise added with improvisation seemed necessary and satisfied the thirsty ears in the crowd. Along with the impeccable sound, the energy of the entire band was contagious. It simply seemed that Barnett and her band were having fun on stage, putting on a perfect performance was just an afterthought- her stage presence is natural.  Guitar necks and heads of hair flying all across the stage, the Melbourne native band was constantly in motion.

“Anonymous Club,” was the one tender moment of the night as Barnett’s ghostly vocals echoed off the walls for the intimate song. A few new songs were showcased for Barnett’s upcoming album, including a hit with the chorus, “put me on a pedestal, I’ll only disappoint you/ tell me I’m exceptional, I’ll promise to exploit you.” Courtney Barnett and her band ended with “Avant Gardener” and “History Eraser,” leaving the audience sulking for an encore and proving that whatever pedestal Barnett is on is quite accurate.

San Fermin, the headlining band, put on a charismatic and chaotic finale. It was incredible to watch the eight members recreate their robust sound. Two lead singers, a violinist, a saxophonist, a trumpeter, a drummer, a keyboardist, and a guitarist took the light bulb infested stage, opening the evening with “Renaissance.”

New songs “Emily,” “The Woods,” amongst plenty of others kept the crowd’s hunger satisfied. The energy of San Fermin was incredible as trumpeter John Brandon jumped over the photo barrier into the crowd, serenading the mob with his brass belches. Relentless, and tireless the familiar friends dazzled the encouraging crowd until midnight.

Margaret Farrell is a contributing writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com

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Transit takes an enjoyable, forgettable “Joyride”

By E.R. Pulgar

Via AbsolutePunk.net

Pop-punk music is angsty by nature: it is the music of the outcasts, the suburban kids who feel like they would belong if they get out of their small towns. The big pop punk bands —Green Day, Blink 182, etc. — usually delve into deeper topics, but the more obscure ones don’t tend to delve deeper than a sad song about a girl or wanting to drive away with their friends. In essence, the genre captures youth, along with all its insecurities and moments of glory, with big guitars and pounding drums that, after a few minutes of listening, feel jaded.

Transit follows in the footsteps of nearly every pop punk band on their latest studio effort, “Joyride.” The album, composed of twelve tracks, is probably better experienced as the soundtrack to a crowd of festival-goers. Without the sweaty pushing and the excitement of being at a music festival, it’s a fairly bland rock record that sounds a little too polished, with no room left for the grittiness that makes people come back to pop punk, no matter how similar the music sounds between bands of the genre.

On almost every song, vocalist Joe Boynton’s pitch-perfect delivery seems almost plastic, which is unbecoming of songs with such exorbitant emotional content. It’s a typical pop punk voice: young and with an impressive range, with a whiny undertone to the actual delivery.

This is unsurprising, as the rest of the record is so stereotypically cookie-cutter when it comes to pop punk records. “Saturday Sunday” seems like a My Chemical Romance demo straight out of 2004, and not even a good one.

That being said, the album does have its moments: “Summer Dust,” despite again conforming to the stereotypes this album so often falls back on, is refreshingly bittersweet and honest, talking about a lost summer love. The closing track, “Follow Me,” shows a glimmer of intelligence within a sea of banal lyrics, self-referencing itself in the last line: “This is my love song, this is how it ends,” a fitting final line to an album full of heartbroken and sappy anthems to sad girls in small towns.

The most gorgeous moment comes in the form of “Loneliness Burns,” the only emotional part of the album that does not feel fabricated. The song tones down the drums and guitar to let Boynton’s voice be contemplative and even genuinely pained while the piano the song is built around provide the pang of melancholy that makes it so stunning. The simple piano-driven ending leaves one with a sense of what the song is about, as opposed to openly stating it like the rest of the songs on “Joyride.”

At best, Joyride is a fun album; good to listen to and escape life for a bit, while lost in the melancholy memories of an alt-kid’s youth. At worst, it’s a forgettable and clichéd collection of tunes doomed to be Hot Topic background music.

Essentially, “Joyride” is worth a listen if you’re attending Warped Tour, but best avoided if you’re not.

