Monday, October 22, 2012

ARTimation Festival (10/24) and FREE CAKE (10/28)

We are proud and excited to announce that our music video "October" was selected to be featured in the 13th annual Artimation Festival at AMC Theater in Barrington

There will be three showings at 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm on Wednesday October 24th. Tickets are free and available at the box office starting at 4pm the day of the festival.

If you would like to attend please checkout the official ARTimation 13 facebook event link.

Congratulations to Chad Headley, Chris Shern, and ALL OF YOU who helped us create this video!!

Haven't seen it yet? Well here it is right here:

But wait!! There's more...

This Sunday 10/28 we hope you'll come see Facing Winter perform at The House Cafe in Dekalb with two of our all time favorites: Jack Avery's Kin and Coed Pageant!!

Keeping with tradition... at the end of the show there will be FREE CAKE for everyone! 

(see photo above for reference... yup, that's us eating cake at last year's FW/JAK show)

The show starts at 6pm. It's ALL AGES and the cover is $5. Please come support our good friends Coed Pageant on their fall tour! For a map or other info please visit

And hey...

Did you know you can still download our new EP for FREE? Just click on the album cover below:

 Thank you so much for your support!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Johnny Music Seed (vol. 1) -- 4 Great Indie Bands with 4 Free Downloads


Johnny Music Seed
Reviews and also Etceteras
"Free Music You & Your Entire Family Should Download Immediately"     -- Volume 1

Ben the Brontosaurus
"When You Were Born" EP Review

Ben the Brontosaurus is one of the most tastefully unique bands I've heard in a long time. The duo is from the suburbs of Philadelphia and consists of Ben Grim (Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Keys, and Programming) and Ryan Berg (Drums). Their sound draws on influences from all over the galaxey (including that one bar in Tatoine).

If you like Rural Alberta Advantage, Ben Folds, Dr Dog, RHCP, Ween, or the Shins... there's a good chance you'll be a fan of "Ben Brontosaurus.

**The 1st song "No!" enters with with a chugging bass and a smooth, dry, vocal melody. A few seconds later the song erupts playfully upon the entry of drums and full instrumentation. At the one minute mark a sparkling microkorg arpegiates and the chorus begins. From start to finish this song is interesting, engaging, fun, and challenging. It's the sonic equivilant of eating strawberry pop-rocks... curious, sweet, and exciting.

**The 2nd song "Conception" is a relaxing, tripped-out instrumental. It has a meditative quality that I really like. The chords change slowly as a whispering acoustic guitar finger picks among a chorus of distant ghosts. With a length of 9 minutes, casual listeners are likely to skip past this meandering soundscape. Others (like myself) may enjoy it while driving down a quiet highway in the rain.

**The 3rd song "When You Were Born" immediately reintroduces the full band and features a bombastic, funk-influenced vocal melody. The groove here is really catchy as Grim once again displays his prowess on multiple instruments. Berg is a fantastic drummer who effortlessly accomplishes the task of making Grim's melodies danceable. The vocal harmonies on this track are truly inspired and quite catchy.

**The 4th and final track "Kindergarden" another relaxing, psychedelic soundscape is offered up. The song is remeniscent of bands like Air, Pink Floyd, Tortoise, and Radiohead. 

**Recording Quality: 5/5  
**Emotion: 15/15  
**Catchiness: 12/15
**Tightness: 10/10
**Creativity: 10/10 
**Lyrics: 8/10 
**Arrangement: 7/10 
**Replayability: 10/10 
**Originality: 10/10  
**Accessibility: 2/5 

Ivy Dye 
"Lyme Times" EP review

Ivy Dye is from Chicago! Meaning we should all go catch their next show. "Lyme Times" has a dark, exotic, 80's sort of theme... and even though I generally don't like 80's music, I felt very hooked by these songs. There also seemed to be a British influence... Talking Heads, Blur, Radiohead, The Foals, Gorillaz... I feel like I can hear it all in there somewhere. But certainly not in a copy-cat way. This is a very original band using their influences to create a sound all their own. Oh yeah, and they're tight as f#ck!

