Tag Archives: album review

REVIEW: Michael Persall – ‘400’ EP

michael persallMichael Persall kicks off his latest EP, 400, with “The Move,” an upbeat tune that perfectly captures a sweet courtship, all the while showcasing some of Persall’s enviable vocal talents. The indie-pop/rock single is radio worthy, with perfect timing, a happy-go-lucky charm, and a fantasy appeal, as evident in the music video. Persall has a definite presence to him, reminiscent of a 60’s frontman, as evident throughout the EP.

“I’ll Wait” has an irresistible blues/pop style, coming across like a modern uptake on “You Can’t Hurry Love,” with a cinematic, stand-out quality. It’s a guy who was too busy chasing other people to see the one in front of him, but coming around, and making his move, no matter how late it is. I can only imagine how well this song went down at one of the 400+ shows Persall played in NYC this year, after which the EP was named.

However, it’s the heartfelt and heartbroken sounds featured on “Doesn’t Make It Right,” that stand out the most. The track is the bitterness after the break-up; the narrative of a person who has been hurt, betrayed by someone he loved, who he thought loved him. Persall delivers an incredible performance on the song, with a vintage quality that makes it sound as though it could be straight off of a vinyl from the 60s. It is, hands down, the best track on the EP.

Persall caps it all off with the catchy, upbeat dance anthem, “Fine With That,” perfectly book-ending 400. The track will make you want to dance around the room, and maybe press the repeat button on the EP.

400 is out NOW.

For more on Michael Persall, please click here.

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REVIEW: Paper Hearts – ‘Portrait’ EP

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Boston-based pop-punk band Paper Hearts may be fresh on the scene, but they’ve already branded themselves with their debut EP, Portrait. From beginning to end, the four-piece band will charm its way into your earbuds…and maybe your new favorites list. Each track has a quality to it that will make you want to go and see the band live, like, yesterday.

The EP kicks off with the Warped Tour-esque set worthy “I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This,” which will have you jumping up and down. It’s pop-punk at its finest, with catchy lyrics, mosh-worthy moments, and plenty of wonderful guitar, much like “Remember The Day.” Both tracks are high-energy, and you can practically see the circle pit forming now. Telling the story of a first encounter, the latter track has group vocals, plenty of chances for the crowds to get involved, and delivers a strong performance, including a “rap” of sorts, showing the band’s versatility. However, it is the amazing, almost Aerosmith quality guitar solo and the undertone of the bass that really gives the song an added oomph.

Paper Hearts deliver plenty of energy on Portraits, including one track so pop-punk, I almost feel the need to cover one eye with stick-straight hair and wear a studded belt backwards all over again. “A Part of My Past” talks about friends that are always there, a town our narrator has to get out of, and a love that’s on the brink of ending badly; it’s pop-punk heaven…But where’s the pizza? Jokes aside, the back-and-forth vocals between Tyler Hamilton (vox, guitar) and Jeff Gustus (lead guitar, vox), alongside the harmonics, that really round out the song, and show a hint of the experimentation that we see on the bass-heavy “Save Yourself.” The track is reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold almost, with a heavier, more haunting sound, showcasing the band’s almost chameleon transition into another facet of their sound. Hamilton also has a shining moment, where he showcases his wonderful ability to convey emotion with every line. He has a real talent for it, and it makes “Save Yourself” all the more notable. Ben Ayer (bass) and Isaac Hiller (drums) seem to have fine-tuned their team effort about bringing the rhythm to almost pulse-like quality; there really is something to be said for subtlety.

The EP’s two “softer” tracks, “Follow You” and “Stay,” are stunning, melodic, building additions to the collection. I could play those two on repeat all day. “Follow You” is filled with beautiful acoustics and a raw quality that adds to the quality of the EP. It really is a highlight of the release, with vocal harmonies, an amazing guitar solo that will leave your jaw a little slack, and an overall strong presence to it. The latter is a piano-driven song, with an almost magical quality to it, perfectly contrasting with the heavier sound of electric guitars. It’s the kind of song that would leave you breathless during a live performance, and acts as the ideal finisher for Portrait.

