<![CDATA[Hear This! Promotions - Reviews/Interviews]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 06:37:19 -0800EditMySite<![CDATA[HTP BAND OF THE WEEK REVIEW: Testosteroso]]>Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:36:21 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-band-of-the-week-review-testosterosoPicture









Testosteroso - Comedy Rock - Marietta, PA

Comedy music exists in a strange area of in-betweens—it’s just as engaging (if not more so) than even the most inspiring, uplifting material out there, but often fails to be taken seriously, strictly because of the subject matter. Testosteroso, a self-proclaimed “friendly neighborhood dick joke band,” would, naturally, be expected to teeter on this precise blurry, facetious edge of funny enjoyable songs that don’t quite manage to make a lasting impact on the psyche, but the group’s 2012 full-length “Four-Fathers” seems to pose quite the challenge to this phenomenon. While lines like “I’d rather slam my dick in a refrigerator door than see your ugly f*cking face gain” may not change your life, there’s no way to avoid the categorical memorability.

Even before hitting the “Play” button, the grotesque imagery accompanying “Four-Fathers” lets you know right out of the gate that you’re in for an unconventional aural ride. A quick glance at the song titles (“Bambi Sandwich”, “Robo-Sexual”, “Kick You in the Vagina”, etc) is probably more than enough to turn the prudish away, but to dismiss Testosteroso for their song titles would be like rejecting a cheeseburger because you don’t like the plate it’s on.

The “Testo Theme” kicks things off in as fitting of a manner as humanly possible, with some unexpectedly refined recording production and six-string talent. Testosteroso may be a “joke” band, but Skot Shaub sure knows how to play a guitar, as he proves time and time again throughout the album. You can almost see him shaking his head back and forth in unrelenting irony onstage as his power metal fingers hop up and down the fretboard during the verses, and his James Hetfield/Danzig vocal delivery hybrid only adds to the satire.

“Chew Toy” will have you laughing nonstop at the absolute ridiculousness of the tight chorus vocal harmonies singing about “wiener surgery” as a skilled bass riff finishes off each measure. Despite the comical presentation of “Four-Fathers”, the music is actually rather engaging and diverse for a band with such a strikingly nonchalant exterior shell. The octave leads in “Chew Toy” are the best melodic lines that The Misfits never wrote, and the lighthearted, bouncy riff beginning “Kick You in the Vagina” is a perfectly executed nostalgic trip back to early 2000's ska punk.

Many will be quick to write off “Lesbians” as a chauvinistic downward spiral into gender discrimination (which, for the most part, it is), but Shaub still amazingly finds a way to achieve some sort of insight within the ceaseless jesting. As he laments the porn industry’s misrepresentation of female homosexuals, who are, very rarely, as perfectly thin, tan and blonde as you’ll see in every PornHub masterpiece, you can’t help but see the connections within to your media criticism class on campus. Aside from laughing, successful comedy is supposed to get you thinking, and as Testosteroso skillfully ridicules a still enormously popular genre without ever missing a beat, you start to wonder if there really is a difference between the two. Differences or not, sign me up.

Check out "Four-Fathers" Here: 
http://testosteroso.com/music/

Support on Facebook: 
http://www.facebook.com/testosteroso

By: Max Puhala


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<![CDATA[HTP BAND OF THE WEEK REVIEW: Blinded Memory]]>Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:24:29 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-band-of-the-week-review-blinded-memoryBlinded Memory - Melodic Metal - Riga, Latvia

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Ever since the Berlin Wall came down, many have been quick to assume that Eastern Europe was destined to find itself forever in the shadows of its capitalist Western counterpart—be it in government, wealth, quality of living, or even art.  Eastern melodic metal, though, has proven to be just as strong (if not stronger) than its favored next door neighbor, with many thanks to the Hear This! Promotions “Band of the Week”—Blinded Memory, hailing all the way from Riga, Latvia—and their 2013 release, “From the Ashes”, putting the country right back on the proverbial metal map.

The five tracks of “From the Ashes”, all being in the same key, work very much as a cohesive unit, with the aptly titled “The Beginning” starting things off with a bang before leading seamlessly into the first full song, “Hypocrite”.  “The Beginning” introduces some interesting electronica elements, which unfortunately never find their way back into the Blinded Memory equation, but the dual-metal onslaught from vocalist Eric Novikov and guitarist Anton Polskikh more than make up for the lack of instrumental diversity.