The 1st track "Yankee" has a ghostly and subtle intro before breaking into a triumphant drumbeat with an exotic woodwind (or synth) lead. The vocals on "Yankee" are gritty but melodic. The guitar and bass are appropriately subtle and provide an excellent soundscape to back the vocals and the driving drums. Towards the end of the track the flute-like hook gives way as a warm victorious sounding guitar leads the band to the end of the song.
The 2nd track "Heart" enters with a catchy guitar and synth hook reminiscent of something by the "Cure" or some other edgy 80's band. The drums shine on this track and are explosive the entire way through. The bass is driving and at times even overdriven providing a nice intensity to the instrumental bridges. At around 3:10 an impressive tangent begins as the guitar, bass, and drums go on a bouncy romp of odd but dance-able rhythms. The vocals on this track are quite catchy and within a range that nearly anyone could sing along... somewhat similar to Interpol but with more depth and emotion.
Track 3 "Statue" is the most joyful sounding song of the album. It's got a playful vocal melody that reminds me of Damon Albarn. I could easily see it being used effectively as a single. The instrumentation has a feel similar to something off "The People's Key" by Bright Eyes... marching band rhythms, hooky guitar leads, and punchy bass. Very nicely executed.
Track 4 "Snow Creek" before I even saw the name of this track it made me think of Winter. It bounces in with a minor key and immediately I imagine snowflakes falling and trees blowing in the wind without leaves. It has an introspective feel and the lyrics are quite dark. It's a somber and interesting end to a great EP.

**Recording Quality: 5/5 
**Emotion: 15/15 
**Catchiness: 13/15 
**Tightness: 10/10
**Creativity: 10/10 
**Lyrics: 6/10 
**Arrangement: 9/10 
**Replayability: 10/10 
**Originality: 8/10 
**Accessibility: 3/5 

Nathaniel Noton-Freeman
"Cairn" EP Review
OVERALL RATING : 73/90 (81%)

Nathaniel's new EP is a beautiful collection passionate, intelligent guitar work. And although the songs are extremely technical they don't feel that way. If you prefer pop music, this record probably isn't for you. But those willing to listen deeper will not be disappointed. 
One of the truly impressive things about this record is that it's all done with one guitar. Not only that, but as far as I can tell he played each song in it's entirety with no edits. In a day in age when most musicians don't even play an actual instrument... this EP stands in stark contrast and offers an organic explosion of talent and color. Nathaniel is from Massachusetts... go check out his stuff if you're in the area! 

Track 1 "Green Eyes" may ward-off casual listeners. It's the busiest of the 4 songs and is unbound by traditional tempo and time keeping. Nathaniel is clearly challenging himself on this song... the result is a rainstorm of joyful notes and intricate rhythms reminiscent of Phil Keaggy. Overall it's a great track and one of my favorites of the group because of it's raw creativity.

Track 2 "Gray Eyes" matches the technicality and complexity of "Green Eyes" but in a more controlled and accessible way. It starts off dark and eventually moves towards a more lighthearted and bouncy feel.  The tempo seems to increase as the song moves along which gives it's hooks new life and excitement later in the track.

Track 3 "Blue Eyes" has a curious, introspective feeling about it. For much of the song the melody meanders around in an ambient, atmospheric sort of way. Near the midpoint of the song (around 1:15) the track really starts to shine as a triumphant new guitar hook is introduced. Afterward the song heads back towards it's roots but with new confidence and resolution.

Song 4 "Cairn" is the title track and my favorite of this group. It's dark bending hooks are full of longing and determination. The melodies aren't in a hurry and it's obvious that he is feeling every note he's playing. Of the four tracks, this is Nathaniel's best use of empty space. It feels very organic. The perfect blend of technicality and emotion.

**Recording Quality: 5/5
**Emotion: 13/15
**Catchiness: 10/15
**Tightness: 9/10
**Creativity: 10/10
**Arrangement: 8/10
**Replayability: 9/10
**Originality: 7/10
**Accessibility: 2/5
**Lyrics: NA / 10 (not factored in the rating of instrumental songs)

Matthew Coman
"The Last Setting Sun" (single) REVIEW

Coman's song has a warm, natural feel from start to finish. It's extremely polished and professional but still has a definitive organic, indie vibe.

