Monday, October 26, 2009

Drowning in Benzene

It's just been one of those productive days, and I present you with discovery #3, Benzene. Out of Melbourne, Australia, Benzene deliver a sucker-punch to your left temple, bringing down the house with harsh vocals, pulse-pounding drums, and sick guitar riffing. Benzene completed their debut EP, In the Red, in 2003, and although the EP had such amazing tracks as "Magical" and "Jumpstart" (really, "Magical" just has one of those great choruses tied in perfectly with a face-melting guitar solo and drums that would make you shiver), they lost some momentum due to line-up changes at the end of the tour in support for the EP. But now their back with a brand new line-up, a new album, and a fury that's ready for the world.
Comprising founding members Michael Bonanzinga (lead vocals and guitar) and Ben Ferrara (drums), and new members Paul Hillier (guitars) and Jason Armstrong (bass), Benzene proves they are a force to be reckoned with from the first track off their new album, the title track "Electric DNA." Riding in on Hillier's and Bonanzinga's incredible guitar riffing, the song takes off on the back of Armstrong's tight fretwork, and Ferrara's apocalyptic drumming. The only thing that makes the song any better, besides the signature guitar riff that pervades the song is Bonanzinga's hardcore vocals that make me think of GNR pumped up with grunge-heavy guitars. 
Hillier and Bonanzinga then launch into the next number, "I Got Bored" and as Armstrong and Ferrara join in, the song quickly joins AC/DC on the highway to Hell. The guitar in this song is only further enhanced and shown up by the sick solo half-way through that lets the rest of the world know that the guitarists in Benzene are to be taken seriously. But Armstrong isn't far behind, his bass notes like blunt blows to the head as Ferrara Keith Moon's the hell out of his drumkit. If I had to pick a second song from this album as my favorite, this would be the one. It's loud, it's thrashing, it's fantastic. 
The last couple songs I listen to from Electric DNA are "City Bug," fast, guitar-driven song which showcases Ferrara's drumming abilities especially well alongside Hillier's solo riffing, and "The Gig Is Up," a fiery track which starts on Hillier's grunged-out guitar notes, and continues all the way to the top with Bonanzinga's coarse vocals and Armstrong's rhythmic bass lines. Why these guys aren't as huge as Seether, Hinder, or Theory of a Deadman is beyond me, cuz I think their fucking incredible. One thing's for sure: if I had my own record label, I'd sign these guys in a heartbeat. 

Sounds Like: AC/DC, Hinder, Vains of Jenna, Airbourne

Key Tracks from Electric DNA: "Electric DNA," "I Got Bored," "City Bug," "The Gig Is Up"


Everything's Brittle

I was debating whether or not to review another group today, but as I was surfing the web, I found these guys, and I high-tailed it over to my site to write an entry. I don't know what to say about this group other than that their sound calls upon traditional indie-rock, but shoots it up with enough adrenaline to completely reinvent the sound.
Comprising Benjamine Whiting (lead vocals and guitar), Benny O'Dwyre (guitar and vocals), Billy Donaldson (bass and vocals), and Geoff Slingsby (drums and vocals), Brittle rise from the waters of Brown Bay, Australia to shock your sense with ultra-catchy indie-pop rock.
I listen to a number of songs off their myspace, and every one sounds different, and I couldn't fast-forward if I wanted to. First up is "Chinese Whispers," a seminal pop-rock song that leads off with a great guitar riff which falls into a solid drumbeat. The real jewels of this song, though, are its ultra-catchy chorus and lyrics, carried by Whiting's slick vocals, and pulled home with Donaldson's tight bass playing. I've listened to this song three times already, and it's just got one of those tunes that's so catchy, it sticks in your head until the only way to get it out would be to take a powerdrill to your left eardrum.
Though "Hurricane" and "Valerie" have those incredible tunes that just make you feel like you're walking on sunshine (and thanks to Katrina and the Waves for such a great phrase), I personally think "Dr. Ray" just has that sheen that makes me think of Boys Like Girls vocals over Red Jumpsuit's catchy melodies. It's just got that "dunna, dunna, dun, dunna, dunna, dunna, dun, dun" guitar riff that you wouldn't wanna stop humming anytime soon.
Though their demo of a new song, "Give Me Some Air," is also catchy and upbeat, the last song in the playlist is the perfect way to finish up their set. "Over the Fence" is an acoustically-driven song, with clear and lucid vocals. It's crisp, like autumn leaves under your feet. Just think a nice sonic crunch for your ears. On this one, ODwyre's guitar perfectly compliments Whiting's vocals, and Donaldson's bass tones in the background match perfectly with Slingsby's easy drumbeat. The fantastic background vocals towards the end of the track don't hurt one bit either.
Australia's version of Boys Like Girls have made their appearance. Watch for them. Know them. It's only a matter of time.

Sounds Like: Boys Like Girls, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Mayday Parade, Cartel

Key Tracks: "Chinese Whispers," "Valerie," "Over the Fence," "Hurricane," "Dr. Ray"

Check out Brittle more at: and

What's in the Confession Box?

