Saturday, December 25, 2010

Turning The Blue Pages

The story this week is one that will have you dancing with your best moves, your worst moves that you think are great, and everything else in between. With a sound that I can only describe as indie dance-pop on an adrenalized cocktail of steroids, The Blue Pages burst through the speakers to my ears and even I, someone not comfortable at all with myself on any dance floor, find myself popping my head and getting into the groove of the songs.
Comprising the tasteful talents of Zac Barnett (lead vocals and guitar), James Adam Shelley (lead guitar), Dave Rublin (bass and keys), and Matt Sanchez (keys and drums), The Blue Pages for me find themselves balanced just right between the techno-pop sound of Owl City and the pop-punk sneer of Eve 6. For The Blue Pages' homebase of Brooklyn, New York, the instrumental execution that these guys clearly pride themselves on throughout their songs is something that the city can rejoice for, and definitely something that they can take a bow for; it's catchy, melodic, and truly one of the best aspects of their music. The melody, however, is compounded by lyrics that are clever and funny and vocals that are clear and lucid enough to provide great choruses and verses to sing along to.
With two EP's released in 2010, The Blue Pages show that they are four guys brimming with talent and are ready to lay down as many tracks as it takes to get them to the top. One thing that sets TBP apart from other dance-pop and powerpop bands is that their songs are unique from one other; they clearly work hard to make each track its own song, and I can't imagine that there are any filler tracks on either EP.
Releasing their most recent EP in July of this year, the Up All Night EP features the hit song "A Little Bit More." Right from the start, I'm drawn in the by key strokes of Rublin and Sanchez before Barnett's voice comes in, distorted and oh-so-addictive. To explain just how catchy this song is, all I can do is call it perfect ear candy. It's got the greatest rhythm, thanks to Sanchez's drums and Rublin's bass notes. Clearly these two musicians are just as proficient on their respective instruments as they are on the key-work that they both share. Barnett, meanwhile, has a voice that seems hypnotic, and his guitar chords, too, are something that deserve a tip of the hat. Shelley seems to be a little more in the background, preferring to drive the song forward with great guitar fretwork than by doing over-the-top pick-slides. Yet as the song zeros in on the final chorus and Barnett's vocals near the pitch that I haven't heard since The Darkness, Shelley's guitar winds up to pack one final punch of melodic heaven before drowning out with the others. Definitely a fantastic track, and one that the Up All Night EP can only benefit from.
Rounding off an EP filled with great tunes and rhythms is the title track, "Up All Night." One thing that immediately sets this song apart from any other is the unique mix of reggae-style beats and electro-pop melodies. Rublin's bass lines are infectious in a funk-ish kind of way, and the keys he and Sanchez lay down lend are catchy and contagious. Barnett's vocals are in a pitch I didn't even know existed, but somehow he makes it work, and while he hopscotches around the funky beats from Rublin's bass, Shelley's guitar trades melodic tricks with the keyboards, back and forth. If the song itself wasn't enough to sell and record label exec or fan that these guys are the real deal, than the music video for "Up All Night" would certainly seal the deal. An all-star track on an EP that's so much more than just one good song, "Up All Night" is a neon sign showing just what these guys are capable of.
I'd love to just keep going and going, because God knows these guys have enough tracks to fill a party playlist to the brim. I don't know what it is that connects The Blue Pages the way they are, but whatever it is, it's something that seems to fuel a collective creativity that results in every song being single-material. Case in point "Slow Down," a synth-heavy track from the Nighthawke EP with a melody and rhythm I could see creeping onto one of the soundtracks for Glee. However these guys make their partnerships work, it's something that spills over into "That 850." If nothing else, this song has a great intro and a verse that would get even the most stiff of people moving. A definite hit and instant Blue Pages classic, "That 850" is easily one of, if not my favorite song of the bunch.
However they market themselves, whether it be as an electro-pop band or a pop-punk band with an electronic twist, The Blue Pages have struck gold again and again with songs like "Up All Night" and "That 850." As long as they keeping pumping out tracks of this caliber, they will have no problem carving out a niche for themselves among the new wave of electronic artists that are starting to grace the alternative scene. The only thing I'm gonna say when these guys are showing everyone else up is, "told ya so."

Sounds Like: Shiny Toy Guns, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs

Key Tracks from the Up All Night EP and the Nighthawke EP (respectively): "A Little Bit More," "Up All Night," "Slow Down," "That 850"

Check out The Blue Pages more at: , and

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eric Shelby's Tape Deck Train Wreck

This is another one of those articles that just seems to have inspired itself. When I came across this new artist a few days ago, I thought I'd only check him out briefly before heading off to bed. Well, that certainly didn't happen. One song led another as I listened, and before I knew it, I had gone through the whole playlist, containing all 11 tracks that make up the album. I knew there was something different about this guy; if I listened to his entire album without realizing it, that's definitely a broad flashing neon sign that there was something special there. And when I went back the next day, I saw just what was lying beneath.
Coming out of Boston, Massachusetts, though now settled in San Diego, California, Eric Shelby is a refreshing breeze of pop-punk in a music scene that seems to have lost that special kinda groove he's selling. Recorded in a tiny home studio in Middleton, Massachusetts, Eric Shelby's debut album, Tape Deck Train Wreck, is a mix of punk rhythms and attitude and pop melodies that seem to come out of nowhere to rest permanently in your mind. One thing that I absolutely love about Shelby's debut effort is that there are no filler tracks here; true some are a little catchier than others, but all that depends on your taste and mood. The bottom line though, is that Shelby has crafted a simple, yet oh-so-effective pop-punk album that rekindles my love in the marriage of simple pop harmonies to punk beats. With backup vocals by Boston native and singer Lauren Vancheri, Tape Deck Train Wreck is certainly my pick this week for "album you'll play over and over again until your speakers explode."
Though tracks abound that will make your ears happy, the first song that really strikes me is "Abandoned Eyes." Shelby's guitar is simple and melodic, and in his vocals there's something addictive. It may be his vocal rhythm or the way his deep-set voice meshes so well with Vancheri's backing vocals, but whatever it is, "Abandoned Eyes" is a song I can't get out of my head, no matter how hard I try. I distinctly remember lying awake for about an hour after hearing this song, just humming it over and over in my head, and if that doesn't say single-gold than I don't know what does. One thing that Shelby certainly doesn't fall short on is his lyrical talent: this guy has lyrics that fit together perfectly like pieces of a puzzle, and when I hear them, I flash over to the lyrics of Owl City and Yellowcard. Funny and clever, yet clearly romantic, Shelby's lyrics paint a tapestry of vivid emotion and feeling. When coupled with Vancheri's backing vocals, the result is solid gold. 
At just over 2:40 long, "Abandoned Eyes" is anything but long. But for a song like that, a short timing seems to fit nicely. I then move to "Turn Up the Twilight" and "Envy," two great tracks that boost Tape Deck Train Wreck in the greatest ways. But it's when I get to the title track about halfway down that I'm simply floored. "Tape Deck Train Wreck" starts with a simple note progression that flies into a hot riff backed by great drums and bass. Shelby's voice is mirrored by Vancheri's, and the melodic dialogue that elapses between the two is just magical. The chorus on this song is something I can't get passed. Shelby's voice just goes up and up, and then down again, leaving me spinning in a flurry of harmonies and guitar notes. This is definitely the lead-off single in my opinion: Shelby can't go wrong with this one, and when listeners get a chance to hear this, they'll be tripping over themselves to hear more. Most certainly Shelby's finest hour, set against an array of other amazing tracks, "Tape Deck Train Wreck" has opened a whole new door for me in pop-punk and pop-rock. Clearly one of my favorite songs this month, this is one I'd immediately suggest to anyone looking for a song to play to set the mood. 
Wrapping up the album is "Serial Thriller." Aside from having a clever title I wish I'd come up with myself, "Serial Thriller" conveys the feeling of leaving behind all that once was for something new on the horizon. The best way to wrap up the album, "Serial Thriller" possesses great guitar with mild distortion and an interesting set of beats behind the backdrop. His voice steady and strong, Shelby finishes his album in a fit of brash grace and raw talent. What sounds like polish here is just the underlying talent and vision this guy definitely has inside him. If I were any sort of record company or radio station, I'd bet big on this guy, he's going places, there's no doubt in my mind. It's just a matter of time before he's opening shows with a who's who list of bands and artists.

Sounds Like: Smash Mouth, Busted, Blink-182, Good Charlotte

Key Tracks from Tape Deck Train Wreck: "Abandoned Eyes," "Tape Deck Train Wreck," "Serial Thriller," "Envy," "Turn Up the Twilight"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Blood Runs Thicker with 51/50s

