Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Broken Past release “Some Gave All”

Broken Past may play much different music, but they are looking to join the same roster of high quality popular music talent emerging from New Jersey since the mid-20 th century. Their metal and hard rock chops are second to none, the result of innate skill and touring as much as possible since their 2015 formation. Their single “Some Gave All” from the EP Time for Change shows how far the four piece band has traveled since first hitting the scene and hints at even greater glories to come. It has an undeniable message, not a typical one however, and lead vocalist Frank Acee communicates his heartache and appreciation for the sacrifices of those who served the United States in a way you cannot ignore. His voice matches up nicely with the instruments and arrangement alike and he has the rare skill for singers in this style to deliver a credible vocal in more than just a single range.

They pluck their sound from a basketful of varied influences. Broken Past cite Bret Michaels, AC/DC, Overkill, and Black Sabbath, along with some other incongruous matches, as their musical touchstones and the impressive thing is you can, indeed, hear touches reminiscent of those artists. It is further impressive those influences are detectable without compromising the unique nature of Broken Past’s feel for the style. They are not imitators; they play, write, and perform with their own twist on time-tested styles. It makes the listening experience all the more enjoyable. 

They opt for a more extended approach regarding song length. There’s a hint, just a sliver, of progressive metal running through this track. You can hear it in the band’s willingness to tackle potentially thorny tempo changes and their ability to demonstrate their playing gifts without ever sounding ostentatious. The track boasts commercial edges, but its near six and a half minute duration precludes it finding much favor on radio due without a judicious editing job.  

 I love the way this band understands the value of light and shadow in their music. The alternating sections of this track fit in lockstep with one another and Broken Past moves in and out of the transitions without straying off path. Guitarist Wayne White leads the way to these ears as he moves between outright juggernaut riffing and artful atmospherics with equal skill. It’s a fantastic all-around performance from a band nowhere near the peak of their powers. Adding a great video just rounds things off. The music video revolves around three central motifs – funeral clips full of aging veterans honoring their dead comrades, folding flags, war footage from over the last century, and footage of the band playing the song for viewers. It is, in some respects, a classic music video, but the addition of the war footage makes it stand out more than it otherwise might. 

Some Gave All” is a heated and intense musical tribute to the fallen who fought for our beliefs and throbs with meaning. If this single is your introduction to Broken Past, you couldn’t meet them in a better way.

Scottie Carlito

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Paul Mark & The Van Dorens test "Gravity"

NYC-based Paul Mark & The Van Dorens test the Gravity of the situation on this great new LP, with songs about everything from thoughts of the day to thoughts of yesterday. Gravity is an album that floats any boat down the stream of the unknown while it takes the scenic route to get there and has tons of fun on the way, along with some heartfelt sentiments. These musicians are not only good but they’re as fun as they are serious, especially the featured man up front, Paul Mark himself. And not being familiar with him, the great thing is he has a vast back catalog to delve into from here. 

 Gravity runs prolific, and it runs in a succession of songs that fit the title which is about losing ground and going with the rocky flow. The artist reminds me of various songwriters of the past who mixed a bit of comedy with a serious songwriting approach, not unlike Warren Zevon and others. “Gravity Is Failing” begins the album with some tongue in check lyrics that challenge feeling well grounded. It’s very cool and contains some excellent violin. This might be the best track on the LP, but that can also vary the more I hear it. The lovely piano playing of Paul Mark dominates most of the songs and comes on heavy as “Forever” takes you away and it’s only “I Spin When You Grin” that can change the mood. And change the mood it does, and if I had to call a second favorite track it would be this one, as it goes very well with the opener. And that means all-the more to come must be worth sticking around for, so I did and “The Next Fight” is what I got. 

Another marvelous song with everything that’s good about this band. “Coronation” stands out to be a token instrumental and a very commanding studio performance by all. Hat’s off to another top shelf effort serving as a highlight in the Gravity of the situation. “Con Man VIP” is next and could get some attention or not for the subject matter but either way it’s out forever and will be heard. But the mood changes all the way up on “Friend Gone Astray” but you can add it to the amount of world class ballads on the album and they’re all really soulful and gritty to the max. 

