It's been a lazy couple of days, and I didn't get much done this weekend. I still have a bunch of college apps to finish for Friday, but finding these guys made it all better, and took all the stress away.
Out of Redwood City, California, I give you Picture Me Broken, a sick alternative/screamo-pop-punk group that mixes the brash and ferocious vocals of Flyleaf with the catchy pop-punk melodies of Paramore and The Sounds. Composed of Layla Brooklyn Allman (lead vocals, synths, and screams), Nick Loiacono (lead guitar), Austin Dunn (bass and screams), and Connor Lung (drums), Picture Me Broken is fast gaining an underground following, and are proving themselves ready to take on bigger obstacles. These guys were another one of the groups that were voted into Purevolume's Top 20 Unsigned Bands of 2009, and with the sound that comes from their speakers, it can only be a matter of time before their getting their own in records contracts and radio play.
From the first seconds of the title track, "Dearest (I'm So Sorry)," I'm already hooked on their unique blend of screamo-pop with alternative-rock, and their execution of such complex melodies and vocal arrangements. This was the song that landed them on Purevolume's list, and after listening to it a few times, I have no doubt why. The song starts on Lung's cymbal count, and quickly takes of on a guitar progression from Loiacono that I can only describe as Metallica and Megadeth in influence. Soon, Dunn's Cliff Burton-like bass lines become apparent, and Allman's sultry vocals brush through the speakers, pulling me in. This track has a distinct metal flavor, but throws back to pop-punk influences in the chorus and alternative arrangements in the verses. The interlude, however, screams Pantera-influence to me, as Loiacono's guitar is hard and grooving. As if that wasn't enough, amid screams that tear her vocal chords out, Allman's synths and keys bring an Evanescence feel to the song. There are so many influences coming at me from so many directions, there's just no way I can't love this song. It's so original and well constructed, this is easily the lead-off single for the album.
Track two is the synth-driven "Breaking the Fall." This one, too, rides heavily on Loiacono's sharp-edged riffs while below Dunn's bass note's are not lost to the ears among the crashing drum fills from Lung. Allman, meanwhile, graces us with dark, meditative vocals, and synths that give the song a certain techno taste, and the screams provided by Dunn and herself drive the track into a more metal-esque territory. This track isn't one for you if you're faint of heart, and is certainly the one on which they really cut loose. The intensity of the song's musical direction is only matched by the vocal ferocity of Allman and Dunn, and those two flaming dynamics combine to create a tapestry of brilliant rage.
I especially love the next song, "If I Never Wake Again." Dark, brooding, and chilling in its sound effects, this track is clearly Evanescence-inspired. The piano is shadowed and creepy, and combined with Allman's strong vocals, creates a perfect ballad on an already insane album. I am similarly struck by the intensity and powerful nature of the lyrics. These are some of the best lyrics PMB has on their album, and they work with the melody to create a song that won't soon be forgotten. Lung's drumming is minimalist and scaled back, owing to the piano-driven sense of the song, and Dunn's bass lines are almost non-existent. Loiacono's guitar seems to have faded away, but all three musicians make heart-felt appearances towards the end, when the whole song seems to come crashing down. The way in which this is done, though, conveys all four elements working together, and not just Allman with a bunch of backup musicians. An over all five-star track, this is one that I could listen to until my ears fell off. Absolutely brilliant.
Though I enjoy tracks four and five, "Devil on My Shoulder" and "Echoes of an Empire," as well, the last jewel on this album is the final track, "Live Forever." With a sick music video that can be viewed on their Myspace, PMB brings it all home on this one, finishing strongly amid crashing guitars and primal screams and growls. Starting with a slight guitar riff, Loiacono builds into a Three Days Grace-like guitar progression, and Allman's vocals take me away in a breeze of emotion and melody laced with primal screams and ferocious chords. Lung's drums are tightly locked with Dunn's pounding bass notes, and the rhythm section is a force to be reckoned with all its own. With a chorus that's anthemic and tear-your-heart-out, Picture Me Broken finish on a high note and a primal scream that tears your soul out.
It'll only be a very, very short time before these guys are playing in-store appearances in Hot Topic's around the country, and I wouldn't surprised if said appearances started happening in the next couple months. A solid new group from California, Picture Me Broken are here to stay.
Sounds Like: Flyleaf, Evanescence, Paramore, The Sounds, Metallica
Key Tracks from Dearest (I'm So Sorry): "Dearest (I'm So Sorry)," "If I Never Wake Again," "Breaking the Fall," "Live Forever"