You’ve read it here countless times. Today’s rock radio in the good old USA is kind of weak… ok, it totally sucks. There are some decent stations out there, but even those few listenable stations are rehashing the same hits from the past five decades. So, being the caring folks that we are, we have an alternative for you…
Every once in awhile I discover an old fashioned rock ‘n roll gem of an album in my InBox. Believe me, it’s becoming a more rare experience as the market is flooded with either overly pretty or dirty rock, but I still thirst for straight-forward rock ‘n roll. Citizen Zero has delivered exactly that on their new album State Of Mind, and I took a few minutes to chat with frontman about the album, the Orlando tragedy, Chris Cornell, and a bunch of other things.
This album grabbed my attention from the very first spellbinding keyboard notes ushering in the opening track, the fantastic “Special Kind Of Crazy.” I was hooked immediately and the quick four song journey just got progressively better.
Three Days Grace continues to show us why they’re one of the most successful active rock artists ever. This talented Canadian foursome simply offers continuous active rock anthems.
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This week, they follow-up the hugely successful hit “Painkiller,” their 12th #1 Active Rock single, with another song destined to reach that same impressive pinnacle.
“I Am Machine” is the second straight highlight offering from their forthcoming album release, expected to hit the streets in March, 2015. Judging from these first two singles, we’re in for one hell of an album.
The new release is available now on iTunes here: I Am Machine – Single; and you can check out the video below.
Neil Sanderson offers up: “Sonically, we wanted to create a ‘machine-like’ sound in parts of the song. We were inspired by the images from the opening scene of Tim Burton’s ‘Edward Scissorhands’…relentless machines turning and churning, never ceasing to operate. Lyrically the song is about how sometimes you feel like you are in an endless routine and cannot escape. Every day seems the same. No freedom from the vicious cycle that your life can sometimes become…no control, you begin to feel numb to the world around you, as you yearn to just feel anything, any emotion.”
The song was co-written by the band, produced by Gavin Brown and mixed by Chris Lord-Alge. Three Days Grace re-teamed with Gavin Brown, who produced the band’s platinum-selling 2003 self-titled debut album. “We went back to our roots a bit and recaptured that collaborative feeling of being in a band and bringing out the best ideas in each other,” says Sanderson. “Gavin was a huge part of that in the beginning and we feel like we’re back in those days where we’re high-fiving each other with guitars in our hands.”
Rise Against is a rare band that’s proven an ability to transcend multiple rock genres. They cut their teeth as a punk band, are hugely popular with hardcore fans and have a dominant position on active rock playlists.
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In July, these socially conscious Chicago rockers dropped their seventh album, and their first offering in three years. On Black Market, we still hear much of the sound their fervent fans have come to enjoy, mixed in with a few new twists, primarily to a more mainstream sound. Listening to the lyrics, there’s also a more prominent focus on relationships, with fewer songs about social and political issues.
The album kicks off with an interesting twist. “The Great Die Off” begins with a beautiful string arrangement; a placid and relaxing start to the album, but it is oh so brief, before it evolves into a violent explosion of rock ‘n roll. Beautiful! This diverse social commentary with violent themes is a great start to The Black Market, and just might be the best track on the album.
The first single off of the album, “I don’t Wanna Be Here Anymore” is a gritty rocker that is absolutely everywhere on rock radio. It’s a crossover song that fits into just about every rock ‘n roll genre and is destined to be on many year-end Best Of lists. The song, about a relationship nearing its demise, kick starts with ferocious drums from Brandon Barnes, who plays a prominent role throughout The Black Market.
“Tragedy and Time” is another good example of the more mainstream slant that is pervasive on the album. The song has good harmonies and nice melodies – like so many other pop rock tunes. Decent stuff, but I’d be curious to see whether it is embraced by longtime fans of the band?
The album does feature a few cuts that will certainly appeal to Rise Against’s passionate hardcore fan base. “The Eco-tourist In Me” thankfully jettisons them back to their hardcore punk past. It’s fast, it’s aggressive, and it’s a cry for action – a familiar and fitting combination for the band. “A Beautiful Indifference” is a thrasher cut from the same cloth. Good stuff!
The most intriguing cut on the album is “Sudden Life,” a hopeful song which is masterfully produced. It features Tim McIlrath at his most vulnerable and the vocals are tremendous. The lyrics are intelligent and provoking on this track and throughout the album, a longtime trait for Rise Against.
All told, I loved about half of the album, but was lukewarm towards the rest. If you haven’t purchased the album yet it, grab it below and let us know your thoughts?
