Monday, November 30, 2009

Turning Left on Red

When I read these girls' band bio, I saw that their name comes from the term Left on Red, to go your own way. In the true Fleetwood Mac fashion, that's just what these girls do, and every note they play is pure and new, two of my favorite adjectives.
Composed simply of the dynamic duo of Liah Alonso (lead vocals and guitar) and Kelly Halloran (vocals, violin, guitar, and drums), Left on Red bursts out of New York City with a brand new sound from the acoustic rock genre. Now I'm not ashamed in anyway to parade the fact that I'm a Dixie Chicks fan (and I became a bigger one after the whole Bush controversy lol), and to finally find a group that can meld the Chicks' melodies with Bikini Kill's highly feminist and aware lyrics just makes me beam. LOR released their debut self-titled album at the beginning of '09, and I can't believe these girls aren't opening arenas already. They play everyday in the New York subways, and if I walked by them playing I'd be late for everything because I'd have to stop and listen until they finished their set. After all, what's better than a free show from some amazing performers?
But back to important stuff, not my fantasy musings. I start the set-list with "Shop," an interesting, more pop-inspired song that differs very much from the rest of the set-list. Whereas many of the songs are purely acoustic, this one seems to retain an R&B flavor, and it's something that makes this song unique. The funny thing, at least to me, is that based on the title, and the lyrical content, LOR seems to be making fun of the Barbie girls who this song would actually apply to. There is nothing better than some subtle humor to weed out the people who are actually listening to your lyrics from the ones who aren't. The irnoy, beyond the song lyrics themselves, is that this song doesn't seem to apply to these girls. They're not decked out in Prada and Goochi (those are the "in" styles now, right?). They wear simple jackets and jeans (check them out on Youtube). Musically, this is a solid song, and one I'd listen to just for the lyrics, even without the great beat.
Track two is easily my favorite. "Jack and Jill" is a brilliant acoustic ballad with insightful lyrics and an incredible melody. Alonso's vocals are phenomenal here, and Halloran's harmonies scream Dixie Chicks influence, even if it is unintended. With Alonso's lightly plucked strings laying down the initial melody and rhythm, Halloran adds on more with her violin, and this song is easily as good as the Dixie Chicks' ballad "Landslide." With a rhythmic bridge that deviates from the initial rhythm, and an easy interlude riff by Alonso, Halloran's violin and harmonies make this the must-hear song of the album. Five stars easy.
I'm similarly impressed with the next track, "Shine." Also a more intense and passionate song, Alonso's simple notes provide a melody that meshes so well with her and Halloran's voices that it sounds like a whole chorus is on this track. Halloran, too, particularly shines here, pardon the pun lol. Her violin is prominent and strong, her notes resonating with the vocals in the air from herself and Alondo. If these girls play this in the subway, I have no idea how anyone could possibly focus on what they have to do that day. And then the rhythm slowly begins to pick up as Alonso pushes her voice to the limit. Behind, Halloran takes off on an incredible, heart-shattering violin solo, and there is only one word for this song: brilliant. I can't say anymore than that.
The last song I listen to is "High Heel Blues," a tongue-in-cheek, clever song that makes use of a traditional blues rhythm. With Halloran's solid violin notes ringing out right alongside Alonso's guitar, Left on Red finishes their set-list on a strong note. Alonso performs a particularly moving vocal harmony accompanied by Halloran, and this was the perfect song to finish up with. As Halloran sails me out on her faster-than-fire violin notes, it dawns on my that these girls are one of New York's great, yet-to-be-discovered bands. And don't worry, they will be. It's just a matter of when and how.

Sounds Like: Dixie Chicks, The Wreckers, Meg and Dia, Tegan and Sara

Key Tracks from Left on Red: "Jack and Jill," "Shine," "High Heel Blues," "Shop"

Check at Left on Red more at: and

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Don't Get Much Sleep with Alexis Blue

I started today really late, being that I was up really late last night. That being the case, I didn't think I'd have the time to find someone I really liked, because there are only so many hours in the day. I shouldn't have worried though, because as soon as I came across these guys, everything was great, and it's probably due to their upbeat, pop melodies. Usually I'm very critical of such sound in the rock genre because people tend to overdo it, and then we're stuck with something like 'N Synch. But these guys provide just the right about of pop to their songs, and everything works perfectly.
Out of Liverpool, England, they are Alexis Blue, an indie-rock quartet that exudes catchy tunes and soulful lyrics. Composed of Andeh Stewart (lead vocals, guitar, and keyboards), Paul Easton (lead guitar and vocals), Tom McCarron (bass and vocals), and Mark Easton (drums, cowbell, and vocals), Alexis Blue certainly have what it takes to be the next Smiths, or perhaps even Oasis, depending on their musical direction.
Though, I listen to a number of singles and EP tracks, they all tell me that Alexis Blue is one of Liverpool's best kept secrets. The first I listen to is "Your Easy Life," an indie-inspired track from the Your Easy Life/Swings & Roundabouts Single. The track begins with a great garage-style guitar riff from Paul Easton, and as Mark Easton works his way in on the drums, McCarron's bass lines are simple but powerful, and Stewart's vocals and rhythm accompaniment are perfect for this track. It's got a bouncy beat, and soon we work our way to a fantastic bridge laid down by Paul as Stewart lightly sings over it, and Mark then moves from the snare to the high-hats quickly, sharing a great rhythm section with McCarron. Everything about this song is right, and the simple but catchy chorus puts it over the top, and already this group are at 110%.
Track two is the second half of the single with "Swings & Roundabouts." Here, much like the previous track, Alexis Blue starts with an indie riff by Paul Easton as Mark's drumming style makes me think of The White Stripes and The Strokes. Though some would point at this minimalist drumming as taking away from the song, I love it, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Among Paul's catchy guitar notes are McCarron's bass chords, which, when listened to carefully, can be heard keeping the time with Mark Easton's snare, and providing a great rhythm for Stewart's pop-style vocals and indie choruses.
Tracks three and four come from the What You Don't Know Can't Hurt You and Dyslexics EP's (respectively). First on "You Wont Get Much Sleep," we started off with a fantastically ominous guitar riff from Paul Easton. But Paul's guitar notes aren't the only brilliant aspects of this song. Mark Easton's drumming has picked up, and coupled with McCarron's bass lines which are now out in the open, send "shivers down my spine," to use an appropriate line from the song. Stewart's vocals fit the melody perfectly, and his rhythm guitar parts are right where they should be. If all that doesn't impress you though, Paul Easton's sick indie guitar solo will definitely push you over the edge for sure. And if "You Won't Get Much Sleep" isn't enough for you, try on "Dyslexics of the World" for size. It's a fantastically snare-driven song, and hear Mark Easton's and McCarron's tightly synched rhythm section shines. Starting on a brilliant drum roll, we're soon launched into a melodious track, and Paul Easton's riffs take us away as Stewart's vocals and lyrics serenade us into oblivion. If any track should wrap up a demo EP, this is it.
Normally I finish the review with four songs, but today I'm going to expand it one song more, simply because this one is newer, and just so different from their previous songs. The last track I listen to is "Passive Agressive" from the single version of the song. Among the more pop-inspired guitar notes here, we are thrust into a new sound, one that introduces Stewart's keyboards as a prominant sound in the song. Mark Easton's drumming is tight and easy, and McCarron's bass is ever-pumping. Paul Easton's guitar has gone from Pixies to Pulp, and Stewart's vocals exude so much melody that they blend with his keys to provide a brilliant sound. It is beyond clear that this review would not have been complete without this song, and if you need any convincing of this group, here's the first track to start with. A fantastic job. Alternative meets pop and gives birth to indie. Two thumbs up.

Sounds Like: Oasis, The Strokes, The Smiths, The Vines, Pixies, Pulp, The Cure

Key Tracks from Your Easy Life/Swings & Roundabouts Single, What You Don't Know Can't Hurt You EP, Dyslexics EP, Passive Aggressive Single (respectively): "Your Easy Life," "Swings & Roundabouts," "You Won't Get Much Sleep," "Dyslexics of the World," "Passive Aggressive"

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hangin' Out with The Coathangers