I've often thought that we live in a new era of music; an era in which genres and sub-genres are getting blended and reblended with the results of sound that we've never heard before. As much as I love the music of the decades before me, and could have definitely seen myself growing up in 1986 or as a teen in 1992, I realize that I would then have to sacrifice something that I as a music fan have come to see as my own: namely the era in music which has seen the rise of new genres and the reemergence of classics with new flavors.
This is no more apparent than with 51/50s, a garage-rock/alternative quartet from the banks of the Thames in London, England. A subtle mix of White Stripes-esque garage-rock sneer with a melodic polish reminiscent of '90s Britpop, 51/50s blend seamlessly an amalgamation of genres that I never thought could work together in a million years. Yet they make it work, and do so with style.
When members Rikki Lee (lead vocals), Ollie Cook (guitar), Jason Gale (bass), and Billy Baker (drums) first got together, I don't think that they in any way could have foreseen what kind of sound would be coming out of their speakers once they plugged in. But that's how the best sounds come to life. Rarely do artists know exactly how it's going to sound, or how they want it, and that's what makes for the most interesting albums and songs. Some lineups are poison to the music they create: prone to infighting and clashes in artistic direction that eventually lead to the demise of a clearly talented group and thoughts of what might have been. I'm no band therapist, but I don't see any signs of that here. Something about their music shows that 51/50s know exactly what they have going, and know how to keep it coming.
With the release of their album Dangerous State of Mind, 51/50s are definitely poised for a garage-rock takeover of the unsuspecting underground masses. The energy that flows from songs like "Heartbleeder" and "Blood Runs Thicker" isn't something you can fake. You either have it or you don't, and these guys really have it. A mix of garage-rock smirk and alternative swagger, "Heartbleeder" showcases 51/50s' fantastic instrumental talents as well as their cleverly written lyrics. With a cymbal-led intro by Baker and a vocal slide-in by Lee, I immediately see influences from JET and The Vines. Gale is on his mark brilliantly, and his bass lines pulse with the energy and attitude befitting a true punk-rocker. Halfway in between classic bass influences like Jack Bruce and Geezer Butler and more modern ones like Flea and Greg K, Gale's bass fills in breaks of the song that would otherwise be lacking without him. Yet his bass lines, funky and sexy as they are, would seem empty without Cook's guitar work. Relying heavily on a great amount of distortion with stop/start chords and catchy melodic hooks, Cook makes "Heartbleeder" a must-hear track on the album.
One of the songs that really impresses me after "Heartbleeder" is "Lies," a poppy, almost theatrical track where Lee shows that he's got something to say. I can only imagine that this would be a great song to hear live, and in my mind I see Lee bounding over the stage to the beat set down by Gale and Baker behind him as Cook's guitar fills in the rhythm and musicality behind him. This song must be a crowd-pleaser, and if the melody and "la, la, la, la" chorus weren't enough to get those fans up and jumping with the beat, then Cook's guitar solo would be. "Lies" is definitely a party song, and any party going on and these guys playing out back is just destined to be legendary. Blending raw energy with party-starter attitude, 51/50s take it to the next level, and I have no choice by to ride shotgun on Baker's pounding drums and Gale's head-bopping bass. If there is anything wrong with this track, I can't find it, and if there is, it doesn't matter anyway: there are just too many things right with this song for it to be brought down by anything. Brilliant.
The party continues with "The Great Pretender." I'm having a hard time finding words just to describe this track. It's so melodic and guitar heavy that I don't know if it falls into alternative-rock or just a category of its own. Cook's guitar is a bit heavier here, but with riffs and chords that you can't help but hum along to. Hell-bent on leaving no fan behind, Lee's vocals pack a punch, leaving your head spinning as Gale and Baker drill into your mind with a rhythmic set that moves the song along at a break-neck speed. Fast enough to keep you guessing, but not too fast to leave you behind, "The Great Pretender" seems to be the epitome of great British rock of the modern age, boasting commendable guitar work by Cook and Gale and drumming that lends just the right of kick to the back-beat. And with Lee as frontman and lead vocalist, the chorus here is something I won't forget for a very very long time, if ever. If every track on Dangerous State of Mind is like this one, I see no stopping any time in 51/50s' future.
I'm so flustered by the catchy and hard-rock nature of their sound that I can't find anymore words to write about 51/50s. Their songs are top-notch, their melodies and rhythms tight-knit, and their hedonism stylistic in its execution. These are the guys that every new band will want to model themselves after, and the one that no one will ever get close to. Like I always say, the mark of a truly great artist is what sets them apart from others, and here 51/50s have set themselves so far apart I wonder if they're even in the same universe anymore. But I don't care; their music is amazing and their collective attitude contagious, and that's something I don't see changing anytime soon. I love it.

Sounds Like: JET, Kaiser Chiefs, Oasis, The Vines

Key Tracks from Dangerous State of Mind: "Heartbleeder," "Lies," "The Great Pretender," "Blood Runs Thicker"

Check out 51/50s more at: and

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Momentum of Asteria

With all the bands I'm giving you guys from outside our time-zones here in the U.S., I figured I'd also give you a few to chomp on that are from right here in our backyard. With so much talent abroad in places like Australia and all over Europe, it can be easy to forget that we have some incredible talent here too. But that's something I don't intend on letting slip from my attention, so today I'm gonna show you a band that's all-American and all-amazing.
From deep in America's heartland, Crown Point, Indiana to be be precise, Asteria is a band that exudes alternative rhythm with pop-punk choruses in a way that has become a little rare these days. It's actually a funny thing, since I discovered these guys a few years ago in 2007 when they released one of their previous albums. It seems that for a couple of years they slipped from my radar, but they're back now, and I gotta say that with their new release Momentum, Asteria are truly an underground group worth knowing about. Not only would these guys find a comfortable home on Warped Tour, but I could see them playing well next to names like Against Me! and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
A five-piece composed of Terrence Kline (lead vocals), Seth Henderson (guitar and vocals), Ryan Gullett (guitar and vocals), Brandon McQuen (bass), and Sam Henderson (drums), Asteria are not your typical unsigned band. These guys have been soldiering on since 2005 with multiple releases that show an intense passion as well as a great collection of creative forces within the band. With the releases A Lesson in Charades (2005), Slip Into Something More Comfortable (2007), their self-titled EP (2008), and now Momentum, released in September of 2010, Asteria's sound has not only matured and evolved over the years, but managed to retain its pure alternative-punk attitude that I fell in love with back in '07 when I discovered them.
The first song I listen to from Asteria's new album is "Hold On (God Damn)," a strong reminder of why I was so struck by these guys back on '07. With flying vocals by Kline and dynamic guitar work and interplay between Seth Henderson and Gullett, "Hold On (God Damn)" is one song I know will sound amazing live any time they play it. McQuen's bass, meanwhile, underlies the guitars and provides a rhythmic lance for Sam Henderson's drums. The rhythm section here is great, and the song only benefits for it. A catchy vocal melody and great cymbal-work by Sam Henderson make "Hold On (God Damn)" a great choice for a lead-off single for Momentum.
"Heartbreaker," too, boasts an under-the-radar rhythm that compliments a fantastic melody to deliver a great song. Gullett's guitar is stop/start, one of my favorite dynamics, and as it synchs up nicely with Seth Henderson's chords and notes, Kline's vocals prove to be a kick in the ass. Sharp-tongued and resting on great alternative chords and drumming, Kline's lyrics sear right through me, and I know that Momentum wouldn't be complete without this track.
While I could go ahead and talk about other great tracks on Momentum like "Candles" and "Shake It Off," I think it would serve more to talk about what struck me about these guys in the first place. The first song I ever heard by them, and still my very favorite to this day, "The Taste The Touch" came out on Slip Into Something More Comfortable. If this song had nothing else going for it, the intro would be ore than enough. The building between Gullett's and Seth Henderson's guitars on top of the driving bass and drums is incredible, and when Kline comes in with those high notes he can hit, I'm shocked and left open-mouthed. "The Taste The Touch" will work its way into the deepest parts of your brain with a great rhythm and a chorus that will drive you insane as you find yourself humming it all day long. I absolutely love this song, and I gotta say it sounds as fresh and brash now as it did when I first heard it in 2007. No Asteria playlist would be complete without this song at the very top. It's gold, pure and simple.
One of my other favorites, though, is from an even earlier Asteria release. The only thing I can say about the title track from A Lesson in Charades is that the guitars will drive you forward and pull you back in a sonic vortex like you haven't experienced in a long time. The vocals are reserved just before breaking out in a brilliant array of notes and the bass is all-encompassing on top of professional-style drums. Apart from lyrics I can honestly say I wish I'd penned myself, "A Lesson in Charades" has a fantastic guitar progression that will have you head-banging in no time.
I can't say anymore about these guys. I know if I do, I'll only ruin what will be a great discovery for you guys. Point stands though, that Asteria is one of the best indie-alternative bands I've heard in a long time. Why these guys are still unsigned after four amazing releases just speaks to the crumbling establishment we used to call the music industry. Then again, it also speaks to the real passion that these guys have behind their music, and with sparks and creativity like that, music lovers can rejoice that real rock ethics are alive and well. True to DIY in the best way, Asteria have proved that they're not going anywhere anytime soon, and the only thing I can think now is I can't wait to see what they have coming next.

Sounds Like: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Tickle Me Pink, Senses Fail, Rise Against

Key Tracks from Momentum, Slip Into Something More Comfortable and A lesson in Charades (respectively): "Hold On (God Damn)," "Heartbreaker," "The Taste The Touch," "A Lesson in Charades"

Check out Asteria more at:, and!/asteriaband?v=wall

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spotlight Break: Carrying On with TheFlashJam

With a brand new layout for their Myspace page an a new song to set things off with a bang, TheFlashJam returns to NewRockNews43 with a new sound, but with the same energy that they graced us with last time. At their last stop, TheFlashJam broke through the NRN43 barrier with their unbelievably catchy song, "Caught on the Dancefloor." Now with their new song "Carry On," TFJ are continuing their synth-pop assault on the world, albeit in a new way.
"Carry On" is a bit of a departure for TFJ, leaning more towards a soft epic ballad than a dance-pop hit that led me to discover them in the first place. Yet it seems that TheFlashJam have prepared themselves for this new direction, and the transition is smooth and seamless. Jamie McLean's vocals are heartfelt and just a little ragged around the edges, owing to real emotion beneath the surface. With bass lines that keep TFJ's dance-pop past lit up, Brody Krock is great here, and coupling himself nicely with Oliver Banjac's guitar chords, makes this one a great song to listen to. Stefan Candie's key strokes augment the melody in Mclean's voice with a pop ease and polish, lending to McLean extra melody where others fall through.
An epic departure from what struck me about these guys in the first place, "Carry On" is a slamdunk for TheFlashJam, showing that they can write ballads just as much as catchy dance songs. Can't wait to hear more from this Canadian flash-bang of a band.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Break This Week

Hey all, I didn't want today to go by without letting you know that the post for this week will appear next Friday. It's been a busy holiday weekend (Thanksgiving for any non-Americans out there) and I want to publish the article when it's just right. Thank you for you understanding and patience and have a great weekend. Check back next week for a great new artist. Peace all!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Honestly, The Honesty

I could say that I never expected to write about these guys, but I know that's not true. Sooner or later I'm pretty sure I'd have found out about them and given them the write-up they deserve, but I had no idea I'd run into them so quickly and be so impressed. Something about the sound that The Honesty come up with is so unique I can't really even put my finger on it. It's youthful and so full of life, and it's definitely a sound I want to hear more of.
The Honesty have the number one song on Purevolume this week, and after listening to "Intentions" (which features Joel Piper of Confide) it's not hard to see why. "Intentions" has a fantastic sound with a stick-in-your-head chorus and melody that has me humming along long after the song has ender. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's cover the basics first. 
The story this week is The Honesty, a pop-punk quartet from Palm Springs, California. With the dynamic lineup of Tasha Gilbreath on lead vocals, Aaron Aparicio on guitar, Jeff Harber on guitar, and Mikey Davis on drums, The Honesty are rekindling a pop-oriented punk sound that seems to have been lost among the waves of techno-pop and post-grunge in the last few years, or at the very least the last few months. Even from the very first few seconds, everything about The Honesty's music is drenched in life and indeed attitude, and as the speakers pulse with their tunes and lyrics, a sonic tapestry technicolor in nature seems to materialize before my eyes. One thing I can tell about this band even before getting too far into their playlist is they approach their music from a different angle than so many other artists. But that's something that I love: anything that makes you different and unique can only help you in my opinion.
And now the bottom-line story. The Honesty, who formed in 2009 and have been honing their skills ever since, have a new EP out, and not only is it one they can be very proud of, but it's also up for a free entire download on Purevolume. If I were any of you guys out there, I'd run out and download it now (something I'm definitely going to do) because an amazing deal like this won't last for long. The new EP, titled The Thing We'll Never Know, is, if nothing else, a dynamic first punch at the record industry by The Honesty. "Intentions" features amazing guitar riffs by Aparicio and Harber alike, and the drumming by Davis drives the track through a tunnel of melody and rhythm in a way that seems to have become lost in the current music world. To push it over the top, Gilbreath's vocals are clean and clear, a soothing reminder that smooth and polished vocals can do as much hard-rock damage with as much attitude as coarse and growling screams. Stepping away from the Flyleaf-influenced harsh vocal setting, The Honesty, and indeed Gilbreath in particular, marry the smooth, melodic vocals of Meg & Dia and Paramore to the fretwork and rhythms of Boys Like Girls and Hit the Lights. 
Things continue with "The Reason." But this isn't the slow, moody track that you think of when you hear this title (a possible throwback to Hoobastank's 2005 song of the same title, though only in my opinion). With Gilbreath's vocals on top, Aparicio's and Harber's guitar work so well together that I can't pick one guitar from another, and the resulting riffs intermingle in the best way with Davis's rhythms. I particularly love the clever, sing-along lyrics here: it is most apparent that The Honesty put as much hard work into their writing as they do their instrumentation. Gilbreath's voice cuts through everything like a flame through ice, and as it comes through the speakers, the only thing I can think is that The Honesty have only just tapped the potential I know they are capable of. When you hear a group as cohesive and on their mark as The Honesty are, you just know, as I do, that they're destined for big things.   
The Things We'll Never Know is filled with incredible tracks like "On the Line (Follow Me)," which feature a fantastic group vocal and a harmony that the others might bristle with jealousy over, and "Sold My Soul to Radio," which demonstrates that The Honesty can be just as much attitude-driven as they can be melody-steered. The riff and palm-mutes on "Sold My Soul to Radio," as well as Gilbreath's breathy vocals, push The Honesty's EP higher than I could have ever imagined. With an EP like The Things We'll Never Know under their belts, The Honesty are on their way to the national stage, I can feel it. 
As "In the Shadows" plays for me in the background, I struggle to find words to end on. The Honesty have succeeded in totally and unexpectedly blowing my mind in the course of ten minutes. If they reach every one of their listeners and fans the way they have reached me today, the sky is the limit for them. I know we're going to be seeing great things from this group, and I'm more than a little excited to see just how much they have to offer. I'm sure we'll soon find out.  

Sounds Like: Paramore, Meg & Dia, Tegan and Sarah, Boys Like Girls

Key Tracks from The Things We'll Never Know: "Intentions," "The Reason," "Sold My Soul to Radio," "Warning!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

All I Know Is That Vanity Kills

I am more than a little excited to bring you this new band today. In fact, you could say that I'm practically bursting because I know that these guys are gonna totally blow you all away. Like I've mentioned before, I'm searching for new avenues to explore for you guys, so that you're getting a musical fix from every corner of the world, and every sub-genre in the rock family. This is one of those new fixes that will have you guys searching frantically for more music by this band; I know it. With a sound that's slick and rejuvenating, this group will wash you away in power chords and blast-off choruses like you haven't been in years.
Out of Kortrijk, West Flanders, Belgium, All I Know is Ward Dufraimont on lead vocals and guitar, Michaël Neyt on lead guitar and backing vocals, Amély Mondy on bass, and Bram Steemans live on drums. If these guys (and girl) have anything at all going for them, it's dynamically smooth vocals set atop blasting power chords and sparkling note progressions. Filling in the spaces between are hard-edged bass-lines and drums that will have you banging your head like you did the first time you heard "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me." One thing I love about this group is their old-school approach to song structure. There's definitely something to be said for the two or three verses with choruses in between, and a sick solo over a rhythmic bridge. Today the classic guitar riff is underestimated, but there's a reason it's classic. For this kind of stadium rock, there's nothing better than the formula that these guys use to shoot me full of adrenaline and rock nostalgia.
All I Know's newest effort, Vanity Kills, was rereleased worldwide on October 29th, and I'm most certainly be one of the people trying to scrape together a few bucks to get it. If nothing else, the first track I hear from it is pure rock gold. There's nothing I can say about the track "Rain" other than it's just perfect. Starting with a sick dual guitar riff by Dufraimont and Neyt, "Rain" is something halfway in between a power-ballad and a full-out rock anthem. The building in the song is incredible, and the energy only gets higher as the pressure finally breaks free in a sonic firestorm of notes and Bon Jovi-esque vocals in the chorus. I particularly love the lyrics in this song, but one thing that can't be overstated is how Mondy uses her bass to drive everything higher and faster, and I'm sure that live Steemans just kills on the drums. The solo here is like something out of 1986, and I love it. A musical mix of Bon Jovi's guitars, Def Leppard's rhythm section, and Scorpions' sharpened vocals, "Rain" is, if nothing else, a killer song to have, and one that Vanity Kills certainly benefits from. This has to be the first song you listen to by AIK. Hearing it for the first time actually sent chills down my spine, so that should tell you all you need to know.
AIK keeps things at full blast with the next track, "Into Your Heart." Clearly inspired by Bon Jovi with perhaps a little vocal inspiration by Bruce Springsteen, The Boss himself, "Into Your Heart" has not only a great chorus that will stick in your heard all day and every night, but also an intro the likes of which I can honestly say I haven't heard since the first time I heard Bon Jovi's "Runaway." The keyboard intro is so retro it actually sounds like it belongs in an '80s teen movie. Dufraimont's vocals have a great rhythm and tone, and you can tell that Neyt is just itching to let go on his guitar, which he eventually does during the solo. Letting loose in a flurry of notes and chords, Neyt works well with Mondy and the drums to create an audio tapestry of color and emotion. The lyrics "never gonna stop until I break into your heart" are words every person can connect to and that's something that makes All I Know's sound accessible to any listener.
The last track for me, "All Night Long," is a mix of hair-metal glitz and hard-rock edge. Starting with a Poison-esque riff, All I Know quickly pick up the pace and already I can feel this one as the feel-good song of the album. The vocals and rhythm are curiously Va Halen in reminder and effect, but once the chorus comes up, it's everything Poison and Def Lep with a partying groove and great lyrics. The solo is as original as anything I've ever heard, and with clear influences by Zeppelin and Aerosmith, and maybe a little KISS too, All I Know strikes gold again. This would be a great track for any radio play, college or commercial, and is one that could definitely bring new listeners to the station. As for other uses, I'm thinking the soundtrack ending to a great teen movie or a camp slideshow, and of course a killer encore at any show. If All I Know did everything else wrong, "All Night Long" would certainly make up for it. Luckily, that's not the case at all.
I can't wait to see the reaction to Vanity Kills. This album is gonna sound like nothing we've heard in a very long time. For the people who grew up in and love the '80s, it's gonna be a nostalgic kickback to the glory days of high school, and for us younger people, it's gonna be a refreshing breath of melodic metal in a world where such albums have become few and far between. If there was ever a band to rekindle the love and interest in Def Leppard's working-metal sound, All I Know is it. Vanity Kills is just their first strike out, and from the sounds on this record, it's apparent that it won't be their last. Not by a long shot.

Sounds Like: Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Scorpions

Key Tracks from Vanity Kills: "Rain," "Into Your Heart," All Night Long"

Check out All I Know more at: and

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Riot Tapes: A Sound Like Winter

Up until now, I've featured artists from around the world, though predominantly from the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada. Lately however, I've been broadening my horizons by looking out in new directions to find new talent and different sounds for you guys to sink your teeth into. This is one of those new directions.
It is my distinct pleasure to present the first ever artist ever to come to NewRockNews43 from Ireland. Out of the city of Dublin, The Riot Tapes are an indie-rock quintet with a uniquely '90s-rock/2000s-alternative sound that blends Garbage-like vocals with Cranberries-influenced instrumentals to provide a new hybrid of indie-rock sounds. Composed at its core of Elaine Doyle (lead vocals), Tim Clarke (keys and production) and Chris O'Brien (guitar, background vocals and production (also bass on demo recordings)), The Riot Tapes are rounded out live by Robert Crosbie (guitar and background vocals), Colm O'Riordan (bass), and Graham Dunne (drums). With this dynamite lineup and a few shining demos in hand, The Riot Tapes are showing that the sounds that abound within the Irish homeland are more than just those of Sinéad O'Connor and U2. Brilliant in their execution, the Riot Tape demos showcase some of the best attributes that set this band apart from others: smoky vocals, gently distorted guitars, and a building rhythm section that lifts a dazzling key-progression to the forefront.
This is no truer than on The Riot Tapes' brilliant lead-off track, "Photograph." Right from the beginning, the melody is set with O'Brien's guitar and Clarke's keys. Doyle's vocals remind me fondly of everything I love about K's Choice and Letters to Cleo, though with a certain power the speaks to a slight Cranberries influence. I love how the drums just fill in, passionately but not over-driven, and the bass is thumping perfectly in the semi-undertone. It is clear to me that with a rhythm section set up like the way this one is, Dunne and O'Riordan must give one hell of a show. One thing I absolutely love about this song is the chorus. It's short, it's sharp, and it's just incredibly catchy. The verses too, though, are soft and strong, perfect for any kind of sing-along accompaniment at a show. This is the kind of song I'd expect to hear on the soundtrack to an indie film, or maybe just something I'd like to have on my car radio during a crisp autumn afternoon. It's heavy and romantic, melodic and poppy, but not overbearing or drowning. For any producers out there looking for a song that speaks to a great marriage of pop-song dynamics to indie attitude, this is it. Just one listen, and I know I'll have this song on my top plays all week. Oh, and did I mention that it has a great bridge and interlude?
The Riot Tapes continue to amaze me with "Open Eyed Dreams," a soft, ballad-esque track that slows things down and makes you think deeply about that relationship it reminds you of. One of the best ways I can describe the sound of this song is like pure winter: the days getting dark early, the cold wind around you, and that special person you wish you could spend all your time with at home, sitting on the couch waiting for you. Doyle's vocals are low and romantic, and the lyrics are so deep-set, it's like she's speaking right to me. The lead guitar notes provided by O'Brien rest lightly on rhythmic chords, which in turn find a home on top of great drumming and bass lines. One thing I'm sure of is that with a bright melody like that one that graces this track, the teamwork of Crosbie and O'Brien on guitar must be amazing live. At just the length of a normal single, "Open Eyed Dreams" is powerful in ways that 7:00 songs aren't. This is the song to play when you're turning the lights down low and drifting off to sleep in the cool night. With heartfelt verses and a chorus that's easy in the truest sense of the word, "Open Eyed Dreams" showcases The Riot Tapes at their most romantic. I can hear the longing in Doyle's voice, and this one is a five-star track if I ever heard one.
And then there's "Everything Is Local." This one is an immediate departure from the first two tracks, and proves the The Riot tapes can do fast-paced songs just as well as deep ballads. Doyle's vocals are almost ghostly, floating all around me as the drumming on the cymbals and high-hats is something for TRT to brag about. I love the way TRT have distorted their guitars with alternative vibes, and their interaction together only serves to bring this song higher. The bass lines are simple, but altogether beneficial to the song, and with a quick wrap-up, "Everything Is Local" may perhaps be TRT's most interesting track, musically and dynamically.
If not though, it certainly only adds to The Riot Tapes' overall unique performance and undeniable talent. An abstract display of how music can be new and different with a classic flavor, songs like "Photograph" and "Everything Is Local" will rejuvenate you and make you nostalgic for a simpler, more romantic time. The Riot Tapes have certainly outdone themselves, and if these are just three songs from their repertoire, then I can't wait to see what else they have in store.

Sounds Like: Garbage, K's Choice, The Cranberries, Letters to Cleo

Key Tracks: "Photograph," "Open Eyed Dreams," "Everything Is Local"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Little More Dark with Tai Tai Alibi

Hey guys, it's great to be back! I've been searching for a while now for a new group whose sound captures what I think of when I hear the words alternative and grunge. I feel like I haven't been focusing on this genre as much as I have on others in the past couple months, and though I've written about some great metal and hard-rock groups, there's a certain alienated twinge missing from the mix.
Though it's not 1992 anymore and many would argue that the whole alienated grunge thing was over the top, and just hyped to sell more albums after the Seattle explosion, the term nonetheless expresses a certain reserved feeling and detachment that still resonates with me, if not with many others too.
So it is on an excited note that I share with you all this group, Tai Tai Alibi, an alternative-grunge foursome from Hong Kong, China. Composed of lead vocalist/guitarist Tim Hills, lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Collins, bassist/vocalist Rafe D'Aquino, and drummer Matt Cartwright, Tai Tai Alibi are a dark and brooding force to be reckoned with. With a particular sound and swagger that I haven't seen in a while, Tai Tai Alibi's songs are simple, melodic, hardcore, and almost romantic in their innate alienation. Maybe that's what these guys were going for when they wrote these tunes, maybe not. That's just what I get from the music when I listen to it, and it's a feeling I really dig.
I see that these guys only have a few plays in their Myspace, and that's definitely something that confuses me. Even if they were to break up and move on to new projects tomorrow, I would most definitely want these songs on my iPod. There's just something that's excellent about them. But enough of this, I'll just pick from the lot and let you guys do the rest.
"A Little More Empty" is a song that has the perfect intro for this entire setlist. A song of a grunge nature with a metal-like buildup, "A Little More Empty" clearly showcases Tai Tai Alibi's mighty rhythm section that rests just behind their melodic stage. Cartwright's drumming is indiscriminate and soldiers on through D'Aquino's bass notes with a resigned intensity that makes the base of the song strong and forceful. D'Aquino, meanwhile, is solid on his bass, as his lines carry quickly, but altogether romantically right to the chorus. Collins' guitar notes are eery and almost resigned in nature, but still strong and sharp enough to rip right through me. A nod, no doubt, to Jerry Cantrell's technique of making the guitar mesh with the vocal undertones in a haunting, yet beautiful sonic bid. To add to the haunt and chill behind the guitar notes, though, Hills' vocals fit just right. An asset on his guitar just as much as with his unique vocals, Hills takes these guys higher, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Tai Tai Alibi sparked a whole new post-grunge revolution.
Things are harder-edged and more intense with TTA's next number, "Lost in You." With a reserving drum intro by Cartwright, I'm immediately impressed with Collins' guitar notes. They're hot while at the same time not burning through me in too much of a metal way. Perfectly alternative and grunge in their planning and execution, the guitar notes are only furthered by Hills' chords. D'Aquino, meanwhile, is on the side, in a sort of secretive place, preferring to add to the song without taking over and making things too bass-heavy. While Hills continues to impress me with his peculiar vocal dynamics, I'm struck the minute that Collins lets go with a beautiful solo. Maybe this sound isn't pure Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, but it's a beautiful mix of the two with a tasty Alice in Chains polish on top. A song you definitely don't want to miss, "Lost in You" is a fantastic number, fit for any live performance or album release.
"Strawman" is a song reveling in creepy awe and dripping in eery self-awareness. Most certainly a perfect song for any Halloween or haunted house occasion, "Strawman" showcases just how versatile Tai Tai Alibi can be. Though I'd love to hear this song blasting loudly at me live, in a funny way it also would work for an indie flick. The chorus just has one of those guitar progressions that draws you in while the rhythm section surrounds you in crashing waves that fill your senses. Tai Tai Alibi outdo themselves here, and impress me again and again. "Strawman" is definitely one of my favorite songs on their setlist, and a song I would hardly be surprised to see on any demo recording. Oh, and the solo by Collins is just sick.
It still remains a mystery to me why these guys have so few plays on their Myspace page. True, grunge and alternative-rock seem to have taken a backseat to emo-punk and pop-rock in the last few years, but still there can be no denying the talent when a group like this emerges. The spirit of '90s alternative lives on in group like Tai Tai Alibi, and that's something I'd glad for. I have no doubt in my mind that these guys will find their audience, and that when they do, they'll be an underground phenomenon. It's just something I can feel in my bones. Brilliant.

Sounds Like: Alice in Chains, Bush, Collective Soul, Candlebox

Key Tracks: "A Little More Empty," "Lost in You," "Strawman," "Cycle"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Short Break

Hey guys. So you've all probably noticed that I have posted in about one month, and for this I just wanted to tell you why. As you all know, sometimes I need a break to recharge, and this was certainly one of those times. I'm sorry I didn't give you guys any notice, but I was truly burned out for a while and just needed to think about other things so I could get my head back.
The good news though, is that I spent a lot of the time doing brainstorming on how to make NewRockNews43 bigger and better for your guys, so let's just say there are some plans in the works. They won't be quick and will probably take some time, but the wait will be worth it, I promise. Also, I've spent the last four weeks finding new groups for you guys that will completely make up for my time off. Every one of these artists has something special, and will most certainly bring something great to NRN43. I intend to post my first new article on Friday, so make sure you check in!! It's gonna be great guys. Thanks for your patience, and as always, thanks for reading! It's good to be back!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Riding in the Motorcade

I know I gave you guys something special with Cloé Beaudoin's new EP a few days ago, but I figured why not introduce these guys this week too since I've been listening to them non-stop for about ten days now. To those of you out there reading from Australia and New Zealand, they won't seem as new as I might assume, because from what I've heard and read, they've been on their local rendition of Top of the Pops. That's a name I'm definitely familiar with, being a hardcore Busted fan, so I immediately know what that means. For us here in the States though, and indeed the northern hemisphere, they're fresh and new, and I can't wait to dive right in.
Motorcade are an indie/pop-rock four-piece hailing from Aukland, in the island nation of New Zealand, and as such, are a first here. I've had bands from Australia, Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, and even Sweden, but New Zealand is a first. Either there aren't as many good artists there (which I highly doubt) or I'm just having a hard time finding them all (which is much more plausible), but whatever the case, Motorcade's sound is premiere for its genre, and a breath of fresh, crisp air in the realm of indie rock. Now things have become overrun with groups like Phoenix, who are just too synthe-looped for my taste, but these guys hit it out of the ballpark with their old-school indie-rock that crosses new-age prep with classic garage grit. Comprising members Eden Mulholland (vocals and guitar), Geordie McCallum (guitar and keys), Scott Sutherland (bass), and Will Mulholland (drums), Motorcade's style is poppy and catchy, with enough of a great rhythm section to give it a real rocking punch. Think Vampire Weekend's prep-polish meets 1990s' garage-pop smirk. And maybe it's just because I'm American, but the accents these guys have only add to the overall indie tone behind the music.
Riding on the success of their acclaimed self-titled and Into the Fall EP's, Motorcade have just recently finished the debut, full-length album effort in the form of Holy Moly. If nothing else this album continues the indie-pop sound that I'm really beginning to love, and that they must have hooked fans of their EP's with. Devoid of the filler and lack-luster tracks that typically surround the one or two good songs on a debut effort, Holy Moly drives from one song to another with a passion and intensity that is fun and quirkily romantic in the best ways.
The title track on Holy Moly is, more than anything, an infectious song. With a fun, dance-around beat and quirky, light-hearted lyrics that make you happy to be alive, Motorcade blast this one out of the park with a single swing. Eden Mulholland's vocals are preppy and funny, and his guitar fits seamlessly with McCallum's notes and keys. The melody in this song would definitely save it if it were drowning, but happily that's not the case. Will Mulholland's drums are a straight kickback (pun intended) to the prep-rock beats of 1990s and Vampire Weekend, and coupled with Sutherland's bass, bring a contagious dance tone to the song. With a chorus that's simple, funny, and almost geekily cute, Motorcade strike solid gold with "Holy Moly." If this isn't the lead single that brings these guys international attention, I'll eat my shoes. Rarely are there songs where everything is right, but this is certainly one of them. Most bands never get close to a breakthrough single, and here Motorcade seem to have invented the idea for it. Brilliant.
Now I don't know if this next track is from Holy Moly too, but if it's not, and I find out that they wrote this for just an EP, I'll just be blown away. "Tightrope Highway" is just fantastic. It's got the driving guitar rhythm and notes provided by Eden Mulholland and McCallum, and on top of that, McCallum's keys augment the melody of the song in the best way possible. Mulholland's voice is high and noteworthy, as Will Mulholland and Sutherland take care of the drums and bass, respectively, providing an indie-pop stage and beat for all the notes and melodies to dance around on in the quirkiest of ways. Like with "Holy Moly," "Tightrope Highway" gets bragging rights for a fantastic music video. In an age where music videos have become sex-centered and shallow, Motorcade show they can still have fun in a geeky way and make indie-pop cool to listen to. Most certainly a five-star track if there ever was one.
"Oldest Trick in the Book" starts with a great melody from McCallum on his keys, and Eden Mulholland's voice is more alternative-rock here, owing to a more hard-rock-inspired drumbeat. Besides the guitar notes and rhythm which make this song cheerful to listen to, one thing that certainly stands out here are Sutherland's bass lines which add a certain edge to the song. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand, thousand times: great bass players make already great bands earth-shattering in their effect, and here Motorcade show just how well it can work. One of the most underrated instruments, the bass gives soul to a song, and in an indie-prep-rock song like this, that only serves to make it better. Aside from outstanding musicianship, though, I must applaud Motorcade for such a great concept of a song. They prove again and again that songs don't need to be complicated and ground-shaking; if they have a funny concept that people can relate to, they'll be successful. I absolutely love what the Mulhollands, McCallum and Sutherland have done here.
I could go on and on about Motorcade. I find myself popping my head to the rhythms and melodies of "Commandeering" and "My Friends" just as much as to "Holy Moly" and "Tightrope Highway." But if I go any farther I know I won't be able to do these guys justice. Soon people will talk about Motorcade in the same breath as Vampire Weekend and Radiohead, and I can't wait to be the one to say, "Told ya so."
A solid four-piece that can pride themselves on great musicianship and a slew of brilliantly crafted songs, Motorcade are now on my radar and won't be leaving for a very long time. If you like anything indie or prep-pop, or are just looking for some feel-good music to listen to in this beautiful autumn weather, Motorcade are your guys. It seems to me right now that no sunny, autumn day would be complete without "Holy Moly" or "Oldest Trick in the Book" playing in the background. Check these guys out, they'll definitely take you for a drive.

Sounds Like: 1990s, Vampire Weekend, Radiohead, Talking Heads

Key Tracks: "Holy Moly," "Tightrope Highway," "Oldest Trick in the Book," "Commandeering"

Check out Motorcade more at: and!/pages/Motocade/11404192852?v=wall&ref=ts

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Deliverance to Peace, Cloé Beaudoin's Way

So any of you guys out there who have been reading for a while know that Cloé Beaudoin isn't new to New Rock News 43. She was featured here as a new artist about a month ago, and now I'm pleased to bring here back again, this time with a new twist.
Fresh from the release of her debut album, Living in the Shadow, Beaudoin's new release is her Rest in Peace EP (typeset as Rest in Peace- EP), which consists of four tracks, three acoustic, and one all-new, full-band recording. That would be enough to excite me, and should be enough to do the same to you guys, but NRN43 is all about detail and no bullshit, and I know it's been a slow couple of days, so I'm gonna go as deep into this EP as I can.
The title track on the EP, "Rest in Peace (RIP)" is, in my opinion, Beaudoin's greatest triumph. That was what I felt and thought when I heard the acoustic version of it on her Youtube channel. Now one can only imagine what I think with her release of the all-new, full-band version of the song. On her Youtube channel, Beaudoin notes that the song is inspired by the popular fiction novels in the Twilight Saga series, and it's my concrete opinion that if this song doesn't appear in the next Twilight movie release, than the director behind that camera is a complete moron. I would even go so far as to push for this song's use in the trailers for the film. The first time I heard "Rest in Peace (RIP)" I had chills. Now it feels like the whole ground is breaking apart under me. The way this songs builds from a soft, acoustic ballad to a hard-rock-inspired romantic anthem is incredible. The drums and bass that Beaudoin has clearly spent a lot of time and effort getting just right give this track the hardcore kick it lacked acoustically, and the stop-start palm-muted chords are post-grunge in effect until the blast-out chorus that is a clear throwback to Evanescence and Flyleaf takes off. Beaudoin's voice is a force all its own, and its bright hypnotic tone shoots this song right to the top of my most-played list for the week, and probably the month. In every way that Evanescence succeeds with "Bring Me to Life," and that Amy Lee herself succeeds vocally with her part on Seether's song "Broken," Cloé Beaudoin so triumphs on "Rest in Peace (RIP)." With a building guitar progression that climaxes in tragic and romantic intensity, I declare once again that this is Beaudoin's finest effort yet. And with a song like this under her belt, I know I have to hear more.
I took time to talk about "Deliverance" last time, so I'm gonna move passed that one right now, though it still stands as an amazing track, and one of my favorite songs by Beaudoin. Fresh and Romeo & Juliet in tone and nature, "Deliverance" is most certainly a song I would love to hear with a full band when Beaudoin decides it's the right time. Even acoustically, Beaudoin knocks it out of the ballpark with this one.
After "Deliverance" I move to a track I haven't heard before. "Dying Awake" has, if nothing else, a great title. Slow and sensual in its beginning, Beaudoin's vocals are smokey and romantic, and fog my mind with the haze of lust and love on a stormy winter's night by the fire. The chords are simple, and I love it. There is no need for any meticulous or intricate note progressions here, and truthfully, it might almost ruin the simple romanticism of the track. Cloé Beaudoin's darkly romantic and almost tragically loving music is something so unique I have to make up a new word to describe it. With a sound and tone I can only describe as romantcore (for whatever that means), Beaudoin contributes another five-star track to what promises to be a must-hear EP.
Lastly, there is "Brink of Insanity," a song that is much faster than the previous two, even if it i still acoustic. Beaudoin proves here with sharp chords and strong, determined vocals that she can throw her weight around with the other heavy players of the alternative scene, and not just sit safely in the acoustic light. A great song that seems a departure for Beaudoin in a way or two I can't quite put my finger on, that's why I love it. The mystery behind the notes and chords adds to its dusky bliss. The last track on the EP, "Brink of Insanity" wraps up nicely, and furnishes the other songs with a nice black bow and a metaphorical rose.
On here return to New Rock News 43, Beaudoin brings with her an EP most deserving of praise, and proof that her time away was not in vain. I am more than a little excited to get my hands on this, and you better believe that when I get up to school and on the radio, "Rest in Peace (RIP)" will be on heavy rotation for me. It's not news that this girl is going places, but I don't think I even knew what kind of talent she had buried deep down, and now, I know I and the rest of her fans are only beginning to see the tip of the iceberg.

