New A Life of Science Video Blog

Here's James and Scott in a new A Life of Science Video Blog, which chronicles their progress on the new A Life of Science records.

For more information about A Life of Science, check out www.ALOS.us .


Warped Tour 2010

Warped Tour in Phoenix, Arizona isn't for the light-hearted. The date tends to be in July every year with temperatures topping 110 degrees for as long as I can remember. Heat strokes, faintings, etc tend to happen in pretty large numbers. Needless to say, Warped Tour is no joke in the Phx.

The day started off with Confide, whom I was familiar with mainly because of their posthardcore cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights." The group threw down fairly well, though the screams seemed to be missing a little of of the glossy sheen that can be created in the studio. But still, good set.


Next was Enter Shikari, whom I listen to quite a bit but have never seen live. I surely was not disappointed. They brought the fire. In addition to busting out some favorites from "Take to the Skies" and "Common Dread," the show was wildly entertaining. It was obvious that these guys worked on perfecting stage presence as much as performance. Every member of the band, in perfect harmony, participated in planned theatrical events, everything from the standard "jump off the speaker at the same time" bit to falling over dead at the same time to end a song. The band spent plenty of time in the crowd as well, with the lead vocalist stretching his microphone chord to the limits as he commanded the crowd like an orchestra conductor. The guitarist also did a particularly stunning move.. balancing the guitar on his nose upside down from the tip of the neck whilst standing atop the tallest speaker. Bravo, sirs. Best act of the day.

Enter Shikari

Next came Pierce the Veil, who mixed old tracks and new while climbing across their multi-tiered stage. It's not enough to be a musician at Warped these days, you must be an expert hiker as well to reach heights like the tops of amps and speakers while carrying and playing your axe to obtain the most epic of poses. Fun set.

Pierce the Veil

Alesana is always a fun time with lots of energy. I've always enjoyed the yin and yang relationship of the band's singer/guitarist and their screamer. The singer/guitarist strikes me as the kind of guy who would have been the drama class / literary type in High School while their hulking screamer was probably on the offensive line of the Varsity football team. Who knows, maybe their dreams fell short after graduation and they decided to form a screamo band. Either way, the spirit of 80's metal and modern emocore collide in great ways when Alesana takes the stage. The screamer's between-song-banter is generally hilarious as well.


Closure in Moscow has a few gems hidden on their otherwise mediocre debut album, and I was hoping to catch one of those when I did a drive-by of their set. No dice. Homeboy on lead vocals was a little hard to watch as well. I've heard of skinny jeans, but this dude was straight up wearing leggings and rubbing up on the mic stand while sporting a silvery shiny women's blouse... in 115 degree heat. Too bad cause they've got some great tracks on their album.

Closure in Moscow

Breathe Carolina was a good break from the chugs and breakdowns that are industry-standard at Warped (although they do sport a slight few mild chugs and breakdowns every now and then, to keep up with code of course.) It was a dance party where thousands of kids could be found jumping up and down frantically, ignoring the fierce desert conditions. Homie's vocals sounded pretty great too.

Breathe Carolina

Only got to see a little bit of Emarosa. They were in the tiny Ernie Ball stage and they started late, while being up against scene buzz band Attack Attack! in time slots, no doubt shrinking their crowd. Jonny Craig can definitely throw down, but crowd morale dipped a bit after he talked about how he hated Arizona.


I'll admit to liking Attack Attack's music. It is a hodge-podge of all sounds currently acceptable in the "scene." Chugs. Screams. Breakdowns. Big, poppy auto-tuned choruses. Hip hop interludes. Dance parties? Yep. All of the above. One minute, the crowd was thrashing around in a circle-pit as the lead screamer thrust his husky self across the stage. Next minute, the crowd was jumping up and down in a frenzy as the electro-dance segments kicked into gear. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't have a great time. Very backing track heavy, but nobody seemed to notice or care. Too busy getting crazy.

Attack Attack!

That's about where we wrapped up the day to go hang out with friends at the bar with cooling fans, misters, etc. Absent from the days festivities were Bring Me the Horizon and The Word Alive. Word was Oli Sykes from BMTH lost his voice... I guess that's what happens when you take your vocal chords through a cheese grater of screaming night after night.

