May 1st was an important day in the young musical career of Sebastian Ortiz, as it marked the release of his single, “Every Day She Comes Back.” It’s brand-new music from an up-and-coming artist, whose breathing new life into indie rock with his classic folk-inspired take on the genre. Ortiz brings an experimental approach to a genre that traditionally hasn’t necessarily allowed for much experimentation. But he relishes the challenge of that experimentation and the high of starting with nothing and winding up with something unique and rewarding, unlike anything he had originally envisioned. Ortiz is currently finalizing his debut EP, which you will hear in the coming months.
Ortiz is a first-generation American, a son of Colombian-born parents, a cultural background that has had a tremendous influence in shaping him as a person and a songwriter. He grew up listening to salsa, reggaeton, and classical music, and that, combined with the American and British indie and folk, has really helped shape who he is as an artist. Ortiz is a graduate of Boston University and has now settled in New Jersey, where he is confidently and gradually starting to build an audience. It’s the process which he loves, which is why he has decided to fully commit himself to music and make it both his life and his career.
As you may expect, considering its rich musical history, New Jersey has some outstanding record stores. Today, Ortiz joins us to share with us his five favourite record stores in and around his hometown that have helped shape him as a songwriter and also as an individual.
Record stores are dying. The few that remain each have their own distinct character. I visited Rhythm Central on a rainy Saturday afternoon for this photo-op. Rhythm Central is located in the Heights of Jersey City, a diverse community. Storefronts with Arabic and Spanish populate the main street. I walked into Rhythm Central to an older Hispanic guy playing the conga in the back. He was tapping lightly to some Latin music he was listening to in his office while the two other patrons in the store checked around for records.
What first struck me about this place was the abundance of Spanish dance records. Probably 70 percent of this store were old salsa and merengue records, plus a mix of whatever other Spanish-language music there was from the ’60s to the ’90s. I perused the catalog of the English-language music, but didn’t really find anything good except for this Bernstein/NY Philharmonic Record of Copland (which turned out to be a lot of fun). The GREAT find that I got was a Claudia de Colombia record, a Colombian singer from the ’70s whom my mom was named after. I’d never listened to her music, but I recognized the cover and knew I had to buy it.
This store was inexpensive. The two records were 3 to 5 dollars each. The owner, Angel, gently tapped on his conga the whole time I was there. He was kind enough to take these two photos of me.
2. Iris Records
Address: 109 Brunswick St, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Phone: (201) 222-9515
This place was COOL. Like many record stores, this one was tiny. Unlike many record stores, this one was PACKED. The store was probably filled to 50 percent capacity with buyers of all ages perusing the milk crates of records. Of all record stores, this one definitely boasted the best variety. I’d never seen a record store sell house music records.
Since I work at house music label, I knew I had to get some. More than house music, though, this record store had an array of jazz, punk, psych-rock, and alternative music. There were a few pop records, but like Jersey City, this record store seems to cater to the underground and to the hipster. Though I didn’t come with pockets full of money, I know I’ll be coming back in the future to get some good jazz records (free jazz anyone?).
Address: 225 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Phone: (201) 653-3355
Tunes in Hoboken! Right on Washington street, somehow this record store can manage to pay the rent in this large space. This music store was divided into a CD section and into a vinyl section. My favourite thing about it is that it was so neatly organized. The other record stores were organized too, but something about this one made it so easy to find so many relatively obscure records that I was genuinely interested in. Tunes had a great variety of classic rock, pop (modern and older), and unlike the others, a lot of folk/country!
Being a folk and country fan, I felt I was in a little Northeast music heaven. I was able to get some great Chet Atkins records, Kingston Trio, and Pete Seeger. These are already some of my favourite to put on while cleaning up the house. There’s something artistic and whimsical about vacuuming to Pete Seeger’s forlorn voice in “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Nevertheless, I love it.
4. Music Country
Address: 728 Anderson Ave, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010
Phone: (201) 943-1045
“The oldest record store since 1934.” This is a bold claim, but I’m inclined to believe it. The couple who run this record shop look like they’re probably in their late 80s or sometime in their 90s. This is the record store to go to for any of your classic rock needs. They have a bunch of really cool imports (such as the Velvet Underground record I’m holding here), 45s, posters, and memorabilia in a tiny store that probably can’t fit more than 10 or 20 people.
This is the first record store I think I went to in my life where I got a Doors record. Though the prices are a bit expensive, it holds a special place in my heart for this reason.
5. BB’s Records
Address: 24 S Front St, Bergenfield, New Jersey 07621
Phone: (315) 677-1849
No photo here, sorry.
This was the last record store I visited on my little sojourn to find my five favourite record stores, which by the way, there were only about six in the area.
Nestled on a cozy, quiet corner in Bergenfield, this record store seems to present the Bob’s, the owner’s, personality. There are life-size cutouts of the Beatles and Elvis. The records here are a good sampling of classic rock and pop music from the ’40s to the ’90s. The record I copped here was Duke Ellington’s greatest hits, which has now been a favourite of mine to play when guests are over (I need more jazz records). I recommend this store to anyone looking for a variety of pop music throughout the years (side note: isn’t it so interesting how big band music used to be pop?)
Track-by-Track: The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord Cuts Through ‘It Leads To This’
The Pineapple Thief frontman Bruce Soord breaks down each track on the progressive rock band’s new record ‘It Leads To This.’
It’s been a bit of a renaissance period for The Pineapple Thief over the last few years. This revitalization has resulted in the brand-new album It Leads To This. Released on February 9th via Kscope Records, the eight new songs comprise more of frontman Bruce Soord’s observations and deductions about life and the world around him. The initial concept for the record came together rather quickly, but the actual lyrical and musical components took time. Finalizing these songs required much work and collaboration between Soord and his three bandmates. Each member had a conception of what was satisfactory regarding the songs. Coming to that common ground took time, but in the end, each member was extremely pleased with the final product.
The release of It Leads To This coincides with the 25th anniversary since The Pineapple Thief formed. In that time, they have released over 20 full-length albums and EPs. It Leads To This proved to be one of the most intense writing periods ever for the band. They worked on these new tracks for almost three years. Each band member pushed each other to go above and beyond what they felt capable of. It was extremely fruitful from an artistic perspective, but personally, it did pose challenges for the band members.
Joining us today for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of It Leads To This is Bruce Soord himself. He takes us through each song on the record, their inspirations, motivations, and how they came together.
1. “Put It Right”
Bruce Soord: “This was the first song we wrote for the album, right in the depths of the pandemic. I remember standing outside my studio, which is in the garden of my home, when we were in full lockdown. I looked at the blue sky, not a vapour trail to be seen. Even the hum of my small town was gone. As a songwriter, you’re obviously going to take that in and use it. I started to ponder the fragile state of the world. I mean, how can the world be brought to its knees overnight? Which then led to thoughts about the past, essentially a re-evaluation. Are we all to blame? Was I to blame?”
“As soon as the lockdown was lifted, I remember talking to (drummer) Gavin (Harrison), and he had the idea to write some songs in the same room. I know, radical, right? So I got in the car and drove to his house. Honestly, in the history of The Pineapple Thief, I had never written in this way. Songs were built up in our various studios over weeks and months.. But we were up for trying something new. It could have been a very long disaster – a 6 day jam in E. But to my surprise, we wrote four songs in this way. The first one being Rubicon.
