Drake Bell: Ready Steady Go!

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Ready Steady Go! is a throwback to the past, and while many former teen stars would not be able to pull it off convincingly, Drake Bell does. Getting his first taste of stardom on Home Improvement in the 1990’s, it wasn’t until the 2000’s when he became a hit with teen audiences on the Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh. While he still does the occasional acting, he has also tried his hand at music. While his 2006 debut album It’s Only Time had more pop inspired songs, on Ready Steady Go! Drake has become a full fledged rocker, playing the music of generations past and doing it well. While Bell has stated that he has “always been fascinated by generations that he did not get to experience”, the twenty-seven year old has also taken on a 1950’s look, fully embracing the style of his parents and grandparent’s generation.

The album’s opening track “Sunny Afternoon” has an easygoing feel with a jazzy piano part and bold vocals. Opening with the lines “the tax mans taking all my dough, and left me in my stately home” Drake hints at the adult problems that he is now facing, due to filing for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Though filing for bankruptcy is not the stuff of teenagers, the opening line represents a more adult Drake who is looking for a more experienced crowd as he gets further away from adolescence. “Sunny Afternoon” was most likely placed as an opening track to pull people in, no matter their age, and that is exactly what it does. We are reminded of music of decades come and gone, which is also helped by Bell’s perfectly gelled 50’s style hair. “Bitchcraft” pulls us even further into old times, as the song starts off with Bell’s vocals and a drum beat reminiscent of the swing era. The top-tapping chorus will be a hard one to forget, with the lyrics “I’m done with all your bitchcraft/I gotta get my soul back/We’ve played this game so long /I’m not sure that it will come back/I’m not trying to make you feel bad/But baby I just can’t live with all your bitchcraft.” The guitar solo that follows is not something you would except to hear on a Drake Bell album. It’s intricate, tight, and catchy sound is something that you would expect to hear from a performer who is much more seasoned. We are once again reminded that Drake is wise beyond his years whether it be in mind, looks, or music.

“It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me” has less edge with a Beach Boys feel. Despite not having the same hip swinging vibe of past songs, the musical train that Bell is on is moving steadily, and it feels like Beach Boys front man Brian Wilson would be proud of Bell’s tribute. “Give Me A Little More Time” will give fans something to swoon over, as it is the albums second slow song and a perfect closing number. With backing vocals that sound like the Jordanaires, the vocal group that backed the majority of Elvis’s records, Drake performs with purpose and confidence, making it a great ballad that doesn’t sound sappy, which is great since its coming from a former teen television star.
Ready Steady Go! is a record that breaks down barriers and any preconceived notions about what a children’s television star is capable of doing and is a sign that stars that have taken the same path as Bell should take more risks.

Neon Trees: Pop Psychology

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Utah pop band Neon Trees make good pop music, the kind that makes your head bob and your body sway in time to the tight beat that drummer Elaine Bradley plays throughout their new record Pop Psychology. As catchy as it is, by the end of it you wonder how long the band can sustain their bubbly style of music and if it will ever stay relevant. Pop Psychology does not include any risks on the music front, but lyrically it sounds like front man Tyler Glenn wanted to take some risks, by putting his skeletons out in the open. Glenn talks openly on Pop Psychology about coming out as gay, something that is painful and nerve wracking for anyone considering it, but especially for those who come from a conservative environment such as Utah. The band rose to fame quickly after opening for The Killers on several North American tour dates. They soon signed to Mercury Records and released their first record Habits in 2010. In 2012, they released their sophomore album Picture Show.

