Category Archives: Reviews

Tanner EP Review

NYC indie rocker Tanner is making a splash onto the music scene with the recent release of his debut self-titled EP. This New York local tells stories of addiction, love, and heartache with upbeat choruses and rocking lyrics. “Where You Go” kicks everything off as a slow but beat appreciating compilation intro to the rest of the tracks. Up next we have “Satellite,” a soothing ballet of guitars, drums, and heartfelt vocals. “Come Alive” is definitely the heart and highlight of this EP, with a catchy chorus, steady beat, and perfectly timed guitar solo, it’s only a matter of time before this song is being played on radio stations across the nation. Rounding out the last half are the two tracks “Lonely Girl” and “Slow Release,” both of which continue what “Come Alive” started, tempting the listener to get off his/her feet and just have a good time. Ending the EP is “Mend,” a slow emotional but rhythmatic tune which showcases a very talented musician in Tanner both lyrically and instrumentally.

Be sure to check out Tanner’s Facebook page for updates and pick up a copy of his EP out now! Also, you can watch the videos for his 2 singles “Come Alive” and “Where You Go” on his YouTube channel (links below).

-Annette V.


Chelsea Grin “Ashes To Ashes” Album Review

Chelsea Grin just came out with their new album Ashes To Ashes. This album is very different then what they were putting out in the past. The vocals are more musical and the lyrics are a lot easier to understand and relate to. The first track, “Playing With Fire,” starts off the album on a rapid hardcore start, saying that they are fed up with society and that it should be rid of the negatives and release us from conformity, “cleansing all the hate of the wicked. Liberate our life from oppression.” The following track just amplifies that feeling saying “we’re all living a lie” and that we are fed up being treated “like puppets” and we need to “take control” or just give up. Musically, each song is quite different but still have some similarities in the bass and drums to keep them all coherent with each other. This album is very unique to Chelsea Grin and seems to be a cleaner and clearer one as well. This band has done a great job from every level, lyrics to bass line, everything fits perfectly like a puzzle.

-Raquel P.

Hodera “Reset to Default” EP Review

New Jersey based quartet Hodera released their debut EP “Reset to Default” on June 17th. Matt Smith’s vocals accompanied by the raw and simple guitar riffs make this five-track EP an easy listen. Right off the bat, “Just My Instinct” welcomes us with a soft acoustic introduction that sets the tone for the rest of the album. This band is nothing short of talented, and each song holds a different message with a different listening experience.

It is very rare that I see a band with this much potential and if they continue what they’ve been doing, they’ll set themselves up for headliners in the near future. After the easygoing track “Tell Me Something I Can Do,” “Creative Comfort” speeds up the EP enough to forget what you’re doing and really listen to the poetry this foursome wrote. When I was listening to this track, I could not only hear the passion through the vocals and the lyrics, but I could feel it.

After thoroughly listening to “Reset to Default,” I could tell they were being their own band and not trying to merely copy another band’s style. With creative lines such as “microwave my frozen heart” the message of love and heartbreak became clear and relatable. “She Knows Because She Read It In A Book Once” is the perfect finisher to this EP because it ties all loose ends and leaves you wanting more. While I was listening to this track, I couldn’t help but wish it were in the ending of an indie romance film that I could watch over and over when I get sad and lonely. It’s one of those songs that you cling to and want to make your own.

My favorite part of the entire EP was at the very end of the fifth track with their short outro track. I fell in love with the acoustics of the song and couldn’t help but hum along.

All in all, Hodera’s debut EP made me wish I lived in New Jersey just so I could see them live all the time. I can’t wait to see what they hold for the future. For such a new band, they really seem to know what they want. Keep doing what you’re doing, boys. It’s working!

-Brooke B.

Heart to Heart “Dulce” Album Review

Everyone has a few bands that mean a lot to them. Not just bands that you enjoy seeing or listening to once in a while, but a band that has albums or a few songs that really hit home. For me, Heart to Heart has become one of those bands in a quick year.