The song enters with a bluesy over-driven guitar chugging on a simple riff. After a few moments a dirty yet silky-smooth vocal enters that has a tone reminiscent of "Get Back" by the Beatles. The melody is full of soul and the emotion in Matthew's voice come across quite clearly.

Near the 1 minute mark the song evolves as drums and full instrumentation enter. Hooky electric guitars pick out lead lines during the second verse as the playful vocal melody continues. 

Piano, tambourine, and a building tom beat fill out a very strong, determined sounding chorus. The vocal harmony here makes an already likeable song even more memorable.

The final verse features progressive variations of the guitar and vocal melodies... there's also a catchy slide guitar. As the song concludes the final chorus repeats a few times and then leads to a laid-back guitar solo outtro.

**Recording Quality: 5/5
**Emotion: 14/15
**Catchiness: 14/15
**Tightness: 10/10
**Creativity: 7/10
**Lyrics: 8/10
**Arrangement: 10/10
**Replayability: 10/10
**Originality: 7/10
**Accessibility: 5/5 


Thanks for taking the time to listen!! If you liked these artists, make sure to follow up with them online or at a show.

And if you don't have Facing Winter's new EP yet, you can download it for FREE by CLICKING HERE.

Introducing "Johnny Music Seed"

I'm starting a new project called "Johnny Music Seed". 

The purpose will be to spread the word about great independent music, art, stand-up comedy, and film. This fall I'll be launching a new little website... and in the future any Johnny Music Seed stuff I post here will also be posted there.

This is what I'll review:
If an indie [BAND, ARTIST, COMEDIAN, or FILM] is so good that I enjoy it on my own free time... 
Then I will write about it and post links. 

There will be no bullshit. I'm not going to recommend anything unless I'm 100% confident it's worth my time and yours.

So without further poo or adieu, here's: Johnny Music Seed Volume 1


Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Opt Out" and "October" video release show Saturday August 25th!!

Our new 6 song EP "Opt Out" releases August 25th!! And so does the official video for the single "October"!!

We'd love for you and your monkey butler to come celebrate with us on Saturday August 25th... we'll be having a release party at Seven Sided Ranch in West Chicago where you can see the music video, get "Opt Out" for free, eat some good food, drink some celebratory beer, and watch Facing Winter perform an extended set of our favorite new and old songs.

Jeff recording drums at the 7 Sided Ranch

Click here for the facebook event. Bring your mothers and please help us spread the word... it's gonna be one of the best nights of the summer for sure!


Where: Seven Sided Ranch in West Chicago (please contact us for address)
Time: 5pm until everyone is good and satisfied (live music will start at dusk)
Who's Invited: You, your familia, and your compadres (must be 21+ w/ photo ID to drink)
Cost: FREE not only that... but you get the EP free too!
Food/Beer: Yes! Yes! Details TBA... there will be a TBA price for food and beer
Please Bring: Your party face

All ages!! So please bring your kiddies and your grandma's. Must be 21+ with photo ID to drink.

Screens will be setup where you can view our new "October" video (directed by Chad Headley)!
An art gallery will feature local artists and creations!

Event Link:

This EP represents an immense amount of musical passion, focus, sweat, thought, time and energy. Written and recorded with Drew DeWaard and Dina Simone, these six songs collectively are the most intense and bombastic project we've ever released... now all we need now are your ears.

Brad lookin all cool and stuff at a show
HUGE thanks to video director Chad Headley and producer Chris Shern for their invaluable, amazing contributions. This wouldn't be possible without them, and we are forever grateful.

See you the 25th!!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Springly Happenings

Some of you may have noticed we haven't toured in awhile... that's because our glorious big brown van has been on disabled list since January.

Over the last few months we've been working hard and saving money... within the next few weeks we'll be back on our feet with reliable transportation. Hooray!

It's not set in stone... but we hope to resume touring in July or August. Michigan will be first on the list... Wisconsin and Southern Illinois will follow shortly after that.