Everyone knows the gothic rock sound, even if they don't know they do. Everyone knows the alternative/gothic-rock sound pioneered by groups like The Cure and Husker Du, and the alternative-metal/gothic-rock sound that made Evanescence a household name. Some might even associate Marilyn Manson with gothic rock, though personally I think he's just an amazing alternative-metal musician who's shock-rock tactics are brilliant.
But all those people who thought that gothic-rock was ridden out, stretched as far as it could go, and finished by 2006 are in for a shock, and a treat. What's that treat? Confession Box, a hard-rock duo out of Sydney, Australia. Gothic rock has been married to many things in the past, but these are the first people I've ever heard of to really marry the gothic/hard-rock sound to techno and synth.
Composed simply of Alexis Logan (lead vocals and acoustic guitar) and Stephen Harris (guitars, bass, and sampling), Confession Box has that hard rock guitar screech of Evanescence coupled with the cold feel of Gary Numan's synth style.
Confession Box has just recently released their debut album, Tangled Web We Weave, and I gotta say, I've listened to just three tracks from this album, and I gotta hear the rest. Recorded on Harris's home recorder, I'm struck by the first track, "Trust No One." The track is slow in the first few seconds, but picks up immediately with a hard-edged guitar riff, and then Harris goes to town, layering guitar upon guitar, and creating a complex background for Logan's chilling, almost machine-esque vocals. Her voice, though, meshes so well with the guitar and sampling it sounds as natural as if they were all one; a well-oiled machine of melody and grit. The keyboards particularly, provided by Harris, remind of of such tracks as The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" and Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This);" chilling, yet incredibly melodic. And then, as I'm riding out the synth and guitar progressions the way I do with a Doors song, it's over, and all I know is I want more.
And that's what I get, right from the crash of the crash, Con Box launches into "Foolish Games" a sick, rendition of the modern alternative/synth-goth song. I especially love Logan's double-tracked vocals here: they give the track a much-enjoyed haunting tone that reminds me vaguely of the way Layne Staley's and Jerry Cantrell's vocals mingle in Alice in Chains. Harris, here too, is on his mark with his guitars and bass, providing a strong, pulse-pounding beat while at the same time belting out a riff that would make the Scorpions salivate. 
Riding out the last bits of the reverb, I'm pulled into the last track I listen to, "Who the Hell Are You." This one is slightly more techno than the other two so if you like anything Sounds or Shiny Toy Guns, this track will make you go "HELL YES." It's cold, it's creepy, it's catchy, it's brilliant. Logan and Harris really pull it together on this one, barking up the techno-tree while at the same time dragging you through a valley of synthed-out guitar riffs and melodic vocals. A must-hear song on a must-hear album. If their other songs are anything like these, then Confession Box has nothing to worry about, and can look forward to a long and prosperous career in the alternative/goth-rock community. 

Sounds Like: Shiny Toy Guns, Evanescence, The Sounds, The Cure, Savage Garden

Key Tracks from Tangled Web We Weave: "Trust No One," "Foolish Games," "Who the Hell Are You"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Looking Through Diamond Eyes

This one's for all you metalheads out there who've been salivating for a new truly metal band to latch on to. Now I love the greats as much as anyone; Motley Crue, Metallica, AC/DC, Motorhead, they all rock. But I also want my own metal band, one from my generation that can compare to Quiet Riot or Maiden. Now I'm not saying these guys are Maiden. Not yet. But they do have that spark that just resonates with you.
Out of Perth, Australia, I give you Diamond Eye, a Motorhead drenched, AC/DC-influenced, metal band that drips Motley sleaze, with walls of guitars that would make Metallica proud. Comprising Will Kelly (lead vocals and guitar), Greg Fawcett (lead guitar and vocals), Chase Cameron (bass and vocals), and Danny Torre (drums), D-Eye can definitely hold their own in the metal stadium. I listen to every song off their demo CD, and I gotta be frank, they all fucking rock! There really is no other way to put it. Starting with the song "Fuck," I am just bombarded by shrill guitars, and killer bass and vocals that makes me feel like I'm sweating blood. "Fuck," though subtly named, starts with a fucking killer (ironic, no?) guitar riff that seems ripped right from the Motorhead playbook. It just drills at your ears until you're red in the head, and your ears are happily bleeding for the metal cause. The bass is solid, the drumbeat is fast-paced, and the vocals are just so different. Seriously, I don't know if I love them or hate them, and that's what I love about them. It's like Bon Scott and Gene Simmons got together and had one messed-up vocal baby. I think my favorite part of this song though is the slick, Scorpions-like solo at the end. Fawcett does a sick job on this, as Kelly and Cameron keep the rhythm. In fact it almost reminds me of The Eagles' "Hotel California," the way to solo trails all the way to the end. And then it just stops, leaving you barely breathing for more. Brilliant.
Next is "Holding On," clearly the power-ballad among the tracks. Most power-ballads are a cheesy mess of corporate crap, (for example Warrant's "Heaven") but this one just works. It's got the catchy, slow, melodic guitar riff, the soul-bareing vocals, the slow tempo drumbeat, and between you and me, a fucking sick pick slide around 3:00. This one just works. I hope it's not left in the "Forgotten Ballads" pile next to Babylon A.D.'s "So Savage the Heart," or W.A.S.P.'s "Forever Free." That would be such a waste of a great song.
"Machine" is a faster-paced song, seeming to fit more in the Metallica or Megadeth vain, though not as thrash as the aforementioned. The thick, crisp guitar riff, however, is a special point in the song, and Kelly's Axl Rose-like wail, coupled with Fawcett's guitar fretting around 3:00 make this a four-star (at least) track on the demo.    
Lastly there is "Waiting for Me," a sick track that just screams AC/DC with its opening riff and drumming style. I swear, I ready myself to hear Brian Johnson on here, and I'm almost a little surprised when I don't hear his voice. But that's ok, because Kelly keeps the Johnson standard up, while Torre goes to town on the drumkit in a Keith Moon style. Cameron's bass screams Cliff Burton, and Fawcett's fretwork is eerily reminiscent of Rudolph Shenker's. "Waiting for Me" is a solid track on a demo of solid tracks, and brings the CD to a great close. If you like anything hard-rock, or heavy metal, anything AC/DC, Motorhead, Scorpions, Motley Crue, Metallica, Megadeth, or KISS, I highly suggest looking at these guys. Only a matter of time before they're signed and massively popular, so don't you want to be the one to tell your friends, "I told you so?" 

