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New Music Friday: The Night Game Debuts Self Titled Album
Photos by Patrick Tracy @ptracy1990

Photos by Patrick Tracy @ptracy1990


In the summer of 2017, I somehow managed to find last minute tickets to go see the one and only John Mayer perform during his The Search for Everything tour when he made a stop in Sacramento. After somehow finding parking in Downtown and rushing to catch our seats before the opener went on, my sister and I had no idea what was to come that night; little did we know that we would stumble upon an act that was familiar to us. The curtains lifted from the stage as the opening band walked out and started performing, with funky guitar riffs and an 80s style pop vibe, we couldn't figure out how we had heard those raspy powerful vocals before. But clearly, this band had the audience entranced. It wasn't until a couple songs had passed that we had realized it was none other than former frontman of Boys Like Girls, the one and only Martin Johnson. Now, who was this new act, this new project Johnson has unleashed, as he casually opened for John Mayer? Say hello to The Night Game, an eclectic and moody solo project Johnson officially released the same year we had seen him perform at an arena filled with thousands of people. Fast forward to 2018, and TNG released his debut album, with 11 songs that will be giving you all the vibes as we transition into fall. 

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The opening song, The Outfield, was the song that got people talking about TNG in the first place when it was released as a single in early 2017; it was also all John Mayer had to hear in order for him to want Johnson to open for his summer tour. The song has power, as we hit the chorus and get punched in the face with some crazy vocals backed up by Gotye. As we transition throughout the album, we can find a common theme of losing someone you're not quite over just yet. With songs like Do You Think About Us?, The Photograph, and Die a Little, TNG reveals a story about a girl he once knew, someone he loved; and even though he's trying to move on, he still thinks about what she could be doing right now if they were still in each other's lives - and yet, he finds it to be better to just be left alone. 

The Night Game is the type of album that has a cinematic feel. The emotion pulled through the vivid poetry and imagery that TNG paints for the audience is something hard to find in the mainstream culture, that "something" being a feeling. A feeling of nostalgia, heartbreak, and the current state of having ourselves to depend on vs someone else. Summerland and Coffee and Cigarettes reflects on a moment in time that plays back in our minds, brings back emotions that we had forgotten about, and the realization that it's all in the past and it's a new world in your today. The intoxicating emotions can bring anyone back to a time where we had someone in our lives that we thought would be there forever. As the album comes to an end with the fun up beat Back in the Van, imagine yourself driving alone, somewhere on the highway, wind blowing through your hair, blasting this album and taking yourself back into that feeling of just being. Yeah, it's that album. And it's fucking good. 

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You can stream the album on Spotify here and take a listen to the epicness that this piece of art encases for yourself. Oh and by the way...The Night Game is going on tour! You can check out the dates below:

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Like what you see? Be sure to follow TNG's journey and find tickets for their tour here, and if you want to get all the latest news on music, interviews, and more, you can subscribe to my newsletter here! Leave a comment below of what you think of the album and what your favorite song is. Until next time!


Artist Feature: Jamie Campbell Bower of COUNTERFEIT.
Max Baker-Jamie Campbell Bower-Interview-Photoshoot

*disclaimer: if any photos from the following article are to be shared on any social media platforms, please take the time to tag me @maxbakerphoto and give proper credit. Thank you!


On a quiet and cool summer day in Anaheim, California, UK's very own COUNTERFEIT. arrived to play the last show of their first US tour at the Chain Reaction. With excitement and anticipation running through the room, it was almost bittersweet as the hours flew by leading up to the band's final performance. It was something you had to experience for yourself. The energy and chaos that the UK artists brought to the stage had fans to their feet, leaving them in awe and, of course, rioting their hearts out to songs like "Washed Out" and "Close To Your Chest". The interaction between the guys of COUNTERFEIT. and their adoring crowd was an amazing time to witness; with most of the band coming into the audience, singing, crowd surfing, and mosh pitting to new and old songs. It was clear that this is what they were made to do; it's their livelihood and their passion. We need to support more artists like these guys; the ones who not only do it because it's their job, but because you know they love what they're doing and wouldn't trade it for the world. But before they got out on stage to give it their all to their dedicated fans, I got to take a moment and talk with lead singer Jamie Campbell Bower about the tour life, the fans, and everything in between, as the rest of the band (Sam Bower, Tristan Marmont, Roland Johnson, Jimmy Craig) prepared for what was to come. You can watch the full interview below, or read on to see more photos and live concert shots from the evening. 