Fantastic times at Warped. Hopefully A Life of Science can get on the lineup next year. Cross your fingers, friends.



It's a jungle out there in the music world, so I try to be a good musical guinea pig for anyone that will listen. My tastes are varied. My thirst is unquenchable. Here's a few from the vault that I'd like to take the time to analyze.

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

It seems like an eternity since Broken Social Scene released "Windsurfing Nation" in 2005. Sure, we got the BSS Presents series. Both the Kevin Drew fronted BSS effort and Brendan Canning fronted BSS effort had their moments. After all, the core members have remained basically the same throughout. But, apparently, once every 5 years, the Canadian collective will gather all their soldiers, from the farthest reaches of the world, to get together to work on an album.

Since the BSS supergroup's inception, nearly all members have experienced some success. Feist might have been the first to blow up, landing some monstrously huge licensing deals. Metric reached a similar tier of success with their most recent album as well. Even Broken Social Scene itself has gathered an ever-increasing fan base.

So the stage is set for BSS for an epic release after 5 years of waiting. Do they deliver? Pretty much. The classic guitar-army sound is back, with the wall of guitars sounding sharp as ever. The band's solid foundation remains, and the album meanders along at just the right pace, showcasing the many faces of BSS. Nearly everyone has their moment. There's fantastic Kevin Drew songs ("World Sick") and Brendan Canning numbers ("Water in Hell"), of course, but they are accompanied by songs driven by the others as well. Apostle of Hustle get their presence in "Art House Director." Emily Haines (from Metric) gets her soft ballad, "Sentimental X's", per BSS protocol.

The band is back together again, and you can sense the joy and fun of old friends seeping from the record. Makes you feel good all over.

Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise

Circa Survive is sitting in a pretty good spot right now. Their first album, Juturna, turned some heads and got them a pretty big cult following. Their second album, On Letting Go, got them indie famous and able to headline their own tours. Their music has inspired more than a few copy cat bands with soaring Anthony Green style vocals (Tides of Man, Broadway). Now, they have a captive audience ready for a new album.

So we have Blue Sky Noise. From the first song, "Strange Terrain," its clear that we're dealing with a new and distinct vibe. The sound seems focused with an ear for pop sensibilities. Anthony sounds immaculate of course. A new style of falsetto background vocals is layered behind the chorus. The production is smooth and glossy.

The second song, single "Get Out," finds the band reaching for a new type of pop... A head-bobbing, guitar-driven style with fierce vocals. Green seems to push his voice to new heights on this song, not afraid to cause some damage. The screams don't sound screamo. They are on a high register not many screamers dare enter. Dude's got pipes.

After that, Blue Sky Noise heads to familiar territory, semi-prog atmospheric (if at times boring) rock. Some of the songs (Frozen Creek) just don't have the immediacy of the band's former work, and wander along at a slow pace. Some of the vocal work seems like it is no longer catered towards Anthony himself, but more towards what he thinks his primary audience (teenage girls) wants to hear. Lines like "I fell apart in your arms for the last time and I felt free to do what I want because of the things you told me" sound forced to me. It sometimes feels like a string of generic lines pasted together, the sum of which don't seem to say anything of importance. Don't get me wrong, there's some nice moments ("Dyed in the Wool") mixed in. The guys still got chops, but they've traded in Juturna's razor-sharp edge for a happier, milder sound.

The band seems to have found their niche. Thousands of teenage girls at Warped Tour will sing along every word with tears streaming down their faces this summer. Even though Circa Survive isn't entirely my cup of tea these days, I can't help but respect the position they've gotten themselves into.

Miike Snow - Miike Snow

Miike Snow is riiding the hype wave.

As the world has had a year to play out Passion Pit, a void is starting to open up in summer playlists far and wide. Welcome, Miike Snow. I had heard opener and single "Animal" a bit earlier this year as it crept across the blogosphere. I dug it. Then I got to see Miike Snow at Coachella. They managed to keep their smooth electronic sound crisp in a live setting with 5 live band members (in white "Phantom of the Opera masks"). I was impressed.

