Under the Gun Review Entertainment news for today's generation 2015-08-04T19:21:38Z http://www.underthegunreview.net/feed/atom/ WordPress James Shotwell <![CDATA[Chris Cartier’s “Minimum Wage” Is The Best Song Of The Week]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153976 2015-08-04T19:21:38Z 2015-08-04T18:06:15Z If you were to try and understand the state of American economics by listening to Top 40 radio you may walk away feeling like everything is fine for the majority of US citizens. You would be incredibly wrong, but given the constant celebration of excess and lavish lifestyles heard in the music created by the biggest names in entertainment it’s a mistake that is easy to understand.

The truth about life in America today is ugly. Racial tension feels as if it is at an all-time high, as is unemployment, and the quality of our education system has been on …

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If you were to try and understand the state of American economics by listening to Top 40 radio you may walk away feeling like everything is fine for the majority of US citizens. You would be incredibly wrong, but given the constant celebration of excess and lavish lifestyles heard in the music created by the biggest names in entertainment it’s a mistake that is easy to understand.

The truth about life in America today is ugly. Racial tension feels as if it is at an all-time high, as is unemployment, and the quality of our education system has been on a downward spiral for the better part of the last half decade. People are suffering, both in public and in private, but no one in mainstream music seems to give a damn about those in need. If you ask me, it’s time for that to change, and I knoow of one rapper who might just be able to make a real difference if given the chance.

Chris Cartier is a name known best by those who frequent conversations about who the next great hope for rap may be, but he’s quickly becoming known outside of those random corners of the internet thanks to a string of great projects released over the last year. His latest, “Minimum Wage,” is an incredibly direct and unabashed exploration of what it’s like to live in poverty today. Cartier is telling his truth, and in every line he spits you can sense the urgency in his voice. He isn’t asking for change, he’s demanding it, and we think you will be too after hearing this new single. You can experience the song, as well as its stunning visuals, below.

Look out for more from Cartier later this year when he releases his next project, Black Suburbia, sometime in September. Until then, comment below and let us know your thoughts on Cartier’s irresistible flow.

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James Shotwell <![CDATA[Trophy Lungs Announce ‘Day Jobs,’ Stream Lead Single]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153971 2015-08-04T16:10:36Z 2015-08-04T15:04:13Z Boston’s pop-punk underdogs Trophy Lungs have finally announced plans to release their long-awaited Antique Records debut, Day Jobs. The album, which was announced at the top of 2015, will be available on September 18.

To celebrate the news, Trophy Lungs partnered with the fine folks at Vanyaland to premiere the lead single from the album. You can stream the track, titled “Day Jobs,” at the end of this post.

We have had the great fortune to hear an advance copy of Day Jobs and we believe it’s an album created with adults in mind. Too often pop-punk is written …

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Boston’s pop-punk underdogs Trophy Lungs have finally announced plans to release their long-awaited Antique Records debut, Day Jobs. The album, which was announced at the top of 2015, will be available on September 18.

To celebrate the news, Trophy Lungs partnered with the fine folks at Vanyaland to premiere the lead single from the album. You can stream the track, titled “Day Jobs,” at the end of this post.

We have had the great fortune to hear an advance copy of Day Jobs and we believe it’s an album created with adults in mind. Too often pop-punk is written off as something for teens, but Trophy Lungs prove to be a rare exception. With lyrics about the realities of post-college existence conveyed through unflinching honesty and an undeniably infectious sound, it’s easy to imagine this band being everywhere in no time at all. Check out the song below and let us know if you agree.

Pre-orders for Day Jobs are available now through Antique Records.

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Brian Lion http://underthegunreview.net <![CDATA[UTG INTERVIEW: Jared Deck Discusses “17 Miles”; The Song & The Distance]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153899 2015-08-04T08:16:34Z 2015-08-04T13:00:06Z “In the end, it’s about facing myself and making the decision to be great at what I do, put my foot to the floor, and drive like hell to my destination.”

Oklahoma’s Jared Deck has been making music in various forms for some time, but as a solo artist, he’s really only just begun. His newest single, “17 Years,” would lead you to think quite the opposite, though, as it offers a confidence and control that only a seasoned veteran would typically have the experience to project. Deck’s own brand of MidAmericana is immediately accessible with a sound that should …

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“In the end, it’s about facing myself and making the decision to be great at what I do, put my foot to the floor, and drive like hell to my destination.”

Oklahoma’s Jared Deck has been making music in various forms for some time, but as a solo artist, he’s really only just begun. His newest single, “17 Years,” would lead you to think quite the opposite, though, as it offers a confidence and control that only a seasoned veteran would typically have the experience to project. Deck’s own brand of MidAmericana is immediately accessible with a sound that should bring such greats as Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp to mind, or even newer rising stars like Jason Isbell.

We had the chance to speak with Deck about his musical upbringing and how it all led to where he’s at now with his solo work, post-cowpunk bands and the like. Read through our full conversation below.

To begin, can you tell me a bit about where your love for music began? Did you grow up around it?

Western Oklahoma has never been much of a cultural hotbed. All I knew was what I heard, and I heard my mother play the piano. Hymns and spirituals were why I begged for lessons. Like most Bible Belt kids, I sang and played in church from a young age.

Do you remember an exact moment when it clicked for you that becoming a musician was something you wanted to pursue?

In a town of 1,200 people, big dreams are tough to realize. My family owns a farm and the town grocery store. Growing up, it wasn’t easy to see down the road. At 22, I played my first show with a thrown together band at a college festival. I felt alive on stage for the first time and discovered the artistic connection a musician makes with the audience. I’d seen more dreams crash than take flight, but in that moment, I was able to admit that the dream was worth the risk.

Before we dive into your current work, can you tell me some of what you did with your previous band and maybe break down the specifics of “cowpunk”? That’s a genre I’ve never heard of in my life.

Cowpunk was part of New Wave that combined country, punk and rockabilly. It included Rank N File (with Alejandro Escovedo), The LeRoi Brothers, X, and Dwight Yoakam. My prior band, Green Corn Revival, was an indie rock take on that ethos. GCR released two albums and an EP, played SXSW twice, and worked as Wanda Jackson’s backing band when she released her Jack White-produced album, The Party Ain’t Over. The music was great, but complicated and stressful on stage. By the end, I needed to simplify and focus on songwriting, rather than arranging a seven-piece band.

So where does your love and interest in country/Americana music stem from and when did that start?

My love for Americana stems from my love for the people who opened my ears to it. In rural Oklahoma, country music is inescapable. My first exposure to Americana and folk music came in college. My mentor, Bill Haney, dragged me to every nursing home in Western Oklahoma, singing southern folk songs. Later, the Jennings family took me to my first Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, OK, where I saw Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Pete Seeger, and Arlo Guthrie. For six years after that, I learned spirituals playing piano and leading the choir at a small, predominantly African-American church in Clinton, OK. I studied music in college, but the musical education I received from these experiences is just as irreplaceable.

Who are some artists, within the genre or otherwise, who you feel inspire what you’re creating currently?

I’ve admired Alejandro Escovedo since I saw him at the Blue Door in OKC years ago. A former cowpunk artist who transitioned to a solo Americana artist. In June, Alejandro showed up to an impromptu show of mine in Amarillo. It was surreal seeing him in the audience. Afterward, we visited and he said, “You have a powerful, beautiful voice.” An unforgettable moment. The success of John Fullbright, a fellow Okie who takes songwriting to another level, inspired and challenged me to excel. And Beau Jennings, my favorite Oklahoma songwriter, recently released a record and documentary inspired by Will Rogers. Beau has a vast catalog and it’s all fantastic.

And what made you decide to branch off on your own and start working on solo material? What have the pros and cons been of that for you so far?

The music I wrote before was heavily arranged, without room for error. I had written or at least knew every part and noticed every mistake. It was stressful. About a year ago, my writing began to change. I found beauty in simplicity and returned to my musical roots. Over the winter, I faced myself in my writing and decided to retire Green Corn Revival. So far, I can’t say there have been any cons. I feel my writing has improved. I’m more relaxed and enjoying creating and performing more than ever.

What’s the story behind “17 Miles”? What’s the track mean to you and what do you hope listeners get from it?

“17 Miles” is a race against time that every musician faces and takes on the love/hate relationship between big dreams and small towns. I live exactly 17 miles from my hometown and sometimes question whether that’s been beneficial or a hinderance to my music. Am I holding on to something that’s not there or has home been the right place all along? Can I reach my goals from here or do I need to let go? In the end, it’s about facing myself and making the decision to be great at what I do, put my foot to the floor, and drive like hell to my destination.

As far as the other musicians involved with the instrumentation on that song, are they a constant band for you or are they people who you got just for this particular track? How did you choose who to work with?

Travis McKinzie (drums) and Brandon Cink (guitar) regularly play. My wife, Jacy Deck (piano), Chris Wiser (organ), and Fred Hanradt (bass) came for the session. Wiser is half of the Grammy-winning kindie rock duo, Sugar Free All Stars, and Hanradt plays bass for Aranda. I’ve tried to build a team that strives for excellence and that I trust to be honest with me. Chad Roper (Charlie Hall, Aranda) wrote the bass part and assisted in arrangement. Of course, the relationship developed with my producer, Wes Sharon, has made all the difference. Wes understands songs and the people who write them, and he has helped me find a voice I didn’t know I had.

And is “17 Miles” just a standalone single for now or will this end up on an album of some sort? Anything you can reveal about that?

Wes and I are in the beginning stages of producing a full-length album. “17 Miles” will likely be on the record, possibly with a new twist. Overall, it’s important that this record portrays the road that so many in rural America travel. I call it Midamericana–the sound of our world between the big cities, where dreams are born and die. It’s the hopeless optimism in our stories and the bumpy rhythm of Route 66. Where I come from, we don’t study culture, we live it. We work hard, play harder, dream high, and fall a lot farther. From the oilfield to the farm, and from our triumphs to our tragedies, these stories are worth telling–and I hope to do them justice.

I see you’ve got a few shows lined up. Any full touring plans in the works?

I’m currently booking fall in a few states and planning a large scale tour to promote the new album.

As for the foreseeable future, any other goals or plans you’re looking forward to? Anything you’d like to mention that we didn’t discuss?

My goal is to continually excel as a songwriter and human being, to grow into the man I’d rather be writing about. I want each new song to feel like graduation, like I’ve grown from what I’ve lived through.

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James Shotwell <![CDATA[Natalie Imbruglia Covering The Cure Is Heaven On Earth]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153954 2015-08-03T20:42:34Z 2015-08-03T19:26:38Z Remember Natalie Imbruglia? Our friends outside of America have watched the pop songstress lead an incredible and diverse career in the spotlight, but here in The States the singer-songwriter hasn’t had a major hit since “Torn” dominated the charts in 1997. I can’t say whether or not a time will ever come when Imbruglia reaches those heights of celebrity here in the U.S. again, but I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that Natalie is still churning out tracks that will make you feel all the feels known to man.

Last week, Natalie Imbruglia released an album of …

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Remember Natalie Imbruglia? Our friends outside of America have watched the pop songstress lead an incredible and diverse career in the spotlight, but here in The States the singer-songwriter hasn’t had a major hit since “Torn” dominated the charts in 1997. I can’t say whether or not a time will ever come when Imbruglia reaches those heights of celebrity here in the U.S. again, but I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that Natalie is still churning out tracks that will make you feel all the feels known to man.

