Ever wonder how exactly my posts are made from start to finish? Whether you’re a curious reader, an aspiring writer, or a musician interested in submitting your work, it’s understandable that you might want to know a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, writing takes time, and so does running a blog with a scope like this one. I’m excited to give you a short behind-the-scenes look at my daily life as a music blogger!
Obviously, not every day looks the same, especially since I am a student. Below is a typical day during the semester for me, as accurately portrayed as possible….
8am: Wake up and leave for my first class around 8:45. I get there ridiculously early so my butt is in my chair for when class starts at 9:30, but I can get a lot done before the professor even arrives. If a post is being published, I typically send a link to the artist and do my social media promotion for it during this time frame, including writing the text, creating the graphic on Canva, and researching and adding hashtags. If I am publishing a Wednesday feature, I copy and paste the text and Canva graphic that I created earlier in the week for the post.
9:30am – 4:45pm: I am typically in class during this time period, depending on the day. If I have breaks during the day, I will use them to check my email and respond to artists or companies that may have contacted me. If time permits, I will also begin planning a post for the next week, or updating my calendar. Social media work also takes place during this period; I try to engage with other users by liking and commenting on their posts and following a few to make them aware of my account and the work I do. If I am running a promotion or need more artists to review, I will also post in music-related Facebook groups about it and potentially network a bit in my favorite group, Girls Behind the Rock Show, before logging off for more class time.
7pm: After dinner, I will choose to either focus on homework or write a post, depending on the day. I try to set a day to focus on each music review, particularly when it comes to album reviews, so I have ample time to really get into the sounds of each. I will listen to each track about three times, so reviewing can be pretty time-consuming before I even start writing. That being said, it’s a pleasant way to spend all that time!
11pm: After I finish writing, I’ll typically spend some time doing something else to relax and decompress after working all day. I try to get ready for bed and be attempting to fall asleep by 11, but my work never really stops: before bed, I tend to check my email once more and do a bit more work on social media before I go to sleep.
Obviously, weekends and workdays at my marketing job look a bit different, but my day-to-day life as a music reviewer is relatively consistent when it comes to what I do each day, even if the times change. If you’re interested in becoming a music blogger (or any kind of writer, honestly), consistency is the best thing you can do for yourself!
What does your daily life look like? I hope you enjoyed getting a peek at mine!
Tired of New York-based cover bands? All In Moment could be just the group you need!
Formed two years ago in a Staten Island basement by fraternity brothers Chris Scott (Vocals), Dave Cohen (Guitar), Michael Funk (Bass), and Dan Luczak (Drums), All In Moment is a hard rock band that will be familiar to fans who frequent the tri-state area scene, now with a change in the lineup with the addition of Luke Lewis (Bass).
All In Moment enjoys producing tracks that challenge the normal themes of sex, drugs, and materialism that we often hear in modern music, instead focusing on ideas they feel are important to communicate to their audience. Their self-titled album, released in June 2019, features a broad array of ideas and musical themes that reflect the group’s wide range of personal influences.
The first track of All In Moment’s self-titled album is titled “Before the Bombs Drop.” Inspired by Rage Against the Machine, the song discusses today’s turbulent political landscape in a classic metal style. The influence is clear in the driving instrumentals that begin the track; stormy percussion and snaking guitar riffs lead us into clearly-delivered lyrics that ask “Who are these people that we’re choosing” to lead us? Perfect for fans of Rage Against the Machine, Green Day, and Anti-Flag, this politically-charged anthem is a powerful way to begin the album.
“Haunt Me” employs haunting, high-pitched guitar riffs paralleled by rolling, deep basslines to create a sense of duality in the instrumentals. Although I wish the vocals were a bit more forward in the mix, the balance between high and low is wonderfully done in this track, making for a full-feeling listening experience. “Haunt Me’s” phrasing is also well-fit to the rhythms in the instrumental, allowing the song as a whole to flow smoothly from beginning to end. Small details like the bass fills at 4:30 and strategic cymbal hits throughout the track add a lot to the mix, solidifying “Haunt Me” as one of the strongest tracks of the album in my book.