Heart to Heart’s 2012 self-titled release is a hard album to describe. The album reaches back to post-hardcore and some of the emo sounds of the early 2000s. One moment, Heart to Heart can be can be catchy pop-punk. The next, you might find yourself screaming along to Nick Zoppo’s grungy screams with explosive lines like, “Look at you swallowing my soul” and “I ruined you, and you ruined me!” The self-titled album easily reached its way into one of my favorite albums of recent times.

The first few listens I gave to Dulce felt somewhat hit and miss. Dulce opens with “A.M.F.,” a song which feels like a fitting introduction to Heart to Heart’s unique post-hardcore/punk-pop sound. Songs like “A.M.F.” are what Heart to Heart does best; poppy choruses broken up by hard-hitting moments. At first, the next two tracks felt like padding compared to later tracks, but the album has grown on me since. There isn’t a song on Dulce that I can pass off as ‘bad.’ However, some tracks don’t seem to hold up to the same greatness as songs like “Firefly” and “Bad Habits.”

Nick’s lyrics seem a bit darker this time around, but just as honest and catchy as fans have come to expect. Unfortunately, backup vocals are noticeably lacking in comparison to the band’s previous work. I’m a sucker for bands that can pull off songs with dual vocalists frequently, but the band doesn’t seem keen on more than a few verses and frequent layered harmonies. This doesn’t make the album poorer in quality, but does present a noticeable change in style.

One of my favorite parts of Dulce is the inspiration the band very clearly draws from. While “Daydream” sounds like something off of A Day To Remember’s Homesick, “Black Widow” sounds like Senses Fail thrown into Heart to Heart’s pop-punk blender. Even Brand New and Taking Back Sunday’s material can be heard in songs. Heart to Heart’s decision to draw from such different influences really pays off. Dulce even dabbles around in progressive structure in “Black Widow” which I hope to hear more of. The song’s three parts move from a slow ballad to a thrashy breakdown before closing with piano that fits perfectly.

While I was very reluctant to enjoy Dulce at first, the album is a greatly polished ride from start to finish.  From the album’s start, I’ve barely hit the skip button in my 10+ plays of Dulce. Even if the album doesn’t seem to soar quite as high for a few minutes, Heart to Heart’s knack for key changes and loud moments easily do the band justice. If you’re not into a song on the album, wait a few moments and see if there is something you like. Chances are there will be. Here’s to hoping for more albums with Dulce’s quality and thoughtfulness in the future.

-Sarah W.

The Dead Rabbitts “Shapeshifter” Album Review

The Dead Rabbitts’ album Shapeshifter takes Craig Mabbitt and TJ Bell’s band Escape The Fate to the next level. The Phoenix, Arizona based band have a bright future ahead of them. The album hits home for metalcore enthusiasts of all kinds. Shapeshifter sounds like someone took Blessthefall and The World Alive and put them into one. (Which I later looked up to find that is what Craig Mabbitt himself said about the band.)

I was ecstatic when I found out that Craig Mabbitt was creating this side project, I love Escape The Fate but I always felt like I needed more and Shapeshifter is exactly what I’ve been looking for. The Dead Rabbitts is a perfect band to jump around and release emotions to. The album tells a story of regret, reject, change, and waking yourself up to the world around you. The album begins with the song “My Only Regret” which hooks listeners in from the very start. Listening to the song “Shapeshifter,” the ending brings chills to my skin. The album itself is filled with hooks and harmonies that don’t let the listener go. Fans of Blessthefall, Escape The Fate, The World Alive, Motionless In White and Eyes Set To Kill should definitely check out this album when it drops in stores.

Every song has something that sets it apart from the rest on the album, and every song is filled with emotion. The album has a very aggressive and ‘pissed off’ sound which Craig Mabbitt had told Alt Press. Craig has wanted to make something of this sound but had never gotten the chance until now. Shapeshifter is definitely an album worth listening to. You’ll either hate it, or you’ll love it and I see more people taking the loving it side. The album is set to drop in stores July 1st but you can find the singles “Shapeshifter” and “My Only Regret” on Tragic Hero Record’s YouTube channel (link below). You can also catch the band on tour this summer June 20th to July 26th, 2014 with main support band The Relapse Symphony along with Myka Relocate and Nightmares.

