My Iron Heart - Beatitude Americana Review

Out of Newark, New Jersey comes Progressive Metal band, My Iron Heart. The quintet is celebrating the recent release of their EP, Beatitude Americana. This is their first release since 2013, and is an exciting step forward for the NJ quintet. 

The four-track EP was produced/mixed/recorded by Michael Cozine, and mastered by Rick Essig, My Iron Heart consists of Jake DeZerga (Vocals), Michael Cozine (Guitar), Jason Mallonga (Bass), Evan Daniele (Drums), and Rob Birchwood (Keys). Following a short hiatus, My Iron Heart is finally back with Beatitude Americana, released May 12, 2017. According to their own words, they hoped that Beatitude Americana would be a testament to the new and the old, to turn heads, to excite listeners.

Check out the tracklist below, and keep reading to find out if we agree with them!

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Beatitude Americana Tracklist:
1. Cheeky Nandos
2. Mr. Popo
3. Carbon Beach 04:56
4. Transmorphism 03:17

 

 

 

 

 

"Cheeky Nandos" opens up the EP, and is a good example of how the EP fluctuates between a progressive metal and a melodic metal sound. I took into consideration previous albums from My Iron Heart, including their 2013 release, Guardian to understand My Iron Heart's process!

What I found interesting about My Iron Heart, and especially Beatitude Americana in comparison to previous albums was that Beatitude Americana seemed to be taking a small step back from the heavier hardcore/death metal styles and infusing prog metal and metalcore into this 4-track EP. Tracks like "Mr. Popo," and "Transmorphism" do this especially.

A standout track off of the EP is "Carbon Beach," as it seems to start of WAY more pop punk than I intended or expected. The track helps anchor the EP while also keeping the rhythm steady for "Transmorphism" to finish out.

Overall, interesting take for their most recent release. I am curious as to what direction My Iron Heart is interested in going in, but generally their music is hard hitting and fast, so that's always fun for those aggro-music lovers. It's a short, hard little EP that wants to earn your respect, so let it.

For more on My Iron Heart, and what they're up to, check out their social media below!

My Iron Heart: Facebook // Instagram

John Dominy – Atlantic Coast Review

Philly-based indie singer/songwriter John Dominy released his second album last year, called Atlantic Coast. And the title is pretty perfect for the overall feel of the album. It’s what I like to call beach music, which is my favorite type of music to listen to when I want to mellow out.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

1. Atlantic Coast
2. Starlight Friends
3. Money
4. Mixed Up
5. Modern Dream
6. February
7. Boot Straps
8. Fourth of July
9. San Antone
10. The River

 

 

The album starts off with the title track, “Atlantic Coast,” which is a dreamy song that made me instantly want to get in my car and drive to the beach (but I always want to go to the beach). It transitions seamlessly into “Starlight Friends,” which is a little more of an upbeat track, and then the slower and sweeter “Money,” which I have to name as one of my favorite songs on the album.

The entirety of Atlantic Coast should definitely be listened to while you’re on a road trip down the shore or you’re hanging out by the sand and surf, watching the sun go down. I feel like it would be a great one to see performed live, too. John Dominy’s vocals are soft and soothing, and the twangy guitar combined with the melodies bring every song together in just the right way. 
 
This album was a pleasure to listen to the whole way through, and I would love to hear more from John Dominy. He reminds me of some of my favorite artists (specifically Beach House, and I’m pretty sure I’ve said this in one of my reviews before, but comparing an artist to Beach House is high praise from me).

Dominy also gives me The Beach Boys vibes. Sensing a theme here? Yeah. Beach music. The best kind. Imagine the smell of sunblock, the ocean, the salty sea air – that’s where Dominy’s music takes me, and it’s my favorite place to be. His lyrics and instrumentals together on each song make for a fantastic listening experience. Do me a favor and check out this album. Put it on some summer playlists, and give John Dominy some love. He deserves it. 
 
My top three tracks off this album are coincidentally the very first three, just in another order: “Money,” “Atlantic Coast,” and “Starlight Friends.” I’m also gonna give an honorable mention to “The River.” 
 
Happy listening, folks, and enjoy the music!

John Dominy: Facebook // Spotify // Website

The Backwoods - The Blue Spot Recordings

Virginia based pop punk band The Backwoods have released a heavy hitting EP titled The Blue Spot Recordings that’s sure to hit the spot for emo pop and pop punk fans alike!

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

The Blue Spot Recordings Tracklist:
1. Rainy Day 
2. Bayberry
3. Early Birds
4. Buyer's Book
5 .June

 

 

 

 

This EP is something I’d like to describe as “organized aggravation.” 

