There’s nothing wrong with being different, Orly Lari sings on Wasteland over a torrent of guitars and drums. And being different, to EarlyRise, means raging against the powers that seek to tear us down. Lari, along with co-conspirator/guitarist Raz Klinghoffer has created a leitmotif of unrest that carries over from one punishing track to the next. On Wasteland the bass gurgles, guitars shriek, drums thrash, and Lari’s climbing vocals offer the only succor from the storm. Every song is a battlefield. From the sinister slouch of Become Mad to the stuttering, crashing Face Me, EarlyRise delivers hard rock that’s as angsty as it is melodic. On the latter, Lari sings, I’m not afraid anymore as I declare war. You may as well surrender.
Blameshift’s steady rise to the upper strata of commercial music is the product of not just talent, but serious marketing mojo. First the band became road warriors, criss-crossing across the country in a bus fueled by corn oil and building a bi-coastal fan base. Those diehard fans allowed Blameshift to finance their first record through Kickstarter and release free downloads in exchange for a like on Facebook. Their strategy paid off, exposing their polished hard rock to new fans and sponsors, and netting them placement on The Real World and Call of Duty. Blameshift’s music is as heavy as it is catchy, driven by the siren song of Jenny Mann. Guitars chug and strike through mountains of distortion, drums are pummeled to within an inch of their life, and Mann’s voice pierces through it all. Start with Ghost or Killing Me for a dose of dark and fitful rock. If you like to dance through all the drama, we recommend the sinister, polyrhythmic rocker,The Sirens Are Set. Are you ready? Mann asks. This could last forever. Cool by us.
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.
There’s a pantheon of music constructed of staccato guitars, thrashing drums, and searching, volatile vocals. Some call it emo, some call it pop-punk, some call it alternative. The name itself isn’t important. What matters is the legion of fans who flock to festivals like Warped Tour, snatch up records put out by Fueled By Ramen, and pour their love into every note, every word uttered. Band like At The Drive In, Taking Back Sunday, Motion City Soundtrack and countless others have supplied this demand over the course of two decades. You can add the name All About A Bubble to the list. The Tulsa, Okla. group delivers frenetic, precise rockers like West Coast, with its chugging guitars and monster melody. Impossible to Fade begins with singer Dustin Storm’s innervated croon before kicking into a coursing power ballad. The calm after the storm comes from Paper Planes, a mostly acoustic heartbreaker moved along by”you guessed it”big guitars and drums. Welcome to the pantheon, guys.
If you can judge a band by the number of big names it’s affiliated with, then Man On Earth is doing OK. A feature in TIME magazine, gigs with Perry Farrell and The White Tie Affair, a guest appearance on their record by Stephen Pearcy from RATT”things could be worse. Here’s what everyone’s fussing over: stylish, dancey rockers like Staring At Your Phone, where the deep grumble of bass and serpentine guitars get the adrenaline flowing. Man On Earth has a lot of muscle, but there’s heart, too. The dreamy, gossamer Venus begins with a speech by John F. Kennedy during the Space Race. If that doesn’t get you in a sentimental frame of mind, then maybe All We Want will. A salvo of guitars, racing drums and piercing synths build an anthemic rallying cry”part U2 and part Cure. Maybe Man on Earth isn’t at the level of those bands yet. Give them time; they’re on a roll.
“Staring At Your Phone” – Man On Earth
Everyday I is a nice cliffhanger of a name, an invitation to fill in the blank as you will. For the Orlando band, the obvious ending is rock. That’s what Everyday I sets out to do, track by track. Following the Doc Marten footprints of bands like Candlebox, Taproot and Alice in Chains, the band delivers turbulent, angsty alt-rock. The Less I Know kicks off with the clang and crash of drums and guitar, building to a driving chorus that’s ratcheted up by some seriously powerful vocals. The buzzsaw growl of guitars makes Denial equally ominous, but redemption comes in the song’s sailing harmonies. Glory is technically a ballad, but one that will blast your face off. Much of Everyday I’s material has an urgent pitch to it, whipping the listener up into a frenzy. If you like an emotional tug-of-war with your rock, this band will do it for you.
“Denial” – Everyday I
Automatic Fire hails from Philadelphia, but don’t expect them to dole out brotherly love willy-nilly. As a matter of fact, the four-piece rock band is more inclined to rip you a new one. On the sexy and stylish Cuts Both Ways singer Walt Lafty roars I tried to meet you half way but you shoved it back in my face over a crescendo of guitars and the low glug of bass. The World is no less forgiving. A blistering caveat, the track hones its metal edge on spooky guitar effects. Lafty can loosen a delicious croon from his pipes, but more often he uses them to belt out his ire. On Whipping Boy he sneers, I’m not your Gandhi, here to save the land / I’m more like Pilate, watch me wash you from my hands. And you probably can guess what happens to the title characters of the hair-metalish rocker, Snitches. Yup, stitches. With instruments that cut gashes and lyrics that pour in the salt, Automatic Fire may sting like a bitch, but the pain is worth the pleasure.
Like a car that’s broken down on the side of a highway under a blistering desert sun, The Roaming Soldiers make the kind of music that demands some sweat and grit to get going. Guitars screech and groan like a machine that desperately needs oil; rhythms buck and start before jolting forward precariously. It’s swampy, soulful Southern rock that’s made for beer drinking and bad decisions. On Shot Gun, dual guitars rear up like a double-headed dragon, scorching everything around them while cymbals shimmy in the background like a rattlesnake ready to pounce. Healing Machine is a lurching, angular groove that has whiffs of Black Crowes’ Remedy. Anyone who’s ever been kicked in the teeth by life will find plenty of commiseration in the bitter blues jam Last Cards. If howling and licking your wounds isn’t your thing, skip to Strange for a Zeppelin-esque guitar lashing. Pain’s no picnic, but The Roaming Soldiers make it hurt so good.
When something’s amiss, different species respond in different ways. Squids, for instance, release plumes of ink. In that regard, they’re not unlike your average human, expressing feeling through pen on paper. And there you have the etymology of the band Squid. Based in Tel Aviv, Squid crafts quixotic rock full of imagery and emotion. Quicksand is soft and swaying, lulling the listener with hoary tales of knights, maidens and dragons. Free brings a flute into the mix, joining bass and guitars for a turbulent flight into the night. The romance is finally broken with Junky”a hypnotic, psychedelic groove”and Not Used To, where the band channels their inner Nine Inch Nails for darker electro-rock. Searing guitar peals and clanging digital textures create a primal, ominous landscape. Put it this way, if a squid heard it, ink would be spilled.
Some people might think that Noelle LeBlanc was crazy to walk away from her frontwoman duties for breakout Boston band Damone, just as things were starting to take off. But after hearing her new band, The Organ Beats, it’s hard to hold a grudge. Comprised of LeBlanc on guitar/vocals, her brother Danny on drums and Mikey Colorouis on bass, The Organ Beats doles out 3-minute servings of sexy power pop that gives you an instant sugar rush. Before the high can even begin to wear off, the band is on to the next track. As far as influences go, think Weezer meets The Bangles. Happy Birthday / Come On Home blasts off with chugging guitars, rock steady drums, and effervescent rock vocals that reach for the rafters. Time To Go is like Hazy Shade of Winter for the millennial generation. There’s nothing complicated going on here, but that doesn’t mean anyone could do it. What you get with The Organ Beats is something special: veteran rockers who know how to deliver a couple of well-placed hooks and then beat it.