Not As Cool As I Thought I Was by The First Rule Will Start Off the Day Right

Not As Cool As I Thought I Was is an intriguing collection of songs by the punk-rock band The First Rule. It encompasses a range of emotions from hope and nostalgia to contempt and rage. Each song left a unique impression on me and after replaying them several times, I decided to listen to their earlier music to provide a comparison. Half of the six songs on this extended player are as unapologetically punk-rock as ever, the other three lean gracefully toward their rock cousins, Indie and Metal.

“Better Days” begins the set with a fierce intro that showcases the talent of drummer Mike Wynn Jr. The track mellows by some degrees before lead singer Nick O’Malley launches into the positively uplifting message that the title suggests. With lyrics like “Life ain’t a race. Do what you want, take it at your own pace” it’s a tune that will start off the day right. This is a fast-paced, feel-good song with a great message about self-acceptance and living life to the fullest. Present throughout this EP is the familiar thread of optimism and social commentary that I know and appreciate in my favorite punk bands.

“High On Your Love” describes the type of relationship that all lonely, romantic souls crave. It’s a love song that will catch you with a cozy, Modest Mouse-like melody and hold you with its adorable expression of unconditional love. O’Malley’s low, recitative singing style fits well with the sentimental indie sound on this track, making it one of my favorites. My one critique has to be that the harmonization between the lead and backup voice, though an effective tool, could use some polish.

“It’s Never Too Late” is all nostalgia for me. Good Charlotte, Blink 182, there’s an unmistakable resemblance to classic punk-rock and the uplifting adult angst sound is invigorating. The upbeat tempo of the drums is matched by the quick downstroke of an electric guitar that never misses a beat. With lyrics about overcoming a toxic, failing relationship, it’s a must hear for anyone who is on an upward climb through life or simply struggling for the moment.

“My Time” has been caught in a loop in my brain since almost immediately after listening to it. It’s not a long track but the instrumentals hit hard, shining the light on Bo Ledman and Chelsea Corrin, the band’s skilled guitarists. This is an anthem centered on ambition and the path to success that we all travel, or attempt to. The inclusion of female singer Tawny Mitchell heightens the sound and provides an almost Evanescent quality. It’s an exceptional song that anyone can relate to, especially those of us whose calling is of an artistic nature.

“Nerd Rage” is a fun and silly mashup of punk themes and unrepentantly nerdy references. From video/p.c. games and card games to movies and anime, the message is Nerds Unite! and it’s one that I can get behind. Once upon a time being a nerd was an insult, and to some extent, it still is, which is baffling when in reality all things ‘nerdy’ are awesome. This song says ‘eff your straight edge standards,’ and I support it wholeheartedly.

The First Rule’s new EP is worth a listen from any punk-rock fan. It left me curious and eager to hear what other music they’ve been working on. I would love to catch more of that dreamy, indie-rock sound from them. There’s something for everyone here and I defy an audience to listen to these tracks and not get at least one of them stuck in your head.

Mercury Retrograde by Tantric Hit Me Right In The Feels

Despite the message of not being angry, there is a lot of anger in the opening track to Tantric’s new album Mercury Retrograde, “Angry”. I particularly enjoyed the song’s lively outro. The lyrics and melody were an excellent way to introduce me to Tantric and their alt-metal/alternative style.

I love the opening guitar riff on “Tether,” it’s dark and minor and the bassline has a real low and gothic, AFI feel. The lyrics and melody in the chorus are very catchy and powerful. I’m about to show my age here, but this track would have fit in perfectly on Q101 or at a “Twisted” concert. I can definitely see myself in the smokey crowd rocking out.

With “Get ‘Em  All,”  I thoroughly enjoyed the Days of the New-style clean tone that guides the sound in the lead guitar through. I love the Hendrix sound effect on the guitar for the solos, it fits in perfectly with the rest of the track. “I like to kill but not enough to save you from your demise” is my favorite lyric on the album. It’s very clever and spiteful.

“Lie Awake” is a track I wasn’t expecting, nor was I expecting to love. The lyrics are delivered in a rap-rock style (which normally I don’t care for, but there are ALWAYS exceptions to my tastes) that leads into the Alice in Chain’s-like, double melodic chorus that will definitely be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

“My Forever” provides a well-timed little cool down after some really intense songs. This song is perfectly placed in the album. The heartfelt lyric, “how does an average person take it all if happiness is all the moments between the struggle? How can we face them all?” hit me directly in the feels all three times I went back to make sure I quoted it correctly.

