it takes the subtleness of a folk song to really hammer home a point. On the
lead off track (“This is Life”) to their self-titled new album, the Kansas City
duo Barnaby Bright deftly cover the struggles war vets face after coming home.
The track leads off with sound clips from George W. Bush and Trump saber
rattling, a sound collage that wouldn’t sound unusual as the intro to an
anti-war punk song, but the band’s beautiful folk pop that follows does a
remarkable job of conveying the message.
also serves as a promise of what’s to follow, as the band – comprised of
husband/wife Nathan and Becky Bliss – reel through 10 solid, satisfying tracks
that always put the vocals at the forefront, blending folk and pop music. But
what separates Barnaby Bright from the traditional acoustic guitar and stool
folk set is their willingness to experiment with different sounds, like the
infectious “This is who I am” chorus running throughout “Who I Am.” Elsewhere,
they still borrow some of the reliable staples from folk music, like the sweet
melodies and the blending of duo vocals, for a traditional spin on their
otherwise updated sound.
a couple of slower, less inspired tracks here and there that seem to drag the
record down a bit, but those moments are few and far between. By leaning back
on some of the reliable conventions while still firmly looking ahead and
willing to branch out, Barnaby Bright have managed to pull out an original
album that sounds both comfortingly traditional and groundbreaking at the same
Wretched Cabaret is a smart inclusion for the opening spot of Legion of Saints’ new EP, Killing The Silence. The assertive backing instrumentation and charismatic lead vocals invite fans in, while the thoughtful arrangement will interested even the most jaded music aficionado.
Can’t Make You Fall in Love with Me is a high-energy track that adds a bit of heavy guitar edge to a mid-oughts Billie Joe Armstrong style of vocal delivery. The production is strong enough to ensure that each constituent element has the ability to shine alone or as part of a greater hole. Listeners will be shown two distinct sides of Legion of Saints after they experience Breathe It In.
Bottle it Up is a great refresher as it allows one to see a distinctly different approach taken by LoS. Out of the collected pentad of efforts presented on Killing The Silence, I feel that Bottle it Up is the cut that could easily garner airplay on traditional pop and rock radio stations. We’re still in love with the Maroon 5 meets Santana lead guitar that is presented during the song’s first half.
Hopelessly Introverted is the final effort on Killing The Silence, allowing fans to hear the band at its most introspective and emotionally intense. A bit of the early-oughts emo rock sound is presented here. The dynamic between the guitar and supersonic vocals here are something special here. With lyrics and a heartfelt approach building off of the framework of Chris Cornell and early Radiohead, Legion of Saints are able to make a grandiose finale. Check out the entirety of LoS’s new EP on Spotify and let us know what you think below.
Top Tracks: Can’t Make You Fall in Love with Me, Breathe It In
lights give way to black and white images of a small, intimate club and the
band that has taken its stage tonight. The bass marches forward with a hesitant
hustle, the guitar follows suit in a harmonious groove. The rhythm that the
drums are conjuring up frames a passionate vocal from the one and only Francine
Honey, who enters the spotlight and immediately commands the attention of
everyone in the room with her emotive singing. We’re in the front row for a
performance from one of the underground’s most discussed crooners this spring,
and she isn’t holding anything back from us in this, her latest single, “Stay.”
“Stay” is a song steeped in melancholy and defined by its pristinely melodic
pleas, but it’s anything but a self-serving exercise in pop egotism.
As cinematic as the
music video is, the soundtrack is the real star here. There’s a lot of details
to be appreciated within the instrumentation, and furthermore, its decadent
arrangement amidst the virtuosic verses that Honey lays down effortlessly. Her
style is unapologetically show-stealing, but it doesn’t ignore the value of
rich tonality as it’s espoused by the glowing guitar parts in this track. The
vocal is as soft as a velvet sheet and dripping with honest pain, the likes of
which many artists would conceal with platitudes and mundane metaphors, but
rather than employing a sonic smokescreen, Honey gets as real as she’s ever
been with us in “Stay,” and subsequently dispenses her most relatable and
endearing song so far.
France Honey continues
to impress discriminating critics and fans like myself with her evolving songcraft
and disciplined use of grandiose textures, and I think that, in many ways, this
new single encapsulates her identity as a composer and vocalist better than any
other that she has released thus far has. She’s a storyteller, a master of
homespun harmonies, and most importantly, a soulful singer who knows a thing or
two about conveying emotions that are otherwise impossible to express in words
alone. I’m going to be keeping tabs on her future output for sure, and once you
get a taste of her latest work, I think you will to.
