Friday, December 25, 2009

Play It By, and By, and By

I discovered these guys early this morning while I was preparing to work on my college essays, but the minute I heard them, I had to put my school stuff down and just absorb what these guys had to offer. A fresh blend of pop-punk and straight-laced hard-rock, Play It By deliver driving rhythms that pump your pulse with melodies that drive you insane with catchiness.
Out of San Luis Obispo, California, Play It By are a sick pop-punk/hard-rock quartet featuring Kyle Dozeman on lead vocals and guitar, Darrin Sarkisian on guitar, Danny "Dan-O" Pozzan on bass, and Ed Marshall on drums. These guys are seriously sick, and even before I get into their repertoire, I just have to say that their music is well constructed, and their playing is tight as hell. The curtain has dropped on winging it; these guys are professionals and they make damn well sure you know it. Though some of their new songs up on Myspace include "Movement Never Lies," "One Step Ahead (So Dance)," and "The Good Years," it is songs from their 2007 demo that instantly attract me, and the ones I want to talk about here. Now I don't know if the songs on the '07 demo were rough cuts, or professionally recorded in a studio, but whatever PIB did, it worked fantastically, and I hope that every other song they record follows suit in this style, because this is a sound that people could really, really dig.
I start my set-list with "Misery in Melody," a pop-punk serenade that fills my senses and blasts me through the clouds on a train of heart-felt vocals and ripping guitar chords. From second one, PIB is synched up perfectly, and as Marshall blasts in on the crash, snare, and toms, Pozzan takes up the pulse of the song, laying down notes that keep your heart thumping and your head moving. One of my favorite parts of this song is Marshall's drum roll right before I'm blasted through a pop-punk chorus by Sarkisian and Dozeman on guitar, as Dozeman's vocals blend elements of Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, and American Hi-Fi into the lace of a brilliant background. Everything about this song is right: Marshall's drums match Pozzan's bass so well it's like one wall of rhythm breaking down your door as Sarkisian's guitar notes highlight the highs of life in brilliant melody. Dozeman's vocals, meanwhile, take me higher through the stratosphere in sing-along phenomena, the perfect icing on an awesome cake. Two thumbs way, way up. The best first track I could listen to. 
Track two is "Love Like a Horror Movie." Like the first song, "Love Like a Horror Movie" continues PIB's dabbling in pop-punk influences, but branches out a little more to the alternative-rock vein, incorporating an almost Angels & Airwaves/(+44)-like drumbeat (ironic, I know lol), and the song is all the better for it. With a chorus that bleeds melody into your ears, there is no way anyone with any sense of melody and pop perfection could not like this track. Pozzan is on his mark in this one, with bass lines that drive you through what feels like a brick wall, but you soon realize is Sarkisian's and Dozeman's tightly-locked guitars. All four guys work so well in this song, I'm not sure anymore if I like "Misery in Melody" better, and I loved that song. This is definitely one of the must-hear songs on the album, and clearly a song with the intensity to be a hit single.
The last track I listen to is "Shipwrecked," a more alternative song than the previous two had been. But don't worry, PIB don't abandon their pop-punk melodies for long, and as Sarkisian wraps us up in notes and progressions, Marshall and Pozzan provide a brilliant stage for the chords and riffs. Of Dozeman, what can be said, other than that his vocals are perfect, and, feeding into and out of Sarkisian's sick mini guitar solo, make this a five out of five stars song. There's no other way to say it; this song rocks. Period, end of story.
But that's not the end of the story for these guys. They're only just getting started. Soon to be moving up to San Francisco, California, Play It By are sure to make a huge splash in the coming months. Keep your eyes out and ears open for these guys, there's no way you'll be able to miss them.

Sounds Like: Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41, Green Day, American Hi-Fi

Key Tracks from 2007 Demo and 2008 Demo (respectively): "Misery in Melody," "Love Like a Horror Movie," "Shipwrecked," "Movement Never Lies," "One Step Ahead (So Dance)," "The Good Years"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Road to Bremen

