Episodes

#229: I Am The Spirit

iamthespiritpodcastgraphic_fkc5p8.png

In this episode, I talked with Sam Spaiser of I Am The Spirit about working with producer Kyle Black (Pierce The Veil, Paramore), his new song, how he got started, and more!

Check out I Am The Spirit’s new song Onward & Upward here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4Wvnm3pYAasHLQoeJXExwx Follow I Am The Spirit on socials: @iatspirit 

How much do streaming services pay bands?

How much do music-streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music actually pay artists?

Spotify doesn't pay artists enough

By Sofija Matonis

With intro by Noelle Matonis

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This time of year, with many people posting and sharing their Spotify Wrapped on social media, (stats of their most streamed artists, songs, etc.), many artists and musicians are spreading the word that Spotify and other music- streaming services do not actually pay them a living wage, especially for smaller bands and artists.

 

Jawbreaker is among the many bands who are taking a stand against music-streaming services like Spotify when it comes to revenue. They recommend listening on their bandcamp page or purchasing physical copies from music stores or their website. The image is a twist on a promotional tactic Spotify used where users can create a fake festival lineup made up of their favorite artists.

To get the most up-to-date data on this topic, I conducted a survey to see what bands and artists had to say about how streaming services affect their revenue. See the results here.

One of our guest writers, Sofija, did some research as well.

 

Sofija Matonis, Guest Writer:

According to the New York Times, 83% of recorded music revenue is generated through streaming services, yet, we wonder how much our listens account for in artists’ paychecks. Typically, they accumulate less than a living wage.

 

Bands and musicians make most of their money at gigs, according to bandtheme.com, but many have suffered income losses due to the pandemic preventing concerts for over a year. With online performances, many musicians did not have ways of marketing their performance for money, and hence, royalties from streaming services persist.

 

Even immensely popular bands such as U2 and Metallica make most of their earnings from tours, and only a fraction is squeezed from streaming. According to Business Insider, only 4% of U2’s income (the largest grossing musical act in 2017) came from streaming, whereas 52 million dollars were earned through touring. Streaming services are not considerable money earners for  star musicians, and those local bands trying to make their start are not about to experience a financial boom for those twenty listeners on their first single.

 

Spotify’s terms and conditions state it will not generate any money directly from artists’ music.

Spotify does not claim any ownership rights in the User Content you post to Spotify for Artists,” says the streaming services terms and conditions. There are no fees to post User Content, nor are deals offered based upon the artist. Although it claims monetary gains belong to the rights holders for the music, no mention of payment is anywhere promised in the agreement.

 

Though hazy in its promises to pay artists for their music, Spotify is the most popular streaming service in the world, with 350 million users, according to CNN. The service amassed more revenue in 2021 than it had in all the combined previous years of its existence, according to Loudersound.com. Spotify’s rate does not pay artists directly, but the music’s rights holders, who themselves distribute the earnings after Spotify takes their own share.

 

SoundCloud’s streaming agreement is far more clear in its conditions and its promise to artists’ rights.

 

You receive a pro rata share of 55% of net revenue,” states SoundCloud’s terms of agreement. “You are paid for each calendar month within 45 days of the end of that month, regardless of how much you earn.”

 

“Your money goes to the exact artists you listen to,” says Soundcloud’s website.

 

However, to receive “fan-powered royalties,” an artist must subscribe to Next Pro. The only free option on Next Pro limits track uploads to three hours, and the paid subscriptions range from $2.50 to $8 and up. Hypothetically, if an artist had less than three hours uploaded on the free Next Pro service, they could make profit for every listen. However, if they want to upload more music, and they do not receive enough streams to cover the subscription bill, the artist has to pick up the tab.

 

According to the New York Times, the money machine works like this: all revenue from subscribers or ads is held in one “pot,” regardless of who listened to what and when, and this said “pot” is then divided by total number streams for the entire month. One artist receiving 10% of all streams for one month means 10% earned for that artist. One artist receiving 0.000000000000001% of all listens for that month earns 0.000000000000001% of Spotify’s monthly intake. Hence, many artists feel this machine favors trending or popular artists and leaves niche ones in the dust.

 

The system has another major flaw. Song length and time listened have no traction here. A 17-minute masterpiece equals a three-minute pop hit under this system. The only thing that counts is listens-to-artist ratio. Hypothetically then, assuming each fan runs through each track on an album the same number of times, album A of 60 one-minute songs can gain more percentage points in Spotify’s “pot” than the five twelve-minute songs on album B. For aspiring artists on Spotify, the hopes of breaking big lie in either achieving massive popularity cranking out songs fans are willing to submit themselves to on repeat, or hoping Spotify attains more subscription funds through price hikes, advertisements, or otherwise. But for those with trust in the dedication of their cult fanbases, there is Tidal.

 

The lesser known streaming service, Tidal, pays artists directly using funds from subscribers to its “Hi-Fi Plus Tier,” where subscribers’ highest listened artist of the month receives all of your subscription funds, according to Loudersound.com. Tidal provides the number of listens comparative to your most listened artist in case subscribers feel sympathy for other bands. This subscription, however, costs just $2, according to Tidal’s website.