I found these guys, or girls rather, today, and after hearing their song "Toomerhead," I had to check them out at a place where I could here more from them. The girls I'm talking about? The Coathangers, an experimental post-punk rock group that I'm proud to say comes from right here in Atlanta.
Comprising members Julia Kugel (guitar and vocals), Meredith Franco (bass and vocals), Candice Jones (keyboards and vocals), and Stephanie Luke (drums and vocals), The Coathangers deliver a solid punch to the gut of post-punk Slits-style rock with Bikini Kill type vocals. Don't let that be your deciding factor, though. These girls may share some similarities with Bikini Kill, but like their bio says, they'd rather "crack jokes with Andrew W.K. than sip tea with Kathleen Hannah and her crew." That's ok with me though, since I love Andrew W.K. as much as Bikini Kill (and my sister entered to his song "She Is Beautiful" at her Bat-Mitzvah). One thing I learn, though, while reading the Hangers' reviews on their site is that, although receiving reviews by such publications as,, and Creative Loafing, I have yet to read an in-depth review that truly exposes The Coathangers through their unique sound rather than stringing a few words together that sound nice. That is gonna change today, right here.
So I guess I'll take it from the beginning. While it was "Tommerhead" that originally attracted me to their new album Scramble, I was soon blown away with some of the other tracks on the CD. Case in point, "Stop Stomp Stompin'," track three on the album, which starts out with a very Slits-inspired drum beat by Luke which I love. I've always liked minimalist drumming (one of the reasons I love Meg White so much), and here Luke says more through her minimalist drumming than most people would be aware of. Right on top of Luke's beat is Franco's bass, a strong backbone for Kugel's weird, yet interesting guitar notes. While Jones's keys are scaled back a little here, she can be heard along with the other three delivering Bikini Kill-style vocals. While these girls must hate to be called Riot Grrrl, I see it not as a label for them, but mainly as one of their possible influences.
Their next track that I listen to, "Bury Me," seems to go beyond the Riot Grrrl sound, encompassing also Babes in Toyland, Pixies, and L7 (at least to my ears). While there is an undeniable proto-punk influence here, with vocals like Bratmobile's Allison Wolfe, Kugel's guitar chords have become more melodic than Riot Grrrl really allows for, and Jones's keys here add to the melody, making it a thicker track than the previous. Luke's drumming too, mixes with Franco's harsh bass notes to provide a Doors-like sound under the proto-punk guitar work and vocals.
I think one of my favorites from the album, though, is the very next track, "Dreamboat." Here Jones shines, her keys providing an easy, yet strong melody that Kugel solidifies with her riffs. Luke's drumming is Pixies meets The Slits, and Franco's bass work is Stooges and Raincoats-inspired. A fantastic track the exudes melody and tact, rhythm and power. A definite must-hear single, at least in my book.
"Dreamboat" is followed by the last track of my review, "Pussywillow." This song is definitely one where Franco's bass prowess is showcased, and again the Hangers seem to have altered their sound to something different. Now, rather than hearing Bikini Kill and L7, I hear Robots in Disguise, an all-female electropunk group. The Coathangers are not copying RID, but to drastically alter their sound style from The Slits and Bikini Kill to The Doors and Robots in Disguise just speaks to their versatility, and their talent. Luke's drumming now sounds Pixies-led, and with Kugel's sparse notes, and the lack of a prominent key section, I'm floored that The Coathangers can make such an amazing change in just 2 seconds. This must be killer at their live shows, and I hope they play here again soon, cuz I'll definitely be in the crowd.
These girls are so far more indie than major, and perhaps that's they wanna keep it. But if I heard them, and I worked at SONY or Geffen, I'd try everything I knew to get them to sign with me. Brilliant work girls.

Sounds Like: Bikini Kill, The Slits, Pixies, Robots in Disguise, The Doors

Key Tracks from Scramble: "Pussywillow," "Stop Stomp Stompin'," "Dreamboat," "Bury me," "Toomerhead"

Check out The Coathangers more at: and

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gabrielle, You Sooth My Soul

It's been a few days since I posted because college applications are kicking my ass again, but thankfully I found this angel of a girl, with a voice that makes my soul bleed and smile at the same time. She comes from Bath, England, U.K., and her name is Gabrielle Aplin. With prowess on the piano and the guitar, this girl's voice is like Amy Lee's kicked up a few keys, and opens a whole new door in my head for what someone can do with the simple combination of a piano and singing.
I'm hooked on this girl's music, and the first song I listen to on her Myspace tells me all I need to know about her incredible talent. "The Liar and the Lighter" is a piano-driven track that is like rubbing silk across my ears. With a voice as sweet as ambrosia, yet as powerful as the beat of an angel's wing, Gabrielle Aplin just nails it with her incredible pipes and a slow piano accompaniment that pushes this song over the edge. Everything about it is right. The piano starts and stops, the keys get low then loud, and her voice travels over all of it, a pure melody in and of itself. A perfect song for any pop singer, or any rock artist looking for a slowed-down ballad. If she is shopping a demo around to record companies, I hope this is track number one, because no record producer in his right mind would ever pass up such talented musician.
The next track, "My Heart," continues Aplin's sound on the piano, but this piano sounds more Evanescence than pure pop-rock, and with a voice that's taken on more strength and courage, Gabrielle is just a serenade to my ears. You don't need to be into pop music like Taylor Swift or Rhianna to like this girl. Her chords are so strong that they can appeal to everyone, and I'm talking about the piano and her vocals. One thing I particularly love on this song, aside from the light violin track in the back, is her double-tracked vocals, and the drums that build in towards the middle. Though the drums are not perfect (and I wouldn't expect them to be for an unsigned musician), her vocals give the song an ambiance that just wraps around you and envelops you. Absolutely brilliant.
The last track on my set-list is "Reverse," a song that's abandoned the piano now in favor of a more acoustic sound with acoustic guitar accompaniment. A very stripped-down song, this track has a very acoustic, almost folk ambiance, and it just works. Her voice is so versatile, it fits along strong piano notes as well as light guitar plucks. And with a tune that just sticks in your head, I wouldn't pass up signing this girl for anything if I had my own label. Even if pop's not normally your genre of choice, check this girl out, you won't be disappointed.

Sounds Like: Evanescence, Taylor Swift, Berlin

Key Tracks from demo: "The Liar and the Lighter," "My Heart," "Reverse"

Check out Gabrielle Aplin more at:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

We've Abandoned Our Sea Men

I thought with my last post that that would be all for today, but I was way wrong. The way the last group I reviewed appealed to the romantic side of the rain that's pouring outside, that is the way this one appeals to the darker side of it. It's the way their music makes something so dark seem to beautiful that first entranced me, and it's something that I continue to love.
Out of Leeds, England, U.K., I present Abandoned Sea Men, an alternative-rock four-piece that stretches the boundaries of alternative rock to new lengths. Comprising members Aaron Dulay (lead vocals and guitar), Oliver Blair (keyboards and vocals), Elliot Hillary (bass and vocals), and Will Long (drums), ASM are a fresh new sound on the U.K. alternative scene. Much like my previous post, these guys have a four-song demo that's available to listen to (and probably buy), and I love every song from it. I'll start at the beginning though, to do this demo the justice it deserves.
The demo starts off with "The Way You Do," a creepy, alternative-styled song with apparent influences by The Cure, Muse, The Cult, and other darker musical acts. The song starts with a Cure-like drumbeat by Long, and is quickly bounced out by a searing guitar riff from Dulay. In the back I can hear Hillary's bass providing an almost grunge-like element to the mix, while Blair's keyboards are cold and soulless; a perfect sound for this song. Dulay's vocals approach Muse-like levels, and the sound of the song makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I'm also more than partial to the stop/start flow of the song, going from a very choppy chorus to a very fluid verse. And towards the end, the meshing of all the instruments in an almost chaotic fashion deals a deadly blow to any reservations I might have. A brilliant starting song that deserves every one of the five out of five stars I give it. Definitely a would-be breakthrough single.
Song two is "Admittance," another Muse-style song that relies heavily on Dulay's unique vocal style to make the rest of the song work. But that's not to slight the other members; Blair's keys here are relentless in my ears, and Hillary's bass lines approach levels owned for years by Soundgarden. Then Long's drums take off, and while Dulay chokes his guitar for just the right alternative notes, Blair's keyboards explode with Hillary's bass behind him, and the song is a complete success in my book. Long's drumming is particularly excellent here, with rolling beats and fills, and Dulay reaches vocal notes not heard since The Darkness and "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." A song that continues ASM's techno-rock/alternative-rock sound, and definitely one I'd expect to hear on a greatest hits collection. 
After the soundstorm that was "Admittance," I move on to "More," a song that is slightly scaled back from the chaotic sound waves of its predecessor. Beginning on Long's count, Dulay slides in on a more indie-rock sounding guitar riff. His vocals are haunting and soulful, and during the chorus I hear backup vocals from Hillary and Blair as Hillary's bass lines are soft and almost undetectable, and Blair's keys add to the melody of Dulay's guitar notes. The real jewel of this song, however, is the interlude, where Dulay lets go with a clean riff while Blair goes to town on his keys. With accompaniment by Hillary and Long, the interlude in this song makes it a must-hear.
The last song on the demo is "Not the Same (Without You)." If I had to describe this track in just a few words, I would term it as ASM's ballad track. With melodic vocals by Dulay that you can sing along to, and guitar notes meshing perfectly with key strokes put down by Blair, this is a definite would-be staple during their live show. Long has scaled back his drumming to just the toms and a few crash hits, and Hillary's bass is firmly rooted in the background keeping the song moving with strong notes and tight control. This was the perfect song to wrap up the demo. A great end to a demo that demonstrates what an incredible group can do with its first four recordings. 

