Thursday, February 25, 2010

Andy Gruhin's World Out There

It's been over a week since my last post, and I know you're all salivating at the mouth for another star-studded artist poised for commercial explosion. That's why I present to you today a guy who's music is sick, and sounds like nothing else out there. The fact that he also happens to be one of my very good friends just makes it sweeter.
Andy Gruhin hails from Maryland originally, but is currently based in Syracuse, New York. Andy and I met halfway around the world, while we were both on a three-month trip in Israel. Bonding over strong influences like Bruce Sprinsteen and The E Street Band and Goo Goo Dolls would have been enough for me and Andy to become good friends. But when he showed me some of his rough cuts of his own material on his iPod, I was totally shocked at the fact that they sounded so incredible. Despite his insistence that they were only rough drafts of what was soon to come, they sounded great and showed enormous potential.
So now that you know the back story, let me continue this is the way you all came here to read. This is a world exclusive, as Andy just released his debut EP World Out There just a few days ago, so be sure to check his music out to be ahead of the sure-to-come curve. Normally, I would have jumped on the opportunity to write about the EP the hour after it came out, but Andy thought it best to see what listeners thought before hyping it, and judging by the climbing numbers of plays of the songs, they love it. So let's get to it already. The first song of his EP I listen to shows just how he's poised to take over every city from New York to L.A. "World Out There" is a brilliant mix of resonating guitars and grand arena-rock drums and bass rhythms sections. The overall composition is sound and solid, and provides a perfect base for the sharp but melodic guitar notes and progressions. The cherry on the cake though, as in all of his songs, is Andy's voice. From all of my music knowledge and comparisons, I can honestly say that Andy's vocals sound like no one else's I've ever heard. There's no mistaking who's singing, and that's Andy's greatest asset, as just on this first song, he drives a divider between himself and everyone else. If that wasn't enough to sell the song though, maybe the slick and polished guitar solo will do it for you. Blasting the song to all-new heights, the guitar solo is shining and amazing, and clocking it at just over four minutes and thirty seconds, this is a perfect lead-off single. An amazing first track to listen to, and clearly a five-star track if ever there was one. No contest.
The second song for me is "Little Piece of Summer." I got a sneak-preview of this one as with "World Out There" in Israel, but this cut is so far-flung from that one that I'm totally speechless. Now don't get me wrong, because like I said before, the cuts I heard in Israel were greats starts, but these, these are fully-fledged breakthrough singles. "Little Piece of Summer" is a magnificent blend of incredible acoustic guitar and smooth, romantic vocals. Like in all his songs, Andy exhibits here just how much of an amazing writer he is with brilliant images and incredible lyrics. If there was a ballad on the EP, this is it, and even if there are two, this is definitely one of them. This song's brilliance lies in the fact that it's beautifully simple and easy. With a hard-hitting impact, this is clearly one of the best tracks on the album, and I can honestly say it's one of my new favorite songs for this week.
The next track I listen to is "Higher," a fast-paced song that starts my pulse pounding from second one and takes off on the back of a great drum beat and strong, thumping bass line. The rhythm section is particularly tight here, and only serves to further the message of the song. That message, though, is brought to full realization with Andy's imagery-laden lyrics and smooth, supple vocals. The guitar is scaled back a bit, and Andy's voice is front and center, driving the song higher and higher. I guess the title is simply an adjective for the song, because that's the feeling you get from it. With words and a vocal melody you can sing along to, "Higher" is one of the more introspective and emotional tracks on the album. It's an amazing song, and one I'm definitely better for for listening to. Amazing.
Usually I don't review more than three tracks. I do sometimes, but I try to stay away from it lest it be argued I'm trying to exert my influence on your guys opinions. But this track, I just couldn't stop myself from talking about here, so just suck it up and listen. "Without My Wings" was the last track I listened to (actually a bonus track on the album), and it was amazing. That's the best thing I could say about it: that it was just amazing. With lyrics like which I can only hope to one day be able to write, and an unbelievable melody, "Without My Wings" shines in ways that few songs do to me these days. The gentle backing vocals and piano behind Andy's voice and guitar push this one over the edge, and I see no way this won't be all over every station from here to Kalamazoo, as this will be the song of the year for emotion and romance. As with "Little Piece of Summer,"Without My Wings" is a bright ballad on the album, and just makes Andy's resume shine.
I'm going to stop myself from telling you guys anymore, because you just gotta hear this stuff for yourself. Go, right now. Listen to Andy's stuff, because once you do, you're going to be addicted to no end. I guarantee it.

