Review: So Long, Stargazer’s ‘Look Up’

Columbus, Ohio’s So Long, Stargazer (@solongstargazer) is a young, energetic quartet consisting of Chase McCants (vocals, synthesizers), Kristin Green (vocals, keyboards), Nick Wray (drums), and Tommy Davis (guitars).  Founded two years back, the group played live to get the word out, which served as anticipation for 2016 debut LP titled Look Up. The album is unlike anything that has dropped in recent memory, making it one of the standouts on the indie music radar.

The record is the epitome of variety, featuring both McCants and Green sharing lead vocals on some tunes and then one or the other handling lead on others. Look Up comes with a late 1990/early 2000s sound to it, when radio was more diverse and bands could chart across multiple genres. The band deserves a great deal of success now, but had they released this album about 20 years ago SLS would be in the same conversation with Blessid Union of Souls, Sarah McLachlan, Keane, Anna Nalick, among others. That is great musical company to be in and they would have skyrocketed up the charts along with said acts.

For instance, the second track “Rewind” could do well on today’s Hot AC chart. The way all individual parts just melt together makes for a tasty musical grilled cheese sandwich. McCants’ canary-like vocals are on display here and blend in with Green’s keyboard work, Wray’s on-point drumming, and solid guitar play from Davis. On the other hand, carried by its vocals “Wreckage” is a spot-on tune that would fit at R&B stations. If only two minutes longer, “Drink the Sin” would slay on Hot AC or CHR Pop stations, giving SLS one of its more crossover tunes in today’s times.

Two decades ago, there was more diversity on the airwaves and that is where the bulk of Look Up would have fit like a glove. McCants, Green, Wray, and Davis should be commended for making the music they feel like making despite what industry big wigs choose to currently peddle. Here is hoping they can breakthrough and attract the attention they deserve. Even though the album is rock solid, their live events are a sight to behold and in this era of hip-hop, electronica, pop, and folk rock will be what carries them forward.

Further diversifying the album, Green gets to show off her singing chops on tracks such as “From Detroit to Toledo”, “To the Hour”, and “Weightless”. These tracks could do damage on AC and Hot AC stations with the right record company behind them. If/when either vocalist is ready to fly solo, those records are going to be in high demand on the scene.

Listeners should not let the LP being 14 tracks deter them as the different song lengths on Look Up balance out the album rather nicely. So Long, Stargazer’s musicianship is undisputed, however, due to the album’s hodgepodge and the current radio state a record company will have to work hard in marketing it. Outside of staunch metalheads, the record has just about something for everyone, which makes it appealing to fans who like multiple genres. The downside is by being so difficult to pin down to one radio format, major labels may not be up for the challenge. That would be a shame as the record is superb musically top to finish, but business is about calculated risks so it would be great for a label to step up and give these hard-working lads a chance. As far as the record goes, the listening public ought to follow suit.

 

Photo courtesy of the band’s website

Mint Leopard is Ready to Pounce

Cincinnati’s Mint Leopard (@MintLeopardOG) consider themselves a psych-jazz rock n’ roll band and based on what they have released thus far, they live up to the hybrid description. Formed earlier this summer, the quartet of lead vocalist Jaxon Hughes, drummer Justin Van Wagenen, guitarist Alex Masset, and keyboardist Ben Bob Hammer have been getting their feet wet with live shows across their hometown and surrounding areas. They recently released the single “Progress in the Evenin’” and even created a music video for the track. Based on first impressions alone, the foursome should have a bright future ahead of them.

The video, directed by Hughes, was conceptualized and executed with sheer brilliance. Based on its premise and production, it would fit right in with the playlist of The Cool TV and MTV2’s 120 Minutes, when the latter network still aired the program. Released this past July, the video is primarily set in the desert, with three guys in business casual outfits searching for Hughes. The song is a melting pot of pop-rock psychedelic greatness that crosses over multiple decades. It would fit like a glove on playlists in the 1970s and 80s. With several acts in the 2000s inspired by music from 30 to 40 years ago, the track is just as relevant today as it would have been back then. Hughes’ harmonic vocals gel perfectly with the slick guitar and synthesizer work of Masset and Hammer. Van Wagenen’s drum work caps off “Progress in the Evenin’” giving the listener approximately four and a half minutes of a non-stop jam session.

