AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: DANNY ELFMAN/BIG MESS

Ever since his days as the singer, songwriter, front man, and ringleader in Oingo Boingo, Danny Elfman has always been unpredictable. He first came to prominence in his brother Richard Elfman’s 1980 film FORBIDDEN ZONE, in which he performed with his band – then called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. In 1979, the group shortened its name to Oingo Boingo and streamlined their sound into a quirky New Wave beat. Immediately, they became a sensation in their hometown of Los Angeles, releasing an EP on I.R.S. Records before signing with A&M Records. Oingo Boingo became the most played local band on KROQ, one of the most influential radio stations in Southern California. Hits like “Ain’t This the Life”, “On the Outside”, “Private Life”, “Only a Lad”, and “Grey Matter” revealed a songwriter like no other. Dramatic, creative, and cerebral, Danny Elfman took Pop, Rock, and New Wave into new and exciting directions. Somehow, their massive success on the West Coast was only trickling into other states and barely resonating outside of the U.S. Elfman and the band needed to make a change if they wanted to achieve greater success…

Switching over to MCA Records, Danny Elfman released a solo album in 1984 before Oingo Boingo finally scored a commercial hit with their theme to the 1985 motion picture WEIRD SCIENCE. With a poppier sound, Oingo Boingo scored several more minor hits for MCA before changes behind the scenes altered the future of both Danny Elfman and the band. Interested in composing film scores, Elfman collaborated with director Tim Burton on several film projects. At the same time, Oingo Boingo was still creating music, which had become a bit darker by their 1990 album DARK AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL. Balancing both his burgeoning career as a film composer and being the leader of a Rock band became overwhelming and the 1994 album BOINGO was the band’s final release. However, his career as a composer went from strength to strength. Between 1986 and 2020, Danny Elfman has composed the scores to dozens of films including PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, BEETLEJUICE, BATMAN, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, MARS ATTACKS!, MEN IN BLACK, GOOD WILL HUNTING, SPIDER-MAN, SCROOGED, JUSTICE LEAGUE, and many, many more. His best-known soundtrack is THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, a monumental mix of musical mayhem that is now considered a holiday classic… during both Halloween and Christmas! With his schedule dominated by film scores, Danny Elfman has not released a Rock/Pop album since the final Boingo album in 1994… until now!

Like everyone else, Danny Elfman has felt the emotional strain of the COVID pandemic, politics, and civil unrest. When he and the world were faced with lockdown, he took his creative energy into his studio and began piecing together a collection of songs inspired by these dark times. And in 2021, he releases BIG MESS, his first solo ‘rock’ album in 37 years. This double-album opus is most certainly not what you might expect from the man that sang “We Close Our Eyes” and “Gratitude” some 30+ years ago. In fact, BIG MESS is a mixture of everything he has done since the beginning of his career. The core of the album is a heavy Rock stomp – closer to the Industrial genre than the quirky jive of Boingo – mixed with big emotional cinematic sweeps, making this album sound like a twisted stage musical performed deep in the heart of madness. BIG MESS is an album that unveils itself depending on the mood of the listener. Is it “Happy” or “True”? Will you “Choose Your Side” or “Get Over It”? (“Sorry” about the song title puns). BIG MESS sounds like the troubled times that we are living through. It offers us a voice to express those thoughts that we often have when we are alone in the dark. It is an emotionally heavy album, but it is not without hope. We most likely will never hear new music by Oingo Boingo, but at least we are lucky that Danny Elfman has (briefly?) returned as a solo Rock artist. It is most definitely ‘good for your soul’…

DANNY ELFMAN

BIG MESS

Available NOW!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: JAPANESE BREAKFAST/JUBILEE

Japanese Breakfast is singer/songwriter Michelle Zauner. Or rather, singer/songwriter Michelle Zauner is Japanese Breakfast. Zauner was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved with her family to Eugene, Oregon before she turned one. Falling under the spell of music, she eventually became part of several bands throughout her college years and beyond – Post Post and Little Big League – as well as starting her own solo project Little Girl, Big Spoon. After spending time away from Oregon while pursuing music and education, she returned to Eugene to spend time with family. It was there she began writing and recording material that would surface on the debut album by her new musical project Japanese Breakfast.

