Mark Morton Shines Again On His Second Solo Record

Courtesy: Rise Records

When Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton released his debut solo album Anasthetic last March through Spinefarm Records, he more than showed the expanse of his musical abilities and interests.  The record, which joined Morton with a number of well-known names, such as the late Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington, Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy and ex Screaming Trees front man Mark Lanegan, showed Morton as a truly original and creative musician, not just one of the members of Lamb of God.  He followed up that successful offering this past January with his debut solo EP Ether.  The five-song EP, released through Rise Records, will get a second life of sorts June 19 when it is released on vinyl through Rise Records.  Regardless of whether one prefers vinyl, CD or even digital, the fact of the matter remains that Ether is a positive follow-up to Anasthetic.  That is due to the record’s musical and lyrical content.  Its penultimate song ‘Love My Enemy’ is one of the songs that serves to support the noted statement.  It will be addressed shortly.  The EP’s opener ‘All I Had to Lose’ is another way in which Ether shows its strength.  It will be addressed a little later.  Its follow-up ‘The Fight’ is one more way in which Ether shows its strength.  Together with the covers of The Black Crowes’ ‘She Talks To Angels’ and of Pearl Jam’s ‘Black,’ ‘The Fight’ and the other noted songs make Ether a wholly enjoyable follow-up to Anasthetic and one more of this year’s top new EPs.

Mark Morton’s debut EP Ether is a strong follow-up to his debut 2019 album Anasthetic.  Much with that album, this EP shows once again why he is more than just a member of Lamb of God, but rather a talented, creative musician in his own right.  That is evidenced in part through the EP’s penultimate song, ‘Love My Enemy.’  The song, which features vocals by Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed, Light The Torch), presents an interesting musical arrangement.  The verses conjure thoughts of Alice in Chains, what with the layered vocal effect and the subdued guitar and drum lines.  The chorus however, boasts more of an Alter Bridge type of sound as the guitars and vocals step up.  The song’s bass line adds its own touch to the whole to make the work’s composition quite engaging and entertaining in its own right.  What is important to note here is the pairing of that duality in the song’s arrangement and its connection to the emotion and message in the song’s lyrical theme.  The song’s lyrical theme serves to make that reason for that juxtaposition clear.

Jones sings in the song’s lead verse, “Open wounds before the start/This is where we fall apart/It’s alright/Eternity can die today/It’s alright/It’s okay.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “We can greet the end alone/Sorrow needs an empty home/It’s alright/Years and pain can fade away/It’s alright/It’s okay.”  In the song’s third and final verse, “Jones sings, “There’s no replacing/The time we’re wasting.”  These verses are deeply introspective, needless to say.  That final verse is relatively clear, as it makes a statement about making the most of the time that we have.  The first and second verses meanwhile will generate their own hare of interest.  Maybe the lead statement of “open wounds before the start/This is where we fall apart” is a statement connected to the note of the wasted time.  It’s as if it is making a note about open wounds being a failure from the beginning.  The statement in the second verse years and pain being able to fade away seems to perhaps be a statement of hope, that the past can be just that.  This is of course all this critic’s own interpretation.  The song’s chorus adds even more impact to the song, as it comes across as perhaps someone battling with him/herself.  The chorus states, “I can’t live on memories/I can’ love my enemy/We cannot repair the past/A broken heart is made of glass/No, I can’t live on memories.”  This seems like someone who is torn with trying to overcome the thoughts of the past and look to the future.  It would explain why the song’s musical arrangement is so much more powerful in the chorus than the verses.  It would serve to illustrate the subject’s heightened emotion in this moment.  This leads the song’s more contemplative counter to those heightened emotions to make more sense along with its musical accompaniment.  Again this is all this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel.  Hopefully it is somewhere close to being correct, though.  Keeping all of this in mind, the song’s lyrical content proves just as important as its musical content.  All things considered, the song in whole, with its engaging musical and lyrical content shows well on its own, why Ether is another strong offering from Mark Morton.  It is just one of the songs that serves to exhibit that strength.  ‘All I Had to Lose’ does its own part to keep listeners’ ears and minds.

‘All I Had to Lose’ is important to note because it presents its own unique identity separate from that of ‘Love My Enemy’ and the EP’s other songs.  The song’s fully acoustic arrangement is a radio ready composition that will connect easily to audiences.  The addition of Sons of Texas front man Mark Morales’ vocal delivery adds to that commercial viability for the opus.  The combination of those elements makes the song in whole a work that is comparable to works from so many mainstream rock bands.  The appeal created through the song’s musical arrangement will keep listeners engaged, and in turn, paying attention to the song’s equally engaging lyrical content.