 

By no means does Tidal’s direct payment provide a salary for musicians based on streaming alone. Assuming a constant number one position on listeners accounts, small-time acts have no hope of subsisting on Tidal for wages.

 

America’s average rent is $1,326, according to wordpopulationreview.com, while the UK’s London average is $1017.45 in US dollars, according to spareroom.co.uk. Averaging these to $1171.73, Tidal’s monthly $2 contribution won’t mean much split between the average four band members, assuming each lives in a separate apartment, unless you are one of 2,343 or so superfans hoping to help their favorite American or London artist make rent.

 

Apple music averages their payments to rights holders to one cent per listen. With 468,692 listens, they too can afford the same rent–that is, if the band themselves are the sole rights owners and are not under obligation to pay off major label companies, producers, etcetera.

 

According to Pitchfork, Last year, the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) organized protests at Spotify offices around the world. UMAW’s “Justice at Spotify” campaign was launched in reaction to the economic hardship of the pandemic, as Spotify’s company value has tripled, while payouts to artists haven’t changed. Musicians want a penny per stream payout format, but Spotify’s director of economics argued such a model would not provide the company revenue from less-popular artists.

 

It is no surprise then, that artists typically make most of their earnings from physical copies, merch, or gigs. 

 

Sources:

Average Rent by State 2022

https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/average-rent-by-state2

Average Rent in London

https://m.spareroom.co.uk/content/info-landlords/average-rent-london

Bands and Musicians: Making Money from Music in 2022

Coe, Dan

https://bandtheme.com/bands-and-musicians-making-money-from-your-music-in-2022/

How do musicians make money

Delfino, Devon

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-do-musicians-make-money-2018-10?amp

Best music streaming services in 2022

Garrett, Ural

https://www.cnn.com/cnn-underscored/reviews/best-music-streaming-service#:~:text=Spotify%20is%20the%20most%20popular,users%20and%20150%20million%20subscribers.

Which music streaming service pays artists the most?

May, Steve

https://www.loudersound.com/features/which-music-streaming-service-pays-artists-the-most

Musicians Organize Global Protests at Spotify Offices

Ruiz, Matthew Ismael 

https://pitchfork.com/news/musicians-organize-global-protests-at-spotify-offices/

Musicians Say Streaming Doesn’t Pay. Can the Industry Change?

Sisario, Ben

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/07/arts/music/streaming-music-payments.html

Clarifying the SoundCloud Premier agreement

SoundCloud

https://blog.soundcloud.com/2018/10/29/clarifying-soundcloud-premier-agreement/amp/

SoundCloud

https://checkout.soundcloud.com/artist?cpv=r

SoundCloud

https://help.soundcloud.com/hc/en-us/articles/1260801306810-Fan-powered-Royalties-FAQs

SoundCloud

https://legacy-community.soundcloud.com/fanpoweredroyalties

Spotify for Artists Terms and Conditions

Spotify

https://www.spotify.com/us/legal/spotify-for-artists-terms-and-conditions/

#228: Brendan B. Brown of Wheatus

Noelle talks with Brendan B. Brown of Wheatus about the backstory of “Teenage Dirtbag”, his favorite Wheatus album, new music, Wheatus’s contribution to Starstruck: A Tribute to The Kinks, and more!

My experience at When We Were Young Festival

My experience at When We Were Young Festival by Kevin Andrew

What the fest was really like

By guest writer: Kevin Andrew of Guardrail

Photos by: Kevin Andrew

Bayside performing at WWWY in Las Vegas. Photo: Kevin Andrew

Bayside performing at WWWY in Las Vegas. Photo: Kevin Andrew

When the When We Were Young Festival was announced early this year, I was blown away. It was almost every emo band I’ve loved since high school playing the same festival in one day in Vegas. It took me back to my early Warped Tour days. While I feel like most people were stoked on it, I noticed so much negativity in the comments section, and I really wasn’t sure why. I ended up going to the fest, and now that it’s been a few weeks, I want to reflect on my
experience and touch on the negativity.

My girlfriend Larissa & I flew in late Wednesday night. With the festival being Saturday, we met up with friends & wandered Vegas. On Friday night we attended one of the WWWY late-night shows at Brooklyn Bowl. It started with Strange 90s, which was a cover band with different all-star singers basically doing live-band karaoke (including Jaret Reddick, Stephen Christian, Ronnie Winters, & more), ending with Goldfinger coming out to play a couple songs. This was followed by sets from The Summer Set, Sleeping With Sirens, & one of my favorite bands Story Of The Year. It was a great show, got me even more stoked for the next day.

 

Wind

Saturday morning we met up with friends staying at the Sahara, which was walking distance to the festival grounds. We all JUST met up in the lobby when we got word that the festival was unfortunately canceled for the day. Due to high winds in the area all day clocking in at 40-60 mph, the fire marshal shut it down. Since we were already nearby, we walked over to the grounds and could see how bad the wind was. I’m from the Windy City so let me tell you, it was ROUGH. Dust and debris were flying around everywhere. I saw things falling off construction sites. By mid afternoon there was so much dust in the sky we could no longer see the mountains. As bummed out as I was, it was definitely the right call.

Me (Kevin) getting blown away by the wind

Me (Kevin) getting blown away by the wind

This left tens of thousands of misplaced emos loose in Las Vegas trying to find other things to do, drown their sorrows, & make the best of it. Many bands did not want the day to go to waste, securing pop-up shows all over Vegas. The All-American Rejects played in a restaurant. Hawthorne Heights, Armor For Sleep, & The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus did an acoustic show at the Strat hotel. Senses Fail, Bayside, & Thursday played together at the Sand Dollar on Freemont St. The only downside of this was there were thousands of people trying to
get into these small 400-cap rooms. Regardless, it was a beautiful thing to see.

 

Shane Told’s Hotel Suite

So what did I end up doing? If you’re not familiar with the Lead Singer Syndrome podcast, it’s by Shane Told of Silverstein where he interviews lead singers. Due to being in the podcast’s Patreon group, I’ve gotten to know Shane a bit. Since he knew I was there for the fest, he hit me up saying he was going to bring anyone from the Patreon group that met up at 4:45 PM to his hotel suite, surprising them with an intimate acoustic set. He asked if I wanted to play too, to which I absolutely agreed (although I’d been drinking since 10:30 AM and had no time to rehearse). So I ended up playing some tunes to about 45 people in a Vegas hotel room alongside Shane. It was an experience that I’ll never forget.

Shane Told's hotel suite

Shane Told’s hotel suite Photo: Kevin Andrew

Day 2

By Sunday morning, the weather was looking much better & the WWWY socials posted that the second date of the festival was good to go. Luckily for me, one of my friends got a photo pass and no longer needed her Sunday ticket. She gave us her ticket, so Larissa & I figured we could just take turns going into the fest. I went in first around 1:00. The entrance had pink turf and a big entryway with the festival’s logo on it, for the perfect photo opportunity. I went right over to the Checker Stage to watch Story Of The Year. A sea of thousands of people singing the words to “Until The Day I Die” was insane to be part of. I caught Anberlin and a song of Armor For Sleep before I ran out to meet Larissa.

When We Were Young festival entrance with pink turf

WWWY entrance Photo: Kevin Andrew

I carefully peeled off my re-entry wristband, gave it to her, and she went in to catch Pierce The Veil. I strolled over to Circus Circus to grab some whiskey shooters, a PBR tallboy & a huge pretzel. You could hear the bands playing from the street, so I wandered over there to enjoy my lunch while listening to PTV, The Used, & AFI, striking up conversation with some others doing the same thing. Larissa met back up with me after The Maine. She was able to get her hands on another re-entry wristband, which she gave to me and we both ended up getting in. We watched A Day To Remember, The All-American Rejects, & Avril Lavigne together. She went to watch some of Bring Me The Horizon while I caught some Alkaline Trio before we had to head to the airport.

 

Negative Comments Addressed

Overall, this was a great festival. Despite the first date unfortunately getting shut down, the second date was a pretty standard festival experience. Being it was the first year, there were obviously some minor things that I’m sure they’ll fix for next year. But I didn’t see any real issues. The bands all sounded great. The layout was decent so getting from stage to stage was pretty easy. There were plenty of restrooms and water stations. There were a lot of food vendors, who also had vegan and gluten-free labels on their signs. It really did not deserve the social media hate that it got. I want to address some of the common negative comments I saw:

● “60 bands in one day? How is that possible??” Do you not remember Warped Tour where they did this in 50 cities over the summer?

● “A lot of bands didn’t know they were even playing!” Not true. The bands did not initially know the full lineup. I heard the same story come from multiple bands that they were asked to play a festival in Vegas with MCR, so they were simply surprised to see the full lineup. Most of these bands have a booking agent who handles these things anyway.

● “It’s gonna be like Fyre Fest!” That shitshow was by an actual con artist with zero music festival experience, leaving rich people stranded on an island with little to no resources. WWWY is in downtown Las Vegas. Clearly this is a wild comparison.

● “This is the same people that did Astroworld!” Livenation did put that festival on, yes. But they also run and operate dozens of music venues and festivals across the country. This is like saying that the employees at House of Blues are the ‘same people that did Astroworld’ because it’s a Livenation venue.

These people would rather start with negativity so they can say “I told you so!” if something goes wrong, instead of being happy that such an event is happening. Why is that? I could never imagine living your life that way. Even when the first date was canceled, I saw a lot of “I knew it was a scam!” comments & posts. The tickets were being refunded (I got my refund about a week later), the bands were all there & still were at least paid something, the stages were all set up and ready to go. If anything, the festival LOST money that day. The last thing they wanted was a stage blowing over causing injury or death, especially after the whole Astroworld fiasco.

Also, only one band dropped from the initial announcement, and it was due to illness, nothing to do with the fest itself. Wouldn’t more bands have dropped if it was really a “scam”? I think after Fyre, Astroworld, the recent Woodstock ‘99 documentary, people not attending these events are just begging for another trainwreck to laugh at, which is so gross when people’s careers, well-being, & lives are at stake. Anthony Raneri of Bayside put it best when he tweeted: “Why is everyone acting like the largest promoter in the world and like 60 veteran bands are just winging this?” Exactly.

 

Overall thoughts

Having almost 2 years without live music, attending something like this was a wonderful experience. In a post-Warped world, seeing all those bands playing together was a wild ride for both fans & the bands (I saw a video of Bert from The Used saying something like “this is like Warped Tour on steroids!”). So the moral of the story is that there’s no use being bitter like that, especially when it’s about something that doesn’t even affect you. Just stay home and move on. The dates that didn’t get canceled were successful, so what was gained from the negativity?

They already announced the lineup for next year’s fest (with Green Day & blink-182 headlining), as well as the nü-metal-heavy Sick New World Festival in May with System Of A Down. Hoping that the weather doesn’t stop those from also being successful. Stay happy, see you there!

Sick New World Festival lineup

Sick New World festival lineup

Kevin Andrew

Lead Vocalist of Guardrail/Pop-Punk & Pizza Contributor

Listen to the Pop-Punk & Pizza podcast on YouTube, Spotify, and anywhere else you get podcasts!

New UK band RiotWeekend release debut EP

New UK Band RiotWeekend release self-titled deput EP

RiotWeekend , a fairly new pop-punk band from Guildford, Surrey in the UK, have released their self-titled debut album today! Recently, they’ve released their first single off the EP, “Never Again”. I’ll be reviewing the EP track-by-track.

  1. Drip Feed

This song starts out with a grungy melancholy 80’s-sounding guitar, then the feedback transitions into ripping guitars reminiscent of The Used and Pencey Prep. Then, unexpectedly, Holly Nunn’s ethereal, mysterious, melodic vocals come in. Her soothing voice contrasts with heavy guitars and drums, yet they compliment each other nicely. If you enjoy grunge, punk, post-hardcore and emo influences, then you will definitely like this song.

2. Fine

This is one of those songs that as soon as it starts, you know it’s going to be a banger. The guitar is energetic and exciting throughout the whole song. The vocals remind me a little of Hayley Williams from Paramore, however, lack some punch in my opinion. This is definitely an angry song, which you can hear in the music and the lyrics, and I just wish the vocals had more of that emotion. The bridge gets heavier, which I Iove. The chorus is anthemic and makes you want to headbang and/or jump around, so I think this would be a great song live. I thought Drip Feed would be my favorite song on the EP, but then I listened to this one and I think I might like it more.

3. Never Again

This song starts out with a definite early 2000’s “Skater boi” by Avril Lavigne vibe. Personally, I feel the bridge and ending is a little meh. It takes me back to bridges that were common in early 2000’s pop-punk. It just kind of gets higher and then ends pretty predictably. If it was intentionally made to have this nostalgic sound, then they got it spot-on. It just wasn’t clear enough to me whether it was intentional or not, so I feel like they could’ve either made it more obvious or taken more risks, rather than just copying the style of this kind of music.

4. Sleep Song

This gives me a bit of a party song vibe. It builds as it begins, and then goes into a catchy chant. Again, I think the vocals are technically great, however, they just lack a certain punch or emotion that the music envokes. However, I think this is a good closing song, because it’s fun and dancy and has closure as it fades at the end.

Overall, I think this is a good first EP, and I especially like the first two songs, “Drip Feed” and “Fine”. They are both punky, energetic, and make me want to move. I think the vocals work the best in the first song, because they act as a good contrast to the heavier guitars and drums. However, in the rest of the songs, I feel like the vocals don’t match the same energy and emotion that the music envokes. It just needs a little more oomph. I think RiotWeekend has a lot of potential, and this was a good first start. I hope to hear more from them as they evolve as a band.

You can listen to the RiotWeekend EP here.

You can find RiotWeekend on:

Instagram

Facebook

YouTube

Twitter

 

Noelle Matonis

Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast Host

Instagram: @noelleturtlez16

Twitter: @noellewiththe_e

 

L.S. Dunes ‘Past Lives’ album review

L.S. Dunes – Past Lives album review: fresh and rippin’

 

L.S. Dunes band photo by Mark Beemer

From left to right: Tim Payne, Tucker Rule, Frank Iero, Anthony Green and Travis Stever (Photo by Mark Beemer)

L.S. Dunes is a supergroup of sorts comprised of My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero, Circa Survive and Saosin vocalist Anthony Green, Thursday drummer Tucker Rule, bassist Tim Payne, and Coheed & Cambria guitarist Travis Stever. The band has explained that “L.S.” mainly stands for “love songs for lost souls”; however, the lyrics of their song “Grey Veins” reveal even more possible meanings of the two letters (We’ll get to that later). L.S. Dunes released their debut album Past Lives, last Friday, Nov 11. The album synergizes the sounds of each member’s styles, and sounds fresh at the same time. The genre can overall be described as post-hardcore, but it also sounds new and unique from what other post-hardcore acts have done in the past.

Many of the lyrics are about dealing with the effects of the pandemic. From reading the lyric booklet, I can see that they are very poetic and intentional as well, which is something I love to see in music. In short, it is a totally rockin’, rippin’ album.

Past Lives album art

Here is my review of each song on Past Lives.

1. 2022

As with a typical post-hardcore song, 2022 starts out already swinging. Then it slows down when it gets to the chorus, and becomes almost dreamy before going hard again. The bridge is intense and suspenseful; I can imagine it playing at a point in a movie when someone is running away, trying to reach whatever their ultimate checkpoint is. It goes out with a bang and ends with faint, mysterious piano.

2. Antibodies

Antibodies starts out with a solid melody. It’s definitely something you’ll want to bop your head to. It’s a little more upbeat-sounding than 2022. It still has a twinge of sadness to it with the guitar though.

3. Grey Veins

This is one of my favorites on the album. LOVE the bassline this starts out with. The vocals in the beginning are soaring and ethereal. I LOVE the chorus too–It’s something I can specifically picture Frank Iero writing and singing, even though he’s not singing on this album. However, he did sing the some of the chorus when they performed it live at Riot Fest in Chicago in September. That might be part of why I can picture it; but it’s not just that. It reminds me of a song on one of his solo albums, like Barriers (2019). Anyway, it’s very vibey and kinda chill, but not too chill, like you can still rock out to it. I’ll probably have it on repeat. In addition, the lyrics give more possible meanings to the acronym “L.S.”, such as: laughing stock, limitless song, loveless sour, leave so long, etc., and then does it reversed: “separated line, sensing less, so long”, etc. I like how the lyrics are so intentional and almost cryptic, in a way you have to think about what they mean; because you don’t get that very often these days.

4. Like Forever

Starts out with great screamed vocals. As with all the songs, the layered guitars compliment each other very well. The bass is also audible in every song, which I appreciate, because this is not always the case with other artists/bands. It’s not a track that stands out to me compared to the other ones, but it’s good and cohesive with the other songs.

5. Blender

The guitar melody in the beginning is almost bluesy, but emo at the same time, and makes me picture someone in an empty bar, looking out the window. I know that’s very specific, but I’m just trying to paint a picture here. It’s a good song to listen to while you contemplate your life.

6. Past Lives

This one starts out more upbeat and faster than the last one. The bass is especially clear on this one in the beginning, and there is something mysterious and almost alien-synth about the guitar. It transitions into the chorus nicely and makes you want to bop your head along to it. “I know we can get well,” is one of the lyrics on this one that stands out to me, and the lyrics on this one are overall encouraging. Then the guitar sounds kind of violin-y, which is interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a guitar sound like that before, if that even is a guitar, but I think it’s cool.

7. It Takes Time

This one starts out with a beachy sounding guitar. The guitar on the pre-chorus reminds me a little of “Aberdeen” by Cage The Elephant, and kind of has that vibe on the bridge as well. It’s kind of eerie in a way.

8. Bombsquad

I love how the guitar on this one starts out. Definitely another head-bopper. This is one of my favorites on the album. I really like the licks of the lead guitar as well as the fast strumming of the rhythm guitar on the verses. The chorus is a jam too.

9. Grifter

This one is really cool on the pre-chorus as well as the chorus. It’s dramatic and epic with the echoey vocals and then the transition to the heightened excitement.  I mean, the whole song is really cool. I love the screams and the dramatic drums on the bridge–it’s almost something that could be on The Black Parade. It’s not quite that vibe, but it is a really cool and epic song in my opinion, almost rallying.

10. Permanent Rebellion

This is my favorite song on the album. First, there’s a sound that reminds me of .Stomachaches. by frank iero and the cellabration. The bassline in the beginning reminds me a little of the one in “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid” by My Chem; and the fast drums build the excitement, and remind me of the drums in the beginning of “Stay Away” by Nirvana. So naturally, it’s my favorite. It’s catchy and I LOVE the screams on this one. The chorus is thrashy and you can definitely headbang to it. I really hope I get to see this one live sometime (I wanted to see their set at Riot Fest but unfortunately was held hostage by the secret service, but that’s a story for another day). It’s energetic and lets you get some of your anger out.

12. Sleep Cult

This is the slowest one on the album, and my least favorite, because I don’t typically like slow songs, but it does do a good job of closing out the album. It’s got a doo-wop thing to it, and it’s kind of like a slow-dance song. But the dark lyrics contrast that sound: “Sorry that I wish that I was dead.”

Overall, I love the screamed vocals, the layered guitars, the strong clear bass, and the exciting drums on this album. I also really like the lyrics and I can tell they put a lot of thought into them, which I appreciate. I will have songs from this album on repeat, like Permanent Rebellion and Grey Veins, which are my favorites. Bombsquad and Grifter are really cool too. I would definitely recommend this album, especially if you like post-hardcore, emo, alternative, grunge, hard rock, or screamo. There are elements of all those genres on this album, and at the same time, it sounds fresh and different. Congrats to the band for working hard on this album and making it sound awesome! I love it.

Listen to Past Lives here or anywhere you get music.

You can find L.S. Dunes on:     Instagram      Facebook      Twitter      YouTube      Tik Tok

L.S. Dunes are performing at Corona Capital in Mexico City, Mexico next (11/18).