In the meantime we've been quite busy playing shows and recording. Check out this live video of our brand new song "Tree Bridge" featuring Dan Perdue on bass:

And here's another live video we did of "October" featuring Brad Jewison on bass:

In April we played with our good friends Bradley and Gretchen of Coed Pagent at the Eskimo Manor in West Chicago. We also had the pleasure of playing with Jet W Lee for the first time. It was a packed house and we all had a blast. Here's a video from the show of Jeff rocking faces off during Colorful:

The following week we played at Muldoon's in Wheaton. For me personally, it was one of the most fun shows of the year. We had several technical difficulties... but everything worked out in the end. A lot more people showed up than we expected and we got to play 6 of our new songs. It was one of those nights where everybody just seemed to be in a really good mood. All-around it was a great night.

For the first time in quite awhile we took a month off from playing shows. In May we focused on recording, rehearsing, and planning. It was by far the busiest month 7 Sided Records has ever had.

In addition to new Facing Winter material, we also recorded several great artists from the area including:

Duck and Goose
Helen Keller's Ukulele 
Isle of Vinyl

In June we'll be back to playing live again regularly. And by "regularly" I mean we've got 4 shows this month! The first of which is at Goose Island in Wrigleyville on 6/14 at 8pm. It's hosted by our friends at CAU Records.

Click here to check out the facebook event. Here's the poster for the show:

A few weeks after that on Friday June 29th we're playing the 3rd annual Songwriter Festival at Jerry's in Chicago. The event is hosted by Independent Chicago which is an indie collective. The festival spans several days (6/27 thru 6/30) and is jam packed with extremely talented artists. I'd highly recommend attending as many days of the festival as you can. Click here to check out the facebook event. Here's the poster:

On June 15th and June 21st we are playing the grand opening of a new bar called World of Beer. We're pretty excited about it. Both nights we'll be playing from 9pm until 1am... yes, four hours! Bam!! Needless to say we've been practicing our asses off and learning lots of new material.

Within the next few weeks we'll be releasing some brand new music... so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading and for all the support!


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Crosspromotionalpalooza for yooza!

Special thanks to Eric Schwab Photography and Ivory for our new band photos! If you're in a band... if you're getting married... if you're a model or an actor... do yourself a favor and contact this man.
photo by Eric Schwab

We've got bunches of shows coming up... maybe you could come to one or seven of them? Please feel free to mix and match:
April 6th in Champaign (or nearby), IL with Fight With Monsters    
April 7th in Decator, IL with Fight With Monsters    
April 21st house show in Chicago with the Palace Flophouse
April 26th for a CAU showcase at Goose Island in Chicago

