By: Nick Manduley
Soul, rage, rock; these adjectives only scratch the surface of the black feminist powerhouse that is Seattle’s Bearaxe. The four-piece punk act blends progressive rock roots with the raw, emotive stylings of soul. Vocalist Shaina Shepherd delivers a mind-blowing vocal performance on their debut EP Last Call, fusing her biting soul voice with explosive jazz and funk influenced proto-punk.
On Last Call, the band doesn’t beat around the bush for one second; the opening track ‘Buy You’ immediately graces the listener’s ears with a devilishly nasty guitar riff courtesy of guitarist Matt Williams. Shepherd enters the mix with a maniacal laugh as the track explodes into an unstoppable full-band freight train of sound, bound to have the dancefloors of rock clubs everywhere shaking with vigor. Shepherd’s seamless vocal belts give way to her zero-bullshit message to the proverbial ‘gentleman-with-the-crew-cut-in-the-back-of-the-class’: “you don’t own me!”
‘Uber’ is the next the track up to bat, and opens with bassist Jon Lemmon delivering a percussive yet soulful bassline, accompanied by Shepherd’s powerful vocals. As the band enters the track full-swing, Williams and Shepherd go almost back and forth with vocals and guitar. Shepherd sings a line, and Williams replies to her with a positively scrumptious guitar lick. ‘Ready or Not’ pushes the release forward with an angry, upbeat rock progression. Shepherd doesn’t hold back on the high notes, proving once more the strength of her vocal prowess. It’s clear that ‘Ready or Not’ is one of the band’s magic hat tricks to get any crowd to maximum levels of hype.
‘Brown Liquor’ keeps up the pace set by ‘Ready or Not’ with crushing mid-tempo riffage and fat bass lines. Posing itself as a hard rock tune reminiscent of the classics, ‘Brown Liquor’ is easily fan favorite. The next track, ‘Undertow’, opens with a sweet bassline before Williams joins in with some clean-toned guitar noodling, with Shepherd giving a soulful and perhaps more pop influenced vocal melody. The laid-back vibe on this track rounds out the band’s sound, and gives an excellent dynamic to Last Call. The closing track ‘For the Kill’ is an aggressive, funkalicious mid-tempo track with excellent guitar work reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello. For one last time, Shepherd graces us with her powerful high notes before the song shifts to a more upbeat feel, solidifying the EP as an album that goes out the same way it came in: with a bang.
Last Call is now available on all major streaming platforms. Fans can catch the band performing these epic numbers live on September 21st at the Vessel Taphouse in Lynwood, WA, and then again on September 29th at The Sunset in Seattle.
Massachusetts queer-core punks Dump Him released their newest full-length production Dykes To Watch Out For on August 30th via Get Better Records & Musical Fanzine Records. Though the ten-song record clocks in at a rather brief 23 minutes, do not be fooled; Dykes is like a punch to the face from Regina George- awesome!
The record explodes right out of the gate with a wall of guitar feedback before charging into ‘Puritan’; a fast, melodic, firecracker of a song that merges the catchiness of indie pop punk with the raw, visceral sound of 2010’s DIY rock music. Following ‘Puritan’ is the album’s title track, which can only be described as a DIY punk magnum opus. ‘Dykes To Watch Out For’ is an infectious track with a chorus that will have listeners humming for a week after they hear it. The track opens with a nasty drum fill courtesy of drummer Larz Brogan before a wall of guitar explodes into the mix; by the time the first chorus is out, it’s clear that this song is an instant classic. The track goes out with a face-melting guitar solo courtesy of the band’s producer Zach Weeks.
The record pushes on with memorable guitar riffs, explosive drumming, and a healthy dose of the basement punk vibes we all know and love. Tracks like ‘Trash’ and ‘Dreams, Live 1997’ feature some particularly tasty licks from lead guitarist Mattie Hamer; bassist Otto Klammer takes a mean, fuzz-laden solo on ‘Dreams’ and is easily one of my personal favorite moments on the record. While vocals on the record are primarily delivered by guitarist Jac Walsh, each band member takes a singing part at some point on the release. Each member sang whatever lyrics they wrote, which makes for a very inclusive dynamic when listening to this record. It shows that Dump Him is not simply a band, but also a team; a family.