Her first album as Japanese Breakfast, PSYCHOPOMP, was released in April 2016. The album garnered plenty of critical attention, and within two months, she signed to the Dead Oceans label. SOFT SOUNDS FROM ANOTHER PLANET, Japanese Breakfast’s sophomore album, was released in July 2017. The release was greeted with universal acclaim and helped Zauner to reach a wider audience. Often described as Experimental Pop, Bedroom Pop, or Indie Pop, the music on Japanese Breakfast’s albums were multi-layered, revealing new melodies or moods with each spin. While the two albums were written during her mother’s cancer treatment and untimely death, there was still a sense of hope woven into the music’s many moods.

With the release of Japanese Breakfast’s third album JUBILEE, Michelle Zauner brings that sense of hope to the surface. Like a gracious mix of ‘90s Electronic Pop, ‘80s Synthpop and New Wave, and modern Indie Rock, JUBILEE doesn’t leap from the shadows and dance in the bright sunshine – it is more cautious and thoughtful than that – but it most certainly sparkles in these dark pandemic days. On the surface, this is another collection of catchy melodies that could easily cross over to commercial radio, but the hooks are too smart for the production-line Pop that infiltrates the charts. This is intelligent and emotional music that touches each listener in different ways… sometimes in different ways than Zaunder herself intends. For example, in “Be Sweet”, one can feel a slight Roxy Music-meets-Japan vibe. On “Sit”, the swirling sound is a blend of Dreampop and Techno. Reaching further into the obscure, “In Hell’s” keyboard hook sounds like early China Crisis. However, differently listeners will find different musical signposts scattered across JUBILEE’s aural landscape, whether Zauner purposely placed them there or not. JUBILEE is a journey with many destinations. It is up to you to decide on where it takes you.

JAPANESE BREAKFAST

JUBILEE

6.4.21

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: LOU BARLOW/REASON TO LIVE

Lou Barlow has been a part of the indie music scene for nearly 40 years. Born in Dayton, Ohio – best known as the birthplace of great funk bands like Ohio Players, Slave, Lakeside, and Zapp – Barlow had relocated to Westfield, Massachusetts, where he attended high school. His first band was Deep Wound, a hardcore punk band that featured drummer J Mascis. After Deep Wound split in 1984, Barlow and Mascis – who moved to guitar and vocals – decided to form a new band called Dinosaur. After they released their first record, they were legally forced to change their name thanks to a rock outfit that already operated under the name Dinosaur. Instead of creating a new and fresh band name, they merely added ‘Jr.’ to their moniker and went on to become one of the most influential bands in indie/alternative rock history. Being a songwriter in a band that already had a main songwriter meant that Barlow had more material that could fit on a Dinosaur Jr. album. Because of this, Barlow formed Sebadoh, a lo-fi side project with multi-instrumentalist Eric Gaffney. When Barlow left Dinosaur Jr. in 1988, he focused all his attention on Sebadoh.

Sebadoh was not Dinosaur Jr. Jr. Musically, Barlow took Sebadoh to many different musical places while not traveling too far from his Dino Jr. roots. In fact, Sebadoh’s earliest recordings sounded closer to lo-fi pop pioneer R. Stevie Moore than J Macis. When Jason Lowenstein joined the band, their alt-rock excursions brought the band’s eclectic acoustic-based rock power into focus and the band’s commercial profile began to rise. Albums like BUBBLE & SCRAPE (1993) and BAKESALE (1994) were critically successful, and the band became indie heroes. Barlow then took a detour with another side project, the Folk Implosion, who scored a Top 40 hit with the song “Natural One”. Barlow was also recording lo-fi releases under the band name Sentridoh while working with Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion. However, Sebadoh went on hiatus after 1999’s THE SEBADOH while the Folk Implosion’s final studio release – so far – was 2003’s THE NEW FOLK IMPLOSION. Surprisingly, Lou reunited with Dinosaur Jr. in 2005 and they have recorded and toured sporadically ever since. Oh, and there’s dozens of other releases and projects that he’s been involved with that haven’t even been mentioned here. Whew! The only person more prolific than Lou Barlow is Robert Pollard, who has probably released three albums and a 7” single in the time it took you to read this paragraph!