The albums first track “Love In The 21’st Century” about a girl who fails to call or text after you go out on a few dates, is most likely an autobiographical song about Glenn keeping his sexuality bottled up inside. Glenn says that “this is probably love in the 21’st century” when describing this generation’s lack of in person communication. While Glenn is right about today’s technology, the song doesn’t have a lot of depth to it, despite its catchiness. Glenn’s vocal delivery comes across as very charismatic and self-assured, and the rest of the band is right on the same page as their front man. Everyone knows exactly the direction they are going on this record, and everyone is so content with it that no one is willing to change things even slightly.
One of the records first singles, “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)”, is a catchy number with the opening bars featuring Elaine playing a dance like beat with bassist Branden Campbell playing a bass line that perfectly matches Elaine’s drumming, with a funkiness that we haven’t heard yet in previous Pop Psychology songs. Aside from these highlights, “I Love You…” feels repetitive, and sounds like a recycled version of “Love In The 21’st Century”, and while the band tries to sound inspired throughout the album, “I Love You…” doesn’t convey that.

The band finally gets a spring in their step in the album’s 10th track “Living in Another World” as it opens with a colorful guitar line from Chris Allen. Throughout the song, we feel like the band is giving it their all with confident sing along “oh oh ohhh’s” from Glenn. “Living in Another World” is the records strongest track and will win over anybody who is not a fan of Neon Trees. While Pop Psychology offers nothing new for pop music, it is a catchy record that you can’t get out of your head in the present, but as for being something that you will listen to years from now, it falters.

 

Austin City Limits lineup announced

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The Austin City Limits (ACL) festival lineup has been announced. The festival will be taking place October 3rd-5th and October 10-12, 2014. You can see the lineup here. Tickets went on sale today 10am Central Time.

Ticket prices are as follows:

Souvenir (3 Day Pass, $50): SOLD OUT

Early Bird (3 Day Pass, $200): SOLD OUT

Regular 3 Day Pass: $225

You may also get a Platinum Pass and VIP Pass. Go to ACL’s tickets page to find out more about those passes.

Pixies release album Indie Cindy, their first album in 23 years

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The Pixies will release Indie Cindy, their first album in 23 years on April 29th. The new album is made up of songs coming from their EP’s 1, 2, and 3, which were all released within the past year. As a surprise for fans on Record Store Day, the band released a new song called “Women Of War”, which you can listen to on Soundcloud. You can stream Indie Cindy over at The Guardian.

Sunny Day Real Estate release first song in 14 years

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Yesterday for Record Store Day, Sunny Day Real Estate released “Lipton Witch”, their first song in 14 years years. The song appears on a split 7 inch with Circa Survive.

Circa Survive member Brenden Eckstrom discussed the collaboration saying “I went to see a few of the Sunny Day Real Estate shows when they toured in 2009 and I knew they’d written and recorded at least one song during that time. I got Jeremy Enigk’s info from a mutual friend and emailed him asking if they had anything planned with the track. I knew they were on a hiatus and I hated the idea of that song never being released. Jeremy spoke with the other guys who all seemed interested to do the split I had I proposed. We had a B-side we’d been sitting on that had a mellower vibe which seemed to balance their more rocking song in a way that another upbeat jam might not have. I couldn’t be more happy that this is happening. I honestly think this one of the best songs Sunny Day has ever written and I’m really happy that fans are going to get to hear it.”

You can hear the new track on Youtube.

Green Day: Demolicious

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Demolicious, an exclusive Record Store Day release from rock band Green Day is the best material released from the band since releasing their political concept album American Idiot in 2004. For the past ten years, Green Day have tried hard to write music that makes their political opinions known while also trying to make their music and their band as big as possible. That is very different from the bands newest material on Demolicious, a record consisting of eighteen demos from their trilogy album Uno! Dos! Tre! released in 2012. While each album after American Idiot didn’t offer old fans the same sound that their 90’s albums Dookie, Insomniac, and Nimrod did with their fast and pop inspired punk rock tunes, Demolicious sounds like the band is trying to return to the 90’s when the band was at their best even if they didn’t intend to. Each demo sounds under produced and very punk rock, and if nothing else Demolicious proves the band have not forgotten their roots.

