By: Nick Manduley
Emo math rockers Origami Angel released their latest EP Gen 3 at the end of May. The two-piece from the greater Washington, D.C. area packed their newest release to the brim with twinkly guitar riffs, indie pop hooks, vicious drumming, and cheeky pop culture references. Though Gen 3 is only a brief four tracks in length, there is not a single dull moment on the release.
“Ruby” starts infectiously with a memorable vocal hook that builds into an avalanche of upbeat drums and twinkling guitar riffs that weaves seamlessly through guitarist and vocalist Rylan Heagy’s melodic vocal sections. “Sapphire” is an unapologetically fun track which offers some memorably cheeky lyrics; if you find yourself at a basement show and hear kids shouting “I know you more than I know anything about Pokemon, or Star Trek, or Twin Peaks, or even Rocket League” then you just might be at an Origami Angel gig.
From the first second, “Emerald” is easily the emo punk powerhouse on this EP. It comes right out of the gate with an infectious guitar riff that’s bound to get crowds moving. The dance beats and math rock riffs on this track easily make the song into party fuel (as if the whole EP wasn’t party fuel to begin with; the album cover itself is a hilarious parody of a Pokemon video game cover). Drummer Pat Doherty brings the heat on the funky closing track “XD Gale of Darkness” as Heagy spits those fast-paced verses. “XD” takes a very a heavy shift as the drums begin to almost pulsate behind Heagy’s screams before the track descends into an aggressive beatdown, effectively ending the EP with a bang.
Gen 3 is available on all major streaming services. Fans will be able to catch the band in Fallston, Maryland at the DIY venue Grateful Acres. The venue address can be found by direct messaging @smmyhck on Instagram. They will be sharing the stage with other up-and-coming artists such as Sammy Heck, Monster Bad, Jack M. Senff, Bad Heaven, and Morning Dew.
By: Nick Manduley
Ocean County singer-songwriter Kelli Faith independently released her debut full-length album 21 on September 20th. 21 is filled to the brim with catchy choruses and cheeky melodies bound to leave the listener humming for days after the first listen. Faith opens the record with the emotional number “Sincerely,” which acts as a grandiose welcoming to the next 40 minutes of unfiltered boppage. It’s always great when artists start their albums off with a bang, a couple noteworthy examples being “The End” from My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade or “System…Meltdown” from Enter Shikari’s A Flash Flood of Colour.
The album pushes forward with the catchy mid-tempo tune “Bad News,” which is laden with encapsulating yet simplistic lead guitar melodies and relatable lyrics; once you hear this song you’ll be humming “Man, I really messed up this time!” for the whole day. And I’m not just saying that because it’s exactly what my roommate has been doing for the past week, driving me absolutely bonkers. Faith gets in touch with her rock roots on “Chasing Tails,” which is arguably one of the more memorable songs on the record. Faith asserts herself as the frontwoman she is on “Chasing.”
Tracks such as “Time Will Tell” and “Someone New” are bound to have people dancing with their infectious guitar progressions and vocal melodies. Faith delivers a wonderful vocal performance, painting the tracks with sweet harmonies. However, if we’re talking about dancing, it would be criminal to not shine a light on the songs “Him” and “All Parts.” “Him” was the first single released from 21 and immediately ropes in the listener with that insanely catchy chorus, ending with a powerful cacophony of harmonies and clashing vocal parts. However, Faith keeps the energy flowing as “All Parts” explodes right out of the gate with rippling beat courtesy of drummer Dee DiMeola, who also delivers all the infectious lead guitar on the record. Faith gets in touch with her pop roots on “All Parts,” utilizing dance beats and plenty of vocal hooks.
The record slows down for a bit with the ever-so-relatable tune “Love Myself” as well as “This House” which is easily the emotional powerhouse (no pun intended) on this record. The record pushes towards the end with “Still There” before ending with “21” and “More.” Faith delivers a tear-jerking ode to her late father on “Still There” before switching gears into the title track, which recounts the tale of overcoming of a toxic relationship in favor of a brighter future. We reviewed “More” some weeks ago as it was the second single off the record, but after hearing the full release, it’s clear that “More” isn’t just a romantic country tune with a face-melting guitar solo; it’s also the perfect ending to this little storybook called 21.