Sounds Like: AC/DC, Motorhead, KISS, Metallica

Key Tracks from Demo CD: "Waiting for Me," "Fuck," "Holding On," "Machine"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just a Note

I'm just gonna take a short post here to ask everyone out there a favor. I'm so psyched that you guys are reading my stuff, and I promise a new band for you all in the next day or two, but the one thing I do ask, if it's not too much trouble in your busy schedules, is if you like one of my posts or something, definitely post a comment or two. Your comments and emails will help me to write better articles, and to also try and find more bands that you all like. I'll check your comments every day, and if you want to email me, my email is listed under my profile summary. Thanks a bunch guys. I'll have a new band for you soon. Peace   -Adam

Monday, October 19, 2009

Alex Pummill: Beyond Any Shadow of a Doubt

Blues-rock legends have in their corner Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and ZZ Top. But now I introduce to you here, a leader in the new crop of blues-rock musicians. I came across Alex Pummill when I listened to his Michigan-based band Chicago Drive, which delivered a cool, yet already very popular style of pop-punk rock. But then he moved down to Nashville, Tennessee, and started writing stuff which just blew his earlier stuff away (that's what he told me when we talked, and I gotta say, this new stuff greatly outshines his already impressive earlier work).
The first song I listened to on his Myspace page is "Doubt," a slick, bluesy, guitar-driven song that just drips out of the speakers and oozes into your ears. From the first lick of this song, I'm fucking hooked. And already have my head going up and down before the first verse even, and all I keep saying is "Yeah!," because I've discovered the first of the new guard of rock. And if the guitar wasn't enough, then god his voice surely puts it over the top. Smooth, lucid vocals, on top of acid-influenced, blues-inspired guitar; simple ecstasy for your ears. And by the way, the clever lyrics don't hurt either. If you listen to any new song in the next couple hours, make it this one. There's just no more to say about it than that simple fact.
Then on comes "The Horizon," a slick, harder tune, that sounds like it was ripped from Motley Crue's setlist, injected with some GNR, and mixed with Cream-inspired vocals. I mean, SHIT, this song has a freaking killer guitar riff. But if that wasn't enough, with a catchy chorus, then Pummill tears it up during the solo. Swear to God, my fingers actually hurt a little bit listening to him shred the shit out of that guitar. When I talked to him about his new material, Alex said that "Doubt" was by far the best thing he's written up until now, and while I love "Doubt" and had it playing non-stop in my room for two weeks when I discovered it, "The Horizon" would definitely be another song I'd go to a show to hear.
Then Alex slows down a little bit with "The Jam," a song that's exactly that: a jam. Just some simple cymbals in the background, an easy bass-line, and Alex tearing away at the guitar like there's no tomorrow. Simple, short, sweet, perfect.
The last song, however, is one of my favorites, particularly because it's so different from what you hear today. "Old Man" is a Neil Young cover, but Alex is on guitar, and the lead vocals are taken by a friend of his with an amazing voice, Molly Jones. Now I don't know if she's a sister, cousin, or just a girlfriend, maybe I'll ask, but I do know she's got the perfect voice for this kind of song. Slow, rhythmic, folkey, bluesy; just brilliant. The dual vocals during the choruses showcase Pummill's smooth vocal attributes, and the sweet, acoustic guitar he plays in the background is so deep, you can sink your teeth into it.
This guy is getting started, and believe me, he's not gonna stop. Alex Pummill. Learn the name. Remember it. And keep your eyes peeled for it everywhere.

Sounds Like: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Cream, Eric Clapton, ZZ Top

Key Tracks: "Doubt," "The Horizon," "The Jam," "Old Man"

Check out Alex Pummill more at:

A Beautiful View of Homebrewe

It's early Monday morning, I'm trying to get over a cold, and my ears are bleeding with happiness from the new group I've discovered. Like seeing the Red Sea part would, listening to this group is giving me chills up my spine because they just can't, and won't, be contained.
Out of Perth, Australia comes Homebrewe, an alternative-rock band that is so versatile, I don't know whether to call them metal, alternative, punk, or just rock. Comprising Kohen Grogan (lead vocals and guitar), Casey Grogan (lead guitar and vocals), Dylan Grogan (bass), and Rory Keys (drums), Homebrewe just take rock music as a whole and make an example of it.
The first two tracks are from their new album, My Own Nemesis, and just fucking rock. "DEP" hits you like a load of bricks upside the head. Riding on a sick, Motorhead-like guitar riff, the song just hits the mark it's aiming for. The guitar and drums would really have been enough to make this a great song, frankly, but Kohen Grogan's banshee-like wails are too much to ignore. They just rip this song off the ground and fling it in the air with such force, it's gone in seconds. And along with Casey Grogan's slick guitar riffing during the solo, you can hear Dylan Grogan keeping time rhythmically on his bass.
But the band switch attack strategies on the next song, "Miss You," opting for a softer side with a hard edge to make their album shine with variety. In fact, the opening guitar notes remind me of Creed's "Higher," but frankly, I like the vocals on the chorus more than I do on "Higher," and that's saying something, because I'm a huge fan of that Creed album, Human Clay. This song is just a must-hear. One of those that's so ridiculously incredible, I could see it being used in a movie, apart from the numerous, Degrassi-like TV series that would pick up on it. Seriously, if you're looking for a song to play in the background of a movie-turning on-screen kiss, here it is.
The comes "Beautiful View," off their last EP, You Will See..., and it just fucking rocks! The double-timed, marching drum beat Keys lays down just has your head going up and down of its own volition. The bass, too, just is a powerful punch to the gut, like the first time I heard The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army." Here, Kohen Grogan adopts a darker, creepier vocal style, almost like Mudhoney, but what really shines is his transformation in the high-pitched, Chris Cornell-type banshee which just screams Soundgarden to me.
So there you have it. From Motorhead to Creed to Soundgarden, and that's in just three songs out of these guys' setlist. They clearly have the talent to be as big as Soundgarden, and as marketable as Creed, so why aren't they as big as I know they can be? Anyone?