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Max Baker sits down with Counterfeit's lead singer & guitarist, Jamie Campbell Bower before their final headlining show in Anaheim, CA. Filmed & edited by Samantha Baker.

Never lose that childlike wonder.

Me: Alright, so introduce yourself, and what do you do in Counterfeit?

Jamie: Hi, my name is Miley Cyrus and I play guitar in Counterfeit.

M: (laughs) Perfect. So, for those who might not know who Counterfeit is, what's the meaning behind the band name and how did it start?

J: The meaning behind the band name is always a difficult question to answer, I wish I had a better story than what I'm about to tell you. But, we used to play, myself, Tristan, and Roland, who play in the band, we used to play in another band together, and we played our last show and put it to bed; we started writing new music and we wanted to start completely afresh. We didn't have a name, we just had the sound right, and so I'm a bit of an emo kid and I was sending emails out being like 17 or so names, and like that. I was walking in Soho in London, and the name popped up into my head and it seemed to perfectly describe, or feel in my mouth, how the music sounded in my head. And I also think there's a small sense of irony behind the name as well, and it wasn't like a conscious thought. It was born, it was just natural, and I think that's what the most important thing is about this band is that everything we do is natural, and what we're about is community, and growth through community.

M: That's awesome. So it's your first headlining tour here in the US, correct?

J: It is indeed!

M: We were curious about it, but how does it compare to shows in the UK and Europe, to here? Like is the crowd any different, is the vibe different?

J: The language barrier's not as bad obviously (laughs) I mean as far as just logistical stuff, obviously the fucking drives are crazy. Like, a six hour drive for you guys is like popping to the shops, for us it's like traveling the length and breadth of our bloody country!

M: I know, it's ridiculous!

J: It is! It's absurd! That's just sort of the main difference, I guess. What we always seem to find through (when we go and play shows), is the people that are coming to see the shows are so fucking lovely, and that's worldwide. The people are there just to cut loose and have a good time, and to make friends, and so many people that I've met, on this run in particularly, who have just gone to a show by themselves, and they've left with three other mates. So that's the same university wherever we go. But there hasn't been much of a difference. The shows are just as crazy, just as wild, just as fun. 

M: That's really cool. And it's been a little over a year since Together We Are Stronger came out-

J: That's right.

M: So what can fans expect for the future of Counterfeit, as far as new music goes, if you can even talk about that type of stuff.

J: I can, I can talk about it all you like, I can talk a little bit about that. 

M: Perfect! 

J: So yeah, like you said, we released our first album back in March of last year, and it's now come to, for us to tell the world that we are making another record. We launched a pledge campaign a month ago, announcing the new album, and on the pledge campaign we're giving people the opportunity to be more involved with the process, whereby you can actually come visit the studio, you can be in a music video, all that kind of stuff. But then also, on the pledge, we're going to be giving people content that you wouldn't necessarily see anywhere else. Behind the scenes of making the album, the writing process and what that was like. I spoke with someone after a show the other day and I said, "What is it that you want to see?", and she said to me "What I really want to see is songwriting and how songs are born and what they mean", and all that kind of stuff, so we'll be doing stuff like that up in there. But yes, a new album! We're going into the studio after this tour finishes, making a new record...

M: That's so exciting!

J: Which is very exciting, I know! The first album was very, like, naive, and I feel that we've grown so much. 

