Browse Blogs Start a Blog The Charts Adv. Search Need Help?

Matthew Tsai's Blog

 | Search Options
Eugene Lane: A Music Blog
My favorite EP of the year so far is out.
03/06/12 at 12:12 PM by Matthew Tsai

These guys have gone from just another local band to one of the most interesting bands making music in their niche of the scene. In addition to the usual RIYL's I usually throw out for them (Thrice, Minus the Bear, Circa Survive), I'm hearing a little Young the Giant and even hints of James Blake here too. They're even doing the blues rock vibe I've been craving lately.

Tags: kiven
1 Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
Show Review: Kiven EP Release Party
03/04/12 at 03:57 AM by Matthew Tsai

On Saturday night I headed out to Los Angeles’ Bootleg Theater to catch Kiven’s EP release party. Bootleg Theater is a 1930’s warehouse that has been turned into a “space for art,” as their website puts it. It makes for a small, intimate venue that probably maxes out somewhere fewer than 100 people in terms of capacity. Not a bad atmosphere by any means.

Kiven was top-notch, which wasn’t surprising. Anyone who’s seen them before knows the deal: Passionate, aggressive, beautiful. Saturday night, it was business as usual. The only thing somewhat lacking from the show was a strong mix, but that did nothing to stand in the way of them demonstrating again why they’re one of LA music’s best kept secrets.

They opened with their signature drum circle and then slid into their cantankerous new single “Release” (if you haven’t grabbed it yet, you can do it for free here). Guitarist Danny Schnair drove the band for most of the night, releasing searing riff after searing riff and seemed to tap into something spiritual every time he did it. Front man Tyler Demorest was on point with his gliding vocals, and the rhythm section kept the pummeling beat needed to get the crowd’s feet moving and their heads bobbing. Again, nothing out of the ordinary for a Kiven show.

The band played a nice mix of Two in the Same songs and Step songs (their new EP). There’s a review for Step forthcoming, but without giving away too much, there’s a much more prominent blues vibe on the new songs, which allows Schnair to really let loose on his riffs to wonderful effect. The new stuff reveals a more experimental Kiven, which was highlighted when Demorest traded his guitar for the piano and vocoder effects on “Fire and Frames” and “The Blur Ensues.” It’s also a more mature Kiven, one that knows how to incorporate those elements into their signature sound to really enhance it.

They closed with “What I’m Looking For” and “The Irony” (from the new EP), the perfect pair to display the ways they’re evolving. On “What I’m Looking For,” they played their hearts out, crashing every chord and scorching every riff. They played their hearts out on “The Irony” too, but the music called for less aggression and more soul. But that didn’t stop them from pulling things together for a hard-hitting outro.

My only real complaint is that they didn’t play “Find the Time” (maybe I just wanted to hear the chugging riff), but in their growing catalog of brilliant songs, that was hardly a problem. You kind of sense every time you watch them play that they could get really big very soon – at least among the crowd that’s into bands like Thrice and Circa Survive. Tonight, that feeling was just as applicable as ever.
Tags: kiven, show review
No Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
10/03/11 at 09:28 AM by Matthew Tsai

2 Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
A "oh my word, this band is breathtakingly good" post
08/27/11 at 11:02 AM by Matthew Tsai
Two bands you should get on if you haven't already:

All Get Out, who sound uncannily like Manchester Orchestra at times (they're on Favorite Gentleman too), but definitely have a distinct sound. "Lucky Bastard" has been stuck in my head for WEEKS. Stream it here. So, so, so good.

And Ume, RIYL: Sonic Youth, Metric and The Joy Formidable. I don't usually listen to this type of music, but my goodness, if their new album Phantoms doesn't blow me away. Check them out here. High energy, super talented, shred-heavy band that definitely has a future in their scene.
No Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
Drunks, lovers, sinners and saints
08/06/11 at 01:34 PM by Matthew Tsai
I think most of the bands/artists I like are either still around, or I got into them after they broke up. So naturally, this Alexisonfire news is one of the first times I've legitimately been upset about a band break-up.

I've only seen them once, and it was at Warped Tour a few years back, but they put on one of the best live shows I've ever seen. They were hands down the best band that day - yeah, even better than Thrice. This band has such a huge legacy. They did scene music right with their first few albums, and then evolved out of it. I kind of evolved with them. Old Crows came out right around the time I started diving into punk. Dog's Blood had the blues meets metal sound I'd been craving for months. The worst thing about them breaking up at this place and time is that their best material was still to come.

Being the philosophy head that I am, what I really loved about them was how philosophically conscience they were. One of my all time favorite lines is in "Born and Raised:" "Nihilist sleeps and in dreams he sees God's face, realize even disbelief required a leap of faith." And then they were poetic, like in "Accept Crime" where they advocate gay marriage eloquently: "There's no police between two beating hearts." It was the little things like these that really separated them from the pack.

Oh well, guess all I can do is cross my fingers for a reunion now.
No Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
You know you're a good writer when...
07/25/11 at 04:38 PM by Matthew Tsai
you can change the way people think about a song with your words. No, I'm probably not referring to anything as deep as you think. The inspiration behind this blog is Eric Sams' description of Bon Iver's "Perth." He describes the song's epic-ness like this: "When the drums hit and the guitar riff explodes like a dying star, it feels like riding a pterodactyl over the Grand Canyon at the dawn of the apocalypse." Ever since I read that line, I've been referring to "Perth" as the "Pterodactyl song." That's brilliant writing right there.

You can read the whole review here.

Tags: bon iver, perth
No Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
I love Spotify
07/21/11 at 04:33 PM by Matthew Tsai
I'm dreading when the trial period ends. So far, I've been mainly listening to 4 albums I've been meaning to listen to for a long time but never got around to: The new Swellers album, the first Ryan Adams album, Emmylou Harris' Hard Bargain and Ray Lamontagne's Gossip in the Grain. All great, great albums I can finally access easily. Wish the unlimited streaming w/ advertisements deal would last forever. It's just a really solid model.

Also digging the new Thrice song so hard. The new Mute Math song is growing on me too. So much music to look forward to these next few months.
3 Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
A flood of new tunes
07/07/11 at 10:31 AM by Matthew Tsai
Here's a roll call of all the new albums that found their way into my playlist the last 2 days. Lots of good stuff.

Andy Zipf - Jealous Hands

Look, if you haven't grabbed this album for free yet, DO IT. Sounds like a glorious mix of Coldplay, The New Frontiers, and Americana vibes. Potential EOTY list candidate? Easily.

Banquets - Top Button, Bottom Shelf

This band deserves all the hype in the world. I've only given this one spin through, but it sounds like they're going back to the This Is Our Concern, Dude sound a little. Not a bad thing at all. It's going to need a little time to grow on me, but I can easily see this becoming the only thing I listen to a week from now.

Braid - Closer to Closed

I openly admit to never really being able to get into the whole late 90's emo sound, but with new albums from Joshua and Daytrader coming out this year, I think I've gradually started to appreciate it. This new Braid EP was the first time I listened to something from this genre and immediately thought, whoah, this is really catchy. "The Right Time" is a jam. And speaking of emo...

Luther - Siblings and Sevens

We're running an exclusive for this today. I'm just going to say the whole album is really solid. It's got a real crisp, refreshing sound. RIYL: Jimmy Eat World, TGUK, Band of Horses.

Other Lives - Tamer Animals

Why hello. Better late than never. "Folk Songs" blew me away on first listen and the rest is growing on me fast.

Greg Attonito - Natural Disaster

This is the solo project from the guy from Bouncing Souls. It's nothing like BS, but that's to be expected I guess. It's a lot more eclectic, which is kind of foreshadowed in the album cover. I don't know if I'm into it or not, but if you asked me to make a prediction, I'd guess I'll be into it by the end of the week.
No Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
Wow, this is pop brilliance
07/03/11 at 11:06 AM by Matthew Tsai
This is on repeat this morning, literally. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

3 Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
If ya like bands like Against Me...
06/21/11 at 04:49 PM by Matthew Tsai
Here's my recommendation of the day: The Reveling. Grab their new album for free, or not - just make sure you grab it.
3 Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
Roll Jordan
06/09/11 at 04:16 PM by Matthew Tsai
Currently rediscovering how great Alexisonfire's Old Crows/Young Cardinals is.
No Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
What I've been spinning
05/31/11 at 11:18 AM by Matthew Tsai
My playlist is gradually shifting into summer mode. I think I really only have 2 "seasons" when it comes to music - summer, and everything else.

Have Nots - Proud

This has already dropped, and if you haven't heard it yet, you don't know what you're missing out on. It's Boston pop-punk with a strong ska flavor, RIYL: The Bouncing Souls, Less Than Jake, We Are the Union, maybe even a little The Flatliners? The lyrics are something else though, and this is where the Bouncing Souls comparison is probably best made. They're just all really positive, uplifting lyrics, my favorite being "Louisville Slugger," which is about a girl being abused by her boyfriend. The chorus goes "I got a Louisville Slugger in the back of my ride, make the call and I'll be there by your side, hey girl you don't have to take that shit from anybody..." It's humorous and heartwarming at the same time. Just really, really great stuff.


I've been listening to their new song "Sexy Ghosts" on repeat. It's up for free download - definitely grab it if you get the chance. This type of music is required listening. Think pop-punk/punk rock in the vein of Hot Water Music's "Trusty Chords" or bands like Let Me Run and The Loved Ones. So, so good.

Dawes - Nothing is Wrong

Not going to say too much about this since I have a review coming up soon, but just know that these guys are one of the most exciting acts coming out of the pop/country niche in a while. This album is, for the most part, flooringly great.

House of Heroes - Suburba

Yeahhh...., summer jams.

Carpenter - Sea to Sky

Officially my favorite album of 2010 I discovered after the year was over.

Jakob Dylan - Seeing Things

I really dig Dylan Jr. He's somewhat capable of producing up to par with his dad's lyrical prowess, but he's a lot more pop and soul oriented. On this album, he just writes some very solid, catchy, memorable acoustic tunes. "Something Good This Way Comes" has been stuck in my head for days.

Alison Krauss and the Union Station - So Long, So Wrong

There's some bluegrass, and there's some country in this album. I'm loving both, despite never having listened to bluegrass in my life. I think it might be time to delve into a new genre. Also, this is just beautiful. I think Alison Krauss might have the most beautiful voice in modern music.

And my brother and I have developed a minor obsession with Johnny Cash. We've probably logged over 200 plays on him over the past week alone. Speaking of which, I'll leave you with this:

Tags: what i've been listening to
2 Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
Need new pop-punk?
05/18/11 at 09:04 AM by Matthew Tsai
Word to your summer: A few of us staffers put together this list for anyone who needs new tunes. Make sure to read the replies too, since there are some good recs in there as well.
Tags: pop-punk
1 Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
05/13/11 at 10:21 AM by Matthew Tsai
All the Moving Mountains hype and people saying they remind them of Thrice reminded me of another Thrice-reminiscent band I'd forgotten about. If you consider yourself a fan of this genre, you have to check out Microtia's Spacemaker. Stream it on bandcamp here. I'm not saying it sounds exactly like Thrice in any way - in fact, maybe City of Ships would be a better comparison? Ok fine, maybe I'm just looking for an excuse to promote these guys, but the way some of the vocals are done reminds me a lot of Vheissu. In any case, give it a listen.
Tags: microtia, moving mountains, thrice
No Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
The best music video I've seen to date
04/26/11 at 03:49 PM by Matthew Tsai

This combines two of my favorite things: the 1930's, and punk rock. I think it's Public Enemies inspired. If all music videos were like this, I'd, well, watch all of them!
Tags: social distortion, music video
3 Comments | Add a CommentPermalink | Share
1 to 15 of 78 Entries
Last Updated: 03/06/12 (39,359 Views)
Blog Tools
Share This Blog  Share This Blog

Search News
Release Dates
Best New Music
Submit News
Mobile Version
AP.net Logos
Encore Podcast
Free Music
Sports Forum
Technology Forum
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Twitter | Facebook | RSS
Encore Podcast on iTunes
Encore on Overcast
AP.net on Tumblr
Chorus.fm | @jason_tate