Artist Spotlight – COLD REVIVE

Cold Revive is on a roll. Over the past few months, the Fresno, California-based rock band released two songs and have been interviewed on two radio programs (one local and another in Chicago) to promote their music. Now they’re back in the studio working on new songs, which they’ll be releasing soon. I had the good fortune of discovering them when they followed me on Twitter, and quickly became a big fan – not only because of their great music, but also because I was impressed by the band members themselves. Despite their badass rocker image, they’re actually genuine, down-to-earth guys. If the kindness they’ve shown me is any indication, it’s clear they appreciate and support their fans, which is a significant part of being a successful band at the end of the day. One of their main goals is to connect even more with their fans – to touch their lives in a positive way with their music.

Cold Revive

Cold Revive consists of Brent Stevens (vocals), Jason Fischer (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Gentky Vang (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Chase Hagerman (drums, keyboards, backing vocals).  All are seasoned musicians who’ve been previously involved with other bands and music projects. Jason and Brent actually met on Craigslist when each was interested in connecting with other musicians who might be interested in forming a band. Inspired by bands they both loved such as Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Hinder, Three Days Grace, Buckcherry and Korn, they joined forces in early 2016 and formed Cold Revive. Subsequently, Gentky and Chase came on board to complete the band lineup.

Like many hard rock bands these days, Cold Revive’s hard rock sound draws from alt-rock, punk, metal and grunge influences. Brent is especially fond of Halloween, horror films and such, so his dark lyrics reflect that.

The band’s first single “Sik’ Hellish Us,” is a dark and brooding hard rock song about being trapped in a toxic relationship you’re unable to break free of. Sinister guitars and heavy bass set an ominous tone, then a slow, thunderous drumbeat adds tremendous power to the track, which rises in intensity as the song progresses. Brent’s gritty vocals are delivered with a menacing vulnerability as he snarls “I’ve made my bed in hell, now I need to lie in it, ’cause it serves me well. As you held me there, my heart’s not escaping.

Diary” is an even darker song about finding a significant other’s diary after their suicide, and discovering how much your actions hurt them. The lyrics are gut-wrenching: “What I read on that page, tore me down I saw my own mistakes. All the pain I caused you is insane…   Suicide drove our love to an end. Those words killed us, was I always to blame? I’m so sorry!” The song has a Buckcherry vibe in both music and tone. Brent’s raw, heartfelt vocals match the emotional intensity of the gnashing guitars and aggressive percussion, making for an emotionally-charged song.

Here’s a live acoustic performance of “Diary” that isn’t quite as intense or sorrowful.

Cold Revive will be releasing their two new singles “Twisted Fright” and “Cold Dark Coma” in the next month or so. In the meantime, connect with them on Facebook and  Twitter, and stream their music on Reverbnation.  Subscribe to their YouTube channel for their videos and band updates.

Their music is not yet available for purchase, but I will update this post when it is.

EP Review: ALL TAKEN – “Accept This”

All Taken is a two-piece alternative rock band based in Los Angeles. Comprised of long-time friends Daniel Daghlarian and Avo Karapetyan, the duo formed in late 2015 and released a strong debut single “Burning Red” in 2016. The guys have now followed up with Accept This, a five-track EP which dropped on March 18, 2017.

All Taken meld electronic and hard rock components, along with a bit of 90s grunge, to create their infectious alt-rock sound. Daniel plays guitar and sings lead vocals, and Avo pounds the drums and sings backup. Listening to Accept This, the thing that stands out the most for me is their exceptional musicianship. Daniel lays down some fine, nimble guitar work, and Avo’s drums are right on point. Also, the guys have written melodies that are both compelling and overflowing with irresistible hooks.

All Taken

House of Wolves” kicks off the EP with some really terrific riffs, set to a catchy, start-and-stop beat put down by Avo’s hammering drums and a generous dose of crashing cymbals. The song seems to be about having a nightmare: “The house of wolves, they call your name. They’re baring their fangs at you.”  The great second track “Hollow” opens with a nice strummed guitar, then aggressive shredded guitars and strong percussion take over. The song’s melodic beat at times reminds me of “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age.  The song’s lyrics speak of someone who’s a shell of their former self: “Remember me for who I was. Not as I am – Hollow.

Rather Not” has a mellow, almost acoustic vibe (albeit done with gentle electric guitar) until, at the bridge, Daniel unleashes an awesome blistering guitar solo before the slow acoustic vibe returns to close out the song. The change-up creates tension that fits the lyrics: “Shadows in an empty room Why would you leave so soon? Do you feel uneasy? My vision is hazy.