By: Nick Manduley
Acoustic indie rocker Mike Simmons independently released his latest single “Give My Girl Back” on May 10th. The single is the Los Angeles singer-songwriter’s first release since his 2017 track “Wherever It Goes.”
“Give My Girl Back” is a gentle track that opens with the blissful arpeggiated picking of an acoustic guitar, paired with Simmons’ emotive, reverb-laden vocals. The alternative guitar picking acts as almost a blank canvas upon which Simmons paints with harmonies and themes of feeling as though you’ve found your soulmate. Clocking in at just over two and a half minutes, this song is perfect for a warm, sunny morning sipping tea or coffee on your front porch.
Simmons gives a more docile take on his sound with “Give My Girl Back”; his previous single, “Wherever It Goes,” is a full band indie folk rock ballad guaranteed to have indie lovers everywhere singing along.
When Simmons emerged as an artist, the formula was pretty simple; play some songs and read some poems on the street and in strip clubs, and then hopefully make some cash. After making some friends, getting a band together, and fleshing out his sound, producers from coast to coast began knocking on Simmons’ door. Since then, Simmons has performed his music all over America in venues of all shapes and sizes. Fans can find “Give My Girl Back” on all major streaming platforms, along with “Wherever It Goes” and Simmons’ 2016 full length album, “Sunburn.”
By: Nick Manduley
Soul, rage, rock; these adjectives only scratch the surface of the black feminist powerhouse that is Seattle’s Bearaxe. The four-piece punk act blends progressive rock roots with the raw, emotive stylings of soul. Vocalist Shaina Shepherd delivers a mind-blowing vocal performance on their debut EP Last Call, fusing her biting soul voice with explosive jazz and funk influenced proto-punk.
On Last Call, the band doesn’t beat around the bush for one second; the opening track ‘Buy You’ immediately graces the listener’s ears with a devilishly nasty guitar riff courtesy of guitarist Matt Williams. Shepherd enters the mix with a maniacal laugh as the track explodes into an unstoppable full-band freight train of sound, bound to have the dancefloors of rock clubs everywhere shaking with vigor. Shepherd’s seamless vocal belts give way to her zero-bullshit message to the proverbial ‘gentleman-with-the-crew-cut-in-the-back-of-the-class’: “you don’t own me!”
‘Uber’ is the next the track up to bat, and opens with bassist Jon Lemmon delivering a percussive yet soulful bassline, accompanied by Shepherd’s powerful vocals. As the band enters the track full-swing, Williams and Shepherd go almost back and forth with vocals and guitar. Shepherd sings a line, and Williams replies to her with a positively scrumptious guitar lick. ‘Ready or Not’ pushes the release forward with an angry, upbeat rock progression. Shepherd doesn’t hold back on the high notes, proving once more the strength of her vocal prowess. It’s clear that ‘Ready or Not’ is one of the band’s magic hat tricks to get any crowd to maximum levels of hype.
‘Brown Liquor’ keeps up the pace set by ‘Ready or Not’ with crushing mid-tempo riffage and fat bass lines. Posing itself as a hard rock tune reminiscent of the classics, ‘Brown Liquor’ is easily fan favorite. The next track, ‘Undertow’, opens with a sweet bassline before Williams joins in with some clean-toned guitar noodling, with Shepherd giving a soulful and perhaps more pop influenced vocal melody. The laid-back vibe on this track rounds out the band’s sound, and gives an excellent dynamic to Last Call. The closing track ‘For the Kill’ is an aggressive, funkalicious mid-tempo track with excellent guitar work reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello. For one last time, Shepherd graces us with her powerful high notes before the song shifts to a more upbeat feel, solidifying the EP as an album that goes out the same way it came in: with a bang.
Last Call is now available on all major streaming platforms. Fans can catch the band performing these epic numbers live on September 21st at the Vessel Taphouse in Lynwood, WA, and then again on September 29th at The Sunset in Seattle.