Sounds Like: Muse, The Cure, Pixies, The Cult

Key Tracks from demo CD: "Admittance," "The Way You Do," "More," "Not the Same (Without You)"

Check out Abandoned Sea Men more at: and       

Counting 50Leaves

These guys were my indie-pop surprise last night, and as I discovered them right before I went to sleep, I listened to them as I drifted off, and it was amazing. It took just four songs, all that there was to their demo EP, to show me that these guys have what it takes to be as big as Oasis.
Composed of Rob (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Stu (vocals and guitar), Mike (keyboards and guitar), Lee (bass), and Ady (drums and percussion), 50Leaves hails from Manchester, England, U.K., and is here to treat us to amazing alternative rhythms laced with indie-pop vocals and lyrics with deep messages. So no more stalling, let's get to it. 
The first song I listen to has apparently garnered some attention, and after listening to it, all I'm wondering is why it hasn't garnered A LOT of attention. "Wide Open" starts with a cool acoustic note progression from Rob, and as the others come in, Rob's vocals have already knocked this song up a couple of notches. Ady's drumming is easy, cool, and Lee's bass is almost non-existent at some places, but during the chorus you can hear it locked tightly with Ady's kit. Stu's guitar riffing is only outshined by his great backup vocals for Rob, and here, Mike adopts a piano sound over that of a keyboard, and I love this song. I'm listening to it for the eighth time already. As we reach the interlude, the sound is like nothing I've ever heard before; ambient, encompassing, easy, but powerful; this track is a five-star song easy. Love it. 
Track two is "Run from the Sun," and though it begins like the first with an acoustic string set, it quickly moves away from sounding like "Wide Open" as Ady's drumming has picked up noticeably, and Lee's bass is more out in the open here. Mike's keys have a more electric sound to them, and the combination of Rob's and Stu's vocals sound incredible, as Stu lets loose with small note progressions that remind me of the Pixies. I can't even begin to stress what pop ambience this song exudes, and for anyone looking for something strong to listen to, but not too overpowering, this is your song. Definitely not a filler track. 
Track three's "May You Never" is a tribute to painter John Martin, and makes use of Ady's unique drumming style, coupling it with Rob's acoustic guitar, and his sultry vocals. This is perhaps Lee's greatest moment, as his bass is front and center during the verses, and the notes are strong and tight, carrying the song anywhere it wants to go. Mike's keys are scaled back here a little, and perhaps he's chosen on this one to play guitar alongside Stu, who is providing incredible vocals of his own behind Rob. It certainly seems to me like a two-guitar song, and I love it. And the riff about two-thirds of the way through is brilliant. Here, Mike has moved back to melodic keys, and beside Stu's guitar notes, builds a bridge that is solid and full of melody. 
The last track I listen to is "Man on Fire." This track seems like the perfect way to end the EP, as it is melodic and continues 50Leaves' sense of musicality, but is easy and soft enough to leave you wanting more; looking for more; waiting for more. I love what happens right after the second verse, where the song starts building into a frenzy of melody set down by Rob's acoustic guitar, Mike's keys and Stu's guitars, and capped off by Lee's bass lines and Ady's cymbals. A solid finish to a great EP. If I were a record label and heard this EP, I'd get these guys into a studio so fast it wouldn't be funny. Amazing.

Sounds Like: Oasis, Live, Blur, Pixies

Key Tracks from demo EP: "Wide Open," "Man on Fire," "Run from the Sun," "May You Never"

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's a 3rd Rock Revolution

I discovered these guys yesterday, but I was so flustered going to sleep early (if 2 A.M. is early) to wake up for a Bar-Mitzvah this morning that I had to wait a day to write about them. After all, a poorly constructed article simply wouldn't do these guys the justice they deserve.
So without further ado, I present 3rd Rock Revolution, a blues/funk-rock band out of London, England, U.K. Composed of members Andy West (vocals), Mark Noe (guitar), Lee Hill (guitar), Jamie Acteson (bass), and David West (drums), 3rd Rock Revolution blends traditional, Cream-style blues with modern Primus-like funk to produce a truly unique sound.
The first song I listen to by these guys is actually from their debut EP, and just rocks so hard I have to mention it. "Put on Ya Boots" starts with a Geezer Butler-styled bass intro by Acteson, and already it's a great track. I hope this was track one on their EP, because it's a freakin' solid start. Building on Acteson's strong bass notes, David West's drumbeats are simple but tight. Against this rhythm are Hill's and Noe's guitars, providing a perfect tapestry for Andy West's chilled, bluesy vocals. By the way, the sick mini guitar solo right after the first verse definitely makes this a five-star track. It's not fast, it's not overly hard, but it's a perfect track. Something I'd listen to any day of the week. Definitely the best first track I could listen to.
As "Put on Ya Boots" trails out, I start on "A Portion of Distortion," a track off their debut, self-titled album. Starting on an indie-styled guitar riff by Hill, Noe soon enters on a more blues-inspired progression, and already the foundations are laid for a slick, flashy song. David West's drums are minimalist here, but that plays to the advantage of the song. And with Acteson's bass lines providing an easy stage for his vocals, Andy West lets go with a scruff in his voice that makes me almost think of Clapton or Howlin' Wolf. Things only get better when we get halfway through the song, and a dazzling guitar solo bursts from the speakers. A freakin' amazing track that would be the envy of any new group. Two thumbs up.
Track three is "Scapegoat," a harder-edged track that starts with a post-grunge-style guitar riff, and already the sound is much different from the first two songs. When the second guitar comes in, the sound is even more varied, and it almost sounds alternative. Andy West's vocals are way different here, leaning more towards an Eddie Vedder influence than an Eric Clapton one. David West's drumming has picked up a little, and is tight and strong against the blues riffing, with Acteson's bass mimicking the base drum perfectly. This song is so far flung from its blues brothers, that it sounds like something that was influenced by "Even Flow," with Stone Gossard-like guitars, and Mike McCready-esque rhythm progressions. And as David West builds into a drum roll from the high-hats towards the end, this track is 110% new and unique. There's nothing left to say about this track or these guys. I can, however, sum it all up in one word: brilliant.

Sounds Like: Pearl Jam, Cream, Black Sabbath

Key Tracks from 3rd Rock Revolution and 3RR - E.P. (respectively): "A Portion of Distortion," "Scapegoat," "Put on Ya Boots"

Check out 3rd Rock Revolution more at:

Friday Night with The Shackeltons

So I've been listening to these guys all morning, and I just gotta say, they're freakin' amazing. Hailing from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, The Shackeltons are a new-wave/indie-rock band with an amazing sound that seems to blend Cage the Elephant with Silversun Pickups. Fitting, it seems then, that they're touring with Cage the Elephant. I got way psyched, though, when I saw they were coming to Atlanta this Saturday. There's no way I'm missing seeing these guys live, especially if Cage the Elephant's gonna be there too.
Made up of Mark Redding (vocals), Eric Fisak (guitar), Ryan Egolf (guitar), Justin McDaniel (bass), and Sean Hallock (drums), The Shackeltons bring a soul-ish funk to their new-wave numbers, and as they expand on the indie-rock sound, I'm floored that these guys have a sound that's so different. I see on their Myspace that they've recieved rave comments by the Seattle Times and Rolling Stone, but unfortunately I just don't trust big name magazines and papers to talk about what's really important. So here I am, and four track reviews later, you'll know all you need to know about The Shackeltons.
I start with "Get Out," a clearly indie-rock/blues-rock-influenced track that takes away any wonder I might have as to why these guys are touring with CTE. Fisak's and Egolf's guitars are distorted pleasures to my ears, blending new-wave/indie-rock with blues rhythms and garage-rock beats. Hallock's drums are crazy here, reaching John Bonham-like levels, and as McDaniel's bass just keeps pumping and pumping, I'm reminded of John Entwhistle by his style. Above it all are Redding's frenzied blues-rock/funk vocals. I can't decide whether he's singing or screaming, or a mixture of both, but the bottom line is that I love it, and whatever he's doing, he's doing it right.
Song number two for me is "Emergency," an easy-starting song that rides on Fisak's melodic guitar progression as Egolf's lays down a rhythm track. One thing I love though, is the way Redding speaks the vocals at the beginning of the song. I'm reminded of a Johnny Cash/Jim Morrison sound, where Redding here is trying to get something deeper out of the lyrics. Trying to push the poetry through to the audience, and I love it. Among it all is McDaniel's bass, softly keeping time in the background as Hallock's drums are slow, almost lazy, but still managing to find the snare and cymbals at the right times. Definitely a new-wave-inspired track, and I'm almost tempted to label this track at least as shoegaze-alternative. It reminds me a little bit of Smashing Pumpkins through the lazy beat and heart-felt, poetic vocals. And with everything speeding up towards the end, it's definitely one of the must-hear songs on the album.
Then I move to "Yellow Cadillac," a melancholy-esque song that starts, like the previous, on a few slow guitar notes. But then McDaniel and Hallock crash in together, and with Hallock's movements on the snare and toms, it slowly builds into an amazing speed, with Egolf laying down a rhythm and Fisak following suit. Redding's vocals here, too, at more poetic, less sing-songy, and with this music, I wouldn't have it any other way. They fit brilliantly, and his voice is just raspy enough to grab my attention without alienating me with roars. I love the stop-start tempo of the song, making use of the Pixies quiet-loud dynamic, and the great, melodic guitar riff towards the end doesn't hurt either. Brilliant song.
The last track I listen to is "Madeline," and from second one, it starts with a fantastic bass line from McDaniel. Then Hallock builds in on the kit, and Fisak and Egolf lay down perfectly synched guitars to provide Redding with a stage for his harsh, new-wave/indie vocals. What I love most about this track, besides the catchy guitar riffing, is the incredible ambiance it exudes. It just feels like you're falling into the music, and that's something that will take a song right to the top if it can do it right. A solid finish to what promises to be a fantastic album.

