Chris Eves and The New Normal are a Syracuse, New York based Rock-Jam act. I recently reviewed their debut album ‘Find Your Way.’ I was immediately impressed with this unique blend of Alternative-Rock, Jam and Pop and wanted to share with my readers. While most of Chris Eves and The New Normal fans are from the northeast, they are looking to broaden their audience. If you haven't heard of Chris Eves and The New Normal yet, check them out on spotify or #1 on the Reverbnation International Jam Charts. https://open.spotify.com/artist/5cJA9GZa8d5yduDZ0dCxtu?autoplay=true&v=A
From the opening song “Remember To Forget,” I was intrigued at the depth and quality of this album and the band that recorded it. “Remember To Forget” has powerful vocal qualities from Chris Eves and a hard progressive riff that takes this song into Jam territory. I will say that this song is my favorite out of the entire album and makes for a great first track. This song captivates its listeners and draws them, inviting further exploration.
“Walking On Wire” keeps the great vocal qualities going; something that can be severely lacking, specifically in the Jam world. This songs approach is more alternative-rock based but is fun and catchy with lyrics like, "maybe you and me are always walking on a wire, and with every step it seems we are only getting higher.” This sentiment is heartfelt and a great example of the writing techniques used on this album. I could see this song being used in a larger capacity and it also has some viable commercial value.
Another song that caught my attention was the title track of this album ‘Find Your Way” that begins with a clear and precise guitar intro from Jay Lock, solo guitarist for The New Normal. This song would be a great live track and could allow for some extreme improvisation on stage; in the interview below we discuss walking the line between improv and structure. "You got to be just a little bit crazy to make it through another normal day," are some of the most poignant lyrics within this album and shows the open-minded feeling that this band represents.
Again, Chris Eves and The New Normal take a different approach to their sonic sound with “The Chains You Wear” and go more alt-country with a heavy slide riff laid over the track. The lyrical qualities remain remarkable, compared to today’s pop country landscape and make this song original and different than a lot of the Southern Rock-Country bands but still very reminiscent of the Black Crowes or even, The Zac Brown Band.
“Fall” is another song that gets stuck in my head and the driving guitar makes me want to hear an exploratory and long solo, the only thing I think is missing from this recording. Drummer Sean Benz, highlights this track with impressive musicianship and keyboardist Mike D’Ambrosia plays a pivotal role in not only this song but the entire album adding rousing piano licks wherever he can. “Fall” uses Classic Rock chord structures and melodies to make the sound relatable but still remains original and imaginative.
“The New Normal” and “Flown Away” accentuate the final tracks on this album and stay steady and slow throughout. They are both good choices and well recorded, something that stands out when listening to this album in my headphones. Mike Spardaro holds it down on bass throughout the entire length of this recording but can really be felt in the backbeat at the end of this album.
While the album ‘Find Your Way’ doesn't necessarily break any rules, it does find new and interesting ways to combine song structures and heartfelt lyrical connections. This album is very relatable to many musical listeners and Chris Eves and The New Normal seamlessly integrate many genres of music from Jam to Alt-Rock. I believe ‘Find Your Way’ is a great platform for this band to build upon and grow exponentially. Below is a short interview with Chris Eves himself where we discuss this latest album and the future evolution of The New Normal.
Interview with Chris Eves From Chris Eves and The New Normal:
RA-Can you describe your sound, or what genres have influenced you as you wrote and recorded ‘Find Your Way’?
CE-Our sound is the sum total of the influences and personal style each member brings to the table. We all have very diverse influences and approach the music from unique vantage points. Everything from: Grateful Dead, Nine Inch Nails to Jazz greats like, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, have shaped our collective sound. One unifying band we all grew up listening to and seeing live is Phish. They were definitely the catalyst for us wanting to play improvised music. I think the five of us though, strive to go beyond our influences and are always trying to cultivate our own unique voice individually and collectively. Jay, for example, is a very different guitarist than I am and certainly has a very unique voice that’s all his own. A lot of times he’ll play something that inspires me to do something completely different than I would have otherwise. Especially in improvised music, each band member’s voice really comes through and steers the direction of the sound.
RA-The transitions and song structures in songs like, “Remember To Forget” sounds very jammy, much like moe. or some of the other progressive Jam bands from the North East. Has this musical landscape shaped your musical evolution?
CE-Absolutely. I grew up in Central New York where moe. is from and we listened to them a lot. Chuck from moe.’s sister was our high school Spanish teacher. I’ve always been a fan of progressive music that has written out sections and jam sections, and that’s able to weave it all together into a story. The Dead tunes like, Terrapin or Help/Slipknot/Franklins, were always my favorite. moe. also inspired me to write in that direction for sure. It’s pretty cool to now be in the band Floodwood with Vinnie from moe. after listening to them for so many years.
RA-What does the New Normal mean to you?
