New Song of the Week: TITUS CALDERBANK: “Mistakes”

Titus Calderbank

Titus Calderbank is a remarkably talented young singer/songwriter from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and he’s just released a beautiful and moving new single “Mistakes“. The song has a bit of a gospel quality, with a haunting piano-driven melody fortified by a soaring organ riff, celebratory drumbeats and Titus’ gorgeous vocals, backed by anthemic choruses. His deeply resonant vocal style is quite marvelous, with a power to stir our hearts and souls.

About the single, Titus explains “‘Mistakes’ is a song about failure and regret. A song about missing the mark. It’s also a song of redemption and asking for forgiveness. Humans often fall short. At the end of the day, we have to accept that we’re all trying our best. What I hope to communicate through this song is that mercy and forgiveness are always an option. We can either be slaves to our past mistakes or make peace with them and move on. We can grace our enemies with forgiveness or we can die with bitter hearts.

Choices I made
Long ago they
Bubble up
And they surface to my soul

But darling then
Was I myself
Was I who I wanted me to want to be

Won’t you take a part of me
Won’t you take a part of me
Place it deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, See if I still make mistakes

Here’s a video of him performing the song live, with his lovely piano as the only instrument to accompany his beautiful vocals that remind me a bit here of Rufus Wainwright.

Also released in conjunction with “Mistakes” is a second track “Could Have Done Better“. It’s a bit lighter in tone, with a catchy guitar-driven melody, but still features that lovely organ, strong percussion, and Titus’ arresting vocals. Like “Mistakes”, it also deals with atoning for one’s past wrongs and asking for forgiveness. It’s a wonderful song too.

Connect with Titus on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on iTunes /  Bandcamp

Concert Review – THE HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES

I hate to admit it, but I really didn’t know much about supergroup Hollywood Vampires until a few days ago, when a friend asked me if I wanted to go with her to see them perform at one of the local casinos. I knew that Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp were in the band, but not much else. I’m so glad I went, because they put on a fantastic show!

Hollywood_Vampires

For those as unaware as I was, Hollywood Vampires was formed in 2015 by rock legends Alice Cooper and Joe Perry (lead guitarist of Aerosmith), and actor Johnny Depp to honor the music of the rock stars who died from excessive lifestyles in the 1970s. The band name comes from the drinking club called The Hollywood Vampires that was created by Cooper in the early 1970s. The club, which besides Cooper included such rock legends as Elton John, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees, used to meet at the famed Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Their main objective was to drink until no one could stand up. Thankfully, Cooper and the other surviving members eventually cleaned up their act and are alive and well today.

Hollywood Vampires just completed a brief Spring Tour, which began in Las Vegas on May 10, and ended last night (Saturday, May 18) at the Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino in Indio, California (30 miles SE of Palm Springs). They were the only act on the bill, so we didn’t have to sit through any opening acts. They appeared on stage around 8:15 pm and played their asses off for nearly two hours, proving that age is only a number (Cooper is 71, Perry 68 and Depp will turn 56 in June). It was nice seeing a band where most of the members are older than me for a change LOL!

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Along with Cooper, Perry and Depp, the other touring band members included Chris Wyse on bass, Tommy Henriksen on rhythm guitar, Buck Johnson on keyboards and Glen Sobel on drums. They’re all seasoned musicians who played as a tight unit, and clearly enjoyed themselves on stage. Their infectious energy easily transferred to the audience.

They played a mix of classic songs and covers, original songs from their 2015 debut album Hollywood Vampires, and five new songs from their forthcoming second album Rise (set for release on June 21st), opening with “I Want My Now” from the new album. They followed with the head-banging “Raise the Dead” from their 2015 album, and now had the audience nicely worked up. Even though I wasn’t familiar with those first two songs, I was really digging them big time!

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Alice Cooper in action

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Joe Perry working his magic

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Is there anything Johnny Depp cannot do?

