Tuesday, July 17, 2012

List for the Insomniac

July  17, 2012  --  12:29 A.M.

1. Backbone - June Divided
2. Chameleon - Fools For Rowan
3. We're Animals - Those Mockingbirds
4. Save Yourself - Adora
5. Dancing in a Rainstorm - Ratham Stone
6. Run Right Now - Tigerface
7. Heart Attack - Cosmoscope
8. Get Big - The Telephones
9. Tobin - Flightless Buttress
10. Never Surrender - WeSurrender

Friday, July 13, 2012

Breaking Backbones with June Divided

Since June Divided released their debut EP The Other Side of You in February 2011, things for the Philadelphia quartet have been a nonstop whirlwind of activity. Riding the success of songs like "If You Were Here" and "Breathless," and in particular the EP's lead single "Bullet," these alternative rockers are redefining the depths of their sound that straddles the space between Paramore and Jimmy Eat World. True, the Paramore comparison is an inevitable reality since Melissa Menago's vocals exhibit the same power as Hayley Williams', yet the band's true influences (by their own words), like Jimmy Eat World, Thrice and Foo Fighters speak volumes more than any surface comparison can. In addition to The Other Side of You, the music video for "Bullet" was an undeniable triumph for the group, and elevated the single to a whole new level. The concept for the video owes to a new-age horror flick with the filming as something that the band can be immensely proud of.

But today isn't about June Divided's first EP; it's about their first full-length album, Backbone, that dropped earlier this week on July 10, 2012. Taking what they did with producer Alec Henninger on The Other Side of You and amping it up to a whole new plateau, June Divided (working with Henninger again) find themselves exploring a vast new territory with tinglingly exciting possibilities. Though not a part of the music itself (and a seemingly lost art), it is worth noting the artwork for the album: simple, powerful and memorable, the album's cover adds to an already exciting feeling that's coursing through my veins as I hit play on the first track.
The first song I hear from the album, however, is not the opening track (which is the song "Waves"). Instead, I (along with everyone else who's been following the band on Facebook) was treated to the album's lead single "Secrets" upon its release a few weeks ago, and from second one, the song is completely unforgettable. The driving guitar chords set down by Melissa Menago and Chris Kissel tear through my speakers at lightning speed, and the powerhouse rhythm section of Keith Gill and Lenny Sasso blasts down anything that might be left standing. As the intro quickly fades and bleeds into a pulsating verse, Menago's vocals climb up over and cut through the air like a hot knife through butter. Gill's drumming is especially on point and the fills and rolls that come crashing down make for an exceptional end result: a track that thunders with power enough to match the attitude that it drips with. Clearly an excellent choice for the album's lead single, "Secrets" ensures that June Divided won't stay secret for long.
One thing that Backbone certainly has going for it is a track listing full of must-hears. Case in point is its title track which is an immediate classic in the band's catalogue. Kissel's guitar riff is addictive and rips with hellbent intensity through my ears, vibrating through the roaring peaks set up by Sasso's pounding basslines. Menago nails the vocals perfectly, and proves once again that June Divided is no ripoff band: these guys have their own groove and own the hell out of it. With Kissel's notes resonating in the foreground, Gill's drums carve out the bombastic cliffs that Menago's vocals do swan-dives off of. Not an outlier by any means, "Backbone" would certainly be my choice for the album's second single if I had any say at all, and is currently receiving the airplay it deserves on my show Underground Takeover.
Including other five-star tracks like" Waves," Skin and Bones," "Drive," and "Yellow House," Backbone is a smash success of a first album for June Divided. Combining explosive rhythms with clever and poetic songwriting, the Philadelphia quartet craft an instant classic for alternative fans in the new decade. (Seriously, it's no wonder these guys landed a bunch of dates on the 2012 Warped Tour). Resilient and powerful, Backbone will now act as a spine for all future June Divided works to grow from. Bottom line? You have to listen to this album: now.

Key Tracks from Backbone: "Secrets," "Backbone," "Waves," "Skin and Bones," "Yellow House"  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On the Other Side of Bullets with June Divided

It's been a while since I gave you guys a brash and powerful female-fronted group to sink your teeth into, but that all changes today. I've been listening to this band for months now, and they've been on regular rotation on my radio show Underground Takeover since this winter passed. Drawing influences from bands such as Jimmy Eat World and Explosions in the Sky, June Divided is a hard rocking quartet from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania whose sound is a mix of energetic vocals and meditative instrumentation.

