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The Coffis Brothers & the Mountain Men

 

 

The Coffis Brothers & the Mountain Men is a band from a small town called Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz Mountains, formed by two brothers Kellen and Jamie, and occasionally joined on stage with Henry, Kyle and Mason. Their musical inspiration comes from acts such as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Norah Jones and Bob Dylan, which shows in their music. Their full length album is available to listen to up on their Web site. When I first listened to the album, I was amazed by how much I enjoyed it. I listened to the entire album, without skipping any of the songs, which is really rare for me. I’m a pretty big Tom Petty band, so I had a good feeling I would love the Coffis Brothers, which turned out to be correct. It’s hard to pick a favorite from the album, but some of the songs I liked the most are Down to the Wire, All I Need and You Can Run. I asked Kellen some questions about how the band got started, about recording their album and what advice he’d give to bands that are just starting out.

BLD Music Quest: How did The Coffis Brothers first get started?

Kellen: The Coffis Brothers & the Mountain Men (Jamie Coffis, Kellen Coffis, Henry Chadwick, Kyle Poppen, and Mason Hutchinson) got formed last summer, 2010. Jamie and I started writing song about 3 years ago but it wasn’t until spring of 2010 that we started playing out in public as a duo. In May of 2010 we had our first show as a full band. All five of us went to the same high school and have known each other for most of our lives. We had been jamming with each other for years so the forming of the band was pretty organic.

BLD Music Quest: You guys have some great recordings. When did you guys record & how did it go?

Kellen: Last January we booked four days in a great studio in Santa Cruz called Gadgetbox Studios, where we had the pleasure of working with Andy Zenzcak. We did all the tracking in those four days and had an absolute blast doing it. We wanted to make the songs sound as live as we could, so the recording process was basically all of us playing the songs together at the same time in the same room. About 99% of the leading and backing vocals were done live and we tried to limit the amount of over-dubbing involved. We sort of followed the model of Tom Petty records, where it really sounds like a rock & roll band playing together, and with the magic of Andy, I think we did that. We are more than pleased with our product, as well as our experience, from Gadgetbox.

BLD Music Quest: What plans does the band have for the rest of the year?

Kellen: We’re trying to stay as busy as we can. Jamie and I have been traveling around the Bay Area playing as a duo as much as we can. In the next couple months we will be heading to Sacramento, Sonoma, and Portland, Oregon. We also have a few full band shows set up in Santa Cruz and further up the peninsula as well.

BLD Music Quest: What advice would you give to bands just starting out?

Kellen: We are a pretty new band so we are learning quite a bit, but the best advice I can give is play music as much as you can, whether you’re playing in front of 5 people or 100 people, just play. Also go see live music as much as you can. I always learn a lot going to see other bands play and I think it really helps you see what works and what doesn’t work on stage.

 

You can listen to their full length album and see where they’re playing next at:

http://www.coffisbrothers.com

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A Thousand Years At Sea “We Will Fall Apart”

When I first checked out A Thousand Years At Sea’s new EP, “We Will Fall Apart”, I was taken by surprise. It was the first time I’ve heard of the band, so I didn’t really know what to expect. On their Facebook, the band says “A Thousand Years At Sea is the fusion of singer-songwriters Colin Cotter and Ethan Lewis, and pianist Neil Pearlman’s distinctive and innovative musical sounds, bringing together elements of folk, jazz, celtic, and rock into a dynamic and unique experience.” I’m always impressed when a band can mix numerous types of music into one song and still pull it off, creating their own unique sound. I was taken by surprise at how well ATYAS mixes folk, jazz, celtic and rock together. The fiddle, keyboard, guitar and drums all come together very nicely. The new EP consists of songs Desperado, The Growing Light, I’ll Just Swim and Like Fading Faith. I would say my favorite song off the EP is Desperado, with I’ll Just Swim following in a close second place. I found the EP to be very relaxing to listen to, while still combining a lot of good rhythm and beats. In order to find out more about the new EP and the band, I asked band member Colin Cotter a few questions about how the band got started, how recording the EP was and what the band’s plans are for the rest of the year.

 

BLD Music Quest: How did A Thousand Years at Sea first get started?

Colin:  Back in 2008 I was writing a lot of songs, but I didn’t really have an outlet for them.  At that time I wasn’t doing a ton of performing, but I was playing for fun a lot, usually just having Celtic sessions with friends.  Ethan Lewis and I have been friends for ten years or so, having both grown up attending the same fiddle camp, Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School.  I knew Ethan was a really rad fiddler who was also getting into songwriting more and more, so that along with the fact that we always got a long really well made him an ideal candidate for a band-mate.  Neil Pearlman and I met at a party freshman year of college out in New York City, and it came up that he was a pianist and mandolin player who was really into the Celtic and Cape Breton music scene.  The trad music world is a tiny place, so we ended up realizing we had a ton of mutual friends, and decided we’d have some tunes in the next few days.  After jamming with Neil, I knew his style would be a great fit for what I was trying to accomplish – he incorporates elements for our shared background of Celtic music while involving a lot of really interesting jazz and funk ideas.  So logistically getting the band together was and is always a bit of a nightmare, since Neil lives on the east coast while Ethan lives on the west coast, but I talked to both of them, and in January 2009 I had Neil fly out to California at the end of our winter break, and we recorded our first CD, Silver Shores Await.