“The Last Stumble” is another perfect 90’s alternative track. “They find a way to comprehend,” is a lyric that rings true with me, and I am more than sure will with anyone who listens to this song. The guitar solo in the middle eight is nothing short of impeccable, every note is perfectly placed and flows extremely well.

I’m ecstatic that they also included an acoustic version of “My Forever” at the end of the album. I can’t wait to learn this song on the guitar and make all my friends swoon, because this song is awesome. The acoustic version is just as powerful as the electric. The violins add a beautiful kind of sadness that helped to give me the feels at my favorite lyric from the original.

Overall, Mercury Retrograde is a fantastic album and I genuinely can’t wait to see what their fans think. Every lyric and melody is powerful, it’s extremely well recorded, and I can’t forget to mention the incredible drumming on every track (it would have been redundant to say the same thing about how in awe I was of the drumming in every paragraph, so I saved it for the end).

Morph by KRASHKARMA is What it Must Feel Like to be Frankenstein’s Monster

With hard-hitting guitar, strong lyrics and haunting vocals, “Wake Them Up” is a powerful opening song to KRASHKARMA’s brand new album Morph. This is the first KRASHKARMA song I’ve heard, and boy was I impressed. The lead singers sound perfect together and their harmonies are impeccable. As far as introductions go, “Wake Them Up” was probably the best title for a song they could have come up with, as it definitely woke me up to the kickass alternative metal that is KRASHKARMA.

“Stranded” explores the talents of lead singers Niki Skitsmas and Ralf Deital in great detail. Ralf’s hard and raspy chorus vocals are a perfect juxtaposition to the smooth and melodic verses from Niki. “Stranded” also has a solid instrumental that showcases the duo’s hard-rock sound, and skills in the studio.

“Footsteps” opens up with an 80’s-rock-ballad feel that transforms into a quick-drumming punk song for the first verse, and back to an epic ballad for the chorus. The lyrical content and melody is particularly worth mentioning, especially in the heartfelt chorus.

“The Forgotten” hits you right in the face with its opening instrumental. With a theme of loneliness, this song not only hits home, it’s an anthem for the downtrodden and forgotten. As they scream “we die alone!” at the end of the song, the sentiment can very much be felt.

“Mechanical Heart” is another showcase of the band’s perfect vocal harmony. For those of us that have been through hard times and heartache, Mechanical Heart has just the right amount of spite to be relatable in a truly human way. We’ve all felt the kind of anger that Niki is talking about and this song is the perfect outlet for it.

“Morph into a Monster” is my initial favorite song and my Guitar Hero Pick of the Album! The lighting quick palm muting in the verses are filled with energy, while the monstrous backing vocals I liken to what it must feel like to be Frankenstein’s monster. There is a palpable force and power behind this song that is undeniably monstrous.

The opening instrumental for “Bury Me Alive” has pleasantly surprising harmonic guitar moments that I really appreciated as a stylistic choice. This song’s lyrics and energy are not playing around. The chorus is loud, harmonic and strong to the point that you feel it in your chest in only the way a great song can accomplish.

“Way In/Way Out” brings down the energy a with an acoustic song that shows off Ralf’s melodic side with Niki singing backup. I personally love acoustic songs in the middle of rock albums and “Way In/Way Out” is the perfect addition to Morph. I love the chorus lyrics “the way out is the way in, do you ever wonder?” That lyric and melody deeply resonated with me, as lyrics tend to do without warning sometimes.

“War” also has a powerful message. I love the way the verses act as a calm before the storm, leading into the chorus. Another song that does an admirable job of ramping up and taking down the energy at will, “War” starts out slow and in the background, and then explodes with energy. The falling ash imagery and hard-hitting lyrics about internal struggle give this song an impassioned feel throughout.

Morph by KRASHKARMA was undoubtedly the number one way to introduce myself to the Los Angeles band and all of their immense talent, and I am very much looking forward to delving into the rest of their catalogue. If you are looking for a solid hard rock album that has a ton of personality, then you will definitely want to put Morph into rotation as soon as possible. Morph and the rest of KRASHKARMA’s albums are available on Spotify and wherever music is available to stream.