Hey everyone. I know it's been almost a couple of weeks since I posted about a new artist, but with college applications due so soon, and the holidays, plus getting sick for a few days, I was just swamped with stuff. Luckily though, I found a group last night to help sooth my over-worked mind, and I've been listening to them all day. So, without any furthers digressions, I present to you Road to Bremen.
An alternative-rock/pop-punk band out of Los Angeles, California, Road to Bremen combine sharp-edged alternative-rock rhythms with pop-punk-inspired vocals and melodies. Composed of members Darren Massey (lead vocals), Nick Alley (lead guitar, piano, and vocals), Danny Bell (bass), and Johnny Ashkar (drums and percussion), Road to Bremen's sound showers listeners with a rainbow of influences, from AC/DC and My Chemical Romance to The Strokes and The White Stripes (at least by my opinion). 
I was so floored by this group's debut EP, I couldn't think of any reason in the world why these guys aren't playing shows on Warped Tour, or headlining the pop-punk or alternative circuits with Sum 41 and MCR. Though RTB's EP Foreword starts off with "Oxygen," however, which is in itself a kick-ass track, I'm pushed over the limit with their next song, "Hands Down," the first track that begs to be described here, in luscious detail. Biting the pop-punk heels of "Oxygen," "Hands Down" begins on a slick guitar riff laid down by Alley, and as Ashkar counts in on the drums and Bell pumps us full of anticipation with a building tempo, Massey's Queen-style vocals bring the house down and burn the dance floor up, and this song is already my new favorite song of the week. A song that would be at home on both a rockin' car stereo or a DJ's jam amp, "Hands Down" delivers a punch of raw-edged rock with a nice lace of pop-punk vocals and melody rounding it off. As all four members build towards the conclusion, the floor suddenly drops out, and this song is fucking incredible.
Track three is "Paper Walls," another MCR-esque song that makes phenomenal use of Alley's key prowess, as Ashkar descends into a jazzy drumbeat, but picks up the pace as Bell chimes in with a John Entwhistle-like bass line. Meanwhile, Massey busies himself with combining the vocal styles of Ryan Key with the musical ferocity of My Chemical Romance, and this track is versatile enough to play well next to Kill Hannah, or sit anywhere on The Black Parade. With a bursting chorus that makes use of Bell's blasting bass notes and Ashkar's drumbeats, situated next to Alley's quirky keys and powerful guitar riffs, and Massey's smooth-as-steel vocals, "Paper Walls" is definitely one of the must-hear tracks on the EP.
Though the track "Bitch," is also a fun song, the last song that really sends shivers up my spine is "The Vagrant," a piano-guitar riff-driven song which again melds Queen-style harmonies with MCR theatricality and AC/DC guitars in an unusual, but flattering and interesting fashion. The lyrics are clever as hell, and the melody is catchy to the point that I'll be humming it all night through dinner and as I go to sleep tonight. I know it's been a couple of weeks since I had a group for you guys, but I'm telling you, these guys are well worth the wait. Catchy, clever, and with a sick sense of style that throws back to MCR's theatricality, Road to Bremen is sure to take the alternative/pop-punk circuit by storm. But just because these guys share a few characteristics with some other bands, don't even think of pigeon-holing them in any category. If RTB have proven anything, it's that they're versatile enough to go in any direction they want, and rock at it. I'm already getting money to reserve for Warped Tour next year, because with a sick EP like this, there's no way anyone in their right mind would pass these guys up. 

Sounds Like: Queen, My Chemical Romance, The White Stripes, AC/DC, The Beach Boys

Key Tracks from Foreword: "Hands Down," "Paper Walls," "The Vagrant," "Oxygen"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sorry for My Absence

I apologize to all of you who come and check my blog every day for my absence this week. It's been a long, hard week, with work and self-exploration, and I thank you all for being patient with me. I will have another band for you all soon, though. I do apologize for letting a whole week go by, but sometimes these things cannot be helped. Bare with me, and I will have a new article for you soon. Happy holidays and cheers guys (and girls). Peace.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We're All Blaming Johnny

I know you guys are all salivating at the mouth for a new group, and I'm sorry it's been a couple of days since I updated. What with my sister's birthday last Thursday, and mine on Saturday (yes all, I am now 19), it was a busy and crammed weekend, and I still had to make time for at least a couple of my college application essays.
But now I'm back, and do I have a group for you. Out of the same Bay Area in California that spawned Green Day and Metallica, I present you with Blaming Johnny, a five-piece ska-punk band that puts a new twist on the reggae-rock sound. Composed of Sierra Harry (vocals), Jan Lembke (guitar), Josh Lippman (guitar), Justyn (bass), and Erik Falkowsky (drums), Blaming Johnny have built a large following both in their home state and online thanks to their unique female vocal-ska style music, and such songs as "Help Yourself" and "1158."
But I'm getting ahead of myself, and nothing will do these guys (and girl) justice but telling the whole truth. Though they have undergone a couple of lineup changes since their inception, Blaming Johnny have soldiered on, releasing their debut recording, The Driving an Escalade EP, and following it up recently in 2008 with their debut full-length album, The Yellow Album. Though this seemed a tad Weezer-ish to me in the beginning, after listening to the first 15 seconds of the first track, I'm floored, and all of my preconceptions evaporate.
This first track is "Part of the Club," and from the first guitar riffs from Lembke and Lippman, I'm already in love with it. Lembke leads in on a sweet Sublime-esque, ska riff, and then Lippman takes it up a notch with a clear and crisp hard-rock riff. Then Falkowsky drum rolls in, and Justyn's bass line are strongly pumping away. Then comes Sierra Harry's voice, and this song is already a five-star track 45 seconds in. With clear, clever lyrics and a voice that just sweeps you away in melody and tone, Sierra proves to be a most powerful frontwoman, and the song is only better for it. I particularly love the slow down-speed up dynamic and rhythm of the song, and along with Lembke's and Lippman's charging guitar riffs, Justyn's bass locks tightly with Falkowsky's drum beats as we're all brought home on Sierra's vocals. Clearly, this song has to be the lead-off single for the album (at least in my opinion), because the minute a record label hears this, they'd have to be braindead not to sign these guys in a heartbeat. Brilliant. 
Track two is one of the tracks that helped Blaming Johnny build their initial following. "1158" starts with with a more mellow, more contemplative set of notes from Lembke, as Falkowsky slowly builds in with a more post-grunge style drum beat. Then Lippman sears away any doubt I might have had with a sweet progression that burns me from outside in. Love it. Justyn's bass, meanwhile, busies itself with providing the perfect ledge for Lembke's and Lippman's guitars to climb out on. Then the whole dynamic changes. We go from Alice in Chains to Evanescence in the blink of an eye as Sierra blasts in on a vocal line that could pull anyone from a static stupor. Though not pushing her voice to the same ranges as Amy Lee might, Sierra still dazzles my ears with her vocals, even as she opts for a lower key and lower range. What's the big surprise in this song, though? If the post-grunge, Evanescence sound didn't really appeal to you, no worries. For the last minute of the song, Blaming Johnny prove how versatile they really are, as amongst drum rolls from Falkowsky and pick-slides from Lippman and Lembke, they pull back to their reggae-rock, ska-punk sound before finishing the song with a true hard-rock finale.     
The third track on my set-list is "Pirate Party/Retrospekt," and from the recording of the first few seconds of the track, I feel like I should ready myself for something out of "Fiddler on the Roof" (for those of you who've never seen it, it's a great movie). Then Johnny moves to a more ska-rock sound as Falkowsky amps up his drums, and amid cymbal crashes, Lembke and Lippman fly in on ska notes and progressions as Justyn's bass pulls back a little, but still keeps time under the other guitars. Sierra's voice here is ska-rock, yes, but there also seems to be something deeper to it, as it takes on a darker tone than it had in "Part of the Club." This is a definite must-hear track on the album. Certainly not a filler track, and not one that anyone could call fluff. 
The last song I listen to is "Help Yourself." This song is fantastic, beginning on a sick guitar riff by Lembke before blasting into rampaging drum rolls and bass notes from Falkowsky and Justyn, respectively. Then Lippman enters, and his palm-mutes are just what the doctor ordered. Next to Lembke's awesome riffing, one of the things I love most about this song is when the guitars drain out and we're left with Justyn's bass notes. This guy must be understated all the time for being the bassist, but the fact remains that he knows his instrument, and he's damn good at it. Above all the organized confusion of Blaming Johnny's instrumental parts, Sierra's voice pours a sweet, tangy, sugar of vocal notes on to an already incredible song, This is truly amazing icing on an already incredible cake. Even if Sierra's vocals sucked, this song would still rock. But they don't, and because of that, this song is definitely my second favorite of the night, right after "Part of the Club." I could not have finished on a better track, and if these are only four songs for their album, I'd love to see what else Blaming Johnny have up their sleeves. Less Than Jake, No Doubt, move over, Blaming Johnny is here to claim the spotlight they truly have earned. 