The lyrical content featured in ‘All I Had to Lose’ generates its own engagement because of its own contemplative nature.  Morales sings in the song’s lead verse, “We were reckless for a season, now/Restless with a reason/I can’t tell/If we were victims of the vices/Or addicted to the crisis/Lived through hell.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “We laid with it/Dead and dying/Told ‘em all we were just trying/To be alive/Closed our eyes/I know that we could leave/The lies we didn’t want to leave behind.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Watched the colors fade away/Reached out by the sun/left her for another day/Prayed it would never come.”  The precise concept here is not clear at least to this critic.  It comes across as something of a statement about perhaps someone taking things for granted in life.  Whether that is in relation to a personal relationship or something else is up for discussion.  It would be interesting to learn the exact relation of that seeming message.  That Morales sings in the song’s chorus, “And when you came up for breath/I knew there wasn’t nothing left to do but choose/And everything I lost/Wasn’t much compared to all I had to lose” adds to the argument that the song’s lyrical theme is a personal message about taking for granted what one has in life.  Again, what exactly was being taken for granted – whether it be a personal relationship or something else – is something that is left for interpretation.  Either way, the fact that this seems to be the message makes the song’s musical content couple well with this half of the song’s content.  Taking everything noted here into account, the whole of the song shows even more why Ether will keep listeners engaged from start to end.  It is just one more way in which Ether proves its appeal.  ‘The Fight’ is one more way in which the EP shows its strength.

‘The Fight’ is an interesting addition to Ether.  That is due in part to its overall musical arrangement.  This composition is so starkly opposite of any of the other songs featured in this record.  The verses are distinctly subtle, but not necessarily reserved per say.  There is a certain Sevendust-esque sense to the song from the band’s more recent works, in listening closely to the arrangement.  The chorus meanwhile pack a little bit more of a punch, but it’s not a knockout punch.  Even in this case, there is a certain amount of control.  It makes for a very interesting listen.  It is not necessarily a radio ready work, but still is worth hearing.  That unique arrangement couples well with the song’s equally engaging lyrical theme, which comes across as one of those songs about someone driving along and having enough time to contemplate a lot of life matters.

Moontooth front man John Carbone provides the vocals for this song.  His vocal delivery is comparable to that of Sevendust front man Lajon Witherspoon as he sings in the song’s lead verse, “Thundering down the cold, dark desert road/It ain’t the miles you’re looking at/Ain’t the pavement you see/But its ghost/And all the trials that lay ahead/Yeah, it becomes your only friend.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Rumbling ground/It shakes from the load/the burden that you live to bear/Deafening sound, it rings in your soul/Make you forget what brought you here/Now the ending ain’t so clear.”  While the song’s musical arrangement doesn’t quite do so, this portion of the song leaves one making comparisons to Bob Seger’s hit song ‘Turn The Page.’  It seems to have that same kind of lyrical approach; someone on the road, lots of thoughts on the mind, etc. etc. etc.  It is an interesting sort of update, although it likely was not intended.  The comparison is strengthened even more as Carbone sings in the song’s chorus, “When you live for the fight for too long/You burn for the bloody way out/But the only hope for a victory/Is to learn to lay it down.”  It’s as if he is saying, even with all the thinking and things on a person’s mind, a person may want a certain outcome, but the outcome we want may not always be the best outcome.  Again, this is all this critic’s interpretation.   Hopefully it is in the proverbial ballpark.  That aside, all of this is sure to generate its own share of discussion among listeners.  Together with its accompanying musical content, the engagement and entertainment ensured through the song’s musical and lyrical content shows once more why Ether succeeds overall.  Together with the two covers that join this work and the EP’s two other originals, the record overall proves itself to be a complete work and a complete success for Morton and company.

Mark Morton’s recently released EP Ether is a strong follow-up to his debut solo album Anasthetic (2019).  That is because it continues to exhibit Morton’s talents as more than just another metal guitarist, but a widely-versed musician and songwriter.  That is evidenced through all three of the record’s original works and its two covers.  The musical and lyrical content in each original as well as the adaptation of the covers do well to support those statements.  All things considered, Ether can be considered in whole, to be one of this year’s top new EPs.

More information on Ether is available online now along with all of Mark Morton’s latest news and more at:










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‘Live In Carthage’ Is A Positive Start For Myrath’s Live Catalog

Courtesy: earMusic

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has all but decimated the live music this year.  Stages the world over have gone dark and silent out of an overabundance of caution among promoters and bands alike.  As a result, audiences have been scrambling, looking for live content anywhere they can find it, whether online or otherwise.  Progressive metal outfit Myrath, ironically, released its debut live recording Live in Carthage right around the time that the outbreak really started impacting the United States.  The band’s first live offering is a presentation that fans of the noted genre will appreciate whether waiting for the return of live music on stage or just in general.  That is due in part to the concert’s set list, which will be addressed shortly.  The performance of that set list by the band adds to the recording’s presentation and will be addressed a little later.  The concert’s production and mixing put the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the recording’s whole.  All things considered, they make Live in Carthage an impressive live debut from Myrath and a work that is one of this year’s top new live recordings.

