What I’m Listening To: Jo Blankenburg – Vendetta

Written By Simon Chisholm

Whether we realise it or not, the music accompanying motion picture has a profound influence on the effect towards an audience. The same applies to teaser trailers of films. I find that movie trailers are just as enjoyable, if not more so than the film itself. It’s easy to contribute the suspense, excitement, emotion felt during the viewing of a trailer to the music. Without the music, it would be a quiet, confusing, not altogether exciting experience. Jo Blankenburg’s ‘Vendetta’ is a collection of tracks two to three minutes in length designed for use in trailers.

In movies and their trailers music is used to set the tone. Whether it is suspense, excitement, sadness, or any of thousands of emotions. The music is not only there to fill the gaps between the dialogue, it will take the place of a narrator, render dialogue inappropriate, act in a manner more powerful than any combination of words. All the while, the soundtrack will go unnoticed, in the background like a breeze through the trees behind the subject. Music is emotion. Music is powerful.

It goes almost without saying that composing music is not an easy, simple process. Writing for motion picture is the Holy Grail of composers.

Jo Blankenburg is a skilled composer and has contributed works to independent and major films. Some include: the trailer for ‘How To Train Your Dragon’; throughout TV series ‘Flash Forward’; ‘Wolfman’ trailer; as well as fashion events and independent films (that can be found on his website http://www.joblankenburg.com/)

‘Vendetta’ is another fantastic release from Jo, showcasing his desire to make an audience feel and experience through music. After enjoying his piano works on ‘The Feather Dance’ for many months, it is a thrill to be able to experience his orchestral composing. 

These tracks are big. I use the word ‘big’ referring to the texture, the sound of each instrument, and the sound stage created by the stereo mix. Imagine a large concert hall, fill the stage with an orchestra, the balcony with a choir and put a rock band in front of the unused orchestra pit. It sounds bigger than that.

In using the whole orchestra, it has allowed for a very thick texture, utilising contrasting timbres of strings, brass, woodwind, percussion and voice. In addition, playing into a trend I’ve noticed in motion pictures, Jo has made use of rock band elements in his orchestrations. These elements such as distorted guitar and rock drums add intensity to the sound. By increasing the texture of the composition with contrasting instrumentation the piece becomes a lot ‘bigger’ filling the room. It is epic, so much so that it increases your heartbeat at times.

While the overall effect is mind-blowing, we must also focus out listening and take note of the individual elements. We hear that the strings sound absolutely beautiful, creating a silk bed on which to lay the composition, they are moving, like the swaying of the ocean. On top the strings sit the bass and wind sections, supplying intense and stirring melodies and harmonies.  On top, the choir passages give a human element at times carrying the melody, at others supplying harmonies. The voices are slightly transparent, but with enough body to carve their way through each track.

A structural formula arises, whether based on the progression of a film trailer I know not. We hear first an introduction that sets the tone, and then the full texture enters as if there has been a complication on the story, which builds up and moves through a change then a resolution, with a return to the original theme. Highlighting that fact that a three-minute piece for a trailer can easily tell a story the same as an hour-long film.

I like Jo’s use of theme and variation, as well as the use of countermelodies over the themes. The variations and counter melodies are key in building the signature texture present on this album.

The stand out track for me is ‘Lament For Cherubin’. The elements that make this track stand out for me include the single string parts, the sound of the piano, the moving and stirring chord structure carried by the strings and the way tone is built throughout the piece.

In movie trailers we are drawn in to the story through the music, which instils in us curiosity in the suspense in the unknown. This album of trailer music composed by Jo Blankenberg is a testament to film composers everywhere. Kudos to Mr Blankenburg and best of luck in your career as a composer. Keep it coming!

Released by Position Music in 2011.

