Adam Ashten, the alternative rock virtuoso hailing from Nanaimo, BC, Canada, embodies a true musical talent channeling the influential sounds of icons like Tom Petty, Phil Collins, Silverchair and Oasis. His musical journey began at the young age of 13, captivating audiences with performances in clubs and tirelessly honing his craft. While tasting modest success with his prior band, Ashten took an eight-year hiatus, only to resurface triumphantly with a series of monthly singles that have enraptured listeners.
"Postcard Lullaby," my initial encounter with Ashten's work, emanates a mid-energy rock vibe. His vocals immediately struck me as fitting seamlessly into the realm of pop-punk, showcasing a versatility that's well-crafted and resonates with tenderness and wholesomeness.
The song radiates a distinct positivity, leaving a palpable feel-good aura. "A Lot of Luck" offers a different flavor, weaving a tapestry of somber reflections that gradually transform into a burst of positivity and rock elements. Americana influences gently seep through, adding depth to the track's evolving emotions.
"Empty Hallway" stands out as another beautifully executed piece. Ashten's vocals soar amidst a blend of organ, guitar and layered instrumentation. A subtle hint of ‘50s pop flavor enriches the song, contributing to its delightful appeal. Ashten's prowess as a songwriter shines through, crafting compositions that exude honesty and raw authenticity. Ashten's musical offerings feel genuine and sincere, inviting listeners into a world of heartfelt storytelling and genuine emotion. Dive into his repertoire for an experience that's both introspective and invigorating.
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Doug Gatta, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Ocean Township, New Jersey, has made his mark on the Jersey shore circuit through various bands and now embarks on a solo journey. His forte? Melodic, anthemic rock n’ roll.
"Devil's Water" sets the tone right from the outset, signaling Gatta's readiness to dive into a rock-infused experience. The song resonates heavily with echoes from the ‘70s and ‘80s, both in spirit and aesthetics. However, as the hook kicks in, a distinct ‘90s flavor emerges, creating an intriguing blend. Its infectious catchiness demands to be played at maximum volume.
Among the tracks, "Warning" emerges as a personal highlight. It boasts exceptional songwriting prowess, marked by a hook that lodges itself firmly in memory. Infused with an undeniable American spirit, Gatta's vocal performance shines brightly. The song also features a brief yet stunning breakdown that seamlessly transitions into a stellar lead guitar solo. "Gonna Come A Time" exudes remarkable energy, propelled by a rapid BPM that ignites an adrenaline rush upon listening.
Gatta effortlessly crafts rock tunes that are both accessible and heartfelt, delivering a package that's hard not to appreciate. With a blend of nostalgia and contemporary vigor, his music invites listeners to dive into a world of palpable passion and spirited melodies.
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FYRE INSYDE, hailing from the vibrant Orlando, FL, embodies a rock quintessence with members RockStarG on vocals, Oscar G on bass, Felix Fruciente on guitar and Chrix Christian commanding the drums. Their repertoire boasts anthemic, earnest rock tunes, a blend echoing the vibes of both ’80’\s and ’90s rock movements. "Carry Me" stands tall among their repertoire, a hybrid ballad exuding grandeur.
The verses, delicately woven with guitar intricacies and infectious vocals, bloom into an expansive chorus, amplifying the sonic landscape. A scorching guitar solo reminiscent of the glory days of bands like Guns N’ Roses elevates the track further. "Truth Behind the Lies" introduces a contemporary edge, an incessant propulsion wrapped in a thunderous sound. Precision defines their execution, each performance immaculately in sync, driving the track forward with unyielding momentum.
Meanwhile, "The Ride" takes a nostalgic detour, channeling the spirit of ’70’\s classic rock akin to the likes of Cheap Trick. It's an exuberant, unadulterated homage to pure rock essence. FYRE INSYDE embodies the archetype of a quintessential rock ensemble. Their music radiates aggression, revels in exuberance and exudes an unapologetic attitude—truly encapsulating the spirit of what defines a powerhouse rock band.
Two decades ago, Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven led me into uncharted musical territories. Back then, I was drawn to bands like Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins, and instrumental music wasn't on my radar.
Witnessing the fusion of rock with orchestral elements completely reshaped my musical boundaries, revealing a newfound power in this amalgamation. Despite the world not fully embracing it, the underground scene nurtured the genre's growth. Some argue that the era of post-rock has passed, yet emerging artists like Biscuit Shrine keep the flame burning, embodying the essence ignited by the pioneers years ago.
In their debut album, Between The Real, Biscuit Shrine doesn't aim to revolutionize the genre; instead, they tend to its fading embers, emitting an intensity that rekindles the initial allure for devoted followers. The album explores varied sonic paths. Some tracks delve into cerebral, ambient explorations, while others ascend to dizzying, intense crescendos, emblematic of the genre.