“You Can Take It With You” is where more comedy come into the lyrical picture but it’s all very lighthearted where needed and more heavy handed in the right places. The point is there either way you slice it. “OTB” is the track I listen to the least, so far, and it still has something I am sure that will ultimately click. But things pick back up with a respectable cover of the classic Yardbirds song “Heart Full Of Soul” which is faithful to the original but not without the stamp of Paul Mark as it leads out the last couple of song on what is a brilliant 2020 release. 

 Scottie Carlito

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Dizzy Box Nine’s Faster Than Anticipation LP

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when fiery guitar licks, wild pop hooks, smooth vocal harmonies and radio-friendly rhythms get thrown into a post-millennium blender, getting ahold of Dizzy Box Nine’s Faster Than Anticipation LP should be a top priority this summer. Outfitted with fourteen party-starting tracks, including the feel-good “Friday Night,” “If This Is Real,” the distortion-packed diary entry “Near You” and single-caliber “This Is All For You,” Faster Than Anticipation never gives us a chance to catch our breath – it just keeps rocking harder and harder as we go. Valuing melody as much as they do the virtuosity of speed and efficiency, Dizzy Box Nine give us an album that is everything Pop Fantasy was and more in this latest release, and for those of us who were swept away by that LP’s sizzling tracklist, this couldn’t be hitting record store shelves at a better time this July. Rockers needn’t look any further for a cathartic good time than this album’s content, and something tells me that I’m not going to be the only critic remarking as much this season. 

There definitely a raw, punkish element to “Phone Bill,” “The Sun Came Out The Other Day,” “Little By Little” and “If This Is Real,” but there’s nothing in Faster Than Anticipation that I would say qualifies as being particularly abrasive or inaccessible to the casual rock fan. The framework behind the majority of the music here is steeped in pure pop aesthetics, with songs like “Near You,” “OK, OK,” “It’ll Be OK,” “Let’s Go Skating” and “Friday Night” exhibiting as much of The Beatles as they do Blink-182, but it’s worth pointing out that they share little – if anything at all – of their faceting with contemporary radio pop. Personally, I’d really like to hear all of the aforementioned songs in a live setting, if for no other reason than to hear how Dizzy Box Nine would broach performing them outside of the studio environment. The compositional integrity behind Faster Than Anticipation’s best moments is more than flexible enough to support multiple medleys and extended jams, and that much is obvious even to the most novice of critical ears. 

I fell in love with Pop Fantasy the first time I listened to it, and I will say that Faster Than Anticipation doesn’t disappoint as its sequel by any means. One of the reasons why I have a lot of respect for this group is because of their ability to evolve their sound without abandoning any of the core aesthetics that gave them an edge over the competition to start with. They’re still the same band they were when they recorded their debut, but they’re refining the skillset they began with exponentially through consistent creative chemistry (which I don’t see going anywhere anytime soon). They say it’s a rough time to be a rock n’ roll group right now, but from the looks of how Dizzy Box Nine feel about life, they aren’t experiencing any of the stresses their closest rivals have been.

 Scottie Carlito

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Makes My Blood Dance’s “Power of the Lightside”

Heavy as they come but not devoid of a signature melodic charm that is pretty difficult to work into something as metallically menacing, the fretwork in Makes My Blood Dance’s “Power of the Lightside” is, as one would imagine, the main draw in this flamboyant new hard rock tune. In the video for “Power of the Lightside” or in the song by itself, the guitars don’t glide - they crash into one another, demanding a response from anyone who happens to be within reach of the angst-ridden harmonies. Rock isn’t dead in 2020, and if someone told you it was, they clearly weren’t listening to Make My Blood Dance. 

MORE ON MAKES MY BLOOD DANCE: http://makesmyblooddance.com/ 

The vocals here are really sharp from start to finish, and through their defined presence in the mix I think they give the lyrics they convey a little more heart than what would have already been present in “Power of the Lightside.” There aren’t a lot of hard rock or metal groups known for their powerful lead singers anymore, but in more ways than one, this is part of the reason why Makes My Blood Dance are such a standout. They’re melodic enough to be called a retro act, but their music is hardly the product of icon-worship alone. There’s definitely a pretty strong stadium rock influence that’s easy for even the most novice of critics to pick up on in “Power of the Lightside,” but all of the indulgence that this invites into the music is rather refreshing beside the minimalist trends of the American rock underground at the moment. Lately it’s felt as though no one had the desire, nor the mere courage, to commit something as large and in charge as this song to master tape, but with the arrival of Makes My Blood Dance in the spotlight, maybe some of their contemporaries will feel inspired to take the leap into positive aural excess. 

