The Baltimore-based group 9 Mile Roots describes their music as “hard rock riffs, hip-hop flow, and thick syncopated horn lines.” This is all on display brilliantly in their upcoming album ReEvolve (releasing May 19). There is plenty of laid-back rock/reggae fusion that hearkens back to groups like 311 and Sublime, and that is the greatest strength of ReEvolve. You can tell that the band is there to have a great time and make catchy songs along the way. 9 Mile Roots play a tight sound, with every instrument never seeming out of place. Especially with Summer fast approaching, this may be a record you want in your collection.
“Keep an eye out for Kennedy, he’s a man going places” – BBC Radio 1
Radio 1 in this case knows what they are talking about. As I listened to Welshman James Kennedy’s upcoming record Home, it became clear that he was a man with a strong artistic vision. Central to this record is the powerful nature of the song structure. The choruses soar and the verses are tinged with a driving force that calls you to listen intently.
Incidentally the core inspiration behind this record is, as Kennedy’s PR agency told me, his exploration of depression and utilizing the music as therapy. As a fellow sufferer of severe depression, I totally get this. And this understanding is helpful in looking at the record as more than just a collection of great songs.
The songs are powerful and can only come from a place that understands what darkness truly looks like. James Kennedy’s vocals are modern, refreshing, and ultimately an amalgamation of numerous stylistic influences (rock, soul, blues and pop). For me, James may very well be the Welsh Jeff Buckley, as his songwriting reminds me so much of the late, great performer.
Home is an uplifting journey for the listener and it reminds you to dust yourself off and keep pushing on in a hostile world.
Home can be pre-ordered at https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/home/id1182038899
James Kennedy can be found at:
I don’t know how often I’ve said this on my site, but I consider Van Halen to be one of my all-time greatest musical influences. Those of you who know Van Halen likely know the reputation of the band to be rather notorious for having numerous lead singers.
Officially these singers are David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, and Gary Cherone. There is another singer that I only discovered recently, however, thanks to the beauty of YouTube. After listening to a demo from the Van Halen III sessions, I was recommended a video for a song called “It’s The Right Time” that was recorded by a brilliant singer named Mitch Malloy.
I was blown away that I had never, in all my years of being obsessed with this band, known of this guy! After Sammy was booted out of the band, Mitch was actually the guy on point to do a new record with the band. For various reasons, which are detailed in the video below, Mitch chose to leave the project.
After some correspondence with Mitch, who is a super chill dude, I decided to review his most recent record Making Noise. I gotta tell you folks, the first thing that comes to mind when listening to this album is KICK ASS. The songs are pure, high-adrenaline hard rock that have soaring melodies and brilliant musicianship.
The central point of the record is Mitch’s powerful voice. It’s no wonder why Eddie Van Halen told Mitch that he was the “best fucking singer” he’d ever heard. Malloy’s tone is pristine and also aggressive, and his range is simply mind-blowing.
The songs themselves leave you in a state of euphoria that good rock n’ roll should always create. You can hear the meticulous work that Mitch put into writing Making Noise and his attention to detail shows. The production is top notch and the instruments sound fantastic.
This record is so much more than simply Making Noise. It is a proclamation that rock is still alive and well, no matter what the radio DJs (or Gene Simmons) might be saying. You are left at the end of the album feeling so damn good and it is a high that only the best rock can give you.
Get this record if you value true rock n’ roll, you won’t be disappointed.
Get Making Noise at http://www.mitchmalloy.com
Pop punk has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts with the new blink-182 lineup including Matt Skiba. Additionally Green Day has released a timely new record that sends all kinds of nostalgia towards the generation that cut their teeth on Warning and American Idiot.
It is perhaps this nostalgia that first drew me in when I listened to Nothing to Write Home About, an EP from Boston-based Last Letters. Last Letters is the brainchild of Charles Iwuc; a veteran of the New England pop/punk scene. As he put it to me, “my album tends to fall into the emo/pop/rock genre… These songs are completely self-produced and were recorded in my home studio in Boston.”
