Top 30 Songs for November 18-24, 2018

1. LOADING ZONES – Kurt Vile (3)
2. NINA CRIED POWER – Hozier featuring Mavis Staples (1)
3. GHOST – Badflower (2)
4. ALL MY FRIENDS – The Revivalists (4)
5. MY BLOOD – twenty one pilots (6)
6. BODY TALKS – The Struts (7)
7. SHE’S KEROSENE – The Interrupters (8)
8. IN MY MIND – Draft Evader (9)
9. UH HUH – Jade Bird (10)
10. HAPPIER – Marshmello featuring Bastille (11)
11. GUIDING LIGHT – Mumford & Sons (12)
12. DIZZY – The Million Reasons (5)
13. TIDAL WAVE – Portugal.The Man (13)
14. SHAME – Elle King (17)
15. HURT PEOPLE – Two Feet featuring Madison Love (23)
16. SUPERWOMAN SWAY – Brett Vogel (19)
17. UNREALITIES – Dying Habit (20)
18. YOU’RE SOMEBODY ELSE – flora cash (21)
19. THESE ARE MY FRIENDS – lovelytheband (22)
21. VISIONS – Dirty Heads featuring Kitten (24)
22. PANIC – Agency Panic (15)
23. MAKE IT UP AS I GO – Mike Shinoda featuring K.Flay (25)
24. CLOSER – IAMWARFACE (18) 18th week on chart
25. BETTER NOW – Post Malone (16)
26. FOREVER – Billy Raffoul (27)
27. “99” – Barns Courtney (28)
28. WANDER – Vox Eagle featuring Pierre Fontaine (29)
29. IN THE WATER – The Underground Vault (30)
30. YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN – Billie Eilish (Re-Entry)

THE SILENCE KIT – Album Review: “Fall Protection”

The Silence Kit2

The Silence Kit is a Philadelphia-based band that plays dark indie alternative rock inspired in equal parts by post punk, shoegaze, neo-psychedelia, goth rock and avant-garde. Formed in 2002 by singer/guitarist Patrick McCay, the current lineup also includes Justin Dushkewich on bass, Darren O’Toole on drums & percussion, James Gross on guitar, and Bryan Streitfeld on synths. The band has released a number of albums, EPs and singles over the years, and in late October, they dropped their fifth album Fall Protection, which follows their acclaimed 2014 album Watershed.

The Silence Kit album

Their music has been compared to bands like The Cure, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, Nick Cave, and Television, but they’ve forged their own signature sound over the years, and Fall Protection sees the band continuing to grow and evolve, fusing together the atmosphere and intensity of early 80s post-punk and goth rock with the spirit of early 90s grunge and indie rock. In the recording of the album, the band had assistance from guest musician Kristin Kita, who played guitar on tracks #1, 7, 9, 10 and synths on #3, 5, 6, 8. The album was recorded and mixed by band front man Patrick McCay and mastered by Dave Downham.

Supermarket” kicks off the album with dark, almost psychedelic synths and grungy guitars propelled by a strutting bass line and infectiously melodic drumbeat. McCay’s vocals are wonderful, with a vulnerable urgency as he croons “In the glow of the supermarket. I wanna feel like I’m in my own dream…again. I miss the kiss of your first attraction. I want to be in deep and sleepless love…again. Time and time again, I will find you. / Lucky me, you found me too.” “New Year’s Eve” speaks to the random nature of our lives year in and year out: “There’s no such thing as karma, or what other’s like to call fate. What you give is irrelevant, and what you get is random…” The music features exuberant layers of fuzzy and jangly guitars and powerful drums.

This Time” serves up a deep, thumping bass line, delicious jangly guitars and the kind of strong, pummeling drumbeat that I love in songs. McCay’s emotionally wrought vocals seem to channel The Cure’s Robert Smith on this track. And the stunning chiming guitar work and sweeping melody on “Can We Skip This?” really showcase The Silence Kit’s strong musicianship. By the fifth track, the stellar, hard-hitting “Everything You Feel Good About,” I’m pretty well hooked on this band’s arresting music style and McCay’s slightly off-kilter but always captivating vocals.