For the Fallen by Ironcore Resistance Hits You in the Chest Like Tribal War Drums

As a whole, Ironcore Resistance is a band that is extremely in-your-face and filled with rage. All of the instrumentals on For the Fallen are incredible. I’m a big fan of guitar and bass that’s been tuned down to give a band that heavy crunch that sits in the pit of your stomach, and Ironcore Resistance has incorporated seamlessly it into their style.

“Drive” is an angsty song that takes rage to the next level. I particularly enjoyed the bridge in which lead singer David Willie gives an impassioned speech about how it feels when life puts the squeeze on you. The vividly descriptive lyrics are delivered with the same rasp as the rest of the verses, yet remain unmistakably unique from the rest of the song.

“Tears of Yesterday” brings the tone down a little bit with an Everlong-style opening instrumental. This song really explores the singer’s range with a melodic pre-chorus that builds up to a large and grandiose chorus. I also appreciated the way the instrumental followed suit.

“Rise” is a politically-poised track that calls for resistance to the status quo and those that would oppress. While displaying the bleakness of the political world, there is still a very positive message of “we can be the vessels of change” that’s apparent within the scope of the song. The breakdown portion of “Rise” is filled with energy as Willie screams “put your fist up!” over a hardcore instrumental.

“Sanity Ends” is an apropos title for this song, offering a sense of dismay within its structure. With classic rock and roll tones attached to well-placed notes, the headbanging solos provided by guest guitarist, Virus (of DOPE and Device) are off the charts (say hello to my “Guitar Hero Pick of the Album”). Coinciding with the energy in the song, the drummer does an excellent job of both cutting through and blending with the rest of the bridge.

“Lost” is another song with a well thought out title. The lyrics do an admirable job of exposing the listener to the sense of loss behind their intended meaning. As the tempo of the song slows down bar by bar, “Lost” continues to make you feel like you’ve been trapped in your mind’s own labyrinth.

“Halfway There” has my favorite instrumental on For the Fallen. The song has a slower intro that propels you into the ramped up the energy of the verses and choruses. I suggest paying particular attention to the bassline in this song, it’s smooth, technical, and elaborate while hitting your chest like tribal war drums.

If you are looking for an album that will provide you with an outlet through which your range can be expressed, you will want to play For the Fallen by Ironcore Resistance as many times as possible. Not only will you be listening to intense, rage-filled lyrics, you’ll be smacked in the face by the impeccable instrumentals. While they are impressive in their technical instrumental skills, more importantly, the instrumentals are audibly appealing to my ears. Which to me, is more impressive than all the technical skill in the world. Fortunately, with For the Fallen by Ironcore Resistance, you get an incredible, unique blend of music without sacrificing either.

For the Fallen by Ironcore Resistance is available now through all music streaming outlets!

Neüstonia by Burn River Burn Would Fit Right Into A 90’s Slasher Movie

Combine early Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden instrumentals and lyrics with alternative-metal vocals and melodies, and you have Neüstonia by Burn River Burn. You could almost craft a The Wall-like horror movie around the mood this album impressively cultivates. Imagine you’re in the movie Scream being stalked by intense rock instrumentals, your inner monologue informed by melodic vocals. If you can’t imagine what it’s like to be chased through a metal album, the adrenaline-fueled songs on Neüstonia will definitely get you there without issue.

“Thanks For the Ride” is a powerful opening track that would fit right into the opening sequence of a late-80’s or early-90’s slasher movie. I like to mention whether or not the first track on an album is a good representation of what the release has to offer. With “Thanks for the Ride”, I could tell I was in for an experience.

“U Dig” has a little bit more of an old-school punk feel, with quick drum patterns and a lot of downstrokes on the guitar. I really appreciate the technical guitar work between the verses in lieu of a standard chorus.

“Sworn to Silence” has a catchy instrumental introduction that continues to remind me of a horror movie. It’s a slower song that makes a determined follow up to “U Dig”. The chorus has an almost cult-like feel. “Tell me all your fears, they will fall on deaf ears”, along with the rest of the chorus definitely gives the vibe of someone being brainwashed. The chorus after the bridge has a distinct early-Sabbath feel with daunting moments of silence that are sporadically filled by hard guitar riffs and lyrics.

With up and down moments that take you through a rollercoaster of a song, the instrumental on “Waiting” is a welcomed addition to the album. The use of offbeat drums in the verses gives the song a chaotic yet calm feel before they kick up the energy.

