Saturday, March 17, 2012


Greetings from SXSW!

Day 3 say myself and The Brooklyn Dodger jumping from venue to venue for two bands – fun and Good Old War. While we had already seen fun one, almost two times, we were yet to see them play a legitimate set. Wednesday at Waterloo Records was a brief, acoustic set, while the Wednesday night showcase riddled with technical difficulties prevented them from even finishing a set, since the venue shut the sound off.

But Friday, we saw both these bands and all we can say is WOW. Let’s start with fun., since Good Old War played twice yesterday, each performance deserving some attention individually.

Red-hot sensation fun. took the stage at Stubb’s in the heart of SXSW territory in Austin as one of several groups in an evening showcase. While we had to wait almost an hour (the schedule had them set to perform at 11 p.m. – we waited until about 11:45ish) we were thrilled when they took the stage and A). we could hear them and B). it wasn’t an acoustic set!

While the acoustics of the outdoor venue left something to be desired, the high-energy performance was spot on, and all in attendance got what they had wanted to hear – the group’s two smash-hit singles “We Are Young” and “Some Nights.” It’s something to see when everyone in a crowd of thousands sings the chorus of “We Are Young” louder than the band themselves. Overall, the short, half hour set was well worth the wait and the enormous crowd because this band performs for the fans – truly for the fans, and that is refreshing to see.

Rewind to the afternoon, when we headed down to Rusty’s for their Player Pit Stop Party. Twenty bands, three stages, seven hours of music. We were particularly interested in Campus Buzz and indie-folk favorite Good Old War, who took the stage around 4:00 to a packed house. The Brooklyn Dodger and myself were front and center for the performance, which completely surpassed expectations.

The set, which lasted about a half hour, featured new and old favorites including “Calling Me Names,” “Looking for Shelter” and “Amazing Eyes.” The trio, ever the charismatic bunch, interacted with fans throughout the show, many of whom were screaming out their favorite songs in the hope that they would be played. However, time was a factor and the band couldn’t play everything that fans had wanted, so the trio closed with fan favorite “Coney Island.” The chorus of fans singing along with the harmony was amazing to see, and the band reluctantly left the stage, despite fans cheering for more.

Good Old War would play again Friday, as they showcased at the Central Presbyterian Church in the heart of SXSW country. The setting, somewhat unorthodox as the band stood on a church altar and the fans lined pews under a dimly lit crucifix – certainly not your average SXSW setting. The band stuck to their setlist from earlier in the day, with a few additional touches in between. The highlight of this show though came at the end, when the band did something fans have probably rarely seen or experienced.

Given the intimate setting – only the band and several dozen SXSW badge holders – the trio opted to abandon all instruments except for an acoustic guitar and tambourine, and stepped down off the stage into the crowd of fans that removed themselves from the pews and stood nearly shoulder to shoulder with the band. They performed four songs in this acoustic set – “Coney Island,” “My Own Sinking Ship,” “Loud Love” and “Not Quite Happiness.” The Brooklyn Dodger and myself sat in awe of the raw musical talent beaming from this trio – clapping took the place of percussion and the songs relied solely on a single guitar and vocal harmonies. And you would have expected that you were listening to the album live – they sounded flawless and raw, and it was completely stellar.

It is safe to say that, with that perfect acoustic performance, Good Old War took our best in show prize at SXSW. It was a true performance for their fans, who lined the pews, aisles and balconies of the intimate church setting. They stood shoulder to shoulder, singing and dancing with those in attendance, and in the dimly lit church, the ambiance was unmatchable. As our last show of the night, and one of the final shows we as a group could see in Austin, it was the perfect way to round out day 3, and the true highlight of SXSW. It will go down in WSOU history as the greatest show that myself and The Brooklyn Dodger have ever seen.

Sty tuned into tomorrow, as we will have ongoing coverage of our final day in Texas, and a recap of the metal scene by The Colonel himself.

Friday, March 16, 2012


By: Sam Desmond

Greetings from SXSW!

Friday was a crazy day down in Austin! It would be most appropriate to dub this day “The Day of Bruce,” since most of the festivities centered around the rock icon’s keynote address and impending performance, exclusive to those lucky SXSW badge holder winners (three lucky WSOU crew members included!)

Getting into the music side of things, since we have already discussed The Boss’s fantastic keynote address from the Austin Convention Center, myself and The Brooklyn Dodger, joined by WSOU alumni That Guy and Jen, headed over to Maggie Mae’s rooftop bar for a special acoustic set by Campus Buzz favorite Kevin Devine. As we said earlier when we saw Kevin live at Lambert’s on Wednesday, it is incredibly difficult to top his high-energy and gut-wrenching lyrics, and we aren’t the only ones who think so. Many of those in attendance had seen his show the night prior and showed up for another chance to see the young performer out of Brooklyn shine in a solo acoustic set. While I personally prefer him with back-up and full instrumentals, Kevin Devine can rock anything, anywhere.

The Kevin Devine warm-up led to myself, The Brooklyn Dodger and our trusty engineer Frank trekking blocks across Austin to the ACL Live at the Moody Theater for our coveted exclusive-access performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Upon arrival, we discovered that we wouldn’t get to see The Boss quite as quickly as we had hoped, and wound up enduring over two hours of mediocre (and often overly depressing) opening bands. Between the two, let’s just say the sets were completely forgettable and we can’t even recall what the bands are called. Needless to say, these were two acts certainly unworthy of opening for a high-octane rock legend such as Springsteen.

Cue The Boss and the E Street Band taking the stage – finally! And the atmosphere could not have been more perfect for the occasion – a sold out crowd, high energy and a particularly riveting performance by Springsteen himself. Lucky enough to be in the front row, only feet from the stage, the WSOU crew was lucky enough, on several occasions, to see Springsteen come within two or three feet as he interacted with the crowd while belting any one of his rock anthems…or when he wound up crowd surfing (more than once) over screaming fans, desperate to get close to the rock legend.

WSOU was particularly excited to see Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello take the stage for several songs, shredding the guitar with Springsteen. Morello, who is known for his skill with a guitar, was absolutely insane in several solos, leaving the crowd screaming for more. It’s safe to say that, between Springsteen and Morello, no act within the Austin city limits could compare as far as skill on a guitar is concerned. Our minds are still blown from seeing what Morello was able to do. Maybe someone YouTubed it and Morello can blow your mind too.

The set, which overall lasted over three hours, featured several of Springsteen’s hits, including music off his latest album. Whether they were new or old songs, the crowd was singing along to everyone, and the E Street Band (who was only playing together for the second time as that particular group) was flawless. They brought even more energy, passion and raw musical talent to a show that was already bleeding profusely from being overwhelmed by raw artistry and musical ecstasy.

Springsteen certainly left his mark on Austin, and, without a doubt, the crew at WSOU. Without a doubt, seeing The Boss will go down as the most iconic, unforgettable experience anyone in attendance will have during their time at SXSW. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still good music to be seen!

Stay tuned for additional coverage of local shows taking place tonight, including indie-folk trio Good Old War and another performance (fingers crossed technical difficulty free) by red hot sensation fun. Also listen in to WSOU later this evening between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. for a special on-air report live from Austin!

Until tomorrow!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


By: Sam Desmond

If you love Jersey, by default, you must love The Boss.

As they keynote speaker at this year’s SXSW Music Festival, Bruce Springsteen is taking Austin by storm. Speaking early this afternoon at the Austin Convention Center, the New Jersey native talked about what makes an artist truly special, and how he himself used the musical influences around him to become what he is today – a rock legend and musical powerhouse (our words, not his). The surprisingly humble (let’s face it, he’s famous and he could totally flaunt it) speech to full ballroom at the Austin Convention Center was, thus far, the most anticipated and attended event witnessed by the crew from WSOU.

While his keynote address has been on all of our schedules since we found out he would be taking the stage this year, we were thrilled to discover that certain SXSW badge holders would be drawn for an exclusive show. Tickets could not be purchased for this show – you had to win. Upon waking up this morning, myself, The Brooklyn Dodger and our trusty engineer Frank all discovered that we were three lucky winners of a single ticket to Springsteen’s only performance (not counting his sporadic break-outs into song during his keynote) in Austin during SXSW.

The show, which is slated for 7:00 p.m. local time, will be held at the ACL – Live at the Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Look for live tweets from the show from myself (@Sam_Desmond) and The Brooklyn Dodger (@WSOUBrklynDodger) as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform for a packed house of lucky winners for one night, and one night only!


By: Sam Desmond & The Brooklyn Dodger

Greetings metal heads!

As many of you know, some of your very own staff from 89.5 FM WSOU have ventured down to Austin to experience the annual SXSW Music Festival. While SXSW is hardly all metal, all the time, it is THE place to be for music right now, and, at least for those not enjoying the scenery and the scene in Austin with us, we’ve got you covered.

In the spirit of WSOU’s Campus Buzz programming, myself and The Brooklyn Dodger ventured out into the Austin nightlife for a firsthand look at some of the amazing free shows being put on by some up-and-coming indie bands.

First stop – fun. And no, we are not just saying we had fun. The red hot indie band, dominating the scene with songs such as “We Are Young,” “Carry On” and the album titled single “Some Nights” took the stage twice in Austin yesterday. Helping Waterloo Records celebrate their 30th anniversary in business, the trio took to the outdoor parking lot stage for a special acoustic set in front of a packed crowd. Let me just say – these guys sound just as amazing live as they do on the album, and the crowd knew it. Amidst the free cans of Monster and the 80+ degree heat, you could have sworn you were listening to them straight off the album.

The trio also had their scheduled showcase last night at the 1100 Warehouse. Slated to follow the UK-based punk group, Tribes, fun. brought a packed house – hundreds upon hundreds in attendance in the infamous Texas heat. Unfortunately, fans were left restless in the dark for over an hour, as technical difficulties prevented the band from going on. A symphony of boos and chants for “we want fun.” rang out, but fell on deaf ears.

According to the band’s twitter (@OurNameIsFun), the trio was stuck on the side of the stage because of issues with the venue. When they eventually took the stage, they apologized, in several expletives, for being unable to perform for their fans. While the crew from WSOU was forced to leave as they finally began to play an acoustic-only set, tweets from fans hailed the performance as “sending shivers down my spine.” The group is slated to perform at the Woodie awards at 6:15 p.m. today, and at Stubbs tomorrow night, where WSOU will hopefully get a full performance.

Trekking across Austin for the final show of the night, the Dodger and myself wound up at Lambert’s, an intimate bi-level bar, perfect for smaller acts. While several artists showcased their talents last night, including River City Extension out of Toms River, N.J., we went for Campus Buzz favorite Kevin Devine. Hailing from Brooklyn, Kevin Devine is well known throughout the N.Y. Metro Area, but proved also to be a favorite amongst the Texans. In a 40 minute set, he was laid back and casual, interacting with fans across the bar, even taking a request from an eager fan in the audience for the fan favorite “Santa Barbara.”

While he might look like your everyday Joe you pass on the sidewalk, make no mistake about him – Kevin Devine is an extraordinarily gifted performer, and had a packed crowd in a bar enticed and hypnotized by his lyrics, energy and overall grateful demeanor. For us, Kevin Devine took the night as the best performance. He is slated to perform a solo acoustic set at Maggie Mae’s on 6th Street this evening.

Dubbed by the WSOU crew as “hipster central,” Austin is putting on some of the most popular, and most talented, indie bands out there right now. On deck for tonight, in addition to more Kevin Devine, are The Shins, local favorite out of Glen Rock, Titus Andronicus and Say Anything.

Check back for additional updates from the crew at WSOU, and make sure to follow all of us (@Sam_Desmond, @WSOUBrklynDodger, @WSOUTheColonel and @TMI_WSOU) as we continue to explore Austin and the SXSW festival. Look for WSOU trending on twitter with #wsousxsw, and listen in daily between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. EST for live updates from Austin!

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Brittany Speared's Top Album Cover Picks

Hope everybody's been having a brutal holiday season - though whether it's been a good brutal or bad brutal is yours to decide. I'm Brittany Speared, a regular rotation DJ and occasional cover host of Vintage 80s.

Not even a lot of long-time callers know this, but I'm a graphic design major here at Seton Hall. I'm graduating this spring, and have been doing all sorts of internships to build my resume. Which is to say, my 2011 ran me ragged, and because of that, I am completely behind on listening to metal releases. So I don't have a best-of list of music for you guys. Instead, I'm going to write about something I do have the authority to speak on: ALBUM COVERS.

Marketing tools like album covers can absolutely have artistic value while still being effective, so I developed some loose criteria to evaluate them with. Does the art look TOTALLY AWESOME? If I was in a record store (hahaha), would it instantly grab my eye (through color and contrast)? Are the band logo and album title integrated into the artwork in a thoughtful way?

(Apologies for not including most of the album artists' names. I wish I could have. Unfortunately, because I'm behind on releases this year, I don't have the liner notes at my disposal.)

10. Primordial - Redemption at the Puritan's Hand
Lo-fi folk metal band from Ireland. Refreshingly, Primordial didn't rely on hokey forest imagery (their subgenre) or hokier shamrock imagery (every Celtic band ever). The high-contrast cover with a minimal number of colors definitely draws my eye. But the main reason I like it so much it that I did a package design project with similar elements this year (before I saw the album art, I promise you). It's a little simple, though, which is why it's at the bottom of my top 10.

9. Bosse de Nage - ii
Francophile, avant-garde black metal from the Bay Area totally spit in the eye of their subgenre's tradition of purposely-horrible covers and did something pretty interesting. The minimalistic cover shines in the haze of overdetailed and unreadable logos. The strange fins sticking out of the letters of "Bosse" bother me, though. The one on the B could stay, if its curve followed the path of the O better. I suppose it was a decision to add tension and movement to an otherwise heavy, static cover. It's still very cool, though! It reminds me of early Constructivist propaganda, which is one of my favorite artistic movements.

8. Hull - Beyond the Lightless Sky
I absolutely love Hull's logo, it's a gorgeous piece of typography. The subdued tan and black of the cover is an interesting and unique statement, as well. I can't work up much to say about it beyond that, though, which is why it scored fairly low (even though I would still hang it on my wall). While it's an awesome piece, I think it would be passed over in favor of something more eye-catching, like…

7. Protest the Hero - Scurrilous
Protest the Hero released my favorite album of 2011, so I feel a bad I didn't score them higher. But the painting, while cool and surrealistic, doesn't really excite me as a piece of design. The framing elements are cool, though, and elevate the cover beyond the exhausted "logo on a painting" cliché.

6. Arckanum - Helvítismyrk
Helvítismyrk is the most traditional of the album art on this list; that is to say, it's a painted rendering of something badass and evil going on. Unlike most other covers in the style, which are frequently… crummy, the art is well-rendered and has an interesting composition. It's not overdetailed. Having a flat black negative space lets your eye investigate the mysterious smoky figure without becoming overwhelmed. The more I look at it, the more I like it. Its final place is way higher than I thought I would give it.
Also, it's a haunted skull.

5. Cormorant - Dwellings
Dwellings is guilty of the typical "Step 1: Get a painting. Step 2: Put your logo on it." method of album art design, but the artist is clearly very skilled in both technique and composition (the arrangement of visual elements in a work, much like a camera angle of your mind!). It's an awesome painting.

4. Mastodon - The Hunter (Deluxe Edition)
And Mastodon makes it onto yet another year end list with their amazing cover based on the sculptural work of AJ Fosik. I found their regular version kind of dull, but for the deluxe edition, all elements are in conversation. The text is integrated into the piece, the totem stares you down. Look at the nasty beast. I would not want to mess with him, but Mastodon chopped his head off and hung it on a wall.

