Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review of Hey Violet's "I Can Feel It"

I posted this review to the Sputnik Music web site 2 days ago.

Review Summary: This is an EP full of tasty pop punk from this mostly-female Los Angeles band.

Hey Violet is one of those bands that grew out of the ashes of another band. In this case, their predecessor was Cherri Bomb, a 4-girl Los Angeles-based band made up of four young teens, Julia Pierce (lead vocals and lead guitar), Miranda Miller (rhythm guitar, keyboard and vocals), Rena Lovelis (bass and vocals), and Nia Lovelis (drums and vocals). They released one somewhat successful LP in 2012, opened for bands like Bush, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins and Staind, and played at several European festivals. Then Pierce left the band over artistic differences, the band moved Rena Lovelis to lead vocals, they hired guitarist Casey Moreta (the first male to join the band), and renamed themselves Hey Violet. 

I Can Feel It was the first recording they released as Hey Violet. It's a 5-song EP. In comparison to Cherri Bomb, the music here is less hard rock and more pop punk. Lovelis does a good job as lead vocalist -- Pierce's voice sounds more trained, but Lovelis' voice is just as inviting, and she's perfectly capable of belting it on the faster, harder numbers. More importantly, there's a joy to the music here that was missing on the Cherri Bomb LP. Hey Violet are the cover band for this month's issue of Alternative Press, and according to the corresponding story, the main issue between Pierce and the rest of her bandmates was that all but Pierce wanted to move in more of a pop direction. The music they're making here feels and sounds like the music of a band making the music they want to make.

The standout track on the EP is the last one, "You Don't Love Me Like You Should". It's the fastest song on the album, and the punkiest. Although the lyrics tell the tale of a love gone wrong, the music is driving and upbeat in a way that makes you smile and tap your feet, especially on the chorus, as the Lovelis sisters and Miller chirp "You better wake up soon and realize/Cause I feel misunderstood/You don't love me like you should/You don't love me like you should!" This one actually made my Top 20 Songs of 2015 list, both for its energy and its fun factor.

My second favorite track is "Can't Take Back the Bullet". This one is a mid-tempo number about regret after breaking off a relationship. It's another song with a strong chorus: "All bets off/Once the gun goes off/Cause you can't take back/Take back the bullet". The guitar riffs on this one are a little more classic rock than punk. The title track, "I Can Feel It", another driving rock number, is also a winner.

Since releasing I Can Feel It, Hey Violet hired a new bass player, Ian Shipp, and released a second EP, Brand New Moves, which moves them even further in the pop rock direction. 2017 will be a big year them, with their AP cover story and a new full-length album on the way. I'm hoping it will be a good one, but I'll keep enjoying their I Can Feel It EP either way.

Rating: 4/5 stars