The phenomenal “Wound” is another great example of what I’m talking about. The dark song starts off with a melancholy piano riff, accompanied by ominous synths, a deep, buzzing bass line and chugging guitars as McCay sings with a low, almost menacing voice. “I got this one thing on my mind. I’ve got to keep from losing you. / I wear this like it’s my own, a fine wound, so much to lose.” Two thirds of the way in, the tempo speeds up to a frantic pace as guitars rage and McCay screams “Don’t say a word” several times, then the music slows back down through to song’s end.

One of my favorite tracks is the brooding “Worry,” with its reverb-heavy layered guitars, sweeping psychedelic synths and tumultuous percussion that create an immense backdrop for McCay’s intensely passionate vocals. Another standout is the monumental six and a half minute-long “Never Say Goodbye.” Its haunting melody, lush, soaring instrumentals, and intricate guitar work are all positively breathtaking. The band keeps dazing our senses with raging riffs, dark synths, thunderous drums and raw vocals on “How Does it Feel?” and “Tablecloth.” McCay’s vocals sound decidedly British on the former track as he wails “How does it feel when you’re down and you find out everyone loves your best friend now? How does it feel when you’re gone?”

They seem to pull together all the elements of their signature sound and put them on full display on the gorgeous album closer “Discard.” The stunning reverb-heavy jangly guitars that open the epic track and continue throughout are fantastic, serving as the foundation for this magnificent song. Waves of sparkling, psychedelic synths wash over the guitars, aided by a deep bassline and layer upon layer of crashing cymbals and turbulent drums. It’s a massive song and the perfect ending to an equally massive album that leaves me awestruck.

Connect with The Silence Kit:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

Top 30 Songs for November 11-17, 2018

1. NINA CRIED POWER – Hozier featuring Mavis Staples (1) 3rd week #1
2. GHOST – Badflower (2)
3. LOADING ZONES – Kurt Vile (8)
4. ALL MY FRIENDS – The Revivalists (5)
5. DIZZY – The Million Reasons (3)
6. MY BLOOD – twenty one pilots (16)
7. BODY TALKS – The Struts (9)
8. SHE’S KEROSENE – The Interrupters (10)
9. IN MY MIND – Draft Evader (12)
10. UH HUH – Jade Bird (14)
11. HAPPIER – Marshmello featuring Bastille (15)
12. GUIDING LIGHT – Mumford & Sons (17)
13. TIDAL WAVE – Portugal.The Man (11)
15. PANIC – Agency Panic (7)
16. BETTER NOW – Post Malone (6)
17. SHAME – Elle King (18)
19. SUPERWOMAN SWAY – Brett Vogel (20)
20. UNREALITIES – Dying Habit (21)
21. YOU’RE SOMEBODY ELSE – flora cash (22)
22. THESE ARE MY FRIENDS – lovelytheband (23)
23. HURT PEOPLE – Two Feet featuring Madison Love (27)
24. VISIONS – Dirty Heads featuring Kitten (26)
25. MAKE IT UP AS I GO – Mike Shinoda featuring K.Flay (28)
26. NATURAL – Imagine Dragons (19)
27. FOREVER – Billy Raffoul (30)
28. “99” – Barns Courtney (N)
29. WANDER – Vox Eagle featuring Pierre Fontaine (N)
30. IN THE WATER – The Underground Vault (N)

JETSTREAM – Single Review: “Delta Blues”

The other day my friend Susan tweeted about a new song “Delta Blues” by a band I’d not heard of before called Jetstream, tagging me along with several other music-loving friends as she customarily does to help spread the word about indie bands. Well, let me say that every single one of us were immediately blown away when we clicked on the YouTube link and listened to the song. Wow, “Delta Blues” is one hard-rockin’, foot-stompin’, gritty blues-rock mutherfucker! And though Jetstream sound like they’re from Tennessee or Mississippi, they’re in fact originally from the Rock of Gibraltar, and now based in the UK!