Cooper was very engaging, and talked with the audience a bit between songs, doing a bit of reminiscing as he introduced some of the old songs. Some of the highlights for me were their covers of the Doors’ “Break on Through (to the other side)”, Aerosmiths’ “Sweet Emotion”, The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” (during which drummer Glen Sobel blew us away with a phenomenal drum solo), and David Bowie’s “Heroes”, in which Johnny Depp did great justice to Bowie’s memory by doing a fantastic job singing lead vocals. He’s really a fine vocalist; I loved his singing in the film musical “Sweeney Todd”, and I think he’s also pretty good at singing rock too.

Here’s a terrific video of the band performing “Heroes” that was shot by Joe Schaeffer, a photographer/videographer who also happened to be at the concert, and has graciously allowed me to include it in this review.

And here’s some footage of the band performing “Baba O’Riley”, showcasing Sobel’s amazing drum solo. I apologize for the poor quality of the sound on my video.

Among the other new songs they performed from Rise was “The Boogieman Surprise” a great, hard-driving track. Here’s the official video of the band performing the song at another show:

The guys kept playing song after song with scarcely a break, finally ending with their cover of Tiny Bradshaw’s “The Train Kept A-Rollin'”, then walked off stage. The crowd applauded wildly and repeatedly yelled “oncore!” To our collective delight, the band returned to finish off with another new song “We Gotta Rise”, and a rousing medley of the crowd-pleasing Cooper classic “School’s Out” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”. It was an awesome show, and we all left happy.

Set List
1.  I Want My Now
2.  Raise the Dead
3.  As Bad As I Am
4.  Five to One / Break On Through (to the Other Side) (The Doors cover)
5.  The Jack (AC/DC cover)
6.  Who’s Laughing Now
7.  The Boogieman Surprise
8.  You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Johnny Thunders cover)
9.  My Dead Drunk Friends
10. Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)
11. Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith cover)
12. Heroes (David Bowie cover)
13. Git From Round Me
14. I’m Eighteen (Alice Cooper cover)
15. People Who Died (The Jim Carroll Band cover)
16. The Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Tiny Bradshaw cover)

Encore:
17. We Gotta Rise
18. School’s Out / Another Brick in the Wall

Top 30 Songs for May 19-25, 2019

1. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (1)
2. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (3)
3. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (4)
4. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (5)
5. SIGUE CON EL AMOR – John Defeo (2)
6. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (6)
7. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (9)
8. TIME – Morosity (10)
9. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (11)
10. HURT – Oliver Tree (12)
11. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (14)
12. TRAMPOLINE – SHAED (7)
13. READY TO LET GO – Cage the Elephant (8)
14. STILL FEEL. – half alive (15)
15. LO/HI – The Black Keys (16)
16. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (21)
17. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (18)
18. SEVENTEEN – Sharon Van Etten (19)
19. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (20)
20. GENERATION Y – Guide Dog (17)
21. BAD LIAR – Imagine Dragons (23)
22. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (24)
23. NOT WORTH IT – The Only Route (25)
24. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (26)
25. CHOKE – I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (27)
26. HARMONY HALL – Vampire Weekend (13)
27. APOLOGIZE – grandson (28)
28. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (30)
29. VOLCANO – Feather Weight (22)
30. MAYBE, I’M AFRAID – lovelytheband (N)

TWO METERS – EP Review: “The Blue Jay EP”

Two Meters EP art

While most musicians generally tend to express themselves through their music to one degree or another, Two Meters really bares his heart and soul on his songs. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Two Meters is the music project of singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Costolo. Starting off with deeply personal and often brutally honest lyrics – which he expresses through vulnerable, slightly off-kilter vocals that go from barely a whisper to impassioned screams – he adds layers of heavily-textured guitars, harsh industrial synths, and other lo-fi ambient sounds to create impactful songs that elicit strong feelings from the listener. I’ve been replaying his songs for the past few hours and hear new details with every listen.

I asked Tyler how he came to call his project Two Meters. He explained “I have been playing water polo for about 15 years now. I did in college, and I was coaching too when I first started recording. Two Meters is a reference to the sport; it’s kinda similar to an offsides in soccer. I thought it sounded cool and was relevant to my life.”

