Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Digital Summer – The Aquarius EP

50 Shades

Released in 2015 as a single. The theme of the song is easy to make out.

The “Aquarius” album was also announced with the single. It’s a mixture of the electronic elements and heavy rock.

It’s No Good

Released in 2018. It’s a cover from Depeche Mode and it rocks.

The vocal delivery is like a cross between “Come Undone” from Duran Duran and Staind in the verses crashes into a big Chorus.

Buried Alive

Released on February 9, 2018.

Press play for the Chorus.

And suddenly I’m guilty
Of just trying to survive
Inhale but I can’t breathe
It’s like I’m being buried alive

And at 3.10 in length, there isn’t a note or lick or melody wasted.

Push Me

Released on May 25, 2018.

It’s an accumulation of the first three albums.

Just push me over the edge so I can feel the fall

Mayday

Released on October 15, 2018.

One of my favorite cuts from them.

It’s heavy, it rocks and the melodies show a real growth.

And it was the last song they released. Their website went from being there to being unavailable, as the domain name wasn’t renewed.

The Facebook account is there, but the band members are not active on it as it doesn’t look like there is a band.

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The Record Vault: Digital Summer – After Hours: Unplugged & Rewired

“After Hours: Unplugged & Rewired” is like a best off, done in an acoustic format with the addition of a few new tracks.

Released on October 8, 2013 and this one was purchased from the Amazon U.S store without any graffiti on the cover.

This City

One of my favourite songs.

Electronic programmed drums provide a foundation, while the acoustic guitars reign with arpeggios and harmonics.

If there is a song to listen to, press play on this.

This city made me who I am

I was always told that I am a product of my upbringing, and how the family, the social circles and the city I grew up in plays a part with all of this.

There is also a bluesy solo on this, which is cool to hear the guitarist flex their styles.

Forget You

From the “Breaking Point” album. It was heavy and aggressive on that album, a perfect concert and album opener.

It feels swampy this time around and it doesn’t lose its aggression.

Shallow (Closer Than the Angels)

From the “Counting The Hours” album and the way this song sounds in acoustic format is so Breaking Benjamin and I like it.

Suffocate

This song is from the first album “Cause And Effect” and it works great in acoustic and electric formats.

It also appeared on the “Hollow” EP.

Personally I prefer how it starts off in acoustic and I like how I can make that “American Woman” association for the riff known as the “Nu Metal” riff.

Closer to Me

A new song. This song sounds great and I like how the drums have this processed electronic effect for the first part.

Dance in the Fire

From the “Breaking Point” album.

I don’t like how they tried to recreate the fast picked distorted verse riff in acoustic format. They should have stayed within the strummed verse riff.

But the Chorus is exceptional.

Morphine

From the “Counting The Hours” album and they nail that Staind vibe.

Use Me

From the “Hollow” EP and “Counting The Hours” album. This song has been done acoustically previously and it works.

Whatever It Takes

From the debut album “Cause And Effect”.

I’ll do whatever it takes to get you out of my life

It’s a great hook and they deliver it nicely.

Demons

It’s a new song.

Just close your eyes
Let the demons rest tonight

But they don’t rest, unless we use something to rest em. Because when a person is alone with their thoughts, the demons are out to play.

Broken Halo

From the “Breaking Point” album. The song was done acoustically as a bonus track for the album and released here as well.

Sweet Misery and Worth The Pain

Both are from the “Hollow” EP. I like the electronics under “Worth The Pain”.

Little did I know that this would be the last full length album from the band.

Various single song releases came out and a new album called “Aquarius” was announced but it never saw the light of day.

However I will have one final post on those single song releases, plus a bonus post on “The Tragedy Machine” side project of the Winterstein brothers.

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The Record Vault: Digital Summer

“Breaking Point” came out in 2012.

It comes on the back of a Kickstarter campaign to fan fund the album and tour. Like many successful fan funded projects, they surpassed their initial goal of $25,000.

And once the deadline passed, the band had received over $50,000.

They used the money to get outside producers to work on the album (and you notice the sound improvement immediately), to pay for a larger marketing campaign to promote the album and to finance a longer tour around the U.S.

Forget You

It features Clint Lowery, the lead guitarist from Sevendust.

It’s a great opener, more heavy rock than the “alternative metal” branding.

Check out the intro riff.

Now that I’m sober
I’m finally making up my mind
I can see who you really are

The great awakening from the haze.

Shut your mouth, I’m done listening to you
It’s over, it’s over, I’ve had enough were through
I’m taking back the person that I used to be
Before these scars, before your lies so FUCK you, forget you, goodbye

There’s no love there. A perfect F U.

And finally we get a lead break spotlight in the Digital Summer catalogue.

Breaking Point

A Disturbed like riff starts off the title track.

Stand up, just look at me
And tell me what you see
Besides a man on the brink of insanity

Growing up on the 80’s themes of standing up for yourself and living on a prayer or the story songs like rat-tailed Jimmy and a Chevy with primered flames, the 90’s changed those themes to be more personal, full of self-doubt, depression and a certain darkness.

And it continued even in movies.

The Michael Douglas pic, “Falling Down”, shows a man on the brink of insanity and what happens when he falls off the brink.

