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The Institution

in Music by
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The Institution is a new band emerging out of the San Fransisco scene and their music brings to mind the Deftones, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins and other hard hitting progressive metal acts. But they aren’t just pure aggression as singer/lead guitarist/songwriter Jay Scott brings a melodic quality to the songs that juxtaposes the power and force of metal with a more endearing vulnerability that sways listeners and teases them into believing he has crafted a nice, verbose pop song that brings to mind a kind of alt rock poetry until the pounding of Pete Markovina’s drums hits you full in the face with a tribal urgency. The rhythm is held together by bass player Sage in an mesmerizing pulse. The band was recently on a West Coast tour and are playing shows regularly. Make sure to check out their full frontal live show, which can be overpowering while at the same time quiet like the eclectic mix of the Pixies or even Nirvana. All types of elements can be heard in The Institution’s songs but judge for yourself. The links for their songs are listed here. Also check out this interview with the frontman Jay Scott and drummer Pete Markovina. This is The Gr1nd exclusive-

What was the tour like?

Jay: The first part of the west coast tour was awesome. I had a great time with my band and out new touring Van.

Pete: The tour was a lot of fun. We had places to stay but otherwise winged it a lot and learned a lot along the way. You definitely need to be in shape to be on tour.

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What did it feel like to release the album?

Jay: Finally releasing Hegemony was like hearing on to the next grade. It was a much needed step in our creative progression and the 2 and a half years we put in working on it was indeed expensive; but in the end we did it just right. Yes I could have worked on it as long as Guns and Roses worked on Chinese democracy as I am an obsessive type of guy and I wanted this album to put us on the map and get us noticed. It’s a big world out there with tons of music so I thought if we came out with an amazing freshman album and were able to show our talent that it’d be a good thing for us.

Pete: Happiness, Relief. And a lot different than maybe what I imagined. It took longer than expected to finish it. But I’m really happy with the results.

How long had you been working on it?

Jay: Two and a half years in the making. It was recorded in Berkeley California at East Bay Recorders (formally San Pablo Recorders) with our great friend and sound engineer Joel “Joeleosis” Gimbel who is an amazing and talented dude. The album was mastered in Berkeley by Ken Lee.  We also had a single off the album, History Repeats Itself, mastered by Gavin Lurrson (Queens of the Stone Age “Like clockwork”).

Pete: Off and on over 2 years. A lot of learning during that as well.

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How long have you guys playing together?

Jay: We have been together since 2006 and Pete and I decided to make it our life mission once we realized it’s all we really wanted to do. We started playing aggressively (a lot of shows) around San Francisco in 2011.

Describe what you think your music sounds like?

Jay: I think our music sounds like melodic and progressive rock with great lyrics on top. A sort of Alt rock poetry.

Pete: Heavy, melodic. Progressive and groove based and very soulful.

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What would you compare it too?

Jay: I’d compare it to all the bands that I grew up listening to as its all little pieces of what we love.

Pete: A hybrid of some of my favorites, not a direct comparison, but influences from some of them. Heavier rock for sure.

How were the crowds reactions on tour?

Jay: People are always receptive when they’re around. The venues we play on this level vary in terms of crowds. In this world the media has basically brainwashed a lot of people into listening to ghetto music they can’t even relate to so sometimes it’s hard but we just go out and give it our best.

Pete: They were good as a whole. The amount of people varied of course but all positive feedback.

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What are your plans for the next album?

Jay: We plan to start laying down some tracks with our engineer soon and we are looking towards a studio in Seattle to do so. We have a lot of new sounds on the table and we are excited to get it on.

Pete: Hoping to have a full set in fall/winter time, and toying with an EP of some of our stuff on the shelf.

How many songs that you have made it on the album?

Jay: On Hegemony we have 9 songs and 13 tracks total.

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What bands or musicians have inspired you guys?

Jay: For me it started with The Doors, then Guns and Roses and Ozzy, then all the great stuff that came out of Seattle; Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice N Chains. Then Deftones and Tool, Chevelle.

Pete: Deftones, Tool, Pink Floyd, the Mars Volta, Led Zeppelin and countless musicians. I take inspiration from many sources.

What is your social media contact info, website info and how can places book you and where can people listen to your music or buy your album?

