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DS Album Review: DRAIN – “Living Proof”

“Stemming from humble DIY beginnings, Drain built up their scene alongside friends who would go on to form bands like Scowl, Gulch, and Sunami and in the process of paving the way for hardcore to thrive in their beach town of Santa Cruz, CA, they’ve cemented a legacy that transcends their California roots.” The small […]

“Stemming from humble DIY beginnings, Drain built up their scene alongside friends who would go on to form bands like Scowl, Gulch, and Sunami and in the process of paving the way for hardcore to thrive in their beach town of Santa Cruz, CA, they’ve cemented a legacy that transcends their California roots.” The small excerpt quoted there was from the email that I received in preparation for this review, and while this excerpt feels like it says it all, I can’t help but feel the need to point out how similar these dudes started their journey to so many of my hometown local bands here in Alaska, and feel like I can say something worthwhile about them!

The first track of the album, “Run Your Luck”, gives me Godsmack vibes. They give off a unique rock sound, bringing in multiple styles of guitar riffs to their songs. I’m loving that in one song, I can get Godsmack, then the next I get Metallica vibes that slide back and forth with Suicidal Tendencies-like riffs and vocals. It’s a band that absolutely keeps you on your toes when it comes to the song’s dynamics. Drain genuinely reminds me of a few of the bands I went to see at our only all-ages venue here in Anchorage, Alaska, called Anchorage Community Works (at the time it was the only all-ages venue and it has since closed down). Not just in the way they came out of the woodwork, but also when it came down to the vibe. When I was introduced to this scene in 2014-2015, 85% of the bands that I saw, or that opened for the larger names, had a similar sound and intensity to their performances as Drain gives in this album. “Evil Finds Light” and “Imposter” both have equally in-your-face vocals that bring me back to my freshman year of high school at my first show and I truly appreciate how it sort of just slams into your ears without warning, much like those bands at Anchorage Community Works did at my first show.

“Intermission” features Shakewell and hits a different sound entirely. Throwing in an artist like him out of left field and mixing the rap/rock genres had me thrown into the back of my seat in shock, just to hear the callout to Drain and the breakdown, and headbang like it was my first metal show. It was a pleasant surprise, but might be an even more of an acquired taste when speaking in terms of the metal/rock community. Having “Intermission” followed by “Weight of the World” and “Watch You Burn”, which both throw us back to the sound of Suicidal Tendencies, is a cool transition that just seems to work well with the flow of this album. “Watch You Burn” has an ending that has you headbanging so hard, I couldn’t imagine anyone’s hair that’s in a basic bun or ponytail staying in, the chug in it is just too good to not give it all you got each beat.

“Good Good Things” changes the pace almost as much as “Intermission”, but in an entirely different direction. It goes to the softer side of the rock scale and has a sound that throws me back to middle and high school when I listened to Type-O Negative and Sick Puppies. The song has a sort of comfort sound, personally, and I love that it gives the listener a small break from the intense vocals that are forefront and in your face in the majority of the others!

Last, but absolutely not least, we have the title track for Living Proof. This track brings it in hard with everybody’s favorite instrument… THE COWBELL. With a very Metallica-esque intro and the cowbell assist, it gave the title track its own unique spin that would absolutely make it easily distinguishable as its title track. I personally love when the title track is distinguishable in albums and the way this one progresses as the album comes to its end, I can honestly say, I personally have never heard a band or artist fade an album out the way they did and I am HERE for it.

Killer job on this album, Drain. I generally think that to some, this album may be a bit of an acquired taste. Despite the fact I feel the technique is pulled off beautifully with the slow, chugging moments in the guitar that will unexpectedly pick up and give a perfect segway for the vocals to come tearing in. This album has a seriously cool dynamic. With the few songs that just come out of left field and transport the listener to an entirely different genre, to the style switches and how smooth they all are, it makes me excited to see the growth of this band and see if they bring any other styles into their music discography.

Living Proof is out now and available on Spotify and Bandcamp!

