Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Have You Seen My Ghost?

It's been just over two weeks since I last gave you guys a new band and I for that do apologize. Things have been crazy, so I hope you won't hold it against me, but just to let everyone know what exactly has been so crazy, I GOT INTO BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY! It's been a hard college application process, but guys, if you set your mind to something, nothing can get in your way. Hopefully this means I'll be writing you guys new articles from Boston next year, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Anyway, I'm trying to find new ways to expand New Rock News 43, and some ideas that are coming to mind are interviews and a new site. While it's still on the drawing board, if I do get my own domain I'll be sure to let you all know, and rest assured it'll definitely rock and certainly be worth the wait.
First though, I know you guys are all salivating at the mouth for someone new to check out, so here's my update for tonight. Also, let me say that the Red Jumpsuit/Fit For Rivals show was AMAZING. An awesome headliner with great opening bands, this show was definitely one to see, so if the tour's coming anywhere near you, I highly recommend going. One of the things that was a pleasant surprise was one of the opening acts on the bill: Have You Seen My Ghost. Now, I went to see Red Jumpsuit and Fit For Rivals (who I met and are by the way awesome guys (and girl) and gave a sick performance), but Have You Seen My Ghost themselves gave a great set, and just really impressed me.
If I were pressed, I'd describe their music as somewhat of a mix between emo-punk and and screamo-rock. Just an interesting blend in itself. Consisting of members Lee (bass and vocals), Grayson (guitar and vocals) and Eric (drums), HYSMG come from right here in Marietta, Georgia, and are definitely a different flavor of rock for you. That's one of my golden rules though, like I keep repeating here: I want something that's different. Make me love you, or make me hate you; either one is better than just being mediocre.
After releasing the Red and White EP's, HYSMG released the Black EP in late 2009, and that's the one I'll be talking about today. Consisting of three songs, it's a short and powerful zap to my system. The first song I listen to from the Black EP is "Gravity," a curious track that falls somewhere between emo-pop and hardcore punk rock. The song readily starts with a heavily melodic guitar note section as the rhythm section provided by Lee and Eric just smacks you around in the best way possible. Grayson's guitar, meanwhile, is ambient, plucking notes that have amazing staying power in my mind. Then there is the unique vocal dynamic between Grayson and Lee: rather than the traditional, Blink-182-style dynamic, they both do soft and hardcore vocals, and the song definitely benefits because of it. One other aspect of this song I absolutely love is its change in pace and rhythm. Moving away from the regular pop-song format, HYSMG change it up using the Pixies' quiet/loud dynamic, and it is just a song that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I love it.
Track two is "Goodbye My Friend." This one is just as melodic as the first, but in a slower kind of way. Grayson's guitar is so eerie, and Lee's bass is powerful enough to drive the whole song. Eric's drums, meanwhile, scale themselves back a bit, and the song just launches into a blasting, powerful chorus. This song is incredibly catchy, and I just know it's going to stick in my head all night. The vocals are stripped down, but still raw enough to really feel the emotion, and like its predecessor, "Goodbye My Friend" makes fantastic uses of changes of rhythm and tone. Definitely not a filler track on this EP.
The last song I listen to, and indeed the last one on the EP is appropriately titled "The End." As the song begins, immediately it's an acquired taste. Lee's and Grayson's vocals are harsh and unforgiving, already baring to me the emotional feel that I'm going to get from the song. I love it. The drums and bass are hardcore, and the guitar is searing in its approach. I feel like I did when I heard Slayer and Pantera for the first time. A far-flung differentiation from The Doors' "The End," HYSMG inject this track with some death-metal vocals that are counterbalanced by smooth, emo-pop voices. A truly unique take on what hardcore emo can be. Do I love the song? I don't know, but I love that it's something new and abnormal. And while Eric's drums and Lee's bass pound along in an unforgiving way, Grayson's guitar chords are creepy as hell and surreal, and if you're looking for a song to totally uproot everything you know, or think you knew, about punk and metal, this is it.
This EP is amazing, and the fact that Have You Seen My Ghost can do more with three songs than many people can do with eleven is a testament to how creative these guys truly are. Not to mention the fact that these guys gave a great show. That's just icing on the cake. If you're looking for a new group who are constantly pushing the boundaries on their sound, I highly recommend checking these guys out. They're definitely not a group you can become bored with. Fantastic.

Sounds Like: Alexisonfire, Gallows, Pixies, Slayer

Key Tracks from the Black EP: "Gravity," "Goodbye My Friend," "The End"

Check out Have You Seen My Ghost more at: http://www.myspace.com/haveyouseenmyghost and http://www.purevolume.com/haveyouseenmyghost

Monday, March 22, 2010


I'm sorry for my break all. I desperately needed to rest my mind and with college stuff getting serious right now, it's been really busy. But I promise a whole slew of new bands soon. Peace all.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Watching the Holiday Parade

Like it always seems to be these days, it's been a few days since I posted, but just like all the times before, I promise I have a good reason. Never mind that I was in a job interview all day (which continues this week too, by the way lol), but I've been taking my time finding some new groups because I'm trying to broaden the reach of my posts in terms of sound and genre.
So that's enough of me droning on, let's get to the important stuff. The story today (or tonight perhaps) is Holiday Parade, a four-piece that I am proud to say comes from right here in Atlanta, Georgia. Comprising members Andy Albert (vocals and acoustic guitar), Michael Whitworth (guitar and keys), Joel Merritt (bass), and Kenny Muto (guitar), Holiday Parade's sound is a great blend of easy pop-rock melodies with nice rhythms that leaves nothing to be desired. As of yet, Holiday Parade have released four albums: Two Cheers for Tuesday in '06, This Is My Year in '07, and To You. From Us. in '08. The one that I want to focus on, however, is their most recent ambition, Tickets & Passports released in April of 2009. Like tracks I've listened to on their earlier albums, the tracks on Tickets & Passports are solid rock songs, but seem more of a realization in terms of top-notch production and great mixing. Sometimes production can be over-the-top, as in cases when punk-rock is too polished and loses its flavor. But for the type of music they clearly love to play, Holiday Parade put out an album on which the production is one of the shining aspects and a big plus.
The first song I listen to from the album is "Nothing Personal." A tightly laid out track in itself, "Nothing Personal" boasts a great beat and rhythm with melodic, stick-in-your-head vocals and guitar riffs that you'll go to bed humming. Albert's vocals are a brilliant storm of melody and emotion, and mix fantastically with Whitworth's and Muto's guitars. In the back, among solid drumbeats, Merritt's bass can be clearly heard setting a driving tone for the song. I particularly like the overlapping vocals towards the end of the song. This is not an overly complicated song, but it works so well that it doesn't need to be. The most punk-rock thing that anyone can do is create more with less, and here Holiday Parade branch the piano-pop-rock sound in new directions with the simple chemistry of guitar, bass, and vocals. A great song, and my choice for a great single. The fact that it's radio-friendly is just a plus in the marketing light.
Track two for me is "Time for Me," and from the first notes on Whitworth's piano, I love the way this song is going. Like the previous track, it's simple in it's composure, but that doesn't stop it from having a great, driving chorus. Albert's vocals are clear and crisp, and among Whitworth's and Muto's brilliant guitar interplay, rest lightly on the ear in just the way that they should. I love the bridge in this song, and the interlude is a great way to keep the song moving in a non-repetitive way. Merritt's bass is a bit more in the background here, but by no means absent. It keeps the chorus flowing nicely, and lies perfectly between Whitworth's and Muto's guitars while providing a perfect stage for Albert's vocals. Definitely one of the best songs on the record in my humble opinion.
The last song that I listen to is the title track. This six-minute track is a masterpiece on the album: with smooth, emotional vocals, and lyrics that actually talk about something relevant, it's certainly one of Holiday Parade's best efforts. Albert's vocals and guitar are at their very best here, and against an easy drumbeat, Merritt's bass makes a grand stand, letting itself be known without drowning out the melody of the song. Combined with Whitworth's guitar and keys, and Muto's own guitar notes, "Tickets & Passports" is the power-ballad to hear on this album. With a rhythm befitting its romantic lyrics and melody, all four members of Holiday Parade combine their talents on this last track to dazzle the ears with a storm of notes and keys, melody and emotion. The song is so well done, even the ending is one of the high points, with a fade-out on piano keys and snare-drum beats. I absolutely love this track, and it's definitely one of the five-star songs on the album. Brilliant. 
You guys gotta definitely check these guys out, and here's the perfect chance at the end of the week: Holiday Parade and Seven Story Fall are playing a FREE acoustic show at North Point Mall on Friday, March 12th, and I'll certainly be there. I believe they'll also be playing again with SSF as Masquerade on the 20th, but unfortunately I won't be able to attend. But that doesn't mean you guys can't, and I'm telling you, these guys, with Seven Story Fall, AND Freshmen 15 (on the 20th at Masquerade), those aren't shows you're gonna want to miss. I absolutely can't wait to see them this Friday, that concert's gonna rock.

Sounds Like: Waking Ashland, Mayday Parade, Secondhand Serenade, All Time Low

Key Tracks from Tickets & Passports: "Nothing Personal," "Time for Me," "Tickets & Passports," "Forever"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hey You, Columba

It's been a few days since my last post, and I hope you guys have been checking out all the new people I've had up; they're all really incredible, and if you haven't heard them yet, you're definitely missing out. Anyway, I'm here today to let you guys know about a new band I just found, and I gotta say they're truly amazing.
Out of Glasgow, Scotland, U.K., Columba are an indie-rock four-piece that blend the blues guitar of Clapton and Beck with the indie, Brit-pop vocal melodies of Oasis and Blur. A truly unique melding of two completely different styles, yet one that works so well it makes me wonder why I haven't really heard it yet up until now. Composed of Jamie Davidson (lead vocals), John Carson (lead guitar and backing vocals), Scott Campbell (bass), and Tony Osborne (drums), Columba's melodies tie in with hypnotic rhythms to produce the Smashing Pumpkins in bed with Oasis and Cream.
It hasn't evaded my attention that I've been throwing out numerous, seemingly contradictory comparisons, but being as truthful as I can be, these guys just seem to have influences from bands across he board, and with the sound they produce, I wouldn't have it any other way.
The first song I listen to from Columba's demo EP is "Before the Time." Starting with a solid drum beat by Osborne, the song launches straight into a melodic trance as Carson soon blends bluesy chords and notes with Campbell's strong bass notes. One of the things I love in this song that I hope I hear on the other ones is Carson's blending of acoustic guitar with electric. With an almost ridiculous air, Carson's guitars meld brilliantly to make me think there are two guitarists, and then I hear Davidson's vocals, loud, clear, and brilliant. It's like hearing "Champagne Supernova" again, but with a harder, more blues-rock backbone. This is truly one of the best songs on the EP. Everything is right: Campbell's bass is tight and strong next to Osborne's rhythmic drums, Carson's guitar is loud and melodic, and Davidson's vocals just serenade you into a hypnotic trance of indie and pop. And just when I think the song's going to wind down to a soft end, Carson shoots it back full of life with a shining guitar riff that gives the song a perfect ending. One thing I can hear clearly on this song, these guys are tight and know how to play with each other, and it definitely comes through on their music.
Track two is "Hey You," a slower, more bluesy, almost country-esque song. But Davidson's vocals and the rhythm section of Campbell and Osborne make sure this is not a song that gets categorized with Rascal Flatts or The Avett Brothers. Carson's guitar once again just bleeds through the speakers surrounding me in melodic chords and sharp notes. These guys definitely picked the right guitarist for their band, and he's right on the money in this song. Meanwhile, Davidson's vocals are sultry and hypnotic, and just wash through my mind in a way that none really have since I first heard Oasis. Now although I'm not a huge Oasis fan, you gotta admit that their vocals are pretty good, so this isn't meant to be a dig at these guys for having a bit of an Oasis influence because they make it work for them. Then there's Osborne, who's drumming is minimalist it seems, but the song is only better for it, and Campbell, whose bass seems to whisper its notes, but that's what makes his technique great. The mark of a really great rhythm section is knowing how to carry the song and make your mark without overpowering the melody, and Columba's certainly achieved that here. This is definitely my pick for my favorite song on the EP. No contest.
The last song I listen to is "Right Here." As the last chords of "Hey You" trail out, "Right Here" starts with an interesting, almost weird acoustic chord set and electric riff from Carson. Then Davidson's vocals come in, and it's creepy almost how much they sound like Billy Corgan meets Liam Gallagher. Then as the acoustic guitar fades out, Campbell and Osborne appear in the background, giving the song a great rhythm section to fit nicely over Carson's blues guitar chords. Of the three songs I listen to, this one is definitely the most different of them, but Columba make it work for them, and I can't resist this one the same way I can't resist "Hey You" or "Before the Time."Like many of the songs that have drawn me to the groups I've reviewed, this is one that just pulls me in. It's so all-encompassing that you forget that anything else but the song exists. Certainly one of the must-hear, more interesting songs on Columba's EP.
With these three songs heading up their EP, Columba produce an album that's different and unique, and definitely worth listening to. If you like anything indie, acoustic, blues, or pop-rock, then these guys are your assignment for the next few days. You won't be sorry. I'm sure as hell not.

Sounds Like: Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins, Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind, Blur

Key Tracks from Columba EP: "Before the Time," "Hey You," "Right Here"

Check out Columba more at: http://www.unsigned.com/columba

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