Miike Snow's debut album, Miike Snow, is pretty darn good overall. Standouts like "Sylvia" showcase the dark and brooding styles the band can whip out at times. The production is spot on. Songs like "Black and Blue" and "Cult Logic" will make their mark on the Summer playlists, perfect successors to the Passion Pit falsetto space-disco sound. However, not every song is a winner ("A Horse is Not a Home"). But, hey. Not a bad debut at all. Kudos, Miike.

The Ruby Suns - Fight Softly

I was privileged enough to see The Ruby Suns a few years back at a tiny club in Phoenix called Modified Arts. The New Zealand 3-piece looked like they belonged around a beach campfire down under, donning bright colors and sunny smiles. Their songs sounded exactly how they looked... Breezy, tropical, fun. The electronics used only highlight the organic sounds used.

The band's new album, Fight Softly, takes the sunny tropical elements from the first release, Sea Lion, and strips them down to a dancier, electronic base. The drums seem to be exclusively electronic, although it sounds as though some live congas were used. The band's lead, Ryan McPhun, is now the only one singing.

All in all, I really enjoy the album. It makes me feel like I'm on a beach thousands of miles away with a Pina Colada in my hand. The album's standouts like "Cinco" and "Dusty Fruit" are formidable conga line worthy beach classics. Even the lesser tracks on the album that suffer from being too trancey and hypnotic "Two Humans," are still enjoyable. Pretty irresistable album.



Due to some unforeseen complications, I was only able to make it to Coachella for Sunday, but I definitely packed in all the acts I could. All and all, Sunday was one of the better days on paper anyway. Coachella is a festival of sound and lights unlike any other. Here's what I saw:

The first act I caught was Local Natives. Their debut effort, Gorilla Manor, has definitely grown on me since my first spin with it. I knew they would be something special live, but they definitely surpassed my expections. They played in one of the tents and had a pretty good crowd for that time of afternoon, with great crowd reactions. The fans seemed to feed off their crisp harmonies, which echoed across the tent smooth as silk. The band members definitely had a "I can't believe we're playing Coachella, this has been a dream of ours" moment, and damn near gave me goosebumps in 95 degree heat.

After that, we rolled down to Deerhunter on the mainstage. It was interesting seeing them in the light of day (I had only seen them once in a small club), their form of music seems like it would benefit from the cloak of night. But, surprisingly, the summer sunshine seemed to give them a surfier vibe I hadn't picked up on before. The set's highlight came when Lockett's guitar was malfunctioning and frontman Bradford Cox filled in time with an impromptu acoustic ditty about Coachella and the probability of various children being conceived as a result. Classic.

The choice between Julian Casablancas (from the Strokes) and Jonsi (from Sigur Ros) was tough, but the group went with Julian. He kept up his typical machismo and swagger by donning sunglasses and a leather jacket (in the desert.) Only Julian could make it look like it wasn't even contrived. Dude was probably born in a leather jacket. The set wasn't disappointing. His effortless croon kept things strutting along as they should. Fun. Plus they did a Strokes cover of "Hard to Explain" that rocked. Hard.

Miike Snow. Miike Snow's album has some killer tracks on it. I wondered how the band would present itself live and how electronic the setup would be. Turns out, they perform as a 5 piece live band (with some backing tracks). They really sounded clean and looked sharp. They were wearing white "phantom of the opera" type masks. Classy.

Phoenix. I've seen Phoenix before so I know they can throw down live. There crowd was absolutely massive. I mean huge, the biggest I saw all day (besides Gorillaz). The crowd seemed to know a ton of lyrics and the band seemed to be having the time of their lives. Total victory.

Pavement. Phoenix pretty much jacked Pavement's crowd. I guess even an epic reunion like that can't pull the people from a hype machine like Phoenix. I've always heard that Pavement was never a festival band, and I kind of get it now. Their brand of quirky indie songs are best enjoyed alone in your room as opposed to a big outdoor venue. But still, mad respect for Pavement.

