After releasing their sophomore album, Olympia, in the summer of 2014, Austra are back with an EP called Habitat. The four-track solution to your summer of misery features Austra's typical breed of dark wave music--almost baroque in nature. The concise, well-thought out vocals and musical accompaniments prove that Austra is always a welcome addition, no matter how small the dose. Album cover for Habitat

The opening track, "Habitat," is a rich, dramatic song that is the most obvious single material on the EP, which is probably why Austra released a video for it that emphasizes the need to have a warm body near you at any (literal) cost. With lead singer Katie Stelmanis narrating intermittently from her vantage point as a hotel maid, the video is definitely in keeping with their distinctly ghoulish style. "Doepfer," an even more sinister song that at first, builds slowly and then often teeters in and out of a musical k-hole.

"Bass Drum Dance" is, like "Doepfer," also instrumental with an equally foreboding tone. The concluding track, "Hulluu" (not to be confused with Hulu), sees Austra at the apex of their fondness for darkly tinged synth beats--with a menacing whispered chant to match. All in all, Habitat may be signaling an altogether new direction for Austra's third album, and we love where it's going.

British favorites Arctic Monkeys have continued to promote the success of their 2013 album, AM, by releasing yet another single, "Snap Out Of It." Unrelated to the signature quote from Cher in Moonstruck, the song opens with the lyrics, "What's been happening in your world/What have you been up to?/I heard that you fell in love, or near enough/I gotta tell you the truth, I wanna grab both your shoulders and shake you baby." With the video centered around the female perspective on this sentiment, "Snap Out Of It" offers a brief homage to Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High as she exits the pool.

Intent on watching whatever it is the Arctic Monkeys are doing--though probably just Alex Turner--the female protagonist of the video attempts to make a steak (read what you will into the "piece of meat" metaphor) as she's surrounded by the audio/visual element of the band. It's not necessarily the strongest video they've come out with (what could compare to "When The Sun Goes Down" or "Fake Tales of San Francisco?), but it's certainly in keeping with their general amazingness.

On the heels of her sophomore album being released, Lana Del Rey has also revealed the video for her latest single, "Shades of Cool." The noirish style is in keeping with Del Rey's usual aesthetic, though she's taken it a bit further this time in terms of the old man creep factor.

With brief tinges of Repo Man, Jake Nava (who has directed videos for Beyonce, Britney Spears and, most importantly, Lindsay Lohan) takes the video for "Ride" up a notch by showing us a semi-vulnerable Lana Del Rey as she happily seduces an older man with a chic house in Beverly Hills. Is it love? Probably not. Just another distraction from the standard Del Rey-ian misery.

the matches band Back in 2009, the tremendously talented Bay Area pop/rock/indie band the Matches called it quits.

As I had grown up with their music, attending gigs nearly weekly during my high school years as they played to packed youth centers and the now-defunct recording space/venue iMusicast on Telegraph Avenue, their dissolution was a big deal.

Their farewell show at the Fillmore was spectacular - and prompted me to write this warm remembrance piece.

For the past month or so, the band suddenly became active on social media again - their Facebook and Twitter accounts began posting nostalgic 'back in the day' pictures. Thoughts of a reunion sprang to life, even though singer/guitarist Shawn Harris is busy now with Fortress Social Club and guitarist Jon Devoto is immersed in the music production world.

HOWEVER - as it turned out, those suspicions were confirmed when the band announced a special ONE NIGHT ONLY gig at Slim's in San Francisco. The show went on sale today and sold out almost immediately, as it's one of the more intimate venues in the city.

The show will be a tenth anniversary celebration of their debut album E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals, which was re-released on Epitaph Records in 2004 after being self-released the year before.

Though this special Slim's gig is billed as 'one night and one night only', you never know - the crazy demand for tickets to this show could always prompt them to add another gig somewhere...only time will tell.

One thing's for certain, though: it's GREAT to have the Matches back.

--Cheese Sandwich

AuthorCheese Sandwich
CategoriesMusic News

If you need help planning a night out, Ohio has you covered! Toy Bombs

Check out the band's single Radio here!

The band, created in 2010,  has been releasing their indo-rock old school new sound from the beginning. Their dynamic live show has always been known for its explosive (pun slightly intended) energy. With new links to their fanbase through social networking, they have been bringing people closer to their shows and making everyone involved.

Toy Bombs will be performing in West Hollywood, CA at The Viper Room on May 17th with Black Hi-Lighter and Washing Machines

Be sure to check out their song above!

Hit up the show!



CategoriesMusic News

311 five of everything video 311 surprised fans on Wednesday with the premiere of a music video for their new single, Five of Everything.