Novikov’s writing is the perfect fit for this style of music.  He can call out the dissenters without seeming inflated (“You’re so pathetic tonight”), or find a way to turn a night at rock bottom into something as inspiring as a Rocky montage (“That’s not the way how my story ends…I’ll take my final chance”).  “Takeover” additionally might as well be the siren song for any band that’s ever dealt with the petty drama at the local level, with Novikov’s sarcastic, snotty spoken-word bridge conjuring enough human relatability (who hasn’t wanted to yell a vocalized middle finger into someone’s face at some point in his/her life?) to transcend multiple world borders and nationalities.

At any point where Novikov can’t quite carry the whole track on his own (a very rare occurrence on “From the Ashes”), Poskikh steps in on the six-string, usually at the end, to lift the song to its final pinnacle.  The pairing of the classic 80's metal tapping and familiar heady melodies in the fragile “Forever and Always” offer the perfect antithesis to Novikov’s brutally personal lyrics, and then the bridge’s combination of whispered vocals with clean guitars become just the icing on an already exceedingly rich cake.

Blinded Memory is likely located very far away from your hometown (there are about 5,000 miles between them and myself), but Novikov has a real knack for surpassing that distance in his lyrics.  Just one listen of “From the Ashes” is enough to feel a true sense of connection to this Eastern Europe metal outfit, because you’ve felt all of these things that Novikov has.  You’ve struggled just like he has, and you’re going to be supporting Blinded Memory just like he does as soon as “The Beginning” finds its way into your headphones.

Check Out Their Website, And Listen To "From the Ashes" Here:
http://www.blindedmemory.com

Support On Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/BlindedMemory

By: Max Puhala

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<![CDATA[HTP REVIEW: Empire]]>Tue, 08 Apr 2014 16:42:06 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-review-empireEmpire - Hardcore, Metalcore - Richmond, MI

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A quick trip over to small town hardcore outfit Empire’s Facebook page will bring you a bit more than just the band’s music.  Sure, you’ll get to explore the pictures, listen to the songs and catch up on their upcoming shows, but that’s all after the fact—after a prominent, unforgiving inverted crucifix slaps you right in the face, just before the first cavernous “chord” (composed completely of tritones) rips its way through your ear canal.  A tough introduction, indeed, but who listens to metal to be coddled?

The desperate screams littering the introduction to “The Worst” should be enough evidence alone to prove that these Richmond, Michigan boys aren’t looking to lull or pacify.  While some music can be thought of as an aural analgesic to your shredded feelings, Empire’s tunes are better visualized as cans of gasoline being hurled at a tire fire.  Chris Fortuna takes nearly a minute to actually speak (or scream) a word, favoring a snotty cackle for a first impression rather than taking the easy, immediate route, and the rest of the band seems to be perfectly content bombarding the listeners with their seemingly endless walls of chugged fury throughout the duration of their recently released EP, “Lesson Learned”.

That’s not to say that we don’t find some sonic diversity hidden in the dark corners of Empire’s breakdown assailment, though if you dive in expecting a mosaic of genres and styles, you’re going to come out mostly unsatisfied and with a nice new bloody nose, which is something everyone gets anyways.  Like a team of ancient gladiators, Empire picks an attack and sticks with it, so it should come as no surprise that “Anxiety” does heavy music justice with its refined interlocking riffing and percussion.  The stylistic bass drum hits are like exclamation points, capping off each beat with an explosion of emotion as the eclectic riffs pan back and forth in your ears.

Prior to adopting the Empire moniker, the band named themselves (probably ironically) All Sounds Off, but after some new members rejuvenated the cause, the band as we know it today fatefully came to be.  In the same way that additions to the sound brought about a new sense of seriousness, the “Teaser” for Empire’s new material only further elevates the group’s purpose.  Incorporating new melodic ideas and more precise writing, the teaser will not only prove just how much Empire can grow in a short amount of time, but how long of a musical life they've got ahead of them.  If you thought “Lesson Learned” was intense, then you’ve got a lot of training to do for what’s to come.