Two Meters released his debut self-titled EP in June 2018, and now returns with The Blue Jay EP, which drops today. Released via the label Very Jazzed, The Blue Jay EP features five tracks that continue to explore the dark themes of loss and death that Tyler first introduced on Two Meters. He wrote and sang all lyrics and played all instruments on the EP (other than drums, for which he used sample loops or drum sounds from his  production software). Mixing was done by Yuuki Matthews and mastering by Warren Hildebrand.

The EP opens with “The Morning Train“, a brief lo-fi instrumental track consisting of dark, gnarly synths, pulsating bass and an ominous drumbeat that set a somber tone. This is followed by “Pools“, a powerful track that speaks to thoughts of drowning by suicide. Tyler explained: “I really was spending a lot of time by pools while I wrote that song and I was constantly having ‘call to the void’ type visions. I tend to gravitate toward darker themes in the music I listen to, so it makes sense that’s what I end up writing too.” The track starts off with a captivating twangy guitar riff, then moody, throbbing synths are added as Tyler sings in a morose tone “I spend a lot of time by pools. Looking deep in the water. Thinking how easy it’d be to slip under./ Just as dark sets in, it’s too late to swim back up.” Suddenly, we’re bombarded with an explosion of tortured, grinding synths and reverb-heavy distorted guitar that would make Marilyn Manson proud, as Tyler repeatedly screams “It’s too late!

Next up is “Ground“, a song about feelings of worthlessness. Tyler explained its meaning:  “At the time of writing the EP, I was feeling incredibly worthless. The idea being that in the grand scheme of everything, my life was the same as the poor bird I saw that died overnight.” The track opens with layers of heavily-strummed guitars and Tyler’s somber humming, followed by him singing in a monotone, as if to convey his emotional ennui. Then, with the introduction of distorted guitar notes, the tempo abruptly shifts as Tyler refrains the line “I am the bird, alone on the ground” in dual voices – one a dispassionate monotone, the other a desperate wail. Man, it just rips at your soul!

The appropriately-titled “Intro to an Attack” is another brilliant instrumental track. Like many Two Meter songs, it starts off with gentle synths and a bucolic strummed guitar, but 30 seconds in, the calm is shattered by that promised attack of glorious bone-crushing industrial mayhem and distortion. The final track “In the Wake” is a decidedly more hopeful song, despite its rather bleak vibe. Tyler said it speaks to his problems with panic attacks and anxiety, and how having his girlfriend Margo Dellaquila (who real life sings the reassuring vocals to him on the track) around really helps to keep him grounded.

The Blue Jay EP is a brief but astonishing work of incredible nuance, contrast and emotional honesty. Two Meters is skilled at lulling us with soothing melodies and vocals one moment, then punching us in the gut with brutal ferocity at others. The more I listened to this EP, the more I loved it.

Connect with Two Meters: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music: Spotify 
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes / Google Play

CRYSTAL CITIES – Single Review: “Under the Cold Light of the Moon”

Crystal Cities Single Pic

‘Dream Rock that sounds like Death Cab For Cutie had a War On Drugs with The Beatles.’ That’s how Australian band Crystal Cities describe their enchanting sound, and it’s spot-on. Their wonderful songs feature thoughtful lyrics and stunning melodies delivered by superb instrumentation and vocals. In March 2017, the Sydney-based three-piece released their outstanding and critically acclaimed debut EP Who’s Gonna Save Us Now. The gorgeous title track and lead single “Who’s Gonna Save Us Now”, which I featured on this blog that April, reached #1 on the Unearthed Overall Charts within a few days of its release, and ended up on my 100 Best Songs of 2017 list. Now they’re back with a stunning new track “Under the Cold Light of the Moon“, the lead single from their forthcoming album of the same name, set for release on 31 May.