Extra Credit: ‘Planet Earth Forever’ from ‘The Feather Dance’

What I’m Listening To: Jo Blankenburg – Vendetta

What I’m Listening To: A Day To Remember – What Separates Me From You

Written By Simon Chisholm

A Day To Remember seemed to come out of nowhere with their release ‘Homesick’ back in 2009, shaking the world to it’s core with their blend of pop punk and hardcore. Their follow-up LP ‘What Separates Me From You’ is a continuation of the journey that began with ‘Homesick’. The album peaked on the ARIA charts at number 24. The album received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, all that matters is what the individual thinks, so let’s see ‘What Separates Me From You’.Rob Dobi

‘Homesick’ is one of those albums that makes a very definite mark on your life, it is no doubt a very hard task to produce a follow-up that competes and compliments. ‘What Separates Me From You’ is one of those albums that take a few listens to grow on you, unlike ‘Homesick’, which was instantly lovable. This release shows a slight progression from the previous, seemingly populating a full-length album with left over songs from previous recording sessions. They are new songs, and they are different in slight ways, but are not that easy to digest right away.

Point: After a few listens this album is very likable. You just need to get over the influence of ‘Homesick’. Appreciate the old, embrace the new.

The whole album has a full, thick texture, making use of classic layering techniques. A main slab of the mix is populated by the guitars and vocals, while the bass fills out the low end and the drums fill in the rest.

The band has continued with its trademark mixture of pop and hardcore elements, a formula that has been successful in the past and continues with this release. The most clear elements of each mixed genre are the catchy, poppy choruses, hardcore breakdowns, pop-punk drum beats, down-tuned muted guitars, pop chord progressions and throaty screamed vocals.

 

Jeremy McKinnon’s vocals fill a large part of the bands sound. His throaty scream is a signature sound for A Day To Remember. His voice has a naturally thick texture that adds to it’s intense quality. The vocals lines roll with a natural flow. The rhythms follow the instrumentation and include some great rhymes. The lyrics focus of subjects including: hate, resentment, nostalgia, relationships,  and encouragement.

The guitars boast a fat tone. They are distorted to a degree that they are crunchy, but not so much that the tonality is lost. They have clear highs and heavy lows.

The drums are clear and sharp, providing a solid rhythmic base for the rest of the instrumentation. The rhythms are up beat to get you moving. The cymbals are not lost in the mix.

Notable tracks include: ‘Its Complicated’, ‘Better Off This Way’, ‘All I Want,’ ‘Out Of Time’, ‘All Signs Point To Lauderdale’, ‘This Is The House That Doubt Built’.

If you are a fan of A Day To Remember, do check this out, and if you don’t like it right away give it another chance, it will grow on you.

A Day To Remember are:

Jeremy McKinnon – Vocals

Alex Shelnutt – Drums

Kevin Skaff – Lead guitar, Backing Vocals

Neil Westfall – Guitar

Joshua Woodard – Bass

Produced by Chad Gilbert. Co-Produced by Andrew Wade and Jeremy McKinnon.

Released by Victory Records in 2010

What I’m Listening To: A Day To Remember – What Separates Me From You

What I’m Listening To: Gyroscope – Cohesion

Written By Simon Chisholm

2010 saw Aussie rockers Gyroscope release their fourth studio album. ‘Cohesion’ peaked at number 3 on the Aria Charts. Perth locals Gyroscope have been delivering powerful rock anthems since their formation in 1997. ‘Cohesion’, the follow up from 2008’s ‘Breed Obsession’. ‘Cohesion’ is a rock powerhouse, showing the band developing song writing and creating masterpieces that will have you rocking out. Since the beginning, the four Gyroscope members have worked seamlessly together, creating a perfect mix of skill and instrumentation; Cohesion. Art by Don Clark

‘Cohesion’ is the high energy Rock album we have come to expect from our West Coast brethren. This release has captured the excitement and feel of a live environment. The boys have successfully formulated a layering technique. They have managed to create a thick, moving, texture for each song that compliments each section and instrument. There is a seamless union between Rhythm guitar playing chords, Lead guitar offering riffage, Bass Guitar supplying bass tonic notes as well as a groove, and solid, powerful drums supporting the groove.

The drums in Gyroscope songs have always been sharp and hard hitting. The performances on this album are no different. Rob supplies a very strong backbone for the songs, utilising a powerful sound and keeping a solid groove. More often than not, the drum lines are more than a simple four-on-the-floor beat, experimenting with fills and percussive elements. They are fun and loud, like all drums should be. I am often annoyed that cymbals are lost in the mix, on ‘Cohesion’ that is not the case.

In the past Dan has boasted his lyrical success is because of his ‘freestyle’ approach to writing. It seems to work very well all of the time. This is probably how he manages such catchy hooks and memorable melodies, also the free, natural flow of the vocal lines. Dan applies an intense, forced vocal style, evoking passion and as if there is great meaning in his words. Throughout the album Dan employs a number of different techniques including; low and articulate with perfect intonation; falsetto; flat out bellowing; and vibrato, showing off improved vocal technique and experimentation.

Zoran supplies interesting guitar riffs throughout the entire record. They are simple yet effective. Zoran has achieved a guitar tone that delivers a suitable amount of crunch and clarity. These leads have an uncanny way of complimenting the vocals.

Brad’s bass work nicely fills out the mix, supplying the bass frequencies as well as cementing the groove of the tracks. At times the bass is the main instrument, playing a riff or establishing the tone. Throughout the record we here Brad offering fast passages and solo fills. We also hear the use of processing; Brad seems to have discovered a crunch effect; works nicely.

In looking at the composition and arrangement of the tracks, it seems that the band have worked to a formula. The songs follow a kind of narrative structure; not lyrically, but instrumentally, particularly noticeable in the overall tone. There is a dramatic contrast between the Verse and Chorus sections. Where there is tension built up in the verse, with an intense tone, the Chorus seems to offer a resolution. It is as though the Verse is used to pose a problem, and the Chorus is the resolution of that part of the story. This approach may be followed for all rock/pop songs, and may be ‘Basic Composition 101’ but I noticed it here, and will have to look out for it in future.

A favourite track of this album is ‘Fifty500’. My attraction comes from a combination of harmonics, chord progression, the galloping melodic rhythm, the piano tone, the melodic contour, the guitar work, the tone, the way the lyrics flow, and the vocal harmonies.

Another favourite track is ‘What Do I Know About Pain?’ This is a big rock track, the elements that I like about this track include: The Intro sucks you in; the pairing of vocal/ melody in chorus; the simple guitar riff that is effective as a counter melody; the Guitar only fills in Verse; the movement in the bass line; and this line in the Chorus – ‘You’re love’s (looks) got me weak at the knees. I’ll burn for you’.

Notable tracks: ‘Run’, ‘What Do I Know About Pain?’, ‘Fifty500’, ‘Spider’, ‘Live Without You’, ‘I Still Taste Blood’, ‘Baby I’m Getting Better’, ‘Some Of The Places I Know’.

When this album came out early 2010, I was reluctant to get it after my disappointment with ‘Breed Obsession’. Now, a year later I am ecstatic that I swallowed my pride and gave it a chance. ‘Cohesion’ is on my metaphorical ‘Best Albums in 2010’ list.

Gyroscope is:

Brad Campbell – Bass

Daniel Sanders – Vocals and guitar

Rob Nassif – Drums and percussion

Zoran Trivic – Guitar and piano

Released 2010 by Universal Music Australia. Produced by Gil Norton.

www.gyroscope.com.au

http://www.myspace.com/gyroscope

What I’m Listening To: Gyroscope – Cohesion

Bring Me The Horizon – Blessed With A Curse

Written By Simon Chisholm

Taken from the bands third album, ‘There Is A Hell Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven Lets Keep It A Secret’ (2010), the video popped up on my Facebook newsfeed a number of times. Bring Me The Horizon is a band that is highly regarded in my social circuit, and thus I have tried them out before, but something about hardcore and silly breakdowns just failed to appeal to me. ‘Blessed With A Curse’ offered a welcome surprise.

 

The first thing that struck me was the simple, soft guitar part in the intro. The reverb gives it a relaxed, dreamy, space-age quality. The particular chords chosen provide a sense of harmonic movement not so often noticed in the greater hardcore genre. The harmonic progression gives a sense of swaying in a concave arc, like that of a pendulum, ending the sequence at a higher level and a sense of vertigo.

The next thing that drew me in was the vocals. I immediately start to think that this is not the indecipherable roar that I was expecting. Instead I hear the voice of a character struggling to be heard over a maelstrom of suffering. It isn’t a harsh scream, it’s not angry, and it’s not ‘brootal’. I hear a character desperate to communicate whilst fighting his last breath. I hear a sense of passion, like there is something inherently important and beautiful to be heard through all the noise. This style of vocal is made possible through the recording and mixing process. The vocals weren’t recorded screamed into distortion, just captured in the cleanest form possible, then layered within the mix so as to almost be lost beneath the other instrumentation.

The chorus is much bogger, introducing distorted guitars, drums and heavy bass. The harmonic progression stays the same, while the guitars adopt an upwards arpeggio pattern. Gang vocals top it off, creating a very thick and assaulting texture. It’s a satisfying sound. The dropout of the instrumentation allows a moment for the sounds and words to sink in.

The piano playing around the guitar part in the second verse nicely adds another element, another layer to the texture. The piano sounds the same as the guitar in that it is dreamy with heavy use of reverb.

The second chorus blends into a bridge section that eventually leads to a guitar solo. The think texture of the first chorus is added to with more gang vocals and another layer of guitar. There is also more frantic screaming. The lead guitar, plays a counter melody that moves into a laid back guitar solo, resolving with a quick passage when the instrumentation drops out.

The outro of the song is the bridge vocals repeated, and the dreamy guitars supplying a counter melody, while the drums roll out some solid tom fills.

There is a funny sense of clarity upon the conclusion of the song. Whether the guitar tones, the A+ arrangement, or the feeling that somehow Ollie Sykes’ screaming let a world of stress and anxiety off of your chest causes it. There is no way out of going in for a second listening.

Take time and watch the video, there is something elegant about it. Even through the fractured frames and seemingly plagued characters, there is a beautiful quality to it. Maybe it’s all the white…

Bring Me The Horizon are:

Oliver Sykes – Lead Vocals

Matt Kean – Bass

Lee Malia – Guitar

Matt Nichols – Drums

Jona Weinhofen – Guitar, keyboards, programming, vocals

Released 2010 by Visible Noise (UK), Epitaph (US) and Shock (AUS). Produced by Fredrik Nordstrom.

Bring Me The Horizon – Blessed With A Curse

Brandon Flowers – Flamingo

Written By Simon Chisholm

The Killers front-man Brandon Flowers released his solo effort ‘Flamingo’ in 2010 to mixed reviews. Many critics claim that Flowers’ solo project was the same as The Killers but not as good. Despite these mixed opinions, the album debuted in the US Billboard Chart at number 8, number 5 in Australia, and went gold in the UK, with a debut of number 1. I prefer to think of this release as a separate entity to The Killers and so attempt to isolate it from the band works, all the while keeping in mind that this is a part of Flowers’ body of work that also includes The Killers material.                         

 

Let’s start by looking at the vocals. Understandably they stand out, and are obviously the focal point. I would describe the overall tone of the vocals as a kind of ‘sad crooning’. As if the album is a lament, or a eulogy dedicated to Flowers’ way of life.

Almost every song has a stand out, catchy and well-crafted chorus. These hook will be stuck in your head for a while to come, I bring your attention to ‘Only The Young’.

The melodies are entrancing. Brandon has a knack for singing melodies that rise and fall like the tide (I wanted to say ‘like rolling hills’, but when it comes to similes I can never decide). These even, symmetrical melody lines tend to hypnotize listeners. Listening to this is relaxing.

The instrumentation creates a bed on which the vocals sit. The underlying layers of instrumentation are there to enhance the melody. While the guitars and piano provide a steady rate of harmonic change, I find it fun to listen to the drums. I feel that the drummer is jamming along to the track, improvising grooves, patterns and fills that allow the songs to take off.

The pitched instruments are not only used to provide a tone and key for the songs, they work with the percussion to lock the song into a groove. Whether chugging eighth notes or drawn out semibreves, the rhythms are grooving, hard. These instruments are not only support, we also hear guitars providing some melodic themes, providing instrumental interest and filling gaps where the vocals drop.

Overall this is a likable album, albeit not lovable. There are a few kicker tracks including single ‘Crossfire’, ‘Hard Enough’, ‘Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts’, and ‘Was It Something I Said?’ Favourite track is ‘Only The Young’, for that ridiculously infectious chorus.

I don’t believe it is fair to compare this release with that of The Killers back catalogue. Sure, accept that this is a departure and an evolution from the sensibilities used by The Killers, but give Brandon the credit he deserves. This is a good album.

Speaking of credit, while the CD booklet does not provide a lyrics sheet, there are however detailed song credits. I am pleased to read the Flowers is credited as having written all of the songs, and a mere 4 tracks being co-written.

I prefer to listen to this album as background music; I find that I am easily relaxed while this is playing, providing a fix to anxiety. That being said, this can also be enjoyed when listening with focus.

If you do decide to obtain this release, go for the Deluxe Edition, with four extra songs.

Produced by Daniel Lanois, Brandon Flowers and Stuart Price. Individual track credits provided on case.

Released 2010 by The Island Def Jam Music Group. Marketed in Australia by Universal Music Australia.

Brandon Flowers – Flamingo

Birds Of Tokyo – Birds Of Tokyo

Written By Simon Chisholm

Birds Of Tokyo released their self-titled third album in 2010. This LP represents a forward progression from previous full-length releases ‘Day One’ and ‘Universes.’  Fast taking over the Australian music scene, Birds of Tokyo have returned with a strong album full of infectious, rocking tunes. This album won the ‘Best Rock Album’ Aria Award.

Birds Of Tokyo album cover. Art copyright Birds Of Tokyo

The opening notes of the album are like a breath of fresh air. Not in that it is unlike anything heard before, its just makes you feel lighter than air. The opening track is a great introduction, creating excitement for the whole album. It reels you in.

Birds Of Tokyo have taken on a more radio friendly sound, most apparent in the phrasing of the clearly articulated lyrics and the strong hooks. Also, the use of layered instrumentation and the mixing process have allowed the tracks to be suitably compressed for broadcast while still retaining musical quality.

Each track is both lyrically and musically progressive. The inspired metaphorical lyrics evolve throughout the song to tell the story, boasting rephrasing in the choruses and repeated verses in some cases. Musically, the band plays with instrumentation, adding and subtracting instruments and altering leads and harmonic progressions. Each song uses this progressive nature to tell the story, sometimes unfinished for open interpretation. Let’s be honest, we all like to make our own interpretations and assumptions when it comes to art.

The success of this album is also found in the catchy melodies and the strong rhythm sections. Each song has a thick, full texture, using instrumentation to deliver a full spectrum of sound. Another notable element in these new songs is the guitar work. The guitars seem to have been given a creative licence; it is as if the songs were crafted and developed around the guitars.

    

I’ve always appreciated Ian Kenny’s lyrics and obtuse vocal phrasing. While there are many fantastic lines on this album, the standout lyric for me is in the song ‘Wild At Heart’: ‘We wear our bruises like watermarks’.

Stand out tracks include ‘Plans’, ‘The Saddest Thing I Know’, ‘Wild At Heart’, ‘Murmurs’, and ‘If This Ship Sinks (I Give In). These tracks are noted due to their catchy hooks and the overall feel of the tracks.

The track most reminiscent of older Birds is ‘The Dark Side Of Love’. The likeness is in Kenny’s vocal phrasing and the overall arrangement of the instrumentation.

Birds Of Tokyo are:

Ian Kenny – Vocals

Adam Spark – Guitar, Vocals, Keys, Programming

Adam Weston – Drums

Anthony Jackson – Bass

Glenn Sarangapany performed piano, keys and organ.

