New Song of the Week: ELEPHANT GUN RIOT – “Man Down”

Elephant Gun Riot Man Down

Elephant Gun Riot (is that not a great band name or what!) is a female-fronted modern rock band based in Spokane, Washington. Formed in 2013, the five-piece is made up of vocalist Caitlin Rose, guitarists and brothers Zach Wirchak and Sean Ciolli, bassist Patrick Rooks, and drummer Mike Lowe. They released their debut EP Sic Infit in 2014, and followed with their self-title album Elephant Gun Riot in 2016. Since then, they’ve release two more EPs and several singles, including a face-melting cover of Billie Eilish’s “You Should See Me in a Crown”. Now they’re back with “Man Down“, their first original single of 2019 and my selection for New Song of the Week.

It’s a banger of a tune, featuring the band’s signature sweeping melodies and roiling riffs of gnarly guitars, driven hard by an explosive rhythm section. Wirchak and Ciolli’s intricate, layered guitar work is impressive, running the gamut from delicate chiming notes to some serious shredding, and everything in between. Rooks lays down a crushing bass line while Lowe pounds his drum kit like a banshee. And then there’s Rose, who has a beautiful, yet incredibly powerful vocal style that pairs perfectly with their hard-rocking sound. Here, she raises goosebumps with her raw, impassioned vocals as she rails against another’s deceit and betrayal,”The truth will find you out. So long now. You best get out of town. Long gone (Man down).” Listen and see for yourself:

Connect with Elephant Gun Riot:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Google Play

APRIL ART – Single Review: “You Want it All”

April Art

April Art is an exciting and attractive alternative/modern rock band based in Geissen, Germany who formed in 2014. Comprised of Lisa-Marie Watz on vocals, Chris Bunnell on guitar, Nico Neufeld on bass, and Ben Juelg on drums, the quartet has been making a name for themselves in Central Hessen and beyond with their hard-driving melodic sound and powerful, charismatic live performances. 

They released their first singles “You Remind Me (Of the Things I Hate)” and “Comeback” in 2015, and followed in 2018 with the anthemic “We Got the Wheels”. In October 2018, they released “Not Fair”, the first single from their forthcoming debut album Rise & Fall, due for release in late April. The album was recorded at the Horus Sound Studio in Hanover and in the legendary Principal Studios, under the guidance of producers Fabio Trentini (Donots, Guano Apes) and Frank Bornemann (Scorpions). In late December, April Art dropped their second single “You Want it All“, and like “Not Fair”, it’s a monster of a tune, and a good indication that Rise & Fall is going to kick ass!

The band play their respective instruments at full throttle, immediately slamming us against the wall as they engulf us in a torrent of thunderous sound. Chris delivers intricate, jaw-dropping riffs of blistering guitar while Nico lays down a solid bedrock of pulsating bass. Ben beats his drum kit with the ferocity of a rampaging beast, skillfully holding back when necessary for greatest effect. And then there’s Lisa’s vocals – wow, this woman can sing! One moment she draws us in with her seductive croons, then hits us with a battering ram of raw, impassioned screams the next. Like all their songs, April Art keeps us fully enraptured by their exhilarating sound from start to finish. It’s a brilliant song guaranteed to raise goosebumps on any lover of rock.

The biting lyrics speak of someone who surrenders their principles and demeans themselves for material gain and power, not realizing that they’re enslaved by that which they seek:

Ain’t no kids no more
Nobody protects this open door
Living a lie right now
But the truth you can’t allow

You made it
Now you must lie in it

You want it all
But you just fall
Why can’t you see
That you’re not free, so
You want it all
But you just fall
you have agreed, yes you’ve agreed to crawl

Was it an obligation?
Or was it another temptation?
You think you’ve chosen the right way
But this is not a game we play

The fantastic video, which was filmed and edited by Ben Juelg of Loud & Proud Studios, really showcases the band’s charisma and powerful impact.

Catch April Art at one of these upcoming shows:

MAY 4              Rise & Fall Album Release Show – Geissen, Germany
MAY 25            Weil’s Rockt – Weilmünster, Germany
JUNE 15            Rock the Wolves – Wolfhalden, Switzerland
JULY 6              Erlensee Rockt Open Air Festival – Erlensee, Germany
AUGUST 2       Big Day Out Festival – Anröchte, Germany
AUGUST 10     Music Forge Festival – Gambach, Germany
SEPT 27           Papalala Festival – Treis, Germany

Connect with April Art:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify
Purchase on iTunes

FIELDCREST – EP Review: “Canvas”

Fieldcrest EP

Guitarist/songwriter Will Thacker and singer/songwriter Jena Jones were both artists from small towns, each struggling on their own in the search for someone to work with to bring their songs to life and get them heard. After nearly giving up hope, Will almost jokingly posted an ad in his home town of Casper, Wyoming, and to his surprise and good fortune, Jena answered and Fieldcrest was born. (Jena is now based in Wyoming, and Will in Georgia.) Incorporating elements of their shared love of music influences ranging from 70s classic rock to grunge, they developed their own hard-driving style of modern rock, and began fleshing out songs Will had written, which they presented to the world with the release of their debut EP Meadowlark this past April. Building on the success of that EP, they continued writing and recording new songs, which are featured on their second EP Canvas, which dropped on September 14.