Crystal Cities is comprised of the very talented Geoff Rana (Vocals, Guitars), Jared King (JK) (Bass, Backing Vocals) and Daniel Conte (Drums). Since the release of their EP, the guys have had a productive two years and have come a long way, from a garage in Sydney to Abbey Road Studios in London. First, they signed a record and publishing deal with global music company Audio Network (one of a group of companies owned by Toronto, Canada-based multinational mass media and entertainment company eOne). Second, through that partnership, the band had the opportunity to record their debut album Under the Cold Light of the Moon at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios.

According to Rana, the new single “was inspired by the plight of young North Korean girl Yeonmi Park who escaped North Korea in search of freedom.” After seeing her moving speech at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland, where she told the audience “When I was crossing the Gobi desert, scared of dying, I thought nobody in this world cared. It seemed that only the stars were with me. But you have listened to my story. You have cared. Thank you very much”, Rana felt compelled to interpret her story through a song.

Crystal Cities Yeonmi Park

And what a beautiful, uplifting song it is! Starting off with a faint whisper of synths and delicate tapping of cymbals, a chugging riff of jangly guitar, set to a thumping drumbeat, soon enter the mix along with Rana’s raspy, yet lovely vocals. The music gradually builds as layers of guitar and percussion are added, backed by lush orchestral strings that create a stirring, cinematic soundscape for the hopeful lyrics:

Made my way out through the desert
Made my way across the sand
Under cover of the night I’m face to face
I’ve been thinking of a place
I’ve been making my escape
Under the cold light of the moon

Rana’s intricate guitar work is gorgeous, while King and Conte keep a tight rhythm with their defty-played bass line and drums. The song, along with the rest of the album, was flawlessly mastered by Paul Stefanidis at Viking Lounge Mastering, engineered by Adam Alexander and John Romeo (assisted by Tayla Gibbs), and mixed by L.A.-based engineer Paul Lani (David Bowie, Prince, Megadeath). Regarding the provocative photo for the single and album which shows the guys blindfolded, Rana explained: “This album will have plenty of lyrical references to themes of escape, resistance, and limited/restricted views. Having us positioned in a sort of prisoner-like scenario with blindfolds on seemed a great way to represent these themes.” The photos are courtesy of Amy Benjamin Photography.

The beautiful animated video for the song tells the adventure of Yeonmi Park’s harrowing nighttime escape. It was created by Jordyn-Rae Morrison (The-F0X).

Connect with Crystal Cities:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes / Google Play

New Song of the Week – THE COMMON VIEW: “A Perfect Bridge”

The Common View single art

Back in February, I featured the wonderful young British band The Common View on this blog. Formed in 2018, the Leeds four-piece consists of Dom Robertson (guitar, vocals), Jose Ignacio Barrera (guitar), Jacob Lindsay (drums, vocals) and Joe Sykes (bass).  Their indelible and dynamic style of alternative rock is influenced by indie pop-rock, post-punk revival, ska and rockabilly. They released their self-titled debut EP The Common View, Vol. 1 in December 2018, featuring three outstanding tracks, then quickly followed with a provocative single “Fuck Them”, a scathing critique of the failure of British society and the government to adequately address the chronic issues of health care, poverty and homelessness.

Now they return with “A Perfect Bridge“, a sweet song of romantic love. The track opens strong with exuberant riffs of swirling guitars, sparkling synths and bouncy drumbeats, accompanied by lots of crashing cymbals. Dom and Jose skillfully capture the ardor of young love with their achingly beautiful and intricate guitar work, while Joe lays down a sultry bass line that adds a slow burn to the mix. Jacob’s fervent vocals are marvelous, and nicely complemented by the guys’ fine backing harmonies. It’s another terrific release from these talented young gentlemen.