Cut Me Open

I like the way this starts, with the electronics and the clean tone arpeggio riff.

But this time I realize from the bottom there’s no place left to go

There is a saying that when you hit rock bottom the only way is up.

But sometimes, there is no place left to go. And the lyrics definitely bring back memories of “Down In A Hole” from Alice In Chains. Great song but the topic is heavy.

Fight Til I Fall

It reminds me of Seether.

Nothing to lose when you’ve lost it all
To the death I will fight till I fall

This is when a person is most dangerous. When they have nothing to lose.

The QR code would take you straight to the lyrics on their website.

Broken Halo

There is this U2 vibe in the verses which I like and the Arena Rock Chorus would not be out of place on a Shinedown album.

You’re my favourite addiction
The perfect complication
You’re my favourite addiction
My sick and twisted medication

My favourite addiction is music. It’s always music. It doesn’t matter how I feel, music is always there for me, unconditionally loving me.

Come On

It’s an aggressive song, reminding more of Breaking Benjamin than anything else.

In relation to themes, Skid Row had “Piece Of Me” and Digital Summer has “Come On” and “Fight Till I Fall”.

Come on, come on if you survive this round
Step it up or you’ll be going down

It’s very Ivan Moody like who was always looking at taking someone on in his lyrics.

War Against Myself

Why can’t you see that I’m at war against myself
For once could I fight someone else

We are our own worst enemies. We would ponder a simple mistake forever.

Dance In The Fire

I like the Intro as it reminds me of songs that New Order write.

And we dance in the fire
And we laugh at the flames and never learn
With no cares for tomorrow
Cause tonight we just love how it burns

It’s not as bad as “She Goes Down” from the Crue or Jovi’s “Bad Medicine” or how Springsteen is looking for some action while dancing in the dark, but it’s a song about getting laid.

Overdose

An intro similar to “Dance In The Fire” kicks off this song.

You’re like an overdose with no antidote
I’ve fallen victim far too many times

The sins of lust and the damage left behind when the lust and fire ends.

Wanted To Love You

This is a great ballad and the vocal delivery is excellent.

As if they’re paved into the sidewalks
These city streets reflect my thoughts and moments

When you walk the streets of your hometown your whole life, every pavement step and street corner contains a memory.

I’ve wanted to love you, for so long I need to
It’s the only thing left that my heart knows to do

You can hear the pain in the voice, the emotion is very Aaron Lewis like. Musically I like how the piano plays over a foundation of electronic noises and repeating guitar lines.

Broken Halo (Acoustic)

An acoustic version acts as a bonus track.

Instead of 16 songs, we get 10 this time around.

For an unsigned and truly independent band, this is a slick addition to the alternative metal movement.

The tour they had with 12 Stones had a shitty Agent and in some cities, cancellations ensured.

However Digital Summer still arrived at those cities and spread the word to their fans that they are in town to meet and greet.

And they did this by taking time off from their day jobs as firefighters, paramedics, producers and teachers.

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The Record Vault: Digital Summer – Counting The Hours

“Counting the Hours” is the album number 2.

It was released in May 2010.

On this album they amp up the radio rock songs, with bigger Choruses and concise song arrangements. They sound heavier, like Sevendust, more commercial than Three Days Grace and Staind and when they do the slower songs, they definitely know how to set a mood.

The band for the album is Kyle Winterstein on Vocals, Guitar and Producer, Ian Winterstein on Guitar, Johnmark Cenfield on Guitar
Anthony Hernandez on Bass and Ben Anderson on Drums and Assistant Engineer.

Counting The Hours

Dropped D down tuning, syncopated guitars and bass kick and a melodic droning lead kicks off the title track.

There’s nothing like an apocalypse to open your eyes

Great lyric, it reminds me of the lyric in “Life Is Beautiful” from Sixx A.M. when James Michael sings, “there’s nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive.” So don’t wait for those moments, seize the day.

The two guitar attack is very reminiscent of Machine Head during the Supercharger era. One guitar would crank the rhythms while another would play melodic motifs and leads over it during intros and verses and so forth. Korn’s two guitar team is another example of this.

Just Run

It’s basically a hard rock song, but played in a dropped D tuning and the riffs are more syncopated with the drums, which didn’t happen with hard rock bands in the 80’s.

You’ve been running your mouth for quite a while now

These days its more keyboard warriors running their mouths (aka fingertips) on social media.

Check out the Chorus.

Hostage

A fast alternate picked riff is played throughout while the other guitar embellishes with melodic leads.

It’s aggressive and angsty about a “relationship awakening” in which the writer realises they have changed so much that they have become a hostage to the relationship.

I don’t want to be a victim of this pointless game

Playing the Saint

It features guest vocals from Morgan Rose of Sevendust.

Industrial electronics kick it off and then the riffs start.

Kyle is not happy in this one.

I can see right through you and everything you do

The aggressive verses give way to a melodic Chorus about that someone in your life pretending to be someone their not and how they can do no wrong.

A four punch knockout combo so far.