Sounds Like: No Doubt, Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug, Evanescence

Key Tracks from The Yellow Album: "Part of the Club," "Help Yourself," "1158," "Pirate Party/Retrosepkt"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And We're Mod Amish

I found these guys today while just typing in random words to Google and seeing who came up with a Myspace account. Luckily though, I was rewarded with the discovery of these guys. I guess sometimes things just happen like that, and you just get lucky for no reason at all other than taking a swing and seeing what you hit.
An alternative/indie-rock band out of San Diego, California, Mod Amish create an all-new sound with their traditional four-man lineup. Composed of Shannon Jones (vocals and guitar), Mike Drake (guitars), Gerry Matthews (bass and vocals), and Jim Benuska (drums), Mod Amish burst out onto the indie/alternative scene with surreal lyrics encased in meldoic and catchy tunes.
Though these guys aren't signed yet (and I can't for the life of me figure out why that is), their album No Use for Sunshine was on UCLA's most played albums of '08, and after listening to a few of their songs I can see why. With a sound that blends Oasis with The Posies, Mod Amish craft a sound that has me swaying, almost like I've discovered an acid-alternative band. A unique combination, and one that my love grows for with every passing second I listen to them.
The first track I listen to from No Use for Sunshine which has me immediately hooked is "Involving a Hearse," a creepy name for a truly alternative song. Starting with a feedback-filled guitar riff by Drake, Jones pulls the song into the stratosphere from second 3 with his unique vocal style. Layed on top of Matthews's pumping bass notes and Benuska's frantic drumming, Jones's vocals are like nothing I've ever heard before. Pretty good for the first 25 seconds of the first song from a band I've never heard of before from San Diego. The song is short and sweet, the way it should be, and just as quickly as it started, it's over. What makes this song so playable for college radio, though, aside from Jones's unique vocals and Drake's melodic, yet garage-rock-inspired guitar, is the rhythm section. Matthews's bass notes synch up nice and tightly with Benuska's drumming, and behind the frantic pounding away there is an almost romantic feel to the song. Five out of five stars easy, and a great first track to listen to.
Track two is "September," a popular play on UCLA college radio, and after hearing Drake's starting guitar riff, it's no wonder why. The song is unique in its ability to exude the feeling of September. I can literally feel the cold air around me as I listen to it, and that's the test of a truly amazing song. Here, Benuska has opted for a minimalist druming style, but that changes dramatically as we enter the first chorus. Then the chains are off, and Benuska is almost Travis Barker-like in his rhythmic style. Beside him, Matthews applies a Krist Novaselic bass line to the verses that almost drowns in the choruses, only to resurface again during the next chorus. While Drake, Matthews, and Benuska make solid use of the Pixies loud-quiet-loud dynamic, Jones adds sparse rhythm guitar riffs to the wall of sound, and vocals that just swirl around you. I am truly so wrapped up in Jones's vocals, made stronger by the music set out by the other three, that if it was the middle of July it would still feel like September. Two thumbs up for this one. Way, way up.
And as "September" trails out "Fade" begins, and I'm glued to the speakers once again by the alternative honey dripping out of them. This one is less meditative, more rock-inspired, and starting on the drum bashes by Benuska, and the hard thumping bass lines by Matthews, Drake and Jones lay down Pixies and Posies-like guitar progression, creating an alternative paradise. Jones's vocals here are amplified by Matthews's vocals as well, and the interaction of the two voices takes on an almost Alice in Chains vocal dynamic. Again, Mod Amish make use of the Pixies' sound dynamic, and the song is only better for it. It's short, it's catchy, and the melody stays with you even after it's ended. That's the mark of a good song; if you remember it.
The last track on my set-list is "Disgrace," a slow, surreal song that grabs me from second one. Drake's guitar is on the ball here, and he sound more and more like Joe Santiago with every note he plays. Jones's vocals and rhythm guitar are steady and controlled; almost hypnotic. Matthews particularly shines on this song, as his bass lines carry the guitars to new heights, and it certainly wouldn't be the same without him. Then there is Benuska, laying down a slow, rhythmic drumbeat. Benuska proves here that the drums don't need to be hit hard or fast to be powerful. The power is in how they relate to the guitars and bass. A truly solid track, and the best track that I could have ended my set-list with. If you haven't heard of these guys yet, you will, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if it was very, very soon.

