Hanging with buds, falling in love, partying all night ” that’s what teenage dreams are made of. Take The Day, out of New Berlin, Wis., has dedicated their talent to providing a killer soundtrack for youth. Their songs are high-adrenaline, hooky dance rockers, inspired in equal measure by Top 40 pop and EDM. Freaks gets the blood pumping with big synth blooms, pitch-shifted beats, and grungy guitars. Although Take The Day is clearly influenced by artists like Skrillex, they like their rock, as the gnarly guitar solos of Look Who’s Laughing Now prove. But it’s Celebrities that epitomizes what the band is all about. Gimme the fame so everybody knows my name, demands singer Adam Devlin, I want to party every day. If you think this band is settling for anything less than supreme rock stardom, you got another thing coming.
Most teen musicians play their first gigs in dubious places ” their parents’ garage, an empty parking lot, or, if they’re lucky, an abandoned shed out in the middle of nowhere. Not The Nowhere Nauts. Sofie Kapur, Hunter Lombard, Anders Kapur, and Tony Franco grew up in NYC, performing at clubs that more established bands would kill to get into. After being brought together by former Guided By Voices drummer Kevin March in 2008, the group began mining their influences and styles. What emerged was street-smart indie rock with punk and jazz underpinnings. Try To Light My Fuse starts with pulsing synths before guitars and bass burst forward, bobbing and weaving around sharp angles while drums whip them on. Sofie’s powerful voice is eerily reminiscent of Ann Wilson from Heart, shaking the rafters with wild abandon. The prize is in your view / Why not take a chance? She’s singing to you ” turn up the volume and grab your prize.
Warning Birds is a band of Perthians led by Sam Carmody, a virtuosic singer songwriter with a bent for storytelling that tugs at the heartstrings. With his bandmates”bassist Carmen Pepper, guitarist Bensen Thomas and drummer Tim Bates”Carmody crafts dreamy, fitful indie pop. On Sally glistening pangs of guitar meld with gossamer layers of vocals and brisk rhythms in a tale of love gone dangerously wrong. Plastic Palms explodes out of the gate with soaring guitars and drums, then settles into a meditative meander through watery guitars and the intertwined vocals of Carmody and Pepper. Nowhere do these two sound more transcendent than on Ghost Town, a shuffling, melancholic melody with a chorus that swoons. There must be something here, they sing in harmony, before their voices are swallowed by rolling drums and funereal horns. Fans of Arcade Fire will love this. Put it on, sit back, and get your blissed-out brood on.
It’s no easy thing to be an original these days, but despite the bounty of artists out there, Nemes has managed to do just that. The Brighton, MA quintet has created a sound that takes listeners off the rails for a manic ride through blues, grass, and punk. On the swampy, junkyard environs of Blues, singers Dave Anthony and Josh Knowles bellow and bray over a squealing fiddle, declaring Robert Johnson’s back and he walks in my shoes. Even if their insidious blues mojo doesn’t literally raise the dead, it most definitely raises hackles. As guitars grind up clouds of distortion on Beam in the Track, a ukulele nimbly picks its way through. It’s that interplay between post-punk dissonance and old time music that makes Nemes akin to nothing else out there. But if you have to have a signpost, think of the band as a cross between Avett Brothers and Say Anything”a troupe of roughshod, wild-hearted melody makers with some serious amps.
The name alone should tell you Set It Off’s M.O. The Tampa-based band is all about starting a frenzy through adrenaline-soaked, emotive rockers. Led by singer Cody Carson, Set It Off blends theater, social sensitivity and angst a la bands like My Chemical Romance and Panic At The Disco. On Horrible Kids Carson, guitarists Dan Clermont and Zach DeWall, bassist Austin Kerr and drummer Maxx Danziger delve into bullying with equal parts empathy and rage. It’s jittery and paranoid, but ultimately a redemptive tune. But on Breathe In, Breathe Out, the mood takes a turn towards a manic carnival. Jabbing guitars, coursing verse and a soaring chorus create a totally irresistible, totally schizoid rocker. Set It Off are masters of mood swings. On Pages and Paragraphs Carson sings, I’m on cloud nine. Even if happiness is fleeting there’s still pleasure to be found in pain. Enjoy the ride.
Flagstaff, Arizona’s Fight The Quiet has a long list of influences, from Death Can For Cutie to Foo Fighters to Guns ˜N Roses. You can catch snippets of all of them in the band’s fervent rock. There’s the gnarly guitar solo of Sway that tips its top hat to Slash, and the motivational artillery of This Is The Moment that follows the earnest, post-punk footsteps of alternative bands like Jimmy Eat World. You might think these influences are strange bedfellows, but what holds them all together is Fight The Quiet’s tenderhearted take on what it means to kick ass. Guitars chug and charge through banks of distortion, drums thrash, unrest creeps in”but as intense as things can get, the band always wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s hard to pull off lyrics like Living without you / That ain’t living at all while still maintaining your edge. But Fight The Quiet does it, and does it well.