The songs address themes of self-identity, life changes and loss. First up is “Strange Girl,” a rather dark-sounding but optimistic song about female empowerment. Jena’s clear vocals are filled with urgency as she sings the lyrics encouraging a woman who’s marching to her own beat but unsure of her path: “You’re a little unconventional, strange girl. Don’t be discouraged, you are wonderful. I know you’re scared, but you will be OK. There is nothing in your way, except you.” Will’s guitar work is impressive as he delivers an array of textures ranging from delicate strums to jagged, gnarly riffs, all nicely layered over a throbbing bass line and anchored by a strong drumbeat. The track closes with a gently strummed guitar that gradually fades to quiet but, curiously, continues for another 30 seconds after the music ends.

Perhaps it’s to provide a moment of calm before the storm, which arrives like a thunderbolt in the form of the next track “Tuesday.” The song blasts through the gates with bombastic riffs of Will’s raging guitars and pounding drums. Jena emotionally sings of being stuck in a rut, feeling like she’s losing herself: “Sitting in the same place, same chair as I did last year. You’re in the same place. Hey do I know you? I don’t think so. Life’s too short for this.” The heavy modern rock goodness continues with the hard-hitting “The Silence,” a song about a couple who’ve gotten to the point where they’re no longer able to communicate with each other. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but Will’s guitar work is so fucking good! He shreds and distorts his six string, coaxing riffs that sing, wail and soar, bringing goosebumps. The song has an Evanescence vibe, partly due to the fact I think Jena’s strong, passionate vocals remind me a bit of Amy Lee.

Transitional” is a lovely instrumental interlude consisting only of a simple piano movement, along with the sound of falling rain at the beginning and end. It’s sublime, and I’d love to hear more music like this from Fieldcrest, as one of them is a pretty good pianist.

The final track is the dark and mournful “Empty.” a powerful song about dealing with loss. Will’s jagged and wailing guitars, combined with Jena’s emotionally-wrought vocals, dramatically convey the heartbreak and desolation that remains after the death of a loved one. It’s a phenomenal song.

In my grief I just can’t accept this
It’s a blow that knocks me to my knees
In my grief I held you last night but then I woke up empty
I’m gonna miss you forever
I would have never pictured life without you
You helped hold me together
How can I be strong without you
People keep talking at me about how God has called you home
A Part of me hopes they’re right cause you had so little time
It seems so unfair, I wasn’t ready to let you go

I will admit that it took a couple of listens for these songs to really click with me, but once they did, I was hooked on this band. Jena’s sultry and emotive vocal style is utterly beguiling and Will’s guitar-playing is positively badass! Canvas is a solid EP, and I look forward to hearing more from Fieldcrest very soon.

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

REALITY SUITE – EP Review: “Awaken”

Reality Suite

Reality Suite is a New Jersey-based rock band with a fresh sound defined by scorching riffs and anthemic melodies. The band was formed in 2009 by three life-long friends, Brian King (drums) Antonio Valenti (bass) and Joe Padula (guitars). After struggling through a string of male and female vocalists, the wonderful Kimmii Heart came to the rescue, and their winning lineup was firmly established. They released their debut album Skinn to critical acclaim in 2015, and followed a year later with the single “Bury Me Alive.” This May, they dropped their EP Awaken, which I have the pleasure of reviewing today.

The EP is a deeply personal work for the band, each of whom have experienced the death of a loved one in the past few years. In an interview with, Brian explained: “During the writing for what became “Awaken,” Kimmii and I realized most of what we were writing about were losing loved ones. Each of us had lost someone close to us in the last two years. I lost my mother in 2016 to lung cancer – which spawned the song “Cut, Burn Bruise.” Kimmii lost a close family friend which inspired “Grave.” Antonio lost his mother and Joe had lost an Aunt in 2017 – so, as much as “Grave” and “Cut” are about missing a loved one, in the context with the other songs – “Awaken” becomes an album about recovery and rebirth…leaving the pain behind and moving on. The songs “Live Now Forever,” “Dead to Me,” and “Lust” drive that point home.”

Dead to Me” perfectly exemplifies their dynamic, hard-hitting sound. Brian’s pounding drumbeats establish a sturdy foundation for Joe’s gritty riffs and Antonio’s buzzsaw bass lines, though the song also has moments of relative calm where glossy synths and delicate guitar notes dominate. Kimmii’s emotive vocals run the gamut from seductive purr to malevolent snarl to impassioned wail as she throws dark shade on someone she’s clearly had enough of: “I’m done playing nice with your sick little ways. Breaking my back just to keep you away. It’s over this time I’m losing my mind. You think that I’m blind well I’m feeling like – You’re dead to me!” The music and vocals ultimately build to a crescendo, with sweeping strings, wailing guitars and a soaring harmonic chorus that make for a dramatic finish.

