Boxing At The Zoo - 'BATZ' (ep review)

Boxing At The Zoo – ‘BATZ’ (ep review)

A few months after the release of Daydreamer by The Young Psychedelics, the band has been reduce to only two members. Count your lucky stars that Daniel Ramos isn’t one of them.

Alongside Chase Bauduin’s grand bass playing and fall-in-love-with- me vocals, Andrew Lesmes’s impactful drumming (already stoically seen in local psychedelic-revival band, The Detour), allows for Daniel’s return to the role of charismatic and energy-releasing lead guitarist for his band, Boxing At The Zoo. Fueled by captivating indie pop rock that mixes the emotional depth of early Modest Mouse, the catchy rhythm of Vampire Weekend debut, and the blissful vocals of The Head and the Heart, Boxing At The Zoo self-titled EP (BATZ) strikes a chord of harmony and progression for the Central Florida independent scene.

BATZ opens with “Wanderlust,” a playful tune that drags you in with its brilliant rhythm and friendly indie pop sound. Flowing into “Ms Molly,” Boxing At The Zoo demonstrates some playful riffs — their signature at this point. Remarkably, these two are the most straightforward tracks on the EP.

Leading into “Another Story (Feel So Low),” the dynamic sound of earlier tracks are simply and elegantly shifted into a bouche of elegant lyrics: “Another story/Just another chance to be proven wrong/Just another chance to move along.” Chase’s vocal duet with Daniel provides a milky mixture of sincerity and passion. “Gone,” a song drenched in lyrical depth and an attitude that strives for hopelessness, continues this trend with the lyrics, “No point in dragging distant memories/No, they won’t make me a better person.”

“Time Will Tell” drags you back into the quick and promising indie pop from “Wanderlust” and “Ms Molly.” BATZ closes with another passive-aggressive tune that is filled with as much elegance as any track on this EP: “If you simply tell me you miss me/ I can pretended to care.” Daniel gives us a wink with this solo near the end of this track and wraps us all completely up with: “Oh she loves me!/Yeah she loves me!/ And she knows it!”

Beautiful and drenched with a taste for irony, Boxing At The Zoo presents an enthrallment for independent rock in Central Florida. As Daniel continues to provoke us with realistically romantic lyrics, we can only wait around patiently, for more.

Boxing At The Zoo – ‘BATZ’ (ep review) by Andres “Andy” Andrade 

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Album Review: You Blew It! – “Keep Doing What You’re Doing”

A few weeks ago, You Blew It! released their second album, Keep Doing What You’re Doing. Since then, the band has received hefty buzz after being featured on Pitchfork. I can’t describe how rad it is that an Orlando band is gaining speed in the rest of the country.  With Keep Doing What You’re Doing, You Blew It! unleash 10 new tracks in the same melodramatic vain as their debut album, Grow Up, Dude. I use that term, not as an insult, but as what I think is a fitting description. The songs on KDWYD, as with other releases in the emo-revival genre, deal with themes of rejection, isolation, and self-discovery in a raw way. These songs don’t pull any punches. Enjoy.

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It was like “The Real World”, only in a Subway parking lot.

You Blew It! and I’s origin story goes as follows: On the second day of Fall 2012 semester, my car was totaled in a four person accident, resulting in almost a year of bumming rides. Tanner Jones, lead singer and guitar player in You Blew It!, also had the pleasure of having his car wrecked on that rainy Fall day. For almost four hours we and two other miserable souls chatted in a Subway parking lot waiting for the cops. It’s safe to say it was a fairly shitty day. However, Tanner mentioned that his band had just released their first album through Topshelf Records: Grow Up, Dude, my first exposure to the emo-revival movement that is plaguing the United States. And I was infected.

Grow Up, Dude captured my speakers, and when the fellow Orlando natives were playing a show, I was there. Try listening to “Medal of Honor” and “The Fifties.” Let me know how they make you feel.

“Don’t take this the wrong way: I know you can’t relate to feelings you don’t have personally.” From the first lines of the album, Jones’ vocal delivery is downright blunt. I feel for whoever these songs are written about, because they have no chance to defend themselves from the onslaught of harsh lyrics. In “Regional Dialect” Jones doesn’t let up. “I’m typically not the type to expose my vices, but the habits you’re forming are making me sick.” Sticks and stones can’t do half the damage dealt by You Blew It! 

But other moments on KDWYD deal with internal struggles. “Strong Island” explores feelings of regret. “I’m still clutching onto things I should have said and the bonds that I’ve been ruining.” Later on in “A Different Kind of Kindling,” Jones finds “solace in anything that isn’t this.” Although he likes to point the finger, at times Jones is his own worst enemy.


Sonically, You Blew It! is a band who wears their influences on their sleeve. This unfortunately makes the music take a backseat to the quality lyrics. Many of the tracks end up melding together, which can make the album drag. However, there are standouts, and overall the album isn’t overly hurt by the similar songs. “A Different Kind of Kindling” and “House Address” have some incredibly rich guitar melodies, and the rhythm section on “You & Me & Me” and “Gray Matter” is kicking. Fans of the emo-revival sound will love You Blew It!’s latest effort, and new listeners should try my recommendations.