Sounds Like: Silversun Pickups, Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies, Cage the Elephant

Key Tracks from The Shackeltons: "Emergency," "Get Out," "Yellow Cadillac," "Madeline"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shattered Into Ten Thousand Pieces

After having such a hard weekend, followed by most of a hard week, it was great to find that ska group yesterday that just chilled me out and let me let off some steam. The week's gotten even better with my discovery today, Ten Thousand Pieces (sometimes stylized as 10,000 Pieces).
Out of Haworth, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, TTP are an indie-rock four-piece comprising members Ben Guest (vocals and guitar), Chris Jackson (guitars and keyboards), Jason Cherryholme (bass), and John Holmes (drums and percussion). The four-piece just recently released a four-track demo, and after listening to the whole set-list, I knew these guys were meant for big things.
But let's go back to the beginning of the demo which starts with "Sailing Alone," an indie-rock piece with an alternative edge. The song begins with Jackson's guitar notes ringing clearly against the backdrop of Cherryholme's smooth bass lines and Holmes' easy-going drum beats. Above the chilled out music are Guest's vocals (and with it his guitar playing). It's almost hypnotic listening to it. There's no one thing that makes these guys any different from anyone else. It's the whole band together that give a song that could be easily misconstrued as a U2 or Muse track something that stands out against all other artists in the indie/alternative light. It's melodic, it's ambient, and it just works all around. A solid, solid song to begin a demo with. 
Song two is "Chasing Dreams," an almost acoustic track that begins amid rain on a rooftop. But the acoustic sound is soon evolved with Jackson's entrance on solid-body electric guitar. Holmes soon comes in, too, on his snare as Cherryholme's bass mimics his tom and snare beats. Guest's vocals here, again, are melodic enough to appeal to those listeners looking for something familiar, but also unique enough to appeal to the listener who wants something new and different. Guest's guitar, also, augments Jackson's well, and the two-guitar sound is neither drawn out here, nor set to mimic something already produced by another group. 
As the rain fades us out again, "Turn the Lights Out" begins. More abrasive from the start than the previous two tracks, Jackson's guitar on this one adopts a more alternative, less indie note progression, as Guest's guitar sets down a solid rhythm track. Holmes is more liberal with his use of the cymbals here, and Cherryholme's bass has double-timed in its beats, moving the song along at a faster pace. With drums rolls and fills by Holmes providing a shaking of the rust at the beginning of every chorus, Guest's voice meshes brilliantly with the music, and this track has quickly become one of the best I've heard in a while. One thing I also love about this song is its change in beat and rhythm on the chorus, where it adopts a bouncier meter. The juxtaposition of this against a more lax verse makes "Turn the Lights Out" a solid track for the demo.
The last track on the demo, "My Life," is a rock-solid wrap-up. Starting on Holmes' drum rolls and Cherryholme's again double-timed bass lines, Jackson's guitar is melodic yet strong, with great rhythm guitar accompaniment by Guest. Also, the vocals here are brilliantly clear and pasted over the fantastic solo Jackson lays down towards the end, making this song a definite must-hear. Two thumbs up. 

Sounds Like: Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Posies, The Smiths

Key Tracks from demo CD: "My Life," "Chasing Dreams," "Sailing Alone," "Turn the Lights Out"

Check out Ten Thousand Pieces more at: and  

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And We'll Abandin All Hope

Sorry it's been a few days since my last post guys. It was a hard weekend. But never mind that now. I'm posting today to talk about a sick ska-punk/pop-punk band out of Canada.
Coming from Fort McMurray, Alberta, Abandin All Hope are a ska-punk four-piece with a hardcore sound and melodies that will make your ears bleed happiness. Comprising members Tyler Goudreau (vocals and guitar), Joey Delusong (guitar and vocals), Darren Ehler (bass and vocals), and Steve Crowe (drums), Abandin All Hope's album Victims of a Mockery was released at the beginning of last year, but is so amazing still, chock-full of ska beats and pop-punk melodies that blend hardcore and ska-punk influences seemlessly, that I had to write about it.
The first song I listen to from the album is "Lasso," a fast-paced track that begins with a hardcore guitar riff shared by Goudreau and Delusong. Soon Goudreau's voice is heard in a fierce sneer above the guitar track, and Ehler's bass lines crash in at the same time that Crowe starts to own the drums. The guitar in this song is brilliant. Every note works, planned perfectly. The drumming, also, is one of the highlights here. Crowe's chops are right where they need to be, with the intensity of a metal-head, but the precision of a progressive rocker. The song ends on Goudreau's roar mixing with his smoother vocals. Very different. Very original.
Then it's on to "Liars and Deceivers." This track is much more ska-influenced than the first, and it works brilliantly. Ehler's bass here can be heard in a very Nirvana-like fashion while Goudreau's vocals scream (pardon the pun) Less Than Jake, and Delusong's guitar clearly bleeds Sublime influences. Crowe's drumming here reminds me of LP's from Yellowcard. All around a great track that you just have to hear to understand.
"Pack All Your Shit" begins with an interesting guitar riff that seems metal-influenced to me, but soon we move away from metal and right to a pop-punk, Sum 41 sound with Goudreau's vocals fitting perfectly, while Crowe and Ehler are tightly locked and at the top of their game. Delusong, here, occupies himself with keeping the song moving with clean riffs and well spaced palm-mutes. Not a long song, or one with any sort of deep meaning. But still a great, fist-pumping song to get your blood moving.
The last track I treat myself to is "The One." Right from the beginning, Goudreau's vocals are melodic and strong. The other guys provide a great back for this. Next to Goudreau's guitar, Delusong lays down another pop-punk-influenced progression, while Ehler's bass is hard-notched in the background, and Crowe is going Keith Moon all over the drums. I like how the song slows down a little towards the middle, then picks up, and just shoots you right to the end. A great track that would be the perfect ending song for any set-list.

Sounds Like: Sublime, Less Than Jake, Sum 41, Amber Pacific

Key Tracks from Victims of a Mockery: "Lasso," "Liars and Deceivers," "The One," "Pack All Your Shit"

Check out Abandin All Hope more at: and

Friday, November 13, 2009

Elsewhere and the Bumble fly

It's a little while past noon, and I have a killer headache, but for some reason, listening to this group is helping it. I came across these guys about a day ago, but got so caught up with listening to them, I forgot to write about them. That changes today though.
So out Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, this is Elsewhere and the Bumble fly, a group I can only describe as psychadelic/alternative/twisted-folk-rock. Comprised of Elsewhere (lead vocals and lyricist), Bumble (acoustic and electric guitars), and Lezak (electric guitar), EBF's sound is so unique that I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like it.
Starting with the song "Darktime," I listen to their album Spell on U, and it's one of the most incredible things I've heard in a very long time. "Darktime" has a psychadelic effect to it, and starts on a guitar riff that is, in all senses of the word, magical. Elsewhere's vocals are creepy and prefect, and Bumble's guitar riffing is perfectly rounded off by Lezak's note progressions. This song's guitar solo is just sick, and Elsewhere's vocals are so trance-like that I feel like I'm listening to The Doors or Pink Floyd. A freaking amazing song for a crazy, out-there, brilliant album.
Track two for me is "Wonderwhy," a creepy, seemingly Marilyn Manson-inspired song with a swaying rhythm that Elsewhere uses to his advantage with melodic vocals while Bumble's and Lezak's guitar notes provide a certain sense of the unknown to the song. It reminds me a lot of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun," actually. The other effects in the song give it a Smashing Pumpkins-like sound, and really this track is so unique, I just don't have any other way of describing it. It's slow, it's rhythmic, and it's a brilliant song to meditate the meaning of life to. If that's a little too much for you though, it's still definitely a song you can be happy just listening to.
Then, as "Wonderwhy" peters out, "Circus Ride" comes on, and I suddenly understand why these guys call themselves twisted-folk. This one, though providing a brilliant platform for Elsewhere's vocals, showcases Bumble's guitar prowess, and Lezak's riffing, as it is entirely guitar centered. The guitar was so different that I felt like I was at a carnival, in a big-top tent, watching trapeze artists fly above my head. A brilliant song that actually does take you on a ride through the circus, this track definitely gets two thumbs up.
Track four, the last track I listen to, continues the circus theme in "The Sadfool." But we soon move away from the circus organ and then Bumble's guitar comes in, and it'a already promising to be an amazing track. Then amidst citar-sounding notes from Lezak, Elsewhere's vocals are more than hypnotic, and I'm serenaded into a psychadelic stupor. Just a great, Pink Floyd-esque song.
Though I'd love to sit here and describe every track, two things come to mind. First, it wouldn't do the tracks the justice they deserve. And second, why ruin the album for you guys. Go out, listen to it, and try and tell me it's not one of the most unique things you've ever heard.

