Friday, June 14, 2013

Rebirth, Changes, and Brief Overview of Upcoming Articles

A man walks onto the stage and heads towards the mic that is currently occupying the only space in the spotlight. Upon reaching the mic stand, he taps the head three times to hear the brief rapping play over the sound system. Everything is in order. The man peers out into the crowd, but cannot tell if how big the audience is due to the lighting of the venue. 'It doesn't matter if the place is packed, or if there's only one lost soul looking for something he wasn't sure he was seeking,' he thought. The man then cups both hands around the microphone, still held in place by the stand, takes a deep breath, and begins...

Hello again to those that are still here; it has been far too long. I just wanted to let you all know, quite possibly for the millionth time now, that I am re-starting this blog again. And this time, I mean it. Seriously, I feel it is time to discuss all that is good (and maybe even holy) in the rock music world, share our opinions with one another, and discover new favorite artists/tracks along the way.

I am currently in the process of drafting up several articles that I hope to have posted in the very near future. In terms of how these upcoming articles will be shaped/categorized as Nicotine & Rock is rebooted, I plan on having New Album Reviews (these will give a brief overview of the band, detailed info on each track, and an overall personal rating), Concert Experiences (these will discuss the performances, the setlists, and any info about meeting the bands I have from shows I attend, as well as include pictures and/or links to videos posted via YouTube when obtained), and Discussion Topics (these will essentially try and elicit some friendly debate and banter on a specific topic). I also plan on mentioning shows/tours that may be of interest, as well as noting several album releases prior to a New Album Review article.

Just an FYI of some featured pieces in the pipeline, in no particular order:
1.) New Album Review- Nahko and Medicine for the People
2.) New Album Review- Rogue Wave
3.) New Album Review- City & Colour
4.) New Album Review- Imaginary Cities
5.) Concert Experience- Nada Surf
6.) Concert Experience- Frightened Rabbit
7.) Concert Experience- He's My Brother She's My Sister
8.) Concert Experience- Hostage Calm
9.) Concert Experience- The Zambonis [UPCOMING SHOW]
10.) Concert Experience- Rogue Wave [UPCOMING SHOW]

In the meantime, recommended artists are listed up top in red. Stay tuned and happy listening.

"Well I'm here and you're here and it's true
There's a whole lot of walking to do
And you're cool, and I'm cool, and it's true
There's a whole lot of walking to do"

Friday, September 03, 2010

New Article Coming Soon

For my readers, I am currently working on another article highlighting a couple of bands no longer active, who likely have gone under the radar, but deserve some recognition for being awesome, even if it only happens on this small blog.

In the meantime, to see if anyone will comment- I'll posit the following question: if you had the power to get one, and only one band back together again, or even just change a lineup to one you prefer, what band would it be? Also, try and keep it fairly realistic- i.e. no bringing back people from the dead- though if you're comment depends on it, that is fine too.

As I do not want to spoil the upcoming post, I will start with a band not in the article. The first one that comes to my mind is The Smashing Pumpkins- featuring the Corgan, Iha, Wretzky, and Chamberlin lineup. I think this one is self-explanatory. At any rate, I hope to see some comments, and I'll be posting soon. Until then,


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Fusion From Down Under

As some of you may already know, I have a fairly broad taste in rock music. As a result, I admire and respect bands that bring new twists, sounds, and innovations to the ever-expanding genre. With that being said, I was recently invited to check out a group I had previously heard of, but never actually listened to. You may be wondering who this band is. The answer, is none other than the John Butler Trio.

Within the past several months, this Australian three-piece outfit released their 5th studio album entitled April Uprising. The record was 3 years in the making, and is the first one sporting the current lineup of frontman John Butler, bassist Byron Luiters, and percussionist Nicky Bomba. For those new to the band, like myself, the Trio has gone through several changes over the years. Reportedly in a 2004 issue of Rolling Stone, Butler said, "I've learned it's not always about having the same players for 5, 6, or 10 years, it’s having the right chemistry for these songs at this time..." This was a very interesting take- one that I had never considered. Yet it makes perfect sense, as this allows a band to evolve musically, without members venturing into a slew of side projects, leading fans to wonder if the original band is going to reconvene and make new music.

As I said earlier, April Uprising was 3 years in the making, and without a doubt, was definitely worth the wait. According to the band, the album takes some musical influence from dancehall, roots, and rock [I would also add modern folk and alternative]. The end result is a bluesy, folk-alternative sound, that while seemingly familiar on the surface, offers a unique, enjoyable listening experience. As there is a substantial 15 tracks, and this post is pretty long as it is- I'll talk about a couple of songs, and give a wrap-up of the album