While Lou contributed two songs to SWEEP IT INTO SPACE, the 2021 album by Dinosaur Jr., he presents 17 tracks on REASON TO LIVE, his first proper solo album in six years. Like an amalgamation of all of his musical projects, the album sounds both fresh and comforting, shambolic and shiny. REASON TO LIVE is a collection of songs that have a certain chemistry – the songs are musical pieces that needed to come together to create a whole. Does it sound like Sebadoh, Sentridoh, or the Folk Implosion? Of course not. But, at the same time, elements from all of those musical projects are alive and well because they are all part of Lou Barlow’s musical journey. The lo-fi mix of acoustic folk and indie rock help to create an album that sounds deeply introspective yet very open and warm. Songs like “In My Arms”, “Why Can’t It Wait”, “Over You”, and “Lows and Highs” are immediate highlights, but the more you listen, the more you’ll be drawn into Barlow’s new musical vision. And anyone with a song titled “All You People Suck” deserves an honorary entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  REASON TO LIVE is an album that could only have been created in these uncertain times… yet it sounds remarkably timeless.

LOU BARLOW

REASON TO LIVE

Available NOW!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: CHAI/WINK

Chai is a Japanese quartet comprised of twin sisters Mana (vocals/keyboards) and Kana (guitar) plus bassist/lyricist Yuuki and drummer Yuna. Formed in Nagoya in 2012, the group’s name was, in fact, inspired by the popular Russian tea. The four musicians came together to create music that would exist outside of the formulaic J-Pop music that infiltrated the charts. Their own musical tastes were drawn towards experimental Pop and Hip-Hop and they embraced a style that reflected all of their individual tastes. The band began playing live locally before they moved on to play more gigs in Tokyo. With songs written by Mana, Kana, and Yuuki, Chai released three singles between 2013 and 2014 before releasing their first EP, HOTTARAKA SERIES, in 2015. Two years later, they released their second EP, HOMEGORO SERIES, in April of 2017. As their commercial profile continued to grow, anticipation for an album did the same.

When their debut album PINK was released in late 2017, it presented a band without stylistic limitations. From Punk to Disco, Hip-Hop to Bubblegum Pop, each song had its own vibrant personality. Filled with youthful energy and the desire to exceed expectations from fans and critics, the album sounded like an armful of genres tossed into a washing machine’s spin cycle. Like a mixture of the polished charm of Puffy and the raw energy of Shonen Knife –  Chai was a unique band right out of the gate. Their second album PUNK (2019) saw the quartet expand their musical universe while still sticking to their own unique take on Pop music. In fact, it was getting more difficult to call them a Pop band because… well, they weren’t. Chai was something else. The band was a hybrid – an experiment that took musical expression to a new level. They didn’t play J-Pop, K-Pop, or any other manufactured style of music – they played Chai-Pop. So, with fans and critics in their back pockets, all eyes – and especially ears – were on Chai to see which direction they would go on their third album…

WINK, Chai’s highly anticipated 2021 album, takes the quartet in slightly different directions. With a more focused approach to their songs, the album ups the Soul and Hip-Hop influences, showing that all four members have matured as songwriters and performers. Although the title of opening track is humorous – “Donut Mind If I Do” – the song’s blending of modern production and soulful ‘70s melody is haunting and quite lovely. “Maybe Chocolate Chips” has a laid-back Hip-Hop groove and includes an appearance from rapper Ric Wilson. The album still has plenty of fun moments – “Ping Pong” (featuring YMCK) and “END” come to mind – but WINK is a big musical step forward for Chai. In the past, they’ve created music that was born from kinetic energy, but now they are spending more time crafting their songs, creating atmospheres with their sounds, and reshaping their sound to reflect the people they are now and the times we live in. We all grow up and our tastes evolve as we make our way in this world. Chai have chosen not to remain young whippersnappers and they’ve created music that reflects their view of the world and their thoughts and feelings. But let’s be honest- they are still as fun as they’ve ever been. This time, though, they aren’t afraid to hide behind giggles and glow worms. Chai has grown up. Have you?

CHAI

WINK

Available NOW!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: DAVID GRAY/SKELLIG

British singer/songwriter David Gray first came to prominence in the UK and Ireland with the release of his debut album, A CENTURY ENDS, in 1993. A critical success, the album climbed to #23 on the Irish charts and earned him plenty of press and good reviews. His next two albums – FLESH (1994) and SELL, SELL, SELL (1996) – did similar business and helped to expand his audience even more. When Gray released his fourth album, WHITE LADDER, in November 1998, the album struggled in the charts although it was warmly received by critics and fans. Issued on Gray’s own IHT Records label, the album’s initial release seemed to slow down the momentum that he had been building with his previous three releases. When he began releasing singles from the album in 1999, there was commercial interest, but it was coming slowly. However, things were about to change the following year thanks to the support of American singer/songwriter Dave Matthews. Yes, the Dave Matthews Band guy…

Albums usually run their chart course within a year, but there are exceptions. In May 2000, WHITE LADDER was re-released by Matthews’ new ATO Records label and given a new lease on life. With better distribution, Matthews’ support, and a heavy touring schedule, Gray’s album was a bonafide hit. Bolstered by the hit single “Babylon”, WHITE LADDER climbed to #1 in the UK and Ireland and entered the Top 40 in the US, Norway, and Australia. Over the next two decades, David Gray continued to release a string of albums that were warmly embraced by his growing fanbase and received plenty of press in the process. Alongside a handful of compilations and a live album, Gray has managed to build up a beloved catalog of releases that are still fresh and invigorating. His 2019 release, GOLD IN A BRASS AGE, went Top 40 in Ireland, Scotland, and the UK, which is quite the feat since many of his 1990s and early 2000s contemporaries have disappeared from the upper regions of the charts…

Recorded before the COVID pandemic, David Gray’s 2021 album, SKELLIG, is a beautifully atmospheric album filled with a warm, loving light yet offering just enough shade to make the album sound human… and deeply emotional. Produced by Ben de Vries, the album keenly mixes acoustic guitar-based songs with others that rely predominantly on the piano. Mix in some mood-inducing electronics and some lovely ethereal harmonies and you’ve got an album that is laced with melancholia yet still feels comforting and, maybe more importantly, hopeful. Gray’s voice on SKELLIG is far more tender and reflective than on past releases, but he’s still very much the same man that led the charge on his 11 previous albums.  “Heart and Soul”, the album’s first single, is one of his best tracks, bringing together harmony, melody, and emotion unlike anything you’ve heard this year so far. Thankfully, there’s more songs just as powerful as that on the album. Other highlights include “Can’t Hurt More Than This”, “Laughing Gas”, “Spiral Arms” and the title track. SKELLIG proves that David Gray is still at the peak of his powers.  

DAVID GRAY

SKELLIG

5.14.2021

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES/WHEN GOD WAS GREAT

Ska music was born, developed, and brought to live in Jamaica in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Artists such as Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker, The Maytals, The Wailers, Laurel Aitken, and The Skatalites were just a few of the bands that took Ska to the top of the Jamaican charts. By the end of the ‘60s, Ska had evolved into Rocksteady, Dancehall, and, finally, Reggae. In the late 1970s, there was a Ska revival in the UK that is most commonly attributed to the 2-Tone Records label and included bands such as The Specials, The English Beat, Madness, Bad Manners, and The Selecter. Once that movement faded out in the early 1980s, Ska-influenced bands still existed on the outskirts of the music business, patiently awaiting the next wave of Ska’s popularity. That resurgence happened in the late ‘80s and early 1990s when artists such as The Toasters, No Doubt, Bim Skala Bim, Save Ferris, Less Than Jake, Fishbone, Sublime, and Reel Big Fish merged Ska and Punk sensibilities… and sold a lot of records in the process. While most of those bands have long since broken up or changed musical course, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have remained true to their original sound.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1983. The band’s roots were based in the Hardcore Punk scene, but their Ska influences were a strong part of their musical identity. Although arriving too late the board the second Ska movement, the band nevertheless became a popular live act in their region. By the time of their 1989 debut album DEVIL’S NIGHT OUT, the band had become one of the most popular high-profile Ska-Punk bands in the U.S. In fact, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are acknowledged as creators of the Ska-Core subgenre. With sharp suits, a brass section, and an energetic live show, the band’s ‘iconic’ status is well-deserved. While continuing to wow audiences with their performances, they released a series of albums that were embraced by their legions of fans. Their catalog includes the albums MORE NOISE AND OTHER DISTURBANCES (1992), DON’T KNOW HOW TO PARTY (1993), QUESTION THE ANSWERS (1994), LET’S FACE IT (1997), and A JACKKNIFE TO A SWAN (2002). The band split up in 2004 but reunited three years later and jumped right back into live performances and recording sessions.

