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23 September, 2013

Zeistencroix - Stranger

Zeistencroix - Stranger (song review) |self-released, Stranger, 2013| 5/5

When you have a band with an original name, chances are you'll be noticed. Some may break their tongues trying to pronounce Zeistencroix (seemingly referring to German, Dutch or French). However, it's great to be visible in the world of the Internet ruled by search engines where algorithms decide about a brand's 'to be or not to be'.

Zeistencroix is an American band founded by singer and guitar player Orlando Draven along with a guitarist Jack Akopan in Los Angeles, CA in 2011. Basically speaking, the duo combine their skills into a mixture of tunes full of catchy electronica and soft guitar riffs.
Without a shadow of doubt, "Stranger" has major potential for an everlasting hit. If you're looking for an awesome single for your radio, podcast or TV channel, don't look any further. "Stranger" is a winner thanks to smooth arrangements, memorable and danceable melodies, a Depeche Mode-like romantic softness and an electro-darkwave feel. It's mostly an electronic song, but there's also a swift guitar riff taking the melody even higher and touching both the ears and souls of the listeners. The riff - a truly uplifting tear-jerker - appears in the most desired spot of the composition.

The song's length is ideal for radio-play. Less than 4 minutes of enchanting rhythms makes you want to play it over and over again. Of course, anything repeated too often will become less interesting. Until then, you'll probably spin the song a few more times as well as share the news about the band with your friends.

On the technical level, the song mixing, mastering and overall production are very well done. What's usually very important in any composition - the volume of the vocals - sounds just perfect; the drum beats don't sound too pushy and background synths don't steal the melody, either. All arrangements are brilliantly put in the right places and every instrument as well as each hook can be clearly heard.

Aside from powerful music, "Stranger" delivers a message of desire. The lyrics speak about a casual romance, a night spent with a stranger in an apartment. The narrator's sex is not specified, though. There's such a genre as 'sex music', and you can easily fit "Stranger" into that group thanks to lines such as: "Come now let's burn the flame, feel the desire, lose yourself, release the fire of your skin, unleash your lust consume the sin" which are skillfully aligned with the track's sensual atmosphere. In addition, lyrical rhymes match the song's rhythm very well.

So, are you interested? You need to know more? The latest news is that Zeistencroix have been working on an album called Stranger during the last few weeks. You can track their updates about its progress on both the band's Facebook profile and their official website.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, September 8th, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
This review on Fabryka Magazine:

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

20 September, 2013

Rayna - Shotgun Eyes

(Update) Rayna - Shotgun Eyes (song review)(ver. 2) |self-released, 2013| 4/5

Brett Rayner, the founder of Rayna, has been playing a guitar since he turned 15. The Australian has been writing music and recording demo songs for the last 9 years, inspired by a variety of bands such as The Beatles, AC/DC, INXS, Nirvana and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The exposure to such a temporally spread range of music resulted in a song that sounds like if it was made in the 70s, but carrying the grunge themes of the 90s. Brett, who plays rhythm guitar, was supported by the Marano brothers: Isaac on drums and Dom on bass and lead guitar.
"Shotgun Eyes" sounds solid - you won't find anything experimental in it. Swirling, yet cold guitar riffs mix with a pounding bass. The drums are played with extensive use of cymbals, which is quite typical for classic rock. Both the arrangements and lyrics are quite memorable, so amongst the rockers the song has a chance of popularity.

When it comes to lyrics, they are very well written and may suspend listeners in a state of wonder and tension. Their subject is that of fear of being chased - a manhunt. If a person is chased for evil things they committed, it’s naturally less mortifying than being chased for no reason. We don’t learn however, if the song’s protagonist was found guilty or not. Moreover, the lyrics cast a shade of doubt on the sanity of the runaway, as if the chase was a product of their imagination: "Moving in the shadows, They follow you, Run to a cave and hide, Tell me is it real, Is my imagination, Takin’ over my head", "Now you're running scared, Never look behind you, At the devil in your head". Also, survival is an inherent part when it comes to experiencing the manhunt on the side of the chased: "And like the running man, You gotta stay alive, And you can never leave, And there's no where to hide, The run is where you live".

As for the technical side, the track went through additional production. When compared to the original, home-made version by Brett I had a chance to review before, the song had been completely cleaned, yet the 70s vibe has been skillfully perpetuated. Most of the improvement is audible in the instrumental parts. The guitars sound clear, lively and sharp while the drums and bass became deeper, resulting in an intensified, pleasant groove. The vocals however might have been exposed and elevated over the instrumental cues a bit more. Overall, the new version of "Shotgun Eyes" sounds much, much better.

