Saturday, September 25, 2010

No, We're Not Without Grace

Like I promised a few days ago, here's a new group that will totally blow your minds. Since my last couple posts were on hard-rock and metal bands, I figured I'd lighten it up a bit, and throw you guys a band that's got a sound that won't drill blood-wells into your ears (though we all know that those bands definitely have their place haha), but rather sooth you in a melodic sea of emotion.
I can certainly say that these guys (and girl) are a first, as they present the first group New Rock News 43 has ever reviewed to make their way from snowy Sweden, way up in the Scandinavian Peninsula. For any Swedish readers out there, you can most certainly rejoice, because I'm blatantly and bluntly jealous that you can lay claim to this band and I can't, being from the States.
But enough of this beating around the bush bullshit, here for the first time, and I certainly hope not the last, is Not Without Grace, an ambient-rock trio who show favor beyond all measure.
Composed of Linnéa Herlogsson (lead vocals), brother Alexander Herlogsson (rhythm guitar) and Christoffer Franzén (lead guitar), with live musicians Anton Weihard (bass) and Fredrik Sellegren (drums), Not Without Grace strikes out from their native Göteborg, Västra Götalands län, Sweden, with a sound that relies on the ambient interplay between the Alexander Herlogsson's and Christoffer Franzén's guitars and Linnéa Herlogsson's smokey vocals. In the same way K's choice struck me with "Not An Addict," Not Without Grace immediately sends a bolt of curiosity and emotion running through me with their trite, though not surprisingly, fulfilling setlist.
Though in the midst of recording their debut album, Not Without Grace find ample time to wow me with their first track "Cut Me Loose." I can only imagine that Weihard and Sellegren provide a strong backbone on this one live, as it rests sturdily on a bass and drum partnership that infects every fiber of my mind with a contagious beat I just can't forget. Yet from second one, it's the guitars that draw me in, and the vocals that give me reason to stay. Alexander Herlogsson's rhythm guitar sails just over the bass and drums, finding a comfortable place between the rhythm section and Franzén's lead guitar notes. With an ambient progression that The Edge and U2 could happily find a home for on any of their acclaimed albums, the stage is set for Linnéa Herlogsson to sweep me away with her soft and sensual, yet oh so resilient vocals. Herlogsson's vocals are so subtle and sultry that they seem to cloud my mind, and once again I'm flashing sonic plays of K's Choice and Garbage in my head as I listen. Drowning in the proverbial sea of melody and emotion, I find a tiny lifeboat in the rhythmic downstrokes of Herlogsson's guitar married to the chiming, R.E.M.-style notes that Franzén puts forth. The only way I can even begin to describe the chorus in this song is like standing in the eye of a hurricane, and watching the waves and wind swirl around you. That's exactly what you feel when the younger Herlogsson takes off in her vocal assault on the world and all the ears in it. "Cut Me Loose" is most certainly one of the key tracks on NWG's demo effort, and this one, much like "Radio Free Europe" did before, has the potential to drive its respective artists right to the top of the mainstream charts, as well as garnering them respective play on college radio. Maybe I'm right and maybe I'm not, but that's exactly what I think and predict.
Track two is "Joshua," a fitting name for a song whose group seems to take so much direction from U2. Though U2's critically acclaimed album The Joshua Tree is probably not the basis for this song or its title, I still randomly make the connection in my head, so don't take me at my word on that. The one thing you can hold me to, though, is that this song is brilliant in its sonic power, and plays to me an audio rainbow right before my eyes. With less emphasis on the drums and bass, Alexander Herlogsson and Franzén are free to step forward and showcase their inarguable guitar skills. Weaving a string-based tapestry of sonic bliss, the two guitarists set a perfect stage for Linnéa Herlogsson's soft vocals. One thing I love about Linnéa Herlogsson's singing is that I can understand every single word. Clear, intelligible and resonant, Herlogsson's vocals seam to weave themselves in and out of whatever tiny keyholes that Alexander Herlogsson's and Franzén's guitars might leave open. The choruses and pre-choruses in "Joshua" are high and melodic, lending a hand to any rainy day or sunny afternoon. While most songs have their place for a particular mood or day, "Joshua" seems to find comfort in both the cold, rainy days and the warm spring afternoons. The mark of a truly great song, undoubtedly.
Not Without Grace continue with "Confession," and the minute that Alexander Herlogsson's and Franzén's guitars appear on the scene, it's an audio free-for-all. Then the drums and bass roll in, and the rhythm in this song is something so reminiscent of the '90s that I find myself wondering where were these guys 15 years ago. Probably in school, the same as me, but all I can say is that the '90s could only have been better with this song on the charts. A song that might rival those of Garbage or Alanis Morissette, "Confession" showcases the exact reason that I believe in my heart Not Without Grace will find their place in the alternative-rock scene, high above all the hacks that will undoubtedly try to follow and copy. Linnéa Herlogsson's vocals are a gift, pure and simple. A voice like hers can't be bought or cultivated, not with all the money or the best classical training in the world. Gifts like that are things you're born with, and Not Without Grace reaps the enormous benefits of laying Linnéa Herlogsson's gift next to those of Alexander Herlogsson and Franzén, forming a tight-knit symphony of joy and curiosity, the likes of which I can only give it up for with the best I have to write. "Confession" is the the song on the album that gives you hope, and if it's not already, this one promises to most certainly find itself as one of the crowd favorites.
Last for me is Not Without Grace's demo of their new song, "Hide Away." If the other songs weren't enough to convince even the most stodgy record-label executive that NWG has that oh-so-special spark, then "Hide Away" will definitely put them in their place. A soft and sensual ballad that floats high above all the anger and spite in today's world, "Hide Away" will bring you to a place you can only say you've seldom been before. Definitely the best way to finish up any album or show, "Hide Away" would be my pick for any encore song. Not Without Grace have certainly outdone themselves with this one, and the minute you listen to it, you know it. Rarely is anything so simple to state.
As Not Without Grace descend from the snowy banks of the Swedish shore, all I can do is watch with excitement and anticipation. Sewing musical seeds that are so sweet and resilient, you can almost taste them as the music comes from the speakers, Not Without Grace prove to be one of the premier upcoming acts from Northern Europe, at least in my humble opinion. The Herlogsson siblings and Franzén are definitely going places, and as a new full-fledged fan, I find myself more than a little excited to see where those places are. Not to be forgotten anytime soon, if ever, Not Without Grace are only getting started. And what's to come, I suspect, will blow everything I thought I knew about ambient and alternative-rock right out of the water. I can't wait.

Sounds Like: K's Choice, Garbage, Letters to Cleo, U2

Key Tracks: "Cut Me Loose," "Joshua," "Confession," "Hide Away"

Check out Not Without Grace more at: and


  1. Very accurate review. I listened to them after reading your post and I completely agree. They are a great band! Now more songs to add to my playlist, thanks!

  2. I'm really glad you liked it! I hope you'll keep reading. Peace!!

  3. OMG, I'm so in love with them! Just discovered them on Youtube, and I totally agree with you. I'm completely in love with Linnea's voice.


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