L.S. Dunes tour dates

L.S. Dunes tour dates

If you got this far, here’s a bonus photo of me with Frank Iero at Riot Fest (AAAHHH!!)

Me with Frank Iero at Riot Fest!!!

Noelle Matonis

Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast Host

Instagram: @noelleturtlez16

Twitter: @noellewiththe_e

#227: Big Drink

bigdrinkbandphoto.png

On Noelle’s first episode as the host of Pop-Punk & Pizza, she talks with Big Drink, a heavy pop-punk band from the UK, about their new EP, “It Was Supposed To Be So Easy”. (Photo credit: Big Drink)

Palaye Royale Fever Dream Review: You will cry and dance

Palaye Royale Fever Dream album cover

Palaye Royale ‘s new album, Fever Dream, was released today (10/28) on Sumerian Records.

A track-by-track review of Palaye Royale ‘s new album Fever Dream

Palaye Royale released their new album Fever Dream today! I’ve listened to the singles that came out before the album, but today is the first time I’ve listened to the rest of the songs, and I can already say it has my vote for album of the year.  If you like My Chemical Romance and/or the White Stripes, and/or kick-ass music, you will love Palaye Royale. Perhaps their most ambitious album, it has sounds from their first couple albums, Boom Boom Room Side A (2016) and Boom Boom Room Side B (2018), some sounds from their 2020 album, The Bastards, and synergizes it with a whole new sound. It has big concept album vibes, including MCR’s The Black Parade (2006) vibes, that will make you both cry and dance. It is the kind of music that hits you in the soul, takes you for a ride and makes you want to scream, “YESSS!!!”

In this review, I will be going into my first impressions of the newly released songs on the album, as well as  commentary on the already-released songs.

 

Tracks 1&2: Eternal Life (Intro) & Eternal Life

The intro starts out with a mellow guitar that ellicits a certain feeling to get you into the mood. After the intro, the ripping guitars kick in. The guitars in this song remind me a lot of the guitars on “Sleep” from MCR’s The Black Parade, which Palaye Royale frontman Remington Leith has stated was his favorite MCR album, so it makes sense. This is definitely one of my favorites on the album. The bridge starts out with some wicked guitars, and then changes it’s melody a few times, which was unexpected, and kind of caught me off guard. However, I definitely feel like that part will grow on me the more I listen to it. Plus, songs that are too predictable usually aren’t as good anyway. And if you know me, you probably already guessed that I love the screamed vocals on this song.

Track 3: No Love In LA

This was the first single Palaye Royale released from Fever Dream, back in the summer, and it is still a bop. Plus, now I see how it fits into the album. Because of this single, I thought the album was going to be more pop than their other albums, which it is, but it’s also a mix of that with rock and a big concept-album feel. This song is catchy and ends with an eerie orchestra of violins, which makes it tie in more with the rest of the album. Also, I just realized as I was typing this that the violin outro kind of reminds me of the outro to “Mama” from The Black Parade. There will be more mentions of that album in this review, just sayin.’

Track 4: Punching Bag

“Punching Bag” is another single that was released before the album around the same time as “No Love In LA”. It has eerie and dramatic vibes, and the lyrics have a sarcastic tone to the person who is treating the narrator like a punching bag. I originally liked this one more than No Love In LA, because it’s darker and has more screamed vocals; however now I don’t know because they’re both great.

Track 5: Broken

Not one of my favorites on the album; it’s more pop-sounding and one of the slower tempo songs. However, it’s still good, especially if you prefer those kind of songs. It’s sad as well–actually, pretty much all of the songs on this album are sad in some way.

Track 6: Fever Dream

This was a single released very close to the album’s release. When I first listened to it, I cried a little, not gonna lie. It immediately reminded me of “Welcome To The Black Parade”, because of it’s concept-album sound. That essence is difficult to describe, but what I mean is that it’s big/grandiose/epic. If you just listen to it, you’ll understand. It also reminds me a little of the melody/chorus in “The Only Hope for Me is You” from MCR’s Danger Days (2010).

Track 7: Line It Up

The piano in the beginning is very reminiscent of Michael Andrews and Gary Jules’ cover of “Mad World” originally by Tears For Fears. Interestingly, Palaye Royale has also covered that song. The lyrics of “Line It Up” hit close to home for the band, according to some of their posts on Instagram. They have mentioned that the lyrics talk about the hardships they are going through on the road, being in the band, and in their life right now. This song features vocals from LP, which is an artist I haven’t heard of before, but the addition of their higher-pitched vocals go very well in harmony with Remington’s lower voice.

Track 8: Toxic In You

This song sounds pretty upbeat, despite its lyrics, and I personally think it would be good to listen to while working out. It’s not as memorable as the other songs, and it’s also the shortest one on the album, being 2 mins 20 sec. It’s a solid jam though.

Track 9: Wasted Sorrow

Wasted Sorrow takes me back to their first two albums with The Stooges-like garage-rock sound. It also includes some “Sleep”- sounding guitars in the beginning and chorus. It’s an eerie addition to this otherwise upbeat-sounding song. It’s pretty energetic and it’s one of the best songs on this album in my opinion.