Sounds Like: Creed, Soundgarden, Motorhead, Mad Season

Key Tracks from My Own Nemesis, and You Will See... (respectively): "DEP," "Miss You," "Best Thing," "Beautiful View"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Going Back to Yesterday with Kay.K.BayZ

Sorry it's been a few days since I found you guys a new band guys, stupid SAT's. Anyway, whatever, that test is history. But I give you now, an artist that most certainly isn't. A guy that will take Australia by storm, and the rest of the world after that.
Out of Melbourne, Australia I give you Kay.K.BayZ, a sick solo artist, who can make the guitar scream, the synths shriek, and do it all simultaneously with his voice soaring overhead. I don't know what it is about this guy, but there's something that just makes it impossible to turn off his music, even if I wanted to.
The first sick track I listen to from Make Me Wanna Scream is "Back to Yesterday," a track that will take over your mind, from an album that's ready to take over the world. Maybe it's K's multi-layering of his genres that makes his songs, and this one in particular, incredible, or maybe not, I really don't know. All I know is the rock, on top of hard-rock, on top of synth-rock, on top of R&B, on top of pop sound of this track is just freakin' sexy. I swear there's no other word for it. Prince, eat your purple heart out. Just when I think I have this song pegged for a hard-rock, pop track, the synths slide in, and smooth out the hard grooves, and immediately fall into a face-melting guitar solo.
Then we're done, and on to "Get It Right On," a track that sounds extremely different from "Back to Yesterday." This is just one of those incredible songs that has everything: the killer guitar riff, the head-bopping drumbeat, the smooth vocals, and the sweet anthemic chorus, modified nicely with the cold synths. The double-tracked vocals don't hurt either. So many times solo artists screw up their own songs by putting too may double-tracks on them, but here, it doesn't sound like twelve of the same guy singing, it's like one guy with a killer voice, and a whole backup vocalist lineup with killer voices too. Love the guitar solo too. This is definitely one for the club playlist. 
And almost as soon as it started it's finished, and I'm grooved into the R&B-influenced "Keep the Fight." Really this is something Seal would write, but it doesn't bother me so much right now because, it's got the smooth vocals of Savage Garden, and the slick guitar of Scorpions and the keyboards of Shiny Toy Guns. What would it sound like if R&B married Rock and gave birth to Techno-Alternative? Like this.
The last song I have the privilege of hear is "Take Your Time." This one just rocks. It's got the beat, it's got the slick acoustic guitar, and the sweet electric riffs you can just sink your teeth into. And K's voice on this one, along with the shrewd guitar and keyboard riffs, make this a must-hear. I swear, I'm normally of the opinion that many solo artists nowadays don't know how to make cool music anymore (and could you blame me with Brittany Spears and such?), but Kay.K.BayZ has renewed my faith in the good old rock 'n' roll musician. Check this guy out, you'll be ahead of the curve. Or don't and just wait to see him at the Grammy's a year from now. Your choice. 

Sounds Like: Lenny Kravitz, Rob Thomas, Maroon 5

Key Tracks from Make Me Wanna Scream: "Back to Yesterday," Get It Right On," "Keep the Fight," "Take Your Time"

Check out Kay.K.BayZ more at: and  

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Room Next Door

The last group I listened to out of Germany was Scorpions, so when I discovered that they and this group shared the same homeland, I was ready for another taste of German hard-rock and alternative-metal.
Out of Siegen, Germany I present to you and your soon-to-be-happy ears Room Next Door, a timeless mix of alternative, rock, grunge, and indie. In the fantastic tradition of the Ramones, these guys (and girl) adopt stage surnames, and frankly I love the way they sound. Made up of Steve Next Door (lead vocals and guitar), Tobi Next Door (lead guitar and vocals), Laura Next Door (bass), and Jan Next Door (drums), these guys know how to make a sound so versatile it goes from The Strokes to Nirvana in no time.
The first song  I listen to from their promo CD is "Get Out on It," a song that boasts the dirty, distortion of Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick" and the hardcore vocals of Black Flag laid next to smooth, Strokes-like vocals. Jan's simple drum beat reminds me of Meg White's minimalist drumming, which I love by the way, and Tobi's guitar riffs are reminiscent of '60s garage rock. The interplay on this song between Steve's rhythm guitar and Laura's bass is also something that strikes me, as it reminds me of the interplay heard in groups like Pixies and Sonic Youth.
The next track, "Just One Step Away from Here," is a departure from the muddled, dirty guitar, in favor of a more indie sound. Tobi, however, delivers some notes on this with the perfect distortion for me to compare them to seminal acid-rock bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service and 13th Floor Elevators. Steve's vocals on this one show he can be hardcore if he likes, but also slow himself down for a more easy-going song.
The chilled-out aspect doesn't last long though, as I'm soon launched into "Losing the Magic," a song that's got Green River's guitar riffs and U2's vocal style. There's no other way to describe this group with any other words than "different" and "versatile." I love the guitar solo on this song. It just creeps up on you and stabs you in the throat with a sick riff that would make the Scorpions foam at the mouth.  
The last track I'll touch on here is "Lost in This Town." While "Potato Man" is also an interesting track, "Lost in This Town" just screams classic punk to me, living up to the legacy of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. In fact, not only does Steve's voice and guitar sound like Joey and Johnny Ramone, respectively, but the bass and drums also remind me of those classic punk groups. The only thing that seems to move away from the Ramones ideal is Tobi's great guitar solo. But I'm not complaining; it's sick. Check these guys out. Germany gave us the Scorpions, and now they've given us Room Next Door.