The video for “Power of the Lightside” is a simple one, dissing conceptualism in favor of sticking with something that exudes raw power and reestablishes what we already could have guessed about these guys - they’re party animals with a penchant for introspection and surreal artistry if given enough time and space for it to develop. This is a group that is in love with the rockstar persona in the best possible way, and if that leads them into more creative writing sessions together, I for one encourage the idea of staying with this present trajectory. Makes My Blood Dance are rockers in an age of electronic harmonies and forced synthetic grooves, and for some of us, they’re exactly what the doctor ordered this summer. Rock n’ roll has been suffering, along with its most loyal fans, for well over a decade and a half now, but instead of picking up another pseudo-Queens of the Stone Age album or something dreadful bearing the Imagine Dragons moniker, I would instead recommend trying out what this group is cutting from deep within the annals of the American indie underground. 

Scottie Carlito

Friday, May 29, 2020

Reverse Mechanic releases new single “Head in the Clouds”

Outfitted with a rollicking guitar melody and a spitfire set of rhymes from Reverse Mechanic himself, the new single “Head in the Clouds” might not be an easy track to classify, but that’s exactly what makes it such a hot listen. Reverse Mechanic combines Say Anything-style pop-rock with a loose, unflinching hip-hop attack that is on-point from beginning to end here. His delivery is quite fiery, but make no mistake about it; this is a show of melodic strength more than it is anything else. “Head in the Clouds” is as cerebral as its title would imply, yet more centered than anything its creators has produced before.

 The vocal is the main star of the show whether we’re listening to the song on its own or watching the music video. While Reverse Mechanic varies his speed, customizes his flow and maximizes his showmanship in a couple of key junctures here, one thing he never does is invite overindulgence into this mix. He appears to have no interest in riding a fat beat into the horizon here; there is no monstrous bass breakdown, nor any looping sample for him to straddle. He’s thinking like a composer in “Head in the Clouds,” and not like some random rapper off the internet.

I hadn’t heard very much of Reverse Mechanic’s music before getting ahold of “Head in the Clouds” just this past week, but I can tell you now that I’m definitely going to be listening for more in the future. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself here, and whether that swagger is sourced from within or from the instrumental prowess he affords this track and its video, it’s something I’m dying to hear more of. Reverse Mechanic isn’t looking to reinvent rap in “Head in the Clouds,” but he’s definitely making his own mark on the genre regardless.

Scottie Carlito

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Jefferson Thomas releases “Greyhound Bus” Single-Video

A vocal harmony as potent as a roaring Midwestern wind. Rollicking acoustic guitars that meet their perfect match in an electrified lead. A swinging beat that rocks with as much passion as any of Jefferson Thomas’ verses ever could. Wearing his heart on his sleeve like few others in his genre are able or willing to, Thomas offers up one of the brightest jams of spring 2020 thus far in “Greyhound Bus.” Whether enjoyed in its music video form or in its original incarnation on the recently released Sixteen Sundays LP, “Greyhound Bus” is one song you definitely want to stop and spend some time with this May. 

The compositional framework here is very rock-centric, but I will say that the pastoral sensibilities make it just as accessible to country fans as well. There’s a blend of themes and aesthetical components in this track that would seemingly be straight out of the 80’s heartland rock playbook, but I wouldn’t deem “Greyhound Bus” a throwback to the old school. This feels more like a celebration of influences than it does the watering-down of a familiar sound, and for what I look for in Thomas’ style of music, his is a tough brand to beat.

I was admittedly impressed with what I heard in Jefferson Thomas’ debut album Play Hurt back in 2017, but his most recent work shows a tremendous amount of growth I wasn’t anticipating I’d find so early on in his career. There’s not a doubt in my mind that he’s cultivating his craft at the right pace in 2020, and with a little more exposure on the college radio front, his momentum is going to increase a lot sooner than later. Indie rock fans everywhere should take notice – this is an artist you need to have on your radar. 

Scottie Carlito

“Midnight Cowboy” by Antherius

In his surreal adaptation of the iconic “Midnight Cowboy,” Antherius combines atmospheric melodies with profoundly crisp beats for what could be one of the smarter new indie videos of the season. Originally recorded a few years ago, Antherius’ “Midnight Cowboy” finds a second wind this spring courtesy of a COVID-19-inspired music video lamenting the ambience of a now-deserted New York City. Sonically one of the more provocative numbers I’ve heard in this artist’s discography, it’s easily among the more intriguing listens I would recommend to fans of instrumental music in 2020 without question. 