Myrath’s debut live recording Live in Carthage is a strong offering from the progressive metal outfit.  That is proven in part through the recording’s set list.  The 17-song set runs just over 90-minutes in length.  While not a career-defining performance, the record still is deserving of its own credit.  It pulls largely from the band’s 2016 album Legacy – a total of seven songs from that album (more than half the album) are featured in the set list) – while four songs from the band’s then forthcoming album Shehili are featured in the set.  The band does not limit its set to those two albums.  Its 2011 album Tales of the Sands is also represented here with five songs from that record.  That is approximately half of that record.  Given, the band’s first three albums – Double Face, Hope, and Desert Call – are not represented here, but considering that at the time of the concert – held allegedly in 2018 at a hometown show of sorts at the Ancient Roman Theater in Carthage, Tunisia – the band was touring mainly in support of Legacy and Shehili, the group can be forgiven for not including nods to those aforementioned records.  Hopefully the band will present a much deeper dive into its catalog in its next live recording, keeping this in mind.  This aside, the fact that audiences get more than half of one of the band’s albums, almost half of another and even a small sampling of yet another ,that in itself is a good start and in itself, makes the recording worth experiencing.  This element is just one of the notable aspects of Myrath’s debut live recording.  The band’s performance of the set list adds to its engagement and enjoyment.

Myrath’s performance of its concert at the Ancient Roman Theater in Carthage, Tunisia is important to note because of the energy in the performance.  As noted, the set list is not career-defining, but at the same time, the songs chosen for the concert are all very high-energy compositions.  Even in the brief moments when the energy does pull back, in the opening bars of some of the featured songs, that pullback is short-lived.  The band members’ performances add to the energy even  more, as is evidenced in part by front man Zaher Zorgati’s commanding presence as he makes his way across the stage.  He engages the audience throughout, getting the most out of the crowd.  Meanwhile drummer Morgan Berthet seems so laid back even as he works through each song with such precision and power.  That contrast of his seeming so relaxed while he performed makes for its own statement.  Meanwhile, the nonstop energy exuded by keyboardist Elyes Bouchoucha, guitarist Malek Ben Arbia and bassist Anis Jouini adds its own impact to the performance.  The group’s performance does the talking for the group, as Zorgati uses only the briefest moments between songs to talk with the audience and introduce most of the set’s songs.  This is where the band’s performance presents its only negative.  Zorgati speaks wholly in French in those moments, in which he, his band mates and the audience collect their breath.  Now we, as Americans get an idea of how overseas fans of our American bands must feel when they experience their shows across the Atlantic and Pacific.  The thing is that Zorgati sings the songs in English, so why sing in one language and speak in another?  That aside, the band’s performance ensures audiences’ engagement and enjoyment from beginning to end of this performance by keeping the energy high and by not wasting too much time between songs on banter. Instead the band lets the music and performance do the talking.  Keeping all of this in mind, the performance put on by the members of Myrath really serves as the foundation for this recording’s presentation.  Together with the set list, the recording’s appeal becomes even more so.  To that end, audiences see even more why Live in Carthage may not be a perfect live debut for Myrath, but at the same time, why it is still a good first live outing for the group.

As much as the set list featured in Live in Carthage and the performance thereof does for this recording’s presentation, they are just two of its most notable items.  The concert’s collective production and mixing put the finishing touch to the recording’s presentation.  The footage itself adds so much to the viewing experience, as the angles, shots and transitions play right alongside with the energy of each composition and performance.  The shots last just long enough and present angles that heighten and translate well, the energy and emotion in each song.  The audio production and mix are deserving of their own share of credit, too.  Zorgati’s vocals are well-balanced with the work of his fellow band mates.  Their own work is well-balanced among themselves, too.  The whole of the group’s sound creates a powerful impact all its own for the concert.  Together with the video production and mixing (and post production editing), the overall experience that audiences get in viewing this concert becomes that much more engaging and entertaining.  Taking all of this into account, the production, mixing and editing that went into the final product puts the finishing touch to this presentation and makes it that much more appealing.  When this aspect of Live in Carthage is considered along with the recording’s overall content, the whole of the concert becomes a presentation that is a good live start for Myrath that leaves room for growth in the band’s next live recording.

Myrath’s debut live recording Live in Carthage is a good first effort from the band, in terms of live recordings.  That is thanks in part to its set list, which despite focusing more on the band’s more recent albums, still gives audiences a rich picture of those records.  The band’s performance of said set list adds more strength to the recording’s presentation.  The recording’s collective production, mixing and editing put the final touch to the presentation.  Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered, they make Live in Carthage a good way to get one’s live fix while we all wait for a vaccine to be found for COVID-19 and concerts to return.  It is also a good first effort from the band that shows hope for growth on the band’s next live recording.  Live in Carthage is available now on CD/DVD combo pack.  More information on the recording is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:








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‘Balance’ Shows Promise For Growth For Breathing Theory

Courtesy: Industrialust/Inner Force Productions

The COVID-19 outbreak has done quite a bit of damage to the live music industry this year.  Many of the concerts and tours scheduled to take place this year have either been postponed until later this year or until as far off as next summer.  That emptiness has left audiences looking everywhere that they can for live music.  For all of the attrition caused by the virus’ outbreak, one festival has not been impacted.  That festival is the Blue Ridge Rock Festival.  Scheduled to take place Sept. 18-20 in Appomattox, VA, the three-day festival already has among its confirmed acts, bands, such as Sevendust, Drowning Pool, Clutch, and Ice Nine Kills.  Also confirmed May 1 for the festival is the independent hard rock band Breathing Theory, which released its latest album Balance January 22 through Industrialust/Inner Force Productions.  The nine-song album – its edbut album and fourth overall studio recording — clocks in at just over 36 minutes in length.  The record’s musical arrangements will find appeal among a wide range of listeners.  They will be discussed shortly.  Its lyrical themes will find an equally far-reaching appeal, if not even more than that of the musical arrangements.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  All three noted elements are key in their own way to the whole of this latest offering from Breathing Theory.  All things considered, they make Balance a work that makes the album a noteworthy offering from the band and that could help further establish the band’s place in the rock community.

