Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spotlight Break: Carrying On with TheFlashJam

With a brand new layout for their Myspace page an a new song to set things off with a bang, TheFlashJam returns to NewRockNews43 with a new sound, but with the same energy that they graced us with last time. At their last stop, TheFlashJam broke through the NRN43 barrier with their unbelievably catchy song, "Caught on the Dancefloor." Now with their new song "Carry On," TFJ are continuing their synth-pop assault on the world, albeit in a new way.
"Carry On" is a bit of a departure for TFJ, leaning more towards a soft epic ballad than a dance-pop hit that led me to discover them in the first place. Yet it seems that TheFlashJam have prepared themselves for this new direction, and the transition is smooth and seamless. Jamie McLean's vocals are heartfelt and just a little ragged around the edges, owing to real emotion beneath the surface. With bass lines that keep TFJ's dance-pop past lit up, Brody Krock is great here, and coupling himself nicely with Oliver Banjac's guitar chords, makes this one a great song to listen to. Stefan Candie's key strokes augment the melody in Mclean's voice with a pop ease and polish, lending to McLean extra melody where others fall through.
An epic departure from what struck me about these guys in the first place, "Carry On" is a slamdunk for TheFlashJam, showing that they can write ballads just as much as catchy dance songs. Can't wait to hear more from this Canadian flash-bang of a band.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Break This Week

Hey all, I didn't want today to go by without letting you know that the post for this week will appear next Friday. It's been a busy holiday weekend (Thanksgiving for any non-Americans out there) and I want to publish the article when it's just right. Thank you for you understanding and patience and have a great weekend. Check back next week for a great new artist. Peace all!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Honestly, The Honesty

I could say that I never expected to write about these guys, but I know that's not true. Sooner or later I'm pretty sure I'd have found out about them and given them the write-up they deserve, but I had no idea I'd run into them so quickly and be so impressed. Something about the sound that The Honesty come up with is so unique I can't really even put my finger on it. It's youthful and so full of life, and it's definitely a sound I want to hear more of.
The Honesty have the number one song on Purevolume this week, and after listening to "Intentions" (which features Joel Piper of Confide) it's not hard to see why. "Intentions" has a fantastic sound with a stick-in-your-head chorus and melody that has me humming along long after the song has ender. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's cover the basics first. 
The story this week is The Honesty, a pop-punk quartet from Palm Springs, California. With the dynamic lineup of Tasha Gilbreath on lead vocals, Aaron Aparicio on guitar, Jeff Harber on guitar, and Mikey Davis on drums, The Honesty are rekindling a pop-oriented punk sound that seems to have been lost among the waves of techno-pop and post-grunge in the last few years, or at the very least the last few months. Even from the very first few seconds, everything about The Honesty's music is drenched in life and indeed attitude, and as the speakers pulse with their tunes and lyrics, a sonic tapestry technicolor in nature seems to materialize before my eyes. One thing I can tell about this band even before getting too far into their playlist is they approach their music from a different angle than so many other artists. But that's something that I love: anything that makes you different and unique can only help you in my opinion.
And now the bottom-line story. The Honesty, who formed in 2009 and have been honing their skills ever since, have a new EP out, and not only is it one they can be very proud of, but it's also up for a free entire download on Purevolume. If I were any of you guys out there, I'd run out and download it now (something I'm definitely going to do) because an amazing deal like this won't last for long. The new EP, titled The Thing We'll Never Know, is, if nothing else, a dynamic first punch at the record industry by The Honesty. "Intentions" features amazing guitar riffs by Aparicio and Harber alike, and the drumming by Davis drives the track through a tunnel of melody and rhythm in a way that seems to have become lost in the current music world. To push it over the top, Gilbreath's vocals are clean and clear, a soothing reminder that smooth and polished vocals can do as much hard-rock damage with as much attitude as coarse and growling screams. Stepping away from the Flyleaf-influenced harsh vocal setting, The Honesty, and indeed Gilbreath in particular, marry the smooth, melodic vocals of Meg & Dia and Paramore to the fretwork and rhythms of Boys Like Girls and Hit the Lights. 
Things continue with "The Reason." But this isn't the slow, moody track that you think of when you hear this title (a possible throwback to Hoobastank's 2005 song of the same title, though only in my opinion). With Gilbreath's vocals on top, Aparicio's and Harber's guitar work so well together that I can't pick one guitar from another, and the resulting riffs intermingle in the best way with Davis's rhythms. I particularly love the clever, sing-along lyrics here: it is most apparent that The Honesty put as much hard work into their writing as they do their instrumentation. Gilbreath's voice cuts through everything like a flame through ice, and as it comes through the speakers, the only thing I can think is that The Honesty have only just tapped the potential I know they are capable of. When you hear a group as cohesive and on their mark as The Honesty are, you just know, as I do, that they're destined for big things.   
The Things We'll Never Know is filled with incredible tracks like "On the Line (Follow Me)," which feature a fantastic group vocal and a harmony that the others might bristle with jealousy over, and "Sold My Soul to Radio," which demonstrates that The Honesty can be just as much attitude-driven as they can be melody-steered. The riff and palm-mutes on "Sold My Soul to Radio," as well as Gilbreath's breathy vocals, push The Honesty's EP higher than I could have ever imagined. With an EP like The Things We'll Never Know under their belts, The Honesty are on their way to the national stage, I can feel it. 
As "In the Shadows" plays for me in the background, I struggle to find words to end on. The Honesty have succeeded in totally and unexpectedly blowing my mind in the course of ten minutes. If they reach every one of their listeners and fans the way they have reached me today, the sky is the limit for them. I know we're going to be seeing great things from this group, and I'm more than a little excited to see just how much they have to offer. I'm sure we'll soon find out.  

