Review: Two Years Later’s ‘Dropping Anchor’

Columbus, Ohio’s Two Years Later (@2YLBand) is an alternative pop-punk rock quintet formed in 2013 by principal members drummer Zak Toth and singer/guitarist Jamie Rogers. The duo recruited bassist Mike Johnson and guitarists Chandler Eggleston and Mike Leibrand to fill out the lineup. Two weeks ago, the group made their second album Dropping Anchor available to select fans and on February 20 was released it to online outlets. The official release occurs this Saturday, March 5 at north Columbus’ Spacebar with physical copies available to the public. Given the record’s craftsmanship from top to bottom including Mark Abrams’ mastering and Matt Hagberg’s engineering, the band is ready for the record as well as themselves to go viral. After 20 minutes of taking in Dropping Anchor, the group proves they have the style and substance to succeed.

The EP’s first track, ‘Learn to Let Go’ displays Rogers’ sharp vocals and Toth’s solid drumming skills. The tune is pure pop-punk greatness with fine work from all guitarists. With Rogers as the band’s sole songwriter, listeners will hear songs grounded in a reality that is not all rainbows and unicorns. If one fancies Rogers’ voice on the first song, they will be blown away with what she serves up on ‘You Win’. The song is about the dilemma to sacrifice and concede, even if those are not the ideal things to do. The guitar work is actually more solid here than on the previous tune and each player comes together to concoct a rock radio dark horse.

Dropping Anchor’s third song ‘Pieces’ is pure awesomeness from the arrangement to the lyrics to the musicianship. The theme here deals with experiencing heartache, but ultimately dusting oneself off and moving forward. ‘More Than This’ holds its own on the record as a fantastic song with a fine message put to a wonderful melody. Young people’s empowerment, especially for females, is important in today’s society with the rise of bullying and shaming prevalent due to never-ending technological connections. Whether intentional or not, Rogers has created the next Saturday morning PSA.

Lastly, Dropping Anchor features the surefire rock radio staple ‘Stay with Me’. By far and away, this gem is Two Years Later’s best chance to lead them on the road to fame. #Road2Fame happens to be the group’s first (and already out-of-print) EP from 2014 that lives on in cyberspace. Although consumers will likely compare Rogers to Paramore’s leader Hayley Williams, on this song she comes off closer to highly regarded rock goddess Lizzy Hale.  Johnson’s bass work is spectacular here and Leibrand and Eggleston’s guitar play is on point with everyone else. Toth’s excellence behind the kit is noticeable here and stands out in the final 30 seconds.

Dropping Anchor is a very personal record and all should be grateful Two Years Later and especially Rogers have invited us in to experience it. To promote the EP, the band is taking to the road with stops in Louisville, Charlotte, Cincinnati, and beyond. This band is onto something huge and alternative music lovers will want to join the wild ride.

*Photo by Matt Hamilton is courtesy of the band’s official website

Artist to Watch: The Shapers

Paris trio The Shapers (@theshapers) look to be in good shape for a major run in 2014. Guitarist/vocalist Anthony, drummer Benoit, and Raphael on bass keep the old school punk movement alive while placing their own flair on tunes inspired by Green Day, Rancid, and the like. In this day and age of emo, electronica, and poppy rock raiding the airwaves, The Shapers are exactly what mainstream radio need to bring a sense of diversity back to the music scene. Then again, what makes The Shapers’ music great is that the many of the punk genre’s artists, for the most part, are disinterested in playing the mainstream music games and politics.

The Shapers were founded in 2009 and three years later released the full-length Everybody Needs to Have a Dream. This is a record that critic Katie Burkhart holds in high regard by saying, “This 13-track album has the upbeat, hair down, riding in your convertible sound, and as for you fella’s, your mustaches are free to fly in the wind too.” With tunes like “Cherry Bomb”, “Girls I know”, and the track featured in the above video, this unsigned tandem could see themselves with a deal. That is, if record labels have the guts to go against the grain and buck current trends. Good music is hard to find sometimes and with a talented threesome like these guys, they are on the verge of something huge with the right resources available to them.

France is known for acts like The Rasmus, M83, Phoenix, and Daft Punk. It is safe to say The Shapers sound nothing like those acts. Standing out is in the spirit of punk rock and this group is doing its part by zagging when others are zigging. They are the #1 band in their genre in their native France, per ReverbNation. Catch up with the group online at Spotify, iTunes, and the like to find out this artist on the rise is all about.

Texas Trio’s Unique Spin On An Xmas Classic

Houston’s My Only Escape (@MyOnlyEscape1) has a good look and great sounding original tunes. Keep an ear out for the Simple Plan-esque “Falling For You”, which has hit all over it. With that said, however, in the spirit of the holiday season the video for the popular “Jingle Bells” is worth a look and listen as we are are a week away from Christmas. It’s a clever spin on the track with a nice little storyline involved.

My Only Escape consists of Branden Mendoza on vocals, drummer Vaughan Heppe, and Conor Kearns on guitar bringing powerful punk pop to the masses. Being in a major market definitely helps garner attention and Houston’s been a hotbed for popular acts such as Blue October, Fenix TX, ZZ Top, and even Beyonce. May this group of talented and handsome gentlemen make the most of the opportunity afforded them. Mendoza is the mastermind of the band, as he has penned over 100 songs and was part of a tour sponsored by Disney. This is the machine responsible for launching successful musicians such as Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Bridgit Mendler, among others. If it is not with Hollywood Records, bet on My Only Escape having a record deal in the future. If their Christmas cover and “Falling For You” go viral, it may happen sooner than later.

“Falling For You” is available at online outlets like iTunes, ReverbNation and the band’s website and is already making a splash on Australian radio. Aussies know their music, given their exports AC/DC, DiVinyls, Powderfinger, Boom Crash Opera, and the like. Music lovers in the Texas area have one last chance to check them out this year at Six Flags in Arlington this Friday 12/20. The group prides itself on its live shows, so it seems like it is well worth it to see what they bring to the stage.