“Unstoppable” is the heaviest track of All In Moment’s self-titled album. Based on the theme of feeling so powerful that nothing can stop you (hence the title), the song is energetic and filled with classic metal-style instrumentals. Shaking waves of cymbals and shimmying guitar lines weave their way through the drawn-out vocals, chugging along through each measure in between. The main breakdown of the track emphasizes the screams and spaces between the notes that makes metal such an interesting genre to listen to.
The next track, “From Chaos Comes Clarity,” is a great follow-up to “Unstoppable” in terms of musical themes. A bit lighter, but faster and full of groove, the track is one of my favorites of the album for the way its energy, off-beat phrasing, and instrumentals interact. The lyrics of “From Chaos Comes Clarity” reflect on the idea that sometimes you have to lose it all in order to truly find yourself: “Sometimes we all gotta fall / To find ourselves / From chaos, from chaos, from chaos comes clarity / From chaos, from chaos, from chaos comes clarity / I turned to drugs and alcohol to fill this empty hole / I’ve become a lot colder to all the people I know.”
“For You” is the track of the album that holds the widest appeal in terms of genre. Twinkling guitar notes and comparatively soft vocals tell a timeless story of a girl over well-placed kick drum and bass rhythms: “I don’t know what it is / About you, is it your pretty face? / Maybe the way you laugh, I know it’s made me want to dance…. / If I could, you know I would / Give you the world.” Although markedly different from All In Moment’s other tracks with more of a pop rock feel, “For You” has a lot of potential to be a fan favorite, and maybe even a track that introduces new fans to All In Moment’s heavier tracks, and heavier music in general.
“Refuse the Call” pays tribute to HBO’s Game of Thrones in its themes of familial betrayal. Beginning with haunting vocals soon joined by intense, rhythmic guitar lines and heavy bass notes, the track brings the album back around to All In Moment’s heavier style in dramatic juxtaposition to the previous song. The emotion in the vocals echoes that of each piece of the instrumentals, aggression and a sense of betrayal present in delivery and tone as strongly as it is in the lyrics. “Refuse the Call” is an effective track for storytelling and emotive energy.
The bassline at the beginning of “Oblivion” is attention-catching right away. Right in the pocket and effective at setting the tone of the track, the bass is used as more of a melodic instrument than a rhythmic one, which is always a refresher. Although the phrasing of the vocals of “Oblivion” could be mixed up a bit—nothing is truly emphasized when every word is dragged out—their rhythm flows well with the instrumentals, which really take the spotlight in this one. That being said, the chorus is well-done on all fronts, and definitely catchy in its simplicity.
“Not That Far Away” is the first song All In Moment created together, but the final one of the album. The song incorporates some of the softer guitar themes of “For You” to kick things off, soon to be set off by driving rhythms and aggressive staccato notes as we move along farther into the song. “Not That Far Away” is impressive for a first song, and does well placed last in the album for its inclusion of familiar themes from almost all of the previous tracks.
During my freshman year of college, one of my favorite professors invited me to read at an event called “PoJazz.” If my freshman self had ever heard the musical creations of Bad Ties, I’m sure she wouldn’t have hesitated at all to join in!
Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, since 2017, Bad Ties takes PoJazz to a new level with their experimental mix of spoken word, jazz, and post-punk to create a brand new style of beat poetry. The work of Garland Wells (Poet), Jacob Moran (Producer), Billy Reed (Bass), and Jason Chrisman (Tenor Sax) is truly one of a kind.
The band’s latest release, titled Music 4 No One Vol. 1, is their fourth LP. The record, mixed and mastered by Sid Saravanan, focuses on themes of heartbreak, displacement, and substance abuse, and was released on December 14, 2019 at a celebratory hometown show.
