Sworn In: A Welcome Suprise to the Lake County scene.

 Originally I kind of passed these guys because someone, you know who you are, described them as Kingmaker 2.0.  That was a poor and inaccurate description as Sworn In sounds nothing like Kingmaker.

Anyway skip the first song, Catharsis and listen to it last. I frankly don’t know why they chose it to be their first track off the EP uploaded on to Facebook, but the other four songs easily make up for it.  In terms of listening carefully to their stuff, I’ve been to their shows both as Sworn In and Buried By The Ocean.  They didn’t shock me live, but then who does at The Oasis?

Some of the jazzy feeling ambient riffs are actually quite well done and well placed, which I can appreciate. You eventually tire of the “Hey, let’s throw some cool sounding ambient riffs in here so people will think we are melodic and talented, as well as extremely hardcore.”   Throw in some promotional spinkicks, middle fingers, and thumping of the chest woven attire with catchy slangs such as “Snappin’ necks and cashin’ checks”, crossed out Juggalo long-sleeves, and Lebron James jersies. Bad-ass right?

That said, the sheer well composed nature of some of the ambient melodic riffs could have these guys hire themselves out to Restaurants to play groovy jazz music and excel at it. I’m convinced of that.  That said, this is probably some of the best ambient riffage I’ve heard in the scene. Misery Signals and FFTD might have nothing on these guys provided Sworn In keeps up this kind of writing.  Yea, I’m still quite surprised by that.

Don’t worry or be thrown off though, the heaviness is definitely there. Plenty of two-stepping bro-core riffs abound pleasing even the most picky scenester or bad-ass hardcore kid, your choice.  Breakdowns? Yea, they got those. Some fast ABR/TGIish feeling ones, some of the Oceano/TAS slow-paced breakdowns.  There is a chaotic feel to this as well, which isn’t actually thrown off by the synth, which really fits in well and give the EP a great catchy feel to it.  I’ll point out again, I’m really shocked by this.  The original stuff I heard by Buried By The Ocean never really stood out to me, but this EP is as if they somehow improved 100-fold.

 My personal favorite is “Welcome To The NHK” which bathes the listener with over six minutes of beat-down riffs, a catchy heavy screaming chorus consisting of the very legible, “Take, take It all from me, I’ve given so much, when you will you see?”   Now I’m not looking for anything remotely resembling lyrical substance in our scene considering 95% of the songs are all about someone’s relationship, how it’s broken, and how they hate them/love them, ect. This EP isn’t really an exception, but the music makes up for it. Besides who really thinks about the lyrics when they are throwing down and sending the 12 year olds nearby flying?

My second closest favorite was ex, a song completely devoted to you guessed it; how much said ex sucked, horrible, ect. All that good stuff. Overlooking that, this song has some of the best ambient melodic riffs I’ve heard from any local band around here, or for most bands around for that matter.  Specifically I was enraptured by some of the piano/snyth work in the song and was even further surprised by a well developed solo that resisted the urge to wreck itself with plenty of shredding so that the metal kids could headbang to it and twaddle their fingers in idolized awe. Remember, I hate solos.

If you haven’t download their five song EP. They’ve provided it free via mediafire, which makes me quite happy so I don’t have to hide my illegal piracy ninja skills from Josh Woods who will troll me to the end of eternity if he catches a breath of my devious and decrepit activities.

Anyway, check this out. I’ve been recently looking for a local band to stand out from the crowded and rather disappointing metal/hardcore Lake County scene and these guys just might be it.

An Acoustic Night at Swing State

 Most people might not know it, but Lake County does have more then just a hip hop scene. A grow number of acoustic acts are either coming through or forming in the area and Friday night is an example of this up and coming scene. (Possibly revise?)

At a dimly lit and buzzing Swing State on Friday night, Everything Between. They are an the aspiring acoustic band whose members consist of duo Cat the singer, and Elliot the guitarist, who hail from Mundelein highschool. Their opening acoustic act kicked off the start of the night’s live music with their first ever show.

Initial impressions are that Everything Between are a band best enjoyed after a breakup. One can listen to them and imagine watching a TV episode where a couple have just had a breakup and one of them is walking alone on a street. Their songs feel somewhat depressing, but nevertheless are reasonably well composed.

I recommend the ultimate listening situation for them to be sometime during the winter, next to a fireplace, and sitting in a comfy chair staring at the wall wondering why your life sucks. (too harsh?)

