BRAVE : the calm | the storm

Brave is a six-piece progressive/rock/metal band based in Washington, DC, and play a mix of progressive rock, folk, and metal with female vocals. They have been around since 1996 under the initial name Arise From Thorns, and have released 9 recordings, including 2 recordings under their previous band name.

An album of lush sounds, great production, and terrific playing is what you are in store for on this new album. The songs are just beautiful, with the angelic vocals of Michelle Schrotz giving the songs so much emotion. On the more rocking “Summertime,” she almost has a Dolores O’Riordan sound to her singing. The song has great guitar playing and was a standout to me since it was one of the faster and catchier songs on here. Of course, this isn’t to say that the other songs weren’t good…they were, they were really good, but this one just did it for me. The lighter songs like “Bay Song” really show off the band’s exceptional playing and really make those songs a pleasure to listen to as well.

This is a very mixed album, harder and softer songs all mixed together, soaring vocals, soft vocals, all of it made for a great listen. The power and the gentleness of this band will amaze you and the great songs will lock it in for you…this one is a great trip to take.

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CRUSHWATER: The Cactus Storm EP

This band from Port Angeles, Washington was formed in 2016 when singer/violinist Chandra Johnson joined forces with frontman/guitarist Scott Sullivan and drummer Casey Northern. The three members began melding their various styles together leading up to the release of their debut EP, The Cactus Storm.

Playing a nice mix of country/folk/rock, this three-piece really gets things going on the first real track after the intro. “Fly Fly Fly” has a nice little groove going on and the mix of the male and female vocals really give the song a good contrast since they complement each other so well. The violin just makes this song a real treat since it gives it a terrific sound. “Blue Moon” is another great track with the instruments interweaving so beautifully that the song gave me goosebumps. The way that it gets more rocking really was a nice surprise and I really can’t get enough of this song. “Starry Skies” was a surprise since I was not expecting a Spanish song, but they managed to pull it off well. They mix the English and Spanish lyrics with ease and the music was upbeat and fun. “California” is a great slower track that was melancholy and really had a lot of feeling and emotion in it.

The EP has great playing, amazing vocals and so much real emotion going for it that I fell in love with this band. If this is the first thing they have put out, I’m looking so forward to what the next release will be like.

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Ferentz and The Felons: Hudson County EP

Ferentz and the Felons is a contemporary rock band based out of Hudson County, NJ. Their music has a hint of folk, a touch of blues, and rock.

The EP has two songs on it, the title track and “Ash Moon,” and gives the listener a nice overview of what they are capable of. “Ash Moon” is a peppy track that gets your heart racing and really sticks with you with its driving beat and excellent playing. I can’t get enough of the track and loved it from first listen. The title track is a mellow song with heartfelt lyrics and a yearning vocal performance that pulls at your soul. The band shows its skills with the emotion and tension in the song and it just kills.

Two tracks, only two, but damn…what tracks! This is a band to watch and a band that will garner fans when they hear these songs.

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YANIS: Queen Kari: Download / CD

Queen Kari cover art












Yanis is a 22 year old folk singer from Toronto, Ontario. Yanis was diagnosed with Non Verbal Learning Disorder at 13. NVLD, similar though not identical to Asperger’s, makes social interaction difficult, and so Yanis turned to creative writing to combat loneliness and express himself.

Kind of bouncy, 1950s feel to it, but a tad mellow, not so much a fast rock sound, but kind of a light sound to it. “Earl Of March” is more 60s or 70s sounding, which made a nice transition from the first two. “Earl Of March” does have a kind of a sad feel to it that the first two tracks didn’t. “Momentai” is kind of dark, kind of sad, and disturbing. “Jeri” is a sad, slow song that is just full of emotion. Yanis took great care in choosing the sound and feel to this album, from its tracks, to how he chooses his band members, the instruments, and it all paid off.

Even though this is his first album he sounds like he has done this for awhile. He has great potential.

Review by: Amy East

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: Surrealistic Pillow: CD

The second and arguably, the best album from JEFFERSON AIRPLANE has been beautifully remastered with crisp sound and it fills in the spaces that were missing on previous releases. This is the first album to feature Grace Slick on vocals and has the top ten singles “White Rabbit” and Somebody To Love”, which became classics not just of the band, but rock’n’roll classics.

The mix of folk rock and psychedelia was original at the time with bands taking music into wild directions that were never thought to be put together in those ways before, but while some bands faded away, these guys put out a classic that still sounds fantastic today. The album goes into softer, folky songs like  “Comin’ Back To Me”, hard-hitting rockers like “Somebody To Love”, and the complete weird-out psychedelic track “White Rabbit” and flows perfectly. The music can still grip you and pull you into its weave of delirious excitement and that shows just how good of a band they were. The cleaned up sound makes the instruments sound a lot clearer and more powerful than before and you can really hear the emotion in the band’s performance. The packaging is impressive, a reproduction of the album jacket, a black CD that looks like the record did, and a cool OBI strip like they have on Japanese CDs.

If you are a fan, you need this album, if you are looking for the definitive album by them, get this one today. All of their first nine albums have been remastered and are out now on Culture Factory USA, get out your credit cards and grab them!

LOUISE DISTRAS: Dreams From The Factory Floor: CD

Dreams From The Factory Floor

At twenty five years old, Louise Distras has already garnered a ton of attention both in her native U.K. and also around the world. She’s trying to get people to fight against the crap in this world and not with each other and empowering women to not be stereotyped or brought down, but to get out and fight for the ability to do whatever they want.