Secret” is loaded with hooks and more awesome guitar work, and the guys harmonize especially well on this track. The song’s about not being able to escape the person you really are: “Running from your secrets, whisper words they are the sweetest. The words you confessed are now regrets. You can run, you can hide, but you can’t change what’s inside.” The final track “Restless Nights” has a bit of a psychedelic feel, courtesy of the slow, distorted guitar that’s overlain by shredded riffs, buzzing bass and muscular drums.

All Taken have produced a very good debut EP that showcases their solid songwriting and impressive music skills. Check it out here.

Connect with All Taken:   Facebook / Twitter /  Instagram

Purchase Accept This on iTunes and Bandcamp

EP Review : FUTURE THEORY – “Fool’s Dream”

To prepare for writing a music review, I start by immersing myself in the artist or band’s music in order to fully understand and evaluate the various elements of the lyrics, instrumentals, vocals and production values. In most cases, I come to more greatly appreciate the music the more I listen. And every now and then, I find myself falling deeper in love with the music each time I hear it. Such is the case with the incredibly talented UK band Future Theory. Last October, 2016, the foursome dropped their debut EP Fool’s Dream, and it’s nothing short of spectacular.

Future Theory is made up of Max Sander on rhythm guitar and vocals, Chris Moore on lead guitar, Rex Helley on bass (although Jake Scarbro was bassist at the time the EP was recorded), and Rohan Parrett on drums. Taking inspiration from such bands as Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Audioslave, Queens of the Stone Age and The Verve, the Lincolnshire collective have developed a lavish sound built on elements of alternative rock, shoegaze, psychedelia and funk. Furthermore, their skillful musicianship and intelligent songwriting are all the more striking given their youth (I believe they’re all under the age of 21).

Future Theory

Fool’s Dream starts off with “Eye of the Storm,” a dynamic and beautiful track overflowing with intricate, jangly guitars, sharp percussion and soaring melodies. Sander’s mesmerizing vocals have a sultry vulnerability as he sings the lyrics “Here I stand upon the sands. Stranded here in no mans land. Said I’m through with lies, but now I see.”  The track closes with a scorching guitar solo and a brief flourish of distorted guitar at the very end that conjures up images of a storm that has finally spent itself.

Now is a good time to state flat out that Sander’s sensuous and startlingly mature-sounding vocals are a thing of wonder and, to my mind, a defining element of Future Theory’s sound. It’s astonishing that a man of his young age could vocalize with such nuanced emotional intensity. When combined with the band’s dazzling instrumentals, his captivating vocals result in songs of exceptional caliber.

The title track “Fool’s Dream” is an achingly gorgeous song about realizing that your love interest isn’t quite what you’d hoped, thus shattering your dreams. Sander moans “Why is the glass always half empty when you’re around? Sense of frustration now, stretching my mind. Oh I feel all down.” The swirling guitars and crystalline synths are, well…dreamy.

The guys lay down some terrific psychedelic grooves on “Horses.” Shredded and distorted guitars duel with thumping bass, crashing cymbals and glittery synths, creating tension as Sander seductively croons “See the horses, they’re the only ones who know motive. / Another scene, another slaughter, when enemies hold their line. / Woah oh oh oh horses, why won’t you take me away.” They funk things up on “Listen Closely,” with lots of jangly guitars layered over funky bass and a driving beat. The guitars on this track are so good!

The final track “Horses (Koncide Remix)” is a spellbinding EDM/techno re-imagining of “Horses.” Gone are the layered guitars, and in their place are complex, multi-textured synths that create a dramatic, yet dreamy, soundscape. It’s the perfect ending for a fool’s dream.

Connect with Future Theory:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram

Stream their music:  Soundcloud /  Spotify /  Google Play /  YouTube

Purchase on:  iTunes /  Bandcamp

EP Review: LIAM B. SMITH – “Confessions”

I have a soft spot for young indie DIY musicians who put themselves out there, trying to get their songs heard, and it’s especially heartening when they’re talented. Such is the case with Liam B. Smith, a 20-year-old guitarist and songwriter from Loudoun County, Virginia. He released his debut EP Confessions in February 2017, and I’m glad he reached out to me for a review, because it’s excellent. Not only is the music terrific and lyrics compelling, the production is first-rate.