Overall, Paper Hearts have produced an incredible debut EP with Portrait. It showcases their talent, versatility, and is a great glimpse of what we can expect from them throughout their career. And so far? We see a breakout act in the making.

Portrait EP is out now! Click HERE to purchase a copy.

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REVIEW: Marianas Trench – ‘Astoria’

marianas trench astoria

Marianas Trench are finally back with a new album: AstoriaIt has been well-worth the wait, I assure you. There is nothing rushed or sloppy about this album, which drops on October 23rd. The album plays out like a coming-of-age film, much as the band aspires, especially considering its multitude of Goonies references, and the strong 80’s presence that adds to the enjoyment of every track.

Each transition track could have been a part of a film score, or even deemed as the overture in a larger-than-life stage show.

“Astoria” kicks things off with a massive, cinematic introduction, and then the piano comes in, rounding out the already magical instrumentals. Josh Ramsay’s vocals come sweeping in beautifully, adding to the overall melodic tone. There’s a depth to this track that rings out like a banner to listeners, an anthem of sorts, and has an operatic feel as some points (one point actually reminds me of Queen). This song is revenge, lust, adolescence, and everything in between. For those of us that grew up on 80’s music still being played all the time, this track is perfection, going through multiple emotions, and finishing off with a sweet moment on the piano that feels like the red velvet curtain being lifted onto the most amazing stage show. 7 minutes isn’t long enough!

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REVIEW: Michael Jayson – ‘Running The Spectrum’ EP

michael jayson albumRunning The Spectrum kicks off with the catchy, piano-driven single, “Through Your Eyes.” The song is full of rich instrumentals with cinematic quality, and some stellar bass. With wonderful lyrics and an upbeat tone, this song is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, featuring an infectious optimism that provides a whisper of encouragement. Michael Jayson provides an ideal introduction to his sound. However, that’s not to say the singer/songwriter doesn’t show versatility, with tracks filled with more attitude, such as “Same As Me,” with an edgier undertone, almost reminiscent of a punk track. Then the folk presence comes out full gear. Instrumentally, it’s not got the same excitement or intricacy of its predecessor, but there is an honesty in the commentary of a modern relationship; knowing what’s too fast or too slow or how you’re “supposed” to feel, as well as just a plea to give a relationship a try. There’s something very late 90s-early 2000s about the track (think Tal Bachman).

“A Letter” features an entrancing guitar introduction; it’s a soft track with rhythm that comes in perfectly. The song is rich in quality, and the storytelling talents of Michael Jayson are more than evident on this track, with the idea of seeing how someone you once knew turning out how you’d imagined them, and feeling happy for them even if you’ll never see each other again. It could almost be the other side of the story on “Better Days.”  The former is pessimistic about a relationship that’s reached its end, but optimistic about leaving being for the best, developing an interesting contrast. “Better days are not coming ahead,” the song seems to say, like a plea not to waste time waiting for better days that may never come. It is a bold statement on the EP, but Michael Jayson takes it one step further…

Hands down one of the best tracks on Running The Spectrum, “What’s His Name” is edgier, bolder, and showcases an almost bitter side to Jayson, whose storytelling talents manage to get pushed the extra mile. Seemingly without trying, the song sets the scene both lyrically and instrumentally; I almost automatically picture a summer night with tension that you could cut with a knife. There is a sad theme of giving your all to someone who started out great, but is not backing away. “What’s his name” doesn’t really appear to be so much a question as a case of, “What’s his name walked out last night…” It’s almost like telling someone to forget the person, or saying that you’re living with a stranger.

“Second Thoughts” finishes Running The Spectrum off by coming back to the softness that seemed to start the album off, and, coincidentally, bringing the EP full circle. Again, the track features rich instrumentals; it’s a song about coming home, even if only in your mind. It is beautiful in its own right, and really makes the EP sound more like a success from start to finish.