3. Black Tusk - Set the Dial
Like most sludge metal bands, Black Tusk once again had John Dyer Baizley, one of my favorite illustrators (and musicians) do their album art. This is not a bad thing. John Dyer Baizley should do everyone's album art.

2. Blut Aus Nord - 777 – The Desanctification
Another deranged, avant-garde black metal band, this time actually from France. Their album art subverts the usual stereotypes of the larger genre, and presents something well-rendered and interesting. Only a metal band could get away with a cover like this today. I would plow over small children (and anything else in my way) to get to this album art in my hands. I placed it higher than a John Dyer Baizley illustration! I credit that largely to the attention-grabbing, high contrast color scheme.

1. Ghost - Opus Eponymous
And the sickest artwork of the year goes to Ghost's debut album. The hand-rendered, destined-to-be-iconic logo, fantastic composition, and unique color scheme all immediately came to mind when I began working on this article. Opus Eponymous is undoubtedly the best and most designed. Ghost has had a lot of marketing support behind them, and it shows. It isn't just a logo slapped on top of a painting, it frames the band's mascot/singer. The latter's cloak becomes the sky as he looms over the building. Bats are flying, a bad moon's rising, the guy has a skullface. It's metal, and it's good design, definitively proving that they're not mutually exclusive.

BONUS ROUND: Most Stereotypically Metal Cover Art
Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising
I don't think anything needs to be explained here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

WSOU and Presents August Burns Red

Friday, January 13!
WSOU & Presents

August Burns Red
Silverstein • Texas In July • Letlive • An all-ages to enter, 21 to drink event. $18 advance, $20 day of show + applicable surcharges

For tickets, visit Ticketmaster at

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

25 Reasons You SHOULD Have Been at WSOU's 25 Years of Metal

What’s going on everybody?! Sorry about the delay on this one, I was too busy spending the weekend recovering from the spin kick I took to the head during Fit for an Autopsy’s set. Yeah, the concert was that insane. With that, here are 25 reasons you should have been at WSOU’s 25 Years of Metal show!!

1. You would have gotten to see local young guns Name the Creature play in front of a small cluster of people. May not sound like anything important, but for those guys to still flash their brand of melodic death metal with as much energy as they did and without a much of a crowd was pretty admirable.

2. Name the Creature also gave out lollipops to the fans who came to their merch table. I mean, c’mon. Who doesn’t love lollipops?!?!

3. Had you been one of the many who began to fill up Starland during Thanatonic Desire’s set, you would have heard the Street Patrol stars’ killer sound. If you took Coroner, asked them to play melodic crossover, and gave their bass player the bass sound of Jeroen Paul Thesseling (of Pestilence and Obscura fame), you would get Thanatonic Desire. Those guys play with a fresh take on the genre that everyone should check out.

4. You probably would have been terrified when Fit for an Autopsy guitarist Pat Sheridan simply said, “We’re Fit for an Autopsy, do something.” When a band that brutal implores the crowd to get crazy in such a simple manner, they’re just leaving the door wide open for the crowd to get violent.

5. Yeah, it did get pretty violent. I was situated on the side of the pit, and as previously mentioned, got kicked in the head. As much as it was unpleasant to deal with, I must admit that it was still pretty metal.

6. The crowd didn’t become brutal without reason, it was matching the intensity of FFAA. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a deathcore band with such violent breakdowns. The band was ridiculously heavy, but still very technically proficient. Anyone who hasn’t heard them yet needs to crawl out of the rock they’ve been hiding under and get their act together.

7. You would have gotten to be a part of an audience with one of the highest per capita ninja-dancer populations I’ve ever seen.

8. Molotov Solution would have given you a seriously rude awakening. Their brand of technical deathcore – accentuated by rhythmically layered breakdowns and dissonant guitar screeches – was one to be much appreciated.

9. You may have also wanted to cry for momma after watching Molotov Solution’s bassist Shane Slade play. Not only was the dude a sick bassist – having a dense, punishingly deep tone and some serious chops – his stage presence was straight up terrifying. Slade spent the duration of the set glaring menacingly at the crowd, and his stare was just as intense as the band’s set was.

10. Skeletonwitch. You missed Skeletonwitch. What on earth is wrong with you?

11. But seriously, Skeletonwitch was ridiculously impressive. The band, along with their contemporaries, (that include Warbringer, Lazarus AD, and Gamma Bomb) comprise the Neo-Thrash movement, and witnessing their variation of blackened thrash shows that thrash is alive, and doing very, very well.

12. The audience went wild for the band. Singer Chase Garnette in particular seemed to be a crowd favorite. His piercing, pseudo-black metal scream was unique and simply awesome.

13. One last thing about those guys, the old school circle pit that broke out during their set was massive, and was reminiscent to those that the used to take place during the hey-days of thrash.

14. As if you didn’t already have enough reasons to prove to you that you should have been at that show, let me remind you that you didn’t see Chimaira play that night. I’ve personally seen Chimaira multiple times, and I can honestly say that this was the best I’ve ever seen them.

15. Singer Mark Hunter performed his clean vocals even better live than he did on the band’s new album This is Hell.

16. New drummer Austin D’Amond was out of his mind talented. His double bass was blazingly quick, allowing for a slightly faster tempo for all of the songs. His hands were often hard to make out, because they moved so fast they often became a blur. Oh yeah, the dude had a drum solo too. It was filled with lighting fast fills, syncopated ostinatos, and brutal double bass beats. This guy is going to be a great fit for the group.

17. The bands other new addition, Sean Zatorsky, was equally noteworthy. Also controlling samples and sound effects, Zatorsky’s bass drops were absolutely colossal. My chest hurt just from standing in front of those speakers. The drops gave the band a dense and thick tone, one that suits them well.

18. Additionally, Zatorsky has an awesome beard. He puts all of the mere mortals who are partaking in No Shave November to shame.

19. Perhaps the most important aspect of Chimaira’s set was the fact that it was one of the last that guitarists Matt DeVries and Rob Arnold will be playing with the band. The duo will depart from the band after Chimaira Christmas 2011 for “personal reasons,” yet there seemed to be no animosity amongst the members of the band during the show. In fact, the group has seemed to treat the situation since its announcement as an opportunity to celebrate their last moments together, making for a killer, energetic set. Those of us in attendance got to witness one of the last shows with those guys in the band, and it was well worth it.

20. Unearth’s metalcore prowress was on full display as they closed out the show. The tracks from their new album Darkness in the Light were awesome live as well.

21. Guitarists Buz McGrath and Ken Susi did a synchronized jump off of their speaker cabinets. It was almost as if Van Halen had come back in a much heavier and more technical form. (And I mean that in the best way possible).

22. Unearth made a point of letting the crowd know that it was “National Dude with a Moustache Appreciation Day.” I had shaved the night before. My luck.

23. Susi also appeared out of nowhere to shred on top of the bar. Nice touch.

24. When a fan asked “Who the new guy behind the drums is,” we in the audience were surprised and excited to be among the first in the world to hear that touring drummer Nick Pierce is now the official drummer for the band (!!!!!!!)

25. Finally, you should have been at our 25 Years of Metal show because WSOU is the best radio station around. Sure, I may be a bit biased, but even before I started working here, WSOU was one of my favorite things about the Tri-State Area. This show was the culmination of all of the hard work of the managers and of 25 years of keeping metal radio alive. But hey, if you weren’t there, just make it a point to make our 50 Years of Metal show in 2036!

So if you missed this show,t here’s a rough summary of the highlights of the night. That being said, you probably should have been there. I mean, c’mon, it was a killer night. But hey, we’re not going anywhere, just catch us next time!

As always, feel free to hit me up with suggestions, questions, comments, or concerns at

Until next time,