Guys and Doll

Hello Dollface

Hello Dollface hails from a small town called Durango, tucked into the southwest corner of Colorado. But they haven’t stayed put, racking up miles playing shows across Colorado, Mexico, and Arizona. Their music has the same vagabond soul ” meandering between blues, jazz, and folk pop and even making its way over to Scandanavia for a tune. Den Svenska Laten translates to The Swedish Song, and, true to its name, is a Baltic waltz sung entirely in Swedish. Violin, soft percussion, and plucked strings are braided with Ashley Edwards‘ husky, silky vocals. Capital Me is more percussive, jazzier fare with reverberating guitars, xylophone, and a strutting bass. But it’s Great Wall that really picks up the pace, galloping along while the violin whinnies and the xylophone twinkles. It’s a sad and hopeful little melody from a band of restless romantics. Check ˜em out.

Soldier On

The Design

It takes a mighty presence to hold an arena-sized audience captive. And though Kat Robichaud, who fronts Raleigh-based band The Design, has spent the bulk of her career on smaller stages, she’s the kind of heavyweight performer who could shake the rafters of a stadium. Armed with a muscular contralto, the singer powers through theatrical rockers that harken back to the ˜80s. Young America is the soundtrack to defiance, a stomping gutter groove for those with their jaws firmly jutted out. But even protestors like to take things to the dance floor now and then, and Sing, Girl, Sing provides the chunky rock guitars, a funk bass line, and angular percussion to get things moving. Still, The Design is a band that thrives on dissent, and nowhere is their unrest more palatable than on Burn” a rallying cry sounded by syncopated drums and a salvo of gnarly guitars. I will not be found wanting, Robichaud warns. No, ma’am. Absolutely not.

Wild Things


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.

Fire and Ice

Just across the Hudson, tucked between the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, is Hoboken, NJ. A less frenetic, friendlier version of New York City, Hoboken still functions as sort of a microcosm of Manhattan with its restaurants, galleries, and vibrant music scene. Just like Hoboken, ARTWORK reflects the sometimes opposing forces and surprising beauty of the big city. On Skies gnarled guitars and stomping drums give way to a coasting melody with blissed out vocals and twee lyrics reminiscent of Owl City. But just as soon as you begin to get lulled into submission, in comes a menacing, spoken word bridge to upset the calm. On Casting Stones staccato guitars, blasts of distortion, thrashing drums, and whirls of synths create a decidedly more turbulent vibe. I’ll set the world in flames, singer Darren Fisher promises. True, but they’ll also provide the salve to soothe the burn.

Wrangled Up & Bruised

Ula Ruth

Brothers Nicholas and Lucas James may have had a wholesome upbringing”home school, Quaker school, Connecticut suburbs”but they didn’t let that corrupt their rock and roll souls. The brothers stood by their hot sauce-lovin’, God-fearin’, skinny jeans-wearin’ values, joining up with likeminded brethren Kevin Clymer and Dean Miller to form Ula Ruth in 2011. Their rock is steeped in distortion, with banged up and bruised grooves. Exhibit A: Empty, a stylish and subversive rocker with zig-zagging guitars engulfed in feedback. Exhibit B: Call To The Lonely, where handclaps, reverb riffs, guttural bass lines and throaty hollers combine for the New England version of Kings of Leon. I always open my mouth instead of walking away, Nick laments. Be glad he does”Ula Ruth’s rebel yell is worth the listen.

Party Patrol


Prepare to sweat your weaves out, people. Coming straight outta the city of brotherly love is DaCav5, an electro-pop band armed with its own party rock anthems. Like LMFAO, DaCav5 specializes in crazed, pitch-bent beats that burrow down into your brain and command your body to move. Dirty Style has a whiff of Party Rock Anthem, kicking off with a big, fat, bassy beat. Add defiant mantras like I don’t care what people say, Ima party anyway, with a sexy female refrain and you’ve got yourself a hit. David Guetta, eat your heart out. Party Started does exactly what it proposes to do. The track gets underway with orchestral pulses and edgy vocal stylings. Bitch get back, you know the kid got swag. The kid definitely has swag. Make that all five kids. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some partying to do.