Sounds Like: Pixies, The Posies, R.E.M., The Who, Sonic Youth

Key Tracks from No Use for Sunshine: "Fade," September," "Involving a Hearse," "Disgrace"

Check out Mod Amish more at:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Do You Guys Want?

Ok so for a few months now, this blog has centered mainly around reviews of new bands and albums. While I will continue to bring you guys new music to listen to and new bands to check out, I also want to know what else you guys want to see and read.
Should I try my hand at interviews? Would you like links to, and news of music videos from these groups when they come out? Shall I continue to write about groups I've already introduced to you, letting you know about new album releases and new songs? Top ten or twenty lists of songs and bands (unsigned and new, of course) for every month? 
Feedback is much appreciated, so I can keep building this blog into something that you all will want to continue to read. Comment on anything you'd like to see here, and if there's something you'd like to add, please feel free to raise your voice with an idea about how I can keep this interesting. 
If you read every day, or regularly, please click on the "follow" button. I want to get to know my readers as much as I can, so please don't shy away from giving me a shout through a comment or email. 
Also, if you haven't already, head over to Facebook and join the group I set up for the blog. just type in New Rock News 43 and search, and it should come up. If you want to friend me, and talk about new ideas, or if you know someone I should review, message me or send me an email. This should be as fun for you guys to read as it is for me to write, so tell me what you want, and I'll try to deliver. 

Who Says You Need a Major Label to Make a Sick Music Video?

Check out these awesome music videos for a bunch of the groups I've reviewed here on Youtube:

Tepetricy - "A Lonesome Night in Triage" -

The Flight Station - "The Last Time" -

Room Next Door - "No King" -

Soul Bomb - "Broken Down Angel" -

Heart-Set Self-Destruct - "Burn the Sky" -

Almost Kings - "On Like That" -

Shadows Lie - "Dead End" -

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On the Dancefloor with Disco Curtis

When I found out these guys were gonna be here in Atlanta with Seven Story Fall, I was way psyched. Out of Dallas, Disco Curtis is Texas's best kept pop-punk/powerpop secret. Blending catchy melodies with sick drums and polished, professional vocals, Disco Curtis are most certainly going to join Seven Story Fall on Hot Topic's shelves before 2010 is up.
Composed of Tanner Howe (lead vocals and guitar), Garrett Perales (guitar), Brendan Barone (bass), and AJ Novak (drums), DC burst from the Texas heat to deliver to you a dose of pop-punk melody and ethics. Though DC's most current release, their EP Play with Fire, Get Burned, is still very new, only making its debut in late September of this year, it already promises to take the music industry by storm, and help Disco Curtis solidify a name for themselves by, at the very most, the end of next year.   
Right from second one of the leadoff song from the new EP, I'm floored by DC's driving rhythms and stick-in-your-head melodies that have me singing along, and I don't even know the words. Yet. "Alone and Loving It" is a track to be reckoned with. Blasting off from Perales's  and Howe's guitar progressions, Barone and and Novak chime in on a tight rhythm section that already has the song moving to a brilliant beat. And then Howe starts with his vocals, and this one's an easy five-star track. With a catchy verse rhythm and sing-along chorus, "Alone and Loving It" promises to be a song that will have the audience on their toes at every turn. As Howe keeps going with polished, lucid vocals, Perales takes off on a mini guitar solo, and it sounds like something Mick Mars from Motley Crue would do. Novak's drumming is perfect here, and locks with Barone's bass in a way that moves the song along, but not in a way that drowns the instruments out. 
Track two on my list is "Breaking Hearts." From the very first drumbeat, the song is different than its predecessor. Whereas "Alone and Loving It" seemed careful, calculated, "Breaking Hearts" lets go in an almost frantic fashion. But for those of you shaking your heads sympathetically, don't. Disco Curtis have calculated just how much panic they need, and while Novak satiates himself with Travis Barker-like drumming, Barone's bass is scaled back a little, but you can still hear it right beside Novak's base drum, pumping life into a mess of brilliance and ingenuity. Then I'm floored and knocked breathless as Howe takes a small break from the vocals, and Perales shoots me up with a perfect concoction of shining notes on his guitar. Absolutely brilliant. And as I trail out on Howe's smooth vocals and guitar chords, it's clear to me that a song this strong is just the statement that these guys can use to show that they're dead serious about their business. 
And as "Breaking Hearts" slowly fades, "Surprise Me" starts, and the shitstorm of perfect notes and bombastic drums continues. Here, Barone is particularly on his game as his bass moves the song along, blending well with Perales's and Howe's palm-mutes during the verses. Then it's all out, and Novak is pushing his drumming skills as far as they'll go. This one's got the chorus, the fantastic drum fills, the guitar chords, and the soft interlude where Barone's bass notes are especially solid. An overall great song, and one I'd definitely recommend.
The last song on the EP that I listen to, however, is the jewel of the whole recording. Truly there is nothing to say about "Ashley" other than that it is going to be all over the radio not even two months from now. It's not even a maybe. It WILL be the single to hear next year. It's such an incredible track, that even if the other three sucked like hell, this one would more than make up for it. Novak's drumming is simply fantastic, and Barone's bass prowess is the best it's been on the whole EP. Meanwhile, Perales is at the top of his game with a guitar riff that just sings to your soul even when Howe's vocals stop for a few seconds. And then we're driven home with Howe wrapping up a perfect song. His guitar chords blend more than nicely, and his vocals, at their limits, and even past, are simply sweet. If you're looking for a song you can sink your teeth into, here it is, wrapped up in nice paper and a bow. There is nothing else to say about this track other than that it is, simply put, a perfect song. Simply said, and the simple truth. I'll tell you what guys, you'd all better start lining up outside Spencer's and Hot Topic right now, because once these Texas pop-punks make their splash, the pop-punk scene will never be the same. 

