Sleepwalking is a four track EP that puts the musical talent and lyrical poeticism of Cole Shway on display. What listeners will find on this EP is a balance of gentle harmonies as he sings with authentic passion. Shway acts as master of the strings as he plays guitar, banjo, and bass in addition to singing on each track.
The soothing fluidity of Shway’s arpeggio guitar picking style makes this EP smooth and calming to hear. The album at times sounds as though it has a brush stroke of a psychedelic nature which further entangles listeners into these poems of self discovery.
Of the four songs on the EP, the last track, Sleepwalking, stood out more than any other.The track begins with the gentle picking of a banjo. Shway tells listeners his story as best as he can while the gentle melodies flow under his voice.
“I feel great ‘cause I’m not scared anymore”’ Shway sings at the outset of the song. “To take on the world, to let it in.”
The chorus states simply as the gentle instruments crescendo under his voice, “I am sleepwalking.”
If what you seek is a mellow sound that you can turn up and tune out into, Cole Shway’s Sleepwalking is the next album for you. Shway tells his stories through poems that listeners can relate to and connect with through its great subtle moments. These songs will touch a silent part of your heart, leaving you looking for more.
The gentle melodies of this EP will take listeners by the hand and into the mind of Cole Shway. This aptly titled EP listens as though you are wandering through a dreamscape. The songs Shway writes are revealing but mysterious as he shares that which is caught in his heart and soul through his words and instruments.
Genre: Post-Hardcore, Metalcore, Alternative Metal
Label: Fearless Records
Song Highlights: “BURNING YOUR WORLD DOWN”, “THANK YOU”, “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II)”, “MONOMANIA”
The Word Alive, a metalcore/post-hardcore band based out of Phoenix, Arizona has released their anticipated sixth studio record, MONOMANIA. The band continues to try and make something different with each record, which they have done since their 2014 record, Real and they kept that promise still with, MONOMANIA. A major factor for this record is they went with a different producer than Matt Good, who produced The Word Alive’s last two records, Dark Matter and Violent Noise. This time around they went with Erik Ron who has previously produced albums with Godsmack, Dance Gavin Dance, and nothing,nowhere, to name a few. This album still gives the metal vibe that you know from the band with Telle’s amazing vocal range, catchy guitar riffs, and hard drum beats.
The album starts with the title track, “MONOMANIA,” giving that new Word Alive feel to the music. With the catchy chorus, hard guitar riffs as well as Telle’s hard scream at the end, it was a beautiful first track to the album. “NO WAY OUT” starts with a different vocal range from Telle than you’re used to, if you’ve followed the band for quite some time you’ll notice it easier. It does catch you off guard for sure, but one thing that I believe should be approved upon is how much they went through the chorus in the song, as much as they did.
“SEARCHING FOR GLORY” did give the same vibe as, “NO WAY OUT,” but didn’t give that much of a repetitiveness. What I loved a lot about this track was the acoustic guitar and Telle’s vocals near the end of the track giving the track what it needed to be filled. “ANOTHER YEAR IN THE SHADOWS” is that song you hear on most records that is the ‘arena rock’ type song, but for myself, I always love those type of songs and Telle used his entire vocal range on this track. “GREATEST ALMOST” is a hard punch song with Telle’s vocal range and high tone guitar riffs, but if you’re a fan of, Dark Matter, you will love the tracks, “THANK YOU,” “K.F.” and “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II).”
“THANK YOU” has some guitar riffs that you hear from hit songs from the Dark Matter record, but what ties the song together is Telle’s vocal projection into his screams. As for “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II),” I was very skeptical for the track as I loved the song, “Misery,” a non-album single from 2017. Trying to make a sequel to a track can go great or terrible. I think The Word Alive made a great track as that intro to, “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II).” It gave me goosebumps with that hard-hitting chorus and very great guitar riffs within the track. I believe, “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II),” could’ve been its own track rather than a sequel to, “Misery.”
“K.F” is a very enjoyable track in my mind from the band. Amazing screams and more great guitar riffs. “BURNING YOUR WORLD DOWN” and the records title track, “MONOMANIA” tie this whole record together. With some of the harder guitar riffs on the record as well with Telle’s passion in his vocals, with another catchy chorus, it makes them great tracks. “COMFORT & CHAOS” is a very different song on the whole record for sure. That outro tied that song together in my mind with Telle’s clean vocals and that acoustic guitar. “I’M SORRY YOU’RE SORRY NOW” sounds like a b-side to something off, Violent Noise. I prefer something new or something with more “grab” than something that sounds like it was made for a previous release.
Finally, it all comes down to the final track, “DEATH IS ONLY THE END IF YOU ASSUME THE STORY IS ABOUT YOU.” A long song title for sure, but they played around with the soft tones of the band and with the fast hard type of song, along with a very punchy bass. “DEATH IS ONLY THE END IF YOU ASSUME THE STORY IS ABOUT YOU” goes full metal closer to the end of the track to deliver one final blow to end it off right.
The Word Alive put together another good piece of work with, MONOMANIA, for fans that thought that the, Violent Noise record wasn’t heavy enough, this record is for you. As this record was bouncing all over the place between metalcore, post-hardcore, and alternative metal. I think for the next record they have to pick one side of their sound, either go full on heavy, or show their lighter side.
The Los Angeles based rock band, BRKN LOVE, fronted by the twenty one year old, Toronto vocalist and guitarist, Justin Benlolo, have released their self titled debut eleven track effort, BRKN LOVE. Justin’s music career began shortly after he dropped out of high school at sixteen years of age with the encouragement of his friends and family and flew to New York City. Over the years of honing his craft in music while in NYC, he eventually went on to move to Los Angeles and form what is now, BRKN LOVE.