I went to the festival with some friends that are great fans of electronic dance music (EDM.) Although this isn't my particular cup o' tea, I will say that I appreciate electronic sounds and hey, lets face it, sometimes dance music is flat out fun. The Sahara Tent at Coachella is about as fun of a venue for such a thing as you can imagine. A massive sound system that wraps the whole tent. A stage set with lighting rigs beyond comprehension. As the sun was setting, it was time to move to the dance tent.

Orbital put on a solid set. Solid beats. Solid lighting / visual stage production. Then came Plastikman. I guess this guy doesn't really do this performance too often and it was a highly anticipated show that cost many thousand dollars to put on. Whatever Coachella paid for this act, it was well worth it. The DJ was surrounded by a cylinder that covered his entire booth. The cylinder was lit with LCD type screens (or projections) that were not unlike a Winamp "Visualizer"... crazy psychedelic fractal-type images that seemed to ebb and flow with the music's every bend. The images never formed any real object, only colors, lines, swirls and shapes that were like an extension of the music, fascinatingly beautiful and diverse, morphing into different formations for each part / song. Some loonies were passing out kaleidoscopic glasses to everyone in sight for the show (Were they hired by Plastikman to do this as part of the experience? I'll never know.) Regardless, the result was unlike anything I've experienced. A masterful combination of sound, visual and kaleidoscopic madness. I now think I understand this wave of culture, this EDM experience. The EDM regulars seemed to understand how significant this performance was. They deployed thousands of glowsticks and formed a mound of them in the center of the crowd, swimming through them in delight. God bless Coachella. Haven for the crazies.

Thom Yorke. Of course it was amazing. It was Thom Yorke. Couldn't really get up too close cause it was massively populated, but this minimal techno low-key set was very calming after the intensity of the Sahara Tent.

We closed the night out with Gorillaz. It was the final act of the festival and was unrivaled by other performances at the end of the night, so I can't even imagine how many people stood before the great LCD screen that covered the entire Coachella mainstage for this monstrously huge production. Lord knows how much it cost to put on this show. The animations flowed through the entire set, giving the audience constant eye candy for the entire hour and a half set. Gorillaz has never been my thing, but I can honestly say that I was entertained and pleased throughout the duration. It would be tough to hate on.

Gotta make it all three days next year. It's an experience unlike any other. Yayyy Coachella.


Let's Catch Up

Things have been busy here at A Life of Science camp. Hard at work on our sophomore album, the sequel to The Apneist. The storyline picks up right where the last one left off. The demos we're recording are starting to come together, so I'm sure it won't be long til we hit the studio to record. Feeling great about the whole thing.

In other Apneist-related news, The Apneist novel is nearing completion. We are completing our edits. More news on that to come. As far as the comic book side of the project, our new artist is hard at work on the next chapter, The Apneist Issue #1. Lots of video projects in the works as well. Stay tuned.

The band got together to play some shows over the weekend. We had a venue show on Friday night. It was our first show in nearly 6 months! It felt great. Then on Saturday we played at Suitefest music festival by ASU campus. Great turnout and great show altogether. We played with What Laura Says, Black Carl, The Wiley One, Katastro and Snake Snake Snakes. The pool party was legit too. Here's a few pics:

A Life of Science

A Life of Science

Black Carl

What Laura Says

A Life of Science

We will be heading out to Coachella this weekend to unwind and enjoy life. I'm really amped on the whole thing. Here's my highlights for each day:

1. Grizzly Bear
2. Ra Ra Riot
3. Passion Pit

1. Camera Obscura
2. Hot Chip
3. Dirty Projectors

1. PAVEMENT!!!!!
2. Julian Casablancas
3. Thom Yorke

It's gonna be a time. I'll see you all out there!


Hot Bizness

Let's start off today with some nice footage from Juan's Basement. For those that are unfamiliar, Juan's Basement is a show where a dude (in Chicago, I think) invites bands to stop by his house on their way through town to record a performance and chew the fat for a while. There's been some pretty rad guests in the past, including No Age, Liars, Broken Social Scene and The Walkmen, just to name a few. This week, Juan had the boys from Vampire Weekend over for a jamboree.