In the creation of his hard-hitting sound for the EP, Liam drew inspiration from Nirvana, Foo Fighters, The Struts, Goo Goo Dolls, Jack White, and “(above all) ONE OK ROCK.”  On his website, he explains the meaning behind Confessions and how it represents his own conflicted feelings about making music:

In this EP, I lean away from all of the pop-rock, modern influenced sounds I love and into my punk-ish and Nirvana-esque vibe. Confessions is both insecure and extremely audacious. It confesses my deep self-doubts about my life and talents (NOMANSWAR, Drift) and also confesses my elitist scorn for modern music culture (Crowdfunding). The songs are those of a semi-depressed, pessimistic artist. The EP is not meant to leave anyone feeling warm and fuzzy, but it is meant to hint at all of the greater things which (God willing) are yet to come.

Liam B Smith

Liam wrote the songs, performed and recorded them, and produced the EP all by himself. His lyrics are pretty serious for such a young guy, as he addresses head-on the self-doubt and his feelings about the music industry that he described above. His strong guitar-playing skills are showcased on every track, and he has a fine voice that crackles with just the right amount of vulnerable intensity. But not least of all is his knack for arranging and producing his songs so that they sound every bit as tight and professional as a lot of music put out by seasoned artists working with big-name producers.

The first track “NOMANSWAR” starts off with slow electric guitar riff overlain by strummed acoustic guitar, as Liam mournfully sings “We had it all but we wanted more. Now we’re fighting nomanswar.” At about one minute, the pace quickens with aggressive hand claps and percussion setting the rapid beat, accompanied by robust electric guitar. Liam unleashes some blazing guitar riffs as he repeatedly laments “I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”

Drift” is a great hard rock track loaded with shredded and distorted guitars, and lots of punchy drums. Liam sings about just throwing the towel: “Who knows when you’re coming or leaving? Who knows when you’re healing or bleeding? Who knows when you’re sick of the feeling?Never coming home, never coming home. / I might just quit, check in and check out.” On “Crowdfunding” Liam employs furious guitar riffs to match the cynical lyrics he snarls:  “And if you give me money, I’ll give you my soul. You can make me famous.”

If you purchase Confessions on Bandcamp, you’ll be surprised by a fourth hidden bonus track that suddenly appears one and a half minutes after “Crowdfunding” ends. Just goes to show that sometimes you gotta listen all the way to the end.

Check out Liam’s website to learn more about him, and follow on Twitter /  Facebook /  Instagram

Stream his music on Soundcloud and purchase Confessions on Bandcamp.

Song Review: THE OCCASIONAL ANGELS – “It’s Only Love”

Before leaving Ottawa, Canada behind, where I just featured The Elegant Devils, I must make a second visit with The Occasional Angels, whose amazing single “Fool For Love” I reviewed last month (which you can read here). The trio, consisting of David Hart, Scott Paterson and vocalist Cris Ruggiero, have dropped a new single “It’s Only Love,” and it’s another fantastic tune. The song was written by Hart and arranged, mixed and produced by Paterson, who also plays all instruments.

Occasional Angels2

Though slower in tempo than “Fool For Love,” it’s even more soulful, and Ruggiero’s bluesy vocals shine once again. “It’s Only Love” evokes images of dancing at a quiet little piano bar like the one imagined in the beautiful video, or spending a romantic evening by the fire with a loved one. Paterson’s lovely piano, gentle percussion and guitar set a warm instrumental backdrop for Ruggiero’s sultry, beguiling vocals. Even though I adore rock music (the harder the better), it’s also incredibly heartening for a middle-aged guy like me to hear great new music like this being made today. Check it out:

Check out their website, and connect with them on  Twitter and  Facebook.

Purchase their music at  https://theoccasionalangels.bandzoogle.com/music.

EP Review: FICTION PEAKS – “Before the End/Jinx”

Fiction Peaks is a talented five-piece indie band from Dublin, Ireland. Their impressive sound is hard to pin down, but it incorporates elements of alternative rock, shoegaze, pop and electronica. I featured them on this blog in June 2016, which you can read here. The band members – all of whom are highly accomplished musicians – include Joey Doyle (Lead vocals, Guitar, Sampler), Cillian Kenny (Bass, Trumpet), Barry Lyons (Backing Vocals,Synth),  Joáo Francisco (Drums) and Brian Giles (Guitar, Loops). They just dropped a new two-track EP on March 13, in advance of a planned release of their first full-length album Citizen, set for April 21st.