The ideal way to amp the energy up and down at will, the use of rests in the verses on “Burning Bridges” is more than a success. This song has the life of a fire. There are times where it’s calm and you can feel its kinetic -potential, then the song explodes into full flame with neck-breaking guitars, a massive drum line, and a deep, soul-penetrating bassline. The song calms down again with a cool and technical bassline, right before blazing up one more time like someone’s thrown a gallon of whiskey on a garbage fire.

Ok, “Into the Vein” is last Ozzy comparison (though I personally love it when my band is compared to the bands I more or less intended to sound like). One of my favorite Black Sabbath songs is called “The Wizard”. A massive part of that is because of the unexpected use of harmonica in a metal song. The heavy instrumental and explosive harmonica on “Into the Vein” give me that same feeling. For these reasons I have dubbed this song my “Guitar Hero Pick Of The Album”.

The title track “Neüstonia” continues the album’s tradition of a horror movie-like atmosphere. At this point, I would say “Neüstonia” is the moment that you think the serial killer is dead, so you try to get a better look because you feel a small sense of safety. But as we all know, that is never the end of the movie. That’s when the killer pops back up for one more startling moment. This is my first pick for favorite song on the album. It has a life all it’s own that stands out against the other songs while remaining true to the albums intended feel.

Last but not least, “The Rift” is like the setup for a sequel. It’s the part in the film that makes the audience say, “oh, shit, that was such an awesome ending!” In most movies, the end can make or break the entire thing. I loved the whole album, but “The Rift” is what’s going to make me want to listen to it again. As well, it contributes to my anticipation of their future releases. There are long instrumental moments that give the song a sense of structure, especially toward the end of the song. And as the final notes and lyrics ring out (and the credits start to begin), there is an overwhelming closure that ties the album together.

Well, I hope you aren’t tired of hearing me say how much I love all of these albums because Burn River Burn’s Neüstonia has got my name written all over it. The band’s alternative metal rock style flows well with their dark, pungent lyrics, and had my attention throughout the entire eleven-track album. I am very much looking forward to following this band’s career as they continue to release hard-hitting music.

Neüstonia by Burn River Burn is available everywhere via Pavement Entertainment. Take a look below for links to the band’s official website and facebook page.

Burn River Burn is:
Chuck Howell – Guitar
John Paterson – Vocals
Kevin Amann – Drums
Mike Plunkett – Guitar
Marco Guzman – Bass

Official Site: https://burnriverburn.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BRBSF/

Hollow by Mourning Grey Hits You In The Face Like A Bottle In A Bar Room Brawl

Short but mouth-puckeringly sweet, the six-track album, Hollow by Mourning Grey is a hard-hitting rock/alternative metal album that isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. Every song on this album is distorted and melodic with just the right amount of raspy screaming to scratch that itch. When it comes to impressive, technical instrumentals, good metal musicians are among the best, and Hollow is an excellent album to listen to if you want to hear a combination solid heavy-metal instrumentals and melodic vocals.

Successfully contributing to the shadowy mood of “Scarred”, the first thing I noticed is the passion and anger behind Ben Chapman’s lyrics. Thanks to steel-heavy guitars by Kenny Bulka, insanely skilled, Deathclock-ian drumming by Chris Jeter, and deep, complicated bass by Dave Vaughan, the opening track descriptively sets the gothic ambiance of the rest of the album. Check out the band’s music video for “Scarred” below!

“Falling” puts Mourning Grey’s alternative/metal style on display for the whole world to see. This song vividly describes that dark place we’ve all gone to when things get rough. The emotion behind the words “I’m falling, six-feet underground. I’m falling, can someone save me now?” is prevalent and powerful against the backdrop of the dark and brooding instrumental.

“Lost” opens with a wave of sound that leaves no room for empty space. Including the subtle use of synthesizers, all of the instruments fill up the audio-space on “Lost” without overpowering the ears. The second verse brings down the intensity just a smidgeon and then amps it back up, intricately filling the soundscape of the song. The complex guitar line only gets more intense when you arrive at the bridge of the song.

“The War” is a politically charged, war-is-an-inevitable-condition-of-human-existence song. It starts out a NIN-style industrial drum feel that transitions into a true headbanger of a song (in fact, this is my “Guitar Hero pick of the album”). I absolutely loved the screaming on this one, it kicks the energy up several notches as the guitar and bass smack you across the face like a bottle in a barroom brawl.