Photo by Eye Candy Photography

Like many bands, Jetstream has undergone some personnel changes since their formation in 2008, but the current lineup consists of Nolan Frendo (vocals), Stu Whitwell (guitars, keys), Tristan Tonna (drums), Justin Pou (bass), Aaron Ignacio (guitar) and Tristan Tonna (drums). Among some of their many musical influences are such greats as Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Kooks, Counting Crows, The Killers, Kings of Leon, Coldplay and Green Day – all awesome bands I also love. They released their first EP in 2014, and have followed with a number of singles since then, the latest of which is “Delta Blues,” which dropped on October 26 (a date that interestingly saw a tremendous number of new releases by several artists and bands, a few of which I’ve recently reviewed).

“Delta Blues” kicks off with Tonna’s pounding drumbeat as Whitwell and/or Ignacio lay down deadly riffs of gnarly guitar, backed by a sinister pulsating synth and Pou’s throbbing bass line that set an ominous tone. Frendo’s gritty vocals deepen the tension as he tells the unfortunate tale of a woman named Delta Blues who swept him off his feet, only to betray him.

Way down in Mississippi I found the sweet Delta Blues
She strut so very pretty, I knew I had nothing to lose
She made her name in this town when her mama was 17
Knocked down a whiskey jigger, make eyes across the room
Be first to pull the trigger, don’t trust what you assume
She made a name in this town when her mama was 17

The guys dial up the heat of the instrumentals to boiling as Frendo passionately wails the chorus, sending chills up and down our spines:

And I, I met her in a dusty tap room
I kissed her in the Southern sun
I shot her in the darkest alley
I miss her in another’s arms

The rampaging guitars, bass and drums continue laying waste to the airwaves as Frendo’s raw vocals keep heaping new layers of chills upon us straight through to the end. What a great song! Take a listen and dial up the volume to full-blast!

Connect with Jetstream:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on  iTunes Google Play

ALEXIS GERRED – Album Review: “Alexis”

Alexis Gerred3

Alexis Gerred is a hard-working, charismatic and multi-faceted artist based in London, England. A seasoned performer, he’s appeared in numerous stage productions in The West End, on national television, and on various tours around the UK and Asia for over 10 years. Some of those productions include American IdiotOur House, Dreamboats and Petticoats, The West End Men, Rooms, and many more. He loves being creative in any area of performance, but his true passion lies with singing. Alexis has penned numerous pop/rock songs over the past several years, and earlier this year, he launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the recording of his first album, reaching his goal in a matter of weeks. On October 26, he dropped the album, simply titled Alexis, but there’s nothing simple about it, as it’s filled with ten solid tracks ranging from lovely heartfelt ballads to rousing pop-rock bangers.

Alexis album

Many of the songs on Alexis offer positive, upbeat messages, and no more so than album opener “Sweet Angel,” a beautiful, uplifting song about unconditional love and support that Alexis released this past April as the lead single (you can read my review here). Originally written as a thank you to his parents, he says the song now also reflects how he wishes to bring up his own two children. Layers of chiming and fuzzy guitars, delicate piano and just the right balance of percussion provide the perfect backdrop for Alexis’ dynamic vocals that are raw and passionate one moment, then a gentle falsetto the next as he sings the stirring lyrics “I know you’re falling. I see you falling deeper down. I’ll show you how to fly with broken wings. Sweet Angel.

Face the Crowd” is a rousing pop-rock song about standing up for yourself and not letting your fears or self-doubts keep you from realizing your potential. “Stand up and face the crowd. Find out what your worth. Stand up and greet the crowd.” Alexis’ fervent vocals remind me a bit of Steve Perry on this and a few other tracks when he really gets into the groove. A particularly strong standout is the anthemic “Rule the World,” a powerful duet with fellow stage performer Danielle Steers, who has an astonishing voice in her own right. Their soaring vocal harmonies are so good they give me goosebumps, and the hard-hitting rock instrumentals are fantastic. This song should be released and pushed as the next single, as it’s as radio-friendly a tune as any I’ve heard all year.