Breathing Theory’s recently release album Balance is a well-titled work from the up-and-coming hard rock group.  That is because it does in fact exhibit a good balance of musical and lyrical content over the course of its nearly 40-minute run time.  The record’s musical arrangements will appeal to a wide range of listeners in themselves.  Specifically speaking, it will appeal to fans of bands, such as Bullet For My Valentine, Atreyu and Memphis May Fire.  Such comparisons are made through the examination of front man Cory Britt’s vocal delivery in each song and the work of his band mates – Rob Maloney (guitar), Collin Morrison (guitar, vocals), Joey Bivo (bass) and kegan King (drums).  The album’s opener ‘Dead Cold Beautiful’ is easily likened to works from Memphis May Fire through the noted vocals and instrumentation.  Britt’s screams are countered through the clean vocals from Morrison and company while the guitars and drums present a melodic hard rock sound.  The fire in the arrangement’s instrumentation does well to accompany the song’s lyrical theme, which will be addressed a little later.

‘Waiting For A Fall’ is another example of what makes this record’s musical arrangements so important to discuss.  This song presents its own emocore type sound through its instrumentation and vocals.  Unlike the album’s opener, this arrangement is much more melodic and flowing.  It doesn’t have the heaviness of that song, in simpler terms.  Even more interesting of note is the acoustic take of this song, which is founded in a flowing piano line.  That arrangement boasts even more heaviness in its simplicity, especially in considering it alongside the song’s equally powerful, moving lyrical content.  It will also be discussed later.  One could actually go so far as to compare the acoustic, piano-driven take of ‘Waiting For A Fall’ to works from Boysetsfire.

‘Holding On,’ the album’s third entry, presents its own…ahem…balance in its musical arrangement.  It features a bit of the band’s heavier musical elements and some of its more melodic elements.  Coupled with Britt’s own well-controlled vocal delivery, the whole of the song creates its own identity within the albums’ bigger picture.  When it is considered alongside the arrangements for ‘Waiting For A Fall,’ that of the album’s opener and the rest of the record’s songs, the whole of the album’s musical arrangement proves itself to be its own important part of the album’s whole.  It is just one of the important elements to address in examining the album.  The record’s lyrical themes are accessible for audiences in their own right.

The lyrical theme at the center of ‘Waiting For A Fall’ is a prime example of that accessibility.  The song’s lyrical theme is that of encouraging listeners to not give up in difficult times.  That is evidenced right from the song’s outset as Britt sings in the song’s lead verse, “It’s enough/Don’t give up/Don’t just let go of all you know/It gets rough/But be tough/I’ll hold you close when the winds will blow/Hold on and be strong/I feel you here/Don’t disappear/All we are/Is searching for our lives/And we all are/Much more than meets the eye.”  He adds in the song’s second verse, So you reach/Till you bleed/Just a live and breathe what you believe/Then you scream/ nothing seems/To let you be the song you sing/Keep hope/And just know/That I’m still here/When you feel fear/All we are at beacons in our souls/And we all are just waiting to be whole.”  Whether it be a time such as now, when so much is happening to break people down emotionally, or in any other time, such a message is one that will resonate with so many listeners, not just metalcore or even emocore fans.  Together with its two separate musical arrangements, the overall content shows in its own way why the album is deserving of attention.

‘Dead Cold Beautiful’ presents its own accessible lyrical theme.  This time, the theme is one of the all-too-familiar matter of the broken relationship.  This is inferred from the song’s outset in its lead verse.  Britt sings here, “You can lie to me and keep inside/I know that this is just disguised but leave it all and take the truth/I followed it/I followed you/Can we become the ones to say we are alive we can’t be changed and this is all we’ve ever known don’t take away what made us strong.  He continues, singing, “So you lied to me and you hid behind/the mask you wear/Your empty smile but did you fall while reaching too/It cut so deep/It swallowed you/How can you just throw away the life you stole/The hearts you break/And I will ever burn to rise and this is truth I thought to find.”  In the song’s third and final verse, Britt sings, “I finally woke to figure out I needed this to grow somehow/So say goodbye for what it’s worth I made it through I found rebirth somehow this time I broke away from trusting you/The games you play/But I have risked my life to feel it’s everything it makes me real.”  Simply put, this sounds like someone who has been through that bad relationship, but has grown personally from said relationship.  It reminds listeners that they can advance past their own negative situations, again, showing the accessibility of the record’s lyrical theme and the importance thereof.

