Steve Benjamins

Last month Toronto-based singer-songwriter Steve Benjamins released his new EP Sightlines.

Based on tracks such as “Sightlines,” the new release came just in time for summer. A glassy and smooth track that kicks off the EP softly but gradually builds into something much widescreen and ambitious, with a calm and moving atmosphere that certainly sets the tone for the rest of his release. The track never quite reaches its climax, but stays within itself, adding to its already calming state of mind.

Stream “Sightlines” below and grab a free download of his EP over at his website.

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Ransom Scenery

Ransom Scenery is a group that Springfield, Illinois duo Drew Lowery and Chaepter Negro began online, originally established through email. Soon enough they came together to create their debut album, Ear To Ear, which they self-released earlier this year through bandcamp.

Their goal was to create a collection of sounds that knew to genre, with warm melodies, rich soundscapes and interlacing layers. You can say they accomplished that with one listen to their track “Slowly Spinning.” It takes you on a visual and almost meditative journey, as if you’re floating into a complete and new world. It’s a wondrous trip, with vibes of Alt-J felt throughout.

Stream “Slowly Spinning” below.

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On an absolutely gorgeous Saturday night, New York City’s own Parquet Courts played the second show of the 2015 Almost Summer Concert Series taking place at The House of Vans in Brooklyn on May 23rd. It marked their first show back in New York City since this past February and along for the ride were openers Pill, Radioactivity and DJ sets by The Blackouts.

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Before and in-between each opener was a DJ set provided by The Blackouts (twin brothers Atiba & Ako Jefferson). They are no strangers to Vans, as a while back they partnered up and collaborated with the brand with a few signature shoes as part of Vans’ ongoing OTW Collection.

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First up were another New York band and fellow Dull Tools label mates, Pill. I didn’t know what to expect as this was my first time catching them live, but boy was it a treat. Their fun, saxophone infused punk may sound strange on paper but completely works and is something you need to experience for yourself.

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By the time Radioactivity took the stage, the indoor portion of HOV began to really fill out. They wasted no time and powered through their set with ease while at the same time keeping the energy level high. I couldn’t of imagined a better opener for Parquet Courts, as they fit the bill perfectly.

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After the final DJ set from The Blackouts, Parquet Courts promptly took the stage to an anxious and packed HOV crowd. “It’s like we’re playing a level of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater…” proclaimed guitarist Austin Brown, right before jumping into their 15 song set. Towards the end of their set, we all thought they were playing a joke on the crowd as they kept teasing everybody by saying, “This is our last song. Thank you very much everybody!” Well, that phrase was repeated right before the last 4 or 5 songs, which had the crowd begging for more. On the very last song, they hesitated as they began to walk off stage as if they were teasing us again, but it really was the end of their set. They thanked the crowd and not much longer after did the house lights come back on signifying the end of another amazing and memorable House Of Vans concert.

Below, find more photos of The Blackouts, Pill, Radioactivity and Parquet Courts:

The Blackouts:

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Pill:


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Radioactivity:

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Parquet Courts:

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1_My Morning Jacket_Boston Calling 2015

My Morning Jacket closed out day 2 of Boston Calling in style. The group put on a powerful and unforgettable performance that certainly lived up to their reputation as one of the best live bands of our generation, possibly even exceeding it.

Their tour is in support of their new album The Waterfall, which is their best and most cohesive record since 2005’s Z. The new material fit nicely in between older cuts such as “Off The Record,” “Big Decisions,” and “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2.” Jim James and company are larger than life on stage, bringing their a-game with every single song. Their 15-song set came to a climatic finish with the always epic “One Big Holiday,” leaving me anxious to catch them again at Governors Ball.

Find their Boston Calling setlist posted below, along with photos from the performance.

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Foals

The always reliable British rockers Foals are back, and sounding as strong as ever. They’ll release their new album What Went Down on August 28 via Warner Bros Records.