The song, which returns to the band's late 1990s/early 2000s sound with its hard-charging, riff-heavy approach, will be included in the band's new album, Stereolithic, which will be released on March 11 (as we told you before).

Anyway, here's the video - which matches the studio recording to the band performing the song in their private studio:

There's still time to pre-order Stereolithic at 311's Pledge Music page, if you so choose - and visit the band's website for more information.

--Cheese Sandwich

AuthorCheese Sandwich
CategoriesMusic News

311 band 2014 Omaha, Nebraska's own 311 have returned with a new single called Five of Everything. KROQ's Stryker premiered the song on Monday afternoon, and the tune made its way online later in the day.

It's from 311's upcoming album Stereolithic, their eleventh overall and first since 2011's Universal Pulse. The record will be released by the band on their own label, 311 Records, and will be out on 3/11 - to coincide with their big 311 Day concert/party in New Orleans (natch). Their 2010 event was great fun - read up on that here.

Take a listen to the song below:

Straight talk: Five of Everything might be one of the better 311 singles in recent years, especially when pared up against Sunset in July, Hey You and Don't Tread on Me (the lead singles for their past three albums). From Tim Mahoney's Soundsystem/From Chaos-tuned guitar riffs (which sound as crunchy as ever) to the song's bridge (a standout moment), the song presents a lot of promise for Stereolithic, which will feature 14 other new songs.

Additionally, the band worked with producer/sound engineer Scotch Ralston this time around. Ralston was on-hand to produce 1997's Transistor and 1999's Soundsystem, arguably two of the band's most beloved albums (at least as far as the fans are concerned).

311 stereolithic artThat also lends itself to some serious anticipation that Stereolithic might end up being one of their strongest outings of the past decade or so.

We'll see in a month!

Stereolithic track listing:

1.) Ebb and Flow 2.) Five of Everything 3.) Showdown 4.) Revelation of the Year 5.) Sand Dollars 6.) Boom Shanka 7.) Make it Rough 8.) The Great Divide 9.) Friday Afternoon 10.) Simple Truth 11.) First Dimension 12.) Made in the Shade 13.) Existential Hero 14.) The Call 15.) Tranquility

In the meantime, fans can pre-order the album from 311's new Pledge Music campaign - click here to pre-order your copy in a variety of formats and be rewarded with a free mp3 download of Five of Everything, behind-the-scenes videos, photos, and more.


-Cheese Sandwich 

AuthorCheese Sandwich
CategoriesMusic News

The last single we heard from Lily Allen was a feminist-charged anthem called "Hard Out Here." Allen received the gamut of commentary for the song and video, ranging from the positive to the accusatory (specifically, that she was racist). On her latest offering, which is still from an as of yet untitled album, it seems Allen is deliberately taking a neutral, non-incendiary stance on life in discussing the lovely escapism of imagination. Air balloon escape plan.

In a tone and musical style that reminds one of M.I.A., Allen paints us a picture of being trapped in a room she doesn't want to be in (take that to mean a doctor's office, workplace or essentially any place that isn't your own abode). Like so many disinterested in what they're doing, she admits, "When I'm bored, I kinda drift away." Mirroring the whimsy that comes with letting one's mind wander, Allen sings lyrics like, "Did I ever tell you my uncle's monkey ran away from the zoo?" that, in many respects, reminds one of the esoteric Madonna song, "Dear Jessie," in which she croons, "Pink elephants and lemonade/Dear Jessie hear the laughter running through the love parade."

Knowing full well that it's impossible to evade the responsibilities of the everyday, Allen develops a strategy to deceive reality as she urges, "Come meet me in the sky/I'll be waiting for you/And we can't hear what they say/Up in my air balloon, air balloon." Her imagination escalates to more vivid levels as the song progresses, leading her to envision Kurt Cobain and Elvis Presley in her midst with the utterance, "I don't usually drop names/But Kurt Cobain is all in my face/How the hell am I gonna tell him Elvis already took first place?"

Dream/drink your problems away.

In highlighting the value of an active daydream life, Allen also illuminates the valuelessness of an excessive working life, asserting, "I'm not sure why we work all day." Neither is anyone else making under six figures, Lily, neither is anyone else.


fortress social club band Fortress Social Club is making a move. The Los Angeles-based ensemble has released two full-length albums in 2013: Dreamin' the Life and Make Love, Not Babies.

If you haven't heard of FSC yet, chances are you will soon: they've been working steadily for months, playing local shows and garnering enough attention to open for Camp Freddy at the Roxy's big New Year's Eve blowout party tonight.