I could listen to the instrumentals on Hollow all day long. I particularly enjoy when metal and punk songs incorporate acoustic instruments as a way to get you ready for a song that’s about to break your neck. “My Demise” starts out with a slower, heartfelt acoustic portion. The rest of the instrumental literally kicked in and I had to make sure I didn’t get whiplash. Definitely my favorite song on the album, “My Demise” has a catchy melody that’s only improved by the way the singer harmonizes with himself.

“Up To You” offers a satisfying end to Hollow. I appreciate when albums can offer a consistent sound across the board, and “Up To You” really shows me that Mourning Grey has perfected their hard-rock style.

To say that Hollow by Mourning Grey is solid is an understatement. Each member is truly talented, offering a distinctive, yet familiar style that fans of the alternative and metal sections of the rock spectrum typically clamor for (yours truly included). I highly recommend checking out this album no matter what kind of music you’re into.

A Pavement Entertainment release, Hollow by Phoenix, Arizona’s Mourning Grey is available on all streaming audio services.

Mourning Grey is:

Benjamin Chapman – Vocals
Chris Jeter – Drums
Dave Vaughan – Bass
Kenny Bulka – Guitar

Listen to Hollow by Mourning Grey

iTunes: apple.co/2K7VLOS
Amazon: amzn.to/2tj6e3m
Spotify: spoti.fi/2MJmbbf

Voices by Farewell to Fear is Like the Mellow Lingering Aftertaste of Rich Fudge

I’ve never seen Farewell to Fear live, but after having listened to Voices, I’ve determined that they’re probably awesome to see perform. Refreshingly consistent, their latest release Voices (available now) is ideal for fans of metal, alternative, screamo, and hard-rock fans alike. Very heavy guitar, deep bass, good mix of melodic and screamy (perfect actually, I prefer if a song is going to be melodic and include screaming, it be used in moderation). Check out the music video for the song “Underneath My Skin” below.

Taking advantage of their ability to create very large moments within their songs, the title track “Voices” is an intense opener and a perfect showcase of what’s about to take place. The lyrics match the genre. They offer self-reflection with the just the right amount of loathing to keep it relatable.

This is gonna sound weird but I think “Wake Me Up” would be SUPER fun to play on Guitar Hero. Having played the game far too many times, I can personally vouch for how much fun the guitar riff would be to play. The Layne Staley-style backup vocals on “Wake Me Up” made for killer harmonies that I will definitely be returning to.

“Let Go” starts out on a soft note, and does an excellent job of using vocal filters as a build up into the hard-hitting chorus. I also like their use of synthesizers in the (which is not always the case for myself, but it really works in this song). I really appreciated the drumming on this track, powerful symbol work and double bass pedal always make my ears perk up.

Speaking of the double bass pedal, the drummer absolutely annihilates the percussion on “Misery”. There is a lot to be said for a drummer that can match the feel of the song using what is essentially banging noises (man, I love the drums). “Misery” personifies the phrase “misery loves company”. I never get tired of the way artists find different ways in which to incorporate idioms into their songs. Another strong representation of the album as a whole, I would love to see them play this one live.

Farewell to Fear Full Band 2

“Waiting for Sunrise” was my first pick for favorite songs. The opening guitar riff offers an interesting tone that both clashes and combines with the rest of the song in the way that good rock music should. The melodic guitar riff in the verses keeps pace with the song and makes for an intriguing instrumental.

Particularly worth mentioning “Beneath my Skin” and “Dead Generation” have killer bass lines. In almost every case, the bass lines on Voices are just and engaging as the guitar playing. However, in these two tracks, they sound especially intricate.

“Take Me Home” closes the album by lowering the intensity with an acoustic song. What really stands out in this track is the heartfelt lyrics and strong melody. This is really the only time that Voices unplugs, and “Take Me Home” is like the mellow lingering aftertaste of rich fudge hanging out at the end of the album. I liken it to a nightcap.

Farewell to Fear Full Band 1

To put it plainly, I think Voices is a great album. It’s well produced, perfectly consistent, and the ideal display of each band member’s immense talents. Every moment on the album appeals to me as both a fan of music and rock ‘n roll specifically. If you are looking for a solid album that will only get better the more you listen to it, Voices by Farewell to Fear will definitely not disappoint.

You can check out Voices and the rest of Farewell to Fear’s catalog on Spotify, and other music streaming services. It was released via Pavement Entertainment and was co-produced with Damien Starkey, who has worked with Burn Season & Puddle of Mudd.

