Tag Archives: album release

REVIEW: ANTI-MELODY by American Standards Gets Real About Grief, Loss, & Suicide

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Phoenix-based hardcore punk-infused metal band American Standards is known for their “piss and vinegar” sound, boasting a well-crafted amalgamation of heavy-handed, technical instrumentals, and brutal yet poetic lyrics that confront societal divides such as corporate greed, media corruption, loss, materialism and personal struggle. Presumably due to their focus on DIY ethics, the group attracted a devoted following in response to their leadership of what has come to be known as the “guerrilla punk” movement in Phoenix. Think of the gritty, raw basement shows we all know and love, except this time American Standards would be there to distribute self-produced compilation CDs as a method of raising money for local causes and charities. Pretty rad, isn’t it?

Online you’ll find American Standards listed as “chaos-driven noise punk” also noting themselves as self-proclaimed “purveyors of fine noise” and “Voted Least Likely to Succeed in 2011″ – the year the band was formed. Don’t let their humor fool you though, the message packaged within the chaos tells something of a deeper story. The group has since been recognized in the form of a regular presence on local radio stations like 98KUPD, RadioPhoenix and TheBlaze in addition to sharing the stage with acts like Atreyu, Comeback Kid, Norma Jean, Every Time I Die and many more.

American Standards’ most recent album “ANTI-MELODY” (which premiered in Revolver Magazine, Alternative Press and Lambgoat) is the group’s fourth release, delving into topics that are undeniably more personal than ever before for its members while simultaneously continuing to deliver on what the band has always been known for: pungent commentary on societal divides and anti-consumerism. This time around however, the development of this album is a distinct reflection of American Standard’s ability to focus through times of struggle while baring it all despite battles with depression after the loss of founding guitarist Cody Conrad to suicide, followed shortly after by the loss of the vocalist Brandon Kellum’s father to cancer.

What would have broken so many other bands transmuted into a powerful point of resonance for American Standards, empowering them to produce an album that not only cuts deep, but holds true to the spirit of the band’s fiercely integral essence.

The Tracks

Writers Block Party

“Writer’s Block Party” might at first sound like pandemonium to an unfocused ear, but with closer listen you’ll quickly discover a lyrical contrast that highlights societal pressures imposed on those who desire success or any place in the limelight. The song immediately portrays the immense impact of these pressures through the band’s eyes; “dancing around like we’re marionettes, a stutter in our step, a cadence in our breath, to the unimpressed…”

This is an opening number that comes out swinging, keeping things hyped while immediately addressing the lyrical heart of the matter which made it an ideal choice for a single. And despite seeking an “easy fix” it’s clear things weren’t so simple as the song goes on to say, “I gave up my heart to find a soul… The clouds came in and the lights went out. We were guided by the roar.”

The metaphorical nature of their lyric choices leave much to interpretation and making space for further connection with their ever-growing fan base, but it can be speculated that this track alludes to the many struggles of avoiding corporate sponsorship in the music industry and beyond. This line in particular encapsulates the track well:

“Remove the spine and the heart. Safe bet, mindset. And claim what’s left as art.”

Carpe Diem, Tomorrow

Although brief in content, the technical aspect of  instrumentals included in “Carpe Diem, Tomorrow” are placed well as both a striking opener and stout interludes that highlight a wake-up call just beneath the surface:

“Concrete minds cannot change. Don’t stand still, keep moving. You’ll become what you say you hate.”

Encouraging fans to seize the day, this track utilizes the concept of time to motivate listeners and warn them of the consequences of stagnancy in life. Audibly this track has an underlying rhythm that is a bit similar to that of System of A Down, Throw Down, or Tool; while offering unique lead guitar, which in contrast offers similarities to bands like From First to Last, Trivium, and Hatebreed.

Church Burner

“Church Burner” starts off with an eerie chorus which repeats throughout, but not before laying down some seriously chunky guitar riffs that bring a daunting undertone. The lead guitar and bass notes are undeniably the highlight here, although this is the first sing-scream track to be found on ANTI-MELODY which is to be noted as well.

Lyrically this track is beautiful in the simplicity of its resounding metaphor while still managing to communicate the intensified angst that American Standards fans long for.

“An extremist in boldface type. We’re all people, but compassion doesn’t sell. And there’s no time for independent thought. There are no divisions outside the ones that we create.”

While chaos and hardcore don’t exactly scream “empowerment”, American Standards is clever in the execution of their message. They scatter calls to action throughout each song and foreshadowing for what is to come if the previously mentioned social obstacles aren’t addressed in a way that keeps things moving, so-to-speak. The lyrics go on to say:

“Tear down the walls and build a bridge… We don’t want another title to tell us who we are.”

Bartenders Without Wings

“Bartenders Without Wings” slows things down a bit, sounding more like a classic punk ballad that explores a struggle between man and self. The energy of this track is especially solemn, suggesting the song may be addressing the unexpected loss of founding guitarist Cody Conrad as well as Kellum’s father. “Bartenders Without Wings” also spotlights some inarguable similarities to the sound of now infamous As I Lay Dying.

