Ephrata – Ephrata (CD)

Long after the media and major labels finally left Seattle alone, the music scene there continued to flourish without the spotlight, branching out from the one or two assigned genres they were shouldered with thanks to lazy journalism. The result is a slew of amazing, inventive bands that still call Seattle home. And among them is Ephrata. Continue reading “Ephrata – Ephrata (CD)”

Soulspan – Hey

On their new track Hey, Soulspan call back to the storied days of the middle 1990s and adopt hints of Jane’s Addiction and Pearl Jam. The bit of jam-band meets indie-rock that the band crafts is unique but builds upon a rich tradition. Taut instrumentation and catchy, dreamy vocals will draw listeners in while the overall arrangement of Hey is something that will continue new twists and turns each and every time that listeners play the track. The rapid switches through tempos and sounds make this into a track that is ready for rock radio rotation. Give Hey a spin.

Soulspan – Hey / 2017 Self Released / https://www.soulspanofficial.com/

The Outdoor Type – Perspectives EP (CD)

Zack Buchanan, playing under the moniker The Outdoor Type, may just have one official EP to be judged on at the moment, but in those four tracks he shows immense promise. Sounding like a slightly more laid-back Frank Turner, there are hints at folk, pop and Americana, all vying for attention on Perspectives, the Australian natives Netwerk debut. Continue reading “The Outdoor Type – Perspectives EP (CD)”

Mr. Flannery and His Feelings – “Pushing Up”

Hints of They Might Be Giants and 1980s indie rock in the vein of The Talking Heads. Of particular note during Pushing Up has to be the robust musicianship; the complex arrangement that play in the background here add so much to the earnest and honest vocals laid down by Mr. Flannery and His Feelings. The video for Pushing Up has all of the whimsy present in the song adding an further level of depth to the composition; no matter what sort of music one finds themselves into, Mr. Flannery and His Feelings are able to speak volumes toward. Give Pushing Up a spin.

 

Mr. Flannery and His Feelings/ indie rock/ 2017/ Rhyme & Reason Records/ For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/mrflanneryandhisfeelings/

 

Ace Harper “Neon Heart”

Ace Harper’s “Neon Heart” is a strong blend of indie rock and pop styles, making for an absolutely dreamy sort of track that will tattoo its melodies deep into listeners’ hearts. The tremendous instrumentation present during Neon Heart deserves additional spins; there is a dark, rich, and absolutely brooding backing beat that provides additional complexity to the lyrics that Ace Harper is laying down here. There are hints of Echosmith and The Breeders; this is something wholly new that works well no matter where one decides to slot the single. Ace Harper brings considerable charisma to Neon Heart, to the degree that we will be eagerly anticipating more music coming from her later this year and next.

 

Ace Harper “Neon Heart” / https://www.facebook.com/aceharper20/

Kris Heaton – “World Gone Mad”

Who Let the Bullets Fly is a rock track that has a hopeful sound that builds off of the style of performers like John Mellencamp and U2; the drums and guitar dynamic that represent the backing instrumentation for this first effort set the stage for the music and overall approach that is to follow. Kris’ vocals are dynamic, unique, and take all of the best parts of 1970s rock and 1980s hair metal. Thoughtful arrangements ensure that listeners will have to play the World Gone Mad CD multiple times before hearing each wrinkle included. World Gone Mad, the titular single, goes back into the days of melodic metal in the vein of Alice Cooper and Queensryche; the statements and lyrics laid down here by Heaton paint a dark story that expresses some of the major issues of current existence. When We Danced is a higher energy effort that will tattoo itself deep into the minds and hearts of listeners; of particular note during this single has to be the tremendous emotional content of Heaton’s vocals and the thoughtful dynamic crafted between the guitars, bass, and drums.

When the Sun Goes Down is a high-water mark on World Gone Mad, adding further variation and tools to Kris’ arsenal; the ability of Heaton to continually innovate even into the second half of the album is unparalleled when it comes to current and contemporary musicians.

