Friday, July 30, 2010

I Know You Know Y Stereo Is Gonna Be Huge!!

I promised you guys that I'd have an amazing new group for you even though I've been busy lately, and with these guys I know none of you will be disappointed. Lately, the groups that have made up the most recent waves of posts here on New Rock News 43 have been alternative-rock, screamo-punk, and hard-rock-inspired. While all those groups are amazing, and continue to rock me out when I listen to them, sometimes you just need a change of pace and sound to keep you on your toes. If these guys aren't that change that keeps the blood flowing, then I don't know what is.
Y Stereo is a serious pop-punk band straight of of Connecticut and thirsty for some action. I actually came across these guys by chance, and for that I just feel lucky. A simple power-trio comprising brothers Jonas Friedman (lead vocals and guitar) and Ari Friedman (bass and vocals), and close friend Samson Ouellette (drums and vocals), Y Stereo's sound is forged in the flames of punk ethic and dripping with brilliant pop sensibility, and will drive you insane because it's one of those that you're soon to be hearing everywhere. But who could blame these guys for that; their sound is something so catchy, so colorful that it makes everything seem more vibrant and alive. The sick cover of their debut album doesn't hurt at all either.
The first track I listen to from Y Stereo's debut album, What's Real Anyway, is what immediately hooked me to them, and continues to be my favorite track on their whole setlist. "I Know You Know" immediately grabs you from the start, as Jonas Friedman provides a note progression that's catchy and just itches to be hummed. Right from the beginning, too, I love Y Stereo's lyrics; they're clever and fun, things which this song benefits greatly from. The vocal interplay between the brothers Friedman and Ouellette is fantastic: Jonas on lead vocals drives the song ahead full-force, and Ari and Ouellette on harmonizing vocals drive that full-force blast to new heights. It's like the voices are all around, and that's something I love. Another thing I can't turn my ears from is Ouellette's drum beat, which among other things is simple and contagious in the best way. Locked with Ari Friedman's thumping bass lines, Ouellette's drums provide "I Know You Know" with an infectious groove that will take you over in a second. In my opinion, Y Stereo doesn't even need another song to blast them off; "I Know You Know" is one track that fans will scream for at shows and record label execs will be humming in the elevators at work. An incredible song, and a no-contest five-star track if there ever was one.
The Y Stereo guys continue the energy with "The Real You," a track whose guitar and bass are front and center. Jonas and Ari Friedman kill in this one, providing a double-dose of melody and rhythm in earnest as Ouellette's drums are busy pounding away in an indie beat that fits in a quirky, comfortable way with the pop-punk sensibilities of the song. Above all, this song has a great bridge section which keeps me guessing at every turn. The rhythm play between Ouellette's skins and Ari Friedman's bass will most certainly be the under-appreciated aspect of this song by most people, but not by me. Ari's bass lies only slightly under Jonas's guitar, but for those who listen carefully, his lines here, especially during the bridge, are fun and odd in the best ways, and most certainly add the secret ingredient to this song. Fantastic.
I had a hard time picking the third track that I knew I wanted to review here. Not because these guys had too few, but because there were too many great tracks to choose from. You know it's a good sign when a band has too many good songs for a writer to choose from. Though I thought "Cigarettes" or "Your Moment" might be the deal-breaker, I knew the moment I got to "Further Away from Me" that that was the one I was looking for. This one is just fantastic from start to finish. Jonas Friedman starts us out with a guitar note progression that is, in every sense of the words, colorful and romantic. The notes just resonate so amazingly, and when his vocals come in it's just a whole new ball game. But Ari Friedman's bass is here too, and his lines contradict his smooth harmonizing vocals in the best way. The juxtaposition Ari Friedman provides between rhythm and melody is commendable, and this song has already made it on to my Favorite Songs of the Week list. Ouellette, though, is determined not to be left hanging, as his drums beat me up, harder and faster. The rolls before every chorus drive me like a hurricane, and this guy just knows how to provide the right beats to compliment the Friedmans on guitar and vocals.
If that was it, I would end right here, but it's not. I don't think that the talent of these guys could be overstated at all. Forming in just 2009, Y Stereo has what I like to call a meteoric rise, having had over 10,000 downloads of What's Real Anyway in just under one week from its release. Week two bumped that number up past 15,000, and it's still rising I bet. These guys drip in talent and artistic vision, and I will relish being able to say "told ya so" when they're line Hot Topic shelves with their merch and play the Kevin Says stage at Warped Tour. Y Stereo is coming, and ain't nothin' this side of the universe gonna stop them. No way, no how.