Sounds Like: Boys Like Girls, Mayday Parade, Forever the Sickest Kids, All Time Low, Cartel

Key Tracks from Play with Fire, Get Burned: "Ashley," "Breaking Hearts," "Alone and Loving It," "Surprise Me"

Check out Disco Curtis more at: and         

It's a Seven Story Fall

Surprises come in all sizes, big and small, and this one comes in the shape of five guys with a great alternative/pop-punk sound. It's already been a good week between yesterday and Sunday, and it just got better with these guys. So without more of my rambling musings, I introduce to you all my newest discovery of the day: Seven Story Fall.
From right here in Atlanta, Georgia, SSF are a five-piece pop-punk band with the intensity of Mayday Parade and the melody and lyrical themes of Boys Like Girls. Composed of Mike Hart (lead vocals), Justin Calalay (guitar), TJ Routon (guitar), Ryan McManus (bass and vocals), and Wes Moore (drums), Seven Story Fall aren't exactly new to the Atlanta scene, having been featured on Project 96.1 and Comcast local bands, but for some reason a major label record deal has eluded them so far. Why this is is beyond me, because these guys are incredible, even recording a pop-punk version of Akon's hit single "Right Now (Na Na Na)."
But that's someone else's work. These guys have more than enough of their own stuff that could get them a deal easy, and if you ask me, Warner Bros. and Universal will be fighting each other soon enough to sign these guys. 
The first song I listen to from their most recent album, The Getaway, is the title track, and it's already freakin' amazing. Starting on gritty drumbeat and bass line by Moore and McManus respectively, Calalay and Routon jam in on their guitar and provide a wall of sound that provides a perfect stage for Hart's smooth, melodic vocals. This is just one of those songs that is a must-hear, and probably the staple song at their concerts. With Routon and Calalay stop-starting on their guitars, laying down harsh chords next to tuneful notes and progressions, Hart shoots us into the stratosphere with his slick, polished vocals as McManus provides the jet fuel with his pounding bass lines and backing vocals, and Moore initiates the blastoff ignition with his Keith Moon-style drumming. No doubt the leadoff single from their album, "The Getaway" has a tune that will stick in your head no matter how many days you go without hearing it, but you'll never complain. You could be humming worse things. 
Track two on my set-list is "Don't Say," a more hardcore track than the first. This doesn't mean that SSF have opted for a Slayer sound, though, lol. Moore's drumming has taken on a new light, speeding up and exuding an intensity that is polished off by McManus's desperately perfect bass notes. On top of the tight rhythm section, Routon and Calalay lay down walls of guitars for Hart's vocals. One shoots into a progression as the other keeps rhythm, and then they switch, and it works so well, it's almost like they created the technique themselves. Above it all, Hart pushes his vocal chords to their limits, and new levels of melody and intensity are achieved, much to my thrill. With a catchy chorus and driving verses, "Don't Say" is another five-star track SSF lay down without breaking a sweat. 
Then I move on to "The American Dream." Though there is an acoustic version of this track on the album as well, I opted for the electric one to continue SSF's electric sound. Shot off from the start with Hart's vocals melding with Routon's and Calalay's guitars, this track is already stuck in my head for the next week. Moore, here, has adopted a stop-start style of drumming which works incredibly well with how Hart lays out the vocals on top of the guitar tracks. A hidden diamond, though, among all the melody and polish, is McManus's vocals. Though his bass, too, adds a great grounding nerve to the song, his backing vocals behind Hart give the song a never-stopping sensation, one that keeps you in the cockpit all the way through the energized 3 minutes. 
The last track on my set-list is "Compromised." Without a doubt one of the more hardcore, intense songs on the album, "Compromised" leads off with a brilliant rhythm guitar chord set by Calalay as Routon blasts forward with a note progression that gets you going from second one. Then Morre and McManus strike down with a bass line and drumbeat that pull you through the the wall of sound as Hart's vocals inject you with the adrenaline of a thousand white-hot suns. The perfect song to end the set-list with, and if I do say so myself, the perfect song to end a show with. This one will definitely keep people coming back for more, and with a track like this, it's no wonder why. The A&R men of companies like A&M and Columbia must be having lobotomies to have not signed these guys yet. I'd sign them in the ten seconds it would take to say "Done deal" if I had a label of my own. Brilliant job guys, and I'll definitely be at your next show. 