2021’s WHEN GOD WAS GREAT is The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ 11th studio album – their first for Hellcat Records – and was co-produced by Tim Armstrong (Rancid). The album captures all the joy, passion, and honesty of their past albums while also adding a fresh spin to the proceedings. WHEN GOD WAS GREAT is an intelligent, sharp, and infectious invitation to have fun. While it doesn’t avoid addressing the COVID pandemic, the album revels in hope and unification. Mixing Ska rhythms, anthemic hooks, and scraggly Punk-influenced guitar riffs, WHEN GOD WAS GREAT is an aural ray of sunshine in a world blanketed in darkness and fear. Highlights include the album opener “Decide”, “I Don’t Believe in Anything”, “Lonely Boy”, “Certain Things”, “It Went Well”, and “M O V E”. Packed with 15 songs, this is an epic album that should have you on your feet and skanking in no time. It will also make you feel that you are part of something big, something grand, and most certainly something mighty!

THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES

WHEN GOD WAS GREAT

Available NOW!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: girl in red/if i could make it go quiet

Like any country, Norway has always had many vital and exciting music scenes throughout the decades. While a majority of the artists have not achieved worldwide success, there have been quite a few that have managed to gain different levels of success outside of their homeland. The most commercially successful Norwegian band thus far is A-Ha, but other artists have earned much-deserved commercial and/or critical success including TNT, Bel Canto, Royksopp, Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, and Kings of Convenience. More recently, Norway is well-known for its plethora of Metal bands including Darkthrone, Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, Mayhem, Mortiis, and many others. However, every generation features a new crop of musical voices that resonate with music lovers outside of the Norwegian borders. Most recently, singer/songwriter Marie Ulven has captured the attention of critics and music fans with her musical project girl in red.

Born in Horten, Norway, Marie Ulven first rose to prominence with her girl in red EPs CHAPTER 1 (2018) AND CHAPTER 2 (2019). Her homemade ‘bedroom Pop’ songs focus on queer romance and mental health and have earned her a lot of attention from music critics and lovers as well as from the LGBTQ community. Her social media accounts have a total of 5.4 million subscribers, and she has been named ‘One to Watch’ by The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, and The Sun. The honesty in her music has struck a nerve and, like magic, the music that she created in her bedroom has reached listeners around the world, giving them hope and comfort. Ever since her debut single, “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend”, was posted on Soundcloud in 2016, she has grown from strength to strength, maturing as a singer, songwriter, and artist and as a voice for those who still can’t find the words to express themselves. And now, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, she is releasing the first full length girl in red album, which is bound to be her commercial breakthrough.

if i could make it go quiet is an album that addresses many issues, some of them hidden in the shadows and others that bask in the sunlight. And with titles like “Did You Come?”, “hornlylovesickmess”, and “You Stupid Bitch”, it may not be the album you think you needed, but it is an honest and riveting listen. Filled with subject matter that might make some feel uncomfortable, the hooks will draw you in and you won’t be able to deny the album’s charm. Sometimes haunting (“midnight love” and the closing instrumental “it would feel like this”), the album also includes some edgier Pop and Rock fare including “I’ll Call You Mine”, “Rue”, and the aforementioned “You Stupid Bitch”. Opening track “Seratonin” is a perfect gateway track, moving between several different moods with ease. if i could make it go quiet is an album that demands to be heard and certainly lives up to the hype. It is time for girl in red to go global.