“The verses are in a ‘5/4 shuffle’ which is quite unique (see Gavin’s drum playthrough on the Vic Firth YouTube channel). The song is actually about Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, destroying the Roman republic for his own selfish ambitions. History repeating itself indeed…”
3. “It Leads To This”
“Following on from the theme of ‘Put It Right,’ this is essentially a positive song about focusing on the right things in life. What are going to be your biggest regrets on your deathbed? It’s obvious but also easy to miss. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, I wish I had spent more time with my family and friends. It’s a love song really. ‘For all this time, I didn’t notice you…’”
4. “The Frost”
“I came up with the riff on my 6-string baritone guitar, so it has a low, edgy feel which I really love. This was a song that came together really quickly between the four of us (plus some great contributions from our touring guitarist Beren Matthews on guitars and backing vocals who played throughout the record). It’s about spending your life with a soulmate, through thick and thin, no matter how bad things get.”
5. “All That’s Left”
“Thematically, this continues the theme from ‘It Leads to This’ and, for me, is dominated by the riff and the middle section, which I love playing live. Again, it’s low in register, written using my baritone, massive drums.”
6. “Now It’s Yours”
“Written during the sessions with Gavin, this song goes on a bit of a journey. Soft, atmospheric, big riffs, a guitar solo… Lyrically, looking at the world as an older guy with a family about to be let loose into the world. What the hell are they going to inherit? Well, now it’s yours…”
7. “Every Trace Of Us”
“Again written during the Gavin sessions, I remember Gavin had the intro riff written on his Wurli keyboard he has in his studio. I took it, added some more chords in the progression and the song snowballed from there. Lyrically this is about the pressure of modern life, expectation, pressure, and the mental repercussions of it all. Modern life can tear every trace of us apart.”
8. “To Forget”
“I had this finger-picked acoustic guitar part, which the band liked, so I developed the first part of the song and came up with the words pretty quickly. Us humans, especially as we grow older, have to come to terms with loss and, in a lot of cases, tragedy. Touching on the debate as to whether life is a gift or a curse (I am firmly in the ‘gift’ camp). However, living with tragedy isn’t easy. Remembering isn’t easy, to forget is impossible.”
The V13 Fix #004 w/ Darkest Hour, Glitterer, LowLives and more
From pop to metalcore, experimental grindcore to indie, each week The V13 Fix will bring you a roundup of all the new music worth hearing…
Welcome to the latest The V13 Fix our weekly round-up of some of the best albums, singles and EPs to drop in our laps/inboxes this week. From pop to black metal to experimental pop to punk rock, there is something for everyone in this mix of new music. Check out and support all the bands and labels if you like what you hear and if there is a particular album you like, make sure you head over to Spotify and check out one of our specially curated playlists where there is more great new music added daily.
Alternatively, if you’re in a band or want one of your bands considered for inclusion get in touch. While we can’t guarantee every album or EP we receive will be included, there are still plenty of other ways we can support you.
So, without further ado, sit back, plug in your headphones and get this week’s V13 Fix of new music…
When Japanese genre-smashers Crossfaith exploded onto the scene with their brutal, electronic-laced metalcore, the world sat up and paid attention. Well, after twelve months regrouping, the band are back with this new single, a massive statement that they’re ready to pick up where they left off but with a new energy. This new slice of heaviness from the band is packed dangerously full of pulsating electronics and pummelling metalcore. Equally as explosive as it is anthemic, “Zero” heralds a new chapter from the band who, after hitting the reset button twelve months ago, have returned with a vengeance.
Pick up your copy of “Zero” from here.
‘Perpetual | Terminal’
It’s incredible when you realise that Perpetual | Termainal is the tenth album in the rollercoaster career of US metalcore/metallic hardcore mob Darkest Hour. Spirit and dogged determination has kept the band going to this point and it is a theme which provides the heartbeat of this savage collection. Guitarist Mike Schleibaum explains: “The record’s theme centers around the duality of survival while embracing rebirth,” and, hearing the band hurtle through each of the eleven tracks, Perpetual | Terminal certainly feels like the sound of a band who have been reborn. An uncompromising, unrelenting metal assault, Perpetual | Terminal highlights exactly why heavy music would be worse off without Darkest Hour in it.
Pick up your copy of Perpetual | Terminal from here.