Sounds Like: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Smashing Pumpkins

Key Tracks from Spell on U: "Darktime," "Wonderwhy," "Circus Ride," "The Sadfool"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Is a Dry County

So far here, I've blogged about all groups hard-rock, heavy metal, gothic-rock, alternative, indie, and so on. But today I'm going to write about a group from a completely different sub-genre of rock. Out of Toronto, Canada, Dry County is a country-rock/southern-rock band with a hard edge and a southern sneer (which is kinda funny, because south of Canada is the northern U.S. lol).
Comprising members Jeff Gallagher (lead vocals), Randy Solski (guitar and vocals), Donald Laframbois (keyboards and vocals), Keith Silver (bass and vocals), and Uncle Dik (drums), Dry County sounds like AC/DC meets Alabama.  
Track one from their album Waitin on Hank is "God Loves All His Rednecks," and aside from enjoying the title very much, the track itself is solid. The track rides on an easy beat set down by Dik, and Gallagher's vocals from the very beginning scream Nashville or Memphis, not Toronto in any way. Solski's guitar, though, is no country twang. It's a hard-edged, Lynyrd Skynyrd riff on top of an Allman Brothers-like bass line put down by Silver. Laframbois's keys are scaled back a little, but then it's so easy to hear his backing vocals and they just make this song sing. Another great asset to this track is the banjo in the background. These guys have found a way to make the banjo rock, and no one's done that since the Dixie Chicks years ago. Written with solid, lucid lyrics, and with rock-hard vocals, "God Loves All His Rednecks" is a brilliant start to what promises to be a new kind of country-rock album.
The jam continues with "Cowboy Up," a riff-driven track where Solski shines from the very first notes. Then Silver's bass lines lock tightly with Dik's snare and toms, and as Laframbois lays down a few keys in the background, Gallagher cowboys up, and already this track fucking rocks. Everything about this track is right. The guitar just builds and builds, and the backing vocals by Solski, Laframbois, and Silver knock it into another stratosphere as Gallagher brings us home amid incredible drum fills from Dik. 
Track three's "Straight Up on the Rox" begins like the previous, on a scathing guitar progression, with incredibly melodic vocals by Gallagher. Solski particularly shines here: every chord is played perfectly, and there are no do-overs needed. Dik's drumming is a little easier here, taking his cue from Solski's country axe, and Silver's bass just keeps us pumping along. Solski makes this song something else with a bridge that just sings, and you can here Laframbois's keys in the back, adding soul and melody to a rocking song. A song for any bar, any drink, anytime.
The last track I listen to is Dry County's cult hit "Waitin on Hank," and all I can do is listen with my mouth wide open. From the sound effects of a thunderstorm, this track crawls from the dirt, and it itself is a perfect storm. From second one, Gallagher's vocals are sick, and just make me want to hit someone, and go "Yeah!" Solski's guitar quietly provides a background, and on Dik's snare signal, sears in on a riff that any guitarist, metal, alternative, country, or indie, could be proud of. Then Silver's bass just has my head banging in a way that Cliff Burton's would, and Solski's guitar takes me higher in ways Creed just never could. What a fucking sick guitar bridge. And as Gallagher takes us home, Laframbois's keys can be heard setting melody in the background. Just a sick track. Love it. Wouldn't change a thing. 

Sounds Like: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock, The Georgia Satellites, Keith Urban, The Allman Brothers

Key Tracks from Waitin on Hank: "Waitin on Hank," "Cowboy Up," "Straight Up on the Rox," "God Loves All His Rednecks"

Check out Dry County more at: and     

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All Night Long with Sunny Got Money

I've already done two posts today, but I guess it's just one of those goldmine days. I seriously needed to relax after having my ass chewed out by my college applications, and I needed some music that would put my mind at ease. These guys were recommended to me last night by a new friend, and an avid reader of my blog, and when I checked them out just a little while ago, I was shocked. I thought something this chilled out had to have a catch; either you have to listen to it a number of times for it to sound good, or you have to be high to really get it. Not with these guys. From the very first listen, I was hooked, and I'm not high at all.
Out of Miami, Florida, U.S.A., I give you Sunny Got Money, a smooth new reggae-rock group. This trio know their sound, and have fun experimenting with it, because they don't sound like anyone else in the genre. Now many people would shout Sublime once they heard them, and although I am a Sublime fan, these guys have their own unique take on the ska-punk/reggae-rock sound. Comprising Dave Sterling (guitar and vocals), Steven "Steve-O" Allen (bass and vocals), and Becca Sterling (drums and vocals), Sunny Got Money will spin you upsidedown-insideout (sorry Ricky Martin) with their slick new sound.
Beginning with the title track of their debut album All Night Long, I listen to a few songs, and I gotta say, I was hooked from track one. The track starts with a nice guitar riff intro by Dave, but quickly picks up into a chilled-out beat with Becca's smooth drum roll in. Steve-O keeps a nice motion with rhythmic notes on his bass. Something particularly great about this track is Becca's and Dave's co-mingling vocals. It's like a Sublime-esque sound with a vocal from each gender. And then later on in the song you can hear Steve-O lending his voice after a great interlude which rides on Dave's guitar riffing and Steve-O's bass lines.
Track two on my set-list is "Venemous," also clearly a drug-oriented song, but seemingly better for it lol. I personally love Dave's pick-slide in in the beginning of the song, and Becca's stop-start rhythm on the drums drives me nuts. But if I were to pick out something that just drives me into the stratosphere, it would have to be Dave's clearly metal-inspired guitar solo, building on the foundation set for him by Steve-O's pumping bass, and Becca's perfectly timed drums. Also, on this one as well, I love the male-female co-lead vocals.
Then it's on to "Sexy Games," also from the All Night Long. Here, I particularly love the way Dave's guitar melds with Becca's drumming. It seems minimalist in nature, almost Meg White-like, but the fact that she's not killing them like Keith Moon or John Bonham would just serves to further the chillaxed sound of the song. Definitely a song I'd love te hear by the pool on a hot summer day. It grooves, it relaxes, and I love it.
Now, although I'd love to sit here and spew about every track from the album that I listened to, like "Tonight" and "Pressure to Be Beautiful," I feel like it would serve you guys better to talk about a couple new tracks they've put up on their site. So the last track I'll review here is "Pakalolo," an as-of-yet unreleased track, but certainly one which will play a major role on their next album. Starting with a short recording about "menaces," SGM quickly move to a soft reggae sound, with Dave getting creative on his fret-work, and Steve-O keeping a good beat as Becca goes to town on the toms. Love the guitar solo in this one. Just something sweet you can sink your teethe into. Fantastic.

Sounds Like: Sublime, Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug, Bob Marley

Key Tracks from All Night Long and currently unreleased (respectively): "All Night Long," "Venemous," "Sexy Games," "Pakalolo"

Check out Sunny Got Money more at:

We Surrender

It's been a hell of a day, and I figured that with my other review before, I'd wait till tomorrow to post my next article. No such luck. Or rather, I guess I did have such luck because I came across a group so unique in their sound I had to write something about them. So I guess in a way, luck was with me, and without me (little Beatles joke there lol).
Anyway, on to the important stuff. Out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, they call themselves WeSurrender, but surrender they don't. These guys don't bend to what alternative-rock/indie usually sounds like. They blast us with their own brand of alternative-rock, and the world's a better place for it. But don't let me argue that, let the music speak for itself.
Composed of Eric Hitsman (lead vocals and guitar), Alex Banaskiewicz (lead guitar and backing vocals), Pierre MacKay (bass and percussion), and Erik S (drums), WeSurrender blasts into their first song "Never Surrender" (ironic, no?) off their record The Only Flag Worth Burning. Amidst a great guitar intro by Banaskiewicz and himself, Hitsman's vocals take us off the ground, and drop us into a vortex of melody and emotion. With a time-checking bass line by MacKay, and cymbal crashes at just the right time by Erik S, "Never Surrender" is a track composed of incredible alternative-rock melody, clear, insightful lyrics and vocals by Hitsman, and a killer guitar solo by Banaskiewicz. As we ride out on a beautiful guitar riff, the song is brilliant. Short enough to appeal to radio stations looking for a single, but also with enough meat to satisfy the pickier listener. Not a filler track at all. And with a nice piano fading out at the end, this is definitely something I'd play during a sunny Friday on the way home from school.
Track two's "How Ever Long" begins with a quiet guitar progression, and Hitsman bearing his soul through heart-felt vocals. Then the rest of the band chime in, and it's already a complete picture. MacKay's bass lines can be heard under Banaskiewicz's unique fret-work moving the song in a slow, yet undulating rhythm. And then there's S, keeping the rest in line on his basedrum and high-hats. Hitsman's vocals on this one, particularly during the chorus, give the song a unique sound and flavor. One which I have not heard with such intensity in a very long time.
"Lacerated" deviates from the other song styles by starting on a palm-mute sequence with MacKay's bass being the loudest instrument in the picture. As we work our way to the chorus, though, Hitsman's vocals and guitar pick up. The real jewels of this song, however, are Banaskiewicz's riffing during the solo and bridge, and certainly S's drumming during the chorus. The number of fills S performs is capped off by his fantastic drum rolls towards the end of the track.
And as we fade out, listening to Hitsman repeating the chorus of "Lacerated," "When I Claim the World" begins, and it's immediately different from the three previous tracks. Opting for a more indie-rock sound here, Banaskiewicz's clear guitar notes remind me of the mandoline notes on R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," and Hitsman's vocals are considerably less intense. But this scaled back intensity plays to the advantage of the song, as MacKay's bass is quiet in the background, and his persussion, along with S's easy drumbeats, provide a sweet backdrop for Hitsman's vocals. Everything about this track is right. Wouldn't change a thing. Absolutely brilliant.

