Ewian, Good Old Underground, 2014

ewian - good old undergroundA rather new international project has risen around Latvian born and German raised Ewian Christensen (vocals, piano, sounds). On this album he teams up with German guitar player Benjamin Lachance, English electronic singer songwriter Fifi Rong and American post rock artist James Hrabak. Good Old Underground is the first full length effort for this collective.

The first name that popped into my head while I was listening to this was Coldplay. Mainly because of the melancholic nature of most of the songs, especially the singing. Ewian use (more) guitars (it is a wall of sound) and colour their material in a more alternative way with for instance piano distortion and electronics. Another reference would be some new wave rock from the eighties. But without being able to pinpoint that to a specific band. The album just radiates a certain grandeur I associate with that time.

And what brings all this? Easy, a very enjoyable album that has flair, identity and good songs with light and dark. The melancholy is never far away but only serves to suck you into the album. It is never dull or sad, but instead vibrant and very alive. The contrast between the singing and the arrangements really make it all shine.  In short, I loved it! And with songs of around 3 to 4 minutes it is also suited for radio and more casual listeners.

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Fireflight, Now, 2012

fireflight - nowAs Fireflight are a band seldom heard of in my part of the world, I figured I bring them to your attention here. I understand earlier albums are more in a (progressive) hard rock vein, but Now is mainly an alternative rock type of album. Think of somewhere between Biffy Clyro, Red, Muse and Skillet. With female vocals (and male sometimes).

So yes, the guitars are heavy and the alternative touches stem from the use of keyboards and sequencers and the trading of lead and harmony vocals. Lead singer Dawn Michele has a very pleasant voice and is able to carry the tunes with ease. Because the dynamics in a track like Escape, it is not hard to imagine this band rocking hard to extended songs. Since this is my first encounter with Fireflight, I have no preconceived idea of what to expect. I like this. It has balls, it has melodies and a ballad type song like He Weeps is plain beautiful.

So I for one am surely trying to track down older material. And as it seems a new album is in the works, there is more to look forward to. Oh, and finally a band that puts all their web presence on the back cover. Man, don´t ask how many keep you in the dark about that…

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Skillet, Rise, 2013

Skillet - RiseAnd here we have another première. For me that is, as Skillet already have a bunch of records out. This quartet has a not so common configuration for a band, 2 ladies and 2 gents. And don´t be shy, they sound nothing like ABBA 🙂 . In fact, all of them play an instrument and with a female and a male singer amongst them, variety is key.

Labelled as alternative rock because of the programming that is often present, this could easily be a modern rock outfit. The guitars are present but never overpower the song or the singing. All in all it is actually very melodic, with lot´s of light and dark in the arrangements. The singing is very good, especially when both voices combine or interact. Very powerful.
Music like this should easily find a home on the radio so more people would become aware of them. Or maybe they are, as I never listen to radio. Sometimes I got to think of Gothic, because of the orchestral sounding additions, violins and so on. But I am a sucker for that, as I feel it combines with metallic guitars big time. Anyway, a great album, and a reason to go looking for some other albums by them. Oh, some refer to this as a Christian band but don´t let that turn you away, they are simply bigger than that!

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T.A.G., Swallow Your Modesty, 2011

t.a.g. - swallow your modestySo, this is the first CD from T.A.G., formerly The Alter Glow? That maybe the case, but I am sure that under the name V-Male they already released an album in 2004 (called W.H.A.T.) So not starters at all. Also a very experienced live crew, with gigs all over Europe. That is obvious from every aspect: the sound (courtesy of famed producer Oscar Holleman), promotion by Rock Inc. , to the artwork, songs, arrangements and instrument handling. They look and sound comfortable.

Still, it took me a couple of spins to get into the album. Maybe because I have been on a progressive run lately, and this is quite a different animal. They claim to be influenced by the likes of P.O.D., Foo Fighters, Alter Bridge, 30 Seconds To Mars and Fall Out Boy. Well, no happy punk rock, a little rap metal (Guano Apes?), some alternative touches (which reminded me more of Rage Against The Machine´s Tom Morello actually). Metal for sure. And female singer Sandra has a pleasant voice and creates nice and interesting harmonies all around.

From the biography I understand they claim to have a unique and individual sound. And while I do think they are a very competent band with all the tools to deliver their music well, I think their claim at being unique is a bit off the mark. And you know what, I don´t even think that is a problem, as I am confident that anyone into the mentioned bands, will find something to his liking within this band. No doubt on quality here, so check them out.

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