The record opens with “99 Revolutions” from Tre!, the last in the trilogy installments. The song begins with a pounding beat from drummer Tre’ Cool and a slick guitar riff from front man Billie Joe Armstrong. Bassist Mike Dirnt comes in with a strong bass line letting their fans know that they haven’t lost their edge. “99 Revolutions” is a punchy tune, regardless of whether or not you are listening to it as a demo or as a full studio version. The song has remnants of Green Day’s 1994 album Dookie, since the band plays like they are ready to blow through your speakers, and that they do. The harmonies between Billie Joe and Mike Dirnt are still there, and after twenty years they sound better than ever.

“State Of Shock” and its sound goes back even further in the bands discography to Kerplunk, the bands second (and last) independent record that they released on Bay Area punk label Lookout Records in 1992. While the overall song has a fuller sound than any song on Kerplunk, “State Of Shock” has the mentality that the band is playing music for fun and that they are not concerned with how the song sounds from a production standpoint, which is the same attitude that Kerplunk brought to the table. It’s overall feel is an interesting one, especially since it is the records only new track, which might be hinting that Green Day are looking to go back to what they sounded like when they first started. “Stay The Night” is a simple rock tune that fans old and new will love since it could fit within the track listing of any of their albums and ultimately does not fit into one particular Green Day era. “Makeout Party” is another rock and roll tune that is another memorable one with its catchy guitar riffs and Billie Joe’s screams. While his screams are not as brutal as in some past Green Day’s songs, it shows that Green Day still know how to have fun and that their passion for music is still present.

“Oh Love” is the only boring track on the album, mostly because it doesn’t carry the same punchy effect that the rest of the album does. The song certainly sounds like it could not have come out at any time before Uno!, Dos!, Tre!, due to it having a much more repetitive and boring sound, much like their more recent material. The catchy elements of past Green Day songs is lost on “Oh Love” but newer fans will not be fazed by the new sound as they enjoyed Green Day’s musical transition wholeheartedly, as the band had a resurgence in fame after American Idiot’s release.

There is something for every Green Day fan on Demolicious, whether you’ve been following them for twenty years or forgot about them after ten. Older fans now have hope that Green Day will still remember where they started when they release their next album, as Demolicious sounds a bit too old at times for newer fans to fully enjoy.

 

Happy Record Store Day!

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Today is Record Store Day, a day where thousands of record stores all across the globe will be celebrating independent music stores and their culture. There are many records being released today that are completely exclusive for Record Store Day. Those releases can be found here. Go here to find out more about Record Store Day. What are you planning to pick up?

Motion City Soundtrack releasing a documentary

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Motion City Soundtrack will be releasing a documentary titled I Am The Movie: The Movie on May 13th. It will be focusing on footage and pictures surrounding their first album I Am The Movie released in 2002. It will be released digitally through iTunes and Amazon, as well as a limited edition physical copy on the original floppy disc packaging the album was released on. Watch the trailer here.

Coldplay announce 2014 tour dates

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Coldplay have announced six tour dates in 2014 to start their tour in support of their new album Ghost Stories. It is released May 19th on Parlophone Records. The dates are below.

04/25 – Cologne, DE @ E-Werk
05/05 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
05/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Royce Hall
05/28 – Paris, FR @ Casino de Paris
06/12 – Tokyo, JP @ Dome City Hall
07/01 – London, UK @ Royal Albert Hall

Breath Carolina: Savages

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Breathe Carolina is one of those bands that you either love or hate. Their electronic-screamo style of music is not something you can grow to love, and on their new album Savages, it is almost impossible to find anything worth liking. Breathe Carolina began in 2007 when David Schmitt (vocals) and former member Kyle Even began writing songs with Apple’s Garageband program. After posting a few of their songs to Myspace in 2008, the band gained over 10,000 plays eventually getting over 30,000 plays in 2009. The band would go on to release three albums It’s Classy, Not Classic (2008), Hello Fascination (2009), and Hell Is What You Make It in 2011.