Sounds Like: Paramore, Meg & Dia, Tegan and Sarah, Boys Like Girls

Key Tracks from The Things We'll Never Know: "Intentions," "The Reason," "Sold My Soul to Radio," "Warning!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

All I Know Is That Vanity Kills

I am more than a little excited to bring you this new band today. In fact, you could say that I'm practically bursting because I know that these guys are gonna totally blow you all away. Like I've mentioned before, I'm searching for new avenues to explore for you guys, so that you're getting a musical fix from every corner of the world, and every sub-genre in the rock family. This is one of those new fixes that will have you guys searching frantically for more music by this band; I know it. With a sound that's slick and rejuvenating, this group will wash you away in power chords and blast-off choruses like you haven't been in years.
Out of Kortrijk, West Flanders, Belgium, All I Know is Ward Dufraimont on lead vocals and guitar, Michaël Neyt on lead guitar and backing vocals, Amély Mondy on bass, and Bram Steemans live on drums. If these guys (and girl) have anything at all going for them, it's dynamically smooth vocals set atop blasting power chords and sparkling note progressions. Filling in the spaces between are hard-edged bass-lines and drums that will have you banging your head like you did the first time you heard "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me." One thing I love about this group is their old-school approach to song structure. There's definitely something to be said for the two or three verses with choruses in between, and a sick solo over a rhythmic bridge. Today the classic guitar riff is underestimated, but there's a reason it's classic. For this kind of stadium rock, there's nothing better than the formula that these guys use to shoot me full of adrenaline and rock nostalgia.
All I Know's newest effort, Vanity Kills, was rereleased worldwide on October 29th, and I'm most certainly be one of the people trying to scrape together a few bucks to get it. If nothing else, the first track I hear from it is pure rock gold. There's nothing I can say about the track "Rain" other than it's just perfect. Starting with a sick dual guitar riff by Dufraimont and Neyt, "Rain" is something halfway in between a power-ballad and a full-out rock anthem. The building in the song is incredible, and the energy only gets higher as the pressure finally breaks free in a sonic firestorm of notes and Bon Jovi-esque vocals in the chorus. I particularly love the lyrics in this song, but one thing that can't be overstated is how Mondy uses her bass to drive everything higher and faster, and I'm sure that live Steemans just kills on the drums. The solo here is like something out of 1986, and I love it. A musical mix of Bon Jovi's guitars, Def Leppard's rhythm section, and Scorpions' sharpened vocals, "Rain" is, if nothing else, a killer song to have, and one that Vanity Kills certainly benefits from. This has to be the first song you listen to by AIK. Hearing it for the first time actually sent chills down my spine, so that should tell you all you need to know.
AIK keeps things at full blast with the next track, "Into Your Heart." Clearly inspired by Bon Jovi with perhaps a little vocal inspiration by Bruce Springsteen, The Boss himself, "Into Your Heart" has not only a great chorus that will stick in your heard all day and every night, but also an intro the likes of which I can honestly say I haven't heard since the first time I heard Bon Jovi's "Runaway." The keyboard intro is so retro it actually sounds like it belongs in an '80s teen movie. Dufraimont's vocals have a great rhythm and tone, and you can tell that Neyt is just itching to let go on his guitar, which he eventually does during the solo. Letting loose in a flurry of notes and chords, Neyt works well with Mondy and the drums to create an audio tapestry of color and emotion. The lyrics "never gonna stop until I break into your heart" are words every person can connect to and that's something that makes All I Know's sound accessible to any listener.
The last track for me, "All Night Long," is a mix of hair-metal glitz and hard-rock edge. Starting with a Poison-esque riff, All I Know quickly pick up the pace and already I can feel this one as the feel-good song of the album. The vocals and rhythm are curiously Va Halen in reminder and effect, but once the chorus comes up, it's everything Poison and Def Lep with a partying groove and great lyrics. The solo is as original as anything I've ever heard, and with clear influences by Zeppelin and Aerosmith, and maybe a little KISS too, All I Know strikes gold again. This would be a great track for any radio play, college or commercial, and is one that could definitely bring new listeners to the station. As for other uses, I'm thinking the soundtrack ending to a great teen movie or a camp slideshow, and of course a killer encore at any show. If All I Know did everything else wrong, "All Night Long" would certainly make up for it. Luckily, that's not the case at all.
I can't wait to see the reaction to Vanity Kills. This album is gonna sound like nothing we've heard in a very long time. For the people who grew up in and love the '80s, it's gonna be a nostalgic kickback to the glory days of high school, and for us younger people, it's gonna be a refreshing breath of melodic metal in a world where such albums have become few and far between. If there was ever a band to rekindle the love and interest in Def Leppard's working-metal sound, All I Know is it. Vanity Kills is just their first strike out, and from the sounds on this record, it's apparent that it won't be their last. Not by a long shot.