Don’t get me wrong though, they have talent for their age, as well as potential. Cat is by no means Taylor Swift, but she does have a wonderful voice though that has a “sweet” kind of “aww” feel to it  Her voice has potential to be one of a successful American Idol contestant, although I would recommend singing lessons as they would help her improve her lack of ability to hit high notes.  I am very impressed with her voice considering she hasn’t had any voice lessons.

Their best song was, and not surprisingly fan favorite, is “Yesterday’s Impression.”  Don’t pay attention to their song titles as they usually have nothing to do with the song. All of their songs are about relationships, something that shouldn’t surprise anyone considering the writers are in high school.

This is definitely a band which is worth hearing though, and I stress their live performance which sounds much better then any of their recordings which dont do Cat’s voice justice.   (3/5)


Raine Richards & Mark Mandeville

They are both independent folk artists who have each released their own solo records and are touring together. For the show they shared the stage and did sing together for certain songs. (Some songs were sung by only one of them.)

My initial impression is that these two are a hidden gem. I’ve never heard of either of them before, but I’m glad I did now. They are signed to a record label, but probably one most of us haven’t heard of called nobodysfavoriterecords,  Both their voices have a folk and country feel to it, but in harmony they have a sound which would put most folk acts to shame, and I completely mean that.  Mark’s voice in particular astounding. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was.

 Both of these folks are older musicians, and their songs lyrics cover a wide variety of all things in life. Their live sound was incredible. They sounded like something off a perfected, mixed, and edited soundtrack.

I’ve never been this impressed with an act in the indie/folk/country genre that has performed at Swing State. This is hand’s down the best non metal act that I have ever seen at Swing State, as well as the best Folk act I’ve ever seen anywhere. You could have taken their live sound tonight and stuck it on a soundtrack without any editing whatsoever. They were that incredible. 

Their act which was well time out included a banjo, flute, harmonica, and acoustic guitars. There were no messups of anytime, and Rainne’s voice had an impressive range that at no time sounded off key, and most of all, her voice was something you could easily just stick in any genre. It had a unique, yet excellent sound of its own that was pleasurable to listen to.

Simply put, this may be one of the best acts that Swing State has seen all year. Check out each of their albums and listen to ’em while relaxing next to a fire. They will put you at ease and will improve the mood and atmosphere of your day.

(If your dying for dual vocal songs, these guys will not disappoint.)  (5/5)

A summer worth of Insane Concerts

This summer I saw the Cool Tour, Thrash And Burn, Warped Tour, plus several local tours and shows throughout the Chicago-land and Milwaukee areas.

I saw 3 shows at the Rave, one at Mad Maggies, a whole day at Warped Tour in Milwaukee, and several local shows at Swing State and The Oasis.

I’ll tell you all about the bands I saw and what I thought of them.

Bands that I saw include:

The Cool Tour:

-Headliners

* As I Lay Dying
* Underoath

– Bless The Fall
– Between The Buried And Me
– The Acacia Strain
– Architects
– War Of Ages

Thrash and Burn Tour:

-Headliners

* Asking Alexandria
* Born of Osiris

Support Acts

* Kittie
* Stick To Your Guns
* Impending Doom
* Through The Eyes of the Dead (first half)
* Greeley Estates
* Periphery
* Motionless in White
* Chelsea Grin

Vans Warped Tour 2010

– Confide
– In Fear and Faith
– Parkway Drive
– The Word Alive
– Emmure
– Attack Attack
– Pierce The Veil
– Hey Monday (first 3 songs of the set)
– Bring Me The Horizon (last couple songs of the set)
– Reel Big Fish
– Sum 41 (first 3 songs of the set)

Mad Maggies:

– August Burns Red
– Mychildren Mybride
– Elysion Fields
– Lookout! Giants

Will update later with all the information and performance of the bands…

Miss May I, August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada – July 2, 1010

It was somewhat of a hot day at Summerfest in Milwaukee on Friday July second. The bands however helped make up for the hot weather of the day. The CoolTV Rock stage where the bands played was right next to the entrance gate of Summerfest allowing the group I was with to get to the stage right away and hear the music. This would be the best show that I have ever been to in terms of atmosphere, the crowd, stage performance, and the quality of the music that the bands would produce.