-Mya T.

Candy Hearts “All The Ways You Let Me Down” Album Review

In a way, women in the alternative rock scene are seen as revolutionary. Sure, there seems to be a scarce amount of lead women in bands these days, but following Paramore, VersaEmerge, and We Are The In Crowd, women in the scene only seem to be getting stronger. After seeing Candy Hearts in Seattle, I was a bit disappointed with the diversity in their songs. Everything sounded the same. Shrugging them off was probably the biggest mistake I made that night. After having the pleasure of listening to their new record, All The Ways You Let Me Down, I realized their full potential. The simplicity of their lyrics mixed with their ‘90s punk sound threw me back to my “wannabe 90’s kid” days. Songs such as “The Dream’s Not Dead” and “Brooklyn Bridge” will make everybody’s foot tap no matter who they are, and “Something’s Missing” will have a message for everyone. Candy Hearts’ minimal metaphors make for simple relatable messages and an easy-to-listen-to attitude that everybody will enjoy to some degree.

 Candy Hearts is not quite a headliner band yet, but they are perfect for opening. Give them a couple years and they’ll be the band that people demand encores from. This is only the beginning for this east coast triad.

Be sure to check out their Facebook page for upcoming tour dates! All The Ways You Let Me Down is now available on iTunes.

-Brooke B.

IONIA “Captain Humility” EP Review

Hailing from the Big Apple, five-piece IONIA are releasing their debut EP titled Captain Humility. The band recorded with the esteemed producer Mike Sapone, who has worked with Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. The band brings a more mature type of punk rock to the table, filtering through the genres and creating their own. They easily capture the minds of the listeners and delve into their psyche, bringing out a plethora of emotion through their hard hitting lyrics and raw instrumentals.

If you like Brand New, you will absolutely love IONIA. The two bands are similar, but IONIA put a twist on their lyrics and sound that make them strikingly different against Brand New. They’ve crafted their individuality extremely well through this EP, and leave me begging for more. It starts off with “Captain Humility,” using raw and edgy instrumentals to craft an emotional story of damage and regret. The next song, “They Look Like Big Strong Hands Don’t They” provides a softer edge for the band, but still keeps the initial edge and strain that they produce. The acoustics are simple, but with filtered vocals and other ear catching sounds, they create a nostalgic and eerie feeling. The EP ends with “Delusions of Grandeur,” which picks the EP back up with a final bang. The song pumps the listener up and captures their complete attention with the intense drums and strained vocals.

Captain Humility is something you need in your collection. The EP comes out June 24th, and I am sure that is not the last you will hear of IONIA!

– Erin M.

the When “Cycles of Time” EP Review

With trumping synth tones and a psychedelic rhythm, the When’s new EP Cycles of Time takes electronic music and twists it into a new conceptual genre, one I can only say is a fantastic mix of Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. (Looking at the Facebook page after I wrote this, I saw that he had also described himself using those bands. Completely coincidental, but further prove that he’s on the right track.) Matthew Kourie is the mastermind behind the synth-rock masterpiece, with his influences of the 80s and 90s twisting into the new era of electronic music.

Starting off the EP, “The Wishing Well” shows the listeners exactly what the When are all about. It paints a colorful and emotional picture of tones and moods. The layering of his voice over the hypnotic sounds only further creates the eerie and dissident tone that listeners are looking for. The next song, “Let It Go,” does the same, but in a strikingly different way that really sets the When apart from the rest. In a genre of music that’s hard to make every song have a personality and sound different, he nails it on the head with diversity, yet keeping the familiar sound. Both songs draw out intense, philosophical stories that go beyond just any song.

I can honestly say this is one of the most diverse and exciting works I’ve listened to in a while. My love for Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails run deep, and I’ve personally been looking for something new to fill my need for this sort of music. the When completely decimate any genre with these progressive tracks. When most people hear the words ‘electronic’ and ‘synth,’ they think of the EDM-fist-pumping-ravers, but the When blow that stereotype out of the water with the rhythmic discordant tones and hypnotic sounds. It transcends listeners back to the era of 90s progressive rock and underground techno.