I’m gonna stop the world for you and me,
by writing songs for us and backing up the beat.
Let’s go and fly away to hold the mystery,
We don’t need any words to see what it could be

Help me out to build the perfect bridge,
across the love, because I wanna feel your lips.
We have places that we know that we can be,
one is where your magic’s good to me

I wanna make you feel alive tonight
By looking for your thoughts, I wanna cross that line.
it’s such a perfect day to see the blue sky,
out in the open sun we’ll lose track of time

Help me out to build the perfect bridge,
across the love, because I wanna feel your lips.
We have places that we know that we can be,
one is where your magic’s good to me

So, would you like to cross this bridge with me?
I’ll ignite my bones if that is what you need
We have places that we know that we can be,
Just don’t forget that always we can
Use hope, oh honey use trust, oh honey use love as our bridge

Catch The Common View at one of these upcoming shows:

Wednesday, 22 May @ 7 PM – w/ Suns Up & Hakara, Late Nights at West Street Live
Thursday, 23 May @ 6 PM – w/Ourkid, The Stocks, We The North @ Bar21uk, Manchester, UK
Friday, 31 May @ 8 PM – w/The Marble Arches, Solarays, Ben Bickley @ 360 Club, Leeds, UK
Sunday, 2 June @ 12 PM – Below The Bridge // End Of Term special! @ Zombie Shack, Manchester, UK
Saturday, 29 June @ 6 PM – SoundWaves Music Competition – The Final @ O2 Academy, Leeds, UK
Saturday 13 July @ 7:30 PM – w/The Masons & Paradas @ Gullivers NQ, Manchester, UK

Connect with them on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

DOCTOR GONZO – EP Review: “PhD”

Doctor Gonzo Phd

Doctor Gonzo is a four-piece punk ska band from the Brighton area of Sussex, UK. They’re all about having fun and not taking themselves too seriously, but are very serious when it comes to making straight-up badass rock! Formed only a year ago, Doctor Gonzo consists of Ash Miles on vocals, Andy “Gibbo” Gibson on guitars and backing vocals, Tony “Tig” Tugnutt on bass and Louis Maxwell on drums. In late April, they dropped their debut EP PhD, featuring four boisterous bangers guaranteed to kick your ass!

The EP blasts open with “Poisonous”, a blistering-hot tune with heavy, chugging riffs of gnarly guitar, crushing bass and hammering drums. Ash’s urgent vocals ooze bitterness as he snarls the lyrics addressing someone who’s toxic to his existence: “In my veins, sucking the life out of me. Filled with pain until there’s nothing left. Pulsing through me with your liquid venom. You won’t stop ’til I take my last breath! Oh!

Before we can even come up for air, the guys are back pummelling our eardrums with “Something’s Gotta Give”. Man, can these guys rock, once again delivering frantic riffs of fuzzy guitars and throbbing bass, while Louis beats the living fuck out of his drum kit! Next up is the rousing “Mary Jane”, the fantastic lead single from the EP.  It’s a delightful love song to a woman named Mary Jane, set to a hard-driving beat and the band’s signature barrage of thunderous instrumental mayhem. The lyrics are fairly simple but charming: “Mary Jane I let you take my breath away. Remember that time I took you on an aeroplane? Oh Mary Jane, I think you’re driving me insane. But when shit hits the fan I know you’ll make me feel better.” The whimsical and fun video for the song was written, directed and edited by Nick Burdett.

The final track “Royalty” serves up more hard-hitting post-punk goodness. Gibbo does some fine shredding on his six-string while Tig lays down a deep, strutting bass line and Louis pounds out the driving beat. The lyrics speak to feeling like a loser in a rut, going nowhere: “I tell myself to stop complaining. Learn to read between the lines. I wanna be somebody, instead of just a casualty. I’ll go against the grain. You’ll probably know my name. I wanna live like royalty.”

Despite it’s short run time of only 12 1/2 minutes, PhD packs a mighty punch. These guys know how to rock and set the airwaves afire with their respective instruments. I found myself loving these songs more with each listen, and am now a huge fan of Doctor Gonzo. I also love their playful sense of humor, which is strongly evident in this hilarious video of outtake bloopers from the making of the “Mary Jane” video:

Connect with Doctor Gonzo:  Facebook / Instagram
Purchase on iTunes / Google Play

MARS MOTEL – Single Review: “Coming Up For Air”

I’ve been following Brooklyn, NY-based alternative/dream rock band Mars Motel for a while now and love their captivating music, but somehow neglected featuring them on this blog. After hearing their gorgeous new single “Coming Up For Air“, which dropped on May 10 and premiered on the music website Substream Magazine, I quickly had to remedy that sorry situation.

Mars Motel

Formed in 2017 by singer/songwriter and guitarist Sarik Kumar, Mars Motel’s roots actually go back more than a decade earlier. While visiting his parents in Long Island in the summer of 2016, Kumar found some nearly-forgotten demos of songs he’d recorded in his bedroom and saved on his old computer during his senior year of high school.  The rediscovery of these songs inspired Kumar to pursue his love for creating music and form a band he named Mars Motel. Kumar brought the demos to producer Tommy Eichmann at Mission Sound in Brooklyn, NY, where they reworked them into five singles that melded a dreamy 90s Britpop vibe with an immersive, guitar-driven wall of sound influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd, Radiohead and The War on Drugs. These singles, including “The Enemy”, “Green” and “Living in the Moment”, were released over a period of months in 2017 into early 2018. I strongly recommend that my readers check them out, as they’re all pretty incredible.

Along with Kumar, the band lineup now includes  Wes Wynne (Guitar), Justin Lieberthal (Bass) and Craig Stauber (Drums). Following the critical and commercial success of their initial single releases, the band released a live EP The Eclipse Sessions, featuring live recordings of some of those singles and two previously unreleased B-sides. The EP was recorded on, and named for, the Great American Solar Eclipse that spanned the entire United States on August 21, 2017. The band is now working on their forthcoming album Passenger X, which was recorded at Virtue & Vice Studios in Brooklyn with engineer Rocky Gallo, and scheduled for release later this year. The first single off that album is “Coming Up For Air”.

It’s a stunner of a tune, with swirling riffs of chiming guitars backed by shimmery synths and a pleasing rhythm section of gentle bass and confident thumping drumbeats. They all meld into a breathtaking soundscape for Kumar’s beautiful, soothing vocals. He told SubstreamThis song is about an android-like being longing to be human and attempting an alteration. It captures the universal need for connection and the loneliness one can feel in being viewed as an outsider.” With just the right balance of smooth crooning and soaring passion, Kumar sings: “D’you see me now, floating. D’you see me now, walk on water. Nobody’s watching today. Nobody’s watching my ways. Can you feel it now? Electric heartbeat running parallel. One more spark and I’m through. I can’t wait to be with you. I’m coming up for air.

“Coming Up For Air” is a marvelous song, and offers a promising glimpse into what we can expect to hear on Passenger X. I can’t emphasize enough how much I love every song Mars Motel has put out thus far, and I’m eager to hear more great music from this exceptionally talented band.

Catch Mars Motel at one of these upcoming shows:

Thursday 30 May 2019 – Pianos, New York, NY
Mars Motel with Loona Dae and Sundaes (US)


Mars Motel with The Exits (NYC)


Mars Motel with Above The Moon and PLZ RSPND


Mars Motel with Heavenly Faded

Cover photo by Andrew Segreti.

To learn more about Mars Motel, check out their  Website
Connect with them on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

