Straight-forward Southern guitar rock seems to be a sadly diminishing genre these days, but this weekend, I had the chance to enjoy some sweet, bluesy rock when Atlanta’s Brother Hawk made a soulful tour stop at Will’s Pub in Orlando.
Cranford Hollow is a talented rock outfit from Hilton Head Island with a wealth of distinctive influences that gives their music a special original sound, and on their new album St. Telluride, we get to see the talented band successfully pushing into new areas.
Man On Earth Album Review
I literally get dozens of albums a week in my InBox and it is basically impossible to listen to everything that comes through the mailbox, but this offering from Man On Earth, a band totally unfamiliar to me, caught my attention.
First, the email came from a band member, bassist Adam Root, and that always makes a positive impression to me, as I have a great deal of respect for hard-working passionate bands. Their bio mentioned linkages to three bands I have a great deal of appreciation for: Theory Of A Deadman, Fun., and Lenny Kravitz, and they have a relationship with a professional hockey team (sure it’s just the Islanders, but still…). Interest piqued, I downloaded the album and took it for a spin, and I was not disappointed.
The eponymously titled album is a fun offering that boasts big, powerful rock songs; music that should translate excellently on stage. At times gritty garage rock, pop punk and mainstream rock, it’s a nice mix of songs that will appeal to most active rock fans. We immediately get good insight into what the albums has in store for us with the hard-driving drums and aggressive bass line that kick-off the subtly titled first track, “Bang Bang Bitch.”
Throughout the album, the New York City band’s talent and diversity is frequently on display. “If Not Then, When” boasts searing guitars, and “On Our Own” is bouncy pop punk that rekindles fun memories of Sum 41. “We Are The Dreamers” is borderline sappy, but Steven Nathan’s vocals and lyrics are worthy of attention, and the tender Knopfler-esque guitar damn near beautiful.
My favorite track is the radio hit-in-waiting, “Lost In These Lights.” It’s a little slicker and poppier than most of the tracks. It’s a clean, well-produced, catchy tune that would feel perfect blasting through any car stereo.
As noted, there are a handful of highlights, but the record is at times a little uneven, and there are a few tracks that will get minimal play on my iPod, but overall, it’s an album worth owning from a band that should be on the radar of rock fans throughout the country.
Check out the album on iTunes:
Jupiter Falls – Revolution
6 months? Are you kidding me? After my first listen to Leeds’ based quintet Jupiter Falls, I was surprised to learn that the band had been formed a mere six months earlier. The album sounds like the polished work of a seasoned American hard rock band, not the debut offering from a new group out of the UK.
Although the band is new, these guys are veterans of the rock music scene, and accomplished musicians at that. Fans of Avenged Sevenfold, Shinedown and Metallica are going to love Revolution. The music on their UNIR1 debut is a cross between classic hard rock and modern heavy alt-rock. Lead singer James Hart reached out via Facebook to guitarist Deano Silk and the core pieces were quickly put into motion; ultimately leading to the creation of the band, and this, their excellent first release.
The album highlights the band’s diversity; at times they sound like 70’s or 80’s classic rock, current era Alt-hardcore, or turn of the century metal. Fantastic guitar work, memorable licks and powerful vocals are consistent throughout.
The album kicks off with “Awake,” a futuristic sounding opus, where aggressive drums and nicely layered guitars accompany Hart’s vocals in a song reminiscent of early Avenged Sevenfold. Two songs later, hard driving drums and an infectious guitar drive the band on “To The Point,”a track that clearly shows the Shinedown influence on the band.
One of my favorite tracks is “Forgiven,” a song that brings back great memories of late 80’s heavy metal rockers Danzig. It’s powered by a dark gloomy guitar, but unlike Danzig classics, this one has excellent uplifting vocals that add a melodic twist. Love the stark guitar in the beginning of the song. It’s just a fantastically constructed selection, and one with the potential to become a signature track.
“End of the World” is an aggressive hard rocking cut, and “World War Three” is an excellent and memorable power ballad. On “Story Of A Liar” we are treated to something totally different. The lead from Silk is creative and catchy and meshes exceptionally with the rhythm guitar. It’s my favorite guitar work on the album, although I really liked the opening riff on “When the Time is Right,” and the intricate solo “Lei e quella” and… OK, it;s just a damn good guitar album.
For sure, it’s not a perfect album, but the majority of the cuts are very strong; it’s probably the best hard rock debut album I’ve heard in a few years. This band is just dripping with potential and I can’t wait to see their live show.
In an era where so much of the current rock coming out of the UK is watered down and ultra-poppy (yet sometimes still good), this is an extremely welcome change of pace. At times a comfortable flashback and at other times cutting edge genius, it’s a welcome addition to the rock music landscape, and one that has the potential to be one of the seminal albums of this genre.
Check out the album below and let me know your thoughts.
Rock And Roll Animal
The Amends – What We Could Be Album Review
The second full-length release from this talented band out of the Denver/Boulder area delivers big. It’s a strong album offering a nice meshing of modern Indie Rock with a tasteful mixture of 70’s classic rock. These guys pull it off nicely in a diverse offering with a little bit of everything. If they weren’t already on your new music radar, they damn well should be. The Amends unabashedly claim they “just want to be your 11th Favorite Band.” With this release, they just might be on track.
The quartet first caught my attention a few years ago with the addictive “Dance” off of their eponymous debut album. In What We Could Be, we see the band offering similar songs, as well as displaying a more robust sound. At times, I found myself thinking of 60’s Souk, classic 70’s British Rock, 80’s Southern Rock and 80’s Alt-Rock – a bit schizophrenic for sure, but it works.
This is not subtle dinner music, but rather hard driving rock best served over cranking headphones or blasting speakers. It’s true guitar rock with every song offering up a different twist on the band’s powerful creative guitar playing.
I found that the best tracks had a more modern Indie rock feel to them. “A Certain Speed” is a rollicking ride powered by hard driving drums and energetic guitars that evokes memories of The Black Keys. It’s a blast to listen to and a great driving song. The introspective “More To Give” was my favorite track. It’s guided by a sweet piano hook and tender vocals from Drew Weikart. The song is a potential hit with great hopeful lyrics guaranteed to hook you in.
“Second Take” is a soulful rocker with gritty vocals. It’s one of many songs with superb guitar and nice solos. On this one, the guitars ebb and flow nicely before screaming home with a breakneck closing. Tyler Taylor and Weikart are masterful on this one, and throughout the entire album. “Make It So,” is cool garage stomp where a stand out bass line dominates the song coupled nicely with interesting and addictive lyrics.
“It’d Be Nice” offers a nice Southern rock vibe with a killer groove and excellent vocals. This one reminds me of another strong 2013 offering, The Delta Saints’ Death Letter Jubilee. It also conjures up memories of old school Doors and Aerosmith. Another catchy offering is “Dreamer,” a show case for Weikart and an excellent song with a smooth summertime vibe and a fun surf rock feel to it.
The album offers a few slower songs and a couple of jams and they work with mixed results. The best of the slower songs is the tender “When She’s Gone,” a piano driven ballad with nice harmonies. “Desperate Times” is another choice offering that has a swanky slowed down beat and addictive vocals. It’s one of those tunes that seems likely not to be a smash hit on the radio, but one that will become a timeless classic for fans of the band.
There are a few uninspiring songs on the album, but the great majority are strong offerings well worth a listen. Check out the album below and remember to crank it to 11, I think you’ll like what you hear. You can pick it up on the band’s official site for a ridiculously cheap $5.00!