As an introduction, I find Running The Spectrum to be a wonderful declarative statement of who Michael Jayson is as an artist. The more I listen, the more I find myself excited by the prospect of where he will end up on the spectrum himself (pun not intended).

For more on Michael Jayson or to pre-order Running The Spectrum, click HERE.

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REVIEW: DIVIDES – ‘Brokentooth’

Brokentooth Album Art

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce to you, THE NEXT BIG THING.

DIVIDES are poised for success with their new album, Brokentooth, a stunning display of instrumental versatility, vocal strength, and lyrical prowess. After just one listen, it’s hard not to be completely mesmerized.

“Holes In The Floor” kicks the album off with a perfect introduction, like tuning a radio to find a great, all-DIVIDES station, before booming to life with stellar vocals from CJ Marie (vox/keys), perfectly melding with solid instrumentals. The track effortlessly transitions into “Supersymmetry,” a ballad of sorts, featuring a bridge that showcases back and forth between CJ Marie and Joe Jackson (vox/bass). This is the first taste of the stunning harmonics, and the vocal chemistry between the two singers that make the album as infectious as it is.

We hear the pairing of CJ Marie and Defeat The Low’s Chris James on “Echoes Fade,” eliciting a nostalgic vibe reminiscent of early 2000’s rock hits, when the female-male vocal face-off was more of a guarantee than a surprise. There’s a raw, almost tangible emotion that DIVIDES seem to illustrate with such ease throughout Brokentooth; a rare gift in today’s scene. In fact, a highlight on the album has to be “Sails and Anchor,” where the band’s storytelling chops are on display, as well as their softer, more poetic side, breathing life into the idea of needing someone to ground us before we race away. The track is easily one of the strongest performances on the album, with true desperation heard in every note, although it has some competition with the heart wrenching, homesick emotion displayed on “Alpenglow.” The former is a short, but poignant track, with lines like, “And here there’s no snow, no star on the mountain to guide me, me home…,” and is an honest performance, if I’ve ever heard one.

However, DIVIDES shows no hesitance in also showing off their theatrics, on tracks such as “Siren,” which may start off slower, but brings the energy back full-force, becoming more hardcore in sound, and exploring a darker facet to the band’s personality in an aggressive, bold, and memorable way. The breakdowns are intense, and the lyrics are bitter, but so precise, it’s powerful (much like “Splay,” and “Brokentooth”), and Corey Rainey on drums adds an extra dimension to the festival-worthy sound.

The final two tracks, “Vines & Thorns” and “We Are Fragments,” seem to beautifully come together to form a steady climax and resolve to the album. “Vines & Thorns” brings Brokentooth to a moment of suspense as it fades out, leading into the synth-driven introduction of “We Are Fragments” without missing a beat. The guitar, courtesy of Bryan Calhoon and Paul Anderson, is fantastically done, and brings the album to an end that makes it feel as though it could be played on a loop and still flow perfectly.

With a strong, original sound, other band will face a struggle in attempting to beat DIVIDES’ Brokentooth for quality.

Brokentooth comes out on August 11th!

For more on DIVIDES, please click HERE. To purchase CDs or buy concert tickets, click HERE.

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REVIEW: Luke Maxim – ‘Stay’

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If you’re looking for an album that will make you melt, Luke Maxim’s Stay is it. For the majority, the album is comprised of covers, which just adds to his “Buble-esque” style. However, with original tracks like the upbeat “Sunshine,” Maxim brings jazz back in a whole new way.  His vocals are smooth like honey, and the gorgeous instrumentals behind him only add to this stunning track. It’s so refreshing to hear music like this again.