girl in red

if i could make it go quiet

available now

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: DINOSAUR JR./SWEEP IT INTO SPACE

While other ground-breaking bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth may have temporarily stolen the spotlight from them, Dinosaur Jr. have become one of the most important American Alternative Rock bands of all time. Originally formed in 1984, Dinosaur Jr. was comprised of J Mascis (guitar/vocals), Lou Barlow (bass/vocals), and Murph (drums). Initially known as Dinosaur, the trio released their self-titled debut album in 1985. Due to legal reasons – there was already a band called Dinosaur – the band changed their name to Dinosaur Jr. by the release of their second album YOU’RE LIVING ALL OVER ME, in 1987. The band were embraced by the critics and began to build a substantial fan base by the time of the release of 1988’s BUG. However, due to tensions in the band, bassist Barlow left just before they signed their major label deal with Sire Records. However, this was not the end of the classic Dinosaur Jr. line-up…

J Mascis and Murph continued under the Dinosaur Jr. name, releasing two more albums – GREEN MIND (1991) and WHERE YOU BEEN (1993) – before Murph exited the band, leaving Mascis as the sole original member. Mascis led Dinosaur Jr. for two more albums before laying the band name to rest after 1997’s HAND IT OVER. In the meantime, original bassist Lou Barlow refocused his attention on his side project Sebadoh and released a series of well-received albums. He also issued several solo albums and releases under various other names as well (Sentridoh, Lou Barlow and Friends, etc.). By the early 2000s, J Mascis began to attend Sebadoh shows and, in 2005, the original trio officially reunited. Two years later, they released BEYOND (2007), the first Dinosaur Jr. album in 10 years and the first to feature the original trio in two decades. The trio has continued to release albums since their reformation including FARM (2009), I BET ON SKY (2012), and GIVE A GLIMPS OF WHAT YER NOT (2016).

Five years after their last studio outing, J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph return with 2021’s SWEEP IT INTO SPACE, an album that embraces and expands upon the band’s beloved musical legacy. Stradling the line between perfection and cacophony, Dinosaur Jr. is still filled with the shambolic charm and excitement that fueled their early albums and their more recent releases. While it is their 13th studio album overall, the band refers to it as the ‘fifth studio album since their rebirth’. Whichever way you want to look at it, this is classic Dinosaur Jr. served up with a side of modern kick-ass! J Mascis still sings with a wounded drawl, sounding both confident and confused but always in charge of his senses. Barlow provides two of the poppiest tracks on the album – “Garden” and “You Wonder” – but J Mascis is no slouch in the hooks department, providing many highlights including “I Ain’t”, “Hide Another Round”, “I Expect It Always”, and “To Be Waiting”. It’s always good to know that when the younger generation is more focused on creating TikTok videos, the old guard knows what we really want – real Rock ‘n’ Roll. Welcome back, Dinosaur Jr.

DINOSAUR JR.

SWEEP IT INTO SPACE

Available NOW!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: ESCAPE THE FATE/CHEMICAL WARFARE

Founded in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2004, Escape the Fate is a Metalcore band that has survived an ever-changing musical landscape and remain top of their game nearly 20 years since their formation. Initially featuring Ronnie Radke (vocals), Bryan Monte Money (guitar), Max Green (bass), and Robert Ortiz (drums), the band eventually added Carson Allen (keyboards) and Omar Espinoza (guitarist). The band began touring and recorded a demo, eventually landing a contract with Epitaph Records. By the time they released their debut album, DYING IS YOUR LATEST FASHION (2006), Allen and Espinoza had left the band and Radke followed suite after the album was released. While the band had achieved some success with their debut album, losing their front man cast a dark shadow over their future. But things were about to change. Enter former Blessthefall vocalist Craig Mabbitt and Escape the Fate’s future began to look brighter.