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M: I was going to ask, are you guys going in a different direction for the sound or are you going to stay true to that hardcore feel?

J: Well it's all timpanis now, that's how it is, it's all basically orchestral from now here on then, we're not going to be making any hardcore music anymore, it's strictly piano based material, from here on end. 

M: Ah yes of course!

J: But yeah we'll be remaining true to Counterfeit, I think one of the things that I always wanted to do and one of the things that I love as a songwriter is scale and grandeur, and that's something that I want to bring to the next album, and I think it's something that we've tried to bring into the writing and in the next record it's just taking what is essentially Counterfeit and hardcore and thrashy and go go go, and developing that to a slightly more mature place I think. But there's not going to be any curve balls, that's not what we're about just yet.

M: Yeah, there are some artists that change their sound every album, so you never know.

J: You know, we could end up being that band, there's nothing to say that we're not going to be that band. But, at this point in time, you know, we are so early in the stages of our musical exploration that to veer off in such a strange direction would seem, I don't know, counterproductive, almost, to what it is that we're trying to do.

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M: Totally. So, what might be some advice that you have for creatives, musicians, and artists in general to stay inspired and keep pursuing their passion and their dream? As far as creative stuff goes?

J: Never lose that childlike wonder. Never, ever lose that. It will go, and it will decrease, and you will notice it happening as you get older, but you have to try to not lose that, it's the hardest thing in the world. And as far as inspiration goes, I said to someone the other day actually, in a Q+A, they said they were asking me about the songwriting process, and I think I said something along the lines of "nothing was ever right the first time, it takes a lot of wrongs to have a good right in being creative." You know, if it's wrong, good, and if it's right, even better. So that's my main advice; don't be disheartened, even when you know it's shit. Because if you know it's shit, it means that you can do better. 


Max Baker-Jamie Campbell Bower-Interview-Photoshoot

A big thank you to COUNTERFEIT.'s team for having myself and my sister, @samanthabakerfilm, come out to the show; it was truly an unforgettable evening. Thank you to Jamie for taking the time to talk about life and the amazing piece of advice you had for fellow creatives out there that might be reading this. 

You can follow COUNTERFEIT. on their social media links by following the link here! Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of the interview, and who would you like me to interview and shoot with next? Like what you see here? Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date on all things music, photoshoots, interviews, and more!  Let me know and follow me on twitter and instagram, and thank you for taking the time to check my site out. 'Til next time! 


Written, filmed, and photographed for Counterfeit., in association with The Gypsy Shack Collective (www.tgscollective.com)


New Music Friday: The Aces LP Debut "When My Heart Felt Volcanic"
Left to right: Alisa Ramirez, Cristal Ramirez, Katie Henderson, and McKenna Petty    Photo by @alexanderbortz

Left to right: Alisa Ramirez, Cristal Ramirez, Katie Henderson, and McKenna Petty

Photo by @alexanderbortz


I'm just gonna say it; The Aces is the badass feel good girl group we need. I hate to even have to categorize them in something that is incomparable to their sweet sound, but they are more than just that. I know a lot of people are out there saying, “I don’t normally like girl bands” or something along those lines, but these ladies will prove you wrong and show you a good time with their debut LP entitled When My Heart Felt Volcanic.  

photo by @gabriellahughes

photo by @gabriellahughes

The indie rock/pop band bring a sound reminiscent of LANYPale Waves, and similar artists of the popular California Pop genre, heavily influenced by fun 80s pop/rock, with lots of guitar riffs, synthetic vibrations, and stunning vocals and instrumentals all around. From start to finish, WMHFV is a solid album, and you might think I'm kidding when I say this, but every song is a jam and could be strong as a stand alone single. Not only is their sound absolutely fun and memorizing, but if you really listen to the words throughout this LP, the lyrics are what make The Aces stand out. The adventures of falling in (and out) of love can be found in songs such as the opening and closing number Volcanic Love and Waiting for You, as well as songs like Hurricane, Bad Love, Last One, and more, that anyone can relate to and send chills down your spine. 

