20 April, 2014

Below The Sun - Katharsiss

Below The Sun - Katharsiss (song review) |self-released, single, 2014| 4/5

Below The Sun is a Norwegian stoner rock/hard rock band which is quite fresh on the scene, since it was founded only in 2011. Not many groups feature six musicians in the line-up however it proves to be a boon for Below The Sun, especially thanks to the members' skills.

First of all, their newest single "Katharsiss" is supposed to be released on the band's future EP but it's already available on major music on-line stores. When it comes to genre classification, it's stoner rock with elements of hard rock (string instruments) and psychedelia (keyboards). Make sure you listen to the entire track since it begins with an innocent nostalgic piano and that doesn't truly express the core sound of the composition once it reaches its peak point.

The track is bouncy and rhythmic thanks to solid heavy guitar-driven arrangements performed by René Gunnerud Vandli (vocals, guitar), Herman Tveitan Djupvik (bass) and Martin Miguel Busvold (lead guitar). However, the major sonic impact lies in the singer's voice. It's raspy, disdainful, memorable - he also screams like a pro. Jostein Vikan offers everything what a rock or metal band needs! The additional vocals in choruses are provided by René.

The catchiness of the track relies on various repetitions. Drum patterns are written very well and played skillfully by Vladimir Diaz Nelidov. Keyboard passages performed by Jonas Folvik Aune bring contrast through lighter, but not softer motifs - they cut through guitar-bass-drums dialogue in really well chosen spots. The final result is a vibrant composition that easily may make the listener hit the 'play' button again upon reaching the end.

What else does this song need? A matching music video single could do well, since many listeners discover music not only thanks to streaming audio content but also through visuals. Other than that, minor improvements in terms of production could add additional depth to the track.
Below The Sun's strengths are undoubtedly rooted in writing arrangements, composing, performance and of course Jostein's recognizable voice. Their music is inspired by bands such as Fu Manchu, High on Fire, Deep Purple, Queens of the Stone Age or Mastodon amongst all. Keep an ear out for those guys, peculiarly if you enjoy hard rock tunes.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 19th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
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16 April, 2014

VIA - Closets

VIA - Closets (song review) |self-released, Acid EP, 2013| 4/5 hard rock grunge punk

Fresh and highly motivated, here comes VIA - a band from Minnesota founded in 2013, who released their debut EP Acid soon after. The founder, Jason Tuthill (lead vocal, rhythm guitar) met his present band members through social networks and various other online locations. The final line-up includes Jason with Erik 'Evo' Vobejda (lead guitar), Ben Leff (drums) and Justin Von Rueden (bass). All of them had gained musical experience in other bands before VIA.

The EP features "Closets", kept in a grunge vibe since the band is inspired by music of Alice in Chains, Nirvana and QOTSA, amongst others. However, if you listen more attentively to the individual instrumental track, you may hear the song mixes three genres with a hard rock bass, grunge guitars and punk drums.

"Closets" has loads of dynamics and energy, so it must sound entertaining during live shows. The song doesn't carry any aggression, depth or any specific heaviness. The entire composition sounds solid and very guitar-driven with leading 'dirty' motifs. The drum parts are as fundamental as you'd expect from a punk or alternative rock track - pure dynamics rather than showing off. Arrangements aren't complicated or experimental either, thus rock music purists should enjoy them best. Jason's vocals match genres and the arrangements mentioned above really well. What's most important, choruses are very catchy thanks to the melody. Since the track is short and lively enough, it should be accepted by most of rock and college radio stations.

Regardless the song's garage-like flavour, it still may need better production, as the instruments sound a bit flat. Individual short guitar passages (aside from rhythm guitars) could have been underlined better as they splash fresh accents onto the background.

The musicians are currently working on a full album to be out by the summer of 2014 and planning a national tour. Whether VIA plays to enjoy the moment or evolves into an established group - you will know only if you follow the newest updates on their official website and social outlets.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 16th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
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Stiletto Ghetto - Don't Call Me

Stiletto Ghetto - Don't Call Me (song review) |self-released, Celebrity Society, 2014| funk rock 5/5

Stiletto Ghetto was founded by Louis Raphael (drummer, producer and co-writer) in San Francisco in 2010. Louis is accompanied by a variety of skilled musicians who perform music written by him in studio and on stage. The collective definitely spices songs up through their own expression and character.

Groovy, repetitious bass lines dominate here and interact with the drums very well. Since the rhythm and dynamics are the most important traits of funk music, that’s spot on. There's a soloing rock guitar mixed with excellent arrangements written for saxophone, jazz piano and trombone. Technically speaking though, the guitar riffs are on a layer below bass and drums, giving priority to the main funky theme. Most importantly however, the bass is accompanied by a powerful female voice.

As mentioned before, Louis collaborates with other musicians. "Don't Call Me" features guest vocalist Racquel Roberts. Her highly memorable voice perfectly matches both jazz and funk. It sticks to your ears instantly, together with a performance of the rhythm section, sometimes resembling Anastacia's or Aretha Franklin's voices in tone and range.

The lyrics were written by Louis Raphael and Safiya Bird-Whitten. The song tells a story of a lack of mutual respect and loyalty; friends or rather so called 'friends' who are not available when one needs their help the most, but who always call on you to expect support, advice or help with their own problems when they get in trouble.

"Don't Call Me" is a selection from the 8 songs recorded for the Celebrity Society album released this year. It follows Tendernob Hillbillies EP (2011), put out by guitar icon Steve Vai's own Digital Nations label. This helped Louis license and place two of the tracks in two independent movies.

Does the song have hit potential? Definitely yes. Moreover, it perfectly fits into all sorts of jazz & funk radio playlists. Make sure you'll check out the entire album, too.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, March 31st, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
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31 March, 2014

Ferni - Blame

Ferni - Blame (song review) |Gradation Music, Afterburn EP, 2013| 5/5

"Blame" is a rock ballad written, performed, and recorded by Ferni Lopez - a singer and multi-instrumentalist from Houston, Texas. He’s a veteran of writing and playing music inspired by alternative, folk rock, and blues genres, as well as the founder of Brother Sol and Of Love And Justice bands. The song comes from his solo EP Afterburn, released in December 2013.

Rock ballads usually stick to the theme of "it could have been better" and lyrically refer to topics such as unsuccessful relationships, loss, loneliness, misunderstandings, unresolved problems, unrealistic desires etc., supported by melodious, nostalgic tunes. "Blame" firmly fits into that framework.

The track opening will immediately pull your attention into the mood thanks to deep, pensive bass tones with additional cymbals. A slow beat of a hand-held drum and a melancholic guitar come into play shortly afterwards. Highly expressive vocals are specifically what a song with a lullaby-like tempo definitely needs to make the contrasting sounds harmonious and well-matched. Indeed, Ferni’s slightly raspy voice fits in perfectly here. He can definitely sing and adjust his voice to across several ranges very well. The chorus sounds memorable and is exactly what a highly listenable radio or movie song requires.
The final part includes a careful and gentle, high-pitched guitar solo that melts into the whole track without stealing the focus, thanks to the harmoniously layered bass and drums tracks.

The arrangements and the composition have been put together skillfully. Needless to say, it’s quite surprising that one man can perform a song fit for an entire four-piece band, but Ferni's the living proof for this. His music bears inspiration from artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., The Who, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers or Led Zeppelin. Therefore, if you like a nostalgic, guitar-driven vibe, you should enjoy "Blame".

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, March 31st, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
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28 March, 2014

BROBST - Life Of Gypsies

BROBST - Life Of Gypsies (song review) |self-released, 2014| 4/5

This highly melodic track carries a lot of hit potential, since it’s instantly memorable. This is possible thanks to a balanced apportionment between inspiration drawn from both Depeche Mode as well as dark wave and electronic rock styles.

Probably, most of the people will first hear and then react to the rhythm. The dynamics in "Life Of Gypsies" are just accurate. The rhythm doesn't resemble a raging cannon, which would certainly kill the melody. Instead, subtle arrangements repeat and rock rhythm guitars along with a solo guitar spice them up with an edgy flavor. Guitars are played softly, without showing off and they embed well within the overall vibe. The string instruments also help the listener’s mind to drift a bit into a different direction than that created by the beat.

All electronic additions are of high quality and were placed in well chosen spots. Previously mentioned similarities to Depeche Mode's yearning tunes ring especially true. In addition, the melodies of verses and choruses support each other perfectly. As a result, the overall composition sounds harmonious.

BROBST may consider working a bit on his voice, however. The song seems to be written for confident, emotional vocals and it'd be really great to hear a slightly more vigorous performance. Some of the chorus parts require a prolonged, highly pitched voice, and here BROBST unquestionably delivers. In other moments, like during the opening verse where he sings with a lower voice, its melodic line comes across as a bit too wary and unstable. Other than that, the whispering does fit in these arrangements and the overall mood very well.

Finally, it should me mentioned that BROBST was the winner of the People's Choice Award (Atlantis Music Conference, Atlanta, Georgia) in 2007. Thanks to his success, he performed on stage the same night as Queens of the Stone Age.

"Life Of Gypsies" will be included on the tracklist of BROBST's full album, which is set to appear in July 2014. The release follows the Angel Dust EP (2013) which can be purchased in various on-line music stores.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, March 26th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński

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04 March, 2014

The 88's - The 88's EP

The 88's - The 88's EP |self-released, 2013| 5/5

1. Get Me Through, 2. Addiction, 3. Time Was Right, 4. You Gotta Give A Damn, 5. For You, I'll Sing My Song, 6. Pride

The 88s trio which has been playing together since 2009 has an international line-up. The members make music in China, Portugal, France and the US. Joe Mahone brings the hard rock/metal drive through excellent drumming, Pheel Duarte feeds the songs with dynamic vocals, while Luis Coelho enriches The 88's music with Latin guitar influences.

The eponymous EP is their second release (the first one was out in 2011). The tracklist opens with a wavy guitar solo and gives you a foretaste of what to expect. "Get Me Through" has a melodic yet heavy mix, ensuring that you're listening to the work of experienced musicians who know how to skillfully borrow from a few different genres. They utilize Latin music, blues, hard rock and modern metal structures as well. They undoubtedly worked this one out and avoided predictable arrangements.

"Addiction" begins with a heavy and rhythmic mix written for the drums, guitar and vocals. However, this passionate track has also a surprising acoustic side, based on soft melodic arrangements. A professionally played guitar solo influenced by classic rock, as well as guitar parts draw inspiration from Latin music. As an interesting aside you should note that the song is bilingual (English & French).

The 88's seem to be inspired by music of Metallica, Foo Fighters, and System of A Down. "Time Was Right" is a goof proof of this. It’s a heavy track built upon balanced arrangements, neither leaving empty spaces, nor invading your ears with arrogant intensity. The structure is diversified enough to keep your mind engaged, but also repetitive enough to stick to your memory.

A swinging mix of guitars, drums and bass begins "You Gotta Give A Damn", an example of a popular alt-rock theme, which easily fits into prime time airplay. The song is short, melodic, dynamic and instantly memorable. It has spots filled with guitar solos and intensified drumming, with very suitable vocals.

If you like Soundgarden or Nirvana, or just enjoy the grungier vibes, "For You, I'll Sing My Song" is, precisely, for you. The track includes also an interesting part performed by Pier, a guest musician utilizing a Chinese instrument called Erhu. She appears midway through the song and brings more of a world music feel. When it comes to vocals for the track, Pheel Duarte proves clearly that he can adjust his voice to different styles of music.

Now, it's time for a decorative jewel. "Pride" is a huge finish, definitely enriching the whole EP with a big, nostalgic theme. You can clearly imagine the lone guitarist performing on a stage. When he's focused on the instrument, locked in an invisible bubble of the sound, the entire world seems to disappear. There are only three things that matter here: him, the guitar and the music these two make in the limelight. You've heard that same, never changing tune from Santana, Clapton, Led Zeppelin or Queen and you'll hear it again, this time performed by Luis Coelho and The 88's. It's also a great movie track.

All the songs on the tracklists have a definite flow connecting them - whether it’s their rhythm or mood, or the technical skill behind them. Thus, the end of "Pride" interlocks with "Get Me Through" very well and you can listen to the entire EP on repeat.

The album is worth having and the band deserves your support. Their official website and social profiles should give you more insight into The 88's next move.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, March 4th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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