Sounds Like: Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind, Lifehouse, John Mayer, Elliot Smith

Key Tracks from World Out There: "World Out There," "Little Piece of Summer" "Higher," "Without My Wings"

Check out Andy Gruhin more at: and!/pages/Andy-Gruhin/183820836089?ref=search&sid=1125090129.3660412306..1

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We're Fit For Rivals

Hey all. I know it's been a few days since my last post, but I promise I have a good reason. Like I said before, I've found this amazing slew of new bands and artists, and I wanna stretch it and make them last as long as I can, so why rush into a new band every day when each one clearly merits three or four days, or even a week of rockin'?
So now that you can understand my undeniable logic (laugh lol), I introduce to you today's story, and man is this one hardcore. Out of Jacksonville, Florida, this is Fit For Rivals, a killer alternative/punk-rock band that belies all the stereotypes of a female-fronted band. Composed of Renee Phoenix (lead vocals), Thomas Amason (guitar), Jesse Carroll (guitar), Josh Hamilton (bass), and John Hartman (drums), Fit For Rivals delivers a punch to the gut with a crisp, crunching sound that I haven't heard in a very long time. Now as much as I love Paramore, and as I do enjoy Flyleaf from time to time, this is a crunch and freshness that I haven't heard since the first time I heard Evanescence. Not that these guys (and girl) are anything of an Evanescence rip-off, but in terms on a sound that's fresh and new, and like nothing else out there, these guys hit the proverbial nail on the head. 
It's just by chance however that I came across FFR, but I sure as hell am glad I did. While I was checking up on concerts coming to Atlanta, I saw The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus was touring with another local Jacksonville band, a group called Fit For Rivals. Two hours later, here I am, more than obsessed with their music, and I'd go and see these guys even if they weren't accompanying Red Jumpsuit on tour. The fact that they are, however, psychs me out, and there's no freaking way short of an apocalyptic cataclysm that I am going to miss that show.
Back to important stuff though. The first song I listen to from FFR's album Was That Our Youth? is "Crash." This is one sick track, and certainly a hell of a way to start me off. Immediately I'm thrown to the proverbial wolves of rock on a blistering guitar progression laid down by Amason and Carroll. The call-and-response dynamic that the two guitarists set down is brilliant, and gives the crunch I was talking about before. This is a guitar sound I always hoped Flyleaf would evolve to, though I've been kinda disappointed they haven't. Whereas Flyleaf's guitarists seem locked in a set rhythm, here Amason and Carroll deliver guitar licks that are so fluid yet powerful, they singe my eyebrows off in true hard-rock fashion. The seething guitars are complimented by Hartman's pulse-pounding drumbeat. This is, simply put, the best beat that could be delivered on this song. Locking tightly with Hamilton's rhythmic bass lines, Hartman's drums drive the song to new heights, keeping it moving from second one to end. We're brought home by Phoenix's flaring vocals. Now as much as everyone would love to lump these guys into the "female-fronted" band category, that's a load of bull. These guys sound only like themselves, and Phoenix's vocals prove that. With the melodic intensity of Amy Lee and Hayley Williams, and the sultry tone of Joan Jett, Phoenix delivers vocals that dig into your skull with serrated edges. Her voice is truly amazing, and together with the killer rhythm section and blasting guitars, shoots my veins full of adrenaline and power. An incredible first track.
Track two is "Get with Me," an awesome hard-rock song that just starts building from second one. Here, Amason and Carroll again wave the flag and start us off with killer riff and note progression truly designated for head-banging. Hamilton's bass is great here; not too loud to where it overpowers the drums and guitars, but strong enough to not let me forget about it. That's the mark of a truly great bass line in a song. Then again there's Hartman's killer drums that just bust me up, and there's no way these guys could have picked the wrong drummer; this guy was right for the job as I'm trying to keep up with the pace of his frantic drums, and fall into a brilliant rock 'n' roll oblivion. Phoenix's vocals deliver an awesome kick of attitude and sultriness on this song. She's on her mark, and proves that no one's gonna tell her what to do with her "get out of my way" vocal attitude, and that's something just polishes off an already freakin' amazing song. As if that wasn't enough, though, the sick guitar solo and ensuing bridge riff by Amason and Carroll, and the subsequent rhythm section bridge by Hamilton and Hartman make this an easy five-star track on the album. There is no way this song could get any better. 
The last track I will review here I have saved for last. This is clearly the single that Fit For Rivals will break out on, and it's one that will soon be playing on the waves of every alternative radio station in this country. Mark my words, "Damage" is the next song going right to the top of the rock charts. Starting second one on Phoenix's hardcore sultry vocals, it quickly moves to Amason's and Carroll's blazing guitar interplay. The guitar progressions are everything hard-rock should be: crunching, crushing, serrated, smooth, and rhythmic. The guitars alone would drive this track to five-star heights, but Fit For Rivals aren't done yet. Not even close. Hamilton's bass is front and center during the building of the pre-choruses, and serves to prepare my ears for the shitstorm of melody and hard-rock crunch that blasts through my head during the chorus. Hartman's drums drive my pulse up to new levels, and it's like my heart's about to flatline just as everything lets up, and the only thing heard are Amason's and Carroll's guitar during an awesome bridge. Then Hamilton and Hartman drive back in, and this is an instrumentally perfect song. But what about Phoenix you must be asking. Well Phoenix is not to be forgotten, not by any means. Her vocals, melodic and sharpened with teeth dripping pain and emotion, dig into your soul and don't let go. Her range and tone are perfect, but what really drives this song to five-star status are her incredible chorus notes and vocals. Phoenix and her boys make sure they won't be forgotten, and with just one track change what rock can be, and redefine the genre in ground-breaking style. The same way it blew my mind when I first heard Joan Jett and Evanescence, that's what it was like to hear these guys for the first time. It still is. I'm totally shocked, in a good way. And as if a killer album wasn't enough, the music video for "Damage" is totally sick. It's like these guys are just doing everything right. Suffice it to say that I can't wait to see these guys live, and alongside Red Jumpsuit, it's gonna be one of the best concerts for me this year. Absolutely brilliant. There's no way you can ignore these guys, so don't even try. Get up and go check these guys out, because all I can say is you'll then be ahead of the curve. 

Sounds Like: Joan Jett, Evanescence, Paramore, Flyleaf, 

Key Tracks from Was That Our Youth?: "Damage," "Crash," "Get with Me," "Girl in a Coma," "Cut Off Your Hands"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Go Periscope!

Last night was a bit surreal; I was way overtired, but couldn't sleep, and as a regular insomniac, I did what I usually do in those kinds of situations: I looked for awesome new music. And may I say, I definitely found it. I came across some incredible bands that I'll be reviewing here in my next few posts, so you guys better keep reading, because I have a slew of all-new, awesome bands that deserve your undivided attention and recognition.
The first of these new giants that I'll debut here are out of Seattle, Washington, and won't stop until they take over your mind and body. But a far-flung cry from Seattle's grunge giants Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, Go Periscope delivers unbelievably catchy synth beats and notes that just invade your mind and pervade your soul. A dynamic duo of Florin Mehedinti (vocals and keys) and Joshua Frazier (vocals, keys, and guitars), Go Periscope have started cementing a name for themselves in the Northwest with hardcore touring and loyal fans. The group's self-titled debut contains 15 synth-poppy tracks that rock in every way pop and electronica can. Yet there's something different about these guys. Groups who deal in heavy electronica need something that sets them apart from everyone else, lest they sound too much like their peers, and Go Periscope have that extra "it" factor that tells you they refuse to be the same as anyone else. So let's dive in then, and let me show you just what is so sick about this periscope.
The first track I listen to from the album is "Crush Me," an easy track that boasts distorted vocals and a strong synth-line. The combined vocals of Mehedinti and Frazier work so well together it's amazing; it's like having surround-sound because the voices come from everywhere. Mehedinti's keys drip in gothic-industrial coarseness, and Frazier's keys and light guitar notes bring the sound home in a ballpark homerun. These guys are so difficult to compare to anyone today because they incorporate such a wide array of electronic influences, but if I were hard pressed, think Owl City's melodic and catchy vocals with Savage Garden's rocking synths and rhythms, and maybe you can get close. This is clearly one of GP's five-star songs on the record, period.
Track two for me is "Emily." Now for me personally, to hear a song with the title "Emily," that always speaks to me in the form of Bowling for Soup's "Emily" from their sick breakthrough album Drunk Enough to Dance. But here GP take the title to a new level and give it new meaning. "Emily" is a synth-poppy ballad that just bathes in romance and pop-sensibility. Frazier and Mehedinti totally nail the vocals here, breathing in sultry voices to pile on the romance and emotion and it's almost like they're here in the room with me. Now, solely as a music fan, that speaks to me, because it sounds like these guys are playing live right in front of me, and that's a five-star track on my list easy. The rhythm is slow, and for all you guys out there looking for the perfect song woo your girls with, this is it. The melody, the keys and notes, works so well with Mehedinti's and Frazier's voices that it's like the whole song is one entity, and that's the ultimate product when you're listening to a song. Incredible track. 
The last song for me is "Take It Personal." This one leans more to the Savage Garden sound than perhaps the Owl City influence. Though the rhythm is a little more electronica than Savage Garden was, the hardcore synths and strong vocals remind me easily of "Break Me Shake Me" and "To the Moon & Back." Now, no one sounds exactly like Savage Garden, and I wouldn't want them to. But Go Periscope just totally break through that wall of being "some electronica band with a cool sound" to being "Go Periscope, a sick new force to reckoned with out of Seattle." Anyone who's looking for a killer dance song, by the way, this is it. Turn the music up, turn the lights down, and turn the strobes on because this is one that'll tear up the dancefloor. 
Go Periscope are set to be featured on MTV's The Real World, but remember you heard about them here first. Now get up off your asses and go check out this amazing synth-pop group. You won't be sorry.

Sounds Like: Owl City, Savage Garden, NeverShoutNever!

Key Tracks from Go Periscope: "Crush Me," "Emily," "Take It Personal," "No Chaser," "Breathe Deception"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Track with Radio Racer

It's been about a week since I posted a new article, but I promise it's because I've been looking for a sick new group for you guys. And I think I've succeeded. My parents always told me do something right, or don't do it at all, and these guys must have grown up with the same morals, because they know how to rock the hell out of their instruments, and the minute I heard them I knew they'd be next on my blog.
So give it up, because here's Radio Racer, an awesome new group out of San Diego, California that blends indie pop instrumentation with pop-punk-style vocals to deliver a truly unique sound. Composed of Nick, Troy, Johnny, and Dylan, Radio Racer rests its head upon slick melodies driven by smooth guitar and sleek piano notes. 
The first song I listen to from their album My Island is "My Average Life," a smooth, pop-oriented song that is just what I want to hear today. After a real shitty couple of weeks, this upbeat song is something that has the power to just make me smile. The guitar and piano are fantastic, melodic and driving, and the drums and bass are easy, yet strong enough to really move the song along. But something else that really makes this song shine, along from a pretty cool music video, are incredibly insightful and catchy lyrics. Bordering on the catchiness that was evident in Owl City's "Fireflies," "My Average Life" has lyrics and vocal melodies that just stick in your head all day. This is one which Troy, Johnny, Nick, and Dylan clearly shine on in their talent, and I'd love to see these guys whenever they come to Atlanta. 
Track two is "Broken Hearts," a slower, piano-driven song that is easy and melodic with a pop sensibility that just works well with all the other elements of the song. Where "My Average Life" was quick and indie-pop designated for jumping and rocking, "Broken Hearts" is a beautiful ballad that is comical in its use of the accordion, making me believe more and more that I'm listening to a track from a French group with sitting, sipping red wine under the Eiffel Tower. A fantastic flip-side to the previous song's anthemic choruses. "Broken Hearts" is a great track because of its slow pace. I wouldn't change anything about this track.
Though I usually don't stop at just two tracks, I decided to mix it up a little today. I want to get you guys more into this, more participatory. You'll have to go listen to the rest of these guys' amazing songs for yourself. So get up off your butts and go check these guys out, they're an awesome indie-pop group that demand your attention. Awesome job guys, first place goes to Radio Racer.