Jay: Our official site is www.theinstitution.us and you can find links to all our social media there. The album is available on i tunes and Amazon and CD Baby and can be streamed from just about anywhere (Spotify/Rdio/Soundcloud/etc).

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What is the San Francisco music scene like?

Jay: The scene in San Francisco is a hard one. As I said before the media has destroyed the appetite for a lot of rock music as they’ve been pumping ghetto music to our children so much the kids are scared to be different from the mainstream and it’s all ghetto rap from there. But in the end it’s about cultivating your own following and crowd which we have been doing pretty aggressively.

Check out The Institution on Spotify and Soundcloud and visit their site too.

CD Review: ‘For The F.E.W.’ by D. Green

in Music by
D. Green

Style: Hip Hop

Reviewed by Randy Radic

Bronx hip hopper, D. Green, has a new album out. It’s called For the F.E.W. And it’s brilliant! Green’s lyrics are simply dazzling, going far beyond the usual hip hop quatrains. Green doesn’t simply write lyrics, he engages in verbal pyrotechnics. For example:

“I even lost my inspiration and have yet to find it … still

The beauty of this game has been losing its sex appeal.”

The opening track on the album is “FansEveryWhere,” the lone tarnished song on the album. The lyrics, as on the entire album, are excellent. But the beat is anemic and amateurish, not at all indicative of D. Green’s talents. And the melody simply doesn’t exist.

“Ingenuity” is the second track, and it exudes flamboyance held under careful control. Green’s strong tenor voice complements the song’s throbbing beat. The arrangement is spot-on and whoever mixed it at Full Tilt Productions deserves a round of applause. “Ingenuity” is the perfect musical vehicle for the Top 40 playlist. It’s that good.

Another song, probably the best on the album, should also rapidly climb the charts of Pop Music. It’s called “Like This,” and features the crystal clear falsetto of LoVel during the chorus, a chorus that can only be described as Wow! What makes the chorus so wonderful is the harmony achieved by Green and LoVel in conjunction with the melody, which is simply beautiful. It’s a love song that manages to circumvent the usual saccharine clichés and cloying schmaltziness associated with hip hop romance.

“Still” resembles an amalgamation of dub-step, hip hop and electronic dance music. It’s ambitious and original, containing an innovative beat that borders on the ultramodern.

The final track on For the F.E.W. is “It’s Simple,” a straight forward hip hop tune that features the poignant vocals of Katie Frost. “It’s Simple” is a song about remaining true to oneself and one’s roots even in the midst of fame and fortune. Ms. Frost’s voice invests the song with a sense of douceur de vivre, the sweetness of life. During the chorus, her solitary crooning provides listeners with great satisfaction because of its purity.

For the F.E.W, by design or by talent, seems preordained for popularity. It’s mainstream, but doesn’t sound commercial. In other words, it’s not industrial hip hop, the typical overly-stylized rubbish that seems to currently dominate the genre. For the F.E.W. is an excellent album that should appeal to everyone.

 

Aradia’s Citizen of Earth

in Music by
Citizen of Earth

CD Review:  Citizen of Earth / Aradia

Style:  Electronic, Rock, Pop, Electronic Dance Music

Reviewed by Randy Radic

Born and raised in New York City, Aradia demonstrated a penchant for music at an early age, taking up the piano when 3-years-old.  She mastered the flute, followed by the guitar by the time she was 14.  Trained as a classical musician, she decided to give rock n’ roll a try, playing the New York club scene in Some Band.

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Later, Aradia hooked up with Wirth Lawson.  They moved to Atlanta, where they formed a band called Twelfth Planet, which eventually opened for Muse.  Aradia elected to go solo, and re-located to Seattle, where she recently released her full-length album, Citizen of Earth.  The album is electronic-rock, analogous to Florence and the Machine and/or Lady Gaga.  Aradia’s voice is potent enough and distinctive enough that it may be likened to the crème de la crème of today’s female vocalists without fear of embarrassment.

Citizen of Earth is all Aradia, who sings, plays the synthesizer and piano, programs the drum machine and handles general production; which speaks volumes – both good and bad.  For half the album is excellent, while the other half comes across as amateurish and substandard, especially when juxtaposed with the sensational half.  It’s almost as if the slipshod songs are just fillers, added to round out the demands of a full album.