June Divided

Comprising members Melissa Menago (lead vocals and guitar), Chris Kissel (lead guitar), Lenny Sasso (bass), and Keith Gill (drums), June Divided dropped an explosive recording with their EP The Other Side of You in early 2011. Bombastic in its execution and powerful in its unflinching grip, The Other Side of You blew me away from the moment I started listening to it. It's a mix of soaring vocals tiptoeing on razor-sharp guitar riffs and balanced out with powerful rhythmic pulses.
The first song from the EP that grabs hold of me is also the EP's lead single: "Bullet." Accompanied by a devastatingly powerful music video, "Bullet" is immediately unforgettable in the opening sequence of drums and guitar notes. Kissel's guitar riff is contagious and addictive, and when Gill starts counting in on the high-hats (and then on the bass and snare drums), it's all over and I'm hooked. As Menago's sultry vocals begin a jagged cut through the instrumentation, the slice comes to splitting fruition as in the last line of the verse she belts it out high and far. With Kissel's guitar building over itself again and again, it all comes crashing down in the second that Sasso's basslines rip the ground apart, and with Menago's vocals climbing higher, the chorus of this song is as brilliantly crafted as any I've heard. It's no accident that this is the song that June Divided chose to be their leadoff single for the EP. One of my favorite things in the song is Gill's drumming, and I don't think I can give enough praise to this rhythm section; Gill and Sasso lock tightly to provide a thud-boom-crash dynamic that is certainly not lost on anyone who pays attention to it. With Menago adding rhythmic chords to Kissel's beautifully simple fretwork, the guitar section of the song is rough and rugged in all the right places, and smoothed over with a nice little hint of polish by Menago's heady vocals. If the song itself isn't enough for you (and it damn sure isn't for me, because every time I hear it I want more), then the music video that June Divided released for the track has gotta be. Portraying the band in simple performance scenes as well as an interesting story line, the music video for "Bullet" is for fuel for the fire. Like the title suggests, the body of "Bullet" is simple, powerful and unforgettable. Definitely the first must-hear song off The Other Side of You.  

At just under four minutes, "Bullet" is also shorter than some of the other songs on the EP. The opening track, "If You Were Here" clocks in at five minutes and spends every one of the making a case for June Divided. The opening riff that Kissel provides definitely has a '90s flavor to it, almost with that same sort of alternative rock feel that I loved when I first heard Counting Crows or Jimmy Eat World. But things get really 21st century really fast: Menago's vocals saunter in like it's the most casual thing in the world, and moving from the light taps he's been adding to the high-hats, Gill begins a choreographed dance with Kissel, trading powerful beats for hard-edged chords. Sasso sits back a little, content to drive the rhythm just under the surface, but the song would already be lost without his lines. One of the things that I love about "If You Were Here" is that it's not too over the top: Menago goes to town on the choruses and the stop-start rhythm of the guitar chords lends to a post-'90s dynamic. Yet it's not overdone, not too lost in itself, and still the track emerges from the tunnel strong and vital, like the sound of light just after a storm. The bridge of the song is not anything too ambient or experimental, but for that reason exactly I'm not lost in trying to follow it. A solid track to open what promises to be a great EP, "If You Were Here" showcases only a little of what June Divided are capable of.
One of the clear stand-out tracks on the EP must be the title track. "The Other Side of You" has a blasting rhythm that is like a shot of adrenaline in the night. The guitar chords are hypnotic and the vocals slice like a knife through hot butter, with melody that bleeds through every drum beat to every inch of the track. On "The Other Side of You," June Divided experiment with song dynamics that seem to be a slight departure from those on "If You Were Here" and "Bullet," but they only do so making sure they absolutely nail the final result. I know that a lot of people are going to label Menago's vocals as being Paramore-esque, and while her range and power are slightly reminiscent of Hayley Williams, her style is all her own. This band is certainly no Paramore knockoff, and on "The Other Side of You" nothing could be clearer.

Six songs strong, The Other Side of You is a brash and brilliant first step for the Pennsylvania band. But that's not all these guys are capable of, and certainly not all they're doing. Released just a week or so ago, June Divided let loose the first track from their forthcoming album Backbone, titled "Secrets." If this song is any indication of what I can expect on the full album's completed version, then I can't wait to hear the finished product.
With power and attitude enough for a mountain of bands, June Divided takes cues from bands like Jimmy Eat World and expands on what they set out to do. Nothing about this band is half-assed, and The Other Side of You is certainly one of my picks for a favorite EP, especially in the last few months. Backbone is sure to be this band's breakout success, but don't be fooled: The Other Side of You is where everything started, and if you're looking for an EP that will make your ears thank you, this is it.

Sounds Like: Jimmy Eat World, Paramore, Explosions in the Sky

Key Tracks from The Other Side of You: "Bullet," "The Other Side of You," "If You Were Here," "Perfect Storm"

Check out June Divided more at: their Homepage, Facebook, and Myspace 

Monday, June 4, 2012

List for the Insomniac

June 4, 2012 -- 1:15 A.M.

1. My Damage - The Product
2. Private Hell - Howling Dollhouse
3. Dancing in a Rainstorm - Ratham Stone
4. Jennifer - Orpheus
5. Mercy - Sumo Cyco
6. I Can Be Your Man - BrokenRail
7. What This World Owes - The Breakpoint Method
8. Ain't Dead Yet - Delta Rose
9. End of the World - Deap Vally
10. Run Right Now - Tigerface

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Diamond Eye to Record Debut Full-Length This Summer

Yes, it's been a couple weeks since I had a brand new post for you guys, so I apologize that final exams are sucking the life out of me. But I do have a quick tidbit of sick news that will make up for everything.

Diamond Eye

NRN43 and Underground Takeover veterans Diamond Eye will be traveling to Los Angeles this summer to begin recording their debut full-length album with Grammy Award-winning producer Bob Kulick! Kulick's credentials range from production work the Motörhead (for which they won a Grammy in 2004), Dee Snider, Alice Cooper, KISS and more. I can't wait to hear what comes from these sessions. The Diamond Eye demo that I got my hands on a couple of years ago was certainly a promising start for this Australian powerhouse. Followed by the live DVD/CD Alive and Kicking, and more recently by the EP Sound of the Guns, the Diamond Eye demo, was my first peek into this band's inner core. Brace yourselves for a bombastic, octane-driven teleportation back to the glory days of metal. Diamond Eye are coming, there's no stopping these guys now!

Friday, April 13, 2012

List for the Insomniac

April 13, 2012 -- 12:03 A.M.

1. The Afterparty - Fight the Fear
2. Never Back Down - Manic Bloom
3. Never Look Back - Darling Parade
4. Snake Skin - The Life Review
5. Asphyxiate - Cold Black
6. Ocean - Neverblue
7. Bullet - June Divided
8. Loser - 3 Pill Morning
9. My Escape - BrokenRail
10. Chameleon - Pixikill

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Getting Pathological with Waking Elliot

It's been a little while since I gave you guys a great record review, but no worries, I have a lot coming up! Today is one of those days, and I'm sure that this will have been worth the wait. I've been listening to this EP for the last couple months and have been liking it more and more with every subsequent listen.
Formed in late 2009, Waking Elliot is a Connecticut-based five-piece that are pushing the boundaries of female-fronted alternative rock in the best of way. I got my hands on the band's EP Simply Pathological, and have been obsessed with the sound that's coming through the speakers. Comprising members Mary Carson (lead vocals), Allyson Brown (keyboard and vocals), Evan Forstrom (guitar), Kevin Bieler (bass), and Rob Jeffrey (drums), Waking Elliot's sound is a mix of Paramore-style vocals with the a more Meg & Dia musically alternative approach. One of the things I love best about the EP from the start is the artwork. Perhaps that doesn't really fit in with a music review, but anyone who knows anything about the music industry knows that a snazzy-looking cover and artwork certainly help a band to define its persona, and in that respect, Waking Elliot certainly understand the basic tenant of eye-catching artwork.

Waking Elliot; From left: Forstrom, Brown, Carson, Bieler, and Jeffrey 

But you guys came here to hear about the music, so here we go. Simply Pathological is rife with edgy guitar riffs married to slick and sexy vocals, dumped over rolling rhythms and sing-along choruses. One of my immediate favorite tracks from the EP is "Hide and Seek." The intro riff is brilliantly simple and amazingly addictive. Carson's vocals tip-toe a tightrope between soft and sugary and adrenaline-infused power. Rolling off her tongue like little demons creeping from the depths of a shattered psyche, Carson's lyrics are brilliantly matched by Bieler's bass, and as Forstrom shoots up the song with high-octane notes and dragging palm-mutes, a sense of hyper-paranoia descends, and this track is just incredible. The interlude of the song brings the rise of Brown's keys, eery in the twilight against the backdrop of Jeffrey's high-hat taps. The energy is hair-bristling, and as the interlude ends in a crescendo of power and pleasure, Forstrom takes off in a solo that is as neurotic as it is searingly catchy. Blending high above with Carson's vocals, Forstrom and gang crash down, and with the sudden ending in silence, I'm left breathless in the dark, like a patient in a sanitarium. "Hide and Seek" is a 2:45 minute triumph for Waking Elliot, and if this was the only song I heard, it would still be enough to blow me away.

Waking Elliot's EP, Simply Pathological

But Waking Elliot are far from done. "One-Two" is the lead-off track on the EP, and from the start, Carson's voice and Brown's keys make for an epic intro. Like a dim-set street scene, I can see the fog rising as Carson is joined vocally by Brown as Bieler and Forstrom take their cue from Jeffrey's snare taps and work their way into the black satin-laced track. Forstrom's guitar chords grow in intensity with each passing chorus, and at the moment that Carson and Brown take a second to breathe, he lets loose with a mini-solo that skips along Bieler's bass-blasts to land smoothly in Jeffrey's snare-cracks. The loud-quiet-loud dynamic is a clear Pixies throwback, and adds to the overall power of the song in a way that makes "One-Two" a brilliant choice for the EP's first track. By the end of this epic ballad, I'm dying to hear more, and Waking Elliot have hooked me indefinitely.
My initial favorite track on the EP, though, is also the song I've had on regular rotation on my radio show, Underground Takeover. "Truth or Dare" is brilliant in its simple deception and misdirection. Seconds 1-10 are Carson's vocals laid nicely over Brown's keys and Jeffrey's drumming, and although the rhythm is somewhat fast-paced, nothing prepares me for the hurricane that follows. As Carson's last whispers float from the speakers, Forstrom and Bieler stomp onto the scene with a guitar-bass dynamic that screams passion and power. To add to the drowning effect of the music, Brown joins Carson on vocals, like two sirens surrounding me in the night as Bieler, Forstrom, and Jeffrey come at me from all sides. The best part about this song, though, is the bridge, which bursts at the seams with high-octane fumes and fury. Forstrom lets loose with a blistering riff that drills into my head, and as the tempo picks up, Carson and Brown vocally bring the house down as Bieler keeps pace with Jeffrey's gut-busting rolls. The absolute high-point of the song is when the bottom falls out, and Jeffrey crashes hard on the kit just as Brown and Carson take off to soar vocally overhead. As Carson's voice echoes into oblivion, Forstrom and Brown dance around their intertwining melodies. With Brown's keys draining out, Carson comes down just one more time, fading away on Brown's softening keystrokes.

The last stand-out track on Simply Pathological is also Waking Elliot's music video debut. "Second Star to the Right" is the ballad on the EP, and is certainly a change-up compared to "Charade" or "Truth or Dare." Starting with a mellow and resigned guitar riff from Forstrom and piano progression from Brown, "Second Star to the Right" builds from the first chorus into an epic track, buoyed by Carson's broad vocal range and the rhythm team of Bieler and Jeffrey. I'll be the first to say that this track was one that took me a few rotations to appreciate, but I hit a point where I was struck by the ethereal quality of the intermingled vocals between Carson and Brown set against the heavy-yet-melodic instrumentation of Bieler, Forstrom, and Jeffrey. A heavy ballad that finishes the EP in the best of ways, I can now understand why Waking Elliot chose this as the track for their debut music video. It doesn't fall into the category of the catchy 3-minute single for the first music video; instead it's heavy, epic, and as Carson's voice cuts through Forstrom's palm-mutes and Brown's keywork, "Second Star to the Right" is the best way for Waking Elliot to show all sides of their sound.
Just as comfortable in heavy romantic songs as in cropped and clever tracks, Waking Elliot are not a band to be ignored, and as the last of Brown's keys fade on the EP, I'm left dazed and wanting more. There's no feeling better than that for any music journalist, and there's just no better way for a band to finish a recording. At just over 20 minutes, Simply Pathological is a must-hear EP for anyone looking for the next alternative sensation gracing the music underground. I can't wait to see what Waking Elliot come up with next, because with the ability and potential this group shows, they won't be underground for much longer.

Sounds Like: Paramore, Meg & Dia, Evanescence, Hey Monday

Key Tracks from Simply Pathological: "Truth or Dare," "Hide and Seek," "One-Two," "Charade"

Check out Waking Elliot more at their: Homepage, Facebook, and Myspace  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

List for the Insomniac

March 24, 2010 -- 12:30 A.M.

1. The Swing - Fight the Fear
2. She Ain't Pretty - Eliza and The Strange
3. Without My Wings - Andy Gruhin
4. Schizophrenic Me - WeSurrender
5. My Escape - BrokenRail
6. Let Go - The Tempest
7. This Town - Don Ryan
8. These Walls - Blonde Bazaar
9. Superhuman - 49 Stones
10. Victory Rose - Aerials

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cracked and Diseased with Eliza and The Strange

Sometimes it takes a lot of leg-work in this business to find the next underground sensation, and sometimes they just fall right into your lap. A lot of the bands that have made it on to NewRockNews43 have been the result of many hours searching for just the right band to next review. Eliza and The Strange, however, were the happiest of accidents that have turned into an obsessive listening binge for the last 72 hours that's almost kept me from any sleep at all. Trolling the random Facebook feeds that pop up in front of me daily, I was intrigued by a few words detailing a new "voodoo-rock" band from Nova Scotia. That intrigue has turned into an obsession and a new top-five band in my head.

Eliza and The Strange

Eliza and The Strange are a creepy voodoo-rock five-piece from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada that sound like darkness and exude a sexy deviance I can't help but find myself attracted to. Composed of Eliza White (lead vocals and organ), Alex MacAskill (guitar), Ian Bennett (guitar), Jake Seaward (bass), and Kenny Myers (drums), Eliza and The Strange strangle from their instruments a hair-raising groove that would find home in any Tim Burton or Johnny Depp film. At just over 30 minutes long, their self-titled debut release (which just came out this past Friday!) drips in sex, fury, dirt, and grit, and oozes from the speakers with the same kind of intoxicating rhythms that made songs like "Queer" and "Vixen" super-sized hits for Garbage.

Eliza and The Strange's self-titled debut album

One of the hardest things to do with this album is to find just the right songs to go into detail on, because there are simply too many good ones to choose from. "Lady of the Night" is bass-led by Seaward and showcases White's deceptively sexy vocals. The guitar riff and chords laid down by MacAskill are simple and catchy, and set against Myers' cymbal crashes, perfectly encapsulate the feeling of straight power behind White's breathy vocals (though Bennett is new to the group and does not play on the majority of the album, he does play on the album's final track, "They've Got Secrets").
Yet my favorite track form the minute I hear it is track number two, "She Ain't Pretty." From second one, MacAskill's guitar riffs are addictive, and as they disappear behind Seaward's basslines and Myers' dimming during the verses, the blast/disappear form that details the song's structure is a beautifully clear and brilliant tribute to the Pixies' loud-quiet-loud dynamic. The rhythms in the song are contagious, and at just over 2 minutes, "She Ain't Pretty" is a blitzkrieg assault on my senses, tearing me apart one minute and gone the next. White's vocals are sultry and seductive during the verses, but blast forward as the chorus comes, and mixed with her dirty organ notes, the gritty guitar chords and minimalist drumming, I'm reminded of a Mudhoney-meets-Garbage mashup. With a lead-single track like this, it's no wonder that Eliza and The Strange chose "She Ain't Pretty" as the song for their first music video. Shot in an eerie black and white and washed out purple, the music video for "She Ain't Pretty" is one mindfuck after another in the best of ways. Scenes of the band tearing it up live intermingle with shots of a girl dancing and walking through a cemetery. White and company revel in the dirt and grit that they pull from their instruments, and watching them play live is like watching a building engulfed in flames: almost too scary to watch, but so ethereal and transcendent that you can't look away. Beautifully scary and wonderfully creepy, "She Ain't Pretty" is a five-star track and smash single if there ever was one. Bringing together Dead Weather-style vocals and White Stripes-influenced fretwork, Eliza and The Strange make this song an instant classic. To add fuel to the already blazing fire, MacAskill brings the whole house of cards crashing down at the end, letting loose on a blistering guitar riff and solo that tops out chaos-driven drumming and bombshell-basslines. If you listen to only one track from this album, "She Ain't Pretty" has to be it.

To continue their voodoo-rock groove, Eliza and The Strange come back a few minutes later with "White Lies," a riff-driven song that builds on itself with effects and rhythm that make it unforgettable. Wet with sweat and grime, "White Lies" is everything that's great about rock 'n' roll and going to a small, hole-in-the-wall club to see an amazing band. I can feel myself being jostled and jilted between the other sweaty concert goers, and any song that can bring that to me as I sit writing at a computer has an innate intense power that makes it more than just a diamond in the rough. MacAskill's bouncy guitar rhythm is rough around the edges and helped along by Myers' simplistic yet decisive drumming. White's organ creeps onto the scene with muddy blues notes, and twinkles dimly in the night just over MacAskill's nimble fretwork. With distortion and feedback enough for ten guitars, MacAskill sets "White Lies" apart from the rest with a subtle conniption of attitude that speaks to the versatility and power behind the track. Yet "White Lies" also plays host to a brilliantly disguised rhythm change, and with the stop/start dynamic of the song and White's hypnotic vocals to sway to, I'm lost in a dark vortex of purpled-black.
"They've Got Secrets" is not only the last track on Eliza and The Strange's album, but it's also the longest. I love the slow, droning bassline, the laid-back drum beat and vocal set that reek of blues-rock heritage and attitude. The two minutes in White goes full-throttle on her organ as Seaward and Myers share energy on the rhythm section just below MacAskill's heavy riffs. Bennett, who makes his recording debut with the band on this track, is quick to keep up with MacAskill, injecting his own brand of adrenaline into the brittle skeleton of the song. The only way to describe this song is as darkness incarnate amped up to an epic level and laced with seductive hypnotism. The best way to close out the album, and certainly a track that leaves me wanting more, "They've Got Secrets" is a brash whirlwind of distorted guitars and blood-curdling wails.
The fact that this is the debut album says something to me about this band. Eliza and The Strange are full-throttle all the way through all 30 minutes of this recording, and with these ten songs under their belts, the hair on the back of my necks stands up at the thought of what else these guys could be capable of. The combination of minimalist rhythms and eerily seductive vocals is a winning idea, and on their self-titled debut, Eliza and The Strange take the idea to its most triumphant heights. The only thing that's strange about this band is that they don't already have a major following of thousands. No doubt that when people start listening to this album in addition to the music video, big things will start to happen for Eliza and The Strange. I can't wait to see what this band comes up with next, because I know in my bones it's going to be something reveling in voodoo-rock and unbelievably addictive.

Sounds Like: The White Stripes, The Dead Weather, Garbage, The Kills

Key Tracks from Eliza and The Strange: "She Ain't Pretty," "Crack," "White Lies," "Disease," "Lady of the Night," "They've Got Secrets"

Check out Eliza and The Strange more at their: Homepage, Facebook and Myspace  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Andy Gruhin Inks Deal with Sony/ATV

I'm stoked today to bring you guys some news that will knock you fucking over. Andy Gruhin has been a presence on NewRockNews43 since 2010, just after I started writing. He's one of the first artists I discovered, and one whose career I have followed through his two releases, and now up to the amazing news he announced at the start of this week. Gruhin went on record with me a day ago, saying that he has just concluded talks with and signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV.