Sounds Like: All Time Low, Mayday Parade, You Me At Six

Key Tracks from My Island: "My Average Life," "Broken Hearts"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

White Roses in February

Again it's been about a week since I posted last, and I do apologize for my current funk. Like I said in my last post, I don't want the articles to get stale and boring, so I'm taking it slow for right now. For those of you who care, lol, I've also started sculpting and drawing again, so I think I'll start another blog where you all can view my visual art. Let me know what you think.
Back to more important business. Today's story is on a New England band called White Rose. Out of Old Greenwich, Connecticut, WR is a foursome comprised of pop-punkers Will Tenney (lead vocals and lead guitar), Ben Stein (guitar and backing vocals), TJ Piccirillo (bass and backing vocals), and Brandyn Dougan (drums). Now I was contacted by Tenney about a month ago asking me if I might listen to his band's stuff (for those of you out there who do have bands, please don't be shy about sending me emails, I'm hear to listen to your stuff). I told him it'd be a few weeks before I could get to it (stupid college apps), but the minute I got to it, I knew the article I'd write on them would be killer. I had to wait, however, until the worst of my funk was over, because these guys deserve the justice I'm about to give them. Aside form being a stand-up guy, Tenney delivers killer vocals and awesome guitar licks in White Rose's songs. But I'm not about to slight the other guys who are just as good, so let's dive right in. 
The bulk of White Rose's catalogue is form their new Friday Night Heroes EP. Released in 2009, this EP is a brilliant new sound in the pop-punk gulf of music. So much pop-punk has become way too power-pop for my taste, and just seems even more watered-down by radio and big commercial chains. But this is where true creativity thrives. The first song from WR's EP is "The Movielife." The track begins on a brilliant guitar rhythm and note progression set down by Tenney and Stein. The guitar is really crisp, really fresh, in a way the reminds me of the fresh new sound I heard on Sum 41's All Killer No Filler. Just as the guitars get going, Piccirillo's bass blasts in riding Dougan's flashy drum beats. This rhythm section particularly stands out because I can hear it both above and below the guitars; it completely surrounds the song and keeps it going from second one. Now, aside from impressive guitar progressions, Tenney also proves himself a great singer. His voice is clear and just crunches through you in a unique way that I just can't compare to anyone else. Stein and Piccirillo, as well, produce awesome harmonies that just carry the song to new heights. This is clearly a five-star track, and one I can't wait to hear on the radio. 
Track two's "Dear Alex, I'm Sorry" is a cleverly worded ballad about what it means to be a teen. On this song, Piccirillo's bass is especially strong, and I can hear it clearly during the rhythmic choruses. This guy must get underrated all the time because no one ever gives the bass player the credit he (or she) deserves. At the bottom of the pile, Dougan's drums are fast and almost chaotic, owing to what seems to be a Travis Barker influence. Whoever the influence is though, they're amazing, because Dougan's drums just pull you in and thrash you around. The guitar is rhythmic, and choppy in all the right places, making sure that White Rose doesn't sound like anyone else out there. I love the vocals of all three singers on this song, and it quickly climbs the charts in my head as one of my favorite songs this week. Brilliant. 
There are two more tracks on the EP: "I'm So Scared" and "Midnight Storms." 
"I'm So Scared" sounds eerily like a Blink-182 song to the point where I would mistake it for one. I mean that in the best way, since I'm a huge fan of Blink's innovation and tunefullness. Yet just a minute into the song, we veer away from Blink, and it's White Rose all the way. Tenney's voice is a perfect compliment to his and Stein's sharp guitar chords, and Piccirillo's bass locks tightly with Dougan's drums to drive us farther and faster in this soon-to-be teen anthem. 
The latter of the songs, "Midnight Storms," is an upbeat song that rides on Dougan's drums and Tenney's vocals. In between we find Tenney's and Stein's guitar, and Piccirillo's bass, keeping the song tightly wound. Simply put, this is just a great song. A perfect end to a fantastic EP, and certainly a song that'll be stuck in my head for the rest of the night. Awesome job guys, all pop-punk hats off to you.

Sounds Like: Blink-182, Sum 41, Simple Plan, Monty Are I, Amber Pacific

Key Tracks from Friday Night Heroes EP: "The Movielife," "Dear Alex, I'm Sorry," "I'm So Scared," "Midnight Storms"

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