E.R. Pulgar is a staff writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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The Foo Fighters’ “Something From Nothing” provides listeners with a taste of new music

By E.R. Pulgar

Via Consequence of Sound

Last year, Dave Grohl announced that 2014 would be “a really big year for the Foo Fighters, without question.” Ending their hiatus they took after 2011’s “Wasting Light” soon after it was announced, the band has been fervently writing new material for their eighth studio album, to be released next month.

Grohl, the band’s frontman, also announced that the band would be shooting a “rockumentary” for HBO titled “Sonic Highways,” which was later revealed to be the album’s name.

“Something from Nothing” is the world’s first taste of the album, released alongside the first episode of the series.

As the song starts, Grohl’s hushed performance, overlaid on top of guest guitarist Rick Nielson’s (of Cheap Trick) chugging guitar, echoes back to 1997’s “Everlong.” As the song continues, Grohl builds up the tension by maintaining gruff and subdued vocals, which become more prominent with each verse, and drummer Taylor Hawkins pounds away furiously, allowing listeners to hear a true arena-rock anthem that evolves from a beginning that could have been sluggish.

The song proves a relentless tour de force, and completes its transformation by the third minute with a towering and memorable crescendo: Grohl’s scratchy grunge howl overlaid with a powerful and overbearing guitar solo. This huge ending only grows as the song ends, Grohl devouring the mic, yelling “I came from nothing,” a primal and echoing sentiment almost as rapturous as the guitar.

Structure wise, we don’t see too much of a difference from past Foo Fighters songs: Grohl is still as powerful a frontman as ever, his voice still a gravely and all-encompassing shriek, the band still relies on chugging guitar’s to build to towering hooks and, of course, there are the towering hooks that feel like going through a wind tunnel of unadulterated rock music. They’re an overbearing band, and “Something from Nothing” is a testament to this, but that’s what makes them great.

“Sonic Highways” comes out on Nov. 10.

E.R. Pulgar is a staff writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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Stello; Del Water Gap captivate Fontana’s Bar for CMJ

By Madeleine Grossman

Via Facebook

On Oct. 22, Manhattan- based trio, Stello, took the stage at Fontana’s Bar to play their first show as a part of the annual CMJ Music Marathon.

Towards the beginning of the show, the brand new band, comprised of vocalist Kit Conway, drummer Charlie Schlinkert, and bassist Jared Lacasce, played  “Feelers” – their rock n’ roll yet slightly jazz-infused single.

Stello churned out an energetic combination of both original and cover songs for a small but enthusiastic crowd.  At one point they played a slower, rock version of a Frank Ocean song, while blending in some jazz elements, where at another point they showcased an Elvis Costello cover.

The band passionately played every song, generating enthusiasm about the future of their music, and ended the show expressing their gratitude for everyone who made it out to the show that night.

Soon after Stello left the stage, New York-based band Del Water Gap began playing their heartfelt alternative folk songs.  Lead vocalist, Holden Jaffe, made friendly banter with the audience in between the sounds of trumpets and guitars.  Founding members Will Evans and Charlie Schlinkert joined Jaffe along with Kit Conway and Jared Lacasce from Stello.

The group gracefully managed to switch between upbeat, danceable yet still folky songs such as “Rockman’s Pier” to slow, emotion stirring tunes like “Lost My Cat/Put in a Cage”. Every note was perfectly in pitch, much to the pleasure of the crowd, while the band played songs off their 2014 EP “Sleeping,” along with even newer songs.

Del Water Gap ended the show hopping all over the stage, climbing on top of drums and simply enjoying themselves, putting on a show that deserved more recognition.  The band will be playing another show on Saturday, Oct. 25 at The Studio at Webster Hall.

Madeleine Grossman is a contributing writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com

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Alexz Johnson relishes her independence on “Let ‘Em Eat Cake”

By Matthew Mahoney

Via RyanSeacrest.com

Alexz Johnson, whose career began around fifteen years ago when she began acting at the age of eleven, just released her second album “Let ‘Em Eat Cake this month.  Her fall tour, which began about a week ago, is making two stops in New York, as a part of the CMJ Music Marathon. Johnson spent the Oct. 22 afternoon in the CMJ Press and Artist lounge where she spent a few minutes discussing her latest album with WSN.

WSN: Favorite thing about New York City?

AJ: I love that at any moment there are lives shows you can see.