 

BLD Music Quest: You guys have a great EP! When did you guys record & how did it go?

Colin:  Thanks a lot!  Recording Silver Shores Await was an amazing time – it was my first experience in the studio, and it was our first chance to get these new songs recorded, which was big for me and Ethan, since doing the whole singer-songwriter thing was a big step outside our Celtic comfort zone.  So in January of 2009, we flew Neil out to the bay area, and we had about a day to run our material before recording at Live Oak Studio in Berkeley, CA.  In that first weekend we got 13 tracks recorded and rough-mixed.  The recording process was really fun, since we basically had just the bare bones of each arrangement planned, and the rest we whipped up right there in the studio.  When I flew back home for spring break, Ethan and I went back into the studio with Live Oak’s engineer, James Ward (who was awesome to work with) and worked out our punch-ins and did the mixing.  We had a little time left over at the end, so that was when I decided we should try recording the last track, One More Mile – it’s the only track without Neil on it, which is because he was thousands of miles away from the studio when it was recorded.

We recorded our new EP, We Will Fall Apart, back in April of 2011.  Ethan teaches at a school out in California, so I had him fly out to NYC to play a couple gigs and get these recordings done so we could have them for the summer.  This time around we decided to limit the number of songs and work out some more refined arrangements while still keeping a degree of “winging it” in there. We had a great engineer in Nathen Rosenberg over at Doghouse NYC Studio in Brooklyn, and we pounded out 4 tracks, fully mixed in a day.  Recording this one was a lot of fun, as we were incorporating drums (metal drummer, Alex Cohen) into the band for the first time.  Emphasizing the rock element was really cool, because up to this point, I felt like rock had been somewhat trapped as an underlying influence in ATYAS’ music, but having the drums in there really helped bring it out front.

 

BLD Music Quest: What plans does the band have for the rest of the year?

Colin:  Right now we’re about to jump off on a northern California tour for a few weeks, starting with the KVMR Grass Valley Celtic Festival for the first weekend of October.  After that, Ethan and I will have a weekend here, and a weekend there for gigs through December and more extensive gigging will pick up around January.  It’s a little hectic to get the whole band together, since Neil lives out east and plays with a few groups, Ethan teaches during the school year, and I play in another group as well.  What this means though, is a couple times a year, we have tours that last a couple weeks, and in between those, I play shows as a duo, either with Ethan when I’m out on the west coast, or with Neil when I’m out on the east coast.

 

BLD Music Quest: What advice would you give to bands just starting out?

Colin:  I think my most fundamental piece of advice to bands just starting out is that while music is this amazing thing that people spend their whole lives doing just for fun, if you want to be a professional musician you really need to treat it like a business.  That doesn’t mean stop having fun with music (if you stop having fun with music, you need to reevaluate things…), but you need to be really, really proactive with everything from booking to marketing so you can make money.  You can’t be a professional musician for long if you aren’t making any money at it.  The money is there (usually not a ton), but you need to go after it.  Every show should build your audience – that means new people in the door who come back next time, every time.  You’re doing yourself no favors if no new people come, or if your performance isn’t polished, prepared, etc.  In short, there are annoying, gritty aspects to working in the music industry, but don’t be lazy about them, be professional.  Grinding out the annoying parts of being a musician is what allows you to be a musician.

 

You can check out the band for yourself at their Facebook page or buy the EP off iTunes or CDBaby.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Thousand-Years-At-Sea/118067617564

http://www.cdbaby.com/athousandyearsatsea

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Breathe Carolina “Hell Is What You Make It” Review


Breathe Carolina has always been a band I’ve enjoyed. I got their album “Hello Fascination” just about two years ago and I had it on repeat for weeks afterwards. It’s still one of the CDs I play often in my car. Right around when their new album “Hell Is What You Make It” came out, I first listened to the song Blackout. I was instantly addicted to it and had it get the whole album. Just like I assumed, I absolutely love the album. The thing I love about Breathe Carolina is they aren’t like every other band out there. Their sound is their own and it’s unique. They have a rock sound, with a little electronic mix and even some screaming parts. The rhythm easily gets stuck in your head. Listening to this band will instantly put you in a good mood.

Blackout is still one of my favorite songs from it, but there are numerous other good ones. I also really like Wooly, Last Night (Vegas), Gone So Long and Take It Back. The new album has a little bit of a different sound than the last album. I was instantly hooked on the last album, but “Hell Is What You Make It” took a little while to grow on me. “Hello Fascination” may still be my favorite album by the band, but the new album is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re already a fan of Breathe Carolina.

If you’ve never listened to “Hello Fascination”, I would recommend you listen to songs like Take Me to Infinity, My Obsession, Hello Fascination…or pretty much just the entire album.

You can check out the band at the following websites:

http://www.helliswhatyoumakeit.com

http://www.facebook.com/breathecarolina

 

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Every Avenue “Bad Habits” Review

 

When I first started my music blog, I did a review on the band Every Avenue and their album “Shh, Just Go with It”. I had never heard anything from them before and I instantly loved them. Some of my favorites from that album are Think of You Later (Empty Room) and Between You and I. The entire album is amazing. So when the band recently came out with a new album “Bad Habits”, I had to get it as soon as possible.

I wasn’t expecting the band to outdo their past albums, but they clearly have. In my opinion, the songs on “Bad Habits” are easily some of the best music to come from Every Avenue yet. The lyrics are amazing and there are some awesome guitar parts in a lot of the songs. Some of my favorite songs on the new album are Fall Apart, No One But You, Only Place I Call Home, and Somehow, Someday, Somehow. There honestly isn’t a song on the album that I didn’t enjoy.

The song No One But You has some amazing guitar parts in it. My favorite part of the song is towards the middle where it sort of pauses and it’s only the vocals with a simple drum beat. Only Place I Call Home has a great little guitar solo right in the beginning of the song. I really like the lyrics in Someday, Somehow. Fall Apart has a great melody to it too. Overall, I think the band has simply progressed a lot when it comes to their music. I didn’t think it was possible, but the band’s talent has only gotten better.

The band recently just played all the dates at the Vans Warped Tour, while promoting the new album. If you like bands like Mae, Paramore or Mayday Parade, then I’d recommend you should check them out.

http://www.myspace.com/everyavenue

http://www.facebook.com/everyavenue

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Hestyn: Emerging Band from the OC!

Hestyn is a new band from Orange County, California that consists of Ethan Pacilli, Christopher John Peterson, Jordan Lakin and Jordan Henry. The band was formed in early 2010 and they’ve gotten their inspiration from bands like the Foo Fighters and Alter Bridge. They’ve even recently played at some impressive venues such as House of Blues – Anaheim and Chain Reaction.

When I first listened to Hestyn, it reminded me a lot of Nickelback, who I also happen to be a fan of. They have a great alternative sound. I really love the lead singer Ethan’s vocals. I like how the band has variety to their songs, with songs that start out mellower like Cold Rain. They also have some great guitar parts. Out of the five songs on their Facebook, I would say my favorite is either Breathe Free or Cold Rain. I really love some of their lyrics, like this part from Cold Rain. “I’ve been waiting on a cold rain, on a rain to wash me out. I’ve been leaning on a stale dream, on a stale dream to hold me down.”

I will definitely be making it out to a show in the future!

If you want to check out the band for yourself, you can do so on their Web site:

www.hestyn.com

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The Honey Trees “Wake the Earth” Review

 

I was first introduced to the band The Honey Trees about a year ago after a friend of mine saw them live and put their song To Be with You on a mix CD for me. He was completely amazed by both the music and by how friendly Becky Flip and Jacob Wick were, the two musicians that make up the band. Since getting that one song, I’ve listened to it dozens of times and I never get tired of it. Recently, I purchased the rest of their album ‘”Wake the Earth”. To say the least, I am just as impressed with the rest of the album as I first was with To Be with You. If you’re interested in finding soft and relaxing music, I would highly recommend that you check out The Honey Trees. I’m positive you won’t be disappointed.

My other favorite songs on the album are Don’t Fear, Through Your Eyes and Love & Loss. To Be with You still remains high on my list of favorites too. I’m always a fan of songs with piano parts in it, like Love & Loss. Whenever I’m listening to new music, I always pay close attention to the lyrics. It makes me appreciate a band so much more when they can master unique song lyrics. The songwriting in this album is so creative and beautiful. And to top it all off, Becky has a pretty outstanding voice.

Besides the music itself, I always pay attention to how a band interacts with their fans on the Internet. The Honey Trees does a great job at this. If you go on their Facebook, you’ll notice they reply to all the posts they get from their fans. They often reply to fans on Twitter as well. In my opinion, it says a lot about a band when they take the time to have a conversation with their fans and show their appreciation. I will absolutely be going to a show when they’re in my area!

 

You can check out more by The Honey Trees on their Web sites:

www.facebook.com/thehoneytrees

www.myspace.com/thehoneytrees

www.twitter.com/thehoneytrees

 

 

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