Sounds Like: Third Eye Blind, Matchbox Twenty, Boys Like Girls, R.E.M., U2

Key Tracks from The Only Flag Worth Burning: "Never Surrender," "Lacerated," "How Ever Long," "When I Claim the World"

Check out WeSurrender more at:

I Fight With Bears

I find myself as surprised with myself as those who know me will be as I write this. I have never been that much of a hardcore fan, but maybe that's because I wasn't introduced to the right hardcore bands for me in the first place. This group is definitely the hardcore act I should have listened to first. They totally redefine their genre in my mind, and I can finally appreciate something that has so far eluded me.
So without anymore stalling, I unveil for you FightWithBears, an alternative-hardcore band out of Georgetown, Ontario, Canada. Comprising Gianluca Allimant (vocals), Dylan Daquano (guitar), Gary Scullion (guitar), Chris Martlin (keyboards and synths), Brandon Van Haeren (bass), and Dylan Cassidy (drums), FightWithBears completely recreates the hardcore sound, and recasts it in a more melodic (at least to me) setting.
The first song that picks up my ears from their album In This Moment of Truth is the track "I Hope That One Day When the World Comes to An End, I Can Breathe a Sigh of Relief, Because I Know There Will be So Much to Look Forward To." I hardcore song with a Fall Out Boy-like long title, "Breathe a Sigh" begins with an incredibly melodic guitar progression from Daquano and Scullion, accompanied by rising drum beats from Cassidy. Then Van Haeren's bass jams in, and with Martlin laying down synth riffs, Allimant's growls rip through the speakers into your soul. The sound is like nothing I've ever heard before. I've heard hardcore bands, with growling alongside an un-melodic musical progression. But the fact that FWB incorporates keys and synths into their sound, along with metal-influenced guitar playing that mixes with Allimant's growling vocals, I can see that something new is born. It's animalistic, it's ugly, but also, it's strangely romantic. Plus I love the way the whole song completely shifts time signatures about half-way through the song. If I had to call this anything, the only term I could come up with would be romantcore. Just a brilliant song all around. Love it.
Track two is just as hard-rock/heavy-metal influenced as the first, but with an even more heavy keyboard section. "Some People Make Headlines, Others Make History" begins again with Scullion's and Daquano's perfectly synched guitar riffing, but changes sound completely when Cassidy crashes in on the drums. As soon as he does, three other things happen at once: Van Haeren's bass lines can be heard keeping time, Allimant starts ripping his vocals chords out, but also Martlin makes his own presence known with an romantic, melodic synth progression. Absolutely amazing in a way I can't even describe. And during the chorus, amongst Allimant's gutteral growls, you can hear the others on backup vocals, with Martlin's keys providing the perfect backdrop. 
The last two tracks I listen to, "The Revenge of the Tofu Beast," and "Who Does Mike Hanes Think He Is?" wrap up the set-list perfectly. The former of the two continues the metalcore sound of the group, owing to influences like Killswitch Engage, and As I Lay Dying, while the latter track reminds me more of a Sepultura sound. Yet the pick-sliding on "The Revenge of the Tofu Beast," and again Martlin's keys on "Who Does Mike Hanes Think He Is?"  create two completely different sounds, so it's not just one guy screaming while five others make noise. This is real, legitimate music, and it's taken me until now to really appreciate it. This promises to be one killer album, with melodies and grit that could tear your head off. Brilliant. 

Sounds Like: Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Bullet for My Valentine, Sepultura

Key Tracks from In This Moment of Truth: "I Hope That One Day When the World Comes to An End, I Can Breathe a Sigh of Relief, Because I Know There Will Be So Much to Look Forward To," "Some People Make Headlines, Others Make History," "Who Does Mike Hanes Think He Is?"

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Time For July

I was about to call it a night, seeing as I have an early start tomorrow, but then I got a hold of these guys, and I had to extend my night for just a few more minutes. My last post was about a killer new hard-rock band from Canada, and this one's about an incredible new pop-punk band, also from Canada.
Rising from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, For July are a pop-punk force of epic proportions; people just don't know it yet. Comprised of Dave Hunter (lead vocals and guitar), Jordan Latour (guitar and backing vocals), and Ryan McLaughlin (drums), For July are currently searching for a bassist, but once word gets out that they're hiring, I don't think it'll be a long wait to find a suitable player.
The first track that catches my ears is "Tonight," from their self-titled debut. Riding in on a solid guitar riff, For July just command all the heads in the room, as this one takes off on pulsing drums, and incredible melodies. McLaughlin's drumming is animalistic, and it's perfect, because the ferocity adds a hysteric flavor to a killer guitar riff. On top of McLaughlin's drums are Latour's riffing, and Hunter's note progressions and vocals. The guitar riff sounds like something Lostprophets might drop on us, and Hunter's smooth pop-punk vocals are greatly complimented by Latour's scream on the choruses. This is screamo meets pop-punk meets hard-rock and alternative. With amazing melody, and solid lyrics, I think the only thing that makes this song any better is the searing Scorpions-like guitar riff that comes just about half-way through the track. If it wasn't a perfect song before this solo, it sure as hell is after. I wouldn't change one note on this track. Two thumbs up.
Track two is new to the set-list, as it was just added recently. But don't let that put you off, "Good Times" is a fantastically written number riding on a great guitar progression and insightful lyrics. McLaughlin's drums are even and solid, providing a perfect bass for Latour's and Hunter's guitars, and Hunter's smooth, pop-punk vocals. An especially great part of the track comes about half-way through with McLaughlin's drum roll, grinding right into Latour's guitar notes, with Hunter's vocals high overhead. A solid second song for a clearly great album.
Tracks three and four just serve to further FJ's sound. "Change Is" is a great, note-driven song with screams in just the right places that make you get up and punch ur fist in the air, and drums that keep you on your feet. As "Change Is" fades after a great guitar bridge, "Fable" begins, and we're once again given a great guitar sound backed by rock-hard drumbeats. Not the brightest track on the album, but no filler track either. A great fourth song.
The last song I listen to is "Don't Hold Your Breath," a great upbeat song that I'll be humming in my head as I go to sleep tonight. With Hunter's vocals here, and Latour's riffing, McLauglin takes us home with a great performance on the kit. A great chorus: strong and meaningful. And as the song fades out, it's a fantastic end to a great set-list.

Sounds Like: Lostprophets, Bullet for My Valentine, The Devil Wears Prada

Key Tracks from For July: "Tonight," "Good Times," "Change Is," "Don't Hold Your Breath"

And We're In For Life

I have no quirky stories for today, so I'll just jump in and tell you what you really want to know about. This is one of those bands that was such an unexpected discovery, I had to listen to their set-list again and make sure it wasn't my iTunes that was playing.
But it wasn't, and so without further ado, I introduce today InForLife, a killer progressive/alternative/hard-rock band for the rocker that wants a group that will push the envelope and explore boundaries in rock.
Out of Calgary, Canada, InForLife, with Mitch Aitken (vocals and guitar), Jeremy Aitken (guitars, bass and vocals), and Geoff Aitken (drums and vocals), pushes the boundaries on the hard-rock sound, incorporating elements of alternative and progressive rock into their performance.
The set-list starts with "Diseased," off their album Switching Gears, and right from the start the sound is something new and different. While the intro riff is something I'd expect from a Metallica record, Mitch Aitken's vocals remind me more of a Smashing Pumpkins sound. But that too is soon abandoned, in favor of a more alternative/post-grunge sound, and all I can say is that this is track that is so diverse, even from itself, that I've never heard anything else like it. In fact, I think this would be a perfect time to coin a new term. So here and now, I declare InForLife as the first crunch-rock band. Absolutely brilliant. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: what makes a band phenomenal is how unique and different they can be, while not being too over-the-top out there. And with Jeremy's bass setting a tone, and Geoff's drums keeping a beat, Mitch takes off on a killer guitar solo that sounds like something Candlebox or Alice in Chains would cook up. This song = two thumbs up. No argument. 
And as "Diseased" plays out, "Ugly" plays in, and track two begins. Starting on a skull-crushing guitar riff from Mitch, Geoff shoots the song up with his own brand of adrenaline as his drums come crashing down, and Jeremy's bass provides a perfect stage for the other two guys. Mitch's vocals on this song in particular are top-notch, and blend perfectly with Jeremy's hardcore bass lines and Geoff's angry, animal-like drumming. To top it all off, Mitch's guitar solo just rips through my eardrums, and all I can think is that this song leaves nothing to be desired. It's got the melodies, the ferocity, the grit, and the soul to just shake you from start to finish.
Track three's "Jump in Line" kicks off with a great drum intro, and Jeremy's bass can be clearly heard in a Krist Novaselic-style right before Mitch takes off on a unique guitar progression that provides a perfect backing for the vocals. It's ferocious, and gritty, and everything about this song keeps your pulse up. Short, sweet, and to the point, "Jump in Line" is the perfect way to end the set-list. These guys have three shots to impress, and they knock it out of the park every time. Incredible. 