KDWYD‘s closing track, “Better to Best” is my favorite on the album (possibly in You Blew It!’s entire catalog). The transition from calm intro to a chorus of sweaty bearded men makes me feel empowered. Here, it’s easy to draw comparisons with Canadian duo Japandroids. The subtle yet noteworthy chorus is sung over a punchy guitar harmony. As the album winds down, the final line of You Blew It!’s second album leaves the listener with closure after an exhausting battle with others and with oneself. “Maybe things aren’t quite as bad as I let myself believe.” 

1/20/14 Bag of Tracks: The Dead Weather, Chris Topher, U2

Good day all. I trust everyone’s MLK Day is going swell. I had a great weekend, even though I worked most of it. I saw the movie Her on Friday, and it was incredible. Now that we’re getting closer to Oscar night, I’ve been watching more and more movies. But, Her is by far my favorite of this award season. Everyone should go see it. I also made a trip over to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg for the opening of their Andy Warhol exhibit. I was absolutely floored. If you live in Florida try to make it over there before it closes in April. Two of the greatest artists of the 20th century are brought together to showcase some breathtaking art.

On to today’s blog! It’s been a while sense we’ve had “A Bag of Tracks,” and we’ve got some good ones for you. Enjoy.

The Dead Weather – “Open Up (That’s Enough)”

The Dead Weather come screaming back with “Open Up (That’s Enough),” their first new material since 2010’s Sea of Cowards. This track is the most furious Dead Weather song since “Treat Me Like Your Mother”. Allison Mosshart takes the reins on vocal duties, with Jack, Little Jack, and Dean singing backup. During the chorus the three men struggle to contain Mosshart, warning her, “That’s enough, that’s enough.” But, she keeps pushing forward into a flurry of rock. The group have plans to release a full-length in 2015, and will be putting out several singles from the album this year. You can listen to “Rough Detective,” the second song released, on Spotify.

Chris Topher – “Creators & Innovators”

For those who don’t remember, I reviewed Chris’ EP Introspective a few months back and was blown away by the sonic bliss. Shortly after I reviewed the EP, I talked to Chris about how much I loved his music and what he planned to do with it in the future. He initially said that Introspective was going to be his last release, but after how well it was received, he was inspired to continue creating. That brings us to “Creators & Innovators”. The microphone crackles as Chris begins with a warped synth line. Like the rest of his music, I’m instantly transported to another world. I get lost in the continuous drum beat that is both big and beautiful. The whole song is intergalactic in size and feel. As the music closes, an old radio sample, which has become a staple for Chris, follows us out with a thought provoking monologue. Goosebumps.

U2 – “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”

Obviously, this song was written back in the 80’s, but today it has extra meaning. For those who are unaware, this song is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I think “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” captures the humble preacher’s character perfectly. His struggle. His persistence. His message. As Bono so beautifully puts it, “Free at last, they took your life. They could not take your pride.” Even if you hate U2, I hope today you can feel something marvelous. Have a wonderful day.

EP Review: Chris Topher – ‘Introspective’

Chris Topher is Melbourne-based experimental indie rock artist (to be honest it’s hard to pinpoint what genre Topher fits into) who just released his third EP, Introspective. Topher has had a busy year, releasing his first and second EPs, Hearing Colours and Abstract Thoughts respectively. The release of Introspective coincidences with Topher’s birthday, so happy birthday Chris (hope it doesn’t suck)! Enjoy.

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You can download all of Chris’ albums for free at his bandcamp.

Chris Topher, Christopher… Wait a second…

There’s something about this album that makes me feel good. Actually, there’s a lot about this album that makes me feel good. From the opening piano riff on “Greenwich Village (Intro),” to the humming reverse guitar on the closer, the little details stand out as heartwarming. The songs aren’t bogged down with layers upon layers of exaggerated instruments, as is the case with some purely instrumental albums. Introspective is very detailed, but the sounds favor quality to quantity. This allows the listener to examine and dissect each piece, which is where Introspective pulls you in.

The piano melodies are without a doubt my favorite part of Introspective. The deep piano in “Iceland,” paired with synthesized strings creates a haunting portrait. Although I’ve never been to Iceland, I imagine the atmosphere fits the eerie landscape Bjork calls home. “Greenwich Village (Intro)” and the intro to “Golden Ratio” are two other spots on Introspective where the piano is sticks out.


However, Topher doesn’t rely solely on piano to carry Introspective. Drums, strings, and bass all shine at times on the EP, helping keep it fresh. Some tracks utilizes vocal samplesa decision that helps transition from one song into the next, and breaks up the absolute instrumentation that would otherwise be this EP. Boredom isn’t a problem here. There’s always something interesting to keep the listener engaged. The symbols on “Greenwich Village (Intro)” are so jazzy, they take me dim lit 1920’s underground bar. The rhythm again hits me on “Surrealist Eyes,” as Topher switches from drum machine to kit effortlessly. This, along with the Mike Wallace sample, makes “Surrealist Eyes” one of Introspective’s best.