The music video for “Midnight Cowboy” stimulates all of our senses at once whilst paying tribute to the cosmopolitan lights of New York City, but its true centerpiece is its soundtrack. Strangely elegant and yet cutting and evocatively stoic in a couple of its most exciting moments, the rhythm of the song is defined by a synthetic harmony as grand as the Long Island Sound. While there’s a lot more indulgence in this variation on the composition than some mainstream fans might be prepared for, it’s completely necessary to maximizing the catharsis of the harmony here. Antherius is a very methodical player, and if that wasn’t clear before, it should be when other critics get ahold of this latest document. 

Though the year has been filled with strife in ways that most of us wouldn’t have fathomed back in 2019, Antherius nevertheless delivers an ambient gem in “Midnight Cowboy” seemingly perfect for the times we’re living in. You don’t need an extensive background with experimental artistry to find something to love about this track and its postmodern music video, but if you’ve got a taste for the surreal, it’s a tough release to top right now. Whether isolated or in the company of friends and family, “Midnight Cowboy” has the sonic capacity to whisk away your worries on the spot this May. 

Scottie Carlito

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Interview with Alanzo

Hey Alonzo! So excited to be chatting with you! Can you tell us a little something about yourself?

Hey! Excited to chat with you as well. Thank you for having me. A little about myself? Hmmm. I’d say I’m just a small-town boy with big dreams and a lot of talent. I come from humble beginnings and I’ve overcome many obstacles however I’ve never stopped chasing my dream. Now I pride myself in inspiring others to fight for their own. 

What inspired you to pursue music? 

 Music has really always been a part of my life. I’d say my biggest inspiration was Michael Jackson and through him discovering the power that music can have. This power inspires me because I know the good that can be done through it. A good that will last far beyond my life. Music is power because music is universal and music is forever. How would you describe your musical style? I’d say I’m a fusion of genres. A little Rock, A lot of soul, and a touch of pop. Rock Pop Soul is what we call it. 

What artists do you look up to right now? 

BeyoncĂ© & Fantasia are my top 2 at the moment. Both at 2 different levels of success but they both possess that power that I speak of. 

What would you say is your most braggable moment

Definitely being the first lead singer approved by the Prince Estate to sing on the 4 U Prince Tour

What has been the greatest lesson you have learned from a mistake? 

My greatest lesson has been not to act out of emotion. Impulsive decision making is dangerous. I now consciously try to work hard not to make permanent decisions from temporary emotions. 

Why do you think social media is so important for artists today?

It’s important because it gives us access to people and our fans without anyone’s permission. It’s the one tool that artist have to become successful on their own. FREE Exposure. 

How has this whole music career experience been? 

My career has been a journey for sure. I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve toured, I’ve been told no, I’ve lost major opportunities when it wasn’t my fault but I have ALWAYS kept fighting and I refuse to give up. I truly can’t see myself doing anything else. Its definitely been the most exciting part of my life. I never know what’s going to happen or what the future brings but it gives me something to work hard for and something to believe in. A life with a reason to wake up is a life worth living. My dream to have a successful music career is the driving force of my life. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring music artists? 

Even when you’re taking baby steps you are still moving forward. DO IT even when you’re afraid. This is a business. If you want to be successful in this business STUDY the business and study your craft. There’s underlining science to people’s success. 

Thank you for your time! 

Thank you! I do not take these opportunities for granted. Sending everyone love and limitless positivity during this trying time. Please follow me on Instagram @StoryOfAlonzo Press: bsquaredmgmt@gmail.com

End of Interview

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Andy Michaels Releases Memorable Single

Surrounded by a vibrant melding of string play organized into a perfect harmony, we find the lead vocal of Andy Michaels ready to seduce anyone it comes into contact with in “Darling It Hurts,” his latest single from the album Incendiary Heart. Like its parent album, “Darling It Hurts” is a product of surrealism without question, but at the same time, it also provides us ample evidence of the complex compositional wit that Andy Michaels possesses when he’s in the studio. 