The band is currently touring the continental United States in support of Dykes. The tour kicked off September 3rd in Philadelphia, and will make stops in the midwest, the pacific northwest, and California before heading home to New England where the band will play a homecoming show on September 27th in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dykes To Watch Out For is available now on all major streaming platforms, so do yourself a favor this week and stream it. The album is also available on bandcamp for the “name-your-price” option, so listeners are encouraged to donate to the band while they complete the remaining dates of their album release tour. The remaining dates are listed below. Information regarding venues can be acquired through messaging the band’s facebook page.
9/9 Seattle, WA @ Vera Project
9/10 Portland, OR @ Black Water
9/11 Olympia, WA @ New Moon
9/12 Tacoma, WA @ 607
9/13 Corvallis, WA @ Mudville Stadium
9/14 Oakland, CA @ Hawk And Pony
9/15 San Francisco, CA @ The Knockout (21+)
9/16 Fresno, CA @ Friends Know
9/17 Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon
9/19 Denver, CO @ The Horse House
9/20 Wichita, KS @ DIYMCA
9/22 Cincinnati, OH @ XTUD1O
9/23 Pittsburgh, PA @ Glove World
9/24 Brooklyn, NY @ Rubald
9/27 Cambridge, MA @ The Democracy Center
Hey, I’m Katherine Forbes and I’m so grateful that the Muddy Paw PR team has allowed me to takeover the blog today for #WisdomWednesday. As the founder of Designing the Row and Music Biz Besties, my weekdays usually look like designing websites for musicians and hanging out online in my Facebook group.
But today I want to talk about how music has taught me so many life lessons (I’ve been playing piano since I was 7). My hope with this #WisdomWednesday post is to encourage you to look for and embrace these lessons in your own life. Why? Because I’ve been able to lean on these lessons as I’ve started my own business, walked through cancer with my husband, and so much more.
On my new album, Life Lessons Learned Through Music, I’ve paired 7 lessons each with a story and classical piano piece… and today I want to share the bonus lesson with you!
Click here to play the audio version of the story and song below or continue reading the story below. In the comments I’d love to hear if music has taught you any lessons that you’ve been able to apply to other areas of your life!
“Amazing Grace” is a song I know you know, and it has special meaning to me for a couple reasons. I started at Virginia Tech the fall after the shooting – one of the deadliest in US history – and I joined the marching band, playing piccolo. The band’s tagline is “The Spirit of Tech,” and that year “Spirit” really took on a new meaning. One of the first students who lost their lives that day was a band member who played baritone. Though I never met him, it sounds like he was a joy to be around.
I can’t play or hear or think of “Amazing Grace” without feeling like I’m back on campus in front of the memorial playing it just a few weeks into my freshman year. I’ll never forget that day because I stood right in front of the director, and I can so vividly remember the emotion he conducted that song with. The arrangement starts out with just the baritone section and then changes key when the rest of the band joins in. Then come the 32 very dissonant beats of bell tones to represent each of the 32 lives taken on April 16. Those bell tones crescendo into a huge major chord played by the full band, and then it ends with just the baritones playing the melody. Listening back, it still makes my heart drop and gives me the chills every time.
Then fast forward to moving to Nashville and meeting my husband! He was taking care of his grandparents’ house after his grandmother moved into the nursing home. One night the whole family went over to celebrate her birthday. At this point her Alzhiemers had taken over. She didn’t know who anyone was or where she was. But, there was a piano in the room and since she had played piano her whole life and had always played in church we pulled out the hymnal and I started playing. Then Chris’ mom suggested I play her favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace.” And as I did, Chris’ grandmother sang every word to every verse, without missing a beat, and then said a prayer after the song was finished. The music took her back to a past moment of clarity. It was such a special experience.