The title track of the album, “Stay,” is a subtly beautiful track, and each line just oozes this hypnotizing power. If you don’t melt listening to this, I have no hope for you. It’s a plea, an expression of restless fear, and the start of the madness love can cause. The track builds, and I find myself holding my breath waiting for the each verse, and the rich, lush instrumentals that encompass the song with this spine-tingling power. The theme of the madness of love seems to pop up a few times, with a cover of Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It,” and a duet, “More Than a Dream.” On the latter, the two vocalists match with raw power, which only builds alongside the music.

Each of Maxim’s covers presented on Stay add a whole new love to the songs that are already pretty much worshipped, like The Divine Comedy’s “Tonight We Fly” or the classics like “Tu Vuò Fà L’Americano,” and “I Can’t Give You Anything.” Maxim’s vocals are, for lack of a better phrase, on point. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is just as stunning as the Tony Bennet tune has always been, but it is his rendition of the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong,” and his male-version of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” that stand out as the strongest covers. They are truly magical, and add a whole other dimension to Maxim’s versatility. If you already love these songs, Maxim’s cover will only add to the adoration.

“Slow Down” is the ballad of a heartbroken man, who tried to fight for a love that wasn’t going to last, and who’s upset that his lover moved on so quickly. Maxim’s inflection on the chorus, backed by gorgeous harmonies, adds a truly magical depth to the track. Luke Maxim will hit the big time before you know it; this song instills that feeling. His versatility and talent are both showcased wonderfully on this album, although it would be nice to hear a fully original album. Whether or not that comes later, I guess we’ll see.

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REVIEW: BoyMeetsWorld – ‘Become Someone’

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It’s always interesting to me when I hear a band’s debut full-length. No matter how many of their EPs I listen to, the debut full-length always feels like hearing a new band for the first time…and it always makes me nervous. BoyMeetsWorld quickly push that fear away with their new album, Become Someone. The band manage to keep their familiar, fun sound, all the while showcasing fresh songs with skill.

Many tracks on the album beg to be heard at Warped Tour, which is lucky for the band, who will be debuting these songs on the Warped Tour this summer. “Feel It In The Air”  is an anthemic, pop-punk summer jam, with a strong introduction that sets the tone of the album. It’s admittedly similar to early-All Time Low, and sometimes even Simple Plan (“Moving On”), especially in some of its more melodic moments, but still has that BoyMeetsWorld originality that was so apparent on their earlier releases; they still don’t shy away from their pop-punk roots (“Still I Think,” “Rest Of Our Days”), and manage to continually pull off the “Peter-Pan-Never-Grow-Up” attitude. Brad Sulken on bass certainly adds that mosh-worthy element that creeps into the tracks.

“So In What?” reminds me of the days where my earbuds were permanently in my ears, and my iPod was glued to my hip. Craig Sulken utilizes more vocal play on this track; seems to capture young love pretty well, when “everything is going to work out.” There is more of a narrative, which definitely adds to the appeal of the track, and works well with the fantastic guitar solo that deserves every bit of praise, in fact, Andy Richter and Drew Thomason amp up the energy on this song brilliantly. “So In What? (Acoustic Bonus Track)” offers a completely different, softer side to the song, which makes the lyrics stand out for how beautifully they actually are, especially alongside the harmonies. The emotion of each line just becomes so much more poignant. You can hear that same quality on the minstrel-esque ballad of the album, “You I Belong To,” a surprise with brilliant melodics and rich instrumentals.

“Best You’ve Ever Had” is catchy, but jaded as hell; a commentary on the games that people tend to play in love, with an acoustic breakdown that really catapults the track into a great, energetic place when it comes back. Unrequited love at its finest; where was this song when I was in high school? “All Or Nothing” seems to explore a hardcore sound to start; definitely a moshercise track. It seems to be a romance turned sour; a bitter, “you screwed this up, now piss off,” anthem. Ryan Sulken shines on this track, helping to round out the group dynamic and set the back drop for the jaded track.

