Review of Halo Circus' New Album "Bunny"

Review of Halo Circus' New Album "Bunny"

A genre-defying debut endeavor succeeded by a record-breaking tour
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For those of you who were devout American Idol fans in your youth (like myself), you may remember the name Allison Iraheta. On Season 8, she made it to fourth place with her rock star sensibilities and edgy vocal and musical choices, but since her time on TV, she has formed a new band: Halo Circus.

Allison Iraheta + Halo Circus was co-founded by Iraheta and multi-platinum producer, producer and bassist Matthew Hager. They are joined on drums by accomplished Cantonese and orchestral drummer Veronica Bellino, who’s previously worked with Jeff Beck and DMC of Run DMC; and on guitar by Brian Stead. Late this past June, the band released their first album, Bunny, which features a wide array of tracks that cover a variety of genres, tempos, and languages.

In fact, if there is one point I would drive home about this album from the start, it is that Bunny is most impressive and successful due to the skill and passion required to deftly traverse these varying styles. This is possibly a result of an extra year spent re-recording the album after a first attempt in 2015 and lots of sound changes resulting from their live shows. There are glimmers of soft-spoken ballads; moments of late '90s and early '00s style pop; hard-hitting rock riffs and vocals reminiscent of other contemporary progressive rock bands; Latin-inspired tracks accompanied by bilingual lyrics; even other cuts with a big band sound and booming vocals; and a couple of uncanny interlude-like tracks even sneak their way in. The way Iraheta's voice transcends these disparate sounds is especially notable, with the roughness that made her stand out on Idol returning with the feel of a throwback, of sorts, to raspy lounge singers.

When tracking the shifts between these songs, the album--which I might point out the band suggests to be listened to in its entirety, in order--starts out with a nearly seamless transition from the first song, "He Promises the Moon"--which is slow, retro, and a little eerie--to the second, "Nothing At All"--a bombastic and fast-paced rock song which showcases Iraheta's sassy vocals, and gives me fond Idol flashbacks. This track and the third, "All I Have," feel, to me, like the most fully realized examples of their unique brand of rock that is simultaneously broody and aggressive, similar to the band Muse.

The album shifts at this point, away from its "rock-y" start, to Iraheta's "Salvadorian background and her youth growing up in South Central Los Angeles." Three songs (tracks four, six, and seven, with five as an interlude to tie them together) in total take on a Latin-inspired musicality and bilingual lyrics that add a distinct extra edge as the album tones down its punky vibe. The fourth song, "Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena)," the standout single from the album, uses this edge especially well as a more pop-inclined track with a bilingual chorus and title. Sixth, "Yo Me Voy" is a crescendoing all-Spanish ballad that slows down the tracklist after the transition provided by "Far From Eden," but maintains the vocal and emotional power behind the music thus far. Finally, there is "Verdad," another Spanish song with a great beat driving strong tunes and vocals, with occasional delicate instrumental pauses.

At this point, the album shifts again, turning more towards the inclinations of pop. "Guns In Our Hands" is the first example of this, infusing the new school of pop with some old school sounds lounge sounds, this song is impactful, sounding as if could be on the soundtrack for a big movie. Next, "Band-Aid" keeps the momentum, starting out slightly more grungy, and building into a loud pop-rock anthem that takes on slightly political overtones. And then, "Out Of Love" continues the trend, as a pop-rock single that could and should currently be on the radio...end of story.

For track eleven, "You Can't Take You Away From Me," again a change occurs, returning to the vessel of the ballad but with a new gospel and orchestral feel. It's loud and intense, and about love, as all good songs like that are. But after a beat-heavy transition provided by "Dawn," the pop is back in full swing with the album closer "Something Special." I love this song because while it starts slowly when it gets going it reminds me of radio singles from the aughts (especially Hillary Duff for some reason I have yet to be able to pin down). It's a great way to cap off the whole record, especially with its sweet sound and lyrics.

The variety of styles that Halo Circus plays with serves them well on this album because each genre stands out on its own, with a few very strong tracks from each category that showcase their unique and versatile skill. If interested, the album is available on an eco-friendly CD that includes an eight-page lyric booklet with artwork by Patty Palazzo of Punk Masters and photography by famed artist and video director Nick Egan. Reviewers got a furry version of the advance CD--the cover art was reversed and a huge swatch of pink fake fur covers the front.

Halo Circus also offers their album as a "stylish and convenient" "Faux Curio" keychain. Vaguely, but not entirely reminiscent of a rabbit's foot, that version offers enhanced quality audio and includes an exclusive bonus song, the music video "Desire," and digital lyric and artwork booklet. But unlike any other record album, "Faux Curio" buyers will get exclusive future free content that's theirs alone. The band also produced an amazing micro-short film/commercial “Take Back Your Music Collection” to promote it here:

All physical album formats come with a free MP3 download of the record. Halo Circus’ site also offers fans other goodies including signed CD’s, handwritten lyric sheets, t-shirts, and, for superfans, dinner with frontwoman Allison Iraheta herself.

