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  

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