Sounds Like: Evanescence, Amy Lee (solo), Flyleaf, Meg & Dia

Key Tracks from Rest in Peace- EP: "Rest in Peace (RIP)," "Dying Awake," "Brink of Insanity"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

No, We're Not Without Grace

Like I promised a few days ago, here's a new group that will totally blow your minds. Since my last couple posts were on hard-rock and metal bands, I figured I'd lighten it up a bit, and throw you guys a band that's got a sound that won't drill blood-wells into your ears (though we all know that those bands definitely have their place haha), but rather sooth you in a melodic sea of emotion.
I can certainly say that these guys (and girl) are a first, as they present the first group New Rock News 43 has ever reviewed to make their way from snowy Sweden, way up in the Scandinavian Peninsula. For any Swedish readers out there, you can most certainly rejoice, because I'm blatantly and bluntly jealous that you can lay claim to this band and I can't, being from the States.
But enough of this beating around the bush bullshit, here for the first time, and I certainly hope not the last, is Not Without Grace, an ambient-rock trio who show favor beyond all measure.
Composed of Linnéa Herlogsson (lead vocals), brother Alexander Herlogsson (rhythm guitar) and Christoffer Franzén (lead guitar), with live musicians Anton Weihard (bass) and Fredrik Sellegren (drums), Not Without Grace strikes out from their native Göteborg, Västra Götalands län, Sweden, with a sound that relies on the ambient interplay between the Alexander Herlogsson's and Christoffer Franzén's guitars and Linnéa Herlogsson's smokey vocals. In the same way K's choice struck me with "Not An Addict," Not Without Grace immediately sends a bolt of curiosity and emotion running through me with their trite, though not surprisingly, fulfilling setlist.
Though in the midst of recording their debut album, Not Without Grace find ample time to wow me with their first track "Cut Me Loose." I can only imagine that Weihard and Sellegren provide a strong backbone on this one live, as it rests sturdily on a bass and drum partnership that infects every fiber of my mind with a contagious beat I just can't forget. Yet from second one, it's the guitars that draw me in, and the vocals that give me reason to stay. Alexander Herlogsson's rhythm guitar sails just over the bass and drums, finding a comfortable place between the rhythm section and Franzén's lead guitar notes. With an ambient progression that The Edge and U2 could happily find a home for on any of their acclaimed albums, the stage is set for Linnéa Herlogsson to sweep me away with her soft and sensual, yet oh so resilient vocals. Herlogsson's vocals are so subtle and sultry that they seem to cloud my mind, and once again I'm flashing sonic plays of K's Choice and Garbage in my head as I listen. Drowning in the proverbial sea of melody and emotion, I find a tiny lifeboat in the rhythmic downstrokes of Herlogsson's guitar married to the chiming, R.E.M.-style notes that Franzén puts forth. The only way I can even begin to describe the chorus in this song is like standing in the eye of a hurricane, and watching the waves and wind swirl around you. That's exactly what you feel when the younger Herlogsson takes off in her vocal assault on the world and all the ears in it. "Cut Me Loose" is most certainly one of the key tracks on NWG's demo effort, and this one, much like "Radio Free Europe" did before, has the potential to drive its respective artists right to the top of the mainstream charts, as well as garnering them respective play on college radio. Maybe I'm right and maybe I'm not, but that's exactly what I think and predict.
Track two is "Joshua," a fitting name for a song whose group seems to take so much direction from U2. Though U2's critically acclaimed album The Joshua Tree is probably not the basis for this song or its title, I still randomly make the connection in my head, so don't take me at my word on that. The one thing you can hold me to, though, is that this song is brilliant in its sonic power, and plays to me an audio rainbow right before my eyes. With less emphasis on the drums and bass, Alexander Herlogsson and Franzén are free to step forward and showcase their inarguable guitar skills. Weaving a string-based tapestry of sonic bliss, the two guitarists set a perfect stage for Linnéa Herlogsson's soft vocals. One thing I love about Linnéa Herlogsson's singing is that I can understand every single word. Clear, intelligible and resonant, Herlogsson's vocals seam to weave themselves in and out of whatever tiny keyholes that Alexander Herlogsson's and Franzén's guitars might leave open. The choruses and pre-choruses in "Joshua" are high and melodic, lending a hand to any rainy day or sunny afternoon. While most songs have their place for a particular mood or day, "Joshua" seems to find comfort in both the cold, rainy days and the warm spring afternoons. The mark of a truly great song, undoubtedly.
Not Without Grace continue with "Confession," and the minute that Alexander Herlogsson's and Franzén's guitars appear on the scene, it's an audio free-for-all. Then the drums and bass roll in, and the rhythm in this song is something so reminiscent of the '90s that I find myself wondering where were these guys 15 years ago. Probably in school, the same as me, but all I can say is that the '90s could only have been better with this song on the charts. A song that might rival those of Garbage or Alanis Morissette, "Confession" showcases the exact reason that I believe in my heart Not Without Grace will find their place in the alternative-rock scene, high above all the hacks that will undoubtedly try to follow and copy. Linnéa Herlogsson's vocals are a gift, pure and simple. A voice like hers can't be bought or cultivated, not with all the money or the best classical training in the world. Gifts like that are things you're born with, and Not Without Grace reaps the enormous benefits of laying Linnéa Herlogsson's gift next to those of Alexander Herlogsson and Franzén, forming a tight-knit symphony of joy and curiosity, the likes of which I can only give it up for with the best I have to write. "Confession" is the the song on the album that gives you hope, and if it's not already, this one promises to most certainly find itself as one of the crowd favorites.
Last for me is Not Without Grace's demo of their new song, "Hide Away." If the other songs weren't enough to convince even the most stodgy record-label executive that NWG has that oh-so-special spark, then "Hide Away" will definitely put them in their place. A soft and sensual ballad that floats high above all the anger and spite in today's world, "Hide Away" will bring you to a place you can only say you've seldom been before. Definitely the best way to finish up any album or show, "Hide Away" would be my pick for any encore song. Not Without Grace have certainly outdone themselves with this one, and the minute you listen to it, you know it. Rarely is anything so simple to state.
As Not Without Grace descend from the snowy banks of the Swedish shore, all I can do is watch with excitement and anticipation. Sewing musical seeds that are so sweet and resilient, you can almost taste them as the music comes from the speakers, Not Without Grace prove to be one of the premier upcoming acts from Northern Europe, at least in my humble opinion. The Herlogsson siblings and Franzén are definitely going places, and as a new full-fledged fan, I find myself more than a little excited to see where those places are. Not to be forgotten anytime soon, if ever, Not Without Grace are only getting started. And what's to come, I suspect, will blow everything I thought I knew about ambient and alternative-rock right out of the water. I can't wait.

Sounds Like: K's Choice, Garbage, Letters to Cleo, U2

Key Tracks: "Cut Me Loose," "Joshua," "Confession," "Hide Away"

Check out Not Without Grace more at: and

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Follow and Get the Word Out!!

Hey guys, hope you've all been doing well. I have a bunch of awesome new groups coming up for you in the coming weeks, but we'll get there in a few days. I promise they'll all be well worth the wait.
Now though, I wanted to let you all know how stoked I get when I see you guys reading more and more of my articles. It started with a few readers here in the States, some in the U.K., and some here and there in Australia and Canada. Now, I'm more than pleased to report to all you out there that New Rock News 43 is getting hits from Japan, Hungary, Russia, Thailand, India, and Germany, among numerous other countries. You guys are just as much to credit as anyone, because without you guys spreading the word out there, New Rock News 43 wouldn't be anywhere near what it's becoming, and I am very excited for the numerous possibilities I see in the future.
If any of you guys out there find yourselves reading almost weekly (and even better if it's almost daily), then sign up and follow New Rock News 43 on Facebook and Twitter for immediate updates on new artists, new happenings, and anything else cool. Also, make sure you follow here, on New Rock News 43's Blogspot, for the newest article updates. Follow on Facebook here:!/pages/New-Rock-News-43/298475705042 and here on Twitter:
Once again, I thank you all so much, and I would just lastly like to take this short post to remind you guys to make any comments you want. It helps me every time you post a comment, so don't feel shy, and let me know what you'd like to see more of, hear more of, or just let me know if you're really diggin' any particular article. My email is posted, and you are all more than welcome to send me one whenever you like, and if any of you are aspiring artists, send me some demos or a Myspace address and I'll most certainly take a look.
Thank you for all your support guys, wouldn't be able to do it without you! Peace!!