During Where the Wind Blows, all parts – the guitar work, Heaton’s vocals, and the driving tempo – unite to make an absolutely epic sound that acts as a soft stop for the disc. Better World is the final statement on this album, moving into the electrified rock of acts like Boston and Styx. Hints of Whitesnake and Motley Crue can be heard before the last note rings out.

Top Tracks:  When the Sun Goes Down, Where the Wind Blows

Rating: 8.5/10

Kris Heaton – “World Gone Mad” / 2017 Self Released / 12 Tracks / http://krisheatonband.com/https://www.facebook.com/KrisHeatonBand/

The Accidentals – Odyssey (CD)

Many (most?) bands are quick to point out just how hard their music is to classify, but to be honest you can usually ascribe a tag to just about any group just a few songs in, regardless of how long they have managed to convince themselves they are genre agnostic. The Michigan trio, The Accidentals, may just be one of the few exceptions, though. Continue reading “The Accidentals – Odyssey (CD)”

World War IX “Thank God It’s Monday”

World War IX’s “Thank God It’s Monday” a direct call back to the late seventies and early eighties punk of acts like The Dickies and Black Flag. The snotty vocals, direct guitar lines, and splashy drum fills make for a track that will have fans singing along even after a few listens. The track is not long – a bit under three minutes – but the confidence that World War IX exudes through the entirety of this new single is considerable. The concluding drum line provides an emphatic exclamation mark onto one of the most honest punk songs we’ve heard this year.

World War IX “Thank God It’s Monday” / https://www.facebook.com/World-War-IX-WWIX-122625501170653/

Sarah Ragsdale “Ferris Wheel”

Sarah Ragsdale’s “Ferris Wheel” is a slinky, fun track that looks back to the days of strong female pop-alternative rock. The sequenced percussion meshes well with the strong guitar riffs. The repetition of specific words and phrases during Ferris Wheel ensures rthat the track will be tattooed deep into the minds and hearts of listeners. While relatively short in terms of run time (a hair under three minutes), the song showcases a good amount of Ragsdale’s unique approach to music. This is decidedly a track that could garner radio play on a whole slew of distinct radio formats. Continue reading “Sarah Ragsdale “Ferris Wheel””

Harmful If Swallowed – Sleepless

Blame is the first track off of Harmful If Swallowed’s current EP, Sleepless. The track ties together Blink 182 and Rise Against. There is a high energy, smart guitar work, and multiple part harmonies that unite to create a melody that buries itself deep into the minds and hearts of listeners. The bass line is prominent here, adding a nice chunkiness to the effort that counters the sizzling guitar work quite well. Dreamkiller is a perfectly polished piece of pop-punk. The start-stop style of Harmful If Swallowed provides a good boost to the EPs’ momentum. This really shows the technical ability of the members of the band. The supersonic sound that the band crafts from 1:45 to about 2:10 is some of the finest musicianship we’ve heard this year. The extended instrumental section that exists just after that gradually slows things down before the band is able to close up shop.

Forever is an effort that keeps the Sleepless EP interesting. This slower, more love-tinged track is substantially different from the rest of the tracks on this release. By slowing this sound down a bit, Harmful If Swallowed is able to put the focus back on the talented arrangements that comprise the vast majority of the track. The guitars come back to great effect, a trend that is continued through the penultimate track In Trust. In Terust unites rapid vocals and guitars into an effort that does not let fans breathe. This is pure late-1990s pop punk done right, with lush production and all members of the band contributing equally to the overall sound. The Sleepless EP concludes with the titular effort. The different sound of this last track both closes up the EP nicely and showcases a path that Harmful If Swallowed may take in the follow-up to this release.

Top Tracks: Forever, Dreamkiller

Harmful If Swallowed – Sleepless / 2017 Self Released / http://www.harmfulifswallowedband.com/