Blink 182 trudges on without Tom DeLonge

26. March 2015 08:56 by Julie Merar in Music   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()


While the feud within founding members of Blink 182 has divided fans, the band continues to carry on without Tom DeLonge. DeLonge was one of the central songwriting figures within Blink 182, serving as guitarist and vocalist while writing some of the band's well known hits such as "All The Small Things" and "Always." But recent disagreements and turmoil between DeLonge and other members Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker had ultimately led to a lineup change and a bitter taste between the two parties.

A new member
While the absence of DeLonge has some fans at odds, the replacement Hoppus and Barker found is certainly not a downgrade. The band summoned the talents of Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio to fill in for DeLonge's current absence, and Blink 182 recently played its first show with Skiba at the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood on March 18, 2015.

Those in attendance were treated to an hour or relentless punk and pop rock, as the band cranked out hits from all over its catalog, such as "Dammit," "All The Small Things" and "I Miss You." Drummer Travis Barker spoke to Billboard about the transition of band practice and overall fan reception after the performance with Skiba.

"Oh, it was so fun because you're in a practice room for four weeks and I know how dope it sounds and I know how good the vibe is going, but no one else does," Barker said in an interview with Billboard. "Fans pretty much feel the same way. In San Diego during our encore, kids were chanting 'Skiba, Skiba.' It was awesome. I'm glad we did them too because this is a lot of people just to walk out in front of for the first time."

New album and tour?
The show with Skiba looks like it could just be the beginning of something new for the band, as the members have recently hinted that they are currently writing new songs for their next album, which they hope to begin working on later this year. Blink 182 also stated in recent interviews that it plans on touring alongside fellow rockers A Day To Remember later on in 2015. As for DeLonge, he has recently released a solo, acoustic single titled "The Invisible Parade," and plans to focus on music with his other band Angels & Airwaves.

J. Cole extends Forest Hills Drive tour

9. March 2015 10:35 by Julie Merar in Music , Tour News  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()


Hiphop artist J. Cole has already proven to be rather busy in 2015. Besides palling around with NASCAR race car driver and fellow North Carolina native Dale Earnhart Jr. for the cover of ESPN Magazine, Cole has been traveling on the first leg of the Forest Hills Drive tour to support his most recent album. Cole first announced a "homecoming" tour in which he'd be playing smaller venues across the U.S., specifically near his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Now, Cole has revealed a second and third leg of shows to be played in larger arenas. 

The Forest Hills Drive tour 
J. Cole's third studio album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, has solidified him as one of the most exciting artists in contemporary hiphop. After wrapping up the "homecoming" phase of his tour, the talented emcee will then be going to Europe for a handful of shows in a phase designated as "the journey." While Cole is abroad he has scheduled performances in major cities such as Stockholm, Glasgow, Berlin, Paris and Zurich, before wrapping up this phase in London. Rapper Pusha T and R & B singer Jhene Aiko are slated to support Cole during his time in Europe.

Cole will then be returning to the U.S. to round out the tour at a number of larger arenas and amphitheaters. With an awesome cast of artists including Big Sean, YG and Jeremih, Cole's "Hollywood" phase is sure to be one of the best live hiphop lineups of 2015. Cole is scheduled to play numerous major cities include Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Boston and Dallas. The Music Times notes that not every artist will be present for every date, so fans should double check the roster prior to purchasing tickets.

Interestingly enough, 2014 Forest Hills Drive is not a reference to the year, but in fact the address in Fayetteville at which Cole grew up. The album has gained critical acclaim for its conceptual intelligence and lack of marketing ploys. Cole's third album has no feature artists and is not propelled by radio-friendly singles. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is profoundly personal and introspective, but also nods to a number of Cole's influences. Overall, this juxtaposition creates an album that is notably free of gimmicks and proves Cole's adept skills are a lyricist, beat-maker and producer.

Imagine Dragons debuts atop Billboard 200

7. March 2015 08:32 by Julie Merar in Music   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()


The Las Vegas-based quartet Imagine Dragons received quite a treat this week as the band's sophomore studio album debuted in the No. 1 position of the Billboard 200. Imagine Dragon's new release, titled Smoke + Mirrors, was fueled by the hit single "I Bet My Life," which has been featured in advertisements by both Jeep and Sprite. With approximately 195,000 units moved in its first week, according to Billboard, the band edged out rapper Drake, who released a surprise album, If You're Reading This, It's Too Late. 

Ongoing success 
The fact that Imagine Dragons debuted at the pop chart's apex should hardly be a surprise considering the band's breakout album, Night Visions, still resides on the Billboard 200 list. Billboard notes that the freshman studio record has stayed on the chart for 129 straight weeks and only faltered out of the top 100 for two weeks overall. Night Visions produced three singles that garnered significant radio play: "Demons," "It's Time" and "Radioactive." In fact, according to the L.A. Times, "Radioactive" boasts the longest run ever on the Billboard Top 100, remaining there for a staggering 87 weeks. All in all, the album has sold more than 2.5 million records worldwide. 

With this success, coupled by the popularity of "I Bet My Life," Imagine Dragons has well-proven its commercial appeal. Smoke + Mirrors was released on Feb. 17, 2015 by KIDinaKORNER/Interscope Records. During the week of the album's release, it was the only debut to break the Billboard top 10. Smoke + Mirrors is full of energy, which likely has contributed to the band's commercial success among its pop contemporaries. The fast-paced, drum-thudding bravado of such music gives Imagine Dragons a chance to stand next to the commercial success of thriving genres such as rap and EDM. 

Imagine Dragons goes on tour 
The quartet will spend much of 2015 touring the world to support Smoke + Mirrors, with dates scheduled up until around Thanksgiving of this year. Imagine Dragons kicks off in the U.S., before playing several shows in South and Central America. The band will then be returning to the U.S. in spring to do a leg of arena shows beginning on the West Coast. In October 2015, Imagine Dragons has several shows scheduled in Germany and then will travel around the rest of Europe.

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