According to Brett, it's his devotion and love for music that keeps him creative. You should give "Shotgun Eyes" a listen because it brings a good classical groove with a strong 70s rock spirit, additionally wrapped in a murky plot.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, December 9th, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, September 19th, 2013. 
This review on Fabryka Magazine:

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

04 September, 2013

13 Shadows - 13 Shadows

13 Shadows - 13 Shadows |self-released, 2012| 5/5

01. Belong, 02. Broken, 03. Descend, 04. Energy, 05. Erase U, 06. Kamera, 07. Out of Phase, 08. 7 Years, 09. Slide, 10. Tangle of Thorns

13 Shadows is a musical project ran by singer/songwriter, pianist, guitarist and producer Denise Donahue. The New Yorker wrote, arranged and co-produced all the songs on the eponymous debut album released in 2012. The album shouldn't come unnoticed since at least 80% of the songs have hit potential thanks to fantasy moods, catchy hooks, guitar and piano driven arrangements as well as clear, sweet yet cold vocals of Denise.

The ten songs tracklist begins with "Belong", characterized by groovy dynamics reminiscent of Tool, but also the melodies of A Perfect Circle and the piercing clarity of Evanescence with traces of auto-tune in the vocals. The mysterious "Broken" comes next, with piano and vocals playing an important part throughout the entire track. It’s a radio-friendly song, since it carries a repetitive, love-orientated theme.
When it comes to "Descend", the composition is quite flexible, mostly adjusted to the vocals which play a role as major as the piano here. The song has an epic feel thanks to its slow tempo and spots of rising tension. Therefore, listening to "Descend" is as pleasurable as watching a calm ocean tide lick the sand off a shore.

Peachy bass, lively dynamics and a sugary melody are the major traits of "Energy". The track includes a few significant changes in tempo, keeping the listener focused. Add a few aggressive, chunky metal tunes of a rhythm guitar and bass collaborating with vocals and you get lots of hit potential.
"Erase U" comes in with its appealing, melodic, lyrical alt-rock features, where individual instrumental and vocal arrangements are as important as the entire composition. Again, bass and drums add a lot of dynamics to the song but they don't sound overwhelming as the composition is cut with delicate piano parts too. Another potential big hit.

An intriguing dreamy mood with a lead piano in the beginning of "Kamera" turns into a dynamic ride supported by a groovy bass, edgy guitars and well matched drums. In addition, Denise's sweet vocals may make many male hearts tremble. An extra helping of electronica creates a unique airy and positive atmosphere. The vibe eventually returns to its previous softness towards the end of the track. "Kamera" could be a great illustrative piece for cinema or advertising.
"Out of Phase", on the other hand, sounds less dynamic than the other songs on 13 Shadows. Not only does it include skillfully crafted lyrics fitting the music really well, but also verses that are perfectly integrated with choruses.

"7 Years" is the most promoted song of the album. The music video has earnt several thousand views on YouTube so far. The chorus wrapped in chunky guitar riffs is so catchy you’ll either love it or hate it with a passion. "7 Years" may be difficult to get out of your head for quite some time.
"Slide" begins with a cinematic intro but then brings the 80s gothic rock feel thanks to a buzzing guitar. Some elements of techno appear here as well, so the gothic vibe is eventually lost, but the song remains guitar driven and is additionally enriched with memorable choruses.
"Tangle of Thorns" provides an interesting bass line, soft sounding vocals and guitar driven motifs sustained with piano tunes. An overall sentimental mood befits the song that’s ending the tracklist.

The compositional structures on 13 Shadows are extremely well put together. When you add a fair share of instrumental arrangements and high quality production, you get a truly brilliant release with a magical atmosphere and groovy dynamics. The lyrics are an asset as well - not only do they match the music but carry a greater meaning, most often referring to the subject matter of love.
Denise's vocals (with additional voice effects) don't sound unique when compared to major alt-rock bands led by female singers but they are memorable nevertheless. Denise says she prefers to focus on composing rather than singing. She's probably best at creating moods that effectively interact with listeners’ senses and imagination. Everything on the record sounds absolutely professional, and the sound is definitely modern. The smart use of electronica does not diminish the organic vibe but covers the album’s soundscape with a strong nimbus of fantasy.

Bring 13 Shadows to MTV, Vevo or any other significant music outlets, as this project needs larger exposure, so that headhunters from major labels can give it a spin. I can hear undoubted potential of 13 Shadows and it'd be totally unfair if the band didn't get a shot at fame in the next few years.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, August 31st, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine