Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hometown Heroes Hotspur

So if you have been keeping up with what’s going on here at The Pulse, you’ll notice we love to bring you up to date with the latest and greatest shows around the area. This past Friday, I was fortunate enough to catch Rockville, Maryland’s own powerpop heroes Hotspur at the 9:30 club. The opening bands included Boys Will Be Boys, Margot Macdonald (“New Artist Of The Year” Wammie Winner), and No Second Troy. As a Winner of “The Freshman” on MTV U – MTV calls Hotspur “Buzzworthy”! Born and raised in Rockville, MD Hotspur was recently chosen for Taco Bell's “Feed the Beat” program and are currently nominated for numerous Washington Area Music Awards.

I remember when I first popped the band’s debut CD You Should Know Better By Now I was only slightly enthused about the band’s music, and even after hearing the record a dozen or so times I still wasn’t feeling it. However after watching the band tear up the stage a week ago I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears: BOY WAS I WRONG. After a brief introduction from Hot 99.5 DJ Kane, the boys ran on stage and tore it up like any rockstar would. Lead singer Joe Mach and lead guitarist Evan Anderson continuously dove into the as the girls went wild and in the process almost took me out by dropping a mic-stand on my head.

Though I remained very much alive, I realized that by the end of the night my body was dead from keeping up with the bands endless enthusiasm. Their energy and talent on stage ranks alongside bands such as Jimmy Eat World, Paramore, and other big name acts. On my way to work the following day I popped the CD back into my car and found my self whizzing around the beltway and belting out the lyrics to “Chandelier” and “Too Young”. Even if you don’t like powerpop tunes or have never heard of the band, you MUST pick up a record and give it a listen or two. To sum up the night in one statement, if you want to the energy of Michael Jackson and Bono, but that intimate hometown feeling you better not miss out on the next Hotspur show. For more information on the band and to her some tunes check he band's Myspace out at and for photos from the show take a peek below and click on the link below for even more shots from their 9:30 show!

Peace Out DC,
Alena Moran

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Javier Dunn: The Man In The Hat

Photo credit Emily Williams.

If you're into singer/songwriter music, you may know the name Javier Dunn. He hangs out in the same Hotel Cafe songwriters circle as artists like Jay Nash, Caitlin Crosby, and Laura Jansen. He's also pretty good friends with Sara Bareilles.

You know the guy with the cool hat in the "Bottle It Up" video? That's Javier.

He has been playing guitar with Ms. Bareilles since their days at UCLA. When he's not on stage with her or uploading videos of their lives on tour to YouTube, Javier writes, records, and performs his own music. The last time he came to town with Sara, I sat down with Javier underneath the marquis of the Fillmore Detroit. Below are some excerpts from this interview. Check out the full audio interview and the internet premiere of his new song "If You Go" on CK Radio (starting at 44:42).

When did you decide to become a musician?

I started playing guitar when I was ten, but I think I knew for sure that I wanted to be a musician when I was like fifteen or sixteen. It just became realistic enough that I could do that for a living. So that’s when I started really focusing on songwriting and doing it for a career.

Were your parents supportive of your decision initially?

They were. They’ve always been super supportive. I think that sometimes they wanted me to do something more practical, like computers or engineering or something. But they’ve always been really supportive. They never told me not to. And now they’re so proud.

Where do you find inspiration when you’re writing?

I don’t know … it ends up just coming from stuff that you’re going through in your life. I feel like a lot of songwriters write songs because they’re not so good at processing life through talking to other friends and it’s just how you breathe out. You know what I’m saying? You take in whatever’s happening. Mostly it’s emotional stuff and relationship stuff. That seems to be the stuff that you want to write about and people can relate to. But really, it’s anything. I guess for the most part, it’s girls.

Tell me about playing on NBC’s Lipstick Jungle. Was it weird playing on a taped show that isn’t music driven?

Yes. It was weird for all of us. We just thought that it was the most ridiculous afternoon. But, you know, this is all so new and so lucky that we’re all just going for the ride. Sure, we’ll try anything once. That ended up being a really fun, easy day that was totally silly, and probably something that we’ll never do again. It was cool to see though.

If you had to pick one high point of this whole experience, what would it be and why?

I’ll do two, and they’re both pretty succinct. One is getting to record at Abbey Road Studios. To get to play and record there was one of the coolest moments of my life. And I think the other one was Madison Square Garden. So, on a performance level and on a cool musical level, those are the two. Just because it’s The Garden and it’s the most nuts thing you could ever do.