Sounds Like: The Exies, Candlebox, Metallica    

Key Tracks from Switching Gears: "Diseased," "Ugly," "Jump in Line"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

As I Go Marching with Irreverents

Man, between the college applications that are totally kicking my ass and the fact that I'm hungry as hell right now, it's been a hard night, lol. Luckily, I've found a couple of hard rockers that soothe the pain.
They come from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and they are ready to split your insides with high voltage rock and incredible melodies. Made up of Steve Watts (lead vocals and guitar), Levi James (bass and vocals), and Brian BADD (drums and percussion), Irreverents are a force to be reckoned with.
From the very first chords of "Stopping Traffic," Irreverents delivers a punch to your gut that just knocks the air out of you. At just over 4:00 long, "Stopping Traffic" leads in on a great guitar riff from Watts and gut-busting beat from BADD. Then the crash comes, and James chimes in with a hardcore bass line, and Watts's guitar riffing might only be outdone by the incredible melody of his voice against the music, and the intelligent, lucid lyrics he slings against the backbeat. James's bass just drives me wild, and with BADD on the drums, I'm a happy camper in Hardrockville. I don't really know who I could compare these guys to. Van Halen? Anvil? No freakin' idea. That's how unique this sound is. My pulse keeps racing all the way through the incredible drum roll by BADD, and the screeching guitar solo by Watts. Just a fucking amazing song. I am totally satiated after listening to just this one track.
Then for the next track, James leads in on a solid bass line, and BADD and Watts soon follow, and "Wet Cigarettes" begins. With a a tune that I can really only describe as kinky, I'm shot through an amazing sing-along chorus, and with James's bass in this one, I give it five stars. This one is definitely one of James's finest hours. But that's not to sleight the other guys. BADD's drumming is tight, and Watts's guitar, again, just makes metal magic. With top-notch lyrics and vocals, this is definitely a single for radio.
The last track seems to move a little away from the straight-laced metal sound, with an interesting guitar intro and unorthodox drumming. "As We Go Marching" is definitely the oddball track on the record, but that is not to be mixed with it being a bad track. This one stands out, and that's great. These guys prove they can do more then just copy others. Between this, and the other two tracks, I can see that they have their own sound, and I love it. The stop-start drumming and the pulse-squeezing bass provide a great stage for Watts's killer guitar solo, and hardcore vocals. This track is different, but everything about it is perfect. I wouldn't change a thing.

Sounds Like: Van Halen, Anvil, Armored Saint

Key Tracks from For a Tranquil Life: "Stopping Traffic," "Wet Cigarettes," "As We Go Marching"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Caught on the Dancefloor with TheFlashJam

I've been searching all day for a new group to put up on here. Searching for someone with just a new, unique sound. I must say, it was a long and hard search, but I was rewarded at the end with the discovery of these guys: TheFlashJam.
Out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, TheFlashJam are a new electronic sensation, and once people find out about them, there will be no way these guys will be able to go back to the small club circuit.
Made up of Jamie McLean (vocals), Oliver Banjac (guitar and keyboards), Stefan Candie (keyboards and vocals), Brody Krock (bass), and Andrew Morren (drums), TFJ delivers a new electronic-punk sound that even stations that played rock and rap could agree on.
Releasing their debut EP TheFlashJam just a short while ago, TFJ rocks us with four unique tracks that just keep your heart-rate up from start to finish.
First off the EP is "Caught on the Dancefloor," a synthed-out track that grabs you from second one. Banjac and Candle rope us in with a sick synth and guitar riff, and McLean's vocals take us from there. It's fast-paced and smooth, with Korck's bass and Morren's drums double-timing every beat. I just had my cousin's Bat-Mitzvah this past weekend, and I wish we'd had this song to play, because it would have kicked the crap out of those worn-out Black-Eyed Peas songs. My fingers are already bruising because of my inability to stop snapping along to this track. If you're looking for a new song to play at any party or dance, or just freak out to, here it is, nicely packaged, slick, and sexy.
Then it's over, and a more traditional piano brings us into "Once You Know, You Know." But it's not slow for long, as Morren comes in on the crash giving us a beat Krock synchs up with, and then Jamie McLean just lets it fly, and at the chorus we're off, propped up by Candie's piano and Banjac's guitar notes. McLean's vocals are a breath of fresh air in a much overdone emo-punk-rock age, and the rest of the band make this breath of fresh are possible with tight playing and unique melodies and lyrics. Just an overall great song. Something I'd listen to on any kind of day, bad or good.
And now we're halfway done as we start in on "Lifeline," a return to speed-of-light paced drumming and synthed-out progressions. McLean leads the way with strong yet lucid vocals as Banjac's guitar riffs are particularly prominent on this song. Delivering a nice hard edge to the song with his guitar, Banjac lays a perfect foundation for Candie's kinky synths, and Krock and Morren round out the song with a tight partnership of a heart-pounding bass and drums that shakes the rust off your eardrums. Certainly a strong track for the album. Not too much like the first track, but alike just enough to know it's the same five guys delivering an electronic punch to your gut.
The last track on the EP, "Let It Die," features local hip-hop artist KazMega on guest vocals, and is a fitting end to a strong album. Acoustically driven in the beginning, it moves away from the acoustic sound very quickly with Candie's and Banjac's synths and guitar, respectively. Then McLean comes in, and it's already an fantastic song, with bombastic drumming from Morren, and a bass line from Krock that keeps everyone in line. And as McLean starts in on the second verse and chorus, you can hear KazMega in the background, getting ready for his carefully timed guest vocals. And after the second chorus, that's it. KazMega educates us with some real life truths as Candie's synths raise the bar on electronic key progressions. Then McLean's back, and brings us home, as we trail out on Candie's synth notes, and all I can think is what a freakin' amazing song. Definitely a solid end to a fantastic EP.
This, my friends is a perfect EP: every song is solid, well-produced, lucid, and catchy as hell. Looking for something new today? Listen to this, it's got every one of your names on it.

Sounds Like: 3OH!3, Metro Station, Blaqk Audio

Key Tracks from TheFlashJam: "Caught on the Dancefloor," "Lifeline," "Once You Know, You Know," "Let It Die"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Down on The Tree Streets

It's been a long day, and college applications are kicking my ass, but at least I found these guys to brighten my spirits. I'd thought good, old-fashoind blues-rock was long gone, and I was going to have to satiate myself with the timeless records of Clapton, Zeppelin, and ZZ Top. Luckily, however, there are those who love the classics so much they bring them up to date with new tunes and new attitude.
And so I give you The Tree Streets. Out of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, The Tree Streets are a mean new take on classic blues-rock. Made up simply of Dave Russell (lead vocals and bass), Frase (guitar and backing vocals) and Colin Jolly (drums), TTS follow up their 2007 EP The Tree Streets with their new, long-awaited debut LP Right to Stand in the beginning of 2009. Long-awaited made it sound pretty enticing, so I took a listen, and I must say, it was freakin' awesome.
The first track I listen to from the new LP was "Caught Lookin'," and it was simply sweet. Right from the start, Russell lays down a bass line that reminds me happily of the one in "Seven Nation Army," and soon Frase comes in on a tasty little guitar riff while Jolly gets jolly with his drums. It's just got one of those choruses that is fantstic. Russell's vocals, too, just add to the slickness of the track. It is, in all senses of the word, kinky. And the guitar, if there was ever a solo to just go "Fuck yes!" to, this is it. The bass and drums are so sexy, I swear I could see this being the new theme music for The Pink Panther, if you get what I mean.
Then I listen to "Never Enough," a more blues-inspired track, and it's great. Jolly starts in on a pounding drumbeat, and Frase slides in with a smooth note progression, as Russell's bass keeps your heart pumping. This song actually makes perfect use of the Pixies' loud-quiet-loud dynamic, and just as quiet as they get during the verse, that's how loud these guys are during the chorus, and it's great. Because of the way Russell's voice moves with the music, it almost sounds like a country-inspired song, but as soon as you here Frase's guitar, and Jolly's drums, you know that can't possibly be true. Yet I think in my heart, this song would appeal to the Clapton fan as well as the Willie Nelson fan, and that's a huge accomplishment, considering the fact that those two fans usually hate each other lol. Frase takes us home on a sweet riff that you can really sink your teeth into, and that's the end, my beautiful friend.
Now I enjoyed the other songs on the record very much. "Beggers Can't Be Choosers" changed up the sound a little. It was fresh, different, and seemed to flow with the rest of the record really well. "Rocking Chair," too, was a slower number, but the guitar was still solid, and it was something I'd listen to on a lazy Sunday by the pool. Really easy, really great.
The last jewel, however, that I listened to, that just completely blew me away, was "White Girl." Russell's bass is the first one in, followed by Jolly's basedrum, and then....FUCK! Frase shoots us up with a sick guitar riff. And it just rips my ears off my head, and uses the as frisbees. Fan-fucking-tastic! Even the palm-mutes are well done. But when we get to the guitar solo, I'm in music heaven. This is just as good as anything Clapton has done. Not to put down the great Clapton. Not at all. This is just a testament to how freaking awesome these guys are. I'm telling you, if you like anything blues-rock, or classic rock, and you're looking for a new group to sink your teeth into, here they are, The Tree Streets. Sink in.