Sounds Like: Scorpions, Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Strokes, The Vines, Mudhoney

Key Tracks from their 2009 Promo CD: "Get Out on It," "Losing the Magic," "Lost in This Town," "Just One Step Away from Here"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dies Mali...Cursed Days

Out of Chicago I present to you Gothic rock's answer to Fall Out Boy and pop-punk. Dies Mali are an alternative, gothic-metal band that will have you spilling your guts in cult ceremonies before you know it. Now that sounds very bad, I admit, until you listen to these guys, and realize that they're not trying to convert you religiously, they're just going to convert you musically. If you've never listened to a Gothic-rock group before, these guys will be your first, and trust me, you could do way worse.
Composed of Zoran (lead vocals and synths), Bane (guitar and vocals), S.L.A.V.E. (bass), and Mark (drums), Dies Mali cut the veins of the traditional 3 minute rock song and make it bleed with new creativity and emotion. Holloween's fast approaching, and there is no better group to decorate the sounds of your haunted house with than these guys. Seriously, I don't know whether to band my head sing along in the demonic choruses or go hide in my closet. 
The first song I listen to from their album Mourning Portraits, is "Hocus Pocus." An incredible mix of traditional hard rock and creepy synth, this song has me freaking out and loving every part of it. It starts with a massive drum beat by Mark, and a heart-choking bass line by S.L.A.V.E., then falls victim to Bane's wall of monstrous guitar riffs, and Zoran's creeped out synths and hypnotic vocals. If Holloween had a soundtrack, this would be track one. Fucking amazing song. Like the chorus of this bombastic demonic tune, I feel so paralyzed I couldn't turn this off if I wanted to. It's a good thing I don't want to. 
After the sick pick-slides at the end of "Hocus Pocus," I'm launched on Bane's sick guitar riffs, Mark's gut-wrenching base-drum beats, and S.L.A.V.E.'s pulse-pounding bass chords into "Tear Down." What else can I say about this tune other than Zoran's synths are freaky, and his vocals just hypnotize me. In fact, when I listen to what he's saying, it's actually one of the best lyrically written songs I've heard in a while. With a bombastic chorus that you can punch your fist to, this is one song to play at any sort of protest rally. I can't even get past how sick S.L.A.V.E.'s bass lines on this one are. Cliff Burton, Mike Dirnt, Lemmy, you guys better watch out, this guy is out for some recognition he clearly deserves.
The last song I listen to is the longer "Control Freak," which starts out on a creepy synth laid down by Zoran, then launches into a Marilyn Manson-like guitar riff by Bane. Manson you better show these guys the respect they deserve, or they're likely to put you out of a job. What else can I say about this track other than that it's got the anthemic, anger-filled chorus, the magnetic bass pull, the spleen-busting drums, the mangled guitar riffs Manson would be jealous of, and the synths and freaky vocals that would make Gary Numan shiver. 
If you haven't heard these guys, first I pity you, and second I order you to listen to them. It'll be the best order you've ever taken.

Sounds Like: Marilyn Manson, AFI, HIM

Key Tracks from Mourning Portraits: "Tear Down," "Hocus Pocus," "Control Freak"

Check out Dies Mali more at: and   

Soul Bomb!

These guys hail from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and they are exploding onto the alternative, hard-rock scene with the sneer of AFI and the grit of Creed.
Comprising members Ian Bouchard (lead vocals and guitar and co-founder), Paul "Laffy" Lafreniere (guitar and vocals), original bassist and band co-founder Mathieu "Math" Menard, and Nicolas Grant (drums), Soul Bomb delivers an intoxicating blend of cold, techno sounds married to sharp alternative guitar riffs.
The first song I listen to by these bombastic rockers is "Tragedy," off their new upcoming album. Starting with a strong drumbeat, and a heart-pumping bass from Menard, "Tragedy" then launches into an anthemic chorus cut by a great keyboard and killer guitar riffing by Bouchard and Laffy. Bouchard's lead vocals pick at your ears with a hypnotic tone, then tear you apart when you reach the chorus, and when you least expect it. Perhaps even better than that is the thrown in Nine Inch Nails-like synth-beat, or the sick, face-melting guitar solo. God, it's killer solos like that that make me hyperventilate.
After "Tragedy" ends, it's on to "Broken Down Angel," a harsh, seemingly Metallica-inspired track with vocals that would make HIM and AFI jealous. I swear I hate myself for not writing this guitar riff; it's like my ears are drugged out and having epiphanies of their own. The drums on this are a little scaled back, but still "Keith Moon" enough to keep the song rockin' hard. A particular favorite part in this song for me happens around 2:25, when Bouchard and Laffy match guitar licks, just with one higher on the fretboard. The result? A killer, Metallica-like wall of sound.
The next song I won't spoil too much. "Zhang Philosophy" is just pure and simple a testament to face-melting alternative-metal guitar. It screams HIM and AFI, and the bass and drums remind me so much of Disturbed that it's a little creepy. And by the way, Lafreniere's guitar solo around 3:00 just serves to prove that metal is alive and well. I think Tipper Gore would have a heart attack.
I'm almost a little confused when the next track comes on, because it's so starkly different from the previous ones. It relies more on keyboards than the tracks before it, and the tempo is much slower; more hypnotic. It almost reminds me of Scorpions' "Still Loving You." "Crazy for Loving You" just sweeps you away in a hypnosis of sound, a trance of emotion. Bouchard's vocals on this are so slow, they convey an almost romantic effect that just sends chills up my spine.
Though "Asleep at the Wheel" and "Got to Get Away" are also amazing tracks, the last one I'm going to cover is "Distortion Girl," a punky-synthed out number that just screams club song. The vocals in this song have gone from hypnotic to straight-out creepy. And I love it. If that's not enough, though, try on the sleek synth-accompanied chorus for size. I swear, you'll be humming this all day to the point of it driving you up the wall. Brilliant. I tell ya, if I were a major label, I'd get my ass in gear and sign these guys quick before anyone else found out about them. Soul Bomb just finished their first full tour this past September in Ontario, with dates at Micky J's in Timmins on 9/10, The Townehouse in Sudbury on 9/12, and later at The Kathedral in Toronto on 9/20, and at The Legendary Red Rooster in Burlington on 9/23. These guys won't stay secret forever, and the guy who signs this Canada quartet is gonna feel like he won the lottery when he does. No doubt.