“Trouble,” the first track on the album, is arguably the prize, although convincing arguments could be made for either “Today” or “On Fire.”  All three tunes fit comfortably in the electronic-rock category. “Trouble” boasts dazzling harmonies and an infectious beat, while “Today” features catchy lyrics, superb phrasing and a captivating, pulsing beat dominated by the extended snare drum.  On the third track, “On Fire,” Aradia gets to show off the sheer puissance of her vocal chords, which are delightfully supercharged.

Any of the first three tracks should find a home on the Pop charts, along with “M-Class,” with its hypnotic beat and Aradia’s femme fatale crooning, demonstrating why Odysseus had to be tied to the mast of his ship.  The other two winners on the album are “Keep On,” a song that opens poorly with smarmy Oriental plucking, but then settles into a vigorously enthusiastic tempo; and “So Long,” a love song that reminds listeners of Sade.

The remaining five tracks are replete with inane lyrics, unwieldy beats and anemic arrangements.  They are unimpressive and calcified.

Despite the enervated tracks, Citizen of Earth is a wonderful album, with six dazzling tracks.  Aradia’s voice reflects an overpowering resonance that diminishes the album’s weaknesses to mere afterthoughts.

Check out the video for On Fire

 

 

 

CD Review: ‘Any Other Way’ by RxGF

in Music by
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CD Review:  ‘Any Other Way’ by RxGF

Style:  Indie, Dark Wave, Electro, Alternative

Reviewed by Randy Radic

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RxGF hails from Seattle.  RxGF is short-hand for Radioactive X Girlfriend, which sounds like something out of a bad 1950s sci-fi flick.  And RxGF’s music would definitely work as the soundtrack for a sci-fi movie, although it would necessarily be much more modern, like Blade Runner or Minority Report; some dark and surreally futuristic movie by Philip K. Dick, because there is a dark edge to RxGF’s sound, along with a strong Space Opera essence.  The best way to describe is like this:  Nine Inch Nails does electro-pop, which sounds pretty strange but it works.

RxGF’s new album is called Any Other Way.  It’s their third album, and has been nominated for a number of awards.

Reviewers tend to compare RxGF to Siouxie and the Banshees, which is an apt analogy.  Angeline Schaaf, who sings lead vocals for RxGF, sounds similar to Siouxie Sioux.  Schaaf’s voice has the same too-many-cigarettes, whiskey-soaked quality to it.  According to rumor, John Morgan Reilly, who is the creative spirit behind RxGF, spent an entire year auditioning vocalists before he stumbled upon Schaaf’s gravelly tones.  It’s one of those voices that prove the analogous aesthetic doctrine:  the tighter the discipline of an art form, the more subjective the criteria of taste.  In other words, there’s a harsh-texture energy to Schaaf’s voice that should disqualify it, but doesn’t.  In fact, just the opposite.  For some inexplicable reason, her voice is agreeable and entertaining.

The album’s title track shoulders influences from both Gothic and mechanical rock, plunging forward with guitars and synthesizers that provide a grainy tension.  Schaaf’s voice rides over the music with a rasping quixotic quality that is delightful and superb.  The tarnish in her voice stretches the musical canvas, leaving it taut with advantage.

The other tracks on the album demonstrate still other influences, which allow RxGF to avoid the isolating dungeon of monotony.  “How to Make It” is nothing short of heavy industrialized rock n’ roll; the kind engineered to thump and pound with metallic undertones.  Dark Wave sways through “We Will Not be Denied” and “Flesh and Bone,” while “Never Felt So Good” affects a pulsing, tinny electro-pop inspiration.

The drumming on the album, which is live and not a machine, deserves mention.  Reilly plays the drums and his style is bellicose and uncompromising.  It’s the hard-hitting, techno-pop version of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin fame.  The combination of Reilly’s throbbing drums and Schaaf’s alcohol-soaked tones produce anomalous responses that are complementary – the perfect union of two distinct sounds:  drums and voice.

Any Other Way should more than satisfy the most discriminating listener even those put off by electro-pop will find tracks worth their time.  RxGF has delivered an inventive album that is modern without straying too far out of the mainstream.

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