The John Butler Trio's latest LP begins with the solid, anthemic 'Revolution', which contains slow tempo versus and a faster upbeat chorus. This culminates in some nice riffing, leading to a fade out. Thus, 'Revolution' creates an effective buildup for the rest of the album. The next song is the highly catchy 'One Way Road'. This was the first single released off the album, and was the second song I heard by the band. 'One Way Road' is hands-down, a true gem. The studio version is really high energy, but the live acoustic performance [not on the album] is even better, as it showcases both Butler's technical skill, and the soul behind the track. I have been given approval to bestow upon you all, said version version of 'One Way Road'. [Just right click, save link as, and enjoy]. Moving along, the Trio continues with 'C'mon Now', another spirited song, before slowing the pace a little with 'I'd Do Anything'. Between 'Ragged Mile' and 'Fool For You', the band has a vast variety of offerings, from tracks that range from the heavier to the lighter fare, keeping listeners enthralled during the duration. If it wasn't already abundantly clear, you, the audience, could easily hear how all the different stylings influenced the band in each track [e.g. folk (Ragged Mile) and alternative (Close To You)]. The John Butler Trio picks up the energy again with two great, mainstream appealing tunes called 'To Look Like You' and the more somber 'Mystery Man' before closing out the LP with the acoustic-folk 'A Star Is Born'.

All in all, April Uprising is a fantastic album, that combines elements of many subgenres to create a refreshingly different sound. The John Butler Trio's talent is also prominently displayed throughout the record, and one cannot help giving them respect and praise. This is clearly a band that has a passion for their music, as evidenced in each track. I encourage you readers to go check out the album, and don't forget to download the acoustic track above. As always...


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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My Enigma with Tegan and Sara

I would like to preface what I'm about to say in this post with a simple statement: I love these artists.

I can't recall how long ago it was, but 'Speak Slow' was played on one of the now defunct radio stations I used to frequent, and just like that I was introduced to the Canadian sister act, Tegan and Sara. I liked the song, and their sound, but did not really look much into the duo at that time.

Fast forward a few years.

In late 2009, I was in dire need of some new music to add to my iPod for the bus rides to class, so I naturally turned to the place where I figured I could find some- the radio, in particular, free internet radio via iTunes (Seriously, if you have iTunes, utilize this, its great… and FREE). I was perusing, listening for anything that caught my ear, when I happened to hear the song 'Nineteen' by Tegan and Sara. After recognizing the artists, I decided to storm the internet to listen to more of the pair's material.

Through my search, I found a link to their first performance on The Interface on (a link to all Interface performances is this way ----> ).
This four song set contained strictly acoustic renditions of the songs 'Back In Your Head', 'The Con', 'Nineteen', and 'Dark Come Soon' off the twin sisters' latest album at the time The Con.

Armed with only their two voices, three guitars (they had a 3rd guitarist), and xylophone (on 'Back In Your Head'), Tegan and Sara sounded absolutely phenomenal. They truly did an outstanding job, especially in terms of vocal performance, where they fed off one another to create very pleasant harmonies. If they hadn't already won me over, they surely did after I saw the videos. In fact, I liked the performance so much, I downloaded the mp3 version that Spinner offered and separated it into 4 different tracks. In my opinion, these are better acoustic takes than found elsewhere (e.g. Live Session on iTunes), though Take Away Shows (link on side) also got good Tegan and Sara footage.

Interestingly enough, during this time, when I had first started going to Spinner regularly, Tegan and Sara were releasing their album Sainthood and had done a second performance on The Interface- this time, a full band one. The four songs included in the Sainthood set were the tracks 'Hell', 'Alligator', 'On Directing', and 'The Cure'.

These songs were quite different from the ones from the first performance, mainly due to the electric sound. Once again, Tegan and Sara (and band) did not disappoint and gave me more reason to love them. My favorites were the fast-paced 'Hell' and the lighter fare of 'The Cure'. I was further elated when I learned in March that the two were releasing the Sainthood Interface set on a limited vinyl pressing for Record Store Day, which I was lucky to pick up (the place I went to literally had only 1 copy of this).

At this point, I started to compare both the stripped down acoustic tracks and the full band songs to their album version counterparts, and this is where the criticism comes in. THE LIVE TRACKS WERE VASTLY SUPERIOR!! I know the aforementioned statement is just my opinion, but I want you, the reader of this post, to take a good while and listen to one version, followed by the other. Conceivably, many of you will at least be able to see where I'm coming from, and maybe even some of you will be believers. The nuances in each of the live tracks help create magnificent sounding products that are just better than the original versions. For example, the decision to use a brighter, less warm guitar tone on 'Hell' gave the tune a different, more fitting sound. I could go on and on, but I'll let you find them on your own, especially since this post is quite long as it is. Perhaps credit should also be given to the crew of The Interface who are responsible for the sound of each performance. Lastly, I know some of you will say there are bands out there that are known for being better live acts, and I will agree this is true- case in point: Phish. It is possible that this is the case, though I'm not entirely sure.

At any rate, I think we can all agree that the sisters of indie rock, Tegan and Sara, kick some major ass, and I hope one day I will get to see them in person when I have some cash.

I have updated the links on the side, and will probably add at least one more. If you would like to be linked, just say so in the comments section. For those that may want to be featured, instructions are in the post 'Back in Black'. I will try and include a small paragraph on this on the side in the near future. Next time on Nicotine & Rock: should groups trying to recreate an influence's sound lose credibility? Until then…


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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Are You Sick Of Sarah? ... I'm Not!!