Top 30 Songs for May 12-18, 2019

1. CHLORINE – twenty one pilots (2)
2. SIGUE CON EL AMOR – John Defeo (1)
3. LONGSHOT – Catfish and the Bottlemen (5)
4. DISAPPEAR – Western Jaguar (6)
5. BURY A FRIEND – Billie Eilish (7)
6. FEAR THE FUTURE – IAMWARFACE (8)
7. TRAMPOLINE – SHAED (3)
8. READY TO LET GO – Cage the Elephant (4)
9. DARK PLACES – The Frontier (10)
10. TIME – Morosity (12)
11. ESCAPE – Ships Have Sailed (13)
12. HURT – Oliver Tree (14)
13. HARMONY HALL – Vampire Weekend (9)
14. LOVE CRAZY – Karolina Rose (15)
15. STILL FEEL. – half alive (17)
16. LO/HI – The Black Keys (16)
17. GENERATION Y – Guide Dog (18)
18. BELOVED – Mumford & Sons (19)
19. SEVENTEEN – Sharon Van Etten (20)
20. PATIENCE – Tame Impala (22)
21. MISSED CONNECTION – The Head and the Heart (26)
22. VOLCANO – Feather Weight (11)
23. BAD LIAR – Imagine Dragons (24)
24. I’LL BE AROUND – Morning Fuzz (25)
25. NOT WORTH IT – The Only Route (27)
26. OLD MAN’S WAR – Roadkeeper (28)
27. CHOKE – I Don’t Know How But They Found Me (29)
28. APOLOGIZE – grandson (30)
29. ASSUME FORM – James Blake (21)
30. SAW LIGHTNING – Beck (N)

STEREOHAZE – EP Review: “Fight For Your Future”

Stereohaze EP art

Stereohaze is a band from Manchester, England who, despite their youth, play some wicked guitar-driven rock. Formed in 2017, the lineup includes Charlie Whittaker (guitar/vocals), Ryan Webb (guitar), Harry Wilcock (bass) and Diesel Evans (drums).  They released a top-notch first single “Nowhere to Go” in 2018, and this April (2019) they dropped their debut EP Fight For Your Future, which I’m reviewing today.  

The EP starts off on a high note with “Infliction”, and once those chugging riffs of jangly guitars kick in, backed by Harry’s deep, humming bass line and Diesel’s explosive percussion, it’s clear this band knows how to rock out! I really like Charlie’s commanding vocals that soar in all the right spots, and what I’m guessing is his or Ryan’s scorching guitar solo in the bridge is so good.

“Contain Yourself” was released as a lead single in advance of the EP, and it’s a superb song with a terrific, infectiously catchy hook. It opens with a funky bass riff that continues throughout the song, punctuated by roiling guitars and tumultuous drums in the choruses. The lyrics seem to speak of a guy who’s life has spun out of control: “He tries and he tries to commend himself to fears of what he used to be.  He falls apart as he begins to choke. If love was money, he’d be broke. So much potential. So little time. So incidental. But you’re not the kind.

“Nothing Seems to Change” is a brooding rock song about a relationship in which, despite his best efforts, his partner isn’t willing to meet him halfway: “I tried so hard to figure it out. I lost myself in your shadow of doubt. For what it’s worth, there’s a smile upon your face, but nothing seems to change.” Musically, the song features a strong, thumping drumbeat and fine guitar work that includes lots of shredding and elements of psychedelia and grunge. In fact, the recurring riff seems to sample the two-note guitar line of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  On this and some other tracks, Charlie’s vocals remind me a bit of Alex Turner.

The aptly-named “Light the Fuse” is the most electrifying track from a musical standpoint. I love its rapid, hard-driving beat and intricate mix of fuzzy, chiming and distorted guitars. The vocal harmonies are marvelous, and the guitar solo in the bridge is absolute fire. “Don’t Think Twice” is yet another stellar tune, with strutting riffs of gnarly guitars, pulsating bass and pounding drums. The song seems to be about someone who’s lost and in denial about what’s wrong in their life: “I don’t want to be the one to follow you out into the sun. I know what you’re thinking, it’s alright. I know it seems so hard, but don’t think twice.

While Stereohaze doesn’t break any new ground here, they nevertheless deliver outstanding, hard-hitting rock music that makes for an exciting and enjoyable listen. Fight for Your Future is a first-rate EP full of solid tracks that showcase the guys’ talent for writing melodic rock songs laden with hooks and thoughtful lyrics, and bringing them to life with their skillful musicianship. I highly recommend this EP for anyone who likes great, guitar-driven rock.

Connect with Stereohaze:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Purchase their music on iTunes / Amazon