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?!

Popular Posts