Listen to "Lessons Learned" and "Teaser" Here: 
https://www.facebook.com/Empire586/app_178091127385

Support On Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Empire586

By: Max Puhala

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<![CDATA[HTP REVIEW: Animal Train]]>Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:45:29 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-review-animal-trainAnimal Train - Punk - Austin, TX

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As the seemingly endless landscape of empty cups and leftover bottles from SXSW finally begin to clear, Austin, Texas’ own Animal Train emerge from the wreckage—they’re not done by any means. In fact, they’re only getting started. When everyone packs up, hops in the van, and heads home after the four-day festival stint in March, they’re still here to play, as if nothing tiring ever happened in the first place. As members of an increasingly inclusive musical community, it’s no surprise that Animal Train knows how to hold down the fort while having a great time doing it, and “Premature Incineration”, the band’s most recent eight-track release, is, expectedly and rightfully so, the seasoned punk rock edifice of such a famous Texas town.

Despite the album’s brevity of needed audience investment ("Premature Incineration" barely surpasses twelve total minutes), the DIY Austin band still manages to make an impression. Part Misfits, part Pennywise (and a dash of the dark side of Milo Aukerman finds its way in there, too), Animal Train is anti-establishment conglomeration of all of the best aspects of classic punk rock. “Fight” knows exactly the kind of song it is, and doesn’t try to convince you otherwise. With fast power chords, a parallel vocal line, calls to sing along, and mid-track “whoa-ohs”, there are certainly no surprises, but more importantly, there are also no slipups.

From the first simple three-chord introduction to the final strum of “The Great Tax Cut”, Animal Train plays the music they grew up with, respects the classic punk integrity, and doesn’t try to convince the listener they’re something they’re not. Every part has a purpose. Every chorus chant enters the speakers and leaves without overstaying its welcome, and every song ends at just the right point—strong, but you still want more.

Listen/Buy "Premature Incineration" Here: http://podunkrecords.bandcamp.com/album/premature-incineration

Support The Band On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/animaltrain

By: Max Puhala


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<![CDATA[HTP BAND OF THE WEEK REVIEW: Past The point of words]]>Sun, 06 Apr 2014 15:45:54 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-band-of-the-week-review-past-the-point-of-wordsPast The Point Of Words - Metalcore, Post-Hardcore - Belleville, CAN

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A quick look at the “About Me” section of Belleville, Ontario’s Past the Point of Words would indicate that the modern metalcore outfit is, ironically, not at a loss for words at all—the page being littered with inspiring quotes and a concrete visible ethos for all to read.

The band takes an interesting approach to introducing themselves, here, by choosing the path of least resistance, or better yet, the path of least obscurity.  We immediately know who they are, what they live for, and why we just can’t seem to stop listening to them.
Past the Point of Words plays an updated version of the popular early-2000s “Fuse-core”, much in the vein of “Discovering the Waterfront”-era Silverstein, which teeters precariously on a catchy, melodic cliff, but is always ready to fall into a pit of unmitigated, distorted fury.  Opening track “Wake” on their 2014 six-track EP, “Past the Point of Words”, begins with a classic clean guitar intro, flirting with the heart-on-the-sleeve sound of the stringed minor seventh before willingly launching itself into the breakdown abyss, with the aptly-named drummer Jared Leadbeater’s double bass confidently holding nothing back.  

Jared Farrow and Brandon Beausoleil’s vocals sit at an intriguing crossroad here: both their yells and cleans manage to conjure their own distinct identity, which, while impressive, make them very difficult lyricists to pin down.  Their venerable showcasing of fragility is quickly found in many of record’s choruses, as they lament their ceaseless nightmares in “Wake” or let their hearts spill out all over the microphone in “The Beginning”, but late-album headbangers “David” and “Goliath” hold nothing back in aggressive intensity.

Diversity is never a bad thing, though, and while unattended wavering lyrical emotion and ferocity would certainly throw off some listeners, PtPoW always manages to balance their aural scale.  In “David”, which may be the most blistering track on the album, to make up for the lack of smooth melody in the vocals, guitarists Philip Andrews and Michael Domingo step up to the plate and unleash their most memorable leads on the entire album—a proverbial ying to Farrow’s yang.

PtPoW finds success time and time again on their self-titled debut, precisely because of this: each member is a perfect counterpart to the other, consistent aces in the hole whenever necessary.  These are musicians who know each other very well and have experienced so many different things, both good and bad, together.  It’s no surprise that these close-knit friends are releasing a debut full of tight, approachable metalcore, unhindered by egos and pretension.  Life isn’t a contest, and it’s done PtPoW good to attach more meaning to the moments of growth, instead of those of inflated successes.

