EP Review: ORTARIO – ‘A Place Called Home’

I reviewed Welsh band Ortario as a guest on The Symphony of Rock blog.

THE SYMPHONY OF ROCK

 GUEST BLOGGER
JEFF JAYPEG
A Place Called Home EP Artwork
Welsh alternative rock band Ortario are quickly establishing themselves as one of the best new rock bands in the UK. Following up on their first two singles released in 2016, “Forte” and “All Outta Money” – both of which are very good – they dropped their debut EP A Place Called Home in late January, and it’s outstanding. Ortario consists of Chris Clark (Vocals), Jamie Thomas (Bass), David Wheeler (Guitar), Mark Lloyd (Guitar) and Nathan Lewis (Drums). Having two guitarists plus a bassist gives their music a dynamic, guitar-heavy sound.
 

OrtarioORTARIO

 
When I asked about the theme of A Place Called Home, bassist Jamie Thomas explained “For us, there is no place like home. [Being] a band that situate ourselves in different Welsh valley towns, we’re proud of our Welsh heritage and where we come from. The song “No Place Like Home” for instance is basically about leaving…

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Top 20 Songs for March 5-11, 2017

1. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (2)
2. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (3)
3. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (1)
4. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (6)
5. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (4)
6. BLOOD IN THE CUT – K.Flay (5)
7. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (8)
8. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (9)
9. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (11)
10. RUST TO GOLD – Council (12)
11. ON HOLD – The xx (13)
12. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (14)
13. ATLAS, RISE! – Metallica (7)
14. 7 – Catfish and the Bottlemen (16)
15. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (19)
16. I FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (18)
17. DON’T WANNA KNOW – Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar (10)
18. SQUARE HAMMER – Ghost (15)
19. MY NAME IS HUMAN – Highly Suspect (20)
20. TAKE IT ALL BACK – Judah & the Lion (17)

EP Review: NEON HURRICANE – “Liquor Sweet”

I have a particular fondness for hard-working do-it-yourself indie artists and bands who write their own songs and play all their own organic music. Neon Hurricane is such a band. The relatively new, four-man collective from Glasgow, Scotland make music that stays true to the roots of classic rock and roll, employing three-part guitar harmonies to give their sound a definable retro vibe. The band members are Jason Minto on vocals, Graeme Craig on guitars, Connor Browning on bass, and James Maxwell on drums.

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The guys just recorded their debut three-track EP Liquor Sweet, and I’m delighted to review it. The first track “Sweet Lady” is a mellow rock tune, with lively buzzing guitars that remind me somewhat of early Boston. The song is anchored by just the right amounts of Connor’s bass and James’ sharp percussion, and Graeme’s guitar riffs are first-rate. Jason’s earnest, soulful vocals are perfectly suited for the song.

Everything ramps up a notch in “Raining Mondays,” with a faster, heavier beat and more aggressive guitars and drums. Jason’s vocals are also louder and more emotionally raw. The song lyrics speak of a guy who feels down on his luck until he meets a woman who shows him some interest. He fervently sings “And then I saw your face, then I heard you say, you take a chance on, you take a chance on, you take a chance on me, I take a ride with you.

The guys save the best for last, with the amazing tour de force “Follow the Rock n Roll.” They fully unleash their sonic weaponry, compressing so much creative energy and incredible musicianship into one song, that the result is nothing short of phenomenal. The track begins with the sound of wind, then a harmonica wails as Connor’s heavy, throbbing bass line takes over, augmented by James’ pounding drums. In short order, Graeme’s distorted and snarling guitar enters the scene, intensifying the song’s impact. Jason’s powerful vocals are more raw and bluesy than ever, and when backed by the guys’ harmonizing vocals and combined with the aforementioned music, we’re left with one of the most exciting rock and roll songs I’ve heard in a while. At 4:40 the guys blow the lid off with a vitriolic flourish of frantic bass, guitar and drums, and Graeme provides some high-pitched wails to match his screaming guitar solo. This track alone is more than enough proof that these guys are highly skilled musicians.

