You should always remember your past while continuing to look forward. This is the philosophy that Emarosa embraces on their third album. For the Lexington, KY rock band what has come before is important because it has shaped them as musicians, but their new album, Versus, is what will allow them to step into the future. The album was written over the past year and recorded with Brian McTernan in Baltimore between November and January, a process that was both difficult and cathartic.

Bradley Walden was enlisted as the group's new singer last July. The chemistry between the musicians was immediate, and Bradley, a fan before joining the band, tapped into Emarosa's sensibility quickly, ready to add his own ideas to the mix. The band, whose last album, Emarosa, came out in 2010, had a few new ideas when Bradley joined, but much of Versus was penned in the studio with Brian. The process allowed the musicians the opportunity to remember how to be band again, to become re-invested in the music they can make together.

"They had worked for so long without a singer, trying everything they could, and they forgot how to be a band in some ways," Bradley says. "It took us being stuck in the studio together for seven weeks with Brian to be a band again. The recording process was really hard. That doesn't mean that the songs aren't good, but it was stressful. After we left the studio and could step back and listen, we were so proud of it. We created something that represented the struggle the band has gone to the past three years and I'm excited to be part of that."

For Bradley, who shared lyric writing duties with ER, the songs are representations of the feelings he had at the time, revealing the musicians' mindsets in the moment. There is no overall theme or message, rather an expression of emotion released in the music. "I don't always know what the songs are about when I write them," he notes. "I just let it come out. So it's cohesive but it's open to interpretation. We want people to find their own meaning in the songs and relate them to their own lives."

The album's title, too, reflects Emarosa's experience over the past few years. The musicians have fought many battles, both eternally and against themselves. It represents an uphill battle that, in the end, the band has won. That victory is present in the music itself, whether on older-feeling tracks like "American Deja Vu" and "People Like Me, We Just Don't Play" or on tracks that resonate with a new aesthetic like "I'll Just Wait," a evocative, layered rock number that surges with anthemic release.

The group, which initially formed in 2006, is already back on tour with the new songs as well. Emarosa served as direct support for Chiodos this past spring, an experience that really solidified the new lineup. The enthusiastic support of the fans was encouraging for the musicians, who were reminded of just what makes Emarosa's connection with their audience so special and unique. Versus is about a struggle, but it's also about the victory of a new beginning, one that wipes the slate clean and allows them to start again. It's a comeback that indicates even greater things down the road.

"The band had to overcome a lot of doubt and pressure," Bradley says. "It's been Emarosa versus themselves, their past and their critics. These are the first songs we've ever written together and the songwriting is the best and most mature it's ever been. It's hard for me to say if it's the best record, but I do feel like it's the best possible record we could have made and it's the best step toward the future of the band. This record is the pressure, frustration and perseverance of the past three years. This is the future of Emarosa."

Too Close to Touch

Too Close To Touch are still in their infancy as a band, but the Lexington, Kentucky, quintet already have a clear understanding of the music they want to make and the message they hope to convey. Although their sound flows easily from alternative to theatrical rock to post-hardcore, one thing remains consistent from song to song: Each one leaves an impact. "We want it to hit hard, and not just in a music aspect, but meaning wise too. Every transition of song, every word, every note that's played, we want people to feel something from it," says vocalist Keaton Pierce. "There are no gaps in songs where we just throw something there because we need something to go there. Everything's carefully placed and planned to keep the listener entranced. We want it to be a different experience than just somebody listening to a record. It's a story that you tell. You have four minutes of someone's undivided attention to get a meaning and a message across however you choose to do that. We view music more as an opportunity."

Too Close To Touch, which also includes guitarists Mason Marble and Thomas Kidd, bassist Travis Moore and drummer Kenneth Downey, officially came together in late 2013, but its members have been playing together since 2012. In the past two years, they've focused on refining their songwriting and growing at their own pace, decisions that have no doubt paid off for them. "We take our songs really seriously," says Mason. "If we're not happy with something, it goes in the trash, and we start again. We just started keeping songs that we liked and writing more and more, and the more that we did it the more confident we became in the songs." Just as important to the band is their aesthetic. Taking cues from the 1975, Walk The Moon and the Neighbourhood, they've refined it to a look that's mixes indie and classic cool, all while remaining 100-percent them. Too Close To Touch began to grow in popularity thanks to their DIY work ethic, buzz on social media and impressive demos, which caught the eyes (and ears) of Epitaph founder Brett Gurewitz.

The band, who already have tours with Emarosa and A Lot Like Birds under their collective belt, will release their full-length debut in early 2015. However, longtime fans and first-time listeners will be able to get a taste of their new material when their self-titled EP is released digitally Oct. 21. From the fast-paced rock opener "The Deep End" which showcases Keaton's varied vocal range to "Perfect World" with its biting verses and sing-along ready chorus to the powerful, emotionally raw closer "You Won't Listen," it's clear Too Close To Touch have found the one thing many bands spend years searching for: balance. Dark and light. Soaring vocals and guttural screams, dark lyrical content and pop-ready melodies. All combine to create a sound that is unique and exciting yet relatable. "Every song has its own personality and its own emotions to it," Mason says. "If you're looking at a picture or watching a movie, you feel a certain way. We really want to bring out all the emotional aspects of our songs." Adds Keaton, "First impressions are everything. You've really got to kick the door down and really have that explosive start."

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