Andy Gruhin

Gruhin released his first EP, World Out There, in the summer of 2010. The recording was the result of just four days in the studio (almost unheard of for the sort of production it boasts), and featured full-band versions of the title track, "Higher," "Little Piece of Summer," "Short and Beautiful," and the epic track (and Gruhin's own self-described anthem), "Sore Losers." The EP also included as a special bonus track a diamond-in-the-rough song that had been my favorite Gruhin track since I was lucky enough to hear a skeletal version of it about a year prior. The acoustically stripped-down track "Without My Wings" was (as far as I was concerned) a sign of things to come. While "World Out There" and "Higher" boasted high-octane guitar riffs and addictive drum fills, "Without My Wings" showcased a different side of Gruhin's artistic abilities. The guitar riff was simple, yet what drew me in form the first finger-pluck were the lyrics; "Lack of liquor broke my heart with a thud" are words every lover can relate to as they pen a retrospective love song, pouring over the letters that were sent and received months ago. And as the chorus is reached and crescendos, the piano and female backup vocals give the track an ethereal quality that makes it an unforgettable song, and one of Gruhin's best pieces, acoustic or otherwise. But the acoustic version was only the beginning for this song.

Andy Gruhin's first EP, World Out There

In the summer of 2011, Gruhin followed up World Out There with Let the Darkness Grow!, an EP so unapologetically brash and edgy that it stands out in ways other artists wish they could achieve. On the new EP were a slew of new songs, but I was immediately drawn to a rerecorded full-band version of "Without My Wings." I wasn't disappointed. I was blown back from second one as Gruhin's guitar exploded from the speakers, and his new anthemic vocals replaced the breathy whispers of the acoustic version. To join the new vocal arrangements and energy was a blasting rhythm section, and a note progression that Gruhin inserted just after the second verse, the latter of which still sends chills down my spine. My pick for the lead-single of the EP, "Without My Wings" has been on constant rotation on my college radio show Underground Takeover, and regularly draws thousands of listeners every week looking for new underground music. Along with the newly recorded version of "Without My Wings" were the high-energy tracks "The Fairest," "Wasted Words," "Under My Skin," and the power balled "I'll Follow You," as well as the title track. If World Out There was a solid hit for Gruhin, on Let the Darkness Grow! Gruhin hit it out of the park.

Andy Gruhin's second EP, Let the Darkness Grow! 

Yet as brilliant as the first two EP's were, during our last conversation, Gruhin let drop the comment that, "the material I'm writing now will make the first EP's look like shit." On the eve of inking a publishing contract with Sony/ATV, Gruhin stated that the new material he's working on will make the long wait worth it. "The first EP was only four days in the studio," Gruhin said, "and the second was only about seven. For the next recording, I hope to be able to spend more time so that I can really get the best versions of my songs on it. I'm also looking to do a music video, so I'm trying to see about that as well."
Gruhin has clearly made a full leap forward, but I still can't wait to see what happens next for him. From Gruhin I heard that new material is certainly in the works, and that he'll be working on sharpening his writing skills so that his next release will be his best yet. I have an interview with Gruhin in the works, so keep checking back, because you don't want to miss any of this! I knew it was only a matter of time until Andy Gruhin blew up, and NewRockNews43 is going to be there every step of the way as he takes off. In Gruhin's own words, the feeling behind the new opportunities on the horizon is simple: "I'm just excited to have this opportunity and I'm ready to show the world what I can do." 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The 2011 Pydromania Awards Are In!!

You guys out there voted, and made your choices known. All the artists did amazing jobs raising votes, and just to let you know just how amazing all their efforts were, the hit count for NewRockNews43 jumped more than 7,000 hits in a matter of weeks! Though a little belated, the Pydromania winners are here finally! (And the reason for the slight wait? Not only new results, but brand new promos from a couple of the artists too!)  From around the world, you guys all checked in and made sure that the artists you wanted walked away with the bragging rights of being the "Best of's" for another year. So without any further delay (as if you guys couldn't see the results yourself anyway haha), here are the 2011 Pydromania winners!! They are:

For 2011's Best Hard-Rock/Metal Artist:

Reapers Riddle

For 2011's Best Pop/Rock Artist:

Andy Gruhin

For 2011's Best Pop-Punk/Punk Artist:

Voted Most Random

For 2011's Best Electronic/Alternative Artist:

The Orkids

For 2011's Best Alternative-Rock Artist:

Fools For Rowan

Thank you to all the artists and fans who participated! This was an awesome contest, and you will definitely be hearing these groups getting massive airplay on my radio show, Underground Takeover! Who can't wait till next year, ha?!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Short Break

Hey guys, sorry for the absence lately. Midterms have rolled around for me, but fear not: I'll be back in a couple weeks with some great new bands, more lists, and some awesome interviews! Stay tuned!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

List for the Insomniac

February 3, 2012 -- 1:10 A.M.

