Review Rundown: Man Made Machine, Electric Valentine, Girl on Fire, Sanchez, Counting Crows


This edition of the Review Rundown offers looks at five new releases from Man Made Machine, Electric Valentine, Girl on Fire, Sanchez, and the Counting Crows.

File Under: Hard Rock
Man Made Machine – Become (Razor & Tie): This just in, Man Made Machine are coming to an arena near you, at least they will be soon with their amped up, balls-out rockfest of a debut Become. Along the same lines as Burn Halo, both in sound and execution (there’s a smattering of Papa Roach and Rev Theory here too), Man Made Machine’s debut doesn’t waste time playing games or pulling punches and certainly doesn’t utilize any fancy studio tricks. Don’t believe the hype? Immediately flip to “Paranoid” to hear one of the better potential rock singles you’ve never heard. Become is anchored by one of the most blatant displays of testosterone-laden sonic baddassery you’ll ever hear in “Bad Motherfucker,” though throughout the course of this album the band is able to shift gears and hit the brakes a bit, tossing a few damaged and broken radio ready ballads (“Angels and Devils,” “Everything You Deserve”) into the sea of revved up, adrenaline fueled pump up tunes (“Nobody Love Me,” “See You In Hell”). Become doesn’t get bogged down in semantics – you know what you’re getting and you know what you’re in for after just one song, the hard-hitting opener “Liar and a Thief.”Become may be flawed and clichéd, but both of those daunting attributes are overshadowed by how fun a listen this record is. There’s potential here for sure – just give it a chance. (
Grade: B
Go Download: “Paranoid”

File Under: Promising Electro-Pop
Electric Valentine – The Fuse: Look out Cobra Starship because Electric Valentine is coming for you. Well, maybe not literally, but with their new album, the Fuse, this sparkling electro-duo are doing what you do, only better, and (criminally) without all of your mainstream success. The Fuse is a dazzling array of endless club-bangers and thumping dance floor necessities, and this album is so good that the band’s glitzy, gleaming take on the Supreme’s “You Keep Me Hanging On” isn’t the albums best cut, which is saying something, because there’s a good chance the next time you’re at a club you’ll be dancing along to this track, something that speaks to the Fuse as a whole. You can, and probably will, dance to each and every one of these cuts, beginning with the opening title track, which lays this duo’s cards all out on the table – tremendous, at times hypnotic, vocal interplay between members Chris Qualls and Lauren Baird, amidst a swirling storm of intoxicating beats, evocative, deep rooted rhythms and melodies so infectious you might regret listening to them in the first place. This is a running trend throughout the majority of the Fuse, though EV is quite capable and adept at switching up the game, and dabbling in experimentation, tossing in elements of progressive house (“G+F”), nu-disco (“Back on the Floor”), trance/synthpop (“Everyone You Know Is On Drugs”) and old school electronica (“Vertigo II”). Hell, the Bled’s James Munoz even stops by during the latter stages of the Fuse to deliver a pissed-off synthcore cover of Nirvana’s “Breed,” and by the time this noise hits your speakers, you’ll already be hooked. (
Grade: A-
Go Download: “Everyone You Know Is On Drugs”

File Under: Rock
Girl on Fire – Revenge EP (Hollywood Waste): Often, your sound as a band is shaped by the company you keep. When it comes to Girl on Fire however, this is definitely not the case though they share a label (Hollywood Waste) with a band like Vampires Everywhere!, they surely do not share the same sonic traits, evidenced by their latest release, Revenge. While it may only be an EP and a mere five tracks in length, Girl on Fire’s is attestation that this deserves a little slice of the pie that is the rock game. Sure, they may only be up and comers, promising ones at that, but this band seemingly know what they’re doing, and waste no time on their new EP to prove to you they have the chops to exist, though throughout this work you have to take the good with the bad. Revenge is bookended by the bands two strongest tracks, and two best representations of just what they are capable of, the opening title track and the closing “Close Your Eyes.” The former opens the EP with ardent aplomb via the employment of chugging guitar leads, lofty vocal work from frontman Austin Held and some admirable call-and-response moments, while the latter shows Girl on Fire has a pair with galloping guitars, and a hook that sound plucked from metalcore’s heyday. The rest of the EP however, while commendable, plays as mere filler between the albums two best tracks, with blatant radio attempt “Medicate” being the worst of the lot. Revenge shows GOF know how to write a good rock track, and down the road this could be a band you hear a lot more from. The building blocks are there. (
Grade: B-
Go Download: “Close Your Eyes”

File Under: R&B Reggae
Sanchez – Love You More (VP Records): After more than two decades doing what he does, soulful reggae crooner Sanchez is doing his part in giving back to the industry greats that have played a part in influencing his sound on his latest, Love You More, a collection of cover tunes that effectively pay homage to those who came before him. It’s easy to see here that Teddy Pendergrass played a pivotal role in Sanchez’s career, as two of his tracks see inclusion on Love You More (“Love TKO,” “In My Time”), though cuts such as the Isley Brothers “Caravan of Love” and the lesser known deep cut, the Temptations “More Love, Your Love,” suit Sanchez’s skill set a bit better. Ironically, it’s Sanchez’s muscular version of Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” that not only closes Love You More, but serves as the albums biggest surprise, as well as one of the albums’ more successful takes. Continuing his relationship with producer Donovan Germain was a great idea as the duo continues their successful run with Love You More, an album that shows Sanchez is more than just a singles artist – he can put together a solid full length as well. (
Grade: B
Go Download: “Right Here Waiting”

File Under: Live Nostalgia
Counting Crows - August and Everything After – Live at Town Hall (Eagle): For as good as the Counting Crows August and Everything After release is on wax, it is even better in a live setting, as evidenced by August and Everything After – Live at Town Hall, a recording that captures the bands first ever performance of their seminal album in full from the Town Hall in New York City. Now, rest assured, you’re not getting a trite cash grab of a live release – these songs aren’t performed to the letter as it were on August and Everything After – Live at Town Hall, something you’ll find out right away on the opening “Round Here,” as a portion of the track “Raining in Baltimore” is spliced in, and throughout the rest of August and Everything After – Live at Town Hall these songs are fleshed out and expanded with a number of improvisations tossed in from time to time. The bands spices things up towards the end on the penultimate “Ghost Train,” as things take a proggy turn thanks in part to a wonderful guitar solo from Dan Vickrey. This record is a tremendous way to transport back in time to 1993 when Counting Crows and August and Everything After were on top of the music world, and while listening to August and Everything After – Live at Town Hall, there’s no reason to think the band cant recapture that je ne sais quoi, that magic, that made them such a household name in the first place, one more time. (
Grade: B+
Go Download: “Rain King”