Driving away from my now alma mater (it feels weird to say it), I decided to put on the radio to my college station for both sentimentality and really loving the indie rock that came across the airwaves I happened to hear in recent days. I wasn't expecting a lot, as I am not a lucky guy, but the universe had other plans. I popped on the radio while a song was in its closing. And then it happened.

The next song came blasting out of the speakers, and right off the bat I was pumped. The pounding drums, the guitars feeding off one another- it was all just perfect.

Q: So what was this song?
A: 'Not Listening' by a band, whose name is all too ironic and hilarious to me for personal reasons, called Sick Of Sarah.

After checking out the band and hearing some other songs, I became a fan. This five-some of ladies know how to pack a punch and create some kick-ass, adrenaline pumping music. However, their self-titled album is a fairly diverse one: offering up alternative sounding tracks as heard on 'Daisies' and 'Bittersweet', to the semi-acoustic like on 'Give Me A Reason', to the punk as on both 'Mr. Incredible' and 'Not Listening', and to the acoustic ballad as on 'Fall'.

The album was mixed and engineered very nicely as the instruments and vocals sound great coming out of a nearly 10 year old 2.1 Altec Lansing setup, as well as a pair of earbuds when listening on my ipod. The instrumentals are crisp, even with distorted guitars. The vocals are clean, with Abisha Uhl delivering a solid lead performance. Jessica Forsythe laid down some sick drum beats, and I'm loving the fact that above everything else, the drums really catch my attention and stand out the most- this may be different for different people though, as maybe I'm actually more accustomed to listening for it as a drummer (even though I play multiple instruments). Furthermore, neither instrumentals nor vocals are overpowered by something else- everything is very audible, which earns it a thumbs up. It's a huge rarity to find an album where you can actually sit down, walk, go to the moon, or jump around on a pogo stick while blindfolded, and actually listen to the whole thing while still enjoying every single minute. I will say that it is arguable that Sick Of Sarah truly may have done it.

I encourage those who stumble upon this blog and are in need of some new tunes, to check this band out- I've even put them in the top 'Bands You Should Know' mini-segment at the top (that's how good I think they are). 'Not Listening', 'Mr. Incredible', 'Give Me A Reason', and 'Breakdown' are definitely songs to listen to- though as I've said before, the album delivers a variety of sounds and the tracks I suggest are more of 'put this on your workout playlist' than the complete scope of the record. (For a fuller range, just pick and choose some of the ones I mentioned earlier). Hopefully, I have educated some of you, and if you already heard this band prior to about 2 weeks ago, that is awesome, and keep on supporting them.

I'll have a new post in a short while, but in the meantime...



Back In Black

Hello readers.

For those who are new to the site (and those who were around long ago and may be coming back), please feel free to comment on all posts- I like hearing back from you, and it helps me better gauge my audience.

I am also open to discussion about all things rock- that you can also post in the comments section.

If you want to be featured on the site (** c'mon people- it's free advertisement for your band**), shoot me an e-mail (provided through my profile) with the subject line 'Feature: [insert your band name here]' and in the e-mail, either include: 1.) a digital file (or several) @ 256 kbps or higher preferred, though it can be lower- it's just, and I'm sure you already know, the higher the bitrate, the truer the sound that's reproduced, or 2.) a link to a website where I can listen to your music. Feel free to talk about yourself and/or band in the e-mail as well. I'll probably ask a few questions about your band in a follow up e-mail for information to include in a post as a mixed bio, Q/A session, and discussion on the music.

Realistically, I'm not expecting much-- but it would be great to have comments, willing participants be featured on the blog, and a good, open environment to talk about the music. Now to hit the lights, do a sound check, and open the doors to this venue once again.

- Management

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Defining An Artist In The Music World

Hello readers, it's been awhile.

I would like to talk about something tonight that just "grinds my gears". First I will pose a question- What is an artist [from a music standpoint]?

I define an artist as someone, or band [meaning group of musicians who collaborate], who creates every aspect of a song [lyrics, chord progressions, riffs, percussion, bass lines, etc.] and performs their creation, to some degree, playing an instrument, whether guitar, bass, drums, piano, etc.

The mass media keeps pounding it in the heads of people that no talent pop musicians are, and should be considered, artists. Every time I see something like this in the newspaper or on TV, I become stricken with rage. THEY ARE NOT ARTISTS!!!!

I have never heard a famous musicians speak out about this topic until tonight when I happened to be channel surfing. Dave Grohl, one of my personal favorites, talked about how people like Britney Spears should not be considered artists. My day was complete until directly after, there was a segment that followed about the very question I posed up top as well as on Dave's comments. The one guy on the program said that Dave was wrong and should re-think it. I say- you sir, are an idiot. Furious, I decided to talk about this here.

Leave a comment about your definition as per the question.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Tragedy In The Rock Community

As many of you may know already, the lead singer of the Classic Rock band Boston, Brad Delp, was found dead at his house in New Hampshire on March 9, 2007. The cause of death is reported to be a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. According to sources, a note was found with his body. Delp was part of one of the best bands in Rock history, and contributed a lot to the music world. He will be greatly missed by all who were affected by his vocals as well as the Rock community that he helped shape.
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