With a voice that goes between raspy and sweet at times, Distras really lets loose with a weapon that will grab you right away, her voice. Of course the lyrics are what matter, but her voice makes the lyrics jump out at you. Yes, you may think of JOAN JETT, BRODY DALLE and COURTNEY LOVE when you hear her singing, but that’s great as a reference point, but not the end of it all, she has more depth and range than those vocalists. The songs are great punk rock mixed with some rock songs thrown in and some acoustic songs in the mix as well. It turns into a varied album that will please a lot of different people who will hopefully spread her message to more people than just a small group. It kind of reminds me of a mix of BILLY BRAGG and a JOE STRUMMER album with the different styles mixed together. You even get Distras doing spoken word on the title track which was fantastic.

Not one song is filler, everything is killer and I can say that I don’t have a favorite song on the album…I have a favorite album. Get this and fill your house with some great sounds and your head with great lyrics.

YARD OF BLONDES: Murderology: CD

A brand new four song EP from this rock-folk band that incorporates some 1960s influences, and pop rock into their sound.

The EP starts off with the title track where the band does a dirgey track that has some great melody, is catchy, the vocals between Vincent W. Jacob and Fanny Hill intertwine seamlessly and the band locks into a groove that is infectious. The next song “Monomoria” has excellent drumming and is noisy and has a great freak out feel to it, but it still has the catchiness that makes it shine. Track three “Requiem For A Lover” has a 1960s feel to it with an almost BEATLES sound the song which was nice, with the great musicianship on this song; it was my favorite song on here. Finally, the last song “Sailors” was the most folk like song on the EP, with its quiet and gentle playing that turns harder and faster as the song goes on and there is some classic rock going on in the song as well, a very cool mix of ideas.

This band is definitely interesting and has great vocals, and playing on it, the only flaw…only four songs, I need more!

UNBOWED: Self-titled EP: CD


UNBOWED began in March of 2011 in Guelph, Ontario and have just released their debut EP independently and play a mix of folk metal mixed with death metal. UNBOWED consists of Ioan Tetlow on vocals Alex Snape on guitar and backing vocals, Trevor Rice on guitar, Connor MacPherson on keyboards, Zack Kasman on bass, and Nick Lennox on drums.

This five track EP kicks things off with “Shadow of Dark Decay”, with a nice mellow keyboard led start that gives way to some great guitar playing and drumming bringing you the heaviness and intensity that you knew was going to push you down hard in your chair.Great growling vocals and the keyboards that are mixed into the song give it an atmospheric quality that flows well with the powerful playing by the rest of the band. “March Of The Giants” with its chugging riffs, thunderous bass, relentless drumming, deep, growling vocals, the guitar solo and the incredible keyboard playing really made this song a standout. “Gwynn Ap Nudd” has gothic sounding keyboards that give depth to the song, and the drumming is like a dozen machine guns going off all at once. “The Prophecy Foretold” has beautiful keyboard playing that is mixed with the brutal vocals, the chugging guitars, and was another outstanding track on this EP. Finally we come to the last song, “As Winter Claims My Soul” is a great fast and heavy song that ends the proceedings off perfectly, military drumming, wall of guitars, rumbling bass, melodic keyboards and the angry vocals all combined to give you the last punch in the guts.

This was one hell of a good debut that these guys should be proud of, their mix of death and folk metal, their musical ability and the interesting lyrics all combined to make an EP that will get repeated listening around here. For a relatively new band, these guys really take a chance with the mix of styles and sounds and succeed admirably.


This is Travis Stever, the guitarist from COHEED & CAMBRIA’s solo project and their sophomore album using the name DAVENPORT CABINET, they were previously known as THE ENGLISH PANTHER, but changed their name after The Davenport Brothers, a pair of 19th-century magicians whose famous illusion involved a large cabinet filled with instruments which seemed to play themselves.

Starting the album was the instrumental “Night Climb” which was a very gentle way to begin the album, “Sister Servent” was captivating with the guitar playing and the drumming, “Black Dirt Burden” had a nice rock sound that grabbed me and “Our Machine” was a fun acoustic song that had great banjo playing on it. These were just a few of the songs that grabbed me on this album. This album goes from gentle folk to some all out rockin’ tunes and takes you along for the exciting ride. There is a lot of emotion in the song lyrics and the playing that really drew me into the album and keeps my interest all the way through to the end. The heartfelt singing and the playing just took me away to a different place and the dreaminess just washed over me and made this an album that left a very good feeling in me.

With the acoustic and the electric songs on here, it was a very diverse and enjoyable album. Go out and grab it and let it take you away from the mundane, everyday existence.

STOJ SNAK: Songs About Beliefs: 7″

Niels H. Sörensen basically is STOJ SNAK since he does vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, bass guitar, organ, harmonica, toy xylophone, melodica, rhythm apple, hand claps, tambourine, cabasa, programming, song writing, recording, producing, mixing and artwork. Talk about a busy guy.

There are some really good lyrics on here that make you think, which is always a big plus. This is all acoustic and really shows the emotion and power of Sörensen’s lyrics and voice. Some of the vocals are shouted, but it’s mostly sung very energetic and upbeat and makes you sing along with him. Some songs that I really liked were “State of Mine”, “No Refund” and “Great Ideas Need Landing Gear”. The playing is really good, you would think that he had a whole band with him the way it all flows together so well.

This was a very cool EP that I had no idea if I was going to like it or not, and know I end up playing this all of the time, my wife even liked it and she’s picky about what she likes. This is available on orange vinyl and there are 250 copies out there, get it soon.