Alexis has a beautiful voice, and it’s on the slower ballads where that beauty really shines through. “Hold You Close” is a lovely and deeply moving pledge to his young children that he’ll love and protect them, guiding them as they grow: “I’ll hold you close. I’ll help you fly to the moon. Stay by me. Don’t let anyone take away your dreams. Stay true to you. / I love you my girl, my son.” The gentle acoustic guitar and Alexis’ tender vocals are sublime. He turns very emotional on “Save Me,” as he sing of the hopelessness he feels: “Save me, I can’t do this anymore. Through dark nights. Medicate me, I can’t do this anymore.” Another favorite of mine is “The Lucky Ones” a gorgeous and poignant piano-driven ballad about the loss that results from the end of a relationship. Alexis’ plaintive vocals convey the sadness and despair expressed in the lyrics: “It broke my heart to say goodbye when your eyes said ‘I’m leaving you my darling.’  But I’ll hold you close at a distance.”

Alexis lets the sparks fly on the hard-rocking “Don’t Let Go,” his passion-filled vocals reaching for the skies along with the raging guitar riffs and thunderous drums. He teams up with Norwegian country singer Liv Austen on the lovely folk ballad “Home.” Their pleasing vocals blend together quite nicely on this wistful song about missing each other and looking forward to being together again: “I’ll be coming home, I’m coming home. I’ll never see the light of day til I hold you once again.” He shows his soulful side on “Road to Redemption,” his edgy R&B-tinged vocals accompanied by gnarly riffs and funky bass.    Album closer “No Ordinary Girl” is another uplifting and incredibly catchy rock anthem. The opening melody and drumbeat of the song reminds me a little of The Cranberries’ classic song “Dreams.” Alexis’ powerful soaring vocals pair beautifully with the high-energy riffs of jangly guitars, heavily crashing cymbals and hard-driving beat, making for a marvelous and exhilarating track.

Alexis is a beautiful, meticulously-crafted album and a testament to Mr. Gerred’s skillful songwriting, musicianship and vocal abilities. It’s an impressive debut, and one that should make him quite proud.

To learn more about Alexis, check out his website
Connect with him on Facebook / Twitter / Intagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

LAZY QUEEN – Single Review: “Apocalipstick”

I’m back in Norway (having just featured the band Vöödöö) to now shine my spotlight on alternative rock band Lazy Queen. Three months ago I reviewed their brilliant single “Turn From Void,” and am now thrilled to present their provocative new single “Apocalipstick.” The genre and gender-bending band pushes boundaries with their identity and music, and is “for the disenfranchised, the outcasts, the queers, the allies, the feminists, for the pissed off, for the isolated and lonely, the weirdos and the freaks.” Their music is boisterous mix of noise rock, grunge and punk – the sonic equivalent of a car crash, as another writer so eloquently put it.

Lazy Queen was formed in 2013 by Henrik Søberg, who’s Norwegian with Colombian roots and gender fluid, while living in Brooklyn, New York. The band then consisted of Søberg and three American musicians, and they released four singles and the excellent EP Drift to critical praise from both national and international press. Søberg had hoped to settle in New York, but a bureaucratic snafu at the Norwegian embassy forced a return to Norway. Once back in Oslo, Søberg reformed Lazy Queen with Norwegian musicians Jonas Røyeng, Jon Bernhard Hunskaar, Peter Mortensen and Petter Anderdal.

Lazy Queen
Photographs by Anine Desire

“Apocalipstick” is the second single off their forthcoming EP A Sigh So Deep, and details Søberg’s experiences as an non-binary person. They explain: “Even through society is slowly becoming more aware of the challenges of trans and non-binary people there’s still a long way to go. ‘Apocalipstick’ is a nail polish painted middle finger to any and all transphobes and a big, bearded kiss from a pair of lipstick covered lips to all non-binary and trans folx who fight every day for the right to exist without the threat of murder, violence and discrimination all over the world.”

The song blasts through the gates, instantly slamming us against the wall with a thunderous assault of shredded and distorted guitars, crushing bass and speaker-blowing drums. Søberg fervently sings of both self-empowerment and anger over being negatively judged:

I wear my mother’s lipstick ’cause it makes me feel pretty!
I can’t talk to you cause it makes me feel shitty
Now you wonder, oh you wonder am I still you’re son?
Oh believe me, oh believe me no you’re not the only one

Oh I wear my girlfriend’s dress because it makes me feel fucking hot
Like I belong in this world and it’s never ever gonna stop
I feel like I, feel like I, feel like I’m floating
And your side-eyed stare doesn’t do me nothing

The relentless aural onslaught continues unabated, slashing the airwaves with jagged riffs of ear-splitting distortion and hammering percussion. Søberg ‘s screams can occasionally be heard amidst the cacophony, and despite the intensity of the music, it’s still incredibly melodic. They ultimately express their exasperation over the transphobia they’ve had to endure, defiantly shouting: “You make me feel fucking broken! You think it’s just a fad. I really don’t care. I really don’t!” The band unleashes all the sonic fury they can muster in the last 30 seconds as the track comes to an explosive and dramatic finish, leaving me spent. What a fucking fantastic song!

Take a listen and see if you don’t agree – and be sure to turn the volume all the way up!

Connect with Lazy Queen:  Website / Facebook / Instagram
Stream their music on Soundcloud / Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes and Drift may also be purchased on Bandcamp

Top 30 Songs for November 4-10, 2018

1. NINA CRIED POWER – Hozier featuring Mavis Staples (1)
2. GHOST – Badflower (3)
3. DIZZY – The Million Reasons (2)
5. ALL MY FRIENDS – The Revivalists (5)
6. BETTER NOW – Post Malone (6)
7. PANIC – Agency Panic (8)
8. LOADING ZONES – Kurt Vile (14)
9. BODY TALKS – The Struts (9)
10. SHE’S KEROSENE – The Interrupters (10)
11. TIDAL WAVE – Portugal.The Man (11)
12. IN MY MIND – Draft Evader (13)
14. UH HUH – Jade Bird (15)
15. HAPPIER – Marshmello featuring Bastille (16)
16. MY BLOOD – twenty one pilots (17)
17. GUIDING LIGHT – Mumford & Sons (20)
18. SHAME – Elle King (19)
19. NATURAL – Imagine Dragons (12)
20. SUPERWOMAN SWAY – Brett Vogel (22)
21. UNREALITIES – Dying Habit (23)
22. YOU’RE SOMEBODY ELSE – flora cash (24)
23. THESE ARE MY FRIENDS – lovelytheband (25)
24. NEVERMIND – Dennis Lloyd (18)
25. YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN – Billie Eilish (26)
26. VISIONS – Dirty Heads featuring Kitten (27)
27. HURT PEOPLE – Two Feet featuring Madison Love (29)
28. MAKE IT UP AS I GO – Mike Shinoda featuring K.Flay (30)
29. ARE YOU READY – Disturbed (N)
30. FOREVER – Billy Raffoul (N)

THE MILLION REASONS – Single Review: “Battle of Sound”

The Million Reasons New Lineup

I’ve been revisiting a lot of artists and bands lately on this blog, and today I’m featuring another one for the second time – the incredible Chicago rock band The Million Reasons. The band is comprised of Scott Nadeau (lead vocals), Ken Ugel (guitar), Mike Nichols (guitar), Colin Dill (drums) and their newest member Jason Cillo (bass). Following up on their outstanding 2017 debut EP The Runaround, they released their gorgeous single “Dizzy” in July, a magnificent song that went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30 (you can read my review here). Today they return with another fantastic single “Battle of Sound,” which I’m pleased to review.

The song has a hard-hitting old-school rock vibe, starting off with punchy riffs of gnarly guitar that provide the driving force for the track. The song expands as layers of guitar are added, accompanied by a solid bass line and power drums, then suddenly erupts into a furious maelstrom in the bridge as the guys let loose on their respective instruments. It all makes for an exhilarating and highly enjoyable rock song.

Scott has a wonderful singing voice, with a raw power that’s perfectly suited to the music and biting lyrics that speak of a relationship that’s irreparably broken to the point that further communication is now impossible.

I didn’t know that we were fighting
I didn’t know that the lines were drawn
But here we are with our weapons at the ready
And the sides have been decided upon

If it’s a battle of silence, I’m winning
Never see me come around again
If it’s a battle of sound, I’ll take the crown
You’ll never see me come around again

You didn’t come prepared for battle 
You didn’t expect me to react 
You didn’t know that I own moments like this 
Where the lights go out and the power blows 
You’re in the black 

Who do you think kicks the power back on? 