Sounds Like: Boys Like Girls, Forever the Sickest Kids, Mayday Parade, You Me At Six

Key Tracks from The Getaway: "The Getaway," "Compromised," "Don't Say," "The American Dream"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Right Hand Blue, Left Hand Red

So I've recently written about a group out of New York City with the name Left on Red, and at first glance, this group's name, Left Hand Red, is eerily similar and begs the question if they're just a ripoff band of Left on red (though how you could ripoff their unique sound is a bit beyond me). But the minute these guys crash into their first song on their set-list, I know that it must be just a coincidence at their name similarity.
Out of Brighton, England, U.K., Left Hand Red is a garage-rock, indie-rock experience that will leave you wanting more. Most definitely. Composed of Dan Scully (vocals), Darren Cook (guitar), Barry Bloye (bass and vocals), and Russell Pilfold (drums), LHR's sound combines the melody of The Posies with the forcity and garage-rock funk of The White Stripes.
From their new recording, the Rope Burn E.P., the first track I listen to is the title track. Starting with an alternative guitar riff from Darren Cook, Bloye and Pilfold soon join in on a garage rock rhythm that already sets LHR aopart from other alternarive-rock stylings. Scully's vocals here hover between Pixies and The Posies, while drawing on the bass lines of The Vines and The Strokes. Pilfold's drumming is eerily reminiscent of David Lovering's, making use of the Pixies' loud-quiet-loud dynamic while Scully is, at the same time, appealing to the melodic vocals sounds of The Posies and Smashing Pumpkins. The stripped down sound of the song, though, based very much in Cook's garage-rock guitar riffs and feedback, and Bloye's front-and-center bass lines, gives the track a unique quality that seems unreached since the big garage-rock revivals of the '90s with The White Stripes and The Hives.
The second track from the EP, ""Eagle Road," makes me think even more of the Pixies, but not in the way it did before. While the Pixies influence in the last song was due mostly to the sound dynamic, here it is based solely on the blending of Scully's stripped down vocals with a very melodic guitar progression. Cook has abandoned the sole guitar-feedback sound in favor of a more melodic and tuneful riff which holds a melody all of its own, and blends with Scully's vocals perfectly. In fact, at parts, it seems like Cook's notes dabble a little in ska-punk influences. Meanwhile, Bloye's bass lines are heard throughout, providing a solid stage for the guitar and vocals in a most Krist Novaselic fashion. The bass lines do not exist all on their own, but meld with Pilfold's tom and cymbal hits to create a unique rhythm section. The real jem of this song though, what sets it apart from so many others, is its almost solid stop about 2/3 of the way through. Here, Pilfold stops immediately, and playing on a brand new guitar riff that Cook lays down, builds in slowly with Bloye's bass notes. On top, Scully sings in an almost meditative tone, and it's a surreal experience. Then the drums and bass rev up, and we're shot to the end of the riff that brought us in. A solid track, and one I'd definitely shop around to a label.
The last track I listen to on the EP set-list is "Make a Killing," an eery track that is clealry Vines and White Stripes inspired. With creepy, almost drowned-out vocals from Scully (which seem like a throwback to Kurt Cobain's almost oblique vocals in Nirvana), Cook experiments with his guitar chords, going from a heavy, grunge-like riff to clear notes that just wipe the rust from my ears. Mean while, Pilfold's drumming seems minimalist here, but it works perfectly with Bloye's pumping bass notes, and when I get to the 2/3 mark, I'm floored by Cook's guitar once again. This song in particular has a grunge ambience to it, almost like Soundgarden or Mudhoney, and that's a unique quality I wouldn't trade for anything. then it just stops, and it is a solid wrap-up to a phenominal set-list. Definitely check these guys out. They're experiemental, alternative sound will bring together all those who like The White Stripes, The Hives and The Vines with those who rock out to Nirvana, Soundgarden, and the Pixies. Absolutely brilliant.

Sounds Like: The White Stripes, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pixies, The Posies, The Vines

Key Tracks from Rope Burn E.P.: "Rope Burn," "Eagle Road," "Make a Killing"

