Inhaler is a robust, energetic, up-and-coming indie-alternative band straight out of the lush musical depths of Dublin, Ireland. Having released their relatively successful debut album “It Won’t Always Be Like This in the summer of 2021 (spawning successful radio hits such as “My Honest Face” and “When It Breaks”), music critics and indie fans alike were both surprised and delighted when the band announced yet another upcoming album “Cuts And Bruises” partway through 2022.
Inhaler’s most forthright claim to fame is their lead singer’s rich musical heritage. Elijah Hewson is the lead singer and guitarist of the outfit and is also the oldest son of Paul and Ali Hewson. Paul Hewson is also known professionally as Bono, the frontman of U2.
“Cuts and Bruises” reflects upon Inhaler’s masterful amalgamation of their country of origin and their musical genre. While their sound is ostensibly American- and British- tinged with its chimed, distorted “indie” color, the band also undoubtedly channels the Irish scrappiness and soulfulness that other bands such as Thin Lizzy and Inhaler’s natural godfathers U2 harnessed so well. Hewson’s lyrics are in many ways very reminiscent of his father’s, with their carefully elected and oriented phrases and curiously insightful and relatable themes.
The album kicks off with the absolutely suberb mid-tempo track Just To Keep You Satisfied, an 80s-shaded power pop piece with gorgeous layered reverbed guitar intricacies, punchy, driving drums, and some immensely articulated yet poignantly catchy lyrics from the pen of Hewson.
Following this banger of an opener is the equally impressive Love Will Get You There, the album’s lead single and the band’s largest radio single to date. Starkly simple in its construction, the song’s softly saturated instrumentation and candid, optimist lyrics distinctly reflect the band’s discrete Irishness and subtle yet very much present U2 influence.
Continuing on with the strong, up-tempo pop vibe, the album’s third track So Far So Good combines moody, ponderous lyrics with some deliciously crispy guitar tones in the chorus.
Widely hailed as the chief commercial and artistic success of the album, fourth track These Are The Days hearkens the band to a Phil Spector-esque galloping wall of synths and distortion. With exciting, nearly nostalgic lyrics about living your best life in your youth, this definite college-age oriented anthem deserves all the praise it receives.
Altering the vibe a bit is the fifth track If You’re Gonna Break My Heart, a surprisingly poignant and heartfelt ballad about an unfortunate (hopefully imagined) breakup. The song also showcases some brilliant guitar tone by the lads – the very mid-boosted, Fender tremolo effects create a powerful soundscape for Hewson’s introspective lyrical points of reflection, reminiscence, and regret.
The album furthers on its strong pace with a trio of well-made, solid mid-album transition songs. Perfect Storm is as much of a paradox as its title suggests, with its haunting echoing background vocals, distorted organs, and equally ominous lyrics about conflict and impending heartbreak. Following this unsettling tension is Dublin In Ecstasy, admittedly in my opinion the weakest song on the album. While nevertheless a great tune about the exhaustive nature of the Irish urban party culture, the song suffers by being very reminiscent of a few of the earlier mid-tempo songs from the record. Thankfully, the absolute banger When I Have Her On My Mind pulls the listener out of this metaphorical musical rut with its blistering tempo, brilliant ambient production, and tastefully catchy hook and chorus.
The final three songs of the album end the album on a beautifully intriguing artistic adventure through style and genre. Driven by marvelous, growling bass work by Robert Keating, Valentine presents the listener to a slower, at times acoustically driven ballad which leads to a brighter, pleading chorus of hope and lost love. The Things I Do is the most artistically contrasting and tonally distinct song of the entire album, with its drum-machine driven rhythm section and wonderfully warm, strongly presented string section leading the charge. Albeit underrated, the song is as brilliant as it is unique, truly serving as one of the centerpieces in my opinion of the band’s career thus far. Surprisingly, the album’s ultimate track Now You Got Me is the dirtiest, fuzziest, most aggressively rock-oriented track on the entire record, forcefully and masterfully bringing this delightful album to its proper-deserved, satisfying conclusion.
Best Track: “Just To Keep You Satisfied” – exceedingly memorable and a masterful example of modern indie production. Hewson’s lyrics are wise beyond his years (very reminiscent of his father) yet also remaining definitely danceable and delightfully catchy.
Worst Track: “Dublin In Ecstasy” – As previously mentioned, the track is quite similar to previously played tracks on the record and does little to make it unique or worthwhile.
Album rating: 8.7/10
I didn’t expect much from this record, initially largely tossing it off as overhyped promotional propaganda utilizing Bono’s family name for career clout.
Simply put, I could not have been more wrong. Hewson is undoubtedly forming his own artistic image through the songs and lyrics in this album. While it is ostensibly Irish and unquestionably U2-tinged, the album demonstrated to be a rare example of modern musical brilliance in an increasingly saturated and overhyped indie scene. Top quality job by these incredibly talented young musical phenoms. I, along with the band’s ever-increasing throngs of dedicated followers and fans, am eagerly anticipating their next release!