Sounds Like: HIM, AFI, Metallica, Creed, Nine Inch Nails

Key Tracks from Soul Bomb: "Tragedy," "Distortion Girl," "Broken Down Angel," Crazy for Loving You," "Zhang Philosophy," "Got to Get Away"

Check out Soul Bomb more at:

Cube41: They've Got Your Number

From Verona, Italy, I introduce to you this shot of adrenaline to your blood system. Cube41 was today's pleasant surprise for me, and I gotta say, they're one incredible surprise. This quartet take Justin Timberlake-inspired pop and shoot it up with the speed of HIM, the sneer of Smashing Pumpkins, and the sing-along, anthemic choruses of AFI.
Made up of Filippo Cordioli (vocals), Fabio Lonardoni (guitar), Mattia Callian (bass), and Alberto Bonomo (drums), C41 bashes out song after song with dark lyrics and just incredible guitar riffs.
The first song I listen to by them is "Nasty Mind," from their EP PLAY, and from the first chords I'm addicted to this song. Already I've listened to it three times. In fact, the very first few seconds of it sound almost like Disturbed's "Inside the Fire." Quickly, though, Cube 41 move away from the Disturbed sound, and set upon their own formula, launching into a fantastic, catchy verse followed by a bombastic chorus. Cordioli's hypnotic vocals have me in a trance, spinning my head round and round, with sudden shudders at the beat of every drum by Bonomo. Just like the song's chorus, I'm taken over. Lonardoni's sick, distorted riffing resembles groups like AFI and HIM just enough to set them in the alternative-metal/pop-punk genre, yet differs enough to give them their own distinct groove. And what a magnificent groove it is. The only other thing I can say about this song, other than the pounding bass line, is that if there ever was a song to be played at a club, this would be it, no question. And just when I think it's gonna end, Bonomo's drum roll sends me back into a pulse-chasing chorus. Fantastic.
"Nasty Mind" is followed by "Just Keep Walking," another alternative style song that rails off on a strong drum beat from second one. But don't be fooled, this one has Cordioli's seminal hypnotic vocals too, so cold and trance-like they sound like the vocals of the future. Lonardoni's guitar is scaled back a little in this one, relying more on sharp distortion and palm-mute stokes to carry the melody of the song. It seems that the song relies heavily on Bonomo's Keith Moon-like drumming, and Callian's Cliff Burton-like bass skills. Yet coupled with Cordioli's vocals, and Lonardoni's ambient guitar chords, this is one song to not be forgotten.
The last song I listen to is "A Word to Say Goodbye," a slower, more techno-ish song. In fact, if I had to imagine what a techno ballad would sound like, it would be this; slow, ambient, introspective, powerful. Bonomo's drumming is minimalist here, but for the great benefit of the song. Drummers don't have to be loud to be powerful. Callian's bass, too, seems scaled back, but is still evident just enough to carry the song on its slow, pumping bass lines. And with Lonardoni's eased-back guitar, just under Cordioli's lamenting vocals, "A Word to Say Goodbye" presents an almost romantic tone. Listen to these guys. Italy will know them before long. And so will we.

Sounds Like: AFI, HIM, Smashing Pumpkins, Disturbed

Key Tracks from PLAY: "Nasty Mind," "Just Keep Walking," "A Word to Say Goodbye"