On Fervent Devise, Plants are able to call back to the rock of the 1960s and 1970s. Infectious guitar lines, charismatic vocals, and shuffling drums laid down by Alex unite to make something tremendously cohesive. With just a hint of 1990s alternative included in the mix, Plants are able to make an effort wholly unique while reverent of influences preceding the act. With the swagger of 1970s-Steven Tyler or Emotional Rescue-era Mick Jagger, Plants are able to craft a song that will stick with listeners long after the song ceases to play. Few acts are able to create such a cohesive sound with a single track; Fervent Devise is an early favorite for this summer.
Remember to Forget is a track that ties together the jam-band sound of Umphrey’s McGee and Gov’t Mule with a more contemplative, Collective Souls meets Wallflowers sort of sounds. The instrumentation that brings fans into Find Your Way stands up to repeat plays, while the passion and range of Chris’s vocals will keep fans firmly focused into the music that is to follow on the band’s latest, Find Your Way.
Walking on a Wire is a track that goes back to the halcyon days of the late-1990s with nods to the Dave Matthews Band and Rich Hardesty in the band’s light-hearted and bouncy approach to rock. By bringing in just a hint of the 1970s Apple Records sound, Chris Eves and The New Normal are able to add a fullness to the resulting song.
Find Your Way brings in a sizzling guitar line to the mix. When coupled with the hopeful vox laid down by Chris, what results is a track that will have listeners’ toes tapping. Just a hint of 1970s rock can be discerned here, further adding to the honest sound that the band promotes through the entirety of the disc.
The Chains You Wear comes at fans with a fair amount of swamp rock (think Every Mother’s Nightmare, Jackyl, or Seven Mary Three); When the Stars Start Falling is the other side of the coin with a much more celestial sort of sound. The gradual increase in the band’s momentum through this track makes for a late-album track that absolutely sparkles. Bigger Than the Two of Us is a fun track that calls back to the late-1970s output of Aerosmith, blended all up with Boulevard of Broken Dreams-era Green Day.
Top Tracks: Walking on a Wire, When the Stars Start Falling, Bigger Than the Two of Us
Chris Eves And The New Normal – Find Your Way / 2019 Self Released / Domain / Facebook /
On Nah, Zāna is able to blend equal parts Jennifer Lopez and Shakira into a song of female self empowerment, all while blending in an international flair to pop music. The track is able to establish a chiaroscuro of loud / quiet in a fashion to successfully capture the attention of listeners. The backing beat is on-point, providing a formidable canvas upon which Zāna is able to add her own unparalleled vocals and charisma to. Nah is a track that works as well in 2019 as it would have in 1999; this timeless sound is a fantastic way to get familiarized with the performer. What do you think about Nah?
On Worry, Val Emmich is able to insert some of the most intense and touching emotional content we’ve ever heard. The taut instrumentation that begins to rise up as Emmich moves towards the chorus is similarly strong. There are just so many layers at which listeners can enjoy the track. We like how the vocals / instrumentation insistently hurtle towards chaos before Worry pivots to an entirely different sound. Emmich has had success in a number of different roles, but the music issuing forth from Val’s mind may be his strongest work yet. For fans of Bright Eyes, At The Drive-In, and The Rocket Summer.
On her new single Take It Back, Lila Drew is able to blend in equal amounts of pop, R&B and EDM into a sultry, intense track that will bury itself deep into the minds and hearts of listeners. Of particular note during this song has to be the thoughtful, trap / funk / dance backing instrumentation that provides highlighting to Lila’s vocals. Another high-water mark for this cut has to be Lila’s vox; their rising and falling provides further depth to Take It Back that further distinguishes the song from the rest of the music that is currently occupying spots on Billboard charts. Check out the video for Take It Back below.
Immediately bringing the bouncy sound of The Pretenders and The Tide Is High-era Blondie, Jeremie Albino is able to whip in his own unique flair. Charismatic vocals do more than just tell a story; they are able to add considerably to the overall; harmony of the composition. With a production that allows each element to shine alone or as a contributing part to a greater whole, Hard Time is one of those songs that will bury itself deep into listeners’ hearts and minds. Adding a secondary second of vocals at points, Hard Time further ratchets up the replay value of Albino’s latest.
There is a surprising depth to the 86-second 5, the lead cut from Orange Birthday’s a1x album. The track feels as if there’s not too much to it during a cursory listen, but there is a dual duty to the swirling synths and instrumental arrangements here. Th epresence of electronic sections and guitars make for something that is a bit new age, a bit atmospheric, and a cogent statement of one’s mind. Never content to hammer home the same trends or sounds, Orange Birthday is able to easily make a statement with 5 that dovetails nicely with its follow-up, the much more bold and insistent 6.