Follow New Rock News 43 on Facebook here:!/pages/New-Rock-News-43/298475705042

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Friday, September 17, 2010

And I'm Off Into the Night

Months have passed since I delivered to you all a group a little outside our blast radius here in the States. Though I have brought you a few groups from Canada, and they totally rocked, to keep things interesting and fresh, I decided to take a journey to another hemisphere this week to give you all a taste of a band that is slightly out of reach for us here in the U.S.
Enter Into the Night, a melodic/alternative-rock sextet from Melbourne, Australia who are taking the island nation by storm. With their new eponymous debut album in hand, Into the Night are pumping the coastlines and Outback similarly full of a rock that drips in alternative sense and hardens over with just the right amount of grit. The neo-hardcore arrangements that fill Into the Night's debut effort range in influence from post-grunge and hard-rock to hardcore-punk and metal. Like Homebrewe and Diamond Eye, my other NRN43 Australian vets from a while ago, Into the Night are themselves full of talent and hunger, and are aiming for the moon with their big-beat tracks and stick-in-your-head riffs.
Composed of members Patrick Broughton (lead vocals), Ben Graham (lead and rhythm guitar), Warren Pedlar (lead and rhythm guitar), Andy Vancuylenburg (keyboards), Lee Sinclair (bass), and Jules Bruce (drums), ITN's sound is just the right mix of hard-rock simplicity and metal intricacy to keep me guessing at every turn.
The first song on ITN's playlist is immediately the best way for me to start familiarizing myself with these guys. I can only describe this intro as purely epic. Building on itself again and again like Metallica's "Enter Sandman," "You Won't Know," starts by feeding me an AC/DC-inspired riff while the rhythm section builds higher and higher behind it. As Graham begins with his guitar in a riff-driven, "Highway to Hell" fashion, Pedlar pick-slides in with screaming notes that flash portraits of Van Halen and Megadeth in my mind. And as Pedlar begins, I can hear Bruce's high-hats start, then fade out as he quickly moves to the toms and snare, with Sinclair following suit on his bass. Then Broughton begins, and his vocals are rough and oh so satisfying. The one thing I was dreading was to hear the misstep of marrying this beautiful hardcore track to high falsetto vocals. But Into the Night aren't tempted, and as Broughton's snarls menacingly into the mic, Vancuylenburg takes everything higher with his keys set nicely and secretively behind the wall of guitars. As the chorus approaches and takes off, Broughton's vocals get higher in range, but always stay in perfect synch with the hard-rock platform below him. Bruce's fills and rolls are Maiden-esque in nature, and Sinclair's bass is a powerful force to be reckoned with. A track that tops out at 6:04, "You Won't Know" is a melodic-hardcore trip, but one thing this track boasts that others can't is a bridge that shows not only gritty angst, but mature musicianship. As the bridge approaches, Graham and Pedlar scale back on their guitars, and the rhythm team of Bruce and Sinclair becomes almost transparent, save for a simple cymbal beat by Bruce. What lifts this track even high, though, is Vancuylenburg's resonating keystrokes on his piano, bringing to a hardcore track a sense of symphonic grace that it's all the better for. As Bruce's drums pick up and Graham and Pedlar join in on a shining solo, the track crescendos into a mass of grit and grace. Most certainly the must-hear track on the album, "You Won't Know" is everything right about hard-rock and metal.
If "You Won't Know" was symphonic and graceful, "Journey Into Doubt" promises to be a masterpiece of clashing guitars and driving rhythms. From second one, Pedlar and Graham impress me with an intricately-laid guitar wall. Then Bruce counts in, and Sinclair's bass is something to be treasured on this one, as it plays front and center, strong yet nimble, and bombastic in the best ways. Broughton's vocals are coarse and serrated, leaning towards a Three Days Grace influence, but soften just a little for the verses. Graham's and Pedlar's chords and notes provide the best reason to lock your door and air-guitar to this song all day. With a driving rhythm that is pushed further only by anthemic vocals and lyrics, "Journey Into Doubt" is a heavy, hardcore excuse to put your devilhorns up in the air and bang your head like there's no tomorrow. And yet, like "You Won't Know," "Journey Into Doubt" shows a softer, more introspective side, as the guitars take a mini break, and Vancuylenberg's key notes shoot this one full of emotion and epic adventure. That, my friends, is the best way I can describe it. And then as Sinclair's bass starts to move faster, the guitars and drums pick up again, and Broughton brings this one to a raging finish. If ever there was a song begging for a live performance, this one is it.
"Such Is Life" begins in a different way that its two predecessors. Vancuylenburg is the maestro on this one, and starts it off with a piano progression that is beautiful and curious at the same time. Some of you may think that the piano isn't very hard-rock, but let me tell you, when it's married to a pounding bass-line, it gets pretty hardcore pretty fast. Sincalir's notes compliment Vancuylenburg's keystrokes in the best way, and this track only builds from there. Broughton's vocals are a little softer here, and the guitars are more reserved, hovering just over simple drumbeat by Bruce. Sometimes, though, simplicity is the key, and as the guitars enter, this one is, in all senses of the word, big.
Yet Into the Night continue to impress me with their versatility as "Coming Down" is the polar opposite of "Such Is Life." A fast, guitar-driven track with an intro riff that will blow the speakers right out of your car and beg for the windows to be rolled down, "Coming Down" is from the start the song to listen to when you're on the way to the show. With the same initiative and drive as any AC/DC or Van Halen song, "Coming Down" is a simple, hard-rock, guitar-heavy track that just proves that the age-old formula of hard guitars, heavy bass and drums, and soaring vocals, with maybe some epic keys on top, is still the way to go. Into the Night find for themselves an instant success with "Coming Down." It's everything I fell in love with in the first place when I first heard Cream and Black Sabbath. Heavy and hard-hitting, it's definitely one of the five-star tracks on this album.
Proving to be a group with a intricate and versatile sound, Into the Night will soon be on their way, if they're not already. Like AC/DC, JET, and The Vines have proved before, Australia is one of the world's Mecca's for hard-rock and garage-metal, and groups like Into the Night are taking full advantage of that. Armed with a sound that works in the best of ways, and a drive that will take them far, Into the Night are here, and nothing it seems, Topside or Downunder, is gonna stop them.

Sounds Like: Three Days Grace, Sponge, Foo Fighters, 10 Years

Key Tracks from Into the Night: "You Won't Know," "Coming Down," "Journey Into Doubt," "Such Is Life"

Check out Into the Night more at:, and

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tetrarch's Tyrannical Saints Go Marching in My Mind

This one's for all you metal-heads out there. It's been a very long while since I went out and found a truly terrifying , bone-shattering metal band for you all to sink your teeth into, but that changes today. I know my phases lately have leaned towards pop-punk and acoustic-rock, and my posts have been reflecting that, but lately I've just been craving something a little more hardcore. Thankfully, though, I didn't have to go far to find just the kind of band I was looking for.
From right here in Atlanta, Georgia, Tetrarch is a mega metal four-piece specializing in all the dark metal arts and sounds. Composed of Josh Fore (lead vocals and guitar), Diamond Rowe (lead guitar), Ryan Lerner (bass), and Nick Jones (drums), Tetrarch creates a blinding metal setlist in the twigh-lit realm of Iron Maiden, Metallica and Trivium. Featured here in Atlanta on Project 96.1's Project Homegrown program, Tetrarch are making waves all over the metal and hard-rock scene in the South. For those of you out there foaming at the mouth for a new band that will crack your bones and melt your face right off, Tetrarch is a great place to start.
I'm immediately pulled in by Tetrarch's first song on their setlist, "Tyranny of Saints." In true Iron Maiden fashion, this song begins with a huge, bombastic intro. Slow and epic, it soon turns bloody as the drums speed up and kick the rhythm into overdrive. Lerner follows suit, and already his bass lines are trampling through my mind, giving me the same shot of adrenaline I felt the first time I heard Maiden's "Run to the Hills." Diamond Rowe's guitar notes are sharp and ear-splitting, owing life and influence to Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" and "Fade to Black." Above the mass hysteria and pyromania, Fore's vocals are strong and unforgiving. Using his own chords to add even more rhythm to a song already on steroids, Fore blasts everything higher, skipping between melodic hardcore vocals and flat-out gutteral growls. A vocal mix of Three Days Grace and Pantera, this song is exactly what I'm feeling now. The same as when I first heard Rage's "Bulls on Parade," "Tyranny of Saints" makes me want to go punch someone. Hard. This song is definitely the best way for Tetrarch to make a first impression. It's hard, it's fast, and it's everything I love about metal.
"Mental Suicide" keeps up the grit and grime of "Tyranny of Saints." Fore is once again on the fence, balancing between melodic growls and primal screams that rip your skin off in the best way. There's a certain art to harsh vocals, and any metal or hard-rock fan knows that. We also know that if it's done improperly, it sounds like shit. But Fore proves that when it's done right, it can make a song razor sharp and timeless. And what could make the vocals even better? How about a sick progression of notes from lead guitarist Rowe. Diamond Rowe is definitely diamond in this song, as she picks up during the solo and takes it up a notch. A sonic firestorm let loose in true face-melting form, Rowe's solo shreds what skin I have left from Fore's vocal assault to tiny bits. Dripping with technical prowess and hard-rock soul, "Mental Suicide" continues, unhindered, and in every sense, unhinged. The skins, again, are tapped out like there's no tomorrow, making coughing with the fast-paced beats of insanity. Lerner won't be left behind, as his bass shoots through the speakers to destroy what mental capacity I have left. In my opinion, one of the marks of a great metal band is how well the rhythm section fits together. Behind the soaring guitar and primal vocals, Tetrarch has the blueprint down pat, and "Mental Suicide" benefits from that in the best way possible.
"Disciples of Sorrow" is as equally aggressive as its predecessors, though when it comes to the chorus, it takes on a Maiden-esque sort of arrangement, opting for a more anthemic approach than one that would be more rushed. It is a pleasant surprise, as in my experience, I've heard many metal bands out there that can either perform the slow, booming chorus or the fast-paced song, though they many times have trouble joining the two. Tetrarch, though, show no problem marrying Fore's big, booming chorus vocals to Jones' rolling fills, creating an underlying pulse-pounding experience with a polished, anthemic seal. Lerner contributes as well, as his bass lines are steady and incessant, filling in any slight pauses that the drums might take. Rowe, herself, is content to sit back and wail out on her guitar, injecting this track with a riff that, towards the middle, jumps the tracks, and brings to mind once again Metallica's "Fade to Black." Tetrarch's ability to experiment and adapt quickly and seamlessly make this must-be metal balled one of the must-hear tracks on their album.
Nick Jones is absent from the aforementioned tracks only because he himself finds himself as the new guy in the band. That doesn't stop him, though, from making his Tetrarch debut on their track "Fate of the Chosen," a powerful song with a driving rhythm and chorus that easily owes its hardcore force to Jone's drumming. A statement at just how well he first with the others, "Fate of the Chosen" fights to the front of the track-pack with power and melody, and makes Tetrarch's sound all that more interesting and deep.
Bleeding influences such as Pantera, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Megadeth through their guitars and speakers, Tetrarch raise the torch, and bar, just as the metal gods did before them. The intensity in their music is only matched by the energy and drive that I can only assume they exude during their live performances. Definitely making it onto my "Must See Live" list, Tetrarch impress me with their technical prowess as well as their clever and creative song concepts. I fully expect to see a Tetrarch concept metal album sometime soon, and as with the concept albums of Judas Priest and Coheed and Cambria, I expect it to be a trip devoid of unnecessary frills and dripping in true metal spirit and grit.
Until then, though, I will have to contend myself with their current albums. That's no complaint, though. Tetrarch's efforts prove fruitful enough for hours of hard-rock energy and metal drive, culminating, as all metal records should, in the feeling of invulnerability, and a never-ending love of metal. Metal-heads, hold your torches high: Tetrarch is hear to stay, and like Van Halen and Metallica did years ago, they'll make you hair stand on end as they singe it with raw power and blasting rhythm. And did I mention they have a sick logo too?