Today they premiered the first single, and title track, “What Went Down” which was released as a brand new music video. It’s very Foals in spirit, harnessing that primal energy that seems to come so naturally for them. Once it starts it never lets up, and it explodes into something that I can only imagine being an absolute monster in the live setting. Welcome back Foals.

Getting to hear a new song just makes me crave the next New York Foals show, which hopefully will be coming soon enough.

Check out the official music video for “What Went Down” below. It was directed by Niall O’Brien.

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Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals Boston Calling performance kicked off just as the sun began to set, a seemingly bit of perfect timing for the groups ultra chilled out show. Personally, Harper’s music has never been my thing, but there’s no denying that him and his Innocent Criminals are made to play to festival crowds. There was something warm and universal about their set.

Even as someone unfamiliar to his music, I was able to find solace in their performance, which mixed a variety of styles ranging from funk to blues and even world. The group found a bit of energy from the ever so enthusiastic percussionist Leon Mobley who was seemingly smiling throughout the entire performance. This was reciprocated by the crowd, who were easily won over by the group’s positive vibes.

Find photos from their performance posted below.
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There’s simply no stoping the career of Annie Clark, who has become a true rockstar as St. Vincent. With last year’s self-titled release, she finally broke out in a way that had been long coming, but still felt oh so right.

Her set at Boston Calling was one of the highlights of the festival, which saw her bring out all the stops. Her band seems to get tighter and tighter ever time I see them, absolutely nailing all of the songs off of St. Vincent and the rest of the albums of her ever growing career.

She brought out her corographed moves, poses, and affecting stares, and even found her way into the audience by riding on the back of a helpful security guard. There’s not much that St. Vincent can’t do at this point, except continue her ascent to rock superstardom.

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1_Marina and the Diamonds_Boston Calling 2015

Marina and the Diamonds, the project of British pop-singer Marina Diamandis, was an unexpected highlight of the Boston Calling weekend for me. I was familiar with a few of Marina’s more prolific hits if I heard them, but that was the extent of my familiarity with her. But after seeing her perform live, I had a lot of fun watching her perform.

She didn’t waste anytime getting the party started, with the big opening of “Bubblegum Bitch” making her presence very much known. Her set was full of positive energy, with hook-friendly pop songs, mostly from her new album Froot, that sounded huge and made you want to love her. She’s a perfect act for festivals, able to draw big crowds and keep them thoroughly entertained all the way through.

Find photos and her setlist from Boston Calling posted below.

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1_Gerard Way_Boston Calling 2015

It’s only been a few years since the end of beloved emo-rockers My Chemical Romance, but it only took a year for frontman Gerard Way to release his first solo release, last year’s Hesitant Alien.

The album is quite a departure from his days fronting MCR, finding comfort in the sounds of glam-rock and even elements of britpop. But there are shades of his work with MCR that linger in between. The change in sound hasn’t abandoned any of his previous fanbase, as the front row of the Boston Calling crowd featured young female fans hysterically crying (yes, mascara running and all) and holding hands as Way powered through his set.

It’s good to see Way out there doing his own thing, and still finding success. Find photos from his set posted below.

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1_Tove Love_Boston Calling 2015

Up next came a set from rising Swedish pop-singer Tove Lo. She performed tracks off of her 2014 debut album Queen of the Clouds. Her performance had festival goers talking not only for her hooks, but for flashing attendees, in support of the #FreeTheNipple movement. Naturally, I missed it happening, but of course, the moment has been captured for the internet.

Tove Lo has already assembled quite a large following in such a short period of time. Based on the passionate reception from the young concert goers at Boston Calling, you best get used to Tove Lo, as you’ll be seeing a lot of her over the next few years.

Tove Lo Setlist:

1. My Gun
2. Not On Drugs
3. Got Love
4. The Way That I Am
5. Moments
6. Thousand Miles
7. Talking Body
8. This Time Around
9. Timebomb
10. Run On Love
11. Habits (Stay High)

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