As much as the noted songs do to show the importance of Balance’s lyrical themes, they are just two of the songs that serve said purpose.  ‘The Nothing’ shows that importance in its own way, too.  The song opens with Britt singing, “You’re not the only one so rise and sing along!/ Your eyes/They light the way to move the stars/Still I wonder what you are/Your soul/It cast devotions in the sun/Still I wonder what you’ve become.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “The sky/It meets horizons/Where you call the moons align and fall/Have you become so lost the oceans wait to cross” before closing the song, singing, “So don’t be so lonely/You’re not the only one searching for something you can be/We all need belonging.”  Once again, audiences get here, a song that comes across strongly as a motivational work that is meant to inspire listeners.  Considering the power of this song’s lyrical content, that of the other noted songs and that of the rest of the album’s entries, the album’s lyrical content in whole, proves without question, to be just as accessible and important as the album’s musical arrangements.  Together with the musical arrangements, the whole of the album’s content strengthens even more, the argument for taking in this album at least once.  The album’s sequencing works with its content to make it even more deserving of being heard at least once.

The very first thing to note in the overall sequencing of Balance is the contrast of its opener and closer.  ‘Dead Cold Beautiful’ opens the album in a mysterious, brooding fashion before going all out, expressing the emotions felt apparently in the breakup of a romantic relationship.  The album closes on a gentle note with the simple, piano-drive arrangement of ‘Waiting For A Fall,’ which exhibits such vulnerability through its arrangement and lyrical content.  Ironically, the song is a work that encourages people not to give up in their most difficult times.  Meanwhile, the album’s opener is its own deeply emotional work that centers on a breakup.  That is quite the contrast.  On the same note, the guitar-driven take of ‘Waiting For A Fall’ serves its own purpose, breaking up the energy in the album’s first and second half.  That division ensures even more, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  Keeping that in mind along with the contrast of the album’s opener and closer, the whole of the sequencing proves itself to be just as important as the record’s musical and lyrical content in examining its whole.  When those items are considered along with the sequencing, the album in whole proves itself to be a strong full-length debut for Breathing Theory.  In whole, they make Balance a record that is in fact well-balanced, and in turn, deserves to be heard by any hard rock aficionado.

Balance is a positive full-length debut from Breathing Theory.  It is a work that shows promise of growth for the up-and-coming independent hard rock group.  That is proven through the record’s musical arrangements, its lyrical themes and its sequencing.  Its musical and lyrical content is accessible, making it more engaging and enjoyable for audiences.  The record’s sequencing does its own share to make the record engaging and enjoyable, too.  That has all been explained here.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album truly a well-balanced record that shows promise for the band’s future.  Balance is available now.  More information on Balance is available along with all of Breathing Theory’s latest news at:









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Goo Goo Dolls Debuts ‘Fearless’ Live Clip

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records

Goo Goo Dolls is filling the void left in the live music world by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The band debuted a live performance of its latest single ‘Fearless’ Monday.  The performance was captured at the band’s performance held Nov. 8, 2019 at the Kalamazoo State Theatre in Kalamazoo, MI.

The live clip’s debut comes less than a month after the band debuted the lyric video for the single, which is featured in the band’s latest album, Miracle Pill (2019).

The video for ‘Fearless’ is presented in comic book fashion, taking inspiration from the video presentations from Marvel Comics.  The song’s musical arrangement is an upbeat presentation that is founded in its drums.  Front man John Rzeznik adds to the song’s depth with his vocal delivery while the guitar line adds even more to the song’s presentation.  The choral effect used at various points in the song also is of note.

The musical arrangement works with the song’s proudly defiant lyrical content, which according to a press release, is meant to pay tribute to all of the ‘everyday heroes” who are out there.

‘Fearless’ is just one of the singles released from Miracle Pill.  The album’s title track was released as a single last year.  The album also spawned the single ‘Autumn Leaves‘ in September.  The band debuted a live performance of that song, also performed at the group’s Nov. 8 show

More information on Goo Goo Dolls’ new single, album, tour and more is available online now at:





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The Devonns’ Self-Titled Debut Will Take Listeners Back To The Golden Age of Soul, Funk, R&B

Courtesy: Record Kicks

Neo-soul/funk outfit The Devonns will release its self-titled debut album Friday.  The 10-song record has already spawned three singles – ‘Tell Me,’ ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?)’ and ‘Green Light’ – ahead of its forthcoming release.  All three songs are engaging and enjoyable in their own right, especially ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?),’ the latest of the record’s singles.  It will be discussed shortly.  For all that it and the other singles do for the record’s presentation, they are only a portion of what makes the record stand out.  ‘So In Love With You’ does its own part to make this record memorable.  It will certainly become a fan favorite, and will be discussed a little later.  ‘More,’ which comes just past the record’s midpoint, is another notable addition to the record.  When it is considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album’s content makes it a record with a far-reaching appeal

The Devonns’ self-titled debut album is a strong first impression from the neo-soul/funk quartet.  That is proven from beginning to end in its musical and lyrical content.  The group’s latest single, ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?)’ is just one of the songs featured in the album that supports the noted statements.  The song’s musical arrangement, with its subtle guitar line, steady time keeping and vocals from front man Mathew Ajjarapu, immediately lends itself to comparisons to Marvin Gaye’s timeless song ‘What’s Going On.’  That is no coincidence, as Ajjarapu noted in a statement on the group’s official Facebook page, that he had been listening to that song as well as renditions of ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ from Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin when the song was crafted.  Hints of both songs are evident, and welcome.  Such connections leave little doubt as to why this song was chosen as one of the album’s singles.  The song’s lyrical content, which was written prior to the recent events in Minnesota, but plays right into what has happened and is happening.

