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.
By: Nick Manduley
Jersey Shore-based emo rockers This Year’s Comeback independently dropped their latest record “Missing Pages” back in March. “Missing Pages” is a follow up and thematic sequel to the group’s 2018 debut LP “Far From Fine, A Garden State Tragedy.” ‘Far From Fine’ told the story of an unnamed protagonist who falls into a pit of emotional distress as a result of being in a toxic, mentally abusive relationship, which is continued on “Missing Pages.”
‘Missing Pages’ shows the band in a more dynamic light. The record opens with frontman Brian Matthew fiercely strumming an acoustic guitar and singing passionately about our protagonist feeling like he’s being “torn out of missing pages,” but then segways into the upbeat, distorted sound the boys gave us on “Far From Fine.” However, this time, the band puts a heavier, more metal edge on their sound. Tracks such as “Dropout” end with an electrifying breakdown and intense screams courtesy of Matthew. Other songs such as “Speedkasket,” “Monotony” and “Young & Angry” delivers the raw, emotional punch that leaves fans screaming every word.
“The purpose of ‘Missing Pages’ was to tie any loose ends that may have been left on ‘Far From Fine,” wrote the band in a social media post. “[We] further develop the psyche of the protagonist, and finally, give a proper resolution to the tail. If anything is to be taken from this, it’s to always persevere in the face of adversity.”
However, while the pop-punk tale has drawn to a close, it’s clear the boys in This Year’s Comeback are eager to push forward; they’ve been pretty busy since “Missing Pages” dropped earlier this year. After a slew of shows across the state, including a performance at the famed Stone Pony in Asbury Park, the band is once again writing new music. The band is reportedly halfway through recording their new EP, which they say could be out by the end of the summer at the earliest. For fans who are itching for new content, the band plans on releasing a compilation of unused demos and songs from their time recording “Garden State Tragedy” and “Missing Pages” later on this week, so be sure to catch up with This Year’s Comeback on social media to stay updated! Links to the band’s socials are conveniently located on their bandcamp account, where listeners can also download all their music for the “name-your-price” option. Fans can catch This Year’s Comeback in concert on August 31st at The Clubhouse in Toms River, New Jersey with other local acts such as The Open Minds, Ventress, and Night’s Edge.
Nick Manduley is a publicity intern with Muddy Paw PR, and a senior at Monmouth University where he is studying public relations and journalism. Manduley is also a staff writer for Monmouth’s student-run newspaper, The Outlook. Since 2016, Manduley has provided guitar and vocals for Jersey Shore-based punk outfit Drive, Kid. Drive, Kid has shared the stage with notable and upcoming artists such as Slaughter Beach, Dog, Rarity, and The Ones You Forgot. Their music can be streamed here as well as all major streaming services.
By: Nick Manduley
Columbia, South Carolina-based post-hardcore outfit When I Say Jump completely flies off the handle their debut record “Separation Anxiety.” Released back in January, the eight-track album offers a unique blend of hardcore, emo, and pop punk. The opening track “Debby Drowner” immediately throws the listener back to the mid-2000s “mall emo” days, when albums like My Chemical Romance’s “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” and Fall Out Boy’s “From Under The Cork Tree” topped the charts. However, it isn’t before long that the vicious screams and biting guitar riffs begin incorporating into the mix, and the result gives those aforementioned iconic albums a run for their money.
“I’ve Been Skipping the Bus, but This Day Pass Is Burning a Hole in My Pocket” showcases the band in this heavy light, as well as their witty lyrics fueled by raw emotion. “This Gun’s Just A Conversation Piece” features brutal vocals and ripping guitar work that’s reminiscent of bands such as Every Time I Die or My Chemical Romance. “Dishonest Love” is another emotional track that tackles themes of betrayal from friends with splintering guitar riffs that explode into a melodic chorus. Tracks such as “Cry, Wolf” shows a bit more of the band’s dynamic, opening with a soft droning guitar against a light synth composition, with emotionally charged vocals courtesy of vocalist Brennen Monk. This release definitely makes it clear that the boys in When I Say Jump aren’t messing around; they’re a band with a mission to make music that’s not only amazing, but sends a real message as well.
Fans can expect a new music video before the year is out, as the band has been working with director Jaiden Frost. “Separation Anxiety” can be found on major streaming platforms, and is available for the “name-your-price” option on the band’s bandcamp account. Listeners will also find the band’s heavily scream-ladened cover of Lil Nas X’s hit “Old Town Road” available for download.
By: Nick Manduley
Asbury Park hardcore punk outfit Kissies released a new single, “Angley,” on June 17th. The song, named after guitarist Alex Angley, was released as a means of raising funds for the guitarist’s debt from the legal system. “Angley” is a short track; clocking in at just under a minute, the four-piece bombards the listener with screamed vocals and vicious, dissonant guitar riffs. The noisy guitar tones and precise rhythmic execution makes it very clear that this band is something to keep an eye on in the heavy music community. Guitarist Kevin Henson and bassist Luke Hendriks (of Teenage Halloween) provide amazingly visceral vocal performances, as well as a politically charged spoken word section courtesy of Hendriks. The track is available on their bandcamp account for one dollar (as part of the preorder for their upcoming EP “S”, due out August 10th), with the self titled EP being available the “name-your-price” option, providing fans with the option to donate if they feel so inclined.
Kissies emerged on the D.I.Y. New Jersey punk circuit in 2018, playing shows in the area and blowing show-goers away with their raw, noisy, scream-ladened brand of hardcore. The band, describing their sound as “queer skram,” dropped their debut self-titled EP on March 5th, 2019. The band’s songwriting thematically deals with the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community as well as mental health. The band will be next performing July 10th at Chamber 43 in Highland Park, New Jersey with other talented local acts such as Sunrot, Miriam, and North Carolina-based death metal act Basilica.