The band released THIS WAR IS OURS in 2008 and it reached #35 on Billboard’s 200 Albums chart. In 2010, their self-titled third album hit #1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart, #25 on the Billboard 20, and #4 on the Rock Albums chart. By the time their next album, UNGRATEFUL, was released in 2013, Max Green was out of the band and TJ Bell stepped in on bass. The band then added a second guitarist, Michael Money (brother of Monte). Two years later, the album HATE ME featured another line-up change: the Money brothers were gone, replaced by guitarist Kevin ‘Thrasher’ Gruff. TJ Bell moved over to rhythm guitar and he and Gruff handled bass duties in the studio. Escape the Fate then released their next album, I AM HUMAN, in 2018. With the release of the album, the band had maneuvered their way through the ever-changing Hard Rock landscape, always with their eyes on the future.

Escape the Fate’s 2021 album, CHEMICAL WARFARE, finds the band sounding fresh, energetic and unafraid to move backwards, forwards, and sideways at the same time. Behind the crunching guitar chords, you’re going to find electronic rhythms, some keyboards, and plenty of soaring melodies. More like an album of emotional anthems, CHEMICAL WARFARE is not a Pop album, but the melodic sing-along hooks are there. And guest performers are there, too – Lindsey Sterling appears on “Invincible” and Travis Barker is featured on “Not My Problem”. Most of the tracks on CHEMICAL WARFARE are fist-pumping, head-banging rockers, but Escape the Fate toss in a few curve balls including the danceable beats on “Unbreakable”, the haunting musical passages that appear from time to time (especially on “Erase You”) and subtle Hip-Hop influences spread throughout the album. The album’s title and cover reflect the paranoia that we experience today, but the music on the album offers an ‘escape’ (… ahem…) from grim realities we face when the music stops playing…

ESCAPE THE FATE

CHEMICAL WARFARE

4.16.2021

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: CHRIS CAIN/RAISIN’ CAIN

Award-winning Blues guitarist Chris Cain grew up on the Blues. His father used to entertain Chris by telling him tales about growing up on Memphis’ historic Beale Street and constantly played the Blues in the Cain household. Attending his first B.B. King concert at the age of 3, Chris’ future was cemented in stone cold blues. Teaching himself to pay the guitar at the age of 8, he continually honed his craft and was already a professional musician by the time he turned 18. While he earned street cred by playing live, he studied music at San Jose City College, delving into Jazz music and eventually learning to play saxophone, clarinet, piano, and bass guitar. Cain combined his Blues roots and Jazz training and created his own unique sound.

With his distinct guitar style, Chris Cain soon rose to the top ranks of the Blues scene. He released his debut album, LATE NIGHT CITY BLUES, in 1987 on Rock It Records. The album won him four Blues Music Awards and caught the attention of Blues label Bling Pic records. His next three albums – CUTTIN’ LOOSE (1990), CAN’T BUY A BREAK (1992), and SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY (1995) – were released on the label before re-signing to the Rock It Records label. He continued to release a series of acclaimed albums including UNSCHEDULED FLIGHT (1997), LIVE AT THE REP (1998), CHRISTMAS CAIN (1999), CAIN DOES KING (2001), HALL OF SHAME (2003), SO MANY MILES (2010), KING OF THE BLUES (2015), and CHRIS CAIN (2017). Cain then signed to legendary Blues label Alligator Records and began putting together his next album…

Four years since the release of his last studio full-length, Chris Cain releases RAISIN’ CAIN, his most highly-anticipated album yet. The twelve songs on the album are Cain originals that showcase his skills as a songwriter, arranger, bandleader, and guitarist. The songs on RAISIN’ CAIN run the gamut from deep and sweaty bar Blues to joyful, horn-laced blasts of bluesy emotion. Tracks like “Hush Money”, “I Don’t Know Exactly What’s Wrong With My Baby”, “Space Force”, “Can’t Find A Reason”, and “Found A Way To Make Me Say Goodbye” focus in his way of creating music that works its way from the inside out. This is not just a bunch of standard Blues riffs strung together without a thought – this is real Blues born from emotion and feeling. More than 30 years after his debut album, Chris Cain is more connected to the Blues than ever. RAISIN’ CAIN is proof of that.

CHRIS CAIN

RAISIN’ CAIN

Available NOW!