Vanna

Sometimes, the road can actually feel like home for a band. It's only natural as the bulk of a musician's time is spent traversing the globe and playing countless cities in something of a whirlwind. Within that flurry, you'll come across some genuine characters. In turn, they become a part of your story, enriching it with their own quirks and nuances. Vanna singer Davey Muise likes to think of those folks as The Few and the Far Between.

In addition to serving as the title for the group's fourth album and sophomore full-length for Artery Recordings/Razor & Tie, the phrase holds very a special significance for the vocalist.

"All of those people who have affected our lives on the road are The Few and the Far Between," he explains. "They make us who we are. We joke around that we wish we could compile all of them in one city and live there forever."

Instead of building a colony together, those denizens of the road served as a thematic inspiration for the Vanna's latest album. In the midst of 2012's marathon tour cycle, the band began laying down ideas for what would eventually become their next offering. Adding a mobile rig to their bus, the quintet—Muise, Joel Pastuszak [lead guitar, clean vocals], Nick Lambert [guitar], Shawn Marquis [bass], and Eric "Rabbit" Gross [drums]—tirelessly wrote and demoed while touring.

Coming back home to Boston in November, they retreated to a vacation house in sleepy Cape Cod Massachusetts to spend a week on pre-production in isolation.
"We got a bunch of groceries and locked ourselves away in this house," he recalls. "The beach was pretty much abandoned because everybody had left after summer. The album was born on the road, and we really fine-tuned everything during that one week."

Armed with an arsenal of songs, they recorded at Boston's Getaway Studios with producer Jay Maas, who helmed their first release for Artery Recordings, 2010's The Honest Hearts EP. In less than a month, The Few and the Far Between had come to life with claws out and teeth sharpened.

Fusing together bloodthirsty vocal delivery with succinct and striking riffing, Vanna temper post-hardcore intensity with a rock 'n' roll gallop, charging down their own lane. The first single, "Year of the Rat", volleys between Muise's lyrical reflection and volatile rhythms. It's the best way to meet The Few and the Far Between.

"That song is about feeling like you have no direction," he reveals. "I was really confused during my early twenties. As you get older, things start to make a little more sense. I'm 28 now. I got married last year, and things really came together for me. I feel like I know who I am, but it took years of being incomplete. There's an idea that people die every five years. This is about the year I died and was reborn. In 2012, I became a completely different person and changed for the better."

Heavy music is rarely this ponderous. Elsewhere, "A Thin Place" rails against religion with a pummeling groove and vitriolic lyrics like, "Hey God, it's me again. What have you done? Where the fuck have you been?"

Meanwhile, "Please Stay" ruminates on being away from home with a choir of voices including hometown friends Rachel Quarell and Adam Toomey. Former Scars of Tomorrow singer Mike Milford adds a bit of brutality to "The Dreamer/The Thief/The Relic" and Ethan Harrison of Great American Ghost lends his voice to "I Said I'm Fine".

Still, this is very much Vanna at their most unbridled and unrestrained. "It's definitely a throwback to what started this whole thing," Muise continues. "It's fast, heavy, and fun. It's the record I feel like we've been trying to write for years. If you're going to get into Vanna on any album, this is the one. We're five guys who believe in this wholeheartedly."

That "belief" has been evident since day one though. In 2011, they unleashed the concept-driven And They Came Baring Bones. The record debuted at #8 on the Billboard New Artist Chart and #22 on the Hard Music Chart. Critical praise poured in from the likes of Alternative Press and AbsolutePunk. To date, they've sold in excess of 60,000 albums and performed on Warped Tour and alongside the likes of Every Time I Die.

Ultimately, everyone is welcome to be a part of The Few and the Far Between. "We don't have fans," concludes Muise. "We have friends. We love what we do and want people to experience it with us. We're all struggling going through the same shit together. No one is truly alone."