Shallow (Closer than the Angels)

A more rockier bass riff that reminds me of “My Friend Of Misery” starts off the song but the overall feel is like a Five Finger Death Punch song as “The Bleeding” comes to mind.

Press play for the falsetto vocals and then the Arena Rock Chorus.

Anybody Out There

Morgan Rose also appears as a guest drummer, so it’s no surprise that my brain starts to think I’m listening to Sevendust.

And the riffage certainly helps.

SCREAM for help now, is anybody out there
Is anybody listening, does anybody care

There are people who care but they are the first ones we argue with, so let’s hope that are still around and still care in your time of need.

Morphine

Musically, it reminds me of the Limp Bizkit songs which have clean tone riffs and vocally, its melodic.

Not even morphine can kill the pain
Increase the dosage but I feel the same

We live in a drugged up world.

We take tablets for medication and some do it to get high. We take alcohol for various reasons. People still smoke cigarettes when they even know that smoking will kill you and some turn to illegal drugs.

The Thrill

It blasts out of the gate with fast riffing, reminding me of Godsmack.

Never cared for consequences, we take no prisoners
Don’t bother with regrets, we push forward till it hurts

It’s got the spirit of the early 80s.

Rescue Me

This appeared on the “Hollow” EP and was released as a single back then.

So maybe I’m the one that needed saving
Someone to rescue me from myself

Contemplation.

Maybe we are not so perfect after all.

Today

It stars off with a bass groove and drums, while the guitars kick in with shimmering arpeggios and clean tone melodies.

In the Chorus, they blast out the distortion.

The song is a bit derivative of the other songs and if I was John Kalodner, I would be leave this song off.

Inside My Head

The clean tone Intro reminds me of something but I can’t think of what.

It also sounds like part two of “Today”.

Use Me

This appeared on the “Hollow” EP as an acoustic track and here it gets the plugged in treatment.

Morgan Rose from Sevendust appears again as a guest drummer on this track.

The Chorus is melodic and excellent. Press play to hear it.

So Beautiful, So Evil

How good is the intro?

From the moment she laid her eyes on me
I knew how dangerous she could be

It’s like a Coverdale lyric about serpentine women.

Not Even God

Nonpoint and Sevendust come to mind but like “Today” and “Insiee My Head”, I would have done a Kalodner.

Something More

Another song I would have left off the album. Not that it’s a bad song, it’s because it sounds like many others on the album.

While The City Sleeps

One of my favourite songs.

The lyric of cruising the city while it sleeps could be a reference to Kyle’s job as a paramedic. Yes, while doing Digital Summer, he is also a full time paramedic with a generous boss who gives him time off to tour. His brother Ian is also a paramedic.

With the 16 songs, it’s a good album, however if list was cut down to about 10, then it would be a great album.

Either way, if you like heavy rock, crank it.

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The Record Vault: Digital Summer – Hollow

“Hollow” is an EP/DVD released on March 31, 2008, and featured the single “Rescue Me”.

The band for the album is a bit different from the debut with Kyle Winterstein on Vocals and Guitar, Raymond Amparan and Johnmark Cenfield on Guitar, noting the absence of Kyle’s brother, Ian on guitar. Anthony Hernandez on Bass and Chris Carlson on Drums.

The first four tracks are acoustic tracks, but played in a way like “Days Of The New” with bass and drums also prominent.

The acoustic medium suits the band a lot, because it highlights even further what a great vocalist Kyle Winterstein is.

Whatever It Takes

From the debut album and the distorted sounds are replaced by the aggressive strummed sounds of acoustic guitars.

The Chorus catchcry of doing whatever it takes to get someone out of their life sounds even more desperate in this format. And the drumming still keeps the same frantic pace like the studio recording.

Use Me

A new track and the strummed acoustic guitar riff gets me interested. Vocally, I feel like Aaron Lewis is singing this.

“Let me use you and I’ll let you use me” is the hook, to forget memories and promises made.

Suffocate

Also from the debut album and I like the swampy bluesy feel I get when I hear the intro on acoustic.

Then the riff just before the verses is so “American Woman”.

The thing is, the riff I am talking about is basically known as “the Nu-Metal” riff as every band that dabbled in the genre has a riff like it.

And when its stripped back to an acoustic format, this modern riff sounds like it came from a 60’s song. And I like those little connections to thins known before.

Sweet Misery

Another new track that begins with a riff made up of open strings and single notes, begging for a distorted guitar but it doesn’t come.

Instead a piano melody plays over and over the riff, which gives it a haunting sound along with the shimmering ambient noises, which are mixed in low.

Rescue Me

A full plugged in band track.

A sad piano riff starts it all off before a guitar riff kicks into gear in the verses which reminds me of “Come Undone” from Duran Duran.

Worth The Pain

Another new track. The style of this song is why I like the band, as they combine elements of electronica into a commercial sounding hard rock song.

Crank it.

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The Record Vault: Digital Summer – Cause And Effect

Sometimes a band comes across your ears that you just like.

Digital Summer is one such band. They fuse a combination of other styles, but it’s delivered in a way, which is easily assessable and executed with a high degree of technicality.

It was the “Counting The Hours” release in 2010 that got me interested. And I was on board for the fan funding campaign on the “Breaking Point” album and the reason why I got their CDs and other gear all signed.

