Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 | 5:39 p.m.
Shocking to see the hyped electro duo on this list, right? Well, obvious as it might be, we're not about to ignore two guys who very well could find themselves playing Glastonbury and Reading this summer.
Will 2010 be the year of the Afghan Raiders?
Vincent "Beans" Campillo: If everything goes as planned. Last year was huge for us locally; we became well-known in Vegas and also made some national breakthroughs with our remixes. This year we're definitely focused on writing; whether it's an EP or a full-length, we're gonna get something out, hopefully in the next couple months. And then it's off to South by Southwest and Winter Music Conference and, hopefully, Coachella.
Where do things stand with Coachella, and how big a step do you think landing that gig would be?
Mikey Francis: We've been in touch through our management, so I think they definitely have an eye out for us. But we haven't been confirmed or anything like that. Having that on our resumé would be ridiculous. If we're on the Coachella lineup it would be great for our game plan of going to Europe and doing music festivals there this summer.
Thus far, you've created lots of buzz without releasing an album. Do you think full-lengths are even necessary anymore?
Beans: As a listener who's constantly looking for new music, I think the album is still desired. I'm not really satisfied with one track; I like to hear a full-length album, start to finish. We've gotten our name out there, gotten some attention; now I think it's time to give people a long-player, something that they can really dive into and get lost in. I think it definitely is important.
How key is finding a label? Can you get where you want to go on your own?
Beans: For what we want to do, a label is definitely necessary. If we want to go on a tour, we could do it ourselves, but that's a lot of effort and money to travel the world and play a bunch of shows to 12 people in each bar. Whereas, if we have a label and an agent and we get distribution, we're there in CD form before we actually get there on tour.
Mikey: Of course, if those things don't happen for us, we're gonna keep going and pressing and doing it ourselves—you have to, at the end of the day. But the next step is label backing to help us get music out there to people. We also want to reinvent ourselves live, add different elements, before we really hit hard again with touring.
— Spencer Patterson
Gray Matter Academy
Gray Matter Academy
Yes, Jamie Paris is still alive. After taking a brea from playing shows in 2007 to devote time to recording, the former solo artist finally achieved his goal in November, releasing an eight-song EP, Show Your Insides, with new band Gray Matter Academy.
The name? "We wanted to emphasize the intellectual side of pop," Paris says.
His once-simple acoustic sound has evolved into full-on rock 'n' roll, his vocals echoing Savage Garden — minus the adult-contemporary suck.
"The music has definitely grown more," Paris agrees. "It isn't what people expected. They were surprised because they knew they'd be my songs and my words, but they didn't know how the aesthetic was going to change."
Expect to see GMA hit the local circuit hard as the band promotes its EP with an energetic live show.
"We're trying to make every live performance more interesting," Paris promises.
— Laura Davis
His lyrics channel common and his sartorial style Mos Def, but Vegas-born Jerime Shelton confidently occupies his own lane. 2009 saw this thinking-man's rapper break out of the box with performances at End of the Week (New York City's longest-running hip-hop open mic), the Vegas House of Blues (for an uproarious St. Patrick's Day set featuring a wicked guitar-based band) and with Sacramento-based singer/songwriter Tyler Weinrich.
Whether he's dropping metaphors that test your brain's quick-fire synapses, actually freestyling in a cipher (rather than using prewritten filler) or intelligently and earnestly rapping about kicking a cigarette habit, Jream stays true to his (and hip-hop's) roots. By eschewing formulaic approaches to song topic and performance venue, he's expanded the realm of what a Vegas emcee can be and do.
— Damon Hodge
Big Friendly Corporation
Big Friendly Corporation
With the release of second album ... And So It Goes, Big Friendly Corporation is making the first sliver of the new year count, and the local five-piece isn't planning on letting the rest slip by, either.
According to bassist Timothy Styles, the veteran Vegas band plans to be more productive than ever in 2010. BFC's new 13-track disc officially drops January 8 (release show that night at the Aruba), and the band is already hard at work writing its next album, which Styles says will be conceptual. "Time travel, machines, space ..." he muses. "We're still working it out."
That album, which might be released by year's end, also will exude less "Ryan Marth & Company" for more "& Company" feel, Styles says, referring to the Big Friendly's lead vocalist and guitarist. Not that anything's wrong with the current literate indie sound. Still, highlighting the musical talents of Styles, guitarist Jeff Ford, keyboardist Melissa Marth and drummer Mike McDonald should yield fascinating results, too.
"It's a good year to be a Big Friendly Corporation fan," Styles promises.
— April Corbin
What will you have accomplished between Christmas and the end of January? When they're not busy prepping songs for a 7-inch split with Massachusetts pals The Prozacs (tentatively due out in April), laying the groundwork for a second full-length and solidifying an oft-rotating lineup, ska-punk Double Down regulars Murder Majesty will have found the time to play 16 shows in three states.