According to Kellum, ANTI-MELODY is the result of “what started as social commentary on the growing divide in our society” but then became much more personal due to the loss of Conrad and Kellum’s father amidst recording; this track communicated that effortlessly.

Kellum went on to say that the band “went back in to re-record much of the album and in a lot of ways used it as therapy to cope with the experiences.”

Danger Music #9

“Danger Music #9” is a smashing reminder of the dreadful state of conglomerate corporate takeover and a return to the classic American Standards sound, fueled by the pain and grief that lurked in the shadows for these four bandmates at the time. It can be inferred from the lyrics that they are not simply addressing a grandiose idea of anti-consumerism, but more specifically an issue with the intentions and treatments of our healthcare system. Though often choosing to communicate through lyrics that are poetic and/or satirical in nature, “Danger Music #9” takes an unprocessed approach to its confrontation of western culture particularly medicine, making the lyrics that much more savage in nature.

“You make a beautiful statistic, diamond eyes. Giving incentives to move these units. Prescribe more illness. And we’ll become the money they count behind closed doors. A half a million dead. A third of us next.”

Cancer Eater

The title may have tipped you off as to what this track is about. The tragic loss of Kellum’s father is uttered through every verse of “Cancer Eater”, tearing from word to word with an energy unmatched by any other song on the album. Instrumentally, “Cancer Eater” is equally as brutal, once again highlighting lead and bass guitar.

Lyrically, however, this track has got to be the most poetic:

“We’re taken hostage by the ones we love, that leave us behind. I can’t be as tough as nails, with this paper skin. And organs that fail. But life moves on, and I’ll go on too… I lived like him. I’ll die like him. Remember me, remember.”

Broken Culture

“Broken Culture” is self explanatory in its purpose, erupting with energy right from the start with strategically coalesced vocals and a true hardcore sound that are again unique in their likeness to other tracks on the album if you listen close. Themes of anger, fear and isolation resurface once again, but this time with a more somber tone in wake of its preceding track “Cancer Eater”.

“We had more guns than bullets so, we made pistols with our hands. Where’s the good; there’s evil we must fear. So, pull the trigger and pray the rounds land.”

Chicago Overcoat

“Chicago Overcoat” takes all the energy from the seven songs before itself and delivers that consolidated energy as one swift punch in the ear drums before ending on a beautiful piano note. The track is in itself, a crescendo of all-encompassing instrumentals accompanied by a dominating vocal performance by Kellum.
“Chicago Overcoat” starts off with the focus on bass and drums as opposed to vocals and lead guitar, making for a pleasantly unrefined, and super-sludgy combo. And yet, there is a tone of desperate release, resentment, and determination to rise above through and through.

In Closing

ANTI-MELODY took things to the next level for American Standards, allowing fans to get to know the individuals behind these powerful words that leave us feeling a little less misunderstood and a little more at home in the world.

Ever-brutal. And ever-poetic.

It seems, although incredibly tragic, the struggles that American Standards experienced during the making of ANTI-MELODY created a vacuum of emotion yielding an outcome no fans could have predicted. We’re looking forward to seeing where this intimate breakthrough takes them, and eager to listen in as they continue to evolve.

ANTI-MELODY is available now on iTunes, Google Music, Amazon and Spotify or you can pick it up along with exclusive merchandise through the
American Standards Bandcamp page.


INTERVIEW: Reactions with MRCH from Phoenix!

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MRCH is releasing their debut album Reactions on October 12. The duo consists of Mickey Pangburn (Vocalist/Guitarist/Synth), and drummer Jesse Pangburn. Many of their songs have been featured in television shows, such as The Vampire Diaries and Famous in Love.

To celebrate the release of their album, the duo is having an album release show (also their first headline show) at Valley Bar on October 14. Come and party with the indie electronic duo!

Mickey Pangburn tells us more about the duo, their music, plans for a tour, and more in their email interview below…

Tell us about your band name, MRCH… How did you come up with it? Does it have any special meaning?

It’s pronounced like ‘march’. When people march, they have purpose. When people march together, they have a common goal. They step together. We wanted a name that showed we were in music for the long haul. For better or for worse, on the same page. We dropped the “A” because people kept coming across ‘marching bands’ when they’d do a google search of us!

What did you most enjoy about the process of making your new album, Reactions?

The playing. We had no one to answer to, so we could just try out whatever we wanted. The hardest part is calling something ‘done’… We’re already writing more though, so it’s become a vicious cycle.

When you aren’t making music or performing, what do you both enjoy doing in your free time?

Jesse likes eating street tacos. I like hanging with my cats.

Are there any plans for MRCH to embark on a tour following the album release party at Valley Bar on October 14?

LA is next up. Details coming soon on that. Then, yes – touring! We probably shouldn’t hold our breath for Bleachers to invite us along with them… So, we’ll be booking DIY. Dates coming soon, hopefully up through the spring.

Have either of you toured before?


Do you know or speak any other languages?

We wish… I like to dream of being fluent in French.