I can hardly believe how fast the time has gone by this winter... So much has happened since the last post! But before I get into all that, I want you all to know about some of the extra classy indie bands we've seen and/or played with recently:
Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire (Grand Rapids, MI) 
One of the best live bands in the Midwest. They recently released a brand new album and will be playing with Smoking Popes in Grand Rapids, Michigan on March 17th at the Pyramid Scheme. The Wildfire are an old-school rock band blending dirty rock riffs with bouncing keys, melodic bass, and driving rhythms... sort of like if Tom Petty had a genetically modified baby with ACDC and Wilco. Get their new album HERE. And make sure you don't miss them next time they're in Chicago!
The Plurals (Lansing, MI)
No matter what happens I will always need some form of punk in my life. Thankfully the Plurals are once again on their way from Lansing to provide my fix! The trio includes Tommy, Timmy, Hattie, and a fiery scoop of molten rock syrup. Lucky for you (and me) they are coming to town on Thursday March 15th to play at the House Cafe in Dekalb. I will definitely be there... hope you can come too! Here's the event for the show on March 15th. Click it!
BeCo (St. Charles, IL)
BeCo is a band who's been filling DuPage with amazing music for several years without me even knowing it. At the core of the band are brothers Adrian (guitarist/vocalist) and Jason (drums/percussion). A few weeks back we got to play with them at Cairo in West Chicago and I was blown away. From what I understand they usually play as a two piece... just an acoustic guitar and drums. And goddamn they really know how to get the job done! Adrian's unique and powerful vocals are backed by Jason's tastefully insane drumming. Refreshingly original, their sound is remeniscent of bands like Mars Volta, Two Gallants, and Rusted Root. I'd highly recommend you check out their live show asap! And by "asap" I mean "how about you click on this link and go to the charity show they're doing for the Salvation Army March 5th?" I'll be there, hope you can come too!
Chris Darby (Chicago, IL)
If you know anything about Facing Winter, it should come as no surprise that Chris Darby's name is once again being mentioned. Chris is one of the hardest working, most passionate and genuine folk artists in all of Illinois (and the known universe). His songs are raw, sometimes dark, and always thought provoking. In a few months Chris will release a very unique album... it'll be musicians from all over the country covering his songs. It goes to show how truly influential his music has been over the years. If a dozen artists want to cover your material for an album... you've certainly done something right. Jeff and I are each covering a song for the project (in fact, Jeff is recording his vocal tracks as I type this!). Check out and stay tuned for info on upcoming shows and his new album!
The Palace Flophouse (Champaign, IL)
These guys are one of the coolest bands in Illinois. By combining keys, guitar, group vocals, and intricate rhythms they've created a sound that is fun, thought provoking, and trance inducing. Their style is remeniscant of bands like the Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Pedro the Lion, and (old school) Jimmy Eat World (like the album "Clarity" when J.E.W. was still good). The Palace Flophouse is fronted by the incredibly talented combination of Bradley and Gretchen Bergstrand. Much to our excitement, they'll be coming to Chicago to play with us on April 20th and 21st. Go buy their latest album "Bad Friends Forever"... I have it and it's awesome!
Jennifer Hall (Elmhurst, IL) 
Jennifer's songs are of the indie rock/jazz/soul variety. They have a classic kind of sound to them... like Nina Simone or Ella Fitzgerald but with some Jeff Buckley, Massive Attack, and Portishead mixed in. I caught her show at Subterranean in Chicago a few weeks ago and holy %$&# was it good! She's got one of those voices that is so strong and emotive it draws you in on a subconscious level. Her band is very tight live and quite creative. If you ever get the chance to see them you definitely should! In fact, why don't you go to their show at Martyr's on Saturday March 24th.
Jack Avery's Kin (Naperville, IL)
We met John of Jack Avery's Kin at Widow's Peak festival last year. His old-timey songs are incredibly catchy and make you feel like you're being taken back to a simpler, folksier time . He plays a very percusive style... he's got a kick pedal attached to a Cajon that he sits on giving him the ability to create driving beats while he sings, strums, and plays harmonica. John plays regularly in Naperville and all around the Midwest... go check him out!
And now I shall relay the tale of Facing Winter's latest exploits...
                Star date: 10/2011-02/2012
photo by Eric Schwab
At the end of October 2011 we did a weekend tour in Wisconsin. The first night we had the pleasure of playing with our long lost compadres El Tin Fun at Mickey's Tavern in Madison. I believe the last time we played with them was about 5 years ago in Chicago. Mickey's was a fun place to play, and it ended up being a great night filled with good people, good music, and FREE New Glarus... yum!! Afterwards Jason Lambeth of El Tin Fun was kind enough to let us crash on his floor.
After the Mickey's show we headed to the Green Power Co-Op in Two Rivers Wisconsin where the fine folks of Music Without Boundries hosted a show for us. The building was a unique, artsy type of place managed by Mary Dryja. Inside there were all kinds of instruments and artwork lining the walls. Less than a block away was the shore of Lake Michigan... it was a really nice day so we spent quite a bit of time lingering around on the beach playing music and reading. Later that night we did an extended set of acoustic songs... a lot of which were recorded and uploaded to YouTube, click here to check it out. Thanks so much to Brian Powell, David Smith, Mary Dryja, and everyone from Green Power Co-Op and Music Without Boundaries!
Here's a video from that night of Jeff and I playing one of our newest songs called "Unknown"
The final show of the mini-tour was at the House Cafe in Dekalb. It's always a great time when we play there, and this night was extra good because we got to play with our friend John of Jack Avery's Kin. A lot of our friends showed up... even Chris and Julious all the way from Chicago! Just when I thought the night couldn't get any better... Jolly Baba (manager of the House) brought forth a gigantic chocolate cake! We all shared in the glory and got this fantastical shot to document the event:

Good hearted and talented people of all ages sharing cake at a bar on a Sunday night... what could be better?
A few weeks later we had our first big rock show with Dan Perdue and Brad Jewison at Cairo in West Chicago. We played two sets and debuted six brand new songs. Dario Giraldo and DJ Von B were kind enough to share the stage.

