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Today I am reviewing songs sent my way by Brandon Schott. Brandon was kind enough to let me interview him for Some Kind Of Muffin before. From that interview you would know that Schott has battled cancer and is currently in remission so the two charities discussed here hit close to home for him.  First up are two songs for the Songs For Aidan project. You can find out more at http://www.live-the-proof.com/songs-for-aidan.html, but let me share some selected quotes.

Aidan’s particular type of cancer requires him to spend a lot of time in the hospital. He has to be admitted to Children’s hospital every two weeks to receive his chemotherapy. He has two day admissions which aren’t that bad and five day admissions which are difficult for him. Near the end of those five day stays, he gets pretty homesick and just generally sad.

We had an idea for a project that might lift his spirits. We’ve created a YouTube channel called “Songs For Aidan” and I was hoping that we could get musicians / artists from all over to offer a little personal word or two of encouragement and play a song for him. When he’s stuck in the hospital and feeling down, we can show him the videos so he can see just how many people are pulling for him and really there’s nothing cooler than having someone play and sing a song just for you.

The Youtube channel can be found here.

To lend additional support Brandon Schott and Jim Boggia are offering two songs as part of Songs For Aidan. They are available as a CD or digital download and can both be found at the Live The Proof Link above. Jim Boggia’s song “Live The Proof” is a great acoustic offering. The song has minimal production and deceptively simple instrumentation. There are small bits of percussion and keyboard that add a lot, but are kept low in the mix. Boggia’s voice is immediate and personable. The lyrics are all about action and reaction and the choices we make based on our circumstances and are intelligently written and fit with Songs For Aidan beautifully. Brandon Schott’s “Turning Toward The Sun” is similarly themed; it discusses chance and how we react. It is a much more atmospheric number. I would use the term “expansive.” It stretches out and envelopes you. Again, there is minimal instrumentation and it is used to great effect.

Schott’s other release “You Take My Breath Away” is also a double single and it benefits The Benjamin Center in Santa Monica, CA. To learn more about what went into this project I recommend checking out the Popdose interview with him which also has additional info on how the Songs For Aidan project happened. The song “You Take My Breath Away” features piano and pedal steel guitar played by Portland’s own Tucker Jackson. It is a beautiful song full of imagery  and emotion. Listening to the lyrics I was transported to a “sweet sacred place” and could see everything unfold before me. The second song, “Now”, is wonderfully layered vocal harmonies without lyrics, though I am sure I hear the word “now” right around the :35 mark.

All of the songs are well done. They sound great and are not throw aways for charity; they are well-crafted pieces and I highly recommend listening to them and then BUYING them. All of the proceeds go to great causes. I reposting the pertinent links below as well to make sure it is easy for you to find. Please, please, please give a listen and consider helping out.

http://www.live-the-proof.com/songs-for-aidan.html

http://goldenstatemusic.bandcamp.com/album/you-take-my-breath-away

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Today I am proud to bring you a review of the Killswitch Engage concert I attended at the Hawthorne Theater. I am really excited because this is our first guest review! Dylan DePriest kindly asked me along to the show and even more kindly agreed to write up the review! Oh, and when he talks about “the Reverend” that’s me and here’s why (<–follow link).


Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage concert review
28 November 2012
Portland, OR
It was a typical cold Wednesday night in Portland. For many it was the milestone marking the middle of the work week, but for metalheads it was the night that Acaro, Shadows Fall, and Killswitch Engage were performing in our great city. This show’s placement in the middle of the work week refined the crowd from people finding something to do on their day off to people who would risk their sleep schedules to see three amazing bands.
I’ve always found that waiting in line outside of the venue is a great start to a show because you get to hear what people say about the bands. The Reverend and I stood right next to someone who was less than affectionate for Shadows Fall; we noted this because her choice to use derogatory terms in her description of the band rather than her choosing to use a more logical and fact-based argument that other people would use. (editor’s note: she called Brian Fair, Shadows Fall’s lead singer “gay” and she didn’t mean he was homosexual, so clearly she is font of taste and discernment, or you know someone who needs to be made aware that is not cool) This conversation continued until we had finally passed Hawthorne Theatre’s security.
Acaro were the opening act for the night and they sounded great and performed great as well. Unfortunately the crowd was pretty weak at this point in the show because that the place wasn’t full and people weren’t warmed up yet. Two guys along with the Reverend and I were the only ones moshing which was fun, but it wasn’t super intense in terms of overall crowd intensity. Acaro’s set was great in terms of performance, but they only played about half an hour.
By the time Shadows Fall came on, the crowd had filled in significantly which brought along the 300 lb. moshers, which pretty much ruled my participation out. Shadows Fall were amazing performers, excelling significantly in their manipulation of the stage lighting and their ability to excite the crowd. Also, Brian Fair’s dreads were a great addition in terms of the visual aspect of the set. The crowd was great as well, people had started to stagedive and be more involved in the metal experience. (editor’s note: DD did plenty of stagediving his own self)
After two great acts, Killswitch Engage performed and did a damn good job of it too. Killswitch Engage started with some Howard Jones-era songs, which was really quite great to experience since Jesse Leach is the band’s vocalist again. The band then performed their entire “Alive or Just Breathing” record. I’ve listened to that record many times from start to finish and it never gets old, so having the live experience was absolutely amazing and, based upon the way the crowd acted, they felt largely the same too. After performing the entire record, Killswitch ended with two more Howard Jones-era songs, ultimately bringing their set to around two hours in length.
This concert was one of the greatest shows I have ever been to. After the opening, the crowd was intense, responsive, and fully engaged in the metal experience. While the show was at a small venue, which is a complaint from many people but not from me, the show was amazing and the music was loud. All three of these bands were great performers and even though I wasn’t completely familiar with all of the songs by the first two bands, they made an environment that was great for new fans and diehards alike. This will be a show that I will remember for many years to come.


I can’t thank Dylan enough for inviting me along and for writing this review.

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As you know I am a big fan of Uniform Victor and Mittens. They will be playing a show together and I really, really, REALLY wish I could make it. If you are in San Diego or near it you should go. PLEASE! And take pictures and videos and post them here. Or write up your own review/article and send it in to Some Kind Of Muffin. Actually let’s make an offer. If you go to the show and do take pics and do a write-up and submit it to SKOM, then the person who writes the published article gets a download of some kind of music!

The Tin Can Nov 23rd, 2012 9pm $5

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(Members of Uniform Victor and Mittens are NOT excluded from this offer)

 

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Last night I got to see Ion Storm‘s inaugural show! They were amazing from the first song to the last. For those unaware I interviewed  them here. Go get acquainted with them and then come right back. It’s OK. I’ll wait.

Everything I’ve heard from them so far has impressed me, but those were only recordings. One really must see them live to get the full impact. First, amazing guitar tone and a pretty tight outfit. I know these guys practice up to 12 hours at a go and it shows. Their current bass player is a recent addition and it showed a bit, but overall he brought the low end. Drummer Tim was solid, fast, and interesting. I thought there was a moment when he was losing the beat, but it was just a part of a tempo change that was written into the song. Grady and Chris had some great harmonized riffage going on that seemed to focus around 4ths and it sounded great. My main complaint was the vocal levels. This show was at the Red Room and their vocals always seem low, but Grady represented growl well.

Oh, did I mention they have a Minotaur? His name is Drew. Look at him.

Do you have a Minotaur? No, you do not. I played bullfighter with Drew for a bit. It was good times.

This band has a lot to offer and brought the heat, which leads me to the title of this post. Look up there ↑ and read it again. At most there were three people up off their butts rocking out, including me and Drew. I wish that this was the exception rather than the rule. I know people want to blame smart phones etc, but it’s not that. In my estimation it’s our self reflective, self conscious society. To put it another way: we are afraid of having fun and looking like fools(Well, not me clearly. I played bullfighter with a Minotaur). It needs to stop now. Do it for yourself. Get up!! Dance! Bang your head!! Visibly enjoy yourself!!!

But also do it for that band up there on the stage or the one on the floor where the pool tables had to be moved to make room. They don’t spend 12 hours at a go writing and rehearsing so you can sit there drinking your PBR and golf clapping after every song. And I can guarantee you they didn’t do it for the money, because bands rarely get paid much if anything just starting out. This is a two way street. They are there for you and you need to be there for them.

Some pics from the show:

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