MRCH formed in 2015, and the two of you were previously members of a local band named The Prowling Kind. What was the motivation to go from a five piece band, to a duo?

Scheduling and goals. It’s hard to wrangle 5 different people/opinions/lives – into sharing a common goal and agreeing on a means of reaching said goal. We kinda had to re-set, so everyone could do what was best for them. MRCH is a totally different animal than TPK musically speaking too.

Did your previous experience in the local music scene boost your success in MRCH, or did it feel like a clean slate?

We felt like we learned so much playing with TPK. Jesse and I went to school for music, but felt like Prowling Kind was kind of like an internship. We booked our first tours, got introduced to the local scene, dealt with the business side of things. So there was a lot we were grateful for from that season. However, MRCH is so different in both sound and vibe that the crossover was minimal. We never made it a goal to ‘take’ Prowling Kind fans. We hoped they’d like MRCH too, but it was a mixed bag of responses. MRCH really felt like starting over. It felt like a clean slate.

Have the Phoenix music and art communities influenced your music and image?

The Phoenix music scene has been really supportive. The thing we appreciate most about it, is really how little they influence our sound or image. There’s such an eclectic and diverse spectrum of artists, we don’t feel inclined to be much like anybody else. We never feel like we’re expected to fit in a particularly Phoenix mold. There’s room to explore here. There’s a lot of freedom.

Name some of your favorite local bands or artists:

There are a bunch, but some are : PAO, Bogan Via, Harper and the Moths,The Technicolors, The Darts, Hex Marrow & House of Stairs.  

How has the exposure of your songs on multiple television series helped promote your music?

There’s definitely a broader audience. Showtime, ABC & Netflix have completely different demographics – which is cool. Mostly, it’s allowed us to pursue music more full-time, which is huge. We’re super grateful for this avenue of music in film and television. Someday, it’d be a dream to score something. *sigh*

Anything else you want us to know?

We’re so excited to be playing. Especially this release show! It’s our very first time headlining and we’re working hard to make it extra special.

Do you have a message for your fans coming to the release show?

Come ready to dance!

MRCH Reactions Album Release Party 10-14-17

REVIEW: DaDadoh + The P.o.C. “You Can’t Rap Forever” EP Release at The Trunk Space 9-25-17

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DaDadoh - Photo Credit: Lnin Oo
Photo Credit: Lnin Oo | Editor: Katherine Amy Vega
© All Rights Reserved

PHOENIX — With an Arizona summer solar-powered surge of ambition, Tempe-based Alternative HipHop artist DaDadoh started recording the 6-track You Can’t Rap Forever in June of this year. In only four months between then and the release show, he worked with a perfectionistic fervor to re-work and refine his songs that had already proven popular. Regardless of unwavering confidence in the songs he’s written, DaDadoh honed his insatiable appetite for challenging himself to accomplish beyond what he thought feasible before. In fact, he mixed and mastered the album, and performed all of the songs including all of the instrumentals, himself. The result was reaching the same kind of new heights as an artist that he is regularly helping other artists achieve as a music producer with his record label TVLiFE Entertainment.

Although You Can’t Rap Forever is a cohesive addition to DaDadoh’s discography, the release brings a fresh sound that comes with his growth and evolution as an artist and a person. Lyrically, he continues to cleverly inject commentary into his verses, using music as his platform to have a voice in matters. Steering away from his cocky, comedic, and sex-saturated themes of the 2016 release Radical, he takes a more sober tone, and channels angst into his music. The new release is both melodic, and infused with punk rock. The album feels sincere and intense – like it’s made of his very soul. Get ready to get f*cked up when you dive in.

You can buy You Can’t Rap Forever on Bandcamp as a digital download only, or with a physical copy in CD format: Here


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DaDadoh & The P.o.C. - The Trunk Space 9-25-17

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While DaDadoh is a charismatic (and somewhat-eccentric) staple in the Phoenix local music scene, he isn’t one to boast; despite the fact that one might consider him a hiphop-flavored renaissance man. If you’re not familiar with his projects and you’re reading this now, it might have taken some online sleuthing to discover that on top of his solo project and music production, he also hosts “Before The Show: The Podcast,” and is a member of bands including Exxxtra Crispy and Militia Joan Hart. And during the four months leading up to the EP release, he helped local musicians even further by recruiting 3 live band members – now known as The P.o.C. – Andy Warpigs (Guitar & Vocals), Jimmie Lewis (Bass), and Daviid Giiron (Drums).

The more you learn about DaDadoh, the more you come to understand that he passionately pours 100% into his artistic projects, and how important the community is to him. Although this release show was his time to shine, his gratitude for his new bandmates, and all of the fans and media people swarming around The Trunk Space venue, was no secret; nor was their willingness and enthusiasm to support his release show – and THAT reciprocal community is what Burning Hot Events is all about.

Catch DaDadoh’s next show,
with Amuck, Wait for the Sun, & TOSO,
at Rogue Bar on October 10!


by Katherine Amy Vega

DaDadoh + The P.o.C. – Trunk Space 9-25-17

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