Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Review of Ashes To Oranges

Hey everyone, Dana here. I'm on a writing spree; lately I've only been writing one blog post every couple of months or so due to writer's block and the absence of inspiration. Lucky for me, I've been having a lot of inspiration the past few days and it's turning back into how it used to be my weekly blog back in my college days.(Yay!) Last week, I reviewed a local Long Island two-piece alternative rock/blues band Raw Dangle's EP, Loyal Dog. Right now, I'm seeing a bit of a pattern here; because I'm reviewing another two-piece hard rock band...hailing from from Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey: Ashes To Oranges.
Left: Joe Right: Tyler
Since their formation in April 2014, Ashes To Oranges consists of lead vocalist/guitarrist Tyler Schafer and drummer Joe Edwards. Their influences include, but not limited to, Local H, Queens of the Stone Age, Incubus, Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Silversun Pickups. After nearly two years of playing shows throughout the tri-state area and beyond, Ashes To Oranges is releasing their debut EP, Inanimate Animal on  Friday, April 15th at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, New Jersey.

So how the hell did I discover a local band from New Jersey, you ask? Well, last summer when my band opened up for Logan's Room at their CD release show, Ashes To Oranges was one of the fellow opening bands who we had the utmost pleasure of sharing the stage with. When I was watching their set, I was intrigued because I've never seen so much energy from only two musicians before. I'm used to seeing your typical rock band setup; you know...two guitars, bass and drums at almost every local show I've ever played and been to; never once have I seen a two piece band before. As their set went on, I felt a connection with these guys, and we exchanged contact information.(Interstate networking, FTW!)
 Without further ado, let's dive into Inanimate Animal. *insert applause here*

Let's take a look at this album track by track, shall we?

Track 1: Mirrors

The album begins with Tyler's guitar, and then Joe's drums join in shortly after with this lightning fast rhythm that sounds like something out of Queens of the Stone Age's album Songs For The Deaf. When I hear this song coming out of my speakers, I close my eyes and imagine a giant mosh pit breaking out with how much energy this song has. I can't help but headbang. Like I said earlier, this energy is coming from only two guys. Imagine a traditional rock band set up...needless to say, it would melt your skin off. After about two minutes in, the tempo slows down a bit as a "whoa whoa whoa" chant emerges from a distance. If I hear a "whoa" chant in songs, it stays in my head, and if you have a song that's an earworm, you've written a damn good song. The song ends with a guitar solo that highlights the "whoa" chant as the song comes to an abrupt stop. This is definitely the best track to kick off the EP. The high energy makes you want to hear more from what these guys have in store. On to the next...

Track 2: Mother Goose

Yep, you guessed it. The title of the track speaks for itself. This song is exactly what you expect: nursery rhymes that aren't so innocent. 
We've got another head-banging song here. I'm going to be completely honest; when I first heard this song, I was essentially on the ground laughing. This song made me laugh harder than Weird Al Yankovic's parodies or the hilarious songs Psychostick released throughout the years. I've always loved satire; and if it's in music, I love it even more. In short, the nursery rhymes we've been hearing since we were little just got completely ripped apart by a heavy distorted repetitive guitar riff ,crashing cymbals, and Tyler's pseudo-heavy metal screams. Good bye, childhood! It was nice knowing you. This is by far the most entertaining song that stays in my mind even after the song ends.

Track 3: Euthanasia

Unlike the last two tracks, Euthanasia begins with Joe's drums and then Tyler's guitar joins in shortly afterward. Not too much later, Tyler's vocals come in with this incredible harmony that reminds me of 
Alice In Chains. Whether it's the rhythm or the harmonies, I can imagine this song being played on local New York Nassau County radio station 94.3 The Shark. All I hear is 90's alternative favorite genre of music.You don't hear a lot of harmonies with local bands much anymore; it's usually just one vocalist and maybe one other backing vocalist. You don't hear a lot of depth with only one vocalist, but Tyler is an exception here. He's the primary vocalist of this band, yet harmonies exist here. Bravo. This might be my favorite song off this album.

Track 4: Hypnotize

And so we come to the final track of the EP. Hypnotize sounds like Nirvana meets Local H. You can hear raw emotions emanating from Tyler's voice that pays homage to Kurt Cobain and Scott Lucas in this track. I'm still blown away by the harmonies I hear during the choruses: "But you still call yourself a friend" or "But you still call this place a home." From what I get out of the lyrics of this song, it's about moving forward from any hardships and tragedies in the past and to keep on living. What a positive, heartwarming message to listen to if you're having a really hard time. It makes you feel like you're not alone in this world, and that's how all songs should be; to send a message out to the world and remind us that we're all together in this and everything will be okay. The last thing you hear is "Let's wake up to a brighter day" with a lone guitar chord fading out as the album comes to an end. What an incredible last remark to send out to your fans.