Fiction Peaks

The first track “Before The End” is positively sublime. A lovely piano movement and warm synths create an ethereal soundscape, then strings and percussion are added along with acoustic and electric guitars, increasing the song’s power but not diminishing it’s dreamlike quality. The poignant lyrics are beautifully sung by Doyle, with his mesmerizing heartfelt vocals that contain a hint of Irish brogue. To me, the lyrics seem to speak of not giving up, and fighting for what is valuable or meaningful in life, whether it be a relationship or an important cause. “You could have walked, ran for the exits. A testament to strength is why we’re here. You have the words, you are the reason, the reason we stand tall in our finest hour. With nothing ventured, there is nothing gained.

Coinciding with the EP, Fiction Peaks also released a provocative and visually powerful video for “Before The End” that was directed by local artist Colm Giles (brother of band member Brian).  According to a write up featured on the website Nialler, which you can read here, Giles explained “My take on ‘Before The End’ was to make an artistic observation of the times we are living in. I did this by looking at elements of the Spanish Civil War – showing ordinary people fighting against fascism. With the current subtle rise of the far right, and populist politics, mistakes of the past can be repeated if we don’t all pay attention.” Have a look:

The second track “Jinx” couldn’t be more different, with a rapid, driving beat and heavier electric guitar, bass and drums that give it a harder rock sound. The guitar work on this track is outstanding. Listen to “Jinx” here.

These two tracks are further proof that Fiction Peaks is an amazing band that never fails to deliver, and I eagerly await the release of their full album.  Connect with them:

Website / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube / Soundcloud

Their music may be purchased on Bandcamp.

 

Featured Video: FOUR COLOUR GHOSTS – “Freak” live

Four Colour Ghosts2

I recently discovered the alternative rock band Four Colour Ghosts, and once I heard this incredible live performance of their song “Freak” I became an instant fan. Hailing from Teesside, UK, the band is comprised of AJ (Lead Vocals/Guitar, Lewis Jeffreys (Lead Guitar), Paul Brown (Bass/Vocals) and Rob Moore (Drums). Their dynamic, wide-ranging rock style is influenced by such greats as Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Stereophonics, Guns n Roses, and Joe Bonamassa. As they humorously state on their Facebook bio – “We are the band that your music teacher warned you about, the band your neighbours bang on the wall for, the band you want blasting on your car stereo.” Yes, yes and a big yes to all that!

This live performance and the blistering guitar work remind me of Cream at their best. Take a listen and be prepared to have your senses dazed!

Connect with Four Colour Ghosts:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram /

Stream their music: Spotify / YouTube / Soundcloud

Purchase it: iTunes

 

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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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.

Song Review: THE OCCASIONAL ANGELS – “Fool For Love”

occasional-angels

I’ve said it before, but must repeat once again that I love Twitter because every single day it introduces me to all kinds of artists making all kinds of music. One of my recent surprise finds is the Ottawa, Canada-based trio who call themselves The Occasional Angels. Formed only recently in July 2016, they’re a new collective of three talented and highly-accomplished musicians with extensive backgrounds in the industry. Their music style is decidedly eclectic, drawing upon influences ranging from rock’n’roll, folk, country, pop, blues and jazz. Making the music are songwriter and rhythm guitarist David Hart, producer-arranger and multi-instrumentalist Scott Paterson, and soulful vocalist Cris Ruggiero.

The trio recorded their excellent debut album Renascimento during the summer and early fall of 2016, releasing it on CD and later on Vinyl through Hart’s independent record label Occasional Angels Records. They released two singles from that album – “Heaven in Denim” and “Winner Takes All” – which received critical acclaim and radio play in Canada, London, Los Angeles and Miami. Further building on that momentum, on February 10 the busy trio dropped an exciting first single of what will be their follow-up album, tentatively scheduled for a summer 2017 release. That new single is “Fool For Love” and it’s pretty incredible.

The track has a soulful rock vibe that’s retro, yet totally fresh, instantly hooking you in with an infectious guitar riff and gorgeous, soaring horns. Throw in Ruggiero’s saucy, bluesy vocals and the result is a deliciously sexy song. Man, can she sing! In her smoky voice that at times reminds me of Amy Winehouse, she croons “And if I love you baby, will you be true to life? I’m just a fool baby, a fool for love.” The guitar solo at the end is scorching hot, and if this song doesn’t have you dancing I just don’t know what to tell you.

The video is every bit as fun as the song. Ruggiero works her way around a record store thumbing through the vinyl collection as she sings the song, and I get the impression she’s thinking about her love interest. Hart is also in the video, as another shopper in the background. The video was filmed at The Record Centre in Ottawa.

I love this song, and look forward to hearing more of this band’s music. Learn more about The Occasional Angels by checking out their website. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. “Fool For Love” and Renascimento may be purchased at https://theoccasionalangels.bandzoogle.com/music.