FSC is the latest project headed by Shawn Harris, previously the lead vocalist/guitarist of The Matches - a band I grew up watching in the Bay Area in the early 2000s. After that band went down the 'indefinite hiatus' route with their 2009 farewell gig, Harris formed a project called Maniac before landing with FSC. In addition to Harris, the group features Jo Harris (Shawn's sister), Mykul Lee, Johnzo West, Justin Bird Andres and Rob Humphreys - meaning that the band features the combined forces of musicians previously involved with Miley Cyrus, Oh No Not Stereo, the Matches, Phillip Sayce and the Bellrays.

Their hard work has turned enough heads to have their new music video premiered by Rolling Stone (that's still a pretty big deal). The clip, for a song called I'm Not a Praying Man, But... captures the essence of FSC: lighthearted, super-melodic fun delivered by some passionate musicians.

Here's another music video, this one for Dream Girls:

If you're in the Los Angeles area, they'll be playing on January 16 at the Troubadour - follow their Facebook page to stay in-tune with future activities.

And if you're a Spotify user, take a listen to Make Love, Not Babies below:

--- Cheese Sandwich

IMG_6926 This past Wednesday, it was an all-out 1990s revival when Third Eye Blind took the stage at the House of Blues Sunset Strip.

Through the years, I've grown more and more attached to the music I grew up with (as is probably the case with most people as we careen toward 30). That's especially true regarding Third Eye Blind. The band's self-titled 1997 album is STILL one of my absolute favorites, despite it being nearly 20 years old (sigh).

Because of that, I enjoy their live shows immensely. Even though Stephan Jenkins and Brad Hargreaves (drums) are now the only original members still around (everybody knows about the band's lengthy history of turnover and lineup changes), it hardly matters. They don't tour often, but when they do you can bet you're getting a top-notch show delivered by some excellent musicians. For example, the band's new keyboard/piano player - who's just 24! - adds a depth to the live show that they didn't have in the past. Fun fact: he was EIGHT YEARS OLD when Semi-Charmed Life was everywhere. Wild.


As for the gig - it was absolutely packed, probably one of the most highly-attended HOB Sunset shows I've ever seen. When the lights went off around 9:10 p.m., anticipation swelled...and while the band didn't utilize the light-up board spelling out T-H-I-R-D-E-Y-E-B-L-I-N-D behind them (I assume due to space issues), its absence didn't affect the show aesthetically.

For the first 15 minutes or so of the set, Jenkins, clad in a hoodie that covered his head, sang using a mic that dropped down from up above. He didn't greet the crowd until maybe ten minutes later, preferring instead to let the music do the talking for him.

Set-list wise, fans couldn't have asked for much more.

After teasing both Don't Believe a Word and The Red Summer Sun, they opened the show with Losing a Whole Year, sending everyone into a frenzy.

Once he removed the hood and began addressing the audience, Jenkins really loosened up. He told stories, reflected on what it meant to have so many people pack the venue for the band in 2013, and even poked fun at himself a bit.

When talking about how the band was supposed to have new music out in time for this tour, he noted that "in typical Stephan fashion I fucked that all up!", alluding to the infamous between-album delays that have characterized the band for the past 13 years or so.

As for the new songs, they were pretty interesting. One of them, Get Me Out of Here, was particularly promising:

Water Landing, from 2009's Ursa Major, was also another highlight, with Jenkins taking time to say that it's one of his favorite songs to play every night.

As the set wore on, the band played a few of the classic hits - Jumper was met with an absolutely deafening roar of approval, with fans singing the whole song very loudly:

Crystal Baller, from 2003's underrated Out of the Vein, was also a treat:

Though the band opted not to play How's It Gonna Be, they did elect to run through Never Let You Go:

And, naturally, fan favorites Slow Motion and Motorcycle Drive By, all building to an encore/finale of Narcolepsy (a personal favorite), Semi-Charmed Life and God of Wine.

Here's the full set list:


One of Jenkins' speeches was about how he and his band mates feel pretty great right now about everything. He said they plan to head back to the studio to finish a new record after the holidays.

Hopefully, those sessions go well and the band releases new music in early 2014 - because they sounded as strong as ever at the House of Blues, and it'd be great to see them come back sooner rather than later.