CE- I think it’s just a mantra to be yourself. It’s for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t fit in or been a little left of center. Normal is just a point of view and just because you might be weird according to someone else, that shouldn’t stop you from being authentic and living the life that makes you happy. Weirdos are always welcome with us!
RA-What have been some of your greatest musical accomplishments to date?
CE-I’ve been lucky to have a lot of musical accomplishments in my career. Some of the personal highlights are sitting in with the Zac Brown Band at SPAC and jamming with Jon Fishman live.
RA-Any plans for summer festivals or tours?
CE-We are working on both right now and are looking forward to announcing some soon
RA-While it is hard to add layers of improvisation to studio albums, does your band stick to the song structures or improvise live?
CE-We try to strike a balance between playing the song and jamming. In the studio, for this record, I was happy that we were able to capture a lot of our jams. “Remember to Forget”, “Find your Way”, and “Fall” were all one take. When we’re live every night is different and we’re still evolving in the way we improvise. Some nights we want to play “Green and Blue” completely structured as a stand-alone song, and some nights it turns into a 20 minute funk jam. I think we’ve just started scratching the surface of where our jams can go and that’s exciting.
RA-Can you explain your lyrical process? Who writes the songs or is it a collective environment?
CE-For this record, I wrote all the Lyrics and it’s the toughest part for me. I just try to write down thoughts on a particular subject independently of the music so I’m not locked into a specific structure at first. When I’ve got a good amount of material, I start trying to play music that fits the ideas and hopefully get the puzzle pieces to fit. I try to be open to lyric ideas all the time so, I keep a bunch of notes in my phone just in case I think of something while I’m out for a run or grocery shopping or, whatever.
RA-Many bands that relate themselves with Jam music walk the line between different genres. How do you see yourselves adding a unique aspect to the Jam world.
CE- I hope that even though we extend our songs live, that they are still relatable to everyone. The song always comes first for us and it should stand alone as catchy and meaningful. We also try to put a lot of attention into the vocals and harmonies. I think that emphasis on songwriting and vocals gives us a unique aspect.
RA-What are your future goals and how do you think you will evolve to get there?
CE-Our short-term goals are to keep writing, recording, and evolving our live show. Playing for more people and extending our touring are also a priority. I think it just takes a lot of hard work and a high level of commitment. We live music 24/7 so it’s more a journey than a single goal we set for ourselves that’s off in the distance.
RA-Any crazy band/road stories you would like to share with us? (Anything goes)
CE-Honestly we’re pretty chill and not too crazy. Our drummer Sean usually finds a casino after the show and we hear about how much money he won the next day. We never hear about how much money he loses though…
Thanks Again to Chris Eves and The New Normal,
He quickly rose to the top of The “ Reverb Nation” UK hit-list thanks to a fantastic Debut at the O2 Academy and his two hit music videos “Free” and “I’m not afraid”.
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Rock is always on a constant to find a band to make us stand up and listen - Please step forward Blue Helix! They are a melodic/grunge rock band from Washington State, USA and Sao Paulo, Brazil formed in 2008 by the talented vocalist Sami Chohfi. The other band members are Arman Birang (Guitar), Marco Bicca ( Drums) and Brandon Wolf Gebhardt ( Bass).
The band’s sound replicates all the mechanisms of 90’s rock with it’s powerful choruses, distorted riffs and relatable lyrical content. Blue Helix recently released a follow up to the successful A Tale Of Two Halves with latest EP Anti-social Butterfly, Available via itunes, Spotify, Soundcloud etc .
The album begins with the self-titled track with an anti- bullying message as powerful as the vocal lines that strike like a venomous snake. Chohfi’s sneers reverberate around a driving rythm that bounces with each tenacious drumbeat. The foot stomping riff has all the hallmarks to break the mainstream rock charts.
Enemy delves into the band’s more melodic arsenal with another evocative message. This track about self- loathing is replete with power chords that bridge a catchy pop hook. Lyrics about social anxieties and battling demons work a treat for the band because it is accessible to listeners who relate through an emotive narrative that is told through a versatile vocal range .
Despair is a short and effective interlude that clock in with over a minute. A dark and haunting track with atmospheric electronics that feels like a man alone revealing his inner struggles to a public audience.
This Tragedy Despair is a beautiful and melancholic look at global affairs that sees the band’s sound evolving not only through the aforementioned impressive vocal ranges, but through lead guitarist Birang’s ability to construct harmonic riffs that builds to an intense solo that feels like the music is soaring higher and higher. This Tragedy Despair goes into this tragedy as an intro. The song was written about a horrible flight I was on that hit horrible air and many of us on the plane thought we were going to crash. The 0xygen masks fell down and people were screaming. I wrote those two songs referring to all the thoughts going through my head in that time of crisis.