Sounds Like: Metallica, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Trivium

Key Tracks from Tetrarch: "Tyranny of Saints," "Mental Suicide," "Disciples of Sorrow," "Birth of a Convict," "Fate of the Chosen"

Check out Tetrarch more at: and

Friday, September 3, 2010

American Diary, An Anthem for Real This Time

Warped Tour is always a fun event to go to, and for those of you who do go, you definitely know what I'm talking about. For those of you guys who haven't been though (and don't feel left out, since Warped Tour 2010 was my first one ever), one thing that you might not expect is just how many bands are there that aren't on the bill. I was expecting a few here and there who might be passing out CD's or T-shirts for their bands, but I definitely didn't expect there to be such an overflow of talent that wasn't playing. It definitely says a lot about a group or an artist when they're willing to follow a traveling tour that they aren't even playing on just for the chance to promote their music. Total DIY ethic, and something that shows that someone's doing it for the love of their band and not for any get-rich-quick fantasies.
I ran into one such group at Warped Tour this year. In fact, I was waiting for Sum 41 to take the stage when this guy came up to me with a set of headphones and asked if I might take a few minutes and listen to a song of his band's CD. Well what kind of music lover and journalist would I be if I said 'no'? As the first chords came through the wires and right into my brain, I was immediately struck by the sound of this band: a back-to-basics approach to pop-punk that I haven't heard in a long time. I asked the guy the name of his band. His answer? American Diary, and right then I knew I'd be checking out these guys the minute I got home. Suffice it to say last month I went through a bit of an electronic/acoustic phase, but these guys have been on my list ever since Warp, and now I'm just feeling their groove all inside my head.
Out of Baltimore, Maryland, American Diary is a power-trio along the lines of Green Day, Blink-182, and Koopa (all of whom they seem to draw many influences from) comprising members Brandon Ingley (lead vocals and bass), Mikey Clark (guitar and backing vocals) and Todd Wallace (drums). I later learned when I got home and looked at their Myspace that it was Mikey Clark who I'd talked to at Warp, and the minute the 'Play' button was hit on their Myspace, I was way psyched that he'd come up to me. Right from the start, American Diary hits me with their classic pop-punk sound, and their clever lyrics of love and growing up seem a certain throwback to Sum 41 and Lit.
With their 2008 album The Brightest Colors topping in at over 14,000 copies sold, it's not hard to see why American Diary are poised for a pop-punk takeover of the alternative scene. With their new album Theodore in hand, these guys are gonna hit it big, first underground and then right on through to the mainstream.
Right from the start of "To You, It's You," the first song on their setlist on their Myspace page, I know I hear something new and different with these guys. Ingley's vocals are smooth and a sureshot in the dark, owing to a mixed influence of Blink and Busted. Clark's part is a seminal one of the song, becoming something more than just the typical punk guitar sound, but less than the pretentious, over-the-top virtuoso. His chords are simple, choppy, and yet oh so smooth and perfectly fitting in a way that is curious and wondrous. But I abandon all questioning of tradition and musicality when he hits of a solo prompted by his riff-driven choruses. Wallace's drums are basic, garage-rock inspired, but that only makes his out-of-left-field fills and drum rolls that much more impressive and entertaining. This song is brilliant in its simplicity and nostalgic approach to growing up. One which I absolutely love.
Ingley immediately outdoes himself again on "Cee4our," this time with his bass. His bass intro screams influence by Blink-182's "Carousel," and starts the song off with a bang. I love the vocal interplay here between Clark and Ingley, and as Wallace leans more towards a cymbal approach this time, Ingley's bass lines are clear and strong underneath the skins. Part of the cleverness of this song are Clark's chords. A metasonic mix of technical prowess and punk creativity, Clark's solo this time brings to mind a Good Charlotte/Zebrahead influence, while his stop/start palm-mutes and chords hint to me a flavor the reeks of palm-mute geniuses Lit. If ever there was a song that captures the awkwardness and bullshit of adolescence, this is it.
While I love the bass and clever lyrics on "You Know Dat's Right!," I'm really pulled into "Anthem (For Real... This Time)." Wallace breaks this one through with drumming that sets an energetic stage for Clark's and Ingley's guitars. I'm swept away in Clark's double-layed guitars as they string out an intro that seems to be pensive and deep. But then Ingley breaks it all down, and I'm left with a brilliantly crafted punk song that boasts clever DIY lyrics, vocals that pump you up, and guitar bursts that punch you hard and fast. Hopscotching between rhythm and lead guitar, Clark sets out to drive you harder and faster as Ingley's bass skips playfully and powerfully throughout the background. An audio maelstrom of rhythm and melody, "Anthem (For Real... This Time)" is one of the must-hear tracks on this album.
Though I'd love to pack up and go home, and let you guys discover the rest of American Diary for yourselves, there's one song on their setlist I just can't go without saying something about. An acoustic ballad reminiscent of the deeper Good Charlotte and Sum 41 songs, "Knew Song" showcases American Diary's versatility as writers and composers. Ingley's vocals are soft and introspective, and Clark's sparse chords contribute to the overall depth of the song.
American Diary have more than impressed me here, and I'd bet anything that they'll be impressing others and turning heads very soon. These guys exude creativity and drive, and you can tell through their music that even they know big things are in store for them. They say that 90% of life is showing up, and if that's true, these guys are ready. American Diary is here, and nothing, it seems, is gonna drive them away.

Sounds Like: Blink-182, Busted, Lit, Koopa, Zebrahead

Key Tracks from Theodore: "Anthem (For Real... This Time)," "Cee4our," "To You, It's You," "Knew Song," "You Know Dat's Right!"

Check out American Diary more at: and

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mike Hart Keeping It Real

It's a beautiful August afternoon today as I sit down to write a new article for all you reading out there. As the breeze rustles the leaves outside in a mildly poetic way, I flip on the Myspace of today's story, and nothing says Friday night like this music.
Many of you guys probably know Mike Hart as the former lead singer of So Contagious (fka Seven Story Fall), who've been featured and mentioned here a number of times. Now I could sit here and speculate until the end of time why Hart has embarked now on a solo career, but to be honest, that's between him and So Contagious. Besides, this is a music site, not some tabloid, and precisely one of the reasons I started New Rock News 43 in the first place. I was so tired (as I'm sure you all are too) of publications like Rolling Stone and Spin coming off as tabloids with a music flavor, rather than real in-depth music news magazines. If you're looking for something like that, look someplace else, maybe the Enquirer or the Globe. But if you're here for some new stuff to listen to, read on.
Hart is my focus today because of his newly released summer EP, We Keep It Real. Debuting just four days ago on Monday, August 23, We Keep It Real is a bit of a departure for Hart in terms of sound as he opts to stray a bit from his comfort zone in pop-punk and experiment with a more electronic-pop sound with dance rhythms that even exude an R&B flavor.
For those of you who aren't familiar with him, Mike Hart is an extremely talented vocalist and musician from here in Atlanta, Georgia. Singing on some of So Contagious's most well-known tracks like "The Getaway" and their rendition of Akon's "Right Now (Na Na Na)," Hart demonstrates a vocal talent that bleeds all the way over from pop-punk to dance and emo-punk. Now however, he's pushing his talents even farther as songs like "Telling Me No" and "This Is War" explore a more unique dance-pop background.
In fact, this brings me to the first track from We Keep It Real that blows me away. Released a few weeks ago as a teaser single for the upcoming EP, "This Is War" showcases not only some of the best examples of Hart's unique, smooth vocal style, but also his musicianship as he contributes to this track catchy synthes and rhythmic drum-tracks. Normally dance-punk is a hard genre for me to really appreciate, but Hart's use of pop-punk-ish lyrics mixed with an electro-pop sound gives this track a oddball flavor that makes me unable to turn my head away from it. A great dance song, and one that nods a bit to other electro-pop acts like Breathe Electric and Owl City, "This Is War" is definitely one of the best tracks on Hart's new EP, and it's no wonder why he released this one as the teaser.
"Lights Camera Action," another dance-punk track which features a guest appearance by DJ Vault, shines a knowing light once again on Hart as a clever writer and phenomenal singer. I love Hart's synthe progressions in this one, and his rhymes and clever phasing demonstrate his mastery over an ability to write as well as sing and perform. "Lights Camera Action," though, also benefits from a rhythm and beat the are, in every sense of the word, infectious. If you're looking for a track to play at a party or something to chill out to in the car with the top down on a beautiful afternoon, this one is a favorite in that category.
The last couple tracks from the EP I can't keep myself from writing a few tidbits about are "My Kryptonite" and "Secret Lover." Partnering with Atlanta producer and musician Nikolai Prange to set down a driving, synthe-ridden rhythm, Hart's composition "My Kryptonite" strikes a more romantic tone than I've heard in the previous tracks. With this, "My Kryptonite" is immediately set aside as the track the boasts some of the best rhythms and piano on the EP, as well as the one with the romantic nature under the surface. "Secret Lover" contrasts perfectly with this, leaning more towards a sort of forbidden/dangerous undertone that makes me think of sneaking out at night to see your girl or guy. These songs are brilliant compositions, and We Keep It Real most certainly benefits from their inclusion.
For those of you out there who have seen Mike Hart live, you all know this guy can definitely get a concert floor going. I myself have had this particular pleasure, and it's no overstatement that when he starts singing, he's got you jumping and all your energy going. It's no surprise to me, then, why it seems to me that Hart finds himself so at ease with dance-pop compositions. His punk attitude and ethic mix well with his smooth and polished vocals and synthes to produce a must-hear EP. Coming across as a brash collection of catchy, clever and energetic songs, We Keep It Real is definitely on my must-hear list for you guys this week. Make your way over to his Myspace and have a listen for yourself. Hart's talent puts something like the popularity of Justin Bieber to shame (and his cover of Bieber's "Baby" is, in my opinion, way better than the original). Once word gets out about him, Hart's gonna rise far and fast: of that I am sure. There are no ifs, ands, or buts with this guy; success is inevitable, period.

Sounds Like: Breathe Electric, Owl City, Phoenix

Key Tracks from We Keep It Real: "This Is War," "My Kryptonite," "Lights Camera Action," "Secret Lover"

Check out Mike Hart more at: and

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