“The Day Before Tomorrow” is another highlight, the most extravagant on the album. Like “Iceland,” it’s another song that builds an environment. The reversed sounds fly by like the Aurora Borealis on a desolate glacial landscape. Being that Topher is a Florida native, I can only assume these sounds are coming from a feeling within, rather than from his surroundings. It becomes even more obvious when you take into consideration the feeling these sounds give you, the self-reflection of the songs, and the name of EP.

Okay, enough spiritual talk, back to the music. I have a bone to pick with  Introspective: the guitar melodies aren’t as strong as I would have hoped. It could be that Topher isn’t as comfortable on guitar as other instruments, but the good majority of the guitar parts aren’t nearly as impressive as the rest of the instrumentation. On “Surrealist Eyes” it doesn’t ruin the song, but I don’t think guitar adds anything to the piece. “Golden Ratio” is another place where the guitar pull down the song. The piano is interesting; I love strings in the break of the song, but the guitar is just okay. Luckily, the EP doesn’t end there. It is followed by “Sheep in Fog,” my favorite on Introspective. So, I can forgive. The best guitar melody is on “Carnival of Light,” but it’s my least favorite song of the whole project. The first guitar part you hear is pretty interesting, but as another layer comes in, the first is drowned out. With a title like “Carnival of Light” I expect something far vaster, more exciting. Adding piano melody would have made the song much more expansive.

Altogether, I love Introspective. The way the each song flows into the next is beautiful, as if the EP was recorded in one session. On “Greenwich Village (Intro),” the listener hears Topher footsteps as he walks on stage and starts playing. Other raw elements, like his coughs or his instrument’s feedback, add to the personal feel. Topher allows us into his home, his mind. Finally, on “Sheep in Fog,” he sends you on a walk through an empty city, over Introspective‘s most beautiful sounds. Then, he walks away.

Mumford & Sons is Mumford & Done?

Indie coffee shop employees are in an outrage. Folk rock band Mumford & Sons has announced that they are going on hiatus. Is this the beginning of the end for the folk revival?

Mumford & Sons breaks down, this time without banjos

Mumford & Sons broke out in 2009, with their debut, Sigh No More. With hits “The Cave” and “Little Lion Man,” Mumford & Sons quickly rose to the forefront of the ever growing folk rock revival. With their second album, Babel, their popularity skyrocketed even further, winning Album of the Year at the Grammys. The band seems to be at their zenith, so why stop now?

“There won’t be any Mumford & Sons activities for the foreseeable future following Friday’s show”, the news was dropped by keyboardist Ben Lovett in an interview with Rolling Stone, and the shock wave quickly rocked the needles of every Urban Outfitters brand turntable. Later in the interview Lovett said, “These shows take a bit more out of us,”.  “We have a bigger responsibility to be in better form. We can’t be dropping the set 20 minutes because Marcus has tired legs.” Additionally, it was recently revealed that bassist Ted Dwane had surgery for a blood clot in his brain. Currently, the band hasn’t said that this hiatus is due to conflict within the band, so it doesn’t seem as if Mumford & Sons is completely done, just put on pause.

Alright, opinion time!

This is the point of the program where I stop talking like a journalist. In my opinion, this “folk rock revival” should be re-titled exactly what it is, corporate folk. Record companies saw the growing hipster trend and decided it to make some money off of it. But it’s not just Mumford & Sons, bands like: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, The Civil Wars, Alabama Shakes, and Grouplove, all encompass the genre that I call corporate folk. Listen people, I’m not saying it’s all bad, it’s just getting really boring, and overrated. Recently, I went to the fabulous Raglan Road Irish Pub in Downtown Disney. There’s a folk cover band there that play while you eat. Here’s the thing, they played three Mumford & Sons songs. Mumford & Sons is not even Irish! And, they introduced the songs with, “Here is a song by the legendary Mumford & Sons.” Okay nice, this is alright… wait a second. LEGENDARY! Excuse me, Mr. Cover Band Man, you’re jumping the gun a little.

Here’s the thing, Folk music in the 60’s was about counter-culture, it was an anti-war, anti-establishment middle finger to the man. Bands like Mumford & Sons just don’t have that spirit of angst to them. All they want to do is sit on a blanket and write love songs, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but its not like there isn’t war and injustices to sing about. It’s not that I hate this music, if I hear a Mumford & Sons song at restaurant I’m not like, “OH MY GOD, WHAT IS THIS SHIT?!”, but after a while all the Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and Of Monsters and Men songs sounds the same. Hell, even every Mumford & Sons song sounds the same. Slow coming in, then boom! banjo breakdown. I hear American Apparel slaves complaining all the time about the dubstep breakdown cliche, but the same cliches are here too. The dress: beards, overalls, suspenders, upright basses, lack of shoes, and flannel. What I will give Mumford & Sons credit for is being able to make fun of themselves, check out the video for “Hopeless Wanderer”, you will laugh. They even know it’s getting old.

Watch The Needle Drop review Babel!

Listen to Mumford & Sons on Spotify!