Heart To Heart

Since when is wearing your heart on your sleeve supposed to be a bad thing? Aren't we supposed to care about the life as it happens to us so that we can reflect on those events and even (gasp!) grow from them? Yeah, I know about irony, the death of irony, and the other sorts of postmodern philosophical ramblings bandied about by self-important cultural critics. If you're not going to get out there and actually live life a bit, then I say to hell with you and your ostentatious ideas that will never be put into practice in a real-time situation.

In direct response to your grand theorizing, I'd like to introduce you Heart To Heart. Self-described as, "a real band with real emotions about real problems," this Pismo Beach, California quartet has released a raw and blistering record entitled Deathproof. Produced by Kyle Black (New Found Glory, Set Your Goals, All Time Low), these three songs hearken back to those halcyon days when people gave a damn about their music and what that music could say. Calling to mind the music of Crime In Stereo, Northstar, Hot Water Music, and The Replacements, these four guys have made a fantastic punk record steeped in rootsy, blue-collar sensibilities. From the outset, the vocals of Nick Zoppo grab you by the shoulders, shake you around, and never let go. His tough growl serves as an excellent complement to the hard-knock-life lyrics about love, growing up, and standing up against adversity. I'm also a fan of John Hayes and his guitar work – the tones are bright enough to support his tidy licks, but there's plenty of teeth present for the big chugging sections. Lest I forget, the rhythm section of Justin Bratcher on bass and Stuart Stock on drums provide a sturdy foundation for the band's pacing and energy. "Recollections" kicks things off with a bang, complete with peppy pop-punk textures. On my favorite cut – "Requiem" – we're introduced to the hard-bitten Chuck Ragan side of the band's persona, and it goes a step further by dipping its toes into post-core territory. Yet, the project comes to a rollicking conclusion with "Lessons," a buzzy, kinetic anthem brimming with the sort of production values and vigor that display a track that's primed and ready for immediate inclusion on alternative rock radio (and that's meant as a sincere compliment). Deathproof was produced, engineered and mastered by Kyle Black (New Found Glory, Set Your Goals, All Time Low, Pierce The Veil) at Treefort Studios in Hollywood, CA in June of 2011.

The 3-song offering is the follow-up to Heart To Heart's 2010 self-released debut EP,Impressions, and was released on 7" and digital formats by Anchor
84 Records on October 4th, 2011. The vinyl is limited to a pressing of 500 on transparent black (250), transparent blue (150) and transparent gold (150) colorways. Since its inception in 2009, Heart To Heart has toured the U.S. several times and shared the stage with the likes of Senses Fail, The Ghost Inside, The Wonder Years, Man Overboard, Transit, The Story So Far, The Menzingers, A Loss For Words and many more.

Tired of pissy man-children whining about how life's so unfair, but they can't seem to actually do anything about their plight? Weary of the vague, dreamy platitudes of the hipster-branded act of the moment? Then you should really give the music of Heart To Heart a dedicated listen. Deathproof might not be evidence of some nifty new micro-genre that's going to generate a shit-ton of blog hits, but these songs will definitely remind you that it's good to feel things, feel them often, and truly do something about them. And isn't that what ballsy punk rock should be about?

Set to Stun

SET TO STUN is a three-piece sci-fi-post-hardcore band from Southern California. Without the limitations of genre, their music and high energy live show has gathered a devoted cult following. Tour experience has included playing main stages at festivals across the country such as South By So What, Unsilent Night, and even spots on Vans Warped Tour.


They released their Dreamcatchers EP in July 2014. The tracks are part of their upcoming full-length concept album, chronicling the adventures of Billy "The Kid" King, a time-traveling vigilante and last surviving member of the faction, "The Desperado Undead". Upon his journeys through time he meets his nemesis Captain Jack "The Ripper" Trips, reincarnations of his love interest, genies, demons, pirates, gun slingers, and the incarnations of evil itself.

SET TO STUN signed with Tragic Hero Records in 2014.

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