Check out Javier on Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr. You can buy his CD at CD Baby. Look for new music from him soon.



Javier Dunn and Sara Bareilles covering "Oh Darling" at Abbey Road Studios.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sleeping Lessons Update

Hey everyone! Way back in July, Alena did an article on a band called Sleeping Lessons.

Well, I'm here to tell you that they're finally in the studio making their debut album. We would love to leak some of it for you, but these boys are perfectionists and don't want you to hear anything but the final product.

However, bassist Andrew Seltzer told me, "one sounds like something off of Room For Squares." He is also excited about the recordings of "Baby I've Got Soul" and a new song, "Slow Motion." The former was played on CBS's Better Connecticut in October.

Sleeping Lessons is also up for a slot at Bamboozle 2010. You can help them get there by going to their show on March 6 at the Trackside Teen Center in Wilton, CT. Tickets are $12. You can get more details on their myspace.

Update 03/08/2010: They did it! Sleeping Lessons is moving to the finals of The Break Contest. You can help them win by going to see them play again at the Trackside Teen Center in Wilton, CT on April 10.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Long Night in Motor City

Artist: John Mayer

City: Auburn Hills, MI

Date: 2/12/10

Grade: A

At the end of his set at the Palace of Auburn Hills, John Mayer crooned "It's been a long night in Motor City" - exchanging Detroit's nickname for NYC in the lyrics to "Who Says." A long night it had been indeed. Two and half hours long, to be exact.

In between playing hits from all four of his studio albums, Mayer exchanged pleasantries with the crowd. As he took the stage, opening with current single "Heartbreak Warfare," Mayer enthusiastically asked, “How are you doing, Detroit?”

Cue screaming women. 12,000 screaming women.

Although the male/female ratio was not as imbalanced as a Jonas Brothers concert, the crowd was dominantly female. After a deafening response to a request to hear the ladies in crowd, Mayer asked the men to make some noise. “You are fewer in number, but LOWER IN TIMBRE,” he quipped.

Mayer spent the evening making fun of everything from the current state of the music industry to the Sylvester Stallone movie Over The Top. He even made fun of himself a bit before playing early single “No Such Thing.” Alone on the stage with just an acoustic guitar, he joked “This is how I used to play shows at coffee houses … there were less people.”

The banter took a softer turn, when Mayer thanked his fans for coming to the show. He commented about how great it felt to know someone in this room might have had a bad day, looked at their concert ticket, and said, “Well, at least I’ve got Friday night.” Although it was unspoken by Mayer himself, many in the crowd remarked that Mayer had probably said the same thing earlier in the week.

You see, John Mayer has been in the news a lot lately. He said something about comparing sex with Jessica Simpson to a drug and letting a racial slur slip. Yeah, you heard that as well?

I’m not here to tell you my opinion on the issue. It’s not my job to tell you how to feel. But I am going to encourage each and every one of you to read the entire interview.

Twitter. It’s a beautiful thing. I tweet. Alena tweets. John Mayer tweets. Twitter has opened the door for communication between fans and musicians. Whether an artist is holding a spontaneous boredom induced Q&A session or asking for an opinion about what kind of sandwich he should have for lunch, musicians and fans are now interacting on an hourly basis.

Mayer owes a lot to Twitter. His 3,061,771 followers aren’t all dedicated fans of his music. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the majority don’t know many songs beyond “Your Body is a Wonderland” and “Waiting on the World to Change.” Through his poop jokes and occasional profound 4 AM thoughts, Mayer has gained new fans, increased his celebrity, and been placed at the forefront of a communication revolution. Mayer even comments on his Twitter use in his now infamous Playboy interview: “With Twitter, I can show my real voice. Here’s me thinking about stuff: ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you could download food?’ It has been important for me to keep communicating.”

Interesting how no one is talking about that sentence.

In the last week, Twitter has killed Mayer. His controversial statements spread like wildfire on the microblogging site. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Twitter, it is made up of short statements of 140 characters or less posted by users. Mayer’s Playboy interview in its entirety has a length of 33,401 characters.

I am asking you to please read the entire interview. Not because I’m sick of your “John Mayer is a douche” status (but honestly – it’s been a week), but instead because I’m a bit worried about our generation. The world is a scary place when the average person is willing to look at only .004% of a final product and take it as fact. What if we only take .004% of laws into consideration? What if we only answer .004% of 911 calls? What if senators only read .004% of the Healthcare Bill?

“Now you kids get off my lawn!”