--Cheese Sandwich


Photos borrowed via CrowdAlbum, click here to view more

For anyone who was starting to get tired of playing “Summertime Sadness” on repeat well beyond the appropriate season, fear not. Lana Del Rey has at last confirmed the release of a sophomore album, to be titled Ultra-Violence (an A Clockwork Orange term). What that might indicate for the musical content is, at this point, arbitrary. The twenty-seven minute film, Tropico, is presumably a precursor to some of the motifs we can expect on the forthcoming record—though it’s also something of a cap on the era of Born to Die and Paradise. Del Rey herself said as much to her legion of acolytes at the Arclight premiere (it only makes sense that the piece would debut in Los Angeles). Promotional poster for Tropico

And, speaking of Los Angeles, it plays heavily into the backdrop of Tropico, serving as a metaphor for both heaven and hell. Expounding on the themes presented in “Body Electric,” “Gods and Monsters” and “Bel Air” (all of which appeared on Born to Die—The Paradise Edition), the short film is divided into four segments: Garden of Eden, Strip Club, Robbery and Farewell. Del Rey’s predilection for the cinematic has always been apparent in her videos, particularly “Ride,” in which she plays a runaway with a fondness for old men/bikers and turning the occasional trick. With Tropico, Del Rey takes her gift for the dramatic and theatrical to new heights in probing some of the most time-honored subject matters in literature and film: Sin and redemption.

Mother Mary

Opening in the Garden of Eden—or at least LDR’s version of it—we are introduced to all the characters mentioned in “Body Electric”: Elvis, Marilyn and Jesus (with John Wayne thrown in for good measure). This amalgam of pop culture icons is ironically placed in the context of an Eden: For this is all we know of an Eden in the twenty-first century: Celebrity. Still, LDR can’t resist taking a bite of the forbidden fruit, prompting her lover (played by Shaun Ross—yeah, he’s a black albino) to follow her lead. It really disappoints both Marilyn and Elvis.

As she falls from grace and into the life of a stripper, her male counterpart ends up as a thief. They both serve as a foil to one another’s depravity, even though Shaun assures, “You know it’s not going to be like this forever, right?” Lana, in her new chola/stripper persona nods and says, “I know.” It is then that the film transitions to a bachelor party (even though there’s probably no engagement to speak of) in which Lana is one of the strippers. Shaun and his band of thieves storm the house to rob every last one of the rich men there.

Another promo for Tropico

Anthony Mandler, who Del Rey previously entrusted to direct “Ride,” then cuts to a visually sweeping scene of Downtown L.A, from a vista point overlooking where Shaun, Lana and their cohorts shoot guns and revel in their debauched accomplishment. Del Rey showcases her knowledgeable side as she recites the lines from Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” for the narration over this segment of the film.

Ultimately, as with most inherently good people who briefly give in to their bad side (you know, like Patty Hearst), Shaun and Lana veer back toward a more redemptive path. This leads to the conclusion of the film, in which “Bel Air” plays as the final song. For those who can’t see the value in or point of Tropico, I ask: When was the last time a singer provoked your thought this much? And no, Miley Cyrus does not count.



I spoke with David Stükenberg via phone and I was happy to hear about his newly released album Novella. With an Appalachian-rock feel the album grasps your attention and refuses to let go. When I asked him about the story that is clear throughout the album, he told me that it was based on stories and songs that he wrote with his sister about their time growing up in the southern midwest. He told me a heartbreaking story of his dog's death and how he saw it as a child. Southern flair and sad stories about lost dogs though does not mean it is a twang inspired country album. Appalachian Rock is exactly what he achieved with the feel of early Fleetwood Mac. Dark undertones with beautiful guitar driven beats make up the aptly named Novella (Available today! Nov 12, 2013)

As the tale of Novella tells, Stükenberg has moved and explored the US and we talked about his new home in Austin, TX. He told me, and I tend to agree that it is becoming a bit of a Los Angeles. The music, the night life, and the new people flocking to it have made it a great place for new artists and musicians. I told him that my only experienc of Austin has been SXSW but he insisted that I must visit the city even without the excitement of the festival.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 9.46.05 PM

With such a raw and story driven album, I am excited to see him play live and I am hoping for tour dates to be announced soon. I will be sure to keep you posted on any updates. For now, I believe he has been playing in his home Austin so if you are lucky enough to be in that lovely city, check him out!

For more information on any upcoming events and where to find more music (please enjoy the video above!) follow the links below.

As always,

Cheers! and See you at the show!


CategoriesMusic News

sainthood reps headswell Earlier this year, Run For Cover Records released an album called Jar by a band named Daylight.

I still consider Jar one of this year's strongest albums, at least in terms of the ones I've listened to extensively. Its blend of raw, 1990s-fueled angst and heavy riffs was undeniable.