Last week, Natalie Imbruglia released an album of cover songs titled Male. The name of the record is owed to the fact Imbruglia chose to reimagine tracks written and originally performed by men, including songs by the likes of Damien Rice and Death Cab For Cutie. We don’t spend a lot of time covering albums filled with cover songs around here, but we would be lying if we said the album hadn’t been on repeat around our offices for the better part of two weeks. We’ve heard literally every song many times before, but somehow Imbruglia has found a way to make each one feel new again.

Instead of writing a long review about covers of songs we all know to be great already, I thought it would be far more beneficial for everyone if we just shared one of the better tracks of this fantastic release. You’ve no doubt heard The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” one or three-hundred times in your life, but I can guarantee you’ve never heard the foot-stomping acoustic rendition Imbruglia delivers on Male. The heart of the song is still present, but the accompaniment has been completely reworked in the most exciting way possible. You can experience the song below.

Male is available now from music retailers and pretty much every streaming service in existence. If you like what you hear, please make it a point to support Imbruglia’s creativity. She’s one of the finest female pop stars of all time, and it would be a shame to see her step out of the spotlight any time soon.

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James Shotwell <![CDATA[MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Irrational Man’ Is An Odd Woody Allen Film]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153946 2015-08-03T18:51:42Z 2015-08-03T18:51:42Z Film: Irrational Man
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone
Directed by: Woody Allen

Caught between the woman he should love and the one who will be his ruin, a man finds himself discovering the reason for his existence in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man.

Coming off the lukewarm, albeit whimsically nihilistic Magic In The Moonlight, Woody Allen has delivered the latest in his one-a-year film series. It’s neither the highlight of Woody’s later years, nor the low mark on a storied career that has experienced more peaks and valleys than the great Rocky Mountains. It’s a witty, entirely Woody …

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Film: Irrational Man
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone
Directed by: Woody Allen

Caught between the woman he should love and the one who will be his ruin, a man finds himself discovering the reason for his existence in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man.

Coming off the lukewarm, albeit whimsically nihilistic Magic In The Moonlight, Woody Allen has delivered the latest in his one-a-year film series. It’s neither the highlight of Woody’s later years, nor the low mark on a storied career that has experienced more peaks and valleys than the great Rocky Mountains. It’s a witty, entirely Woody tale of love and self-loathing that takes unexpected and technically unwarranted turns that save the film from spiraling into yet another romcom about age differences and whether or not they mean anything when love is at play. There is a bit of that as well, but at this point in Allen’s career that is about as expected as a reference to Ingmar Bergman, and Irrational Man has both.

Joaquin Phoenix is Abe, an out-of-shape philosophy professor who hasn’t been able to see the upside of anything since his divorce several years prior. He’s starting a new job at a tiny Rhode Island university, and he has a bad boy reputation that seems to have beat him to campus. It doesn’t take long for Abe to catch the eye of not one, but two women. The first is Rita (Parker Posey), a fellow professor who is sexually frustrated by her marriage, and the other is a promising young student named Jill (Emma Stone). Abe finds something he enjoys in both, though what exactly draws him to them remains largely a mystery, and in classic Allen fashion there is plenty of exposition filled with jabs and quips regarding Abe’s interest in women nearly half his age.

Irrational Man entertains the idea of focusing solely on this love triangle for the majority of its first two acts, but things take a surprising turn when Abe overhears a stranger complaining about a tough judge who has basically promised them that they will never see their children again. Abe has no connection to the judge, nor the case being discussed, but for some reason learning about this corrupt official ignites a fire inside Abe’s soul that leads him to decide the only proper course of action is murder. After all, no one will be able to connect him to a case involving people he has never actually met. It’s the perfect crime.

There are elements of Irrational Man that bring to mind other comedic capers from Allen’s catalog, such as Crimes And Misdemeanors or the criminally underrated Curse Of The Jade Scorpion, but overall Woody’s latest creation is something else entirely. Instead of tying everything up in a neat little bow at the end, Allen leaves a lot of the issues plaguing Abe unresolved, which forces the audience to question not only the motivation behind his actions, but also his sanity. Is Abe a man pushed too far by a society that doesn’t allow time for depression and regret, or is he a mad man from frame one who, for whatever reason, somehow manages to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes until it’s far too late? I don’t know that I could tell you if I tried, and I’m not sure Allen could either. It’s open to debate, and that’s what makes Irrational Man linger in the viewer’s mind far longer than other recent features by the storied director.

In a recent interview with NPR, Allen said his biggest downfall as a filmmaker was due to the fact he’s both ‘lazy and an imperfectionist.’ He continued, saying, “Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese will work on the details until midnight and sweat it out, whereas for me, come 6 o’clock, I want to go home, I want to have dinner, I want to watch the ballgame. Filmmaking is not [the] end-all be-all of my existence.” It may be that lack of drive to see things through to the point of perfection that restricts Irrational Man from becoming the modern classic it could have very well been, but as is, the latest feature in Woody Allen’s one-a-year film series is an above average bit of escapism that die-hards will no doubt love and haters will be quick to dismiss. It’s not his worst nor his best, but it’s still better than the vast majority of films being produced in Tinsel Town today.

GRADE: B-

Review written by: James Shotwell

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Drew Caruso <![CDATA[Foxing are teasing ‘Dealer’ for Fall 2015]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153943 2015-08-03T17:26:44Z 2015-08-03T17:26:44Z Foxing have been in the studio recently preparing their as of yet untitled sophomore LP. Following the much loved The Albatross, fans have been eagerly awaiting anything new from the band.