With the stunning “Interlude” track, the album’s title track, “Become Someone,” was set up for success. The song keeps up the high energy of the album, while adding more melodic moments. The band have perfectly captures the attitude of every “twentysomething” in today’s society. Much like “Where This Road Leads,” the track encourages listeners to take risks to become someone; lay it all on the line, all the while acknowledging the doubts and fears in every person, especially when a dream seems close yet nothing’s moving fast enough. “Become Someone” is probably one of the best tracks on the album, with powerful lyrics and vocals, and raw emotion behind every line, feeding beautifully into the acoustic breakdown. “Wake me from this nightmare, lately, I’ve been doubting myself, I’ve been doubting my whole life […] the best is yet to come, when will I become someone?[…]” Let’s just put this on repeat.

Become Someone, BoyMeetsWorld’s debut full-length, will be released on June 16th. Click HERE for more on the band, and check out their tour dates below:

BoyMeetsWorld Tour Dates:

June 12 | Cincinnati, OH | Bogart’s: Album Release Show & Warped Tour Send-Off Party

2015 VANS Warped Tour Dates (Playing every date)

June 19 | Pomona, CA Pomona | Fairplex
June 20 | Mountain View, CA | Shoreline Amphitheatre
June 21 | Ventura, CA | Seaside Park Ventura County Fairgrounds
June 23 | Mesa, AZ | Quail Run Park
June 24 | Albuquerque, NM | Isleta Amphitheater
June 25 | Oklahoma City, OK | Zoo Amphitheater
June 26 | Houston, TX | Reliant Park Main Street Lot
June 27 | Dallas, TX | Gexa Energy Pavilion
June 28 | San Antonio, TX | AT&T Center

July 01 | Nashville, TN | Tennessee State Fairgrounds
July 02 | Atlanta, GA | Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
July 03 | St. Petersburg, FL | Vinoy Park
July 04 | West Palm Beach, FL | Cruzan Amphitheatre
July 05 | Orlando, FL | Tinker Field
July 07 | Charlotte, NC | PNC Music Pavilion
July 08 | Virginia Beach, VA | Farm Bureau Live
July 09 | Pittsburgh, PA | First Niagara Pavilion
July 10 | Camden, NJ | Susquehanna Bank Center
July 11 | Wantagh, NY | Nikon at Jones Beach Amphitheatre
July 12 | Hartford, CT | Xfinity Theatre
July 14 | Mansfield, MA | Xfinity Center
July 15 | Darien Center, NY | Darien Lake PAC
July 16 | Cincinnati, OH | Riverbend Music Center
July 17 | Toronto, ON | Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
July 18 | Columbia, MD | Merriweather Post Pavilion
July 19 | Holmdel, NJ | PNC Bank Arts Center
July 21 | Scranton, PA | The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
July 23 | Cuyahoga Falls, OH | Blossom Music Center
July 24 | Detroit, MI | The Palace of Auburn Hills
July 25 | Chicago, IL | First Midwest Bank Amphitheater
July 26 | Shakopee, MN | Canterbury Park
July 27 | Maryland Heights, MO | Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
July 28 | Milwaukee, WI | Marcus Amphitheatre
July 29 | Noblesville, IN | Klipsch Music Center
July 30 | Bonner Springs, KS | Cricket Wireless Amphitheater

August 01 | Salt Lake City, UT | Utah State Fairpark
August 02 | Denver, CO | The Pepsi Center
August 05 | San Diego, CA | Qualcomm Stadium
August 07 | Portland, OR | Portland Expo Center
August 08 | Auburn, WA | White River Amphitheater

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REVIEW: The City Sound – Volume One (EP)

the city sound vol 1

I’m not big on surprises. I’ve never had a surprise party thrown for me, but I’m pretty sure I’d freak out. I don’t like when creepy crawlies surprise me by appearing in my room. However, there is one kind of surprise I really do like: when an artist surprises me, and The City Sound have done just that. With their new EP, Volume One, the Texas-based band pulled me in with just five songs. Each track has a power to it, and the band doesn’t shy away from showcasing their many talents from the get-go. “Keeping Me From Me” has a great fusion of melodics and a harder sound, all paired with PHENOMENAL vocals from Dean Barry, especially when you factor in the vocal harmonies.