Amidst this musical canvas, the guitar takes center stage, but it's the meticulously crafted atmosphere that stands alongside the notes, equally essential to the experience. While not necessarily surprising to genre enthusiasts, the meticulous craftsmanship evident in each song is undeniable. Every reverb tail feels meticulously scrutinized, ensuring its precise blend within the mix.
This album lacks conventional singles designed for radio play; instead, it invites you to explore a constellation of sound from the very first track to the last. Biscuit Shrine's artistry unveils unexplored layers within the genre, waiting to be discovered. Between The Real signifies a promising direction for enthusiasts keen on delving deeper into the uncharted territories of post-rock. As a listener eager for musical evolution, I'm wholeheartedly tuned in to these revelations.
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Two Inch Voices, led by Jeffery Arnold, unveils their latest single, "Witches," a track that defies easy description due to its striking minimalism but it falls more into the folk and singer/songwriter category. Anchored by guitar—imbued with an acoustic tinge and a touch of fuzz—and vocals, the song maintains a subdued essence throughout. Kicking off with fleeting guitar plucks, "Witches" transitions into a strumming cadence that sets the stage for the standout element: the compelling vocal delivery.
There's a haunting quality to the vocals, reminiscent of the emotive depth akin to certain facets of Alice In Chains, particularly echoing the mood of their iconic unplugged session from the '90s. The chorus serves as the track's zenith, where Arnold's vocals soar, effortlessly hitting sustained notes within a natural range while pushing boundaries. Delving into the song's lyrical depth in such minimalist arrangements is intriguing; the poetic and open-ended nature of the words allows for personal interpretation.
Lines like "We can sit and watch the colors change/We can say our prayers to something to make it rain" resonate profoundly. "Witches" encapsulates authenticity, rawness, and genuineness, wrapped in a slightly lo-fi quality that contributes to its allure.
The track feels akin to a live performance, capturing the essence of its rawness. It's more than a mere compilation of musical elements; it's a stripped-down portrayal that taps into universally relatable emotions, showcasing the power of simplicity in musical expression.
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Dustin Prinz, hailing from the idyllic West Point, Nebraska, embarks on a poignant musical odyssey with his upcoming album, In The Attic. This album, born from the depths of grief following the loss of his father to Covid in late 2020, serves as a deeply personal exploration, capturing the ineffable nuances of emotion that accompany such profound experiences.
The opening track, "From The Attic," sets the tone with a blend of electronic and organic elements. Prinz's guitar patterns shine, accompanied by an emotionally resonant vocal performance. "Out of Body," reminiscent of Bon Iver, captivates with its intimate yet experimental production, showcasing Prinz's compelling vocal prowess.
"Heart of Begonias" sees Prinz delve into a baritone range, evoking a profound melancholy reminiscent of The National. The retro vibes of "After All" bring warmth and intricacy through captivating guitar picking, complemented by a solid vocal display. "Seven Years Strong" surprises with its pop sensibilities, feeling like a potential single, while "Mother" balances nostalgia with inventive production.
The standout "Out To Sea" immerses the listener in a sonic underwater landscape, featuring unique and innovative instruments. I loved the textures and tones on this song. Closing the album is "Keep It Together," a perfect conclusion that resonates with a sense of completeness. In facing the universal theme of grief, Prinz employs music as a creative vessel, offering solace not only to himself but to those who navigate similar emotional terrain. In The Attic becomes a therapeutic outlet, demonstrating that, for Prinz, songwriting is more than a passion—it is a lifeline.
Bootleggers and Baptists, hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, bring forth their heavy alternative blues rock prowess in their latest offering, the five-track EP titled ASIDE. Comprising Terry McGill (vocals, harmonica, cigar box guitar, guitar, flute), John Morgan (bass guitar), Stephen Berchielli (lead guitar) and Josh Bolyard (drums), the band, formed in 2012, has seen some lineup shifts while maintaining a consistent presence at festivals, breweries and clubs. The EP kicks off with "Shauna," a powerhouse live anthem that packs a punch with its hard rock intensity.
McGill's vocals exude a captivating uniqueness, navigating octaves with a flair that feels akin to switching characters, setting a dynamic tone. Following this barnstormer is "Take Me Home," blending a similar ferocity with a jazzy, big band-infused vibe that hooks listeners with its high-energy chorus.
"Body Song" delves into a funkier realm while maintaining an unrestrained, wild intensity, allowing McGill's vocals to soar freely, evoking an exhilarating sensation. The music occasionally hints at echoes of Rage Against The Machine, but with a distinctive perspective. "Benny" stands out as a uniquely crafted piece, from its unconventional vocal delivery to its genre-bending nature, presenting a refreshing deviation from the norm. Closing the EP is "Devil In A Dress," arguably the catchiest track, leaving a memorable impact.