Ajjarapu noted in his statement about the song that he wrote it “about my frustration with the lack of progress America has made on issues, such as the Trayvon Martin case or the Sandy Hook massacre.  It’s like everyone here is mad about those things, but no one actually has any power to change them…I remember trying to imagine if Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye could somehow come back and see how things had changed in 30 or 40 years, how might they feel?”  Again, while the song might not have been connected to what has recently happened in Minnesota, such comments make it just as easily connected to the ongoing events.  Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “Blood dried on the parking lot/Cop said another boy’s been shot/mama worked for everything she’s got/Then the bank came along/Got everything she got/What’s going wrong/What’s going wrong?”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Blood dried on the parking lot/TV says another school’s been shot/Now we all know what we got to say/But everybody’s scare of the NRA/Oh, what’s going on/Hey, what’s going wrong/How long, how long, how long, how long/Must we wait for the time of justice to be done.”  As the song progresses, he also asks, “How long must we wait for the time for us to live as one?”  The rest of the song’s lyrical content follows in much the same fashion.  He even goes so far as to sing in the song’s closing verse, “Doesn’t matter how hard we fought/None of this is ever gonna stop…killin’ us from the inside out/What’s going wrong?”  Once more, this is one of those songs that will connect with listeners in any era.  Its lyrical content was constructed at a certain period in time, but could just as easily have been written in response to so much social dischord that has plagued this nation.  Keeping that in mind, the song, both musically and lyrically, proves itself a strong addition to The Devonns and just one key example of what makes this record such an influential start for the group.  ‘So In Love With You’ is another notable addition to the record.

‘So In Love With You’ leaves zero doubt as to its subject matter.  It, like so much of the material featured in this record, is a work that centers on the topic of romantic love.  It stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  This song’s arrangement is a smooth, old school work that throws back to the days when acts, such as The O’Jays, The Temptations and The Isley Brothers were at their peak popularity.  It is one of those works that will do well at any formal (or informal) event involving dance.  It will give couples every bit of motivation to embrace and get lost in the moment (and each other).

The lyrics that accompany the song’s musical arrangement are just as smooth as said content.  Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “I don’t know what you have got/Now baby/Just what keeps you on my mind/I just know that you can do the things you do to me/Each and every single time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/Said I’m so in love with you/You just save me my love, girl/And I’ll be right there by your side/You don’t have to be so particular with me, honey/I’m the one who’s begging this time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/I’m so in love with you.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Tell me/Can you understand me, girl/I don’t think you do sometimes/I can tell that you’re the who’s gonna be with me through endless time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/Said I’m so in love with you.”  The song continues with Ajjarapu repeatedly singing, “I’m so in love with you” as strings play in the background alongside the drums and keyboards, eventually fading out.  Once again, the lyrics leave zero questions as to the song’s theme, which adds to its ability to connect with listeners.  That connection will ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment, all while making this neo-R&B work a song that could help break the group into the mainstream.  It’s just one more example of what makes The Devonns a standout work.  ‘More’ does its own share to show why The Devonns’ self-titled debut is worth hearing, too.

‘More’ presents an arrangement whose guitar, drums and strings boats a distinct old school disco-infused sound that audiences will enjoy just as much as any of the album’s other works.  The addition of the horns to the whole enriches the song even more.  The song’s upbeat tempo adds to the engagement in the song because that and the arrangement in whole is such a stark contrast to the song’s lyrical content, which is apparently about a breakup.

The note of the breakup is inferred as Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “You smile at me/Like you don’t love me anymore/It’s not like your smile before/Is loving me such a chore/I don’t want/I don’t wanna be draggin’ you down/So you should let me know right now/If you need to be getting out/If I told you once/I told you a thousand times/I don’t need your love/If you can’t be kind/If you think this love/Is something worth fighting for/Then you’ve got to give me more/There was a time I loved you/Has our love died, too/We have to try to save this/Before we take our last…”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “You go out/At all hours, it seems/Hwo could you ever do this to me/Don’t you think that I’ve got needs/I don’t think you recall/Just how this really is/So let me spell it out like this/Pretty soon I’ll be done with this s***.”  From here, Ajjarapu returns to the song’s chorus twice more asking about what happened to the couple’s relationship.  Again, this is interesting, considering that most R&B songs that center on breakups tend to be rather melancholy.  So to have this juxtaposition of familiar lyrical content to such upbeat musical content makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment.  It is certain to generate discussion among listeners for this very reason.  That’s a good thing for The Devonns, too.  It shows the group obviously paid attention to such a minute, yet important detail.  Considered along with the overall content of the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of The Devonns proves itself a work that will appeal to a wide range of listeners.