Sounds Like: Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, The Academy Is..., Taking Back Sunday

Key Tracks from What's Real Anyway: "I Know You Know," "The Real You," "Further Away from Me," "Cigarettes"

Check out Y Stereo more at:, and!/pages/Y-STEREO/138384797499?v=wall&ref=ts

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Warped Loud, Hard and Fast

I know all you guys out there are looking forward to having a new band to listen to, and I'll have one for you very soon, but I just felt I had to write about some NRN43 veterans that are tearing it up. This past Monday was Warped Tour here in Atlanta, and going down to Lakewood I had a bunch of bands I wanted to see: Sum 41, Andrew W.K., Mayday Parade, and You Me At Six among them. But what i really wanted to check out was how the NRN43 vets were doing, and I'm pleased to report that they're doing fucking great!
My first show of the day was Disco Curtis. You might remember these guys from the article I wrote about them back in December. Now they're playing the whole Warped Tour, and seeing them again, I could tell they've certainly grown as musicians and performers. A.J.'s drumming was as tight as I remember it, and Brendan's bass drove the show higher and higher. Meanwhile Garrett's guitar solos were fantastic, and with Tanner fronting this pop-punk set, the crowd went wild over these guys. Disco Curtis deserves every part of the record deal they just inked with Myspace/Interscope. A great show, and one hell of a way to start the day, I was psyched to hear some new songs, as well as classic favorites "Ashley" and a cover of Lady Ga-Ga's "Just Dance." It was also great to me to see So Contagious (formerly Seven Story Fall) there to support their friends. Some bands may not get along with other bands, and that's fine, but for those who do get along, it's awesome to see that tight-knit support that can only make success possible.
Meanwhile, around 1:00 I got to Fit For Rivals play for the third time this year, and they were as fucking good as every time before. Phoenix's vocals were coarse and rough, and serrated with the punk/alternative notes I was dying to hear. Amason's and Carroll's guitar were driving and sick, and I loved hearing "Damage," "Crash," and "Can't Live Without You."Hartman's drums could be heard on the other side of the park I'm sure, and Hamilton's bass lines stuck in my head, like they do every time I see FFR play. It awesome to see these guys again, and I'm sure that after these few shows on Warp, it won't be long before labels take notice and start plastering pictures of these guys in every magazine. Like with Disco Curtis, it was great to see FFR's friends their to support them. I spent some time talking to Jason Flynn and Steven Williams from LOVELOUD, and that was awesome. Seeing bands support each other like that, well that's half the reason why I do this. LOVELOUD, meanwhile, I've heard, is taking northern Florida by storm, so it's not gonna be the last you hear pf these guys.
That's my mini report for the day guys. I have a slew of new bands for you all that I'm getting ready to unveil, but they each deserve their own in-depth article. Be patient my friends, you won't be sorry. Keep rockin' hard guys, I'll have a new band and article for you soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Like a Cowboy Boot, Like Valbanera