It’s something that’s very common in the pop punk genre; well structured music with a very angry and volatile delivery. The vocals delivers his lines layered with throat tearing growl reminiscent of Dan Campbell from The Wonder Years. Not to mention his screams cut at the same edge as his singing, without the melodic restraints of course. It’s 150% emotional emphasis.

However, on the song “Early Birds,” a particular vocal part really stood out to me. Around the 0:28 mark, a smooth and soulful melody takes over that is easily not only the best vocal part of the album, but probably one of the best verse parts I’ve heard this year. I just wish there was more of that going on throughout the release.

Instrumentally, The Blue Spot Recordings is punch after punch after punch. There’s a nice full feel in the kick drum that really gives a punishing heaviness to the album overall. There’s a solid fullness to everything, and endless riffs that I really wish I had written first.  

Going back to “Early Birds” (sorry it’s my favorite track) there’s even a little breakdown part. Think less easycore/metalcore and more melodic hardcore. I was practically hitting spin kicks in my living room.

There wasn’t really much that I didn’t like about this, but there were a couple of things. First, I wish the production was just a little bit better. I wanted to talk about the general themes going on in the album, but a lot of the time I couldn’t pick out individual sentences because the vocals, at times, were either overshadowed by the guitars or just a victim of the singers raw, emotive performance. Secondly, as stated before, I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more of the soulful singing. I was enjoying the album before I got to that part, but that really blew me away. I really think that stylistically it would make for some really nice hooks.

All in all, this was an exceptionally solid release by The Backwoods.

If you enjoy hard, driving pop punk/alternative rock, you’ll be hooked.  If not, well it’s worth at least a listen anyway. Everyone’s got an aggressive side to them, and music is a place where we can kind of release those emotions safely. This is the kind of music for that. It’s a torch carrier of a long maintained tradition of being in a tightly packed venue, covered in the sweat of friends you don’t know yet, and having a good night the whole time. I can definitely see myself going to one of their shows, and I can definitely see The Backwoods carving out a future in the pop punk scene.

For more on The Backwoods, check out their social media to stay up to date with what they're up to!

The Backwoods:  Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

The Stone Eye - Royal and Damned EP Review

The Stone Eye is a grungy rock group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You might remember them from a previous Hook piece we wrote about, but now we're back with something brand new! Their newest work, a 3-track EP, Royal and Damned, was released on May 3rd!

Check out the tracklist below for this quick little EP!

Royal And Damned

Royal & Damned Tracklist:
1. Farewell Lady
2. Death From Above
3. Colours In Vain

 

 

 

 

 

The EP starts strong with “Farewell Lady,” a fuzzy, riff heavy track with a very Alice In Chains vocal sound. The production is a bit on the garage-y side, but still quite good. The energy of the song is relentlessly high, and melodically is powerful.

On track two, “Death From Above,” the drums sit a bit higher in the mix, which I was quite pleased by. The technical ability of the musicians, particularly the drummer, show much more on this song than on the first one. The 90’s grunge influence is quite obvious for this group, so if you are into that, (which I certainly am), then you will totally dig this record. The musical breaks on both tracks thus far are impressively heavy.

The final track of the EP, “Colours In Vain,” is an acoustic track. The vocal harmonies onthis song are particularly strong and appear in multiple layers throughout it’s duration. It reminds me of old Stone Temple Pilots in the way that it achieves prettiness despite maintaining it’s grungy undertones.

I highly recommend Royal and Damned by The Stone Eye to fans of Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots. The band has successfully showed off their influence without coming off as copycats, which is an impressive feat in this genre.

Listen to Royal And Damned, and check out The Stone Eye on their social media to stay up to date!

THE STONE EYE: Facebook // Bandcamp

Sage - Procrastinate Review

Sage hails from the remote logging community of Cochrane, Ontario way up there in Canada. A ‘90s leaning, lo-fi, fuzz-pop band with an ear for infectious, dissonant songs seems only fitting for this up & coming band. Sage recently released their debut EP, Procrastinate, on March 24th on their own imprint, Restroom Records.

While Sage is relatively new, their drummer and lead singer, Eric Paquet, has been writing original music and playing in bands since the age of eleven. Fleshing out the trio are Marc Mercier on Guitar, vocals and Eric Tremblay on Bass.

According to their bio, all 8 songs are first-takes, written and recorded in a single session. They are essentially lo-fi bedroom demos with "a little bit of mastering." Procrastinate was released on randomly coloured, limited edition cassettes, and features artwork by Toronto artist and musician, Joel French. Which means this band continues to delve deeper into the strange and unique. 

Check out the tracklist for Procrastinate below to follow along!

Procrastinate Tracklist:
1. Sinking Boats
2. Good Enough
3. Relive The Past
4. Aneurysm (Nirvana)
5. Procrastinate
6. Fairweather Friends
7. Zillion
8. Lukewarm

 

 


Normally in my reviews I like to piece together the album track-by-track, but Sage's presence felt more intriguing overall, rather than piece by piece. "Sinking Boats" opens up the record with the fuzzy smashing of drums, and the distortion of vocals disorients the listener into Procrastinate. Much of the album follows suit, with aspects of grunge and slacker rock weaving in and out. 