To excite us even further, the band have posted a video on YouTube simply titled “Dealer,” alluding to the new album’s possible title. The video showcases a release window for fall 2015. The video features sparse and wide sounds that collect in beauty only the band know how to emit. Just getting off of their tour with mewithoutYou, hopefully a full song stream is on our immediate future. …

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Foxing have been in the studio recently preparing their as of yet untitled sophomore LP. Following the much loved The Albatross, fans have been eagerly awaiting anything new from the band.

To excite us even further, the band have posted a video on YouTube simply titled “Dealer,” alluding to the new album’s possible title. The video showcases a release window for fall 2015. The video features sparse and wide sounds that collect in beauty only the band know how to emit. Just getting off of their tour with mewithoutYou, hopefully a full song stream is on our immediate future.

The album will release through Triple Crown Records. Follow us after the jump to check out the teaser.

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Kyle Florence http://underthegunreview.net <![CDATA[UTG TRACK-BY-TRACK: The Kickdrums – ‘Breathe Again’]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153930 2015-08-04T17:26:31Z 2015-08-03T17:11:13Z Alex Fitts is one busy dude. When he’s not producing tracks for Kid Cudi, 50 Cent, and scores of other notable artists, he’s making music as The Kickdrums, piecing together various genres to create some exceedingly unique jams.

On his latest EP, Breathe Again, the Brooklyn songwriter has crafted six hypnotic singles that blur the lines between indie, electronic, and trap. It’s an eclectic blend that takes some getting used to, but if given the chance, these tracks will stick to the walls of your brain like no other.

UTG recently caught up with Fitts, who was kind …

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Alex Fitts is one busy dude. When he’s not producing tracks for Kid Cudi, 50 Cent, and scores of other notable artists, he’s making music as The Kickdrums, piecing together various genres to create some exceedingly unique jams.

On his latest EP, Breathe Again, the Brooklyn songwriter has crafted six hypnotic singles that blur the lines between indie, electronic, and trap. It’s an eclectic blend that takes some getting used to, but if given the chance, these tracks will stick to the walls of your brain like no other.

UTG recently caught up with Fitts, who was kind enough to grace us with a track-by-track account of how his newest release came into being. Check it out below, and if you’re a fan, pick up your own copy of Breathe Again here.


Better

I made this track with a production style I developed a while back during the Meet Your Ghost recording sessions, in which I play some live drums into Protools from a MPC 2000xl, and then mess around with a bass line until I find something I like. It’s what I like to call a “live” beat, in that I’m basically making a beat that sounds programmed, but it’s all played out live. Then I’ll use Ableton to mangle old samples until you can’t recognize them anymore and start layering those in one after another until it fills up.

As I’m making the track, I’ll always be messing with the lyrics and vocal melodies in my head. For this one, I had the “I love the way you…” and the “If it’ll make you feel better” parts circling in my head the whole time. I had decided to work with my friend Aaron Weiss on the writing of this project because I was a bit overwhelmed with producing and writing everything myself. He ended up writing four of the six songs with me. I showed him the ideas I had so far, and he helped me fill in the gaps. He compliments my style really easily.

Breathe Again

This was one of the first songs I did that I knew I was going to use, and it set the tone for everything else. I just wanted to make something weird that was indie but not indie, a beat but not a beat, a song but not a song, and this is what I came up with. [laughs] I had a second verse, but I lost it somehow, so I ended up just singing the first verse twice, which actually helped me accomplish that “song but not a song” thing, I guess. It’s about a lost love, and a few different girls definitely think it’s about them, but the actual girl knows who she is.

Home

This song and “Better” were made at the same time, so that’s why they sound similar in style. I used the same production techniques and co-wrote it with Aaron again. I actually lost the song files when one of my hard drives died, so all I had was the partial instrumental, which was still in my email. I really liked it and wanted to finish it, and tried to rebuild it but couldn’t. Eventually I said “fuck it” and decided to just record the two track beat that I still had. I added some “finishing touches” on top of the two track, and fashioned a bridge out of other spare parts from the two track, which, in the end, I honestly liked the best out of any of the bridges on the EP. [laughs] A small piece of me will always wish I would have been able to work on this song with all the separated parts, but I mostly just love it for being the creation it became because I worked with what I had available.

Melted

With this song, I wanted to make something that actually sounded like a beat and use more banging, big style drums. I basically wanted to make it sound like something someone could rap on but use the melodies to make it more indie/poppy. This is the first one Aaron and I wrote together and all I really had at first was the “Who are you, who are you now?” chorus idea. We fleshed out the lyrics and I had my friend Geminelle Rollins layer in some backing vocals on the chorus. I personally liked working on the bridge of this song a lot–it was fun to experiment with layering in different sounds

Cigarette For Us

I wrote this track specifically for sessions I booked with my live drummer, Chris Wall. I wanted to go in and record 5-6 songs to see how it would sound if we did some more traditional style recordings–we had been playing together live for so long, it felt like it was time. So I made some super rough demo songs, we rehearsed them a bit in a practice space, and we went into the studio at Dan Gluszak’s (Envy On The Coast) place in Long Island. The sessions went really smooth and Dan was able to get some great drum tones. I ended up layering in a drum break on this particular song, but it probably didn’t need it–that was just the producer in me taking over, I guess. This was probably the best song in terms of Aaron’s writing style on the EP, in my opinion. It sounds more like him than me, but I kind of like that. He really made this one his own.

Lights

This is another one from the Dan Gluszak sessions. It was the one Chris and I had worked the most on and therefore came out the cleanest. This was the sound I was looking for in terms of wanting to incorporate the live drums. Dan did such a good job at complimenting my vision for a very garage-ish, heavy tone, and Chris played great. We have a few more really cool songs from those sessions that’ll get finished at some point, I’m sure. I wrote this one solo because it was before I asked Aaron to write with me. I’d expect to hear more stuff along these lines from Chris and I in the future, just taken further.

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James Shotwell <![CDATA[Trailer For ‘Deadpool’ Trailer Is Better Than Most Trailers]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153926 2015-08-03T18:43:09Z 2015-08-03T15:56:34Z That title was a bit of a tongue-twister. Sorry.

The wait is almost over, folks. After bringing down the house during the Hall H debut of footage last month, Deadpool will finally introduce himself to average moviegoers this week as not one, but two trailers for the highly-anticipated comic book film hit the net. The first of the clips, which we’re told is a red band trailer, will premiere on Conan Tuesday night (8/4). A green band—or general audiences trailer—for the film will follow on Friday as part of the previews attached to Fantastic Four.

Today, in anticipation of …

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That title was a bit of a tongue-twister. Sorry.

The wait is almost over, folks. After bringing down the house during the Hall H debut of footage last month, Deadpool will finally introduce himself to average moviegoers this week as not one, but two trailers for the highly-anticipated comic book film hit the net. The first of the clips, which we’re told is a red band trailer, will premiere on Conan Tuesday night (8/4). A green band—or general audiences trailer—for the film will follow on Friday as part of the previews attached to Fantastic Four.

Today, in anticipation of the trailers being released, a trailer for the trailers was made available. The clip features Wade Wilson introducing himself, his film and when everyone can expect to get a look at the finished product. It’s a short bit of footage, but it’s definitely a must-see for any fan of the comic franchise. You can view the video below.

Deadpool arrives in theaters next February. We’ll post the trailers as soon as they find their way online. Stay tuned.

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James Shotwell <![CDATA[MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Southpaw’ Can’t Land A Punch]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153920 2015-08-03T02:15:34Z 2015-08-03T13:45:07Z Film: Southpaw
Starring: Jake Gyllenhall
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Despite two incredible fights that serve as bookends to the story, Southpaw is a messy boxing film that never quite finds its groove.

There are very few story elements at play in Southpaw that you haven’t seen at least a few times before, typically in other films about boxing. It’s the story of a one-time sports hero, Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal), who loses himself in a world of depression and rage following the loss of his wife (Rachel McAdams) in the film’s first act. As his spiral continues, the lavish lifestyle …

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Film: Southpaw
Starring: Jake Gyllenhall
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Despite two incredible fights that serve as bookends to the story, Southpaw is a messy boxing film that never quite finds its groove.

There are very few story elements at play in Southpaw that you haven’t seen at least a few times before, typically in other films about boxing. It’s the story of a one-time sports hero, Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal), who loses himself in a world of depression and rage following the loss of his wife (Rachel McAdams) in the film’s first act. As his spiral continues, the lavish lifestyle his career has provided begins to unravel, along with his ability to perform and raise his daughter (Oona Laurence). It’s not until he has hit rock bottom that Billy even realizes the damage done by his inner turmoil, and at that point there is only one way to find his way back to the top.

Director Antoine Fuqua and writer Kurt Sutter have each long-proven their ability to create gripping and gritty stories of individuals dealing with, and often overcoming, personal struggles. Southpaw is a rare miss for both, as it lacks the keen eye for storytelling that first established Fuqua’s presence in film, as well as Sutter’s knack for making heavy-handed drama feel authentic. There is a part of me that wants to believe both faults could be explained by a studio exec’s decision to cut out twenty or thirty minutes of narrative from the film, but there is no evidence of that being the case with this film. It’s simply an incomplete story, and that is a damn shame because everything could have been better with just a little more effort.

What does work well for the film–even when the script begins to soften–are the performances provided by Gyllenhaal and his on-screen trainer, Forest Whitaker. Once their characters meet in the film–which happens somewhere in the second act–Southpaw finds a sense of energy that had previously been lacking from the film. It’s not as much about the moves they make in the context of the story, but rather the conviction found in every line of dialogue that crosses their lips, because everyone already knows Billy Hope will eventually fight the young contender introduced at the beginning of the film. We want to see the training montage and other sequences related to fight preparation, but that alone is not enough to make us care about what’s happening on screen. That requires convincing talent, and that is the one thing Southpaw has in bulk.

I wish I could tell you Southpaw is the mid-budget boxing epic we have unknowingly been waiting our entire lives to enjoy, or that it was basically Rocky for a new generation, but it’s nowhere near either and it’s almost entirely forgettable. If the fights that serve as opening and closing sequences were not as breathtaking as teased in the long promotional campaign this film would be a far-too-shallow misfire that under-utilizes everything that makes it worthwhile. You may walk away entertained, but you certainly won’t be wowed.

GRADE: C

Review written by James Shotwell

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Kyle Florence http://underthegunreview.net <![CDATA[The Front Bottoms Announce ‘Back On Top’]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153914 2015-07-31T16:01:59Z 2015-07-31T16:01:59Z Following the release of a two surprise singles earlier this summer, The Front Bottoms have announced that their Fueled By Ramen debut, Back On Top, will arrive on September 18. Pre-order the record here, and let us know if you’re excited in the replies.

In addition, the New Jersey foursome have also unveiled the album’s lead single, “Help,” along with an accompanying music video. Check it out below.

The band will be spending pretty much the rest of the year on the road, sharing the stage with The Smith Street Band, Elvis Depressedly, and Kevin Devine. For more …

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Following the release of a two surprise singles earlier this summer, The Front Bottoms have announced that their Fueled By Ramen debut, Back On Top, will arrive on September 18. Pre-order the record here, and let us know if you’re excited in the replies.

In addition, the New Jersey foursome have also unveiled the album’s lead single, “Help,” along with an accompanying music video. Check it out below.

The band will be spending pretty much the rest of the year on the road, sharing the stage with The Smith Street Band, Elvis Depressedly, and Kevin Devine. For more details, head here.

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James Shotwell <![CDATA[SINGLE REVIEW: One Direction – “Drag Me Down”]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153911 2015-07-31T20:04:12Z 2015-07-31T15:40:00Z Artist: One Direction
Track: “Drag Me Down”
Album: TBA

A year after “Steal My Girl” ushered in an era where the members of One Direction were focused on songs built for stadiums, “Drag Me Down” has arrived to flip the script once more.

It’s all about the energy. From the moment “Drag Me Down” kicks in there is a thick bass line guiding the entire voyage that demands your legs prepare to dance. It’s a ticking time bomb of pop sensibilities that quickly builds from the infectious first verse to a pre-chorus that pulls you in to the …

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Artist: One Direction
Track: “Drag Me Down”
Album: TBA

A year after “Steal My Girl” ushered in an era where the members of One Direction were focused on songs built for stadiums, “Drag Me Down” has arrived to flip the script once more.

It’s all about the energy. From the moment “Drag Me Down” kicks in there is a thick bass line guiding the entire voyage that demands your legs prepare to dance. It’s a ticking time bomb of pop sensibilities that quickly builds from the infectious first verse to a pre-chorus that pulls you in to the point where resistance is absolutely futile. When the chorus finally arrives, you’re in too deep to do anything except bob your head and tap your toes. The song hasn’t fully exposed itself yet, but the rising energy is palpable. You know something big is coming, but you don’t know just how it will show itself.

One Direction have never been the masters of surprise in pop music. Their albums play like rollercoasters of sugar-coated emotions. They’re fun and just diverse enough to keep you on your toes, but you know there is nothing that will come out of left field and take you by surprise. That isn’t what One Direction fans want, after all. They want these boys turned men to be the crooning heartthrobs they’ve always been, and to an extent they are, but “Drag Me Down” is proof there is so much more to their abilities as a group that we have yet to see put on display.

Really, “Drag Me Down” is exactly what One Direction need to release at this point in their career. Rumors of break-ups have been circling since the departure of Zayn Malik earlier in the year, and they’ve only grown stronger since news broke that Louis Tomlinson will soon be a father. The group is at a crossroads where they can either fall back on the incredibly simple, yet undeniable catchy sound that made them international sensations, or they can try and find something new to explore. “Drag Me Down,” while quite infectious, is that something new the group needs. It’s musically complex, with easy to learn lyrics and a hook that just won’t quit without being anything like the material found on the group’s previous albums. It’s new, and in the ever-disposable world of pop music new is everything.

It’s probably too early to make any assumptions about what other new ideas One Direction will have to share on their upcoming album, but “Drag Me Down” is proof this so-called boy band still have a lot of gas in their tank. While previous generations of pop groups have fallen off after one, two, or even three strong albums, One Direction seem determined to become a group that delivers strong, inexplicably fun releases for as long as there are people who want to see them perform. Even if they do decide to one day hang it up, I imagine a future where the members return to the stage like New Kids On The Block have in recent years is not entirely outside the realm of possibility. If that is indeed the case, you can bet your ass I’ll be there singing along with every single song.

Written by: James Shotwell

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Kyle Florence http://underthegunreview.net <![CDATA[The Wonder Years Stream New Single, “Cigarettes & Saints”]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153890 2015-07-31T15:20:54Z 2015-07-31T15:20:54Z The Wonder Years have given us a second taste of their forthcoming album, No Closer To Heaven, in the form of a brand new single titled “Cigarettes & Saints.”

The Pennsylvania outfit’s latest offering finds Dan Campbell and company pushing their craft to wondrous new heights, both lyrically and instrumentally. While TWY have always stood head and shoulders above their peers thanks to their airtight composition, the band’s newest track is without a doubt some of their most concrete work to date, which is pretty wild considering their near-flawless back catalogue. Listen in below, and let us know what …

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The Wonder Years have given us a second taste of their forthcoming album, No Closer To Heaven, in the form of a brand new single titled “Cigarettes & Saints.”

The Pennsylvania outfit’s latest offering finds Dan Campbell and company pushing their craft to wondrous new heights, both lyrically and instrumentally. While TWY have always stood head and shoulders above their peers thanks to their airtight composition, the band’s newest track is without a doubt some of their most concrete work to date, which is pretty wild considering their near-flawless back catalogue. Listen in below, and let us know what you think in the comments.

No Closer To Heaven hits shelves on September 4 through Hopeless Records. Pre-orders are ongoing.

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Brian Lion http://underthegunreview.net <![CDATA[Matthew Morgan Shares Live Video For New Song, “All Those Tears”]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153895 2015-07-31T14:50:44Z 2015-07-31T12:50:41Z We recently had the chance to speak with singer-songwriter Matthew Morgan about everything from his newest EP, Empathy For Inanimate Objects, to the personal and relatable nature of his delivery. “I think it’s a culmination of years of living, successes and failures; over time your exterior ego gets broken down and it becomes more important to just be true to yourself,” Morgan explained.

One of his newest tracks, which he’s been playing live, titled “All Those Tears,” very much continues that trend. Morgan recently shared a live video from Raw Foot Productions for the song that he and his …

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We recently had the chance to speak with singer-songwriter Matthew Morgan about everything from his newest EP, Empathy For Inanimate Objects, to the personal and relatable nature of his delivery. “I think it’s a culmination of years of living, successes and failures; over time your exterior ego gets broken down and it becomes more important to just be true to yourself,” Morgan explained.

One of his newest tracks, which he’s been playing live, titled “All Those Tears,” very much continues that trend. Morgan recently shared a live video from Raw Foot Productions for the song that he and his band members performed at The Store in Chicago, Illinois recently. You can watch the beautiful performance below and check out more of Matthew Morgan’s music on his Bandcamp page.

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James Shotwell <![CDATA[UTG PREMIERE: Thundercloud Kid – “Bad News for Blue Eyes”]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153885 2015-07-30T23:13:28Z 2015-07-30T22:58:22Z It’s never too late in the day for a great music premiere, right?

We have been outspoken about our love for the upstate New York music scene for as long as I can remember at this point. It seems like every band that comes out of Buffalo or the surrounding area not only has something to say, but a unique way to say it as well, and that is again the case with newcomers Thundercloud Kid. Their sound is one part pop punk, two parts indie, and just a bit old school rock and roll. Sound good? Just wait …

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It’s never too late in the day for a great music premiere, right?

We have been outspoken about our love for the upstate New York music scene for as long as I can remember at this point. It seems like every band that comes out of Buffalo or the surrounding area not only has something to say, but a unique way to say it as well, and that is again the case with newcomers Thundercloud Kid. Their sound is one part pop punk, two parts indie, and just a bit old school rock and roll. Sound good? Just wait till you hear it.

Today, we have the absolute honor of premiering Thundercloud Kid’s “Bad News For Blue Eyes” music video. The track is taken from the group’s new EP, Songs About the Hopeless and Mourning, which arrives in stores on August 28. You can view the video below.

We don’t know a lot about what Thundercloud Kid have planned for the future, but we know we cannot wait for Songs About the Hopeless and Mourning to hit our inbox. If you feel the same, comment below and make yourself known!

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Matthew Leimkuehler http://underthegunreview.net <![CDATA[UTG PREMIERE: The Hollywood Kills – “Señorita”]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153878 2015-07-30T17:16:17Z 2015-07-30T17:15:13Z Coming straight off the band’s newest EP, Episode IV, is The Hollywood Kills‘ latest single, “Señorita.” The track is a clever and fun number—capturing a burlesque-infused sounbd of swing rock ‘n’ roll not unlike that heard in the early numbers of The Dear Hunter’s Act II.

It’s a totally sassy song, the chorus is vibrant and the entire track will make you want to swing your hips. If good bourbon had a soundtrack, this song would be one of the premier numbers.

The band had this to say about the new track:

“This song is an ode

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Coming straight off the band’s newest EP, Episode IV, is The Hollywood Kills‘ latest single, “Señorita.” The track is a clever and fun number—capturing a burlesque-infused sounbd of swing rock ‘n’ roll not unlike that heard in the early numbers of The Dear Hunter’s Act II.

It’s a totally sassy song, the chorus is vibrant and the entire track will make you want to swing your hips. If good bourbon had a soundtrack, this song would be one of the premier numbers.

The band had this to say about the new track:

“This song is an ode to all the crazy women we’ve met and loved while being young musicians, and in many ways an ode to how crazy we’ve been during those times as well.”

Listen to “Señorita” in full below and leave your thoughts in the comments. Episode IV—the band’s (you guessed it) fourth release—is due out later this year.

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Sam Cohen <![CDATA[MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ Has Thrills, Laughs, Cruise]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153867 2015-07-29T17:53:29Z 2015-07-29T17:53:00Z Film: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

As you may have seen in the trailers, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation sports the most dangerous stunt yet: Tom Cruise hanging from the side of a cargo plane as it takes off. No matter how silly that sounds, the new entry into the espionage franchise steeps these death-defying acts in an admirable amount of reality. Rogue Nation is the thrilling cross-section between screwball comedy and cloak-and-dagger noir; all adding up to the most fun you will have this summer in a theater. …

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Film: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

As you may have seen in the trailers, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation sports the most dangerous stunt yet: Tom Cruise hanging from the side of a cargo plane as it takes off. No matter how silly that sounds, the new entry into the espionage franchise steeps these death-defying acts in an admirable amount of reality. Rogue Nation is the thrilling cross-section between screwball comedy and cloak-and-dagger noir; all adding up to the most fun you will have this summer in a theater. You know, behind Mad Max: Fury Road, of course.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), seeming a tad aged and more fragile, is on the run after the new director of the CIA, Hunley (Alec Baldwin), shuts down the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) and deems Hunt a rogue agent. Hunt will stop at nothing to dismantle an incognito crime force filled with ex-spies, dubbed “The Syndicate.” Although Hunley is chasing him down, Hunt drags in his old pals Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) for some much-needed assistance. There’s also Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), the flirtatious British spy who can maybe be trusted? Or not? You’ll see.

Tom Cruise is one of the last actual movie stars alive. The kind that lifts even the worst movies to watchable levels because of his/her commitment to livening up the material. Rogue Nation makes a statement about his age and legend status early on in the movie. A secretary meant to give Hunt a recording from IMF headquarters utters “are the legends true about you?” Cruise only beams that million-dollar smile. Baldwin’s Hunley even warns the Prime Minister of Britain that Hunt is the “living manifestation of destiny.” Sure, these lines mine for laughs but there’s a deeper truth here that director/writer Chris McQuarrie is building upon: Cruise, despite his age, defies the lofty praise that most people give him. He is that legend.