Wow. I've always felt something special with Ashes To Oranges since I discovered them. When I found that they were releasing this EP, I knew something special would come out of it, but this album has completely suceeded my expectations. The amount of chemistry Tyler and Joe have with each other makes this band and album amazing.  Just two great friends that have a passion for music, and s0metimes that's all you need. Without the chemistry, the music doesn't flow. If this four track EP gives me goose bumps, I can't wait to hear more from what these guys come up with. And if my band was to play a show with these guys in the near future, I would be beyond thrilled. Once again, be sure to catch them on Friday, April 15th at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ! 

If you like what you've read so far, be sure to check them out on FacebookTwitter and Instagram: @ashestooranges.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about Ashes To Oranges. Have a great night, enjoy the weekend, and I'll be back to writing soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Review of Raw Dangle

Hi everyone, Dana here. It's been quite sometime since I last posted here. I went to Japan for two weeks, played a show with my band, played the lovely game of "catch up" at my job, and spending as much time outside as possible when it's not snowing every other weekend. It's good to be back, and to have inspiration to write again. I've discovered a new local Long Island band today: Raw Dangle.
Danny Lewis and Matt Davis

Raw Dangle is a two piece alternative blues/folk band consisting of lead vocalist/guitarrist Danny Lewis, and drummer Matt Davis. Hailing from Nassau County, this band was founded in 2011, and after many years of writing songs and playing live shows throughout the island, Raw Dangle just released their debut EP, Loyal Dog.

Let's break this EP down track by track, shall we?

Track 1: Do You Believe?

The EP begins with an acoustic guitar that reminds me of Flogging Molly's "Float." You can clearly tell that they've got folk roots along with Danny's vocal's added about thirty seconds in. With the acoustic guitar and the soothing vocals, it sounds like something Bob Dylan would write. After about two minutes in, the drums join in and a part of me just wants to simply get up and dance. I can close my eyes and imagine a crowd of people just having a great time with this song...drink in hand, of course. This is a great opening track; I think it might be my favorite off of this EP. Then again, I have a thing for opening tracks on albums I've listened to. With the kind of sound this song has, it makes you want to have more from what this CD is giving you.

Track 2: Treat Me(How You Want):

The opening riff and rhythm reminds me of something you'd hear on The Beatles' Revolver or White Album. If I was to pick one Beatles song that comes to mind when I hear this track, it would be "Savoy Truffle." What I find really cool about this track, is that it's got this syncopated funk feel on top of the folk/blues sound you'd hear when The Beatles experimented with different sounds in the mid/late 60's. Even Danny's voice pays homage to George Harrison here. There's so many different layers of sounds that create this sound I've never really heard from other local bands I've checked out/seen before. I can imagine this song being played on the radio station 90.7, or The Alternate Side.

Track 3: Forty-Niner

Forty-Niner opens up with Matt's drums, and a funky bass riff. As a bass player, I'm a sucker for bass breaks, or anything where you hear nothing but pure rhythm. Not too much later, Danny's vocals come in. Afterl listening to this song a couple of times, I noticed something really cool. Some of Raw Dangle's inspirations include, but not limited to, The Black Keys and The White Stripes; I can hear both bands with this track in particular. There's a difference between literally taking something a band has once created, and paying tribute/homage as a compliment to them. The song ends with Danny's guitar solo as the song fades out. I'd love to hear this song live sometime.

Track 4: Creatures Come Around

Like the opening track "Do You Believe," "Creatures Come Around" opens with the guitar and then Matt's drums join in not too much later; as if it's two book ends complimenting the other. The only difference is, "Do You Believe" opens with an acoustic guitar and "Creature Come Around" opens with an electric guitar. I catch myself bopping my head numerous times throughout this song. The different stops give depth and uniqueness to this song. I can't begin to describe how many times I've listened to an album and the song just keeps the same rhythm, with no changes/stops or any rest. Towards the end of the song, a mini jam session along with Danny's guitar solo kicks in as the song and closing track of the EP comes to an end.

I'm going to be honest here. I've never heard of Raw Dangle until Matt added me on Facebook and asked me to review his band's EP. I sure am glad I did, because I never would have known about these guys unless my band happened to be playing the same night as them at the same venue. With the type of music I play and usually into, I'm all about the loud, fast, raw punk sound. You normally wouldn't catch me listening to alternative/ blues band, but these guys have me hooked. Raw Dangle has great potential, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have in store for the future. Check them out on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram: @rawdangle.

Thank you for checking out Raw Dangle, and I will write again soon. Until then, enjoy the rest of the week, and weekend.