They are from Phoenix, Arizona, formed in 2006. Up until this day, they have remained independent and unsigned, while still getting radio airplay and building a fan base. They are a great story to read about.

“Cause And Effect” came out in 2007 and the band for the album is Kyle Winterstein on vocals, Ian Winterstein and Johnmark Cenfield on Guitar, Anthony Hernandez on Bass and Chris Carlson on Drums.

I’ve seen em labeled as Post Grunge, Hard Rock, Alternative Metal, Post Rock, Nu-Metal, Modern Rock and Alternative Rock.

To me it’s all Rock And Metal.

Disconnect

A Nu Metal like intro (think Godsmack) gives way to a heavy and melodic verse (think Staind) and an AOR Chorus (think Fuel). And I love it.

There must be a way to cut the cord.

So much harder to do these days as we live in a society which thrives on connection.

I reject this reality

Social media is a one size fits all approach. You either comply with the regulations the providers have or you get booted from the service or your smart enough to have never joined in the first place.

Crash

This one reminds me so much of Staind and I like it.

Press play on this for the Chorus.

When life crashes down around you

What do we do next?

Pick ourselves up and start again or find someone to blame and go one like nothing happened.

Suffocate

Press play for the mood and feeling in the verse.

The Chorus feels like a Seether Chorus with Fuel added in for spice.

What would you do with the whole world / Rolled in your hands? / I’d like to watch it burn

The best way to sum up the darkness when your feeling down and depressed.

Now Or Never

If you like Three Days Grace and Seether, then you’ll like this.

Vocally in the verses, Kyle Winterstein comes across like Aaron Lewis.

Lyrically it’s got that 80s attitude of don’t look back to the past because if you want to change your life, the door is open but you’ll need to act fast as opportunities don’t last forever.

So don’t hesitate because it’s now or never.

Broken

Arpeggios start the song and then distorted guitars kick in.

Its aggressive and Three Days Grace/Fuel definitely cones to mind.

So break my wings and watch me fall / Cause I’m broken

A true way to describe a feeling post relationship break up.

One More Day

A clean tone strummed riff that reminds me of Incubus starts everything off.

But press play for the Chorus and allow the emotion and the mood take you away.

Just tryin to make it one more day

You can tattoo this as a slogan.

Like how Art Of Dying had the Chorus hook of “if I can get through this, I can get through anything”.

That’s life in a nutshell. Trying to make it one more day.

Chasing Tomorrow

Press play for the Chorus which brings memories of Hoobastank’s debut album which I’m a big fan of.

I cut myself / Made a brand new scar today

The scar is a reminder of a time and a place so you don’t make the same mistakes again.

Sick Inside

It feels like a Heavy Rock cut with a bit of Tool like grooves in the Intro.

And check out the super melodic Chorus which Staind would be proud off.

YOU! / Everything you do / MAKES ME SO SICK INSIDE

A lot of rage as the writer wishes they never met their partner.

This Time

A piano melody plays briefly before the guitars crash in. This song is a favorite as well as it reminds me of Breaking Benjamin.

I don’t care what it takes this time / I’ll do anything to make things right / The hardest day of my whole damn life / Was the day that I said goodbye

From the rage in the previous song to the emotion of loss in this one.

Whatever It Takes

It sounds like a Bush cut and I like it.

And this one is back to theme of doing whatever it takes to get someone out of their life.

Love And Tragedy

The song begins with a feed backing guitar with the use of an eBow to keep the notes sustaining.

Then a digital delay The Edge like progression kicks in and I’m all in.

Press play on this especially for the Chorus.

Violent cries of love and tragedy

There is a target to Kyle’s anger and you hear it.

Sxxxoxxxe

The album closer is like a soundtrack song, with a haunting piano, sampled voices and drums and a vocal line processed through a tremolo effect.

Throughout it, you hear guitars feed backing.

And then a vocal melody kicks in without any effects, repeating “just to suffocate with me”.

If you haven’t heard em, get cranking.

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Score Card Inc V2.0

Bon Jovi/Richie Sambora
“Aftermath of the Lowdown” is way better than any Bon Jovi music released from 2007 onwards. It’s deep and personal and there was no way that Jon Bon Jovi would have put his vocals to those songs, so they ended up being Richie Sambora songs. But it did nothing commercially and Sambora is from the cloth of sales and charts. So he went back to the comfort zone of Bon Jovi, but he wasn’t feeling it, so he went solo again,which has morphed into a duo called RSO.

Meanwhile, Bon Jovi continued on as business as usual, making huge profits at the box office. However, all was not well with the label and “Burning Bridges” was meant to be the goodbye letter, but money talks. And Jovi is back in league with the label they hated and a new album called “This House Is Not For Sale” is out. Suddenly the press is going gaga over its number 1 charting and since the legacy labels still control the news cycle. But the album is a flop. It’s second week was a disaster and nothing has been mentioned about its third or fourth week. But, the ones that control news cycle are doing their best to rewrite history, seizing on a few words that Jovi said “down playing Richie’s role in the song writing”. Suddenly, Richie wasn’t involved as much.