Miss May I

– Around 5PM, Miss May I played. Mixed among the crowd were over a thousand high school and college age students, along with many onlookers curious as to what the buzz was about.

– The stage was surrounded by multiple storied bleachers on both sides as well as bleachers in the middle. This of course made moshing quite hard because of the room there was to work with, but those in attendance still found a way. They turned the whole entrance passage way into a 100 ft long moshpit, as well as the small section on the right side of the stage into one as well.

– Their vocalist didnt have his mike turned up loud enough, but he put on a good stage performance and his screams were still right on the mark.

– Miss May I put on a good show, but they were quite sloppy it seemed as they messed up on a quite a few songs. (The drummer missed several times and their singer didnt have his mike up loud enough.) Miss May I however is well worth seeing live. You will be well satisfified when you hear them.

August Burns Red

– Around 7:30 PM, the CoolTV Rock Stage started to pack in anticipation for August Burns Red who was playing at 8PM. A few minutes before August Burns Red started, there were over 3 thousand people in the bleachers and in the sections between them. August Burns Red opened up with “Backburner” off their album, Messengers.

– Quite a few curious onlookers wandered between the bleachers wondering what the excitement was about. Unfortunately for some of them, especially some of the older folks, they were standing right where the 15 ft wide by 200 ft long moshpit would open up. As soon as the first breakdown from Backburner hit, the crowd in the passageway between the bleachers went nuts and the moshpit opened up.

The bleachers I was in started to shake as people started jumping and moving. A few security guards tried to get into the moshpit and break it up, but immediately withdrew after one of them took a few hits to the face from two-steppers who went into them. The pit was total chaos. In fact one African American Gentlemen tried to stand in the middle trying to prevent the pit as well, but was crashed into and subsequently ran for his life out of the area. A voice in the background could be heard saying, “This is isn’t a Ludacris concert.

– August Burns Red was flawless. Every instrument could be heard well, and even my personal pet peeve, a loud, noise deafening double base, was satisfied. They sounded so good that I felt like I was listening to the album, except there were three thousand people around me going nuts.

– They were probably the best band of the night. Definitely worth seeing. Anywhere. If you can see them, go. Even a 6 hour trip to see them would be worth it. They are that good live!

-(I actually had the privileged of meeting their guitarist, Brent, while me and a few friends were in a line for food. He was incredibly nice.)

The Devil Wears Prada

Around 10 PM, The Devil Wears Prada started. Around the time they went on, the temperature in the air was quite hot, even though it was around 10 PM at night.

– They played over an hour long set and they kicked off the set with “Danger: Wildman” As soon as Mike, the lead singer of TDWP, screamed out the lyrics “I know a ghost… ” , the crowd went nuts and the moshpit kicked off again.

– The moshpit for TDWP was a bit more brutal then for August Burns Red. I saw a very hot girl go into the pit and get hit in the face by a hardcore dancer. She fell back and almost look like she had fainted. A few of us picked her up and after about 10 seconds, she went right back in. Another fellow had to be carried out of the pit as he seemed unresponsive. Security put one guy in a headlock, but they had to back off as they were being surrounded by angry hardcore dancers who looked as if the were about to attack the security guards there.

– After TDWP’s set, I saw a guy come out with blood streaming down his face, a guy being shouldered up by his two friends with some sort of broken foot, and another guy with a bleeding back. The sight of ambulances outside wasnt exactly a comforting thought after the thrill that I had just gotten from TDWP set.

– If you go to a larger venue where either August Burns Red or TDWP plays, make sure you dont wear glasses or have fragile items with you if your anywhere near where the moshpit takes place. At some venues the whole crowd ends up moshing and the area around the stage turns into one large pit.

-TDWP played their new song, Outnumbered, which is probably one of their heavier songs. Their set was flawless. (They had the kick drum mike jacked.) Simply put their set was incredible. The feeling it gave you as well as the atmosphere of the crowd around made their set one you won’t forget.

– The atmosphere in the crowd really made a difference compared to other concerts Ive been to. The flashing lights, large screen TV on the stage which showed the band, and the music echoing out from all around the stage gave the concert an “epic” feel. Most of the crowd sang along with Jeremy’s vocals, especially when TWDP played “Louder than Thunder”

– If you ever get a chance to see TDWP live, take it. If you have to call in sick to work, do it. One of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.