Released independently in 2010. Distributed by EMI music Australia. Produced by Scott Horscroft and Adam Spark.

Birds Of Tokyo – Birds Of Tokyo

Come Back To Earth – Come Back To Earth E.P.

Written By Simon Chisholm

Local southern Sydney band ‘Come Back To Earth’ are blasting their way into the synth pop scene with their upbeat and catchy tunes. This debut E.P. shows the beginnings of a lucrative assault on the electro-pop/ disco rock music scene.

These four tracks will have you dancing and singing along. The up-beat drums will have your feet tapping and the catchy hooks will have you singing along with such gusto that you may  have no voice in the morning.

While the dancing drums move the your feet, the bass sawtooth synthesizer will send chills down your dance spine. The typical disco pop harmonic progressions make for a feel good time. We notice the lead synth filling in gaps in the vocal line, also at times adding another melodic layer to the texture, keeping interest in the melody. The guitars sit in the groove, jiving to the beat and filling out the sonic sound scape created by the synthesisers. The vocals in these songs are treated as another instrument, other than a device for delivering words. You hear Luke wailing and chanting.

               Glen Edwards Photography

The aim for these songs seems to be dance club anthems. I believe these boys have achieved that aim. I picture this band performing on a small stage in a dark room with drunken, sweaty punters having the times of their lives dancing around the room.

The overall quality and production of this E.P. is above the bar, if only slightly. This is the only negative that I notice. While I listen I notice that most of the dynamic range has been compressed into oblivion and at times all the instrumentation occupy the same frequencies.

In summing, as a debut independent release, ‘Come Back To Earth’ have started light years ahead of their peers. When I listen to this CD I can’t stop thinking about dancing punters and just how much potential these boys have. Keep your eyes peeled.

On a side note, check out the wacky drum set up. Someone please tell me about the angle of the snare drum. I’m curious.

Come Back To Earth are:

Luke O’Hare – Vocals, synthesiser

Henry Bazil Bidwell – Keys. Synthesiser

Reagan Rolff – Guitars, Vocals

Matt Butler – Drums

Released independently in 2011. Produced by Come Back To Earth and Dan Nash.

http://www.triplejunearthed.com/ComeBacktoEarth

http://www.youtube.com/comebacktoearthtv

http://comebacktoearth.net

Come Back To Earth – Come Back To Earth E.P.

The Lonely Island – I Just Had Sex (Feat. Akon)

Written By Simon Chisholm

Hip-Hop comedy group ‘The Lonely Island’ released ‘I Just Had Sex’ towards the close of 2010. The song’s video was released on YouTube and has since accumulated almost 71 Million views. In Australia, the song peaked at number 10 on the Aria Chart.

           

No doubt the success of this track lies in the humour. No matter your demographic, sex is funny, and it’s funny to brag about it. The fact that this song (and video) are not even remotely PC (as well as other The Lonely Island productions) also adds to the humour and to the appeal.

For me the humour lies in the fact that the production and arrangement is of the highest quality. No short cuts were taken in the production and it is apparent that all parties involved treated the concept and process with the highest respect deserved by any hit song. If it weren’t for the ludicrous lyrical content, no doubt the song would still be a chart hit.

You can see it here.

Take out the lyrical content and you’ve got yourself a serious, well produced, sure-to-be-a-hit R’N’B track. From the solid backbeat, the heavy bass, vocal rhythm, annunciation, catchy hook, right down to the key change in the final chorus. The tone is backed by the seriousness of featured artist Akon. Seen as a professional, respected, musician it’s a shock to see him in something comedic (I quite like ‘Sorry, Blame It On Me). The professional quality is backed up by the high budget video.

My favourite part? The line “This one is dedicated to them girls who let us flop around on top of them”.

The Lonely Island are expected to release their second album in Autumn of 2011.

Lonely Island are:

Andy Samberg

Akiva Schaffer

Jorma Taccone

Released December 2010. Produced by DJ Frank E.

