Review: William Ryan Key – Virtue EP

William Ryan Key - Virtue

William Ryan Key has a lengthy history of songwriting that feels intensely personal. Whether it’s his solo work or his work with Yellowcard, you can tell that he’s writing from a real place. He’s never one who will shy away from the tough subjects or extremely emotional moments. That’s something to be admired. Every now and then, I’ll listen to something mainstream on the radio and at times, it doesn’t feel like there’s much personality to it.

With Virtue, William Ryan Key is focused on the intimacy of these moments that he’s writing about. You can tell just with the lyrics that these songs really mean something to him. Even when the title track builds up to a full band sound, it doesn’t look the personal aspect to it and that’s something I love about the EP.

Earlier in the year, William Ryan Key released Thirteen and I’m glad he went with two EP releases versus one LP. He’s able to focus on specific sounds for each one and do something a little different. Both are enjoyable, but not necessarily for the same exact reasons, which is great. It gives you different flavors of what he can do as a solo artist and still keeps the songwriting as the core focus.

As a sucker for acoustic songs, I loved “Downtown (Up North)” the first time I heard it. It starts with just the acoustic guitar and builds up to a more filled out sound, but not necessarily that full band sound that we hear in “Virtue.” The string section is a pleasant addition as the song goes on and it’s very reminiscent of Yellowcard’s ballads.

The closing track, “No More, No Less,” is the most experimental track on the EP, but it ends it with a bang. It has an intensity that the other songs don’t really have and I’m all for it. The musicianship on it is still enjoyable and it brings you a little surprise to close things out.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, go give this EP a listen (and Thirteen, too). You can also buy a copy on Amazon if you’re interested. I highly recommend this as it’s one of my favorite EPs of the year.

Playlist: A Page Unturned Shares Top LA Bands

A Page Unturned

A Page Unturned took some time to pick out their favorite LA bands and share them with us. Take a look and listen to their selections below.

Billie Eilish – “bellyache”

She has an incredible voice and such a cool persona. Always brings so much energy to the stage and puts no boundaries on her genre or creativity. – Ryan

I’m Her Own Words – “Cut & Dry”

My friend Daisuke showed me these guys in 2015 and I’ve been a fan since. I just dig their sound. – Ryan

NOFX – “Linoleum”

Who doesn’t like NOFX? They’re the definition of punk and continue to put out music today after almost 30 years. They don’t care if anyone likes it and that’s what punk rock is all about. – Ryan

Hoobastank – “Just One”

It’s not too much to say they made a big wave for Emo. The melodies are catchy and their music will keep being the standard for Emo music.

Jack’s Mannequin – “Spinning”

The singer Andrew was diagnosed in Leukemia in 2005. They released 2nd album after his recovery and the sound always told me how strong we all are and how amazing our life is. – Yoshihiro

Linkin Park – “Numb”

Nothing to say, they’re legends in long rock music history. Their music will carry on till the end of time. – Yoshihiro

Every Other Year – “One Day”

We were on the same bill as them at one of our shows recently and we thought they were a really good band. Brought a lot of energy and had really good tunes.

The Dickies – “Stukas Over Disneyland”

One of those classic punk bands from the 70’s and 80’s that my Dad showed me. Very catchy vocal melodies, intricate guitar riffs and some very funny songs. – Damon

Gardenside – “Blind”

A band from LA that a friend of my told me to check out on Spotify and I thought they were great! Hopefully we’ll get to be on the same bill as them one of these days. – Damon

Yellowcard – “Ocean Avenue”

One of those bands that we grew up listening to from our genre. They were an overall great band with catchy tunes and the violinist is awesome! – Damon

Playlist: Come Clean Share Top 10 Halloween Songs

Come Clean

Rob Hendley of Come Clean shared his top 10 Halloween songs. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit with Halloween just days away now. Check out the song selections.

John Carpenter – “Halloween Theme”
Halloween is my favorite Halloween movie. I used to be pretty afraid of Michael Meyers as a kid, but I still watched it anyway and I still watch the movies around Halloween, lonely tradition of mine I suppose.

Bobby Pickett- “Monster Mash”
I’ve always liked this song for as long as i can remember. I think most of us probably do and I don’t think I need to be too descript on why it makes my Halloween list. For some reason I have a very strong memory of hearing this song, walking through Lowe’s Hardware, and seeing their big inflated Halloween decorations display.

Alkaline Trio – “We’ve Had Enough”
I think Alkaline Trio will always be my #1 fall time band. They are one of my favorite bands ever and I love how they combine poppier punk music with darker, horror style imagery. Their imagery alone takes me straight to a Halloween feel every time.

My Chemical Romance – “Thank You for the Venom”
One of the little bit heavier hitting tracks from Three Cheers, I got into them around Halloween when i was a freshman in high school. I got a burnt copy from a friend, drew all over it, and walked around school listening to this track a lot through that period.

Beloved – “Into Your Arms”
This song just sounds like fall to me and fall may as well just be Halloween. I’m not sure why, but I remember playing this song all the time in my room, riding bikes in my driveway with it being sunny outside and not quite chilly but the leaves are piling up in the yard.

Set Your Goals – “Mutiny!”
I discovered Set Your Goals in high school. It was fall, around Halloween, and i had gotten a Mutiny! hoodie from a friend that I wore religiously, that paired with the “Mutiny!” music video where they dress up like land pirates and remembering specifically wearing that hoodie to explore some urban legend haunted spots around home definitely reminds me of Halloween.

Goalkeeper – “Nothing At All”
This is the newest track from some of our good friends in Philly. As we approach Halloween this year, I’ve been jamming this alot lately and I’m sure when i hear it in the future it will take me back to fall times and Halloween.

Mac Miller – “Life Ain’t Easy”
I used to work at a shop installing leather interior in cars. I worked beside a friend who got me into Mac Miller around fall/Halloween a few years ago. This song always stuck with me as an inspiration to keep pushing through hard times and reminds me of cold falls and needing to shut the bay doors so we could feel our hands.

Handguns – “Porch Light”
This is a song I would frequently listen to and I think i discovered it around Halloween, it reminds me of my old job mowing on a farm and feeling the cold air burn my hands and face as I mowed in the early mornings.

Modern Baseball – “Your Graduation”
I don’t remember when I discovered MoBo but the lonely halloween party footage from the music video is the only image I see in my head when I hear this song.

Interview: Deal Casino Talk Upcoming Album

Deal Casino
Photo credit: Ciara Perrone

Deal Casino will release a new album this November. The band took some time to talk to us about LLC, Spotify playlists, and more. Check out the interview below.

With LLC coming out in November, what has been your main focus during this album cycle?

We have really just been focusing on making sure the songs are sounding good for live shows and making as many music videos as possible before we leave for this tour in November. There are a lot more parts to play and remember than our music prior to this record so we have spent a fair amount of time coming up with ways to get all the sounds to come across properly live. We did a lot of experimenting in the studio, and everything we do on stage happens completely live, we don’t use any tracks or anything, so we’ve just been figuring out how to re-create the sounds.

Is the plan to stay independent or is the band looking to attract some attention from record labels?

Right now we are figuring out how to grow and sustain this band as much as possible before signing to a label. Obviously, it would be great to have help, but we don’t really care either way. Signing a record deal seems like it would be great if the label really believes in your vision and works with you on it, but if they don’t then it wouldn’t matter at all.  If the situation comes along and it makes sense, then yeah, I guess we would consider something like that. If not, we just want to be able to write and record music and play it live. We write everything ourselves, we’ve got a great producer and engineer, a graphic designer who works with us on art, a great friend who is a brilliant photographer, a lighting designer, a crazy genius video director. They’re all in Asbury and they all do some of the same things a label would help with anyway, so we are a pretty self-sufficient operation at the moment.

“Happy People” made its way onto Spotify’s License to Chill playlist. What was your reaction when you found out?

We were really surprised and excited because getting on a playlist is the best way to get your music heard if you’re a band that no one really knows about, so we were more than thrilled to wake up one day and see our song on there. Spotify has been crazy supportive of us. We put out our first record and the song “Red Balloon” ended up on 3 huge playlists. That’s been a big deal for us. We’re extremely grateful for their support, and when you see your song on a playlist a lot of people listen to sandwiched between Foster the People and Tame Impala, it’s just humbling and kind of scary.

As a band from Asbury Park, NJ, do you feel really engrained in the local scene around there?

Asbury has an awesome music scene with a ton of really talented artists and when we first moved here, that was an essential part of us being able to play some shows right away. There are a dozen venues to perform at and even more bands to play with on the same bill so we definitely feel at home when we play among friends. We were really lucky to show up here at a time when this town was starting a renaissance. There’s so much happening here and it feels like a real community.

Do you have a favorite hometown venue to play?

There’s a bunch of amazing spots. We sold out the Stone Pony (the most legendary Asbury club) and House of Independents (one of the best new clubs) in the past two years, and we’ve played a lot of other great shows in great rooms. But I would say that Asbury Park Yacht Club is our favorite. It’s a really small bar that’s right on the boardwalk. The whole back wall is open so you can walk from the beach directly up to the bar. We have done several residencies there where we played sometimes twice a week every week for three months at a time so we have a ton of love for the staff and the venue itself. It’s just this little bar and we’ve just had so much fun doing these crazy sets there and it would be packed out. They also let you play as loud as you want!

What is the band currently doing to gear up for the release and the tour in November?

We have just been trying to get the songs and videos as prepared for a proper release, but other than that, we are literally broke because we have spent all of our money on road cases. We have never needed them before this tour, but we are having fun and feeling cool stenciling our band name on them.

Has the band started making plans for 2019 yet or are you taking it one day at a time right now?

We have already started writing songs and talking about where we want to make the next record with our producer, Erik Kase Romero. We’ve been playing these new songs for a while so naturally we are just trying to think of what’s next. Someone even mentioned a small string section so it’s already getting a little out of hand, but it should be interesting. In the near future, we’ll probably release some more stuff related to the new album early next year, and hopefully have a couple new songs out by next spring.

Thanks for your time! Where is the best place to keep up with Deal Casino?

Thank you for having us! I would say Instagram (@dealcasino_) and/or our website and our Youtube and Spotify and Apple Music.