“Just Goofin” plays with tempo and empty space in a way that crafts an utterly unique listening experience. Mixing white space with a dragging, stilted melody, the instrumentals of the track add a lot to the poetry’s lyrical twists and turns, creating layers of rhythm that the ear races to understand: “Tenuous, terrible, / Marble faced shame! / Ride along, bridal song, / Warbled mouth dame. / Step away, entry way / Nothing was the same. / Nonsense words, all preferred, / All parties were game. / Simmer down, abandon crown, / Gyges is dead. / Staccato walk, bravado talk, / Disregard what he said. / The ring was turned, Republic burned, / I’ve died a hundred times. / A monster’s life, this constant strife, / I’ve lied a hundred rhymes.”The saxophone outro takes the staccato backing and turns it on its head, producing a flowing, mellifluous contrast to give listeners a lot to think about.
“Critical” continues the flow of the ending notes of “Just Goofin’,” allowing Garland’s storytelling abilities to shine over a bed of twinkling notes. He tells of a kind of self-doubt and failure artists know all too well, and the sense of hopelessness that comes with it: “We found out on the long train ride back from Brooklyn, / Reeling from a show that only sold seats / To staff and ghosts. And / A fear hits me in the chest / That grows from marble to fate / And all with the flick of a baton. / Were we doomed? / Is this early reaction a kindness from peers? / Do I see the words about to burst, only for them to ring all hollow? / What the hell are we doing here?”
“Critical” is one of those tracks that makes you wish you could come up with lines as nuanced as Garland’s. It’s easy, as a writer and a music lover, to appreciate just how much thought and skill was put into every word.
“Allure of the Abyss” continues the musical themes found in the previous tracks in the form of rhythmic white space and slightly off-beat instrumentals that create an ideal level of dissonance. Instead of storytelling, “Allure of the Abyss” focuses on character development. Avoiding cliches and relying heavily on metaphorical descriptions, the lyrics paint a picture of a woman in specifics: “She’s no believer, /
But she’s deeply spiritual. / She prays to her stones, / A rock solid miracle. / She says they enlighten her, / Clear away fog of mind. / Deep down she’s just lonely, / She has far too much time. / She’s a corpse during sunlight, / She’s radiant in the moonlight.
/ She hums arcane melodies, / Reads death dates for fun. / She struts down back alleys, / Dances down by the docks.” The characterization in “Allure of the Abyss” creates a woman I want to learn more about in future songs.
“Cigarettes and Coke” is another well-produced track that illustrates the offbeat talents of Bad Ties. Featuring the bass in prominence, the instrumentals are deep and psychedelic underneath dreamy spoken-word vocals. On the surface, “Cigarettes and Coke” is a strange and perilous journey into strangeness. When analyzed further, patterns emerge in the seemingly random musicality, all driven by the relationship between the bassline, following instrumentals, and rhythm of the vocals. “Cigarettes and Coke” is the perfect Alice in Wonderland track for poetry and music fans alike.
To many bands, a song the length of “A Lifetime Position” would be a throwaway interlude. To Bad Ties, it’s a whole new story, this time a rhyming ode to the life of a poet set to the deep drone of a bass: “I implore to you all, / Raise me up like Lazarus. / Though I have to warn you / This small man is hazardous. / Loud, quiet, / Sunk low, stuck in this canyon. / Committed for life, / The poet D’Artagnan.” The exploration of the speaker’s life juxtaposed with that of their peers creates a lovely dissonance within the track.
The beginning of “Gods on the Fritz” features a 90’s sitcom-style voice over, including a laugh track. What follows are clubby wavelengths, overlaid by the story that reflects the title, which invokes many allusions and plenty of mythology: “Burnt to a crisp / Icarus carrying the sun. / You can call me Copernicus, / Party of one. / Fly me to Hermes, / I’m feeling this brandy. / Shrug on me, Atlas / I’m feeling Ayn Randy.” I enjoy the poetry of “Gods on the Fritz,” but the well-placed chaos in them makes the track one that I, personally, wouldn’t be able to just listen to without purpose.