This week, No Sleep Records released Headswell, the latest offering from the Long Island-based band Sainthood Reps. I paid attention to their 2011 debut Monoculture, grabbed again by its familiar-yet-new blend of aggressive down-tuned rock (that again reminded me of the 1990s music I hold in such high regard).

As good as Monoculture was, Headswell is even better. The guitars are crunchier, Francesco Montesanto's lead vocals are more effective, and everything just works together even better than it did before. The band's identity stems from that familiar alternative/rock sound, but tosses in some post-rock and atmospheric touches to really get things going.

Here's Desert Song:

I'm having a hard time putting this all into words, for whatever reason - but with Headswell, Sainthood Reps have put themselves into the same category as Daylight and Balance and Composure (whose latest album The Things We Think We're Missing is also one of my top albums of the year thus far).

If you're on Spotify, you can stream all of Headswell with the neat widget below - but go buy a copy of the record from the band, they deserve your money.

--- Cheese Sandwich

AuthorCheese Sandwich
CategoriesMusic News

  Check out LA based Tic Tic Boom's first video and a bit of a preview of things to come. I first saw them live in Hollywood in 2011 and I am happy to hear that more is on the way from the Duo.

"All of what you hear and feel on It's the Heart That's a Fool comes directly from the collective Tic Tic Boom! heart. DeLay and Francisco live together above their home studio in Los Angeles and pride themselves in independently handcrafting everything from start to finish—from recordings to screen-printed merch and DIY music videos. Tired of relying on outside engineers and producers for recording, in 2010 DeLay attended the audio engineering program at the Musician's Institute in Hollywood, CA, and the band has kept it insular ever since."

"Since we are able to record our own music, we are constantly writing and constantly producing," explains Francisco. "I may write a song on the piano and bring it to Mike and we'll flesh it out together, recording and demoing it out in the process. Other times Mike will work something up in the studio and I'll write to that. This EP is a mix of both those processes. Everything on the EP was recorded, mixed and mastered at our own studio."

Right now, the band does not have a tour scheduled but we will  be sure to keep you posted.

See you at the show!


CategoriesMusic News

This weekend is fast approaching and if you don't have every minute planned out, I'll help you! Your Saturday night plans are right here for your  night out. I went on the road earlier this year with the boys of Everyday Animals. With some new music in the works and a few shows coming up, I was happy to catch up with Front man Kevin Shima. This Saturday, the band will be playing a show at Hotel Café in Hollywood and I highly recommend stopping by! For more information on the show and ticket info, click here.

Picture 14 For a refresher of our trip to SXSW in Austin, TX have a look at my photos from the shows and the road with Kevin Shima, Brian Hobart, Will Schulz, and Adam Darlin. The band is planning on heading to Austin again in 2014 for another year of South by Southwest.


The future of the band may involve some surprises down the road and some music in the works for now. "I have a lot of song snippets from the last year. I haven't been able to just sit down and finish those songs, but once I get the chance to culture them and flesh out the ideas, there's an album there somewhere."

Everyday Animals will bring their Indi Folk Rock vibe with a great LA locals line up to fill the night.

Hope to see you there!



CategoriesMusic News

It isn't everyday that you see a video full of scantily clad women--without a single man to be found in the frame. But then along comes Rihanna with her latest video for "Pour It Up," the second single from Unapologetic. Although Rihanna has been surprisingly quiet in terms of promoting her seventh studio album, "Pour It Up" is enough to suffice for quite some time--offering minimal imagery with maximum impact. As a song that's in sharp contrast to the sweetness and ballad-paced tempo of her first single, "Diamonds," "Pour It Up," takes a feminist approach to strip club life--because, really, what could be more empowering than taking one's clothes off?

With dramatic, Prince-esque cinematography, "Pour It Up" opens with a glam Rihanna wearing a blonde wig that makes her look like a combination of Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Rita Ora. Her "I don't give a fuck" attitude oozes out of every pore as bodacious and curvaceous women dance around her in various states of undress. Acting with the nonchalance of a seasoned queen, Rihanna shows what real strip club etiquette should be like as she barely regards anyone around her.

Single cover for "Pour It Up"

Eventually, of course, Rihanna shows us her own dance moves--with several prominent Chanel plugs thrown in for good measure. Revealing herself to be the grande dame of all things hoochy, Rihanna has managed to overcome a feat that no one else has seemed to acknowledge: Turn stripping into something that isn't about pleasing men, but rather, about the enjoyment a woman gets from parading her body. So, once again, thank you Rihanna, for making female sex appeal less degrading. Though I'm sure you're bound to get your fair share of open letters from Debbie Harry and Sinead O'Connor. 


AuthorSmoking Barrel