I love this band, and can’t wait to hear what they come up with next. Show them support by following on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribing to their YouTube channel. Liquor Sweet will soon be available for purchase on iTunes & Amazon.

EP Review: QUICK MACHINE – “Live Fast”

quick-machine-cover

There’s something special about guitar-heavy rock and roll that can’t be beat, especially when it’s fast, loud and in your face. Four-piece Boston band Quick Machine fill all those qualifications and then some! As their name suggests, they play ‘high-energy rock and roll fueled by dueling Gibsons, stacks of 100-watt amps and domestic adult beverages‘ (in their own words). Making the noise are  Eric Jackson (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Richie Kidd (Bass/Backing Vocals),  Shane Quinn (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals) and Gia Love (Drums/Backing Vocals). (It’s very cool when a rock band has a female drummer.)

Quick Machine formed in early 2015 and, like several bands I’ve recently featured on this blog, spent much of their first year on the road playing gigs and building a dedicated and enthusiastic fan base before heading into the studio to begin recording their own songs. In November 2016 they dropped their debut EP Live Fast, a collection of four rousing rock and roll tracks guaranteed to have you on your feet and moving within seconds.

quick-machine

The EP opens strong with the exhilarating title track “Live Fast.” True to its title, the song blasts through the speakers with aggressive, shredded guitars and Richie’s heavy bass, signaling that we’re in for a wild ride. Gia pounds the hell out of her drum kit, while Eric and Shane’s guitars swirl and snarl with abandon as they lay down some formidable riffs. The song lyrics get to the point: “Live fast, die last, you keep on going ’til you can’t stop, you can’t stop, oh no.”

The awesome video for “Live Fast” shows the band performing the song in a dark industrial building, a perfect setting for the hard-driving track.

Not skipping a beat, “Devil in Me” keeps the high energy going at full speed, and the dizzying pace never lets up through “Steal My Soul” and “Skeletons.” Our ears are treated to more scorching-hot guitar riffs, buzzing bass and pounding drums. Eric’s powerful vocals add a raw, bluesy vibe to these rock and roll gems. In “Skeletons” he wails “Where is the fun in being revealed in the public eye? Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no, I have become my Mr. Hyde. I drink, smoke, lie and cheat. I’m everything you want me to be.”

This is a great EP, with no throwaway songs. My only criticism is that with only four tracks, it’s over too soon, leaving me wanting more. For now I’ll just have to play it on repeat, and wait for Quick Machine to quickly drop some more tunes.

Here’s a great live performance of “Devil in Me.” This is clearly a band whose music is tailor-made to hear live, and if they ever make it to L.A. I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

To learn more about Quick Machine, check out their website. Show them support by following on Twitter,  Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Stream their music on Spotify or Reverbnation.  Live Fast may be purchased on Bandcamp, iTunes or  Amazon.

Song of the Week | Violet Contours – Electric Bodies

Sharing this great review from Sounds Good blog of a terrific song by UK band Violet Contours.

Sounds Good

/ SOUNDS GREAT /

Small music blogs are a great part of the music industry. As detailed in a wonderful article by ReverbNation recently, us enthusiastic music fans are responsible for helping out artists to help them create a bit of noise for themselves, hopefully lending some additional buzz along the way. One particular thing we’re great at doing is featuring bands who you may never have heard of before, and thanks to Mytacism Music, we heard about Violet Contours.

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Song Review: ONESTEP – “In War We Rust”

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Nearly every day I receive submissions from artists, bands or their publicists wanting me to review or feature them on my blog, and I’m thrilled when their music is really good. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover a promising young band from Kiev, Ukraine called OnesteP. They play an intense style of alternative heavy metal, and just released their fantastic new single “In War We Rust” in advance of their debut EP, due for release this coming April.

Formed in 2011, OnesteP consists of Siddy on vocals, Eugene Sikoza on guitar & production, Taras Kolomoiets on guitar, and Bogdan Korol on bass. (The band also has a session drummer.)  Having two guitarists gives their music a muscular, hard-hitting sound that quite effectively delivers. Their music style is strongly influenced by the great bands Korn, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, but the guys bring a fresh approach to their music. Like many new bands, they toured heavily the first few years, experimenting with their sound until they felt it fully represented who they wanted to be, then started writing songs for their first EP. Along with “In War We Rust,” the band states that their EP ‘will feature songs with deeply emotional lyrics about existential malaise and trends in modern society.’

In the band’s own words, “In War We Rust” is a protest against war and mankind’s fear to change its behavior or take any responsibility.  The lyrics are searing: “Your satellites are haunting me and making me blind and I’m losing sight. Now look around and find your waste that you’ve made of this another site.”  

The blistering track immediately hits you like a punch to the gut, leaving you breathless. It’s both savage yet melodically beautiful – always a powerful combination in heavy metal. Eugene and Taras shred their guitars to pieces, making them snarl, wail and scream with abandon, while Bogdan’s intense, heavy bass gives the track incredible heft. Toss in thunderous, hammering drums and Siddy’s fierce, impassioned vocals, and the result is a tremendously satisfying heavy metal track. I love it, and eagerly look forward to hearing their entire EP.

Support OnesteP by following them on Facebook. “In War We Rust” may be purchased on Bandcamp.

Top 20 Songs for February 26-March 4, 2017

1. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (3)
2. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (4)
3. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (7)
4. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (1)
5. BLOOD IN THE CUT – K.Flay (5)
6. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (6)
7. ATLAS, RISE! – Metallica (2)
8. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (11)
9. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (10)
10. DON’T WANNA KNOW – Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar (8)
11. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (16)
12. RUST TO GOLD – Council (13)
13. ON HOLD – The xx (18)
14. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (15)
15. SQUARE HAMMER – Ghost (9)
16. 7 – Catfish and the Bottlemen (17)
17. TAKE IT ALL BACK – Judah & the Lion (12)
18. FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (19)
19. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (20)
20. MY NAME IS HUMAN – Highly Suspect (14)

EP Review: KROSST OUT – “Life of the Party”

I love when hip hop is melded with other music genres. That’s one of many reasons why the music of artists such as Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine and twenty øne piløts is so incredible. So I was happy to discover the young Canadian rapper Krosst Out, who skillfully melds hip hop with punk rock to create a style uniquely his own. He’s set to release his debut EP Life of the Party in early March, and I have the pleasure of reviewing it.

Krosst Out grew up in a small town in Ontario, where he studied piano as a child. In his teens, influenced by artists such as Manafest, Eminem, Underoath, Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down, Nas, and Marilyn Manson, he took up the bass guitar. He ended up playing in various local bands, developing his rapping skills along the way, and eventually settled in Toronto, where he began writing his own songs.

krosst-out

In the creation of Life of the Party, he teamed up with musicians Daniel Salij and Eric Soto, who also was beat master. Combine his biting, relevant lyrics with their music skills, and the result is a superb EP with six hard-hitting tracks that examine the darker aspects of the party life, with its attendant abuse of sex, drugs and alcohol. As Sandie Glasmacher wrote in her review for G Music Lab, it’s  ‘a gritty cautionary tale of what happens to the life of the party when the party is over and the lights turn back on.’

The strong EP opener “Skincrawler” is about a tormented soul crying out for help. Musically, the song is complex, with a haunting intro of plucky acoustic guitar, followed by unsettling male voices speaking of mental illness before Krosst Out’s impassioned rapping takes over. To a strong hip hop beat, he cries ‘The monster that my skin hides, on the inside, is eating me alive. It’s keeping me alive. I am picking, itching, tearing at my skin. I only want you to get in. I only want you to begin to see what it’s like to be me.’ The superb multi-textured guitars are accompanied by a melancholy but beautiful violin that adds great emotional depth to the track.

Calling out others’ bad behavior while not being honest about your own is the subject of the hip hop track “Tea 4 One.” Krosst Out sings ‘This is tea 4 one, put the kettle on, this has just begun. Everything and anything goes. You better be prepared to start eating crow, ’cause no one ever told me not to throw stones.’ He goes on to shout out his own shortcomings.

Kick It” is three minutes of punk rock awesomeness, with powerful, distorted guitars, thumping bass, rapid-fire drums and crashing cymbals. Krosst Out frantically raps ‘Everybody kick it now. We got the skills, to rock the mic and act like it kills. Real punk rock thrills. That’s right, we could go all night, we could go all night.‘ I love this song, and it’s one of my favorites on the EP.

Life of the Party” speaks to the good, bad and ugly of party life. To a pounding hip hop beat and crushing bass, Krosst Out assertively raps ‘We party like it’s nothing ’cause we’ve done this before. Breaking all the rules with the bottles on the floor. If you want to see our party, then wait what’s in store. I’m the life of the party, I’ve said that before.” At 2:30, the tempo changes abruptly, signifying that the party’s gone awry. Throbbing synths take over, the beat drops, and to discordant percussion he raps ‘Man you joking, this dude’s trying to choke me. Acting like a dope fiend.’ Party’s not so fun now…

The powerful track “Contradiction” opens with a mysterious voice chanting to a hypnotic beat and throbbing bass ‘Can you take me back to where I came from? Can you take me back?‘ Then Krosst Out begins rapping about his internal struggle between who he is and who he thinks he should be. ‘I can take this rock and I can shove it up my nose. I can take this 40 and I can drink it through a hose. I’m so white trash, man, everybody knows.  Watch my Chevrolet explode when I’m midway down the road. / And I know I’m white trash, I know I’m not Black. Stop being ignorant just ’cause I like rap.‘ Take a look at the great video for the song:

The last track on the EP , the compelling “I Don’t Care,” gets to the heart of the EP’s subject – the highs one experiences from uninhibited partying, and the crushing lows that can follow (feelings to which I can certainly attest from my own experience). Krosst Out laments: “I don’t have a care when the lights go out, when the lights go out, when the lights go out. I don’t want to feel when the lights come on, when the lights come on, when the lights come on. What you know about losing yourself at 2 am? Going through the drugs and booze again? Climbing on the roof again? Screaming that you’re losing it? And jumping in the pool again.

The song features a mesmerizing hip hop beat, haunting melody and some pretty awesome distorted guitar riffs, along with the beguiling guest vocals of his friend Mel Yelle.

To sum up, Life of the Party is a solid EP that gets better with every listen. The music and production are first-rate, and the intense song lyrics are so loaded with meaning that I discovered something new each time. To learn more about Krosst Out, check out his website and follow him on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram. Stream his music on Spotify and purchase on iTunes and other sites offering music for download.

Album Review: RANDOM… – “Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness”

I recently discovered a composer/producer of Electronica music who goes by the artistic name Random… (Random dot dot dot) when he reached out to me to consider his upcoming album Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness. Hailing from Rotherham, England, Random… creates multi-textured synthesized music that ranges from dark and politically topical to catchy EDM. With contributions from two poets – Gav Roberts and Wayne Dyson, along with guitarist Mr Jiggs – Random… recorded the ambitious 11-track album.

In his own words, ‘Random… is reclusive, innovative and slightly insane. Those lucky enough to have met him will testify that his view of the world is warped, dark, but always entertaining.‘ He calls his particular style IDM – Intelligent Dance Music.

random-face

Most of the songs on the album have a mysterious, otherworldly vibe achieved through the use of complex melodies, discordant multi-layered synths, repetitive beats and spoken poetic vocals. The albums opens with the deeply compelling track “Put All Weapons Down.” The song is a call for peace and letting go of hate that keeps us in a permanent state of war – whether it be with others or within ourselves. It opens with dark, cacophonous sounds, then to wobbly, textured synths, Gav Roberts admonishes us to ‘put all weapons down.’ The lyrics are a litany of weapons we use to hurt others. Here are a sampling:

If your weapon is contained within the ink within your pen, set it down and rethink your motivation for writing.