Runaways is another hard rock track that delivers heavily distorted guitars and bone shattering breakdowns . The musicianship impresses with transitions from low tuned power chords and melodic verses that builds a monstrous chorus that shares are not too similar to SOAD vocalist Serj Tankian. The rhythm section of bassist Wolf and Drummer Bicca intensity creates a more refined sound to the band’s depth.
The EP closes with the commercially viable Anodyne which is a love song for music. A pop fused journey that venture into radio territory with its multi layered keyboards and guitar hooks wraps up an enjoyable outing for the group. The polished production and musical craft proves Blue Helix have the ingredients to succeed.
Sami Chohfi wrote and recorded all the songs. Anodyne lead Guitar was written by Arman Birang. This Tragedy was written by Sami Chohfi.
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You can access Blue Helix via several social accounts;
https://www.bluehelixmusic.com/ is professionally designed for fans to get insight into each member’s bio, Album’s lyrics, latest news, tours and videos.
https://www.facebook.com/BlueHelixMusic/ features band photos, event updates, a community section for fans , posts.
https://twitter.com/bluehelixmusic features latest tweets on concerts, news, videos, media.
https://www.instagram.com/bluehelixmusic/ a collection of colourful and intimate images of the band in concert.
The Afro Nick Song And Album Review
Having opened up to experiencing new albums, new music and doing diverse musical reviews, The Afro Nick album came to me and while it's not right up my alley musically, I wanted to give it a go and try something new. The Afro Nick is heavily influenced by the deities of Rock and Roll like: Hendrix, Zeppelin Bob Marley, and Santana. The Afro Nick came to New York City from Greece, and has been playing various gigs in the US and abroad.
The Afro Nick’s most recent single "Get There Before Noon" is raw and emotional. (Available online goo.gl/ZYQJYm) This was my first time listening to The Afro Nick and I wasn't sure what to expect. It turned out to be my favorite. It is emotional and poignant and well performed and recorded, the lyrics inspiring to those who wish to listen. It takes you into high-energy ride down the highway, a sense of nothing to loose but the road and life left behind. It is a great introduction into what The Afro Nick has to showcase and it reminded me of The Black Angels or something in that realm of musical delivery.
The self titled album, (Available on Amazon dld.bz/d7wmc) The Afro Nick starts off with hard rock, driving guitar riff that make you immediately think of classic rock staples from the 1960s-70s. The Afro Nick’s vocals stand out and are original and stylistically unique, adding character to each song. This is a well-produced salbum with great musical structures and backing vocals. "Like Movie Stars" takes a hard turn into more Lou Reed inspired accents but stays fairly hard and keeps its rustic feel. The chorus reminds me of many classic 60s songs including that authentic tambourine shaking in the background. This song offers chanting lyrics that seem to get stuck in your head. Singer Britanny Foushee makes a haunting vocal appearance giving it a smooth and soulful character.
"You and Me" delves deeper into the soul and psyche of The Afro Nick, with lyrics that are very revenant and thought provoking. There is almost a Socio-political message with Afro Nicks lyrics but they are more informative than that, they are spiritual, while still remaining earthly. The influence from Classic Rock artists from the 1960s-70s is clear and defined within this song and its musical structures. Good instrumental solos on guitar with clear and precise intent. "Sunny" is exactly as the name suggests, happy, fun and warm, reminiscent of the musician’s Greek background; a cheering anthem to the uninhibited and stress free life.
"Ta Too Ta" starts off strong with distorted guitar chords and reverberated vocals. This song certainly has a clear message and you have to really listen to get the meaning. “Ta Too Ta” juxtaposes the lyrical theme of money and it's hardships. Nice vocal break down at the end. "Dream Big" again has a social message, which reminds me of Bob Marley and his lyrical choices in the past. The Afro Nick takes the listener on a soul-searching journey through question after question. "Make It" is the medical remedy for those hard rock fans. With its anti-establishment and anarchist tones, the beats are fast paced and extremely edgy with inspirational undertones.
"It's You" is Classic Rock driven but the breakdown are more grunge-punk style. This song blasted through my speakers and is one of the best-mixed songs on the entire album. Great guitar work and rock structures. "Free Like Me" was the next song on the album and again we see the same thematic approach to lyrics and meaning. This song is liberating for those who seek it. "Don't Waste My Time" closes out the lyrical portion of this album and I think it's a great closing choice. The vocal arrangement is much like David Bowie in the vocal strength and ability. “Here, Just For Tonight" is an apt ending to close out the album leading the listeners into instrumental plays.
All around, The Afro Nick is original and creative and the lyrics resonate with the audience. This album would sell very well internationally and with today's economic, social and political activism playing a huge role in societal formatting, The Afro Nick’s message would give strength to those who wish to make changes not only within themselves but in the world around them. You can check out more of The Afro Nick here and catch a live performance if you can! Also, if you are a musician or a band consider hiring him to produce your Album! The Afro Nick LLC recently produced Didi DLicious that you can check here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3y5roGwm8Z3PNuiBAhOYNe
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