One of the best things about rock music is the ability to mix different genres and styles. The end result of these concoctions often times end up making for some really intriguing bands. Which is exactly why I’m really digging the band Strangelight. They’ve been able to take rock n roll music and add bits of punk and an anthemic tinge and made something fun, lively and thought provoking. Their debut album, Adult Themes, is chock full of hard hitting rhythms, crunchy riffs and impactful vocals. The production on the album courtesy of Scott Evans (you might recognize him from his work in Kowloon Walled City) gives these songs the added realness their already raw and direct delivery. There are moments when listening to Strangelight, that you pick up on the inspiration and influence of bands like Fugazi, Hot Snakes and Rocket From The Crypt but, it’s apparent in a flattering way and not a straight up rip. Strangelight are the type of band that, I’m sure if you saw them live, they would straight up rip the roof off the venues they play.
In a time when people are saying rock is dead, they obviously aren’t looking in the right places. Rock music is very much alive. Enter Sound & Shape, this three piece band hailing from Nashville, Tennesse, have the right amount of heaviness, soul and melody to keep rock music going. Through the course of the band’s career, they’ve released three full length albums along with two EP’s. They’ve also had the pleasure of touring with bands like Sparta, Kings X, and The Spill Canvas. One of the things that really intrigues me about Sound & Shape is the vocal harmonies. Those harmonies are striking and smooth and have this really cool 70’s vibe that has a nice bit of soul and r&b to them, thus making it stand out. Their new song “All Day Morning,”features those quite well I must say. Sound & Shape are the type of rock band that is needed to keep rock n roll music going.
I love a good throwback sound. Especially when it’s done in a fresh way but still retains the core of what the band is trying to convey. With heavy metal, there is a chance it can go either way but, it seems that Spirit Adrift have mastered it perfectly. Spirt Adrift have taken their love of metal from the 70’s, 80’s and even a bit of the 90’s and crafted an album that has invoked that spirit (pun totally intended), and let it run free. The bands upcoming album, Enlightened In Eternity, is chock full of great songs, melodies, riffs, solos, and so much more. There’s a fun playful vibe to this band but, at the same time you can definitely hear the serious nature of the songs. You can feel and hear the blood, sweat and soul poured into this album, just based on the three songs released so far, “Screaming From Beyond,” “Astral Levitation,” and “Harmony Of The Spheres.” Spirit Adrift have really made an album that stands out from the rest of their peers. Enlightened In Eternity is an album that will leave a lasting impact on those who listen. This band is on fire and they will have you wanting to rock out the moment you put this album on.
Over the past few years there has been a great resurgence of the 90’s sound. There are a lot of bands out there that have embraced it but, not many of them have truly been able to convey that sound properly. This is where I introduce you to the band of the week NinerNiner. This four piece bands hailing from Bakersfield, California have taken that 90’s “grunge” rock sound with bits of punk and a little pop sensibility, to give it all a playful twist. Their latest album, Destructo, is a perfect example of how all that works so well together. The songs have depth and emotion while at the same time have a vibe that makes you want to get up and dance or jump around. Niner Niner, along with a couple other bands from Bakersfield (If It Kills You and Contranistas), seem to be on to something quite interesting.
Melodic hardcore is one of my favorite sub-genres of heavy music. There’s something about mixing the grittiness and heavy riffs with a melodic tinge that really is catching. That being said, I’d like to introduce you to Be Well, a new band with roots that extend far back and then some. Be Well have come out of the gates with a blend of melodic hardcore and post-hardcore to deliver a very emotionally charged sound. The band is made up of a who’s who of familiar faces, on vocals, Brian McTernan (Battery and renowned producer/engineer), Peter Tsouras (Guitar) and Shane Johnson (Drums) from Fairweather, Mike Schleibaum (guitar) of Darkest Hour, and Aaron Dalbec (Bass) of Bane and formerly of Converge. Be Well’s lyrics are extremely personal, relentless and deep courtesy of Brian McTernan chronicling his struggles with depression, fatherhood, loss and then some. There is a sense of hope to it all in the end though. The bands debut album, The Weight And The Cost, arrives on August 21 (via Equal Vision Records) and so far based on the songs released, this album is sure to be a banger. Hopefully too, once all this madness in the world subsides, we can all catch Be Well live get to see these songs really come to life.