Screamo-punk has always been a very difficult genre for me to appreciate. Not because it's any less artistic or expressive than any other rock sub-genre, but because it's so intense you have to be in just the right mood to see through the chaos, to the raw talent that rests behind it. It's taken me years to see through that chaos, and finally I can see the real emotion behind the screamo sound. It took a very talented, very charismatic band to pull me through the haze of voltage and feedback to show me what was really behind it.
I saw Valbanera play at the end of June, and was immediately struck by the strong stage presence these guys possess. Opening for bands Have You Seen My Ghost, LOVELOUD and Fit For Rivals, Valbanera commanded the stage for every minute they were up there, not relinquishing a single second to boring mediocrity.
From right here in Marietta, Georgia, Valbanera, a five-piece comprising Gavin Caffrey (vocals, keys and bells), Peyton Foley (guitar and vocals), Brian Caffrey (guitar and coarse vocals), Tyler Seaman (bass and vocals), and Anthony Founds (drums), delivers a sound that is emo-punk on downers with a poetic edge.
"Like a Cowboy Boot" is a perfect example of this edgy punk, drawing on strained vocals next to coarse screams that run you in ironic circles, as they sit atop melodic chords that make humming a breeze. Part of a compilation of Swayze's Venue artists, "Like a Cowboy Boot" perfectly showcases Founds's drumming style, as he's laid back one moment and shoots from 0-60 in .8 seconds the next, leaving you wondering what just happened. Seaman's bass lines, too, are something that this track benefits from. It seemed to me for a very long time that screamo was very hard to understand and that the lyrics didn't work very well with the melody. "Like a Cowboy Boot" changed all that: it's soft-to-hard melody contrasts with the lyrics in the best way, bearing the raw emotion these guys clearly have to show in a shining limelight.
Track two on my setlist, "Calm Down, Andy Torrey!," is too a brilliant track. Valbanera's use of the xylophone (or perhaps bells contributed by Gavin Caffrey) makes this a truly unique track as Foley and Brian Caffrey go to town on their guitars, creating a tapestry of sound and color in my head that lulls me into a sonic oblivion. The way these guys can connect their guitars with Seaman's bass proves to be one of the best attributes of this song.
Lastly, I find myself listening to "I Create the Valley," a track that seems to depart from Valbanera's rough exterior in favor of a more haunting one. But once again, this is only in the beginning, as the vocals suddenly shoot up in rage and raw power. I can't exorcise from my head, though, the thought that this is such a unique track because of its use of an easy, haunting melody over of a more aggressive one. So much screamo is the result of fast guitars and hard-cut bass lines and drums, but here, the haunting melody of the song makes this one a definite must hear.
The thing that struck me most about Valbanera though, was their incredible stage presence. These guys could have been playing to 5 people or 5,000 people, and it would have made no difference. They ruled that stage for their entire set as if they were rocking the main stage at Warped Tour. Seeing Caffrey hold the mic over the shuffling crowd as his bandmates played on and on was priceless. These guys are rockstars already; they don't need any big labels or big tours. That night I saw more personality and raw power flowing off the stage than I did when I saw The All-American Rejects or Daughtry, just to name a couple of some of the top-earning rock acts.
Valbanera won't be ignored, and I would love to see these guys play Warped Tour. I think that they would be a brilliant shock to anyone and everyone there, and that is something that excites me to see them again. Keep your eyes peeled for these guys, because they are not going away.

Sounds Like: Gallows, Inhale Exhale, Oh, Sleeper

Key Tracks from Weak Veins, Parting Ships and the Swayze's Venue Compilation (respectively): "Calm Down, Andy Torrey!," "I Create the Valley," "Like a Cowboy Boot"