The songs on Nothing to Write Home About are infectious, melodious, and honestly beautiful. I felt like a teenager again listening to this record; back when Brand New was singing about their ex-girlfriend leaving America for an English boy, and Yellowcard talked about being 18, sleeping all day, staying up all night.
Everything that made bands like the aforementioned great is present here. Make no mistake, Last Letters has a sound of all its own. The music on this EP isn’t formulaic and it has its own identity within such a beloved genre.
Honestly, to get a little personal here, I was having a really awful day when I went to write this review. Doing this review brought me to a better mental state. It brought me back to the good old days, and it felt amazing. THAT is the power of music that matters.
I truly urge you not to miss out on experiencing Nothing to Write Home About for yourself.
Nothing to Write Home About by Last Letters can be found on iTunes and Spotify.
It’s always great coming into contact with brand new bands. In this case I refer to the Indie – Pop/Punk band The Deadnotes. Hailing from Freiburg, Germany, the band consists of Darius (guitar), Jakob (bass) and Yannic (drums). In their debut record I’ll Kiss All Fears Out Of Your Face, The Deadnotes show a mainstream sound with enough edge to get accepted by more fringe punk communities.
Each song on I’ll Kiss All Fears Out Of Your Face has strong melodies, tight grooves, and enough balance in energy to make the record complete. The instrumentals are powerful and a driving force. There isn’t a lot of overproduction, which allows the organic nature of each instrument to really shine. The vocals are aggressive, scratchy, and also melodic. Sort of like a lot of indie bands you’ll hear on the radio these days in the U.S.
Thematically the album, in the words of the band, “comes straight from the heart and hopefully people can identify with while being in a bad way or are struggling with mental health.” It makes sense when you listen through the entire album, as there is rage as well as a push to survive. You can feel it.
I’ll Kiss All Fears Out Of Your Face will release on October 7th. Get your copy when it drops.
The Deadnotes can be found at:
mellowtone is an enigma; just one listen through their music will tell you that. The Swiss band blends trip-hop, ambient, rock, psychedelic, and indie styles to create their sound. Consisting of singer Martina Birbaum, Micro Ackermann (guitar), Matthias Haymoz (bass), Ives Schmidt (piano) and Beat Huber (drums); mellowtone seeks to provide the very sound its name suggests.
On their second record, Broken Rooms, the general flow of the music is consistent with trip-hop and industrial styles, with laid back arrangements that also provide tension when necessary. Birbaum’s vocals fit with the music, simultaneously having a sharp edge and calm delivery. The instrumental arrangements from start to finish on Broken Rooms are dream-like, industrial, calm, and never overpower the listener.
For some trip-hop and related styles are a niche brand. In the case of mellowtone there is enough variety that listeners of Massive Attack and more mainstream electronic acts like Broods or Lorde would enjoy. To have such an appealing sound is an achievement in itself. I can easily add mellowtone to my new favorite acts, as they do everything right.
mellowtone can be found at:
In my time as a music journalist I have had the good fortune of coming into contact with some amazing music from Iceland. One more that I get to add to this growing collection is Stafrænn Hákon. Stafrænn Hákon is the stage name of musician Ólafur Josephsson whose most recent release Eternal Horse caught my attention.
Stafrænn Hákon’s music is described as “Alternative, Rock, Electronica, Ambient, Power-Ambient,” and nowhere is this more apparent than on Eternal Horse. Consisting of musicians Ólafur Josephsson (guitar), Árni Árnason (bass), Lárus Sigurðsson (guitar),
Róbert Már Runólfsson (drums), and Magnús Freyr (vocals & guitar); this record is the perfect definition of balance.
Eternal Horse has so much going on at once in terms of sound, but it never overwhelms you. You don’t feel the blended styles trying to one-up each other, but rather working as a cohesive unit. From instrumental explorations to vocal compositions, Stafrænn Hákon presents an album that is just enough mainstream and just enough experimental to draw both schools of thought together.
The music on Eternal Horse can energize you, take you away to another world, calm your spirit, and make you think all at once. When I think of what an alternative rock band should sound like, Stafrænn Hákon presents all of the qualities I look for. Listening to Eternal Horse is a must for any alt rock fan.
Honestly it is a must for any music fan.
Stafrænn Hákon can be found at: