The first thing one notices when listening to Battle Scars, the debut EP of Plymouth, England singer/ songwriter Lindsey Dolbear is that her vocals inflect a slight country twang, but that the music itself, which has some country nuances to it, mainly the acoustic guitar, cannot be pinned down as straight country. Dolbear has a great many influences she cites; from Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, to Michael Jackson and Blondie, all the way to Cat Stevens. It seems each one of these influences, however heavy or mild, creeps in and out of the songs on Battle Scars.
The opening track “Overhead” is a fast moving country soaked pop tune that bounces along like a rubber ball down a flight of stairs. Dolebear’s vocals are clear and powerful, though not overpowering. However what makes the song so damn catchy is the electronic loop of mellow keys that flickers in and out. Dolebear slows it down but keeps it country on the toe tapping broken heart mending “15 Days.” Musically it’s a bit of a golf clap, though the lyrics are genuinely clever, which I appreciated. Dolebear sings “15 days and I haven't thought about you/ No I swear you haven't crossed my mind/ No, no, no, no, no/ I guess I won't really know If I'm over you/ Until I see you again.”
The title track “Battle Scars” is a slow guitar-centric ballad, the kind of which is written to sound hopeful as it builds, and repeats its chorus with a heavy focus on the metaphor, which in this case is the “battle scar.” It comes off as most hopeful breakup songs do, which is slightly chintzy and begs for a little more sympathy than it’s worth crediting.
The same goes for the slow and mopey “The Look In Their Eyes,” which is riddled with clichés of the lovelorn, or perhaps the want to be lovelorn. This cliché is then turned to the other side, that of the angry ex who is now trying to make sense of what went wrong and feigning strength even though they are now alone.
Battle Scars is sometimes scarred by its lack of depth. What many musicians often fail to calculate is that there is pain in the world so much greater than their own and that much of it has been well documented in some form or another. The singer/songwriter cannot hide behind the talented musicians in their band. They are at the forefront and so they must have something new and exciting to bring to the table if they expect someone to listen. Lindsey Dolebear has great resource of influences. A stronger studying of what made them so influential may help her next album to sound more like herself.
Bradykynin is a three-piece band from New Jersey comprised of Lew Cofrancesco (vocals/bass), Mike Cairoli (guitar) and Duke Pavlovich (drums) who have been rocking out since 2000. Their recent release Shady Tuesday is a hard-hitting seven song album with plenty of adrenaline.
Shady Tuesday has great production. Something about the sound of the music feels raw but it also happens to sound full and bursting with energy. It’s not always easy for a three-piece band to feel fleshed out but Bradykynin has certainly accomplished that.
They get going with a highlight entitled “Pickle is a Cucumber.” The energy lies somewhere between Queens of the Stone Age and post-punk. I loved the vocals, which kind of oddly reminded me of David Byrne.
Next up is “Madylyne” which is a gorgeous song that is initially sparse and atmospheric. I was reminded of the aesthetics of a band like The Jesus and Mary Chain. Cofrancesco sings “I know you/I know the worry in you/the pain that you feel/is so real.” Once the drums come the melancholy is replaced with a sense of forward moving hope.
The next track “Capgun” has another unique vocal delivery. This time around I thought about Zach de la Rocha from Rage Against The Machine. “Quantum Salvation” is a great instrumental track while “Growler” is a perfect title for another instrumental song that is covered in waves of distortion.
There were times when I wished they went deeper into some of these ideas. It’s hard to pinpoint but I felt like a song like “Madylyne” and “Growler” had potential to be epic. The fact that the vocal delivery sometimes feels drastically different also takes some getting used to. Overall, there is still some very good material on this album but I can’t help but think that their masterpiece still lies somewhere in the future.
Chandler Hoofert, (Lead Vocals/Bass/Guitar) Michael Shular, (Backing Vocals/Guitar) Charlie Horn, (Drums) Tanner Prince (Backing Vocals/Keyboard) are fun, fusion rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio who recently released the Now She's Ready EP. The band members have known each other since middle school and took some time to decide to become a band but some things are worth the wait.