 This Perth, Australia-based powerhouse has been creating a lot of buzz across the Pacific in the last year, and if you want to know why, I would probably point you to the video for this track before anything else. Despite its grandest feature being the potently emotional soundtrack, the video for this song provokes a reaction made all the more intense by the intimate visual landscape it presents us with (which, I might add, is perfectly synched with the lyrical narrative of this composition). Michaels may not have set out to craft his best song yet when he recorded this single, but nevertheless, I think that’s exactly what he’s done here. 

The equalization of both vocals in this track is very streamlined, but I don’t think I would describe it as being pop-influenced outside of its polished cosmetic front. The instrumental side of “Darling It Hurts” is debatably just as smooth, apart from the raised textures on the rustic string parts shaping the rhythm of the song from the background, but whether it’s the content of the verses or the substance of the harmony that Michaels is leading here, there’s something about the lyrics in this single that feels just a bit more captivating than anything else in the track does. 

I love the way that the strings were arranged as to reduce the tension created by the duet’s melodic ascent, and to some extent, I think that the relationship between these two elements in “Darling It Hurts” actually tells us a vivid story all by itself. There’s no hiding how much talent this Aussie is working with in this track, and in my opinion, its seamless construction alone makes Incendiary Heart worth picking up this spring. 

If you haven’t seen the music video for “Darling It Hurts” or browsed through the tracklist of the album it was cut from, now is the time to get yourself introduced to the latest works of Andy Michaels, who by all accounts is taking the underground world by storm this year. Michaels is facing some of the toughest competition that we’ve seen among indie artists in well over a generation, but if he keeps the attitude that he’s brought to this most recent release, I think he’s going to see his momentum continue to grow both at home and abroad over the course of 2020. 

 As I previously noted, I believe this to be his best work yet, and according to the critical consensus I’m hearing on the international circuit, I’m far from alone. 

Scottie Carlito

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Interview: Joey Stuckey

Hello Joey! Thank you for your time! We would love for you to share with readers who may not know a little about your story of where you started and where you are now. 

Thanks for having me! I started my musical journey when I was around 17 years old with guitar lessons and haven’t looked back. I got started in what I would call the recording sciences when I was around 13 years old and started getting paid to record people and work in sound by the time I was 15 years old. Music has always been an important part of the Stuckey household with both my parents being music fans, but I never really considered having a career in music as a child as I was focused on survival as I am a brain tumor survivor.

The brain tumor took my sight, sense of smell and also left me with a host of other health challenges, like no adrenal function. Despite these challenges I have been able to do all the things I have wanted to do with my life and career. I realized at an early age that music was a beautiful force for positive change and that I would tell my story of overcoming adversity through that vehicle! Over the years, I have done many exciting things and you ain’t seen nothing yet!

 We just finished a great show at the famous Whisky A Go Go and played some great GRAMMY parties in LA and I am about to expand my studio space by around 9,000 square feet. 

For someone just getting into the music business – what is your best one line advice?

Don’t give up. Trust yourself, but be willing to entertain other people’s ideas and opinions. Work hard. In your opinion do you feel like an aspiring musician needs to be in LA to “make it”? You don’t have to live there, but you do need to visit LOL. Of course where you should be depends upon a number of factors including where your fans, or potential fans, are and other things you will need to make your music/brand work. But you will have to go to LA and NYC and Nashville at some point!

Okay so your live show looks like such a good time from the snippets we have seen on IG – tell us what we can expect when we come out to see you. It is about 30% comedy and 70% music—and all heart! We promise to make you think but also to make you groove, and we most certainly will entertain! We love meeting new people and love shaking hands and kissing babies, so come out to a show and we’ll be glad to meet you and spend some time with you! 

Do you have a song that you play every time you do a live show no matter what, if so why that song? 

 We most always do “Take A Walk In The Shadows” which was one of the first songs I ever wrote. It is a great opener with high energy. We also almost always play another original called “Truth Is A Misty Mountain” because it is a band and fan favorite. And we mostly close with the Allman Brothers’ “Whippin’ Post” for the same reason—and our version is cookin’! 

If you could be remembered by only one song, which one are you picking? 

Oh man I don’t know. My answer will most likely change depending upon the mood I am in LOL, but I think my song “Aint It Good To Be In Love”, co-written by my dear friend Charlie Hoskyns, is a good one that folks really have responded to. It is also dear to me because Charlie passed away in 2017 and I like to think I am keeping his musical legacy alive! Tell us where we can catch more of you online and listed to your music! 

End of Interview