While this song takes me back to some sad memories, it shows me the power of music. The power of music and the lessons I’ve taken from it – that I hope I have now passed on to you – have truly given me confidence in all that I do.
So I’d like to close out by improvising “Amazing Grace.” Just like I never know before I sit down to play this if I’ll play a sweet soft version, or a powerful loud one, or a combination of both – I think it symbolizes how we’re all going along in life doing the best we can. No one has all the answers or everything figured out. But if you quiet your mind and listen to what’s in your heart, it will show you the way.
Life Lessons Learned Through Music Track listing:
Get $10 off with code MUDDYPAW at purchase at www.katherineforbes.com
In the comments I’d love to hear if music has taught you any lessons that you’ve been able to apply to other areas of your life! PS. I hang out in Insta DMs too if you want to share your takeaway with me there, @katherinedforbes
By: Nick Manduley
Orlando, Florida post-hardcore outfit I Met a Yeti dropped their latest single “All Magic Users Swim In The Loomy Gloom” on August 16th. The single is off the five-piece band’s sophomore EP Camp Yeti which is due out October 4th. “All Magic Users” is an explosive track of intricate lead guitars and R&B inspired vocal melodies that can only be described as beautiful. Every performance on this track is executed with deadly precision; guitarists Anthony Gonzales and Ricardo Antonio Rodriguez provide some aggressive riffage and clean-cut lead sections, while bassist Lui Wancel and drummer Alexander Torresola hold down an absolutely air-tight rhythm section. Vocalist Daisy Chamberlin delivers a wonderful vocal performance ladened with soaring harmonies and infectious melodies, but do not be mistaken; Chamberlin’s screamed vocals are a true testament to their vocal prowess.
I Met a Yeti broke into the math rock scene during the summer of 2016 with their single “Windows.” The track features a cacophony of clean toned guitars, dreamy vocal melodies, and somber screams. The five-piece released their debut EP …I Can Still See You later that year just before Christmas; the release features face-melting tracks such as “Is It Free, Or Isn’t It?” and “Where’s Nelson?” which ends with a rather cheeky quote by Sassy the Sasquatch from DIY animator Jarrad Wright’s critically acclaimed web-series, The Big Lez Show.
The band will be embarking on an eight day tour of the southeast and Texas in support of Camp Yeti. This tour will kick off on October 13th in Denton, Texas and conclude on October 21st in Orlando. “All Magic Users Swim In The Loomy Gloom” is currently available on all major streaming platforms.
Camp Yeti Tour Dates
10/13 – Denton, TX – Backyard on Bell (PlusFest 2)
10/14 – Austin, TX – TBA
10/15 – San Antonio, TX – Twin Sister Cantina
10/16 – Houston, TX – Notsuoh
10/17 – Baton Rouge, LA – Southside Arts Center
10/18 – Woodstock, GA – Connect Live
10/19 – Jacksonville, FL – Raindogs
10/21 – Orlando, FL – Soundbar
When I work with new singers inside my studio and inside my paid community, The Star Singer Green Room, I always ask them why they are here and what they want to improve.
I get answers like:
I want to sing higher
I want to bridge and connect my vocal break
I want to sing without straining
These types of goals are technical goals and this line of thinking is why so many singers fail to hear the improvement that they want.
This failure creates this vicious circle of judgement, tension, and vocal strain. This tension actually manifests itself INSIDE your body and puts even more strain on your voice, which can actually makes you sound worse, or cause temporary or permanent vocal damage.
We do NEED technical goals, but when you start to feel comfortable and confident and you actually sounds pretty amazing…what then?
The BIG question that many singers never ask themselves is…How are you going to USE these technical skills that you have mastered? What does that big singing dream look like for you?
Do you want to:
Be an international touring artist
Sell your music online
Heal and connect people through your music
If you don’t give yourself permission to have that big singing dream and your technical goals aren’t aligned with your big picture goals, that’s why you are feeling stuck.