I’m a sucker for melodic hard-edged rock. Sadly, it has become increasingly difficult to find in today’s vapid hard rock landscape. But once in awhile I come across one of those albums that absolutely nails it; albums like Adelitas Way’s forthcoming release, Stuck.
In the sweltering sun of Welcome To Rockville I caught their blistering set and counted down the days to the July 29th release of their third album. Then, we got a glimpse of what we were in store when they released “Dog On A Leash” the excellent aggressive lead single, which instantly ratcheted up my expectations.
I’ve come to expect to be disappointed with so many active rock albums that are weak – albums featuring one or two solid tracks surrounded by a sea of crap. But not this time. Nope, Stuck absolutely delivers. This is a masterpiece destined for year-end best of lists. It’s one of those rare albums that defines a band and jettisons them into the rock ‘n roll stratosphere. It’s Adelitas Way’s equivalent of Metallica’s Master Of Puppets or the Scorpions Love At First Bite, an offering that takes a band from solid rockers to bona fide stars.
The previous comparison to The Scorpions is an apt one, as these American rockers feature excellent hard rock guitar, at times gritty and raw and at others beautifully honed, and all of it masterfully layered throughout. Throw in thunderous drums and diverse balanced vocals from Rick DeJesus and it’s a killer combination. There’s a common hard rock thread through all of the tracks, and the songs are generally catchy as hell, but happily, they’re a diverse grouping of tracks that all stand on their own.
“Dog On A Leash,” like most of the tracks on Stuck, is sharply produced music that still retains a welcome gritty edge. The album offers a diverse glimpse into the Las Vegas quartet’s considerable talent. There are a handful of killer tracks throughout the album, the best, “Different Kind Of Animal” is one of the most balanced, rich rockers I have heard in years. “Keep Me Waiting,” “Save The World.” “We Came” and “Blur” are all future active radio hits cut from the same cloth and excellent offerings.
On the other end of the spectrum is the keyboard driven “Something More,” the tender ballad “Drive” and the built-for-stadiums anthem “Undivided,” all tracks that scream for well-deserved attention. There’s not a weak track on the album, and it’s a must buy for all hard rock fans.
P.S. As good as this album is, they also put on a great live show. You’ll be able to catch Adelitas Way touring this fall with The Pretty Reckless, including four September dates here in Florida. The full tour schedule follows below the break.
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09/10/2014 Boston, MA House of Blues*
09/12/2014 Silver Spring, MD The Fillmore*
09/13/2014 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of the Living Arts*
09/15/2014 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade*
09/17/2014 Myrtle Beach, SC House of Blues*
09/18/2014 Jacksonville beach, FL Free Bird Live*
09/19/2014 St. Petersburg, FL Mahaffey Theater*
09/20/2014 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues*
09/21/2014 Fort Lauderdale, FL Revolution Live*
09/23/2014 Mobile, AL Soul Kitchen*
09/24/2014 New Orleans, LA House of Blues*
09/26/2014 Austin, TX Emo’s*
09/28/2014 Houston, TX House of Blues*
09/30/2014 Tempe, AZ The Marquee Theatre*
10/02/2014 Reno, NV Knitting Factory *
10/03/2014 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom*
10/04/2014 Seattle, WA El Corazon*
10/05/2014 Vancouver, B.C. Vogue Theatre*
10/08/2014 San Francisco, CA Regency Ballroom*
10/10/2014 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern*
10/11/2014 Anaheim, CA House of Blues*
10/12/2014 San Diego, CA House of Blues*
10/16/2014 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex*
10/17/2014 Denver, CO The Fillmore Auditorium*
10/25/2014 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe @ Old National Centre*
10/28/2014 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall*
10/29/2014 Cleveland, OH House of Blues*
10/30/2014 Toronto, ON The Sound Academy*
11/01/2014 Montreal, QC Olympia De Montreal*
11/04/2014 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground Ballroom*
11/06/2014 Portland, ME The Asylum*
11/07/2014 Hampton Beach, NH Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom*
11/08/2014 New York, NY Best Buy Theater*
*Marks dates with The Pretty Reckless – additional dates will be announced throughout the summer.
Prepping for Welcome To Rockville, I did some exam week style cramming. I listened to 40+ bands trying to identify the dozen or so that I was most interested in covering. There were a bunch that I listened to often, others that I was fairly familiar with and then a handful I didn’t know at all, but whose music caught my attention. Within Reason was one of those bands fresh on my radar, but one that made a quick and lasting positive impression.