The Lonely Island – I Just Had Sex (Feat. Akon)

Hey Monday – Beneath It All

Written By Simon Chisholm

Pop-punk young guns Hey Monday followed up their debut album ‘Hold On Tight’ with six song (7 including iTunes bonus track) E.P ‘Beneath It All’. I’ve got a real soft spot for pop music, and am a big fan of the genre dubbed pop-punk. Hey Monday is an indulgence. This E.P. is produced by a slew of pop-punk heavy weights, including Butch Walker and S*A*M and Sluggo. This release made it on to my favourites list with the very first listen.

Hey Monday Beneath It All Album Cover. Brian Manley

With this style of music we aren’t listening for technical ability. We want catchy hooks, upbeat grooves and a dancing good time. ‘Beneath It All’ delivers. We’ve got thumping power chords and upbeat rhythms accompanying catchy melodies and memorable hooks. These songs are a writing advancement from the ‘Hold On Tight’ days. Cassadee’s song writing chops have developed well over the last few years.

We also notice Cassadee pushing to challenge her vocal range and styling. Where ‘Hold On Tight’ was boring at times, ‘Beneath It All’ keeps you interested from start to finish.

After this release, bassists Jersey Moriarty left the band. While he is no longer a part of this pop outfit, he has left a big mark on the scene, showing off some of his best playing yet. This is the kind of bass playing I like to hear on pop and punk songs. It keeps the low end interesting and the overall feel of the songs moving along.

Stacey Jones (of American Hi-Fi) takes on the percussive duties. While not the kind of inventiveness of previous band member Elliot James, they still work. The up-beat rhythms really compliment the other layers of the sound.

This release boasts such a large pop-punk sound I have to listen to it a few times to get my fix, it’s just not long enough!

If you’re a stickler for pop music, definitely check out Hey Monday.

Abbey Drucker

Hey Monday are:

Cassadee Pope: Vocals

Mike Gentile: Guitar

Alex Lipshaw: Guitar

Michael ‘Jersey’ Moriarty: Bass

‘Beneath It All’ released 2010 by Sony Music Entertainment/ Columbia Records/ Decaydance.

Hey Monday – Beneath It All

Azlock – This Is How You Raised Us

Written By Simon Chisholm

Local alternative outfit Azlock released their much-anticipated second E.P. on February 12. This hardworking band released the E.P. fully independently, the band paid for the recording, mixing, mastering, artwork and manufacture out of their own pockets; not cheap in any way. Kudos.

Photo art by Chris Elder

Let me begin by saying that this hardcore style of music is not my preferred taste. Azlock do, however, have a quality to their songs that appeals. I’d say it stems from the diverse influences of each band member which ranges from hip-hop, pop, punk, metal, hardcore, emo, rock and dance.

The four songs show a progression from their debut E.P. ‘No Reflections’. Each of the boys has improved in their playing and utilisation of their instruments since the previous release.

The songs boast some intense riffage, executed with precise articulation. One of the aspects that set Azlock apart from some of the other hardcore influenced bands around is their creative use of rhythm. None of that boring chugga chugga for 20 solid minutes. These songs make use of a wide harmonic range, adding a flare of creativity that drives the audience crazy.

The layered guitars, making use of riffs, rhythm sections as well as lead passages make for a very thick texture. Along with the intensely rhythmic drum parts, accurately mimicking the tone and groove of the guitars, add some thundering bass lines, and screaming vocals, and you’ve got yourself a full spectrum sonic attack on the senses.

Lyrically, the songs are full of angst. We get a hint of self-determination, partying hard, broken homes, and a generally bleak outlook on life…probably where the appeal to teenagers comes from.

Best listened to with speakers with good bass frequency response.

Listen here:

http://www.myspace.com/azlock

Azlock are:

Sean Blake – Bass

Thomas Ellercamp – Drums

Sean Gynn – Guitar

Daniel Sandri – Guitar

Tim Scott – Vocals

Azlock – This Is How You Raised Us