I love it when it’s been a while since you’ve heard from a band you like and they drop new music and it’s really good. That’s the case with this weeks Band Of The Week, (Damn) This Desert Air. It had been a few years since there was new music from this band. Their last album, Pyramids, still finds its way into rotation for me and it’s still a rocking record. Now, they have released a new EP called Nebulosity and it’s chock full of crunchy riffs, hard hitting rhythms and soaring melodic vocals. (Damn) This Desert Air is a band that has taken their cues from the space rock of the 90’s (Failure and Hum), added some cool post-hardcore vibes (a la Quicksand) and some melodic grunge in the way that STP did on Core and Purple. When you listen to the song “Body Anchor (Back In Atlantis),” you can definitely hear all three of those influences come into play. There is also a real maturity to this band as well that will probably get overlooked. That element has given these new songs a real sense of purpose and urgency. The passion you can hear in the performances are undeniable and it truly gives new life to this band. A song like “Lonely Train” is a great example of this. Nebulosity is a great way for (Damn) This Desert Air to come back. This EP is an encapsulation of what they’ve done in the past and are working towards. I urge anyone that reads this to really take the time to listen to this band. The pure nature of what this band is really shines. I’m quite excited to have them back and hope this is just the beginning of more to come.
(Damn) This Desert Air- Nebulosity:
(Damn) This Desert Air- Body Anchor (Back In Atlantis):
Instrumental bands are quite interesting when you really take the time to let the music all sink in. Through the use of dynamics and interesting structures, you the listener, often can be taken through quite a journey of different directions. There is a band that I’ve really come to like a lot that has managed to take the craft of making instrumental music come to life in a way that, if you were to add words, it would take away from the beauty of what was created musically. The band I’m talking about is Goliathan. This instrumental Post-Rock/Doom Metal band based in Los Angeles, have been meticulously developing their sound and have carved out a nice niche for their apocalyptic yet dreamy style. Since their formation, Goliathan have released 2 stellar EP’s, Awakens in 2017 and Albion in later 2018, both of which are epic and worth your time. One of my favorite things about this band is that they have the ability hit you with a sonic intensity that is impactful and and heavy but, with more of a subtle nature that builds and feeds into the journey. Goliathan are truly one of the best instrumental bands I’ve heard in a long while. If I had to describe them I’d say they have this really cool Explosions In The Sky meets Neurosis vibe with a tinge of 90’s alternative (a la Failure).
Normally I wait till Friday’s for this topic but, I don’t want to wait till then to talk about this band. A couple days back when checking my music news, I came across a band that just wowed me. I clicked on their lyric video and the moment the first note hit my ears, I knew I was already going to love what I was about to hear. 8 minutes later the song was over and I immediately pressed start over. I’m talking about the band In Parallel and their new song “Leave It With The Ghost” from their upcoming release, Fashioner, which comes out September 04, 2020 via Wiretap Records. This band is made up of members of Celebrity and Hopesfall (who in 2018 released a great comeback album with, Arbiter). In Parallel’s sound is inspired from dark 80’s pop and 90’s shoegaze and post-hardcore – creating a sound that is melodic, expansive and ambient but, at the same time explosive in a way that will catch you off guard in a way that peaks your interest. Their debut album, Broken Codes, is a great representation of what this band is capable of creating. On Fashioner, they recruited Failure’s Ken Andrews to mix their record and the end result is, and you can tell by listening to “Leave It With The Ghost,” a record that gives you chills. In Parallel are the type of band that knows how to tug at your heartstrings while at the same time expand your mind with a sensibility of intriguing rhythms, and the right tones. The road is endless for where this bands music can go and I hope you dig it as much as I do.
Normally, I use this topic to highlight unsigned or up and coming bands but, since they are now an “independent” band, I thought, why not expand upon this topic a bit. Filteris back with their first new song in four years. This new track “Thoughts and Prayers” is taken from the now defunct ReBus sessions that Richard Patrick and Brian Liesegang began working on before the whole Pledge Music debacle. The upcoming Filter album, entitled Murica is due out later this year. “Thoughts and Prayers” definitely has a Short Bus feel to it in parts as well as a bit of an Amalgamut vibe, especially because of the heavy guitar riff and it’s a pretty angry track as well. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this album. Richard has mentioned that he hopes to include a few other songs that he and Brian worked on for this upcoming album.
The artistic expression that music can convey is often times astounding. The thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc that run rampant have a direct impact on the lasting impact of what you just heard. The bands that stray from the formula and strive for a true artistic approach are the ones that tend to leave more of an impact, especially in the times we live in where there is so much out there to discover. Which brings me to the band of the week, Quiet Violence. Comprised of Michael Calvaresi and Sean Mcguire, Quiet Violence has a very interesting and distinct approach to their music. While there are some similarities towards bands that have influenced and inspired them, there is definitely something more to them. Lyrically, it’s deep and thought provoking. Musically it sets quite a mood. Take a song like “Coincidence or Miracle” or “Unsung” both have many different styles and approaches but, the end result is something that will stay with you. The ability to create something meaningful, even if it’s just for yourself, is something that truly gets overlooked but, that’s what makes Quiet Violence interesting. Their new album Video Game Killed The Rockstar is full of so many different things and sounds that will have you coming back to listen again to pick up on things you missed. This album will definitely take you and your mind places. I really commend these two guys for putting out something different and challenging. It’s a nice breath of air.