Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And It's Me Versus the Robot!

It's been a week since my last post (and this feels like a good time in between posts so I think this might become pretty common), and a lot's happened between the last time I posted an article for you guys and now. Among other things, my blog and my name (yes I know, my ego is gigantic lol) were featured in the press kit of a New Rock News 43 veteran group, Irreverents. The quote is also displayed prominently on their Myspace page, so get your butts over there and check it out.
The next thing, though, will totally blow your minds; every one of you. Yesterday on Monday, May 17th, I was contacted by a couple of event coordinators and music marketing managers at the small but prominent, Chicago-based entertainment company Platform One Entertainment. Apparently there are a couple New Rock News 43 fans over there, and they want to sit down on a phone call with me and talk about doing a collaboration between New Rock News 43 and Platform One Entertainment!! Just so you guys can understand what this means, they've worked with clients like Bon Jovi and Fall Out Boy, and brand name clients like Puma, Gibson and Yahoo. In fact, they've also done business with media giants like ABC, NBC, CBS, and others. Actually, they've have also done business with a couple of our own NRN43 veterans: The Flight Station and Holiday Parade. But these guys pride themselves on staying true to an artist's integrity and artistic flavor, so I am really excited to see what kind of things might be able to come out of this. Even if something doesn't materialize from this though, guys, the word seems to be getting out, and New Rock News 43 is on its way up. I will most definitely keep you guys posted, and let you know everything that happens with every step.
Okay, enough of me inflating my own ego, let's get right down to business, and what you all came here for. Today's story I've been listening to for a few weeks just thinking how I'm going to do these guys justice when I write about them. Brought to my attention by my good friend Andy Gruhin (another NRN43 veteran you might remember), Versus the Robot! are a brilliant pop-punk four-piece whose pop-laced ear-catching melodies perfectly exemplify the emotional high that I'm feeling right now.
Out of Columbia, South Carolina, Versus the Robot! is comprised of Charlie Jackson (lead vocals and guitar), JP Tepper (guitar), Jordan Spanske (bass), and Brandon Hollyday (drums).
Now many of you guys might remember VTR as the side-project of Charlie Jackson (at least that's what a blog post on their Myspace page says), but this is not the sound of a group that is just a side-project band for someone who only pays attention to them when he's bored; this is a full-fledged rock band. Their sound is complete and pure pop brilliance, and the demon (or angel) that will stick in your head all night long.
So let me just launch right into it. The first track I listen to is "Waste of Time." Apart from a great melodic start, "Waste of Time" boasts the rhythm section of a song determined not to fall from the radar. As Tepper and Jackson try brilliantly to outdo each other's great guitar notes, Jackson's vocals float high above, as Hollyday's drums drive me further and further, and Spanske's bass raises my blood-pressure in the best, most intense way. "Waste of Time" is a simple pop-rock song that is simply perfect because of the clear, intelligible lyrics and the blasting, sing-along chorus. But this is not a song that can be waved off as some typical pop song from another wanna-be band; Jackson and gang keep me guessing at every turn with interesting bridge play and small riffs that signal the arrival of a whole new kind of pop song: one that is polished and clean without giving up any of the gritty punk-rock rhythms. I know that I'm going to be humming this chorus for the next five days, and that's the minimum on the inside. What I'd do to hear this song live. 
Track two is "The Science Between Us." This song, much like "Waste of Time," is one that finds its bragging rights in a completely catchy set of lyrics that will drill their way through your skull until you have to make a conscious effort not to sing them. I particularly love the overdubbed vocals here: it's like Jackson is everywhere at once, and laid lightly above his guitar, which dances fantastically with the notes hashed out by Tepper, the melody for this song is set and incredible. But that's only half the journey, because as Jackson and Tepper busy themselves with providing the melody and harmonies, Spankse's bass-lines are slight undertones that meld in the best way with Hollyday's run-through drums. What makes so many pop-rock songs sound so sickeningly similar is their lack of real personality behind the rhythm section; here though Spanske and Hollyday do away with the notion that pop-rock songs can't rock hard, and drive this one through the roof. At just a slight 2:45, "The Science Between Us" is the perfect radio single that will have you begging for more as it flies from the speakers. A brilliant effort on the part of the VTR boys.
The last track for me here is "Sick or Swim," a song that embodies deep, intent thought, at least to me. I don't really know why that's the reaction I get while listening to this song, but I don't object to it. The song's message of thinking that it's not "how you sink or swim," but "how you tread the water," is such a brilliant thought that I wish I had written a song on it. Aside from a way creative concept, the lyrical articulation in this song is nothing short of radiantly commendable: Versus the Robot! have certainly outdone themselves with this one. Most artists find it so hard to marry a great concept with music that does it justice, but here VTR do it seamlessly, and I'm impressed, amazed, and speaking as an artist myself, slightly jealous. These guys have way too much talent for anyone to ignore or deny.
I'm gonna shut up right now, because if I go on any more about these guys, I know that I won't do them justice, and the only thing I'm gonna accomplish is spoil the experience for you guys. If you guys want to see what a set of hands-down five-star tracks should sound like, Versus the Robot! is a pretty damn good place to start. Check these guys out now, or you'll only have yourself to blame when you miss out on an audio experience your ears would kill to hear. Absolutely brilliant. 

Sounds Like: Amber Pacific, Boys Like Girls, The All-American Rejects

Key Tracks: "Waste of Time," "The Science Between Us," "Sink or Swim"

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