I realize I sound like a crotchety old man. This is a music blog, and you come here to read about music, not to listen to my rants about the fate of our society. So, let’s talk about John Mayer’s music.

The dude can play guitar.




Heartbreak Warfare



Bigger Than My Body

Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

Perfectly Lonely


War Of My Life

No Such Thing

Waiting on the World to Change

Half of My Heart

Message in a Bottle

Why Georgia



Who Says


Photos by Emily Williams.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Set Your Goals performs Lady Gaga's 'Just Dance' on Kazoos

As if the Bay are band of boys couldn't get any cooler, they take it to the next level. While touring with Motion City Soundtrack, This Providence, and The Swellers, the sextet stopped by the MTV office to perform Lady Gaga's debut single Just Dance on kazoos. Check the video out HERE and see it for yourself. The band consists of vocalists Matt Wilson and Jordan Brown, lead guitarist Audelio Flores Jr, rhythm guitarist Daniel Coddaire, bassist Joe Saucedo and drummer Michael Ambrose. Remember to check out their latest album "This Will Be The Death Of Us" and catch them on tour this spring (dates/venues to be announced Feb 16).

Video Link:

ALSO! Check out some photos from their recent performance at The Recher Theatre in Towson, MD on February 1, 2010. Click on the photos for even more photos from the entire show.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fueled By Ramen's 2009 Jewel: The Swellers

           On a cold Monday evening, I walked up to the Recher Theatre in Towson, MD to see hundreds of college kids lined up ready to rock out on the My Dinasaur Life tour with bands headliners Motion City Soundtrack, and Set Your Goals, This Providence, and our latest favorite, The Swellers. As I climbed through a sold out crowd of kids, I hopped over the barricade and entered the pit to join a few photographers from Sony that were filming for openers This Providence. By 7:00 the crowd grew anxious as The Swellers came on to make their Towson and Recher Theater debut. Though This Providence's gear cluttered most of the pit beyond the barricade, I still got to enjoy their set and grabbed a few good shots (look below for a few photos of their set at The Recher and at the end of the blog).

The Michigan based pop-punk band consists of Nick Diener, (guitar/lead vocals), Jonathan Diener (drums/backing vocals) Ryan Collins (guitar), and Anto Boros (bass/backing vocals). Yes the Diener boys are in fact brothers and they are quite the duo indeed. As the ONLY band to be signed by Fueled By Ramen (FBR) Records (Paramore, The Academy Is..., Cobra Starship) this past year, The Swellers started a new wave of music with their latest album release "Ups and Downsizing). Though new to the label, the band is certainly not new to the whole touring scenario. The Swellers recently finished their album release tour as an opening act for Paramore's album release our as well. When chatting with Drummer Jonathan Diener, he described the experience as "almost too perfect...Not many bands get to experience what we experienced daily on that tour and we wouldn't trade it for anything". The Swellers have been perfecting their live act for the past two and a half years playing hundreds of shows with well known rockers like The Suicide Machines, Mustard Plug, Bowling For Soup, Much The Same, A Wilhelm Scream and made their Vans Warped Tour debut last year where they rocked three dates of the tour on the Ernie Ball stage. However this year, you'll be able to catch the band on Warped Tour all summer as they will be playing the full tour.

            The band agreed that their song writing abilities and performance capabilities have matured and grown over the years, but they say that their key asset was their friend, recording engineer, and producer Mark Michalik. Michalik runs a small studio out of Chicago and has worked on The Swellers last three albums. He has been with the band since the beginning and according to guitarist Ryan Collins, he has been the bands biggest influence throughout the creative process.  After hearing their latest album the first time about 3 months ago, the song "Feet First" marked a milestone for the band as their deepest song yet. The song was inspired by a suicide documentary, The Bridge, which chronicles several suicide attempts from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The song’s title comes from the story of one jumper changed his mind on the way down and hit the water feet first, the safest way to hit the water. That jumper is alive and is now an advocate for anti-suicide. “It’s one of the most powerful songs on the record,” says Nick.

           So if you haven't been lured into buying their complete discography yet (consisting of 4 albums, a demo, and a 7'' vinyl release) then I recommend purchasing or downloading (legally please!) their latest two albums "Ups and Downsizing" and "My Everest" so you two can get in the hype of FBR's best pop-punk band on the label. You can check the band out on Myspace at or on their own website

That's all for now on this snowy Saturday morning. Keep it cool, keep it rockin
The Pulse
All photo credits go to Alena Moran

Jonathan Diemer (top), Nick Diemer (bottom)