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DS Album Review: Noise Brigade – “The Mess Inside Of Me”

To say that I’ve been following this band for a while would be an understatement. Once upon a time, I was a drummer for an awful pop-punk band from Anchorage, Alaska fronted by Noise Brigade’s own vocalist/guitarist Nathan Nelson. I had a breakdown in a random Qdoba and broke up the band, but luckily Nathan […]

To say that I’ve been following this band for a while would be an understatement. Once upon a time, I was a drummer for an awful pop-punk band from Anchorage, Alaska fronted by Noise Brigade’s own vocalist/guitarist Nathan Nelson. I had a breakdown in a random Qdoba and broke up the band, but luckily Nathan found Noise Brigade. More than a decade later, rehoming from Anchorage to Portland, several lineup changes, and departing from their label, this band has put themselves back out there independently with The Mess Inside Of Me and emotional expression is at the forefront.

The EP opens with the single “Fiberglass” which showcases everything I love about this band. The guitar riffs and chugs into the verse, Doug’s lyrics providing a landscape for Nathan’s chorus, everything coming together to form the conceptual fiberglass that chokes the song’s narrator with emotion. Lines like “I still turn my head at the scent of your perfume” and “I’m mortified and suffering, if I see you there I back away” cover a wide swath of feelings that come with unrequited love. The song fades down to a simple repeated concept, “I wanna be with you, I wanna be with you, there’s nothing I can do.”

“Jackie” showcases a dynamic build to a chorus that reveals the EP’s name, “Figure out all our wants and needs cause you clean the mess inside of me”. The song plays out like a lullaby with earworm guitar/synth riffs that fades out into my favorite track “Panic Bloom” which kicks in aggressively. The song is quickly tempered by the soft lilt of Doug’s vocals over twinkly guitars but by the chorus we’re “getting the message loud and clear” as the lyrics suggest. The bridge goes hard, starting as a whisper we hear, “I’ll fuck up my own life, I’ll fuck up” as it builds to a shredding scream before giving way to the chorus one last time.

As the sound of a calm indie-emo intro washes over you as if from a distant radio we get “Asteroid Blues” which blows in like a cold breeze. The chorus laments, softly and almost child-like, about a wound that we’re not sure ever heals, “I scrape my knees, pulling rocks out of my hands and let it bleed, cover up the wound and set me free.” This song makes me feel like a kid again, whether it’s from the lyrics making me feel like I’m hiding something from my parents or the reverby noodling something about this song is doing it for me.

What do you really expect from someone when you ask, “How’s it goin’?” We get “Cope”, a track of the two singers comforting one another over their shared feelings of isolation, failure, and former glory. This song verbalizes the intense imposter syndrome that can grow in your mind, “How did we get here, how do we get out, does anybody want me around?” and these thoughts can grow if you’re a mess inside, very thematically relevant. Anyone who has been in a band long enough will feel the lines “I wanna be on top of the world again, I wanna feel like I’m worth it to all my friends”.

The closing track “Same Pain” echoes the emotional sentiments of the entire EP. Despite the mental anguish of where you’ve been, it’s nicer to have people around you that share the same pain. “Don’t tell me it’s not over, don’t take away my hope, I wanna feel the sunshine, I wanna know, I wanna know I’m not alone.” The song closes instrumentally after an anthemic swell and I wish there was more, but that’s probably a good thing. This collection of songs doesn’t overstay its welcome: it’s emotionally poignant and showcases everything I love about this band. If you’re absolutely hurting for more Noise Brigade, don’t worry, not only do they have a decent catalog, but the two singers have started up a podcast detailing their musical history and all the growing pains of a working band called “Mustard In A Ketchup Packet: Stories From A Band That Tried”.