Check out Valbanera more at: and!/pages/Valbanera/247909163979?v=wall&ref=ts

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Life Loving Me Loud

Hey guys, so another week has gone by, and I owe you a new group. I've been telling you about these guys for a few weeks now, but I've been spending time getting the wording just right. I've seen them live, I've listened to their songs again and again, and met them in person, so I absolutely know that you're gonna find these guys not only up to par, but sick and brilliant in all senses.
LOVELOUD first came to my attention in March when I went to go see Fit For Rivals play a show with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. It was at that show (an amazing live performance by both groups I must say, and also the show at which I discovered the intriguing emo-punk group that's been featured here again and again, Have You Seen My Ghost) that Renee Phoenix from FFR introduced me to Daniel McClure, the drummer for LOVELOUD. Now to both of us at that time, it was just a simple introduction, but as soon as I played the couple recorded songs Daniel handed to me on my home, I knew that wasn't going to be the end of it.
Then I saw LOVELOUD in June for the first time, when they played a show with Fit For Rivals and Have You Seen My Ghost. Aside from being cool, down-to-earth guys, they put on a freakin' amazing show. So now that you have a slight introduction as to just how I came across this crop of talent, now you know, and we can begin.
LOVELOUD likes to keep things simple: a Florida four-piece composed of Steven Williams (lead vocals and guitar), Jason Flynn (lead guitar), Elliot Redish (bass) and Daniel McClure (drums), LOVELOUD's music is a melodic concoction of pop-punk, alternative, and hard-rock. When I hear these guys, I think of Good Charlotte, (+44), Audioslave, and The Exies in the same vein. LOVELOUD's sound is so versatile, it's even hard to make a comparison at all, but that's my best shot right there.
If there was any doubt in the world that these guys don't have a groove of their own, it's definitely erased when you listen to the first track that they played live (if I remember correctly), "This Life." I love the guitar in this one: Flynn's notes are catchy and melodic, and blend with Williams's chords to bring a crashing beginning, middle and end to my ears. On top of that though, Williams has a vocal talent that makes me burn with jealousy, in the best way possible. As his voice sails smoothly along the verses and bridge, Redish's bass lines are clear and defined, and bore into my head as McClure's drumming makes me dizzy and disoriented trying to keep up. If that wasn't enough, Flynn pushes it to the next level with a solo that bleeds life and raw emotion into the veins of this song. "This Life" is definitely the first track any of you will want to listen to; it gets your blood boiling and your pulse going, and makes for a sick first song.
Track two is definitely close to being my favorite track on the setlist (it would undoubtedly be number one if I could only make up my mind haha). McClure and Flynn boost the entrance to a blasting rally, and Redish and Williams take over in a driving verse. I love the bass lines in "Six Days:" they are clear and powerful, and personally I always love a song where the bass is given sufficient power and play (case in point, The Offspring's "Self-Esteem"). McClure couldn't do any better on the drums, as these skins are shaking and stuttering, blasting the rust from my previously bored cortex. With a sing-along chorus and a guitar hook (or bass hook perhaps) that compares to the best of them, "Six Days" is a five-star track if there ever was one. At this point I'm floored that these guys aren't signed to a major label yet (but we've covered that before, because what do major labels really know about good music?).
"Over" is LOVELOUD's attempt at a more alternative-sounding track, and I must say, they certainly succeed. Williams's vocals are smooth and seductive, and just draw you in to the music. The lyrics, too, are lucid and clever, and hit home with me as I appreciate well-written lyrics like no other haha. With a group-vocal during the choruses, and rhythm that drives this one higher and higher, I'm blasted through black holes into another dimension as Flynn shreds his fretboard to nothing. The solo is sick, and riding on a hook that will have me air-guitaring in just about ten minutes, I'd call this one a success. In fact I'd say, "no duh."
At just a short 2:30, "Over" bleeds into "Crying Shame," LOVELOUD's shattering power-ballad. I love the emotion in this one, and with their last song, "Too Late," on their EP as well, these guys have gold in their pockets, and they know it.
If a hard-rocking EP wasn't enough, these guys give a fuckin' amazing show, and are cool to chill with after. LOVELOUD is a record producer's wet dream, and the fact that they're still flying solo is a testament to the breakdown in the "great American record company system." If any of you guys have a chance to see these guys play, don't pass it up. Check you local underground venues or their website, because LOVELOUD's explosive performance rivals anything I've seen at Phillip's Arena (Atlanta's Madison Square Garden), and with FFR and HYSMG this show was incredible. Check these guys out, and you'll be hooked instantly. LOVELOUD is coming, and nothing is gonna stop them anytime soon.

Sounds Like: (+44), Audioslave, Good Charlotte, The Exies

Key Tracks LOVELOUD: "Over," "Six Days," "This Life"

Check out LOVELOUD more at: and!/pages/LOVELOUD/73426022724?ref=ts

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm Voted Most Random

I've found it a bit hard to motivate myself to write new stuff for you guys lately not because it's lost it's zest or excitement, but because I'm doing a lot of brain-storming and trying to think of new ways to really take New Rock News 43 to the next level. I know that I've talked about a few here, but I have so many new ideas bouncing around in my head it'll take a while to figure out a way to make them a reality. So, for the next few months probably, my posts might be a bit less consistent than they would otherwise be. I do hope you all will bear with me and trudge through it, because although I see a lot of work up ahead, I can also see the light at the end of the tunnel, and after a couple more difficult months, I think that the new, revamped NRN43 will really be something to be reckoned with. So as I start getting my act together again, the posts will start to more consistent, and I know that I'll be proud of that fact as much as you guys will like it haha.
Anyway, on to what's really important here today. Demonstrating just the mood I'm in today, I take great pleasure in presenting Voted Most Random, a unique pop-punk quintet from Hamden, Connecticut, U.S.A. I actually ran across VMR a few months ago and have since been refining just how I wanted to present them to you guys. Like I said before, many of today's "pop-punk" bands are nothing more than Fall Out Boy or Blink-182 rip-offs and to find a group that really exudes individual artistic direction and creativity is like finding a diamond in the rough. Fortunately for you guys though, I seem to have a talent for such a task haha. When I discovered VMR, I immediately knew that I wasn't the only one, because after winning the grand prize for the East Coast Indie Battle of the Bands, these guys have landed a spot on Warped Tour playing a few dates up in and around their native Connecticut. Having opened for such international acts as We the Kings, Voted Most Random's sound is a mix between old-school pop-punk and modern melodic alternative.
Boasting the talents of Ian Reibeisen (lead vocals), Scott Gunter (lead guitar), Bennett Pisaniello (rhythm guitar), Joe Mauti (bass), and Sal Salemme (drums), VMR's leaves you wanting more, pure and simple. With songs and melodies that scream house party, I am immediately impressed with the potential I see in these guys.
Right from the start of the first track, "Party Naked," I am delivered a catchy guitar hook and rhythm by Gunter and Pisaniello, respectively, and a bass line that stands apart from the rhythm section in a way that shows that Mauti is not just a run-of-the-mill bassist. Salemme's drumming is chaotic as all hell during the chorus and verses, but stops immediately at all the right places to keep me on my feet. Reibeisen's vocals are a high-pitched wail that borders Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 and Patrick Stump of FOB. At just about 2:45, "Party Naked" is a simply-crafted, pure and simple pop-punk song. Voted Most Random try not at all to sound like anyone but themselves: their sound is both chaotic and controlled, and it's this juxtaposition of melody and passion that make such a simple song so much fun to listen to.
"A Beautiful You" is, from the start, a fantastic track that rides easily on Gunter's expert fretwork. I love the way this song plays with the guitar sounds, as Gunter floats back and forth between chords and the lead riff as Pisaniello's rhythmic chords give you something to bang your head to in the best and most old-school way. Reibeisen's vocals are choppy and garage-rockish, and lend to this track the feeling of being in front of a backyard stage as VMR tear up a house party in the '09s. It almost feels like this one could have been used in 10 Things I Hate About You or American Pie. Meanwhile, Mauti's bass lines and Salemme's drum beats are ferocious and exciting, and lead this one to the same exit as the last: a fun, energetic performance that displays what punk-rock is all about. The great guitar solo and ensuing outro by Gunter and Pisaniello don't hurt either.
From the outset of "Underweight & Overdressed (Hot Mess)," I know that I've found an exceptional song. Gunter and Pisaniello start with a hookish riff that will be in my head all day, and Salemme's drum roll sets a more enigmatic, albeit introspective tone that immediately resonates with me. Then the riff ends, and Salemme's drums pick up quickly, followed closely by Gunter, Pisaniello and Mauti. Mauti in particular, lets loose bass lines that fit in perfect puzzle fashion with the teen spirited punk that pours from Gunter's and Pisaniello's guitars. Reibeisen's vocals are smooth and serrated. If that doesn't make any sense to you, then you have even more of a reason to go check these guys out. If it does make sense, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Made stronger by a rhythm that keeps moving and a catchy riff that won't quit, "Underweight & Overdressed (Hot Mess)" is the perfect closer for any show, and as far as I'm concerned, with these three songs, Voted Most Random could easily have a dynamite EP. I've seen bands signed for way less.
In true pop-punk fashion, VMR deliver a performance that says, "this is who we are and we don't give a fuck what you think." This, I think, is their most attractive quality, after their music of course: proud of who they are, it bleeds though their music, and shows me just how much they clearly love doing what they do. That makes the music all that more enjoyable. If you're looking for a summer pick-up, here they are: Voted Most Random. Not soon to be forgotten, Voted Most Random are surely here to stay for a while, so get used to it

Sounds Like: Blink-182, We the Kings, Zebrahead, Lit

Key Tracks: "Party Naked," "A Beautiful You," "Underweight & Overdressed (Hot Mess)"

Check out Voted Most random more at: and!/VotedMostRandom?ref=ts

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