Sounds Like: Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Scorpions

Key Tracks from Vanity Kills: "Rain," "Into Your Heart," All Night Long"

Check out All I Know more at: and

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Riot Tapes: A Sound Like Winter

Up until now, I've featured artists from around the world, though predominantly from the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada. Lately however, I've been broadening my horizons by looking out in new directions to find new talent and different sounds for you guys to sink your teeth into. This is one of those new directions.
It is my distinct pleasure to present the first ever artist ever to come to NewRockNews43 from Ireland. Out of the city of Dublin, The Riot Tapes are an indie-rock quintet with a uniquely '90s-rock/2000s-alternative sound that blends Garbage-like vocals with Cranberries-influenced instrumentals to provide a new hybrid of indie-rock sounds. Composed at its core of Elaine Doyle (lead vocals), Tim Clarke (keys and production) and Chris O'Brien (guitar, background vocals and production (also bass on demo recordings)), The Riot Tapes are rounded out live by Robert Crosbie (guitar and background vocals), Colm O'Riordan (bass), and Graham Dunne (drums). With this dynamite lineup and a few shining demos in hand, The Riot Tapes are showing that the sounds that abound within the Irish homeland are more than just those of Sinéad O'Connor and U2. Brilliant in their execution, the Riot Tape demos showcase some of the best attributes that set this band apart from others: smoky vocals, gently distorted guitars, and a building rhythm section that lifts a dazzling key-progression to the forefront.
This is no truer than on The Riot Tapes' brilliant lead-off track, "Photograph." Right from the beginning, the melody is set with O'Brien's guitar and Clarke's keys. Doyle's vocals remind me fondly of everything I love about K's Choice and Letters to Cleo, though with a certain power the speaks to a slight Cranberries influence. I love how the drums just fill in, passionately but not over-driven, and the bass is thumping perfectly in the semi-undertone. It is clear to me that with a rhythm section set up like the way this one is, Dunne and O'Riordan must give one hell of a show. One thing I absolutely love about this song is the chorus. It's short, it's sharp, and it's just incredibly catchy. The verses too, though, are soft and strong, perfect for any kind of sing-along accompaniment at a show. This is the kind of song I'd expect to hear on the soundtrack to an indie film, or maybe just something I'd like to have on my car radio during a crisp autumn afternoon. It's heavy and romantic, melodic and poppy, but not overbearing or drowning. For any producers out there looking for a song that speaks to a great marriage of pop-song dynamics to indie attitude, this is it. Just one listen, and I know I'll have this song on my top plays all week. Oh, and did I mention that it has a great bridge and interlude?
The Riot Tapes continue to amaze me with "Open Eyed Dreams," a soft, ballad-esque track that slows things down and makes you think deeply about that relationship it reminds you of. One of the best ways I can describe the sound of this song is like pure winter: the days getting dark early, the cold wind around you, and that special person you wish you could spend all your time with at home, sitting on the couch waiting for you. Doyle's vocals are low and romantic, and the lyrics are so deep-set, it's like she's speaking right to me. The lead guitar notes provided by O'Brien rest lightly on rhythmic chords, which in turn find a home on top of great drumming and bass lines. One thing I'm sure of is that with a bright melody like that one that graces this track, the teamwork of Crosbie and O'Brien on guitar must be amazing live. At just the length of a normal single, "Open Eyed Dreams" is powerful in ways that 7:00 songs aren't. This is the song to play when you're turning the lights down low and drifting off to sleep in the cool night. With heartfelt verses and a chorus that's easy in the truest sense of the word, "Open Eyed Dreams" showcases The Riot Tapes at their most romantic. I can hear the longing in Doyle's voice, and this one is a five-star track if I ever heard one.
And then there's "Everything Is Local." This one is an immediate departure from the first two tracks, and proves the The Riot tapes can do fast-paced songs just as well as deep ballads. Doyle's vocals are almost ghostly, floating all around me as the drumming on the cymbals and high-hats is something for TRT to brag about. I love the way TRT have distorted their guitars with alternative vibes, and their interaction together only serves to bring this song higher. The bass lines are simple, but altogether beneficial to the song, and with a quick wrap-up, "Everything Is Local" may perhaps be TRT's most interesting track, musically and dynamically.
If not though, it certainly only adds to The Riot Tapes' overall unique performance and undeniable talent. An abstract display of how music can be new and different with a classic flavor, songs like "Photograph" and "Everything Is Local" will rejuvenate you and make you nostalgic for a simpler, more romantic time. The Riot Tapes have certainly outdone themselves, and if these are just three songs from their repertoire, then I can't wait to see what else they have in store.

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

Key Tracks: "Photograph," "Open Eyed Dreams," "Everything Is Local"

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