Now She's Ready EP by Inglorious Neighbors is funky and contagious. It brings forth an energy of pure unadulterated fun. The first song "Show Me The Funk" gives you a taste of the band’s cohesion. The main vocalist has a Stevie Wonder like vibe and the band follows closely the high caliber musical taste that is being represented.
Next up, the song “Termination” carries a bit more darkness. Seems like The Black Keys had an influence here. You can feel the rhythm move from the bottom of your soul up and outward. There is an old timey muffled sound to the whole piece. " I walk alone in my head, and for a time I seem dead." This more gritty song still keeps an upbeat tempo.
Drumsticks are quickly rolling as the guitar has sleight licks that infiltrate in and out. “Mary The Madame” starts out with some open-ended guitar fancies. The simplicity of the instrumentation is a story in and of itself with its slow moving proclamations.
There is a lot of room for interpretation and the singer’s gorgeous voice. There is a wide array of space for a solo guitar moment here. "Marry the madame the whispers so scary onto your head." This whole band is really advanced for being in high school. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something with soul to listen to in the wintertime.
Every week we mention a couple of artists that are worth your time to check out that were not featured in our weekly reviews.
Artist Album Rating
Bell Monks Big Bay 3.6
Jacob Almanzar Getaway 3.4
The Funeral Crasher All Systems Woe EP 3.4
Carinae ETA 3.8
Super Sad Super Sad 3.4
Rehn Beat of Heart 3.7
Mr. & Mrs. Garrett Soucy Wayword 3.9
Jacob Hales, Josh Smith and Will Drake are Akiva. The young members who not too long ago graduated high school show pockets of potential on their album A Day Off. Their music is a bit scattered in terms of genre and styles. There are elements of reggae, pop and rock.
Hales has a good voice but you get the impression time and time again he is trying a little too hard to fit the mold of what a guy singing reggae is supposed to sound like. Some of the benefits of that “voice” are that it's usually perceived as cool to the masses. Hales is at his best when he sounds more natural and just singing. The music happens to sound its best when they experiment and deviate from transitions we have heard a million times before.
The album starts off “Subliminal Messages” which most likely will be the most appealing song to a broad demographic but happened to be one of the least original sounding tracks. Hales sounds like Everlast on this song as the guitar work revolves around basic chord progressions and solid lead guitar.
The band has more success on “Sucker Punch.” Hales vocals sound better on this track and he doesn’t sound like he is trying to be too cool. Inadvertently he sounds more appealing and more heartfelt. The music is inventive and catchy. Right before the two- minute mark it breaks into a part that sounds contemporary and original. They should have held it longer before launching back into the chorus.
“Given Me” has some traditional reggae sounds. Hales sounds good on this song and really belts it out on the chorus. The next track “A Day Off” has very strong aspects and other things that didn't work out as well. I wasn’t too into the reggae style rapping towards the beginning but the song gets into experimental territory that sounds great. The song goes off the rails in a good way. As the album progresses the band has more success with “Who needs TV?” and “Dumb.”
Given that the band probably can’t even legally go into a bar they show some skill. A Day Off is a solid start but I expect their style to become more refined as they continue to evolve as a band.
Tula Vera is an indie garage rock band out of Montclair, New Jersey comprised of Calvin Pyle (drums), Claire Parcells (vocals). Dylan Drummond (guitar) and Ian Dillingham (bass). The band formed in early 2015 and by the end of the year released a six song self-titled EP Tula Vera.
The band hasn’t cemented too much of a distinct sound at this point but they do show a good amount of potential. Tula Vera is an indie rock band through and through. The songs are unpretentious fun that is easy to enjoy and appreciate. Take for instance the opener “Sunspot” which contains a surf rock style drumbeat and a catchy vocal melody provided by Parcells. Kudos to the band for picking such an upbeat, energetic song to start things off with.
The next track “Dress To Impress” takes the energy down ever so slightly. It’s another well- written and well delivered song. No one in the band seems to be overcompensating and presents a very well rounded assortment of sounds. As the album progresses the band continues to showcase their talent.