Highs and Lows by Jillian Somera and the Beta Option is Nothing Short of Hypnotic

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Jillian Somera and the Beta Option’s new 13-track album Highs and Lows, and if I’m being honest, I’m not sure setting expectations would have been the right move. I read through the band’s bio and was immediately intrigued by their self-described “alternative rock/R&B” style, and after having listened to Highs and Lows twice, I decided unequivocally that there is no better arrangement of words in the English language to describe what Jillian Somera and the Beta Option brings to the table with their latest release.

Throughout Highs and Lows, Jillian Somera is perfectly even against a backdrop of unique musical styling, a very impressive feat to say the least. The harmonies throughout the album are nothing short of hypnotic and the instrumentals create a solid foundation on which the lyric-writing and vocals lay firmly planted.

The first two tracks, “Watch out Boys” and “No Regrets” start out with an almost Morisettet-ian feel, that holds its own amongst a wide variety rock songs. At first, I wanted to compare them to rock bands only, but I got a “musical second wind” if you will, stopped listening for a genre to label it, and got into the smooth melodic rock aspects of the first two songs, that combine flawlessly with the underlying jazz and R&B feel.

By the time Highs and Lows gets to “A Secret to Tell”, it’s hard to know what you’re about to get. The two songs before it (“Superstar” and “There’s Nobody Singing” respectively), have a softer feel to them, thanks to the jazzy bass and upstroke guitar notes. What’s the next track going to be like?! I thought to myself excitedly. Then “A Secret to Tell” came on, and I was back to making My Chemical Romance vocal comparisons. I love the way the drums amp up the energy and lead into the explosive guitar riff and bassline.

“It’s Over” delves deep into the band’s jazz/blues style with clean guitar tones, noted bass fills, and technical drum work. A successful theme throughout Highs and Lows, the upbeat  instrumental on “It’s Over” offers a stark juxtaposition to the somewhat downbeat lyrical content.

At the halfway point of Highs and Lows, I was starting to get a clearer picture, and all I wanted to do was keep listening. “Take it Away” has a dark feel, with less-traditional sounding amp tones and heavier subject matter. The end of “Take it Away” provides a well-placed calm that fades into the down-in-the-dumps opening guitar riff and lyrics on “Sweet Release”.

“Sweet Release” ended up being in my top three favorite songs on the album, in part due to the way “Take it Away” flows into it. The opening guitar riff and minimalistic drums take the mood down to a warm, yet subterranean place that is welcomingly dark and passionate. There is a moment in the song when the instrumental opens up and Jillian really lets her voice go to a place of explosive intensity that literally feels like a “sweet release” bursting out of the speakers.

As an insomniac, I relate to the song “Insomnia” quite a bit. From the calmer verses to the hectic choruses to the spot-on lyrics, the up-and-down style of this song encapsulates what it’s like to be involuntarily up all night because your brain won’t stop talking to you. I particularly liked the line, “insomnia, close my eyes just to open them again”. It rings true as an incredibly frustrating and pointless activity when racing thoughts are keeping you awake at 5AM.

I don’t normally praise bands for the order of the songs on their album. However, in the case of Highs and Lows, the tracks are delicately placed with such purpose, that each song informs the one before and after it. Allow me to elaborate…any group of three songs on the album would be the ideal combination to give you an idea of what Highs and Lows is all about. No song-style is overdone, and the tracklist ensures the album never gets stale or boring.

As a whole, Highs and Lows is cohesive, fun to listen to, and offers a unique style that frankly, isn’t as easy to describe on paper as I originally would have liked. The band’s alternative rock and R&B style unapologetically shines on every track and holds the listener’s attention through the entirety of the album. Whether you are or aren’t particular about music, there is something for everyone to like about Highs and Lows by Jillian Somera and the Beta Option.

Highs and Lows is available to stream on bandcamp.com, Spotify, and additional streaming services.

Listen to Highs and Lows by Jillian Somera and the Beta Option

Make sure to catch Jillian Somera and the Beta Option on August 11th, at 2215 West Cermak Road Chicago, IL 60608. Get details and tickets here!

Praise The Fallen’s “Makin’ It Known” is Like a Ribbon on a Gift Basket of Rock and Roll Wine and Cheese

This is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of listening to South Bend’s Praise the Fallen, and I am ecstatic that I chose their latest album, “Makin it Known,” as my first. The instrumentals have an alternative, Foo Fighters distortion sound with guitar riffs like that of…some slightly harder band. “Makin it Known” is a perfect album to listen to if you’re rocking out in the car, whether it’s the beginning or end of the day.