After 3 months of not playing rock shows, it felt SOOO good to be back to full strength.

To the right: Multi instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Dario Giraldo performing at Cairo

Thanks to Andrew Massih, DJ Von B, Dario Giraldo, and all of you for making it such a fun night!

In November we headed South East and did a few shows. The first was at Mike 'n Molly's which is near the campus of U of I in Champaign. We played with one of my favorite Illinois bands the Palace Flophouse. We also met and shared the bill with some new friends in a band called the Hathaways. One of our favorite things about Champaign is getting to see our friend Todd Durnil. Todd is an indie rock saint with whom we go waaaaaaay back. We can't thank him enough for his support all these years! Later that night Bradley and Gretchen of the Palace Flophouse kindly lent us their floor.

Left to right: Justin, Jeff, Bradley, and Gretchen.

The next day we headed a bit further South to one of our favorite spots called Jackson Avenue Coffeehouse (aka JAC). The place is run by a painter/musician/all-around renaissance man Dan Reible. 

To the left: An original painting by Dan Reible which will also be used for Facing Winter's new album artwork.

JAC is a friendly, cozy type of place... the music room is made of all wood and is filled with custom artwork. The stage is really nice... the room sounds great. Thanks so much to Dan and Vicky Reible for taking such good care of us!
FW acoustic on stage at JAC

Our final show of 2011 was a crazy one. It was on a cold night in December... Jeff was going to meet Brad and I downtown after work. So we loaded up the "trusty" band van and headed out at about 5:30pm. At about 6:30pm the van stalled out on I-290 about two miles from the venue. Unfortunately this had happened several times before... and we knew from experience that it would take at least 45 minutes before it would start again. So we waited. And waited. Then waited some more. But no luck. Eventually one of those gigantor big-city police tow trucks came and informed us he would have to tow us off the interstate. So that's what he did... and I got to ride in the van while he towed us... which was pretty awesome. Here's quick little video from part of the ride:

The tow truck driver was really nice so we gave him a copy of "Gifts from Gravity". Sadly, the van never restarted for us that night. A commercial tow truck came and we had to have it towed all the way back to West Chicago. Thankfully, we were able to transfer all the equipment out of the van and into other cars... slowly but surely we made our way to the venue (called Stage Bar). After a couple beers the transportation ordeal was forgotten and it turned into a really good night... one of our best attended Chicago shows of the year... sure glad we made it!
For most of December and January we focused on recording and various other projects. I filled in the gaps by going on an open mic rampage. Those of you familiar with the open mic scene know there's probably no better way to make new friends and try out new songs.
Our first official show of 2012 was at a fun little house-venue in Chicago called Polite Elephant. It was a very relaxing night and the perfect way to kick off 2012.
This month (February) has been extra fun and productive. We did a three hour show at Muldoon's in Wheaton a few weeks ago. It's been a long time since we did an extended set like that... it felt great!
After that we played at Cairo in West Chicago with our new friends BeCo, the Peachtree, and Aaron Kenny. It was one of my favorite shows in awhile... all the bands were awesome and it was great hanging out with our hometown homies.
So that about brings us up to date... For the rest of the Winter and into the Spring we'll be working on finishing up our 6 song EP... we're hoping to have it done by late April and it'll be released with the music video for our song "October". Silmultaneously we're also working on a new full length album which will (hopefully) be released by late Summer or early Fall.
In conclusion, I'd like to leave you with a special performance by Whole Hill Will... which was one of the highlights of fall 2010 and the hardest I've laughed in a long time... enjoy:
(if you watch carefully you'll notice he gets so disoriented that he starts rolling back up the hill!)
Thanks Will! You rock.
And thank you all so much for the friendship and support! Hope to see you soon,