Check out Left Hand Red more at: and

Going Under with The Drownout

Sorry I haven't updated in a couple of days, guys. It's been a really hectic weekend. The season finale of Monk was incredible. But don't fret, I've been searching this weekend for some new groups, and I believe it is truth to say that the search paid off in a big way. My latest discovery are these guys, The Drownout, another super-incredible group from right here in Atlanta, GA. Combining slick pop-punk rhythms with polished synth chords, The Drownout create a sound that fits just as well on the dancefloor as on your speaker system.
Comprising members Jason Jones (vocals and guitar), Matt Baum (keyboards), Justin Marchan (bass), and Rusty Bonham (drums) (go figure), The Drownout privide a slick new sound for a new decade. Releasing their debut album, In Flagrante Delicto, in 2005, The Drownout's follow-up effort, Paper Trails and Blinds, released in early 2008, is a testament to how fast these guys grew between their two efforts (which is not to say that the first is a bad recording, because it's great).
I'm instantly hooked on this band from the first few seconds of "High Waters," the first track I listen to from Paper Trails and Blinds. Starting with punkish guitar feedback, I'm instantly transported to the future as Baum's synths take over, and Bonham just builds in with a catchy drum beat that has my head banging already. Marchan's bass is then on the board, and tightly locked with Bonham's bass drum to keep my pulse pounding at every hit. And just as he begins in on the vocals, Jones's guitar chords are heard right alongside Baum's synths. This song is definitely the lead-off single, and I have no doubt it'll crack the Top Forty no more than one week after a major label picks it up. There's really nothing more to say about this track other than it's catchy as hell, and will have you listening to it over and over. A brilliant track with sci-fi polish, "High Waters" is most certainly one of the albums five-star tracks.
Then I'm on to "Paper Trails," a seemingly slower track that starts on Baum's eery keys and Jones's guitar notes. Soon, though, Bonham is heard on his deep toms, and Marchan's bass blasts us off as Jones goes to town with his vocals, providing a bombasting chorus laced with lucid, sing-along words ampred by Baum's key strokes. This song definitely uses Jones's palm-mutes to its advantage, almost dabbling a bit in the Pixies loud-quiet-loud dynamic. But soon, I'm shifted from an alternative-rock sound to a more catchy, pop-punk, elctro-rock tapestry of notes and chords. I particularly like the slow interlude, where Jones is heard, stripped down, and backed up by Baum's melodic keys. Then Bonham drum rolls us back into anopther blastoff, and Marchan's bass hasn't let my pulse stop rascing for four minutes already. A tight song with a solid start and finish, "Paper Trails" is clealry one of the staple tracks during The Drownout's live shows.
The last track I listen to from the Paper Trails and Blinds set-list is "Gifthorse." Whereas the other tracks started a little slower on Baum's keys,"Gifthorse" crashes right in from the start on Bonham's cymbals, but soon slows down a little bit as Jones lends his melodic vocals on top of Baum's keys and Marchan's rhythmic bass lines. A slowly building song that takes off at the chorus, "Gifthorse" is a brilliant mix of brooding vocals and catchy, pop-punk melodies sewn together with a tight drum beat and well-synched bass line. Truly one of The Drownout's best moments, the track only gets better with Baum's synth notes towards the middle, and Jones's heart-felt vocal performance. A must-hear among the new slew of songs put out by The Drownout, "Gofthorse" will be all over the radio in a few months the way "Hero/Heroine" was for Boys Like Girls a couple years ago. Brilliant.

Sounds Like: Boys Like Girls, Fall Out Boy, The Cars, The Police

Key Tracks from Paper Trails and Blinds: "High Waters," "Paper Trails," "Gifthorse"

Check out The Drownout more at: and

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And We're Almost Kings

Some days are just full of amazing surprises. I, for example, discovered the next hip-hop/rock sensation, and it's not even late yet lol. I am, however, psyched to introduce my discovery, Almost Kings. Now, these guys aren't exactly new. They have at least a thousand fans on Facebook, but that won't stop me from writing a damn good article on them. So, with that said, let's jump in to AK.
From right here in Atlanta, Georgia, Almost Kings is composed of Boze (lead vocals), Ryan Yunker (guitar and vocals), Danny Helms (bass and vocals), and Kevin Compton (drums). Blending sick funk-rock rhythms with hardcore metal riffs and blasting hip-hop and rock vocals, AK produce a sound unlike anything I've ever heard, except for perhaps Linkin Park a little bit. Termed by some as "skate-rock," AK's slick new sound blasts the hell out of your ears drums in style, bringing you to your knees and injecting you with a daily dose of rap-rock funk.
The first I listen to on their set-list is "Legend," from their album Filthy Nice. Building on a sick bass line intro by Helms and rhythmic drums from Compton, Yunker shreds his guitar likes there's no tomorrow, and he's only got a few minutes to melt my face off. Meanwhile, Boze's vocals are a mix of Chester Benington and Zach de la Rocha, jabbing at my eyes with the rhythm of Linkin Park and the ferocity of Rage. Helms's bass notes throughout the song are particularly tight and synch with Compton's raging drums perfectly. Among the madness of the rhytm section, Yunker's guitars provide a wall of sheer thrill that drills into my skull and leaves me numb for more. A perfect song if there ever was one, and as I'm sailed home on Boze's vocals, I already know which song from their album will be AK's lead-off single. Sick.
Track two is "Unstoppable," and it is. On this one, we're again built in on Helms's bass notes, but this time they're front and center, and already providing a Geezer Butler effect as Boze counts in with a head-banging vocal rhythm. Then as we get to "tick, tick, BOOM!," Compton's drums bust me up, and Yunker's guitar drills my ears into a bloody mess of happiness and ecstasy. Boze's vocals are more Rage here, and it's almost eery how he goes from LP to Rage so easily. But it's not a Rage ripoff. AK has their own rhythm that will keep you banging your head as hard as you can until your neck breaks off. Fucking fantastic. With a chorus that's sure to have every fucking person in the audience trampling each other as they jump up and down to the rhythm, Boze synchs his voice with Yunker's simple yet blasting riffs. This song is almost like "Bulls on Parade" in its effect to make me want to hit someone. Just stomps you in the throat from start to finish. Brilliant.
After "Unstoppable" I need a break, but no such things exists with these guys. Just as "Unstoppable" ends, I'm thrust into "On Like That," a sick jam that continues the Rage sound with a Linkin Park polish. Even as I type this, my fingers are hitting the keys in perfect rhythm with the guitar. Yunker is more liberal with his riffing here, throwing in some metal notes that remind me more of AC/DC or Disturbed than Linkin Park. Helms pulls a bass line from the earth and whips it around, following Compton's base drum beats, and pushing me over the edge in a perfect storm of rhythm and sound. As Yunker reaches Angus Young levels on the guitar, Boze busies himself with sinking his clear-cut vocals into my skull, and I'm disected by all four as they reach the chorus; Helms taking out my legs with his bass notes, Compton busting my gut with his base drum and high-hats, and Boze taking out my face as Yunker cuts into my heart with his guitar riffs. Another five-star track on what promises to be an incredible album the minute you hit the "Play" button.
The last track on my set-list is "Five Foot Hurricane." Aside from a killer name, this track floors me with a dark bass line by Helms and gut-wrenching drums by Compton. It's a little slower than the others until it gets to the chorus, where it just blasts off, and it's so Linkin Park inspired, I would almost mistake this for Linkin Park. But then I hear Yunker's guitar riffing blasting through the speakers, and Boze's vocals on top of the tapestry of sound and madness, and this is so unique that it can only be Almost Kings. An incredible song to finsh the set-list with, I hope it's played when I go see these guys at the end of January. They'll be home again on Jan. 30th, and I'll eat my shoes before missing these guys in concert. It'll be the only time I get to see them for less than $40, because by this time next year, they'll be doing Gwinette Arena no sweat. Keep your eyes out for these guys. A for-sure opening act on Linkin Park's next tour, and one that can definitely hold their own. Absolutely sick.