WSN: Your new album was funded through Pledge Music, how was this experience for you?

AJ: It was awesome.  It was a little bit more work, but it is more gratifying because I get to own everything I do and I get to have control.  I got offered a major deal from the completion of this album and I turned it down because it’s been so nice, having been signed two times in my career and having that fail because of inner label stuff it’s been really nice have control over my releases, my vibe, my music and my tours.  I am really enjoying the freedom, and Pledge [Music] has been amazing, I mean, again it was a lot, but I had my packages sent out, vinyl has been taking a while, so I sent everyone free albums in the mail.  It’s been really fun to be able to so one on one with the people who support me because I don’t really have this like crazy expectation of my career to be some sort of rock star, but I would like to be able to keep the fans who love my music engaged and to have a solid career for the rest of my life.  And that’s my goal

WSN: Do you think you would you release another album through Pledge Music?

AJ: Maybe, I mean who knows, unless some great indie distribution label comes on board and wants to help listen to my voice and help be a part of that.  I like to design my own clothes, and I am very hands-on, so maybe, we’ll have to see.

WSN: What is something you are looking forward to in the future?  

AJ: The music video I’m going to be doing for “Let ‘Em Eat Cake” and touring this album in Europe and South America; I want to go all over the place with it.  I’m going to be spending the next two years touring and putting out songs and making music videos.  There is such a story to this album that I want to do a couple of music videos and keep on touring to have that fund the making of the music videos.  I’m also releasing this really cool “live from the rehearsal studio” for “Let ‘Em Eat Cake” to keep people engaged.  But at the end of the day, as an indie artist, I have the power of my Twitter page and my Facebook page.  And I still leave places having people going, “Oh you played Portland last night? I didn’t know,” so it’s a bit more of a grind, but I like it that way, it feels more authentic because the people who want to be there are there.  Instead of being plastered on a billboard and being shoved down people’s throats, because that’s fleeting and the quicker you make it the quicker people will dismiss you. So I’d rather just grow.

Matthew Mahoney is a staff writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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BJ The Chicago Kid’s CMJ performance proves impressive, but also leaves room for improvement

By Siceus Panossian

Via Siceus Panossian for WSN

Via Siceus Panossian for WSN

On Oct. 22, BJ The Chicago Kid took the stage at Le Poisson Rouge for CMJ.

While NPR hosted the event, the crowd was anything but the stereotypical demographic that one would associate with public radio. A mixture of old hip hop heads, blunted street kids, and rap nerds crowded towards the stage when it was BJ’s turn for his set.

BJ The Chicago Kid initially gained fame through his association with Top Dawg Entertainment, more commonly known as TDE.

BJ appeared from the side of the stage to enthusiastic applause and opened with “Real Love Never Dies,” a jazzy downbeat R&B song. Bathed in purple light, a bandana donning, BJ serenaded the crowd with his smooth but soulful lyrics.  His voice seemed to melt into the soft guitar chords and saxophone notes in the beat.  In an age where the line between rap and R&B performers is deteriorating it was immediately clear that BJ is landed firmly on the R&B side of things.

After a handful of songs, it was already apparent that he was far more comfortable and better tuned to performing live than many of the other up and coming acts at CMJ; this makes sense given that his first appearance on a significant artist’s song was 2006’s “Impossible” by Kanye West.

About halfway through the set, which had consisted predominantly of songs off of “Pineapple Now-Laters,” BJ played “My Pain,” a personal and crowd favorite. Despite not having Kendrick Lamar, a prominent feature on the track, BJ managed to capture the intense sadness of the song.  At this point his voice seemed to fill the room, and the emotion with which he sang was captivating.

While his performance on that song was impressive, it was still missing an element; and indeed that was a trend that seemed to persist throughout BJ’s set. At times it was obvious that he needed the feature artists on many of his tracks to properly execute them.  He rounded the show out with “Perfect,” his strongest solo song and a definite indication that with a little more experience he will be able to sharpen and perfect himself as a solo artist.

It was obvious, after his set, that BJ is somebody to keep an eye on. He has a large collection of strong feature appearances, but his CMJ performance made it clear that he has a lot of potential as a solo artist.

Siceus Panossian is a contributing writer. Email Siceus at music@nyunews.com

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