“All I could ever focus on was being on stage, screaming into a microphone, and playing my guitar in a rock and roll band for the world to hear,” says vocalist Justin Benlolo.
BRKN LOVE’s debut album was produced by Joel Hamilton (Highly Suspect and Pretty Lights), which is a full circle type of occurrence for Justin and his band. BRKN LOVE was formed out of the emergence of bands in the likes of, Royal Blood and Highly Suspect, to name a few. These said bands were what inspired Justin to go forward with this project. Justin draws influence from other acts as well from, Led Zeppelin to Soundgarden as well, which can be heard throughout the band’s eleven tracks.
The album was recorded entirely live to tape to capture the band’s pure essence that flows within their sound and in their relatable and emotional lyrics. The band formed just last year in early 2019 and while still being relatively new to the music scene, the band have taken the United States by storm with a handful of tours and festival appearances under their belt.
Justin Benlolo and BRKN LOVE, tackle the lyrical subjects of love and loss on their debut self titled record. Perfect subject matter for an album released on Valentine’s Day. Throughout the eleven tracks on the album, Justin Benlolo speaks on his experience of love and loss of loss in various forms in friendships, significant others, and so forth. Despite the theme of love/loss, the entire album’s track list is full of upbeat, fast rock anthems, with a drizzle of a couple of slower rock ballads, that are all in their own ways, very well emotionally driven by Justin Benlolo’s lyrics.
The album opens up right out of the gate with the rock anthem, “I Can’t Lie,” a song about a friend who stabbed Justin in the back for no reason whatsoever. It sets the tone for the remaining ten tracks. The immediate second that Justin plays his first note on guitar and those vocal harmonies hit, a rush of electricity hit me. You can feel the true genuine, raw power of the song as if you’re in the room with the band as they were performing it live to tape. Effectively getting the true feel of the album as it was intended it, with no editing to the tracks in any shape or form.
“Shot Down,” has one of the most massive sounding guitar riffs on the entire album with Justin belting out the lyrics on top of it all. However this track is full of sexual innuendos, but take the track as you will. As Justin states, “It can be interpreted as a massive disaster song;” “My heart doesn’t bleed for you / I’m a dire wolf, gonna see it through / How long till your legs give out / Gonna be hard times, there will be no doubt.”
On the track, “Papercuts,” Justin’s falsetto shines bright throughout while tackling the topic of returning to a former lover, when you know it’s better not to; “You’re just a drug I love to take / You make me sick, I love the taste / Another wound I can’t keep shut / Another one, another papercut.”
The self titled album comes to a climax with the track, “In Your Hands.” The track is “an ode to life, that we’re going to ride the universe’s wave without worrying,” says vocalist, Justin Benlolo. Notably the song features one of the most remarkable vocal performances on the eleven tracks from vocalist, Justin Benlolo.
In conclusion, BRKN LOVE has a little something for every rock fan. Some catchy rock anthems throughout the album, a slight amount of slower rock ballads mixed between, quite the amount of tracks with a faster tempo, and most importantly, the guitars on the album remain consistently heavy for the duration of the album.
“The name represents who I am,” Justin leaves off. “You can honestly be a hopeless romantic and play tough music. Most of the lyrics deal with love and loss. That’s the vibe. You can share your feelings and still rock your face off at the end of the day. It’s what I’m going to do.”
Upon hearing Senora May’s debut album, Lainhart, a few things will be made clear. For one, there’s no hunk of cheese big enough to coax her into the Rat Race. What she wants instead is a life outside the cage where she can stretch her legs and let her soul wander. Senora touches on this and more in her romantic album about life.
Not to be missed are the songs “Elusive,” “By My Lonesome,” and “Lainhart.” Written for a loved one who finds freedom only in reverie, the title track is sung like a letter from home. The bouncing tune reminds Lainhart of being “back in these hills every night in your dreams/ Shovelin’ hog shit while ya sing.” This song is meant to bring someone home, if only for the few minutes it takes to listen to.
At the midway point is “California King,” a stand out track both aesthetically and lyrically. Senora tells the story of love’s radiance fading to the ashes of nothing as cold stares turn to cold shoulders and quiet goodnights give way to the sharp click of the lights going out. As the years have passed, what was once the pain of loss has receded into a deeper understanding of what was and what is meant to be. Her pain has become hindsight understanding as she sings “I can’t even tell ya how we got this far, nor can I navigate the sea without a single star/ But I am the sun and I need no Goddamn moon.” The song ends with the same lines that began it; “There’s an ocean between us, calm as the eye of a storm/ Words won’t break it and tears won’t even cause a ripple.”
If you can’t hear the warbling of those first notes at the outset of “Only Want You,” you’ll need to add volume accordingly. This is a song that one can lean into like a drug when the other half of their heart flies across the country. Senora howls along with the wail of coyotes and together they are a tangled harmony of lovesick desertion. “The coyotes outside are singin’ my song” she says of the lonesome hillside anthem, bringing listeners to the solitude of wherever it is Senora sings her heart out from.
Senora May glows throughout this album, coming across to listeners as sweet, loving, and not to be fucked with. She embodies her own beautifully distinct and poetic fashion of interpreting life through music. Despite her past struggles she has found true happiness which flows at an unfreezable depth. She doesn’t mind being left alone, either, and she’d probably rather you left, anyways.