Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning Not to Break with Not Without Grace

Hey all, it's good to be back! After so many final exams I can't even see straight, NewRockNews43 is back with some great new reviews, new albums, new bands, and maybe even some interviews too! As I've been so busy with school lately, I haven't had time to keep up with the domestic NRN43 vets, let alone the international acts. But that makes for the best sort of surprises now that I have time to sit back and focus on the music. Some of my favorite things to come out of the past few weeks are new songs by that amazing Swedish alternative-pop band, Not Without Grace.
I first discovered and fell in love with Not Without Grace when I come upon their Mysace page and heard their songs "Cut Me Loose" and "Hide Away." The musical approach these guys (and girl) take is one that is unique and altogether exciting, and one that sets them apart in my mind from everyone else I've ever heard. A tranquil mix of alternative rhythms and lyrics and pop vocals set against pseudo-folk instrumentation, the music that Not Without Grace sets ablaze through the speakers wraps around me and just pulls me in. As that was the feeling I had when I first heard this band, I'm more than excited now to see what kinds of new tracks they've been busy working on.
One of the first tracks I heard from the new NWG catalog was "Devil in Me." The one thing I can say about this song is that it's got a great rhythm, and lyrics that are quite addictive. It has quickly become one of my favorite tracks of the past three months. "Say It" and "Old Man," too, released shortly after "Devil in Me" appeared on NWG's Youtube channel, have been on constant rotation for me. The slowed down and tranquil mood of "Say It" was just what I was looking for when I was studying for my finals, and as I listened, it was almost as if I could see the colors in the music flash before my eyes. Yet "Old Man" took it to another level entirely: the steady and deep rhythm of the song melded perfectly with Christoffer Franzén's guitar work, and as Linnéa Herlogsson took me even higher with her dynamic vocals, Alexander Herlogsson worked to a crescendo in the song with his own fretwork. One of the best efforts I've heard from Not Without Grace, "Old Man" is one of the must-hear tracks from their new list of releases.
Yet all three of those tracks are at least a couple months old, and Not Without Grace aren't staying idle for a moment. A couple weeks ago, they released "What I've Done," a track that is beautiful in its composition and masterful in its execution. Linnéa Herlogsson's voice is angelic and soft over the simple beat and rhythm on the cymbals. Every time I hear this girl sing, I wonder how she can hit those impossible notes, and then just lose myself in the brilliance of her vocal abilities. Yet the guitar work on this song also stands out in bold ways. Franzén's notes are transcendent and philosophical, painting pictures before my eyes as Alexander Herlogsson keeps things moving with his chords and riffs. The ways that Franzén and Alexander Herlogsson compliment each other in their playing is something that NWG as a whole definitely benefits from. An amazing track in every aspect, "What I've Done" is NWG"s way of proving that they have what it takes to be taken seriously as musicians and performers.
Even "What I've Done," though, isn't the most recent of NWG's releases. Uploaded just about a week ago, "Break" is a new sort of Not Without Grace song that I'm bristling with excitement for. A little darker than the songs that I've heard from Not Without Grace before, "Break" goes down to the deepest depths of human emotion and releases a musical explosion in the brightest of technicolors. Linnéa Herlogsson's voice is pensive almost as she sings the verses, but when she gets to the chorus, it blasts forward and with a rush, I'm taken away completely. The guitar work here by Christoffer Franzén and Alexander Herlogsson is impressive in ways that give me chills: to me, it's like these two guys have taken simple guitar chords and notes, and placed them in such a way that they seem to be coming from a whole army of guitarists. When I sit back and realize that there are only two guitarists playing here, I'm floored, as it sounds like there are guitarists all around me propping up the exceptional vocals of Linnéa Herlogsson. The semi-dark undertones of "Break" procure for Not Without Grace yet another key that I am doubly sure will unlock bigger things for them. In ways that are most commendable, Not Without Grace create a most unforgettable song in "Break," and one that will be on permanent rotation for me for at least the next four months. The bottom line here? These new songs are must-hear tracks, as they open up the Not Without Grace to new directions for their legacy, and I'm even more excited now to see what they come out with next. Brilliant composure, brilliant quality, brilliant execution. Just brilliant.

Key Tracks: "What I've Done," "Break," "Say It," "Old Man"           

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