Review: Two Years Later’s ‘Say It To My Face’

Columbus, Ohio’s alternative rock act Two Years Later (@2YLBand) ambitiously released two records in 2016 with the latest (and third overall) being Say it to My Face. As evidenced by the title, the record is themed as a revenge record with songwriter/lead vocalist/guitarist Jamie Rogers exacting payback against those who wronged her by way of melodic pop-punk music and a few ballads mixed in. In turn, these tunes can be relatable to others who have experienced similar dilemmas and seek healing, which they can also get through Rogers’ creative venting. Fans are forewarned that although disappointing relationships and/or life experiences are the norm on the album, one-third of the tracks is a departure of what they have heard on prior albums.

The title track is a brilliant clap-along 40-second intro to the album that takes one right to “#sorrynotsorry”, which was featured on the band’s first record. With its solid guitar and drum work, it is a rock anthem would fit right in on Alternative radio stations’ playlists. “That’s Not Ladylike” calls out the contradiction of women’s current beauty standards and Rogers’ vocals are on fire as she awesomely rants about the hypocrisy within mainstream and social media.

Say it to My Face’s fourth track, “Linger”, is different from Two Years Later’s trademark sound as it is reminiscent of the Santana and Michelle Branch collaboration “The Game of Love” sped up a tad. The song is one to salsa to and has potential to be a crossover hit across multiple formats. “Tonight, Tonight” is a standard part of Two Years Later’s playbook with sheer brilliance on guitar from Chandler Eggleston (also the tune’s co-writer), banging on-point drumming out of the group’s co-founder Zak Toth, and bombastic bass work and backing vocals by Mike Johnson. It is one of the album’s headbangers, making it a crowd favorite at live shows.

Yet another popular song at concerts that made the album is the call-out “Let Me Down Easy”, in which Rogers expresses self-depreciation for falling for false charms all the while chastising the culprit for his cons. Those not familiar with Two Years Later’s work should be warned that although Rogers writes and performs PG songs, this one contains strong adult language. Without approval of a radio edit, the song will not see the light of day on terrestrial radio stations. It makes those who love it obligated to hear it by attending a show or buying the album, but that is only a benefit to Two Years Later’s economic success.

An atypical track from Two Years Later, “California is Calling” slows the album back down as the ballad explores escaping a bad experience through an entire change of scenery. It also criticizes the antagonist’s actions and insufficient compensation attempts as the protagonist moves on with her life. Formerly a concert exclusive, “Never What You Wanted” is on millennials’ soundtracks as it deals with monkey wrenches getting in the way of society’s life manifests. The final tune on Say it to My Face is “Lullaby of Bitter Things”, which showcases Rogers’ vocals with some wicked ukulele playing. If the group wishes to take a huge risk, they can release it as a single and see it soar up the Adult Contemporary chart gaining them even more fans.

The band is on indefinite hiatus from touring and recording as for the time being, principal songwriter and lead singer Rogers is focusing on electronic/acoustic side project Kitty Pause. Thus, casual and diehard fans need to stay interested in the group’s work as it may encourage a reunion sooner versus later.  Much like Say it to My Face, when Two Years Later does return they will come back with a vengeance.

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Artist To Watch: The Last City

@thelastcityband  is an American pop duo who now call Hiroshima, Japan home. Musical and life partners Adam and Lizbet Palmer began their pairings in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Columbia is also the origin of legendary quartet Hootie & The Blowfish. The Palmers are fluent with multiple instruments and take pride in the DIY-approach to their music videos and their original tunes. If they continue to crank out quality sounds, The Last City will not be without some kind of record deal for too much longer.

The group formed two years ago and consider their brand of music to be a fusion of pop, jazz, and rock. The uplifting and catchy “Erasing the Ending” (included above) is an example of this brilliance. Although not radio friendly in length (clocking in at 5:30), The Last City are the type of band to do their own thing and not worry about the haters. If people like what they hear from them, then that is great for their brand. If it is not someone’s cup of tea, that is not going to deter the duo from writing, composing, and performing songs on their terms.

The Last City shows just how talented they are with the wide range of tunes they perform. They have their own thing going strong, however, they have quite the array of covers available at their official YouTube page. Some tracks given a new flair by the pair include “Love Runs Out”, a OneRepublic hit, and Marc Cohn’s smash “Walking In Memphis”. From the videos, it is easy to tell the Adam and Lizbet are having a great time breathing new life into these songs.

The Last City’s main goal is to drop a proper EP in the near future. Once that occurs, the sky is the limit for the band. They already have marketable music and can clearly put their own tremendous spin on established hit tracks. It’s only a matter of time before The Last City have a hit on their own, either through movie/commercial licensing or radio airplay once that well-deserved recording contract comes.

Genre-Bending Song Should Have Made A Bigger Impact On The Charts

Ethiopian-born and American-bred Kenna released this track in 2003 and it should have have a bigger impact at that point in time. “Freetime” was a tune that was fresh, hip, and unique. The unfamiliarity may be the reason this track went widely unnoticed. It has less than a quarter-million views on YouTube, which is more than expected considering the limited success. The song reached #19 on Billboard’s Dance Chart, however, that is as far as it went. Give it a listen and check out some of Kenna’s recent work as he has a new record out. This phenomenon is worth your while.