The humorously charming video opens with the guys pulling up in a van, where they pick up a guy waiting by the curb who’s the new band member Jason Cillo. They hand him a bass guitar, whereupon he immediately gets into the groove as they all begin to play the song, heads furiously bobbing to the beat. As the video progresses, they’re shown alternating their seating positions and instruments, while the poor drummer Colin Dill gets tossed around a bit in the back as he tries to play his drums. The guys clearly had fun making this video.

Connect with The Million Reasons:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase:  Bandcamp / iTunes / Amazon

NOVUS CANTUS – EP Review: “2018 Fall EP”

Novus Cantus

This past May, I featured the band Novus Cantus on this blog when I reviewed their beautiful song “In the City.” A unique act from Poughkeepsie, New York – who look and sound like they should be from a Mediterranean country – Novus Cantus (Latin for “new music”) is a collaboration of brothers Alexander (vocals and guitar), and Christian Herasimtschuk (drums and percussion), with assistance by Greg Hayden on bass. Their exotic, captivating sound draws from an eclectic mix of influences such as traditional ethnic music like flamenco and Hungarian folk, classical Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, and rock, particularly that of Jethro Tull, but also Gipsy Kings and even Metallica. They’ve been performing and recording together since 2010, and I encourage my readers to check them out on your favorite streaming service, some of which I’ve listed at the end of this review.

They’ve just released a new EP simply titled 2018 Fall EP, a collection of four songs including “In the City.” “Journey” kicks things off with the lush sounds of Alex’s strummed guitar and dreamy flute notes that give a feeling of being in a mist-filled South American rain forest. The track then settles into a captivating soundscape of Spanish guitar and fluttering flute as Christian bangs out the beat on his conga and bongo drums. Alex’s deep, rich vocals are sublime as he sings of his uncertainty as to which road to take on his life journey: “Why do I hesitate, why do I wait? The earth is here. How will I know? I want to know.

The aptly-titled “Storm” opens with the sound of falling rain, then our ears are greeted with sonic lightning bolts in the form of Alex’s energetic Spanish flamenco-inspired guitar riffs and Christian’s furious banging of his conga and bongos, while Greg keeps things grounded with his bass. Alex’s fervent vocals match the fiery passion of the music, and I could listen to this electrifying and bewitching song go on for an hour!

In the City” is an enchanting, optimistic song celebrating the dichotomies and drama of the city, and the diversity and resilience of it’s residents that allows them to flourish despite the odds. I’m guessing their lyrics extol the virtues of New York, but they could really apply to any large city anywhere in the world.  “In the city, on the sidewalk, a lengthy story unfolds.
As trees came down, buildings were born, the perfect angles of chiseled stone. The wilderness has long since been gone but the spirit remains in the form of people willing to transform City life into a vital storm.”

The song opens with sounds of a rushing subway train, then Alexander’s gorgeous and intricate Spanish guitar washes over us, accompanied by Christian’s robust beating of his conga and bongo drums, evoking the spirit and drama of the city and its people. In addition to Greg’s bass, the guys employ other instruments like flute and Maracas to add texture and dimension to the track. Alexander’s vocals have an exotic quality that, combined with the instrumentals, gives the song an international feel.

Everlasting” is yet another gorgeous track, and Alex never fails to dazzle with his skillful, intricate guitar work. The song has a slower, more relaxed Latin-inspired tempo than the other tracks, but retains the intensely passionate feels Novus Cantus injects into all of their music. Christian employs gentler, crisper percussion on this track, and the brothers’ vocal harmonies are marvelous. I love all four songs on 2018 Fall EP, and adore these guys, who are as gracious and kind as they are talented.

Novus Cantus is completely fan-supported, meaning they’re not beholden to a label, so please consider supporting them by following them on social media and purchasing their music. The more fans they have, the more they can compete for gigs in your area. Also consider donating to their music efforts via their Patreon site.

Connect with Novus Cantus:  Website / Facebook / Twitter
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  cdbaby / Reverbnation / iTunes