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"