The talented rockers from Alabama opened the main stage at the festival with a killer set, that had the crowd thoroughly engaged, and left me impressed. I caught up with Chris Dow (vocals), David Koonce (bass) and Chase Davidson (guitar) backstage shortly after they closed their powerful set.
Cretin: You just releases your new single. “Enemy.” And despite the fact that you’ve been playing for years, you’ve decided to release this one all your self. Tell me a little bit about that decision? Chris: I think we all got into music to get out of corporate America. Why would we want to sign a deal with these massive conglomerates who tell us how to do our work, take all of that money when we could figure it out on our own?
Cretin: You lose a lot of control, and potential profit. Chris: First off, record labels only exist because of the bands. I’ve never known a band who have said good things about their label.
Cretin: Sounds familiar. I talk to more and more bands going the Indie route. But you guys have really done it your own way. Your own label with total control over everything. Will you have other bands on this label? David: Maybe somewhere down the road, but right now we don’t want to take anything away from our band. Chris: If we had the funding and saw a band that we really liked, we could put some money behind them and basically put all of the resources we’ve put together behind them. (smiles) But right now, we’re focused on us.
Cretin: That’s perfect. YOu work your asses, you guys bear the fruits of your labor. So, the After The Crawl EP is great, love the powerful rock sound. They songs are all a little bit different, but the last song is really different. Tell us about it. Chris: It’s a Justin Timberlake and 50 Cent cover. (“Ayo Technology” – which is linked below) Chase: Our old sound check song. David: When we played it love, people were telling us ‘you should record it.” So we did. A lot of people liked it, and we put it on the record.
Cretin: The new single, “Enemy” is about to hit the airwaves. What radio stations and rock genres are you targeting for airplay? Chase: All of them. Chris: I think Kid Rock had it all figured out. If you think about it, he’s been on every genre of radio. He’s been on rock, rap, country, hot AC and pop. But, right now, I think our single will start on active rock.
Cretin: What’s up next for you guys? Any touting this summer. Chris: We’ll be touring, and we’ve talked to a few bands that are here at this festival. We’ll also be playing a huge event later in the summer that hasn’t been announced yet (so stay tuned for that).
This talented quartet out of Birmingham, has quite the bright future. They write distinctive active rock with catchy hooks, put on a strong show, and are driven by a passionate love for their craft: rock music. But, it’s a tough business and even more challenging when you strike out on your own. These likeable, talented musicians have a chance to breakthrough soon. Make sure you check out their music; you’ll be happy you did, and you might be making a difference in their future.
The End Is Where We Begin, the latest effort from Thousand Foot Krutch is a nice diverse album from this talented Canadian trio. After more than a decade of successfully recording on major labels, the band has gone back to the Indie route, one of an increasing number of bands funding their release through a Kickstarter campaign, where the bands many fans actually become part of the creative process.
As is often the case when bands return to their Independent roots, we hear Thousand Foot Krutch playing their music the way they want and taking advantage of the increased creative liberties. It’s a sound that’s true to their core and it works extremely well.
The sound on The End Is Where We Begin is quite varied, at different times provoking thoughts of Linkin Park, Egypt Central and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The songs are positive Christian rock but these guys don’t slam you over the head with their beliefs. It’s solid, active rock music that any hard rock fan will enjoy. You can almost characterize it as old-school Creed, only with a bit of raw passion and more of an edge; good stuff with diverse songs that highlight the threesome’s talent and versatility.
There are a handful of hard songs best categorized as aggressive rap-rock, with “Down” and “The War of Change” two prime examples. “Light up the Sky” is another tune from this vein, and one that is the most likely to become a radio hit. You’ll recognize a few of these from ESPN and EA Sports highlight reels.
“I Get Wicked” is an excellent hard-driving song with catchy guitar riffs and some fun memorable lyrics. “Let the Sparks Fly” is the best of the harder edged tunes. It features great guitar, the powerful freight train drums of Steve Augustine and fantastic vocals from songwriter and guitarist Trevor McNevan. “The End is Where We Begin” and “We Are” are two other solid rockers with excellent vocals and nicely layered guitars and bass from McNevan and Joel Bruyere respectively.
On the softer end of the spectrum, “All I Need to Know is just a great track featuring pristine acoustic guitar and mandolin and tender vocals from McNevan. It’s a beautiful song that should be a hit. “So Far Gone” has a similar feel and is another nice foot-tapping acoustic gem.
All told, The End Is Where We Begin, is a broad selection of powerful, passionate rock from a veteran rock band getting to do things their own way, and it works exceptionally well. Check it out on iTunes below, and let us know what you think.