Mint Leopard is seeking to expand its horizons beyond being their local territory and they are well on their way in doing so. The group looks to tackle Ohio’s capital, known for its diverse and embracing music scene. Cincinnati has produced good talent across different genres such as 98 Degrees, Pay The Girl, and Motherfolk. With upbeat on-your-feet tunes in their arsenal, Mint Leopard has an excellent chance to succeed anywhere.

*Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook page

Artist Showcase: Truslow (presented by DX Entertainment)

TRUSLOW 2

Truslow (@TruslowMusic) is an American quartet based in Columbus, OH. The band consists of lead vocalist James Truslow, bassist Andrew Lee, guitarist Sean Mackowski, and drummer Matt Myers. The group is among the fastest rising in their vicinity with nearly 2000 fans on Facebook and a slot as part of the much-hyped Fashion Meets Music Festival. The Labor Day weekend-long event faced controversy when then-headliner R. Kelly was met with backlash and he was ultimately fired from performing.  Given the fanfare of the entire festival, expectations will be high for all artists involved.  Based on what’s been heard from Truslow, these guys will bring their best to the stage on Friday, August 29.

For any independent artist, publicity is extremely important.  Having near 3000 fans spread out among multiple social media sites for a local band is commendable.  This band is young and the sky’s the limit for them.  From what’s been heard on their new EP Hurricane thus far. this group should have a record deal and score Top 40 hits sooner versus later. “ADHD” is already scoring airplay on Radio U, which is a station based locally but reaches a nationwide audience.  New Albany’s New Hollow managed to score a hit this year and hopefully Truslow will follow suit. “ADHD” is poppy with enough of a rock crunch to fit in with the likes of New Hollow, 5 Seconds of Summer and R5. The title track to Hurricane starts off like a ballad, but picks up the pace. It is a track that shows the versatility of the band. James Truslow’s voice is going to make the ladies swoon. This Friday is sure to be a fun evening for those who attend the group’s set at the Fashion Meets Music Festival.

In two months, Truslow will be on a bill for DX Entertainment’s first ever show with their set sandwiched between headliner They’re Coming They’re Coming and opener Something Keen.  This will occur at King Avenue 5 (approximately two miles from Ohio Stadium) in Columbus, OH on Friday, October 17. Admission is $5.00 at the door and it is a solid lineup from top to bottom.  For those who live in the area, there is no excuse not to come and see these artists play.  To get a taste of what Truslow has to offer, please check out the lyric video for their new single “ADHD” below.  You’re welcome.

Artist Showcase: Waking Jordan

@WakingJordan is an American quartet consisting of Kelly Potter, Kaleb Aaron, Steven Kent, and Trent Koritansky. The Boise-based band formed in 2011 and is building quite a nice social media fan base.  Word is they put on a really good live show, so the more gigs they play the larger the word of mouth will be, hence increasing the turnout each show.  They are building attention with music lovers, but it is now time for record company Executives to take note as this group is the real deal. The band has release two records without major label help, but with their talent if they had that kind of support they would definitely live up to the hype.

Waking Jordan is obviously serious about delivering solid tunes with crisp production.  Off of their 2013 release Here or There, “Mr. Right” and “Bury Me” pure pop bliss reminiscent of another DIY band with a grassroots following. Think of the Idaho four-piece as the Red Wanting Blue of the Northwest. The song featured in the video above is ready for the Top 40 charts and allows singer Kelly Potter to demonstrate some Macklemore-like skills.  This song deserves to reach a worldwide audience and licensing in motion pictures and television programs should not be out of the question if the circumstances are right.

The group is all about the music, but they also have hearts.  On ReverbNation, the band has partnered with Love Hope Strength to donate a portion of their download revenue. The Temporary Home Foundation is another non-profit organization Waking Jordan is involved with. This is a charity that provides housing and self-improvement opportunities for 18-23 year-olds after they have outgrown the foster care system. It would be excellent for the band to have a chance to make enough revenue to not only tour, make more records, but to provide a fraction of their proceeds to their charities on an ongoing basis.

The group is well on its way to going places, literally and figuratively.  They have sponsors for their upcoming tour and their next listed gig is on Halloween and then they embark on playing several gigs on the west coast in November.  Waking Jordan is showing that they are doing all the right things, but it is time for big wigs to take notice and give this foursome the international stage they deserve.  Those who love quality music should be hearing things from Waking Jordan for years to come.