Fresh on the heels of their debut full-length album, Allison Iraheta + Halo Circus have hit the road for their highly anticipated US tour underway now and running through Fall 2016. The tour made history when announced with a successful crowdfunding campaign: the band declared that any town in America that raised $600 would get to host a Halo Circus show. Within weeks, the campaign reached 100% fan backing, setting a record for the largest US crowdfunded tour to date, with 30+ US cities on the schedule.

Iraheta concludes, “Our aim was high: play as much as possible and try to develop a reputation as a great live band before releasing an album. Somehow along the way, we learned how to play these songs to an audience and the band actually started to take on a life of its own.” Now, with the album release and tour, Halo Circus will bring their fans a trove of new material to satisfy their musical cravings.

Want to catch Halo Circus in your town? Check out the dates and locations below or search the tour schedule here.

September 23rd

Lion's Lair Lounge— Denver, CO

September 27th

Curtain Club—Dallas, TX

September 29th

Texas Mist— Austin, TX

October 1st

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck—Houston, TX

October 3rd

The Basement— Nashville, TN

October 5th

Will's Pub— Orlando, FL

October 14th

Joe Squared— Baltimore, MD

October 15th

Tree House Lounge— Washington, D.C.

October 17th

Bourbon & Branch— Philadelphia, PA

October 20th

Rockwood Music Hall— New York, NY

October 21st

The Red Room at Café 939— Boston, MA

October 26th

Double Happiness— Columbus, OH

October 27th

PJ's Lager House— Detroit, MI

October 29th

uncommonground — Chicago, IL

Cover Image Credit: New Transcendence

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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10 Places From Movies And TV You Can Visit In Real Life

It's like stepping into Hollywood!

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I am constantly so enamored by the world of Hollywood and by going to visit places I have seen on screen. It's always such an unreal feeling to see where my favorite pieces of entertainment were shot. Here are 10 places from some of our favorite movies to see and visit in the real world!

The High School from "10 Things I Hate About You"

If you have ever wanted to dance on the same stairs as Heath Ledger or just stand in the same courtyard as Julia Stiles then you're in luck! Along the water in Tacoma, Washington, Stadium High School is located which was used both inside and out as the high school from one of the greatest teen movies of all time. This school is massive and so beautiful it's almost Hogwarts level stunning.

Pacific Coast Academy from  "Zoey 101"

Growing up I always dreamed about going to Pacific Coast Academy and being best friends with Jamie Lynn Spears and one of those things can (kinda) become a reality! Located in Malibu is a beautiful campus called Pepperdine University and it is the school they used to shoot scenes of Zoey and the gang at PCA. It is a christian based college and is prestigious in it's own right so if unlike me you are smart enough you can live out my dreams.

Central City Police Department from "The Flash"

Have you ever wanted to show up to Detective Joe West's place of work? Well head to the Vancouver City Hall in Vancouver, Canada and you will recognize your surroundings as the Central City Police Department! If you are lucky enough to show up on a filming day, you might even seen the man himself — Barry Allen.

Forks High School from The Twilight Saga

Personally, I am more invested in Bella and Jacob but for all my Team Edward ladies (and gentleman) you can visit the real-life school where Bella and Edward first met and their love blossomed into whatever obsessive weird thing it was. They also used the parking lot at this school to film the infamous scene where Edward saves Bella from getting crushed by a car. The school is called Kalama High School and is located in Kalama, Washington

Max And Dani's House from "Hocus Pocus"

Anyone with taste loves the movie Hocus Pocus — that's just facts! And I have some good news for fans of the film...you can visit the infamous Denison house! Located in none other than Salem, Massachusetts you will find this beautiful home where my favorite siblings once lived.

Silent Hill from "Silent Hill"

I will say before talking about this place that visiting it is EXTREMELY dangerous as just like in the movie the town as been burning from below for years and years. This small town is called Centralia and is located Pennsylvania and has a roaring population of about four people.

Hobbiton from "Lord Of The Rings"

I am personally not a fan of Lord of the Rings but I know a lot of people are so I wanted to include this super cool place on the list. If you ever find yourself in New Zealand you can visit Hobbinton from the movies and spend a day living like your favorite characters.

Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter Series

Now this place will unfortunately be packed with muggles of course but you can find it at King's Cross Station in London! If you are anything like me and are obsessed with these magical movies this is a dream destination just don't run too hard at the wall if you're a muggle it will probably end in a concussion.

East High from the High School Musical Saga

Located in Salt Lake City Utah is the real life East High that was used in the filming of all three High School Musical movies. It is my absolute dream to attend this high school and walk the halls of the greatest high school of all time. They used both the outside and inside and the school so every inch of the school will remind you of these great teen movies.

Gus and Hazel's Bench from "The Fault in Our Stars" 

If you ever wanted to visit the site of this kiss between star crossed lovers you're in luck! Located along a canal in Amsterdam is a bench that is clearly marked by all the fault in our stars graffiti. Recreate this cute picture with your significant other and use a quote from the movie — then you'll just win in life.

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