Sounds Like: Eric Clapton, Cream, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin

Key Tracks from Right to Stand: "Caught Lookin'," "White Girl," "Never Enough"

Check out The Tree Streets more at: and

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Playing in the Volcano Playground

I must say that I have surprised even myself at writing this article. At first when I listened to this group, I was intrigued, but didn't really hear anything special that jumped out at me. I thought it was cool music, but there was not brunt, searing edge that cut into you. But then I realized that that was what made it special, and what made it different. It's not that it is a lesser music than what I review here all the time, it's just different, and as such, must be held to different standards.
And so, with that little tidbit in mind, I introduce to you Volcano Playground, an indie-rock four-piece out of Toronto, Canada. Composed of Jackie Game (vocals, guitar, bass, and drums), Jakub Hladik (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums), Pete Plishewsky (guitar, bass, and keyboards), and Mark Plishewsky (vocals, guitar, drums, and sampling), Volcano Playground puts a new edge on the shoegaze sound, bringing it back from the depths of time, back to our ears and thoughts.
They do this on their new EP Waiting, and from the very first song, I'm hooked on something I don't quite understand, but I certainly like. Track one, "Waiting," is a deep blend of dreamy keyboards and alternative drumming, the likes of which I would expect to hear on a Smashing Pumpkins record. Then Hladik comes in on vocals, and the sound is so dream-pop-inspired that I have no choice but to listen. What's the word I'm searching for? Surreal. Nothing has been this surreal since since Jefferson Airplane some forty-odd years ago. And in the background, you can hear Jackie Game's soft vocals, picking up on a Silversun Pickups sound, and just serenading your ears to happiness. The best way I can describe this is just a wall of sound coming at you, and you just falling into it.
And just as soon as it began, it's over, and track two, "Blinking Lights," has made itself known. Here, Game takes the first set of lead vocals, and you can hear Hladik and Plishewsky softly lending their voices in the background, as all four of them keep the sound curtain up with dreamy guitar, intermediate-yet-fantastic bass lines, and drums that keep the song rolling from one chorus to another. The keys on this song are particularly colorful, and add a flavor to the song that I very much enjoy. 
Track three, "Anywhere," is a little more reserved in its shoegaze sound, but sounds interestingly like Savage Garden, at least in its drumbeat and bass line. But the pop sound is quickly abandoned upon the introduction of a surreal guitar riff, and then Game's vocals make me think more of Gracie Slick than Darren Hayes. Mark Plishewsky's vocals, too, add a certain surrealism to the whole song, and as one Plishewsky goes ahead on the drums and bass, the other one takes his time with the guitars and keyboards, knowing exactly what sound he wants to get out of them, and taking his time to get just that. All four combine to create a fantastic sound that makes me think of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, and since I'm a big Floyd fan, I love it.
The last two tracks on the EP, "We Are Clashing," and "Outer Spaces," wrap up the record in a great way. "We Are Clashing" is less shoegaze and more alternative-rock/dream-pop in a way that The Cure would be proud of. Once again, Game's voice is heard high above dreamy guitars and keys, but this time the bass is pumped up a little, and the drums, owing to the title of the song, really do crash, from one chord to another. But there's something different here. It's not noise. It's almost a romantic sense of chaos and disorder, and there is no other way I can put it. "We Are Clashing" segues very nicely into the album's last track, "Outer Spaces." Here the sound seems almost more happy, in an almost childish way, thanks to Plishewsky's sampling. But Game's vocals, combined with those of Plisehwsky, soon take that sound and mature it to a level that any alternative-rock musician would be proud of. Truly a great track to sit and think about the cosmos to. If ever there was an album to play while pondering the universe, this is it. Fantastic.

Sounds Like: Silversun Pickups, Smashing Pumpkins, Pink Floyd, The Cure

Key Tracks from Waiting: "Waiting," "Blinking Lights," "We Are Clashing"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Feeling the Vibration 9

Hey guys. So sorry it's been like a freakin week since my last post, but college stuff had to get done (and still does this week lol), and I had my cousin's Bat-Mitzvah this weekend, so it was a busy three days.
Anyway, never mind all that now. I've been searching hard all week for a group that will make all this time gone by better, and I think I've found them. Out of Montreal, Canada, I give you Vibration 9, a sick alternative/progressive-rock group that just rocked my out to the point that I had to dip my head in the sink because my face was so melted.
Composed of Stephan (vocals, guitar and piano), Mary (vocals and flute), JP (guitar, vocals and keyboards), Hugo (bass and percussion), and Bruno (drums and percussion), with special guests Hai Ly (cello), and James Cameron Chen (violin), Vibration 9 takes alternative/progressive-rock to a whole new domain. With these seven people at the helm of their group, V9 can't steer itself wrong with Pink Floyd-inspired tracks and Black Sabbath-inspired riffs.
The first track I listen to from their new EP Breakout, is "We Are of No Beginning." This track starts with a pretty cool guitar riff that segues nicely into a pick-slide, and a riding drumbeat. Stephan takes the lead on the vocals, but Mary catches up quickly, as JP finds his niche on the guitar, laying down a great set of riffs and note progressions. Meanwhile, Hugo and Bruno (love the rhyming names by the way lol) collaborate on a fantastic level, and about halfway in, as JP is making the guitar shriek, Hugo's bass is clearly audible in a sweet solo, with Bruno keeping time on the high-hats and base-drum. As much as I enjoy JP's guitar playing, though, throughout the whole song, I particularly like it after Hugo's bass solo. Here I can clearly hear him riffing as Stephan and Mary seamlessly pick right back up with the vocal sets. The Bruno falls into a great drum roll, and we get a rare moment where Mary sings solo. Then to hear Stephan coming in behind her; bliss. We move out on a pick-slide down the frets, and all is good with the world.
Track two has one of the greatest titles I've seen yet: "I Like You Naked." This one begins a little softer, on an acoustic guitar, but quickly moves away from anything normal, unless you count Jethro Tull. Mary's flute is front and center, and she rocks that thing for all it's worth. Granted it's only a few notes right now in the beginning of the track, but she makes that flute sing, and already this track is like nothing I've ever heard before. Stephan's vocals are soft, yet introspective, and I'm torn between thinking of Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd, but then I have to add Black Sabbath and Dio as JP slides in on the guitar in a true Tony Iomi fashion, and Hugo and Bruno lay down an almost Dio-esque beat. The guitar playing here, well Stephan and JP certainly make the statement that they are influenced by such groups as the Scorpions and Black Sabbath. Actually, this track is eerily reminicent of Led Zeppelin's "Stariway to Heaven," which would make sense since Zeppelin seems to be one of their major influences. Then Mary takes the lead on vocals, and later, as she and Stephan finish up the second chorus, JP flies away on a guitar solo that Jimmy Page can fuss over because he didn't write it. And then we're done. This track: as many thumbs up as anyone will let me give. Absolutely 100%.
The third track is a little more removed from the previous two, owing more to a harder metal-esque edge, and less to a "Stariway to Heaven" appraoch. "The Portal," though, still has the great edge that just broadcasts a Tony Iomi influence, even if that part was unintended. Though this track is a little shorter, also, than the other two, it certainly holds its own on the record. Keep in mind, though, that it's only a rough mix, and things can only get better from here.
Chen and Ly don't seem to make dramatic appearences on these tracks (though I could be wrong, and be missing them since they might be contributing to the overall background sound), but I am sure that on the other tracks of the album they must add something special to the music. I can only speculate a sound along the lines of Led Zeppelin and Dio mixed with Apocalyptica and Jethro Tull. I guess I'll have to listen to the whole EP to find out for sure. And that, my friends, is what I highly reccomend to you. Even if they don't seem like your cup of tea, I assure you that with a group like this, everyone can find something they love. Check them out, or you'll be missing out. And trust me, you don't want that.

Sounds Like: Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Dio, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd

Key Tracks from Breakout: "We Are of No Beginning," "I Like You Naked," "The Portal"

Check out Vibration 9 more at:, and

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