-Erin M.

Ballyhoo! Halo EP Review

Baltimore based Ballyhoo! are debuting their new EP just in time for the summer ahead of them. Halo brings the fans the sense of warm summer nights, painting a picture of driving with the windows down or sitting around a huge bonfire. Especially with their own rendition of “Lazy,” originally by Bruno Mars, it sends the fan a message of: it’s finally summer.

Initially, I was excited to see Ballyhoo! putting out something new in time for summer. They’re the perfect band to get pumped up to and are never ones to disappoint. The EP starts off with “Halo, a song that is blatantly upbeat and uplifting, depicting a story of love and hopefulness in a relationship. They have a fundamental rock feel, with light reggae coloring the background. The instrumentals along with lead singer Howi Sprangler’s voice are the perfect melody mix of an exultant attitude with an optimistic ring. It has the classic reggae beat, engaging the song in the true color of the band’s sound.

Their cover of “Lazy” is especially good, authenticating it to its core. Since Bruno Mars’ original is so close to their own sound (but more pop), the band has switched up the rhythms to a more rock sound, with a great guitar intro that intrigues the listener. The classic reggae is in the undertone, a decent amount to still show us that this is Ballyhoo!. The way they incorporate their own sound is extremely unique and well done. It is definitely one of the better covers that you’ll hear, any day.

Ballyhoo! are touring this summer all over the country, and they are a band completely worth seeing. They’ve got a high energy stage presence and put their best into every show. This summer’s tour is called #SuperHappyFunMoney, and they are playing select shows with big names such as 311 and Sublime With Rome. Halo comes out June 17th.

-Erin M.

Niece “Doubts” Single Review

Imagine chilling in a dimly lit basement adorned with Led Zeppelin pictures and Farah Fawcett’s classic red bathing suit pinup poster. There’s a smoky haze and the smell of reefer in the air and everyone in the room is seemingly transported on a mind-altering lyrical journey as the vinyl continues to spin out its 14 minute psychedelic power jam.  With their avant-garde style of music and incorporation of 1970’s progressive rock elements, UK hard rock band Niece is providing fans a throwback to the sounds of genre-bending rock epics and abstract lyrical sagas. Their debut single “Doubts” is a small taste of the massive potential these neo-prog rockers have at their helm.

“Doubts” touches upon hard rock and psychedelia, but at its core are soulful blues tones that elevate the single to new heights and transform the piece into something exceptional.  The song starts off with a dulcet jazzy intro. The sultry line picks up speed and crescendos into a groovy blues rock jam that carries on until the end. It’s powered by Sachio Ishigaki’s insanely slick basslines, riffs from Chrisian Morris, and Tom Roberts’ confident and steady drum beats.  Lead guitarist and backing vocalist Paul Heavy is unbelievable, almost channeling the sounds Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimmy Page. Central to “Doubts” appeal are the impressive vocals of front man Dan Wilson Stone, slightly reminiscent of Queen of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. His powerful and seductive vocals intertwines beautifully with the trippy lyrics, such as “Gather round and tell a tale of how you’ve done so well and we all failed. Said count the wind in my sails and blow me away with what you exhale. Tired eyes and hungry mouth cutting holes in the pockets of everyone else. A waste of time to talk about, because all I talk about is myself.” At times “Doubts” does sound like a throwback to Cream or Zeppelin, but rather than creating a parody of blues and prog rock past, Niece finds a balance between 70’s nostalgia and new-age hard rock melodies.

“Doubts” is a finely woven tapestry of old and new, with a heavy blues influence, galloping riffs, intricate bass lines, and trippy stoner-rock sounding lyrics. Can’t wait to hear what’s next from Niece. If they continue to churn out more expansive jams, it won’t be long before they’ve joined the ranks of other neo-blues and progressive rock dynamos. Fans of Cream, Them Crooked Vultures, Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age, Stevie Ray Vaughn,  Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Derek and the Dominos, or Dead Meadow check out Niece’s debut single, “Doubts,” because it’s vintage inspired, blues infused hard rock for intelligent humans played at its absolute best.

-Lauren L.