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"Partnering hip-hop artists with charitable causes is nothing that I made up... but they're infrequently covered by the media, perhaps, unless they're related to a tragedy." -- Dessa
Over the years, Dessa has been able to stand out from the Doomtree collective, which is apparent on her most recent album, Castor, the Twin which recalls the halcyon days of conscious hip-hop groups like The Fugees, Questionmark Asylum, and the Pharcyde. With her cemented individuality apart from the likes of P.O.S. and Lazerbeak, Dessa sees her nonprofit outreach as a bonus part of her burgeoning success. Typically, when musicians reach out to the community, it's something that coincides with attempting to make public amends for some misdeed. With Doomtree's singer/emcee, Dessa, she's reaching out to communities in need, sans agenda or public relations retooling; she's helping people because she can and wants to. PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAI BENSON

 

Despite baring a title that sounds like a soccer team, I Am the Avalanche's long-rumored sophomore album Avalanche United is finally seeing the light of day, courtesy of I Surrender Records. Six years following their debut, it's no surprise that some of these songs have already been leaked online or played live, which lends the record a little bit more familiarity, but make no mistake, this is still a welcomed album.

Because of lead singer Vinnie Carauna's previous band, The Movielife, it's impossible to not compare the two bands, but on this album, IATA certainly come into their own and are definitely forging an identity independent of the members' past groups. Avalanche United starts off with the bombastic "Holy Fuck" and then launches into crowd favorite "Brooklyn Dodgers." Much of the record is filled with breakneck tunes like "You've Got Spiders" and "The Gravedigger's Argument" -- all of which have a tinge of New York/New Jersey '90s hardcore (Lifetime, Kill Your Idols, et. al).

01 Holy Fuck by SecretServicePublicity

Orange County band Thrice have certainly come a long way from playing emotive post-hardcore (or screamo) and touring with bands like American Nightmare, Converge, and Bane, to creating interesting and dense straight-ahead rock albums. It's not like this is big news, though; Thrice have been moving further along from their second major label album Vheissu since their Alchemy Index series.

Like with their last album, Beggars, Thrice take a much more succinct approach with their latest record, Major/Minor. Take, for example, "Blinded" -- a song slightly over four minutes. When compared to recordings in the band's past, whether it's from The Illusion Of Safety or any of the Alchemy Index EPs, it's far different and has very little in common with those. There's no shredding, no screaming, no weird electronic bridges; there's only a four-piece rock band.

I really wanted to dislike this record, but I can't. Simply put: there's something about pop-punk that appeals to me in a very basic way, and while you can argue that Truth In Transit is much more than a pop-punk band, the simple fact is...

Californians Troubled Coast aren't breaking new ground here. Their latest effort, Letters, takes a cue from the recently desceased Crime In Stereo, who had long made an effort to mix elements of shoegaze, indie rock and hardcore along with references to Bukowski and paying off...

By Surprise have a song called "Daggermouth Is Playing At My House" which led me to believe that they were another band aping the pop-punk-hardcore-easycore genre. That said, I was pleasantly "surprised" (see what I did there?) when I listened to "Mountain Smashers" from beginning...

Long-running outfit, Mock Orange, began as an auspicious post-hardcore band, but over time, they have shifted towards much more musically greener pastures, culminating in 2008's "Captain Love," a massively underrated testament to the group's desire to push boundaries. Listen to "Grow Your Soul" - DOWNLOAD...

Going into Joe Sib's one-man show, California Calling, I wasn't sure what to expect. Various reviews of the show online had it pegged as everything from humorous storytelling, to loose-format spoken word, to straight-up stand-up. And, like a real entertainer, Sib gave a show that...