Goals help us to create a training plan so that we can actually see results and move forward with our singing.
For example, if you are trying to sing higher but all of your vocal exercises or warm-ups are focused on breathing…obviously you aren’t going to hear an improvement when you try to sing higher. This makes sense logically, but it is a super common mistake that I see singers make all the time.
You need 2 kinds of goals.
1. 2 Kinds Of Goals
What is your BIG, GIANT singing goal? What does your life look like when you achieve it?
What are the current technical goals that support and move your forward to your big goal?
For continued improvement, you need feedback.
Who was the last person who gave you some feedback on your singing?
What did they say? Now, the most important part…did they offer you a solution? Did they give you a piece of advice that would actually HELP your singing or just point out your flaws?
Here’s what I mean…
“You’re kind of pitchy.”
“It sounds like you are straining your voice a little bit.”
“You need to be louder up there.”
“Yeah, it sounded pretty good…but”
Stop listening to the wrong people…people who offer you problems, but not solutions.
These people point out your flaws, but don’t actually know how to help you to improve your singing.
This brings us to the 2nd thing that you need in order to transform your singing…
2. Expert Guidance/Feedback
Expert guidance can take many forms…a weekly voice lesson with a voice teacher, a monthly check in with a vocal coach, a membership community aimed at improving your singing and performances led by a vocal expert…whatever works for you.
The important thing is it needs to be an expert giving you the guidance and feedback…someone who can give you SOLUTIONS and help you to get better, not just someone who points out your flaws.
3. A Training Plan
Olympic athletes have training plans, pro football players have training plans. The BEST OF THE BEST are always working to improve and condition their craft…ESPECIALLY when that skill is muscle based. Your voice is part of your body and muscle memory is in play here. When you train your voice, you get better when you don’t, you don’t improve at all and in some cases if you are performing and singing a lot…you can actually get worse or hurt or damage your voice.
Vocal warm-ups are NOT a training plan.
Your training plan should be a combo of proven vocal exercises that align with your BIG singing goal AND your technical goals.
If your training plan is effective, you will hear improvement with just 10-15 minutes of practice 3-4 times a day. If you are practicing more than that and not hearing results, something is wrong.
I want to go more in depth with you on this idea and show you a proven framework, The Dream Performance Process, which is the 4 step plan that I’ve used with singers in my studio to give amazing singing performances over and over again. If you want to walk off that stage feeling amazing EVERY time, then this class is for you and it’s going down this Thursday, August 29th at 6:00 pm CST and you can register for free here.
By: Nick Manduley
New Jersey hardcore band Kong are aiming to release a new EP this winter according to guitarist Alex Peragine. The release will feature four new brutal tracks as well as re-recordings of two previously released tracks, and expand on the band’s experimental approach to modern hardcore music. The band was kind enough to provide Muddy Paw with a two-track preview of the new release; fans should expect an onslaught of noisey, aggressive guitar riffs, soul-crushing breakdowns, and a monstrous vocal performance from frontman Anthony “Pigeon” Izworski. One new track, menacingly called “Behemoth” ends with a simply horrifying, noise-ladened breakdown that can only be accurately described as the unholy shriek of some other-dimensional beast.
Kong released a demo entitled Demonstration of Strength in the fall of 2018. The release showcases the band’s dynamic sound with two songs that greatly contrast with one another. Drawing from the influence of bands like Code Orange, Jesus Piece, Full of Hell and Vein, the band delivers a devastating production that pushes the boundaries of metal and hardcore, while also blending sounds and styles from a variety of metal subgenres. The opening track “Fury” is an avalanche of slow to mid-tempo riffs building to crushing breakdown featuring guest vocalist Kaonashi. The title track of this demo is a cohesive blend of death metal and classic hardcore with a modern spin.
The band is currently hard at work in the studio working on their new release. While the band is unlikely to announce any show dates this fall, fans can still expect a late 2019/early 2020 release date for the new EP.