If they be guns, take your finger from the trigger, empty the bullets onto the ground where you stand, put it down and step away.

Unstrap the bombs from your heart, go back and question the peaceful god who commands you to do this. Put all weapons down.

If you use god as your weapon, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu or any other, do not speak to them anymore, or if you speak do not place your hate on them, then pretend that it was theirs.

Perhaps the most biting lyric is “Put them down, not even because you will hurt people with them, but because it is hurting you to hold them.”

Next up is “Rovrumoncee,” an infectious EDM track with echoed vocals by Wayne Dyson, while “Osmosis” has a sci-fi feel, along with Roberts’ electronically enhanced vocals. The spacey vibe continues with “Headspace,” in which ominous, scratchy synths, set to thumping bass, are overlain with Dyson’s chanting vocals.

Some tracks are strictly instrumental, such as “Kotto,” with its catchy uptempo beat, warm synths and crashing cymbals. (The video for the song uses animation based on The Pink Panther.) Other instrumental tracks include “Then We Came to the End,” with crunchy synths set to a hypnotic assertive beat that impels hip movement; the psychedelic EDM-tinged “Pete’s Gone to Leeds;” and “Elemeno Pea” with its marching band drumbeat and mysterious, pulsating synth chords.

One of my favorites is the melodic “Peristalsis,” with lovely guitar work by Mr Jiggs and spoken vocals by Roberts: “My friends think they’re the answers, but they forgot the question long ago. / Peristalsis is the motion I am feeling most of all. Almost too frequently to notice that it is there at all.

The Girl & the Water” is a six-minute long track featuring swirling, atmospheric synths that really do convey a sense of a pool of water. Strange animal-like sounds, accompanied by Roberts’ electronically-enhanced vocals, add to the song’s otherworldly ambiance.

The album is planned for release through independent electronic music record label Pink Dolphin Music in April 2017.

Track listing:

1. Put all weapons down (featuring Gav Roberts)
2. Rovrumoncee (featuring Wayne Dyson)
3. Osmosis (featuring Gav Roberts)
4. Headspace (featuring Wayne Dyson)
5. Kotto
6. Peristalsis (featuring Gav Roberts & Mr Jiggs)
7. Then we came to the end
8. The Girl & the Water (featuring Gav Roberts)
9. Pete’s Gone to Leeds
10. Elemeno Pea
11. Hidden tune

Follow Random… on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randomdotdotdot/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Randomdotdotdot
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5sgO4CliLXRKA3XL_2mk9A
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/random-dot-dot-dot

The album may be pre-ordered at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pinkdolphinmusic/new-leftfield-idm-cassette-and-cd-by-random

Top 20 Songs for February 19-25, 2017

1. CLEOPATRA – The Lumineers (1)
2. ATLAS, RISE! – Metallica (3)
3. STILL BREATHING – Green Day (5)
4. SHINE – Mondo Cozmo (6)
5. BLOOD IN THE CUT – KFlay (8)
6. SHAPE OF YOU – Ed Sheeran (9)
7. HUMAN – Rag’n’Bone Man (13)
8. DON’T WANNA KNOW – Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar (2)
9. SQUARE HAMMER – Ghost (4)
10. I NEED A LIGHT – Run With It (11)
11. SCARS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL – Alessia Cara (12)
12. TAKE IT ALL BACK – Judah & the Lion (7)
13. RUST TO GOLD – Council (14)
14. MY NAME IS HUMAN – Highly Suspect (10)
15. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE – Adele (15)
16. HEAVYDIRTYSOUL – twenty øne piløts (16)
17. 7 – Catfish and the Bottlemen (18)
18. ON HOLD – The xx (19)
19. I FEEL IT COMING – The Weeknd, Daft Punk (N)
20. LOVE IS MYSTICAL – Cold War Kids (N)