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dry as a Can

If you're a grunge fan or even if you're not, and you were alive in the late '80s, you've probably heard of Green River's seminal grunge album, Dry as a Bone. This album, if you haven't heard it, was a major step forward for what would become termed the "grunge" sound. Now I know so many critics hate that term, but that reality is that that's what people discern groups like Nirvana and Soundgarden as, whether they like it or not, so that's the term I use. But I digress.
I present to you, one of the best grunge, or post-grunge if you prefer, groups I have ever heard. And they are as far from Seattle as probably humanly possible. 
Out of Paris, France, I give you Dry Can, a quartet specializing in the grunge arts in a way so many have forgotten how. Comprising Antoine Abinum (vocals and guitar), Anne Lupieri (vocals and guitar), Olivier Crescence (bass), and Pascal Desmet (drums), Dry Can just floored me from the first song with how unbelievably they brought the grunge sound back to life. Seriously, Mark Arm of Mudhoney or Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains would be floored by this group. Not in so long have I heard such sick guitar, with such heavy bass and drums that was put out by a band post-2000.
From the first notes of "Wherever I Stand," off their EP Something Like That, DC just launches into it, with guitars that sound like Alice in Chains and Mudhoney, while Abinum's vocals would make Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog) and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog) punch their fists in the air with wild abandon. I think the only thing that makes this song any better is the heavy, Nirvana-like distortion of the guitar that would make Kurt Cobain proud. In fact, for those of you who are big grunge fans, the vocals towards the end remind me of another lost hero: Andy Wood. Something about this song just screams Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, and for that alone I'd recommend this EP to anyone. 
But that's not all there is. I quickly move on to "Wild," a song that seems to play with the tempo in a way only Mudhoney might, or even Melvins would. And, ironically, there is evidence of the early '90s, post-grunge, here, with the addition of a melody that makes me think of Gin Blossoms or even Third Eye Blind. But that's only for a minute, as I'm once again plunged into a dirty, distorted guitar solo that makes me sort of drool a little, because I can't believe this band isn't as big as Mudhoney or Green River.
The next track, "Leader," screams Soundgarden and Louder Than Love in a way I thought only Soundgarden could. But there's nothing poseur-ish about this song. It's not trying to be Soundgarden, it's just rocking-the-hell out. Chris Cornell, you better give these guys the respect they deserve. I think I even hear a little Superunknown in there. Brilliant. And then I hear a Sonic Youth/Pixies influence, as Anne Lupieri lays down some smooth female vocals before the song launches into a metal-meets-psychadelic guitar solo.
As the last guitar chords drain out in feedback from "Leader," I'm thrust into the last song, "Ring," with a stunning force. Settling on an easy bass-line for the verse, DC changes it up here, having Lupieri on lead vocals, experimenting with a Sonic Youth/Candlebox/L7 sound. With the sultry style of Kevin Martin (Candlebox), the melody of Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), and the ferocity of Donita Sparks (L7), Lupieri layers the distorted guitars with a set of almost toxic vocals that just ooze out of the speakers. Quite possibly one of the best EP's I've heard in years. Every song amazingly well crafted, every song an asset. Brilliant. I highly suggest listening to this EP. It will turn your blood to acid and have you begging for more.

Sounds Like: Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, Mother Love Bone, L7

Key Tracks from Something Like That: "Wherever I Stand," "Wild," "Leader," "Ring"

Radioactive Fusion

It's with great pleasure that I introduce this radioactive alternative-metal band. Fusion hale from Paris, France, whereupon plugging into their speakers, they douse the audience with a chemically intensive dose of alternative rock. Well, I haven't seen them, but I would like to, and I'm definitely sure that that's what happens.
Made up of Clement (vocals, guitar and piano), Rafael (guitar), Marc (bass), and Alex (drums), Fusion produces a fantastic progressive sound that would make Pink Floyd happy while still providing a testament to their alternative and metal heroes, Green Day, Metallica, AC/DC and Queen. 
The first track I listen to off their EP Replacing the Sun is the title track. Interestingly enough this track sounds more indie-rock than progressive, but still offers a Pink Floyd-ish guitar riff along with a rhythmic bass line and snare/high-hats drum beat. Clement's vocals of this one just soar above the guitars and drums. The beginning guitar riffing is a little choppy, but it seems for the benefit of the song, adding to the radioactive nature of the song. The guitar solo that shoots from the speakers at about 2:47 has a Scorpions style to it, though of a more darker nature. Love it though. It's like Pink Floyd meets Scorpions, with the dark vocal melodies of HIM and Metallica. 
Then I move on to "Universal Love," which starts with a mystic guitar riff, like something I'd here off a Sgt. Pepper's-inspired album. The bass in this song is particularly powerful, just encasing you during the verse, as it seems the only instrument being used (aside from the snare beats, and the sparse, Pixie-like guitar notes behind it). This song perfectly exemplifies the quiet-loud dynamic pioneered by Pixies and made popular by Nirvana. It's so sparse and quiet during the verse, I feel like I could almost tear the song apart, if that makes any sense. But once that chorus comes it, all hell seems to break lose. 
Though the two tracks I listen to before it are also good ("The Bastard" and "Life Me Higher" (with great piano towards the end of the latter)), the last song I listen to from the EP, "Muse," just strikes a deeper tone. It's slow, surreal nature just scream Pink Floyd, but what's interesting is the abrupt change in tempo about two minutes in which seems reminiscent of a Rush song. It is a haunting number, yet almost romantic in a way, which just adds to the pleasure I take from listening to it. Also, the dual lead vocals, and the Metallica-like guitar solo (layered above the Keith Moon-like drums and Cliff Burton bass style) just make "Muse" one of the must-hear tracks from the EP. How appropriate that this is the last track on the EP. People say finish strong, and with this song, there is no way that Fusion finished anyway but.

Sounds Like: Pink Floyd, HIM, Metallica, Scorpions

Key Tracks from Replacing the Sun: "Replacing the Sun," "Universal Love," "Muse," "Lift Me Higher"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What Is Human Shame??

I came across these guys while surfing music from other countries. Rising from Toulouse, France, Human Shame are a mix of groups like Pink Floyd, The Cure, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and so many other off-the-wall experimental groups that the only way I can possibly describe their sound is as "mental alternative;" menternative.
Comprising Artess (synths and vocals), Sarg (guitar), Nemo (guitar), and Sha (drums, synths and programming), Human Shame is a not-so-subtle smack to the senses with their weird sound. Weird is definitely the right word, but that doesn't mean bad. These guys just march to the beat of a different synth, and it just works well. In fact, during some of the tracks I had chills running up my spine because it sounds eerily similar to something Marilyn Manson might write.
The first track I listen to is "The Runner," a synth-inspired song with a trance-like, industrial feel to it. For those of you who like anything trance, industrial, house, or ambient, this is a great track to start with. However, I warn you, you must also have a liking for the gothic sounds, because this is not a happy sounding song. And I love it. It's hideously dark like Marilyn Manson or HIM, yet as ambient as Pink Floyd or NIN.
Three minutes later I move on to "Human Shame," the title track of the groups album. Starting with a synth-like intro, the guys move into distorted guitar-driven chorus-ish thing. In fact, the way the guitar distorts reminds me a little of the way Mudhoney sounds, or even Malfunkshun, so in essence, I guess it sounds like Marilyn Manson married to Pink Floyd, with Malfunkshun as their step-child.
The third track, "New War," reminds me most of an NIN song, because listening to this, I definitely think this is something Trent Reznor might write. It's just creepy as hell, and that's why I love it. Sometimes music should be just vague enough to creep you out and make you look over your shoulder at night. Now that I think about it, this would definitely be a great track for like a horror movie theme song. Ambient, trance-like, perfect. Love it. 