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DS Album Review: Sideways – “Dog Bite/Secrets”

Sideways, the Green Day-inspired melodic/pop punk band from Anchorage, Alaska brings fun and catchy energy to their songs and continues to show Alaska’s scene that they have that high energy everyone craves at shows. They’ve announced a new album that has been in the works for quite some time and have finally graced us with […]

Sideways, the Green Day-inspired melodic/pop punk band from Anchorage, Alaska brings fun and catchy energy to their songs and continues to show Alaska’s scene that they have that high energy everyone craves at shows. They’ve announced a new album that has been in the works for quite some time and have finally graced us with the first two singles on a dual-single album!

Alright, so first song out the gate, “Dog Bite”, has an amusingly awkward intro, which they expertly finish the song off with in a similar fashion, and it kicks the song off to a great mood with catchy, fast paced guitar riffs that remind me of the roots of pop punk. They dig deep into their Green Day love in this song, and it pays off. The lyrics of the song are a compliment to the instrumentals and it vividly describes a situation that, I’m sure, many of us can relate to. Making the song that much more appealing to its audience!

Moving into “Secrets”, it’s a similarly styled song, yet has a completely different meaning. All of us can relate to intrusive and dark thoughts when getting into a life low or mental depression. It’s super important to let these thoughts and emotions out in some way. Putting them to paper and creating art while still being able to maintain that upbeat, fun, high-energy sound is a talent, and I applaud Sideways for taking our secrets from our heads and putting them to paper in a song that could very well just turn our mood around for that day.

All in all, I couldn’t be happier to finally hear a couple of the new songs, and I’m more excited than before to hear the rest of what they have coming for us! As a fan of these guys for some time now, I wanted to note how proud I am of these guys to get this done and out, and even more so when the full album is out. I know how hard they’ve been working to get this recorded and mixed for us to hear and it’s an incredible amount of work that goes into this, so kudos to you guys!

You can blare these singles on a dual-track album on most digital streaming services. Also, don’t forget to follow them and check their music out, checking back often to make sure you don’t miss the drop of the full album, Hollow Hearts! (Credit for album art goes to @jr2photogrpahy on Instagram)

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In Case You Missed It!  Dying Scene Review: Thera – “Survivalist” & “How To Fall Apart”

This is one of the bands to get me out and into the rock/metal/punk scene as a spectator when I was in high school. Thera (pronounced, theer-uh) opened for August Burns Red in Anchorage in 2016 and I was HOOKED. I mentioned this band to my sister, who was already a diehard fan, and we […]

This is one of the bands to get me out and into the rock/metal/punk scene as a spectator when I was in high school. Thera (pronounced, theer-uh) opened for August Burns Red in Anchorage in 2016 and I was HOOKED. I mentioned this band to my sister, who was already a diehard fan, and we saw them live together a few times after that as well. Their last 3 shows, I’ve had the honor of taking photos for them and I’m elated to now call them friends! The voices of Stephanie and Ronnie mesh so well together to create some of the most unique and wide ranges I’ve ever heard. They also use their experiences in their life to write incredible songs with beautiful backstories. Similar to their fellow Alaskan band Distance Defined, these guys write from the heart and with pure emotion and experience.

The first single they released this year was called “Survivalist”. This song has a beautiful writing story and it’s definitely one I want to share having gotten the chance to ask Ronnie about it. “I wrote the lyrics for this one while I was working alone in a little village in southwest AK. That year I had been flying all over the place for work. I have a manic brain that overthinks and fixates on things, so of course it decided to dwell on the idea of the world falling apart while I was a thousand miles away from Stephanie and my son. I kinda wrote it from Steph’s perspective as she received yet another one of my overly dramatic poems or verses while I’m trying to journey back to her. Not that Steph actually felt the way I wrote it, but just that I imagined her being like “Hey, your words are sweet, but they lose their magic when I’m trying to survive here alone with our son at this little piece of land we bought by the ocean.” Half the verses are just lines of the poems I would send her over that year.”

When I learned the story, I listened to it in a completely new light and had a new appreciation for songwriting. It’s incredible that something that wasn’t even intended to come together into one piece, all came together over time and to have the ability to arrange the poetry to make a song that embodies the story in its music is admirable. This song often puts me in tears, and honestly, it’s because they have done such an amazing job in making the instrumentals and the tone of Stephanie’s voice (at least for me) bring the emotions behind the song to the surface and makes me feel as though I’m feeling the way the person in the song was. It’s an incredible gift that, I believe, these guys have nailed.

Thera’s second single released this year was almost a 180 spin around from their previous single “Survivalist”. It shows the kind of love you go out to search for in the crazy nightlife, only to be rejected night after night with unreciprocated feelings. Ronnie explained the song like this; “This one is written from the eyes of someone trying to find their person in a world of late nights and crazy parties. They fall in love with someone nightly, but the other person never reciprocates the feeling. Yet, they patch themselves back up and go back out into the noise looking for love again.”

The beautiful simplicity of the meaning paired with the deep poetic lyrics make this one of my favorite songs they’ve released thus far! When I listen to Stephanie’s voice, she never fails to portray the music’s feeling in her tone and pitch-perfectly. The instrumentals carried out by the remainder of the band complement her beautifully and they’ve always been able to achieve such a beautifully unique sound. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a band quite like Thera, ever. To have such a unique band come from a unique place, such as Alaska, is really quite a treasure in my eyes and I can’t wait to see what sound they produce for us next!

Thera’s discography is on Spotify and *select* music videos of songs uploaded to their YouTube channel TheraMusic!

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In Case You Missed It! Dying Scene Review: Distance Defined – “Happiness and the Light It Sheds”

Distance Defined. Their name perfectly describes their band dynamic. All the members live in different Alaskan cities. From Homer to Anchorage, these guys produce music that puts even the toughest of dudes into their feelings. These guys ignore the distance and (if you ask me) make it look effortless. These dudes hold a very special […]

Distance Defined. Their name perfectly describes their band dynamic. All the members live in different Alaskan cities. From Homer to Anchorage, these guys produce music that puts even the toughest of dudes into their feelings. These guys ignore the distance and (if you ask me) make it look effortless. These dudes hold a very special place in my heart as they were the band to bring me out for my very first live show as a photographer. If it weren’t for these guys, I would have never found my passion for concert photography! In the years I’ve known these guys, they’ve all been put through the wringer in some way, shape or form. Their perseverance and drive to take those emotions and create works of art never ceases to amaze me and I’m honored to know them and call them friends and will forever be grateful for the love, support, and opportunities they continue to show and give me as I continue my passion for concert photography.

This track is the first single released off their new album (release date TBD) called “Agony and the Weight It Bears”, and it’s going to be a heavy one. I obtained the song before release by their guitarist, Trevyn Days, and when asked about the story behind the song, here’s the beautiful snippet behind it; “…this song is all about the struggles of Sara and I trying to start a family and the happiness we felt once she was pregnant with the girls. The whole album is going to be our story, so it’s going to be intense.” This song’s sentimental background doesn’t mean Distance won’t still be giving you the heavy vocals and screams the fans all know and love, but if anything, it adds dimension and feeling to each song they bring to the table. A unique thing they also show in their songs, that I’ve heard only a few bands do, is they drop the tempo and almost cease instrumentals, leaving an ethereal, echo-like feel while voices of the guitarist and his wife overlap in a beautiful overlapping manner. It’s incredibly hard to do it justice with a description of words, you’ll just have to go listen to experience it for yourself! 

Enough sappiness! These guys always bring 110% to the table when it comes to their music and I couldn’t be more honored to be their “spokesperson” so to speak, and bring them into this site. I’m so proud of these boys and so honored to call them friends. Keep bringing us to tears and giving us music to mosh to!

“Happiness and the Light It Sheds” dropped on all streaming platforms last July! Stay tuned for more from Distance Defined soon!

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Part Time Super Heroes

Part Time Super Heroes is a five piece heavy metal band based out of Southcentral Alaska.

Sideways

Pop-Punk band from Anchorage, Alaska!

Thera

Alaska Emo-Rock/Metal Band from Anchorage, Alaska