Grave” is a dark anthemic ballad with fantastic guitar work that wends its way amongst the crushing bass and crashing cymbals. Kimmii’s passionate echoed vocals are marvelous. The band dials things up a notch on “Live Now Forever,” a terrific head-banger with fierce riffs of fuzzy guitars and humming bass. I like the way Joe makes his guitar squeal, and his blistering riffs and Brian’s pummeling drums in the bridge and final chorus are fire. Kimmii’s vocal gymnastics are impressive as she matches the fury of the instrumentals note for note. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the EP.

Another powerful anthem, “Cut, Burn, Bruise” is about missing someone so desperately you’d do almost anything to have them back: “Can’t bring you back. So I drive through the night. Going fast makes me feel alive. You make me feel alive. / Love’s a cut, a burn, a bruise. But I loved you til I’m black and blue. Feeling broken, I am learning to live without you. But I’d die for another day with you.” Reality Suite keeps the hard-driving rock grooves coming with “Lust.” These musicians are really at the top of their game, delivering more of their signature fiery riffs, throbbing bass and tumultuous percussion, and Kimmii’s dazzling vocals raise plenty of goosebumps. It’s a great track, and Awaken is an awesome little EP that packs one hell of a mighty wallop.

Connect with Reality Suite:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes / cdbaby

BLUE HELIX – Single & Video Review: “Anti-Social Butterfly”

Blue Helix is an outstanding alternative hard rock band I’ve been following on Twitter for a while, and I’m pleased to finally feature them on this blog. With roots in both Washington state and São Paulo, Brazil, they’re an international band based in the small city of Puyallup, which lies in the shadow of Mt. Rainier approximately 35 miles south of Seattle. Founded by front man, guitarist and lead vocalist Sami Chohfi in 2008, Blue Helix also includes Arman Birang on guitar, Brandon “Wolf” Gebhardt on bass, and Marco Bicca on drums.

Blue Helix

About their multi-cultural origins, Marco is from Brazil, and Sami – who is half Brazilian and lived there earlier in his life and continues to live there part of the year – drove from his home in Florida to Seattle in 2001 at the age of 18 with the purpose of forming a band. In an interview with the webzine Voodoo Queen Digital Magazine, Sami stated that his inspiration to become a musician came from “seeing a video on MTV from a band called Nirvana. It changed my life entirely. Music was all I had to heal me and shield me from my difficult childhood.” He’s also a big fan of the Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, and the late Chris Cornell, so relocating to Seattle made perfect sense. After moving to Washington, he eventually met Arman and Wolf, who already lived there. Interestingly, Blue Helix recently completed their first-ever tour of Brazil during the second half of March.

They released their debut EP Light the Wick in 2008, followed by a second EP Coda in 2011 and a full album Tale of Two Halves in 2014. In late 2017 they dropped their outstanding EP Anti-Social Butterfly, which addressed topical issues like overcoming self-doubt, feelings of powerlessness and fear resulting from bullying and abuse. Sami was bullied at school and at home, and wanted to write a song and create a video that would help give hope and empowerment to people who’ve suffered from any form of bullying. The powerful title track “Anti-Social Butterfly” is the result.

Anti social butterfly

Musically, the track at once bursts wide open to sounds of Marco’s pounding drums and wildly crashing cymbals. Arman’s razor-sharp riffs swirl and rip through the airwaves, anchored by Wolf’s heavy buzzing bass. Sami’s vocals are raw and impassioned as he snarls the biting lyrics denouncing those who put him down, stripping him of his dignity and self-worth, and rising up to throw off the emotional chains and become the person he was meant to be. His vocals lower to a seductive, almost sinister tone in the bridge, only to explode into visceral screams as guitars rage and Marco nearly beats his drums to the breaking point. It’s a hard-hitting track that leaves you spent by the end.

I carry weight as heavy as scars
I wear my pain like it’s art
If it’s time to let it all go
Maybe I can take a piece to hold

You don’t like the man I am
Like I ruined all your plans
He said “Son, it’s just a tiny phase or maybe time to revelate”

Anti-social Butterfly
Spread your wings and learn to lie
You take me for a broken man
But baby I’m your biggest fan

And I would sell my soul
There’s nothing left to save at all
They’ve taken everything
And If I could I’d wish it all away
I’d disassociate, drive them all insane
This has become my own type of hell

I just wanna feel something
I just wanna be someone else
I just wanna feel something now
You don’t like the man I am
Like I ruined all your plans
I’m an Anti-social Butterfly
And I am here to take what’s mine

The powerful video is a perfect embodiment of the song’s lyrics. Scenes of the band performing the song at a boxing ring – with Sami standing inside of it – are interwoven with an unfolding story of a young man being bullied in high school. He then decides to bulk up and train to be a boxer, ultimately defeating his worst tormentor in the ring at the end. It’s fantastic, and for someone like me who was also bullied as a child both at home and at school, incredibly satisfying.

Connect with Blue Helix:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify /  Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  iTunes / Bandcamp / cdbaby