The Devonns’ self-titled debut album, set for release Friday through Record Kicks, is an impressive first offering from the group.  That is due to the album’s musical and lyrical content.  While much of the content focuses (and quite well at that) on personal relationships, there is at least one social commentary featured in the album.  The album’s musical arrangements will take listeners back in time as if it is another time capsule unearthed and filled with old school funk, soul and R&B records.  It is a work that many listeners will find appealing.  That wide appeal, thanks to the engaging and entertaining content makes the record one of the year’s best new independent albums and overall albums.  More information on The Devonns is available along with all of The Devonns’ latest news and more at:








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‘Dead And Gone’ Proves Stabbing Westward Is Anything But Dead And Gone

Courtesy: Drugstore Records

Stabbing Westward has seen lots of ups and downs during the course of its life.  Having initially formed more than 35 years ago, the band released four albums and one EP before eventually breaking up in 2002.  Almost 15 years after that breakup, the band reunited in 2016, and has been keeping itself busy ever since then.  Just this past January, the band released its first new record in 19 years in the form of its new EP Dead and Gone.  The five-song record is a strong return for the band, and shows that even with as much time as has passed, the group can still hold its own alongside its counterparts in the electronic-industrial rock community.  It is a presentation whose musical arrangements pull from each of the band’s past records and whose lyrical content will connect with its own share of listeners.  Each item will be discussed shortly.  The record’s production and mixing rounds out its most important elements, and will be addressed later.  All things considered, the EP proves itself a strong return from one of the most well-known industrial-electronic rock acts of the 90s, and a presentation that gives audiences real reason to be optimistic about the band’s forthcoming album, which is scheduled for release later this year through COP International.

Stabbing Westward’s recently released EP Dead and Gone is a strong new offering from the band, having come along almost two decades after the release of the band’s then most recent album, it’s 2001 record Stabbing Westward.  That is due in part to the songs that make up the record’s body.  The EP features five songs, but technically only three of the five are original.  The other two are remixes of the record’s title track and of ‘Cold,’ the record’s second song.  The thing that gives this EP a pass unlike other EPs is that while the noted remixes are just that, they are still original works in their own right.  The ‘Dead and Gone’ (Stoneburner Remix) is proof of why the remixes deserve their own share of applause and attention.  The remix does stay true to its source material, but adds so much more to it in the process.  Case in point is the use of the extra electronics and the guitars that are added in to the composition.  The echo effect that is used on front man Christopher Hall’s vocals and the steady, driving bass drum beat that is incorporated adds an extra touch to the song.  The same can be said of the aforementioned guitars.  They give the song more of an edge that, together with the other added elements, actually makes the remix better than the original.  “Stabwalt’s 12” Dance Mix” of ‘Cold’ is deserving of its own praise.   This arrangement goes full EDM complete with extra keyboard accents while also staying as true as possible to its source material.  The arrangement builds on the very Orgy-esque sound featured in the original song and enhances it even more to make it just as enjoyable as the original, if not more so.

Speaking of that Orgy-influence exhibited in ‘Cold,’ it is fully evident in the original arrangement, complete with the Middle Eastern sound that opens the song.  What’s just as interesting about this arrangement  — the original arrangement – is that there are elements that make it comparable to works from old school Nine Inch Nails and to certain songs from Gary Numan.  Even with those comparisons, the song still boasts its own original identity in and of itself.  That ensures listeners will remain engaged and entertained throughout the course of the nearly four-and-a-half-minute opus.

‘Crawl,’ another of the songs featured in this EP, presents its own engaging and entertaining arrangement.  The use of the vocal effects, the guitars and keyboards will take listeners back to the band’s early days and  even as recent as the noted 2001 self-titled album.  In other words, it is a work that will appeal just as much to new audiences as it will to longtime listeners.

‘Dead and Gone,’ the EP’s opener wastes no time grabbing listeners’ attention, with its steady beat, its guitars and keyboards.  Right from the song’s outset, the arrangement lends itself to comparisons to Nine Inch Nails’ timeless hit ‘Head Like A Hole’ before easing up slightly in the lead verse.  That heaviness from the song’s opening returns in the song’s chorus, returning that comparison.  The back and forth of that heavy/soft/heavy/soft/heavy approach does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained here.  That is especially the case considering that despite the comparison, the song’s arrangement still boasts its own identity, too.  Considering the engagement and entertainment offered through the EP’s arrangements, the record clearly has plenty to offer audiences just in this aspect alone.  The EP’s lyrical content adds even more impact to its presentation.

All three of the original songs featured in Dead and Gone focus on one central topic – relationships.  The record’s title song would have been a good fit to the band’s self-titled record.  That’s because lyrically, by that point, Hall had gone from being more confident and straight forward, demanding love in his lyrics to being more pleading.  This song is very much in that vein.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “I failed to realize I’d found everything in you/And like a fool/I took it all for granted/I was too self-absorbed to see the pain I put you through/And you don’t believe in second chances.”  He adds in the chorus, “How can I go on/When my last hope is gone/How can I go on/When my last hope is dead and gone.”  From there, Hall continues in the song’s second verse, “You were the hope that pulled me through my darkest nights/But every time you needed me, I failed you/no longer want to live the life you’ve left behind/If it means I must face it without you.”  The song’s third and final verse continues in very similar fashion, finding its subject once again very pleadingly saying essentially oh-woe-is-me.  Given, this is rather self-serving, but it will connect with listeners, as there are those out there who are and have been in a similar situation, so maybe this song will help those people get through those difficult moments.