Sounds Like: Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, The Cure, Malfunkshun, Pink Floyd

Key Tracks from Human Shame: "The Runner," "Human Shame," "New War," "Eat the Liar"


I came across this group a couple weeks ago, when they were working under the name The Champagne Charade. Now they're Marisette, and they have something to say.
Now because they have a female lead vocalist, so many people, music critics especially, would just be itching to compare them to already known acts; Evanescence, Paramore, Flyleaf, and on and on. But listening to these guys (and girl), the thing that occurs to me is that they're not like these other groups. They have their own style, their own sound, and their own groove.
Composed of Saetia (lead vocals), Rob (guitar), JD (guitar), Nick (bass), and Paulie (drums), Marisetta features strong female vocals over layered guitar and rolling drums to produce a very hard-rock, yet not too overpowering sound.
The first song I listen to is "Chasing Down the Sunset," (in fact this was the song that kindled my interest in them a few weeks ago). Starting with a crisp guitar riff that crunches you, Seatia slides in on smooth vocals amid a sing-along chorus and a head-banging bass line. One of my particular favorite aspects of this song is the sick mini guitar solo right after the first chorus. So many groups use a "proven" format of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus, chorus, and that gets so boring. But these guys know that it's a crock of shit to write every song like that and shake it up a bit. Also the sky-reaching vocals during the interlude don't hurt either.
Their self-titled debut continues with "Death Walks at Midnight," a metal-inspired (or so it seems) song that screams '80s in the first 30 seconds. That just makes me happier though, seeing as I'm a big metal fan, and commend current groups for using the great '80s' sound without wearing it out. Seatia adopts a new style of vocal on this one, opting for a darker, almost more ominous tone, as Rob and JD go to town slinging '80s guitar riffs and licks. Also, around 3:04 is a sort of intermission I'd expect out of a Metallica song, and the guitar solo that follows just leaves me wanting more.
"Lipstick Scars," also, opens with a sweet riff that you can sink your teeth into. One of those songs that showcases Paulie's fantastic talent on the drumkit and Nick's rhythmic bass plucking. Above it all is Seatia's voice, carried by Rob and JD's hard-rock influenced fretwork. When the solo comes in on this one, I just sit back and lose myself in it, drooling a little lol.
The last track I'll review (because I don't want to spoil it anymore than I already have) is "Tainted Blood," a sick metal-influenced track that makes use of the metal guitar solo and full-band chants early in the song: about 6 seconds in. This is just one of those songs I want to bang my head to, and even if I didn't, I don't think there's anyway I could stop.
There are so few times when you just know someone is going to be huge, but this is one of those times. These guys are incredible, and I challenge anyone to listen to them and argue differently.

Sounds Like: Lita Ford, Paramore, Evanescence

Key Tracks from Marisette: "Chasing Down the Sunset," Death Walks at Midnight," "Lipstick Scars," "Tainted Blood"

Check out Marisette more at:

Friday, October 2, 2009

And From Above...Apollo

Is folk dead? Now as one who's not much of a folk fan I might say yes. That is until I heard this group. A punky indie four-piece out of Birmingham, England, Apollo is an indie rock group that revives some of the simple, acoustic sounds of folk and marries them to punky indie hooks and quirky rock rhythms.
Made up of Zak Edwards (guitar and vocals), Mick Fenton (lead guitar), Paul Hudson (bass), and Paul Byrne (drums), Apollo delivers catchy hooks and incredible guitar licks all over their EP, M. The first song I listen to is the short, acoustically-driven "M," the closest in this groups set-list to folk-rock (in my opinion, that is), and an incredible song. Riding on the ringing notes of Fenton's and Edwards' guitar playing, and Edwards' sultry vocals through the first verse, Hudson quietly joins on the bass, and Byrne comes in on a nice, chilled-out drum beat. Towards the end of the short number, Fenton takes the guitar from a folk-inspired sound to a hard-rock one, almost emulating a sound something like Stevie Ray Vaughn. 
Next it's on to "Rinky Dink," a faster, much more punk song that blends Byrne's snare and high-hats with a distorted riff set down by Fenton (and Byrne's fantastic and unexpected drum rolls don't hurt at all). Under it you can hear the soft, yet strong, plucks of Hudson's bass, and over it all, Edwards' smooth vocals. Then I'm soared away on Fenton's killer guitar licks, distorted and almost messy, with a somewhat Mudhoney effect. Fantastic.
The next and last song I listen to, "Velvet Sky," showcases the group's pride in their home and heritage by maknig use of a sound I can only compare to The Beatles. And even if this wasn't their intention, it sounds awesome, and when someone says you sound like The Beatles, that's always a compliment. "Velvet Sky" relies more on Byrne's drumming that the previous two, and it's all that much better for it. A straight-laced rock and roll-sounding song, definitely one of my new favorites of the week. And Fenton's Clapton, Cream-like guitar shredding towards the end just shows me more that these guys are going somewhere, and they know it. 

Sounds Like: Cream, The Beatles, The Who, The Stone Roses

Key Tracks from M: "M," "Rinky Dink," "Velvet Sky"

Check out Apollo more at: 

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