The first thing to draw my attention on “Makin’ it Known” was Jammie Bosstel’s vocals. They sound like Layne Staley and Deryck Whibley had a voice baby and trained it in the art of alterna-rock. Bosstel (guitar, vocals) knows exactly when to use his voice melodically and when to add rock-rasp – the man has excellent control over his rasp. Bosstel also comes through with ten, overall solid, fun to listen to, fun to rock out to, pleasing to the ear in only the way that rock can be, guitar riffs.

Bass is one most underrated aspects of any individual song, without it, there is a distinct hole that is left. There is nothing to underrate about Steven Moore’s (bass) skills on “Makin’ It Known.” The bass on the album gives each song a foundation on which to stand, while still remaining distinctive and unique.

One of my favorite aspects of listening to an album is the way the drums fit into each song. It takes a lot of creativity to know when the drums need to move the emotional direction of a song, and I think Johnny Santana definitely nailed it. Each drum section on “Makin’ It Known” conveys the intensity – or lack thereof – as dictated by the song’s intention.

And now for the faves…

The Nameless – This is a hard-hitting, politically charged song that is filled with the perfect amount of topical aggression. I love the riff in the breakdown. In a sea of awesome guitar playing, this one stands out with top-notch techniques and intentioned use of tones.

Scream (If You Feel Alive) – If you like old-school Linkin Park, you will absolutely love this anthem of a song. In the case of “Scream,” the rhythm guitar is just as engaging as the lead. I am also a personal fan of the old-timey-microphone sound used in rock vocals sometimes, and their application of the effect is impeccable.

Changes – They picked the perfect song to end the album. “Changes” is a great example of what you’ve just been through as you traveled through the preceding album. The song incorporates all the member’s talents and ties the whole album together like a ribbon on a lovely gift basket of rock and roll wine and cheese.

Overall, I enjoyed Praise the Fallen’s “Makin it Known” quite a bit. I will definitely be giving the album several more rotations so I can listen to it for fun without picking it apart for a blog post. Great work, gentlemen!

“Dragonfly” Ranges From Light and Moist Wheat to Dark and Heavy Pumpernickel

Are you ready for an unapologetic album that’s not afraid to explore the limits of what defines a genre of music? If so, Michael LuBeck’s “Dragonfly,” available July 1st, 2018 is the perfect new release. Michael Lubeck’s sixth studio release, “Dragonfly” is a five-track album that features two previously unreleased songs and three brand new ones.

There’s no way to pinpoint one type of music “Dragonfly” offers. Instead, you’ll hear songs that range from light and moist wheat bread to dark and heavy pumpernickel. Whether it was intended or not, “Dragonfly” encapsulates what it means for a release to progressively get heavier as you go through the tracks – which is an impressive feat to have accomplished, considering there are only five.

Time for the faves! Once again, I found myself noting almost all of the songs as favorites, and once again, I had to reign myself in. That said, when you check out “Dragonfly” for the first time, pay extra attention to “Smile,” “Elijah Kane,” and “A Silent Bitter Tale.” Here’s why…

Smile – has a very soothing open-chord guitar riff that perfectly compliments the softer way he sings. The lyrics are very much intended to give one “The Feels,” and I will say, LuBeck has accomplished his task admirably.

Elijah Kane – has an awesome kind of grimy western sound at the beginning that transitions into a rowdy rock medley, packed with heavy guitars, pounding drums, and a killer solo-riff you’ll hear in the middle eight. The vocals on Elijah Kane are in STARK contrast to those on “Smile.” Whereas “Smile” was very smooth and melodic, literally no one would say the same about “Elijah Kane.” The way LuBeck sings on “Elijah Kane” is immensely satisfying in a drunken-bar-fight kind of way that made me nod my head, stick my index finger and pinky up in the air, and rock-n-roll-scrunch my face.

A Silent Bitter Tale – I like the offbeat drums dominating the verses that lead into the very catchy chorus. It’s a really good way to end the album with a song slightly lighter than the previous, but still heavy enough to continue the progression of light-to-heavy songs.

My final verdict is that “Dragonfly” will definitely be worth rotating for a while. No matter what mood you are in, you will find at least one song to match.