When one listens to Savages, it feels rushed, sloppy, and so sugary sweet that it’s hard to imagine anyone over sixteen liking the band’s music. While the band has always combined pop, electronic, and metalcore together it never really seemed to fit, and at times the music feels like it resembles boy band style tunes, rather than a band that wants to be taken seriously. The album’s opening track “Bury Me” sounds likes one big electronic mess, and instead of sounding like the big opening song it wants to be, it sounds like more like a remix. Despite the heavy use of auto tune on the vocals, the vocals are the only positive aspect of the song, since that is the only musical component. “Sellouts” is the first song that incorporates metalcore screams; however it doesn’t start to sound good until you listen to it a few times. Sounding a bit like Swedish metalcore band Dead By April, the band mixes pop music with a hint of edgier sounding rock, which makes “Sellouts” the albums strongest song, though as the record continues, Savages keeps on faltering. “Shadows” is a song that pumps up the dance music and will please the bands fans that are heavily into techno. Aside from the songs pulsing beat, it offers no catchy moments even though it tries hard to be memorable. While the song features female vocals to compliment David’s voice, it really does nothing to make the song standout from the rest of the album.

The last song entitled “Mistakes” is the last tune on a mostly unbearable album. The song combines all of the bands preferred genres making it sound like a long remix that doesn’t work. Overall, it is hard to find what there is to like about Breath Carolina. While some music fans may be able to find a Breathe Carolina song that can become a guilty pleasure, on Savages you will have a hard time finding it.

Listen Here now has a store!

Hello everyone,

A few months ago I decided to launch a store for Listen Here to review singles, EP’s, albums, and interviews. I have posted the store page on the site’s front page, as well as a page giving you all of the information about it. If you have any questions about the store please send me an e-mail at laurenhgribble@yahoo.com.

Thanks,

Lauren

NEEDTOBREATHE: Rivers In The Wasteland

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NEEDTOBREATHE is a band that can bridge the religious and secular worlds together very well, and the best part about their music is that they do it without turning anyone off.  On their new album Rivers In The Wasteland, there is enough God to keep their religious fans satisfied, and for the nonbelievers we get some religious references and songs that point directly towards the faith shared by the band, but these songs are scattered enough to make the band and their music enjoyable. Rivers In The Wasteland is still heading in the same vein as 2011’s The Reckoning, though we get more of a general perspective on the bands life and what influences them on their latest release. Brothers Bear (guitar, vocals, and piano) and Bo Rinehart (guitar and vocals) were raised in Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, but later moved to Seneca, South Carolina where they started performing. When Bear was enrolled in Furman University, the brothers began playing at coffee shops, and eventually teamed up with Joe Stillwell (drums) and Seth Bolt (bass) to form NEEDTOBREATHE. In 2006, the band headed to the UK to record their debut album Daylight, after they signed to both Atlantic and Sparrow Records. The band has gone on to release three more albums titled The Heat (2007), The Outsiders (2009), and The Reckoning in 2011.

The opening track “Wasteland” is a fantastic opening song that sets up the band’s sound and album themes perfectly. Sounding much like The Avett Brothers and even Kings of Leon, the song opens with an acoustic guitar that establishes that the band has deep southern roots, while also bringing their faith to the forefront without any explicit mention of Jesus or any other Christian figures. At the 3:10 mark we hear the entire band enter the song, which makes it sound fuller and much more powerful. While it does not have the same forceful feel of The Reckoning’s opening track “Oohs and Aahs” it presents a change of pace that fans will be comfortable with as the band still maintains their old sound while trying something new.

“Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now” is a rousing track that picks up the pace from the previous tracks. Its groovy guitar and the scuffling drum beat make the song a memorable one. The strong Creedance Clearwater style vocals from Bo and Bear add a nice edge to the track. “The Heart” is another acoustic song, and its standout component is the vocals, though this time it is from the entire band. The thing that really stands out about the composition of NEEDTOBREATHE songs is that they really know how to write songs that rock. It’s clear that the band does not need to mess with any heavy musical experimentation since they have found their sound entirely on Rivers…

“Multiplied” is a song that features another acoustic guitar with powerful vocals from Bear. And while the song focuses on religious themes, it doesn’t make their secular fans uncomfortable, most likely since the band is so good at what they do, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the band and their music. Rivers In The Wasteland is another standout album from NEEDTOBREATHE and hopefully this new album will be able to reach more audiences, whether you are into faith or not.