Track 10: Paranoid

This was another single released before the album, and I really do love this one. It’s not my favorite, but it’s catchy and it makes you want to sing along to it. It also has a good build-up to the dramatic bridge, and then calms down again before heading back into the catchy chorus.

Track 11: Oblivion

Grab some tissues for this one, you might need ’em. This is the slowest and most ballad-y song on this album. It’s still good, just not one of my favorites, because I don’t typically like slow songs. But the lyrics are relatable, interesting, and from the heart, as with every song on the album.

Track 12: Lifeless Stars

The ordering of this track after Oblivion works well in my opinion, because this is also a slower song. Although, I like it better. It’s very calming and something about the melody and the drums makes it a little more upbeat. Come to think of it, I don’t believe Oblivion has drums on it.

Track 13: King of the Damned

This one will definitely make you want to dance and jump. Another one of my favorites. Gives me chills. I love it, and I hope they play it live at their future shows; I think it would be great live. It has a good stomping beat and it’s very energetic. Also, good distant screams in the background of the bridge. Definitely an anthem.

Track 14: Off With The Head

This gave me chills all the way through the song. If you thought “King of the Damned” was good, you’ll love this one too, maybe even more. This also has a good stomping beat and a quality that makes you want to shout the lyrics along with it. It also has some great distorted White-Stripes-like guitar. In addition, it totally reminds me so much of “Kiss The Ring” from one of MCR’s Conventional Weapons (2013) EPs. It ends abruptly and then goes into the outro. I really wish there was more to this song because it’s so great, and the outro is basically a completely different song altogether. I feel like it needed more closure.

Track 15: Off With The Head (Outro)

Not entirely sure why this one didn’t just get it’s own title, because as I said, it sounds completely different from the previous song and has a completely different vibe. However, it’s definitely a closing song; it’s slow and fades out at the end, with the lyrics repeating. It lets you chill out after you’ve been dancing like a crazy person to the last two songs. It also reminds me a little of Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia”, not because of the melody or the sound of it, but because of the way it transitions from the last song and changes tempo from fast to slow. This was just my first impression, but I kind of hoped it would’ve closed out with a little more “oomph” rather than just fading out. But maybe my opinion will change after more listens.

Palaye Royale Fever Dream In Conclusion

Overall, this album is cohesive and the order of the songs flow as well. The lyrics are also very relatable. It is a different sound from Palaye Royale’s past albums, but definitely still sounds like the band. My favorite album of theirs is still The Bastards (2018), because every single song on that album rips and is a favorite, but I love this one a lot.

You can really tell that Palaye Royale poured their heart and soul into this album, working to make sure it was what they wanted it to be. They really cared about making this the best they could, and it shows. I will definitely continue listening to this amazing album.

I was going to rank the songs, but it was too hard, so I’ll just tell you my favorites: “Eternal Life”, “Off With The Head”, “King of the Damned”, “Wasted Sorrow”, “No Love In LA”, and “Punching Bag”.

Palaye Royale is so underrated and if you haven’t already, listen to me. YOU NEED TO CHECK THEM OUT!!!

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One date left on North American tour: Nov 6 in LA

 

Next up is European & UK Tour

Noelle Matonis

Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast Host

Instagram: @noelleturtlez16

Twitter: @noellewiththe_e

Jacques LaMore steps down from Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast

Noelle Matonis takes over as host and producer

 

Jacques LaMore

Jacques LaMore, the creator of Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast and Kankakee Podcast, has decided to step down as host and pass the torch to Noelle Matonis, previously an intern at LaMore Media. 

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce I’m stepping down as the host and producer of Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast. I’m not sure at the moment if this will be temporary or permanent. What I do know is that I currently, at this time, do not have the time and energy to give Pop-Punk & Pizza listeners and guests what they truly deserve. The truth is, Kankakee Podcast, the other podcast that I host and produce under LaMore Media L.L.C., has become front and center and demands more of my attention. I did not come to this decision lightly. I’ve spent the past several months thinking about it and the only conclusion I can come up with at this moment is to step aside. I can’t express how hard it is to make this decision,” says Jacques LaMore.

Jacques LaMore

“The good news is that Pop-Punk & Pizza will live on with a new host and producer, Noelle Matonis. When I first met Noelle back in September, I noticed right away just how passionate she was about not only the pop punk scene but the alternative scene as a whole. I could just feel her positivity and excitement when she became our intern. The first assignment for Noelle was helping us cover Riot Fest in Chicago and she did a tremendous job. When I expressed to her that I could no longer carry on being the host of Pop-Punk & Pizza, she quickly spoke up and said, ‘I can host the show for you!’ Noelle is a go-getter and that’s one of her best qualities. I didn’t hesitate with my response to her. I told her yes right away.”

Jacques LaMore

“While I’m sad I won’t be with you while talking with some of the best bands in the world over pizza, I feel comforted to know Pop-Punk & Pizza will be carried on into the next generation with Noelle as its guide. As of now, I will still be around in some fashion. I still own the rights to the podcast. Noelle has just become the new face of it and I’m excited to see what she will do with it.”