On tracks like “Break The Mold” and “Almsman Circuit,” there’s an almost tangible angst, a frustration that steadily builds. “Break The Mold” leaves me feeling inspired, with the quietness of the vocals, and the wisdom of the lyrics. As the track picks up, I find myself feeling the angst that we all felt at fourteen stir inside of me. There is an artistic quality to the background of the tune, and the best is, it still feels like it links up with the first track. My nostalgia for the rock of the early 2000s, with clean vocals and edgy instrumentals, feels satisfied with the stunning work presented on this EP. However, it is really the lyrics that have me stopping in awe. “Phew,” indeed. The Madina Lake-esque “Almsman Circuit” is a bit harder in tone; a big, booming declaration in a chorus, with a transient sound, and solid bass, courtesy of Chris Reyes.

On “Live It Again,” there’s an incredible build of percussion from Chris Ellis that really pushes Dean’s vocal play. It’s an anthem, if I’ve ever heard one. This is what I picture kids screaming along to at concerts, pushing their fists into the air with adrenaline racing through them. The bridge sends shivers down my spine. When the song picks back up, it’s like getting off of a roller coaster and walking down a hill: a little disorienting. The guitar solo from Chris Ross adds a level of “festival worthy” to it, as well. However, it is “Just Like Everyone,” the finisher of the EP, that is poised to be a hit for the group. The instrumentals are incredible, there’s vocal play and distortion, and a more melodic sound with plenty of “ooh”s to make this an infectious, catchy track.

Volume One EP Is out NOW. For more on The City Sound or to purchase a CD, click HERE.

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REVIEW: The Cerny Brothers – ‘Sleeping Giant’

cerny brothers

If you’re looking for your soundtrack to run away from home or to move on with your life, The Cerny Brothers‘ Sleeping Giant is it! With stunning instrumentals, clever lyrics, and pure heart, the band manages to give words and swelling sounds to the little moments that leave us often struggling to formulate words.

“Porch Lights” is truly desperation to its core. This is every small town kid whose ambitions rattled in their chest like an caged animal. The track has a very powerful presence, and is a brilliant introduction to Sleeping Giant. It’s bright, and sets the album’s tone beautifully, perhaps even going against the title, and illustrating the “sleeping giant” awakening. Throughout the album, there appears to be a constant desire to run away, and explore life, seen on tracks like “The Kid,” and the band seems to do it without unnecessary “angsty” moments.

Despite the folk core, there is an element of classic rock to “Heart In a Bottle.” This is the kind of song that you drive down a long, seemingly-endless road, each line blaring in your speakers. The contrasting vocals remind me of listening to The Eagles as a kid and realizing that this was the sound I was missing; the sound I’d been looking for to describe everything. It’s expressive, raw, and has such an irresistible quality to it, especially when paired with the stunning storytelling element that remains consistent (“Tears Always Fall,” “Nightburn”), including indie rom-com epiphany soundtrack worthy tracks like “Leaving Town.”

However, it is the rich quality of “Shaking The Blues” that truly stands out. The song is fantastically written, with lines like, “Walkin’ around in these shoes, oh, I’m just trying to shake off these blues.” The blend of melodics and harmonics aid in the fusion of folk instrumental style and pure soul, once again showcasing The Cerny Brothers’ impressive storytelling chops (“I’m not your dad, I won’t leave what I have. It don’t matter what we go through…”). With tracks like “Shaking The Blues” and “Words Like a Rock,” it’s obvious that we can expect great things from this group, with their youthful sophistication (“I Want You Tonight”), and words of startling wisdom (“Middle of Winter”).