 

Ed Sheeran anounces North American tour dates

 

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Ed Sheeran has announced the dates for his upcoming North American tour this summer. Tickets go on sale April 25th. More dates are expected to be announced soon. The dates are below.

August

22 – Wamu Theater, Seattle, Wash.
23 – Ambleside Live, Vancouver, B.C.
29-30 – The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, Nev.
31 – Jobing.com Arena, Glendale, Ariz.

September

2 – Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
4 – Wolstein Center, Cleveland, Ohio
8 – Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Penn.
9 – Xfinity Center, Boston, Mass.
11 – Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C.
12 – The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Atlanta, Ga.
13 – Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
15 – Target Center, Minneapolis, Minn.
16 – Allstate Arena, Chicago, Ill.
18 – Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ont.

Books On Fate: Myth Of Trust

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Books on Fate are a band from San Francisco, California that play their own version of melancholy indie rock. Formed as a solo project fronted by guitarist Adam Dishart, who formally played in the band the Catholic Comb, Adam plays music that sounds very similar to The Cure that is tinged with a Smith’s influence. The band’s two song EP called Myth of Trust is music that is written thoughtfully, while conveying the feeling of depression and darkness that Dishart writes about in his lyrics. The first track called “Myth of Trust” is a pop track that has a lot of good elements. Backed by a simple beat, we hear Adam singing along with female vocalists Natalie Rakes and Sierra Frost giving the song a very hollow feeling, and synths also played by Sierra, bringing in what sounds like haunting strings. While Adam’s vocal style seems to be a cross between Morrissey and The Decemberist, it gels well with their musical style since their music falls more on the dreary side.

“Natural Sin Reprise” the EP’s second and final track, still has the same sad feel as “Myth of Trust”, though this time we hear Adam’s acoustic guitar skills, and his delicate and soft guitar picking adds a great backdrop to the songs depressing lyrics which speak of losing not only yourself but someone close to you. On “Natural Sin Reprise” we hear more similarities with The Decemberists, mostly in the vocals, which has a very dry one dimensional tone. While that particular vocal style would be limiting in other genres, with the indie style rock that Dishart is playing, it feels like the lyrics are the main thing that he wants his audience to focus on, as they bring out his emotions. For those music fans would like the above mentioned bands, you will love Books On Fate and their music which is probably inspired somewhat by San Francisco’s dreary weather. For those who are looking for something more uplifting and happy, you may be disappointed with their songs. 

One Direction announce new single

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One Direction have announced that their latest single will be “You and I” from their latest album Midnight Memories. Member Liam Payne has done a remix of a the track which will be included in a bundle along with the album version of the song. It will be released on May 25th. You can hear a snippet of the remix here.

Steve Klein’s ex-wife testifies in child sex case

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In March, former New Found Glory guitarist Steve Klein was charged with five counts of lewd acts on a child, as well as one count of contact “with the intent to commit a sex offense”, and possession of child pornography. His ex-wife Amanda Klein testified in the case yesterday. You can read the article on Alternative Press here.

Johnny Cash Blank on Blank Interview

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A series on PBS that repurposes rare interviews with famous musicians and entertainers using stop-motion animation has redone a rare interview with Johnny Cash. You can watch the interview right here on Youtube. You can also watch interviews with Jerry Garcia, Kurt Cobain, and Tupac Shakar on the Youtube sidebar.

As I Lay Dying band members form new band

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While the future of As I Lay Dying remains unknown the band has gone on to form a new band with Oh, Sleeper guitarist Shane Blay. Music from singer Tim Lambesis will be coming soon. You can read the band’s statement about the group’s future below.