Listen Here:
http://pastthepointofwords.bandcamp.com/album/past-the-point-of-words

Support On Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pastthepointofwordsband

By: Max Puhala

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<![CDATA[HTP REVIEW: Time to kill]]>Mon, 31 Mar 2014 08:13:11 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-review-time-to-killTime to Kill - Metal, Thrash, Punk - Wisconsin Rapids, WI

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“Ashes to ashes / And all that sh*t”—the first words out of the mouth of Jon Munro, Time To Kill’s misanthropic vocalist, on their aptly titled 2013 full-length release, “Ashes to Ashes”.  It’s initially easy to glean a sense of darkness and anger from the iconoclastic lines, but looking deeper within, there’s also an impression of learned skill, of an aged wisdom.  These are the words of veterans.  

Wisconsin’s Time To Kill are certainly pros at the music game.  They’ve been around a whopping seven years, released two albums worldwide, shared the stage with Beatallica and After the Burial, and have survived multiple member changes to still tell their story today.  Now they occupy the “Number 1” spot on the Wisconsin ReverbNation metal charts, and are poised to continue building a legacy for many years to come with “Ashes to Ashes”, a 13-track melting pot of punk, thrash and classic metal, released in late 2013.

After an eerie introduction, consisting of ticking clocks and swampy six-string flange, the title track immediately proves Time To Kill’s disregard for the compartmentalization of genres.  Keith Monville’s chunky guitar chords are weighted with 80's heaviness but somehow manage to travel down the fretboard with impressive speed, conjuring a sound both punk and metal in nature.  Drummer Steven Heath showcases his diverse percussive range by constantly switching up the feel of the rhythm between fast aggression and trudging power.  Genre traversing is not an easily taught compositional skill, but those seven years’ worth of experience under the Time To Kill belt are certainly paying off here.

Lyrically, the Wisconsin rockers offer just as much, if not more, sonic diversity.  Munro can go straight from an alcohol-fueled anthem (“99 Beers”) to indulgent dining titles (“Chocolate Covered Bacon”) before switching right back to bleak, depressive themes (“I’ve Got Nothing”).  It’s nice to know that a band so infatuated by death and dismay can still have fun, which makes “Ashes to Ashes” much more of an engaging emotional roller-coaster than a straight downward spiral.

It’s hard to say where Time To Kill will take their sound next, having already proven themselves adept at molding three vastly different styles together in a way that’s both original and familiar, but given the band’s mosaic of an oeuvre, the sky seems to be the limit at this point.  Pick up a copy of “Ashes to Ashes” from the band’s Facebook and catch them on tour in the Midwest as soon as possible.  And expect an even wider spectrum of sounds to be covered the next time around—if you can handle it.

Listen to "Ashes to Ashes" Here:
http://www.reverbnation.com/timetokill

Official Site:
http://www.timetokill.us

By: Max Puhala

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<![CDATA[HTP REVIEW: quintessence of versatility]]>Tue, 25 Mar 2014 17:26:38 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-review-quintessence-of-versatilityQuintessence of Versatility - Extreme Metal - Rennes, FR

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In the later episodes of “The Sopranos”, the musings of Carmela Soprano during her philosophical trip to Paris illustrate best the situation of France’s Quintessence of Versatility.  The extreme metal band with deathcore leanings exists within a thriving French metal community—the members having all spent time in numerous successful groups before finally coming together in the late 2000s—yet my unexpectedly isolated American location has caused this robust ecosystem to completely pass me by throughout my entire life.  In the show, over an elaborate dinner spread, Soprano ruminates on how we never realize that the whole world keeps on living, even when we’re not there, and my ignorance of Quintessence of Versatility can only be described as such.  I never apprehended such a music scene in my days, but the band’s 2014 EP, “Reveal The Truth”, has done just that—and now I see the truth.

Recorded with multiple producers at three separate locations, “Reveal The Truth” somehow manages to generate a sense of uniformity, despite its colorful upbringing.  The five tracks here are all seasoned compositions of heavy, aggressive and intense metal that are unafraid to beat you down into the cement with double bass and discordance.  Opening track “Forever Depressed” wastes no time in painting a bleak picture with an equally bleak accompaniment.  Drummer Aurélien "Wally" Groussolle puts forth an overwhelming percussive onslaught, matching the technical copper riffing with the utmost dexterity, as vocalist Guillaume Gandon proves his aural diversity, bree-ing and screaming at both ends of the spectrum.