Looking further into 2010, the sometime sextet is set to tour the East Coast in June, complete a two-week Canadian jaunt in September and take a circuitous Southwest/Southern route to New Orleans and back in November. Other Vegas bands might have played (and stayed) together longer than MM's chaotic, not-quite three years, but they certainly don't possess the same drive, determination or affinity for dropping a multitude of well-timed F-bombs.
— Julie Seabaugh
Taking Dawn might have toured with the likes of All That Remains and Trivium, but the band formerly known as 7th Son isn't about intense, screaming vocals, super-fast tempos or brutally heavy riffs. No, these guys play the kind of metal that was big on the Sunset Strip in the '80s, when spandex, makeup and big hair were all the rage. Thankfully, the guys in Taking Dawn have made better fashion choices, and they've taken the best aspects of bands like Skid Row, Mötley Crüe and Vegas' own Slaughter and combined them with a little modern hard rock to come up with an incredibly catchy, radio-friendly sound.
Taking Dawn has also shared the stage with Lacuna Coil and Dragonforce, and currently is on the road with Theory of a Deadman. The band's debut album, Time to Burn, is out January 26 on Roadrunner Records. That's some big support, and these guys look ready to take advantage of it.
— Josh Bell
A shifting lineup and a change in musical focus emphasizing more of a death-metal influence have only helped Vegas' Molotov Solution reach greater heights, as the band's second album, The Harbinger, was released in June on legendary heavy metal label Metal Blade. Produced by Tim Lambesis of metalcore titans As I Lay Dying, The Harbinger is in the vein of popular deathcore acts like Job for a Cowboy and Whitechapel, and vocalist Nick Arthur growls out politically conscious lyrics over polished, extremely heavy riffs and punishing double-bass percussion attacks.
The band's current tour (with fellow deathcore acts ABACABB, Upon a Burning Body and Dr. Acula) takes it around the country, although not to Vegas (there's a widget on the band's MySpace page to "bring Molotov Solution to Las Vegas"), and they're no doubt inspiring fierce mosh pits wherever they go. We'll look forward to seeing them back home soon enough.
It's tough to sound seasoned at 18. So when you're drawing frequent comparisons to Cat Power, you've got something going for you. It's this haunting croon, belonging to Boulder City-based singer-songwriter Chandelle Gleed, which has been causing a few jaws to drop around the scene.
Also impressive: her arrival despite growing up in a Northern Nevada household with parents who were "against the whole music thing. They'd take my music away if they found it lying around. I had to hide it," Gleed says.
So she packed up her acoustic guitar and songbook — filled with distinctly non-adolescent material — and headed south, to live with her musically supportive grandmother. She's since played in front of her first audience — and gotten over some stage fright.
"My first show was kind of nerve-racking," she concedes.
After catching one of her regular performances atop a foot-bridge over the Strip, we can happily report her nervousness seems to have been left in 2009. Which has us wondering: How long until up-and-coming singer-songwriters are hoping for comparisons to Chandelle?
Not only was 2009 The Rooks' birth year, but in a matter of months the bluesy rock quintet secured a residency at the Griffin and established a local following by bringing a digestible '60s sound Downtown. If that rapid success is any indication, the band is primed for even more progress in 2010.
"Record as many songs as possible, try to tour a little bit, get better," singer Zach Ryan says. "We want to begin the year with the Griffin; from there we want to do a West Coast tour in late March, and in January [we'll] try to record a demo."
Ryan says the projected five-song sampler will maintain The Rooks' catchy song structure while adding new elements.
"We're going to try to incorporate a lot more vocal harmonies, just build as we go."
The pop-rocking fivesome burst onto the local scene in 2009, playing a slew of well-attended local shows, landing an opening gig for Kelly Clarkson in Utah and releasing a self-titled EP. We caught up with frontman Dan Reynolds to discuss what they've got planned as a follow-up.
So what's next for Imagine Dragons?
We're in the studio recording our second EP, and we'll probably finish that and hopefully hop on a tour soon to start to spread the music. We've had a couple of opportunities [to tour], but we're waiting for the right one. We want to make our first touring experience a really good one. To us, touring seems like it would be heaven. We just love playing, and we feel like there's nothing compared to a live show.
Any particular venue you're dreaming of playing?
It would be cool to play someplace like the Joint, but there's a special feeling, too, when you're playing the smaller, more intimate shows. We're looking forward to our gig at Spaceland in LA. I hear it's a really cool venue. One thing we always promised each other was that no matter how big or small the show is, we want to bring everything to the table and really let people get a glimpse of the passion we have for music.
Ideally, where would you like to tour?
We would love to tour across the U.S., but if someone offered us a European tour, we would certainly consider it. [Drummer] Andrew [Tolman] toured around Europe when he was in a jazz band in college, and he's always telling us how it would be his dream to tour Europe with a rock band.
No. 1 goal for 2010?
To grow our fanbase and make a career of it, so we can continue to do what we love.
— Allison Duck