Drop The Anchor Dropping a New EP

Drop The Anchor (@droptheanchorin) is an American quartet calling Indianapolis home. The group formed in 2011 and currently consist of vocalist Mark Lane, bassist Eddie Rector, drummer Bryan Davies, and guitarist Harold Navarrete. In the band’s short existence, they have released a Christmas-themed song “The December I Won’t Remember” and a 2012 EP titled In a Way, It’s Everything. 

 

Drop The Anchor has the most recent album’s tunes available at their official YouTube page. The standout tracks from the record include “Go Hard Or Go Home”, “Casino Destroyale”, and “Actions.” They are definitely reminiscent of popular artists All Time Low and A Day To Remember, two groups that inspire the Indiana foursome.  The band was fortunate enough to have the record released through Stand Firm Records. 

 

Also at their YouTube page is a lyric video for “Loose Lips Sink Ships”, which is a tune off of a forthcoming EP due out next month. If this song goes viral, it can lead to some big things for the group. If the rest of the album sounds anything like the new track, it should take off. Having thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook certainly helps.  The second half of the year and beyond should be great for this energetic and talented band.  

 

*Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook page; taken by Easter Daily Photography

 

LoveSick Radio Should Be On the Radio

LoveSick Radio (@lovesickradio) is a Las Vegas-based quartet that originated in Columbus, OH in 2006. The group’s co-founders are vocalist Justin Theriault and guitarist David Harris. Harris is a veteran of the Ohio rock scene as a former member of bands Pay The Girl and Frickin’ A. Both of those bands had some success and together, Harris and Theriault hope to make LoveSick Radio even more successful. The group has succeeded in terms of longevity, but the mission is far from over.

Rounding out the four-piece act are drummer Scott McCann and Josh Masters on bass. They paid their dues as a regional act in Ohio for several years before electing to expand their brand by heading out west. Despite being without a record deal, LSR have shared stages with highly regarded acts like Bon Jovi, The Fray, Kid Rock, among others. The group continues to put themselves out there by playing as many festivals as possible. This is smart because it allows them to play not only in front of music fans, but VIPs in the business such as tour managers for high-profile musicians and established artists themselves. LoveSick Radio are not only great musicians, but fine Americans as they have been a part of gigs for the U.S. Armed Forces overseas.

LSR received minimal radio play with the track “Boys Don’t Matter” and it peaked within the Pop Top 50, a great feat for a band without a proper record deal. LoveSick Radio, should have a deal by now and the tune “Numb Me Up” is well deserving of peaking within the Top 40 of both the Alternative and Pop charts. The group is definitely on the right track to join other bands formed in Columbus such as Howlin’ Maggie and Saving Jane and score in the Top 40. Based on their track record, 2014 should be a huge year for the quartet to make that happen.

Revised Review of Reva’s “Landslide”

Reva

 

English quartet Reva (@wearereva) recently sent out their latest single “Landslide” in advance to a select crop of individuals. The band had released a ‘raw’ version several weeks back, however, the newer version is different in several ways. That is not necessarily a bad thing as the group prepares to release it to the masses this Thursday (15 May).

 

The original recorded version clocked in at over four minutes while the version fans will get to hear soon comes in slightly under three. The group is currently without a record deal and although they are doing fine without one, they know the game and want to play it well. It pays to have a radio-friendly single that is long enough to have substance but will not lose those listeners in this day and age of shorter attention spans.  This was a change that the band felt was necessary if they are going to progress as a recording artist.

 

One thing Reva fans and soon-to-be converts will notice about “Landslide” is how notable the drums are on the track. From beginning to end, the work behind the kit is clear and distinct. This is another point the group clearly wanted to tweak to make the track stand out. There is a lot more clarity with the guitars, making it quite splendid. Overall, the newly mixed version loses its garage feel, but this is a sacrifice for the greater good as Reva is clearly thinking about their musical futures and putting out what they want and how they want.

 

Reva has scored with “Landslide” and if there is justice, it will go viral and earn the group a well-deserved recording contract that will lead to more live shows across the globe. The single is old school alternative that will remind listeners of the great days of Oasis and Kula Shaker’s dominance on rock radio stations. In a little over a day, music enthusiasts will have a chance to hear the greatness for themselves.

 

*Photo courtesy of the group’s Facebook page