Don't underestimate these ladies; their eclectic sound is way too catchy to not blow up sooner than later. I know I'll be having this one on repeat for, well, probably forever. You can listen to their music via Spotify now, and you can find the album on their website for only $8! 

Thanks for checking my site out, and be sure to follow @theaces on all social media, and me @maxbakerphoto while you're at it! The band is currently on tour opening for X Ambassadors, and that sounds like a show you do not want to miss. Check out the link here below to see if they're coming to a city near you! 

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 be sure to follow the ladies here: @cristalramirezz, @alisa_ramirez, @kt_hendy, and @kenpettywap


New Music Friday: Jake Miller's Highly Anticipated "Silver Lining" Will Not Disappoint
photo by @crowbrennan

photo by @crowbrennan


Silver Lining. What does this mean for singer/rapper/songwriter Jake Miller? The very definition of the term is "to emphasize the hopeful side of a situation that might seem gloomy on the surface; even the worst events or situations have some positive aspect." This perfectly describes the sounds and words heard on Miller's 5th studio album. What seems to be his most personal album yet, we listen to a story of heartbreak, making it through thick and thin, the good and the bad, and what has yet to come when it comes to the adventure (and sometimes misadventures) of life, love, and relationships. 

At the age of 25, and starting his career back when he was posting videos online as a high schooler, the growth in his work is shown clearly on Silver Lining,  even if it means finding out someone broke the heart of this heartthrob, making your heart break for him, as heard on the heartwrenching song Permanent (amiright, ladies?). If you want a summary of what to expect before diving head first into SL, I can tell you that it's heavily influenced by sounds like Michael Jackson with a hint of LANY and a dash of Jon Bellion, found in songs like Think About Us, Vibrations, Love Again, the callout on fake girls in Hollywood entitled The Girl That's Underneath, and Drinkin About You. I've personally been a fan of Miller's work for awhile now, and it's always inspiring to see how an artist grows over the years, working and perfecting their craft in the process. With a great response already over social media, fans of Miller's will not be disappointed with the new route he's taken on this album. Because of how personal Miller gets through his music alone, it's an awesome take to hear a voicemail from his parents before the album comes to an end, revealing some pretty amazing life advice from his father, entitled Headlights. The voicemail goes like this:

"Don't stress about what you can't control. You know everything is going to work itself out, okay? It always does. Imagine if you were driving, from one end of the country to the other, and sometimes the drive is easy, and sometimes you're driving in the pitch black, and you can't see in front of you; but you got the headlights, and that lights up about 100 feet, and you focus on that 100 feet, and you get through it, and then the headlights focus on another 100 feet, and you keep going, and you trust yourself, and you're going to get to the other end of the country. Good stuff happens to good people. Just gotta be yourself and don't ever change for anyone, keep busting your ass, okay? I'm proud of you, kid.... and also, remember what Bob Dylan says; you gotta keep swimming or else you'll sink like a stone."

Long story short, take some time out of your day and give this a listen. Starting off with the upbeat LANY/California pop style song, Think About Us, and ending in the awe-inspiring lyrical synthetic sounds of Be Alright, it's the type of music to get you going through your day, and you may find yourself listening to it on repeat...for the next week or so. 


photo by @crowbrennan

photo by @crowbrennan

 

Miller is set to go on tour soon, entitled after one of the songs of this album called Hit and Run. You can see the tour dates below, snag a ticket if you want, or if you really want to, see if VIP packages are still available. Catch him when he comes to a city near you!

https://www.jakemiller.com/

Promo Poster for Jake Miller's upcoming tour, starting in April - taken from twitter

Promo Poster for Jake Miller's upcoming tour, starting in April - taken from twitter


photo by @crowbrennan

photo by @crowbrennan


all photo credit used in this article goes to @crowbrennan. be sure to keep up with @jakemiller on all social media platforms.