“No matter what the future holds, Pop-Punk & Pizza will always be my heart and soul. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities and chances it brought me. I’ve learned so much from hosting and producing this show. Thank you to all the bands, publicists, managers, venues, and most importantly to you, the listeners, for your neverending support. You will forever have a place in my heart. I’m now asking you to support Noelle as she becomes the new face behind Pop-Punk & Pizza. Please, give her a chance, just as you gave me a chance when I started six years ago.”

Jacques LaMore

About Noelle Matonis: Noelle has worked as a DJ and the Assistant Promotions Director at North Central College’s radio station, WONC FM 89.1 in Naperville, as well as created and hosted her own specialty show from the ground up, called Vocal Distortion, on which she played many different heavy genres with screaming vocals, such as heavy metal, screamo, and metalcore, had theme nights, and interviewed bands and artists with a few different co-hosts. She also ran the social media for this specialty show. 

Noelle stated, “I am very excited to be the new host of the Pop Punk & Pizza Podcast, and I’m looking forward to new experiences and connections! I am interested in many other subgenres of rock as well as pop punk, such as alternative, metal, screamo, and more, so I will be incorporating more of that into our content going forward.”

From this moment on, all Pop-Punk & Pizza inquiries can be directed to Noelle Matonis: noelle@lamoremediallc.com

Also feel free to follow her on social media: 

Instagram: @noelleturtlez16

Twitter: @noellewiththe_e

 

Morning In May talk Dead Set Slander, tour with Makeout, and more

Morning In May

 

Jake, Andrew, John, and Joe from Morning In May, a pop-punk-fused-with-metalcore band based in Cleveland, Ohio, talked with me about their upcoming tour with Makeout, the story behind the song “Jake From State Farm Ruined My Life”, from their upcoming album Dead Set Slander, and more!

Morning In May started out as a solo project of Jake Bartolic, with the EPs Somewhere In Slumber (2020) and I Still Can’t Even (re-released 2021). The band has been signed to ManicKat Records and Needful Things Records in the past, but for this album, they decided to go independent.

When I asked about the challenges of recording this album, Jake exclaimed with a laugh, “Oh my God, all of them! There’s so many!” He went on to explain the challenges they’d had with one of their previous record labels whom he refused to name. “They don’t [deserve] any notoriety at all.” When I asked if there’s a different label they would like to be signed to in the future or if they’d rather stay independent, Jake told me, “I would probably rather stay independent.”

Joe added, “You have all the tools to be able to do everything a record label can do for you.”

Jake continued, “We can go get credit cards if we want. Thats pretty much all you need, pretty much what a label is now. It’s just, ‘Hey we can rack up this amount of money, and hope for the best, and then whether or not it succeeds, whether or not you guys break up, you still owe us money.’ But we’re more pay-as-you-go kind of people.”

From metalcore influences like Kingdom of Giants and The Amity Affliction to pop punk and The Used to Britney Spears, Dead Set Slander is an album you can headbang to as well as dance to.

“We pretty much wrote pop songs in drop tuning. We were like, what tuning does Slipknot play in? So we dropped it all the way down; [and] we were like, let’s write pop songs.”

On top of that, the song titles are great too. The band told me about the story behind “Jake From State Farm Ruined My Life.” 

“It’s stupid, first off,” Jake laughs, “Andrew and I were at a party in LA, and a lot of really cool people were there, so Ice-T from Body Count, or SVU, whatever you want to watch, New Year’s Day, I think Zakk Wylde was there, all these people were there. So we don’t like being just the people in the ‘crowd’, so Andrew and I were like, ‘Let’s take a picture!’ So our manager was there at the time, with a couple of his clients, and we were kind of all together, so we thought it would be cool to take a picture, but more vertical, so we climbed a watchtower, in the venue, that was like a support beam or whatever–it was easy to climb.”

Andrew added, “It was one of those ‘X’ things…like a truss.”

“A truss!” Jake continued, “So we were each other’s support team…in the air. So we got up there, we took a picture, and Andrew went so high that he wasn’t in the picture exactly, it’s just his shoe. So we got escorted out, I don’t like to say kicked out, cause that makes it sound weird, but we got removed, and we thought it was fun. It was cool! And I wrote it, because that’s the reality of stuff, like everybody thinks they’re cool drinkin’ and partyin’ and stuff, but the reality is, you just look like an idiot, kinda dumb, and you’re probably gonna go to the gas station afterwards and get some food. So I was like, why don’t we write a song that’s about the reality of that?”

Andrew added, “But is it not true that literally as a Jake–Jake from State Farm, that commercial– ruined your life? Like, my mom still says that. She’ll be like Jake? From State Farm?”

“Oh!” he nods, “And I wanted to have a fun little title, so whenever I say, ‘Hi, i’m Jake,’ everybody’s like,” he continues in a mocking voice, “‘From State Farm?’ So I hate that…It’s the worst.”

You can watch the full interview on YouTube or listen on Spotify!

Pre-save Dead Set Slander by Morning In May here!

Catch Morning In May on tour with Makeout here!

Noelle Matonis

Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast Intern