The truth is they are better together than apart.

But then again, all of the good bands had a high creative span of about 10 years before they split or went on hiatus. The Beatles, The Eagles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss and Aerosmith all had close to 10 years of mega creativity in the 70’s.

Metallica, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith (again), Slayer, Megadeth, Skid Row, Van Halen and many others had a good run from 1980 to 1992.

But the MTV era gave bands a longer shelf life and what we have in the modern age is sub-standard music.

But past success is no guarantee of future success. Our lives and society in general is more fluid, especially when it comes to new music. And Jovi is selling c grade re-writes of past hit songs, and using his brand to do it. There are just not enough new things there to convince people to listen and there’s not enough new things there to convince people who weren’t paying attention before to pay attention now. And Jovi along with Universal are hoping that people pay attention to the marketing and not to what’s inside the album. And the media is out of touch with consumers and the people in general. In all democratic countries, the media is consistently getting it wrong. Hell, they couldn’t even get Brexit and Trump correct because they fail to understand that success or failure is in the hands of the people and not the celebrities. And why haven’t all of the celebrities left UK or the US when Brexit and Trump happened.

What Jovi needed was a hit single. Instead we got 17 songs (that is if you got the deluxe edition) requiring too much of our time. Only diehard super fans will have the time, however, even those fans will have competing priorities these days. U2 is in the same boat and let’s not talk about the mess that was Aerosmith’s last album.

Because bands shouldn’t forget, that their newest release is competing with the history of recorded music and their old hits. I can easily switch from Metallica to Led Zeppelin to Dream Theater to Motley Crue to Ratt to Kiss to Machine Head to Dokken, etc.

Europe
Europe broke through to the mainstream about the same time Bon Jovi did in 1986 and that is where the similarity ends. While Jovi had commercially successful albums in “New Jersey” and “Keep The Faith”, Europe had modest success with “Out of This World” and “Prisoners of Paradise”. Europe then went on hiatus and lost their record deal with Epic in the process, while Jovi went on to more albums and eventually a comeback hit with “It’s My Life”.

But when Europe got their act together in 2003 and got control over their music catalogue, a funny thing happened. They started to make more money then what they did at the peak of their commercial success.

And Europe in 2016, is a better creative entity than Bon Jovi is.

Since 2003, the band has released five albums. The very modern and down tuned “Start from the Dark” album came out in 2004. Then in 2006, the very modern and melodic “Secret Society” album came out. The very modern but retro sounding “Last Look At Eden” album came out in 2009, followed by their jam record in “Bag Of Bones” in 2012. Then in 2015, their classic rock album “War Of Kings” came out.

And suddenly, Europe is getting traction again in the U.S and Australia, but this time it’s on their own terms and their own control. By doing what they do best. Be musicians first and create. They didn’t try and be tech entrepreneur, football club owners, gadget makers and so forth.

Digital Summer
One of the best DIY bands out there. In 2013, they were riding the wave of their fan funded “Breaking Point” album, released in 2012. 2013 also gave us “After Hours: Unplugged & Rewired”, which was followed by a stand-alone single called “50 Shades” in 2015. In between keeping a band going, the guys still hold down full time jobs.

Meanwhile, a new hashtag #DSAquarius has been doing the rounds on their Facebook page while new family additions in the DS world has led to a halt of the songwriting process for the follow up album. That’s how DIY Indie bands roll.

Don Dokken/George Lynch/Jeff Pilson/Mick Brown
In 2013 there was talk of a Dokken reunion but it never happened. Then finally in 2016 it happened and they all got paid well.

Since 2013, George Lynch has been the most creative of the four even though Don Dokken keeps on telling everyone that these projects didn’t do well commercially. Surely an artist should create because of a need to create, not because of a need to make millions.
• 2013 – Lynch Mob – Unplugged: Live from Sugarhill Studios
• 2014 – Lynch Mob – Sun Red Sun
• 2014 – KXM (featuring Doug Pinnick from King’s X and Ray Luzier from Korn)
• 2015 – Lynch Mob – Rebel
• 2015 – George Lynch – Shadow Train
• 2015 – Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
And Lynch has new releases coming out for Project N Fidelikah, Lynch Mob and KXM in 2016 and 2017 and it looks like Sweet and Lynch will have another album coming out as well.

Dokken on the other hand, released Broken Bones in 2012 and a rumoured project with Michael Schenker is still being talked about. Meanwhile, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown have become touring go to guys for Foreigner and Ted Nugent.

Black Veil Brides
So in January 2013, the Black Veil Brides told us “The Story Of The Wild Ones”, their concept rock opera about standing up against the army of F.E.A.R., which was also adapted into a film called “Legion of the Black”. The lead single, “In the End” became a streaming behemoth for the band with 32,301,515 streams and still counting.

Then in October 2014, they released their self-titled album, otherwise known as “Black Veil Brides IV” with Bob Rock as the producer. It gave birth to a favourite of mine in “Goodbye Agony” and on Spotify it has racked up 7,105,442 streams. Sonically it’s one of their best recordings. Since then Andy Biersack issued a solo release and we wait for new music from BVB. Like a lot of other bands in music, having new music out on a yearly basis is the new thing, like how it was in the seventies and eighties.