‘Cold’ is another example of why the song’s relationship-based lyrical themes strengthen the EP’s presentation.  Instead of someone who has lost that someone, this time, the song’s subject is lamenting unrequited love.  Hall sings from the subject’s vantage point here, “Our first kiss set my soul on fire/Consumed me with a burning desire/inside you, I finally felt whole/When I whispered, ‘I love you’/You froze and said nothing at all.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “It’s a silent scream through my head/I realized that my passion was dead/Inside you, I felt so alone/Like a fool who has fallen in love with an angel of stone.”  He adds in the song’s final verse, “The fire that ravaged my soul/is dead now and the ashes are cold.”  The song’s chorus adds its own impact to the song, as it finds Hall singing, “How did you get so cold/I can see in your eyes/There’s nothing inside/How did you get so cold.”  Again, the song’s subject is relatively clear here.  Lots of people have been in the position of this song’s subject; that moment of making that all-important statement in a relationship, but perhaps not getting back the same emotion from one’s partner.  Hall does a good job of expressing the emotions and thoughts that fill those who have made that move and have the same result.  To that end, it is not a song for everyone, but will connect with its own share of listeners.  Keeping that in mind, the combination of the song’s lyrical and musical content does its own work keeping audiences engaged and entertained, even here.

‘Crawl,’ the third of the record’s original works, will find its own unique appeal to audiences, too.  This song makes no bones as to its subject matter.  The song’s subject openly says to his/her love interest in the song’s chorus, “I would beg/I would plead/I would crawl/On my hands and knees/To try to restore your faith in me.”  The subject even goes so far as to say in the chorus’ refrain, “I would crawl through Hell on my knees/Just to be with you.”  This is something of a romanticized sort of statement that certainly plenty of listeners will appreciate, especially taking into account the over-the-top pleas that are presented in the song’s verses.  It is, again, not something for everyone, but those who do like such schmaltzy poetry will appreciate this presentation.  It shows that the song’s subject has realized he/she has done wrong to his/her partner, and will do whatever it takes to make things right.  Of course, actions speak louder than words, and keeping that in mind, it will not appeal to everyone, again, but will connect with its target listeners.  It’s just one more way in which the record’s lyrical content proves itself just as important to the EP’s whole as the presentation’s musical arrangements.  All things considered here, the overall content featured in these five songs makes Dead and Gone a work that is deserving of at least an occasional listen.

While the content that makes up the body of Dead and Gone does its own share to make the EP engaging and entertaining for the band’s target audience, the record’s production and mixing put the final touch to its whole.  As noted already, each song has a lot going on, between the keyboards, electronics, drums, vocals, guitar and bass.  Luckily, even as much as is going on in each song, each part is balanced well with one another.  Hall’s singing, in its more subtle and even more powerful moments helps to accent the emotion exhibited in each lyrical presentation.  At the same time, he never overpowers his band mates, nor do they wash him out.  The drums, in ‘Cold’ couple well with the guitars and drums to show once again how much time and effort was put into the record to create its impact.  Much the same can be said of the production of the record’s other works.  The end result of all of the production and mixing is a record that deserves just as much credit for its aesthetics as for its content.  Keeping that in mind, the EP, proves itself a strong return for the band and a work that deserves its own spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new EPs.

Stabbing Westward’s recently released EP Dead and Gone, released early this year, came with little fanfare or coverage from mainstream media outlets.  Despite that, it still managed to succeed and show that Stabbing Westward still sounds as strong as it did back in the 90s.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements that will appeal widely to industrial and electronic rock fans.  The record’s lyrical content ensures its own appeal among audiences.  The production and mixing puts the final touch to the record’s whole.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the EP.  All things considered, they make Dead and Gone proof that Stabbing Westward is not yet dead and gone.  More information on Dead and Gone is available along with all of Stabbing Westward’s latest news at:










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Madame Mayhem Debuts ‘Breaking Down’ Lyric Video

Courtesy: FM Music/The Fuel Music

Independent rock artist Madame Mayhem debuted the video for her latest single this week.

Madame Mayhem (a.k.a. Natalie Ann Cohen) debuted the lyric video for her new single ‘Breaking Down‘ Friday.  The song features a melodic hard rock arrangement that will appeal to fans of bands, such as Breaking Benjamin, The Veer Union and other similar acts.

The song’s lyrical content comes across as a message about someone who has gone through much difficulty in life, but ultimately refuses to give up despite experiencing those trials.  This is inferred late in the song as she sings, “I am not breaking down this time.”  The energy in her vocal delivery emphasizes that resolve, adding to its impact.

According to information provided about the new song, Cohen co-wrote the song with Brian Vodihn (10 Years) and enlisted Grammy-nominated producer Johnny K (Finger Eleven, Disturbed, Megadeth) to produce the song.  He is just one more of the big names who played a part in the song’s creation.

The information provided about the new single states Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big), Jason “J Bomb” Harrison and keith Wallen (Breaking Benjamin) also took part in the song’s creation.

‘Breaking Down’ is available to stream and download through Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.

More information on Madame Mayhem’s new single and video is available along with all of her latest news at:






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