1. Insanity - BrokenRail
2. Who I Am... - Avion Roe
3. Burnt Around the Edges - Fools For Rowan
4. Wait for the Sunrise - The Body Politic
5. Legend - Almost Kings
6. Bells Are Ringing - Darling Parade
7. Coast to Coast - Those Mockingbirds
8. Revolution - Mr. Mayhem
9. Break - Arbor Lights
10. This Town - Don Ryan

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Almost Kings to Play the 2012 Grammy Awards

Almost Kings

You discovered them here first, and now Almost Kings is blowing up like a nuclear warhead and playing their first show of the year at the 2012 Grammy Awards!! The Marietta, GA quartet, which features axe-murderer lead-guitarist Ryan Yunker, hurricane-blast bassist Danny Helms, human beat-machine drummer Kevin Compton, and slick rhyme-schemer and lead vocalist/MC Bryan "Boze" Bozeman, beat out 916 other artists from around the country to nab the first place spot in the national contest. Mixing crunching guitar and soul-shattering rhythm with hook-filled hip-hop vocals, Almost Kings are more than just a club favorite in the Atlanta area: they're the next step in the rap-rock hybrid vein that made bands like Rage Against the Machine, Primus and Linkin Park international names.

Almost Kings' debut album: Filthy Nice

With their tearing rhythms and energy-filled choruses, Almost Kings have been a staple on my radio show Underground Takeover since its inception last year. Their song “Unstoppable” is the unofficial wrap-up, and with other songs like “Legend” and “Pornstar” on their debut album Filthy Nice, Almost Kings create a sound that is entirely impossible for people to ignore. I knew it was just a matter of time until these guys blew up, and now the whole country will know just what kind of hard-rock energy has been building just below the surface on the hot streets of Atlanta.

Boze’s vocals are slick, little whispers just before the roars come and rip the roof off of whatever club they’re playing at the time. His raps are smooth and beat-driven, and mashed against the bass-blasts that Danny Helms comes down with, there’s no way anyone in the audience is standing still. Ryan Yunker’s blistering guitar solos climb over the crunching feedback to drill through the ears of everyone jumping at this point, and bolstered by Kevin Compton’s gut-busting back-beats, the rhythm section of Almost Kings is so closely tied with the melody and energy that the finished product is incredible.

Clearly an example of a band getting their just desserts, Almost Kings are sure to blow the roof off the Grammy Awards next month. There are new Kings in town, and they’re simply unstoppable.       

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Spectator at the Darling Parade

One thing about this job that gets easier and easier the more I do it is how seamless the discovery of a new group translates into a detailed article. Even with the writer's block every journalist gets sometimes, I can't stay away too long, as these artists and many more just keep pulling me in to their incredible music.
Case in point is today's story, Darling Parade. A four-piece prophecy of things to come, Darling Parade is a cunning mix of power-pop sheen melted over alternative-punk attitude and rhythm. The anthemic sing-along choruses Darling Parade weave between their stop-start verses create a track-list that simmers with new melodies driven over classic pop dynamics.
A tight-knit group from Nashville- Tennessee consisting of Kristin Kearns (lead vocals and guitar), Adam Hatfield (lead guitar), Nate McCoy (bass), and Casey Conrad (drums), Darling Parade take the melody and anthemic song structure of Avril Lavigne and lay it over the punk ethic of Paramore to create a slew of songs that sound as fresh as ever and blow me away.

Darling Parade; From left: Adam Hatfield, Kristin Kearns, Nate McCoy, and Casey Conrad

I discovered the Darlings a few months ago, and the reason I waited to tell you guys all about them is because why get the lowdown on one record when you can get it on three? The Darlings just released their most recent EP, Until We Say It's Over, just over a month ago around Thanksgiving, and it's a sick addition to the already burgeoning DP catalogue. One of my favorite songs from any of Darling Parade's recordings is the first song I heard by them, "Bells Are Ringing" from their self-titled debut. In its corner, "Bells Are Ringing" has a melody that kicks ass bred against a background of rhythmic guitars and drums. From its inception, "Bells Are Ringing" finds a home deep inside of Kearns' soaring vocals which hover somewhere in between Avril Lavigne and Paramore. Carving out her own little vocal niche for Darling Parade, Kearns leads the rest of the band fearlessly into battle as Conrad wrestles with his drums to blast for the most powerful rhythm he can muster from the skins. Tightly wound around McCoy's heartbeat basslines (that drive the verses of this song in an unforgettable way), Conrad's drums prove that a drummer, too, can create his own sound, if you're listening for it. Hatfield's fretwork is something that continues to intrigue me throughout the entirety of the song. Pick-slides and finger-trembles that pop out in the most unexpected of places, Hatfield finds a way to take a song that was already Top Ten material and make it even more so. If "Bells Are Ringing" doesn't hook you the first time you hear it, I will be utterly surprised. The keywork, too, provided by both Kearns and McCoy, takes the track to new heights with power and melody that I can't help but fall into. This song is everything that's right with the music coming out now. A great anthemic message wrapped up in the shiny wrapping paper of melody and pop-polish, I can't imagine what more the Darlings could do right.     

Darling Parade's debut: Darling Parade

Also from Darling Parade jumps "Far Away," a song that fights with the former to assert its dominance over the EP. Built on McCoy's blistering basslines, the vocal work by Kearns is some of her best. Hatfield's guitar riffs are the essence of the word "epic," and as his palm-mutes back up McCoy's distorted basslines on the verses, there is already something different about this track. Conrad's drums add to the epic feel of the track as they crash in a crescendo of rhythmic bliss over Hatfield's chords while Kearns is high above, a vocal angel with a certain type of edge. With "Far Away" and "Bells Are Ringing" on the same record, the Darlings prove that they have a candle to burn in the hard-rock parade.

One of the best things about Darling Parade is that they seem to come out with a new EP almost as quickly as I can go out and get them. Just before their release of their most effort, Until We Say It's Over, the Darlings released the EP What You Want, featuring such hit songs as "Take This City" and "What You Want," as well as the blistering self-contained single, "Perfectly Worthless" (which has seen substantial radio play on my own radio show, Underground Takeover). 

Darling Parade's newest EP: Until We Say It's Over

Yet even with Darling ParadeWhat You Want, and the "Perfectly Worthless" single under their belts, the Darlings are still not satisfied. So just over a month ago came their most recent triumph, Until We Say It's Over. I've listened to this album over and over (and it's also worked its way into my radio show playlists in a big way), and there is just no way to not love this record. The lead-off single (which comes along with a great music video) is "Never Wrong," a song that will have you singing even before you know it. Kearns' voice is hypnotic and Conrad's drums are rhythmic pulses of life as Hatfield's guitar chords blast through in technicolor force when the chorus begins. Clearly my favorite track on the new EP, "Never Wrong" is an instant classic in the DP catalogue. The high resonance of Hatfield's guitar bleeds seamlessly over McCoy's basslines, and like heartbeats in the darkness, Darling Parade's rhythms are so contagious, there's no way not to love this band. Among other five-star tracks like "Long Way Back" and "Remember" (which features guest vocals from Stephen Christian of Anberlin), "Never Wrong" is another grand slam for Darling Parade.
With the potential to be one of the greatest new bands of the 2012 musical year, Darling Parade burst onto a scene that will surely welcome them with open arms. A tuneful spirit signaling the renewal of true rock n' roll, Darling Parade soar in on the silk-tipped leather wings of true alternative rock. If one band makes it onto your playlist this year, this one has got to be it. The Darlings have arrived, and with them my renewed faith in the power of true melodic rock.

Sounds Like: Paramore, Avril Lavigne, Letters to Cleo

Key Tracks from Darling Parade: "Bells Are Ringing," "Far Away," "Never Fall Down"
                   from What You Want: "Take This City," "What You Want"
                   from Until We Say It's Over: "Never Wrong," "Long Way Back," "Remember"
                   Singles: "Perfectly Worthless"

Check out Darling Parade more at their: Homepage and Facebook  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

List for the Insomniac

January 21, 2012 -- 12:45 A.M.

1. Here We Go - One Step Away
2. Who I Am... - Avion Roe
3. The Swing - Fight the Fear
4. Pick Up the Phone - Chasing Morgan
5. Don't Ask for the Moon, We Have the Stars - Radio Rescue
6. Rain - All I Know
7. Closure - LOVELOUD
8. Secret Handshake - Freak Morice
9. Revolution - Mr. Mayhem
10. Phoenix - Aerials

Thursday, January 12, 2012

List for the Insomniac

January 12, 2012 -- 12:50 A.M.

1. Who I Am... - Avion Roe
2. What We Are - The Material
3. The Swing - Fight the Fear
4. Lost - Ratham Stone
5. Dream Away - Aerials
6. Secret Handshake - Freak Morice
7. Don't Ask for the Moon, We Have the Stars - Radio Rescue
8. Truth or Dare - Waking Elliot
9. Coast to Coast - Those Mickingbirds
10. Take Me There - Precious Meddle

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fight the Fear Debut New Music Video

Connecticut-based band Fight the Fear just released their new music video for their song "The Swing" yesterday, and what an addictive music video it is! Fight the Fear (who have an in-depth review coming on here very soon!) make use of hypnotic programming and vocals laced intricately over addictive blasts of guitar and bass chords as cymbals crash head-on in this clever music video. I've watched it 50 times already between last night and right now, and I know there are more plays to come. Check this out, it's gonna be your new addiction for at least the next week!!

Also, check out Fight the Fear's first music video "The Fire" here!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tetrarch Release Brand New Promo Video

It's been a couple months since we saw anything new from Tetrarch, but last night that changed. Just a few ours ago, the four-person metal force debuted a new video on Youtube to promote their new single "We Are the Hunters" off their most recent EP, The Will to Fight. The video promo, filmed by Chasing Squirrelz, Inc., and Tetrarch's first official release of 2012, provides some great background information on the band. Viewers will see where Tetrarch started, how they've been transforming over the years, and where they're going to go next, and all of this against the backdrop of some great shots of the band performing their song, "We Are the Hunters." Go check out this new promo guys, it's sick. We're definitely gonna see big things from Tetrarch in 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!!

Hey all, hope you guys had a sick and happy new year!! Congrats to all of the winners of the 2011 Pydromania Awards!! This was so successful, it will definitely be a regular thing every year. Thank you so much to all the artists who participated, and all the fans who voted. The promos of the winners will be posted very soon, so stay tuned, it's gonna be great! I have a bunch of new articles in the works, so in the next month you guys will have lots to talk about and new music to jam to. Keep rockin' guys, 2012 is gonna be a great year!!   

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