Tracks like "Good Enough" and the Nirvana (grunge, ha-ha) cover of "Aneurysm" exude 90's grunge, while tracks like "Relive The Past" and title-track "Procrastinate" are way more stoner rock. Think about the first Queen's Of The Stone Age album, and you've got Sage. The dynamic presence of Procrastinate is exciting, especially as stoner rock/grunge is coming back.

I implore you to check out this impressive album. One that literally had me saying "WOW" as each new track began. Is that because I love grunge music? Maybe, but mostly Sage are bringing into light a genre that is on the forefront of return. This album exudes a reverb-y, echoing ambience that forces people to listen. If you need to know our favorite track, it's final track "Lukewarm." Find out for yourself as to why.

Check out Sage, check out Procrastinate, please listen to this and then check out their social media for more good shit as well.

Sage: Facebook

Erik Marley - Sour Dreams EP Reviewed

Sour Dreams

An area native, Erik Marley has 15 years of experience as a drummer/percussionist, and studied Jazz Performance and Classical Percussion, receiving a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance at Rowan University. Currently, he is a freelance Jazz musician and educator in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area. Sour Dreams is his latest 4-track studio EP, created alongside fellow Philadelphia musicians Alex Ayala (keyboards), Jacob Kelberman (guitar), and Mike Parisi (bass).

The production on Sour Dreams is clean (recorded, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Gendreau). Erik and his accompanists show a high level of technical ability, stamina and dexterity throughout the record. Despite being only four tracks, the album runs an impressive thirty minutes long. There is not a track on the album less than five minutes in run time.

Check out the tracklist & stream the EP below as you follow along!

Tracks 1 & 2, “Moon Fruit” and “Orange Waltz” are just about what you would expect from an instrumental jazz record. Musically impressive, toe tapping jams scattered with fast guitar and Rhodesy keyboard leads. While the tracks don’t feature any particularly memorable melodic lines in the lead or rhythm sections that you would be left humming upon the end of the tunes, I don’t feel that the point of this music was ever to exhibit such a quality. After all, this certainly is not pop music. Regardless, to other musicians especially, these tracks are impressive and enjoyable. It is excellent music to work or relax to, both in the background or in the foreground.

Tracks 3 & 4, “Créme Brulée” and “Brain Juice” are for sure the standout tracks for me.  “Créme Brulée” is the pretty track on the album, featuring etherial synth pads and, for the first time on this record, very subdued guitar. I would say that this song sounds very much the way a Claude Monet painting looks in that it is undoubtedly feels complete, but it is composed more of textures and chords than intricate details or melodies, unlike the rest of the record. 

“Brain Juice” is undoubtedly my favorite track on this EP. Out of all of the tunes it has the most calculated and memorable melodic structure, a riff that is revisited throughout the almost nine minute song. The riff satisfies the pop and rock lover inside of me, but maintains the jazz feel of the rest of the record. For sure this record is a diverse but cohesive work of art.

Check out Erik Marley’s Sour Dreams, and check out Marley's other social media to keep up to date.

Erik Marley: Bandcamp

Adventure Lost - Going Back To Sleep Review

Photographer: Richard Sanders

Photographer: Richard Sanders

Philadelphia two-piece, Adventure Lost have been anticipating their debut full-length for nearly 7 months, and we've been on the edge of our seats waiting for it as well.

Larry Iaccio (Drums/Vox) and Jack Faracchio (Vox/Guitar/Piano) created Adventure Lost back in 2015, and have been working on getting to this point since then. Going Back To Sleep is a concept album that could only exist after years of working through what they wanted and hoped for from Adventure Lost: an electrifying progressive pop sound that leaves listeners completely on their toes.

Going Back To Sleep was recorded and mixed by Michael Richelle at M Sound Studios, and mastered by Dennis Mortensen. The 11-track concept album explores different, dream-like themes such as love, death, life & all of the weird things in between. An adventure for sure, Going Back To Sleep is one of the most exciting album's I've had the opportunities of reviewing this year just due to it's dynamic presence.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Going Back to Sleep Tracklist:
1) Dream of Dying
2) Death by Dreaming
3) Blue Dawn
4) Istanbul
5) Dance Again
6) Love in Ruins
7) Hanging by a Thread
8) 7/4 (What You’re Looking For)
9) Look in the Sky
10) I Won’t Wait (Dangerous)
11) Another Life

 

"Dream of Dying" is a powerful, but smooth opening track for Going Back To Sleep. A song that sets the pace for the entire concept album, a lull into the void that Adventure Lost create for listeners. The anticipation of the opening track slides it's way into "Death By Dreaming," and "Blue Dawn" which are entirely instrumental.