“Wicked Eyes” brings back the slower flow of some previous tracks that I enjoy. Smooth, warbling instrumentals guide the song through its 1:40 running time, their continuity reassuring as we move through the story within the poetry. The delivery of the lyrics of “Wicked Eyes” is truly what makes the track unique. Garland’s intonation and attitude are clearly practiced, every bit of emphasis well-placed, especially through lines like “There are couples everywhere / These two, those two / Whose Boo? That’s MY Boo. / How can I be sipping / This witches brew? / At what point in the trajectory / Did I stray askew?” Songs like “Wicked Eyes” are great to really show a band’s personality and make listeners feel more connected to the group and their work.
The dark bell tones that kick off “Funeral” create a dramatic setting for the building of tensions within the song. The description of setting stands out within the poetry of the song: “The coffin coma, / An oft rotting aroma / The ropes creaking slowly, / The submerged bed eternal. / The 6’ by 2’ hole, / Was drowned in a flash, / The crowd disengaged, / The proud priest enraged. / The dirty river vertical, / My lost love now lateral.”Mournful, twisting saxophone notes emphasize the tangle of feelings found within the lyrics, a perfect combination and one of the most effective uses of the instrumentals of the album.
“Soul and Time” brings back the rising and falling instrumentals and plodding beats of previous parts of the album. The slow, jilted rhythms and depth within the bass notes create an interesting ambiance for the vocals. Long lines and well-phrased lyrics make for a solidly-paced track with an abundance of rhetorical questions such as “Are you my Cleopatra? / Does venom flow within your pretty veins? / How does this love pretend to function? / How does her memory paint me in her mind? / Be it a charming villain? / Floundering nebbish? / Cynical fool? / And how did your portrait fare?” Bad Ties’ exploration of love and loss is definitely a deep one.
“Outward Hands” is the final track of Music 4 No One Vol. 1. White noise and birdsong lead us gently into lyrics, followed closely by a tense, deep thrum at the heart of the song. Although most albums typically end with a track that wraps things up nicely with a bow made up of the previous themes of the album, it is clear that Music 4 No One Vol. 1. is not meant for that. Instead, measures of gentle saxophone, the flutter of a page flip, and dark vocals leave us, all at once, both satiated and and starving for more.
Bad Ties plans to tour for Music 4 No One Vol. 1 throughout 2020. To catch a show in your area, stay tuned on their social media for updates!
“From their origins as an ambient-alternative rock band in New York City, Heavenly Faded have been writing, recording, and setting the stage ablaze…since 2018.” Formed after three of the members left a previous band due to creative differences, Heavenly Faded is made up of Rijk van Zanten (Bass), Luis Payero (Vocals/Guitar), Stanley Augonis (Drums), and Danny Morrison (Vocals/Guitar), who joined up after the group was initially formed.
After a Brooklyn Bowl performance and their biggest release to date with “Cartoon Eyes,” Heavenly Faded is releasing their latest single, “Constellations,” to be released today (November 22, 2019)!
“Constellations” begins with a building of tension in the guitar and percussion lines. Rhythmic, methodical riffs make way for the classically indie-rock vocals, which are perfectly suited to the unassumingly powerhouse instrumentals. The bassline, albeit not at the forefront, is well-suited to the track, working with both the guitars and the drummer to create a balanced mix of rhythm and melody through the track’s twists and turns. Even throughout tempo changes and during less-saturated sections, every beat obviously matters to every member of Heavenly Faded; measures are clearly planned and practiced to create a semblance of effortlessness that makes for easy listening. The work put into the single is clear even to the untrained ear throughout every dip and sway of the song.
Although they are not the focus of such a dynamically-instrumental track, the lyrics of “Constellations” also do not disappoint. Musical and poetic in their own way, the words of each verse tell their own action-packed story: “Lick your wounds and get back in action / Nothing’s gonna stop you short this time / A million lives in a second’s fraction / Head spinning in a different state of mind / Pourin’ fuel on a firecracker / Light it up and burn it down the wire / Crooked smile in a sea of laughter / Go ahead and throw me in the fire.”
Overall, I can confidently say that Heavenly Faded’s “Constellations” is definitely a track that will make it to my regular listening rotation.
So, you’re in a band. You spent hours in the studio, and now you have a single/EP/album. You want people to listen to it. But how?
One answer to this age-old question is pretty simple, but understandably intimidating to think about: Music reviews!
Deciding to send out your music for review is a big step, but it isn’t the end of it all. Just because you send a reviewer your music doesn’t mean they’ll review it! But…how do you even find someone who wants to review your music in the first place?
Hang tight! If you want to submit your music for review, but don’t even know where to start, you’re in the right place! While I can’t claim to know everything about the process, I am a reviewer, so… Do with that information what you will, and read on if you’re interested!
Step One: Decide if you’re really ready for review.
If your album isn’t completely finished or just on the verge of being so, you should typically not be contacting a reviewer. Why waste our time and the potential for a great working relationship if you won’t be ready to send us your music when you claim you will be? While we reviewers do understand that things happen, we cannot always be flexible in terms of waiting until the night before publishing to finally receive the materials for review.
On another note, is your ego ready? While my site generally focuses on the positive and kind, constructive criticism, you will have to read comments that aren’t always what you want to hear from any reviewer. If you aren’t prepared to deal with all of the feedback, you shouldn’t submit your music for review until you feel confident enough that you’re giving us your best, but still want to improve in the future. Music is never perfect!
Step Two: Do your research!
It’s great to want to send your music out, but knowing where to send it is a big deal. Some blogs or magazines specialize in certain genres, and you’ll feel like an idiot if you’re rejected because the writer doesn’t even work in your genre. Please, please read a few reviews before submitting to a magazine or blog. Make sure to submit to people whose other content fits with yours in terms of genre, values, and especially level. Your music is probably great, but if Altpress doesn’t know your name, they’re not likely to just give you a feature. Supporting mall bloggers and magazines is a great way to give back to the scene, but also to break into press to start with!
Step Three: Read the requirements.
Many of the reviews that I pass on are due to silly misinterpretations of my submission requirements. In the past, I’ve had bands address me by the wrong name (Mrs. Rory O’Kane?? Really??), not realize that I charge a small submission fee, or send me music that I am not interested in. Since I do accept unsolicited submissions, I have to sort through a lot of slush, so any band that sends me what I need within an email or two immediately shoots to the top of my list. Include everything I ask for on my contact page, and I’ll be more likely to say yes!
But be careful: Not every reviewer accepts unsolicited submissions, and many want different things from me in order to write a review. Reading the requirements for submissions is a must to create a successful professional bond with any reviewer.
Step Four: Take What’s good and leave the rest!
You’ve done everything right so far, and your music review is out in the world. Congratulations! Now what? The first step is to read the review. Make sure to take note of positive and negative feedback, but also how the writer describes your music. Is their description in line with what you want your music to be? If the answer is yes, you’re doing something right. If the answer is no, it’s not always a bad thing; people have different interpretations of music, and you might get to see yours in a whole new light!
One of the best pieces of advice I have been given as a writer during workshop also applies to musicians reading reviews of their work: Take what’s good and leave the rest. Reviewers are in the suggestion business, but not everything we suggest will fit your idea for your own music. Ultimately, it’s all up to you!
Step Five: Promote the hell out of your review!
Good or bad, press is press. By promoting the review on your social media, your fans will get to read about your music and think about it in a new way. Sharing your review also allows your fans to learn about other amazing artists and support your reviewer, allowing them to continue helping musicians like you! You’ll gain fans who would not have read the review via the blogger’s channels, but also benefit from the blogger’s fans who make it onto your pages and see the mutual support.
Step Six: Be Grateful!
Music reviewers get a lot of shit in this industry, and it’s nice to feel appreciated once in awhile. Think about it: My job is to write about your band to help you either improve, or to tell fans how much I like your music (or, of course, a combination of the two). Shouldn’t I at least garner a thank you for all my hard work? A like on Facebook or support in the future are always great bonuses, but even a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way in making hardworking music writers feel valued and respected as much as they do for you.
Thank you for reading! Don’t be shy about submitting to me, but for god’s sake, please follow the steps! 🙂