I'd also like to share this video from one of my favorites, Islands. Their third release, Vapours, was not my favorite of their records (even though it is amazing), but I am a faithful Nick Diamonds fan and will give a hearty chance to anything he releases. Not sure how, but they got budding film star Michael Cera (Superbad, Juno) to star in the video, stoned to the gills on LSD. I find this concept very amusing. You might too.

In case you haven't noticed. It's video day :) Here's an oldie but goodie. I chose it because the music and animation are equally innovative and perfectly synced. I'm also a huge fan of the lyrics and message. "Our work makes pretty little homes. Agenda suicide. The drones work hard before they die." None of us want to lie on our deathbed wondering why we worked like stiffs for our whole lives and didn't stop to smell the flowers. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.

The next video is from my boy Bradford Cox from the band, Deerhunter. His melodies are always intriguing, his lyrics are always dark, and his songs are always expressive and moody. He operates under the name Atlas Sound when working solo (or with musicians other than the Deerhunter members). I was actually a fan of the last Atlas Sound record... pretty solid all the way through. This clip is from Pitchfork's "Surveillance" series, which combines intimate performance footage with random ass surveillance clips. In the clip, Bradford is on his own with a Line 6 looping pedal, throwing down. It's amazing what one man and his pedals can create.

I'll check back soon. My New Years resolution was to blog more :P



A New Life

Hello all. Just wanted to check in and let everyone know whats new and awesome in the world of A Life of Science.

We have been hard at work on the follow up to The Apneist. Though we can't reveal the title of the new project just yet, I can tell you that it picks up right where The Apneist 1 left off.

The story for the new project is complete. It finds Jon Tate in a whole new set of adventures. The music side of things is coming along nicely. Almost all of the lyrics have been completed, which of course follow the story. The songs are all picked out and are currently being hammered and chiseled into well-manicured busts, 12 in total. It seems as if this album will have a more tranquil feel, but there will still be moments of heavy-handed rock to express the heavier story elements. There might even be some outright pop and dance moments as well if we are feeling saucy. And we very well may be.

The holidays were lovely and relaxing. Now its back to business. We are currently putting together a 2010 touring and Comicon schedule, so we might just end up in a town near you for an evening of delight. Cross your fingers.

As far as culture, I've been trying to pick up some new music whenever possible....

The new Vampire Weekend, Contra, has been the listen of the week. It's great to see the group integrate more electronics into their skeletal sound a la Rostam's side project, Discovery. The melodies are still catchy as ever. Still plenty of Paul Simon influence. Tough to resist the charms of V Dub. Some standouts are "White Sky," the galloping electronic beauty, which they've been playing live for some time now, as well as "California English," a wound-up schizo-pop song that finds Ezra speedily barking through some heavy voice correction. "Diplomat's Son" is also worth mentioning. It is the most epic ballad on the record using strings and voice loops to croon along at just the right pace.

It is also worth noting that Animal Collective have kept their streak of relevant releases with the Fall Be Kind EP. The first track,"Graze," was instantly familiar. I had listened to it a few times on a two year old live NPR performance from back in the day. It's amazing to think that they're playing their new material out years before it appears on albums. I guess that gives them time to hash out any inconsistencies or flaws in a hands-on way before it hits record. Brilliant. The other track that really caught my ear was "What Would I Want Sky," a sprawling song suite that is downright gorgeous. The last three songs are spacey and characteristic of Animal Collective B Sides. Def worth the listen though. These lads can do no wrong in my book. They've had me since Sung Tongs.

I also picked out some Pitchfork darlings for listening. The Real Estate album is very soothing. I like to have it on as backdrop music because it makes me feel like I'm in the countryside laying in tall tall grass with a glass of sweet tea in my hand. Nothing mind-blowing here, just some lush guitar landscapes and folksy flavor that let you drift away as you zone out on your computer.

I've also been digesting the Bear in Heaven album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth (great album name, by the way haha!) It's dark and brooding with some highly psychedelic atmospheric moments. It's downright chilling/haunting at times, so you gotta pick out the right moment to give it a spin... When you're feeling, uhh... haunted?

That's all for now. Be back soon.