McQuarrie, whose unfairly maligned neo-noir Jack Reacher deserved much more praise than it got, is clearly having fun directing the material. When Cruise’s Hunt isn’t risking himself to grab physical MacGuffins to further the plot, McQuarrie is showing off his noir fetishism. That means canted angles, villains in trench coats and characters’ respective profiles drenched in shadows. When the plot is at its most convoluted, he swiftly moves into another action set piece to keep the thrills at breakneck speed. There’s a certain scene at an opera house in the film that may become the most memorable of the franchise, fantastically building up tension and then pulling out the rug when you’re brain can’t handle any more waiting. Even in a car chase, McQuarrie keeps inserting awe-striking moments to deter from the norm. The Mission: Impossible franchise is auteur-driven and Rogue Nation may be the slickest one of them all.

This is where I gush over Rogue Nation’s noir and old-timey musical sensibilities. To correctly describe the sexual tension between Cruise and Ferguson, one will need to look back at Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The way Cruise and Ferguson dispatch baddies clearly stronger than them is balletic, shooting people the way Astaire and Rogers danced: cheek-to-cheek. The big baddie played by Sean Harris is almost like Peter Lorre without the bulging eyes but still with the stoically crazed stare and gravely voice. When Hunt is bleeding out and Harris’ baddie is slowly walking towards him, the canted angles arrive and the callbacks to Hitchcock and Carol Reed come to complete fruition.

That isn’t to say that things are always that foreboding and bathed in dark colors, Rogue Nation undercuts whatever references listed above with screwball humor. Jokes are made about Hunt’s height and physical prowess, people randomly fall down and the whole team acts utterly astonished at Ilsa’s fighting abilities. There’s even one long running gag that centers on chipping away at Alec Baldwin’s real-life immense vanity; his smoldering pursed-lips façade crumbling at the foot of Hunt stumbling into success to prove him wrong. Pegg, the comedic centerpiece since Mission: Impossible 3 comes back to crack jokes at Hunt almost dying too many times and to yell loudly when things are at their most ridiculous.

So there it is, Rogue Nation is a petri dish of blockbuster action strengthened by McQuarrie’s physically comedic and noir sensibilities. This coming Friday, go see it on the biggest screen possible. Also, Rebecca Ferguson is about to become a household name. Wait and see.

GRADE: A-

Review written by: Sam Cohen (Follow him on Twitter!)

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Dana Reandelar http://twitter.com/danarndlr <![CDATA[The Wonder Years Announce Record Store Acoustic Shows]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153854 2015-07-29T08:32:32Z 2015-07-29T14:00:30Z After having released the new music video for their upcoming album’s lead single last month, Philadelphia’s finest, The Wonder Years, have just announced a series of in-store acoustic shows and singings for late August/early September.

The band will be playing a number of intimate shows in different record stores across the East and West coasts in support of the aforementioned upcoming fifth studio album, entitled No Closer To Heaven, which is due out on September 4 via Hopeless Records.

Pre-orders for the album can be purchased here. You can check out a full list of tour dates …

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After having released the new music video for their upcoming album’s lead single last month, Philadelphia’s finest, The Wonder Years, have just announced a series of in-store acoustic shows and singings for late August/early September.

The band will be playing a number of intimate shows in different record stores across the East and West coasts in support of the aforementioned upcoming fifth studio album, entitled No Closer To Heaven, which is due out on September 4 via Hopeless Records.

Pre-orders for the album can be purchased here. You can check out a full list of tour dates below. In the meantime, you can catch the full band on the remaining dates of the Vans Warped Tour this summer.

twy acoustic
August 29 – Fingerprints – Long Beach, CA @ 2:30PM
August 29 – Rhino Records – Claremont, CA @ 7:30PM
August 30 – Zia Records – Las Vegas, NV @ 6:00PM
August 31 – Shuga Records – Chicago, IL @ 7:00PM
September 1 – Dearborn Music – Dearborn, MI @ 6:00PM
September 2 – Magnolia Thunderpussy – Columbus, OH @ 6:00PM
September 3 – Gallery of Sound – Wilkes-Barre, PA @ 6:00PM
September 4 – Siren Records – Doylestown, PA @ 7:00PM
September 5 – FYE – Philadelphia, PA @ 1:00PM
September 5 – Sound Garden – Baltimore, MD @ 7:00PM
September 6 – Vintage Vinyl – Fords, NJ @ 6:00PM
September 7 – Looney Tunes – West Babylon, NY @ 6:00PM
September 9 – Rough Trade Records – Brooklyn, NY @ 6:00PM
September 10 – Newbury Comics – Boston, MA @ 6:00PM

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Dana Reandelar http://twitter.com/danarndlr <![CDATA[The Weeknd Releases Music Video For “Can’t Feel My Face”]]> http://www.underthegunreview.net/?p=1153851 2015-07-29T08:29:17Z 2015-07-29T13:50:59Z Abel Tesfaye, more famously known as The Weeknd, has had a huge year thus far.

With three radio hits sitting nicely on top of the charts and a sophomore album on the way this summer, the Canadian R&B recording artist has come a long way ever since he opened up for Justin Timberlake‘s The 20/20 Experience tour in 2013, and especially since his first widely available mixtape in 2011.

Today he has released an AppleMusic exclusive video for his newest hit, “Can’t Feel My Face.” The video features Tesfaye literally unable to feel his face shortly after catching …

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Abel Tesfaye, more famously known as The Weeknd, has had a huge year thus far.

With three radio hits sitting nicely on top of the charts and a sophomore album on the way this summer, the Canadian R&B recording artist has come a long way ever since he opened up for Justin Timberlake‘s The 20/20 Experience tour in 2013, and especially since his first widely available mixtape in 2011.

Today he has released an AppleMusic exclusive video for his newest hit, “Can’t Feel My Face.” The video features Tesfaye literally unable to feel his face shortly after catching on fire while performing on stage at a bar. To the crowd’s entertainment, he continues to sing and dance. You can check out the new music video below.

The radio single is taken from Beauty And The Madness, which is due out on August 28.

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