Ego Mechanics is an alternative rock duo located in Chicago featuring Seth Arp on guitar and vocals, and Jonathan Ross on drums. The band came together after Seth moved to Chicago about three years ago and made a post on Craigslist looking for somebody to start a band with. Jonathan responded, and the two exchanged emails for a while. Then, Seth went to go meet Jonathan at his house and the two formed a great connection and made an awesome band.
They had thought of about 150 possible names for the band but decided on the name Ego Mechanics. The name comes from a lyric in the song “Potion Approaching” by Arctic Monkeys; a band which has heavily impacted them both. Individually, Seth has a lot of musical influences from The White Stripes and early 2000s indie rock, while Jonathan has influences from 70’s punk and 90’s grunge. The band is rooted mostly in blues-rock but has expanded to include alternative rock and punk rock.
Currently, the band is working on a new EP. This has been in the works since April 2018 and will tentatively be ready by Summer 2019. Seth is excited for the album to come out because the band has grown and expanded their sound since their last EP that was released in 2016. The band’s favorite song to play comes from this album and is called “Rubik’s Cube.” Seth describes it as the most punk rock song they’ve done and has a lot of fun interactions between the two band members. Once the album is released, listeners can expect to be impressed by two people making such a big and impressive sound.
Ego Mechanics plays primarily in smaller, more intimate venues in Chicago. However, they have also played at Summerfest, and even in Orlando, Florida. They are currently working to branch out with hopes to do a small midwestern tour over the summer. But their ultimate goal for the band would be to tour around the country and the world and get to play at events like Lollapalooza or Coachella. Seth says that it’s always awesome when people want to talk to the band after a show, so they definitely have a great connection with their fans and audience.
If you want to interact with the band from home, check out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or website egomechanicsmusic.com. They’re also on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes and Google Play. With their awesome new album coming out, you don’t want to miss any updates from them!
Not many musicians or bands can make the prestigious Robert Plant question his musical abilities. Small town Michigan based foursome Greta Van Fleet does just that. Millennials have finally been awarded their equivalent of an ostentatious, thundering, and wildly fun rock and roll band. However, critics have been debating this claim since 2017. One cannot help but wonder if Greta Van Fleet is the second generation of Led Zeppelin or simply copycats. What they are viewed as is up to interpretation for whoever listens. The band comprises of vocalist Josh Kiszka, his brothers Jake and Sam on guitar and bass, as well as drummer Danny Wagner. All members appear as if they stepped out of a time machine dating back to the counterculture generation. The music community is torn between how the unique up and comers should be perceived. The current fans and future groupies view them as saviors of classic rock. Individuals who are critical of the old school musicians simply view them as four inexperienced boys who are playing dress-up in 70s garb.
The Kiszka brothers and Wagner are all blossoming with youthful energy and vast potential. They are walking and talking contradictions who are blowing the minds of their elders. They are a ragtag pack of youths with a developed and sophisticated sound. The oldest band members are only at the tender age of twenty-two. The band has been around since 2012 and achieved their level of success in a mere six years. The Kiszka’s exposure to their parent’s impressive record collection has highly influenced their aged sound. In 2017 they signed to Lava Records and are releasing their first full album in October. They have gained the attention of seasoned musicians such as Elton John, whom they have performed alongside with. Despite quickly rising the ranks of the music world, some believe Greta Van Fleet contributes little originality to the industry.
All bands will have their fair share confidence boosting approval and limb-shaking criticism. Feedback from both sides helps musicians develop their craft and grow as individuals. Gretta Van Fleet is a special gem in a pile of gravel, the gravel being oversampled and autotuned pop. Not many new bands possess the ability to stand out in our culture of dominant popular music. Those who claim the band lacks originality and diversity among their songs can preach their views until their heart gives out. In the end, Gretta Van Fleet belongs to our generation, they are our Led Zeppelin. They have the potential to reach the same level of success as the bands they embody in their music. Fifty years from now, they will evolve into the classic band young musicians idolize and grow up with.
– Jon B
Photo: Jon Gagner
A wise woman once said, who I met virtually, “… your early 20’s is like a secret second puberty that no one prepared you for.” This statement packs a wallop that would send the most confident twentysomething to their knees. These words were uttered (gracefully typed) by Eliza Hanson, an up and coming musician and realist from Milwaukee. Hanson’s EP, “Any Day Now,” delivers an existential tale of human emotions and dilemmas we all experience, but very few of us face head on. We all suffer through isolation, doubt, and even loathing of ourselves. We must ask: can I uncover a blue sky in the storm of my troubles? Can happiness exist without sadness? Am I my own worst enemy? Eliza Hanson does not shy away these inquires of self-reflection.
I just think being in your early 20’s is like a secret second puberty that no one prepared you for.