There have been a lot of questions from fans over the past year and we’ll hopefully be able to provide more answers over time. However, this update is only to address things related to AILD’s future.

Originally, we said we’d update fans as soon as we knew more. We apologize for not sticking to that. It seemed best to wait until definitive news came in with a specific timeline. However, in light of speculation on other sites, an official update from As I Lay Dying seems to be the best way to clarify some things.

A good starting point is to clarify some things that have often been falsely reported. Tim was not a Christian at the time of his arrest, nor was As I Lay Dying a Christian band in 2013. It hadn’t been for some time and, to the best of my knowledge, only one of the people playing in the band even claimed to be a Christian at that time. The changed view had been written about it in a handful of As I Lay Dying songs and Tim’s later atheistic view had even been documented in court records. However, it doesn’t make as sensational of a headline to refer to the arrest of the “Ex-Christian Metal Sub-Genre Independent Artist” as it does the “Grammy Nominated Top 10 Selling Christian Rockstar” of the past.

With all that said, we don’t know how each musician from the previous era of As I Lay Dying will think about these topics in the future. For example, Tim has spent much of the last year reevaluating what originally convinced him to abandon belief in God. I have gathered that after much brokenness and repentance he sees things differently, considers himself a follower of Jesus, someone submitted to the will of God, or whatever you want to call it. That’s for him to talk about when he’s comfortable and only time will tell if he is sincere. What is certain though is that it’s impossible to face the events of last year without being changed in some way. Let’s let the guys focus on future music and hopefully the headline driven press will leave this issue alone for a while given some clarification.

Uncertainty ahead…
As I Lay Dying was originally founded/owned by Tim and then eventually the ownership was shared with Jordan about six years later. As the only official members, neither would like to move forward at the moment regardless off the upcoming sentencing time (which is still yet to be determined / not 9 years). There has been enough communication to establish some differences in opinion about what to do in the distant future. That keeps AILD’s future in limbo. The hibernating version of the band is just the official band owners, which means As I Lay Dying is Tim & Jordan. This is based on the uncertainty of the future, including who will be performing with the band when/if that time comes. There have been nearly 20 guys who filled the vacant bass or guitar positions in As I Lay Dying history. The current setup is definitely not a closed door on some of the ex-members talking in the future, but it just makes sense for now that AILD is only Tim and Jordan.

Two opinions…
Tim has acknowledged his guilt and clearly made some bad decisions in a period of time where he acted contrary to the person he’s been most of his life. He believes AILD should only pick back up if it’s in a form restored to its roots. For Tim, the potential of pursuing AILD again means working on a lot of other more important things in his personal life first.

On the other hand, Jordan feels differently about the future. Even if more discussions were to take place, he would rather take time to pursue other things. That includes releasing new music with three of the guys from the most recent As I Lay Dying lineup. It’s a chance for Jordan to be more involved in the songwriting process and enjoy other styles he’d rather play. In fact, they’ve already recorded their debut album and I’m sure it’ll be awesome. It’s not meant to replace As I Lay Dying because it is something stylistically different under a different name. Interestingly enough, their vocalist is also a former Christian like his new bandmates and was/is the guitar player for Oh Sleeper (Shane Blay). They’ll have stuff to release through Metal Blade relatively soon, which will be an exciting/interesting combination given the band’s more radio friendly sound.

In terms of music, Tim doesn’t want to pursue performing live music full time regardless of what length his sentence ends up being. His sentence certainly won’t be forever, but even so, touring full time doesn’t seem healthy or practical given his new outlook and goals. Creating new music is the part Tim loves most and he will always continue to release albums. That includes a bunch of stuff he has recorded in the past six months that he will announce a project name for soon as well. As an occasional ear behind the scenes, it is good hear him playing guitar again and writing lots of riffs again like he did across the first five As I Lay Dying releases.

Hopefully that addresses the major questions related to As I Lay Dying. AILD is sleeping rather than dead, and there are two separate projects to hold you over whether or not it is awakened again.