Zakk Wylde/Black Label Society
In 2013, Zakk dropped “Unblackened” a live acoustic album, which was forgettable, but no one can forget “Angel Of Mercy” (currently it has over 1.5 million streams) and that unbelievable lead section from Zakk.

“Angel Of Mercy” appeared on the “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” album released in 2014. Then in 2016, we got another acoustic album in “Book Of Shadows II”, but what we want is another groove metal Black Label Society album.

Dynazty
Matt Heafy from Trivium tweeted once that he has found his new favourite band. And I don’t disagree with him at all. Sweden has a healthy hard rock and metal scene and Dynazty is another to add to that list. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, the band was formed in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2008 that they found a lead singer. Fast forward 8 years later and I am hearing the band for the first time in 2016.

And they sum up what it means to be involved in the music business. You exist today completely off the radar screen. And eventually, people will notice. But it takes time.

It makes me want to scream “Fire, Flames, Fury”.

Black Stone Cherry
It’s the era of the bands with Black in their band name. Black Sabbath, Black Veil Brides, Black Label Society and Black Stone Cherry just to name a few. Vocalist Chris Robertson on the earlier recordings sounded better than Chris Cornell ever did. In 2013, the band was recording “Magic Mountain” and it came out in 2014. While 2016 gave us the “Kentucky” album (the band’s 5th album) and the ten year anniversary of their debut album.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Digital Summer Compendium

Digital Summer

Who?

It’s criminal that a lot more people don’t know of them however there is a certain part of the U.S that does. And that seems to be growing a little bit at a time. The original three from 2006 are Kyle Winterstein on vocals, Ian Winterstein on guitar and Anthony Hernandez on bass.

It actually all starts with Kyle Winterstein. One of his bands “Shaded Grey” fell apart due to pregnancies, coke addictions and alcoholism which led to Kyle getting a real job with the fire department as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). But, he never stopped writing. And then fate would have it that his brother’s band “ADL” would also fall apart, which offered Kyle a guitarist and a bassist and with the addition of Kyle’s old guitar player, Digital Summer was born.

Forget You

Start here. It’s the opening track from the fan funded “Breaking Point” album released in 2012. The “Kickstarter” goal was $25,000 and the band ended up raising over $50,000.

The track features Clint Lowery from Sevendust. From a rock perspective, the song is heavy, angry, to the point and very catchy. The intro is like a car crash and it is the perfect energy for the live arena.

“Shut your mouth
I’m done listening to you”
It’s over, it’s over
I’ve had enough were through
I’m taking back
The person that I used to be
Before these scars
Before your lies
“So fuck you, forget you, goodbye”

The last line seals the deal. It is simple and it makes the point pretty clear. The end result is that “Forget You” is burned into my DNA. I have played it over and over and over again.

Counting The Hours
It is the title track from their 2010, album. This song is more rooted in the alternative metal sound. While “Forget You” is more frantic, “Counting The Hours” is slower and groovier. You can hear the Sevendust influence.

“There’s nothing like an apocalypse to open your eyes”

What a great protest lyric!

Just Run
Another up-tempo, frantic and angry track. Even though it is from the “Counting The Hours” album released in 2010, it’s lyrical theme is very similar to “Forget You” from the 2012 “Breaking Point” album.

Keep on talking we’ll find out
What you’re made of

Did you know that angry music can actually make you feel better? It brings out the emotions necessary to cope with a negative situation. And when you hear someone else tearing into a person that wronged them, you know that you are not alone in the world. You know that others feel the same pain that you feel.

Wanted To Love You
The foot is off the accelerator. It is a ballad from the 2012, “Breaking Point” album and in my opinion it is one of their best ballads. It’s about the feel, the plaintive vocal that showcases Kyle’s voice, the sampled music echoes and the digital delayed guitar lines in the chorus.

These city streets reflect my thoughts and moments that should have been with you

You feel consoled when you hear it. It’s a haunting song that made an undeniable impression upon me.

I’ve wanted to love you for so long
I just need to
It’s the only thing left
That this empty heart can do

Suffocate
It is from their 2007 debut album, “Cause And Effect”.

Another day, another sunrise
Calls to me
Saying get out of this place

The place can be a relationship, the town, your occupation or just a real shitty situation. With each new day, there is a new hope. Carpe Diem, I say.

Disconnect
The opening track from “Cause And Effect”. Everyone can relate. We’d experienced love and the disconnection therefrom

Disconnect me
From this awful dream
This world is not designed for me
I reject this reality

We are constantly connected today in our lives. That is where the world is at right now. That is why this song connects. We have all wanted to disconnect for a while when things go to shit.

Breaking Point
The title track from their 2012 album because the breaking point is where everyone was at. They either had to band together  or it was just going to fall apart.

I’m on a downward spiral
Past the breaking point

We’ve all been there at some point in life. I feel the lyric, the message. In my case, the breaking point led to the band falling apart. The drummer had two kids from a previous relationship. His current partner had one kid from a previous relationship. Then his ex had two kids with her current partner and the drummers current partner wanted to have a kid with him. He was bringing his shit into my life and I didn’t like it.

To top it off, the bass player just had a baby with his current girlfriend. He also has a kid from a previous relationship. The bass players current girlfriend also has three kids with two different dudes and due to her drug addiction, had those kids taken by the Department Of Community Services.

To top it off even more the vocalist was torn by what his parents wanted, which was a degree and a well-paying job versus his desire to be a musician. So his focus shifted from the music to “why aren’t we making millions”. I was at the breaking point alright.

So Beautiful, So Evil
Another track from the “Counting The Hours” album.

She’s so beautiful, so evil

It is lost deep within the 16 song album however it is a great track with excellent dynamics. Love that guitar melody line in the Chorus.

Use Me
Another track from the “Counting The Hours” album. Morgan Rose from Sevendust makes an appearance on drums.

Put our problems behind us and just for this moment pretend everything is alright
Let me use you…. And I’ll let you use me
Let me use you…. To forget these memories

We all have this incredible urge to connect with a soul mate because no one wants to be lonely. Life is about the yin and the yang. You can’t be happy without being sad.

Sick Inside
It is from their 2007 debut album, “Cause And Effect”.

I can see right through,
Your distorted views
I know whats underneath
Its nothing real

Relationships that go bad are like a locust swarm on green fields. The person that leaves the relationship, leaves you stripped of resources both financially and mentally. We always take a while to see through the masquerade because we don’t want to be lonely.

Love And Tragedy

It is also from their 2007 debut album, “Cause And Effect”. It’s got movements and breaks. It’s atmospheric and it’s progressive. It’s catchy and groovy and listen to that guitar sound!

The waves crash down all around me
And consume all the air I breathe
The sirens sing to me in my sleep
A familiar song of love and tragedy
But the sun wont shine were the shadow grows
Yet my heart beats still, so tell me is this real
Tell me is it real

It’s all about the flood, washing away our sins. As I mentioned before, the yin and the yang. How can you know what love is if you haven’t experienced loss and tragedy.

While The City Sleeps
Another track from the “Counting The Hours” album. The song is a modern-day take on a clichéd theme from the Eighties. Bruce Springsteen said it in “Born To Run”, The Animals said it first with “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” while Journey told everyone to “Don’t Stop Believin”. The song is honest, sincere and inspiring.

While the city sleeps
We’ll make our way thru the night
Taking nothing to remind us
While the city sleeps
We’ll leave this world behind
Hoping they never find us.

No one has to know
We’ll just get up and go
Only guided by the night the stars and the road
With the destination nowhere
We don’t care
As long as it’s
Anywhere but here

They went out and set up their own label in Victim Entertainment which gives them a power to control their destiny. It’s a more difficult road. From a business perspective they would make more money as independent artists than they would on a major for a band of their size and stature. They turned down every record deal because they didn’t like the terms offered. They didn’t have the luxury to buy themselves onto a tour, which is known as a “buy on”.

But they had a work ethic and a business plan.

For Digital Summer another breakthrough came via Sevendust when Kyle became friends with Morgan Rose. The tour they did with Sevendust after that was a turning point. A management deal with “In De Goot” followed. SiriusXM Octane was willing to take a chance on an unsigned band.

The music industry is a brutal industry and the odds are stacked against the artist. Even if you’re the greatest musician, it doesn’t mean that people will hear you or care. And at the moment there is no shortage of bands trying to make it, with zero business minds.

This is not the ’80s. The industry has changed so much, it’s a different game right now.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Music Is All About Change

The new music industry is all about change.

Do you think that if you pull your music from Spotify that it is not available on YouTube with ad support (which means income) and with no ad support (which means no income).

The new music industry is about exploring different business models and seeing which one works for you.

Black Veil Brides had a Pre-Order pledge campaign for their new album and the perks on offer just kept on getting sold out. First week U.S sales are anaemic at 29,925 however does that mean that the album is not popular or that it is not a success. Go on YouTube. The BVBArmyVEVO account shows 2,206,786 views for the “Heart Of Fire” video, 1,208,958 for the “Faithless” audio and recently a clip went up for the ballad “Goodbye Agony” and that has already accumulated 464,059 views. Compared to their big song “In The End” with 36,560,728 views, you can see that the fan base is experiencing the band in many different ways. In this case, the band and their team (record labels, managers, accountants, lawyers and publishers) are making money from the Pledge Campaign, YouTube views, streams on other services, physical sales, mp3 sales and radio plays.

Coheed and Cambria had a vinyl remastered re-issue of “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” which sold out its first pressing and then they went on a sold out commemoration tour of the album. They are remaining relevant even though their last album came out in February 2013. For them, 2014 was all about touring, vinyl sales, special edition live box sets and merchandise.

Basically new business models from bands are reshaping the way music is marketed and distributed. There are countless new artists emerging and there are countless new ways for fans to listen to those artists.

The music industry of the past consisted of great control. Distribution in those days consisted of record stores. Technology has made way for new opportunities, thus creating new models. The internet has eliminated a lot of past costs within the music industry; this goes for the way music is recorded, the format of music, the marketing, and especially the distribution outlets. New models have taken away the control aspect.

Digital Summer recently asked a Facebook question to their followers about how does everyone find new music. They wanted to know how their fans had heard of them and where they usually hear new music they like? I went through the comments and grouped them into categories.

Radio like Sirius XM Octane, local terrestrial stations, Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeart, etc got 137 votes for 26%. At this point in time radio is still the best way to get your music out there. However it is the Live show that seals the deal for the band.

Live Shows especially comments around the opening slot that they had on the current Volbeat tour got 121 votes for 23%. It looks like the band really delivers on stage. Also the comments kept on saying that the band members took time out to meet newly converted fans and showed them where they can get free downloads of the band’s music. It’s all about connecting with fans folks.

Word of mouth from fans or band members got 63 votes for 12%. With the internet connecting everyone, I expect this to be more relevant.

YouTube via the algorithm suggestions got 57 votes for 11%. The tech industry is fragmented. When you combine the platforms like YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, Online publications, other online platforms and Amazon, you get a 37% reach from the Techies.

Spotify via the similar artists feature got 30 votes for 6%

Twitter via the band members following someone and that someone goes on to check the band out got 25 votes for 5%.

iTunes via the Genius or suggestions based on previous purchases got 25 votes for 5%.

Promotions like having cool looking merchandise, flyers, giving away free demo CD’s, having their stickers plastered all over town, endorsement companies, music stores got 16 votes for 3%.

Other Online Platforms like Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Google Play, XBOX Music, Last.fm, Gaming Music Videos got a combined 13 votes which also equates to 2%.

Instagram via the band members liking photos posted by users or following users got 10 votes for 2%. This was a surprise, however the work that the band members have done on this site is astounding. One fan commented that they are a Gemini Syndrome fan and when they posted a photo of Gemini Syndrome on Instagram, one of the Winterstein brothers liked the photo. The soon to be fan, clicked on his account, saw they had a band, checked out the band and then became a fan.

Facebook and MySpace got 10 votes each for 2%. Goes to show that while Facebook is a good tool for connecting with fans once you have them, it is not a good tool for finding new fans.

Online publications like Stereogum, Loudwire, Jango, Revolver, Ultimate-Guitar got 6 votes for 1%. This is another fragmented industry. The online publications offer no substance, no personal opinion. It’s just all thumbs up, pat my back and I will pat yours style of reporting.

The Pirate Bay/Torrents got 4 votes for 1%. Looks like copyright infringement is not such a big issue.

Amazon got 3 votes for 1%. This is how I found out about the band. Their “Counting The Hours” album came up with bands I might like based on my purchases.

So what does tell any new artist trying to build a career in music.

Be ready to change on the whim and be ready to try different ways of promoting, connecting and marketing your music.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

How Do You Know If An Album Is Successful?

You are an artist performing solo or within a band.

You decide to record an album.

You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.

You do some promo and release it.

Then what do you do.

It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.

Sebastian Bach still can’t get his head around why he has 800,000 Facebook Followers and only 6000 people in the U.S purchased his new album “Give Em Hell” in the opening week. For the record, it is a great album. I have heard the album, but I didn’t purchase it. I went to Spotify and streamed it.

So if it doesn’t sell as expected, it doesn’t that mean the album didn’t do well. What it means is that fans of music have consumed it in many different ways. I actually liked it enough to go onto Amazon and add it to my shopping cart. I haven’t purchased it yet. I will wait until the price drops below $10 before I do. And then it will go on the shelve in its wrapper.

In this day and age sales can never be used a metric for success. However, if there are songs there that are undeniable and an audience starts to resonate with those songs, then expect to sell.

Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy era. In the same era that has greedy corporations telling politicians that piracy is decimating the music industry.

Well, this piracy era hasn’t stopped Five Finger Death Punch from moving over 500,000 units in the U.S alone for each album. Yep that’s right, Five Finger Death Punch have been selling records since their debut album came out in 2007. Even the recent “Wrong Side of Heaven” Volumes 1 and 2 are moving close to the 500,000 mark for each of them. Combined these two albums have moved over 700,000 units.

So I am really over bands or artists who lament that no one buys their music. People do buy music. People do stream music. People do download music without paying for it.

And all of those people who access an artists music both legally and illegal will also invest in concert tickets and merchandise. They will even invest in REAL limited/deluxe edition perks. Not the kind of perks that just come with a DVD or a T Shirt.

Artists should take a leaf out of RatPak Records. They have various packages available with each release and at a price that isn’t extortion.

In my opinion, an album can be defined as a success if people are coming to the shows and singing the songs of the album.

WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything however if you talk to any WASP fan and I bet you they can sing the songs from that album. In 2014, it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.

Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell in the millions, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.

One of my favourite independent bands “Digital Summer” have been managing their own career and their own releases with great success. Recently they just had a run of dates with Volbeat and Trivium. Prior to that, they have done tours with Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Three Doors Down and many other acts. They have done shows on their own. And they manage themselves. They finance their own recordings. They ask their fans to help out via fan funding campaigns. So big deal if their albums haven’t sold in the millions. They are over 10 years deep and still rocking.

So how do you know if an album is successful in 2014?

If people are listening to it, coming out to the shows and singing the songs.

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