Released prior to the album as a single, "Istanbul" is a stand-out track due to it's sheer magnitude and impressive encompassment of the album's entirety via sound, vocal performance and overall vibe. It revitalizes the album after the listener spends two minutes in the instrumental black space that track two & three create - maybe dreaming. "Dance Again" follows suit with a smooth guitar riff and the echo of two voices to create a tango for the listener. 

"Love In Ruins" is reminiscent of They Might Be Giants in the unusual harmonization between the two musicians, and maybe my least favorite off of the album simply because it felt like a filler track rather than something that could stand on it's own. "Hanging By A Thread" follows suit with prior songs, and has a catchy melody.

"7/4 (What You're Looking For)" is another standout track for Going Back To Sleep as, again, it's really cultivating what I enjoy about Adventure Lost. A smooth vocal track, and an instrumental performance that follows the voice without over-shadowing it. Jack's voice on this track also feels incredibly fleshed out and exciting - between the catchy chorus and the duality of Larry & Jack together, I just love this track.

"Look In The Sky" is another more conceptual piece, dreamy and lush with a soft guitar, it helps bring the listener through the final stretch of the album, and especially into "I Wont Wait (Dangerous)." This is definitely the wind down period of the album, one that begs to wrap up the story that Going Back To Sleep tells. Final track, "Another Life" is a fantastic wrap up, reprise track. One that pulls from chords and progressions from track 1, "Dream of Dying."

Here's an album stream in case we've persuaded you.

Going Back To Sleep is a well-constructed, thought out and divisive concept album. One that is catchy, exciting and a huge step for Adventure Lost as a band. As a two piece, the album sounds and feels thorough, full of sound, and exhilarating. The best way to describe my listening experience with this album is me playing it for a friend, and my friend asking me if there were at least 5 members in the band, and them being shocked that the fullness of sound and complexity was just constructed by two members.

Like, yeah it's that good.

You definitely want to check out Adventure Lost, we've got the album streaming for you above, and you can click the links below to peep their social media for more updates!

Adventure Lost: Facebook // Bandcamp // Soundcloud // YouTube

Trü - S/T EP Review

If you’re not familiar with New Jersey-based band Trü (yes, that’s with an umlaut) then you have until June 9th to, because this self-titled EP by the four piece group is guaranteed to top your summer jam playlist. Or at least make it on your road trip playlist a few dozen times.

S/T EP is a four track alt-rock EP that really gives off 90s vibes, but not the downtrodden, sullen grunge 90s. Instead, it has more of a lighter, almost Weezer-esque feel to it. If you didn’t grow up in the 90s (I certainly didn’t) then you can probably trace the sound back to high school. Hanging out with your friends in a basement, possibly having a few less than legal drinks, and collectively feeling sad with a youthful exuberance; that’s the feeling I get from listening to this album.  For me, it perfectly captures being young, without all the pomp and circumstance of a major label hook heavy synth banger.

Check out the tracklist below!

S/T EP Tracklist:
1. Take A Peek
2. Trouble
3. Kirsti
4. Hand In Hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything about this band’s sound reminds me of back in my garage band days, only way better written, performed and produced.  The guitars have a raw-ish quality to them, but not “I recorded this with a karaoke microphone connected to my friend’s tape recorder” raw. It’s obvious that their tone was well crafted and honed in. The production all around is actually very well done. The bass is nice and full, the drums come in clear. Everything is perfectly listenable. Even so, they’ve managed to capture the kind of energy and attitude that you’d hear in a crowded basement surrounded by friends.

One thing I will say about the album, however, is that there really isn’t anything particularly complex or technical going on. If you’re the kind of person who likes to hear complex time signatures or wants shred heavy solos, this isn’t for you. But, none of that is needed here. Sometimes all you need to create an amazing song is a few chords and some accentuated leads. My personal favorite song on the album, “Kirsti” has about maybe 5-6 chords total, but the lovestruck teenager inside me absolutely can’t get enough of it. It’s the kind of song you’d put on a mixtape that you’d give to a girl you’re crushing mad hard on, and maybe I might just do that.

Overall, this EP was fun to listen to.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also doesn’t get so juvenile that it’d be off-putting. If I had to pick the perfect way to describe, I’d say it’s the kind of EP that you can put on the car radio while driving with your friends on a summer day and sing along too.  It’s comfortably sad, and perfect for people who want to listen to sad music without of the dramatics found in other alternative bands.

S/T EP comes out June 9th on Destroy All Monsters Records. Additionally, you can keep up with the band on via Facebook and check out their previous demo release on their bandcamp.
 

Trü: Facebook // Instagram // Bandcamp