Now, even though the new wave of modern death metal bands is doing a sterling job in keeping the flag flying high for the genre, sometimes it’s nice just to take a trip back into some of the old-school bands. Having formed in Milwaukee in 1990, Morta Skuld are still battering away with their latest offering from the death metal stalwarts indicating no sign of slowing down. For fans of the likes of Obituary, Morbid Angel and Deicide, the band expertly combine groovy moshy sections, blastbeats with swamp born vocals. Creation Undone isn’t metalcore, it’s not deathcore, there are no symphonies, this is just straight between the eyes brutality.
Pick up your copy of Creation Undone from here.
M.U.T.T. are a trashy punk rock band straight from the gutters of the San Fransisco punk rock scene. There isn’t much you need to know about the kind of punk rock M.U.T.T. peddle except that it comes devoid of airs and graces. Taking a route one approach, M.U.T.T’s punk noise is covered in snot and packed with attitude. Formed from the ashes of Culture Abuse, the project has moved on from the more rock and roll stylings of their debut album, Bad To The Bone, into more trashy waters. Offerings like “Downtown Boy” come with a suitably unpleasant sneer plastered across their face and, while this EP might a fairly brief listen, M.U.T.T pack plenty of bite into those eighteen or so raucous minutes.
Pick up your copy of Dirty Deeds from here.
Gen & The Degenerates
Alt-punk collective Gen & The Degenerates tattoo their principals proudly onto their debut album. Written to a backdrop of disaster, tragedy and misfortune, ANTI-FUN Propaganda comes from a world of late nights and early mornings, sexuality, gender politics and mortality. It’s a punk rock album at its beating heart but, as vocalist Gen puts it, comes with a humourous approach and a love of dirty disco pop. Lyrically, tracks like “Famous” may come from a dark, bleak place but, as the video for “Big Hit Single” highlights, there is a wry smile and a sense of sarcasm nipping away at the subject matter to make sure we don’t lose sight of the fact that, while a quick look outside your window will show a world imploding on itself, it’s important to enjoy what time we have while we’re here.
Pick up your copy of ANTI-FUN Propaganda from here.
Following his previous band Title Fight ceased touring, lead singer and songwriter Ned Russin needed a creative outlet. The creative outlet soon manifested into what originally started out as solo project but, six years later, has blossomed into a fully-fledged band and the release of their fourth album, but debut as a full band, Rationale. An album with a sound deeply entrenched in the DC hardcore and indie rock scenes, Rationale is a rowdy listen packed with jarring indie guitars and slick pop melodies with the cohesiveness paying testament to the fact that Russin has found bandmates who share his creative vision.
Pick up your copy of Rationale from here.
Hands of Kalliach
Spawned from the minds of Edinburgh, Scotland husband and wife duo have blended together melodic death metal melded with Scottish folk music to create an album that is a work of art. The title of the album is inspired by enormous whirlpool, Corryvreckan, which lies between some of the western isles of Scotland. As harsh yet as beautiful as the inspiration behind it, Corryvreckan is a jaw-dropping piece of work. Soaring passages of melancholic Scottish folk music crash into brutal death metal, like two perfectly matched components. Through the folk music, the pair capture a drama and the emotion that can only come from being truly living and breathing it. When matched up with the extremities of the death metal scene, the end result is utterly majestic.
Pick up your copy of Corryvreckan from here.
Job For A Cowboy
For fans of iconic progressive death metal outfit Job For A Cowboy, it’s been almost a decade since new music was last heard from the band. Having teased for a number of years, the band are now back with their follow-up to 2014’s Sun Eater pretty much picking up where the 2014 album dropped off. Unsurprisingly, Moon Healer is the kind of album you really need to invest your time and effort into to really appreciate. Skim over it and you’ll find another incredible album in the Glendale’s musical armoury. Dig under the surface and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world which thematically picks up the story from Sun Eater while musically delivers it in a tightly woven package of complex, experimental, progressive death metal.
Pick up your copy of Moon Healer from here.
Austrian Death Machine
Ten years since their last outing, Austrian Death Machine are back with Quad Brutal, their first album for new home Napalm Records. Formed fifteen years ago by As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis, the Arnie-inspired neck-wrecking death machine is back reinspired and reinvigorated. Joined by a bunch of friends from across the metalcore scene including members of Ov Sulfur and Wolves At The Gate, Lambesis is back with another full-throttle, adrenaline-fueled metal feast. With more muscle than your typical weights room, Quad Brutal is just pumped-to-fuck, beefed-up metal. There’s nothing fancy about this. No need to put your brain into gear, Quad Brutal is just here for when another couple of plates on the end of that bar just doesn’t seem enough.
Pick up your copy of Quad Brutal from here.
To date, Alberta, Canada three-piece Royal Tusk have gigged with a veritable Who’s Who of Rock from Slash to Halestorm while, during the pandemic, frontman Daniel sang on viral at-home collabs with Stone Sour, In Flames, and Mastodon. Listening to the hard rockers third album and you can probably pinpoint all of those inspirations seeping through the thumping anthems. Full of hard rock bangers like “Fire In Your Veins” and “The Death of Common Sense” to “Hated”, Altruistic has the perfect blend of melody, singalong choruses and power. Of the album, bassist Sandy MacKinnon says “I really hope you want to blast it in your car and headbang” and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy Altruistic than that.
Pick up your copy of Altruistic from here.
Honouring commitments delayed by the pandemic means that it has been almost five years since we have heard a new full-length album from Norwegian progressive folk/black metal band Borknagar. Reading into the whole process the band go through to write an album though, you do get the feeling Fall would have taken as long pandemic or not. An unrushed, flawlessly-crafted peice of work, Fall sounds like Borknagar frontman Øystein G. Brun has worked tirelessly to ensure that every moment of this album plays out like a story. Blast of grim, violent black metal weave through epic passages of progressive rock and folk to tell a tale of survival. Heading towards their third decade, Fall feels like the Norwegians are still riding at the top of their game.
Pick up your copy of Fall from here.
Warner Music / Parlophone
It’s fair to say that 2021’s album INSIDE catapulted Canadian indie rock troop Mother Mother to new heights. Piling up an incredible 300 million streams for said album Grief Chapter has some task ahead of it. The ninth album of their career finds the band at their most energized despite it focusing, lyrically at least, on themes of death and mourning. This is an album that transcends genres not only over the course of the twelve tracks but, as demonstrated on the brilliant opener “Nobody Escapes” or the stomping “Normalize”, many times within songs. An album which may come from a morbid place lyrically, by the end, will have you well and truly hooked.
Pick up your copy of Grief Chapter from here.
It’s the year 2000 and Wheatus earworm “Teenage Dirtbag” is rapidly becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. An anthem for misfits, outcasts and losers, it’s a song we hold close to our hearts even 24 years later. Now, West Coast alt-rockers have gone and written their own version. A wonderfully hopeful slice of slacker rock, “Loser” has an almost pleading air to the chorus while the melody is lifted straight from the grunge/alt-rock 2000s. The track is taken from the band’s upcoming debut album, Freaking Out, so don’t worry if you’re going through that misfit phase because Lowlives have got your back.
Pick up your copy of Freaking Out from here.
Track-by-Track: Beyond Unbroken Discuss Some of Their Greatest Hits
Hard rock/metal band Beyond Unbroken join us for a special track-by-track rundown of some of their most notable and significant songs.
Beyond Unbroken has proudly unleashed “The Madness” via FiXT Music. It’s a fitting title for the metal quartet’s brand-new single, released with an accompanying music video earlier this month. The clip matches the song’s intensity, a deep dive into the small pockets of our minds where our demons lurk. “The Madness” depicts a psychological struggle where the mind succumbs to manic thoughts. The prison in the video is a metaphor for this struggle and the fact that one’s mind can become its prison. With “The Madness,” the message that the band is trying to convey is that you are not alone. Pain comes, and it’s often only temporary. Facing obstacles is a part of life, and we derive strength from these experiences. We’re all in this together, and Beyond Broken wants to emphasize that.
Beyond Unbroken celebrated their tenth year together last year, originally formed between Monte and Michael Money after leaving Escape the Fate. Although “The Madness” is a very aggressive metal song, the band is not defined by one genre. They enjoy trying new sounds, mixing genres, and, in doing so, defying expectations. The Money brothers and their bandmates derive inspiration from all of life’s experiences, culminating in a hard-hitting sound widely appealing to fans of both rock and metal.
With the recent release of “The Madness,” Beyond Unbroken joins us today for a special track-by-track feature in which they expand on the stories and meanings behind some of their most notable songs.
1. “The Madness”
“Lyrically, the song deals with the negative thought patterns we sometimes find ourselves in when facing struggles such as depression and anxiety, which can have negative impacts on our mental health. The song is about finally facing and breaking through those barriers. We wanted the music to greatly relate to the impact on the potential of the mind’s destruction, from heavy, ground-shattering guitar riffs and high-octane scream vocals from Michael Money, until you are met with the blissful vocals of Monte Money on the chorus to tie it all in. We literally couldn’t be happier with how this track turned out. It’s so great we had to do it justice by complementing it with an equally crazy music video.”
2. “Blood On My Hands”
“This was the first song to debut the dynamic we wanted for Beyond Unbroken and its future sound going forward in correlation with our label FiXT. The song truly resonates with a dark nuance of a tale of the aftermath of murder, demons, drowning, and blood, literally losing one’s mind and the regret of the aftermath of it all, begging for forgiveness only to be faced and judged as the criminal at hand hears the words ringing ‘Burn It, Burn It, Down, This Is Your Hell!’ as the embodiment of the victim finally gets payback. The song’s breakdown is truly unique and heavy and does the story justice in this dark, sinister world.”
3. “Running Out of Time” (Remaster)
“The official first single off the album debut. The song defines the band’s growth with modern originality, depicting as we age how little time we truly have and how we shape our destiny. We wanted to bring up the track with a slightly new touch to signify our signature sound as a remastered version with intense drums and big, booming guitars that complement the vocals. The song is a staple of our sound.”
4. Andromida – “Break the Cycle” (feat. Beyond Unbroken)
“With ‘Break the Cycle,’ we wanted to vocalize the effect the routine of everyday life has on us. Doing the same routine day after day becomes a monotony that you never even question, but are left just sitting in silence and suffering with all these thoughts in your head. The song is about finally breaking that vicious cycle of repetitiveness. The music defies all natural law and order of the world with big, chunky guitars, screaming verses and breakdowns, and a mind-bending chorus met with a screaming metal vocal choir to really kick you out of your seat and inspire you to take action.”
5. “With or Without Me”
“In ‘With or Without Me,’ we took you into a digital world influenced by big blockbuster movies like Blade Runner 2049 and TRON: Legacy, and games like Cyberpunk 2077. We wanted the touch of mechanical machines and digital sounds to meet heavy guitar-driven choruses to really bring a big impact to today’s music. We absolutely love the track and how it resonates with all our listeners.”
6. “Falling Down + Heathens”
“2020 was the year of lockdowns and COVID-19, with everyone staying inside. We noticed a significant increase in at-home quarantine-type cover songs that began to take social media by storm. With ‘Falling Down + Heathens,’ we wanted to do more than just a cover. We aimed to create a mashup consisting of two entirely different genres of music, putting them together to make something new. The result is this masterpiece, a song that truly unleashes Monte Money and Michael Money’s capabilities without any restrictions. The monstrous dueling guitar solos leave listeners hitting the repeat button. We never imagined that the song would end up being one of Beyond Unbroken’s greatest releases to date. We are truly thankful for every one of you who contributed to its success.”
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