Sounds Like: Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine, Faith No More, Primus

Key Tracks from Filthy Nice: "Legend," "Five Foot Hurricane," "Unstoppable," "On Like That"

Check out Almost Kings more at: and

Floating Away with The High Tones

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you all to an amazing alternative-rock group from right here in Atlanta. Why does it give me such pleasure? Because the lead singer/guitarist is a good high school friend of mine, and based on what he did every year at the talent show, we always knew he'd go on to bigger things. So without further ado, here are The High Tones, alternative-rock's answer to the new decade.
Comprising my good friend Jonathan Kunis (lead vocals and guitar), Shim Garnter (lead guitar and backing vocals), Ben Williams (bass), and Jaron Pearlman (drums), The High Tones provide slick rhythms with catchy bass lines and mad drumming to encompass your senses and feed your soul. When I first heard Kunis at the Coffee House talent show a couple of years ago, he wowed us all by performing a solo song in front of everyone while on the phone to congratulate his brother on a major event in his life. Conducting himself with poise and a cool head, Kunis proved he was ready for bigger things. But he's not a guy that falls prey to LSD (lead singer disease), and with him on lead vocals, The High Tones have set themselves up for a great shot to the top.
But I'm not here to ramble about just one person; I'm here to ramble about the whole group, so let's get started. The first song I listen to on The High Tones' Myspace page is "Everything About You," an easy-going song that almost harkens back to '60s country. As the track started, I though for a minute I was listening to a Willie Nelson song, but that confusion was quickly cleared up as Kunis and Garnter moved away from a country melody and soothed me into an alternative-rock serenade. Meanwhile, Williams's bass notes are strong and on perfect cue, as Pearlman's drumming is light and sprightly. Relying mostly on the toms, and the snare and high-hats at points, Pearlman provides a simple, yet driving rhythm, and with Williams's bass locking tightly in, a perfect stage is set for Garnter and Kunis. Kunis's voice is almost like Patrick Stump in its pitch, and this song could be Fall Out Boy unplugged and stripped down. With Garnter providing simple note riffs during the verses and choruses, and great hamonizing backup vocals toward the end, this song is a solid start to their debut recording, the Kinda-Key EP.
Track two is "I Am What I Am," and from second one, I'm floored and stomped into the ground by Williams's bass line. That's the way I like my bass lines to be; hit me hard, hit me fast, and knock my breath out of me. Meanwhile, Pearlman's drums are tight and lock well with Williams's bass, and the rhythm section produces an almost kinky sound behind the guitars. Then Kunis comes in on vocals, and the sound is like Fall Out Boy meets Blink-182. Pearlman's drumming has picked up, and it's like Travis Barker's behind the kit, knocking it all about in a chaotic frenzy of order and rhythm. Garnter has busied himself with laying down a sick guitar riff that just resonates against Williams's bass, and Kunis melts my face with those high note vocals. My favorite part of this song though, is the last half minute. Garnter and Kunis blow my mind with sick guitar riffing that's reminicent of Scorpions and Motley Crue, not just Fall Out Boy or Blink. And as my face melts under the guitar solos, Pearlman and Williams bring the song to a solid halt. Two thumbs up. Way, way up.
The last track I listen to is "Waiting." Now, needless to say, I enjoyed the other two songs very much. But there is something about this one that just screams lead single. Maybe it's the clean, sick guitar riff the Garnter leads off on, or the smooth vocals Kunis soon provides. It might be Williams's heart-pounding bass lines, or Pearlman's soulful drumming. I don't know what it is, but this is definitely the radio single that will propell these guys through the stratosphere. Williams is on his mark perfectly, and his bass note have my pulse racing as Pearlman's drums keep my head banging to the rhythm. Garnter's guitar and harmonizing are brilliant, and Kunis just sails me away with those melodic, heart-felt lyrics. Whether or not Kunis I were good friends before, and whether we are or not now, there is no denying this guy has an amazing voice, the drive and the talent to go places. And with bandmates like Pearlman, Williams, and Garnter, Kunis has surrounded himself with the other three elements that will end up making all of these guys' dreams come true. In '06 and '07, Fall Out Boy were the band to watch for; the band that were gonna shoot up to stardom in a matter of months. Well now, with New Years just around the corner, and 2010 on its way, here's the new band to watch for. The High Tones are gonna take over soon, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if I was hearing these guys all over the radio in a couple of months. The votes are in; The High Tones are coming, and nothing's gonna stop them.

Sounds Like: Fall Out Boy, Boys Like Girls, Blink-182, Third Eye Blind

Key Tracks from Kinda-Key EP: "Waiting," "I Am What I Am," "Everything About You"

Check out The High Tones more at:

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