Friday, September 29, 2006

Five for Fighting - Earnest Piano Man

The misleadingly named Five for Fighting is set to hit the road this fall, fresh on the heels
of the release of their studio album ‘Two Lights’.  Their wistful, piano-driven pop-songs
hark an image of working-class Americans quietly pondering the state and future of their

The Band
Much like Chris Carraba is Dashboard Confessional, John Ondrasik is Five for Fighting.
He is chief singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and band member. A native-Californian,
Ondrasik studied music with his piano-teacher mother and took opera vocal lessons as a
youngster.  In melding these experiences, he sprung forth with soft and lilting melodious
tunes marked by his unmistakable falsetto.

The Songs
Most of Five for Fighting’s songs deal with that of the human condition: life, love, family
and despair. It was out of the despair of a nation, in the wake of 9/11, that Ondrasik burst
onto the public consciousness when he performed his twinkling piano ballad ‘Superman
(It’s Not That Easy)’ at the Concert for New York City. As he has become a more
outspoken opponent of the war with Iraq, Ondrasik has woven political themes into his
songs, most noticeably on the latest release ‘Two Lights.'

Five Minute Major
The name of the band is not a declaration of gang warfare but rather an indication of
Ondrasik’s love for hockey. When you get penalized for fighting in hockey you must go sit
in a box for five minutes, hurting your team’s chances in the process, thus: Five for

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Paul Stanley - Starchild Goes Solo

A full 28 years have elapsed since his last solo album, but Paul Stanley hasn’t exactly
been resting on his laurels. Stanley has been plenty busy as frontman of hard schlock
rockers Kiss from the full-on hard rocking makeup era of theatrics in the 70’s to the
stripped down makeup-free days of the 80’s.  Still going strong at age 54, Stanley is set to
hit the road in support of his second solo effort ‘Live To Win’.

The Man
Born and raised in New York City, Stanley hooked up with fellow New Yorker and
music fan Gene Simmons in the early 70’s.  Stanley and Simmons shared songwriting
duties and were largely responsible for the band’s look and sound. It wasn’t long after
that their grease-painted faces and arena shaking anthems were resonating with the youth
of America and around the world.  The boys from Kiss won’t be joining him on this road
trip however, the house band that appeared on the reality show Rock Star: Supernova will
serve as Stanley’s backing band on the tour.

The Songs
As Stanley either wrote or co-wrote many of biggest hits in the KISS catalog, expect a
heavy dose of ‘Detroit Rock City’ ‘I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night’ and ‘Beth’ on the
set list.  The new material could be described as Kiss-lite.  You still hear those distinctive
Stanley vocals, but he isn’t shouting it out loud anymore.  Granted the man is entering
middle-age so the angst and tales of partying every day should’ve subsided by now

Still Hip
A relentless touring schedule and constantly running from groupies can apparently take
quite a toll on the body. After two unsuccessful hip replacement surgeries, Stanley is set
to undergo a third after the fall tour.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

OK GO - Video Helped the Radio Stars

While their radio-friendly power pop bent on resurrecting the likes of Cheap Trick, The Pixies and The Cars don’t necessarily set them apart from their similarly influenced peers, these Chicago rockers have the market cornered on DIY quirky videos. The success of the creative clips for ‘A Million Ways’ and ‘Here We Go Again’ (the treadmill dance) have become bonafide viral sensations on the web. With their reputation as a dynamite live act and the blogosphere tracking their every move, Ok Go’s upcoming tour is fast becoming the must-see show of the fall season.

‘Oh’ Yes
Despite the modest success of modern rock radio hit ‘Get Over It’ and major label marketing dollars behind it, Ok Go’s 2002 self-titled debut release failed to generate much buzz. Their sophomore effort ‘Oh No’, is chock-full of the same infectious pop hooks and sing-along choruses as the first. Suspecting a lack of label support for the new record, the band took it upon themselves to market their product, taking to the streets and more importantly to the web to get the word out. Their low-budget videos spread like the plague on sites like myspace  and youtube, giving the band international exposure.

Turning buzz into bucks
With the power of the internet behind them, the band was invited to perform ‘Here We Go Again’ with treadmills in tow on The MTV Video Music Awards on August 31st. Since that performance, digital downloads and album sales have increased five-fold.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Congress of Corruption Tour - Industrial Metal Smorgasbord

On the eve of midterm elections in this great country of ours, a different kind of Congress
is set to convene: a Congress of Corruption.  Engineered by Cement Shoes Records label
head Dan Catallo, the tour promises to put the sizzle and the spectacle back in the rock
show. With ticket prices set at $10 for the duration of the six-week cross-country tour,
metalheads will be getting plenty of headbanging for their buck.

The Bands
Labelmates on the Cement Shoes Records imprint, Godhead, Il Nino, and Ra comprise
the lineup for the Congress of Corruption tour.  The Washington D.C. based industrial
goth outfit Godhead burst onto the scene in 2000 when Marilyn Manson caught their live
act and was the first band to be signed to his Posthuman label. East Rutherford, New
Jersey natives Ra, come with a somewhat different outlook. They still bring a bleak
industrial metal approach, albeit sprinkled with a more melodic sound, reminiscent of nu-
metallers Staind.  Hardest of the bunch may be Il Nino, also from New Jersey.  Billed as
'heavy and melodic as possible with a Latin twist’, this group of headbangers combine
the speed and fury of thrash with the thunderous crunch of death metal.  Supporting on
the tour are newcomers The Dreaming featuring Chris Hall, founder of Stabbing

Corporate Synergy
Why tour individually to support upcoming releases when you can promote three records
on one tour?  Godhead, Ra and Il Nino all have albums set to be released in the next few
months on Cement Shoes Records.