ASIDE is a relentless powerhouse, delivering a shot of adrenaline akin to a burst of espresso. Bootleggers and Baptists' high-octane rock style makes this EP an absolute must for enthusiasts craving electrifying energy and unapologetic intensity.
Anthony Caulkins, a luminary of dark Americana, deftly weaves together rock, blues, bluegrass and jazz in a tapestry that exudes intensity and soulfulness. His sonic repertoire is a labyrinth of emotions, traversing the enigmatic, the jazzy, and even venturing into Flamenco-inspired guitar riffs, as showcased notably in the mesmerizing track "In The Dead." It’s cinematic quality is palpable, draped in mystery and complemented by vocals that resonate uniquely, echoing shades of Tom Waits' haunting essence.
Transitioning to "On My Side," Caulkins unveils a rustic, barnyard blues opus where the resonating bass takes center stage, creating an expansive groove. It's the soundtrack to the late-night hours, a melodic refuge after a night steeped in indulgence.
Yet, "We Don't Know" emerges as a sonic departure, defying expectations with its warm, acoustic and folk-inspired melodies. Here, Caulkins showcases a different facet, surprising listeners with a shift in mood and tonality, embodying an artist unafraid of exploring diverse musical landscapes.
Caulkins' musical prowess shines through this varied repertoire, inviting listeners into a world of rich diversity and exploration. His catalog beckons for deeper exploration, promising a trove of undiscovered treasures awaiting discovery.
The artistic evolution of the maestro behind Suplex Machine unfurls like a dynamic musical odyssey. Commencing the voyage in 1991 as a bongo/conga virtuoso, the journey swiftly gravitated toward the enchanting realm of tabla, fostering a fervent devotion that led to classical training in 1997.
Across the late 1990s and 2000s, their stage prowess mesmerized audiences throughout the UK and Europe, seamlessly mastering drums, guitar, bass and vocals. However, it wasn't until 2013 that the seeds of original composition germinated within their creative soil. This epochal juncture heralded the genesis of their songwriting odyssey, unveiling Suplex Machine as an introspective solo venture, albeit punctuated by the collaborative brilliance of Sarah Lawton and Dave Rigby. "The Highest Peak" beckons as an inaugural encounter, a symphony where the drums seize the sonic reins, adorned with delay and a tremolo-kissed guitar, echoing a nostalgia reminiscent of the '70s. The vocals, imbued with expressiveness, carve an indelible imprint upon the listener's psyche.
"Black Sheep," a formidable track, bears a straightforward allure, yet beneath its veneer lies enchanting chord transitions and effortlessly digestible vocal melodies. The guitar, crisply pristine, allows the vocals ample space to soar amidst a mid-energy ambiance. Enter "Quantum," arguably the zenith of this sonic expedition. Here, the percussion assumes an unparalleled guise, possibly enriched by the presence of the tabla, delivering a performance of remarkable precision. These compositions stand as testaments to meticulous craftsmanship. Raw, unfiltered and authentic, they resonate with an unbridled veracity, encapsulating the essence of musical sincerity.
Rattle Root, hailing from Montgomery County, Maryland, serves up a distinctive concoction of original, high-octane Roots and Roll tunes that defy easy categorization. Their sonic landscape, hovering between rock, grunge and roots music, ensnares the listener in a head-banging, toe-tapping fusion.
While the band radiates serious stage presence, their playful lyrical finesse signals a refusal to take themselves too seriously. "Fade Away," my initial foray into their repertoire, channels the essence of prime ‘90s alternative and grunge. It's a raw, visceral piece where the vocalist pushes vocal boundaries while the instruments craft a solid, groove-laden backdrop.
Crunchy guitars, slick bass lines and hard-hitting drums coalesce, punctuated by an unexpected thematic breakdown reminiscent of throat singing—an unanticipated yet harmonious addition. Transitioning to "Wolverine Song," a different aura emerges, leaning toward classic rock vibes. The band exhibits top-notch prowess here, delivering memorable and enjoyable vocal melodies. Surprises abound once more, with hyperbolic vocals and an elusive, possibly synthesized instrument weaving into the mix, challenging easy identification.
In "The Line," although slightly more lo-fi compared to its counterparts, Rattle Root delivers yet another solid track. "Getting Warmer," while seemingly aiming for comedic effect, stands out as a well-crafted piece that garnered my appreciation. Through this sampling of their repertoire, Rattle Root showcases a diverse musical palette, traversing various styles and moods with adeptness and flair.
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