“Middle Of Winter” is so tongue in cheek, but also quite beautifully pieced together. It presents this idea of both a plea to work on a relationship and a desire to run away. The song documents what many of our grandparents already know: love is not just passion and the good times; love is work, especially when you add life on top of it. This is not where the band’s wise-beyond-their-years moment comes to a halt. On the soft, melancholy “Blue Blue Water,” listeners will be stunned by the gentle instrumental. This is the perfect illustration of doing everything you can to love someone and to prove yourself to someone, but coming up short. This comes across as either unrequited love, or a couple that’s broken up, and is still trying to move on. It’s got this raw, acoustic performance vibe to it; I can almost see the stool and single mic on stage, with one, pure spotlight.

“Lonely Seas” finishes Sleeping Giant off with the question: “Why am I sad if my life is so good?” With vocal play contrasting with simple instrumentals, the track is a great end for the album, seemingly reflecting the inward struggle of feeling bad and lonely, despite the fact that life isn’t as bad as it could be. But that’s why albums like this exist; to give words and melodies to the things we cannot describe. The more I listen to The Cerny Brothers’ Sleeping Giant, the more I find it to be a hauntingly brilliant piece of art.

Sleeping Giant is out NOW.

For more on The Cerny Brothers, please click HERE.

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REVIEW: Survival Guide – ‘Way To Go’

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Survival Guide begins their new album, Way To Go, with dance beats reminiscent of the 80s on “Ugly Side.” Emily Whitehurst’s vocals are impassioned with descriptive, bold lyrics, illustrating the idea of keeping people at a distance with an electronic splash of pop. By relating someone to a virus, Whitehurst weaves together a bittersweet tone, layering vocals that add an interesting harmonic effect, which can be seen on other tracks like “Remembered In a Song,” that packs a punch and allows the lyrics to really be felt. From the get-go, as well as throughout the album (“So Super Slow,” “Nowhere Anywhere”), Whitehurst showcases similarities to Blondie; in fact, a few tracks feel as though if Pat Benetar, Joan Jett, and Blondie’s Debbie Harry had a child, this is what it would sound like.

“Prohibition” is softer in tone, holding an innocent feeling to it at the start, with a ensue of eeriness, like The Shining in sound waves. The vocal distortion adds to the overall “trippy” feel, slightly repetitive, but it makes sense when she’s driving home her point of “how to solve your problems choosing alcohol.” However, she makes up for it when the track builds towards the end, bringing the track to a sensational close that feels like a cliff-hanger…of pessimism at its best on “Get Your Don’t,” which rocks with the bitter energy of someone that’s been there, contrasting with the upbeat rhythm and melodics of a beachy top 40 track.

That “expecting the worst” attitude seems to follow up on “January Shock,” but then just when you least expect it, Whitehurst turns it around, reminding listeners that even when you make silly mistakes or do things that you shouldn’t, “the sun will rise again, it happens over and over, because it’s not the end.” The rhythm on this track is stunning, acting as a brilliant precursor to the title track, “Way To Go,” on which the rhythm truly makes the song, especially when acting as an accompaniment to the vocal play that Whitehurst utilizes throughout the song. Featuring a mesmerizing, rich string instrumental, Survival Guide is entrancing. The lush addition settles over the song like the blanket of heat on your skin when you lay in the sun.

However, it is the two, more soulful additions to the album that are so striking. “One To One,” a bold, piano-driven, track features a soulful, pop-rock element to it, allowing Whitehurst to showcase her killer abilities, with brilliant lyrics, deep instrumentals, and an overall mystique. The song builds and it hits like a sonic boom; over in a flash, but you still feel the presence of it, which stays with you long into “Shrouded In Steel,” with its cabaret-like vocals. The track is a beatiful, startling addition to the album, and Whitehurst’s vocals soar on this track, with pure power. She proves herself to be an original, irreplaceable artist as the track picks up, showing two-sides to her persona.

If this is your first time listening to Survival Guide, Way To Go is the perfect place to start.

The album drops May 15th. For more on Survival Guide, click HERE. To purchase an album or tickets to see Survival Guide live, click HERE.

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