In short, these songs are the essence of sonic maximalism.  Quintessence of Versatility writes and plays, intentionally or otherwise, to pummel the listener into a fetal position, almost never letting up in intensity and aggression.  The short length of “Pimp Yourself” is about as much of a break as you’re going to get on “Reveal the Truth”, with additional momentary lapses in extremity in “This Is Our Life” (an extended, Between the Buried and Me-esque jazzy interlude) and closer “Unapplied Laws”, with its fist-pumping melodic guitar solo, straight out of a Power Metal 101 textbook.  Other than that, you should prepare yourself for a severely heavy listening experience—one that is rarely matched by bands in the States—full of riffing, double bass and darkness.

Both a vice and virtue, Quintessence of Versatility’s extremity in their writing will both astound and awe listeners, impressing some while off-putting others, which is to be expected when so firmly entrenching your music in such a polarized genre.  Power pop fans and pop punk enthusiasts will probably go running home to their mothers in tears after listening to just a few seconds of “Reveal The Truth”, but any metal fans out there are only going to be desperate for more at the EP’s conclusion.  This is as heavy as heavy gets, and with a two-week tour currently in the works, we can certainly expect to be reading some news articles soon on metal clubs’ walls falling down after Quintessenceof Versatility stopped by to play.  They’re coming, whether you’re ready or not.

Official Website/Music:
http://www.qov-official.com

Support on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/QoVofficial

By: Max Puhala

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<![CDATA[HTP REVIEW: Redambergreen]]>Wed, 19 Feb 2014 19:55:29 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-review-redambergreenRedambergreen - Powerpop, Punk, Rock - London, Canada

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Despite proclaiming themselves as purveyors of power pop and pop punk, female-fronted Canadian outfit Redambergreen proves to have a lot more subtlety and refined idiosyncrasies woven throughout their material than one would expect from the aforementioned oft-derivative styles. “No City”, the band’s most recent five-song crash course in love, loss and everything in between is such—a mature, revived affair of a genre that desperately needed something this fresh right about now. 

But to quickly lump Redambergreen under the power pop umbrella with sonic leaders like Paramore and certain incarnations of Emery would be doing their sound a great disservice. You can, of course, hear clips of Haley Williams in Sara Preston’s delivery throughout “No City”, but Preston’s voice has a far more intriguing, almost amplified appeal to it. Her vocal cords jump and crunch perfectly in rhythm with the deceivingly intricate distorted guitar in “Poison”, as if it takes no effort at all to mimic Phil Regimbal’s copper vibrations. “The Night We Won the War” finds her voice floating up and down the vocal register like clouds, delicate but confident, interesting yet approachable.

While Redambergreen certainly does have a wonderfully comforting and, yes, approachable sound, the band expands greatly on the general immediacy of upbeat power pop by offering their own counterpoint to it: a more brooding, contemplative aural mixture that still somehow maintains the genre’s catchiness. EP-opener “Storms and Rain” (note the melancholy) wastes no time in pulling back the curtains on Redambergreen’s dark rock tendencies, but the clever bouncy guitar picking in the verses manages to keep the band on course and prevents them from plunging into a black cave of maudlin, sulking slow jams. “Good Intentions”, though still more overcast than sunshine, offers a bright light of positivity right at the conclusion of “No City” with Preston belting out, “Let’s make a memory tonight”. Clearly, “No City” is worth remembering.

The crowds would seem to agree with that sentiment, since Redambergreen is completely sold out of their first run of CDs—no easy feat for a blooming underground act. With more on the way, though, and having already nabbed a spot on a London radio station’s “Top 30” charts, I think Redambergreen may really be onto something here. There may be no city built for music like this, yet, but having already proven the malleability of a genre with over ten years of repeat bolstering its foundation, Redambergreen are already well on their way to building it themselves.

Check Out "No City" For Yourself Here:
http://redambergreenband.bandcamp.com/album/no-city

Website: 
http://www.redambergreenband.com/

Support on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Redambergreenband

By: Max Puhala

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<![CDATA[HTP REVIEW: Alive In Standby]]>Fri, 07 Feb 2014 03:26:36 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-review-alive-in-standbyAlive In Standby (Weigh You Down") - Rock, Pop Punk, Progressive - Shelby Township, MI

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the single can make or break any band in a matter of a few seconds.  Alive In Standby, though, chose to not let a tall order such as this intimidate them, and fearlessly unleashed their newest song, “Weigh You Down”, a few months back to an unbelievably positive response.  Just adding on to their already very strong track record of releases, Alive In Standby made sure their new music had a message: that they are here to stay.

The Michigan band is a noticeably eclectic affair, which always works to their advantage.  Pairing the intros of “Weigh You Down” and “Miracle Maker” together creates two distinctly contrasting sounds, the former painting a colorful, refined alternative rock picture and the latter taking things to a theatrical, cinematic extreme.  Chris Koo’s bombastic keys are primarily responsible for the arresting, drop-everything-and-listen nature of “Miracle Maker”, which lift the listeners’ attention to great heights just as the repeated gang vocal refrain of “Yeah” brings the track to an emotional climax, and that’s all before the first verse even begins.

“Weigh You Down” is a bit more of a cultivated offering, clearly the result of many hours of meticulous planning and polishing.  The positive melodies churning under well-executed, diverse screams add yet another layer of intrigue to an already varied collage of a band, but Alive In Standby presents their best-wrapped package of professionalism with Ben Wilkins’ guitar.  A very seasoned player, Wilkins doesn’t need a 40 second solo to prove his talent, and instead, opts to add his perfect shade of high-end riffs over and over again to the percussion, always favoring melody over showboating, and never failing to disappoint.

With an accomplished track like “Weigh You Down” currently dominating Youtube, it won’t be long before Alive In Standby is on the radar of millions, rather than thousands, and with a recent stint on Warped Tour in addition to nabbing the opening slots on local Breathe Carolina and Dance Gavin Dance shows, there’s nowhere to go but up for these young Michigan craftsmen.  Take a load off and make room for Alive in Standby.  There are far worse weights that could be on your shoulders these days.

Check Out the Official Lyric Video for "Weigh You Down":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR_QHgoFnjs

Follow on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/aliveinstandby

Support on Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/aliveinstandby

By: Max Puhala

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<![CDATA[HTP REVIEW: The Fluke]]>Thu, 06 Feb 2014 00:07:41 GMThttp://hearthispromotions.weebly.com/reviewsinterviews/htp-review-the-flukeThe Fluke - Pop Punk, Alt - Chesterfield, MI

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Between all of the economic decline and Matt Stafford woes, you’d think Detroit wouldn’t have time to have such a thriving positive local music scene, but it’s quite the opposite, actually. The Fluke, a pop punk band continuing to carry the torch for the genre monoliths from the early 2000's, somehow has learned to make the most of the unfortunate present, sublimating their post-recession anger into walls of powerchords since 2010, which, if you ask me, couldn’t have been a better choice.

2013’s “Underage Thinking” opens on a familiar, but welcomed note with “Greek Tragedy”, a lighthearted, human reflection on David West's past mistakes. West, the lead vocalist, does an incredibly smart thing by openly taking the blame (“I’m sorry I was that way”) without embellishing or sugarcoating the past (his actions were “like a cheap shot below the belt”), which is about as real as it can get in my book. Far too many lyricists fail to come to terms with their own short-comings, often painting themselves as some larger-than-life preachers that can do no wrong, but West shows himself as an actual person with actual problems, and becomes far more relatable in the end.

Thankfully, even though he may not have the perfect past, he’s got a great band to back him up. Austin Fillenworth opens up “Greek Tragedy” perfectly with an extended drum intro, fast but precise, before the rest of the band launches into the song, primarily composed of well-executed powerchords and palm-muting. “Twenty One (Underage Thinking)” has one of the strongest intros on the album, beginning only with a bass, but soon snowballing into a full-band assault. “Good Thing” ventures into NOFX territory, and “Slacker” is the best fast song that Sum 41 never wrote. The album closer, "Going Away", is a strong finish and the listener gets a chance to hear a different side of the fluke in this powerful pop punk ballad. 

With “Underage Thinking”, The Fluke have crafted an engaging journey through 2000's pop punk, free of the clunky breakdowns and excessive harmonies that are all too prevalent in the modern style, and additionally free of the maudlin prepubescent lyrics, often way too fixated on loss. I didn’t think it was possible to do a mature take on such a commonly perceived immature genre, but The Fluke, not by chance, have found a way to update the sound without changing past conventions. It wasn’t an easy feat, and luckily for these Detroit boys, in a few years they’ll be able to reward themselves with a legal beer. Until then, they're going to have to settle for some underage shredding.

Listen to "Underage Thinking" Here:
https://soundcloud.com/thefluke/sets/underage-thinking

Website:
http://www.the-fluke.com/

Support on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fluke/181694685185425

By: Max Puhala

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