“Time” and “ “Sixfold Screwup” are straightforward indie rock songs but “Human Progress” does have a bluesy swagger to it that mends well with their style. They close with “Lonely's Only” which is hard hitting rock with tinges of classic rock. The guitar solo is well played on this song and Parcells delivers another solid vocal performance.
Tula Vera is in the embryonic stage of their development but are already showing enough skill to continue doing what they are doing. If they continue to evolve and carve out their own sound I can only imagine good things to come for the band.
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Hailing from McAllen, Texas, Michael Morris is a seventeen-year-old artist who recently released Spicewood. Spicewood is an EP that jumps drastically from genre to genre and by doing so doesn’t establish much of a foundation or style for Morris.
The EP certainly is lo-fi and some songs would have unequivocally been more enjoyable if the recording quality and production was a bit better. That being said sometimes you just have to work with what you have.
Morris opens with a melancholy, acoustic song entitled “Let Nature Take Its Course.” The song is well delivered and well-sung but isn’t much more than basic chords progressions and vocals. All things considered I was more impressed with jazzy LA noire sounding “-SCHISM-.” The horns sound atmospheric and sad while the bass holds down the main melody. I would have liked to hear more songs in this style on the EP. It reminded me of something you might hear in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
“Clue” has a funky surf vibe but unfortunately is held back by the subpar recording quality. “Colorful Prism” fares better but sounds like nothing else that came before it. There is an overt hip-hop style to his vocals and the song increases in tempo as it progresses.
It’s another interesting style he may want to consider exploring more. “White Noise” is a well-sung song that has a beach, almost Jack Johnson vibe. The bongos feed in the tranquil quality to the song.
At seventeen-years-old Morris has all the time in the word to define his style which is something he is going to want to do with upcoming releases. If he does that and finds a way to improve the recording quality he should be well on his way.
Guys have a hard time of it, in this world. We're not allowed to show any kind of emotion, in our daily lives, without being branded as weak and whiny. Of course, we then perpetuate the cycle by inflicting those standards on the rest of the world's inhabitants, but that's another story.
Guys are expected to hold everything in, to explode at a later date. In the best case circumstance, dudes save up these emotions to be expelled in a small handful of male-approved activities - usually sports, hunting, or some kind of thrill ride. Basically anything where you get to see people get hurt, watch stuff blow up, and see huge hunks of heavy metal hurtling at concrete at near-astronomical speeds.
Thankfully, music is on the list of acceptable releases, so there's an outlet other than downhill mountain biking or invading small countries. Frankly, I personally don't care much for Not Inpublic's stripped-down arena-style glam metal rock 'n roll, but I will defend their right to play it to the death.
Not Inpublic's debut is not bad, by any stretch of the imagination. First of all, let me lead with my reviewer's bias that I'm not a big fan of Dave Grohl's post-Nirvana work with the Foo Fighters. It's too middle-of-the-road for me. I'd rather go with straight Grunge, if I'm looking for weird, drug-addled working class rage, or Power Pop or Straight Pop if I want good time feel good music.
I'm not a big fan of the Yarbling, alternative rock-style of vocals made popular by Disturbed or Puddle Of Mudd. I'm not a fan of '80s hair metal, either. I feel like there's this back and forth between the underground and mainstream culture, where the mainstream takes the cutting edge of extreme music and rolls it around like a rock tumbler, until you're left with a highly-polished and refined version of the experimental variant. Consider Tool for an example of this.
As a permanent resident of the extreme music underground, it just doesn't do it for me. I am reminded of what Jevovah was reported as seeing, in Revelations 3:16, "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." But it is my job to listen through my biases, reporting on the record itself, as it might be received by its intended audience. I'd say, if you like the Foo Fighters, or other skeins of polished Grunge like Alice In Chains, you're likely to be humming along with catchy tracks like "Dead To Me".
Instrumental prowess makes you lean in and listen harder, however, making you realize there is more going on than meets the eye. Razor-sharp, lightning fast drum fills on "Big Rig" is the first moment when I wondered "Who the hell are these guys?" Unfortunately, the lyrics are all about truck driving. I'm sure there will always be a place for long hauls and big rigs in rock 'n roll. I'm just not the best audience and, if I was in a manic truck-driving music mood, I'd probably go with something like Southern Culture On The Skids or Hank Williams III.
But that's just one stand-out musical moment, alerting us to the fact that Vancouver's Not Inpublic ARE a talented and committed group of musicians. There will always be a place for this style of blue collar, working class rage rock 'n roll, as long as there is an economy, basically. Or as long as guys are restraining all of their emotions and instincts. It's much better than dropping dead of cancer or a heart attack.
Although Goodnite Gracie as a whole is a new band, its individual members have been part of the music scene for much of their lives. Their self-titled EP was released in the summer of 2015, and its classic mix of retro rock & roll, punk, and pop rock has intrigued listeners and made a solid statement about the band’s talent and potential.
The first song of the EP, “The Sound”, is by far the catchiest and most unforgettable piece on the record. The full sound of electric guitars, bass, and percussion are brought to life amidst Sean Ryan’s elevated vocals that hover between toned classical and gravelly grunge singing. The chorus is comprised of a particularly striking groove, and the verses and bridge incorporate instrumentative variation and dynamic fluctuation in order to keep the listener wholly invested.
“Going Nowhere” builds upon the success of the opening track, and as the tempo is brought down just a touch, the energy continues to build through melodic riffs, synchronized power chords, and lyrics that direct listeners’ attention to poetic themes. The next song, “This Apology”, feels like a stylistic continuation of “Going Nowhere”, but there is more of a bluesy feel that brings out an additional facet of the band’s repertoire and influence.
Sean’s vocals reach a whole new level throughout “The Endless Design” as his unfettered emotion is brought through his voice and the accompanying instruments. This track is especially emotive, and the amount of sentiment that the band infused into the soundscape is readily apparent.
The EP is brought to a triumphant end with the appropriately named “In The End”, a hard-hitting modern rock anthem that features crashing cymbals, relentless power chords, and lightning-fast guitar solos. A brief respite with acoustic instrumentation packed in amidst the screaming guitars is central to the song’s display of the band’s pure vitality. As a whole, Goodnite gracie’s EP is a modern success of classic rock that has been personalized just enough to let the band’s personality and demeanor become illuminated.
Stocking Up by Sockthief is a hard-edged album brimming with grit and rust. It is rockabilly and powerful. There is a feeling like the earth is being pulled from underneath your feet when you listen to it. The song “Monsters” speaks, “Sometimes I feel like I am on top of the world, other times I feel like the world is on top of me.” This song brings that full feeling to the foreground. It’s as if I am just floating in outer space because the song has literally lifted me from earth.
The vocalist has a powerful singing voice that demands presence. Sometimes, he even likes to scream a bit in case you didn’t hear him. With song titles like “Scurvy Circus,” “Yikes” and “Bulleit Holes,” you didn’t think you were gonna get a bin full of roses now did ya? This project is just like a rose actually, the thorns being the punk edge and the rose being the soft velvety burlesque sound. The competency and composition of the band is coiled tightly. One can really tell the ability of the musicians throughout the album as they weave threads of rockabilly, circus, and surf rock fibers into its fabric.
On the song “ Burning Bridges” you can feel the magic of the music because it is so layered with brass and chorus. It is as if you are at a live circus performance.
This song in particular reminds me of one you would hear on Kill Bill or another Quentin Tarantino Film. Feels like a soundtrack for outlaws. It is unique and edgy. From the sounds of it, the band is filled with classically trained musicians that time and again feel frustrated by being overly composed, so they break out into a mass of chaotic punk energy with screaming and a full blowout.
The song “ Bulleit Hole” is accompanied by an eerily played piano. You feel like you are in a burlesque parlor and the whiskey is flying or perhaps you are walking down a carnival hallway checking the spectacles. I really appreciate the audio filter that they use to make it sound more old timey.
This album is literally from another time period. Just like a great book, it has the ability to transport its reader, or in this case its listener, to another place and time. It really is beautiful how emotions well up of carnivals, gambling, burlesque and that velveteen drenched and unruly, yet superbly refined, world can be felt when you listen to this music. Highly recommended. There is no lacking in any arena with these musicians.
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